The Board of Directors Here at Spo-reflections was pleased as Punch at the number of comments on my last entry.  In their most recent telegram they suggested I get sick again real soon and add if possible a brush with mortality.  They are sincere as they sent along with their  “get sick soon” correspondence a flea-bitten dead rat.  The dears. 

Someone surprised me yesterday with a phone call the other day. He only calls to ‘discuss business’ when texting isn’t good enough. He had a modest proposal: we have a free weekend at the end of the month so why don’t we take an impromptu holiday. We could drive to Lake Havasu, AZ and go see London Bridge, which is something I have long wanted to do. My first thought was to ask if he was joking but I thought better not look a gift horse in the mouth and my heart was going like mad and yes I said yes I will Yes. 

I can’t remember when we last had an impromptu trip to anywhere – it may be we have never had one.  Our getaways are always planned way in advance and nothing is left to chance. Where we stay and what we do/where we eat are prepared ahead of time;  nothing is left to chance. I’ve longed to just ‘wing it’ viz. get into the car and drive –  drive anywhere, and when we get tired start looking for The Three Fates hotel.  How lovely. 

I am fairly certain we (Someone) will research the route, the hotel, and the restaurants and I will look into the sights and the history or the place. All the same, just knowing we did something on a sudden whim is heartwarming.  Perhaps there I will something impromptu like jump off London Bridge provided I am not going to be arrested and have a impromptu albeit disagreeable journey to the local jail and what not. 

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sick-bearI’m wiped out by a bug. At first I thought my symptoms were merely a combination of aches/pains after a strenuous work out combined with sedation from an allergy pill. Then I developed some chills – in 40C! My bowels turned to water. I knew I was sick. I went home from work at noon and slept seven hours straight.* No fun this.

Being sick at home sounds quaint when one is healthy. I can skip work, sit still, and catch up with my reading, all the time sipping hot lovely drinks. The reality of illness is there is nothing nice about it. It is pure misery – at least for me. I don’t do sickness well.

When I am sick my appetite goes away. Not only am I not hungry the mere notion of eating anything feels nauseating. I’ve had enough sickness in life to know not eating for a few days doesn’t kill or do permanent damage (no real weight loss either, more’s the pity). Someone’s bedside manner is not the sweet type but the no-nonsense approach. He tries to get me to eat something, I decline, he gets frustrated, and that’s that.  I am a typical Cancer that I am a giant black hole of endless emotional need made worse when I am sick.  Cancers believe they shouldn’t have to tell you what they need because if you really loved me/care for me etc. you would know what to do and to ask for it somehow diminishes the value.  His oh-so-sensible Sagittarian approach ‘Tell me what you want’ falls flat.

Normally a neat person, it seems everything quickly goes to pot in an illness. This morning I woke to a disarray of half consumed cups and everything out of place. Having tossed and turned all night the bedspreads look like they’ve been through a horror-show. It took me some time to locate my book, my phone, and the dog.  I didn’t find Someone. After a thorough search through the sheets I discovered he had gone to sleep in the guest room and I don’t blame him a bit.

Today I feel somewhat better so I ate something and drove to work. I have 2-3 dozen patients to see today but happily they are all ‘med-checks’ and not evaluations so I don’t have to be too impressive-looking or for that matter coherent.  If I should pass out or spike a fever I can always abort go home and back to sleep for another seven hours.

 

*I woke a few times thanks to accidents. Oh the embarrassment.

A friend of mine was recently the victim of a horrible crime. He was assaulted. He is now dealing with the medical, legal, and psychological consequences of such an event. I recently wrote to him. I want to post a copy of what I wrote.  I’ve removed some of the personal bits. I decided to do this on the hopes its contents can do more than help heal a specific person. Perhaps it may help someone else who needs to hear this. Urspo. 

My dear Friend,

Like everyone else who knows about your matter, I too want to reach out and say something – anything – to help you. I am glad to see on Facebook you are surrounded by Love. I thought I would add something else along my area of work. I treat trauma patients; here are some thoughts I hope bring you comfort and hope. 

From what I read on Facebook you are probably having what we shrinks call an Acute Stress Disorder. This is psychobabble to say the obvious: you’ve had a nasty traumatic event which has left you are feeling raw. You seem to be having the usual emotions and behaviors: scared, anxious, despondency, and withdrawn from others, along with poor sleep and paranoia. 

Most people with ASD recover. Really. The symptoms suck and it’s painful but for the majority it all passes other than a bad memory. There are no good studies to predict who is prone to developing ASD after a trauma, or who recovers soon, late, or not at all.   

