Communion Of Dreams


That’s the problem with slaying dragons.
August 9, 2009, 1:06 pm
Filed under: Alzheimer's, General Musings, Guns, Health, SCA, Survival

An old SCA friend was in town for a visit, and we got together for lunch. After, we came back to the house, since she hadn’t been here since forever. As we went through the place, showing her how we had settled in, we got back here to my office where I also have my reloading bench and my big safe for guns and rare books waiting to be worked on. She hadn’t remembered that aspect of my life from way back when, and was a little curious. After discussing the matter a bit, she asked whether I also hunted.

“Haven’t in years, though I used to a fair amount. Grew up hunting. I’m thinking that it’s about time I did a bit again. We’ll see.”

* * * * * * *

I just checked my blood pressure. 123/90. Yeah, the diastolic is a little high, but my bp tends to be up a bit in the morning. Still, that is dramatically better than when I wrote this 11 months ago:

Actually, my blood pressure was scary bad. When the aide took it earlier, she was startled by how high it was. Let’s put it this way – it’s in the range where if it were just a bit higher, hospitalization would be indicated in most cases. If I walked into an ER with that blood pressure, people would start rushing around.

What was my bp then? Well, I was hesitant to say, since it was so bad, and I didn’t want to cause concern among my friends and family. But it was averaging 230/120. Like I said, scary bad.

But as time has gone on, and I have worked with my doc to tweak meds this way and that, we’ve gotten it under control. As I expected we would. Which has allowed me to write here that I am a lot healthier than I really have any right to be, considering the stresses I have placed myself under these past few years. So it was from that perspective that I had this email exchange with a friend this morning:

Me: “Though I don’t actually feel old yet. I did for a while, there, but not so much now.

Hmm. I should think more about that.”

My friend: “That would make sense, actually. You’re not in pain from your own chronic illness, nor exhausted from trying to be a caregiver for someone in the last throes of hers.”

* * * * * * *

I never really *enjoyed* hunting. Not in the sense some people think of hunting as just going out and killing things, anyway. No, I grew up hunting from a young age, and just took it for granted that it was something you did. When I got older, and grew more reflective on why I did the things I did, I still found that hunting was a good thing for me to do.

Why? Well, I thought then, and still think today, that if you are a meat-eater you should occasionally actually go kill something and then clean and butcher the animal. It helps keep me honest about the fact that with every bit of meat I eat that an animal died.

Oh, there are other aspects of hunting I enjoyed. Getting out in the woods/fields. Challenging my skill with firearms. Making me more aware of the sights and sounds around me. Maybe being with friends or family, though I have just as often hunted alone. I usually enjoyed sharing the meat with friends – wild game just tastes so much better, and few people have the opportunity these days to enjoy it.

But I didn’t enjoy cleaning the game, or even the actual killing part. Necessary, yes. But not enjoyable. Not for me.

* * * * * * *

I have been . . . avoiding . . . working on the caregiving book for the last couple of months. Oh, not consciously. But it is clear to me upon reflection that I have managed to keep myself too busy with this, or that, so that I never seemed to get back to working on the book.

It is about 2/3rds done. Maybe more. My co-author and I made huge progress on the book through the spring. Seriously, about two or three months of work would finish it.

Then why avoid it?

Well, I’ve been thinking about that a lot this last week or two. And I think that it has to do with the fact that I am feeling healthy. That I am largely recovered now from the years of being a care provider. Working on the book earlier this year helped a lot in getting me to this point – helped me to understand and see the whole experience in some context. Yeah, it was really emotional. But coming to terms with those emotions was a good thing. I feel like I have slain my dragons.

And now I just have the carcass to deal with.

Understanding this now, I think it’ll be relatively easy for me to get back to it. I have something to share with others – this isn’t so much about me working through my issues, not any more. It is about helping others to work through theirs. It is sharing the bounty of my hunt, as it were.

Jim Downey


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