Yesterday, Twitter put me in a “time out” after I tried to follow back too many new followers too quickly. That means I can’t let people know I like their posts or follow them back for three days.
I’m using this time out to catch my breath and ask myself this question:
Why do I feel like I have to get back to people so quickly?
This sense of urgency in responding to people as soon as possible affects me at work, in my relationships, on social media, everywhere. It makes me anxious and stressed.
When somebody reaches out to me, I imagine them waiting anxiously for my reply, and I feel more and more distress the more time I take getting back to them.
This has been a problem for me at work for many years. I know I blogged about it, in a post titled “The Doritos Cure.” That title was in reference to my supervisor suggesting that instead of my imagining patients waiting anxiously by their phone for my call back, that I imagine them eating Doritos and otherwise engaging in their day-to-day lives.
I’m taking a time out now to go back to my question above, “Why do I feel like I have to get back to people so quickly?”
My best guess, here and now, is that this relates to my experiences in the hospital when I was a child. Starting when I was eight years old, I spent a lot of time alone, in physical and emotional pain, in hospital rooms, waiting for nurses and doctors to respond to me. During those times, my only companion was the hospital heart monitor in my room, beeping out the tentative beats of my very unusual heart.
I would wait for the nurses and doctors to respond to the call light. I would wait for the precious hours when family and friends were allowed to visit me.
So perhaps I project the urgent needs of that scared child onto all who are waiting for me to respond.
I’m so glad I’m taking time out of my morning to make sense of all this.
Now I’m going to take some time out to share my images for the day.
The Daily Bitch is reminding me that it’s good to take a time out from toxic people.
What do I have to look forward to if I don’t have my readers and my blog to write every day?
What do you have to look forward to if I don’t have a good enough explanation for the inspiration behind today’s post title?
When I was a little girl, there was nothing I looked forward to more than my mother finally saying “yes” to my repeated requests that we get a cat. One thing I did NOT look forward to, back then, were all the hospitalizations I needed because of my congenital heart condition. After my first major heart surgery, when I was 10 years old, I woke up from the anesthesia and said to my mother:
What do I have to look forward to if I don’t have a cat?
After I fell back asleep, I woke up again and said to my mother:
What do I have to look forward to if I don’t have a cat?
My mother looked forward and told me I could look forward to getting a cat after I came home from the hospital.
What do I have to look forward to if I don’t have a photo of me and my first cat Tuffy to share with you all?
What do I have to look forward to if I don’t have my iPhone to capture images I find interesting, while I am recovering from recent heart valve replacement surgery?
goes on adventures with me these days. That chair is where my patients usually sit as we go on, in therapy sessions, about many important issues. Yesterday, the hospital-based primary care practice where I go on practicing individual and group psychotherapy was closed down, due to all the snow that had gone on the day before.
We go on with the support of competent, caring people, don’t you think? Where I work, one of those people is Chris.
Chris is one of those people who cares so much that she’ll go on into work even when the practice is closed. In that photo, you can see her hands going on about their business, as I went on taking that photo in her office.
Soon after I took that photo, I told Chris I had to go on to a scheduled cardiac test at Children’s Hospital, across the street.
Here are some photos of me going on to the cardiac CT scan at Children’s Hospital, yesterday:
It takes courage for me to go on through those doors, since scary and painful things were going on around me in that hospital, when I was growing up.
We go on healing, throughout our lives, from painful experiences when we were younger. For me, returning to old places, in a new way, helps, as does taking photos as I go on:
Kind and competent people helped me go on through that unfamiliar test, yesterday.
Melissa and I are going on, there, about a new device that helps her find a good-enough vein for the CT scan. Because Melissa did not believe that she was photogenic (even though I went on about how untrue that was), I used Penny as a stunt double for her:
Melissa and Del (not pictured) got the needle and the IV to go on through my vein like it was supposed to.
Shall we go on, in this story, to the cardiac CT scan room?
We Bostonians — whether we’re adults, children, patients, or treaters — do go on about the Red Sox.
