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Monday, October 22, 2012

Too much time on Twitter

When I'm not at my desk, I don't spend much time on the social networking sites.  However, I've been at my desk a lot lately, so I've abandoned facebook while my buddies are asleep, and I've spent more time on pinterest and twitter.  I'm not sure I get pinterest, but my friends tell me that it is a useful tool to remember the stuff that you may use later, like pinning favorite vacation things, house renovations, and recipes.  One of the things I notice in 'retweeting' the entries of other people over and over, it feels as if all the creativity is sucked out of me.  I become part of the endless chatter of information (I'll be generous enough to call it that) which bombards the stressed out, overactive adult mind.  

Having precious creative energy expended on chatter is a big waste of time that I could be doing something productive, like reading or writing or daydreaming.  I need to start making plans for my next creative endeavor, too.  I have three paintings to my credit thanks to Paint with a Twist in Arlington.  I never knew I could do that until I just decided to go one day.  It's pretty therapeutic, also.  Somehow, Amy, the shop owner, actually remembered my name after the first time she saw me.  That has happened to me before, and the person told me that she couldn't forget me because I'm a 'character.'  I have to admit that I enjoy being a character.  The word character actually conjures images of stories, books, and far away places, but most of all, a sense that I can be who I am and I can become whatever I want to be.  Development of literary characters is very deliberate and structural in its creation.  The same is true of my personal character development.  Since my adolescent years, I have been very purposefully and creatively making decisions about the kind of person I want to be.  I want to be intelligent, caring, responsible, spontaneous, fun, and well, lots more things.  I am becoming the things on my list, and my life is becoming the life I always wanted to have.  The final, perfect product will never exist, but the journey of becoming is the top priority.  In this, there is no failure; just a place on the continuum. 

Will I delete my social media profiles in the name of creativity?  No, but when I notice that I'm spending time looking at items that don't support who I choose to be, it's time to log off for the day.  I'm still becoming what I hoped to be as an adult.  At this point, I am enjoying the ride, rather than looking for the end of something and the beginning of something else.  It's on this ride that the adventure continues!

Sunday, October 14, 2012

Another plug for the placebo effect

As I was remembering my time in Albuquerque, I thought of the Native American traditions to which I was briefly exposed.  Their thoughts on living, healing, and dying are so much different than those of the rest of the world.  While I was there, I worked a subacute-rehab floor.  I had to quickly learn a new electronic charting system as well as work with a population with whom I was only remotely familiar.  Instead of having two critical patients or four nearly critical patients, I took care of 6 to 8 patients at a time.  Most of them were getting physical therapy and occupational therapy.  Most recovering from surgery or from a lengthy illness passed through this unit.  Sometimes, people didn't recover or got sicker.  It was there that I got a chance to see the realm of a med-surg nurse and a palliative care nurse, frequently in one day.  

I forget the reason I was looking for a specific co-worker, but I found her in a patient's room giving medications.  I will never forget the feeling of horror that I got when I saw her trying to get a pain pill down the most feeble lady that I've ever seen.  I wasn't sure that it looked safe for this poor woman to try to swallow.  I exclaimed, "Poor thing!  Don't we have anything IV that we can give her? Look at how she's suffering!" Her son and daughter were at the bedside.  The nurse looked at me with the most terrified look.  When she came out of the room, she told me that this woman and her family had been offered hospice.  Her husband supported her decision to go to hospice while her children did not.  They expressed concern about this dying woman becoming 'addicted' to pain medication and did not want her to have IV narcotics.  Most of the nurses on the unit were familiar with this patient and this situation, but I was not.  The family members hadn't seen me, and my horrified reaction had an impact on her care.  After that, her family allowed her to have IV pain medication, and the next day, she transferred to hospice.  She went from a place of care being torture to being able to pass away with peace and dignity.

