Learning to be Alone

It has been over two weeks since Miss Elsie the Cat took a walk. I try to remain hopeful. It is hard to do.

Since before Jim died over seven years ago, Elsie was a part of our life. She arrived as a wee kitty that could fit into the palm of one hand. She snuck her way into our hearts. She liked me and adored Jim. After Jim died, Elsie waited for five months before she decided that I was up to be part of the primary team.

Elsie was a remaining connection to Jim and my life together. The first week after she disappeared, I felt like I dove deep into grief again, similar to after Jim initially died. Grief for the loss of Miss Elsie. Grief for the loss of Jim. Grief for the loss of our life together. This kind of grief is not a good place to stay. I have been using my resources, friends and more to get me back out of that spot. It is OK to visit. It is not OK to stay long.

I am learning how to be alone. When Jim died, Elsie the cat was still with me and I could rely on her for good purry company. I love her companionship. I love how she would talk to me and look at me with those adoring eyes. Now that she is on an adventure, wherever that may-be, I need to learn to be alone. After having some type of companionship for close to thirty years, it is not an easy lesson to learn. I thought it would be easy, yet I find it difficult. I have been talking to her and Jim in absentia a lot lately.

How do I learn to be comfortable being alone? That is a loaded question and the answers are not clear as they seem to change by the minute, hour and day. It is hard to figure out the alone part when I dive into moments of sadness. I come back out and things look a little brighter and then, poof, there is another one that pops up. Sigh.

I am not looking forward to Thanksgiving or Christmas. They are holidays of celebration, joy, and fun. Being single and alone is not always fun. I decided this past week to stretch myself and ask for help. Well, actually it is asking to be included. Today I decided to ask my San Diego friends to think about including me in their holiday fun. I sent out an email to a few close friends asking them to consider including me, if not for the event, maybe for a walk or a few hours of their time. Now I want to extend that to the broader San Diego Community. I promise not to be maudlin or sad. If anything I think I will be joyous, just to be around others and enjoying the companionship and fun.

I know I could volunteer, yet this year it feels like I want to be included with those I love or those who love me or both. All you local San Diegans, if I did not email you and you want to respond to my plea of inclusion, it would be welcomed with open arms and an open heart.

I am grateful for my friends and family today. I am grateful for all those people out there in the cyberworld who are helping me look for a lost kitty. I am thankful for my time with Miss Elsie the Cat.

I remain optimistically hopeful.

 

 

Surgery Complete-Recovery Mode in Full Swing

The New Kaiser Hospital

Surgery is done. I am in recovery mode at the moment and feeling very thankful and grateful to my friends who are helping me and Miss Elsie the Cat.

Here are a few things I have learned. Because I had a similar surgery done last April, no two surgeries are alike. Removing half a thyroid is different than removing the other half. When one has half a thyroid left there are certain things that one doesn’t have to be as concerned about.

A few logistics are needed here. I won’t detail it too much as I prefer none of you to get funny or pass out.  There are these little glands, four of them that sit on or next to the thyroid, known as the parathyroids. They control calcium in our bodies. Most of us know that calcium is important to our bone growth. Did you know that calcium is important to muscles as well? Those little parathyroids sometimes like to go into shock when they are manipulated or handled. It can cause a dip, sometimes a big dip in the calcium and our heart may not work so well if that happens.

Why is this important? I ended up spending the night in the hospital post-surgery so that my calcium level could be monitored, just in case. Everything went well and I was discharged the following morning. I was surprised to find out I would be staying. Cynthia, my major support person was surprised as well.

An example of the rooms in the new hospital.

In view of the larger picture, this was just a small blip. If I had to stay in a hospital for the night I could not have been in a better place. The Kaiser hospital in San Diego is brand new. On the floor where I stayed, every room was private. Cool. When they wheeled me in I discovered a beautiful view of Mission Trails Regional Park and Miramar- the Marine base. There was the hugest TV I have ever seen hanging on the wall in front of the bed. I could watch TV, I could watch movies, I could surf the internet, I could watch videos about my health. I could even order my meals, all on that screen.

Remember that I live in about a 200 square foot space so this room and all the amenities were amazing. Drawn behind the TV screen was a picture of the Santa Rosa Mountains in the Anza Borrego State Park. I love the desert, so it was nice to see a view I know well and love.

Beyond all the amenities was the staff. The nurses, aides, and student nurses were amazing and kind and generous with their time. They let me sleep through the night. Yes!!!! Everyone cared for me well and lovingly. I was in good hands with people who appeared to love their job and cared about me.

Now I am back at Cynthia’s and Ward’s, recovering, being fed and loved. Today I am achy and sore, tomorrow I am sure I will be better. It is hard to be patient and allow myself the downtime to recover. Usually, the body wins out and off I go to take a nap.

Miss Elsie, meanwhile is hanging out with Nancy a long and good time friend, who Elise has always liked. I am sure she is getting loved and cared for. I hope Nancy is enjoying her company as well. Elsie can be Miss Personality when she chooses.

So, there is an update. I am still alive and working on thriving again. I will know the biopsy results in about ten working days. My main job currently is to rest and recover and enjoy the attention.

Thank you, all of you for your support and caring and loving thoughts as I worried my way into and out of surgery. Today I am thankful for every single one of you, known and unknown who encourage me and support me through my life.

Yes, I am still breathing.

 

Friends

I wasn’t planning to post again until after my Wednesday visit but….this will be short.

I have all kinds of friends in my life. Long term ones, short term ones, ones who are occasionally there and ones I can rely on through thick and thin. I love them all. Sometimes I mistake what one friend can or cannot do. This is often my assessment of a situation that turns out incorrect. Mistakes can also come as lessons I need to learn.

