I’ve known Denise for 7 years, she began as a home health aid for me, and later became a good friend. She wrote an essay about what she has seen me go through; this final installment is about how I changed from a patient into a real person. I couldn’t even *walk* when I began, but have shoveled my way through two winter storms on my own!
The New Apartment:
With all her health improvements, toward the end of 2019 Jackie decided she wanted to move into an apartment. Through the winter she started ordering household things she would need and the process of slowly packing that stuff began. She also began looking at apartments for rent ads, and did manage to go look at a few. This was something she was able to do on her own, she would not have been able to do so even six months prior. Then covid hit and shut everything down. So Jackie pretty much gave up on the idea. Six months later, in September, she got a letter from one of the complexes she had put an application in to. An apartment was going to be vacant the end of that month and would be available in October. Turns out it was a place she really was hoping to get into.
Lease terms agreed to, paperwork signed, keys obtained, and the apartment was hers. It’s a one bedroom, but very spacious bedroom and living room/dining area. The kitchen, however, is TINY. To the point only one person at a time can be in there. But overall, it’s VERY nice. It does have lots of storage. Even the tiny kitchen has more storage than what initially appeared.
Thus began the move. Which was something Jackie was able to actually participate in. A year before she was have simply been an observer. After twenty years at the same place, Jackie had accumulated a lot. We hauled carload after carload of things to the new apartment. And that is “WE”, she did as much as I did. Each time we unloaded a vehicle and took it in, I’d think “All this stuff is never going to fit in that apartment!”. But Jackie was determined, especially when it came to items for the kitchen. She found a home for EVERYTHING! And she did so much of it herself. Her furniture was the last to be moved. Once that happened, she was able to call it home.
There is nothing she can’t do for herself there. She cooks now, at any time of day as well. She can take care of things and clean the entire place. She’s able to do her own laundry, although I think she’d rather not as you do have to haul it to the laundry room! But, like most everything else these days, she can do it.
It’s quite the nice little place. Very comfy and you feel at home when you’re there. At least I do when I’m there! And it’s all Jackie’s.
Jackie has very much “returned” to what most people consider normal life. She can take care of ALL her personal needs. She can cook. She can work in the kitchen for several hours at night, not get tired, not hurt, and not pay for it the next day… She can shop for the things she needs for cooking. – and do that, in a large store, without the motorized cart, thank you very much! She can clean her apartment. She can do her own laundry. She can dye her own hair. Again, the things that most people take for granted in being able to do.
Now, if something last minute comes up and Jackie wants to do it, she does it. She can change clothes and be ready to leave within minutes. She found out about a Saturday rally on Friday evening. She went. By herself. And was there for many hours. All with no problem.
Jackie had a garden this past summer. She spent hours in it. Daily. The year before she had actually given up gardening. Given up HOPE of ever doing that again… So much so, that she had given away ALL of her gardening equipment and supplies. She truly thought gardening, something that was a core part of her, was gone to her forever.
Jackie gets up at 5:00 a.m. Daily. Good Lord!! That’s something that had never happened in her previous life, even before all the health issues befell her. She is able to function at that time of the day, in both body AND mind. She WORKS at her computer. At five in the morning…
What may be, and I hope so much that it is, the last health issue for Jackie to overcome has been the heart problems. The shortness of breath and the palpitations that occurred when we HIKED (not walked!) now scared her, when before she wouldn’t have cared, maybe even welcomed it… Such a complete 180 degree change in attitude. Now it was, finally, after so many, many years time to do something about it. Something Jackie now WANTED to do. A hearth cath was the absolute LAST thing she would have ever agreed upon when the rest of her health was failing. There was just no way she was ever going to go through that. She was adamant about it. However, with the great improvements of her health, and being able to function like a healthy person, she was ready to take on what, to me is so scary, the procedures to fix her heart. It wasn’t fixable with one cath. Nope. She had to go back in for another one a month and a half later. In the middle of a snow storm that dumped almost a foot of snow in our area. The complicated insertion of this stent was a procedure that would keep her overnight. Nope. They punted her that afternoon, she was doing so well.
Now, we are back to walking in state parks. Since we live in valley, pretty much most of those state parks are in mountains. Jackie’s been collecting trail maps. I think she’s going to be a pretty busy woman this year.
She wants to buy a bike. I’m sure that will happen. I have no doubt in my mind that she’ll be covering a lot of territory once she gets it.
Kayaking is another activity I KNOW she’ll do. It was another accomplishment on her list of many that she crossed off last year. She enjoyed it very much. So much so, that a kayak purchase is not too far off…
There are so many mundane every day tasks that we, as average able bodied people, do without a second thought. These were ALL things Jackie was not able to do for many, many years. Until we have, what I consider the good fortune and opportunity, to spend time with someone who is unable to do those things, it’s so hard to even imagine if one did actually stop to think about it. You really do have to be there to understand it to its deepest extent.
All the issues I described in the first part of this essay have all disappeared. And now the heart problems are a thing of the past. There really isn’t anything Jackie cannot do. The recovery, transformation in fact , in this past year and a half has been nothing short of amazing.
Hers is a story of determination – and inspiration.
And I am so, SO happy for her.