Wednesday, December 31, 2008

Views From The Clare, 12/30/08

Yesterday I entered my new apartment at The Clare for the first time! I loved it. Here are my first pictures; I'll wait until the furniture is there before posting any more. Of course the place still looks empty.

The top picture shows part of my view to the east: a bit of Lake Michigan, the Water Tower Place shopping mall and Macy's on Michigan Avenue, other buildings. Had I been able to venture out on the balcony (not a good idea on the 35th floor in Chicago's winter), I could have shown the old Chicago Water Tower and other buildings closer to The Clare. It's a fine view, and there are others to the north.

The second photo shows part of my kitchen. The refrigerator is off to the right. It's not a very big kitchen, but I have my usual stainless steel appliances and granite counter tops. I learned to love them in my condo. Since I don't cook anyway, the size of the kitchen doesn't matter.

There are big floor-to-ceiling windows everywhere, with blinds to cover them, of course. I think I'll like living in a high-rise building. Perhaps that's because I grew up on a Wisconsin farm. Anyway, moving day is creeping up (January 9), so watch for further reports.

A move to a senior building is a big event for anyone, but I'm glad to do it before I need assisted living or nursing care. It's comforting to know that those sections exist in the building should I ever need them--and I probably will.
Photos by the author.

Tuesday, December 30, 2008

Holiday Reflections

I'm happy to report that I am now back home. It was an easy trip, quite unlike my snowy experience on December 23. As I look back on my holiday excursion, I have come to a few conclusions:

1. People are basically kind and helpful. Drivers, wheelchair attendants, even security screeners went beyond their basic duties for this temporaarily handicapped traveler and remained cheerful. Strangers offered help on several occasions: offers to get food and water as I waited hours in my wheelchair at the gate in Chicago; early boarding help when the plane finally arrived.

2. Having family is wonderful. Childless as I am, I often forget how nice it is to have relatives invite me for the holidays, even when I am far from my best. I guess relatives accept one in any condition. Many thanks to my niece Cindy, her husband Scott, and their daughter Lauren. They kept me comfortable and too well fed, and even pushed me around during a museum visit.

3. Holiday travel is filled with difficulties, including crowds and bad weather, but it's worth doing. I'm very glad I opted not to spend Christmas alone in my condo worrying about my problems. I've come back rejuvenated and ready to face whatever comes.

I'm happy to report that I'm walking a bit better (I still have four weeks of therapy to go, and it was interrupted by the holidays). Today, I visit my new residence at The Clare for the first time. A report will be forthcoming.

Thursday, December 25, 2008

Merry Christmas to All

Here's hoping that Santa Claus brought you everything you wanted, including health, happiness, and peace!

Marlys Marshall Styne (Seniorwriter)

Wednesday, December 24, 2008

A Bah Humbug Day--But All Turns Out Well

As anyone in or near Chicago knows, Tuesday, December 23, was a day of snow, snow, snow. News reports revealed that 400--or up to 700, depending on the report--airline flights from Chicago were delayed, and my flight to Tulsa was one of them.

It was snowing lightly at daybreak, and the weather news was not good. However, I had faith that the limo service I had engaged would get me to Midway Airport. The driver came as scheduled, and he was very helpful. Picture me trying to maneuver my walker, pull a suitcase, and carry a small travel bag and a purse. Having four hands would have been useful. The driver, a tall young Italian, had to carry the bags to the van and escort me through the ice and snow and help me get in. I avoided falling.

On the way to midway, we saw a lot of emergency equipment, including fire engines, and saw a rollover accident. Meanwhile, the snow kept falling. I arrived at Midway in plenty of time, and got the help I needed: a wheelchair and a boarding pass. Security was time-consuming, due to my recent knee replacements and my lack of agility, but I got through that too with the help of the wheelchair pusher.

As things turned out, our plane could not get in because of poor visibility and was diverted to Columbus, Ohio, and the airport was soon shut down, as I sat in the wheelchair and watched the windows turn white with snow. Eventually, the airport reopened, and I could see long trains of snowplows going everywhere, as well as de-icing trucks working on the few planes in sight.

