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 

Summer Reading

I have made a spur of the moment, joyous, and lovely decision!

Beginning tomorrow, I am taking at least next week to do nothing other than reading some books that are piling higher and higher by the day. In fact, I may get brave and take the next week to do the same.

Here’s what’s waiting for me:

If our weather stays as nice as it is, you may find me on the back porch swing with a glass of iced tea and a couple of kitties.

See you in a page-turning while!

Blue

As a little girl, I loved the color blue. Perhaps that was because my red-headed mother loved it too. Today it’s no longer a favorite of mine.

As I awoke this morning, I had the sensation that blue had seeped in overnight. I laid in bed ignoring the time. Getting out of bed wasn’t at the top of my list of things to do. It felt as if a heavy weight had been placed on my shoulders overnight.

Despite my best efforts, some days during this recovery are downers. A few posts earlier I wrote on the topic of patience. In the last paragraph, I boldly stated how I wanted to handle my attitude going forward.

Today I’m asking myself where did that woman go. 

 

Image attribution: Kristine Lejniece from Pixabay 

Seeking Balance, Harmony and Inspiration in Life

Ever Tire of Feeling Too Busy?

As a full-time legal secretary, wife, and mom, I felt busy. I longed for the days of retirement. People said when they retired there was never enough time for all they wanted to do. How could it be?
 
Now I know. With retirement in our lives for a combined 17 years, it seems each day reaches the brim of overflowing. Yet there are always things still left undone.
 
Add in my chronic pain and minor injuries (both of us) and it seems even more overwhelming. Facing surgery and recovery, I realize the time has come to make changes in my handling of this gift called life. Read with me for a few more paragraphs to see what my plans entail.
 
 
 

Achieving a Balanced Life

Balance is something we all count on in our physical world. Walking, running, biking, hiking, and any number of physical activities need good balance. Some of us have excellent balance, and some of us are likewise blessed, or not, with poor balance. I fall in the latter category (no pun intended).
 
Poor physical balance doesn’t mean I can’t have a balanced life. Life itself is:
  • Incrementally divided by time and how you spend it;
  • Affected by our activities, whether physical, creative or otherwise;
  • Based on our relationships and others’ impact on our lives;
  • Enriched by solitude.

1. Time and How We Spend It

Due to chronic pain and an unhealthy spine, I’m spending far more time on the computer than I should. Both sitting and standing are painful so those options aren’t as available to my writing as I’d like. Besides my writing, there is a newsletter and blog post reading. Then comes social media and email correspondence keeping me current with writing friends. Social media also helps keep up with family. More and more, everything requires a computer.
 
Bottom line, too much of my time seems front and center with my laptop. And I’m beginning not to enjoy it so much. You might say it’s because of my current spine pain and impending surgery but that’s not what I’m feeling. It’s what I’m going to call “computer burnout.”
 

2. Activities, Creative or Otherwise

If I’m going to be able to sit more comfortably after surgery, I want to quilt! If I could have a day or two a week in which I cut quilt pieces and sew them together, I’d be a happy camper quilter. And improved sitting means I could play the piano more often. Improved standing means I could work on my flute music. Both of these I miss because of (drumroll, here) “computer burnout.”
 
Also, I volunteer as a mentor in the Mothers of Preschooler program at our church. It requires only two Friday mornings a month, but there are other outside activities. Then new births among our group which include cooking for the family until mom is back on her feet again. Case in point: One of my mentees this past year gave birth to triplets. Although they were born in May (quite early in fact), they are just beginning to transition home. We’ll be cooking for them soon.
 
A great love of mine is being a “groupie” for the bands my husband makes music in, among them a Dixieland jazz group. I enjoy getting to know the other members and their spouses. And it’s great fun helping now and then hosting refreshments at a concert.
 
Bob and I enjoy supporting our church home and family in many ways. Each which requires a time commitment. This is something I’m not willing to give up yet.
 

3. Relationships and How They Affect Your Life

If I overload my day, I easily grow frustrated and a bit testy (don’t ask Bob what he calls this, OK?). This isn’t fair to Bob, especially if he’s in the middle of a new design project or new music or whatever he’s engaged in. My frustrations taken out on him make him feel less important than he truly is in my life. And it works both ways.
 
Time for keeping our relationship rich and loving should always be at the top of our list.
 
Friendships need a similar consideration. We never should take out on a friend our daily frustrations. Keep this in mind and you’ll feel better and so will your friends.
 
Don’t forget family, including children, parents, siblings, and even your pets. They don’t deserve to receive the brunt of your disgruntlement. And most importantly, they need to hear you say, “I love you.”
 

