Putting the week on pause for a health challenge (in this case a transient ischemic attack), however briefly, can be a powerful reminder of mortality, and the preciousness of my brief mortal life time. There’s a small hole in my Wednesday, from sometime after 1 pm until sometime around 4 pm, but I remember the head ache, and I’ve had them before, although this one was possibly the worst one.

There's a lot of ground to cover on this journey.

There’s a lot of ground to cover on this journey.

In the past I’d have spent many of the upcoming days pissed off, freaked out, and struggling with additional stress over ‘where will new damage be?’, more than ‘is there any damage?’, or just taking care of me quietly, gently, and without much fuss. I have grown, perhaps. There may or may not be ‘new damage’; it’s not relevant to taking care of me in this moment, and that is the priority for now. For now, I am making a point of stepping back from stressors, taking exceptional care of my health, gently re-committing myself to my fitness goals (particularly those around losing some weight – it’s not helping me right now to carry ‘extra pounds’), staying the course on healthy calories and managing my blood sugar on fewer of those. It is critically important that I get adequate rest, manage medication carefully, and watch my blood pressure. It is equally important that I allow myself awareness that I am okay right now, and give myself a chance to feel the relief (still here! still conscious!), and gratitude that go along with ‘thank goodness I didn’t have an actual stroke’.

My traveling partner is ‘there for me’ in so many small ways. He provides comfort and nurturing care when my health is an issue, going beyond any expectation to do simple things that he knows will be of value – like seeing me suddenly struggle to find a word I commonly use with fair frequency, noticing the panic and embarrassment on my face, and imminent tears (frustration being my kryptonite), he takes the science-based steps of providing some hints (without being mocking or discourteous), and gives me time to find the word, and once found reminds me to restate the sentence with the now-found word in it. He ensures it doesn’t become a big deal, and doesn’t tease me, or belittle me; he knows the value of words, and how tender a human heart can really be. He is patient with me. Sometimes more patient than seems reasonable. It’s a small thing, and it matters. Bigger things too, he reminds me to take these things seriously, to get medical care, to document new issues – I forget without help sometimes; it is the remnant of other damage, and he is skilled at slipping reminders into the context of conversations so that it does not feel like ‘parenting’ or in any way diminishing.

When it feels like it's all stairs, it's nice to have someone sharing the journey.

When it feels like it’s all stairs, it’s nice to have someone sharing the journey.

I feel very fortunate to have a partner on life’s journey who is so well-prepared a traveler. We’ve figured out a number of these practices together on the way – a good practice in itself since we’re each having our own experience. Love benefits from explicit boundary setting, explicit statement of limitations, frank discussion of fears, needs, doubts – and what makes it all feel better. Leaving love to guess at who I am and what I might need or benefit from has destroyed a number of potentially promising past relationships – I don’t do that now. (Well, not by intent, but sometimes by oversight – here, too, mindful awareness of self matters a great deal.)

Why yes, thank you, I shall.

Why yes, thank you, I shall.

I am okay. The week ends on a comfortable note, and the weekend ahead has some fun planned, and a bit of work – I get to brunch with a dear friend, and move the A/C into storage. I will window shop in a neighborhood I enjoy. I will take care of me. It’s a good weekend for it, and it will be enough.