This morning I am sitting at this lovely campsite and trying to figure out where to stay in San Diego. Yvonne is a friend who has surfaced since Jim’s death. She worked for him at the college. She is a fellow tour guide. When I asked her to accompany me to my appointment on Wednesday, she said yes. She is going to get off work early so she can be my second set of ears, a very important role.

Today, Yvonne offered me her driveway to camp in. Oh my goodness this is exactly what I needed. I don’t need to ponder and think alone in a campground for the next few days. She and her home, at the moment, are a gift to me. I am feeling blessed and overwhelmed and oh so grateful. It will be fun to catch up with her and Elsie will enjoy her backyard.

Today I am feeling grateful for all my friends in whatever form they take.

Today I am feeling so grateful for Yvonne.

Friendship & Social Media

This is me at Graduation

I was a new graduate out of nursing school in 1973. I worked for a year in a big city hospital in Philadelphia to gain experience. Boy did I ever gain experience, charge nurse on a 40 bed sub-surgical specialty floor with 2 nurses aids, on the night shift. What????

After a year I decided it was time to spread my wings and leave home. I had always wanted to be a Peace Corps Volunteer. When the application came and I realized how far I would be from my family, I was not ready to commit.

I was too young. 

I decided that I would stay state side and become a VISTA (Volunteers in Service to America) Volunteer. After a week of training in Chicago, I traveled north to my assignment for the year, in a little town-Glenwood City, Wisconsin. I worked in a West CAP program (Western Wisconsin Community Action Program). Although I really never had a job description, I worked for the all the programs the office housed. 

There was a young woman who worked in the office, Melissa. We soon became fast friends. We did so many things together and it was fun. Through out the 1970’s we stayed in touch but gradually we went in different directions and lost touch. 

Enter facebook. Melissa and I reconnected about a year ago. It was such a delight to connect with her again. We have followed each other on Facebook. It has been almost forty years since we have seen each other. How could that be? I am not that old.🤔

Melissa & Me 

Last Tuesday Melissa and I met. Elsie the Cat and I have been camping in her and her husband, Will’s driveway since last Tuesday. It has been so nice to re-meet her. She and I have a lot of years to catch up on. We have been busy talking, a lot. It is interesting to see what she remembers and what I remember from our past.

Here are few things we have quickly found in common.

  • Yoga, today it is more mainstream than when we first took classes.
  • Contradance-we love to dance and we both met our husbands dancing.
  • Our political beliefs are similar.
  • Embracing our joy for life is similar as well.

This has been a wonderful meet-up with Melissa. I had no idea that we would actually visit with each other and still have so much in common. We even think we still look the same. I feel blessed. 

On Monday I will be driving south into Oregon. I am planning to meet friends there as well. I feel so grateful today for all the unique menagerie of friends that are such an important part of my life. 

I am feeling thankful.

Arriving & Departing

Two weeks ago I arrived in San Diego. It was hot, like really hot. Even though I don’t mind camping in all kinds of weather….the heat did me in. I lasted a day. I don’t care if I have air conditioning in my rig, I don’t care if my little home on wheels is super comfortable. When it is over 100 degrees at 7 pm, I give up.

I know I have told all of you this before but….here it is again. I have wonderful friends. They are caring and loving and giving. I feel fortunate. My dear friend Pat rescued me from the heat and took Elsie and myself into her home for most of the two weeks. I feel so fortunate and grateful to her. I got to sleep in a comfortable bed with air conditioning. Elsie had a large space to romp about in. Pat and I had ample time to catch up and enjoy each other’s company. I am grateful to Pat and to those treasured shared moments in time.

Entering into San Diego this time was hard. I had a busy agenda. Most of what I needed to do is complete. I am signed up for Medicare. The next step of my dental work is complete. The rig is ready to roll. Once all that was done I had time to visit with friends. It was a busy couple weeks.

Emotionally I have been all over the place. Coming to San Diego really triggers all kinds of emotions and feelings for me. I feel vulnerable. I feel strong. I feel sad. I feel joy. Sometimes I am close to tears, more often I am not. Man those emotions really bounce around. I wonder sometimes if I don’t feel a sense of displacement when I arrive here. It is not unusual to have friends welcome me home and yet I am not sure this is my home. I am beginning to feel a longing to figure out where home is to me.

I don’t think I stayed here long enough. It felt rushed. I think when I return in November or December I will stay at least a month. Maybe I can find a rental and Elsie and I can settle in and see how it really feels. I don’t think I will spend all winter in San Diego. I have a longing to winter up north, somewhere in the Monterey Peninsula. That is a changeable goal. Everything is changeable. Life is change. I am certainly learning that and yet I  need to be reminded.

The view from close to where i am camping.

Tonight I am camped on Mission Bay in San Diego and am enjoying the temperate ocean breeze. Tomorrow morning I am heading inland. Elsie is going to visit a friend of mine in Colorado for about two weeks. She has been to Deana’s before. Deana and her sweet pup are going to care take Elsie for two weeks while I head to southern Utah and adventure off with my good friends Mary and Linda.

We are going into the back country of Canyonlands National Park. I am excited and looking forward to this next adventure. It is fun to have met others who like to do the same things I do. Some of this adventuring is a bit daunting on my own. When I am with others, it becomes a grand and fun adventure and less of a challenge.

The full package of who I am follows along with me each day. I am grateful to have friends I can call and share deep felt emotions with. I am grateful for friends to have fun with, share a dinner, share a movie or just sit and talk. I keep seeing and feeling the phrase in my mind “all we can do is walk each other home”. I am glad to have those around me who are willing walk the journey with me.

Tonight I am feeling so grateful and every other emotion in between.