Posts Tagged ‘health’

Humor & Depression

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I was in the airport getting ready to board a plane when I saw the news about Robin Williams’ death. I gasped and clapped my hand to my mouth to muffle my groaning, “No!!!!”

I was so shocked and terribly saddened to see that light go out.

Too many lights go out.

Then I kept watching the TV Screen. Suspected suicide. History of depression.

“But,” people say, “he was so funny…so…happy…how could he be depressed?”

Oh, I know exactly how to be funny and depressed. That is my life.

I smile and laugh and joke because, well, I think I have a knack at being funny, of course. But also? I gotta find some way to cope with this damn depression.

Because blackness, dark, dark, dark gets really old and grows very heavy. So I make light of whatever I can whenever I can.

Pluswhich, I think my depression rather skews my take on the world such that I’m just a little quicker to spot life’s little ironies and hilarities. And caring is sharing, so I say the funny things and get the laugh.

Everybody likes that person.

The dark of “what’s the point of getting up today?” just doesn’t go over as well at the old church potluck.

That time I actually thought, “I just want to go throw myself down the stairs,” doesn’t really come up in polite conversation, no matter how nice people are.

And I promise you, the funny girl thing is not an act. I really am that funny. I’m not pretending when you see me smiling and laughing. That is genuine Jennifer.

I don’t hide the depression so much as I just try with all my might to ignore the hell out of it when I can muster it.

And when I can’t muster it, those are usually the times I am not even around other people because I’m just trying to survive until the next minute.

I don’t claim to speak for Mr. Williams and what he experienced. There’s already too much speculation about everything related to his death.

But when people are puzzled that humor and depression can be so intwined, I can offer my own experience as a “case study.” Damn it.

Is it Inconceivable that I Still Have the Crib?

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Everyday as I move about my house I walk past crib parts. It has been many years since my one and only son (who is now 10) has slept on that mattress. But I haven’t been able to bring myself to give the crib away because I’m still holding onto hope that I might still have another baby.

You may be wondering why I walk past crib parts everyday.

Well, we don’t have a lot of storage in the old farmhouse where we live. So, we use our enclosed back porch to store what used to be in the garage or attic in our last home–including crib parts.

This porch also serves as a major thoroughfare in our home, so I end up walking past the crib parts many times a day.

Most of the time those crib parts fade into the background–the way things often do when you go past them everyday.

But sometimes a June bug will dive-bomb that way and call my attention to the crib parts. Or I might have to retrieve an item from that storage area and I’ll notice the crib parts idling there.

Even when I do notice them, I don’t always feel moved to write about them. But I noticed them today and it punctuated a lot of what has been on my mind lately.

With the Hobby Lobby verdict about contraception coverage becoming such an uproar, the idea of “conception” has been on my mind a lot.

As a differently-fertile American, I want to go on record as stating that I am pro-conception. My challenges in conceiving lead me to confusion–even lament–that contraception is considered “essential.”

I know, I know, family-planning is very personal and I’m not begrudging anyone the option of using contraceptives. All the same, having this issue in the center of public discourse has triggered a lot of feelings for me.

Added to that was the realization a couple weeks ago that it was 11 years ago this month that my son was conceived. I know the exact date of, um, the act that led to the conception because I was tracking everything fertility-related back then. As that “anniversary” came, my mood–my heart–sank.

Then, I was bummed when my “cycle” started last week. I started taking better care of myself and my cycles resumed last fall. So that made me think that maybe I might be able to have another baby.

So, I keep hoping that this will be the month my cycle doesn’t start on account of becoming pregnant!

Each time a new cycle starts it is a mix of good news and bad news.

It is good news that I am having regular cycles because when I wasn’t as healthy I wasn’t having my cycles.

But it is bad news because it means I’m not pregnant. Again.

So when I brushed up against the crib mattress today, I thought about the crib. And I thought about my ambivalence about having more kids.

I have thought many times about giving away the crib. I have slowly given away nearly everything baby-related over these 10 years of my son’s life.

But the crib is the single most expensive item and it was a gift from my mother, so I don’t take lightly the decision to give it away.

Several months ago I was ready—really ready—to find a new home for the crib.

I was sure I was done with babies. I was certain I was content with a family of three.

In fact, I was leaning toward thinking it would be better to not have any more kids.

I remember the first time I felt such certainty—such peace with the size of our family.

I shared this revelations with dear one who also faces fertility-challenges.

