Denise Dances: A Return to Perfect Health - Body, Mind & Spirit!

Wednesday, July 2, 2008

Love and Acceptance

In my last blog, I digressed a bit. I think the point of my last blog was, simply put, "FRIENDSHIP." It's better than drugs, legal (prescription) or illegal (never tried), in my book. So I think it is because I'm not mentally ill, Major Depression, really, that most of the drugs didn't work for me (although I feel pretty good, while still being me, on Zoloft). And most of the doctors that I saw didn't listen to me. I don't know if it is because they didn't understand, didn't care, or because Medicare doesn't pay the doctors and hospitals enough to cover the costs, I just learned from the L&M Hospital newsletter. Which makes sense and I believe now that it is the reason I didn't get the medical help I needed right away. Until the tender age of 44. Had a lot of jobs, quit my job of four years at a grocery store, bagging groceries for a living! Fortunately, I qualified for Social Security, which helped supplement my income a great deal and I was able to work part time, pay my bills, and go out with friends. Forced to take a job again in the fall, as a classroom assistant, the pressure of the school alone was hard on me. Three weeks into the job, I couldn't make it through the day. I felt dizzy and had to walk out of science class, ended up in the nurse's office. Cafeteria pizza, young teacher talk about dating, and the science teacher seemed overly preoccupied with discussing food and nutrition. Which I had an overwhelming hunger, fatigue, and obsession with food at that time. The nurse called my sister's cell phone and said, "I think she should BE SEEN." Ended up in the ER of a small treatment center not far from home. Waited about two hours, it was very crowded that day but it was worth it. It was the best thing that ever happened to me, except for meeting my friend, Paula. Someone finally cared enough to listen, pay attention to my concerns, and address them: take the time to run enough tests in order to FINALLY after all my life, find out what I believe has been "wrong" with me since Day One: the Diabetes Gene, the cause of my hunger, my fatigue, insomnia throughout my life, difficulty concentrating (in real life situations, not school), moodiness and irritability and the Great Depression. Through blood tests for about a dozen things including Lyme Disease, etc., an EKG, and lots of questions and lots of LISTENING and concern, the riddle was solved. He referred me to a wonderful doctor who actually diagnosed the diabetes from the bloodwork results and sent me to Joslin. All it took was "a little love and understanding," the assistance of a great physician. He didn't know or care whether I was a teacher or a grocery bagger, or in fact, had been both!! All he cared about was giving his patient the best healthcare possible, setting the standard for excellence which I only hope I can achieve in my lifetime.

"Heaven Help the Lonely"

