Sittin On A Porch

Sittin On A Porch
Our little back porch

Sunday, June 5, 2011

I am back

So much has happened since Monday when I last posted.  Mostly, I have not been able to access my email or the Internet.  Of course I am pretty sure that I did something wrong while trying to switch from my little air card thingy to my hot spot activation from my new aren't I just too smart phone.  I had given up  and just thought that I would go and deal with it on Monday after my next to the last day of work.  But this morning after watching Sunday morning not with Charles Osgood, but with Russ Mitchel, who did a fine job, I said I am not going to let this new fangled world of devices beat me!!!  So I searched through the bags and boxes of things they gave me when I bought my new just too smart for it's own good phone and skimmed and read and turned pages and read some more.  Skimmed through another section, and then there, not really hidden, but not the easiest to find was a phone number.  I love how they give us url's on just about every page to help guide us when things go wrong.

Let me tell you when something goes wrong like this, I can't get to the Internet, HOW AM I SUPPOSE TO CONTACT THEM WITH THE INTERNET???????  OK, sorry, I have been 4 days with out Bless Our Hearts.  And my dearest friends have gotten to the point that when they do not hear from me, they don't panic and start calling me.  They give me my space and try to respect my need for solitude.  They are such dear friends.  Even my Dad waited patiently to hear from me. 

But I was not trying to be alone.  I was silent out of lack of communication abilities.  OK, and yes, part of my silence was anxiety.  I am so anxious about my work.  Not about leaving.  Well, I do have some anxiety about the unknown when it comes to money and how am I going to do this?    But mostly the anxiety is that I feel like I am walking away from a staff who is drowning.  Literally drowning in work.  And what will happen after I am gone?  I don't know, and of course I am worried about my staff, this is not about me.  But it is about them.  It is about the applicators that can not spray their crops, and between the drought and the lack of protection in the early stage of a problem could lead to some huge problems.  And food is expensive enough thank you very much.  And then there are people who will loose their job because they are required to have a valid license for their job, and we still have people whose licenses expired in April not reissued.  We have people who will loose contracts because they don't have people licensed as required by the contract.  So that means that all of those people are calling and wanting to know where is their license.  And new people who are waiting to start a job, or to get  a raise, or to keep their job because now they must have a license are calling, and people who want to know their exam scores are calling.  And we are falling further behind because we are short handed.  I am worried about the health effects my staff could suffer with such extended amount of overwork and distress.

I asked one of my bosses what were they doing to help my Section.  Her response was, "Don't worry."  DON"T WORRY?  What kind of an answer is that.  I promise I will not worry after Tuesday.  I will be gone.  There will not be anything else I can do.  But this past week, I have still been employed.  I am still the manager, and "Don't worry" was an insult.  The first answer should have been, "We are working on it"  And then a little reassurance that they had several plans on the table, and I would have stopped worrying.  I could have taken down the Ativan pez machine at my door.  I have been popping Ativan like M&Ms.  It keeps the anxiety down, a bit.  Not that great, but better then nothing.  And no Ms Moon or other blogs or the Internet, no email, and no way to go on line here to my insanity taker and get these fears off my chest.  

It has been rough.  Not to mention that beside feeling anxious about what will happen to my staff, this is another loss.  Oh, I consider it a new twist to the ever changing journey of my life.  With new opportunities and challenges.  An opportunity to take a little more control over my life.  But as with all new challenges there are endings.  And as much as I look forward to this new life, I have fear and anxiety because this is all new to me.  I have never been good at being unemployed.  It is not that  I don't have plenty to do, it is more about having a solid place in the world to belong.  For the last 25 years I have been a state employee, before that I worked in a lab run by the county and before that I was a school teacher, and all along I had part time jobs during all of this.  It is not that I so much identify myself with my job.  But my work has always given me a state of being.  A place I could relate to.  A schedule, an opportunity to help other people, to be around other human beings, to have set tasks that must be completed.  The opportunity to stretch my brain and try to constantly find ways to cut cost, do more with less, and to maintain a certain level of service.  To paraphrase Dr. Martin King Jr., If you are a street sweeper, be the best street sweeper you can be.  My apologies for not being more accurate in my quote, but I have taken those words to heart, and try to be that way in everything I do.  I am not always my best, but I can say that I do try most of the time to be the best I am at that moment.  

And now I have to learn how to be the best ....hmmm, well, there you go, I don't know yet what that will mean.  Will I be the best gardener, the best retiree?  Will I be the best at a part time job, or will I do more volunteer work.  I don't know.  But I am anxious about how everything will work out.  I can not stick my head in my proverbial bucket of sand and ignore the changes.

