Random Thoughts of a Disordered Mind

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Tensions are high in America

Tensions are high in America on this July 4th. The country is polarized politically, economically, racially, socially, and every -ly in the book, and social media and 24/7 news cycles on cable news just escalate words into sound bites that warp and explode as they move through society.

I live in East Texas, a very conservative Republican place that believes in God, guns, white nationalism, President Trump, and that Coronavirus is a hoax blown out of proportion by liberal Democrats and lying media. Although our governor has issued an executive order to wear masks, my neighbors are vowing not do so.

And so I’m hiding at home. I feel like a fish out of water here in this cherry pie red place, or rather, a tiny blueberry in the middle of the endless sea of red. I feel impotent to speak here, to defend myself and beliefs that differ from that of the majority. No one would listen anyway once they know I’m a Democrat. Wait, they would listen and then attack me and talk about me and my stupidity while they polish their guns, eat BBQ, and plan for Trump’s re-election.

I’m afraid for my country. I’m afraid of my neighbors. I’m afraid of getting the virus and giving it to someone else – not of my own risk, which is actually higher because of my age, weight, and recent sinus surgery. I’m afraid the country will tear itself apart. We survived a Civil War but it didn’t solve anything. What will happen this time?

My ancestors fought for the Confederacy – and for the Union. I’ve lived in Virginia, with Confederate statues everywhere. I never really understood why we had statues to people who LOST the war. Germany doesn’t have monuments to Nazis; why should we have them for those who rebelled and lost? Why name schools and military bases and streets for them? I can be proud of my family and my history and NOT proud of what they fought for. I don’t understand why so many are holding on so hard.

But I sit silent because I’m a weenie. I know what I believe but I’m afraid of being overwhelmed and rejected. So I watch “Hamilton” on my own, keeping silent, keeping watch.

I am afraid of what’s coming.

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Nooming along

As of this morning, I am three pounds away from reaching my next goal of 50 lbs gone. Which means, if you’re keeping track, that I’ve lost 47 pounds since January 1st. I had a little hiccup and gain of 3 lbs which in the scheme of things isn’t that much, but it’s taken me another 3 weeks to get rid of them. I want to hit my goal of 50 lbs by July 24th, which is my birthday.

I’m still following Noom but admit I’m not exactly doing it the way I did when I started. I still weigh every morning which is actually a good thing; I don’t get freaked out by what’s there, just log it as information. And I still take measurements on the first of the month (for the record, I’m down 20.5 inches overall). And I log my food. But I don’t always read the articles which are still interesting but take more time than the ones at the beginning.

And I really try to get my steps in. That was very hard when everything was locked down for covid and the gym was closed as well. It has reopened but I haven’t tried it yet because I sprained my knee and have an insanely painful lower back right now. Just walking is as much as I can do. But this week I did actually get 8K steps one day and almost that much the next day, from walking around large stores like Sam’s. Up and down the aisles, moving fast because I don’t really want or need to buy anything in most of them. My Sam’s trips are limited to when I have prescriptions to pick up; then I get extra stuff as long as I’m there, things like berries, apples, broccoli (always broccoli) and maybe English muffins or meat.

I’m also not really doing much with my Noom group because it’s annoying to see so many posts from other group members who ride horses, do aerobics, and other energetic things that I don’t do. I have a LOT to lose, really more than anyone that I know of in my group. Mostly it’s because I’m in 2 unofficial Facebook groups for Noomers, one of them for people with 100+ pounds to lose. We have different issues and time frames, and I’m finding that one to be the one where I get the most support and can contribute.

Maybe I’m just feeling like a normal person. Normal people don’t eat a whole pizza for dinner after snacking all afternoon and noshing on donuts in the morning. And I’m not doing that anymore. I’ve learned to divide my calories really into 3 big groups + a snack, and then I’m ready to stop. I’ve learned how to tell when I’m hungry and when I’m bored. I’m drinking tons of water and am down to 1 soda/day and no coffee. I’m really hyper aware of not referring to things as “treats” or “cheating” because there is no such thing in Noom. Chocolate, while delicious, isn’t a treat now, it’s an occasional food that I fit into my plan. I’d really rather have a French Dip sandwich and enjoy it for lunch and then eat vegetables for dinner.

