From the monthly archives:

March 2009

The elephant in the room

by lulujane on March 27, 2009

An elephant in the room is something people may perceive as a problem, difficult situation or such, but no one talks about it.  They don’t want to bring it up in case it creates uncomfortable feelings for the person being asked, or they know it may bring up emotion for them, and they aren’t prepared to deal with it.  As an example, if a woman has had a miscarriage and is suffering her grief in silence, or her husband has left her and she is feeling abandoned, or a close relative has passed away.

dsc_0126xIn reality, in a large number of instances it is important for the grieving person to be able to talk about their pain.  Talking about it may not cause tears and then again, it may evoke intense emotion.  Along with being heard and validated, tears and emotion may be the catalyst that helps this person heal.

While the elephant isn’t being discussed in many cases, there are lots of people waiting to be asked the question to have an opportunity to talk about their issue , conspicuous in its not being talked about.

Quite a few years ago I was aware of a distant relative who was confined to hospital with a serious illness.  She was dying.  This person was very fond of me and I’m sure would have been pleased by my visit.  For heaven’s sake, the hospital was just up the street.  At the time I was young and I was afraid of what my eyes might see, so I pretended the elephant wasn’t there and stayed at home.

I should have been present for her.  Since that time I have grown and I have learned from this.  Now I am able to sit with someone who needs to tell their story.  I can be present, hear their pain and sit through their tears.  I can be strong for them.  If someone is sharing a devastating experience and having a difficult time holding it together they sure don’t want to talk about it to someone who is falling apart with them.  Then they feel obligated to take care of the caregiver.  This is something that I am able and willing to do when called upon to listen, from a place of groundedness, love and compassion.

I am embarrassed that I didn’t visit my distant relative way back then, and this has made me even more aware that I have a responsibility to be there if someone needs me in this way.

Getting back to the elephant in the room, I have been living on my own since about 1993 – a period of almost 16 years.  Yesterday I was walking with an old friend.  We stopped at a Tim’s for a coffee and the conversation flowed.  At one point she asked me “how is it out there? What’s it like living alone”.  I shared some thoughts and experiences with her and a few hours after we parted I realized that nobody ever asks me this question.

It was the elephant in the room yearning to be recognized – at least it was until my friend was perceptive enough to ask.


Life’s miracles

by lulujane on March 22, 2009

On Monday she had an eye exam.  Krista had been wearing glasses for about two years and recently complained to her mother that she was having problems seeing.  On the day of the exam the doctor reported that her vision had deteriorated three steps.  With an updated prescription she went home with a new pair of glasses.  “I can see again”.

On the next day, Tuesday, concerns about her excessive thirst took her to a medical clinic and following tests she was directed to a local hospital’s Emergency Department. This long day was a combination of waiting, tests, more waiting, no food, and more tests.  The diagnosis – Type 1 Diabetes.

Krista turned 14 two weeks before.  She is a beautiful young girl, inside and out.  At the hospital that day hunger dictated by fasting periods for blood work were frustrating.  Her tummy was aching, she was tired and this made her angry.  Having been poked and prodded throughout the day she went home that night with instructions to return in the morning for more blood work to determine blood glucose levels, etc.  More fasting.  In the morning the doctor arrived later than the appointment time and then requested more blood work necessitating a longer fasting period.  Her mom told me that as long as Krista is fed she is fine, so the long periods without eating were hard on her.

dsc_0059xThe greatest portion of the day on Wednesday was teaching and instruction which included body science/biological functions, dietary information,  how to give insulin injections, how to pick her finger and take blood glucose readings. How to adjust the amount of insulin to the blood glucose reading, etc.  This young woman was amazing in her courageous and frustrated acceptance of  being diabetic, and the focused attention she gave to the wonderful nurse educator who walked her through this day with compassion and understanding.

Over the next few days, and continuing even now is expanded and reinforcing instruction with a hospital clinic and staff who are always accessible and only two blocks from home.

This is where I have to mention the angel.  Krista had been experiencing noticeable excessive thirst for a period of about ten days.  On the Friday prior to the Tuesday hospital admission a classmate sitting across from her commented that he noticed she was drinking a lot of fluid.  He told her that he is diabetic.  She didn’t know this.  When she got home from school that day she mentioned it to her mother, who had also noticed this change in behaviour.  Krista had no outward signs of being sick and it was this red flag that got her early treatment.  Her classmate was an angel.

On the weekend I stopped by her house to see how Krista was doing and she wasn’t wearing her glasses.  I questioned why.  She told me “because now I can see”.  It felt like a miracle to me.

Our bodies are amazing machines. In our teaching sessions we were told that diabetes progresses over a period of time, around two years before it may be diagnosed.  Two years ago she got her first pair of glasses.  The nurse/educator told us that as the body works to compensate the decreasing ability of the pancreas to function normally it withdraws moisture from other parts of our body.  This can affect vision.  She also mentioned that once the body is working more normally under the insulin protocol, vision may improve.

The biggest ongoing miracle of all is my granddaughter Krista who walks with courage, acceptance, determination  and grace.

Post script:  A few weeks later Krista was wearing her glasses.  When I asked about it, she told me that the positive change in her vision had been temporary.


I don’t do blind dates… anymore

by lulujane on March 21, 2009

Twenty minutes with a person you don’t like is too much.  Imagine feeling trapped for three hours or more.

A fewe years back a friend had been bugging me to go out with her friend.  I would like to say ‘encouraging’ me, but no, she pestered me every so often until I finally gave in.

