April 22, 2013 Earth Day
OK, this is a day late…”a day late and a dollar short,” another thing my mother said to me more than once!
My mother started celebrating Earth Day the first time it ever happened by planting flowers and becoming a recycling fanatic. That was in 1970 and I was a freshman in high school having come of age in the 1960’s, a tumultuous time for my family, friends and the world. Her commitment to recycling finally had a home and purpose other than being perpetually frugal, a remnant of the Great Depression. She insisted on recycling everything and being very upset, almost indignant, when she found things that could not be recycled anywhere. She was equally disappointed when she saw others not recycling or throwing away things that were “perfectly usable.”
When she could no longer drive herself around, her ‘helpers’ and anyone else who stopped by to visit was called upon to “just take this to the recycling center for me when you go.” She instilled in my children and me a sense of responsibility for the earth, for our communities, for others. All of which has served to make us feel guilty when we find ourselves not recycling that one thing that we know we should.
It is poignant; warming and chilling at the same time to have these feelings wash over me whenever I am looking at something deciding if it can be recycled or not! As we approach Mother’s Day in May and her birthday in June the memories of her life, my life with her, and the impressions that she gave to me roll around my mind, heart and soul reminding me to enjoy the present, let the past go to a warm corner of my heart and look forward to the future. I am calling this recycling memories!
Happy recycling! And love your Mother-Earth!Read More
Today I am writing a little personal story because I feel I have been through “the wringer” as they say and want to explain my distance from writing, socializing and generally being ‘no fun’ for the past eight months.
Mary and I wrote our stories about caregiving in our book with all its glory, joy, pain and suffering because we learned a lot about ourselves, our families and navigating old age while dealing with the, ahem, messed up health care system.
Last July we finished the second draft (or was it the twentieth?) and the book was back from the editor and off to press. We were excited and relieved.
Sometimes things get thrown at you for a reason; usually it is a reason you weren’t expecting nor particularly like. A week after the book was done, it happened, I ruptured a disc in my neck at work, it took a while to get a proper diagnosis and even longer to get good care. Another lesson in our, ahem, messed up medical system.
A Goddess smack, a gift, a luxury…all of these I have heard from caring people. Even had people praying for me with laying on of hands. I whine and complain, I spent a lot of time this winter on my hands and knees crying. I have learned what chronic pain is first hand and it really does make you crazy! I breathe, I meditate on positive affirmations, I contemplate words from one of my mentors, Jeanine Parvati, “How does it serve?”
Friends, acquaintances, family, doctors, therapists-everyone- has something to tell me about what I should and shouldn’t be doing to heal myself or get healed. I get annoyed at their thoughtful advice and even more annoyed when they say “I know how you feel.” I finally said to someone, “no you don’t!” Unless you have had a ruptured disc with the resultant nerve and muscle pain from the constricted nerve root you cannot imagine it. I never did, even though my dad and son have both had disc problems from injuries, it is worse than I imagined. This is my neck! It is hard to hold my head up!
This injury has made it impossible for me to do the work I love and have been doing for over thirty-five years. Being a midwife is more than a job, it is my identity, it is who I am. As if the physical discomforts aren’t enough, having my self-identity taken away so unceremoniously has been emotionally distressing as well. (in this I am not alone and more fortunate than others; a nod and curtsey to veterans and those with degenerative diseases.) Starting any new writing projects has become difficult; it was hard enough before this happened, but now I am distracted by pain and all the ‘what to do’ about my life, work, and making health care decisions that my ability to concentrate and think clearly is also compromised.
For the last three months I have been able to do a little more, meaning I can vacuum for longer than two minutes, gentle yoga and dance, and short walks without ending up on the floor for two days. Some days the pain is mild until 1 or 2 in the afternoon, then I have to lie on my back on the floor, but lately it is all day, all night pain and I am seriously considering surgery, something I have never wanted. It certainly is outside my lifelong belief of diet, exercise, natural remedies and curing myself.
One dear friend and colleague said, “Well, maybe this is what holistic medicine really means.” I am trying to see it as a whole part of my life and healing process on every level.
All this is my way of saying thank you to the universe for giving me what I need even though I still do not see why I need this now! And I offer my gratitude and apologies for those who care for me and put up with me when I am at my worst.
Off to see a new neurosurgeon tomorrow and I’m bound to hear once again “you need surgery.” This time I may just schedule it.Read More
Funny how often the things that you are thinking about or focusing on in your work just get put in front of you in various ways. Or how when you mention these things to your co-author she says I was just thinking about that too!
