of the air and water

Great blue herons never look like they are of the earth to me. They look like they are of the air and of the water. Unearthly. I keep wondering if they are angels.

Eagles do not look earthly either. They do land on the beach occasionally but I see them in the air or in the trees most of the time.

For the Ragtag Daily Prompt: unearthly.

angels

The Ragtag Daily Prompt is halo, and I wrote this yesterday, after a discussion with a new friend about angels and my angel dream.

______________________________

angels

light angels fall into dark

dark angels fall into light

there is no separation

we are longing for the Beloved

we are longing to be reunited with the Beloved

we have never been separate

we are one

light falling in to dark

dark falling in to light

seeing both is grace

no separation

sun halo

I search my phone photographs for moon and come up with this photograph: an eerie sun and cloud photograph with a halo. Sometimes the clouds and fog combine with the sun to form frightening light, even though it is beautiful too.

The computer also picked this picture in the moon search. I’m not sure what that is about. Elwha had hopped into the bathtub not realizing that I had just gotten out. He was soaked and howled, because he couldn’t get out. He was a very grumpy kitten, grooming for an hour.

For the Ragtag Daily Prompt: halo.

foxglove

The source of digoxin and digitalis. I am interested when people tell me they don’t take prescription medicines and that they only take “natural” medicines. Meaning pills. Pills do not grow on trees or bushes and are made by human beings. How exactly is the person defining “natural”?

My father said that anything a human could think up was “natural”. “Though that does not mean safe.” Think wingsuits and basejumping.

Digoxin and digitalis are used less than in the past, because there are many other medicines to choose from to control heart rate. However, they are still used because digoxin is one of the very few rate controlling medicines that does NOT lower blood pressure. Most of the others do lower blood pressure. When nothing else works or is tolerated, the cardiologist may sigh and say, ok, start digoxin. It is a tricky medicine because levels that get too high are toxic and the dose is different for each person and the dose must be lowered as kidney function changes with age. We still use it, though.

About one third of prescription medicines originate from a plant source like this, where the plant actually makes the active substance. Plants and animals and humans evolved together. We have deer all over town and they do not eat the foxglove. They love roses but stay away from foxglove.

I am seeing advertisements for a book to make your own medicines at home. I have not bought it. I would stay away from any recipe with foxglove: I want a lab to test to get the dose exactly right.

For Cee’s Flower of the Day. Heh, it turned into an essay of the day too. Wordy, wordy, wordy.

Adverse Childhood Experiences 13: on gratitude

I saw a meme today about gratitude. It is saying that some people look at a garden and see thorns and weeds, but others see the roses. That we need to have gratitude. I think this is simplistic and papers over the trauma and grief that some people have. If they have endured a highly traumatic childhood, who am I to say they should focus on the roses? They may have a very good reason to see if there is something like a thorn that can hurt them before enjoying the roses.

I work with many patients with high Adverse Childhood Experience scores and mine is high too. I don’t tell my patients that they should have gratitude. I tell them “You survived your childhood. You have crisis wiring. Good for you. Some of your learned crisis survival wiring may not serve you as well now as it did when you were a child.” Then we discuss whether they want to work on any aspects and the many many different approaches. One example: a man who sleeps very lightly. He said that it was lifelong. When asked about his childhood he says, “We would have to leave in the night when there was shooting in my neighborhood. It was a very dangerous area.” I said, “I am not surprised you sleep lightly. You HAD to in childhood to survive. Is this something you want to try and change?” He thought about it and decided, no. Once it was framed as learned in childhood to survive, he stopped worrying about “normal”. He was satisfied that the way he slept was “normal” for him and he wanted to wake up if he heard shooting.

I think we have to ask why a person sees thorns and weeds in a garden before we judge them. My first thought with a new and angry or hostile patient is always, oh, they have been badly hurt in the past. What happened? I don’t worry that the anger is at me. I know it’s not at me, it’s at the system or a past physician or a past event. Under the anger there are other emotions, usually fear or humiliation or grief. I have brought up Adverse Childhood Experience scores on the first visit sometimes. One person replies, “I am a 10 out of 10.” The score only goes up to 8 but I agree. He was a 10. He stated once, “The military loved me because I could go from zero to 60 in one minute.” Very very defensive and very quick to respond. The response may seem extreme and inappropriate to other people: but it may feel like the only safe way to be to my patient.

