Sunday, September 18, 2016

Farewell to Prozac

You were never supposed to be a lifetime commitment, and I am letting you go because of...

Unnecessary and excessively unrealistic optimism

Artificial buoyancy in the face of stuff that should make me cry

General sheep-like behavior and urge to graze instead of grow

BTW:  I don’t remember any of these being in the fine print of side effects!


Tuesday, September 13, 2016

Survival Tips for Surgical Recovery

Sitz Uboo, Sitz...

(not intended to serve as providing medical advice at all)

1.              There is no simple surgery…and major surgery is major for a reason (I’ll save my fast sprints for drive-through McDonald’s runs and fast food…ooh, doesn’t a McDonald’s fountain Coca Cola sound good?  And some salty, crispy fries?  Squirrel!). 

2.              The blue plug on a catheter has a hair trigger…nasty results will follow if it pops out at the wrong moment (like when you’ve just exchanged a hospital gown for comfy and clean yoga pants).

3.              Aside from milk, very few things around the house weigh less than five pounds (hell, my sliding glass doors require more effort than that).

4.              Tough love is likely the best remedy, but you will still cringe when a well meaning loved one tells you to “suck it up soldier.” (after you laugh out loud, inflicting even more pain…yeah, really do just have to suck it up).

5.              Medical guidance that begins with “use your best judgment”…is not medical guidance.  If you paid for someone to tell you that, you should probably ask for your money back.  Hell, even Charlie Brown got more for his nickel when he asked Lucy for advice.

6.              When someone asks what your pain level is on a scale of 1 – 10, they don’t like it when you say “negative 100.”  But who cares…they’re the same ones, who told you to use your best judgment. 

7.              The correct answer (in any situation), when someone tells you to self- administer an enema, is “No thank you.”  Period!

8.              You may believe that a sense of humor will serve you well.  It will, but resist the urge to crack jokes just before the mask goes over your face…trust me when I say there is no one “laughing with you”…and you’re the only one who won’t remember the punch line.

9.              You may never again laugh at the line, “I’ve fallen and I can’t get up” … especially if you have organs rendered spare parts that literally have “fallen and can’t get back up.”

10.          You can take more than ten prescriptions at once…prescribed like a Sam's Club wholesale pick-up, and left unmonitored and compartmentalized by prescribing physician as far as future guidance on whether to finish or not finish...refill or not refill.   

Caveat: Unless it’s pain medication.  Then you’re screwed.  Break them into wedges, hide them under your mattress, and keep one under glass in case of emergency.  They will tell you that alternating ibuprofen and acetaminophen will work just as well (to ease the pain of multiple incisions and stitch points).  Just nod and smile…patient advocacy is dead and if you want to stay alive, you better be nice to them (please God, don’t let them read this blog…I was just kidding!).  Cue Monty Python, "I'm feeling better...I don't want to go in the cart!"


(At the time of this writing, I am sitting upright for the first time in 11 days...hang in does get better...just use your best judgment and keep smiling!)

Wednesday, September 7, 2016

Life on the Ropes...and the importance of a good belay

Sharing a 2015 back with new stuff soon.

One of the many benefits of living and stretching out experiences over a lifetime is that you learn to take the good with the bad.  After a few false starts and dips that feel like a permanent condition, you learn that you never completely fall down and even if you do, you get back up.  For around each of us is an invisible rope, releasing slack when we dip into a valley and suddenly springing us back up and forward as we recover and continue to grow.

I used to worry about worse case scenarios and speculate about what I could and could not deal with.  Turns out, over time, numerous worse case scenarios inevitably became a reality.  Risk aversion just wasn’t a viable choice for day-to-day living and so some of those terrible things I thought I could never handle actually came to pass and I realized that I was more resilient than I gave myself credit for.  I’ve experienced divorce, the death of a parent, close friends…and many other disappointments that although may have given me pause, did not keep me down. 

It’s funny how our risk taking behaviors are flexible and stretch wide in our youth…yet after a few scrapes and scars, we begin to pull in some of the slack as we get older. We pause to check our surroundings, how far we’ve climbed…or fell…and consider how far we have left yet to go…where we’re still willing to go and equally important, if and when we reach a peak we’re comfortable resting on. 

I remember the first time I went repelling off a cliff.  I was around 30.  I seized the moment (okay maybe with shaky hands clinging tightly to a rope as I was strapped in as I tried to quiet a slight twitch from my left leg trying to settle into a comfortable stance).  I had a lot riding on that decision standing on that rock overlooking a very beautiful and scenic Red River Gorge.  My oldest son (then around five years old) was looking on to see what I would do.  There I was…his mom, who always told him to embrace more, dream big, and live life to the fullest.  Clearly, backing out was not an option.  This was one of those great big life moments I’d remember forever.  And I was going to share the lesson even if it killed me in the process.

Two things stand out clearly in my mind from that day.  First, leaning backward off a cliff is not a natural feeling.  In fact, a healthy fear tells us to walk carefully and stay away from the edge (heck, not turn away from it and walk backwards toward thin air and a deep plunge).  Second, you have to have complete faith in that person at the bottom serving as your belay.  Because the feeling of absolute terror just before your first kick off the top rock can be an adrenaline rush or an absolute nightmare, depending on your penchant for adventure.  Personally, I’ve never been a big risk taker.  In fact, I still worry a lot.  About things that could happen, that have happened, and that may never happen.  And I’m okay with that.  It just happens to be who I am.  But if I let it keep me from jumping off cliffs and into new adventures, that would be a problem for me.  So I challenge myself every day to do things that make me nervous.  Because I’ve lived long enough to know that anticipation and dread can be confused with each other.  I find that I always feel grateful for having committed to and having followed through with something that challenged me to do more than I was comfortable with.   And yes, there is a lot of fear and angst along the way leading up to whatever “said epic event” happens to be.  We all have our own dinosaurs to conquer.

And quite recently, at a time in my life when absolutely everything has been changing, I find myself re-assessing that line…and surprisingly, feeling the urge to loosen up the rope.  Instead of cautiously looking over a cliff, I’m kicking backward off the highest rock, with the confidence of a lifetime reassuring me that I may well plunge to the bottom… and it will be way scarier than I ever imagined, and I’ll probably regret it about halfway down…but most importantly, I will still somehow get back up and live to climb another day.  And the tautness of my rope will depend on my natural born grit and intuitive gut that only comes from living a life in forward motion and without apology. And some trustworthy belays along the way!  

Still Following the Path of the Dinosaurs #followdinopath