What I am is balanced. Part of why that’s happening is that these last pounds have come off so slowly, giving me time for my brain to catch up with my body. When I lost fast in the past, that was very hard to do because I thought I was the same person. Well, I was. But I’m not now. I’m more aware and prepared. I haven’t faced big challenges like parties but I’m confident that I can deal with them when they arise. Go Noom! Go me.

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How hard is it to renew a prescription?

I’ve been taking Mirapex for restless leg syndrome for 16 years. I take it 2 hours before bedtime and my legs don’t thrash around, letting me get to sleep.

My prescription was down to one week’s worth of pills when I called in a refill to the pharmacy. Apparently I was out and they offered to contact the doctor for me. Sure, why not? Easy peasy.

When I got the text telling me my prescription was ready for pick up, I expected to actually pick it up. (I know, radical, right?) Instead, they told me that my sleep doctor had denied the refill, saying I need to have an appointment with him before he would renew it. Grrrrrr.

I actually have an appointment on the book with him for July 29th. Up until this year, I’ve had my once-a-year visit in May to confirm that I’m actually using my CPAP machine (yes, every night). I did that last year. But when I went on Medicare in July, they required me to go back and do the same thing again on their dime. So my annual appointment moved from May to July.

But the doctor won’t give me meds until I see him. And I can’t do that for six weeks. So I contacted my primary care doctor through the patient portal, explained what happened, and asked if she could call in a 45 day supply with no refills to tide me over until I can see the sleep doctor. Sure.

Except when I went to pick up the meds, they gave me 3 months’ worth of something else that I also take but didn’t actually need. No idea why I got something I didn’t ask for. So I went back to the portal and asked AGAIN for the right thing and the name of the pharmacy.

The response was that they would call in Flonase – which is the wrong med that I already got. No no no, I need Pramipexole (generic). The text yesterday telling me that my RX was ready brought another wrinkle: the prescription was called in to another branch of the pharmacy 10 miles away, not the one I asked for. And they were already closed for the day.

Today I went to the other town to pick up the med, which was the right thing, but only got 30 days worth and not the 45 days I requested. So I will still end up with 10-12 days without any medication at all for the first time in 16 years.

I am not a happy camper. I’m not angry, but I’m not happy. Mostly I’m tired. I’m really tired because severe back pain is making it hard to sleep anyway. I have 30 days to figure out what to do. Margaritas might do the trick.

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Work church & Worship church

I was raised in the Presbyterian Church but made the choice in college to be confirmed in the Episcopal Church. I was an active Episcopalian for 40 years, singing in choirs, serving on vestries and altar guilds, making hospital visits, studying in the Education for Ministry program, tending the parish library. I was a member of a search committee to find a cathedral dean in Maine where I also chaired the Stewardship Committee. In short, I did more than just sit in the pew.

That changed when I moved to Texas in 2015 to live with my father. He was a life-long Presbyterian but was no longer happy with his church in Tyler or the time required to get in and out of town for church and events. After my mom died in 2014, he was ready for a change but didn’t make one until I got here. I never had a chance to try another church and was in fact invited to my first choir rehearsal at my current church even before the moving van arrived.

This current church is very different from my experience in the Episcopal Church. Although independent and non-denominational, it’s very heavily Baptist in almost every way. Southern Baptist services are much less formal than the liturgical, structured services I was used to for so many years in the Episcopal Church, and I’ve learned many hymns I’ve never heard before, with lots of singing about the blood of Jesus. Episcopalians sing a zillion verses of every hymn and blood isn’t usually included. Sermons now are more teaching and less scholarly and theological. Don’t get me wrong, I’ve enjoyed being here. The people are friendly, the choir is tight-knit with a wonderful director, and I haven’t heard any heretical teachings.

But it’s not home. Added to that, my worship church is also my work church, and I’m at the building six days a week at 8:00 a.m. – or I was until Covid-19 came and everything closed down. In practical ways, though, I’ve used that time to think and pray about what I want and need, and watched live-streamed services from Episcopal churches in Tyler and Boston. The familiar liturgy of Morning Prayer and Holy Eucharist Rite II just settle my soul. I’ve been happier doing this from my living room than going to current worship church, which told me a lot.