ASD is not PTSD (post traumatic stress disorder). Both can have nightmares, flashbacks, triggers, hypervigilence, numbness and startles easily. The difference between the two conditions is straw splitting of time. If ASD lasts more than six months it is renamed PTSD. In PTSD the event ‘haunts you’ still despite time and treatments.  

No one really knows why some with ASD go onto to develop PTSD.  None of the variables – trauma type, intensity,  baseline character of the patient – predict who comes out of a trauma relatively unscathed. 

So do not assume the emotions you are feeling now will be permanent. The majority of people ‘get over it’.  Keep hope. 

With that said, there are some things you can do now to better your chances of recovery and to ward off ASD/PTSD. 

1 – Keep in touch with the support network you have. Social support has the most correlation to recovery, wellness, and resilience. Accept all support offers, from someone to cry to at 3AM to the person willing to come in to walk the dog or fix the yard. 

2 – If you are having insomnia or anxiety/panic, avoid tranquilizers. They immediately help but they get in the way of the healing process. If medications are needed, there are others more likely to help in the long run. 

3 – Although it is awful to do, don’t avoid things. Avoidance is understandable but it leads to a slippery slope of isolation.  Get out and get around. Some day – I hope sooner than not – go back to the scene of the crime. Go with friends and go in the day time. Make it a ritual. Call  back your energy and proclaim the place/the bar will no longer dominate you. Perhaps a poem or a reading  may help. Maybe a primal scream is what’s called for , or something along the line “As God is my witness, I shall never go hungry again!” figure it out. 

4 – Avoid Victim energy.  Yes, you were a victim of a legitimate crime which demands Justice, but don’t let it take over. Channel instead Warrior Energy towards social advocacy and awareness.  

5- I know this sounds corny/cliche and it is easier said than done but when given a choice of action or thought choose the positive option. Choice-less, you have a choice now : get better or get bitter. I have no good advice on how you are to do this. It may take a very long time. Take comfort you are not alone on this Journey. 

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This one may be my best-made shirt yet. I am proud that there was not one bungle not one impediment in its making.   I am certain it will become one of my favorites. The fabric is called “Palm Springs”. It takes it inspiration from the retro-style now so popular again. I must get to Palm Springs soon, and parade it up and down Palm Canyon Drive ala Musetta.

I wore it to work yesterday. We were supposed to go out afterwards with a couple from Someone’s work, but they canceled. Someone texted me would I like him to bring my gym bag and we could to exercise. Hell no. I’m not making the shirts debut at LA Fitness. We went to happy hour where I had pink cosmos to match.  I was pleased as Punch.

Today was a Thursday. Thursdays mean the following:

a) I was in the Mesa office.

b) I only saw returning patients (no new ones)

c) I ‘dressed down’ in khaki trousers and a Spo-shirt (purple batik)

Everyone who came in knew me already, so I didn’t have to impress anyone with my ensemble. The APA secret police knew better than to bust in to arrest me for not dressing up to contemporary professional standards, as there is a shortage of psychiatrists especially in the East Valley. A few months ago a local shrink suddenly closed shop much to the dismay and shock of his clientele, all who suddenly needed a new doc ASAP. I think my dance card for newbies is full up for three months.

Last week I saw The Good Doctor for my routine checkup. He was pleased as Punch my systolic blood pressure is down to 112; not too long ago that was my diastolic. I am back on my original blood pressure medication.  My cholesterol panel was also good – stellar in fact. Let’s hear it for austere living, pravastatin, and a daily dose of salubrious tea!

I just finished sewing together another shirt which may be my best and favorite shirt so far. It is made from pink and white fabric of palm fronds in a ‘retro style’ to suggest Palm Springs in the 60s. I must to go to Palm Springs just to show it off by going up and down Palm Canyon Drive ala Musetta.  I have all the attributes of a great opera singer except voice.

Spo-fans may recall I am reading Pepys’ Diary. I am up to 1661. It is a slow process. Mr. Pepys spends a lot of time at his office apparently doing nothing. He also goes to the theatre a lot “which pleased me very much”.  At the moment (February) he has a bad cold ‘which sore vexes me”.  The treatments  for colds from The Restoration Period don’t sound much better than the remedies used today, although there was more sack and claret then. Works for me. I plan to try this next time I have the sniffles. And now to bed.

The pool is no longer cold to discourage swimming. Far from it. It is sufficiently warmed up to make the water almost not refreshing. All the same it makes a nice dip at day’s end. However the pool light must be on lest the Kappa who lurks in the deep dark drags you down to your doom. Just hate when that happens. You would think the chlorine would discourage his lurking about but no such luck. I suppose I should be grateful there just aren’t any scorpions.

