Friday, March 24, 2017

Belated Christmas Wishes

Christmas Letter 2017

Things go a little more slowly here. My trips out in the car last summer were two and one of those was to a doctor (no changes to report). That’s not to say I don’t go anywhere. When the weather is warm enough, which for me means anything over 80 degrees, I go out in my wheelchair for what my caregiver and I call motorized strolls. We explore the alleys and slow streets in this little town and amaze ourselves about what people do or not with their backyards. Best of all, it gives me that all-important impression that, what with rabbit hutches, brown grass, small gardens and various unfinished projects, I’m not so very far from the country after all. I continue to regret that I haven’t figured out a way to live outside town so I could see sunrises and sunsets and still be close enough for caregivers and deliveries. I regret this especially after two boil water notices last summer! We’d all rather have our own wells at this point, after boiling water to do dishes for a week each time and me now inundated with chlorine fumes with every bath in my therapy hot tub, but I was already drinking bottled water anyway.

I continue to live in the house where mother’s and now brother's tenants still come to pay rent. My caregiver comes in the evenings. She helps with me and with collections but when she has to be gone, I still get to wait at the door and write out receipts! I just need a little more lead time to get there these days. I use a tidy hydraulic multi-lift to get out of bed and into the power chair, and there’s organization required -- pillows, blankets, tables and technology to be moved out of the way without getting dropped -- before I move myself. The fact is that when I do get up there’s nothing to do (at least at this time of year) except look out the windows (or talk to the tenants, of course) because everything I need for writing, reading, television viewing and even my meals (and bedpan) throughout the day is neatly arranged around my bed. I get up for the bath which is where I get my exercise, since water aerobics continue to be less difficult or dangerous (after two broken legs) than anything on land or standing, and I can be content on my Rojo mattress in my adjustable hospital bed on my own for 20 hours a day.

This is probably not where I imagined I would be at this stage, at this age, but it’s not bad. I am, after all, still living, still thinking, still writing, texting and talking on the phone! With all that still available, I get along without walking.

This was St. Patrick’s Day, or I should say St. Patrick’s weekend, and it seems sad to even use the Saint’s name in connection with what passes for a good time on this day, but there it is. I keep track by way of the police scanner on one of the several tables here beside me and because of that I know they relocated as many jail residents as they could prior to the weekend, rightly knowing that the place would be full again soon.
But at least I’m not in it, nor is my brother! And he is still walking, talking, driving and traveling. True to form, he doesn’t tell me much about his destinations, but I have learned, as with so much else, to be fine with that.

Thursday, March 23, 2017

When TV Makes Its Good Points

    I name things. Lieutenant Fancy is the name for my bedside multi-lift assistant because I'm a longtime fan of NYPD Blue, a 1980s model cop show (in which the Twin Towers are still standing tall) which is being aired again on cable.
    Lieutenant Arthur Fancy is the headman at the 15th precinct detectives’ squad and as such he is treated with earned respect by each of the distinctive personalities who fight crime from their singularly unfancy squad room.
    Modern American CSI criminologists pursue the same old bad guy story-lines as in the 1980's, but they do so from laboratories which broadcast crime scenes onto glass walls from cameras hidden in plain sight throughout their cities, with detectives who fly to terrorist trouble spots around the world carrying lethal “ready bags” from their lockers, and by way of car chases, justified shootings and major-league multi-national backgrounds in bombs and military training. In other words, impressive.

    NYPD Blue operates out of shabby, cramped and old green painted quarters with dial tone phones, typewriters, hard-used interview rooms and a single restroom for male and female -- they just knock first and keep it respectful. I’m more at home in that era, me and Humphrey Bogart, when I was also using typewriters and print film cameras.

    Basically I just like it when justice gets done, when right is not wrong, and the bad guys (and girls) get put in jail, in any era. I like it that Lt. Fancy helps me to fight the crime of despair by keeping me independent.

