Tuesday, May 30, 2017

My day...

My dear friend Mary sent me an early birthday present package, which included a copy of the Coverdale translation of the Psalter.  BLISS.

I decided that I would post one a day on my Facebook page, like I did when I first created my Psalter blog for reading, praying, and searching out themes amongst the psalms.  I wish I were a website designer and then I would have a second version of all the individual entries of the Coverdale translation.

Although I am behind a couple of days, I thought I would start posting the Coverdale translation here, too.  For, after all, one can never have enough Psalms, can one, eh?

BLESSED is the man that hath not walked in the counsel of the ungodly, nor stood in the way of sinners : and hath not sat in the seat of the scornful.
    But his delight is in the law of the Lord : and in his law will he exercise himself day and night.
    And he shall be like a tree planted by the water-side : that will bring forth his fruit in due season.
    His leaf also shall not wither : and look, whatsoever he doeth, it shall prosper.
    As for the ungodly, it is not so with them : but they are like the chaff, which the wind scattereth away from the face of the earth.
    Therefore the ungodly shall not be able to stand in the judgement : neither the sinners in the congregation of the righteous.
    But the Lord knoweth the way of the righteous : and the way of the ungodly shall perish.

~Psalm 1 (Coverdale)

Savor the words in the Word.  Their richness.  You cannot just race through them.  They cry out to take your time.  Let them fill your mouth and your ears and your heart.  BLISS.

Today was a long day and is still going on for me, here at 12:53 AM.  Actually, it has only been a long afternoon and evening, so not much for most folk, but for me.  Mostly, it has been a long 4 hours.  There, I get to the truth of the matter.

This afternoon, with Becky in my ear, I visited two tattoo parlors.  I wanted to just go to the one near me that has a good reputation, but then I pushed myself to get to the second one. I am glad.  You see, Becky's present to me is to get matching tattoos.  Pretty much my entire family will freak out, for I am going with the back of our wrist trailing down to the side of the hand.  It is floral, with an authentic, botanical feel. I really want it in brown, but pretty much everyone says not.  At the second shop, there is a guy who does black and white exclusively and has an extensive floral portfolio.  I saw one of his pieces that is just beautiful.  So, he's our Tattoo Dude.  Hopefully.  I meet with him tomorrow morning to see if we can get on his schedule for Tuesday morning.

Then I came home and had dinner out in my haven and just rested and relaxed until 9:00.  That was rather late to start, but I was bound and determined to meet my goal of shampooing the carpet in the hallway and landing area upstairs.  Goal met!

I also managed to get the rug in the solarium cleaned!  I've been wanting to do this for a long while. I thought I was going to have to drag it down to the basement, bring down the carpet shampooer, clean it, and lug them both back upstairs.  However, I decided to see if the back would get wet or if I could just leave it upstairs.

It would have been much better had I done this during the day, because then I could have draped the rug over the airing porch balcony.  However, I did not want to do that at night.  I did leave the fan on in the solarium when I was done to help speed the drying.  If need be—and if I remember—I can drape it on the morrow whilst I am out running errands and attending appointments.

Afterwards, I enjoyed a half a Frosty, my reward.  Half because I am trying to be reasonable.  Mostly, I will eat a whole one.  I'll leave the size of that whole one to your imagination.

Then, after more resting (and Frosty-longing as I thought about the other half being in the freezer), I started working on a batch of my Black-eyed Pea Medley.  It is cooking now and I plan to fall into bed afterwards.  What I am to do next is to make a list for shopping on the morrow.  I got a draft of the meal plan done last night.  It is good, expect for the fact that I got Becky's departure time wrong and have two more meals to plan!  Oops!!

This is Baby Bunny.

This is the lettuce he's been eating.  I couldn't figure out why it wasn't growing.  It is!  It just has bites taken out of each and every leaf.  SIGH.

I did find a new bloom on my Amos Walk today.

And I spent quite a while fawning over my beloved Fluffernutter, who, now that he is in his teens, has finally embraced his doggy bed!  So adorable.  He was exhausted from all his fretting over the carpet shampooing and fell asleep whilst I was prepping and putting together the black-eyed peas.

Now, on with my visit prep!

Monday, May 29, 2017

A whole lot of nothing...

Yesterday, I had all these plans for planning, but, aside from walking Amos, all I did was to think about just how difficult all that pruning was.  I spent about 90 minutes pruning and cleaning up, but that was a near eternity for me.  So, pretty much all I did was rest and watch the Coca Cola 600.

Today, I thought I might get to my planning, especially since Becky and Celia will be here in just three days.  Alas, nary a plan was made.  Again, I walked Amos, so that was a win on my part.  But then all I managed to do was to replenish the protein in my refrigerator.  After a few hours of sporadic tending to the stove and oven, I ended up with bacon bits, poached chicken, and beef jerky back in my refrigerator.  The latter has been missing for a long while.  I forget to make the stuff.  SIGH.

Aside from that, I did not even get any decent streaming in to while away the time.  Mostly, I sat on the sofa, holding Amos, and listening to the birdsong coming down the chimney.  I sure do savor birdsong.

In sum, the past two days have been filled with a whole lot of nothing.

Here, though, are three more photos from walking my beloved Fluffernutter.

These are odd, with such skinny stalks and leaves.

These have a really strong aroma.  I'm still trying to decide if I like it or not.

Another pink!

Saturday, May 27, 2017

Yard labors...

The thing to do when you've only recently seriously injured your back is to prune your forsythia because guests are coming and they won't be able to walk past it when you ask them to come see your new driveway and the back side of your new haven.

I tried using a drop cloth to minimize the clean-up, but I really should have wrapped it around like a Christmas Tree skirt.  Next time.  If I remember.

The forsythia looks better, right?  And you can walk past it.  And it did not hurt as much as it could have ... I think.

Yes, I ....  Well, I was sweaty and shaking and already hurting, so I tackled the weeping cherry, which I have been avoiding because it requires bending over and that is always rather difficult for me, if not downright dangerous.

Here it is just five years ago.  A bargain at $38.95.  Who knew it would grow so well!

The disappointing part of this photo is that it really doesn't show just how hard I worked on the tree.  I think I did my best job yet at reducing its girth.  Though, looking at this photo, I probably had just a bit more I could do on the left side as it is curving to the back side.  Later, though.  I reduced its girth and trimmed it up about 18 inches from the ground, a difficult task since the yard slopes down fairly significantly as you move from one side of the tree to the other.  Still, I think that I trimmed it rather evenly.

On my Amos walk, I so enjoyed the variations of peonies that are blooming.

Pink is the most popular color in my neighborhood, though there are so very many shades of it.  These are actually a bit lighter than appearing here.

I like the color combination on whatever this is.  The dark center with the soft peach is quite beautiful to me.

These are the oddest blossoms I've ever seen.  So low to the ground and unassuming, yet they, too, are beautiful.

I very much doubt I will continue to be given such an impressive display as I have been for the past month, but I have so enjoyed the landscaping in my neighborhood.  Though ... I do admit that I oft feel my yard is wholly inadequate.  And I am certain that I need to fit in some peonies somewhere.

I sort of started to panic about not having any plans for my birthday celebration yet.  There was someone on Facebook who was telling me, basically, that I didn't need any plans.  Her comment hurt because I do need plans and anyone who's read the very vulnerable posts I've been making for months now would know that.

It really hurt.

I thought I would start on a meal plan tonight, but all I did was moan and groan over my yard labors and try not to go nuts over the near constant twitching in my right eye.  I am so very exhausted.

Maybe tomorrow I can start a meal plan and get started on a shopping list.  The one real cleaning task I had hoped to do is to shampoo the hallway.  Amos has watered a few doorways in protest of my leaving for appointments.  I now leave him wearing a belly band.  He's not happy with me.  Amos' weakness aside, although I have been assiduous in spot cleaning, I keep thinking I might be smelling something untoward.  However, shampooing requires carrying the water bin back and forth as I work.  I am not certain I can do that.  I am fairly certain I should not be doing that.  Becky arrives Thursday. I'd need to shampoo the hallway by Tuesday.

Because of his weakness, Amos is forbidden any bedroom but mine (he would say "his").  So, they are all still completely clean and fresh-smelling.  Were I working, I would splurge and put flowers in all the bedrooms.  I miss being able to really treat guests well.


Hopefully, I can get some plans started on the morrow to quell the anxiety starting to brew within.  And maybe ... I can pull the few weeds that are out front.  That requires bending over.  Just a few though.

Is it so wrong to want my homestead to look spiffy for my guests??

Friday, May 26, 2017

I still hurt...

If you had told me a week ago that I would feel the way I do tonight, I would not have believed you.  When I found that article on acute lower back pain, that is exactly what I read, that I would be better in a week and most injuries are healed within four weeks.  I tried to believe that, but I admit that I did not.  Not really.

