Wednesday, November 25, 2009

Giving thanks

This past year has been a tough one for me, my family, and many of my friends. Two years ago, then again last year, I posted a list of things for which I'm thankful. Despite the year of hardships, I still give thanks for so many of the same things. The list is repeated, with some changes for 2009:

I am thankful for:

Mom, Mom sane and healthy, Mom knowing who and where she is
Sue (and of course Tracy)
Ron Carol Mac
My other family who I don't see often
My dear friend Ellen
My oldest friend Carol who came to visit me a couple of weeks ago
My running friends (and those who walk, too)
My knitting friends (even those who have put down the needles)
My running and knitting friends
My friends who used to run with me and have moved to other states but still stay in contact
My friends who don't knit or run with me
My health and physical capabilities (and modern pharmaceuticals to keep it that way)
My job
My home
My bears (of which there seem to be more every month year)
My yarn and needles
My abundant stuff
The gorgeous area where I live
The trails and open spaces where I can run in beautiful surroundings
Sunny warm days, cool nights
Candy, popcorn and wine for dinner
Waking after actually having been asleep
The ability to do almost anything I want, anywhere, at any time
The knowledge that I am whole, complete, and mostly content

I hope you have as many things that make you thankful, and that you have a happy, safe Thanksgiving!

Tuesday, November 24, 2009

Running and eating part 2

As happened the previous weekend, this past weekend my 10 mile run turned into an 8 miler. What was supposed to be the great reunion run of 2009 turned into just two of us; Anita and I met up at the Lafayette Moraga Trail for a chilly outing. Once again it was freezing and I decided to only run 4 miles and not blow out my lungs with the cold air. Once again we ended up running to the 4 mile marker before turning back. It was cold, I was wheezy, but it was still great getting out and running, looking at the bright crispy clear scenery, carefully making our way across the icy wooden bridge without slipping. We were both tired once we finished but not wiped out, not ready to drop in our tracks. That's an improvement.

I like going out to eat no more than weekly; my known habit is to feel that since I normally eat so well, a restaurant meal is a treat and I can eat what I want. That doesn't work well when you go out 4 days in a row. On Friday my bro had taken my mom to see a new doctor. Due to an obstructive nasty receptionist they walked out. Since there was time, they called and asked me to join them for a sushi lunch near my office. How could I say no?

Saturday night was an office party at a Japanese restaurant in Oakland. The food was incredibly good and rich, although not big in quantity. The wine was incredibly good too, but I only had one glass since I was driving (I should mention that the "one glass" was because after about 3 sips a waiter would walk up from behind and refill the glass. I never did empty that glass all night, so "one glass," right?). Sunday I took my mom to lunch at the newish Lake Chateau on Lake Merritt where we ate too much. Last night I took my mom to a doctor appointment and since she would have missed her dinner at the home I had to take her to dinner.

We were in the Danville area so we went to the new Maria Maria. I was ready to face the same awful service that they have at the Walnut Creek restaurant and was quite pleasantly surprised by the attentive waitstaff. That meal would have been nice and healthy if we hadn't ordered the melted cheese dish to go with my shrimp tacos and her chicken salad. At least I have a leftover taco and leftover salad for my dinner tonight, there was no way we could finish that much food.

So I'm still feeling sluggish and stuffed. Stuffed head, too. My allergies are acting up (no, it's not a cold. I keep telling you that). Mornings and evenings I'm sniffling, sneezing, coughing. Two mornings in a row I've felt like there's sand underneath my contacts. Before I put in my contacts. I've ended up wearing glasses instead. By mid-day I feel fine, get a burst of energy, breathe clearly. But by bedtime I'm all congested again.

I finished my nephew's hat and I'm not too impressed with it. Sure, it's very cute with the stripes, I-cord and tassel on the end. Being a novice I didn't use enough yarn for a true pom-pom but I think it looks less girly being less full. I'm sure it's because of the cheap crap acrylic yarn, but the hat doesn't feel shaped right and is too stretchy. I'll see what my nephew thinks about it and decide whether it needs any adjustments. Now I just want to knit with some natural fiber yarn, something that grew on an animal or plant and wasn't made from chemicals. Good thing I have about 5 WIPs on my counter, I can choose from those. Or go with my feeling this morning: it's freezing out, I need another pair of mitts!

