Welcome to the Misadventures of Widowhood blog!

Welcome to my World---Woman, widow. senior citizen seeking to live out my days with a sense of whimsy as I search for inner peace and friendships. Jeez, that sounds like a profile on a dating app and I have zero interest in them, having lost my soul mate of 42 years. Life was good until it wasn't when my husband had a massive stroke and I spent the next 12 1/2 years as his caregiver. This blog has documented the pain and heartache of loss, my dark humor, my sweetest memories and, yes, even my pity parties and finally, moving past it all. And now I’m ready for a new start, in a new location---a continuum care campus in West Michigan, U.S.A. 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. (Just remember I'm looking through my prism which may or may not be the full story.) Stick around, read a while. I'm sure we'll have things in common. Your comments are welcome and encouraged. Let's get a dialogue going! Jean

Saturday, September 17, 2022

Gallows Humor and Noisy News

 

I writing this post on the eve of my surgery (9/7) because I have this bug up my butt about not missing a blogger’s beat. For the past nearly twenty years I have posted twice a week…more often in the early years when I had more stress in my life. Tonight I looked at my scheduler and realized that I was one post short of my goal of having extra posts to cover the time when one-handed typing would be required. That’s not entirely true; I had scheduled a rerun of an older post for the seventeenth---one of my favorites--but I decided at the eleventh hour not to use it for the simple fact that when I go to someone else’s blog and see an “oldie but goldie” or a “classic” or however a person wants to present it, I usually skip reading it. But that’s just me. I don't like decades old movies and TV shows either and other people living here in the continuum care complex thrive on them. But I do understand that sometimes life gets in the way and finding time and muse to type a post isn’t always practical or high on everyone's To-Do List. However I'm a numbers glutton who doesn't want the internet bots to send my blog to the bottom of the index just below searches for Jimmy Hoffa and that can happen if you don't post on a regular basis. Don't judge me; you guys are my only confidantes and I'd miss you too much if I skipped posting.

Remember Ms. Social Worker? She fell in an exercise class and over the next week she fell five more times. She was taken to ER by ambulance three of those times and once I went to an Urgent Care with her. Apparently, whenever a person over 65 calls 911 about a fall they automatically take us to ER to check our heads, hearts and whatever else they think can go wrong between the ages of 64 and 65. The last time they finally kept her there to do a thorough work up. As of this writing she'd not back home yet. But I don’t need a battery of tests to know what is causing her falls although I doubt she’ll fess up to the reason my Nancy Drew Mystery honed instincts and her kids are pointing the finger at. She takes an opioid based pain medication that her doctor prescribes for face pain she’s had for a couple of years...due to a root canal. Say what? you're thinking. Me too. 

Just before her last fall she was down to lunch, acting really good but complaining about her kids objecting to that drug, “I like taking it,” she said, “and it’s none of their business!” When she left she said she was going upstairs to take her pain pill and three hours later she was on the floor screaming for someone to help her. And this next line was edited in in real time 9/16: Her kids took the hospitalization as an opportunity to jump on the doctor and the controlled substance drug is history. Her daughter is flying in to babysit her for some follow up medical appointments next week.

It seems like over night we have enough people living here who are on the edge of a medical emergency that we could almost make up bingo cards with their names. And when the ambulance---that seems to average two pick ups a week---carts someone off we could put a bingo chip on his or her name. Gallows humor I’d guess you’d call that idea and there's a fair amount of that around here. The opposite is also true---lots of Mary Poppins types doing nice things for each other. A man who was dying and under Hospice care finally passed over and there is an abundance of compassion and loving gestures flowing toward his newly minted widow. Even before he passed people dropped off food and treats and offered to sit with the guy so his wife could go for a walk or get a haircut. 

Another woman who lived here just a week or two before getting her leg amputated was/still is the recipient of an outreach Circle of Grace, with people going out of their way to make her feel welcome, included and looked after. Except for me, I stay away from her because Ms. Social Worker told me I'd better watch that mole biopsy site on my ankle that won't heal because that's the way the amputee lost her foot and I really don't want to learn first hand if this is true. I doubt anyone at a lunch table would ask, "How did you lose your foot?" but I'm taking any chances.

