Stress, illness, and other matters

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Image from Pixabay

Once again I am recovering from a bout of illness. This time it was pneumonia. I am finally starting to feel better after three courses of Levaquin and a four day stint in the hospital’s ICU.

It started out as a high fever and headache. It wasn’t how I usually get colds so I thought that if I kept hydrated and slept that I would get well quickly. I was mistaken.

I went to a follow up appointment with my primary care doctor a week after coming home from the hospital. She did scold me. Apparently if I have a temperature over 100, I should go straight to the ER. I have done that before and didn’t receive the treatment that I needed. So I am wary. I am pretty sure I will try to do it myself once again for a couple of days before I give in.

What got my doctor upset is that she lost a family member at the age of 40 to pneumonia. I really do understand her concerns. I don’t enjoy going to the ER and having some ER doctor tell me that I came to the ER too early. Or even worse being treated with condescension. At least this time the doctor, and he was a VA doctor by the way, saw the danger to my kidneys immediately. He started appropriate measures while I was waiting in the ER.

I haven’t had too many good things to say about hospitalists, but the one that treated me recently at the Las Vegas VA Medical Center was smart and made sure I had good treatment. The nurses were also good.

This stint in the hospital reminded me that I am always on the edge. The stress I have been feeling hasn’t helped me to stay healthy. I have had personal stress due to illness and money. Plus yesterday when the world went crazy about Charlottesville and the two crazy groups clashing and hurting each other, I felt the stress. Plus in many ways these ideas of white privilege and white supremacy attack me and mine personally.

If you look at my family, we are quite diverse. I have full siblings that look Hispanic. One of my brothers  was in Saudi Arabia with work and he could pass as one of them. There are Native Americans in my family. So when I am told that I have “privilege” just because of my skin color, I laugh– I admit it is a bitter laugh.

I grew up in a cabin, sixty miles from the nearest town. My privilege included “no running water,” and “no electricity.” I’ve lived in a small trailer with nine other people before the birth of my youngest brothers. I have put ditch water in barrels, put alum over the top to settle the mud and dirt, then use the water to wash clothes by hand.

I have worked in a huge garden. We would grow enough food to feed us for the entire winter. Our growing season was about three-four months. I canned food for weeks. The work was brutal. I would sometimes light a candle so I could see what I was doing in the dark of night as I finished up the last of the canning on the gas stove.

I had to go into the military so that I would have the GI bill so that I could finish college. I received no scholarships and no loans. Still through shear stubbornness and grit, I received a college degree in English literature when I was 38 years old.

“Check your privilege,” I hear all the time on the ‘net. No, you check your privilege.

I didn’t have a TV until I left home. When we did have a telephone, it was on a party line. I bought my first computer in the early nineties and received my first cell phone in 2005.

My life hasn’t been easy.

We live in the richest era of all. We can buy our food and clothing. It is easy to get a place to live. We have computers and entertainment that fill our days. No matter our color or place in life, we have more now than in any time in history.

I am grateful for not having to make all my clothes, grow and can all my food, and wash my clothes by hand. I am grateful that there is medication that can keep my diseases under control. Fifty years ago any one of my conditions would have killed me by now.

I want you to know that all of us are privileged to have what we have and to have the leisure time we have now. My challenge to you is to use it wisely. Quit the scuffling and name-calling. Take advantage of the opportunities.

And as Ellen DeGeneres says every day– “Be kind to others.”

I’m in the writing chair

8a5d8-chickadee-2 After a little Facebooking, I am now squarely in my writing chair. I have a cup of coffee setting in front of me. The dog is asleep in her bed next to my feet.

Thank you Doris for reminding me that I need to write. Since the surgery, I now know that I need a thyroid hormone to keep stable. I’ve learned that I am anemic. So the last week I have been eating mushrooms, liverwurst, and Vit. C. I’ve noticed an increase in my energy. It’s not as much as I would like, but I am not falling asleep as soon as I sit down.

As an early birthday and Christmas present rolled into one, I bought myself a Kindle Oasis on Prime Day. At first I wasn’t sure if this little square thing would be comfortable in my hands. It was lightweight, but sometimes lightweight means badly engineered. I am happy to say that it is more comfortable to use than any of the prior Amazon Kindles, including the fire tablets. I can read inside, outside, and upside down. I can read sitting up or lying down.

Since I got it I have been bingeing. So that is my other excuse– I needed to fill the well. With all of the sickness and the thyroid business, my creative energy has been on the low side.

I hoped that music would help. Let’s just say I jumped into another person’s monkeys and circus. It ended badly for me. I am now staying away from circuses that I don’t initiate. I have to keep learning that lesson.

