Mindfulness Monday – Storm

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Monsoons 2018, by W. Holcombe. all rights reserved

 

“You can’t calm the storm,

so stop trying.

What you can do is

calm yourself.

The storm will pass.”

~ Timber Hawkeye

 

“You will not be

the same after the

storms of life;

You will be stronger,

wiser and more alive

than ever before!”

~ Bryant McGill

 

“The great benefit of

practicing mindfulness…

is the presence of mind

within a storm

 of emotions.”

~ Phillip Moffitt

 

*photo was taken in Tucson, AZ , off my front porch, during monsoon season 2018.  It’s am amazing time, I wish I could get better pictures for you.  The monsoons are full of beauty and power, but…another of it’s secret powers is to cause super duper migraines.  Ahh.  Please do not use this image without permission.

 

 

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Visiting Aqua Caliente Park

Today we visited Aqua Caliente Park, it’s located on East Roger Road in Tucson, AZ. I never expected to see anything like this in the desert. Funny though, I saw several oasis in the Sonoran Desert outside of Palm Springs, CA; when we lived there, yet I never expected to see it here.

You can read about this park on the Pima County website, but I’d like to share some of the sites I saw there, I hope you enjoy them.

First you’ll find the Flora, followed by the Fauna.  (some of the plants are not actually native, but they’ve been here a very long time)

 

 

The fish in the photo by himself was a monster!  If anyone knows what kind of fish he is I’d love to know.  I’m pretty sure he’s not a catfish; if he is, he looks different than SC or NC catfish.  🙂   ***I just read that the part has grass carp and bass in it, I think this might be a carp.  I think it should be noted that none of the fish or turtles are native.  However, here are many bird species that call this place home.

The frog was also huge!  Bigger than my foot! He was so patient and let us take a photo of him, there was another frog close by, but he didn’t want his picture taken so he jumped in the water very fast.

I had severe migraines all week, I was lucky enough to have a few hours respite and a few more hours with the pain reduced enough that I could function, still at a slower pace and I was probably a cranky bitch at times, but I’m grateful I was able to enjoy part of the weekend.

*I have one last photo to share, but I’ll save that for Mindfulness Monday 😉

**Remember all photos and artwork on Picnic with Ants are personal property and are not to be shared without permission from the creator.  (in this case, Wendy Holcombe took all the above photos and is the sole owner of all rights)

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Meaningful Monday – Suffering

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“Suffering has been stronger than all other teaching,

and has taught me to understand what your heart used to be.

I have been bent and broken, but

—I hope—

Into a better shape.”

Charles Dickens, Great Expectations

“There is the solitude of suffering,

when you go through darkness that is

lonely, intense, and terrible.

Words become powerless to express your pain;

what others hear from your words is

so distant and different from what you are actually suffering.”

John O’Donohue, Anam Cara: A Book of Celtic Wisdom

We must look deeply in order to understand

the needs, aspirations, and suffering

of the person we love.

This is the ground of real love”

~ Thich Nhat Hanh

 

*photo by W. Holcombe.  Baby Opuntia (prickly pear) Cactus.  Please do not use without permission.

I did things a little differently this week, the not all of the quotes would be considered “mindful”, but I felt they were more meaningful this week.

 

 

Quick update…much more to come

I’m tired.

I sat down to write this and all I can think is, “I’m tired”.  Hell, I’d say I’m pretty exhausted, and I still have so much to do.  Just praying I can accomplish much more before I completely collapse.

On the 23rd the movers came and packed up our house to move us from North Carolina to Arizona.  We started our trek across the country the next day.  We had planned to take it slow, drive about 4-5 hours a day, as long as we got there sometime this week we thought that would be fine.  After the second day we got word that our stuff would be arriving in Tucson on Tuesday (the 29th), if we drove 8 hours a day for the next couple of days we would be there in time.  It wasn’t a huge deal if we weren’t there when everything arrived, we had people who could take care of it for us, but I could tell that the thought of us not being there when they unloaded was stressing Stuart a little, so we decided to make it happen.  We arrived the afternoon of the 28th, and our stuff arrived at 8:30am the next day.

The trip here was pretty uneventful, just a few little things bare mentioning.  For most of the trip I had a stomach ache.  Gastritis was hitting me hard.  I could only handle bland food.  That’s a little challenging when you are driving across the country with a little dog and have an allergy to wheat.  I ate a lot of oatmeal and baked potatoes.  One night I did venture out and had steamed chicken and broccoli with rice…no sauce, and I did okay with it.  I’m happy to say that my stomach calmed down now after we got here, I even had a piece of pizza.  The pain in my stomach was so bad the first day that I seriously considered going to the ER, but I just had an endoscopy done and it only showed gastritis, so I was pretty sure it was just flaring.  (Gastritis is a general term for a group of conditions with one thing in common: inflammation of the lining of the stomach.)  I have been wondering why my stomach hurt so much on this trip and the only thing that I can think of that was different was that I stopped taking turmeric last week.  (I know you are all thinking, stress, but I have been under a lot of stress the past month and I haven’t had a stomach ache)  I’d been taking tumeric for months (maybe a year) for inflammation, but I wasn’t sure it was doing much.  Now I’m beginning to think it was reducing the inflammation in my stomach.  I started taking it again last weekend, and I haven’t had issues since.

