Last Time I Checked

Doctor My Eyes

April 23, 2010
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http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=5xKeHwXFa88

have seen no tears.  They are dry, itchy, swollen, and testy.  I went to an urgent care facility a week ago yesterday because the inside corner of my left eye had been extremely itchy for the entire day.  I at first attributed it to a bug bite, but by 5 pm I couldn’t stand it anymore.  On the surface, both my eyes looked fine to me.  The PA who examined me could not find anything but deduced I had conjunctivitis (commonly referred to as pink eye) and prescribed an antibiotic eye drop and an antihistamine eye drop.  The antihistamine made my eyes very dry, so I went back to the pharmacy to get an eye lubricant.  The extreme itchiness continued and I subsequently saw an opthalmologist this past Tuesday who diagnosed staph blepharitis in both eyes.  She could see the little pockets of staph “bubbles” along my eyelids, plain as day to her.  I actually felt relief with this diagnosis because it is not contagious and it meant I could lift my self-imposed exile and leave the house.

I was sent home with a new prescription for an antibiotic salve to place along the rims of my upper and lower eyelids and a regiment for warm eye soaks and eye scrubs with diluted baby shampoo.  I was told to completely stop using the non-prescription drops.  The next day the itchiness persisted to an almost unbearable point, so I was back on the phone with the pharmacist to see if there was a contraindication to using both the bacrtrim and antihistamine drops.  There wasn’t, so I put a couple of drops in my left eye and drove off to the gym.  On the way there, I started to feel a bit light-headed, kind of out of it, and wondered if I should be driving on the expressway.  I shut off my cruise control.  I attributed my feeling to a bit of anxiety.  After I arrived at the gym, I looked in the mirror of the women’s locker room and saw that my left eye was drooping.  I otherwise felt okay.  I warmed up on the bike and did a quick leg workout.

I went directly home from there and called the ophthalmologist’s office with the new symptom and mentioned what the pharmacist had told me about using the drops.  I was asked if the left corner of my mouth was also dropping; I thought the concern was that I might be having a stroke, so I said oh no, I’m fine – I can smile, talk, I was fine – I was interrupted and asked again if the left side of my mouth was drooping.  The concern was that I had developed Bells’ Palsy.  No, the left side of my mouth was not drooping.  I’m like, why don’t you understand that I am worried about my eyes!  I was told I could go ahead and use both the antihistamine and lubricant drops but not right after I put the salve along my eyelids.  I was assured the exam the doctor gave me was enough to show there was no ocular condition to be concerned about.  In addition to doing the warm eye soaks but now just once a day, I am to add cold eye compresses for the swelling.

By yesterday, I had gone through 4 rounds of complete treatment: eye soaks, eye scrubs, and applications of the salve plus additional palliative care of cold packs and eye drops for itchiness and dry eyes.  I left the house to return the crappy made in China cold/hot packs I had purchased and experienced light sensitivity while driving there and back.  By the time I arrived home at around 3, my eyes were a mess.  Bloodshot, swollen, asymetrical, and the left eye itching.  I called the doctor’s office again and when someone got back to me, I was offered a new antibiotic eye drop in a gel form.  It was called in to my pharmacy but the pharmacy called me later to tell me they didn’t have it in stock but should be able to get it by tomorrow.

I had already decided by then that I wanted a second opinion and to see someone whose specialty is closer to the eye condition I am afraid I may have developed.  I have slight psoriasis and my rosacea has really flared up these past several weeks, very likely caused by stress.  Both may affect the eyes, particularly the rosacea.  I called my optometrist’s office, and he called me back within an hour (how long has it been since you’ve had a doctor call you back, period).  I asked about an exam he had given me where he had to ask me to hold up my eye lids because they were drooping enough to interfere with one of the visual tests he was giving me.  I told him what I was going through and about my concerns, and he highly recommend an ophthalmologist he knows who specializes in the anterior segment of the eye.  I also called my primary care doctor to get a referral to a dermatologist I found on the Internet who deals with rosacea. 

I called that office just before 5 on Friday and already have an appointment for next Tuesday.  My eyes were still red, itchy, and swollen.  I decided to just do the eye soak and a very gentle scrub, and then I used a cold compress for a few minutes.  I went to bed with the TV set to the timer and slept soundly until 3:30.  I got back to sleep and woke up around 5 with an extremely crusty right eye (which is a hallmark of blepharitis and conjunctivitis) and a slightly crusty left eye.  Both eyes are somewhat bloodshot and the itchiness is there but now also on the outside corners of my lids.  I did the routine of scrubbing but without the baby shampoo and did a brief warm soak.  At this moment both eyes feel ok, maybe even better than they did yesterday.  But they look terrible compared to how they looked last week, so I have to wonder what the heck is going on.

