Religion in Jail

When I was in jail in 1996, I was studying to be Jewish. I’d wanted to be a Jew for many years, eventually studying and debating for 15 years before deciding an atheist has no business converting to Judaism.

But, in jail in Orlando, I was, as far as I was concerned, Jewish.

jews

Christian Bibles were everywhere in jail. Laid on tables in the great room were many different types of Bibles, all Christian, however. When I asked to have a Jewish Bible (without the new testament), I was told my Rabbi would have to bring me one. I did not have a Rabbi to do this at the time, so went without.

All the reading material in the library were Christian “novels” (Historical Fiction). They were simple books, all with a Christian theme, usually a pioneer woman struggling to keep her family together and the husband always being the strong one who saved the day. It was revolting. Couldn’t we get mainstream books? Apparently, they only allowed certain organizations to bring in books and, of course, they were Christian outreach programs.

The absolute worst, though, were the Revivals. I don’t think they called them that, but I did.

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Our cells were in a square around the great room, bulletproof glass from ceiling to knee. Sounds flowed freely under the door.

Theo Lacy Facility jail

When the Christian church was called, I am sure every inmate attended but me. First, it was a chance to get out of the cell when it wasn’t time to be in the main room as well as a great way to blow off steam.

And yes, finding Jesus was a common theme among those in jail.

bible

But my preferred religion was really unhappy with these meetings. They quickly became raucously loud, “Praise Jesus” repeated over and over again. Singing hymns with intense passion.

I tried not to listen. I read (the Christian books!) or tried to write, but the singing and praising permeated my space.

It annoyed me no end.

I tried to cover my head with my blanket (no pillows in jail). I tried to sleep. None of it was successful in drowning out the Revival atmosphere.

Then I was extradited to San Diego and religion took on a whole different tone there. Sure, women were Christian. They had meetings and found Jesus, but they were subdued about it. When they went to pray together, they left the compound area and, from inner knowledge, they were quiet and prayerful, not raucous and praising Jesus with raised hands and stomping feet.

What a difference!

I can only think that jails in the south must do things differently than on the west coast. The food was certainly different, why not religion?

Muslim beads
Islamic Misbaha (Arabic: مسبحة mas’baha)

Halloween Candy

This was written for a 500-Word Snatch on Second Life… in 30 minutes.

The first day I remember it getting cold in Orlando was almost always on Halloween night. We’d have our flimsy costumes ready weeks in advance, then the night of Trick or Treating, we’d have to bundle up, covering our lovely Japanese kimonos or flowy Princess dresses. Not fun!

But we didn’t have to hide our pillowcases we’d hope to fill with candy that night.

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I was a fat kid. I am a fat adult. I loved Halloween! It was a day that lasted for weeks (if I played my portioning out decently). Candy, candy, candy.

This was in the olden days, back when we wandered alone, sans parents, always after dark, not before. We knocked on doors for a 5 block radius, knowing almost every person who opened a door. (Can you imagine that today? Ha!) This was also before the health food kick started encouraging folks to offer “healthy” treats… “Garbage” I would have thought in my youth.

3-girls

No, give me the Snickers, the Milky Way, the Three Musketeers. Chocolate, please. And more chocolate, please. Candy pumpkins were alright, candy corn, boring… Smarties? Well we could eat those in about 40 seconds. I marvel today we got candy cigarettes in our Halloween pillowcase. My kids didn’t believe me when I told them about them. “True stuff,” I said!

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After gathering the night’s haul, we’d go back to our respective homes, find a space big enough to hold the largesse and dump the goods out, ooh-ing and ah-ing at what we saw spilling out of the cotton sack. My eyes quickly assessed the haul and even midair, could pick what was going right into my mouth, what was going into my bowl for later and what was being tossed into the trash.

candy

Once the separations had been made, mom would come around to see what we had. Even if she was hovering over my head a mere 5 minutes after coming in from outside, I would have already hidden much of my stash, knowing she would want some of the goods herself. I was a piggy girl; hoarding food was normal for me. I learned it from mom.

