Update on the Radio Silence

Short version, since last I wrote:

  • The kids started school! 3/4’s are being farmed out to TOTAL STRANGERS, and 1/4 is home with me, thriving in the silence that comes from emptying the house each day.  So I was offline for a bit, focusing on the transition and all that.
  • Then 1/4 of the children came down with the wicked nasty evil virus you don’t want.  Thank goodness it was the homeschooled child, I think I would have cried if I had to pull a kid out of school for a week with an uncontrollable fever during the child’s first week of school ever ever ever.  Instead: Documentaries were watched.
  • Then 1/2 of the parents caught it (me).  Not as badly, actually!  More tropical depression than cat 5 hurricane.

So all that sucked up three weeks right there! Whoohoo!

I’m doing better now, thanks for asking, but am having to catch up on all the regular-life business that got neglected, and continue the transition to school year activities.  (Example: This week, I’m going to REMEMBER THAT ORCHESTRA STARTED and actually bring my children!  That will be neat! Teachers love it when you do that.)

That’s all I’ve got time to say now.  Headed to Adoration this afternoon while a child is at PE, and as always I keep my readers in my prayers!  I will write soon, I think.

 

File:Flamencos andinos (Phoenicoparrus andinus), Laguna Cañapa, Bolivia, 2016-02-03, DD 63.JPG
You know who takes good photos? Diego Delso. That’s who.

PS: Let me just say that if you have the option of sending your child to a good Catholic school or a good Catholic homeschool? Do that.

 

Photo: Andean flamingos (Phoenicoparrus andinus) in the Cañapa lake, Bolivia. Diego Delso, Wikimedia Commons, License CC-BY-SA 4.0

Can You Be Too Tired to Pray?

I noticed for the first time, just this morning looking at the readings, that the Transfiguration was something of a warm-up for Gethsemane:

Peter and his companions had been overcome by sleep, but becoming fully awake,  they saw his glory and the two men standing with him.

(From Luke 9, via the USCCB daily readings.)

Fittingly, when I made that observation I was laying in bed with the iBreviary resting on the mattress next to my face, just barely awake enough to pray.  I might be saint-material yet.  I’ve got the “before” thing going on, anyway.

File:Lincoln City seal.jpg

Photo via Wikimedia, CC 2.0.  This week finds me in greater metro Portland, OR for my niece’s wedding.  We went to the coast, where there were no seals, but I have been doing my best baby-seal imitation in my sister’s backyard since I got back.  Little icons of the apostles, that’s what we baby seals are.

A Thing You Should Do, and the Jen Fitz Mid-Summer Update

What’s with the radio silence?  Let me just tell you.

But first, the reason I’m breaking it: My friend Sarah Reinhard asked me to blog on Theology of the Body stuff in the lead-up to this fall’s Theology of the Body Congress, which you should attend if you have the opportunity.  The line-up of speakers is stellar, and yes I would go myself if I possibly could.  So put that on your calendar.

The expression Theology of the Body among Catholics is a bit of a code word for, “Let’s talk about sex now.”  I usually stick to code on these things.  But there’s more to your body than just the parts and processes that make you a boy or a girl, as Susan Windley-Daoust will remind you periodically.  I’m going to write not-about-sex today, and come back to racier topics here and over at Patheos in the next few weeks.

***

Now back on topic.  A little Applied Theology and the answer to the question, “Why on earth has Jen Fitz completely dropped off the internet?”

Short answer is: I’m not doing as well, physically, as I would need to be doing in order to both take care of my primary vocation (marriage, parenthood) and this secondary vocation as a writer.  So first things get to be first, and the rest has to wait.

File:Souq Waqif, Doha, Catar, 2013-08-05, DD 107.JPG
I needed a picture that would preview well. I love this one. It’s by: Diego Delso, Wikimedia Commons, License CC-BY-SA 3.0. Click on the image to see all the details.

The very, very, long answer:

But here is something completely cool, because God is like this: Just in time for me to have something someone really wants me to write about (instead of just me running my mouth off, which is my usual niche), I can totally sit at the computer and not be light-headed!  Isn’t that cool?!  I keep forgetting this new fact, and thus my e-mail is way behind.  June was a pretty long month, computing-wise.

