Showing posts with label Husband. Show all posts
Showing posts with label Husband. Show all posts

Wednesday, November 18, 2020

37 Years

Today is my wedding anniversary. I've been married 37 years. Funny, in my head I'm only 33!

My man doing what he loves to do

Us in 2020!

Us about 15 years ago.

Us 37 years ago.

Monday, August 10, 2020

My Fireman Gets His Axe

My husband retired officially from the Roanoke City Fire-EMS Department on June 1. Because of Covid, he wasn't able to have a retirement dinner or anything that is normally done for a retirement.

This morning, we went to Roanoke Fire-EMS Station 5, which was the station my husband worked out of and the Battalion Chief's headquarters for the "north side," as his area is called.

As we neared the station, I saw several engines and ambulances parked in the vicinity. My husband saw them, too. "Oh gosh," he said. I thought I would cry but I did not. Several of the stations and most of the administration turned out in force to say, "Farewell," to their former chief.

After 37+ years of service, my man deserved a little something!

When he walked up to greet everyone, it was very emotional to watch. My husband was a well-respected Battalion Chief. Most of the emergency service workers appreciated his efforts to lead them and ensure their safety. He seemed to get along well with everyone when he was working.

The Chief and my husband elbow-bumped in greeting.

They did a lot of standing around and talking. My husband was pleased to see his old friends.

As you can see, there were a good number of people there. The "white shirts" are administrators.

During a presentation, the Chief noted my husband's long tenure with the department.

Everyone watched respectfully.

My husband was the second-longest serving firefighter in the department when he retired.

The Chief presented him with this engraved axe.

The plaque on it has my husband's name, rank, and years of service.

Here they are posing for the camera. (My husband's the one of the left.)

A little handshaking took place. That is why we wash our hands.

Here's a close-up of the axe. I like that the red of the fire engine is reflected in the axe head.

After some of the emergency service workers left, I had him stand in front of his Battalion Chief's
vehicle, holding his axe. Since it was just us and we were in an open space, he took his mask off so I could get a good photo.

Congratulations to my love. He deserved to be recognized for his long years of service and his leadership. I am so proud!

Monday, April 13, 2020

The BIG Announcement

My husband, after 37 years with the Roanoke Fire-EMS Department in Roanoke, Virginia, has retired to work on the farm and install septic systems.

He was a Battalion Chief for the last 10 years of his career. He started there February 15, 1983 and rose through the ranks to run half the city when he was on shift.

He was the second-longest serving firefighter in the department when he retired. One other man has been there a few months longer. He takes with him a lifetime of experience and memory.

Battalion Chief James Firebaugh, 2019
I remember when he took the job. We were dating, and he would not propose to me until he had found work that was more permanent than farming and digging septic tanks with his father. (Interestingly enough, that is now what he will be doing.)

His grandfather passed away when he was about two weeks into the job, and he had to take funeral leave right away. He had not accrued vacation when we married in November, so we married over a four-day break.

His work schedule was basically 10 days of 24-hour shifts during the month. However, they rotated and went like this: Monday, Wednesday, Friday - 4 days off - Wednesday, Friday, Sunday - 4 days off - Friday, Sunday, Tuesday - 4 days off . . . hopefully one gets the idea of how that went.

Spending 10 days a month alone did not bother me generally, although it was a given that if the hot water heater was going to go out or something else around the house was going to go whacky, or if I were to become very sick, it would be a day when he was at the fire station and not on one of his off days.

During his off days, he helped his father farm and install septic tanks just as he always did. For the first 10 years of our marriage, he also served a volunteer firefighter with the Fincastle Fire Department, and I was very glad when he gave that up. We saw each other at night and then of course not every night because he was at work. I also had classes at night and then I worked a lot at night after I became a full-time writer/freelance news reporter, so our time together was minimal, really.

Until he injured his arm in 2014, we had not spent more than three weeks together without him having to go back to work. While he recovered from that injury, which occurred on the farm and not at the firehouse, we were together about two months. In late November, he had surgery on his ankle, and we have now spent all of these nights together. As my stepmother said, "You didn't kill him, so that is a good thing."

During his career, there were several incidents that I recall. The first is the Flood of 1985. Roanoke City and surrounding areas drowned in over 11 inches of rain, and he was on duty. I was out at a doctor's appointment. We had no cellphones back then, so it was hours before we each found out the other was ok. He and his crew made some daring and heroic rescues at that time, using the ladder truck to reach out over raging waters to pluck people from streams.

Here's a youtube video about the flood.

