Gifts & Appreciation – Thank You, the long version

“Being told you’re appreciated is one of the simplest and most uplifting things you can hear.”

This is intended to be my writerly, or long, version of a THANK YOU to those who noticed the Shopper’s Guide article showcasing my and my husband’s books.  Our daughter, Eleni LeVan-Miller (a PSU graduate in Communications and a chip off the old block) and Joanne Stiffler, my high school friend (who heralds others like none other), both thoughtfully and kindly, shared the essence of the article on Facebook.  We are grateful for the many responses to their posts, in the form of likes or comments.  And, to those of you who called, texted and messaged us, equal THANK YOU‘S from the bottom of our hearts. 🙂


My writing and research style was fully expanded upon while working on my Master’s degree (family studies/sociology – Vermont College) back in the 80s and honed even further when developing curriculum in the Sociology Department at San Juan College, Farmington, NM and trying it all out at Allegany College of Maryland.  Then I home-schooled my precious daughter from K-7.

This style includes the dissecting of words and their meanings.  My mission, even my calling, was to discern the nuances in the meaning (a philosophical term), of words.  This endeavor sort of made me a mini-philosopher, seeking and finding meaning in everything I observed.

Back to my THANK YOU

When you give a gift to someone, it’s not wrong to expect some form of appreciation for the gesture.  Usually a “thank you” will do.  Some “old-fashioned” folks think it a courtesy to receive it in writing; thus the greeting card industry’s invention of the “thank you note.”  Others, a simple “thanks” will suffice.

The Scripture, Proverbs 18:16 – “A person’s gifts enlarge him/her and make room for her/him, ushering the giver into the presence of the great,” has been a part of my personal Charismatic history in the Christian church.  I was taught to interpret the word, “gifts” in this passage as spiritual gifts, the same as from I Corinthians, where the word refers to divine gratuities, spiritual endowments or religious qualifications.  Not the same connotation as presents (there is some question as to whether the literal translation of the word might mean presents, as one might be brought before greatness when presenting them with valuable presents!! lol in a way).

So, in the Latin-to-English borrowing of the word gift/talent, we understand the word gift in this context as a mental inclination, aptitude or ability, divinely bestowed on us, or innately built into our temperament/personality, to qualify us for our unique path in life.  The origins of the word gift/talent (in both Hebrew and Greek) was attributed to a unit of weight or money, a large round coin, having value.

You see where I’m going with this?  Our gifts and talents have value.  And, when we give them to the world, our not unreasonable expectation is to see them appreciated, for the value they contribute to society.  When your gift/talent makes room for you in your culture, there is no greater satisfaction.  One of my favorite collected sayings is, “There’s nothing quite like being understood – with no defending, no explanation, just an extension of a hand, an expression that says, ‘I get it’….” B. Diaz

My writing career has been in the background of my day jobs, for decades.  But it is my first-love-career.  I love writing.  And, when someone appreciates it, it is a joy-elevated-into-the-heights.  So, to those of you who shared your appreciation, and if you indeed hung in with me for the long version of my thank you, thank YOU so very much; it means awfully much to me; and YOU are a gem in my crown!  BLESS YOU 🙂

I Would Have Preferred Biscuits

As dreams go, this one was an enigma, until I dug a little deeper to the simplicity of the message in it.

Leader of a menu-planning session, I  suggested putting biscuits – bread, the sustenance of life, on the menu.  Quickly I was reminded that a plan was already in place for pocket bread.  Oh-kay?! That was the dream.

The meaning of the dream was about the contrast between one’s belief of the way everyday life will unfold – the idea of it, versus the reality of it.

Biscuits – simple, easy, and quick; under 30 minutes from start to hot bread.  Contrast this with pocket bread – two hours and seven steps later, you can fill this delectable bread.

So, the gist is that I want a little bit of ease in my daily life (biscuits).  Doesn’t everybody?  Getting from A to B is often so very complicated (pocket bread).

However, the reality is that life is more often than not, not linear, simple, easy, nor as prompt as we would like.  It goes off on safari.  It goes on walkabout.  It goes over to la-la-land.  No straight line, more like a jumbled mess of a rambling map to everywhere, nowhere, then, back around to “go,” and I didn’t even get to collect $200 (Monopoly game?!).

No biscuits for you!  You make pocket bread!

Alright.  Bread is bread.

Are We a Culture So Grieved by 21st-Century Life That We Are “Economical with the Truth?”

