Rainy Days

My mom and brother George were here for a few days.  There really wasn’t much I needed them to do but be here.  I feel bad for them that they had to drop everything and come, but I have done it for them before so I guess we’re even.

They flew in late, late Sunday night and wanted to drive up to Gainesville right away versus staying at hotel in Tampa.  That was right about when the tropical storm started effecting Florida.

The entire time we were in Gainesville, it rained.  And it pissed me off so much.  My favorite weather and I couldn’t enjoy it.  Instead it was fucking with my schedule, meant I couldn’t go for morning walks to re-group and get some solitude, and EVERY SINGLE TIME it let up and I went somewhere without an umbrella I got caught in a downpour.

The little I did need them to accomplish, including cheering Gma up, was done with ease.  Mostly I needed help deciding which assisted living building would be best, what to do with some of the more expensive unwanted pieces in her apartment, and a good dose of, “You’ll do the right thing” as I charge ahead solo with the rest of this project.

I’m back in Tampa for a few days now.  I’m trying to line up appointments next week to tackle the move.  I’ll go back up first thing next week with boxes and start the great purge.  She currently is in a 2 bedroom+den apartment that’s twice the size of my condo.  I am incredibly lucky in the fact that Gma seems happy to let me make the decisions on what goes and what stays.  I do know that once I have her moved to the new assisted living space, she’ll complain endlessly about the result.  But that’s OK.

This is a woman I surprised with Valentine’s Day roses delivered knowing full well when I saw her next I’d hear the great drama and struggle of how she couldn’t get them out the box/arranged/cut/etc.  I’m just saying.

I am very much at loose ends at home.  Tom is still working mostly crazy hours, with a crazy commute on top of that.  I am going through the motions of our old life, but I know it’s limbo.  And Lady Dog is still with my in-laws (thank goodness!) so even my old routines aren’t complete.

But it’s raining this morning.  I turned off the AC and opened the patio door.  Limbo, loose ends, and moving be damned for now.  I feel good.

Dirty Little Secret

I had a return ticket home already from the trail.

It was based on the original plan that I’d make it to Damascus, VA.

Also on the original dates.  The return ticket was for next Sunday.  The 27th.

K and I managed to get started a week earlier, with the idea that we’d end a week early as well.  Although I wanted to hike solo when she left the trail, I also felt a bit of a tail spin with how many times the trip had changed.  I had no true plan or idea of how things were going to work out.  Two days at a time was about all I could managed.

When I said I was considering getting off before the Smokies, it was because of my Gma.  I didn’t want to share my concern here at the time, but we had talked when I was in…NOC?  Franklin maybe? and I didn’t like something about the call.  Nothing she said specifically.  The tone.  How she said it.  What she chose to share seemed un-Gma-like.

It was hard to get cell reception at Fontana Dam.  I am lucky as hell I decided to stay at the Hike Inn because I got a ride into Robbinsville, NC for dinner, re-supply, and phone calls.

My conversation with Gma was less to be desired.  It was late on a Sunday and she was tired and a bit confused because I’d tried calling once and had to hang up on her.  I was in a restaurant and didn’t count on how loud she’d need me to talk.

In some ways that phone call reassured me.  She was always tired and confused in the evenings.  Her frazzled-ness of possibly missing my phone call was very Gma.  But still.  I asked point blank if I should come home. Not even that.  I asked if she wanted me home.  That I was having a blast but could leave satisfied.  And she said no.

I can’t explain why the Smokies were so awesome.  I saw none of the wildlife I had hoped.  I had the wettest day of hiking yet.  Yes, I managed to find a cool group of people.  But unless you’ve managed to find a true hiking partner, that group would vanish with one good up and down.  I already knew that Standing Bear Farms was stretching it for how long we’d stick together.

But I guess it’s where I got my trail legs.  Although now that I’m writing this, I remember Jeff from Hike Inn did tell me he’d rarely seen a hiker with such a large smile and positive attitude.  So maybe the idea was already forming then.  And I enjoyed the weather in GSMNP a hell of a lot more than the previous heat.