I grew up hiding any grief or fear in my family, under anger, because grief or fear would be made into a story told for laughs. In college, a boyfriend told me I was an ogre when I was angry. I started working on it then and it was difficult to tame that. The person who took the longest was my sister: she could make me explode until I was in my residency. Medical training was excellent for learning emotional control, at least, on the surface. After my mother died, I had to do the next piece of emotional work: open the Pandora’s Box of stuffed emotions, mostly fear and grief, and let them out. It was such hard work that my day where I saw the counselor for an hour was harder than my ten hour clinic day. I did the work, for two long years. Blessings on the counselors who stood by me while I worked through it.

I do not think we are ever done with that sort of work. I think, what do I need to learn next? What is this friend teaching me? Why is this behavior frustrating me and I have to look in my inner mirror. Why, why, why?

Blessing on your healing path and may you not be judged.

Link about ACE scores: https://www.cdc.gov/violenceprevention/aces/about.html

Sometimes I do feel like a fossil, now that I am middle aged. For the Ragtag Daily Prompt: fossil.

Is this a tree?

Is this a tree?

I would not call this a tree. I would call it a cone. It contains seeds. It is not a tree.

A pregnancy is called an embryo until 8 weeks after conception and then a fetus until birth. It is not a baby, any more than a seed is a tree. Here is a link to a picture of the embryo developing:

https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Human_embryonic_development#/media/File:HumanEmbryogenesis.svg

It’s a bit difficult to call the embryo a baby.

After 8 weeks (10 weeks from the last menstrual period) the developing pregnancy is called a fetus. It cannot survive outside the womb. A term pregnancy is 37 weeks, and the due date is at 40 weeks. The earliest survival, certainly not natural, is around 24 weeks. This takes heavy intervention and technology, a premature infant on a ventilator for months. There is risk of damage to the eyes from high oxygen and risk of spontaneous brain bleed and cerebral palsy, because the newborn can weigh half a pound. Once born, the fetus is termed a baby.

This is important from a medical standpoint and pounded into us as physicians. WHY? Because in a trauma situation, the life of the mother comes first. In Obstetrics and Family Medicine, the life of the mother comes first. In Oncology, the life of the mother comes first. My sister was diagnosed with stage IIIB ductal breast cancer at age 41. She was engaged and it turned out that she was pregnant. She wrote this essay on her blog, Butterfly Soup:

The hardest loss of breast cancer.

She had an abortion and chose chemotherapy, because it was her or the fetus. If she had chemotherapy pregnant, at that time she was told that it would probably kill the fetus or cause terrible birth defects. If she held off on chemotherapy for seven months, her oncologist thought she would die. She had a very very aggressive cancer and she already had a daughter who needed her.

She lived until age 49, with multiple rounds of chemotherapy, radiation, gamma knife radiation, whole brain radiation. And she lived until her daughter was 13. Without the abortion, her physicians thought she would have died when her daughter was 7.

My ethics in medicine are that patients have autonomy. I would NOT have wanted my sister to choose to refuse chemo and try to bring a baby to term while dying of breast cancer. However, it was HER CHOICE, not mine. It was private and no one else’s business and how dare people make moral judgements about another person’s medical choices. I give my patients CHOICES. They can choose not to treat cancer and go into hospice. They can choose surgery or refuse it. They can choose to treat opioid addiction or refuse. They may die of a heroin overdose and I grieve. I try to convince them to go to treatment and I give them nalaxone to try to reverse overdoses. I refuse a medication or treatment that I think will harm my patients, but my patients have autonomy and choices. That extends to women and pregnancy as well.

It is NOT a baby in the womb, however emotionally attached people are to this image. It is an embryo first and then a fetus. And in a car wreck, the woman comes first and the fetus second.

For the Ragtag Daily Prompt: explain.