Me in the Middle of My Third Year Anniversary

An Introduction

That’s Me in the Middle with my two brothers, J. and R.  I’m the official middle child in my family of five siblings.  This is the story of my journey in the middle of my awesome and challenging life and you can read more by going to my “About” page”.

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❤  022 - John, Me and Rich

~ And that was the beginning ~

 

 

Three years later and I’m amazed at how much satisfaction I’ve gotten from blogging and how much my posts have expanded into wonderful experiences and meeting wonderful bloggers.

My initial intention was to put my life story down in writing, the good and the bad, and from it to see all the life lessons along the way.  I did that!  I wrote and I wrote and I wrote until I had Eight Chapters.

One Year Anniversary

What a Difference a Year Makes (Here)

Looking over the first year really gave me confidence.  One of the major influences in making the transition from Pages to Blog was the A to Z Challenge 2016.  I used it as a way to bring together all the lessons learned through my life.  It was a real purging and letting go of the past.  So, what a difference a year makes!

And then my blogging became a once a week commitment for the 2nd and 3rd year.  Along with following my favorites on WordPress Reader, I also took on mini-challenges.  A few of those challenges are included here:

GUEST BLOGGERS

KINDNESS CHALLENGE

LESSONS LEARNED

MEMORIES TO MEMOIRS

ONE-INCH PICTURE FRAME

SIX-WORD STORY

MY ETSY SHOP

#MLSTL ~ MidLife Blog Share

 

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Me in the Middle of the Undertow

Three photos that I’d found in a big box full of old family photos sparked a memory long forgotten.  They were found while my siblings and I were cleaning out the attic after both of our parents had died.  I wanted to try to write about that memory in third person voice.  I gave my four-year-old self the name Nora.

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              Undertow       

The surf pounded with a roaring intensity and the huge waves rolled in one after another. 

They all stood together, four-year-old Nora, her father and her two older brothers.  Standing there, with the water waist high, she could feel the sand travel through her toes as it ebbed and flowed with the undertow.  Her brothers were leaping over each wave and fearlessly plunging into the larger ones that rolled towards them.  They were having fun … and she was frightened!  She struggled to maintain her balance and held tightly to her father’s hand

I want to go back to the beach!”  she yelled over the roaring surf.

No! Stay here!” he shouted back.  “You’ll be fine!”  

Nora hesitantly pulled her hand out of his and let go.  As she started heading back to the beach where her mother was, she heard her father call to her.  “Go ahead then!  You’ll have to make it back on your own.”

The waves and the undercurrent were stronger than she anticipated and she found herself being knocked off balance.  It was too late to turn back and she was determined to get back to the safety of the beach.

Suddenly she plunged into a deep hole that had been created by the undertow.  Instantly, she lost her footing and couldn’t find the ocean floor to stand back up again.  She thrashed about, feeling a sense of panic.  It was hard for her to tell where the top of the water was.  When she opened her eyes all that she could see was the murky salt water and the long pieces of her hair floating around her.  It seemed like she floated there for a while and she didn’t fight it.  A strange sense of calm came over her.

Then, in an instant, she was scooped out of the water by strong arms.  It was her father and he took her by the hand to lead her over to the blanket on the beach.  He seemed upset with her as she gasped and cried.  

Shaking and shivering as her mother put a towel around her, Nora was relieved that she was safe again.  Once she had dried her off, her mother gave her a peanut butter and jelly sandwich and lead her over to a towel that was laid out on the sand.  There she sat eating and thinking about what had just happened to her in the ocean.  

As she gazed out at the vastness of the sea and the power that she had just experienced, Nora felt the warmth of the sun and listened to the sounds of the people enjoying the ocean.   Little did she understand that the ocean had taught her an important lesson that day.

Today, Nora has come to love the ocean and is humbled by the power and force behind it.  The ocean taught her about the ebb and flow of life and finding her balance in the middle ground.

Me in the Middle of Summer Reading

 

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First Book

This poem moved me so deeply that I followed up with a Google search and found that Dawna Markova had written a  book by the same title.  “Why are we here?” is the question she asks both herself and the reader of this wonderful book ~ I WILL NOT DIE AN UNLIVED LIFE ~.  It’s written while Dawna is on a retreat to solitude in a cabin far away from the hectic pace of modern life.  Her story travels along different paths than mine has and that’s the whole point of her book.  We’re here to follow our own passion and dreams.

