Thursday, September 11, 2008

I'm not blogging

What’s really the thing is, I haven’t been reading any blogs. Well, a couple. I’m checking in with friends every day or two, but mostly skimming. I’m so fed up with the United States election, and it was bad enough before when it was Clinton or Obama, but now Palin’s in there too. Even the people who would normally write about God, or art, or poetry, or literature ... they’re all writing about Governor Palin. It’s led me to avoid the intertubes altogether.

A Canadian federal election was called on Sunday. The Prime Minister went to the Governor-General, and said that the government was no longer functioning adequately, and asked that Parliament be dissolved. That being done, there will be a federal election on October 14th. There will be less than seven weeks of active election campaigning. The leaders of the parties get chosen at annual or biannual conventions – that’s already decided. And it’s decided by the party members, not the public at large.

I’m healthy and very happy – got good things happening. I’m keeping track of the hurricanes, and who’s been evacuated, or going to be. Praying.

Thursday, September 4, 2008


You know, I don’t know why I don’t tell you all these things first ...

Yesterday, I had an EMG. An Electro-Myelo-Graph, I think. It’s a test of how well nerves are functioning. I finally coughed up to a couple of people that I was afraid of something with my left foot. The toe’s been dropping, and I stumble on it a little sometimes – that proves I have Parkinson’s. It gets numb sometimes, especially in the middle of the night when I wake up, and the numbness spreads up the outside of my leg. That would be diabetic peripheral neuropathy – in the course of all this, I found out that I have had complete terror about neuropathy. It translates, in my insides somewhere, to, “They’re gonna cut my feet off!” Or it could be MS (I don’t know why) or the aftermath of a very peculiar traffic accident I was in years ago.

Well, my family doctor said it’s NOT neuropathy – that’s when I found out I was terrified. Could barely hold off crying til I got home. And he sent me for the EMG. My son had had one when he was about 9 and he cried all through it. You know how people tell you scary stories about how awful their tests were? A friend of mine told me it helped a lot when she substituted the thought, “This is interesting,” for “This hurts!” That made me pretty sure it would hurt a lot. One of the things I know for sure about physical pain is, we can’t hold on to a memory of it – otherwise no woman would have a second child. We remember THAT something hurt, but we can’t retrieve the pain.

That helped, while I was planning for the test – I knew that as soon as it was over it would be and stay over. Still, when I got there, I had this tummyache. There was a technician first – she told me another thing that was helpful. There would be a doctor there for the second part of the test, and I would know what the results were before I left. No waiting for a couple of weeks, fretting over what would come next. The first part of the test, she put little leads on my feet, one at a time, and ran an electric shock down the nerve. At one point, she left the room, and I knew I had a minute or two to get myself back together. I asked God to remove from me pride, fear, anger and rebelliousness about having the test, and about whatever the result would be. I asked to be okay with whatever the result was. And I prayed the Serenity Prayer – after all, whatever was the matter with my foot was already the matter with my foot – that wasn’t going to change or escalate instantly.

In fact, that part of the test was easy enough – a couple of the shocks were worse than what happens when I’m cleaning the stove with a wet cloth, and make contact with the electrical plug on top, but not many. That’s pretty manageable, too. It was frightening again when she drew a couple of lines on my leg, for the doctor to look at THAT SPOT with, later. (I didn’t ask about that; I just knew.) She asked questions about back pain, and if I’d fallen, and I knew that she wasn’t thinking about chronic illness, but about some kind of trauma – that made me feel better, for some reason. I don’t remember falling or banging anything.

Then the doctor came, asked a whole lot of questions – the usual kind about whether I smoke, and how long it’s been like this, and if I’d injured myself, checked muscle strength by getting me to push in different directions. He did a test where he stuck a little needle, like an acupuncture needle, into the muscle. Aha! The pain part was going to start. I’d thought there would be more shocks now, but the needle was a kind of microphone probe -- we could hear crackling all the sudden – electrical activity in the muscle. THAT was cool! And I could see the monitor then, and see what happened when he stressed the muscle during the test Some of that was very uncomfortable, but not really painful, and it didn’t last long.

Then the results. There’s some underlying neuropathy. “Underlying” feels like not something to worry about at this point, and my diabetes is very well controlled these days. What I believe I know about it is, there’s no way it’ll ever get better, but the very good control (and I’m doing it without meds now) will keep it from getting worse. There’s also a pinched nerve, up near my knee. That, he says, will heal itself, and take about a year.

