Welcome to the Misadventures of Widowhood blog!

In January of 2012 my soul mate of 42 years passed away after nearly 12 years of living with severe disabilities due to a stroke. I survived the first year after Don’s death doing what most widows do---trying to make sense of my world turned upside down. The pain and heartache of loss, my dark humor, my sweetest memories and, yes, even my pity parties are well documented in this blog.

Now that I’m a "seasoned widow" the focus of my writing has changed. I’m still a widow looking through that lens but I’m also a woman searching for contentment, friends and a voice in my restless world. Some people say I have a quirky sense of humor that shows up from time to time in this blog. Others say I make some keen observations about life and growing older. I say I just write about whatever passes through my days---the good, bad and the ugly. Comments welcome and encouraged. Let's get a dialogue going! Jean

Wednesday, October 5, 2016

Routines, Personal Foibles and Balance Class



Morning Routine: After getting up and using the bathroom, I walk through the house opening the blinds and pulling the shades up. Then, in the kitchen I’ll wash my hands a second time in hot, soapy water just in case one sleepy morning I forgot to do it before leaving the bathroom and those shades and blinds have some yucky-do germs on them. As a personal foible, that’s harmless enough. I’m not a total germaphobic but I do wipe down shopping cart handles during flu season with the store provided anti-bacteria wipes and I am afraid of those shade and blind controls. No one ever washes those wands and knobs. No one. Nowhere. Including me.

With that ritual out of the way, I take a cup of water out of the refrigerator (that I measured out the night before---foible #2) and I pour it in the Keurig coffee maker then turn on the TV and the computer while it’s brewing. With my coffee in hand, I’ll check my blog and others in the blogging community first, then I’ll see what’s new at the political debate site where I frequently post. Eventually I’ll get around to Facebook and email although often these will have to wait until evening if I get too wrapped up in my earlier cyber stops or I’m working on a new blog entry. 

The dog has his own routine. Levi gets up earlier than I do, moves to the library where he can watch for pee mail deliveries from our four legged neighbors going by the house, then he goes back to sleep again for a few hours. But he thinks the blender is an alarm clock so when I pull the second cup of water out of the refrigerator to make a protein shake, Levi comes out to the kitchen to get a few pieces of fruit. Next I’ll get his feed and fresh water ready and while he’s outside doing his morning business I’ll be drinking my breakfast. Mid-morning it's back to the bathroom to get a shower or sponge bath in preparation for whatever in written in my day planner. The dog parks himself on the end of the bed where he can watch me in the bathroom doing all that. He’s either a pervert or sad because he knows there’s a chance I’ll be leaving him alone soon after.

The dog and I might live a boring life filled with routines and foibles but ‘boring’ is a good thing when compared to the perils of living in a world without the opportunity to develop them in the first place. People don’t grow up aspiring to be Syrian war refugees, for example. Circumstances beyond our control can change the trajectory of our lives in the time it takes to spray paint the word “Boring!” on a subway wall. Don’t do that, by the way, I doubt you’re young enough to outrun the graffiti police. The point is no matter how pedestrian our lives get we should never forget to be grateful for that. End of mini sermon; yes, I’m writing this on Sunday. Below will be written on Tuesday after balance class.

I put off doing my homework for balance class until the last minute. When I finally did it I suppose I was in the Scarlett Club of Denial because I thought I was too young to be asking myself if I agree or disagree with stupid questions like: 1) Falling should be accepted as a natural part of growing old, or 2) If I report a fall to a doctor s/he may think that I can’t take care of myself. Already I’ve learned to use a pencil when checking boxes in the workbook because if you don’t answer “correctly” the workbook asks you to write an essay on how you can change your mindset. It’s like the workbook was trying to yell, “Pay attention! You know damn well the next fall could put you in a nursing home!” But all I really heard was a condescending blah, blah, blah. Foible Alert #3: Yes, I can be stubborn when I think a workbook is talking down to little old widow-ladies like me. Give me a list of ‘dos and don’ts’ and a set of exercises and wish me luck! Good-bye, nice meeting you.