I shall go on, now, and introduce you to Kara
… who is standing next to her portrait in the CT scan room’s giant mural. Kara’s story about that mural reminded me that we go on, despite tragedies in our lives. The mural was designed by a man whose sister had died young, and he used her huge vinyl record collection to create the images on the wall.
Kara showed me how one co-worker, because of where she’s located in the mural, gets teased about having a split personality:
I could go on and on about the kindness of Kara and Melissa, who took care of me with heated blankets during the CT scan procedure and ginger ale and snacks after it was all over:
That was my first ginger ale in about 50 years! When I was a kid at Children’s Hospital, ginger ale was the only drink they had going on there, and I haven’t been able to stomach it since … until I decided to try it again, yesterday.
We go on, when we try things with a new perspective. That ginger ale tasted delicious.
After the cardiac CT scan, I had to go on to more tests at Brigham and Women’s Hospital, nearby.
Yesterday morning, one purple glove of mine reunited with another one.
The black mitten on the right might have to remain alone, instead of reuniting with its lost partner. No matter what happens in the future, I now have enough gloves to keep me warm.
After happily reuniting one purple glove with another in the morning, I then reunited with my close-friend-since-we-were-5-years-old, Barbara. (Previous reunitings with Barbara can be found in posts here, here, here, and here).
On my drive to Barbara’s home yesterday, I saw a sign hoping to reunite a pet with its owner:
Barbara and I reunited in one of the common areas in her apartment building where, I assume, people reunite all the time.
In that photo, Barbara is reuniting me with one of my favorite winter treats — hot chocolate — produced from this impressive machine, uniting Starbucks with at-home brewing:
Those of you reuniting with my blog today may have recognized a familiar item in the photos above: my bongos (with which you can reunite here and here).
I brought the bongos to Barbara’s, yesterday, along with a quiche and lots of fruit.
I brought all these things to my reunion with Barbara because she — like me — has been dealing with some very challenging situations lately. Barbara and I grew up together and we both come from families where reuniting somebody with fruit (and other gifts) = love.
While none of my previous family or friend reunitings have involved bongos, I chose to bring bongos to Barbara yesterday because:
those bongos have proved to be a very useful tool for me to express and let go of frustration, fear, and other feelings about medical challenges not currently in my control and
bongos are a particularly fun way to reunite.
Much to my reuniting delight, Barbara agreed to borrow my bongos and to use them as best she can. In this next photo, you can see the bongos uniting, on Barbara’s work desk, with some other helpful tools for reducing stress (which regular readers of this blog may have reunited with before):
Then, Barbara reunited the bongos with their official name:
In the next photo, my soon-to-be-bongo-ing friend, Barbara, is reuniting with something new she recently created:
Have you ever heard of an Art (or Paint) Bar? Apparently, these socializing establishments reunite people with art talent they may or may not have ever expressed before. I shall now reunite you with that painting Barbara created, for a closer look:
Barbara told me yesterday she had NEVER PAINTED ANYTHING BEFORE she painted that at Pinot’s Palette Franchise in Lexington. I am now, as I’m writing this, reuniting with my amazement about Barbara’s new, previously undiscovered artistic skills, since that painting easily reunites me with my memory of Boston’s Leonard Zakim Bridge:
(I reunited with that visual memory of the Zakim bridge here, thanks to Tony Hisgett.)
My son and I, when we were reuniting with my late mother every weekend, called that “The Wishbone Bridge” as we passed by it on Sundays. Can you see why?
What other important memories would I like to reunite with now, regarding my reuniting with Barbara yesterday?
Yesterday, Barbara and I firmly reunited with our resolve to not let cognitive distortions (pictured above, with bongos) and other unhelpful thoughts get in the way of our well-being, including our on-going and valuable reuniting with each other. We reminded ourselves and each other, during our reunion yesterday to:
let go of counter-productive mind-reading about each other (e. g., “she’ll be mad at me if I’m late” or “she won’t have time for me this weekend, so I won’t even ask to get together”) and
remember, as best we can, that we will always do whatever we can to support each other.
