Trying to Make a Respite From and For Myself
INTERESTING STUFF – 21 February 2020

Respite Recap Plus The Alex and Ronni Show

It was a surprise - even, perhaps, a shock - to me how many commenters on Wednesday's post (Trying to Make a Respite...) misunderstood me. I am not depressed, I don't feel the need to grieve about anything, I don't want to be young again, I have a reasonable social life for someone of my age and energy-level and so far, one psilocybin trip a year ago has been enough.

In the past when I have occasionally been misunderstood in these pages, I believe it has been my fault for not being clear or clear enough. After re-reading the respite post several times, I don't think that is so this time, although I could be wrong.

I used the word “respite” carefully and deliberately as a comparison to 24/7 caregivers for whom there are programs, important ones, to give them a break from the work and emotional intensity for a few hours once or twice a week.

There is a difference, however: in my case (and I'm sure, many others), I am both patient AND caregiver.

And one of us needs a respite.

I don't dream of having my pre-cancer life returned to me; I have always been too much a realist for any such daydreams.

And (so far), I find this journey toward my death via two serious diseases (and old age itself) to be genuinely interesting both tracking physical changes and keeping a watch on how I respond – to the degree any person can be his or her own observer.

So much for another whack at clarity. That's enough of that. Moving on.

When Alex and I recorded our Skype chat on Tuesday, we did some follow up on Monday's post on Successful Ageing.

Looking at the video before preparing today's post, I think perhaps I have now carried on way too long about something that isn't all that important, and it's time to let it go.

We also discussed a few other things. Here's the video.


My husband has 3 serious autoimmune diseases that require daily monitoring, medications, limited food choices and sometimes has physical limitations. It would be nice to go on a vacation without the extra suitcase of meds and “stuff”. it would be nice to go out to dinner with friends and not have only limited choices. It would be nice not to have to think about availability of medical facilities nearby when we travel. It would be just lovely to have one day where he didn’t have to think about his health issues. We have a wonderful life but it does get him down having to manage his health issues every single day. As the caregiver, I understood your post on respite.

Great smile!

I am one of the commenters who mentioned depression but I did •not• infer that you were depressed. What I intended to say (as a sidebar) was, a person dealing with chronic illness and her medical team ought to watch for it, because it can slip in and mess with the energy you do have. (I worked in a hospital that is a transplant centre for years; it was common.)

I haven't had time to watch this Alex and Ronni Show yet, but what a delightful 'screen shot' of you, with your vibrant smile!

Ronni, I re-read that piece and still don't find anything which would make anyone think you were depressed, etc. ??? I think the most significant thing (to me) you mentioned was that you are the caregiver, as well as the patient. I think you were very clear, and I don't think there usually are that many people in that dual role. Having experienced almost one year of being the caregiver without any respite at all, I understand how difficult that is. Having been a patient in the past I can also see where being my own caregiver, as well, would be doubly draining. Respite is a great word for what it is you feel you need. I think you truly have a good handle on how you've been dealing with the cards you've been dealt. Keep it up!

Thank you Ronni (yes, a captivating, vibrant picture of you!!) and Alex for this discussion. It reminds me of the tendency of humans to find polarizing measurements for all subject matter. And the lockstep is judgement.

Maybe Alex summed it up with his eventual "Well, screw it!" attitude.

We each have our unique life. Making choices so we love it regardless of the circumstances and with no or minimal harm done to self or others comes closest to my definition of successful aging. Or during middle age too. And teen age. And young adult age. All times of choices and attitudes.

You were really clear, at least to me, that you desired a respite from the caretaking routine. Anyway, you look and sound great. Hey, I'm not dealing with anything like you are and I definitely want a break! Shopping, cooking, walk the dog, clean the house and studio, on and on. With less and less time to paint and garden, oh yeah, I get the respite thing.

- Thought you were perfectly clear before
- Ditto on the blinding smile today! Let's hear it for smiling!

I watched this video of you two, and you have a nice bantering relationship, after marriage, probably rather rare. Good for you guys and I can see I would enjoy chatting with you in person. Your attitude is realistic and also upbeat.

P.S. About the self-applauding thing . . . drives me nuts, too. AND, it has been defended by people who say the person on stage is not really applauding herself, but applauding the audience, to indicate that we are all applause-worthy here, that we are all part of a community, the audience and the performer. That may indeed be the origin of the phenomenon. But it's SO STUPID and it DOES certainly look like self-congratulation! Can't wait for the fading of that particular passing custom.

I enjoyed the show again, and send wishes to Alex that all goes well with his procedure. I agree with him that marketing manipulates much of our thinking, and using emotionally loaded words or terms like "successful (fill in the blank)" is one of the most common ways to do that. No one wants to see themselves, or feel that they're seen by others, as a loser. And the president's use of that word has done a fine job of creating more anxiety and angst about it.

It's been a long winter and I'm hoping that spring will bring a lighter mood to us all and refresh our spirits. That may be tough in the midst of the campaigning, but the opportunities to get outdoors, grow things or enjoy things that others have grown and commune with nature is much better than snow, ice and below zero temps we've had this week here. This weekend, days of high 30's and maybe into the 40's -- with sunshine! -- are forecast and I can guarantee that people here will be out in shorts. Good for the body and soul! I hope that you're enjoying good weather there.

Respite to me means getting away in thought, action or both from my ordinary routine of caring for myself and necessary daily activities — not even having to think about any of it is key. The duration of the respite varies depending on what time I can carve out for myself. So, as I told my Dr. today in a routine periodic appt., “No, I did not go get a couple of those annual wellness type tests you gave me orders for when last we met, ‘cause I simply wanted to not think about anything medical or take any more tests for awhile.” That was snagging what I considered to be a bit of respite for me.

I truly identify with the impact of realizing how friends and family numbers have narrowed down to just one left living who has known you longest. Or, in my case she was someone who increased frequency of contact ‘cause there was only us left who had known each other all our lives she pointed out to me. Then, only a few years later her husband I had met only once before they wed died, and in several more years she died, too. I experienced a strange realization when I learned she was gone as was a part of my life no one else on this earth had been part of though we had not seen each other in over fifty years, on opposite sides of our continent much of that time. I discovered I knew simple little things about her life even her caring family did not know as was probably true of her about me, too — the shared experiences that made up a part of my life to live on only in my memory, no one else’s.

Interesting that others interpreted depression. My interpretation was "give me a break for day dammit".

I thought you were perfectly clear in your last post. "Successful Aging" makes absolutely no sense to me. Alex is right, it is a marketing schtick.

Listening to you two talk is great fun. You both are so verbal and funny. And yes, friendships of long duration are very special.

FYI, since Ronni has introduced me to Alex Bennett via the "Alex and Ronni Show", I've gone over to YouTube and viewed a few episodes of the "Alex Bennett's Ramble" which is basically a streaming "talk show" that, as the name implies, is just a rambling conversation with "windowed in" regular participants. I kind of enjoy it! In one episode (1/24/2020), Alex goes into some detail about a law suit he's involved in, got swept into, apparently, that is quite costly and putting a lot of financial pressure on him. Poor man--unfair! Between the rigors of getting old and the obstacles life throws at us, like prostate issues and legal costs in his case, pancreatic cancer and COPD in Ronni's case, I have to admire individual's ability to grin and bear it and keep on living. I gain a lot of inspiration from such people to help me absorb life's lows and, especially, in conjunction with aging! John

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