“Anyone on a spiritual quest, seeking to discover their own deep wisdom, and uncover their “calling” will be enriched and energized in a powerful and gentle way……”

(Forward)

“Like the rest of the natural world, human beings go through seasons.  At one point, we are in the full bloom of summer, harvesting, committed, in abundance.  Then, naturally there is an autumnal time of falling away, disillusionment, stagnation, a shedding of what has been used up.  Then must come the fallowness and dormancy of winter, death, rest.  Eventually, as is happening right outside the window of this cabin, there is a great melting into muck and mud, which, if one can persevere, opens naturally into an abundant yellow-green time, when everything is possible and horizons open.”

~ Dawna Markova ~

“In a similar way to A Gift from the Sea, the readers of this book (I Will Not Live An Unlived Life) are invited to accompany me on a journey to come to know more intimately the value and purpose of their lives.”

~ Dawna Markova ~

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Men, Women and Happiness Cropped (2)

Ink Sketch and Watercolor by Mary Lou Q

Second Book

Gift from the Sea #3

Anne Morrow Lindbergh’s bookGIFT FROM THE SEA ~ was shared with me by my mother back in the 90’s.  I packed myself a lunch and took a ride to the beach, setting up my chair in front of the ocean.  It was a restful day that I needed badly and I hoped to find nuggets of wisdom and truth from this book.  At the time it was difficult for me to concentrate on it.  I kept thinking ‘How can this wealthy woman whose life is so different than mine even relate to what I’m experiencing?’  It’s only been down through the years and coming across Anne’s various quotes from her book that I’ve decided to read it again.  Dawna Markova read it to inspire her book ‘I Will Not Live An Unlived Life’ and I decided to read them both this summer.

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The Introduction to the Fiftieth Anniversary Edition of Gift from the Sea (2005)  is written by Anne Morrow Lindbergh’s daughter, Reeve Lindbergh:

“I read Gift from the Sea at all Seasons of the Year and of my life.  I never once had the sense that my mother’s 1955 book has lost its freshness, or that the wisdom contained within its pages has ceased to apply, whether to my own life or to what I’ve learned , overtime, about hers.”

“Above all, I think, Gift from the Sea offers its readers an unusual kind of freedom.  It is hard to recognize, or even to describe, but I think this freedom is the real reason this book continues to be so well loved and so well read after all these years.  I am talking about the freedom that comes from choosing to remain open, as my mother did, to life itself, whatever it may bring:  Joys, sorrows, triumphs, failures, suffering, comfort and, certainly, always, change.”

Thanks, Mom!  I get it!  

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A Gift from the Sea

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Third Book

Francis Friendship

Francis Mandewah is one of my Guest Bloggers

Me in the Middle introducing Guest Blogger ~ Francis

I was so inspired by what Francis wrote in his guest blog that I bought his book on Amazon Kindle and I’ve just begun reading it.  His story begins with his life as a 15 year old young man in the African country of Sierra Leone and in the heart of the African diamond zone.  His story too is a spiritual journey of trust in goodness in the world in spite of the hardships and realities that might come along.  It’s his trust in this goodness that makes it possible for Francis to be fully present when God opens a door in his life that leads him to the path of his dreams.

“As I chronicled my trials and tribulations I discovered my voice in between the lines of my story ~ a voice that was filled with faith.”

~ Francis Mandewah ~

“I suppose this dream has been the script for my life, because even as I sit, no matter where I am or what I’m doing, I always feel a tinge of uncertainty, as if I’m eternally looking for a flight itinerary. I have lived a life filled with the adventure of being ushered onto stage and the turmoil of being blindfolded and locked in a cage. Through my travels, my willingness to walk to and through the door, I discovered within myself a will to not just survive, but to thrive, no matter the circumstance.”

Blood Diamond ~ Sierra Leone

“There are people who are kind, and people who are not kind, among all races and cultures. It was a White man who gave me opportunity so I could realize the American dream.  Our friendship transcended race, and built a positive connection between the races. We can overcome racism through friendship and positive cross-cultural relationships.  “

 

Me in the Middle of Sleep Apnea

This post is a wee bit longer than my usual posts.  Awareness is Important!

It’s been four years since I started treatment for Severe Sleep Apnea.  It’s changed my life!  Or maybe I should say that I never realized before just how my living with undiagnosed/untreated sleep apnea over the years had affected my life.

OSA (Obstructive Sleep Apnea) is one of the most under-diagnosed conditions that can ultimately lead to serious, life-threatening consequences if left untreated.  It affects men, women and children; overweight and thin … and it has many causes.

