Wednesday, June 14, 2017

HOW I'LL SPEND MY SUMMER VACATION

Summer is here. For almost twelve years my mom and I attended the Days of Our Lives and General Hospital fan weekends in California. We also traveled to England, Canada, Alaska, Maine and probably a few other places that I have forgotten, with Flying Wheels a travel agency that specialized in organizing trips for people with disabilities. 

Summer afternoons at home were spent swimming in our pool, going out to lunch, going to the movies or to the mall. I miss those summer days more than I can tell you

Now, I am in a facility. A place where if the temperature gets close to ninety degrees, we are forbidden to go outside unless we are accompanied by someone on staff here or a family member. I have found a way to get around that rule. I go to the patio on the first floor. That door is always open. It is secluded and quiet. I sit outside in the morning or after dinner. Never in the heat of the day.

I will never have another summer like the ones I had when I lived at home. However, I can still enjoy myself. I have decided, at least for the summer, not to worry about whether I am making money or not.  I am going to blog, write stories and do some journaling. I will still write a monthly column for The West End Word as well as a weekly piece for The Mac Wire, but I am going to write for fun too.

Living here is stressful. This summer I am going to try to decrease my stress and relax Writing, like, reading, can take me anywhere because there are no limits to my imagination.













Monday, May 29, 2017

R E S P E C T

Those of you who read my blog on a regular basis are familiar with the fact that the gentleman at my table has yelled, cursed and pointed his finger at me He has also told me how disrespectful I am. The only thing I am guilty of is asking him to move over a little bit so he didn't hit my foot.

This morning, at breakfast, the gentleman yelled at me.  He yelled at a nurse. He told both of us he could yell if he wanted.  He said that he even yelled at his mother. 

It's not about him hitting my foot, It is about the lack of respect he has shown me. He wants me to move. I have always refused. I do not think it is fair to reward an individual's poor behavior. He has made his feelings very clear telling me,"I wish you'd move." "I thought you were eating in your room." I refused. I was trying to teach him a lesson.You don't always get your way. This is especially true when you live in a facility.   I wanted to get the respect  I deserve. It is not my job to teach him anything.  

What is more confusing to me is that he gets along well with the other female resident at the table. They have never exchanged a cross word in my presence. I have tried to show interest in the things that interest him. We are adults I thought the two of us could be civil to each other. I know now that's not going to happen. 

The only thing I have control over is my behavior. I have been in this facility for almost three years. I have learned that yelling does not win you any friends here. It makes people not want to help you. I am trying hard to change my behavior.  I am claustrophobic.  If I am in bed and the door is closed, I feel trapped.  I  will call for help because  I am afraid of being forgotten. If I cannot reach my call light, when I am in bed, I will call for help too.  

I can do one of two things. Change tables or suck it up and stay where I am. I like the other woman at my table. She and I have never had an issue.

I am sad that this issue is still continuing at my table. I am sad because the gentleman doesn't know. how disrespected I felt. I am sad that he thinks his behavior toward me is okay. I am sad that he just has no manners. I feel sorry for him. I am sad because he always makes feel like I am the one who is causing a problem at the table.   I stay in my room and write. I try not to bother anyone. If the room trays were not given out so late, I would eat my lunch and dinner in my room. It would be peaceful and quiet. I am sad that he is the reason I will probably change tables.

We all live in this facility together. We do not have to like each other. However, we should respect each other. Respect means everything.

Sunday, May 28, 2017

WHAT IS FREEDOM?

"I watched the movie Sex and the and the City yesterday. There is nothing like spending a Sunday afternoon with Carrie and Big. I had dinner with my neighbor at the restaurant down the street. Today, my caregiver is bringing KFC boneless chicken/  Then, we're watching  The Guilt Trip. Happy Memorial Day, everyone." My Facebook post from May 27, 2013.

This post came up on my Facebook news feed yesterday morning. What a difference four years make. 

Four years ago my concerns for Memorial Day were if I had enough money to get boneless chicken and the Reese's Chocolate Pie from KFC. This year, I wonder if I will get my shower on Monday because my regular CNA will be off for the holiday. 

