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Life in the age of the Pandemic: Could you live without the internet?

posted by Cherie Dargan


I just had a conversation with a woman who needed help researching candidates for the primary election in another state. I mentioned several websites (Vote smart and Vote 411) but she said she did not have a computer or smartphone. I suggested she ask a friend or family member to get her an inexpensive tablet like the Kindle Fire, but she said she did not have internet access at her house. She had been relying on the public library’s computers. As I said goodbye, I tried to imagine the past five months or so living without a computer or internet access. 


I had two knee replacement surgeries, in December and February, before the Pandemic, so I was in rehab mode. Without a computer, smartphone, and the internet, I could not have talked to family and friends on email, Facebook messenger, and I would be feeling more isolated and lonelier. Without the use of Zoom, my League of Women Voters would not be able to hold our Board Meetings, and I could not participate in the State League meetings. I would not be able to see pictures of my grandsons or my adult children, I couldn’t order groceries online, ask for advice about our new little garden, research coronavirus, post on my blog, read the news, or watch our Netflix shows with Mike.  I also would not be working on my novel on Google Docs.


The Pandemic gave me a chance to finish the first draft. I used my mother’s big notebooks as a primary source: she was a country schoolteacher who took the train west to California to work in an aircraft factory to build bombers. But before that happened, Charlotte helped bring electricity to her parents’ rural Tama County farm in 1942. Since she had the summer off, her stepfather suggested she could help the electrician wire their farm buildings, and she did. First, she watched him wire up her schoolhouse, asked questions and handed him tools. Next, she writes, “…then he came down to our farm and changed our lives. Once those lights were turned on, it was difficult to imagine living without them.” He was impressed with my mother’s skills using tools and he wanted her to work with him all summer, but she needed to type up workbooks for her students in the fall. Later, she used those skills to become one of the Rosie Riveters at Rohr Aircraft factory in Chula Vista, California.


As my mother talked about electricity changing their lives, I see the parallel to the way that computers and the internet have transformed our world and our daily routines. It is difficult to imagine living without them, Pandemic, or no Pandemic. I am grateful to have them.

 

 Last updated May 27, 2020

 

Rehabbing with the Echo Show 5

posted Apr 10, 2020, 2:02 PM by Cherie Dargan



I had my left knee replaced in mid-February and spent a week at Deery Suites. I had spent a week there in December with the right knee and got rather anxious and depressed with the pain and felt lonely. I wanted to have a more positive experience this time. So, after getting settled in, I asked Mike to bring my Echo Show 5 down and then one of the IT staff from Western Home, also named Mike, helped to get it on their network. We put it on my nightstand, and it provided three things during my stay:

Comfort: I listened to classical piano and ambient music to help relax and prepare for sleep, or when I was in pain and alone, feeling blue.

Control: I was able to “chat” with Alexa, and both distract myself and feel more of a sense of control over the environment.  Even in the bathroom, while waiting for an aide to come help me, I could ask Alexa a question or ask for music and take my mind off the pain.

Convenience: I listened to news, music, and my books on Kindle. Since all I needed was my voice, I could activate the device from anywhere in the room. While I watched TV, I liked listening to my kindle books or music to relax.

While I planned to do video chats with the echo, I really didn’t feel up to it until towards the end. However, that would have been a valuable way to communicate with my family. I could also have watched TV shows and movies on Amazon video on the device.

Overall, even though I was in a lot of pain, I felt the Echo Show helped me cope. I didn’t feel as helpless or lonely. Staff members were amused or intrigued as well, especially when I played the Jonas brothers’ music for one young lady. Others said they liked the piano music I played at night.

I would recommend the Amazon echo dot or echo show for others who are rehabbing from surgery or an illness. Since it requires nothing more than your voice and the use of the “wake” word (Alexa), it is ideally suited for people who do not use technology on a normal basis, as well as for those of us who are geeks.


Last updated April 10, 2020

This article also appeared in the Western Homes Communities April Journal

https://irp-cdn.multiscreensite.com/8aa78e57/files/uploaded/WHC%20The%20Journal%20April%202020.pdf

See page 7


Takeaways on the Woman's Hour

posted Apr 10, 2020, 1:53 PM by Cherie Dargan

Cherie's Takeaways on The Woman's Hour: The Great Fight to Win the Vote (Paperback) – March 5, 2019

by Elaine Weiss 


This book made me rethink what I thought I knew about suffrage and the 19th amendment!

