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Category Archives: meditation

Too much or too little?

I had a session with T today, which was kind of all over the map. Part of what I wanted to talk to her about was V (pt 1 and p2). I haven’t written much about my sessions with V because I haven’t felt like we’ve done what I wanted to do. Very specifically, I approached and began seeing V so that I could attempt to do hypnosis with a therapist who specialized in it, versus seeing a hypnotist who had no therapeutic training. I was looking to get assistance with my insomnia type symptoms (I say “insomnia-type” because I don’t feel I have true insomnia, I just have shitty sleep), which was something V said initially she could help me with. In the end, she preferred not to use “hypnosis” and instead went with “breathing and relaxation” techniques to work with me. As well as EMDR.

I’ve had seven or eight sessions with V, and while I did discover where my “not enough” feeling came from, I haven’t had any progress with my sleeping. And I haven’t felt any other progress, nor has V seemed interested in pursuing hypnosis. I also feel very uncomfortable that at least once a session, she’ll say she’s not sure if X will work, or that she also struggles with sleep but I shouldn’t be concerned it will always be that way for me. I just feel like I’m talking to a therapeutically trained ME. And I don’t want to talk to me… It sounds weird, but that’s how I feel. So I pretty much had decided to discontinue sessions with V, but I’ve never…fired a therapist before. I didn’t want to make V feel badly because I didn’t want to continue. I know it isn’t my issue and she is a professional, but honestly she feels so insecure to me that I hate to feed that feeling by firing her. But I’m not getting what I want from her and I don’t want to continue if that’s the case. I already have T–who works well for my on-going needs–I don’t need another regular therapist.

So when I sat down after dinner, I crafted a short but complimentary email, and after re-reading it a couple of times, I sent it. Now I wait to hear back. Unh.

My plan, at this point, is to give acupuncture a go. I’ve had it before and although it didn’t help at that point (for horrendous menstrual cramps about 16 years ago), I know it does work for a lot of things for a lot of people. I just need to work appointments into my schedule, because I know acupuncture is an on-going treatment that often works better with multiple appointments per week, or at least one every week for a lot of weeks. But I definitely want to give it a try, for the fatigue/insomnia as well as chronic pain. T approved of the plan I had set out, and reminded me that I need to keep myself balanced or I was liable to break down.

That was the other conversation I had with her. I wanted to really find out how I know if I’m just avoiding everything by trying to stay busy and/or zen/zone out. I know in my heart that I’m feeling the emotions relating to my mother’s illness and the situation we are in. But I am concerned that maybe I’m not giving my emotions ENOUGH attention. How do I know? How do I know that I’m not mis-using my coping skills for avoidance purposes? She said there’s no answer that suits everyone. To try to pay attention to whether I’m avoiding things that need to be done or dealt with by using my coping skills, or if I’m still addressing things while fitting my coping skills into my life. And that if I spend more time coping/avoiding some hours/days/weeks, that I shouldn’t be too concerned.

I’m not well known for allowing myself to be emotional, so I worry about me avoiding or repressing the emotions surrounding what is happening daily. I just can’t decide what feels right and balanced. T tells me to quit worrying about it. Seriously, has she met me? 🙂

 

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Picture this…

Oh yes, well, um, sorry, but no can do.

Ask me to picture something in my mind and my creative brain will give the a description of the “picture” to the smallest detail you require, but I cannot actually picture what was described. I can’t bring up an image if I close my eyes. I do not see a photo, a television or movie screen, art on a canvas, my husband’s face, my beloved deceased Sweet Pea…

Ask me to describe any of those things and I can (and will). Ask me where something is in my house and I can tell you, down to what close, what shelf, which side of the shelf, behind what other object. I can…but I can’t bring up an image of that item. I’m broken that way, and I don’t know why.

