Monday, March 29, 2010

Morbid Me


The photos in this post have nothing to do with Morbid Me. I added photos because I have a hard time writing here without them. Maybe, at the end of this post, there will be a connection with photos and words, but I’m not counting on it. I just gotta write.


Worry, worry, worry…

Hypochondriacs are sad, but so funny! I know a few and when I listen to them cry the blues, I often giggle at their traumatized faces. It's insensitive, I know.

When I was a child, I saw my East Slavic Grandma on Sundays. She was a human medical reference book who lost her husband to lung cancer when I was about a year old. From her, I learned everything there was to know about high blood pressure, diabetes, corns and bunions, varicose veins, heart palpitations, and how to order a pound of lunch meat in Ukrainian speak. The family rolled their eyes and exchanged glances at the supper table while she shared her ratings of laxatives needed for her constipation. She wore support hose like knee-high socks and only wore to-the-knee cotton dresses, year round - never trousers or slacks. Bless her heart, she laughed hard at her own jokes and when she ran out of Scotch tape she wrapped Christmas gifts with electrical tape.


New River in West Virginia soon…

She was on a first-name basis with her physician who probably owned at least a few Cadillacs, thanks to Grandma and those like her. I give her credit, not for the fact she imagined having every disease ever recorded, but for the fact she was brave enough to take control and face her own mortality. Diabetes challenged all her adult life but a stroke/heart attack took her in 1981 at the age of 83. Grandma, my Dad’s mother, didn’t have an easy life but managed to make it a long one.


Hello, backyard entertainer.
We realized Grandma needed new eyeglasses one Thanksgiving Day. Her pet parakeet, Petey, broke out of his cage, flew through the kitchen and pooped into the turkey gravy. My aunt, horrified, watched Grandma whip the poop with a wisk and blended Petey’s poop perfectly. It was great gravy and no one knew of the secret ingredient except for me and my horrified aunt who told the story after Grandma passed away. I love it! I wish I knew Grandma longer, into my adult years.


Waiting… Cherry Blossoms behind a new nectar feeder.

What happened to me about fifteen years ago, I don’t know. The thought of seeing a physician made me so sick that I kept putting it off and avoided doctors almost completely. I’m not a hypochondriac but for at least the past decade, I’ve been certain I could be terminally ill with one of those diseases that don't have any symptoms.


West Virginia mountains. This is where I broke away from the group for some quiet time. A year ago. Muddlety was magical, even in the rain.

Knowing I needed a good physical exam tormented me so. There were reasons for my delay, always intending to lose some pounds before I made an appointment for a female physical and I always wanted to quit smoking first. Fourteen months ago I struggled to breathe after a short walk downhill to the mailbox and back. That’s when I kicked the habit.


Never minded pain in the dentist’s chair but always scared to death of physicians, their tests, and the possibility of gloom and doom results. I avoided health education in any form – Dr. Oz on the Oprah Show, in particular. Hands over ears, la la la la! Change that channel!

We moved out-of-state twice in five years. Now, that’s real stress which resulted in weight gain and a list of ailments too minor to remember…


They’re coming out from hiding now. All the Ferguses.

Excuses, excuses. I have plenty of them.

Our neighbors in Delaware, Lori and Tom, were an Air Force officer family who moved around the country twelve times in fifteen years with two children, a dog, two cats, a gecko, and a birdie. They moved to Virginia in summer 2005. We moved to North Carolina a month later. Since then, they’ve moved three times. I admire the military families, their strength, the support they show for each other, and their well-rounded personalities. Living next door to that family made Delaware a great time for three years. However, gorgeous Lori, at the age of 36, developed breast cancer during that time. One spring morning we leaned on the fence and chatted about her chemo and all the stress. She, laughing and smiling, was backlit by the rising sun and I remember the horrible knot in my throat as I watched handfuls of her lovely blonde hair drift away in the breeze.


Lori had two sweet boys who mourned the death of a Red-winged Blackbird under a willow oak in their backyard, dug a grave, and sprinkled black oil sunflower seeds over it. They will be very good men.

I’m chicken shit and too afraid of death and dying. Too afraid that no one would care for me if I couldn’t take care of myself any longer.



What happened a month ago, I don’t know, but I found myself sort of trapped in an examining room with a professional slash compassionate female physician who ordered so many tests for me in one hour that I didn’t have time to think about it nor freak out. Eight or ten vials of blood I gave. She knew she’d better get it all done quickly because I might have fled at any moment, waving good-bye and looking back to the front desk from the doorway, “I’ll call and reschedule…Sorry, thank you!”


