Monday, September 15, 2014

Work

I miss working as a physician. Not just because of the money, either. I miss interacting with patients, consulting with colleagues, and just getting stuff done. Now that I can’t work outside the home, I particularly enjoy the days when I feel well so that I can get things done at home. Cleaning the kitchen or vacuuming the floor makes me feel incredibly accomplished!

People were made to work! God gave Adam and Eve the job of taking care of the Garden of Eden. It was sin that made working difficult and painful.

People want to work. People on disability want to work. It’s only a very tiny percentage of people who are trying to bilk the government out of money by being lazy and watching TV all day. Most of us (disabled or not) like the feeling of satisfaction you get from doing a good day’s worth of work. Some people don’t like the job they have to do to pay the bills, but they have manage to find their work fulfillment in other ways – through hobbies or ministries.

For the last two and a half weeks, I have been trying to run our yarn shop by myself until our new employee (team member, sales associate, ????) could start. Can I just say that tomorrow is not a moment too soon?!!!!! I have a deep sense of fulfillment from the last two weeks of working, but it’s clear why I’m on disability. I managed to keep the shop open all but two days, but there were several days that I was only able to take care of customers. When the headaches didn’t get me, the muscle pain and fatigue did. Yikes! Not only that, running a yarn shop requires much more than just assisting customers. I figured out how to deposit money, but PWM is still managing the books for the most part. My meds make my head a little too fuzzy to trust to do that regularly.

As of tomorrow, I am the Yarn Diva, but I’m not trying to be a full-time yarn store manager, for which I’m most grateful. Last week, I did some training with our new employee, so she can get going with helping customers immediately. The plan is for her to be able to manage pretty much everything in the shop so that if I have a week-long migraine, things can go along merrily without me. Although I would hope that someone might miss me eventually.

Here’s hoping for a good first week for our new team member!!

Friday, September 12, 2014

7 Quick Takes Friday–9/12/2014

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1. It has been raining for two days around here, so today I went to Fleet Farm and got the light bulbs I needed and have been making sure that we have light bulbs in every light fixture so I can turn every light in the house on in the middle of the day!! I will not be depressed because of darkness!! (Yes, I do take my Vitamin D! Why do you ask?)

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2. So, my body has decided to pull a new trick on me. I am having a recurrent episode of pain and swelling in my right lower leg. The first time it happened, I thought it was superficial thrombophlebitis, which means inflamed blood clot in the superficial veins. Which is painful but not dangerous. But, since my father-in-law died of a pulmonary embolism (blood clot to the lungs which often starts in the deep veins of the legs) and my mother is an ICU nurse, I went to the doctor and had an ultrasound done. Which was negative. That was two weeks ago. The problem came back two days ago and I saw my doctor today who ordered an XRay which was normal so I’m getting an MRI next week sometime. Deep breath. I don’t have a blood clot. Yay.  (BTW, Aren’t the paper shorts they gave me for my leg XRay just adorable???)

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3. Wild Man was telling us last night about working on an American History timeline in American Literature and reading about Europeans giving Native Americans smallpox. I said, “Well, the native Americans probably gave the Europeans syphilis.” PWM said, “Yeah, real fair trade.” Wild Man said, “European and Native Americans never had fair trade!” Then stopped and said, “Boom! See, I do remember my American History!!” Yes, we’ve managed to raise a somewhat educated child.

4. Sophie, Rosie Girl’s cat, is lonely. She always gets a bit lonely when Rosie Girl goes back to school, but this time it’s worse. Not only did Rosie Girl go back to UWSP, but now PWM is teaching, so he’s gone all day every day and Wild Man is in school, so he’s gone all day every day. It’s just me and Sophie, and if it’s busy in the shop or if I have a migraine, poor Sophie is all alone.

5. To try to help Sophie entertain herself, I got her this cool little tube that has crinkly plastic inside which Sophie should love since she keeps trying to eat plastic. So far, her response has been “meh”.

