Tag Archives: medical

Superwoman Bites the Dust, Part 2

You know how people say, “Listen to your body,”? It occurred to me this morning that I rarely do that. Instead I say, “Listen, body, do what I want.”

Since I had pneumonia, I must have had fifty people say, “Listen to your body.” I jokingly reply that the doctor should never have diagnosed walking pneumonia because I just kept walking around. Instead, she should have said, “Cindy, you have ‘going to bed and resting pneumonia.” I’d end up in bed only because I couldn’t do anything else, and I’d feel guilty about it.

Although I’m much better (I’ve turned the corner!), I’m still a work in progress. I may start off well when I get up, but I can hit the wall at about 11:00 A.M. Then I might be done for the day. So I’ve been trying to short circuit the fatigue by resting before I’m overcome by exhaustion. I make plans for what I can do—things that I never counted before like going to the market or dropping stuff at the cleaners.

When I walked this morning, I got quiet and went inward. I tried to listen? What was my body saying? It was hard to perceive any instructive advice because I’d turned that voice off years ago.

“How the hell should I know?” were the only words that came out—and those were from my mind. Which continued: “You can walk a little farther. You should be able to! You were walking five miles some days before. You need the exercise—you gained weight on your vacation! No pain, no gain! Don’t be a sissy!”

All of a sudden Dr. Phil was there in my head too. “And how’s that been working for ya?” he asked.

When the pulmonary specialist had said, “Don’t push yourself. Don’t walk too far so you’re too tired to walk back,” the words floated to my memory bank but not my conscious decision making center.

But Dr. Phil’s a big guy. His booming voice stood out in the crowd of bullies in my brain who urged me on. So I listened to him and turned towards home.

There’s more to this never-ending story, which I’ll share later. It includes chest X-rays, CAT scans, blood tests, pulmonary tests, inhalers, netty pots and a “No cancer,” diagnosis. It also includes me needing to make an attitude adjustment, which I’m working on. It’s hard to give up the feeling that you’re invincible. I don’t like it.

 

 

 

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Seeing is Believing?

 

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I often find pennies when I walk. Twenty years ago, I found one next to a vacant lot in my neighborhood. My back was hurting so much at the time that I had trouble stooping to pick it up. I’d been suffering from back and neck pain for about a year. The anxiety crippling me came around the same time.

I was coming close to being agoraphobic. I was quiet about it—ashamed really. I could fake it pretty well so no one knew. I could manage the grocery store if I were alone. Driving, thank God, wasn’t an issue then.

When I saw a documentary about agoraphobia, I saw myself and knew I needed help. I got a referral and began seeing a therapist. I also took Paxil. Both the talk therapy and the medication helped me a lot. I also got into other types of therapy, like the emotional freedom technique and EMDR, which were beneficial on many levels. I read Jack Sarno’s book on emotionally triggered pain in the body. The panic attacks became less frequent and my physical pain almost disappeared.

The night before I found the penny in my neighborhood, my husband and I watched an Andrew Weill special on television. He told a story about finding four leaf clovers. “When I give a lecture, I’ll tell the audience, ‘If you believe you can find a four leaf clover, you will’,” he’d said. “Then during the break, people will go out onto the grounds and twelve will come back with a four leaf clover.”

This was unbelievable to me. I’d always been told four leaf clovers were extremely rare and you had to be extremely lucky to find one. Lucky pennies were a dime a dozen. Anyone could find one of those. You just had to look down.

That day, twenty years ago, I knew I wasn’t a lucky type, but since I’d bent down to get the penny, I decided to look in the grass, just in case. I leaned over, resting my hand on the grass. When I looked down, my thumb was on a four-leaf clover!

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I can’t tell you how I felt. My heart soared. I know that’s a cliché, but it’s the only way I can describe my feeling. I still remember that sensation.

That’s the moment I look back on that started me healing. I began to believe in myself. I began to believe in the limitless nature of the universe. I started on a path of healing: physical, mental and spiritual. My fears quieted.

Believe it or not, I’ve found more than a dozen four-leaf clovers since then. Some were in my back yard, some were in Europe. I don’t look often, but when I do, I usually find one. I tell this story to my grandchildren and two have already found four-leaf clovers with me.

Seeing is believing, or is it if you believe, you’ll be able to see it?

 

 

Blood Lust

 

 

 

 

imagesMy fellow Phlebotomist phobics, do I have a story for you! Last week I had to have blood drawn at UCLA Medical. I have veins that can be extremely hard to find—a family trait—but haven’t had trouble lately. I was taken into a room by two young women in white coats. Then a man came in and introduced Holly and Nicole: students at UCLA who would be practicing on me.
“My veins can be difficult to find,” I warned.
“Not to worry,” James, the phlebotomist, told me. “I’m sure Holly will be able to find a vein. And I’m here to step in if needed.”
Oh great, I thought as they all gave me toothy grins.
Holly actually did find a vein, but the needle wasn’t in exactly the right spot so by the time Dr. James intervened, the vein had dried up. He was distressed (because he looked like an idiot, I think) and couldn’t find any more likely veins on my right arm so we turned to the left. I’d already pointed out that my left arm was even less giving than my right, but Dr. James poked anyway.

 

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“Did you drink water today?” he asked sharply when the only blood available was from the pokes on my arm.
“Yes,” I said.
“Well, you didn’t drink enough. You’re dehydrated. You need to drink a lot of water if you’re going to have a blood draw.”
I almost apologized but caught myself. He was the professional, for goodness sake! I did give him a pleasant smile. He was beginning to sweat and I wanted him to be calm–I had a couple of more vials to be filled.
He started looking up and down my arm and then at my neck. I swear he began to grow fangs. I quickly pointed out an almost invisible vein in the crook of my arm. It was lucky that it worked. I was ready to bolt. No way was I giving him a field day with the rest of my body.

“Ah, I think . . .” I started to say when Dr. Phleboto breathed a sigh of relief.
“Got it,” he said. “Holly, hurry, get me another vial.”

I hazarded a look. My blood was flowing now. I wasn’t sure if Holly was going to move fast enough, but she did.

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I left the examining room with two bandaged arms, shaking my head. This would never have happened to my husband, and not only because he has good veins. He’d never have put up with the trainees. I wonder if someday, I won’t.