This is a quick post in praise of sleep! I have had three nights of sleep in a row!!! For the first time in several years. And, here is what finally helped me: MELATONIN! There are going to be a lot of people out there who will say, “I told you so!” And it’s true that several friends have been telling me for years to try Melatonin,but it never worked for me before. Here’s the secret: I wasn’t taking a big enough dose!!! I should have known! I tried Melatonin several times in the past, but it never kept me asleep, and I usually ended up with a headache. The other night I was just desperate enough (after about a week of restless nights with 3-4 hours of sleep each night) to try doubling the dose from 3 mg to 6 mg, and, low and behold, it worked! I slept through the night!!!!!
So, apologies to everyone who recommended this wonderful solution in the past. And apologies to all my friends who have been trying to help me over the years. I love Melatonin! But keep checking back! I’ll let you know if it continues to work over a long period of time. IBad news: on the bottle, it says not to keep taking Melatonin over a long period of time or it could have bad side effects! Help!! What do I do now? I guess I just bet caught up on my sleep and then have a few more rough nights. In the meantime, how about sending in your favorite sleep remedies? I know some people have submitted them before, but I could use help, especially since any kind of real drugs hasn’t worked for me in the past!
My retiring mind is on the mends. It’s a fighter! I’m on the other side of a health crisis. Physical conditions finally identified, and I have clear directives for maintaining my physical, mental, emotional, and spiritual well-being.
My days begin in deep gratitude. I wake up. Others don’t. I’m not in pain. I herd bottles of pills around, vitamins and minerals and one for blood pressure, until I get them all down, generally needing 2-3 cups of tea to do so.
I make it my job to laugh at least 3 times daily. The shaking, hurting belly laughter, you know, that breaks out from between your legs, whereas you just might pee yourself, if not sling snot, piggy snort or cry. Sometimes I laugh at myself.
I’m at that age where you have to have TESTS and PROCEDURES that nobody really wants to talk about: example, the colonoscopy. At my appointment, I arrived feeling confident about the necessity for this procedure and what to expect. I balked upon entering a very crowded waiting room. My ticket was number 26. I took a seat and summoned my big girl attitude.
My name was called. I was ushered to a room, guided through changing into a gown and positioning myself on a table. I would watch the exploration of my guts on a big screen. I thought the whole thing to be cool, like my own Magic Science Bus adventure.
I greeted and asked the doctor, “Have you really seen 25 assholes today”? She blanched but continued her preparations. Her nurse struggled to keep a straight face. My excitement and curiosity blinded social decorum, “What kind of doctor are you? What did you have to study”? I continued my own bedside banter. The doctor muttered something about gastrointestinal something or other. She was quick, thorough and seemed surprised that she didn’t discover nothing from rooter to tooter.
Fast forward. Last week, I began a more aggressive response to the arthritis along my spine’s lumbar region. A young physician and two assistants injected epidurals into my lower back to shrink bulging herniated disks and relieve pain, spasms and numbness in both legs and feet. I was positioned face down on a table. My pants were rolled and tucked to reveal the small of my back and a behind that gives “mooning” a whole new concept. Think, “A Total Eclipse of the Heart” (as in cardiac arrest) or “Bad Moon Rising”. They informed me about possible discomfort as the series of injections begin.
As the team worked, they chatted about a ten dollar taxable bonus check gained for their personal healthy health practices. What could you buy with less than ten dollars, they lamented. The physician, young and slim said, “SUBWAY”! She loved SUBWAY! They discussed in details the variety of breads and endless combinations of meats, cheeses and veggies. Mind you, I was being stabbed in my behind. They asked if I liked SUBWAY. I told them about how I loved a very carefully constructed BLT Footlong on wheat, with spinach instead of lettuce.
We were all done in about 20 minutes. I was sat up, stood on my feet and given after-care instructions. Did I need a wheelchair? I bristled. I was independent and capable. I stepped, and my right hip swung like a wagon turning a treacherous corner. Tried again, and my step produced a swagger and a slow dragging foot. I walked like a pimp! They assured me this would pass. I told them that I really hoped they wouldn’t think of my butt every time they went to SUBWAY. We laughed. I t wasn’t the socially polite and awkward giggling but deep women’s laughter. I accepted the wheelchair.
Despite trekking along a path I never imagined to take, I remain really optimistic. I take my vitamin L (for laughter) as often as I like, it’s addictive! It’s real medicine.
I must confess, when this book Not Done Yet: A Tale of Transformation Through Transplant Surgery was first brought to my attention, I felt a bit of trepidation, the trepidation that comes from social responsibility. After all, the writer was a neighbor, and reviewing it would be a neighborly thing to do. I thought, “Well, what’s the harm in a short read, a quick compliment, then back to the bedroom for a short nap?” Well, it didn’t turn out quite that way.
As sordid as the subject matter may appear on the surface (a tale of transformation through transplant surgery), the author, Sharon Lamhut Willen, handles it in amazing fashion. The book made me cry, but it also made me laugh: a hard thing to do when writing about our health care system in this country on a social level and about the incredible personal angst one must feel when dealing with the imminent failure of one’s vital organ.
So many rules and regulations, so many forms to file…a forest so thick there seemed no path through it. Yet the grace, strength, and most importantly, the spiritual faith Sharon brought to the battle won her the victory. The ease and eloquence of her writing turned this hard distasteful journey of hers (and her husband’s) into a triumphant mission from which we can all take solace and wonder.