In Gatlinburg, or specifically on the hike out of New Found Gap, I decided I’d re-assess and see how far I could make it by the 27th.  I’d stretch the trip an extra week and take advantage of my original ticket date.

This morning I managed to do the calculations.

I would have made it to Damascus.

This afternoon I canceled the ticket.

OK, so it’s not dirty and it’s not a secret.

And it’s not little.  Not to me.  Not yet.

Saturday, May 12th

Start: Cosby Knob Shelter
End: Standing Bear Farms
Miles: 10.4
Total Miles: 242.1

Just this morning (the 13th) I found out Yoda was *this close* to waking me to watch the sunrise. I regret he didn’t.

Usually in the morning, I’m first of our trio out the shelter. I have my routine down pat and since I’m the slowest, I like having the extra leeway in my schedule.

But it was Peenut’s last day so we all tried to leave around the same time. It was also our last day in the Smokies and we knew the hike would be an easy one.

Leap frogging each other a bit, I ended up in back as usual. But I found Yoda, Merry, and Sweet & Sour waiting for me at the Mt Cammerer lookout tower side trail.

Yeah, we voluntarily walked an extra mile. Actually, one of my lessons learned from this trip was to plan enough time for side trails and vistas. So when this opportunity arose, I went for it.

The rest of the climb out of the Smokies just rocked. Perfect weather. Perfect music. Perfect views.

At the first road crossing, Yoda was waiting for me. I sat down, pack still on, to eat a granola bar. I also got cell reception for the first time since Thursday morning.

When I saw a Gainesville area code in my voicemail, I knew I was fucked.

Gma had fallen and was taken to the hospital that night.

After much pacing and frantic phone calls, I got ahold of Gma. She broke her hip, refused to let any other family be notified, had hip replacement surgery, and was spending a few days in the hospital to rehab.

To all of you that hate when I over-share bad news, BLAME HER. It’s my instinct after years of family medical issues being down played so no one “worries”.

Merry and Sweet & Sour met up with us as I was buried in Yoda’s armpit. They quickly figured something was wrong because cold weather or not, we all stank and no one was voluntarily getting that close to each other.

(Side conversation: after insisting rather, um, aggressively that Yoda check the directions to the hostel again, he gave me another quick hug.

Me: I’m sorry I’m so nasty.
Him: You’re not, you’re just stressed. It’s allowed.
Me: No, I mean physically gross. I figure you’re used to the verbal abuse by now.
Him: True.)

The next hour or so was a bit of a daze. We got to the hostel, checked in, and Curtis gave me some options for how/when he could get me to an airport.

There was no cell reception right at the hostel, so I had to walk back down the road, call Tom, request info, wait, walk back, call back, find Curtis, get his OK on timing, walk back, call back, call back again for flight confirmation.

I also showered somewhere in there.

I had a flight booked for 7pm the next day. You might think it was horrible to have to wait. But it wasn’t. I cherished every minute I had left.

Yoda convinced Merry and Sweet & Sour to share the cabin with us. Not sure if it was because he thought it would me cheer me up or because he didn’t want to deal with the crazy solo. Enh. Potato potahto.

The rest of the evening was spent cooking/eating frozen pizzas, drinking PBRs, and letting the other hikers pillage my food/supplies I wouldn’t try and fit in my pack for the trip home.

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Thank you Rocket

Dinners with Gma

When I started working for my grandmother, we (I) set some pretty strict rules.  The biggest of which was that I would not participate in any medical issues.  This was promptly discarded two weeks in when I had to remove a tick from her inner thigh.

EW.

But aside from parasite removal, I’ve held to this rule.  The thoughts behind it are 1) I’m not medically trained and 2) I’m only there two days out of the week.  If she needs help with daily things like eye drops and taking her blood sugar, she needs more help than I can offer.

I’m around to widen the gap between an independent apartment (albeit one with maid service and cafeteria privileges) and a fully assisted living facility (aka nursing home).  She wants to maintain her independence and her quality of life, so I am there to do things like help write checks for her bills, order perfume off the internet, handling her more personal shopping requests, research/discuss/aid in complicated matters such as taxes, the property in WI, etc.

