Legal Record

legal padA woman brought a pack of papers to me.  They were folded nicely.  Obviously fragile, I carefully unfolded them.  The creases were worn and delicate.  The legal size paper had shades of pale yellow and white contrasting against each other.  Her tidy handwriting stood out against the background of the paper.  Every line had an entry.  The year and the date were listed first and went back in chronological order.  Seven pages of entry over time.

She had listed every test, procedure and medical appointment she had.  To the side she made some small notations as to the outcome.  It was quite impressive.  I wondered if I could recall every appointment and the outcome for the past seven to ten years.  I smiled to myself at her fastidiousness and pondered what I should do with the information.  She had brought it to me in response to our facility asking for her immunization record.

I put it on my desk, not quite knowing what to do with the information.  I was enthralled by it.  It made me smile and brought a little joy as I looked at it.  I had something so carefully crafted by someone.  She had entrusted me with information about her life gathered over time.  It was her journey through healthcare.  It was her diary or journal in a sense.

I realized how important and precious it was.   She had carried it on her way to see her obstetrician and her cardiologist.  Her trials and struggles to maintain her health were documented.  The little “ok” stenciled beside tests gave my heart hope.  As she aged she kept trying to keep the health she had.  Then she had come to us.  Letting go of her journal was letting go of some of her control.  Some of her independence had gone and it is such a rare commodity.

I picked up the papers and had them copied to put in her chart.  It was better than any request for medical records could ever give me.  I needed to give it back to her.  She had let me see a glimpse of her path, but it belonged to her.  Her life belongs to her. As much delight as it gives me to see someone work to save what they love, it’s for her to manage.  I owe it to her to give her what she needs to make the most of it.  Give her the control back of keeping track.

We all have mementos of journey through life.  This is hers.  I gave it back, hoping she has the strength to continue documenting and that she will make an entry saying that she is back at home.

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Life in the Middle

I just finished cleaning my bathroom floor.  While that may be a task that is tiresome and uncomplicated, it wasn’t for me.

If you’ve been following, you’ll know I recently met a goal of significant weightmiddle loss.  Along with this comes new adventures long lost.  I get to wear shorts and feel comfortable in them.  However, my legs are almost neon white.  So I got a little spray on self tanner to help out.  It had a bronzer in it and when I sprayed it on my shins it looked fantastic.  So, I kept going.  A little spray here, then even out this part there.  I ended up spraying my whole body, even my back.  I used the entire spray can.  (I just want to add it looked great.)  I let my skin dry and went to bed.

I woke up and looked in the mirror.  I thought I still looked great.  Then I went into the bathroom to shower.  My white tile floor was a rusty brown color.  It didn’t look nearly as great as I thought my legs did.  Here I was tonight, cleaning up the bronzer off the floor.  It came up fairly easily, but I had to mop three times and to the point where I did part of it on my hands and knees.  As I was cleaning, I thought that perhaps I was the only person who would’ve done this.  This is not my first episode of cleaning up something or putting it right after I’ve gone a little overboard.

I pondered why I continue to do things like this.  As I was cleaning,  it became a little housework therapy.  I was not exactly pleased with what my end conclusion was.  I have Bipolar Disorder.  I have experienced life in the extremes.  Just like the mood swings between depression or mania, so have other things been in my life.

I view things black or white.  There is no gray for me.  In fact, that gray area makes me uncomfortable.  The middle road is often unfamiliar to me and feels like a vast wilderness with no direction.  I know I can deal with things when they are super powered and to the extreme.  I’ve had to do it and in a way I welcome the challenge.  I can focus all my energy and thoughts on that one issue or thing.  The problem with that is that the rest of my life suffers.

I like to look at my life in a positive way.  Even if something is unpleasant, I re-frame it in my mind so that it something good will come of it.  For example, losing a job can be horrific, but it may be God opening up a new chapter in your life or helping you grow personally.  I categorize life’s areas into degrees of good.

There is a saying that a little bit of a good thing goes a long ways.  I couldn’t help thinking today that a little bit of bronzer certainly went longer and further than I could have imagined.

One cup of coffee is so nice, but too much and you’re jittery and have diarrhea.  One piece of chocolate is delightful, but a whole bag of candy makes you feel sick, you stuff your emotions and you gain weight.  Forty hours of work a week pays the bills, but seventy-six hours a week and you have no social life and you wear yourself out.  One glass of wine is tasty and a social event, four glasses and you can get a DUI.  One date with your new significant other is so fun, but fifty in a row can ruin the relationship.  Sex feels great, but too much and you lose the emotional intimacy and it becomes commonplace. Even the good things in your life can turn and bite you back.

