The Center

Like storm clouds gathering, I felt the darkness creeping in the last couple of weeks. I fought hard to stave it off. Yet, it’s a battle I wage from time to time. 

Just as I sensed clarity and brightness in my well-being, the world fell victim to COVID-19. Each day’s news included escalating numbers of cases and staggering deaths. No treatment, no vaccine, no real plan for a pandemic. I began to read and listen.
 
It is a topic hard to push aside. My best try was to take time off from social media and online news. And yet what I’m trying to ignore seeps in. 
 
On May 25, 2020, it was as if a second catalyst took our country by storm. George Floyd, an African-American man, was murdered in Minneapolis by a police officer.

Continue reading “The Center”

Feeling Out of Touch?

Are you feeling out of touch these days? Here in Oregon, our pandemic guidelines label sheltering as “stay at home” since March 23, 2020, “until further notice.” But there are states where residents are no longer sheltering in place, or in what some call lockdown. 
 
But there are some in our communities who live alone 365 days each year. Others live in retirement or assisted living communities and yet live alone. Still, others are, because of disease or illness, isolated from the rest of us.
 
So, let’s think about feeling out of touch. Even though my husband and I live in the same house, there are times we each feel out of touch because of the pandemic. We can hug each other. Or touch the other’s hand. Toss a smile across the room.
 
But we can’t gather with our church family on Sundays or at other times during the week. Yes, we can see them during Zoom meetings and on Facebook Live. But it’s not the same as being able to see them “real time,” or share a hug, or shake hands in greeting. Bob is also missing out on his musical groups and friends. None of his groups — two community bands and our church choir — are meeting.
 
For me, it’s not so difficult as I’ve had a feeling of being out of touch for a while. During my struggle to overcome chronic pain and then surgery, I often felt out of touch. That cut a great hole in my people time.
 
I had friends with whom I met for coffee or tea, and now our only contact is through phone calls or text messages. Oh, how I miss them and our in-person visits. 
 
Our governor held a press conference this morning laying out Phase I of reopening Oregon. Believe me, if what I heard is correct, it’s going to be quite a bit longer than any of us believed or hoped in the beginning. But it isn’t the end of the world as I see it.
 
What I see is in the bigger picture. It’s not about ourselves, but about those with whom we make contact. There is that one person without symptoms who is a carrier of the coronavirus. He/she can infect more than one person in a day. That could mean an uptick in the number of people who contract the virus. 
 
The lesson in the bigger picture is this. As Americans, most of us have achieved much. We are able to live a good life in a safe home located near good schools with a beautiful family. Others of us planned well and live in retirement comfortably. We have no problem buying what we want when we want it. And therein lies the problem. We’ve grown too secure, perhaps even complacent.
 
COVID-19 has settled among us to teach us that we must face a personal slow down. And the slow down isn’t related to contracting the virus. The slow down is and has been imposed on us by our federal, state, and local governments. Is it a punishment? No, it’s a safety measure to save lives. Maybe we can’t eat out, go to movies, plan vacations right now.
 
We need to be patient and life will return to a semblance of the normalcy we once knew. Patience is a hard lesson, and most of us don’t like to practice it.
 
Yet, if we want personal contact with others, patience is the prescription we need right now. As Mary Poppins sings:
 
A spoonful of sugar helps the medicine go down
The medicine go down-wown
The medicine go down
Just a spoonful of sugar helps the medicine go down
In a most delightful way
Source: LyricFind
Songwriters: Richard Sherman / Robert Sherman
A Spoonful of Sugar lyrics © Walt Disney Music Company
 
Think of that “spoonful of sugar” as your dose of patience daily. If you can take a few minutes, call someone you know who lives alone and brighten his/her day. Write a note or send a card to someone who is always shut-in due to illness. Think about the goodness you have to share with others. Think of others and not so much about yourself. 
 
Above all, hold out hope for the day you hear you can find your semblance of normalcy by getting in touch with others.
 
Quote, Leo Buscaglia, power of touch, smile
 

Featured image attribution: Pezibear from Pixabay 

Prescription for Cabin Fever

Experiencing a bit of cabin fever? Government restrictions related to the coronavirus bugging you? Looking for a quick cure for cabin fever? Keep reading! 

Today we bring an expert to the blog to share tips for coping with cabin fever. Our expert has four years or more under her belt of being confined. Chronic pain has been her nemesis, but her tips will apply as well to cabin fever patients.