This is a lesson in prevention.  If you have been diagnosed with blepharitis, you need to maintain a regiment of eye care basically forever.  In the first weeks after diagnosis the regiment is twice a day soaks and scrubs.  If it is under control, you can slack off a bit but still must maintain a routine.  If you have psoriasis or rosacea, see a dermatologist and an ophthamologist on an annual basis or more often if you are symptomatic.    

Doctor my eyes, tell me what you see . . .

Doctor my eyes, tell me what is wrong . . .

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We’re on our way

April 21, 2010
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Friday, April 16, 2010 (posted April 21)

to dinner at the Outback, unbeknownst to me until I call home and hear that is what is expected.  I’ve been away from home for a few hours, first at my Friday Pilate’s class, then in Ann Arbor doing some gardening shopping, getting some keys made at a really cool locksmith shop, and meeting some interesting people along the way.  Darling Husband sounds anxious about getting to dinner and getting back home for movie schedules.  I am open to whatever.  I have stopped to get a blood pressure monitor because my  reading was off the top at the urgent care facility where I was the day before to get my crazy itchy left eye looked at.  Reading: 175 over 104.  I have also walked over to the pet store next door, on a whim, to see if there any cute guinea pigs.  Not so much to replace the one that just died as much to say to my grandsons that life continues and enjoy this cute little creature who is living without a home right now.  It was a perfect moment.  The teenage girls working at the pet store tell me about him.  He was left waiting, and wanting perhaps, for a home for months because he grew and wasn’t a cute little baby anymore and that’s what people like to adopt.  But they had already figured that out; they had named him, and they reduced his value to $10 in the hopes someone like me would come in and give him a home.  At least he had a name unlike the ill-fated one that did not live more than two weeks in his new home  – Chewy, for Chewbacca, and that was perfect for a Star Wars loving father and his two sons who know more than I ever will about all the Star Wars characters and movies.

When I arrived at Tracy’s with Chewy, she thought my surprise was that I had picked up some special cookies or bakery goods.  I had to pause and ask her –  is this okay?  She was fine with it and called all the kids in (the girls who live kitty corner)  were over and they were all playing in the backyard).  Suddenly there were many eager fingers reaching inside the little cardboard box and exclaiming things like “he’s black,” “no, he’s brown,” “no, he’s black and brown.”  And “he looks like Chewbacca.  Chewbacca’s brown.” 

The short visit left me feeling as though I had left more of a burden than a gift, and I regretted the whim and the non-planning of the whole thing.  And when I called home and talked to DH, well, it was a conversation with a crabby guy, a guy who’s overworked and just trying to get through the next few years without losing his job.  I cheerfully suggested that we might call our good friends, but he said no, it was too late for that.  So, I rushed in and off we went to the Outback.  Dinner was good, DH a bit testy, but I don’t have to own that –  just tolerate it as best as I can.  We’ve purchased the special deal of buying a whole bottle of wine, less than it would cost for two classes.  They cut off the cork after corking the bottles and then bag them in a sealed bag per state law.  DH goes off to the bathroom while I pay the bill, and when he comes back he tells me he’s run into the husband of the wife of our aforementioned good friends.  It’s so unusual because when we used to go out to dinner with them almost every Friday night, they never wanted to go to the Outback.  Such a serendipitous surprise, and it ended our evening with much greater pleasure because of it.


Gardening shoes by the door

April 21, 2010
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March 31, 2010 (not posted until April 21)

I just came in from doing some trimming on dead stalks and leaves.  Not too much to do at this early date as removing mulch jeopardizes perennials in the event of a frost. 

My gardening shoes are close to the front door where they will stay now that I am leaving my post as treasure of my organization.  This is a good place for them to be and for me to be too.  They will serve as a reminder that I need to step into them rather than other shoes that don’t fit me.


