I’ve said many times that this notion we have of balance is active and not a point of stasis. But sometimes balance is easy, once you get the hang of it, like riding a bike. Other times it’s like crossing a rope bridge on a windy day with a big pack.
This season my experience of balance has been a lot more like the latter example. I’m off, the world is off, my home is off, it’s just crazy. I suspect I took advantage of the little surgery I had to just check out for a bit. Unfortunately that has made getting back on track even more difficult.
On the good side are my kids, my work and a lot of unexpected support. On the rough side is money, time, and overall despondency. I’m frustrated with people who are fixed minded about an issue that they clearly don’t actually understand. I’m frustrated with the vile, demeaning attitudes that people have decided are okay to unleash. I’m frustrated with the notion that being polite and having good judgement are somehow not positive attributes.
Then we do something like attend the Kaposia Gala. This is Orion’s day program and work placement group. I see Ramsey county, being the second county in the country to pass legislation allowing them to directly employ people with disabilities. I see a group of people encouraging young performers who have to work a little harder for clear speech or to get through a piece of music. I sit at a table with people in all manner of dress knowing that they all “dressed up” for the occasion, that what they have on is the best that they have.
When I speak with the disabled community, or those with chronic illnesses, I recognize that we share an understanding outside of “normal” experience. When I spend time talking with members at Gilda’s Club there is an inherent desire to make that most out of what we have. When I find the small things that make me smile I remember how important those small things can be.
So I struggle to stand in my own truth and not be blown over by the winds of the world. I shift and adjust and accommodate and work to hang on to the notion that things can be better. I go back to daily practices of gratitude and just take a moment to recognize all the privilege I have in my life. I may be swaying pretty heavily, but at least I’ve got a bridge.
We seem to live in a world where “Fake news” is thrown around to discredit something someone doesn’t “like”. I see all too often that belief seems to count as much or more than science or facts. “Theory” is an inflammatory word. I suspect that’s because there are a lot of people who “believe” they understand what it means and don’t want to be told they are mistaken.
It doesn’t help that the word has a specific usage in scientific lingo and a much broader usage in the English language. When someone says, “In theory….” it’s clear there is speculation involved. There is not a great confidence between what is “supposed” to happen and what seems “likely” to happen. When a scientist talks about, “The theory….” it pretty much means that in all the time that theory has existed it’s been the best explanation of all the facts available and that so far nothing has come up to contradict it.
When we talk about education theory or theory in a philosophical setting what we’re really doing is talking about belief. We really want something to be true so we create a theory and then test it in practice. But people being people, we don’t want to change our beliefs, so when things don’t work we change the parameters of the test. No wonder everyone is confused.
In science when a fact shows up that disproves the theory, the theory gets changed so that it explains ALL the facts. It’s a very different mindset.
So, although I’m still taking tests and they still come back “normal” there are some theories.
I have speculated, for much of my life, that the place my back goes out puts stress on the nerves that impact my digestion. The converse also applies, when my digestion is aggravated it “stresses” my back. I’ve seen this happen time and again and when I can break that feedback loop things do seem to improve. I think it’s the explanation that best fits the facts as I see them.
My chiropractor is on board with this theory. He did an x-ray series and can point to places where it’s likely there is some stress on the nerves. Unfortunately, in order to be “clinical” the nerves have to be pretty much pinched off, which thankfully they are not. The radiologist makes some remarks about odd curves and twists but concludes basically “normal” (I’m sure there’s a for a woman of my age in there somewhere.) We’re hoping a chiropractic radiologist will be a little more specific and can talk insurance into paying for more frequent adjustments.
Likewise the other tests come back “normal” but when the bariatric PA looks at them she sees potential for issues. So I’ll take another test and then the entire bariatric group will put their heads together and see if indeed the PA’s observations explain the problem. If her theory holds then they will decide if there is anything they might recommend doing about it.
It may be that I just had a bad turn of what has been a chronic problem and that treatment is to do what I’ve been doing all along. I might have some bad spells and may need a little more intense intervention – pain meds, more frequent adjustments, possibly another round of physical therapy – to get through those acute moments.
That certainly sounds a lot better than the other possibilities that have been floating around in my head! Thank you all for your concern and good wishes.
I spent several days last week out sick with a summer cold. You know the kind you tell yourself is allergies until you can no longer deny you’re miserable through and through. As I’ve just past the two-year anniversary of my bariatric surgery, this was another opportunity to really notice how much has changed.
