Monday, June 27, 2005

Meditating on the Light

I have been meditating on change a lot lately. Now, lest you think that means I have been sitting on the floor cross-legged, counting my breaths and muttering ohmmmmm, I must admit for the most part my "meditating" is noodling around inside my head and body and letting stray thoughts, ideas, and images rise from somewhere deep inside me.  

This process happens not only when I am sitting quietly in my favorite chair, but also when I am unloading dishwasher, driving my car, dropping off to sleep, just waking up, any odd quiet time. It has been helpful to have Rene gone, because it gives me much more quiet time alone.  

But I digress.  

What I have been thinking on is not the usual light/darkness theme to which I am heir as a chronic depressive, but the dichotomy of light/heavy, Heavy is obviously what I have been my whole life. A large woman, A big person. A fat lady. And for the last 25 or 30 years I have held my head high and worked with what I had to change and grow despite the weight. 

 (An aside; I just had to stop and laugh for a moment. Behind my back, the women at the prison called me "the Gentle Giant", which I took as a great compliment, considering that they called another counselor, much thinner than I, "that fat bitch". I think I will miss those women for the rest of my life). 

 Now I am going to concentrate on the light in a whole new way. I will grow lighter, I will honor the Light in me, I will celebrate light in ways I do not yet understand. I will know as I struggle through the pain and nausea and fear after surgery that I am following the light in my soul and work it out in my body.  

Don't get me wrong. I will probably never be thin, I am aiming for more life, not outside beauty, but I will take on shining in new and different ways. 

 Blessings, Margo    

Tuesday, June 21, 2005

Alone at Last... Except for the Dogs, Of Course

Rene is winging her way to Amsterdam as I write, and I am still here in my little red house with the two dogs. I am jealous, although I am very glad for her. I simply could not have made the trip. She is going on a 16 day Sixtieth Anniversary World War II Tour, to the Netherlands, Luxembourg, Germany and France.  

I am jealous, but also jumping for joy! Now, don't get me wrong, I love her dearly, but if she never goes away, how can I miss her? And she never goes away! In eleven years, she has gone away without me twice-once on a nun retreat (12 members of her class in the convent got together several years ago for a weekend) and once to a funeral. I have gone away a lot, comparatively, on trainings and to visit my parents and friends.  

I am almost dizzy with pleasure at having two weeks to myself! I have plans of doing such exciting things as cleaning the refrigerator, hiring someone to dig out the bathroom, play long and hard on the computer, get used to my new CPAP, and take care of the dogs. It doesn't matter! I will live completely on my own timeframe! I will dine when I want and stay up late and probably be missing her dreadfully by next week.  

I probably should explain that she went out of work not long after we met, had four big knee surgeries that were essentially unsuccessful, and was home all the time. I was happy to go to work and come home to her. Then in August of '03, I fell at work and have been out ever since. And in these two years, the house has shrunk quite alarmingly, with two large women and two little dogs filling up every nook and cranny. This week I can stretch out, metaphorically, if not literally, and have the whole place to myself!  

Plus we get to be away from each other as I prepare for surgery. This is a good thing because we have been cranky with each other over the stress, and I like having quiet time to think and meditate and organize myself. She returns four days before surgery, and we will be glad to be together again.   Still, I would love to be flying with her tonight...

Blessings, Margo

Saturday, June 18, 2005

Pre-Admission Testing

Rene and I went to New Haven to see my surgeon and to have pre-admissions testing on Friday. Everyone was very thorough, So much so that I thought I'd never get out of there! 

 Don't get me wrong, I am not complaining. I have had surgery where I met the anesthesiologist for two seconds before the surgery("Are you allergic to any medications?" "Sulfa." "Okay, take a deep breath...") and the incredibly pompus surgeon afterwards! Not ideal circumstances. And I'd have felt better if the anonymous anesthesiologist had asked if I'd ever had problems with anesthesia in the past, thank you very much.  

