Tuesday, March 27, 2012

Change in Perception

     Yesterday I downloaded a scientific dissertation to read about fatigue and PSC, the lovely liver disease I have. I'm reading and reading and learning that more women than men experience the fatigue, that it comes with depression-like symptoms but doesn't respond to antidepressants and on interview with a psychiatrist doesn't add up to depression either. I also read that sleep for the fatigue is not "restorative." Now I snagged onto that idea and put some time and thought to it.
     My naps don't really make me feel better. It's not like I jump out of the nap-bed and think, "Oh, gee whiz, now I can do ..." or that I run out of the house and exercise or anything else that would indicate I really felt better after napping. Huh. So, last night finally I asked myself this whopper question, "Why nap?" It just subtracts from my waking hours and doesn't accomplish anything positive.
     Keep in mind also that I have trouble sleeping at night and that goes with what they term "daytime somnolence." Hmmm. I may nap now and then, but it's not part of my daily plan anymore.
     So what's the change in perception? I am no longer putting PSC at the center of my life anymore. There's no need to – now, and perhaps there never was a need. It's difficult to have a disease for which there is no treatment except for transplant. And to be eligible for transplant, you need to be really sick. It's easy to make the goal "oh boy, let's get sick!" But that proves to be a rotten way to live your days.
     It's daily life I am concerned about. The quality of each day is what adds up to a life. I want more creativity, more writing, more love, more fun, more happiness every single day. That's what I choose right now.

Tuesday, March 13, 2012

Working on Health

      I've been recuperating and have been absent from my blog. I have continued to write everyday, though, and made some decisions. About life, you know. I had been looking at a couple of writer's conferences to go to and had gotten really excited about the Woodstock Writer's Festival in April and the Taos Summer Writing Conference in July. I finally decided that I was putting the cart before the horse and had some other priorities to attend to first. I did discover two writing teachers and consultants that I plan to contact and try to work with them in the future, though.

     What I chose to focus on was my health. I want to improve it in any way that I can. It takes more than diet. Even my thoughts need inspection. I listened to a few minutes of Wayne Dyer on TV last night and he suggested a practice for the period of time between drowsiness and falling asleep at night. His advice included things like saying, "I am well, I am prosperous, I am happy." Whoa, that threw me. I realized how often I have a pre-sleep litany sounding more like this:  "I'm sick, I'm poor, I struggle to be happy." Oh brother, now I was wide awake.

      I went to bed anyway. After reading for awhile and getting drowsy, I tried out Dyer's suggested phrases. I woke up around 2:30 a.m. and thought it was time to get up. What happened, though, was that in the middle of the night, I was happy. That's usually the time I wake up from some new worry I had forgotten about during the day. This time, no worries. I was happy when I got up at 7 a.m., too. And life just felt better. I'm trying it again tonight.

      One aspect of my health I am working on for this year is my energy level. I want more energy. Much more! This means more exercise, starting with a lot more walking. Daily. I walked today for 20 minutes! It's not much but it's a start. Even if I only work up to 30 minutes every day, the regularity of it will help my energy level. I just know it will. I'm not interested in being an athlete, just in reversing some of the fatigue I feel.

     I need more energy to write. Writing does give me energy, so it remains part of my plan for health. But I need all the boosts I can get. So I'm using my mind to boost me out the door every day and walk now, and see what happens. I'm hoping! And I will keep you posted on my progress.

Friday, March 9, 2012

Hospital Stays and Why to Stay at Home

             I remember brightness and light about hospital stays. Way too much. So much I can’t relax or sleep very well. There was a doctor covering all the liver patients on the transplant floor for the week, and he would arrive for his Visit For The Day at 4:30 a.m. Switch on the overhead light for the room, and stand there grinning and saying (far too loudly), “Good morning!” Are you kidding me? “How have been feeling?” Fine, till you arrived. What I was doing, it’s called “sleeping.” Most doctors make you wonder if they are coming by at all.

            There’s always the daily morning stick in the arm for yet more blood, and this comes far ahead of sunrise. Sleeping. Awaken to a light being switched on over my bed so he or she can see. I’m always nice to them because they seem apologetic from the get-go. Then they take my blood, shut off the light, and I lie there thinking about going back to sleep. After about my sixth or seventh hospital stay, I could forget it and fall asleep. But sometimes, I just toss around and then finally pull out a book to read.

