Posts Tagged With: fear

Day 1532: What are you grateful for?

What are you grateful for?

I’m grateful for bumper stickers that help me think and blog.

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I’m grateful for people who question  assumptions and for the National Park Service.

I’m grateful for dishwashers, dogs, and funny pictures of animals.

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I’m grateful for doctors, nurses, and other medical treaters who have kept me alive for sixty-four years of  happiness, kindness, love, and treats.

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I’m grateful for cats and cucumbers, which appear together in several videos on YouTube including this one:

 

 

I’m grateful for not being afraid of cucumbers.

I’m grateful for all  who help me create this grateful blog  and I’m grateful to YOU!

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Categories: personal growth, photojournalism | Tags: , , , , , , , , , , | 34 Comments

Day 1465: Malware Where?

Yesterday morning, I asked the blogging question  Why Should I be Afraid?  Last night, right before I planned to go to sleep, I’m afraid I downloaded some malware from out there here onto my laptop.

Should I be afraid of malware?  I am, so I spent hours eradicating it here when I should have been asleep there on my pillow.

Malware was here, there, and everywhere. Today, I’m trying to feel safe enough here on this computer.

Likewise,  evil is here, there, and everywhere. Today, I’m trying to feel safe enough here on this earth.

I hear myself say, here and now,  that goodware and good people are also here, there, and everywhere. So  I believe I am safe enough here, in this moment.

Music is here, there and everywhere.

Malware is to share  but  — as Paul tells us there —  love is to share, also.

New photos where?  They’re there on my iPhone, here on my laptop, and now everywhere, shared on the internet.

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Change you can wear is where?   As I’m writing this, it’s in my drawer.  Soon, I’ll be wearing it there to work.

Here’s hoping for comments  here, there, and everywhere.

My thanks to all the good people who helped me create this blog post and to all you good people are where?

Here.

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Categories: personal growth, photojournalism | Tags: , , , , , , , , | 32 Comments

Day 345: Things That Won’t Kill Me

This post was inspired by (1) expat eye‘s excellent comment on my post yesterday and (2) waking up with a painful leg cramp (among other things).

So, here’s a list of Things That Won’t Kill Me (despite messages from primitive parts of my brain to the contrary):

  1. Pain.
  2. The cold.
  3. The dark.
  4. Water.
  5. Heights.
  6. Mistakes (mine)
  7. Mistakes (other people‘s).
  8. People getting angry at me.
  9. My getting angry at other people.
  10. Jealousy or envy.
  11. Not getting enough sleep.
  12. Not doing what I’m told to do (challenging authority).
  13. Being late.
  14. Losing things.
  15. Hurting somebody else’s feelings.
  16. Disappointment.
  17. Change.
  18. My feelings, in general.
  19. Other people’s feelings, in general.
  20. My heart, despite its unusual qualities.

(Note: I’ve linked everything on that list to a past post. Because I had so many choices and so little time,  I may have made some mistakes. However, see #6, above.)

Obviously, that’s a partial list. However, I need to stop the list. (Setting limits won’t kill me either, apparently.)

Now, you might argue that some of the things on that list MIGHT kill me.  Just to quell those disagreements (although disagreements are another thing that won’t kill me), let me change the title of the list to this:

Things That Won’t Kill Me, Today

Does anybody still want to argue?

Before I end this post, I would like to add one more thing to that list:

Compliments.

Why am I adding that to the list, now? Because I have new and exciting proof of the non-deadly-ness of compliments; namely, all the positive feedback I’ve been getting here.

Also, by adding “compliments,” I can introduce some photos I took yesterday, on my walk after work, past a construction site I pass all the time.

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As I took those photos, I thought, “These words apply to a lot of people I know.”

Anybody want to own those for themselves, now?

After all, it won’t kill you.

Thanks to everybody who is still surviving (despite all the things that could kill us), including all of my wonderful readers today.

Categories: humor, inspiration, personal growth, photojournalism | Tags: , , , , | 27 Comments

Day 301: Bearing up

Yesterday, I met my old friend Lawry in Harvard Square, Cambridge, for brunch, with some members of his family.

It was great to see everybody.  I loved talking to Lawry, his wife, his daughter, his sister, his brother, and his brother’s wife.