I theorize in part it was positional, which means I probably need to rearrange the workstation.  Here’s an interesting link about cartoid sinus hypersensitivity, which might cause you to suspect I’m really an old man just posing as a pleasantly-plump middle-aged housewife, but you’ve seen the photos, so whom do you believe? Sports Illustrated or my cartoid sinus barocepter? Anyway, my parlor-trick for June was that I could drop my pulse twenty points just by, um, taking my pulse.  No true cartoid sinus massage needed, just touch the thing.

It quit doing that, though, as far as I can tell.

Some other interesting body-things for this summer:

Dang it I can’t talk anymore again.  The speaking-part works fine, don’t panic, it’s the getting light-headed while I do it that is at about 80% of the time.  This is pretty common in tachycardia-themed autonomic dysfunction. (POTS people talk about this all the time in conversation, even though it never seems to make any list of medical descriptions, not sure why there’s that disconnect in the medical literature.)  80% isn’t 100%.  On a good day I’m completely normal, on a lousy day I’ve given up even lip-syncing at Mass.

–> Autonomic dysfunction creates these weird eddies of backward expectations.  Mass is pretty much my least pleasant activity, because it involves sitting still then standing still, with positional head changes (bad — I keep being reminded not to bow the head, just don’t do it), combined with talking.  So on a miserable Sunday I can feel extremely overwhelmingly bad by the end of the hour.  But because the problem is not at all with my heart’s ability to pump blood or my blood’s ability to hold oxygen, I’m the person who’s desperate to lay down while standing still, but will then escape without difficulty at full speed to the car and feel better as a result of the vigorous activity.

Basically I have this cardiovascular problem that makes being still feel worse and being active feel better.

Except for some other problems.

The stamina isn’t there.  This is a thing that keeps confusing me, because I swing all day long between being really quite fit and functional and being completely incapacitated with fatigue.  Here are a series of excerpts from a description I came across that describes me dead-on:

Patients might be able to muster adequate energy for periods of time but it is usually short-lived and they tire quickly, not unlike a battery that discharges too rapidly. . . . A period of rest or sleep is generally required before energy levels are restored. Following rest a patient may demonstrate apparently normal stamina and a clinician will not detect weakness on examination . . . .

This is me completely: Do something, then flop on the floor utterly exhausted, and then in a bit I’m fine again.  Happens hour-by-hour, and then also from day-to-day.  More on that below.

I don’t know whether or not I have a mitochondrial disorder (very difficult to diagnose) but I get this, too:

Impaired oxidative phosphorylation  [don’t know my cause] not only causes muscle fatigue but also muscle cramping with or without tenderness, or a feeling of extreme heaviness in the muscles. These symptoms are especially severe in those muscle groups being used, and patients often complain of discomfort in the legs or even muscle spasms.The discomfort may be felt immediately following the activity or later on, waking up the patient from sleep.

Funny story: I mentioned to a relatively new acquaintance that I’m prone to decrepitude, and the question she asked was, “So are you basically in pain all the time?”

The answer is that at this writing, no I am not.  But I have picked up what is turning out to be mild-but-intractable intermittent pain (in my legs, if you’re curious), and yes it keeps me from sleeping well, and yes, I’ve tried all the things, and the things help quite a lot.  (Other than deep breathing to relax, like the kind that works so well for childbirth — used to be my go-to, but now it just gives me a headache.  Which stinks, because it’s a good method if your autonomic nervous system functions properly.) But I think it’s very funny because the words “every day” and “intractable” do apply even if the pain itself is not very bad.  So if you use those adjectives, it sounds way worse than it is.   I think most other people can also use those adjectives.

[By “intractable” I mean “intractable using means that don’t require a prescription.”  I haven’t gotten around to being bothered enough to plead for the good drugs.  So no, nothing to worry about at this time.]

And this cracked me up, because every receptionist I’ve ever met knows this about me now:

Exercise intolerance is not restricted to the large muscle groups in the body but can also involve the small muscles. Writing can be a challenge; too much writing leads to fatigue and/or cramping or spasms. The quality of penmanship can be observed to deteriorate over the course of a writing assignment with letter formation becoming more erratic and messy.

This is why you don’t want to receive handwritten correspondence from me. Nothing new, story of my life.  Interestingly, I always take handwritten notes in classes, and if I don’t have a computer I’ll do my other writing longhand — but the writing degenerates fast into this baseline scrawl that’s just barely legible to me, and only because I already know what’s written there.  Once it gets down to worst-level, I can sustain it for a long time.

