Following a Folded Dream

My dad was of the mind that a job’s only purpose is that it pays your bills, whether you like the work or not. Well, he was an architect and one does not pursue that career unless he enjoys the creativity of the work. I believe he followed a dream and the end result was, “BAMMM! Architect!”

I have always enjoyed hard work…physically hard work. It kept me in shape and by it’s nature (no ledgers or contracts or personnel issues) my mind was free to wander and daydream. My favourite job was working on a truck terminal…a 400′ terminal…loading and unloading 41′ semi-truck trailers, mostly by myself. 8-10 hours a day. 6-7 days a week.

I’m here to tell you that I was in marvelous shape, both physically and mentally. I ate like a horse and slept like a baby! Working a truck terminal wasn’t my dream job, but I¬†loved it…for twelve years.

We don’t all have the luxury of finding a job that allows us to follow our dreams – where we can go to work every day and return home with a calm mind. I’d say most of us must unwind from working a job that is so stressful that it affects our health.

Thank God for meditation, yoga and Tai Chi. And fireplaces. And windchimes. And paths that meander through the woods.

Hmmm… ūüėĆ

Mine have always been artistic dreams:

  • Painting, pencil sketching and portraiture
  • Fabric painting and crafts
  • Wood and stone carving
  • Clay and wire sculpture
  • Singing, and…
  • Writing

I have followed each of those dreams, either in the course of (or in spite of) any employment…and accomplished enough to satisfy my ideas of success.

Though I’ve always been a writer, it is only now, in my retirement, that I have begun to follow my dream of becoming an author – writing more than articles and blog posts for a company.¬†I started by writing…and publishing…a book.

Folded Dreams – the Beginning was published last December (2015). The follow up novel, “Folded Dreams – to the End?” (working title) will be published before this Christmas, hopefully.

This¬†two book series is good. I’m not an award winning author – yet – but I am my own worst critic and even I think it’s good for its genre (metaphysical/visionary fiction). In fact, the first book has received 4 star reviews from people who don’t normally even like this genre.

What has this to do with balancing your life? Everything!

At my age, the biggest worries are fixed income and health, with mental accuity rating top of the list.

Working on these books (and the next four or five) has excercised my mental faculties in crucial ways. After several mini-strokes affected my short term memory, I had a difficult time finding my words – they just got lost. I need words in order to write…so I have to work at it – even now. Hard.

Also, 62 years is just not long enough to share the memories of a life that has been so full of adventure, crazy experiences and drama, with all my fifty-plus grandchildren.

The fact that I continued to follow my dreams into old age is my legacy to my family. These books, starting with Folded Dreams – the Beginning, are my legacy to them.

My mind is clear, my health is fair – my spirit and body are balanced. I’m good.


If you would like to read a bit of Folded Dreams – the Beginning, you can find it on Amazon; try the “Look Inside” feature for the Kindle version.

A rough draft (3rd edit) of the first 4 or 5 chapters of the upcoming “Folded Dreams” novel (and the ¬†first chapter of my newest novel, “Waking Up Dead!”), are here on Goodreads. I’m sure you’ll find both of them…interesting!

You can also enter the Goodreads Giveaway (below) to win 1 of 10 copies of Folded Dreams – the Beginning.

(by the way Рyou can follow my author blog, The Old Fossil Writes, catch me on Twitter @PLKirkby and Instagram @pearlkirkby_author.

 

Goodreads Book Giveaway

Folded Dreams by Pearl Kirkby

Folded Dreams

by Pearl Kirkby

Giveaway ends October 20, 2016.

See the giveaway details
at Goodreads.

Enter Giveaway

https://www.goodreads.com/giveaway/widget/200767

Wow! Has it been that long? UPDATES

Books7

I cannot believe it’s been so long since I posted here on “Balance the Circle…”! And oh! are there ever Updates…at least for this category of Journal of Journalism!

Has it really been that long…8 months??