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6. I hired an employee last week! Ack! That feels so . . . . grown-up. Yes, I know I’m 47 and that I’m well past grown-up, but there’s still a part of me that doesn’t believe it. But, with PWM working now, I can’t run the shop on my own, so I hired a wonderful woman who is a great knitter to work 24 hours a week so we won’t have to close when I have a migraine. Not only that, but she has great ideas and seems organized and able to implement them. I’m excited!

7. One of the downsides to sending Wild Man to school is that I don’t get to see him very often. He’s working two jobs, going to school, in band and choir, in a community choir, and a church worship leader. He was finally home for a few hours last night without homework to do, so he agreed to play Yahtzee with me. I lost terribly, but I didn’t care.

What’s going on with you??  Check out 7 Quick Takes Friday at Conversion Diary to see what others are up to these days!!

What’s Been Going On?

Where have I been for the month? How could I have neglected my poor blog so badly? This time, it has not been migraines! We have had a full-blown turn-our-lives-upside-down couple of weeks!! Let me explain.

As I’ve previously written, we decided to send Wild Man to the local high school this year. We live in a small town of about 2000 people, so the school is also small. About three weeks ago now, the school superintendent came over and met with PWM and asked if he would please come and teach math for at least a semester because their new math teacher for this year had just quit (they have three high school math teachers). PWM had an initial educator’s license about 5 years ago, but his only classroom experience besides his education classes was a long-term sub position. Otherwise, he’s been a math tutor. So, we talked and prayed about it. And PWM said yes. With classes starting the next week.

As of two weeks ago, Wild Man and PWM are up early every morning to go to the high school. PWM is teaching precalculus, AP calculus, 6th grade study skills, and a middle school remedial math program. It’s been a rough three weeks with very little sleep, lots of administrative work, lesson planning, and math review of his own, but it looks like it’s going to work out. PWM is a naturally good teacher and he loves kids of all ages. If he’s going to work full-time at something, this is where it should be. I really think he can make a difference in kids’ lives.

There are some tangible benefits to his teaching, too. He gets paid. Yay! But, he also gets medical, dental, and vision insurance. We’ve had medical insurance, but the dental and vision insurance is new since I quit work. I’m thrilled about that!

There are some other challenges. I can’t take care of the shop on my own. The last three weeks have been just crazy. I’ve only had one day that I had to close because of a migraine, but I’ve had several others in which I just didn’t feel well. And I closed early for a doctor’s appointment. We hired an employee for 24 hours per week, which will keep the shop running when PWM’s not here. Actually, I’m quite optimistic about the woman we hired. She’s a knitter and seems to be a hard worker with great ideas. She starts on Tuesday!!

Wild Man is not thrilled about school, but he is doing pretty well. He is keeping up with his homework, but the homework is what is making school unpleasant for him. He reads and works slowly because of his dyslexia, so he tends to take longer than most other students on his assignments. That being said, he seems to understand and do his work well so far.

Wild Man is also in a singing group in the Fox Valley that is made up of adults but also invites select students from area schools to participate. They had their “retreat” last Sunday and will practice for the next several weeks before their concert.

Of course, Wild Man is working and in band and choir. The one thing I don’t like about his being in school is that he’s gone so much. Last night he was home for a couple of hours after work and before bed, so he agreed to play Yahtzee with me. I lost terribly, but I didn’t care. I was glad to spend time with my son. That’s one of the things I miss about homeschooling.

Things will start calming down soon, I’m sure. PWM is catching up on sleep and lesson planning as well as getting more comfortable in his classroom and with his kids. Wild Man is figuring out the whole school thing. Our new employee starts next week (freeing me up tremendously). We’ll all be able to catch our breaths again. I hope.

So, what’s going on in your world?

Sunday, August 17, 2014

Lagniappe–August 17, 2014

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It’s been a busy week around here. I never even got around to doing my 7 Quick Takes Friday. Well, I guess today’s Lagniappe will have to do. (I also have a movie reviews post in the wings, but it will be another day or two before it gets done.)

1. Monday through Friday were low-headache days!! Yay! The weather was calm and so was my head. I totally loved it.

2. Wild Man had a dental appointment on Monday and was found to have 6 cavities. Yep, 6!! Apparently, they’re from drinking so much soda. We’ve really loosened up our lifestyle over the summer, so we’re tightening things back up and keeping a closer eye on Wild Man’s diet and tooth brushing.

