Tuesday, June 26, 2007


"What I do not have is kakakaka, the Kikongo work for hurrying up. But I find I can go a long way without kakakaka. Already I have gone as fas as the pools and the log bridge on the north. And south, to clearings where women wearing babies in slings stoop together with digging sticks and sing songs (not hymns) and grow their manioc. Everyone knows those places. But without kakakaka I discover sights of my own..." -Adah (Barbara Kingsolver, The Poisonwood Bible)

I move so slowly these days. It takes very little exertion to wear me out, mind and body. Even the process of getting all my stuff unpacked and organized (in my head, I keep calling it "assimilation and accomodation" like the psychology nerd that I apparently still am) is moving very slowly. I wonder if I can be like Adah and allow this slowness to come to some good somehow. A member of
my church was talking to me after the service the other day, and he said that maybe all this is happening to me because I just needed to slow down. "You'd been going going going for years," he said, "and maybe God knew you needed a break." Maybe so. Maybe all my "going going going," my kakakaka, was getting in the way of something that God was trying to communicate to me. Maybe I wasn't pausing enough to be still and know that God is God (Psalm 46:10). I guess that while I'm taking this hiatus from the real world, I will discover sights of my own. Maybe I already am. I guess there's plenty of time, because the process of getting healthy again is going to be, well, slow.

"Been a scratch on the surface
Been a clog in the drain
Been melodramatic
Been sleepin' for days
Been one in a million
Been a million to one
This is takin' forever
Always seems to return that
I'm slow..."


Sunday, June 24, 2007

a shore thing

So much time has passed. I’ve been too busy (and then too tired) to blog. Tragic, really.

The beach trip was absolutely fabulous. It was exactly what I needed. Spending time with the old neighborhood crew was so refreshing. The older I get, the more and more I value the connections I have with the people who knew me in childhood. They are my roots. They are where I came from. There was such a huge part of our lives that we shared only with each other, and outsiders just don't, can't, never will understand, no matter how well we try to explain it to them. It seems like there is a part of me that lies dormant most of the time, which only comes to life in the presence of these certain (amazing) people. Because they understand why I'm called Sabie Mokie and Little Buckaroo. They know how Alex bit off part of his tongue. They know what it means to be in the Big Kid Club, to ride in the way back, to play color wolf and "being bored." They know that Ashley wants to be 19 and named Shelly, that Stacy will not part with her Tweety Bird slammer, that jinxing Maggie is not allowed. It seems silly and minor, but it's a powerful bond, and every time we're together, we pick right back up where we left off. It's always tremendously fun to take these trips down memory lane (or, in this case, memory sidewalk.) It was fantastic to have enough time together to get caught up on each other's lives, to really talk, to connect not only to our childhood, but also to each other as the people we are now. I plan on doing a better job at staying in touch with these wonderful friends.

I was sad to leave them, but the wedding weekend was really great as well. The preparation was more work than I had anticipated, but everything looked absolutely beautiful, so it was all worth it. My dress still didn’t really fit well, so I was fairly self conscious about this throughout the evening. I tried to feel pretty anyway, but was largely unsuccessful (pun not intended, but rather enjoyed.) Still, I had a tremendous amount of fun. In fact, it was, by far, the most fun wedding reception I’ve ever been to. Highlights were (1) flat-footing to the fantastic old time music as provided by Martha and company and (2) the send-off, complete with getaway boat and a plethora of sparklers. Katie looked positively stunning, and she and Nathan were clearly giddy the whole time. It was impossible not to see how excited and in love they are. I am incredibly happy for them. And I’m already plotting my trip to Boston. ;)