And one last one which caught my attention, from the same source:

. . . Debilitating fatigue can occur with infectious illnesses, may outlast the other symptoms of the infection, and the recovery time can be very prolonged.

This thing I hate.  I never know whether a cold is going to cost me a few days or six weeks.  Weirdly, I used to go into nasty bronchitis every few years following a cold, and knock on wood that hasn’t been a problem lately.  I just get all the fatigue.  (Um, and I always have a cough.  So, gosh, I don’t know. Don’t make me laugh and we’re good.)

Exercise does help.  The supreme challenge is in figuring out how much to do.  Too little, and you sleep poorly and lose conditioning. Too much, unfortunately, is not evident during the exercise.  I can work out and feel great and be sure I’ve figured out a great balance between rest and exercise, and then at the end of the week completely collapse and require days and days of recovery before I’m functional again.

–> The convenient thing here is that I can in fact borrow time.  If I know I want to be up for something, I can plan ahead, build up reserves, stretch them during the event through the clever use of pharmaceuticals, and plan to pay back afterwards.  Difficulty being that the mortgage interest is steep.  There’s no getting more out of the body than it has to give.

The inconvenience is that all the things I do are exercise, but some exercises are more valuable than others.  So if I want to work on my core muscle strength, which is key to preventing the injuries to which I am prone, then I have to not work on helping you out with that thing you wanted me to do.  Your thing is also exercise, but it’s a lower priority exercises, so out it goes.

Yes, I tried that thing you suggested.  Not being snarky there.  I’ve had a number of good friends recommend possible ways to improve the situation, and some of the ideas have been very helpful. (Even if the idea came after I’d already come across that suggestion and tried it, and thus could immediately report, “Yes! Thanks! That does help! Excellent idea, glad you mentioned it!”)  Some things people have suggested and that I tried did not help for the reason proposed (I am not, for example, allergic to wheat) but do help for a different reason (minimizing wheat products makes more room in the diet for intensely potassium-rich foods, which help a ton).

So a thing that’s got me occupied this summer is obsessively managing all the micro-factors that can make the situation as better as possible.  I think (but can’t be certain) that I’ve got the diet tuned to a spot where I can happily live off the things I seem to do best with, but also get away with deviating from the Ideal Thing at food-themed social events and no disaster ensues.  If all that proves to be true, I’ll chat about it later.  It might be just lucky coincidence.

Meanwhile, here’s the surprise of the summer:

Heat intolerance!

It took me a long, long time to figure this out.  Here’s the difficulty: The heat doesn’t bother me.

I live in a warm climate.  I don’t mind being sweaty.  I know how to dress for the heat, how to acclimatize as the hot season arrives, and how to get the most use out of a hot day.   Since I cultivated these skills, I’ve never had any difficulty with the heat whatsoever, other than some mild irritation about the truly obnoxious portion of sauna-season, which you just have to deal with and move on.   I even know the trick about watching for Seasonal Affective Disorder when the heat starts getting so annoying you hide indoors despite yourself.  (Same solution as per winter – bright light & vitamin D).

The problem I had in figuring out this one is that (a) I’m still functional above the temperatures when people from up north start whining profusely, (b) I still don’t mind the heat or being hot, and (c) since I have any number of other things that also make me feel terrible, it’s not like I was able to say to myself, “Gee, I feel wonderful all the time except if I’m someplace hot.”

It’s a perfectly manageable problem, it just came as a bit of a surprise.  Amusingly, my cold intolerance is getting worse, too.

The hardest thing: Not being able to concentrate.  Since I’m a master-complainer, I don’t know that we’d call this my “chief complaint.”  But it’s certainly my loudest.  As in: If I told you I NEEDED the house to be QUIET so I could do this thing, that’s what I meant so please go OUTSIDE.  This is the #1 reason I haven’t been writing.  I’m home all day with four kids.  There’s noise.  There are interruptions. Note that my entire career as a writer has been carried out under these exact same conditions.

What happens therefore is that I drift through the day doing tasks that are super-easy, and then if I find myself in some unexpected situation like trying to cook while other people are in the room, it’s alarming to everyone just how badly things go (until I communicate my distress so emphatically that everyone goes and hides).  And then I go back to easy things, and wonder why things that take my full attention just never get done.