3. Wild Man told me when we got home, “Don’t make a big deal about the six cavities to Dad.” So, when PWM came up from the basement, I said, “I’m not supposed to make a big deal to you about the fact that Wild Man has six cavities.” PWM said, “Really. OK, I’ll make the big deal, then.”

4. I had two cavities filled on Tuesday. I love my dentist. He made sure to numb up the whole lower side of my face so I didn’t feel a thing. I couldn’t eat for several hours, but it was completely worth it.

5. On Wednesday, I did a cooking-palooza! We get veggies from a CSA, but it’s sometime hard to eat all of them if I don’t feel like cooking (which I haven’t lately). So, on Wednesday, I cooked. I made Roasted Onion and Garlic soup with a bunch of the onions and garlic. I made Beet Brownies with two pureed beets, although they did not cook as quickly as I’m used to beets cooking, so there were some little bits of beets in the brownies. We couldn’t taste them, though. I used a very large zucchini to make Double Chocolate Zucchini Bread which froze very well.  While I was at it, I also made some French Bread in the bread machine, which was my first time using the bread machine. And, before I was done, I made sure to clean up the kitchen. Yippee!!

6. Yes, I did start getting a migraine on Saturday, but it wasn’t terrible. The bad thing was that I had insomnia and the headache last night so I didn’t get out of bed today until noon, but my headache is still there. I should have just gotten out of bed.

7. While I have a migraine, I have decided to rearrange the living room. Great timing, huh? Actually, I have developed the plan, that we’ll carry out when the migraine is better. I want to do it while I still have the kids to help.

How has your week been? Do you have anything of great depth or insight to share? No? How about a cat story?

Wednesday, August 13, 2014

A Normal Day!

So, what did I do today? Well, I didn’t have a migraine (at least as of now – 7:41pm). I got up at about 8am. I spent some time on the computer, did some reading. I had breakfast. It was a slow morning. Let’s call it leisurely.

At about noon, I started my cooking odyssey. We’ve gotten a lot of veggies from our CSA, but haven’t had a lot of time to cook them, so we needed to do something to use some of them up. I made Roasted Onion-Garlic soup, Beet Brownies (brownies with pureed beets hidden in the batter), French Bread (in the bread maker), Double Chocolate Zucchini Bread, and Meatballs. And then I cleaned up.

Sounds like a normal day, right? Not for me. I’m lucky to be able to cook dinner most days. Well, I don’t cook dinner most days. By late afternoon, I’m either too tired or too headache-y to do much. The crock pot is my friend.

What was different about today? I have no idea. But, I’ll take it. This may be my one good day for the next couple of weeks or the next month. That’s OK.

I was normal. Even if just for one day.

Thank you, Jesus, for normal.

Tuesday, August 12, 2014

Robin Williams, Suicide, Depression, and Migraines

Yesterday, we lost an amazing actor and comedian and, by all accounts, a wonderful man. He had an often fatal disease called depression. And one of the worst complications of depression is suicide.

I have depression. Thank God, I’ve never been suicidal. I can’t attribute that to anything I’ve done. It is purely that the course of my illness has never been that severe. But, I’ve had days where it took every bit of energy to get out of bed. I can’t imagine what it’s like to have darkness so bad that you are willing to end your life.

One of the worst things about depression is how it takes over my life when it flares up. Everything becomes about how bad I feel. Instead of thinking about how great it would be to take a walk with a friend, my brain tells me how tired and miserable I am and how a walk would be a terrible idea. Every fun thing in the world seems like more work than it’s worth.

People sometimes say that suicide is selfish, that a person who commits suicide is thinking only of themselves. Well, they are. But, that’s the illness. A person with depression can’t imagine that anyone else would want them around anymore. When I’m down in the black hole of depression, I don’t feel loved and wanted, no matter what people say. Depression is more than sadness. The illness consumes me. And I’ve never even been sick enough to consider suicide. It must be a million times worse for someone who will take their own life.

