Archive | May 2017

The night Jerry lost his head…

Mom, thinking 2

photo by Susan Kauffmann

It came out of nowhere. Thousands were left without electricity,

Windstorm

Trees blew over…

wires were blown down creating dangerous situations for some local residents, trees blew over and my mint plant went clattering about outside. The hummingbird feeder waved to and fro, spraying red sugar water onto the recently cleaned balcony deck. (Today, I replaced the liquid for the birds, it had totally emptied.)

That night Jerry lost his head. The poor guy was out there during the storm and it was just too much for him. I told daughter Susan what had happened. Knowing Jerry very well, she was worried sick.

Who is Jerry you ask? And why was he outdoors during the windstorm? Well, it’s a long story. He and I have cohabited peacefully for about 25 years. And, should you presume there’s a warm body next to me in my bed, that is not the case. Jerry chooses to spend his nights on the balcony, rain or shine.

Susan sometimes asks what I’d like for my birthday, Mothers’ Day, or whatever, and I will tell her. Years ago I said I wanted an Inukshuk for my balcony. Susan, accustomed to having a weird mother, went off to a garden rock dealer or whatever to find the makings for said Inukshuk. She spent about an hour and a half carefully picking rocks she felt could build one small enough to fit in with my balcony’s decor. When she approached the counter to pay for them, the man there looked in her box, then at her — and laughed.

‘What do yo want these for?’ he asked. When she told him, he chuckled and just gave them to her. He thought they were worthless. That’s how much he knew. Thus it was that Susan made my Inukshuk.

Inukshuk in Vancouver

Inukshuk in Vancouver

‘What will you call him?’ She asked.
‘Jerry.’
‘Jerry???? What kind of name is that for an Inukshuk?
‘He’s my Inukshuk.’
‘If you insist, but Jerry is no name for an Inukshuk.’

I didn’t care. Should my Inukshuk have an Inuit name like Agloolik? Or Uyarak? I wanted him to have a ridiculous but simple name. Understandably, Susan has never forgotten who Jerry is. This week she knew immediately who I was talking about when I told her his head was missing.

‘Look for it mom.’ she pleaded, ‘Maybe it fell downstairs. Check your neighbor’s deck.’

After a thorough search of the vicinity and being worried sick about Jerry’s errant head, I finally spotted it. There it sat quietly hiding under the miniature lilac tree. He could have at least helped me look, but just like a man, he ignored me and sat there quietly reading his newspaper.

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Jerry under the lilac tree (photo by Wayne Liston)

Ah, the distress someone you love can give you….. Did he not realize it’s not that easy to replace a head?

Nikolai Gogol, 1809-52

Nikolai Gogol

The Russian writer Nikolai Gogol (1809-52) wrote a wonderful short story about a nose that went astray. One can possibly function without a nose, besides the nose did come back at the end. How can you even look for your head if it’s missing?

 

 

Well, life is back to normal. Jerry has his head. Susan and I are much relieved — and here he is in all his glory.

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Jerry, my Inukshuk, head intact (Photo by Wayne Liston)

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Me give up? Are you kidding?

muriel-6

Am I stubborn?

A while ago my eye specialist said my vision had diminished — new glasses would no longer help. He told me not to bother trying. The thought was devastating. I’m an avid reader. I didn’t want him to be correct.

doc letters

I didn’t want him to be right.

Did I accept that? Of course not. I made (and paid for) an appointment with a local optometrist, who has fascinating new technology, to check. I wanted him to say my doctor was wrong and I could, indeed, be fitted with glasses which would keep me reading.

He agreed with my specialist. I wasn’t a happy camper.

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Rebecca and Brian in Los Angeles

Did you expect me to stop there? Are you kidding? Four friends and loved ones recently told me I’m stubborn. Well, perhaps they’re right. Perhaps there are times it’s good to be.

