Thursday, March 11, 2010

Cabin Fever

This endless winter seems to be finally nearing its end. We've had several beautiful almost-spring days in a row; even today, which was supposed to be drizzly, has been relatively pleasant.

At last, birds are singing in the morning, and the Mockingbird and his mate have apparently staked out their territory. I saw him sitting on a high wire pouring out his usual torrent of mixed-up birdsong, effortlessly moving from the Cardinal to the Robin's song, followed by a few scraps of other birds' songs that weren't quite recognizable. The Mockingbird is the only bird I know of in this area that actually sings in the middle of the night. I've often heard him at 1 or 2 a.m. during the breeding season.

Another morning when we were walking the dog we heard, far overhead, the sounds of Canada Geese honking. No, they weren't the usual non-migrating New Jersey geese just going from one office park to another. These were serious geese. There were two big long lines of them, high above, which gradually managed to come together and start forming the requisite V. They were clearly headed north and in it for the long haul.

The snow has all melted except for a few lumps here and there where the plows had piled it up; now it has changed into that crunchy icy stuff, flecked with black. (I always wonder where the black comes from. The road? The air? The snow itself?).

I've seen buds on one or two of the early shrubs and trees. We even managed to sit outside on our deck on a couple of afternoons when the temperatures hovered around 60 degrees.

But the grass is still brown and the trees are still bare and the next four days are supposed to be chilly and rainy. We are still stuck in the house. That is one form of "cabin fever" from which we are suffering.

The other form of cabin fever we have is that urge to get away from it all and go to our cabin in the Adirondacks. Unfortunately spring up there is 2-3 weeks behind New Jersey. I'm sure there is still plenty of snow on the ground and it will still be cold enough at night to freeze pipes for a few weeks yet, so we are still stuck in New Jersey for another month or so.

In the meantime, my days are filled with errands and visits to my mother in the nursing home, where she is still getting rehabilitation. It's amazing how the days fly by when they are all so similar.

Unfortunately, my mother seems to be developing dementia as time goes by. At first I thought it was due to her lung condition, but as it turns out her blood gas levels are all normal, so it isn't due to that. Interestingly, I just read an article about nicotine containing compounds that may actually be beneficial in preventing or mitigating Alzheimer's Disease. There are a number of recent studies that back up this possible connection, although of course it is far from a cure.

My mother, a lifelong smoker, smoked until she went into the hospital. She has now been nicotine-free for over a month and her congition has declined markedly. I realize it could be the result of her recent illness, stress, or hospitalization, but I am wondering if she would have done better if she'd had the nicotine patch as she did the last time she was hospitalized. I wish I had asked for it, in retrospect. Hindsight is always 20-20, as the saying goes.

I hope to talk to the doctor about her condition and see if Aricept or another drug might have the same beneficial effects without her having to go on the nicotine patch. Of course, I know that it may be too late to bring her back to the way she was, and I may need to accept that and just enjoy the time we have left together in whatever condition she may be in.

Thinking of the migrating birds, and my mother's long life, now closing in on its end, reminds me of the Sandy Denny song, "Who Knows Where the Time Goes." I first knew this song as it was sung by Judy Collins, and her bell-like voice is just unmatched by anyone. So I will post a video of her singing the song in concert in 2000.


Mnmom said...

Who indeed knows where the time goes. I still feel 27, and can't believe I'm in my late 40's.

It's in the 40's here, raining, bleak, snow still all around. I hate this time of year.

lisahgolden said...

Okay, now that I'm done gasping at the beautiful, heartbreaking poignancy of that song, may I just say that you can count me in as one who will be welcoming this spring unlike other springs before.

Even down here, this has been a long, cold winter.

And it seems like you just closed up the cabin. Time sure does fly...

Kentucky Rain said...

I smoked for over 40 years, until 4 years ago. I just woke up one morning, after a particularly hard night of partying fun, and said I'm not going to do this anymore and quit. For several weeks I could hardly string a sentence or put together an intelligent thought.

