Monthly Archives: June 2014

Hummingbird

Drawing of a hummingbird

It’s a quite lazy Sunday evening, meaning that my parents and my dogs are sleeping, while my mind is racing at its usual 5,000 miles an hour and my body has on the the contrary next to no energy to move after yet another sleepless night. It’s an usual Sunday evening for me, because it’s been years since weekend nights meant going out. It’s not that I was really ever a regular party person, but still I knew how to “dress to impress” the world around me and make some nice social appearances. I remember that I particularly loved this time of year because the summer used to be my favorite season. I deliberately say “used to”, because right now I dislike each and every part of the year for different reasons and after all from an indoor perspective it all seems the same, but let’s stick to the old times tonight. The school duties or June exams would usually end around this time of the year, and the warm coziness of leisure moments after finishing well the hard work would wrap me up in that magic atmosphere of long sunny days, beautiful light summer clothes and relaxing, hot nights you can spend sleeping even in an open space under the stars if you wish to. Summer meant and well of course still means August, and August means birthday time for me. I never had some truly special birthday party in my life, but I would have never traded that August birthday time for anything in the world, because it almost always equaled seaside, sun and some particular joy only summer knew how to instill in me. Obligations of any sort on the other hand always instilled anxiety even at the best of times, and even though I was very often quite an outstanding performer of the things I had to deliver, I still looked very much forward to the “free” days. Free to do what I wanted and when I wanted, free to sleep as long as I wished, free of all my stresses, free of all kinds of “musts”, free of people and things imposed either by choice or by fate… oh yes, I loved summers so much – because they allowed me to be the person I really was and the person I wanted to be.

In today’s reality, a very large portion of stress in my life comes from the lack of my true purpose on this planet. For a really long time I thought I was irreversibly lost because by the age of 37 I should have already had crystal clear what I wanted to do in life. OK, I did finish university and I do have a profession which secured me modest but in certain ways sufficient and steady income in the good days, but even back then in the past I realized that it wasn’t really the only thing I wanted to do till the end of my days. Or even worse, there were periods when teaching and translating was something I honestly forced myself to do just to have a job, while my soul craved for totally different life paths. There are so many things I am interested in, so many things I would like to grasp, learn, experience, take part in, but I sincerely fear that any single one of them taken separately will never be enough on its own to help me have some sort of “once and for all” profession. I know what many of you will think and it is true, that in these modern times “once and for all” professions are quite an utopia and that we all have to constantly adapt to the changing world, but I think that you know what I wanted to say. I had in my mind profession more as a sense of identity, something you choose as your primary occupation in life, something you truly like and want to pursue. This lack of solid ground under my feet created such a state of confusion in my head comparable with aimless shooting in the dark in all possible directions, totally unsure of what I was trying to do in the first place. I even felt ashamed of myself for not being able to shed some light on just one well shaped direction at this professionally already advanced age… or plainly speaking, I felt desperate.

The despair dissipated to a certain point when I was recently pointed out a very interesting post about people defined among other things as multitalents – http://puttylike.com/terminology/ As I went on reading, in each and every line I could recognize some aspects of myself. I didn’t find some particular answer for my anguish, but I realized that I have to come to terms with who I am and be persistent about it. It’s not about being 37, it’s that even if I live to be 57, 67 or 77, I’m almost positive that even then I won’t be able to fully define who I am in a professional sense. The negative side to it is that if I put my efforts into dozen different things instead of just one, I’m very probably doomed to never make any sort of substantial contribution in this life. Instead, there will be a number of tiny creations, started but never really completed prior to their abandonment. But that’s me. And I have to accept it, just like I am still accepting my limitations due to the panic disorder. I am learning that I simply have to be “fine” with those limitations if I want to go on. In the same way, all my different selves and the lack of some completed definition are something I simply must be fine with. Maybe that is a bad thing, but maybe not. It is true that maybe all those tiny pieces of puzzles that failed to find their proper place in my life will simply disappear, but it is also possible that someone might take on from where I stopped and fit in what remains to create some meaningful, gorgeous image.

