Archives for posts with tag: what’s up Doc?

This is a busy week. Doctor’s appointments, work, life, errands, decisions, choices, practices – and love – it’s a very busy week, indeed. Some of my appointments will bring me face to face with long-time concerns, some will require emotional presence – and emotional work. Work and life and errands and all the things that feel urgent or important or necessary may result in some stress to be managed. The love will be there, in background supporting me, in the foreground as something to be nurtured and invested in with good choices, consideration, and some verbs. I am a bit pre-occupied, particularly with the doctor’s appointments, and while I am hopeful that results may lead to quality of life improvements and a reduction in day-to-day pain… I don’t know what the outcome will be, really. I have questions.

I have rather a lot of questions. Maybe this queuing up of questions is more to do with any perceived feeling of being busy than all the things I am feeling busy with? Today seems a good day to ask questions. I can get on with answering them another time…any time. Some of them may not need answers at all – funny how some of the questions we ask work that way.

I list a bunch of questions. I mean seriously – a lot. Then I realize it really comes down to just a handful of questions that mostly cover it all.

What do I really want out of life from this perspective? Am I making the choices I need to in order to head in that direction? Am I willing to make different choices, or take greater risks? Do I have a good understanding of what my choices really are, and what the outcomes may be? Have I considered how each possible choice affects other areas of life – and people who matter most to me?

Walking my own path, one step at a time.

Walking my own path, one step at a time.

I “come up for air”, returning to this present moment, reminded how very ‘now’ life really is, as I consider questions that look forward. I missed two important [for me] questions…

What is enough?

Am I okay right now?

Isn't it enough to find balance?

Isn’t it enough to find balance?

Today is more about questions than answers. I am okay right now. Answering the others needn’t be rushed.



…Or at least with this ringing in my ears that is always with me. I woke with a wicked headache this morning. It creeps up through my arthritic vertebrae to the base of my skull, and the ringing in my ears seems both louder, and more distinctive; it’s actually several tones, frequencies, and noises, and it differs left and right. lol. This morning, the headache being what it is, I am listening to the ringing in my ears; the sound of my fingers on the keyboard serves reasonably well as percussion. I can’t change it, I may as well….something.

My coffee is good, and hot. I slept badly and it meets a need this morning, more than suiting an aesthetic of mornings in general. No nightmares, I just struggled to fall asleep, slept restlessly, woke often, and just didn’t rack up enough hours of rest. My traveling partner has expressed concern that I am pushing myself to hard at work. It’s a fair concern; I am. It’s a thing I do, and I frame it up as ‘playing to my strengths’ but I am aware I need to ease up and treat myself as a human being, and consider other needs, my own needs, too. Work kept my mind busy last night, and I did not rest well. That’s enough of that; it has to stop.

Right at the moment, from the perspective of the delicate new day, still unfolding, all potential nothing yet actual, today has a lot to offer. I hope it lives up to its potential.

Utterly unrelated to this moment and its beauty, right here, I’ll pause to observe that I continue to be concerned about the increase in spelling mistakes and difficulty finding the right word since my TIAs (transient ischemic attack) at the end of July. Painfully obvious to me, actually, and concerning way beyond vanity; this is my health, my life, and I exist in a fairly fragile vessel of flesh and mortality. I haven’t had another since mid-August, and it was ‘just’ those three… doesn’t stop me wondering what caused them, why now, or will I be okay. Especially on days with other headaches. I want to be around a good long time…I’d like to see 2083.

I take much better care of my  health these days. Doing so doesn’t take away the pain of earlier misadventure, or later aging, but it sure helps me maintain vitality and fitness well beyond what I’d manage otherwise. The meditation helps soothe me, builds emotional resilience, and teaches me balance and perspective; great for my blood pressure. The yoga helps me maintain a healthier weight, good flexibility, bone and joint health, and keeps my arthritic joints moving; great for reducing my pain, and building my fitness level for more, other, activities. I take a good multi-vitamin, and the supplements my doctor says I need, individually, based on testing, to maintain good health on a another level, and I manage my calories. I try to get enough sleep to really rest each night and wake refreshed each morning. I walk 5 miles a day, pretty nearly every day, sometimes more. Every small choice I make to take care of me adds up to a better experience of being who I am. I’ve gotten here one practice, one choice, at a time; it would have utterly overwhelmed me to try to tackle it all in one list of resolutions or commitments to myself. Being patient with myself, showing myself compassion, has been huge for reaching some of these goals; there’ve been many missteps along the way. I often learn best through my mistakes (like finding out some months ago what a weekend of eating sweets will do to my mood and temper after months of eschewing sugars!).

I’m just writing. Making observations. It’s a moment. I have a headache. I’ll call this one ‘doing my best’ this morning and find myself content with it.