    But in the mornings what I look for on the good (and sad) side is EWTN, where we are currently mourning the passing of Reverend Mother Mary Angelica, 92, foundress of that world’s largest Catholic (or any other religious) news broadcasting organization.

    She was a Poor Clare cloistered Franciscan nun of perpetual adoration, which customarily means she would not have left her monastery -- as her sister nuns still don’t. But Mother Angelica burst forth, with the approval of the Church, at the age of 58, to take on the pagans. She had discerned a call to defend her beloved Catholic Church against the culture of death -- as identified by Pope Saint John Paul II, with whose tenure hers coincided -- and she built a television station on donations to make it happen. 

    There’s more to her story than simple vowed religious life (as if vowed religious life is ever simple); she lived in chronic and debilitating pain from injuries and illness which taught her, as she said, to use her suffering to cling to Jesus in prayer. She believed, as we are taught in Catholicism, that to “offer it up” to Jesus on the Cross means one's pain is used for the healing and salvation of all souls in need, including one’s own family and ancestry as well as those in purgatory.

    Along the way she founded an order of nuns for the continued prayer of perpetual adoration of the Blessed Host 24 hours a day and an order of Friars and Priests to serve the Catholic Mass broadcast four times a day by EWTN and as chaplains where the news is gathered from the Catholic point of view and delivered in print, by radio and satellite around the world.

    Those who knew her best testified (through their tears) during this last week’s memorials that even when she could no longer walk or talk, after a series of strokes in her eighties, her influence throughout the organization had remained unmistakable. They expect she will now continue to guide and direct operations to everyone’s benefit from heaven.

     Speaking for myself, we love her, we home-bound, disabled and otherwise sidelined citizens of God. We love it that she was healed at least twice, which she called God’s will, and that when she wasn’t healed she called that God’s will too, and surrendered herself to it, body, soul, mind and heart.

     She was as inspiring and indomitable an example of useful disability as was Saint John Paul II as he died before our eyes the slow death of Parkinson’s disease, also never faltering in his faith nor his obedience. We who depend upon the Church for our stability shall be forever grateful.

Wednesday, November 23, 2016

Horizontal Ruminations

    Now and then I hear a blue Jay announcing himself at the feeders or at the waters. The sound takes me back to the places I’ve been when I could walk and fly too. At the time of course, like him, I took my great life and good health for granted, always wanting more, not content with plenty enough. But now, if I walk again, a prospect I work on with water exercises in my deep water therapy tub, there will be a more grateful attitude. No longer the blue Jay, I'll be a meadowlark serenading the sunlight and all passersby from atop the fence posts. And if I drive again I'll go shopping for the folks who can't do for themselves, and I'll go visiting and assisting in the many unpaid ways I've wished others would do for me.
   But for now I watch the sunlight on the tops of the one big Cottonwood tree visible above my curtains across the street as it gains and loses its leaves, as the sunlight makes its move around the house and then slants inside, as the moon progresses across this upper portion of each window too.
    My travels these days, and only when it’s warm out, involve “strolling” in my motorized wheelchair down the back alleys and side streets of my home town with camera in hand. My caregiver walks alongside to watch for traffic and has started taking pictures too, which makes pausing easier. We did take one major journey out of town this summer for a doctor’s appointment (nothing new to report) but learned that having to use the multi-lift to get into and out of the car kind of takes the spontaneity out of things. One does not just decide, for example, to go shopping or out for lunch when someone has to get the wheelchair out of the trunk, hitch the multi-lift to the door hinge, get me into the sling and the chair -- a process which takes half a hour at best -- and then put the lift away before shopping can begin. Even if the store is worth all that the entire operation has to be repeated in reverse to get me back in the car. So we meet friends in the park for takeout instead and I stay seated in the car, door open to the party.
    At home I’ve had grab bars installed around my bed so I can pull myself along and I use reachers for stabilization, but it remains a challenge even here to figure out how to get into or out of the recliner chair – once a great favorite – on my own. Practice and assistance bars make things easier but for now I take no chances. Being brave to the point of foolhardiness is at least part of how I got into this predicament -- the other part being bad genetic luck combined with the lack of vitamin D or whatever else it is that lets multiple sclerosis get a foothold.

