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

Saturday, September 16, 2017

Life Changing Secrets and Leg ‘Magic’…or so They Claim



Do you wear compression stockings? If so you might have liked a class I went to this week called, Healthy Legs. The class description started out, “Maintaining a healthy active lifestyle starts with energizing your legs” and I didn’t bother to read the rest. Had I done so, I would have known it was put on by Juzo Compression Garments. I don’t wear compression stockings and after watching three 30ish, skinny model types pushing the idea that, “EVERYONE needs to wear these no matter your age” I did not join the cult. Although they did have styles for everyone---ankle, knee and thigh high, open toed for scandals and panty hose plus garments just for sleeping. Each of those came with compression rates from 15% to 50% and even though they come in some cool tie-dyed and jewel colors, none of those young women fooled me with their “Spanx for legs” jokes. They still looked medicinal.

And it wasn’t just the stockings. You’d need accessories just to get them on---special gloves, a ‘donner pad’ for the floor, donning lotion and a parachute-like device that helps you thread these stocking up your legs. It all made me feel very old for reasons that are probably related to why I resisted having a magnifying glass next to my chair in the living room for so long. Old people gear here and there and before long I might as call my house a nursing home.

Someone asked why the compression stocking she wore didn’t stay up and the answer was: there are two types of human legs---stove pipes and pie shaped and if you are in the wrong type and/or size garment they won’t work. You need measurements taken up and down and around your legs at several places to get the right compression in the right places. The garments has different compression ratings in different parts, the higher up your leg they go. So why compress your legs? Apparently it helps push the blood from your feet up to your heart where it gets oxygenated before the blood returns to your feet. I did not stick around to get a fitting. I will not be asking my doctor next month at my bi-annual appointment if I'd benefits from compression stockings like these ladies suggested. I wanted to stick my fingers in my ears and sing, "La, la, la, la, I can't hear you!"

Also this week I went to my book club where we had our best discussion ever. The book that inspired it was The Memory Keeper's Daughter by Kim Edwards. The blurb says this: “…the novel begins on a winter night in 1964 when a blizzard forces Dr. David Henry to deliver his own twins…but the doctor immediately recognizes that his daughter has Down’s syndrome.” In a split-second decision he asks his nurse to take the baby to an institution and tells his wife the girl was born died. Instead, the nurse left town, keeping the baby to raise as her own---two secrets that the wife and other twin didn’t find out about until after David died sixteen years later. 

Everyone in my book club had a story to tell about babies given up for adoption, most in secret that got revealed years later. One woman found out a week after her mother died that she had an older brother. It seemed her two aunts had kept the secret long enough and they gave her the contact information for the long-lost older brother. She said she felt like her whole life had been based on a lie because her mom had told her she was a virgin when she got married when, in fact, she’d had an affair with a married man. Her younger brother refused to believe it and didn’t want anything to do with meeting the half-brother. Fast forward ten years she hadn’t contact the older sibling, lost his contact information during a move and the aunts died. And she is left to wonder why her mother lied.

Another woman had recently found a message on her phone from a cousin who wanted to get together. “My mom told me a secret about your mother that is going to blow your mind.” She was afraid to call the cousin back. On one hand she wanted to know what it was but her older sister told her, “Trust me, you’ll wish you didn’t know.” The consensus in the book club was that a lot of secrets went to the grave with women in past generations. It was a different time for unmarried and pregnant young women and none of them could have ever imagined how easily their babies-out-of-wedlock secrets could get tracked down in our modern, internet savvy world. There are whole websites devoted to the effort. ©



28 comments:

  1. Fred had to wear compression stockings after his heart surgery, a common thing. We couldn't get them on him, after he came home. I'd bend over and wrestle the foot part on, but pulling them up, just wasn't happening. I do have a pair of knee highs that are tight, like they recommend diabetics wear and they do feel kind of good, although I haven't worn them in a couple of years. I have Stove Pipe legs.
    I read that book years ago. I liked it too.

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    1. They demonstrated putting them on. With the gadget they used they made it look sort of easy but time consuming. I'm going to add a link to a YouTube video to this post that shows their method.

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  2. That looks like a lot of work getting those compression stockings on and off, all in what you need I suppose.

    Yes there are a lot of secrets that went to the grave with people, like you said times were different and things people once were ashamed of and didn't talk about are more easily accepted today.

