Thursday, September 25, 2014

Yesterday's great molasses flood

The word for the day yesterday was "resistance".

I could feel it from the moment I woke up.  Monday and Tuesday this week I managed to get up early enough to be able to have breakfast, meditate, and ride the exercise bike before I signed on to work.  Today, I crawled out of bed with just enough time to grab my breakfast shake before I signed on.

I was logy the whole day. My mind fought meditation mightily. My body tried to refuse exercise. I had to force myself to sit down and work. Even play was something I struggled with today.

I had two calls I had to make, both of which were critical, and I had to bribe myself to get them done.

I was impatient and surly. Days like yesterday make me glad I'm not in the physical presence of my co-workers - nobody needs to deal with me in that state.

The whole day was like wading through molasses.

I know that days like this happen - they're just part of the great sine wave of life.

But damn, are they unpleasant when they do roll around.

Hoping for a better face on things today.

Sunday, September 21, 2014

Driving down the razor's edge between the past and the future

Edging up to four months without Jay, I'm coming to realize that every turning of a new month will be a reminder of my path away from our life together. I wonder how long that will last, or if it will last forever.

This has been an excruciating week for me, a week of exquisite and nearly unending pain. The difficulty I was having related to waiting for my medical test results didn't help. I think I'm in more emotional pain now than I was right after Jay died.

I keep waking up each morning to the realization that whatever I do with my life from this moment on, I do it without him. I do it only with the memory of him. That emptiness threatens to suck me in every single day.

Part of the problem is that the time in the clinical trial has nearly overwritten my memories of the good times. And god, did we have good times. But the pain and fear of the trial and of watching Jay slide inexorably toward death is, right now at least, carved more strongly on my heart.

This is one of the reasons for my continued passes through his blog. I want to see who he was before I knew him. I want to see what he said about all our good times. I re-read our early emails for the same reason - to be reminded of the strength of our love and the power of the joy we had in each other.

He was an incredible gift to me, and I don't want to squander that gift.

But I am plodding right now, barely putting one foot in front of the other.

Thursday, September 18, 2014

Miscellaneous updatery

A few things make a post:

  • I finally got a new spice rack. It seems like such a silly thing, but it makes me very happy. The one I used to have was too tall for any of the spaces in the kitchen, and the only place it could be easily hung was on the wall over the trash can, which really didn't appeal. That's one of the downsides to having a tile backsplash.
  • I also finally sorted through Jay's flatware and figured out which bits I wanted, and gave the rest to Mother of the Child. This makes my fork story even sillier: when my ex moved out, I had a full set of 8 settings each of flatware, but I kept running out of forks. So I went to Target and bought another set of 8. Now I've added Jay's how-many-ever-there-were, and I have too many forks to fit in my divider. Mother of the Child says I need to have a dinner party with all those forks.
  • The brag shelf is finally in some semblance of order after the furniture moving in the dining room. It's a mixture of Jay's stuff and mine, including the electronic picture frame, to which I've added a bunch of pics.
  • I accidentally found the circuit breakers for the house when I took down a large chalk drawing in the upstairs hall to replace it with a Buddhist print. That was a surprise. I keep hoping that's not really the breaker box; what an awkward place to put it.

Wednesday, September 17, 2014

Cool stuff at OHSU

Because I'm me, and my appointment on Monday was up the hill, and because I'm constitutionally incapable of finding my way up and back down the hill by car, I parked at the Waterfront clinic and took the tram up to the hospital.

For anyone who's thinking about visiting Portland, if you come during clear weather season, you can get a spectacular view of the city and the river from the tram.  If you come in rainy weather, you get a lovely view, but somewhat more limited.

Of course, because I'm me, I didn't take pictures of the view.  The tram swings at one point during its trip and I have to focus very carefully on the floor not to let my vertigo get the better of me.

Instead, I took some shots when I got back down to the Waterfront end of things.

I was originally drawn by these shapes:
which turned out to be one end of this:

Then I looked to the right, and saw the main attraction:

This said "Dr." at the beginning of the name; I just missed the shot

The area where the ship-thing is is where the windows in the oncology clinic waiting room look over. I've spent many an hour sitting there, looking at the warehouse (which you can see a tiny bit of in the first shot, on the left side of the shot). But never in all that time was there actually something sitting on the asphalt. Until today, I never knew what that warehouse was.

So, that was a cool thing on an otherwise not-so-cool day.

A few more shots at the Flickr set.

Tuesday, September 16, 2014

Fun at the doctor's

So, I had a thyroid nodule biopsy yesterday.  That was a lot of fun. (Please sense deep sarcasm here.)

