wearing sunglasses in the rain

Trigger warning: this is about dementia. I wrote this over ten years ago.

wearing sunglasses in the rain

I am weeping for you both

you have cared for her
for better or worse, for richer or poorer, in sickness and health

and she has lost her memory

you told me on the phone
that it’s not that bad

you say it again in the room

I knew before I saw her
that it was bad, very bad, much worse
she is only 60

she becomes agitated when we try to weigh her
old style doctor’s scale
frightens her to try to step up.
gentle caregiver that you have hired
pushes her, until I say stop, stop, stop
her weight does not matter

shuffling gait
she is frightened to be in a new place
I ask her questions gently
she does not want to sit in the chair in the exam room
“No!” she says “No!”
I leave the room until she’s calmer

when I return
I give her choices
“Shall I examine you first with my stethoscope
or shall I talk to your husband?”
I choose for her, the latter
she relaxes, a little
later, I tell her each step before I do it
she is slightly tense when I lay the stethoscope
on her thin shoulders, but she doesn’t fight

she tenses as I ask her husband questions
about the memory loss
ten years now, a steady course
I ask him what he understands about the prognosis
he shifts uncomfortably
and I ask her if she would like to wait in the waiting room
while I talk to him
Firm and clear: “Yes, I would.”

She is not in the room now
he says that she is not too bad
the picture comes slowly in to focus
mild memory loss, is what he thinks

there are three stages of memory loss, I say
mild, the short fibers, where short term memory is affected
we forget what someone just said
moderate, the medium axons
we forget the recipe that we’ve know for 50 years
we forget how to do math
we forget names and how to get to the store
we forget how to operate the car
severe, the long axons
executive function
we do not initiate things
we forget to get dressed
we forget how to speak
we forget our potty training

his eyes grow sadder and sadder

at last, we return to being a baby
we forget everything
at last, we remember the womb
we no longer want to eat

is she forgetting to eat?

he is not ready to answer

as we leave the room
he says that she is not sleeping well
she seems to be awake at night
eyes closed
but her fingers are moving, as in play
he doesn’t speak to her
he needs to sleep and thinks she should too

should he give her a sleeping pill?

maybe she is happy, I say
maybe in bed in the dark
you are there and it is safe
no one is making her get dressed
no one is making her bathe
maybe that is where she wants to be awake
I would not give her a sleeping pill

the dogs are in the room
he says
and the tv is on just a little
maybe she is happy

he is wearing sun glasses
as they cajole and help her in to the van

he is wearing sun glasses
though it is overcast, low clouds and raining

sometimes it is so hard
to say what I see
to try to say the truth

sometimes the truth is not gentle
but sometimes the truth is love

I am weeping for you both

written 2010

atmospheric river

The current flooding rivers in the Pacific Northwest (1) now are ascribed to an atmospheric river. Atmospheric rivers are long narrow weather regions that carry enormous amounts of moisture from the tropics in the sky. This sky river carries water vapor and moves with the weather, “carrying an amount of water vapor roughly equivalent to the average flow of water at the mouth of the Mississippi River.”(2) When they make landfall, they can release the water in the form of rain or snow.

They can stall over watersheds and release huge amounts of wind and rain and cause severe flooding. The atmospheric river from Hawaii to the Pacific Northwest is called the “Pineapple Express”. “On average, about 30-50% of annual precipitation on the West Coast occurs in just a few AR events and contributes to the water supply and flooding.”(2) An atmospheric river is approximately 250-375 miles wide.

“Not all atmospheric rivers cause damage; most are weak systems that often provide beneficial rain or snow that is crucial to the water supply.”(2) If it were colder we would have an amazing snow pack right now.

The bomb cyclone that came through a few weeks ago caused much less damage. An atmospheric river does not sound as dramatic, but the drone pictures of houses and cars deep in water (1) tell a different story. There is road and bridge damage and already talk of Thanksgiving travel disrupted.

(1) https://www.accuweather.com/en/winter-weather/pineapple-express-pummels-northwest-british-columbia/1047699

(2) https://www.noaa.gov/stories/what-are-atmospheric-rivers

(3) Meanwhile the Olympic Peninsula still has a section cut off: https://www.peninsuladailynews.com/news/flooded-roadways-cut-off-west-end/

The photographs are of the Sol Duc River, taken by a friend. The river rising and huge amounts of debris being carried down the river. The huge log in the earlier pictures that was on the other side of the river, is gone.

Sol Duc River Tuesday Oct 26, 2021
Sol Duc River Sunday November 7, 2021
Sol Duc River Sunday November 14, 2021

Next is the heading photograph, from Monday, November 15, 2021.

Sol Duc River Monday November 15, 2021. Carrying whole trees downriver.
Rialto Beach with all of the wood washed down the rivers, November 16, 2021.

Under the weather

It is November and in the Pacific Northwest it’s hard not to feel under the weather because the clouds are right over our heads. Or some mornings I open the door and my house is in the cloud. In the weather. Is that a saying too? In the hurricane, in the cyclone, in a storm. Some days I feel like I can reach up and touch the underside of the low hanging cloud. Some days it feels heavy, but others it feels safe. Hiding, hidden, invisible.

For today’s Ragtag Daily Prompt: under the weather.

outfits inappropriate for work 3

Ok, maybe it is not inappropriate for work. But it would be a little weird for work… I was going in the woods with my oxygen tank. “Local doctor of 21 years found eaten by cougar, which then died because it couldn’t digest the oxygen tank.” Heh.

Listening to this, fabulous!!!

lumber

For the Ragtag Daily Prompt: lumber.

Oh, lumber. Lumber from trees, from forests. Forests make me think of old growth. I have gone to the Hoh Rain Forest twice. The first time it was pouring rain so hard that we abandoned the trip and stayed at a motel in Forks. The second time the sun came out and the wet moss covered trees gleamed and the Roosevelt Elk showed up. It was amazing!

Moss in the Hoh Rain Forest, trailing from the branches.
Moss in the Hoh Rain Forest
Walking under giant fallen trees.
Walking under giant fallen trees.
Lichen in the Hoh Rain Forest.
Lichen.

I took all the photographs except the one with me and the kids: my spouse took that one. These are from 2004.