Things that irritate me

April 21, 2010
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http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=zruvGh-Rh1s

Today:

Finding only one shoe (ver short-lived moment)

Blepharitis and the treatment (not your brother’s eyes)

The differences in the volume of digital and cell phones

My cell phone dying just at the wrong moment

Having no idea where to start

Yesterday:

Having to go see an opthamologist after spending a beautiful evening inside last Thursday at an urgent care facility and then waiting inside the store to get my prescription filled (or was it in my car at the spot reserved for the window pickup)

Dealing with all the questions from the ad we posted on craigslist

Last week:

Having my husband drive me to the urgent care facility; he was irritated he had to drive me.  Notice I did not call him the usual Darling Husband

Last year:

Nothing I can remember other than my organization I’ve been blogging about


Posted in The Last Word

24

April 19, 2010
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This post was started in February between 4 am and 8 pm

4:30 AM:  It’s still my favorite TV show.  I think with more Jack Bauers in the world, the US could save lots of money on defense.  Our military budget, the largest in dollars compared to 14 other nations, was  281.8 billion dollars in 1999 (source http://www.truthandpolitics.org/military-US-world.php).   To put this in perspective, let’s see how much money the US spends on educating its citizens.  From what I can tell from the following link, the feds contributed 27 billion toward pre-K through 12 education for FY 2000 (http://www.policyalmanac.org/education/archive/doe_education_spending.shtml), although as a nation we spent about 324 billion dollars on education including secondary education.  This number doesn’t seem right to me, but let’s just say for the sake of this blog that it’s a good estimate.  Now let’s consider that another military cost not included in the 281.8 billion we spent in 1999 is the post-military expenditures in our federal budget.  One web site showed this as 54% of our budget, which meant that in a given year military expenses were closer to 1.500 billion dollars – one and one half trillion dollars!   Wow!  I didn’t know that.  Some quick googles seem to show this to be pretty accurate.

5:00 AM:  Now, compare this to Israel’s rank in the 15 nations cited in the first link I show.  What nation do you think, off the top of your head, would be spending more money – a nation defending itself or a nation in offense strategy?  I would have guessed that it would be a nation trying to provoke (offend) another nation, and I would have been correct – Israel (a non-provoking nation) in most comparisons ranks last in military expenditures.  Now I hasten to add that I don’t know if the expenditure shown includes what the US provides in military aid.  I would think so, but I  am not going to research this at this time.  My point is that Israel spends less than Saudi Arabia and Iran, two nations that are not exactly friendly toward this tiny country.  Oh, yes, last time I checked Israel is a country.  It is a sovereign nation.  It is recognized as such by the United Nations.  It is a democracy like the United States.  Do you think that might be a big reason why we support Israel?

Please, my anti-Israel friends living in the United States, listen up.  When was the last time you didn’t appreciate your constitutionally provided rights to the freedoms you enjoy, including free speech?  When you lend your mental efforts to Israel bashing instead of rightful support of people living in tents, you injure the psyche of the Jewish people.  You insult them.  You alienate them.  You show your profound ignorance of the plight of this population since before the first millenium.  My own UU congregation and its national association, the Unitarian Universalist Association, has erroneously condemned Israel’s “occupation” based on past resolutions of the United Nations that are controversial and subjective.  I’ve heard a UU minister joke about Israel’s biblical claim to this land, my own congregation has sponsored speakers who are less than qualified but highly prejudiced in criticizing Israel, calling her declaration of independence the Palestinian’s name for catastrophe or Nakba.

This is a sore spot with me, and I’m tired of the naive criticism of Israel.  This nation is justified in defending itself from jihad groups and those who want to destroy it.   Israel also provides the U.S. with significant intelligence because of their location in the Middle East, something that most soft liberals don’t appreciate are likely saving us from further tragedies like 9/11.


Posted in The Last Word

Going back

April 15, 2010
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No matter how far you have gone on a wrong road, turn back.  ~ Turkish Proverb

It’s been so long since I have been able to sit down at my computer and do something fun that this is probably going to be a long post.  Last night’s (morning, I know) dream woke me up and I came downstairs around 4:30 am.  I’ve already spent a couple of hours answering my organization’s emails and clearing its clutter off my desk.  I spent a few minutes with darling husband talking about my dream.  I was sitting in a big truck (you know the ones that have those huge wheels) and it seemed that I purposely ran into a junky vehicle that had a man sitting inside of it.  This man appeared to be disheveled, and I had the feeling that he was dangerous or that I needed to protect myself from him.  The next part of my dream goes to an almost cave-like room.  Its walls are very primitive looking and uneven.  The man I hit enters and his appearance has improved; he appears more normal looking.  More people, some of them family, are with me now as this man announces he wants all our money.  I tell him that I don’t have any money in my wallet, even though I do, and he says he doesn’t believe me.  He looks angry now.  He starts to collect our money.  He says he has to leave but will be back and that no one had better try to leave.  I am the only one who tries to convince everyone else that this is our chance to get out.  The next part of my dream is a chase scene, but it is so scary that I wake up.  It would have been interesting to share this dream with my organization’s dream circle, but we disbanded.  Someone would listen to someone else’s dream and then start out by saying, “If this were my dream.”  Then they would talk about what it would mean to them if they had this dream.  Since this is my dream, I say that maybe the man represents my shadow side, what I’ve been feeling these many many weeks or maybe even months.  I certainly have felt alone (he’s alone in his truck), disheveled (sitting in my pajamas at my computer doing my organization’s work at its treasurer for hours at a time these past (almost) two years, but not dangerous.  I clearly felt that I needed to protect myself from this shadow.  I know exactly when I saw it and recognized it.  I know where I was, and I know what it is called:  anger.

