Aw, yes, the winter season is upon us. Waking at 6 a.m. to the sound of a snow plow scraping snow off the pavement. There is no sleeping through that grating sound, or the incessant beeping of a vehicle backing up. It is the most discordant alarm clock – one I would do without, if I could. Being jarred out of a sound sleep is not fun.
On the other hand, I am thankful for safer streets; for not having to drive through built up snow. We haven’t had a lot of snow. At least not yet. But it will come. Even worst is the freezing rain that turns city streets into ice rinks and causes traffic to move at a snail’s pace. I am grateful that there are city employees up at the crack of dawn to make our city streets safer to drive on. They leave warm beds…
I am not
a particularly competitive person. At least I don’t think I am, but others may
argue the point. I just don’t get the propensity for competition. Perhaps it is
growing up through the sixties and seventies with the emphasis on live and let
live, flower children, and the struggle for peace – the school sit-ins and the
march against the war in Vietnam; the generation gap and the struggle for
acceptance; to do things a different way.
I remember being the last kid chosen for
sports teams – I was never very good at sports, and my classmates knew it. Consequently,
I am not a sports fan. I really could care less, most of the time. I will admit
to a sense of pride during the Olympic games when my countrymen do well, but I
am not terribly crushed if they don’t either. I know there is more to an
individual than the awards she/he may receive, or how many “fans” or “followers”
they may have.
raised Roman Catholic and remember the weekly spelling contests where myself
and a classmate would end up being the last two standing. Sometimes I won,
sometimes she did. And at the end of the year prizes were awarded for 1st,
2nd, and 3rd place. I remember some of my friends who
excelled in areas that were not academic. There were no awards for them and I
remember the sorrow I would feel watching their faces fall. So, for me,
competition was not something I enjoyed. It seemed to hurt more people than it
helped. For the most part, the few who built character and self-worth through
competition were far outnumbered by the ones who had their self-esteem crushed
as a result of it – the ones who were labeled “loser”.
believe we are all gifted in some way; talented in some way; richly blessed in
some way. So why can we not celebrate our differences? Our many intricate and lovely
attributes that contribute to the tapestry of humanity in a positive and life-giving
it about the weeks after Christmas that fills me with such lethargy? Perhaps I overindulged?
Perhaps it is the knowledge that winter’s grip is really in its infancy and we
have several more weeks of bitter winds and bracing frigid temperatures yet to
only the 9th of January after all. Time to count my blessings once
again, to acknowledge the warm house I live in and food on my plate. What is it
about the cold that makes me turn into a whining, complaining ass? (Mostly I
talk to myself about all that I dislike about winter, so don’t worry. I won’t
go into my litany of complaints here.)
and pray to get through yet another winter with some semblance of sanity and
grace. I have been told, though don’t take this as a fact – it isn’t – that human
beings also have within our DNA a left-over metabolic mechanism that causes us
to be sleepier in winter and with a tendency to do much less than usual – not unlike
hibernating bears, but not, of course, to the same extent. Well, that makes
sense to me. Short, cold days make me want to curl up with a good book and wait
for Spring. Maybe I am part bear, but I hope I don’t go about growling too
December was a stressful month, not only because it
was Christmas, but because my husband landed in hospital once again. We both
learned a few more things about self-care through his experiences. My husband
is a diabetic and for the past year or more we have been working at keeping his
kidneys functioning well enough to avoid dialysis. It can be quite worrisome.
His diabetic specialist has told us that each and every time his blood sugar
levels drop too low or spike too high his kidneys and his heart take a hit. At
this point it’s imperative to keep those levels as even as possible.
Now, while he was in hospital, I got the flu. I was
too sick to visit him and I did not want to risk him catching it on top of all
the other health issues he was dealing with at the time. I am very proud of him
for dealing with the medical profession and helping them understand his needs.
He was having trouble breathing – which is what caused his hospitalization in the
first place. Fluids had built up in his heart and lungs making breathing very
Being unable to
catch his breath was frightening for both of us. For him it caused a great deal
of stress. Stress can cause a spike in blood sugar levels. So, the doctor would
order a higher dose of insulin, which, in turn, would cause his sugars to drop
way too low. Then the nurses would give him sugar tablets that would cause them
to go too high. It was awful. This went on with my sick and weary husband
trying to explain that the insulin dose was too high and then in the mornings
trying to convince the nurses he didn’t need more than one or two sugar tablets
to rectify it. It took several days before they began to listen to him.
In the end the nurses learned a bit more about caring
for a diabetic patient. I learned to trust my husband did not need me at his
side every moment and that he could take care of himself. I learned to let go
of control. My husband learned to take control of his own health. In the end it
was all about self-care, whether that is physical health or mental health.
Health professionals are not infallible. We each know
our own bodies and know what we need to be healthy. In the end we have to be
our own advocates. December was stressful, but it brought many gifts,
blessings, and lessons we needed to learn. I am grateful for the lessons, even
while it was hard to go through at the time.