Well, be that as it may, here is the latest news on my writing endeavours:

  • “Mama Always Said…I Love You More!” – children’s book: text complete…illustrations: not so much.
  • “Folded Dreams – the Beginning” – (very) short story: published 5 December 2015. Lovely little book; available on Amazon.com and Amazon.co.uk in both paperback and Kindle, Barnes & Noble (paperback only) and other booksellers worldwide.
  • “Folded Dreams”, the novel: in-progress…about 1/3 finished; tentative release – late November – mid-December 2016
  • “Waking Up Dead!” – a novel; in-progress. Should be completed next year, 2017…cannot give a closer estimate!
  • “Prosetry & P’ose and other little ditties” – a compilation of simple poetry/prose: compiled selection of works from 2001 – 2015. Simple. Uncomplicated.. Nothing “dark”. Compilation in-progress. Should be released some time between Thanksgiving 2016 and Spring 2017.
  • Tomatoes & Babies…who knew!” – compilation of Sermon Topics from 2003-2014: Book 1 of 2. Compilation in-progress.
  • “More Tomatoes” – Compilation of Sermon Topics: Book 2

And there you have it…all the updates (I still can’t believe it has been that long!).¬†This will be my last direct post in the Journal of Journalism category; future posts will be re-blogged from my author site, “The Old Fossil Writes”, which I hope you will visit.

Carpal Tunnel or Dupuytrens Disease?

So here I am,¬†keyboarding away,¬†writing this article, when¬†all of a sudden I¬†notice that¬†my wrist is beginning to ache,¬†my fingers and thumb are tingling and there is an increasing numbness in¬†my hand.¬† Unbelievably, I’ve just finished reading¬†all my resources pertaining to¬†this very subject and, wait for it…yes, there it is: a pain that feels like a live electric wire is¬†travelling up¬†my arm to¬†my shoulder.¬†How ironic. I never thought about it before when it happened but, I think I may¬†have developed Carpal Tunnel Syndrome.

Nothing is physically obvious on the outside, but from the inside…OUCH!

There are very specific symptoms to “Carpal Tunnel”, but if noticeable swelling¬†or a deformed appearance¬†to your palm is also in evidence, a more serious condition called “Dupuytrens Contracture“…aka: Dupuytren’s Disease…¬†may be present. Either way,¬†you¬†should¬†visit¬†your doctor or an orthopaedic surgeon to rule out Dupuytren’s Contracture (“doh-pwee-trenz”), which can actually start out with much the same early¬†symptoms.

Although neither Carpal Tunnel Syndrome nor Dupuytren’s Disease¬†can be found¬†amongst the standard¬†labels of ‘Invisible Illnesses’, sometimes the symptoms of either condition may¬†not be¬†immediately¬†visible.¬†And because carpal tunnel is more common¬†and successfully treated, people might “pooh pooh” complaints about the unique pain and disabilities that are part and parcel of the similar early symptoms of Dupuytren’s Disease.

Carpal Tunnel Syndrome

CarpalTunnel_A00005F02Just as general background information, Carpal Tunnel Syndrome (CTS) centers around the median nerve. This nerve originates in a network of nerve fibers called the brachial plexis, around the spine. Sometimes hand and/or arm vibrations (such as those experienced by motorcycle/scooter drivers or power tool operators) or repetitive movement, such as typing or keyboarding, can cause the tissues which surround the tendons in your wrist to swell. In turn, those swollen tissues press against the median nerve, thus causing pain.

In some instances,¬†CTS¬†may simply be genetic in nature (run in¬†families)¬†as the size of the¬†“tunnels” in the carpal bones of the wrist are often an hereditary condition. Another common occurance that may lead to CTS is fluid retention during¬†pregnancy or menopause. If you have problems with obesity, smoking, alcohol abuse, or mental stress, you may also be at risk to develop CTS. And if all of those risks weren’t enough to think about, women are three times more likely to suffer CTS than men because, as a rule, womens’ bones are¬†simply smaller than mens’!

“But wait! There’s more!”

Certain medical conditions, if present, can increase the tendency to carpal tunnel problems. These biologic conditions can include:

  • ¬†trauma or injury to¬†the wrist
  • overactive pituitary gland
  • hypothyroidism
  • rheumatoid¬†arthritis
  • the development of a cyst or tumor in the canal

On the Northside Hospital website (located in St. Petersburg, Florida), there is a video explaining Carpal Tunnel Syndrome and the surgery performed to correct the condition. This video, produced by Nucleus Medical Media, is highly recommended for its in-depth information on the subject.

