Monthly Archives: January 2011

Only child looks at pain and stress

Only child contemplates pain and stress

How many of you are living with chronic pain? Maybe it’s from arthritis. Maybe it’s fibromyalgia. Maybe it’s back pain. Maybe it’s  – God or someone forbid – cancer.

My late father died from brain cancer but before he died he spent six and a half years from diagnosis to death and much of that time in excruciating pain. Some of it I saw and heard – I was a child then.  As I write in my memoir:

But with his second cancer stint, Dad … starts vomiting. Mother tries everything from toast to tomato soup, but nothing stays down. I hear him heaving in the bathroom. Mother and I draw no comfort from each other, she the fussing worried wife, and I scared back into my pea shell, not much protection for a 12-year-old.

Then Dad gets recurring headaches that escalate into one big throbbing hurt at the top of his head. It must be torture to bend over the toilet bowl to puke out his guts while his head drums to the same painful beat. He becomes weaker and spends most of his time in bed. Our family doctor sends him to the hospital, this time St. Michael’s.

(Excerpted from You Can Go Home: Deconstructing the Demons, copyright 2011 Sharon Crawford).

My pain is more from an aging body fed up with all the stress and other stuff coming at and in it. So…I’m convinced I have to deal with the stress. Ideally I’d like to get rid of the stressors and stop  them coming at me. I’m one of those people who believes in tackling the problem head on – once I stop waffling about what I need to do. I have never found that just changing my attitude gets rid of the stress or stressors. They are still here until I do something about them.

Doing something, however, I’ve learned, also means having a goal, a passion in life and focusing on it. I actually have more than one passion – writing and gardening. I am also learning that relaxing methods (like meditation and Yoga) can help to at least lower the tightness in the body and help the mind get to “clear” (although just temporarily) so that you can think better and focus on what you love to do. Another important thing to lower stress is getting enough sleep, which I’m finding difficult to do. Usually I don’t have trouble falling asleep and staying asleep. My problem is trying to find the time to get ENOUGH sleep – not easy when you are alone with no partner, siblings or living parents and have too much to do. Yes, I have a son and friends who help, but none of them are here day-by-day, minute-by-minute to help – they do have their own lives to live. I’m grateful for the help I get from them.

So, I’m trying to delete some activities from my life – not easy when emergencies such as computer or house problems jump at you out of the bad blue. However, I believe the bottom line for me is taking control.

Which gets me back to tackling the problem(s) head on.

Excuse me while I deal with the latest computer problem.



Only Child Writes

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Filed under Aloneness, Death and Dying, Decisions, Health, Only child, Only child memoir, Pain, Stress

Only Child looks at water and trust

Only Child with her late Mom and Dad

Water and trust are connected – at least in my mind. As many of you probably gathered, I’m not big on trust. I trace it back to my late mom lying about my dad’s cancer and finding out the truth from my best friend, The Bully. In spite of, or perhaps because of, my Catholic background I do a lot of praying. But the results, a batting average of 15 per cent positive, don’t give me a  lot of trust in the ask and receive route.

Take broken water mains. Probably a fear of being stranded or stuck motivates me to put it out there (to the universe, God, whoever) that I would appreciate all the utilities work – and no broken water mains and the ensuing floods and water-shut-off to fix the sucker. You’d think I’d be immune to this after living in Aurora, Ontario where broken water mains were a common occurrence. Nope. As soon as the city employee knocked on my door this morning, I filled tubs, pails and pots with water – even washed a potato for tonight’s supper – at 9 a.m. The fellow said it would be about two hours but of course untrusting me knows better. I was right – but on the wrong end. The shut-off lasted barely an hour.

This nonsense got me thinking more about all the floods happening throughout the world, particularly in Australia. Every night on the late news I watch the newest developments and two thoughts strike me: the people in Australia (and also in parts of New Brunswick, Canada which have had several floods) have lost everything – their homes. And while there is water everywhere (very muddy) it is contaminated, so unlike the water shut-off before  fixing a broken water main, they can’t collect water. It will take years to get these areas of Australia back to normal.

My other thought ties in with trust. How can you trust that these Acts of God (that’s what the insurance contracts call them) will not happen to you? You can pray until you go hoarse but that still won’t prevent them from happening. Never mind the cause – El Nino or whatever. They still will happen somewhere. The prophets – religious and otherwise – who predict a big flood in 2012 are now beginning to sound more realistic. They may just be off a year.

Scary thoughts. So what can we do? We can’t exactly change the weather. However, perhaps the lesson here is to follow an offshoot of the late John Lennon’s words of wisdom – life is what happens when you are doing other things (paraphrased). He is a sad example of that but he seems to have lived each day to the fullest. Maybe that’s it – live in the moment because tomorrow may come but we don’t know what it will bring. And I’m not advocating going on a crime spree or anything like that.

What do you think?



Only Child Writes

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Filed under Floods, Life learning, Only child, Prayer, Trust

Only Child gets a grip on 2011 goals

Only Child contemplates the tyranny of new year's resolutions

Eleven days into 2011 and I’m already noodle-whipping my attempts to keep my new  year’s goals. That’s a sure sign that I’m straying from the KISS rule and sliding back into my old multi-task ways. So I picture my late mother’s simple filing system – everything in  the top drawer of her dresser – and try to keep it simple and focus on one goal at a time. Multi-tasking is a bad thing – you can kill yourself or someone else (e.g., talking on your cell phone while driving. There is a reason for those state and provincial laws no-noing that combo) or become Ms or Mr. Stupido (See Apparently we aren’t born multi-taskers and acquiring that habit makes us less productive with possibly a few exceptions  such as carrying on a conversation while eating a meal.

