Unseen Forces In Bed

A strange has been happening each night for the past few weeks.  My bed has been taken over by an unseen force.  No I’m not talking about Beloved’s “bubble zone” that allows him more personal space.

Pit appears that a rather large yet unseen entity takes over the bed around midnight.  It starts by making its presence known in the middle of the bed and it slowly pushes us both out to our respective sides of the bed.  When we go to look, the only thing in the Center of the bed is the four-footed one.  And it can’t be her because she’s curled up in a small little bundle, eyes closed and settled in for her sleep.

Once we shut off the lights again and just start drifting off to sleep this entity is back pushing and clawing at each of us as it demands more space.  Frankly we have been stumped as to what was going on so Beloved set up a camera to record what was happening.  Unfortunately the footage wasn’t ideal for us to see the middle of the bed.

Plan B was for one of us to stay awake and watch from elsewhere in the room.  The one of us who stayed awake was me, in a chair at the window.  I couldn’t sleep anyway with the pain I was experiencing, but it wasn’t enough to take my medications.  I tell you this because I want you to know that I was not under the influence of anything.

You see dear friends the strange thing happening on our bed each night turns out to be a small little dog.  Yes it is in fact our four-footed one.  You’d almost think that at night she magical turns into the size and weight of a small pony while during the day she is a small-sized dog.  When we move or sit up she curls up in the center and pretends to be sleeping.  This dog is able to command most of the space on a king sized bed each night as a way of ensuring she has a good nights rest while we struggle to stay in our own bed!

Final Conditions

A family friend once said that he believed there was nothing a person could not be conditioned to accept. He based his theory on his career in the military, where intense training taught him to react without thinking, to ignore the danger and heed the command of a call as needed. He truly believed that a human could be conditioned to respond or accept anything in life, with enough time and intense training so nothing would come as a surprise or shock to the person.

Of course he never put the theory to test, although I saw glimpses of his theory in his children, or rather how he and his wife raised them. His children learned to sleep alone, in a dark room, at a very young age. Night lights were not an option because the children should be conditioned to not require that type of false comfort. Instead the children should be conditioned to accept and enjoy the darkness, which would encourage a deeper sleep.

When his children were learning to ride their bicycles they were conditioned to expect to fall, scrape their knees, get a little bloody and so on. After all failure is part of the learning journey. I didn’t see much more of the children as they were growing up, mostly because I had gotten on with the business of getting on with my own life.

A few days ago I received a text message from his youngest son, asking if I could meet him and his brother for a chat. They had questions, and given my area of study, they felt I might be able to answer their questions, or at the very least point them to someone who could help them out. He didn’t say what type of questions they had; he didn’t provide anything other than a location, date and time. I guess he assumed that I was conditioned to expect working with knowing only what someone felt I needed to know. (Clearly he didn’t know me too well, but I didn’t make an issue of things because we barely knew each other, what with all the passing years.)

It turns out that the man was dying and he felt ill-prepared for death. He wasn’t sure what was expected of him, what customs or rituals should be performed and what words should be spoken. This then was why the son had asked to meet with me. To sort out these issues and the issues the boys had themselves, such as what were their responsibilities as their father was in the process of dying.

Very few of us will have the luxury to be prepared for death, to meet death on our terms after we’ve tied up all our loose ends and such. Death often comes for us before we are fully ready for it. I told the sons this very thing and asked questions around faith and beliefs. Evidently faith and beliefs around rituals, religion and such were not something that the boys could really speak of. They had no idea what religion their father might have been comfortable with. And the nature of the questions (and the way the questions were being asked) by the boys indicated to me that they had no real concept of what they would like or not like in a way of helping them deal with their father’s death.

When I expressed to their father that I had no means to prepare him for death, I also expressed to him that no matter what he did, it would be the right thing for him given his circumstances and ideals. He seemed to accept that as an answer he could work with. His sons came to their own way of coping with his death process, based on their own ideas and what they know of their father.

Perhaps with enough time, enough detachment to the material and physical world, we can become conditioned for everything. We can be fully prepared and able to accept things as they come. But perhaps in order to be conditioned for death, we must first admit it would require giving up a lot of things we aren’t really ready to give up yet. (And no doubt we’d each be forced to confront our own fears of death, how brief our lives really are, and what it means to actually die. I somehow think most of us would rather not contemplate these things.)

