Posts from the ‘Health’ Category

Taking Stock

My doctor was afraid to ask if “that’s all” when I described the roller coaster the last four years have been. It’s enough to make me feel that my head and my heart might explode when I list it: I went to Kenya, I dated someone I expected I’d marry; we broke up. I finished grad school, I went to Hawai’i, came home with lupus and a very near miss on cancer. I spent 6 months in treatment; the second 6 months I would have spent in Hawaii had it all gone according to plan. I got out of treatment, our house flooded and we lost so much. My sister sustained a devastating injury and went on home school, our mom got hurt. I adopted my dog and we got 2 kittens. My spiritual home and safe place—Little Portion—announced they were closing, my beloved godmother died entirely unexpectedly. I spent all day trying to figure out how to tell my mother that her best friend and the godmother to her daughters was dead. I did most of the notifications for our church.  Little Portion did close.  The first Christmas after the closure and the death of my godmother, the only person I wanted to talk to was gone and the only place I wanted to be no longer existed.  I don’t have words to express two such unfathomable losses occurring in less than 6 months’ time.  I was in shock for months, and when I finally cried, I nearly drowned in the shower.

I didn’t know what I’d do when I came back from Hawai’i and went into treatment. I didn’t know how I’d get through treatment.  My body remembers every trauma my mind wants to forget, and even now, I am not allowed to forget.  I don’t know how to navigate a world in which I will get married and have children who will not know my father and my godmother.  Who will not learn to ask, “Are you being goofy?” to determine whether or not an adult is being serious, and who will not then collapse into laughter with my godmother, and who will learn complex math and teach it to their grandfather, wondering if he is pretending that they are smarter than he is as I did when I was a child.  I always anticipated that my father would not live to see me grown–the odds were astronomical–but there was always a hope I might be proven wrong.  My father wasn’t the sort of person one expected to die.  But I could not see a world in which my Aunt Mary would not see my wedding, and meet my children. The weekend after she died, I kept thinking about sitting in the diner with her when I was 16, her telling me that when I got married, I could wear her ring, which was her mother’s ring before her, and that it would be my something old. I kept imagining that day, whenever it may come, and trying to picture my mom and my friends helping me to get ready, but all I saw was the empty space she wouldn’t occupy.

It has never moved beyond surreal that I will marry someone who has never met my father. It is unfathomable that I will marry someone who has not received my godmother’s seal of approval. I didn’t have the kind of relationship with my father that the other girls had with theirs, but for the good, the bad, the indifferent, he is my father. Nothing changes that.  And I desperately want his approval.

I never saw most of what has come to pass coming, and I’m not sure if that’s a blessing or a curse.  I am learning how to live in a world that I could not picture before I found myself inhabiting it.  I do not want to live in this particular world, with no Little Portion, with no Aunt Mary, with lupus complicating things and constantly wondering in the back of my mind if what I’ve found now with my body is too good to be true.  In the meantime, I am contemplating the universe and redecorating my room, un-boxing books and wall decorations with knives in my heart along the way.  The gifts she bought me when I was confirmed in one box, a photo collage from my first trip to see her in Utah in another; cards from two years working at summer camp, along with my dreams of being a missionary in a third.  This life isn’t the one I’d envisioned for myself, but it’s the one I have.  And I am trying to make peace with that.

 

 

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The Return

  • I posted an essay on summer camp (with a bit of an announcement contained therein) over on tumblr this morning. Have a read if you wish!

It’s That Back To School Time Again!

So I suppose it’s time to rid the blog of cobwebs, and get back to my regularly established blogging schedule of new posts on Mondays and Saturdays.

This summer has brought a lot of news, and a lot of things that I would have written about had I found words for them, such as the murder of Cecil.

But, as it’s impossible to discuss all of what we’ve missed, here’s a bit of a round-up of things I’m loving to kick off the school year (our district goes back tomorrow):

Zoya Nail Polish I bought 6 colors a month or so ago, when they had a buy 3 colors, get 3 free promotion. I also bought their base and top coats, and their polish remover. So far, I’ve tried 5 of the 6 colors, and I’m impressed with all of them. The only color I haven’t tried is their black, which I plan to wear the entire month of October in honor of Halloween.