It was particularly special for me to spend time with them, because I had been feeling some anxiety, over the weekend, about my health (and some about the Boston Red Sox, too).

And it was wonderful to be back in Harvard Square. (See “What’s the problem?” and “Random Images (paired)“, two earlier posts, for more adventures in Harvard Square.)

Here’s a little photo essay, about my time in Harvard Square yesterday.

A Little Photo Essay

by Ann

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On my way to meet Lawry and his family for brunch, I saw this amazing tree.  I had to stop and take a picture. Thank you, tree.

It was another beautiful autumn day. Those of us who live in the Greater Boston area have been remarking, this year, about how friggin’ great the fall weather has been.  Those of us who dread the onset of winter in the Greater Boston area have been wondering whether this is a good or bad omen about how painful it’s going to be, too soon. (Actually, I can only speak for my own thoughts about this.)

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Moments after  I took that first shot of the tree,  I had to stop and take the above photo. Why?  It’s a sign about a group, people!

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Here’s a closer shot of the sign (and some of the flags) that you can see in the background of the previous photo.

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As I said, it was a beautiful day. Look at those trees and that sky.

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Another sign in front of the church. I snapped this, as a is Note To Self:  “Ann, make sure you sing more (especially as the cold and dark descend)!”

After I took that photo, I stopped dilly-dallying, and focused on getting to brunch with Lawry and his family.

I didn’t have any photos of Lawry or his family members to show you today, because I was too focused on interacting with each of them, in the moment. Right now, I wish I had some visual proof of how great they all are, but you’ll just have to take my word for it.

After brunch, I went to Urban Outfitters because I needed a scarf and gloves — that is, gear for winter,  coming too soon to a location near me.

And …  I DID find a great scarf and some colorful gloves there, which definitely cheered me up. (My philosophy: If I’m going to be cold, I might as well look cool.)

While I was shopping  in the store, I couldn’t help but notice this:

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I had never seen anything quite like THAT.  I’ve noticed lots of children — and adults — wearing animal hats in these parts, but a full-bear winter coat?  I was very intrigued, but assumed it was most likely just for display. (I mean, it’s almost Halloween, for heaven’s sake.)

However, when I was in line to pay for my merchandise, I noticed that the people in front of me — a woman and her son —  had just bought one of those bear coats, which was being stuffed into a bag. I blurted out, “Wow!  You got one of those!  Can I see it?”

The woman paused, but then kindly took it out of the bag, to show me. She told me it was for her son, Asa, who was a student at Boston College. “Will you try it on for me?” I asked Asa, as I told them both about this blog.

This was Asa’s reply:

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How cool is THAT?

Now it’s a day later, and I’m still feeling better.

Many thanks to Asa and his mother, Lawry and his family, Christ Church Cambridge, Urban Outfitters, all things that make life bearable, and to you, of course, for reading today.

Categories: personal growth, photojournalism | Tags: , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , | 14 Comments

Day 287: Opening a can of worms

“Opening a can of worms” is an idiom.

“Idiom” is a word I avoid, sometimes, because it sounds like the word “idiot.”

When people use this idiom, it’s a warning about a possible negative result of change.

If you […insert change here….], you’ll be opening a can of worms!

I hear this a lot, from within and without.

If you try something new, and it doesn’t work, you’ll feel like an idiot!

If you ….

  1. change a process, at work or elsewhere,
  2. talk to somebody about something upsetting,
  3. introduce somebody new into your life,
  4. move, one way or another,
  5. take a risk, of any kind

… you might be opening up a can of worms.

Eeeeeeeeeeeeek!   Worms!!!

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Last week, at work, we were discussing a possible change, and a manager used that expression.

Yesterday, at home, I was discussing a possible change with my boyfriend, and he used that expression.

I’m not kidding, people, I hear that expression a lot.

This is what I said to my boyfriend, though:

Wait a minute!  We might be opening up a can of worms, it’s true.  But, Michael!  It’s just a can!

Because I was picturing a can of this size:

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and so was he.

So I asked,

Why are people so scared of opening a can of worms, then?

Here’s a quote, from Mental Floss, about the idiom:

Metaphorically speaking, to open a can of worms is to examine or attempt to solve some problem, only to inadvertently complicate it and create even more trouble. Literally speaking, opening a can of worms, as most fishermen can attest, can also mean more trouble than you bargained for.