He also worked what is locally known as the TAAP fire, when the Total Action Against Poverty building burned down. It was cold and the firefighters all had icicles hanging from their gear as they fought the blaze. I couldn't find any photos of that, though I'm sure there are some somewhere.

Around that same time, Chief Harry McKinney passed away. I attended the funeral because his daughter was my math teacher in high school and we have kept in touch all of these years. I remember feeling so out of place sitting with my husband amongst that sea of blue uniforms. My husband had a lot of respect for Chief McKinney. There is no funeral like a fire service funeral, I must say.

Of course there are many other fires, wrecks, etc., that he worked throughout his career. I have no idea how many people he watched die, how many people he saved when he was working as a medic - those statistics may be kept somewhere, but I doubt it. He was a citizen doing his civic duty, on the job taking care of his community.

This is what one of the firefighters wrote about him on a page dedicated to remembering the firefighters:

"James has served as the Northside Battalion Chief (Battalion 2) for the last ten years. He has served many roles during his tenure and leaves large shoes to fill. James served as chair of the apparatus committee and was directly involved in the design of many of our trucks throughout the years. He also served as one of the original members of our regional Hazardous Materials Response Team. James, regardless of his or other people’s rank, has always been someone that could be easily spoken to and has always been a force to be reckoned with in the firehouse. He has carried a strong presence on fire scenes when a job needed to be done but isn’t one to stand available for a photo."

There aren't many pictures of him at fire scenes. Usually he has his back to his camera in the ones he is in. He never sought recognition for anything he did.

Having a square-off with another battalion chief, apparently.

He's the guy on the far right hanging on the hose and shouting orders. Best guess is this was when he was a captain.
He had intended to return to work following his ankle surgery. His recovery from that took longer than he anticipated, and then the Covid-45 virus hit. He decided he could not risk bringing that home to me (I have asthma) or to his 86-year-old mother, whom he checks on every day. She lives alone but he takes her the newspaper and the mail and checks on her a lot. When we heard the news that the virus had hit the fire department in Lynchburg, I think that sealed it for him.

So his career comes to an end, and he will be back where he started, really, farming full time and running a septic installation business. He loves to do that work, so he will be happy.

I have grown used to having him about the house more, so I don't think I will hit him upside the head with anything. The Covid-45 virus has interrupted our schedules, but it has interrupted the whole world's schedule. Eventually we will find a flow that works for us.

My heart is full of pride for all that he has accomplished. It is no easy task to go from firefighter to battalion chief.

May he enjoy his new life without the fire service and all the stress that brought him.

Monday, February 17, 2020

A Long Way

Happy Presidents' Day!

Or maybe it's Happy George Washington's Birthday!

Whichever it is, I hope you had the day off.

We're hanging loose here at the farm, with the husband still hobbling around after his ankle fusion. He's out of his cast and walking boot and into physical therapy. He's having pain, still, which is a concern, but the doctor didn't seem to think it was a problem.

I have not been pleased with the follow-up care with this surgeon. At the moment, I wouldn't recommend him, but to be honest I would rather die than have a Carilion doctor operate on me, so I suppose one must take my anger and condescension toward Carilion physicians into consideration.

At least I'm honest about it. I will be really upset when I wake up one day and find someone from Carilion has performed a heart catherization for that heart attack my primary care doctor insists I am going to have before I am old enough to have dementia.

Anyway, the saga of the husband's foot began on November 22, which was the day of his surgery. We're coming up on 3 months of healing up and being at home.

It's been a long process and much more intense than my husband anticipated.

It is has been exactly what I anticipated.

My husband had arthritis in his ankle and he was walking on the side of his foot. It was painful to watch. He'd been getting worse in the last two years but wouldn't listen when I suggested doing something about it. Finally, it pained him more than he could stand and this surgery was the result.

This is a video I took back in the summer to show him how he walked. I cringe every time I look at it. For some reason it is sideways, sorry about that.

Mostly he's been a good patient. Once the anesthesia was out of his system, he felt a little better. Then he was in a hard cast and he was able to get around on a knee scooter. After a while he grew bored so he started helping with the laundry. I did not complain even though I have never in my life seen someone fold towels like he does. I cringe when I see them but I don't say anything and I leave them alone. It isn't the end of the world if the bathroom closet looks odd.

The fact that he still has pain is frustrating for us both. I did not expect him to magically recover but he seemed to think that would be the case. He wasn't counting on having to relearn to walk, to have to have me standing there constantly going "keep your leg straight" while he walks across the room. He slips easily back into dragging it like he was before the surgery. His hip and knee are accustomed now to the odd limp, not the new gait created by the ankle fusion.

