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. Stick around, read a while. I'm sure we'll have things in common. Your comments are welcome and encouraged. Jean

Wednesday, April 24, 2024

Techie Nightmare Week

I've been using WPS office to write posts which has been a free program for as long as I've had my computer. But they've been leaning on me lately to upgrade to their paid edition for $9.99 a month. That doesn't sound like much, given how much I write every day but as an 'enticement' they've added Artificial Intelligence to my documents and I absolutely hate it! It finds so many things that IT thinks I need to change that it's distracting. For example, when I capitalized Artificial Intelligence it suggested that I don't need to do that. When I wrote a sentence using "I'm" and "you're" AI told me the proper way to write those in a business letter is: "I am" and "you are". If AI was so smart they'd know I'm not writing a business letter, for crying out loud. In this short paragraph WPS has underlined 19 things in three different colors! When you click on an underlined word a drop down box covers up half my document to try to prove it’s smarter than me.

Once I clicked on an ‘accept all’ button thinking I was accepting all their suggested changes but it took me to a place to order the upgrade and it wouldn’t let me close that window or back out. Even using the ctrl+alt+delete trick didn’t work to get me out of that screen. I had to turn off my computer which we all know isn’t a good thing to do. Bottom line: When I get more time I have to replace WPS because I don’t like their strong-arm tactics. I’ve tried my Microsoft built-in WordPad but that doesn’t have spell check unless I download TinySpell. I research the stuffings out of anything that requires a download because I’m so afraid of making a mistake that I can’t fix. I might just end up using my tax refund to buy a new computer so I can upgrade to Windows 11 and a good word processing program. I’ll have to do it eventually when they quit supporting Windows 10 which is coming October 14, 2025.

This isn’t the only techie related problem I’ve had this week. I was on Facebook, reading posts from the various Mahjong and animal sites I visit daily when I clicked on one that opened up with scary bells ringing and flashing lights telling me not to turn the computer off and to call a number on the screen for help because my computer was supposedly locked and under attack by someone trying to steal my files. Again, the clrl+alt+delete trick didn’t work but I wasn’t born under a turnip truck so I got my Kindle out and googled the phone number on my computer screen. Not surprising it belonged to  a known scammer. So I turned off my computer, let it reboot, did all the security scans for Trojans, viruses, etc. Nothing turned up but what a waste of time that no doubt shot my blood pressure up. I love my computer but stuff like this will be the death of me. Someday they’ll find me slumped over my computer screen and my obituary will say, “Cause of death a false scam alert while using Facebook.”

What’s the saying? All frustrating techie things happen in threes. No? Well, close enough. Also this week my maintenance guy swapped out my dumb TV for my brother’s Roku TV which is a streaming thing I inherited when I helped my nieces clean out my brother’s room down in Memory Care. I wanted it so that I can watch Netflix and Amazon Prime in the living room where I can multitask instead of me having to go to the bedroom to see movies and binge-watch too late into the night. I'm hoping the change will result in a better quality of sleep.

My brother never learned to used a computer and couldn’t manage getting around that Roku TV so he pretty much watched the same, cowboy channel all the time. But even doing that, he’d screw up the settings so often that one of the maintenance guys made it a habit to stop in my brothers room at the end of every shift to get his TV back to TV Land. Fast forward to my hook up appointment happening this week and I assured the maintenance guy that I wouldn’t have the same issues my brother did, that I was pretty computer literate. Still, there is a learning curve and after he hooked up the cable, the WiFi, Netflix and Amazon Prime I was a happy camper. 

That is I was happy until I turned the TV off and back on again later on and I couldn’t find the stupid cable channels. So, I downloaded the TV’s manual onto my Kindle and spent several hours determined I could figure it out without having to embarrass myself with a call back to maintenance. Finally, I gave up, shot an email to the guy and not more than five minutes latter I discovered my problem. My mistake was so Micky Mouse I hate to even admit it here. But I will...when I'd see the list of channels open up I thought it was at the top of the list and I’d scroll down looking through all the Roku channels, but what I was missing is that I could scroll up as well! And that’s where they were---a nice, tidy list of my 88 cable channels---above the list of Roku channels. When my stress level can handle it, I’m going to learn how to build a ‘favorite’ list but for now I only have to wade through 88 cable channels to find the five I generally watch. (You can't just punch in a channel number on a Roku remote. It doesn't even have numbers.)

Until Next Wednesday!