I learned about

1.     The division between the two main groups of suffragettes: Alice Paul and her National Women’s Party and Carrie Chapman Catt and her NAWSA. Catt would go on to establish the League of Women Voters.

2.     I had not understood before that it was Alice Paul and her group who picketed the White House and were put in jail. Carrie Chapman Catt did not advocate for them.

3.     The rather ferocious Antis who were willing to do almost anything to defeat the suffrage movement

4.     The many forces that came together to oppose suffrage: the railroads, the whiskey industry and the textile industry, for example

5.     The pressure on the politicians in Tennessee from both sides

6.     The geographical, philosophical, and political divisions in the state of Tennessee

7.     The role of Carrie’s leadership in turning the tide. She was a skilled negotiator

8.     The role of racism in the defeat of suffrage in the south – people were afraid that black women would be able to vote. Even the suffragettes were not as supportive. Alice Paul made them ride in the back of the parade

9.     The role of President Wilson, whose first wife died. He remarried and Edith was not a fan of suffrage but saw her husband become an advocate for suffrage and the 19th amendment. He put pressure on the governor to call the special session. However, Wilson became ill and his wife and staff kept his condition from almost everyone. His secretary, Joseph Tumulty, was a supporter of suffrage and made sure that Carrie’s messages got to the President

10.  In the end, the fight in Tennessee came down to one good man, Harry Burn.

https://www.history.com/news/the-mother-who-saved-suffrage-passing-the-19th-amendment

The Mother Who Saved Suffrage: Passing the 19th Amendment--JENNIE COHEN

“American women achieved the right to vote on August 18, 1920, thanks in part to a Tennessee legislator with a very powerful mother.

…..Harry Burn—who until that time had fallen squarely in the anti-suffrage camp—received a note from his mother, Phoebe Ensminger Burn, known to her family and friends as Miss Febb. In it, she had written, “Hurrah, and vote for suffrage! Don’t keep them in doubt. I notice some of the speeches against. They were bitter. I have been watching to see how you stood but have not noticed anything yet.” She ended the missive with a rousing endorsement of the great suffragist leader Carrie Chapman Catt, imploring her son to “be a good boy and help Mrs. Catt put the ‘rat’ in ratification.”

                                                                            Carrie Chapman Catt at her desk.

Short videos on suffrage

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=xwjlnvKbeQA

School House Rock—19th Amendment

 

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=sxZAE6fopjU

By One Vote: Woman Suffrage in the South | The Citizenship Project | NPT

898 views. Premiered Nov 21, 2019

In August 1920 in Nashville, Tennessee legislators cast the deciding vote to ratify the 19th Amendment, thus giving women in the United States the right to vote. Narrated by Rosanne Cash, NPT’s original documentary BY ONE VOTE: WOMAN SUFFRAGE IN THE SOUTH chronicles events leading up to that turbulent, nail-biting showdown.

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=_KhYRqozTDE&feature=youtu.be

Here is a short video about the historic women's suffrage march on Washington.

Thank you to Michelle Mehrtens for putting this together and for Gerri Perreault for sharing the link.

 

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=a9LmBgY-F5A

19th amendment history: features Alice Paul


Last updated April 10, 2020

 

Thoughts on the Pandemic and this awkward gift of time

posted Apr 10, 2020, 1:40 PM by Cherie Dargan


I’ve been in rehab mode since mid-December, with two knee replacement surgeries nine weeks apart, so staying at home has been my routine. My life has revolved around Physical Therapy, Occupational Therapy, a few doctor appointments, and several events for the League of Women Voters. I ventured into a couple of grocery stores in Feb. and early March, but since the encouragement to shelter in place in mid-March, I’ve only left the house for P. T. or a short ride in the car with Mike.

As we have all tried to adjust to staying home, I think we have gone through something of a grieving process, with many getting stuck in the denial phase. Our governor refuses to issue a statewide order to shelter in place, and it is a dubious distinction for Iowa to be one of a handful of states not doing so. Mike and I see a steady stream of traffic on Prairie Parkway, in front of our house, and I wonder where all those folks are going? On one of our short drives, we saw lines at McDonald's and Culver’s, and quite a few cars at the Dollar Store, Walmart, and Target.