I consider this long extended home-stay to be a trial run at his retirement. Hopefully when he does retire, he will be more active because if I have to watch one more episode of Bitchin' Rides I am going to cancel the DirecTV without telling him. How many car shows can one man watch, anyway? Sheesh.

As regular readers know, I am not a TV watcher. I don't have it on all day when I am alone.

He has it on ALL THE DAMN TIME.

I shut the door to my office a lot now. I can't think straight when I hear the TV running or when I am listening for him. Even after three months, I am not used to having him in the house and I can round a corner to find him standing someplace unexpected and scare myself.

Sometimes, I confess, I've pitched a fit and told him to turn the TV off. Well, more like I demanded he either turn it off or I was going to throw a rock through it.

I listen to music when I'm home alone. I miss my music. He doesn't like my music, because it interferes with the TV racket. 

He needs a mancave. One that is not close to the house. Maybe a real cave with bears in it.

Just kidding.

Tuesday, December 31, 2019

Cotton Candy Clouds for New Year's Eve

The sky this morning had the most interesting splotches of light on the clouds. Some of them looked like puffs of cotton candy at a fair.

We have come to it now, the last day of this year, and of this decade, depending on how one counts decades. At any rate, the "teens" of the second millennium are over and the "twenties" are about to begin.

I doubt they will be Roaring '20s like in the 1900s. But we'll see. By 2025, things might be grooving along as well as one could hope. Or we could all be dust on a barren, dead planet.

Moving on.

My major accomplishment of this year, by far, was writing a 100-page magazine at the behest of the county's 250th anniversary committee. I was asked in March and I finished it in mid-October, for the most part, although I was still proofing copies into December.

My next other accomplishment was being published in Artemis and then attending and reading my poetry at a poetry reading at the Blue Ridge Library in September.

I also managed to hit my 36th wedding anniversary, a feat in this day and age, and I've kept my husband clean, fed, and happy while he recovers from an ankle fusion surgery. I do think we need to build him a man space, though. I miss my alone time and having here 24/7 for six weeks has been nerve-wracking. I'm not used to having him around all the time.

What else happened that was noteworthy this year?

Ah, home improvements. We installed new flooring. Well, actually some of the flooring we installed in 2018 had to be removed and reinstalled, and we went ahead and put in hardwood flooring while we were at it. It has worked well and I think the house has less dust.

Also, we lost a lot of trees. The first blue spruce fell over in a windstorm in February, and the others we removed because they were dying. In 2012, I think it was, we had a drought, and we didn't water the trees because these were established trees - they were nearly 30 years old then - and it simply didn't occur to us to do so. As a result, they each caught a fungus that eventually kills the trees. We tried spraying them annually with fungicide but they were too far gone. Then the ash borers came through and took out the ash trees. So we had the blue spruces removed, and a very large ash, and from the looks of it we will have to have the tree people back to remove at least one more ash in the backyard that is too large to simply cut down. I miss my trees although I do enjoy the new views. We plan to plant something back this spring. I want evergreens, so I need to find a hardy type that will weather our changing climate.

One other thing I did was contact my local officials with concerns about Freedom of Information Act notices and their many closed meetings. This led to a flurry of meetings with county staff that were both perplexing and amusing. Some changes were made because I was right but the county still spends far too much time in closed sessions and it is very secretive about things they really have no reason to be so closed-mouth about. That happened in March.

My nephew married and had a baby. We threw him a combination marriage reception/baby shower in late May. The baby's name is Ellie and she's just starting to figure out she can move around. I think she'll be crawling in the next few weeks.

In late June, I developed a blood clot in my leg. I still have a knot there, although the clot is apparently gone and this is now a big varicose vein. It hurts sometimes, still.

We went to Myrtle Beach in September. I bought a cheap electric guitar, which I am enjoying very much. I'd forgotten how much I like to play an electric guitar. This one is very light for an electric guitar.

That brings us fairly current. It was a busy year. What will 2020 have in store, I wonder?

Friday, December 27, 2019

A Very Rare Sight

This is my husband reading a fiction book. In the 36+ years we've been married, I have never seen him read anything other than tractor manuals, farm magazines, or firefighting books and materials related to his work.
And here he is reading a Stuart Woods book.
Be still my heart.

Monday, December 09, 2019

The Red Sexy Cast Pose

This is my husband in his new sexy cast.

Friday, December 06, 2019

Post-Op Report

Went with husband to his post-op check up today. My brother actually took him; I followed in my car. Husband did not believe he could ride in my vehicle (I thought otherwise). I have since informed him since that my Camry isn't good enough, we need a third car so my vehicle will be, in fact, my vehicle, since right now we have "his" truck and "our" car and I would like to have a car of my own.