Wednesday, April 17, 2024

Binge Eating, Funerals and Continuum Care Living

It’s Sunday and my birthday and I’m hiding out from the public places so I don’t have to listen to ten verses of ‘happy birthday’. It's one of those love/hate things you get when you live on a continuum care campus.

Do you know what I like best about Sundays? It’s the only day of the week I can be 100% sure I can stay in my nightgown all day long and not be caught by the fashion police or worse, the health care police who automatically think if a older person doesn’t get dressed they are depressed or giving up. Not that I have to worry about the Health Care Police anytime soon, but I know for a fact that if I end up moving on down the road to Assisted Living or Memory Care I will have to fight the aids to stay in my jammies. They have a job to do and by god old people need to dress for breakfast! And that breakfast is served at 8:00 in the morning. I might be out of bed before the clock strikes eight but that doesn’t mean I want to be social at that hour or have someone helping me change my nickers before my head is in the game.

One of my neighbors gets up at 4:00 and loves to watch the sun come up while is wife sleeps in until 7:00. More that few of my neighbors get up at 6:00 or 7:00 and are out walking and taking the cool, morning air into their lungs. From what I can see of the health nuts those daily walks don't protect them from moving on down the line. A couple who lived on the floor above me spent their entire adult lives walking every day and watching their weight like hawks, just recently got moved---him to assisted living because he got a diagnosis of ALS and he could no longer care for his wife who was moved into the Memory Care building. They both seem to be adjusting well. He has a motorized wheelchair now and is just a court yard away from visiting his wife. And it’s two short blocks for him to come back to the independent living building which he’s been doing to play bridge and attend a couple of lectures. (Won’t work in the winter, but for now it’s making him happy.) He says their care is excellent down there and he looks like the weight of the world is off his shoulders. Herding his wife around to keep her safe was taking a toll on him that few people fully appreciated. But I've been there done and many of my readers have too.

The wife of another couple just moved into the assisted living building, too but I heard she resisted going and they had a huge fight over it, but their kids sided with him and off she went. She lost her leg a year ago and he, too, looks like a changed man now that he'd no longer responsible for her care.

The cross-over aspect of living in a continuum care facility gives you a sense of comfort knowing if and when you do go on down the line we wouldn’t be thrown in with a bunch of strangers. In the two years I’ve lived here, five people got moved to a higher level of care (aka “got moved on down the line”) and five people have died. I didn’t go to any of the funerals although I was tempted to go to one of them. When I moved in I made a rule that I didn’t want to be one of those stereotypical, old people who goes to all the funerals in town, like they are social events. If that makes me a cold-hearted bitch I guess that’s what I am. I have, however, started buying sympathy cards by the box, instead of individually.

Despite my current, no funerals rule I never looked for excuses not to go to funerals during my lifetime. For the most part I find them interesting, almost heart-warming to know how family and friends will carry their memories forward. And I always learn something about the deceased as people share stories from parts of their lives I didn’t have privy to. It reaffirms the fact that we don’t always know how we might have touched or influenced someone else as we go through our lives.

In my lifetime, however, I’ve been to a couple of funerals where I wondered if I was in the right place because the service didn’t reflect the person I knew. Last year I wrote about an old neighbor at our cottage who was the closest thing I had to a grandfather and 7-8 people walked out of his funeral in a silent protest as a preacher went on and on about how the deceased was going to burn up in hell because he didn’t accept Jesus as his Savior. This man and his wife were pillars of kindness but they hadn’t been allowed to know their own grandchildren because they wouldn’t get baptized in their daughter’s church. <rant on!> It's scary that our current political climate is made up of too many people like that daughter whose intolerance is leading us into creating a monotheocracy that would rival Gilead in The Handmaids Tale. <rant off>

Change of topic: Since my surgery I’ve been on a real eating binge and I couldn’t figure out where it was coming from. The day after the surgery I could zip up my black jeans after weeks of dieting and the four day fasting for the colonoscopy. If nothing else, I’m good at self-sabotage and I'm currently eating my way back up the scales and out of those jeans. 

And now it hits me why I’ve been indulging in comfort foods again! After my mom died I wasn’t eating, I was severely depressed. One day I found myself amazed to realize I’d lost two sizes but that happiness quickly turned to deep, gut-wrenching guilt as it dawned on me that the weight loss was a by-product of my mom's death and it was nothing to celebrate. Fast forward to when my dad and my husband died and I subconsciously started binge eating---I think---so I wouldn’t have live with any guilt if I had lost weight after they left me. 

