Thursday, April 01, 2010
I am not twenty anymore.
If I forget this fact, my body is quick to remind me. After much resistance, I have accepted, as I near the end of my fourth decade, that changes have occurred; irrevocable changes. I admire the women I know that seem to simply go with it. I transition easily, readily, with the calendar seasons, but the seasons of life are another story. Still, I had seemed to reach a place of acceptance; summer is ending and autumn leaves are changing rapidly.
I had hoped that when this season arrived, I would be able to embrace the richness of color that came with it. Some of the flock is close to fledging the nest and I had hoped to enjoy the migration process. Reflecting on our own migration back to our respective homes, I wanted to be like Brad’s mother and mine, busy with my own life and dropping everything to embrace the visits and homecomings. More often than not, we would find Brad’s mother in the garden, happily digging and jumping up to greet us when we popped in, full of soil and hugs. She was the age then that I am now.
In January, my visions of enjoying this approaching season faded. I have always had a “bad” knee, damaged from a skiing accident in my twenties. I know that I have arthritis there, and in my lower back and in my right hand. I have had joint pain from time to time in my adult life, usually from overuse and inflammation that could be identified, isolated and rested into healing. I have had on and off experiences with joint pain that had no specific diagnosis; not Lyme disease, not arthritis. I had been to the “shoulder” doctor and to the “hand” doctor. Bursitis, tendinitis, tennis elbow, etc. I had hip pain years ago that brought me to the “hip” doctor who found nothing structurally wrong and as always, was handed anti-inflammatory medication.
This January, my joints enacted full out mutiny. Knee pain was joined by hip pain, only to be later joined by shoulder pain. I found myself in pain while driving, while sitting at my computer and while sleeping. Having joined the gym in January, I made the reasonable deduction that I simply strained muscles and therefore stopped going to the gym, which did not help my problem. I found myself taking anti-inflammatory medication every four hours, which only took the edge off slightly. I became more and more tired, presumably because I did not get a good night sleep and my disposition had become flat. Things that should have brought me joy made me feel nothing. I was easily agitated and gloomy, presumably because I was in constant pain.
I had not reached my 50th birthday and I had somehow become old. When I stepped out of the car, I needed to stand in place for my hips to acclimate; else I would waddle in my first few painful steps. Walking or changing positions was excruciating. Lying on one hip too long intensified the pain, rolling over to relieve it hurt as much. Like any desperate and neurotic person, I googled my symptoms, arriving at a myriad of possible degenerative diseases. I had a physical in September, the first in a long time and everything was normal. My blood work revealed my cholesterol to the high side of normal for the first time and a low vitamin D level for which I was to add 2,000 IUs per day. I had.
I began to lose hope of comingling with the mulch and weeds in my autumn season and dreaded that I would spend it in a chair full of medication. My hip pain by March had reached a level that had me ready for the orthopedic doctor, willing to accept any solution, even surgery.
One Saturday afternoon, my friend Renee came to retrieve her daughter from a sleep over. As always, Renee looked beautiful and I noticed that she was a bit tan. Asking her why, she told me that she had a vitamin D deficiency and was told to sit out in the sun with arms and legs exposed for short 10 minute intervals when possible. I told her that I, too, had low D and was told to take 2,000 IUs per day. She said that hers had gotten to where she was symptomatic and then she went on to describe my last several months, beginning with knee pain to hips to shoulders, fatigue etc.
She told me that they put her on 5,000 IUs for a month and then bumped her down to 2,000, but that her relief was almost immediate. This gave me some hope that perhaps I had just been delivered my solution.
I immediately doubled my dose to 2,000 at bedtime and 2,000 at noon, knowing I was getting 800 more in my multi and calcium. In three days I was pain free. Nothing hurt in my body. Anywhere! Not one bit! For the first time in months, I am able to hop up from a chair and walk. I began to run errands with pleasure, almost skipping to and from the car. I am sleeping soundly and have energy back and found joy the following weekend dragging bags of mulch to my gardens and crawling around to spread it. For me, this is a miracle. Renee was the angel that brought me back to life and I am spreading the word in case someone out there needs it.
There is much information and research and the daily amounts needed are being reevaluated. My advice is to consult a doctor and to be aware that toxicity can occur from too much D. As a culture, we are protecting ourselves from the sun and are tethered to our technology indoors more than we should be. Those of us in the north are far more at risk for deficiency than our southern friends.
