14 August 2007

Repeat after me: "I am not dying"

[dispatches from the Late Unpleasantness last Thursday night/Friday morning, written while it was going on...]

That wasn't how I'd planned to start my next entry, but the chest pain that woke me at 5:30ish (when I'd gone to bed around 4a.m.) and wouldn't let me go back to sleep or do anything else had other ideas. Have never felt anything like heartburn this severe before, don't like it at all: chest pain is bad! And yes, I know that Occam's razor would suggest that we attribute it to heartburn rather than to heart problem, but when chest tightness & pain/burning can be a symptom also of something Very Bad, and you are awakened in the middle of the night by it and it won't stop, it doesn't make you happy or not alarmed. Hence the need to tell yourself: "I am not dying. I am not dying. I will be okay. I will be okay." And then try to work to make it okay...

Of course there were no Tums or anything else to be had in the house: ran out months ago, but I only ever feel any need for then once every few months, so they're not on my regular agenda or noticed so much by me.

Oh, and by the way, my glasses had been missing since sometime last night, which didn't exactly facilitate the search for possible home heartburn remedies:
  • online (not so useful: most sites = about preventing heartburn, or seeming totally flaky and untrustworthy, or contradicted by other sites)
  • baking soda (which I'd at least heard of before & made sense, but could not find in our kitchen -- at least not w/my glasses off...but I'm not even 100% sure we have some right now)
  • milk (some sites said yes helpful, some said no -- but in any case we didn't hae an normal milk, just soy, but I had a glass anyway, figuring it couldn't hurt)
  • seltzer water (nothing recommended it, but I thought that folks sometime drank seltzer to aid digestion, like a ready-mixed Alka-Seltzer?)
  • ancient tiny pepto-bismol-like pink chewable tablet in the tiny pocket in the depths of my backpack (has probably been there for at least 2 or 3 years, but it by itself = unlikely to be much help)
So since none of this was helping, and I couldn't lie back down and go back to sleep (most sites frown on the prone position for the former & discomfort wouldn't let me do the latter), I set about to find my glasses (without which I would be foolish to leave the house, let alone drive the car!) and set off for the 24-hr CVS pharmacy to get some over-the-counter stuff to deal with the situation.

They say that sleep deprivation makes you as bad a driver as drinking. I'm sure I believe it, but I didn't want to walk alone the 10-15 min each way to the CVS at 6a.m. -- figured I would just be very careful, cautious, and that the light traffic at this hour would help. Made it there and back without incident, though definitely feel woozy and somewhat coordination/response-time impaired. Talked to pharmacist: she asked a few questions (e.g. abt do I have high blood pressure, or do relatives, etc.) recommended going on the hypothesis that it's the less serious/more common thing first (heartburn, notheart problem) and taking some Pepcid and also Tums.

So I have returned safely and done both (took the Tums right then & there at the CVS counter, in fact).

[Friday, 6:51 a.m.]


Definitely not dying (hooray!) -- no more so than usual, anyway

Feeling considerably better -- not perfect, but better. Slept some from 7ish to 8:50ish -- Mike came down, found me on the couch, told me it was 10 to 9, and I thought I'd better call my doctor to see if I could see her. Finally managed to get through to someone useful (after the answering service--I guess the office doesn't open until 9:15?, the receptionist, the nurse's voicemail, etc.) around 9:30, when they said "She's going on vacation next week, so if you want to see her you'd better come in now" -- and I said "I'll be there in 10 minutes." And I was.

Now I get to learn all about acid reflux and why all the things I like to eat or drink may trigger it (grrrr, oh well! really put a crimp in our Shabbat menu, since every other ingredient was something that was a bad idea)...

[Friday, 1:53 p.m.]

13 August 2007

Sunday Morning at the Cathedral: Nice Jewish Girl In Church

I was at the Cathedral this morning -- first time I've been there for a service since I left National Cathedral School at the end of 9th grade (May/June 1988), when my family moved to Kentucky: before that, I was there for Cathedral services every Friday morning from 6th grade to 9th grade! My friend Sara, who's Native American by ethnic heritage (and was in town from PA for the National Powwow, which I came to some of yesterday--really neat!) and Episcopalian by religious upbringing, wanted to go to church this morning -- and I said that the Cathedral has services at 8, 9, 10, and 11 a.m. (we made the last one!) and that I'd love to go with her.

The sermon was wonderful -- given by a young female reverend (Rev. April Berends), whom we talked with briefly afterwards: she invited us both to come to their group for 20-and-30-somethings if interested, though since Sara lives far away & I'm Jewish, we said it was kind of her to extend the invitation but not likely that we'd come.

The service was beautiful, as always, with a very beautiful piece sung by the choir during the offeratory, by contemporary vocal-music composer Lee Hoiby (who was born in 1926, but still seems active now in his 80s!): it reminded me of the Thompson Alleluia (composed during WWII at the time of the Fall of France; I sang it with the choirs at Harvard commencement in '92, and I think it's an incredibly beautiful piece of music)...

Afterwards we got some coffee (yay, refreshments!), walked around, looked at the moon rock in the space window, etc etc. -- even went to the small side chapel to get a special blessing from one of the 2 clergy members who were offering personal blessings and prayers there, which was neat: both were women, probably in the 40-60 age range (one African-American and a little younger-looking; one white, with silver hair).

Sara, who works with ESL students K-12 in her small PA school district, said she usually asks for a blessing as she begins the new school year. I asked for a blessing as my husband begins the new school year, as the synagogue where I work gears up for the High Holy Days, and as I work to complete my dissertation for the Oct. 1 deadline -- as well as for healing and consolation for all our friends and family, of all faiths or none, who are ill or sorrowing or have lost loved ones.

I have now been anointed! ;)

It was pretty interesting:
she'd asked if I wanted to be anointed, and I said, "um, sure!" --
she had a little tub (kinda like one of those lip-gloss or hand-lotion small circular tin containers) of a lightly-scented semi-solid-spreadable substance, and smoothed her finger (thumb, I think) across its surface, then put it to my forehead --

and made the sign of the cross, perhaps by force of habit, although I'd asked for a blessing that was appropriate for us as Jews -- but since I'd just been at the National Powwow, I decided to interpret it in good ecumenical style as indicating the four cardinal directions, a sacred symbol in many cultures...

and began saying "in the name of the Father, and the Son--"

I shook my head.

"oh!" (realizing her mistake) "just the Father, then, just the Father..."


...and she proceeded to hold my bowed head in her hands while creating a very beautiful spontaneous prayer on my behalf.

who loves her synagogue but can appreciate any "house of prayer for all peoples"

Collected Comments...

From hither, thither, and yon (online), stuff I'd said that's not deathless but that I might like to keep track of somewhere (here!):

In response to someone's friend telling him "You must pursue your life in a non-haphazard way":

Hmmm... that's good advice, but often hard to follow!

Non-haphazard pursuit of one's life, however, should be judiciously coupled with a certain amount of flexibility -- of openness to the chance & indeed haphazard occurrences, good and bad, opportunites & obstacles, that the universe throws at us unexpectedly -- in order that we may bend and not break.

we can only grow the way the wind blows
--but if we want to reach toward the sun and stars in our growing, we must keep pushing upward, however oblique the angle.