I hurt.  I really hurt.  But I hurt absolutely nothing like I did last Friday.  Oh, how I hurt then!  The pain is mostly a stiffness and a soreness, sort of like when your muscles are overworked, but not exactly.  When I try to bend over, it feels as if I will never be able to bend over again, but I try, slowly and carefully.  For a while, it is better, but when I sit for a while, I stiffen up and standing becomes so very nearly impossible.  Then, struggling to breath against the pain, I move enough for it to subside.  All of that, though, is nothing compared to the blinding pain of a week ago.  For that, I am immensely grateful.

Of course, I do not want it to take another three weeks to heal.
I am weary of new pain.
Of more pain.

I also have been hurting in other ways.  Ways that are difficult to express.

I read about a judge who lowered a sentence from six years to four for a migrant in Vienna who brutally raped a 10-year-old boy, leaving him with serious bodily injuries.  The judge's reasoning was two-fold:  1) this was a one-off for the boy and so it's not likely to affect him the way it would if he had been repeatedly abused and 2) it was a one-off for the rapist, being his first conviction.  The excuse the rapist used was that he had a sexual emergency, that it had been too long since he had had sex.  Why he wasn't laughed out of existence I am not sure.  But the arguments by the judge just ... floor me.  And fell me.

It is a total fallacy to say that just one rape will not affect someone for the rest of his/her life.  Some might heal well.  Some will not.  There is absolutely no research evidencing that a single rape is better with regard to the survivor's outcome than a second or more rapes.  Frankly, I would like to see that judge experience a brutal rape the likes of which the young boy experienced, live with it for a few years, and then consider reducing a sentence.

The second reasoning is a bit beyond me.  This is a man from a region where rape is perfectly acceptable.  He is also from a region where little policing happens.  I highly doubt that this was actually the young man's first rape.  However, that is speculation on my part.  It is also speculation on the part of the judge.  He could not conduct or have cause to conduct a thorough investigation of the young man in his home region or his actions all along the route he took to enter Vienna.

The judge's attitude toward a single rape galls me.
Infuriates me.
Leaves me in despair.

Nothing has changed.

I also read about a fourth grade teacher who was caught on camera kissing one of his students.  The boy's sister claimed he also kissed her, but the teacher only confessed to kissing the boy.  The teacher is on probation, but still allowed to teach.  He's also planning on continuing his career in education.  Caught on video kissing a student.  Probation.  This enrages me.  Any teacher caught on video kissing a student should be fired immediately.  I suppose it is more realistic that he be suspended pending a full review.  But, seriously, what the heck is there to review?  He was caught on video kissing a fourth grade boy.  There is absolutely no excuse and no need to review anything.

What also enrages me is the teacher's statement that he plans on remaining in his educational career.  The fact is that even with a sexual battery charge and conviction (it will most likely be pled down, even though there is a video tape because our world takes sexual abuse so very lightly), this teacher could move to another state and continue teaching.  There is no national database for teachers who have assaulted students and there is no national database for criminals.

I personally know someone who got off on a DWI in one state as a first time offense whilst having a pending case for his second DWI in another state.  That second DWI was also treated as a first because the first and the second were in different cities.  Our criminal justice system is woefully inadequate with regard to data keeping.  Even if the teacher is required to register as a sex offender, that is still a voluntary action.  Moving to another state really is a way to escape pesky things like a criminal past.   

What is worse is when there is an altercation and the school buries it.  That is all too common.  It is the same, really, as when businesses fob off problem employees by hiding their crimes.  One of my employers had an embezzler as an employee.  She was required to make restitution in private payments.  She went on to embezzle at another job.  At another one of my jobs, an employee was caught embezzling whilst I was working there.  It turns out that employee had done the same at a previous job.

These two bits of news came after reading some of the AP report on sexual abuse in schools across the United States.  A long, investigative report turned up seventeen thousand sexual assaults.  Swallow that number for a second.  Many of them covered up, swept aside, or ignored.  There is this persistent opinion that children will just get over it.  That what happened is not so bad.

I am not over it.
I am not the only one.

This is an informative website maintained by a foundation in Australia committed to:  "...improve the lives of the five million (1 in 4) Australian adults who are survivors of childhood trauma, including abuse. We support survivors, their families and communities through professional phone counselling, information and resources, advocacy and educational workshops. We also deliver professional development training, group supervision and consultancy for workers, organisations and practitioners working with survivors."

I want to move to Australia.

There are resources for survivors, medical personnel, mental health professionals, legal and justice professionals, and other organizations and staff in the pursuit of the fight against child sexual abuse and the support of adult survivors.  I particularly like this one page on myths about child abuse, because the remain such a problem for survivors.  But the entire website is the most impressive one on sexual abuse that I have ever seen.  Seriously, we need this national organization here in America.

What hurts so much is that, looking back on the past 50 years, as I have been doing of late, I see little change since I was a child with regard to sexual abuse.  It remains a silent epidemic and falsehoods about its impact continue to harm children (and the adults they grow to be).  It also remains a source of shame.  Something that you cannot really talk about, given how inappropriate the subject matter remains.  And having a history of child sexual abuse remains a huge obstacle to getting proper medical care for physical needs due to what amounts to prejudice born of ignorance.  There is this collective belief that patients struggling with their history of child abuse are all mental patients who's complaints are born of their past and not usually a physical reality.

That might be a harsh generalization, but I have experienced it, other survivors I now have experienced it, and medical personnel I know have spoken of experiencing it from the other side of things.  It stinks.  It deepens the wound.  And it is wrong.

I still hurt in so very many ways.

Tuesday, May 23, 2017

A new recipe...

I was on a bit of a mission today.  Taking pain mediation has made my already too slow bowels even slower.  So, instead of making another batch of baked oatmeal, I wanted to make bran muffins.  And I wanted those muffins to be made with Fiber One Cereal.  In the recesses of my mind, I hold the knowledge that I once made Fiber One bran muffins and they packed a wallop.  Just what I need.

I went searching for a recipe and found one that I could use as a base, but it had "healthy" alternatives on it, such as skim milk and egg substitutes.  I am not afraid of using eggs since it has clearly been established that all that hype about cholesterol was just hype.  Eggs are healthy.  Use them in cooking.  Eat them.  They are a good gift from God.

I had a bit of a snafu whilst I was cooking.  After I put the first tray into the oven, I realized that the recipe called for the oven to be at 400 degrees.  I had used my default 350 degrees when I set the oven.  SIGH.

I posted a frantic culinary-help-me on Facebook and my dear friend Emily came to the rescue.  She also said to think of this as a cooking experiment, since I had another tray (and then some) to cook.  I could cook the second tray at 400 degrees and note the difference.  She also told me that I'd probably have to sacrifice a muffin to cut into it to see how they were baking at the lower temperature.  This was 25 minutes.  The muffin was still a bit dense, so I cooked the other 11 for another 5 minutes.  This one, I ate with honey butter.

I love that I learned to make honey butter.

The ones on the left were the ones that I baked at 400 degrees.  This article explores the differences of cooking temperatures.  The higher temperature make the muffin tops a higher dome.

I wondered if you would see the difference in the liners, which I didn't use on the second tray.  So, I used liners, but at 400 degrees, for the final three muffins I had to bake.  Pretty big difference, eh?  I used the same amount of batter in both.

I am pretty pleased with the recipe that I ended up with during this process.  I decided to call them Bran Cereal Muffins, instead of just bran muffins because I want to eventually make bran muffins completely from scratch with the oat bran I have on hand.  As I said, I had to make some substantial changes to get what I wanted:  a flavorful, moist bran muffin.  I changed the type of milk and sugar and flour.  I dropped the egg substitute for real eggs.  I added spices and flavoring.  And I added dried cranberries.  I thought that the muffins turned out fantastic ... if you like bran muffins.  Most folk, I know, would be using raisons instead of dried cranberries.  I know that is more traditional. I just prefer dried cranberries, and I am the one eating these.  So, if you want to try the recipe and want to swap out the cranberries for raisons, it will not hurt my feelings!

Of course, I had to try the ones baked at 400 degrees just to see how they tasted. That's two bran muffins in one evening.  I have hopes for tomorrow.  At least I am trying to have hopes.  Hoping is not my strong suit.

Sunday, May 21, 2017

I was a fool...

I'm a fool.  I truly am.

This is my folly.

This bed was not existing when I moved here.  It was grass that I turned into a long, winding bed that starts over at the back porch steps, goes over to the side fence, and wraps around the corner and down its length.  The other beds, with years and years of plantings in them, have luscious soil in them. This bed has clay.

Thick clay.
Heavy clay.

This end of the bed has never been finished.  I thought I had finished last year, but the poor (expensive) variegated maple tree and the two St. John's wort I planted could not take the sun.  One of the bushes died.  The other I moved over to the bulb bed as a center piece.  The tree Firewood Man moved last fall over to the where the end of the haven now is.  So far, the tree looks happier there.  It has several hours of shade a day.  I am crossing my fingers most fervently that that happiness will remain during the mini-drought that Fort Wayne has every July-August.

