“My thoughts are gray and white…and cloudy”

Yesterday was sunshine and relatively warm. I got my roses pruned. We went over and had dinner with Grandma, then watched a couple of episodes of an old British sit-com she likes together. She was coughing in a way that didn’t sound good, but she’s had a cough for a while, it is a side effect of some of her medications (she swears she doesn’t have side effects and speaks of how they haven’t fixed it for her, it has gotten better and worse, but she’s had the cough for years now). They’ve been doing tests and trying various remedies for a month or so.

This morning it was cloudy and the nurse called and said Grandma has a fever and they are doing tests to see if she has the flu or a bacterial infection of some sort. Of course, if it’s the flu we’ve been exposed…as has an elderly friend of mine who we saw last night at dinner time. It feels like the clouds looming on the horizon, and overhead. Nothing one can do, just wait to see if it’s going to dump on you.

I live with ambivalence. Things aren’t black or white. Sometimes they are dark, and sometimes bright, and sometimes both at once. My personality doesn’t handle this well: I am an engineer by training. We figure out what needs to be done then find a solution. Chronic health problems that come from an aging body aren’t things that can, for the most part, be solved. Occasionally there is something that can be fixed. and often those can be hard to determine among the chronic things.

You can’t stop over a little rain; “you won’t melt” as I was told time, and time, and time again by the adults who wanted us to go outside and give them a break, including my grandmother.

Just like life in Seattle, where you will do precious little if you let a little rain get in your way, I can’t let Grandma’s myriad health problems stop me from doing things. They have become more frequent of late, it seems like I am always needing to check in with the medical professionals about this or that these days. Last summer we came back from a long planned vacation to Grandma in the hospital and a VA documentation nightmare. At one point she said ” you can’t go away again”, but I need to. Emotionally I need, desperately, to not be waiting for her to die for me to live.

Life is messy, and I know that with all the good advice in the world I would drift away from the regular discipline of study and exercise without the incentive of a practical reason to do them. I’d somehow find something else precedence. Knowing that they are needed for my general health and peace of mind is not enough.

So we have three trips planned over the next six months: to visit our son in China this spring, walking the length of Hadrian’s Wall in North Cumbria in June and our annual visit to Mount Rainier in late July.

These plans help keep me grounded and healthy. I study a little Chinese every morning (push-ups for my brain) and, in addition to walking the dogs (often “sniff” is a more accurate description than “walk”), I am doing Walk at Home workouts several times a week to stay fit enough to enjoy the walking and hiking planned.

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