How was your January? Mine proved to be challenging in a couple of different ways. I got sick with a tooth infection. A week of milling around on the couch, dragging myself to training sessions for work and work itself, drifting in and out of sleep, gobbling pain pills trying to quell what turned into quite a debilitating pain radiating along my lower jaw to my ear. I had the pain under control after a week of antibiotics and had another week to make a decision about my tooth: a root canal ($1,000) or an extraction ($250). I asked everyone I knew about their opinions. At first I leaned towards an extraction but finally chose to give the tooth a chance and opted for the root canal.
The first part was done on Tuesday and already (2 days later) I'm feeling so much better. No pain meds and my energy has increased ten fold. I had to sign an interesting consent form that my dentist recited to me beforehand. It involved being aware that a dental tool could break off in my tooth! My dentist told me that if that happened, she'd just carry on and leave it in there!
"One in...oh, maybe a thousand chance that would happen." She smiled reassuringly, then added, "But you could be that one in a thousand."
So far, so good. I'm not.
Rob, as always, was attentive and thoughtful when I was sick. He brought me a pretty pink primrose. And a box of persians! For those who don't know, persians are native to Thunder Bay and are basically soft cinnamon rolls topped with raspberry icing. They're delicious! A strange thing to bring a diabetic with a tooth ache but hey it worked! For a week I lived on persians and diet cola!
Sorry the Persian Man photo wouldn't go the right way no matter what.
Weather has also been a challenge in many ways--a long-lasting bitterly cold front, most days the past week hovering to highs of about minus 20 degrees Celsius with windchills in the minus 40s. Apart from this morning (-32) we've been lucky with cars starting. A stress when I have to work early in the morning though. But our house is lovely, cosy and warm. We're very fortunate. I also quite like hunkering down and in general find the cold easier to deal with than excessive heat.
Before this super long cold spell, we had days of thaw which is playing havoc with our kitchen roof and ceiling but which has also created a gorgeous array of icicles which sparkle and shine on sunny days.
While I was sick, Spook (our tortoiseshell cat) often came to sleep on my bed through the night. Her presence is soothing, especially if she purrs or snores or twitches in dreams. One dark night when the tooth pain had woken me, I reached out to touch Spook, put my hand on the bed beside her. She touched my fingers with her paw, softly, and we both fell asleep like that. Those little things can get you through and bring such comfort.
I believe that I get sick for a reason...that I've let myself get run down, let things get to me. So i examine what has gone on that could have led to this infection. Dane left in November, Dad left at the beginning of January. Both Dad and Dane I saw weekly (if Dane was in town) and I talked on the phone to Dad about 4 to 5 times a week if not pretty much everyday when Sandy was away and before he met Sandy. So even though their leavings were good for them and I could appreciate that, somewhere deep down I think I felt abandoned. That's where my darkest thoughts spiral, my most hateful thoughts about myself: to a feeling of abandonment and immense self pity.
When I was young (I like to think very young but really can't remember how old), I used to sob on the stairs at home, heart-wrenching sobs saying out loud, "Nobody loves me. Nobody. Except Kim." Kim was our oldest corgi, ginger in colour, and a real sweetheart. He was always so protective of me...running circles around me to make me stop when I was on walks with Mam and Dad and had run ahead too far. And he always, always, sat beside me on the stairs while I cried into his fur. Everyone else used to do their best to ignore me and go about their business. There was no consoling me when I got like that. And it was usually sparked by being disciplined. But Kim was loyal. Well, most of the time. He was a fat little corgi and a greedy one. He left me whenever food was around. I used to cry harder. "Even Kim doesn't love me any more!" But he always came back to sit beside me...once all the food had disappeared.
I think the stress of monitoring Kaden and giving him insulin which I don't think always goes into his skin, also contributed to feeling run down.
Christmas was good but brought its own exhausting schedule. I didn't keep up with tai chi regularly which is a huge boost to my system. On Christmas Eve, Rob and i visited his sister Kat. I'm used to Kat who can be quite negative at times. She lived with us for a few months years ago and i got adept at steering her talk to being more positive and to letting her remarks drip off me like rainwater. But on Christmas Eve Rob had to go on a delivery and I was alone with Kat. She was feeling stressed with visiting her mom in long term care. I tried to listen and be empathetic but I couldn't get a word in edgewise. She completely unburdened on me to the point where I felt like I was under assault and I huddled into the corner of the couch. Too late for shielding, too battered to even respond, given no chance to speak. I went to a dark place of remembering similar past abuse and felt totally exhausted when Rob finally came back. I just wanted to get out of there. I should have been better prepared but I wasn't. I made myself move on quickly and forget that. After all the next day was Christmas. But my body remembered. And reacted. Not just to Kat's onslaught but to old scars.
I feel better acknowledging these things, understanding that they could have been factors in making me slow down and pay attention. Sometimes we just need to acknowledge...yes, that's unfair...or yes, I need to be gentler with myself...or yes, I need to feel all those feelings, not bury them. Sometimes we need to acknowledge what gets us through our rough spots and concentrate on that.
