Better

Hugh Laurie – Dr Gregory House by xjorieke | DeviantArt.com

I went to see my naturopath last night. He said there’s a particularly nasty strain of stomach flu that hit our area last fall, and it sounds like I’ve caught the tail end of it. Unlike the 24 or 48-hour flu, this one likes to stick around until you fight back. He gave me a homeopathic detox remedy, a high-quality probiotic, and said to eat nothing but specifically white jasmine rice, baked or boiled chicken, and canned (not fresh) peaches, pears, and apricots for the next few days. In 15 years of practicing natural medicine, he said this homeopathic detox has never failed to cure the flu. No antibiotics? Needless to say I was skeptical, but by the time I went to bed last night I felt better.

Today marks three weeks since this bug first attacked me. Tonight I feel better still! Thank God! I even went to the store after work today. I’ve barely lifted a finger since I’ve been sick. It’s made me feel so useless and bored! I only picked up a few things, but it was nice to take care of something for the house.

I don’t know why I keep giving my “regular” doctor the chance to disappoint me. At this point, unless I need a limb re-attached, I’ve mostly given up all hope that U.S. medicine can effectively treat anything. Emergency medicine and surgery: unbelievable capabilities. Treating every-day health concerns: “Let’s cut something off, and pump you full of side-effect-causing drugs!”

“No, U.S. Medicine, you need to calm down!”

“But I went to school for 10 years and I’m in crippling debt! I need to blow this out of proportion, or else I need to not treat you at all, so there’s more time for the cases that can pay the bills.”

Am I wrong?

Mysterious Me

My Mystery Woman by SqueeBacon | DeviantArt.com

No, I’m not pregnant. Why does everyone keep asking me that? There’s no bouncing bundle of joy at the other end of this misery. I’m just sick, and I don’t know why. Any of these events could be triggering it, or it could be a perfect-storm combination:

  • Gut-wrenching stress from the looming legal guardianship hearing.
  • The round of antibiotics I took after having a tooth pulled last month.
  • Bacterial infection from visiting a national park a few weeks ago.
  • Bad diet finally catching up to me after having a cholecystectomy last year.

My labs came back negative for bacterial infection, so I don’t think it was the trip. All I know is I really miss food. I alternate between stomach cramps from being hungry and stomach cramps from eating the wrong thing. I’m going to see my naturopath tomorrow, and I think he may prescribe an elimination diet – cut everything out of my diet for a few weeks and then gradually add certain foods to see how my body responds. I started doing some research on the subject, and it’s not pretty.

MindBodyGreen.com says the elimination is no gluten, dairy, eggs, soy, fast food (duh!), or alcohol for 23 days. Oh, and it says, “Don’t freak out… it only takes a few extra minutes a day to prepare your food.” I don’t know what planet they’re living on, but cooking at home takes a hell of a lot longer than eating out, believe me. Anyway, I’m cutting fat, caffeine, sugar and corn as well. It doesn’t leave much to work with. As of tonight, this is the short list of ingredients that don’t appear to hurt me:

  • Quinoa
  • Lime Juice
  • Salt
  • Black Beans
  • Cilantro
  • Sweet Potatoes
  • Almond Milk
  • Olive Oil
  • Chicken

I really miss coffee though. I haven’t had any since the first week I was sick. Spike kissed me after having a cup this morning and wish he would have lingered a bit longer so I could keep the aroma with me. I’d try decaf except I’m worried about the fact that coffee both contains acid and causes your stomach to create more acid, which I really don’t need at the moment.

If I eat the wrong thing, I’m out of commission for 12-18 hours. Hopefully I’ll get a longer list of food tomorrow. I started a food log today. (Trying not to beat myself up for taking so long with that epiphany. I think I’ve just been hoping this will go away on its own.)

I’ll Never Be 30 Again

65 by metal steffi | DeviantArt.com

I’ve been sick. I’ve missed four days of work over the past two weeks, and my insurance-paid, western medicine doctor doesn’t have a clue. “All tests normal,” he proudly reports. I should be grateful, right? Nothing wrong that they expected.

What about the unexpected? We’re not worried about that? Guess not. Do I have food allergies? Apparently that’s not a concern unless I’m rushed to the emergency room.

