The Color of Meds

med7The elderly group inevitably turned to talk of “medications.” They chatted away comparing how well theirs did or didn’t work, what colors and shapes they came in, their costs and side effects … surely medications would never be at the top of my chat list. [Dum-da-dum-dum]

Myself newly retired, I visited my father vacationing in a quaint area off the Florida coast. He chose that area because several of his lifelong friends from our hometown retired there and they’d all get-together.

Our hometown was so small it was like the whole place had packed bags to retire in this life of leisure: The postmaster, the grocery store owner, Dad’s fishing & hunting buddies, the bus driver, and Small town with small and medium business. women I’d known as nurses, administrators, wives or coddling mothers of many old school friends.

I went to breakfast with them one morning and it was indeed an endearing perspective to see so many vaguely-familiar, aged faces from my rural Midwest past in such unfamiliar beach garb and setting. Knowing one another so well everyone gathered around a hugely long table chatting as I struggled to remember how I knew each of their mannerisms.

Table talk began as a bunch of wisecracks and good old-fashioned ribbing in remembering this or that. I was relatively “young” in the group and, to them, I’m sure, I was still the kid they watched grow up some fifty years earlier.

Forty is the old age of youth and fifty is the youth of old age. [Mark Twain]

As things settled down and as I’ve learned since, it was inevitable that this group of 70-somethings’ conversation would turn to health issues and “medications.” Everyone was on pills of some med4sort, chatting incessantly and never wavering from the subject about how well theirs did or didn’t work, how they compared to someone else’s, what colors and shapes they came in, their side effects, the horrors or accolades they’d heard about each, and how one or the other generally improved (or not) their lives.

With all of them talking so much about medication and, of course, all of their intimate health conditions, it was like jolting back in time when they used to coffee-klatch about that week’s church service, what was on at the theatre, the best buy at the store, or the sin of tenure and which teacher needed to be retired. It was humorously strange if not a sense of being personally intrusive to hear them make ‘medication’ their prominent hot topic.

I wondered if they had any idea how much ‘medication’ dominated their talk and how funny that sounded, silently asking myself if it were possible I’d find medication the mainstay of my life, too. Surely medication wouldn’t be at the top of my chat list.

Well, it turns out I did and it is. And, oh, by the way, when you do find yourself intimately acquainted with taking pills you fall into the less-novice abbreviation, “meds.” I dunno, there’s just something very hard core sounding about that, like it’s a street term for drugs or something. I guess, in effect, it is. And now I know why it is.

Soooo, here it is considerable years later and I have this med that’s throwing off blood labs (another one of those ‘street terms’). I needed to go off it for better lab readings, but med2the thing is, that medication was a critical one I’ve been on for several years. It manages manic-depression, so it’s the kind of med that’s important with a direct, delicate impact on brain chemistry.

One of the things this med helps with is allowing me to sleep a normal cycle. Otherwise I’d be up all night into the next day. If you’ve ever had the problem you know what a disorienting ‘trip’ of mumble-jumbled “where am I and what day is it” your self goes through.

I went off the med and was surprised at how well I thought I was doing. Then I found myself shorter than usual with the dog and the people with whom I interacted. I think when I’m off that medication I might actually scare if not infuriate some, because I can’t slow my mind enough to think through facts before I react to them. So I was thinking it might be a good idea to mention this to the doctor.

Then came nights when I could not go to bed or I’d go to bed and do nothing but wallow, toss and turn waiting for my mind to shut down, which never happened. I’d give up and get up and find something to kill the time then be dizzyingly disoriented all the next day and totally dysfunctional by that night. This was not working. I definitely needed to talk with my doctor.

The doctor put me on a replacement medication that, I suppose, is preferable today to what I was prescribed ten years ago. You have to go-on and off of these medications medgradually so it’s a bit of a process. When that med didn’t help me give up the ghost at night the doctor prescribed another to assist with the first. So now I’m on two drugs to replace one and that was Not what I had in mind.

Intermittently during the week I also take medications for a temporary ailment and those are the ones I’ve written about that make me feel so badly. So, in addition to the two replacement medications for the one I’d just gone off of, the doctor added another new med for nausea caused by the intermittent meds I’m already on.

Are you following me?

With so many medications to keep track of and myself, by now, experienced enough to know there can be undesirable effects from new meds, I held off starting the nausea pill until I could see how the other two newbies landed. A couple of days ago I’d j-u-s-t gotten to where the new medications were beginning to work for a normal, restful night again.

Yesterday morning, the first time in way too long of a time, I woke up basking in bed thinking how great it felt for a change to be snuggled and dozing in the brisk morning air. Of course, about the time that thought processed the phone rang. And, of course, the phone was in the living room. ‘Oh well,’ I told myself, there’s always tomorrow to bask in the luxury of a morning’s wake-up doze so I drug myself out of bed to answer the phone (no pun intended).

The doctor’s office called. I missed the call. Really?

med6Last night’s second decent sleep (almost) requires a little more delicate telling. The evening before I took my regular medications then I took the intermittent medications that make me feel so badly then I took two of three new ones. Oh, I was sleeping like a champ, feeling like I’d eventually returned to normal when … you guessed it, surprise!

Not having the wherewithal to change linens in the middle of the night I did what needed to be done then drug my pillow to the living room chair, dozing uncomfortably there until I could drag myself out of it this morning.

I cannot win for losing. I’m still waiting for that good, all-night sleep.

I don’t know which is worse, not being able to sleep or being so medicated to sleep that when sleep is interrupted I can barely stay awake to function. I do know what’s worse than either of those, though.

 

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Letters … ~ Ch 6: Finding a Way Back

6bIf we look we can find blessings in what feels like overwhelming dire straits. They’re little oasis’ in a desert, four leaf clovers in a briar patch. If you’re reared in a life of faith they will show themselves. It’s up to us to look, find and appreciate them.

PreviousLetters… ~ Ch 5: The Pile On

Dear Grandchild,

The events of this “Letters” series began roughly five years ago when health insurance costs were rising and mine was no exception. “You cost more than you’re worth to me,” he stated flatly, determinedly, matter-of-factly, like every resource we had was 6ehis and my being alive needlessly drained them.

As bizarre as I find anyone saying such a thing (I trust you do, too), that is how he really thought (Narcissistic Personality Disorder). Every article on the subject defines narcissists as keenly adept actors who pretend emotions that they witness in others because they are incapable of their own. Most bystanders find them very endearing on the face. A narcissist is never so vicious as when you leave them (stop giving “narcissistic supply“). That’s when you see what their character really is. (Refer to video in Chapter 3.)