I was sitting at my son-in-law’s computer completely stressed out because I had a finance committee meeting and ran into some problems with the spreadsheet I was using.  Here the budget was almost completed and I then saw in the new Excel version I was working with that the rows of the three columns showing the accounts and amounts of line items didn’t line up with one another.  When I arrived at my daughter’s house around noon, we actually went out to lunch because I was expecting to zip through the clean-up and even offered to play basketball with my grandson.  But I was working with an unfamiliar screen set-up and it became clearer minute by minute that my daughter could not help me and I would not have time to play basketball with Marty.  He came in every 15 minutes to ask me if I had finished my work yet.  It was during this time that I realized I was angry!  Angry that I put up with so much and have been stuck in my house on beautiful days working on behalf of my organization, angry I couldn’t play with Marty though I told him I would, especially after he brought me his hand-written note after the last time he interrupted me that said “Good Luck”, so angry that I had gone so far on this wrong road and wanted to get off it so badly, and so angry about betrayal, that I almost broke down and cried when I read Marty’s note.  He is just seven years old and showed me more consideration than anyone has in my organization.   

I’ve wanted to turn back from this wrong road for too long now.  I probably had this intuition even earlier last year, after many unpleasant encounters that I wrote about in Getting to Where You Are,  that would have made it the right thing to do for me at that time.  So if only I had turned back much sooner, I wouldn’t be stuck on this road in a truck and trying to protect myself.  The energy of this anger is physically dangerous to me.  My heart rate goes up, I’m getting bursts of short-lived headaches (I’ve never been  bothered much by headaches), and I am exhausted.  The cave may represent the primitive aspects of my organization or perhaps my own primordial archetype that has been repressed, thwarted, and even injured by the resistance to change in this organization and its tolerance of this woman’s relentless reach, which apparently does not exceed her grasp of the people and politics involved.  She presents herself as formidable, yet she is a tireless worker much like I.      

From the Collected Works of Carl Jung regarding the primordial:  “The primordial image, or archetype, is a figure – be it a demon, a human being, or a process  (my italics), that constantly recurs in the course of history and appears wherever creative fantasy is freely expressed.”  “In each of these images there is a little piece of human psychology and human fate, a remnant of the joys and sorrows that have been repeated countless times in our ancestral history.”  It’s a bit ironic for me to see joys and sorrows in this quote, partly because we have a ceremony of joys and sorrows in our organization.  But also because our joys in working together were few and far between and also because the sorrows were never expressed openly yet they are there, at least for me personally and on behalf of this mostly well-intended community.  I had personal joy in serving at times, but the final truth that is coming out is that this organization punishes those who bring up conflict.  And it doesn’t even have a structure in place that would have dealt the punishment out with some mercy.  Justice is big in this organization but mercy, or what I would call compassion, is sorely lacking.  I hurt but still have my own voice, something that I have struggled with for many years.  Using it.  Constructively and with a power that makes a change.      

