Martha shares the toll unexpected caregiving responsibilities have taken on the show and reveals the plan for going forward.
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Welcome to the My Aloof Vagina Podcast, where we explore the distress and surprise of our midlife transitions. It's inevitable, so we may as well equip ourselves and have a good time. Hello there, listener. I wanted to pop in and provide a short episode explaining how we're gonna wrap up season one. As you know, if you've been listening, And if you haven't been, I'll catch you up a little bit. I have had some caregiving duties for elderly relatives come up and at first I didn't think it would have that much of an impact on the podcast because you know, have microphone will travel. And travel I have. So I took my mic up with me for the first visit, which was three weeks, came home for a little bit, headed backup for another few weeks, and I'm realizing now that I can't sustain the recording because the internet isn't strong enough in those houses and I tried using some alternate locations... and the effort it was taking to make sure I had good recordings was pretty challenging. We don't have a summer house up there. We're townies. These are old houses with old lines that are also used for the phone and it's just been, it's just been a lot. So it occurred to me that I could take control of this podcast's destiny by wrapping up Season One, sharing with you what the plans are, thanking you for listening, and then also providing some bonus content. When I went up originally, My family member had fallen and broken her hip and was heading into emergency surgery. I didn't have a lot of information. I just grabbed things. I packed really fast and I left. I didn't pack everything I needed. I did pack my podcast stuff and I did bring my Dyson, but I didn't bring, you know, enough clothes to change into. I didn't bring makeup or any of my skincare cause I didn't know I was gonna be there for weeks. I didn't know that it was gonna turn out I had a couple of relatives with recent falls needing some caregiving and a lot of things to wrestle with with the healthcare system. And if you've been through this, you know what I'm talking about. And if you haven't yet, I imagine someday you might, and I might even do a spinoff podcast about Medicare A and B, all the gap coverages, all the things I didn't know that I had to learn how to navigate cause it's been quite an education. But really, I'm glad I could do it. I'm glad I was available. I'm glad there are other family members and we're taking turns, and right now I am home at my own place for a few days, and that gave me a chance to stop and tell you what's going on. So you didn't wonder why podcast episodes weren't showing up weekly and to share some of the things that happened that are actually kind of hilarious in hindsight with all of this. So I might just go in, chronological order because I'm having trouble turning this into a straight narrative of just the things that have happened. So in that first trip I had trouble getting a flight cause you can't really buy a flight less than two hours in advance online. And a lot of airlines won't let you buy a ticket at the airport, United, for example. I had a situation where I got there just before the cutoff for the first flight. Tried to get a United flight, tried to get a different flight on the original airline, American. Unsuccessful. I was told I could get on Southwest. Bought a Southwest ticket at one airport in the DC area and then drove to the other, hoping desperately to get on that flight, and I was successful. I got there that same day and I felt really good about that because I was freaking out. I didn't know how bad the situation was. This fall, this hip-breaking fall had highlighted how precarious things were there, but also had highlighted the other relatives bones broken in their neck and some paralysis happening, and that they'd kind of been ignoring and, and playing down until I got my eyes on them. So like everything else fell by the wayside. Recognizing what was happening, figuring it out, navigating it, which is, is all fodder for a different show. I was coming home for the first time and you know, in those three weeks I had laundered and worn the same clothes over and over. I had packed a pair of jeans. I'd worn the leggings I'd had on when I got the text about the fall, and I had grabbed a pair of workout leggings So those were my three pairs of pants. I had a couple different shirts plus a t-shirt to wear to the gym and a jacket. At some point I'd gone to a grocery store and I'd seen a clearance basket, you know, in the freezer aisle that had, some leggings. So, for 3 $3.99, I'd bought some grocery store leggings, so I'd have a fourth pair of pants to wear on laundry day. And I hadn't brought enough socks and I didn't wanna have to do laundry that often. I just bought cheap, low profile socks, and cheap leggings, and. Those socks were useless. They didn't stay up at all. And so I'd thrown them aside. I'm telling you this because they become important soon. So on the day I'm flying home, my period starts, which was crazy cause I hadn't had a period since January, and so this was about four months. and I had nothing with me. Now, I'd learned my lesson in January. I'd had a whole period experience that meant that I always travel...I I use always with an asterisk because always, except this one time I've been traveling with all the goods in case I have an unexpected period again. This perimenopause treat that we get. This time, of course, since I didn't bring anything at all, I didn't have anything, and because I was staying with family members who were in their seventies, THEY didn't have anything. And I was gonna go to the airport. I didn't have time to stop. I dug around in one of their guest bathrooms I found a single panty liner and I put it in and I thought, well, this period's kind of light. I'll probably be fine. I got to the airport and realized that no, I wasn't gonna be fine. So I went through security and actually going through security in, this small airport in New Hampshire. I don't know if this would happen anywhere else, but I've certainly never gotten this kind of