That’s what friends are for

Mrs. Wesolowski would turn over in grave if she saw this title and its dangling participle.  So sorry my late English teacher.  It’s even a song title and a great pop tune as well:

Tonight I got to go back in time to my working days.  I had the privilege of talking on the phone with 2 ladies via conference call that I worked with over 10 years ago.  The two of them are long time friends from college.  As for me, “P1” was the Certified Occupational Therapy Assistant (COTA) in a skilled nursing facility (SNF) where I was her supervising Occupational Therapist.  She was hard-working, dedicated, thorough, and very kind with all of our rehabilitation patients.  We had lots of memorable moments and a few we would rather forget as well.  It’s all in the mix when you serve others in the zany, fast-paced people business of healthcare.

“P2” was also a COTA in another SNF when we met, providing quality therapy services over the weekend.  We laughed and got an incredible amount of work done with residents we hardly knew when covering for the regular therapists.  On call work isn’t for everyone when you have to provide billable services in a place where you can hardly find the resident’s rooms in an unfamiliar setting!  What I remember most about P2 was our 1 1/2 years together when I assisted her with a Fibromyalgia Support group she founded for Central DuPage Hospital.  I learned a lot from P2 as she cared for those who attended as friends, as sojourners, emphasizing the importance of keeping our focus on wellness, not just illness when battling chronic pain.

I am so grateful that P1 put this call together tonight.  We got to talk “shop” for the first time for me in a long time.  They also understood the administrative details with which I have struggled in my brother’s care after a stroke 3 months ago.  With P2 we share a strong interest in gardening:  in the past P2’s home was a registered bird and butterfly sanctuary in the west suburbs of Chicago (a very unlikely place for a natural retreat!)  With P1 I share overcoming a traumatic event at our place of work when an administrator verbally attacked her in front of a regional rehabilitation manager who did nothing to defend P1.  She ended up resigning to save her dignity and avoid having to travel many miles between two facilities with the second one even further from her home.  I respected her tremendously for moving on.  We lost a dedicated employee that day but I gained a friendship that has endured more than this . . .

Their sons are now nearly grown and I have moved 200 miles away to another State to remarry and start a new life.  P1 is back in occupational therapy in a SNF near her home and P2 provides Ai Chi water classes to those seeking peace through gentle movements and relaxation techniques.  Both apply everyday what it means to be trained in the field of occupational therapy:  adapting to the challenges and opportunities of life, enriching the lives of others, connecting with those we hold dear.  I do miss working as an occupational therapist.  I also recognize that I am grateful for the skills I learned in O.T. that I use everyday to cope with an ongoing, serious illness.  Sometimes I wish I could go back in time to relive some of those days when a twinkle in the eye of an older adult was my greatest reward for a job well done.  Or when I hear a whoot! whooot! from behind a closed door from a patient who has just regained the ability to care for himself because of the therapeutic relationship with his seasoned COTA.  Those were the days, eh ladies?

As we move forward in life the focus must always change at some point.  I do wonder if I will get to share a cup of coffee or tea with P1 and P2 in person?  Or maybe we will walk in P2’s garden along the wetland in her backyard and marvel at the 80 birdhouse gourds she might harvest once again.  We probably will never work together again and that’s cool too.  But hey, let’s never lose touch o.k.?  You have filled my heart with goodness this night and I appreciate you too so very much.  Seeya on Facebook.  Love to you both,  Just Julie

winnie_the_pooh_tigger_and_piglet_die_cut_da7ca15e

 

 

 

 

Puffy white clouds and 5 sparrows

 Are not five sparrows sold for two pennies? Yet not one of them is forgotten by God. Indeed, the very hairs of your head are all numbered. Don’t be afraid; you are worth more than many sparrows.  Luke 12

At first it looked like a gentle breeze flowing through the branches of the variegated dogwood bush outside our bedroom window.  Puffy clouds drifted past the backdrop of the truest “sky blue” you could desire on an early summer afternoon.  Such a simple scene, peaceful too.  Then again the rustling appeared to come from below my view.  Was there, wait, yes maybe there’s a little critter in there moving the branches about?  And lo there she was:  a lone house sparrow spritely jumping about within the leaf cover in and out of my view just a few feet away.  Better not move a muscle or I might disturb the work of my feathered friend.  Does she know that I could almost reach out and touch her marbled wings if the screen window didn’t separate us, didn’t provide secluded freedom for your Saturday play . . .

