Happiness Isn’t Everything (Part Two)

The other day I wrote a piece on happiness, on how transient and subjective it is, and how it therefore makes a poor measure for determining the worth of a thing.

(In that case, I was mostly referring to the ‘thing’ of reproductive technologies – efforts that aim to make people happy by making them parents, or by producing for them children who are healthier or otherwise more desirable than they might have been.)

Of course, there are countless such ‘things’ in life, and it can be dangerous to allow their potential for making us happy to overshadow their worth on other counts. When we do that, we run the risk of hurting others to help ourselves, or even harming our own long-term interests in favor of the short-term.

But I think there’s a more important tendency to think about here. As bad as it can be to use happiness to measure the worth of a thing, it’s much worse (and it can be more consequential) to use happiness to measure the worth of a life.

(Read the rest at the Catholic Review.)

The Space Between - Happiness Isnt Everything Part Two

Babies Are Blessings (And Other Lessons I Learned in 2016)

Alright! Here we are for the second round of “Lessons I Learned in 2016.” If you missed the first, which includes lesson numbers one and two, here it is. Now for number three:

3) Babies are blessings.

I mostly knew this one, in the sense that I’ve always loved babies, I’ve always wanted lots of them, and I’ve always fallen in love with the ones I’ve been given. But since becoming a mother, I’ve often felt unequal to the job. (Shocker, right?) And so I’ve often sunk into the gloom of thinking that I wasn’t cut out for this life, or that my kids were too much for me, or that I was foolish to think I could handle so many.

Fear. Underlying it all – especially during my pregnancy with my fourth child – was fear. Fear that I wasn’t enough, fear that we couldn’t handle the pressures that additional children would put on us, fear that another child would be bad for our family. Fear.

But something about baby #4 just broke through that fear. She’s a doll, to be sure. She’s adorable and sweet and easy to love. But beyond this individual baby’s attributes, there’s been something about having our fourth child that has made me realize how incredibly worth it babies really are.

Maybe I feel like I’m not enough. Oh well. Maybe I’m tired, overwhelmed, overworked, overstimulated. Oh well. Maybe my kids don’t get enough attention from me. Oh well. Maybe our family doesn’t get to do what other, smaller, more-easily-managed families do. Oh well!

At the end of the day, none of us are enough. All of us are tired. We’re all sometimes overwhelmed, overworked, overstimulated. We’re never able to devote as much attention as we’d like to all of the people and things we care about. That’s part of what it is to be human, to be in community, to be part of a family, to have a role in this world.

That’s life.

But this – this bright, beautiful, soft little pink thing who goes through about a million diapers and bottles a month? This is life too. This is the kind of life you can scoop up in your arms and squeeze and laugh with. None of those fears can compare to the joy we experience from having this life in ours.

These Walls - Babies Are Blessings - 1

If we ever have another child, I’m sure I’ll worry about logistics. I’m sure I’ll be concerned about my health and I’ll be fearful of childbirth. Who knows – I might be worried about something that I can’t yet anticipate. But I hope I’ll never fear bringing another baby into our family. I hope I’ll remember that more than anything else, babies are blessings.

4) I don’t care much about becoming thin.

Maybe this isn’t the most obvious follow-on to that sappy start. (And maybe this isn’t so much a lesson as a realization.) But here I am, eleven months post-partum, many pounds overweight, only recently out of maternity clothing and I . . . don’t care.

I don’t care.

I used to care. I used to walk through a shopping mall and see shame reflected back at me from all the pretty storefronts. I used to fantasize about how it would feel to wear fashionable clothing. I used to embark on unpleasant and inconvenient weight-loss schemes and feel like a fat, sloppy, loser-sloth for failing at them.

But somewhere along the way – the way of motherhood and friendship and pursuing my creative interests and realizing that my husband is still attracted to me – I stopped caring.

I still want to be healthy. I still know that I should adjust my diet somewhat and up my physical activity a little. I want to be energetic enough to chase around my kids and I want to feel comfortable in my clothing (goal: public presentability with a touch of elegance). But I just have no interest in pursuing any dramatic changes. No Whole 30 could be worth the joy that peanut-butter ice cream brings to my life. No 5am workout could compensate for the anger I’d feel at rousing at such an hour.