So that’s the answer to the perennial, “How’s it going, Jen?” topic on this blog.   I’ll emphasize here that as much I just used my crotchety trans-old lady powers to moan about the ailment for very many words, it’s not as bad as all that.  But here’s a story that sort of sums up the situation:

Yesterday I was halfway through this post when I had to leave and get ready to go to a social thing at the lake.  Sunday had been horrible, Monday was not that great, and Tuesday wasn’t impressing me.  I was only going to this thing because (a) I wanted to go to it, and (b) my kids really, really, really wanted to go to it, and they’d done all the things I told them they had to do if they wanted to go.

So we went.  And I was fine.  Dreamy fine.  No problems.  Felt completely normal for the full three hours I was there, conversing, walking around, standing around, watching kids, etc.  Some of the time, I’m completely, totally fine.

Moments like that can make you think you’re crazy.  Maybe I just need to relax at the lake more often?  Two reality checks:

  • Part of being fine was that I aggressively managed as many factors (fluid intake, electrolytes, staying out of the direct sun) as I could.
  • If it comes as a surprise to you that you went to an enjoyable, relaxing, time-limited social event and had no experience of illness during all three hours, probably the fact that this was an unexpected occurrence tells you something.

So we can add this to my list of signs something is not normal: If you get to where it’s a surprising occurrence when you feel well, we can infer that there’s a problem.

And dang my legs were like lead when I dropped a kid off at VBS this morning.  So yeah, CAWOG.  I’m rolling with it.

I figured since this was the All About Me post, if you made it this far you’re the type of person who wants to see my new haircut.  (Hi Mom!) The third one is me posing in front of the dog’s blanket, which is still hanging up to dry on the screen porch a week after I told a kid to put it there.  I guess it’s dry now.  But I needed the contrast because I kept getting photos where the new haircut looked exactly like the SI photo shoot.

Nobel Prize? Check.

First the backstory, from my post-pulmonology report last Friday, which some of you have already seen on FB:

 . . .  A pulmonary stress test is actually kinda fun. Until you hit your anaerobic threshold. But then they stop. So, fun.

Why fun? Because you have no clues.  Especially after they take your glasses away.  No real feedback on how hard you are going, so no depressing awareness of how hard you are breathing at pitifully minimal efforts.  And hard exercise does feel good.  Also, they ramp you up fast – just a minute at each level, so it’s over pretty quickly.

. . . Dr. M thinks it’s probably tachycardia of unknown origin, maybe caused by the special kind of hyperthyroid that doesn’t show up on the initial screen for thyroid stuff and for which I have none of the symptoms other than tachycardia. 

He also vaguely mentioned “stress”, which people always feel compelled to mention.  Funny story: A good friend in passing made reference to the “scare” I’d had this spring.  And though I don’t quibble with word choice in casual conversation (because: casual conversation, don’t put deep meaning into offhand comments) . . . I was thinking to myself: I wasn’t scared.  It doesn’t count as a “scare” if you aren’t scared.

To clarify: the prospect of dying is intimidating, because that is well known for its unpleasantness.  And I’m a total whiner about unpleasantness, so long painful illnesses, no thank you.  But actual death — the part that comes after the unpleasant part? Sure, I have a healthy concern for the state of my soul, no presumption there.  But I’m also aware that it’s not like I’m suddenly going to get amazingly holy when I turn 85, either.  Pray for the gift of final perseverance, do your best to report for duty at holiness-school each morning, not much else for it.

But I always find it comical when someone (as was not the case in this comment, I don’t think, it was just a random word, not a deep thought) gives me the emotional pat on the back because surely I’m so anxious about xyz situation, and I’m thinking . . . you get anxious about this stuff, but I don’t.  Weirdly, no one ever reassures me about the things that do make me anxious.

Continuing with the pulmonology update:

 . . . We ruled out weird variant asthma pretty roundly. Lung function better after exercise than before. Hard not to like that. Hereby excused from the evil dreaded methocholine test. Victory.

. . . More or less ruled out structural heart things, because O2 sats never dived, which they will if you have, say, a valve problem that occurs under load.

. . .  So the new experiment is to try a beta-blocker to bring down the heart rate, see if that works and thus allows me to do normal things (like: exercise!), without dropping the BP so low I do abnormal things (like: faint!). As experiments go, I’m good with this one, because prescription = $3.38 at Walgreens. I’d spend a full four bucks on this if it came to it.