Upon reaching my 70th birthday, what I considered to be a fairly healthy life began to spiral downward with a series of symptoms that were puzzling for both me and my doctors.  Over the years I had had what seemed to be age-related medical issues that I was quick to address for the best outcome.  Looking back, in hindsight, I can now connect the dots to what I’ve come to understand were symptoms of Obstructive Sleep Apnea.

There were times over the past 30 plus years where I struggled with low energy, feelings of depression, racing heart, nausea, fainting spells and anxiety.  Coping with everyday stresses were also complicated by the early onset of menopause in my late thirties.  Most of the time I approached these symptoms in a proactive way without medication by learning about exercise, diet and mind/body balance techniques.  Never in all my proactive approaches over the  years did I ever learn, nor was it ever brought up by the doctors I’d seen, that I might have Sleep Apnea.  There were thyroid checks, blood tests and heart tests ~ along with reassurances that nothing abnormal was found other than an insignificant tricuspid-valve leakage.  In the early Eighties it was confirmed through FSH blood tests that I was indeed in the middle of early menopause.

Then, as I approached my seventies, symptoms became more troubling.  The expected onset of spinal stenosis, along with a family history of joint replacements, were complicated by vascular symptoms in my legs where I would lose control of coordination and feeling.  There was a series of surgeries over the next years for EVLT (Edo-Venous Laser Treatment), Lumbar Laminectomy and, last but not least, THR (Total Hip Replacement).  It was while I was in the hospital right after the THR surgery that my son, a cardiologist, saw that I had stopped breathing which immediately confirmed his suspicions that I might have Sleep Apnea.  My cardiologist was contacted and a sleep study was ordered.

Up until that time, it was progressively looking like I was developing A-Fib and Tachycardia.  I was prescribed blood pressure medication and set up with a heart monitor for tracking the events where my heart rate would become so fast that I couldn’t read a pulse.  I’d be waking up many times in the night with my heart pounding so hard I could feel it in my neck.  When walking up an incline I was finding myself short of breath and was attributing it to signs of aging.  A trip to the Emergency Room after I passed out at work forced my decision to stop part-time work.  The ER doctor did all sorts of tests while I was there.  His final diagnosis was Vasovagal Syncope (fainting) and he sent me on my way.  No mention of Sleep Apnea.

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So, when I received the call from the Pulmonologist who prescribed the Sleep Study for me four years ago I was stunned by what she told me.  I had Severe Obstructive Sleep Apnea!  No way!  AHI 43 events per hour (stopped breathing); Sleep efficiency @ 51%; Oxygen level @ 80% (dangerous).

Sleep Apnea and Women

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Over the course of the last four years of treatment on CPAP I’ve been catching up on activities that I never had the energy for in the past.  Daily fatigue had drained me in so many ways and I thought I’d have to let go of so much that I’d hoped to do in retirement.  Well, it’s never too late!  It’s never too late to begin writing your story;  It’s never too late to begin watercolor sketching;  It’s never to late to try out on-line dating;  It’s never too late to do foreign travel;  It’s never too late to change your perspective on things; and It’s never too late to be young at heart!
This is the CPAP mask that I’ve found works best for me!  I hardly know that I’ve got it on and now my AHI is <2.0 and my oxygen level is 99%.  I wouldn’t go to sleep without it.
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All of my symptoms are gone!  No more anxiety, no more racing/pounding heart, no more fainting, no more waking up many times in the night and no more shortness of breath.  Now I get lots of restorative sleep (8 to 9 hours) and I’m dreaming again because I’m spending more time in the very important deep-sleep stages of the sleep cycles.  My blood pressure is back to normal and staying stable.  My medications have been cut in half.
So I hope my sharing my experience will encourage anyone who notices some of these symptoms to ask about having a sleep study done.  And if you are diagnosed with Moderate or Severe Sleep Apnea I hope that you’ll hang in there with the CPAP treatment.  It’s all worth it ….. and it may save your life.
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~ Update ~

The cardiac symptoms have returned in full force after four years on CPAP treatment where I had no Atrial Fib/Atrial Flutter and Atrial Tachycardia symptoms. I spent 5 hours in the ER this week with high blood pressure and high heart rate. The ER team did a great job in stabilizing my heart rate and now it’s a matter of just finding the best medication adjustment for this new development.
I can’t emphasize enough the importance of diagnosing Obstructive Sleep Apnea early on and to encourage anyone in staying with the CPAP treatment. I really believe I wouldn’t have developed this heart condition if mine was discovered sooner. I’ve been blessed in these past four years where treatment gave me back the energy and life that I was meant to have. 🙂