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This Day in My History


The secret of health for both mind and body is not to mourn for the past, nor to worry about the future, but to live the present moment wisely and earnestly.

- Buddha

Yesterday's Entries

2000:  Rocky 2 (SF Symphony night -- a surprisingly delightful entry, if I do say so myself!)
2001:  Love Letters (that year's Boy Scout letter  correspondence with  the town curmudgeon)
2002:  An Ethel Queen and a Judy Queen (2 shows in L.A.)


Psychiatric evaluations.  Lots and lots and lots of psychiatric evaluations (transcription).


No time for music; just one brief PhotoShop tutorial on brushes.


The morning news: "Ding dong, the witch is dead" (or at least captured)

Scheduled for tonight:

Angels in America, Part 2.


Confused again.  Blue, clear skies in the morning; grey at the moment.



14 December 2003

There is a battleground in my body. I picture opposing forces staring at each other across a demilitarized zone daring the other to make a move. I think there are cold/flu germs on one side, which are stomping back and forth trying very hard to dive in for the kill, but I picture the flu vaccine molecules standing like Braveheart, faces painted half blue, steely-eyed determination, ready to leap forward to crush any germs who dare move out of line.

My body has been feeling that "I am going to get sick but I’m not sick yet" feeling for three days now. There will be the imperceptible scratch throat. The kind that makes you stop a minute and think–"wait a minute. Is my throat feeling a bit rough, or was that my imagination?"

Then there will be the sniffle. Just one or two, but definitely a sniffle. And the errant sneeze now and then. Perhaps the body temperature may flash a bit too cold or a bit too warm just momentarily.  There will be a kind of burning behind my eyes.

But the vaccine is holding its own and I remain outwardly -- and inwardly -- healthy.

Today I got reinforcements in the form of our yearly boxes of citrus. We’ve been buying fresh oranges and grapefruit from a guy who sells it as a fundraiser for his choral group for decades. When the kids were little, I would get two boxes of oranges and one box (or a half a box) of grapefruit. By Christmas morning, when a volunteer would squeeze fresh orange juice for however many of us there were–sometimes as many as 10–we would be down to the last of both boxes.

As the kids began leaving and our foreign students were no longer spending Christmas with us, my order for fruit began to get smaller. Last year I ordered half a box of grapefruit and one box of oranges. I finally threw away the last of the oranges in about June, I think. There was very little juice left in them by that time and they had turned to little orange stones in the fridge.

This year I reduced the orange order to half a box and I think that half box of each will be just about right.

The grapefruit are Texas ruby reds and sweet enough to peel, section, and eat just as you would an orange. No need for sugar. So I’ve just had a whole grapefruit and feel all those vitamin C molecules rushing in to shore up the flu vaccine molecules, letting them know that I really am serious about warding off illness this season, pat them on the back and tell them what a great job they are doing (so far) at keeping me healthy and to keep up the good work. 

It must be terrifying to have Alzheimers. I went yesterday with my mother and two cousins (and their spouses) to visit my aunt Barb again. An Alzheimers facility is really a very scary place to visit. Not scary in the sense that you need to be afraid of the patients, but scary to see what happens to a mind when it begins to cease to function.

You look at these people and realize that they once lived full, productive lives and now there is a vacant look to them. Some of them search your face, trying to find something familiar about you. Others smile cheerfully and greet you as a long lost friend, though you have never met. Others are so far gone and so medicated that they sit and stare, vacantly.

There is, of course, the old joke about the nice thing about having Alzheimers is that you are constantly meeting new people and visiting new places, but I try to imagine the terror of waking up and never knowing where you are, or who the strangers around you are. And if those strangers try to get you to remember things, the frustration of not being able to click in and pull up those memories.

Barb was good yesterday. She can’t remember anything current  for more than a split second, but she remembers old memories and it’s always fun to watch her and my mother sparring like they used to do. She even remembered who I was, perhaps not my name, but when my mother told her about my house-cleaning marathon, she smiled and told me I should write about it...writing was something we both always shared; she was a brilliantly witty writer before being struck with this terrible illness.

She had mentioned some time back that she missed family dinners, so we brought in food–-a fried chicken dinner with salads. The facility let us use a back room so we could have some privacy and we just sat there eating and visiting. Barb obviously enjoyed herself, though she kept asking how far it was to home ("home" being her room).

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She was surprised to hear that it was Christmastime (she had already forgotten the Christmas tree outside the door where we were eating) and thought it was June. When asked how old she thought she was, she said 40 and was somewhat incredulous to discover that she’s twice that age.

When we had finished eating, her daughter walked her back to her room.

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When they got in the room, Barb began to relax and she said that now she knew where she was. I think of what it must have felt like sitting with people who were sort of familiar to her, but having no concept that she was still in the same facility, only a hallway from "home." She picked up a brush from her dressser and went into the bathroom to brush her hair. When she came out she held up the brush and asked whose it was. My mother had bought her a box of truffles which were sitting on her bedside table. She had eaten one before our lunch but was surprised when we opened the box for her that there was candy inside and wanted to know where it had come from.

But all things considered, it was a good day for her, mentally. It was good for all of us to be there together to enjoy a meal. And even if she isn’t aware that it’s Christmas, it was good for all of us to feel we’d had a bit of Christmas with her, even if she’d forgotten our visit before we got to the parking lot.



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Marta and Ned with their new puppy, Bert
(they had a cat named Ernie at the time)

For more photos, please visit My Fotolog and My FoodLog

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Weight Lost to date:  48.6 lbs

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Created 12/13/03