It seems that we over medicate the general population with narcotics and withhold the relief they bring from the dying.  When I worked in ER, I saw patients who didn't manage their chronic migraines, they just came in for another 'fix.'  Sometimes I felt great empathy for their pain, and sometimes I did not.  The woman who came in with a ponytail and chewing gum didn't get nearly the sympathy as the person who appeared to be photophobic and phonophobic.  Another patient that I remember well, I had an opportunity to take care of at the beginning of her illness, and when I went to work at another ER, I encountered her again.  This was a professional woman who, at her job, was a supervisor.  She had a horrible thing happen to her foot that would be too graphic to describe here.  Over time, she went from being a vibrant woman with high, positive energy to being a 'frequent flyer' in the emergency department.  Indeed, she had had surgery on her foot and had suffered from chronic pain thereafter.  She had been prescribed narcotics and more narcotics.  By the third time I saw her, I was comfortable enough to talk to her about my perspective regarding her situation.  I empathized with her pain as I remembered what her foot looked like the day I met her.  I knew that her pain was very real.  I encouraged her to ask her doctor to refer her to physical therapy and to develop a pain management plan.  I also encouraged her to ask her doctor about non-narcotic analgesia so that she could get back to being her vibrant self rather than letting this illness define her.

I was a person who experienced frequent pain and had several surgeries in my 20s and 30s.  I sought out alternatives to try to treat the root cause of the pain.  I didn't want to live on narcotics because I saw what they did to my patients.  Healing takes longer, but it was worth the investment in all the things I did to try to heal myself.  Now, I'm more interested in helping people find a healing path as problems come up rather than treating urgent symptoms.  Placebo effect?  Maybe, but belief in sugar pills, energy, crystals, and prayer are powerful beliefs that have the potential to change the relationship a person has to a disease process without causing the damaging side effects documented in more profitable treatments.

The Placebo Effect?

As I'm beginning the next phase of my career and life, I've been out of the hospital environment since my wreck in April.  My paying gig is a telephone triage job, but for years, I've led almost a double life. It's time to be out of the closet about how I feel about healing.  

In 1995, I graduated from nursing school with my head full of knowledge about bodies and substances that I hadn't imagined before.  At that time, I believed that I was helping people by giving medications, and the more the better.  I thought that they were only needed for short periods of time.  It somehow escaped me that people live on drugs.  Drugs for everything known to man and the great 'Prescriber' exist to alleviate personal responsibility for health.  After all, whose fault is it if the treatment doesn't work?

My first several years in nursing, I was a pediatric nurse.  While sometimes I gave very potent medications to children, the goal was always that they would be able to be well enough to come off the medications.  Even children who had had heart surgery were later able to come off of their digoxin and lasix.  Parents were generally very keen to follow instructions about diet and to comply with medication regimens for their children.  My first journey to adult health nursing was in ER.  I still remember the first time I had to catheterize a grown woman for a urine specimen.  I thought I would pass out!  It was in ER that I learned about long lists of medications, very different types of chronic illness, and a very different expectation for the nurse from the doctor and from the patient.

Don't get me wrong, sometimes people need prescription medicines.  I have one that I'm taking now for a condition that probably won't ever completely resolve itself.  However, there has been a prevailing mindset that prescriptions, surgeries, and high tech treatments are here to vanquish all disease from the body as fast as someone can get a burger in the McDonald's drive through.  There's a marketing lie out there that would have someone believe that there is actually a magic pill for each symptom they may have and that they can't make it through life without 'lifesaving' medicine.  If you weigh the risks vs. the benefits, it might not be worth the risk.  Many elderly in the service area of my former workplace had falls at home.  When their medication lists were reviewed, it was no wonder.  Polypharmacy will end up killing more people than the 'lifesaving' medications help, if for no other reason than that someone's grandma got dizzy from all that shit, fell, broke her hip and subsequently had hip surgery only to die a short time later from a fatty embolus to the heart or to the brain.

An ounce of prevention is worth a pound of cure.  Can we avoid getting high blood pressure, heart disease, and alleviate risk factors for having strokes?  Yes.  It's the  hard way to do things.  Proper diet, in this rich nation, is harder to obtain than ever.  Pesticides and GMOs remain off the labeled ingredients, so buyers must beware about what they ingest.  It's worth the investment in health to buy 'real' food.  It's also worth the investment to research symptoms and consult alternative practitioners.  Proper supplementation and sessions with an energy healer (chiropractor, acupuncturist, or a Reiki master) is worth the effort.  Even if someone believes that these treatments are no better than the placebo effect, the placebo effect is powerful. 