For starters, yes I was sick enough to not go to Gilda’s club. People dealing with cancer are often immune suppressed. They didn’t need to be exposed to whatever I was carrying. The decision to “tough it out” or not was a no brainer. What that meant is that I was taking care of myself from the beginning of the cold, rather than waiting until it totally knocked me on my ass to acknowledge it.
Then there’s the odd thing that happens with bariatric surgery and stomach flu. My whole body felt like I should be laying on the bathroom floor. But I wasn’t. In fact I never got that kind of sick. The physiology just doesn’t work that way anymore. What an odd feeling, especially for someone whose history is that once I got started I didn’t stop. No sore abdominal muscles. No cramps. No dehydration. No shear exhaustion from all that effort. More energy to apply to feeling better.
And most importantly there are all the things I did manage to get done last week. Orion got dressed, bathed, on and off the bus and fed regularly. Time cards got delivered, groceries were bought. I had my allergy shots. Orion had injections as well, and a tune up of his wheelchair and AFO’s. We had lunch and a visit with friends. I found time to do dinner with a friend. I had coffee with another, along with a walk to and tour Gilda’s Club – several blocks down the hill, and back up again.
There was laundry that got done, including bedding from our camping trip. There was a night the power went out, and all the clocks are set back where they belong. There was no “recovering” from our road trip to South Dakota. There is no feeling that I need another week to “catch up”.
Two years ago, last week would have looked like a “super mom” week. It would have taken me almost week to recover from a schedule like that in my “best health”. I couldn’t have imagined doing all that right after returning from a road trip camping with Orion, even without the summer cold!
People still ask me if I have any regrets for making the decision to have by-pass surgery. It hasn’t been all roses, but if I look at what I can do now that I couldn’t dream of doing then all I can feel is grateful.
It’s been a whirlwind of a weekend and it may take me a bit to come back into my regular routine. Paganicon happened, which was fun and exciting. I did a presentation on Friday. It was well attended and I got some very positive feedback. I have to think it went well.
I spent plenty of time socializing on Friday. This is a local convention, but it’s getting some buzz on the National scale. Some of the guests and folks coming in from out-of-town are good friends. It’s always nice to have the opportunity to touch base in person with those long distance relationships.
Saturday was our political district convention. Both Orion and I were delegates. This year Orion is excited about politics and I’m feeling fit enough to make it possible for him to participate at this level. We struggle with accessibility in these venues. On caucus night it was the crowds. For the district convention it was the convention set up itself.
The building this district historically uses for its convention is technically ADA accessible. There is a ramp and an elevator. There are handicapped stalls in the bathrooms. However the signage is horrible.
To make matters worse the convention was in the auditorium. You may know most auditorium seating has a small designated area to accommodate wheelchairs. Depending on the auditorium they may or may not have seating near them for companions. But at a political convention the rules require that delegates sit in their precincts – not in the special seats on the other side of the room.
We found a spot in a little used aisle. Little used because the door to that aisle was locked the entire day. Every time we left we had to get someone to go around and let us back in. The lighting was horrible. I had eye fatigue and a burgeoning headache from trying to read the amendments. Orion is legally blind. He can read, but he needs good lighting. I drained my cell phone battery using the flashlight.
In spite of being worn out we swung by Paganicon after the political convention. It gave Orion a chance to visit with some of his friends. He picked up a beautiful drum that he’s enjoying. Orion has an inherent sense of rhythm and perfect pitch.
Sunday morning I was back at Paganicon to do a book signing. It went pretty well for me after one of the organizers kindly found me a decent cup of coffee to get me through. I spent the afternoon actually attending the convention, going to workshops and participating in rituals.
It was a good weekend. I couldn’t have done so much, and at that pace, 3 years ago. I am so grateful to be able to do these kinds of things again, and to be able to do them with Orion in tow.
I was talking about my bariatric surgery and the outcomes with some folks I hadn’t seen for awhile. These are people who have been in that internal debate about their own weight issues. I said that I think part of my success is because I’m not focused on the weight or the numbers as much as I’m focused on the things I can do.
I can get down on the floor and up again. I can go up and down the stairs. I can walk from one end of the convention to the other and not sit down. I can stand for my entire presentation and still manage to pack my stuff up when I’m done. Gratitude keeps me on track. Excitement about what I can do keeps me pushing to do more.
I don’t know what day it is. I’ve been running so fast trying to keep up, to catch up. With the holidays approaching I know it’s only going to go faster, so I am looking for balance.