Dupuytren’s Disease/Dupuytrens Contracture

Dupuytren’s¬†Disease or Dupuytren’s Contracture was actually¬†“discovered” in 1831 by a French surgeon, Baron Guillaume Dupuytren.¬†Although¬†the disease¬†has been¬†monitored in great detail,¬†to this day¬†its causes are still¬†the subject of ongoing studies.¬†Whether this condition¬†may be an autoimmune dysfuntion or a biochemical reaction in the hand’s fascia (the tissue just underneath the skin, where lumps and pits in the palm may develop), the question still remains a puzzle.

CT  CTH 031710-HEALTH sc-health-0317-hand-drug MJWIf you develop this disease, you may notice thick cords which¬†appear¬†to be tendons (although they are not tendons),¬†running¬†from the palm of your hand¬†to your¬†fingers, usually the ring and little fingers (you’re looking at your hands, aren’t you!). Eventually, in the later stages of this condition, these cords will act like drawstrings in your hand, causing your fingers to¬†bend inward toward the palm or even at an odd angle.¬†This is called¬†‘contracture’. Either one or both hands¬†can be¬†affected, however, usually¬†the condition affects one hand more seriously than the other.

As opposed to CTS, Dupuytren’s Disease is more likely to occur in men over the age of 40 and is usually found in those of Northern European descent (Caucasian), with the highest percentage of sufferers carrying Scandinavian heritage. Also, whereas Carpal Tunnel Syndrome can be brought on by injury,¬†continuous repetitive motion or vibration, no evidence exists to indicate that these kinds of conditions will lead to Dupuytren’s Contracture.

Again, initial symptoms of Dupuytren’s Disease may be quite similar to¬†Carpal Tunnel Syndrome, but as a rule it isn’t as painful as it is inconvenient…unless, of course, you attempt to force your digits to straighten out! And the progression of this disease isn’t always predictable, either. Sometimes only lumps and noticeable cording may be all that occurs, while others may suffer the severely bent fingers. Fortunately (sort of), if the disease is going to be one of the more severe cases, it will usually be evident early on.

One study in London showed that¬†Dupuytren’s Contracture/Disease will normally present in women, aged 60-70, while the incidence in men is closer to those aged 70 or older. It is a sad fact that if onset occurs around age 30, there is a greater likelihood that the condition will lead to a more severe case and also increases recurrences if corrective¬†surgery was performed.

Alleopathic or Homeopathic Treatments?

(Click the picture link for informative video about homeopathy)

(Click the picture link for informative video about homeopathy)

With both CTS and Dupuytren’s Constricture, if you catch it before it becomes too problematic, you can ease the pain, discomfort and inconvenience you will initially have to deal with.

Severe Carpal Tunnel Syndrome might be avoided by simply identifying the activities you perform which seem to trigger the pain or restriction of movement. Using a mouse pad with gel wrist support, taking more frequent breaks from the aggravating activity, using a wrist brace made specifically for CTS sufferers and/or purchasing one of the re-freezable wrist packs designed for wrist stress¬†can delay, or even halt, the onset of¬†a severe case of this¬†condition. However, if it recurs often enough, or you’re unable to get relief, high-tail it to your doctor and hope that surgery can be avoided.

The increasing symptoms of Dupuytren’s¬†are not so easily dismissed. Generally this is a progressive disease which has, historically, been treated by the surgeon, although the same supports, rest and manipulation of the hand may help the discomfort and inconvenience…in the beginning…if the disease is recognized for what it is.

There is good news, though:¬†Surgery may not be your only option, as newer treatments have been discovered.¬†In 2010,¬†FDA (Food and Drug Administration) approved a more homeopathic sort of treatment by way of enzyme therapy (sic), by which the nodules and ‘cording’ can be diminished or even returned to normal (see reference to the Chicago Tribune article, below).

Bottom Line…

So Carpal Tunnel Syndrome and Dupuytren’s Disease aren’t officially “Invisible Illnesses”, but because we don’t tend to stare at peoples’ hands, the fact that our co-workers, family members or friends may be suffering will not be immediately evident. But if¬†the conditions are brought to our attention, don’t dismiss their complaints as “hypochondria in action.”¬†Instead, be supportive. Direct them to the many support groups who will be able to explain the options about which, perhaps, their doctors may have neglected to tell them.