Drug in question is propranolol, picked because you can take it selectively (such as before exercise) rather than all the time.  Little pink pill.

So I got home from Mass today, tired tired.  Not super-bad tired, but not perky.  I don’t do perky very much lately.  Took pink pill at noon, ate lunch.  1pm decided it was time to do a test and see if this thing worked.  Spouse asked me how I felt.

“My head feels a little funny, but that could be whatever.”

“What do you mean, it feels funny?”

“Like I want a beer and a coffee.”

“So it could just be Sunday afternoon?”

“Exactly.”

Took my pulse before I went out, and it was bobbling around in the “normal” zone, 70’s-80’s, which is about as good as it ever gets.  Walked down the street to the track at the school.  Walked a mile and some.

Yeah. A mile and some.

No super fast, but not slow either.  Wasn’t tired.  Not at all.  Not short of breath.  Chatted with a lady about her puppy towards the end of that mile.

Made myself come home so I didn’t give myself some @#$%^& injury from over-doing it.    Back home again by 1:30, so I was in that normal walking-speed range, which I would not normally consider a fitness-y pace by any stretch of the imagination, but I figured for someone who last took a walk in late January, start easy.  HR stayed below 120 the whole time.  Not out of breath.  At all.

–> In contrast, Friday afternoon on the treadmill, after two minutes of walking, one minute at 1.0 mph and one minute at 2.0 mph, my heart rate was at 126 and I was already feeling like I was exerting myself.

So then, sit-ups.

I check in with the spouse when I come in (not winded, at all, or tired, or anything), and then since I’m restless but determined not to do anything really stupid, I decide I’ll sneak back to the bedroom and do some sit-ups.

[This is my favorite exercise because there are only muscles involved.  So I can do them without injuring things.  All the other exercises involve tendons and nerves and who-knows-what, and I’m constantly on the brink of pulverizing something.  I have good muscles but bad everything else. Sit-ups I can do.  I love sit-ups.]

So all spring the routine goes like this:

  1. Lay down flat on back, wait for pulse to come down to the low eighty’s.
  2. Do a set of ten, or maybe even twenty if I’m feeling crazy.  Be totally winded.
  3. Wait a minute or two for HR to come back down.
  4. Do another set.
  5. Wait another minute.
  6. Another set.

So it takes like 10 or 15 minutes to do 110 sit-ups, because otherwise I’d explode.

Except today: Wonder drug.  I go back there.  Do fifty, pause for ten seconds because: muscle burn.  30 more, another ten-second break, then finish.  Done.  In a few minutes.  Done.  Not tired.  Not winded.  At all.  At all.

Just wow.  That was a good benchmark for better-living-through-chemistry analysis, because unlike going for a walk, I had a really clear idea of how much effort was involved in doing sit-ups because I could actually do them all spring, with the modified approach.

The pre-pill / post-pill difference was kind of like the difference in effort between walking up the side of a mountain with a 60lb pack on your back versus walking down the sidewalk with no pack, except that in reality, if you are fit, walking up the side of a mountain with a 60lb pack on your back is not that hard.  You’d never get anywhere if you had to stop every thirty seconds for a minute break.

***

So yeah.  Nobel prize for James W. Black, earned.  And a big shiny star for Dr. Maybe.  I’ve got to find out what kind of beer he drinks.  Or scotch?  Scotch.

Update: What is wrong with people?

The answer to, “How’s it going, Jen?” remains, “Pretty well, thanks!”  I resurrected the Nine Annoying Things Novena over at the blorg last week, and the pray-ers did well.  Hence today’s story:

So I go see Dr. Maybe yesterday, and they did the dreaded Six Minute Walk.  And here is the very, very, What is wrong with people? situation: I did almost as well as predicted.

Seriously?  Is this really all they expect out of pleasantly-plump 40-somethings?  You’re kidding me.

You do the walk with a pulse oximeter, which means you can cheat and watch your heart rate.  This is handy if you are the kind of person who knows at about what heart rate the gasping kicks in (see archives below for the secret), and thus you can maximize your distance by walking right at that special speed where you’re coughing a bit and your head feels like you just tossed back two glasses of champagne on an empty stomach, but hey, you aren’t going to faint, and even though death feels like the perfect next step, you can do it for six minutes.  Or at least, you can do it that long if a stern nurse in pink scrubs gives you a face like she’ll spank you if you quit early.