I must admit the pain caused me to be one irritable cranky bi…umm…witch.  Things that normally wouldn’t phase me in the slightest were suddenly getting on my nerves something awful.  Yes, the stress of moving did not help.  I was feeling a bit emotional about leaving the Southeast.  It just seems a bit final.  I simply don’t know if I’ll see some of those people ever again, I’m not dwelling on it, but it makes me sad.  And not knowing what to expect with Stuart’s stepmom was also probably contributing to the stress.  I really hate that word.  I hate that just normal day things that we have to deal with can cause so many physical symptoms. Stress is not always a bad thing, but it can do havoc on your body.  And I hate it when a doctor tells me that “it’s stress”, argh!

So the trip was good except for my tummy ache and being a grump.

On the 29th the movers delivered our stuff and I saw the house for the first time.

When I walked up to the house a hummingbird came right up to me, I took it as a sign that this is a good place. (both my and Stuart’s mom loved hummingbirds, I have a couple of meaningful hummingbird encounters, I may share those on another day)  The house has a good feeling about it.  The house is old and small, but it’s well taken care of, and it has an amazing yard.  Not the kind of yard you have in the Southeast, but a cool Southwest yard.  It also has a pool.  I’m so excited about that!  Oh, I’ll post pictures soon, I’ll show you everything!

After the movers left we went and had lunch with Stuart’s dad and Margaret.  It was the first time I’ve seen her since the accident.  I wasn’t sure what to expect so I prepared myself for the worst.  She is still a dear sweet woman whom I adore; but she had no recollection of meeting me before, or knowing anything about me.  I didn’t expect her to, so I wasn’t disappointed.  I was pleased that she remembered Stuart was here last month, that was nice.  She may not remember that tomorrow, but she remembered it today.  We had a pleasant lunch, then it was time for us to leave and she became agitated.  She is convinced they are trying to poison her.  You see, she doesn’t like to take her medication, so they put it in applesauce to give it to her, but she tasted it.  It was that taste that made her start believing they were trying to poison her.  I’m told she calms down fast and she won’t remember that, but it affected me.  She was very happy for the rest of the visit, she talked and talked. She made the comment that she likes everything.  When I simply smiled when she said, “No really, I just like everything.  Well, I don’t like someone right up in my face waving their hand, but mostly I like everything.”  (this was before the poisoning episode)

She is so in love with John (Dad).  When he walks in she lights up, and runs over to him and hugs him and kisses him.  It’s so wonderful.  They are still so much in love.  He is a very good husband.  Tonight Stuart was telling me that they don’t know if she’ll continue to remember him.  She has lost most of her short term memory and it keeps encroaching on every day.  She will start forgetting those she has not for the least amount of time; Dad and she have only been married for 7 years so she could start forgetting him in the not too distant future.  The longer she has known someone the longer she will remember them, she may not remember their correct age; for example she may think her son is her husband, because if fits with she is in her memory.  It makes me sad.  They are so much in love.  Dad once told Stuart that as much as he loved Stuart’s mom, Margaret was his soulmate; it breaks my heart that they had so little time together.

Margaret does seem to enjoy the time we spend together.  She just talks and talks, about anything and nothing, but some of her stories are quite entertaining.  I enjoy talking with her, my only problem with that is that I can’t hear a lot of what she says; I follow her body language and mimic it, that seems to be enough for her, but I really wish I could hear her better.  I don’t know if I can be with her alone if I can’t hear it well, I may not understand that she needs assistance before she gets agitated.

I started writing this last week, but we had a time getting out internet connected, the cable company isn’t in much of a hurry to send technicians out to a house to get them turned on so I couldn’t finish it.  For some reason, the WordPress app wouldn’t let me do anything on my own blog.  I couldn’t even comment of a post.  And the last reason I haven’t been able to post is that I haven’t been able to type very easily.

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getting the steroid injection in my wrist….at least my doctor was super cute.