“I’ve been there,” she told me.

But I was confused because she still talked like she wanted more.

“No, I really mean it,” I assured her.

“I meant it too…then.”

“Oh, I’m really at peace with this. I’m sure I’m okay with a family of three.”

She tried to explain to me how she had gone from certainty to longing and back again more than once.

I thought to myself, “She can’t really have been certain.”

I’m sorry, dear friend. I’m so sorry I didn’t believe you—that I didn’t listen.

I couldn’t hear you then.

I had to protect my heart because if I really knew then that this longing would keep creeping up on me…well, I didn’t want to hear that. I couldn’t hear that. My heart couldn’t bear the thought of it.

And so, despite my “certainty,” I have held onto the crib. And in my longing I am glad—even when it is a painful reminder of how inconceivable another baby has been.

On Getting Out More

I was taken by surprise by these hibiscus blooms even though they were right outside my front door. I hadn’t noticed them for three days because I had stayed inside. It made me realize I really need to get out more. Click the photo below to hear more of my story:

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When Infertility is Big Business

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I was at the hospital today (just visiting, that is) and by the hospital pharmacy was a sign welcoming IVF (in vitro fertilization) patients and it reminded me of how much the “business” of infertility treatment irks me.

Back in the day when my husband and I first sought treatment for our infertility problems one of the best pieces of advice we got was to decide ahead of time how far we were willing to go with treatment. We took this advice very seriously and tried to look at the situation from all angles.

(Before I go on, I want to acknowledge how very personal these decisions are for couples. In what follows, I am simply describing what we chose and not trying to tell anyone else what they should decide.)

We made two important decisions up front:

  1. We wanted to address my overall health, not just make a baby. My infertility condition is part of a syndrome–meaning there are a variety of symptoms involved. In other words, infertility is not my only problem. Women with this syndrome, called Poly-Cystic Ovarian Syndrome (PCOS), are at greater risk than other women for developing a variety of complications as well. We wanted my treatment to deal with the PCOS on fronts other than the infertility issue.
  2. We did not want to do any treatment that would significantly increase the chance of multiple pregnancy. There is a progression of infertility treatments and the mildest options have very low incidence of multiples. We wanted to stay with the milder treatment options and were willing to accept not getting pregnant at all rather than risk multiples.

We’ve dealt with various doctors over the years with respect to my reproductive health. Most of them totally get our decisions and have respected them and worked with us within the parameters we have set.

But before we had our son there was one particular doctor who ignored our concerns about my overall health and pushed advanced reproductive treatments on us despite our objections. Pictures of babies–even multiples–lined this doctor’s bulletin boards while the expensive treatments lined the doctor’s pockets.

Meanwhile all the emotional ups and downs of treatment had left us weary. We were ready to revise decision #2 to be no treatment that involved shots or scheduled sex. We felt our marriage was on increasingly shaky grounds and we wanted most of all to preserve us.

People I know and love have had children through advanced types of infertility treatment. Babies are a gift, so I’m happy for them.

Still, it left a bad taste in my mouth when that particular doctor did not seem to care about our needs and values in the treatment process. The doctor just wanted to give us our little miracle even if that bundle of joy had to get sent to a broken home.

It was shortly after that appointment that we walked away from any treatment that wasn’t related to our decision #1. Consequently, I credit our decision to address my overall health with my eventual ability to conceive our son.

I know that infertility treatment can work. I also know it comes at great cost–both financially and emotionally. And while, of course, the couples that have successful treatments get the priceless gift of a baby, plenty of other couples go home with empty arms.

But either way, there’s big money in it for the professionals involved.

$o, of cour$e, welcome IVF patient$, we’re $o glad to $ee you.

Life is Too Short to Mess Around About Hearts and Love

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Life is short. It’s just too short…

We had a heart scare this week. When my son and I got home from homeschool co-op on Tuesday, Tink (my husband, aka David Tinker, but I call him Tink) was complaining of chest pains.

And life is too short to mess around about hearts and love. So I drove him directly to the ER to get checked out.

After an overnight stay at the hospital they found no signs of heart attack and no blockages of any kind. The cardiologist suggested stress as the most likely culprit for the chest pain. Stress management then was the order of the day.

And while stress management isn’t the easiest thing to master, it’s way better than dealing with a life-threatening heart condition.

