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Friday, April 20, 2012

In and Out

reflection

the real me, Grandma, and June
I don't usually do book reviews on my blog, especially for books that I haven't quite finished, but I have a new spin on a worn out topic: my relationship to food and to my body.  Geneen Roth's Women, Food, and God isn't just another self help book for fat girls who obviously must have had a difficult past.  June left me the book and told me to read it (she was shocked to observe
that in the two weeks she spent with me that I hadn't read a single book).
So I started reading.  I thought it would be about as exciting as reading something by Beth Moore.  For those of you who don't know how I feel about Beth Moore, let me sum it up in a couple of  words: brainwashed regurgitator of patriarchal religion (little woman must cower to big, all powerful, knowing and wise husband).  How pleasantly surprised I was to find that this author appears to be the complete opposite of Beth Moore.  She's honest about her own struggles while supporting the reader with the idea that she must feel her own emotions in her own body and work through the self-judgment.  At the end of the process, she should have learned to love herself enough to want to listen to her body's cues about hunger (this could also apply to thirst, cold, heat, fatigue, and all of those little things we ignore so that we can just plow through the day to accomplish the work in front of us).  Her premise is that we create a weight problem (whether we're 80 lbs and anorexic or 200+ and out of shape) through obsessive eating habits to hide what's really going on inside.   In reading the book, thus far I am feeling supported; and the large, looming fears seem to be manageable.

 In addition to having a difficult childhood and a more difficult marriage, nursing school added to the mix by ingraining the philosophy that 'my body and my needs are not worthy of attention while I'm at work'.  Every nurse I know who has practiced for more than 10 years recites a similar philosophy.  Patient care is to come before all else.  It makes us obsessive and task oriented.  The physical consequences of adhering to this philosophy are devastating.  Besides the unhealthy eating habits that are exacerbated by working in a pressure cooker where life and death are literally in her hands, some of these women have had emergency hysterectomies, bladder lifts, back surgeries. (If you're wondering what makes a hysterectomy or a bladder lift an emergency, it happens when someone ends up in the ER on her day off with her organs literally falling out of her body.)  I have tended to work in areas that have a healthy male RN population.  The men don't buy in to the "nurse martyr" syndrome so easily.  Many like to rescue people and move toward other goals.

The idea that we flee from unpleasantness of emotion by indulging in "comfort food" when we aren't physically hungry isn't exactly a new one.  The idea that we can disconnect from our bodies and live mostly in our heads is presented in a way that resonates with me.  I can't reproduce good examples of why I feel that way, so you'll have to read the book for yourself and see how you feel about it.

As I have been reading the book, I am reminded of my April 1st car wreck.  There are hours where I was living an out of body experience.  I don't remember the collision.  I don't remember being taken out of my car and placed into an ambulance.  What was happening in my head at that time, I do very vividly remember.  At first I thought I was asleep and dreaming about work.  Then, I really believed I was working.  I worked hard to save someone.  I was doing a marvelous job of being the perfect nurse, making perfect decisions for the best possible outcome for my patient.  I gave everything I had to make sure she lived.  I wondered why I was working in an ambulance, and I wondered who at my local NurseFinder's branch scheduled me to work in ER.  I haven't worked ER in about 10 years.  Although I was performing wonderfully, I was working night shift.  I preferred days.

That was all in my head.  It was so REAL.  At that same time, I was taken out of my car by someone, transported in an ambulance, and taken to ER.  I had at least two CT scans, but I don't remember being in that machine at all.  When I came back to my body, I was aware of lying on a stretcher or table, and someone cutting my clothes off.  I didn't know what had happened, how I got to ER, or what was wrong with me.  I found out that I had a lung contusion, four fractured vertebrae, and horrible whiplash. I remember a female nurse's voice telling me, "At least your face is still pretty."  Later, I discovered that while there was glass in my hair and scalp, my face wasn't cut up by the glass. I felt uncomfortable and needed to be repositioned.  I couldn't turn myself.  I didn't understand until later why they wouldn't turn me.  I couldn't comprehend my injuries, but I was beginning to feel them.  Now, three weeks later, I am acutely aware of the pain in my body.  The bruises are starting to heal, but my back is still quite swollen.  My ability to walk is better, but I still need a walker to steady myself.  Last night, I started feeling the emotional pain of these injuries.  I even hoped that RJ, the driver of the car who caused the crash, felt as much pain as I was feeling.  Then I felt guilty about wishing that on anyone, even him. I sobbed.  I have tried to "resign" from this princess-like existence that I have had.  Everyone waits on me, and helps me.  All the assistance I could possibly need is right at hand.  My brother was here to help when I couldn't get out of bed or get to the bathroom by myself.  My sister got up in the middle of the night with me when I woke up in pain many nights.  My mom heard me say that I wanted RJ to hurt as much as I do.  She heard me sobbing in guilt, pain, and frustration that after these weeks, I'm not well yet.  The scary part for me is what I don't remember.