I'm going to post this pic of the aftermath,  me with an enormous ice pack stuck to my neck, to keep you from the gory details if you don't want to. Seriously, bail out at the pic if you're squeamish. I'm not quite as bad as Jay was for medical TMI, but there is some ick below the pic.

Right now, I'm just left with an achy neck and a lovely bruise and a wish not to do that again anytime soon.

I have no idea how long the results will take - I was so foggy from low blood sugar and discomfort that I forgot to ask. I can always ping my primary care doctor and see what he says if I don't hear soon.

And on top of this, I'm also having to wait for my mammogram results until they can compare the current scan with my previous scans, all of which were done in Maryland. Imagine my mood right now.

The patient, post-procedure, 
about to eat lunch in the hospital cafeteria


This was an ultrasound-guided biopsy. The last biopsy I had, seven years ago or so, there was no ultrasound. I'm not sure which was worse.

First, I got the smurf treatment - that nasty blue surgical soap - all over my neck. I left with most of it still on me. That was attractive.

Then, I got a lidocaine shot. That hurt like a bitch, and the sensation it left was profoundly unpleasant.

Remember that last phrase - it will become a theme.

Then the doctor inserted the first biopsy needle. It was fine until she started wiggling it around to grab cells. Then the whole profoundly unpleasant thing started again.

Then she did it again with a second needle. And again with a third.

Then I asked for more lidocaine, since that third needle hurt rather than just being unpleasant. The lidocaine wasn't nearly so bad the second time.

There was the fun of 5 needles all together, all of them profoundly unpleasant. It wasn't painful, just weird, the kind of sensation you never want to feel from your body.

One thing I found both mildly amusing and mildly annoying was the skepticism with which my claim of being able to feel the nodule was met. I've been feeling it push against a neck tendon for a month or so now. How else would I have known it had flared up? The doctor was skeptical because of the nodule's small size. And it wasn't until she started digging around and saw how I was reacting that she was willing to admit that I might have been able to feel it.

Monday, September 15, 2014

Taking a little side trip

I had a marvelous brunch with my friend Debra yesterday. She's the kind of friend that you can spend hours with and not notice the time passing. As we did, for two hours.

Afterwards, I had put on my calendar to go take pics of trains and trucks from the bridge on SE Holgate just east of 17th Ave. But as I drove away from dropping Debra off, I completely forgot and headed off in the wrong direction.  I took the long way around to get back to where I wanted to be, and parked and walked across 17th to get to the bridge.

Here are some random shots:

What is a bobtail, and why does it need a special exit?


Freight train moving along

More at the Flickr set.

Thursday, September 11, 2014

The closing walls and the ticking clocks

I unpacked my last box today.

With the arrival of my old sideboard into my dining room, I finally have the space to unpack that box so I can now figure out what combination of Jay's kitchen stuff and mine I'm going to keep.

But that got me thinking about being finally moved in, and how odd my history here has been.

I moved to Portland at the beginning of October 2012. At the time, I was staying at Jay's house, with only what I had brought in the car with me. The plan was that I would stay with him until Nancy & I found a house to rent together.

The process of finding a house took longer than we anticipated, and it wasn't until January 2013 that the POD with all my stuff from Baltimore finally got unloaded into the rental house in South Tabor.

But by that time the necessities of caregiving and the growing bond Jay & I had had complicated the living situation. Even though most of my stuff was in the rental house, I was still living essentially full time in Jay's house. I lived out of a suitcase for a long time, long after Jay had offered me closet and drawer space in his bedroom.  I finally gave in - don't ask me what took me so long, I have no idea - and unpacked my suitcase into the closet and drawer.

I generally only spent time at the rental house when Jay was out of town or when he had intimate houseguests.

Neither place really felt like home. My stuff was one place, my heart another, and neither was really home. I am a nester, and that made things difficult because the place where I was most wasn't really mine and the place I could have made comfortably mine I rarely was.

We lived in this condition until sometime in the fall of 2013, when Jay officially asked me to move in with him. At the time, I think my plan was to keep the rental house and just move the stuff I needed into Jay's house. This morphed over time into Emily helping me discard stuff and pack up the rest during one break from the clinical trial ordeal, and then my dear friends moving my stuff into Jay's house while we were in Maryland in March or April 2014.

The hope was that we would come home from Maryland in April and that Jay would be well enough that we could together integrate me into what would then be our home.  Obviously, that never occurred.

So now I'm all moved in to what is now just the house I'm renting and also the place where Jay's life ended and his stuff still remains.

I'm left starting my life over in the ashes of his life. I'm essentially curating the rest of his life in this place I'm trying to make my home. It's tough and only occasionally rewarding. I often wonder if I've made a mistake staying in this house. But some of that doubt is just exhaustion from this, my third restart of my life since 2011.

