On the Bright Side, I Now Wear Support Hose

grandma-145012_1280I am 45 years old.  Which might sound quite elderly to my teenaged readers (just kidding, I sincerely doubt I have any teenaged readers), but I am here to tell you that in reality, 45 is quite youthful.  Especially if you plan to live to 150 like I do.  The age of 45 is when you realize you probably don’t have enough savings but then you think, eh, I’ve got time.  45 is when plastic surgery might start to look appealing, and yet, you’re not quite panicking.  You’re closer to 50 than you are to 40, but still, middle age seems ages away.  45 is the new 26!  This is what you tell yourself.

And then you get your support hose.

In the spirit of absolute accuracy, I should tell you that what I have is not technically what you might consider “hose.”  This is not a control top/sandal toe situation; in fact, it is for one leg only.  Singular hose.  Ho?  That can’t be right.  Sort of like that one-legged thing Sheila E. used to wear, except totally not.  Maybe it’s more like a single-leg Spanx.  Or sausage casing.

“We can get you the open-toed variety,” they told me, which was excellent because nothing says summer like a thigh-high leg warmer with your toes sticking out.  Also, I had a choice of colors.  I would have liked a vibrant Alice-in-Wonderland-type pattern, maybe wacky stripes or miniature teacups or something.  No can do, said the remarkably unimaginative medical supply community, and so I chose black.  It was either that or one of several shades of “nude,” and if you’ve ever been to a nursing home, you know the shades of nude that I mean.  More like shades of doom and despair.  Shades of, “I have totally given up and this is what I wear on my leg now.”

    Nope, this is not what it looks like.

It turns out black isn’t much better.  Say you have on black yoga pants of the capri-length variety.  From a distance now you look like you have inexplicably rolled your pants to the knee on one side only.  Or like you are wearing one-legged open-toed pantyhose for no reason other than that you are insane.  Still, I can accept this.  You gotta do what you gotta do, and so forth.  What I cannot accept is how totally primitive the whole situation is.

I mean, really.  It is the year 2016.  We have a pill that can give a man an erection lasting up to four hours, pills to make you happy or skinny or sleepy, pills to make you more masculine or more feminine.  We have all that, but there is NO PILL TO SHRINK A LEG.  Instead, my doctor suggests the best course of action would be to squash it to death.  Next perhaps he will throw me in a vat of leeches.

I’m not bitter it, though; I’m really not.  I try not to be bitter in any area of my life.  Instead, I’m looking at it as a blessing.  You might be thinking, “Wow, how does she do it,” or “I could never be as strong as her,” but I’m telling you it’s no big deal.  I have simply come up with some mantras which I repeat in my head on a regular basis.  I will share them with you in case you ever have a need for them.

  • I could have easily had both my legs crushed in a tragic tractor accident, but luckily I only have to wear these support hose.  This support ho.  I don’t know.
  • It might be 95 degrees out and I am dressed in layers, one of them being black and very tight, but on the bright side I have access to clean running water and as many to-do list apps as I can possibly download.
  • I am going to totally love this thing in the winter!
  • Some percentage of the Earth’s population is currently in full body casts.  I am not one of them.
  • If I ever happen to wear black tights, and I find that the one pair I own is missing a leg – well what do you know, problem solved!

So when you really think about it, I’m pretty lucky.

The luckiest part of the whole situation is that no one has said “wear this thing or you will die.”  So after the first three days of diligence, I took it off and have come up with my own possible cures, including “lose approximately 700 pounds” and “drink 8 gallons of water per day in the hopes of reducing the swelling via nonstop peeing.”  Quite frankly I think these methods sound just as promising as the “squash it to death” route, and if they work, well, then you can call me Dr. Janisin.  If they don’t work, I guess it is back to the sausage casing.  In the fall, though, when it’s not 95 degrees outside.  Maybe around Halloween.  So if you happen to see a 45-year-old trick-or-treater in a Shiela E. costume – by all means, stop and say hello.

A Father’s Day Card for the Alzheimer’s Patient

This Father’s Day, I would just like to say that I hate greeting cards.

