Christmas + Chronic Illness + COVID = X

After being told, erroneously, that this would be my father-in-law’s last Christmas we decided to brave things and try to create as many memories with him as possible. That included having family gatherings.

We all got together for Thanksgiving, during which I found out that 3 people in that group are not vaccinated. I tried to be as careful as I could, but I felt the whole day was irresponsible, and scary.

Now we know that what’s wrong with Dad’s heart will most likely not shorten his life span, we aren’t feeling the need to get us all together again. At first I thought we still should, after all he’s 84, who knows….who knows about any of us really. But now I’m thinking, do we want our memories to be about all of us having COVID? I don’t think so.

I just got back from my physical and my doctor told me that we need to celebrate the best we can, and still be cautious. He told me to stay away from unvaccinated people, especially indoors. The hospitals here are at near capacity. It’s bad.

So a family Christmas is out this year, and I’m okay with that.

I saw a show the other day where a child was trying to share what Christmas meant to an alien. (Dreamworks Home For the Holidays on Netflix) As the story went on the alien tried to share his joy with his fellow aliens, but they didn’t get it and they were really just making a big mess. (much like all the garbage created by Christmas now) Finally the girl realized, Christmas isn’t about all the things, or family, or gatherings, or any of that….Christmas is a feeling. It’s the feeling of magic, kindness, giving, love, joy…..it’s the feeling of having goodness you can believe in.

I like that.

There are so many celebrations this time of year, I kind of put them all under the umbrella of Christmas, it seems others do too.

I want to send glad tidings to you all, no matter how you celebrate the holidays…or don’t, that’s okay too.

Have the best celebrations you can, while still being careful out there.

This year, we’ll do much the same as we always do.

Rainbow lights strung on a wall in a tree shape, with a star on top.

We have our unconventional tree, that includes everyone. (that’s why it has a rainbow glow) We will still watch It’s a Wonderful Life on Christmas Eve while eating Chinese take-out. Still putting together our Peanuts Christmas puzzle and build our various Lego Christmas things (train, tree, Santa….). That should keep us busy! Maybe I’ll even make cookies!

When you are celebrating the holidays remember, it’s not about getting together with family, the gatherings, or any of the preconceived notions that have been pushed down our throats. (Could there possibly be any more romantic Christmas shows?) The holidays are about the feelings. They are about caring for each other, those you know and those you don’t. It’s about giving, not receiving…but I admit receiving that magic is pretty darn special. Let the magic shine in you. The other day while S was working I closed myself off in the studio, played Christmas music and sang at the top of my lungs! I worked on little art projects and just had a magical day, all by myself. It was actually the most magical feeling. Unfortunately I think I’ll have Christmas music stuck in my head until July! Oy Vey!

Please remember that everyone is going through something we don’t see, be kind, reach out if needed.

The holidays is a time when so many are lonely, and depressed. They can’t feel the magic, they can only see how they are left out of it all. Some are sick, poor, or simply alone. If you are feeling this way, please reach out. If you notice anyone feeling this way, or suspect it, reach out. Sometimes simply letting someone know you care and they aren’t alone is enough to help them through this tough time.

Merry Christmas to all!! And to all a Good Night!!

**Little Mini-Me update….the migraine is still here. I had my physical yesterday and my bloodwork looks great! My BP is great! I still hate having High BP disorder in my records, but oh well, at least it seems to be down now….maybe. I saw the retina specialist last week and he said my BP had to have spiked sometime since I saw him last because the vein leaked again. I noticed my vision was worse, but thought it was just that it wasn’t going to get better, not that it was actually worse…that didn’t make much sense did it? So I got another shot in my eye, I’m seeing better! Hope it stays that way, I go back in a few months. I saw the dentist this week, it had been a while…before lockdown….things weren’t horrible, but not as great as I would have liked. I need to see a TMJ specialist because I’m grinding my teeth and she thinks it might be contributing to my migraines. I also have a Tilt Table test set up for the 28th, this is at the clinic in Phoenix. I realize this is a stream of information, I hope it makes sense. Oh, found out yesterday that my therapist is retiring in March. I’m sad about that. I feel like I’m losing a good friend.

Canceling Christmas and that’s okay.

Today we are officially canceling Christmas dinner. We were supposed to be hosting dinner for the family at our house this Saturday night, but plans needed to be changed because of my health. It was hard for me to admit it at first, but finally I realized, even if, by some miracle, I could get it all done, I would not be well enough to enjoy it. The probability that I’d end up in bed during the whole thing was high. So, as I prepared to have a “talk” about cancelling Christmas with Stuart, he proceeded to tell me that he felt we needed to do so. So glad we are a team.

For years now we’ve worked at making Christmas our own. We stepped back from the hustle and bustle and spent time together doing our special things. This year, we are in much closer proximity to his family and I really wanted to do something special for his dad, so Christmas dinner was planned. Then I got sicker and sicker with a UTI and more, and suddenly this Christmas started to feel like an albatross around my neck. I desperately wanted it, but my health simply did not agree, and I’ve come to understand that it’s perfectly okay to cancel plans when you need to. If anyone is disappointed or upset because of this change of plans, then I’m not sure I’d want them at my house anyway. (We are going to try to do the dinner on the 29th, but if I can’t, I can’t. Playing that one by ear.)