And I do feel a great sense of loss.  I didn't expect this feeling.  But it is huge.  Filled with mixed emotions. And then to be cut off from my insanity taker, oh, it has not been pretty.  I did finish the last of the Earth Children series books.  And I did enjoy having some peace and quiet to just sit and read.  To work in the yard when it is not too hot.  To slowly move around the yard choosing projects to work on now, and others best left for when I return from my trip with dad.  But there is loss and fear here folks.  And don't say, "Don't worry"  How has that ever helped anyone?  That is like the stupid questions we ask someone when they have lost their keys: "Where did you have them last?"  "When did you use them last?"  The questions aren't stupid, but they make us feel that way.  And honestly, have you ever seen someone find what they lost because someone asked those questions?  Saying "Don't worry" is just as useless.  And yet, that is how management handles things.

Loss of pets.  
Loss of relationships.  
Loss of job.  
And sometimes it is just a little overwhelming.  
For the first time in my life I do not have a partner.
Someone to help share the burdens, the joys.
And now I am again giving up the familiar.
At a time when I don't have that partner to hold my hand, look into my face and smile and say, "You can do this."

My friends are very supportive, but it is not the same.  I can go to Casa Luna and sit with Ms Moon on the porch.  I can call Judy or Denise and talk about things.  I can talk to Rich or Boone or Bob, and so many other friends.  But it is just not the same.  Right now I could use someone to sit down with me with no obligation to hurry off to their significant other or same.  I want someone right now for just me.  But I don't have that, and wishing won't make any difference.  I am enjoying my time with my animals and the gardens.  Really.  But as much as I like my time alone, sometimes you just need someone to talk to.  To hold your hand and when they say it will be OK, it is not don't worry, it is I know you, and I know you have handled so much more lately and you can handle this also.  
 miss that.  
I miss having someone to lean against when you need a little support.  To be there when they need a little assistance.  To share the burdens of the unknown.  To be patient and do for another.  To have that returned.  To have most of the time not about need, but about sharing.  But when you need that little bit of help, to have it there in a familiar smile, a knowing look, a squeeze of reassurance of your hand.  
A hug.

No, I am on my own.  And for the last 4+  years, that has been the norm.  There were occasions that someone was there for me.  But with a few exceptions, I was pretty much on my own.  And did just fine.  When it got to be too much, I reached for my dear friends and family, and they were there.  It helped.   But it also made me realize how long it had been since I had an equal partner, a mate.  I think part of my yearning was from reading The Land of Painted Caves, by Jean M. Auel.  It is book about relationships.  And problems with relationships.  But it certainly pointed out that I was without that relationship.  And with no prospects anywhere in the future.  

OK, so that is where I have been emotionally.  
Dealing with the unknown, anxiety, loneliness, changes, loss.  

But what else have I been up to? 

Tuesday I went to the office and worked the longer half of the day.  The work is over whelming with the quantity.  I was faced at 1:00, do I work another 4 hours or do I say, enough is enough.  I said enough is enough.  

Wednesday I did not go to the office, it was a day to be spent in Thomasville.  I got to the Oncology Center early for my blood work.  They called me in early and the sweet little blood letting LPN asked, "When did you last flush your port?"  What, flush my port?  How do I do that?  How often should I do that?  Why do I have to worry about flushing?  She was patient and looked through my records and said I had not had it flushed since February and it is supposed to be flushed every 4 - 6 weeks.  By drawing blood out of my port instead of out of my arm, I get 2 birds with one stone, they get my blood sampled and they flush it at the same time.  The lovely little LPN explained that we have to flush it every so often to ensure that it works, that it  not does clog up or quit working.  Ok, that is easy, so she took the blood sample, flushed the port, done, everything was good.  

So next I have to go to get a CT Scan.  I always go to the wrong place.  Always.  So this time, armed with my registration paper I head off, not to where I always go, which is not where I need to be, but to the radiology section.  The main entrance was temporarily closed.  So I walked the 15 million miles around to the temporary entrance, then back tracked through the maze of the hospital to the radiology department.  Ha!  HA HA!  They can't fool me.

Ok, well, maybe they could.  I did not read the paper below where it said the time and date and about eating or drinking, or rather not about eating or drinking for a minimum of 4 hours prior to the test.  But below all of that it said, "Archibold Ambulatory Center"  This center is next door to the Oncology building.  

