Dreading What’s Ahead
I dread ahead. I wish I could claim that phrase as my own but I appropriated it from an old boyfriend. At 69 I have “old” boyfriends in age and in distance of time. But I digress.
I was born a worrier. I got it from my father who probably developed the worrying gene by living through the Depression and landing on Omaha Beach on D-day.
I’ve worried about everything, from how my daughter would turn out to what I’d be having for supper. Answers to those worries: great and today, Chinese.
But on November 9, 2016 I found myself worrying about something new…what the Trump administration could or would do to the country and the world. I read news reports online. I tried to stay away from TV news to keep from yelling at the screen. Unfortunately I could hear the voices of network pundits coming from the den as my husband (who’d once ran for governor of Pennsylvania on the Broom Party ticket with a priest as his LtG pick…really, the Broom Party) took an interest again in politics. And it wasn’t only the pundits that made me shiver. It was also the President-elect’s surrogates and their answers to questions that chilled me.
As a former registered nurse and mother of a card-carrying Obamacare recipient, I found myself worrying about the healthcare system.
As someone who lived through the Cuban Missile Crisis at 15 thinking she would never see 16, I found myself worrying about nuclear war.
As someone who lives on only one planet and who never learned to swim, I found myself worrying about the course of climate change.
As a retiree…well, you get the picture.
After a couple of weeks of this dreading, I started having tachycardia, rapid heartbeats…not all the time and not when I was active, like walking or going up and down the stairs. The rapid beats would come on suddenly and last for a few moments. My physician said he heard a slight “ectopic” (not normal) beat but did not seem to be concerned.
Suddenly I had something else to dread…the emergency ward. I knew what would happen if I appeared at the ER with some undefined possible “heart issues.” I would be shuttled into the bowels of the ER immediately, hooked up to monitors, and tapped for blood. My history would be taken by an overworked nurse. Maybe I’d see a cardiologist who would tell me that my ECG was “fine and maybe I should speak to a therapist.” This last would be said with a small smirk, I imagined. Just one of those post-menopausal women overreacting.
But am I just over-reacting or is it my heart or is it the other nurse-part of me? That’s the nurse part that wants to help everyone and make everyone safe and happy and, of course, healthy. Maybe that’s where the anxiety is coming from.
So I did a routine physical status on myself: no chest pains, no arm pains, back pains are the usual. I can walk around our almost 3 acres without shortness of breath. I can go up the stairs without shortness of breath. Probably not my heart…at least not the muscle part. Maybe it’s the “caring” part.
I don’t want pills. Already on Cymbalta for fibromyalgia and structural back issues and chronic depression.
I don’t want to see a shrink…been there, done that. I never went back to the psychiatrist after he told me to get a “Bowflex” machine. I stopped going to the psychologist when I started seeing her more as a friend than a therapist.
What could I do for myself?
Limit news intake. I’m trying, really. But the gutting of important parts of the ACA is bothering me…a lot.
Limit the caffeine. I do love my coffee. It gets me going and keeps me going. But I switched to decaf after the first “real” cup.
Limit stress. I should be able to do that because I’m retired. But retirement brings its own issues. So I’ve decided to keep telling myself that I have a good life with a great family. And now I’m back to meditating.
I’m trying to remember that you cannot change the actions of others, but only the way you react to them.
And that includes the actions of presidents and congress.
However, I also remembered that we can change the people who occupy those roles and I will start working on that for 2018.