Vertigo Vexation

My old friend, Vertigo, has stopped in for a visit. If you are blessedly unfamiliar, the best way to describe the sensation I experience is to take you back to when you were a child. Playing outside on front yards and sidewalks, a friend would spin you round and round while you scrunched your eyes closed, after which you’d open them and try to walk. Never played that? Growing up, my family lived in neighborhoods chock full of kids with whom my sisters and I spent long summer days entertaining ourselves for free.

Now, in the spinning game (not to be confused with spin-the-bottle), after the first few out-of-control seconds pass, you try ambulating but walking is much more difficult than you think it should be, made worse by certainty that the ground beneath your feet is moving. Everyone backs out of the splash zone in case someone tosses their cookies, and they dance around, making noise to further discombobulate. Your hands go out seeking stability, grasping at anything available. Maybe you do go down, reaping laughter from friends as you breathe easier now that you’re grounded. Dizziness wears off fairly quickly and the next kid gets a turn.

Of course, in real life, the unsteadiness, wooziness, motion, and loss of equilibrium don’t disappear after a minute; vertigo stays as long as it likes. The most recent bout I had lasted a few weeks, and noticing it gone can take a couple days until I realize I’ve made it to the kitchen or laundry room without fear of crashing into things or keeping one hand on the wall.

Vertigo is more than dizziness. It’s also a loss of balance. Getting a cup of coffee from the kitchen to where I set up base camp is to risk burning my hand or splashing coffee about the walls and floor if I go down. I did reach my daytime nest safely today but not before three calls of “whoa!” and nearly knocking my tray of supplies for the day (tissues, medicine organizer, notebook, etc.) upside down.

In Alfred Hitchcock’s film, Jimmy Stewart’s character actually has acrophobia, a fear of heights. Perhaps being up high in a bell tower and looking down induces vertigo for him, or maybe Hitchcock thought “Vertigo” made a sexier title than “Acrophobia.”

Combined dizziness, loss of balance, and resulting nausea lands me in a dysfunctional spot. More than any other symptom, vertigo disables me all on its own, regardless of what else is going on with me. Widespread aches and pains debilitate based on severity and location, but I have acetaminophen, a muscle relaxer, or a mild anxiolytic (Not a benzodiazepine, although I have used them in the past.) to ease some symptoms. No treatment makes vertigo disappear. The most effective method I’ve found for dealing with it is keeping my head in one position when I move. It doesn’t cancel the effects of ongoing vertigo, but looking to either side definitely exacerbates the spinning and tilting. At times, it feels like terrible motion sickness, and then I employ Bonine, generic meclizine, which knocks me out.

As my husband prepared for his workday this morning, and now dealing with a fresh blanket of snow, I told him I was going to try to take a shower before he left. Then I said, “Correction. I am going to take a shower. I’m going to try not to fall.” Success!

Parent is Also a Verb 12/5/21

Photo by Hernan Pauccara on Pexels.com

Let your love shine through, no matter what the circumstances! When you bring a little snuggle bunny home, it’s not hard to love unconditionally. It has to be unconditional because your baby has nothing to offer except spit up and terribly malodorous diapers. Luckily, loving them up does not require a good mood at 3 a.m., in those months before they sleep through the night.

When little ones get mobile, especially once walking is sure-footed and they are spurred on by curiosity in addition to needing to test limits, you might well feel as though your script has been flipped by someone who has only made two or three trips around the sun. How did that happen?

It may feel as though you’re on the opposing side to your young one, but now I refer back to the need to avoid power struggles. (See “Parent is Also a Verb” PAV 11/21/21) If asked, you would probably answer that, of course, you want your child to grow up to be determined, self-confident, meeting life’s challenges knowing they’re capable and they’ve got someone in their corner, someone who always wants what’s best for them. Well, this picture begins to develop very early and continues to come into focus for the next couple of decades. One of the parent’s goals is a switch from disciplinarian to advisor, when asked, in the “child’s” early 20’s.

The way to avert face-offs with your toddler, preschooler, school-aged child, preteen, and teenager is to present choices. They won’t need to take power if they see that they have some. In the beginning, options should be limited; they should always be age appropriate. Instead of asking your preschooler what they want to eat, open-ended, tell them their choices are this or that. You don’t want to be a short order cook but, more importantly, giving them no limit of choice may be overwhelming, which they’re not developmentally able to recognize or communicate. This might lead to a kid who “only eats ___” or is otherwise a picky eater. New foods need more than a couple tries. It can take up to 15 times introducing something before a child likes it.

Food choice is just one illustration. Everyone has to offer choices with which they are comfortable. My sons are 19 months apart. My husband was self-employed in those early years, working from 6:30 in the morning to about 6:30 in the evening, six days a week. I did quite a few “snacky” dinners when it was just the boys and I. These consisted of something like cheese cubes or slices, crackers, carrots, and grapes or another fruit. I frequently chose not to wrangle two little boys on my own at the dinner table.

Clothing is an easy area for choices. You control what eventually ends up in your kids’ closets and drawers as long as you hold the funds and then you can trust them to choose what they want to wear on a daily basis, special events excluded. When my oldest son was potty-training the summer before he turned three, he took to wearing a pull-up on his head. As a stay-at-home mom of a two-year-old and a one-year-old, I couldn’t have cared less. When he wore a baseball cap on top though, it looked like he had a bandaged head. It was quite appropriate headwear when we celebrated one week dry with a ‘potty party’ at a fast food play area! To each family their own.

