Oh the Valleys we Travel Through on our way to Heaven


It seems so right that I changed the name of my blog page to Who Am I, months ago. Why? Because anymore, I don’t really know who I am.

I know I am a child of God, but here on earth, I just don’t know. I know I am a mom to three and a grandma to several, but some days, I don’t feel like a good mom. I have one child who pretty much has disowned me, it seems. I have begged, pleaded, called and text but no answers are provided for me on what I may have done.

This has turned my health upside down. My blood pressure is now messed up going higher than lower. I am stressed with sadness that keeps my veil of happiness covered by blackness.

I have apologized, sat for hours wondering what I may have said or done without realizing it may hurt others. I am getting sick and I find myself wishing I was at the end of my journey here on earth.

I snap out of that thought though because I am not really ready to die yet. I even called my primary and neurologist and have spoken to both about this up and down blood pressure problem I am having.

I know that my diagnosis has been changed from Parkinson’s to probable MSA. This sickens me. Not so much because it will shorten my life; but because I won’t be as lucky as my brother was in having a sister to take care of him. I will go through this alone with God beside me; which means I am truly not alone.

Life has not been a bowl of cherries as of the past few weeks and I am grateful that Spring as officially arrived and I can get lost in my camera once again outdoors.

Oh the valleys we travel through on our way to heaven.

cropped-terry

Filling the Gap


Paul spent most days in a routine. He began by waking promptly at five in the morning. He read a chapter in his Bible then got dressed. In the kitchen he started his coffee maker and then stared out the small window while listening to the noise of the coffee perking and inviting memories to help set his day.

After eating a bowl of oatmeal with butter and honey, he tidied up the kitchen, grabbed his jacket and hat, then headed for the garage. He guided his car to the three blocks ahead, turned down the little, gravel path and shut the car off. There, he sat for however long it took to make him feel the comfort he needed.

His wife, Anna, had been buried here seven months ago this day. She had passed a way from a grueling disease. It was a long battle and they both had not won. It was a neurological disease called Multiple System Atrophy.

Prior to this disease, their map of life had been drawn by thick, dark lines. Travels to Arizona and New Mexico had been penciled in. Sights of a large cruise ship sailing along the waters was in the making.

Then, out of the blue, Anna started running into things. Her fingers began to have a tremor in them. It seemed, as Paul remembered back, that each few months, a new symptom arrived. He could remember her first fall, her first choking, the day she got weak while tending to her flowers. Everything was crystal clear now but back then it was a train traveling fast on the rails; a real blur.

“I miss you so much Anna. Life is definitely not the same. I now no longer dream of tomorrow. In fact, I tore up that map.” Paul waited, as if for a response from Anna on what he had done. Feeling nothing, he got out of  his car and stood in front of the flowers he had planted.  When the time felt right, he got back in his car and headed home.

Once home he let the noise of the television and the chimes of his clock keep him company. In the midst of this one afternoon, a knock at the door interrupted his thoughts. Opening the door, he saw his friend  Gene standing before him. He let him in and they both sat down in the living room.

” I haven’t been able to stop thinking about you Paul. I figured I would just come on by and pay you a visit. How are you doing my friend?”

” Oh, I’m fine you know. No new aches or pains. God let me breathe in a new day. I went down and visited Anna. I told her how much I miss her.”

“That’s exactly one of the reasons I stopped by Paul. There is this woman at church that I think could use your help.”

“Oh”, Paul said as he laughed,”I’m not interested in any sort of relationship. It just hasn’t been long enough. My mind is always on my wife, Anna.”

“Oh, I didn’t mean that kind of relationship”, he said as he slapped his hand on his pants with laughter. “I mean, she is hurting. She’s got some sort of sickness. She’s been feeling all alone. She says no one understands how she feels. I figured you are a sensitive man. Maybe you could just be a good listener. This would be a good opportunity to get yourself a new friend; something to add to your day.”

Paul didn’t say anything and Gene didn’t push the topic. Instead, they turned to the weather and what the week hoped to bring. After about an hour, Gene said it was time to go. Paul walked him to the door and they patted each other on the back. “See you in church Sunday.” Paul nodded.