I was sure that today was going to be one of those days when I didn’t have time for anything. I had too many appointments, too many commitments. I’d meant to make some calls and move things around, but never got around to it. Panic!
Then I looked at the calendar again this morning. There’s that button that says “today” and makes the cursor go to the current schedule. Seems like the crazy Monday is NEXT week. I still have time to make those phone calls. I have different things to do today, and no so many. I can do this.
This week my goal is to try and stop compartmentalizing my life. I get into trouble (too much to do) when those compartments start bumping into each other. Maybe if it was all one thing it would be easier to keep it all straight.
I’ve got a lot of projects in the works. I’m doing some more speaking. I’m planning an interfaith ritual as part of my post Parliament commitment. I’m finishing up a year’s book work for a non-profit and stepping up to head the board. I’ve still got students in my Wiccan tradition. I’ve still got Orion, his annual meeting is this month. I’ve still got Gilda’s club, and my women’s group and friends I need to check in with. I’ve got another book to write!
Sometimes when there’s a lot on the plate, something has to go. This time I’m still finding myself in the habit of conserving. I’m not really pushing my edges physically at all. I think maybe, what I need to finally let go of, is my fear of not being able.
I’ve spent so many years being physically cautious. I’ve had to have the energy when I needed it and so have always tucked away a little extra when I could. I’ve paced myself physically, insisting on lengthy breaks between tasks. It really was necessary. When I couldn’t do that I’d end up in bed for a day, or days. I’d do too much and then really hurt myself.
Now I can do so much more, and I’m excited and grateful that I can do so much more. But I still find myself being cautious, taking breaks I don’t really need. I avoid taking on large projects because I’m not sure I’ll be able to finish them. What has to give is this fear. It’s time to fly.
When I hit those edges I’ll know. When I need to take care of myself, I’ll know. When I need to just stop and come back another day, I’ll know. I may not be able to do it all, but I can do it. It will be fun.
I’m posting late today because I went to get a haircut. You must understand that I am entirely incapable of maintaining my hair style in a traditional (cut every 6 weeks) kind of way. My last hair cut was in February.
I’m lucky to have hair that is flexible, adaptable and generally enviable. My regular readers have seen photos of me in the last 8 months and none of you have commented “Looking good, but you could use a haircut”. I’ll take the leap and say that mostly I haven’t looked like I needed one.
Thankfully, Jesse (my stylist at Hair Police) is pretty accepting of my cavalier attitude towards my hair. He believes me when my response to “what would you like?” is “That I don’t need to fuss with it.” We probably spend as much time chatting as he does actually cutting. That’s “normal” in the stylists chair, but it’s not typical for me.
In February I was getting the “new look” in preparation for flying to California and presenting at Pantheacon. (Go ahead and search that term out on my blog page. You’ll find lots of entries.) I didn’t get to go to San Jose, but the “new look” was helpful in the “keep your spirits up” department while I dealt with the cancer surgery.
Now I am again getting ready to travel. I’d like to make a good impression on the people I’ll meet. I’d like to do some networking with folks who speak on Spirituality for a living. I’d like to look good, approachable, and “put together”. I hope I’m not setting my bar too high!
Packing is still a challenge. I can get twice as many clothes into the suitcase as I used to! The problem is that I don’t have twice as many clothes that fit. I don’t even have the dreaded swimsuit in a size that won’t fall off if it gets damp. Usually before a trip I’m shopping for things like sample sized deodorant and toothpaste. This time it’s about what do I have to wear.
I’m grateful to the thrift stores. We went to one for Orion’s birthday and I picked up a few things for me as well. I’m grateful for my friends who clean out their closets and hand stuff my direction. I’m grateful for the women in my life (Karina and Carla) who are fond of “styling” and pick things out for me if they run across something that looks promising and size appropriate. (They have a better eye for my size than I do!) And of course I’m grateful to Jesse, not only for the haircut but also for taking the photo I promised:
Sadly I’m still going to have to shop for that swimming suit.
I spent most of the weekend outside. Winter is coming. There aren’t that many lovely weekends left in the year. Last weekend was definitely one of them. It was warm, dry, there was a good breeze. The evenings cooled off, but didn’t get cold. Perfect weather for being outdoors.
Saturday was the community equinox ritual we often attend. I’ve blogged about it in the past. (Autumn, Darkness, Harvest, Balance – Wow I’ve been doing this for a long time!) I had Orion along so there is the additional piece about pushing him on uneven ground. I used to have to be sure I had someone else there who I could count on to help. Not so much this year. I made all the trips from the car (Orion, Pot luck cooler, Pot luck crock pot, Lawn chair and blankets) all by myself.