Yes, providing appropriate choices at each age and stage is loving your child. Google behavioral, cognitive, and emotional child development for the resource(s) that appeal to you. Now, maybe your parents just told you what to do, when to do it, and didn’t concern themselves at all with what you felt like. How was that for you? On the other end, we definitely do not want our child to sit in the family driver’s seat.

Did I ever find myself in the midst of a power struggle? With two little sons ganging up against me? You bet I did. More about those as well as the importance of consistent expectations and reasonable, logical consequences in a future post.

What has been an effective parenting tool or style for you? Will you try to be a parent like yours or something different, and why? What have you found to be most challenging in your parenting efforts?

Sara’s education and experience: B.A. Ed; M.S. Counseling; teacher grades K & 2/3, educator for childcare providers, training in Positive Discipline and Growing, parent educator, program director of crisis nursery, including parent support, staff management & training, stay home mom 16 years with two sons born 19 months apart, medical transcription for 10 years in order to stay home, substitute teacher grades K through 12. Blogs about a wide variety of topics on survivingsara.net.

Speaking My Peace

Mixed Messages

Can you guess which front porch sign I chose and which one my husband installed later? The first time a solicitor presented afterwards, he was surprised and a bit offended. Following a second salesman wanting to give an estimate for some service or other, my husband was really irritated. He’d planned to ask for a beer but hadn’t gone through with it. He would next time, though. For sure. Gonna do it. A couple days later, the opportunity arose. When the door opened, alas, it was a young girl selling cookies. 😆😆😆

I wondered, one day not long ago, what my house says about me. I’ve had current paint colors and decor for quite a while, but I used to be able to paint the walls myself; so, I don’t necessarily want to redecorate. I also don’t want my home to look like it’s frozen in time. I decided to go out in my front yard, starting there to walk through, viewing living and dining room, kitchen, bedroom, bathroom, and deck with fresh eyes. I wasn’t expecting my home to speak to me so clearly, well, not after the confusion of front porch signs.

My home definitely spoke to me and I was so pleased with the message of love communicated to everyone who enters. Wall colors? May ask my husband to clear cobwebs from corners of high ceilings but, as far as painting goes, I don’t feel compelled to add that to the honey-do list. Overall, I was pleasantly surprised and content with our home’s expression of love, both literally and figuratively. ♡

What does your home say about you?

Color Me Free

With 70’s hits playing the soundtrack of my life ages five to 15 and candles lit, I closed my eyes to relax, breathe, and meditate without calling it meditation. It took some time to settle and convince my dog this wasn’t a new game. I allowed memories to trip along and float by as music walked me through the decade.

Eventually, the mental parade slowed and I focused on my breathing, drawing in evenly and then allowing it to escape, long and low. At my most recent appointment for massage, the therapist asked me to demonstrate the relaxation breathing I employ. In and out, in and out. He commented that, instead of pushing the air to exhale, I need to release it naturally. Apparently, in order to fully relax, one should not force one’s breath. No idea why this type of thing doesn’t occur to me, but thankful my massage therapist reviewed and corrected. How often is one observed while seeking tranquility, after all?

Photo by Olya Kobruseva on Pexels.com

Once I calmed, my mind and my breathing, the mandalas appeared. There were several arranged in a pattern, moving around each other, but they were all black and white, absolutely no color involved.

Black and white mandalas? Then, the message arrived in my mind. “Let colors come in.” Well, that’s what I’ve been doing, waiting for colors to wash me free from fibromyalgia and depression. Reframing this, instead of standing by for my life to be rescued from a pallid, anemic existence, letting colors in may be more active than holding a place for them. Since then, I’ve painted with acrylics on paper and canvas twice, captured a photo of a gorgeous sunset viewed from our back deck, and shopped on Amazon for colorful, inexpensive wall art to replace the black, brown, and pale yellow complexion of my bedroom. I found a couple of items and added some considerations to my shopping list, more than I could use, because I continue to come across pictures in which I’m interested. Finalizing further decor decisions must wait until after Christmas because I’m currently supervising the display of outdoor holiday color, combining old and a little bit of new. Here’s to splashes, splotches, and sprays of color!

The End of the World As We Know It

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Don’t shake my hand or give me a hug. A cough or sneeze causes high alert. And just when you might feel as though you’ve got this down and we’re learning to live with the new pathogen, similar to how hospitals and people deal with the flu annually, along comes delta and, later, omicron. They’re going to have to start naming them like hurricanes.

Somehow, this deadly pandemic has ushered in a new public movement. We’ve experienced the Great Depression and the Great Recession, and now we’ve got the Great Resignation. For the first time in my lifetime, businesses are having a seriously difficult time finding and keeping employees. Across decades, boards of directors have kept their sights singularly focused on the bottom line, showing little concern for the ever-widening, obscene gap between front line pay vs management compensation. To see them paying well over minimum to attract and retain workers does my heart good.

The most puzzling societal shift I’ve witnessed is the worshipful attitude that tens of millions have lavished on a two-bit phony. I get that even the best of the press can be biased, and I’ve chosen to seriously curtail my intake of news programming. These devotees of the last office holder, though, were satisfied with their lone channel for infotainment and then they got two more. Now, they can receive further confirmation that the election was stolen, and they firmly believe still today. I’ve studied some history, enough to see particular politics carried in and washed out on waves. In the midst of the current currents, it’s hard to see our way to more civil discourse.

