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Hospital visit

Turns out you can actually spend time as a patient in the hospital when there is actually nothing wrong with you. This started with an episode that I went to the emergency room for, rather than going to urgent care, because urgent care would have simply sent me to the ER since it involved chest pain. They checked me out and didn’t find anything definitely wrong, but since I am 67, they thought it prudent to do a stress test. If I would have gone home and tried to schedule one, it would have taken a very long time to get in, but if I was kept at the hospital, I could have it done the next morning and go home, either knowing there was actually something wrong or knowing my heart is fine.

I’ll jump here to what you are probably wondering. The results showed there is nothing wrong. My heart functions just fine.

So I played the part of a patient for another 24 hours before I was finally released to resume my normal life.

This is what is good about being in the hospital for 24 hours:

  1. I could watch HGTV all day. Not that I did, but I could have.
  2. I could finish the book I was reading, which I did.

And this is what is bad about being in the hospital for 24 hours.

  1. They come in and take your blood pressure and temperature every two hours. That can get annoying!
  2. You practically starve because they put you on no food from midnight until the results are in and they have decided if further action is needed. That happened well after lunch time, and I hadn’t had breakfast. So I was famished by the time we got to Chick-Fil-A for a chicken sandwich and fries at around 2:30 p.m.!
  3. But the previous day, they brought me lunch (finally) at 3:00 and then delivered supper at 5:00. Hmmmm… Feast or famine, I guess. (That day I hadn’t had anything from about 8:00 a.m. until that 3:00 lunch.)
  4. They draw a lot of blood.
  5. There is a lot of noise in the halls, so it is hard to sleep.

The bottom line is that I have a lot more compassion for people who have to spend extended amounts of time in the hospital. Yes, the nurses and aides can be very nice and I suppose they get the meals brought on time, eventually, but the rest of the situation is pretty bleak. And that is without factoring in being sick or injured.

And now we will get to see just how well our Medicare and Medicare Supplemental insurance, that we pay for every month, actually works!

How Did This Happen?

“Ours is the generation that will never become obsolete. Our ideas are fresh. Our styles are contemporary. Our politics are honest and well-thought-out.” Isn’t that just what everyone thinks when they are young?

It may take a while, maybe 45 or 50 years, but everyone will eventually realize how mistaken they were. How could everything that defined us as a generation become wrong? How did we slip from being hip to being the butt of jokes about how ridiculous things used to be? But, perhaps more importantly, how did everything become so confusing?

Take language, for example. In our thirties and forties, the new words and phrases were often spoken by youngsters in our homes, but in our fifties and sixties, they become more of a mystery because we seldom hear these new expressions. When we do, we scratch our heads and do our best to fake understanding. Eventually, we just must ask for a translation and, even then, usually walk away still confused.

Styles of clothing are a bit less of a mystery because of the tendency for styles to come and go and then come back and go away again and so forth. Unfortunately any items we might have packed away in our late teens no longer come anywhere close to fitting and, of course, no one else wants these items because they are made out of old-fashioned fabrics, even if they are of a similar style. And what is it with ripped clothing? When we were young, we were embarrassed to wear things that were torn and now you can buy things pre-ripped! And probably pay extra for them.

Music is a bit like clothes in that things come and go over the generations. Just when we thought music could not get any more bizarre, we hear music being listened to by the latest generation of adolescents that sounds, dare we say, nice. Of course, music comes in such a variety of styles that it really just depends on what your young acquaintances enjoy. They even might enjoy music we listened to at their age, because music preferences seem to be more about the style than the date is was recorded. This is probably due to such great recording, preservation and replay methods we have at our fingertips.

But changes in societal norms are the most jarring. Things that we never anticipated are thrust upon us now as normal and we are made to feel somehow of poor moral character if we have a difficult time accepting these changes. Boys used to be boys and girls were girls. But now there are more gender identifications than I can wrap my head around. The changes in ideas regarding race are easier for me to understand because the older ideas were based on very unscientific thinking and the new ideas are much kinder and more sensible. Changes in family structure and what constitutes marriage has seemed to change at light speed, but it was probably because things seemed so natural the way we saw them that we didn’t see any reason for them to ever change. Again, the changes seem to stem from an attempt to be more loving and inclusive, but sometimes the rationale for considering something normal is difficult to understand.

And so I go through life just a bit confused and even more disappointed that I was so wrong about our generation’s ideas and preferences. But, at least, I can take solace in the fact that the 17-year-olds will find themselves in this same place, scratching their balding heads, in about 50 years!

Bird in the House

There was a bird in the house today. I became aware of it during a piano lesson, when I heard the sound of a bird hitting the far window in the living room. I assumed it had hit the outside of the window but, nevertheless, I looked in that direction and was dismayed to see that the bird was actually on the inside of the window. Soon he was exploring other spaces in the house – the branches of the Christmas tree, the rungs of the old brown rocking chair, the dark space under the sofa.

My first response was to just leave him be until I was finished teaching. After all, how much trouble could a small bird cause? Pretty much, it turns out.

After exploring the far end of the living room, he decided to look things over in the kitchen and dining room. The beat of his wings was coming much closer to our heads, so it was obvious that we were not going to be able to simply ignore him and finish the lesson.

Our ceilings are 10 feet above the floor, so that gave him plenty of air space above our heads. He swooped over and perched on the painting Erica gave us for Christmas last year. He then flapped around a bit and grabbed hold of the pendant light over the sink. After that, he checked out the kitchen clock. As he was doing this, I couldn’t help but notice how beautiful each item looked with a bird perching or clinging to it. For a brief moment I even thought that a bird in the house might be an interesting decorating idea! Then I quickly came to my senses.