Here’s another one, from Yahoo Answers:

Opening a can of worms means to start to reveal something that will be messy and hard to conceal. A literal can of worms would be filled with hundreds of squirmy worms that would fall all over the place. Attempting to catch all of them and get them back in the can would be very difficult. The same goes for so many things in our lives. Sometimes there are things that we say that can’t be reversed or put back in the can, as it were. And like the worms that spread out everywhere the thing in question will spread out and impact other people.

Hmmm.  So I guess the fear makes sense, doesn’t it?

But, as I said to Michael,

What if the worms DO all escape?  How can they hurt us, really?

I mean, it’s not like we’re opening up a Tanker of Tarantulas.

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I don’t know about you, but I’m not so scared about opening up a can of worms, right now.

Thanks to Michael, grasshopper_ramblin, spaghetti in cans, worms everywhere, people considering a change, and to you, of course, for reading today.

Categories: personal growth | Tags: , , , , , , , , , , , , | 10 Comments

Day 260: DOA (Dread of Anger)

This is a question I’ve been asking myself lately:

Why do I have so much dread about the possibility of other people getting angry at me?

It really doesn’t make sense.

How can I figure this out?

Let’s start with a definition of the word “dread”:

dread (drd)
v. dread·ed, dread·ing, dreads
v.tr.
1. To be in terror of.
2. To anticipate with alarm, distaste, or reluctance: dreaded the long drive home.
3. Archaic To hold in awe or reverence.
v.intr.
To be very afraid.
n.
1. Profound fear; terror.
2. Fearful or distasteful anticipation. See Synonyms at fear.
3. An object of fear, awe, or reverence.
4. Archaic Awe; reverence.
adj.
1. Causing terror or fear: a dread disease.
2. Inspiring awe: the dread presence of the headmaster.
[Middle English dreden, short for adreden, from Old English adrdan, from ondrdan, to advise against, fear : ond-, and-, against; see un-2 + rdan, to advise; see ar- in Indo-European roots.]

When I use the word “dread,” I’m usually thinking of definition #2 (“to anticipate with alarm, distaste, or reluctance”) rather than definition #1 (“to be in terror of”).

But maybe all definitions apply, because sometimes I CAN feel terror about other people’s anger.

And that doesn’t really make sense, because — unlike a lot of other people I know — I’ve never (in person) witnessed the traumatic results of violent anger against another human being.

I’m very lucky, that way.

So why so much dread about other people’s anger?

Here’s a piece of data: I don’t feel that Dread Of Anger all the time.

As a matter of fact, I like telling people in therapy that all of their feelings — including anger — are welcome. And, when people have gotten angry in therapy, I have authentically experienced those times as helpful for all involved.

Hmmmmm.

I don’t know if I’m going to figure this out today. And I’m going to have to leave for work, very soon.

I’m still baffled by my Dread of Anger.

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(If you’re baffled by that photo, see here.)

However, at least I took a first step, this morning, by posing the puzzle in public.

Thanks to Andy Rooney, to other people who have posed (or are otherwise dealing with) puzzles, and to you, for reading today.

Categories: personal growth | Tags: , , , , , , , , , , , | 11 Comments

Day 256: Worst nightmares (Friday the 13th)

Today is Friday the 13th.

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Eeeeeeeeeek!!!!!

So it’s time for …..

Random Thoughts about Worst Nightmares

Eeeeeeeeeeekk!!!!!!

When I woke up this morning, I felt cold.

Here’s the data on the recent weather in these parts: the temperature was in the 70’s on Monday, the 80’s on Tuesday, the 90’s on Wednesday, the 80’s yesterday, and (let me check) it’s going to be in the 70’s today.

When I’m in a therapy session — individual or group — people often hesitate to name their worst nightmares. They express a fear that if they share those, they will upset or alienate other people in the room. Often, when people describe an old nightmare, it’s part of the process of letting go of that.

When somebody is feeling bad, often a helpful question is: “What’s your worst nightmare right now?” (Also known as, “What’s the worst that could happen?”) When people allow themselves to express their worst fear, they often realize that dreaded future occurrence is unlikely. And, even if the worst fear is a distinct possibility, people usually realize they have survived worse.

