Archive for September, 2008

Gloria on: A Time to Take

Monday, September 15th, 2008

When I was 16 years old I knew, beyond a shadow of a doubt, that I was going to become a nurse.  I geared my high school curriculum with this in mind, taking a few college courses before-hand so I could accomplish my goal in a timely way.   I never read much as a kid so had no heroes such as Florence Nightingale and there were no medical people in my family.  Except for a broken arm when I was nine I had no real exposure to the field of medical science until I went away to nursing school.  I just somehow knew I’d “found my niche”.  No doubt It was related to the comfort zone I had found in the imagined role of taking care of every one in my family.

I’ve been a health-care giver for most of the past three and a half decades now, never dreaming I would be on the receiving end, especially as a cancer patient, a full decade before I am even old enough to retire! Alas, most of the “helping professions” have a down side, attracting those of us who would prefer not being an equal.  I’m finally learning that my very “giving” nature is in part responsible for a life out of balance with its subsequent health hazard.  I’m finally discovering this balance and sincerely believe that “give” AND “take” is where it’s at.

As an in-patient, I recently found out that the cleaning ladies normally make the beds here for the patients each day while they are having their various treatments.  In my “good girl” way I was carefully making my bed each day, even hanging the “do not disturb” sign on the outside of my door, trying to save “the help” from having to bother with my room.  When that didn’t work and I realized their job description included a daily routine of floor and bathroom cleaning, as well as bed tidying, I finally accepted the fact and even started to leave my bed unmade, symbolizing to myself that it’s high time I learned to take from someone who wanted to give to me!

Friendships flourish on this basis and while I have dear and wonderful friends, I’m not sure I’ve always been so wonderfully dear to have as a friend.  My tendency to “carry the world” has been an intimacy barrier for me in some ways.  I’m untouchably invincible when I’m giving in excess.  Only when I’m in crisis will I readily take support from others so there has been a lop-sidedness in my relationships that I’m realizing HAS TO GO!  The healthiest relationships are based on equality where lots of giving and taking are going on from both sides.  Even with the language barrier here, I’ve picked up that people want me to communicate my needs better.  If you’re cold, just ask for a blanket!  They can’t read my mind and I’m certainly not bothering anyone when I ask for something I need.

Jesus role-modeled the right balance when he asked for a drink from the woman at the well, or invited Himself to supper with a tax collector or received the gift of perfume annointing Him for His burial.  Even Jesus was dependent on others for a place to lay his head.  The ability to receive is as much a virtue as the ability to give.

Gloria on “Do No Harm” How About “Do What’s Good”

Sunday, September 14th, 2008

Posted in the lobby here at the Hufeland Clinic, (like somewhere on a wall in most medical facilities) is the Hypocratic Oath which all physicians in all countries, apparently, are supposedly committed to. In a nutshell, it is their promise to their patients while they “practice” the art/science of medicine, to first of all, “do no harm”!

The more I read I’m appalled at the harm done in my country, by the seeming neglect to offer what has been shown to be safe and effective medical care. (Not to mention the medical mistakes, which constitute the third leading cause of death in the USA. Do no harm?)

For example, my daughter sent me a forward here the other day on the amazing benefits cancer-ridden laboratory rats are getting from the simple infusion of Vitamin C. This research was begun earlier on but was squelched by a double-blind study proving the lack of benefits of taking oral Vitamin C. Of course, that was comparing apples to oranges, so now we’re back to square one, “crossing our fingers”. as the article said, hoping this will be legalized before too many more cancer patients “kick the bucket”!

Vitamin C infusions are given here at Hufeland on a regular basis, along with other protective vitamins and trace elements because, according to current research findings, these substances protect against free radicals. A doctor who says to a patient, “I don’t think much of that”, is often simply revealing that he/she knows nothing about the subject! Because Vitamin C supports the immune system and your body’s own repair capabilities, it is vital for recovery! In quantity, “Vitamin C is the best broad spectrum antitoxin, antibiotic and anti viral there is”. per Abram Hoffer, M.D.

What “harm” can be done by using a simple substance like vitamin C when it can help. Is there not “harm” done by denying its use?

Gloria’s “Reformation”

Saturday, September 13th, 2008

According to the tourist information center, here in Bad Mergentheim, Germany, the local “Reform Haus” (or healthfood store) sells the town’s best selection of chocolates, known for their “anti-oxidant” properties, of course.  I’m not shopping for myself but for my daughter who is in hopes that I can find a certain special dark German variety wrapped in blue foil and filled with hazel nuts.  Yum!  Getting diagnosed with cancer has been a call for “reform” on many fronts in my life.  Reform takes sacrifice and I, for one, have long since stopped feeding my “sweet tooth”.

