Health and Wellness

Christmas BirdThings have been on hold the last couple of months. My mother has had some health issues that have superseded just about everything else in my life. It has been a couple of months of long hospital stays and learning how to do IVs and other medical necessities. She is having yet another surgery today, and hopefully, this will be the start of the recovery… but we’ll see. I’ve thought that before.

Parents with health problems are never easy, as many of us know. It is a difficult situation on so many levels. In our minds at least, we are still the children – we are the ones that should be taken care of. But what choice do we have? There comes a time when we see the roles reverse. The children become those who are stronger, sharper, more informed and the parents are weaker, more confused and less able to handle the jungle of medical issues. My sister and I have been working together as team to get through it. We divy up duties, visits, conversations. We also support one another and give each other a place to vent. I’ve always been grateful I have had a sister, but the last couple of months have brought it into crystal clarity.

For the most part, I am able to treat these situations with a calm equanimity. Of course, other times I am petrified inside, but I don’t allow myself to linger on that. Instead I just try to figure out what’s next, what needs to be done. To me, there really isn’t any choice. When it comes to family, there are just things that you have to do.

With Mom it has been a constant dance routine of a few steps forward, a few steps back. I can cheer at the steps forward and laugh with gallows humor at the steps back. The situation is exhausting, but I can keep going, if need be. I can put most of my fears, worry and anxiety on a back shelf. Even though my Mom herself can be a bit… trying at times, I can let most of it slide off me like water off a duck’s back.

Again, that’s most of the time. Other times I get overwhelmingly angry at her. Oh, I know it isn’t even remotely her fault, but logic has little to do with it. The anger wells up in me and I have to do everything in my power not to let it out. And other times I get sad. Not because of what is happening now, but because I see the future. Her health problems are serious, but not life threatening. However, she isn’t going to get any younger. Health problems are bound to happen again.

…I try not to think about that though.

In the meantime, Christmas is right around the corner. I have presents wrapped, Christmas music on the radio, and I’m wearing my Christmas socks. Sometimes, that’s all you can ask for.

Photo credit: Paparutzi

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Helping Someone Else

This afternoon I was searching Google images for a graphic of a brown paper bag. This was the first one in the image search and perfect for what I was looking for. What I wasn’t expecting was also finding a really thoughtful blog post about a way to deal with stress:

Brown Bag by John Ryan

Several years ago my younger sister attended a seminar.

Would you trade this bag for another?

One of the exercises had to do with “our problems”, you know, the things we all complain about or stress over. All of the attendees were given a brown lunch bag and several small pieces of paper. They were asked to write down all of their problems on the pieces of paper provided, fold the papers and place them in the bag.

Once everyone was done, they were instructed to get up and exchange their bag with someone else in the room that they didn’t know!

Though you were able to get rid of “your problems” you were going to receive someone else’s. How would you feel? Would you do it?

What if the bag you received was worse than yours?
What if one of the problems you received was fatal?

After the exercise there was a discussion. It turned out that very few people were willing to give away their problems and take on someone else’s. The bottom line, we have figured out how to deal with our own problems even if we do complain on occasion. No life is without problems.

If you want to feel better, may I offer a suggestion? Reach out and help someone. As you put yourself out for some else your problems take a back seat. Some may say the motivation is selfish? If it makes the person you help feel better and you feel better – does the motivation matter?

Your thoughts?

Read more of John Ryan’s blog here:  Pay It Forward