Dinner

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A lot to digest…

Much like the snake I photographed in the chicken run a few weeks ago, (find Part 1 at suburbangrowing.com)  the human folks at our house have been working our way through a big meal this fall. Speaking only for myself, in September I wasn’t able to write or do much else of real meat (haha), besides eat, breathe, sleep, and process. Me and the snake. Thank goodness the surgery date is moved up into October, and so we can get through quicker.  It’s “really just a blip on the way to the rest of your life” as my mother-in-law put it, bless her, I hope so. The footage of snake working its jaws around bird is a graphic if gory presentation of the job at hand. Feathers and all. Feet last. Once you get all the information downloaded, which is worth taking your time about, you still need to come to terms with it, and that also takes time. The correspondence is complete, even to the fact that this experience of having cancer is a kind of a meal, something I will grow from going through, and be enriched by. Although I guess that’s up to me.

Owen may be affected by the vibes, or just doing an unusually busy stage of his own development. Lately, he’s been showing affiliation with his Nordic ancestry and leaving warm bed or hot bath for the cool of the brick patio backyard, where he will stand chopping plastic at the table until he feels sufficiently chilled.  Or until I go look for him. He has figured out how to operate the deadbolt on the back door to  achieve early morning freedom. But since there are plenty of shrubs around the property lines to screen him, this seems like a decision he should be allowed to make.

Owen appears fed up with being “directed” these days. And given that most of his hours he is being directed, or pushed or hurried, a little early morning nudity may be just what he needs. If only all his problem behaviors were so easy to deal with. Thank goodness for our homeopathic doctor. I really don’t care if it’s voodoo or what, but the remedy (three little pills of a dilute substance in a sugar pellet) he gave to Owen seems to be calming down his prickly irritability and mulishness.

The night-time care of Owen is another matter, and Edward and I are reaching our limit. Trying to imagine what Stage 2 of Caring for Owen might look like has been keeping me awake at night as much as Owen himself.  How can I make space for Owen to be Owen, and have a life and keep a sense of humor, as I go forward toward 60 and Edward toward 70?  How will we find the care we need for him? And if we do find it, how will I let him go from our house into the care of strangers? How do I send my son away? What kind of life will he have? The need for help is a palpable as the sadness that threatens to choke me. This is a meal to manage in tiny bites. Thank goodness for Owen’s county resources coordinator Nicole Chittams, a woman of great heart and also great practicality and many resources, who has some answers to some of those questions.

My surgery is set up for October 18th. Family and friends have rallied to help out. It turns out things are not going to be as difficult as I thought at first. Where I thought twin mastectomies were called for, it turns out that lumpectomies will do just as well, and maybe better.   I have leaned that for many women Radiation is not the problem for every woman it can be for some (I heard a bad story).  It is possible that I may not need chemo. The best news of all is my own realization that I will come out of this cranky, stiff, and sore true, but still feeling like me. And since mostly I like my me this is a relief. After a September of digesting, on to an October of adaptation.

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Our black caps – fruit from prickles

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

The Strength of Ten Grinches – Plus Two

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My sister already asked me way back at the beginning of the month what I am going to do about Owen this Christmas. She means, what am I going to do to stop Owen’s trying to stop Christmas from coming. From sneaking downstairs like he did last year, devouring every bit of Christmas stocking candy in the wee small hours of the morning, leaving a pile of papers a foot high and “a crumb that was even too small for a mouse.” His siblings were not amused. (Read about last Christmas Naughty – or – Nice -?)

Of course longtime readers know what we tried to do. We built a wonderful, beautiful, aesthetically elegant gate on the stairs!  And then Owen learned to scale the darn banister in no time flat, skipping that gate entirely. (“Once More Into the Breach—!”)

We have to stop Grinchy from coming — BUT HOW?

We rallied of course. Like the Whos. We joined hands and remembered – after a dark despairing little walk in the woods to cool down and warm up – that Christmas happiness didn’t require a thoughtfully arranged, candy-laden Christmas stocking.

Still, even a carefree Who doesn’t want to go through that every holiday.

I have considered floor to ceiling cargo netting along the banister – but cargo netting in a foyer isn’t really my look. And stapling Owen to his bed, or locking him in his room would not be approved of, by me or anyone else (except in a few dark moments maybe). Meanwhile, Owen was busy as ever last night, shredding holiday cards, searching baskets, swiping food off the counter, chopping his sister’s ID card. Much as he loves brothers and sisters coming home, this doesn’t seem to calm him. The time-out chair was kept warm. Must be a lot of stress trying “be nice.” Apparently he can’t take it. How can we both love our Owen and protect our property? How to foil our marauding Christmas bandit?

I know that the best bet will probably always be distraction  – in the spirit of the family I heard of  who used motion activated water (fountain and sprinklers) to distract their runner. If their child bolted out the front door, that moving water captured him, and redirected his attention to the front yard, buying mom and dad a few more minutes to locate him. If I create a barrier, I know that Owen will focus his energies on how to thwart my efforts to control him, displaying strength or agility we didn’t know he had.

This in itself is pretty cool, and I wish I weren’t so tired from getting up every morning with him at 6am that my brain cells are compromised. I’d like to figure out how to employ this phenomenon usefully to make his life richer and more interesting. It’s good to have a reason to fight! Imagine how interesting life would be if we all had to climb down a cargo net to breakfast each morning.

I must stop Owen from descending – But how?

Perhaps hang his stocking at the end of his bed for him to pilfer and explore? Or is that too obvious. Hmm. Maybe it should be dangling casually from the top of the bathroom medicine cabinet?… Or not quite out of reach, on the floor? Just through the bars of the temporary pressure gate in the hall – because there’s no doubt a temporary gate is going to be required across the hallway outside his door. This temporary barrier in place, he still could access the hall bathroom, and check up on his siblings, but not make it to the stairs. Nor incidentally could he reach his dad’s and my room. That does sound good. Usually I want Owen to be able to come and get me when he needs me at night. But maybe not for the short number of sleeping hours on Christmas eve.

And maybe the distraction method does not just apply to Owen – last week we celebrated Edward’s birthday with an evening out. Dinner with mulled wine, and a play – a wonderful theatricalization in words, sing, and dance of Melville’s Moby Dick. It transported us to a different dimension. We came home relaxed. Light. Strengthened.

Respite for long term caregivers is distraction.  Caregivers will still have to face their challenges again tomorrow, but strengthened by a break we can face with humor and patience what we might otherwise grit our teeth and “get through.” Our loved ones don’t just need our hands – they need our hearts. They need our attention. And giving attention is by far the hardest thing.

And so I find that this post is really an acknowledgement: Thank you. Thank you Emma, for an evening out. Thank you Kathie, for walking and talking with Owen twice a week, week after week! And thank you folks at New Horizons, Stephen and Damian, James the van driver, and director Ron Vaughn – for the gift of your attention to some special people, including our Owen.  What a Christmas present, every day.

“And the minute his heart didn’t feel quite so tight,

He whizzed with his load through the bright morning light! –“

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 How The Grinch Stole Christmas by Dr. Seuss