Religious Objections — Not Just for the Christians Anymore

(Polished and updated (and okay, added to) comments posted on “A is For” and “Your Nightly Need to Know”)

Concerning the Oklahoma rape victim and the denial of emergency contraception due to staff’s “religious objections” — this isn’t just about contraception, folks.

Fifteen years ago, I worked as a nurse’s aide for the geriatric population. On duty one night, a resident kept calling me to complain about various symptoms. I knew that she had not been getting all of her pills because one of the day nurses had told us that she didn’t believe in giving narcotics “for religious reasons”.  I went to the night nurse I was working with and using the desk reference book, pointed out that all of the resident’s symptoms were those of morphine withdrawal, consistent with not getting that pill.

The nurse checked the chart and asked me why it had been allowed to run out and not given as prescribed. I explained the reason and once she got over her shock and anger, she called to get an emergency fill of the prescription.  The minute it arrived, she gave it to the resident–who had been on that medication for over 10 years. You don’t just let someone on narcotics quit cold turkey–and a nurse has no business overriding a doctor’s orders, not even for “religious objections”. If your religion won’t let you do your job, find a new one. (Job, not religion)

The point I’m making here is if contraception can be withheld for religious reasons, what happens if you need a narcotic and your nurse doesn’t think you should have it because it’s against her religion? Or you need a blood transfusion and the doctor doesn’t believe in it?  Where does the line end?  As my husband is fond of saying, take this to its illogical logical end.  We can go back to having babies “the old fashioned way”–no medications, no interventions, only you and the midwife and if you (and the baby) end up dying, oh well, it was God’s plan.  No organ transplants, no internal prostheses (knees, hips, shoulders, etc), no plastic surgery of any kind because that’s just vanity.  The list goes on.

Men, this absolutely involves you as well.  If religion is going to dictate our contraceptive choices, removal of testes for cancer won’t be allowed because that’s (by definition) a form of contraception. Vasectomies? A thing of the past in our glorious New World Order.  Never mind the instances mentioned above which can apply to the males of the nation as well.

Your right to swing your fist ends where my nose begins, the saying goes. I absolutely protect your right to practice any religion you choose–but NOT if it infringes on my right to practice my religion, make medical choices, affects my job and so on. There is an inherent arrogance in the idea that “religious objections” give you the right to choose for me, that your faith somehow imbues you with the knowledge of what is right for me–whether I want it or not.

Let’s expand the concept of “religious objections”.  What if my religion forbids eating beef?  (Hindu)  And suppose I buy a McDonald’s franchise–but only serve chicken products?  And McDonald’s Corporate tries to revoke my franchise license–so I sue.  And to be just, I would win, because it is my religion and my religious objections that let me decide for others.  Let’s say my religion doesn’t allow me to eat pork.  (Jews) I own a food distributorship (like “Schwans”) but refuse to deliver any pig products.  Again, the corporate head office will eventually get involved but also once again, I would sue and win.  What if my religion requires women to cover their heads when outside of the home?  (Muslim)  I own a store in downtown Hometown but refuse admittance to any female who has not modestly covered her hair.  When the local government tries to make me allow anyone in my store, I point to my religious objections and continue to turn away those foul harlots.

I make these examples which might seem unlikely to point out this concern: If the Christian Right wants to hide behind their “religious objections” and use their faith as a reason to override the laws of this land, they need to be aware–and beware–that this will open the door to ALL religions and their own individual “religious objections”.  Our Founding Fathers were very vocal about the separation of church and state and for very good reason.  If there is not that distinct and clear division, whose religion gets to be the religion of the nation?  I hate to be the bearer of an unpleasant fact, but America is NOT a Christian nation.  There are many, many other religions represented in our land, brought from other countries as the people immigrated to a new life here.

The original settlers left “the old country” because of their wish to practice their own religion without interference from the government or the accepted national religion of that country.  We seem to have forgotten that, especially those who are the fundamental Christian Right.  The complaint that there is now some sort of “war” on this extremist group of rabid believers is a childish whining that they aren’t getting their own way.  Anyone who refuses to go along with them must of course be trying to eradicate them–which is pure horse feathers.  Oddly enough, we are still trying to protect their religious rights while preventing them from turning our democracy into a theocracy of their own choosing.

As far as I am concerned, this is not just about “religious objections” but the far more insidious concept that someone with “religious objections” is in a  superior position over anyone else and that this (apparently) gives them the right to deny basic human rights to those who do not agree with them. It’s a condescending attitude, the sheer arrogance of knowing that they are “right”, which then allows them to make decisions for others who are not as “religious” as they are.  There is this idea that having “religious objections” somehow exempts you from the laws of this land, places you above secular authority whenever you want to wave that religious banner.  Even Jesus instructed his followers to “render unto Caesar that which is Caesar’s” and he himself bowed to the secular government, allowing and accepting both trial and execution by civil law.

This ongoing string of “religious objections” to contraception and female reproductive choices, this war on women is an opening ploy into a Christian theocracy, where other religions could be forbidden and church attendance made mandatory–but only to the church of their choice.  George Orwell’s Big Brother would have nothing on a theocracy’s involvement in each citizen’s life–and making decisions for each of those citizens based on “religious objections”.  This is about the loss of equality, the complete disregard of our basic human rights and the total destruction of freedom for ALL to live their lives based on personal moral choices without exception.

I have “religious objections” to that kind of America.  It’s not the country Thomas Jefferson wrote about in our Constitution, it’s not the country Ben Franklin envisioned when the split from England was being debated in the Continental Congress.  This is not what the suffragettes fought for, what the civil rights movement was all about, what the Fair Pay Act is trying to achieve.  That kind of America is not the land that I love–and served in the military to protect.  And I will still uphold that enlistment oath–“to protect the Constitution…against all enemies, abroad and at home”.  I consider the GOP, especially their extreme Tea Bag Party, to be enemies of the state with their “religious objections” and their war on everything that this country is about.

It’s time to acknowledge that there is a war, to arm yourself with information, be aware of what is going on in our nation and most importantly, register to vote (if you haven’t) and in November, go to the polls and VOTE to protect America from those who would destroy her.