I returned to Radford Sunday evening. My mom was already at my apartment (my dad had dropped her off there on their way back from the beach) so that she could come to my endocrinologist appointment with me on Monday morning. The appointment was mostly uneventful, but went well. For one thing, I asked about the muscle cramps I’ve been having. I don’t know that I have mentioned these before, but I’ve been having sporadic, Charlie-horse-like cramps in various and seemingly random parts of my body at random times throughout the day. I assumed that since the thyroid, I now know, controls everything in the universe, it was to blame. My doctor confirmed that my low hormone levels (due to my lack of thyroid) were probably the culprit, but assured me that they will go away as my hormones get back to normal. Indeed, I haven’t had as many cramps in the past week or so as I had been having, so things are improving. On a less positive note, it seems that I am still gaining weight despite my efforts not to overeat. My doctor cautioned me that many people who become “normal” (as if I could ever be normal! ha!) after having been hyperthyroid have trouble cutting back simply because they are used to actually needing to overeat because of the too-fast metabolism that comes with having an overactive thyroid. I think I’ve done well with avoiding this pitfall, but I think I’m going to have to do something a little more than “try not to overeat.” Admittedly, I have not done a good job at getting into any sort of exercise routine, mostly because the muscle cramps sort of got in the way. Also, even walking for a very long period of time has become uncomfortable. My lower back hurts a lot; it feels as if I’m constantly, involuntarily, arching my back. I used to be an avid gymnastics fan, and I now understand what commentators mean when they talk about a gymnast “getting used to her new body” after gaining what might seem like a small amount of weight. I feel very uncomfortable, even physically, in my body. I literally don’t know how to even stand up right. (When I typed that just now, I accidentally forgot the space and wrote “upright” instead of “up right.” Way to keep things in perspective. I can’t stand up right, but at least I can, in fact, stand upright. ;))) Hopefully, now that things have calmed down a bit, I’ll be able to really concentrate on working on this weight thing.

I was utterly exhausted (as I am a lot these days) when Mom and I got home from Radford on Monday night. I had almost forgotten that I had been recruited to help with VBS at church this week. This is something I always do, and always enjoy, but, because I knew I’d have to miss the first two days, I didn’t volunteer this year. Even so, I was asked to help lead music on the remaining days, and I had vaguely said I’d do it. I didn’t on Monday, deciding they’d understand that I’m exhausted, but Tuesday, I couldn’t think of a valid excuse, so I went. Of course, once I was there, it was quite fun. Lots of adorable kids. And worshipping God with kids is always a blessing. Sensing their sincerity and innocence gives me hope for the future, and it helps me get in touch with the part of myself that still has faith like a child.

"I tell you the truth, unless you change and become like little children, you will never enter the kingdom of heaven. Therefore, whoever humbles himself like this child is the greatest in the kingdom of heaven.” (Matthew 18:3-4)

And, as fun and catchy as the other songs were, I was especially pleased that a great hymn, Were You There, was also included. Listening to their little voices sings those words, and, it being VBS and all, watching them do the accompanying hand motions, I really got a sense that they understood exactly what the song is about. We just don’t give kids enough credit sometimes. They get things better then we think they do. They are not too young to understand love. They are not too young to be transformed by the grace of our Lord, Jesus Christ. I am thankful that God allowed me a part in the process. Even though I was exhausted, even though I am sick, even though I have fallen short, failed, He chose to use me. What a crazy and compassionate God I serve!

VBS ended Friday night, Alex came home, and the family headed to Radford yesterday (Saturday) morning to move me out of the apartment, which—praise God—we finally found someone to rent. It went pretty smoothly on the whole. I had taken home a bunch of stuff already, so there really wasn’t THAT much to pack up. Still though, it was a lot of work, especially for Dad and Alex. I wasn’t sure if I was going to be happy or sad, and, as it turned out, I was really neither. I was numb, and mostly, I still am. What I did feel was guilt about my family having to spend a day doing all this work just for me. They didn’t deserve to have to do that. But I guess they don’t deserve any of this. They don’t deserve any of what I’ve put them through this year. I have lied to them. I have hidden things from them. I have been too proud to be open with them. I have projected my frustration with myself onto them. I have made them sick with worry. I have hurt them. And here they are, loving me anyway. I truly cannot express my thankfulness. I never will be able to, as long as I live. My family has demonstrated God’s love for me in such a tangible way. As my Heavenly Father does, my earthly mother and father have said, “we’re here,” and they have taken me into their arms, and, quite literally, brought me home.