   The interesting new development is that even though I want more I also want less, at least in terms of lightening my load. A recent Church auction inspired me to donate a couple of truckloads of new or nearly new possessions, including kitchen appliances, chairs beyond the range of my multi-lift, fancy red purses I no longer carry and a fully outfitted picnic camper backpack, never used. The Church is grateful and I am thrilled to be lighter and emptier.
Next will be the shredding of papers, documents and manuscripts. Storage boxes fill up at least two walls in garage and storage shed because I had the idea hard copy was essential to memory. Now I know that hard drives are a lot less dusty and more manageable. I can retrieve old work (if I even want to) entirely on my own with the laptop, but getting it down from the shelves requires a crew and a week of good weather. Accordingly, and against the advice of many (now deceased) former writing teachers, I am letting it go. They didn't know about the cloud. They also didn't know that I would one day become a Carmelite nun, that I would want to clean up that old first draft history so as to not embarrass my Sisters in Carmel!
But now I'll be ready. The day will come and I won't have to say wait, I wasn't done editing.

Friday, August 19, 2016

From Movies To News, There's A Lesson


     Given that what I need is arranged each day on tables beside my bed which raises me up into a sitting position with food and computers close at hand it should come as no surprise that I make use of those quiet nighttime hours for writing and for Turner classic movies -- at least those movies which pass the parental controls established by my Priest.
     But even better for my sense of current human community is that the movies are interspersed, at least in my world, with real life drama about actual neighbors whose activities get reported by my police scanner. The police and fire rescue squads in our small town respond each week to calls for help from elderly men and women who have fallen, sometimes down the steps to the basement; to attempted suicides by young people, mostly boys, to reports of fights and/or domestic violence inside/outside homes and fast food restaurants and gas stations; and to grass fires started by a car in a ditch, by hay balers getting too hot and by lightning strikes too close to piles of bales or to a tree line --- or sometimes the strike just hits the plain old ground, killing nearby livestock. 
     In between those are calls from the nursing home for assistance in getting people to the hospital and then from the hospital to the rescue helicopter or to meet the airplane at the airport or for an ambulance transport to larger city hospitals for better, more experienced care.
     A few days ago there was a call to rescue a 65-year-old man who had fallen out of the tree he was trimming and was lying on the ground in, even according to the dispatcher’s carefully worded description, extreme back pain. But then a dispute broke out between two neighboring towns over which squad had jurisdiction over this fellow’s farm and the dispatcher was forced to repeat her distress call to the second town, and the guy on the ground had to wait a bit longer. 
     But bad as that was, it’s probably still better than the comment some guy made on air about the nursing home, saying, “oh we don’t go there anymore in the daytime; they have their own medical staff.” There was a small silence from the dispatcher, at that, and then she, after having probably checked with almost anybody else for a better answer, repeated the call for an ambulance, which was then sent without question. I like to imagine that the fellow who didn't want to go there lost his radio privileges and maybe a lot more than that forever, effective immediately.
     We don’t hear names nor do we get much in the way of ultimate results, but if we ask around we get all the information we could possibly want. These are, after all, very small towns in a very large county with a total population of less than 15,000 people. The word gets out.
     Once in a while we hear a funeral notice on the radio and piece it together from the calls for those taken from nursing homes with unstable stats, extreme weakness or excessive bleeding and it’s no surprise they might have died. But sometimes they also come back, to resume life. One fellow, somewhat younger than the norm, fell out of a tree and hit his head on the way down and was in a coma for more than a year, but now he is walking again and even riding his motorcycle -- not 100% maybe, but better than it could have been.
     Occasionally we get the rest of the story in a tight-lipped news report about the subject whose distress call we heard on the scanner who had been pinned under his vehicle after a rollover accident. We knew he had died. We could hear it in the voices of the dispatcher and the volunteer rescue team, all trying very hard to stick to the numerical script required for confidentiality in on-air transmissions. But when the speed and excitement of a possible life saved diminishes into the slowed down sadness of what’s clearly not possible, they can’t hide it.
     Sometimes it’s sad from the start, such as when a distress call comes in after dark from a witness who has seen a truck driver beating on his wife and kids in the cabin of the truck in the ditch. Even the dispatcher called it a case of possible domestic violence with children involved to give those first on the scene some idea of what they might find, and true to form, there was very little description of what they did find, nor was there much about charges or consequences in the subsequent news cycle.
     We who listen, in prayer -- we who can’t rescue anybody anymore, but can still pray for them -- could well imagine small children either huddled in a corner inside that truck or hiding in the cornfield nearby as their mother tried to absorb the abuse for their sake. All that seemed probable in the days following this and other such incidents is that since no charges were filed and no reported intervention was offered, the family probably moved on and the vicious drama would most likely continue until somebody, years hence, grew up enough to fight back for himself and the others. Of course the old bully could well be the victim himself by then, killed or imprisoned or abandoned in the Alzheimer’s unit, while the children keep on perpetuating his sins upon their own families, kind of in his memory.
   And even with all that, it still could be worse, as it was for the dispatchers and rescuers who answered a call last winter from a child begging them to stop her dad from beating on her mom. What they found when they got there though was not just a beating but a knifing, and blood all over the kitchen from the 20 stab wounds which ended the mother’s life. The dad in that case is still in jail pending a trial for murder and the four children have been taken in by another family, but the officers involved, and this town, may never be the same.
    So that’s kind of my summary verdict from all these sources of story, from movies to scanner to the news; human nature without redemption pretty much climbs straight down the ladder into hell, taking as many others with it as it can. I’m not sure this knowledge is especially good for my own psycho-social health but it does at least remind me of what I’m not missing by being widowed, disabled and otherwise isolated: not a thing.