I was fetching a pump sprayer for the neem oil I was advised to buy for both the carpenter ants I discovered and to tackle the powdery mildew that is sure to come back this year on the cucumbers that I am trying to grow again when I spotted A BARGAIN.  There were some really beautiful azaleas that are rated for sun that were substantially discounted ... maybe because the blooms are almost all gone?? ... so I stood in front of them for a long while wondering if they were finally the best way to finish the bed.

In the bed, there is a weigelia bush at the corner by the steps.  Then I have my beloved rock river that winds over in front of the burning bushes that are along the back wall (dining room) of my house.  In the corner as you turn along the side fence is a, now, ginormous smoke tree.  Next are three substantial Rose of Sharon that were started from three rather beleaguered, half-dead sprouts that I found on the other side of the yard.  If you haven't guessed, I am trying to block the view to my neighbor's yard (a bit junky there) and garage (more junkiness).  I was happy to find azaleas that were a bit larger and substantial, even knowing it will be several years before they fill the space.

I looked and looked and looked for another tree that could go there, but I just couldn't find something.  I thought about another lilac tree like I put over on the other side of the back steps, but it wasn't calling out to me as something good for blocking.  The tag on these bushes says that they grow between 5 and 7 feet tall and about 5 feet wide.  That would be just lovely.

However, did I do the right thing and ask Firewood Man to plant them? No!  I was a FOOL and tried myself.  He's so very busy and I doubted he could find the time.  He'd say just leave them in the pots for a while.  I know had I not bought them, the bushes would still be in the pots, but I have this thing where when I bring a plant or bush or tree home, I have to get it out of the pot immediately.

When I was working, I felt a couple of tweaks in my back that surprised me.  I ignored the warning signs though.  The first hole was hard, but the second, was a tad less brutal for me.  I think I went about digging it better.  Then, about half-way through the third hold, my back SCREAMED in pain and I SCREAMED and fell to the ground, scraping my elbow.

I was terrified.  I did not want to call 911, but I couldn't move.  The pain was just too much.  After a while, I called Firewood Man and begged him to finish the hole and get the bush into the ground.  I was so worried about that, in addition to what was going to happen to me.  He said he could pop by in the morning (it was about 7:30 on Friday evening).  I was so relieved.  I told him I wasn't sure what I was going to do but I was trying to get inside to my heating pad.  He very wisely told me not to use heat right way, but ice my back for a while.  I hung up before trying to move because I didn't want to him to hear me wail.

I levered myself up using the shovel and the rake.  And then I used the rake to get myself to the back steps.  Once inside, I have used all my energy to both endure the pain and try to get my back better.

I honestly thought I was going to have to call 911 to my back yard.  I have never been that scared for my health.  Well, I was pretty terrified getting the pacemaker.  The pain was as bad as when I tore the muscle in my neck when I was in college (I dropped a metal iron on it).

I did what anyone with acute lower back pain should do:  I Googled!  I found this really great article that covered acute lower back pain in a comprehensive manner, going from possible causes to treatment to long-term outlook.  The article confirmed ice for 48-72 hours is best before switching to heat.  I suspect this is ligament oriented because I refuse for it to be disk.  I hurt something on the left side of my pelvis, so not my large back muscles.  Small mercy.

The author, in discussing pain medication, noted that opioids did little to help, but trammodol was often effective.  I have a prescription for three days from last fall that I never used because I get so concerned about any drug that is addictive because 1) I am quite sensitive to drugs and 2) I come from generations of alcoholics and addicts.  So, my main goal was to make it upstairs to the trammodol.  I did.  Thankfully.

I was already thinking about cutting some of the pills in half to stretch them out longer when I realized that the original prescription was filled in error.  There was supposed to be 12 pills and there were only six.  So, I took three whole, stretching them out over eight hours instead of six.  And then I cut the other three pills in half, because I read that trammodol and tylenol have a synergistic effect.  So I am combining those two, hoping to get by.

The author stated that most acute lower back pain recedes by the end of a week, where movement is management and healing can begin in earnest.  And he stated that most injuries are resolved within four weeks.  That gave me hope.  Only my birthday celebration is in two weeks! I have to be MUCH better by then.

Today, I thought, since I can walk if I hold my back perfectly straight, that I would try to take Amos for his walk.  It's been raining since I hurt my back and he's been holding his major business since Thursday, with one dart outside and one accident inside.  In the first two blocks, Amos conducted his major business four times.  He was one relieved puppy dog.

I thought the walking would be the hardest part, but I was knocked down by a young girl on her plastic tricycle.  Since I listen to music, I didn't hear her coming up behind me, so I had no warning.  Suddenly I was crumbled on the ground crying out in pain.  The little girl was laughing and her father came and fetched her and her older brother to go inside their house.  Neither of them apologized or offered to help me.

I lay on the ground for a long, long time, Amos draped across my legs.  I didn't call out for help because I am still haunted by how long I screamed for help during the pit bull attack.  Later, folk said I sounded just like children playing, so that was why they ignored my pleas for so long.  Screaming SOMEBODY HELP ME doesn't seem like children playing to me.  But what do I know.

Finally, someone actually stopped to ask if I needed help, which I did.  The woman went and got her husband to pull me up to a standing position so that I could hobble home.  They offered to drive me, but I did not think that I could fold myself into their car.  I am feeling rather wretched all around.  And lonely.  And foolish.  But mostly lonely.

That a father could watch his daughter run me down and not try to stop her or help me.
That I lay on the ground so long today, as car after car drove by, without help.
That I screamed so long without help back during the pit bull attack.

The pain is better today than it was about 53 hours ago.  That is something.  I am trying very, very, very hard to stay in the moment and not think about how long it might take for me to get better and whether or not I created a permanent problem in my back.  And I am applying lots and lots and lots of Fluffernutter therapy.

I was such a fool.

Thursday, May 18, 2017

Trauma and the brain...

I tried to use the broiler on my new stove—the stove I've already had to repair once—and it wouldn't shut off.  So, I have another warranty repair appointment for Monday.  SIGH.

I had a therapy appointment today.  Afterward, since I was out, I fetched milk and a pump sprayer for the Neem oil extract concentrate I got for the carpenter ant nest in my evergreen tree and to put on my cucumber plants since last year they ended up getting the powdery mildew.  On the way home, I treated myself to fries and a frosty (which also means a junior bacon cheeseburger).

However, when I started to eat the french fries—a food that gets quite mushy when you chew it so it should have been no problem—I had the worst swallowing episode to date.  I was terrified.

The key to dealing with food stuck in your esophagus is to remain calm, but that is really, really, really difficult.  It is easier to fall into a panic because your body feels like you are choking, even though you are not.  The gastroenterologist told me that I needed to remain calm and talk myself throw the episode as I continue to try and swallow the food.  Eventually, she said, my attempts at swallowing will trigger the process lower down where the food has been stopped.

It is incredibly painful.  I am not sure why.  Perhaps the muscles are spasming or something.  Today, it was the most painful it has ever been.  And that scared me.

The episode was also longer than it has ever been. I tried and tried and tried to swallow, but nothing was happening.  I ended up walking around in a panic, flailing my arms about and shifting my torso in all sorts of positions to try and get the food moving again.  I longed to throw up, but, frankly, my years as an anorexic has ruined that ability (forcing yourself to vomit) for me, even though they are three decades in the past.

I ended up bent over the sink, frustrated because I could not swallow and because the tears I would have been weeping are not in my eyes due to the blasted Sjogren's.  I had my arms across the sink and my head in between and below them.  In that position, something shifted, just enough for me to stop thinking I should call 911 (there's nothing for anyone to do).  It was then that I was able to gird my loins, pull myself up by my bootstraps, and take a few calming breaths.  I tried to think of a calming thought, a calming Bible verse, but none came to mind.  However, I did redouble my efforts to swallow then and the food finally began to move the tiniest bit.

It was another ten minutes or so before my esophagus was clear.  The whole episode was over an hour.  My fries and burger were cold.  But, then again, I had no interest in food.  I was spent, and I was utterly overwhelmed by what had just happened.

It occurred to me in that moment that living with Chronic Illness means living with chronic trauma.  With autoimmune disease, your body is literally attacking itself.  With dysautonomia, the malfunctioning autonomic processes often feel as if your body is attacking itself.  Between both conditions, life can be rather rough.

That thought was a bit of a foreshadowing, for later in the evening I had the worst blood sugar attack I've had to date.  Once I finally realized what was happening, my blood sugar was only 36.

I was feeling so very ill, but not the way I usually feel when my blood sugar is low.  Then I started battling pre-syncope in a rather visceral way.  Usually, when it is bad, I will stop fighting the faint and just let go.  But something about how I felt made me afraid to do so.  I kept struggling to remain conscious.