The reason behind this weird rant is that I get to fly (woo hoo–not) in September to my niece’s wedding. I haven’t flown in more than 25 years. Prior to that, I flew several times…mostly on full size airplanes, but twice in a small six-seater plan (flown by my aunt and uncle). Not one of the flights I’ve been on has been uneventful. I’ve had really bad take-offs, really bad turbulence, really bad landings. One flight had turbulence the entire flight. Another flight, we were landing in a storm and the 747 we were on–full size plane–actually tipped sideways as we were descending to the runway. The flight with my aunt and uncle, the landing was so windy that not only did the plane sway violently as we tried to descend, but my two younger cousins who were sitting across from us, facing us, were throwing up as we tried to land. And they flew almost every weekend with their parents (my aunt and uncle–the pilots).

I don’t like to fly. I’m not a good flyer. I will pretty much drive almost anywhere rather than fly. But driving to my niece’s wedding did not seem to be prudent, in that the drive would be 12-14 hours long, for a four hour wedding. And the wedding is on a Sunday afternoon, so getting home would take us into the work week, which was going to be a problem for Hub. In addition, if I drove, my parents were going to want to drive with us…and my father is not a good driver anymore. It’s sad to say, but true. He has some physical issues that wouldn’t be good on a 12 hour trip, and he’s not one to let others drive even though we’re all perfectly able. Plus, his reaction time isn’t so good anymore. And no matter how I tried to work it, I couldn’t talk my way out of attending the wedding (I’m not particularly close to my niece as my brother and his family have lived that distance away from us for most of her growing up years and they rarely visit).

So to that end, we have to fly to the wedding. Hub and I are flying into the destination Sunday morning and flying home Sunday night. We’ve made this decision because of Butthead, who had her crutiate ligament surgery less than four weeks ago. She’ll still be in “recovery” when we need to be at the wedding, so we don’t want to leave her for too long. We’re fortunate that a very good friend of mine is going to come stay with the dogs while we’re gone for the day…and I trust her with our dogs. Before we go and after we get back, we’ll be watching my parents’ dog, too. But she can’t be with Butthead in a normal fashion because Butthead can’t play yet (see crutiate ligament recovery), so we have to restrict their together time and it has to be very supervised.

I was trying to find ways to make flying an easier experience for me. Initially, T suggested hypnotherapy, and I tried to get appointments with local hypnotherapists, but one was booked for a year (a YEAR), and the other could only fit me in with two appointments before the flight, one of which was barely three days before the flight, so I cancelled those. I tried a third hypnotherapist, but she was traveling in August and September and wouldn’t be able to fit me in before the flight. I was hoping to try other options, one of which was a guided meditation someone made for me to reduce my flying anxiety. Although it was a nice meditation, it included bringing up a picture of a plane in my mind and replacing it with a picture of something nice. But I realized at that point, I wasn’t able to bring up either image.

So I turned to youtube hoping to find some videos on hypnotherapy and/or relaxation techniques for flying. But once again, they were all trying to get me to PICTURE things in mind. Picture things to relax, picture things to move into a hypnotic state. I can’t do those things, and I was stressing out so much over it that I was in tears. Hub told me there must be another way to relax or move into a hypnotic state without picturing things, but I couldn’t find anything. Everyone wants you to picture good things, or picture a staircase, or picture your loved one…a beautiful meadow, a waterfall… and I can’t. It’s so frustrating it really pushed me over it tears. It’s the first time I’ve cried since my second surgery. And it wasn’t hormonal, it was just pure frustration and distress. And it sucks.

I don’t know what’s going to happen. I hope I’m going to be able to get through the flight(s) easily. I’m not thinking about the anxiety of the flight, I’m more thinking about how annoying the trip is going to be. I’ve never been through today’s security measures at an airport (again, haven’t flown since 1989) or had to think about getting patted down or going through an xray machine. Or the size of our carry-on bags. Or how big and busy the airports will be, or the parking… I’m bringing my crochet and a book, and my iPod. I hope I’ll be able to distract myself enough to not be miserable the whole flight.

