Thursday, November 27, 2008


Carolina Wren

I've never been much of a fan of Thanksgiving as a holiday. I have never liked turkey, or football, or loud family gatherings. But today is turning out a bit differently. It's a very pleasant, quiet day, with my wife and son in the kitchen preparing food. I'm spending most of my time trying to stay out of the way (wife and son will probably later testify as to my failure in this regard), and watching the birds, and squirrels, on the deck. It's just the three of us today, as other son and grandparents are off with other family in other cities.

I slept fitfully last night, with many long dream sequences. This is my brain having "jangly" issues, but not being awake to know it. A pleasant change was that the dreams seemed to resolve fairly well. Often when I have these symptoms the dreams are either somehow "off" - unsettling topics or imagery - or they involve scenarios where I'm trying and failing to do something, get somewhere, etc.

On waking, my physical symptoms are immediately obvious, like full body aches, which are common, but the neuro stuff usually takes a half hour or so to make itself known. Today was no different. Sore on waking. It's an odd feeling - the soreness is low-level, but everywhere, like the feet and ankles, and hands, as well as neck, back, shoulders. Otherwise I felt pretty well.

I fed the dog and wanted to feed the birds, as they were on the deck looking for their breakfast, but I'd taken the feeder in last night so the squirrels didn't destroy it before I got up. Yesterday I bought the couple of band clamps I needed to try out my newest idea - lashing a tall iron pole with a hook at the top to the deck railing. This pole normally lives in the garden, holding a hanging planter. So, I set this up within a few minutes this morning. While I was working, I guess I was fairly quiet because not three feet away a male downy woodpecker landed on the railing, wanting to peck at the suet cake that was soon to be mounted on the new hanger. We shared a few moments, and he flew off.

All done now, the birds are coming like crazy within moments of hanging the feeder. It's a sure thing. No squirrel can climb that thin pole all the way to the feeder. Ha ha.

Incidentally, I've decided not to use the BB gun anymore, as I really do like the squirrels. I don't mind feeding them, I just don't want them to take ALL the food. So, after I prove that this new hanger is completely inaccessible, I'll figure out some kind of squirrel feeder.

Ten minutes later I'm thinking about the BB gun again, as I see a squirrel sitting right up on top of the huge pole. What the heck? I take care not to startle him as I scold him, because he's in a precarious spot, with a long drop off the pole, 15 feet to the ground. So he climbs down, and I shoo him away, at the same time apologizing for shooting him yesterday. No wonder they show me no respect, right?

I gave in and spread some cracked corn and sunflower seeds on the deck railing. The squirrels tucked in for their Thanksgiving dinner. The nuthatches joined in, as they have a difficult time landing on the feeder. They're more of a tree-creeping bird.

I know it sounds like I'm some kind of bird nut. Not really. I just started feeding the birds (and squirrels) last winter, while I was sitting home with Lyme. Watching the little critters really helps take me out of myself, and stop focusing on my health all the time. And they make me smile, which is very good medicine. Just yesterday for the first time I saw a Carolina Wren (above). They're very serious looking little birds, running around on the deck railing squatting when they call, like they're so intent on getting someone to pay attention. Pretty funny.

In working through this illness, I find I feel much better about things if I try to accomplish even just one tiny positive thing each day. And it's even better if that thing benefits someone else (even squirrels).

After watching the birds for a bit, it was time to take my morning dose of diflucan. Within a couple of minutes I found myself wandering aimlessly, frowning, foggy but with an unfocused anxiety that is the hallmark of the "jangly" state. Sigh. Taking a long shower helped a bit, concentrating on the water hitting my body. A good distraction.

Partly I'm writing like this today because it's one of those emotional roller coaster lyme days, when everything's very near the surface. And partly because it's Thanksgiving, and I have SO MUCH to be thankful for. A partial list:
  • A firm diagnosis. I may have problems, but I know why, and am able to work on getting better.
  • My family, for their understanding and patience.
  • Periods of clarity, which I used to take for granted, and now seem so poignantly sweet.
  • Life, and the ability to perceive beauty around me.
  • Not least, my wonderful lyme-literate doctor, Dr. Phillips.

Happy Thanksgiving everybody.