The one thing I did not plan for or anticipate was how I would also become a big part of her social world.  Specifically, her dining entertainment.

My grandparents ate out 2 nights a week for as long as I can remember.  Now, not only does she not drive but she can’t see well enough to feel safe in just anyone’s vehicle.  She also hates to be far from her own bathroom and hates to break up lunch/dinner plans with friends to request a ride back early.

At first I felt awkward about how much we ate out.   It was definitely a job perk I hadn’t counted on.  Nor really appreciated since it was also around this time when I started trying to get healthy.

A few times I tried paying for the smaller meals.  And a few times I succeeded.  But it really bugged her.  Once I mentioned it to my mother and she was adamant I let Gma pay because she truly enjoyed being able to go out and treat me.

So I became deft at ordering salads and splitting desserts.  I would take a long walk in the afternoon while Gma napped and follow it up with some more aerobics while catching up on Glee and House.  Despite this weekly decadence, I managed to make progress.

Then the cancer came.

Here’s the thing.  When someone has little time left and they still have an appetite?  You encourage it.  Gma started having very specific restaurant requests and once there, very specific preferences.  I don’t think I will ever again sit down to a table where someone orders salmon Florentine with french fries.

The problem is that Gma is very much a social eater/drinker.  She’ll have a glass wine with dinner if you are.  She’ll have dessert if you do too.  (Gone also were the days of splitting desserts.  She wanted her own, damnit.)  She wouldn’t even enjoy her soup/salad if I didn’t have something as well.  This happened often since I’d order an entree salad and no soup.  Then she would stop after every fork/spoon-full to ask if I wanted some.

So, I began to eat more.  I ordered wine and dessert.  When and if I ordered an entree salad, I’d also order some vegetable side to come out when her soup/salad course arrived.

Throughout our journey with the cancer so far, Gma has had few physical manifestations that she is ill.  The cancer is already in her lymph system, so one side effect we were told of was the possibility of lymph fluid building up in her abdomen.  And that seemed to be happening, as her stomach grew and her pants grew tight.

But the oncologist didn’t hear fluid when she went for checkups.  Yet Gma kept patting her belly and talking about how it just seemed to be growing and growing.

Do you see where I’m going with this?

I’m not quite sure why I didn’t put 2+2 together myself.  I guess because in a way I wanted her to have some signs of sickness?  That sounds horrible, but it’s also what she wants.  It drives her bat shit crazy that she’s been given this death sentence and doesn’t have a damn thing to show for it.

Finally, everything clicked (for me at least) when we saw her regular primary care doctor and she got on the scale.  She’d gained 8 pounds in three months.

I still did have to point out to her the connection.  I was leery to do so.  I didn’t want her to feel the need to stop her marvelous eating and enjoyment.  But I finally had to speak up the next time we saw the oncologist to give an explanation for the large belly does not equal horrible lymph system run amok.

While I probably in part get my stockiness from my Gma, she’s a pretty petite lady these days.  She can stomach those 8 pounds as long as she’s also willing to shell out some money for new pants.

But I however, cannot afford them.  The pounds or the pants.  I don’t have cancer (that we know of) (yet).  My food and exercise choices are made in part to ward off the possibility.  So now I am back to no desserts and (for the time being) no wine.  Which means she is too.  At least with me.

Thank god she has cocktail hour three times a week with other residents of her community!

Oh yeah…that.

Oh yeah…cancer.

I swear to you and my family and random strangers in the grocery store that I am trying to not ride a roller coaster or fret about every little thing.  But since my Gma is a big part of my life and she has cancer, there are only so many places I can hide.

Last Friday more tests results revealed that the cancer has spread.  And further away from the tumor site than originally thought.

She has decided no chemo.  I’m very content with this in the fact that 1) chemo cannot cure this kind of cancer, just supress it; 2) Gma took a lot of time making this decision and it was very informed; and 3) she is still healthy enough and with-it enough to make the decision herself.