Wednesday, September 10, 2014

Down a winding garden path

One of the things I've been dealing with since Jay's death is my issues around food.

If I really want to keep my addiction recovery program going strong, I need to cook more. If I want to keep my budget in good shape, I need to cook more. Are we sensing a theme?

And yet, I've been finding myself really disinterested in cooking. Mostly because I can't find things that I want to eat that I can cook.

I found what I hope will be the solution while reading Jay's blog.

Stay with me here - there's a connection, I promise.

I'm in the process of making my third pass through Jay's LJ. The first time, I read through his posts since we met; the second time, I read each day's posts from the beginning of his LJ. This time I am reading each individual post as well as all the comments.

Somewhere as I was reading through his March 2008 posts, it occurred to me to wonder what *I* had been blogging about at the same time. So I wandered over to my now defunct and locked-down original blog and took a look. (That was a fascinating exercise all on its own.)

One of the things I discovered was that for a while in 2008, I posted weekly menus. I was trying to get a handle on what I was eating and trying to learn how to do menu planning, so just like I post my daily trackers now, I was posting weekly menus and talking a little bit about how the previous week went.

Being the good indexer that I am, I even tagged all those posts as "menus".

And there was the answer to my "what the hell am I going to cook" dilemma - I printed out all those menus posts, and marked them up.  I'm going to compile a list of meals and probably keep them in Evernote, since everything in my universe is tucked away in Evernote. That will help me plan my week's food better, and get me back into the habit of going grocery shopping every weekend and spending time cooking ahead. (I don't think I'll ever completely break my habit of eating planned leftovers.)

So to celebrate this momentous occasion, and since so many of the things I used to make were based on things from Trader Joe's, I went and bought a whole bunch of TJ's food. My freezer is now nearly full, which is such a good feeling.

Tuesday, September 9, 2014

To see from where I am there is nothing more than this

I'm realizing I'm not posting much these days, other than those pesky tracker posts.

Mostly that's because at the moment, nothing much is going on, nothing is changing.

I'm in a downward sweep of grief, crying a lot, being in pain a lot, going about my day every day because there's nothing else to be done. But feeling empty and lonely and unbearably sad.

The arrival on my doorstep today of Jay's final book hasn't helped any, but it didn't make things any worse, either.

I'm rolling in a sea of grief, waves crashing against me and pushing me up against the rocks. Over and over and over again.

So far, I'm keeping my head above the waves, not drowning, but sometimes my tears threaten to drown me, to sweep me so far out to sea I'll never find my way back.

I have no doubt there will be an upswing at some point, but not today.

Monday, September 1, 2014

Now my mind must go on holiday, torn from its hook, a broken valentine

Three months on

Here we are, three months after Jay's death.

The past week brought a lot of changes and subtle movement in what I hope is a positive direction.

I quit therapy.  I had a month off from it between my schedule and my therapist's vacation, and when I started thinking about going back, I started getting anxious. So I thought about that for a little while, then said to myself: what if I quit? Then I thought about that for a little while, and decided it was the right thing to do.

That decision propelled me into a couple of other movements forward.

I'm doing the Artist's Way again, mostly focusing on doing morning pages. I've done this before, two or three times, but I think I'm finally to the place where they will do me some good. And maybe I'll finally break through the block that's been holding me back.

I also went on a date this week for the first time since Jay died. (For anyone who doesn't already know, Jay & I were non-monogamous; he would have been quite happy had I been dating throughout our relationship, which I did a bit of. So this is not quite as weird as it may seem.) I'd been dithering around on OKCupid for a while, and someone found me who I didn't want to resist. It was lovely, and a little odd emotionally, and I hope for more of the lovely, if this thing takes off.

One kind-of tough thing this week: a doctor's appointment, which was fine, but it was the first time I'd been back to where Jay was treated in Portland since his last trip. It was harder than I anticipated.

But this three-months-since thing ... my heart is really tender right now. I'm back in that place where everything is making me tear up, like going to OHSU to see my doctor, who was also Jay's doctor. And I'm also in a place where I am beginning to understand that this is my normal-for-now, and where I am beginning to accept that it's OK and livable.

Harder for me is the psychological reality that I'm still waiting for Jay to come home from whatever trip he's on.  The disbelief that he's truly gone is pervasive and deep, and I think this, too, is just part of my normal-for-now.

But I did have a sweetly tender Jay moment this week: as I was dithering around trying to decide what to wear on my date, I could hear Jay's laughter in my head. To the point where I started laughing and said out loud, "Shut up!" in that way that we always did when one of us lovingly hit on a sore point. And when I got home, I told him all about it.

I miss him so terribly. That will never change either, I don't think.