Friday, September 30, 2016

Walking and thinking go together

This is my sharing of grief, loss and the daily act of coping with the death of my loving husband, Kevin. He passed away on June 26th after a devastating year-long battle with lung cancer that metastasized.

I've been walking and also thinking about this fantastic article I read a few weeks ago. It is right up my alley. Has to do with walking and its benefits, specifically for brain function and for writing.

Here it is and I hope you take some time to read it:  Why Walking Helps Us Think

I have many reasons for being interested in this notion. I feel great after a walk. Not necessarily a physical feeling. More euphoric and ready to share the experience. These days my thoughts are always about Kevin. When I walk I feel anxious to share with him the sights, the sounds, narrate a story for him about how much our old hometown has changed since we lived here. I want to reassure him, I am doing okay, even though I miss him so much.

One of our last walks:

In some way it helps me to deal with my grief.

I want Kevin to know how much I enjoyed time spent with Stephanie Serena, Maia and Taryn after his passing. While I was with them I never felt like fish as in Kevin's favorite Benjamin Franklin quote,
"Guests, like fish, begin to smell after three days."
I also feel enlightened, mentally going over a recent conversation or suddenly realizing why something is the way it is. Okay, I am not making a lot of sense, but I know what I mean because I took a walk today.

While I was in Boynton Beach, our old home town, I spent many days wondering and wandering. I retraced areas where we rode our bikes a dozen years ago. I spent time on the beach walking along the shoreline gathering shells and gazing across the water, scanning the horizon, as we did back then, for ships and signs of life. This time I watched for signs from Kevin.

I thought about how much the city has changed. It is no longer a little town along the meandering strand of cities that make up South Florida. Thankfully, it hasn't lost its charm. There is lots of traffic and many high rise condos and apartment buildings. Kevin saw the development in action during prior trips back, before the cancer. During my recent visit, I was immersed in it mainly through daily walks . My wish was to share everything, all of my thought-walking with him.

Now I am back home and been walking our Brooksville neighborhood. I realize how important it is for me to get out and walk. Not only does it help me with writing this blog, it somehow provides new creative ways to sum up life, as well as dream up anything I choose,

I am repeating myself. I've always felt inspiration from walking, but seldom bothered writing those epiphanies or thoughts down. They would float around in my brain and then get tucked away, not to be found. Now I know.

Thanks to this article I will be sharing most every one of my walking thoughts with you.

Rainbows and teeth

This is my sharing of grief, loss and the daily act of coping with the death of my loving husband, Kevin. He passed away on June 26th after a devastating year-long battle with lung cancer that metastasized. 

Before I forget. I walked 3.2 miles this morning, for an hour and seven minutes, plus I burned 288 calories. That includes scaling the biggest hills in our development. This is good considering I didn't get out to walk yesterday.

My mouth is my problem. There was a lot of pain and aching involved until I called my dentists (remember I started going to a nearby practice that recently opened and the dentists are a young couple). Well, it is a branch owned by the her father. A dental caring family. We have a plan in place. I am saving up enough to implement it. Wednesday night was all pain and no sleep. Ongoing infections getting harder to endure. I called my dentists early Thursday and by late morning the remains of two old teeth were history.

It was quick, painless and I don't miss them. Now kicking myself for all of the previous neglect.

I thought back to when I was diagnosed with breast cancer, I faithfully read the books and literature given to me by my oncologist. One sentence stood out like a guiding light or sore thumb. It read, see your dentist. Be sure teeth cleaning and immediate dental work is completed before you start chemotherapy.

I was soon due for a check up. I called and pleaded my case for an appointment within three days. Thankfully, all I needed was a cleaning. The hygienist was surprised when I told her what I'd read.

On to this morning's walk

My teeth problems made me think of Kevin. Well, I always think about him. I mean I started thinking about his teeth problems that arose right in the middle of  his chemotherapy treatments.

He was being treated with antibiotics for Thrush. Finally, Dr. Tang advised him to see a dentist and went about trying to find one for him that takes Medicaid, but that was a bust. We got him an appointment at the county dental clinic. That was promising. There they did all of the X-rays and prep work for the work to be done at a dental college north of Tampa. That Friday, we set up an appointment for the following week, He ended up in the hospital, missed that appointment and never made a new one. There was so much going on in his life, he just didn't see going to the dentist as a big issue.

So, my lesson today is: If you are diagnosed with cancer or another disease or illness that means months of treatment/recovery, go to the dentist beforehand and cross that task off your list.

Same goes for caregivers.

When I first set out walking today, the sky was blanketed with a cover of dark clouds. The sun did it's best to  bust out to reveal a beautiful blue sky and small tufts of bright white clouds.

I spotted three rainbows. Signs from Kevin, maybe cheering me on for walking three miles. Just as I got the farthest distance from home, it started to sprinkle, more of a mist than rain. I worried about my phone and camera. Just then I spotted a newspaper sleeve/bag in the road. I grabbed it for device protection, just in case. Thanks Kevin, I love you.


When I rounded the corner heading home, my crow buddies were waiting for crackers. Let's hope I never run out!

