Archive for the ‘Stress.’ Tag

LIFE’S VICISSITUDES   12 comments

At 3:00 a.m. today my sister-in-law Velia Fusco (my former husband’s sister) died at the age of 93, a victim of COVID-19. Blessedly she was not aware of the ventilator, or its removal.  Never through all the years would we have imagined such a lonely end. But then, do we ever really imagine the end?

Today my son and I applied the funds from our cancelled May 2020 cruise to a Viking Mississippi River trip in October, 2022. The last day on board will be a celebration of my 93d birthday.

This afternoon a staff member called with a telephone inquiry into the state of my health. It will be a daily event for every resident from now on.

Today I heard that the editor of “My Father’s House” will be communicating details to me on Monday, April 6. I’m so anxious to be involved again.

The editor helping me with Nick’s book will be studying potential titles in preparation for giving me his opinion. Once we have the manuscript in decent order I’ll be using this blog to solicit people who’ll be willing to read the 70 or so pages and maybe write reviews.

Today I received notice that my grandson is now following my blog. Welcome, Erik.

In our private happy hour, my across-the-corridor neighbors and I sat in our doorways eight feet apart and enjoyed champagne that was originally intended for an anniversary celebration.

We agreed that our bodies – zinging – reveal more stress than our brains acknowledge.

And there is such gratitude that the geography of our locations allow us this human interaction.

A day in the life …

Stay safe and well

 

 

OUTTAKE: DOUG’S APPENDICITIS   2 comments

Warning, this is a long excerpt. It helped a lot in shortening the manuscript, though.

“On the way home from Vermont, Doug started complaining about stomach pains. Poor kid. I think we weren’t sympathetic enough. We thought the hotdogs we cooked out must have disagreed with him. It’s not like Doug to complain, so we wondered if we should take him to the emergency room when we got home to Hamden. Instead we called Bill Lavelle across the street. As a fireman he’s trained in emergency diagnosis. He asked us a few questions and then came over and poked around a bit. Poor Doug. He was really hurting. I wondered if it might be appendicitis, but Bill said no. I called Dr. Wessel too. When I told him the symptoms, he said it wasn’t appendicitis – that we should give him aspirin and put him to bed.”

“Oh dear, I can feel it coming,” Jennie had pulled herself out of bed when she knew who was calling.

“But when he woke up in the morning,” Mona went on, “the pain was just too intense. Lou was off to work, and Marjy Ehmer and I were in the kitchen planning for the fall semester. I called Lou to come home so we could take Doug to the doctor and made last minute arrangements with Marjy. Dr. Wessel was so sweet when we got there. Usually he chats with me while he examines the kids, but this time he gave Doug his full attention.

“What do you think it is?” he asked Doug.

“Appendicitis,” was the Pain-filled response.

“I think you’re right. Let’s get you straight to the hospital. I’ll call ahead.”

“Oh, mother. The poor kid. It turns out his appendix was about to rupture. Thank God we live after Sulfa drugs were discovered.”

“Oh my poor Doug,” Jennie’s memories went back to the baby she helped care for eleven years ago.

“Mother, it was so awful. Yale New Haven is a teaching hospital and the medical personnel kept coming in to poke him in the stomach while we waited for him to go to surgery. Now that everything is over, I’m just mad at myself that I didn’t make them stop. But I’m proud of myself that I insisted they let me stay in his room afterwards. I had to call Dr. Wessel to intervene and make them allow it. I can’t imagine leaving any child alone waking up from surgery.”

“How is he now?” Carl asked. “Can we come to visit?”

“The doctors agree with me that it’s probably best if only Lou and I visit. And Lisa wants to come, but I have to go the route of Dr. Wessel again to get permission.”

The next report set Jennie’s mind at ease. “He’s doing fine. He’ll be here for a week before they remove the stitches. Then they’ll let him come home in a day or two.”

“I stopped by school today to leave the materials I need to start the semester. I have to thank Doug for having his attack at a convenient time. It seems like my kids have always known to do their sicknesses when I could be home anyway. But the poor thing, mother. He looks so pale. And you can tell he’s in pain the way he orders me around like a slave.”

Mona, spending each day in the hospital with him, called every evening to report. “You wouldn’t recognize our Doug,” she told them. “He is so cranky and bossy, but it kind of pleases me that he’s not holding back.”

Then came the day of stitches removal. “Lisa was with me and we both watched. The doctors wanted us to leave, but I insisted we wouldn’t cause a problem. Lisa was great, sitting on my lap and watching. I think she has a stomach for this kind of stuff.”

Mona called Jennie and Carl right away on homecoming day. “He’s so happy to be home and quiet with me. Lou and Lisa have gone to Branford where Lou will be Godfather to Genny and Bill Goff’s baby.”

“May we come see him”?”

“Sure, I know it will make him happy to see you.”

They made it a short stay, giving him a gift of a basket organizer for his desk.

“It made me feel so good to see how happy he was when we came. Poor kid. He looks so pale, though.” Jennie settled into the passenger seat.

“Surgery is nothing to fool around with” Carl remembered. “It takes a lot out of a guy.”

A few days later Mona had another message.

“I’m sorry I didn’t call you sooner, but I had to take Doug back to the doctor. He said it was an abscess — very unusual. ‘He must have suffered some stress,’ he said.’”

“All I can say is, Lou’s parents came after you did — and stayed, — and stayed, waiting for Lou and Lisa to get home. Mama was so worried, she kept hugging him and pinching his cheek. It’s all because they love him, I know – and he loves them — but after they’d been here almost two hours, Doug drew me into the bathroom and, his face beet red and his fists tight, commanded ‘Get them out of here!” Oh mother, I felt guilty I hadn’t asked them to leave sooner, and I got in trouble with Alma for doing it. But all is well now. He’s getting better. I told him he could have one more day of being mean to me, then he had to stop. He did just that – one more nasty day, then back to his own self. Now he’s having a good time doing quiet things and should be able to start school on time.”

 

SEMINAR CONTINUED: RECONCILIATION – WHY?   4 comments

Now that we’re thinking about it, what is reconciliation anyway? The answer to “why” depends first of all on knowing what reconciliation means in the particular case. My thesaurus has some interesting answers, the first of which is “Settlement.” Under that it lists the following as equivalents for “reconciliation:”

  • Understanding
  • Resolution
  • Compromise
  • Reunion
  • Ceasefire
  • Appeasement
  • Bringing together
  • The opposite of Conflict

I think this list is as good as any as a jumping off point to answer the question “Why?” Why strive for reconciliation?

I’d like first to focus on “settlement.” Yes, I know the definition refers originally to money settlement, the payment of debts. But I’m choosing to take the psychological/emotional route. Reconciliation doesn’t even become an issue until something unsettling, disturbing, stressful happens, or creeps into one’s awareness. It’s the feeling that someone else owes you something and refuses to pony up. How quickly do we get to “He owes me an apology, or a change of attitude, or cooperation, – or at least an explanation.” If such is not forthcoming, there’s a good chance anger will follow. How good it would feel to get even – to tell the offender off. How about a nice angry e-mail? “There. That’s settled.”

But is it really? What about the recipient who, chances are, will not be happy to receive that hurtful anger? Would it really be enough just to make the other guy unhappy? Nope. There’s no settlement there. Just an increase in the pain total. Settlement and stress reduction and pain relief won’t follow.

So, why reconciliation? One potential reason, because unilateral vengeance won’t make the pain go away – unless, of course, one enjoys another’s distress. They call that sadism.

And, of course, there’s no opportunity to receive the apology or explanation if other people have been turned off, or the reciprocal desire to hurt gets turned on.

Conclusion, reconciliation requires a genuine desire to reduce distress. Something more than one-sided spewing of anger is needed for settlement. It seems to me that’s where “understanding” comes in.

Oh, but now what does “understanding” mean?

Or maybe it’s not anger that erupts, but despair that depresses. “I give up. There’s nothing more I can do.” Maybe settlement can’t happen between living people. Maybe the other person isn’t willing, or isn’t even capable of responding, as in having an issue with someone who has completed the earthly journey. Maybe the settlement can only be internal.

“Understanding” can still help. The stress can still be reduced. Next time I’d like to introduce “Jennies rule.”

In the meantime, are some of you willing to give examples of what “settlement” would mean to you?

 

 

WHAT AM I TELLING MYSELF?   1 comment

When it comes to the big things, I don’t make decisions. I’ve found that I give myself clues to my direction by watching what I do. For example, when I buy a car (every 12 years or so) I don’t decide, “Oh, it’s time to get a new car,” Well, that’s not quite true, when I traded in my Starion in 2002 it was because it needed expensive repair for the first time in its some 16 years. But when I bought the Starion I realized that I’d been looking at automobile ads with special interest for some time. “Aha!” I said to me, “there must be a reason why you’re doing this. I guess it’s time to buy a new car.”

And then there’s moving, as in leaving Connecticut for Minnesota. Oh, I had done a lot of spadework – even bought a house here and rented it under control of a leasing agent. But it was 2:00 a.m. one April morning that I said to myself, “OK. I’m moving in November or December.” I started telling my clients that I’d be leaving. That’s when I learned that things can move pretty fast with a deadline. I also told potential clients my plan, offering to give them a referral if they wanted longer-term work. Only one person asked for a referral. One potential client even said, “Good. I hate psychologists anyway.” We did get things done in a hurry. On her way out of our last session she thanked me for being the only therapist who ever helped because “You tell it like it is.” (If you know me personally and want to ask in private, I’ll tell you how that worked.)

Then there was the move out of that first Minnesota home. Partly it was my own behavior, and partly it was the snow and ice that clogged my garage door at the bottom of the steep driveway. “Wouldn’t it be fun,” I thought, “just to see what’s available around here.” Smart real estate agent. She knew better than I did what I wanted. In no time at all I had made a deposit on my current home and sold my ice collector. I love it here.

But here’s my question. What am I telling myself now? In the past three days I’ve stuffed my recycling bin with the contents of twenty business-size three-ring notebooks and purchased $32.00 worth of shredding. Gone are my teaching notes and materials for the workshops I used to do on “Forgiveness,” “A Healthy Woman is a Crazy Person,” and “Stress.” Am I subconsciously planning to move? I don’t think so. Am I accepting that I’m retired enough that I can spend my time hanging out with good books and traveling? It’s a possibility. Am I clearing a path for more devotion to writing? It could be. Is some new career creeping up on me? Maybe.

As soon as I know the answer, I’ll let you know, whether you ask for it or not.

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