I’d identified his narcissism, but I hadn’t studied it at length and being married for so long I didn’t know what to do with that knowledge anyway. Unknowingly, I had stopped feeding his ‘narcissistic supply’ by standing up for myself more, which I now know triggered this revelation. When I suggested we amicably part he immediately turned as vile in demanding I ‘get out.’ There was no reasoning and there wasn’t going to be any sharing. He wanted it all and in his mind it was all his. The pompousness of that attitude makes you want to barf before you slap them silly.

It was such a blatant revelation of truly despicable character that I found it pathetically mind-numbing. What do you say to something like that? Argue it? “Oh yes I am worth something,” like that? And that would get you …. where?

There were many things he needed to hear and there actually were things I could’ve said, though those would not have been the least bit decent. That was a critical time to stand up for me whether he listened or not, but I blew the opportunity and I live with that serious regret.

Thinking there was nothing more to drain from me, he justified stealing it all and putting me aside with less remorse than those who put-down an old dog. By nature of being a narcissist it took far, far less than words like his to “hurt” his feelings. Just forget to praise his cooking or yard work and see what that got you. (Unadulterated rage.)

6fThe good thing was, at his age he didn’t have another 20-years to bleed other women dry. Out of all of his prior relationships I was the longest running so I must’ve had a heck of a lot more ‘usefulness’ than he could ever find in any of them.

As he drug out the divorce tying to hang onto all of the money, making it considerably more tedious and ugly than need be, months of life trudged on as described in these chapters. By the time I was free of his narcissist hook everyone in my family but you and Dad were gone. The day of divorce Dad was ecstatic, the most gleefully excited I’d seen him in a very, very long time. It felt good to share that with Dad. God bless Dad.

A merry heart does good like a medicine: but a broken spirit dries the bones. [Proverbs 17:22]

From my packing to leave the marital home through all of the stages of suffering divorce one-and-a-half years later, I’d disciplined myself to make only “good and right” decisions. I left much more on the table than I took. I fought bitterness and anger, simply wanting to live without his angst. I didn’t want to give him my soul, too. I believed that’s how God would have me do it and that God would take care of me if I kept myself walking the honest, straight and narrow.

When divorce wrapped up I was pretty raked over the coals and didn’t benefit much from it other than freedom from him. By then I was willing to pay him to go away. Relying on the good principles I’d set for myself, I refused to counter his personal affronts in court as he lambasted me with grossly maligning lies. Apparently his approach worked better than mine.

With such a horrid divorce and all of the family losses on top of it, I kept asking myself where God was and why He wasn’t helping me. It felt like God wasn’t there at all. To keep bitterness from setting-in I concentrated on counting blessings, like how freeing it was not to be battered by someone every day. That mattered.

As time went on I couldn’t believe God would let me flounder in the intense pain of losing so many people; why He’d let me be so maligned by and among them; and why He wasn’t rewarding me with some reprieve of goodness from all of the goodness I’d tried to lay as a foundation. I had worked so hard to make only “good and right” decisions. Didn’t that count for anything?

As bouts of ill health came and went and I shoved handfuls of pills in my mouth every morning and night to stay alive, I began to tell myself that I do cost more than I’m worth. Why would God let me contemplate such a thing? Didn’t I matter to Him? Wasn’t He supposed to turn good works into some goodness of life? Isn’t that how it’s supposed to work?

6hI fought doubt, asking those questions over and over and clinging to my faith by bare threads. I came to believe God had abandoned me or, worse, maybe it was true that God wasn’t real at all. (I am ashamed to admit that.) Then I reminded myself of all that He had saved me from over so many years and how many prayers He’d answered so perfectly they could only come from Him. I knew He was still there. I just had to find my way back.

There is a verse in the Bible to the effect,

“As the twig is bent so goes the tree.”

That entrenched pilot light of faith was my tether to God. Being reared in His word was the undying belief that flickered inside of me waiting to be ignited again, waiting to be useful again. If I hadn’t had the believing upbringing Dad provided I would not have been able to cling to that when all of life felt so hopelessly against me that nothing felt right, nothing relieved the pain.

I try to never take God’s good graces and mercies for granted no matter how hard life gets. You cannot imagine how much I prayed and yearned and sought peace of mind in traversing the experiences described in these chapters. Some things only God can handle, even when it feels like we haven’t time to wait; even when it seems no one is up there listening; even when we think we’ve given up and don’t know how to get it back.

You’re aware how I’ve encountered health issues of late. I call their medication “chemo light” because it leaves me feeling so very badly. I spend my days doing nothing but giving comfort to myself, remembering chemo and reminding myself it could always be worse. This isn’t as degenerating as chemo and that’s something to be very grateful for.

In weird ways I’m relieved to have a reason to do nothing but pamper myself. It’s like I’ve needed that for years so I deserve to do it without guilt. Just having the time and resources in retirement to do that is a blessing. I can’t imagine being a younger person trying to balance work and family while feeling this way. I am very blessed.

I recall one of my chapters mentioning how we expect to have “caring people” around us at this juncture of old age. Having settled here only a few years ago and hibernating from society since, I didn’t try to get out to meet people and, as anyone reading this series is aware, now I have very little family.

6iIt’s scary to be so alone in this time of life, but when I strip away the self pity I realize that I’m actually living a self-fulfilling prophecy least expected. Just because it’s not expected doesn’t make it bad — just different.

Now, when I think about people coming and going as used to be, that feels uncomfortable. Just as I was left alone when younger to figure things out for myself, that’s the same way I am today and aptly so. Just let me admire life from a distance. That’s about all the energy I have for it anymore anyway. And that’s okay.

Then I thought about the new people who do come and go in my life now. They are good and caring and so thoughtful. As are those tending to the home. I don’t have many needs that aren’t being met. Wants, maybe, but not needs (smiling). Given how I tend to be such a private homebody, I’m not sure I’d even want more people than this in my daily life.

I was surprised to realize just how “full” my life is given the limited desire I have to be active in it. God blessed me with newbie ‘loved ones’ and I’m so comfortable with them I almost forgot how much I do appreciate them. They are all considerably better to me than my own family (save Dad and you all of course).

God is good to me. He’s carried me and He’s let me walk alone. He’s led me to understandings and He’s walked silently to keep me company as I figured them out. He’s woven caring people into the moments of my living when I feared there could never be more.