Four years ago I was able to get in my van and my caregiver would drive me wherever I wanted to go. Now,  I cannot sit in front of the facility.unless I have someone with me.  It is true, I could take Call-A-Ride, but that is a hassle too. When I have a new aide, they do not know my routine. With all the new residents on my floor, sometimes, my routine cannot be adhered to.  I may not always get the times that I request using Call-A-Ride. Last week, I  canceled an appointment because I was afraid I would miss dinner. I guess the facility could have saved my dinner.  Understaffing has affected the dining room too. I didn't want to risk it. No one will help me to the bathroom in the middle of serving dinner. The aides are all busy. I would need assistance because I would have been gone for several hours.

Four years ago I lived in a house. Now, I have one room. I am thankful for my own space. My privacy means everything to me. I pray that it is never taken away.  My room and my writing are what keep me sane here.

Four years ago I knew approximately how long it would be before someone helped me to the bathroom. Now, if no one is answering my light, and I really need assistance, I call my family. My brother is the one who makes sure I get the help that I need. 

Four years ago, if I needed to see my doctor I made an appointment and went to see him. Now, I tell a nurse, but most of the time the message is not relayed unless I keep nagging. Nagging is exhausting.

Four years ago I didn't have to worry about whether or not a stand-up lift worked. I did not have to wait for my CNA to find a battery.The lifts and batteries do not work a lot of the time.We need new lifts. 

Four years ago I had a life. I was a volunteer. I went out on the weekend. Now, I  exist.  It was not much of a life, but it was mine. I have called Paraquad about some alternative safe living situations. The woman was supposed to email me information several weeks ago. She has not. I guess I will have to keep calling to get results.  Nagging is exhausting.

Freedom to me is things others take for granted. Going to the bathroom when I need to. Having an accident ts embarrassing and degrading.  Freedom is knowing that there will be an aide available to put me to bed each night as well as get me up in the morning using equipment that works, Transportation services that are not costly but will transport me in a timely manner. Having a regular writing job so I would not have to depend on my family so much. 

Tomorrow is a day to thank and remember the men and women who fought for our freedom. Think about the freedom you have. Think about the small things. Remember and be grateful.










Saturday, May 20, 2017

ICON IS SPELLED C H E R

I have written several columns for The Mac Wire regarding Cher receiving Billboard Music's Icon Award this Sunday. www.themacwire.com  I would not be considered a  diehard fan if I didn't write a post on my personal blog as well. 

I could give you stats. I could tell you that she has had a hit in on the charts in every decade since the sixties. I could also tell you that her Farewell Tour ran for three years. It was the highest-grossing tour of all time by a female artist, However, this post is not about stats.

The definition of an icon is someone who is admired and successful. Cher has certainly been successful. She is also admired by millions of people.  That definition is not why I consider her to be an icon.

Today is Cher's birthday. Last year, on her birthday, I received a personally autographed photo from her. The photo was not obtained easily. I drove people nuts to get it. I am forever grateful.

Her inscription on the photo of"Keep Strong" is so appropriate/ Less staff, but more residents on my floor mean a longer wait for assistance. Sometimes, when  I don't think I will make it, her words come into my mind. I  look up at the framed autographed photo on my wall. I know that I have to make it. I have no other choice. 

When she was told she couldn't do something, she did it anyway. When people thought she was finished, she proved them wrong and came back stronger. No matter how many times she has been knocked down, she gets up and keeps going.

"After the nuclear holocaust, they'll be cockroaches and Cher." This quote fits Cher. It means she is strong and she will endure.

Strength and endurance are what make Cher an icon.

Happy Birthday, Cher. Congratulations on the Billboard Icon Award. Billboard could not have chosen a more deserving recipient.
   


Sunday, May 14, 2017

IT'S THE LITTLE THINGS

It has been seven years since I lost my mother. Seven second Sundays in May that were not celebrated. I've spent this weekend lost in thought, remembering my mom. I want to share my memories with you.

My mom would be so embarrassed that I  used this photo. "Oh, for heaven's sake my hair's, in curlers." Every Saturday my mom washed her hair and put it up in curlers at our kitchen table. The pink plastic curlers were in a box that was falling apart. She would prop a mirror up in front of the box and roll her hair around each curler making sure each curl was just right.  This is a great photo. .Mom has finished putting her hair in curlers. Lucie's on her lap. Both of them are ready for a relaxing afternoon. This photo has been the wallpaper on my laptop for the past seven years. It reminds me of a typical Saturday morning at home.

Saturday nights we would go to Pietreo's, a neighborhood restaurant. Mom would order pasta with chicken and vegetables with a pink sauce. "Could you mix them,?" Mom would ask. They were not supposed to mix the red and white sauces, but they did it for her.  She would also order decaf coffee with Kahlua. She would always be sure to add, "And, don't forget the whipped cream" when ordering her drink.