One thing that I noticed is that when I go towards anything other than writing, I head for another disaster. Since music was what led me to the last one, I now know that I need to keep that side of me satisfied. I have decided to start back with the community choir at the end of August. It will keep me pretty busy and I will have that performing need itched as well. This choir does performances twice a year.

Plus I will write. I am back to business again today. Time for me to make goals again… and to structure my day. I work better when I have some structure.

I noticed this with poetry when I was working in that medium. When I worked in structure, the poems would shine. It took a lot more work to shine outside a structure. So if I structure my time, it will allows my mind the freedom to soar.

Also, I will have to cut my social some. I am really enjoying being around certain people here. But, the more I socialize, the less I write. I wish I knew how to balance better.

Anyway– since I am finished with my “true confessions,” I am going to work on “She Called It, Wolf,” and very soon I will send it off to my reader.

Writing and anemia

digitalbrain.png I just read this article Anemia May Affect The Brain. No shit, Sherlock. Of course, if the red blood cells are low due to iron deficiency, medications, or other problems then of course the brain won’t work properly. The brain gets needed oxygen and fat from the blood.

The reason I am researching anemia is because the doctor finally named the reason I am feeling brain fog and fatigue. My hemoglobin seems to be in the low normal range, but my iron levels are deficient. She keeps asking me if I am bleeding internally. It can be extremely embarrassing to talk about the color of urine and fecal matter. It doesn’t point to internal bleeding. It does point to malabsorption.

Another article Linking Thyroid Problems, Anemia, Fatigue, and Loss of Cognitive Ability has convinced me that I need to get checked for iodine and selenium deficiencies as well.

I did feel better for about a week after I started to heal from the thyroid surgery. Then the boom lowered and I was back to fatigue. I know I am meandering a little. So my excuse for not writing this last week is because I am fatigued. The reason I am fatigued is because of anemia. The reason I have problems with thinking is once again caused by anemia.

I started iron pills this week. I’m hoping to see a difference in my cognitive abilities soon.

On the Eve of Independence Day

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As you probably know from what I have written here, I am a Veteran. I am also a widow of a Veteran. I am a child of a Vet and a granddaughter of another Vet. I have family members who died in WWII and are buried in Europe. You could say military service runs in my family. You could say that my family was patriotic and loyal to their country.

It makes me sad when I read that some groups are getting together on Independence day so that they can burn the US flag. It is done in the name of “free speech.” Why am I sad? Because the flag is a symbol of our country and our people. Because when I was in the Navy, every morning we would stand and salute the flag. It reminded us as sailors, soldiers, and airmen of the reasons we were in a foreign country. It was for our families, our neighbors, and our country.

It saddens me when a group of people intimidate others through violence and coercion. The most recent group being “Antifa.”

This was not why I joined the Navy. This was not why my family joined the Navy and Army in wars. We truly believed what it said in the Constitution. We truly believed that we are a “nation of laws.” No one group of people is more equal than another. We are equal as individuals.

I’ve heard the argument that to make everyone equal we need to become exactly the same. Bullsh-t. What makes this country wonderful is that we all have the “opportunity” to make something of ourselves. We can be free in word and deed.

If I am speaking a strange language, then I am sorry. I am sorry that you did not learn your “civil rights” in school. I am sorry that you learned to be exactly like everyone else in your group. I am sorry that you didn’t learn discipline and the ability to set a goal and see it through. I am sorry that you are weary of the world of “instant gratification.”

Tomorrow as we celebrate this “grand new experiment” please stop and read. Read the “Declaration of Independence.” the “Constitution”, and the “Federalist papers.” Read what the Founding Fathers had to say. They weren’t just white males who owned slaves. They were educated. They were thinking past their generation. They were visionaries.

Let me leave you with the Pledge of Allegiance:

I pledge allegiance to the flag of the United States of America
and to the Republic for which it stands, one Nation
under God, indivisible, with liberty and justice for all.

 

What is courage?

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From Pixabay

There was a color personality test on FB this morning that said it could pinpoint my most dominant characteristic. I’m always intrigued with personality tests, so I took it. My dominant characteristic is courage. A friend who took the same test and is dealing with the same disease got kindness.

It made me stop and think about courage. It makes me rethink the story of the hero. In my personal life, the person who isn’t scared is usually the foolish one. He is the one that walks in a bad area at night with the mistaken idea that he is the baddest one around. He is the foolish one who is addicted to the adrenaline rush. This is the one who dies first.

