Monday, October 12, 2009

End-of-the-Holidays: A Look Ahead

So what might the new year bring? "What changes can I effect to improve myself and the world I live in?" That's one of the key questions of the Fall Holiday liturgy.

In early September, I went to see my internist for a long-overdue general physical (about 3 years overdue). As we reviewed my general health and he began to order some tests and referrals (also long overdue), it dawned on me that I'd spent the last decade focusing on other family members' health and other concerns, and continuously deferred my own. (Except for the gall bladder surgery - and the sleep apnea diagnosis).

My doctor is very direct - and doesn't believe in spreading guilt or mincing words. How he is able to accomplish those two things at the same time, I will never know. But I admire him immensely for his ability to do so and am a grateful recipient of his expertise. He's also an excellent diagnostician, has a superb group of specialists he refers out to, and does a great job of serving as "case manager."

So when he looks me in the eye and says, "You've got some things to pay attention to," I sit up straight and listen.

BP - very high; LDL cholesterol is high; HDL is too low; blood sugar numbers are in the "glucose intolerance" range. He also gives me a referral to a gastroenterologist for a colonoscopy, and to a radiologist for a mammogram (long overdue, especially with my history). He prescribes a BP med, vitamin D, recommends the Mediterranean Diet, exercising, and we schedule several follow-up visits in order to monitor progress.

My dentist tells me I need dental work done.

My ophthalmologist has me scheduled for my second cataract surgery and toric implant surgery on October 14th.

I leave their offices feeling vulnerable. A little angry. Guilty for letting things get to this point.

I cling to two thoughts: my dad's favorite saying: You can't control the cards you're dealt, you can only control how you play 'em. And my internist's final comment: Change what you can - diet, exercise - but realize that part of your health and these numbers are determined by genetics. You can't control genetics.

Both are helpful - they have become my mantra.

So, changes I can make:

  • We've joined a CSA (Consumer Supported Agriculture group) for the fall season and will get a share of fresh vegetables each Monday to use in building our meals around.
  • I picked up a couple of cook books and have scanned the internet for recipes that are both kosher and fit the Mediterranean Diet.
  • I've begun to do a little walking - got thrown off base by Yom Kippur but will get back to it.
  • I'm using my CPAP machine for my sleep apnea a little more consistently - my goal is to use it 5 nights out of 7.
  • I've determined to pick up my knitting needles again.
  • Before I leave a doctor's office, I schedule my next appointment.
  • I had my colonoscopy - even if it was my first child's 28th birthday!
  • I've decided to jetison the "guilt" thing - I was busy with other people's health issues these past 10 years - and that's okay. It's done. Now it's time to take care of my own - and that's also okay.
Other changes the new year offers:

I'm teaching a course (training madrichim) at the very first synagogue I ever attended services at - where I converted with Rabbi Gene Lipman, z'l, and where my husband and I joined. Many warm and wonderful memories - it's interesting to be "on staff" there. So far, I'm loving it!

I'm also doing a series of madrichim workshops at a synagogue where I had taught for 8 years and directed for 2 years. Our "classroom" is the library, where we used to have senior staff meetings. I was surprised that there were parents who still remembered me - I left there almost eight years ago - a lifetime in a supplemental school setting!

[Note: my husband's taken to calling this year "The year that Mary revisits her roots"!]

I'm part of a planning committee that's working on our regional training in November. We're drastically changing the way we'll do things. More about that later, as things evolve.

I'm leading two Torah study sessions in the next two months: Shabbat Noach at Tikvat Israel and Shabbat Vayeshev at Oseh Shalom.

Next weekend, we celebrate the 70th birthday of a dear friend - someone who's been a mentor and helped sustain me through many of the challenges the last decade presented. Without her loving and caring, it would have been much more difficult than it was.

"To everything there is a season, and a time to every purpose under heaven" (Eccl 3:1)

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