Thank God for doctors and emergency rooms.  I needed them this year.  I was discharged from the trauma service at JPS before I could fully turn my neck or drive a car.  My astounding recovery has been from my self-care with the help of my chiropractor and my acupuncturist.  

Saturday, October 13, 2012

Insomniac, me? Hah!

My eyes are sleepy.  My body is entirely too keyed up to allow sleep to happen.  My brain knows that I have to be back up in about 3 hours to get myself and my covered dish ready to go to my day-retreat.  I'm completely excited to see friends and gather for food, fun, and relaxation.  I bought some meditation music a few weeks ago and have been enjoying it, also.  After work, I finished an email before going to bed.  All I could hear in my head were the lyrics: O my beloved, kindness of the heart, I'm coming home.  I rolled over.  I'm coming home...still playing within the confines of my brain.  You know how it is.  For those of you who remember the 80s well, if I write the numbers 8-6-7-5-3-0-9, your day is ruined. Or it could be Amadeus, Amadeus, rock me Amadeus.  Now you get the idea.

What is it about the idea of going 'home' that makes us pause?  The lyrics, "O my beloved..." make me feel as if someone is calling my name.  There isn't a flesh and blood person who calls me his 'beloved,' yet I still feel called 'home.'  It made me think of all the church hymns about heaven.  I'll Fly Away comes first to mind.  It doesn't do the same thing for me.  Listen: "Some glad morning when this life is over, I'll fly away.  To a land on God's celestial shore, I'll fly away, O glory; I'll fly away.  When I die, hallelujah by and by, I'll fly away. Just a few more weary days and I'll fly away.  To a land where joy shall know no end, I'll fly away...." (I took those lyrics from my memory)
 I'll Meet you in the Morning goes like this:

               I'll meet you in the morning by the bright riverside
               When all sorrow has drifted away
               I'll be standin' at the portals when the gates open wide
               At the close of life's long weary day

               I'll meet you in the morning with a how do you do
          And we'll sit down by the river and when all the rapture is renewed
               You'll know me in the morning by the smile that I wear
               When I meet you in the morning In the city that is built four square

                I will meet you in the morning in the sweet by and by
                And exchange the old cross for a crown
                There will be no disappointments and nobody shall die
                In that land when life's sun goeth down

I've sung and loved those songs for much of my life, but today, they don't strike the same chord (ok laugh at the pun) that they did for me before.  In the songs about the fantasies of heaven, God isn't calling my name.  He isn't beckoning for his 'beloved.' There isn't anything sweeter than a reunion with someone you love.  I think I will continue to ponder about being 'his' beloved and hearing him call me home.

Wednesday, October 10, 2012

Christian Heretic Chronicles

I have run across another blog that I really like (so far).  I don't know Sandra, the author, personally, yet she writes things that I feel as if I could have written.  You know, stuff about migraines, skeletons in the closet, and stuff of our lives as humans.  This entry, I felt as if I could have written myself, except that instead of seeing a NAET practitioner, I see an acupuncturist.  I found this story at

The demons are duking it out in my head tonight. A migraine is squeezing my eyeballs and pounding the walls of my brain. I have felt a duel of some proportion coming on for a few days. At first I thought it was some kind of sinus infection resulting from that cold and small fever I was fighting. But then I realized the militant action was amping up every time I gave thought to the latest series of half-remembered dreams I've been having. 

Some months ago, in an NAET session with my healing dude, I experienced the first awareness of a whole mess of memories being repressed. All progress on my recovery, physical and spiritual, came to a screeching halt. Minuscule glimpses have leaked through to my consciousness, always at great cost in emotional and physical pain. My psyche has gone to great lengths to lock these memories away so that I could survive and doesn't relinquish custody of them lightly. 

I've been dreaming again of things I could never admit--to myself, much less to anyone else. The dreams are wrapped in the coded language of the unconscious and even so I only remember fleeting images upon awaking. But my body remembers. 

All of me aches with the desire to acknowledge the memories. Yet my muscles clench tight in a permanent flinch that forces the horrors out of sight. The battle between being safe and being free rages in my very tissues. My brain throbs. My belly heaves. My innermost parts burn with exquisite agony of knowledge that cannot be spoken. 