In my experience courage is always mixed with a dose of healthy fear. When I feel the adrenaline rush through my body, I also know that what I am rushing towards is going to hurt. Yes, I will stand for my friend or in front of the rushing animal. I am also the one who will be sliced to bits whether physically or verbally. I know I will lose something.

But courage is also the narrative I tell about myself. When I was a child, I was considered stubborn. I felt that the world should be fair. If I whined “it’s not fair,” my parents would always say the same thing. “Life is not fair.”

I won’t go into my childhood and teenhood. It was not fun or fair for many years. It was those experiences that made me face what is unfair.

I don’t always fight for myself. I have fought for others to have a place to smoke in their living quarters. Yes, the Navy made a decision to ban smoking halfway through my enlistment. I was not a smoker, but I didn’t think it was fair that others were penalized for this habit. If they couldn’t smoke in their private rooms, then they needed someplace else. I am not a smoker by the way.

Because I supported an unpopular decision, I was prepared to lose everything that I had worked for (I made E-5 in two years). The person that stands up gets noticed and not always in a good way. There is always a penalty for courage.

I have been told that being able to survive and thrive with a chronic illness is courage. If endurance is courage, I might agree. I really don’t know. I do know that even when I have the days I want to stay in bed and sleep, I will get up and dress. I will take the dog for a walk. I will put one step in front of another and start each day new.

I’m not a hero. I haven’t pulled people from burning buildings. When I was in the Navy, I repaired equipment for others. I didn’t go on combat missions. I fear.

When someone tells me they admire my courage, I ask them about what is happening in their own life. Then I give them the words that help me to get up in the morning– “This too will pass. Each day is better than the last.”

So I have no excuse

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Pixabay Amber Avalona (Public Domain) https://pixabay.com/en/users/AmberAvalona-1512238/

What has been missing is fun.

So with all of the singing, and listening to Frank Sinatra, Dean Martin, Billie Holliday, and others, I’m learning to enjoy while I create.

Time to sit down at the writing table with a smile on my face and the dog at my feet.

More coffee… and then write.

Those jazz and big band singers from my grandparent’s generation knew how to have fun and to swing it. I have been somber for far too long.

Let’s dance.

 

Revelations and music

8c96e-cynearly20 I hardly remember this period in my life. I was nearly twenty in this picture and I am holding my nephew. His sister wants to see the baby.

Nowadays when I see the two of them, they are full adults. I am the senior now, even though I still feel that uncertain new-adult feeling. It’s like a new car smell. It may go away, but you remember it forever. In this picture I was embarking on a new life–shoulder pads and all. In the old-fashioned hero’s journey, I was determined to leave Whiterocks and seek my fortune in music. I had no idea.

Sweet lord, I was so young and naive.

No boring allowed here so I won’t drone on about how it takes money and contacts to get into the music field. Plus I wanted to go to college too. That goal also takes money. Plus my family was not supportive. My dad came out and told me that I had a sweet voice as a child, but my voice was nothing special and some people made music and some people appreciated music. He made it a point to tell me that I was of the second kind.

As you can probably guess, the competition for the music spots in college were fierce. I wasn’t the best voice or even trained. I did have at least one opportunity to train with one of the professors during a summer term. If I could have pulled the finances together, I would have continued with this professor. At the time I was doing a full course load and working two part time jobs. I burned out.

It didn’t help that my father’s words rang in my head. I finally gave in and locked my music into a little box so that I wouldn’t feel the pain. I left college and started looking for a job. Eventually I went into the Navy.

So now it is more than thirty years later.IMG_0431

Recently I decided to go to a community event in my apartment complex. A resident was singing songs from the 50s and 60s. I kept getting invited. It’s rare to see the senior crowd so excited. The style of music, mostly country, wasn’t my thing, but it had been a long time since I had heard someone perform. I admit I was curious.

It was everything advertised. Chuck had been a performer before his stroke. He had fought back so that he could sing again. Plus it was fun. I named one of the fan grandmothers, the “Woo-woo girl” because she screamed, whooped, and hollered louder than a teenager.

Plus Chuck was letting the residents have a chance at the microphone. Only one lady took up the offer and she was loud, proud, and off-key. We didn’t care.

Then I asked Chuck if he did any Frank Sinatra. He put up the music and I started to hum. To my surprise, he handed me the microphone. “Keep it close to your mouth,” he said when I held it like the mike was going to bite me.

Then I sang, “I’ve got you under my skin.”

So now when I go over there to hear the music, I am told that all the singers “that includes you, Cynthia” are going to sing this afternoon.

I’m hoarse from the surgery, but thank you–whoever is listening to me–I can still sing. My voice is not pedestrian. I do have talent.