Constance Ore is a retired Teacher, Choir Director, and Organist. And a formidable cook.

October 28, 2008

Filed under: — Constance at 8:38 pm on Monday, October 27, 2008

chocolate lab fall nebraska hunting-dog
We are watching the leaves depart from the branches at a furious rate now, as winds have picked up and temperatures have gone below freezing. Alphie’s chocolate coat is particularly suited to the color palette of our pasture and woods, and he is always eager to lead us on the familiar paths as he appears to find new and interesting scents every time we go forth.

After setting forth my lovely Commandments, I commenced to break them across the weekend. Flu germs came happily into my beleaguered system to join the entrenched lung thing (which causes me to cough with those extended wheezes that one might hear from someone who has smoked unfiltered cigarettes for a lifetime) and it was too I sat down on the bridge over our stream and cried in dismay, frustration and despair while Alphie sat nearby looking sad and worried. Admittedly, he has that same look when he is not sure whether we will invite him along in the car, or when he is thinking that a treat should arrive, but it is a most sympathetic look nonetheless. Now, a few days later, I am past the flu part, but the cough goes on. My empathy toward asthmatics has increased a thousandfold
in the last days, and my dearest hope is that this too will pass.

October 22, 2008

Filed under: — Constance at 4:56 pm on Wednesday, October 22, 2008

The visit to the oncologist yesterday revealed the information that the advent of the new MDS chemotherapy (which was just getting started when I began the disease) radically changed the trajectory and outcome of the illness. He told me that he has several other patients who are in the “state of suspended animation” as I am. . . not in remission, but not advancing toward death, either. He reiterated that there is no point in doing a round of chemotherapy at this time as it would only weaken the fragile blood situation, and he commented, “We’ll not change a thing, because so far, you haven’t even had to have blood transfusions!” The three week old cold has now become something else; not pneumonia, but more like asthma. So it is off to a specialist to check out what is taking place inside the lungs. Poor body! It does try to deal with these onslaughts to the system, but it always seems to come up wanting. This leads me to the term “chronic” and all that it implies.

“In medicine, a chronic disease is a disease that is long-lasting or recurrent. The term chronic describes the course of the disease, or its rate of onset and development. As an adjective, chronic can refer to a persistent and lasting medical condition.”

Around 90% of seniors have chronic illnesses. This means that just about every gray haired person one meets each day is likely dealing with some degree of discomfort, and all of us may have met someone who is not stoic about it. . . this person might respond in gruesome detail to the polite inquiry, “How are you?” and usually, one’s mind has walked on long before the body can get away. (I should hasten to add that should you meet me and I ask, “How are you?” you are NOT required to smile through gritted teeth and say “Fine” while feeling dreadful; I speak of a different sort of experience entirely.)

As I embrace the lifestyle that now includes “Chronic”, I offer a few Commandments:

  • Thou shalt not covet thy neighbor’s good health and energy, it availeth thee nothing, but leadeth to a shrewish nature and a down-turned mouth.
  • Thou shalt not dwell upon thine own infirmities, for this doth darken thy spirit, and causeth it to descend to the depths, thus bringing nought but more misery into thy life.
  • Thou shalt not ask, “Why me?” for it hath no answer and it giveth no comfort, and the sound of a whining voice soon turneth away even the dearest of friends.
  • Thou shalt not forget to give thanks for the good things that are thine – faith, family, friends, doctors, and an abundance of blessings, known and unknown, for it is in these that thou shalt find thy strength and thy courage, and thy life will have joy and delight until the end of thy days.

October 14, 2008

Filed under: — Constance at 3:09 pm on Tuesday, October 14, 2008

Sanctuary is now in the center of autumn – the trees here are an expression of the Nebraska ethos; quiet and steady and not given to showiness. Many of them are just dropping leaves day by day, or turning beige or brown, so no tourists come around looking for our fall colors. The honey locusts on the hill are one exception because they end their season with a brief time of delicate, bright yellow leaves held out on the ends of small branches. Even under overcast skies, their gold color leaps out and enhances all the space around them. The other exceptions to the quiet retreat of summer are the occasional sumacs with an extraordinary red, particularly when the sun slants through them.

Alphie appears to have awakened from his late summer sluggishness; this morning he sniffed avidly at the grasses along the sides of the path, and then ran forward in a dash of speed, nose to the ground up into the forest and out of sight. When I rounded the corner, he was sitting waiting for me, looking quite pleased with himself. On the entire walk, he continued his sleuthing ways. He was bred to be a hunting dog, so perhaps a gene checked in to tell him that the season of game birds is upon us.

The cold that came on last week has settled in now and has taken me back into the “sickly” state. I always reflect on how fabulous it is to have ordinary days of good health when the body is functioning in its intended fashion. I am taking a powerful antibiotic and using an inhaler to loosen the fist around my chest. The proper functioning of the immune system is miraculous – the body identifies the interloper and creates and musters the correct white blood cells to gather and defeat the enemy, and life goes on. Realistically, with a very small resource to work with, my body is going to be struggling for a while, and it is hoped that the antibiotic will provide a defense shield against pneumonia. As ever, I am keenly aware of the world around me, and the dear ones who are mine to live near and with, and I am incredibly thankful for these gifts that God has crafted for my days on earth.

October 7, 2008

Filed under: — Constance at 7:30 am on Tuesday, October 7, 2008

Today, the scolding voice inside my head says, “What were you thinking?!” as Sunday’s activities are reviewed. I began by going to church at Plymouth with Heidi and Zoie and Kira, then driving to First Church so I could hear Charles play a wonderful jazz setting of “This Little Gospel Light of Mine” as a postlude. Upon my return to Seward, I walked Alphie, ate a hurried lunch, and then accompanied Charles to the Alumni Organ Recital where seven of the nine players were Charles’ former students. He also played, concluding the program. (The remaining player was a woman in her early 90’s who graduated from Concordia a year before Charles was born.) This recital was a closing event for the Homecoming weekend, and it continued the inauguration of the new Casavant organ in Heine Recital Hall on campus.

Everything within the day was good. Zoie had purple highlights in her hair, and as she walked through the morning and into church, one could tell that she had that mixed feeling of both wanting to be noticed for her outre’ coif and hoping that people wouldn’t stare. My perception was that for her, the day was all about her head. For me, the music, sermon, prayers, people and celebration of World Communion Sunday were all grand. In the afternoon, the small recital hall was packed with people, and many of them were delighted to see me and give me greetings. I should have been masked to remind others that I am not as they are, but I believe I would have felt like Zoie, only a great deal more so. The entire day was one in which I went against the admonitions of the doctor concerning my immune system. Today, I have scratchy eyes and sore lungs, with coughing beginning to commence, and I have to respond to the scolding voice in my head, “I hear you!” Sigh. I had my blood checked this morning, and the readings indicate a continued slow decline. This is not unlike walking along a narrow path on a cliff with a sizable drop on one side. As one commences, the path narrows almost inperceptibly, and the sense of unease grows as the walk continues. There is no stopping, no turning around, and no signs that a broader way lies ahead.