Red Shoes, Blisters, Mom

I am fascinated by shoes, especially since I have mobility issues and can’t  wear what I want.  Now I do have my fashion fetishes  though shoes are not one.  That was my mother’s.  She thought of herself as an Imelda Marcos of shoes.  Couldn’t walk past a shoe department.  If I had anything, it was probably the irresistible lure of flip flops.  Still, certain shoes have marked certain times in my life.

I hate now that I have to wear flat, primarily oxford shoes.  My goal is not to look orthopedic or old.  This winter I bought a nice pair of metallic  slip ons at Clark’s.  Normally, this might be a Sunday afternoon jeans kind of shoe but it’s my alternative to my shiny black male bankers shoes.  It’s been comfortable in the winter.

Another factoid about me.  I like to go shoeless and barefoot.  Years ago, I worked for a man who said, “Sweetie, I pay you enough to wear shoes.”  I was known for being in meetings and taking them off.  I used to have really tough feet too due to going barefoot all the time.  The one place I really perspire is through my feet.  So, I never wear hose with shoes, if I wear shoes when it’s warm.  Things have changed and I cannot leave the house without the spectral leg and hence the ugly shoes.

I had interviews with three companies over two days in NYC this week.  In the past, these would have been in great locations and all walkable.  And it was in the 80’s.  Technically, according to my doctor, I am not supposed to be in NYC in that kind of heat.  On Monday, I had to walk 2 blocks and a bit to my 2nd interview.  Caught a cab back to Penn but walked a little further than normal.  I had the beginnings of a blister, the Clarks with no hose.

The other thing that has been happening with this new spectral leg is that the bottom of my foot burns.  It feels as if it’s on fire.  I can’t take the shoes off by myself.  Well, actually I can take them off, just can’t put them back on.  This adds to the irritation as I try and wiggle them around.

Back for the second round on Tuesday.  I don’t want to look too formal but because it’s an interview I can’t wear the gladiator sandals that work with the spectral leg.  Back into the Clarks with bandages.  By the time I get off the train I realize this is not working.  Ever resourceful, I try to shove lidocaine cream and tissues into the shoe.  I have long nails so this isn’t primo either.

The interview is on Broadway, literally a block and a bit from Penn.  However, I don’t want to arrive staggering.  Due to blister I miss the bus and have to stand out in the hot sun for 8 (I counted) minutes.  So, when I take the bus one stop and have to cross the street, it’s not going well.  I then interview with two different people on two different floors. What do I do in the waiting room?  I lust after the other people’s shoes. I see someone with red -soled Louboutin’s.   A beautiful  flat  strippy  sandal.

There is no bus the other way and it takes me almost 40 minutes to walk the block back.  A businessman on 32nd Street asked me if I needed help and when I said “no, one step at a time”, he told me I was still pretty.  Being vain, that brought a smile to my face.  However, by the time I started to cross 7th avenue, I needed help.  An homeless veteran helped me the last few feet and one of the sightseeing bus hawkers helped me to the escalator.  I missed my train but continued to stagger through Penn.  Walk ten steps, rest 30 seconds.  I made it to the wall of the police substation.  They noticed and an officer let me sit on the bench inside.  It helped enormously.  Staggered to the train and then down the two flights of concrete stairs to the car.  I did not cry.  Just kept powering through.  Tom nearly cried when I got in the door and took off my shoe.  He wouldn’t even let me get off the chair for an hour.

My foot is a swollen, infected mess.  I did well on the interviews despite that.

This brings me to a memory.  I lived almost two miles from high school and I hated it.  I did  frequently what I am known to do.  I walk away.  Well, now I really can’t but voting with my feet is the way I have handled my life.  So, I used to literally just walk out of school.  Sometimes, I’d go back.  I was also brought up to be my own person and not go with the crowd.  But high school is still high school.  I bought a pair of red suede baby huey shoes for $3 at Thom McCann.  This was huge.  My allowance at the time might have been $1 a week.  I am also my grandmother’s child.  She was a precursor of the “It’s better to look good than to feel good” school of thinking.  So, I wore my hard as rock red suede shoes with a fine wale lavender corduroy pant and lavender Missoniesque body suit to school.  Decided I didn’t want to be there and left.  Halfway home I felt hurt.  Pre-cellphone plus I was cutting school.  Arrived home and my gran and dad were horrified (Ma was at work).  The hems of my lavender pants were red and matched my shoes.  Not only had I burst blisters but had gone almost to the bone..  I literally couldn’t go to school for three days.