Namaste!

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From “A is For” and their “Your Nightly Need to Know”

The top story line was this:
An Oklahoma rape victim was refused emergency contraception by hospital staff due to “religious objections”. (News 9)

This is the comment I posted:

Concerning the OK rape victim and “religious objections” — this isn’t just about contraception, folks. 15 years ago, I worked as a nurse’s aide for the geriatric population. On duty one night, a resident kept calling me to complain about various symptoms. I knew that she had not been getting one of her medications because one of the day nurses had religious objections to giving narcotics. I went to the night nurse I was working with, and using the desk reference book, pointed out that all of the resident’s symptoms were those of morphine withdrawal, consistent with the removal of her meds. The nurse checked the chart and asked me why that pill had not been ordered when it ran out or given as prescribed. Once I explained the reason, she called and got an emergency prescription of the med and gave it to the resident–who had been on that medication for over 10 years. You don’t just cold turkey someone on that kind of medication–and a nurse has no business overriding a doctor’s orders, not even for “religious objections”. If your religion won’t let you do your job, find a new one. (Job, not religion)

The point I’m making here is if contraception can be withheld for religious reasons, what happens if you need a narcotic and your nurse doesn’t think you should have it because it’s against her religion? Or you need a blood transfusion and the doctor doesn’t believe in it? Men, this involves you as well. If religion is going to dictate our medical choices, removal of testes for cancer won’t be allowed because that’s (by definition) a form of contraception. Vasectomies? A thing of the past in our glorious New World Order.
Your right to swing your fist ends where my nose begins, the saying goes. I absolutely protect your right to practice any religion you choose–but NOT if it infringes on my right to practice my religion, make medical choices, affects my job and so on. There is an inherent arrogance in the idea that “religious objections” give you the right to choose for me, that your faith somehow imbues you with the knowledge of what is right for me–whether I want it or not. As far as I am concerned, this is not just about “religious objections” but the far more insidious concept that anyone with a religious objection is somehow more superior than anyone else which gives them the right to deny those who do not agree with them to the basic human rights. It’s about equality, the completely equal rights and the total freedom for ALL to live their lives based on personal moral choices without exception.
I have “religious objections” to anything else.

Making a Difference

So things have happened since we last talked.

I saw my physician and he has changed my meds up a little.  Increased the Cymbalta and instead of Xanax, I am now on Klonipine.  Been taking them for 4 days and there is an appreciable difference already.  The pain is decreasing to very bearable limits, only coming back as I tire.  He also diagnosed plantar fasciitis.  Basically the fat pad on the heel thins and spreads out as we get older…and it becomes painful.  Heel cups (with gel soles) are a godsend.  Walking (foot) pain-free for the first time in months.  Means I need to find a pair of shoes to wear only in the house as I have gone bare foot a lot more than I wear shoes…and slippers will not support sufficiently.

The Cymbalta does take time to build up, but in only 4 days I have already had a serious improvement in my mood.  (Since it’s used to fight depression.)  I feel better than I have….well, since I can remember.  At least a year and maybe longer.  I have also made the conscious choice to stop letting the negativity overwhelm me.  Yes, we’re in a bad spot financially.  Yes, we’re both ill but we are getting better.  Yes, we are both being recommended to try for SSDI (Social Security Disability) so yes, we are both considered to be prime candidates for permanent disability (not something you really want to win.)  But I had made the mistake of looking beyond this moment and fearing what I perceived as being possible.

I should have known better and I am ashamed to realize that I let go of all I had learned over the past 10 years so easily.  I fought this battle before and won it but apparently the victory was not as enduring as I had thought.  I identify as a Tibetan Zen Buddhist.  Zen.  You know, the Zen moment.  This moment, now.  This moment, right here.  That’s all we can be sure of.  It is what we are experiencing and can identify, acknowledge and know is true.  It’s the only thing we can know is true with absolute surety–which is why part of my spiritual practice is to constantly verify my truths.  And I somehow forgot this.  I allowed past conceptions and future anticipations to overshadow the reality of this moment, this now.  In so doing, I missed the now–the fact that I am getting better, slowly–but better.  Better than I have been for a long time, which is a major accomplishment.

I recognize the human fact that I may very well have to keep on fighting this battle and I am grateful for the help the right meds, in the right doses, are giving me.  Depression creates its own chemical template in your mind and you actually need the antidepressant medications to help reset the brain to its normal, not depressed state.  Force of will is not sufficient and there is no embarrassment in asking for that help if you need it.  (As an aside: this is true of all mental diseases; they are chemical insufficiency or excess and medications are needed to regulate them and help the person so afflicted live a more normal life.  JUST LIKE a diabetic needs insulin or a hypertensive person needs high blood pressure medicine.  No shame, no need to hide it or lie about it.)

Today was the first day that I really felt good for ever so long.  We got up early and went to the chiropractor to get folded, spindled and otherwise mutilated.  Picked up our mail from the post box and had a bite to eat at Roy Rogers.  Decent breakfast at a cheap price.  Then off to the bank to deposit our sole form of income, my short term disability check…sigh.  Then we drove up to Chantilly to go to the Korean supermarket and get our hair cut.  Yes, that’s what I said.  It’s called Lotte Plaza and it really is a supermarket.  You can also get siding for your house, clothes, a massage, jewelry and get a hair cut–or color, perm and so on.  Both the beloved and I had our hairs cut and we look a little less shaggy which also helps with feeling better generally.

Then shopping…getting perishables, meat and some specific items not available anywhere else.  We love to shop there because they have the best selection of the specialty items we use in ethnic cooking.  I am learning how to do Punjabi (think Indian, but from the area near Pakistan, so it’s a “dialect” of Indian food) and we get all the (wonderful!) spices like Garam Masala, green cardomom, cumin seed and such there.  We also get shrimp–$6 per pound, 25-30 count.  (Heads off because you can buy WHOLE shrimp there if you choose.  I do not.)  They also carry Halal beef–if you cannot find or will not spend the money on pastured/grass-fed (and finished) beef, Halal is another option.  The animal is tended and butchered according to the Jewish/Muslim law; it’s much more humane, the animal is essentially thanked for the sacrifice of its life before it is thoughtfully and carefully killed.  The meat is handled a little differently–and it is my understanding that the quality of life for these animals is also more like grass fed (and may actually be)…so the meat is very flavorful.  And at Lotte, it is not expensive.  We also got ground pork, $3/pound and some nice little pork short ribs (also $3/pound) that I am going to cut into their individual parts and marinate in a Chinese style sauce before broiling them.  (We don’t have a grill or I would sacrifice them to the BBQ gods.)