This week she wanted to buy more muumuus since bloating often occurs as the lymph nodes grow.  But she also felt she needed new makeup, so she has definitely is not just laying around waiting to die.  Unless she just wanted to make sure she has a pretty face when she goes.  I didn’t ask.

Not exactly a box of chocolates

For the next week or so, Grandma and I can still pretend everything is normal.  I am not even sure if her surgeon told her the news…Grandma asked me while she was still in recovery and groggy on pain meds and I said yes, it was evident cancer had spread to her lymph nodes and she said, but what does that mean, no chemo right and I said, well, yes chemo is the usual treatment but we don’t have to worry about that right now and she said OK.  She hasn’t brought it up since.  We will visit the surgeon next week and that’s soon enough for me.

Grandma has been slow to get back in gear and while I understand she had a kinda major operation, I do believe she is using it as a bit of an excuse to just give in to her general tired and worried attitude.  So when I came today and found she hadn’t dressed all day, I pressed for us to eat at the pseudo-restaurant that’s part of the cafeteria.

Several times throughout the meal she conceded that the dinner was better, more fun, more relaxing and probably good for her.  I mentioned I wasn’t leaving until I saw her dressed and out doors so she might as well as have agreed to a pleasant dinner before I grand marched her.  She said she might have sensed that.  We then had the following conversation.

Me:  Now tomorrow I’ll run errands in the morning, fix lunch, and make sure you’re set for dinner before I leave.

Grandma: Oh, you don’t have to do that.  I can take care of myself.

Me:  You can, can you?

Grandma:  Yes, and I’d better.  Otherwise my granddaughter will…

Me:  Get on to you?

Grandma:  Yes!  You would not believe how tough she is!

Me:  I can imagine.

Grandma:  She’s so tough on me!

Me:  I solved that problem by not having kids.

Grandma:  Well if I had known how it would turn out, I might not have either.

Me:  Indeed.

Grandma:  That’s the problem with things like this.  You never know what you’re going to get.

Supposedly about my grandma but all I talk about is food

The birthday party went very well.  I’ve never seen creamed spinach prepared quite like that and the cheeses used in one of the appetizers were blah, but the main courses and dessert were amazing.  I ordered speciality cakes like the display ones you see in the bakery case of your super market.  I think in the end it was cheaper than a made-to-order birthday cake and tastier too.  I purchased one white cake and one chocolate and put 9 and 0 candles in the center.  May not be a feasible way to do cake for a large party, but for the 14 of us it was perfect.

The white cake was be far everyone’s favorite – really yummy icing – and I was gracious and let Tom finish my piece only because I figured there would be some leftovers to pig out on later.  But while I was chased down with a half-full bottle of chardonney to take home (I ordered one white and one red wine to be offered and paid by the bottle), no one said boo about leftover cake.  Next time I will not be so giving with my sweets.

I was so very done with people by Sunday morning though.  And people were not done with me.  I particularly could not stand how I was the decision maker.  I even said as much when asked for the umpteenth time when we should have lunch but I was told since I had already decided when we needed to leave I had to decide when we had lunch.  Dude.  I had not “decided” when we needed to leave, it was dictacted by my Mom and George’s flight and remedial math.  Anyone else could have used additional substraction (oxymoron?) to figure out lunch time too.  But no.

I was also probably crabby because while I had packed and shopped for my mother’s special diet and George’s snack attacks, I did nothing to keep my own usual food plan on track.  Sunday’s breakfast and lunch were almost completely processed foods and carbs (hello free breakfast buffet and subsequent brunch buffet with no protein I consider edible!), I was on a blood sugar roller coaster and demanding cake for dinner. 

Poor Tom tried to steer me away, but I was set on a take-out shmorgusborg.  And then I planned out a huge, but slightly nutritious, meal from our local Greek restaurant only to have their phone ring and ring.  It’s a small local chain which has cut back hours at this location and apparently their big seller is weekday lunch.  We ended up almost coming to blows between picking another restaurant and ordering, but somehow food arrived and while I did indeed order two (smallish) desserts, I did not also order the fried trio appetizer or even get french fries with my sandwich and sometimes you just have to look for a win somewhere.  