I sent an email to The Archetype Women’s Council requesting an inspiration for an entry – a proper one, no rubbish this time. The Board of Directors Here at Spo-Reflections is itching for a hit or my head. [1] I suddenly received “I don’t you write on Public Opinion”.  Dear me, haven’t I written already on this?  A quick review through my blog looks like a ‘no”, so there it is.

Throughout time mankind has always been swayed if not dominated by Public Opinion. It is highly important to use how we are perceived by our Tribe(s). We sting when we are ostracized and we feel good when we are adored. It is the basis for Shame, which is far more primordial than Guilt.  As we evolved from small tribal groups into civilizations so did Public Opinion – and not for the better I may add.  It was bad enough to be anathema in your family, church, or town, but now (thanks to the internet) we have the whole of society if not the world to judge us.  Every day I read about someone being excoriated in the news for something they allegedly said or did. [2]

In the opera “Orpheus in the Underworld” Orpheus is pleased as Punch his harridan of a wife is dead and gone to Hades, but Public Opinion goads him to try to rescue her. Public Opinion is played by a boisterous mezzo-soprano, totally obnoxious but hard to avoid. She threatens to ruin his career if he doesn’t do what she demands. He succumbs. Public Opinion goes with Mr. Orpheus on his journey lest he turn back. I often think of this archetypal image: a person doing something they loathe only because Public Opinion prods them to do so.

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Thems who think they are impervious to Public Opinion are deluding themselves. Try as we can to be our own the Archetype is always there watching and influencing our lives –especially on line. I worry about Public Opinion becoming Law given the power of the internet to gather up billions of people to feed its libido. [3]

 

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[1] It is not clear which would please them more.

[2]  Twitter is Public Opinion personified. For what little time I spend on it, it seems to be THE place to vitiate others with outcries of shame and condemnation.

[3] Well, this was a good one if I may say so myself . I wonder if The Board will agree? More important, will Public Opinion?

I’ve been waiting for some time for some sort of great thought to enter my ears or crawl out from the deep unconscious of my pumpkin. No such luck. It may be my orifices from the neck up are too congested from allergies to allow traffic. They struggle just to let in air.  June seems to be a month of not much going on. My dance card is empty and the cosmic calendar is a blank. I can focus on the mundane things like reading, exercise, and sorting through the books for the ones I can give to the library.

July through October shall be a different matter. I finally cornered Someone to sit down and solidify some weekend excursions, a family wedding, and (happy joy!) a week’s holiday in Canada (Nova Scotia and PEI). Dry times like this month feel less dull when I know there are things for which to look ahead.

Brother #3 tells me Princess-Goddess and Nephew #4 have summers jam-packed and fun-filled; every day seems to be chock-full of activities. He anticipates a lot of running around getting them to and from their activities. This sounds to me like an awful way for the kiddies to spend their summer. I have the vague memory my childhood summers were unstructured with the everyday challenge to figure out what to do. We made it up as we went along and we were often bored. However this produced two delightful consequences:

summers seemed endless

I had plenty of time to imagine.

I don’t envy today’s munchkins whose summers seem more like those of over-worked adults.  It is another part of the bent status symbol ‘busy = importance”.   I don’t know if schools still do the ‘What did I do last summer” writing exercise, but I was secretly thrilled at some level to write ‘Nothing really’.  It is fascinating irony I now face a month of ‘nothing really’ only to feel it as something stagnant to get through.  I will enjoy my future summer travels but they will leave me with the sense that summer just flew by.   It makes one think.

Solitude 1

 

On the whole I prefer hot tea to iced (and either to coffee), for the former has more complexity and the ritual of brewing it is a delight.  However hot beverages are not appetizing in the Southwest summer season.

My weather app shows the temperature will hit 40C (104F) for the first time today. That means it’s time to make my first batch of sun tea. Someone always says the same thing each year when I haul out the glass jar in which I make it: solar tea isn’t ‘safe’ as the temperatures reportedly don’t get high enough to do away with whatever it is that makes it inimical.  In turn I point out he eats raw fish and I proceed.  

I’ve learned over the years not to use quality tea for its nuances are not brought out.  On the other hand, quisquillious tea bags are also a mistake for rubbish tea makes bitter, strong, and one-dimensional solar tea.*

I generally use Barry’s Irish breakfast tea (four bags) for it makes a strong but not too astringent solar brew. It is also rather pretty to watch the sun shine through the glassware, as the water slowly goes from clear to warm, gold, and remarkable. 