Many people with Carpal Tunnel Syndrome or Dupuytren’s Disease suffer in silence. That doesn’t mean it doesn’t hurt.

Citations:

(1)¬† The Mayo Clinic Staff. (n.d.). Dupuytren’s Contracture. In The Mayo Clinic. Retrieved 4 December 2013, from http://www.mayoclinic.com/health/dupuytrens-contracture/DS00732.

(2)¬† ASSH. (n.d.). Dupuytren’s Disease. In American Society for Surgery of the Hand. Retrieved 4 December 2013, from http://www.assh.org/Public/HandConditions/Pages/DupuytrensDisease.aspx.

(3)¬†PDLabs. (n.d.). What is Dupuytren’s Disease?. In PDLabs.net. Retrieved 4 December 2013, from http://www.pdlabs.net/dupuytrens/whatisdupuytrens.html.

(4) SCOI. (n.d.). Dupuytren’s Disease. In Southern California Orthopedic Institute. Retrieved 4 December 2013, from http://www.scoi.com/dupuytrens-disease.php.

(5)¬† Clay, R MD. (1944). Dupuytren’s Contracture: Fibroma of the Palmar Fascia. In Dupuytren Foundation.org. Retrieved 4 December 2013, from http://dupuytrenfoundation.org/DupPDFs/1944_Clay_1188.pdf.

(6)¬† ¬†Johns Hopkins Staff. (n.d.). Dupuytren’s Contracture. In Johns Hopkins Medicine. Retrieved 4 December 2013, from http://www.hopkinsmedicine.org/healthlibrary/conditions/plastic_surgery/dupuytrens_contracture_85,P01110/.

(7)  Northside Hospital Staff. (n.d.). Carpal Tunnel Syndrome Related Media: Carpal Tunnel Release. In Northside Hospital (St. Petersburg FL). Retrieved 5 December 2013, from http://northsidehospital.reachlocal.com/?scid=3050457&kw=7472251&pub_cr_id=34057645591.

(8)  National Institute of Health Staff. (n.d.). Carpal Tunnel Syndrome Fact Sheet. In NIH National Institute of Neurological Disorders and Stroke. Retrieved 5 December 2013, from http://www.ninds.nih.gov/disorders/carpal_tunnel/detail_carpal_tunnel.htm.

(9)  University of Maryland School of Medicine Staff. (n.d.). Carpal Tunnel Syndrome. In University of Maryland Medical Center. Retrieved 5 December 2013, from http://umm.edu/health/medical/reports/articles/carpal-tunnel-syndrome.

Flibbertibibbet

THE FLIBBERTIGIBBET’S, “POST PITY PARTY LIST” FOR THE NEW RETIREE

So here I am. It’s Monday, September 23, 2013. Got laid off earlier this month. Loved my job, but really missing the social life I’ve had for two years at a great company with awesome co-workers.

To quote an oldie but goodie song, “It’s my party and I’ll cry if I want to!”

Poor, pitiful me.

Now although I must admit I’ve enjoyed the “Time to Relax” part¬†(even though I got bored by about day 11), my allotted two weeks¬†for¬†a¬†“Semi-Pity-Party” is¬†finally over and my new life as a retiree has¬†now commenced. Sort of.

Today is relegated to making a list, or schedule if you will, of how to proceed.¬† Oh yes…and cleaning the guinea pig cage and changing the cat litter, but that’s neither here nor there!

Yes, I know¬†it sounds kind of stupid, but only to those who don’t know me for the quintessential list maker that I am (is that a dangling participle??). Some would say, “What list? You know what needs doing, so just do it!”, right?

Wrong.

My brain doesn’t work like that. Unless there is a deadline, my mind will skip merrily around like a curious puppy…sniff a flower here, chase a rabbit there, watch a swarm of bees, spot a favourite chew toy (puppies have teeth, you see )…in other words, I’m the epitome of what Mother Superior refers to Maria in The Sound of Music: “A Flibbertigibbet“.