For example, Barbara offered, yesterday, to reunite with me during an upcoming medical appointment. I told Barbara that my ex-sister-in-law, Deborah, had also offered (in a comment to this post) to accompany me when I visit some of the bevy of cardiologists who are currently reuniting and interrupting with my life.
People offering to accompany me to medical appointments is a very powerful antidote, for me, to a particularly unhelpful, pernicious, disturbing, and stubborn thought that I reunite with, constantly:
Ann, you are alone in these scary, medical experiences.
Why do I keep reuniting with that thought, despite evidence everywhere to the contrary? Because that felt very true when I was a little kid, growing up in the hospital. But it’s not true now.
I would assume that some people reading this post have unhelpful thoughts they reunite with, at times, such as:
I am damaged, beyond repair.
I am unworthy.
I am hopeless.
I am alone.
If you do have unhelpful thoughts you reunite with regularly, could you please unite with me, today, and allow for the possibility that those are simply NOT TRUE?????
If you would like to unite with me on that, feel free to reunite with me via a comment, below.
Anyway, I would now like to reunite this post to my day yesterday. Reuniting with Barbara was wonderful personal medicine for me — even better than going bongos!
After my visit with Barbara, I reunited with my boyfriend Michael, and we did our usual Sunday evening food shopping. There, I reunited with things that reminded me of past posts I’ve written here, including:
At the check-out counter, Michael and I reunited with our old friend Al:
Whenever we reunite with Al, there are lots of words and attitude flying around. I witnessed this, yesterday:
Al: Do you know why I always check the eggs before someone walks out of here? I check them every time because I want to make sure nobody returns them.
Michael: I thought you did it to be annoying.
Al: No! It’s because I’m a professional.
Al, at other times we’ve reunited with him, could easily have replied to Michael, instead, “I do it to be annoying to YOU, Michael.” However, everybody seems to be behaving a little differently these days. Maybe that’s because they’re reuniting with familiar time-of-the-year traditions, like these:
What song do you think would be a good one to reunite with, now?
How about this one?
I’ve chosen that version of “Reunited” by Peaches and Herb (found here on YouTube) in honor of Barbara, because (1) Barbara likes music with lyrics and (2) we might have watched that show together when it first aired in 1979, a year where we had reunited as roommates.
I realize I’ve reunited today with my tendency to write long posts — on a MONDAY MORNING, no less — when you might not have the time to read this. If so, I hope you reunite with it later (and maybe even let me know what you think of all the reunitings here).
Many thanks to Barbara, Deborah, Michael, Al, Peaches, and Herb; to people who do their best to reunite with helpful thoughts and behaviors; to all those things I like to reunite with, such as quiche, fruit, musical instruments, antidotes, peaches, herbs, candles, and latkes; and — of course! — to you and every other person in my reuniting community, here and now.
When something happens we can’t understand or explain, what do we do? Often, we try to make meaning of what just happened.
Sometimes, we can’t.
If something upsetting happens, we often look to ascribe blame — against ourselves and others.
I actually don’t know why I’m writing these words right now. They do relate to a discussion I witnessed in a therapy group yesterday, but I can’t make meaning of how this topic fits with some photos I want to show you.
I think I should have stuck with my original title for this post: “Some photos I took on Wednesday.” That would have worked, really easily.
Why did I change the title, the way I did? I can’t make meaning of that, right now.
Now what should I do? And who is to blame for this less-than-optimal blogging situation? Me, you, or somebody else?
Who cares? Let’s just look at the photos.
Here’s a little item I got many years ago, which I keep in my office:
How do we make meaning of THAT? What the heck is it? Is it animal, vegetable, or mineral?
I’ll tell you this: it’s made out of wood.
I’ll give you a hint. It’s a kind of transformer.
I mean, it’s like a transformer because it (1) has moving parts and (2) turns into something else. However, I may have misled you with that last image, or raised your expectations too high. My thing is not quite that intricate, flashy, or up-to-date. I hope you still like it, though.
Here it is:
Here’s the meaning I ascribe to that: it looks, to me, like a wondrous, special and unusual place to stay.