 

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Mowed me a lawn…

Two weeks ago, I wanted to try to trim the grass along our fence because it looked like crap and Hub hates trimming. But I couldn’t use the trimmer, it was too difficult for me. So I asked Hub to do it, and then I asked him to help me learn how to use the riding mower. It’s a zero turn thingy, so it has these two handles that you have to coordinate to keep the mower going straight. I am not coordinated. I can’t drive a stick shift car. But he helped me get it out of the shed, then showed me how to use it. Ya’ll, it was AWESOME. We have a little hill in the back yard, so once I got used to that–i.e. that I wasn’t going to fall over–I would pick up speed to go down the hill. The weather was really nice, sunny and cool with a breeze. And when I hit that hill and picked up speed, it was just fun. Like riding a go-cart. And the mower is LOUD, so I felt very zen-like because I couldn’t hear anything. My thoughts were drowned out. I was concentrating on using the handles to follow my tracks from the previous round, I was feeling the sun and the wind. I was just zoning out and I really felt good. I was tired when I was done from all the bumping and jostling, but it felt like such an accomplishment. I did the back yard, then stopped. Hub did our front yard area (which is really an empty lot that we thought we might parcel off and sell some day) because I didn’t think I could do it all and still be able to function physically the next day.

So today, with the beautiful weather we had, I decided to do the lawn again. Once we got the mower out of the shed, I was off. And it happened again…that zen-ness of just mowing. Noise and wind and going round and round. I decided to go ahead and do the front yard, too. I got it all done without any issues (the first time I mowed I ran into two of our gutters. I mean, I really messed up one gutter and I REALLY knocked over a pipe that goes into the ground from our gutters in another area, but luckily no permanent damage there, so far…) and it felt awesome. I know it’ll all be more difficult over the summer in the heat and the humidity. And realistically, depending on when my hysterectomy is scheduled, I probably won’t be able to mow all summer…but knowing I was able to do it was pretty freaking cool. And knowing I could do something that a) Hub dislikes doing and b) will free up some of his time, which he can then use to do something else I can’t do and c) I didn’t think I could do.

My only concern is what physical after-affects there might be. Controlling the mower is not easy, and that means stress on my arms and shoulders and neck, all of which are weak (and painful) spots for me. The bumping around on the mower isn’t entirely comfortable either, which could affect my back. But we’ll see tomorrow…if there are tears when I can’t get out of bed or move, I’ll know I did too much.

My last visit with T, I told her about the first time I mowed. And that I hiked into our back woods with Hub to put up no trespassing signs (we keep seeing people walking around back there looking for deer antlers, but it’s private property and also…it’s pretty messy. If someone trips over a dead tree and gets hurt, we could be liable…) and not once during the “hike”–which really was more of a walk while avoiding poison ivy and marshy ground–did I worry about getting hurt. Or getting stuck. Or not being able to get back out.

I told T that I’ve been feeling less anxious. It’s a weird feeling because I almost feel unemotional…but not. I don’t spend as much time looking into the future or imagining what might happen. I’m learning to say (and think) that what’s going to happen is going to happen. And that I will deal with (whatever it is) when it is upon me. No point in spending hours obsessing and thinking about my upcoming surgery appointment. When the time is upon me, I’ll work with it. And I told T that it is just strange. She told me that my body is thanking me for the lowered stress and anxiety…and I’m sure it is. All I know is that I still feel weird at the feeling of “calm” that I really can live in.

 

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Boob mapping (ultrasound)

Follow-up to my Boob Squish post.

I had my pelvic ultrasound this morning (which got rescheduled because we had icy weather). The CRNP tried to call me this afternoon, but I was at my breast ultrasound. By the time I got home the office was closed. The tech confirmed the big fibroid (not surprising) and a thickened uterine lining (also not surprising considering my history). She did confirm that no impingement on my kidneys or anything, so that was good. The question is, what does the CRNP want to do next. No clue.