“Whoever speaks in primordial images speaks with a thousand voices.”  This last quote has redemptive meaning to me on a deeply personal level.  I am already feeling more like myself and feel that I may be able to share a final message that wraps up all that I have learned from both an individual and organizational perspective.  I’m not getting over it or my anger; I’m using them as tools to work through this.  I’m learning.  I’m open to a thoughtful inquiry but not especially interested in fixing this anymore other than to write something that I will post in The Last Word.  I reacted, or even over-reacted at times, to an environment that I had no control over; I was perhaps seen as trying to change this person when I really just wanted the behavior to stop.  There is a statement about this conflict that is floating around in a document meant only for certain people with a need to know that probably refers to me and that says it’s a classic case of projection.  The person who said that should be better informed about the difference between projecting our shadow side onto someone else and the strong reaction one might have to verbal abuse and bullying.  And she should have been there with me when I took the first brave step in our policy by talking with the president of our organization.  My talking in the first person is honest and real, and I’m willing to listen to someone else who can say “I” and not “you”.  If this person is projecting her shadow onto me, it would therefore mean (based on what she said) that she is not trustworthy, she does not respect me, she over-manages me, she does not like people to disagree with her, and she doesn’t care that I am upset.  As I said in a letter to one of the leaders about this process, and as I’ve probably said somewhere in this weblog, the conflict management process is broken.  From the chapter or volume The Spiritual Problem of Modern Man, “The upheaval of our world and the upheaval of our consciousness are one and the same.”  I don’t doubt that this hasn’t taken its toll on both of us.  She is probably better equipped to handle it than I, however, because during the meeting with her she did not share any understanding or empathy of how I (or anyone else) might feel about her self-reported obnoxiousness.  If I’m carrying a bag of my shadow, it’s filled with feelings that I have to be nice all the time and want everyone to get along and just be happy.  It was startling to realize I was angry!  So if anything, I need to let some of this energy of anger be instead used as energy of action.  Like get the hell off the wrong road.  “A collective problem, if not recognized as such, always appears as a personal problem.”  This person will be off the board because of term limits, but she has ignored the conflict management agreement by addressing emails to me, making a completely unnecessary phone call to me, and at a special board meeting announcing she was going to stuff her foot in her mouth then proceeded to do so with gusto.  She then personalized a by-law change that would prevent immediate family members from serving on the board together by gesturing to my son-in-law who serves as a trustee and me.  She then remarked pointedly to him that we had a fiefdom going on.  My family is very involved as are most families in this organization.  A husband and wife team serve on the finance committee with me; the incoming president’s wife is a member of the nominating committee; the secretary’s wife serves on the conflict management team; his wife serves on another committee to which the secretary was board liaison last year; the list goes on and on.  Yet, wouldn’t you figure we’d all be trying to learn from our mistakes instead of doing a butcher job on a hard-working person who has only wanted to serve and put her time, talents, and treasures (no pun meant here) into this community?  This brings me back to my dream where I am being robbed of my money.  The money stands for the treasures I willingly shared, the sacrifices I made by giving up my personal time and time with my family.  The man also stands for more than a shadow figure for me.  He is the shadow side of my organization, robbing me when I felt I should not have to give anymore by staying through my term.  When he did not believe me when I said I had no money, he was right; I just don’t want to share my treasures with this organization anymore.       

My journey on this wrong road is almost finished.  There can’t possibly any more brutal bumps, can there?  I’ve gone too far to turn back – I’m closer to the end than the start!  I was not considered for renomination to the board.  The conflict was supposed to be confidential, yet the nominating committee chair knew of it because she “mentioned” it to me when she called me to tell me what I had already deduced after getting the committee’s report from the president.  I wasn’t entirely unprepared for the news, but I had expected to receive a call before the potential list of nominees was announced to the board.  And I was crazy enough to consider serving again!  This botched process, from the time I deduced I wasn’t being asked and let the chair know it would have been nice to be called, to the discovery of information that these committee members did not even know I was eligible to serve again, and to the realization that the new president’s wife is on the nominating committee, to my strong intuition that one of the finance committee members has been nominated and will serve as treasurer (and that word has been leaking out); led to final confirmation that I am on the wrong road!   “It is, moreover, only in the state of complete abandonment and loneliness that we experience the helpful powers of our own natures.”  From the chapter or volume Psychotherapists or the Clergy.  It’s the title this time that’s a bit ironic for me.  You can figure it’s either that I either need a psychotherapist or that there’s a member of the clergy involved in my life.   

I fully recognize that my ego is involved and that ” . . . even the enlightened person . . .  is never more than his own limited ego before the One who dwells within him, whose form has no knowable boundaries, who encompasses him on all sides, fathomless as the abysm of the earth and vast as the sky.”  Answer to Job.  But please, leave my shadow alone. 

Here’s my paraphrasing of something I read about the large stone  that Jung hand-carved and placed in the garden of his home named Bollingen.  According to one website, he inscribed the stone with magical and alchemical symbols.  It says that in his last revelatory dream prior to his death, Jung saw a round stone engraved with the words “And this shall be a sign unto you of Wholeness and Oneness”.   I have traveled on the wrong road, but my next journey will be an awakening of mindfulness far away from it.  I am beginning to feel the freedom after writing this.  I am looking foward to becoming whole and one again.  

And I will remember Maya Angelou’s “When people show you who they are, believe them.”  And if they try to get you to travel with them, don’t get on the road!


About author

These days, I am mostly happy. Not wildly happy. Happy as in feeling very content with my life. Happy with my darling husband and wonderful family. Happy I have a pooch to keep me company. Happy that I pretty much get to choose and do whatever I want. That kind of happy.

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