Archives for category: health

I woke during the night with an unsteady tummy. I took steps to be prepared for being sick if things were to turn for the worse; I left the light on in the hall bathroom and a hair tie on the counter. It’s not the closest bathroom of the two in this place, but it is bigger, and more suited somehow to being ill. It’s near enough. Easy to get to, too. So. I was prepared, and I went to back sleep.

I woke sometime shortly past day break. 6:30-ish. I slept in. 😀 Well… that’s my idea of sleeping in. I’m usually up by 4:30 am. I woke to a tidy home, a clean kitchen, and a smile on my face. Nice. There are a few things to do today, to face the short work week ready to travel: some tidying up, laundry, vacuuming, empty the dishwasher of clean dishes… basic household care. It’s a good day for it. I feel rested. The gray featureless sky doesn’t tempt me to the trail – or to the studio. I have brunch plans, and a partially read book. Brunch and housework sounds like a fine when to spend the day, and winding things down with a quiet evening reading sounds lovely, too.

As I sip my coffee, first one brunch friend, then another, lets me know they can’t make it today. I hear from my Traveling Partner as we cross paths in the digital world, as I wake up, and he winds down from a long night. By the time I finish my coffee, brunch “with…” has become “brunch solo?”. I barely register any disappointment – and perhaps this sets me apart from some sorts of people; I genuinely value and enjoy time spent with myself (particularly now that I’ve learned to treat myself well, generally).

I pause for a moment to consider, seemingly rather randomly, that “genuinely” and “generally” positioned so close to each other in a sentence seem a tad repetitive, even though they are totally different words. Then I find cause to be irked with the frequency of -ly endings. I notice my coffee is finished. I feel irked by that and slightly irritable. I take a deep breath, relax, and allow myself to recognize that I am, actually, a bit disappointed about brunch falling through. Acknowledging the feeling, however fleeting, prevents it from becoming festering discontent. The moment needed nothing more than awareness, respect, and acknowledgement, and the feeling dissipates. Emotions are funny that way. Fight them, they fight back. Embrace them, feed them, they deepen, and sometimes take over. Resist them completely, they flare up in the background, influencing our experience of other circumstances in sometimes subtle ways, and altering our understanding of other moments. Acknowledge them with awareness, respecting the experience without fueling the fire, and they become a sign post on a journey, a reminder, and a moment observed; that tends to be what I’m going for these days.

I find myself still a bit irritable, and not finding anything in my immediate environment or experience to explain that, I pause my writing and do a quick “self inventory”. I take a moment to simply breathe and feel my feelings, both those of my physical experience (sensations) and those of my cognitive experience (emotions). Emotionally, I feel pretty at ease, and content. Physically, I find myself having to take note of a substantial amount of fairly ordinary arthritis pain in my thoracic spine. Well shit. Okay. That’d be enough to feel sort of grumpy and out of sorts “for no reason” – only, there’s clearly quite an obvious reason to it, once I am aware of it. Awareness is such an amazing tool! I continue checking in with myself, and notice that in spite of the arthritis pain, no headache. Hey, that’s pretty nice. Uncommon these days. I enjoy that experience, and allow myself to sit with the awareness of “no headache” awhile, while I decide on the morning, and what to do about the pain.

I think over the day ahead. I’ve got what I need, generally speaking. Maybe a bite of brunch and a stop for art supplies somewhere? I head to a search tab to look up my options…

It’s a great day to begin again. 😀

I found myself having a tense moment yesterday. It could have gone very wrong. I caught myself on the edge of making a point very clear that would not benefit from being over-stated, and the circumstances themselves had done enough. I took a breath. Another. I relaxed as I exhaled. The moment passed. It’s not the answer to every challenge. It’s not the solution to all the problems. It doesn’t answer every question. It also definitely doesn’t hurt anything to take a moment – and a breath – before moving on with things. 🙂

I got home fairly tired yesterday. My headache was aggravating. I did what I could to ease it. I finally just gave up and went to bed early, hoping that a few minutes of quiet meditation in dim light would put things right enough that I could sleep. I definitely slept, so I must have been tired. I woke 9 hours later, seconds ahead of the alarm going off, feeling rested – and for the moment, headache free.

Having been told with some firmness and plenty of diagnostic data that this headache is likely neurological in origin, I am treating it as something I can resolve – given the right practice(s). So, I deal with it, right now, as with any trying circumstance or condition. First – and it’s a powerful tool – I pay real attention to moments that are headache free. I take deliberate notice. I am observant, and aware, and make room in my consciousness to appreciate the lack of that headache, on the chance that over time, the experience of the headache may have grown to fill my awareness, simply by focusing on it too much. It’s not a cure, but sure enough, moments that are entirely headache-free do apparently still exist in my experience day-to-day. There’s a chance that focusing on those moments, versus the ones with the headache, may hold the potential to grow them larger in my implicit awareness, over time. So, this morning, I am enjoying my coffee, and the awareness that my headache isn’t there, right now. 🙂 If nothing else, why the hell would I not take a moment to appreciate not having a headache?