I thought getting back on track yesterday would be easy-peasy, but I scarfed a ton of granola bars and never, ever felt full.  Even with my foolproof plan of organized activity outside the home for the late afternoon, my prime snacking time.  I don’t know what to say about today except that I really need to have one good day before everything gets set in motion again with my extended trip to Grandma’s to see her through surgery.

My poor grandmother’s medical woes really got out of hand and gummed up her birthday.  Or maybe they gave her something else to focus on and that was a good thing.  I don’t know.  But her primary care doctor got pretty snippy and thorough with her sugerical clearance appointment and all of a sudden decided she had a heart murmer that needed testing before she went under the knife.  After a rushed appointment that day, and a stress test yesterday (which was her true birthday.  Happy 90th!  Have some heart-racing drugs and lie still!), she has finally been cleared.  She has a heart murmer because when you get to be 90, you have heart murmers.

I’m thankful her doctor cares, but this was incredibly difficult for her at the last minute and in the end, considering how this cancer can/will spread, there was only one decision to be made.  She has to have the surgery, and he knew that so why be a dick about it?

Although I will admit I am getting a tad scared about this Thursday.  It’s necessary.  And she’s in good hands.  The tumor is such that she can have the least invasive surgical option.  But still.  I cannot even type what I am panicking about in my head because it is too horrible to allow words.  I know she is 90 and last I checked we have not cured the big dirt nap but it doesn’t make it any easier.

I am just so glad, crabbiness and carbs aside, that we had her birthday party.  I need to take a deep breath, pack my bag, and go hide the leftover granola bars.

Party Planning Pooper

My grandmother turns 90 next Monday.  Through much arm twisting and “I don’t care if you think you might die before then, we’ll have the party without you”, I have arranged a dinner party for 14 the Saturday before.

I have planned the meal, ordered the invites, taken the RSVPs complete with fish or beef selection, and nagged Tom to score free hotels both here in Clearwater for the night before (for my brother) and in Gainesville the night of the event (for me and Tom so my brother can use my grandmother’s guest room).

I have selected cakes, confirmed special meal requests with the event coordinator, and directed that the table set-up be two 7-tops versus one large table because my grandmother hates those large tables where you can barely talk to the person across the way.

I have a to-do list that includes buying candles, cute cocktail napkins, and Jack Daniel’s.  I have researched decorating dos and don’ts and come away with the idea of tying mylar balloons to potted plants and letting the guests take a plant home at the end of the night.

And yet…I really feel I suck at this party planning.  I have somehow been unable to do all of this without grace and ease to put my grandmother’s worry-wart mind to rest.  She has worried and worried over the guest list, yet every time we speak of it she decides to leave it as-is.  She worried that I might have addressed the invitations to the general delivery address of her community instead of the guests actual apartment addresses.  (For which I could not help but snap at her.  In a smiley way, yes, but still fiercely insulted.  I am 36-fucking-years-old.  I know how the postal service works.)

And through it all, she worries that she will not feel physically up to a party.  Despite the fact that I have arranged for it to be hosted in a private dining room at her community, mere steps from where she walks every single night for dinner.  And I am absolutely unable to assure her it will be fine.

On top of feeling like a failure at planning this party, she has one dear friend attending whom took it upon herself to call me up when my grandmother was first diagnosed with lymphoma and tell me how awful the chemo would be and it was horrible for grandma to go through it alone.  Grandma and I were both rather upset and insulted by this phone call as I had already planned to do my best to be there, but I was on a different career path at the time and did not have the luxury of making the choice to drop everything and make her a priority as I have done this past year. 

When this dear friend called me to RSVP, she mentioned she was looking forward to meeting me (obviously she forgot the time we ran into each other at Publix) and reminded me of that phone call and brought up how incredibly strong my grandmother was to have gone through chemo alone.

