Thursday, August 20, 2015

Adventures in Health and Well-Being, Linda-Style...

I am not good at being sick…or perhaps I should more accurately say,
at admitting weakness in my body. There has always been a kind of
shame (as bizarre as that sounds) connected with lack of wellness for
me, a sense that I am not living up to what is expected of me.
Perhaps it comes from my German background and upbringing, this
inability, unwillingness to acknowledge frailty of any kind, but I am
gradually, ever-so-gradually coming to acknowledge that this is a very
dangerous and self-defeating kind of hubris. Gritting one’s teeth and
soldiering on through whatever it is may be fine on a battlefield
(though even there it has its limitations, I’m sure), but in everyday
life, this philosophy can be not only a failure to acknowledge one’s own
limitations but may also be detrimental to one’s health and well-being.

All of this being a lengthy preamble to what has been going on with me
lately. For the past couple of weeks, I have been noticing that I tire
much more easily than is customary for me. I’m usually a pretty high-
energy person, but I found myself feeling totally sapped of energy for
no seemingly good reason. I blamed it on the extremely hot weather,
something my body has never tolerated well, and soldiered on. Then,
last week, I began experiencing some shortness of breath- not that
I couldn’t breathe, but that I was breathing harder upon exertion,
especially when climbing stairs. And since my house has three levels,
this happens often. No more running up and down multiple flights…no,
I was getting out-of-breath with each flight. Then, this weekend, I
found myself feeling very weak while I was preaching the sermon…
indeed, I almost felt faint, something which never happens to me.
And I felt myself perspiring all over, even though I did not feel hot.
But I soldiered on.

I rested the remainder of Sunday, but Monday morning felt me still
not feeling up to par and so, reluctantly, dragging my feet all the
way, I called my doctor and made an appointment to see her on
Thursday. Most of yesterday, I felt fine- no weakness or sweating or
even shortness of breath- though admittedly I didn’t exert myself
much physically. And by bedtime, I was wondering if I should cancel
the appointment. Seemed like I was being a bit of an alarmist.
Perhaps I could just continue to soldier through.

But this morning, the weakness was back and I felt a kind of
fluttery feeling in my stomach…butterflies of a sort…for no apparent
reason, with an occasional sense of perspiring, even though I’m not
hot. So the appointment is on for Thursday. My BP (which I’ve been
checking regularly) is staying at its normal low, though at times, my
pulse increases. And I’ve been trying to tell myself that I am not
being fooIlish by NOT going to the emergency room at the hospital.
Yes, as my hypochondria kicked in, I Googled the symptoms of heart
attack in women and some of mine seem to fit, but I’m not willing to
go that far at this point. Foolish, you say? Perhaps. But overcoming
all of the old baggage I carry is not easy…the uneasiness with
hospitals, the mistrust of doctors (in spite of or perhaps because of
my being a nurse for many years), and the unwillingness to put myself
in the hands of someone I do not know are powerfully strong.

So, dear readers, please pray for this stubborn, willful woman, not
that this will be nothing to worry about, but that I will be able to
face whatever it is (or isn’t) with equanimity and grace- and courage.
          *         *          *          *          *         *          *
I wrote the above non-posted post on Tuesday of this week... and now, as I
sit here on Thursday afternoon, it seems in some ways so silly...and yet...
I saw my wonderful, non-intrusive and understanding doctor this morning
and we had a long talk. I have the kind of doctor who says to me, "Okay, if
it turns out to be this( x, y, or z), what are you willing to do/have done?" I
guess she's known me long enough to have come to know and respect
that I don't want a doctor ordering me about, telling me what I have to do,
but rather one who respects my opinions and feelings, treating me as a
part of the process of healing... since it is happening to my body, after all.
We decided on an EKG and lots of blood work- looking for thyroid issues,
anemia, or anything else out-of-whack. The EKG was thankfully normal
(though I'm sure it will come under a more-detailed perusal  later) and I
will have blood work results next week. In the meantime, I feel a lot better,
just to have taken a step for my own health and well-being. And you see,
after I wrote the above post and saved it in my laptop for possible posting
at a later time, I was able to hand the whole situation over to the incredibly
patient and understanding God in whom I live and move and have my being.
After all, I was able to reason... and realize... it was all out of my hands
anyway, actually. Nothing I could do. And worrying only compounded the
problem by tossing a lot of stress into the mix.
So... preparing to cook tomorrow for our Gals' Gourmet Group dinner at
Jennifer's... finishing another book tonight... looking forward to a light
but lovely meal of salad and a tiny steak... and certain that I will have a
lovely, restful night's sleep, knowing I am being held- as always- in hands
which love and care for me... including- now- all of yours. Thanks be to God.