In class, however, when the twelve of us were sitting around discussing our workbook questions and answers I was forced to knowledge (if only to myself) that the whole point of the workbook homework was to get us to exchange our fears with constructive behaviors to avoid falls. Fears, if left to fester, can make our world grow smaller and smaller. 

And while we were sitting in class someone tried to drive through the wall just a few feet away from us, a classic old person mistake of stepping on the gas pedal instead of the break. Emergency vehicles and help and lawyers from the office next door came like a swarm of locust and, thankfully, her car took the most damage---front grill, hood and fender. The steel I-beam inside the wall she hit kept the car out of the building. If she had tried to park just one space over, she would have ended up through a large window and on top of our table. We were lucky! Like I wrote up above, it only takes a split-second for the trajectory of our lives to change forever.  ©

33 comments:

  1. Routines, we all have our own, don't we? I put my shoes on and the kids (dogs) know I am going to let them outside. I go into the kitchen and instantly they know it's time to eat. They seem to know me pretty well.

    Interesting, your class on falling. A workbook you say? I'm wondering what all it entails?

    Holy cow! That poor woman! See why I gave up my license? I bet she didn't think she'd do that! I feel sure I wouldn't do such a thing, myself, but one never knows ...

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. A few months ago a elderly man made the local news when he went through a window at a coffee shop when he was trying to park. People got hurt. I thought about that when I got home and realized how easily it could have happened again. Scary stuff!

      I have six more balance classes so I'll probably be writing about the workbook again. Next week we start in with exercises and I know one we talk about how to get off the floor if we fall.

      Delete
  2. I have my own inviolable morning routine. No matter what time I get up, I put on the coffee, do a quick scan of emails and wash my face while it's making. Then, drink my first cup on the living room floor, while I brush Dixie Rose. The only question is whether I get up first, or whether she gets me up early, ready for her brush.

    Your tale of the out-of-control driver is amazing. I read of such things from time to time, but I've never known someone who experienced such. You're right -- it takes only a split second. My mother was driving back to Iowa from her sister's house in Kansas City many years ago, when a 2x4 fell from a truck, bounched, and went straight through the windshield of her car -- on the passenger side. Two feet to the left, and she would have been impaled. We just never know.

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. A guy got impaled by a long pole being carried illegally by a large truck just last week here in town! I guess if they are of a certain length you're supposed to have a follow up vehicle.

      Is Dixie Rose a dog or a cat? I can't imagine Levi wanting to get brushed every day.

      Delete
    2. She's a kitty, and she loves being brushed. If I'm neglectful, she'll go sit by her brush and meow, or, from time to time, will bring it to me, like a dog. It's the most amazing thing ever.

      Delete
  3. O enjoyed reading about your morning routine. We all have them but whey are ours alone. You write so mildly about the car coming through the wall that I had to go back and be sure that is what you said! That would be enough excitement for me for a least a week!

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. Once we found out that the woman didn't have a medical issue that caused her to hit the wall, we all went back to our class and it wasn't until later at home that it fully sunk in.

      Delete
  4. Hopefully your class is all about perturbations in your walking. The best way not to fall is to practice recovering from such perturbations. You remember seeing a person kicking one of the robot dogs making sure it can recover from such insults. Poor robot dog getting abused.

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. Yes, later on there is a whole two hour class on how to get up from the floor with various body parts not working. An OT or PT will be coming in to teach that class and do demonstrations. I think that will be the most important part of the whole course.

      Delete
  5. I do hope you will blog about the balance exercises. I think we should ALWAYS be practicing, no matter our age.

    Morning rituals are very important to me. I don't like to talk until I've had at least 1/2 cup of my coffee. Even the grandboys know this! Braeden will come over, peer in and ask "almost?". I read the online news first, then email, then Facebook and then more news. Breakfast is about 90 minutes after awakening. It's great when I have visitors ... they usually get the coffee on which draws me out of my room!

    YIKES on the car crashing into the building! SCARY. I do hope I am like others I admire ... who give up driving BEFORE something major happens.

