Monday, March 31, 2008

Teach Your Children Accountability, Please!!

The other day as I walked through my living room, I caught a part of an old episode of The Andy Griffith Show. This episode was one where Opie had broken a window at a neighbor's house and his Pa said it would cost him his allowance for a couple of weeks. There was another person in the scene and he asked why Pa was so rough on the boy, it was just a window. He wanted to know why he just didn't bail the boy out? Well, the Sheriff said if he bailed him out this time he would expect to be bailed out every time. How true!! This got me to thinking about my own childhood.

Growing up, I was one of five children. We all had chores to do that were compatible with our ages. My brother helped my dad with repair of the buildings and taking care of the farm, my older sister helped in the kitchen, my two younger sisters got little kid jobs at the skirt of my Mom. Me, I was the one that took care of the animals on the farm. And we all worked in the family garden. But back to my topic. We all got allowances each week, but if something happened like breaking something, we were responsible for it. There was no arguing about that. I value what I learned as a child and I think it has made me a very responsible person.

Too many children are given everything they ask for without learning the value of what they are getting. I see too many parents giving in to children's tantrums in the stores, just so they would not have to deal with them. Growing up, my siblings and I would have never dared make a scene in public! My Mom was not a crewel person, but she expected proper behavior. Discipline is a lost art when it comes to raising children these days. It has become confused with abuse, mostly by snotty nosed do-gooders who they themselves could have done with a spanking as a child. We had everything we needed, a nice house to live in and plenty of food for our bellies, and at Christmas time Santa Claus treated us well. But as a child, if the "crime" warranted it, I was spanked. More than anything, it broke my heart. But I learned from it, that whatever I had done was obviously not the right thing to be doing.

Being taught right from wrong and being made accountable as a child, has made me the adult I am today. I am not a perfect person, that does not exist. But I try to do my best everyday and treat people the way I want to be treated. I respect other people and their property, and if I want something, I work for the money to buy it. I do not steal what someone else has worked for. I make the money I have get me what I want, and if I don't have any money, then I need to work to earn more so I can get what I want.

My boyfriend is a perfect example of what I am talking about. He smokes cigarettes and drinks beer, but rarely has enough money to support his habits. So his mother buys it for him. He's 38 years old!! I like to have a beer too, but if I don't have the money I don't bum from other people for it. I make sure the bills are paid first and then play if there is any left over. One of my sisters is teaching her children to be responsible. They get cell phones, but if they go over their allotted minutes, it comes out of their allowance. They are allowed to have mostly what they want, but they work for it. This is the way children should be raised. Being accountable for what they do and what they want. I'm not saying a parent shouldn't be there to get their child out of a bad situation, but make them stand on their own two feet.

Wednesday, March 19, 2008

My Heart Is Mad At Me

My family heritage is that of mostly German influence. Physically, I am a statuesque woman, who lately has put on some weight in the middle. However, my whole life I have always been a very strong individual, lifting more than a lot of males I knew. Growing up on a farm sets a standard of labor and hard work basically for the rest of your life. That life gave me purpose and values that now that I say it, gives my a topic for another article. But back to my present subject.

Over the years, I have been a very healthy person, rarely catching cold or anything else. My family doctor would tell my that I was healthy as a horse. Not an image I was fond of, but since I love horses, I let is go as a compliment. I always had mostly physically challenging jobs, standing and lifting, carrying and pushing. Working myself above and beyond because I knew what needed to be done and I got it done. But three years ago it caught up with me. The doctor referred to it as "walking heart failure". I never realized what was happening when it happened.

It was Christmas 2004 and I was walking back from my boyfriend's mom's house which is just two houses over from us. My heart started racing and I got hot and dizzy and my eyesight sort of went dark, then it went away. This happened three times on that short trip, each incident only lasting 5 to 10 seconds each. So when I got in our house, I sat down and rested but remained tired. Which wasn't anything new, I was always tired. My position as a Kitchen Manager at a local restaurant was very demanding. I was the one who my boss rode constantly even though I tried to make everything perfect. I was the one who stayed late because the Front Manager was late again, for whatever reason. I was the one who worked the shift if one of my employees called out sick. I was working almost 70 hours every week and my "Boss" still wasn't happy or helping me. But that dedication to my job took its toll on me.

Again at Christmas time, but in 2006, I ended up in the hospital 2 days before Christmas Eve. I was having Congestive Heart Failure. I had been sick with a chest cold for a week, and it wasn't getting any better. I could only get a few hours sleep at a time before the coughing would rack my body. On the night in question, I was able to lay down for some sleep and felt that maybe I would be able to sleep at least half way thought the night. But that was not to be. I woke up with a little tickle in my throat so I got some lovely hot tea, with honey and lemon. It didn't help. The cough got worse and worse and I started spitting up a little bloody mucus each time. After coughing for an hour, I woke up my boyfriend and told him it was time to go to the hospital. His mother drove us and I got in the back seat of her Jeep. I couldn't sit in the seat, I had to be on my knees and hang over the back because if I sat down, I couldn't breathe and felt like I was suffocating. This was not a very dignified way to make my way there, but at least it was night time and no one really saw me.

