The One About the Finger Injury, Birthing Goats, and Green Yarn

My Cousin is one of the most fascinating and beautiful folks I know.

Wait.  Perhaps I should start at the beginning.

So Saturday night, after a lovely afternoon of painting and then a massive trip to the grocery store, I came home to unload and start supper.  I wasn’t doing the best I could do, and I cut my finger.  No blame anywhere except myself.  I was tired, I wasn’t paying attention and slice–right through my left ring finger on the side up near the nail.

Bleeding. For days.

Okay.  I exaggerate.  Slightly.

It bled for an hour.  Which can seem like an eternity when it’s your blood.  I put ice and pressure on it and every single time I checked it, it started right back to flowing forth.

Anxiety Girl came and sat down on the couch with me where I sat trying to stop the bleeding and keep my finger elevated.  She shook her head at me, and then she whispered, “So you think this could finally be IT?  I mean, that’s a lot of blood coming out of there.  You might even need stitches.  You probably are feeling a bit woozy, light-headed, huh?”

And you know what?  She was RIGHT.  I was feeling dizzy.  Just how much blood had I lost? Could you lose too much blood through a finger cut?

I finally did what I’ve done for close to three years now.

Without my Mama to talk me down and tell me what to do, I called my Cousin, because she’s all about the healing.  She knows all the things.  When she didn’t answer, I called my Aunt.  Because she knows just how many “poor babies” I need in any given situation, and she has met Anxiety Girl, and she is all about the healing things too.

We assessed the situation and realized that while I didn’t have the perfect remedies here, I did have a *fingers crossed* suitable substitute.  At least until I could talk to my Cousin.  So I applied the cream I had here and covered it with a bandaid and thought all the positive thoughts.

Okay, mostly positive thoughts.  I was still worried.  A bit.

Okay, a lot.

But that Anxiety Girl–she’s a persistent one.  It’s hard to shake her.

It was then that my Cousin called back.

She said the cream could maybe help, but that applying cayenne pepper to the cut would stop the bleeding very quickly.  “It will sting,” she said. “But it will do the job.”

Well, doing the job was what I was worried about.  Stinging I figured I could handle.  I was raised with that one bottle of Mercurochrome at my Granny’s, so I know stinging.

Aub stood by with the bottle of cayenne pepper, a little too eager for my comfort level, but she insisted she was only trying to help.  I unwrapped the bandage and lo and behold–no blood!

Hallelujah.  That cayenne pepper is so good it worked metaphysically.

My Cousin and I celebrated over the phone, and I thanked her.  She is such a blessing to all of us, and I hope she knows that.  As we talked, she apologized for not getting the call when I first tried to call her.  She had been out checking her very pregnant Mama Goat.  She said it looked like it could be another little bit before Mama gives birth.  She just hopes the birth won’t happen on one of these nights with the lows in the 20’s.

My mouth dropped open.  “You are one of the most fascinating creatures God ever created,” I told her, and I meant every word.  She is.  And she’s funny and clever and kind too.

She and I are each working on a temperature blanket for 2016.  We will crochet a Granny stripe each day with the color based on the high temperature of the day.  We planned out our original colors, but the more I thought about it, the more I didn’t like the true green with the other colors we chose.  I stayed up late into the night worrying over it a couple of nights ago.

My Cousin stays up late worrying over birthing goats.

Ahem.

I owe her this.

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An epilogue to the story:

Due to all the injuries, both real and imagined, that happen around here and with our neighborfriends, we were nearly out of bandaids here at the house. This sent me into mini-panic mode Saturday night, as I knew I needed a band-aid to hold my wound together–at least until it started healing on its own.

The next morning Aub and I went to the Getting Place, and I went straight to the bandage section.  I found all kinds of neat things to wrap around my wound–er, ahem, I mean–cut.  As Justin Case handed me several different packages including finger “covers,” Aub shook her head and said, “Mama!  You’re going to wind up spending $100 on band-aids and bandages.”  She sounded more than a little exasperated and very near to being fully incensed.