Even me with my minor hand surgeries had the Cheerleader asked what I needed for support because she’d be glad to create a Circle of Grace sign up sheet to do whatever I might need. I told her I didn’t think I’d need anything except maybe my food cut up at dinner for a day or two but I figured the chef could to do that before I get served. But it’s comforting to know if I ever have something more serious come up that there are willing hands nearby which is one of the reasons I choose to live in a CCC.

Okay, this post might be shorter than my usual but at least it’s current content, having only been in my scheduler for a week.  ©

43 comments:

  1. I'm glad there are so many caring people there. You made a great choice. Good luck with the surgery.

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. Thank you. I'm a week out from the surgery and am back to typing with both hands. Stitches are little tender but no pain now or just afterward.

      Delete
  2. Like you, Stress levels are commensurate with my Blogging urges. *LOL* If I could get down to Two times a Week, you'd know I'm catching a Stress Break in Mi Vida Loca and didn't need it so much to replace Therapy or lack of Social Outlets, becoz it's cheaper than Therapy and the Dead and MIA Friends List is sure getting longer all the time *winks* I've thought about reaching out to a few that went off the grid, but honestly, there's ample reason to leave things alone and stay away instead... I'm rather liking the less is more philosophy of Socialization since Pandemic. Who knew? Having the camaraderie, security and yet the privacy needed with a CCC is liberating, you choose how much of each you want to expose yourself to or need. The Opiod Addicted by Doctors thing is a National Scourge still and played off as Pain Management, went thru that with The Man and The Son, know many other Families absolutely destroyed by the consequences of Rx Addiction to controlled substances handed out like Candy by Western Medical Practices and greedy Big Pharma ensuring Lifetime profits off the misery of Creating handy dependent Clients. Glad the Family put pressure on her Docs, I did the same with The Man and almost lost The Son to the Street Drugs that replaced the Prescribed Opiods once Docs cut them off but they're hopelessly Addicted. Fentanyl and Heroin often replace Rx Opiods now, but the Elderly can usually get Docs not to cut them off becoz Medicare and Private Insurance does pay for the bulk of most Geriatric Meds for the most part with a lot of people with means to have good coverage. Most of the less affluent Seniors end up Selling their Meds rather than taking them, to make their ends meet... but that's a whole other Story to tell. Heal quickly my Friend and good Luck with the Surgery.

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. Tou nailed it on the prescription drug problem in this country. It's sad and outrageous that families like yours have to learn that first hand. I don't know about seniors selling their meds to make ends meet but I do know there as some people who are the first to visit someone after a surgery who then steal out of the bottles of pain meds they were given. After a relative admitted doing that to feed her addition I've kept my medications in the obvious places and certainly not in a place where you can lock yourself in like a bathroom. I have known two ordinary housewife types who've been addicted to prescription meds...I guess I could say three now. Sadly.

      Delete
  3. First of all, I'm glad that you're continuing to heal and hanging in there! It really is amazing how quickly our bodies recover. I've been recuperating this week, also, due to more oral surgery. I'm a little jealous, Jean, because I have no Circles of Concern, but my husband did go to the store to pick up a boat load of yogurt for me to eat. Seriously, though, I think there are many kind people at your CCC, simply wanting to help one another, and that's a very good thing.

    Six falls for the social worker, in just a week, is scary. Hopefully, her daughter will help her find some answers. Usually, medication is a solution, but when it comes to opioids, who knows? They scare me.

    Take care, Jean. Will your stitches come out soon?

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. The stitches come out on the 22nd and then I'll set up a surgery date for the other hand.

      There is a high percentage of active church goers on this campus so I'm really not too surprised by the Circle of Grace they set up here to help one another. I've just never been involved in a community that does that before so I'm quite amazed how it works.

      Glad you've got your husband to help with your surgery.

      Delete
    2. He's been through so much with me. Cancer off and on since 1998 and lots of other stuff. I'm grateful to have him!