Have a nice day and fun-filled weekend.

Tuesday, September 27, 2016

My walk today and how I hate cancer

This is my sharing of grief, loss and the daily act of coping with the death of my loving husband, Kevin. He passed away on June 26th after a devastating year-long battle with lung cancer that metastasized. 

I walked 2.5 miles this morning. The time it took me kind of sucked. I made a few necessary stops on the way and forgot to pause it. The weather at 8 a.m. is much nicer than it has been. Not so humid in the high 70's and lots of fresh air. This will be a pictorial and mindful thinking of the past year tour. So, get those walking shoes on and let's go,

Here is a list of things I want to address today (in case I forget something).

Stop at Roy and Martha's
Talk to Ron at the guardhouse
Walk past Kevin's windows at Oak Hill Hospital
My rant on cancer
Dog park is heaven - next time
Tree is abuzz with wood wasps

First here is my walk map app results and the route I took. Please disregard all of the stat stuff. I am showing this because it helps with following this post. Just scroll down. The point at the bottom where I started back home is where the guardhouse is located. Near the bottom left-hand corner you see Oak Hill Hospital.

 Map of my walk this morning:

I decided to head west when I left the driveway, and avoid the bright morning sun shining in my eyes. When I got to the corner of the boulevard, I stopped to say Hi to Martha and Roy. I asked Roy if it is an easy task or lost cause to fix the cord on our old lawn mower. The other day I tried to start it and the cord got stuck about halfway back into the casing and I couldn't get it to budge. Roy offered to take a look and hopefully, get it put back together.

I explained how I just wanted to make sure it still works before selling it. I went to the dentist yesterday and now have an extensive and costly treatment plan ahead. It is stuff that has to be done ASAP. So, now I am looking for ways to raise some cash. Medicare doesn't care about teeth. Actually, I have two dentists. They are a young couple who recently opened a branch to her father's dentistry practice and it is conveniently located for me. Very nice couple.

Next I hit the boulevard and headed south to the guardhouse. Ron, remember Ron from my last post?
Ron is on duty this morning. I'd sent him a link to that post yesterday and wanted to make sure he realized the email I sent was from me. No problem. He was calling out thanking me as I approached. He liked it and that is always a good thing. Talked to Ron about Horst's and Liz's annual holiday yard exhibit/neighborhood get together. He says he will wear his Santa suit for it this year. We have some other ideas up our sleeves.

It's the cancer et al

While I was walking to the guardhouse my mind was on the hardest months in Kevin's life. I don't know about anyone else, but I always have regrets as I go over all that happened. I am haunted by what if I'd pushed harder with questions and fears. I must keep reminding myself that whole thing about hindsight: understanding of a situation or event only after it has happened or developed. 

I wonder now, if chemo was beginning to fail Kevin last fall. According to lab work and other indications at the time, when his first round of treatments came to an end, cancer marker numbers had significantly dropped which is good. I can't find anything about it on the internet, but I wonder if several blood transfusion just before the markers were checked, had influenced the results. Was a huge drop. Cancer was not in remission, but slowed. The tumor in his brain was gone and his lungs were pretty clear. It was time for Kevin to take a break from chemo treatments, he was doing fine for a few months, then we went from one problem to another, every organ, his blood, circulatory, kidneys, heart, eyesight, strength, mind turned on him.. It all went downhill.

It was like the AFLAC duck in the commercial trying to cover holes in a leaky row boat. More holes keep happening and spouting water. Before long doctors were scrambling to cover the holes.

As much as Kevin hated being in the hospital, he was comforted to be in Oak Hill Hospital which was right next door to our community. The windows on the end of this wing of Oak Hill were at the end of each hallway and Kevin spent time on the second through fifth floors.

Up until the last time he was admitted there, he always looked forward to a walk down the hall to the window where he could almost see home. He would follow the tree tops that lined the boulevard north to the back of the development to where we lived.

Pictures from High Point looking up at Kevin's windows.  


Kevin looking for home when he was on the third floor Oct. 19, 2015:

I hope I haven't lost anyone yet. Am getting to the point. All of this thinking makes me sad, feeling low, but understanding more about cancer. Kevin's body broke down because of the cancer and the drugs, methods used in treatment. The things that are suppose to save cancer victims can destroy everything.Kevin suffered so much. Even so, he wanted to live. .

In the first place, let's pray a REAL cancer cure is discovered and available to all. Now. One that cures for good, with no side or after effects. That's my Birthday wish until a real cure really rids our world of cancer. I fully expect it to happen before I quit celebrating birthdays. 

The chemotherapy treatments, the radiation sessions, the drugs, the surgeries, all we've had for fighting cancer is not enough. Too many people suffer. Too many people die. Too many families struggle at the suffering and loss of those they love. We run. We walk. We donate. We give. We hope, pray.  We hear always how a cure is around the corner. Maybe as simple as a vaccine. Won't be long so in the meantime stick to the tried and (not so) true.