Today is a good day to treat myself with compassion and take care of me. Today is a good day to be practical and real about pain – and pain management. Today is a good day to recognize we’ve all got our hurts, our own situation to face, our own individual personalized baggage, and we’re all in this together. Today is a good day to smile and understand that physical pain doesn’t have to be an impediment to happiness. Today is a good day to change the world.

Change is okay; it's not as if I can do anything to stop it. :-)

Change is okay; it’s not as if I can do anything to stop it. 🙂

I woke at 1:37 am to a loud bang. I returned to sleep. I woke again at 4:21 am for no reason that was obvious, and went back to sleep again. When I woke to the alarm, it was a bit as if I was never sleeping. My brain seemed pretty busy from about 1:37 am on until the morning alarm. Mostly playing mc chris’ “Tarantino” on repeat in the background of my consciousness. What’s that about? My back aches with the ‘everyday pain’ of arthritis. Yoga is difficult this morning. Sitting with good posture is difficult.

My coffee is neither creamy nor sweet.

This morning these are simply my experience, my observations. I feel pretty positive and basically ‘okay’ as an emotional being. It’s a nice change from Wednesday.

Wednesday, a bit like this.

Wednesday, a bit like this.

Yesterday wasn’t bad at all. It started well, ended comfortably, and aside from a distinct lack of physical comfort in my experience, the day proceeded well between the beginning and end.  Yesterday’s high points? Love, and roses.

"Baby Love" rose [Scrivens, 1992] first to bloom in my garden this year.

“Baby Love” rose [Scrivens, 1992] first to bloom in my garden this year.

My very human experience has its ups and downs. This morning is still so new there’s no knowing. I meditate, sip coffee, study, do yoga, and prepare to face the world. I feel, for the moment, content and complete, in spite of my arthritis, in spite of pain, in spite of the headache, the bitterness of my coffee, or the slightly sick feeling of mornings. A little later than now, I’ll leave for work, probably have to remind myself to grab my cane before I go; it is an encumbrance as much as a help, and like I child I tend to abandon it anywhere I happen to sit down, if I happen to stand up with ease when I return to movement. lol

In spite of pain, and the unsteadiness of my knees lately, I still walk as much as I can. I’m still getting in about 5 miles a day, about 3 of that is commute, spread out over the morning and evening, and 2 miles for a walk midday. If I ‘give my knees a rest’ and allow myself to succumb to the illusion that not using them will somehow put things right, I put myself at risk of gaining weight, pretty much immediately. I keep walking every day I can put weight on my knees and ankles at all. (I’m heavier than I’d like to be, and very much aware of the toll that is taking on my knees and ankles. Stabilizing my weight below 200 lbs is within reach, and I’ll be very happy to hit that benchmark.)

Still, the pain is what it is, and it is part of my experience. As much as I look forward to the beauty of spring, and a lovely walk on a nice day, there’s a bit of a ‘Little Mermaid” element to it; every step may be painful. Growth has often felt that way to me; every step painful, journey and destination worth the difficulty.

Pain is a shared experience. Most people have some. It’s odd to be in a group of people and observe that one person commenting on their experience of pain or discomfort tends to launch a round of compare/contrast statements, with some one-up-man-ship thrown in for flavor. I try to stay out of those, and regret it when I launch one. Few things result in feeling less heard about hurting than everyone else chiming in about how much they also hurt. Everyone wants to feel heard about pain.  I’m not sure anyone ever does.  Our own pain is so visceral. The pain of others tends to be far less so.  I have been working on compassion first, sympathy, understanding – hearing that this human being speaking to me is hurting, and recognizing their experience, without sharing mine, even out of sympathy. (Allowing them to have their experience, feel nurtured and supported, and not diminished by my experience, or denied the opportunity to be individual. ) I don’t know that it does or does not ‘work’ any better than countering every tale of discomfort with one of my own, but it seems likely to be less annoying or dismissive.

It’s Friday. Looks like a quiet solo evening on the calendar. I find myself hesitant to be at all excited about it. I’d rather not become invested in the outcome and have to deal with disappointment if life throws some changes in the mix. I’m eager to spend some time on my writing and dive deeply into meditation without a timer, clock, or deadline on the other side.  It’d be nice to look forward to doing that pain-free, but that’s unrealistic these days, so I don’t bother about the pain until it speaks up with enough force to be a real game-changer.

Friday. Black coffee. A backache. Spring flowers. A quiet morning. This is not only ‘not bad’ – it’s actually pretty good.

Yesterday was a weird hodge-podge of ups and downs, and challenges and small victories. My physician recommended some changes in my health medication; changes in medication are always complicated and a bit agonizing for me. It’s that the changes themselves are difficult to adjust to. I sure never really contemplated the psychological/emotional effects of everyday health medications – even the OTC stuff often has effects that just aren’t detailed in the literature in any efficient way. So… some emotional ups and downs, and a fairly chronic feeling that ‘something’s off’, on top of headaches, panic attacks, blue moments of nearly suicidal intensity, negative ideations with such power I find it hard to be at all certain my life has meaning or value, or that I have any real worth as a being. It’s pretty horrible.

