Relaxing Is Not My Forte

The reason for my recent  doctors appointment was that I needed a physical exam for an up coming dental procedure.  The doctor completed the basics of the appointment.  However, she sent me to the hospital for the most difficult parts of the exam.  I needed a blood draw, an EKG, and some chest x-rays.  All three tests require a person to be very still while being taken, and that is not an easy task  for me. 

I remember as a kid going to physical therapy.  My physical therapist would make me lay still on a matt  for a  half hour to practice being as still as I could.    To an eight or nine year old, that was physical torture!  I wanted to be up moving around, for goodness sake!  I kept on wondering what the kids were doing in class, and I would envy them for learning something I wasn’t around to learn.  I got eight hours of sleep at night, that was enough rest for me!

If I was trying extra hard to say or do something, but was not having much success; my Dad would tell me to, “Relax, relax, Re LAAAAX!”  I know he just trying to be helpful, and even supportive  in his own way.  However, quite often I would lament, “That’s not very helpful, Dad!” 

Years later I understand what my  physical therapist and my Dad were trying to accomplish.   There are times when I wish I had tried harder to work on being as still as I can.  That way when I need to hold myself ridiculously motionless, I would be more practiced doing so! 

How did I survive the blood draw, EKG, and x-ray?  The phlebotomist was smooth!  I had his assistant holding my wrist and forearm, and Beth was holding my shoulder and upper arm.  The vampire was in and out so fast, I didn’t know he had done anything!  I praised the phlebotomist for his swift and painless work!  

The EKG test was harder!  After the specialist got all the wires taped securely to my chest and abdominal areas, which took a bit of time to set up, all I had to do was sit quietly.  The first test was hard to read.  He said he would try one more time with me sitting up.  If it failed, he would have me lay on the examination table. (Laying down on a narrow exam table is not relaxing to me, and might have taken more time to calm myself.)  Instead, Beth told me to wiggle; sometimes reverse psychology works wonders!  The second test was not perfect, but it was good enough for the purpose it was taken for.  Two tests down, one more to go!

The dentist wanted three x-rays.  (Flashback!  As a kid, I would be x-rayed at least once a year, I guess to monitor the growth of my bones.  It  was a horrible experience; being taped down by lots and lots of masking tape, in the hopes that it would help tame the wiggles. How could I stay still when I was dreading the pain of the tape being taken off!)   This time there was no hard table, and no masking tape!   Two of the three images had to be retaken, but the x-rays were, to my relief, painless and quick. 

I think the x-ray technicians enjoyed getting to practice driving my power chair around whenever they needed to reposition me.  A few times I thought they were going to decapitate my head on their hard,immovable  equipment   It was an interesting experience trusting complete strangers, but “professionals have control of my power chair.  

I left home that morning at 9:30 without eating, because I was not supposed to eat before the blood draw!   By the time I returned home at 3:00, I felt exhausted and starving.  Maybe I should practice relaxing a bit more!  I believe it is never too late to form better and healthier habits

Mutiny in the Waiting Room

When you go to a doctor’s reception room, you usually expect to find a nice quiet, restful place, right?  Well, that was not what I experienced  in one of my last doctor’s appointments.

Yesterday I had a doctor’s appointment.  One of the florescent lightbulbs in the waiting room was on the verge of dying.  The light was flickering like a strobe light you would find at a night club.  The flickering was driving me nuts!  I felt the tiniest of headaches coming on.  I wondered why nobody was complaining about it to the office staff.  I could feel an irritable tension in the room.

Actually, there were people complaining  around me, it’s just that people were being polite about it.  A woman sitting next to me said she was feeling nauseous.  Someone else said they were feeling dizzy.  I thought it was a ripe place for someone to have a seizure.  People had scowls on their faces and were mumbling things under their breathes.  I am fairly positive that a man asked to use the bathroom just to escape the light.  MyPersonal Assistant (PA), Beth brought a book to read, but the flickering light made it nearly impossible.  She finally ended up shading her eyes with her hand maling it possible for her to read; proving the fact that if you wanted to do something bad enough, you would find someway to do it.  Others sat with their heads bowed and eyes closed.  I followed suit, and tried practicing breathing more deeply!