TomCat said...

Mimi, I do hope you mom improves.

S.W. Anderson said...

I know so well what the aching desire for spring to arrive in full, warm verdant bloom beneath a brilliant blue sky. The last two winters in my area were very long, with extreme snow levels. Last year, we broke the all-time record for the season. This winter is on track to be the least-snowy ever. I only had to use a shovel twice, and that wasn't much. Even so, there's no guarantee we'll get that perfect spring-is-sprung day any sooner. Hereabouts, the cold season gives up grudgingly, with many a late sneak attack before warmth finally takes over.

After the winter you on the East Coast had, you deserve an early and especially beautiful spring. I hope you get it, and soon.

I hope too that your mom will rally and that medication will help stave off, or better, eliminate, her loss of faculties.

Sherry Peyton said...

Boy I'm with you. This winter has been ugly and I'm getting frustrated with the "spring." We are mudded in now. Husband just did that this morning trying to go to town for stamps. No church for me tomorrow, alas.

I have continued to pray for your mom and hope that things go well. This is a difficult time for you for sure and it seldom gets better for long. My blessings to you, and hopefully warmth and green and smiles will return.

Fran said...

I just heard on our news we are down 5 inches of rain in the Pacific NW Rainforest!
Looks like the NE really endured a harsh winter.
So I hope the bulbs start to bloom & the snow ceases & desists! On the up side, you have not had to mow your grass.... which we have, in February.

Sorry about your Mom.
Sweet song ~ very dreamy.

Mauigirl said...

MnMom, I know, I can't believe I'm 56 now. When I turned 40 it was a real shock to me - I literally woke up in the middle of the night in a cold sweat for days after my birthday thinking "OMG, I can't believe I'm 40!" Luckily that passed. But even now I sometimes completely forget what age I am and think someone in their mid-40s is "around my age" - and then realize they don't remember the same stuff I do and they're really not my age at all!

Lisa, glad you liked the song - I've always loved Judy Collins. When DH and I met, we discovered we each had all the same Judy Collins (and Moody Blues) albums. It was a real sign of compatibility I guess!

MadMike, that is very interesting - maybe it really is nicotine withdrawal that is making my mother worse...will see what happens as time goes by. I smoked as well, for about 10 years, but when I quit it didn't seem to have that effect. Of course I was much younger, only in my late 20s at the time so perhaps was able to adjust easier.

TC, thanks, I hope so too.

SW, I guess it was our turn to get a rotten winter this time! It's only fair for it to be spread around. I know spring will come eventually. Thanks for your good wishes about my mother.

Sherry, I know what you mean about the mud - up in the Adirondacks from now until the end of April or so I guess is "mud season." It is quite a mess usually. But they didn't get as much snow as usual this winter up there so perhaps it won't be as bad. Thanks also for your prayers for my mother, I appreciate all your good wishes for her.

Fran, now we just went through a 3-day northeaster with pelting, driving rain and high winds. Trees are down everywhere. This is quite a winter for us here. At least it wasn't snow! It has been a weird winter everywhere. I hope the rainforest survives the lack of rain! Thanks re: my mom...

denverdoc said...

That nicotine/dementia connection is so interesting. It is known that people who smoke are less likely to get Parkinson's Disease or Alzheimer's (but probably more likely to get vascular dementia due to all the other destructive components of cigarette smoke). People do not smoke for nothing--my darling not so little son with ADD clearly does so much better concentrating after a cigarette. Wish he's settle for the patch or gum instead...

Mauigirl said...

Femail Doc, agree, I think nicotine is a self-medicating thing for many people.

amadmike1 said...

Maui...Trust me! 56 is NOT OLD!! Also would you point my link to my newer site at Thanks! I can use all the links I can get. How is your mom doing by the way?

Mauigirl said...

Thanks Mad Mike! I will update the link, thanks for the heads-up.

Mom is doing OK...she is going to be released from rehab and will be going back to her apartment. She will need care, though, so I need to make arragements.