More walks, a little time on the treadmill? Yes, I should do that. Cut back on the desserts? Okay, I can deal. More vegetables, less cheese? Sure.

But I’m done pining for a body that I’ll never have. Unless you’re lucky enough to have inherited those precious stay-thin-no-matter-what genes, you generally have to really, really want that trim, lithe, slender, shimmery mirage to suffer through everythingitwouldtake to get it. And I . . . don’t.

These Walls - Babies Are Blessings - 2

Okay. I’ll be back soon for at least one more of these “Lessons” posts. And I still owe you all a good photo dump. (Baby steps back to regular blogging.)

These Walls - Babies Are Blessings

Twenty Minutes (But Not Really)

It’s a blue-skyed, balmy 57 degrees this afternoon, so the boys are outside playing, enjoying the beautiful weather.

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Let me re-phrase that: I’m enjoying the boys playing outside in the beautiful weather. They’d rather be inside watching a movie, but I told them their choices were outside play or naps in their beds. Surprise, surprise: they chose the former.

I have a million things on my to-do list, but thought I’d take a quick twenty minutes* to post a little update on the blog, because: Quiet! Ohmygosh it is never quiet around here! Boys outside, baby napping, and this the first quiet, awake, non-committed moment I’ve had in a week!

I’ve got to sit here and savor it a bit.

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We’ve been very busy lately – the typical Christmas stuff, plus commitments and medical appointments and then, for the baby, a hospital stay. The poor, pathetic little thing has pneumonia. He came home on Saturday after two nights in the hospital and fortunately, he’s already most of the way back to his usual happy, peppy self. Brennan and I are slowly (slowly) recovering from all the sleep we lost during the ordeal.

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But anyway, I’ve been meaning to note my relative absence from the blog over the past couple of months. And here I am, so here we go!

The thing is, I am an easily-distracted, easily-overwhelmed, easily-overstimulated kind of gal. And I’ve come to realize that I need to get a handle on the things in my life that distract and overwhelm and overstimulate me. Like, really need to – actually need to – not just acknowledge that I need to and promptly move on to something more interesting.

When I try to live my daily life (namely, when I try to mother) in the midst of those distracting, overwhelming, overstimulating things, I fail. At so much. I have too little patience, I enjoy too little time with my children, and I have far, far too many meltdowns.

A few weeks ago I told my boys that I’d be back in a minute: I just needed to take the baby upstairs to put him down for his nap. After I changed his diaper, I set the baby down on the rug with a few toys so I could wash my hands. But then I noticed some bins of clothing that I hadn’t put back in their place, so I went to move them. Then I noticed how dusty that corner of the room was, so I decided to sweep it before I put the bins away. Then I went into the laundry room for the Swiffer, where I remembered that I hadn’t yet switched over the laundry. Then I had to retrieve a laundry basket so I could get the already-dry clothes out of the dryer. Then, just as I started emptying the dryer, I heard (1) the boys erupt in a massive fight downstairs and (2) the baby screaming, tired, ready for his nap.

I ran downstairs, yelled at the boys, and ran back up, flustered. I still needed to wash my hands. I still needed to take care of the baby and the bins and the sweeping and the laundry. I’d wasted all that time, gotten nothing accomplished, and worked myself into a tizzy. This is completely typical behavior for me.

I know there has to be a better way.

So I’m trying to deal with the background noise – the unfinished chores lingering in each room, the fluid schedule, the tasks I’ve been telling myself I’ll get to for far too long, the disorganized ways in which I deal with the information and the responsibilities that come my way.

I’m nowhere near through, but I’m making progress. It’s come at the expense of blogging, spending time on social media, communicating and getting together with my friends, and pretty much any other fun thing I can think of.