            Attending to bathroom needs is problematic because I’m attached by tubing and a needle in my arm to an IV unit that is plugged into the wall. Long before the nurse places the IV, I check out the plug and see how easy or difficult it is to pull out of the socket, what needs to be adjusted to attain easy access to the plug. When the urge comes, depending on just how urgent, I roll out of bed, reach for the plug and free it, grab the IV pole and run or walk to the bathroom. IV antibiotics always make it an urgent matter for me. I beg for Imodium. The medical staff wants to make sure I don’t have C. diff. and I am elected processor of the samples. Now I tell them to find my doctor and she’ll okay the Imodium. One intern got past that system and I yelled at him. He ran away whimpering.

            They want you to wear their non-slip, very attractive (heh-heh) beige socks all the time. I prefer bare feet; probably unhygienic, but I hate being in bed with socks. Once I fell with an IV pole rolling alongside when it stuck in a doorway, and my nurse gave me red socks to wear. They show you can’t be trusted to walk. I wandered the hallways in them, proud and happy.

            The best way to be in a hospital is unconscious. Then make sure you have an excellent advocate who will move heaven and earth to get you the best care. A conscious life there with too much light, noise, lousy food choices and worse food, an uncomfortable bed and basically being tied to it – all of that sucks. The only breaks are visitors – the best – and a nurse who will have a conversation with you. Oh, and finding someone to bring you a latte from Daz Bog on the first floor. Extra foam, please.

Wednesday, March 7, 2012

My Body Calls Me

     Just when everything is going really great, I started getting inexplicably sick last night. Right after I left the library and my fun time there, I felt greatly chilled. I turned up the car's heater and was still cold. Oh, this is not a good sign, I thought. I turned up the heat at home but still felt chilly, and really tired. By bedtime I was burning up with fever. It was almost 101 degrees. Two Tylenol and pulled the sheet over my head. Soaked with sweat when the fever broke.

     I don't want to go to the hospital. Not at least until I get my hair washed. Just want to stay at home with my kitty and write and pretend I'm normal. I'll make a really nice green smoothie and see if it will all go away.

Monday, March 5, 2012

More Church-going Stories

           Anthony and I went to church again on Sunday morning. But we didn’t go to the same church as last week. I didn’t find out till Saturday night he didn’t want to go back there, and I fumed all night. Woke up in the morning, fine with the church change. It’s no big deal. Then Anthony knocked on my door at 9 a.m. and handed me a little piece of paper with a church name and address on it: Fundamental Baptist Church. I said, “Now Anthony, I’m not going to some Holy Roller church. That’s just not my deal.” And I was thinking, how did this guy, born and bred in Brooklyn, become a Southern Baptist? He’s Italian, too!

            On Google Maps the building looked pretty small. We drove there and the edifice looked like the contractors just put in the basement and ran out of money to build the top floor. Two doors were locked on the outside with padlocks, the back door open. Inviting?

I walked through the back door while Anthony pulled out his iPhone and called the pastor. I opened a door that revealed about eight people sitting across the room from me and a man sitting in front of them. Sunday School. No one looked up at me. In the middle of the room were about 15 metal folding chairs set up and a table standing in as an altar with plastic flowers, a Bible and a couple of candles on it. I walked out to report to Anthony who said, “Let’s go.” I do believe we found the smallest church in Denver.

I drove to Riverside Baptist Church next to Mile High Stadium. Anthony liked it all right – it was Southern Baptist – but the service went too long (a preachy preacher). Anthony is diabetic and he has to be careful when he eats, and lunch came too late. So now we’re going to try an early service or … well, we’ll find one. Anthony is a real sweetheart and going to church means a lot to him. God knows – whether he’s a Baptist God or a Presbyterian one or Catholic or Jewish one – Anthony and I are trying!

Sunday, March 4, 2012


Silence can be strained.
Silence can be golden.
Silence can be a relief.
Silence can be full of revenge and meanness and cold fury. You will never forget the accompanying thunder.

There is the silence of serenity that you can feel in the midst of the noisiest crowd of people, the crush of modern life, the mightiest thunderstorm. This silence comes from within and comes from knowing your own place in the world. You feel your center and almost nothing can take you from it. At least not very far for very long. This is the best silence of all. It is yours.

Saturday, March 3, 2012

Who I Am

 Salt water. Fresh water. Cold water. Warm water. Hiking paths. Trees. Rocks and boulders. Mountains. Grass. Flowers. Big sky. Crashing waves. Dolphins swimming alongside our boat. Kaneohe Bay. Diamond Head. Jungle paths. Bamboo forest. Dark brown, tannic-stained rivers. Alligators. Snakes. Turtles. Big fish. Riding horses. Dogs. Cats. Beach. Beach. Beach. Lanikai Beach. Treasure Island Beach. Madeira Beach. St. Pete Beach. Pass-a-Grille Beach. Sea oats. Elk herds. Deer morning and evening. Coyotes howling. Bears crossing my land. Mountain lion. Snow. Ice. Mud. Skiing. Swimming. Canoeing. Poohbah. Washington Park.