Thursday, July 28, 2016


                          Green green grass of summer, amplified!

     My vacation crew for when Barbara is gone has happily expanded to include two new people and one old friend -- the old friend being Joann, my prayer partner and long-time assistant in food preparation. She has quite ably taken over the task of mixing a small jar full of prescription strength vitamin powders and others of digestive enzymes as she also packs my bedside food box each evening with jars of meat, vegetables and liquids for the next 24 hours. 

                                                               This is Joann

    Joann has a full-time job as a baker, a huge family of aunts, uncles, sisters and brothers, plus all their children and grandchildren and hers, but has cleared her calendar for me, for these three weeks, because she knows few others could or would want to manage my complicated kitchen. She'll be back on her days off for the Rosary.

     The second helper is Kathy, who refuses to have her picture taken, but she is an energetic and an accomplished home care specialist, with prior experience as a nursing home aide, jailer, roofer and farm worker and she has seven other home care clients besides me and at least four other houses to clean besides mine! And then, at the end of the week she spends her Fridays cleaning the courthouse. Busy as she is, she is the one who comes within minutes if I need something sudden, if the dehumidifier needs emptied, if I want something more from the refrigerator or if something important should be picked up off the floor (such as one of the bedside tables which inexplicably fell over as I was raising or lowering the bed). 

   She can do these missions of mercy because she is often either coming or going between clients or can leave and go back, unless of course she’s in a town 40 miles away, which also happens, but then she just shows up an hour later. In addition to all that I’m discovering she can trim trees, manage tenants, clean house and solve problems with the best of them. She is someone who will stay on staff even after Barbara, my primary caregiver returns, to provide much-needed respite.

                                And then here's Faith!

    This is the third member of the crew -- who will also stay on for as long as she wants to, or until she graduates from high school, of course. (When she's not fishing.) She doesn’t have her driver’s license yet and lives outside of town but comes to work whenever she can hitch a ride with her sister, mother or father. Her name is Faith and her family brings Communion to the home bound, which is how I first found her. 