When mom had moved on to the other kids, I began unwrapping what I’d chosen to eat before bed. Unwrapping the crinkly papers, I barely tasted what I popped into my mouth as I swallowed and was cramming in the next chocolate bar, my fingers having barely let go of the wrapper I’d just pulled off.

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Every Halloween, I was sick to my stomach by the time I was sent to bed, an hour past our usual bedtime. I’d lay between the sheets writhing in pain, but kept my mouth shut about it lest mom give me a lecture about trying to eat so much so fast. I knew, every year, when I sat down with my candy, still in my rumpled costume, that in about 20 minutes I would be so sick to my stomach, but I could not help myself with this candy free-for-all.

Yeah, Halloween. Delicious holiday tinged with a bit of a stomach-ache. Isn’t that like many holidays anymore?

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Starting Over – AGAIN!

Erg.

I lost my NavelgazingWriter.com URL and so had to start over with this URL. Such is life.

start over

I’ve been writing a lot more lately, almost always about food, but I am finding myself writing about midwifery again, it mostly on the periphery, but it is still there.

I have several stories to add here and need to get photos to go with them, but I am excited about where this is going to go.

Instead of thinking about publishing into a book, which I think was really stifling me, I am just going to write here. For me. For my kids. To make people laugh and think: I have a story just like that to tell!

DO IT!

Let’s write together!

writer

Anxiety Attack? O, There You Are!

Last night I was talking to my cublet, we were ranting a lot about that Hitlerian President-Elect, sharing our thoughts, our fears… our terror… with each other and then I needed to write.

computerthink

Descending Distress

So I went to work on Stunned, Shocked & Saddened and right as I got to the end, I began to feel crappy, then worse, my heart started racing, my stomach was in knots, I began sweating like a piglaletta and finally I told my cub, “I feel like shit! I need to go lay down.”

Once I was on laying on my bed feeling horrid, I began breathing deep to try and lessen the distress.

Then I thought, “Oh, I recognize this. This is an Anxiety Attack.”

I situated myself on the bed, laying down, feeling my body’s frantic fight to keep control over my mind, but I strong-armed the panic so I could do my Mindfulness exercises.

I felt the sheets under my arms and legs… listened to the air conditioner’s humming… smelled the scent of cinnamon from the witch’s broom I have in the corner.

breathe

Working Through the Experience

When I could, I texted my cub that it was an Anxiety Attack so he wouldn’t worry. He then asked if I had meds for that.

My cub is under 30-years old and has zero experience with mental illness, so his frame of reference is me. On meds. Getting new meds, getting them adjusted, and making sure I take them properly. While he knows I do Mindfulness Meditation and that I use it at times of stress, he doesn’t know Anxiety would have been one of those times.

Later, when I could explain better, I shared that I grew up in a Pill-for-Every-Ailment kind of family, so I have always seen meds as a free-for-all. My mom, sister and I have all been addicted to pills of one kind or another… my sister dying of an overdose of pain meds, mainly the 4 Fentanyl patches she had on when they found her. I am now about 2.5 years clean from Opiates (Percocet & Norco). I then shared that while acknowledging my forever-need for Psych meds, I do try to minimize other meds where I can.

Anti-Anxiety meds (Benzodiazepines)  are one of those types of meds I would rather not be using. I tried them when I had the Agoraphobia and hated them; I was doped into a stupor. I was on a dozen other meds including the opiates, so probably to be expected, but still. So I made the choice to not use the Benzos, but Mindfulness and Mindfulness Meditation instead.

Back for Good?

zappy-heart

The picture above is so accurate, showing the electrical currents zapping the brain and heart, sending them surging into overdrive… often for no apparent reason. Mental ones that are short circuiting, sure, but often for nothing we can pinpoint.

I was confused why the Panic Attack even hit in the first place, but my cublet reminded me (lovingly and gently) that the (fucking) Election has brought out intense emotions and then I spent a lot of time writing the previous post. Then the Panic consumed me.

Now that I remember what they feel like, I am on alert (not HIGH alert, though) for when/if it comes a’callin’ again.