      Delete
  4. In reference to Ms. Social Worker and that pain that was from a root canal several years ago, I've mentioned before that I had two surgeries to open my skull, access the base of my brain and decompress the trigeminal nerve, one on either side of my head. That's because of a horrid disorder called trigeminal neuralgia that results in the largest, three-branched sensory facial nerve reacting to the smallest sensory trigger--a light wind touching one's face, brushing one's teeth, smiling, talking, and certainly dental procedures--with a crushing, searing pain that has an electrical component. Many people believe, mistakenly or not, that it was brought on by a dental procedure while I believe that many of them were already experiencing TN when they sought the dental procedure and then it dramatically worsened. At first, the pain comes in distinct short pulses, with most people able to recount the first time because the pain is capable of knocking one to one's feet. Misdiagnosis is common. I went from doctor to dentist to ENT for many years while many of them tried to help but none recognized the relatively rare disorder. Opioids are usually not the way to go for TN, but many people land on them. It wasn't until I saw my neurologist on my own, deciding that this had to be a neurological issue, that I was finally diagnosed. Anti-seizures meds are the medication of choice for this, but they cause their own problems with balance, memory, concentration, etc. Worse, the body habituates itself to them, and higher and higher doses are required. The most invasive approach to helping is the MVD procedure I had but it's also the one that best helps for those who qualify. For my first-side MVD, I was given only a 50% chance of success because TN on that side had become atypical, a constant pain that had me eating mush, losing tremendous amounts of weight, and unable to talk on the telephone or make most social engagements. My sister would text me before calling to ask if this were a day when I could talk. The MVD is not considered a cure, but I wanted my chance to react normally to my grandchildren and i took it. That was six years ago, and that surgery saved my life, I believe. I, too, had begun having ER trips due to falls. After that surgery, I regained my ability to exercise vigorously, drive again, and resume a normal life. Two years later, TN hit on the second side, a rare occurrence, but I ran, not walked, to my neurosurgeon's office while it was still typical TN and more amenable to the surgery. Literature describes TN in a way that minimizes the level of pain and the impact on one's life. I of course can't diagnose anyone, especially from afar, but I tend to believe someone who claims long-term facial pain issues that devolve from a dental procedure. I just don't believe opioids are usually the answer. Sometimes anti-seizure meds don't work and neither do any of the surgical or radiation-based stereotactical (halo screwed onto the skull so that your brain can be zapped) treatments don't either. Those people sometimes land on opioids so that they don't care as much although the pain is still there. Suicides were common among the FB group of TN sufferers, although not as common as they used to be. So far, I'm doing great and I know of someone who died 25+ after her MVD with it still working fine. That's my goal, too.

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. Thank you for explaining the trigeminal neuralgia. I do believe Ms. Social Worker mentioned something similar a long time ago and I didn't pay that much attention because---well, at the time I thought she was milking the pain from a dental procedure that happened so long ago, it couldn't still be real. Her daughter is going with her to a neurosurgeon this week. I haven't asked her but I'm wondering why Botox in the nerve doesn't help conditions like this. After my husband's stroke he got a serious of three to kill a nerve that was causing him pain. It's what Botox was originally developed for, not for beauty treatments.

      Delete
  5. Oh, and I wanted to say how happy you must be to have gotten that hand surgery behind you and already starting recovery.

    ReplyDelete
  6. Glad the surgery went well. I hope the woman who kept falling gets the help she needs. Sounds sad.
    I am glad there are caring, helping groups where you live.

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. I'm glad I had occasion to show the niceness that comes with living so close together in a place like this. As writers we all tend to pick out the more colorful or interesting or off beat people to describe and that can mislead readers into thinking there aren't the normal and average souls around. It's that kind of a sad statement that I'm making that kindness is seen as boring or not entertaining enough to take a deep dive into for the purpose of writing a blog post.

      Delete
  7. I cannot believe that poor woman was left on opioids for that long. That is a travesty.

    I like the level of outreach in your community. That's excellent, and it's what good neighbors are all about. And it sounds like your recovery is proceeding remarkably. I'm glad!

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. The outreach comes from the heavy influence of the church in West Michigan. It also helps that because most of us moved in at the same time, being a new building, we have a sense of camaraderie, of being one big family that I suspect isn't the norm in CCCs.

      Delete
  8. Glad you are feeling good enough for two hand typing. Keep healing so nicely.
    I am stunned that a doctor is still prescribing pain meds to Ms Social Worker. So sad that this does go on. Hope she can get some help getting off them but it sounds like that is the last thing she wants.
    Very impressed with the Circle of Grace. What a comfort to know there are souls out there willing to do what they can to help.