I don't need to go into the business of cancer and I have no idea if greedy drug companies are hindering the finding of a cure. Nor do any of us need to be schooled on the years it takes to research, study and approve a possible cure. Just let's put all of the great minds together and do it. Granted great strides have been made, but not until cancer is eradicated, should we rest. 

I won't ever accept less. 

It is that time of year when beautiful trees like this Golden Rain Tree are favorite spots for carpenter wood wasps to prepare for cold weather. There are probably hundreds of then in this tree and you can hear the humming buzz as you approach. I think it is a sign. Cold weather is around the corner for our part of Florida which means, store the lawn tools.

Thank you for reading my blog posts. I appreciate it. Have a great day.

Saturday, September 24, 2016

Secret revealed

This is my sharing of grief, loss and the daily act of coping with the death of my loving husband, Kevin. He passed away on June 26th after a devastating year-long battle with lung cancer that metastasized. 

Just had to share this story with you. No need to worry, It ends up being cute and endearing. The usually quiet and slightly shy Kevin partnered up with a neighbor, growing trees in Colorado. News to you? Well it never really happened. And Kevin kept the venture a secret, lest he might embarrass himself by telling Ron.

But first, the back story

Way back in early May 2015, when Kevin was released from the hospital after being diagnosed with lung cancer that spread to his brain, liver and bones, he was prescribed a steroid to help relieve pressure from fluids on his brain. They'd actually started treating him with it two days before he was discharged. I was concerned because he was not acting like himself -- talking to everyone he came across while we walked the halls. Doctors explained this behavior  had to do with the brain tumor and cancer, not the steroid. They told me the same thing when I took him to the emergency room the day after he was released. By then he was having hallucinations, pushing things off tables and was definitely not himself. 

His kidney function was low so he was taking sodium pills and ordered not to drink more than 36 ounces of liquids a day. As it was his kidneys were rejecting liquids which ended up going straight through him and not passed on to his cells. By cutting his intake of liquids, a balance would be struck and back to normal. I still don't get it. He was nuts for water, juice, anything considered liquid. He would gladly have a bowl of canned mandarin oranges, so he could lap up the syrup. 

Stephanie came to help me and Kevin through the week, getting him into treatment at Florida Cancer Specialists. The days between being released from the hospital and his first appointment at FCS  kept us in a panic mode. He was somewhat okay during the day. but by late afternoon he would change.  At times we had to hold on to his arms to keep him in his chair or else he would get up and walk into things like the TV or start knocking things off shelves. Not maliciously. He would get on a phrase and repeat whatever, over and over. Then he concocted stories about water. He would holler and get louder as it got later. This would go on until he went to sleep. Was this the future for us? 

It wasn't until three days after he was released when we found out what really went wrong. It was the combination of the kidney problem-solving sodium/reduced liquids and the steroid that created a drug induced psychosis. When we arrived at the FCS Kevin was babbling and going on trying to talk with everyone in sight. He wasn't making sense. He kind of made up rhymes and repeated them over and over.

It took RN Deedee at FCS five minutes of listening to my story to make the diagnosis. Dr, Tang immediately put Kevin on daily fluid infusions, called off the fluid restrictions and took him off the steroid. It took a few days before he was back to normal. What a relief. 

Deedee told me later she would never forget that day as I sat next to him crying and saying this isn't Kevin. He isn't like this, never.She was a great nurse and they were friends.

Here is a photo of her taken a year ago in September with Kevin

On to the secret story

Okay so now you understand what was going on with Kevin during that week. He carried on all day wanting something to drink. He would insert the word water in every sentence and we couldn't get him away from the subject. Stephanie felt so bad having to limit him to a sip or two through a straw. 

That evening he started telling us this story. He had been staying at the Double Tree and was supposed to get an unlimited amount of special Double Tree bottled water. But they wouldn't give him any of their "god damn water." He was sick and tired of not getting the water he was promised..

"My friend Ron (our neighbor who we barely knew at the time) and I have a plan." he started. " We bought some land in Colorado and we are going to go out there and grow our own water trees. Lots of them, then we'll have all of the water we want.  We'll have our own damn Double Tree water." They were going to be partners, he said. Bottle the water, sell it, drink it and each family would live happily ever after.

He went on and on about his friend Ron, how Ron knows how to do anything. And they might go to Colorado on Ron's motorcycle. It was all Ron for the rest of the evening until he fell asleep.

At least he was happy to have a solution in mind. It was the next day when Dr. Tang said let him drink as much as he wants .Maybe Kevin sensed a solution was just around the corner.

Once he was back to normal in a few days and the psychosis wore off, Kevin didn't remember much of anything that had happened. Stephanie and I brought him up to date with some of what he did and said and we kidded him, just a little. He admitted most of it was pretty funny. Jingles he made up, his failed tricks to get Stephanie to give him water, singing at the top of his lungs during radiation (they had a mic on outside of the treatment room and everyone on the radiation side of  FCS listened and chuckled). It was amusing, he admitted and nothing like his normal self.

But, he didn't want Ron to know about their water tree partnership. Too embarrassing. He reminded me of that every time we saw Ron and when we all attended last year's neighborhood holiday get together at Horst's and Liz's home. 

