Tuesday, May 10, 2016

Gonna be a Crazy Month!

Ever since I quit working . . . OK, let's stop right there. Quit working just sounds so . . I don't know, like I just decided one day that I didn't want to work. How do I say that I stopped working because I was hurting all the time? That's pretty wordy. Now that I'm approaching 50 (but still only 48!), I could say I retired. I don't like any of those. Let's try again.

Ever since I left the practice of medicine due to illness (wordy, but precise), I've tried to keep life a little more simple. It's hard to make firm plans when I don't know what kind of pain I'm likely to have on any given day. Homeschooling was a godsend for us. We didn't have to work with the school's schedule; we made plans that worked for us. Even when Wild Man joined choir as well as band, it was just a few extra concerts. I've missed the occasional concert over the years, but the kids are understanding.

The next month, though, is just ridiculous. We have graduation, dance recital, graduation party, going home dinner, my parents visiting, and I'm sure a few other things. Somehow, I have to remember to breathe. 

Literally breathe. Meditation is one of the things that I do almost every day. When I have a bad migraine, my meditation is short. Otherwise, I do about 20-30 minutes of meditation and prayer. I start with the Lord's Prayer, then the Gloria Patri, then the Jesus Prayer for several repetitions and then everything backward. Then I just chat with God. Then I meditate on a piece of scripture or a prayer.

Other than that, I am going to keep anything extraneous out of our lives. I'm going to cook simple things. I'll make some casseroles or multi-day meals. And I'll give myself some grace when the house is a mess or things don't get done because we're busy or tired or I'm headache-y.

This is a time for family and celebration. It's not a time for stress or perfectionism. We're going to love each other in spite of migraines and deadlines like God tells us to.

Friday, May 06, 2016

Tow Trucks, Sanders, and Jesus

I came across this article in the Huffington Post the other day. I wasn't going to write about it, but I posted it on Facebook. A friend commented on it and then I commented on his comment and my comment got so long and I just decided to write an entire blog post on it.

The basic story is this: A disabled young woman with psoriatic arthritis and fibromyalgia (she's got other illnesses, but those are most pertinent) was in a car wreck. After the wreck, someone was able to move her car off the highway so she was safe. The tow truck arrived, but the tow truck driver saw the Sanders sticker on her car and said that he was a conservative Christian and that he, in good conscience, could not tow her. He said that she was safe in her car with the air conditioning on while she waited for another tow truck.

Folks, this is what happens when we can pick and choose who to serve based on "sincerely held religious beliefs." First it was bakers and photographers for gay people, now it is tow truck drivers leaving disabled women on the side of the road for having different political beliefs. We're going back to Jim Crow, but based on whatever the heck we want. This is wrong. And, it's not Jesus-like. Jesus would have baked the cake, taken the pictures, and towed the woman's car. And more. Because that's what he tells us to do. (Matthew 5:38-48)

 And if anyone wants to sue you and take your shirt, hand over your coat as well. 41 If anyone forces you to go one mile, go with them two miles. 42 Give to the one who asks you, and do not turn away from the one who wants to borrow from you. Matthew 5:40-42

Jesus is telling his followers that if a Roman soldier tells you to carry his load for a mile (which they were allowed to do), that they should not only carry it a mile, but carry it for two miles. We are to do more than is required, even for our "enemies". (The Jews weren't exactly friends with the Romans.)

It's pretty clear to me, here that Jesus is telling us to do more than is required to be a loving neighbor. And to be loving to people with whom we disagree. In fact, to whom might even be our enemies. I don't consider Sanders supporters to be my enemies (my daughter is one!).

My friend commented the following: 

And the people that won't do concerts or do business in NC? How about the mayor on NYC saying don't go to Click Filet? Do they get a pass on this?