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    1. I know there are a lot of medical reasons why people wear those stockings but the idea of struggling to get them on every morning does not appeal to me.

      When people romanticize the 50ths as if bad things never happened forget how much was swept under the carpet and kept behind closed doors. Child and spousal abuse, sleeping around and babies out of wedlock.

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  3. Unbelievable, but I read that book too. I still am not able to put reading as a priority in my spare time. Maybe I have Senior ADD??? I didn't have too much trouble putting on mine after the knee replacement ... was able to do it by myself this time! I do wear them when I get on the plane though. I used to wear Sheer Energy panty hose and loved how my legs didn't get so tired.

    The same secrets happened in the 50's that happen now. It was just more secretive. And we have a blogger friend who has a secret knocking on her present door ....

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    1. That was a common book club selection. I also saw the movie but didn't remember it until I started reading the book.

      When my book club friend started telling her story about getting the call from her cousin, I thought immediately of our blogger friend. For a minute I thought it could be the same family but I'm pretty sure our blogger friend's family isn't from around here. I think the only secret I couldn't forgive of my mom is if she was an assassin for the CIA.

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  4. I'm pretty sure I need compression stockings - the ones that go up the thigh. I am also pretty sure the battle getting them on would put me in cardiac arrest.

    I thought that story sounded familiar - They made a movie out of it, I believe and they showed it on Lifetime. I knew I hadn't read it. Heaven knows the secrets that went to my family members' graves ... A trunkload, I'm sure.

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    1. I don't think there are any secrets siblings that my parents kept from me, but you never know.

      I just can't imagine beginning my day by struggling to put stockings on.

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  5. Ah, well... lessons I've learned very well in my family, as you know.
    Like Sharon, I think I've seen the movie. I bet the book was better.
    I don't want anything to do with compression socks. :)
    I too have those feelings about my house. I try to hide the various telltale sings that scream, "Old people live her." You know how they have those sites and pinterest boards that are dedicated to organizing your garage, kitchen, bathroom drawers. They should do one on how to hide old people stuff.

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    1. I love the idea of a hide-away closet just for old people gear. And I actually could have one. I have a gun closet in the house that no longer holds guns or anything else. I could even lock up my old people gear so no one could get snoopy and find it. LOL

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  6. Don't need them yet and hope I don't.
    My step sister just discovered she has a half brother. She doesn't want to get to know him. If he were my lost relative, I would be curious and want to meet him. Besides, you never know when you might need a kidney:)

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    1. I would want to meet on a neutral ground with each of us taking a trusted friend with us to facilitate if things got awkward. Never thought of the kidney angle. LOL

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  7. My husband wore something less difficult to put on...more like a sleeve that compressed his legs to keep the fluid from building up in his legs and ankles. I did have to put them on him, but it wasn't very hard to do. You buy lengths of this stretchy tube fabric and just cut off the length needed. You can buy different levels of compression tubing.

    As far as adoption, the only cousin I ever knew growing up turned out to be adopted. I didn't find out until I found my non-adopted cousins about 10 years ago. Every time I asked her if she knew where our other cousins were, she always said she didn't know what happened to them. They all were 20 years older than I and lived in the same city. A couple of years ago I did a Ancestry DNA test and a son of one of those missing cousins was my closest match. It is puzzling to me why my parents never mentioned the adoption to me.

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    1. Anonymous...could you sign your first name or city to your replies in the future? Several people post as 'anonymous' and it helps to know which is which.

      I've seen those compression sleeves you cut off from a tube. I think those are the low of compression garments but I like the idea because you wouldn't be paying an arm and a leg. They did say that if compression garment is too easy to put on it's not doing the job it's supposed to be doing.

      Someone at book club also found a close relative by doing the Ancestry DNA. I think older generations kept adoptions pretty quiet so they could raise a child with them thinking they were a blood part of the family. They didn't celebrate adoptions like we do now. A lot of adoptions where kept in families, too...aunts and uncles taking kids in. That happened in my mom's family.

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    2. Yes, sorry. I had tree cutters here today and they just finished cutting down 14 more ash trees due to the ash borer. They were just finishing when I sent this...should have signed my name. Ann

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    3. Wow, that's a lot of trees to cut in one day. That's going to change the environments for your plants.

      No need to apologize, though. Just glad the mystery is solved.

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  8. A strong "No" from me re the compression stockings.

    I just checked out the summary of the book online. NOT my cup of tea. But, the guy did it from the best motives, so I cannot blame him.