I had not read that part.  So now I am not at the wrong place, I am at another wrong place.  The receptionist are so nice and they tell me they will take care of me and will call to find out if they can do the scan.  I say, I am like 3 hours early for the appointment, so really, I can just go ahead and go where I am supposed to be, really it is all right. "No, no, we will take care of it", they tell me.  So they call the Ambulatory center and find out what is needed.  They come back and hand me 2 bottles, 450 ml each of a barium drink.  This is nasty tasting stuff.  nasty.  But they assure me over and over, this is what I am supposed to be doing.  I drink the first bottle down.  It is not easy, and it tastes foul, but I get it down.  I am still 2 1/2 hours early for the appointment, but I can't eat or drink, so I might as well go wait where they will do the scan.

I find my way back out of the hospital and head over to the right place.  I check in at the receptionist, give her my ID and insurance card, I fill out the papers.  Just as I sit back down I am paged with a phone call.  A little taken back as I answer the phone.  It is Ron, the head radiologist.  he wants to know what is going on.  I explain about going to the wrong place, getting lost, telling the people that I want to go to where I should be, their insistence that I drink the barium, etc.  He is angry.  He did not want me to drink the barium.  Uh oh.  

He hangs up and physically shows up right in front of me in a matte of minutes.  I give him the paper bag with the one empty bottle and the other bottle not touched.  He barks at me, do you want coke or diet coke?  I said, "No thank you, I don't drink sodas"  He grits his teeth, "Fine, how about grape juice?"  "No, thank you, water please"  "How about apple juice?" No, thank you, water please".  "No, water is not one of the choices, cranberry juice?"  "Yes, please, cranberry juice would be fine, thank you."  I mean this man has the finger on the button that causes me to be surrounded by radiation.  I really don't want to piss him off.  He comes out with 24 ounces of cranberry juice with a secret ingredient. "Drink, now"  "yes sir."  And I did, immediately, I drank as fast as I could, I made faces, not because of the secret ingredient, but cranberry is that magical fruit that is sweet and tart at the same time.  

Ron turns and leaves, he is back in control.  And we both know it.  So I sit and read my book until they call me back.  I obediently follow the nurse back to her area where I dutifully sit and answer her questions.  The same ones that I fill out on every piece of paper every time to go to the doctor.  I also mention that I have a port.  She stalls and looks at me.  Her face twitches, her head jerks, her arms and hands jerk.  She has tourette syndrome.  She is professional, dutiful, serious about her work.  She asks to see my port.  She does not look particularly happy.  But then she sees my port.  She is over joyed.  She giggles like a little girl with her favorite flavor of ice cream.  She reached out and touched it like it was a holy artifact.  "Oh, look you can see it!  You know sometimes you can't see the port, sometimes you can't even feel it, let alone find it.  But look at yours, it is close to the surface"  And with my lack of body fat, it is very obvious.  She touches each of the 3 access spots.  "Look at how easily you can not only see them, but you can also see the middle!"  Oh this will be a piece of cake.  I am relieved that she is happy, but I am still a little concerned with the twitches and jerks.  I am sure that she is good at her job, but someone jerking a needle under your nose is not the best way to build confidence.  

She grabs my right shoulder with her left hand.  She rests her forearm on my chest and just as easy as that stabs my chest, perfect bulls eye in one of the port access points.  She flushes it, we are set to go....almost.  They bring in another 12 ounces of the magical cranberry drink. "Drink now"  I feel like I am in a Lewis Carroll novel.  They take me back to the machine and lay me down.  They cover me in a warmed blanket and then strap me to the table.  Up goes the table into the machine, the one that has the round hole that lights whir around and around me.  Above my head are the words, "Do not stare into the laser"  Where?  Where do I not stare?  Where is the laser?  Then I see a little cartoon of a little green face profile with its mouth open.  When you are close to needing to hold your breath, the green man flashes.  Then it goes dark and you see a little yellow face in profile.  This one has puffed up cheeks.  A man's voice says, take a deep breath, and the green light flashes.  Then he says, "hold your breath" and you see the little yellow face.  The machine whirrs, the lights flash, the laser goes round and round, and then the man voice says, "Breathe"  And I do.  And then I wait until we repeat the process again. By the third time I have this down.  So now when I see the little green face flashing, I get ready to hold my breath.  Then the green man goes dark.  I am confused.  Then I hear the door open behind me, and I hear one of the radiologist say, "take a dip breath, and hold".  Great, the little men faces and voice are not working right.  Does this mean the machine is working right?  Oh lord, what else is going to happen?  So we finish the scan with the radiologist opening the door, yelling an order, closing the door, the machine whirs, and we repeat.  It takes all of about 15 minutes.  I have been there by now for 4 hours.  I have drank barium that I didn't need.  I have had my port flushed twice.  I have had my blood taken, I have been scanned, I feel a little nauseous.  But not so bad.