Women, Food, and God is helping me to feel my pain without being angry at my body for being hurt or (temporarily) disabled.  I encourage all my friends who need some extra support to read this book, male or female.  It gives another perspective that gives way from self-judgment to allowing love in, therefore,it is completely worth the time and effort to purchase and read.


Tuesday, April 17, 2012

Texas beauty

When I started my blog last year, I had several photos of Vienna flowers, landscape, and buildings.  I decided this year to appreciate the beauty of Texas by taking some pictures and posting those.  June and I were at Veteran's Park the other day, and she took these for me.  In Canada, they're still having winter weather.  She was amazed at the roses and other flowers in bloom here.
The March showers have yielded beautiful April flowers.  These are at the front of the park near the parking spaces and benches.  I'm sure that the other parts of the park had more hidden treasures, but in my current condition, I couldn't make it to my favorite spot.

Speaking of my current condition, I walked 973 steps from the driveway to the fire hydrant and from the fire hydrant to the stop sign at the end of the street then back to the house.  I had an appointment in the afternoon, then we went to Big Lots (I didn't count the steps there, but didn't go around the whole store), and finally to Whole Foods.  I made a loop around the perimeter of the store and the cafe.  (Tonight's menu: portabella fajitas). 

Enjoy the Texas flowers from wherever you are! 

Tuesday, April 10, 2012

Your Mama was Wrong

 Somehow, we Americans, for generations have passed on a little
saying.  Sort of a "golden rule" to encourage children to always wear
clean underwear.  We carry that into adulthood with all seriousness.  Seriously, the emergency workers have seen every kind of underwear and the lack thereof.
The truth is that THIS is what happens when you wear your good under garments and are in a wreck: They get cut off!  Now, I have to wait until I  am able to hobble into the store to buy new stuff.

Friday, April 6, 2012

Almost unreal

Sunday started out like any other regular Sunday.  I got up, talked to my friend Patt, and made pancakes.  Live via internet, we watched TD Jakes install the pastor for the Fort Worth Potter's House, and I made pancakes.  I had been staying at her house for a few weeks, and was moving to my new place that day.  I made a trip over there.  Unloaded some stuff I had packed and other stuff that I bought at Target.  I washed new silverware (and cut my finger); my friend Sam came over to bring the mattress for my bed.  I had a full schedule booked for the following week, and all was well with me.  I went back to Arlington for some more things, and decided to skip my ritual Whole Foods Market run for the day.  I got on the highway, and I remember talking to Patt last.  Hours passed, for which I have no memory.  The only thing I can say is that I thought I was working or dreaming about work.  There was someone in an ambulance that I was working on (What?? I remember thinking that it was crazy because I have never worked on an ambulance.  I wondered why I was asleep and dreaming when I had so much to do.  "Really, this is not the time to be asleep," I chided myself.  Then my dream took me into the ER at JPS.  I remember wondering when the agency scheduled those shifts for me.  I was supposed to work OBS, not ER.  When I woke up from the "dream," if you want to call it that, I was lying on a stretcher and someone was cutting my clothes off.  I had a neck brace and some other contraption that kept me from turning on my side.  Suddenly, I wasn't at work anymore.  It didn't take me long to figure out that I was in the ER at JPS for real, and they all knew who I was.  They found my agency ID badges, all three of them, including one for this very hospital.  They started asking me questions.  I started asking them a big one: WHAT HAPPENED?  They told me I had been in a car wreck.  "What wreck?" I thought I was working.  I don't remember any wreck.  To this moment, I don't remember the wreck.  I remember only the consequences of the wreck.  They asked me for my family's phone numbers.  I remember yelling my mom's number through slurred speech.  She didn't answer.  I remember thinking that this isn't the time to turn off your phone for prayer meeting.  I shouted out my uncle's phone number. I remember hearing his voice.  I think I told him to get Mom because she didn't answer.  I remembered Patt's phone number and had them call her, also.  I remember seeing Rheiko and Tiffany in the ER.  When I got to my room, I was heavily medicated, and started "drunk" calling everyone whose phone numbers I might remotely remember.  They all answered me and came over the next day or so to see me or called me.  The outpouring on facebook has been amazing.  There are a few other things I haven't remembered that I should remember, but for the most part, I'm doing better than anyone expected.  I'm still sucking down pain pills, walking with a back brace and a walker.  I feel tipsy most of the time.  I told my brother that being tipsy is only fun when you have some sober time in between to appreciate it.  I actually think my grandma can probably walk as well as I can right now.  I got to talk to her today.  Mom said that she didn't remember who "Rhonda" was when they were just talking about me, but when she heard my voice, she seemed to remember at least a little bit.  When we were little, we would make her cards and write, "I love you very much," on them before we signed our names.  When I told her I loved her, she responded with, "I love you very much." Of course, when I asked to talk to my mom again, I had to remind her that my mom is Rose (two daughters were present, that was confusing for her).  The day has been filled with lots of sweetness, pain, and crabbiness (on my part).  The small victory for today was that I walked to the end of the street and back.  What a setback?  Yeah, but I have to see the victories as they come.