For the past couple of months, I’ve tried to find something constructive to do with just about every spare moment I come across. Goodness knows that I could be in this mode for a year and not quite end up where I need to be, but my plan is to push through as well as I can ‘till the end of December. Come the New Year, I’ll try to stretch my legs a bit, to occupy this less-cluttered space (both physical and mental), and see how it works for me. I certainly can’t keep up my current pace forever.

So while you’ll hear from me a few times before then, I probably won’t get into a regular blogging routine until January. I’m hoping that by then I’ll have dealt with enough of my issues to operate on a more organized, more peaceful level.

Hoping.

Wish me luck! And in the meantime, I wish you a blessed Advent, a merry Christmas, and a happy New Year.

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* Ha! Did I really think I could get away with that? It took an interrupted two hours, full of potty breaks and crying babies, smashed fingers and late naps chosen over outdoor toy clean-up. C’est la vie!

Courtney’s Love

A few months ago, I wrote a post about the Little Sisters of the Poor and their loving, life-giving ministry to those who are nearing the end of their lives. I’ve thought about that post, and the work of the Little Sisters, a lot since writing it.

I thought of it when learning of a friend’s death this summer from brain cancer. I thought (and continue to think) of it when hearing about Ebola victims in Liberia, where many die without the comfort of human touch or even simple, loving attention, due to the (well-founded) fears of transmitting the disease. I thought of it the other day while listening to yet another episode of the Diane Rehm Show, this one about “Being Mortal: What Matters In The End.”

And I have especially thought of it while reading Facebook and blog updates from Mary Lenaburg, of Passionate Perseverance. For those of you unfamiliar with her blog, Mary has a 22-year-old daughter, Courtney, with some very special needs. Courtney is unable to talk or walk, to feed herself, even to see. She also experiences frequent, frightening, and often severe seizures. Sadly, it now appears that Courtney’s life is nearing its end.

Mary and her family have spent years (and a not-insignificant amount of money) caring for Courtney and providing for her every need and comfort. Doctors’ visits, therapies, surgeries, medicines, tube feedings, illnesses, hygiene care, round after round of wrangling with insurance companies – the Lenaburgs have done it all.

That’s remarkable enough – the sheer work and angst of caring for a completely dependent, very ill child for 22 years. But what’s more remarkable, and more to the point, is that the Lenaburgs have loved.

Courtney Lenaburg has been loved unlike anyone I’ve ever encountered in my life.

Mary and Jerry Lenaburg and their son Jonathan have loved Courtney through their work to care for her. But they’ve also talked to her, prayed with her, read to her, laughed with her, held her, clasped her hands, given her massages, sewed her clothes, dressed her with great attention, made her surroundings beautiful and cheerful… and so much more.

Honestly, nothing I write here can come close to describing all the ways in which the Lenaburgs have loved Courtney.

Mary and Jerry have also, through their extended family, their church, and Mary’s blog (and many other avenues, I’m sure), built up an incredible community of friends around Courtney, and around themselves. They’ve loved those friends too. They’ve prayed for them, they’ve helped them, and they’ve afforded them the great privilege of doing the same.

(When I was in labor with my youngest, Mary sent me a message to tell me that she and Courtney were praying for me. I’m sure that I’m one of many, many people to have received such a message from the Lenaburgs through the years.)

I don’t know Mary well. We met last summer at Like Mother, Like Daughter’s DC meet-up. We enjoyed a great Cuban dinner together with another Mary friend a couple of months later. And my boys and I had the opportunity to visit with Mary and Courtney at their home this past spring. Yet I feel like I know Mary well. Part of that, I think, is the mark of a good blogger. But the bigger part of it is that Mary puts her love out there for the world to see, and that love has a way of catching you, of drawing you close and folding you up as if it were your own.

In this year of knowing Mary (and through her, Courtney), I’ve learned something about love. (An undefined, powerful kind of something that I feel in my chest, but can hardly describe except to say, “I’ve got to love more.”) I’ve learned something about loving your child, your husband, your friends, about loving God. I’ve learned something about loving through hardship, about tenacity and stretching to meet the challenges put before you.

And I’m just one person.