Ron stopped to say hi as he was passing by the other day and I had to tell him about the psychosis and the water tree story. Ron had a big laugh over it. And a sigh. I think he felt honored to be chosen for this mission, even if it was conjured up in a psychotic blur. Ron said Kevin was a great person, he enjoyed talking to him and felt bad for what happened,. He hadn't had the chance to tell me how sorry he is for our loss. 

I bet Kevin is smiling over all of this. Ron works at the Guardhouse on Mondays and Tuesdays. He would ride by on his motorcycle those early mornings and Kevin would always say, "There goes my friend Ron, off to work. Right on time."

 Here is Kevin with Santa Ron at the guardhouse on December 22, 2015

Have a fun fall weekend. Enjoy life and those you love. Hugs

Wednesday, September 21, 2016

Funky mail and the lawn gets cut

This is my sharing of grief, loss and the daily act of coping with the death of my loving husband, Kevin. He passed away on June 26th after a devastating year-long battle with lung cancer that metastasized. 

Something that bothers me a lot is the bizarre mail sent to Kevin, nearly three months after his death. These pieces came today. I smudged the address to protect the innocent.(To misquote a Dragnet phrase.) So what made this insurance company think it was a good thing to send this offer to a dead man?

Seems like they must've known he was terminally ill. Why else would they bring up the death benefit? Ooh, I could scream. Oh yes, a "free quote" and the Walmart gift card would be the deal maker -- not. The other piece of mail is sent to a valued former subscriber. The New Yorker has been trying to get him back for three years now. It is too late. At least the Tampa Bay Times finally stopped delivering the paper 5 months after he cancelled the subscription.

A few days after Kevin passed away he started getting hand-written letters from members of an area church, inviting him to join their congregation. Fortunately,  they stopped after a week or two. The amount of mail addressed to him has lessened. Of course he still gets lots of creidt card offers.

Good news, I cut the lawn first thing this morning. Took two hours (we have two lots) and it looks great.  Lawns here have gone crazy growing this year because of all of the rain.  This time of the year we always end up cutting every 10 days. I paid our neighbor to cut it three times during the five weeks I was staying at Stephanie's. By the end of October, we should be able to put the lawn mower away until next Spring.

Getting out and doing yard work was good for me. I didn't get my walk in, but I did go shopping this afternoon and years ago, my oncologist told me his wife said shopping is equivalent to a brisk walk. So, it must be true. And I did the laundry, so I feel good that I didn't waste time walking around in circles, going from one project to another.

I felt Kevin following me along. He enjoyed mowing the lawn and would be happy to see it looking so good. I am the same as Kevin about that feeling of accomplishment after cutting the lawn.  Last year, Spring of 2015, he was still doing most of the mowing, some trimming and all of the weeding. By summer and chemotherapy sessions, he was just doing the weeding. Since then,  the lawn has been up to me or Stephanie and Serena whenever they come to visit. It bothered him a lot not being able to do those chores

We even bought a better lawn mower this year that is self-propelled and has push start. It was for me and for him, once he was able again. Well, I feel like today I did something to make Kevin smile. That feels good.

Thank you for reading my blog posts and for all of your support. I really appreciate it.


Sunday, September 18, 2016

Looking back

This is my sharing of grief, loss and the daily act of coping with the death of my loving husband, Kevin. He passed away on June 26th after a devastating year-long battle with lung cancer that metastasized. 

This morning I took the vacuum apart to clean the roller and check the health of the belt. Not something I would normally get into doing. But was much needed and I put it off for several months. Kevin was not one of the handy guys or wannabes. He would have done it for me, just the same. Like I would do things for him. 

It was an understanding between partners. Of course we were territorial about tasks and chores. I would never let him do the laundry and he insisted on doing the yard work. He paid the bills, kept track of paperwork and took the car in for car check ups. There were crossovers. I would worm my way into helping with the yard and Kevin always made great  Neat  Kevins (Sloppy Joes without the sloppy part). It was harmonious like that until the cancer. I started taking on more of the lawn chores. I took over driving when he started chemo. There was a lot of shuffling going on and I didn't think about it. Kevin would've done it for me.

As the months went on, I was labeled "caregiver." That was okay, too. I loved and love Kevin so much. I would do everything I could to make him better. 

Definition of Caregiver:

One who contributes the benefits of  medical, social, economic, or environmental resources to a dependent or partially dependent individual, such as a critically ill person. 

When we were among the medical world, I became his voice when he was too tired and sick to speak. I was his advocate always. But I also became the advocate for his doctors, nurses,, aides, therapy techs, dietitians, cleaning people and the medical bills. 

