DAD’S PROFOUND SAYINGS

Dad

My father, a.k.a Superman, was a very intelligent man with a great engineering mind.  He was passionate about his beliefs including his faith in God.  He was a well-rounded individual enjoying art, opera, architecture, and poetry.  He was skilled in repairing or building anything from home appliances, our garage, the computer, to the DNA molecule I had to make for a school project.  Anyone who knew him would say he was rough on the outside but caring on the inside.  They would also agree he was quite a character with a sense of humor.  Well, he thought he was funny, anyways.  Being a three-time cancer survivor, he still found things to laugh about during his treatments.  So, to honor my Superman on Father’s Day I am sharing his top five profound sayings.

DAD’S TOP FIVE PROFOUND SAYINGS:

  1. “He’s got all his marbles but his bag is ripped”

He often expressed this when he thought a person was being illogical.

  1. Don’t leave mad, just leave“.

He would say this when I was mad because he would not allow me to do something I wanted to do.

  1. “I see your intentions of killing the cow”.

He said this when he prophesied something bad was about to happen.  It was funnier when he said it in Spanglish (Spanish and English together)

  1. “You got to laugh about something”.

Even in a most difficult situation, he still found something to laugh about.

  1. Don’t tell your mother!”

Of course he said this when he was about to something he should not be doing!

 

THE CHRONIC CHILD – PART 2

Continued from two weeks ago…

Once I stopped taking the experimental drug at age eight, I no longer needed to stay in the hospital during the summer.  The only thing I needed to take was anti-seizure medication and see my Neurologist periodically to have an EEG done.  Now we could take a real vacation to the beach instead of our usual trip to the hospital!

It is hard to describe what it was like being a child while enduring all those medical tests.  Eventually I think I developed a sense of detachment.  When I went to the doctor or had a test done I could feel my brain “detach”.  It was like I was on the outside of my body looking into the room.  This was a coping mechanism I established to remove my feelings from the situation.  This allowed me to stay calm and get the test over with so I could move on with my day.

My adolescent years were a little better for me socially.  I had a small network of friends from church and a few friends at school.  I still often felt different from them and misunderstood.  They couldn’t identify with having medical tests and going to doctors frequently.  All they had to focus on was doing schoolwork.  They didn’t have the additional worries my illness caused:  what will happen to me next, what other tests are going to be done on me, did I take my medicine today?  Like most adolescents, my friends would tease and make jokes about me.  It reminded me of the teasing I received when I was younger due to the side effects of the special medicine I took.  To them it was just a joke but it broke down my self-confidence.  The banter just made me feel worse about myself.  You would think I would use my detaching mechanism at this point but I didn’t.

This caused more isolation.  I would say that the main issue I developed from my illness as a child is seclusion.  I would still spend time with my close friends but I did not enjoy meeting new people or being in a social situation.  I did not like being in a group situation where I needed to be outgoing.  I preferred to sit in a corner by myself.  The comfort of being alone followed me into adulthood.  Although the classes were larger in college, I still chose to stay to myself most of the time.  I found a few new friends and hung out with them most of the time.  I was always the quiet one in the group when we needed to work on a project.  This also reflected my lack of self-confidence.  In addition, being insecure might have resulted in lower grades.  I didn’t have confidence in what I was capable of doing.  Even after I married I stayed to myself.  I had to move to a new city and found it difficult to find a close friend

As an adult, I was diagnosed with new illnesses, Diabetes and Thyroid diseases.  Once one becomes an adult medical issues are more common.  Still it is difficult for one to comprehend being ill for an entire life.  Even though I was in my twenties, I was already tired of being sick.  Yes I was used to having tests and doctor appointments but now I had to deal with new challenges with chronic illness.  First of all, these illnesses will never go away.  In addition to that there was added stress of a full-time job, marriage and maintaining a household.  I lost time going to appointments and taking medication.  Being ill was an inconvenience.