It appears the pulmonologists aren’t big believers in pedestrian transportation.

***

Anyhow, I like the new guy, whose brain jumps around so much I finally pulled out a notebook and made a list of all the tests and appointments he was rattling off, because I had a feeling one or two might get lost in the shuffle if no one wrote them down, stat.

Ruled out again this morning — for good, this time? — pulmonary embolisms.  Sent away three vials of blood — I’m not sure he’s quite to the point of looking for tropical diseases (I’ve never been to the tropics), but he’s almost there.  More interesting tests coming along soon, looking for weird variants on regular asthma and exercise-induced asthma, and also he’s going to see if he can get my heart rate up high enough (on a treadmill, not with those evil chemicals) that the O2 levels drop, or something else interesting happens that gives us a clue.

We’re having real problems with finding clues.  The trouble we’re having is that I’m dreadfully healthy for someone who’s sucking wind and coughing while ambling at grocery-store pace, minus the cart.

***

Blorging over the past couple weeks, for those who don’t subscribe:

May 7, 2014 Religion is about Reality – and so is the Black Mass  In which someone in the combox accuses me of “shooting off my mouth”.  What exactly is a blog for, if not that?

May 6, 2014 It’s Not Friendship if it Can’t Withstand Disagreement Because I have the coolest friends.  Yes I do.

May 5, 2014 What I Write, Why I Write, How I Write . . . #mywritingprocess  This is the truth, but I’m going to reveal more details at CWG later this month.

May 5, 2014 Tell Me About Your Favorite Homeschooling Conference @CatholicMom.com  Listen, if you know about a good homeschooling conference, go over the link in this post and leave a comment.  I can’t believe no one did this, even after I bumped the CMom post to two different conference-hosts that I knew about.  Sheesh.

May 5, 2014 Inside the Glamorous World of Religion Blogging – Parody for the 5th Blorgiversary, featuring a video of me making everyone else seem as glamorous as Jen Fulwiler.

May 3, 2014 Guns in Church: The Divide Boils Down to Subsidiarity – I don’t much write about gun stuff.  But when the Archbishop of Gunlandia does something to tick off all his redneck parishioners, someone has to get out some catechism quotes, right?  FYI – post includes a link to my A/C article where I say there, concisely, what I’ve said here, verbosely: This is a topic on which Catholics of good will can disagree, and catechists need to leave their agendas at home.

May 2, 2014 Pomp without Vanity: A True Story from a Parish Photo Directory – My kid is as cool as Fr. Longenecker, and much, much prettier.

May 1, 2014 Fun Stuff: Beautification Claws From the Case Files of DragonEye, PI – Free short story. Catholic dragon.

May 1, 2014 Tried and True Ways to Eliminate People With Disabilities #BADD2014 – Review of what I blogged for BADD here last year.  Because it’s still true.  Quit trying to kill the people who bother you.

April 30, 2014 Something Fun: Armored Combat League World Championship May 1 – 3 – Because I have the coolest friends.  Have I mentioned that?

April 30, 2014 Just Say No to Needy Busybodies

April 29, 2014 Heart Rate Training for Fitness in Chronic Illness – This is actually a useful post.  It’s how I managed to nearly pass the 6-minute walk, despite being seriously seriously not well.  And if I’d taken the walk two days earlier, I would’ve aced it out of sheer racing-preparation common sense.

April 29, 2014 Mid-Easter Evangelization: Time for an Egg Hunt! – Link to my column at NE, which got picked up as a reprint by at least one parish bulletin.  I can die happy now.  I have succeeded as a Catholic writer.

April 28, 2014 Trusting God When Life Isn’t Easy – Link to Pauline Media’s brand new, free, digital magazine.  I wrote one of the articles in it.

April 28, 2014 Midlands Homeschool Convention – Last Day for Discounted Registration – Your one and only chance to see me speak in 2014.  Turn out.  It’s going to be cool.

April 28, 2014 Classroom Management for Catechists – Spanish Edition for Fall 2014 – I do a happy dance.

April 26, 2014 Why is Obedience a Virtue?

April 25, 2014 Real Life Prayer Gardening  A picture of the dog who keeps my prayer life going.  And my garden.