Lynne, Constantine, & Denise Share the Limelight!
(Mohegan Sun, Uncasville, CT, July 2008)
Hi! Just got back from a free concert last night at the Mohegan Sun, which happens to be in the town where I grew up, Uncasville, Connecticut. It was nice to drive out of the gridlock of the tiny congested city of New London where I have lived for the past eight years. And to drive along the green tree-lined highway of my origins, once the peaceful countryside but imminently giving way to the "progress" of a casino community. It was so nice to meet a friend of mine, Lynne, from my college days, although we went to different colleges. I met her from a college chum of mine who was her next door neighbor. However, it has been Lynne and I who have kept in touch through all these years, participating in weddings and funerals alike. It is only because we have both been emailing for a while that I knew she liked Constantine Maroulis, a former "American Idol" contestant. It appeared in the entertainment section of last Thursday's paper that said contestant would be at the Mohegan Sun, giving a free concert near the Shops at Mohegan Sun. As I lost my best friend of the past six years just recently, I was so glad to have a friend to go out and meet to do something fun! One of his songs that keeps going through my head all day, this day is "Heaven Help the Lonely." All of his songs were really quite good. What a crooner! And eye contact, which he made with me at one point. Oh, wow! He really is very talented although he did not win the competition. It was so great, standing there, listening and often singing along to his songs, cheering and shouting, with the small crowd of all ages that came to watch. Oh, and dancing, of course! I felt pretty good to be out, but after waiting in line for about half an hour to get Constantine's autograph and to tell him how GOOD he is, and to have our pictures taken with him (!!!!), I began to get anxious, realizing I hadn't eaten anything since 4:00 that afternoon, a Marie Callendar frozen dinner with the required protein, carb, vegs, some fats and bottled water, a lite yogurt "chaser." Very unusual for me to hold up that well without food for that long. It was about 8:00 and we had already done a lot of walking so I knew I needed to get a substantial amount of food within my bod soon. I have lost weight though. I think I have lost fourteen (14!) pounds since last summer!! Seven in just the past three months. And I was growing anxious and impatient in the maze of casino chaos. One year at Joslin Diabetes Center in New London, CT, meeting with a team including a Nurse, Dietician with frequent follow-ups, Nurse, Doctor, and various educators for three classes. I do feel so much better but it has been a year of hard work, trying to get my health back against, to me, incredible odds. In the past year, I lost my best friend and my father landed in a nursing home when his symptoms of M.S. became too much for my mother to care for him at home. Subsequently, this situation caused a lot of stress (dissertion within my own family) in the aftermath of my best friend's death and it was all I could do to tune it all out and take care of my OWN health. The hard work of the past year is finally paying off. But I don't know if I will ever be completely out of the water. After the extremely enjoyable evening, we did find good food and drink. I munched on a philly cheese steak, which seemed rather healthfully prepared. But I had over-extended myself once again. Lynne wanted to do some more walking around the casino, but I felt disoriented, walking around that huge place and wanted to get out. I guess I'll never change. And tired because I am not usually even out "that late." It was only about 9 PM but I was tired and ready to go home. What a long, strange trip it's been. There's always been something "wrong" about me, but not enough to merit much medical attention. I did extremely well in high school and college but the world of work has been an entirely different story. I have had so many problems out there in the work force and to this day, I can't even tell you why. First, they thought it was depression (and it is: Major Depression). But after years of hanging around with me, my friend Paula said there was something physically wrong with me. I sought help through psychiatry and counseling from March 1999 until the present day. Various psychiatric drugs have been tried, but I don't think any of those things improved my life all that much, and indeed, things seemed to get worse for me rather than better. I thought the psychiatry would change my life: I would eventually get a good job, with good pay and benefits, meet someone, have a relationship, and get married. You know, "a normal life." But it hasn't happened yet. And now I wonder if that is just such a bad thing. No one seems to be really that happy, no matter how much money or friends they seem to have. Having a good friend like Paula who spent the past six years of her life with me has changed me for the better as a person. She took care of my soul. She was with me because she wanted to be with me. She loved me and accepted me just the way I was. "Why can't you see that I'm your friend?" she would often say. She got to know me for who I am as a person. Even though I didn't know myself. A nice, quiet girl. Not ambitious. That I should do outdoor seasonal work for a living. I loved being outdoors, I once helped her with her lawn, and she said I would sleep well at night. She always encouraged me to do artwork, painting specifically and it is her wish that I would do that in the winter. She once compared me to the main character, Tempe on the hit TV show, "Bones." "She has a Master's Degree. She never had a relationship, not ever. She has no social skills. But her coworkers respect her because she is very good at what she does." When she would watch the constant misguided "social blunders" of "Bones," she would laugh and say, "That's Denise!" And it is!

Monday, June 30, 2008

Paula

Ocean Beach Boardwalk, Summer 2006
Hi! It is Monday, the last day in June. It has been one year since the abrupt and unexpected passing of my best friend, Paula. I will attempt a small tribute to her here, also with respect to her privacy even though her earthly existence is over. I still feel her out there, feel her warm, loving, all accepting presence and the lightness and joy in her being now.
Sailfest, New London, CT (Summer 2004)
I especially feel her presence at Ocean Beach where we spent about the last five or six summers together and feel able to commune with her there often. She was a widow of eight years, of " a certain age," I won't specify. (She's out there and wouldn't like it.) She told me she was ten years younger than her actual age right from the outset and I never had reason to suspect any differently. Until a few months before her passing. Somebody told me something about themselves which prompted me to do the math in regard to her circumstance. And I came up with a number. (My parents' age! Although her life was very, very different from theirs.)
High Speed Ferry on the Way to Block Island (Summer 2005)
Wearing My Hat!!
That's why her passing was such a shock. She seemed healthy enough for the most part. She was ten different people: sometimes jovial, jocuse, joking....sarcastic, cynical, irritable...angry...depressed, moody.....funny, witty, talkative...loving, warm, gentle, a mother....intelligent, communicative, smart, bright, informed on current events.....and...quiet???? She loved parties, loved to socialize...and yet...she didn't care for most people. She loved the movies, had seen just about every movie there ever was....liked history (ugh) and current events. Sometimes, I felt like she was the prophet of doom!! Fashion, actors and actresses, plays -- she knew everything about everything!

