Thursday, May 14, 2020

SURVIVING "SHELTERING IN PLACE"

Betty needs a haircut!
5/7/2020 Chatterbox
CG Sentinel
Betty Kaiser

That crazy lady photo in today’s column is me—needing a haircut! And today’s column is a rambling description of the new Shelter in Place lifestyle that we’re all living. 

I agree with Tom Hanks who said, “There’s no such thing as a Saturday anymore. Every day is just today.”

In this pandemic era, every day seems like the one before. Time is running them all together. News flashes are constant and contradictory. The government rules to protect us from the coronavirus often change from day to day. The truth is that sometimes, I am overwhelmed knowing what to do and when to do it.

Do I agree with the need for restrictions? 

You bet I do! Anything that keeps people from catching COVID-19 and saves thousands of lives is a good thing. I support the rules wholeheartedly.

But do I like the rules on a minute-by-minute, day-by-day, week-by-week basis? 

Nope. Not at all. Especially when it means staying home 24/7.

At first, staying home and sheltering, didn’t bother me. I could find plenty to do around the house (organize photos, clean closets, sweep the garage) and a weekly search for groceries kept me busy (and uptight) at the stores.

I learned how to wear a mask and gloves while shopping and to stay six feet away from other shoppers and neighbors. I made hand sanitizer and use lots of hand soap while washing my hands and singing “Happy Birthday.” Until now, I never knew how often I touched my face. Now I know not to do that!

But…once the food cupboards were full, new recipes tried, and phone calls made, I tired of cleaning house and I missed driving into town, entertaining my friends, going to church and visiting my favorite Eugene haunts.

Boredom started setting in. And let me tell you, it’s not easy to get bored around my house. There’s always something to do. Six manicured acres of rose bushes, vegetable gardens, trees and meadow grass will keep you busier than a bee. Just trying to keep the weeds from taking over the property is exhausting. It’s also not fun and I need fun!

Between the cold, blustery, rainy days and our advanced ages we limit the time we spend working outside. A couple of hours and it’s back into the house to catch up with emails, phone calls, texts from the kids, laundry, bills, naps, reading or TV. That’s it! Day after day after day.

Fortunately, Chuck and I are used to working together and that’s a good thing! He likes to help—on his terms. And my idea of household chores is way different from his. An example: He’s still surprised that doing the dishes includes cleaning off the stove and counter tops every day! 

So sometimes a little togetherness feels like too much and I’m sure he feels the same way!

Shelter in Place at our house includes us and two Dachshunds. And right now we’re all feeling stressed and a little claustrophobic . The dogs sense our agitation and can’t settle down. They walk around whining for attention or sit at the back door barking to go out and chase a squirrel. They quickly come back inside and start all over again. It’s a merry-go-round.

But last week, I had a revelation. Everyone was in the kitchen. The dogs were sitting on their cushions in front of the French doors, guarding the property. I was gathering ingredients and putting together a spaghetti sauce for dinner and Chuck was making doggie meatballs.

As I looked around, I realized that while the house was eerily quiet, everyone was at peace. We were safe, happy and healthy. “Aha!” I thought, “This new normal is working.” But it was almost too quiet. So I went over and turned on the TV so we could all watch the depressing morning news while doing our part to shelter in place.

So, yes! We can do this!  But…I'm sure looking forward to a haircut!

One final thought: As we mourn all of those who have lost their lives in this pandemic, we do not know what the future holds for us. Our future is limited by the guidelines we’ve been given. Cooperation is a good thing. Our job is  to trust those making decisions. 

They are literally a matter of life or death.

Please join me in praying regularly for those who have COVID-19 and those who care for them: healing, endurance and peace for the patients; wisdom, compassion, energy, rest and protection for first responders and medical personnel.  Also, for the virus to stop spreading and the researchers to create vaccines to prevent it.

And one more thing—let’s all be grateful for our blessings. Looking at some parts of the world we know that it could be worse. 

Can I get an Amen?

