Just recently life has thrown a few curve balls into my personal space. Nothing drastic, but enough to throw me off balance. And then, of course, there’s the dratted weather, which has thrown enough curve balls into everyone’s territory to create disruptions galore.
My last posting (yes, I know, it’s been two long weeks!), was on 7 March Musings- Freedom, and I shared how sick I had been and how much I was enjoying the freedom of wellness. We had a short interlude of a few days of good weather as I regained my strength, and the first call of order was the garden. So much needed to be done in the way of general tidying and clearing before beginning on the major project which would completely remodel my front yard.
I have to admit that even as I experienced the joy of gardening, I struggled with a certain level of frustration. As much as I wanted/needed to be out doing the garden, especially as I had lost so much time due to bad weather and we didn’t know how long the warm weather was going to last, I also really wanted to be writing. Having two passions is sometimes difficult to manage and the garden passion and the writing passion each carry about equal weight in my heart.
Well, I chose the garden and managed to get a few days good work in as well as immersing myself into the the general mainstream of my daily life. I was on about day five of this readjustment back to normal when the next curve ball arrived and truly took the wind out of my sails.
I had just arrived in St. Augustine for a Body Talk appointment. I pulled into the parking lot, took my phone out of my bag to put it on silent mode, and it rang in my hand. It was my husband calling to let me know that he was in the ER with chest pains “but please don’t get alarmed”!
In hindsight I have learned that my reaction to crisis/alarming news is to back off, disconnect if you will. In that moment I said to my husband, “I’ve just arrived at my appointment in St. Augustine, do you need me there?” He kind of muttered around for a few moments as I cautiously allowed my mind and my heart to re-approach the reality of the situation, then he said, “Yes, I think I’d like you here.”
As I ran in to cancel my appointment before turning the car around and racing back to Jacksonville, I realized what my comment must have sounded like to my husband as he lay on a gurney in the ER. I called him immediately and left a message (they had made him turn his phone off). I told him that even as I had asked that ridiculous question, there had been no doubt that I would go right to the hospital to be with him. I had just needed a moment to allow my fear to subside so that I could get on and do what I needed to do.
I guess for me it is a defense mechanism. Stepping back so that I can allow my head and my heart to kind of sync up together and work in harmony. It’s the kind of mechanism that has us go to numbness or disbelief in the face of personal tragedy. We need that small space of time so that God can step in and hold our heart and our hand, or even pick us right up into His arms, and walk us through the pain and the difficulty of any given tough situation.
I spent the whole of the drive back to Jacksonville in prayer mode. I asked God to protect my husband and surround him with His healing grace. I made a couple of phone calls: one to my daughter to put her in the picture, and two more to dear friends so that I would have my support group in place no matter what.
By the time I got to the hospital I was calm. They had done a bunch of tests on Richard and were beginning to administer some different medications. His EKG’s, chest X-ray, and blood work were OK, but he was still experiencing tightness and pressure in his chest as well as shortness of breath when speaking. They kept him in for observation for a couple of days before sending him home with more medication and instructions for follow-up, including an appointment with the Cardiologist.
It is amazing how a couple of days and a crisis can affect the human system. It was only after getting Richard home and seeing him slowly return to normal that I realized how exhausted my body was. As I went through the process of letting go of the anxiety all I wanted to do was sleep. I also noted how I felt generally irritable, and irritated toward Richard. (Like how dare he put me through that!!).
Stress is a very hard task-master that produces strong emotions and reactions. I am grateful that I know how to recognize stress fairly quickly and can take positive steps to reduce and eliminate it from my life. I booked a massage in the next few days and also returned to my beloved garden, two of the best therapies for stress that I know work for me.
I’m never quite sure what happens to me when my normal routine is disrupted. All I know is that it seems to take me forever to re-find myself, to get back into my everyday patterns and the activities that I love doing. Sometimes the disruption is a “going away” thing; a trip, a vacation, a retreat. Sometimes the disruption is caused internally; an emotional hiccup, a hormonal hill, an unexpected trauma. The journey back is more difficult when the disruption is a “double-whammy” – a trip AND an internal shift.
Last weekend Richard and I took a trip. We mounted our much-loved Harley and hit the road. First stop was Orlando where we spent the night and participated in Night of Joy at Disney’s Hollywood Studios. (That experience will be a posting of its own.) We had a great ride and even though we encountered some of the usual backed-up traffic on I-4, we arrived safely.
On Saturday morning we slept in a little after our late night at the concerts and, after breakfast, we got back on Harley fully kitted out in our rain gear. There was a steady drizzle of rain which wasn’t too bad, but the closer we got to Tampa the harder it came down. We were glad to reach our destination – the lovely luxurious Westin on the Causeway – change into dry clothes, order up some room service, and just relax. Later in the evening we took a cab to Mass at Christ the King church, then crossed the road to eat at GrillSmith on South Dale Mabry Hwy. (Another separate posting on this experience!)
On Sunday morning we prepared for the other highlight of this trip: the Tampa Bay Buccaneers game against the Dallas Cowboys. Richard and I are die-hard Cowboys’ fans and this was a great game to be able to travel to. The weather was reasonable even though showers were promised. We had our rain ponchos and what’s a bit of water if you can get to see the “Boys”!! (The game will be another posting!)
We happily prepared for our trip home (the “Boys” won after an exciting game that could have gone in either direction until the fourth quarter). Apart from a short we-are-lost detour at the beginning of the trip (unfamiliar city roads and road construction!), and a small shower closer to home, we had another great ride and arrived home safely at about 10pm.