So I’ve made the decision to separate Work Church and Worship Church. I need liturgical worship and I need to be able to worship without also being asked work questions or worrying that I hadn’t done something I was supposed to do with logistics. My pastor, who is also my boss, was very gracious and told me he was proud of me for knowing what I needed and taking steps to get it.

Finding a new church while they’re all returning to a new normal in a pandemic is a little weird. But I’m pretty sure I know which church will draw me and have worshiped there before now. It’s very contemporary in architecture, with words projected on walls instead of using prayerbooks and hymnals. And there isn’t a choir or even an organ, although there is definitely music. The liturgy is the same, though. And the people are friendly with a multi-ethnic and multi-generational congregation. I’m also impressed with how new Worship Church has managed plans and communications during Covid-shutdown time, which is when I really began looking there.

Baptist and Episcopal churches put their money in different places. Baptist churches, and my Work Church, strongly support evangelical missionaries around the world. Episcopal churches, at least the ones I’ve been associated with, focused more on social justice assistance and issues. Right now, especially, this feels where I am called to be.

I may not stay at new Worship Church forever, but making this change is something I need to do. Maybe when I leave the job at Work Church I will come back for worship. For now, I will have two churches for two purposes. God is present in both.


Holding fast to my convictions

The President announced last week that churches are essential services and must be allowed to open. What he doesn’t understand, what so many people do not get, is that the church is not the building. It’s NEVER been the building, no matter how beautiful it is and how much people like worshipping there. This pretty much sums it up for me:

Image may contain: outdoor, text that says 'Churches are essential... we already knew that. When the faithful are scattered in every age due to persecution, disaster, plague, we persist worship and service, in sacrament and sacrifice- feeding the hungry, clothing the naked, welcoming the stranger, being good news for the poor, working to free the captives and oppressed. Our highest and holy calling is to be the church, not go to church. CJS'

I work in a church that has not held in-person services since March 15th, but resumed yesterday with Golf Cart Church outside. Everyone was so excited to be back but I couldn’t make myself go. I knew almost no one would wear a mask which isn’t so scary to me outside – except they were singing. I cannot make myself do that; it’s too risky.

I’ve been singing in church choirs since I was 6 years old. It’s how I worship, it’s my community, it’s my home. But singing projects the virus far greater distances than even coughing does – as it also projects flu and colds. The coronavirus is highly contagious and there is no vaccine and won’t be for some time, no matter what the President claims. Science isn’t politics. Until there is a vaccine, it’s not safe to sing in groups; adding in close proximity and indoor spaces of being inside a church multiplies the risk. Not everyone will agree with me and that is their right. For me, this isn’t negotiable. Neither is wearing a mask out in public.

The country is opening back up after many weeks of shut down and almost 100,000 deaths, which are continuing to climb. But things couldn’t stay closed forever. Too many people are out of work, too many businesses are in financial distress or facing permanent closure. My neighbors are busy shopping, getting their hair and nails done, going out to eat, gathering for dinner parties. I rarely see any of them in a mask even though they are strongly recommended.

I’m wary. I’m not afraid of getting the virus, or even dying from it if it comes to that. I just don’t want to give it to someone else. Wearing a mask is a small thing to do – and it pisses me off that so few people do it. I’ve done a little shopping (okay, two stores other than grocery) but have no interest in eating out, dawdling in stores, or even getting my hair or nails done. They need it mind you, and my hair is ready, but I’m not.

So I’m feeling distant from my neighbors and friends. Well, there was a lot of that already because of politics. They are being true to who they are and the steps they think are the right ones for them to take, but those steps are not ones that feel right to me for myself. I think my Covid Isolation will continue a while longer and once it starts to get really hot (which is overdue), I know I won’t want to go out no matter what.

I do miss the gym, though, which is such an odd thing for me. It reopened this week but I’m giving it a little more time before I try to figure out a good time to go when minimal people will be there. Even without the gym and without getting maximum steps, I’ve continued to lose weight on Noom during lockdown. As of this morning, I’m down 45 lbs from my start in January. It feels good and I was actually insulted last week going to the doctor when they didn’t want me to get on the scale first.