Sunday, January 24, 2010

Update: 2010 so far

Well, I'm home again and staring out the window, listening to the patters and splashes of the rain falling outside. I love a cozy Sunday and am looking forward to puttering around the house all day. Laundry and cleaning and sipping tea and sorting though a big stack of mail...

But first, here's an update on the year so far. It's been a weird one, and promises to keep all of us here at Chez 10K on our toes.

We spent Christmas up in Ohio at G-Dog's brother's home, along with their Mom (let's call her Beege), who had flown up from Florida. She ended up having kind of a rough return trip back home and was pretty exhausted by the whole ordeal of traveling. By New Year's Eve (a few days later), she still wasn't really feeling any better and went to see her doctor. That evening, while G-Dog was standing at the stove, stirring the Nouvelle Année Gumbo, Beege called to say she had checked into the hospital at her doctor's suggestion. No big deal. She had a bit of fluid in her lungs and it would be just an overnight stay to administer some diuretics to get that drained out.

Well, as I'm sure you gathered by now, it was a big deal. The "overnight" stay dragged on for days. The longer she was there, the more everyone in the family fretted -- and the worry was only exacerbated by the fact that she was so far away. And Beege, in the meantime, was becoming more exhausted and overwhelmed with every passing night in the noisy, brightly lit, phlebotomy-crazed hospital. Every day the doctors said she needed to stay just one more day, but they couldn't seem to let go.

Well, they did eventually clear her for release. They said they'd check her out on the 8th, after eight days in the hospital. And we figured she'd need some help getting settled at home, so I threw my bike into the back of the car and, bundled against the arctic blast that was billowing down the east coast, sped down I-75, to spend the weekend with Beege, making sure she was comfortable at home and getting some much-needed rest (thank goodness for underemployment!).

About three quarters of the way into my 10-hour drive, Beege called to tell me that the doctors had changed their minds. She wasn't getting out of the hospital after all. Her heart had suddenly started racing and there was no way they were going to release her until they got that under control (when you've been doing nothing but languishing in a hospital bed for a week, your resting heart rate should clearly NOT be in the triple digits!). But surely, it would just be another day or two.

So, all of a sudden I found myself living all alone in my mother-in-law's condo in the (strangely frozen) tropics and acclimating to the rhythms of a hospital cardiac ward with Beege and her roommate (who, when the casting calls go out for the made-for-TV movie based on this adventure, could only be described as "spunky," and was being fitted with a pacemaker). After a few days of trying to medicate their way out of the crazy heart rhythms, the docs gave Beege a cardioversion. It didn't take all that long, but while I was in the waiting area I started chatting with the only other people in the room and it turns out they were also down from Chattanooga, waiting while their mom had a heart procedure. And if that didn't already make the world feel incredibly small, we also discovered that their boys went to the same tiny elementary school that Emmie attended!

(This was just the morning after I had been out running along the causeway on a very, very cold Sunday evening, so I was bundled up in a Culver sweatshirt (one of my brothers attended their summer camp and another brother taught there for a little while). There was only one other person, besides me, who was crazy enough to be out there running in such a windy spot, and as we passed each other, he shouted, "hey! I graduated from Culver!" Heh. Small world.)

But anyway, things fell into a routine pretty quickly. I'd get up in the morning and buzz over to the hospital and hang out. The doctors kept telling us Beege would be getting out "tomorrow." We'd all chat and read and watch a bit of the news (the horror that continues to play out in Haiti was just beginning to unfold at the time). I'd head home for lunch and sometimes run an errand or throw in a load of wash before returning to the hospital for a few more hours. Late in the afternoon, I'd head out for either a run or a bike ride and then hunkered down in the condo for the evening, cooking some food and making phone calls to update various family members, friends and neighbors.

This went on for a week. The cardioversion reset Beege's heart nicely, but then the doctors discovered an arrhythmia that hadn't been visible with her heart racing. After that, it just took a while to get everything stabilized so that she could go home. By the time she got out, she had spent a full 15 days in the hospital.

It was such a thrill to get her home, finally, on Friday the 15th. She was pretty exhausted and really needed to just rest for a few days while I enjoyed getting to stay in and do a lot of cooking. After laying low over the holiday weekend while she slowly started to get back a bit of strength, she had a good followup with the doctor on Tuesday, so we were able to start planning for my departure. We had to make sure that she'd be able to handle tasks like driving, shopping and doing the laundry. While she worked her way back into those activities, I was cleaning out closets, stocking up the pantry and trying to get everything done that might require any heavy lifting. We had a good time all week and I genuinely enjoyed that one-on-one time together.

I also continued to enjoy my afternoon workouts in our little corner of Manatee County. Over the course of that first week, the cold winter blast gave way to some warmer temperatures as Florida's weather slowly became more seasonable. My early runs out along the causeway had me stepping to avoid all the scattered heads of the frozen fish that had been washed ashore, providing a sumptuous buffet for the dozens of vultures that now crowded the waterline (between the efforts of the raptors and the county clean-up crews, the carnage did eventually disappear). My bike rides allowed me many opportunities to explore -- I visited the recently-opened Robinson Preserve many times, and also spied for manatees at a nearby inlet where they're known to go when the water gets cold, and of course, I also rode out to the beach on Anna Maria Island. Eventually, the winter weather was replaced with balmy days in the 70s and my sweatshirts and sweaters were packed up in favor of shorts and sleeveless shirts. I even got a bit of sun on my shoulders!

I returned to Tennessee on Friday, two weeks after driving down for my quick weekend in Florida. The trip back was long, but I got to hook up with my cousin in Georgia for lunch, which really brightened my day. Yesterday I unpacked and cooked some bread (I love being back in my own kitchen!) and thought about how different the year already feels.

I brought in 2010 anticipating a lot of changes (just for starters, I've been contemplating a career change, Emmie will be graduating from college and moving out on her own, and the changing political landscape has me shifting my priorities in terms of my activist activities). 2009 was, for G-Dog and me, largely about getting into shape. But we accomplished our goals and the changes we made along the way have become routine, so it's not something we have to spend time thinking about any more. I'm not sure what 2010 is going to be about yet -- what occupations and projects will replace that effort to be healthier. And now, after spending two weeks almost completely disconnected from my life, I'm thinking instead of trying to figure out how I might pick up where I left off (which was in a muddle), I might do better just starting fresh from scratch. How DO I want to spend my time this year? Hrmmm...


Keera said...

It looks like you and I are having similar thoughts about 2010. Glad MIL is doing better and is out of the hospital!

Julie L said...

Wow. What a start to 2010. I'm glad for the happy ending for MIL!

Lots of changes at Chez L. as well... My parental units have a contract on a townhouse, after being full-time RVers since they were 65-66 (they are now 80-79) and it's obvi time for them to get a place again. It feels weird to them, thinking that this will be the last place they'll ever live - they've been quite nomadic in their time.

For me, I'm in a complete re-do of my apartment, and will be putting up my loom (yay!) again for the first time since 2003. I hope it didn't die in storage all this time. :(

I'm back getting up to speed with my Japanese studies, knitting again (soon to be weaving, huzzah!), working on the biz and practicing.

Sheesh. This is turning into a blog post of my own, so I'll stop now.

alice said...

Keera, I've been thinking the same thing -- especially recently, because I've been missing both of you! We've all been way too quiet! Any chance we could get caught up while taking google wave out for a test run? Keera, I know you're on, but Julie, are you on board yet? I'm back and picking my priorities, and you guys definitely make the cut!

Keera said...

If we hadn't made the cut, we'd be over in Chattanooga giving you what for. ;-) So, yeah, let's do the wave! Heh.