I wondered why I felt so physically pained over the past week. As I had pains in my body coming from all directions. Areas I’d had surgery in. Mostly areas of damage from past bouts of tendonitis from thirty-five or more years ago. Too, I just had conquered the erratic behaviors of various stomach issues I’d had since a year after my husband had passed. I was exhausted thirteen months after his death, I knew I was anemic.
Part of it I knew were from my eating habits. I’d hoarded certain processed foods (unlike me) and reduced my greens that I’d ingested for near fifteen years. Once I realized how I’d chosen the wrong path for my digestive system, I rectified it. But no sooner than I had, I came down with an episode of shingles. I’d been there before, too. I kept telling myself then in October 2021, ”All these errors and illness are psychological.” I had to regroup and stop eating comfort food. It was a difficult task. I knew to discipline myself. If not for me, at least for our two daughters. For I knew I was their last ‘parent standing’.
After two years of gradually changing my diet, some going back to my good green habits. As well, changing all together when, how, and why I ingested whatever it was in my scope. The pride one should take in having the gift of life, even if defective. The pride one should take in remaining as their children’s parent. The pride one should take in having worked in the complimentary medical field for near thirty years. The pride one should take that someone in the family aids them in some of the most important decisions, would be to honor it. The pride one should take in being able to be called a US Marine at one time in their lives. I always believed that being given that honor to serve I must remain SAT till the day I die. The pride one should take in gratefulness of having the ability to earn money in three professional sports. Although very little earned, it still did matter.
I had started going back to school for ‘heavy-duty’ college courses for eight months and did well. I kept writing and building a new business after closing my therapy business (end 2021) yet maintaining my license for it. I then recently ventured into wanting to serve again. I decided if our daughters were done with their bachelor’s degrees then it could be appropriate for me to re-up for military reserve service. Instead, I was mindful of their sensitivities and wanted to be still mostly available to them yet serve the American people.
After I’d finished ten college courses in April 2022, I began forming a writing business. Nothing big, just a place where I could put the writing money I’d earned and spent separate from household and school expenses. I knew I needed something more. Then it arrived via an email in January 2023 from an organization I’d donated to, and it was something my husband loved. He loved the woods. He loved hiking. He loved trees. A lot! And well, so do I. A lot!
So, I joined three outfits, through one Federal program, AmeriCorps. It was connected by the NY/NJ Trail Conference and was coupled with Conservation. AmeriCorps is a service to the American people through various outlets. I wanted to be part of a trail crew and take orders. I needed to take orders. That’s just how I’ve always been. At first, they thought (they usually don’t take anyone over age 32 for this type of work, trail crew in the program) I was too old. Yet, they were willing to give me a shot. They soon found out that I’d pretty much always say ‘Yes’. That I wanted to take and follow orders, something I’d always prided myself on. That weather didn’t bother me. That I was extremely safety minded, which I was complimented on by two bosses. That I’d show up 20-30 minutes early and stay late, not questioning when we’d finish. I didn’t mind travelling to any variety of places where they needed me. That I enjoyed listening to young people’s stories and if I didn’t know or understand something of the younger generation, I would not guess. Yet I would ask and willingly show my naivety. I would crack jokes and tell stories when appropriate. It was a full-time position Wednesdays through Sundays through the summer months. They’d allotted me three days off. I took one day off to be at my youngest’s high school graduation. I loved the work and the people. It soon came to an end. They threw us, about thirty-nine of us a party. It was sweet. We cleaned tools and received our exit interviews privately on our last day.
I knew then it was time to get back to writing and rewriting screenplays and my crime book series, aside from moving our youngest into college and spending time with our oldest before she headed out west to her university for her studies.
Soon I was back taking classes in person for my therapy license. I didn’t know if I’d enjoy it, but I did. The lead instructor in the second class had a huge nutritional background and taught us much. I realized then, the door was open for me to revamp my daily regimen of food once again. I accepted that, as much as I don’t seem old to myself, that my digestive system has always been an issue since I was age four, that I could remember. I tried something new. I’d never believed in doing a cleansing that I was about to venture into. But I put my old thoughts aside and forged ahead with a three-day digestive cleanse. It was the most positive dietary experience I’d ever had. I felt new inside. I felt fresh, energetic and that feeling lasted a total of twelve days, that’s nine days past the three-day cleanse.