Then, my heart started racing and pounding.  I checked my rate (136), but my blood pressure cup was upstairs and I did not feel well enough to fetch it.  I wondered if this was all BP related, but things just didn't fit.  I was anxious.  Then, when I started sweating, I realized it must be my blood sugar.  When the number popped up so very, very low, I shoved five glucose tablets in my mouth and began to chew as fast as possible.  I downed a small glass of milk and some cheese to get that balancing protein in and then gobbled up a granola bar in under a minute.

It is such a primal time for me, an almost feral desire to eat washes over me and I find myself standing (or sitting) before the refrigerator grabbing food right and left.  I will often eat more than I need because it takes a while for my blood sugar to rise.  Once I finished eating, I slid to the floor and lay down, waiting for my body to respond.

I posted on Facebook what was happening because I felt so very alone and so very scared.  I hoped someone would pray.  Once my hands were shaking a bit less, I posted an update and then curled my body around Amos.  Eventually, I fell asleep.  I was so very exhausted from the crash.

It is now 12:54.  I awoke a little while ago, feeling ever so much better.  I have something heating in the oven, because I want to eat again before I sleep for the night ... I want to get some more protein on board.  Then, I will walk around a bit since I am eating so last.  I thought I would catch up here, though I plan to back date the entry to 11:59, as I always do when I want to capture a day and it is past midnight.

The time with my therapist was interesting.  Mostly, it was more of a here's-all-the-stuff-in-my-head dump rather than what I would think of as a therapy session.  I came wanting to focus on two things:

1) I wanted to read her this passage from the shame research book by Dr. BrenĂ© Brown, I Thought It Was Just Me [But It Isn't].  The passage is from the chapter on the role of empathy in shame resilience.  In it, she has several segments of folk talking about shame, scenarios so to speak.  Then she identify the emotions in them.  Then she has a "Dig Deep" bit where she asks questions or poses moments that have similar emotions so that even if you are not familiar with the scenario, you can still identify with the person and share empathy.

Experience:  When I think about shame I think of being sexually abused when I was growing up.  I think about that what that's done to my life and how it's changed everything.  It's not just the abuse itself.  It's everything you have to deal with the rest of your life.  It's like you feel different from anyone else; nothing is every normal for you.  Everything is about that.  [even medical care for physical things]  I'm not allowed to just have a regular life.  That is the thing that made me who aI am and so everything is stained by that.  That's what shame is for me.

Emotions:  Feeling labeled, dismiss, misunderstood and reduced.  Emotions might include grief, loss, frustration and anger.

Dig Deep:  Have you ever been defined by an experience?  Found yourself unable to get out from under a reputation or "an incident"?  Have you ever been unfairly labeled?  Have you ever had people attribute your behaviors to an identity you don't deserve?  Have you ever fought to overcome something, only to find others less willing to move past it? (p.60) [my experience added above]

When I went to read it to her, I found myself choked up.  Once again, I was oddly frustrated because I could feel my body ready to weep, but there were no tears in my eye ... just a little bit extra moisture for my now perennially desert orbs.

I was thinking about this on the drive over to Mendard's because I got caught in a storm and then behind a train.  I was talking to my dear friend Mary and was trying to work up to asking her about it, about my thoughts, about having that as my identity, but I was chicken to voice the words and she had to go before I got them out.

This might sound strange, but I think I would like to try reading it again and talk with the therapist about why I got so choked up.  After all, I couldn't even identify what I was feeling when I read it.

The therapist took down the name of the book and said she would order it so we could use it as a tool since it was so important to me.  I still think The Courage to Heal is the BEST book ever for sexual abuse, but it lacks anything substantive on shame.  And shame fills my being.

2)  I have been really, really working on my relationship with my sister, talking with her about things I normally keep silent and trying to be more vulnerable with her.  I have also redoubled my efforts to be her cheerleader.  Well, in one of our talks just a bit ago, my sister said she remembered my father getting my uncle out of our bed.

In that moment, I was stunned.  I didn't know what to say and so I said nothing.  But I wanted to shout to the doubters:  SEE, I AM NOT MAKING THIS UP!  And I wanted to know if she remembered more.  I mean, was she sleeping the sleep of a child, dead to the world around her?  Did she see what he did to me?  Did he do it to her?  But it wasn't time for those questions.

When I relayed what had happened, the therapist said:  you had validation.  I don't think I thought of it in those terms, but I could say that there was a similar feeling within as when I learned I needed a pacemaker.  SEE, I AM NOT MAKING THIS UP!

The other real thing that arose was how I do not remember things, even as an adult, not even the good things.  My therapist said that she's been doing some clinical readings on memory for another client and learned that when your brain is in that fight, flight, or freeze mode, its priorities shift and it is not dialed into the moment for memory making, but rather shifted most of its resources away from the prefrontal cortex to the amygdala because of fear, so what gets encoded for memory is different from the normal process of remembering an experience.  Fear also changes how the hippocampus works, which is responsible for short-term memories and those converted to long-term.  There is a Time Magazine article I found talking a bit about it.  I forgot to ask her if she would provide me some of the clinical articles, because I very much would like to read more about how trauma affects memory.

You see, one of the things the integrative medication specialist has taught me is that the reason my cortisol levels are so very high is that my brain has become de-conditioned to trauma.  It reacts (or you could say overreacts) to experiences as if they were trauma so easily because I lived in a trauma-triggered state so long as a child.  My body did not have time to calm down, especially because I had no help doing so.  And with each stressful experience, my brain dumped cortisol, norepinephrine, and adrenaline more and more easily/quickly.  So, now, the slightest startling, the slightest moment of fear, and I feel that fiery rush of adrenaline throughout my body.

Hearing her talk about trauma and memory making makes me wonder if the reason I do not have even good memories is because of the near constant state of physical stress in which I live.  I mean, heck, Becky and I had a most lovely time in Italy.  I cannot understand why I cannot remember our trip.  Or when my friend Mary has visited.  She says that I made her chicken enchiladas and she loved them.  Surely I should remember that.  Or my visit with my friend Celia.  Or Amos.  Why can I not remember my beloved Fluffernutter as a puppy.

I depend a lot on photos, though I had given away and/or discarded most of mine.  Staring at things and people I cannot remember is despairing.  I stare at the representative ones I have kept and spend hours trying to walk myself back through that moment.  Nothing.

I collect stories about myself like they are priceless treasures.  I rehearse the things I have been told over and over and over again.  I want to hold onto at least what I know, even if it is not what I can remember.  What I do remember, for the most part, I would give anything to forget.  Especially the physical memories.  SIGH.

The most interesting part of my appointment today was that my therapist said that I could bring Amos.  Hmmmmmmmmm....

I do find it sort of ironic that I had two rather traumatic experiences tonight, by physical failings of my body.  I am not implying in any way that seeing the therapist today were their cause.  I mean, the swallowing thing happens every day to some extent or another.  Today ... early evening ... it was just the worst episode thus far.  And it is a precursor to the time when I very likely will not be able to swallow, given the progression of this problem over the past year.  The blood sugar?  Well, that is the most random, frustrating symptom  have.  Frustrating in its randomness.

I find it ironic because here I was thinking how the engrained trauma response has affected my brain and my life and BOOM!  More trauma.  Life with chronic illness is hard.  In many ways, its a crap life.

But I found a therapist who is willing to help me at a reduced rate.  I cannot go as often as I would like (to move things along), but I have someone who understands both the sexual abuse and the burden of chronic illness.  When I read that part above about never getting to be normal, she filled in the word "normal" because she knew what was coming.

When we talked about normal, I mentioned the baby in the bottle.  And she understood what I was saying.  I am not normal.  I do not understand basic things about life and about family.  That colors and informs my life.  And defines me in a way.  I crave normal.  It's why I desperately long for someone to go out for a meal with me ... to do a normal thing ... even if it is with someone who is not kind to me.  SIGH.

A dear Facebook friend sent me two blank journals and two notepads at Christmas.  I am thinking about using one of the journals to write down the thoughts that bother me or the things that I wonder about me and then take the journal to my appointments.  That way, the therapist could skim them and pick something to talk about.  I'd like my appointments to be half about the past and half about the present, if possible.  I need help with both.

Well, it's an hour later now.  I stopped to eat.  Now I need to try and spend some time on my feet.  Maybe I'll dance about the living room with Amos for a bit.  Lying down to sleep causes quite a few problems with me, especially as my heart rate slows and my blood pressure drops.  And my innards find life without the help of gravity rather hard.  So, when eating late for blood sugar crashes, I like to help my innards out as much as possible before becoming supine.

What a day.
Interesting that ... trauma and the brain.

Wednesday, May 17, 2017

Reflections on the Psalms (2)...