I am anxiously awaiting the sunshine and D-lighted to have my life back.
Wednesday, March 24, 2010
The virus creeps into my bones and I surrender to the couch; unusual for me to give in but I am not up for the battle.
“Mom, I need some help with my homework.” Cadence begins from the blue swivel chair behind me.
“Okay.” I mutter, head deeply embedded in the soft pillow that hugs my throbbing temples. She begins to read a story, not prepping me for the kind of help needed. I pull the blanket up to my chin, assuming that there will be questions to answer at the end of the story and I tune my radar to the details.
“…Deep into the realms of Platipucia, a “forest” lies. Like a Venus Fly Trap, it waits for a victim to swallow up;. A rain forest, so people think, with a hidden, evil world that contains the most horrible, dreadful fairies in the history…
I allow myself to drift into the enchanted, but dangerous forest as the suspense builds.
“…I follow the trail of black magic in the air when I stumble upon a cave. I hear echoing of shouts, almost like the screeching of nails across a chalk board. I hesitate as I take a step into the abyss-like darkness. As I keep walking, I see a light. There at the end of the cave, I see the two phoenixes being led straight toward a wall of fire, shackles around their feet. As I creep closer, I see the evil fairies…
“Um…oh, sorry, I wrote kind of sloppy there. I was in a hurry…” she continues, “My eyes widen at first glance of those evil creatures…”
I lift my throbbing head to look over my shoulder at her long skinny legs dangling over the side of the swivel bucket chair, brown Uggs bouncing up and down. She is holding a composition notebook and for the first time I am aware that the story is hers. I tell her that I honestly thought she was reading a book, not her own writing and compliment her eleven-year-old vocabulary.
“How do you know the word, abyss?” I ask.
“TV.” She answers. “I sort of took some ideas from the movie “Enchanted” and some from the book Falcon and the Carosel of Time. And people say TV doesn’t make you smart!” she challenges.
We talk about what can be drawn from TV and from listening to people and how even more can come from reading, as the examples of writing structure are modeled.
“I really don’t like reading,” she explains, “but I LOVE to write.”
“I think of it like this,” she says, enthusiasm bubbling as she swings her long legs over to the front and sits forward, hands clasped before her.
“Its like I take my brain like a sponge and squeeze it out until everything drips out, all the thoughts and words till it is bloody dry. Then I stir the words all around into ideas. I LOVE words she says,” eyes sparkling and locked on mine. “I love using every metaphor and simile and adjective I can think of taking it right to the rim, but not so it spills over the top. Not so it’s too much but just before that.”
“Someday,” she says with certain understanding, “I want to write an adult book and then, my dream is to have it made into a movie.” Her eyes lift off to one side seeing it on screen.
She is my kindred spirit with a dash of something more. She is me, cranked up with a notch of confidence and determination. I will be the first in line for the book signing and at the movie theater.
Tuesday, March 23, 2010
It’s amazing how time can create physical space that moves the familiar to the foreign; small steps become broad leaps; innocent cracks, deep chasms. Things that once extended our very selves can move so far away that we question our ability to re-connect.
Writing has always been a bodily function for me, a routine part of daily life.
Thoughts stir and swell and blend into words and phrases that land on paper; a process as regular and predictable as the ebb and flow of the tide; rolling in, easing out. Breathing in, breathing out. Thinking in, writing out.
It has been this way for as long as I can remember, but six months ago, I watched my muse wash out with the tide and drift far away. I called to her, searched for her but I could not hear her; could not see her.
A part of me was lost.
Life began erecting structures on the horizon that was once reserved for writing: continuing education classes and deadlines; teenagers and college searches; financial struggles and endless running.
The rhythm of the tide changed; demands in, solutions out.
I surrendered to the new normal, void of thought and voice; functional but empty.
Recently, I caught a glimpse of my muse in the distance. I tried frantically to get her attention. I came to the horizon of my keyboard, but she was too far out; the water cold and deep and too far to swim. I have been longing for her, missing her, but ever so fearful of the waters that churned between us.
Finally, this morning, the waves relaxed and she washed up on shore and I find myself standing with my feet wet to greet her as we tentatively reacquaint.