Reminders

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The plan was to spend a good part of the day on my book. Having looked forward to this day off from work for a week, I mulled over phrases and thoughts from where I left off last time.

I woke up early, ready to take on the day. Sitting up to get out of bed, I took a deep breath and expanded my chest, startled to feel chest pressure and heaviness. Moving forward with usual morning things, I waited for the chest pressure to go away. And this is how the day went–waiting for chest pressure to go away.

Rarely do I have a full day like this anymore. I have figured out it seems to come during times of stress and, therefore, I try to avoid getting worked up or feeling stressed out. But, of course, in life this isn’t always possible.

Or, chest pressure comes when something really bad is going on with my heart. So my worries on Thursday were, Is it extreme pressure? Are my hands sweaty? Does my jaw hurt? Monitoring symptoms takes vigilant energy. My symptoms were relieved when I sat down and rested, so most of the day was spent resting. And being frustrated.

My brother called that evening and sensed something in my voice; he asked if I was okay. I told him I had felt crummy all day. He said he felt crummy the day before, like he was getting the flu. But with extra sleep and a new day, he felt better. “But,” he said, “I have the luxury of feeling sick and not worrying about it.”

This is the chronic part of my heart and vascular disease. Symptoms and extreme fatigue pop up, without regularity, as if to say, “Don’t forget, I’m still here.” I feel a bit sorry for myself, frustrated over the lack of energy and mental space to even work on my book. A day lost. A day sick.

These reminders come, always unwelcome, but usually with a lesson or a positive outcome. This day of rest reminded me of how grateful I am to feel well most days. More good days than bad is a good thing. And now I have plans to work on my book one day next week. Some of the thoughts and phrasing may be different, and just may be better.

Make is a good week!

 

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The Thin Line

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In the movie, “The Second Best Exotic Marigold Hotel,” one of the lines goes like this: “It seems as if the space between my dreams and my fears is nothing more than the width of an eyelash.”

The woman who said this was referring to her deepening love for a new man in her life. The fear of love was keeping her emotionally distant from him. She did not want to risk opening herself up to the hurt that often comes with love, but, yet, it thrilled her to be with him.

I love the image of the width of an eyelash, a thin line between dreams and fear. It is a universal experience to which we can all relate.

Right now this sentiment is true for me about my book.

My memoir, for the past four years, is the thing in my mind, after which, my dreams will come true. I have given it the power, in my mind, of being the pivot point after which my world will change. I’ll be rich and famous, or healthy and totally together… or… perhaps nothing will change? Fear of success and lack of success are equally powerful.

Now that I am close to finished with the edits suggested by my editor, I realized recently I seem to be stalling. When I finish these edits and get one more official proof, the hard work of publishing, marketing, and getting it out into the world is on.

Realizing that I am stalling, though, has been freeing. It is up to me whether or not I finish the book, and I decided that the risk of my life changing or not changing is better than a future of what if? I am committing to pushing through, finishing the edits, and hiring the proofreader. I will open that new door and see what lies on the other side, no longer allowing fear to win. When it’s done, readers, you will be the first to know!

Make it a good week!

The Guilt of Illness

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Some of the most profound experiences come in unusual places. Last weekend I had the opportunity to attend the PGA tournament in Wisconsin. Can’t say I am a huge fan of golf but I was excited to be out on the course and watch the pros. Michael and I traveled with my parents on this weekend road trip.

Unfortunately, it was extremely hot (I later heard it was 94°F with a “feels like” temperature over 100°) in the mid-afternoon. It seemed the golf course and planners were unprepared for the demands of thousands of people in such extreme heat. There were not many concession stands; those available had long lines with long waits, and some actually ran out of water.

I was one of what must have been well over 50 people that day who experienced heat exhaustion. I know I am not very tolerant of heat. Some of the medications for my heart and blood pressure make me very heat sensitive. I was also unprepared for the golf course, the amount of walking, and unexpected lack of indoor facilities.

It is the fault of no one and, thankfully, I did not pass out or worse. But I ended up in the medical tent for over an hour. My blood pressure remained stubbornly high. I was nauseous. The volunteer physician treating me was kind and compassionate, and seemed very concerned. With my history of heart attack and artery disease, he felt I needed to be checked out at the hospital emergency department. I needed IV fluids, and they could not do that in the medical tent.

In the ambulance, a young, friendly paramedic started an IV to put fluids into me. I told her I felt really bad for my husband and parents; I had ruined their chances of fun for the day, and was causing a lot of worry—again.

The paramedic responded, “One thing healthy people don’t understand is the guilt that comes along with being ill.”

I could only nod as I let this profundity settle in. I had never thought of this as something common to many (most?) people with an illness.

I thought about all my trips to the emergency department over the past six years. Each time, I have apologized to my husband, family members or friends that are with me. I feel terrible for their worry. I don’t like to be the center of attention or to inconvenience others. I don’t like to be the cause for a change in plans. I don’t like the expense that comes with having a medical dust-up.

Each time I am being treated in an emergent situation, I worry about my family worrying about me. I know I am okay. I am with the medical people and know exactly how I feel. But those waiting in another room don’t know, except for the occasional update which I usually ask a medical person to provide.

I feel guilty for the ongoing accommodations my husband makes: lifting anything remotely heavy, being sure I am not too cold or too hot or over-stressed. Being willing to change plans when I don’t feel well. He does all of it very willingly and I feel fortunate to have him. I try not to take him, or his willingness to accommodate my medical peculiarities, for granted.

If you have been ill, chronically or short-term, have you felt guilty? How did you handle these feelings?

I imagine the guilt of illness is common because none of us wants to be the cause of distress for our loved ones. We feel bad for causing them to worry. I wonder if it is just natural.

Last weekend, after two bags of IV fluids and some potassium, I was good. No problems since then. Chalk it up to being unprepared for the conditions of the day, and the gift of understanding a new layer of living with a chronic medical condition.

Make it a good week!

It’s the Little Things

The usually quiet dirt road was busy with cars, 4-wheelers, and various farm implements passing by. People riding bicycles or walking with their lawn chairs and strollers in tow, passed by dressed in red, white, and blue garb. Everyone smiled.

The parade line-up was just a few lots down, so we were some of the first spectators to wave and cheer in exchange for candy, beads, and key chains tossed at us.

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The route of this annual 4th of July parade goes around the dirt road encircling Clear Lake, the home of my husband’s family cabin. Each year, we, whoever is at the cabin, haul our lawn chairs out to the road to watch the 4th of July parade.

I love parades. As long as there are not clowns (most are scary!), I love a good parade. Part of the fun is to see what people consider to be parade-worthy.

Cities around the USA hold parades and huge fireworks shows at night to celebrate the birth of our nation on this holiday. People have cook outs and get together’s with friends and family.

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At yesterday’s Clear Lake Parade, I noticed how the people on floats, in their collector cars, or on a piece of farm equipment, looked so proud and happy. This parade draws people from nearby small towns all around, and the little things are important. Everyone seemed excited.

It is in the little things that we can find so much joy. And, unfortunately, sometimes it takes a reminder to remember this.

In this culture with all the gadgets, apps, and cool stuff to occupy our time and our minds, it is easy to forget about the world outside that isn’t dependent upon an app or a gadget.

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I am grateful that I saw this year’s parade and spend the weekend in this small town. I noticed excitement in the air, joy on faces, and people cheering, running to grab candy from the road. It felt like a throwback to childhood, a simple 45 minutes of the good life.

May we all remember to notice the little things, and be on the lookout for them. You never know when a little joy is right around the corner.

May it a good week!