Migraines and chronic pain are the same way. I don’t want to be a hermit when I have a migraine, but I am. Pain takes over every part of my being. And it’s usually accompanied by nausea, sound sensitivity, and other symptoms. Even when it’s just head pain, it still takes over my consciousness and doesn’t allow me to function. That’s part of how pain works. When the body works properly, pain is supposed to tell you that something is wrong so you can fix it. In chronic pain, the signals are not working correctly, so you get all discombobulated. Pain demands to be heard. All. The. Time.

Some Christians are hesitant to use medications for depression because they think depression is just a bad bout of sadness or it is purely “spiritual”. Sometimes, sadness is normal and just needs some time, particularly if it is a normal grief reaction after a death or significant social or emotional change.

But, true depression is a physical illness caused by messed up neurotransmitters in certain parts of the brain. Sometimes, depression is part of other illnesses, like bipolar illness or schizophrenia. In any case, medical intervention is necessary. In mild cases, counseling alone may be effective, but in more serious cases, medications along with counseling and lifestyle changes will be needed.

But, is God really OK with us using medications to treat mood disorders? I sure hope God’s OK with me using medications to treat my headaches! And my mood disorder (depression) goes right along with the headaches. In fact depression is a “tag-along” illness with many diseases, including migraine, fibromyalgia, and even things like after open heart surgery. God gave us the ability to diagnose and treat lots of illnesses, including illnesses of the brain. I assume he wants us to use these abilities!

Where does God fit into the depression thing, though? I believe God does want us to feel better. I’m sure that he sometimes supernaturally heals people, but most of the time, he works through the laws of nature. We get better through medications and counseling. Depression is treated by medical professionals like diabetes or hypertension.

In my walk with Jesus, I know that my depression affects my spiritual life, just like it affects the rest of my life. When I’m really depressed it’s hard to pray. But, it’s also hard to talk to my husband and kids. I have found, though, that there are certain passages of the Bible that are particularly helpful for me to read and meditate on when my mood is low. My prayer and meditation time are very important to me as part of my depression treatment. Worshiping Jesus is part of my life. I know that he wants me to be emotionally healthy, so I try to keep to practices that I know are good for me.

And, I would be completely remiss if I didn’t tell you that if you are depressed, you don’t have to live this way! Get help! Tell a friend, call a help line, go to an Emergency Department! Suicide is not the answer, but neither is feeling rotten all the time. Medications can really help you feel much better and live a better life. And check out your local church. Jesus wants to help you, too.

What are your thoughts?

 

R.I.P.. Robin Williams

Friday, August 08, 2014

7 Quick Takes Friday–August 8, 2014

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1. We took family pictures on Wednesday!! For the first time in at least 8 years! We kept putting off scheduling them because of my headaches, but we finally just put the date on the calendar and hoped for the best. Yes, I was on Maxalt when we took them, but the two that the photographer put on Facebook so far look really great!

2. Rosie Girl left home yesterday afternoon with her usual light brown hair. When she comes home tonight after spending the night at a friend’s house (and going to the tap dance festival in Stevens Point), she’ll have orange-ish red hair. Yep, they’re doing henna! I guess it will calm down to red over the course of a week or so. I can’t wait to see it.

3. I’ve been freaking out a bit about the whole school supplies thing. I’ve never had to buy stuff for a kid to go to public school before. Does he need notebooks or binders? Folders? How many pencils or pens? Guess what? They put that info on the school website, even for juniors in high school!! My stress level is way down.

4. My headache level is NOT down, however. Bummer. I had a long migraine last week that I think was triggered by a dental cleaning. Next week, I have to have a cavity redone. I’m making Wild Man drive me so I can take my muscle relaxers beforehand. I don’t have much to blame this week’s headaches on, though.

5. My counselor has encouraged me to do one thing I enjoy every day to help with my depression. Yesterday, I had a milkshake and then drove home the back way which is more wooded and less commercial and, mostly, less familiar. Central Wisconsin is gorgeous in the summer!!

6. Wild Man now has three jobs! He started as a cook’s assistant at a local restaurant. Right now, he only works once a week or so. And, on busy nights, he just washes dishes. But, it will be good for him when school starts and his job and the laundromat finishes, but he still needs gas money!