The cleaning lady and I laugh a lot, she’s more like a daughter or lifelong friend than a paid helper. I buy household gadgets to give us new toys for play when she does her work. When she arrives at the door CeeCee scampers with the enthusiasm of a child seeing grandma bearing goodies. In many ways, I do have family. They’re just a very different one than what I’d envisioned.

6bLike that undying flicker of faith, I never lose hope, either, that God will make it possible for our broken family to mend itself. I don’t expect that, but I know He can if He wants and I keep praying He’s working on it. Maybe by then we’ll all have our hearts in a better place, be better aware of our own failings and less critical of one another, thus better prepared to receive each other in a brand new light. With God, all things are possible.

If we look we can find blessings in what feels like overwhelming dire straits. They’re little oasis’ in a desert, four leaf clovers in a briar patch. If you’re reared in a life of faith they will show themselves. It’s up to us to look, find and appreciate them.

Ever since a small child Dad would stop to peruse a clover patch for four leaf clovers. We’d do it together, even as I was older, and he always found at least one. Recently I opened a book he’d given me just before he died. Tucked inside its pages is the “I love you” of a four leaf clover he’d secreted there. Its plucked but still-green color feels like a bridge between where the two of us are now, he on the other side of life and me, still here, trying to find my own.

I cannot imagine living the struggles of life without faith that Dad instilled in me to do just that. It may be a long while before your young life experiences serious troubles, but some sort comes to all of us at one time or another. When you do, I hope you’ll reflect on these words.

Lesson Six:  No matter how bad life may feel in tribulation, take a moment to look for a good inside each bad you’re suffering. You’ll be surprised. God is so good. ♥

 

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Letters … ~ Ch 1: When I’m Gone (Video)

burialFamily are a lot like goldfish. Their affections grow to endure only what fits comfortably within their own environments. I watched what felt like helplessly as the family I thought I knew mutated into something wholly unrecognizable.

PreviousLetters to A Grandchild ~ Preface

Dear Grandchild,

As a grandmother, there are life-wisdoms I wanted to leave … those things that we only see clearly through a grandparent’s age and experience. There is one ‘wisdom’ in particular to which I hope you will give special caution.

Leaving this in my burial planning records, it started as a simple paragraph or two when it dawned on me that this really is my last chance to “chat” with you. No pressure or anything. There are so many things I wish I’d been better equipped to speak to over the years, when it might’ve made a difference. And no one wants to be forgotten or, worse, remembered in a poorly shed light of the less loving.

I kept believing the opportunity would come when our family would want to set differences right, but the time for that has passed; and it is clear by now, ‘setting things right’ defeats the purpose of all their years’ hard work. “It takes two to Tango” and here I am with the bulk of a productive life behind me. It is important you know what others don’t speak, else a life of unspoken truths die with me.

I’m sure this is much less relevant to others than to me, but it might mean something when you find yourself confronted with similar dynamics. I always took a back seat, never standing up for myself; convincing myself another’s feelings were more important; that I had bigger shoulders; that some day when it was most critical someone would do that for me. It’s been a long wait. So it seemed especially important now.

Knowing your spouse’s appreciation for genealogy, I began this by adding simple bits & pieces of personal history. The next thing I knew it had morphed into a book rather than a ‘few last words.’ In perfect hindsight now, how these tragedies unfolded speaks to surviving this family’s dysfunction more than it does the ill-equipped child turned matriarch who still struggles to navigate that terrain.

Stepping Back in Time

Not so long ago generations of family lived in one home, so learning from one another was an effortless occurrence. Oh, the richness of that life. I wish you & I could’ve had that, I’d like to know you better as the full-grown adult you are: What weighs on your mind and heart; your spiritual and worldly convictions; your ambitions and memories and regrets. What you think, why you think it and how you reach your conclusions. I very much cherish the intermittent blurps we do occasionally share. Those are very special to me, especially when we find laughter in them.

While trying to put cautions in written word, it occurred to me how much I don’t know about the whole person you’ve become and, given likely differences between our generations, maybe my ‘grandmotherly’ vantage would seem to underestimate you. The 40-some years between us allows you to be generally better-informed about the world than I was at your age; and your upbringing was considerably less sheltered than mine. I’ve always regretted that, for you, but being overly protected in formative years isn’t the blessing it’s intended to be, either. I speak from experience.

I can’t know where the potential overlap of ‘underestimating you’ starts & my naivete stops. School records reflected an IQ of 150, but I was emotionally stunted by an overly-protective authoritarian that demanded compassionate blind-faith in the face of everyone and everything that confronted me. Being reared to believe those principles were an integral part of being a good person, I lived them, they became who I was. I accepted everyone at face value and that staunch principle misguided me for countless years.  beaver2

A normal day of my formative childhood is no keener visualized than an episode of the old “Leave It To Beaver” TV series. That is a perfect snapshot: Living in a quaint safe town, the child of upstanding parents; the expansive sterile home with a father always in a suit or ironed khakis, a mother homemaking in flowing skirts and the only problems to solve being ironing out wrinkles of idealism. The stark difference in mine was a brother bearing intense resentment that I ever came along in the first place, but nothing’s perfect.

In the end, I also know that your age cannot possibly afford the knowledge it took a lifetime of experiences to gain, so I trudge forward with my ‘wisdom’ quest. Somewhere in between the differences of our personal histories are the twains where youthful inexperience and elderly wisdom intersect.

Ahh, To Be Young Again

When we’re young life is full & busy as we try to realize all of the dreams built into our eager hearts. Over time life can come to feel so endlessly mundane many of them fall-away or we find ourselves blindly following their crumbs wherever they lead us. Old age seems so off of our radars we don’t concern ourselves. It comes so much sooner than any of us envision, despite how we convince ourselves we’ll conquer that, too.

When that part of life happens all that’s left are memory snapshots of the journeys undertaken with people we loved dotting their landscape. We always think of ourselves as the vibrant person we were in our youth, defying the ‘old person’ we inevitably do morph into and even after we already have. No one who lives long enough escapes that. That is when we need family’s affections more than ever. It’s natural to expect that the loved ones of today will be there then.

Maybe someday your generation will restart family reunions and you’ll find yourself gathered around a table with loved ones you all-too-rarely see, catching up with memories of old times like Family-Reunion.pngwe used to do. Dad loved our family reunions and God bless him for keeping them going as long as he did. They stopped (in terms of inviting me) when he died and that speaks better to my reasons for leaving this than any other could.

You’ll be the only one of your generation knowing this side of our family history. Others have invested themselves in rewriting it and, to great regrettable degree, they’ve accomplished that in trying to shed themselves in better light. When someone seeks to pull themselves above the rest, there’s always another who pays the price. For reasons you may innately understand, I was this family’s easy target.

