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Category Archives: progress

Follow-up with trifecta ending

So last post I said I had to go out today and then drive home in the dark. I haven’t driven in the dark in many many MANY years. When I make appointments that I need to attend on my own, I generally schedule them during the daytime. This allows me to avoid traffic for the most part, and also it’s generally easier to get appointments during weekday work hours when most people are otherwise involved at THEIR work.

Somehow, this particular appointment didn’t work out that way, so I girded myself for driving home in the dark.

Unfortunately, I was not prepared for the high winds on the way to my appointment. I made it, but it was kind of sucky. When I left the house it was windy, 70 degrees and overcast. Two hours later, when I was ready to leave my appointment, it was 43 degrees, pitch black dark, windy, and pouring rain.

I hate driving in the rain.

So not only did I have to struggle with the dark, I had to struggle with pouring down rain AND dark. I drove out the neighborhood I was in, windshield wipers going full-throttle, with high-beams on because the neighborhood had no street lights. I thought I would be relieved to hit the 55mph highway because at least I knew it would be lit, but the highway was worse than the back roads. There was terrible glare from the rain, always-happening construction crap littering the side of the highway, and cars wanting to speed very very fast. I literally crawled onto the highway and then took the very first exit not even quarter of a mile later because I couldn’t handle it.

Once I got off the highway and onto back roads that I am very very familiar with, I did better. There was still a glare but I was in nicely lit neighborhoods with very few other cars around. It took me probably half an hour instead of twenty minutes to get home, but at least I was home safely.

Hub had offered to come get me and/or come follow me home, but he had friends over and I didn’t want to interrupt his plans.

The good news, I made it home safely. And I’m okay with not taking the highway home because I drive that road all the time so it’s not like I would normally avoid it. I just didn’t want to make things more difficult than they needed to be, especially in such an uncomfortable position.

After Thanksgiving, I’ll be hitting the interstate (65mph commuter route into the city) with my father for one of his doctor’s appointments. Fortunately, it’s scheduled for mid-morning, so it will be after rush hour, during daylight, and coming home will be before evening rush hour. I’ll be able to drive normally instead of in bumper-to-bumper traffic or with crazy people.

The appointment I had today was with our family rabbi, to talk about my dad’s situation. I was kind of disappointed that he didn’t have any really amazing ideas to help us with the current status of things. He suggested trying to get my father out of the house more often, but that’s kind of hard to do considering my father doesn’t want to go anywhere or do anything. I don’t know, I guess I’m really frustrated because without some kind of cooperation from my father, nothing is really going to change. And right now, cooperation from my father is not going to happen.

Maybe if I have some time to process today’s conversation, I might come up with something else. But right now I don’t feel like the rabbi had anything to say other than what we already knew (and what I already said in the last post).

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Finding strength

My mom came home the other day and brought me this. The stone has a tiny little air plant in it. Something I can’t kill, supposedly. We’ll see about that…

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I spent the last couple of days looking for stones that I could use on the day of surgery. I told T in our last session that I was struggling with the habit of needing to write letters to Hub and my parents before my surgery (I used to write letters to Hub when my health anxiety told me I was dying). Not only was I wanting to say things that I might not feel they hear from me enough, but I also wanted them to have something to hold onto and to be able to reread words I had written just for them. I also started telling her I wanted my husband to not run away or close off from my family, because not only would they need him if something happened to me, but HE would need THEM. And T immediately caught me and reminded me that I was trying to control a situation that was not of my control. She handed me a black, shiny rock that she always has sitting on her table in her office (for people to fiddle with) and told me to look at it in my hand. I stared at it hard, but to me it was just a rock in my hand. Then T told me that it represented control, which is generally a false feeling. Then she told me to open my hand and let the rock fall to the ground. I was letting go of control. I got the idea.

So I wanted to get some stones that said “Trust” to give to the surgeon, the anesthesiologist, and the OR nurse, so I could watch myself giving my trust to those people. To reduce my anxiety and my need to control things. But none of the stores I went to had stones with ANY writing on them. I tried to explain to my mother what I wanted, but she didn’t quite understand. She brought me the little gift above, which does its own trick for me, even though I can’t take it with me to the hospital. Right now it’s sitting on the ledge next to my recliner, right in my view. I like it a lot.