Contact Betty Kaiser’s Chatterbox by email bchatty@bettykaiser.com



















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Monday, April 6, 2020

SURVIVING THE UNEXPECTED (with prayer and toilet paper)

4/2/2020 The Chatterbox
Betty Kaiser

Hello, Grovers! The Chatterbox is back! After 22 years of conversing with my CG Sentinel readers, I had to stop writing for awhile and I missed you. Today’s column is a short update of my unbelievably crazy life these past months.

It all began with a dog attack. One year ago, on March 30, a large dog tried to take off my right arm. I was taken by ambulance to RiverBend, met by a trauma surgeon and informed that my wound could not be closed with simple stitching. I couldn’t see that there was no skin covering the raw flesh because I was wearing two sweatshirts. I quietly heard the surgeon say, “It’s serious and requires an immediate debridement surgery, another surgery and eventually a skin graft.”

In other words, It was a gory mess.

My healthy, happy self was changed in an instant. I was in shock. There are pictures of me just looking bewildered as I jumped through all the necessary hoops to restore my arm function. I truly feared that healing and restoration wasn’t possible.

Family, friends and strangers prayed.

I was in shock for weeks. My condition was described as “fragile.” The first two surgeries I barely knew what was happening. The skin graft was a real eye opener. I always wondered how they transferred skin from one place to another. In layman’s terms, they shaved a large area of skin off my thigh and stitched it over the skinless wound. Both the leg and arm were bandaged and the healing began.

I wore a wound vacuum attached to my arm and around my neck 24 hours a day for weeks. Eventually, it and the stitches were removed from the arm.  I wore a compression sleeve for months to continue the healing. The thigh skin removal was like a severe sunburn as it slowly healed. The ugly, crater-like hole of the arm wound area looks and feels like shoe leather.

Many thanks to modern medicine and an army of medical personnel who did everything they could to restore my arm. Along the way, I learned how to be brave and calm; to follow directions, endure multiple procedures, operate a wound vac machine and trust my husband to change bandages. One of the frustrating parts? It was two months before I could take a shower. Chuck washed my hair in the sink and I took sponge baths. Oy!

So much tissue was lost that I remained under the surgeon’s care until this year. The wound area is still tender and ugly as sin and there is residual nerve damage. Everyday life is hard on the arm and wrist: lifting, typing, stirring, opening jars, digging in the garden are all painful. But thanks to great care and hundreds of prayers, I survived and I am a grateful woman.

Now, you would think that would be enough medical trauma and drama for a little old lady in one year. But there’s more. In August, a routine exam showed that I had a non-malignant tumor of the parotid gland. The tumor was sitting on the facial nerve making it difficult surgery to remove.  More prayers were sent up and thanks to God and a great surgeon, I again survived the unexpected.

Finally, just before Christmas, when life was starting to get normal, more trouble was brewing. My husband has a long history of heart disease dating back to a 5-way bypass in 2003. In Dec. he began having difficulty breathing outside in cold air. No one thought that was a problem. “They” were wrong. He ended up at RiverBend, after a heart attack and stroke that resulted in more surgeries and weeks of Home Health Care. Many tears were shed and prayers were offered. Chuck survived the unexpected.

This year, for one brief month in January, life was looking up. Then came another surprise. A coronavirus pandemic (COVID-19) arrived in America.

Unexpected? You bet.

Now, to everyone out there who is wondering what the world is coming to…I don’t know either. Only God knows. And so we pray. Please know that I’m following the rules and worrying right along with you and we will get though this. 

However, we are just about out of toilet paper. Kleenex, anyone?

Many thanks to all of you for your encouragement and friendship though-out my journalism years. May God bless you with hope, joy and good health as we plow through the year 2020! Keep looking up, praying and believing that we will survive.

Remember: This, too, shall pass!

P.S. After this went to press, a large box of toilet paper arrived in the mail from my sweet, thoughtful daughter who lives in Calif. Thank you, Kathryn!

 
Contact Betty Kaiser’s Chatterbox by email bchatty@bettykaiser.com