I need to get back into healthy eating mode again but I won’t seriously tackle the issue until after my brother’s service which is a little over a week away. I should rename this blog The Misadventures of a Fat Lady. ©

 Until next Wednesday. 


Wednesday, April 10, 2024

Profiles and Secrets

It’s one of those do or die days where I have to sit here at the computer until something falls out of my brain that’s halfway worthy of writing down. I not only have a blog post to write for next week but I also have a piece to write for my creative writing group. I’d truly like to quit the writing group but it’s not big enough to survive without me and the others in the group seem to get a lot out of our band of merry scribes. When I first started the group I thought I could kill two birds with one stone---look at me using that tired, old metaphor---and write essays that could serve double duty, but that didn’t work out. No one here knows I keep a blog and since people living on my continuum care campus are often the subject of my blog posts I want to keep it that way. The bottom line is I can’t read my posts here in my writing group. And I seem to be fresh out of poems, after writing twelve about my campus.

A few days ago I was asked to write a profile for our campus newsletter. It’s a by-monthly publication short on content but it’s put together by two retired graphic artists turned college professors. What it lacks in quantity it makes up for in quality. It’s a full color newsletter printed on slick, shiny paper and is full of lots of photos. It also features two profiles of residents and each profile is written by the person being featured. “So it will be your voice, sharing what others might not know about you,” I was told. What a daunting task for someone who keeps so many secrets from my neighbors! In the past, the newsletter has printed three of the above mentioned poems. Submitted by invitation and they were well received if you can judge such things by the comments others made after they were printed. But a profile? I wrote and submitted it before I could chicken out because it’s so different than any of the other profiles printed in the past. Most people, for example, have listed where they went to college, their job titles, the number of children and grandchildren or their travel experiences, places they've lived, etc. etc.

Here is what I wrote and you might recognized a few lines borrowed from the top of this blog: 

“When I was asked to write a profile for Insight in 200 words or less my first thought was how can I do that without sounding like I’m writing a profile for a dating app? “Woman, widow, senior citizen seeking to live out my days with a sense of whimsy as I search for inner peace.” Yup, that sums up where I’m at in life right now, having lost my soul mate of 42 years a few years back. Life was good until it wasn’t when my husband had a massive stroke that left him right side paralyzed and with no verbal or written means of communication for the next 12 1/2 years and I transitioned into being his caregiver extraordinaire. For every Yin in life there is a Yang and my Yang came in the form of me becoming a mentor, a chat room host and an administrator on a large website in the stroke community, eventually taking a seat on the Board of Directors. I’m no longer active or associated there, but I still spend my mornings living in cyber space.

“Along with the invitation to write a profile came a list of questions and one was about hobbies and collections. It’s safe to say that I’ve tried every craft and hobby that’s crossed my path, with creative writing staying on the list the longest and Mahjong being the newest hobby added. My most unusual collection? A large jar full of every single watch I’ve ever owned including a sundial watch that only works on sunny days." ©

What do you think? Did I manage to write a profile that still left my secrets intact? The biggest secret of all is my online life in the blog community followed up by the fact that while my husband and I were soul mates for 42 years we didn’t get married until after his stroke. I know from a book club discussion that few people here in the land of long marriages would understand why we didn’t get married sooner rather than later. And the explanation is too complicated and would reveal too many personal facts that I’m not willing to put into the gossip mill around here. Even my path to getting a college degree was not in a straight line and just listing the place where I got it doesn’t begin to express how proud I was to finally get the degree 25 years after I started working on it. 

Well, I managed to knock out a blog post, Now I have to work on April’s writing prompt for my writing group’s meet-up on Thursday. It’s a tough one: “Until that moment, she hadn’t realized the past can change.” Each month we plan to draw a prompt out of an envelope based on the Ten Word Stories we wrote in January. Our first writing prompt bought some great results---all vastly different. This one is frying my brain. Wish me luck!

Until next Wednesday.  ©

Wednesday, April 3, 2024

Bottoms Up and Binging on Netflix

When four days of your life are taken up by one over-whelming theme a blogger feels compelled to write about it even though she or he may not want to because---well, because it’s a gross topic and I for one live in a time and place where grossness is usually left to under-aged boys and men who are having a hard time growing up aka they still love a good story involving poop. For me it started on a Friday night at 7:00 when I wasn’t allowed to eat anything but jello and that fasting lasted until Monday at 4:30 when I could finally have food again. During the fasting---if you haven’t guessed by now---I had to consume four Suprep treatments for a colonoscopy and EGD that were performed on the same surgical table at the same time. 