But I digress. I have way too many surgery stories!   I met with Dr, Bell's nurse for an hour, going over what I'll be able to have post-op, then with Dr, B, himself for another hour. It seems as if many patients "fall in love" with their surgeons, and I can see why so many rave about Dr. B. He was very attentive, answered all our questions, spent a long time going over my meds, never showed any signs of hurrying me along, and when I thanked him for this, he said that it's the only way to get all one's questions truly answered. And he really wanted me to be at ease with my decision. I am at ease. Except, of course, when I'm not!  

Then we went to Yale-New Have Hospital, where everyone was friendly, patient and very supportive. Freaky strange. Not my usual hospital experience, to be sure. (But the real test will come later, on the floor, with how over-worked, and therefore cranky, the nurses are. This is my litmus test of hospitals.) Anyway, I spent a lot of time with a Nurse Practitioner who took the longest and best health history of my life, apologizing, but explaining how important these details are to the anesthesiologists. 

 It was all designed to be very reassuring, and I am indeed reassured. Oh, and I'd lost 19 pounds since I had my informational session at the end of April! If you can lose that kind of weight, why don't you just go ahead and diet the weight away, why have surgery? People do ask. I have always been able to lose 40 or 50 pounds. I just always gain it back, and 20 extra, too. After a lifetime of that I am up to severely morbidly obese, so it doesn't seem like an option anymore.  

Of course, now that I've weighed in the trick is not to pig out and gain it all back in the next three weeks-something I could easily do! We did go out with a friend this week to use a gift certificate at a favorite posh restaurant this week, so I could enjoy a full meal there, one last time. It was great to eat whatever I wanted! It would be easy to fall into a pattern of doing that-but I am going to keep this sort of thing to a minimum. Luckily, Rene will be away for a couple of weeks, so I may be less tempted! 

Hmmmm. I can see that I will be semi-obsessed with this process for the next while; I hope you all will hang in with me, even when I get to be boring about it! 

 Blessings, Margo

Thursday, June 16, 2005

Preparation for Change

Tomorrow I go to New Haven to meet with Dr. B., my surgeon for the gastric bypass, and have pre-surgery testing. You all know how much I love going to doctor's appointments. I am feeling rather split these days. On one hand, the surgery is no big deal; I have been through worse, and more painful surgeries in the last decade or so.

 The dangerous parts-anesthesia, heart failure, infection-are things over which I have no control . I've done my homework, picked a meticulous surgeon, chosen a good hospital, and made the decision. The rest is in the hands of the Mother.  

On the other hand, OMG! I am choosing to have my stomach made into a pouch the size of my Chihuahua's brain. I have to learn to eat all over again, and in a radically different way. I'll have to cope with everyone asking me how I am, making a fuss, commenting on my body size-smaller is good, but it is also noticeable and fair game for discussion. I will also have to deal with what ever demons rise when I can no longer use food as an escape All stuff I'd rather not have to do.  

But I will.  

I know that I am not someone who leaps gladly and hopefully into change. For a lot of reasons, change is scary for me, and I always want to put it off. On the other hand, I have learned that I actually do change quite well after I have spent inner time on the idea of making whatever change life necessitates. I can see this well with 20/20 hindsight, but still am struggling to believe changing well will happen again this time.  

But it will.  

I can see this is by way of a pep talk to myself, in preparation for tomorrow's adventures, Poor Rene is taking me down, preparing for a long day, and working to convince me she is happy to do so. She is a good woman, because she hates hospitals a lot more than I do! I'll let everyone know how it goes.  

Blessings, Margo    

Saturday, June 11, 2005

Yale Loses, but We Win

Tradition will out-Harvard won the varsity race in the Harvard-Yale Regatta this morning, as it has so many times in the last 140 years. It was, as usual, subdued across the street today, though they'll get rowdy enough later tonight, when the serious partying begins. Tomorrow they will nurse their hang-overs and pack up to go home.

