I have a special place in my heart for Fibromyalgia patients. In my 16 years of private family practice I had a very large collection of FMS patients. This was mostly because I “believed” that they had pain and that FMS was a “real” thing. More and more research is being done to try and clarify the abnormalities in the nervous system and develop treatments. Unfortunately, many patients are still told it’s “all in your head”. I guess that’s where the brain is and the nervous system begins. So technically, it may be in their heads!
These 3 tote bags have already “sold” for donations to the medical mission trip. It’s coming up VERY FAST – August 5 – 14!!! Stay tuned on the blog to see what we are doing each day. So far we’ve raised almost $5,000 towards the trip! The expenses for 4.5 out of 5 of us from Greencastle, PA have been covered! We haven’t decided who is only half-going yet…
So many recurrent nightmares across my lifespan. The first recurring one I remember was around age 9 or 10. I was in a haunted house with my family, but we would get separated and I’d be alone trying to find my way out. At the end I would find the exit but then have to go to the morgue and identify all my family members – the drawers were pulled out, each of them a corpse. The next one that occurred frequently was being chased by wolves in the upstairs of my house. They would catch up to me, bite my heels and I would leap like superman down my stairs. I woke up in terror before hitting the bottom which was never visible. Later were the parenting nightmares. I left the car seat on the roof of my car, in the 7-11, in a cave, in a tunnel or behind a SUV that was backing up. Many a night my poor husband would be jolted to consciousness by me jumping up and screeching “be sure you know where the kids are before you back up!”
The nightmare that has stayed with me persistently, from my teenage years to today is the one I call the “feather punch.” I am confronted with a thing that wants to overtake and kill me. Sometimes the thing is a person, sometimes a wild animal, a faceless dark power. I punch and punch and punch it furiously but nothing happens. My hardest, most powerful punches have no effect and the thing continues to press in on me until I am smothered, terrified, dying and I wake up.
I started Taekwondo when I was 16 and received a black belt from Grand Master Jhoon Rhee in 1986. And still my punches were feather light in my dream and I was overtaken. I went to medical school and received a “black belt” of academia with my MD in 1996. But my dream-self was still weak and ineffective and never prevailed. I started drinking when I was 15 and managed to obtain the “black belt” (of sorts) of alcohol consumption by age 42. But even inebriation and blackouts didn’t erase the dim knowledge that my punches could not beat my enemy. I quit Taekwondo. I quit medicine. I quit drinking. I admitted defeat.
That’s when God killed my enemy, not with punches or knowledge or substances but with a word – Jesus. I am a doctor again and I have a blue belt in Brazilian Juijitsu and a purple belt in MMA. I don’t drink alcohol because I don’t need it any more. I still have the dream now and again and my punches are still as ineffective. I fight with all my might and grow weary and sometimes even scared and a little banged up. But my nightmare ends differently. I am never smothered or overtaken or defeated. Rather, I emerge whole and alive and victorious, saved by the Word alone.
Depression has been a life-long problem for me. In the 70’s and 80’s there was no Prozac so my mom had to deal with my mood problems without meds. The best advice she had during my down times is something I use to this day. Her standard advice was to “do something nice for someone else”. My mom is a pragmatist, not overly religious or sentimental. She would hug me, kiss me, maybe take me shopping or to lunch and then basically tell me to stop thinking of myself for a few minutes. Continue reading “A piece of advice”→
Being old (for juijitsu – they never have masters divisions for women at age 48) – I have to pick the moves that allow me to get a takedown with the least amount of energy. Then I need to go straight into a submission (so the match is over) or side control (so I can rest).
I do really like this video – these are the moves I’m going to try out in the gym the next few weeks and see if any can fit into my Geriatric Game Plan:
My first thought when I read the prompt this morning was “The Glass Menagerie” by Tennessee Williams. I had to Google the play to remember the guy’s name who broke the unicorn’s horn – it was Jim O’Connor. Off and on today at work, I thought about Laura and her disability and shyness and screwed up family and broken unicorn. I couldn’t decide if I thought remaining the unicorn and isolated would have been better for her or if finally being just a regular horse and moving on with her life would be better. Neither option seemed good and I suppose that’s the tragedy of the whole play.