The days went by and Sunday arrived. Paul got his Sunday clothes on, grabbed his Bible and headed to church. He smiled and shook hands with the greeters. He spoke about nothing important to others. He headed down the aisle to his seat he sat in each Sunday. There sat his friend Gene. Beside him was his wife, Gloria and beside her was a woman sitting in a wheelchair.

She looked at him and he at her. He nodded and sat down, thumbing through the church bulletin. The choir began singing and Paul sat and thought about what was being said. He listened to the sermon which was on people helping people.

Afterwards, there was a church dinner. This church had a carry-in every couple of weeks. It was a nice time shared among all. It gave purpose to the day and week ahead. Paul found himself sitting between this lady in the wheelchair, Gloria and Gene sitting on the opposite side of the table.

Talk was light. Smiles were shared. Gene introduced the stranger. Star was her name. Paul found himself watching her as she ate. She dropped food at times. It looked like she was struggling a little with swallowing. He wondered what condition she had that made her do that. It threw him back to his memories of when his dear wife did that too.

After the dinner was done, people either helped clean-up or headed out the church doors. For a brief time, Paul and Star were the only ones left sitting at the table. They exchanged words that would not be remembered later.  Soon the silence could be heard. Everyone had left. Gene and Gloria got their coats on and the two helped Star with her coat on. They helped her to their car and Paul followed, watching them help get Star situated.

Weeks turned into months and it seemed every Sunday a new routine had been formed. Paul sat with Star and the two opened up more and in time they became good friends. Paul would share his memories of his wife and Star would share about her life and medical condition.

One Sunday, Paul had been invited over to Gene and Gloria’s house for dinner. When he arrived and being let in; he noticed immediately that Star had been invited also. Paul didn’t get upset. Instead, he found himself sitting next to her on the couch. The two chatted while dinner was being finished. In face, the two chatted so much, Gene couldn’t help but smile to himself, knowing he had made a good decision on introducing the two.

The following Monday, after Paul returned from his visit to see his wife, the phone was ringing as he walked through the door. He answered it to learn that Star had fallen and was in the hospital.

He felt a tug at his heart that he didn’t expect to feel. He thanked the caller and went about fixing himself his lunch. This consisted of some left-over baked chicken and a half of a baked potato he hadn’t eaten before.

He tidied up and decided to go to the hospital to see Star. He learned she had fallen out of her wheelchair while trying to reach for something and this fall had caused a broken hip. After the completion of the ER, Star was transferred to a room upstairs for a few days of observation and to make sure she was healing properly.

After that time went by, she was transferred to a local nursing home for rehabilitation. Paul learned she would be their approximately six weeks. Now, after his usual routine of daily living, he also added the daily visits to see Star.

He brought her little trinkets that sometimes included her favorite candy, or a new book to read. He stayed most days until the supper hour. He found himself wishing he didn’t have to leave. Star felt the same way. She couldn’t hide the fact  from herself that Paul brought her friendship which included a feeling of peace and a lingering to have the next day’s visit arrive.

There seemed to be a lighter step in Paul’s life. He told himself over and over he didn’t love Star. He could love no other woman except his Anna, but yet, this new friend, stirred something within him.

After a couple of weeks went by, Paul made his usual visit. He entered the empty room. Where was Star, he wondered. He walked out to the nurse’s station to learn that Star had been having a temperature and her lungs seemed congested. They had her transferred to the hospital for further investigation. Paul thanked the nurse for the information.

He took the one rose he had brought with him and laid it gently on the pillow of the made bed of Stars. He left the building and headed for the hospital. When he entered, he asked what room number she was in. The receptionist told him and he took the elevators to the fourth floor.

There was Star. She was laying in a bed. IV’s were hooked up to  her. He saw two of them. A monitor was keeping track of her blood pressure and heart rate. Star wasn’t talking. She was so quiet it scared Paul.