Certainly, all of us have our grocery lists or crave a switch from home cooking, and I am not criticizing the urge for a burger or picking up groceries. However, as we look to the East coast and the West coast, we see our future, with many more people getting sick and being hospitalized. At a certain point, we will all need to take responsibility to safeguard ourselves, our loved ones, our friends and neighbors, and stay at home more.

I saw a post on Facebook joking about feeling sorry for all those husbands who had promised to do certain chores “when they had time.” Now, all of us have an awkward gift of time—the question is what are we going to do with it?

The possibilities are endless. Some of my creative friends are making face masks, finishing quilts, writing poetry, or painting. Others are making cookies, baking bread, or digging out recipes once thought promising, but too time consuming. My daughter has started to blog again. Many of us are cleaning more, attacking clutter in closets and drawers, and focusing on our homes. And, of course, those with children home from school are juggling caring for children, trying to guide them through homework, and trying to get their own work done. All of that togetherness is also testing patience, as we deal with family relationships at a whole new level. Fortunately, my husband Mike knows how to make me laugh, makes terrific grilled cheese sandwiches, and we have offices at opposite ends of the house, so we are doing well.

We were blessed to have our two grandsons for several days over spring break, before we reluctantly concluded that we needed to isolate ourselves. We had so much fun together, and made some good memories, baking banana bread, watching cartoons, making posters with grandpa’s funny old computer paper, and reading books.

Since I am still doing rehab, much of my time seems spent doing my exercises (or at least thinking about doing them), elevating my leg and using ice or heat to soothe sore muscles, as I watch TV, listen to music, read, or nap. I’ve managed to finish several series on Netflix and Amazon, including Psych.

I’ve been at work on a novel for several years and got a little stuck. Lately, I have been working on it again, and found it satisfying to have chunks of time where I can read over my draft, ponder additions, do research, and expand my thoughts. I’ve already made progress.

In the meantime, I have also made it a point to reach out to friends, via email, text, Facebook, and Facebook messenger. I think all of us are craving human connection right now. Last year, one of my childhood friends reached out to me and suggested we visit each week on Wednesday evening: it is one of the highlights of my week. Mike and I are working our way through several series, and it is our evening ritual to watch an episode or two, have some ice cream, and relax together.

Someday, life will return to a new normal. What will we reflect on when we look back on this time? Whether we master a foreign language, finish a quilt, teach children math and reading and writing, or binge watch Netflix, I have a feeling we will all look back at this gift of time with mixed feelings. I hope to use it to the best of my ability, and I hope you will do so as well.

 Last updated April 10, 2020

From Caretaker to Patient

posted Feb 16, 2020, 5:09 PM by Cherie Dargan

Mike and I have had a series of surgeries in the past twelve months. 2019 began with a minor surgery for me, a septoplasty that resulted in better breathing. Mike did a good job of taking care of me, and within a couple of weeks, all was back to normal. Next, Mike had two back fusion surgeries between May and August, and I became the caretaker. I documented my experiences in two previous blog posts. However, during those two hospitalizations of Mike’s I was hobbling around on knees that hurt. I got injections and used my rollator, but it was clear that I couldn’t put off knee replacement much longer.

So, in mid-December I got the right knee replaced and the caretaker became the patient again. I had surgery on a Tuesday. I had an amazing experience in the recovery room, when the ceiling seemed to be a swirling mass of blue and white. My brain told me that it was the drugs, but I almost felt like I was part of a Bob Ross painting. Next, I had the sensation of being in a giant canopy bed, even as my brain continued to argue against what I saw. Then, I thought I saw two small gray doves fly down and rest on my right forearm. They cooed in a comforting way as I struggled to fully wake up, responding to a nurse’s voice, talking to me. Nearby, another nurse said, “Wake up, Alexa” and I chuckled, wanting to ask, “Alexa, what is the temperature?”

The nursing staff took good care of me, and while it was a struggle to get up out of bed, I had a lot of help. I was released from the hospital the next day and Mike drove me to Deery Suites, a rehab unit associated with the Western Home Communities. I stayed there for a week and did physical therapy and occupational therapy.

When I came home, we arranged for the Western Home at home aides to come in every day, helping me with showers, getting dressed, and doing a few household chores to help Mike. I was weaker and in much more pain than I had anticipated and felt discouraged.

Mike became my cheerleader: when I craved a chocolate glazed donut, he walked over to the nearby Kwik Start to get me one. He perfected his grilled cheese sandwich, and kept me supplied with diet Dr. Pepper, apples, oranges, Greek yogurt, and Dove ice cream bars.