I have a hard time conceiving of just how many people have been touched and taught by the Lenaburgs. Courtney’s love has gone out into the world and done amazing things, I’m sure of it. It’s softened hearts, it’s shored-up relationships, it’s brought people closer to God. It’s spurred generosity and engendered gratitude. It’s helped people to see the value in those around them. What a beautiful legacy.

As Courtney’s time here comes to a close, I am comforted (not that I have any right to require comfort) by the knowledge that when she passes, Courtney will be surrounded by as much love as one could possibly be. And that she’ll be passing straight from the loving arms of her earthly family to the loving arms of her heavenly Father.

Love, love, love.

The beautiful thing, of course, about the Little Sisters of the Poor is also love – their love for Christ, their love for those whom they serve. Just as the Lenaburgs care for, love, and pray for Courtney, so do the Little Sisters care for, love, and pray for the elderly poor.

What a gift.

It is this love – between Mary and Courtney, between the members of the Lenaburg family, their friends, and their online community, between the Little Sisters of the Poor and the elderly poor – it is this love, a gift from God, which touches us and teaches us and gives us a glimpse of the divine.

Thank you, Mary, for sharing your love with us – for sharing Courtney with us.

~~~

To learn more about Mary and Courtney, please visit Passionate Perseverance. The Lenaburgs are having a particularly rough (and now in some ways, a particularly blessed) time of it right now. Not only are they caring for Courtney and preparing to say goodbye to her, but they’re also planning Courtney’s funeral. On top of that, Jerry is slated to be laid-off from his job at the end of the month. And (can you believe there’s an “and”?) they’ve just learned they’ll need to make some major (read: expensive) repairs to their sewage line.

In the past 24 hours (the 24 hours it took me to finish this post!) there’s been a tremendous upsurge of support for the Lenaburgs, so it looks like the repair costs will be taken care of. But they could still use help in covering the cost of Courtney’s funeral and in paying down their medical debt. I hope you’ll consider helping them out if you’re able. GoFundMe and PayPal buttons are located on Mary’s blog. Thanks in advance for any assistance you provide – and for your prayers!

Life, Even At The End

Yesterday morning as I cleaned up the breakfast dishes and prepared dinner to go into the crock pot, I listened to NPR, just as I do most mornings. The Diane Rehm Show, with which I frequently disagree but which I nonetheless enjoy, was devoting its 11:00 hour to a discussion on assisted suicide.

Now, I earnestly believe that life is precious and worthy of protection from conception to natural death. And I believe that it is so regardless of an individual’s age or health or wealth or mental capacity. So I knew I would find the conversation disturbing. But I figured it would be good to take in anyway: I think there is an inherent good in hearing an argument fleshed out, whether or not I agree with it.

But about half-way through the program, the conversation got to be too much for me. It was indeed disturbing to hear a cancer patient ponder when her life would no longer be worth living, to hear the story of a 90-year-old-man who so wanted to die that he first tried overdosing on pain medication, then slitting his wrists, and then he shot himself.

Horrible, horrible.

Yes, yes, it’s good to hear an argument fleshed out. But it’s not good to go through the day with a lurking feeling of gloom, when I have little boys to feed and care for and love. So I turned off the radio. I chose peace over enlightenment.

A moment later, during a quick perusal of my Facebook feed, I came across the following video*. (I can’t embed it, so do be sure to click on the link and watch the first three-and-a-half minutes or so. I promise it’s worth it.) The video provides a brief glimpse into the work of the Little Sisters of the Poor. Or maybe I should say the joy of the Little Sisters of the Poor, because that’s really more like it. The video follows the Sisters, whose mission it is to care for the elderly poor, as they throw a small birthday celebration for an older priest. It includes a joy-filled Sister offering wine and happily telling how they were gifted with extra cases of beer. It shows another talking about why they do what they do:

“We celebrate the gift of life, the joy of living. When we care for the elderly poor, we try to make them happy in whatever way we can and sometimes that’s through parties, it’s through good care, good food. It’s love, attention.”