The little one flew away as my gaze returned to the light blue walls next to the bed inside the window.  Maybe if I waited just a little longer another visitor would appear?  To my delight the green-with-white birdhouse was rustling again from the top, the bottom, and even just beyond my view!  Let’s see:  there’s one, two, three . . . a fourth appeared and darted deeper into the cover of leaves as a fifth little birdie perched right in front of me too.  Silly little one.  He began preening his ecru-colored chest feathers without a care in the world as the branch bobbled up, down, and all around.  He reminded me of my brother’s childhood parakeet, Perky.  How they flex their necks so steeply to reach the soft feathers that form a collar of fluff I’ll never know.  Such a curious, skittish, carefree creation indeed.  Then in a matter of a few seconds, they all flew away . . .

I was alone again.  Maybe I could try to move my head and adjust the comforter covering my chilled shoulders?  Yes, that’s good.  But to move my legs and arms was not to be just yet as my attempt to do so triggered another mini seizure attack episode.  Sigh.  I thought I would be recovering by now.  Not so.  Oh well, when my husband comes back I’ll ask him to bring me the lunch I had made myself earlier and put into the frig in case we were to go out on our tandem outrigger canoe this afternoon.  What a nice treat I thought it would be to have something made ahead of time that fit my special diet and tasted yummy too.  Not quite.  Gratefully it wasn’t too long before he returned to check on me, brought me the container of rice paper finger sandwiches and fed me several bites, one by one.  Then he put the bicycle water bottle to my mouth so I could sip some water and wash down the food sticking to my throat as I lain sideways on the bed.  A few bites, a long sip, a few bites, a long sip.  He has this routine down pretty well by now.  Thankfully these complete neurological collapse episodes only happen every 10 days lately.  They used to be every couple days . . .

In time my strength returned and I was able to put a pillow under my own head and feed myself.  Unfortunately something triggered a major seizure jolt when my beloved returned, setting me back again for awhile.  He was sitting close to me and I suddenly needed some fresh air from outside the window.  Stevers obliged then left me alone again to recover per our routine for these sort of things.  Again I revived.  Eventually I was able to weakly get out of bed and start to put on some clothes.  That’s a nice thing to do after a shower at 2 in the afternoon.  I was feeling a little funny lying there naked rolled up in the comforter.  Oh well.  It’s the best I could do after beginning to collapse in the shower an hour earlier, struggling to dry myself off, and Steve helping me lie down as it appeared I would be falling over any moment.  Flash forward almost two hours as the episode was resolving I was grateful to be able to move my left arm again.  Looks like I would be o.k. albeit shaken for several more hours anyways . . .

Sitting outside in the sunshine helped me regain my strength.  Of course I had another one of my low oxalate snack concoctions (white chocolate!) and a refill of cool water in my trusty Summit City Bicycles and Fitness water bottle.  Little did the guys at the shop know how helpful that bottle had become when I needed a special flow-control mouthpiece to refresh me when in bed, not on the Fort Wayne River Greenway!  Maybe someday soon I’ll get back on my bike.  I am grateful to have had a test run of two miles earlier this Spring; I should be able to repeat a short ride on a better Saturday afternoon really soon, Lord willing.  How hard could it be to peddle a few miles?  Well anyways sitting outside on our patio later this afternoon with pretty gardens all around me and the sun still shining brightly overhead did me a world of good.  The puffy white clouds still filled the sky and I could hear sparrows, robins, and more in the distance.  I got up to pluck a few weeds, pick a few radishes, tinker here and there before returning into the house.  Perhaps my beloved would understand that this day would be better spent at home than paddling on a lake somewhere?  Change of plans.  Enduring these kinds of afternoons together makes it obvious what we should do, more than words can ever say . . .

