I love Christmas and admittedly, get carried away with all of it; the lights, the decorations with tiny trees and Santa’s all over the house and love the shopping. However, with the onset of two crippling arthritic diseases and now cancer, I find I have modified all of it. Like our dogs who got smaller as we got older, our Christmas’s have also become smaller. I shop mostly online for the convenience and ease to the body. Instead of two nativity sets, we now use one. Our trees are shorter and slenderer. When I think of past years and all the “T’was the night before Christmases” I spent sewing, wrapping and baking, I wonder how I did it? One year I was framing counted cross stich, quilting and even made a Dolly Parton pillow for one of my nephews. What is a Dolly Parton pillow you might ask? Let me share. You make a large pillow, stitch two big boobies you can fill with extra stuffing, Dolly amount; then add some laces beneath the boobies to stitch her up, old saloon girl style. I guess I watched too many old westerns as a child but I’m old enough to recall that was about all that was on TV in the “old days.” Take a memory of old westerns, add Dolly and there you have it. I love giving wanted, surprising and fun gifts.
Early in December twelve years ago, when my youngest granddaughter was born, my son-in-law and I were in the labor/delivery room with my daughter and things progressed quickly. I left during the delivery and joined my husband who was walking the hallway and waited. In a very short time my daughter, who a half-hour before was screaming, “Don’t touch me,” when I tried to rub her back was sitting up exhausted yet beaming. Her proud husband at her side. I need to insert at this point in my narrative to tell you my son-in-law was never in danger of becoming a doctor. He becomes squeamish during any medical conversations and when it comes to bodily fluids, well, just don’t go there. Boy, did he marry into the wrong family or is this just another of God’s clear signs of His sense of humor? That little explanation aside, after the birth, he handed me a pair of disgusting socks my daughter had on during the delivery. He said, “You might want to burn these.”
As a nurse who used to work in obstetrics, a little birth fluid had no effect on me so I took those white socks home and washed them. A couple of weeks later, I placed those now clean socks into tissue paper and a nice Christmas box, wrapped them and gave them to my son-in-law for Christmas. Being quick witted, he picked them up, looked at me dubiously and said, “Are these…?”
I replied, “Yep, those are the official family birthing socks.” I never saw anyone drop anything that fast; unless it was on fire. Now that I think of it, I don’t know what happened to those socks. I was going to frame them just for fun.
The after-holiday letdown is now more of an exhaustion filled, eating leftovers experience. I love to see those post-holiday days come but now, due to chronic pain and age, like old fish and hang on company, I like to see them go. Suddenly I am finding dust in places I haven’t noticed all year and still in the throes of exhaustion, find my dear spouse and I gradually hauling boxes filled with holiday cheer back down to the basement from whence it came. That dusting and cleaning will have to be in step with my tired and always hurting joints and back. It is a shame adrenaline and enthusiasm have their limits when faced with rheumatoid fatigue. The hourglass of my energy level is low and the sand particles are few. I have been brought back down to reality by the arrival of the credit card bills, my aching body and the challenge of remembering where everything goes that was previously moved. Let’s see, I think I put the pictures I took down in the hall closet, or was it the enclosed back porch? Oh well, all will settle down in time, as soon as I resettle the dust into a new location. Isn’t dusting the silliest and most worthless of all household chores?
Now we are in a new year that has never existed before. While my Roomba works on the floor I am resting and cogitating on how to approach the new year. By my very positive nature and my faith, I think the best approach is to count my blessings which are abundant as compared to enumerating all of my problems. The world is in trouble but that is nothing new; our country is divided and half of it is literally frozen. How about joining me in looking at some refreshing aspects in life and choosing a few of our favorite things. Naturally, my list will be different than yours so you may want to make a list of your own. Here are a few of my favorite things. Sorry Julie Andrews but as well as singing about them you are also one of my favorite things.
A FEW OF MY FAVORITE THINGS
A compassionate doctor with a smart mind and a good memory.
A physician who looks at me when I am in his office and not just his portable computer screen.
A gynecologist with a warm speculum and small hands, preferably attached to a female doctor.
A kind receptionist who doesn’t require me to bring out my ugly attitude; it upsets me to be rude.
A doctor’s office that doesn’t keep me waiting forever while sitting on my painful tush.
Easy access to reports of all types for my medical files; I paid for them, they are mine.
Lab technicians who did not attend the Marque de Sade school of phlebotomy or bloodletting.
A clean office or hospital in which there is no blood on the floor or the doctor’s shoes.
Physicians and nurses who wash their hands; it instills a sense of confidence in me.
New magazines in the waiting room that were published sometime after 1975.
Those weekly pill containers for prescription drugs and daily vitamins.
Capsules or chewable pills or vitamins.
Aloe Vera gel, cortisone creams and lidocaine creams or ointments for rashes and/or painful joints.
My day is not happening without a long talk with the Lord asking his blessings and guidance on that day.
I adore my Roomba and Neato vacuums. Can’t imagine the amount of dirt I would have on my floors without them.
All Swiffer products, for floor or dusting.
Good old movies on TV, DVD or computer for times when I must rest each day.
A good book on a reader or large print for these damaged old eyes of mine. I especially prefer books about someone who has overcome…anything.
Potted plants on the front porch or sprinkled all over the house. I have a preference for all types of geraniums outdoors and African violets in.
Any herbs I can grow for our use in a sunny window or on a porch. This includes my bay tree for their wonderfully fragrant and practical leaves.
I confess I have a particular fondness for funny signs, small porcelain animals, collectibles and anything about the house that make me smile.
Framed family pictures everywhere. I have a staircase full of them because they remind me of what was and those I love, many of whom are now in Heaven. Family photos keep me grounded, even though many of them are directed downhill and inch or so thanks to the sloping of our funny old Victorian.
I love lace curtains, soft blankets and flannel sheets and all heating pads. Never met a heating pad I didn’t like.
I adore feather pillows for all purposes of sleeping and support of sad, painful joints. I prefer goose down but it is expensive. I know the goose sacrificed a lot but I simply can’t always afford to pay for that sacrifice.
There is nothing as wonderful as crawling back into a warm bed after a midnight trip to the bathroom although I frequently have to fight George, our little Yorkie for the warm spot.
I love the riotous colors of wallpaper. Our old house is very “loud” as it speaks to me but I don’t mind. I like the company.
I love our small refrigerator upstairs. With bad knees and neuropathy, I know it has saved me from a fall down the stairs and particularly comes in handy at night for a yogurt or apple to take with pills. It’s also a lifesaver in the morning for a cold Ensure to take with my handful of AM medications and vitamins.
Well, my dear friends, I’m certain I forgot many blessings in my life but for the new year, how about joining me in seeing your favorite aspects of life and don’t slide into that slimy pit of self-pity that often accompanies our way of life? Continue to take life one step, one day and one week at a time. Try not to fear the future and live for today. Let us open our eyes to all that is good, beautiful and endearing in our surroundings. Avoid negative folks, fight your depression by “walking away” from it with a prayer, a good book or positive company. Give away what you can whether it be a dollar to a charity, a phone call to a friend or the most valuable gift of all, your love.
I look forward to another year with all of you as we face the ups and downs of a life with chronic pain.