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. She's new to our state and she got one of these new concierge style doctors who just went along with what her out-of-state doctor was giving her. I talked to her son and he said he and his sister are going to keep on top of her medical issues from now on. So far I'm not thinking too much of the concierge style doctors. They cost a lot of money in monthly fees but he didn't react fast enough in my opinion to falls. After the second trip to ER he should have been on her case and not let her fall so many times to keep her in the hospital. She's damn lucky she didn't break any bones.

      Delete
  9. Opioids scare me for reasons such as you described in this post. So easy to get addicted to them! One of the only times I was given them was through a pain pump after my hysterectomy. They made me so violently ill, I made them take the pain pump away and refused to take the tablet form that was offered instead. I’d rather have the pain. At that time I didn’t know about the potential of addiction but I’ve read Dopesick (better than the miniseries although it was good too), and what has happened to so many people thanks to Big Pharma is criminal. They really took advantage of people’s trust in medicine and prescribed drugs and I think that has contributed to peoples’ mistrust in things that would really help them (like vaccination) today.
    I’m glad to read that people in the complex are so very good at taking care of each other. A really nice community you have there!

    Deb

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. It really is criminal what big pharma has done and at some point they knew it and didn't care because they could sell the drugs to help people get off the opioids. Too many people's lives got ruined including in my own family because of pain killers that were legally obtained.

      Delete
  10. Ms. Social Worker's comment about "I like taking it." sounds like my ex-husband in California right now. He had hip replacement surgery at the end of August but had been taking an opioid pain reliever for some time prior to deal with the pain. My daughter went out to see him for his birthday the first week in August and she and her brother were concerned with his opioid use and the fact that he continued to enjoy drinking alcohol on top of it. Yikes. (He does have a wife, but she likes to drink also.) He, too, said he likes the way the drug makes him feel. Ugh. Some people's brains are wired to enjoy opioids, and with other people (like me) it makes them feel awful.

    Since my second husband was a dentist, we used to have people calling after office hours all the time looking for a drug prescription. The usual excuse was they had a root canal done and "the dentist who did it is out of town." Baloney. All offices have an emergency backup you can call if, indeed, they aren't available. People would get really angry when my husband told them he didn't prescribe any opiates, which was true.

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. Some people's brains are wired to get hooked easier than others, I think. It's really sad and on some level it's easy to blame the person's who can't seem to leave it alone even knowing the physical addiction takes over at some point. I had to take my husband to a pain clinic for Botox treatments for arm pain after his stroke and they had an armed guard and signs all over the place warning people they didn't stock opioids in the office. And signs about after hours pain control rules. I don't think I'd want to be that kind of doctor to deal with desperate people. Although I'll bet a few of them purposely kept their patients hooked.

      Delete
    2. Above comment was written by me, Jean. Darn Bloggers.

      Delete
  11. I love your Circle of Grace. I agree that W. Michigan has a lot of caring people and I see those Meal Trains and other like items online regularly. I am on a community FB page in my area, and I've seen people rally after all kinds of crises -- from gathering clothes and household items after a fire to meal trains to anonymous groups helping people leave abusive situations, etc. It's really heartening, and although the proselytizing doesn't appeal to me, the charitable side of the churchy folks does. :-) Nice to see it translates into your CCC. (Oh, and yikes on the opiod pills. That woman's daughter has her work cut out for her with her mother.)

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. I follow a community FB page too and see what you see. I also see my share of paranoid people who panic over the stupidest stuff like "a guy with a beard was walking down my street" or "someone in a black car was parked on street this afternoon" "...should I call the police?"

      Delete
  12. Wow, you are healing quickly. Did the chef cut up your food?

    We have a lot of ambulances here at our NORC (naturally occurring retirement complex). At least twice a week. And many here who will not go by ambulance due to cost. One friend drove himself to the ER with a heart attack! At 1am.

    It's sad about addiction at any age.



    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. We had a guy do the same thing when he thought he was having a heart attack. Not smart. Here in my county have an ambulance plan where you pay $50 a year and get unlimited ride in an ambulance. It's a huge company/. I've only used it once for my husband but I'll keep paying my fee and hope I never need it.

