Patient. Until I’m Not.

I got a unique look at myself from the outside the other day. It happened like this: I had a full-blown meltdown in public.

From the inside, it made perfect sense, because it had been building and building and building for hours. So the transition, for me, didn’t seem very abrupt. It was simply the last freakin’ straw.

But from the outside, I must have looked like I was completely and utterly unhinged. “What’s her problem? She was fine a second ago…”

I think most people would say I’m a patient, tolerant person. I take pride in those qualities. But every once in a while, you’ll go too far, and the Kraken gets unleashed.

I had a cold. A bad cold. And I had been struggling with it for three, count ‘em, three weeks. I couldn’t take it anymore. But my doctor had retried. And the new one I want to start seeing wasn’t taking new patients until February. I didn’t want to start up with a third, only to switch a month later. What a hassle. So I decided to go to an urgent care clinic. There’d be no loyalties to break there, right? They live for walk ins.

Indeed they must, because the waiting room was filled to overflowing with what looked like the walking dead. I was informed there would be an hour and a half wait. Sigh.

But what the heck. I just needed someone to prescribe me a z-pack and some cough medication, so when I finally got in, it should only take about 5 minutes. Worth it.

They gave me some “please don’t try to sue us” forms to fill out. Which I did. But even in my oversick, addled brain, I sensed that something was weird. Oh. They didn’t have me fill out anything about my medical history. Uh, don’t they care? They ought to care.

But I was so sick. I asked at the desk. They said to each other, “Oh, she’s urgent care.” The way they said “urgent” led me to believe that we, the urgent ones, actually were their lowest priorities. I was told they’d take care of that when I was called in.

So I settled back in my chair, between the man who was shouting that the birth date on his birth certificate wasn’t really when he was born, and the defeated looking woman with the five kids with green snot running out of their noses. And I think I dozed off out of sheer self-preservation.

Two hours later, I was called in. The usual stuff. Weight. Temperature. Blood pressure. Then the lady sits in front of a computer and starts asking me medical history questions. My answers never quite seemed to fit anything in her drop down menu. So she’d click “other” and have to type things in. Which was just dandy, because she couldn’t spell. I had to spell everything for her, and she kept stopping me in the middle and making me repeat it over, because she was throwing in random letters that I hadn’t said. I wanted to snatch the keyboard from her and do it my danged self. Heaven only knows what their file now says about me.

Thirty minutes later, she tells me the nurse practitioner will be in in a moment. I fell asleep again. When she finally comes in, the nurse practitioner confirms that I am, indeed, very sick. And she prescribes, as predicted, a z-pack and some cough medicine.

She also says she’ll write a doctor’s note so I can miss two days of work, which makes me want to kiss her on the lips. (In Florida, a right to work state, you practically have to be bleeding out of two of the five major orifices before a doctor will even consider writing such a note. God, I love the left coast!)

She says someone will come in and get my pharmacy info and give me the note. And then I can go. Yay!

Indeed, the same illiterate woman comes in, asks me my pharmacy info, and leaves without saying a word, and without giving me the note. I fall back asleep.

I wake up with a snort, look at my phone, and realize I’ve been in the clinic for 3 ½ hours. Seriously? I mean, what the actual F is the hold up? I open the door. I try flagging several staff people as they walk by, not meeting my eyes. I finally get someone I haven’t seen before, and I burst into tears and say, “Look, I’m supposed to have two prescriptions and a doctor’s note, and I’ve been here for 3 ½ hours, and I just want to go home!”

Much scrambling around. Turns out the prescriptions had been called in ages ago. But no one can find the note. They track down the NP, and she confirms that she wrote the note ages ago. Why had nobody printed it out and sent me off? Good freakin’ question.

The note was stuck in the printing queue. The staff had somehow forgotten I was there, and apparently, even though the place was overcrowded, they didn’t find it at all odd that some random woman was snoring in one of their exam rooms.