Then it was time to head home, which was good because it’s been such a busy week and the day was long and busy on top of that, so I was tiring out.  But I still feel good emotionally.  My body is TIRED, not wrung out or feeling beat up.  The pain levels are a little up from where they were this morning (when I could actually “sink the chi” –start with your hands at your sides and then lift them up in an arc over your head, then lower your hands straight down in front of you — which has been so painful for me for so long I am surprised I remembered how to do it) but not unbearable.  A single Vicodin will deal with that and in a while, I will go off to bed with the nighttime meds and sleep.

Our friend is coming over tomorrow with his new dog so it will be another day of activity–and of a pleasant sort, which always makes things go well.

The clouds are rolling away and the sky is clearing up to show me the majesty of the sunset and the mystery of the stars in the black inky darkness, followed by the sunrise and the glorious blueness of a clear day.

Or as James Brown would have sung, “I feel GOOD….I knew that I would…I FEEEEL GOOD!”.

Namaste!

Peeking Through the Clouds

Hello there, it’s me again.  Trying really hard to banish the dark clouds of fear, anger, pain and doubts.  So let’s see how things are today.  I have pain, no new thing that.  I have, however, gotten some stuff accomplished even with the aches.  We are re-arranging the kitchen into a more realistic placement of the things we use and where we store the food.

Which involves a lot of “move this on the counter, move those things into the newly emptied cupboard, move that over there and get those things from the counter and put them into this cabinet”.  Basically, almost everything in the kitchen is moving somewhere else.  But when we’re done…well, the pantry will be in cupboards next to the refrigerator so that when bring home the groceries, either of us can sit in a chair and turn left or right to put cold items or non-perishables in their proper place.  The (new) pantry has very deep shelves, so it will be a challenge to place things and not lose them in the back behind.  We’ll have a couple of large plastic bins that will slide out on the bottom-most shelf to hold categorized items–one for all my baking supplies, the other for pasta and rice or pasta and sauces….or maybe just all the canned goods.  Eventually, we’re talking about racks for the canned goods and shelves or drawers that can be assembled to screw into the cabinet and provide better accessibility (slide-out) for all those small(er) items.

We’ve acknowledged that while we love our china set (it’s the pattern/shape I had wanted for years!), it’s stoneware and heavy as hell.  I cannot lift more than two of the dinner plates (empty) at a time.  So that is now over in a cabinet where it is accessible, but not in the first line of reach-ability.  We have more Rubbermaid Premier storage containers than God…and we use them for a wide variety of things, including eating out of the ones that are compartmentalized plates that happen to take a lid for storage.  Those are now in (dinnerware) cabinets at eye level, easily gotten and easily used.

Where to put the glasses is the biggest challenge and we will be putting each glass through a test of “do we use this at all” and “do we want to keep it”.  I suspect a fair amount of drinkware is going to the thrift store.  (And BTW, we took three boxes of stuff there yesterday, so I am actually getting things weeded out and taken out of the house.  Yay me!)  We can put the glasses we want to keep but don’t use often in a different place than the ones we use daily.  Coffee cups will also have this same scrutiny and decision-making test because we’ve got a buttload of them.  (And coffee cups will probably end up out in the living room, in the same cabinet that the Keurig coffee maker will be living in, along with the coffee, sweeteners and such.  Keep all the stuff together for what you’re doing and it makes life easier.

The end result should be items in places that we can grab what we use often easily and stuff we don’t use as often on top shelves and alternate storage areas–for example, I’ve been using a 12 by 12 stack of open shelves for a pantry, in the same little room as the laundry and hot water heater.  It is a bitch to get food out of there.  All that food is going where the glasses are living now…so I’ll have these shelves to use as auxiliary storage for all the big mixing bowls, the roasting pans (and large stock pots) and other large items that are taking up space I can use for things I actually need daily.

We want to organize the spices into “the ones we use *daily*/often” and “the ones we use for specific recipes/ethnic cooking”, which is a better way to have them and then find appropriate storage places for each type.  We want to put all the related stuff to the Vitamix blender (www.vitamix.com, look it up!) near where the blender lives, so that means rearranging those shelves a bit.  There’s three canisters with tops and the cookbook, as well as the thingy that we use to push food down into the blades as it’s running…don’t know quite what to call it but it looks, um, well sort of obscene.  It’s cylindrical, with a hilt and a handle so that it never touches the blades and it helps get all the food blended.  All I know is, when the blender (and all) arrived in its box and my husband pulled that particular part out, he informed me that it was never to leave the kitchen.  (It couldn’t go into the bedroom.  Just saying.)

The nice part about this entire process is that it was my husband’s idea so he’s willing to put effort into it (not a solo project) and that it can be done in stages, so there’s opportunities to rest and take a break all along the way.  It is a large undertaking but not overwhelming and the grand finale will be a kitchen that is…handicapped friendly, accommodates my limitations and actually set up for the way our life really is.

If I can do this with my kitchen, can I do it with the rest of the areas of my life?  Maybe.  It does offer a break in the doom and gloom clouds I’m fighting.  By moving things around even with the pain (because I can take a break and rest when I need to)…I gain a sense of accomplishment, the idea that I am not completely broken and no longer able to do anything at all.  Even a little victory is still a victory.  And I need all of them that I can get.

Like I posted on my Facebook page, “Upsetting the World View“: “There are times when it seems so dark all around you, that there is no reason to go on. I understand this and live with it. So I tell you: there is ALWAYS a spark of hope. You must look for it and you must keep breathing so that you can blow on that spark, have it ignite the tinder and then the logs that will create a bright, roaring fire to light up your darkness. If there is no breath, the spark cannot make that fire. If you cannot find your spark, you must ask those around you if they see it and ask for their help to guide you to it. Never give up, never stop seeking that spark even in your darkest, blackest times because if you give up, the darkness wins. And the darkness…is an illusion. Keep breathing. Any day you wake up breathing is a good day.”