We never know other people as well as we think we do and family is at the top of that list. If you don’t appreciate the ‘wisdom’ in this now, save it for when you find loved ones inexplicably disappointing. That day will come. In one form or another, the ‘wisdom’ interwoven here is at the core of all we find perplexing about humanity. Entire industries prosper from the subject, attesting to just how real and captivating those mysteries are. We never truly appreciate the evil within them until we’re forced to live it.

During my productive years, which are the bulk of everyone’s lifetime, I routinely denied myself to give to those around me, even when I had very little to give materially or emotionally. Your mother is the prime beneficiary. Dad’s second family and you boys rank right up there at the top. The list goes on … siblings, in-laws, husbands, coworkers, friends, and acquaintances.

A few stories that never get told because, in accordance with the values I was taught, I’m not prone to talking about my good-doings. I hoped by adding them here they’d better demonstrate my heart. (Doing this makes more sense when you read further):

As a young, struggling single mother, at Christmas I waited to pay on a layaway. A very old man ahead was placing a few dollars on an $8 pair of slippers he’d laid away as a gift for his wife. It was his second payment. The love he showed with what little he had was so absolutely touching, after he left I paid off the balance.

faithhopelove2In a grocery line a few months ago a mother ahead of me with her three boys spent $30 more than she had. She began removing all of the boys’ favorite items. I put the balance on my card and the lady had tears in her eyes in hugging me. I hoped it gave the people behind thought for the day, too. “Pay it forward.”

Then there was the young woman with a baby stranded at an interstate rest area to whom I gave $50 for gas and food. As soon as the money exchanged hands she ran to her boyfriend hiding in a nearby car and with a day’s bounty in hand they zoomed away (I can only hope not to buy drugs). We can’t get them all right.

I do love giving, of feeling love, of being able to make someone’s life a little happier or less burdensome. Praise God for the opportunities. That is the real me and with the same humility I was taught to love I’m not prone to tooting my horn. I give because I love giving, including emotional sacrifices when someone else needs those and which are often the hardest for any of us to give. I am confident in the goodness I am. I certainly am saddened by ‘my family’s’ efforts to pose me otherwise. But God & I know better.

Chapters that follow are written from the emotional angle of those endearing endeavors, whether anyone ever acknowledges them or not. That coming so naturally to me is what made it so easy for those less generous to take advantage.

Each family is different but I’ve heard of a lot more who share the traits about which I write than those who don’t. I assure you, in your generation of our immediate family the dilemma I caution is also thriving, alive and well. This identifies those danger zones. I write of a family dynamic, but the same principles apply to work and social situations.

We think ‘who we are’ is defined by the principles we live, but it is not that simple. That is not necessarily so. To others and especially those within a family, ‘who we are’ is a lot more about them than it is about us. After giving all of my productive years so loyally to so many and for so long, their abandonment of me in the end was an unfathomable outcome. In my overly-naïve state, I could never have foreseen that coming.

This is my true story of how that life trauma evolved and, I hope, how to not let it happen to you. I attribute my ludicrous naivete’ to being taught unrealistic ideals as a small child but when I came of age to practically apply them to life I was left grossly deficient of any parental guidance. My idealism never merged with application. Those unadulterated values lived in my soul, blindly guiding me from one life tragedy into another and none were more tragic than those of the last four-years.

Please peruse embedded videos, identified by “Video” in chapter titles. A couple are critical in understanding the psychology at play.

‘The Wisdom’ Within this Wisdom Quest

Family are a lot like goldfish. Their affections grow to endure only what fits comfortably within their own environments. I watched what felt like helplessly, with new spouses and newborn children growing into adulthood, as the family I thought I knew mutated into something wholly unrecognizable.

wisdom2‘The wisdom’ I leave for you is rooted in manipulation. Don’t think you know enough about this already — you do not. Manipulation is, by its very nature, secreted deep within the bowels of each generation’s search for importance within their family hierarchy.

Manipulation stems from insecurities and within a family unit requires crafty, deceptive rumormongering of more than one to make it work. Willing gamers are always the least secure. A more independent, concentrated form of manipulation is within the marriage itself and the gamer is always the spouse. Those types of spouses are, however, always on the prowl for a hierarchy weaker link, drawing in others to give their prowess strength of numbers.

The larger a family the more insecure personalities there are in it and the more dangerous their game. My biggest failing was – I was not insecure. I ignorantly loved and trusted, forcing myself to do that even when I sensed otherwise … because that pure grain of idealism is what was so staunchly etched into guiding me. That over-trusting unawareness, the confidence it mustered and the successes it achieved made me the natural, easiest family target of scapegoating.

Manipulation and rumormongering work to erode all we thought we knew about our family’s fishbowl. If we are secure in ourselves and especially when we’re young, it’s too easy to dismiss red-flag behaviors as mere glitches when they are anything but. When you sense a ref flag, it is a red flag. Pay attention to it. Never ignore your gut instincts – never.

My family being fragmented at an early age brought all the insecurities of a second stepfamily. Even natural families have their over-indulged favorites or diabolical gamers. It may be too early for you to see this in your immediate family, but it is lurking. Trust me on that. You may already have a sense of the red flags you’ve ignored because you don’t know how to commit to handling them yet. Trust your gut. Gut instincts are always reliable. Never ignore a red flag. Explore it. That’s your instincts telling you “wait a minute, you really need to look at this.”

A late-comer in our family had a keen knack for charismatic persuasion and that was the sustenance for all that was to go bad in the years that followed. Those less secure found The Persuader a keen means to filling their emotional needs. It could be equated to a football game, with the more-experienced coach directing cunning plays while youthful offense & defense on the field carried them out. A couple could only observe from the bench trying to figure out red flags and what the score was.

With these tactics always employed clandestinely and, by that, uncontested, over time it develops into a dizzying, whimsical beehive of plotting and counter-plotting that had no scoreboard and no end. The game itself became ‘who’ the family was. Those less-secure tirelessly schemed to unseat those naturally born into the hierarchy in trying to gain an elusive place they perceived as more self-important. A seat they perceived as being self-entitled. They had to have it. They had to be it. The only way to get there was to unseat the subject of their insecurities’ disdain.

To people of so little self-esteem, it is of no consequence when their goals damage others’ lives. There is no “for the good of the whole” mindset. Damaging others is a deliberate intent. Scheming and plotting is a reflex like breathing. They’ve learned it innately and perfected it all of their lives. It’s second nature. In family it becomes a giggling whimsy of self-aggrandizing in who can impose the most cunning. Moral conscience does not apply. Those of moral conscience are the “weaker” prey. Depriving another of moral conscience is essential to reaching their goals.

