Sunday, June 30, 2013

A Rare Occurrence

A light breeze from the north stirs tree branches. Dappled light dances across the yard. The air is cool and fresh with the breath of the woods that embrace our house. The titmouse and oriole sing all day long.

This is the last day of June. Normally a strong south wind would be raising the temperature and humidity into the nineties. We would be closing windows and turning on air conditioning. Today’s beautiful weather is an anomaly to be relished. It calls to mind James Russell Lowell’s famous lines fom “The Vision of Sir Launfal:”

And what is so rare as a day in June?
   Then, if ever, come perfect days;
Then Heaven tries the earth if it be in tune,
   And over it softly her warm ear lays:
Whether we look, or whether we listen,
We hear life murmur, or see it glisten;
Every clod feels a stir of might,
   An instinct within it that reaches and towers,
And, grasping blindly above it for light,
   Climbs to a soul in grass and flowers…

Rarely do these lines apply to eastern Kansas. This day is a gift of an ideal summer day.

Copyright 2013 by Shirley Domer

Saturday, June 22, 2013

Tick, Tick, Tick

This is a banner year for ticks. Everyone I know has had at least one tick bite, maybe several. Deer ticks and dog ticks find their way into the house. Here’s a dog tick I discovered racing around the kitchen counter, thirsting for blood. Deer ticks are much smaller. We have those, too

Copyright 2013 by Shirley Domer

Friday, June 21, 2013

The Times Are A-changing

Don’t you love the television ads pushing one pharmaceutical or another? While the middle-aged couple dances, gazing romantically at each other, the voice-over is reciting the terrible side effects of the pharmaceutical that brought passion back into their lives. The four-hour erection warning is amusing, but the warnings for some products are horrifying as in “possibly fatal.”

My primary doctor is what some might call a “pill-pusher.” Her prescription pad is always at hand. She knows her pharmaceuticals backwards and forwards. Every time I leave her office I’m carrying written prescriptions and a paper bag full of samples. Having viewed a lot of pharmaceutical television ads, instead of stopping by a pharmacy to fill the prescriptions, I hightail it home to research side effects. Whoo-boy! Are they ever scary!

Sometimes I decide to give the pharmaceutical a try, only to find that it hurts my stomach, keeps me awake, causes my bleeding gums or makes me crazy.

Before my shoulder surgery I had to prove myself fit for the lengthy operation. This involved, among other things, a visit to a cardiologist for clearance. Having been conditioned to the prescription routine, I was dumbfounded when the kindly gentleman advised me to go to the Community Mercantile, our local natural foods cooperative, to purchase ubiquinol and D-ribose. He recommended three doses of several capsules of each prior surgery. I don’t think he had a prescription pad in the room.

Two weeks after surgery I saw the surgeon for stitch removal and checkup. When he and I discussed the nerve damage that occurred during surgery, he advised me to take 1,000 mg. of Vitamin C and 800-1,000 International Units of Vitamin E every day to facilitate nerve recovery. Again I was amazed to be sent to buy food supplements instead of filling a prescription.

Hey, maybe the times are a-changin’ and not a moment too soon. Unfortunately our health insurance covers only pharmaceuticals, not supplements. 

Copyright 2013 by Shirley Domer

Sunday, June 16, 2013

The Tattered Quilt

Dennis’ Grandmother Ward made this slowly-fraying quilt many years ago. The pattern is Grandmother’s Flower Garden, but I call it “the sick quilt.”

The sick quilt is reserved for use when someone has to spend a lot of time in bed recuperating. Its delicate qualities comfort the convalescent, as if it were smoothing one’s forehead, saying, “There, there, dear.” The old fabric is soft to the touch and easy to rearrange. It weighs little but holds warmth in its worn fibers. It drapes and readily conforms to body and pillow shapes, lightly resting, never weighing down. Its touch is a lullaby.

The sick quilt provides visual distraction from pain, drawing my mind into a world of soft color and shape. Its changing folds form kaleidoscope rhythms of light and shadow, folds and curves, and color juxtapositions across the bed.

The sick quilt speaks its own biography. It tells of frugality, patience, attention to detail, and the compelling desire to create beauty. It describes the hands that turned to needle and thread and the reverie of hand sewing after hard farm chores were done. Although I never met Grandmother Ward, her legacy to me is this comforting presence in times of healing.

Copyright 2013 by Shirley Domer

Wednesday, June 12, 2013

I Didn't Croak

A week ago I got a left shoulder joint replacement. It took three hours and I lost a lot of blood, but I didn't croak. The first night was just as awful as I expected, but the pain subsided by the next night. I quit taking pain medication. That was a relief because it gave me a fiercely itching rash.

I have to wear a torturous sling called an Aircast day and night for another five weeks. For several days I had no appetite, but that is returning.

Here's the bad news: I can't move my forearm. When my brain sends an order there is no response. I can move my fingers a little, but they are slightly numb and my thumb feels dead. I am horrified. What if this is permanent? How could I live? I would be totally dependent on others for almost everything. I couldn't cook or sew or even bathe myself.  Loving family and friends are giving me excellent care, but they couldn't keep that up forever. What's worse, I'm a lefty and my right hand can barely manage to put food in my mouth. It can, however, use the keyboard.

I'm very scared and almost wish I had croaked.

Wednesday, June 5, 2013


I'm off to LMH for shoulder surgery this morning. Wearing my arm in a sling will de rigueur for six weeks. Therefore, writing my journal won't be feasible for a while.