Forced Relaxation (Patience?)

Sailing is amazing: going out on my boat, pulling up the sails, feeling the wind take over, floating at speeds my engine can’t make me go. The silence of the motion, the peace of the journey, the ability to get away from the chaos of the world all are reasons I love sailing. Last Saturday I went out on the boat with a girlfriend. The weather was perfect! Not too hot, not too cold, just right; like Goldy Locks and The Three Bears and her porridge. Perfect.

The sails are full, wing on wing.

We had both sails out and full of air. The boat was moving swiftly and quietly through the water. This is why I sail. The peace that comes with harnessing the wind. The being one with nature, yet having her push me along. My friend is actually lying on the bow watching the sky in this picture although you can’t see her.

Later, though, things changed. There are always lessons to learn when I go sailing. I’m still new enough that I have barely touched the tip of the iceberg on what I can learn. Nature had other ideas for later that day.

We traveled along the Pamlico River inland toward Little Washington. I really wanted to see what it would be like to sail to the marina on the waterfront there. I wanted to know if I could do it and I wanted some sort of approximation of distance and time to get there. I was stretching myself a little but the weather was fine and it was still midday. There wasn’t any problem at all. I lowered the sails and motored into the marina and docked. We went on land and bought a late lunch and I marveled that I had arrived at my destination by boat.

Leaving the marina was simple. The wind was low and we motored out. It was late afternoon but the sun was still high enough. I had a little inkling in my stomach that something wasn’t quite right. Nothing major, just a little antsy. I was beginning to wonder if we had waited too long to leave. The sky was still blue, though, and the wind was supposed to pick up some. I didn’t expect we’d have any real problems getting back to my home marina.

Historically, if that’s what six months of boat ownership is, I’ve learned that my electric engine isn’t all that great at staying charged and so I try to use my sails as much as possible, saving the motoring for docking. I love the electric engine; it’s easy to use, just like a car. All you have to do is turn it on and turn it off.

The wind picked up as expected. I set the sails again and we started off. It wasn’t quite a head wind but I still needed to make my way back to the marina in a less direct way. I locate some landmarks and begin to notice they aren’t changing. It feels like we’re sailing, the wind is blowing like crazy. The sails are full but they start to complain. The wind builds so I decide to lower the main and just use my jib. The boat was becoming a bit harder to control. This was a lesson in strength, in negotiation, in compromise. We continued to move forward, some. I motor-sail some. I have a lot of battery left, it shouldn’t be a problem, but I’m worrying a little bit more. I really want to see my slip and tie up for the night. The water is full of waves that occasionally splash us on board. As we go through each swell, my engine loses its purchase not helping us at all. I try increasing my angle, anything and everything I can think of. I look at my landmarks again and they are too familiar. They haven’t changed in a long time.

I lower the jib, it’s time to just motor, the sails aren’t helping and might be hindering. We motor a while but my landmarks are still the same. We’re not going backwards at least. The waves, though, there just a bit more than I like. I trust my boat, though, she’s holding her own. She can handle this, it’s me who needs to learn. The sun is lower in the sky now and I stop. I turn off my engine, pick up my phone and call for a tow. We’ll be okay.

The sun continues to set as we wait.

Patience. I look around and I’m at peace. I worry about my friend because she’s getting cold. She’s at least in the cabin re-warming herself.

I notice that; without steering, without sails, without motor, without anchor; we still have not moved. We’ve moved neither forward nor backward. We’ve merely moved in circles up and down with the waves. What a weird feeling! Eventually I do turn the motor back on because we did drift a little closer to an island, but just a little. I turn it back off and wait.

Patience. This boat will teach me to rest. She will teach me to listen to my gut, to trust my instincts, and to be patient. I knew this when I got her. I knew that I would learn from her. I knew she would be strong enough to withstand my learning. She’s almost as old as I am but she knows the waters better than I. I look forward to her instruction each time I take her out.

My new friend, the tow boat captain, took this picture of us.

Two hours or so, sitting and waiting, bouncing on the waves; we find ourselves in a cold dark night. The brightest light around is that of my mast. It was so bright, the captain of the tow boat first didn’t see us because he thought we must be land. When he approaches he asks if the anchor is down. No. Didn’t need it. Didn’t go anywhere without it either.  He comes near and tosses me the rope  to tie on. Says to me, you know the drill, reminding me that he was the one who towed me last time. I laugh.

I do know the drill. I know that I have things yet to learn. And yet, I know that I am safe enough here to learn some of these lessons. I know that I can call for help and it’s not a mark against my character. I do not allow pride to prevent me from asking. I know that nature has won this round. Yet I will do it all again. I may even have to call for a tow again. Let me learn. I’ve only just begun this journey.

We arrived back at the dock after almost an hour of towing. I’m certain the waves and the wind did not make it any easier for my rescuers than it did for me. They just had stronger engines. As I held on and attempted to steer behind them, the occasional wave would splash me. The wind was cold but I was grateful for the tow, for not spending the night on the hook, for the weather not being freezing, for having no rain. I was much too grateful to be bothered by being upset.

Lessons sometimes need to be learned multiple times before you figure it out. That’s the way it is with life. I’m certain I am in the process of learning something. Patience is but part of it. perseverance may be another. My body ached for three days from trying to control my boat in that wind and then being towed. I definitely got my work out for the day!

thank you for reading,

me

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ICU Thoughts on Life

There’s definitely a theme to my thoughts these days. I’m on my last rotation (Finally!). My patients are sick, real sick. They are recovering from heart attacks, or at least trying to. Or have heart failure, made worse by COPD (a lung disorder common in smokers). Some of my patients are septic. My journal club this month is on sepsis. It doesn’t look good. Almost 50% of people who have sepsis die before they leave the hospital. Their bodies are riddled with infection and are having a very difficult time recovering. Their hearts are working too hard, their lungs are tired, and they can barely rest enough to let their bodies heal. It’s awful.