I didn’t realize it at the time but my first round of Depression came during a difficult period with my Thyroid disease.  Finally after years of being ill I had to grieve for the time I lost due to being sick.  It wasn’t until several years later that I discovered that was what my Depression was about, grief.  I always thought I accepted being sick but actually I was in denial.  Maybe those years of isolation were not just a lack of self-confidence.  Maybe it was a mask for hiding denial of my medical challenges.  It appeared I accepted my situation, taking medications and going to doctors like I was supposed to but actually I resented having to live with problems that others didn’t have to deal with on a daily basis.  It was time for me to grieve all the feelings I tried to deny:  anger of not having a “normal” life, fear of not being good at something, and sadness for the battles I had to fight.  Ultimately, after years of therapy, I can now accept my life with all its complications.  I have opened up more socially and feel confident in everything I do.  I often wonder how things would have transpired if I had counseling at a younger age.  Would I have reached acceptance sooner rather than in my forty’s?  I guess I will never know.  I have learned a great deal from my struggles and wouldn’t have it any other way.

THE CHRONIC CHILD – PART 1

I was born with a rare medical condition which caused many hospital stays and a need to take an experimental medication during my childhood.  Even after I was taken off the medication at eight years old I still had to endure many doctor visits and take other medication to control the Epilepsy I developed as a result of my infancy trauma.  I was treated for Epilepsy until I was fifteen years old.  Since then, I have been diagnosed with Diabetes, Thyroid disease, Psoriasis, Psoriatic Arthritis, and Fibromyalgia therefore; I have been chronically ill my entire life.  I often wonder how much the trauma I went through as a child has affected me now as an adult.  It is difficult to discern whether certain aspects of how I respond to life events are just because it is my personality by nature or if it is a direct response to the complications I experienced in my early years.

Let’s review what occurred in my youth.  When I was six weeks old the doctors did surgery to remove most of my pancreas due to the fact I had extremely low blood sugars which caused seizures and comas.  The surgery did not fix my problem so they gave me an experimental drug.  I stayed in the hospital for most of the first year of my life.  My mother stayed with me, my father had to work, so my siblings were cared for by our grandmothers.  Each summer for the next eight years of my life, my family would travel 2-1/2 hours to a hospital where I was being treated.  I would stay for the week with my mother while they tried to take me off the medication.  My father would stay with my brother and sister at a nearby hotel.  I can’t imagine how my siblings felt being separated from our mother most of the time.  I am sure it was difficult for them especially for my brother who was only five years old when I was born.  I recall one instance during a hospital stay.  There was a little boy in the room next to mine.  He started crying hysterically because his mother was going to leave.  I asked my mom, “Why is she leaving him”?  She said, “She has to go to work, she can’t stay”.  I remember feeling so bad for him because he was going to be alone.  I was so lucky, my mother was with me all the time!  Consequently, I developed an extraordinary attachment to my mother.

The experimental drug I took caused side effects of swollen gums and excessive hair growth.  I remember kids teasing me about my gums and asking me why I was so hairy.  At first I would tell them I was sick but they didn’t understand so I would just ignore the comments.  This led to isolation because I thought no one wanted to play with me.  I did have a few friends but I got used to being alone and preferred it that way.  I often felt misunderstood.  It was too much work to try to fit in so I chose to be by myself.  Because of this behavior I was known as the sweet, quiet child.

My youth was filled with blood tests, doctors, hospitals and EEG’s, electroencephalograms.  You would think these type of events would scare a child but it was normal to me.  I didn’t know what life was like without having these procedures.  I guess children are more resilient than adults.  I went along with whatever was done to me.  It’s not like I had a choice though.  In between all of these procedures I still went to school and liked to ride my bike in the backyard.  Learning in school was always a challenge for me.  Now looking back, I think I struggled with overcoming school issues because I was already dealing with the medical issues.  I was tired of fighting so when I was faced with another trial I would shut down saying, “I can’t do it”.  My parents would spend a lot of time helping me with schoolwork.  I felt guilty because I knew they had to be exhausted from their efforts but I just couldn’t endure more difficulties.  It was too stressful.

To be continued…

MONTHLY MUSE – NOT MY CIRCUS, NOT MY MONKEYS

April is Stress Awareness Month.  Everyone experiences stress in life.  Stress is the feeling one gets when one is put under pressure.  This can be from a positive lifesaving event such as saving a person from a burning house or a negative event such as getting mad at a family member.  There are external stressors such as work, traffic, relationships which cannot be controlled.  Then there are internal stressors, those that can be controlled, such as fear, anticipation, or lack of sleep.  I have discovered that the key to handling stress is not trying to eliminate it but learning how to respond to it.