At this point, my thoughts suddenly focused on hummingbirds. They are so small, yet so beautifully shaped and so powerfully fighting for their place under the sun. It was a particularly stressful summer a couple of years ago when I spontaneously started drawing this hummingbird after a photo I saw in a book on nature. It helped me deal with fear and frustrations of those days and reminded me that even though my drawing talent was negated, I could have still drawn for myself. That I should not have stopped. Now more than ever, I need something or somebody to push me not to stop. I need some belief in myself, belief in spite of all odds and in spite of being who I am personally and professionally that I’ll manage to secure myself again a living of some sort and regain some self dignity I had when I wasn’t an agoraphobic. Maybe a miracle can happen, maybe I can succeed in some way no matter what I do and from where I act in life. I heard quite a good saying in a TV show about the famous Italian Medici family which goes more or less like this – You should never stand in the first lines, you might get unintentionally hurt. All you want to do you can do equally well even from behind the scene.

There is a summer in front of us and I want to believe that it will bring at least somewhat better days into my life. That summer wish is incarnated in this hummingbird I’m sharing with you. Happy summer everybody!

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Lilacs from that same long gone spring

Lilacs

I’m really attached to this photo, I can’t really say why – is the balance of colors, the balance and harmony between the flowers and the bug, or it simply hit that right spot somewhere deep inside me, but even when everything else was shut into almost forgotten folders, this photo remained as a reminder of better days, as some sort of my trademark as an amateur photographer. It somehow went out right, without any need for retouching or corrections, at least I perceive it this way.

Lilacs are gone here in Serbia for this year, just like many good thing are gone from my life – tonight I feel the depression sinking in together with those wretched pains that I still can’t get rid of. There is so much I would like to do, say, write down, there are so many things I would like to change for at least a tiny bit better in my life, but I simply can’t, I don’t have enough energy, luck, health… No matter how hard I try, there is always that sense of stagnation and being stuck in one place while the rest of the world spins at its own incredible speed without me.

Let’s hope that the next year will be a better one. May it bring more lilacs into my and your days!

Once upon a time there was a spring

Some beautiful photos of my fellow blogger Judy – http://www.crookedtracks.com inspired me to search for the folder from a distant spring when things were much better for me than they are today. I don’t have the date when they were taken and in normal circumstances it would be very hard to determine which spring this was, but PD is the infallible ally in this case. It was the spring of 2005 when anxieties almost completely faded away, thanks to Prozac kicking in at the time or something completely different which I’ll never know, but I had no problem to visit my father’s garden. This is the memory of some long forgotten inner peace that I dream to experience at least just one more time in my life.

poljsko cvece

maslacak

procvetalo drvo

Cherries – true survivors

tresnje
Cherries from Serbia

We feared that there wouldn’t be any cherries this year because they are really sensitive to rain, but here is the proof how hard they fight to survive especially because my father doesn’t use chemical to protect them. They usually pop open or rot in heavy rainy conditions, but to my surprise even those that got cut open closed and healed their “wounds” and grew, leaving visible only some thin long scar marks. I’m glad they are here! 🙂

Snapdragon flowers – 3 days in their life

Another day has passed and I still have no clue as to what is going on with me, I spoke with a doctor but he seems as much puzzled as I am. I started taking an antibiotic for a UTI infection, that’s the only obvious thing for now and as for everything else, I can only state that my legs are killing me for how much they hurt. No numbness at least, and my fingers seem a bit more willing to collaborate, so I decided to share a mini-series of photos I took on 3 days before the illness came along. Snapdragon flowers started blossoming and when that happens, their flowers usually pop out one after another very quickly, but they also wither quickly as well. I’ve known these flowers all my life, in Serbian we call them “zevalice” which can be literally translated as “yawners” :)) – that’s because if you press and release them with your thumb and forefinger sideways, they look as if somebody is opening and closing his or her mouth, something like a huge yawn. 🙂 I don’t think I ever heard or searched for their English name, so when I finally found it today, I was a bit surprised to find out that dragons are associated with these interesting flowers. 🙂 Obviously in English the shape matters more than the movement when it comes to snapdragon flowers, which seems like a nice topic for a general linguistic research.