Sometimes, it causes me to tremble.

Friday, June 8, 2007

jealous of the moon?

I just wanted to write once more before I leave for the beach. We may have internet there, but I'm certain of that, and I'm not sure I'll have time to use it even if we do. I'm all packed and ready to go to the beach, and I'm pretty darn excited. Things have continued to be good. I got my dress back today, and while it still doesn't fit the way I'd really like it to, I can wear it, so it will do. Dallas got great medical news yesterday, and he's now allowed to two exciting things: shower and DRIVE. It's hugely exciting that he's more able to function independently now. I can't even imagine how awful it would be to have to depend on people for transportation (and hair washing), especially when you're an excessively independent person by nature. So this is fantastic news and makes me quite happy. And I got to hang out with him in celebration, which was fun. I need as much Dallas time as I can get while I still live here, which is not for much longer (though how long exactly, I still don't know.) I'll probably start having withdrawal when I get home, but I'll worry about that then instead of now. ;)

On a totally different note, I haven't mentioned in here that I (obsessively, you might say) write down, interpret, and organize my dreams. I've been doing it since I took Personality Theories, one of my favorite psychology classes, freshman year. Dream interpretation has been probably the most instrmental tool for self-awareness that I have experienced, and, to top it off, it's wicked fun. With time, I've gotten pretty good at interpreting my (not necessarily others') dreams, but last night I had a very interesting one that I have not quite figured out. In terms of theme, it is clearly related to the jealousy situation that I mentioned a while back, but the people involved are different. I am having trouble determining whether (a) the people in the dream are stand-ins for the real-life people or (b) the people in the dream are actually the ones involved in my jealousy, and the real-life people I thought were involved are actually the result of some sort of mental displacement. Because, in a way, I would prefer to be jealous of the person I thought I was jealous of, rather than this alternative person, but it makes slightly more sense that I'm jealous of this dreamed person, but had a harder time admitting it, and unconsciously changed it to this other person. It seems plausible, as the related situations are, in a way, parallel. Sort of. Maybe just in my head, but that's where this jealousy (and the dream) is anyway. So yeah... my unconscious is either messing with me or telling me something very enlightening. Now to figure out which one.

Again, on a totally different note (have you noticed I suck at transition sentences?), I have become a bit ADHD with my reading habits. Usually, in the summer, when I finish a book, I immediately have another waiting for me which I immediately start reading, and so on, and the process continues all summer (or in this case, probably longer.) But I messed it all up this time. Before I read The Mother Tongue, I had been on an Augusten Burroughs kick. It was more of an addiction, really, such that I even had a dream (ah... this should have been my transition!) that I met him. I was introduced to his writing in the fall when I had to choose a memoir or autobiography to use for a term paper. I read Running with Scissors and wrote a paper about how I'd treat Augusten as a client, using the existential theory of my beloved Viktor Frankl. I pretty much fell in love with this book and felt that my life would be utterly incomplete if I did not promptly read everything else this genius of a man wrote. So when I started reading this summer (as soon as I was well enough to pay attention to read anything, basically), I read Possible Side Effects and Magical Thinking. Then, and only because I went to the terribly-organized Walden Books at home to get my next helping of Burroughs-ness, and I couldn't find Dry and didn't want to ask for help (because I hate asking for help in stores... and in life), I took a break from Augusten to spend some quality time with Mr. Bill Bryson. I intended for this hiatus to be only one book in length, but then I finished The Mother Tongue and had nothing on hand to read. My mom was with me on the back porch (my favorite reading spot) when this happened, and I said to her that I should've planned further ahead and bought another book to start reading. I was feeling urgent, as if every moment I spent not reading was wasted. It was making me anxious. My mom reminded me that I had a book upstairs that I hadn't read yet, which, strangely enough, I bought at the same time as Running with Scissors, as an alternative memoir, in case the first choice didn't work for the purposes of the paper. I was not excited about reading this book, because in my head, I had planned that Dry would be next on my reading list. I missed Augusten. But I begrudgingly went upstairs to fetch The Glass Castle by Jeanette Walls (whoever that is, I thought) and began reading. I read a few pages, and it was mildly interesting, but I still missed Augusten. Then, when I got back to the apartment the other day, I realized that I bought On the Road by Jack Kerouac ages ago, for cheap, and had also yet to read it. So last night, I picked it up and started reading, hoping to be more satisfied. I like it, and I think Jack and I can be friends, but it just wasn't filling the void. I needed Augusten. So tonight, I went to Barnes and Noble and bought Dry. It was very irresponsible, as I am already reading two books, and possibly a bit pathological, suggesting that I am, in fact, addicted to Augusten Burroughs. My excuse is that the DSM-IV has no diagnosis for author-related dependence, so I'm ok. I haven't started reading yet, but I feel immensely better just knowing that at any moment, Augusten and I can be reunited (and it feels so good.) So yeah... instead of a beach book, I have three.

