I guess I’ll relate my news in chronological order. Last year I had a lot of trouble with my eyes in the spring — infections and irritations that meant I had to put aside my contacts for probably 6 weeks and make frequent trips to the eye doctor. At the time, these problems made me seriously wonder if I should give up my contact lenses for good, but the doctors encouraged me to try some different lenses and make regular use of wetting drops before I gave up. So I did, and that worked (sort of) until this spring, when the cycle started again. My allergies are what sets the problem off, but I’ve developed an underlying condition that makes my eyes more suspectible to infection and to abrasions and other irritations. It’s some type of corneal disfunction; I can’t remember the name. Honestly, it’s taken at least 4 conversations with my doctor for me to get some understanding of the condition. But the gist of it is that the outermost layer of my cornea no longer provides the protection it should, and so it’s very easy for my eyes to get scratched — and when you add in the fact that I also have developed dry eye, it means that my eyes are very, very susceptible to infections and mild surface injuries. So my doctor confirmed what I had basically decided myself — that contacts are no longer an option for me. (I should add that laser surgery is also not an option; with this corneal condition it would be risky and the healing process would be extremely difficult and slow.) I’ve been without my contacts for roughly 6 weeks now, and I’m wearing a pair of glasses that cost almost as much as my annual vacation, but these super-expensive lenses were the best ones for my vision problems. I’m still trying to get used to wearing glasses all the time; it’s getting better, but they’re still a bit uncomfortable. I just have to keep reminding myself that scratched eyes were no fun either.

My other personal news relates to my grandparents. My grandfather’s health continued to decline this year, and got very bad in the spring. We tried on several occasions to suggest that an assisted living facility would be a better place for them, since they would have access to medical personnel on-site and would have immediate help in case of an emergency. My grandfather refused to even consider this option. In early May, he had several incidents where he fell and needed someone to come to the house to help him get up. After the second time this happened, one of the neighbors threatened to call social services and report that my grandfather was being neglected. I should add that we had tried to convince him to have sitters come to the house to help him and he didn’t want to do that either. Anyway… he ended up going to the hospital for several days and my uncle told him that if he wanted to go back home, he had to get a sitter during waking hours, and he agreed to try it — for a week. Needless to say, we were all extremely upset and worried at this point, given his unwillingness to have anyone other than his 2 children and their spouses provide his care. When the hospital discharged him, he was too weak to do much of anything without assistance, and we quickly discovered that one sitter wasn’t able to move him without help. We also had a problem keeping a sitter for more than a day before they quit. On day 5, my grandfather went back to the hospital and he died the next morning. We were very relieved that he didn’t linger in that sort of incapacitated condition. And he wasn’t in any pain at the end (thanks to morphine), and my mom and uncle were with him when he died, so we felt like that was the best we could have hoped for. He was very peaceful at the end, and my grandmother has dealt with his loss much better than we’d expected.

It’s been a little more than a month now since he died, and my mother has been staying with my grandmother for almost all of that time. (She came to our house for a few days at one point, but it didn’t work out very well.) This weekend was the first time Grandma was left alone; Mom came home Friday night and went back this afternoon. We invited Grandma to come but she wanted to stay in her house. Mom felt bad leaving her but we all felt that Mom needed a break and a little more time with us than just the afternoon visits we’ve been making each weekend (one day for me, both days for Dad). I’m not really sure what we’re going to do going forward. The fact that Grandma lives an hour away makes it difficult. We’re going to have to do something more permanent eventually, but I don’t know what that will be since Grandma doesn’t seem to like any of her options.

Not much else to report… New Orleans is improving but still a mess, and we’ve got a new hurricane season to face… we have yet to even get an appointment about a buyout of my parents’ property (now just a vacant lot — and that was an eerie sight for me, totally surreal)… my January zeal for writing vanished fast, and shows only the barest hint of returning… and I’m discovering just how challenging and tiring it is to keep the house clean and the laundry done (I no longer wear anything that needs ironing), plus put meals on the table each night (we’re eating a lot of wraps and quesadillas).

My one bright spot is that I’ve reactivated my Netflix subscription and that’s been adding some real pleasure to my life the last couple of weeks. I’d been pondering the idea for a while, and then I cracked the weekend Grandma was here. I’m sure I’ll cut back my viewing as life here stabilizes a bit — I feel kind of bad that I’m letting TV & movie viewing take the place of other activities, like reading — but I truly think I need to pamper myself this way for a little while at least.

Further bulletins as events warrant…

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