April 24, 2014 A Deadly Faith – Gospel Reflection @CatholicMom.com – I had forgotten all about writing this, but then I read it, and it was really good.  Surprisingly good.  Follow this to get the link to the CMom piece, and yes pastors, you may run it as a reprint in your bulletin next time Holy Week comes around.  Or whenever.

April 23, 2014 Divine Mercy Sunday – What’s it all about??  – Relevant every day at 3pm.  Or other times you have 7 minutes to spare and your prayer life needs a little something.

Click to read my blog at Patheos

Up-ish Again. Yay!

Spent about a week feeling way, way worse.  As in: Light-headed verging on headache-y if a sat upright.  At all.  So I watched movies, because writing flat on your back is not so fun.  Interestingly (disturbingly?) the one thing I didn’t do was pray any better.  But SuperHusband & I did do some contingency pre-planning, and discuss funeral music, because, well, we’re picky about music.  Last night I pointed him to the Dies Irae, and he was alarmed no one had ever played it in church before. Makes you feel cheated.  I’ve never heard it myself, I just look at in the hymnal and know that I love it.

So whichever one of us dies first, the other one gets to hear good funeral music live, and the early-departer gets the remote version.  (Or, if we’re bad . . . let’s not think about that.  I know there’s suffering in purgatory, but our Lord wouldn’t stoop so low as to open The Gather and . . . we’re not talking about that now.  I’m going with those lines about pleading for mercy.)

So my kids have this weird notion that the way one faces serious illness is to give your spouse dating advice and watch movies all day.

And then I started feeling better again.  I won’t say I feel *normal* sitting upright, but at least I feel normal enough that I keep doing it, because: More interesting.

And definitely not feeling all funeral-planny this week, so that’s good.

Follow-up appt with cardiologist next week, in which we figure out where I should go next.

***

I started back writing stuff, and if you don’t subscribe to the blorg, you can periodically check the archives and click on the interesting stuff.  I’m trying to use titles that more or less tell you what the post is about.  Here you go, I think this is all the interesting bits since last I posted here:

  • March 28, 2014 Students Angry at Catholic School for Teaching Catholic Faith – UPDATED  News item out of Charlotte, NC, w/ prayer request for you to pray for Bishop Jugis, and also I rant a little.
  • March 28, 2014 Do the Ends Justify the Means? Blog catechism class, because some of my readers were unclear on how double-effect and don’t-do-evil-that-good-may-come-of-it work.  Also, now my all time favorite intro to theology book can be purchased on Amazon — that is, there were six copies, used, when earlier I wrote.  They might all be sold now.
  • March 27, 2014 How Can the Spirtually Flabby Be Helped? Link to my New Evangelizers column.  I was irritated by the people who say, “Lent is So Easy! Quit Whining!”, so I wrote about how they could quite whining about the whiners (me), and make themselves useful around their parish.
  • March 27, 2014 How’s that Religious Freedom Thing Working Out These Days? The Constitution.  I’m partial to it.  Blame my upbringing.  Interesting weird arguments going on in the combox.  Someone brought Rastafarians into it, as people will.
  • March 26, 2014 What Makes a Catholic Book Catholic?  Link to my column at the CWG.  Because the day before I said I really really liked Funeral Kings (movie), and I do like it, and you should be briefly scandalized by that that assertion, but I have reasons.  But no, it’s not Catholic  — at least, not the kind of Catholic that gets a CWG Seal of Approval.
  • March 25, 2014 St. Dismas Day, and a Movie to go with: Funeral Kings  More f-bombs in that movie than I think I have ever heard anywhere anytime, and that’s saying something.  And yet weirdly, it’s a good movie, in it’s way.
  • March 23, 2014 On Evangelization: Even People Like You are Missionary Material  Reprint from a few years ago, column from Amazing Catechists that coincided with the day’s Gospel, which was the Samaritan woman at the well.  You may remember it’s the one where we see how she evangelized despite herself.
  • March 21, 2014 Radio Silence = Please Pray  See.  I was sick.  Sick-Er.  Proof.

***

That’s all I know.  Some real life friends and I were thinking we ought to pick a reputable Servant of God (a “venerable”) who’s angling for a promotion to be our next invoked-saint.  Any suggestions?  Favorites?

psst . . . Jen . . . quit mixin’ up your holy-people terms.  “Servant of God” is the step before “Venerable.”  See more here, Thank You, Wikipedia!

