I stepped from Plank to Plank
A slow and cautious way
The Stars about my Head I felt
About my feet the Sea.

I knew not but the next
Would be my final inch -
This gave me that precarious Gait
Some call Experience.

Emily Dickinson, c. 1864

Sunday, January 13, 2013


By Margit Lisa
While searching around the internet for something that would evoke the idea of perspective, I found this picture on Fine Art America. It's perfect, since it's an image of clouds taken from an airplane. I've spent many an hour staring out the window at the beauty underneath me as I let my mind wander. At first I thought this was a picture of ocean waves, and when I realized what it actually is, it took my breath away.

I'm having trouble getting started on this morning's post. I woke last night thinking about it, realizing I didn't have anything percolating around in my mind, other than a background worry about health and the flu. I'm careful when I open doors and touch surfaces used by other people, since I realize that I am now officially classified as "elderly," and we are especially at risk for the flu and related illnesses. My ex-boss Mickey is 73, and he came down with it and is now in the process of recovering. He didn't get a flu shot this year, so he got really, really sick. I've learned that one of the two strains of flu going around right now is well matched to the vaccine, but the other one isn't. The Center for Disease Control has a really good website here.

I've got a doctor's appointment on Tuesday, which means I have to go to the place where I will be mostly likely to unwillingly pick up the flu: a medical facility. I'll be particularly cautious while I'm there. It's for my annual checkup, so I went in for a fasting blood test last week. PeaceHealth, my wellness clinic, has an online feature so that I could see the results within a few hours after the tests. I am always nervous about my cholesterol numbers, since I take a statin and don't want to have to take any more of it than I already do. The numbers were good. In fact, all of my results were positive, so I was very pleased. The doctor also wanted to see how I'm doing with Vitamin D (the sunshine vitamin), and even those numbers were good. That is only because I take 2,000 IUs of Vitamin D-3 every day. Even so, I was still on the low end of the normal range.

It's an inevitable thing that we all will grow old and die of something, but that doesn't mean I shouldn't take as good care of myself as I can, right? I am addicted to exercise, so it isn't hard for me to make myself work up a sweat. I avoid sugar and wheat products and work hard to keep my weight within bounds. Twice a week I talk with Norma Jean on video chat and we compare our routines and reinforce each other. Two weeks from today I will be writing this Sunday morning post from her home in Florida. I have no doubt that when I return home I will have some new ideas about exercise and eating well. Norma Jean is the only person I know who is more addicted to exercise than I am. It makes me wonder if it is a genetic thing. No, our other siblings don't seem to have caught the exercise bug.

Now that's a bug I don't mind catching. Yesterday I walked with twenty other women in the frigid air on our latest walk. Once the clouds cleared away earlier this week, taking the wet drizzly days with them, the temperature dropped precipitously. For the last three days it's been very cold (well, for us: highs in the mid-30s). Outside before dawn the temperature is 20 F (-6.5 C). That makes me very happy to be warm inside. Our heat source is completely electric in this apartment, which means we would need to find shelter somewhere else if suddenly the power went out. Even worse, there would be no internet! (I'm being flippant; please forgive me.)

I realize that I make choices every day that impact my environment and consequently my health. It would be safest to stay inside and avoid contact with the outside world, only drive my own car instead of taking the bus, shop online instead of mingling with others in stores. But my quality of life would be so much less desirable, so I will take my chances out there in the wide, wide world. I found a quote from Susan Elizabeth Phillips that says it all:
I finally figured out that not every crisis can be managed. As much as we want to keep ourselves safe, we can't protect ourselves from everything. If we want to embrace life, we also have to embrace chaos.
And maybe when I fly to Florida in a couple of weeks I can get a different perspective on life when I look out at the clouds. I'd better keep my camera handy.


O-town Ramblings said...

What a great post. I love your perspective. You're right, it would be much safer to stay inside in a self-protective bubble, but what kind of life would that be?

Linda Reeder said...

As I read your post I realized I have not been the least bit worried about the flu, at least not for me. I do worry about my kids and grandkids getting it. We have gotten our flu shots for many years now, and have avoided most diseases.
It also occurred to me that I scheduled a Dr appointment for Tues also, right in the middle of flu season, and it was completely optional. In January I tend to focus on health issues like weight loss and exercise. Two years ago I launched into pain control and treatment for foot and back pain. That paid off. Now I am focusing on the arthritis in my hands, which will soon become debilitating. I have my first preliminary appointment on Tuesday. I'd better remember to wash those hands!

Linda Myers said...

I'm not at all worried about the flu. Got my shot. Probably should be concerned about the other variety. Oh, well. The things I worry about are totally useless to have in my head. Thanks for the reminder about being careful.