The skeletons in my closet rattle and writhe. I long to teach them to dance. But they do not respond to my direction for I know not their name. The demons at the door, charged with my survival, won't let me in. They fight me with all the ferocity of the cornered animal I once was. 

I am safe now. A woman long grown to maturity. Safe and cared for. As safe as I could imagine being. The demons don't have to work so hard. My survival is not at risk. My sanity is not threatened. 

Rest, ye demons. You have earned it. Let the skeletons come forth as they will, to be named, to dance in healing and joy. Let the battle in my body cease for we are all in one accord: I am loved. Broken, despised, rejected, still I am loved. I AM. 

Monday, October 8, 2012

Happy Day

I received many birthday wishes yesterday via Facebook, text, voicemail, and actual phone conversations.  I am grateful and humbled at all the people who wished me well.  Many people wanted to know what I did or had planned.  Many people expressed concern that I didn't have something special planned.  I thought about it a bit, and since I wasn't at all unhappy about my day, I don't think anyone else should be, either.

My birthday was yesterday, Sunday.  I did my normal thing (except that I forgot to call Erich).  I got off work, went to sleep, got up, went to Whole Foods, put a dent in Erich's plans, and came home to make chili.  I signed in to work at 10 pm as per usual.  People keep telling me the stuff I should do for myself.  The truth is that I do lots of cool stuff for myself on a regular basis.  I go out to eat.  I either make or buy a latte if I want it, and I go shopping when I need to.  As I said in an earlier post, life was harder for me in my 20s than it is now.

I can think of things I want in life that are absent at this time (a man, spiritual, fun, and grown up enough to have his act together...cute doesn't hurt, either), but in all, I would rather have my life with my adventures and woes than anyone else's. No matter what other adjective might be used to describe my life, it is never boring. I'm nerdy and have many idiosyncrasies, but unlike during my childhood days, I can't imagine wanting to be someone else.  For all the adversity, bullying, and disadvantages I had early in life, I'm making up for it now.

So, my birthday was no big deal compared to the rest of my week or my life, but dang, I have a good life.  

Happy Monday, everyone!
The adventure continues...

Friday, October 5, 2012

Thoughts and Mantras

It is from our thoughts that we create our lives and in turn, the world around us. It is said that if we can control our thoughts, we can control our lives.  To me, a woman used to blurting out whatever I think, that's pretty profound.

What if, for one day, I can control my thoughts (not to mention my words) when I'm in traffic?  What if I can release the irritation and anger that I feel toward others and make room for acceptance and peace.  That's not just altruism at work, it is pure selfishness.  I don't like feeling annoyed or angry.  I love those moments when I am comfortable in my own skin and feel as if I'm at peace with the world.  Most of you reading this actually know me, so you know that while I'm very free-spirited, the moments of 'walking on sunshine,' are indeed moments where I've had to reign in thoughts, words, and actions.  Those are moments of sweet bliss.  I need to spend more time in that happy place.

Yesterday started out to be a perfectly happy day.  I took a three hour nap after work and spontaneously woke up without any struggle.  Since I was off last night, I spent those first moments catching up on all my games of words with friends.  I got ready to go to my physical therapy appointment.  I didn't really want to go.  I have probably had only one dizzy spell since my last appointment, and I feel sure it was either from sleep deprivation or from using my exercise ball as an office chair.  However, I made an appointment. I didn't have a good reason to cancel except 'I don't want to,' so of course, I got ready and set out to get to Arlington Memorial for the dreaded session.  As I was exiting I-30 to Cooper street, there is a yield lane.  Everyone was moving fine.  I turned my head to make sure someone wasn't flying over the bridge when I felt a bump.  What in the world?? I thought I ran over an orange cone.  It wasn't as simple as that.  There was a car in front of me that decided for some unknown reason to stop there.  I left the imprint of my license plate in her back bumper.  Since I didn't see it happen, I was in a bit of shock for a minute.  I got out of my car to see how the other driver was.  She was on her phone.  I asked, "Are you ok?"  She twisted up her face and said in the most pitiful voice, "I don't know." Then, just as pitifully, as she was continuing her cell phone conversation, she asked why I hit her.  Her words struck me the wrong way.  I realized immediately that this woman was being precious (my Southerners will understand the inflection and inferred meaning).  I felt as if I were channeling Julia Sugarbaker from that 80s TV show, Designing Women.  Instead of the full rant that she would have launched, though, I just looked at this woman, and said loudly enough for the person in her cell phone to hear, "I don't know what you're talking about!" I was looking for a pen and paper so that I could give this woman my insurance information.  She had actually called the police (for those of you not in the DFW area, a non-injury accident just requires the drivers to switch information, not a full police investigation).  I pulled off into the Burger King parking lot (after I cancelled that Physical Therapy appointment I didn't want to keep anyway) and waited for the police.  I took photos of her bumper.  The officer didn't even fill out a report, nor did I get a ticket.  I just got her information from him, and he gave her mine.  As I was standing there, the firetrucks came up, sirens blaring.  Shortly after, the ambulance came squealing in, also with lights and sirens.  Precious indeed!  Not to mention opportunistic.  I didn't see any obvious damage to my car except for my bent license plate, so I went my  merry way (I went to the car wash, and discovered some things were loose later).

