Category Archives: Kat

asking for help

By Kat

having been strong, independent, and a diy sort for more years than i can remember, i have found myself in a very difficult position. i am physically very weak, cognitively challenged by fibro-fog, and emotionally drained. it seems that most of my myriad health issues are progressive, which means that they are and will continue to get worse.

because of health problems, more often than not i face saying no to friends who want me to visit or go somewhere with them. aside from the chronic pain and often-debilitating fatigue, what challenges me most is asking for help. that is something i have seldom had to do in my adult life. after doing for myself for so long and also helping others, i see that i took some pride in those abilities.

i now find myself in a most untenable position. not only am I unable to do my own repairs or stand long enough to prepare my own meals, i haven’t the strength or energy to clean my own house. at quite a cost for one living on social security alone, i now order paleo, gluten-free meals which only require a couple minutes in the microwave. six meals that are fresh, never frozen, arrive every saturday. additionally, i have finally been added to pcoa’s list of disabled people waiting for at-home aid. having procrastinated too long, my house has become impossibly dirty.

as things stand now, my health will never improve in any way. i am constantly researching each illness, injury, and syndrome looking for new possibilities. there are three, possibly four, procedures that give me hope toward relieving much of the unrelenting pain. after exploring these options with doctors, i am convinced that these are my very best hope. neither of the first two are covered by insurance, and both are a long way from my affordability.

since this story is about asking for help, i will not go into detail here about specific diagnoses or the methods which could lead to some relief. today i will be deciding whether or not to do what I find the most difficult of all to ask for. the question at hand is, shall I start a go-fund-me page asking for financial assistance for the procedures? i set today as the final day to make a decision. i still have mixed feelings about asking and am needing to complete a tiny bit more research on fees.

July 2019

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kitty haiku

By Kat

early morn brings cat feet
land hard by my sleeping head
whiskers tickle my face

little cat paws tap my face
insistently demanding
wake human; food time!

relentless tapping
begrudgingly, eyes open
four eyes stare; i laugh

June 2019

how i ended the gulf war

By Kat

in the 1980’s i moved from my home state of maryland to virginia beach. just before I left, a friend advised me, “don’t get involved with a military man.” i had not even realized that it was a town populated by navy and marines. my wish was simply to live near the ocean, and enjoy the beach. at any rate, her words were wasted.

at thanksgiving, i was invited to a gathering of folks with no family in the area. that day we became a family of sorts and i met a man who i eventually lived with for five years. he was, of course, a navy man, stationed at an airfield in norfolk. after a time he was reassigned to the uss america, an aircraft carrier. the ship would leave port for two- to four-week cruises, which meant he was home more than he was gone.

until december of 1991, when the ship headed to the gulf war. desert storm raged for 100 days, during which my eyes were glued to television coverage and my heart bled with fear. there are no words to describe the impact of receiving a letter explaining what he wanted me to tell his family in case he did not return.

my own family was supportive; my dad came to visit and stayed with me through the initial few weeks. dad literally pulled me away from the tv at one point, made me take a benedryl and go to bed. it is difficult to imagine what it is like for families who go through the fear and concern for years at a time. those 100 days were some of the most stressful i have ever experienced.

letters were regularly mailed back and forth. though, at one point, when none had arrived in nearly 10 days, i think our mail carrier began to worry that i might do him harm. like all the other military spouses and partners, i lived for those missives of love, reassurance, and private thoughts that only someone in a war would have.

sometime in february 1992, i put together a care package i hoped would cheer up my faraway partner. into a box went homemade cookies, a couple of books, lollipops, fudge leftover from the holidays. it took a little longer to decide what to add that would simply be for fun. after some creative thinking, i crafted a large peace symbol from clay and hung it on a chain, tie-dyed a t-shirt, made long bead necklaces, found an old bandana to which i affixed buttons with sayings like “make love, not war”, “save the whales”, “wage peace” and mailed the package off to the america.

amid the tension and concerns of making war, my gift became a great excuse to have some fun aboard ship. one morning my partner donned the tie-dyed shirt, slipped the beads and peace sign on, tied the bandana around his head, and headed for the tower. along the way, sailors laughed and yelled out, “you damned hippie!” and “hey, we’re at war here; take that stuff off!”. my guy laughed, shouting back, “i’m into peace!”, declaring that, “i will wear these clothes until the war ends!”.

the next day, the war in the gulf was over. naturally, he attributed this to the “peace package” I had sent.

May 2019

Senior Peeing

By Kat

last week something strange happened. twice, upon awakening, i had the normal urge to empty my bladder. as i climbed out of bed, the urge became ur–gent. as i hustled to the bathroom the pressure was overwhelming. oh my gosh, i thought, i might not make it! when i opened the bathroom door and my bladder saw the toilet, i distinctly heard it sigh oh yes and it promptly let go. before i reached my destination.

my own will was worth nothing. i had no control. later in the week i mentioned the incidents to a friend, who immediately said, oh you’re . . . and then he said that awful word . . . incontinent. i was horrified. he went on to tell me that lend-a-hand could give me diapers. gasp. diapers!!!

well, my bladder must have been horrified too; it hasn’t happened again.