I am looking for my spark, or the next spark, to keep making the fires to light up my darkness.  And I keep breathing.  You do the same.

Namaste!

Really Planning for the Future

Today was somewhat better than yesterday.  Pain levels are about (the new) norm and I do feel better than I did.

Thank the gods for a husband who talks to me, who actually communicates!  We had a long talk this morning and he basically called bullshit on my current health status.  He has made a point of specifically mentioning the ways in which I am improving–or not.  He said flat out that I had given up.  I cannot see an end to this current state of being and I don’t want to be disabled.  I have stopped cooking on anything resembling a regular basis and our eating habits are dreadful.  I’m putting weight on again and that’s just not acceptable to me.  But I can’t exercise…so I’m caught in this cycle of eating bad, gaining weight and etc.

He has also told me to my face that I am clinically depressed.  He should know, he’s skirted the issue himself and when I explained that I was having a really hard time handling the situation, he fussed at me for not saying anything.  Which is why I am here, trying to explain how things are for me without whining. This really is meant to be a “for your information”–while I try to be upbeat and positive about my life, there are things going on that definitely are not cheerful.  So from a clinical standpoint: I am angry.  I am totally pissed that I have fibromyalgia.  Totally pissed that it was not diagnosed when it first began, which I believe was in high school–even as I acknowledge that it would NOT have been diagnosed as such back then (late 1970’s).  Totally pissed that all the accommodations I made over the years are no longer sufficient for my life now.  Totally pissed that I cannot do the things I enjoy, let alone the things I must, such as household chores and showering.  Oh yes, taking a shower–used to be a 20 minute event and now takes at least 30 minutes to wash the same way I always have because I have to be careful and slow or it hurts too much.

I am terrified that I will never regain the level of ability I had just 2 years ago, that I am really ….  you know … DISABLED.  That I must make continually updating accommodations depending on my levels of pain and energy.  That I might need a wheelchair or other special equipment for the handicapped.  That I will have to let go of some of my hobbies because I can no longer do them.  That I will never hold another job because (at least right now) I cannot do anything for 8 hours straight; I need to work a little, rest a little and repeat as needed.

Never having another job leads me to another source of stress: money, or the lack thereof.  If I go on permanent disability (SSDI), it means a limited income the rest of my life.  No way to make overtime or bonuses, a severe limitation on spending without careful planning.  No casual spending, no impulse buying of things that cost more than $5.  It quite possibly means food stamps and other social services.  Which I would be very grateful for, but the hoops that are required to get those services…I’m not up to jumping through them.  Yet.

Which is yet one more stress-inducing concern: it is my plan to thoroughly consult with my physician and get his medical opinion of just how fast I am really going to heal and be back up to speed.  I will get his input on what is our tentative plan of action: to retain the services of a lawyer and begin the process for SSDI.  My health has been an all-consuming issue for the past 8 months.  I have been out of work 5 1/2 of those months.  I have not had a paycheck since the end of February.  And if you read my prior blogs, you will know that I am also no longer employed so I don’t even have a job to return to.  A job at this point means the whole bitter process of finding a job opening, applying for it, interviews, and then praying I get it.  And having to explain why I do not have a job at this time.  Think that will improve my chances or be a black mark against me?

So I am angry and terrified.  Now we have to add to that this sense of malingering, the feeling of not meeting my responsibilities (like cooking or cleaning), and the definite lack of desire to ask for help.  I feel resentment that I cannot hold my grandchildren for very long and only with careful planning–like being seated and having my granddaughter slide up onto my lap.  I am afraid that I will drop them if I pick them up–if I could pick them up.  Actually, I feel a lot of resentment about all the things I can’t do.  I don’t want to be disabled, remember?  If I can do things myself, then…I’m not.  Even if it takes me longer, even if it hurts like hell.  Or like my husband said, I’m as stubborn as he is and will try to plow through it and then wonder why I feel so dreadful later on.  If yesterday was a typical day, I cannot imagine living another 30 or 40 years like that.  Even if yesterday was a “bad” day, and my “good” days are not so painful, are definitely better but not where I was a couple of years ago…I still prefer not to live like that.  Live like this.

Am I suicidal?  No, if you mean am I looking for a way out and actively planning my own demise.  Am I depressed enough to lack the motivation required for a better standard of living, or to accept that this is the way it is and learn how to deal?  Yes.  Are there times when I feel that being dead would be the only way to be rid of the pain?  Oh hell yes.  Being disabled ends so many of the things I had thought about doing, hoped to do, wanted to do.  And I am not seeing the other things that it will bring to my life, the possibilities I never considered, the chance events that would not have occurred without this disease.  I know that they must be out there but the dark cloud of my despair and anger does not permit the glimpsing of anything positive.  BUT suicide is not an option because I will not leave my husband.

So let me end this here, stop the whining and complaining.  I have worked very hard over the last 10 years to get negativity out of my life and I am greatly disturbed to realize that it can jump back in without missing a beat to take over my thoughts again.  I cannot do this alone this time and I am grateful beyond words for my beloved husband who watches out for me and watches over me.  I am grateful for a doctor who will listen to me and work with me to find a course of treatment that will be the most helpful.  And for this particular issue, I am willing to take an anti-depression medication, which he is willing to prescribe.  I need the chemical assistance; simple force of will is insufficient.

Having someone who loves me enough to make me face the facts I’m trying hard to ignore but need to deal with?  Priceless, absolutely priceless.  I do not know what I would do without my husband and I am ever so glad that I don’t have to find out.  I can make it through anything if he’s there with me.  Which makes any day better, no matter the pain.

So if you also suffer from fibro, please know that when you get down, there is always some way up–you just have to find yours and it’s worth the effort to do so.  Pursue every possibility, try all the medications you can to figure out what works for you, and do that IAO thing: Improvise, Adapt, Overcome.

Namaste!