It’s important for me to keep in mind that almost everyone is unsure these days, with the whole world set topsy-turvy. I am not uniquely affected by doubts or insecurities, limits on contact with others, and a search for connection in this new age – and neither are you. We are all in this together, irrespective of which view we take.

Parent is Also a Verb 11/28/21

We don’t expect our babies to magically pop up on their feet and launch into breakdancing when they’re still taking wobbly steps, furniture surfing because they’re unsure. As they grow, we shouldn’t expect them to do chores or activities correctly if they’re not developmentally ready or we haven’t shown them how we want it done.

Calm, thorough information and training along with practice guided by a patient person who values the child and wants what is best for them, these are the ingredients of love and healthy communication. It’s an ideal, but one more likely to be approached if it’s defined and allowed to float through your brain when opportunities arise.

One example: Emptying the trash seems self-explanatory and trivial. Kids have seen you do it for eight or nine years; now it’s their turn. Let’s go with that. Announce to your child that taking out the garbage is their newest chore. Walk away. Don’t explain. First try includes spilled trash, some inside and some out. The bag is on top of a full garbage can, but not closed securely. The dog hurries to eat what he can grab because he knows he has a narrow window. Said dog grabs a sticky, messy wrapper and drags it behind the couch. You walk in from another room exclaiming, “What is this? Who made this mess? Get outside, Rover!” as you open the backdoor.

Your nine-year-old bops into the room. “I took out the trash!”

How easily could the mess have been avoided, so both of you are pleased with the results? Let them know they’re going to have a new chore. Have them watch as you lift out the full trash and put in a new bag. Ask them to carry it out to the garbage can. If they can’t carry it, they’re not ready for that chore. Next time, your child takes the lead and you’re there for assistance and moral support. When you’re both confident that the trainee is good to go, you’ll be able to say, “Please empty the trash.”

Repeat the model, train, practice, and independent ability cycle as the child grows and can handle new skills. And so, familiarizing yourself with ages and stages of development is crucial to good parenting and positive discipline. (Remember, the word ‘discipline’comes from Greek, meaning ‘to teach and guide.’) By taking an active role in learning about your child as well as exploring parenting styles, rather than assuming you’ve got it all figured out because you have lots of younger siblings or babysat frequently, you are loving and developing a strong attachment bond with your child, a crucial keystone in constructing a meaningful life as individuals and as a family.

Imagine you’re building a house. You draw up plans and meet with a builder. As he looks over your plans and photos of the site, he asks, “I see some sort of foundation poured here. You had someone else contracted before?”

You answer, “Oh, that. No. We were going to do it all ourselves but we’re having issues with cracks from freezing because it wasn’t deep enough to set well. There is a lot of water flooding up around the footings when it rains. Also, we chose a less expensive concrete to lower costs but it had some chunks in it when we mixed it ourselves by hand. That saved us a lot but it was so difficult. We were exhausted and only got a little over half done.”

When someone at the building company suggests you’ll need to tear out what you’ve done in order to make the home safe and functioning well, do you protest because you followed a coworker’s advice and your colleague in the publishing company is very intelligent? Perhaps you want to proceed without removing the unfit foundation, but the builder says you’ll have to find someone else. Another guy you met outside the home improvement store says he can finish the house as is. He explains he can leave holes through which the rainfall can escape. He’s sure you won’t even notice this for 15-20 years.

Likewise, setting a foundation for a life is best done with knowledge and attention. You can do it the way you see it done by friends and family, but the early childhood foundation cannot be torn out and replaced. You might think, “It’s just a baby or toddler. Parent, as a verb, at this stage is just about diapers and bottles.”

On the contrary, while you’re not expecting much from a baby or toddler, you are playing a crucial role in setting the footings and preparing the ground for the next steps. How so? Your infant/toddler thrives on predictability. In the first months, keeping a daily schedule and routine teaches your baby they’re safe. They can count on a caregiver reacting to their cries. Food and diaper changes provided regularly, teaches the child that they are loved, lovable, and their needs will be met. Future learning and confidence will be as strong as the foundation.

Sara’s education and experience: B.A. Ed; M.S. Counseling; teacher grades K & 2/3, educator for childcare providers, training in Positive Discipline and Growing, parent educator, program director of crisis nursery, including parent support, staff management & training, stay home mom 16 years with two sons born 19 months apart, medical transcription for 10 years in order to stay home, substitute teacher grades K through 12. Blogs about a wide variety of topics on survivingsara.net.

For resources on physical, emotional, and psychosocial development, Google child development for articles, charts, and books. There are printable pdf’s. If you select images, you’ll see many informative charts. Rather than providing links to two or three sites, I think people will respond differently to the colorful styles and layouts.

It’s a Chemical Breakdown

Our bodies are mostly made of hydrogen, oxygen, carbon, nitrogen, calcium, and phosphorus. How amazing that these elements combine in numerous and seemingly miraculous combinations. In the brain, researchers believe there are more than 100 neurotransmitters, chemical messengers of information. Eight of them are most common and include adrenaline, dopamine, serotonin, histamine and endorphins.