In a previous blog post, I described a worst nightmare I used to have. In that recurring dream, I’d be trying to call somebody on the phone. Because of problems with my vision (and other obstacles), I could not reach the person by phone, no matter how I tried.

Here’s a nightmare I’ve only had once.

When I was a little girl, I had to have several surgeries, to implant cardiac pacemakers .

Before this particular surgery, my father, the nurses, and I had prepared a joke for the surgeons. It must have been the fall or early winter, because this was the joke: The nurses and I had put a sign on my body that said, “Do Not Open Until Christmas.”

The surgeon, in a very surgeon-like way, said, “Very funny,” when he saw the sign, and took it off my body.

Then, as usual, the anesthesiologist put a mask on my face

Somebody said, “Count backwards from 100.”

And I started to count.

I looked up at the doctors, wearing their own masks, looking down at me.

As I was looking up at them, that image started to change.

It reminded me of getting closer and closer to a photo in a newspaper, or an image on a television set.

Sort of like this:

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It was more like a black-and-white image, though. And as I kept staring at it, the dots that made up that image got bigger and bigger.

Finally, I fell into one big, black dot.

And everything was black.

And I heard a voice. It wasn’t a nice voice. It was a cold, unfriendly voice.

It did not wish me well.

It said this:

That person you were before — the one that was joking with the doctors — is not real. This is the only thing that is real. And you will always come back to this.

Then, thank goodness, I woke up.

It was only a dream.

Sometimes, that’s the way a story ends.

Like here:

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And like here, today.

Thanks for being there, dear readers.

Categories: personal growth | Tags: , , , , , , , , , , | 4 Comments

Day 233: Leave behinds

Yesterday, throughout the day at work, I re-discovered that moods can switch for people. People feel better, then they feel worse.  Then they feel better again.

Et cetera, et cetera.

At the end of the therapy groups I do at work, I often invite people to leave behind anything they choose,  in “The Magic Wastepaper Basket” (which is whatever wastepaper basket is in the group room).

For example:

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I’m not sure whether people take me up on that invitation.  I just like giving it.

People who’ve read about The Worry Box may notice a similarity here. The Magic Wastepaper Basket is another way to let go of unhelpful things.

However, I’ve noticed that it can feel scary to throw something away, even if it’s something that’s definitely not helping.

Therefore, I’ve also made the suggestion that people leave Unhelpful Things (like worry, harsh self-criticism, paralyzing fears, etc.) outside the room — like a piece of baggage,  “which you can pick up, if you choose, on your way out.”

I do like the idea of throwing things away for good, though.  Wouldn’t that be nice?

For example:

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Wouldn’t it be great if one could just crumple up a fear like that …

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…. and throw it away!

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I think an important part of that “trick” would be this: to be non-judgmental and accepting, if the fear came back.

Here’s a thought, though:

Maybe every time we throw something away, it gets smaller.

Thanks so much for reading today.

Categories: personal growth, photojournalism | Tags: , , , , , , , , , , , | 9 Comments

Day 209: Two sides of the same coin

This post was inspired, somehow, by watching the show “Breaking Bad” with my son and my bf last night.

Not sure what I’m going to write today. That’s not an unusual situation when I sit down to write a post, but it’s true, even more so, this morning.

Several years ago, when I facilitated writing groups, at a Psychiatric Day Program, I would often suggest that people write freely without editing. Sometimes I suggested people write with their non-dominant hand.

Not sure how to “free-write” with my non-dominant hand when I’m typing, today! But I will do my best.

I’m noticing that my left leg is bouncing as I’m writing this.

One of the people in one of my therapy groups, last week, pointed out that my foot was bouncing — air-tapping — when I was making a point that felt important.

Later in that same group, when we were doing a writing exercise about the topic of “Worry,” I made the suggestion that somebody, who was stuck, try “free writing” and maybe try writing with their non-dominant hand. They kept writing with the same hand, but the suggestion seemed to help.

I think the bouncing leg/tapping foot thing is a sign of two sides of the same coin: Fear/Anticipation. Anxiety/Energy.

I’m not sure if my leg and foot are bouncing and tapping more lately, or if I (and others) are just noticing that more.

Right now, I want to write about something that happened last week, when I woke up in the middle of the night and had trouble getting back to sleep.