I didn't think I would share about my birthday present book right again, but I am!  Lewis surprised me.  You see, he picked his least interesting topic first:  Judgement.  And he proceeded to turn it upside down.  I just love thinking...

If there is any thought at which a Christian trembles it is the thought of God's "judgement".  The "Day" of Judgement is "that day of wrath, that dreadful day".  We pray for God to deliver us "in the hour of death and at the day of judgement".  Christian art and literature for centuries have depicted its terrors.  This note in Christianity certainly goes back to the teaching of Our Lord Himself; especially to the terrible parable of that Sheep and the Goats.  This can leave no conscience untouched, for in it the "Goats" are condemned entirely for their sins of omission; as if to make us fairly sure that the heaviest charge against each of us turns not upon the things he has done but on those he never did—perhaps never dreamed of doing.

It was therefore with great surprise that I first noticed how the Psalmists talk about the judgements of God.  They talk like this; "O let the nations rejoice and be glad, for thou shalt judge the folk righteously (67,4) "Let the field be joyful ... all the trees of the wood shall rejoice before the Lord, for he cometh, for he cometh to judge the earth" (96, 12, 13).  Judgement is apparently an occasion of universal rejoicing.  People ask for it: "Judge me, O Lord my God, according to thy righteousness" (35, 24).

The reason for this soon becomes very plain.  The ancient Jews, like ourselves, think of God's judgement in terms of an earthly court of justice.  The difference is that the Christian picture the case to be tried as a criminal case with himself in the dock; the Jew pictures it as a civil case with himself as the plaintiff.  The one hopes for acquittal, or rather for pardon; the other hopes for a resounding triumph with heavy damages.  Hence he prays "judge my quarrel", or "avenge my cause" (35,23).  And though, as I said a minute ago, Our Lord in the parable of the Sheep and the Goats painted the characteristically Christian picture, in another place He is very characteristically Jewish.  Notice what He means by "an unjust judge".  By those words most of us would mean someone like Judge Jeffreys or the creatures who sat on the benches of German tribunals during the Nazi regime: someone who bullies witnesses and jurymen in order to convict, and then savagely to punish, innocent men.  Once again, we are thinking of a criminal trial.  We hope we shall never appear in the dock before such a judge.  But the Unjust Judge in the parable is quiet a different character.  There is no danger of appearing in his court against your will:  the difficulty is the opposite—to get into it.  It is clearly a civil action.  The poor woman (Luke 18, 1-5) has had her little strip of land—room for a pigsty or a hen-run—taken away from her by a richer and more powerful neighbour (nowadays it would be Town-Planners or some other "Body").  And she knows she has a perfectly watertight case.  If once she could get into court and have it tried by the laws of he land, she would be bound to get that strip back.  But no one will listen to her, she can't get it tried.  no wonder she is anxious for "judgement".
(CS Lewis, Reflections on the Psalms, pp. 9-11)

That's the beginning.  So bloody fascinating!  The very idea of longing for judgement.  And yet a part of me does.  Maybe I am wrong about the Psalter.  Maybe it is only just what I want it to be rather that what it is.  I am not sure at times.  I mean, I know from the Transactional Theory of Reading that meaning is made when the reader interacts with the text (I write more about that here and here).  That is not to say that God did not set down His meaning with clarity in the text He caused to be created.  I believe absolutely there is only one meaning ... His meaning.  And I wrote about how I believe that it is the Holy Spirit revealing Scripture being how we learn what God means.  However, how I come to a text, even the Bible, is not going to be how you come to a text.  And how I come to the text of the Bible today is not how I came to it even six months ago.  My thoughts and feelings and experiences color and inform what I read.  There is no escaping that.

For all other texts, from the reader's standpoint, meaning does shift, from reader to reader, from reading to reading.  Some will argue there is no meaning than what the author intended.  I think a lot of authors would say this is true.  I think a lot of authors would say the exact opposite.  As would be the case in any work of art.  What does this painting mean?  What does this score convey?  What does this dance interpret?  What does this sculpture speak?

The Bible, though, stands apart from every other text.  I still believe meaning is made from the interaction of reader and text (Rosenblatt's theory calls that meaning made a poem), but as in the first post linked above, I believe the Holy Spirit creates those poems.

I believe that and yet I still doubt.

A friend wrote a comment on a Facebook post the other day that I do not understand. The old professor in me would totally have gotten it, but the ill former student does not. I have been afraid to ask her. It was something about the difference between exegesis and eisegesis.  I couldn't understand what she meant, but it sounded as if the only reason I call the Psalter "beloved," the only reason I find some comfort and solace there, is because I put that comfort into the text ... that it's not there in the first place.  I am so afraid that what I think she said is what she actually said instead of a misreading on my part that I have not asked her to clarify.  I just sit and quake in my fear.

And yet I started the first chapter of Lewis' book and immediately I find such kinship with the Jewish stance and think "aha" so loudly I swear my neighbors could hear me (being out in my beloved haven where surely mind thoughts travel farther).  It is another of those I-believe-and-yet-I-doubt situations.  

Tell me it was not my fault, and I will nod my head.  But part of me simply cannot believe you.  Because, you see, amongst all those perpetrators, the common denominator was me.  So, I wait in fear and trembling for that day of judgement.  And yet there is this part of me who believes such a terrible, terrible injustice was committed upon that little girl (that continued as she aged), one that cries out for reparations even if I have no clue what they could or should be.  I long for that day in court where I am not the one being judged, but one for whom justice is finally being served.  

I read Lewis' thoughts on the matter and all I could think is this is why those judgement psalms do not scare me or send me fleeing.  This is why I hold even them dearly against my heart.  I get it.  You don't have to explain really.  

Only Lewis explanation made me eager to dig out my Bible and start plowing through all the books that were in the period of judges in the Old Testament.  I want charts and graphs and diagrams to help my foggy brain study the words that are there in the fresh light of exactly what judgement was expected (hoped for) and why judges are not folk to be feared.

There is oh, so very much judgement in this world.
There is oh, so very little justice in this world.
The Psalter recognizes both.

God recognizes both.

And He gives you Jesus.

Tuesday, May 16, 2017

Reflections on the Psalms...

If we have any taste for poetry we shall enjoy this feature of the Psalms.  Even those Christians who cannot enjoy it will respect it; for Our Lord, soaked in the poetic tradition of His country, delighted to use it.  "For with what judgement ye judge, ye shall be judged; and with what measure ye mete, it shall be measured to you again" (Matthew 7, 2).  The second half of the verse makes no logical addition; it echoes, with variation, the first, "Ask, and it shall be given you; seek, and ye shall find;  knock and it shall be opened unto you" (7, 7).  The advice is given in the first phrase, then twice  repeated with different images.  We may, if we like, see in this an exclusively practical and didactic purpose; by giving to truths which are infinitely worth remembering this rhythmic and incantatory expression, He made them almost impossible to forget.  I like to suspect more.  It seems to me appropriate, almost inevitable, that when that great Imagination with in the beginning, for Its own delight and for the delight of men and angels (and in their proper mode) of beasts, had invented and formed the whole world of Nature, submitted to express Itself in human speech, that speech should sometimes be poetry.  For poetry too is a little incarnation, giving body to what had been before invisible and inaudible. (CS Lewis, Reflections on the Psalms, p. 5)

I really, really, really like Lewis' book.  I am sipping it like a fine wine, so I cannot delve into the fullness of its greatness at large yet.  But I wanted to revel in this one little section.  Actually, that last sentence:  For poetry too is a little incarnation, giving body to what had been before invisible and inaudible.

When I read this, it suddenly struck me how some of the prayers of the Psalter are the embodiment of Romans 8: 26-27: In the same way the Spirit also helps our weakness; for we do not know how to pray as we should, but the Spirit Himself intercedes for us with groanings too deep for words; and He who searches the hearts knows what the mind of the Spirit is, because He intercedes for the saints according to the will of God.

Consider Psalm 43

Vindicate me, O God, and plead my case against an ungodly nation;
O deliver me from the deceitful and unjust man!
For Thou art the God of my strength; why hast Thou rejected me?
Why do I go mourning because of the oppression of the enemy?

O send out Thy light and Thy truth, let them lead me;
Let them bring me to Thy holy hill
And to Thy dwelling places.
Then I will go to the altar of God,
To God my exceeding joy;
And upon the lyre I shall praise Thee, O God, my God.

Why are you in despair, O my soul?
And why are you disturbed within me?
Hope in God, for I shall again praise Him,
The help of my countenance, and my God.

Why are you in despair, O my soul?  Certainly that is a cry from deep within.  I started to think about all the psalms of anger and doubt and despair and longing and that sentence leapt out at me, the Psalter shows the invisible and inaudible.  I have written before about how the Psalter shows us how well God knows us.  I hadn't thought about it, though, in those terms.  How the Psalter shows us the fullness of Romans 8 26-27.