Which brings me to me and Ma.  She always told me she had a high tolerance for pain.  She said childbirth  was vastly overrated.  She used to have her teeth drilled without Novocain.   And the implication always was that I couldn’t.  Yet, look what I have done even going back that far.  I just sucked it up and kept on going.  I do deal with pain and uncertainty.  I need to acknowledge I am brave.  I keep on going and ignore the inconvenient.

On the down side, I was practically in tears going to Penn this week.  I used to walk to midtown in a third of the time it took me to walk one block.  I HATED looking and acting like the fragile elderly.  I REFUSE!

Sliding on a Sunday Morning and Reflecting

t’s a slightly dreary Sunday, rainy.  We usually sleep till  around 7:30 a.am.  Tom got up at 6 to go to the bathroom, triggering the same in me.  I tried to getup but couldn’t sit up.  I need to pull myself sometimes with sheets.  I asked Tom to give me a push up.  No problem.  Then when  I tried to get out of bed instead of standing, I slid gracefully to the floor.  This is usually not a problem.  I  stand up like a toddler.  I grabbed the edge of the bed.  Not happening.  Tom wanted to help.  Sometimes, when I need to get out of the tub at night, he has to come in and help me bend my right leg so I can stand up.  “I need you to do the same thing as you do in the bath.”  He comes over, pulls my leg up and as soon as I try to pull the other one, the right collapses down.  We do it again and this time it jumps uncontrollably and collapses again.  One more time and the leg is jumping up and down even worse.  The first time this happened was in my neurologist office.  I swore at the time it was something he had done to me.  It happens periodically when I get dressed in the morning.  I usually just put my hand on it and stop it.  Tom says, “Isn’t this why you take the Baclufen?”  No, that’s for the spastic thing I do where my body tenses up and I walk like a Zombie.  It’s been happening more the last few days.  Nerves, I thought.  So, Tom pulls my right leg up again and it’s out of control and he has to press it to stop it.  Think of a tuning fork.

He has to walk me to the bathroom.  It’s only 10 -12 feet.  My issue becomes that sometimes in the morning I have problems getting up in the bathroom.  I don’t want another set of grab bars.  It’s insidious defeat.  Every once in a while which is mortifying I have to ask Tom for help.  This morning we anticipate the worst.

Now, I have to call out to my fellow blogger BBH with MS ’cause she discusses bathroom issues frankly.  Let me describe my situation this way: It’s like I can turn on the faucet and most times I can turn it off but sometimes I can’t tell if the tank is empty.  It pours out of me, that I feel, and then it just keeps on dribbling and dribbling.  Mind you when this started this morning, I was in a cozy sleep.  We had just changed the sheets to the high thread count Egyptian cotton.  It’s like sleeping in a lovely cocoon.  Well, that’s done. Luckily, I can stand up by myself in the bathroom.   Tom helps me get back into bed.  My right leg feels totally numb.  And this is the moment he decides to be amorous!  Are all men adolescent boys?  The only thing I want is to get feeling back in my leg and salvage some sleep.

Which brings me to reflection which may have brought on this whole spell.   Yesterday, I opened Facebook and it let me know I had a memory.  Did we remember before Facebook?  I had posted a picture of Jeremy’s college graduation picture with us five years ago.

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So, a couple of things:  I am relatively tiny in this picture.  I always think of myself as tall and huge.  The next thing that hit me is that this was on a grass field.  We returned early from our vacation to attend.  I had walked on the beach and felt normal.  It was a glorious moment.  Yes, it took me a bit longer to reach our seats on the grass at the graduation but I was walking without a cane and without the spectral leg.  Again, the deterioration has been insidious.  I am told I really haven’t deteriorated.  REALLY?  Ok, so I am grateful that I still can get around but this is so far from alright.  It is not alright!!!   Back to fighting and clawing back, one step at a time.