I held my finger up high for any and all around to see, and I announced a little louder than usual, “I have injured my finger.  Do not judge.”  And I added a pack of Star Wars band-aids to my cart for good measure.

Because Star Wars.  And if you have to wear them, why not wear ones that are cool and make you happy?

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I hurt my lil’ ol’ finger, y’all.  

Tonight I’m thankful for the ones who are here who take my calls.  Or call me back.  Either way.  The ones who put up with my silly woes and worries and help me heal.  Not just my finger, but my heart and soul–the little bits of me that miss the way my Mama would tell me in that way she had that “it will either get better or it will get worse–and then you’ll know.”  She usually followed up that statement with words that let me know she fully expected “it”–whatever it was–would get better.  Just give it time.

Wishing you all folks in your posse who love you and have all the best healing powers.  And I wish you matching yarn and plenty of band-aids–whatever your favorites are.  Because sometimes it’s the little things that ease your spirit.

Love to all.

***oh and I’m thankful I didn’t have to actually use the cayenne pepper this time around***  But NOW I know…..

 

 

 

 

Drive Thru Open

This evening on the way home from swim practice, we passed the Taco Bell not too far from our house.  I noticed it was closed the other day–for remodeling, I finally figured out.  The work truck parked outside was a pretty good clue.

Tonight their marquee said, “Drive Thru Open.”

Really?

What amazes me is that this is the second sign like this that I have seen in the past couple of weeks.  The Arby’s across town was being renovated and rejuvenated in a big way, and their sign also indicated you could pull through and get your supper fix.

Even with the wires hanging from the removed ceiling tiles and ladders propped up inside and the doors wide open for easy access for the workers.

But still, they were cooking back there.

I suppose I should comment on their tenacious, go get ’em spirit.  That they are carrying on as usual despite all the “bumps” and ladders in the road.

I might should, but I’m not.

Sometimes, folks, we just need to shut down for a day or three.  If things get to the point where we need renovation, rejuvenation, and healing, the time has come to shut things down so all of that can happen and happen well.

Not some rush, half-way job while trying to keep things going anyway.  There are no good shortcuts when it comes to healing.

The folks that love us will be patient and will be there when we open the doors again.

May we all have the strength to be weak and allow our souls the time they need to replenish.

Love to all.

2015-04-17_21_17_00_Taco_Bell_restaurant_at_night_along_Mountain_City_Highway_(Nevada_State_Route_225)_in_Elko,_Nevada

It’s not our Taco Bell, because I was driving and couldn’t get a shot, but well, you see one, you’ve pretty much seen them all….. https://commons.wikimedia.org/wiki/File%3A2015-04-17_21_17_00_Taco_Bell_restaurant_at_night_along_Mountain_City_Highway_(Nevada_State_Route_225)_in_Elko%2C_Nevada.jpg

Perception is the New Reality

When we were sitting in the hospital room in the quiet calm during the wee hours of the morning exactly five weeks ago, Sister looked over her new little bundle  at me and whispered, “I have to take care of me so I can take care of these little ones given to me.”

That stuck with me.  Her words were full of wisdom.  Reality might say that our parents lived full lives, leaving this world at ages 68 and 67, but our perception is that we lost them way too soon.  Those are the thoughts that led to her whispered words in the dark of night and that led me to take my own health a little more seriously.

So it was that today I found myself sitting across the desk from a compassionate and very smart doctor.  At one point he said, “Perception is related to 70% of health issues.”

Wow.  Yes.

I used to say it so often, in my previous life, that it didn’t matter what reality was, I had to deal with what my perceptions were.  And that’s all we can ever really deal with, isn’t it?  If someone perceives that another has been dishonest with her, it doesn’t matter whether or not that is truth–the perception is what triggers behavior and response.  Same thing with the perception of loss.  And every other perception out there.  If someone perceives others are out to get them or that they have no friends, no amount of truth or trying to prove that they are wrong is going to change it. If she thinks the world is a sad place, it doesn’t matter if the sun is shining and rainbows and unicorns are at every corner. Perception is the new reality.

And it can hurt you.  It can weigh you down.  Through stress, anxiety, sadness, and so many other ways.

