Sunday, October 11, 2009

The Favors Brigade

Dear Family and Friends,

I can appreciate now, in a way I couldn't before, what it's like caring for a bedridden loved one who's seriously ill. Those who've gone through it know all its ramifications.

There's been such joy and relief in recent days to have one friend after another delivering a meal a day! They've been delicious! I've also made a list of many of you local friends (and a few cousins) who offered to help in other ways too! But even organizing this takes time.

Seeing me tearfully admitting today to feeling overwhelmed, Stephanie Abrams (the new owner of Portland Yoga Studio) and Denny, another "angel," brain-stormed how to make these "works of mercy" of yours work even more easily for me and Francis. This is what we came up with:

Stephanie will be our "Favor Brigade Coordinator." I will give her a list of favors that would help us, -- e.g. sitting with Francis to take care of his needs while I go to a "Cooking for Cancer Prevention" workshop on October 15 from 5 - 7 pm.

Then those of you who can and are willing to do this or that task, (having given Stephanie your names by emailing her directly ahead of time) -- will get an email from her confirming that this will be YOUR FAVOR to do for us!

So if you would like to join the "Favor Brigade," please email Stephanie to tell her so --

Now a few stories:

Yesterday Jan, did our laundry, Pamela sorted and cleaned out the fridge to make space efficient, and Pat harvested a few ready-to-eat-veggies in the garden as well as shoveled extra sand inside the chicken run since the first sand laid down weeks ago had settled to the point where the sweet chickies, in taking their dust baths, had wiggled their way down to the hardware cloth!

Later Pat emailed: "I so enjoyed your chickens. They have such distinct personalities. One “red head” was especially personable. She kept pecking at my leg from the side or behind as though to say, “Hey, pay attention…I’m hungry!” It was so funny to see them follow me around in the coop area. I was also amazed that they never tried to escape when I went in or out of the caged area."
I have been giving Francis massages for months trying to ease his pain. (We originally thought the problem was musculo-skeletal.) But I'm massaging him again regularly now that I've discovered the great importance of massage for someone bedridden for a long time, -- to prevent embolism and blood clots and skin breakdown. (Francis has spent the last 17 days in bed, and to some extent even before he was hospitalized on Sept 24.)

We're very fortunate that even in the months before he was hospitalized (on Sept 24) and in pain, he turned to yoga for relief (which he got, though relief was temporary.) As a result he kept himself strong.

So when the VNA nurse checked on him yesterday and was pleased, e.g. that his skin looks good... (She said he wasn't typical,) -- that made me happy. The narcotics are so drying I'm using sesame oil on him. The massage is also just for the pleasure of it, to distract him from his discomfort, always having to lie there, though he's been so patient.

Francis has been proud of his daily yoga practice. Even in the hospital, (the PT enjoyed telling me) -- when she brought him down the hall for his walk, he surprised her by holding the railing, straightening his arms and easing his buttocks down for a good stretch!

Last Friday the doctor and nurses at the Radiation Institute who wheeled Francis (on a bed) out to the car enjoyed my telling them Francis did his first handstand at age 62. Of course since his 70's he doesn't kick up the regular way anymore, (and I don't either) but uses the space between two walls to walk up backwards on the wall he's leaning on. (I use a doorway, but he's too tall for a doorway.)

Yes, I know it's late.

BUT I had a deep muscle massage of my own this evening to release my right upper arm since I couldn't on my own totally clear out the spasm I got last week. The massage done right here in our home -- (and gratis from expert rolfer Christina McChristian ...She wouldn't take no for an answer... did me a world of good!

AND, I really wanted to get out this note tonight! I can sleep till 9:00 since that's when I give Francis his long term insulin. He's turning into a later morning riser these days (as I usually am) though he's been sleeping for some time now.

Francis and I thank you from our hearts, dear family and friends. You're all so generous and loving it moves us to the core.

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