You see, in my world there is always such a wondrous choice of things to do that, when I start on one task, I’m very easily distracted into pursuing another one.

With me, it’s all, “Ok, I need to do this…no wait! Let me do that first…but no! I have to¬†take care of this other first, THEN finish that and¬†THEN I’ll do this….aww, shoot fire and save matches…wait, dang it! I need to finish this thing before I get to that thing and THEN I can do those other¬†things!”

BUT FIRST I need a cup of coffee…

Yeah.

Today is list making day…

You all have a great day doing whatever YOU do!

www.richardcrossenphotography.co.uk/

Life and Health Can Be Easy Like Sunday Mornin’!

Many thanks to Richard Crossen,¬†Pembrokeshire, West Wales, UK…photographer extraordinaire, for his kind permission to use his photos on this site. To see his wonderful collection of nature photographs, you can visit his gallery or his blog site

I’m a ‘glass half full’ kind of person. I¬†rarely worry about what I don’t have¬†because I’m¬†too busy being¬†thankful for the things I do have. Well, except when¬†my gas tank¬†has only one gallon in it¬†the day before payday.¬† If I had to define my thoughts on the subject, I’d say my outlook on life is “…easy like Sunday mornin’ ” (that’s a song from the ’60s for those who wouldn’t remember that era!).

A lot of times, when some great, blue funk or another tries to overtake¬†me,¬†my Granny¬†comes to mind. I remember¬†her always trying to¬†teach us that God takes care of His own, regardless of how hard we try to screw things up. She was good at backing up her beliefs with scripture, like “…behold the fowl of the air” or “…consider the lilies of the field” as a way of showing the difference between what we need and what we want.¬† Yes, I learned from an early age¬†to¬†see the best in every situation and to¬†find the¬†most positive¬†things¬†inside of¬†the worst possible scenarios.

This is what¬†true balance is all about. It’s taking life as it comes and striving to make each moment count for something positive. You know the old saying, “When life hands you lemons, learn to make lemonade!”

It’s easy enough¬†to fool yourself into feeling miserable simply by¬†wallowing in misery,¬†but by the same token it’s equally simple to fool yourself into being content, regardless of¬†how your life has transitioned. Finding something good either in¬†a situation, about¬†a situation or what good thing can¬†eventually happen because of¬†a situation¬†is the key to distracting you from¬†whatever¬†hardship you might be facing.

Your health is as much emotionally as physically based. You must learn to¬† b r e a t h e¬† when you feel stress creeping up on you. Find something relaxing to do whether it’s meditating, reading a good book, writing a letter to someone you love…or even just stopping your day and thinking deep thoughts!

Biofeedback, which became a ‘craze’ back in the ’60s,¬†has been¬†used to teach people to regulate their body rhythm and has¬†proven that they¬†can learn to¬†control many “automatic” physiological functions, including slowing the heart rate and lowering¬†blood pressure and¬†respiration (then again, so does yoga!). Considering that even these three functions alone can cause health problems, being able to control them can help you to avoid stress related¬†health conditions.

There are also simpler routes to controlling the “mind over matter” part of your health. You can schedule an at-home regime of relaxation, including meditation, aromatherapy and exercise using techniques designed to produce and¬†release natural endorphins, an opium-like hormone.

Also, if you don’t already belong to one, a¬†lot of spas and health clubs¬†offer¬†incentives for new members and specials for current ones, that may include anything from¬†deep tissue massage to¬†yoga classes¬†or¬†whirlpool spas to herbal wraps.¬†These great benefits¬†¬†can come by means of contests, filling out surveys, trial memberships or redeemable coupons.

Coupons for such things can be found in the newspaper or even online. The internet is a wonderful resource for finding the best deals in your area. You may even find purchasing clubs, such as Good Deals 24/7or Groupon that can help you save money on anything you need for health and beauty aids or even travel deals for a relaxing vacation.

Don’t wait until stress overtakes your life and creates illness and dis-ease (as in ‘un-easy health’) in your body. Even if life can be difficult it needn’t be hard to adapt to or accommodate its uncertainties. Learn to roll along this bumpy road with grace and acceptance. After a bit of practice, it almost becomes easy. Easy like Sunday morning.