Mike did a great job of taking care of me, driving me to appointments, preparing meals, and doing all he could to help. However, he could not bend to load and unload the dishwasher. So, before the surgery, we began looking for ideas. We found an over the sink dish rack, which he loved, and I remarked to friends that we should have gotten it months earlier, because he had done more dishes than he ever done before!

Family and friends visited, called, sent texts, and emailed. In addition, Facebook became a very therapeutic link to my friends and family.

The weeks passed and I began to feel more encouraged as I began feeling stronger in Physical Therapy. I passed my goals for Occupational Therapy and that ended. Unfortunately, as I scaled back on pain meds, the pain in my other knee became more intense. I still needed some assistance taking my shower, and appreciated the help given by the at home aides. However, after five weeks, we transitioned to Mike helping me, and got along.

At my six-week appointment, we visited with my surgeon about replacing the left knee.

At seven weeks I ventured into two smaller stores and realized how nice it was to be out and about, despite the pain in my knee. I attended a legislative forum, a board meeting, a book club, and we went out to eat a couple of times.

Now, it is just two days from the second surgery, and I am packing my bag and checking my lists. I am more confident of the outcomes of the surgery and know more about what to expect. Mike has taken over the kitchen and has his routines established. The man who never wanted to go get groceries with me now shops at Fareway, Hyvee and Walmart with ease. 

While I am not looking forward to the surgery itself, I am trying to look down the road to when my rehab is over, and I have two good knees. Mike and I hope to have some adventures and put aside caretaking for a while.

 Last updated February 15, 2020





Lessons in Caretaking, Take Two

posted Feb 16, 2020, 4:14 PM by Cherie Dargan


No one expects to undergo two major surgeries in three months, but that is what happened to my husband, Mike. He went for his checkup after the May 22 surgery on August 1, only to be told that he needed a second surgery, based on the x-rays. He had been in pain but thought it was part of the healing process. Instead, it signaled a problem with a vertebrae above the original incision that was twisting. In addition, several screws had broken.

So, how do you prepare for such an experience?

First, you grieve. I felt like I went through the grieving process in rapid fire, upon getting the news. Mike went through his own grieving process, concluding that we had no option but surgery. Without it, he would have ongoing pain and possibly paralysis.

Next, once you get to acceptance, you do what you need to prepare.

I made reservations at the Heartland Inn, which is about a mile from the University of Iowa hospitals. They have a shuttle service that takes much of the stress out of supporting a loved one being in the hospital. Since we had stayed there in May, I felt more comfortable.

I delegated things to others in my work with the League of Women Voters. I have a wonderful board and people stepped up to help.

I started packing a bag with comfortable clothes—and comfortable shoes.

I downloaded books to my Kindle.

I put a hold on the newspapers and mail.

Once we got to Coralville and got settled in the room, I had the sense of Deja Vue, knowing what to expect with the shuttle schedule, the breakfast menu at the hotel, the location of waiting rooms and cafeterias and elevators at the hospital.

I recognized some staff, and several spoke to me who had taken care of Mike the first time around.

One of our friends from League, Gerri, came down to stay with me the day of surgery, and that was wonderful.

She and I went to see Mike the day after his surgery and were amazed by his progress. He was able to not only stand up alone but walked around the corridor with physical therapists.

Fortunately, he left after only six days this time and was able to come straight home. I was able to get help from our Western Home At Home staff and a nurse and aides came in to help with Mike.

Flash forward two months and Mike resumed much of his routine, with limits on lifting, bending and twisting. However, he was able to resume exercising and is now standing taller and straighter. The second surgery was truly a success, and I realized again that while it can be overwhelming to be a caretaker, I was not alone. 


Last updated February 16, 2020

Takeaways from The Woman's Hour

posted Feb 16, 2020, 3:59 PM by Cherie Dargan

My Takeaways from The Woman's Hour: The Great Fight to Win the Vote 

by Elaine Weiss  March 2019


 
 

This book made me rethink what I thought I knew about suffrage and the 19th amendment!

I learned about

1.      The division between the two main groups of suffragettes: Alice Paul and her National Women’s Party and Carrie Chapman Catt and her NAWSA. Catt would go on to establish the League of Women Voters.

2.      I had not understood before that it was Alice Paul and her group who picketed the White House and were put in jail. Carrie Chapman Catt did not advocate for them.