My response:

Traditionally, it is the purchaser of services that chooses to whom they give their custom. This allows for competition in the marketplace. For example, we tried to entice people to purchase yarn from us by carrying different types of yarn than the yarn stores in Appleton and Stevens Point. But, in this country, a public establishment, like a business, is not legally allowed to discriminate in who they serve, hire, etc. (Note: this applies to public establishments, not private. So, churches are exempt and are free to choose not to hire women, or those with whom they disagree.) A business that is open to the public is legally required (and I would argue, ethically required) to serve anyone to chooses their business.

When someone disagrees with a business's policies or stance on an issue, an individual or group of people can choose not to give their custom to that business. For example, the Southern Baptist Convention for years encouraged people to boycott Disney. Liberal groups have encouraged people to boycott ChikFilA. Conservatives are choosing to boycott Target. These are all legal and ethical ways to show one's lack of support for a business. No one can make you choose to shop at a particular business.

Yes, this is the opposite of businesses who can't choose who to serve. But, remember the sit-ins of the 60s when African Americans were lynched just for the right to be served in the same establishments as whites. Public accommodations are for everyone, no matter their race, religious beliefs, or sexual orientation. 

I can shop in any store I want. No one can turn me away because I'm a woman or a Christian. No one should be able to refuse to tow my car because I'm a Republican. The very idea of having to have a set of towing companies for liberals and a set for conservatives is laughable! It just reeks of Jim Crow! We won't stand for that kind of discrimination by race and we shouldn't stand for it for any other reason.

Back to the original post. A man used the argument that he should not serve a woman with whom he disagrees because he's a follower of Jesus. I just can't go there. Jesus was always hanging out with people with whom he disagreed. And there's no evidence that they always changed their ways and became his followers. He certainly didn't require him to become his followers before he would love them.

And here's a radical idea. That Sanders supporter might be a Christian!! Is it so hard to believe? The tow truck operator used one little bit of identification to decide that she was his "enemy" without talking to her or learning anything about her. Who knows?

In any case, as Jesus followers, we are required to live in this world. We are to be lights shining in the darkness. We can't do that when we tell people that we won't associate with them. We have to know people, talk to them, love them. We can't do that when we label them from a bumper sticker and then refuse them service.

And, yet once again, we are back to LOVE!! Jesus wants us to love people, whether we like them or not. And to love them practically. Even when it hurts. So go love someone!!!

What do you think about all this??

Monday, May 02, 2016

Rambling On . . .

This is the third post in a row about illness. Blah. I just don't have much else going on inside my head right now.

We've been very busy around here. Grandma has been here to see the Aladdin, the school musical. Wild Man had the starring role! So, of course, it was a busy weekend with three performances of the musical. And Wild Man turned 18 yesterday, although we celebrated on Saturday afternoon with chocolate cake and friends and singing! We went to UWSP last night to hear their choir concert since Rosie Girl is in the Choral Union. It was amazing, of course.

I fought a migraine through the whole weekend. I skipped the Saturday night performance of Aladdin to get some extra rest. Overall, though, it wasn't too bad.

The fibromyalgia pain is what is doing me in right now. I'm getting out and walking on the days that the migraine isn't bad, but I can still only get about 1/2 a mile. My calves hurt with every step. It was only a few weeks ago that I could do 2 miles without any excessive pain. 

The bright spot is that my antidepressants are working. As much as I hurt, my mood is staying pretty decent.

Other little tidbits of life: I knit on Fridays with another woman. She's in her 80's. She's been knitting since before my mother was born! But, her eyesight isn't as good as it used to be, so she has me cast-on stitches or pick up stitches or figure things out for her sometimes when I come over on Fridays. This week, she couldn't figure out the heel on some socks. I thought I had it sorted out, but when I was done, I only had 13 stitches where I should have had 32! Later in the afternoon when I was just sitting, I suddenly realized how to do the heel! I called my friend and told her to bring her knitting when I picked her up to take her to the play and I'd do them this weekend. I finished tonight with the correct number of stitches!!

This is certainly a well-constructed piece of writing! Talk about rambling! Well, I can vouch for the grammar at least.

Have a lovely night! 

Saturday, April 23, 2016

I Don't Like Being Sick

It's been a rough week. I thought I had a handle on my illnesses, but I don't.