Major depression occurs when chemicals in the brain are out of balance in relationship to the receptors available. Whether neurons flood more of a neurotransmitter (chemical messenger) than is necessary or the release is too low, this unhealthy level may affect energy level, sleep, appetite, mood, and lack of motivation. A variety of medications address different neurotransmitters.

For me, finding the right combo of antidepressants to address what’s going on in my nervous system is a long slog of initiating what we hope will work, experiencing a therapeutic dose, and weaning off if it’s not effective. Ugh. I hate it. This is what causes me to procrastinate seeking treatment; this and locating a competent provider who is a non-alarmist. In the past, I was enough of an alarmist for both of us. Now, I need a prescriber who gets that I get what’s going on and want to get on with it. After a number of years, an antidepressant loses its efficacy and… don’t get me started.

When a devastating trauma drops you right in the soup, though, it seems to be injurious to the brain and nervous system beyond a chemical breakdown. Sleep, self-care, and medical treatment are essential to healing, but what to do when those steps are not sufficient?

Despite 30 years of dealing with major depression and general anxiety disorder, including years of treatment, and supplemented by my Master’s Degree in counseling, I treat myself as though how well I heal from mental illness is a measure of how hard I’m working at it. If I’m not recovering after two years, what must that say about me? I’m sure if I was following through on every piece of helpful information, I’d be experiencing great improvement.

How can it be that, although I can explain clearly how neurotransmitters affect mood, energy level, etc., I still blame myself? Why do I feel responsible? Well, friends and family have taught me over the years that I am too hard on myself, holding unrealistic expectations. Do I extend the same grace to myself as I would to a suffering friend?

I’ve restarted counseling with a new provider. We’re going to work on acceptance. I plan to be really good at acceptance.🤭

I See Dirt

A reliable indicator of mental health improvement for me has always been the ability to see dirt. In the depths of major depression, I couldn’t give a rat’s behind if housekeeping chores get done. Well, imagine what effect that has over the course of two years. My husband does the best he can but he’s got an overflowing to-do list, taking up the slack created by my chronic illness and pain.

Most days, I’m able to rinse dishes and put them in the dishwasher. That’s a far cry from cleaning the kitchen, but it’s definitely better than depositing plates, bowls, and cutlery so that a full sink greets my husband when he comes home from work. This occurs only with extreme pain episodes or when I can’t get out from under the heavy, wet blanket of fatigue. If my neurotransmitters start finding an effective balance, not only do I see dirty dishes but, suddenly, I see crumbs around the toaster, barbecue sauce splat on the stovetop, bread products straying from their box.

It is as though details come into focus and I am truly surprised by what I see. When I look around my bedroom, my clothes are crowding me. There are items at the end of the bed that I only wore once; I plan to wear them again… and maybe again. Mixed in are old clothes I wouldn’t want to wear even if they fit; these were in a donation pile, awaiting a bag. My husband doesn’t understand my system and they’ve been intermingled with the wear-agains. The hamper stands at the ready and I throw dirty clothes at it. The last clothing receptacle area is just outside the threshold of our en suite. Don’t ask why I shed clothes there before showering instead of using the hamper six feet away. I don’t know. Depression think is a shape-shifting animal all its own.

Now, though, upon seeing what I’ve adopted as a way of operating, I initially feel so bad for my partner. He’s not once pressured me, not about cleaning, not regarding groceries, meal planning, or cooking. I do what I can before my mid back cramps painfully, some days doing more than others. Next, it is clear that I must take care of all of this, starting now! Following years of trying to do more than I can actually handle and having my body react strongly, I put on the brakes. Being overwhelmed by chores needing attention leads to physical and mental shutdown. I remind myself to do a little bit most days. That’s all. And breathe.

I did find myself singing the past couple days as I puttered about the house. It’s almost like an out of body experience. The singing startles me. I smile at myself, knowing that serenading my dog with “You’ve got a friend” (James Taylor acoustic version) certainly backs up the sight of dirt.

I Love Ya, Tomorrow

Dear
Photo by Jill Wellington on Pexels.com

Dear Reader; Apply sarcasm or we could go with facetious. Could even be satirical considering some past posts I’ve done. You choose.😉 Personally, I’m going with unintentional satire.

Tomorrow, regardless of intensity of pain, how rotten the nausea or heavy the fatigue, I am going to:

  • Do 30 minutes of stretching like I did five years ago.
  • Take a shower & put on a little makeup.
  • Wear real clothes instead of staying in pajamas all day.
  • Eat healthy, substantial breakfast & lunch instead of waiting hours, when I feel “empty stomach” low-sugar sick, before I get some food in me.
  • Drive to the library to check out some books, even though I have books, many books, I really wanted to read & never have.
  • Walk my dog. (This one is imaginative frosting on top.)

Tomorrow’s pain doesn’t hurt as badly. Tomorrow, I’m not fatigued & my balance is fine.And all of tomorrow’s activities will not bring on a fibro flare. Gotta love it!

Photo by Jill Wellington on Pexels.com

Parent is Also a Verb November 21, 2021

The most important thing to keep in mind when parenting is making sure the message of love gets through. No matter the age or issue, whatever the looming consequences or agonizing disappointment involved, you are the adult. It’s important to guide your child, more closely for kids in their preteens and younger, but let them make age-appropriate choices. And love them through it all. In order for young people to grow up to be confident, grounded adults, they need to know they are loved unconditionally by family, the first group to which they seek admittance and belonging.