Grievances, grievances, grievances, all over the place!  We are a people put out with this person, that group, that agency, this government entity, those people….  People are angry with everybody, and are lashing out!  Our feelings seem to have peaked and are ready to blow at the LEAST provocation.  Watch out, you may be the one who gets the fallout next!

Today I am choosing not to exercise my grievances.  We all experience injustices.  Life, it seems is not fair; we rarely get what we deserve.  Nobody deserves cancer.  Nobody deserves depression.  Nobody deserves discrimination.  Nobody deserves poverty.  Nobody deserves to lose a child.  No child deserves to lose a parent.

Apparently, justice is not about merit or we would all have what we deserve.  Justice seems to be, rather, about authority, with our God ultimately at the helm, and elected officials under Him in its distribution among us mortals.  Our role is to trust, hope, and exercise faith in the “system,” both divine and human.

What is justice?  It appears to be in the eye of the beholder, just as is beauty.  I despise that feeling of being ripped off, don’t you?  It makes you want to fight back.  Ever heard of retribution, retaliation, revenge, blame, and reparation?  Do these things really make you feel any better, heal you, or resolve injustice?

It seems like many of the television dramas I watch, which include a smattering of European and Australian television, depict corrupt justice officials.  If “justice is blind” – these corrupt justice ministers depict “the blind leading the blind” – two different metaphors entirely.  In fact, a justice minister (emerging to be corrupt, by the way), in the Acorn TV Swedish series, The Truth Will Out, said, “Indignation and sentiment are given priority over objectivity and actual proof.”  Seems a true statement, if only justice were blind.

What is life if not drama, if the old adage is true, “art imitates life?”  In another show, I don’t remember which one, a woman accusingly said to someone who had ripped her off, “you’re very economical with the truth.” I think I cheered out loud, not just in my head.  This is one of those sayings I collect, it so resonated with my own sense of “economical or miserly justice.”

Personally, I air my indignation with my mouth, often using a certain favorite four-letter word, either in my home with my husband-confessor, as sounding board, or in the woods between me and my God.  It is always a private exercise; not a public one.  This is neither the right way or wrong way to air one’s grievances.  It works for me because the therapeutic airing is always followed by sincere repentance in the age-old tradition of Confession.  In this way I get to spew my injured feelings and receive absolution, and all is forgiven and forgotten, until next time. None of my dirty laundry stays that way for eternity.

I wonder if this is the airing-confession-process that God meant when He said through the biblical Word, “Vengeance (Justice?) is mine says the Lord.  I will repay” (Deuteronomy 32:35; Romans 12:17-19)?  After I have aired my grievance privately and repented for the “bad” feelings, it is blessedly out of my hands and my soul.  I’ve let it go, and placed it firmly into the capable hands of God.


Recycling and Woodland/Roadside Litter (Revisited)

Today I am prefacing this post, originally titled Every Day = Earth Day to Me – first shared on April 22, 2017, with an update and a Video link:

First, I speak of these things with a bit of experience.  We’ve been following the recycle-reduce-reuse mantra for more than 30 years, ever since I served on a faculty committee for environmental concerns at San Juan College.

At that time we also had our first and only baby.  We researched every environmental possibility for diapers and for use when home, we chose washable cloth diapers with built-in diaper covers (pictured; isn’t she cute?!), accompanied by biodegradable liners; as well as cloth diapers and insanely cute washable diaper covers (hidden away in the attic, no picture).

I naively thought recycling became mainstream but here we are in 2019 and Starbucks and other coffee franchises still use these throwaway plastic k-cups. What up Starbucks???

Recycling K-cups instead of binning them!!!!  The intended convenience of a K-cup seems to imply binning the end product.  Can you imagine the giant pile of these in the landfills?  This totally violates the third conservation principle (reduce) in the recycle, reuse, reduce mantra.  Again, what up Starbucks?  Click on the link for my FB video:

About Litter:  today in the course of my walk I picked up a Skyn wrapper, which I assume is a condom wrapper.  Ew!  Thank Jesus there was no condom (used or otherwise) in sight! You know who you are and what you did in the woods lol!!!  Did I say ew!!! 

So, littering continues at full force also in 2019.  Part of a throwaway- it’s not my problem” society.  I throw up my hands; well, not really, I use my gloved hands to pick up, sort and recycle or throw away the litter I come across.

The original 2017 post adapted from a prior essay:

What is it about Litter?

I am a walker. Mostly, I walk outside in the vicinity of my home, in nearby woods, along secondary and industrial roadways and some hiking trails – all with permission, special dispensation, and respect for privately owned property.