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I went walking around my yard yesterday afternoon trying to find any stone I could clean and write on. I found a couple, but not exactly what I wanted. I’ll go trolling through Hub’s stuff later to see if I can find something that will work, as he often uses stones (usually glass, though) for some of his gaming.

The hospital called yesterday to interview me over the phone before surgery. You know, asking all the questions they need to know…allergies, medical history, etc. It was a little more real after that…and in fact I ended up crying last night at a rather inopportune time. I think it sort of all hit me and I was feeling overwhelmed. Today, when Mom and I went shopping and to the library, I felt okay. I feel mostly okay now, but starting to feel nervous. I suspect it’s the kind of nervous most anyone would have at the thought of an upcoming surgery. If I weren’t nervous at all, I’d be worrying that I was disassociating from everything. So I’m okay with how I’m feeling. Well, as okay as you can feel when being nervous and waiting for surgery day.

 

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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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Today’s challengers: But v And

 

ANDNot sure if it will be a knockout or not, but here we go.

I spent almost ten days trying to track down a blog post I am POSITIVE that I wrote and published…and yet I’ve been unable to find it. Say, if any of you come across it, let me know! Anyway, I’m going to go ahead with this post and if I repeat anything, you now understand why it was so.

During my last therapy session with T, we went on a track of talking about accomplishments and the past. I told her that I knew I’d made a list of accomplishments, and that at the same time as writing the accomplishment (and/or thinking about it), I always ended with a “but…” For example…

I moved out of my parents’ house at 21 years old by purchasing a townhouse on my own, about 30 minutes away from my family. BUT, less than a year later the person I thought was my once-best friend, broke into my house, ransacked it, and purposefully stole items she knew were sentimentally important to me. Therefore leaving me feeling violated and vulnerable, and forcing me to install bars on my windows in order to continue to live on my own.

So I basically negated my accomplishment in the same breath as I made it. Why? Why do I feel the need to cancel out my accomplishments with negative follow-ups? The negative follow-ups ARE true. They did happen. But they don’t cancel out the actual accomplishment, because those, too, are true. An old Dr. Phil (don’t judge me!) ism was, “saying but cancels out everything you said before the but.”

So T told me that I need to learn to replace the “but” with an “and” because both parts of the statements are true. There was an accomplishment. AND something else happened.

I moved out of my parents’ house at 21 years old by purchasing a townhouse on my own, about 30 minutes away from my family. AND less than a year later the person I thought was my once-best friend, broke into my house, ransacked it, and purposefully stole items she knew were sentimentally important to me. Therefore leaving me feeling violated and vulnerable, and forcing me to install bars on my windows in order to continue to live on my own.

Yes, it’s TRUE! Both those things DID happen. And they were both important parts of my life. And one does not cancel out the other. What a light bulb feeling. So important to me that I wanted to use it as a writing exercise, to more firmly implant the idea of AND into my mind and life. And when I told T that, she got up from her chair and grabbed a pad and drew me the “And…” that you see above. She told me to take it home and keep it as a visual reminder, because I can be a very visual person. I scanned the image into an electronic file and cleaned up the background (it was a fancy notepad). It’s on my desktop to look at as often as I need, and the hard copy is in my bedroom.

I’ve spent much more time since that conversation with T thinking about the words I use when I speak. I had a long conversation with Hub over dinner last night talking about how we speak to ourselves (in regards to an issue HE is grappling with)…not just negative self-talk, but in regards to the word choices we make. I’m such a semantics type of person, why the difference between “but” and “and” didn’t occur to me before is crazy. Then again, it may have been in my writing repertoire and not in my speaking world. I always write better than I speak because I take much more time to formulate (and edit) what I write, versus speaking. These days, I’m trying to take more time to formulate my speaking words than I used to. More time to consider what my words actually MEAN. I hope that’s a good thing…I hope I can make it meaningful for my journey forward.

 

 

 
 

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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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Physical therapy update

News on the PT front. For the last several weeks, E has been working on trigger points that affect my back. She’s been able to progressively go deeper on the trigger points, which is a good thing. It means the tp’s are getting worked out…it also means OW OW OW OW OW. Jeezus, that woman has tough hands.