Barry’s Tea I always keep coffee and tea in my car, so that I can drink what I’m loving at the moment while I’m babysitting. I love Barry’s Tea. It’s strong, without being too bitter if I leave the tea bag in, which I usually do. I couldn’t find the box of tea in my car, and was very upset about it. Happily, I found it and now am back to sipping it happily when I’m not home. I’ve also had Barry’s Decaf, which is delightful.

Bewley’s Tea I’ve tried Bewley’s Dublin Morning, Irish Breakfast, and Irish Afternoon teas. These are teas that I predominantly drink at home, as the boxes have fallen apart as they’ve travelled with me. These are all strong, delicious, and I can go through all three teas in a day and feel entirely fulfilled and not at all bored.

Twinings Prince of Wales Tea I first had this tea last fall, and it’s so delightful. I don’t quite know how to describe this tea, but whenever I drink it, I feel very happy and satisfied, even if I’m not having a snack with it.

Worry Stones This link is to Irish Marble worry stones. I’ve recently made myself a couple of worry stone necklaces using Connemara marble, but as I am an anxious person by nature, compounded by having a very difficult run of things the last few years, I’m hoping that using worry stones will be a good and calming habit and strategy for me to manage my anxiety.

DuoLingo I’ve used DuoLingo for Italian and Irish, and I love how quickly this program allows you to learn sentences. I use MindSnacks to quiz things like vocabulary, but DuoLingo is a must for me for learning or maintaining a language. I bought a workbook that came with CDs for Irish, but thus far I’m having some problems with grammar, and word order… Basically I’m making the most ridiculous mistakes that it’s embarrassing, and no one but me knows the mistakes that I’m making. The best part about DuoLingo is that it’s free! I have the app on my phone and try to use it often.

Outback Steakhouse

Whenever we go to see my grandparents, we go out to eat. My family is highly motivated by food, and also seeing them while we’re all eating eliminates some of the awkward silences known to most families as we clumsily move from topic to topic.

Because of my celiac, I am incredibly limited in where I can eat safely, because a lot of restaurants have gluten free or allergen menus and allergen statements, but a lot of places have food that is rife with cross contamination. Because I am so sensitive to gluten, even the smallest amount of cross contamination can be a big problem for me, so this means that we generally go to the same few places over and over. But the issue with us going out isn’t only my celiac: my mom and sister are vegetarian, and my sister is a very picky eater.

One time when we were going to see my grandparents, we decided to go to Outback Steakhouse after discovering that they have a gluten free menu. We’ve been a few times since, and recently, we discovered that their dessert, Thunder From Down Under is gluten free. My sister ordered one and our waiter asked if we wanted 3 spoons, and I said no, and he said that it’s all gluten free, and that there are no regular flour brownies. We got three spoons. I had about 3 spoonfuls before I had to stop so the richness and wonderfulness of it didn’t make me sick. Any restaurant where I can get a steak and a lobster tail or a steak and shrimp is good with me, especially if I can also get a loaded baked potato or garlic mashed potatoes. And throwing the dessert into consideration means that Outback is basically my new favorite place.

And I have never gotten sick there. This is a huge win. My sister’s favorite restaurant for a long time was Applebee’s (it might still be). We go there from time to time, and I am not opposed to eating there, but it’s entirely hit or miss in terms of cross contamination, and my getting sick. We always tell them that I have a severe gluten problem, and please to make sure that nothing else touches my food, but flour is something that goes airborne remarkably well, plus if a chief puts a burger on a bun using his spatula and that spatula touches the bun and then touches my steak, it could be a problem for me.

When I was a kid, the Fosters beer commercial was my favorite. I like Australian accents, and some of the idioms that come out of the mouths of Aussies. I think they’re funny. While Applebee’s is more of a hometown bar and grill, Outback feels like more of a restaurant somehow, and the one closest to me is now serving Dr. Pepper, which has always been my favorite soda. (I am perpetually trying to remove soda from my diet, but sometimes it is the only thing that works, and I don’t believe in the complete depravation of something that you really like, because that isn’t healthy.) So that’s something else that Outback has going for it.