      Yup, the first night the chef cut my meat. After that I ordered stuff that didn't need cutting.

      Delete
    2. Above anonymous comment written by me Jean.

      Delete
  13. Even without the religious aspect, there are bound to be similar things to Circles of Grace in any structured community because you all moved into one for the proximity to help, and there are bound to be people who are willing to do a little extra (and of course some who feel entitled to more than their share.)
    Did the chef cut up your food for you???
    Can you post your favorite 'past' post as an extra? Or mention which one it was? I've read several, but your fave has to be a good one!

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. I don't know how good it is but it's on a topic I like to think about from time to time called Defining Moments. You can find it by clicking the tab at the top titled 'memories' and when the next page opens up it's 10 or 11 links down on this list. Defining Moments is a good topic to use for a writing prompt, I think, because we've all had them.

      I do think you're right about people doing kind things for one another being universal and the chef did cut my meat the first night when I requested it.

      Delete
  14. Me and eye surgery would not go well, people find it difficult to put eye drops in my eyes. We often see the ambos here in these townhouses. as there are a number of older people living here

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. I've finally found a way of doing eye drops that works for me. I do it laying down in bed and put the eye dropper on the inside corner of my eye and the liquid tracks were it's suppose to.

      Delete
  15. You've been shown the love of the circle of grace. That's cool-- and suggests you've found the right place to live. Hope you heal quickly, thereby needing less from the circle of grace.

    ReplyDelete
  16. I was happy to see that you're typing with both hands now. I suspect complete healing won't take as long as you might have imagined.

    Sometimes, drugs can cause falling in a different way. Years ago, my mother's neighbors got in touch with the family and suggested that my mom needed to find a different living arrangment because she was constantly falling -- sometimes in the yard. Eventually, we got her to her sister's place in Kansas City, and to a different doc. As it turned out, she'd been seeing a physician who kept prescribing this med and that, but never took her off anything. She was on twenty-five medications; it's a wonder she could function at all. Her new doc weaned her away from them until she was on only two, and all of her problems, both mental and physical, faded away.

    When she died years later, and we went back to ye olde hometown for the burial, I talked to one of those neighbors. It turns out that Mom's old doctor was in the slammer, prosecuted and convicted of medical malpractice. No kidding.

    ReplyDelete
  17. My elderly mom took two vicodin a day . One in the morning and one at bedtime. She suffered with severe arthritis. her doctor always refilled her meds stating that if the elderly need relief that is partly what the drug was designed for. I'm glad she had it for the pain. She seldom fell while on this drug. She did fall twice but had life alert and got help very quickly. I don't think it was the drug that caused her two falls. I think it was just clumsiness. I am older now ( 68) and I am clumsier than I was when younger. Sherry

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. Pain drugs do have their valid uses. When my dad was told he had cancer and he choose not to get any cancer treatments he did make the doctor promise him at the end he wouldn't suffer from pain. We all knew that meant an overdose of drugs---my brother, me, the doctor and dad--- and the doctor kept his word. Once the pain started he only lasted a day but before that he had seven months of quality life.

      Delete
    2. Somewhat ironically, my own mother hadn't been prescribed any pain medications. It was the combination of drugs that caused the problems.

      Delete
    3. With computers to cross check everything now days I think drug interactions are happening less and less often. When your mom was on 25 different drugs it no wonder she started having problems.

      Delete
  18. Congratulations, Jean, on having healed enough from your surgery to be typing again.

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. I was worried about that. About the only thing I can't do yet feel secure picking up a heavy glass of water and putting pressure on the stitches on the palm of my hand.

      Delete
  19. Wow. That would explain Ms. Social Worker's troubles for sure! Hope she is able to ween off her meds. Opioid addiction amongst older folks is an under-reported reality.

    ReplyDelete
  20. I really think that's at least 75% of her issues, that and she's addicted to ambien and kicking up a fuse about them taking that away from her.

    ReplyDelete

Thanks for taking the time to comment. If you are using ANONYMOUS please identify yourself by your first name as you might not be the only one. Comments containing links from spammers will not be published. All comments are moderated which means I might not see yours right away to publish through for public viewing as I don't sit at my computer 24/7.