Our implicit biases are powerful things. They handle a lot of our day-to-day, moment-to-moment decision-making, and we don’t even notice that we’re on auto-pilot. Everything from that suspicious stranger, to the specific foods we don’t eat, and all manner of other things we react to immediately with a sense of certainty, without having paused to consider anything at all, is part of that system of implicit biases that exists in our “programming”. Those things aren’t “real” – it’s not actually a fact, or any sort of certainty, that lima beans are gross. I just don’t happen to like lima beans. Actually, let’s be clear, I have learned to insist that I don’t like lima beans without having put a lima bean into my mouth in… more than 40 years, for sure. I can say I don’t like them, and maybe that’s actually true, but… I was so firm on not liking them so early in life, and have held on to that understanding of myself for so long, that it has become an implicit defining truth of myself that entirely lacks any basis in fact. At all. Seriously? How the fuck do I even know if I do or don’t like lima beans? That’s sort of my point. I actually don’t. Clearly, I’ve got some bias against the idea of lima beans – but that should hardly be the basis of my decision-making without some sort of legitimate validation. Otherwise? It’s just a bias. It’s not truly a preference – how the fuck do I even know? I simply don’t. I’m just saying words, and holding on to some construct in my personal narrative that lacks basis in fact. People do it all the time. Doing it with one’s food preferences is fairly harmless, but it’s not a great cognitive habit, generally.

Test your assumptions. Fact-check what you are certain of. Explicitly confirm expectations. Take your life and your consciousness off auto-pilot. You may discover a world of flavors (and experiences) that you would otherwise miss entirely. You may lighten the burden weighing down your heart. Yes, of course, there are verbs involved. Your results may vary. You may find yourself hurting in moments that you’d previously be so certain were full of wonder. Disillusionment can be an awkward sometimes painful process – and it can set you free.

I begin the day feeling well-loved, well-rested, and ready to begin again. I’m curiously eager to try lima beans (nothing like a good metaphor to kick off personal growth). lol I wonder where the day will take me?

Nothing like spending 8 hours of precious limited lifetime in the freakin’ ER to remind me how much I enjoy doing just about anything else. LOL

I’m okay. Just middle-aged. 😉

I resented the request to go to the ER, in the first place. I negotiated with my primary care physician like I was making a deal with the devil, when I finally spoke to her. I made work more important than my health and went in to the office yesterday still dealing with the ferocious headache that continues to plague me. The nurse in Neurology finally reached me directly yesterday mid-morning, and was fairly firm about seeing me immediately if possible. Damn it. I interrupted a productive work day figuring I’d go/come back, no problem…

8 hours, 2 blood draws, 2 IV insertions (1 failed), and 3 separate CT scans later… we ruled out most of the scariest stuff for adults in my age group worried about a headache. We’ve narrowed it down to… a headache. <sigh> No, for real? Back to Neurology. I can’t be mad. I got some first-rate care (and one failed attempt at an IV insertion that was both painful, and hurt like fire when imaging attempted to make use of it), and a chance to enjoy “Hospital ER” as a sort of live-action drama with all the pettiness human beings can bring to bear, as I quietly eavesdropped the conversations from the tiny treatment room I spent most of my time in.

Luck of the draw – I got a really good young doctor in residency. Because he’s a psychiatric resident, he “got me” on an entirely other level, and was able to do more to support me as a patient. The noise and lights and aggressively purposeful busy-ness of the ER aggravated other symptoms a lot (a lot), and that could have been a distraction for an MD who didn’t fully understand what seeing a c-PTSD diagnosis in my charts could mean. This one did. I wish he would be my full-time primary care doctor! By the time he actually saw me I was literally in tears from the noise; he took steps to ease it, first thing (ear plugs, a closed door, another closed door). Suddenly the experience was so much easier. I gotta say, hospital ERs are not actually designed to “heal” people as much as “repair” them. The noise, the actual moment-to-moment callousness (seriously, just watch, you’ll see it) of being entirely practical and attempting to be efficient, too, while serving as many customers as possible as quickly as feasible. The bright lights and infernal beeping of machinery and grinding or sliding of automatic doors. The repetitive nature of all of it just hammers at my consciousness – no stillness. Even the waiting is noisy. Nothing soothing. And for a place of healing? Holy crap they are going at such a breakneck pace that simple self-care stuff is entirely overlooked. They keep people there for hours and hours without calories or drinking water. lol Fuuuuuuck. Hospital ERs are no place for the ill.

