“ONCE MORE UNTO THE BREACH” Part Two

Somehow clicked Publish by mistake.  To continue…

Discharged last Tuesday, well enough to continue meds at home, the doctors decided, and I agreed, would visit therapist in Bel Air and psychiatrist at Harford Memorial to monitor prescriptions, do more volunteer work.  Going to see Maeve at last.  Walked to Emergency Room parking lot where left car 16 days before, gave grumpy attendant at exit a letter from social worker stating I’d been an inpatient, forgive fee.

Woman in booth frowned, made phone call, asked me for license, gave me a form to sign, sternly said I’d be billed for $150! I pleaded to no avail, she called for security guard who took his time coming, but was kinder —  went into booth and lifted the gate .  I’d been delayed from Kieran’s, was there over an hour, sometimes standing outside car in hot sun. But social services is now on the case!

Then to Kieran’s, finally got to hold Maeve in my arms, saw Mommy, Daddy and Nolan — Jack napping — couldn’t wait for me. Later went to get Angel from vet — happy to be together again — and home at last.  Saw therapist today, said I wasn’t sleeping well on Trazodone, had tried unsuccessfully to reach Hopkins and Harford Memorial psychiatrists.She reminded me that meds “take time to work.”  I know that, am trying to be patient. Keep me in your prayers

 

 

 

 

 

 

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“ONCE MORE UNTO THE BREACH…”

I’d told my son I wasn’t doing well the week after coming home from St. Joe’s, and he called on July 7th, persuaded me to come for dinner and stay overnight. That afternoon watched Nolan and Jack happily splashing in a backyard wading pool — with their daddy pretending to be a big fish for them to climb on. The next morning, Kieran talked me into walking a mile long trail with him — exercise creates endorphins and lifts mood, he said, and though I felt a bit unsteady on my feet — he didn’t  seem to notice — I kept up the pace, didn’t want to worry him.

I’d been taking  Paxil for three weeks, prescribed at St. Joe’s, no weaning from the Zoloft and Lithium prescribed at Meadow Wood which I’d been taking for about a month.  Now I was waking often at night,  walking  wobbly, head muddled — and had a urinary infection, a probable side effect of Paxil, I learned. On July 11th, after seeing Dr. Naguib re now cleared urinary infection, but feeling generally miserable, I panicked again and drove to Johns Hopkins Bayview Hospital in Baltimore for admission to their behavioral health unit.

Kieran very upset this time.  I’d broken my solemn promise to talk to him first, but knew a brisk walk wouldn’t be enough to help. Took Angel to board at the vet, crying s I left her, I called my son to tell him I was going to another hospital. He tried to persuade me to come to their home, but I was determined. After a sleepless overnight in the noisy Emergency Room, was admitted to the In Patient Psychiatric Unit the next evening, then taken off the St. Joseph’s medicines and prescribed Effexor — an antidepressant I’d been on for fifteen years until last January and was sure had stopped working.

Very long days at Hopkins — working crossword puzzles, reading, taking notes for “The Perils” in the Common Room, talking to other patients. Few group sessions, an occasional craft workshop and sessions led by a nurse or social worker — “How to Find Happiness” the theme of one, led by an almost annoyingly chirpy social worker.

Was surprised many patients were allowed to spend most of the day in bed, some only coming out for meals. Not sleeping well again, given Ambien several nights, then taken off and prescribed Trazodone and Remeron at bedtime. Antidepressants can cause insomnia.  Sleeping medicines can aggravate depression.

Happy news in the  middle of all this:  My beautiful granddaughter, Maeve Gallagher, was born on July 15th, a healthy 8 pounds, 9 ounces.  Sad that I’d have to wait to see and hold her when I was discharged — finally, on July 26th, after an endless two weeks and two days.

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STILL HANGING IN THERE

Today is July 4th — haven’t posted since April 30th — been battling another round of depression. In early May, gradually feeling lower, waking often in bed, panicking after no sleep one night, I contacted the Bel Air Crisis Team, was advised to drive to Meadow Wood Behavioral Health Hospital in Delaware this time.