As for the bills and cost of treatment, we were fortunate to have the Oak Hill Patient Advocate Manager, Linda Murphy step in the first time he was admitted to the hospital and diagnosed with cancer. Kevin did not have insurance, so she got me through the paperwork for his getting accepted for Medicaid. Between Kevin being so sick and the mountain of bills that we were getting, my heart was always in my throat. I was in panic mode, but couldn't show it. I don't know what I would've done without Linda. It all took time. There were interviews and always more papers to file, but she got it done and continued to help us with the financial part of cancer until after Kevin passed away. We were so thankful to have her assistance,

On the medical side, I was always expected to carry on with their directives. Especially in the last four months. Doctors would look at me and say, he has to eat more. Physical therapists would tell me, he has to be able to stand up and walk before he can go home. Easy for them to say. I tried. Kevin knew what they were saying, but he was no longer physically able. Yet, I was expected to keep after him even though it didn't feel right.

I was in the middle, wanting what was best for Kevin and never giving up hope.

I was stepping in for Kevin, taking over his task to fight for his life. 

He is the love of my life. I just don't know. Pushing him to try harder, eat more, do what the doctor says. It gets me down to think about it. 

Writing this is helpful. I have so many emotions to work through. This morning when I started thinking about all of this, I was mad at myself. Now, I am just sad.

There are so many things we do in life and never have to look back or scrutinize. Then there is grief.. 

Sending my love to all. Thank you for being here for me.

Friday, September 16, 2016

Busy day, a good busy

This is my sharing of grief, loss and the daily act of coping with the death of my loving husband, Kevin. He passed away on June 26th after a devastating year-long battle with lung cancer that metastasized. 

It was one of those nights, last night. I went to bed tired at 10:30, but had a hard time falling to sleep. Once I did start sleeping, I kept wondering how our bodies automatically know when to put us in sleep mode and when to make us wake up. So amazing how that works. I woke up often during the night and early morning and finally got up at 7:30 which is later than usual for me.

My thoughts this morning

Today will be fun. I am going out to lunch with Anna and Sally to their favorite bar in Homosassa. I an looking forward to having a good visit with my friends.

So, between getting up late and getting psyched for my lunch date, I thought about putting of  my daily walk. It is a precious habit, I try not to break. I was a daily walker until Kevin became sick. Now I am happily back in the habit. But, in this case and since it is already hot and steamy out... Wait a minute, I told myself. WWKD? I know, I know. He would at least make the effort of getting out there, even for a shortened trip around the neighborhood. So, I went, expecting to do a little circle and be home in ten or fifteen minutes. Instead I dutifully marched 2  miles in 39 minutes. Pretty good. I realized it is better to at least make the attempt and not break the habit chain unless it is totally necessary.

Kevin was ace at keeping up habits. His longest running was keeping a daily journal for way longer than I knew him. Sometimes he would simply record the weather and add a note or to about his day. When something worth being noted occurred, he would include it. I can't tell you how many times We would be talking about something that happened in the past, but couldn't remember when or some other detail. After narrowing it done to the month and/or year it happened, he would go to his diaries and find a passage about the event or whatever. The only gaps in his decades long journal keeping happened when he was too ill to write. Mostly when he was in the hospital or having some medical procedure, he would have me take notes and he planned to copy them into his journal, later.

He was also an avid bike rider for a few years, especially when we lived in Bluffton, SC, in the low country and there were miles of bike trails. The best part was there weren't any hills. Kevin rode as many days a week as possible for six or seven years until his legs started hurting when he rode and the hills we have where we now live that are steep.

By the way, in the early 90's when Kevin was between newspaper editor  jobs, he took a course at Boca Raton Community Hospital and became a CNA. He worked there and very much enjoyed it for several months until he went back to papers as a writer and eventually Sports Editor. It was hard work for little pay, yet he loved his coworkers and his interaction with patients.

An afternoon with Anna and Sally

Yes, I had fun with my mother and daughter friends, Sally and Anna. We did go to their favorite hang out, The Old Mill, which is a neighborhood bar. I had today's special, a fresh fish taco and it was delicious. But the food was a small part of the experience. Those two women keep me smiling and they love remembering Kevin and good times we all had together.

One hilarious thing that happened is when Anna took off her shirt. Turned some heads from the men at the bar. what happened is when we first sat down, the chair Anna sat on had something sticky on it. She moved to another seat and the waitress cleaned the sticky chair off. When we were finished eating, Anna stood up and we realized she had the sticky stuff on the back of her shirt. Well, Anna proceeded to take her shirt off and Sally started waving her arms, saying no, no, no. And that's what got the bar crowd's attention. I broke into laughter as Anna had on a sports bra which was more like a swim top.  The guys quickly went back to watching TV and their drinks. I guess Sally panicked when she saw Anna taking her shirt off. Was a good laugh.

So here we are having lunch and a good time on this Friday afternoon;

A little levity

We talked about how I met Kevin, which they insist I write about. So stay tuned. It was nice to get out for a while and spend time with friends. They enjoyed getting away for lunch, as well.. Kevin and I spent many days on their porch watching the wildlife that lived along the spring that flowed through their backyard. The spring wasn't so nice to them the tidal surge from Hurricane Hermine pushed 4-5 inches of water throughout the first flow of their home. They in turn, pushed the brackish water out just about as soon as it came in. They keep saying how much it hurts to see how many of their neighbors endured worse damage and lost so much. Today one of the waitresses told us her home was flooded with 8 inches of water that never receded for several days. They lost four vehicles, furniture, appliances, flooring, walls, And they don't live near the water. FEMA hasn't been around to offer her family aid. She says she and her husband are do the best they can to fix their home.