Right before we left my right wrist started hurting and my thumb was partially numb.  Just exactly like how the De Quervain’s tendinosis in my left wrist.  That is pretty strange; it’s not acutually that strange for people who have had it, but it’s alson normally found in women who have babies.  The act of repeatedly picking up a child can cause it, but me?  Why am I getting this?  I have no idea what I’m doing, I thought I’d figured out what cause it in my left wrist, but now I’m not too sure.  Well, I got a shot in it on Wednesday, crossing fingers it works and I don’t have to have further treatment.  So that’s the reason’s I haven’t been posting about this adventure.  Well those and being incredibly busy.

I’ll write more about where we are living now soon.,,,With more pictures.

It’s really happening….life is changing fast.

“Everything changes, nothing remains without change.” ~ Buddha

Okay so I started this a number of times and just can’t get my words to come out right, so I’m going to try the mindful writing for this post and see how it goes.  What you are about to read will be written with my eyes closed and I’ll be taking a deep breath after each sentence….let’s see how it goes.

Okay, so deep. deep breath.  In.  Out.  Breathe.  I must take time to do that more often.  The simple act of stopping and breathing with intention has helped to calm my mind and open my awareness.  How wonderful that such a small action can do so much.  It is amazing to me.  Again.  Breathe.  In…. Out…..  calm.

Now let’s see if I can write what’s on my mind.

We will be leaving for Tucson in a couple of weeks.  Stuart starts his new job there on June 11th.  Everything has been falling into place.  Well, kinda, sorta.  Enough has fallen into place that it all feels right.  This feels like we are making the best decision for all.

A couple of weeks ago Stuart went for a job interview in Tucson, while there he also looked at houses for us to rent.  Not only was he offered the job, but he found a little house for us to rent while our house sells and we start looking for a house to buy out there.  As I said, it all seems to be falling into place.

Suddenly I was hit with the fact that we’d be leaving in about a month and I may not ever see many of the people on this coast again.  I’m being realistic here, not pessimistic.  We don’t travel much, I don’t travel well, and a lot of my family is getting older.  I scrambled to try to make planes to see everyone.  We tried to make plans, but first Stuart got sick with a cold, then I caught it, and my cold turned into a cough and an ear infection.  I’ve been running a fever for a week.  I just started on antibiotics, and I’m hopeful I’ll be all better before we leave, but it caused a lot of trouble.  Between both of us getting sick and people on vacation, I’m only going to be able to see a select few.  I was devastated.  It really got to me.  My anxiety got very high and I was just so sad.  Then I started telling myself I needed to just let it go.  No regrets.  I can only do what I can do, if I can’t see everyone I just need to let it go.  I’ll keep in touch the best I can.  All anyone can do is their best.  So, I let it go.  It is the way it is.  I accept it and I’m okay with it.

Then there’s the worry about the move itself.  I did start to get all worked up about it all, then again, I started using my new mantra.  “Let it go”  Deep breath…. in and…. out.  It’s all good.  I will take each day as it comes and deal with it at that time, I will not worry about what may be, that only causes more anxiety and I need to let that go.

I was feeling really good about things.  Letting go of what I couldn’t change, accepting each day as it comes, and taking care of things that I needed to take care of.  (like getting all my records from doctors, getting all my prescriptions filled, looking for new doctors, taking Kiki to the vet and getting her ready for the trip….so much to do, and I’ve been getting it done)  My therapist even mentioned how well I was dealing with all the change and how mindfulness has become so ingrained in me.  I admit, I was feeling pretty good about it all.

Then the bottom fell out.  I expected to get to Tucson before Stuart’s step mom’s Alzheimer’s advanced too much.  She didn’t know who Stuart was when he was there, but that didn’t surprise me too much, she’s really only met him in person once…well a few times over a 5 month period when we stayed in Tucson one winter, but not other than that.  She knows Stuart’s dad, and see seems happy.  But this week, due to side effects, they had to take her off the medication that helps slow the progression of her disease.  They expect her to decline rapidly now.  Dad doesn’t know how much longer she will know him.  It breaks my heart.  and it scares me.  I’ve never been around anyone who has Alzheimer’s.  I don’t know what to expect, especially if it is so advanced.  I’m afraid I won’t handle it well.  I just want to make things easier for Dad.  If that just means washing his clothes and stuff, that’s what I’ll do.  I’ll help the best I can.  That’s all I can do.  M is in the best place she could be for this, and I’m sure they will help me know how to deal with the situation.  I’m also reading as much as I can to learn more about it.  Frankly, that disease scares me.  The thought of not remembering my husband, that rips my heart out.  What would be worse, watching Stuart go through it.  It just makes me sad.  I’m working on being okay with the way things are.  Accepting that I can’t change it, and simply being okay with it.  Yes I think I said that before.  I also got news that I can’t really talk about on here, but it has stressed me out!!  Getting to the place of acceptance on this is going to be harder.   No, I can accept that it’s happening, I’m just not sure what that will mean and how it will affect me, more so, how it will affect Stuart and Dad.  Stuart’s not worried about it, he’s annoyed by it, but not worried.  So why am I?  I have to accept this, and be okay with it.  This will take a lot of deep breaths.  Sometimes my husband puts his head in the sand about things.  I hope that isn’t the case with this.  I know it will all be as it will be, and I’ll deal with things as they come up.  I will try my best not to worry about what may be.  One moment at a time.

