Lent Day 23: Bored and Annoyed Just Right

I knew I hit my penance just right this year when I found myself thinking, “I’m not really liking this. But other than that, it’s not a problem.”

What I’m noticing this year is how important it is not to be afraid of the penance you’ve chosen.  If you fear you are harming yourself, you are going to give up.  If you are confident that what you are doing is not harmful, you have a better chance of talking yourself off the ledge.  It can be helpful, in that regard, to try the thing outside of Lent before you commit to a whole season of it.

For some more thoughts on hitting the sweet spot: What Makes a Good Penance? Three Tips for Mid-Lent Adjustments.


Meanwhile, a glimpse at my spiritual life, Lent Edition:

8:00 pm: I am so bored at the prospect of carrying out any of the choice of chores in front of me that what I long to do is go off to a quiet place for some contemplative prayer.

8:10: Well, that was a great two minutes of prayer, but now it appears I’m just thinking about random stuff. Not actually praying.  Try to get mind back to praying.  Praying is great!  Love God!  Talk to God! Listen to God! Be with God!

8:15: Okay, actually I’m falling asleep.  

At which point I turned on a bright light and pulled out the review copy of the extremely wonderfully very good book you can hear about soon.  It’s by Julie Davis and as good as her last book, but in a completely different direction.

File:Jeremias-de-Decker-Jacob-Aertsz-Colom-J-de-Deckers-Gedichten MGG 0570.tif

Artwork: Christ in the Garden, Jeremias de Decker, 1656.  Via Wikimedia [Public Domain].

The disciples’ inability to stay awake is the evidence that they had no  idea what was about to  happen.  When you are expecting trouble, you stay awake.  You sleep when you think everything is fine for now.

Lent Day 9: Eternal Rest Grant Unto Him . .

UPDATE: Simcha Fisher has the details on how you can help Anthony’s family — and him as well.

+ Please pray for the repose of the soul of Francisco Antonio Gallegos, and the consolation of his heartbroken family. +

Soldiers at dinner in Base Hospital No. 9, A.E.F. -from a history of the work of the New York hospital unit during two years of active service in France.

Photo by Internet Archive Book Images [No restrictions], via Wikimedia Commons. From the accompanying text: “. . .the petty trials and difficulties are now fading from the memory, and in their place stand out the big things that really counted and made our adventure . . . worth while.”

Thanks for asking, I don’t know either.

I’ve been meaning to write a health update since last September.  I sat down then to write that everything was still great (yay!) except that gosh, I was really very tired.  Just a cold, though, no worries.

Seven or so colds later (I lost count at six, but there was at least one more), I started to turn a corner around the new year.   I’m definitely better than I was in the fall, but every time I start to be happy with the new normal, the new normal decides maybe I’m getting a bit uppity about this “having energy” thing.

But things are better.  Late February I was at a parish event, enjoying myself and enjoying seeing all the good things happening at church, and I was thinking to myself, “Why haven’t I gotten more involved with this group sooner?”  And then I remember: Oh yeah, it’s only been a month that I could reliably have a conversation without getting a headache.  I really enjoy that change, by the way.

So I’m writing on a day when I’m flopping around miserably, utterly useless, mostly flat on my back.  But I’m hopeful that’s a one-off, and with a little rest I’ll be back to the new preferred-normal.  But we’ll see.  I really have no idea.

And Then I Woke Up

Thursday July 2nd at 6pm the fatigue-haze that’s owned me to varying degrees since the end of January suddenly evaporated.

It is intensely pleasant to be out of it.  If you’ve ever done that thing where you get someplace and forget to take your sunglasses off, and you’re walking around inside and everything’s really dim, and then suddenly you remember and you take off the shades and suddenly everything’s brighter and you don’t need so many lights on, it’s like that.

No explanation whatsoever, anymore than I could figure out what brought it on.  But suddenly it’s like I’m not trying to function underwater anymore.

So I like this.

Something curious: No change physically.  I can still be intensely physically tired — tired like holding my head up is too much energy — or short of breath or enjoying one or a couple of the three different variations on light-headedness, but now I’m doing it without the static.  Ditto on emotions – I can be frustrated by something or daunted or lazy or lacking in virtue, but now, suddenly, my utter irresponsibility is like an unfettered act of free will, rather than me fighting against this physical inertia.