I grabbed a broom, not quite sure how effective it would be in guiding him toward the open exterior door. But it was fairly simple to convince him to fly through the first archway and into the foyer, where he made a stop on the chandelier. He then flew over to check out an area that has not been closed in with drywall yet, which was a bit concerning. But the broom was very effective in changing his course, and, before I knew it, he had dived low and disappeared out the open door. The whole process had only taken about three or four minutes, which is some kind of a record for getting birds out of our house!

I was happy to see him free in the great outdoors, where he belongs, but it was a welcome diversion for a cold winter day. And I am still wondering how he got inside in the first place!

50 years and running

Today marks fifty years of being a runner.

On New Year’s Day in 1972, when I was 17 years old, my sister, Laurie, invited me to join her on her daily run. She had been running regularly for a while at that point and I could see that it was helping her lose weight. So I joined her. It was fun, even though the last half was primarily uphill. We lived on the top of a hill and there was no route that didn’t end with uphill for the last half mile, at least!

I enjoyed it enough that it was the start of over a year of running four miles a day without missing a single day. She never missed a day, so I thought I could never miss a day, either. I remember running on a day when the snow was up to my calves and I was slogging along in car ruts all the way.

And I still liked it, so I kept running. I no longer ran every single day, after I finally missed that one day in my second year. Before long, I was taking Sundays off , but the six day a week running continued for many years.

I ran through pregnancies, sometimes up until the last couple of weeks, but I needed to take breaks after each baby was born. I had various injuries, so I was required to take time off for them. As I got older, I found myself missing more days because of injuries, but I never gave up on running. I got myself rehabilitated and then hit the road again. And when I couldn’t run, I did other aerobic exercise, so I would stay in good shape for eventually running again.

I took up racewalking and, eventually, Nordic racewalking as an alternative to running when I needed it. As I’ve gotten older, I have replaced many running days with Nordic racewalking days, because it is easier on my joints. But what I really look forward to, even now, is my long run on Saturdays.

I’ve collected a trophy and a couple of medals for races, but I am definitely not a racer. I much prefer to run in solitude, where my only competition is myself. And I’ve recently realized that my long torso and short legs are traits of a swimmer’s body, rather than a runner’s body, so I can accept my historically slow times. I’m just delighted that I can still get out for a weekly long run!

I always pack my shoes and running attire when I travel, so I have run in many places in Wisconsin, Minnesota, South Dakota, Michigan, Illinois, Indiana, Pennsylvania, West Virginia, Kentucky, Tennessee, South Carolina, North Carolina, Georgia, Missouri, New York, and Massachusetts. I’ve run in beautiful settings in state parks and along scenic roads and in boring places like parking lots and tracks. I’ve spent some years running the same section of country road every day and other years mixing up my route through a variety of streets in town. I’ve run in weather as cold as 20 degrees below zero, wearing layers of pants, jackets, hats and mittens and breathing through several layers of protection. And I’ve run when the temperature was almost, but not quite, too hot to be out in. I’ve run in snowstorms and in the rain and in wind that seemed to almost blow me backwards.

I started running in Purcell shoes, which are very supportive, but also very heavy. Then I discovered Nike Air Pegasus shoes and they have been by go-to shoe for decades, each one seeming even more lightweight than the previous, but still providing the cushioning I need. I can’t find them right now, so I’ve had to try a different Nike shoe and it just isn’t the same. It is okay, but I miss the original Nike Air Pegasus. The right shoe really makes a difference when you are running a ways and I’m very glad I had such good shoes for so many years, even if they did get more and more expensive!

So, fifty years. I’d hoped to make it to age 60 still running a bit, and I’ve exceeded that by several years. And I have no plans of stopping. My current exercise regime seems to be working just fine, so I’m going for another decade. One week at a time.

After

The towels are all washed, dried, folded and stacked in neat, fluffy piles.

The bedding is laundered and put back on the beds, covered with the special bedspread and pillow shams. The guest room is put to sleep until it is needed again.

The crumbs from snacks eaten in the living room are vacuumed and the room is again neat and tidy, no dog toys littering the floor and no pillows or throws out of place.

The many drinking glasses and cereal bowls are once again in their designated spots in the closed cupboards and the counters are free of distressing clutter.

And I am sad.

Do I miss my grandchildren? Or do I miss my grown child, whose chatter at one time filled my days, but who now is absent from me almost all the time? It was, after all, this life of parenting and providing and being present in his own family that I raised him for. My job was done well.

But sometimes there is no joy in that. Only loneliness.

Spring is here down south!

Here are some pictures I took this morning, since the sun was shining so beautifully. These daffodils are not mine. Mine aren’t blooming yet, but the neighbors have a nice patch right along their sidewalk on the south-facing hill. They must get just that much more warmth from being slanted toward the sun that they always bloom several weeks earlier than mine!

My daffodils look like this!

I also have a LOT of tulips coming this year. I’m pretty sure these are all red ones! I will need to break them apart after they bloom, because they are in big clumps.

I also have the first plants in my vegetable garden – my sugar snap peas. I put nice rich compost on them, rather than just covering them with the dry dirt! We’ll see how that works! Bumpa put up a nice strong and tall fence for them to grow on this year. It has two feet of chicken wire at the bottom, and then four feet of goat fencing above that, for the peas to actually grow on. (The bottom two feet will just be stems.)

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