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Whoa! Would you look at that? I mumbled, supporting myself against the vanity in the bathroom. My brown jeans, still buttoned, had slipped over my hips and pooled around my bare feet—evidence of more weight loss.

Unlike many, my weight had never been a problem, given the onset of rheumatoid arthritis in the 1960s and my adoption of the Paleo diet; disregarding it added additional knee pain and swelling. But dropping a pound here or there, in recent years, alarmed me since I was unable to regain them.

The eventual diagnosis of ILD with rheumatoid arthritis named the underlying disorder, but the weight loss was slow in manifesting, until recently. 

Whenever I needed alterations in the past, I resorted to a South Korean Dry Cleaners in my neighborhood—nothing fancy but it served my needs. Besides my brown jeans, faded from many washings, others especially my tan ones—my favorite—needed also critical stitching, not that I was going anywhere.

For days, I obsessed over transportation, the energy available for the fitting, the cramped quarters of the dry cleaners, and my ability to maneuver on my walker. Ordering new pants on line was not an option because of my height. Finally, all was arranged for yesterday afternoon, but I was too weak to go.

So, what happened when I opened the door of my bedroom closet this morning, long cleared out of clothing, in preparation for my demise in 2019? Hanging among other light-colored pants was another tan pair I had used only for travel to Gloucester, Massachusetts. I’d forgotten that I’d bought them it at J Jill’s, size 4, long, years ago. The fit is still perfect.

So, no need to fret. Precious God takes care of all my wants, even clothing until there’s no need.

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.

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