   She was the one, even though the youngest of her family, who saw where my paper towels were stored and immediately mopped up the snow they had tracked in on my hardwood floor last winter. When I said, child, would you like a job this summer helping an old lady she said she okay maybe, and then her mother (who is a director of nursing at the nursing home) turned back at the door and asked what would such a job entail? And I said, oh probably some housekeeping and for sure help with work on the computer. Both nodded at that and said they’d be in touch. And so she was, as soon as school let out for the summer, and now she is here at least once a week ever since.

     She is helping to transcribe cassette tapes of interviews I had done with my mother and can do ancestry research way better than me, since she knows her computers. She is a quick study about helping to use the multi-left to get me in and out of bed and the Hoyer lift to get me to the bath and back. Moreover, she decided that I should enter some of the photographs I have on my walls in an art show at the local library where her work was also being entered! Then she came to select, prepare labels and transport six pictures to the show with her mother and father in the car. 

    In other words, this child is welcome whenever she doesn’t have camps in basketball, volleyball, track and field, Church or family togetherness events. Oh yes, and true to the form of her athletic family this skinny little girl also lifts weights!

     I should never worry.

                                New Jersey, in honor of Barbara

Monday, June 13, 2016


                                                        Me In The Mirror

Dubious Friends ask: So, Norma, how are you really?

Okay, well, these past months have been an odd mix of installing upgraded computer programs by way of both caregiver and tech (tech costs $115 an hour now) and then having to fix all the things that go wrong as a result of installing the new programs and then getting used to the new programs; getting a hospital bed and electric wheelchair installed and then getting them adjusted repeatedly so I can figure out how to adjust myself to them; moving everything from the New Jersey office in the garage into the house. (Yes, my storage areas are named after places I’ve lived, including VT and TX, so going there sounds like going there). 

Anyway, those treasures were placed into small plastic boxes and onto shelving units so I can not only see them but also use them as needed. Then my old desk system was moved into the south room facing the south window outside of which is a bird feeder and sunshine on good days and a view of the weather; which meant raising up the tabletop 6 inches so the wheelchair armrest can fit underneath; which also meant moving the big recliner which had been there into the north room at a nice angle to the other big recliner (which I may sell if I can get the price I paid for a brand-new heated and vibration equipped sleep chair which is still brand-new because the vibration disturbs my neurology). 

This now means that the prayer room is a dedicated room of prayer outfitted with devotional photos such as these taken from EWTN during daily rosaries and stations of the cross, printed out as a series of meditative portraits for my Carmelite life of prayer. 

The boxes of tape recordings made during the five years when I couldn’t type and before I got a dictation program and a computer which could use it have been moved to the south porch with all of the other radio, tape-recording and DVD playing equipment which is set up alongside the photo printers where I spend my time on sunny days no matter how cold (or warm) it is outside so I can open a door to air out the photo printer fumes.

That is also where the chiropractor comes to make adjustments to neck, shoulders and back and where I use the new transcutaneous electrical stimulation unit for pain relief, where the orthotics expert came to measure for new and better braces which fit into shoes this time, where the Priest comes to hear my confession and bring first Friday Communion (he has also brought Home Mass to the prayer room), where the deacon in training comes to discuss taking adoration to the assisted living center and some day to the nursing home, and organizing the prayer chain on email for those who have trouble answering their phones during the daytime, and this is also where my prayer partner and I say our Salvation Rosary if I happen to be up in my wheelchair when she arrives, or we say it from the living room where I am still sometimes in the hospital bed.

Dubious Friends: Whew. Those are long sentences. The point being?