The past few months I have been preparing for a presentation I am doing this weekend on several topics with the main one being sleep deprivation. So what comes across my email this morning? That’s right, an invitation to a teleconference on sleep!
I saw a patient yesterday with a lot of health complaints, what I finally figured out is that she is getting only 6 hours of sleep a night, from 7 pm to 1 am, gets up and works from 3 am to 1 or 3 pm! 5 days a week! Yikes, no wonder her hormones and health is out of whack!
I’ve always told my patients to rest, after having a baby or surgery or when sick, they seem to have a hard time with this suggestion; it is another thing we Americans don’t know how, or won’t, do. Rest and sleep are important for the body to repair and rejuvenate itself. The brain particularly needs sleep to maintain cognitive functions. Even one night of lost sleep can affect cognitive skills for longer than a week.
Seems this is the latest thing to talk about. Maybe because at least 40 million people in the United States suffer from chronic, long term sleep disorders and 20 million more experience occasional sleep problems. Those stats are from a 2007 study by the National Institute of Neurological Disorders and Stroke. I imagine there are even more now considering the economy, politics, global changes and let’s not forget school shootings in the last 5 years.
Poor sleep causes all kinds of health problems and another time I will list them all. For now, I will say it took me a while to figure out that I have had chronic sleep deprivation for the last 35 years! While I love my work as a midwife it has certainly taken its toll on my sleeping abilities. That’s another thing I did not know…the more interrupted your sleep is on a regular basis the more your ability to sleep well goes downhill!
I am learning how to sleep all night, to get at least the recommended 7-8 hours, in one stretch…not reading from 3-4 am and going back to sleep. When I gave up my beeper 3 years ago, something that I wore almost continuously for 10 years, it took a year to get over checking my hip for it and jumping at the various beeps and rings of other’s cell phones and pagers.
I think it will take a long time to learn how to sleep all night again. I’ve been trying to for the last 6 months and I am getting closer but it is still a challenge. I wish you a good night's sleep…wish me a good night, too!Read More
On the way to my chiropractor’s office yesterday I drove over a hill and saw something cross the road in front of me. My thoughts progressed rapidly from fox to cat to otter to what was that?! I slowed down and saw the back end of a robustly endowed animal, brown and furry loping off in the snowy woods. Again my thoughts jumped to tailless fox? No, too wide. Over grown cat? No, way too big. Fisher cat? No, still too wide and muscular looking. Then it stopped trotting in the snow, turned and looked right at me. Wow, that is a cougar! No silly, it is a bobcat! Gazing at me was a magnificent face with big eyes and tufts of fur that flared out in every direction around his head. Hello beauty, I said to him, or her, thank you for crossing my path and being wild and free and surviving in NH. May you be blessed with a partner and many babies this spring. It turned and trotted away on strong legs, with his thick coat of multicolored brown fur gently shifting with every move and his bobtail bobbing.
Traditional Native American animal medicine says that the bobcat sign is a knower of secrets and a sign of patience, among other things as well. Please, Bobcat, tell me the secret of survival, of a long life, of a life of gratitude and joy. I will ponder this bobcat message for a while and if I find any answers I will let you know!
This picture was actually taken in Hancock, NH, not far from where I was driving. The one I saw had more hair on his ears and top of his head.
I found these easy hand exercises for knitters (which I am.)
They would also help with any hand craft, even typing on the computer!
I've started doing them while I walk and my hands feel looser and lighter. Give them a try and let us know what you think.
Wrist and Forearm Extensor/Flexor Table Stretches
Extensor Stretch: Sitting back from your desk, straighten your arms and hold your hands flat. Place the back of your hands along the edge of the table. Bending only at the wrist, with fingers pointing at the floor, press gently into the table edge.
Flexor Stretch: Sitting back from your desk or table, straighten your arms and hold your hands flat. Place your fingers along the edge of the table, bending only at the wrist, with fingers pointing at the ceiling. Press gently into the table edge.
Hands Tendon Glide
Start with your wrists in a neutral position.
STEP 1: Extend your fingers apart and toward the back of your hand.
STEP 2: Relax the extension and curl the top segment of your fingers to the base of your fingers.
STEP 3: Repeat Step 1.
STEP 4: Relax the extension and fold your fingers to the base of your palm.
STEP 5: Repeat Step 1.
STEP 6: Make tight fists.
STEP 7: Repeat Step 1.