Wednesday, December 30, 2009

LOFT LIFE: On Death and Dying

OK, I have already raced through all the stages of grief, except maybe acceptance, and I have some comments--probably unrelated to grief, but oh well.

It seems that in addition to the mold-induced pneumonia, the radiologist spotted a spot, which he called a “NODULE” on my lung--not sure if it is right or left. So now my nightmares and bright outlook are in a deeper struggle for victory, and I am instructed to see a pulmonary specialist.

My call for prayer has resulted in emails from around the country, from family and friends who are all so loving, wise and responsive. Do you all know how much that means? Everything! For me, this is almost worth being sick, just to know how much love surrounds me--although no one has sent chocolate yet, which may be good, because I forgot to request the organic dark kind from the sustainable farms of the third world, or something like that. Not completely clear on this.

My daughter says she wishes she had cleaned the fridge, and after a crying jag of feeling overwhelming love, I assured her that I am sooo glad it was NOT her asthmatic self who had to do that awful, pneumonia-ridden task.

I have already made an appointment with Dr. G, the specialist, and even though I told him not to call unless I was dying, after he read my x-ray, he did call, hadn’t read the x-ray, and evidently didn’t know his call would send me into hyperspace. But, he called to answer my prior request of advice on how much activity was wise for a pneumoniac with a nodule. He said walk till right before I can’t breathe and don’t overdo, which as you will see in the next graph, is not easy for me to gauge being slightly OCD or something of that ilk.

My pastor also dropped by to pray for me, and after I showered, dressed, and frantically tried to convince my husband that we had to clean the house in the 20 minutes for our pastor to travel to us, I was told to sit down--kind of reminding me of my father ordering us girls to “light” as if we were bugs. Anyway, I obeyed--both times.

So, I will being seeing a specialist, I will be doing some light touring with Mic and Andy when they visit, and I can carry on with life, including chocolate (which is important, I tell you). It appears as if I may live, and since I am not dying (yet), this may curtail my getting all my wishes granted (I choose all the movies, we go to Italy soon, and I get to beat all my friends at Bejeweled). But at least I have you all, family and friends so loving and sweet to me. Who could ask for more than that? Except, maybe choc...OK, OK, I will stop with the hinting.

Tuesday, December 29, 2009

LOFT LIFE: Invasion of the Body Snatchers

Well the holidays being hard took on new meaning when I seemed to be sinking by Christmas eve at Greg and Marybeth’s. Fortunately, their friend, Deb, when she heard i had cleaned out the IL home freezer’s layer of black mold, insisted I get checked out and get on an antibiotic. Good thing I listened.

By the time I went to the doc, the day after Christmas, I developed full-fledged pneumonia. Now I ask you, is this fair? I get to fly back and forth to IL, do all the heavy lifting, clean the house (well with a lot of help from my amazing neighbor, Becky and her girls), tackle MOLD growing from October to December in a fridge I turned off, but forgot to open said door of, and then, just because I forget a silly thing like a face mask...well, the doc said it is mold-induced pneumonia.

So my bod has been bedridden for days, and I have practically missed all of Jay’s Christmas break, and hopefully will at least be better by the time Mic and Andy arrive.

Of course, my nightmares race through a montage of all the friends I know who have died of pneumonia, and I try to keep a bright outlook, but it is sometimes difficult.

They say the antibiotic makes its headway within 48 hours, but mine has taken 60. And, only today have I been well enough to pour my own pita chips onto a plate and spoon on some mango salsa. I think I figured out the cookies and the chocolates earlier, but they take so much less effort, and the motivation is so much greater--even if the nutritional values or lack of could have something to do with the 60 hour benefit vs. the 48. But who’s counting?

Anyway, I am not dead, and seem to be going to survive, and though I do feel like body snatchers invaded my holiday, I am thankful for God's faithfulness, good friends, good doctors, and chocolate. (Thought I would throw that in in case someone feels prone to cheer me up.) And, though "they" may snatch the body for a time, even holiday time, they cannot rob the spirit, in spite of nightmares, slow medications, and what not (I always wanted to say what not), because He who is in us is greater than he who snatches but cannot win.

Thursday, December 24, 2009

LOFT LIFE: Holidays

Holidays can be hard. Even though Jay and I make the best of having just us two, it is an adjustment to celebrate without family around.

Our friends make it bearable. Andi and Thomas came over for Thanksgiving. Well, what really happened was that I told Jay that we should just go to a buffet for Thanksgiving and that it would end up cheaper than cooking, even for two. But, we owed Bob a dinner, so I said, why don’t we have him over for a dinner, and, “What kind of meat does he like?” which I erroneously assumed meant to Jay that I was NOT talking Thanksgiving meat, ‘cause we all know what that is, right?

