Tuesday, November 29, 2011

Bowel Program

Most of us don't talk about it much, unless with our very good friends, and then it's rather clinical and nutritionally based.  It's quite important, however.  Too bad there's such a shame stigma about the poop thing.  Most of us have a poop memory that just sits there, on our minds, and we not willing to really face it.  But the truth is, when it goes in, it's gotta come out. If it doesn't, well then, there's a real problem.  What most of us don't do is really think about it, we just do it, take care of it privately ourselves and then walk about the rest of our day as though it didn't happen, or at least wasn't that important.  Not really much that is more important. 

When Jed was in rehab the nurses made a big deal out of the "bowel program."  Program?  I was a bit confused.  Me, coming from a music and teaching background, a program was something we invited people to and celebrated.  I can see her face still, the night nurse smiling happily as she put on her gloves and pulled the curtain around Jed's bed.  "I will do the bowel program tonight....,"  leaving me to wonder just what was going on behind that curtain.  

So, here we are more than two years later.  I know stuff now.  I probably knew it then, but that old "shame stigma" just didn't allow me to think about it in any constructive way.  Bottom line (joke, bottom) is that a healthy body needs to poop on a very regular, if not daily, basis.  Now how do you do that when you are a quadriplegic and have little or no feeling in or about the bottom line?  With help.

Now we have a "bowel program" daily.  If this is not the type of thing you like to read, sorry, but this is our life.  Take stalk of the beauty of your body and the comfort with which you manage your private poops.  Jed's body still needs to poop, so we have a program.  He can't really feel when he needs to go or when he has gone for that matter, but bodies are predictable so if we do the poop thing at about the same time each day, well, his body just remembers what to do.  But we have to remind the bowel of  it's job each day by giving it a suppository and waiting to remind the body of it's purpose.  It has a simple beauty of it's own. 

The bowel program takes about an hour each night. About that of any good program, huh?  Suppository, wait, transfer, wait, clean, transfer, clean up.  Sometimes I just think, "please not tonight, I just can't tonight," and then I'm reminded that the program is set, the body has remembered, and Jed's health depends upon this program to not only happen, but be successful. 

We don't talk much during the hour, but we both value the other.  When you stand at the alter and say "I do" to "for better or worse" you just don't think about this kind of thing.  This has to be very hard for Jed.  He was always a very private man.  None of this door wide open stuff for him, and now everything's wide open.  He often asks for small favors, like a shade pulled or a blanket on, "to protect my dignity."  But we both know that this is a health thing, not a shame thing or a dignity thing.  It's a necessity.  And so the marriage vow increases in power.  That fresh love grows more powerful with time and circumstance.  There's lots of things I would hope to never have to do, but when you are put in a place where you do it or lose something very valuable, it's a no brainer and becomes okay, just part of the program. 

Friday, November 25, 2011

Thanksgiving Memories

Growing up on the farm set the stage for loving Thanksgiving.  The harvest was in.  The cattle back from the South pasture, the crop was celebrated and tucked neatly away in bins and storage places.  The midwest weather was somewhat predictable...snow was coming and it was time to hunker down.  So, all the animals were housed for the winter.  All the corn was picked and ground up to fatten the cattle.  All the cucumbers were neatly stuffed in jars to become pickles, and all the family gathered 'round the piano.  Childhood memories.  Sketchy.  Wonderful. 

I grew up and moved away.  Thought something better was out there.  Little did I know.  But, on Thanksgiving, everybody came back.  My parents made it wonderful.  Mom in the kitchen making pure magic.  Dad on his machines showing the children wonderment. 

Many Thanksgivings blur into one wonderful memory.  Dad on the tractor pulling a wagon of family.  Everyone.  The Corporate Vice President, the business owner, the music teacher, the California queen.  All them and their bitty ones too.  We all climbed in the wagon and took a ride.  Great grandma had to be lifted on.  Round and round we would ride. "Over the river the through the woods..."  There was no real river and no real woods, but the flavor was there.  We rode with joy over the hills of the land that was ours. 