7. I finally got Something Other than God from the library!! Yes, I know I’ll be the last one of this blog’s readers to read the book, but, better late than never, right? Winking smile

So, what’s up with you these days? Check out Conversion Diary for more 7 Quick Takes Friday!!!

To Survive or To Thrive

 

John 10:10 “I have come that they may have life, and have it to the full.” NIV

John 10:10 “I am come that they might have life, and that they might have it more abundantly.” KJV

I’ve been feeling like I’m just surviving these days. Even now that the depression is starting to lift, I’m still just “getting by” most days. I read a blog post (but I can’t remember where – sorry) about thriving as Christians. It was really inspiring, but when I finished reading, I just thought about how sad and depressing my life is.

Jesus was very clear that He came not just to save our souls, but give us “abundant life” and to bring the Kingdom of Heaven to earth. I don’t think he intended for any of us to mope around here waiting for the day of our death. Our life is important, if for no other reason than to be part of God’s kingdom here on earth.

Paul wrote in Philippians about how he didn’t know whether he’d rather be in heaven or earth, but then concluded that he could be joyful and content in any circumstances here on earth because of faith in Christ.

So, yeah. I’m having a hard time with that right now. Chronic pain takes over everything in my life, it feels like. What I can do each day is determined by how much my head hurts and how bad the nausea and other symptoms are.

I know that some days, all I can do is survive. I’m not able to do much more. But, overall, I’d like to thrive. I’d like to feel like I’m making an impact in this world, even if it’s small. Maybe just getting up and getting dressed is enough. Maybe working in the shop once or twice a week. Maybe occasionally blogging.

What do you think? How do you do more than get from one day to another?

Saturday, August 02, 2014

Is God Angry with Liberia?

It appears that some of the clergy in Liberia think so. I disagree. At least as far as God is angry with anyone. The clergy who made this statement believe that God is angry with Liberia for the sin that the those in the country have committed and allowed to be committed, so God is permitting the Ebola virus “plague” to spread throughout the country.

God can certainly judge cities and nations as He did in the Old Testament. He is, after all, God. But, in the Old Testament, He made it very clear to a city or country that He was judging them before He wiped them out or allowed them to be conquered (i.e. Sodom and Gomorrah). In more recent times, natural disasters haven’t been accompanied by clear warnings or words from God. And this Ebola catastrophe doesn’t appear to be an obvious judgment since it covers multiple countries and is affecting people of all ages, races, occupations, etc.

A few years ago, a tsunami occurred that was devastating to Indonesia and other countries.  Was this God’s anger for something that Indonesia did? In the 19th century, the volcano Krakatoa erupted and killed many people. What about the Lisbon earthquake? And we can’t forget the HIV/AIDS epidemic.

We live in a world that God created with these natural forces that sometimes cause upheaval for the humans that He also created. Ebola virus lives naturally in fruit bats without too much fuss. Every once in a while, it will get into a human and cause a small epidemic. But, now that humans don’t always live in villages, Ebola is able to spread farther and cause more havoc.

Why does God allow these things to happen to us? I ask that a lot. Why does God allow me to have chronic pain? If God is so good, why do natural disasters happen? Why is there cancer? Why can’t we all live to a ripe old age and die quietly in our sleep? (Of course, if that was the case, my medical career would never have been needed.)

I have no idea. And the Bible is not clear. The book of Job is a whole book asking this question with a couple of chapters with God answering “Because I’m God”. Jesus talks about the rain falling on the just and the unjust. God is God. And He’s big enough that we don’t always understand Him.

The question of a good God allowing bad and evil is the one thing that shakes my faith sometimes. I don’t understand why God allows what He allows. But, if I could understand Him, would He be God? No. God is bigger than I am. In every way. And, in my experience, obeying God and walking with Jesus has worked out, so I’m sticking with Him.

No, I don’t think God is angry with Liberia. I believe Liberia is experiencing a natural disaster which is pretty miserable. I agree with the three days of prayer and fasting. I believe that God answers prayer. And the rest of us should also pray for Liberia and the rest of Africa affected by Ebola.

What are your thoughts?