Sometimes I do stay in unusual places. Like, last night I had a sleep-over at a hospital.
Now I’m misleading you, again. That is NOT where my sleep study was. That’s actually a hospital for children.
I’m not a child, so I don’t belong there. How do I feel about that?
If you have trouble making meaning of that, I’ll be more direct. I’m very glad I’m no longer a child.
One of the many advantages of being an adult? You get more freedom of expression.
For example, you can take whatever pictures you like and present them as you choose:
I’m actually not sure what I’m trying to convey in this post. Which might make it difficult for you to make meaning of it all.
I will tell you some feelings I had while I was writing this post: I prefer being home to being in hospitals. I don’t like medical machines attached to me, at night. And, based on this part of my sleep-study, I will, most likely, getting a CPAP machine, to bring into my home:
Before I end this post, I want to tell you this: I wrote most of this last night, before I left for the hospital.
I’m writing this ending at yet another hospital, where I work.
The sleep study went better than I expected. I slept fine with the CPAP machine. And I think it’s actually going to help me feel better (despite my old, childhood-acquired negative feelings about medical machines).
I will probably write more about this, perhaps in tomorrow’s post. For now, here are some images from this morning (and feel free to make meaning of them, or not):
Thanks to transformers of all kinds, to Boston-based hospitals and medical centers; to people who do their best in making meaning (and changes in their lives); to sleep-study expert Lori, her daughter Allie, and Allie’s friend Isabella; and to you — of course! — for the meaning you are making, today.
Thanks to the Beatles, to Mary Oliver, to the Longwood Medical Area of Boston (including Children’s Hospital, where I spent many days in my life), to my workplace, and to all the participants at the Northeast Society for Group Psychotherapy’s yearly 3-day conference in Boston (for which I arrived five hours early, yesterday). Many thanks to you, especially, for glancing and observing, on this day in your life.
Yesterday, I revisited pacemaker clinic. Bob — who is part of my team there — reprogrammed my pacemaker, which was a definite improvement.
While I’ve known Bob for many years, I discovered some new things about him, yesterday. For example, Bob:
doesn’t read my blog (or any other blog),
considers himself old-fashioned,
can picture himself living in the early 1800’s, and
admires The Corps of Discovery.
Do you know what The Corps of Discovery is?
Yesterday, I thought Bob was saying:
The Core of Discovery.
until he explained how it was really spelled, and that it was the original name for the Lewis and Clark Expedition.
Here’s what Google first discovers, this morning, about Corps of Discovery:
Lewis and Clark Expedition – an expedition sent by Thomas Jefferson to explore the northwestern territories of the United States; led by Meriwether Lewis and William Clark; traveled from St. Louis to the mouth of the Columbia River from 1803 to 1806
Bob also told me about a favorite book, about the Corps of Discovery:
I like the name of that book, very much.
After my visit with Bob yesterday, where I felt very validated and renewed, I held a core of discovery in my heart, as I made passage back through the hospital. That is, I viewed everything with new eyes, including what I saw in the hallway of The Floating Hospital, the children’s unit of Tufts Medical Center:
In 1894, the Boston Floating Hospital was established by a Congregational minister, the Rev. Rufus Tobey. At the time, many believed in the cleansing and therapeutic qualities of sea air to improve health, and Tobey had heard of a hospital ship for children in New York. For the next 33 years, two successive ships were home to the hospital for children in Boston Harbor. In 1931, after the second Floating Hospital for Children ship was destroyed in a fire, the hospital was relocated to a permanent building onshore.
I also saw more, yesterday, in the hallway there:
Now, I’m off to make more discoveries about being a group therapist, at the first day of a three-day conference.