I can remember telling a friend earlier this year, “I just want to wake up.”  That’s what it’s like.  Like I’ve been groggy for six months, and then suddenly the coffee kicked in and I snapped to it.

An analogy that is of no help to anyone but me: It’s like the difference between my left side limbs and my right, for those who recall the nerve injury that coincided with the back/pelvic injury eight years ago.  I don’t *lack* sensation on the right side, it’s just less — it all feels like there’s no sensory loss, but then apply the exact same touch to the same place on the left side, and left side has more flavor. Or: I don’t feel like there’s anything wrong with my right hand, but if I compare wiggling fingers on right hand versus left, the right side fingers feel thicker, and it feels like there’s more resistance to movement — like a stiffness, but it’s not a physical stiffness, nothing wrong with the joints, no lack of dexterity or flexibility or anything at all.  (–> None of that is as profound as it was initially, it’s very background now.  I forget it’s a thing.  No practical application, other than to remind myself that if I’m only noticing mild *left* leg calf cramps, it’s possible both legs are experiencing the same thing, but only one side is reporting in.)

Dr’s appointment on Monday, and we need to decide with who / when / how to pursue the on-going thing, in light of the fact that I was pretty much laid out for several months this year, which is not good.  You who pray should pray for that.

Meanwhile, you who prayed and got me to snap out of the thing, thanks.  I’m enjoying this.

Interesting Times

The afternoon of May 23rd I had to reluctantly admit that what I was determined to call “allergies” was really a cold.  If noses run in your family like they do in mine, you can appreciate the difficulty of telling the difference.

It was this mild cold that half the kids had already had, no big deal.  I sneezed a lot, and then it was supposed to be over.

Interesting thing one: Nothing bad happened, and it still managed to own a month of my life and counting. Normally what happens with a cold is that if there aren’t any complications, it annoys you and then you get better.

Instead what I had was no complications, and tangible but glacially-paced recovery.  So I go weeks constantly asking myself, “Surely something terrible has happened because no one is this tired, with this obnoxious of a cough, for this long,” except that no, nothing terrible was happening.  Not a single sign of a secondary infection or anything else. Every day was in fact just a tiny bit healthier than the day before.  A perfectly normal recovery, only carried out in ultra-slow motion.

So that aggravated me, because I was impatient to be back to the fully-functional-esque person I was in earlier April – May.  I’m thinking, looking back, that ultra-slow recovery is the same reason February and March were the disaster that they were; or maybe it was something else.

Interesting thing two: Just as I’m turning the corner I start getting a resurgence of the infamous “I feel like I’m buzzed” thing that was the fascinating side note to my initial (untreated) illness.  Which leads to a fair bit of lying when I see people, because after hiding in the cave with the cold long enough, when you see someone you’re so happy to see fresh humans that when they ask you how you’re doing you say, “Good!” even though what you mean is not, “I’m doing well,” but rather, “It is good to see you.”

And here’s where the interesting cropped up: My allergies really truly went away.  If noses run in your family like they do in mine, not sneezing is an aberration.

Curiously, when I first got dramatically ill in 2014, something that happened is that the allergies completely cleared up and stayed cleared up.

So today I googled “allergies autonomic nervous system” and it turns out this is a thing.  Essentially hayfever (cats, dust, pollen) and my presumed type of IST are opposites.  Not quite as neatly as all that, but something like it, which will presumably be helpful to figure out.

For the moment all that tells me is that should this renewed spell of sickliness pass, I should plan to start sneezing again.  Meanwhile, we’ve got a topic for the visit to re-up the meds this summer, which might entertain or even intrigue.  We’ll see.


In the meantime, given that 50% of the last six months have been “temporary” disasters, I need to quick get just organized enough to hand off the remainder of my responsible-person obligations.  Prayers in that direction appreciated, both that the intended handing-off will happen efficiently and well, and that I’ll make good decisions about precisely how much I can commit to in the year ahead.

So How’s it Going, Jen?