It's 30 degrees at 10:00 a.m. in Tucson. And sunny!

Sally Wessely said...

What would I ever do without your Sunday posts? The only thing better than reading your Sunday post would be sharing a cup of tea or coffee with you on a Sunday morning. Thankfully, I got to do that this fall. I will always remember you sitting in the "glow chair."

This week you struck a chord with me again. We've been quite concerned about the flu around here in our house this past week. There is so much flu about. I had an endoscopy this past week, and I was very worried about picking up the flu while I was there. Some guy in the waiting room was coughing and not covering his mouth. The teacher in me almost came out. I wanted to tell him to please get a tissue or use his elbow to cough into.

We've had our flu shots. We had them very early, but as you said, there is a strain out there that may not be covered. My husband has surgery next week. A surgery he has needed badly for months. We can't take the risk of him getting sick at this point. Since I will be his caregiver, I don't want to be sick either. He stayed home from the movie the other night to avoid the crowd. I went on to movie with a friend. I've not avoided public places, but as you said, one's awareness of the risks of picking up this nasty flu is heightened at this time.

Arkansas Patti said...

I think the flu is on a lot of peoples minds these days, especially those of us who are considered elderly(yikes, when did that happen) and vulnerable.
I won't isolate myself either but I have cut down on frivolous trips to mob scenes. If I don't need it, it can wait.
Congrats on your good results. Always a relief.
Load up on your vitamins for the plane ride. Those are pretty much flying petri dishes.

Jackie said...

Jan...I do worry about the flu...not for myself but for my Mama.
When you go to the doctor on Tuesday, my suggestion is that you wait outside in your car, and have them call you on your cell phone when they are ready for you to go into the doctor's office (if that is allowed.) That is what I'm going to do with Mama. We, too, have an appointment (checkup) on Tuesday. I'm more worried about her catching something in the doctor's office waiting room than anywhere else. A lot of hospitals are even discouraging visiting patients right now until this epidemic is over.
You are doing just the right things. I applaud you for that and pray for continued health for you.

#1Nana said...

I got my shot at the grocery store last November...and got a 10% discount coupon for my grocery purchases! I worry about picking something up from the kids when I substitute. Other than that, I'm a recluse, so I'm not that exposed. Stay safe and warm!

Rian said...

I agree that worrying about something that you have no control over is foolish and not healthy. BUT there are some things you CAN do to be cautious. Do those... like washing hands, staying away from unnecessary crowds 'for the moment', and yes, waiting in the hall or in your car if you have to go to the doctor's. No use exposing yourself unnecessarily?

Anonymous said...

I guess we all worry about getting sick and disabled. Hope you stay well for your trip to Florida in two weeks. David and I are considering spending 3 nights in DC and 2 nights in Miami in early August. Hope for the best. Cheers!

Far Side of Fifty said...

I am careful what I touch out in public..I use antiseptic wipes on my grocery cart..If I have time I disinfect the entire cart. (Anal retentive sometimes) If I use a public restroom I never use my hand to open the door..I use my shoulder..so far so good no flu here..but people all around have had it and the hospital is full of elderly flu patients. Sometime I like being a bit of a hermit:)

Red said...

I think we have to go out and get some exposure to the bugs. Our own system has to be challenged to build up resistance to fight the bugs off. I was a middle school teacher and I was rarely sick . How many doctors do we see with flu?
So we can't hide. You don't hide you get out and exercise.

Friko said...

Flying is bound to get you that cold you are trying to avoid. The recycled air in planes is notorious for bug transmission. (sorry to be raining on your parade)

Otherwise, looking after ourselves is only common sense; we are alive and might as well be well too. We’ll get sick soon enough as the years gather on our backs.

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CiCi said...

Amazing that you are able to take a statin. I cannot. Will not ever again. I know others like you who are able to take statins though.

CrazyCris said...

I could spend hours looking down at the clouds from an airplane. It always seems so peaceful to me! Until the kid sitting behind me starts kicking my seat of course... :p

It's fabulous that you and Norma Jean are in such constant contact and can provide positive reinforcement for each other! That makes a definite difference for exercising. Enjoy your visit with her! :o)

Trish and Rob MacGregor said...
This comment has been removed by the author.
Trish and Rob MacGregor said...

Now, let's do this without typos! Yesterday at the grocery store, the woman ahead of me in the checkout line wore a mask and gloves. It seemed a bit much for Florida, where the flu isn't quite as pervasive as elsewhere.

Heidrun Khokhar, KleinsteMotte said...

We have survived the days of polio and all sorts of childhood diseases because vaccinations were just coming along. Now the media is out to scare us. Your are right to care for each day but to worry too much is not wise.
I hope your trip to your sister will bring the joy and peace you are seeking.