When that happened, I tried something new, based on what I’ve read so far of this book (which I’ve referenced in a previous post, here):

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The author of that book, Peter Levine, writes about how people who have experienced trauma (and he says that many of us have experienced some form of trauma) often have the normal, animal physiological responses to that trauma frozen in their bodies.

I often think of the “deer in the headlights” response, when I read his book:

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Peter Levine also cites the “Flight or Fight” fright reaction.

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(Note: The above illustration came from a blog called “The Atomic Meme,” in a post about the biology of stress.)

Peter Levine, in “Waking the Tiger,” says that our primitive, protective reactions to fear-inducing traumas get stuck in our bodies.

I am not sure how Peter Levine is going to “prescribe” — in his book — how people dispel those frozen impulses. I haven’t gotten that far, in my reading.

But I came up with my own prescription, in that middle of the night, last week, when I couldn’t sleep.

Here’s what happened: I woke up and the calf muscles in my legs were hurting me. They were painful. They were tight.

Why were my legs doing that, I wondered? It was possible that I had walked too much that day, in too-new shoes. It was possible that I needed to drink water. It was possible that I needed more potassium.

All of these were possibilities. The reality was: I couldn’t get back to sleep, no matter what I tried.

And I thought about something I had read in the book: Peter Levine’s life-changing experience as a treater of trauma.

Here are some excerpts of how he describes that important encounter, in “Waking the Tiger”:

I was asked to see a woman, Nancy, who was suffering from intense panic attacks.

She appeared paralyzed and unable to breathe.

I became quite frightened.

I had a fleeting vision of a tiger jumping toward us.

I exclaimed loudly, “You are being attacked by a large tiger. See the tiger as it comes at you. Run toward that tree; climb it and escape!” To my surprise, her legs started trembling in running movements. she let out a blood-curdling scream.

She began to tremble, shake, and sob in full-bodied convulsive waves.

She recalled a terrifying memory from her childhood. When she was three years old she had been strapped to a table for a tonsillectomy. The anesthesia was ether.

Nancy was threatened, overwhelmed, and as a result, had become physiologically stuck in the immobility response.”

So, when I couldn’t get back to sleep, after a couple of hours, my legs still cramping (they felt like they were saying, “We want to run!!”), I decided to try an experiment.

I got out of bed, in the dark, and stood there, thinking about that passage above.

My son was asleep downstairs. My boyfriend was awake, downstairs. The cat was downstairs, too. So I knew I wouldn’t be frightening anybody with my experiment. No one would be able to hear me, I was sure.

As is often true when I do a mindfulness exercise, I wasn’t sure what exact form this experiment would take. I gave myself the following instructions, “Run as hard and fast as you can, in place, like your life depends upon your running, on your getting away from what you’re scared of.”

And I ran in place, really, really fast. I didn’t scream. I didn’t need to. The running was intense, hard, and fast.

I didn’t “get anywhere” because I was running in place. But in ways, I covered a lot of distance. I released a lot of energy. And I felt like I might be able to get back to sleep.

When I went back to bed, my legs weren’t hurting as much. They felt a lot better.

A little while later, I was still awake, and my legs still felt stiff. So I tried that exercise one more time.

Then, I tweeted the following:

Cure for insomnia + leg cramps + anxiety + weight gain = Run like you’re being chased by monsters. Rest, repeat.

And I went back to sleep.

Now, I want to end this blog post, so I can meet my old friend, Barbara, on time. (I’ve mentioned Barbara, before, including this post about some “monsters.”)

Thanks to Peter Levine, tigers, “Breaking Bad,” my son, my boyfriend, Barbara, and to you, for reading today.

Categories: personal growth | Tags: , , , , , , , , , , , | 7 Comments

Day 206: Letting Go

When I do my therapy groups, I always start the group with a mindfulness exercise.

When somebody new joins the group, I always acknowledge, honor, and celebrate that by doing a particular mindfulness exercise.

In this mindfulness exercise, I ask people to focus on their breath (a very common focus for a mindfulness exercise).

I invite them to observe, just notice, the breath. They don’t need to change the breath, in any way.

I also invite them to do the following: Breathe in something they would like to take in more of — from the room or from the universe. And breathe out something like they would like to let go of.

Because examples help explain things (especially something new), I always predict how I might do this mindfulness exercise.