Friday, November 20, 2009

It's raining, it's pouring

I'm hoping this will be a heavy, short storm that passes through the area by the middle of the night. I'm going to run long tomorrow morning and don't have happy thoughts of running on piles of wet leaves. Slippery and I don't go together.

My great plan for being back on track went all to crap again. I started the week well and just ... let's just say I tapered and leave it at that. I've been eating well so that balances it a teensy bit but this isn't particularly the way to stay healthy or not get fatter.

I've been knitting again, recently on a stupid, fun project. My little pre-teen nephew asked me if I would knit him a hat and how could I refuse that face? I asked what type and he said he wanted one where he could swing the top around in circles. Yeaaaaah. He doesn't want a long tapering point, more like a hat with a ball on the end of a string. Oooooookay. At least he said he wanted it in red. And black. So I'm knitting with colors I like and knew that I had in the house. I discovered some hand-me-down nasty acrylic worsted weight yarns in my stash and was happy not to have to waste my Malabrigo on what seems to be a joke hat.

A couple of weeks ago I cast on for a basic 2x2 rib hat. I was at the end of the decreases when I convinced myself that the damn thing would be too big for a jumbo pumpkin and there was no way to fix it. I ripped it back and started over on a smaller size. Again, 2x2 rib but this time only on the brim and plain old stockinette for the rest of it. I made the decrease on the pointy side and instead of binding off at the end I did an I-cord for about 10 inches. Now I'm trying to decide whether to make the pompom attached or whether to bind off the I-cord and do maybe 2 small pompoms and attach them. At this rate my nephew should be getting his hat just about in time for spring thaw.

Sunday, November 15, 2009

Running and eating

I've been doing too little of one and too much of the other. Care to guess which is which? Alrighty, then!

I managed to go almost 2 weeks with close to no running, no cross training, no core work, no strength work. Any excuses I can come up with are exactly that, excuses. I was tired, I had a visitor, I was busy, wah wah wah. Shoulda run no matter what.

To make up for lost time I thought running 10 miles on Saturday would be an excellent idea. Thought that right up until my alarm went off Saturday morning. The reason I need friends to run with me is that I will not, unless sick as a dog, cancel out on them. I was supposed to meet Bree and Sandy (yes! she's in town for a short visit!) for this 10 miler so meet them I did. I'd like to say that once out of bed I was much livelier but that wouldn't be true.

The 10 miler turned into an 8 miler, which I considered a success since I really only wanted to run 6. It was a beautiful day running through the leaves on the Lafayette-Moraga Trail. I don't like running on leaves since they're slippery and hide pavement faults, but I kept an eye on the ground and only tripped once. I felt quite righteous once we finished. And quite tired too. I'm glad we didn't push those extra 2 miles because that would have been asking for injury or a tumble. Next week! Er, next week on the extra miles, not the tumbling.

I was pretty horrified at how badly I was wiped out from the run. I'm hoping that memories of that will keep me more honest with my workouts. Since I fully intend to keep my weekend runs at the 10-15 mile range I need to keep up with the the daily ones too. I'm pretty sure that when they say you should do an average of 40 minutes activity each day, they don't mean to do it all at one time and slack off the other 6 days.

Today my bro and I took my mom out for lunch. We had a fun, wacky, silly time (not to mention some great food). Because she dislikes the food at the Place, my mom looks forward to the weekend meals out. Also, before all this started she frequently went to restaurants and she misses that. My bro and I are always on the lookout for my mom's newest favorite place (it changes each time she has a great meal somewhere). When my mom went to the ladies room my bro and I remarked on how we had thought the days of my mom being bright and intentionally funny were gone. It's remarkable and great to have her back.

Of course, that also means that I only have 1 day on the weekend to get my regular chores out of the way. And that means that mostly they don't get done. A little laundry, and little grocery shopping, a bill or two paid. The rest of it I put aside and hope I have enough energy during the week to do everything else after work. Normally I don't, but somehow the essentials are getting done. The biggest essential, taking care of my mom, gets first priority. Cleaning house or gardening just don't seem quite so important any longer.