Now, how to ensure your kids know beyond any reasonable doubt that they are lovable and loved? From the early years through those strange teen years, do not engage in power struggles. Resolving a tug-of-war terminates with a winner and a loser; do you want your son or daughter to be a loser or will the parent/child relationship be skewed by you taking a loss? That’s a lose/lose proposition. You don’t have to display and exert power over your children in order to be a successful parent. And how exhausting, for both parties, to engage in continual struggles.

Be on the same team. You’re the coach. You introduce and model decision-making, giving those little ones lots of practice. Do you want apple slices or crackers? Which book shall we read, this or that? The tiny seed of seeing themselves as having the ability to choose for themselves takes root. In the back of your mind, build in opportunities for your kids to make appropriate choices at all ages, starting where you are.

How do choices relieve power struggles? You’re giving them bits of power, allowing them to explore who they are. Additionally, like every good coach, you’re teaching the rules of the game, which change as the young person grows and spends more time on their own and with friends. Again, you’re not setting a limit once and then shouting it at him or her when they cross that line. You’re calmly explaining situations that may arise, because you know they will based on your own experience, and helping them apply critical thinking skills to different options they may face.

The most difficult aspect for me of the parenting verb was the part where you stand back and let them live a lesson. Remind yourself you’ve done your part, giving choices, setting limits with clearly defined consequences both at home and out there in the big world, communicating regularly through words and actions the unconditional love you have for them; now just be there regardless of which way things unfold. Breathe. Do it all over again.

  • First: Make sure the message of love gets through no matter what. This does not mean being a pushover or a “yes” person. It also will include allowing your child, knee-high or towering over you, to feel the pain that occurs in life.
  • Second: Empower your child by allowing them to make all age-appropriate choices. This is not a free-for-all. The number of choices per day needs to start out small, like the toddler, and grow in number and type as the young person goes through middle and high school. The plan is to give them more and more choices until they’re making them all.
  • Third: Avoid power struggles. Clearly teach the limits and outline consequences for violating them, communicating always that these are in place because you love them. Bring to their attention all of the choices they have and explain, unemotionally, that those are balanced with guardrails you set up to keep them out of situations they’re not ready for yet.

I’ll write more about those three tenets in upcoming posts, same title but different dates and pictures. Believe me, parenting is time-consuming and messy if you’re doing it right, no getting around it. If your family is so controlled there are no issues, you’ve got kids who want to express themselves and be accepted. I certainly don’t have all the answers, but I have some good ideas to share!

Sara’s education and experience: B.A. Ed; M.S. Counseling; teacher grades K & 2/3, educator for childcare providers, training in Positive Discipline and Growing, parent educator, program director of crisis nursery, including parent support, staff management & training, stay home mom 16 years with two sons born 19 months apart, medical transcription for 10 years in order to stay home, substitute teacher grades K through 12. Home now.

Strategic Existentialism

I’ve been running from myself so long, no wonder I’m exhausted. Two years into disabling illness, one ability hasn’t left me. I run in an unending mental marathon, but I can’t escape my broken mind and body. I’m with me wherever I go.

Because my perspective on personal circumstances has proved untrustworthy in the past, obscured by the scrim of depression, I’ve been trying to keep myself to myself. That phrase I hear frequently on UK television has resonated with me strongly.

Everyone who loves me has given up encouraging me to see a counselor; I’ve been without since my last counseling relationship ended disastrously. When that unhealthy, untherapeutic mess blew up, and I do mean blew up in spectacular fashion, in 2020, I was looking for someone to manage meds only.

Fast forward to the present, when many professionals are urging me to seek out counseling. For months, I haven’t had the energy to seek out anything, let alone initiating and coordinating care with relatively little information about the provider. Feels like I’ve got a blindfold on, hoping to pin the tail on someone who will competently and ethically assist me in clawing my way up and out of the sludge in which I’m mired.

So, I took a deep breath and dialed the number provided by my psychiatric clinician. And……I go on a 4-6 month waiting list. Whatever. I’m ambivalent at best. Two days later, much to my suspicious surprise, i receive a call from a therapist. Caught me off-guard, for sure. Additionally, she had lots of appointment times available. What did this mean? Two days vs four to six months? Choice of day or time? My counselor spidey senses stayed on alert. She’s probably brand new and, having a Master’s in Counseling myself, I’m really not sure about this.

Once I figured out how to join our telehealth appointment, my new counselor and I met and went through intake paperwork. When asked what my goal is for therapy, I answered, “I want a new perspective. I want to let go of who I was, stop grieving, and enjoy living here, this day, and look at the future without dread.”

As we wrapped up, she said, “What I hear is that you’d like to develop coping strategies and self-comforting techniques.” My counselor brain kicked in. The phrase “coping strategies” rang a bell. I’ve been so low for so long, waiting for a switch to flip and grant me a brand new, bright world, longing for my purpose to be visited upon me. Using coping strategies? So much less enigmatic. I can learn and apply lessons I already know but need to learn again. I can do this. Oops, there’s that. My can-do spirit. Need to remind myself, as I would a friend, I don’t have to do all the heavy lifting alone. I’m not in this by myself and I can let this unfold.