Okay, this is all designed to help me finish The (six volume) Book on my own, without the help which is unavailable. My computer adviser says there is no program to do editing and organizing nor is there a way to make scanned pages fit with current word processing programs. He says nobody goes back 20 or 30 years to retrieve hard copy. He says the only way to do this is to edit the hard copy by hand with pencil like we used to do in the old days and then dictate it back into the computer by way of these new and updated programs. When I get that finished then I can call him to help figure out what the printer wants in terms of formatting. I am thus turned back toward myself for this second look at my life work and to take my time -- finally including what had been left out as well as more recent ruminations, dreams and discoveries. I am not to be hasty. My days these days in a wheelchair, needing the lift to get to the bathtub, needing help for the food, water and medications I no longer get done with reasonable perfection on my own, is teaching me that lesson.

Dubious Friends: Okay, but is dictation really the only way?

Um, yes. Having lost the ability to type, I use dictation as my only way to write and be proficient even if learning how has been as hard as any foreign language and as with any other language it works only by way of immersion. But for me help came from the state Commission for the Blind and Visually Impaired. In the beginning (as they say) I was not only unable to type but also to look at a computer screen or television without severe eye pain, which qualified me, even to the government, as impaired. This agency accepted my experience as diagnosis (equally unusual for bureaucracy) and not only provided a computer but also the right programs for dictation and for an audio screen reader. 

Moreover, they sent a trainer, a serious computer geek who took on my case as a challenge worthy of his talents, and he has remained my primary backup even as his kids grew up and he went into private business (hence the $115 fee), and even as I regained my vision by taking low-dose naltrexone, originally developed for heroin addicts but ironically useful for Lyme/MS as well. 

He has since helped download many upgrades for this same dictation program onto subsequent computers and laptops, working long distance by way of the messenger program, and it is still just as excellent. Another lucky side effect of that long-term connection has been that he was the one who helped organize and retrieve years of material from multi-generational computer discs, from 8-inch to floppies to thumb drives, from Ambassador to Mac Plus to Gateway to Dell. 

So when I asked if he had a program to help with editing such an archive and he said there was nothing better than the Naturally Speaking programs I already had, I knew he knew. And when he recommended that I print out my manuscripts in hard copy, do the editing on paper and then re-dictate them back into a file formatted for the printer, I knew that would also be true. A lot of the material I had scanned into the computer from previous older programs or even typewritten hard copy was impossible to format anyway. This will be a way to solve all of that, even if it is probably 6000 pages! I do have the time.

Dubious Friends: (silence)

I guess they'd rather not comment on that.