My blood pressure was elevated. That wasn’t news to me. It’s been high for years and I ignored it.

I need to work on relaxation and learn to allow someone else to drive.


On Thursday last week, I sucked it up and when back to the doctor to discuss my test results, panic-stricken. Dr. Barbara and I were delighted as it appears I’m not going to die anytime soon. Other than blood pressure meds and a little diet tweaking to help with cholesterol and sugar levels, I’m very good!

Here’s a result that made me cry tears of relief in the doctor’s office, after thirty-seven years of smoking cigarettes:

Chest x-ray: Normal. Good.


I’ll visit a nutritionist next week about the belly fat and I’m certain the visit will be blog worthy, so stay tuned. I’ll have a bone density test in a few weeks. As for the colonoscopy, I can’t seem to get excited about it yet and might need a few glasses of wine before I make that call.

After seeing and hearing my results on Thursday, I felt euphoric and surreal for most of the day until the Morbid Me came back for a few minutes. Thoughts, eyes wide: What if they misread the chest x-rays or the EKG or the mammogram or the paps smear? What if Dr. Barbara withheld bad news to keep me coming back?


Oh, for crying and laughing out loud! ;-)

Sunday, March 21, 2010



Welcome to Koi Joy at my house. Some photographs speak for themselves but I can’t resist adding a few words today. This is my 500th post on Mary’s View.

Spring cleaning

reveals our true colors.


Let go of winter's appeal for resting.



Rid of the tea water and


old algae that suffocates and clogs.

Rid of sludge and decay


rid of everything that bundles


laugh and smile


because it’s time to be busy with growth,
to get moving,

to see the sun

to feel the heat, and


to get jiggy wid it.


Sow some wild oats!



Swirl and gush and look


for brighter days.




Spin on your feet with arms wide open.

It's Spring, once again.

Tuesday, March 16, 2010

Licker Sisters

Recently, a very good friend noted she would rather write about her beloved pet while his warm body sits next to her than to write an obituary.

I’m annoyed right now. I expect Chloe to outlive her life expectancy because I love and care for her so well.


Already deaf and almost blind, the gal often appears confused.


Bella, only six years old, needs a playmate and I’m happy to fill in but I don't run nearly as fast as Chloe used to...


Generous at heart, she'll offer me all of her 237 toys in one evening.

Chloe’s shrinking, losing muscle mass fast, drinking lots of water, and emptying her bladder on the rugs. Her kidneys are failing and there’s nothing we can do except to change her diet and unfortunately, she’s a picky eater.

I don’t know what lies ahead because I’m dwelling on the now. I won’t even Google it. Maybe later.

She’ll be fourteen in June. We’ll have a nice party this year! If Chloe were to choose her birthday cake, it would be Cheezecake sprinkled with bacon bits. I think I can whip up something she'd like. And we'll all wear birthday hats.


Old gal stills gets around nicely with bouncy steps. Lately, though, I’ve seen some scarecrow action in her legs and I really can’t remember the last time I saw her run. Might have been a year ago. I miss that…


Then, I wonder if she will ever stop digging? Often chilled, we can hear her teeth chatter in the next room, like a woodpecker on vinyl siding. Hence, she earned another nickname, “Woody”. I wish she could hear us laugh at her.

And there are days when I want to clunk her on the head, feeling sick and tired of the teeth chattering and whining and the constant following and sitting at my feet. Leave me alone, girl.

Me, on my hands and knees sopping up pee-soaked rugs at 5:15 a.m. and again at 4:30 p.m..

…how ‘bout if I clunk you on the head, Chloe? Maybe you’ll see and hear again if I clunk you hard enough. And stop peeing on the rugs! Dammit.

Damn my impatience and selfishness.


The thought of losing Chloe makes my mind and body ill but the thought of Bella being lonely hurts even more. I watch them bond, still, after six years together.

Bella, who has been happy serving in a lower hierarchy, has stepped up to be the alert dog while still maintaining her peasant status.



This is why I worry for her.


No matter how we lose Chloe, I will need to allow Bella to say good-bye. That one, special, horrible, inevitable day haunts me. I don’t think I can live through taking Chloe for her last ride in the car. Sure, I realize dogs don't grasp the meaning of “good-bye”, but I would definitely want to give Bella the opportunity to sniff 'n kiss her Licker Sister for the last time.

So, for now, I’m planning a birthday party in June with birthday hats, ice cream, cheesey cupcakes, and candles,


Daddy’s making somethin' in the kitchen,


and we’ll get crazy and wiggle tonight!