Kieran was understandably upset — only called him when I arrived there. For seventeen days I was prescribed a potent mix of five medications — Zoloft, Lithium, three others — assigned to the geriatric unit, mostly patients with dementia — sad and disturbing.  Moved to a quieter unit the second week despite my advanced age. Too much free time, just a couple of group meetings a day, telling our moods on a scale of one to ten, our daily goals. Mine was to get out of there!

Struggled at home for a month after discharge, feeling no better, the Lithium apparently causing diarrhea, shakiness and loss of appetite. And was attending out-patient therapy at Harford Memorial three times a week.  About ten patients sitting in a circle, in various stages of wellness, filling out work sheets, a social worker leading discussions and writing on a board. Each three hour session seemed endless.

Still sleeping poorly, and after another night of no sleep, called my son — had promised I’d never again  admit myself to a hospital with talking to him — and we went to Sheppard Pratt, nearer his home.  Sent to GBMC emergency room for tests, Kieran staying with me till admission at midnight.  No beds at Sheppard Pratt, transferred to St. Joseph’s Hospital.  Immediately taken off Zoloft and Lithium, and prescribed Paxil and other meds — discharged after two long weeks.

St. Joseph’s less traumatic than Meadow Wood  — not hard to do — but several trying group sessions a day, including one with crafts or coloring picture books. Tried  to work crosswords and read a novel, though difficult to concentrate. Kieran visited bringing puzzles and snacks — he’s been so caring and wonderful — it  breaks my heart to trouble him and Bethany now — their baby girl due in about a week. Two weeks in St. Joe’s then home.

They visited me with my grandsons yesterday on their way to a friend’s Fourth celebration in Bel Air, and hung room darkening curtains in my bedroom —  Kieran was concerned that the early light woke me up.  I love them all so much. Don’t know what I’d do without them.  So many I met in hospitals without family support.

Another comfort — Kieran and Bethany’s friends Aaron and Kathy, took Angel into their home while I was away this time — my pet recently diagnosed with Cushing’s Disease, on meds twice a day, tomorrow due for blood work to see how they’re working. I love her so much, too, and am worried about her as I was with Honey’s diabetes..

Kieran just called to invite me to a cookout today.  Am foggy and shaky, but know it’s better not to be alone.  Feel like a weakling.  Here I am at 84 in good physical health, while friends my age are having health problems –Marilyn’s heart surgery tomorrow, Charlotte has a recurrence of cancer, Monty in the hospital again, Therese still with a blood clot in her leg and now a broken arm after a fall.

Have been praying and holding on tight to hope. Please remember me in your prayers. Thank you all for hanging in there with me till now.

 

 

 

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RANDOM RAMBLING

Still wasn’t ready to write April 1st. Have tried to post every month, but on the last few days it feels like “deja vu all over again,” as Yogi Berra poetically put it. I’m back in Queens College with a term paper due!?!

Sometimes it’s a slow slog to get the words right — they don’t flow as trippingly from my fingers as they do from my tongue,  often edit after publishing. Speaking of “deja vu,” if you have nothing better to do, see my Introduction’s new first paragraph (April 2011) and additions to “More Dangers, Toils, and Snares” (November 2015).

Now have a grand total of 42 followers — a select group after five years — but loyal and hardy.  Still can’t persuade many to take a look. Back when I began  I emailed friends and relatives about my venture — my brother’s wife immediately replied: “Bill and I don’t do blogs.”   When he called before they left on their latest cruise, I suggested he take a chance, “Be Brave,” I said.  But he reminded me: “Cyn  and I don’t do blogs.”

Am not into Facebook, so have been passing out business cards to people I meet along the way — luring ten more subscribers.  Remember the rich man in the Bible gathering strangers from the highways and byways after those he’d invited didn’t show up at his party?  As I’ve noted, this is a kind of therapy for me.  It’s a bonus if you smile or nod in recognition now and then. That said, here’s what’s been going on since March.. .

The “Downton Abbey” English Tea Party was delightful, though the promised “three course tea” was rather scanty — a three-tiered serving of scones, tiny sandwiches and cupcakes shared by about six guests.  But the final episode was completely satisfying, loose ends neatly tied up, most characters on their way to happily ever after.  I’ll  truly miss the Crawleys and their servants.