Cautiously I decided that meeting him in a public place to go for a walk on a busily travelled walkway would be the best.  He greeted me with a flower which I suppose was a good start. I placed the rose carefully on the front seat of my car and we started out on our walk. Within five minutes he wanted to do a tune-up on my car, cook for me, invited me to his home on the weekend, asked me to join for dinner on his birthday the following week, etc.  He was trying too hard. At this point I realized I had no desire to talk about myself, and our hour long walk was filled with me asking questions and him talking about himself. I even learned that he could sew.  Now this part was tempting, because I can always use hemming alternations on the hems of new slacks.  Hmmmmm……. but ‘no’.

lindas-retirement-small1A short distance away from where our cars were parked he asked about the possibility of seeing me again.  I gently discouraged this in the best way I knew how.  As we got to the car I almost sighed because the date was over.  But he continued to extoll the virtues of my vehicle, talking about the power of the engine, walking around to kick tires, etc. for about twenty minutes.  Finally… we said our goodbyes and I got into my car, backed out and started to drive off.

Before I even had a chance to exhale in relief,  he had walked to the roadway, waving his arms, desperately trying to flag me down.  I thought ‘what now’?  He had locked his keys in his car.  His CAA had expired the day before.  I offered to call CAA using my card but he refused it because this wouldn’t be honest. We walked across the street to a riverside restaurant and he used the pay phone to call his daughter.  No answer.  Then I got the question of all questions, me, who had been seeking immediate relief from this date night, was being asked to drive him home to Leamington which about an hour’s drive from Windsor, so that he could get his spare key.  Oh well!

Who knows how much of this was contrived?  As I write this it seems as clear as white chalk on a blackboard.  At the time, I was a nice person.  I am still a nice person.  Despite working too hard to gain my approval, this fellow seemed to be a good man.  I couldn’t leave him stranded. I felt like a victim and that I didn’t have a choice.  I did have a choice.  I know that now.  My choice at the time was to say o.k.

So, I drove him to Leamington to get his keys, and back to his car in Windsor, spending an additional two hours making small talk and listening, and listening and listening.  At one point he mentioned his birthdate.  There was a coincidence here, in that his first name and birthdate were both the same as my youngest son.  I am big on synchronicity myself and didn’t dare make him aware of this as I am sure he would have seized on it as A SIGN.  I just know I didn’t see it as a sign.  The only sign I saw was “Don’t mention it”.

I did get through it as did he.  Both of us were out in the world, hesitantly hoping,  looking to find the right person to share our lives with. He was a gentleman all the way, but as the episode rolled along, it felt like I had been roped into something I would rather have avoided.

On that particular evening one of my sons was staying over at my home.  When I arrived home he was in a panic.  When I left home I had casually mentioned that I was meeting someone to go for a walk and would be home around 9:30 at the latest.  It was after 11:00 when I got home and he was frantic.  If I didn’t arrive before 11:30 he was going to drive to the parking lot to look for my car.  He was going to call the police.

Despite his panic, a warm glow passed over me.

It was sure nice having someone there who loved me, waiting for me to come home.

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Looking a gift horse/book in the mouth

by lulujane on March 20, 2009

It’s been a while since I’ve written a post and this recent  happening is aching to be shared.

A week ago I had a telephone call from Wendy, who works in the office of Northern Edge Algonquin which is owned by my son Todd and his wife Martha.   Wendy told me that Martha wanted to mail me a book and needed my mailing address.  When Martha was in town a couple of weeks ago she enthusiastically, over the top for Martha pushing a book, raved about The Soul of Money, so my inquisitive self asked Wendy if this was the book she was sending.  “No” she said, it is another book. She didn’t seem eager to share the title, so I just sat and waited for this surprise gift book.

Five days later I found a brown manilla envelope sticking out of my mailbox.  I was on my way to visit a friend, so excitedly grabbed the envelope and drove for a few miles with it sitting on the passenger side of my Ford Escape… anticipating.   I was happy for a red light, which I admit I almost invited in so I would have time to open my envelope. I tore into the brown paper and holding tape because  I love nice surprises. Martha is often the bearer of nice surprises, so my expectation was realistic.

menopause-book4Looking a gift horse/book in the mouth, I was extremely disappointed when the cover came to life, emerging from its mangled wrapper.  ‘No more HRT – Menopause – Treat the Cause‘.  What is this?    In the confined space of my car I wondered, almost aloud, if we had discussed something that may have led Martha to thinking some solution might rest  in this collection of information for mature women. So much information.  So much data.  I’m not good at this. It makes my head swim.  Now I’m sure this is a really great book. I felt guilty about being disappointed.  I felt annoyed that there may be an expectation that I should be reading something I didn’t have an interest in spending time on.

When my friend Bonnie visited the same night I shared my story.  Bonnie knows Martha and seemed equally as confused. We made jokes about it,  We howled – both of us verbally and silently questioning what was behind all this.  In the middle of our conversation I felt the polite thing to do was to acknowledge the gift, so sent Martha the following Twitter message:

“Received a textbook in the mail today on menopause. Looks like good reading. What am I looking for? and, oh yes, thank you!”

I was relieved when I got Martha’s response:

“Sorry about that! Wendy was asked to mail it to Eileen! I forgot to bring it down with me on my last visit!

I Twittered back saying I would be happy to deliver the book to Eileen who is my former husband’s wife of many years, as well as a dear friend.

Whew – What a relief!  I was afraid I might have to read it to honour the gift.

Then I went on line and ordered The Soul of Money.  Some things a girl just has to do for herself.