Perhaps because of the craziness in the world today, the headlines, the unrest, the death and disillusionment. Perhaps just because that play spoke deeply to my heart when I was in 11th grade and shards of those memories are still sharp in remembrance. Regardless, melancholy followed me most of the day.
During a patient lull late this afternoon, however, I was mindlessly staring at the computer screen imagining Laura’s broken unicorn in pieces on the floor. Suddenly another thought popped into my depressing contemplation of whether gorilla glue or epoxy would work. It was of the “Joshua” books I read in my 30’s by a Catholic priest named Joseph Girzone.
I read the whole series of books several times, often when I needed hope and encouragement. The character, Joshua, is based on Father Girzone’s fictional musings about what Jesus might be like if he returned today to small town America.
The only sequence I remember from the movie that was based on his book takes place in the barn where Joshua is living. A woman from the town is talking with him about how her life has been devastated since the death of her husband. She takes a glass vase and throws it on the ground to signify her life since that tragedy – shattered, unfixable, unrecognizable.
Later on, after Joshua has left the town, the priest is talking with this same woman. He suddenly remembers that Joshua had given him something for her. He holds out a beautiful glass figurine of a woman that had been crafted from the shards of the vase she had thrown. Taken aback, she holds it, studies it and then says slowly , “He made something beautiful.”
A completely new creation out of the broken pieces. That’s what Laura needed.
My mother made us write thank you notes when I was growing up. At first I really hated doing it but after a while I started writing letters to my grandparents just for the sake of writing to them. The best part was getting letters BACK in the mail! I wrote to my grandparents in Ohio at least every other month for most of my adult life until they were gone. When my Grandma Jane died I started writing her sister, Aunt Carolyn as my surrogate grandma. I still write to Grandma Alice who is 98 in Indiana. She types letters to me on her typewriter!!!
Any time I went to camp my mother planned out the letters so that I got a letter every day of the week. I was always the envy of my fellow campers.
I had pen-pals all over the world when I was in high school. I took German and French and had pen-pals in Germany, France, Portugal, Australia, Switzerland and Austria. I used to go to the post-office and buy “airmail” letters – they were made of a very flimsy paper and folded over to become the envelope.
I have known my husband since kindergarten and we started dating in college. He went every summer to USMC OCS (officer candidate school) when we were in college. I wrote him every day and had a great time decorating the envelopes with stickers and hearts drawn in crayon. Apparently, he had to do push-ups every time he got a letter and when I went to his OCS graduation his sergeant said he was glad to finally meet “the Crayola Kid”. Scott wrote me whenever he could and drew hilarious cartoons of what they were going through. My favorite was his take on being chased by a beaver in the dark when he was trying to be stealthy crossing a river during a night training exercise.
My mother still sends me a post-card no matter where she is traveling.
I still get to write letters. I sponsor children through the Christian Humanitarian organizations, Compassion International and World Help. I try to write to each child once a month. One month I will use the “online” letter writing app which is very easy and convenient. But on the alternating months I try to hand-write a letter to each child and include stickers and coloring pages. I also write letters through an organization called The Lydia Project which supports women with cancer. Every month I send hand-written cards to women with cancer to encourage them in the midst of struggle and illness.
I believe this is a mostly dying art. My kids snapchat, text, email and message their friends but never, ever sit down and compose a letter to their grandparents or pen-pals in other countries. They are missing out on the small joy of picking out the perfect card or piece of stationary; of mastering beautiful handwriting; of finding interest in daily life and conveying that to another; of sitting quietly and thinking exclusively about a particular loved one for an uninterrupted 10 or 15 minutes; of enjoying an interlude in busyness where thoughts and activity can slow down just a little bit for just a little while.