Okay, I’ll just keep eating tasteless food and drinking clear liquids and hope the stomach cramps stay away. And people wonder why I see a naturopath. Western medicine is so messed up sometimes.

I prescribed myself some probiotics. I have to do something. I miss coffee. I miss salsa.

A thought occurred to me last night that often occurs to me when I’m suffering: “I’ll never be this young again.” It sounds like a downer idea, but it actually puts a lot into perspective, and it’s oddly motivating. The longer I live, the harder an illness is likely to be. The longer my lifestyle lends itself to being physically sedentary and irresponsible with my diet, the longer it will take to fight off infections and viruses.

I feel old, and I don’t have to.

Please Stop Asking Me This Question

Infertility Awareness
Infertility Awareness

Someone asked me again this week if I was going to have children of my own. Actually, three people have asked me that in the last week and a half, and it’s making my head spin.

I think most of us can agree that it is socially unacceptable to ask a woman if she’s pregnant. She could simply be overweight. She may have had a baby recently. It’s a risky question, and highly capable of offending her, so we don’t ask. Somehow though, “Aren’t you going to try to get pregnant?” seems to be a free-range question. It’s just as personal, just as loaded, but the insensitive nature of that question is completely lost on a majority of the populace.

Did you know that up to one out of four pregnancies (yes, 25%) ends in miscarriage? Did you know that, about one in ten (yes, 10%) of women in the United States have difficulty getting pregnant or staying pregnant?

Why don’t we have an Infertility Awareness Day? Oh, wait, we do! Actually, it’s National Infertility Awareness Week, and it starts tomorrow. (I doubt anyone is going to believe such a coincidence, but honestly, I didn’t know that when I started writing this.)

Here’s the thing: I understand the question is just idle curiosity. It rarely comes up during a deep conversation. It usually plants itself around the time I’ve finished discussing the weather with an old acquaintence. “Oh, so you’re raising your goddaughters. Are you going to have any of your own?”

Just like that.

It makes my heart drop and shrink and hide, but to save the person’s feelings and avoid an awkward situation, I smile and prattle about how nice it will be to be making great money with the kids already grown and moved out by the time I’m 40. That’s the story I tell, and then I listen to them tell me how great that sounds, as if they’re jealous. But it’s only half the truth.

The other half of the story is so saturated with pain and anguish and doubt, it has no place in the middle of light-hearted catch-up session. But it’s there, eating away at me while they finish telling me about their new boyfriend, or how they started a new job. It’s there while they tell me about how adorable their baby girl was when she asked about the moon. The pain is in the back of my throat. It stings my eyes, but I wait to cry until I get in the car to drive home.

Here’s the other thing: I’ve done a lot of emotional and mental work to be able to handle that question this well. I can go to baby showers now. I can be happy for a pregnant friend. I can hold babies without my uterus lurching. I can rejoice in finding another purpose.

But I didn’t choose this.

My mom recently brought me some things she found while she was cleaning out the attic. My favorite doll was in one of the boxes. “My baby!” I beamed. Some of you might remember the My Child dolls from the 80’s. She’s survived a lot of love since then, including “a hair trim,” a worn-through chin, and having to wear a new outfit that doesn’t quite fit. Along with my baby I got a shopping cart and a purse with play makeup, everything a four year old would need to pretent to be “Mommy.” I always wanted to be “Mommy.”

I experienced one of the happiest moments of my life when I watched my sister come into the world. To this day, her nickname is “Dolly.” She was my baby, my pride and joy, the love of my life. She still is. I looked forward to motherhood more than I ever hoped and dreamed of anything in my life.

I didn’t choose this. It’s taken a lot out of me to stop hoping and dreaming of children.

Please stop asking me if I’m planning to have any.

Ostrich Grunting

In response to The Daily Post’s writing prompt: “Take That, Rosetta!”

Words are a force. If I could wake up tomorrow and be fluent in any language, it would be one that could incite government reform.

I don’t think I’ve ever discussed politics on my blog before. It makes me angry to even think about it. After I watched the presidential debate between Obama and McCain, I swore off following politics.

As an adult, I’ve never owned a TV, but I stopped reading the news then too. The smoke and mirrors made me sick with frustration, not just because of what they’re hiding, but because there’s nothing anyone could do about it.