3.      The rather ferocious Antis who were willing to do almost anything to defeat the suffrage movement

4.      The many forces that came together to oppose suffrage: the railroads, the whiskey industry and the textile industry, for example

5.      The pressure on the politicians in Tennessee from both sides

6.      The geographical, philosophical, and political divisions in the state of Tennessee

7.      The role of Carrie’s leadership in turning the tide. She was a skilled negotiator

8.      The role of racism in the defeat of suffrage in the south – people were afraid that black women would be able to vote. Even the suffragettes were not as supportive. Alice Paul made them ride in the back of the parade

9.      The role of President Wilson, whose first wife died. He remarried and Edith was not a fan of suffrage but saw her husband become an advocate for suffrage and the 19th amendment. He put pressure on the governor to call the special session. However, Wilson became ill and his wife and staff kept his condition from almost everyone. His secretary, Joseph Tumulty, was a supporter of suffrage and made sure that Carrie’s messages got to the President

10.  In the end, the fight in Tennessee came down to one good man, Harry Burn.

https://www.history.com/news/the-mother-who-saved-suffrage-passing-the-19th-amendment

The Mother Who Saved Suffrage: Passing the 19th Amendment--JENNIE COHEN

“American women achieved the right to vote on August 18, 1920, thanks in part to a Tennessee legislator with a very powerful mother.

…..Harry Burn—who until that time had fallen squarely in the anti-suffrage camp—received a note from his mother, Phoebe Ensminger Burn, known to her family and friends as Miss Febb. In it, she had written, “Hurrah, and vote for suffrage! Don’t keep them in doubt. I notice some of the speeches against. They were bitter. I have been watching to see how you stood but have not noticed anything yet.” She ended the missive with a rousing endorsement of the great suffragist leader Carrie Chapman Catt, imploring her son to “be a good boy and help Mrs. Catt put the ‘rat’ in ratification.”

Short videos on suffrage

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=xwjlnvKbeQA

School House Rock—19th Amendment

 

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=sxZAE6fopjU

By One Vote: Woman Suffrage in the South | The Citizenship Project | NPT

898 views. Premiered Nov 21, 2019

In August 1920 in Nashville, Tennessee legislators cast the deciding vote to ratify the 19th Amendment, thus giving women in the United States the right to vote. Narrated by Rosanne Cash, NPT’s original documentary BY ONE VOTE: WOMAN SUFFRAGE IN THE SOUTH chronicles events leading up to that turbulent, nail-biting showdown.

 

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=_KhYRqozTDE&feature=youtu.be

Here is a short video about the historic women's suffrage march on Washington.

Thank you to Michelle Mehrtens for putting this together and for Gerri Perreault for sharing the link.

 

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=a9LmBgY-F5A

19th amendment history: features Alice Paul


Last updated February 16, 2020

 

The Echo Show 5: Fun and Functional

posted Feb 16, 2020, 9:46 AM by Cherie Dargan   [ updated Feb 16, 2020, 9:47 AM ]

Some of you may have received an Echo Show 5 over the holidays. What can you do with it and why might you buy one, if Santa didn’t leave one under the tree?



Think of it as your Echo Dot’s big sister: the echo show has a five-inch touch screen with the day of the week, the date, the temperature, time, and a series of alerts about packages or messages. It’s a smart speaker, meaning that it is connected to the internet—and your Amazon account. It also comes with a camera and touch screen.

You may have been using the Echo dot to wake you up, give you today’s weather information, listen to Iowa Public Radio, play music, tell you a joke, and play relaxing music at bedtime. Echo Show can do all of that, and much more. Want to find a recipe for minestrone soup? Ask Alexa and she will go to Allrecipes and the Food Network and show you a selection of recipes. Pick one and you can see the recipe, its ingredients, and perhaps watch a video of it being prepared.