Why did I get so lucky as to have drink four Suprep solutions over three days followed up with 32 oz of water after each bottle instead of the normal prescription of two bottles of Suprep in one day? Because I’ve had IBS (irritable bowel syndrome) off and on since my 40s as a result of drinking a glass of raw cows milk and not seeking treatment for the diarrhea that followed for several months. Turned out the raw milk had some kind of parasite in it that got killed with medication but I was left with IBS that comes and goes---sometimes for years at a time---but if you’re prone to get impacted bowels my gastroenterologist's protocol is the prolonged fast and longer poop fest. I didn’t cheat. I didn’t eat and I drank every ounce of Suprep and water and I barely left the bathroom. I’d think it was safe and I’d make it across the bedroom to the door leading to the kitchen and have to turn right back around. When I wasn’t in the bathroom doing business I was doing laundry and cleaning in the bathroom. I lost track of how many half showers I took---and you can guess which half got showered. Even when I got back home after surgery was over I was washing the clothes I wore to the hospital because my youngest niece, who took me to my procedure, insisted. I wore Crocs cross trainers to the hospital and even they got thoroughly decontaminated as did my Crocs bedroom slippers. I’ve never asked but I’m guessing my niece is a bit of my germaphobic like me. 

So what did my surgeon find and what was she looking for? She found my tracks from mouth to rectum are free of cancer, polyps or anything else out of the norm. She also didn’t find anything like a small bleeder that would explain why I’ve been anemic for the past three years and why my right leg swells up from time to time. This was the latest and final test I’ve been through since last July 4th where they’ve been trying to figure out both of these anomaly's. They started with a ultrasound on my leg to rule out a blood clot. Next was the EKG and ultra sound on heart and lungs followed by scans of my kidneys, bladder and lady parts (the inside edition ultra sound and many of us know how much fun that test is). And did I mention I’ve lost track of the blood draws I’d had? 

The two weeks leading up the surgery I’ve been binge watching a (bad) Netflix series called The Resident. The show has a resident, Conrad Hawkins, who is supposed to be the best diagnostic practitioner to come along since the vaccine for Polio was developed. He can just talk to a patient and often figure out what obscure thing caused the symptoms, that brought him or her into the ER, then they run the tests to prove him right. He’s always right, of course, and where is my Doctor Hawkins when I need a diagnosis? My real doctors ran out of tests to do. 

But I think I figured my leg swelling issue out on my own just from watching The Resident. A patient on the show had some crushed vertebraes in his back---the same ones I do---and it was causing problems with his legs. And that reminded me that my bone doctor mentioned that those verebraes effect my legs and that maintaining a good posture when sitting was important. It was the reason I bought myself an expensive desk chair five years ago. The dark side of my brain needs to bill the other side of my brain for that diagnosis. A couple of the doctors on that Netflix series say that corporate medicine is all about the up-coding and billing.

The show was advertised as a cross between House and Gray's Anatomy but I should have read a few reviews before investing so much time in The Resident. Phrases like the  “doctors don’t always practice good medicine” and "the stories features terrible people playing God…” might have put me off from watching it. My opinion? If half the stuff the series shows is true-to-life happenings in hospitals we’d never go inside one and I have to believe a lot of the story-lines were taken from medical lawsuits. It's just that so many things are condensed into a short time frame when you binge that it looks worse than it is. But I kept on watching because I’ve decided watching the worst stuff that could happen during a surgery was akin to me watching and reading so many apocalyptic dramas during the pandemic. It gives me a strange kind of comfort to go deep into the darkness when I'm about to experience something scary. I can prepare for the 'worst' and be happy when it doesn't come.

If you’re still reading this “cheery” little post I owe you a gold star for sticking with it. I do apologize. Truly, between this medical event and my brother’s passing I’ve done nothing else to write about. Nothing I wanted to write about. But that changes in a few minutes when I’m going to an opening day viewing party for the Tiger’s Baseball season. 

On another cheery note, I bought  myself a gift for not having a bleeder inside me to fix and recover from…a Mahjong mat to go with my new mahjong set. Have I mentioned lately how much I love that game? Buying myself a frivolous gift for coming through a dark patch in life is a long-time tradition in my life. Or as one of my blogging friends, Dawn, might say, "A little retail therapy is good for the whatever ails you."

Until Next Wednesday?