Beth,  noticed a light switch by the entrance.  She asked the person sitting by it to flip the switch.  It turned off the light that was not flashing!  Doesn’t that just figure!  I asked Beth to see if the office manager could relieve our misery.  She said that I was just as capable at complaining as she was.  The waiting room was packed with people; me navigating my power chair to the reception desk was next to impossible!  She just didn’t want to rock the boat, I got that.  Finally, Beth went up and complained.  She was told they were sorry, but the light would be fixed at their noon break.  Beth felt like they could care less about us.  The woman sitting next us volunteered her husband to remove the light, if they would provide a stepstool.  Of course, that went over like a lead balloon!

It felt like we were apart of a controled group study!  I just know they were sitting behind their receptionists desk, writing down their observations!  I was so relieved when my name was called to go to  the exan room!  Not that I wished this on anyone in the waiting room, but I wished someone would have thrown up in the waiting room, so that the office staff would have had to scamble to get the mess cleaned up!  But more so that the staff would suddenly feel some compassion for the people they were serving.

A thoughtful gift

I have received one of the most useful gifts ever this past holiday season!  A friend gave me a lap desk.  I am using the desk to prop up the books I read so that I’m sitting with a better posture while I’m reading!  Technically, I have just used the lap desk to read one book so far, but I know the desk will get plenty of use!  Gone are the days of hunching over books, and holding open books with my elbow!  Gone are the back and neck aches from hours of staying in the same position! 

I remember when I first caught the reading bug!  There was no way I could hold a book in my hands.  I lacked the strength, and the stability to do so!  I would be one very dizzy girl, if I could have held a book, because I’m pretty much in constant motion!   The one way I could hold a book open was to sit W legged style.  To sit this way, your buttom is on the floor, with your calves bent back on each side of your hips.  I would hold the left side of the book open with my knee, and turn pages with my right hand.

I learned almost too late, that W sitting is really bad on the hips!!  I think my left hip is slightly out of place. So far, my hip has not given me much pain, except when the weather turns cold!  After I learned about my hip, I had to figure out new way to sit and read.  I tried side sitting, which is as close to W sitting as I could get.  Initially, I was quite pleased with how I was sitting, with my back resting on a wall.  However, as I began  to get engrossed in the story, my concentration on keeping balance and posture started to ebb away, and I got extremely uncomfortable.  I have tried reading books resting on my lap.  If it was a new paperback, turning the pages could be quite difficult, and often the book would fall to the floor as I flipped to the next page.  Sometimes I would ask a family member who  was close by to turn pages for me.  Sitting bent over reading a book on my lap was taxing on my back!  So, attempt number three at finding a new position to read was reading at the table.  Turning pages was still hard.  Some of the books slided across the table when I went to turn pages!  Some dicem (sticky, non-slip material) helped a lot.  Turning page still was a problem!  My sister thought that the eraser on pencils might be the trick!  She taped cotton balls to the lead end of the pencil, and then wrapped massive amounts of masking tape around the end.  The pencils looked strange to people who did not know the significance of them, but to me they represented a sister’s love!  Or, more accurate, one sister’s desire to be rid of the chore of turning pages for her younger sister!  I can not believe nobody has thought a lap desk would benefit me before now!  I am just grateful for my friend’s concern over my back, and forethought into seeing the lap desk as a possible solution to a lifetimes problem! 

 I have two books I want to recommend to anyone who wants a good read!  The first book on my must read list is: “The Trumpet of the Swan”, by E. B.  White.  A parent will do anything to see his child succeed!  When a Trumpeter Swan sees that one of his ducklings can not communicate with his family and friends, he finds a trumpet for his son to learn to use.  This is a lovely story of learning to communicate even when it seems impossible.  I know, I know this is is a children’s book!  I happen to believe that its good to read children books from time to time, because it brings back a touch of innocence into our lives!  If you have to find a child to read it to, than by all means, do it.   

The second book I am recommending is:  “Petey”, by Ben Mikaelson.  In 1922, Petey is placed in a institution because the affects of his cerebral palsy was causing too much strain on his family.  The institution misdiagnoses Petey, therefore he does not get a proper education.  Sixty year later, Petey is moved to a nursing home where a boy comes to his rescue and the two become friends.  This book is a teen read, however because of it’s subject content, I believe most kids pass it by.  It is truly a good and fast read!  If it says anything about the book, I read it three times, in a row!  I rarely read a story twice!   True, I wanted to deck out Petey’s parents, and most of the people that ran the institution, but Petey’s attitude and spirit for life  is infectious!  I highly encourage youth and youthful at heart to read these two fabulous books!