I say something like this: “I don’t know what I’m going to breathe in and breathe out, but I’m going to make a prediction. I might breathe in gratitude for all of you being here, and I might breathe out any anxiety about doing something new, because every group is new.” (Other things I’ve predicted  I’m going to breathe in during this mindfulness exercise: hope, connection, and the awareness of each moment. Other things I’ve predicted I’m going to breathe out:  distraction, fear, and anything that gets in the way of my being in the moment.)

I really like this mindfulness exercise.  Even if I’m too distracted to focus very well, even if my mind wanders a lot (because that’s what minds tend to do), it helps to just allow for the possibility of — to make some space for — breathing in something helpful and breathing out something that gets in the way.

Yesterday, when I did one of these groups, there was somebody new there. (And, as I wrote about yesterday, somebody was missing, too, for a very good reason.)

So, because somebody new was joining the group,  I did that mindfulness exercise.

And, as often happens when I do that exercise,  I breathed in gratitude and I let go of …. anxiety.

I had a good reason to be anxious yesterday.

Doing something new is always a “good reason” for increased anxiety.

Here were some of the new things I did yesterday:

  1. I facilitated a therapy group, with a new mix of people
  2. I needed to get my 3-month teeth cleaning and I had to go to a new place to get the Intravenous antibiotics I require whenever I get my teeth cleaned.
  3. I went to a new dental hygienist, to get the teeth cleaning.

Probably some explanation would be helpful, right now, especially regarding #2 and especially for people who don’t know me and/or haven’t read every friggin’ blog post I’ve written this year.

I have a Very Unusual Heart. My VUH is prone to endocarditis (which is an infection of the lining of the heart).  (I wrote about this in detail, on Day 65, when I thought I might have endocarditis again.) Since I’ve gotten endocarditis three times so far in my life, my doctors and I came up with this plan: I will have my teeth cleaned every three months and I will receive an intravenous dose of antibiotics before each cleaning.

This is routine for me, now.

However, many things about this process were new, yesterday.

Some of these things were new because of a change I had chosen –  to go to a new dental hygienist, who works with my wonderful dentist, whom I wrote about here.

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That’s my dentist, Dr. Luis Del Castillo (in a photo I took on April 13). (I didn’t take a picture of my new dental hygienist yesterday. Perhaps that’s because I was too ….. anxious?)

Some of the new things I encountered yesterday were due to changes beyond my control.

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That’s my beloved IV nurse, Kerri. She left her position a couple of months ago — eeeek! — but, thank goodness, moved to another place within the same hospital, so  I could still work with her — Yay! (By the way, that picture was taken four months ago, at the old location. I didn’t take a picture of her at the new location yesterday.  Any guesses why that might be?)

Yesterday, I was breathing out and letting go of anxiety, every step of the way, as I encountered new things during this process of getting my teeth cleaned, this process of not getting endocarditis, this process of staying healthy and alive.

And when I’m doing something new (and when the possibilities of illness — and death — are more in my consciousness), I definitely have more anxiety to breathe out.

My new dental hygienist (not pictured), named Michel, said a lot of things to me yesterday as she was cleaning my teeth. I didn’t say much because, well, she was cleaning my teeth.

Here are some of the things she said to me yesterday that are sticking in my mind, right now:

  1. “I don’t expect you to trust me immediately. You are just meeting me.”
  2. “It’s very important to trust your dental hygienist. It’s a relationship. It’s especially important for YOU to be able to trust your dental hygienist.
  3. “Let me tell you all the reasons why you won’t get endocarditis by getting your teeth cleaned here.” *
  4. “With your history, I would expect that sometimes you might obsess about keeping your teeth perfectly cleaned and other time you wouldn’t want to deal with it, at all.”
  5. “Let me know if you are uncomfortable, for any reason, at any moment.
  6. “A lot of people cry here. “

She said that last thing, when — in response to her understanding and empathy — I let go, in a rush of tears.

I never cried with my old dental hygienist. That might be a reason why I left, and found a new one.

That concludes this blog post for today.

Thanks to Michel, Dr. Del Castillo, and Kerri; to everybody who has ever helped me stay healthy; and to you, too, for reading today.

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* A teeth cleaning at the dentist is the leading cause of endocarditis, for people who are prone to it.

Categories: personal growth | Tags: , , , , , , , , , , , | 10 Comments

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