Quick update for those who’ve followed the saga all spring: I’m doing great.  By which I mean:

  • Medicated, normal life works fine.  Housework, errands, school, etc., all that is no problem.
  • Planned workout (you know how plans go) of a 2-mile walk daily seems about right.  
  • With that kind of schedule, I’m good Mon – Sat, and really need Sundays off.  “Off” as in go to Mass, do the social thing for a bit, then come home and read a book or write a novel or something.  Lie around and physically catch up on the week.
  • If I up the intensity earlier in the week, I don’t make it to Sunday.  Hopefully over time I can add more exercise, but for the moment, what I’m doing is the max sustainable. 

Which doesn’t mean I don’t sometimes jiggle the schedule, and borrow from one day to put more into another.  That works, as long as I pay up in a timely fashion.

So all you who have prayed, thank you very much.  Couldn’t be happier with the results thus far.

Just showed up here and you’re looking for my writing?  Check the blorg.


On Suffering: What Would Jesus Do?

What is the Christian response to suffering? We can take the question from any number of angles, and in time I’m hoping to hit most of them.  It’s a thorny — meaning, “Ouch!” — topic, and as Joe Paprocki observed, it always comes up. Sooner or later everyone passes by way of the Cross.

Today’s topic: What do you do when it’s your turn to hang?

I’m going with the straight-up What Did Jesus Actually Do? answer on this one:

1. Sweat blood.

Jesus lived a sinless, perfect life.  It turns out the sinless, perfect response to the prospect of unspeakable suffering isn’t some kind of happy-clappy, “It’ll be fine!  I love this!” song and dance. By the grace of God, maybe it will be fine.  Maybe you will love it.  But maybe you won’t.  Maybe you’ll sweat blood.  Par for the course.  Not a sign that you’re lacking in faith.

2. Try to get out of it.

Father, if it be your will, let this cup pass from me.  Complete abandonment to the will of God does not prelude prayer for deliverance.  So long as not my will but yours be done is tacked on the end, we’re good. And see “sweating blood” above: We can give ourselves over to complete trust in God, and still not think of it all as one big party.  If it’s one big party, it’s not suffering.

3. Fall down.  Repeatedly.

Will God give you more than you can handle?  Sure.  He just won’t give you more than He can handle.  Sometimes you’ll be laid out so flat the only way you’ll get up is if some Roman comes along and commandeers helpers for you.

4. Die.

The Author of Life is not stuck in the here-and-now. Life on earth as we know it is not our ultimate end.

Is death good? No.  Does it happen to every one of us? Yes.  Being Christian, having faith, doing everything right . . . none of that is a free pass out of mortality.

God can and does frequently intervene to heal, revive, and restore us in our earthly lives.  The life of our Lord was one long series of deliverances after another . . . until, one day, it wasn’t anymore.  At the end of all things, we pass into eternal life by way of death.

You don’t die because you lack faith.  You rise to eternal life because you’ve got it.

No Kittens!

So she was either very very wormy, or . . . I dunno.  No kittens.  I’m telling you, there were kitten-like creatures inside that cat last month.  I guess my future as a cat-midwife is totally written off now.  It’s either writing or accounting for me.  

Meanwhile, SuperHusband dropped the farm cat off at the vet in the morning, and picked her up again after work, transformed into the Cat Who Will Never Be Suspected of Pregnancy Again.  My closet is safe.

No more free cats.  No more free cats.  No more free cats.

Helpful Help for Seriously Ill Parents: A Babysitter List

Because I have the coolest friends in the universe, I’m getting offers of help left and right.  For which I am so incredibly grateful.  And I thought of something to ask for:

A babysitter list.

We’ve never had a single go-to babysitter who could be on call 24/7.  I guess most people don’t.  For all our younger kids’ births, I compiled a chart with the various volunteers, and their availability, and their contact info.  Availability might include days of the week, hours of the day, “Please call me first” or “Please call me only in emergencies”, dates the volunteer wasn’t availabe (“Not May 15th – 27th”), etc.

Also I put in notes like “can come to house” or “Please drop off at their place”, “needs carseats”.  Anything that makes in a difference in whether the person can or can’t help at this very instant.

So then when I went into labor, Jon or I could just go down the list and call someone who was available. While I was in the hospital, he could find childcare without needing me to give him 10,000 suggestions.  It worked really well.


Anyway, if you have a friend who has kids and some kind of crisis-y situation, that’s a good way to help.  Babysitter list.