We benefited big time this year, however. One of the Yale cooks who hasn't been up in several years dropped by this morning to say hello and ask after Meg. Generations of neighborhood children have grown up with Yale, and Meg was no exception. She was almost 5 her first time Yale was in residence, and enthralled by these tall young gods who appeared quite unexpectedly one day.    

As the years rolled by she was first a brat(to be avoided), then a kid(to be included in croquet and foursquare games), then an almost teenager( to be chuckled at) then a teenage girl(to be ignored), and finally a kitchen employee for several years(interesting because she rowed crew for URI), before she graduated from college and moved on.    

The years she worked the kitchen and dining room she became close to one of the cooks, who fed her, and by extension, us very well. He was back today to work just the Regatta, and, boy was it good to have him in the kitchen today. After stopping by this morning, he arrived back at 2:00 with lunch-chicken and veggies and pasta, and promised dinner. He returned at 7:30 with two plates of Chateaubriand(I kid you not!) with asparagus and mashed potatoes, which happened to be "left over" from the Official Senior Banquet. It fed four of us very well, and in a manner to which we are quite unaccustomed.    

Needless to say, I am glad he is here now, and not after my gastric bypass! Three of the four of us here tonight rarely eat red meat, but made an exception as soon as that prime beef came through the doorway. Neighbors usually end up with some food after the rowers have gone, because Yale does not want to cart food back to New Haven, but this is the first time we've been so lucky on Regatta Day.  

And poor Meg had to work 6 PM to 6 AM, and missed it all. Did we save her any? Not a smidgen! Sometimes I am a very baaaadddd mother!    

 Blessings, Margo  

Tuesday, June 7, 2005

Yale is in Residence

  Well, early summer has arrived, and with it heat, and, more importantly, the Yale Men's Crew. We live across the street from on the Thames River (pronounced with the "th" sounding, unlike it's name sake in London), and across the street from us is the Yale Boathouse. Not the fancy, up-to-date one in New Haven, you understand, but the big old run down barn-like buildings where they come to practice for the Harvard-Yale Regatta, known in Yale & Harvard rowing circles as "The Race."  

The Race is a four mile all out sprint against Harvard, which has a boathouse down river. This is the longest running intercollegiate sporting event in the country, now going strong after more than 125 years! For the first 20 years or so the Race was rowed on Lake Winnipesaukee, in NH, then moved to the Thames because it was more or less half way between Boston and New Haven.  

It is also the longest rowing race in all of rowing, an incredible athletic feat that Yale usually loses. alas. It doesn't matter if they beat Harvard during the regular rowing year, they rarely win at "The Ferry." Nevertheless, over the years Yale has made itself quite well known in the neighborhood, which has seen Yalies come and Yalies go for over 100 years.  

At first the boys stayed in neighbors' homes, but as time went on they bought property, added onto the old houses and made themselves a temporary home away from home where generations of rowers have come, spent two or three weeks training for the long haul up the river, rowed the race, and gone home.  

Several times I have met former Yale rowers in other situations-outside of Philadelphia where I grew up, or in the Poconos- and each time I tell them I live in the house across the street, they say, "The red one with the seagull on the roof?" Yup. that's us.(The seagull is wooden) And for the last 26 years the one with the "Row Well Yale" sign up on the roof. We townies have our own traditions, too, you know.  

A few years ago, Rene added to the neighborhood traditions by painting "Go Yale Go" in blue on the street. The next year she added a big white Y on either side. Occasionally she has to repaint it. This year the blue is outlined in white, and the Y' s have oars on either side, like the huge Yale rowing flag that flaps in the breeze on the top of the dorm building. Shhhh. Don't tell anyone, I am sure the public works department does not approve.  

The first race-the freshmen-is usually on Friday night, along with the Yale Rowing Alumni Association Cocktail Party, to which the neighbors (that's us!)are invited. It is the only cocktail party I attend most years, and neighbors talk to neighbors, while Yale talks to Yale. It is actually fun, as we try to get as much food and drink out of Yale as is neighborhoodly possible in one three hour interval. I usually don't last that long, since I only have one cocktail, and don't like to stand too long. Still, it is an event to attend. We catch up on what has gone on all winter, while the alumni reminisce about rowers past and discuss their stock portfolios. ( I made that last part up, I am rarely privy to their conversations, I'm too busy with neighbors!)  

