Apathy, Atrophy, Aridity and Agorophobia
January 16, 2015 | My Jottings
This is the A-team I’m doing battle with these days. The Alliterative Quartet of Woe, to state things a bit melodramatically.
The first word, apathy, I have been sensing because my desire to pray seems pretty anemic. (Ah. Another A-word. Perhaps I’m up against a Quintet of Woe.) I have found myself wondering silently, do my prayers really make any difference at all? Because I’m so tired and I miss Michael so desperately, and I’m praying every single day but all around me it seems like people are losing ground and what do my prayers accomplish anyway? (I do know that prayer is communion with God, that it’s learning to align yourself with His will and ways, that it’s learning to listen, and isn’t always about answers to a prayer list.) The Bible says the effectual fervent prayer of a righteous man/woman availeth much, so that leads me to conclude that my prayers are not fervent enough, I’m not righteous, and that something is missing. Is this a dark night of the soul like so many believers experience, or am I just not trying hard enough?
So I asked God to show me if prayerfully reading my Bible every morning (I’m still going through the Bible chronologically this year and just finished the book of Job — WHOA), if praying and asking Him to give me bread from that day’s passage and then writing down what comes to mind, hoping to make what I’ve gleaned the focus of the coming day, if kneeling in prayer (gingerly, on my Smith and Nephew ceramic knee that doesn’t love kneeling) is making a difference, in any way. Within days I had two dramatic answers; experiences and confirmations which were so unexpected and personal I wept with joy. Thank you Jesus. I will keep praying. Thank you Lord. Oh, how good you are….I kept breathing these words in and out, in and out, grateful that He is so kind and patient with me. I will keep showing up, in my old woman/hermit sort of way, and I trust that the flame will grow brighter someday. At least there’s still a flame, flickery as it is.
The second word of woe, atrophy, I sort of don’t want to talk about, even though it affects every step I take every single day. My right knee replacement was a resounding success in resolving the horrible, grinding, burning pain (and the growing deformity) I was experiencing with each step. But it has resulted in such weakness in my right quadriceps muscle that I can’t rise out of a chair or climb a step without holding on to something. This is the stuff an eighty year old woman is made of. Consequently, the compensating I’ve done for my right knee has now resulted in some pretty cranky left hip pain, which I’ve read is common after knee replacement surgery. The answer to muscle atrophy is usually strengthening exercise. And this is why I don’t want to talk about this. Because the hamster’s wheel of my life is: I need to exercise but am tired and busy, so I don’t exercise, then I get more tired, ad infinitum. But I have to do something soon.
The third woe on my A-list is aridity, and this refers to my eyes, which I wrote about a couple of blog posts ago. I was diagnosed with Meibomian Gland Disease and am doing a regimen not for the faint of heart. I take some giant flax seed oil and fish oil pills (for Omega 3) each morning and at night before I go to bed. I now use sterile eye drops in these tiny daily vials instead of the kind in squeezable bottles with irritating preservatives in them. (Who knew?) I have to treat my lids and lashes each night before I go to bed by scrubbing them with these little wipes that feel like they’re soaked in Essence of Jalapeño, and let that dry before I open my eyes again. A few times during the night I wake from the aridity of my eyes and grope for the tiny vial of sterile drops so I can get relief. Then in the morning I have to take a sanitized wash cloth and wet it with the hottest water I can stand to clean the accumulated gunk and delightful little collarettes off my lashes, and massage the Meibomian glands under my lower lashes, in hopes they will start functioning as they should. Then I have to treat my lashes and lids with a different wipe (these don’t burn) before I begin my day. Needless to say, my eyelids are feeling just a little bit desert-like, even if I use a moisturizer. Here’s how things are looking after a morning treatment now, but I’m hoping that things don’t look like this person’s eyes before my sixtieth birthday, what with all the scrubbing and hot water and treated wipes I’m beating them up with. But that would be vain to even think about that, so I guess I’ll spend my thoughts more productively.
Which brings us logically to the fourth A-word — agoraphobia. Since my soul and my knees and my eyes seem to be ailing a bit, I kind of don’t want to go anywhere. Now, I do go places, all the time. I spend the day with Michael two times a week, I grocery shop, I attend grandchildren’s functions, take our fosters out for fun outings, take them to their medical appointments, and I do have lunch with a friend now and then. I enjoy all these things. But I’m becoming more reclusive in my mind, and breathe a sigh of relief when I walk in the door of my peaceful home after being away for even the shortest errand. I don’t really have a fear of wide open places like a true agoraphobic, but I think I could easily move away to a tiny little stone cottage in the most remote part of the Highlands of Scotland, and be utterly content. Except there are a few complications with that scenario — I have a husband who still needs me and who I’m bereft without, and I have a job I enjoy.
For those of you who’ve read this far and are ready to be done with my Alliterative Quartet of Woe, here are a few unrelated tidbits I’ll leave you with.
If you have trouble falling asleep at night, you might want to look at this. I heard it’s all over Facebook too, but I wouldn’t know. I could not believe for one second that it would be possible to fall asleep in less than a minute by doing a simple breathing exercise, but thought I would try it. It’s called the 4-7-8 method and I googled it also, to find a video of someone demonstrating it. The counting is a bit quicker than one might think, so if you are interested, just find a youtube video of a Dr. Weil demonstrating the 4-7-8 method. The first night I tried it, I don’t remember getting past six breaths. Six breaths and I was asleep! The second night I tried it, it took longer, but I fell asleep before I got to twelve breaths. Can you even imagine? Let me know if you try it and whether or not it works for you.
Also, we had delicious Creamy Chicken Curry for dinner the night before last, served over basmati rice and accompanied by homemade Naan bread. Prepared by yours truly? Nein. My dear friend Carey came over to my house and cooked for us, and I can’t tell you how guilty and delighted I felt simultaneously. While Carey cheerfully cooked and chopped, I sat nearby in the dining room and got a TON of paperwork done, while we listened to this audiobook, which is a phenomenal book every human should read. Or listen to, if you like audiobooks.
Lastly, I’m taking our fosters out for dinner and a movie tonight, something they always love. I hope Paddington Bear doesn’t put me to sleep faster than the 4-7-8 method.
And tomorrow? I will be driving north to spend the day with the light of my life….