Mulling around in my mind, I consider perhaps there is no cosmic purpose i must discover anew in order to live a loving, meaningful life. Mindfulness, the ability to be truly present and engage sensorially, is one key for me. I recognize that it’s helped in the past. I see a glimmer of hope, a bit of color peeking at me through a tear in the scrim.

I do like my counselor. What a relief.

Parent is Also a Verb 11/17/21

Photo by Alexandr Podvalny on Pexels.com

In life B.C. (before children) I was trained in two parenting curricula in my capacities as a public health educator and, later, as the program director at a crisis nursery. So, in my late 20’s/early 30’s, I found myself teaching parenting classes to a high risk population, some court ordered. Having zero real life experience of my own. I wasn’t even sure I wanted to be a parent. Ever.

Having nearly a decade of teaching under my belt, including adult instruction in child development and positive discipline, I was confident I could teach the lessons effectively. Credibility, so participants would consider employing the new strategies, was something about which I was concerned.

Suffice to say, clients appeared to accept that I was qualified to teach based on my education and experience. I had the great fortune of teaching great parenting education over and over. This is the best way to really learn new material. And I was paid to do this!

Besides best practices for raising a child, I also learned that, for me personally, I didn’t want our kids to go to a childcare center. At 33, I birthed our firstborn. Next baby arrived the following year. They’re 19 months apart. I stayed home with them full-time, and I’ve had plenty of practice applying those parenting lessons.

After writing a parenting tip in a tweet, it occurred to me that I am in a good position now to blog ideas, strategies, and tips regarding child development, discipline, & parenting. These posts will share the same title but dates and pictures will differ.

So, for today, besides pointing out that parent is both a noun and a verb, I’d like to introduce the true meaning of discipline. It is derived from the Latin word discipulus which means to learn. Unfortunately, in our society, discipline has become synonymous with punishment. When you change your focus to a more positive approach to communicating with and relating to your child, think of guiding, training, educating, instruction, and knowledge. I’d like to add playing and reading with your kids.

Photo by nappy on Pexels.com

I’m very excited to start blogging in a new area. Parenting blog posts will be published frequently but in rotation with other topics. Feel free to share my blog if you know someone who wants help. If you have questions, please post them in the comments! Remember, title will stay the same; pictures and dates will change.

Les Vents de l’Amour

Photo by Mitch Kesler on Pexels.com
I see your love, like I see the wind.
Just as the wind floats a leaf on a gust or 
sails a flag,
I see your love as I read your sweet messages or catch you smiling at me when I didn't know you were watching.

I sense the aroma and flavor of your love, like I experience the wind in my face.
Just as the wind carries the message that our neighbor is grilling or a warning that a wildfire is near, 
I breathe in the scent of flowers you gave me or the delicious meal you're preparing for me.
Photo by Taryn Elliott on Pexels.com
I hear your love like I hear the wind.
Just as I hear leaves rustling and evergreen branches imitating the sound of ocean waves,
I hear your love when you say my name with a smile in your voice or ask me if there's anything you can do to ease my pain.

I feel your love like I feel the wind.
Just as I feel a gale push me down a path or a draft brush across my skin,
I feel your love as you hold me tight while I cry and when you gently massage away the pain, again and again.
Photo by RODNAE Productions on Pexels.com

Through the Wringer

What a week it’s been. Whew. Over the last several days, excruciating pain plus symptoms of shaking, temperature dysregulation, sweating, nausea, vomiting, confusion, and uncontrollable tears have wrung me dry.

A week ago, following a tooth extraction by an oral surgeon, I was in bad shape; I did have oxycodone prescribed and it helped, a 5-day course. A strong non-steroidal anti-inflammatory drug was also part of recovery meds. I chose not to tell the surgeon I’ve been told not to take NSAIDs. Monday of this week, I finished those scripts. On Tuesday, serious pain, worse than most daily fibromyalgia pain, began to spread from head to toe.

The area on the left side of my head was understandably painful; the removed tooth was an upper, left molar. But the level of pain was through the roof. My pillow felt like a concrete block, making relaxing quite difficult. Pain wrapped around the top of my head, so severe I wondered if I was heading into a migraine. The stars I see with a migraine never appeared. The other major site of pain was my hips and down my long bones to the knees. I sobbed into my pillow Wednesday night, overcome by pain and hopelessness. By the third day, both hips were burning despite use of acetaminophen. I asked my husband to take the day off to take me to a chiropractic appointment, which is something I never do. I used NSAIDS, although I’ve been told not to use.

The chiropractor released tightness all around but most especially in my glutes. I was pleasantly surprised by the relief I got. He also strongly recommended I see my primary doctor because he was unable to say what caused, what he called, a “nervous system crash.”

Fortunately, there’d been a cancellation at my physician’s office so I was able to get in same day. We discussed the symptoms that had wreaked havoc in my body. When I reported that my chiropractor referred to what happened as a “nervous system crash,” I could see she considered his wording problematic and unhelpful. One cause I considered was use and discontinuation of an opiate. I did know I’d get a fibro flare after the oral surgery, but this was 9.5/10 and I didn’t know how to handle it.

The doctor said she was unaware of anything in current medical literature regarding major negative effects after short-term use of opioids for post surgical or injury related pain. If I was having such a response, she said, it would be very unusual. In her opinion, I was most likely experiencing a severe fibromyalgia episode following the tooth extraction, and oxycodone had masked that while I was taking the opiate.

