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Routines are like pages in a book whose material inspires, entertains, and instructs. Skilled in the craft and art of bookmaking, authors nuance the next right word to carry their project forward, until the work is completed.

I liken the routine I follow, daily, to this process. At first it was awkward to string the components together, not knowing what was wrong who me. For several years, what I call picky eaters or symptoms, have lodged in my lungs gnawing on my limited energy and enveloping me in more symptoms, especially inertia and shortness of breath.

The eventual diagnosis, ILD with RA, set the necessary pacing and parameters for living in this aging body. I learned timely pauses interspersed among activities of daily living. I learned to accept help with personal care and meal preparation, with its clean-up. I learned to rest/sleep atop my bed when wipe-out reduced me to inactivity. Such patterned each day within the doable routine of my housebound status.

However, the progression of my terminal illness has mandated major adjustments: use of continuous oxygen, the use of a speech amplifier to increase the volume of my voice, the dependence upon my walker, longer night-sleep maintained by low doses of liquid morphine and Lorazapan, and recently, time-released doses of morphine, 24/7, to help me breathe—all within my flexible routine.  

Like authors at the end of their day, I’m glad to let go of my routine, until the following morning. It’s working, with God’s help.

Shortness of breath sounding like a flat tire and enervating weakness compel the directive, Pause! My walker and continuous oxygen support sinking into my arm chair and propping my legs upon an upturned wicker basket. Across from me, a male cardinal alights upon the board fence, its black face communing with the sun.

With each breath more evenly spaced, I begin hearing from my depths, You are just what I need. Moments evaporate like sun-drenched droplets upon the sidewalk after a sudden storm. Another communion relishes my distress, until the next pause.

Some have noticed a lull in my blogging. It’s puzzled me, too. No longer do words come facilely as I sit at my word processor, distracted by the flowering of the summer snowflake viburnum outside my study window.

Rather than there being nothing to write about, my apparent shut down is related to my terminal illness: interstitial lung disease with rheumatoid arthritis that crimps my energies, my mental faculties, and my overall functioning. Practicing daily acceptance in CPA’s Step One, these past two years, has softened the distress of my shortness of breath, extreme weakness, need for continuous rest, with increasing difficulty to speak.

Other than sloughing off my aging body for another realm, there is no remedy—save for the time-released morphine pill and two Nebulizer treatments, taken daily. It is this process I’m to focus upon—such was my Inner Writer’s intent in stifling words from my depths.

The end of my life approaches; its symptoms have their own story to tell, and I hope to honor them.

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