I would like to have a Corolla instead of a Camry, I think. I know he couldn't (or wouldn't try to) fit in a Corolla and I wouldn't have to worry about constantly adjusting the seats and mirrors and finding chewing tobacco spills all over the seat.

But I digress.

At the doctor's office, we saw pictures of the screws and plates in his foot. After the bandages were removed, we realized that he had incisions in more places than we'd been told by the "helper" in the hospital. As I did not talk to the damn doctor (he will always be that in my mind), I am not surprised to find we didn't know this.

The damn doctor looked at his foot, said it was healing nicely, and then sent him off for an x-ray and to have a cast put in place.

Husband chose fire-engine red for his cast color.

Now it is a matter of keeping it elevated and continuing to be non-weight bearing. He is getting along well, really. He's not a demanding patient and now that he is up and around he is doing a few things for himself, like making his coffee

In other not-so-great news, I've developed a sore throat, bleeding sinuses, and an earache. I don't have a temperature and my doctor doesn't work on Friday afternoons.

I tried really hard not to catch something but it is next to impossible to go out of the house and not walk into germs. Plus we've had a lot more people in the house than normal - visitors and home health care folks. Who knows what they drag inside. I have been appalled at the perfume some of the home health care people have worn - one person came in reeking of some smelly-good stuff and I literally had to leave the room and then air out the house after she left.

I plan to complain about many things about Carilion and its drive-by surgery proceedings. This so-called "home health care" is a joke.

Letters are in the works, with cc to Nancy Agee (who is already familiar with me as a champion of those who experience crap at the hands of Carilion, though it's been a few years since my messed-up surgery there).

The community deserves better.

Tuesday, December 03, 2019

Just Another Day

The patient is doing well. He was up a lot yesterday, sitting and watching TV and listening to an audiobook. He is back in the bed more today, so he was probably up too much. However, this afternoon finds him at his own computer, looking at whatever he looks at.

He is now fetching some of his own items. Bottled water, diet Dr. Pepper, his cans of snuff that I am reluctant to give him in the first place. We are finding our new routine, which basically means that my day doesn't start until after 11 a.m., after I get him bathed and fed and all of that.

It is very tiring for him to have an unusable foot. Everything takes a little thought and more time. That goes for both of us.

He watched me carry out the trash yesterday. The bag had grown heavier than I thought (I try to keep them light), so I walked a few feet, felt the pain in my abdomen, stopped, set the bag down briefly, let the pain subside, picked up the bag, walked a few feet, etc., until I reached the outbuilding where the outside trash cans are.

Doable. A little slow, but I am managing. He didn't like it that it took me so long, that I was in the cold that long, that I had to do it at all, really. But it's better out there than stinking up the garage. And it's how I've learned to manage, after 6 years of dealing with my own tiring health issues. I think this has been enlightening for him, to watch me work through my days, getting the laundry done, the dishes cleaned up, still managing the household as best I can.

We have put up a small 3-foot tree that we bought at Walmart. It has no decorations because I can't lift the boxes to get to the decorations. At least it gives off a little holiday light.

My husband packs up boxes as full as he can, and puts things where he can reach them. So the Christmas things are heavy and up high. He is 6' 2" tall and I'm 5' 1' tall. I have a bad back and bad ab muscles, and can't lift much over 10 pounds or so. I could stand on a stool and unpack the boxes from on high, I guess, but I don't see the point. If I decide I simply must have decorations on this tiny little tree, it would be easier to go to the dollar store and buy something cheap to throw on there than to dig out the boxes.

Carilion Transgressions

I was going to write a blog post about my wait at Carilion, but too much time has passed. I think I will, though, leave a list of transgressions here so I can come back to it when I sit down to write a letter to somebody at that facility.

1. The pre-op people said to bring an overnight bag with you. They said it would be placed on the gurney, taken with my husband into surgery, and then it would be there with him when he was sent to his recovery room. But they don't do that anymore. I had to walk the entire length of the hospital, led there by a volunteer, so I could pick up the things he took with him, plus the clothing he had on. Just his shoes are heavy (size 13 feet). So I was stuck with all of this stuff that if the pre-op instructions had been accurate would have been left in the car. They have a disconnect between what actually happens and the instructions. This should be fixed.

2. The PT people need to see the patient prior to surgery to go over ways to maneuver and figure out the best assistance device before the surgery. He saw a PT immediately after who helped him figure out he needed a walker (not something we'd considered), and then for whatever reason Carilion Home Health sent a PT down on Monday to see him. He can't do PT now. That was a waste of money.