Few people, I hope, have seen me leaving my home along a rural route north of town, heading toward the woods and environs to the west.   I’m often donned in tall rubber boots, a fishing vest turned hiking vest, to carry all of the accoutrements deemed potentially needed in the woods (cell phone with notepad and camera at the ready, tissues, antibacterial soap, binoculars, whistle {I’m a little old-fashioned as to self-defense}, pepper spray, sun glasses or shooting glasses if it’s not sunny – to keep bugs out of my eyes, plastic “mackintosh square” for sitting on cold, wet, dirty things, lip balm, hair band, and the jury is still out on a small caliber hand gun – don’t judge me until you’ve almost run into a bear, fox, coyote or rattle snake while gaily trouncing along a trail minding your own business); and carrying a walking stick and in the summer, a small sabre-like stick, to whip away cobwebs crossing the trail. This costume is not intended for public consumption so I apologize to the few of you who have had to see this particular display of country charm, eccentricity, or kookiness – whatever your characterization might be.

I frequently pick up litter when I walk. No need for applause – I don’t “live for the applause…plause” – like Lady Gaga. Often, I’ll take bottles, cans and other recyclables home to include with my family’s recycling. I give golf balls to my neighbor – yes, golf balls. Sometimes, when there’s a plastic grocery- or fast food bag among the litter – or rarely, a black plastic garbage bag, I’ll fill it and discard it in a nearby commercial dumpster belonging to an industry I have permission to “police” for such disorder on their property; as it’s along my familiar walking route.

The thing about litter, discarded into natural spaces – for me, is that it doesn’t belong. You know, like those tests we took as kids when we were shown pictures of an orange, a pineapple, an apple and a bird – what doesn’t belong? Well, picture a brown bed of leaves, a rock-studded path, twigs and branches haphazardly strewn about, moss covered stones, trees in a dozen varieties, rotting logs, wild flowers, streams, butterflies; and an Aquafina bottle, a Galliker’s chocolate milk bottle, an empty pudding cup, a Budweiser can, a plastic takeaway bag, a Styrofoam coffee cup, an energy drink can, and a cigarette box – what doesn’t belong?

I’ve been startled and deeply unnerved more than once, when trouncing along in the woods, to notice all of a sudden, a dried-blood-coated deer carcass with accompanying hooves and unmentionable innards, almost taking my breath away. Even more disturbing; I’ve rarely, but surely seen a dog’s body, crudely shoved inside a black plastic trash bag. Those, I wait a year or more for decomposition and scavenging to take place before picking up and disposing of what has now become a torn up plastic bag.   Shudder. This gives a whole new meaning to seeing animals in the woods.

I once sat down on a big rock in the woods to ponder just what it is about our Pennsylvania woodlands that gives me such peace and momentary joy. I wrote in a text to my sister-in-law: “The bark on the tree I’m sitting next to is so smooth and beautiful. I’m meditating on the layers and textures that abound and compound in chaotic, natural randomness. When I leave my office-world and come to the woods I can just breathe and relinquish all control to God and appreciate the uneven, unexpected, natural terrain I encounter. It’s quiet.   It’s unplanned, un-manipulated and untrained; it just is.”   I think the woods teach me to just be.

When litter is strewn about in a natural setting, it really sticks out. It doesn’t blend in like the sometimes chaotic naturally occurring mess made by nature – dead things, jagged or sharp edges, misshapen growth or broken things.   Litter is a disorder of another kind.

Then there’s the litterer. Who are these mysterious individuals? I say this because rarely does one actually witness said littering.   They must be stealthy night-crawlers, driving about in the wee hours of the night, incognito, leaving the evidence of their existence behind them, at the curb of the woods. Because they litter under the cover of darkness; does that mean they know it’s wrong?

Can a person’s character be determined by the fact that they are a litterer? When I was growing up, there was a missive about people who litter or dump trash along roadways; or people whose property is strewn with junk – “Were they born in a barn?” In fact, I’ve mumbled that to myself on occasion when I’m picking up someone’s litter.

When I’m picking up litter, I sometimes wonder about what a person is thinking when they toss a bottle or cigarette carton, a can or a bag out of their vehicle window to the natural berm and beyond. And, I wonder what very real human drama precipitated someone balling up a necktie and throwing it alongside the road!