“Change” (another word for reform) seems to be the buzz word for both presidential candidates.  “Reform Washington!” is the cry.  We even hear about a change the wife of one of the candidates had to make in overcoming her addiction to prescription pain medicine.  She says her recovery includes continuing to talk to anyone willing to listen, about her battle and commitment to staying drug-free.  I have been encouraged to do that and maybe that’s why I’m feeling the need to contribute to my husband’s blog a few times while I’m making the needed “reform” in my life which also includes getting rid of some long-entrenched thinking patterns and behavior.

While living here in the land of the Protestant “Reformation”, I am realizing that “reforming one’s ways” sometimes means the pendulum has to swing a bit far in the opposite direction before finding that change is here to stay.  So please bear with me during this leg of my journey while I cement my resolve to “reform” by sharing each step of the way, in my endeavor to cooperate with God’s principles of healing.

Stressors and Conversion Reaction - Truth From Gloria

Thursday, September 11th, 2008

Have you ever remembered a dream that was obviously telling you something you could no longer supress from your subconscious mind?  I’ve had more than a few of these since facing and battling cancer.  The subconscious is an amazingly powerful thing.  Last night, I had an experience that was reminiscent of one I’d had in my early 30’s that I did NOT care to repeat!  I woke up to use the bathroom and felt my right knee buckling underneath me.  I simply could not bear weight on that foot without consciously stiffening my leg from the knee up to keep me from falling!  Thankfully, I soon realized that my upper leg had merely fallen “asleep” as it began tingling and coming to life before I returned to bed.

There is a strange phenomenon, called “hysterical conversion reaction”, when the body warns the mind that there is trouble brewing.  A limb may become suddenly useless without any physical cause.  This happened to me prior an inevitable divorce from my past marriage while I was walking down the hall of the hospital where my former husband worked. I was heading for the cafeteria where we had agreed to have lunch and, yet again, discuss our bleak future.  It was so unexplainable that, after nearly falling to the floor, I sought a medical opinion from the nearby office of an orthopedist who was willing to talk to me without an appointment.  He motioned for me to sit down in the chair across from his desk while I told him what had just happened to my leg.  Kind concern crossed his face and seemingly unhurried, he calmly asked me this question, “What’s going on in your life at home?”  At first, I was taken aback, and then burst into tears.  How could he know our well kept family secret?

I’ve been thinking a lot about that mind/body connection while here in the hospital in Germany, where all patients are encouraged to look at the various aspects and contributors to our “symptom” of cancer.  Looking back on my life so riddled with fear and anxiety and left-over habits from childhood patterns, I’m not too surprised when I learn they might have something to do with the big “C” wake-up-call I’m facing.  Standing on our own two feet instead of always adapting to the expectations of others is a must!  Someone named J. Kirshnamurti once stated a very simple truth that “If you begin to understand what you are without trying to change it, then what you are undergoes a transformation”.

Somehow we seem to have been under an illusion that if one follows the rules and works hard to keep everyone happy, everything will come up roses.  Adapting to our circumstances is initially helpful but according to the brain function specialist and author of Mind Waves, Arlene Taylor, PhD., for our own mental and physical well being, prolonged adaptation is NOT!  I for one, refuse to stay stuck in denial of this life threatening adaptation.  Constantly trying to conform to the supposed or real expectations of others, is a formula for failure when it comes to many ailments which include fatigue, lack of concentration, risk of burnout, midlife crisis AND major illness.

Living authentically involves making some conscious choices. I want to always remember that “above all, to thine own self, be true!”

Fear of What? Words from Gloria

Monday, September 8th, 2008

I currently reside as an in-patient on the fourth and very  top floor of a 50-bed “klinik” with a spectacular view overlooking the picturesque medieval town of Bad Mergentheim, Germany.  Several times a day, while stepping into the elevator with fellow patients or staff, I hear or say the German word for “4″ which sounds a lot like our word, “fear”.

I’ve been thinking a lot about different kinds of fear lately, both the warranted but mostly the unwarranted kind, much of which is a category we call “the fear of the unknown”.  Since being on the other end of the thermometer and IV infusion - as a nurse turned cancer patient - I’ve experienced more of this fear-of-the-unknown than I’d ever wanted to know about, these past couple of years!

I remember reading a book, Go Out in Joy , when I was working in a Los Angeles children’s hospital as a nurse on a cancer ward. It gave me amazing perspective on the differences between how adults and children face the uncertainties in life.  These kids were amazing!  They simply accepted whatever reality was thrown their way, often lifting the spirits of the staff who were in anticipatory grief over when their other proverbial “shoe” might drop and it would be “curtains”, as they say, - time to go!