The Hogan’s St. Patrick’s celebration was wonderful — open house for babies up to grandparents.  Kieran, Bethany, Nolan and Jack drove from Baltimore, staying several days at Bethany’s sister’s nearby home. I’d flown there that morning. Was happy to see my nephew and his wife, Matt and  Stef, all the way from California. Tim served mounds of  corned beef, cabbage, potatoes, carrots — washed down with gallons of beer, wine and soda. A bagpiper played all afternoon.

The next day was sunny and mild, and we sat outside eating corned beef sandwiches, listening to Irish music, the children improvising step dancing. As Tim’s five-year-old, Caroline, held three green helium balloons, I playfully tapped one too hard, and we watched dismayed as they drifted high, caught in a tree, and floated out of sight. Caroline ran to her mother crying. I know it didn’t comfort her just then, but I said they might land somewhere else, make another child happy. She sniffled and looked thoughtful.     .

I’ve cancelled my trip to Ireland in June, realized  I wouldn’t have as good a time myself at this stage of my life as I did with Kieran and Bethany five years ago. Was so glad they joined me after three day in Dublin on my own. And Angel isn’t as spry as Honey was at nine years of age, pulls back on her leash when she gets tired  walking.

Besides, I’ve had to pay for a new hearing aid — the right one went missing — had already replaced that one under warranty  after Angel mistook it for a chew toy on my coffee table. And I need a new electric dryer — the old one died very inconveniently.

While mommy attended a speech therapist conference in Philadelphia, Kieran brought the boys here last Saturday –games and pizza at Chuck e Cheese; fun at home with books, toys, and a boisterous round of hide-and-seek; spaghetti with meat sauce for supper, vanilla ice cream and strawberries for dessert; baths and stories at bedtime. Among the memories  — in the middle of playing, Nolan suddenly looked up, announcing:  “I missed you Gramma.”

Sunday morning my domesticated son loaded the washing machine with sheets and towels.  Followed by silence from the adjoining appliance.  Picture damp laundry draped over door jambs and furniture for a couple of days.  Home Depot to deliver new dryer Tuesday.

After my family left, went to Mass, then drove to Towson to see the play “Detroit ’67,” presented by Center Stage, temporarily at Towson University while their Baltimore theater is renovated. A gripping story of a black brother, sister and  friends during the violence in that tormented city, beautifully acted and produced. Talked to a pleasant woman sitting next to me at intermission — she’s been enjoying Center Stage offerings for 30 years. I’ve subscribed to the 2016-2017 season starting in November.

On the national front, I’ve donated $100 to Bernie’s campaign and voted for him in the Maryland primary.  I’m more optimistic after his  winning streak, am weary of hearing Hillary is inevitable. It’s a gut feeling, but never liked her as First Lady, Senator, presidential candidate, or Secretary of State.  And here she comes again –the Energizer Bunny, beating her own drum.  The motley assortment of 18 Republican candidates has been winnowed down to three — Trump as strange as his hairdo, Cruz just plain scary, and Kasich seemingly sane and reasonable. I’d vote for him over Hillary if, by some fluke, he’s nominated at a contested convention.

Bernie is real,  and his plans are possible with grassroots support. What’s so outlandish about free state college tuition?  Queens College was free when I went there. Our country is heading in a disastrous direction, the middle class disappearing, the wealthy living in luxury, the rest waiting on them. “Upstairs Downstairs.”  “Downton Abbey.” My grandmother a maid in rich people’s homes.

More in May. Maybe.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

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SHORTEST POST EVER

Wanted to send a post by today.  But it’s suddenly the last day of the month again — time  does really fly when you’re having fun — even when not so much. But Angel and I are just back from another long, leisurely walk on the boardwalk at Havre de Grace on this balmy last day of March. Talk about going out like a lamb. And I’m enjoying a glass of Yellow Tail Riesling before dinner, feeling lazy and relaxed, not in the mood to update you on what’s happened since February 29th.  So you’ll have to wait till tomorrow.  No fooling.

