Find Joy Instead of Despair

Mom’s third day in the hospital dawned as I assessed my morning routine. In my quest to find joy instead of despair, I learned to practice self-care in my caregiver role. Even so, there were little messages that I heard but didn’t heed. For example, I didn’t take time to make breakfast, looking up Bojangles’ sandwiches. But I forgot to download the ordering app. So instead, I completed an abridged version of my Reiki practice, showered, and put on makeup, including mascara.

Find Joy Instead of Despair

When I arrived at Bojangles, I tried to go inside. The staff locked it. I backed out of my parking space and pulled into the drive-up line behind two men on foot. They had motorcycle t-shirts on, and there were motorcycles in the parking lot.

I noticed the pile of large river rocks where the speaker and menu had been. The drive-up line moved slowly. As we neared the temporary ordering setup, I heard the noisy highway floating through my open windows and felt the cool morning breeze. I

It was amusing to watch the motorcycle guys order. They jumped on and backed off the sensor plate to let the Bojangles employee know they wanted to order. The taller of the two bent himself nearly in two at the speaker stand. Then it was my turn to drive up and order. The long line behind me was impressive, snaking around the far side of the building.

I closed my passenger side window to reduce the noise. Waiting patiently, I listened for acknowledgment from the speaker stand. Finally, I shouted at the pedestrians in front of me, “Guys! Hey, guys! Motorcycle guys!” Eventually, the shorter man turned my way and started to approach. Then a voice from the speaker stand said, “Are you talking to me?” I answered, “No, but I’d like to.” We all laughed. I placed my order. It was so amusing; I took a photo of the two guys in front of me from my windshield.

As they approached the drive-up window, one said, “This is a first for me, walking in the drive-up at Bojangle’s!”

Mom’s Third Day at the Hospital

Soon I was backing into a space in the hospital parking lot. Gathering my purse, book, coffee travel cup, and changing my glasses, I locked the car and walked the familiar path to the temporary entrance of the hospital. A new face was staffing the makeshift welcome table. After sanitizing my hands and placing my mask on my face, I approached.

“Do you know where you are headed?” she asked.

“Yes, I’m very familiar with the route.”

“I’ve heard that a lot this morning,” she replied.

As I walked through the gauntlet of chairs in the shared emergency room waiting area, I began the familiar path past walls striped with blue painter’s tape. The young man who was patching drywall all week was absent. I missed saying hello or commenting on his steady progress.

You Never See it Coming

Stepping into the waiting elevator, I pressed the button for the second floor. As the doors opened, I saw two unfamiliar masked faces at the nurse’s station.

“Good morning, you guys are new!”

One of the women, striking in her deep blue scrubs that matched the blue of her kind eyes, had moved toward me. I noticed her name tag said ‘Brenda.’ I turned left for the short walk to Mom’s room. Just before I arrived at the closed door, the nurse, who had discreetly followed me, spoke.

“Are you Dawn?”

“Yes.”

“I just put the phone down as I heard the elevator. I’m sorry, but your mother just passed.”

Brenda was ready for my reaction. She took the coffee mug out of my hand as I covered my audible sob. Her sweet arms hugged me as I continued to cry. Finally, my need to purge grief subsided, her hug loosened, and our eyes met.

“Spend as much time as you need.”

The room was oddly silent as I walked to my familiar spot next to the bed. Mom was serene; her closed eyes had lost their tightness. Although her body had ceased to function, I felt her soul nearby.

“Hi, Mom. It’s Dawn. It’s all over. Don’t worry about anything. You can be with Daddy now.”

I stroked her still warm forehead, “I love you.”

I closed the hospital room door and headed for the nurse’s station to thank them. Then, out of the blue, I heard myself telling the story of my funny experience in the drive-up at Bojangles. I knew Mom’s soul was there, too, laughing along with us.

Find Joy Instead of Despair

Hospitals and death can be harrowing experiences. Or they can be joyful. Allowing my emotion’s full impact when I had the loving support of nurse Brenda opened up space for the joy of release. The release was for my Mom and me. Furthermore, it gave me the freedom to relieve the natural stress felt by the hospital staff.

Having experienced the deaths of two husbands, my father and now my mother, in the past seven years has served as a primer for grieving and letting go.

Mom and I discussed death many times. She and I were together at Dad’s passing. And both were adamant in their wish to allow death it’s due. I’m grateful Mom’s end of life wasn’t prolonged and that the hospital staff supported our decisions.

My understanding of the importance of self-care, especially in the role of caregiver, has brought me peace. I have learned how to find joy instead of despair. So, may your life experiences bring you growth toward fulfilling your purpose.

Some Stories Stay with You

Some stories stay with you. You don’t want them to end. Instead, you want to find the next novel and satisfy your need for a good book.

Some Stories Stay with You

This desire to read has been with me since I sat enthralled by the Dick and Jane primers in grade one. As a Florida girl, I longed to jump in a pile of autumn leaves and build a snowman. But, alas, Florida offered temperate weather without clearly defined seasons. More importantly, the illustrations and descriptions in books brought the desire for a different life as I became an adult.