Perception…..

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Yes.  This.

We need to give each other and ourselves grace when it comes to perception and reality.  It may appear to make no sense looking from the outside in–someone else’s perception, but when we are walking it, the fear and worry that comes from our perceptions can be crippling at times.  Though it makes no sense in reality, we’re no longer in Kansas, Toto.  We are in the world created by our perceptions.  It just is what it is.

And that’s pretty much it.  Tonight I am thankful for doctors who listen and care and don’t call my own or anyone else’s perception of reality crazy or off or wrong.  I am thankful for friends and Aunts and family who listen to my perception-skewed views and understand and love.  Exactly that.  Love.

I’ve met so many folks whose realities are very hard, and their perceptions only make their lives harder.  If you know someone working through some hard times, please give them some love and grace.  And a hug.  Perception is a hard place to live sometimes.  No matter what that ol’ Reality says.

The New Magic Words

Does anyone remember the “Please” and “Thank you” song? Please and thank you, they are the magic words.

No doubt. They can carry you far in life.

picture courtesy of free-extras.com

picture courtesy of free-extras.com

But there are two words that can make amends, change destinies, and heal hearts.

I’m sorry.

My sister Mess Cat pointed out to me the other day that we say it way, way too much. I think our text conversation looked something like this.

MC: Hey!

Me: Hey. I’m sorry it took me so long to get back to you. Busy doing blah blah blah. Sorry.

MC: Oh I’m sorry. Didn’t mean to cut into that. Just needed to ask about blah blah blah.

Me: Okay, no problem. I think that’s fine. And sorry, no, you weren’t disturbing me.

And so forth. I think you see the pattern here.

Yes, we say it. A lot. Maybe we are making up for the deficiency of “I’m sorry”‘s that exists in our world. That or you know how sometimes folks give you a gift that they would have like to have had themselves? Yeah, that.

I’m for serious, sometimes if folks, those whom I live with and those whom I only come across in the day to day would just say I’m sorry, it would make a world of difference in the relationship and in my outlook on the world.

I’m talking to you, grocery checkout clerk. I know you didn’t mean to drop my apples all over the floor. (And yes, I did almost apologize to her that my bag tie came loose. It’s an illness, and I’m seeking help.) But when you picked them back up and were going to send them home with me, banged up and all, that really hurt my feelings. And when I asked if some could be replaced and you said two and sent me all the way back to produce without ever ONCE uttering any kind of apology…..Hurt. Feelings. I know you didn’t mean to, and I would have made you feel all kinds of okay about it if you had just said those two words. But you didn’t, so I didn’t, and I left frustrated and with a bad taste in my mouth. And with more banged up apples than good ones.

And to the salesman who promised my children a remote for that blame DVD player, what’s up? For months you have called to see if I had anyone to refer to you. Each time I asked about the remote, you said you were on it, check again later. But when I showed up and asked you about it, all of a sudden you’re telling me I have to pay for it. It was one of the higher ups who actually apologized and made it right. You just continued to look at me fearfully like I was going to have some kind of hormonally induced breakdown. But never once did you say “I’m sorry.” I so would have forgiven you. But for now, yeah, that’s right–no referral for you.

It’s not always that petty either. People from my previous life who misjudged, spread untruths, and in general made things worse–an apology would be a good place to start. Family. Friends.

I know it’s not easy. And I know I haven’t always said it when I should. I regret that. And I’m sorry. Really. I think it’s interesting and important to note that one of the steps of healing in a twelve step program is “to make amends” with folks one has “harmed.” It’s as healing for the person who says it as it is for the person who hears it. Who sometimes really needs to hear it.

I’m sorry says a couple of very important things. It says to the other person, You matter. You exist and have rights just like I do. You matter. And it says, I respect you and I care about what just happened to you. I regret my part in the whole thing. It shows the other person they have been heard. And sometimes that’s all we are asking for.