service . As I went through, after I'd gone through the line, there was no one else there, I go through the metal detector and the guy is waving me through. And as I get closer to him, he's like, "You did a good job." So he complimented my going-through-the-metal- detector skills and I was very happy. I almost cried because it was the kindest word anyone had said to me, about anything I had done during this whole thing, frankly. So I was really glad that he was impressed with how I handed over the TSA PreCheck handout and how I'd kept my shoes on and kept my things in my bag and walked with such grace through the metal detector."You did a good job." So anyway, I get through, I bee lined for the bathroom. I had thrown those socks into my purse, the socks I told you about before. I'd thrown them in my purse as a backup just in case. I grab one of those socks outta my bag and I put it in my underwear and I'm thinking, Gosh, this has gotta work. It's only a one-hour flight. I'll be fine. I'll be fine. I come out of the stall and there's actually one of those machines. Of course there is! I don't know why I didn't think of this. I just wasn't thinking, Oh my gosh! Maybe I have a quarter in my bag! And so I'm hunting through my bag standing next to that machine. Not finding a quarter. And a lady comes in and she must have seen at my face and she said, "Hey, can I help you?" And I said, oh, I just was trying to find a quarter cause I need a tampon. And I, you know, and I started telling her the whole story. I've been here for three weeks. Like I'm sure she did not need that. I'm sure I must have looked Like, I just was shell shocked right after that period of time, and now I'm dealing with this. She says, "Oh my gosh!" She holds out her hand , "I just bought a bottle of water and I wasn't sure where I was gonna put this change." And she hands me the three quarters. I'm like, I only need one. She's like, "Well, just in case you need another one on your journey." And it felt like an angel. She felt like an angel sent into the bathroom to save me. So now I have real period protection. I, I buy a 25 cent tampon. I put it in and I go on my merry way. So that was a relatively uneventful trip. That was the biggest thing about that travel day. Fast forward to a week-and-a- half later when I get to go back for my next shift with the family because I have other family members rotating through with me. And now that we all knew what was going on and we had an idea of the schedule, we had divvied up the weeks and it was my turn to go back and my flight gates canceled. There are very important doctor's appointments. I have to get there. I have to get there. Plus the other relative had left that morning and we hadn't left our two newly minted invalids alone at this point. I am panicking because now instead of showing up six hours after he left, I don't know when I'm gonna get there. So I buy a flight on United that takes me through Newark . That flight's a little delayed. I get on that flight. We miss the connection, and they can't fly me to that little airport that I need to fly to. They have to fly me to Boston. I stay the night in Newark. I land in Boston the next day. They have lost my luggage. It's still in Newark. They're gonna have to deliver it later. I'm like, fine, fine. I just wanna get to them, right? I again, another airport bathroom. before I take the bus that's gonna take me to the airport where the car is that I need to drive to my family's home. I notice that water is leaking out of my bag. And I'm like, what is that? So I, you know, start pulling things outta my bag. I have two computers , among other things, a Kindle, all this other stuff, a microphone. I pull out my computer and it's soaked and it's the computer I do the podcast on. And so I just hope that it's gonna dry out. I'm saying little prayers to the computer gods . A couple days later, I realize I can't start my computer. I have to do an insurance claim to get it replaced. It takes days for me to do everything I need to do. This delays the podcast, right, delays me recording. It delays me figuring out that the internet there can't support a podcast. You know, in the scheme of things, these are small things. These are not very important. My computer and my podcast are not the top priority when all this stuff's going down, but for me, I have the pressure of needing to get my episode up. And even though I've packed really well this time, I'm still with no clothing. United contacts me to say they're gonna drop off the bag at three in the morning. So I go to bed. Nude cause I only have the clothes I'd traveled in , you know. At 1130 there's a false alarm. The dogs go crazy and it's not the guy delivering the bag. And I'd gotten a picture of the guy and he looked fine, but it was also a little bit like, ooh, do I want this guy coming to this house at three in the morning? So I'd send him a bunch of instructions that made it clear that he would be captured on a Ring camera. That we had dogs. Those kinds of things. You know, see he wasn't tempted to either not deliver the bag or sneak in and murder us all.At 2:
30 in the morning, the dogs go crazy again. I'm worried about the older people I'm taking care of in the house, I don't want the dogs to be waking them up and disturbing them. And I'm also without clothes, so I kind of throw this shirt on that I've been traveling in and I'm kind of trying to look at to the front door to see if he's really there, if the bag is there, and then see when he leaves. But the headlights are shining right in. So if he'd looked in the house, he would've seen me pantsless at the top of the stairs. From his angle, he would've seen whatever he wanted to see, me trying to see if he's the guy delivering the suitcase. So I kind of hide off in the shadows and watch. Then when I see headlights recede, I run down there like Winnie the Pooh with t-shirt on, no pants. Short shirt, you know, not even a long t-shirt. Get my very heavy suitcase. I don't want anyone in the house to try to move it in the next day. So I decide to take it upstairs with me. It's very heavy. The stairs are very steep. There's recently been installed one of those chairs... I dunno if you remember the movie