The underlying dilemma is that people trying to fill an internal void this way cannot possibly accomplish what they seek, precisely because the hole they try to fill is innate insecurity that’s permanently built into their psyche. It’s like trying to fill a pitcher with a hole in the bottom. No amount of gamesmanship can fill their sense of void and unease about themselves, making it all the more necessary for them to try.

Just like trying to fill that pitcher with a hole, when the water coming in is greater than the water going out the pitcher begins to refill. Similarly, gamesmanship replenishes the manipulator in feeling good about themselves again. But because of the hole (their insecurity) that sensation cannot last, so they keep taking their psyche back to the well to replenish that feel-good feeling. The process continues never ending else the pitcher becomes a useless vessel.

Much like an addiction, manipulation offers a temporary satisfaction in sensing power, relief and feeling-good. Like an addiction, the more successful manipulation is and the more people they can bring into it the more they need those highs and the more practiced they become at attaining them.

Lesson One: Do not be a silent player observing from the bench. Your gut instincts are always telling you something important.

 

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The next post is “Protected.” See its Top Menu for password.
Next: Letters… ~ Ch 2: Leveling & Scapegoating (Video)

For general information … video may contain foul language.

Letters to a Grandchild ~ PREFACE: My Wisdom Quest

retrospect1This series unveils epiphanies that shake a soul as much as ease a shattered heart. It proves it’s never too late to learn even when we think we’ve learned it all. This is a personal story of perplexing circumstances and the lessons learned in digesting its incomprehensible tragedy.

Dear Grandchild,

Retrospection weighs heavily with age. If not so for everyone, then either I need to know their secret or they need to know mine.

Purely by happenstance it’s a year to the day since I’d last posted. Given bouts of ill health, I’ve been making practical decisions like securing a grave and marker. I’ll rest back in the hometown between Dad and baby sister, both frequent subjects of earlier writings.

Children’s children are the crown of old men; and the glory of children is their fathers. [Proverbs 17:6]

Working through burial paperwork, it was odd to realize that Dad bought the plots when I was five and my sister was on the cusp of being born. Dad would’ve been your age now, myself the age of your little one. That brings generations closer in a more relatable way, imagining him young and not so unlike yourself. That was also when Dad & Mom changed my given name. I remember those days so vividly, with many visions of Dad in his signature khaki casual wear.

Dad kept a picture on the wall of his older brothers and himself circa 1930. It was professional for the day and then you were about five or six (again, Dad’s age in the photograph). You looked so much like him it was striking, everyone commented. You both were amazingly adorable looking with your coy smiles, big eyes hiding a twinge of orneriness and heads of curly dark hair.

I became a genealogy buff, so regardless where my PicDanBoonebody ends-up I wanted a grave marker. Dad’s line descends from England, from Daniel Boone’s aunt. Daniel is the renown 1700s American frontiersman. He was well known back in my day when schools taught proud American history. Your generation knew little of him. Sigh.

As most writers, I’ve spent a lot of this last year contemplating impressions of life, trying to determine whether I have any “words of wisdom” to leave for you. I guess we all want some insight that would be helpful to those we love … hoping we can help their lives by virtue of learning from ours. Living so long and the mere desire to do that seems like it ought to reap some fruit. If not, oh well. I tried. We can only try. So this is my “Wisdom Quest.”

This “Letters to a Grandchild” series describes profound lessons that only revealed themselves in the last few years. They are epiphanies that shook my soul as much as they eased a shattered heart. Despite my experienced years, it proves it’s never too late to learn from life and some of the most poignant lessons come late in it, just when we think we’ve learned all there is to know. The telling of this story unveils a perplexing set of real-time circumstances that I still struggle to accept.

Keep thy heart with all diligence; for out of it are the issues of life.  [Proverbs 4:23]

Until recently I’ve not been able to reasonably articulate the wounds of battle suffered in reaching these lessons’ understandings. As anyone with heartbreak knows, there are not adequate words to describe that kind of pain. But I know if I cannot get words written on a page then all hope for the truth of myrespect sister’s and my legacy, all hope for putting the aches to rest, is lost.

I may use the “protected” menu option if some of the stories get too personal. I’ve done my best to tell them objectively but they are so emotionally taxing it’s taken this long to get to a reasonable first draft.

These comprise what could easily be a tragic Lifetime movie. The horror plays in my head not unlike it did in real time. The ending is one I instinctively saw coming, regardless that I was determined to defy that logic until everything shattered into unintelligible pieces of gross disguise.

I had to fit the puzzle back together the only way it made sense and the picture that evolved was very different from any I could’ve imagined, nothing like the one that fell apart. Nothing would ever be the same. But the tragedy was necessary to get where I needed to be, to finally live with what really was, to once and for all put to rest life’s unrelenting pain.

The chapters will roll-out as editing and energy permits. My writing-goal used to be working through pain so I understood it. Believing now that I finally do heartunderstand it, I hope sharing will open eyes of those who are as naïve as I, before they end up in the same barren, “too late” old-age pit of regret and despair I did. If I can do that for anyone else then sufferings are made worthwhile. I suppose we all want to believe there is a way to make our sufferings worthwhile, to have them benefit someone. Now that is my writing-goal.

Every good and decent person deserves better. If this retrospection benefits someone else, praise God for that. Life is most often not what it seems.

 

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Next: Letters… ~ Ch 1: When I’m Gone (Video)

Miracles

“Miracle – An extraordinary event manifesting divine intervention in human affairs, such as the healing miracles described in the Gospels.” [Merriam-Webster Dictionary]

There are some people we could never convince of miracles and that’s okay. You either believe in miracles or you don’t. I do. I don’t profess many, given my age, though merely being here is probably the biggest one of my life. miracle1That’s considerably more complicated than could possibly be covered in one blog.

To put my claim to miracles in better perspective, it’s been 10-years or more since I recall the last one. I do believe miracles happen more regularly, every day in subtle forms that we fail to recognize. But this is one of those that really stands out.

One way I define miracles is how perfect they are in answering casual pleas I’ve made of God, as I go about the business of living life’s struggles. By “casual plea,” I’m not at all diminishing what I ask of Him as being something unimportant. It is important. To me. But when a problem seems insurmountable and the answer comes in more perfect form than I could ever imagine to even ask of Him … that is God Himself stepping right up to the plate.