A nurse came in and checked on Star. She smiled at Paul but said nothing. Paul pulled up a chair close to Star. He watched her sleeping. His thoughts turned to prayers to the almighty God. He felt a tear drip on his folded hands. He knew in his heart that he had come to know and love this woman.

He started whispering to Star. He told her how he felt about her. ” I don’t know when it happened dear Star, but some where along the way, I grew feelings for you. I hope you can hear me. I just have to tell you this because I want to know if you feel anything for me other than friendship.”

He held her hand but nothing came out of her mouth. He sat there for hours, waiting for her to open her eyes. Suddenly her eyes twitched and she opened them. She looked at him but said nothing. Instead, she squeezed his hand. He took this as she was answering his question, that yes, she felt something for  him too.

Paul squeezed her hand back and then kissed her hand. He beamed and the two shared an emotion that would never be felt again. Paul finally decided he had to leave. His watch told him it was time for supper. He leaned in and kissed her forehead and whispered that he would be back the next day. Star closed her eyes and went back to sleep.

Paul stopped at a small restaurant that served home-cooking. He ordered the special, meatloaf dinner. In this was a thick piece of meatloaf which included mashed potatoes and green beans. It was way too much food and he requested a take-home box for the leftovers.

When he arrived home, he turned the television on. He tuned in to some game show. He listened to it but kept thinking about what would Anna be thinking about Star. He fell asleep and was woken to the sound of the phone.

“Paul, I’m going to stop by in a few minutes. Get your coat and hat and be ready to go. There’s been a change at the hospital with Star. You and I are going to go visit her.” Paul hung up and got ready.

In no time at all they went through the double doors of the hospital and were standing in the doorway of Star’s room. Two nurses were in there. They saw Paul and Gene and hung their heads in silence. They took the white sheet and covered Star’s body then walked up to her friends and patted them on the back. “I’m sorry gentlemen. She just couldn’t fight it anymore. The infection in her lungs just got too big.” The nurses gave them a hug and walked out of the room.

Paul and Gene walked over to the bed. Paul reached down and felt Star’s hand through the sheet. He held it until Gene whispered ,”It’s time to go I think.” Paul let go of her hand and kissed his palm and transferred it to  her forehead. The two turned and left in silence, Gene’s arm around Paul’s shoulder, patting him, like everything is going to be okay.

 

Will everything be okay? Is death something that we can heal from?

Is it possible to love twice in a life time? 

Life sure doesn’t seem fair at times does it?

God placed us on this earth to learn and feel love towards others. For those of us who have experienced these feelings, we somehow manage to go on with our lives, but the void left behind never fully closes.

This story was written by;

Terry Shepherd

02/21/2019

Are You Ready Too?


It’s been a moving forward but slow last week. I pulled a muscle in my lower back. I don’t even know when I did it. Years ago when my daughter was born, which was in Germany, the doctors used the Spinal block for their drug of choice to deliver a baby.

Today, forty some years later, I can’t stand to have that spot touched. I’m sure Mr. Arthur has been settling in for a long-term relationship with me. I babied my back. I used OTC medications and my rice bag. I laid in bed quite a bit.

Yesterday, was the first day I could actually go through my day with only ten percent pain. It feels good to be back to my usual self. I am hoping that this week I will also receive a phone call stating my shoes will be ready to pick up.

With my Ataxia, it is  hard to stand steady and I will try anything that may help my feet. I hate that feeling that I am going to fall or the weeble wobble that my body does.

This week I will return to my volunteer job and there are doctor appointments and government meetings. I pray all will result in positive news.

The skies are something I wish I could change. The gray and brown colors are mainly what I see daily. Spring is coming though for us here in Indiana. Robins and Geese have been seen and these are good signs. Did  you know that Robins will not arrive back here in the mid west unless they are sure they won’t have to go a day without food? They are very smart birds.

I am so looking forward to greener grass, the smell of fresh air, the birds singing and watching the first flowers pop-up above grass levels. What about you? Are you ready for Spring?spring-season

We Are Here for a Reason no Matter the Age


As most of you know; I have been a caregiver for what it seems half my life. I have a deep desire to care for others. I like knowing that I had something to do with how they feel about themselves and life.