Having a Bad Day and Planning for the Future

So today is NOT a good day, speaking from this moment in my relationship with fibromyalgia.  Some days, I hardly know I’ve got this disease.  Some days, I hardly know I’ve got any other life except for this disease.  Without looking for pity, not even really asking for sympathy, I can tell you as just pure information that today, I hurt.  It’s what we refer to as an “Indiana Jones” kind of day–so much hurts that you can’t locate a spot that doesn’t.  I’ve taken my meds, am using my TENS unit and have analgesic topical patches on my hands.  I am also wearing the wrist braces that seem to give the best support and make my hands feel better.  I’m not sure why I have so much pain, but here I am, with it.

Moving is to be avoided and I’ve been occupying myself with computer activities…and I’m bored.  But I can’t think of anything else to do that won’t hurt more than the simple clicking on a mouse.  Even typing this causes pain, but I’m dealing with it because I want to share my thoughts with you.

I’ve got an appointment next week with my doctor to see about changing up my medications because frankly, I’ve reached a plateau in my progress-and in some cases, even feel like I’m slipping back into the bad part.  I’ve been on Lasix to reduce/remove the swelling in my hands and feet.  I go to the bathroom like a race horse so it’s pulling water out of me but the feet are still fat and the hands are too–which makes them hurt more because they are swollen without the extra skin and space that feet and ankles have to hold excess water.  The Cymbalta seems to be helping with the pain, but it gives me dry mouth something terrible and I really would prefer not to increase it if I’m going to have that particular side effect increase along with it.

I am really struggling with the conflicting feelings I have about our next course of action, which is to retain the services of an attorney that specializes in disability claims and see about getting SSDI (Social Security Disability Insurance)–which is essentially declaring me permanently disabled and I’d get a check from the government and my health insurance would be Medicaid.  I don’t want to be disabled.  But I cannot return to any meaningful job within my skill sets–I cannot do anything productive for 8 hours straight.  Even my doing stuff around the house is done in 1/2 hour or 1 hour spurts, with generous rest time along the way.  And I don’t see that changing for months, perhaps years–and perhaps never.  The way I am now could very well be just the way my life will be for the rest of my time on this planet.

That’s a thought that makes me almost despondent.  This is not a life with any real, consistent quality to it.  Yes, there are good days, but even those have limitations that I did not have 2 years ago.

<Interrupted writing because husband insisted I take a nap.  It’s now 4 hours later.  He says I slept through at least 6 iterations of the alarm going off.  Yay for the snooze button.  I do feel a little better.>

I cannot stand the thought of living like this the next 30 to 40 years like this.  My family has good genes for long lives and it’s entirely possible that I could live to be 90 or so.  But as beloved pointed out to me, fibro is being actively researched, so new meds will be coming out all the time.  If my doctor thinks that I would benefit from being part of the experimental group for a new one, I’m sure he’d throw my name in the hat.  I wonder if he would stay in practice for me until I am dead…he’s only about 10 years younger than I am, so it could be interesting.  I doubt that he’d work that long.  That means getting a new doctor, some young whippersnapper…sigh.

I fully and frankly admit that the thought of never having to work again but having money coming in is…attractive.  But I’d prefer to win the lottery instead of being permanently disabled.  Because the problem with disability means that all the free time I’d have–would be spent quite differently than if I had the Mega Millions to play with.  What’s the point of endless free time if you spend most of it in pain?  Or at least, physically limited in what you can do with it.  An SSDI check means that any chance for a career in catering, which I was sort of working towards, is gone.  It means a lifetime of austerity because the checks won’t be that big; food stamps will probably become a way of life.  My healthcare costs will go down, fer sure–but I have to go to doctors who will accept Medicaid which may not mean (shall we say) the highest quality care possible?  I am on some “third tier” meds with no generic available.  Will I still be able to get them or will I have to settle for some other medication that doesn’t work as well?  Which would further degrade the quality of life.

And yet I don’t really see any other option (other than winning the lottery) so it’s something I need to get used to.  It may not be that bad, but it won’t be the life I had hoped for.  So I have to wonder what lesson is involved in this and what I am to learn–and what I will be doing instead of what I thought I’d be doing.  This requires almost as great a shift in my thinking as when I got divorced, making it another life-altering event.  Even if we can get all my symptoms under control, I cannot return to work in the near future.  Certainly not within the next 6 months, maybe not even for several years.  I see no end to the limitations I currently have–and the longer I am out of work, the less likely the chance of returning.  Who wants to hire someone with the gap of employment I already have, considering the reason for it?  (I haven’t worked since the middle of January.)

So let’s say I do follow the path to SSDI.  What do I then do with my days?  It certainly frees me up to finish (finally!) the murder mystery I started 7 or 8 years ago.  And lets me write the second book I’ve already started.  It has me available for the ministering I can/want to do.  I don’t have to be mobile to be a listening ear, a shoulder to cry on…  If my kids do move to live in this general area, I am available to see them at any time–and once the grandkids are out of the toddler phase, I can babysit on the “good” days.

And if my husband is also on SSDI–we won’t have a lot of money, but we’ll have lots of time and each other.  That could be the best thing that’s happened to us.  Imagine endless amounts of time with your best friend, who happens to be your lover and soul mate.  It would be wonderful.  Even worth the pain that makes the situation in the first place.

And thus I grapple with the reality of life as it is.  I have limitations, but who doesn’t?  If I can really get the pain under control, most days should be “not so bad” and therefore, bearable.  I have lived with pain for so long, like back since high school,  that I can’t imagine a day without it.  And so a certain amount is “normal” and I don’t particularly notice it because I’ve been ignoring it forever.  If I cannot return to work (as opposed to “will not”), then I need to turn my attention to the things that I can do.  Even if typing gets difficult, there are word recognition programs I can use to continue the writing I have long wanted to accomplish.  “IAO”, says beloved–“Improvise Adapt Overcome”.  Seems like a good way to deal with a disease that tries to limit me.  Oh I won’t learn how to tango or do a lot of wood carving, but life is not over.