Saturday, May 28, 2016


                                                             Barbara, chief caregiver

     There’s this to add about the last few years, that having become a vulnerable adult in an able world, I must issue these warnings, this guidance and this appreciation, that without an able advocate, we are alone.
    For example, that first week in the nursing home with my second broken leg, there were the bedsores. And then there was the air mattress that got deflated so I wouldn’t fall out of bed during something referred to as the “bear hug pivot transfer.”  All I had after that was the foam rubber mattress my caregiver (notice, my caregiver) brought from home to place on top of the hard nursing home mattress I got as part of my package. 
    Oh yes, I did get the medicated bedsore patch without a quibble, at least nothing like the quibble over the boiled eggs I needed a doctor to authorize.  I asked my caregiver to bring in a dorm-sized refrigerator to provide familiar food, but then the door to that refrigerator had to be locked. (Nursing home rules). We were permitted a key.  So Barbara packed a camp box with ice to contain a day’s supply of the food, available on the table next to my bed. I was saved, though the aides still had to add ice.
    I also determined that a better solution than waiting and waiting for help with the bedpan was to organize my own in a plastic bag tied to my bed rail, with my shoe tied by its shoelace, so I could turn myself over to change the bedpan and the pad on my own. But that was our solution, not the nursing home’s. The nursing home just decided bed rails were dangerous and had to be removed! They did agree to wait with mine until after I was gone home, but what about all those others?
    We knew what happened to residents with no family members or caregivers to speak up or do for them. We could hear the shouting down the hall as aides berated residents for wetting their beds. We had to wonder, where were their diaper pads? Where was the training in compassionate care? Does a nursing home which collects $6000 per resident per month lack the financial wherewithal to keep life civil for its helpless and vulnerable residents?
   I never knew if the nursing home crew appreciated the fewer calls from my room. They were still irritated that they still had to clean up the bedpan and complained that my closed-door-room was too hot, that I kept my window open to the late summer and early autumn air. It was unheard of for anyone to refuse air conditioning, what I called the policy that sick and suffering elderly residents had to bundle up in heavy sweaters, risking pneumonia, just so the nursing staff, 40 years younger, could be comfortable. But it was my caregiver who figured out how to get those windows open, just as it was she who brought in my air cleaner and dehumidifier from home so I could ward off the colds in the corridor.
    A person has to fend for herself. Aides could attend to me after all the other 60 some residents on our wing had been gotten out of bed and been wheeled or “walked” to the meals and back, and then again after they were back in their rooms and back to bed, usually by 9 p.m.  However, aside from physical therapy and the occasional bath, and with my own food supply, I needed far less help. I was therefore to consider myself fortunate, which I mostly did, even if I never could walk right again.
    Most of the other residents, at least on the rehab hall, were stabilized by a gait belt around the waist while they walked in walkers and many, I was told, needed help eating their meals in addition to getting to the dining room and back. They also needed help with the bathroom even if they didn’t use the bedpan. More than a few had alarms which rang if they attempted to get up and walk on their own, and then the aides -- never more than two to a hall -- had to drop what they were doing (seldom less important) and run to that room to stop the calamity.
   Still, the director of nursing insisted the place was “fully staffed” even if she knew I knew that’s what she was paid to say by a corporation determined to pry every penny it could out of the business of warehousing our nation’s elders for its shareholders. What the aides said was that there was no backup beyond one of them agreeing to work a double shift when someone else was “out sick.” And when the college students who had been such good help left to go back to school, the only new employees were haggard housewives who had no other choices. The college students were there to discern a vocation in medicine and were thus eager, interested and bright; the housewives were beaten, tired and sick of people wanting more dirty work done and more beds made for poverty level wages. 
     In between times, far in between times, were the registered nurses who dispensed the medications and checked on the pressure sore patches. Few as they were however, those nurses were the only ones with real answers and actual information. One helped me more than she knew by explaining from her years as a surgical nurse that periodic sharp stabs of pain in a broken limb indicated healing was taking place, not worse breakage. From then on, I could handle it.
    But in general there is perhaps no more noisy or unhealthy place to live than a nursing home and I did everything the physical therapy department taught me to do to get out of it before flu season started and the real contagion spread. As I had learned from my mother’s hard experience, staff comes to work sick as a matter of routine, “if they value their jobs.” I was one of the fortunate few, as was my mother, who had a crew to help when we got home.
     We had learned firsthand what some of the nursing staff told us, that even when doctors and nurses went to the state legislature as a group to lobby for better conditions in nursing homes, they were outvoted. The business and of the nursing home lobby is apparently more powerful even than the professional medicine which cares for its people. This is demoralizing not only for we who live there because we have to but also for the doctors and nurses who have to obey the same unreasonable rules to get us treated. So we do our own research. We are grateful that standard medicine sets our bones and nursing homes rehabilitate our disabilities when they can, but we know their limits. So, we get online and find out what's possible even without a doctor's orders.
    And I do understand that the megadose vitamins, the genomes, the myofascial and essential oils pain relief and the specialized, home-based hydraulic lift are about as far from standard medicine as it is probably possible to get, and as uninsured by Medicare. But they help.
   My psychologist may sometimes hoot, my internist may frown now and then and the neurologist does point a severe finger, but my chiropractor and my Priest are strong support. And I have caregivers who are good and experienced mothers of grown children (and grandchildren) who know how to fix things and find things and even get on the Internet. So, despite MS, osteoporosis and old age, and for as long as my money holds out, I continue to do my best (God help me) to live happy, healthy and at home.