Sharon’s story made me revisit my own story. It made me reflect on how I was handling my own distress, my own disease and dis-ease. Whether it be my Parkinson’s or just my own reflections on aging itself, I thought about how best to embrace it. What there is in this book, is validation. With dedication and diligence, my friend and author found equanimity, and with that tranquility, reaching a near Satori experience in some of her meditations.
And in the end, she proves once again that the love you take is equal to the love you make. And that love is the balm that eases the pain. She documents the process in a striking way in some very dramatic circumstances. She’s made it hard for me to give up, that’s for sure.
The book reveals a tear-filled wonder into what a truly loving couple can do even under the most dire of circumstances. In the end, the book is a story of journey, of discovery. It is not a journey of youthful exuberance about the world, but rather one of an older, wiser, more seasoned toughness. We travel with the author as she leads us along the way to her entrance of grace, in spite of its ineffable way. This is a book well worth your time. I will end by saying, I hope to go through the rest of my life with half as much dignity and grace as Sharon has.
If you recall, Amoke shared two posts with us last year about being a newly retiree. Here she is with her latest episode of herRetiring Mind.
February first marked year one into my retirement years. My initial days were filled with me grinning and chanting, “I don’t have to go to work no more” and “I can do anything I want” and “I was a teacher” – a lot. Time was now my BFF. I have a big imagination and the possibilities were like assorted valuables in a bank vault.
Here is the year in review. On the eleventh day of my second emancipation, I woke up in a world of hurt. I could not move without crippling pain. Thigh and shin muscles visibly pulled away from leg bones in an effort to detach from unrelenting spasms. My torso twisted into a chicken wing. An alarming mix of shrieks and sobbing brought both adult daughters to my bedside. They had never witnessed any medical emergency before. They didn’t know me as a crying woman. Agony painted sharp lines and pulsing circles that made my face a new kind of canvas. Never had I been so scared or felt so vulnerable. A trip to the ER informed me that I had bone on bone arthritis in my knees and sciatica. I got medication that made me itch. I was told I’d get better in time.
This misery lasted until late spring. Chiropractors, massages, herbal remedies brought some relief, however I began to feel mentally fragile. My shadowy thinking scared me. What if this was the beginning of my end? Would I have this pain for the rest of my life? Will I not be able take care of myself? A small voice whispered, “You wanted time to write stories, books and screenplays,” yet all I could think about was PAIN! I felt so helpless. God! Take me now!!!
I decided to make “last calls”. I scavenged through years of old phone books and started calling old friends. Most conversations picked up where the last one ended years ago. Laughter, tears and sharing from the heart brought me unexpected joys. I remembered simple pleasures of yesteryears. Friends reminded me of who I used to be – way back when. A Wild Woman! Crazy cool! Always into something or doing something. Unflappable, a friend said. Then, a minister friend of mine invited me to Las Vegas where she was creating a Goddess Study Center. I went for four days. At the fundraiser, I met many women my age and older who were cavorting with the Feminine Divine, nature, oracles, music, dancing, and luscious food and drink. God, I missed this energy!
I returned home, feeling empowered and reacquainted with my wild woman self. I called my former health clinic and told them that I had no insurance but needed to be seen, as I was not going to live my life in pain. If I fell down, I was going to keep getting back up. The hospital social worker assisted me. I was able to see a doctor and specialists who referred me for assessments that eventually led to better care and treatment. I am regaining stamina, strength, ability, and hope.
In those 365 days, I grieved the loss of the teacher persona. I grieved the changes in my body that are not related to physical illness but to inevitable aging. I discovered I can no longer put coins or dollars in my bra. Not only have the sisters gone south, they have left their posts. I grieved with friends who have lost their loved ones. I offered a shoulder to those caring for elder parents or siblings. I have neither. I am claiming retirement. I will keep calling for a purposeful and meaningful retirement just like I call on old friends. And by the time you read this, I will be on my way to Florida to visit a friend I have not seen in 27 years.
To learn more about Amoke Kubat (writer, artist and community elder living and working in North Minneapolis) visit her website.
Is it just us? Women over fifty who feel like our life is speeding up each day, and it’s all we can do to keep our head above water? Jogging in the woods this January, I felt that way, and thought if I could pretend it was 1970 something instead of 2014, then maybe I could slow my life down again to a pace more in keeping with my natural biorhythm. If it was 1970 something now, what would I still do, and what would be different? I would do what I did this morning – make coffee, meditate, say prayers/affirmations, and go running. I would be focused internally, connecting with and filling myself up first, before focusing on the expectations and demands of the external world. Then I may talk to people on my landline or meet them in person. I certainly wouldn’t turn my cell phone and computer on first thing in the morning or leave them on until bedtime to check voicemails, texts and emails. When I have done that before, I’ve felt pulled from my center. Depletion and disconnection followed, along with the feeling of treading water to keep my head above it. What can you do to slow down and release technology’s hold on you?
Claim one day a week to be completely unplugged from the internet or email.
Set boundaries around technology each day. Create a self-connection routine first thing in the morning and at the end of your day. This could include prayer, meditation, walking in the woods or on the beach, exercising, journaling, painting, etc. It’s very empowering to do this, because you’re telling yourself and the universe that you value yourself and your time, choosing to be proactive and creative vs. reactive and programmed.
Turn your computer off by 6:00 or 6:30 p.m. and don’t check email after this. Spend your evening connecting with friends in person or by phone. Read, create, play.
Put your cell phone away when with other people and mute it. Honor who you’re with.
Finally if you were to die tomorrow, would you wish you’d spent more time on email or the web? Or would you wish you’d spent more face to face time with loved ones or seeing the world?Barbara Brady, Coach & Trainer Global Leadership / Intercultural / Transformation through Transition www.mycoachbarbara.com