Okay, so off topic, but I did want to share with you, what my day was like and how important it was for me to be with our friends. Kevin was with us. i feel he sat quietly. listening and enjoyed letting the me. Anna and Sally carry on about everything, including all things nice about Kevin. I miss him everyday and so do his friends.

Thank you for reading my post.

Thursday, September 15, 2016

That kind of day

This is my sharing of grief, loss and the daily act of coping with the death of my loving husband, Kevin. He passed away on June 26th after a devastating year-long battle with lung cancer that metastasized. 

Yes it was that kind of day. This morning started out on track. Thanks to MapMyWalk I can tell you I walked 2.14 miles in 41.50 minutes. Was about the same yesterday, but it took me longer Tuesday, because I stopped to talk to neighbors and forgot to put the app on pause.

I did some picking up, a load of wash and had my Cheerios when I returned home. Then I got this bright idea of making both potato salad and macaroni salad at the same time. I hadn't made either in years before I stayed with Stephanie last month. One day I made potato salad and it tasted pretty good, A week or so later I made macaroni salad and it tasted good, too. I hadn't made it in years because Kevin was particular about what he ate. He didn't like his foods touching each other, so casseroles and most multi-ingredient dishes were not on his list. Especially if an ingredient was boiled eggs.

Short story long

I thought, similar ingredients meant less time spent prepping, if I made both salads at once. In the first place, I had to keep back tracking making sure I wasn't getting the recipes mixed up. To top it off, I was cutting both recipes in half and had to be careful to adjust amounts. First I cut up the veggies and mixed the  I was boiling eggs for the macaroni salad. Then cooking the potatoes followed by the macaroni. I ended up with a sink full of dishes. It was a  little crazy but I was managing and kept patting myself on the back as this would mean already prepared food for the next few days.

I put the macaroni salad together first. Since the macaroni was still warm, I put the lid on loosely and placed it on a shelf in the fridge. Then I went back to cutting up the potatoes and putting that salad together.

I popped it into the fridge, next to the macaroni salad. I was on a roll and then it happened. The two containers collided and the macaroni salad slid out of the fridge and on the floor. The way it landed, half of the salad was all over the floor. Worse yet, for some unknown but ridiculous reason the A/C vent for the kitchen is in the floor, directly in front of the fridge. Some of the salad ended up in the vent. Yuck

"Damn it all to hell," I shouted as I looked at the mess in the vent and then wondered where that phrase came from. Oh yes, it was what my father said the time he was on the second floor of our house, removing an old chimney and I get too close to the big hole in the floor. Must have been winter as I remember I was wearing my snow suit and boots. Of course I fell into the hole. My dad grabbed my arms and said, "Damn it all to hell," as he yelled for my mother to run into the downstairs living room and help ease me down. Lucky for me this time the worse part was cleaning macaroni out of a hole in the floor.

Back to the salad disaster. By now it was afternoon and our cat who had crawled off for a nap, came running into to see what was going on. She sniffed the macaroni, turned around and headed back to her nap spot. I cleaned up the mess while growling at myself for wasting food. Just then I felt Kevin standing behind me with a frown on his face. I know he was advising me, as he always did when I had something like this happen, to settle down. Don't get so upset. Everything is okay.Turn off the A/C and clean up the mess before the whole house smells like boiled eggs.

Kevin would probably think, "Oh well, I wasn't going to eat any of that."

I forgot to turn the A/C back on until I realized it was getting warm in the house, a couple of hours later.

There went my day

This wasn't what I planned to do all day. I was very frustrated, even sobbing. Once I cleaned up the mess, washed the dishes and straightened up the kitchen, I sat for a while. I had a conversation with Kevin. It is so hard, adjusting. I feel rattled. I push myself to stay busy. I always like being busy and doing projects, as it is. Now, I feel the need to be constantly occupied rather than idle with time to feel sad and lonely. I miss him.

Life is so different. We had our routines. For me it took the  two of us to manage  day-to-day.

I say, "Damn it all to hell," to cancer.

Thank you for reading my post for today.

Wednesday, September 14, 2016

New day is better

This is my sharing of grief, loss and the daily act of coping with the death of my loving husband, Kevin. He passed away on June 26th after a devastating year-long battle with lung cancer that metastasized. 

I've come a ways since Monday regarding emotions and feeling lonely. On Tuesday, I started with a two-mile walk and a stop at our neighbors' house to thank them for keeping our lawn cut while I was away.  It was a good visit.Since last spring, half of our neighbors went north for the summer. So it's been quiet. With all that was going on with Kevin's health, we didn't spend much time socializing. So, it was good for me to have them catch me up on whatever I missed, which wasn't much. It helped switch my mind, a bit.

I had walking partners yesterday: Sandhill Cranes.

