Archive | April 2013

Spilt milk

There is an idiom that says not to cry over spilt milk.  There is no use crying over a past loss or something that cannot be undone or changed.  This saying came to mind when my car broke down the other week.  I had to be towed and after why store cord bloodtaking a look under the hood the car was not worth fixing and had to be salvaged.  As I emptied the contents out of my vehicle I noticed that I had only gone 15 miles on a full tank of gas!  We asked the mechanic if we could siphon out the gas somehow.  It was impossible and we abandoned the car with a full tank.

It was bad enough that now we needed to purchase another vehicle but it really bothered me that I had just filled up the tank the night before the car died.  It hurt.  I was annoyed at what had happened.  I was dwelling on it and realized it was only spilt milk.  I had to mop it up and move on.

The other container of milk that spilled was the fact that my car broke down because it needed a new timing belt.  We had the timing belt replaced 16 months ago by a different garage.  This mechanic showed us the current timing belt that needed replacing…dry rotted and missing “teeth”.  There was no way that this was a belt that was only 16 months old yet we had the receipt from the work showing it had supposedly been done.  We called the previous mechanic but it was already over 12 months and 12,000 miles so it was no longer covered and it was his word against ours that it had indeed been replaced.  We could argue but it didn’t seem like it would get us anywhere and could drag on or we could simply mop up the milk and move on.

Even regarding cancer it would be easy to say, “I should have eaten better or exercised more or ….” and maybe it would have made a difference.  As parents we regret some of things we did or didn’t do in raising our children. There are so many areas of our lives; education decisions, job choices, something that was said or shouldn’t have been said, a purchase we made, an opportunity not acted upon, etc. etc. etc.  Yes, the choices we make in life do have an impact on our life but once made cannot be retracted.  The thing to look at is how we go on from there.  Do you chose to move on or are you living with regret with the “What if’s” and “I should/shouldn’t have” ?  It’s spilt milk.  Mop it up by dealing with the consequences and then move on.

My full tank of gas and a mechanic’s error are really minor in comparison to major things to move on from;  for me they were big at the moment.  Finances are very tight right now and it hurt.  Not only would I need to purchase another car but I would have to fill it up again!  I could have let it really get to me and get me down for a few days but I chose to see it as spilt milk and move on.  One thing I did to turn this into something positive was I purchased Conquer Cancer license plates for my “new” (ha ha 17 years old) replacement vehicle.  I feel like I’m continuing to kick cancer’s butt each time I approach my car and glance at my plates.  I haven’t been able to participate in a walkathon but most of the plate fee and 100% of the minimal annual renewal fee goes to cancer research.

Matthew West has a song called “Hello, my name is.”  The first stanza is “Hello, my name is regret. I’m pretty sure we have met. Every single day of your life I’m the whisper inside that won’t let you forget.”  He goes on to say that listening to those voices and lies causes defeat in our lives and that we can be set free by who we are in Christ adding,  “I am no longer defined by all the wreckage behind.”  Watch it here http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=ZuJWQzjfU3o

Forget the things that happened in the past. Do not keep on thinking about them. I am about to do something new. It is beginning to happen even now.  Don’t you see it coming? I am going to make a way for you to go through the desert. I will make streams of water in the dry and empty land.”  Isaiah 43:18-19 (NIRV) Why live with regret whispering in your ear when we can have hope for something new and different with the Lord?  No more crying over spilt milk!  Mop it up and move on.

Seasonal changes and survival

Seasons.  After what seemed like a long winter we finally got a taste of spring.  A few  days of unseasonably warm days.  Windows were finally opened for a bit. People were outside cleaning up yards.  Motorcycles were taken out for a spin. Everyone seemed happier.  It was a tease for a few days but a welcome one.  Each season brings some kind of change.  Some “seasons” in our life are brief; others seem like they will never end.  Some are welcomed, others dreaded.  How do we handle these changes when they are big and not welcomed?

Rock ptarmigan

ptarmigan

In school this week my students had read about some animals that live in the tundra and taiga where the ground is frozen and it snows a lot. How do they handle the seasonal changes?   The arctic fox and the arctic hare are  brownish grey in summer and white in winter. Their camouflage  helps them to survive.  The ptarmigan, an arctic bird, also changes to pure white in the winter but additionally grows stiff feathers between its toes so it can walk on the frozen ground. They can also fly into snow banks and nestle in the snow to sleep and keep warm.  By doing this they don’t leave tracks for predators to follow either. The wolverine grows thick fur and has flat paws so it can walk on top of the snow.  Other animals like the arctic ground squirrel simply hibernate and sleep the long cold winter away.

Seasonal changes for animals and adaptation.  God has equipped animals with ways to adapt in order to survive.  Amazing!  More amazing is that God has done the same for us humans and we are much more important to Him.  “You, beloved, are worth so much more than a whole flock of sparrows. God knows everything about you, even the number of hairs on your head. So do not fear.” (Matthew 10:30-31 VOICE)

So what are the ways we have been equipped to handle major changes in our lives?  I was thinking how different my life become almost overnight one year ago.  For me it was a cancer diagnosis.  For you it may be a different type of health issue, or a job loss, your marriage, financial woes, or problems with your children.  How do we weather the storm or season we are in?