 

Since I have become disabled myself, it is hard to have to look at me as one who needs help. I received my Life Alert pendant and machine yesterday. It was very simple to hook-up and now I wear a companion around my neck. When I am cooking or taking a shower; it is nice to know that I really am not alone any longer. A push of a button sends help if I truly need it.

 

I help people on my Facebook. I try to continue to educate those with M.S.A., but I miss actually getting out and going to help others. We sometimes believe that when we grow older; life will really not change that much. The only one who could possibly change is ourselves in our health.

 

This isn’t true though. The people who we invite into our lives, their lives change also. Sickness comes, money problems, loss of some type; life continues on and this allows me to still be of help at times. I friend of mine is in a health crisis at this point, and once again, I am going to be able to help out with some caring experience.

 

I ask for prayers for my friend. Prayers for God to enter their heart. Prayers for healing. These are the two most important issues I can think of at this point. So if anyone believes in prayer, please remember me in them.

 

terry

The Long Month of January


Hello my friends. Well the holidays are over. No more stuffing ourselves with Thanksgiving. The change purse is dry from Christmas and now we here in the northern part of Indiana wait.

 

What are we waiting for? Well, some are waiting for the usual snow we have plenty of by now; but it  hasn’t arrived. I’m sorry, but for me, less is more. Now that I am older, snow is my enemy unless I’m sitting inside and watching the flakes fall.

 

There are lots of comments being made. No snow in December or January is a promise of over-load in February and March. I don’t know the future. I will have to deal with what is given me; but for now; I am fine.

 

January is the longest month of the year for me. It always has been. Maybe it is because it is long and boring. No real holidays in it. The back to the normal groove thing returns and the days tick down until a lot of people get their tax refunds. At this point of the government shutdown, who knows when those tax returns will happen.

 

I saw a post on my Facebook a bit ago which stated,”Count the Mondays.” I got it immediately. I suppose if you live in the southern part of the country,  you may not understand but up here, if you can count the Mondays in the long month of January, it will promise to get you closer to Spring.

 

February is a time when I will be thinking more of Spring. The farmer commercials will be posting on the television. This is a good sign that Spring is coming. I will be starting to watch for the Robins to reappear. When they arrive, it means that there will not be so much snow that they won’t be able to find food and shelter and Spring is near.

 

Animals say a lot about your weather. Have you ever watched the squirrels gather nuts for winter? On bad winters, you will still see the squirrels in early December, storing nuts. The Catapillars, the ones who crawl so slow and have beautiful colors, these creatures turn a dark black if our winter here in Indiana is going to be a vicious one.

 

As for me, I have been fighting something for four days now. I don’t have a temperature or aches and pains, but instead, I am nauseated anytime I eat. This circle includes a trip to the Ladies room no matter how little or much food I put into my mouth. I have lost four pounds in four days. I am glad I am experiencing this during our winter months.

 

I don’t get out much in the winter time. It’s too cold. Aged skin cracks and burns. Eyes sting, and the thoughts of playing in the snow are exchanged for will my walker get through the snow and ice. Here where I live, that is doubtful. There is not sufficient cleaning in the parking lot so there are many grooves of ice. I just don’t want to fall down at this point in my life. I do go out if it isn’t too cold or snowing and go to my volunteer job. I try to go twice a week during the winter and I will go at least three times per week or more in the warmer weather.

 

I didn’t go to church today. This matter of my stomach is just a little too much to deal with during a church service. I do have one thing to look forward to in the month of January, 2019. My daughter is coming for a visit. It’s been quite a while since I have seen her and am looking forward to a visit.

 

Another thing I am looking forward to is; my insurance is covering the expenses for me to have Life Alert for my falls. It will bring me comfort knowing I am now not alone here in the apartment, or too far away from a pull light, or definitely when I am taking a shower. It will be worn on my wrist and if I fall it triggers the alarm company. If I don’t answer the second chime, this tells the company that I am not alert. I believe from what the company said, is that I will receive my wrist band and plug in box in five to ten days.