What are your creature comforts? Do you have enough of them in your life? How can you be kinder to yourself today?
'Be gentle with yourself. You are a child of the universe, no less than the trees and the stars: you have a right to be here.' Tread gently, my friend.
Happy new year! 8 days in already. How's it been so far for you? Between shifts at different times and family get togethers and pet issues, the whole Christmas/New Year season has been rather swirly and emotional and exhausting for me.
This morning I drove Dad and Sandy to the airport at 4:30 for their 3 month stay in Florida. I offered weeks ago but Sandy talked me out of it, worried about how early it was for me to be up then on Sunday evening, at the family au revoir dinner, I discovered that Dad really wanted me to drive them but was also concerned about the time.
"I really don't mind about the time," I reassured them, "but I don't do airports. Especially goodbyes at airports. I've had too many of those. I'll just be kicking you out at the curb."
With that established, off we set in the early morning darkness, along quiet snowy roads, to the airport and as promised I kicked them out at the curb. Well, I did physically stop the car and help with the cases. Dad kept wanting to hug me or hold my hand or something. Finally I realised he was trying to push a wad of cash into my hand.
"I know you didn't need to do this," he said as we pushed the money back and forth between us, "but I needed you to. I needed to see you this morning. Take this. Please take this and have dinner with Rob on me." His eyes welled with tears. Sandy stood in the doors with her cases. We exchanged a head shake as if to say What can you do?
I flapped my hands at Dad. "Go, just go. You'll have me crying in a minute. Watch the ice. Go and have fun."
I stood by the car, watched him take one step, two, through the doors, pulling his sea-green suitcase, then he stopped, turned and we waved as the doors closed. And I got a little teary on the drive home. For the past several years, Dad and I have been in the same city except for maybe a 2 week spell here and there. It has been an adjustment, overall a pleasant one, having Sandy absorb so much of his time and focus. This will be the biggest adjustment, especially for Dad in a hot place he really doesn't want to be in but with a person he loves. I feel relieved that he's actually there now (Nathalie, Sandy's daughter-in-law who works at Westjet, messaged me to say they had safely arrived in Florida) because I know he had tons of trepidation about the trip. Trying to reassure him and support him had been emotionally exhausting at a time when lots of other things were going on. All I can hope is that he settles well. I'm in charge of the house now but Dad, true to his protective nature, has done everything he can to ease that for me.
At the end of last week, I took my oldest cat, Kaden (the grey male) to the vets where he was diagnosed with diabetes and a urine infection. The next day, at a another vet appointment, I learned how to give him insulin injections which he needs every 12 hours and learned that I need to regulate his food and that I have to orally give him antibiotics. Since this second trip, he's barely eaten. Warned that it's more dangerous to give him too much insulin rather than too little, I've administered hardly any insulin. The antibiotics are a struggle and more than once I'm convinced he's swallowed them only to find a little pink pill stuck to a cushion. The insulin, apart from guessing at the amount, is much easier to give him. But when he was first diagnosed, I felt quite overwhelmed, more about the food regulation as I've always had dry food readily available for all the pets and they happily all eat from each other's bowls and now that had to change, as well as trying to regulate the times of the pills and insulin as sometimes I don't have 12 hours at home inbetween shifts (which I didn't when starting this, going from an evening shift ending at 9 to a morning starting at 7).
In the middle of my stressing, I had to remind myself to put on my own oxygen mask first. I talked to Kaden about it. "Oxygen before insulin," I'd say. In his own sweet way he probably thought, "Everything first before those bloody pills." I love the reminder of the oxygen mask as it puts things into perspective for me and lets me off the hook about things that I really can't control anyway...like how much Kaden eats at any one time.
One of my stranger oxygen masks during this time became killing aphids on some of my shamrocks. The shamrocks reminded me that I can nurse things back to health (sort of. They're still infected but nowhere near as badly and are thriving now, producing flowers again) I don't usually kill things (mosquitoes being an exception) but I found finding and squishing aphids to be surprisingly meditative and satisfying.
Added to all this was a new twist to call-ins from work which started in the new year. Instead of simply being notified by texts, phone calls and emails about our own project, we had to be notified about shifts available at the other five sites too. Other sites have much more of a problem with people calling in sick than our office does! My oxygen mask first: I cancelled all texts from on call and tried to cancel phone calls for 24 hours at a time.
Meanwhile, a winter storm keeping me inside so I could paint and play and a kind neighbour who surprised us by snowblowing our driveway (we didn't see who it was but we have an idea) have restored me.
If you're overwhelmed remember: your oxygen mask first, deep breath, then onward. Wishing you a year of sweet surprises. And an abundance of oxygen.
Welcome! I'm Sue Blott: a writer of all things, a poet at heart, mom, wife, daughter, step-mom, grandma, tea drinker, tai chi-er, mystic, artist, dreamer...and now a blogger! This is my world.