Whatever the cause(s), she asked me what I wanted to do about it. She’s like that. She doesn’t assess what’s happening and offer treatment modalities that she thinks would be appropriate. I told her if I had the okay to take ibuprofen, though it’s an NSAID, along with acetaminophen, I felt like I could handle the pain, following relief achieved by chiropractic care. Of course, I’m used to pain. Next week, I’ll see the chiropractor again and receive a regularly scheduled massage.

Modern wringing appliances do the same thing as the old but are easier to use. Medical community reacts to and treats chronic pain, and fibromyalgia in particular, much the same way they have for years. I’ll “take two pills and call in the morning.”

Seriously, we’re going to see how things go through next Wednesday’s massage therapy. If pain increases again to sky high levels or if I don’t feel some good measure of relief, I’ll phone my primary practitioner. Staying relaxed and allowing things to settle are my main concern. As we wrapped up, she noted, “Your chiropractor released something.” First time for everything, including an MD appreciating results of chiropractic care! I don’t know what caused my body to be fed through a wringer, but it was a scary, excruciating process. Tumble dry? Been there, too.

p.s. If you’d told me back in the day that in my 50’s I’d be walking on the wild side by taking Advil as well as, gasp!, drinking a mini rootbeer, I would’ve laughed my ass off and had a shot with you!

It’s Just Me

Wow, I’m having a tough time. I first was thinking I shouldn’t write this. Why put this out there? Wah, wah, wah. But then I thought that mood is how I’m feeling, and maybe there’s someone out there who would feel even a little less lonely if I publish a post reflective of my difficulties.

I’m sure a great deal of my pain & melancholy are rooted in my recent tooth extraction. (See what I did there?😉 Gotta grasp that weird humor when I can.) Jaw pain worsens throughout the day some, just enough to really bug me. That pain radiates up the side of my temple as well as down my neck and across my shoulders. These are always trouble spots but super tight, all at once, since surgery.

Now, I’m in a fibro flare. I’m writing this from inside my brain fog, so it takes forever. Apologies for mistakes. A friend once said that crying for me is like turning on a faucet, and the water is flowing. Hard to talk without tearing up. Severe pain alternates hips and leg bones daily.

I will breathe. Blessedly, that’s all I have to do today. Maybe go out to the mailbox. That’s it. Nothing much. I’d say I’m not myself today, but that would be untrue. It’s just me.

Thanks if you read this far. I cannot figure out what I mean to say. Seriously. I just hope you’re able to find a little of what you need today.

A Message from Above?

Photo by GEORGE DESIPCRIS on Pexels.com

Just a newsy update: Following a necessary extraction of an upper molar, my body is in a full fibromyalgia flare. Given the surgeon said the tooth seemed to be seated in concrete, safe to assume the lower and upper jaw was traumatized. Pain and tightness cover my neck, temples, shoulders. In addition, a current fibro symptom is trembling in such a way I think I may end up on my tush or drop whatever I’m carrying.

Dietary needs that are part of the solution instead of the problem have taken priority over changes I’ve recently tried to incorporate. Most days in the past week, dinner has been milkshakes and fries. Regular snacks include Ginger ale with ice, protein drinks, oatmeal, cream of wheat, you get the idea. Oh, and biscotti. My husband made delicious blueberry pancakes this morning. They don’t require a lot of heavy duty chewing.

That bright line of sugar has definitely been crossed many, many times. What are ya gonna do? Will I work my way back now? And then… the answer appeared out of nowhere. I wondered if it was too good to be true, but it seemed to hold. My husband weighed himself and the scale broke! It now says we each weigh 12 pounds. Perhaps it’s the energy of the universe releasing me. Yes? No? I’m not sure what I’m going to do, but who am I to ignore this important sign?

I chose the picture above because it’s awesome, literally, naught to do with this post. Here’s another.

Photo by James Wheeler on Pexels.com

Is There Bonus Pay for This??

How the surgeon describes the extraction beforehand.

Don’t get me wrong, I’ve had my share of fillings, root canals, crowns, extractions, etc. This past Tuesday, I underwent removal of an upper molar, and the aged oral surgeon’s hands shook.😳

No sedation provided by this guy. He does extractions with serious local numbing. Less risk. My prior extraction occurred while I was in the twilight. Holy crap! The drilling, pushing, pulling, and chunks of tooth coming out one by one was a rough ride, indeed.

According to the oral surgeon, this tooth must’ve been set in concrete. Boy, it sure felt like that. Three roots, instead of two, with the longest one resting against the bottom of my sinus caused my dentist to refer the extraction to a specialist. Very few oral surgeons in our area take my particular insurance. So, shaky hands, no sedation, old dude it is.

As uncomfortable as I was being fully aware, though numbed, during the process, the aftermath has been worse. I have a swollen face and black eye. Today, 48 hours since surgery, I’ve had nausea and vomiting along with severe fatigue. Ate and held a piece of toast down just now. Hoping I’m through the worst of it. The thing with fibromyalgia is that it complicates any other event, illness, or procedure.

If I were to put the numerous pieces of tooth under my pillow, would I get a pay out? Alas, no. Oh, would that there was a tooth fairy available to adults who go through a difficult removal.