For a while my children seemed programmed to reply, when one or the other was compelled (or coerced) to apologize to another, “It’s okay.” That was an acknowledgment, “I hear you. I hear your apology. We’re straight. It’s okay.” The more I thought about it though, I decided to put a stop to that. It’s NOT okay that you took her doll and hid it, or you called her a name, or you just knocked the fool out of him (whether you meant to or not–ahem). Instead they are learning to say, “I forgive you.” And sometimes it takes the apologee a moment or several to reach the point of replying with that. And that’s okay too. As long as they eventually reach that point. At least in this house. Grace abounds and so does forgiveness. You just need to ask for it. Just as the apology helps both sides, so does the forgiveness.

If grey is the new black, perhaps I’m sorry can be the new “Please” and “Thank you.” Please and thank you can open doors and help you make friends, but I’m thinking I’m sorry can unlock the doors slammed shut and help you keep your old friends. Just a thought.

A Thank You to Our Nurses With Love

pic of nurses' weekThis is Nurses’ Week.  It is my pleasure to send out a big hug and many thanks and a virtual cup of coffee with a fresh Krispy Kreme to each and every nurse who has touched our lives.  We have been blessed by your kindness, your skills, and your dedication to what you do.  Thank you.

My first eye-opening experience with those of this profession was when I started work with our local Hospice in the Fall of 2000.  For over two years, I worked as a team with these beautiful people who made the journey from this life to the next one a lot more peaceful and a little less frightening.  When Mama and Daddy made the decision to call Hospice for Daddy in September of 2011, I was so hoping for just the right person to come in.  And she did.  A sweet spirit, calming and loving.  She was just the perfect person for Mama and Daddy.  And when Daddy was gone, she still cared for Mama.  Because of her, Mama found a whole community of people who loved and supported her through the next fifteen months.  And when Mama left this earth–our wonderful nurse was there, loving us and Mama, and holding Mama’s hand.  Just as she did a week later when our cousin Miss Betty took her last breath.  I know that calling her an “angel on earth” seems rather trite and cliche’, but I don’t know how else to decribe her.  Without being intrusive she became a part of our family.  To this day.  I love her with all my heart because of what she did, but even more because of who she is.  It takes someone special to be a nurse.

When Mama went for the second HospitalStay in January, we felt like we were old hands at this in some respects.  This was, however, my first experience with ICU nurses.  PHENOMENAL.  These men and women do so many tasks that are delegated to others on other floors.  I’ve watched them do things that I won’t describe here, but let me tell you–hearts of gold, stomachs of steel.  Enough said.

I won’t be able to mention each one, but most of them were pretty doggone great.  The joke amongst the family became that I got into in-depth conversations with the people who took care of Mama, while my baby sister felt like she was interrogating them by comparison.  (She would say, “Tara asks, ‘So where did you go to school?  Oh that’s great,’ while I say (in clipped sharp tones) ‘So.  Where did YOU go to SCHOOL?!  OH, that is just great.” )  I just shrugged at her version of it, and said, “I’m looking for my new BFF for-evuh!  I’m convinced I’m going to find her during the HospitalStay.”   And I tried.  We met some interesting people.

Tony who-smelled-good was our first nurse that night when Mama was moved unexpectedly to the ICU.  He was on again when she was rushed to surgery the next night.  He cared for her after the surgery.  He is precious to me because he is one of the few who remembered her awake and alert, how she smiled and made conversation through the pain.  He comforted her in her anxiety as she headed down to surgery.  He was the one to whom she bragged about her soon-to-be-born grandson.  He smiled and listened.  Listening.  That is huge.

Andrea was another beautiful soul from the beginning of our stay.  She had Mama several times before we were moved to the STICU.  She and Miss Betty, the patient care tech, made a great team–comforting us in our concerns, answering our questions, and oh, the healing laughter.  They laughed and filled that room with joy.  They told Mama, who was still sedated, funny stories and made up nicknames for each one of them.  Andrea left us a note on the obituary on-line.  That connection.  Thank you.  She let us know Mama was more than just another patient.  She was also one who let us stay even though visiting hours were over.  She knew the situation and decided accordingly.  That was such a gift.  We didn’t really know it at the time.  I will always remember this beautiful woman who was a surprise to her own Mama–she was a twin born to a woman expecting only one.  What a precious surprise she was.