Tomorrow I face something new to me called IPT (Insulin Potentiation Therapy).  This is where, using an insulin IV push, they artificially force the blood sugar down into the 30’s or low 40’s, making the tumor cells “hungry” enough to open up to what’s coming next, a mixture of low-dose chemotherapy and glucose.  Besides having known a person who ended her life with an overdose of insulin, I probably know too much about what could potentially go wrong to view this therapy as a “piece of cake”. (It actually is a piece of cake here, as they do it routinely and have for decades now.)  I’m preparing mentally for the potential transitory nausea and profuse sweating this brings on, knowing my blood sugar levels will be checked very often to make certain they don’t get me too low.  I’m trusting Dr. Demuth (Internal Medicine / Naturopathic) and his great medical team to pull me through this less conventional approach to cancer treatment.

Then why can’t I sleep after laying here for over an hour?! My mind drifts back to another Physician with a less than conventional approach to the healing arts.  He is saying these words to my heart, “Why are you so afraid, Gloria?” and reminding me He also emphasized that we must, “become as little children…” or life can get pretty scarey.  So, I’ve just decided to simply trust Him, turn out the light and drift off into a blissful slumber.  Afterall, if I’d tried this childlike approach more often during my lifetime I just might not be in the predicament that I’m in right now!

More Thoughts from Gloria - Trust

Friday, September 5th, 2008

My program here in Germany, being a holistic approach, includes some psychological counseling.  Each time I’ve had a session here with my counselor, Frau Weidner, she has emphasized in her beautifully German-accented English, that I “need to trust more”.

it was on my early morning walk through the quaint little town here last week on my way to church when I noticed the things my mind was wrestling with and the anxiety I was feeling because of them.  It was while listening to the music of the fountain in the park and passing amidst the beautiful green trees that I was struck with the inharmonious sound of my own thoughts.

I didn’t have any stockings for church and hoped I didn’t offend anyone.  In addition to that I had left my Euros behind so had nothing to put in the offering plate.  “What will people think if I don’t give?”  Then just when I thought I was making good time I became stuck at the train track by a passing train which might make me late.  The pastor had gone to some effort so I would have translation for the services!  My shallow quick breathing alerted me that I was stressed.  The voice was shouting, “Gloria you’re not being a good girl!”

My life has been riddled with these symptoms of anxiety ever since childhood.  I remember as a little girl my mother giving me a paper bag to breath into to alleviate some of these symptoms.

What a lot of wasted energy when there were ducks to watch as I passed over bridges, sunshine to bask in to warm my stocking-less legs, not to mention that I have noticeably more stamina to even TAKE this kind of long walk!  I consciously chose to begin to think of my blessings and put these unfounded worries out of my mind and trust that things would be fine, a real learning curve for me to be sure.

When I got to church (just before the opening prayer) and was introduced to the lady next to me (who was stocking-less, as well), I had already felt relaxed and open to what God had just for me as a guest in His house!  Since I had no offering I’d decided to think of it as a symbol that I was there to receive the gift of His blessings today, more than try to please others with what I had to give.  I would just trust.

Jesus said, “Take my yoke upon you and learn from Me . . . and you shall find rest for your souls.  For my yoke is easy and My burden is light.”

Dancing to the Music

Thursday, September 4th, 2008

After reading my wife’s words in the previous blog, I had to ask myself how much stress there is in my life because I try to please too many people.  The more I thought about it the more I realized how often a thought comes into my mind regarding if someone is happy with me for doing or not doing something.  There are plenty of people out there who are willing and even eager to let you know that they are not happy with you.

Some words of Jesus came to my mind from Luke 7:32.  Speaking of the people who were unhappy with him he likened them to children who complained “We played the flute for you and you did not dance.”  That’s what it is, there are so many flute players out there with their different tunes and each one expects you to dance to their music. Trying to dance to all the conflicting tunes can drive us crazy!

Some words from my favorite writer are about people who “. . . do what’s right because it is right.”  Not because we think it will please anyone but just because it’s right.  Can you imagine your life lived by principles of truth, from the heart, doing every day what is right just because it is right, not worrying about what people think?  That’s true freedom.

Now it may be that doing right might be pleasing to some people but that’s a secondary benefit.  The prime motivation is doing right because you want to be that kind of person.  It may also be true that some people won’t like it when you do right because it’s not always in harmony with the music they expect you to dance to.

The truth is we need to decide to embrace the tune of truth and dance our lives away.