It was good to catch up with some old friends. It was also nice to have a community willing to share a dessert – so I could have a bite rather than throwing out most of a piece. The buffet table is still a challenge for me, but I have found that if I fill one plate (with an eye for both Orion and I) and then split it into two at the table I do better.
We were there most of the afternoon and late into the evening. Sat around the fire talking, watched the dancers and listened to the drummers in the background. The moon was high, the night was clear and the wooded grove a pleasant cathedral.
Sunday Karina took me off to the Minnesota Renaissance Festival. We didn’t get there for the first cannon, that’s about the time she picked me up. We didn’t stay to the last cannon (hoping that leaving 5 min. early would help get out of the parking lot.) But we spent much of the day wandering around the festival.
The last time I was at the Ren Faire I was with a friend who was looking at knee replacement surgery. Neither one of us was moving very far or very fast. We took all day to circle the grounds one time through. We traveled from one bench to the next. This time was a very different story. We did sit down a few times to eat, grab a drink, or see a show. Mostly we were on our feet, back and forth across the entire park.
We had another beautiful day, warm with a breeze. We saw friends working at the festival as well as running into a few just visiting. Karina ate, and I nibbled off of what she got, so I didn’t struggle much with the food. The highlight of the day was visiting with the Morris Dancers. These guys are all friends of my daughters from when she was a waitress. They are a warm and welcoming bunch. They brought us up on the stage for one dance, and Karina even joined them in another.
We watched the full moon rising on our way home. It was huge on the horizon (as the harvest moon often is). When my Ex dropped off Orion he made me go outside again. The eclipse was happening so even though I was exhausted I got to see that as well.
I was tired enough to go to bed when Orion did. I ached. My ankles were a little swollen. BUT I got to do BOTH things this weekend. My ankles still look like ankles. I didn’t feel like if I sat down I was never going to get up again. I didn’t worry about walking or getting anything done all week. Life is so different this side of the bariatric journey. I am exceptionally grateful for good tired.
Last weekend my daughter and I went to New York City. We both needed a vacation. You might recall I had surgery rather than going on my last one. I could do a travel-log blog. I could carry on about all the amazing food we ate. But the best part of this trip for me was celebration how different things are from the last time Karina and I went to NYC – 4 years ago.
I had my 9 month visit with the bariatric surgeon before we left for the airport. I am essentially at my post surgery goal weight! All the more reason for me to notice how much is different in my life. I had a goal (from February) to sit in a plane seat and buckle the seatbelt without an extender. Not only did I do that, but I was capable of sitting in an exit row!
The last time we were in NYC it was pretty early to bed. I wasn’t sleeping well and I tired easily. This time we got settled into the hotel by 10 and Karina was ready to go out on the town. She opted for salsa dancing and I was game to tag along. I even managed a dance or two.
One of the things that amazed me from this trip was not just how much I walked, but how willing I was to walk. Last time even walking to the subways was often too much, and we’d flag a cab. This time I wouldn’t bother to get on the subway if where I was heading was just the next station. I’d walk. Last time I couldn’t even go through the turnstiles. I was too big. This time I only struggled when I had to climb up 3 flights of stairs.
One of our “must do’s” on this trip was to walk across the Brooklyn Bridge. We did it before, stopping to rest several times along the way and flagging a cab as soon as we stepped into Brooklyn to take us to Grimaldi’s Pizza (just under the bridge). This time we started at Grimaldi’s and then walked.
We crossed the bridge in less than ½ the time we’d taken before – in spite of the crowds. Not only did we walk across the bridge, but we continued to walk down to Battery Park and the 9/11 Memorial. Exhausted with sore feet by the time I got on the train, but exceptionally proud of the accomplishment.
We did plenty of other things as well. We went to some Broadway shows. We spent an evening at Comic Strip Live. We had a fabulous dinner at Felidia. Karina spent a day at Coney Island while I shopped and took in a matinée of It’s Only A Play.
We snuck in another show together, A Gentleman’s Guide to Love and Murder. We even went on a walking tour!
It was a grand trip and a great way to celebrate hitting that post surgery goal. I’ve got a way to go in terms of the new life-style. There was a lot of leftover food in the hotel room when we departed! My eyes are still bigger than my stomach, and exercise isn’t going to come as naturally at home. Even so, this trip may serve as a kick-start. If nothing else it will help me remember what I am capable of doing.