I was struck with the stark difference between the two pieces of media I had just consumed. In one, there was an over-arching sense of death and hopelessness. In the other, there was life and joy.

Yes, of course, the Little Sisters of the Poor video captured a birthday celebration; it didn’t show the Sisters caring for a desperately ill, horribly uncomfortable person. It didn’t show them holding vigil at a deathbed. But the Sisters do those things too. They do them day in and day out; they see more of age, of illness, of poverty, of death than most of us ever will. Yet they are filled with joy.

I have a friend who is a Sister in another order, who worked for a time in a nursing home. She often posted on Facebook about waiting with residents who were nearing death. Sister would sit at their bedside, talking to them and praying for them. She made sure they didn’t have to die alone.

That type of ministry touches me deeply. I think about my life, about all the people I have interacted with and known and loved and I wonder, who will be with me at my last moment? Will anyone be there at all? Lots of people state the vague, “I want to go in my sleep,” but I don’t know that that matters much. I just hope I have someone with me to hold my hand and pray for my soul.

As a Catholic, I recognize that suffering is part of life. I don’t mean that it’s not significant or difficult. I certainly don’t mean that God wills it. And I don’t mean that it’s wrong for a person to want their suffering to end. I only mean that we do ourselves a disservice when we think suffering makes life “not worth living.”

Our society pounds into us, again and again, this idea that life is for the healthy and the happy. And I’m not just talking about bright, shiny magazine spreads. I’m talking about the things we do in our homes and say to each other: We put our animals “to sleep” when they decline in health or ability; we recite a litany of “I don’t care if it’s a boy or a girl, so long as it’s healthy;” we jokingly ask others to put us out of our “misery;” we tut-tut others’ pain when they mourn a miscarriage or the loss of someone very old or very ill. (Seriously, would you ever say “Well, I suppose it was just his time” to the parent mourning the unexpected death of an 8-year-old boy or the widow reeling from the loss of her 32-year-old husband?)

Given all of this – this idea that a life’s value is measured by its vigor – it can be easy to act like very old or very ill people’s lives have ended before they’re actually dead. It can be easy, even, to want them to be actually dead. I won’t claim to be immune from such thoughts.

But I don’t think the Little Sisters of the Poor fall into that trap. Where others see nothing but pain and suffering, the Sisters see lives with as much dignity as those of the healthy and vigorous. They remember that our value does not depend on what we can do or how we feel.

Our lives are always worth living. When I near the end of my own, I hope I’m surrounded by people who remember that.

LITTLE SISTERS OF THE POOR MISSION, VISION and VALUES 2012

The Little Sisters of the Poor are an international congregation of Roman Catholic women religious founded in 1839 by Saint Jeanne Jugan. Together with a diverse network of collaborators, we serve the elderly poor in over 30 countries around the world.

Continuing the work of Saint Jeanne Jugan, our MISSION is to offer the neediest elderly of every race and religion a home where they will be welcomed as Christ, cared for as family and accompanied with dignity until God calls them to himself.

Our VISION is to contribute to the Culture of Life by nurturing communities where each person is valued, the solidarity of the human family and the wisdom of age are celebrated, and the compassionate love of Christ is shared with all.

Our VALUES

REVERENCE for the sacredness of human life and for the uniqueness of 
each person, especially those who are poorest and/or weakest. This is 
reflected in care that is holistic and person-centered.

FAMILY SPIRIT: a spirit of joyful hospitality embracing all with open arms, 
hearts and minds; fostering participation in the life of the home and rejecting 
all forms of discrimination.

HUMBLE SERVICE: the desire to raise others up and to put their needs before 
our own; an appreciation of simple, everyday tasks and experiences and humble 
means in accomplishing our work.

COMPASSION: empathy for sharing the weaknesses and sufferings of others; 
eagerness to relieve pain in all its forms and to make the elderly happy.

STEWARDSHIP: the recognition that life and all other goods are gifts from God
 and should therefore be used responsibly for the good of all; trust in God’s Providence 
and the generosity of others to provide for our needs; just compensation for our
 collaborators; a spirit of gratitude and sharing.

 