4. Solitude

Bob and I both tend to be introverts. Solitude is important to each of us. And one’s desire for some alone time doesn’t bother the other. I probably have the advantage here. Bob has music rehearsals two nights per week plus an occasional Sunday afternoon. Concerts and performances come at odd and random times. As I mentioned above, I love to go along and support him.
 
We are both avid readers. Often we find solitude sitting in the family room reading. Soft classical music may be playing in the background. It’s amazing how you can find solitude in the same room with another person. We spend many pleasant hours that way in our home.
 
Solitude is an important part of self-care and we need to bring this to the forefront of our own well-being. Time to reflect on your life, values, memories or to spend time in meditation is healing in many ways. Don’t ever forget to take care of yourself.
 

Conclusion

I’ve taken a long time explaining myself (sorry!). What I need you to know is that my posting schedule with the blog will soon change. In fact, I missed posting last week.
 
Starting today, I will be on Facebook, Twitter, LinkedIn and other social media sites much less than usual. I will continue to participate in a few groups a bit more actively because of their relationship to my writing.
 
Beginning with this post, I’ll be posting every other week, when possible. Surgery, recovery, and rehab will dictate sometimes. Those who requested my posts via my newsletter will arrive as they always have. When I post, you’ll receive it under cover of my MailerLite account.
 
My newsletter schedule will change as well. The newsletter will no longer come out on the third Wednesday of the month. Instead, I plan to make my newsletter quarterly rather than monthly. This change will take place beginning in October. The first quarterly edition will arrive in your inbox on Thursday, October 4, 2018.
 
 
I hope you will each take the time to review your own lives and commitments. Take time to look for balance, harmony, and joy in your life. If it isn’t there, figure out why and then make whatever changes are necessary.
 

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Featured image:

Via Pixabay attributed to Suju

What I’m Learning About Self-Care | Writer’s Perspective (Part 2)

In my post a few days ago, I focused on the topic of self-care. I shared the things I believe I did wrong in caring for myself during my working life and the last few years as a writer. Today I want to share what I’ve learned along the way (and ignored). And I’ll share some new things I have read recently about caring for yourself as you write.

TIPS FOR INCLUDING SELF-CARE IN YOUR DAY

This is not intended to be an all-inclusive list. These are tips that work for me IF I remember to use them. If there is something you feel should be in this list, I hope you’ll share it in a comment below.

  1. Remember, self-care is not selfish. To meet the needs of family, friends, and others in our community, we must first care for ourselves.
  2. A daily schedule which includes a start and stop time for work helps many working folks. When creating a schedule, build in time for exercise and at least 30 minutes for a lunch break.
  3. Find a way to spend part of your day standing for certain tasks.
  4. Taking breaks from sitting to stretch and/or walk around a bit is a good idea. A good thing for both body and mind.
    • A recent article in the New York Times Morning Briefing offers a way to do this. The writer advises getting up every hour to walk five minutes. Using a timer, either an app on your computer or somewhere you have to get up and move to turn it off, is helpful. Be diligent as this is one of the things I ignored years ago while working as a legal secretary. It would not have changed the condition as diagnosed. But it would have provided flexibility in my joints and skeleton as a whole.
    • In leaving a comment on last week’s postJoan Hall shared a link for Tomato Timer. I checked out Tomato Timer and found it is somewhat like the Pomodoro Technique®. The technique is based on working on a task for 25 minutes and then take a break, say for 10-15 minutes or so. After four sessions, take a longer break (20 minutes),  etc.
    • NOTE: Neither of these tips may be workable for writers. A screenwriter commented on the NY Times article that he cannot leave his work in this way. Once he’s creating a scene and interacting with characters, he can’t maintain momentum if he takes a 15-minute break. Others mentioned the same on last week’s post here.
  5. When lifting heavy items, remember to do it correctly. See Mayo Clinic’s slide show on Proper Lifting Techniques.
  6. Last June Zapier posted Productivity and Ergonomics: The Best Way to Organize Your Desk. This is one of the most up-to-date articles I’ve found. It includes an infographic, diagrams with measurements, and more. The post includes every element of work space–desk, computer, chair, lighting, plants, and color.

A CHALLENGE FOR YOU

Take a few minutes to assess your own working environment, no matter how large or small. It may surprise you to learn what you do or don’t find. Then try one or more of the tips above and note any change in physical problems you’re experiencing.

If you have tips for work spaces and building better backs, I’d love to see them shared below in Comments.

If you’re willing, check back with me to let me know what this post changed for you and what the impact of the change was.

FYI, I have not yet begun employing all the tips I’ve shared above as I’m still in recovery mode. I’ll try to let you know when I do begin practicing what I preach!