I kind of understand migraine. I know I can't control how or when the migraines or going to hit or how bad they are going to be.

But, I thought I had some clue about the fibromyalgia. The flares usually only last a day or two and then I'm fine.

Not this time. Last Saturday I caulked the bathtub and I've been miserable ever since. All my muscles burn whenever I do anything. I'm unbelievably exhausted. PWM and I walked 1/2 a mile today and I was panting halfway through.

I suppose going to see Barry Manilow in concert on Thursday night didn't help my case. But, otherwise, I've been trying to balance rest with gentle exercise. (But, really, do you think I was going to miss going to see Barry Manilow in concert? Even if he is 70 years old?)

I don't like to think of myself as sick. When I was working, there was a prejudice against the diagnosis of fibromyalgia. It was called a "throwaway" or "garbage" diagnosis. Things are definitely changing. My current neurologist certainly believes it is real; he commented on studies that show parts of the brain that light up on fMRI during a fibromyalgia flare. Yay for really being sick!?

I guess I'm a little vain. I don't want to be sick when our society is telling us to be healthy and active. I shouldn't be spending my Saturdays inside reading a book or blogging. I should be outside, riding my bike or hiking in the state park or doing some other strenuous activity. I can't do that, though. Even if I were to manage some strenuous activity, I would pay for it dearly the rest of the week.

My counselor would have a field day with this. She would tell me that it's good to grieve for the life I used to have but that it's OK to be content with the life that I have. And we would pray. And Jesus and I already have an active conversation going about this.

Today, I'll practice contentment, although it's really not easy. Paul ended his letter to the Philippians by thanking them for their gifts and explaining how he was content in any circumstances because of God's grace.

11 I am not saying this because I am in need, for I have learned to be content whatever the circumstances. 12 I know what it is to be in need, and I know what it is to have plenty. I have learned the secret of being content in any and every situation, whether well fed or hungry, whether living in plenty or in want.

I wonder if I can practice contentment with ice cream? So, what about you? How do you deal with illness and things that interfere with life? How do you practice contentment? What kind of ice cream do you like?

Tuesday, April 19, 2016

So Tired . . .

I'm soooooo tired. I spent four years in medical school, so I thought that I knew what tired was. I mean, I would go days on not nearly enough sleep doing admissions and working in clinic.

But, I didn't really learn the meaning of fatigue until I developed chronic migraine and fibromyalgia.

The fibro came first with the poor sleep and diffuse body aches. What's crazy is that I was diagnosed at a time when I had a gym membership and was exercising regularly. A medication to help me sleep gave me significant relief.

Unfortunately, the migraines started escalating soon afterward. Once the migraines became chronic and I started having daily headaches, the fatigue kicked back in with a vengeance. I didn't know a person could be so tired without being sleepy.

Right now the fatigue is particularly bad because I've had a busy week. I've been cranking up the distance and speed that I walk to 1-2 miles at about 20 minutes/mile. I also re-caulked the bathroom (a whole 'nuther story but suffice it to say that there's mold and we're getting a new bathroom soon!) along with doing lots of house cleaning. Parts of my body hurt that I forgot even existed!

Now it's time to rest. I have a migraine today, which makes it a resting day anyway, but I had already planned for today to be a rest day. My achy body (from all the working which has flared my fibro) is telling me it needs a break. I did walk to the library to stretch my legs, but it's only about 1/3 of a mile.

God made us to rest. In the creation story, God rested on the seventh day and then He gave the people of Israel a commandment that they were to rest of the seventh day of the week. Even when we're completely healthy, we need some down time. And that's OK.

For those of us with chronic illness, rest is a necessity. And I'm working very hard not to feel guilty about it. It's perfectly fine to give my body what it needs. Today, it's to sit down and write and look at knitting patterns and read. I can pray and meditate and let God speak to my soul. I can listen in ways that I can't when I'm spackling the bathroom wall. And I can just be quiet.

What do you do when you just need to rest? How do you hear God? Do you prefer silicon or acrylic caulk ('cause I'm such an expert now)?