    Re secrets, despite not having much power over their lives in olden days, women in the end did have the upper hand, in some cases!! ~ Libby

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    1. It didn't come out until the end of the book that he had a sister with Downes syndrome and he really did think he was saving his wife a lot of grief, but the secret ruined their marriage. Whether or not the wife would have made the same decision to institutionalize the girl was a big part of our discussion. I liked the discussion better than the book. It was spirited.

      Interesting statement about power, Libby.

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  9. I don't know. I have a feeling compression stockings are both (1) a medical necessity or boon, and (2) a product in search of a market. As with so many things, instead of necessity being the mother of invention, someone invents something, and then tells us we absolutely must have it. (Hello, Apple and their iGadgets.)

    The book's not to my taste, but most of what I'm reading these days probably wouldn't suit most in your book club, so it all evens out. The good news is that we can choose what we read, and as long as we're reading, it's all good.

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    1. You're right. Compression stockings are generally by prescription, if the compression is over 20%. Under that the company is trying to wipe up a market with runners, people into fitness classes and anyone they can talk into how good they supposedly make you feel.

      I have mixed feelings about the book club selections. I wouldn't pick any of the titles to read but I feel like I need to stretch outside my comfort zone so I keep on going. I consider it reading for brain exercise.

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  10. Family Secrets...as another commenter said, the same stuff has always been going on; it was just hidden more/differently way back then. Shame was far more prevalent, and secrets were easier to keep before the advent of the Internet and so much social media.

    It takes far more effort now to be Private and Discreet, and it seems a Lost Art as well.

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    1. I'm glad I grew up before social media. And you are right, not one seems to value privacy and discretion now. Everyone wants the 15 minutes of fame...even us bloggers. LOL

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  11. I don't intend to rub people's noses in any of my so-called "old people's stuff" at my home if I use any, but I don't intend to go out of my way to keep it secret. My comfort and convenience is what's important to me, but then I don't have a lot of people in and out of my home.

    Years ago I chose to wear compression hose whenever I'm on long flights as my Dr. recommended, even though I make an effort to periodically walk during trip and exercise ankles/feet. I simply purchased some hose off the rack at pharmacy -- no gadgets to facilitate putting them on but a little extra effort to pull them up. I don't buy sheer so don't have to worry about runs, but do avoid snags. I wear slacks/pant suit, comfortable shoes when I fly, so nobody is going to see my hose anyway. Midlife when I learned leg crossing not healthy I stopped that, and often elevate my legs when sitting as a wise thing to do, too. Long periods of time with legs hanging down -- even in auto trips, or at events where sitting a lot -- can increase the possibility of blood clots forming in extremities, so behaviors we adopt at whatever age to enhance our lives only benefit us. I really haven't cared what others may think relative to my actions or age.

    Family secrets do eventually out, I think, and can do more unintended harm than good, unfortunately. Older generations were influenced more by shame for socially unacceptable actions whether accidental or deliberate than in subsequent generations, I think, so could be all sorts of secrets. There seems to be no shame for anything any more and suppose whether or not that's good could be argued. Science advancements with blood tests, DNA analysis and other new info make knowable now what wasn't knowable years ago, so much less incentive to keep secrets, I guess, where family connections/situations are concerned.

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    1. They mentioned the benefits of wearing them on an airplane and if I ever fly I will definitely do it. I had a pair around here left over from when I had knee surgery and I saw them less than a month go. Do you think I can find them now, that I want to check if the compression rate is right for wearing every day. No, I can't. I think they are like bras...a lot of people are walking around with the wrong sizes.

      I just can't imagine keeping a secret like giving a baby up for adoption if I had ever done that. No need to rat me out, I'd probably rat out myself.

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  12. Good golly! I would be so impatient and frustrated with that slippy gator thing! Hope I won't have to go the compression stocking route, ever!

    You know how I feel about "open adoption". So glad my sons have always known their adoption story and there are no secrets in their lives around that.

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    1. Me too on the compression stocking!

      I'm sure it wasn't always easy, having open adoptions but compared to those done in secret I'm guess your way leaves less collateral damage for all concerned. You're so close to your adult sons that it speaks volumes about the kind of job you and your husband did raising them.

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  13. I prefer the alternative way to prevent the blood from pooling in my feet -- sit back, put my feet up on an ottoman, and read a book! ;-)-Jean

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