Well I think I’m done for today.  I’ve spilled a lot out, but I’ve been vague enough that you are probably wondering… “what on earth?”

 

 

I had a little DQ.

DQ

No, I didn’t have this DQ!  Darnit!

In February sometime I started having wrist pain.  On the inside of the wrist right below the thumb, I would have sharp pain with certain movements.  It especially hurt to hold my phone or tablet.  That caused a big issue since I draw on my tablet and I had a pet portrait I was working on.  Luckily the portrait is for a friend who is also chronically ill, so she understands these things.

While at Urgent Care for another matter, a suspected UTI, I had the doctor take a look at my wrist and she said I had tendinitis and needed to rest it and it should be fine in a couple of weeks.  I put it in a brace and waited.  The pain and swelling got worse.  After about 3 weeks, I went to see my primary care doctor.  She took x-rays and they didn’t show anything.  She referred me to a Hand Clinic.  Of course, it took a couple of weeks to get in there and during that time, the pain got worse.  The brace was not helping.  The brace stopped me from flexing my wrist up and down, but not side to side, and that’s what was causing the most pain.

While I waited I kept doing research to try to figure out what was wrong.  If you search for wrist pain, you will find carpel tunnel, and not much else., and I did not have the symptoms of carpel tunnel.  You really have to dig to find other causes.  Finally I found something that fit my symptoms – De Quervain’s tenosynovitis.  There was even a simple little test to diagnosis it.

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Finklestein test for De Quervain’s tenosynovitis  (image source)

The Finkelstein test is performed by placing your thumb against your hand, making a fist with your fingers closed over your thumb, and then bending your wrist toward your little finger.  If you have severe pain, you probably have De Quervain’s tenosynovits.

 

 

 

 

 

De Quervain’s tenosynovitis is inflammation of tendons on the side of the wrist at the base of the thumb. (see image left)  So yes, a type of tendinitis, but not one that will get better with a brace.

Last week I saw the hand specialist and he confirmed my suspicions.  I have DQ.  He even drew a little picture explaining it.  He told me the brace was useless, to just get rid of it. (freedom!) He said that a steroid injection in the affected area cures the condition 80% of the time, some people need a second injection, and very rarely it requires surgery to open the tunnel and make more room for the tendons.

20180408_151815.jpg So I got a shot.  He tried to be gentle but, Oh boy did that hurt!  He said I should feel some relief immediately because the shot has some numbing medication, and I would feel lasting relief in a day or two.  If the pain comes back after a couple of months, I’ll need another injection.  If it comes back after that, then I’ll need surgery.

I didn’t really feel the immediate relief he spoke of, but the next day it was like a light switch cut off.  The pain was almost completely gone.  By day two, I barely felt pain at all.  Now, I’m still barely feeling any pain, every once in a while I’ll get a twinge, but that’s all.  I’m amazed!  After 2 months of intense pain, I had one shot and it’s gone!  Wow, if only everything I had could be cured so easily.  Yes, I know the pain could come back, but I’m taking this as a win!

What causes this?  They aren’t exactly sure.  It can be from repetitive motion using the wrist, like picking up a baby (I can’t tell you the last time I picked up a baby).  It is often seen in new mothers and middle aged women.  It could be caused by hormonal fluctuations, or other conditions like arthritis.  Anything that causes swelling really.  I’m thinking mine was caused by the way I was holding my tablet while drawing, it put a lot of pressure on my thumb and bent my wrist.  I’ve since gotten a new computer and I don’t hold it like I was holding my tablet, so I’m hoping I don’t have a repeat of this.

Last night I was even able to finish my latest pet portrait.

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What do you think?

 

* painting by W. Holcombe.  All rights reserved.  Do not use without permission.

 

 

Mindfulness Monday – Beauty

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“In every bend of time

there is some surprise,

joy and beauty.

Mindfulness is the

light to discover it.”

~ Amit Ray

 

“Beauty surrounds us.”

~ Rumi

 

“Because of your smile,

you make life more beautiful.”

~ Thich Nhat Hanh

 

“Everything has beauty,

but not everyone sees it.”

~ Confucius

 

* As I was walking into the doctor’s office, I saw this flower; it was all alone in the middle of a parking lot, sharing it’s beauty.  I had to share it with you.

photo by Wendy Holcombe.  Please do not use without permission.