You can also do the following ten things:

1.    Watch the News at Bloomberg or CNN. Simply say, “Alexa, open CNN.” You can also get flash briefings from CNBC, People Magazine, and the Tonight Show.
2.    Watch your favorite TV series on Amazon Prime (Any Psych fans?)
3.    Set up reminders and alarms (“Alexa, remind me to exercise at 9:30 am”).
4.    Connect your Fitbit to your Echo Show in the Alexa app (go to menu, skills, search for Fitbit, enable, log on) “Alexa, ask Fitbit how I’m doing.” You’ll get your step count and encouragement.
5.    Listen to ambient sounds at night, to help you relax.
6.    Listen to a podcast or Play Ted Talks, searching by genre or asking for the most recent episode.
7.    Ask questions about local businesses and your echo show will bring up information including its location and contact information.
8.    Ask Alexa about this day in history or ask for the morning briefing to including learning in your routine.
9.    Call someone else who has an Echo Show and you can enjoy a video chat.        
Vi  View your calendar after synching it with your Echo device

The Echo Show is a great gift for a friend or family member who lives alone. It is a very low-tech device: all they need to do is talk to it, using Alexa as the wake-up word. Then, as noted, you can do video chats to check in on them.

In addition, we could devote an entire column to the smart home features of the Echo Show: if you have the smart light bulbs or appliances, you can turn on and off the lights and smart appliances, check security cameras,  and do more to deserve being designated a virtual assistant.

Around the holidays, Amazon puts all its devices on sale: I got mine for $49, half of the normal price of $89. A stand costs another $15-20. However, I noticed it was selling for $69, which is still a great price.

If you are intrigued by the possibilities discussed here, or simply looking for a fun and functional tool, check out the Echo Show 5 on Amazon, or read more at the following sources. 

To learn more,

https://www.digitaltrends.com/home/amazon-echo-show-skills/

Everything you can do with your Amazon Echo Show

By Jenny McGrath July 26, 2017

https://bestoflifemag.com/amazon-echo-show-review-things-to-try/

100 THINGS TO TRY WITH THE AMAZON ECHO SHOW

 Last updated Feb. 16, 2020

 

Lessons learned from Caretaking

posted Jul 14, 2019, 3:28 PM by Cherie Dargan   [ updated Jul 14, 2019, 6:45 PM ]

My husband Mike had a major back surgery on May 22 down in Iowa City: after 30 days in two hospitals and a rehab unit, he came home just last week. Throughout the last six weeks, I have learned to be his advocate and now that he is home, his caretaker.

Here are a few lessons I’ve learned:

First, prepare for the surgery and rehab. Here is what we did:

  • Rearrange furniture to make it easier to get around the home with a walker or crutches.
  • Stock up on some easy meals in the freezer or collect information about nearby restaurants that deliver
  • Load up your ipads w books on Kindle and the Audible app
  • Put important info on Google Keep (hotel reservations, doctors’ numbers, web portal info, list of medications, friends’ phone numbers, etc.)
  • Pack some healthy snacks (almonds, animal crackers, apple slices, etc.)
  • Don’t forget your chargers
  • Pack comfy shoes and clothes, and take a hoodie or sweater along for sitting in the hospital, where it is typically cold.

Second,     Write down your questions for doctors: they’re busy people and will only be there for a few minutes. Most of the time, you will get more information about your loved one’s progress from the nurses and other medical staff.


2.      You need to ask questions and advocate for your loved one: this has been uncomfortable at times, but again, it is the most important thing you can do for your loved one when he or she is in the hospital. Take a small notebook with you and document concerns and problems – I noted inconsistencies with giving Mike his meds, confusion about the medication schedule, and actual mistakes. Iowa City changed the dosage of a pill he has taken for many years, prescribed at a higher does than is typical, but done for a good reason. Once caught, it was corrected.


3.      Use the patient portals like MyChart, even though the most frequent comment I heard from nurses was the doctor doesn’t read those messages. However, after sending our surgeon an email—and doing a copy and paste into the patient portal’s message center, he called us back and answered some questions.

4.      Try to keep hydrated and include a mix of healthy food and a few “treats” to get you through long days: I admit to getting hooked on Dove ice cream bars at the hospital’s cafeteria.


5.      Take breaks when you get overwhelmed: walk out of the room, call a friend, or text a friend.

6.      Accept help: I have had strangers walk up as I am struggling with fatigue, and trying to get my rollator into the cargo area in Allen Hospital’s parking lot. People have brought food or stopped to chat. Two friends drove down to Iowa City to caravan home because I was too tired to drive.

7.      Breathe – slow down your breathing to calm yourself when you feel overwhelmed.


8.      Reach out to friends and family on social media: one friend suggested that I see a counselor for the trauma I was feeling, seeing Mike in so much pain, and having to wait for pain medication. I replied, “Isn’t that what Facebook is for?” I was half joking; however, I was amazed by the support that I received. Several people reached out to me on Facebook’s Messenger with personal messages, including one friend who had undergone the same surgery. She shared her experience and it was comforting to be able to benchmark Mike’s progress with her story.