I went out to the Boob Mapping this afternoon. Once again, I had to sit around and wait for my appointment. At least it was only 20 minutes this time, in comparison to almost 45 minutes last time. The tech had me change into the gown and she took me into the ultrasound room. When she was setting me up, I asked her if she had a roadmap for where she wanted to go and she said YEP. But that was pretty much all the small talk I got. And because of the location of the machine and how I was lying on the gurney, I couldn’t see a damn thing on the screen. She concentrated on a couple of places on each side of each breast, goop going everywhere. Then she handed me a small towel, told me I could “clean up” and said, “You can lay there or sit there or whatever. Be back!” and she left the room.

If you are reading this and you are a radiology tech…take the extra minute to explain WTF is going on. I had no idea where she went or why, or how long she’d be gone. I was left sitting in this tiny, stifling, darkened room. Alone. With a blank machine and only my imagination. I finally realized on my own that they must have been having a doctor review the ultrasound. But I had no idea how long that was supposed to take. Why were they taking so long? Why was no one telling me what was happening? Was a doctor going to talk to me? If a doctor came into the room with the tech was that good or bad? Seriously, one extra minute of the tech’s time would have given me 10 minutes of less stress if I had understood what was happening. I tried to do deep breathing but the room was so small and so stuffy that I couldn’t do it.

Finally, the door opened and the tech came in with another person, who introduced himself as a doctor. Was that good or bad that he came in? Routine? Bad news? WHAT?! I felt like my heart was going to jump out of my throat and I wanted to scream. If the tech had told me this was routine, I might have heard everything that was said, you know?

Luckily, the doctor explained that one side of one breast was denser than the other breast, which was the reason for the ultrasound on that side. They found nothing concerning. The reason for the ultrasound on the other side was that the mammo picked up something and they wanted to see it better. He said between the mammo and the ultrasound, they feel strongly that it is a cyst (fluid-filled, he said — I said I seemed prone to cysts, since I have a long history of sebaceous cysts…he seemed uninterested). Benign. Nothing to worry about. Everything looks clear, he said. He asked my age, asked if this was my first mammo, and then told me they’d see me in a year. Nothing to follow-up on before then. He smiled and told me to have a good evening. I thanked him and tried not to be to profuse about it. The tech directed me back to the dressing room and told me to have a good day. I rushed to get dressed and went out to find Hub. I told him all seemed clear.

Then when we got home I had the voice mail from the CRNP at the gyno. Since it was from 3pm, I knew it wasn’t about my breast ultrasound because I hadn’t even been called back at that point. She only told me to call back, no other clue.

In the meantime, last night, I slept NOT AT ALL. I had a small panic attack, mostly because I felt like my heart was going too fast and was too loud. I couldn’t lie down. I couldn’t rest. I tried really hard to meditate with deep breathing, which I feel like I was actually able to do. But as soon as I stopped breathing and tried to lie down to go to sleep, my heart started pounding again. I started worrying that I was having an arrhythmia, because I felt like my heart wouldn’t slow down. So I had to be up at 6:30 this morning to get ready for my first test, and by 5am I was still awake. I dozed off for about an hour, then was awake. At 6:30 the doctor’s office called to reschedule my first test because of the icy roads. I dozed again from about 7-8am, then I was awake. It was a sucky night and I feel exhausted. I hope to make tonight a better night.

Tomorrow it’s my brother’s colonoscopy and my father’s acupuncture appointment.

 

 

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Rope’s end

I might be at it. I might be at it.

Between all the hormones and the pain and cramps and headaches and nausea and fatigue and then a cough/cold, and a cough with my PVCs…and my PVCs. Crash. I went to go to the bathroom a few minutes ago and just burst into tears on the toilet. Sorry if that’s TMI.

I feel at the end of my rope. These cramps are driving me nutty, but almost even worse are the PVCs. Not only are they causing me to cough (which apparently is a THING, as the PVC aggravates the diaphragm) but they are working my anxiety nerve big time. I had told T that I was struggling and she reminded me that the majority of what’s happening is specific to this situation and that unless distraction could work for me–which it isn’t–then her best suggestion was to wait it out. Just make my way through the days until my hormones are back to normal and the cramps are gone and the fatigue eases. But you know what? That doesn’t resolve the PVCs and those are getting to me.