During my walk/runs (w2d1 of c25k)  in the morning I have imaginary conversations with this women, trying to figure out how I might respond if she brings it up yet again at the party.  There is a lot of swearing and tight, fake smiles in these imaginary talks.  I would dearly love to tell this old bat to fuck off, but that just doesn’t seem very hostess-like.  And since it seems my grandmother is determined to be the party-pooper at her own party, I need to plan out a response that doesn’t include a hissed, “Can you just drop it?!”

I am so over this party already, yet I still must visit with my grandmother once more this week and if I am not calm, cool, collected (yet excited and happy and chipper) about the weekend’s festivities, she’ll just worry more.

Maybe this is why people hire party-planners.  So it can be someone else’s fault when the poop hits the fan.

My poor grandmother does have quite a bit on her plate healthwise and I understand that her birthday did not fall at a particularly convenient time, cancer-wise.  But as someone who got on a plane with only 8 hours notice and would not have seen her father alive again if she had stuck to her original itinerary, I believe my family and her friends needed this chance to celebrate with her and hopefully she will feel the same after the fact.  Grandma has always been a nosy, butt-inski worrier so I have to remind myself that she’s just doing what she was born to do. 

Yay! And also? Meh. But mostly Yay.

Grandma’s test results show no cancer activity anywhere but her uterus!  Yay!  (Oh how I have gone from 0 to 60 on feeling comfortable speaking of my grandma’s lady parts.)

So…meeting with the gynecological oncological surgeon (yup.  It amazes me how my regular old internal med NP will cover my pap to my skin biopsies yet get the C-word and the specialists abound) set for later this month.  She may get squeezed in earlier without me there, but that’s where we stand for now.

I showed her the birthday invites and she was pleased with them.  She might even let me send them out now.

So, yay!  On the Meh front…it appears the sniffles were an actual sinus infection.  Which I usually don’t get until day 2 OFF the plane, but probably all the little things I found to stress over dog-piled my immune system, extra vitamin B12 be damned.  I was pretty much a log for the past few days, and most tragically had to abstain from wine and whiskey during my all-important weekly cocktail and dinner hour with Grandma.  But I woke up today 1) feeling a little better! and 2) with a script for a super-duper decongestant that specializes in clearing the ear canals.

The decongestant is something Tom was prescribed a few years ago and we realized how awesome it was for hard-core allergy sufferers/weirdly-shaped-internal-ear-parts people like us.  And when I got really sick in January, I had wet dreams about it.  But I never asked the Dr for it by name, I just asked for something to make me feel better and that led to a script which 1) my pharmacy didn’t carry and 2) would cost me $122.  Which led to a cluster-fuck of nurse/pharmacist/me phone calls and a bottle of cough syrup with codeine which was the exact opposite of what I said I needed (assuming cough suppressant is the antonym of decongestant…it’s been awhile since I took the SATs), but hey codeine.  Plus my fever was 103+ by that point and all my gumption was in the toilet.

So on Thursday when I realized this allergy/cold thingy might hang around and check out DC with us, I called the Dr with a very polite but firm and concise request for this particular decongestant because I was getting on a plane soon.

It cost $70. (Meh)   But worth it.  Tom picked it up while I was still in Gainesville and informed me he’d already swiped one because his ear was hurting.  My flexeril will be forever safe because he can’t stand feeling that woozy, but Rescon is evidently his kryptonite.

We are mostly packed.  Yay!  And also…meh.  Because it was a lot harder to fit two full backpacks into two suitcases and I am not looking forward to any unpacking/shifting/re-packing that might need doing over the next week.  I have finally decided that my cute-yet-heavy-midsized hard sided suitcase needs to be upgraded.  Evidently I bought my Samsonite right before they made some huge hard sided plastic stride in technology and even though Tom’s is about 1/3 bigger than mine, it weighs 1/2.

But, here we sit.  The dishes are in the dish washer.  We’ve agreed on pizza for dinner, so nothing to argue about until we need to get topping-specific.  It appears iteration 6,504 of our plant fencing is holding cat-strong so maybe everything won’t be dead when we get back.

