I had some outpatient surgery today to fix yet another recurring medical problem. I came home with a catheter, and I hate it. But it is what it is.
It really sucks having a broken body. On the plus side, I get a small break from work which I really, really needed.
See? Silver lining.
“To love life, to love it even when you have no stomach for it and everything you’ve held dear crumbles like burnt paper in your hands, your throat filled with the silt of it. When grief sits with you, its tropical heat thickening the air, heavy as water more fit for gills than lungs; when grief weights you like your own flesh only more of it, an obesity of grief, you think, How can a body withstand this? Then you hold life like a face between your palms, a plain face, no charming smile, no violet eyes, and you say, yes, I will take you I will love you, again.”
When the external world gets too much, it can be very healing to focus your attention in-ward…or at least, closer to home. So this morning, in an effort to distract myself from the dark clouds of my mind, and believing leaving the safe confines of my home wasn’t the best idea, I joined my husband in doing some much needed yard work.
It was a beautiful fall morning: bright despite being a mostly sunless sky, cool without being cold, fresh and crisp without being damp. Perfect weather for what promised to be sweaty, laborious work.
We have an area on the opposite side of our semi enclosed patio for storing yard equipment, firewood and, until this morning, all the debris that we’ve removed from the rest of the yard. We need to order more firewood, and needed to clear this space so we had a place to put it, so this morning, we broke up and bagged copious amounts of branches, rose bush brambles (damn, those thorns hurt) and matted bunches of old leaves. Then we whipped out the power saw and cut up the larger branches for burning in the fire place. We also cut up some old fence slats that had since been replaced, some plastic garden edging strip to put in the recycling bin, and raked off the leaves from the patio. (I don’t believe in raking and bagging leaves, although the guys from our lawn service do come once in the fall and clean up the bulk of them as part of our service.)
I always feel better when I am productive, and complete a task that I know needs doing. The time outside, the fresh air, the exercise, the distraction, and the accomplishment lifted my spirits somewhat and I was able to come in and enjoy some down time watching some favorite shows we had recorded and cuddling with the dogs. I’m not sure I’m really up for our plans out tonight (dinner and “Ragtime” with my Mom and Cousin), or that the clouds have fully parted, but I’m in a better mood and frame of mind than I was this morning, so here’s hoping it all goes well.
Sometimes, life is too overwhelming, and I have to cancel all my plans and stay inside, tucked away from the world and other people. Sometimes that helps…
If you can’t change your situation, change your perspective.
Due to a compilation of work and health stresses that all converged, a couple weeks ago, on a joint moment of immediacy (i.e. “This must be taken care of now”) I found myself in familiar emotional territory – overwhelmed, anxious, angry, and questioning whether and how I could get through it. It would have been hard enough to deal with either work or health – having to deal with both, simultaneously, taxed me greatly.
It is a common idiom that “that which does not kill us, makes us stronger.” Were that literally true, I’m fairly certain I could bench press a house. I fear that, more likely, I have a limited amount of coping ability and each challenge chips away at my reserve. When things crash, it seems to hit me harder, last longer, and have farther reaching negative effects.
I worry about how low I get, and how much harder it gets to plow through; but worrying gets me nowhere so, despite everything, I just keep plugging along, hoping the same momentum and stubbornness that has gotten me this far, will keep me going.
Sometimes, the only choice we have is to keep on going.
And so I do.
It’s October 31st already, and you know what the means: neighborhood rug rats ringing your doorbell and begging for treats. 4 years ago, we drank the Kool-Aid and became a candy dispensing household, but we do it our way: Mom comes over to actually answer the door and hand out candy (she loves the kids and costumes, so it’s a treat for her) while we keep the dogs calm, watch seasonal movies and enjoy adult beverages. We always watch “It’s The Great Pumpkin, Charlie Brown” then alternate through a handful of favorites: Monsters, Inc., Fright Night, Lost Boys, Hocus Pocus, Witches of Eastwick, Practical Magic, The (1976) Paul Lynde Halloween Special, Young Frankenstein, Wizard of Oz, Shaun of the Dead, Rocky Horror Picture Show, Nightmare before Christmas, and the occasional classic monster flick involving Frankenstein, the Werewolf or Dracula. Sometimes, we opt for a Buffy marathon. I don’t enjoy horror flicks, so we always avoid those.
The only decorating we do is to put green lights in our outside lamps and a plastic light up Jack O’Lantern in the window. We also make the dogs wear their halloween costumes, which they’ve worn every year since being part of the family. Rita Mae wears her Wonder Dog outfit, Harvey, his Batdog outfit.
Harvey is usually at Rita’s side, but this year, he petered out early and collapsed into his puppy bed to get some rest and relaxation.
It may not be the most thrilling, boisterous or exciting of celebrations, but it’s become our tradition and works well for us.
To all those struggling with chronic illness of any kind, parental struggles, financial issues, addiction, crappy jobs, any other struggle I’ve missed, or just plain pushing through life despite all the crap, I raise a glass to your struggle! A hand painted, rainbow martini glass filled with delicious Blueberry Cosmo (or something non alcoholic for those inclined), but a glass none the less.