9.      Thank the medical staff for their help: almost all of them are caring, professional, and want to help your loved one. However, when someone on the medical staff makes a mistake, document it and talk to someone else. A young aide at a Rehab facility tried to get Mike to lay down on a mattress designed to prevent bedsores, but it was not a good fit for someone with a long incision on the back. “You can tough it out for one night, can’t you?” She asked. No, he could not. When she did not relent, I went home in tears: later, I called back and demanded that the mattress be changed, and it was.

 

10.   Finally, remember that someone else has it harder: I talked to a young woman on the shuttle from our hotel to the hospital, who told me her husband was in the burn unit and had lost three fingers. He was a talented musician who loved to play the piano. Another woman on the bus had a husband who was already in the hospital when he suffered a stroke. I found myself close to tears thinking about the long journey ahead of both of these women as they helped to care for their husbands.

 

 Last updated July 14, 2019

 

Spring clean your computer and digital devices

posted May 19, 2019, 2:50 PM by Cherie Dargan   [ updated May 19, 2019, 2:54 PM ]

As the rain melts the snow, Spring is on its way, and some of us are spring cleaning--tackling cluttered closets, hauling off recycles, and boxing up things for Stuff or Goodwill. However, don’t forget to clean up your digital devices and computers. Here’s how.

Your Phone and Tablet


Take a closer look at your apps—are there some that you don’t use anymore, or some you downloaded and didn’t like? Delete them and free up precious space.

Take a critical look at your photos. I’d like to blame it on becoming a grandmother because I have hundreds and hundreds of photos of my two grandsons, but smartphones and tablets have made it easy to take photos. Unfortunately, most of us take too many photos and do not clean up our devices, deleting photos on a regular basis, getting rid of duplicate photos or bad photos. These are those unfortunate photos that are unfocused, unflattering, or simply unnecessary—if you’re like me, you have ten photos of your grandsons playing or decorating cookies. Pick the best 2 or 3.

 Remember, if you have an android phone and have a Gmail account, you probably have photos on Google’s Photo App (formerly called Picasa Photos). This is an example of cloud storage. You can create albums, share them with friends and family, and create projects. To find Google photos, click on the little table of dots at the upper right-hand corner of your Gmail account, and you will find all of your Google Apps, such as Photos, Calendar, and Google Docs/Drive. If you have an Apple phone, your photos are on i-Cloud, so you need to create an account and log onto https://www.icloud.com/.  So, when was the last time you cleaned up all of those photos—on your phone, computer and cloud storage? Finally, a microfiber cloth and some lens/screen wipes will help you freshen up your devices and screens as well.

 Your PC or laptop


If you create documents like me, you may have multiple versions of documents. Delete the earliest ones. Remember you can sort a folder of documents by selecting the details feature: then, you can sort by date or name.

If your documents are precious, you should be backing them up two ways: first, using an external hard drive, and second, backing up to the cloud using Google Drive, iCloud, drop box, or another product.

Like the dentist says, only brush what you want to keep! So, only back up the docs and pics you want to keep. I learned this the hard way when an old Dell laptop died: I was using it to scan in family photos and documents. Mike thought the hard drive had failed, one but when he put in a new one, the computer didn’t work. So, my son suggested he get a device that let him read the old hard drive—and he was able to recover all of my scans and photos. I uploaded them to the appropriate folders on Google Photos, and felt very fortunate! I then “got religion” and tackled my big PC, getting rid of a staggering 130 gigs of photos and docs and uploading docs to Google Drive. Of course, you can grab that microfiber cloth and lens/screen wipes to help you freshen up your screen, keyboard, and other equipment.

If you don’t live with an IT guy or have a son in IT, you need to follow a few simple guidelines:



 1)     Save all docs to folders in your Documents library on PCs and save all pictures to your Pictures library. If you like to have your current projects handy, you can create shortcuts to the desktop, but it is important to have it all in your Documents folders, if you want your backups to be complete.

 2)     Buy an external hard drive—Seagate or Western Digital make excellent products. Installation isn’t terribly difficult: plug in, install software, and set up.

 3)     Finally, don’t wait for a disaster to strike to clean up your devices!  If you’re writing a book, compiling your family history, or scanning in precious old photos, you want to be able to preserve and share your hard work. Back it up. 

March 15, 2019


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