God & I seem to have this arrangement that works: I do my best to deal with what I can and when I need Him to intervene, He’s there with undeniable clarity. Praise God I’ve been unusually healthy the last few years. Not even a head cold, which is highly irregular for me (and I do praise Him for that). Years prior were seriously troublesome ones, both in physical and emotional health.

Though seemingly nothing of consequence, my vision had turned weird and I learned I needed cataract surgery. All of my friends commented how miracle3easy it was and how well they could see afterwards, so that was something to look forward to. But given what I had been through, medical experiences taught me to be cautious and I have to admit, I was probably more anxious about this than considerably more serious health events in all of my years prior.

As anyone who’s ever had surgery procedures knows, there’s always a bunch of doctor appointments and blood labs and preliminary tests. Mine were compounded by past health issue requiring clearances to have the surgery, but those all went well. Then I learned the hospital wouldn’t let me have surgery unless personal family or a friend drove me there and back. Then I learned that included transportation again the next morning for a post-op exam. THEN I learned they don’t do both eyes at once … silly me.

I did think they’d do both eyes at once, even after they described having an eye patch. It made perfect sense, slap my forehead, since you can’t walk around with both eyes patched at the same time. Oh sigh.

My problem is, I’ve not lived here very long and because of health issues I rarely leave the house so I’ve not made any friends. I’ve no family I can call. And they won’t let you use public transportation, it has to be someone you know. I’d never been in this position before so I didn’t know what the heck to do.

I got on the phone trying to find a resource to drive me to and from the surgery and I was willing to risk driving myself with an eye patch the next day. Some of my more serious health issues were with eye conditions, so I was accustomed to functioning with patches, I was sure I could do that much.

Because of society’s litigious mentality today and liabilities associated with it, there is no one who accepts the risk of transporting people in situations like this. Whatever chance I might have to find a program that could help was months away boggled in government red tape.

I’d joined a church but stopped going shortly after, in good part because of health issues. I’d met a lady there whom I knew to be a wonderful person and a friend to the extent we could share a friendship. She was always on the go and I was a home recluse, so we saw one another maybe once a year, if that much. I could not bring myself to ask this of her. I fought it until I could fight it no more, finally setting my pride aside. It was all I could do.

What a God-Send this woman is. Not only did she unbegrudgingly pick me up to get me there before 6am, she stayed and waited then listened to doctor instructions afterwards. She took me out to breakfast and later that day brought back a hot dinner meal. She insisted she would take me to the next day’s post-op appointment, a drive I was going to do myself and what a blessing miracle2she did. I was not in any shape to have driven myself.

I thought I still had plenty of time to get the second eye done, but learned at the post-op, for a couple of reasons, it needed to be in the next two weeks. I had totally planned to manage that without imposing on her again. By the time we left the post-op exam, my eyes were welling in tears. Between all of the pre-worry and how kind this woman was already, I had no idea if I was going to have the second eye done. I was overcome with emotion. I was drained. I did not know what else to do. I had no more answers.

This lady stepped up big time, insisting she would do all of this all over again next week. She didn’t flinch. She didn’t hesitate. She didn’t utter a sigh. When I called to affirm that appointment, the receptionist said another lady had overheard my dilemma and left her phone number for me, too. I was double-blessed. I was overwhelmed by a complete stranger’s compassion. I couldn’t hold the tears back longer. I broke down and bawled and bawled like a baby. Like a baby, I bawled.

I think part of the emotion was the harsh reality that I am so helpless. I’d never felt that way before. I’d never felt this alone or in this much need. It was certainly a humbling experience. But more than that, God gave me another miracle, bringing more than I needed in such perfect timing and wonderful abundance of kind-hearted people, from the infrequent friend to the stranger in the waiting room to the receptionist who took it upon herself to get involved.

So the next time you’re overwhelmed, when circumstances seem bleakest, when you don’t think you can possibly find your way around an obstacle, say some prayers. They’ve always worked for me. Thank You, God, for being there. And thank You for other good people you brought into my life. Please bless them abundantly.

Be a miracle to someone your life touches.

 

Rita Marie’s Footprint on the World

“In first realizing her time was so limited, she wondered ‘what footprint’ she had left on the world, as if regrettable she hadn’t left a more prominent one. Oh my goodness, Marie. How do I even try to tell you …”

A good, healthy, unexpected cry is something I forget is there. It’s a reminder that I do still feel and that there are still people worth feeling for. As if a complete contradiction of itself, spur of the moment crying makes me feel better, softens a blow, cleanses my heart’s sadness into something fresh and new again.

cry1Yesterday’s cry was for a lady, who, upon meeting her, I knew is a dear and kind human being. She spoke of similar values as I and without knowing it or having the slightest idea herself, she affirmed my sanity with remarkably gracious insights. I really like who she is as a person so that meant it was okay to like ‘me.’ Liking oneself can be a more difficult task than many realize. She quickly became very special to me and it was obvious she is a special person to all those she knows.

Her name is Rita Marie and she’ll tell you with a cheerful, toothy smile how people just call her one or the other and she answers to either. So I call her Marie.

When I met Marie in the beautiful weather of a few short months ago she was recovering from brain cancer surgery and using a walker, determined to make the not-so-short trip to our mailboxes. That walk is a bit too long even for me but she did it. She grew concerned that she’d forgotten her hat to cover its scar, not in vanity but thinking the scar might be unpleasant for others.

Being about the same age and having cancer recovery in common, we chatted for a long time. I saw clearly all of the nuances we had in common, from overstocking toilet paper and needing our own space to surviving chemo. There was always a family member staying with Marie by then and she is blessed with a large, loving one.

Still taking chemo, every time she could get out when I walked my new pup she’d have a dog treat in hand to win her over. I was surprised how my timid pup, otherwise freakishly shy of strangers (even those bearing treats), took right to Marie. Every time we walk outside now, like an overly intrusive neighbor, the first thing my pup does is check out Marie’s place, looking into windows for activity. Her ears perk up as if to say, “What’s going on in there, what’s Marie doing without us, wanna go [pant pant] wanna go?”

A few weeks ago Marie took a downturn, sleeping inordinately with cognitive difficulty, struggling to collect her thoughts and find her words. Her brain cancer is growing, they’ve stopped treatments and she’s said to have three days to three weeks to live. Even with all of this, this lady exemplifies her unique specialness. She remains a glowing testament to loving life, to loving family and to the tenacity of just being a loving, good person. That’s not easy for most people in her condition, but it comes naturally for Marie. I’ve never seen anything like it.

Marie’s large family is with her now and she receives many visitors. Last evening they invited me in for dinner and there is nothing warmer than being among a family that’s so loving to one another and gathered for the sake of such a special lady. Marie’s two sisters tend to her every need and I presume to everyone else who comes and goes, making it possible for so many people to come and go. Marie’s daughter,footprint2 son and niece and their spouses add a spicy flavor of youth and laughter to the mix. I was so honored to meet her family and to be able to be a part of them.

Marie is in bed most of the time now. She sleeps so much they don’t hesitate to wake her because she goes right back to sleep again. I am absolutely amazed by the familiar, cheerful, broad smile that is Marie’s face staring back every time they do wake her. She’s too weak to keep her eyes open so she’ll sit wearing varying degrees of her genuine smile, often finding short phrases to let you know she hears what’s going on and she is taking part. Then she’s back to dozing until you engage her again and she responds not missing a beat until there’s another lull.

My pup jumped on Marie’s bed and gently licked her hands. They say animals sense these circumstances and that was an unusual thing for her to do, in such a crowd of strangers and with so much going on. I believe she was returning Marie’s love by extending her own.

I don’t recall in recent years laughing so much as I did last night with Marie, Linda & Rose her sisters, her daughter & her niece (and whoever else wandered in & out). All of us ladies gathered by Marie’s bedside in a jovial, clucking hen party that gapped Baby Boomer, GenX and Millenials as if we were all just giggling teenagers again on another sleepover.

We asked Marie silly questions about her Halloween costume and high school crushes and told stories of going into labor with our children. She broke into audible chuckles several times at jokes we made or stories we told and, hand to the air, I could’ve sworn she had the biggest laugh over my slightly off-color one. When it was time to go, she offered, with her eyes still closed but that special alive Marie-smile on her face, “I had fun tonight.”

footprint1As did I, Marie. As did I. You warm my heart so.

Marie said to me not long ago, in first realizing her time was so limited, she wondered “what footprint” she had left on the world, as if regrettable she hadn’t left a more prominent one. Oh my goodness, Marie. How do I even try to tell you the unique specialness that you are is so much more than many of us know how to give or have the gift to leave. I’ve only known you a few months and you’ve influenced my life in more touching and tender ways than some of my own family in entire lifetimes. Your footprint has an indelible place in my heart. As long as we live, you live.

That’s one doosey of a footprint, Marie, times all of the people your life has touched over its many years. I hope I can leave just one person behind who will say as much about me. My world is a considerably better place simply because you and your smile and your sense of humor and your family and your kind ways were in it. There can be no better footprint to leave than that.

The tears I cry are not for you, Marie … they are for my loss and the world’s loss of such a uniquely delightful, joyful and graciously compassionate woman. God rest your soul in a seat on high near Him, where you are comforted and content in wait for us. I don’t know if God allows hen parties the likes of what we just had, but knowing God’s perfect ways I know that party will be an even better one.

 

Monday’s Best Buddy

An elderly aunt said of being newly retired, “I don’t know how we ever found the time to work.” Once retired you do find yourself cramming so much nothingness into one day that you’re wondering the same thing. I’m sure others live much busier lives than I, but even I think it.monday3 If I were to come up with that on my own I’d probably exchange “time” with “energy.”

Something else she said that often comes to mind is “I’ve lived too long.” If you haven’t lived a full life yet you probably don’t get it. But, oh, how many times I’ve been so waylaid by today’s times that I have thought that, too.

This can come over you by simply keeping up with technology, shaking your head at the outer limits of society & politics you no longer recognize, or young adults who talk so rapidly you can’t make words from their sentences let alone keep up with what they think they’re conveying; or those so rude trying to prove quick-wittedness over someone three-times their age (really now, ahem, just what does that say). It is okay, youngin’s, to fully pronounce words and be courteous of your elders. It’s almost like young folks talk in the abbreviations they use to text because they think it takes too much time to speak in complete thoughts. Please don’t tell me this is just me … .

monday2My grandpa used to say “Don’t get old, you won’t like it.”  Now how true is that, for those of us who know? Like it’s something you could avoid. No matter how much you may put into not doing that, it happens. It’s going to happen if you’re fortunate. The alternative isn’t any alternative. And it is not fun, in small part thanks to those youngins who enjoy playing with your slower-thinking self. So stop kidding yourselves.

Of the Mondays when you refill pill boxes – if you’re someone on many medications – you know my aunt’s saying all too well, “Monday is stress day.” Oh my goodness, the energy and thought required to keep all of those pills straight in dropping them into their various little “a.m., monday5p.m.” and/or “noon” containers is mind boggling and that assumes your old stiff fingers can hold them long enough to get them in the right slot.

God forbid the supplier changes pill manufacturer so its color & shape is suddenly different. That throws your whole system out of whack. Keeping track of which medications you’ve ordered or still need to order or whether it came in after you ordered it – and which source is the most cost effective to order from  – is truly enough to wear a business mogul’s mind thin. I mean, it’s almost enough to make you think you can go back and work circles around those young folks.

Indeed, getting old is no fun, you think you might’ve lived too long and it’s hard to find enough time or energy to do anything else in one day’s time.

monday1Netflix is my best Monday buddy. When all is said & done and I’ve spent the energy & time to make those business calls and I’ve finally worked through youngins’ technology & gibberish to actually get something done and I’ve filled those pill boxes and ordered again for yet another week … Netflix is the reprieve that lets me ‘not think’ about any of it anymore. Well, not until next Monday – or maybe as soon as tomorrow if something got screwed up, which it usually does with today’s youngins and technology.

I don’t know how I ever found the time to work.

 

In response to WordPress Daily Prompt, “Buddy.”

 

Triple Whammy ~ The White Light

You learn no one, not even a doctor, knows your body like you do … You also learn they soon think you’re so addicted to their miraculous selves that you create reasons to come back to them, for whatever ungodly reason that is I cannot myself fathom.

With all of the tests that’d been done in the last few years I couldn’t believe none of them addressed this. Until then I was an attractive and surprisingly strong woman with a willingness and ability to stand up to physical challenges like clearing a lot for home construction to primping and dressing in all that’s feminine and being all that’s fragile. I enjoyed that stark contrast of myself.

In good part ignorance, breast cancer diagnosis was met with the same determination of self. When insurance proved treatment costs were more than could be reasonably afforded, I didn’t hesitate to tell the doctor, “I’ll just have to die from this, I can’t afford it.” Thank God for such a good and caring doctor as I had, who spun a whole new availability of insurance coverage that afforded treatments and only by that grace of God am I here.

