Saturday, July 20, 2019

Talking about many things to celebrate

Sitting on a bench at the bay
I once feared I would never see my grandchildren, and now they are 2 and almost 4, an event celebrated at a family cookout last week, followed by a double dose of deliciousness at Diane and David's in Wellfleet this weekend. Nell and Callen are both July babies, hence the family cookout last week.

This weekend we played at the bay (warm enough to swim in) and in tide pools the beach, ate at the dock, enjoyed ice cream that dripped all over us, and, due to the unusual heat, spent more time in the house than we would have otherwise done, but we played board games and talked, and I soaked all that up also, because the "scenery" in Diane's deck garden is beautiful also, and just looking at my grandchildren's beautiful faces was scenery enough. Not to mention, which is what I just did, enjoying two of my own "babies," Ben and Joe, and talking on the phone to Katie.

I thought I would never find my watch, but it miraculously appeared, and I feared I would never get that darn stitch out, but guess what, I did.

Last time I wrote, I sounded so frustrated, and then, sorry to say, I disappeared.

I didn't actually think the stitch would be in my cheek forever, but I wasn't sure how I would get it out. I finally went to the CVS Minute Clinic in Northampton, waited less than five minutes, and a lovely nurse practitioner removed the stitch. The area still doesn’t look great because I’m applying Efudex, the chemotherapy cream to it.

The one that I was worried about, on my wrist, also just needs Efudex, while one at my neck, which seems to have disappeared, is going to need a Mohs surgery.  I thought that because it was darker, it was a melanoma, but the one on my wrist was just more of the same.

With the birthday kids
I was wrong about the misplaced watch, also. I thought that because I couldn’t find my watch, I was losing my mind, a thought process that is the opposite of what Susan Krauss Whitbourne Ph.D., suggested people do in a piece headlined, “Mindlessness andMemory Slips: How to Find What You’ve Lost.”

“Don't jump to conclusions that you're losing your mental abilities,” she writes.

I actually followed the recommended steps.

“Instead of panicking, sit down and think.  Reconstruct the series of steps you followed when you put the item down. Remind yourself of what you were thinking and feeling. Context-dependent memory, in which you put yourself in the same frame of mind, is your best friend right now. You need to reconstruct the entire scenario mentally, walking through it like a crime scene.”

In a New Yorker essay, When Things Go Missing, Kathryn Shultz wrote, "At best, our failure to locate something that we ourselves last handled suggests that our memory is shot; at worst, it calls into question the very nature and continuity of selfhood. (If you’ve ever lost something that you deliberately stashed away for safekeeping, you know that the resulting frustration stems not just from a failure of memory but from a failure of inference. As one astute Internet commentator asked, “Why is it so hard to think like myself?”) Part of what makes loss such a surprisingly complicated phenomenon, then, is that it is inextricable from the extremely complicated phenomenon of human cognition.

This entanglement becomes more fraught as we grow older. Beyond a certain age, every act of losing gets subjected to an extra layer of scrutiny, in case what you have actually lost is your mind. Most such acts don’t indicate pathology, of course, but real mental decline does manifest partly as an uptick in lost things."

She continues, "No wonder losing things, even trivial things, can be so upsetting. Regardless of what goes missing, loss puts us in our place; it confronts us with lack of order and loss of control and the fleeting nature of existence. When Patti Smith gives up on finding her black coat, she imagines that, together with all of the world’s other missing objects, it has gone to dwell in a place her husband liked to call the Valley of Lost Things."

I really think that is where my cherry red watch went. It was one of my favorites. And then it simply disappeared. Either that or someone at the jewelry store absconded with it. When I gave up looking for it, at least I had some closure.

I sensed that the purple watch might have joined it. Either that, or it was at the BF’s house. But he said he looked all over and couldn't find it.

The other day I was lying on his floor doing one of the exercises that my occupational therapist has prescribed for strengthening my rhomboids. Did I say I have now added an occupational therapist to my long list of experts? Probably not. The goal is to loosen up the tendons in my hands and wrists . Graft vs. host disease of the skin has tightened them up to the extent that my left hand won’t open all the way when I try to lay it flat.

The light therapy, ECP, has loosened up my fascia and skin, but not enough in my hands. In yoga positions such as down dog, my left hand looks like a claw, and I’m working towards flattening it out. The rhomboid strengthening is partially because it’s all tied together and also because of the chronic pain around my left shoulder blade.

As I was lying on the floor, I turned my head sideways and saw something purple under the bench. It was my watch. I whooped and hollered for joy!

I was not crazy after all. A wonderful sense of closure floated over me. I have to think about why my default was to blame myself, but, judging from the passages I quoted, that is a common thing to do.

Here’s something I wrote about once being the Queen of Rashes. My skin isn’t so great, and it is really uncomfortable to cover up as much as I do at the beach, but I’m glad that that was then and this is now.

No comments: