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Was I Scared?

Saturday, August 13th, 2011

One of my friends asked me if I was scared when all this happened. That made me think. Was I scared?

Well, it basically all happened too fast to be scared. Things I have read after the fact made me realize that the whole thing could have turned out much, much worse. But the fact is, it didn’t.

I admit I was scared when I was at the library and suddenly the room started spinning. But in some ways it was a relief — I KNEW something was wrong. Why was that a relief? Well, for three solid weeks I’d had a headache every morning and had to decide whether I was well enough to go to work. I had even been thinking of going home early that very day, but told myself, no, I wasn’t sick enough.

It’s like when my son was three years old. He started throwing fits at naptime, until finally I stopped making him take a nap. He wasn’t sleeping anyway. But it was a tough decision. Did he need a nap? His older brother had taken them right up until he went to Kindergarten. However, a couple nights later, he threw a major tantrum from 2 am until 3 am, screaming “I want to stay up all night and all daaaaaaay!” There was no agony at all in that decision. Nice try, kid, but sorry, you have to go to sleep!

That compares a little bit to how I felt when I knew, with no question, that something was wrong. All those previous three weeks, I’d had to make decisions about going to work with a headache. Now the decision was out of my hands. I was not able to stand up, let alone work.

I did ask them to call the paramedics when I remembered that since I was on birth control pills (for the trouble I’d been having with ovarian cysts), I was at slightly higher risk for stroke. When the paramedics came, I started vomiting, and rather than make me more afraid, that simply made me all the more certain that something was indeed wrong. No more agonizing decision! I was sick.

I did hear one of the paramedics tell the hospital staff something to the effect that I was at a zero on the “stroke scale,” so from that moment I was no longer afraid it was a stroke. However naive that confidence was!

Now, I had gotten afraid a year and a half earlier, when for three months I was having trouble with headaches that lasted two to four weeks. But they had done an MRI and found nothing wrong. And then they found a preventative that wiped out my headaches more effectively than ever before in my life. Since the preventative dealt with serotonin levels, I was sure they were right and the headaches were just a new migraine pattern. So this time, it felt really similar, and I was easily pacified and told this was probably just a new migraine pattern of some kind. That did make me nervous, but I trusted the hospital staff. Surely, if it was something dangerous, the CT scan would have caught it? I didn’t want to be subject to vertigo as a new migraine symptom, but if that’s what it was… I went to work on Wednesday and told them that whatever had happened, at least it wasn’t anything serious….

Then, when I woke up Thursday morning feeling faint and tingly on my right side, once again it happened too suddenly to be scared. I wasn’t thinking about the future, just if I could get “ready” for the paramedics. Or could I get a friend to drive me? Call me vain, but my first thought was of just getting to my phone and calling the paramedics — but I blanched at the thought of them finding me in my sleep shirt! I did feel better — able to stand — after lying down for a little while. So then all I was thinking about was getting food and taking care of details. I was able to call the doctor’s office and cancel my morning appointment and talk with a nurse. I was able to get dressed and eat breakfast. I put a bag together in case they decided to admit me to the hospital (figuring that by Murphy’s Law, if I did that I wouldn’t get admitted — Too bad it didn’t work this time!). I grabbed not one but two books to have with me at the hospital, my phone and its charger, and the papers they sent me home with on my earlier hospital visit.

All those things to do gave me something to think about rather than be scared. I did get worse just before my friend arrived, but then she arrived and I was able to get to her car and then I was on the way to the hospital.

I have a lot of trust in doctors. Once in the hospital, I could lie down and let them figure out what was wrong!

I do know that some time in the hospital — I’m not sure when it was — I wondered if I was going to die. I don’t want to die, not at all. There’s a whole lot more I want to do with my life, and I especially don’t want to leave my sons yet. But I found myself thinking that if that happened, at least I wouldn’t have any more headaches! I do firmly believe that God would look after my sons. (Though I’d much rather do it.) And I realized that if I die before I mean to — well, the repercussions will fall on other people. I would then get to take it easy! So I did pray, telling God that I really don’t want to die yet, but if it’s His time to take me, He’s going to have to take care of my boys and all the loose ends I’d be leaving in my life.

But that was just one bad moment. And it wasn’t being scared, it was thinking through the fact that even if the worst happens, I don’t need to be afraid.

I did find myself praying as the MRI was being done, “Lord, if there is something for them to find, let them FIND it!” because I was not ready to go home again and be told this was a new migraine symptom! It was way too extreme for that!

But I never did feel like what I think a “stroke patient” feels like. The stroke hit my balance center, and not my language or thinking. Thank God! After the fact, I’ve read a lot more about what could have happened.

In fact, my most fearful moment of all was when I’d been home for five days. The doctor had gotten the results of my blood test, and my Coumaden levels were a little high. He asked me to skip my Coumaden dose that evening, and get my blood drawn again in the morning. Coumaden is a blood thinner, keeping me from getting any more clots. Too much, though, and you are at risk for bleeding.

However, when I went to bed that night, about five hours after skipping my Coumaden dose, the right side of my neck was hurting horribly, feeling a lot like it did when the stroke happened. I quickly imagined all the blood in my body clotting there. I went downstairs and split a pill in two and took half, but I had a very bad night. I took Percocet, which didn’t phase it a bit. I was afraid to get up, for fear I’d faint again. You see, now I knew what a stroke can do, so I was a lot more scared than before, when I hadn’t thought much about them.

But I did wake up the next morning with my neck feeling completely fine. I’m still getting a very low grade headache, but I’m quite sure it’s from the vertebral artery dissection and not a migraine. And Tylenol actually works for it most of the time!

Now I’m back to that difficult decision. When am I healthy enough to go back to work? Am I tired because of lying around so much, or does my body just need rest so it can focus on healing? In other words, should I push myself, or should I do the opposite?

I’m kind of doing a cross between the two. I’m driving myself to the clinic to get blood drawn. Yesterday, I did the grocery shopping with my son. It did wipe me out, so I took a long nap afterward. I’ve started cooking dinner for us, but I’m cooking things that have lots of leftovers, so I don’t need to do it every night. Tomorrow, I’m going to go to church and see how I do. I’m thinking that I can definitely go to work. I’m aiming for Tuesday, since I have to get blood drawn on Monday. The big question is how long I will last, or if I’ll have energy to go to work the next day!

So the answer to the question, “Was I scared?” is No, I really wasn’t — but that may have been because I didn’t really understand what was going on! One thing’s for sure: I feel loved and protected and cared for — by God and also by my friends and family. I know I was upheld by many people in prayer. And I am going to be okay. And this whole episode went much, much, much better than it might have. Thank you, thank you, everyone who prayed for me.

In fact, right now I’m listening to a new Peter Furler CD, and a song is playing based on Psalm 23. These words seem perfect:

“Even though I walk through the valley of the shadow of death,
I will fear no evil,
for You are with me.

“Even though I walk through the valley of the shadow of death,
Your rod and Your staff,
they comfort me.”

Christmas Havoc

Saturday, December 11th, 2010

Some verses in Isaiah 54 and 55 have meant a lot to me during the whole divorce process.  Particularly Isaiah 54:15 and 17 whenever any mention of the trial came up.

So, in preparation for going to court, for the last few weeks, I’ve been having my quiet times in Isaiah 54 and 55.  Today it just so happened that the rather odd verse came up that is right in between those two powerful verses for facing a court case.

Isaiah 54:16 —

“See, it is I who created the blacksmith
who fans the coals into flame
and forges a weapon fit for its work.
And it is I who have created the destroyer to work havoc.”

Today, when I read those words about the destroyer working havoc, all I could think about is Christmas.

Last night, at Home Fellowship, one of the men mentioned that this week he told his kids,  “Kids, Christmas is going to break your mother.”  It became a saying, because we felt like it could apply to all the mothers present!

This morning I slept super late, and I was very discouraged — I had planned to do so much to prepare for Christmas today!  I’m working six days in a row next week.  Now how on earth will I get it all done?

So I thought about Christmas when I read, “It is I who have created the Destroyer to work havoc.”

Surely it’s true that God created Christmas.  But where did the havoc come from?  Why does Christmas destroy our peace of mind?

I think it’s American culture that heaps expectations on Christmas, especially on Moms.  We’re supposed to make everything perfect — gifts for everyone, parties, projects, decorations, baking and cooking, everything has to be just so.  In Germany, the Germans didn’t seem nearly so over-the-top about Christmas.  But Americans go overboard with everything.

Why would God allow all these expectations to grow up around the celebration of the birth of His Son?  Why would He let Christmas become so full of havoc?

I got to thinking that maybe we need it to be havoc in order to take a good look at all those expectations.  Maybe it’s God’s grace that the expectations have gotten to be more than any one person could ever possibly meet.  Maybe it forces us to take a look and decide only to do what we can, and what’s meaningful to us.

After all, who will be happy if we really do get everything absolutely perfect?  Will our kids really care?  Do our friends and family want us to go into debt?  Do they care if maybe our gifts are a few days late?  If our decorating causes more stress than smiles, is it really worth it?

Anyway, thinking about Christmas as a Destroyer working Havoc this morning made me smile.  It helped me take it all less seriously and lighten up.  I did what I could, and the rest will have to wait.  And if stress drives out joy, it’s just not worth it.

I don’t want to think of Christmas as Havoc.  I want to think of it as Joy.

A Job!

Wednesday, June 23rd, 2010

So, I told about my RIF Notice, but I never told about the happy follow-up.  I was granted a placement.  Human Resources looks for a vacancy at the same pay grade in another county agency and looks at your resume to find one where you might possibly be able to fit.

It was a big surprise.  The day before, they had offered me a half-time Librarian I position.  I had to do a lot of agonizing.  Is half a job better than no job?  I’d need Unemployment compensation either way — I definitely can’t make ends meet in a half-time job.

I decided to turn it down, so they asked me to come in to the office and sign off that I was not interested in any part-time placement.  When I did, they showed me two Management Analyst I positions!  Now, admittedly I was a little annoyed that these were the same paygrade as a Librarian I, yet they don’t require a Master’s degree (like a Librarian position does) and they don’t supervise anyone (like my position did).  However, I did feel like I could do the work — and my paychecks would continue!

So — for three days now, I’ve been working as a Management Analyst I for Family Services, the Office for Children, Community Education and Provider Services.  Basically, we issue permits for family day care homes that have too few children to be licensed by the state.  We also manage the USDA Food Program for all the providers in the county, including School Age Childcare Centers and Head Start programs.

It looks like my job will mainly be managing data, which I admit I find interesting.  I’ll also do quite a bit of unannounced visits to monitor compliance with the USDA Food Program.  So maybe I’ll get to see kids after all.

I am really sad to be away from the books and book lovers of the library, and the sweet children with their parents.  (The not sweet ones?  Not so much!)  However, there are some perks.  The biggest is that I am still getting paid!  But also the hours are much much nicer — 8:00 to 4:30, instead of two days a week 12:30 to 9:00 pm, as I would have to do at the library once the hours are changed.  No more weekends either. 

It was strange to come into work and not have to scramble to get the library open!  And I don’t have to worry about problems with the building or customer complaints!  I’m laughing afresh at people who think the library is a calm and peaceful and quiet place to work.  Working in an office is about a hundred times quieter!  And without having to be open to the public, they are very flexible about working hours, so I could change my schedule if I found it was too hard to get there by 8:00.  (So far, I’m almost making it!)

Now, I admit that I will still be looking for a librarian position.  I got that Master’s in Library Science to become a librarian.  However, it’s nice to be looking while I actually have a job — and it looks like I’m going to enjoy this job very much while I have it.   So who could ask for anything more?

Shelves made from Books! Too Delightful!

Tuesday, December 18th, 2007

Okay, from a Library list, I just discovered the website www.thisintothat.com.

Click on “Gallery” and then go to “Funniest Shelves.”  Or use this link:  http://www.thisintothat.com/gallery/funniest.html

This artist makes bookshelves–from books!  The titles are part of the fun.  The first “funny” one has a shelf made with “Who Pushed Humpty Dumpty” supported by “All the King’s Men” and “Anatomy of a Murder”–with an eggbeater through it.

This does seem to be a good use for old books that have outlived their traditional usefulness.  He has an entire bookshelf built with an outdated Encyclopedia Britannica set.  I wish I had discovered this site a few weeks ago, when I was still taking Collection Development class.  I would have offered this as a solution for what to do with weeded books!

I did get a pang when I saw a shelf with a carpentry theme.  One of the books, Sawdust in His Shoes, was a children’s book that I loved when I was a kid.  It’s about a circus performer kid who has to leave the circus and can’t stand it–he ends up finding his way back to the circus.  I had forgotten all about that book, but I read it so many times.  I can think of quotations from it even as I write this.  Hmm.  I will get the author off of the picture and see if I can find a used copy.  Or maybe I should buy the shelf!

Thing 17: PBWiki

Wednesday, December 12th, 2007

On Monday, during Storytime, I read The Cat in the Hat.  So now, talking about the 23 Things of this Learning 2.0 program makes me think of Thing 1 and Thing 2!

PBWiki is great.  In my Resources for Youth class, we used PBWiki to do our group project and make a website of resources for young adults.  It’s nice when all group members can edit the same site.

I wasn’t as impressed with the Learning 2.0 PBwiki, because it’s fairly unorganized and full of clutter.  Maybe someone being in charge to keep things looking alike would help.  Still, it’s an easy way to have lots of people contributing to a finished product.

My co-worker, who started a month later than me, has finished her 23 things.  I need to get busy!  I just finished my Master’s coursework, so now why don’t I finish this up!