The Big Clean After Muddy Waters

A friend of mine does top to bottom house cleaning, including washing of walls and ceilings, just before  Christmas and again on New Year’s Eve, at the Spring Equinox, the Summer Solstice, the Autumn Equinox, Winter Solstice and the day before her birthday.

I wish I could say I do the same.  When the Spring comes the house gets top to bottom cleaned, again before I shut it up for the coming of Winter.  In between I do less complete cleaning in that I may not wash down the ceilings and walls and the insides of all cupboards and such.  I don’t have the energy for more sessions of that intense cleaning.

Apparently the four-footed one has decided that this is not to her standards.  I’m pretty sure that’s why she smeared thick mud on the walls at her height.  And had the nerve to look at me as if to say “wasn’t me” when I accused her of such acts.  Or maybe, just maybe it explains why when she had her bath she needed to shake  a small much muddy water as possible all over the walls and ceilings.  Keep in mind this muddy water had not yet met soap so basically it was reconstituted mud with the ability to travel great distances with one shake.  Or that’s why she smeared it into the area rug under the table.

At any rate she managed to get the house fully cleaned thanks to her actions.  This part of the we is not thrilled to have to do all that cleaning and clean the dog.  Especially since the dog doesn’t seem to appreciate all the efforts I’ve taken on her behalf.  Just no pleasing some people in our lives it seems.  Or dogs as the case may be.

Rituals and Routines

I’m not sure if the medical community would agree that this is a good bedtime ritual, but it’s what I’ve found works. Actually it’s just my rebellion to the medication I take.  And it serves as a mean to create a soothing transition from hectic day to more sane and gentle pace.  Hence hot chocolate with pills was developed and is now something I partake of regularly.

I will switch up the types of hot chocolate I’m having, and yes come the warmer weather I will make the hot chocolate, well, cold! 😉  It’s a compromise I have come to with lupus and so far it works, a bit.

Not all of my medication are in pill form though so I have rituals as well for my self-administered injections (classical music, comfortable setting and all the trappings with my injections).  For my IV therapy, well you guessed it, another ritual!  This one is the most complicated of all for it requires a soft blanket, a good book, a decent playlist and comfortable clothing.  Oh and a chauffeur of sorts! 😉  I probably could drive, but after therapy I tend to not trust my judgment so I have a friend or loved one drive me.

But my relationship with lupus is, well to be blunt, complicated.  My rituals don’t always work and frankly the rituals lupus likes to use do not always provide with a good indication of what’s to come.  What?   You didn’t think lupus wasn’t going to have ritual or two as well?  Now and then lupus gives me red cheeks, swollen joints and such.  Typically these rituals indicate lupus has gained strength and is flaring more.  Sometimes lupus will mix it up and give me swollen joints, but no flare.  Other times brilliant red cheeks, feeling like I’ve been run over by a truck and yet my blood work comes back that lupus is in a resting stage!

How do you have fun with your chronic illness, lupus or otherwise?

Time For Tea?

For the record, tea does not fix everything.  I know some people will say nothing seems as bad once you’ve had a nice tea.  Some people believe tea has the ability to cure a myriad of illness and mend a broken heart.  I’m not sure where these people get their information from.  Or maybe I’m just using the wrong type of tea.

Please don’t shake your head or make those comforting words.  We all know I’m a coffee drinker at heart so it is utterly possible, most likely probable that I using the wrong tea, or doing the whole tea thing wrong.  I can accept that, it’s a very real truth after all.

What I cannot accept, what I will not accept is not being able to assist Beloved as he goes through a rough patch.  The kind of patch that says you must lose a loved ones to the arms of death.  And there is no promise that this parting will be comfortable either.  But it isn’t our place to say, just to be there as best we can.  Beloved needs to be there for his family member and I need to be there for him.

Friends I’ve made gallons, no correction it should read as oceans, of tea and nothing has gotten better.  No pain has been eased, no smiles have turned up corners of mouths.  No comfort has come from one of the pots I’ve brewed.