I spent the rest of the day picking up and putting away things. One thing I realized is that I am drifting. I start one project and before I realize it, I am off doing something else. I am keeping busy and not focusing so much on sadness and being lonely. I've advanced to the scatterbrained level. About the only thing I accomplished is finishing up Season 2 of Unbreakable Kimmy Schmidt on Netflix. Of course I carved a stamp and crocheted a dish cloth while I watched that hilarious series.

Something not so fun was having to check the "widow' box when I was filling out a new patient dentist form. I am no longer Mrs. Whitney-Conway.

Today, I woke, walked and watered some plants. The day is young and I have enough to keep me busy. Stephanie left a great comment that reminds me how much support I have from others, especially them. I will have up and down days. It is as it should be. My approach will be to make the best of each day and keep that WWKD attitude. I miss him everyday. He misses me, too.

Something we loved about our community in Brooksville is the abundance of beautiful trees and flowers. I took this photo for Kevin during this morning's walk.When we first moved here we tried and failed with the tropical plants we were use to when we lived in Palm Beach County. Temps get below freezing here at least once every winter and we lost a lot of plants before we learned our lesson. Our walks were curtailed when Kevin became too sick and weak, but I still took (and take) pictures for Kevin to enjoy.

Have a great day. It is thundering and the sky is filled with dark clouds. That's what I get for watering the plants. Guess it is a good laundry and otherwise indoor activity day. Thank you for keeping up with me.

Monday, September 12, 2016

Loneliness and coping

This is my sharing of grief, loss and the daily act of coping with the death of my loving husband, Kevin. He passed away on June 26th after a devastating year-long battle with lung cancer that metastasized. 

I came home on Saturday. Stephanie and Serena brought me home and stayed with me until early this Monday morning as they both were scheduled to work this afternoon. While they were here, it was more like an extension of the five weeks I'd spent with them in Boynton Beach. On Saturday and Sunday we got out and walked a lot as well as binge-watched  Unbreakable Kimmy Schmidt on Netflix.When they left, my heart sank. I was homesick wanting to be with them and I missed Kevin more than ever.

It's been a rough day. Our house is filled with Kevin things and our things. For some reason we, Kevin and I weren't think-talking the way we were when I was in Boynton. Or maybe sort of, if you count my moaning and whimpering, because I feel so sad today. I would rather share happy thoughts and lighter conversations with him. I wasn't ready for this. While I was staying at Stephanie's I had their constant attention. And I shared the happiness that this brought me, with Kevin/ I think-talked with him about the changes and updates happening in our old home town. I explain to him why I took this picture or that one. Stephanie, Serena and I talked daily about what Kevin might think about this or that and we shared great memories that made us smile and brought me comfort.

Then coming home was like returning to a cold hard reality. A reality, I still can't accept. I always get homesick when our kids leave after a visit with us. That sick feeling in my tummy and a slight headache, accompanied by a case of feeling lonely. In the past, it would quickly subside because Kevin was here with me. Today it lingered and included my missing Kevin.

Now that I think about it, we were think-talking. The problem was my being so glum. Everything I did, reminded me that Kevin is gone. There didn't seem to be anything happy to share with him or at least not much. There was the back-log of mail, some offers of final expense packages for Kevin. There are tasks I've put off and now must deal with, such as dental work. I guess between the grim stack of mail and my procrastination, I wasn't making much effort to make things happy.

Projecting happiness was second nature while I was at Stephanie's. I was feeling more sensitive today and little things brought me to tears. For instance, I was looking for something and ran across some old pictures. Even these photos of Kevin risking the contents of his stomach as he accompanied Serena on various roller coaster rides made me sad. This was when his being sick and cancer wasn't in our thoughts. And yes, he liked wearing white T shirts.

Although it wasn't the best day ever, I am grateful for a few things that happened. I received a couple of heartfelt emails from friends, plus a visit and calls from our faithful friend Anna. We are planning on doing a one-day craft show next month and are already busy working out the details. Stephanie phoned letting me know they had a good trip home this morning. Then she called later for our daily chat as she drove home from work. Lastly was a sweet phone visit with Kevin's sister, Georgia.

I promised Kevin tomorrow will get better.

I told Anna, I have to get use to it. The being lonely and missing Kevin so much. She said that never happens. There is nothing to get use to. I guess time just makes it hurt less. Getting away from where all of the pain and loss happened is a temporary fix. Who knows.

Maybe this picturesque sunset photo I took last night was a sign from Kevin. He's reminding me his love is as intense, everlasting and beautiful as this evening sky.

Love and hugs to all and thank you for allowing me to share this journey with you.

Sunday, September 4, 2016

Life goes on, but never the same.

I didn't run off to Canada, nor did I drop off the face of the Earth. Today I am on an extended visit at daughter Stephanie's house in Boynton Beach,FL. Going back home next weekend after being away for five weeks.  I've had a lot of time to think and am ready to share this deeply personal journey of life after death.

