Most mornings when I awaken, I wonder where the energy will emerge to face the coming day. I know it will. It’s often difficult to see the tomorrows when today I am so fatigued but I have lived long enough to know, see them or not, they will come. Not only is today inevitable but so is tomorrow so ready or not, here it comes; barbs, thorns, pain and a glorious sky full of sun, clouds and beauty.
I love the way life has of renewing us if we just keep moving forward and believe in the joyful prospects of life. I have a few tools I find helpful as another tomorrow approaches. Who am I kidding? I have far more than a few. I can’t possibly talk about them all right now because there isn’t enough space and I also have had a rough week. I spent three days in the hospital with a bowel obstruction and a bladder infection.
How I got there and why I had to be hospitalized is a bit complex but basically was a result of a bad belly, too much scorching heat, a few days previously, wretched for a person allergic to the sun and a pain filled five hours in the car with the bumping around while the sun shone in. I had appointments with three doctors, appointments that had been made months previously and had to be kept. As fate would have it, it was the hottest day for that date in the history of Portland, Oregon where my doctors are located. Sjogren’s Syndrome is a difficult disease to live with as you basically are dry all over, even the gut. When you add sacroiliitis, two crushed vertebra and multiple bad joints well…it felt like the Bermuda Triangle for my body. I must also add it was particularly stressful at the hospital to realize our local hospital is now using hospitalists for all inpatients and I couldn’t even see my own doctor. How can one doctor see and really knowledgably treat a whole medical unit of strangers and also treat patients in the ICU? That part of my stay was ugly but the nursing care was good.
As I face recovery, I am trying to decide what to do to avoid this event in the future and the best way to recover. Although I do have metastatic breast cancer, it is not a daily problem for me. Let’s just say it is not the dog that’s barking the loudest in my life, although I know one day it might do me in. I can only take my treatment for it and pray I am able to defeat it or keep it fenced in. Please allow me to share these ideas with you I will be practicing this week particularly as I recover from this current jolt.
1. I will discover my own mixture of rest and activity. I can’t rest all the time or I would stink from body odor, turn into an obese, no muscles blob of flesh and run out of food. The personal hygiene issues, well, they’re just too disgusting to talk about. I’ll do the best I can. I have the projects and demands of daily life dragging me forward and that doesn’t have to be a bad thing. That trip to the market can be mixed with exercise to strengthen my aching body but this week, my husband will keep up with that for us. Normally, I like to park a bit further from the entrance for the exercise. I normally tell the checker to keep them light. It’s a concept that isn’t always understood I’m afraid. When my hubby is with me, weight of the shopping bag is of no importance. The man thinks he is Hercules. I realize I am blessed to have such a kind man in my life and try to recall that when the whole Mars and Venus “thing” occurs. I realize I have to keep my sense of humor when I ask my kind husband to bring home beets so I can make borscht, one of my favorite soups and he comes home with two cans of pickled beets. Hmm? Let’s see? Pickled soup. Sounds like something out of Harry Potter?
2. I will set aside some time each day to do something I love. The choices are extensive and always rewarding. Tonight, my little Yorkie, George and I spent some time in the twilight doing what we love to do on the front porch. For him that’s barking at any object that moves into his line of vision within a three block radius. For me, it was watering, fertilizing and dead-heading all of my beautiful flowers in pots on the porch of our lovely but decrepit Victorian. It doesn’t really matter if I’m good at whatever I choose to do or not; it’s the act of doing that holds the joy. Every day I must find something. Writing, reading, keeping up with friends online or off and watching a good film. This week I’ve had to veg out more than usual and have been re-watching the British series, CALL THE MIDWIFE. I love that show. We have built up a vast collection of films over the years and both of us enjoy them.
3. I will try to banish worry this week. This is a most difficult one, I know, but worry doesn’t change the situation, it only changes you and I. It saps my strength, raises my blood pressure, causes me to secrete an unhealthy level of stomach acid and robs my life of valuable time. No great feat of accomplishment was ever attained by worry and fear. No great art work was ever painted by fear. No great love match was ever united and fulfilled by fear. Worry and guilt are the two most useless emotions we each carry and like tiny germs, waiting to multiply; they should remain in their place.
I try to look at that which I fear with a cool head and clear thoughts. I think, “What can I do about it,” then, do it. I will really try hard to be logical and not obsess about it. I have often found worry moves into my mind and fills my waking hours with its dominant thoughts. I must put it aside and entrust every small and large, positive and negative aspect of my life to a higher power. I just shove it out of my mind and get busy with something else in order to banish it. I may have to do this often; as often as necessary I literally walk away from fear and worry. Occasionally that means picking up an enriching book or even going outdoors, leaving the house, calling a friend or becoming occupied with some activity at home. I try to walk away from my worry if I must, if not literally but in my heart and in my head.
4. I will seek to be proud of myself. I know, I know, we’re supposed to be humble, etc. I think far too few of us under value ourselves and we need to find who we truly are. I often ask myself, “What is your destiny in this world? What is your value?” I have to have value and recognize it in myself before I can expect others to value me or I them. It’s difficult to accomplish this if I am living my life without personal dignity or self-worth. Dignity and honor are the springboards for the way we treat others and go about this business of living, compromised in health or not. For each of us, this is different but the basic rules don’t change just because we have health issues. That face I see in my mirror should be one I can trust and like. I have to admit it isn’t always pretty, may even be alarming but I have to have self-worth and self-love in order to have the courage to live with so many health issues and pain. I know I have a loving God who is always with me although I do not know what the future holds for me, He does.
5. I recall a true story I read in an issue of GUIDEPOSTS magazine, and here is a quote from it I would like to share with you from Olympic sprinter Oscar Pistorius. “My mother used to tell us, Carl, put on your shoes; Oscar, put on your prosthetic legs.’ So I grew up not thinking I had a disability. I grew up thinking I had different shoes.” You see Oscar is a double amputee.
This among other examples of courage remind me to take whatever disability I live with and realize I am not alone. I will try to put that gnarly, ugly, life twisting self-pity aside and not let it darken my life.
Here’s wishing each of you a week of finding medical answers, comfort, cures, adjustments but most of all happiness in whatever your state of life or health. Life is still wonderful. Let’s not miss a moment of it. I’m going to keep eating my cherry vanilla or coffee ice cream with salted caramel topping while little Georgie lies here beside me, waiting to lick the bowl. We all have to have something to look forward to, don’t we?