I believe that our survival mode must include prayer.  Prayer is simply talking to God and hearing His voice.  We need to know what direction to go, what to do, and how to do it.  We need to trust God and follow His lead.  This is our GPS to get us through it.  He has given us the scriptures, His Word, our survival manual.  “Every part of Scripture is God-breathed and useful one way or another—showing us truth, exposing our rebellion, correcting our mistakes, training us to live God’s way. Through the Word we are put together and shaped up for the tasks God has for us.” (2 Timothy 3:16-17 MSG)  If we release our burden to God, we are no longer carrying the weight of it.  “Are you tired? Worn out? Burned out on religion? Come to me. Get away with me and you’ll recover your life. I’ll show you how to take a real rest. Walk with me and work with me—watch how I do it. Learn the unforced rhythms of grace. I won’t lay anything heavy or ill-fitting on you. Keep company with me and you’ll learn to live freely and lightly.” (Matthew 11:28-30 MSG)

We could choose to hibernate from our problems but they would still be there when we “woke up.”  They aren’t going to go away while we sleep or try to ignore them; in fact, they would probably get worse. We will never get to the next season until we go through the one we are currently in.  Some seasons will be better than others.  I find comfort in the fact that if God has equipped animals with ways to survive the seasonal changes and He cares more for me, then I know He has equipped me with what I will need to endure and embrace whatever changes come my way.  “We are often troubled, but not crushed; sometimes in doubt, but never in despair;  there are many enemies, but we are never without a friend; and though badly hurt at times, we are not destroyed.” (2 Corinthians 4:8-9 GNT)  We are not alone.  We will survive!  Spring is in the air!

“I can see clearly now…”

I was nearing the end of my supply of  contacts and went to have my eyes checked.  Imagine my surprise when my doctor was puzzled why my eyesight in one eye had rapidly gone down hill…I  couldn’t even make out the big letters on the chart.  He started asking me if I had had a head injury recently and other  related questions.  I was getting more worried by the minute and so was he.  He proceeded to do some tests and use some different instruments and was able to establish the fact that there was no internal damage to my retina or anything but that one eye was inflamed and scratched and dry causing my vision to blur.  I had conjunctivitis about a month ago and apparently that had never fully cleared up.

Prescription eye drops 4 times a day and artificial tears hourly were to be part of my routine for at least the next week along with check-ups every few days.  When I left his office I closed my good eye and realized I couldn’t see out of my “bad” eye even with my glasses on.  How long had this been going on?  My good eye had been doing such a good job overcompensating for the lack of vision in the affected eye that I had not even realized the vision had deteriorated in one eye so drastically.

The good news is that my vision was back within two days but the eye was still not healed.  Next I was switched to eye drops that were both antibacterial and anti-inflammatory as well. We realized that the other eye was extremely dry as well. Unfortunately although it appears the infection did clear up, the inflammation is  still under my eyelid.  I continue to hydrate my eyes and be treated while we figure this out.  The doctor is a little puzzled and is not sure yet if I will be able to wear contacts anymore.

The more I thought about this it occurred to me that it had been almost a year that I have been having some “problems” with my eyes and that it was almost a year ago that I had my first chemo treatment.  I wear contacts daily and rarely wear my glasses but over the past year my eyes had been bothering me in some way or another.  At times my vision seemed blurry, my eyes were red, they were sensitive or itchy, even excess tears and I would have to leave my contacts out for days or a week at a time until the redness or irritation went away.  I had so many uncomfortable side effects from chemo that I was dealing with that I had paid little attention to a minor one such as the eye irritation or my vision.  It wasn’t until this eye exam that I finally put two and two together and realized that dry eye syndrome was yet another marvelous side effect from cancer treatment.  It is not listed specifically for the drugs I had been given, but I see it listed in general for chemo treatment and see in forums where many patients complain of it.  I was unable to see any information about whether this goes away in time.  If anyone has more information about that, I would be anxious to know.  Dry eye syndrome is also more common in those over the age of 40,  in menopausal women, and in those taking blood pressure medication so it could be a combination in my case.

Your immune resistance is lowered during chemo and you are more prone to infection.  This, in addition  to the dryness in my eyes, Drawing the human eye by echo1180allowed for more irritation as well. When  my hair fell out after the start of chemo, I lost my eyebrows and most of my eyelashes as well, allowing even more bacteria to enter my eyes.   Wearing the same soft porous lenses for a month at a time did not help.  My doctor said switching to daily wear contacts would be better with a lesser chance of infection since they are disposed of after one use.  Another option may be going back to hard lenses as they not only cover a  much smaller portion of the eye, but would not be sitting in solutions overnight and would carry less bacteria since they are not porous.

 

On a humorous note, one of the tests that my doctor does is put drops of Fluorescein in my eyes.  Fluorescein is a yellow dye that stains the cornea where the epithelial (surface) cells have been worn away because of the lack of an adequate protective tear film.  With the use of a “blue” light it will help identify abrasions or scratches present on the surface of the eye.   Somehow the bright yellow dye ends up outlining my eye and appears bright orange once it is on my skin.  After I left there the first time I was unaware of the dye left until I walked into the store to meet my daughter and she wanted to know what was the matter with me.  When I looked in the mirror we both busted out laughing at the orange circle around my eye!

I still don’t know for sure where this will end up but it got me thinking about many things…how we take our vision for granted, how we tend to the more urgent things but allow smaller things to fall by the wayside, and especially how we can easily end up allowing something to be “acceptable” or the norm and take a foothold in our life, learning to live with it, even becoming insensitive to its presence in our life.  The last thing you would want to happen in your spiritual life is to “give the devil a foothold in your life” (Ephesians 4:27), allowing him to stay and putting up with his presence to the point that you are not in tune to the spirit.  We do not want to become complacent or numb but want to remain sensitive to “irritations” in our lives that have no place being there.

“Keep a cool head. Stay alert. The Devil is poised to pounce, and would like nothing better than to catch you napping. Keep your guard up. You’re not the only ones plunged into these hard times. It’s the same with Christians all over the world. So keep a firm grip on the faith. The suffering won’t last forever. It won’t be long before this generous God who has great plans for us in Christ—eternal and glorious plans they are!—will have you put together and on your feet for good. He gets the last word; yes, he does.” (1 Peter 5:8-11 Message)