News, Views, Rantings & Ramblings by Carey Parrish
- Name: Carey Parrish
- Location: Georgia, United States
Friday, November 15, 2013
Three weeks ago I suffered a heart attack. In medical terminology, this is called a Myocardial Infarction. It's what happens when a portion of the cardiac muscle is deprived of oxygen long enough that damage occurs. This is what I experienced. I was at work that morning, and fortunately I work in a hospital so I was in the right place at the right time, and I received the care I needed. In the next few days, I will go back to work and resume my normal life.
But what is a "normal" life?
I've been given three weeks to digest what happened to me. I shouldn't be surprised that I had a heart attack because cardiac disease runs in my family on both sides. Yet I am appalled to know that I did suffer this event. It is something I consider an affront. Maybe this is arrogant of me to feel this way but I do and that's that.
These last three weeks have given me a lot of time to ruminate on the details of what happened to me. It has also made me feel very vulnerable in my mortal life. You see, eleven years ago two of my cousins, who were only a little older than I am right now, died suddenly from heart attacks. One was 47 and the other was 52. The latter didn't have to die but he did because the physician who performed the intervention following his heart attack punctured a coronary artery and then didn't respond to the pages from the staff in the heart cath suite when they were trying to reach him once my cousin began "crashing," as we in the medical field say. But I digress.
I had a heart attack just like they did. My maternal grandfather died after several heart attacks and my paternal grandfather also had coronary artery disease, which required that he undergo angioplasty to thwart it. My grandmother on my mother's side had a triple bypass in 1989. My paternal grandmother, to my knowledge, is the only grandparent I had who did not have heart disease. My dad also had it, as it was determined about ten years ago that he too suffered a myocardial infarction, although his was considered a "silent heart attack" and neither he or his doctors knew about it until after the fact. So I shouldn't be surprised that I traveled the same path as they all did.
But when it's you it feels totally different. For one thing, I am sure that had I been at home when the episode began I would have almost certainly just stretched out on the sofa and waited for the "spell" to pass. I wouldn't have recognized it as a cardiac event. And when they did my heart cath it was discovered that my MI was caused by a ninety percent blockage in a section of my right coronary artery. So that means, had I been home when this happened to me, I would have just rested until the acute phase was over and in a few days the ninety percent blockage would have either totally occluded the artery or a clot would have completed it, and I would likely have died at that point. Just like my two cousins.
This isn't comforting knowledge, friends.
But things didn't turn out that way. I was already at work the morning this befell me and I did receive the care I required. I was transferred to a hospital with a cardiac unit, had a heart cath and then a stent placement to reopen the artery that was being constricted, and am now on a slew of new medications to help me prevent a repeat of this experience. I am also learning a healthier diet and a better physical exercise regimen to assist me in my quest for better cardiac health.
I was just this week released to return to my job in a few more days. I am very relieved to be getting back to my normal routine as well. Three and a half weeks off have been excruciating at times. For one thing, daytime television blows out loud and I've not, for some reason, been able to focus on any writing projects. (How diabolical!) In other words, much of the time I've been bored out of my skull and can't wait to resume a schedule which will keep me occupied physically and mentally for most of the day.
Yet not everything about this forced time off has been negative. I've gotten to spend some quality time with my family and for that I am extremely grateful. My mother has been battling some serious physical ailments for the past year and having extra time to be with her has been a godsend. I've also had additional hours to devote to meditation and chanting, that have strengthened my spirit for the journey ahead during which I plan to lead a healthier lifestyle. These "bonuses" are worth their weight in gold.
Things I'll miss about being home every day? For one, I have gotten far too used to sleeping in each morning. Rising at four a.m. again will be a jolt to the system. Also, I've let myself become much too habited to having a late morning nap every day. This I will have to forego with my return to work next week. Also, and this is a minor point, but when I was growing up my mother and grandmother always had their "stories" they watched each afternoon. There is only one "story" that I grew up with still on the air now. Days Of Our Lives is something I've never truly given up and since I've been off I've found myself turning the TV over to NBC every weekday afternoon at one o'clock to see the residents of Salem again. The Soap Channel shows each day's episode of DOOL every evening at eight and therefore I can continue watching if I so choose without much of a hiatus.