But really, as much I love Augusten (and if you haven't gotten this, it's a lot), I love my old neighborhood buddies even more, so I'm probably not going to want to take time away from them, even to spend reading Dry. I am increasingly excited about seeing old friends this week...and then not-as-old ones this weekend. It's going to be wonderful. I just can't wait.

Wednesday, June 6, 2007

disaster, relief

Foreshadowing of the disaster: I drove back here to Radford on Sunday afternoon. It had been warm when I left, but it was cold and rainy and gross when I got here. Not having hot flashes anymore these days, I was very cold and decided to change clothes. I really wanted to put on my favorite jeans, which are all faded and about five years old, and have holes in them, but are wonderfully broken in and comfy and somehow have always managed to fit me. So I got them out of my bag, pulled them on, and found, to my horror, that the button was gone. Apparently, the last time I wore them, a couple of days before, the button came off at some point, because they were too small, but I refused to accept this and wore them anyway. It was tragic. I looked around for a sewing kit, which I have never used but am pretty sure I have somewhere, so that I could sew on a button, which I'm not sure I know how to do...but I found nothing of the sort. I was very sad and began to mourn the loss of my favorite jeans.

The disaster: Out of spite, I decided that I wouldn't change clothes after all. Then I remembered something that I had said I must do immediately upon arriving at the apartment: try on my bridesmaid dress. So...I did. I tried just stepping into it from the back as I have done every other time I've tried it on, and it was much tighter, such that I was afraid I couldn't even pull it up over my hips. So I tried not to panic and just put it on over my head instead, causing me, of course, to get makeup all over the inside of it. It was too tight before I even zipped it up. It was almost as if the lining was going to rip to shreds if I even took one normally-sized step. I tried to zip it up, and literally couldn't do it. I thought I was going to break the zipper off if I forced it anymore. Now seemed like a good time to panic. I started crying (because that was obviously going to help, right?) and called my mom, verbalizing this shocking and awful truth: My bridesmaid dress is too small. She was stunned, as was I, though neither of us should have been, but, being a mother and all, she told me what to do: call Jessica's mom and ask if she can hook me up with a good alterations person in Radford who can, perhaps, fix my dress this week. Ok... I can do that, I thought, but meanwhile, I will continue to freak out. I took off the dress and pretty much threw it across the room, put my clothes back on (my favorite jeans would've been especially comforting at this point,) and looked in my phone for the Kincaids' number, which, of course, wasn't there. I recently got a new phone and apparently didn't put their number in it for some very stupid reason. So I called Jessica to ask her for her home number, and she didn't answer. So I looked up Lindsey's (Jessica's sister) number, which, even more absurdly, was not in my phone anymore either. I needed Facebook. But my internet hasn't been working for months at the apartment, and my roomate was in the process of moving to her new single apartment around the corner, and her computer is password-protected. So I ran outside in the rain to go to her new apartment and ask her for the password. (I could've just called her, but I wasn't thinking very clearly at this point.) As soon as I got out to the parking lot, Joe had pulled in. I was expecting him, and he was right on time, but I had been hoping he would be a little late, such that I could perhaps stop freaking out before his arrival. I was glad to see a friendly face, but sorry that he had to enter my already-stressful world at this particularly disastrous moment, though, really, he has witnessed enough Sara freak-outs that I suppose he's used to it by now. So anyway, Ashley gave me her password, and I looked up Jessica and Lindsey, neither of whom had their home number of their profiles, and Lindsey didn't have her cell phone listed either. After some other failed attempts at roundaboutly finding the number, I realized I could call Amanda, who could give me Lindsey's number, and I could then call Lindsey, who could give me her home number. Luckily, this plan worked beautifully, as Lindsey was at home, and simply handed the phone to her mom. I was hoping, of course, that she would tell me something to the effect of "Oh yes, one of my best friends does alterations, so if you tell her I sent you, she'll do it in an hour." I did not get this positive