I will be okay, though – I’m a few days into now, and it’s getting better. I’ve learned more about accepting that some of my experience may not be tied to the part of reality I expect it to be – like the blue moods being part of the medication change, rather than part of anything truly emotional going on.

I haven’t named names – what is this mystery chemical, so readily available, so problematic? Well, see, here’s the thing – you are a different human being. Your issues are not mine, and vice versa. Could be one or another OTC drug does sit well with you – maybe you prefer Tylenol to Ibuprofen, for instance, but ‘don’t really know why’ – could be a preference, marketing, bias, or it could be that you feel differently on one over the other. Most people feel safe enough that the OTC drugs available to them are ‘safe enough’. 🙂  Why rock that boat? I’m not a doctor. I’m just saying, my own experience personally, is that some of the OTC drugs commonly available don’t treat me well – and worse to go off of, than to take.

Anyway… today does feel better. I feel better. 🙂 It isn’t always sunny days on this journey; it is, however, Friday. Maybe I’ll sleep in tomorrow?

Appropriately, this one is all words. lol

I often ‘don’t feel heard’.  A gripe about me I’ve been hearing a long time, and a source frustration and suffering for me, has been that I ‘talk too much’ or too fast, or use too many words, or don’t pause to breathe, or give the other guy a chance… if you’ve met me, you’re likely among that good company of people frustrated trying to get a word in edgewise. I’m not bragging. I work on this – a lot – trying to train my brain to recognize and honor the subtle cues that someone I am talking to has something they would like to add to the conversation. I try to build the awareness to support the will to give someone else a chance to talk.  It’s not an area of strength for me, and is associated with the also incredibly poor social habit of interrupting people. There. I said it. I talk too much, for too long, and I interrupt people to do it.

It is interesting how rarely a woman will call me on it. They usually coast, conversationally, and use whatever white-space there is left when I do have to breathe, or finally finish a thought. The men in my life pretty reliably voice their frustration, irritation, or anger with my issue. It comes to me as feedback that I talk too much, or that I use too many words, or that I ‘never give someone else a chance to say something’, or that I deliver too many points without time for responses… it all comes down to – wait for it – they don’t feel heard, themselves, because I am ‘always’ talking.  I don’t feel heard = me talking = they don’t get to talk = they don’t feel heard.  This sucks for everyone.

Another point of interest along this particular scenic route is the behavior if I happen to be silent. Because I do stop talking, and that comes up with fair frequency. What happens when I am silent? Concern. Why am I not talking? What am I thinking? Am I okay? It’s rare for me to be able to sit quietly, unprompted for words, even by people who express a nearly desperate desire for me to stop talking.  I find that bit very frustrating, myself. It doesn’t appear to be different for women or men. I apparently talk so nearly continuously that it is a cause for concern to others when I am not talking. (I am not actually aware of myself talking that much of the time.)

Yesterday, and unsurprisingly, but also unexpectedly, my therapist joined the phalanxes of men in my life who have found it necessary to communicate that I talk too much. He was also by far the most cautious and gentle about it, leading me to my own conclusions without hurting my feelings or resulting in my feeling that what I have to say lacks value. He used a metaphor. I love metaphors. His was that of dancers. His observation was that although he very much wanted to ‘dance with me’ he felt he was more audience to my dancing, some days.  It was a good metaphor and he got through to me that the shared experience of conversation is collaborative, and participatory.  He also got through to me that men are not having that experience with me, and do want it.

SO… it isn’t just that I need to be sure to take time to breathe, or stick to one thought, or keep my words brief, or any of a dozen other tiny details I’ve tried for so long to ‘fix’. I get it. It’s about inclusion, and sharing the experience. It is more than a little embarrassing to be so painfully aware that for all these years I wasn’t actually understanding what was being requested.

I’ve had this general experience before. Coached, or criticized, over some larger process/task to the point of chronic frustration, tears or anxiety, and still unsuccessful at ‘doing it right’ – and finding out much later than there is a key underlying principle that I didn’t understand, or hadn’t learned, that suddenly makes it so much simpler.

This morning I don’t start the day bitter than one more man has told me I talk too much. Instead, today I start my day with a better approach to conversation, and a better understanding of how to be considerate, and respectful of others, how to support people more comfortably in dialogue, and even feel I understand being compassionate, sharing, and connecting and building intimacy, better than I did yesterday.  🙂

Today is a good day to ask a clarify question and wait for the entire answer. Today is a good day to smile, and let the other guy talk for a few minutes. Today is a good day to listen with my entire attention on the person talking. Today is a good day to enjoy dancing.  Today is a good day to change the world.