Wednesday, November 11, 2009

Visit from a friend

Last weekend my one remaining friend from my college days came to visit. Although we had met a couple of times in the past few years (once in Monterey and once at her home in Washington), she hadn't been to visit me for more than 17 years. Yikes! She'd never seen my house and hadn't seen the valley area since it was so built up. Although my compulsive cleaning days are long since past, I'm still house proud enough to have spent the weekend and week before the visit cleaning and straightening frantically.

Carol was supposed to visit during the summer but we rescheduled until a time we thought my family life would be more settled. The timing worked out well. We spent one day with my mom, taking her to lunch and to see her old home and all her "stuff." We spent another day at the Jelly Belly factory and wine tasting. Another day we sat around and schmoozed. It's incredibly reassuring to talk with another person who knows your history, knows your family and is experiencing the same trials of getting older (everything from elderly stubborn parents to slower metabolisms to wrinkles).

Without a doubt my closest and oldest friend is my sis, but it's different. With my sis, my history is her history, my family is her family, my aging is her aging. There's no outside point of view, no gap in experience, no comparison of families. It's great to catch up when there's been a long time apart, reminiscing about people and places that you haven't thought of for decades. It's fun to trade stories of the past years, interesting to get another opinion.

Thank you Carol, for a wonderful break from real life. Let's do it again soon!

Thursday, November 5, 2009

Moving and moving on

This summer my family was told by several doctors, in many specialties, that my mom would never recover from her hospital-caused mistaken over-drugging that led to psychosis and dementia. They said she might improve but she'd never be back to how she started, the day she was taken to the emergency room. They expected little cognitive and only partial physical rehabilitation. I'm quite happy to say they were full of shit.

These days my mom is living in a dementia oriented assisted living facility. When she was initially discharged from hospital #3 and delivered to her room she was confused, weak, slightly agitated. She spent most of her time the next couple of weeks in her own room; she had had enough of the 24 hour sitters watching her every move. When she did go into the common areas she didn't engage with the other inmates residents and in fact was frightened and creeped out by many of their behaviors (understandably). She had difficulty transitioning from sitting to standing and was assisted with many day-to-day tasks. After constant adjustment of her medications, physical therapy and time she is almost the same as she was back in June.

Almost, not quite. In some ways she's physically stronger than she was then. If she's not tired she moves well with a walker (and is actually willing to use it most of the time), she can walk stairs easier than she did, her endurance has increased. Her memory of the time when she "was someone else" is thankfully blank. When she tries to remember things from then we try to dissuade her since it was such an ugly time. Her short-term memory has suffered and her long-term memory isn't quite as sharp, but she's still improving so that may change.

All that means it's time for her to move on. When we placed her in the facility we were told something to the effect of when you move in, you don't ever move out. People don't recover from dementia, they just get worse. But when the dementia is in large part created by chemicals it can be reversed. My mom wants to get out of the "nuthouse" and away from the "crazy people." And we agree that she needs surroundings that are more stimulating and more open.

Now we're looking for a new home. She can't live on her own, she needs help with medications and meals and cleaning, and really needs someone to periodically check on her to make sure she is ok. She's willing to give up her independence to a point, but still wants to be able to come and go at her own whim. That's fine, but she can't drive again and that will be limiting (although she still has hopes that she'll improve enough that we'll return her car keys) (which won't happen). The type of place we want is an assisted living facility that also has transitional areas for nursing care and dementia care. Those places are few and far between.

My bro and I took my mom to see one such place yesterday. We had dinner in their very nicely appointed dining room (tablecloths and linen napkins and wait-staff included!), toured the spacious building, common spaces and activity rooms, watched some of the residents as they interacted and then looked at the personal rooms. They were small.

My mom moved last year from a very large crowded home, with a 1000 square foot living room, to her current 2 bedroom smaller unit. Now she's looking at something under 600 square feet total and she's freaking out. She has so much "stuff" that it'll never fit into something so small and she loves all her "stuff." Yes, her "stuff" is mostly incredible; antiques, rarities, collectibles, folk-art from around the world. But it's just "stuff." Until she's willing to part with some of it, she won't be able to move. Until we find a place that fits all of the family's criteria, and all of hers, she remains with the people she's fondly calling "crazy." Hopefully she'll get enough of crazy that she'll adjust her hopes and we can find an affordable, lovely, comfortable, stimulating and safe place that is acceptable to us all.