March 14, 2018
Caballo, New Mexico
For Antoinette, Nurse supreme!
Ha Ha. I wrote a note to myself and posted it on the wall where I cannot miss it. I fasted it to a magnet with a screw. The symbolism is clear, the note says “DIET, BODY, MIND, SPIRIT”. The screw says that if I do not abide to my own advice, I am screwed. Funny, but not. After yesterday I have a very clear perspective on my personal does, and don’ts. The meanings I have chosen to attach to the experience will serve to confirm my purpose.
Ok, friends, brace yourselves if you care to listen and if not you are forgiven! My writing has always been a ‘me first’ affair from the start though I have also tailored it to sharing. I write because I must, because the voice inside my spirit begs to be shared and expressed and the page has always been there to receive it. When I say shared I mean it in the truest sense of the word, not just because I need to record it. It is because I feel, deeply, that we have all been given a gift of insight and in the exchange of that we gain an equal measure of wisdom. As I have made many misjudgments in my life, but also had some enlightening epiphanies, I shall continue to share them both. Don’t say I did not warn you!
So I had to get two molars pulled yesterday. My dear dentist of many years begged off as he knows from experience the challenges of pulling my teeth, he has done one. That ordeal lasted nearly an hour, or what seemed to be, and involved a grinder. Enough said. So this time I opted for anesthesia, but I did not have anyone to stay with me so I decided on nitrous oxide. If I wasn’t looking forward to any of it the memory of the last time I had ‘laughing gas’ was favorable. When the time came I sat back with but a mild intuition that it might not be a favorable choice, but who doesn’t get worried at the dentist? Then she turned on the gas………….
It only took a few seconds before my thoughts became fractured. I went with it initially, but then it became chaotic and I quickly realized I was venturing into forbidden territory. Verging on panic I removed the mask. I informed the nurse, in a voice that was oddly distant from my own, that I couldn’t handle the gas, even as the panic continued to escalate. She convinced me to put the mask back on by telling me she had to give me oxygen to assure I wouldn’t get a fierce headache. I breathed that in until I felt calm and quickly removed it. I will be forever endeared to her strength and consideration as she walked me back to sanity, and then some, as she and I found much common ground in the process. I was sorry when the conversation ended, and also quite focused.
The ensuing procedure wasn’t much more fun, but went quickly, though I think the doctor was accustomed to his patients being sedated as he was far from considerate. But this isn’t about the dentist or the teeth, it is about me. The need to rationalize the experience stayed with me, and it is meaningful enough to capture. What of the chaos that so frightened me as the gas pervaded my thoughts, and why did I immediately descend into a state of near panic? I initially blamed it on past, drug induced excursions into madness. Twenty six years ago I freed myself from a two year hiatus from reality, but the experience will remain with me forever. If I was, for the most part, a weekend warrior, I still suffered from addiction. That adventure took me over the brink on more than one occasion, though miraculously I survived intact, to the best of my knowledge. Having achieved a successful career since then I have to be assured I m reasonably functional!!! I do believe, in that brief excursion at the doctor’s office, I revisited the boundary. Having learned to put order into chaos and to keep it there I have no desire to ever cross that line. That said, even if I still harbor a fascination for the peyote ceremony, I have decided now I will never attempt it! Though my spirit is strong, I may not have the resilience to make that journey.
You all can bail off here if you wish to but I am inclined to share this!!! If I so often write of such things and never publish them there is also a lesson here. For a moment I encountered chaos, in the fullest sense of the word, as the gas wreaked havoc on the order of my thoughts. If I have done my best to retain my spontaneity, and the ensuing innocent trust equated to the same, I am also very structured person. I require order in my life to function, discipline to survive, and purpose to remain on task. Though I still struggle to keep that in balance I believe for the most part I function well, though I am more driven at times than I wish to be. Age is teaching me how to temper that and I am reasonably successful. Yesterday’s lesson brought it further into perspective and I am trying to capture that here.
Might I have allowed the gas to make me laugh rather than the ensuing tears? Could I have allowed it to take me for a moment knowing I would return less two teeth but uncaring about the method of removing them? Perhaps, but if I could do it again I would prefer the degree of consciousness I suffered through. Truth be known, even if I have little desire for any sort of intoxication, I will avoid the same going forward and haven’t even touched my pain pills. Ibuprofen will have to do! The lesson is clear enough. If I have functioned well in a state of clarity for years perhaps I have over done it to of late as I have struggled to rejoin the workforce. If I am, to a great degree, happy with that outcome, I have also pushed up against the boundary of balance. Yesterday, briefly, took me over the edge. I returned enlightened by the journey.
DIET, BODY, MIND, SPIRIT. Having decided now is the perfect time to go on a diet and shed these fifteen pounds which have been haunting me, it is also time to attend to all my other needs. If I have always tried to focus on body, mind and spirit I too often get sidetracked, and suffer for having done so. I am not so far off track but yesterday left me feeling fragile enough to feel the need to center. I have already done so, as I did sitting in the dentist’s chair afterwards, ready for all that was to come. I saw it through gracefully, with a firm grip on the chair! I awakened today with that same resolve.
In my life, maintaining my balance is essential to my survival. If I have always been aware of that it has never been more critical than it is now. I will be sixty in July. If I am not yet old, neither am I young, and I am beginning to feel the warning signs of age. If I can expect to live at least another twenty five years, and possibly more given the longevity of my family, I want to enjoy them! So it is, even as I firm my resolve on one end, I will loosen the constraints on the other. I will lighten up and try to relax my approach to my work and responsibilities while honing in closer on myself. I will eat better, walk more and rejoice in the joy of my life, though the latter is already a constant. If I am mindful enough, there is always room for more, and the less I worry the more time there is for that! Having conquered chaos for the most part, perhaps I can loosen the constraints there also, and maintain order in a calmer fashion. It is well worth a try, I can always alter the approach.
This then is a lesson for us all, if you have borne with me to the finish! I think again of the nurse who stayed the course for me yesterday. I thought her a bit tough at our meeting, abrupt and professional, with a coat of armor as well. So quickly I found myself relying on that strength, a role she must play far too often. She then gave more of herself than I would have expected, something I will often do myself, a seemingly rare trait in this modern world. She not only calmed my panic, she then led me back to my strengths as she shared the story of her own, while taking the time to hear mine also. She did not have to do that! I hope she will chance to read this, so I might return the favor. It is something we could all do a bit more of, though being selective is important. This is much the reason I write, so I need not pick and choose!
For Antoinette, “Relax girl, it will be ok!!! Those struggles you have faced have made you who you are. Those kids, they will grow strong and survive, as you have done. You are their rock, and even if they battle your discipline, they will reflect it as adults. I know, for mine have done the same. Your job??? I hope they pay you well because it asks a lot of you, but we are lucky to have you there. Stay strong, but take some time for yourself also, it gets easier in some ways, but tougher in others. You made a friend yesterday, and gave her much insight. God bless you girl! If you ever need anything let me know. I made it, and so shall you! Thank you!”
To my friends and readers: Thank you for being there to share with, and for staying the course!!! Cheers!