The Piano Tuner, by Daniel Mason, is one of those stories. I invite you to read my review on Goodreads as a segway into a deeper discussion of Mr. Mason’s writing. Unfortunately, although I checked the spoiler box, I’m not convinced I revealed too much.

About Reading Styles

Do you find an author you like and then read their books until you finish all or get bored? What attracts you to that first book?

I saw Daniel Mason’s The Winter Soldier in the highlighted book display at my local library. The book jacket intrigued me as I picked it up and read the synopsis. Since I’m a lover of historical fiction, the time frame of World War I sold me along with the recommendation of Anthony Doerr.

Usually, I hunt for the next book from a favored author. However, this time the jacket called from the library stacks as I hunted for one of my mother’s favorite authors of Amish romance novels. Instantly, I recalled my desire to read The Piano Tuner and checked it out.

Borrow or Buy

As a writer, I usually buy books. Similarly, I support local garden centers over big-box stores whenever I can. But, conversely, I help my local public library too. It may seem like I’m hurting published authors, but by making books available to everyone, authors benefit too.

In Conclusion

Why do some stories stay with you? It’s simple. The author has created a world for escape. Additionally, they wove in one central, lovable character.

Today’s world seems overloaded with electronic storms of information. So I invite you to take a breather and visit your local public library or bookstore to find the story that stays with you.

Be Your Own Science Experiment

Be your own science experiment. Did you loathe science in school? Yet your body is all about science. Chemistry abounds. For instance, how does the food you eat become the building blocks of nutrition? It’s complicated… very complicated.

And when you add stress along with choosing foods that your DNA recognizes as foreign, you are in for a whole lot of hurt.

Be Your Own Science Experiment

Let’s go over some basics about science experiments first. According to thought.co, these are the steps.

  1. Make observations
  2. Formulate a hypothesis (an idea you want to prove)
  3. Design and conduct an experiment to test the hypothesis
  4. Evaluate the results of the experiment
  5. Accept or reject the hypothesis
  6. If necessary, make and test a new hypothesis

Where am I in this?

Step #1, for sure with an idea of step #2.

My current hypothesis is:

By removing the foods that are identified in my Cyrex Array 10 test, my inflammation and pain will reduce.

If you read my post on June 4th, you saw my observation of the current state of my body. It hasn’t changed much. Furthermore, I have many observations from the past. For instance, I received my first Cyrex lab report in December 2015. This report measures food protein in your blood. They are viewed as foreign bodies and result in inflammation.

Cyrex posts an online video explaining their Array 10 test. Warning, it’s like being in chemistry class, but highly informative. Furthermore, you can read more about my excitement and high hopes in the 2016 blog, Grateful for Changes in my Diet. The gratitude was short-lived as I wasn’t truly ready to make the life-long changes needed. Now the pain is worse, and I still can’t take NSAIDs to ease the inflammation and pain.

What dietary restrictions were and likely are still needed? All dairy, wheat, and rice were no-no’s. There were some other foods removed from my grocery list too; cooked almonds, cashews, Brazil nuts, peanut butter, and flaxseed to name a few. Thankfully, I could still eat all meat, fresh seafood, vegetables and fruits. Yeah!

Finding Help

Although you can order the Cyrex test, there is so much more involved. I needed to find someone who could guide me through the process of forming the complete hypothesis of my personal human science experiment. Two weeks ago, the Universe brought them to me.

On June 16th, I called my beloved, extremely booked, massage therapist, Brynne Nowroozi, and casually asked if she had an opening the next day. Brynne texted back, “I had a cancellation tomorrow at 10:30 am.” That made my day! During the massage, I mentioned my 6-month challenge and the Cyrex test from years before. She said, “I’ve had that test.” What?!?

Before I arose from the massage table, Brynne had placed the business card for Dr. Joleene Anderson on my folded clothes. She has a long list of capital letters after her name, but essentially, she is a chiropractic doctor who is also an expert on nutrition and more specifically, gluten.

More Observations in Progress

Tuesday, I had an hour-long discovery Zoom with Dr. Joleene. It was clear we could work together.

Dr. Joleene believes in forming the foundation before determining the hypothesis and I wholeheartedly agree. Currently, I’m working on the intake form… on my health life story. Since I’m a writer, it’s hard not to write a memoir. Today I’m condensing my tome sort of like the erroneously attributed words of Sergeant Friday in Dragnet, “Just the facts, ma’am.”

Furthermore, with Dr. Joleene’s help, we will find the likely root cause of my inflammation and work toward healing this foundational cause. That means more hypothesis. Fun!

Parting Thoughts

The photo of shrimp and pasta at the beginning of this article, uses coconut milk in place of dairy and gluten-free pasta. It’s highly possible the gluten-free pasta may disappear from my plate since it has rice flour in it. Finally, I had no idea that gluten-free means there is no more than 20 ppm gluten in the product. I always thought if ‘-free’ was attached to a word, it meant it didn’t have any. You can read all about gluten-free in Dr. Amy Burkhart’s article.

Next month I’ll let you in on my progress. Perhaps you will want to be your own science experiment too! I’d love to hear about it in the comments.

Love and hope for a healthier life,
Dawn