Here’s a list of helpful tips and hints for coping with the frustrating symptoms associated with cabin fever:

  1. Grab a good book and start reading. Need help finding a book? Check out book descriptions and reviews on Goodreads.
  2. Do a jigsaw puzzle. It may seem a bit old-school, but they can be lots of good fun unless you have cats who want to help!
  3. Schedule a movie and popcorn night. Especially popular if you have children around.
  4. Call a friend or two you haven’t touched base with in a while.
  5. Get out some board games or a deck of cards.
  6. Sort through old photos.
  7. Try a new hobby, like knitting, crocheting, stained glass, writing poetry, or Sudoku.
  8. Pour through cookbooks looking for a new recipe to try out.
  9. Start pre-spring cleaning. That way you won’t have so much to do when the good weather arrives.
  10. That home improvement project you’ve been postponing is something you could work on.
  11. How about adult coloring? Check out these sites for good resources to get you started: Johanna Basford, Colorit, Art Is Fun!, and The Spruce Crafts.
  12. If you’re a TV watcher, catch the newest season of your favorite show on Netflix.
  13. Begin researching family history and start a family tree.
  14. Plan a weekend getaway for after the restrictions are lifted.
  15. Enjoy reading aloud rather than alone and silently? Maybe this is a good family activity if you have young readers.
  16. Get some form of exercise. If you can get outside and continue social distancing, take a short walk, say 15 minutes. Or perhaps you have some slightly never used exercise equipment you could put to good use. 
  17. Continue to engage your faith or spiritual life through reading and/or prayer, or both.
  18. Think about that spring garden. Perhaps it’s time to draw up a plan for what you want to plant and how.
  19. Give in to that power nap. It’s amazing how much that few minutes improves your attitude.
  20. Try meditation.
  21. Plan and treat your family to a picnic. Cook up hamburgers and hot dogs and all the fixings. Then spread a cheerful tablecloth or blanket on the floor and get out the paper goods and plastic forks and knives. Add some chips and condiments and have fun!
  22. If you’re a writer, try writing in a different genre than usual.

And lastly, remember to practice kindness even if you are self-quarantined with your family–may be just you and your partner or spouse, and maybe a few kids, or some other configuration of family. Spread kindness even in these different and difficult times.

kindness, quotation, cabin fever

Image attributions:
Featured image: David Mark from Pixabay 
Quotation: Random Acts of Kindness 

Aegris, Cave!

Introduction

Aegris, cave!
 
I’m hoping a few of you are familiar with the Latin language. Most of us are familiar with the phrases, “carpe diem” or “caveat emptor.” The first of these phrases, “carpe diem,” means “seize the day.” The second phrase translates to “buyer beware.”
 
My Latin title translates to the words, “Patients, beware!”
 

My Story

Today’s post is somewhat dissimilar to what I usually write. Considering many of you are friends or family, I want to share with you an experience from my surgery. It is a side effect of the anesthesia used in my surgery back in March of this year.
 
Before my surgery, Oregon Health and Sciences University Hospital contacted me about a research study. The focus of the study was the mental impact of anesthesia on patients 65 and over. This was especially focusing on anesthesia over a period of several hours. I accepted their invitation to take part. It required two to three sessions for memory testing before and after surgery.
 
My surgery was slotted for approximately four hours. Due to minor complications related to hardware, the surgery took over eight hours. 
 
After I had been home for a short while, I began to notice a difference in my ability to recall words, names, and dates. I also felt caught up in a foggy mentality, i.e. staring into space, inability to focus, etc.
 
I hesitated to mention it to anyone. Perhaps the preoperative testing left me believing this was happening when it wasn’t.
 
As time passed though, I asked my husband if he noticed differences in me since the surgery. He smiled, and I realized what he was about to say might be hard to swallow. But love shone through his eyes. Behaviors he had picked up on left him feeling like “he’d brought a different woman home from the hospital.”
 
At my sixth-month postop checkup, we mentioned these mental signals to my surgeon. He suggested that he would have expected this to have passed by this point. But he also mentioned it was possible there was a relationship with depression. Yet, the depression was being treated with medication all along before the surgery. I don’t remember any such symptoms presenting during that time.
 
Today I asked my husband how he believed I had progressed since that appointment. I asked after forgetting an appointment despite reviewing our calendar several times. Upon realizing my mistake, I went to our bedroom and fell across the bed in tears because that is so unlike me. It leaves me with a feeling of losing my mind. And yet there isn’t anything I can do about it.
 

Caution, Friends

Headed into a surgical procedure? Be sure to determine how long your surgery might last. Understand this time can change dependent on special circumstances arising during surgery.
 
Also, ask what side effects you should be aware of before undergoing the surgery. If you’re over 65, ask about the mental side effects.
 
Make sure you make family and/or friends aware of what you learn after asking these questions. It is wise to have others aware so they can let you know what they notice in your behavior.
 
I hope you find this information helpful. This is not only for yourself but also in the event you care for aging parents or other family members. I am confident I’ll return to the “real me” in due course. Thanks for reading and if you find suitable, please share with family and friends.

Featured image attribution: Spencer Wing from Pixabay