Michael’s Ring

Something really hard happened today. I stopped wearing Michael’s ring.

Rings zoom

I didn’t choose it. And I’m sick about it.

I have worn Michael’s ring, literally, since the day he died. I put it on my ring finger, topped it with a black band he bought for me last year on my birthday, and wore it like that for a little over 3 months now.

The ring was just about the closest thing to him I can think of. When he was in and out of hospitals and procedures, he wouldn’t let them take off his ring. He was adamant about it. One of the few times he was obstinate or uncooperative, it was over that ring. Sometimes, the surgical staff (who were wonderful people) would take it off after he was asleep and put it back on him before he woke up. Sometimes, they covered the whole thing with surgical tape and let him wear it even though he wasn’t supposed to. Shhhhh. That ring was everything to him. And when he died, I couldn’t bear to take it off of him. I was devastated. My lovely friend Cindi asked the mortuary guy if he could please get Michael’s ring. And when that man presented me with that ring, I broke down. I put it on my finger, and there it stayed. I have always felt him in that ring.

Lately, I’ve had some health concerns. I haven’t posted about them because I thought people might over-react, but then I wondered why the hell I’m censoring myself on my own blog.

I’m dealing with terrible back issues that are getting addressed this week (this is a progressive degenerative condition so I know what’s happening here), but two more recent developments have come in to add to things, and I’m basically in horrific pain 24/7. Not exaggerating. My feet, my knees, my hips, my entire left leg and foot, my lower back, my upper back, my upper right chest, my neck, my shoulders, my hands, and my wrists ALL hurt like a mother. I’m not kidding. I have a high pain tolerance. I don’t whine. This is BAD. All over.

It started with a bump on my finger. I thought maybe it was a callus. But it was getting bigger, and painful. Then, it got so big in just a matter of a few days, that my finger is starting to change direction. Then, my thumbs started hurting. My knees. My hips. then, I didn’t recognize my own hands. HUGE swollen knuckles. And then, I couldn’t tie a shoe because my fingers and thumbs won’t bend. I can’t grasp a doorknob. Or bend enough to shave my legs in the shower. In a matter of days, the pain has become unbearable and the lack of mobility is increasing fast. It’s coming on hard and aggressive. And it scared me a little. So, I went to the doctor today.

For starters, I have pleurisy. I’m taking anti-biotics and steroids. Hoping that resolves soon. It’s really painful. Second, we’re almost positive I have an autoimmune disease. That’s basically a condition where your body is attacking itself. I think it’s rheumatoid arthritis, (which is QUITE deceiving because it’s an autoimmune disease where your body is attacking the joint and bone tissue and not your typical arthritis although it presents like arthritis), and my doctor put his money on Psoriatic Arthritis, which is another auto-immune condition but I don’t think it’s mine. They drew a lot of blood today and will have results in about a week.

My doctor kept telling me not to worry. I kept telling him I’m not worried. Because, I’m not. This newfound perspective of mine doesn’t fear death at all. In fact, if I do get bad news I don’t know how I’ll feel about it. I’m just not digging being in this kind of pain around the clock.

Regarding my spine and leg issues, I have an MRI tomorrow and an appt with my neuro-surgeon next week. I know what to expect, I’ve been down this road before. It’ll be time for surgery, I can’t have that done right now for painfully obvious reasons, and then we talk about a bunch of bullshit therapies that basically buy me time until I land right back there again. It’s like a big circle. Round and round. It’s madness.

And through it all, until today, I wore his ring. I took it off to put on lotion earlier, and my knuckles and hands are so swollen right now, I can’t get it back on.

Now, it lives on top of my ring. My ring has been in our hands for several weeks. And now his ring covers mine, in our hands. I’m worried that I may never put it on again. Maybe I’ll get used to it. Maybe I’ll stop living a lie by wearing it on my ring finger. Maybe this is the universe’s way of telling me it was time to take it off. Or maybe it’s just shitty luck and none of this means anything. I just know that my heart is breaking and my hand feels so exposed and vulnerable. It’s amazing what a piece of metal can become when it’s one of the only things you have that meant something to the man you loved.