The life I had is over, but that is true for all of us, at any given point of change.  There is a new life, a new way of living.  Pain may be a semi-constant companion, but it’s not the ruler of my life.  I will medicate, learn how to do old tasks in new ways that don’t increase the pain, and generally go on with my life in this new way.  It will be interesting to see what new abundance and blessings will come my way, and I am sure of those arriving.

The bad days serve to remind me that the good days do indeed exist because we know a thing by its opposite.  And I am getting more and more in tune with my body, which is probably part of this lesson.  I am also learning to appreciate the small moments–like spending the other day with my daughter, granddaughter and daughter’s significant other, doing nothing in particular but being together.  Personal interactions are taking on a new importance because the opportunities for them are more limited.  I am also getting some strong lessons in the gift of receiving gracefully–a friend took me to the store and paid for a cart of groceries that we needed and I am indeed grateful.  Having to go to Social Services and request all that we are eligible for as that time occurs will also be a lesson in humility and overcoming the false shame of being needy.  I say false because there is no shame in needing, only in feeling that somehow you are above that level of living…even if you’re not.  O Lord it’s hard to humble…

So there it is, just information, not a plea for sympathy or pity, not even whining, I hope.  Just trying to share all the aspects of fibro and letting you know, if you also suffer from it, that other people have bad days, too.  That sometimes beating the disease back is not possible and you have to look at all the other options, even if it means letting the government take care of you.  That learning to receive is a lesson that many of us need and some of us may actually learn.  That having this disease may end up being the very best thing to happen to you because it frees you up to a life that you had not imagined which may be fuller and more blessed than the one you were planning on.  It all depends on your point of view.

Namaste!

Your Mother Wears Combat Boots!

Tomorrow is Mother’s Day.  All across the nation, kids are going to burn the toast and undercook the scrambled eggs, both of which Mom will eat with a smile.  Dads will take the family out and the restaurant business will boom so that Mom doesn’t have to cook at least one meal this year.  The florists and Hallmark will also rake in big money.  By the way, this is the phone companies’ biggest day.

As a country, we still sort of have a Donna Reed/Harriet Nelson view of Mother’s Day…wonderful sentiment but does not address the fact this can be a day that causes pain for many, many women.  Motherhood can be a wonderful thing or it can be a nightmare, from both sides–mom or child.

What does Mother’s Day mean to the population of mothers who have to visit their children…incarcerated in prisons, institutionalized in psych wards or living in a state run home?  Or worse yet, have to make a trip to the cemetery because their child is no longer living?  Or have a child that was given up for adoption because they could not raise it, for whatever reason?  What does Mother’s Day mean to the population of women who either cannot conceive or carry a pregnancy to term?  Who have had a miscarriage (or more than one)?  Who gave birth to a stillborn child?  Or because of their own health issues, were never able to even try for a child of their own?  What does Mother’s Day mean to the population of women who became mothers through marriage?  They have had to learn how to combine the honeymoon period of a new husband with instant children that they did not give birth to but must mother (nurture and care) for?  And who resent her and remind her frequently that she is not their “real” mother and cannot replace her?

So this is a Mother’s Day blog for all women, trying to acknowledge all of the facets of this most feminine of roles.  If you’re not a mother, you had one.  She may have been Donna Reed or she may have been the bitch from hell, but you had a mom.  She has a lot of names: Mom, Mother, Mommy, Mama, Ma…and lots of other interesting names that are as individual as the person to whom they refer.  Erma Bombeck had a wonderful description of mothers that included such tidbits as “she was the only person in the house who knew how to replace the toilet paper on the spindle” and “she lived on coffee and leftovers”.  What else is particular to moms?

How about the fact that it is assumed she will handle all of the nasty parts of the little people?  She deals with vomit, blood, snot, urine and feces on an appallingly regular basis.  She cleans up spit out and spattered deposits of refused food…that strained spinach, the butternut squash.  She also deals with the anticipated results of attempting to blow a raspberry with a mouthful of pureed beets.  She gets used to wearing shirts that had permanent “spit up” stains on the shoulders.  She learns how to remove a dry pea from a child’s ear using common household implements and to overcome the normal childhood fears of being flushed down the toilet or going down the drain with the bath water.

Another Mom trait is the ability to see from the eyes in the back of her head…and arms that stretch to pop a smart mouthed kid where it counts–from across the room.  Moms know if you’re lying, the fact that you sneaked in late and that your best friend is actually a thug…a thing that you will agree with in about a month.  Moms stay up late with the crying babes which gives them the experience they need to sit up and watch for your return by curfew when you’re a teenager.  Moms get by with just a couple of hours of sleep for like years…and you wonder why they are crazy.  Sleep deprivation is a bad thing…

Moms yell the loudest at the basketball games, cheer the most when you make the winning touchdown and never say a word when you’ve lost other than “You played a good game”.  Moms let you get that pet turtle and then help you bury it because you forgot to feed it.  And then let you get another turtle.  (Which she secretly feeds so that she doesn’t have to dig another hole in her flower beds because Raphael just didn’t make it.  But this time you’re feeding it too…so it dies, the fattest turtle ever seen, of undiagnosed turtle diabetes and heart attack…sigh)

And I know at this point, some of you are going, “Yeah right.  MY mom wasn’t like that at all.”  I know.  There are moms who yell at the kids more than at those basketball games.  Who are self-medicating their own pains with alcohol or drugs which obviously interferes with their ability to nurture.  There are mothers who really don’t want to be moms…and if they are forced to keep the baby, take out their frustration on the child.  There are mothers who inflict pain, mental or physical, on their children for a variety of reasons, none of them good even if the reason is perhaps understandable.

It may come as a shock to you, but (and I’m warning you, this is going to very shocking!)….mothers are human, too.  (Please don’t tell anyone I let the secret out.)  So if your mom was not a good mom, it’s okay to say that out loud.  And to learn from her mistakes to be a good mom to your own children, if you choose to have them.  (Even good moms drive their kids insane with their weirdness…especially from a teenagers’ point of view.)  And it’s okay to NOT call your mother on Mother’s Day if she is toxic to your well being and undermines your life with her negativity.  As my friends have heard me say often enough: Just because you share DNA with someone doesn’t give them the right to treat you worse than they treat a stranger off the street.  You are allowed to let go of those people who have common chromosomes to choose a family of your own–the people who support you and want the best for you.  If it cannot be someone who is related by biology, it can be someone who is related by love.