In the middle of breast cancer treatments and maybe a result of them being known for degenerating the immune system I developed Melanoma skin cancer. That was expediently removed. Both were burdened by a narcissistic husband. His sarcasm, “You’re not the first person who’s ever had cancer,” was smug and snarling, his way of telling me to ‘get over myself’ so he could get on with a life uninterrupted.

Countless tests and blood labs followed. One prognosis after another indicated metastasized cancer so a whole new round of labs & testing would start allWhite8 over again. Eager to be done with it all I’d had the port in my chest, that received chemotherapy, removed as soon as treatments were done and paid little attention to an ache that remained.

Three-years later I was just beginning to put cancer in my past. I never understood if I would’ve naturally aged so much or if these effects had thrown me into old age more quickly. But I was alive and, after all, that was the goal. Finally I walked out of the doctor’s office in remission. The suffering was – finally – over. I could finally return to whatever new normal was. No more worrying about testing and procedures. Now all I had to do was feel healthy again.

Within the month the port implant pain was more than a slight ache. I’d gone to the local ER twice and they treated me like a hypochondriac. I saw a specialist out of our rural area and his reaction was just as insulting. When you’ve gone through what I had, you learn that no one, not even a doctor, knows your body like you do – and I knew this wasn’t something to dismiss. You also learn that they soon think you’re so addicted to their miraculous selves that you create reasons to come back to them, for whatever ungodly reason that is I cannot myself fathom.

white4Going shopping this particular morning I’d taken two aspirins, which was highly irregular after the lengths I’d taken to rid myself of pills in never wanting to take another. In good part that was so I didn’t have to deal with the huffs & puffs of whining annoyance from the narcissist when discomfort came over me while we were out.

That spring morning was deliciously bathed inwhite5 fresh, crisp, bright sunshine and the first warm breezes of a broken winter. Our way home from town was scenic, down a hilly, two lane highway lined with big lush trees that’d just come back in new foliage.

The bright cloud-puffed sky started giving way to a more gleaming white and, as it did, the lush green tree line turned just as ominously dark. It was changing hues so intensely I refused to take my eyes off of the sky but every blink revealed an even more glowing white with blacker images of leafed trees.white2

To avoid distraction from what was so awesomely changing in front of me, I could only mutter, “Everything’s turning white – every thing is turning white.” Other than a vague discomfort I had no pain, but I knew instinctively what was happening: I was dying of a heart attack. There was no question about that.

The foreboding sense of death first brought thoughts of whether bills were paid and if what was left of my living was in proper order. As if white6hovering over the vehicle I envisioned myself slumped lifeless in its seat. I was so intently focused on the illuminating white sky I wasn’t real sure if I was merely observing anymore.

Knowing well the inescapable truth of dying is just one more aspect of living and you only get once chance at it, I was consumed with intrigue about this experience that so baffles us. This was my opportunity to know. I wanted to see it. I wanted to experience it at every conscious level for as long as I possibly could.

As if my tether to God, if not fearing it was my only way to stay tethered to Him, I was not about to take my eyes white1off of the increasing white brilliance of that sky with its peripheral view of blackening tree line. After what seemed several minutes of these extremes, a rush of nausea overcame me and when I couldn’t hold up my head any longer my arms scrambled for nearby napkins and plastic bag.

I looked up again and the sky and tree line were normal. A strange disappointment set-in. Other than being weak I was none worse for the wear. We arrived home, I walked myself into the house and took more aspirin. I sat and contemplated whether going back to the local ER even made sense given how they’d dismissed me so out of hand more than once already. I decided to make that 15-minute drive back into town.

Reaffirming their hypochondriatic opinion, local ER kept me seated in the waiting area until every other person was treated and there was no one else to call. This was so typical of my life it almost felt normal. It was so blatant even the narcissist husband grew annoyed. When they finally started treating me a whole new flurry of medical staff was undeniably urgent. They prepared me for a life-flight into surgery elsewhere, which was ironically laughable given how long they’d kept me waiting. I could’ve driven it in quicker time.

They explained I’d had a heart attack … a “bad!” heart attack, everyone kept saying, with all of this renewed professional concern. Having trouble getting their needles into me they kept jabbing and I got sick again during the life flight. I was really getting weary of this stuff. The last thing I remember was the bustle of being prepped in surgery itself and some new ER guy telling me, “pull your pants down around your ankles.”

I suppose still annoyed by the stupidity of the local hospital and perhaps feeling spunkier on morphine than I probably should’ve white7while poised on this impossibly narrow gurney, I thought to myself, “you do it buddy.” I promptly advised him that I’d either take off my pants or I’d wear them but I was not going to “pull them down around my ankles.” I don’t know, for some reason that just felt wholly unacceptable and grossly insulting after all I’d been through and coming from some demanding know-it-all whipper snapper of a young man I’d never seen before.

In recovery and having heard from every nurse and doctor who’d tended to me say what a “bad!” heart attack I’d had, I asked the surgeon “Why does everyone keep saying I had a ‘bad’ heart attack … is there a ‘good’ one?” He explained the kind I’d had was so instantaneously deadly that almost no one gets to a hospital “in time” and how unique it was I had survived … (not that my local ER was any help whatsoever in accomplishing that).

God keeps us going through more than we – and doctors – can contemplate possible.

The narcissist husband wasted no time leaving me in ICU for his comforts of home. My 82 year old Father stayed overnight. As I recuperated the husband called sobbing like a child, complaining my aunt wasn’t compassionate when he’d called to tell her how hard my condition was on him … what a mean woman she was to not feel sorry for him. I was as shocked to look down at myself in that ICU bed – after a heart attack I’d barely survived – trying to find words to comfort this self-absorbed numbskull’s tears for his hurt feelings. That was the most surreal moment of all. You had to be there to appreciate the absurdity of it.

As for doctors, I couldn’t believe that in three-years of incessant blood labs and testing no one had monitored this condition. I couldn’t believe that any hospital’s ER staff could so blatantly mistreat someone with heart attack symptoms or, in my visits there, they hadn’t so much as done proper blood work. Some of them probably couldn’t believe and I imagine still tell the story of a woman in my dire straits refusing to ‘pull her pants down around her ankles’ for emergent heart surgery.

It was small consolation afterwards, but in follow-up with the local cardiologist, he actually apologized. He literally said “I’m sorry” for dismissing my symptoms. How many times do you hear a doctor say that out loud? Probably about as many times as those who manage to live through a ‘bad!’ heart attack.

Don’t ever take your eyes off the White Light.

 

In response to WordPress Daily Prompt, “Healthy.”