The children connected.  They connected to who they are, where they came from, where they were going, and who rooted them.  Those children are now adults.  Most have children of their own and are giving them their own version of the grandpa wagon ride. 

Farm heritage is dirt blood.  It's real and complete and will grow in the soul like a seed in the dirt.  It's good.  Sometimes hard, but good.  It's very close to God.  God and dirt flow through the farm girl's reality with fluid exchange. 

So, that's why I get teary on Thanksgiving...because I've been so very blessed and this day reminds me of  wagon ride experiences. 

Years have passed.  Mom's magic stopped suddenly almost 30 years ago.   Dad's more recent, but the heritage, the connect, the knowing, the dirt knowledge, the corn power, the hills and the hunt, they remain. 
I am so very thankful for the family God gave me, for the one He gave my children.  Thanksgiving brings tears and laughter and joyful memories. 

Today was different, but lovely. Jed and I had a day to ourselves.  I made soup.  That makes me happy and connected to family.  Margaret brought us a plate of turkey and all the trimmings and we sat in bed and ate her deliciousness.  We practiced standing and then went outside.  Built a fire on the deck and talked to loved ones.  It was nice.  Wagon rides are those kinds of things that happen without knowing how treasured they will be.

Tuesday, November 22, 2011

Giving Thanks

We set aside a special day.   A Giving Thanks Day.  We, being USA, and I think, Canada too.  We set it aside to celebrate who we are.  Where we are, and who we have in our lives.  So, here is my Giving Thanks Letter. 

Dear Everyone who has ever touched our lives,

 Here it is 2011 and I'm 63 years old.  Jed just turned 72.  As I write it, I find it shocking that we are that age, but we are, and we have cumulative 135 years of knowing people and doing things which have brought us right here where we are.  And that's what it is, knowing people and doing things.  People from our childhood, people in our family, people we've worked with, people who we have passed by or noticed, people who have worshiped with us or fought with us, or divorced us, or made love with us.  Jed got a phone call this very day from a childhood friend who is dying of cancer.  The memories flowed and the chest welled up. 

I have flashes of people I've noticed and never spoken to:  the legless/armless woman who breathes into a tubed wheelchair to be a part of the world, the bedragled sheep herder in Idaho, the many weary  road sign holders who smiled and waved us on.

I wonder about people from long ago; the childhood friend, the college diva, my first principal, the professor and the typing teacher.  All these and the thousand others have molded me.  I honor them on this Giving Thanks Day.  My brothers, parents, assorted family...some quite lovely, some very interesting and some downright remarkable. Kids and grandkids fit here.  And then there's the friends.  The stick to you like glue friends that no matter how much time goes by we're familiar and warm.  We're forgiving and accepting.  We know the truth about one another and love in spite. 

On this Giving Thanks Day I honor them all.  It has been them who have made me me. I wrote a song for my daughter's wedding.  Some of the lyrics say, "If you've ever pondered the ways and the wonders of why we all do what we do, then surely you're touched by the mythical magic, this love has been blessed by you."  I'm into that...the ways and the wonders of why we all do what we do.  I've pretty much decided it's simple.  We  do what we do because of the people who have been in our lives.  Jed and I have been blessed by amazing people. 

So, on this Giving Thanks Day, I give the thanks to God for passing these people through my life, or me through theirs.  It's been a lovely ride.  One I hope continues for years and years. 

The stuff that we're doing now is made bearable by the reality of the people we know.  The standing practice, the pain, the pills, the walking effort, the practice, practice, practice to do basic things like brushing teeth and eating.  It's okay.  It's very easy to look at what we don't have.  And with us, it's arms and legs.  I've been a little teary lately because I so miss who we were, Jed and I.  But, who we are now is quite amazing.  It's amazing because we have amazing people tugging at us and pulling us through.  Some are therapists, some are neighbors and family, but most are friends.  We are very blessed.  Amen.