Another one of my patients is going home today to meet his maker. His family finally gave up and allowed his life support to be removed. He’s not going to wake up here. At least with him, he has had a long life. I hope it was filled with the joy of family, friends and adventure. I hope his family can remember good times and great events spent with him. I hope his maker is pleased. He’s one of the lucky ones. If he were to wake up here he’d have a life of pain. A life filled with medicines, breathing machines, cardiac machines, dialysis, and a number of other things to help him prolong it. But waking up isn’t something he is going to do, his brain has already quit. I pray his transition is smooth both for him, and his family.

Life is short. No matter the age you die at, it will be too soon. I hope to change that. I hope to live with no regrets, embracing all that life has to offer. I hope to be an example to my family that life is worth living well, that life is meant to be lived fully. It is meant to have its ups and downs. It is meant to be full of adventure, and quiet moments. No matter how short life may be for me, I pray that each day is one that I lived on purpose. I plan to be present to each moment, to be present to my children when they speak to me, to be present to my peers, to listen with my whole body and not just my ears. Being present will mean that I have wasted no time on the frivolous.

My goals, though in the future, are but reminders to myself now. They are reminders that though today may be hard, there is another day to look forward to. They are reminders that there is no reason to quit, to give up, or to stop living. Goals are a driving force to keep me motivated. They provide the energy of living into an amazing future. When I have a goal set I stay focused better. My brain obliges me, allowing me to work toward that future.

My patients? They are reminders that wasted time is never returned. There is not one who will gain even a second back. Time marches forward with or without us. Those moments when I didn’t pay attention to my child are never returned. The time spent on things that don’t matter is wasted. When you take the time to be still, to quiet your mind and pay attention, then time slows down. Time has its own philosophy. Life is short, don’t waste it.

thanks for reading,

me

One day

One of the things I like to do is help people be healthy. I’m graduating in about a month with my PharmD as one way for me to express this part of myself. The other part of me does a small business built on educating others about nutrition. The question that bothers me the most is ‘why’. Why should I take your product? Why should I eat more veggies, more fruits, more berries? Why do I need an omega? Why should I … all the time.

My question is why not? Have you not seen what is in store for you if you don’t take care of yourself? Have you any idea how much more energy you will have? How much better you’ll feel? How much money and time you will save by not being ill?

May I educate you on the benefits of being healthy? Age is really just a number. Today I saw a woman in her sixties who looked like she was eighty, and she was dying. The other month I met a man who was 95, and I swear he’s not going to stop any time soon! Who do you want to be? 60 and dying? or 95 and living? It’s your choice.

Building a little muscle, eating a little better, resting a little more, sleeping 7-9 hours each night: these little things can make or break you. They have a word for people who aren’t likely to make it if they get sick. This word is frail. Frailty is a person who is just on the verge of being pushed off of a cliff and not having the strength to hold on. The healthy person has the strength to catch something and stop their fall. They may trip, they may skin their elbows and knees, even need stitches, surgery or a blood transfusion. If you’re healthy, though, when some thing pushes you over, then you will have a chance to get up again and move forward with your life. If frail, then you are done. You’re on the slippery slope to death, and death may come quickly or very, very slowly. Which do you prefer?

Might I suggest something? Take yourself seriously. Your body is an intricately created machine capable of amazing things. Given the right care, your body can heal and can heal quickly. Would you like to grow old and enjoy your retirement? Would you like to have the energy to run around with your grandkids? Would you like to go places, do things, play hard whenever you want? Would you like to remember your name? Your wife’s name? Your kids’ names? Health is how you do it.

Or, you could continue to not care like most of the masses. You could continue to eat your cookies and ice cream each night when you go to bed too late to get up too early. Sleep is when your body repairs itself, filling yourself with sugar before bed dampens your immune system and steals from your body’s ability to heal you. Yes, everything counts, but doing even a little something better today and each day onward can make such a huge difference. Have a handful of nuts instead and drink a cup of water.

Many people complain of simple things like dry eyes, painful joints, heart burn, dry skin and wrinkles. They put drops in their eyes, pills in their bodies, and ointments on their skin. They spend hundreds of dollars doing this when all they need to do is drink more water. Water provides an avenue for your body to clean out the junk, it lubricates your joints, forms your tears, and smooths your face. Plane old water costs almost nothing.

It’s difficult for me sometimes. I see people who are extremely sick. I’m working in the Cardiac Intensive Care Unit right now. I see them and I know one thing. They did this to themselves. I know that’s harsh, but it’s true. Most of us already know that we should ‘eat our fruits and veggies’,  ‘not smoke’ or drink too much. We’ve been told this our entire lives. We were told to exercise, to eat better, to sleep more, to reduce our stress, to take breaks… to take care of ourselves. I know each of the people there today knew that. That’s common knowledge. Then one day they don’t wake up. One day they get found down next to their truck, given CPR, shocked 3 or 4 times and then taken to the hospital. One day that was just like all of the rest. One day that shouldn’t have been any different. One day. (He still hasn’t awoken, by the way, he’s just laying there with a tube for breathing, iv’s in his arm, catheter for his urine, and he’s young. We don’t know if he will wake up, and if he does he needs to go for heart surgery.) His one day may never come.

What will be your one day? One day, I’ll take that trip. One day, I’ll eat better. One day, I’ll have enough time, money, friends, etc… One day. One day might not come the way you expect. Now is the time to take charge of your health. Not ‘one day’.

thanks for reading,

me