Finally, the note is printed out and handed to me, but in my sick fog, I can’t find the exit. The woman offers to show me out. Tears are running down my face. She stops. Says I look hungry and thirsty. Offers me a bottle of water and a granola bar.

I look at her. I screech, “I. Just. Want. To go. HOME!!!!!!!!”

All activity around me stops. I’m shown the door.

And I realize that from the inside, what appeared like a well-deserved, slow-building, epic last stand, from the outside probably looked like an abrupt and unexpected temper tantrum. Because I really am a patient person. Until I’m not.

When I got home, I finally read the note, and it only gives me one day off work instead of the promised two. Sigh. Whatever.

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Hey! Look what I wrote! http://amzn.to/2mlPVh5

Facing Forward

I’m on the brink of amazing change, and it all stemmed from a giraffe. You just never know when a figurative cue ball will send your eight ball careening off in an entirely different direction. That’s what makes life so exciting.

I have been watching April the Giraffe’s live feed on Youtube since February. I watched her pregnant belly as the baby kicked. I watched any number of contractions. She kept me company at least 8 hours a day. She became a big part of my life. So when I woke up on April 15th to discover that the birth was in progress, I got really, really excited.

Unfortunately, I still had to go to work. I broke all land speed records getting there, believe you me! And then I immediately logged back on again. Fortunately, the front hooves and the head where the only things that had made it into the world up to that point, so I got to watch the rest of the birth, live.

I’m not ashamed to say I cried some ugly, joyful tears when her calf finally made his entrance, and even more when he stood up an hour later. Life, man. Life! You know? What a miracle it is.

And just like that, I realized I hadn’t been living, not really, for quite some time. It occurred to me that life is like a flowing river, and we float downstream with it. As we go, we see things come toward us and we experience them and then they recede into the past.

But that’s only if you’re facing forward. Many things can cause you to face backwards. Trauma. Grief. Fear. Depression. They all cause you to focus on the past. And if you’re like me, you get stuck there, and try to recreate the past in your present. You want to get back to where you were before everything went so wrong.

The problem with that is you’re still floating down the river. Life goes on. But now you’re not seeing it. Because you’re facing backwards, by the time current events flash past your peripheral vision, they’re already a thing of the past. That’s no way to live.

Time to face forward again. Live in the present. Plan for the future. And don’t do so as half a person, presenting yourself to the world as a broken shadow of your former self.

For example, if you’re grieving, don’t avoid music or experiences that you shared with the person you lost. Why are you narrowing your horizons like that? Would the person you lost want you to only be half of yourself? No. You’re still alive, and to have healthy relationships moving forward, you need to be able to give the next person ALL of you. Yes, grief changes you, and that’s okay. But it shouldn’t limit you, and you shouldn’t feel guilty for continuing down the stream.

So I’m making a conscious effort to face forward again. I’m house hunting, and I’m exercising, and I’m eating right. I’m trying really hard to live in the now. Because life is happening right now, and it’s a precious and limited commodity. I plan to make the most of it, rather than putting it on hold.

And I got all that from a giraffe. Imagine that.

As my friend Carole likes to say, “Onward and upward, into the future!”

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Schooled by a Sacred Lion

I’m in a state of transition and that’s putting it mildly. New job, new (to me) car, new city where I have never been and know not a soul. An epic drive across the country, seeing places I’ve never seen. Hurtling toward the unknown. What an adventure. What a trip!

Most of the time I’m excited. Friends have told me I’m brave, and that they admire me for doing this. But I have to admit that sometimes I’m scared shitless. All this change all at once can crash over me like a tsunami, and I panic. I doubt. I basically freak out. What the hell am I doing?

The other day I said to a friend, “Please remind me I’m not crazy. I feel like I’m jumping off a cliff without knowing what’s at the bottom.”

His response to me was, “Well, seems to me like you already know what’s at the bottom. This is more like ascending a cliff than jumping off. So put on those rock slippers, woman, and get to climbing!”

