Thursday, February 21, 2008

A Scare and a Lesson?

Traditionally, the President's Day Holiday is the day I gather all the forms Hubs needs to take to our tax preparer (along with two boxes of shortbread Girl Scout cookies--we have that kind of longstanding relationship). This past Monday, DD#2 was actually working on several homework projects, DS#2 was stuffing envelopes for his upcoming Eagle Court of Honor, and I was going through my box of bills and receipts, trying to keep the dog and the cats off the paperwork. I bent over to pick up a piece of paper and my head felt like someone had sent a meat cleaver through the top. Whimpering, I went to bed, while DS#2 found one of my migraine pills.

No good. The pain was so intense I couldn't keep anything down, including the anti-nausea meds that had been prescribed when I broke my arm. Tuesday I got out of bed long enough to call in sick. Wednesday I got up, started to work from home, and realized that I couldn't focus on the computer screen. Hubs called to check on me and asked if I needed to go to the hospital. I did end up calling the Advice Nurse, who chastised me (very nicely, though) for not coming in to the Emergency Department Monday afternoon. But my doctor had an Urgent Care appointment open and I took it.

My doctor did some neurological evaluations and concluded that what I was experiencing was, indeed, a migraine, albeit more the onset was more sudden and the pain was more severe than usual for me. I was also dehydrated. He ordered two injections: one for the pain and one for the nausea and told me to contact him if the shots didn't help.

I got the shots and Hubs bought me some Gatorade (I usually hate the stuff, but this wasn't bad). Once home, I fell asleep for about an hour and woke up to a migraine of more manageable levels.

Today I have a slight "migraine hangover." But I can actually focus on the task at hand and reading the computer screen is not a challenge. Not being able to read was what scared me most about this whole experience. It's been a long time since I've had to parse out each word, consciously decode its meaning, and work to make sense of the sentence. To lose that ability would be devastating to my sense of self--it would mean a radical shift in self-definition.

Sleep while in pain is more escape than refreshing and in the twilight where I lived for about 24 hours, I mused about pain and Lent, specifically on the idea of "offering it up for Jesus." I'm not sure what that really means. Does it mean that I go on as if my life was normal, even though I can't see straight? Am I allowed to curl up quietly in my darkened room and not make demands of the rest of my family, trusting that they get along? Does it mean allowing Hubs to do what he does best and take command of the situation, dragging me off to the doctor even though I'm not sure I want to go? I don't know--I was focusing on not moving. (Although I did forget about my broken arm.)

I don't know how Jesus--the human part of him--made it through the Passion. I can't imagine carrying a cross on a back scourged raw. Forget Simon of Cyrene. I would have fallen after a few feet and not gotten up. Ever. I thought my head was going to explode just walking from the parking garage to the doctor's office.

Now that my pain is considerably subdued, I feel like I'm living again. I have the energy to be interested in what my family is doing. I can think coherently. I am grateful to God for the miracle of modern science and wonder drugs.

I feel like Easter.

Wednesday, February 13, 2008

Berzerklean Logic

From the article on AOL:

Councilwoman Linda Maio said the council opposes recruitment, not the military. "It's behavior that we oppose, not the people," she said.

That sounds awfully familiar. Kind of like "Hate the sin; love the sinner."

If that kind of rhetoric isn't acceptable from the Catholic Church when discussing homosexuality or extramarital sex, why does Ms. Maio think the exact same rhetoric would be acceptable as an apology for the Berkeley City Council's action against the U.S. Marine Corps?

Either the argument is valid or it's not.

Book Review: Sixpence House: Lost in a Town of Books

My review of this book by Paul Collins is up at Catholic Media Review.

My Personal Lent

"Man proposes, God disposes." I'm not sure if my mother or one of my teachers used that quote often when I was growing up. It certainly applies to my life.

I've given up driving for Lent. Okay, because of my broken arm I was forced to give up driving for Lent. I am now dependent on the services of others--primarily my family. I also need their help to do simple things, like get dressed. Who knew how difficult it is to put a sock on your right foot using just your right hand? Or that I used both my right hand and my left when brushing my teeth? Even if public transportation was readily available, I'm not sure I'm up for the task of dressing and juggling with my wallet, etc., one-handed.

My physical therapist is cute, young, and six-months pregnant.

"So, are you sleeping in the recliner?" she asked.

"Why, yes," I replied.

She nodded. "Typical shoulder injury."

I also discovered that this injury is probably what is aggravating my migraines.

I described how I now do the wearing-a-tight-skirt-bent-knee squat to get something low, rather than bending over. It puts less pressure on my arm & shoulder. Apparently that's another adaptation. She was impressed that I was working from home, using the computer--that's keeping my wrist and my elbow flexible.

And then she gave me my exercises. This first level is designed to move my left arm and shoulder passively: my left arm moves because I move my body. There's also a pulley designed to raise my left arm when I pull on it with my right.

She warned me I'm going to need to ice my arm afterward. Fortunately, we're in a warm spell--the temperature is in the 60's.

Last night was the first night I slept without using Tylenol PM. The pain has subsided to a dull constant ache, which in many ways is more annoying than outright pain. I feel like I should be better than I am, able to do more. The ache is distracting, just enough so that I feel like I'm not on top of my game and the most inane television shows are watchable. Who knew that EWTN had online shopping? Or that Project Runway could be enthralling. (I would have bought Sweet P's denim dress in a minute, if I had the money. It was classy and classic.)

I am tired of sitting. I try to eat lunch outside at our picnic table so I can pretend I'm getting out. I try to remember to be nice when I make a request of my family (at least now I can open my own bottles!) and to maintain my sense of humor about the entire situation. And to not worry about what I am going to do, but instead cope with what I am doing now.

My Lenten Lesson this year is patience, humility, and letting go of my need to always be in control. Because I can't do it all. I can't do as much as I'd like to or expected to. I'm doing what I can. These are not the lessons I would have chosen to learn. But I'm not the Teacher this year.