So I've recovered from my heart attack and am now ready to go back to my normal life again. I feel very lucky to be doing so beginning in a couple of days. I struggle with wondering if I will ever feel as secure in my body again as I did before this episode unfolded, but I won't waste time worrying about it because doing so would be futile. No one knows what the future holds and to put off enjoying life to worry about what may or may not happen doesn't make very much sense. I shall simply go from one day to the next enjoying the time I have and planning for my future, but realizing that today is all that is really important.
Normal life, I'm ready!
And that is my sole focus for now.
Saturday, October 26, 2013
So I Had A Heart Attack
This entire past year has been one of the most trying I can recall. Between illness in my family and unusual stress at work, both my personal and professional lives have been difficult. Yet this past Wednesday something happened that I wasn’t expecting and that put me in a position I definitely was not comfortable with or ready to face.
I had a heart attack. I was at work on Wednesday morning when my left hand began to suddenly ache. And it wasn’t a pain I’d felt before either. This was like having a toothache in the muscle just below my left thumb. It throbbed. Then my left elbow became involved. This progressed to my jaw feeling “funny.” I had this incredibly anxious feeling as well; like I was doomed or something. My chest didn’t hurt but it felt like a pressure was assaulting it. I knew I having a “spell” of some sort but I didn’t expect it to be a heart attack.
A friend of mine insisted I go back to the emergency room and they must have known something was wrong when they looked at me because they went into action. I couldn’t shake that feeling of anxiety and my hand was killing me. My friends at work did everything the current standards say to do. I was given aspirin and oxygen and put on a cardiac monitor. I received nitroglycerin, Ativan for the anxiety, and then Morphine for the pain when the nitro didn’t completely relieve it. After a while I was easy and resting again.
Over the course of the next few hours my lab work revealed that I had indeed suffered a myocardial infarction. I was transferred to a hospital where they have a cardiac unit. The cardiologist in charge of my care is someone I’ve known for a long time and who I trust. He explained to me what the treatment plan was going to be. It was a surreal experience to be on that side of the scene. After so many years being the nurse, I was the patient and I didn’t quite like it.
The next day I underwent a heart catheterization which revealed a 90% occlusion in a portion of my right coronary artery. A stent was placed, the blood flow to my cardiac muscle returned to normal, and I went back to my room. A slew of new medications were ordered for me and I began receiving education on what to expect now and what to do after discharge. It all still felt surreal but there I was and I absorbed every detail they gave me. On Friday it was determined that I was well enough to come home.
I never had another episode of pain like the one which started this whole event.
Now I’m on the other side of a heart attack. I am to start cardiac rehab soon. I’m taking my new prescriptions as I’ve been instructed to do. I am off work for two weeks; something I wasn’t happy about but which my research has revealed to be standard practice. Everything I Googled, from the American Heart Association to the Mayo Clinic, indicated that most people can return to work after an MI with intervention in two to three weeks if they do well and if there wasn’t a lot of damage. So this impromptu time off is another thing I need to get used to, I guess.
But it feels odd to be here. I’ve had a lot of illness in my life but knowing I had a heart attack isn’t comfortable knowledge. I’m going to have to redefine some things in my lifestyle if I want to prevent a recurrence of this experience. I have to be better to myself now and get used to taking medications that once I only taught others how to take. I also have to learn how to take things slower with less stress. Can I do it?
I have family members who are depending upon me right now because of other obligations in my personal life. I have a job that needs me to be present in order to prepare for upcoming events there. A part of me feels like I’m letting everyone down but I realize that if I don’t do the things that have been laid out for me to do I might not be able to satisfy any of my obligations. I have no choice but to do what I have to do in order to return to my normal life.
So I had a heart attack. Just like millions of other people do each year. I had an intervention to correct the problem that caused this. I am recovering and looking forward to getting back to myself again. It’s not going to be easy to take things slower for a while and to be “better” to myself. But I can do it. In hindsight, I’ve done much more difficult things than this. And I likely will have to face more daunting tasks in the future.
I’m strong and I’m tough. Anyone who knows me can testify that challenges aren’t things I slink away from. I typically come out on the good side of anything. This will be no different. I feel it.
So I’m off to get started.