Janel, and I may not be spelling her name right, took the time to teach us how to take care of Mama.  Mama ran fever a lot, and for several reasons, they couldn’t give her medication to bring it down.  Janel was the one who said “Let’s mini-skirt her and wipe her down.”  She would tuck the gown up a bit, and then she used a wet washcloth and wiped Mama’s arms, face, hands, and legs.  She asked if we’d like to do that.  Thank you, Janel.  Because of her, I wasn’t afraid to move around the wires and cables and touch Mama, love on her.  Though Janel was only with us one day, we started asking other nurses if we could do that, and by the time Mama was moved to the STICU we just started asking for washcloths and telling them what we were doing. Janel believed in the family being a part of care.  She even said, “If she were my Mama, I’d be crawling in the bed with her.”  She got it, and for that I give thanks.

There were so many other great nurses and patient care techs who touched our lives with love and a tender touch.  I am thankful for each and every one, even the ones who kept “ma’am”ing me.  (Boy was that hard to hear!)  I would have taken any of them as my new BFF for-evuh.  Loved.  Them.

When our cousin Miss Betty was admitted into the hospital in Warner Robins two weeks after Mama, our family decided it was best if Miss Betty didn’t know about Mama being in the hospital.  She would not have understood.  Mama was her guardian, and it only would have frightened her.  We hoped it would not be necessary.  And it wasn’t.  Just not in the way we anticipated.

So each time we spoke with a new nurse at the hospital there, we explained two things–that Mama was in the hospital so we couldn’t be there as much as we would like, and that Miss Betty wasn’t to know about Mama.  The team of nurses on the ICU and step-down unit were so incredible during this really hard time.  They became Miss Betty’s new BFF’s.  It was precious the night that I was visiting with her, and the night nurse Miss Cece came on, walked by and waved.  Miss Betty waved back, and said, “That’s my friend.”  I never worried once about Miss Betty’s care.  To this day I give thanks for that great group of nurses.   From the first day with Amber who took Miss Betty and my sister under her wing, to our last night with Mary, who was there to mother me as much as to care for Miss Betty, we were blessed with caring, compassionate people–among them Willa, Brett, Brandi, Cece, Mary, and so many others.  If we saw one in the hall, even when she wasn’t Miss Betty’s nurse that day, each one would ask how things were going.  They remembered and cared.  One I owe a great deal of sanity to is Aimee.  On the way to see Mama during one of the very strict visiting times at the hospital in Macon, I had hoped to have time to swing by the hospital in town to see Miss Betty first.  The skies looked ominous, traffic was awful near the Base, and I knew that if I did drive to Miss Betty’s hospital, I would probably only have 1/2 hour out of the two hours allotted to visit Mama by the time I could get there.  With no other options, I called and asked for Miss Betty’s nurse.  Aimee.  I told her my situation and asked that if I got there a few minutes after visiting time was over, could I please still see Miss Betty before I needed to head home?

This sweet and compassionate woman gave me the gift of grace.  “You go see your Mama.  Take your time, drive safely, and when you get here, no matter when, you can come on back.”  I cried right then and there.  Later that evening when I finally arrived to see Miss Betty, Aimee was there, ready to change shifts.  She stayed to ask how things were going in Macon with Mama.  She listened and she laughed with me and let me just be.  What a gift of love.  Tonight I am particularly thankful to Aimee for my being able to have that visit with peace in my heart, as it was only three days later that I had to tell Mama goodbye.

Dear nurses, you have a thankless job.  I know.  I saw and heard things during our HospitalStay that broke my heart for you.  But please hear me say this, I owe you all a debt I can never repay.  You took the time to make sure my Mama and Miss Betty were safe and comfortable and had the greatest of care, just as you do for each one of your patients.  And you took the time to talk to us, to answer our questions, to listen to our stories, and to just let us be.  You are loved and treasured.  Thank you all, those whom I have met and those whom I have not.  Please don’t ever doubt that what you are doing is making a difference.   You are healers of body and spirit.  With your gentle hands and your full hearts.  Thank you.

pic of heart with bandaid