Friday, March 2, 2012

Dieting for Health

             Time for an update on dieting for health. Ever since I got the cancer diagnosis, I became more motivated to participate in my own healthcare. The main and really the biggest step I could take was a look at my diet. In November while recuperating from a mastectomy, I had the good fortune of staying with my friend Peggy and her husband who had recently become vegans. I had already been reading about veganism and health, but in their home I could experience it. Peggy is a great cook no matter what’s she making, so she had quickly mastered tasty dishes for a vegan diet. I enjoyed the eating first of all. But a wondrous side effect took place – I felt better. This was directly after my surgery so I was really looking for ways to feel even just a tad better.

            That marked the beginning of my vegan journey. I’m not nearly as good a cook as Peg, and I’m only cooking for one, so it’s a challenge to make dishes with lots of preparation. Just not interested. I have taken advantage of making smoothies, though, in my nifty, awesome blender (a Ninja) and I put all kinds of stuff in them. A healthy green mix of kale, chard, arugula, lettuce; chunks of tofu; a cup of frozen blueberries; banana; an apple cut up; green juice; soy milk; cucumbers; squash; cilantro; and the list goes on. I don’t put all of those in one smoothie, but probably three or four solid items plus the liquids.

            With the Standard American Diet we’re all bound to get generous dosages of illness, including heart and vessel disease, cancer, various chronic illnesses, autoimmune diseases more than we’re genetically disposed to, arthritis, and all kinds of crappy stuff. It isn’t necessary. Besides, you don’t have to be a complete vegan to conquer illness until it more naturally shows up many decades later in your precious lives.

            If you’ve had cancer, and everyone who has dreadfully fears a recurrence, then check out Kristin Carr’s manifesto, Crazy Sexy Cancer Tips. She is an awesome statement of how to be proactive when faced with a deadly form of cancer – with no treatment known. She is still writing books and researching more ways to help herself nine years after diagnosis. And don’t worry, she goes to the regular physicians (who can think outside the box) as well as holistic practitioners. No wacko crystals for her! Her website is  http://www.crazysexycancer.com. And she’s on Facebook.

            Lots of people’s illnesses are described as chronic now. Even HIV. I know people who might have two or three chronic illnesses, and I definitely believe they can be helped by getting off the Standard American Diet and onto greener pastures of grazing. It's already been proven.

            Remember, you can SUBSCRIBE to my blog now and get these messages as emails.

            Feel better! Go green!

Thursday, March 1, 2012

Following My Heart

             I want to show up as a creative writer everywhere. I feel like I’ve been given this strange “opportunity” to follow this path. I’m chronically ill, enough so I can’t work full-time. So I’m on Social Security Disability and stay at home much of the time. Why not call myself a writer and actually commit to what I’ve been wanting to do (and avoiding) all this time? Years have passed while I’ve quivered in fear of taking this step. Well, it is a big deal. And no one gives you a handbook on how to do it. You make it up as you go.

            I want to show up as a writer in every way possible. I don’t want to write business stuff – I’m not very good at it. I like to write newsletters for organizations, though, because I love writing as a healthy tool for communication. Someone can speak to you, you can watch a youtube video, you can listen in on conversations. But unless it’s written down, you can’t go back and reread it, underline it, make lists from it, color-organize it, whatever you can do to a piece of written communication.

            I don’t want to write so I’ll be remembered. I want the story to be remembered. I want, if it’s meant for you that special reader, for you to make use of it in whatever way you see fit. I may write under several different names. There are many Dana Bennetts. Who cares? I can have an exotic name – Luna Lapwater, Moonlight Radinsky, D.B. Loud, Ali Gator.

            This is day number 3 this week for writing a blog. Tomorrow is my first reward if I write number 4. This is not only easy peasy, but it’s a lot of fun.

            If you want some advice from me about how to get started writing, let me know. I love to share that story. And over the years I’ve supported and encouraged many, many would-be writers to get started. It’s up to you to find out how to keep going. Or if you want to.

            You can SUBSCRIBE to my little blog now and will get email notification. I hope you’ll want to follow me. You won’t have to read everything, but you won’t (if you subscribe) have to remember or bookmark my blog.

            Have a great day and follow your heart.