Monday, July 22, 2013
Today marked yet another milestone for me on my journey through life. I turned a year older. It was a fabulous day and I was surrounded by family and friends who love me and are always there for me. I couldn't be happier or luckier.
Now firmly installed in my middle age, I must say that this time in my life is giving me the best years of my life. Being well into the second half of my forties, I feel empowered and in control of my destiny in a way I've not experienced in the past. I'm not being naïve either. One thing life has taught me is that there is no such thing as security; that is merely an illusion. We must strive each day to do the best we can and to make every opportunity that comes along a positive experience. This is about choice.
I am happy because I choose to be happy. Like everyone else I know, I've had more than my share of sadness and bad times in the past. Most likely, I'll have the same amount in the future as well. The difference is whereas I once resented and suffered through the negative episodes I have learned to be objective about them. I don't see these things as being against me anymore. I have learned to be proactive about my life and to plan and organize myself for whatever comes along by planning and organizing the present - today - so that I feel more ownership of myself. We are all basically at the whim of fate but we can minimize the impact of life's developments if we accept our own accountability in the events we involve ourselves in.
No matter what has happened to me in the past, I know that my own actions and choices allowed me to be in whatever position I happened to be in at the time. And I accept this fact. I learn from my past rather than ruminate over it or become mired in depression over the bad things that happened. And even when we find ourselves in the worst circumstances, there is always something to be gained from having gone through them. There are only a few events in my life that I now truly regret. Why? Because I've seized the lessons that these episodes taught me and I choose to expound on these rather than pass up the opportunity to turn them into useful experiences.
Karma is something in which I firmly believe. I am convinced that whatever we put out into the universe will come back to us. My combined practices of Nichiren Shoshu Buddhism and Transcendental Meditation have given me the insight to accept my own responsibility for my life and to carve the life I want for myself out of the remnants of my own past. I can't move forward if I can't let the past be the past. Yesterday doesn't matter anymore. Other than the life lessons you take away from your yesterdays, nothing in the past can effect you today unless you allow it to do so. The key to achieving this clarity lies in your ability to put your focus on today and tomorrow rather than in events that have come and gone.
And this is why I feel so empowered by these years of my life. I am free to be myself and to make my plans for the future and to accomplish anything I choose to attempt because I know that I have overcome my past and in having realized this I can achieve my future. If I set realistic goals for myself and if I am willing to work toward them then the only stumbling block I will face is myself. If I believe in myself I can move mountains.
So today I turned a year older. I had a wonderful birthday with my family and my friends around me. I received so much love and so much support that this day was a complete success for me. I believed it could be so and it was. As I move into this new year, and the next one after this, I will continue to put my faith into my own abilities. I will keep living each day as it dawns and I will not let the past define my future. I will continue to accept myself as I am, with all the flaws life has given me and with all the experience I've acquired through them, and I will become a better, happier person because of everything that has led me to today.
And I wish each and every one of you the blessing of learning to do the same thing for yourself. You can be happy and content or you can be miserable and resentful. It's your choice.
Wednesday, June 26, 2013
Tears Left Over
“We hold these truths to be self-evident, that all men are created equal, that they are endowed by their Creator with certain unalienable Rights, that among these are Life, Liberty and the pursuit of Happiness.”
This line from the Declaration of Independence is perhaps the best known sentence in the English language. It perfectly captures the essence of equality and what that meant to the men who established this nation. These were people who were desperately trying to escape an oppressive and unfair existence under King George III and the British Empire. And in no manner does it separate people into classes or castes. It applies to ALL Americans, no matter who you are or what you believe or how you worship – or don’t – or who you love.
This has been a very important day in the evolution of the United States. Equality has once again been brought front and center and once again it has been upheld. In declaring the Defense of Marriage Act unconstitutional and by declining to rule on the Proposition 8 challenge, the Supreme Court effectively said that same sex spouses are entitled to the same rights as opposite sex couples and that marriage is not just the union of one man and one woman. Same sex marriages may now resume in California and there will be little to keep this equality from spreading throughout the rest of the country. It’s already legal in twelve other states and the District of Columbia.
