Friday, January 28, 2011

The devil is in the aspiration

Green woman taking photo
This year on New Year's Day an aspiration came to me, a resolve:  
   I want to do what I have to do without resentment. 
I crossed out two words, so it read: 
   I want to do what I need to do without resentment.
I guess there was some important difference to me at the time.  I don't "have to" do anything.  The unspoken idea is that the revised aspiration reads  
   I want to do what I need to do to stay alive without resentment.
As you know if you follow this blog, I had a kidney transplant Oct. 12 of last year.  What I didn't know was how much I would need to do to keep that kidney, piled on top of the things we all need to do to stay alive, like move our lazy asses.  I hoped I would come out of the surgery ready to dance.  Well, I can, in a chair, but basically, that nice, fresh, energetic kidney went into a 68-year-old body debilitated by years of declining energy.  Right now, despite Tylenol, that body is yelling at me for doing on the crosstrainer 16 minutes at 36 watts yesterday.  That isn't much, and turns out to be more than I should have done.

There is a difference, too, between what I need to do to stay alive, and what I believe I ought to do, optimally.  How can I explain it?  When I get up in the morning I am always kind of confused.  Who knows, maybe it's my medications.  I have to weigh myself and record it every morning - this is one way to catch a rejection episode right away - if the kidney is getting confused, you start to retain water, weight jumps up.  The damn scales are unreliable, though.  Weigh yourself twice in a row, you always get two weights.  What I ought to do to do this right is find the other digital scales, I think we have some still in the box, sent to us by Baxter pharm way back in 2006, when I briefly went on dialysis.  Or do I need to do that to make this work?

I know, you wish I would stop right there.  But the next thing I need to do is take my vitals.  Same reason.  Catch a fever, for instance, when it starts.  And the next thing is take my synthroid, which you take before you eat and without taking any other pills.  All this when I haven't yet had my coffee, which would throw my temperature off.

On and on and on it goes, and most of all, take my immunosuppressants 3 times a day on schedule.  This means reviewing periodically whether I need to refill one of those.  The way most transplants fail is that people stop taking these drugs seriously.

There's much more.  But I was going to write about aspiration.  The problem with my New Year's aspiration is that it has involved stifling my natural frustration about spending my days in doctor's offices and working with new habits at home, while I am waking up and want to be doing lots of other things.  Fun things, and the myriad things that have piled up during the last years, when I was too sick to do much of anything. 

What got me going on all this yesterday was a book called Rebel Buddha, by Dzogchen Ponlop, the first dharma (Buddhist wisdom) book I have read all the way through in quite a while (too tired to read anything serious).  Nearing the end, the teacher is encouraging me to seat myself right in the middle of my emotions.  That would include the resentment I thought I could get over.  I was especially not over it Wednesday, where I began with medical stuff at 8:00 a.m., left the house at 9:30 to get a lab draw (which took two sticks, they tell me I'm not drinking enough water, I have to start measuring my water, one more thing); then to over-exercise, then a healthy lunch, which was good, but I wanted White Castle; then the nephrologist; then home at nearly 3:00, dog tired, and stayed tired. 

A whole day of time for nothing but medical.  To top this off, we relaxed that night watching the first episode of Middlemarch on Netflix.  I often like this British stuff, but this foray into people's suppressed feelings and frustrations and unworkable conflicts was the last thing I needed, and the last episode I watch.  However, I was too darn tired to turn it off and actually do something.  Yes, my resentment is real, no matter how much I understand my good luck. (And yes, I will have more energy and feel better in 3-6 more months, and a lot of these things will become habits.)

But right now I am so resistant to some of these simple things, like washing out the elastic stockings at night, that I don't want to do them, I have to.  That's the truth.  So maybe the key is feel whatever you feel, but don't be carried away by it.  Just -
Do what you need to do.
- without too much attention to preferences. And have a White Castle if that's what you really want.


  1. It's a phase you'll get over it because you want to live. It just means you wish your life were easier like it is for all those 'other' people.

    In dealing with PTSD I've had to learn to do all sorts of things to regain any semblance of a life. I still rail against it. I still rail against how much planning and juggling I have to do. I still get annoyed that so much depends on sleep that I cannot guarantee. But in the end the alternatives are worse and so I do what I have to do and try to use my wishes for a different life to motivate me to make the best of this life and not let it turn into a doom spiral.

    Today I'm wondering if I have the energy to go dancing. If I do go I may only last an hour or two before it becomes time to stop. If I go I may sleep badly tonight and I may need to recover for a day or two. If I don't go then I may miss out on the only social event that I've been in any state to hit this week (illness).

    To go at all means it's best if I spend the next 4 hours relaxing and maybe doing meditation and other stuff. This will give me the best chance of having fun and being able to concentrate and relax and socialise. This is my life. I do these things it improves. If I don't do these things I become a hermit and bitter.

    I wish my life were different and I do what I can when I can to make it so. Everything else I try and make as easy as possible for myself so that my energy is spent on things that matter and not wasted in pointless tasks and emotions.

    This week I've been monitoring my bp and hr and weight and hydration levels (body fat scales basically do this) so that I can track illness and recovery. With these I give myself permission to rest and take unpaid leave. With these I decide that what I need is more important than what I feel guilty about - letting a client down - andi can recognise the pointlessness of the guilt and let it go.

    If life is tough making lots of it easier is worth it. Use some good digital scales and take one stressor out of your life. Why struggle where there is a choice? You have enough that it's ok to dop the optionals!

  2. Yep, just do, just be. That's all there is to it.
    Im glad youre doing okay these days..