So here they are:

DAY 1

zevalice-1

snapdragon

DAY 2 – there are more flowers…

snapdragon flowers

DAY 3 – they simply exploded… 🙂

zevalice

Hypochondriac’s ramblings… or perhaps not?

It’s been a while since my last post here, and in case someone has been wondering… yes, I’ve been sick. Again. I think I just felt this disaster coming for different reasons:

1) Due to the floods, my anxiety went too far up which always brings out all sorts of legitimate and “illegitimate” body symptoms and weakens the immune response;
2) Dogs were having their yearly vaccination and apart from preparing the environment, them and myself for the vet’s visit, I was very worried because of their reaction to the vaccine which was strong and quite obvious for 2-3 days after the shots;
3) I had a check up visit at my dentist’s office and the dentist who wasn’t wearing a mask turned out to be sick with some sort of “all over abdominal cramping”;
4) On my way back home I bought a pack of famous Italian Amaretti biscuits, surprised by their discount price – I distantly remembered that they should be made of almonds among other things, but after I already swallowed more then a handful of them, being somewhat suspicious of their a bit too sharp odor and bitter taste, I read the label which said that the product instead of almonds contained somewhere around 20% of… apricot seeds! 20%!!? What about that slight cyanide content in the seeds and all those warnings that the ingestion of too many such seeds can be harmful…
5) I’ve been literally exhausted because it’s been months since I last had some regular, peaceful night sleep… it got that bad that I reached the point where I almost forgot what a good sleep actually meant. Floods added even more strain to my bad sleeping patterns in the sense that even if I managed to doze off for just a while, I had nightmares all the time. In one of them I met my mother far away from our home and she was constantly repeating that I couldn’t go back home EVER AGAIN, because there was no home (i.e. safe place) any more, and what’s even worse, that there wouldn’t be any such place ever again for as long as I live! Can you imagine a worse case scenario in a life of an agoraphobic, to be alive but left without a home for the rest of your days? Honestly I can’t. In another one, I was walking through all that muddy water up to my neck and desperately trying to pull out from that ocean of dirt some horribly large pig that was drowning… I think you got the picture. So to sum up, I hardly had any proper rest at all.
6) I got a huge blister on my finger while I was taking care of one of the dogs’ fur, and even though I wore gloves and disinfected well that big wound that developed when the blistered skin came off, the fact remains that I still planted some flowers on the terrace on that day and the following days and that my wound got into some contact with the potting soil in spite of my efforts to protect it with a band aid. I cleaned the wound diligently every day and it healed well… but still!?