But something has been working, because the bad knee that never wants to straighten has gotten one degree away from being straight. The other knee is almost back to being hyper-extended (which they both used to be waaaaay back before I first started abruptly having problems with them). We both kind of surmise that after all the work strengthening my muscles and then loosening up all my trigger points (varied and vast), I finally made progress. So after my appointment, E pronounced that she would see me in TWO WEEKS. It has only been about a month or six weeks since I’ve started seeing her only once a week instead of two…now I’m being moved to every two weeks. I suspicion I’ll be having withdrawal symptoms this week, since I won’t see E at all.  I can’t tell you how long I’ve been seeing her…I can’t remember anymore. It’s been probably close to 18 months altogether, considering how many different body parts I had to work on.

Starting tomorrow, it will be a week since I’ve had PT. That’s not entirely new, but we’ll see what happens in the days following. I haven’t gone without PT for more than about 7 or 8 days in all that time. Already my back and knee are tired today, but maybe by tomorrow they’ll be feeling better (I had to stand around for over an hour during training with Butthead, so….)

Anyway, the good news is, if I can keep things in good form, I can stop going to PT. While I will miss E a lot because I like her very much, I won’t miss having to go to PT once or twice a week every single week for …ever. However, I am thinking I will start going to get trigger point massage from a massage therapist (who used to share space with my PT office), maybe once a month to keep up with maintenance. Trigger points definitely come back, especially in someone like me who is not only prone to them, but has myofascial pain syndrome…kind of pre-disposing me to issues like this. On the down side, massage therapy isn’t covered by my insurance…but I’ve been paying co-pays for PT, so it will actually be less expensive for me to go to massage therapy once a month than what is cost in co-pays four times a month. And waaay less than it was costing me to go eight times a month!

So, one tentative step forward, and we shall see where it leads.

 

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Changing dreams

Last night, I had strange dreams/nightmares again.

Remember my old dreams where I talked about driving around either searching for an exit or when I’m on a highway and I can’t find the right direction to go? I haven’t had those in a while, but that does happen. Sometimes I’ll go months without them, and then they’ll pop up and happen every night. I’ve had similar type dreams where I was coming out of a subway train and couldn’t find the right direction to get out of the station, or where I’d be out of the station but not able to find my way home from the station…etc. But last night, the dream was different.

I was out of the station already in the dream, and I did a bit of searching to find a taxi cab. Guys, I haven’t taken a taxi cab since I was in high school and had to take a cab home from school when I was “sick”. Anyway, I hailed a taxi and got in, and immediately gave them the address of my current home, including very specifically my zip code. I then had thoughts about how much this was going to cost–how expensive–and some thoughts on what other options I had to get home. But there was no real feeling of distress or being lost. I felt very on-track and like I was in control of where I was going…but I knew quite clearly I wasn’t driving. I gave the taxi driver the address and that was the end of it. No worries or discussion over how to get there, and no fear that we were heading in the wrong direction or taking the wrong exit.

On a weird note, I then found myself in a dream with Hub (no longer in the taxi, but still trying to get somewhere) who was carrying a large, bright orange or red and black backpack. Inside the backpack was something we were trying to bury (we kept looking for someplace to bury what was in the backpack, but no place seemed secure enough or hidden enough). I have no idea what was in the backpack, but we were hiding it from people and trying to find a place to bury it. Then Hub disappeared and I was left with the backpack and people kept trying to look at it and/or pick it up and carry for me, but I wouldn’t let them because I knew we needed to keep it hidden.

Guys, I believe our dreams have meanings, but that we don’t always understand them. Sometimes I think it isn’t important to understand, just that the dreams are trying to get things out of your head and away from you. Sometimes I think they are just reflections of what is going on in your life.

I think part of this dream…the part where I was able to get out of the subway and into a vehicle and head for home? I feel like it’s because I’m doing better with my anxiety and my control stuff. I’m not searching so much for the person I want to be…I’m not so lost. When I woke in the middle of the night from that part of my dream, I actually felt like “Oh yeah, it’s because I’m on the right track. I’m doing the right things to be a better, more grounded me.” Then I got up to pee and went back to bed. 🙂

The second dream? I have no idea where that was going. It was a new one for me and it made me feel more uncomfortable. I rarely have dreams with Hub in them for some reason. So what’s going on there? I just don’t know yet.

 
 

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