As it turned out, we eventually got on the plane, only to see the snow begin falling again. I was afraid the the airport would close down again, and that we would be stranded overnight. But thanks to a truck labeled "Iceman 14," the plane was deiced and eventually took off for the first stop, St. Louis. It was raining there, not snowing, so there were no further delays on the way to Tulsa. However, the plane was at least five hours late.

I was so happy to see my niece, my grandniece, and my brother at long last! They kept track of the Chicago airport saga on line, and avoided a long wait at the Tulsa airport. My niece's husband has still not arrived from Texas, where he was on a job assignment. Apparently, the national air system hasn't quite recovered.

Christmas season travel can be brutal, but I'm happy to say that all turned out well for me. I hope that all of you who dare to travel this season have equally happy outcomes. I still love Chicago, in spite of the weather. And spending the holiday with family is priceless.

Monday, December 22, 2008

Happy Holidays to All!

To friends, relatives, and those who read my blog:

I want to wish you all joy during the coming holidays and for the coming new year. For the first time in many years, I haven't mailed out my usual Christmas letters and cards. If you've been reading about what's going on in my life, you know that I've been busy and distracted and sometimes depressed, so an account of my year would not be much fun to read (except for my spring trip to South Africa and my little book of poetry).

I assure those of you on my official holiday list that I'll be corresponding in January, hopefully to give you my new address and a progress report. Meanwhile, I've enjoyed all the cards and letters I've received. I'm off to Tulsa, Oklahoma, tomorrow, weather permitting, to spend Christmas with my niece and her family, as well as my brother. I hope to return rejuvenated on December 29. Then January 9 is moving day, if all goes well.

I may or not post blog entries while I'm away, but of course I'll write my usual holiday report after I return. Meanwhile, enjoy food and family and good books. May 2009 be a better year for us all.

Thursday, December 18, 2008

Visiting The Clare Again

Yesterday was The Clare's holiday party. I decided to load my walker into my car and head for the building's valet parking service, even though a coctail party is not the best environment for anyone using a walker. I felt awakward and clumsy, but I'm glad I went.

The food was great! I met the head chef, whose size reminded me that if I tried to eat all the available food, I'd soon be as large as he is. At least his size suggests that he's an appreciator of food, if not of the low calorie variety.

The staff was friendly as usual, even bringing me food and wine (did you ever try to carry buffet food while using a walker?), and I talked to several of my future neighbors. I discovered that quite a few of us are still trying to sell houses and condos. I seem to be the only one in that situation who's gambling on a specific moving date. Just daring, I guess.

We were serenaded by Christmas carolers in historic garb. They were very good. The decorations were beautiful. It was a festive occasion.

Toward the end of the party, I decided to take advantage of a partial building tour. I saw the chapel, the gym (not yet equipped), the small swimming pool, various dining rooms, and one model apartment. It was a one-bedroom apartment not much like mine will be, but this was my first chance to see actual living quarters. Again, I was impressed.

It was at the end of the short tour that the only snafu happened: the working elevator suddenly was not working (of the three in the elevator bank, one was out of order at the beginning; another was still being used by the construction crew). For a moment, I paniced; I was in no condition to walk down nine floors. Fortunately, the staff came to our group's rescue and led us to the freight elevator. I got down safely and drove home safely.

Having been pretty much a recluse since my operation, I was tired by this experience, but happy that I ventured out. The Clare is a beautiful building, and my move is only about three weeks away. Will I be ready? Probably not, considering my coming trip to Tulsa for Christmas, but after the boredom of a nursing home, some excitement should be good for me. Wish me luck!

Wednesday, December 17, 2008

My First Visit to The Clare

If you've been following the saga of my coming move to The Clare at Water Tower (shown nearly finished in August, 2008), you know that it's been a building under construction for quite a few years. That means I'd never been inside.

Yesterday was the day of my first visit! I had a meeting on the 16th floor. That floor (an office floor) looked beautiful. The staff has now moved from temporary headquarters in the nearby Hancock Center to their actual offices at The Clare. The valet parking system was operating (that suits my present handicapped condition), and the staff was welcoming.