I know this is not a big deal to most but for someone as unsteady as me and who lives alone; this can be a real life savor.

What about you? How do you get through the long month of January?

 

Look into the Depth


It isn’t what you see in front of you. It’s what you see in depth. A stressful time of year for most. Even the television ads push stress.

The whole idea is to stay calm, remain calm, even though you feel as if you are the topper on a spinner toy. How can anyone know how you feel? They don’t live your life. They don’t walk in your shoes.

While kiddies are getting pumped full of Christmas toy thoughts, some of us are stuck in the Sad lane. A loved one may have just passed or maybe a loved one is ill. Maybe there are people missing from the table this year.

Perhaps the family dog went to heaven, or there was a car accident a friend was involved with. Maybe there is gossip going on at your work. Anything is possible and so many things happen. We are eventually caught up in something that can take us away from our day.

The only way to get through our life tragedies is to have roots in solid ground. A faith we can fall back on. Words of wisdom, our Bibles, a close friend we can tell anything to.

When things look bad, don’t see the surface, don’t panic. Let your feelings go deep. Feel the depth of your foundation. Get into it. Let it slide through your soul. Tomorrow is a brand new day.

 

roots

I Guess I’m Worth It


Although I am tired and ready for a nap; I had to write a little. It’s an unwinding experience for me and also; did anyone ever tell you I’m a chatterbox? No? My mother and grandmother said I was always a chatterbox when I was little. They said I was dutch too. I guess I didn’t talk too clear.

 

Anyways, today was a trip to the same doctor twice. I went this morning to have blood drawn. I just got back home from my second appointment where we discussed the results of the lab work.

 

I was shocked when my sugars had come down actually a whole number. I don’t know how that could have been since I have struggled the last three months to keep the numbers in tow.

 

They rise so  high in the afternoons so the doctor split up my insulin shots to one in the morning and one at bedtime. Same dosage; just split in two different time frames. I ate a lot more ham salad and eggs this past three months and that showed. I guess no more ham salad for a while. My sodium went up a little. This must be from switching from Sea salt back to regular table salt. I will get the Sea salt next time I go to the store. I just hate paying so much more for it over regular table salt; but I guess I’m worth it.

 

My cholesterol was up a tad but I know that was from too much ham salad. Everything should come back down to normal on my next visit. The only things that he couldn’t fix was my burning headaches. He said those are from my Ataxia. The sore varicose veins, which he said are from my legs working so hard at walking and not falling. He said if they get so bad I can’t stand it; compression stockings.

 

Oh, I hope that doesn’t happen. I used to put them on my patients a lot. I would have to sprinkle baby powder on the legs and then roll them up on my hands and then slowly squeeze them on the patient’s legs. Whoa, what a job. I think it would be much harder to have to put them on my own legs. I would bend over and then fall. Thinking positive thoughts that this doesn’t happen for a long time.

 

I always eat breakfast out when I had blood drawn. I am starving by the time I get out of the doctor’s office. I went to my regular place and was shocked at the prices. I can see paying top dollars for a fine meal, but eggs and toast, almost 9.00? Nope, gonna have to find a cheaper place next time.

 

Now I’m tired and I am ready to get out of dress-up clothes into comfy clothes. It is chilly outside, a sunny day but windy. A perfect day to stay in and do nothing in particular. You all have a good Wednesday evening my friends. Talk soon.

 

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This Could Be You


You have been a part of the family your entire life. You know which ones you look forward to seeing and which ones to hide from.

Year after year you spend holidays together. You know the routine, then one year; everything changes. Uncle Ray passed away. Aunt Betty is now in a nursing home.

The cousins you played with are all grown and go to their own holiday gatherings. The big, oval table looks smaller. The laughter not quite as loud.

Some of your favorite foods are no longer there. Yes, life certainly changes doesn’t it?

Then the next year you go, a bigger change than ever has happened. Your favorite Aunt Sue is different. You don’t know what happened exactly but something sure did.