I am a mother with three children.  My eldest, a girl, I have seen exactly twice in her life–when she was born and 29 years later, when she came to visit me.  I also have a son, who is 4th generation military service with a wife and son–who looks just like him and acts just like him as well.  Look out, world!  My youngest, also a daughter, has a daughter of her own and already informed me, with some acidity, that the Mother’s Curse works.  (“May you have a child JUST LIKE YOU!”)  If I do nothing, absolutely nothing else of any worth in my life, I have given 3 amazing contributions to this world each of whom I hope will make a difference to those around them.  They are all intelligent, witty and achieving things in their lives.  I am insanely proud of each of them and proud to call them “friends” as well as “my kids”.  Like most other mothers, I did the best I knew how–in the case of the oldest, in choosing to give her up for adoption rather than trying to be a single mom in the military, across the country from my family and with no real support for such an undertaking.  With the other two, I raised them, as I have always said, without repeating my mother’s mistakes.  I made plenty enough of my own, new ones!

I take no credit for child #1; her adoptive parents gave her many opportunities I could never have.  She is a skilled musician (plays piano and bass (in an orchestra, not a bass guitar) and sings); she is currently a rather senior marketing and events coordination person for the MS society in CA.  She is getting married to the love of her life this month and I am so happy for her.  I have dealt for years with the consequences of voluntarily letting go of a child but I consider it to have been the absolutely right choice and still is through today.

My other two were wonderful additions to my life.  I was fortunate enough to be able to stay at home with them until the younger was about 10.  I got to see the “firsts”–first step, first words, first day of school.  We had a lot of good times, doing nothing of great importance.  Playing video games together.  Making popcorn and watch Warner Brothers cartoons for hours.  I got introduce them to all sorts of things: new foods, new ideas, new ways of thinking about something.  I taught them that the most important question is “why” and worth looking for the answer.  I encouraged them to be who they were, without apology or excuse.  I gave advice and (I’d like to think) even knew when to be silent and let them learn it themselves.  I truly enjoyed every phase of their growing up and it has all passed so quickly that I’m not sure where the years went–and then I look into the eyes of my grandchildren and see myself peeking out.  I have loved and still love being a mother, being their mother.  (Although I am glad that the intensive “hands on” portion is done.)

So on this Mother’s Day, I’d like to honor all mothers, stepmothers, “real” mothers and those who gave up their chance for mothering to someone else; the women who want to be mothers but can’t, and yes, to the dads who are moms too.  To the moms who stay at home and those who do all the work at home while holding down a 9 to 5 “out of the house” job (or two).  To the moms who try each day to gently lead their children from being unsociable wild animals into people who eat with forks, say “please” and help old ladies across the street.  To the moms who stand back, chewing on their knuckles and let their children learn some new (dangerous!) thing like riding a bike without interfering.  To the moms who mother without smothering.  To the moms who let their kids mess up the kitchen, the basement or the house with their first attempts at cooking, blanket forts and sleepovers.  To the moms who let their kids get away with stuff without ever letting on that she knew.  To the moms who kissed all the boo-boos, made peanut butter and jelly sammiches “just right!” and made the house a home.  To the moms who wore skirts and high heels to work and the ones who wore jeans and sneakers.  To all the other moms who also encouraged her kids to ask “why”? but didn’t pretend that she had all the answers.  (That’s why there is Google.)

And  on this Mother’s Day, I want to especially honor the moms who wear camouflage and combat boots, work half a world away from home and are serving our country rather than being at home with their children.  Theirs is a special commitment to patriotism that supersedes motherhood–or in a way, ensures that our country will continue to be a place to have and raise children.  They give up something that cannot ever be replaced and I hope that their children will understand the reason and honor their mom for that choice.

A salute, a toast to moms, all moms everywhere.

Oh and a quick history lesson of the title I chose:

“Your mother wears combat (army) boots!”

A Dictionary of Catch Phrases (1986) by Eric Partridge has an entry for the expression, which says that “your mother wears army boots” was first used in the US during World War Two and was originally “very derisive, then jocularly derisive.” No speculation on the origin of the term is given, but the article quotes from a source which gives the following as variants: “your mother drives a tank,” “your mother eats K rations,” “your mother works in a dime store,” and “ah, yer mother wears cotton drawers.”

Generally used as a schoolyard taunt, like the phrase “go jump in a lake” or “go soak your head” and what we used to say to insult someone else before the phrase “fuck you” was invented. (Not really.  The word “fuck” has been around longer than “your mother wears combat boots”. LOL)  My kids rapidly figured out it couldn’t be that dreadful a thing since their mother did, indeed, wear combat boots.

Namaste!

Upsetting the World View

I wanted my Facebook profile to show my employment as this: “Works at Upsetting the World View”…but FB wouldn’t let me do it because that was not a “real” company or business.

So…I started creating the FB page for this “business” just to have it as a list-able place.  The questions that were asked required answers, so I did.  And in the process, ended up starting my own business.  Sort of.  I now have an official site for what I’ve been doing all along: ministering to those who need an ear to listen and someone to ask the questions that will help them find their answers.  Or need healing from a non-Western medical viewpoint.  My REAL job on this planet is to minister, to heal, to teach.  And suddenly, without prior thought or planning, I have essentially put out my shingle.  I don’t have a tax number, I haven’t gotten a “doing business as” paperwork from the commonwealth, I in fact have not consulted a single “legal” place or municipality about doing this.  Might be a problem somewhere down the road, but in the meantime…I will just do what I’ve been doing anyways, and maybe, just maybe find a little income from it.

Income.  That’s an interesting concept about this whole thing.  I don’t feel right taking money for using my gifts, things I do without conscious thought or effort.  Doesn’t require special equipment (usually) and I’m not paying off school loans for some degree…since I don’t have diplomas for this either.  I realize that from a certain point of view, this could be viewed as trying to sell snake oil off a traveling wagon…but I’m not offering miracle cures.  Actually I’m not even offering any cures, just whatever help I can give–which is more about the state of mind and beliefs of the person seeking the help than anything I am or do.  But if someone wants to repay me, well…I take $ but I’ll also take barter and “in trade”.