At least one couple has moved in; the rate is supposed to be about one or two moves per day from now on. Have I seen my on apartment yet? No, but I hope that I soon will. My moving date is set for January 9, although my condo has not sold and my financial problems have not been solved.

Anyway, just entering the building made me feel better. I have been somewhat depressed lately, but it seems that my dream of living in a luxury highrise senior building will really come true. I'll be blogging about what the experience is really like: moving and settling in, the companies such as Moving Station and Mature Transitions that have helped me so far. What is living in a senior community really like? I'll let you know.

Tuesday, December 09, 2008

Looking on the Bright Side

Anyone reading this blog lately will have concluded that I have been depressed and feeling sorry for myself: two knee replacements, nearly six weeks in a hospital and a nursing home, financial problems, uncertainty, bad weather, an unsold condo, a fall. My list of problems seems to have been getting longer.

In the interest of not being one of those endlessly complaining elders, I have decided to look on the bright side. I will try my best to smile and look forward to happier times.

Perhaps my condo will be sold soon; there have been a few showings lately. That, or possibly a loan, could solve my financial problems.

My move to The Clare on January 9 may work out as scheduled. I have some promises of help, a mover, an organizer, and a sympathetic staff at the Clare.

I visit the surgeon on Thursday. I'm hoping to hear that all is well with my knees. I'm also hoping that I can get into my car and drive to the appointment. That way, I can avoid icy sidewalks.

Christmas is coming. If I can deal with airports and luggage, I will be among extended family. I've always enjoyed Christmas with my niece and her family, as well as my brother. We're not a close family, either geographically or emotionally, but it's fun to get together. I've felt very alone lately.

A new year is on the way. 2008 has been a rather painful and depressing year for me; 2009 can only be better. I have a lot to look forward to. Wish me luck!

(Thanks to my grand-niece, Lauren Truby, for her encouraging comment.)

Saturday, December 06, 2008

Fear of Falling

If you're past a certain age, you probably have seen and remembered those ads: "I've fallen, and I can't get up!" They promote a service providing buttons for senior citizens to push for help in emergencies. I used to laugh at those ads, but yesterday, I could have posed for one of them. Yes, I fell down, and no, I couldn't get up.

My physical therapist says it takes at least one good leg to get up from the floor, and so far, after two knee replacements, I don't have even one good leg. I wasn't paying attention, and I fell getting out of my recliner.

At first I was in a state of panic: would I die right there on my living room floor? After I calmed down, I realized that I could slide across the floor. I tried to reach some support that would allow me to get up, but alas, I couldn't get up no matter what I tried. Then I realized that I might be able to reach one of my telephones on a living room table, and I finally did. My phone directory was conveniently located on the same table.

So whom to call? If I called 911, I'd get a response, but in a building without a doorman, that might bring a fireman with an axe to open my door (as it did years ago) and a trip to an emergency room. I wasn't in need of medical help. I just needed to stand up.

I finally decided to call Laurie, a helpful old friend who lives fairly close. She still has keys to my building and my condo after helping me out while I was in the nursing home. It was only six a.m., but I called her. She promised to come, and she did. Laurie is a retired nurse, so I knew that if anyone could help me get up, she could.

Unfortunately, Laurie is not a large, powerful person, and she couldn't lift me up by herself. Then I thought of one of my condo neighbors, Cathy, who is a nurse--and an early riser. Laurie knocked on her door, and she came in to help. Between the two of them, I was lifted up and back in my recliner. How grateful I was and am!

That experience made me very shaky; in a bit less than an hour on the floor, I seemed to have lost my confidence that I could take care of myself. A good night's sleep has helped, but I'm now very careful about getting to my feet. I never thought I'd be one of those "I've fallen and I can't get up!" elders.

I guess the message is that while we treasure our independence, complete independence is sometimes impossible. I hope to recover from this knee replacement ordeal, but will I ever be able to lift myself up from the floor again? Getting old is very difficult, and these are trying times for me. Let's hope I have good news to write about soon!

Copyright 2008 by Marlys Marshall Styne