This year has been a challenge, to say the least. Our pandemic-driven lives have changed immensely, if one still believes in limited contact, social distancing, etc. I do and avoid going out to many places. I make certain I’m masked and wash my hands constantly.
At this time of the year I have often lamented the close of summer and the beginning of another school year. I’m so happy to be retired. I can’t fathom what teachers are going through right now. As if the start of school wasn’t stressful enough, now one has to worry about the virus. I honestly don’t know what I would do if I was expected to go into a school building and teach. I’m immuno-compromised to begin with and this summer has been a tremendous challenge for me to remain healthy. Thankfully I don’t have to make that decision but it doesn’t stop me from thinking and praying for those who do.
So, yeah, my health has been an Achilles heel since May. It took several weeks to determine what was causing me to feel unwell and then several to decide on a method of treatment. Two hospitalizations, two separate blood transfusions, six iron infusions (one more to go), three COVID tests, and my hemoglobin count is finally back in double digits. I’d become severely anemic due to the blood thinner I take for atrial fibrillation. It caused me to bleed somewhere in the gastric area. Despite tests, we never determined where.
In less than ten days I will have a procedure to plug an unused pouch in my heart where blood clots form so that I will be able to discontinue using blood thinners. I know a few people who have been through this Watchman procedure and are doing well. I hope to join their ranks.
A word to the wise. I’ve had a great deal of experience advocating for my elderly family members when they’ve been medical patients. I’m not the best at advocating for myself. However, I have stepped up that game a great deal this summer. It has shown results as it helped to push forward a plan for my wellness and to monitor my blood levels constantly. I don’t go to the doctor unless I sense something is wrong. If I tell a doctor I don’t feel well, it’s because I don’t feel well.
Severe anemia is wide-reaching in its effects. When my counts were at their lowest, it affected my eyesight upon rising from bed, it affected my energy and stamina, it caused shortness of breath, and at times it increased my atrial fibrillation. Oh, and the internal bleeding really lowered my blood pressure. Instead of walking to people’s houses in the neighborhood, I’ve been driving.
If your instincts are like mine, and you know your body, do not hesitate to nag your doctors for results.
What I missed most this summer was being in the water. I’ve loved the water since I was a tiny child. I swim every summer, all summer. This year was an exception. I tried a few times but just couldn’t muster enough energy to enjoy it. I had to be content with memories and I’m thankful to have many that relate to the water.
Enjoy the following excerpt. May it bring you some peace. From Donall Dempsey’s The Language of Water:
You wait by the lake
except for your self
your reflected self
as if the landscape
dreamt you up.
Your thoughts a flock of birds
scattered across the failing light.
run along the ground
on tiny unseen feet.