It's funny.  I am so very terrified of my emotions.  And yet the Psalter shows me that God is not afraid of them.  He pours them out on the page and tells me it is okay to pray them.

Alas, I digressed.  The point is that I have enjoyed pondering even just this little bit of my birthday present.  I like the simplicity of Lewis' writing.  Simplicity and depth.  It pulls you in and causes you to think.  And I do not get to think much these days.

In the introduction, Lewis says that he is using the Coverdale translation.  I do not have that and immediately wanted to order a copy.  However, as I said, I put the brakes on buying birthday gifts.  Amazon conveniently has a copy for when I am ready.  I would much prefer hardback, but beggars can't be choosers.  

I'd like to point out one other segment of the introduction:

What must be said, however, is that the Psalms are poems, and poems are intended to be sung:  not doctrinal treaties, nor even sermons.  Those who talk of reading he Bible "as literature" sometimes mean, I think, reading it without attending to the main thing it is about; like reading Burke with no interest in politics, or reading the Aeneid with no interest in Rome.  That seems to me to be nonsense. But there is a saner sense in which the Bible, since it is after all literature, cannot properly be read except as literature; cannot properly be read except as literature; and the different parts of it as the different sorts of literature they are.  Most emphatically the Psalms must be read as poems; as lyrics, with all the licenses and all the formalities, the hyperboles, the emotional rather than logical connections, with are proper to lyric poetry.  They must be read as poem  if they are to be understood; no less than French must be read as French or English as English.  Otherwise we shall miss what is in them and think we see what is not. (pp. 2-3)

Good advice, I think.

Monday, May 15, 2017

Visual bliss...

Today, my final birthday present to myself arrived in the mail.  I have a few more things on my list, but my number crunching told me that I had to stop.  So, I did.

I bought a pair of used Dansko walking shoes.  They are in fine shape and have lovely GREEN highlights.  It was rather heavenly to be walking with real arch support rather than $6.95 (Target clearance) slip-on sneakers.  I had almost forgotten what it was like to have shoes go around my heels, since the other shoes I've been wearing for months have been my clogs.  I did think, however, that having walked Amos for six month, it was long past time that I invest in a pair of good shoes.  These were $19.99.

Today, I tried a Facebook Live Video from my walk with Amos.  I did not plan at all, which is evident, for Amos kept jerking the camera by tugging on the leash.  When another dog appeared, that was the end of the filming.  And I had not even gotten to the best part of the walk.

Walking Amos is just brutal for me and it takes up nearly all the day's energy.  But Amos is so very bloody happy.  I cannot bring myself to stop, even though I am not sure how the heat will affect me.  I did try wearing a skirt today to have cooler legs, but I didn't have socks for the shoes, so I ended up wearing knee socks.  Hot!  I need to get some good crew socks that go with the shoes.  Anyway, the highlight of my misery—other than a happy, happy Fluffernutter—is looking at all the blooms in my neighborhood.  Like this!  I learned from posting the video that it is a peony.  I adore peonies.  I waited on baited breath for them to open.  It took eons, but I was not disappointed in those strange round buds in the least!  I very much would like to find a way to have them in my yard!!

The absolute best tulips that I have seen are these fringed ones.  Truly, I wanted to steel them such envy I had.  I have been content, though, walking past them each day.

I found columbine.  Of course, someone else had to remind me that I grew up with this flower on my vacation trips to Colorado.  I thought columbine was a different color.

They do!  I haven't spotted the blue I remember from Colorado, but I have seen both pink and white.  I just couldn't get near enough for photos.  And I would feel silly walking with my regular camera about my neck.

The tulips have drawn my interest the most.  Like I said, genuine gardener envy.

This is a good example of why I now would prefer to have tulip clumps in my yard.  They are like a bouquet in the ground!

And look at the same tulips opened in the sun!  Just lovely!

Just look at the color here!  I think it broke my iPhone camera!!

Lest you think I only snap photos of tulips and columbine, there is this lovely ... is it an iris?

This is a tree whose blossoms intrigued me.

This is a retaining wall that takes me right back to all the sedum, moss, lichen, and ferns growing in the ancient ruins in Italy.  There are a few houses that have this and I love looking at huge variety of flora and fauna growing in their cracks.

One house has a family of chipmunks living in their retaining wall.  That really freaked me out when I saw them.  Before that moment, I thought chipmunks only lived in Colorado.  Laugh, if you will.  But I do look forward to catching a glimpse of those tiny animals.

Even though it is in dire need of weeding, I very much look forward to gazing upon the remains of this tree.  It was such an old tree.  I wonder why the stump was left.  I'd love to touch it, to trace my fingertips long the ruins of the side of it.  Visual BLISS.

That's what I get along my walks.  I wonder if the show will keep up all summer or if my neighbors only highlight the world in spring.

I walk at different hours of the day, depending on when I have energy and if I need to try and avoid the heat.  I have seen far more sunsets since I started walking than before.  I am thankful for that.

I often praise God whilst walking, even when I'm huffing and puffing and groaning in pain.  I just love His hand in creation.  It's a marvel to me.  And I've been marveling for six months.  I love His world in all seasons ... even when I'm sweating like a pig!

Sunday, May 14, 2017

Too much...

I've been feeling wretched since last Saturday.  Really, things started to go downhill for me on Sunday.  Even though I was out of milk, I did not leave the house until Wednesday, when I had a prescription to fetch.  Oh!  How I wanted my beloved milk!!

As I told my dear friend Becky, I was so "wrong in my head."  Wrong. In. My. Head.  Those words should have reverberated throughout my broken rememberer so strongly that even it would have realized the problem.  But, oh no!  I was so darned STUPID!

Instead of realizing my problem, I blamed the allergy medicine that I started taking, adding a 39th drug to my profile.  And them I blamed the medication dose change.  And then I blamed the new mediation.  And then I blamed my lack of sleep.  And the constant headache.  And the constant dizziness.  And the increased pain.


Do you remember?  The last time I was this way was because, whilst filling my two-week medication boxes, I forgot to put in the gabapentin.  The highly addictive, rather dangerous gabapentin.  It is fine whilst you take it, but it is a bear to come off of it.  In fact, folk who go cold turkey risk seizures and death.

Yes, I spent the week in withdrawal from 1,600 mg of gabapentin.
Cold turkey.
Wrong in my head.

It has been about five or six hours since I had the thunderous realization that there were no yellow pills in my hand.  That there had been no yellow pills in my hand all week.  I was crushed and relieved and terrified all at once.

I would give anything, anything in the world, if I could have someone to at least sit with me whilst I filled my medication boxes.  Cramming all the pills in them, since several of my medications are multiple pills per dose, is quite the challenge.  Making sure that I get all the pills from all of my medications is, apparently, practically impossible for me. Even with highly honed organization skills.  Even with three college degrees.

Since I have had several misses with my medication—always with the dangerous ones—I have started filling the boxes with the most important medications first:  nerve pain, blood pressure, thyroid, and stomach.  Any of those causes significant problems when I miss them.  Next is my beloved Celebrex and my asthma pill medications.  Then I go on from there.  I have a bucket for the big bottles and two small containers for all the small ones.  The problem is that the gabapentin bottle is too large for the small containers, so I've been setting it on top.  It must have fallen down onto the shelf, because at some point during the previous two-week period, I stuck it in the drawer where all the unopened bottles are (most of what I take I get in a 90-day supply).   So, even though I went through my three containers, I missed the gabapentin because it wasn't there.

I really, really, really need some sort of container that will hold all the small bottles and that gabapentin bottle together.  SIGH.

It has been about five or six hours since I had the thunderous realization that there were no yellow pills in my hand and my head is feeling ever so slightly better.  I'm supposed to titrate back up, and I did fill the other boxes appropriately, but I took 400 mg straight away to try and stop the madness that is going on in my head.  It is my most fervent hope that I will soon be able to sleep more.

I came across this meme that I had saved for later.  The fact that I just came back inside from doing a little bit of planting probably makes now the later.

A while ago, I got two six-inch pots of fox glove.  They were on clearance for a dollar each.  I planned to plant them right away, but I didn't.  Then I was feeling so wretched.  Digging holes is one of the hardest things for me to do these days.  It is, I believe, right there behind getting up from a squatting position (or having bent over).  It is much worse than a shower and those are pretty darn draining.

The good thing about having an antique garage is that it has three windows.  There is one on the wall with the old workbench, and I had set the foxgloves right in front of it.  I did remember to water them.  I am not sure, but I think I might have had them in there for two weeks now.  Maybe even longer.  In any case, they were not dead and, whilst waiting for some help from the gabapentin, I swallowed, and whilst avoiding thinking about this medication miss and how very very dangerous it was, I thought to pop those foxgloves in the ground.

I'm hoping they live.
I'm hoping the bees like them.
I'm hoping Amos doesn't believe they need watering.