All that was in the morning. I went home with the tummyache still – reaction. I scrubbed the heck out of the kitchen – took everything out of the fridge, including the shelves and baskets and bins, washed ‘em all and put ‘em back. Displacement activity. Said thank you to God, for the results and for not behaving any worse than I had – kitchen-cleaning as an anxiety-response is so much better than a lot of other things I’ve tried. Later I went out with friends – we sat outside til almost 11:30 and drank coffee and laughed. In the course of THAT, I got really happy – just-fallen-in-love happy, without having had the falling-in-love part. (Too bad.) That’s stayed with me, all the time I slept, and all day today.

So, everything’s sweet in this little corner of the world – I even had that yummy yoghourt again for lunch. I wish I’d thought to tell you all first though – I still operate out of the (mistaken) assumption that if I say the scary thing out loud, it will make it come true. I forget, turning the light on always makes the monster in the closet disappear, doesn’t it?

Tuesday, September 2, 2008

The Beach

It’s September. I’m not ready for it to be September. Tracy K called Friday night and said it’s supposed to be lovely weather this weekend and it’s the last summer weekend – want to go to the beach? I said, Yes.

This is Long Point, in southern Ontario. It is, to me, The Beach. A thin spot. The drive there takes three years (it’s about 100 km) and the drive home takes 20 minutes. It’s wonderful – you drive through Norfolk County, with it’s wide-apart farms. The ditches are full of flowers – white Queen Anne’s Lace and blue cornflowers, or orange daylilies, or some kind of yellow lilies. Sunday we went past a farm where they’d sown a six- or eight-foot strip of sunflowers around the perimeter of the farm. Short ones – they looked maybe waist height on me. (And I’m 5’2”.) The flowers were yellow, and I think there were thousands of them. A little further on, a field of pumpkins – the foliage had died back, and the pumpkins were pale orange in the sun. There’s willow trees and birch trees, and pines. And it’s not all lovely – there’s tent caterpillars too, and a really bad infestation in some parts of the county this year.

Long Point is a UNESCO Biosphere preserve. It’s on the migration path for a great many birds, and there’s a couple of annual counts. There’s a lighthouse, and there are an enormous number of wrecked ships around it. It’s a sand spit that runs parallel to the north shore of Lake Erie, directly south of Brantford, Ontario, and if you go south from there, the next thing after the water is Erie, Pennsylvania. The water’s shallow a long way out, and there are sand bars that shift, and baats run aground. The people who lived there over a hundred years ago, some of them made their living “blackbirding”. They’d put up lights to fake a lighthouse, and lure ships onto sandbars, and plunder them.

The sandbars make this a lovely beach for families. Because the water’s shallow and it’s all sand, it’s good for children, when the water and wind are calm and there’s no undertow. I had a great many of my birthdays there, and I’m sure I was there by my first birthday. My grandparents had a trailer and used to take it to the provincial park for weekends, with a pair of grandchildren along each time. My parents bought tents, and took us camping in the New Campground. My soon-to-be-ex-husband’s family used to rent a cottage down the other end of the Point, and have tents there too. When our son (now 26) was little, we took him tenting there. Tracy thinks it would be a good idea if we went camping next summer, and within two hours of getting home on Sunday, I’d arranged to borrow a tent. I have to tell you, the invention of 30SPF sunscreen has made the days following a trip a lot more comfortable for me.

I didn’t take these pictures Sunday; I took them in July, on a day with my aunt and my cousin. That’s their backs you see walking down the beach. It was wild that day – the strongest undertow I recall there. It was aerobic just standing hip-deep in the water, and we couldn’t really swim, just ride the waves. I’ve put in pictures of the water, which is grey because all that undertow stirred up the sand. And the sand dunes. And some beach grasses. The marsh, between the spit and the mainland. Also, a savannah sparrow, which we think was hurt – it didn’t take off when I was taking this. I did get an awful lot of pictures of a little square of empty sand though.

I’ve been three times this summer, and it’s helped restore me. That, and those rocks in the previous post. This place is timeless for me, very special. God can get at me more easily there, that’s what I said after the first visit this summer. It is so terribly difficult to leave. It’s an easy place to be, on a day like this Sunday, and it can be terribly hard – the thunderstorms that blow in are ferocious, and the ice build-ups have wrecked houses too close to the water. I remember my Papa stopping the car on the Causeway, to lift a big snapping turtle off the road, and into the side of the marsh it was heading for.