Hard Times for the Vulnerable

Spoiler Alert:  This post may ruin the season finale of A Million Little Things for you if you haven’t seen it yet!

I have to admit I’m in a position of incredible privilege relative to the quarantine. I have a tiny house on wheels to myself (well, with 2 cats who let me live here), on a huge wooded lot, with nearby-but-not-too-close neighbors who all care for one another like family. This Saturday we’re having a community garden building day. Our existing garden was just fine for me last summer, but more neighbors want to participate this year. The fence walls have been penetrated by droves of rabbits, sections have become overgrown with invasive weeds. We decided to build a spiffy new structure with raised beds, since none of us are getting any younger. We’re ramping up the garden production this year to ensure a steady, safe food supply through whatever the near future brings. We hope to grow enough to help support our local food bank.


Working From Home—Defend Your Right

Hello all,

Here is my check-in from quarantine:

My acupuncture clinic closed 2 weeks ago for the duration. My massage therapist works part-time in a nursing home and was definitely exposed to the virus (11 confirmed staff cases, 32 confirmed residents). I don’t dare try another, especially since any therapist who works on me is going to have to review my X-rays, and hooking that up might not be possible right now. My chiropractor is staying home, but his colleague who knows me has agreed to see me today, as I’m in yellow-zone pain, occasionally skating into red. I worry about going to the office, but if I don't, I'll have a vomiting migraine by Friday.


Greetings from Self-Quarantine

Hello Readers! I have so many ideas for posts right now, but I bet your attention spans are as short as mine for anything but obsessing on our current situation. I think what we need today is a check-in. I’ll go first, then you tell me in the comments what it’s like for you.

I’m super stressed right now because my cat is scheduled for a medical procedure tomorrow at a specialty nuclear medicine facility in Seattle, 81 miles away. He has to stay there at least 2 nights, possibly up to 10, but the average is 2 to 3. They don’t do releases on Sundays, so he’ll either be there 2 or 4 nights. I feel like I’m skating in under the wire—non-emergency services like this could be closed down at any time. But he can’t be released until his radiation level reaches a certain point, so if they close the clinic, they have to complete treatment for the cats that are already admitted.


Machinery: The Great Equalizer

I finally got my Tonka lesson last week. What is a Tonka lesson, you ask? Tonka belongs to my neighbor, Steve, who is a retired park ranger. Steve spends his “retirement” working harder than any employed person I know, turning his 7.5-acre wooded lot into his own personal park.

Steve accomplishes most of his work with his own mini excavator, which he named Tonka and actually has a name plate for. He loves this machine and he runs it like an extension of his own body. I watched recently as he drove it around our loop road, ducking the arm so easily to avoid a low-hanging tree branch, I never noticed his hands moving on the controls.


Coronavirus: When You’re One of the “Only”

I am probably in the bottom 30% of people qualified to talk about the coronavirus COVID-19, but there are 2 reasons why I’m doing it today. One—many people in my audience are medically vulnerable, and two—I’m just an hour’s drive north of the epicenter of coronavirus deaths in Washington State. I have a much funner topic I’d rather write about (stay tuned for next week!) but I feel my audience craves messages of acknowledgment and support right now.


When to Stop Fighting and Ease Up

Wow. Last week I was so tired, so foggy, that I started my Easy ButtonTM post and never got to the point I meant to make with it.

Where I fell off the edge with my story was, I went to see my Nurse Practitioner a while back for my 6-month bloodwork (you get that when you’ve had a major, near-fatal trauma, to make sure your bashed-in organs are still functioning as they should). My test revealed “subclinical hypothyroid.” This means my reading was low normal, but I had the elevated cholesterol pattern associated with hypothyroid, and several other symptoms that made her want to start me on medication.


Time to Hit the Easy Button

Some marketing exec for Staples has joined the 1 percent for thinking up the Easy ButtonTM ad campaign, I’m sure. That concept was absorbed instantly into popular culture.

My blog was due Wednesday and I started two topics that fizzled out before the fuse reached the detonator. I thought, “I need to hit the Easy ButtonTM this week.” Which isn’t quite as lazy as you might think—I’ve been noodling on this topic for weeks, because I’ve become aware of my own Easy ButtonsTM lately.


Sidelined: When Your Health Issue Calls Time Out

Just my luck (or my body's dramatic response to wide swings in air pressure). Western Washington, where I live, has been under an iron curtain of rain and gloom for about a solid month. During this time we had a 6-day snowstorm and not one, but two “Pineapple Express” rainstorms, which are known for dumping huge quantities of water in a short time and causing flooding. Indeed, a flood emergency was declared for our state a week ago.

So when Monday dawned clear, sunny, and warm, I was excited to get a bike day. So excited that I ignored the shimmery vision, slight nausea, and sinus headache that heralded a full-blown migraine on the way. Even when I bent over to pick up the cat dishes and floor rushed up at my face, I thought, “it’s just a little morning vertigo; it will clear.” Never mind that the only time I have vertigo is when a migraine is starting.


Stability as a Coping Tool

One morning last fall, I left the house to go do an interview for a freelance reporting job. I work from home, so it’s unusual for me to be dressed in street clothes and leaving at 8:00 AM. My neighbors, Steve and Paul, who were building a shed in my yard, were surprised to see me dressed like an adult and moving purposefully that early in the morning. I explained that I was on my way to interview a prominent local veterinarian. Steve grinned knowingly and said, “You’re stabilizing.”

Steve is involved with orgs that help people transition from homelessness and poverty. I didn’t think a lot of his remark until last week, when I went to pick my glasses up after having them repaired. The office manager and frame fitter, Linde, had a tragedy in her life a few years ago when her husband fell from the deck of their summer cabin and fractured his spine. Unlike me, he did sever his spinal cord and he’s a paraplegic. He also had a traumatic brain injury, and it was rough going for the first year. The trajectory of their life as a couple changed dramatically.


Ableism in Animal Rescue: A Story

My dear friend Morgan* lost her very elderly dog not long ago. She raised him from a puppy and it was a hard loss. Last month Morgan made the brave choice to open her heart to another dog. She wanted to rescue an adult dog, because after losing a senior dog, it can be hard to adjust to puppy energy. And Morgan wanted to rescue a dog who needed her too.

Morgan lives in an area with large towns spaced about 45 miles apart, and no big cities nearby. The animal shelters in her region are small, and most are run by private rescue groups not affiliated with an SPCA or Humane Society. Morgan took to the internet, where it’s easy to see all the dogs available for adoption at the various rescue agencies. She had a good feeling about one dog she saw at a small private rescue agency about 200 miles away. She emailed the agency and introduced herself.