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SMALL STEPS AND A GIANT LEAP

Since posting “Endings and Beginnings” on New Year’s Eve I’ve been living my life, counting my blessings, enjoying smooth sailing, and suddenly it’s  February 29th, Leap Day, last chance to post this month.  Am feeling very well — happy, hopeful and grateful — even a routine, uneventful day is delightful after navigating troubled waters. Yesterday, Angel and I strolled on the boardwalk at Havre de Grace, soaking up the sunshine, my pet attracting many smiles, children asking to pet her.

No physical or emotional ailments worth mentioning now, thank God. A laser procedure has restored somewhat clearer sight to my left eye, though the second trabeculectomy caused more peripheral vision loss. Have been weaned off Effexor/Venlafaxine for over two months — had been on that anti-depressant since my previous hospitalization in 2000.  Am keeping monthly appointments with an empathetic social worker for talk therapy, and eating more healthily, including foods rich in vitamins D and B complex.  But won’t ever give up an occasional Friendly’s Coffee Fribble — each calorie is decadently therapeutic.

Bethany and I had a lovely time at the “Downton Abbey” premiere of this season’s first episode at Baltimore’s The Grand Hotel on January 3rd. As I savored a glass of wine, she sipped water, mindful of the baby girl she’s carrying. And when Carson proposed to Mrs. Hughes at the end, I stood up, cheering and clapping with many others.

On the way there the Uber Driver remarked:  “You look stunning!”  (Of course, I tipped him well.) Dressed in a long black velvet tunic and skirt, my Aunt Betty’s cropped Persian lamb jacket with sable collar, my mom’s strand of crystal beads, and the high-heeled red suede shoes she wore  on her honeymoon in 1929, I felt elegant. Would have welcomed the Dowager Countess’s cane by the end of the evening.  And being with my grandsons afterward topped all that!  Kieran took pictures of me in my  finery for posterity.

Had a disturbing conversation with a niece, one of my late sister-in-law’s daughters, in early February.  I’d called about a possible family get-together in the spring, but when I wondered if her mom may have suffered from sleep apnea, she became angry,  then more so when I sympathized that one of her siblings had been troubled by their dad’s request for the family’s proper behavior at the wake and funeral — no undignified displays of emotion.  Soon after we hung up, my son phoned, delivering a long lecture —   he’d received an email from one of my niece’s brothers, complaining I’d upset his sister.

A few days later, I decided to treat myself to a weekend in Manhattan, driving to The LaQuinta Inn on 32nd Street — not yet pet-friendly — Dominique minding Angel. Arriving too late for the matinee of “Burial at Thebes” at the Irish Repertory Theatre, changed my ticket for the evening performance. Had a chill as I was ushered to the front row, where Peggy and I sat our last time there together. She had fallen asleep during the performance, as she’d done at another play the year before.

On Sunday, missed  noon Mass at St. Francis Church — the bellman wandered off as I waited for him to mind my luggage — so left earlier to visit my friend, Eleanor Glaser, at Sunrise Assisted Living in Lynbrook. Now 93, she’s more frail each time I’m with her, but still good, cheerful company. Never complains, but her aide told me she hardly hears from, let alone sees,  her daughters and grandchildren. Their loss!  And she’s always been  loving and generous to them, troubled by their difficulties, proud of their achievements, showing me pictures, beaming as she shared their milestones.

Took Kieran, Bethany, Nolan and Jack to a pre-Valentine’s dinner at The Dizz, a fun, funky restaurant near their house. John Waters of “Hairspray” fame has been known to patronize the establishment. “We’re all booked up,” said Elaine, the owner, when I phoned  for a reservation, but found a table for five, with two booster seats, when I teased her, saying I’d like to meet the filmmaker someday.  “He’s a good guy,” she laughed.  I savored a Grey Goose martini, straight up, with a lemon peel, waiting for my family to arrive. Much hilarity, in the meantime, as  Elaine sat down on a male diner’s lap.