The Long Weigh Down

Photo by Susanne Jutzeler on Pexels.com

In early October, at lunch with my mom and sisters, we discussed Bright Line Eating. I’d never heard of it but one of my sisters has had great success with it. (See post ‘Bright Lines’ from October 6, 2021.) This is an update on my weight loss efforts.

When I lamented about the rollercoaster effect of regularly standing on the scale, both my sisters recommended weighing myself just once a month. In the early days, I looked forward to eventually reaping the reward of my hard work, wondering how many lbs I’d shed. As November 1st loomed large, my wondering anticipation changed to dread. “Please don’t let me have gained weight!”

Admittedly, my eating habits did not conform completely to the bright lines of no flour, no sugar, 3 meals a day, and weigh everything you eat. Right away, after trying to enjoy my coffee with no creamer, I knew I’d need to make allowances. For the most part, I did exclude flour and sugar as well as sticking to three meals a day with no snacks. Fortunately I purchased the least expensive food scale available, because I haven’t used it once, yet. Another issue on which I’ve taken a pass is 22 ounces of veggies a day with much less fruit. I include both on my plate but I prefer berries, apples, and bananas, so I’m sure I exceed the recommended quantity of fruit and fall short of the vegetable goal.

All was well until this week. Halloween candy remained in an unopened package and I did not breach the seal early. Once opened on Halloween, however, I did help myself to chocolate candy for the first time in four months! Must say, it tastes much better when eaten rarely, as opposed to shoveling handfuls in one’s mouth daily. Celebration of my oldest son’s birthday, which is the 31st, included a diner breakfast. Mine, a Hot Mess (on the restaurant menu as such) was slathered with Hollandaise sauce, but this is a tradition. What’s one to do?

Scheduled weigh-in occurred this morning. Drum roll please………

I lost 1.2 pounds. 😆😆😆😆😆😆 Seems like molting a few feathers at a time!

Although I’m tempted to ditch efforts at weight loss, which have been sluggish at best, I wonder what the numbers would’ve been if I hadn’t made adjustments. I’m going to continue the efforts most effective for me: 3 meals, no snacks, serious boost in fruit and veggie intake, and avoiding most flour and sugar. The next weigh-in is going to occur on December 1st. If there’s more than a one-point change, I’ll let you know.

p.s. Re: the magic pill – I continue to take two daily. Increased energy has been experienced on a couple days but fibro and depression fatigue complicate this picture. The fat isn’t melting off yet. I’ll keep you posted if it seems to have a noticeable effect in the future. At this point, I’ve been taking Glucofort for just a little more than two weeks.

Lone Goose Blues

Canadian geese have been migrating overhead for a few weeks by now. In the past 20 years, I’ve not seen or heard many lone geese. Yes, there’s frequently a straggler in the V formation and I’ve become familiar with the adolescent rebel straying out to the side, as if to say, “Hey, look at me, guys!”

This fall has seen a few solitary geese. I felt really bad for each, imagining it lost, confused, honking loudly, desperate in its search for its particular family.

Good news, people! No need to be troubled. It’s not unusual at all for one of the big birds to find itself without a gaggle. It takes to the skies, yes, communicating loudly to other geese in the area and they join up. Just like that. A new community welcomes the lone goose or gander. What a relief.

Something else came through, though, as I sought to understand if a lone goose was in distress, having found itself away from its tribe. When one of its kind is injured, sick, or dying, that bird is not alone. Two or three geese stay with the weakened friend until it either gains strength or dies. In the case of a death, the companions hang out a while and then look to find a new V. Sad, but sweet.

Fall is definitely my favorite time of year, and the traveling geese a treasure.

After the Ink

Reggie drew up a beautiful tattoo for me, not as uptight as the original little bouquet of wildflowers I considered but not as loose and abstract as Chihuly glass.

(He did keep moving his mask up & it kept sliding down. They had good “mask required” signage. Everyone in the shop wore them, including customers.)

The actual tattooing took a little less than an hour-and-a-half. I don’t mind the feeling of receiving the ink but, man, that lavender on the shin bone made me cringe and breathe deeply. Reminding myself of pain borne while birthing a baby, this paled.

When I sent a picture of the finished artwork to each of my sons, they both remarked that it was pretty and asked if it hurt. I said to my eldest, who will be 24 on Halloween, “It was nothing compared with the doctor trying to turn you while you were still inside me.” For the 22-year-old, “It was nothing compared to birthing a 9 pound baby – you!” I crack myself up sometimes.

Reggie used an after-tattoo covering that he said is fairly new. It’s called Saniderm. Just saw that they have it on Amazon under wound care and tattoo aftercare. It’s used in burn units, providing second skin healing, and to cover sutures or staples to keep them free of infection. I’ll leave that on for 4-5 days. It’s supposed to heal 30% faster and skip the stage when scabs may form.

I am relieved the process lasted only an hour and 45 minutes from check in to paid and out the door. I’d taken a muscle relaxer and Tylenol ahead of time. Even so, walking was quite difficult due to stiffness and poor balance. Lying on my bed at home was wonderful. Today, I’m pretty sick and there are many sites of aching or sharp, shooting pain. I’m not even trying to put laundry away or empty the dishwasher.

Suicidal thoughts yet pass through my mind, so I was thinking maybe it would be hypocritical to get a permanent reminder that I choose life. My husband assured me that I’ve already chosen life many, many times. Yes, I have, and the evidence is that I’m still breathing.

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