For a long time I’ve felt that once the Supreme Court was asked to rule on a same sex marriage lawsuit the matter would be dealt with and in a fair and just manner. And I was right. The Supreme Court has a pretty good track record when it comes to fairly applying the law. People who oppose gay marriage on religious or moral claims are wearing blinders when it comes to equality and the rights of the individual. They feel that it’s okay to vote away civil rights and to say that because their religion or their philosophy opposes gay marriage then everyone else must be held to their standards. And that isn’t equality. It’s oppression, plain and simple. This country was not built on that ideology.
Like millions of other people, I was very happy with today’s rulings by the Supreme Court. It paves the way for everyone to enjoy the same rights when it comes to love and marriage and the responsibility of the government to recognize these rights. Yet I still feel a great deal of sadness for all those who’ve been deprived of their rights who cannot now enjoy them because they passed away before the law enforced them.
I think of Thea Spyer, who felt that she was providing for her partner, Edie Windsor. It was Edie who brought the lawsuit challenging DOMA. Edie and Thea were married in Canada and when Thea died of ALS, Edie was informed that her tax burden due to Thea’s bequest would be north of $300,000. The IRS told her that her marriage was not recognized in the United States. It is because of Edie’s courage and determination that no other same sex spouse will have to go through what she did. But my heart breaks for all those who up to this point have been subjected to such unfair practices by their government and I am equally saddened by how Thea would have felt had she known that her wishes to take care of Edie would come at such a cost.
I think of Del Martin and Phyllis Lyon, who lived together as a married couple for over thirty years, and who were eventually allowed to legally marry but just a short time before Del passed away. That two consenting adults who love each other and want to be married had to go through so many years of being treated like second class citizens before their desire to tell the whole world that they were in love and wanted to be married could be fulfilled. And all the millions of other people who have been denied the right to marriage because an unjust society refused to recognize their right to love whomever they choose, my heart goes out to them as well.
For you see that’s what marriage is. It is the culmination of a union between two people who love each other and who are willing to make a public statement to that effect. All they want is what opposite sex couples can freely have. It is not for society to determine who someone should love or who someone should spend his/her life with either. Love is universal. In denying a person the right to wed because said person might be in love with someone of the same sex, society is in effect telling them that they aren’t as good as their heterosexual counterparts. And that goes against the Declaration of Independence where it stipulates that “all men are created equal.”
So while today is a landmark moment in the fight for equal rights in the United States, there are still so many tears left over for those who were not given the same consideration that the Supreme Court said today was due them. Those people will never know the freedom that today’s rulings extend to their descendants. Just as slavery once shackled millions of African Americans who did not live to see their emancipation, there are multitudes of LGBT citizens who will not know the joy that today has brought. At least we didn’t have to go to war to bring about the changes that are now unfolding.
Or did we?
Sunday, June 23, 2013
Book Review - Moral Authority by Jacob Z. Flores
Most debut novels quickly vanish after their release. Only occasionally does one stand out and receive the accolades it deserves. Such is the case with Moral Authority. Writer Jacob Z. Flores has crafted a story, told from three points of view, that resonates with readers because of its relevance to headlines of today.
Mark, Isaac, and Samuel are three very different young men living in America in the year 2050. For more than thirty years, The Moral Authority has held considerable sway over the nation and is in fact a fourth branch of the federal government. Conservatism run amok, The Moral Authority exerts its controlling tentacles over society by requiring citizens to live according to its edicts or risk criminalization if they don’t.
Mark is bold and daring. Samuel is corrupted by power. Isaac is remorseful of his past. As the story unfolds, the reader becomes entangled in their lives. One will find true love in a barren place. One will find a redemption for himself that he isn’t expecting. One is destined to fight to hold onto his way of life by any means necessary. Dominating each is the painful reality of either following the law of The Moral Authority or living in the perpetual jeopardy that personal freedom entails.
With the question of equality unsettled in the world of today, Moral Authority is a book that gives its audience a look at what the future might be like if lawmakers of the present yield to religious and conservative pressures, restricting rights instead of embracing them. Echoes of Orwell permeate the story without overshadowing it, adding to the message that it conveys, resulting in a novel that is likely larger in scope and importance than it intended to be. Moral Authority is an impressive debut for Mr. Flores.
4 ½ Stars.
