Worlds Within Worlds: A Look Inside Mental Illness

Worlds Within Worlds: A Look Inside Mental Illness
As I wait for contacts in Cuba and Tobago/Trinidad to answer interview questions, my mind ponders the concept of worlds. Worlds we live in and worlds we create. Worlds that have no visible boundaries. Private worlds, of isolation, sadness,and suffering. Today, I brushed past one of those worlds on my morning walk along the river... Read more »

Living in Ecuador, Where Nature is so Respected it is Granted Constitutional Rights

Living in Ecuador, Where Nature is so Respected it is Granted Constitutional Rights
Lying roughly 600 miles off the coast of Ecuador lie the Galapagos Islands, which are owned by Ecuador. These islands, home to ecosystems and animals that do not exist anywhere else in the world, have long fascinated and inspired scientists around the world. Scientists like Charles Darwin, whose experience and observations in the Galapagos helped... Read more »

Thinking of the Cousin I Never Knew on Memorial Day

Thinking of the Cousin I Never Knew on Memorial Day
A version of this post was first published on May 29, 2016. His name was Robert Eugene Enright. He was a farmer who grew up in Madison County, Iowa. Robert was my mother’s cousin. My grandfather’s only nephew. I never knew him. My cousin Mary, who is now in her 80s, told me that her... Read more »
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Remembering My Mother's Life as a Script Girl and Hand Model for Wilding Studios

Remembering My Mother's Life as a Script Girl and Hand Model for Wilding Studios
Red. They were always red. But not just any red. Mom’s nails were postwar red. A red as moist as Marilyn Monroe’s flirty pout. A red with the durability of a fade resistant, waterproof, glossy Earl Shieb auto paint job. That positive, all-things-are-possible-red that clung to wagons, bicycles, balls, and swings in the 1950s. Some... Read more »

Life in the Windiest City in the World: Wellington, New Zealand.

Life in the Windiest City in the World: Wellington, New Zealand.
Any Chicagoan knows our city’s reputation as the “Windy City,” is about politics, not wind. In Wellington, New Zealand, however, it’s all about wind. Considered the windiest city in the world, Wellington once clocked winds at 154 mph near the city’s centre. As depicted in Solace in the Wind, a waterfront sculpture of a man leaning... Read more »

How My Husband's Wallenberg Syndrome Stroke Stopped My World

How My Husband's Wallenberg Syndrome Stroke Stopped My World
I have not posted here in nearly two months. It is not because I've lost interest in talking to the world. It is because, on March 19, my own world stopped spinning. On March 16, my husband had prostate surgery. All went well. But three days later, following increasing bouts of nausea, migraines, and constant dizziness, he had a stroke. A rare stroke I had never heard of: Wallenberg Syndrome Stroke, caused by a blocked artery to the brain. It is a sobering experience to stand over the person you love at three in the morning while ER monitors beep, hospital coats swish past, and the suffering continues. Time loses all significance. Explanations about what may be happening come quickly, then are changed. Suspension of reality sets in. Denial. I suppose that is what shock is. There are tests. And more tests. A transport to a different hospital. A staggering litany of complex medical facts to digest and feed to concerned family and friends. Legalities to attend to. And waiting. Days of waiting. Wondering, if the newest batch of pain meds will cut my husband's crushing migraine. Allow him to eat without vomiting.  Open his eyes. It was two weeks before the darkened cave of my husband's hospital room saw light. Before he was able to sit up and eat a real meal without fear of nausea. Before we could have a conversation. Before his pain receded to a four out of ten. Before I saw him take his first shakey steps down the hospital corridor. Before we tried to make sense of what had happened to him. What we almost lost. Driving home from the hospital -- more than an hour from home -- I was hit with numbing fatigue. Once home, the tears came. The fear of living without the love of my life.  But it did not last long. What I know about me and my husband is that we are willing to accept the limitations life might place upon us. But we won't do it without a fight. For the last two weeks, my husband did just that: he fought. Did more than his share of rehab exercises. The nurses and doctors on the rehab floor of the hospital called him their "rockstar lab rat." They'd never seen someone come back so well after Wallenberg Syndrome and be able to verbalize what the symptoms were leading up to the stroke. The day before Easter, my husband came home. He has lost none of his cognitive skills. He still beats me at Scrabble. His humor and wit are intact. Today, he walked to work. As we drove up the street to our house on his first day home, my husband looked out the window and said the world looked new again. Everything. Brand new. Colors were more vivid. The light clearer. I know what he means...
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Amid Oil Fields, Through Misty Clouds, A Life in Azerbaijan Flourishes

Amid Oil Fields, Through Misty Clouds, A Life in Azerbaijan Flourishes
Finding Mehriban A couple of months ago, at my monthly writers lunch, a friend told me her son had recently spent time in Azerbijian and had made a number of friends there. Graciously, she offered to help me connect with one of them. Thank you, Sammi and Kevin, for putting me in touch with Mehriban,... Read more »

Happy Valentine's Day to the Man with a Little Boy's Heart

Happy Valentine's Day to the Man with a Little Boy's Heart
It’s Valentine’s Day and my husband, Steve, is in bed, nursing a bad back. He’s been there for four days, off and on. This happens a lot. When you live with someone who has suffered with chronic back pain, you can’t take it personally when he can’t help with the yard or housework. Walk the... Read more »

A Voice From Inside The Dazzling Diversity of Istanbul, Turkey

A Voice From Inside The Dazzling Diversity of Istanbul, Turkey
Turkey’s geography and history are as complex and captivating as its capitol city, Istanbul. Once called Byzantium, then Constantinople, the ancient city was colonized by Greeks, conquered by Romans, and invaded by Ottomans. Straddling the Bosphorus Strait, Istanbul lies on two continents: Asia and Europe. To say it is diverse is an understatement. A Voice From Istanbul... Read more »
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Dear World: Please Know There Are Many Conservative Americans Who Don't Want Trump's Vision of America Any More Than I Do

Dear World: Please Know There Are Many Conservative Americans Who Don't Want Trump's Vision of America Any More Than I Do
Like many across this country, I am angry. Sad. Sick at heart at what has happened to my America. To lessen my anxiety, I limit my news to 15 minutes of Reuters online. Vow not to be on social media or talk about politics once my tired husband comes home. It isn’t easy. I thirst... Read more »