The other three races are on Saturday, the sophmores row 2 miles, the JV , 3 miles, and the Varsity, a muscle screaming, lung crushing, agonizingly long 4 miles. They usually start down near the mouth of the river and row upstream to Bartlett's cove, which is about a mile downstream from us. We stand on Yale's property, listen to the race on the radio and scream for Yale to hurry up. With binoculars, we can see them cross the finish line, usually second.  

Still, since none of us went to Yale, it is not the end of the world, and we come back across the street to watch the alumni and rowers' families clog up the neighborhood with volvos and audis and mercedes, while they wander around telling each other, wait till next year! When, of course, the same scenario will be played out once again. It's a neighborhood/Yale tradition!  

Blessings, Margo

Wednesday, June 1, 2005

And so, onto June...

Mood:  Exhausted! 

Well, thank Goddess May is over! I do not usually wish time away, but last month had way too many doctor/therapy/PT appointments, and I am so into medical stress fight or flight responses that I am exhausted full time. Of course some of the exhaustion is due to medication, obesity, and-new problem- sleep apnea.  

 I "flunked" my sleep study test over the weekend. I had been asleep less than an hour before Gretchen, the respiratory therapist, came running in to put me on a CPAP. For those not in the know, CPAP stands for "Continuous Positive Airway Pressure (CPAP): CPAP works by gently blowing pressurized room air through the airway at a pressure high enough to keep the it open. This pressurized air acts as a "splint." The pressure is set according to the patient’s needs at a level that eliminates apneas and hypopneas that cause awakenings and sleep fragmentation"-The American Sleep Apnea Association. Goody, goody a machine to sleep with.  

I did have some fun there, though, because I could play with the pulse/oxymeter, which measures one's pulse and the amount of oxygen in the blood. Mine, of course is low, which is why I am tethered to oxygen full time now. Before the test actually started I took the oxygen off, tested my level resting, then walked up and down the halls at various speeds, rushing back to my bed to see how I was doing. Little things amuse me, you understand.  

I ran quite low when I hustled, but I recovered quite quickly, a good thing according to Gretchen. Now I have to call my PMD to ask them to call the sleep study pace to hurry the report so I can get the CPAP quickly so I can be on it long enough before surgery so they don't postpone the gastric bypass, which wouldgivememoretimetgainweight, andtheywon'tdothesurgery ifIgainsomuchasonepound......

 Can you see how my brain is running, running on and on and on? Although I am holding it together pretty well on the outside, I am having to work hard on the inside to deal with the stress and related anxieties. And though a neighbor bleated "Take long walks" to me the other day, I cannot go far enough to out walk myself!  

Actually, despite all this, I am pleased that I am doing fairly well-talking to friends, meditating, getting out of the house most days, and remembering to breath into Mother Earth when I need grounding. Poor Rene, who is not very comfortable with emotions, gets the brunt of my frustrated outbursts (not aimed at her, but at the universe in general.) She leaves for Europe in twenty days and we hope we can both survive till then.  She will be-as always- a wonderful support once I have had the surgery and am recovering.

Poor dear, she has nursed me through six surgeries, several of them life threatening, in the last eleven years! I've nursed her through five.   Hmmm, now that I think on it, we have had a staggering number of surgeries between us,especially since neither of us wanted to go into nursing as a career.

At our Ceremony of Commitment in '95, we had only had 6 surgeries, and got teased about promising "in sickness and in health" since health was already out the window! Laughter does help, doesn't it? As does commitment, or else we'd have killed each other under the stress of it all.   Still and all, I feel blessed these days. I have a good woman for a partner, a great place to live, a self-supporting daughter, health insurance and a sense of humor-these things will get me through.

  Blessings, Margo