For someone who’s trying to recover from a major surgery I’ve been awfully busy. It’s hard not to celebrate a birthday, even when you’re not feeling entirely up to it. This is my first birthday since the bariatric surgery, and my birthdays have historically been about food.
When we were kids one of the things we got for our birthday was the opportunity to choose the menu. We didn’t go out to eat a lot as a family, but my parents cooked. Favorites ran the gamut, but I discovered seafood early and stuck with it.
This year has been a challenge in many ways. The hysterectomy has me moving slower, not getting around easily and pretty achy. In addition, just having the surgery has decreased my food tolerance and portions. That’s kind of normal, except given that I was already working on tolerance and portions it seems a little extreme.
Of course where there is a will there is often a way! My dreams of baking myself a cake to take to a party, or making myself a special dinner were very unrealistic. I’m not that far along in my recovery. But I have friends and family who managed to keep me eating all weekend long.
Thursday my daughter took me out to Oceanaire for birthday dinner. We ordered one Restaurant Week meal, a couple extra appetizers and a cup of lobster bisque and shared it out. Beautiful food, well prepared, very tasty and oh so very much to eat! I may not have had much (and took home leftovers) but I was more than satisfied and had a delightful evening besides.
Saturday I was taken out for sashimi by my ex and my son. That was also a treat. Again we managed to shuffle the meals around so that everyone got something they liked and there wasn’t too much extra. I had time enough for a nap before going out again that evening with friends.
That wasn’t specifically for my birthday and much of the “pot-luck” was vegan, but it was good to see some old friends and catch up. I brought a bag of clementines – not something I would buy for just me. I can eat a couple of segments at a time. It was a treat and definitely qualified as a vegan dish.
Sunday was our annual women’s ritual. Again the food was lovely and in huge quantities. I did manage to “cook” Tzatziki to go with my frozen appetizer spanakopita from Trader Joe’s. There were ribs, meatballs, and spiced nuts, liver pate, stuffed clams and scallops, and hummus, olives, and a variety of cheeses. I definitely needed a nap! The liver pate came especially for me to help with that anemia problem. Yummy!
I have so much to be grateful for this year. The hysterectomy took care of the cancer – no chemo or radiation necessary. I have had incredible support from my friends and family to get through these past few weeks. I may be grumpy I’m not improving fast enough, but I do continue to be able to do a little more each day. I’m also reassured that I really am doing well, I’m just impatient. And I have some great leftovers to help me through the coming week!
It’s occurred to me in this past week that I’m spending a lot of time going “been there, done that” with this current health set-back. I knew, as soon as my leg swelled up, that I was dealing with a blood clot (a DVT) because I’ve “been there, done that”.
I’m finding the same thing to be true with the weight-loss journey. I’ve lost a large amount of weight several times in my life. I lost 70 lbs with medical complications before they found and identified that I had cancer. Several years later, when I actually GOT the cancer diagnosis, after surgery and chemotherapy I realized I had to do something about my weight and again lost about 70 lbs.
The experience of planning to start an exercise program and being sidelined with medical complications is not new to me at all. The two steps forward one step back process of building a lifestyle, or a career, or a new routine is the story of my life. There is a reason I have the magical name Spiral.
This weight is where I was in my mid 20’s, when I got married for the first time. As I go digging through old clothes desperately seeking something that will fit I am reminded of where I was in my life each time I crossed “this number”. I may be the same weight, but my body is not the same shape. I’m no longer in my 20’s, or in my 30’s, but I still catch myself falling back on old patterns.
Most people have “life lessons” that come around again and again. The hope is that each time we confront these issues we have a different perspective on the problem. Each time we are tested we learn new skills and have new (better?) ways to tackle our problems.
I am better at accepting the compliments when people tell me I’m looking good. I’m better at recognizing the traps in the back-handed compliments (“You’re wasting away!”). I’m much more willing to accept ownership of my journey and not depend on others for confirmation of how I am doing. I’m much more willing to seek help and advice from others who have had similar experiences.
I’m less flexible – change at this age is harder than it was when my kids were little. I don’t have as much resilience, especially physically. It takes longer to take those two steps forward after a set-back. As a single woman, I don’t have the same kind of support. (This is as much a plus as a minus, depending on the day!)
My goals are different. My motivation is different. My perspective is different. I may have “been there, done that”. I just hope that this time I don’t do it quite the same way.