Dancing with Owen at a Shoreline Swing Dance, East Lyme, CT (2006)

But most of all, she took lots of time to spend with me during the last six years of her life. We often argued and fought but we always made up and got back together. Until the last two days of her life. She called me on a Tuesday afternnon and told me she had a heart attack, that she'd been in the hospital. And had I seen my niece, Julia? I had no idea she was having health problems. Only in the end did this strong, sturdy, rather large woman, but shapely, tell me she couldn't make it up her own stairs. Only after her passing did I find out from someone hired by the probate court to clean out her house and her belongings, that there was a hole in her bathroom floor on the second floor and a hole in her roof, courtesy of a January storm when a tree fell on it. What I did notice or rather feel, was her "spirit" get old since her next to last birthday, two years ago now. I say, "feel it" because I often feel what others around me are feeling and sense things without knowing why. Very unnerving, tiring. I'm an empath. There was just something. After she turned "a certain age," her spirit seemed to die first. She was no longer on my back about taking her to Ocean Beach (she didn't have a car, refused to take the bus), as in summers past. When a silly mood would come over me in July, she would get mad instead of joining in, said she was "going through something." I asked was it money, and she said, yes! Yes, it's money! But I knew it was more than that. It was just her time. Now she is "out there," enjoying herself, "sightseeing," as it were. And helping me out, with or without my asking (which I do plenty of, these days). She was such a "big" presence in my life that I found life without her very difficult this past year. Within two days of her passing, she called and told me she had a heart attack. We fought. She hung up. She called back but I wouldn't answer. I put my phone on "call blocking" because I knew if I accepted her calls, we would fight, and she would have another heart attack. I couldn't prevent it anyway. I refused to call her on her birthday, June 14, 2007. It was a lousy day, weather wise. Very gray and overcast. That night, I wrote out her birthday card. I unblocked my phone from her calls the next day. But it was too late. She never answered my calls. By the time I got there on Sunday, June 17, 2007, on Father's Day, she didn't answer the door. I saw her maibox, still full of mail! Someone driving by in a pick-up truck saw my agitated state and called the police, when I voiced my concerns. They came, four of them, surrounded her house, tried all doors and windows while I waited. One large man came out the front door with a stern look on his face. I stood and looked him in the eye.

Her cat, Indy once "diagnosed" that I had "something wrong in repro area" (later proved to be fibroids), after sitting on my lap one evening. (See "Chinese Medicine:" the Chinese believe in reincarnation. Paula used to tell me that she had two "near death experiences" in her life when she was "called back" by someone here. After one of these experiences, she found she could communicate with animals by "mental telepathy."

(October 2007)

He paused in consternation, then said, "She passed away." "Huh!'' I gasped. "Oh. Thanks. Well, at least I know." And then, "I have to sit down." And there I sat on her porch stoop, in my bright turquoise and green sundress and black headband. Just then, other police cars came, sirens, a loud firetruck, and the ambulance. Standing beside her house on the hill, I felt the scene to be surreal, as if in a movie. I'm sure she would have loved that, the sheer drama of it. One of her neighbors came by and I said, "I have to go inside. I have to have a soda!" And I dropped onto his couch, crying and saying how bad I felt, how much I hoped I had done for her, etc., etc. Called my mother to have someone come pick me up (my two sisters, Kelley and Kim) so I could visit them on Father's Day.... I hope this tribute was good enough, Paula. Also without revealing too much personal information! Until we meet again,

Denise

(Standing outside of her home in New London, CT, October 2007)