Saturday, April 02, 2016

What I've Been Up To - April 2, 2016

So, I've been away from my blog, as you might (or might not) have noticed. My absence was mostly for a trip with our exchange student daughter but then I needed a few days to recover!

Ashley and I went to New Jersey to meet check out things for next year's school year. That actually didn't take long, so we spent the rest of the time hanging out and shopping!! Here are the fun things we did!

  • Ate Japanese food. Ashley loved the sushi. I ate cooked food, but lots of new things. That's a big deal for me - I'm not an adventurous eater.
  • Got manicures.
  • Shopped at a mall in New Jersey.
  • Got Godiva chocolate!!
  • Went to Manhattan!!!
  • Almost froze to death in Manhattan! OK, it wasn't all that cold. But, we dressed for temperatures in the 50s, but it never got out of the 40s. I wasn't too bad after I got a pair of light gloves, but Ashley was cold all day. 
  • Walked from Central Park to Rockefeller Center to Times Square with shopping and eating all spread out.
  • Got to see St. Patrick's Cathedral.
  • Went to the M&Ms store!!!
  • Ate Korean food for lunch.
  • Saw and got jostled by a million people in Times Square.
  • Ate Chinese food in New Jersey on Saturday night.
  • Got up at 4am for our flight out on Easter Sunday.
  • Waited in a security line that seemed a mile long in Newark. And I got patted down because I'm apparently a security risk.
  • Missed our second flight in Chicago and had to wait for two hours. We were so tired and sore by this point!
But, we made it home and Ashley still had Monday off for Spring Break. I made it through the trip without a migraine, but I had one on Monday for good measure. But, now I'm home and am back into a routine. I think. So, my blog won't be nearly as quiet.

Tuesday, March 22, 2016

Taking a Walk

So, I took my walk today outside. For those of you living down South, this is a big deal! It is 50 degrees outside, perfect for a walk with a jacket. And I much prefer outdoor walking to the treadmill.

  • I thought I walked faster outside than I do on the treadmill, but today that was not the case! My pace was about a 26 minute mile. Indoors, I do a 24 minute mile and think that's slow.
  • I can't get away with not walking far when I walk outside. I walk a certain distance and then I have to get back!
  • There are a number of flower gardeners in our town and they have their beds ready and their rose bushes all pruned. Reminding me that I need to pull all the weeds out of my hostas so that I have a hosta bed instead of a weed bed this summer.
  • A plain silver panel van slowly passed me when I was in one of the less occupied parts of town. I was ready, though. I had my hand on my cell phone, ready to throw it so the authorities would know where I was when I was kidnapped.
  • The van passed me and I saw two (TWO) Better Business Bureau stickers on the back. Nobody who belongs to the BBB would stop and kidnap someone, right?
  • I passed the big Lutheran church in town while I was walking. I occasionally considering converting to a liturgical church just for the great art and architecture. I'm shallow, I know. Jesus is dragging me again.
  • It's the time of year for apartment rental again. Nobody ever evicts people in the dead of winter around here (I think it might be illegal, but it's certainly immoral), so they start evictions in the Spring. So, the great apartment swaps begin! Living as we do on the "apartment row" of Weyauwega, we are witness to this great migration. And, it appears to be beginning soon, based on all the rental signs that I saw.
  • The sidewalk situation in this town is convoluted, to say the least. Some streets have sidewalks. Some don't. Some sections of streets don't have sidewalks. On one street, it looks like one house just got rid of their own sidewalk, so I walk on the street around their sidewalk-less house. The yard looks nice, though.
  • I thought there was still a bit of snow in our yard, but I realized it's actually a bit of cotton. Why is there cotton in our yard?? I still don't know, but I hope it's from a Halloween costume. 
What do you see when you walk about your neighborhood? Do you walk often?

On a more serious note, please pray for all those affected by the attack on Belgium. Pray that there will be no more terrorist attacks. Pray for ISIS, that somehow their hearts will be changed to peace, and that this horrible war can end for everyone.