I eat when I can (as in when I am not nauseous).  I sleep when I can (as in if I cannot I won't try to force the issue).  I arrange things how they best fit me and my broken rememberer.  I do the dishes in the way that works for me.  I do the laundry in the way that works for me.  I shower in a way that works for me.  I walk Amos when it is best for me.  I have plans and processes and scripts to get me through my days, and I need my routines and procedures to not be interrupted or questioned.  So, I absolutely understand why that meme was created.

The questioning of what I am doing and when I am doing it is crushing.  It fillets me and leaves me mentally curled up in a ball, weeping.  I get it a lot, especially from family members.  Bluntly I am told I am not taking care of myself.  I want to scream back, "ALL I DO IS TAKE CARE OF MYSELF EVERY DARN DAY!"  And it doesn't really help me if I try to talk about this and I have the rather un-empathetic response that the other person probably meant well.  If you mean me well, you will learn about my illnesses and how I cope and support me in those coping mechanisms rather than criticize me.  Or tell me what to eat.  Or that I need exercise.  ARGH!

I have enough criticism in my life already.
From me.

I want to talk to my new GP about this problem with medication.  The only real solution would be 1) to have a pharmacy service package the medications in single doses (wildly expensive) or 2) pay a nurse to fill my medication boxes (wildly expensive).  I want to talk with her about it, but I am afraid it would make her question my ability to live independently.  I think that I still can, especially if I got help with my bills and my medications.  I want to talk with her because I wonder if she might have another mediation-management idea for me.  She seems to be an idea kind of doctor.

Not those kinds of ideas, either!

Realizing what I had done to myself was also incredibly lonely.  It is one of those moments when I am most certain that I am unworthy of love or care or compassion.  For I think that if I were, then someone in my life would help me in those two areas.  I mean, if I just had someone to check my medication list and ask me if I have filled X or Y or Z, then I would at least have something of a back-up.  And I've said many, many times that if I just had someone check in with my bills a couple times a month, running down the list of what I need to be paying, then I would at least have something of a back-up.

It's funny-but-not-funny.  Back in Alexandria, I did have offers of help from the church I went to for a while.  "What do you need? How can I help?"  But the answers I gave were met with ... enthusiasm and then disappearance.  I heard over and over and over again ... you need too much.  For someone who often struggles to find a reason to keep breathing, that's pretty devastating to hear.  Because what I was told was that I was too much.  My life.  My illness.  My hurts.

"How can you help?  Scrub my tub every once in a while."

"Okay, I will come and clean your house once a week.  "
"Oh, but it's an hour drive each way.
"I have my own family to take care of.
"I am tired myself."
"I cannot do this."
"It's too much."

But I didn't ask you to come clean my house every week.  That was your idea of what you thought I needed.  You made it too hard, and then you disappeared.  I think as I struggle to scrub my tub.

I need to keep hidden my past, because it is too much.   I need to keep hidden my cognitive struggles, because they are too much.  I need to keep hidden my bodily ills, because they are too much.  I need to keep hidden my PTSD, because it is too much.  I need to keep hidden my spiritual terrors, because they are too much.

The last is pretty wretched to hear.  I need too much spiritual care.  All I really asked, in the end, was to read to me.  I even bought a spare NASB 1977 Bible and Gerhardt's Handbook of Consolations.  No wonder I really question where I'll be when I die.


That I forgot to take gabapentin for a week is almost too much for me.  It is enormous and overwhelming.  I cannot go there in my mind so I planted foxgloves at 3:00 in the morning and I backed up my computer—I hope the entire world is backing up their data this weekend—and I did laundry.  I did all those things after midnight and after a week of little sleep and despite being weak and weary and wrong in the head still.  I did them because I needed to so that I could get through the aftermath of realizing what I had done.

Another medication mistake.
Another danger to myself.
Another time I needed God's saving grace.

I also went ahead and put in the gabapentin doses in the now empty week's container so that I won't forget it in another week when it comes time to do that Grand Mediation Refill once more.  SIGH.  Maybe I should print out a list of my meds and cross them off one-by-one each week?  Would that help me??

It's one thing if the world is telling me that I am too much, but it's another if I begin to think so.

Thursday, May 11, 2017

Lovely little sentiment...

I found another truncated verse meme and posted about it:    

Here's another truncated verse meme. SIGH.

The actual verse is: " I have set the Lord continually before me; because He is at my right hand, I will not be shaken."

By including the entirety of the verse, the emphasis shifts from the individual to God. You can also see the parallelism here. Setting God before you strengthens you.

But let's look at the whole psalm:

Preserve me, O God, for I take refuge in Thee.
I said to the LORD, "Thou art my Lord;
I have no good besides Thee."
As for the saints who are in the earth,
They are the majestic ones in whom is all my delight.
The sorrows of those who have bartered for another god will be multiplied;
I shall not pour out their libations of blood,
Nor shall I take their names upon my lips.

The LORD is the portion of my inheritance and my cup;
Thou dost support my lot.
The lines have fallen to me in pleasant places;
Indeed, my heritage is beautiful to me.

I will bless the LORD who has counseled me;
Indeed, my mind instructs me in the night.
I have set the LORD continually before me;
Because He is at my right hand, I will not be shaken.
Therefore my heart is glad, and my glory rejoices;
My flesh also will dwell securely.
For Thou wilt not abandon my soul to Sheol;
Neither wilt Thou allow Thy Holy One to undergo decay.
Thou wilt make known to me the path of life;
In Thy presence is fulness of joy;
In Thy right hand there are pleasures forever.

~Psalm 16 (NASB 1977)

Setting God before you strengthens you, yes, but the larger message is that we are sustained and strengthened and satiated when we have our refuge in God.

Or maybe you would put it another way.

To me, the point is to embrace the fullness of Scripture. Please do not take out slivers of verses and represent them as the whole. And please read around the verses and even the chapters ... especially before you create your "inspiring" meme.

Later, I was sitting there thinking about this and it struck me that I spotted both of the truncated verses because they were from my beloved Psalter.  I know that book of the Bible so well.  However, surely when it comes to truncated-verse-meme-making, psalm verses are not the only ones truncated for ... well ... editing for effect.

What was the intended effect in this one?  The group it was posted in was one for chronic illness.  Since living with chronic illness is a battle, I suppose "I will not be shaken" is a good message for the intended audience.  But when I look at the rest of the verse, it is as if the meme creator stripped God right out of the verse.  If that is the case, then why quote a bible verse in the first place?

But, back to my earth-shattering realization ... just how many of the bible verse memes how there might have been edited for effect on intended audience?  For that matter, how about bible verses in devotionals and bible studies?  How many of those might be truncated?  These days, with fact-checking and editing on the decline, I wouldn't be surprised if the answer is a whole heck of a lot of verses.

Lest I forget to take the log out of my own I, I will admit that there is a verse that I often share only in part.  I do so because of emphasis.  And it is such a lovely little sentiment.  When I share it, as I do if ever  ever sharing just part of a verse, I try to make clear that there are missing parts either by using a letter with the verse reference number or using ellipsis or both.  

What verse do I find myself truncating?  Act 17:28.  "For in him we move and breathe and have our very being."  Well, that's how I learned it in a bible study.  The first two parts are not exactly accurate since breathing is not even mentioned (though it was back in verse 25).  However, if you look at all the translations, it is clear that someone added the word "very" for emphasis.  As what is often common is to take phrasing from more than one translation and create a bit of a mash-up.

for in him we live and move and have our being.' As some of your own poets have said, 'We are his offspring.' (NIV)

for in Him we live and move and exist, as even some of your own poets have said, ‘For we also are His offspring.’ (NASB)

for in him we live, and move, and have our being; as certain also of your own poets have said, For we are also his offspring. (KJV)

for “‘In him we live and move and have our being’; as even some of your own poets have said, “‘For we are indeed his offspring.’ (ESV)

For in Him we live and move and are.' As also some of the poets among you have said, 'For we are also His offspring.' (BLB)

But if you actually set aside how lovely a sentiment it is to be able to share (for in Him we move and breathe and have our very being), something you might note amongst the different translations is the punctuation differences.  To comma or not to comma!  And, if looking carefully at the punctuation, you might notice different sets of quotation marks.

Yep, sadly, my own truncating (in my defense I truncate because I learned it this way), there was even more truncating taking place.  You see, this half line that has such a lovely sentiment that is oh, so quotable is actually part a sermon.  Yes, well, certainly one ought not to go around truncating sermons!