For a person with chronic illness it is especially important to control stress because it can make one’s condition worse.  Stress can cause physical symptoms such as increased blood pressure, high blood sugar, muscle tension and inflammation.  In my case, stress makes it more difficult for me to manage my Diabetes due to a rise in blood sugar.  It also creates pain because I suffer from Psoriatic Arthritis and Fibromyalgia which are aggravated by inflammation in the body.  Therefore, it is important for me to limit the about of stress I experience.

I have learned a few ways to handle stress.  One thing I have learned is to only focus on a situation that affects me directly.  As the saying goes, “not my circus, not my monkeys”.  This idiom really helped realize how much anxiety I feel because I am feeding off of someone else’s issue.  For instance, if my co-worker has a problem I of course want to help but I shouldn’t use all my time to solve my co-worker’s problem.   Instead, I can offer my suggestions and then allow my co-worker to decide the outcome.  This allows me to still help but not take on the burden of another person’s issue.  In addition, this reduces my stress by allowing me to focus on my own work rather than burden myself with an additional task.

The second aspect I have learned is about attitude.  If I go into a situation with a negative outlook the outcome will seem negative.  On the other hand having a positive view will often produce a positive result.  For example, I wake up in the morning thinking “I don’t want to face the day today”.  What usually happens is I end up having a bad day with low productivity.  But, if I wake up feeling ready to accomplish my task list I will more than likely complete my goals for the day.  So, if there is a situation that causes tension and I take on that matter with a good attitude, I will feel less anxious about the circumstances.

The final factor I have learned to deal with is worrying.  Worrying is a synonym of stress.  I used to worry about how I handled situations.  Did I handle it appropriately?  What do others think of me?  I also contemplated about my future.  Am I making the wrong decisions that will affect my future?  What will happen to me as a result of all my illnesses?  A technique I learned from my therapist is Mindfulness Mediation.  This helps me to focus on the present moment by allowing my thoughts to come into my mind then float by like the clouds in the sky.  While thoughts come in and out I concentrate on my current breathing pattern rather than the thoughts.  This trains my mind to focus only on what was happening at the moment.  Things that happened in the past are over and cannot be changed, so what is the purpose of ruminating on it?  Things in the future haven’t happened yet so why ponder it?  This does not mean we cannot plan for the future, it just means not to hoard one’s thoughts with it.

To sum it up. here are my thoughts about stress.  I cannot eliminate stress but by having a positive mindset and focusing on myself in the current moment, I can limit how stress affects me negatively.  I hope these techniques can help others in dealing with stress and thinking about stress as a positive rather than a negative.

SUNDAY SUPPER – EGG ROLL BOWLS

Ingredients

  • 7 ounces ground pork (Feel free to sub ground chicken like I did or 93% lean ground turkey.)
  • 3 tablespoons reduced-sodium soy sauce
  • ½ small onion, chopped
  • 2 garlic cloves, minced
  • ½-1 teaspoon grated fresh ginger (depending on your ginger love)
  • 2½ cups finely sliced napa or green cabbage
  • 2 cups finely sliced baby bok choy
  • ½ cup shredded carrots
  • 2½ ounces sliced shiitake mushrooms
  • 1 tablespoon Chinese rice wine or dry sherry
  • ½ teaspoon toasted sesame oil
  • 1-2 medium scallions, sliced, for garnish
  • 2 tablespoons chopped peanuts (optional)

Instructions

  1. Set a large nonstick skillet or wok over medium-high heat. Add the pork and 1 tablespoon of the soy sauce and cook, using a wooden spoon to break the meat into small pieces as it browns, about 3 minutes.
  2. Add the onion, garlic, and ginger and cook stirring, until the vegetables are soft, 2 to 3 minutes.
  3. Add the cabbage, bok choy, carrots, and mushrooms. Pour in the remaining 2 tablespoons soy sauce, the rice wine, and sesame oil. Cook, stirring occasionally, until the cabbage and bok choy are wilted but still crunchy, 3 to 4 minutes. Serve hot, garnished with scallions and peanuts (if using).

http://domesticate-me.com/egg-roll-bowls/

LOVE ME CHALLENGE DAY 30 – WHAT HAVE LEARNED FROM THIS CHALLENGE?

This challenge has solidified what is important.  I love my husband (not that I didn’t before!) my family, my dog and now myself.  I have learned that besides all the heartache and complications I have encountered, I have a beautiful life.  I have finally learned that comparing my life to others isn’t what is important.  What is important is that I have happiness, passion, and a joy within my soul.