of a response, but she did tell me a place downtown that she had used for alterations, directed me as to how to get there, and suggested that rather than calling, I show up, dress in hand, preferably crying. No problem, I thought. When I called my mom back to update her, she had an additional idea: I was going to the doctor Monday morning to get blood taken, but, since I've gained 15 pounds and am obviously hypothyroid now, maybe I can convince my endocrinologist to give me Syntroid now instead of waiting for my next appointment, which is, appropriately, two days after the wedding. Then, perhaps, I could at least not gain a terribly large amount of weight in addition to the dreadful 15 pounds I've already put on. Good idea, Mom. It being Sunday night and all, it was now time, simply, to wait.

The interim: Admirably, Joe tried with great perseverance to convince me that I needed to just relax because there was nothing I could do, but, of course, I continued, though more moderately, to freak out. I should have known this was going to happen... I should have taken my dress home so I could've figured this out sooner...Why do I have to be fat NOW? Of all the times in my whole life up to this point, now is the MOST inconvenient time for me to be fat....God wants me to be in Katie's wedding, right? So they have to be able to fix my dress, right? Etc. Finally, I went to bed, managed not to have nightmares about the dress attacking me, and got up, ready for my fateful day. I journeyed to the doctor's office, realizing, as I drove, that my heart was beating fast (which it shouldn't do anymore, since I'm now off my heart meds totally, no longer in need of them what with my under-active thyroid). I knew my heart was just doing this because of nervousness, but I feared that when I got there, they'd take my pulse, see that it was too high, and decide that I must not be hypothyroid yet and can therefore certainly not start taking Synthroid. Luckily, though surprisingly, they didn't take my pulse at all...or my blood pressure...or even my weight. It was strange. The nurse taking my blood asked me if I'd gained weight (as if he couldn't tell), and when I said how much, he seemed unconcerned, and told me that I could stand to gain the weight, and that I look better. (I assure that this is not the case.) This seemed a bad sign. I went on to explain to him that my weight is a problem because of this whole dress issue. With gross inaccuracy, he refered to the dress issue as a "minor detail," but did, fortunately, let me go talk to the doctor about the possibility of getting on Synthroid sooner rather than later. This marked my first ever entrance into a doctor's actual office, and it made me quite nervous. However, it went as well as I could have expected, even though I didn't cry, which, sadly, I can rarely do on command. He informed me that my blood results would be back the following day, and that if they confirmed that I need Synthroid (which, presumably, they would), then he could call it in and I could immediately start taking it. Perfect. I felt better already. With my new sense of hope and restored belief that there is, in fact, a God, I went straight to the dress shop, dress in hand, though positive I couldn't cry, as I was, at this point, smiling. As it turns out, this place doesn't do alterations anymore, but they told me a place, also in downtown Radford, who does, and directed me there. I took my dress there, explained my circumstances, and the woman very nicely told me that the seamstress wasn't in today, but would come in first thing tomorrow (Tuesday), and would look at my dress and let me know what could be done. I was more than happy to leave the wretched (once beloved) garment there. My work for the day was done, and things, though still uncertain, were looking up. The rest of the day was spent with little to no (ok...little) freaking out, and provided a much-needed opportunity for reflection with one of my favorite fellow psychology majors, which is always nice. The doctor had told me that physical activity, at this point, has the potential of being beneficial (whereas before, I was basically going to gain a lot of weight regardless of what I tried to do to stop it), and, incidentally, Joe and I took a long and delightful walk at the park. Having just finished my heart medicine, I was amazed at how far I could walk, even sans medication, without getting winded and feeling my heart pounding out of my chest. It was fairly exciting, really, and I kept using it to remind myself, I am getting better. I am getting better. I may be fat, and that may suck a lot, but I am getting better. The words of the great poet, Billy Joel, began to run through my head repeatedly: "Keep things in perspective: this is my true objective."