And this time tomorrow, we’ll be heading for Front Royal, VA with two awesome friends we haven’t seen in forever.  Definite Yay.

(Real time update.  Tom just walked out of the bathroom, went to the patio door, and said, “Baby…there’s a cat in there.”  Meaning the plant area.  To which I replied, “No I just blogged it was working.  It can’t not work!”  So…meh?  And also ARGH.  But mostly, yay.  Because in less than 24 hours I won’t give a fuck.)

Not Dead Yet

I’m feeling a little better!…

Except that I’m not.  I woke up this morning with a sore, mucusy throat.  But I believe it is from allergies, and not congestive heart failure so Holy Grail quote is still a win!

My Dr decided things looked good enough at my follow up to just keep me off my meds and see me in a month.  If I were gonna be honest here, my heart rate is looking better and better to me each workout but my blood pressure seems to be remaining high.

I am remedying that by not taking my blood pressure so often.  THE STRESS OF HIGH BP IS GIVING ME HIGH BP.  I didn’t even have to google for that diagnosis.  I am that good.

Sadly (really sadly, not funny sadly), the reason that I hadn’t come to spread my heart rate joy sooner is because my grandmother has developed another cancer.

No, not her second.  Her THIRD.  She is a month and 10 days away from turning 90, kicked breast cancer’s ass in 2001 with a simple lumpectomy and radiation, responded amazing well to chemo and put lymphoma in remission 2+ years ago, and now she has to deal with aggressive uterine cancer.

The Dr told her that no treatment at all meant a possbility of bleeding out.  She said she wouldn’t mind that so much.  And I totally get it.

What I didn’t totally get right away is how much of all this is now completely my responsibility.  Not her physical care – we agreed way back in the beginning that I was a coordinator/facilitator/and procurer of hard-to-find items such as a Bunn coffee maker delimer.  I have no medical background, unless you count the fact that I can hide tramadol in ground turkey and make a picky lion eat it.

But…with my father gone, not only does it make sense for me to be her health proxy there’s really no one else qualified to do it. 

It also made me realize that all the annoying red tape that occurs after someone dies will fall solely on me.  I am not adult enough to call social security and inform them of someone’s passing.  I cringe at being one-on-one with her southern good ole boy lawyer.  And the idea of being responsible for a funeral just plain gives me the whillies.  Or high blood pressure.

BUT!  NOT DEAD YET.  Me or grandma.  So I’m gonna cross that line then set it on fire with Jack Daniel’s when I come to it.

She has been more tired lately, and a little ditzy about remembering where we were on a conversation, putting words in my mouth that are actually from her dinner companion the previous night, etc.  Ya know, basic I’m 90 Get Off My Lawn stuff.  She is still with-it enough to make sure her own decisions so for now she will.  If she chooses treatments, I will coordinate more in-home care for her and rearrange my schedule as best as possible to be there for surgeries/appointments/what-have-you.

If she chooses no treatments, I will coordinate more in-home care or hospice as it appears to be needed.

In the meantime, I ordered the invitations to her 90th birthday dinner.  Because if my options are to plan for death or plan for life….well, one of them can include balloons and wine and one…huh.  I guess you could have balloons and wine at a funeral.   But maybe not as brightly colored balloons or such sweet wine (a tempranillo she and I drink almost every Wednesday together).

We will see her oncologist on Friday to get the results of further tests.  There is still one more Dr we will probably have to meet with before she decides on her treatment – the one that can say for sure whether a hysterectomy could be done laparoscopic or not. 

In the meantime, I will drive like the wind home from the Friday appointment to finish packing for the DC trip.  Our plane leaves at 8:10am Saturday.  I will get four days home (two of those spent with Grandma) before I fly to Chicago and help out on the farm for 5 days.

I am very worried that I will somehow injure myself hiking and will be unable to help care for Grandma or help my mother with planting.  Given my track record of spraining an ankle by tripping on PINE NEEDLES, I don’t this it’s an unjustified concern.

So if you see some squat lady in a hot pink leopard onsie traversing the north part of the SNP on hands and knees, stop and say hi.