* I came across the video because the Little Sisters of the Poor were recently named to NOW’s “Dirty 100” (oh, the irony) list of organizations that have filed suit against HHS regarding the contraception mandate. See my last post for a few of my thoughts on that subject.

The Weirdest Of Them All

I seem to have a talent for developing/attracting weird medical issues. (A fact pointed out to me by my weirdness-weary college roommates.) I’ve had eczema cover every inch of my skin from my fingertips to my elbows. I’ve had more eczema on my foot, so bad that my doctor had it x-rayed, fearing the bone was infected. I’ve had a weirdo, hallucinating reaction to a meningitis vaccine. I’ve broken my nose (and suffered a concussion) while tickling my little cousin. I’ve almost cut off my toe. I’ve lost my voice for a month because a coughing fit injured my vocal chords.

Have I lost you yet? Seriously, I could go on.

This week, however, I received the weirdest medical news yet: I have a cyst in my brain. I also have a cyst at the base of my tongue. And a herniated disc in my neck.

(No, this isn’t a joke. And yes, the news was a surprise to me too.) I went in for an MRI on Monday, trying to get more information on a pinched nerve in my neck. The next day my doctor called me with… all of the above. In a somewhat short, forceful conversation, she told me the news and instructed me to see an Ear, Nose, and Throat doc regarding the tongue and a neurosurgeon about the spine and the brain.

I was kinda sorta left reeling, kinda sorta not believing that it had even happened, and kinda sorta thinking, “Oh my gosh, I have the weirdest things happen to me.”

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Now, perhaps you might think it’s a bit strange for me to be telling you all this, just four days since I got the news myself. I mean, I’m sure you’re all very fine people, but many of you are strangers to me.

However, the truth is, I can’t seem to move on – to write anything, to read anything, to think about anything else – until I get this off my chest. It’s my elephant in the room. Hopefully once I’ve articulated the following, I can start writing on other topics. Because for these last four days, every idea that’s crossed my mind has been met with: “Nope, not as interesting as the cyst in my brain.”

So here they are, some thoughts on this latest round of medical weirdness:

—1—

I’m a terrible procrastinator, especially when it comes to things that stress me out. Medical stuff most definitely qualifies. I’ve been putting off following through on various and sundry medical issues (including the stupid pinched-nerve-in-my-neck-causing-my-arm-to-fall-asleep thing) for years now.

With this third pregnancy, I’m trying to just bite the bullet and pursue whatever needs to be pursued. And to actually follow through on investigations I start. (A neurosurgeon confirmed my pinched nerve at the beginning of the summer and instructed me to have an MRI to see what was causing it. I promptly put it off for four months.)

—2—

Why do I do this? Why, when I experience some sort of medical symptom, do I take so long to start figuring out what causes it? Why, when faced with an actual diagnosis, do I set it aside and treat it like it doesn’t matter? Why does it take a pregnancy to get me to take my own health seriously?

It’s not that I don’t value my own health or my own life. I think it’s that it’s difficult for me to imagine anything actually threatening them. Part of this is because of the whole medical weirdness thing: whatever weird things have come my way in the past, I’ve always been fine in the end. The bigger part, though, is probably more universal: I take myself for granted. I am my own reference point for life. To myself, I am a given. And it’s difficult to accept that a “given”… isn’t.

—3—

I’m a little worried about having had an MRI while pregnant. I wasn’t worried when I scheduled the MRI: Nothing I’d read had indicated any demonstrable risk to an unborn baby from an MRI. But the radiologist’s waiver form, not to mention my own doctor’s reaction when she realized I’d waited until after I was pregnant to have the MRI, both unnerved me. To them, the bottom line seemed to be that it’s not known that the test is safe.

That said, now that I know the results of the MRI, I’m glad I had it done. I’m glad I have the information now and that I can start following through with specialists now, rather than a year from now. Because who am I kidding? If I’d waited until I was no longer pregnant to have the MRI, I would have put it off for months more.

—4—