As a matter of fact, not that anyone is keeping track, I’ve poured endless cups of tea, most of which has gone untouched, or barely touched.  Not all of the tea I’ve poured has been made by my hands either.  Not that it really matters, except maybe in some small way it does.  To me.  Because it means there is a possibility that it isn’t my inexperience with making tea properly that’s causing the issue rather it’s the emotional state of everyone.

Right now there are four cups of tea, each colouring to different degrees sitting in the room.  Beloved has poured himself these, taken them to go and sit and then decided he didn’t want the tea after all.  Unless it’s that he draws comfort from knowing there is a cup at his elbow.  Ready and waiting should he need it, or want it.

It doesn’t help that I’m on summer cold number three either and feeling more useless than I usually do.  I’m pretty sure there is no level of uselessness beyond what I feel right now.  I want to curl up and sleep like Rip Van Winkle.  I want to wake up to a bright shiny day where I have energy and curiosity.  But that eludes me thanks my worries and my cold.

The last thing I want to hear now is someone saying tea, or tea time or anything of that ilk.  Because I know tea doesn’t fix, heal or mend all things.  It provides a person a ritual which you can get lost in briefly, but you can’t stay there forever.  Eventually you have to come up out of the tea and face the rest of the world.  When you do, if you are fortunate you will face it with friends and loved ones.  If you aren’t as fortunate, you will face it alone.  Know this my friends, no matter what, that cup of tea you brew won’t protect you from anything.  Because it’s just tea, boiled water and dried leaves steeped in ritual and tradition.

Just A Wee Bit Different Or Is That A Smidgen

It isn’t just the accent that reminds me that Beloved and I come from different places.  It isn’t just the way we use different words to describe the same either, although there are moments like boot and bonnet versus trunk and hood that stand out when we are talking vehicles.  Nope it’s the little stuff, those daily rituals really that remind me we come from different places.

Beloved agrees and has planted his flag squarely in the ground of tea.  Which, by the way, North Americans, do no have any business making, at least according to him.  He claims water must be properly boiled.  A teapot must be used and prepared according to some hidden tea rules.  Suntea is, according to him, a lazy North American invention.  He won’t even contemplate iced tea because, well, tea is supposed to be hot.

Toast is another battleground because apparently toast should be placed in toast racks.  It also should be cut into soldiers when one is eating eggs.

In my world, there is whipped cream, heavy cream and all of its delicious.  What there isn’t, frankly because it sounds dreadful, is clotted cream.  Clotted.  Like the word we use for blood clots.  Lovely thought there isn’t it? 😉  I also don’t have creme Fraiche or Devonshire cream.  Well okay I have them, in Beloved’s country, not mine!

Saucers and fine-bone china ware?  Sure I have those.  That’s for the company, you know when you dig out thee good stuff and hope nothing happens to it.  To Beloved it’s a requirement when one has tea.  To use a”beaker” or mug for a spot of tea is not be serious about things.

it’s these little battles, these little lessons that remind me we are different.  But they also remind me that they are the things I love about us!

Physical Places or Something More

There is something soothing, calming about ritual.  There is something healing about going to the same building, listening to then sme words delivered by a passionate and gentle soul.

The ritual starts the night before.  There is the setting out of the “good clothes”, placing the book where it won’t be forgotten.  Shoes nice and clean.  Sometimes the vehicle even gets a lovely shine so it’s just as fancy. 😉

Where are we off to?  Is it church?  After all there are stsined glass windows.  But no friends, itisng an burch.  At least not in the physical sense of the building.  But if wen insider church is a community, not a physical building then perhaps we may be onto something.

Where inform can be found, shared and given where we are going.  A place where you can reflect upon the messages given, or just let it wash over you.  We are going to a university lecture.

Now normally we don’t dress up for lectures, certainly not considering that we give them as much as listen to them.  And we don’t typically get dressed up all fancy like.   But when there is a chance to listen to an eminent scholar do a series of lectures, to the two of isn to a bIt like church.

We are gathering with like-minded people and going through a healing of the mind if you will.  There is comfort in these rituals, a balm for the battered intellect of our soul.  A place where our imperfection is not just accepted but expected for we arent anything other than members of this community.