3. The occupational therapist needs to see the patient prior to surgery, too, and probably again immediately thereafter. The occupational therapist did the most good when she came to the house.

4. The damn doctor never came to the waiting room to tell me what he did to my husband. He never called or anything. I complained to the nurse after I got to my husband's room and she tracked down an assistant who'd helped with the surgery. I didn't want to talk to an assistant. I wanted to talk to the damn doctor. I still haven't talked to the damn doctor. The damn doctor did talk to my husband but he was just coming out from anesthesia and can't remember anything he said. Not helpful.

5. The valet parking people were rude. I accept some responsibility for this, as we'd given them the extra key fob to the car to park it. We asked for a handicapped spot and apparently those are all in front of the hospital. I didn't realize they were going to place it in a line until they could find a handicapped space for it in front of the hospital. After the volunteer gave me all of my husband's clothing and bags, etc., I decided I'd go put the stuff in the car rather than try to keep up with it. I assumed the car would be parked but it was in a line waiting to be parked when a space emptied out. When I asked where the car was, one of the men handed me the key fob and I went to the car. The key fob was acting funny, I could tell, but I had other things on my mind. I put my husband's clothing in the back seat and couldn't get the key fob to lock the doors. Since I had the other key fob in my pocketbook I thought one was messing up the other. I left the doors unlocked - if anyone wanted his big shoes they could have them - and handed the key fob back to the valet fellow. About an hour later one of the men called me and said my car wouldn't start and he accused me of switching key fobs when I went down before. I did not do that, of course. I went back down to the front of the hospital and found the man, who dared me to start the car with that key fob. I did, because I read the owner's manual to my car and I know that if you put the key fob against the electric start if the fob battery is dead, it will start the car anyway. He basically accused me of witchcraft even after I explained to him how to start a car with a dead key fob, which you would think someone who is working as a car valet would know. Certainly that can't be the first time a key fob for an electric start vehicle has gone dead. Anyway, the man parked my car then tore my paperwork off my key fob and threw at me, after again accusing me of switching key fobs on him (why would I even do that?). It was a dead battery and certainly nothing intentional on my part, good grief. The man was very rude. (It is also possible the damn doctor came out to the waiting room while I was dealing with the rude valet people, but even so, the woman at the waiting room desk had my cell number and knew where I was and he could have called.)

6. We called the hospital on Tuesday, November 26, about pain medication. Carilion called yesterday, December 2, to tell my husband he had pain medication ready at the Riverside pharmacy and we could come and pick it up. A week later. I know there was a holiday in there, but really? We told them to keep their drugs as he no longer needed them.

7. I had called my husband's doctor two weeks before his surgery and told the nurse I wanted help with bathing him while he was doped up on pain killers. We got a PT, RN visits every couple of days, and an OT. How was this helpful, really? What if I had been really, really disabled, like in a wheelchair or something myself? Is this how they deal with this kind of family concern? This makes no sense. The RN visits I am tolerating but he is not running a fever or exhibiting any signs of any problems whatsoever. His pain level is next to nothing. I've had a higher pain level than he has during most of this. Somebody was not listening.

Wednesday, November 27, 2019

What's Really Been Going On

This is a truth post.

What's really been going on is this:

My husband on Friday had an ankle fusion at Carilion Roanoke Memorial.

Left foot is his normal big foot; right foot is his Frankenfoot. He has a steel plate and screws in it.

He is off his pain meds and doing pretty well. He has a knee scooter and is moving about the house relatively easily now.

He is not in a cast yet. He will be non-weight bearing on his foot for 8 weeks. Yes, I said 8 weeks. That is a damn long time.

Last night we figured out how to get him in the shower. He smells better. And feels better. Showers can be wonderful things.

He is watching a lot of TV because he is not a reader. This would (and will) drive me crazy. I rarely have the TV on but now it is blaring away almost constantly.

And since this is my blog, and this my blog post, I am going to talk about how it feels to be me, a person with chronic pain issues and limited mobility, trying to deal with someone who is a foot taller than I am and who weighs more than I do and who is a stubborn-headed mule most of the time.

First off, none of this was easy on me. It has been hard watching my husband practically dragging his foot after him for a good 8 months because he was too damn stubborn to go to the doctor and have it taken care of. He would get up in the morning and his hands would flutter like the wings of a dying baby bird when he first put weight on his foot. He didn't think I saw but I did, of course.

Since March, I have nagged, bitched, pleaded, and cried to try to get him to go the doctor. He did not go until the end of September.