May 2016 Check In

How did I feel this past Month?

On the blue side, with ups and downs.  The job thing is destroying me.  I get interest and interviews and then I crash.  April marked 6 months out of work.  It is now going to get even harder.  Yes, I am a mature woman with a gimp, a very stylish walking stick and not cheap.  On the upside, I connected with Meg’s blog http://www.bbhwithms.com/

Her blog is a must read and has given me so much hope.  It’s great to know there’s someone else out there.

I am reflecting on how I got onto the wrong track or the track I didn’t want to end up on in my life.  I walked away and now I can’t walk.  Something to ponder.  So, how much of my job situation is attributable to me.  Some, I think.  I became just a tad complacent.  I am looking back in order to move forward.  I feel time catching up with me.  It’s finite.

What did you do for yourself this month?

Still playing arts and crafts.  I did take a finger knitting class.  The only other attendee was a great grandmother who bent over and accidentally mooned the whole store.  I am reading more which gives me joy and peace.

I also have started playing with more smoothies and a reset detox.

What did I eat this month  and how did it make me feel

Well, a definite emphasis on smoothies.  I expanded my repertoire.  I also did a Simple Green Smoothies Thrive  reset hoping to get me back on track.  I definitely deflated.  I couldn’t eat all the food as I was too full.  I paid no attention to the different autoimmune diets but it covered the bases – no sugar, no gluten, no caffeine, no dairy, no meat.  I could definitely eat this way.

Did I exercise?  What did I do?  How did it feel

No Zumba but more gym time.  And I have the new Fitbit Alta which is helping me with my steps.

For whom or what are you grateful?  What matters most in life?

I am so grateful for my friends who keep my head above water.  Every night I list gratitude for at least these five things:  friends, mobility, possibilities, wherewithal, creativity

Do I have a higher purpose or driving force in my life?   Make a mission statement

Getting closer to that mission statement,  My grandma told me (it was Shakespeare but who knew?) To thine ownself be true.  Tis like the night, cannot be changed.  That works for me

Conventional medicine  Still just Ampyra and Baclufen.  And my doctor says there is a drug that will be available in the fall that will work for me.

Symptoms – Hands are still  getting weaker.  My hands and feet are multi-colored.  I have an appointment next week.  My neurologist looked at my hands and said Raynaud’s.

What symptoms are most troublesome  – Independence and mobility.  Hands not working

Do I blame myself for things – Yes, I am still believing it’s food, stress and exercise.

How is stress level?  It’s amping up with no work in sight.  Summer is coming.  Ouch.

What can I do tomorrow to make it better than today?

Never give up! Never!  Defy convention.  My mother always said I conformed to non-conformity, so be it.

Why I Didn’t Go to the Gym Yesterday

I had every intention of going to the gym yesterday.  I am encouraged that my doctor found that I am a little bit stronger and a little bit faster.  I need to leverage that.  And since I am not employed, I have been losing ground.  Yes, it’s nice not to have to struggle through Grand Central, Times Square and Penn Station on a daily basis.  But easily having 7500 – 10,000 plus steps a day is a benefit to someone like me.

My Jawbone Up tracker has not been working so I have been unable to get a real reading on what I have been doing.  I splurged on a Fitbit Alta.  I am eager to see how that goes.

Also, last week I started adding in the stationery bike on my doctor’s advice.

I like to go around 2 o’clock.  It’s all the old people.  It’s fairly empty and relatively quiet.