The most well-meaning, moral, upstanding presidential candidate could never reform the country in just two terms. The bureaucratic nightmare waiting in Washington would never allow it. The nation needs a mediator, one that unites the people to demand reform, and one that can inspire the government to peaceably comply.

If I could speak the language that would accomplish all that, I would. Since I can’t, I’ll continue to to bury my head in the sand.

Reorganization Update

Simplicity by kuzy62 | DeviantArt.com

The reorganization of my over-abundant systems of organization is well underway. I hit a bit of a snag with all the synchronizing needed to compile an accurate task list and my calendar. I’ve nearly scrapped the whole thing a couple times because it seems more complicated than it should be, but there is something very powerful about breaking a task down into steps, which is what Toodledo can give me with Subtasks. I needs it in my life!

Continue reading Reorganization Update

Chicken Wrangling and the Art of Caregiving

In response to The Daily Post’s writing prompt: Mentor Me

In my third year of marriage my husband and I started going to a church that offered to match-up older couples with younger couples in the hope of sparking mentoring relationships between the wives and husbands. We met with the couple who were teachers and had three teenage kids. They were tall, both over six feet, and they towered over little five-foot-four me in stature and in wisdom. I was excited to get to know them. I’d never had a mentor before, and I was out of my depth to know how to be a good wife in the middle of dealing with infertility.

Vivian was a role model from the start. She cooked from scratch, she maintained a vegetable garden, and she kept chickens. She must have honed her no no-nonsense, get-to-the-point approach from her years in the classroom, but she was kind too. She lead much more than she pushed, but I didn’t find all that out until I moved in with her and her family.

My husband and I only met with our mentors once before a blind-siding day just before Christmas when the shit hit the fan and we separated. (Yes, this was my first husband.) Vivian’s family welcomed me with more than open arms. They asked me what color I liked and painted my room sage green to make it more my own. They invited me to eat dinner with them and watch “The Middle,” but they didn’t expect me to act like part of the family. They didn’t even ask me to pay rent.

I took care of their chickens while they were away one weekend, not very well. I didn’t “click” the door behind me when I went in to feed them and bunch of them got out. I swear, I was just like Link on Zelda’s Ocarina of Time trying to pick up chickens and throw them back in the pen. There I was, top of my class and I couldn’t figure out how to trap a bunch of flightless birds. It ended up being a lot more complicated than I though because, unlike Link, I couldn’t catch them!

The story of my chicken wrangling hour made everyone laugh. They needed to laugh, and I needed to hear it. I needed to know that I wouldn’t be a weepy wreck of a human being forever. And I wasn’t. Vivian and her family taught me that in the middle of a crisis, I could still be a functioning human being. I woke up early and went to the gym before work. I made pesto from scratch. I baked bread. And I cried as often as I needed to.

No one ever disturbed me when I was in my room. For three months it was my sanctuary. It was the time and place I needed to get a grip. Vivian taught me that sometimes people just need space to figure things out, and the most kind thing you can do for them is to invite them into a time and space that’s warm, welcoming, and nurturing.

Although they may not appreciate it at the time, that time and space should also have a light counter-weight of expectation. Notice I said counter-weight and not balance. Expectation is good for someone you’re caring for, but only as much as is needed to keep them from slipping away into depression. It should be enough to give them purpose, but not so much that they feel like they’re paying you back for your kindness.

I never felt indebted to Vivian and her family, which is possibly the greatest gift I ever received during that time of my life.

Debtor’s Dreaming

In response to The Daily Post’s writing prompt: “Afloat.”

It must be eight years since I first picked up Dave Ramsey’s book: Total Money Makeover. It was apparent to me that I knew almost nothing about how to successfully manage my money. At 23, I was paying my bills, but I had debt and nothing saved for retirement. I read through Dave’s book, started listening to the Podcast of his radio show, and I started dreaming of what it would be like to be one of those people who screamed “Debt Free!” on Fridays.

A lot can happen in eight years. I wish I could say I met my debt-free goal in my 20s, but I’m actually staring down more debt in my near future. Not much has changed, except that now I have something saved for retirement. Dave wouldn’t approve. “Debt-free before retirement saving!” he preaches. I’m not following the plan, so I shouldn’t be entirely surprised that I haven’t met the goal.