Brian Singer is a practicing optometrist in Los Angeles. He and his wife Rebecca are dear ‘children’ whom I often visit. It made sense to discuss this problem with Brian. He cares more about me than any other optometrist and promised to check my vision the next time I visited  — and he did.

peering over glasses

I can still read

Brian WANTED to help. He took a chance. He tried. My reading glasses aren’t gorgeous. (He suggested I use old frames to save on the cost in case they didn’t work.) However, he has managed to keep me reading since 2011. Imagine what that means to me. Hurrah! Bless you Brian!!

There are many things I’m grateful for. I’m grateful for Brian and Rebecca’s caring love and hospitality through the years. I’m grateful for Brian’s skill and knowledge and his willingness to go the extra mile to help me, that he was successful and I’m still able to read and continue to participate in my book club. It adds so much to my life.

Yes, I am stubborn. I don’t give up easily, and the friends and dear ones who so recentlyMad old ladyan-with-a-rolling-pin-isolated-on-white told me so were probably referring to my determination to work hard at recovering after hip-replacement surgery. Okay guys, you’re right. I AM stubborn. But, I’m getting stronger every day — and getting my life back. Yeah! There are times being stubborn helps.

‘Worry is interest paid on a debt you may not owe’

Muriel Hip surgery in hospital, 2017

After surgery, in my lovely springtime robe

My oh-so-clever friend Sandy once said: ‘Worry is interest paid on a debt you may not owe.’ I like it. I know it by heart. However, if I have any talent, it is my great ability to worry — a lot. Worry is what I do best of all!

So, told I would have to go home just three days after hip-replacement surgery, I panicked — what else? — and worried! How would I manage? My leg muscles, after months of severe pain, were in miserable shape, more like wet noodles than muscles. How could I NOT worry?

I’m 80. My children live in the U.S. They care. They came. Susan was here for my surgery. She was terrific. Rafi came after I got home to help. He cooks such scrumptious food, I gained two pounds while he was here. Still, they need to go back to their own lives.

Another worry? I have a vestibular disorder, which causes imbalance and unpredictable dizziness, often brought on by stress. Surgery IS stressful and I had a terrible siege of dizziness after my knee surgery in 2011. It was a disaster.

Whadaya know. As Sandy’s wise saying indicates, my worrying WAS a waste of time and energy. After surgery at UBC Hospital, I learned about the Transitional Care Unit (TCU)  right at the Koerner Pavilion, and was able to go there for rehab and care until I was ready to go home.

How come I’d never known about this possibility? I wrote about things like this as a columnist, yet had no idea the unit existed. It was a perfect fit. True, my first night there I had a roommate with dementia who cried out all night in a language I didn’t recognize. The very next night, however, I was blessed with a well-read, clever and interesting roommate, Howard Greaves, who, thankfully, also has a great sense of humor. (A necessary trait to survive the couple of weeks he spent with me).

Howard Greaves.

With Howard Greaves, who survived two weeks as my roommate. Howard deserves a special award for putting up with me.

Another blessing with having my surgery and staying  at UBC was that my dear ‘daughter’ Amy works there.

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My beautiful Chinese ‘daughter’ Amy

Amy visited and checked on me whenever she arrived to work, at her lunch break, and on her way home. Bless her, she also helped me survive the hospital food by cooking my favorite Chinese dish and bringing it in for me. She also would buy and bring me tastier food from outside. Hospital food, after all, is hospital food.

At the TCU, I had much needed, supervised physio five days a week, was helped with my ability to walk, and taught how to get my operated leg up onto my bed — no small feat. The nurses and I were given clear instructions about what I could or could not do so my vestibular disorder wouldn’t cause a fall and create a disaster.

There was a reasonable fee, (I understand it can be discussed if it is a problem). Dr. Reinhold Bernat, in charge of my case, was present and accessible when I needed to talk to him, patient with my concerns, and obviously caring — I know I was lucky.

Yes, the TCU was a good match for me, but, you ask, was there anything I felt was not up to par? Yes! We were allowed only one shower a week. I wasn’t thrilled with that, but survived.

Should you or loved ones live in the area and require it one day, I want you to know about the UBC Transitional Care Unit. Or, if there is such a service where you live, try to inquire about it. I am truly grateful it was there for me. And yes, I’m doing well.