The rest of the day was decent as I prepared a nice dinner and some food for tomorrow in case we are able to reschedule our outing on the water together.  I do try to be hopeful, eh?  As most Gentle Readers would recognize in this blog we tend to live our lives over here a bit spontaneously:  making plans more at the last minute, in the afternoon or evening, and after checking the weather report/Julie’s snack supply/whatever we can reschedule to be able to get away . . .

This evening?  Not so nice.  We are just not sure what is going on with these wretched evening episodes again.  After a full year of 1-3 hour episodes virtually every night after dark and up to 30 minutes most mornings, you would think one of these specialists I’ve seen would have figured it out!  Yes, my melatonin level is off the chart and melatonin levels change at night.  I am getting out in the sunshine just about every day, exercising at night, avoiding foods with tryptophan (that tends to elevate melatonin) and more per my internet research on the subject yet the excess must be persisting.  (Labs to follow!)  Then my new biotoxin doctor laid a good one on me yesterday, saying that if anyone could figure out what to do IT WOULD BE ME SINCE I KNOW MY SITUATION THE BEST.  Whaaaat?  Why do you think I pursued your clinic out of State?  I was hoping YOU could figure it out!  Even my brilliant functional medicine doctor in addition to your brilliant functional medicine colleague have largely set me adrift.  Now you are saying since I cannot tolerate Dr. Shoemaker’s biotoxin protocol that you cannot help me either?  If you think I was able to figure this out would I be calling you?  Geez oh man.  Lord, come what may . . .

Back to the story of the bird in the hand is worth two in the bush OR wait a minute:  there aren’t any birds here right now since it’s after 4 in the morning!  Yes, I’m back to my late night schedule again.  Let’s see . . .  perhaps Luke 12 can remind me that just as the Lord provided me a sweet distraction of His delightful creation in my time of distress, He cares for me and for Steve in our times of distress too.  He has provided for our needs despite the incredible expenses, sustained us during multiple special events when extraordinary measures were needed to keep me as safe as possible, and granted me the time and space to get well when I cannot work.  I am grateful for my incredibly loving husband, a pretty home and gardens to enjoy when I cannot go out, and sparing of my abilities to think take care of my basic needs.  Sometimes I need to wait for the Lord’s timing on some of these things which is o.k. too.  I have learned to appreciate blessings in smaller packages with gratitude as they present themselves each day . . .

So I choose to take to heart His statement, His promise to care for all of the details of my life.  He knows all about what is happening over here and desires for me to be courageous, not afraid.  He has laid it on my heart that He has a plan and a future for my life (Jeremiah 29:11) and that nothing will separate me from Him or His will (Romans 8:38).  I get this.  Perhaps it’s why I don’t spend as much time crying anymore when the wretchedness comes.  Instead I’ll say,

Not only that, but we rejoice in our sufferings, knowing that suffering produces endurance, and endurance produces character, and character produces hope, and hope does not put us to shame, because God’s love has been poured into our hearts through the Holy Spirit who has been given to us.  Romans 5 (ESV)

With the lightness of heart shown to me by my Creator God this afternoon in my time of need, I’ll take the last word of the paragraphs granted by His grace and noted above:

This new day will come anyways, and no matter what may come or others may say, I will find a way to play with lightness of heart in celebration of the One who goes before me and will never go away!

Thank you Jesus for your Word, for your gift of words.  Thank you for helping me get through that to which you have called me and should any good shine through may it be for your glory Lord.  If it is your will I ask for your healing mercies and a time of blessing.  I lift up my husband (Steve), and my brother (Mike) too for your anointing and blessing.  If there is anything hindering our walk with You, please guide us, restore us through your Holy Spirit so that we may delight in sweet fellowship with you all of our days.