And Paul stood in the midst of the Areopagus and said, “Men of Athens, I observe that you are very religious in all respects. “For while I was passing through and examining the objects of your worship, I also found an altar with this inscription, ‘TO AN UNKNOWN GOD.’ What therefore you worship in ignorance, this I proclaim to you. “The God who made the world and all things in it, since He is Lord of heaven and earth, does not dwell in temples made with hands; neither is He served by human hands, as though He needed anything, since He Himself gives to all life and breath and all things; and He made from one, every nation of mankind to live on all the face of the earth, having determined their appointed times, and the boundaries of their habitation, that they should seek God, if perhaps they might grope for Him and find Him, though He is not far from each one of us; for in Him we live and move and exist, as even some of your own poets have said, ‘For we also are His offspring.’ “Being then the offspring of God, we ought not to think that the Divine Nature is like gold or silver or stone, an image formed by the art and thought of man.  “Therefore having overlooked the times of ignorance, God is now declaring to men that all everywhere should repent, because He has fixed a day in which He will judge the world in righteousness through a Man whom He has appointed, having furnished proof to all men by raising Him from the dead.” (Acts 17:22-31 NASB 1977)

Now, I am not going to start an exegesis of Paul's sermon on Mars Hill.  I cannot even begin to go down that road.  But I can say that the point of the sermon was not the lovely sentiment.  The point of the sermon was to share the Good News of Jesus Christ.  

But, really, I think we should back up even further from where we started.

Now while Paul was waiting for them at Athens, his spirit was being provoked within him as he was beholding the city full of idols. So he was reasoning in the synagogue with the Jews and the God-fearing Gentiles, and in the market place every day with those who happened to be present.And also some of the Epicurean and Stoic philosophers were conversing with him. And some were saying, “What would this idle babbler wish to say?” Others, “He seems to be a proclaimer of strange deities,”—because he was preaching Jesus and the resurrection. And they took him and brought him to the Areopagus, saying, “May we know what this new teaching is which you are proclaiming? “For you are bringing some strange things to our ears; we want to know therefore what these things mean.” (Now all the Athenians and the strangers visiting there used to spend their time in nothing other than telling or hearing something new.)

And Paul stood in the midst of the Areopagus and said, “Men of Athens, I observe that you are very religious in all respects. “For while I was passing through and examining the objects of your worship, I also found an altar with this inscription, ‘TO AN UNKNOWN GOD.’ What therefore you worship in ignorance, this I proclaim to you. “The God who made the world and all things in it, since He is Lord of heaven and earth, does not dwell in temples made with hands; neither is He served by human hands, as though He needed anything, since He Himself gives to all life and breath and all things; and He made from one, every nation of mankind to live on all the face of the earth, having determined their appointed times, and the boundaries of their habitation, that they should seek God, if perhaps they might grope for Him and find Him, though He is not far from each one of us; for in Him we live and move and exist, as even some of your own poets have said, ‘For we also are His offspring.’ “Being then the offspring of God, we ought not to think that the Divine Nature is like gold or silver or stone, an image formed by the art and thought of man.  “Therefore having overlooked the times of ignorance, God is now declaring to men that all everywhere should repent, because He has fixed a day in which He will judge the world in righteousness through a Man whom He has appointed, having furnished proof to all men by raising Him from the dead.”

Now when they heard of the resurrection of the dead, some began to sneer, but others said, “We shall hear you again concerning this.” So Paul went out of their midst. But some men joined him and believed, among whom also were Dionysius the Areopagite and a woman named Damaris and others with them. (Acts 17:16-34 NASB 1977).

Gosh, now we are looking at some context, eh?  It wasn't that Paul was reaching out for a local reference.  He was preaching the Good News whilst pointing out a grievous error in the ways of the folk of Athens.  We are certainly no longer on this narrow focus of God as the author and creator of our lives.

And, now, let's take another step back and look at the whole chapter:

Now when they had traveled through Amphipolis and Apollonia, they came to Thessalonica, where there was a synagogue of the Jews. And according to Paul’s custom, he went to them, and for three Sabbaths reasoned with them from the Scriptures, explaining and giving evidence that the Christ had to suffer and rise again from the dead, and saying, “This Jesus whom I am proclaiming to you is the Christ.” And some of them were persuaded and joined Paul and Silas, along with a great multitude of the God-fearing Greeks and a number of the leading women. But the Jews, becoming jealous and taking along some wicked men from the market place, formed a mob and set the city in an uproar; and coming upon the house of Jason, they were seeking to bring them out to the people. And when they did not find them, they began dragging Jason and some brethren before the city authorities, shouting, “These men who have upset the world have come here also; and Jason has welcomed them, and they all act contrary to the decrees of Caesar, saying that there is another king, Jesus.” And they stirred up the crowd and the city authorities who heard these things. And when they had received a pledge from Jason and the others, they released them.

And the brethren immediately sent Paul and Silas away by night to Berea; and when they arrived, they went into the synagogue of the Jews. Now these were more noble-minded than those in Thessalonica, for they received the word with great eagerness, examining the Scriptures daily, to see whether these things were so. Many of them therefore believed, along with a number of prominent Greek women and men. But when the Jews of Thessalonica found out that the word of God had been proclaimed by Paul in Berea also, they came there likewise, agitating and stirring up the crowds. And then immediately the brethren sent Paul out to go as far as the sea; and Silas and Timothy remained there. Now those who conducted Paul brought him as far as Athens; and receiving a command for Silas and Timothy to come to him as soon as possible, they departed. 

Now while Paul was waiting for them at Athens, his spirit was being provoked within him as he was beholding the city full of idols. So he was reasoning in the synagogue with the Jews and the God-fearing Gentiles, and in the market place every day with those who happened to be present.And also some of the Epicurean and Stoic philosophers were conversing with him. And some were saying, “What would this idle babbler wish to say?” Others, “He seems to be a proclaimer of strange deities,”—because he was preaching Jesus and the resurrection. And they took him and brought him to the Areopagus, saying, “May we know what this new teaching is which you are proclaiming? “For you are bringing some strange things to our ears; we want to know therefore what these things mean.” (Now all the Athenians and the strangers visiting there used to spend their time in nothing other than telling or hearing something new.)

And Paul stood in the midst of the Areopagus and said, “Men of Athens, I observe that you are very religious in all respects. “For while I was passing through and examining the objects of your worship, I also found an altar with this inscription, ‘TO AN UNKNOWN GOD.’ What therefore you worship in ignorance, this I proclaim to you. “The God who made the world and all things in it, since He is Lord of heaven and earth, does not dwell in temples made with hands; neither is He served by human hands, as though He needed anything, since He Himself gives to all life and breath and all things; and He made from one, every nation of mankind to live on all the face of the earth, having determined their appointed times, and the boundaries of their habitation, that they should seek God, if perhaps they might grope for Him and find Him, though He is not far from each one of us; for in Him we live and move and exist, as even some of your own poets have said, ‘For we also are His offspring.’ “Being then the offspring of God, we ought not to think that the Divine Nature is like gold or silver or stone, an image formed by the art and thought of man.  “Therefore having overlooked the times of ignorance, God is now declaring to men that all everywhere should repent, because He has fixed a day in which He will judge the world in righteousness through a Man whom He has appointed, having furnished proof to all men by raising Him from the dead.”

Now when they heard of the resurrection of the dead, some began to sneer, but others said, “We shall hear you again concerning this.” So Paul went out of their midst. But some men joined him and believed, among whom also were Dionysius the Areopagite and a woman named Damaris and others with them. (Acts 17 NASB 1977).

Holy cow!  Are we ever far away from that lovely little sentiment!  We're in the middle of a missionary journey and how God caused His word to move out from Calgary across the world, using, incidentally, one of the biggest critics of His Son to do so!  

I know it is increasingly unpopular to write the lengthy post, to read the lengthy passage, to actually wait whilst folk pick up a bible and flip to a passage and read along with you.  However, that act is so very important.  Sometimes, you will see a passage printed out in a bulletin or devotional, but that still draws one away from the bigger picture and takes that first tiny step toward truncating.  A step that, for me, led to this whole bible study on how to live for God since He is the author and creator of our lives.  It is not that serving God is not a laudable area of study, but it is not the point of that one half of Act 17:28.

And, to be honest, I couldn't tell you that until right this very moment because all these years I knew I have been truncating the verse, but I never went back and took the time to read all around it to understand how badly distorted I was presenting the verse.  


Even if the passage is faithfully printed out for the reader, the rest of the context is still missing.  And having the passage pulled out of context does not encourage the reader to go delve into the Bible herself/himself to see what else is there.

Now, I am not saying that it is not useful or even appropriate at times to pull out a verse (or two or three) to use to teach, to reprove, to build up.  I am actually a huge fan of scripture memorization and believe the Church would be much better off if we brought that back for all ages, both instructionally and socially (e.g., Have a cross-generational scripture memory contest at the next pot luck!).  But I do have greater and greater concern that the scripture memes popping up on social media might actually be doing harm ... at least with regards to biblical literacy if not spiritual harm.

I wonder ... you have the promise that God's Word doesn't return void (Isaiah 55:11), but is it actually God's Word if its been edited for emphasis or audience or framing a lovely little sentiment??