March 9, 2022
As a mother and as a citizen I wonder at my expectations. I expect the world of my generation to be wiser. I did not expect that my life be influenced by an ex-KGB agent.
Once again, one of my minds focus is upon politicos. As war – war! – or invasion kills lives, I wonder at the world in these times of crises. How does one lead? How does one manage? How does one manage oneself?
I have found one of my personal keys to living is that I need to plan, first thing in the morning, not for the day but for the next day. I check results and operations for work, but my planning needs to be two days out. On the day of, I review the plan with updates, if needed. Many times I have already done the tasks I have set for the day.
I had found I had been scrambling if I waited for the current day. Lots of times I found my brain’s tendencies to totally ignore the plan if I waited to the day of. I could not understand why I would do that. And I could not doubly understand why I would feel that way.
Waiting to the current day felt like I was pinched for time or that I was already stressed. So I avoided it all together. The lesson of my fifties was just that-I could do anything as long as I did not allow it to become a stressful, hurried ‘emergency’.
Most of my life I had operated in such a manor. Everything was dire chaos. After all, that’s what life was! A person gets used to it. A person thrives and the brain almost desires it’s normal operation.
Desires that mode, that is, until it wants something different. Desires, that is, until the brain wishes to create. Desires, that is, until it sees a result of peace and realizes it’s capabilities exceed the result of a daily race.
Cardiology. The Wait.
Today I sit nearer the three story windows, with my back near the fireplace and in view of the fish. I wonder what it would be like to install a tank at home.
Except for a nurse in scrubs talking with a woman, the waiting area is largely empty. I had not noticed before that around the corner is an employee tranquility room. I could see why it would be located here. The room is tucked as if the building is cradling the space with folded arms. The mix of elements and subtle malted shades of color are soothing.
Even with my hearing I cannot clearly sort words from conversations. The blend of voice noises could lull me asleep. I can hear five partial conversations. As I filter through them, some I can hear. “Good morning,”the health screener from the floor above voices a loud welcome. The receptionist’s voice exaggerates directions of offices and labs. ‘Ok,” she begins her sentences. Mildly irritating, somehow the voice soothes. She sounds like a distant bell.
Not so far from me, in different directions, a man and woman both talk on their respective phones. As much as I try to listen. I cannot hear them clearly. The same with the receptionist for the coronary clinic. Her cheerful soft voice is like honey butter.
I am usually more adept at nosiness. But I cannot understand any of them. When all five conversations flame at once, the blend echos pleasantly through the pillars, stone, windows and fish.
I think I could nap. Eight o’clock in the morning. I am exhausted in a way I had not been before. I pull my wool tartan shawl around me and fall asleep.
What truly was minutes later, the nurse returns to me. I awaken just as she approaches. There has been a change in schedule.
“Your mother is going first. We are beginning to prep her,” she explains as we walk and talk.
Nurses say hello as I walk into her room. She is one away from last time. Everything feels familiar. Her two cardiologists had spoken with her. The anesthesiologist arrived.
“Your valve is..” and truthfully I cannot remember his adjective. He explains his part in her valve replacement. She will be deeply sedated. As he checks her mouth and we chat, I realize that he is dismissing me.
I am no stranger to medical procedures or bodily functions. I have a strong stomach and I am used to being in the thick of things. (I’m always surprised to be dismissed. There seems to me, to be, a way I could just help out vis a vis holding the IV or pushing a gurney).
Um, no Steph. It doesn’t work that way. You cannot hang around. You cannot help. You must wait.
Not long after I wrote those words, two surgeons walked slowly to me. I felt my breath pause but they quickly grinned behind their masks.
“Your mom’s procedure is finished. She is doing well.”
Barely an hour had passed since I had kissed her. Eighty-seven years old, awake at four in the morning, determined to survive and she has.
An eighth-seven year old heart has been beating, murmur and all, for all that time. For the first time ever in her lifetime, she will not know a murmur.
I smile under my flowered mask.
My Own Health.
I have noticed my own reactions to stress in these past months. The crises during this time just concentrated the effects of stress i have felt for years. I admit to being the creator of much of that turmoil. Not all, but even indirectly I placed myself in the midst of hairy situations.
But the past couple months were like a concentrated tonic of stress. I have learned and been known as the calm one. So through the years I know how to navigate those storms.
I know I need to exercise, eat well and sleep. And times of extreme stress will happen, no matter what. A person just handles those times as best as possible.
Can’t avoid life.
But I have had a casual approach to my health. I am healthy and improving my health as I age. But then I experienced extreme stress.
My body reacted. My brain did too. My body puffed. I felt inflammation. I stopped drinking my normal liquids. By doing so, I worsened the puffiness.
My joints ache. My sinuses plug up. My skin morphed into a white-grey flesh tone. My sleep occurs in waves.
My brain fights with itself to remain on task and quiet. It is though I fight with myself constantly to not argue with anyone. I mask my emotions.
Or at least I think I do.
I am quiet.
As an example, my Jeep radio is now stuck among an FM channel which is broadcast from the north woods and only accessible within five miles of my home, an AM station which is the blending of three channels and the buzz of a non-channel and a Sirius station whose only function is the advertisement of Sirius radio.
At first I was disgusted. I had overcome the woes of a malfunctioning Jeep factory radio by purchasing a twenty dollar adapter. I could Bluetooth with my phone, feeling like a techno wizard.
Of course, being the prideful dolt I can be, that lasted a bit but I am now at the mercy of the three options mentioned above.
One night I listened to Sirius, pretending that the snippets of ‘good music’ with which it tempted me was enough to actually sustain me.
Driving in the quiet is okay. It is an option. And I feel rather spoiled even thinking about it now. There are people suffering a war. And I am complaining of no Jeep radio?
My favorite option is the AM station which blends the sounds of a local channel, a Spanish-speaking channel, the buzz of a non-channel and another in which, to me, sounds almost as if it was Eastern European.
I love it. I love the buzzing noise mixed with people speaking in languages I do not hear daily. I am certain I will get the radio repaired and the charm will fade, but for right now the weird blend of voice, music and electronic buzz draws me closer to the world.
My family crisis is teaching me that a human heart can last over eighty years, through procedures and crises of its own. It can even change to beat stronger after it has beat with its own adaptation for eight decades. I am just beginning to grasp the precious care and detail with which I should handle my life.
Even that is an understatement.
My second key might be the prioritization of health.
Lots of love, Luv.
PS. Her procedure turned out very well.