As I may have mentioned, we have been having issues with the used car lot that sprung up next to my house and the town.  We have been at odds for three years. The car lot does thing illegally and then the town makes it alright.  In recent weeks they cut down a beautiful old oak tree on the edge of our property on Easter Saturday claiming alternately that it was diseased NOT or that the town required it – not according to the last official meeting.  The last time we called the town, the owner was literally pounding on our door within 20 minutes.  The lot’s MO is to start work on a weekend when Town Hall is closed.  Last weekend they started the fence.  We are supposed to have an 8 foot PVC fence.  Sunday morning someone came up and pounded on the door. Again, we will not open our door.  Most of the fence posts were removed.  Tom goes out yesterday morning to take pictures.  We want a dated history of what goes on.  There’s a guy we believe to be the manager over there.  He comes charging over and tells Tom he can’t take pictures.  I hear the yelling and screaming and come out with phone and start taping.  End of story.    Tom is very upset over the threats.  It’s two old fat guys hurling insults at each other.

Tom always helps me from the house to the car and makes sure I get off OK.  I start to drive off and car lot guy comes into the road and blocks me AGAIN!   He wants to talk about the morning’s “disagreement”  and how he wants to make me happy.  I pull out phone and start voice and video as I have expressed to town everything must now be in writing.  We are talking about a Town Hall that is literally across the street from massage parlors!  Tom sees Rob at the car and thinks I am being threatened.  Ah, male testosterone.  I may be older and have mobility issues but I can mostly take care of myself.  Situation devolves.  I must say Tom is being surprisingly cool.  No mistakes, it’s loud.  Rob snaps and I have him on tape saying let’s go of camera and have this out.  And something about beating his f**king face in. Excuse me?  At this point to my surprise, Tom says I am old and sick and not doing this.  Rob starts to yell, and again, I have this on tape, that Tom is a drunk and the only one he beats up is me.  If you have been reading me or know me, you know that we have had problems but he has never, ever beat me.  Seriously?  Has everyone lost their minds?  And how does Rob know any of this?  At the last public meeting, he told the town that Tom shouldn’t be allowed to speak as he was legally not allowed to be in my house. NOT!!  Yes, there had been an order that was quickly rescinded three years ago.

Tom starts to go back in the house and now manager charges over onto my property followed by some other car lot guys and threatening Tom.  I call out “Get off of my property, I am calling 911.”  Which I do.  911  operator has a hard time because of all the screaming going on but they all realize I am on phone with 911 and by end of call, they are back in lot.

Now, I can’t go to gym because I have to wait for police.  And we have had previous situation with someone with drugs and alcohol passed out across my driveway.  Car lot knew him and have hooks with police.  Very nervous at this point.  Tom is not drinking.  There is an order that he can’t but neither of trust the car lot people or the police.  I can’t file the complaint the cop says because I wasn’t the one who was threatened.  I do have a report.  We will see what it says.  After numerous flats in my driveway, I tried to file a report at the precinct because I felt it was connected to the massage parlor that used to be in the lot.  The precinct translated that one into a message store.

Meanwhile, Tom keeps going off about what he’s going to do. Not restful.

So, no gym and my stress level is through the roof which means my legs are shot.

I am going to try again today.  I refuse to be a victim.   Outside eyes may see me as over 50, frail with limited mobility but that is not who I am.

April Doctor’s Visit

Well, apparently I was at the doctor’s exactly a year ago and again today.

So,  I am a tiny bit stronger and a tiny bit faster.

I participated in a research study there a week ago.  My MRI is basically the same which is really good.  I know from the mental tests last week that I am more than OK that way.  She reiterated that I have spinal arthritis.

Now,  she  says that I am a tiny bit stronger than last time and a tiny bit faster.  This so works for me.  The gym is working.  She says I need to continue  three times a week!  And I do need to continue with Zumba.  I was thinking of stopping because as much as I love it, it frustrates me.  I seem to be able to do less and less.  When this mess started I used to be in the front row.  However, she agrees that the social aspect is important for me.  I’ll go through the end of this season and see.

On the bad side, she says it looks like Raynaud’s.  My fingers have been turning white.  Just another thing to deal with.

On the up side, there is a new drug that has been tested and works with my symptoms/conditions.  It should be available when I go back.   Down side – it’s an intravenous and twice a year.  We’ll talk about side effects later.  My plan  – get stronger so I don’t have to do this.