And the MRI experience itself? Not fun. I’d had at least one before, but this time the experience was far more intense than I’d remembered. Part of that was undoubtedly my anxiety from the doom-and-gloom pregnancy release form. But really, it’s just an inherently uncomfortable thing to do. You’re stuck in a tube for what seems an interminable length of time, you have to lie completely still, and there are big, strange clanging noises surrounding you. I had trouble breathing, not because of claustrophobia (which I’m blessed to not suffer from), but because I was worried about breathing too heavily. Breathing is one of those things that is hard to do when you’re thinking about it too much.

Anyway, as I endured the test I couldn’t help but wonder how pediatric patients do it. A couple of days later, reading about an engineer who transforms MRI machines into pirate or space adventures for children, I cried/smiled/laughed and thought, “God bless that man!”

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—5—

Let’s see, where were we? How about a brief review of what Dr. Google has to say about brain cysts?

All-in-all, the big G cautioned me not to get too worked up about the whole thing. Brain cysts are not those scary-sounding “brain tumors.” Most are benign and they generally grow slowly, if at all. Many do require surgery, but usually because a cyst is interfering with the part of the brain it resides in, causing adverse symptoms for the patient. I have no such symptoms.

As scary as the idea of brain cysts may be, now that I’ve read a bit about them and a little time has passed, I’m not all that nervous about it. (Did you hear that, family? Oh, you world-class worriers? I’m not too worried, so you shouldn’t be either.) I think it’s quite likely that I’ll go to my appointment with the neurosurgeon and he’ll say, “Yep, you have a little cyst, but it’s in a boring part of your brain and it’s obviously not doing you any harm, so we’ll just keep an eye on it.” (Okay, fine. Neurosurgeons probably don’t think any part of the brain is boring. But certainly some parts have got to be more interesting than others.)

—6—

And what about the tongue cyst and the herniated disc? I haven’t looked for, or found, as much information on them as I have the brain cyst. I do know that they’ll likely do a biopsy on the tongue cyst, which I am not looking forward to. And I read a statistic that only one in ten herniated discs require surgery. Surely I’ve got to be in that non-surgical camp, right? I mean, I move and walk around just fine. The only problem I’ve got is a sleepy/tingly arm.

Either way, I’ll get some more information soon. I’m to meet with the ENT this coming week and the neurosurgeon the following one. I’m happy to have gotten appointments so soon; I’m eager to either (a) find out that this whole thing really is no big deal or (b) start moving on whatever it is that needs to be done.

—7—

Speaking of appointments (and “biting the bullet” in number one), I’ve also been pursuing some medical issues besides the whole cyst/cyst/disc thing. Yesterday I saw a dermatologist and my-oh-my, was it a relief to hear that everything looked great. The thing about putting off medical issues is, they often become bigger and more stressful in your imagination than they need to be in real life. I drove home from the appointment with an outlook considerably lighter and brighter than it had been on my drive in. Hopefully I’ll experience the same wonderful feeling leaving next week’s ENT and cardiologist appointments and the following week’s neurosurgeon and OB appointments.

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—8—

So, if you’re anything like me and you’ve been putting off some medical issues of your own, I hope you’ll go ahead and tackle them. No time like the present, right? In all likelihood, taking care of them now will make you feel better, one way or the other: You might find that you had nothing to worry about after all. You might be set on a constructive course to improving your health. At the very least, you’ll stop feeling guilty about ignoring whatever it is and you’ll finally be doing something about it.

Whatever the case: Go you! You can do it! If little Miss Procrastination Is My Middle Name can do it, then you certainly can.

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—9—

Not to belie any of the “I’m not worried!” declarations above, but if you’re inclined to do so, I’d appreciate your prayers for my good health and the safety of my baby. Prayers are something that are always, always welcome.

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Thanks for humoring me with your attention. Hopefully now that I’ve said my piece, I can fight the impulse to walk up to complete strangers in the grocery store and say, “You know, I’ve had the weirdest thing happen to me. It turns out I have a cyst in my brain.”

After nearly four days of sitting on the issue and three drafts of writing about it, I think I’m finally starting to feel some release. Now that this post is out of the way, the floodgates (if they could ever have been called that) are re-opened. Let the regularly-scheduled blogging resume!