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. That's cute that your grandsons know enough to wait in the morning. I think a lot of wives would do themselves a favor if they had a half hour rule when a man gets home from work before talking.

      I will most likely blog about the exercises. There are two classes devoted to them. The giving up driving thing is such a major thing. I will need to be living in a different house/condo/apartment by then.

      Delete
  6. No, you never know. Life is fickle. I guess we can only try to improve our odds. I, too, wipe down shopping cart handles during flu season with those wipes. I've become a little paranoid, but just because you're paranoid it doesn't mean those nasty, little germs aren't out to get you. Cuz they are.

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. Yes, the older we get the low our immunity system works. Good luck tomorrow with your procedure!

      Delete
  7. Interesting the little habits we develop. Everyday I express gratitude for the life we're living. I certainly can't take credit for a lot of it. For some reason the stars just seemed to come together. You are so right. It can all change in a minute's time. This week-end I bought comforter type coverlets for our beds. Bedspreads that drape on the floor at the corners are a real trap for falling if you're wearing athletic shoes and tangle yourself in a corner. Removed that threat.

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. Boy, are you right about the dangers of bedding! The worse fall I took (1999)was because my foot got tangled in bedding. I broke my elbow, had a very long surgery to replace it where they didn't know if they could save the lower half of my arm. Then I spent months in a turn bucket cast (painful) and plenty of therapy after it came off. For several years I couldn't turn my hand over enough to hold change without it running out all over the floor. The bottom line: I'm I'm very careful about making beds and no bedding draping to the floor.

      Delete
  8. I'm trying to change my morning routine, by starting with grapefruit. Porridge and tea a bit later.. All, of course, directed to lose weight. Easier to do heading towards our summer, as in winter the first thing I want is something HOT.

    Don't like the idea of bedlinen touching/draping close to the floor, be it carpet or wooden. I just think of the dirt/dust and other nasties. Funny how its like that in hotels but then it doesn't bother me.

    I slipped badly over a squashed grape in the supermarket a few years ago. No supermarket folks came near me, it was bystanders who helped. I was bedridden for a week. ~ Libby

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. You probably know this but it's important to cross check grapefruit for drug interactions. Lots of them you can't take with grapefruit.

      Another thing I can't stand is drapery that is long and puddling on the floor. It's only a style to raise the price of the drapery and it makes floor so hard to clean.

      Slipping in the produce department is common. At least I've seen it a time or two and they are always cleaning in there at the store where I go. Glad bystanders, at least, helped you! That must have been a nasty fall!

      Delete
    2. Tx for the tip (I stay clear of medications).

      I had new curtains (just touch floor) installed, with inbuilt pelmets for maximum heat conservation. Now sometimes wish I hadn't been such a heat conservation-nazi and considered blinds. I like the fact that they leave the floor area abs clean - so much easier when you're vacuuming! But I'm sure I'd have found something else to gripe about. The other day a small skint that's always warming itself on my backdoor step slipped into the house when I suddenly opened the backdoor, and hid under the curtains. I'm hoping it found its way out (it slithers under the very narrow gap under the back door). For the first time, I'd have been happy to see it at its usual spot as that'd meant it was no longer indoors - but no such luck as yet (and now its been a few days). Sometimes I console myself that the terror of it being trapped inside the house, and then escape, has cured it of sunbathing on my doorstep. We're both terrified of each other. ~ Libby

      Delete
    3. I have no idea what a "skint" is and neither does our American google but saying it could have "slithers under your door" is enough for me to know I wouldn't like them.

      Delete
    4. "skink", (not "Stint"). Its a small garden lizard. ~ Libby

      Delete
    5. Found it! Thankfully, we don't have those around here.