The problem with always having something good is that you want more.  You want to top that “good” and make it excellent.  I don’t think we should settle.  I just think that we have to balance out our focus on the good things so other areas don’t fall into decay.

I tried to think of something that was good that you could never get enough of.  Prayer came into my mind.  Certainly we can never pray enough.  But God never intended us to only pray and perhaps isolate.  He does want to commune with us, but He never meant for us to be alone.  You have to be with the Body of Christ and go out and touch people’s lives.

Life has to be balanced out.  I realize my brain works a little differently than others.  Perhaps I have allowed it to color my view on reality. Sometimes life has been very hard for me, so I do allow myself to have and do good things without feeling guilty.  I give myself a break from the cruelty that can be life.

I know that if I keep things maintained in other areas, just a little bit, my whole life runs smoother.  I think this concept comes naturally to some.  However, you don’t have to have a mental illness to live life in the extreme areas.

The middle of gray can be downright boring.  Instead of going with gusto at your current passion, you have to think first.  That’s no fun.  If you can stop and think for a second, your goal can be reached faster and you can go further.

When you travel in the black and white areas, you miss out on the calm serenity of the gray.  You can be blinded by the white so you don’t see things you need to do.  The blackness can cause you to stumble and get caught in the weeds.

Slow and steady can win the race.  One day at a time…

I’m not really someone to go slow and taking one day at a time seems fruitless.  I want to take ninety days.  If I can stop and smell the roses, I will appreciate where the gray road takes me even more.  That one piece of chocolate will be enough to satisfy me.  I won’t dread work, because it isn’t consuming my life.  I just need to take a moment and breath.  Do things for the experience and not for the end result.

If over spraying self-tanner can get me to think about this and change my life for the better, than I am one lucky person.  I might just buy another can, but spray with moderation in mind.

 

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Serengeti in the Midwest

The scenery in every part of the world varies greatly.  I live in an area that is mostly described as flat and treeless.  Some people might think it is boring.  It doesn’t have the grand and majestic steep angles of the Swiss Alps.  There is not a sandy beach with clear blue waters.  That doesn’t mean it’s not beautiful.

When I see the sweeping plains in the pale yellow  contrasting with the wide open sky, it is calming and clears my mind.  But as I drive to work, I often look at what is along those plains.   There is one moment that takes my breath away.

There is a view where the storm clouds descend.  Western Nebraska has changing weather that can turn on a dime.  It is a common joke, but creates a great sky.  Even after living here, I can look at the clouds and predict the weather.  I hardly need a weather report.  The smell and view of the mist and buildup above works better.

The grey of an impending thunderstorm and  darkens the bluffs, obscuring the view of the top.  It casts a shadow on the pale sandstone and turns them a deep purple.  The cold air blasting down causes steam to rise from the ground.

The mist begins to rise off the newly green grass of spring and I look into the valley where the river runs.  The train with it’s beat up cargo cars snakes along the side of the slowly flowing waters.  The trees are a stark contrast against the light mist of the sky.  Their black branches with barely visible leaves starkly stand out against the changing sky.

This visual transports me to another place and possibly another time.  I’ve traveled around the world, but never to Africa.  My Western Nebraska life is temporarily time warped.  It looks like what I would imagine the Serengeti might be like.

I don’t necessarily have a desire to travel there, but I always have a desire for new places and experiences.  The every changing landscape is a delight to me.  No matter where you live, there are pluses and minuses.  It is definitely a blessing that things change quickly here and if I can be transported to another place on my way to work, it’s a moment I wouldn’t change. Remember, beauty is in the eye of the beholder.

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The Body

Hewitt Bruce, Betty FischI’m a nurse in a nursing home.  Most people think that nursing home’s are just for “old” people, or the geriatrics.  That’s not true, but admittedly a majority of my patients are over seventy.  I am not only their nurse, but I watch them and learn.It’s changed my mind about age.

Seventy seems young to me now.  I have realized that there is so much life after you retire, even after you enter a nursing home.  Life still goes on  I’ve noticed that some of my oldest patients take the least amount of medication.  I see light in their eyes and spunk even when others think life has gone, as in having a diagnosis of Alzheimer’s.  I see love and friendships begin with their peers.

I find it amazing that most of them do some sort of physical activity everyday.  They may be in the “sunset” of their life, but they aren’t living like that.  They live for everyday.  They try to preserve what they have.