I’m trying diaphragmatic breathing…a lot. To the point where I sometimes feel like I’m going to hyperventilate. I’m trying to stay in the moment with my senses, grounding myself. I’m trying to remind myself that they are benign and mean nothing. And still…I feel like I’m within snapping distance. Strung tight like a bow and ready to go. I keep thinking I want to try some of the yoga DVDs I have again, despite my previous poor attempts. But I feel so shitty physically that the thought of doing it makes me kind of ill. And tired. And so I don’t do it.

At night in bed I try to breathe and meditate. I breathe and stare into my dark eyelids, pushing away thoughts and focusing on nothing. I try to ignore the PVCs. I try to ignore the cough. I fight the cough sometimes. Sometimes the cough is from this cold thing I have, sometimes it’s from the PVCs. I fight them both because they make me feel weak and like I’m giving into the PVCs, even though I’ve read this is involuntary with the PVCs sometimes (because of the aggravation of the diaphragm). I try to give in to the cough and the PVCs and let them both happen. The cough hurts my chest (along with the chronic cold-cough). The PVCs have changed how they feel again, and are now almost always accompanied by those ripples of anxiety.

I want to go upstairs and crawl into bed and cry, but I know that’s only going to make the PVCs more noticeable. “Waiting this out” has made the PVCs more noticeable because without having something to do, I focus on the sensation more. I wait for it. I hate wasting my time and “waiting it out” but I’m not finding another way through this at this point.

This week is busy. Besides my parents finally returning home from a trip (and the release of my dog-sitting duties with Cray-cray Lab), I have my mammogram, and now I have a ultra-sound scheduled. And my session with T. Three consecutive days. My mom has a CT scan this week to check for any changes in her cancer. I won’t be able to go with her because it conflicts with one of my appointments. She doesn’t need me to go with her anyway, as my dad will take her and there’s really nothing to the test itself.

I feel overwhelmed and taut. I feel at a loss. I feel tired. I feel weak and stuck and frozen and … just at the end of my rope.

 

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Meditation via crochet

I started crocheting to spend time with my mom. Essentially, I wanted to find something we could do together to relax and distract her (and me). I also felt that the purpose of crocheting chemo caps would do well for Mom, because she likes to give back. She used to do preemie caps, so this isn’t far from that and it’s in the realm of what is happening in her life. We have had lots of fun conversations and time spent crocheting, talking about stitches and patterns, yarn, sizes, and the like. It’s been great and I’m thankful to have the opportunity to make all these memories.

I didn’t realize how much the crochet would do for me, personally. I knew it would give me something to do with my hands, but I didn’t realize it would become a form of meditation for me. A time when I could be with me and not be thinking of something else. I am able to take time to be in the moment, to find a quietness inside my head that I have not been able to accomplish any other way. Creating the hats has given me an opportunity to do something good for someone else, but it’s also no pressure. If it doesn’t look right, who cares? If it doesn’t fit the way I expected? So what? If I miss a stitch, who is going to pull the hat apart to find the error? Who is going to notice one tiny stitch in an entire hat?

This is a way to learn to silence my inner editor, which is something I generally live with every minute of the day. I don’t even speak without editing myself. I don’t write without my internal editor looking over my shoulder. It’s holds me back in a lot of ways, and creates anxiety that I don’t need. In order to avoid the anxiety, I have stopped doing a lot of things I enjoy because it was ruined by my inner editor. But I’ve not been able to quiet the Editor and I’ve never been able to take a vacation away from it, basically. When I crochet, though, the editor seems to shut down. I’ve learned to “fudge” areas in a hat that I can’t figure out, don’t understand, or don’t think I can do. I’ve worked new stitches without worrying if they are right or wrong, and I don’t concern myself with being judged over the finished product.

Crochet has given me a type of meditation, and a type of relief/release. It’s become a form of therapy, too, allowing me to learn to work without my inner editor. And maybe if I can do that with crochet, I can let that melt over into other parts of my life.

 

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