Now that was a fabulous weekend; no hiccups, no problems, and a very happy ending. It just carried a simple “disruption” tag to my usual routine. So why on earth did I wake up on Monday morning feeling like I was sliding down some treacherous slippery hill of grayness? I guess if I could answer that question, and especially if I could offer a solution, I could get very rich very easily!
Thank God that I have done a lot of personal growth and spiritual growth work over the last thirty years. At least this puts me in a position to be able to actually recognize that I was on this slippery slope. It allows me to know myself enough that I am aware that geographical and time disruptions to my routine affect me in ways that perhaps other people do not experience. I am also willing to put a name to that slippery slope, that most people avoid because they feel it carries too much stigma: depression.
I feel blessed that I have built a support system of incredible friends and that I know to reach out no matter how small the hiccup or hill may seem. I do not want my hills to grow into menacing mountains that I cannot surmount. I also feel blessed and grateful that the depression that I suffer from occasionally is not acute and does not require medication. I also recognize that if I did not have the self awareness that I have worked so hard to achieve, and if I were not willing to take action and ask for support and help, I could easily spiral into deeper depression.
Many people out there, especially those in the male category, refuse to even consider that they may be depressed. I think it is time to concede that as human beings, with all the in-built emotions and hormones (yes, you guys have crazy hormones too!!) and all the external stress that we deal with on a daily basis, it is normal for us to have “ups and downs”. In our “ups” we are high on happiness and excitement. In our “downs” our happiness is pushed down, de-pressed.
Sometimes it requires nothing spectacular to de-press our feelings. It can be something as simple as the end of a special occasion (a trip, a celebration) or even a split second thought or memory that triggers a series of other thoughts that take us down. And sometimes all or any of this can take place on such a subconscious level that we cannot put our finger on what is causing our “down”, our de-pression.
So on Monday my plan had been to get up and immediately hit the computer and share all the wonderful experiences of the weekend and whatever else the Muse presented. But somewhere on that slippery slope Muse had jumped off the wagon and I was left with “gray”. Plan of action: pray, call a friend, go meet with some people who didn’t think I was crazy and who understood exactly what I was going through.
And that is how I am very blessed. I have gathered around me people who are available to me, who care about me enough to give me their time and their invaluable friendship, who are willing to listen, to share their own experience in similar circumstances. With their help, it has taken me four days to fully come back up and feel normally enthusiastic about each day.
I have been patient and gentle with myself. I have not “self-bashed” myself because I haven’t written anything since Saturday. I have allowed myself to be “lazy” and focused on doing just the absolute essentials on my schedule. And lo! the Muse is back. More postings to follow!!!!
A couple of days ago I had a bit of a traumatic experience. In the bigger scheme of things it was just a blip on the horizon, but it changed my plans over the last few days, causing me to spend several hours at the doctors and then at the pharmacy, and has caused me some severe pain and discomfort. Amazing what a small thing like a bee sting can do.
I’m not going into the details. The location of the sting is personal and somewhat embarrassing. I was innocently weeding the garden when it happened, ripping out whole forests of weeds that had grown in the swampy heat of our Florida summer underneath the Chinese Privets and the Chaste tree.
I grabbed yet another handful of weeds and found myself yanking on a long bindweed vine that was entwined in the Chaste three. I yanked and I yanked and shook the tree to its roots without realizing that I was disturbing lots of bees or wasps (I’m never quite sure which they are) that were getting drunk on nectar from the blooms in the tree. Next thing I know – pure white hot pain.
Within fifteen minutes I had a huge swollen area of skin and no pain relief despite copious applications of ammonia. Because of the location I decided that medical intervention was necessary as a precaution, so took myself to one of these “drive through” medical centers that have popped up like mushrooms. I was told there was not much to do other than go home, ice it down and take Benadryl for the swelling and “did I want some Vicodin for pain?”. (Is it any wonder that people get addicted to these kinds of medication? Doctors seem to hand them out like candy!)
Over an hour later I went home and did the ice thing, was already on an anti-histamine for something else so didn’t bother with the Benadryl, and took two 500mg Tylenol. Up until this point in time I had been dealing with pretty high level pain, so by the time the Tylenol kicked in I was exhausted. I curled up on the couch feeling crappy and wiped out and thankfully fell asleep. It was 8.15pm. At some point in time I must have zombied into the bedroom.
During the night I tossed and turned and in the early morning realized that a local infection had set up at the sting site – it was blistered and yellow:-(. So at a civilized hour I called my doctor and asked to go in. They lanced the blister, took a culture and I was given a Tetanus shot and a prescription for antibiotics. I was sent home with instructions to apply wet, hot pads during the day to “draw out the infection”.
I had an appointment at my favorite Natural Nail Care Center and thought that it would lift my spirits (it always does). But half way through, all I could think about was a nice comfortable bed or couch with cool sheets and a long nap. However, two hours later with my hands and toes sporting Perky Purple nail polish, I felt a little better and decided to honor a date with my husband for a bite to eat and a movie.
Halfway through the movie I became aware of a terrible itching sensation around the sting site, and by the time we got home there was an inflamed area about three and a half to four inches in diameter. I took my meds, did my hot wet bathes and crawled into bed feeling crappy. I had another toss- and-turn night and did not wake up feeling at all refreshed.
So I cancelled all the plans I had for today and have just honored my body and let it rest and relax. No housework has been done (thank God for pre-prepared meals!), no projects embarked upon. I have rested and read a book, bathed the sting site and taken my meds. Hopefully tomorrow I will feel ready to face the day with more energy. If that is not the case, I will honor my body and take another day of rest.