Gremlins? One of those chairs you can ride up the stairs? I am trying, trying to drag...carry without making noise (so NOT drag) this very heavy suitcase up these stairs quietly with no pants on. I get near the top where the chair is. I don't know why they left it at the top like that. Realize I'm gonna have a hard time maneuvering around this chair that they ride up the stairs with this suitcase. I have a moment of realizing that I could fall, I could go stumbling. I mean, this would not help anybody if I now added to the injured people in the house. Fall down these stairs loudly, wake everyone up, and they would find me at the bottom of the stairs. So I'm in this moment of, I don't know which way to go. Do I backtrack? Cause that feels very precarious too. I can't really lift it up with my arm, so I, I don't know. I just imagine that I'm gonna be fine and I pull the suitcase up around this chair and I start to fall backwards. And, I kind of push the suitcase. It's so heavy. I push it forward and that's enough weight for me to then get back my balance enough to grab something else and get around that seat and not fall down the stairs.So this is 2:
30 in the morning. Of course, I had to regale everyone with a story the next day since I had lived. But there was a moment I thought, this is so stupid. Why didn't I just leave the suitcase downstairs or, or unpack it or, I don't know, middle-of-the-night nonsense, but at least I had pajamas now. So I gratefully opened my suitcase and put on my pajamas. A few days later, my mom and I are watching Law & Order Special Victims Unit. Women are being killed, they can't connect the women, blah, blah, blah. They suddenly figure out on the show who their suspect is, and their suspect is a guy who delivers lost suitcases for the airline. And this is why they hadn't been able to connect the victims. And his M.O., which is he showed up with the suitcase, Hey, wanna bring this in for you? This is kind of heavy. Where do you wanna put it? We were hysterical because I had joked about being worried about the guy who was dropping off my suitcase. And wanted to make sure he knew we had cameras because I thought, oh, we could come in the middle of the night. Anything could happen. Someone else already thought of that and done a Law & Order SVU about it. This serial killer and rapist targeting women who he had to deliver their lost luggage. Mm-hmm. Yesterday coming home. So again, travel day period starts this time, of course, I'm prepared. I have what I need. I am relieved to be leaving I'm eager to come and record this for you and put it up so that you knew what was going on. During this trip, w ith the ruined computer where I spilled water on it and the internet issues, it became apparent that I, I can't do this. I can't be up there and be maintaining my schedule. So I'm wrapping up the season. I'll share some bonuses, including some interviews I did in other people's shows. So there'll be some bonus episodes and I'll remain active on social and I'll be sharing clips. In fact, I probably will go back to the beginning and. share funny clips and different things from the episodes for the whole season. Almost like we're reposting them. This is the rerun season. And then you know what too? If I'm not having to do all of this while I am doing all that caregiving, I also can turn my attention back to my Sisterhood emails. I'm so sorry, Sisterhood people. If you're not. yet in the Sisterhood and in our email list, you can go to sisterhood.myaloofvagina.com and sign up. I don't show up in your inbox that often. Mainly cause I'm juggling everything else. But right now I might be able to share some more fun things. It has been so much fun for me to do show I wasn't sure if I was gonna do seasons, but now there seems to be natural pressure to take a break, reconfigure some things, connect with you a different way, and work on Season 2 in a way that isn't gonna add to the stress while I am doing this thing that 50-year-old women - s ometimes younger, sometimes older - often have to do, kind of that sandwich generation stuff. I thought I'd be spending this summer with my new grandbaby being a grandmother doing those kinds of things. But it seems like this summer and and beyond maybe spent filling this really vital role and I, I just hope that when I get to the age that I need support, that I have younger family members who are able to step in and support me too. I think of that when I'm doing it. And I also think about how I wanna work on maintaining my bone health, maintaining my muscle tone, and doing what I can to make myself less frail as I age. And so Season 2 will be very focused on those kinds of things as well as the usual afflictions and things that we're dealing with. So during this rerun season, you can feel free to listen again. Hopefully there'll be enough bonuses to keep you entertained, But I would love for you to plug in and get the Sisterhood emails and stay in touch and let me know what things you wanna hear about. What are you dealing with in perimenopause that you don't feel is being addressed in a fun way? What are you hearing about that's scaring you and you wanna learn about it, but you also wanna make sure that you don't feel alone, don't feel like people are using scare tactics to sell you something. And what other stories would you like to hear, or what stories do you have to share? What other people in the perimenopause space would you like to hear from? Maybe someone you've never heard interviewed before, or maybe someone who you think is hilarious and fun and will be the right fit for the show. I feel like this little summer rerun break may provide the breathing room for me to pursue some of those guests and some of those topics for you. I really appreciate your attention and I appreciate that you listen to this show, that you help me feel so welcome and that it has helped you and that you've shared how much it's helped you. That makes my day! And that's what I think about when I'm fighting with internet in rural New England And trying to juggle that with all the doctor's appointments and things that I am focused on right now. Thank you for listening. Until next time. Take care of yourself and take care of your vagina.