For my mom's ninetieth birthday her great-grandson, Witt, made her a necklace. He had strung colored beads on a string. She loved that necklace. She wore it every day. She would tell anyone who admired it, "My great-grandson made it for me." The beads and pattern were so pretty that people thought that she had bought it at a store. When Mom died, I was given the necklace. I wore it every day. I made me feel closer to her. When the string broke, Witt and his mom fixed it and sent it back to me.  I wore it until it broke again. Then,, I carried some of the beads in my purse for a  long time. I knew how much joy wearing it had given my mom.  I felt the same joy when I wore the necklace. I was not ready to lose what the necklace represented, a connection to my mother.

My mother loved  Everybody Loves Raymond, Wheel of Fortune and the Game Show Network. She never tired of watching them. 

Pink curlers, a necklace made of beads, coffee with Kahlua, pasta with a pink sauce, sitcoms and game shows. These are the things that make the best memories.

Happy Mother's Day.






Wednesday, May 3, 2017

ESCAPE TO AGUA AZUL

Living in a facility is not easy. I have heard it compared to living in a mental institution or a prison. Sometimes, there is so much noise in the dining room I cannot have a conversation with the person sitting across from me.  I've witnessed an adult walking down the hall wearing nothing but a diaper I cannot sit outside in front of this facility without supervision/ I'd say that is an apt analogy

An escape. I had to find one. My answer came via Netflix.   I discovered telenovelas. A telenovela is a Latin American soap opera that is either produced in or televised from, Latin American countries.

Unlike American soap operas, telenovelas usually don't run for more than a year. That's the first thing that attracted me to them. I love American soap operas, but there are times when they seem to drag on forever without moving forward.  I knew the telenovela would reach a conclusion in a specific number of episodes.

I started watching Lo Que La Vida Me Robo.  The English translation is, The Life You Took From Me. Each night I  traveled to Agua Azul where beautiful Monserrat Mendoza is in love with Jose Luis. Montserrat's family is in financial trouble. Her mother forces her to marry Alejandro in order solve their financial problems. Alejandro inherited his father's fortune.  He promises to pay all of the Mendoza family's debts as long as Monserrat becomes his wife.

I got caught up in the story. I didn't even mind reading the subtitles. This telenovela allowed me to travel to another country. I will never physically be able to travel again. I got to travel to Mexico every night.  I saw palm trees, blue skies and a beach where the water was the bluest I'd ever seen. I was inspired to learn about another country and its culture.  I've learned a little Spanish online. I can recognize many words, but my pronunciation needs a lot of practice.  My ability to make typos is not limited to the English language anymore. I make them in Spanish now too.

I'd like to thank the cast and crew of Lo Que La Vida Me Robo, for the gift they gave me. They gave the opportunity to escape this facility.  It doesn't matter that my escape was only in my mind. I got lost in other people's problems and forgot about my own. I forgot I was in this facility.

I can't think of a better gift than that.








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Saturday, April 15, 2017

THE BIG 6-0

When my mom turned fifty. I was twelve. I thought she was really ancient. In a few days, I will be celebrating my sixtieth birthday. I was wrong. Fifty is not that old after all.

I have been thinking about the significance of this birthday// What makes it different from all of my other birthdays?   

Well, for one thing, I am letting myself eat junk food my entire birthday week. All the cookies, cake, chips and ice cream I want. When the week is over, it will be back to salad and fruit. Until then, I am having a great time.

On my fiftieth birthday, I told a friend how much I disliked turning fifty. It seemed so old. She said fifty was a great age to be. She said that I should embrace it and be happy. I didn't appreciate her words then, but I do now.

That's what's different for me about turning sixty. I will embrace it. I will be happy.I want to have fun. I want to laugh.  I have always been afraid of embarrassing myself.  I finally understand that life is too short to worry about what other people think.  As long as I know that I am doing the best I can, that's all that matters.  During her Believe Concert Cher said, "It's really fun to be old and stupid."   She was right. Living in a facility will always suck.  As long as I have people in my life who make me laugh and allow me to be silly sometimes, I think I will be okay.

The best gift anyone can give me is to visit me. I get very lonely here. Having visitors on my birthday would mean a lot to me.

This birthday is about being positive. It's about looking forward. It's about being hopeful.

My sixtieth birthday is going to be awesome. I cannot wait!!