In Jesus’ name I pray.  Amen.

HouseSparrow

A day in the life of our dog

 

It's me, Elle!
It’s me, Elle!

8:30 a.m.     The big guy has finally finished praying, eating out of a tiny bowl, and remembered the fuzzy one at his feet.  Yippee!  It’s time for mad dashes across the yard at Top Gun speed in the cool air that I really like.  The tall one thinks I really like that neon green ball but really it’s the hip massages I crave that follow when I roll onto my back at just the right moment.  Roll over too soon and the scratches will barely reach my undercoat.  Submit too late and he mutters something about work as our bonding time ends.  HEY, I LIVE FOR THIS!  What else is there in a dog’s life?

8:45 a.m.      No way the dude got as tall as he is with the dry nuggets he feeds me.  Better check out what’s in that little black bowl on the table when he’s in my storm shelter (aka bathroom) later.  Finally it’s time to eat again, gourmet Purina Select for my allergies, but it’s chump change for a pup with discerning tastes.  Oh well.  I’ll see what I can charm out of the girly one when she appears after my post-breakfast nap.

9:00 a.m.      I watch out the window as my buddy leaves in the bat mobile with funky racks on the roof and a grumbling noise that’s worse than me.  Sigh.  Who knows when the girly one will find me lying here in the laundry room.  Better position myself so I can see her when she comes for me yet still defend my turf if needed.  My eyes may be covered with furry lids yet I know when that beastly garbage truck, UPS invader, yellow child carrier, meter reader or anyone else threatens my territory.  Time to go to work or is it sleep?  They will never know!

9:30 a.m.        Looks like the girly one has entered my zone here at the front of the house but she is ignoring me already.  “Hi Elle” doesn’t cut it when my ears need scratching!  Sometimes she gives me a teaser then goes and washes her hands in the perennial water bowl on the counter.  Nice sentiment!  I never brush my teeth when I lick your pants do I?  Those earthlings just don’t get it.  My mouth is cleaner than a baby’s bottom!  Just ask G.J., the mutt that used to lick your grandmother’s feet every night.  Heaven for both of them for sure.

10:00 a.m.      More food smells fill my nose!  Sometimes she’s eating in the unauthorized zone for me, in the back of the house somewhere and sometimes she’s out here with me in the kitchen.  I like it when I am within range of the good stuff.  She eats meat for breakfast and that is what I like too.  I often get a fat scrap to tide me over until they almost forget to feed me in the evening.  I really need to unionize or file a complaint about that one.  I am on watch at this point.  The girly one is up and I am a shepherd.  I will protect her from anyone that drives into the courtyard that needs my scolding.  Warning:  “come near and I will eat you!” or at least it’s going to sound like when you come near.  That’s just the way it goes with bigger pups like yours truly.

11:00 a.m.      Now where did she go?  Hey, it’s still puppy play time!  What about me?  Sish.  She’s gone back to the unknown zone in the back where I am not allowed to roam.  Things get really quiet when she is back there.  She’s still got that fake fur light blue coat on so maybe she is taking her own post-breakfast nap.  Humans!  Who can figure them out?  Better believe that she will reappear if my barking is convincing enough.  Hmmmmm.  I could mess with her on this one a bit.  And maybe I have . . . .

2 or 3 or 4:00 p.m.  If she is still here and hasn’t left me stranded in my boring dog zone in the kitchen, the girly one is back.  Yes!  That means it’s time to go outside if I haven’t gone earlier.  Sometimes she makes me wait a long time.  Good thing I’m not on a potty schedule or anything.  Gotta time these slurps of day-old water just right.  (Not that I mind day-old water.  Mud puddle, bird bath, pond scum, water dish are all the same to me!)  If I am really cute maybe she will play with me a little longer or take me for a ride in the giant metal pet carrier on wheels.  Well I am just going to sit here with my ball beyond the property line where she has tossed it and give her my best silhouette.  It’s kind of like being obedient.  She doesn’t know that it is a game with me.  Who wins is the one who gets to play longer.  If I come back right away after squirting the grass then she will usually toss the ball for me a couple more times.  Win-win.  I’m a dog and I’m not concerned about her afternoon appointments.  It’s play time!