March 2016 Check In

How did I feel this past Month?

A very mixed month with peaks and valleys.  Getting a job and maintaining funding has been consuming.  Some days are great, others less so.  I am fighting the blues. It’s winter so that’s not abnormal. The season distresses me.  My condition makes me housebound more than I’d like.  Also, not having income makes us stay at home – no joy-shopping.  I am in a waiting mode.  It’s never easy for me.  Sometimes, I am a slave to that e-mail, waiting for news, for any movement.

What did you do for yourself this month?

Still with the gym and less so Zumba due to the weather.  I can’t really go out in rain or snow, too much chance of falling.  I have started to write again.  I started journaling in January and am writing in the day.  I have continued to clear clutter.  I am trying to reach out to people/

What did I eat this month  and how did it make me feel

Back mostly to smoothies.  They really help my system and mitigate my sugar cravings.  I created an alert on my phone to remind me to have fruit in the afternoon and my Bac pill.

Did I exercise?  What did I do?  How did it feel

It’s exciting.  I am feeling achy at the gym.  I am taking it as a sign my nerves are reconnecting.  On the flip side, I seem a little less flexible and continue to experience balance problems.

For whom or what are you grateful?  What matters most in life?

My friends. The gift of faith.  I have been playing with “The Power of Positive Thinking” and it has reconnected me to faith.  The love that is in my life.  My stepson brought me the most beautiful rose on Valentine’s, unexpected and lovely.

Do I have a higher purpose or driving force in my life?   Make a mission statement

No surprises.  No mission statement.  Purpose?  Let others benefit by my fight. Integrity.  Principles do count.

Conventional medicine  Just the Ampyra and Baclufan.  Really beginning to get that the right food and rest will do a lot.

Symptoms –  Hands are becoming a problem.  Fighting it of course!  Balance and flexibility which can be addressed with increased determination

What symptoms are most troublesome  – The lack of freedom.  As I write this, the newspaper is in the driveway and I just can’t go out and get it.  My increasing reliance on the cane is hindering me in my job search.

Do I blame myself for things – Of course, between stress, wrong food and not enough exercise

How is stress level?

Still high and who wouldn’t be between money, job and health.  This is becoming my new normal.

What can I do tomorrow to make it better than today?

Remember to breathe. Have faith.  Eat and exercise properly.

Convergence, Synergy, Serendipity

I have been out of work for four months.  What a strange phrase to use.  Let’s rephrase:  I have not been paid or going to an employer for four months.  Work is continual and takes different forms.

I was/am beginning to feel a little despair, desperation.

I have always believed things happen for a reason.

I also have wanted to take this time to clear up around the house.  I had let everything go when  I had a job.  Plus, I have hoarding tendencies.  I literally took everything off the top of my desk.   I found a little pamphlet that a friend gave me about 25 years ago.  I did warn you.  The pamphlet was an abridged “The Power of Positive Thinking”.  My parents had the book.  I can picture it in the bookcase at the top of the stairs.  As they aged, they moved things and got rid of things.  I don’t know that is a book I ever would have kept.  I never cracked its spine when I was growing up.  But now, I found this little pamphlet and threw it in my bag when I was going into NYC for an interview.  I started to read it.  Last time I was without work and my first marriage was breaking up and I was probably clinically depressed, my mother typed up a prayer for me.  It helped enormously.  There it was in the pamphlet!  A good sign.  The pamphlet was making sense to me.  I do have a deep faith sometimes.  Sometimes, as is natural, it wavers.  I also read and am a huge fan of Julia Cameron – Good Orderly Direction.  There you go and I am off to the races.

Next event:  I am in the car and hear the beginning of an interview with Marlon James, the first Jamaican to win the Booker prize.  I am half Jamaican and read Caribbean literature at uni.  I dabble in it from time to time but had stopped.  So I decide to get the book from the library.  Of course, I don’t remember its name.  When I do the library search, other West Indian novelists show up.  I order some Colin Chaner.