Amazon.com Link: Moral Authority
Sunday, June 2, 2013
The unending sentence is a long stream of words for which there is no period as there is no end to the thought process which creates it as is the stream of consciousness that flows endlessly from the maker of the sentence whose thoughts are ever flowing and expressing themselves but sometimes not while the thinker goes on thinking and the words go on flowing whether spoken or left silent and still the thoughts go on and in the mind there are no periods to end sentences because the author is the brain and the brain knows no boundaries and the thinker is a captive of his own thoughts trying ceaselessly to put order to them and never quite succeeding only he thinks that he is and the train of thought goes on and on and on and on…
Copyright © 2008 by Carey Parrish
Sunday, May 26, 2013
A Portrait of Nancy Green
If you ask most people who Aunt Jemima is, most likely the reply will be a pancake mix and syrup. While this is true, it is also a generalization as the story of the original Aunt Jemima is pure Americana.
The Aunt Jemima pancake story began in the 1880’s when newspaper man Chris Rutt and a friend named Charles Underwood bought the Pearl Milling Company and had the idea of developing and marketing a ready-mixed and self-rising pancake flour. The name “Aunt Jemima” was inspired by a vaudeville show that Rutt attended where he heard a song of the same name sung by a minstrel performer in blackface wearing an apron and a bandana. The product was met with favorable results and in 1890 the two men decided to expand the marketing of their product by employing a woman to personify the fictional Aunt Jemima.
Nancy Green was 56 years old when she was hired by Rutt and Underwood to bring Aunt Jemima to life. She was known for her excellent cooking and for her warm, approachable manner. She began promoting the pancake mix at shows around the Midwest. Her rapport with her audience was a rousing success. In 1893 the popularity of both the product and Green was so great that the rechristened Davis Milling Company began an aggressive campaign to increase sales. They took Green and Aunt Jemima to the World’s Columbian Exposition in Chicago where she prepared pancakes before thousands in character as Aunt Jemima. Her appeal was such a crowd pleaser that special policemen were utilized to keep the masses moving through her booth. More than fifty thousand units of Aunt Jemima pancake mix were sold. Nancy Green was such a success at the Expo that she was awarded a medal by its organizers and Davis Milling offered her a lifetime contract.
This amazing success belonged to a woman who was one of the first groundbreaking African-American women in history.
Portrait of Nancy Green as Aunt Jemima by A.B. Frost
Nancy Green was born a slave on March 4, 1834 in Montgomery County, Kentucky. Not a lot is known about her early life. Following the Civil War and her emancipation in 1865, she moved north and worked as a cook and a housekeeper. She was married to a man named Hiram Green. The couple had two children who predeceased her and she was widowed by the time of her employment in 1890 by Davis Milling.
With her sudden popularity in middle age, Green became one of the first African-American spokespersons and her portrayal of Aunt Jemima made her a living trademark. She became famous on a national scale and used her notoriety to expand her career. She was soon travelling as a storyteller along with her work as Aunt Jemima. Her shows were almost always sold out events and her warm persona gave her an enduring following with audiences everywhere she went.
Nancy used her fame as well as the money she made from her work to bring attention to the plight of African-Americans struggling in poverty to survive in the years following the Civil War. She became one of the first black philanthropists and her efforts to improve the quality of life of her contemporaries would help lay the foundation for generations which followed her in what would become the Civil Rights Movement.
Nancy Green died at age 89 on September 23, 1923 from injuries sustained in an automobile accident in Chicago. She was still performing as Aunt Jemima right up until the end.
In the decades following her death, the Aunt Jemima character would be recast and portrayed by a variety of actresses. The logo would change as well but the warmth of the character would not be lost. Even in the sixties, when the Aunt Jemima characterization became reviled by civil rights activists in much the same manner as Uncle Tom, the smiling face and inviting demeanor of the trademark would not be tarnished.
The legacy Nancy Green left for those who’ve followed her is one of courage, talent, and the indomitable strength of the human spirit. The success this woman achieved remains enviable. That this impressive distinction belongs to a woman who was born into slavery, worked her way through life in the bleak years for African-Americans that succeeded the Civil War, and culminated in one of the first celebrity statuses attained by a black woman is inspiring. Her name is inscribed in the annals of American history with dignity and with pride in what one person can accomplish no matter what odds they face.
Nancy Green is a legend. And rightfully so.