After much attention from the medical staff in our local emergency room, I stabilized and was able to breathe again. I even got some sleep. The cardiologist I had seen once before visited me the next morning before letting me leave the hospital. He prescribed some medication and scheduled me with an appointment in his office in a week, and I went home. Stopping by the pharmacy on the way home was a shock though. The prescription medicine costs were off the charts!! I could feed my boyfriend and I for a month with the money I spent on what the two prescriptions cost. I "felt" better and you can't see your heart, and I didn't have any more problems so I didn't keep taking the medicine and I didn't go see the doctor the following week. No money to spend on that anyway. I had just been downsized from the company I was working for and unemployment didn't pay that well.

So this brings up to January 2008. Again, I had a cold, or I guess what I thought was a cold. I was fatigued and coughing, with a slight fever. Again, sleeping was at a premium. I couldn't walk from one room of my home to the next without having to sit down and catch my breath. It hit me that this was the same as a year ago, give or take two weeks. My boyfriend was at his mother's and I called him and told him I needed to go to the hospital, because it was happening again. So off we go. In the ER, I was sent for an X-ray and then a CT scan. Neither of them could show anything. My cardiologist came the next morning and ordered what is referred to as a MUGA scan. This test finally confirmed what was really wrong with my heart. My heart only pumps half the necessary blood through the heart with each beat than what is needed. This explained the extreme fatigue and shortness of breath I had been suffering while working as a Catering Chef in the months previous to this. This is also complicated by a Left Bundle Branch Blockage. A left bundle branch block indicates that one of the electrical pathways in my heart is not functioning normally. By definition, it does not mean that there is a blockage in one of my coronary vessels.

So, at age 43 my heart is mad at me. It wants me to start taking better care of myself. I won't deny being scared to death when all these words came flying at me. My cardiologist's prognosis is not the most uplifting at this time. His clinical notes included terms like "pacemaker", "defibrillator" and "could die suddenly at any moment". These are not terms that have settled very well with me. I am taking my prescription medication as directed now. Since the first incident, the medication has gone generic and I can now get them for $4 each at a certain pharmacy. Why couldn't they have that price a year ago?? Go figure. I am restricted from working and my doctor instructed me to apply for disability. That has been a nightmare. But like everyone else I need to make a living and am seeking employment form home to supplement what my boyfriend is bring in.

It's been a very frustrating 3 months, not being able to do the physical activity I took so much for granted. I play with my dog in the yard for aerobic style exercise. I want to start walking short distances and do some mild exercises at the house. I admit I am still scared of having my heart fail on me. I don't want to end up having to be confined to a bed or wheelchair. I'm not necessarily afraid to die, I'm just not ready to yet.

Tuesday, March 18, 2008

Writing Again

I am a little rusty with my writing skills. I haven't used them in so long, I feel like what I'm writing is rambling. Maybe that's what it should be. I loved to write as a child and even into my early 20's, but as I got older, it seemed work and all the baggage of life was more important. Writing was for "daydreamers". I've decided I want to daydream again.

I used to spend my time when I was young, sitting in the woods under a tree or beside the creek, pretending to be in a different time and creating a story in my mind about Indians and settlers. Or make up conversations of what the animals would be saying to each other. It would play out in my mind as if it was actually happening. I was blessed with a very vivid imagination. (I learned never to pass my tales off as real to my mom. But that's a different topic.) I grew up in the country on a traditional farm, with lots of acreage. There was the fields of corn, the huge family garden, the barn and numerous outbuildings, the woods over on the hill. It was a perfect playground for my imagination. But I think I left it there. At least for a little while.

My little Boo recently came into my life. (See her picture below.) It has been years since I had a dog of my own. She is such a sweet little soul and is so animated. When she looks at me I can hear what she is saying and even have to translate for my boyfriend when she talks to him. He just looks at me like I'm nuts. But my imagination is flowing again and I want to write my poems and stories again.

Monday, March 17, 2008

Be True To Yourself

Sometimes the pressures of everyday life displace a person's perspective on what is important. Really important. Through years of torturing myself, I came to realize I was miserable and for what? For what someone else thought of my clothes, or how much I weighed, or how much money I made? Over the years, I have wrestled with how I really felt and what I thought I was supposed to feel. I have decided to quit worrying what everyone thought of me and just be true to myself.

I have always tried to live my life the best that I can. Some days have been more successful then others. I have always thought a little differently than most people about religion and where we are going. I have never felt that I was wrong in my beliefs, but others made me feel ashamed and ignorant. I have been told that I was "going to go to hell". If I don't believe in it, how can I go? Why do people believe we all should think alike? This applies to almost every aspect of life.

In the pursuit of going further and achieving more, having a bigger house or fancy car, people are loosing themselves in the process. For example, my sister recently was laid off her job in a factory where she made very good money but worked long hours in a messy plant. She took a job in a flower shop making and delivering flower arrangements. I asked her one day if she liked what she was doing, and her response was, "It was okay.". I could tell by the tone of her voice that there was something bothering her. So I told her if she liked her new job, it was okay. Even if it didn't bring in the money like her old job, she was getting paid for doing something she enjoyed. She wasn't allowing herself to enjoy what she was presently doing to help support her family.

Life is only as hard as we make it. There will always be ups and downs, but its how we deal with them that makes all the difference. If we keep hope and humor in our outlook, it makes the trip so much easier. So take a bubble bath or a long walk alone. Plant a vegetable in a pot on the window sill and watch the miracle of growth, and know that you helped achieve it. Go with what your heart tells you is the right thing. Most importantly, be true to yourself. Because if you won't tell yourself the truth, who will you be able to trust.