I was a student of Earl Lovelace’s years ago.  I had no idea who he was until 10 years or so, maybe even closer, a friend of mine mentioned him.  I immediately read him and adored it.  His writing was never mentioned or touted at school.  He only taught for a year.   I just found out that a book of his came out to serious acclaim a year after I studied with him.  No one said anything at school.  In retrospect, I wonder.  Was it racial?  Or was it “intellectual”?  This was a department that touted Coover and McElroy.  I decide let me read some more Lovelace.  Another library search.  Ha, there is a book on Lovelace and Caribbean literature on Goodreads.  The library doesn’t have it.  I go to Amazon.  Well, I am not working so I can’t buy it but I will.  I read the blurb and information on the author.  I call my friend and tell her I should have written that book.  I could have written that.

Onto next topic.  Since I have been at home, I have realized that somewhere along the line, I stepped off my life.  I had older women friends that believed I could and would run a major US corporation!  That had not been my interest for years.  When I was much younger, I had had three major ambitions.  First, right out of high school, I wanted to be the next Henry Kissinger.  Then, I wanted to be the next Calvin Klein.  I had a therapist point out that I wanted to be men.  It never crossed my mind.  It was the position, not the gender.  Last, I wanted to be either president of Macy’s or Saks.  I am not aggressive enough and lost that dream.  Still corporately, I was chasing that vice presidency.  I started the job that just ended,  in 2000.  I knew I wasn’t going to stay there.  Ha!  I was there 15 years.  I stopped and stepped off.  I can’t figure out the complete why.  Yes, my parents died. My father’s death left me responsible for my mother.  She had dementia.  I severed relations with my brother.  I married.  He’s an alcoholic but presently in recovery.  That was pure, utter living hell. And I developed this condition.  Ok, I guess putting it down on paper, it’s enough to derail most people.  But like my mother used to say, “Is your name everyone else?”

Next, there’s an annual short story competition that I have submitted to in the past.  Three years ago, the topic was complicated families.  I was excited and drafted an outline of related stories.  I had a central piece firmly in mind.  Work intervened and I put it aside.

Full disclosure:  my father was a writer.  I was always intimidated to write in front of him as it were.  He was very critical.  When he was older I used to take him to the Edgars, the mystery writing Oscars.  It was always filled with “auteurs”.  People always questioned me on what I was writing, shop talk.  At the last one we attended the year he died, we spoke about it.  He knew I wrote at home and wanted to know what was going on.  I told him that I really didn’t think I was going to do anything till he was gone.  He told me to write and write now.  It was the greatest gift he gave me.  However, he died a few months later and it sort of sucked everything out of me.

So, I am home, not going into work and I am going to finish this complicated family 750 word story and I can’t.  I am blocked.  I do not like the way I am writing.  I call my friend and she suggests I write around it.  I am cleaning and praying (due to the Power of Positive thinking).

Next, a friend from high school is also clearing and comes across her journals where my name is mentioned.  I tell her you must be in mine, too.  I pull them out but can’t touch them.  Two weeks ago or so, I am writing in my current journal and my husband questions me about the whole concept. I pull one of the high school ones off the night table.  An unfinished letter to this very woman falls out.  Queue the Twilight Zone music.  I start flipping through this decades old book.  I find writing that is excellent and then realize it was mine!  Talk about squandering gifts.  It is disturbing to me.

Next:  Plan B.  As I was doing this clear out, I came across folders stuffed with my old writing.  I decide I will type or retype this material.  This will put it in a more stable format than yellowing, crumpled sheets and may rekindle writing. Now, over the past few years, I have  been talking to my friend about the great Carib- American novel and we have also discussed themes of the immigrant experience, what you take, what you leave, what you bring back.  Yesterday, I reach into the drawer to start my project .  I am stunned.  It is the “great Caribbean-American” novel, outlined and with some pages!  The ideas are outlined in some detail.    I have no recollection of starting this. I don’t remember writing this at all.  It is decades ago.  It’s not bad, in fact parts of it are good!

The universe has sent me a clear message. It’s time to write.