From that I maintained some semblance of changes in dietary habits that I formed ridding myself of many cravings. Yet, my body nineteen days later went into stomach issues for three days on days thirteen through fifteen (ten to twelve days after cleanse). I readjusted with teas and such and it calmed down quite a bit. Then I started having increased pain in areas I hadn’t felt in years in my body. Whilst at the same time I felt uncertainty in the world. So, I decided to stop reading and watching more than eight minutes of news per day. I got in touch with my feelings evermore so. I wondered what it was that had set me off. I was going to see my acupuncturist and or my chiropractor. But since one wasn’t available last minute as I’d contemplated near thirty-six hours of intense debilitating pain. I realized I must acknowledge what time of the year it was. What I did decide to do next, was visit someone I knew who was more lonely and had more loss than I’d had in the last four years.
That is what I usually do. I take a step back and look at other people who I know who are in just as much pain usually more than I. I assume such because pain is mostly emotional. I’ve figured that out through a few surgeries I’d undergone without anesthetics. My husband and I had grappled with that belief of mine, as he’d had a degree before we met in psychology. I have felt that much pain in the physical body was just as much from muscle memory as it was from emotional memories and being or feeling upset.
So, in pain I contacted that someone who I knew had more loss than I’d had recently. I got her at the right time. I bought us each a fresh bakery apple turnover. Too, I brought with me hot tea, so she didn’t have to make anything for me. We enjoyed our turnovers together. She made tea for herself. She had concerns about others who’d she hoped were still alive and well. I helped her connect with someone she knew moved, but to where? She didn’t know.
I ran a search on my phone at her kitchen table, while she searched in her list of contacts. She thought she lost the contact. Suddenly she found it, and it was their private number she had found. I sat quietly as she made the call and got them on the phone. They were alive and well and worked locally too. They’d gone back to work only part-time. The joy I witnessed made me want to leap. Too, I had ignored all my unhealth and pain during that time. After ninety minutes of visiting, seeing she was okay. We hugged and I parted. I was happy. I knew she was and would be okay for the holidays.
As I began my drive home, I realized why I was in such physical pain in areas I couldn’t reckon why mor with. It was November 22nd, 2019, I rushed my husband to the hospital late at night. And it was early the next morning, November 23rd, 2019, when I saw the medical report and knew before he did that he didn’t have a snowballs chance in hell that he’d be around a year from then. And I was correct.
November 22nd, I used to mentally celebrate that day as my childhood dog’s birthday which was November 22nd, 1972. It was Thanksgiving Eve, a Wednesday when my dog was born, and I received him on Christmas as a present on December 25th, 1972.
So, this Thanksgiving Eve marks the night four years ago. And Thursday November 23rd, 2023, marks the day four years ago our children and I knew we’d be losing their father, my husband. After all that processed thought, I listened to Aretha Franklin sing, “I Will Survive”, over and over again. My pain gradually dissipated that Saturday night November 18th, 2023. And after I did chores and ran the next morning, I felt different. The pain was down by fifty percent. Other tendonitis areas still were pained. I taped them up after a shower and my run and then forged ahead to hike in the woods. I listened to Aretha on my drive to the woods sing over and over again, “I Will Survive”.
Funny enough that song when I was in high school had a different meaning to me. For I was not included in the celebratory singing of it with the popular girls during our relaxed cross-country runs. I kept my mouth shut, they had no clue who I was. They didn’t know what hell I was going through. I kidded around so much, no one knew my pain, nor the tragedies that I knew.
Today, November 20th, 2023, the pains that slammed me so hard on Thursday evening November 16th, 2023, had mostly abated, only a migraine now ebbs and flows. My stomach has remained the calmest for the past five days its been since August 2020. --- Jody-Lynn Reicher