One jar usually lasts about a week. Solar tea loses its lustre if kept in the refrigerator for too long, but there is small chance of that happening. 

In contrast to Someone’s warning tea in itself is supposed to have all sorts of salubrious properties, so I think I am doing my health some good for my daily glass. It certainly is one Life’s pleasures – or at least mine.  

Welcome Summer. I am happy for it with my tall sweaty glass of tea, kissed by the sun. 

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*Like my men. 

At university I majored in biology/microbiology; I am a physician; I like to study the history of epidemics.  From this you can surmise I am fascinated by microbes and wee-beasties – particularly the ones who want to kill me. Mind! I am not a ‘germaphobe’. I am not one of those poor sods who feel obliged to carry around hand-sanitizer or refuses to shake hands out of fear of contagion and subsequent death. However I am careful about dirty hands, particularly before handling something to eat. Right after I order food in a restaurant I always announce to Someone now I have to go wash my hands – using proper ‘surgery procedure’ to avoid touching anything after doing so.*

I recently read a literal ‘shit-list’ of dirty items to keep in mind as you touch them.  Many of them are considered more dirty than toilet seats for number of nasties per square-inch.  Most of these filthy things are commonplace items one touches without thought. Door handles and cellphones are notoriously dirty, as are buttons: elevator, microwave, and telephone types.  The lurid list included light switches, doorknobs, and keyboards. 

The points: 

(A) before handing food go wash your hands. 

(B) regularly wash down these offenders with alcohol-based wipes 

I clean my cellphone daily; and I wipe down my work keyboards on a weekly basis.  In contrast I can not remember when I last washed the refrigerator handles (home or work).  The office doorknobs must be handled by 50+ people per day.  I doubt gas station attendees ever wipe down the pump handles.  

So I started (B). Once a week or so I get out the handy-wipes and attend to these sordid objects.  I probably look odd at Einstein Brothers when I use my wrist (not my hand) to operate the public coffee spigot and when I pick up the public cream pot using a paper napkin. 

Someone does none of these things yet he hasn’t succumbed to typhoid or cholera which is the just punishment for thems who don’t wash hands before picking up their breakfast bagel.  At some level this is a disappointment.

Everyone has their comfort levels of course when it comes to the critters. Someone thinks I am tempting fate when I make and drink solar tea rather than using boiling water, while I won’t touch raw fish sushi which he eats with relish.  

Perhaps it is over-kill to wash hands after handling all the machines at the gym etc. but it gives me a quiet satisfaction to do so, particularly after I see in the same gym many men not washing their hands after using the urinal.

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*This entails the following: after a timely hand wash, you turn off the faucets and turn the doorknobs using paper towel or toilet paper. I also use my elbow to push down on the paper towel dispenser.  

“Be careful what you wish for”.

It is my turn to fall victim to this platitude.

Spo-fans know I have issue with the office music.  For thems unfamiliar with my issue I shall explain: To keep people from hearing what’s happening behind the closed doors of the therapists’ office the House Manager has stereo music continually playing in the hallway.  This is well enough but the radio station picked for the problem plays the same tunes over and over. They are mostly Michael Jackson tunes and “Don’t stop believing”. Besides jarring the ambience the tunes drive Urs Truly to distraction.  The wretched tunes repeat several times a day, especially the dreaded “Don’t stop believing”.   Worst of all , starting the day after Thanksgiving, the station starts playing loud saccharine “Holiday tunes” the type that makes one want to take gas. I’ve remonstrated many times the choice of music is inimical to mental health, but to no avail.  When it gets too bad I close my office door and moan.

Until today.

I came in this morning to hear classical music rather than the morning rendition of “Don’t stop believing”.  At first I was delighted. However in time I realized this worse. I have a discriminating ear for classical music. What was being played were the frenzied ‘B” rated classical tunes, the type without depth or appeal.  This is elevator music in E-flat.  The rock tunes I could block out but these. They oblige me to a) name the piece and b) feel how bad these versions are.  They are some recognizable symphonies but only the ‘allegro’ sections and none lasting more than 5-10 minutes. Oh the horror.  I now have to close the door MORE.

Later that morning the chief receptionist dropped by my office beaming with delight, She asked me wasn’t I thrilled with the new music station?  Growing up my Aunt Judy told me liars go straight to hell so I had to think quickly and equivocate. I said it sure is different and quite remarkable.

What to do what to do what to do. When Darren of Bewitched had Uncle Arthur move in to drive away Endora, Mr. Stevens exclaimed to Sam “I prefer your mother any day”.  I may have eat crow and tell her thanks but please switch it back.  Who would have thunk we would see the day I prefer Journey to Telemann?

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