Later, I went to a Reiki share where I had an opportunity to release the tensions of the day.  The fender-bender had left its impact, and some other thoughts had been nagging me, so I wanted to work on all of those things.  GO AWAY was my mantra for the annoyances of the day.  The host of the event and I have a mutual friend, and we had met five years ago.  She actually recognized me as someone she should remember, so we caught up a bit.  I had the opportunity to share the story of my wreck and my miraculous recovery up to this point.  It seemed to encourage the people there, and it served as a reminder that sometimes when you get what you asked for, it may come in an unexpected package.

On the point of living up to the ideals outlined in my first couple of sentences, I failed yesterday.  Today is a new day with new opportunities (and a new PT appointment).

The adventure continues!

Thursday, October 4, 2012

If I didn't have kids, I would____.

My friend, CB, is an RN, a wife, and a mom of five children.  I just read her blog post about what she would do if she didn't have children.  We humans always want what we don't have whether it's a life change or something as simple as a day to ourselves.

Most women who make that statement forget about the time when they wanted to get married and to have a family.  They forget about the times when they felt left out, and felt the sting of losing touch with their friends who became moms and the friendship fell away.  My friend imagined herself sleeping late, reading books, working out, and going back to school if she didn't have children.  Maybe, maybe not.
I spent my 20s going to school and working up to three jobs at once.  It really wasn't so glamorous.  There wasn't much reading for pleasure or sleeping in.  From my perspective, the woman who was relatively happily married and had some children had an easier life than mine was at that time.
My the first half of my 30s was spent with the man who is now my ex husband.  The very things he loved about me were the things he believed his duty to change about me.  He made a concerted effort to re-create his parents' marriage in our relationship.  It was the biggest tragedy of my life to have to leave.  Later, I discovered that I hadn't made an informed decision when I married him.  There were secrets. I didn't know them until several years after our divorce.  Sometimes I wonder if I would have done anything different at any point on the continuum of that relationship had I known the secrets at the beginning, in the middle, or even just before the end. I spent the rest of my 30s recovering.  I'm now in my 40s.  I have had fantastic adventures that my mom friends have not, but like most of them, I have a job to work, bills to pay, and mundane things of life the same as they do. In my profession, childless women end up working more major and minor holidays.  Sometimes, we foolishly agree to it.  Mostly, co-workers say things like, "You don't have kids, why don't you work insert holiday here for me?" I always wonder if people think that childless women were hatched from eggs.  I'm somebody's daughter, sister, niece, and aunt.  That family counts, right?

I love my life even when it isn't fun.  It's always exciting.  From travel to car wrecks to boyfriends who break up with me on the phone like we were still in 7th grade (yes, that did just happen) life is never boring.  Considering all things, now that I'm in my 40s, I have to concede to my 'mom' friend that my life is charmed.  Although I love children and would have loved being a mom, the reality is that I need to enjoy my nieces and nephews more.  I have plenty of them to love, and of course, they're the most beautiful children on the planet.  I'm missing some of my photos since I changed computers.  Pictured are four of the six children!

Mischief managed!

Dancing fancies!
Just plain cute!