Entrust Your Vexations to the Immaculate Heart of Mary

Larry D. reminds us that it might be time to freshen up our prayers for the vexing illness.  If you’re ready to move on to Novena #3, join us in praying for the intercession of the Immaculate Heart of Mary.

Why yes, I did pick it because, you know, heart cath, Immaculate Heart . . . Catholics are punny that way.  Also, because, for various reasons that aren’t really anyone’s business, we’re sticking with the Blessed Mother on this.  And look, today is the First Saturday! Coincidence? I think not.

The rules: As always, no scrupling. You can pick your favorite devotion to the Immaculate Heart, or you can do the Very Little Way variation, and just offer up your own vexation on behalf of your prayer intention.

Thank you everyone, and yes, I’m praying for your intentions through all this, so please feel free to post them in the combox.*

 

*Note: What I tend to do is link a particular nuisance to a particular intention. So for example, ever since my first pregnancy, vomiting is forever linked to a prayer for those struggling with infertility and/or chemotherapy.  Which means that by posting your intention you run the risk that I’ll be remembering you every time something particularly weird or gross happens.  But seriously, be not afraid.  There are worse things.  At least I’m remembering you, right?

Hey, and Pray for the Pee Dee Council of Catholic Women’s Retreat!

You praying types (that’s all of you, right?), mission for today and tomorrow:

Today: Please pray for Deacon F., who’s going to be giving the retreat in my stead.  Pray that God will give him wisdom and courage as he prepares, and that he will put together the retreat these ladies need, regardless of how that matches up with the notes and stuff I sent him.

Tomorrow: Please pray for those attending the retreat, that God will use this retreat to draw them closer to Him, and to help them to live more and more the way God is calling them.  Please pray specifically that those who need to come will be able to come, and that our Lord will use this as a stepping stone in the evangelization of the SC coast.

Thanks!

Time for a New Novena: What’s Vexing You?

The Nine Annoying Things novena has been very successful, but we need to take it up a notch.  TEE was normal (for me – nothing there that should be causing my problems, I’m told), and we’re waiting to hear back on the labs measuring arterial blood gases.  Follow-up appointment is on the 26th, so that gives you a perfect nine days of vexation between now and then. 

Because this situation is more and more vexing by the moment.

Which means we need to invoke: Mary Untier of Knots.  (Warning: If you click the link, it plays music.  Turn your volume down first.  I just went with the first link I found.  Sorry guys. St. Google could help you find a different link if you aren’t already familiar with this particular devotion.)

Advanced pray-ers, have at with rosaries and chaplets and everything else in your arsenal.  Junior team, here’s how the Nine Vexations work:

  • Identify something vexing. An unsolvable problem.  A thorny situation.  Anything that’s too big for you.
  • Invoke the help of Mary Untier of Knots for your cause, and offer up your vexation for mine.  She’s Mary. She can help more than one person at a time.
  • Repeat nine times.  If your life is vexatious, you might have nine different vexations.  If your life is particularly tranquil, you might just have to pray nine times over for someone else’s vexation.  Any kind of mathematical arrangement is fine, and in any case it isn’t a math quiz.
  • Just like the Nine Annoying Things, you’re allowed to offer up your vexations retroactively.  We don’t do scrupling around this castle.

Thanks everyone!  I haven’t dropped dead and I’m still sane, mostly, so we know your prayers are being heard.

Curiouser and curiouser.

Ruled out pulmonary embolisms — none of those.  That’s always nice.  Echo looked . . . okay.  As in, nothing there, on the face of it, that ought to be causing anything this dramatic.  TEE on Monday to confirm that.

Summary of conversation with cardiologist:

Dr: “Well, it looks like you’re fine then . . .”

US: “Not Fine!”

Dr.: “Stable, anyway . . .”

US: “Um, no, not exactly . . .”

Dr.: “Well, I don’t see anything that could be causing this . . .”

US: “So there’s nothing else that could be causing these symptoms?”

Dr.:”Well, nothing common.”

US: “Something rare?”

Dr.: “Oh, I’m sure.  Lots of rare things.”

***

So Monday we test his knowledge of rare things.

 

(BTW: I like this guy.  I asked for dogged, and he seemed willing to be that.)