Anyway, in our usual roundabout communication, Jay did not assume anything like that, and proceeded to go to work and ask Bob if he would like to come over for Thanksgiving. After ranting a tad, I adjusted and began to enjoy the thought of company for Thanksgiving. I had forgotten that Andi said they, too, didn’t like being just two for big holidays, and in my normal poodally and insensitive (War Games) manner, didn’t automatically invite them. But, since Bob was coming, I called Andi for the invite, to which she said, “Well, Thomas invited a co-worker,” to which I said, “Well, bring him along,” to which she said, well the Argentinians might come over too, but not for sure. So when the Argentinians did not end up deciding to share Thanksgiving with them, Andi accepted our invite and that included the co-worker. So we were to have six.

Thanksgiving arrived, and Bob was sick, and couldn’t come. Thomas and Andi arrived sans co-worker, who evidently was also sick. So the four of us had a glorious holiday. Andi brought orange cups filled with sweet potato, and the best cranberry bread I have every had (sorry Melissa, it had a coffee cake topping). Note: our family has cranberry bread contests (unofficial) because of Cranberry Thanksgiving, a children’s book with a recipe on the cover. Melissa finally figured out how to use the recipe (she won’t tell) and get the bread to bake all the way through.

Anyway, now it’s almost Christmas, and we are just two again. Marybeth invited us over for Christmas Eve dinner, which is really heartwarming. She says she never has fewer than 20, and we only make 17, so we accepted, and look forward to Greg’s stuffed sole and pork roast.

And, we will go to Andi and Thomas on Boxing Day (I don’t think they know it is Boxing Day), and have cookies and cocoa.

And, then Mic and Andy are coming by train on January 2, and we will watch Mystic Pizza at A & T’s and then all go to Mystic on Sunday.

All in all, these festivities will give us enough Christmas joy to permeate even the just us two on the 25th. In fact, we may need the rest. :)

LOFT LIFE: Walkabout

I love small cities that have the charm of small towns and the convenience of larger cities. Such is our northern CT abode. We have the mall, of course--Macy’s, Target, Home Depot, Best Buy, etc.--all the big box shopping we can handle. The worst is Costco, which is addicting. My first trip there in 30 years and I found myself hyperventilating with the temptations surrounding me. Starting with gourmet appetizers to die for, like Brie spread with pesto and cranberries, and Brioche, filled with brie, cranberries and...well do you see a theme here? And, they give you samples! You can really have lunch at Costco just by stopping at each sample station. Jay, who still hasn’t figured out the calorie thing (could be he still weighs what he did when we married 28 years ago), believes that unless he tops it off with Costco’s $1.25 hot dog, cheese spreads, puff pastries and soup samples are not lunch. You can almost see him secretly beating his chest, Tim Taylor style, and vocalizing, “Meat! Me want meat!.”

But, even Costco’s delights don’t compare with the joy of walking around our neighborhood and discovering the small shop offerings.

First there is Diana’s Bakery. She claims to have been in her Main Street location for 20 years. Her Italian cookies are wonderful, and I am still sampling her breads. Didn’t much care for the whole wheat--it seemed too refined to get the low glycemic benefits, but her rye, which Andi pointed me to, “without seeds” was just fine. I still miss Great Harvest, which if I ever decide to mount the challenge of meandering surface streets to Manchester, I will visit. But, for now, Diana’s is good.

Really, even though it isn’t whole grain, Sylvia’s Restaurant has good breads. She is Rumanian, but serves Hungarian, German and Rumanian foods. There is never anyone in this charming restaurant, which has us scratching our heads. We dined there once, and ordered the lunch portions, which Sylvia, a proud woman, just could not do. I think she thought it was a price issue, so she gave us dinner portions at lunch prices, which made us feel bad, because we were the only diners that hour. The food was delicious. Jay got goulash and I had schnitzel, which was a little greasy and not as hot as I wished. But, I couldn’t complain when Sylvia, herself, was our server, and I heard her exasperation trying to explain to the chef, probably her son, that we only wanted lunch. His reply was something like, “Well how many pieces is that?” to which Sylvia shrugged and gave the okay to give us the full dinner portions.

On my way to Diana’s I had stopped at the Polish Deli to get Jay some baked ham for lunches, but the owner was busy, and doesn’t hurry anyone, so I said I would be back. At Diana’s I mentioned that I was going to the deli next, and she said, “Oh, say hello to Helen.” So I did. And, Helen seemed truly surprised to see I came back. Since it was my turn, I got the full customer-service treatment.

I had a cookie sample, on the house, at Diana’s, and a slice of ham at Helen’s, so I didn’t miss Costco at all. In fact, I have to keep reminding myself that I really prefer supporting these small businesses, rather than indulging in the brie and cranberries and spending $115 just for breathing, when it could have been $30 at two shops, both in walking distance, that really fill the bill, and make life here so much fun.

Diana, Helen and Sylvia are fixtures here, and I intend to tell everyone how lucky we are to have their shops, and their personalities, and how much we need to patronize them so we aren't forced to shop big boxes only, convenient though they are.