Tuesday, March 23, 2021

Pop-up Sunday

From 2016 to 2018, I made five trips to Greece to volunteer at the Oinofyta refugee camp. I was usually the oldest volunteer by about 15 years. I didn't have the stamina of the younger people, but I had enough wisdom and life experience to be useful. Friends would say, "Why do you do that?" My response was, "We're all in this together, and I won't always be able to do it." That last phrase, "I won't always be able to do it," came from my brain, but part of me didn't really believe it.

I believe it now.

In the last couple of years my left knee and my right hip have begun to act up. The x-rays show bone-on-bone arthritis in my knee and a bunch of confused and compensating muscles and ligaments fighting each other in my right hip capsule. In spite of orthotics in my shoes, physical therapy, massage, and injections in my knee and hip, I'm sometimes walking like the elderly woman I never believed in my heart I would become. I do a lot of e-bike riding and some swimming, but no hiking and not a whole lot of walking for exercise.

Last year I read about the Arizona Department of Health Services. They were looking primarily for volunteer healthcare professionals but also for interested non-healthcare volunteers, to register in advance so they could rapidly identify and mobilize health care volunteers in emergencies.

I signed up and was accepted as a volunteer, and was contacted twice. Once was to work with a Covid screening project on a Native reservation. But at that time the vaccine wasn't available and, as a person over 65, I was in a high-risk group. Then, when Pima County (where we live, in Tucson, in the winter) opened large vaccine drive-through events, I was invited again. But the shifts were six hours long and I'd be on my feet most of the time, which those same feet would not be happy with. Remember "I won't always be able to do this"?

Then the county opened up pop-up vaccine events. By this time I'd gotten both Moderna shots. I was a January recipient of the first dose because I volunteer one day a week at a local health clinic, so I'm considered a healthcare worker. The pop-up events sounded more doable.

So on Sunday I volunteered for seven hours, from 7am to 2pm, at an elementary school near the airport.  No one had to sign up ahead of time;  they just had to be qualified according to the current Arizona status (anyone over 55, plus front-line workers: grocery store checkers, restaurant servers, etc). There was a drive-through and a walk-in. The venue was in an underserved area of Tucson. I'd say 85 percent of the vaccine seekers were Latinx. We had registration materials in Spanish and English. 

The other five volunteers at the walk-in venue were younger, so when I needed to give my feet a break I sanitized clipboards and pens and collated registration materials to put on the clipboards to send back out with the other volunteers. I'd colored part of my hair blue the day before; I figured I'd look more relevant to the younger people than if I just looked like an old grandma. That turned out to be a good idea!

My feet hurt A LOT at the end of the event, and I went straight home and fell soundly asleep for an hour. My whole body hurt until I went to bed that night. 

I may not always be able to do this!

Thursday, March 4, 2021

This week, next week

We're four days in to our annual visit to Sedona. This year my sons Russell and James were the only offspring who made it - but they're just about the only ones who've never been here before. Russ flew down from Eugene and James came from Seattle. They met up in Phoenix, rented a car and drove the two hours to our timeshare in uptown Sedona. They've been busy - climbed Bell Rock yesterday and hiked Cathedral Rock today. 

The four of us have shared several meals - the first dinner at Cafe Jose, a comfort food place nearby, and tonight, James grilled T-bone steaks, which we ate with a salad and baked potatoes. 

Meanwhile, Art and I are spending our time reading and napping. Art found a new author - Vince Flynn - in the resort library, and I downloaded and read the new Stephen King novel in a day and a half. We're in a single-story villa this year. It's on the second floor, but there's a lift along the stair railing so Art doesn't have to climb the stairs with his sciatica. He looks like an emperor!

Sedona has been a great place for our family to gather over the years. Just a few minutes ago James said, "From now on, Mom, when you're coming here, I'll be coming here too." That's what they all say!

Russ and James leave tomorrow, making a stop at Montezuma's Castle National Monument on the way back to the Phoenix airport. We'll be here for one more night, leaving early Saturday afternoon for our four-hour trip back to Tucson.

This week has been relaxing. Not so with next week's calendar.

Now that Art and I have had our second covid vaccines, and two weeks have passed, we can be more out and about in the world. The asylum seekers' shelter has reopened, and we will be volunteering in some fashion, whether providing meals for the guests or providing airport transportation. Strict covid safety measures are being implemented. I've been asked to join the board for The Inn, and am having breakfast on Monday with the board chair. Diane and I have been friends for a couple of years now, so our meetings are fun. Usually we have breakfast in her back yard, but Monday we'll be at a local restaurant with safely distanced tables.

While I'm at breakfast Art will get X-rays taken of his back. The pain clinic doc wants to a get a close look at what's going on in Art's lumbar spine as he plans next steps. 

In the afternoon the carpet cleaning man is coming, finally. Tucson is a dusty place and I rotate three area rugs in our living room. Right now they are all just about unpresentable. Fortunately, hardly anyone has been inside our place for nearly a year except for us.

Tuesday it's my turn at the pain clinic. I'm getting a shot in my left knee. Hopefully This course of action will prevent a knee replacement for a while. When I got my first shot a year and a half ago, I'd thought I'd pulled a muscle. The doc said, "Nope. Arthritis." It's taken a while, but I've adjusted to the idea that I'm old enough to have arthritis. For some reason I thought that would never happen to me.

Wednesday it's Larisa the Designer Cat's turn. She'll have her annual exam and the vet will probably say, "Well, she's 16, but she's looking pretty good." Over the last 40 years, all but one of my cats has lived a long life. 

Art sees the pain doc on Friday for a consultation. Usually I go with him to his medical appointments. I'm the question asker. These days, only the patient can go in. I've asked Art to call me when he's in the doc's office so I can hear what's going on and ask my questions.

Oh. Also next week each of us has a PT appointment, and each of us is getting a massage.

We're still taking online courses and two are scheduled next week for each of us. Zoom has been a good option for us during the pandemic.

This week, next week. One day at a time, right?