April 2019

Into the Woods

“When you bring your body out into the landscape you’re bringing your body home.” the late John O’Donohue, Irish poet.

By Kat

There is healing energy in nature. When we leave behind the concrete, steel, bricks, asphalt and general busy-ness of the city, the body begins to relax and the mind lets go of the constant chatter associated with the stresses of life.

In the sound of gurgling water, there is peace. In the low-hanging branches of a tree, heavily laden with leaves, there is peace. In the warmth of the afternoon sun, there is peace. In the sight of undulating mountains, there is peace.

Silence overwhelms the brain-chatter, easing the breath, calming the spirit. After a time, the soft, sweet sounds of nature join the silence. Soft bird calls, small rodents scurrying through the underbrush, the swish, swish of deer, parading through dried leaves, the scrapes of tiny claws as a squirrel shimmies up a tree trunk.

The sights, sounds, and earthy odor of the woods combine to create a feeling of peace and of coming home.

February 2019

Grief

By Kat

I was engaged in lively conversation with several of my cousins. Suddenly my mouth fell open as I glanced across the roomful of mourners. There stood my thirty-five year old son who I had not seen since the year he was nineteen. (I am not counting the hospital visit after my accident, because I have no memory of it.) My shock was overwhelming, even though I had been informed that he might be there.

As I watched, he surreptitiously glanced at me several times, though continually ignoring the fact that we saw each other and making it obvious he intended no move to connect whatsoever. The surprise and the pain that followed assaulted my emotions. Trying desperately to hide the tears running down my face and the sobs that escaped my mouth, I fled to a nearby hallway where I slumped onto a small sofa. Comfort came from an unexpected source.

My niece’s husband spotted me crying and came to sit beside me. His gentle manner, intelligent words and genuine caring lent me some measure of solace despite my inconsolable grief. Eventually he suggested I go say hello, thank my son and his dad for coming and inquire about his dad’s family. Then, if they refused to engage, walk away. His advice provided me with the courage to try. I so wanted a chance to rekindle a relationship with my son.

The time it had taken to quell my fear and despair must have been long. My sister appeared to remind me that family members had been asking for me. Bob and Andrew had left. They returned the following day for the funeral.

During the service, Andrew and I again exchanged glances. Each time our eyes met, he quickly turned away, pretending that he hadn’t seen me. Grief washed over me; for the brother-in-law I had lost to surgical complications; for the son I had somehow also lost.

Following the service, friends and family milled about the huge lobby and my son and I continued the look/don’t look game for a bit. His persistence in looking regenerated some hope in me for reconciliation. I viewed this as an opportunity which I did not want to miss. In as much physical pain as emotional, I gathered my resolve and hobbled in his direction.

For a fraction of a second, the world, and my heart, stopped, as Andrew and his dad saw me, then turned to flee down a side hallway and disappear through a secondary door.

Though the hurt ran deep, later that evening, while processing the day with my sister, I managed to return to default mode. That meant accepting what is, and treating adversity with humor. “I have just one thing to say,” I pronounced. “They couldn’t have fled any faster if their asses were on fire.”

February 2019

Ice Cream

By Kat

Ice cream is the joy and the bane of my life. There are few experiences more sensual than the cool, soft, creaminess sliding over my tongue, tasting of cherries or caramel or peanut butter or sweet chocolate. The pleasure is almost sacred. Letting it lay on my tongue until, finally, it glides down, spreading the joy to my very soul.

My words spill onto paper today to day farewell, to release its hold. Alas, my love of the silky smoothness is more than love; each time I choose to savor this palate-pleasure more than a few times in a given week, it becomes addiction. I will purchase ice cream on every grocery trip, sometimes stopping between trips solely for ice cream. And, slowly the pounds pile on, 1, 2, 3, 4, 5, 10, 25 . . . until the mirror and the fit of my clothing reveal the damage done by months of indulgence.

It’s time to stop. The doctor’s office scale and my physical discomfort tell me I am 15 pounds over the weight at which I am most comfortable.

My blood pressure is up. I fear the results of blood work – currently being tested for sugar, cholesterol – all the numbers internists insist on reviewing. Now willpower builds, even as the nearly-last luxuriously lingual liquid languishes in my mouth. Quitting is a process.

I allow a few days or a week of binging on my favorites. And then, just stop. It helps to know that, after a while, I will not suffer the cravings, no longer put ice cream on my store list, and, mostly will not miss it. Soon I will return to the near-Paleo diet that helps me hang onto better health. For now, truly living in the moment, I will savor each offering for a few more days.

July 2018