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Perspective.

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maiden-mother-crone

Today I had the pleasure of seeing a woman that I met in December when she came in for an exam.  She was very quiet, and I couldn’t quite place her accent at our first meeting.  She had a sweet, round face with rounded cheeks, and a very large scar that started at her right eye, and extended toward her lip. I asked her where she was from, and she told me Sierra Leone.  This was in the thick of Ebola terror, and my heart clicked a second before I asked her how long she had been in the country.  She had been here for over 6 months, and wasn’t ill, thankfully.

She was homeless, living in a shelter, and as we talked more our conversation was very easy and kind.  She seemed to be coping relatively well, despite living in shelter, and it being Winter.  Homeless shelters close during the day for cleaning, so it can be very hard on those that live there when the weather is harsh.  We finished the exam, and I gave her some recommendations to alleviate her complaint, and she left.

Today when she came in, she greeted me warmly and wished me a Happy New Year.   It was quite unclear what her presenting issue was, what led her to be seen today in our clinic, but I was happy to see her again, and was eager to see how she was doing.   She had had a GYN issue that wasn’t present at the moment, but also discussed her persistent low back pain, and stated that the medications prescribed by the internist weren’t helpful, and in fact, made her dizzy and dry – mouthed. We discussed alternatives, I showed her some gentle stretches, recommended that she keep up with her frequent walking to keep her active.

She didn’t seem to want to leave yet, and I didn’t have any more patients waiting, so we continued to talk.  She showed me her hands, and her index finger which was bulging and crooked at the distal joint.  She explained that when she was younger, she was cleaning a fish, a red snapper, and the bone sliced her finger wide open.  It didn’t heal well, and the delayed surgical repair of the joint left it partially contracted.

“What happened there?”  I asked, referring to her facial scar.  It hadn’t healed well.  It twisted and curved, at one point as wide as an inch.  I was amazed that whatever caused it didn’t sacrifice her eye.

She fidgeted and looked down as she started to tell me that in 2009 it was an election year in Sierra Leone, and she was a supporter of the opponent running for parliament office.   She was being threatened and chased by the opposing supporters, and was in a terrible car accident.  Her husband died.   I felt my eyes welling up, and looked down at the counter we sat at.  I didn’t want to insult her with my tears, for fear she perceive them as pity.  Or worse, distance us in this moment of recognized strength that somehow, she had survived and made it out of a tormented country in Africa, and was now here in the US.  Homeless, yes…   Widowed, yes.  But alive.  She was going to school to earn her GED, and working with a case worker for employment and housing.

Outside in the hall I heard my nurse call for me, I checked my laptop to see if my clinic schedule revealed a patient waiting, but there was none.  She stood up then, and started to collect her things.  “We’ve been in here long enough.  You need to go.” she said, smiling.   I told her that I was so happy to see her, and that if she needed anything, to come back and see me, or call.

As we left the room, my nurse poked her head out of an adjacent exam room, calling for me again.  I escorted the patient toward the exit and we said our goodbyes, then went into the room.  There I found my nurse and the 3 pediatric nurses smiling and laughing with one on the exam table, who is 20 weeks pregnant.  They wanted me to do an abdominal ultrasound to see her baby.  I cheerfully complied.  There s/he was, wriggling and rolling, spine erect, heart fluttering away, fingers curled as it held the requisite fetal boxing stance.  The gals cooed and aww’d as they tried to see if just maybe one could decipher the gender.  The energy was giddy and warm, this was her first baby and we were all mothers, excited for her to be starting her journey into motherhood.

I was then struck with thunderclap awareness of the perpetuity of the life cycle; the world continues to spin, and lives wind and unravel.  From childhood I have tried intensely to wrap my brain and heart around why some are born into such harsh conditions whereas some are born with gilded cloth.  The only thing I’ve found as solace is to do my best to be of service to all who need what I can offer, to extend love, support and kindness to those I meet, and to live, to the best of my ability, in ardent recognition that moment to moment, we are gifted each breath.  We are social creatures, and we need support and interaction to thrive, and the energy given amazingly reciprocates.  To share space and commune with other women enlivens us and provides deep strength, and I am deeply thankful for the opportunity to do so.

In love and light-

Joy

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Back on my mat…finally.

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As I round the corner into the 2nd trimester, I am starting to get back into my body, (or is it move outward?) as nausea and fatigue is lessening.  I remember with my first pregnancy I was markedly more tired in the 1st trimester and then waking up very near the onset of week 13 feeling as though I could jump over buildings in one bounding leap.  This was a relief- I was teaching a lot of belly dance classes, performing, and working 5 days a week, which was unheard of in my nursing career – 3 twelve hour shifts were de rigeuer as a RN, and I had been fortunate enough to work 4 ten hour days o

so I was thrilled to regain some energy and normalcy in the busy life.

Now I work only 2-3 days per week, I recently stopped teaching any yoga or dance classes, and yet I still have been feeling pretty run down, nauseous, etc. Of course now I am chasing a VERY 2 year old around, so who’s to say the load is lighter. I hit 13 weeks tomorrow and I have high expectations 🙂

The other week I took a level 2/3 heated vinyasa class from a teacher I know, and it was tough not getting frustrated with how run down, inflexible and weak I felt in the practice. I know better than to push myself beyond what my body asks of me, and I slowed the pace considerably during the class, and sat back in child’s pose as needed. My inversion was leg-up-the-wall/vipariti karani with a block, and it was fabulous. Of course I still felt the need to divulge to the instructor how good it felt to move after having not practiced in a few weeks due to morning sickness (…read: so I’m not just fat and lazy/weak, but pregnant and have been feasting on starchy things that are burly enough to sail the angry seas of my stomach), but even that admission, and her kindly appropriate response wasn’t enough to soothe my ego. Ah- ’tis the practice isn’t it? Still I left the studio feeling better than when I entered and that is a gift.

This morning, I gifted myself a lovely Yoga-Glo practice with the wonderful Elena Brower that was so needed and delicious. Online yoga class subscriptions can be a great way to practice with a little one when you can’t rationalize or afford the $20 class plus the $30 for the babysitter, and compared to following your own sequence can offer still the wisdom of a teacher who isn’t getting distracted by a toddler or dog, UPS man, what have you.

The practice was a great length, only 30 minutes, and I enjoyed the special messages shared by Elena for the momma’s yet the still moderately strong practice that got my blood moving, breath engaged and joints in motion. And of course, there’s the added practice of attention and patience when you are holding Virabradrasana II with your right buttock lightly placed onto a toddlers head. And had the sweet pleasures of kisses on Ari’s keppi while in downward facing dog/ Adho mukha svasana, and back rubs and hugs to him as he stacked blocks on my mat while I released forward toward him in upavistha konasana/seated wide leg forward bend. Even my 90 pound German Shepard, Meka, got involved when she heard me starting to get a little emotional/tearful in pigeon prep/ eka pada rajakapontanasana (ok- I was flat out crying, and I needed that. The hips had been stuck and to be honest, so have I – but damn it feels good to move). Pretty funny when you’re trying to practice while a toddler and a dog lay claim to your mat. But hey- it’s all in the family. And there’s a little member growing inside me right now that needs her/his time on the mat too. Here’s to getting back on it.

ari and joy and sunny matAnd in me.

Namaste and all love.