So what actually happened and why am I making this tragically long introduction? I ended up getting sick in a really unusual way. Some ten days ago I started having really strong muscle cramping and knot ball like nerve pains in my legs, alternating with periods of numbness and “I have some sort of a leg, but it doesn’t feel like my leg at all” feelings, subsequently replaced with horrible stabbing pains in my calves and thighs. I’ve NEVER experienced anything similar in my entire life. I deal with IBS on almost regular basis, but accompanying abdominal cramping was among the worst I’ve ever endured. This is where the fact number 6 from above suddenly dawned upon me – Am I dealing with… TETANUS??! The last booster I received was the 5th one administered as a part of the regular vaccination schedule at the age of 15, i.e. some 23 years ago. Are those 5 shots that I received from my birth to the age of 15 enough, or do I absolutely need additional boosters every ten years, which means that I already missed two of them?? Doctors opinions seem to disagree… so as I was waiting for my jaw to lock and to die in cramps, I found some relief in the fact that a tetanus infection can end in FULL recovery, but I was already out of my mind by the time I found this information. I also performed some weird “spatula” test :)) – they say that if you tackle the end of your throat and don’t get the usual gag reflex, but end up biting the spatula instead, you’d better get ready for the dooms day. I got the gag reflex all right, but it wasn’t that much comforting after all.
As the time passed, I experienced some burning feelings, as if my entire body went on fire and I developed slight fever, which I still have. Later, while I was lying down and staring at the TV which was pretty much all I was able to do in these last ten days or so, all that cramping migrated from the legs upwards and wrapped up my entire body in electric shock like knots that came and went pretty much without a pause. At this point I got a bit more prone to attribute everything to “some weird dentist’s virus” number 3 explanation, but I must say that even that number 4 “slight cyanide poisoning” from the Amaretti biscuits wasn’t so much out of question either, especially because I was growing more and more dreadfully tired and prone to… oversleeping??!
I think I haven’t slept all right for more than 6 months continuously, and now all of a sudden, total crash. Maybe I was just tired to the end of my limits?? Or perhaps the tiredness and my weakened immune response triggered some kind of dormant neurological disorder?? Is it perhaps my thyroid with its large nodule finally dying for good… or could it be simply that I have some… parasitic infection?? Dogs get their anti-parasitic meds regularly and they are definitely healthy and a bit fatter than they should be, but hey still, what if…
At this point I started going really crazy, because objectively there could be more than a few dozen explanations for how I felt, and my anxious over-analytical hypochondriac mind couldn’t stop searching for an answer. I needed something definite, THE ANSWER. But sadly, there was none. All I could do was pray for this to be some sort of a virus so that it could eventually go away and leave me alone, but I dreaded much worse scenarios all the same.
Pains migrated back to arms and legs and I developed some very weird almost constant numbness in my right arm and right leg. So here we went again… Dear Lord, now what… paralysis?? MS??? Or perhaps even… cancer…???? When I started feeling cramps even in my facial muscles and when the left corner of my mouth went numb as well making it harder for me to speak and swallow, even a possibility of a stroke came into picture… When on the contrary all that numbness got replaced by horrible leg pains once again, the mysterios illness started sounding more like… fibromyalgia?? Or was it actually some autoimmune disorder other than MS… sarcoidosis?? Lupus?? Or hey, I’m quite sure that I didn’t get any ticks hooked onto my skin in ages, but maybe I missed something… so Lyme disease?? Or, speaking of insects, maybe it was the consequence of all those mosquitoes stinging me in the days after the floods… hmmmm… West Nile virus?? Or even leptospirosis??
Then by some accident I got onto a hepatitis C web page and to my horror, I realized that my symptoms could fit fairly well even there… which reminded me of how I feared that I could have contaged the HIV virus because I received a blood transfusion in 1983 when blood still wasn’t tested for hepatitis C or HIV… contaging HIV of course didn’t happen, but I was obviously a hypochondriac long before my very first panic attack. :))
The minute I got hooked of the hepatitis C idea, stabbing pains started closing in on my joints, knees and foot ankles and all of a sudden, RA felt like a totally plausible explanation…

I’m very sure that by now you’re convinced that I’m a complete nutcase, but believe me that this mental self-diagnostic horror is not so much far away from what is experienced by many people who can’t be easily diagnosed and who spend months, if not years visiting all kinds of specialists in a desperate search for an answer to their problems. Being also very much aware that if I went to see any kind of doctor and said that I occasionally don’t feel my arm and leg quite all right, I would end up paying dearly for a MRI and spinal tap to verify the possibility of a MS diagnosis, I decided to wait a bit longer. In the meantime, pains got somewhat lighter and the overall weakness is almost gone, but I still can’t walk normally or use my arms as usual… handwriting and typing is quite a problem (it’s been something like 3 days that I’m typing this), and I’m really not sure what to do. Some basic blood work would be absolutely necessary, so I’ll see where that can take me. I just can’t believe that something so weird and obscure could be happening to me immediately after those catastrophic events that hit my country, but one disgrace never seems to be enough. I really did my best to help in some way during the floods, I truly felt the pain of people and the consequences of the rain in the whole region, I was quite active within the limits of my confined world and to my surprise, I somehow seemed to be “fine” health wise in a situation where nothing and nobody was fine… but it just didn’t last. I was separated from the blog and my consciousness was directed from outwards to inwards once again. I really don’t know how to get back on the track, I just know I’m scared and I want this to go away. I want to be “ok” (my usual chronically problematic ok state), so that I can make some much better use of myself.
Wish me luck.