Rings display


~ Lisa

What will they think?

What other people think

I’ve always struggled with this. What people think of me. Sadly, I’ve made more than my share of “enemies” (by enemies, I mean people who hate my guts!). I suppose Winston Churchill was right when he said, “You have enemies? Good. That means you’ve stood up for something, sometime in your life.”  Most of the “enemies” I’ve made have been from rescue. Volunteers or employees who decided they didn’t like working for me or didn’t like a decision I made, so it became personal. I’ve joked many times about the “I hate Lisa” club that seems to grow in front of my eyes. I see the passive-aggressive Facebook posts and memes (well, I did before I left FB, no more!). Almost every “enemy” I’ve made has been about the dogs. Me being about the dogs, them wanting it to be about them, and then a nasty parting of ways. Them telling others their side, others joining the IHL club, and so it goes. It’s the cost of doing business when your business is based on so much emotion. It’s unfortunate that grown people behave that way, and it’s even more unfortunate when it’s blatant and public.

I’ve learned to accept that.

But now, it’s a whole new “what will they think?”. I’ve been doing lots around the house. I’ve been throwing away lots of things that we had planned to get rid of for a long time (damn the procrastination – all of the “we have to” projects are now “I have to” projects. And hey, I have nothing else to do, so I’m doing them). From the outside, it may appear that I’m gutting the house and moving on and just cruising right through this, but really what I’m doing is tending to the things WE always needed to do. But, what do they think?  What do they think of the recliner in my driveway that says “Free” on it? Do they think I’m getting rid of “his” chair? I’m not. He didn’t have a chair. He wasn’t Archie Bunker. It’s an old recliner that’s been in our basement for the entire 6 years that we have lived in this house, and we don’t have a finished nice basement (I don’t have a finished basement- the “we” just won’t leave my vocabulary yet). It’s just a basement. And the recliner just needs to go. Nothing more.

What will they think when I go out and maybe have some fun? What will they think if I decide to trade in Michael’s car (that neither of us loved anyway)? What will they think if I take a vacation? Will it look like I didn’t love Michael? Or maybe will it look like I sure got over this fast?

Who are “they”? And why do I care?

Let’s circle back. Vacation. I’m really thinking of taking myself on a trip someplace. I want it to be someplace warm, and not overly family-friendly. I’d like to not be vacationing with a lot of kids, and I’d like it to be a cool place for me to travel to solo – AND has to be domestic. Ideas? Let me hear them.

And, what others think…why am I worried about this? Why am I afraid to do something kind for myself, for fear that others will judge me? Nobody has said or implied anything like this. My mind is running away with it and I’m not sure why…

In other news, I’m still doing crazy things around the house. The latest undertaking is staining the wood in the house. ALL the wood. Window frames, door frames, banisters, doors. My house is FULL of wood and it’s ALL that 1980’s golden oak. So, why not take on a huge project that has lots of potential to be an epic fail? I’m staining it all Mission Oak which is dramatically darker. I think my mood medication needs to be adjusted. I don’t want to be sanding and staining in the middle of the night. My energy levels continue to be almost unmanageable.

I talk to Michael all day long. I miss him so much. I don’t know when the complete emptiness will become more bearable. I know that’s a big part of why I’m taking on so much at home. When I’m sanding, I’m not thinking of him. It’s not a conscious effort; I think it’s just where my instincts are taking me. I made a deal with myself that I was just going to be a passenger to my instincts unless I feel like I’m making unsafe decisions. I don’t want to change what I feel like I need to do to cope; I’d just like to not NEED to do all of this to cope. I know, I know…time and patience blah blah blah. And none of that helps when I’m climbing into an empty bed every night, or have something fun to share or need advice or need a hug from someone who loves me unconditionally. Someone who really made the “what will they think?” question not matter so much. Because he loved me and that’s all that mattered.

That’s all for today.


~ Lisa