I have four other blog posts in various stages of completion that I have been working on for the coming weeks. However, this particular post is being written this morning, April 21st, because – well – this has been on my mind now for less than twenty-four hours. A small warning, a lot of this deals with my health issues, and while all of that touches aspects of my personal Spiritual approach, some of it is not easily relatable. This is not, by the way, a “woe is me” post. Rather, this is me being open and honest about who I am, and how the real (mundane) world touches my approaches to my Spirituality.
I have Type-II diabetes. Most likely, this came from my 12-pack a day Dr. Pepper habit that I had when I was in the Air Force. I worked the night shift, and caffeine and sugar were the easiest things to keep me moving. But regardless of all of that, I have diabetes. This means that I have to do some extra things to take better care of myself. I strive to eat better, and while I have not cut sugar completely out of my life, I have tried my best to curb my sweet tooth. And openly, I have not always been successful at it.
I have been with the same Primary Care Physician for nearly sixteen years. However, when I moved up here near the Texas/Oklahoma border, the sixty-mile, one-way trip for doctor’s visits became a near impossibility for me. Literally, I would have to take a half day off from work, just for a simple checkup that took fifteen minutes in the office. So, at the beginning of this year, I switched to a new Primary Care Physician much closer to me in the extreme northern part of Denton, Texas. New doc means starting over from scratch. During our “interview” process (my first visit), she asked about my paternal family health, particularly the males.
Well, there is a definite pattern in all of that. My father had diabetes. I know most, if not all, of his brothers were also diabetics. My father passed away from a sudden heart attack, and I do believe that heart attacks were the causes for the passing of my uncles as well. This led me being sent to a Cardiologist for testing. Unfortunately, all of that was dictated during my long period of travel for Imbolc Retreat, my professional conference, and Pantheacon. So I put things off. And finally, got back to going to the cardiologist two weeks ago. We talked about the family history, my diabetes, my blood pressure which does not seem to go down with medication, and tests were scheduled.
The first test came back as “normal” which disappointed me. I wanted “weird” because I do not consider myself to be anything close to “normal” of any capacity. Okay, that was a bad joke. But the result was somewhat puzzling. Still, my heart got a passing grade. The second and third tests were yesterday. The stress test, where they hook me up to a bunch of wires, set me on a treadmill and have me walk, also turned up normal results. There was an effort to get me to run, to which I told them they would have to set some kind of danger behind me, and an individual I needed to run just a touch faster than. I do not run. I gave that stuff up for Lent five years back…and in my mind, Lent still continues to this day. But the results were good. Another passing grade. The next test was the Electrocardiogram, where they essentially do an ultrasound of the heart.
I was lubed up in that disgusting gel, and the monitor was moved all over the place. Sound recordings of my heart from various positions were also made. And the initial prognosis was considered to be “good”. A short consultation with the doc and he decided to place me on Lipitor to see if we can get the blood pressure down that way. Satisfied, off I went home. I have two Transact-SQL presentations to prepare for the Tulsa conference this coming week, so I had plenty to pre-occupy my mind.
Around 7pm, the doc called me and left a voicemail. On that voicemail, he noted that mitral valve (WTF is THAT?) in my heart was leaking. At that point, I zoned out of the rest of his voicemail. My heart is leaking. Well, blood is the only thing that is in there, so I started wondering what was going on? Did my heart find the iceberg? Are Kate and Leo running around my body trying to find that final refuge where they can hold on to their love before the entire body slips beneath the waves?
A short bit of research on the internet (I love diagnosing myself with Doctor IP’s help at the various websites that exist to scare the shit out of you), and I find that this diagnosis is a normal part of aging. It is definitely not something to just blow off. This will need to be continually watched. And on listening to the doc’s voicemail a second time, the notation was that there was “slight leakage” include some “tightening of the heart’s walls”. All normal indicators of age. But there were a lot of notations on the websites about needing to be active again.
Feeling like I needed a moment, I poured a small shot of whiskey and sat it next to my mouse on my desk. Where it sat. The smell was the incredible aroma that I know and love of Bushmill’s. But did I really need a drink?
“Not really, but you cannot put that back in the bottle.”
“Then what do I do with it?”
“Bring it outside to the circle. Give some of it to me. Give the rest of it to the Others.”
And I did just that. Crow, for me, is always ever-present. Nearby. Watching. Commenting. I have no idea how much Crow may have known about all of this, but there have been moments where I have been told about getting out of the house more often. Walking. Bike riding. Moving about. Being more active. And I understand a bit more now.
I do not have a Grove that I am a part of. Nor do I have a group of folks that I administer to. While I am a Priest of Crow, I have no need for the formality of that title or role. I am here to do. Not to just be. And in a roundabout way, I am being reminded that my time in this incarnation is finite. And there are things to still be accomplished. And for that to happen, I need to take care of myself.
As I sit and think about this, I am starting to realize something that seems to be a difficult thing for so many of the people I know and cherish within the Pagan community that have established themselves in various roles. We all do a wonderful job of being supportive and helping care for others. Many advocate and support those who have a need in the ending times of their lives. And these folks are all highly empathic and deal with so many things that place others on the floor in bundled masses, unable to do for themselves. But Self-Care by many of these folks is a terrible thing. We look out for so many others, we rarely see where we fail ourselves in our own Self-Care. Perhaps, it follows the colloquialism that we are too close to the forest and cannot see the trees. We see the needs of others, and yet have difficulty recognizing the same issues and frailty within ourselves. Or we ignore it, knowing that others do not receive care and support if we stumble and fall. Whatever the case may be, many folks in leadership roles, supporting functions, etc need to start becoming aware of the need for Self-Care and how to handle that. Because if we do not take care of ourselves, how can we help take care of others?
I have said it before. I am not a leader. I am nobody’s Priest, but my own. But I do talk with others, listen to their perspectives, and offer advice on how they might move forward. A few folks have told me that I am an inspiration to their own efforts to be more into their own Spirituality. All of that makes me a touch antsy because I do not see myself as anything special. I am just me. I am no confessor. But I am a human being. I can listen. I can be there when there is a need. I am not a solution. But we are all “tribe” together. And to that, I have an obligation to be a part of. My personal practice may be one of a solitary nature, but I am still your Brother. And I have an obligation to take care of myself.
As a final thought, I remember the struggle I had with trying to determine whether the Morrigan was calling to me in various dreams that I had. In the end, it turned out to be a series of Valkyrie that had come to admonish me over my lack of exercise and taking care of myself. Why the message delivery from the Valkyrie; to this day I do not understand. But I wonder how much all of this is tied to that? That will definitely be something to really contemplate going forward. The Nordic Path does not call to me whatsoever. But I believe that if I want to unravel that little “mystery”, I will need to get outside, get moving, and put myself into better shape.