Next Sunday afternoon, I’ll watch the last chapter of “Downton Abbey” at an English Tea Party  in North Bethesda for MPT patrons, then stay overnight at my son’s home. Can’t wait to get my arms around the boys again  Was disappointed Bethany couldn’t join me, but she’d committed to substituting as a speech therapist at Kieran’s nursing home.  I won’t be wearing the three inch heels, but had a shoemaker shorten them a quarter inch for a future suitable occasion. I’ll bequeath them to my granddaughter when my dress-up days are done.  This time may try for a more Cora look — feeling more spry than Violet.

Coming up:  Stacie and Tim Hogan’s annual St. Patrick’s party on March 12th in Natick, Massachusetts. Dominique again minding little Angel, thus avoiding the possibility of  being injured underfoot during joyous jigging. Will fly Southwest from Baltimore to Boston and return, staying overnight at the hosts’ house — my nephew claimed his three darling daughters, my great nieces,  would be disappointed if I didn’t.  How could I say no?

And am looking forward to another sentimental journey — On June 6th, the anniversary of my dad’s death in 1943, Angel and I will fly Aer Lingus to Ireland, returning  June 13th, St. Anthony’s Feast Day. Will be well protected coming and going.  We’re staying at a pet-friendly hotel in Rathmines, near Dublin City.– there happens to be an “award-winning” musical pub next door — my pet even welcome in the Beer Garden. Five years have flown  since  Honey and I traveled to Erin.  Who knows what adventures await Angel and me this time?

 

 

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ENDINGS AND BEGINNINGS

There’s not enough time left in 2015 to elaborate on all that’s happened since my November post.  Details next year.  Hang in there.

Spent four days in  Harford Memorial Hospital’s Behavioral Health Unit — Kieran visited me there on my 84th birthday  — in crisis after Dr. Sood increased my antidepressant medication. Now I know my persistent low spirits were caused partly by vitamins D and B12  deficiencies, as well as lingering shock after my dear sister-in-law’s sudden death in July — we’d assumed  of a heart attack or stroke.

I hadn’t connected the dots, but a caring social worker at the hospital called my son who told her I’d been even more upset after her wake, delayed six days by autopsy.  We had grieved with my seven nieces and nephews, Kieran’s cousins, standing next to each other along the far right wall, then with her husband, alone at her open coffin.  He volunteered that Peggy had accidentally drowned in the bathtub, he’d found here there when he came home from volunteer work that evening, tried CPR, and called 911.  Kieran stumbled as we walked away, and I put my arms around him.

A few days after leaving the hospital — smiling broadly, the social worker had announced  “I’m going to spring you” — I was afflicted by urinary tract  and upper respiratory ailments.  No trip to Pittsburgh with family for Christmas.  Still blurred vision in left eye.  Painful tendonitis in right hand. Had written newsy notes on cards and compulsively edited “More of My Story.” Thought it may be time to retire this narrative, and wanted to get last post right.

Transferred myself and voluminous medical records to new doctors: Primary Care, Ophthalmologist, and Gynecologist-Urologist. Had a peaceful, quiet Christmas with my Angel.  But first hoarsely belted out carols at beautiful Mass at St. Margaret’s, then ate Chinese food and went to the movies — timeless Jewish customs on December 25th, now being observed by many Christians.  Tendonitis healing  after wearing hand brace.  My odyssey will go on, God willing!

Life is good again.  Friends coming tomorrow  afternoon to toast the New Year and nibble what I like to call substantial hors d’oeuvres. Saturday  evening, while Kieran minds the boys, Bethany and I will be at The Grand Hotel in Baltimore, watching a preview of the first episode of the final season of  “Downton Abbey” — a reward for donors to public television. I’ll be stylishly dressed in tribute to Maggie Smith’s Dowager Countess.

Am staying overnight at my family’s nearby home, and Sunday morning we’ll belatedly celebrate our Christmas together.  Joyful tidings —  Nolan and Jack’s baby sister will be with us next year — the newest member of the Gallagher Clan due to enter the world in July.

I pray you’ll be blessed with a mostly healthy, mostly happy Year of Our Lord 2016.  And a hearty welcome aboard to my thirty-third follower who joined the crew in December. Stay brave. But don’t miss daily lifeboat drill on the main deck aft.

 

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