7-9:00 p.m.   Rarely do I get to go anywhere in the evening unless short stuff takes me for a walk.  When she grabs that black leash I am in heaven!  Otherwise if they have stranded me for the day, it’s nearly dark when my peeps return with bags of stuff that rarely contains food for me.   What a waste!  Take me with you next time!  I’ll sniff out the best deals!  Oh well.  At least they take me for a bathroom run again and let me run around the yard a bit before dark.  The winter time is best for this when that white stuff is on the ground.  I LIVE FOR SNOW!  The big guy puts on his paw extensions and we go for long slides around my watering hole out back.  IT’S THE BOMB!  In the warmer months I get to do pretty much whatever I want while either the tall dude is pushing a buzzing snack shaver around my yard or the shorter one is digging up stuff, playing with my watering wand, or kicking me out of bunny sniffing zones.  Paws are better for digging dontcha know and I have an underground condo to prove it!  Alas, I love being outside.  It’s where I was born and where I belong.  However I’d really rather be with these oddballs without fur (except the big guy who has a wimpy version compared to me) so I go in when I am called.  It’s my duty as their pup!

10:00 p.m.     My masters sit and eat in front of me and never feed me from the table.  What a rip off!  It’s not like I can’t smell it you know!  Later when they remember that I am hungry too (I am not just being cute:  I am trying to tell you something!), they dump some more MRE rations in my bowl.  Hey throwing it on the floor would be more fun really.  Whatever.  When the girly one gives me some skin, as in chicken skin, I am in heaven.  This when I know I am truly alive.  Then they wrestle with me and I pretend to chew on their paws.  Yeah, they really love me.  Even if they cut back on the tartar control mix they call dinner, to keep me a lean, mean, fighting machine — I don’t mind.  The rabbits get a better run when I have a waist don’t you know?

11:00 p.m.      At last.  More dog time with my master.  Oh the girly one thinks she has my heart cause she pets me when we are home alone or up late at night.  Yeah but it’s the big dude that sets me straight and that is cool with me.  I get a little wild sometimes in my canine heart that wants to run freeeeeeeee!  His discipline is firm.  This is how I know he loves me and wants to protect me as much as I want to protect him.  I don’t really want to get squashed in the street you know as I chase the kids on their bikes.  Maybe it looks like I don’t know what I am doing?  That is not the case.  I am a smart German shepherd and I am always on alert don’t you know.  Just watch me sitting at the edge of the yard sometimes, placing my furry tush between them and any potentially offending intruder.  One false move and I will let them know who is boss.  Well, at least my bark will say that I am da boss!

Wee hours of the a.m.   This is a strange time in my den.  The girly one has been up with me until nearly daylight for the past 2 years.  Sometimes I hear her crying in distress and it breaks my puppy heart.  I am worried about her and I know she sees it in my face.  The look is good for a scratch behind the ears too.  “Puppy therapy” she calls it when I see her a little later.  Whew!  I sigh with relief that she’s o.k.  I don’t know how she does it every night.  Maybe she will get better and sleep more like me.  I think it’s starting to happen but I can’t be sure.  It’s a dog’s life and I live in the moment.  Besides, dozing, sleeping, listening with my eyes closed is a full-time job you know.  She used to do stuff outside our den most days of the week.  Oh well.  For now she’s here with me, most days and every night and I love her.  The big guy is pretty cool too.  He is rough with me and I like it.  Such a nice blend.  They make a great couple.  Oh well.  What do I know?

I’m just a dog and this is my story.  Elle.