Thanks to Bob (although he’ll probably never see this); to the Corps (and the Core) of Discovery; to Alison Hayes, Meg Dempsey, Jeremy Zschau, and all others contributing to the art I saw yesterday; to children in hospitals everywhere; to those who have navigated through rough seas; and to you — of course! — for discovering here, with me, on this day.*
Well, I’m not sure if you wrote all of this just to avoid saying you don’t want to go, or if you are okay going… You’ve been hearing “I don’t want to go” out of others, and you shared some of your own experiences – but since you didn’t say you didn’t want to, then I just have to go with your written words and wish you well! I would imagine that it won’t be pleasant, but I bet you get a lot of good information out of it and that information can only help as you go forward!
Plus, you have a concert to look forward to!
… which I’ve been thinking about a lot. I wrote a reply yesterday, but I want to write another one, now:
I’m not sure, either.
I seem to have some fear, that is all out of proportion to what’s going to happen tonight in my sleep study at the hospital. At the same time, I agree that I will probably get a lot of useful information out of it.
I know that tonight’s sleep study will not be like my hospital stays when I was a kid.
Actually, that’s not true. I’ve been told that they are going to put gook and electrodes in my hair and electrodes on my body tonight. When I was a kid in the hospital, I REALLY hated that (especially the gooky hair part, which only happened once).
So, Kate, I would say that I Do Want to Go AND I Don’t Want to Go.
As I was writing that reply to Kate, I was having associations to the Gooky Hair thing they did to me was I was 8 or 9 (they did an EEG study on me, in the hospital, to rule out epilepsy, because I was fainting, because of my heart).
If I google images for “sleep study,” maybe I’ll find something that will make me feel better and less anxious about tonight.
Ann, I think God must’ve installed a very good heart full of tenderness and compassion in you at that young age. It shines every time you write (your cats know it too!). You can certainly know that our thoughts and prayers ARE going with you.
Also, Cat wrote to me, blessedly soon after I posted:
beautiful cats. hope everything works out okay
For several reasons, I’m feeling less anxious now.
Thanks to Dooley Noted (for the first photo, for his awesome attitude, AND for being from my beautiful Boston … I think), to all my amazing readers — those I quoted here AND those I did not — and to you, of course, for being here, today.
I think that was a good post, if I do say so myself. Not bad at all. And if you click on the link, and travel back in time and space to go there, I think you’ll enjoy it. I know I learned a lot, from the experience of living that day and writing about it, so you might learn something, too.
So what did I want to tell you today, now that I’ve completed that past-oriented introduction? I wanted to journey back into the past, again — although not so far — by writing about yesterday.
Yesterday, my dear readers, was a challenging day. And “challenging,” sometimes, is a euphemism for “bad.”
What made my day challenging?
It was the day after Christmas. I really don’t like working on the day after Christmas. Somehow, I had forgotten that. (Note to self: remember, next year, that you don’t like working on the day after Christmas.)*
A lot of people didn’t show up. The corridors, throughout the hospital where I work, were eerily empty. And this reminded me, big time, of being stuck in the hospital, when I was a kid, during Christmas time. And even though I didn’t celebrate Christmas then, that really, really sucked.
Around 3 PM**, I got a wicked craving for comfort food. And I knew exactly what I wanted: Macaroni and cheese. I wanted that so badly, visions of it were dancing in my head:
Now, where was I? Oh yes, reasons why my day sucked, yesterday.
Ooops! My language changed there, didn’t it? I think I need something to eat.
I’m back! So, where was I? Oh yes, reasons why my day was challenging, yesterday. I will end that list with this:
There was no macaroni and cheese, to be found.
However, my day got better, as days often do. What helped make it better?
Somebody showed up for my group last night.
I learned a lot.
And, while I don’t like to fortune-tell — because who knows what today will bring — I’m pretty sure that today will turn out all right, too.
Because the hospital cafeteria is serving this:
Thanks to people who love macaroni and cheese, and — according to my old student and current Facebook friend, Chris — that includes everybody. But just in case it doesn’t, thanks to you, for visiting today.
* Chances are, I won’t remember this, unless I read my own blog posts.
** I wanted to check my memory on the timing here, and I thought I could do that easily, because I tweeted about this yearning yesterday. However, Facebook is telling me this happened 15 hours ago and Twitter is telling me it happened 16 hours ago. Arrrghhh. So, never mind.