He scheduled this for the time when it suited him and he did not once think about when it suited me. I assure you, had he asked, I would have told him "now," back in the spring or summer, and not at the holidays. Not when I have to worry about snow and ice, and driving after dark (which I can't do well since I have a little cataract forming), and when it's cold you have to worry about coats and how the cows are going to be fed (we've found people to help, the cows will be fine). I would have suggested June or August or sometime like that, but he wanted to work because that is what he does. He works. That is who is he and all he knows and what he does.

So he has greatly inconvenienced me because it will be cold out, and I can't set him outside in the sunshine for a spell, nor decorate a Christmas tree because we have a hospital bed for him in the living room, or even cook a turkey because with my health issues I can't do that without some help. But none of that matters because at least he finally has had his surgery and hopefully in 12 weeks or so (may the goddess help me), he will be back on his feet and doing his man stuff.

It's just one holiday season. Of course, you never know, it could be my last holiday season. I could choke on a cashew in just a few minutes. Stranger things have happened. And I admit it, I am selfish and would have liked to have been consulted and had my needs taken into consideration.

But I wasn't and yes, I do resent that a little bit.

As for the last week, my pain levels has skyrocketed to highs I haven't seen in a couple of years, in part because Carilion sucks as a hospital. It's parking sucks and its set-up sucks and the way it does things sucks. As a healthcare facility, it sucks.

I had to walk and walk and I can't manage more than 7,500 steps without the pain in my abdomen acting up. For five days straight, I walked over 12,000 steps. By Monday, I was a total wreck. I could barely stand up straight. My back hurt, my stomach hurt, and my stress level was higher than a freed leaf blowing in a hurricane force wind.

We had asked for home health care because we knew I would have issues and need help, if only for an hour to get him sponged off and cleaned up. Carilion Home health care did not call though we were told they would. He came home Saturday and we still hadn't heard from them. On Sunday, an RN called and showed up to "sign us up," take his blood pressure, and leave. On Monday, a physical therapist came, looked him over, and then said, "There's nothing I can do for you. Your foot is in a splint and you're healing for an ankle fusion." Well duh. What was the point of that visit? To put more money on Carilion's pocket, that's all.

On Tuesday I called the Home Health people because they said to call if there was a certain issue, in particular no bowel movement, within three days. He hadn't had one since Friday, so I called. They were as helpful as a fart in a hail storm. I finally got that worked out and taken care of myself with some appropriate over-the-counter medication and a heating pad on his stomach.

Carilion Home Health Care never followed up.

He also on Tuesday called his doctor about his pain levels and his bowel issues, and to see how much Tylenol he could take because his pain medication was gone, and we've not heard a word from the doctor's office. Today is Wednesday and it's late afternoon as I write this.

By this time, I had of course sponge-bathed him several times and Tuesday night we'd gotten him in the shower and cleaned off. We did this without help or guidance or assistance, and I was shaking with pain when we were done, and up most of the night with it (though my husband doesn't know that).

This morning an occupational therapist came, and she was helpful. She offered pointers to help him bathe and take care of himself, taking some of the pressure off of me. Then she left, never to be seen again.

I despise Carilion with everything I have. I would rather take my last breath in my bedroom and die young than let a Carilion doctor cut on me. Or any doctor in Roanoke, for that matter. Let's face it. If you're an "A" doctor, you don't come to Roanoke to practice. You come to Roanoke because some great place like John Hopkins won't have you.

The only exception to that might be if you were born and raised here, like my own personal doctor (thankfully not affiliated with either of our two hospitals), or maybe you have family here or something. Otherwise, just on principal, a doctor practicing in Roanoke isn't an "A" list doctor, I don't care how many millions the Carilion CEO donates for cancer centers.

I will probably write more about this. Things happened during his surgery while I was in the waiting room that I would like to record.

But this is enough for now. Now you know. It ain't peaches and cream.

Monday, November 18, 2019

36 Years

Today is my anniversary. We've been married for 36 years.

That's a very long time.

We have grown old together, though it doesn't seem like 36 years. That's a lot of time together and adventures with one another.

Here we are a couple of years ago. Actually I think almost 9 years ago, now. Sheesh.

Here we were 36 years ago. Yes, I would say we have aged. Oh my. (I have always liked his smile in this picture. He looks like the cat who ate the canary.)

Big events? Building a house. Multiple surgeries for me. My mother's death, his father's passing. The birth of nephews and a niece. Promotions for him, college degrees for me. His hand getting caught in the hay baler tends to stand out as a an unforgettable moment. Vacations in Myrtle Beach (most of them), Pigeon Forge, the Poconos, Charlottesville, Virginia Beach, Williamsburg.

