Posts Tagged ‘stress’


Posted: September 26, 2013 in Health
Tags: , , ,

     Image     How do I even write about stress without giving myself a heart attack?  Well, I’ll give it a shot, but if this post never gets published, it’s because I’m recovering in the hospital and don’t have access to the internet.  Or I’m dead.

My wonderful coaching group leader asked the members to focus on stress this week.  How does it affect you, what does it look like?  The first thing that popped into my head was a tightly-wound ball of string, about 15 feet high.  I don’t know if I can adequately describe how it is affecting me because it is just so huge.  And dense.  And heavy.  I know enough to realize that my problems are small compared to those of a lot of other people.  I don’t think I am terminally ill with cancer or ALS.  I have a roof over my head and even though I sleep on a couch in a friend’s house and my twins share a room with their 6th-grade friend upstairs, I’m warm and dry and relatively comfortable.  For the generosity of my friends I am full to the rafters with a most profound sense of gratitude.  I sold my house almost 4 months ago to avoid foreclosure, but I am not precisely homeless.  It just feels as if I am sometimes.  Homeless with twin 10 year old girls.  Way to go, Kim.

Which leads me to another source of my stress:  My 14-year-old.  She’s going to be a huge success any day now.  She’s incredibly smart and beautiful and talented and amazing.  And I haven’t seen her in almost two months.  The category of broken heart this causes me to feel is brand new in my life.  The pain is like nothing I have ever experienced and so I don’t know what to do with it, where to put it.  I come across photos of her as a toddler sometimes, or as a preschooler, and I just want to lie down and die because I can’t give her a hug.  Because I haven’t given her a hug since August 10th.  At approximately 6pm.  It was a warm and beautiful and sunny day until the moment that I had to let her go and drive away.  She’s with her other mom in LA chasing her dream and recording an album.  She’ll be wildly famous someday.  Probably wealthy.  I don’t want a cent of her hard-earned money.

What I want is a job.  Unemployment is my biggest source of stress.  I spent almost 30 years as a fairly successful worker in my field until the well suddenly ran dry.  It was a great run.  I traveled to amazing places and met incredible people.  Then it ended.  That was three years ago.  I have spent hours and hours and hours looking for a new job, both within my field and without.  No one wants or needs me, it seems, for anything.  Next week I will mark my 55th birthday.  Who gets hired for a great job at that age?  Almost nobody.  I am doing all I can to keep a positive attitude, but the statistics are against me.

Last Sunday I went to church.  I had let some friends know that I was searching for a new and meaningful experience at a different kind of house of worship than I remembered from my childhood, a place more open-minded and welcoming than the scary church I had attended years ago.  It was a lovely service and I did feel embraced.  It was great to be visiting a community of people who I felt had no interest in judging me.  I felt grateful that a friend had thought to invite me.  After the service there was a free blood pressure screening in one of the rooms off the main sanctuary.  I figured, might as well get checked, since I am already on a low dose of HBP medication, hypertension runs in my family and, because I haven’t had health insurance I haven’t been back to the doctor in a while to see if the little pill is still doing its job.  It isn’t.  The volunteer took my pressure twice and while it got a little better the second time, it clearly was not where it needed to be.  So, yet another source of stress.  A viscous circle of a source of stress.  A snake eating its tail.  I have high blood pressure but no health insurance and the old pills aren’t working and that stresses me out and I so have high blood pressure.  I have looked up natural remedies and I’m willing to try some.  And the volunteer at the nice church told me about a clinic at a nearby hospital.  Okay, I will check it out.  I sure do miss the days, though, when I could just make an appointment with my terrific doctor.

There are other things that are stressing me.  Like hot flashes, suddenly.  Small ones, not the sheet-drenching sweat parties I’ve heard about from a few of my friends.  But annoying enough.  And present enough to remind me that I’m no spring chicken anymore.  And arthritis pains.  Another viscous circle.  My joints hurt a lot when I try to go for fast and stress-reducing power walks.  I started to work out again, lightly, but stopped when I saw my new blood pressure numbers.  Can you just imagine how horrifying it would be for my twins to come downstairs one morning to find me stone cold with 8-pound weights still clutched in my stiff, pale fists?  No, clinic first.  Then curls and crunches.  Once I have the BP properly under control, the exercise will help keep it there.

Goodbye, Phil Hughes.  You won a grand total of 4 games with the Yankees this season and you stunk up the field worse than even Ed Whitson and Kenny Rogers did in the 80s.  You were another source, small of course, of stress for me this spring and summer and now they will take away your pinstripes and never give them back to you.  Yes, I even get stressed out about sports.  But then I remember how many times all my favorite teams have won their respective championships and I smile.  A little.  If the New York Giants don’t win a game soon, somebody better get Eli Manning to come to my funeral service to apologize.

And fleas.  My dog has had fleas on and off all summer long.  It’s driving me crazy.  I have tried everything.  We even got an exterminator to come in and spray.  I can’t stand having to put those chemicals between her shoulder blades every month!  It feels like I’m signing a pact with the devil.  He’ll keep the fleas away for a while.  And then he’ll send some horrible form of cancer to first lighten my wallet considerably and then take her away from me forever.  It’ll take a few years, of course.  Just long enough for me to stress about the choice I have made for her.  But when she glues herself to my side every night to fall asleep, I imagine her fleas popping off her skin, directly to mine, which keeps me awake and so I say pass those chemicals this way.  Still, they don’t always work.  And that stresses me out.

It’s the little things.  And the very big things.  The headlines these days.  The video games and the smart phones and the way we are headed to a world of total disconnect, where no one talks in person anymore.  The gadgets which force their way into our lives, only to become obsolete.   Texting instead of discussing in the flesh.  Emails at work instead of meeting at the water cooler.  LOL instead of a gut-wrenching guffaw.  Websites instead of magazines and newspapers.  (((HUGS))) instead of hugs.  Blogs instead of books.  I could go on and on.

Well, I didn’t die writing this.  I guess that’s a good sign.  New blood pressure medication, a job, a home, some power walks, a hug, or 500, from my pop star kid and a win by my favorite football team….  Not too much to ask for, right?  I wonder.