      Delete
  9. Actually I like to have a routine and if I deviate from it in the morning, the rest of the day I feel like I have forgotten something. LOL

    ReplyDelete
  10. Years ago my husband and I had to do a hygiene course as we were running a youth hostel in England at the time. What stuck with me was when they discussed cleaning surfaces and there was specific mention that cleaners who clean toilets generally only clean the bowl and the seat. The part of the toilet that we all touch, and has all the germs is the flush handle. That is also the part that cleaners generally do not touch. Fortunately more toilets are now being built hands free so you don't have to touch the flush any more.
    Coffee and reading the newspaper (online) is my morning routine. I don't want to be told that I shouldn't drink coffee for health reasons...it is too good and pleasant!
    Regards,
    Leze

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. I actually use my knuckle to flush toilets instead of my finger tip.

      I'm getting an infusion next week for my bones and have to limit my coffee to one cup a day for two weeks. I am not looking forward to that!But I get all the calcium rich foods I can get down.

      Delete
  11. You sure do have a great perspective on 'boring'! I'm actually living the life I prayed for all those stressful years ago (minus the partner, of course).

    Thanks for reminding me that boring and foibles and contentment can be in the same life and the same time!

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. I have to remind myself of that all the time.

      Delete
  12. I loved reading about your morning routine. I make my coffee the night before and set the pot on a timer to come on at 6:00. When I get up (btwn 6-7:00), it's hot and ready! I'd like to say I have a cup before I hop on my treadmill, followed by a meditation time, followed by yoga class. But the reality is I sit down with my cup in front of the computer and scroll through emails and Facebook. (At some point I get to the meditation and yoga class, but rarely get to the treadmill -- big foible!)

    That drive-through is so scary. Glad everyone is OK. I can never understand how one can confuse the gas and the break, but a couple of years ago I was at fault in an accident where I turned left in front of someone when I thought I was just moving into a left turn lane. I felt terrible and have compassion for momentary lapses. I'll quit driving if I ever do something as careless again!

    Balance is incredibly important. I practice it daily and I truly believe it has "saved" me a few times when I've fallen or nearly fallen. Practicing getting up from the floor is also really important. I know some who literally cannot. That would scare me! I'm up and down from the floor dozens of times a week in my yoga classes and with my toddler granddaughter. Even if some days it's more effortful than others, i see the importance of practicing. My neighbor fell carrying groceries into her house and lay there for FOUR days! She wasn't seriously injured, but you can imagine not eating or drinking or taking her meds landed her in the hospital and she was never able to return home to live alone. Very sad. Stay strong and balanced, everyone!

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. Driving is such a big responsibility and it's so easy to get distracted. We have to stay vigilant as we age. They are going to offer a refresher driving course down at the senior hall and I may sign up for it.

      I can't get up off the floor with my fake knees and one fake elbow. (No confidence more than anything.) When I broke my wrist a year or two ago I butt crawled to the bathroom where I was able to use the handrail by the toilet to fling myself up on the stool so I could get my feet under me. I wear an emergency call button but I didn't use it. Very scary! I'm looking forward to the balance exercises.

      Delete
  13. Jean :

    I am so glad you all are okay & it was just material damage. accidents can change life in an instant. I am big believer of routine in life. I know my routine saved me from my depression. & now I look forward to my breakfast with nice cup of coffee. who would have thought I look forward to getting up on specific time for my coffee & breakfast
    Asha

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. Thank you! I do think it's natural to thrive with routine. The earth has a routine, a rhythm that repeats itself over and over so why shouldn't mankind do the same? Glad you enjoy yours so much.

      Delete
  14. I've always felt I had lousy balance, and I've looked at the "Matter of Balance" course offered by the Senior Center in my county. Unfortunately, they only offer it at a morning time that is too early for me (it would really mess up my morning routines ;-) ). Instead, I have been trying to improve my balance by standing on one foot for a couple of minutes twice a day. -Jean
    p.s. I hate those questions about falling at the doctor's office, but they have made me more cautious about risky behavior.

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. I'm hoping the exercises we're suppose to learn will be helpful. I know I'm concerned enough about my balance to actually try to make them part of my daily routine.

      I have a doctor's appointment coming up this week, I'm sure he'll be asking "those questions" none of like. I understand that Matter of Balance class is taught exactly the same way, with the same workbook all over the country.

      Delete