I stop at Publix and get some fruit, and a large container of yogurt.  I am picking blue berries from my back yard, but they have thinned out now to 8 ounces every 3 - 4 days.  I was getting 8 ounces every other day.  And most of the berries are picked by now.  So I bought  blueberries, strawberries, kiwi, melons.  Summer fruit.  I head home.

Thursday was the conference for the Pesticide Safety Educators.  So after working 5 hours, I set out to Wakulla Springs, a boat ride and then dinner at the lodge with people from other states.  The boat ride was lovely, it always is.  Each time different but familiar.  We saw manatees, deer, gators, turtle, fish, bird and ducks of every color and imagination.  The weather is hot, but the boat ride is refreshing with the breeze from the movement.  The food was nice and everyone had a wonderful time talking and laughing.  It was a lovely ride home at dusk with the top down driving the back roads of Florida.

Friday was work.  Simple work, writing Evaluations of my over worked and faithful staff.  Data entry.  I felt like the little dutch boy with his finger in the dike.  But unlike the story, the work does not slow.  Just more and more leaks keep popping up.

This weekend I have had the blues.  Unable to read Bless our hearts, unable to post.  Unable to get or send any email.  Cut off from the world.  I did get to speak to my dad, and a few others, but I had the down and out lonely time blues.  I went to bed early every night.  I tried to sleep in, and actually made it to 8:00 am this morning.  And then I got my email back.  And my Internet.  And I connected with the world again.  I am still alone, but not so lonely.  I can write.  I can take that loneliness that is rumbling around in my soul and release it through words.  I can reach out and touch people I care.  A little of the anxiety is gone.

This next week after work on Monday I will go to the travel agent and find out how I get my schedule and tickets.  Things have changed considerably since Dad and I flew over the pond almost 7 years ago.  Tuesday will be my last day at work.  I will put on a smile and try to hold back the tears and close the door on a 25 year period of my life.  I should be getting good at this.  Why in one year would someone want to have to deal with the end of a 25 year relationship.  To literally bury half of yourself.  And now to hold my head up and walk out of a place that has been such a significant part of my life for 25+ years.  Wow, it is like I am starting completely over.  But now I am 25 years older, I have a couple of incurable diseases, oh cancer is one of them.  I have been told again that I will not live for long.  But now with the chemo, we don't know for how long.  everyone dies.  And for the last year it has been a part of my every moment.  I have been a part of many deaths this past 6 months.  I have lost friends, lovers, pets and now the death of my career.  Will there be new adventures to my life?  Oh yes, and in 2 weeks, Dad and I will have an adventure together.  And later this summer, Philadelphia and a week on St. George with friends.  Nothing is stopping, nothing is slowing, life is changing.  Things that were, may not be any longer, but new people and places will take their place.  New interests, new obligations and schedules.  Twists and turns along a journey.

The world is open to possibilities, I just have to pick them.
Live them.
I have no idea what is around the corner, or up the street.  
I am anxious and growing weary of the constant loss and change
of phones that think they are smarter then me.
I have won that little challenge,  
on to the next one.  
A little sad
a little lonely
a little anxious
no one said life was comfortable. 
And if it is, are you growing?  Are you living?
Are you tackling the challenges?

I could use a little rest from all the challenges
but unlike the movies, there is no remote with a pause button for life.  
I try to stay back from the curb, but it has been my time to deal with challenges. 

I feel like a car reaching a landmark number, 65K or 80K or 100K, time to do those maintenance things that the manual tells you about.
I don't know but my life feels like that car, time for a little tuneup


  1. I seriously do not know how you do it. I look at you in wonder.
    Because you are wonder-full.
    I love you....M

  2. You describe a bewildering number of losses and challenges. And now retirement. I retired once, 24 years ago. I knew what I wanted to do next, so I hit the ground running. But yes, retirement was quite disorienting. I've had my own business since then, and it has held my interest. I'm slowly transitioning into writing 100% of the time. Going forward, I will do that till I drop, whenever that is.

    I tell people who are retiring to think about what they care about most, and then get more involved in that. This may be good advice, but it feels glib to say it. For example, most of the newly retired people I've talked to don't have a clue what they're passionate about. Maybe they deferred it so long, they've forgotten what it was, or maybe they've changed and the question no longer has a ready answer. Or maybe the thing you'd like to do most one day isn't at all what you'd like to do the next day.

    But I read this once, and it has never once sounded glib to me: "Choose a path with heart, and follow it."

  3. My husband lost a wonderful support system on the job today, But... I gained more time with my friend. I am looking forward to spending time together laughing and cutting up. To learning more about how to enjoy myself and see things through your eyes. I love how your eyes see things! Looking forward to hearing about your trip and seeing pictures upon your return. Lots of Love, Hugs and kisses! Paige