Monday, January 18, 2010

Things We Now Think About

Such odd thoughts lurk around in the New World Order (that's the post SCA world order....). Thoughts that are along the lines of an adult version of what they told us as little girls --- always to wear clean underwear because you might end up in the Emergency Room. (did they tell little boys that as well? Who tells innocent children these frightful things - frightful both in terms of the relationship with undergarments and having us worry about the ER - who does this? Aside from the Sisters of Mercy, of course.).

This adult version, when one has a daily, ongoing relationship with one's mortality, is along the lines of "Do I care if the house is a total mess? If I have an SCA episode, I will either be no longer with us or in the hospital - most likely). Who will come in? Should I leave instructions that NO ONE is to read my journal? Even post-mortem, I just don't like that idea - though really, that unease is just completely irrational. I mean post-mortem is post mortem. But I guess the worst case scenario (in terms of the journal, messy house, yesterday's underwear) is that I land in a hospital in such a state that a family member or friend has to come into the house to get Stella (the dog) and/or belongings to take to the hospital, etc. Of course, in my irrational mind, they wander about looking through my things, inventorying my undergarments, reading what I am sure is a toss up between an incomprehensible or deathly dull journal... and THEN they get the dog and/or my belongings. And what makes it worst case is that I am still among the land of the living and have to cope with embarrassment or guilt for having hurt someone's feelings in the writings. (I used to self-edit when I lived with Tom. Then as the relationship deteriorated, I became more direct again; after all, by then I think I felt spiteful - if he read it, it was OK that his feelings get hurt. Perhaps even desirable).

And the thing of it is - I KNOW that I really should be worrying about doing my taxes, or passing the upcoming SC bar exam, or staying on my new diet, or getting my work done for a new client --- anything really, other than the state of my undergarments or journal-seeking friends and family or the house being in a state.

Thank goodness I don't have cats.

Thursday, January 14, 2010

Bird Population

I e-met a woman the other day who is struggling with what she calls post-traumatic stress disorder 2 years after her SCA. She faces depression and with some significant physical limitations.

It may me realize yet again how extraordinarily lucky I was on 9/5/09. As my sister says - this is why we buy lottery tickets; the percentages alone don't tell the entire story of chances and possibilities, just the probabilities. (And I sincerely hope my economics professor nephew never sees this; I can hear the groan all the way from UC Davis). But the odds for me were - 98% die after SCA AND of the 2% who survive, the overwhelming majority suffer brain damage and/or physical damage and long rehab processes. I suffered neither.

Luck, luck, luck - I went to the ER 10 minutes before the SCA, so my luck was having and recognizing and responding to the instinct to go. Once there, my survival and lack of physical and mental damage were just the geography - how close to paddles I was. I was awake, joking and in full command of whatever brain power I had before the SCA - in minutes. (Admittedly, the jokes were not good ones and my delivery was probably poor as well). And physically, aside from blood pressure that took weeks to settle down - no damage. And remarkably, virtually no damage to the heart itself.

So I feel for the woman who struggles with depression and PTSD - we all hear all the flipping time how lucky we are and the one that really grates on me is the "God must have a plan for you". Well, if he/she/it does have a plan, it's a pretty big and well-kept secret what that might be. But my luck extends - I don't feel depressed. There are days still when I am just stunned that this happened - that I got that close to death and came through as I did. I get cranky at the "God plan" crap (like he/she/it failed to make the plan for the 98%; that they were not 'worthy' of the plan? that it fell off God's to-do list that day? Nuts really).

But back to the birds of this posting title. I shared with my new e-friend that while I deeply empathize with her, I don't have to suffer the depression and symptoms of PTSD. I face and wrestle some with being pissed about the things I can't do and annoyed I have to cope with new fears, but that I also see far more birds and spectacular big skies than I ever saw before. Beautiful coastal birds and skies. Magnificent.

I rather doubt the bird population jumped on the date of my SCA, so my observation is now different. I don't think it's God's plan and I don't think my retinae somehow sharpened. While one cannot pass 24 hours every day doing nothing but feeling gratitude, I have moments of sheer joy at the birds and the big skies. (And yes, I got up during the middle of the night a month or two ago for a meteor shower...). I should probably be finding greater meaning in my new birds and skies, but today, I simply revel in the pleasure.
(And am off to find some nasty sounding meal-worms to entice bluebirds - wish me luck!)

Wednesday, January 13, 2010

More "Just gotta love Wilmington"

First reason - tomorrow it will be 60 degrees and sunny after a loooooong run of freezing temperatures. Everyone who lives here will be outside; I expect the beach to be almost as crowded as a summer day! Stella and I are pre-excited already.

Second - the chamber of commerce is throwing a party tomorrow night "I Survived 2009" -of course, they are thinking of business survival in tough economic climate, but me --- well, it's literal. I can't wait to go - they are giving away T-shirts with "I survived 2009" emblazoned. I think it will be my new favorite garb, replacing the Sonny Jurgensen shirt. (and that's an EAGLES Sonny shirt, not a Redskins one....)

Thursday, January 7, 2010

Just gotta love Wilmington

Wilmington, NC that is, not Wilmington, DE, although I'm sure that one is lovable too.

First, not a Wilmington story, but this week, I graduated from cardiac rehab. A relief, but not for any deep reason. It just took so much time for what seems to be very little value. Ironically, the rehab days (3x per week) had become my lightest exercise days; I work far harder at my local gym. But I am an utterly compliant patient and they say go, so I go. At least I haven't had to pay a driver to take me the last month. (or as they say in the South, to "carry me" there.)

Back to Wilmington - there are so many things I love about my new home town. First, it is stunningly beautiful. The water, water, water and all that the water brings. Rivers, marshes, intracoastal waterway and of course, the ocean. And the people - it's a big small town. Very very supportive city, including businesses. There is a palpable sense of loyalty to local businesses. I've lived in Philadelphia, upstate NY, Michigan, Richmond, and I have never had that sense of support. Everywhere.

And then there is the fact that people just seem happier. I know that sounds silly or trite, but it's true - if not genuinely happier, then at least in much better moods than where I have lived before. And it's not a "Southern" thing; I got my introduction to Southern life a couple decades ago. I have been attributing it to the environmental beauty and /or the weather (horribly cold this week, but normally lovely). But last night, I met someone and we were chatting about how few native Wilmingtonians we encounter. And she said she thinks that is the reason for people's being in better moods. ..... Most people who live here have moved here from somewhere else - - and to her this means that everyone who lives here does so because we want to be here. We didn't get stuck here - we chose it.

For one or more of those reasons, I swear it is true; people are in better moods. Even with Sudden Cardiac Arrest and the other tumult since moving; count me among them. I am struck daily by the beauty of the surroundings and the Cardiac Arrest has made me see more, notice more, drink in more. Sometimes I think this would have been easier to wind through had I been in Richmond with a deeper support network - but God, I am so happy to be able to see and smell salt water every day. To see gulls, pelicans --- to feel sand, albeit not this week. I'm grateful to be here every single day.

And it's true - live near the beach and you get a LOT of visitors --- I'm awaiting the doorbell now - a Richmond friend coming for the weekend.