The stuff of lives.

We've done all right.

Monday, October 14, 2019

How Guys With Backhoes Take Down Trees

We've been having issues with trees of late. We have dead ash trees, thanks to the emerald ash borer, and we have blue spruce trees that are over 30 years old that are dying from a fungus.

The ash borer came over from Asia; the fungus showed up during a drought around 2012. One of the blue spruce's blew over last winter and I have been concerned about the two remaining on the bedroom side of the house ever since.

I'm not excited about the idea of waking up to find a tree in bed with me.

One of the blue spruces was leaning precariously. When the ground was wet and the wind would blow, I would sit at the window and watch as the ground at the roots raised up, then sucked the tree back down a bit.

My husband had asked a friend back in February to remove the trees but he has yet to show up. Last week, husband took matters into his own hands with one of the trees. I still have one to worry about, but at least this one that was really leaning is no longer a worry.

The tree was already leaning about this much, with that hump at the ground where the roots were coming up.

A few pushes wouldn't do, though. The ground is too dry at the moment.

A little digging to loosen the dirt around the roots proved helpful.

A big push.

Ally oop!

Poor tree is on the ground.
I really hate losing these trees. They were once quite beautiful. We sprayed with fungicide when we realized they were "sick," but once that fungus is on a tree there is little hope of saving it. All of our lovely blue spruces will eventually be gone. We only have two left now.

Friday, September 27, 2019

Do You Need to Sit Down, Dear?

My husband is going to have to have surgery on his ankle.

This falls under the heading of BIG DEAL. He will be off his feet for three months and out of work for about five.

Somebody will have to give him blood thinner shots. The doctor looked at me and said, "You get to do it," when we were in his office Monday.

Yeah, right.

I am not a nurse. I do not deal with this kind of thing well. It stresses me and I can think of 100,000 things that will go wrong and not a single thing that will go right.

Yesterday the pharmacy at Kroger called and said we had a prescription to pick up. I had all my drugs but some of my husband's blood pressure medication is on auto fill, so I assumed that was what it was.

This morning I went in to get it.

The pharmacy tech grabbed a clear bag and tossed it on the counter. It was filled with needles. HUGE needles. Cow-sized needles. LONG needles. Needles from hell.

I knew immediately that this was the blood thinner stuff, even though we don't have the surgery scheduled yet. This little doctor fellow is in quite a hurry to do this, I guess.

The needles lay there. I looked at them. I started turning white. I grabbed the counter.

"Are you alright?" the pharmacy tech asked.

"Um. What are those?" I managed to ask. I clung to the counter, hoping my legs were going to hold me. Little black dots were starting to swim around my eyes.

She told me. Blood thinner.

"You don't look so good," she added. "Do you need to sit down?"

"We don't want that now," I stammered. "We don't even have the surgery scheduled." I paused. "And yes, I need to sit down."

She shrugged and said the prescription would be on file for a year, and pointed toward a bench. I hung on to my little buggy for dear life and rolled it to the bench, where I sat for a few minutes trying to collect myself. I did not pass out but I came awfully close.

I'm supposed to give my husband these shots. With needles that look like they should go into an elephant.

Hell will freeze over before that happens.

Anybody want to volunteer?

Monday, April 08, 2019

Things in Common

I have several people whom I consider best friends, but my very best friend is my husband.

He and I are two very different people, and sometimes I wonder how it is that we've remained married and friends for 35 years. After such a long time, one might think two very different personalities would be sick of one another.

However, we have a few things in common. We both have a great sense of humor. While he tends more toward what I call "garbage" humor, as in, say, Monty Python or bathroom jokes, I am more sardonic and my humor is more of an off-the-cuff variety. However, my husband has taught me the value of a good laugh at a great fart joke (or a great fart), because after you live with someone for so long, you're just going to fart in front of one another. At some point, you may as well laugh about it. And now that I've read somewhere that smelling farts can keep one from having dementia, we have now nicknamed farts the anti-dementia gas. Go figure.

We also both love the rural life, although I like to look at it and take pictures of it from inside the house while he prefers to be out in the fields riding around in a tractor. Still, I'd rather look at fields of orchard grass than the backside of someone else's house. We both embrace the wildlife, me with my camera and he with his shotgun sometimes, but even so, we have a mutual respect for the land and what Mother Nature has given us to care for. For a time we had a garden, but between fighting off the deer and other animals and aging, we've given up on that for the most part. Even so, there are days when I enjoy having my hands in the dirt of my flower bed, while he enjoys having the dirt all over him. How's that for something in common?