I tried not to be too worried as we were getting Tink checked out. I mean, we both knew that we were erring on the side of caution. But still, when there was enough doubt that the doctor wanted to keep him overnight, it did make me think about how short life is…

I think there was part of me at 18 years old that already knew that life was too short to mess around about hearts and love. And that’s why I didn’t mess around about how I felt about Tink–then a seminarian on the verge of his ordination and about to begin pastoring his first church.

Let me back up a bit and give you a little more context for these hearts and this love…

I was 15 years old, a sophomore in high school, and he was 25, a second-year seminary student when we met.

Our little church in a suburb of Columbus, Ohio was a frequent wayside rest for Lutheran college and seminary students. And part of my family’s ministry was to extend hospitality to students for however long or short a time they were with us.

So, when Tink came to my church as a guest of our college-aged church musician, we did what we always did and invited them both to lunch. And whenever Tink came back to visit my church, we included him in our lunch plans.

It was no big deal really. I mean, this was just our thing. I was comfortable talking with these students because I had been practicing for so long. At points I felt more comfortable talking with them than people my own age.

Tink’s initial visits to my church were related to an assignment for one of his seminary classes. He even interviewed me for the assignment and quoted me in the paper he wrote about it!

Around Christmas of that year we started writing letters to each other. Even though he was in seminary only 20 minutes from my house, we didn’t see each other very often because he ordinarily had field work at another church. The following year Tink went all the way to Miami, Florida for his seminary internship. Our letters throughout this time were our primary means of connection.

Tink came back to Columbus for his final year of seminary classes during the summer that I was 17. I was on the verge of my senior year of high school. He called me to help him move in. By this time I had developed feelings for him, but I knew he was way too old for me and it could never be. So I helped him move into his apartment and tried to play it cool.

I didn’t see him again until November of my senior year. He showed up at my church to preach while our pastor was on vacation. I had no idea I would see him that day, but all my feelings for him rushed in on me.

But then he told me he was leaving again. He was going to Mexico City for a seminary cultural immersion experience and he would be gone for weeks again.

I finally had him back after intermittent contact and there he was leaving me all over again. I just thought it must be for the better because what was I doing having feelings for this seminary student on the verge of entering the ministry?

Then in January, I turned 18.

And later in January, Tink came back to Columbus after his trip to Mexico City and he started coming around more. And instead of letters we started having phone calls. And instead of chaperoned lunches with my family, we went out to dinner just the two of us.

We had always talked easily but then we were talking endlessly. And we had this recurring dialog wondering what life would be like when we couldn’t see each other when I was off at college and he was away at his first church being pastor somewhere.

And it was more and more obvious to me that this was becoming more than “just friends.”

And I knew life was too short to mess around about these hearts and this love between us.

So, one Sunday afternoon–20 years ago this month–I got bold. Tink had come to church and lunch with us and was hanging out at my house with us just talking and talking. The feelings were so obvious and I was so frustrated that he would not broach the subject.

I had to go to work that evening, but I was so tired of dancing around about our feelings that I felt an urgency to tell him how I really felt. So, right before I left for work, I looked him in the eye and I just blurted out the line that will live in infamy:

“Dave, I love you, and I want to marry you!”

And he didn’t say it back. And he started mumbling something in Spanish! I mean, we both knew some Spanish, so we sometimes did that for fun, but this was not a time for that!

I left for work with no clear picture of how he felt about what I had said.

I was so out there. I mean, it’s one thing to be the first one to say, “I love you,” but I went and tacked on that bit about marriage too!

I worked my shift in a daze, just totally shaking my head at myself. But hey, life’s too short, right?

As my shift was ending though, guess who showed up at my work place?

You guessed it! It was my David.

I wasn’t sure whether to be nervous or excited. Was he coming to let me down easy and tell me I had imagined what I thought was between us, or was he coming to admit that he felt it too?

Finally, he said, “I just had to come and see you and make sure that the world is real and make sure that you meant what you said to me!”

And I clocked out of my shift and we went out to the parking lot to talk it over. I reiterated my sentiment and waited for him to respond in kind. But he still hesitated.

“Just say it!” I demanded! I wanted him to tell me that he loved me too! I needed to hear him say it.

He nodded his head.

That was not enough for me.

“Just say it!” I demanded again.

And finally he said it and there was no more messing around about hearts and love from then on. Which is really good, because life is too short.

P.S. It turns out that Tink actually made note of the exact date in his Pastor’s Desk Diary in 1994. He noted it simply as “Jennifer Day.” (See photo below)

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