I can’t wait to go back to Outback (and also to eat my leftovers). If you have food restrictions, how do you cope with them when you go out to eat? What are your favorite places to eat?

The Year I Was Diagnosed With Lupus – Role Reboot

The Year I Was Diagnosed With Lupus – Role Reboot.

 

The Year I Was Diagnosed With Lupus, my essay published by Role Reboot.

I was 23, and a newly minted Master of Fine Arts, when I left my family in New York to join the Creation Care program at Camp Mokule’ia in Waialua, O’ahu, Hawai’i. Creation Care was an 11-month-long program, and one of a number of faith-based internships run by the Episcopal Service Corps. The program was everything I’d wanted, and though I was terrified to leave my family for such a long period of time, I tried to remain focused on the fact that I would be living in a tropical paradise for 48 weeks…

Continue reading my essay over on Role Reboot!

Walks in the Woods

Zoey Makana and I recently had a milestone: 5 months since I adopted her officially and brought her home. She, like the rest of us, has been through a lot lately. I had a terrible fall and injured myself badly while I was running with her, and though the fall wasn’t her fault at all and though she did everything right once I fell, she felt guilty. Prior to that, as you know, we were dealing with the sudden and unexpected death of my beloved Godmother. Zoey knew that there were things wrong, but not what, and was very concerned, and emotionally worn out. I’ve begun to suspect, based on her reactions, that in her last home, anything that went wrong was taken out on her. I don’t believe that she was ever physically abused, but I do think that she was yelled at on a regular basis. She’s never quite sure whether or not she’s going to be punished.

She has come such a long way in the five months that I’ve had her. She is very sweet, smart, and eager to please, which is very helpful when it comes to training her, though she knows her own mind, and sometimes isn’t obedient because it doesn’t suit her, which while it may frustrate the trainer is quite endearing to her independent Mama. She knows how to communicate her wants and needs, and isn’t shy about them. I will never forget her first night home, when I turned back my covers and she climbed under them and laid with her head on my pillow. I wanted her to sleep near my bed, but not actually in it, and she just looked at me with a look that said, “This person is an idiot, she doesn’t know that beds are for sleeping.” I decided not to fight, and in my bed she has remained these last five months. She is the first to groan each morning when my alarm goes off, and she will cuddle in close to me, or on top of me, to prevent me from getting out of bed. I’ve watched her grow more and more confident and assertive, less likely to cower when the cat that she’s afraid of walks into the room, and more likely to spread out and take up space. I’ve also loved watching her claim our house as her territory. Any time someone rings the doorbell or comes in, she barks like mad. Even a person making a u-turn in our driveway or even coming onto our street to visit a neighbor draws a loud Zoey alert. Sometimes animals that have been abandoned have lingering attachment issues, which I am sure can sometimes lead to second and third abandonments, but my girl knows that she and I belong together. She’s protective of me when we are out on walks, or even visiting with friends.

Yesterday afternoon, we went on a walk in one of our normal spots, an abandoned woods property next to my house. We weren’t in a rush, for once, for Zoey to do the business and then rush back into the house, because it was a Sunday afternoon, and because we were out on an extra walk to make Zoey happy, and to allow my mom to eat her lunch with one less mooching animal. I decided not to worry about dodging the sun, another important reason that I like to keep Zoey’s walks short, and to just enjoy being outside and to enjoy Zoey sniffing all the grasses and flowers, and going where she wanted to go instead of where I wanted her to go. Zoey saw a butterfly, and at first I thought she might bark at it or try to eat it, but she didn’t. She decided that she wanted to follow it. She didn’t try to chase it, or get ahead of it, she just went where it led her, and so we followed it wherever it flew for a minute or so. It’s hard to tell how long is was or wasn’t, because it was just a magical moment, one that I knew I would have ruined if I’d tried to photograph it, so I didn’t even try, though it would have been a great photograph. The sunlight was just perfect, and it was finally feeling like it might be a real spring soon, and we just wandered in the trail of this butterfly. And I thought that maybe everything wasn’t nearly as fucked up as I felt it was, and maybe there is still beauty and magic yet to be found.

I hope you find magic today, my dear readers.