Today is a whole new day. I’m definitely ready to begin again. LOL

 

“Be well.” I say it as often as I say “good-bye”. I like it better. I’m just saying “take care of you while we are apart”. It implies you have a choice about your wellness (maybe many). Don’t you?

I’m not shaming you if you’re not “well”. It’s a struggle. There are choices. There are also verbs. There are also circumstances beyond our ken and beyond our control. I’m wishing you well on the journey, is all. It’s less a command that you must perform to some standard set by someone else, and more a simple benediction that you experience good fortune on a difficult path. So… there’s that. lol

I’m sipping coffee and feeling peculiarly fortunate in spite of the twists and turns on this strange journey that is one lifetime. Most of my needs are mostly well met. My health is fair – and what’s amiss is more endurable than not, generally. I am surrounded by love, valued, appreciated… there’s no over-stating how precious and wonderful that can be. I am fortunate, indeed. I am grateful.

This morning I am taking time to appreciate what works. Not thinking too much about what doesn’t. Definitely giving no mind to what hasn’t. I am thinking about Love, friends, music, starry nights, tender kisses, dewy summer mornings… I am filling my awareness with beautiful details of “now”, too. The way the dim early morning lighting seems to make the paperweights on the mantle piece glow with inner light. The smoothness of my coffee. Even the relentless “shhhhh shhhhh” of early morning traffic passing by has a certain gentleness this morning. A lovely, soft, almost magical morning…

I sneeze. The spell is broken in a rather dramatically practical way.

It’s time to begin again. 🙂

Yesterday sorted of slipped past me. Spring. 🙂 I woke from a deeply restful night’s sleep, yesterday, slowly, gently, a day fully planned for hanging out with a friend and going out later. When I stood the headache just flattened me. I intended to take things easy, what with the headache, followed by a bit of dizziness and nausea, but shortly found myself… wandering around the house… kind of randomly and without purpose.

I honestly wasn’t sure what was up with me beyond the headache. I cancelled hang out plans first thing in favor of self-care.

…I didn’t make coffee. I have no idea why, but I just… didn’t. I got in the car, barely awake, and drove down the street to an excellent cafe (the storefront of a local coffee roaster I enjoy) and got coffee. I committed firmly to heading home…and spent 90 minutes driving around the countryside drinking coffee. It was a weird morning, lacking in stress – or purpose.

I found my way home, and sat awhile on my meditation cushion in the open patio doorway, listening the rain fall, and feeling the spring breezes. Definitely spring; there are signs of greenery, like a fine mist, all over the deciduous trees, and the roses are leafing out in shades of bright green and russet (the reddest of my roses always seem to have the deepest red new leaves and shoots, where the yellow, pink, or peach ones are often very bright light green shades). I watched squirrels play. I watched birds hop about. I definitely wanted to be in the garden.

As soon as I stood to head into the garden, my headache reminded me why I was taking it so easy. Then my eye reminded me that I would not be easily able to do the things I wanted to do in the container garden on the deck without a visit to the nursery or garden supply place nearby… and I hadn’t actually visited those last autumn after moving in. I happily got back in the car and drove around checking out the nearest garden suppliers, finding one that feels most “like my sort”, and spending quite a long while exploring there. I stopped for Turkish coffee along the way. I came home with soil and a handful of seeds. Yep. I could have gone just about anywhere for the things I actually returned home with. LOL

One lovely moment from a lovely day.

It was a weird day with the woman in the mirror.

Spring is here.

I spent the afternoon in the garden, and finished up out there aware that I was still headaching on this whole other “maybe you really need to take it easy” level when I careened into the door jamb clumsily. Okay, okay, so… maybe a night out on St Patrick’s Day to see a great band play in a local bar returning home further fatigued and faced with night driving would not be an ideal choice? I canceled those plans, too. I felt content with the decision-making, and unconcerned with the weirdness.

Later, I roasted a chicken on the smoker-grill on the patio; it sits under the eaves, just out of the rain, and the smell of it was wonderful. Cold chicken salad tonight – which also sounds quite nice.

It was a lovely Saturday, headache and all. I’m content to have enjoyed it, making the most of the day without regard to that headache, which, honestly, completely sucked all day long. I just really don’t want to waste more days on pain than I have to… I’m not sure how many I get, you know? 😉

Today, brunch with a friend, and a visit to a favorite market. The headache, for now, has eased somewhat. It’s a lovely morning to begin again.