I feel like this whole experience has made me get back to my mindfulness practice, and Buddhist studies (I consider myself Buddhist inspired). Letting go of the plans for Christmas, not focusing on what may be with my health, just living life moment to moment as best I can, that is where I like to be, I feel like I lost that somewhere along the way.

Mala Beads.

For the past year I’ve had this bracelet that helps you meditate, it is based on Mala beads, but on a much smaller scale. Mine has 21 beads, where a true Mala has 108. Mala beads are used to count mantras when meditating, I think if it kind of like a Rosary. I have used mine at times when I have a few moments to meditate, I simply hold a bead between my fingers and take a deep breath in and out and then move on to the next bead. Sometimes I’ll focus on counting, or a single word or phrase. It has helped me with anxiety and being centered. I realized just how much I had gotten away from my mindfulness practice when I stopped using my beads. Recently I had a mammogram and I had to take my jewelry off, I had almost everything off already, Stuart was holding it for me, but I had my beads on. I had to take them off, so I put them with my clothes. When I got home I realized I didn’t have my beads. They are very inexpensive and don’t look like much, so no one would have saved it. I was devastated. I had just started using it again and it was helping me through this tough time, and suddenly it was gone. I ordered a new one, but it was different. It didn’t feel right. This week Stuart surprised me with a new one just like my old one. I will be using it often now, I’m so very glad I found this way of simply letting the world go for a little bit. I often get anxious when meditating because I can’t tell how much time has passed, by counting my beads, I have a know that completing one round is a good amount of time, I used to be afraid I’d look at the clock and only a minute had passed, this is a perfect solution.

Another tool I’ve used for a long time that I’m using more often now is chanting. This is not for everyone, some find it much more religiously centered. I don’t really. I do try to practice the Buddha’s teachings, but I don’t feel I really know enough to call myself a Buddhist. I try not to talk about religion on my blog, I respect one and all. I feel we all have the same basic beliefs, we want to be happy and want the same for others. In other words, do good and good comes back to you. I think you should do good no matter what, but again, I’m getting off subject. (and at this time in I’m not sure how many people agree with any of that)

About the chanting. I learned a chant when I was taking yoga, many moons ago, and it stuck with me. Whenever I have a bad spell Stuart and I will chant this chant.

Oṃ bhūr bhuvaḥ svaḥ

tát savitúr váreṇyaṃ

bhárgo devásya dhīmahi

dhíyo yó naḥ pracodáyāt

Translation:

 (O) Supreme one; (who is) the physical, astral (and) causal worlds (himself).

 (you are) the source of all, deserving all worship

 (O) radiant, divine one; (we) meditate (upon you)

Propel our Intellect (towards liberation or freedom)

I can’t really remember how to pronounce the last two stanzas, but we know the first two by heart and I find them very comforting when I’m in a lot a pain, or having vertigo so very bad. It doesn’t really matter to me what the meaning is, it’s the chant itself that helps. When in pain I chant this and sway back and forth, it honestly helps. Since I had the akathesia side effects last Spring I rock myself to sleep. I simply cannot be still. Since I’ve been so sick, I find myself repeating this mantra every night. That or the Lord’s prayer, which is kind of funny to me.

The next 2 paragraphs are all about my current health condition, feel free to skip it, but if you are interested, here goes:

As many of you will know from my previous post, I’ve been fighting a UTI since late November. I’ve been through 3 rounds of antibiotics and I had another infection from a cyst removal on my scalp that still hasn’t healed. (that procedure was done the third week of November, over a month now). You may also recall that I’ve been going through a Bipolar mixed stated mania phase, and had to change my medication a couple of times. Yesterday I saw the doctor again. I was running a fever, but not incredibly high. My pulse and BP were a little high, nothing worrisome. I have been having severe stomach pain with retching (very little vomiting, just heaving horribly) and the nausea has been so severe, I just can’t express that feeling. My bladder and back still hurt. She also checked my wound and it is still draining, but it’s yellow now. ewww. She’s a little concerned about the possibility of sepsis, since I have infections in 2 places that haven’t healed, but I don’t have that high of a temperature and I should be either vomiting or having diarrhea, and I’m having neither. I’m had my blood drawn just in case. I also had a urninalisis, so far it shows that my UTI is clearing, but I have blood in my urine, so I go to have a kidney/bladder ultrasound tomorrow morning. (At 11:30 in the morning, after no food or drink for 8 hours then drinking at least 32 oz of water before the test without peeing. Talk about torture.)

She thinks this has all probably been caused by adding too many medications at one time and they didn’t play nice together. Stopping the antibiotics will hopefully set it straight. Of course, that wouldn’t explain the blood in my urine, but why worry, it is what it is.

*the first image was created using imgflip.com the second image comes from https://chopra.com/articles/the-benefits-and-uses-of-mala-beads I believe each are open source photos.