Tag Archives: Healing

Courage at Twilight: Supraventricular Tachycardia

During gym class, playing volleyball—that’s when it happened. My heart started to flutter and I became weak and light-headed.  Sitting on the sidelines with my fingers pressed to my jugular, I managed to count 300 beats in a minute.  Then it stopped, and I was fine.  I was 17.  My doctor trained me to stop the runaway heart-beat using vagal maneuvers, bearing down while holding my breath.  Normally, lying on my back was all it took to slow the beat.  Fully 40 years later, the vagals would not work, and my friend took me to the emergency room after two hours at 180 bpm.  My cardiologist explained SVT—supraventricular tachycardia—a condition in which the electric circuitry of the heart becomes confused momentarily and takes an unintended and incorrect short cut, sending the heart racing.  He thought low-dose Metoprolol would do the trick, and it did.

The roofing inspector had come to examine the 25-year-old shingles, and Mom watched from the back yard, seated on the rock wall.  She began to feel funny in her eyes and head, stood up, became dizzy, and collapsed.  The mortified inspector helped Mom to a chair.  Her lip had glanced on a rock and was swollen and red.  A brain MRI showed no stroke, no tumor, no inflammation, nothing but a very healthy brain.  But the halter heart monitor revealed repeated episodes of rapid heart rate.  Mom’s doctor, a neighbor, called me to explain the test results, the textbook symptoms, and the treatment.  Knowing all about SVT, I jumped in to inform him of my condition and treatment.  We chuckled in astonishment and excitement at the genetic coincidence.  “Looks we know now where you got it from,” he said, amused.  Chuckling felt appropriate, because Mom’s condition is not a heart defect, just a minor electrical short, and easily treatable, and because after four weeks of tests and consultations and worry, we both felt so relieved to have the answer, and such a positive one.  Mom took her first dose tonight, and is already back on the stationary bicycle, albeit slowly and carefully, her fear ebbing, on her way to renewed strength.

Courage at Twilight: Moving Day

Moving day finally came. I rented a 16-foot Penske truck from Home Depot, with a dolly—I was not going to schlep all those boxes of books one at a time.  My son Brian (31) and daughter Hannah (15) volunteered to help me load the truck.  I had been so focused on packing and cleaning that I neglected to ask for help loading the truck.  Brian brought a friend he met years earlier in Oklahoma during his church missionary service.  His Chinese name sounds like John Wayne, and he invited me to just call him that.  Brian, Hannah, and John Wayne were heroic!  We loaded a thousand boxes (actually 100) and a few pieces of furniture I am keeping.  Most of my furniture and household furnishings I am leaving for Brian and Avery to use, since I will not need them (or have room for them) at Mom’s and Dad’s house.

Many poignant thoughts struck me as I drove the big truck away from Tooele to Sandy.  (1) I am mourning leaving my apartment—my home.  No matter how good the new circumstance, we often grieve the circumstance we leave behind.  (2) Living alone in an apartment after 27 years of marriage was not my choice.  But making that apartment my home was my choice.  And I made it a beautiful, comfortable, safe, peaceful, happy home for myself, and for my children when they came to see me.  (3) I struggle with transitions, that place of belonging neither here nor there, neither now nor then, of belonging to no place and no time.  I am glad this transition is ending.  (4) The last day in one place is as strange as first day in another.  (5) I did it!  I made it!  I lived alone for six years after a traumatic divorce.  And I made it through.  Intact, even!  Stronger!  I emerged from a long, dark tunnel of trauma into the light of life and love, and even created my own light along the way.

Life and Death (A Matter of)

Life and Death (A Matter of)

Life was about to begin for me when on a TWA jet I poked tentatively at the soft walls of the tight round room of my mother’s womb.  And after quick-passing days she deu à luz (gave the light) to me.  Fifty years later life ended.  Books describe divorce as a kind of death, for its permanence and its depth of loss and grief, and perhaps Continue reading

Africatown

Near Mobile, Alabama, sits Africatown, founded by the last group of West African slaves, in 1860, aboard the Clotilda, brought to America.  National Public Radio recently spoke to town residents, historians, and leaders about the town today, its economic, demographic, and environmental challenges, the fight for the town’s survival and identity in spite of 150 years of prejudiced politics, institutions, policies, and people, and the continuing struggles of the founders’ descendants to heal from the scars of enslavement and abuse.  Hearing the story, I ached with the heavy weight of the pains of generations.  I can only hope, and pray, and act for healing, and write.

AFRICATOWN

If you tell me
I will hear
your stories,
your stories of molestation
your stories of starvation
your stories of enslavement.
Tell me of your injustices
tell me of your griefs
tell me of your pinnacles of joy and your chasms of struggle and loss and longing.
For I will sit with them
all
here
and I will press them into my eyes
and I will strap them round my chest
and I will load them upon my back:
I will weep with your weeping.
Then what shall I do?
What shall we do
together
with your stories
all
told
with your pains
all
exposed?
How shall we sit
together
with this history,
how shall we use it and mold something new,
how shall we heal, and mend
now that you have told me,
and I have heard?

Roger is the author of Rabbit Lane: Memoir of a Country Road.  The book tells the true life story of an obscure farm road and its power to transform the human spirit.  The book is available in print and for Kindle at Amazon.  See Rabbit Lane reviewed in Words and Pictures.

My Valley

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What do you call the phenomenon of having your perspectives of close-held values and sacred convictions skewed by the pressured experiences of life, by your suffering, by your pain?  Perhaps, as a friend recently suggested, it might be called the “fog of war.”  As the sun burns away the fog, so light and truth and goodness lift the weighted mists from the mind and from the soul.  Persevere.  Have hope that the fogs and mists of your wilderness will clear, revealing bright, warm, blue skies, and the path ahead.

THE VALLEY

Fog fills my valley
dense and gray

the fog of war

church steeple tip
pokes through into the blue
soft bleatings echo
sharp barking

I walk a cobbled street
wet and slick from this
low valley mist
climbing into me
chilling, and choking

mist of battle
fog of war

and I wonder
if the fog will lift
if the sun
the blaze
will burn off and away

the fog of war, the fog
of war

so I can see
the hot bread bakery
the aromatic café
the barbershop and the haberdasher’s
the park with fountains
and great colored sycamores
so I can see
the white church with its cross-topped steeple
at the end of my cobblestone street
obscured betimes

in battle’s mist
in fog of war

 

Roger is the author of Rabbit Lane: Memoir of a Country Road.  The book tells the true life story of an obscure farm road and its power to transform the human spirit.  The book is available in print and for Kindle at Amazon.  See Rabbit Lane reviewed in Words and Pictures.

Halter Broke

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One meaning of the term “halter broke” indicates the condition of a horse after its mind and spirit have been broken such that when the horse is wearing a halter, the horse will not move from the spot where its halter hangs to the ground, unless led.  As you read my poem Halter Broke, consider the ways in which you may have allowed yourself to be conditioned to the point of paralysis.  Ponder what you can do to free yourself, so that you remember who you really are, so that you realize you are free to become who you choose to become.  Whether it be through religion, spirituality, meditation, learning, prayer, forgiveness, or poetry–come to an understanding of what holds you back from achieving your full potential, both as an individual and as a member of your larger community.  You can do it.

HALTER BROKE

He stands at the scene,
at the very spot,
of his instruction.

Head down.

While the tail lies coiled,
the lead rope’s head lunges
up to its stranglehold.

Eyes down.

He stands in his space
sun-parched, thirst unsated,
though the trough sparkles
nearby under noon.

Shoulders drooped.

This is his place:
he will move
only when invited,
suppressing meanwhile.

Drooped and down.