Don’t call us, we’ll call you

April 27, 2014

A good life

Filed under: Chronic illness, History, Personal — Tags: , , — llcall @ 11:39 pm

In a comment on my post earlier this week, Em mentioned that Laura Hillenbrand, the author of Seabiscuit and Unbroken, had spoken publicly about her struggles with Chronic Fatigue Syndrome. I had never heard her “story” before so I looked up her New Yorker essay, along with assorted interviews and articles. So many parts were eerily familiar. We were almost the same age at onset, dropping out of college, being accused of making up our symptoms to avoid going back to school (so puzzling since college was the best thing ever!), and deemed more fitting for a psychiatrist than a physician. Many things from this interview on Beliefnet resonated with my experience, but especially her response to what advice she would give to others with CFS. She said:

It’s such an individual journey. But what I would say is, no matter what happens with this illness, I think it is possible to carve out a dignified and productive life. This illness takes everything away from you, and you have to find completely different ways to define what your life will mean to you. But I think it’s possible to make a good life. I have been happy in the time that I’ve been sick. It requires a real redefinition of everything, but I think it is possible to do.

More than anything, getting sick as a teenager forced me to completely redefine my life. Everything was gone, and I had to put things back together one little piece at a time. But like her, I know it’s possible to “carve out a dignified and productive life.” I’m really not sure how long this new “day job” will be sustainable for me, which is why I’m so grateful to live in a time where I know I can do productive work right from my own bed. Despite the hopelessness that I’ve sometimes felt over the last month, I know I’ve had a good life and that I will continue to, regardless of how my health ebbs and flows.

April 21, 2014

March: Work

I organized; I cooked. Two months in a row sticking to my plan isn’t too shabby! Alas, no research happened in March. But lots of work nonetheless. If I had known at the start of this year that I would be taking on another job, I probably would have changed 2014’s theme from Do ALL THE THINGS! to Just Stay Alive. I know working Monday through Wednesday from 8:30-3:15 doesn’t sound like a ton, but oh goodness, this has been a hard change!

I managed it pretty well in March, but April has been another story. I’ve been sick almost every day in April, even missing a whole week of work. I think I have taken for granted my relative good health these last couple of years and forgotten how grinding more intense chronic pain, sickness, and insomnia gets.  It has been a struggle to not slip into a depression after the last two and a half weeks. (I should probably reread this post.) Working out of my house, which I haven’t done in a rigid way since probably 2005, certainly adds an extra layer of stress when I’m feeling ill. At 4:30 am it really doesn’t help to keep telling myself, “You have to sleep. You have to get up in 3 hours . . . 2 hours . . . 1 hour.”

Despite all that, my new job is a good combination of great coworkers (I think that has all but solved my need for a social outlet in our town), direct service, and repetitive paperwork. I know some people hate paperwork, but for me, the paperwork is essential. I love the precision element of it — my paperwork can be nearly perfect with effort, even if the lives of my clients (and all humans, obviously) are always messy. And I love the space it offers to decompress after those difficult meetings. But even in those difficult meetings — like the one with someone whose husband had abandoned her after a particularly messy fight several days before, in which I had to find a way to gently express that breaking things throughout the house is in fact a sign of domestic violence even if he didn’t break her — there is something refreshing in comparison to prison work. Because I can always help them, somehow. Even if it’s just a bag of food from our Food Pantry or a pack of diapers or a small gift card to the local market, I know I can always send them away with a tangible thing that will make them feel a little more hopeful about the future. Not to mention a hug or supportive touch on the arm. Human touch is valuable; it’s only in replaying all these meetings, first with my incarcerated men and now with these men and women, that I see how different a meeting is in which we often could not even shake hands.

I need to go back to work tomorrow despite still not being in the best shape physically. Writing this out made that prospect feel just a little bit easier.

April 20, 2014

Easter wrestlings

Filed under: Books, Personal — Tags: , , , , , , — llcall @ 10:21 pm

Can you believe I finally had the wherewithal to post about Halloween and it is apparently another holiday that I’m supposed to have candy and baskets for? Who can keep up?

Although we didn’t manage anything resembling egg dying or Easter baskets — unless you count the fact that Neal put a couple of pieces of candy in some of her bath toys and buried them in the backyard for her to dig up — I have been thinking about the meaning of Easter. Perhaps it’s largely a reflection of my state of mind right now (which has been a bit depressed as of late), but I’ve been a little troubled about it.

Rather than go into detail on all that, I want your opinion on something, mostly context-free of my own thoughts. It is this:

Derek Flood model

(A table from this book chapter by evangelical theologian Derek Flood) 

If you have any exposure to Christianity or the New Testament, regardless of your religious status now, I’d love to hear what you think about this. Does one of these more closely represent your concept of justice and mercy? What do you think your own religion or the New Testament teaches on this subject? (As you may be able to gather, Flood, in his book Healing the Gospel, contends that most people see Christianity through the lens of the Criminal Model when in fact he believes the New Testament presents it another way.)

Feel free to hit me up with a private email if you’re not comfortable posting a public comment. I’d love to hear your thoughts or relevant experiences!

April 19, 2014

Happy Halloween!

Filed under: Family, Motherhood, Personal — Tags: , , — llcall @ 9:29 pm

Wait, what? You don’t celebrate Halloween in March? Can I at least get credit for buying the pumpkin in October?

I had been promising Addison that we would paint her pumpkin, so I thought it was high time after 5 months and some major pumpkin wiltage. I know some people prefer carving but (1) yuck and (2) you can’t carve a pumpkin that’s probably molded right out internally.

DSCN9870 resizeDSCN9877 resize

 We don’t paint very often around here, but when we do, we don’t mess around!

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