Today I heard a song on the radio, “Talking Body” by Tove Lo.  I have heard it before and slightly listened to the lyrics.  I wasn’t impressed and today when I heard it I was probably appalled or angry.  It’s hard to say.

The song is about having the perfect body.  It talks about using our bodies just for fun and until every piece is gone.  I don’t think our bodies are to be used.  While having fun is great, that’s not all that our bodies are about.

I see people fighting to keep what body they have.  People going to therapy just to regain and improve what their bodies can do.  I think even I wish I could use my body just for fun.

You’re body isn’t meant to be used until everything is gone.  It’s the term “use” that I object to.  Don’t use your body.  Cherish it.  Keep it healthy.  Once you lose something, it really is gone.  That’s what the song doesn’t talk about.  If you lose the ability to walk, you rarely get to walk again.  You get a walker or a cane, maybe a wheelchair.  I think many of my residents would like to not use a walker.

In an age where I see more advertisements for healthy food and people talking about “green” eating, society is perhaps thinking about making good choices for their bodies.  It could be because they want to feel better, but in the long run it saves them.

The song perfectly maps out society’s thoughts about youth.  It reminds me of college and learning that in your teens you think you are invincible.  You’re not.  Make your body work for you and make good choices.  It won’t be around forever.  The song promotes just using your body to make you feel good.  Sometimes your body doesn’t make you feel good.

Instead of using it, preserve it.  I’m not saying to clamp down on the fun in your life.  Just look ahead to what you might be doing when you’re eighty years old.  There is life and you want to be able to have fun at that age, too.

I know one thing, I see people fight everyday for independence and their choices.  That generation has perseverance and spunk.  The biggest thing I know is that you don’t get to be 104 years old without some vinegar in your blood.

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From Thin to Fat and Back Again

You don’t usually hear weight loss in those terms.  It’s usually the other way around, but there are people who fluctuate in their size.   In my lifetime I have been very skinny with long blonde hair and beyond obese with short dark hair.  I have lived both sides.

I’m watching Drop Dead Diva on Netflix.  I enjoy being able to watch a series in it’s entirety.  It’s an extended mini-series.  I can get lost in the life portrayed.  This drama has significance for me now.  It’s about a thin model who gets transferred into an overweight lawyer’s body.  In the show, her innate niceness combines with her newly acquired brains as a counselor.  She has more confidence and is enjoying her new smarts, but she is surprised by the stigma she faces with obesity.  Well, I had brains at both times.  But I didn’t have self confidence when I was heavier.

I actually concentrated more on my inner self when I was overweight, or I’ll just say it…fat.  I felt uncomfortable and unattractive being overweight.  I felt like people judged me and saw me as less worthy of things.  People would say I was nice or easy to talk to, but I didn’t hear the comments about being desirable.  I’m not entirely sure if it was my own perception or it was true.

Right now, I’m thinner.  I’m within my BMI.  I can wear clothes in regular sizes and most importantly I have more energy.  The body I have now I would’ve died for a few years ago, but many years ago I would’ve found it unpleasant.  I think I’m somewhere in the healthy middle.

I would think that having had confidence in who I am inside combined with a physique that I feel less self conscious would be a great thing.  But I feel uncomfortable at my new weight.  I look in the mirror and don’t recognize myself sometimes.  I don’t want to think I look too good, because I don’t think people will take me seriously.  I should be proud of how much weight I’ve lost over two years, but that’s a number I don’t want to share.  I’m embarrassed to admit I let myself get to that point.

The stereotypes are true about body and image.  People do perceive you differently. I wish I didn’t know the truth about it.  More so I wish I didn’t have the same ideals in my head that I believe society has.  Perhaps the whole problem lies within myself.

As I try to maintain my new weight and be healthier, I am thinking about my self image.  It has to change.  I need confidence at either weight.  The reverse can also be true to read that people are sexy being heavier and not sexy when they are thinner.  It is about what you radiate from inside.

It’s not wrong to look good.  It doesn’t make me lazy to not take care of myself.  It meant I was struggling.  I think for myself I need to concentrate on the bigger picture.  That would be to lose the perception of who I am based on how I look.  That’s not just overcoming what I believe society thinks, but what I think.  It’s knowing what makes me feel better and what will be good in the long run.  I do need to take care of my body.  It’s the only one I have and I have, but my mind also needs regular tune ups. If I can only figure out what to do with all these clothes, I have them in every size.

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