Of course, I hope I don’t have another, but if I do, I am ready…

…to breathe.

Anemia: Iron Infusions Begin

I’ve been anemic for years.

Malabsorption

I had the Roux-en-Y Gastric Bypass in 2001. Immediately, I was responsible for taking a handful of supplements to:

  • keep my iron up
  • keep my B12 up (part of iron, I know)
  • take care of calcium in my body
  • make sure I got all sorts of micro-nutrients

I admit, I slacked over the years.

I have had chronic anemia for over a decade, it finally running to a hemoglobin of 9 a few months ago, unresponsive to oral meds (liquid and pills). I also have osteoporosis.

sigh

I welcomed the malabsorption in the beginning, loving the knowledge that lots of my food was just flowing through. Until I learned that was not what was going on.

Now I’m paying for it.

Iron Deficiency Exhaustion

I do not even know what it’s like to not be exhausted. Or to walk not-very-far and be gasping for breath. I am always wanting a “nap.” It’s all become a normal part of my life.

Hematology for the Win!

I finally saw a Hematologist a couple of weeks ago. She was amazing. She jumped up on the exam table, crossed her legs so she was tailor sitting and listened to me rattle off my medical history for the next 20 minutes. Interactive, looking into my eyes and knowing exactly what questions to ask… she was really one of the best doctors I’ve ever seen.

Once I shut my mouth, it didn’t take 30 seconds for her to say, “I think we need to start iron infusions next week. We’ll bring you in once a week for the next 6 weeks.” I was giddy with excitement and let her know how happy I was.

My Labs

That day, 8 vials of blood were taken and my abnormal labs are this:

  • WBC: 11.1 – Normal Range: (4.5 – 11.0)
  • ANC: H 8.3 – (1.3 – 8)
  • Hgb: L 9.5 – (12-16)
  • Hct.: L 29.5 – (36 – 48)
  • RDW: L 7.7 – (11.5 – 14.5)
  • Platelets: H 545 – (150 – 450)
  • Monocytes: L 0.8 – (1.1 – 7.4)
  • UIBC: H 419 – (13 – 46)
  • Ferritin: L 4 – (20 – 200)
  • Iron Sat %: L 7.7 – (25 – 35)
  • B12: L 208 – (<450)

 

 

 

 

 

 

http://www.mayoclinic.org/diseases-conditions/iron-deficiency-anemia/symptoms-causes/dxc-20266514

 

Orinoco Flow

One day, driving with the kids in the car, I heard this amazing new song. I was blown away and knew I needed the music immediately.

I drove to the Record Store. (ha! Remember those?!?)

tower

Going in, I went to the clerks, explaining I had just heard this song on the radio, had no clue who it was, but thought I knew the song’s title: Sail Away. They looked at me like I was a nut, but I was undeterred. I began singing the Sail Away refrain, kids standing with me kind of laughing at their mother singing (with a not such a good voice) in a strange store. The staff politely listened, but said they had no idea. Ugh. Some help they were.

I stomped towards the cassette section, kidlets traipsing behind me. I started at the A’s, walking down, then up, then down aisle after aisle, totally blind as to what I was looking for.

Suddenly, I stopped, turned to my right, reached over and pulled a cassette out. It was Enya‘s Watermark. Never heard of her. I turned it to where I could see the songs and I was quite stunned to see “Orinoco Flow (Sail Away) on the song list. I was thrilled.

enya-watermark

I have no explanation for how I knew exactly where to reach out in those racks of cassettes. It was the first (and only) cassette I touched that day. It still baffles me.

Enya & Birth Playlists

By the time I was doing home births, Enya was in her prime. It seemed she serenaded scores of babies into the world. For awhile, it was really nice. Then it was tedious. And finally irritating to listen to the same music over and over and over and over again. I got to a place where if I never heard Enya again, it would be too soon.

smiling

Native American music eventually replaced Enya for birth playlists, it following the same frustrating over-kill she had a few years earlier. I don’t have any idea what the fashion is at the moment.

I am listening to Watermark right as I write this, repeating “Orinoco Flow” several times. It really is so lovely.