And just like that, my view of the situation was reframed. At least until the next tsunami. This is a wise friend, indeed. His name means “Sacred Lion”. His mother named him well.

 

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[Image credit: ireminisces.com]

For the Last Time

I read something the other day that really freaked me out. “How many things are you seeing for the last time?” This strikes quite a chord in me at this particular point in life, because I’m about to leave a place where I’ve lived for 30 years to drive 3100 miles across the country to start over in a place where I’ve never been.

All month long I’ve been visiting my favorite places one last time, and having dinner with various friends one last time, and as I walk away from these experiences, I never fail to get emotional. And to say that what I’m feeling is sadness is too simplistic. It’s hard to describe the complexity of it. It’s also overwhelming gratitude that these phenomenal people and places have been part of my life. It’s regret that I didn’t always appreciate them as much as I should have. It’s fear that I may lose something indefinable once I’ve suffered their absence. It’s hope that the trail I am blazing will be every bit as amazing as the well-worn path I’m leaving behind me.

I sort of feel like a snake that is shedding its skin. But that skin has served me well, so I’ll miss it. I feel like a fiddler crab that’s moving into a new shell. The old shell is still viable, but it no longer fits me. Change is part of the natural order of things.

Transitions are also scary. And exciting. As I leave so much behind I’m also heading toward many, many things that I’ll be seeing for the very first time. Another thing I read recently: “When was the last time you did something for the first time?” That greatly applies to my situation as well. I’ll be going places where I’ve never been before. What an adventure!

Although I’m not a Christian, all of this reminds me of my favorite passage in the Bible:

Ecclesiastes 3

To every thing there is a season, and a time to every purpose under the heaven:

A time to be born, and a time to die; a time to plant, and a time to pluck up that which is planted;

A time to kill, and a time to heal; a time to break down, and a time to build up;

A time to weep, and a time to laugh; a time to mourn, and a time to dance;

A time to cast away stones, and a time to gather stones together; a time to embrace, and a time to refrain from embracing;

A time to get, and a time to lose; a time to keep, and a time to cast away;

A time to rend, and a time to sew; a time to keep silence, and a time to speak;

A time to love, and a time to hate; a time of war, and a time of peace.

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May your journey through life be full of bittersweet endings and bittersweet beginnings. They’re what give life their flavor.

90 Degree Angles

I have always been fascinated with that split second just before everything takes a sharp turn and changes for the better or for the worst; that moment before you become an entirely different person. What does that look like, and are there any hints of the upcoming earthquake? Is the air shimmering around you as the energy of your destiny is reaching critical mass?

Oddly enough I got to watch that on film yesterday. When I need a break from my own life, I tend to become a voyeur in the lives of others. I therefore have a weakness for reality TV. And since I absolutely refuse to pay for cable, I tend to pick a series that is a few years old but available on Youtube and watch that.

So I’ve been watching Big Brother Australia from 2012 lately. One of the more loveable housemates is named Josh. You can just tell he’s an all around decent person. Then… there it was. One minute he’s laughing and joking with everyone, and the next he gets called away, only to find out that his brother died of a heart attack at age 32. Needless to say, he left the show, but first he came back to say goodbye to everyone. And you could tell he was a different person.

After I saw that, I backed up and watched him from before the news. Yup. Different. Definitely. But no warning signs. It’s not like his aura started growing dim or turning black. There was no alarm sounding that the world was ignoring. It’s just that one minute he was care free, and the next he was in shock. I’ve definitely been there.

I think the reason I am so obsessed with transitional moments is that I hope that if I see some sort of warning signal, maybe I can fend off the fickle finger of fate before it touches me next time around. But alas, it isn’t to be. There was nothing Josh could have seen to prevent the train of his life from jumping the tracks. That’s just how life is. When you allow yourself to fully grasp that fact it can be quite terrifying indeed. But it also makes you appreciate every precious second of routine that you get.

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Much belated condolences, Josh.