My take on how this happened?  I think all I’ve done is made myself available to a wider spectrum of people who might benefit from contact with me.  No promises there, just a willingness to help where I can.  Some of what I do can actually be done “long distance”, over the internet and through messaging or emails.  I am more than able to be a silent and listening person who will act as a sounding board for others to hear themselves out loud, so to speak, and perhaps offer a different point of view that helps them find their answers.

I was a little surprised at how fast this all went together, how easy it was to get the page created and the continued ease with which I have updated the site and the things I’m finding that are appropriate to share.  I have found that when things go this easily in my life, it’s where I was supposed to be and doing what I was supposed to do.  I do not decline to accept this challenge and hope that the page will grow as it needs to, that it will be as useful a ministry as I could hope for.  This may be the thing that I was destined for when I first stepped back from other ministerial duties for my sabbatical.  Which lasted way longer than I planned, but I am waking up and starting to be in a physical shape that will allow this while also finding myself in a spiritual place that almost longs for this.  I have missed my ministering.

It has continued, to a certain extent, even while I’ve been dealing with my physical health.  I still have the wandering souls show up at my doorstep…so perhaps this is just an escalation of effort, not something entirely new.  Which brings me back to the new Facebook page…I have, in full glorious meaning of the phrase, “hung my shingle out” to a global community.  Exciting times ahead.  And it’s something that I am actively looking forward to.

Let me upset your world view, because as Doug Adams wrote, “….was amazed at how different things looked from a perspective just three feet to the left”.

Namaste!

Reunited and It Feels So Good

I won’t ask you to read through our joyous reunion and the huggy kissy lovey stuff.  Let’s just say that it happened and leave it at that.

So we’ve been settling back into our routine.  Beloved continues to adjust to the new meds and is doing very well although because they are new and he’s not used to them, it will take some time to learn what is “normal” for this medication and his body.  Now we can turn our attention to more pressing matters, like where’s the money going to come from.  No paychecks since February is starting to be…boring.  I hope to get more money from my short term disability claim–they paid out a week but then wanted “more” documentation to continue benefits.  The insurance company and my doctor’s office played phone tag for about 2 months and FINALLY got it together last Friday.  I look forward to hearing from the insurance company tomorrow or Wednesday with the happy news that a check for the past 7 weeks is in the mail.  In the meantime, I am still trying to do things and differentiating between Pain, Aches and Soreness as subtopics for the every-present question of what hurts.  Now it’s more of “how” does it hurt in order to determine my general well-being each day.  Oh for a husband with an engineer’s mind and way of looking at things; he quantifies everything and needs to have me do that so he knows how today relates to yesterday.  Is it better or worse, or is it about the same?  So I am learning how to make those fine distinctions so that I can accurately rate my health.

So.  I have Pain.  I always have Pain.  I don’t think I’ve ever had a day where there was not some pain, some where.  And one does get used to it.  However, I also have some soreness–muscle aches where I am using them for the first time in a long time.  Like taking up running or learning how to play golf, there are muscles that ache from use, not from undefined reasons as most of my Pain does.  Other than fibro, I mean.  My legs are sore because I drove 7 hours on Wednesday after not driving at all for almost 3 months.  I am very thankful for cruise control or they would be even more sore.

I cooked today.  I also got the dishwasher loaded and run.  Major accomplishments, sigh.  I made Lebanese style rice–uncooked basmati rice mixed with a cooked combination of fried onions,garlic, pieces of vermicelli (NOT cooked but fried in the same olive oil as the onions), black pepper, mint, and cinnamon, which was then all cooked together in the rice cooker.  Mild flavor but a nice change from “plain ole rice”.  Also made homemade mac’n’cheese — with some minor adjustments.  Not macaroni but orzo and farfalle (rice shaped and bow shaped pasta); cheese part was a creamy sauce of pasteurized but NOT homogenized local (pastured cows) milk and muenster cheese, fried onions,  roasted garlic and oregano, black pepper and just a dash of nutmeg.  I suspect that my right arm will be sore tomorrow because I had to carry and lift pans as I drained the pasta, put it into a large mixing bowl and then added the sauce and stirred it all together.  Can we say NOM!?

I had movie passes so beloved and I went to see Avengers on Saturday–good movie and without giving anything away (I hope) I will tell you that hubby’s favorite line from the movie is “Hulk?….Smash!”.  If you go to see it, STAY TO THE BITTER END OF THE CREDITS.  There are TWO “easter egg” clips.  Well done and the other movies leading up to it made it interesting to see how a god, a millionaire tycoon playboy, a somewhat idealistic man from the past and the others interacted–and the movie dealt with that very well.  I especially enjoyed how Captain America had to deal with his being “out of time” and not recognizing the current pop culture icons, etc…not knowing about computers…instead of them glossing over the time and giving him an equal standing with the others.  In fact, at one point, he says “I know that one! I recognize that!”, which was very cool.

So we’re just doing our usual thing, which is not much.  I want to start blogging about industrial versus organic/farm fresh foods and will probably add another section to this to do it.  We’ve changed our diets to get rid of things like high fructose corn syrup and aspartame and I would like to share what we’ve learned and give links to whatever I can find that will help you all choose a better way of eating.  So keep an eye out for that.  Dunno how fast I’ll get to it, just doing a teaser here.  I must do laundry or go naked and frankly, that’s not an option.  Not if I want to leave the house.  So laundry it is.  Need to wash towels as well.  Unload the dishwasher and put in the bits from eating today.  Think about what I can cook for dinner tomorrow.  Nothing earth-shattering, but it’s pleasing to me to have these small domestic things to do and that I CAN do.

I just keep living one day at a time, one moment at a time, moving from this moment to the next “this” as it comes in turn.  Will report back to you again in a week or so, barring major developments or something enraging me enough that I have to blog about it.  They’re calling for thunderstorms tomorrow, so that may be interesting…sit out on the porch and watch the show if the wind isn’t blowing the rain too much.

Namaste!