I started writing many blogs that sit as drafts because I wasn't sure they were worthy of print. It was my goal to bring enlightenment as to how I cope(d) with losing my BFF, love of my life. Then I slowly realized I am clueless and naive to think I could make this easier for someone else, especially since I am still carrying myself from one day to another.

What I can do is review the emotional twists and turns I've been through since Kevin died of cancer on June 26th. Some maybe familiar or helpful to others and also serve as a personal reminder for me.

It shouldn't have been a shock to me, the day he stopped breathing, but it was. We'd been fighting the metastasized lung cancer for a year, which was a year longer than doctors first gave him. So, everyday, no matter how hard, was a gift. We weren't making plans to do anything other than for doctors' visits, chemotherapy, MRIs and countless scans. By the time Kevin took a break from chemo treatments and the cancer seemed to be diminishing last fall he was weak and we both didn't like the idea of being too far away from Dr. Tang, Kevin's lifeline. By spring cancer was once again spreading, the chemo treatments were no longer working and it was a slow downhill slide. Plans were for him to start chemotherapy with different drugs, but that never happened because everything else started going wrong in Kevin's body. We'd actually lost the battle months before he passed away. That never occurred to me until a few weeks ago. We never gave up hope. Never.

Some of you know what we went through, since you received email updates from me.

The first days after Kevin died were filled with deep sorrow, regret, confusion, pain so deep in my soul. Loneliness.

Despite having our children with me and so many others visiting, calling, texting, emails, cards, letters and flowers to keep in touch with me, I was all alone without Kevin for the first time in thirty-one years.

There was also yucky stuff that I had to do. Paperwork. Final arrangements. Much more paperwork. I'd spent my time taking care of and worrying about Kevin. Now all of that was gone and I realized I needed to take care of myself. Get to the things I neglected. And get through the grieving. Easier said than done.

First of all, I cannot overstate how everyday maybe different. Something will trigger sorrow and dread. Another occurrence brings sweet memories and peace. I plan to devote the next few blogs to different circumstances that I've gone through.

 Starting with Signs from Kevin and Cat

Kevin and Snuggles aka Cat helped then and are still holding me up. For years Cat spent most of her day off sleeping under a bed or elsewhere hidden. She was always friendly, but not overly so. When Kevin became sick she stayed close by him. Now she is my shadow and talks to me in cat language. Of course, I talk back and we discuss how much we miss Kevin.

Yes, I believe Kevin is always with me in Spirit. One of the last things he said to me was, "I'm sorry." I know he meant he was sorry to leave me. He knew how much I wanted him to be with me forever. I told him so, over and over. He wanted to be with me forever. He is with me in my heart, mind and prayers.

At first, I thought I'd hit on something. when I felt his presence and thought I'd caught a glance of him behind me or sitting in his favorite rocking chair. I even talked to him (pretended to be talking to cat). Just said casual stuff and how I was relieved he was there with me. I  felt calmed and believed this was how I would get through losing him. Even thought it was worthy of sharing with others in case they found themselves suffering from loss.. Then I realized I am on the same path as most others. It is part of grieving, of getting over. Now I am comforted feeling his presence, always, and  I "think-talk" to Kevin mostly. I keep the sobs and tears to a minimum because this interaction could be for Kevin's benefit, as well. Who knows.

According to me, he leaves signs everyday. They are things that remind me of him. Things he would normally point out to me in the old days and reminders of what we shared. Most of the time signs that show he is with me are meant to make me smile and feel his arms around me. Like rainbows, heart-shaped stones or leaves, a tuneful tweet from a bird, pretty sunsets. Here is a leaf Stephanie found while we were on a walk. There weren't any other heart-shaped leaves around. Just this one and she said it was for me from Kevin. And always beautiful rainbows.

 Other signs provoke thinking

Even signs of caution like ones I saw on my walk this morning. First a little snake (I am not afraid of snakes, but give them their space). he was pencil-thin little, silvery and made it clear about not moving an inch from his place on the sidewalk.   Then a squirrel that chattered at me as he scurried up a tree, like he wasn't paying attention and I surprised him. Next was a scary dog that lunged at me dragging the 90 pound lady along who was attempting to walk him. I was more annoyed at the woman than afraid of the dog.Last was a man on a bike who passed me from behind without warning me. He apparently trusted I would stay on the right side of the sidewalk while he sped by on his bike, wearing Dr, Dre Beats headphones.  I never heard or saw him until he was passing by me.

Pardon me if I stray from the message here. I am trying to unwind this morning's signs as I write.

Between the dog and bike guy encounters, I passed a man also wearing headphones, more like ear buds and bright red sneakers. I wear a phone pouch suspended around my neck and when I walk I hold the pouch in my hand, to keep it from swinging back and forth. When we passed each other, he smiled, said hello and glanced at the pouch in my hand. I know he was thinking I grabbed it to keep it secure as we passed. Because he is black. I knew what was going through his mind. Kevin made me notice. I am sad that anyone has to assume something like that.  Based on nothing but their race.

I am off to ponder this morning's signs and promise to be back soon. I look forward to comments and input regarding grief, healing and how to cope. Oh yes, enjoy Labor Day.