One out of three people working in the US makes more money than I do. In fact, that third of the population is taking home 70% of the total US wages. I’m not exactly unhappy about it. It doesn’t cause me stress or anxiety. On the contrary, I feel abundantly blessed to have my bills paid and money in the bank! I even take two-day vacations occasionally.

But it would be nice to be more than just “Afloat.”

In Need of Defibrillation

Stick Mustache by juliagarriott | DeviantArt.com

I’m unfocused. I don’t really know how else to describe it. I have a hundred things I need and want to do and I can’t decide what the priority should be. So like any reasonable human being, I’m not going to do a thing.

Continue reading In Need of Defibrillation

Celebration of Life, Not Death

Warning: If you prefer to continue celebrating Easter as you always have, DO NOT READ THIS. I’m serious. This may completely ruin your day, especially if you’re a Christian. Read at your own risk of messing with your current paradigm.

I’ve been a Christian for 25 years. I grew up in the church, but I firmly established my own faith in God at a very young age. I heard a parable this past year that’s completely destroyed the idea of an “Easter Celebration.” I may not be telling it exactly as I originally heard it, but it goes something like this:

Imagine a family at home playing games when suddenly their home is invaded my a sadistic monster. He’s there to kill everyone, but the father somehow convinces the sociopath to leave his family alone. While the family watches, the father is tortured to within an inch of his life. To make it worse, the asshole tapes the whole thing and posts it on the internet. The father eventually recovers, but the video goes viral.

Now imagine this. To remind his family of how he sacrificed himself to save them, the family watches that viral video every year. And every year the father proudly stands by while they all weep and thank him for his benevolent endurance.

Now who’s the asshole?

Ever since I heard this, I’ve been completely horrified at the idea of attending an Easter service or, God forbid, an Easter production where they reenact the crucifixion. Ugh… and then to listen to someone say, “With every head bowed and every eye closed, is there anyone that wants to ask Jesus to come into your life?” My stomach is in knots just thinking of it. I think I’m going to be sick.

It’s the most twisted, manipulative, cruel and unusual way to “honor God” I can think of.

While I’m ruining Easter for you, let’s clarify a few things. The invader is not Satan. He has no power over God.  He is not God’s antithesis. He is a created being. He tempted Christ to sin, but that’s all he could do. God does not have an exact opposite. He is perfect Light, and there is no such thing as perfect Dark. Dark does not have qualities that are all its own. It is only the absence of Light.

Sin is the enemy: Any act of free will that violates the will of God… the will of Love. It separates us from God because God is perfect Love and cannot be in the presence of imperfect Love without obliterating it. The only way for God to defeat this enemy was to “become sin” – to exist in a world where sin separated the creation from the Creator and to die as a sinner would… but without ever having sinned.

This is the “Deeper Magic from Before the Dawn of Time” C. S. Lewis illustrated so poetically in The Lion, the Witch, and the Wardrobe:

…when a willing victim who had committed no treachery was killed in a traitor’s stead, the Table would crack and Death itself would start working backwards.

The Table – the Stone Table in the story – represents the Law: The rules God explained to Moses so He, the Creator, could have relationship with his creation. When Christ died without sin, He defeated death and was resurrected. All that separated us from God was destroyed. No sin can keep Us apart. We are Whole again. We are Reconciled to the Creator.

But the world is fallen. Although sin is defeated, it still exists and all of creation is degraded by it. Until Christ returns to create a New Heaven and a New Earth, the Reconciled will have trouble. “But take heart,” Christ says, “I have overcome the world.”

I simply cannot liken this belief in God to the one of the benevolent asshole. They are so wholly different, that Easter has become a sickening reminder of how sadly we have chosen to show His creation how much He loves them.

So I’m having an Easter egg hunt with the kids today. Because it’s fun. I’m not going to stretch the truth and tell them we have eggs because it’s a symbol of the trinity. The plain and obvious truth is that eggs and rabbits are symbols of fertility, just like Christmas wreaths, and I like those too. I didn’t wake them up at five o’clock in the morning to attend a Sunrise Service, as if we’re worshipers of Ēostre – the goddess of the dawn.

I’m not going to celebrate Easter it by glorifying the crucifixion and telling people they should be grateful for it. Not any more. Easter is a celebration of fertility, not morbidity; it’s a celebration of Life, not Death.