Another thing we have in common is that we're both rather, um, thrifty. We don't spend money on stuff unless we have to. We have stuff around here that's 30 years old. So long as it still works, it will still be here another 30. However, we will spend money on important things, like nephews and nieces and home improvements and stuff like that.

And that's my thought for the day.

Linking up with Kwizgiver's April Challenge. You can find the prompts here.

Wednesday, January 09, 2019

In the Roanoke City Council Chambers

Tuesday we went to the Roanoke City Council meeting. My husband was receiving mention for his 35 years of service with the Roanoke City  Fire-EMS, where he serves as battalion chief.

As a news reporter I have sat through hundreds of meetings in various town halls and county offices, but I'd never been to the city council meeting. It felt familiar and I inspected it from a reporter's point of view, I suppose.

The media always interests me at these things.

City council chambers are a more ornate than I am used to in county meeting rooms and town halls.

The gentleman on the left is Ed Hopkins, who received 45 years of service. He is on the police force. He is with Mayor Sherman Lea and Vice Mayor Joe Cobb.
My husband headed to the podium after his name was called.

My husband would not turn around and face me so I could get a decent picture.

The honorees with Mayor Lea.

The City of Roanoke Seal

I am very proud of my husband. He has served the citizens of Roanoke City for a very long time, and he has worked hard to keep people and their possessions safe. He has an important job overseeing numerous fire stations. He has plucked people from raging waters, made sure elderly folks were out of danger, pulled people from car wrecks, stayed up for over 24 hours fighting large structure fires, and otherwise wore himself out doing his job. He should be paid what a football player makes, but of course, he isn't.

He is a good man. Roanoke City has been lucky to have him. I only wish we could afford for him to retire, because he is getting too old to be saving people. Fighting fires is a young man's job.

Friday, October 05, 2018

The Minutia That Tears the Heart

The miniscule, off-the-cuff statement that comes unexpectedly, that pierces the heart, sometimes does the most damage.

The damage can be inexplicable, too. The pain can be for the other, for yourself, maybe even someone you've never met.

My heart is pierced with thousands upon thousands of holes. My emotions and my soul both, I imagine, look something like a bit of netting, thin strands of togetherness interwoven with space consisting of grief and agony. Here and there one would find gigantic tears, gapping places where some major event took away a large piece of that secret place inside of me.

This morning my second alarm went off - yes, I need two - and I realized I'd not yet said goodbye to my husband before he left for work.

We long ago established that I am not a morning person, while he is, and he despises a conventional breakfast anyway, preferring to eat a peanut butter sandwich or a slice of left over pizza over cereal or scrambled eggs. Everyone needs their alone time, and he has the early morning when he rises at 5 a.m. - such an ungodly hour! - and spends an hour gathering himself and preparing for his day.

After my alarm went off, I sat up quickly and grabbed my glassed for a look at the time. The lights were on in the kitchen, and I slipped from the bed and padded down the hallway. I softly called to him.

"Sweetie, are you still here?"

I heard him fold up the paper and jump up. "We actually got a newspaper this morning. I was reading it. I'm late!" He hurried past me to finish his grooming, brushing his teeth.

And with that, I felt my heart shed a tear for him. For he is 59 years old now, and if he wants to take an extra five minutes to read the paper, then he has earned that right. But he had to hurriedly kiss me goodbye and rush out the door, because he'd let time slide by a little longer than he'd anticipated.

This would be a good time to rail against the world, against this horrible economic system we've put in place, one that keeps people tied to clocks and schedules, and forces us all to bow down to corporate whips and politicians who don't give a damn if you're almost 60 and doing a younger man's job.

But I won't do that. I will only say that when I realized my beloved husband had to leave without finishing his newspaper, such a simple request, I felt a sting in my soul. Only a little rip, but a tear nevertheless.

Wednesday, April 11, 2018

I'm Still In Love

I have been married for 34 years and 5 months.
How nice to be able to say, with total certainty, that my husband and I are still in love.
I know this because we are careful with one another. We treat each other with respect. We hold hands while we watch TV. We laugh over the same silly things. We have long discussions about the state of the nation, the farm, the deer in the pasture.
He rubs my stomach every night  in the way that the physical therapist showed him, trying to help me stretch out the scar tissues that have knotted my inner muscles and that threaten to cause an immediate emergency by throttling my innards.
As for me, I wash his clothes and fix dinner, take care of his home, try to make us a nice nest. I'm pretty sure I'm not the easiest person in the world to live with, for I can be moody and distant sometimes. But then, so can he.

We are, after all, just humans.

This essay is part of the the April challenge from Kwizgiver. April 11 done! (Discuss your current relationship.)