I mean, I don’t hate hate them.  Hate is a pretty strong word.  But it’s so hard to find a good one.  So many are just way too cheesy or lovey-dovey or otherwise contain a message that I would never actually say to a person.  Some try to be funny but are actually very stupid.  Others are outright lies.  So, you could say that choosing the perfect greeting card is difficult for me at best.

Choosing a greeting card for a dad with Alzheimer’s Disease is just absolute and total nonsense.

And yet, to not give him a Father’s Day card is unthinkable.

Why are you giving me a picture of a leaf?
Why are you giving me a picture of a leaf?

Here is the fact:  my dad will not understand any message in any card I could possibly choose for him.  He doesn’t know he is my father.  He doesn’t even know what the word ‘father’ means.  He doesn’t understand that he raised me, he doesn’t remember making a sled out of a baby bathtub and dragging my sister and me around in the snow.  He has no recollection of taking me to Hills for fancy hot dog and Icee dinners.  NOTHING IN ANY GREETING CARD AT ALL WILL MEAN ANYTHING TO HIM.  “Relax and kick your feet up, Dad!  It’s Father’s Day!”

It would be easy enough just to ignore Father’s Day, at least where he is concerned, but of course I won’t.  I will go to see him and tell him “Happy Father’s Day,” and he will say, “What?  What’s that?  Are we going to church?”  It’s weird, how you can kind of get used to a sadness like this one.

He’s alive.  He’s there, and yet he is so totally not there.

And since everyone knows that if you can’t speak to someone directly, you should instead write your thoughts on the internet – here are some things I’d like to thank my dad for this Father’s Day.

  • For showing me that it’s okay when people laugh at you. Of course it’s nice when people laugh with you, but having them laugh at you is usually a different story.  My dad never cared.  He did not differentiate between the two at all.  He would do anything to be funny and if people were laughing, it was good.  Period.
  • For living without hate.  My dad hated no one, and no one hated him.  My grandma – his mother-in-law – did, periodically, try her best to hate him.  It never worked, because he never hated her back.  Hating him was like sending a hate missile up into space, where it would explode harmlessly and dissipate into the ether.  He did not compute hate.  I think if more people could ignore hate as successfully as he did, we’d have a way different kind of world.
  • For accepting everyone my sister and I ever brought home, even when they were idiots. And on the flip side, for telling them they were idiots in the nicest and funniest manner possible.  I’m remembering the perfectly employable boyfriend who said, “Guess what?  I qualified for food stamps!” And my dad said, “Guess what?  You’re an asshole.”  And then we all went and had lunch.
  • For forcing me to go to Kennywood that time it was “Polish day.” Even though I’d just had a long day at work and was hungover.  It’s a good memory that I wouldn’t have if he wasn’t so naggy and persistent.
  • For still wanting to pay for me everywhere we go.  Even though he doesn’t know I’m his daughter.  And no longer has a wallet.
  • For that time he smashed a sleeper sofa to smithereens in our front yard.  For obvious reasons.
  • For taking care of his business. My dad always did what he had to do, and didn’t complain about it.  When he saw a problem he tried to fix it.  Often to disastrous results, but still.  In my opinion and apparently in his, trying and failing is better than whining and doing nothing.
  • For taking me to see Staying Alive and Xanadu.  Not because I wanted to see them, but because he did, and thus proving that in all situations, you should just like what you like and never explain yourself to the other 1970’s dads who might not understand.
  • For badgering the adoption agency until they gave him a baby. My mother says he drove them batshit crazy, and I know him well enough to believe it.  I am pretty sure I ended up where I am today simply to shut my father up, and for that, I am forever grateful.   

Incidentally, I did end up buying my dad a greeting card.  It’s pretty stupid, and I’ll have to explain it several times, and even then it won’t mean anything to him.  Still, I’m hoping that if he looks at it after I leave, he’ll see the “I love you” in it, and the words will make him happy even if the meaning doesn’t get through.

I doubt it, though, so in case it doesn’t, I have just ordered Xanadu (Magical Edition) from Amazon.  On DVD!  The other seniors in the TV room are in for a real treat.

Happy Father’s Day.