She repeats herself over and over. She wanders the familiar house like she has never been in it before. She walks up to me and ask me my name. I say,” You know my name. It’s Bill. Remember? You used to call me little Billy.”

She looks at you and nods her head. She wonders off and in less than ten minutes, she is back, asking you the same question, “What’s your name?”

You soon find yourself walking to another room when you see her coming. You feel guilt because you love her so much, but my gosh, she’s asked you five times who you are.

By the end of the day, you learn that she has Alzheimer’s disease. You have heard of it but don’t know much about it. When the holiday is over you return to your own home.

On the next free time you have; you research this disease. You find ways to interact with your Aunt. You give a donation to the foundation to help find a cure.

On the next holiday you seek her out. You go to her and put your arm around her. Looking her straight in the eyes you tell her hello and how much she has meant to you all these years

Written by,
Terry Shepherd

This disease can strike about the same time you are thinking about your retirement years. It’s a sad disease to watch and you can feel very frustrated and emotional watching your loved ones go through it. The best thing to do is not get angry. Don’t argue with the patient with this illness. You will lose.
Give a donation and help find a cure.

 

 

One By One


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I was really surprised that I received a phone call from my Orthopedic doctor yesterday. This goes back to last month when I went to see him about my toes curling  under and my unmistakable weeble-wobble.

Medicare does not generally pay for something when it doesn’t pertain exactly to my disability issue. Inserts for shoes have been taken away by the many cuts in Medicare. Now my feet have to look deformed in order to get help. I don’t know about you but when my toes curl under; they look deformed.

Well God answered a miracle once again. The inserts are going to be covered by insurance. No, they won’t help me stand-up longer but they will help balance out the bottom of my feet and hopefully help keep my toes from curling under.

This is one fight I have won. It doesn’t mean the disease won’t win in the end. What it does mean is I am climbing over stones; one by one.

The Face in Reflection


One of the worst things I hate about where I live is the constant signs of death coming. When I lived outside of this retirement center; I lived for life, for being happy, for being able to move the knowledge of getting older aside.

 

There are over eighty apartments where I live. There is no way, unless I was blind, that I don’t see aging here. There are wheelchairs, walkers, canes, limps, falls, slow movement, sitting, gray hair, wrinkles.

 

Get the picture? You can’t escape this scenario and you can’t forget the fact, we are aging. What makes it even more concrete is when you hear the EMS and sirens. I know, someone has fallen or worse; died.

 

In the past week here; two have passed on to  heaven. Once again it is pounded in my brain; I will die too, but not today, hopefully.

 

I was sitting out back on the bench, waiting to take a photo perfect for this story, I knew I would write. The trash disposal dumpsters are out in this area. I looked at it and saw many pieces of furniture. There were miscellaneous items of household goods too.

 

Someone came out and I asked if there was another case of bed bugs and the furniture had to be thrown away. The reply was,” No, that belonged to the lady who just passed.” My heart instantly sank.

 

You see, living here, I know most of the people. We chat and eat dinners together. We share our feelings. I have helped her with medical issues in the past; so there was a connection.

 

On the other side of the coin, there are the rules of this building. If someone passes away, the family of the deceased may have rent to pay, according to how long the deceased’s belongings are in the apartment. The family has two weeks to get rid of all belongings of their loved ones and if it runs into the next month where rent would be due, the family has to pay for that.

 

On the emotional side; it killed me to see her belongings out in the trash. It killed me harder to realize my friend had only passed away twenty-four hours prior. Oh, I know the rules but Lord, to get rid of her things so quick made me feel like I am to pretend she was not here.

 

It is the way it is, I guess. It made me wonder what will happen if I don’t get the opportunity to move out of here, what will and how quickly will my belongings, the things I cherish the most, will be gone from where I lived and breathed.

 

Well, the photo I was waiting to capture for this story or post came in my view. A lady who lives here walked out the back door and down the ally. I captured her and when I looked at the finished photo; I saw my face in the reflection.

 

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