You can imagine what can happen  if you try to tackle all your New Year’s goals at once. I prefer  “goals” to “resolutions” because  the word “goals” seems more inspiring and personal than the straitjacket of resolutions (i.e., Thou shalt…). I also divide my life into categories – self, career, family and friends, and house/property. Some life-balance experts suggest three areas but with all the stuff in home-ownership, I need a separate category for it. My goal here is to pick one goal in each castegory and work on it – but focus on one goal at a time, not all four at once. Take the “self” category. I’m trying to do Yoga every day, walk at least 30 minutes daily (barring blizzards),  get more sleep at night, improve my eyesight and deal with other health issues. So, in order to make time for that I’m trying to streamline in the house/property area. However, I’m still  doing the midnight house “patrol”  looking for undone chores. Instead of going to bed at a realistic time, midnight and later finds me putting away laundry, making shopping lists, sorting mail and other papers previously thrown on the kitchen table – all while feeling foggy and lethargic.  Yeck!

I gotta get a grip. Are the laundry police really going to descend and shake a clean sock at me because it is in a basket and not in a drawer? Am I really going to go out then to a 24/7 grocery store and buy milk and lettuce? And the mail sure won’t be picked up from a mailbox at that hour of the night. At least I ‘m not checking my e-mail at all hours.

So, I’ve decided that in the area of  “Self,” right now I need to concentrate on getting more sleep. How else can I tackle the other goals? Besides getting any housework done earlier in the evening, I need to get my other weakness under control. Newsflash. I’m a news junkie and a weather junkie. I can’t go to bed without knowing about the latest murder or weather condition. But I’m nodding off in front of the TV. I could check the news and weather online before going to bed, but then I’d hit the e-mail. I think I’ll just curb my TV news/weather-watching time. Once the full weather report is given, that’s it – any news before that is enough for the evening. After all, I can check the news and weather online the next morning. Or here’s a novelty – listen to news and weathercasts on the local radio station.

It’s worth a try.

What do you think? Any tips for keeping your new year’s goals?



Only Child Writes

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Filed under Decisions, Health, Multi-tasking, New year's resolutions, Only child, Time management

Only child looks at year-end lessons learned

Mom and her glasses

My late mother used to say, “My head never saves my feet.” She meant it literally. When she fell charging up the basement stairs to reach the phone in time to call in for a TV contest, she realized that an extension phone might be a good idea. In these day of cell and other mobile phones, this isn’t necessary, but it might be a good idea to think first before you act. For December 2010, I found this to be so true. Just consider these two decisions I made – or how I ran first and thought afterwards.

1. That so-called missing leather bracelet that I thought I lost at the Christmas Eve church service. The bracelet never made it to the church. I found it just before the end of the year in my fridge, in the veggie bin. No, it wasn’t my intent to make leather salad – the bracelet must have fallen in when I dug around in the bin for veggies and fruit. So, I had to phone the church again and leave a message I had found the bracelet. I also had bought a replacement bracelet of a slightly different design, but I’m not returning it. If I had purchased  it from a large chain or department store I would, but not from a small business artisan at a farmer’s market. Next time I’ll wait and the lost item might show up.

2. Getting my eyes tested after many years of not (due to finances – in Ontario, unless you have secondary health coverage, you pay for what isn’t under the provincial health plan), I got my eyes tested. First I checked out optometrists and opticians, including getting references from friends. I thought I had made good decisions until I started talking again to some of my friends. The optometrist I went to gave me a new prescription and I had it filled.  I could see so much better and no longer had to remove my bifocals to read. He also found some clouds in my corneas – the medical term is corneal opacity and referred me to an ophthalmologist. But I couldn’t get an appointment until the end of March. When I told one friend this she about hit the roof (the one over my head – I could feel it crashing). Oh, she says, I should get that attended to right away; I shouldn’t have gotten a new glasses prescription because it might change after the ophthalmologist gets to work, and then she slammed the optometrist I saw. This started me on a worry spiral – and I have a wild imagination (I am a writer).  It didn’t help that my eyes seemed to be hurting until I checked it out closely. The pain wasn’t in my eyes but in all the surrounding bone and drainage areas for sinusitis, which can be caused by allergies and I have allergies as well as a deviated septum. Even the optometrist said allergies could be the cause of the cornea condition. I won’t go where my mind went but suffice to say I had sleepless nights and worry-ridden days…until it finally hit me what to do. It helped to speak to a couple more friends who also had these cloudy cornea problems. One said, “They often just go away,” and another said, “Don’t get surgery whatever you do.”

So, the lesson here, is to sit back, do your research (I haunted the Internet); if you ask others for advice, consider where it is coming from; weigh the pros and cons, and then wait some more. Often the answer will surface in your head.  So, I will try to let my head save my “feet” and try not to think about my mom’s last ophthalmologist appointment. She never made it because her headaches were from an impending brain aneurysm. Looking back, I realize her headaches began after a couple of falls she had. I wasn’t present for either so I don’t know if she hit her head.

Another lesson here is to take precautions to avoid falls – something I’ve been rash about until now.

Happy 2011 to all.



Only Child Writes

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Filed under Decisions, Health, Life learning, Only child, Vision