The relief: Yesterday morning I awoke with anxious anticipation of the two phone calls that I would be receiving (from the doctor and the seamstress.) Though it took a bit longer than I would have liked, I finally got a call from the nurse (Mr. "minor detail" himself) who said, simply "Hi, Sara! The doctor just called in the medicine to your pharmacy!" to which I, very unprofessionally and childishly, responded, "Yay!" I would have hugged him if this conversation had happened in person. I was so excited. I drove straight to CVS, got my medicine, frolicked outside like a child with a bag of candy, and decided that I would just call the dress shop. The seamstress hadn't looked at my dress yet, but did it right then, and I went in to try it on for her. She said she could definitely fix it, and that while I'd have to pay an extra $10 rush fee (truly the epitome of the phrase "a small price to pay"), she could easily have it finished for me on Friday, the day before I leave for the beach. I think I probably skipped down the sidewalk and to my car, at which point I called all involved parties to tell them the good news. I was ecstatic...I don't even know to describe it. All is right with the world. And everything I was worried about before all this happened doesn't matter anymore. Maybe I will look fat in my swimsuit at the beach, maybe I will look fat in all Katie's wedding pictures, but I'm going to the beach to hang out with old friends who I love dearly, and one of my best friends is getting married, and I get to be in her wedding...and my dress fits. :) God is good. Life is beautiful.

The celebration: Dallas had invited me to a show in Pulaski last night, and I had previously been torn about going, because I wanted to see him, but was in such a foul mood about all this that I thought it might be better if I didn't go and irritate him and not have fun anyway. Needless to say, this was no longer an issue, so I went. It was a rocking good time, and a fantastic way to end my already wonderful-beyond-words day. He genuinely shared my joy, despite its miniscule nature in comparison with his current situation. We had some terrific and much-needed discussion at Waffle House (what better place for discussion is there?) which I will probably reflect more on later. But it was great. I have done nothing to deserve a friend like him. He listens to me, understands me, makes me feel good about myself, loves me. He's the best. That is.... after my new favorite doctor and my new favorite seamstress. So, maybe, the third best. ;)

One more thing: I'm wearing my favorite jeans...fastened with a safety pin. :)

Saturday, June 2, 2007

rest, sweet rest

"Come to me, all you who are weary and burdened, and I will give you rest." (Matthew 11:28)

I have been very tired today for some reason. But one of the best things about the progress I've made in terms of my health is that these days, when I'm tired, I get in bed...and I go to sleep. I recognize that this doesn't seem like a big deal, but it's something that I haven't been able to do with any sort of consistency during the last year. I would lie awake for hours, exhausted, but unable to sleep. Then came the vicious cycle of getting angry because I couldn't sleep, and therefore being too angry to sleep. When I told people about my insomnia, they would inevitably ask if my "mind was racing," but in fact, it was my body that was racing, literally unable to rest. Finally, it's slowing down, and when I lie down, I sleep. I have never appreciated sleep this much before. I am weary and burdened, and I'm so thankful for God's gift of real rest, figuratively, of course, but also literally.