Saturday, August 15, 2015

A Long Hot Summer...of Reading

Haven't written in a while...must confess, time has a way of getting
away from me far too often. It seems like I turn my head or close
my eyes for a moment and a week has passed...or two...or a month.
That's kind of been the story of my summer. Seems like it was just
June 1st and now it is the 15th of August. But because the hot
weather and I just don't see eye-to-eye, and because it has been
very hot summer in this part of Carolina, I have done a lot of
reading...a LOT of reading. I finished all the books in the Tom
Thorne series by Mark Bellingham (loved them... he's a British
writer and Thorne is a detective. Need I say more?). And I read
several great children's books including "My Teacher is A Monster",
"Coraline", "The Pout-Pout Fish", and "Little Owl's Night". I also
completed the second  book in Greg Iles' Penn Cage trilogy and am
eagerly awaiting the third one. Then there was Falling in Love by
Donna Leon, part of the Commissario Guido Brunetti series... and in
a totally different vein, A Long Walk to Water by Linda Sue Park.
I also completed the great third book in the Century trilogy by Ken
Follett, Edge of Eternity. Oh, and how could I forget Atul Gawande's
wonderful Being Mortal and Almost Famous Women by Megan
Mayhew Bergman? Right now, as is my usual habit, I am in the midst
of three books: Bread and Wine by Shauna Niequist (spirituality and
cooking- fantastic combination), My Grandmother Asked Me to Tell
You She's Sorry by Fredrik Beckman (fiction), and The New Jim
Crow by Michelle Alexander (politics, justice). As you can see, my
reading tastes are decidedly eclectic.

But my favorite book of the summer has been the one written by
my friend and colleague in ministry, Nancy Kraft, pastor of Holy
Trinity Lutheran Church in Charlotte, NC. Entitled Threads;
Pulling Meaning from the Tangled Mess, it is a delightfully honest
spiritual memoir told in an incredible variety of vignettes from
her life as pastor and seeker. Of course, knowing Nancy made
reading the book an added plus but I am sure anyone reading
this lovely, earthy, truthful, courageous little book will be fed...
with both tears and laughter, as I was. It's available on Amazon
and I encourage you to add it to your must-read list. By the time
you reach the end, you will have "met" Nancy in a very real and
personal way and I suspect will admire her as much as I do.

Saturday, August 1, 2015

Morning Scribblings...

Sometimes, when I put pen to paper, nothing comes. But at other
times, I am pleasantly surprised and the words just flow from my
heart... like this morning.

Eyes wide shut...
Sitting on the blue loveseat in my living room
listening to classical music
coming from the radio
in the next room
lulled and cooled by
the gently-oscillating fan,
I am suddenly overcome by weariness,
my eyelids growing heavy,
as I am drawn toward sleep,
my body weighted down with the torpor
caused by too many sleep-disturbed nights.
I had intended to read a bit
and write, to attend and pray,
but all my good intentions
are coming to naught as
I succumb, and my eyes close.

change of life...
My daughter has been in deep despair,
her spirit grieving over
her daughter's move to
the other side of the country.
This separation feels complete
to her, a rending of the cord
which has linked them fully
for these many years.
Now the link has shifted to
a husband, a partner who is
sharing this new, exciting
chapter of grad school and
living in LA, the future stretching
wide with possibility before them...
while on the Eastern Shore of
North Carolina, amidst the dunes
and barrier islands, my daughter
is beginning to wipe her tears,

to refocus her life, to resurrect
the gifts and beauties buried
within celebrate
the Blue Moon with a group of
friends with whom her heart is live anew.