I know when I was around nineteen years old I tossed a nearly full pack of cigarettes out the car window, assuaging the guilt at having smoked a few of the dastardly tubes of tobacco.   But, then on the other hand, I believe on that same car trip, my toddler nephew stood, unrestrained, on the passenger seat – it was the seventies and thank God, we survived them. I’ve heard it said that you can determine a person’s character by what he or she does with empty grocery carts in the supermarket parking lot – what does littering say?

On the other hand, I’m no judge, priest or preacher and I wouldn’t want my young nineteen-year-old lapse taken as the sole indicator of my own character. I, therefore judge not the litterers of which I refer herein. I forgive you; please forgive me.

I get it that sometimes litter is disbursed into natural areas by the wind. In fact, we’ve lost more than one grill cover and tarp – never to be recovered; I found one grill cover in the nearby woods, recovered and recycled it, to be lost again and never found. Things like cardboard boxes, Styrofoam packing material, single work gloves, tie-backs, and similar debris is probably unintentional litter.

Without getting into a diatribe on the commercial history of the United States, I will say that the case of roadway litter began in the 1950s simultaneous with the buy new, throw away the old manufacturing slogan along with its non-renewable packaging ideal. Keep America Beautiful was a 1953 campaign of the packaging industry. Ladybird Johnson spearheaded the Beautification Act of 1965, further attempting to police American roadsides of ugliness, including litter.

Pennsylvania anti-litter laws, effective in 1977, are incorporated into the Vehicle Code (Title 75, Chapter 37 – 3709). The Pennsylvania Department of Transportation (DOT) considers intentional litter – a “behavioral choice based on apathy, lack of social pressure to do the right thing, ignorance of the law and an absence of realistic penalties or consistent enforcement, or it is a social rebellion and a disregard of authority.”

Some studies have shown that people under the age of 30 are particularly at risk for littering and in locations where few receptacles are available and accessible. I’ve thought of creating some sort of basketball-hoop equipped trash receptacles at a couple of spots at the secondary/industrial roadway intersections of my walking path – who doesn’t love tossing a bottle or a can through a hoop, to test one’s aiming talents – especially from a slowly moving vehicle?   Of course, this no doubt presents more legal obstacles than I’m interested in fighting – an activist, I am not.

I’ve also thought about why it is that I’m so moved to concern about litter and others clearly are not; and what’s the difference between us? I mean, there are moments when I really can’t understand what moves someone to throw an object of litter out of a vehicle. Why? Were they never taught that it’s wrong; not to mention illegal? Are littering laws ever enforced? Why not hold on to that object until you get to a location – work, home, store or somewhere where there’s a trash can? Are their vehicles immaculately tidy and they can’t tolerate trash in them even for a finite moment in time? I don’t think so. What do they think happens to that discarded item? Do they know that I pick it up?

I think surely, litterers don’t walk. They don’t see, up close and personal, like me, what their litter looks like against a wooded landscape. Their focus is instead, on getting back to work from lunch break or getting home after a long day at work. Litter, to them, I hope is just an unthinking, reflexive or even distracted act – not at all an intentional affront to nature or the law.

A litter conundrum confronted me recently. It was a slide-lock bag with what looked like feces inside. I’m guessing – hoping actually that the contents of that bag were bequeathed by a dog, its owner’s attempt to be conscientious and pick up his or her pet’s excrement, in an effort to be responsible. However, how did it get left behind as litter at the entrance to a hiking trail? I drew the line at picking up that little dainty at that time – a bit of shock momentarily precluding the good deed. However, a day later, armed with a plastic bag and a tank of antibacterial soap, I picked it up and discarded it in the trash.

Why do I care? Sometimes I don’t. I can walk by without picking up stuff I see, but not always. I’ve said this before, part of the joy of not owning the property I walk, is I don’t have to take care of it, police it, defend it, possess it, or clean it up; but I also can, if I want to – as a favor, kindness, generosity of spirit or principled stewardship of the earth. Occasionally it’s none other than OCD tendencies – neatness, order, tidiness, perfection, and control over something which I can do something about.   Ce la vie.

A Triple Crown, Trifecta, Trinity of philosophical Musings on an “Eye for an Eye”

Three interweaving themes appeared in the inbox of my brain this morning:

  1. An “Eye for an Eye” reinterpreted;
  2. Differences in Perception – There are always two or more ways of seeing; and
  3. Is a writhing Division in thought all that new?

First, let me clarify that I am a Christian but with a deep, scholarly appreciation for Judaism, which I consider my spiritual foundation.  We come from common terra and are cut from the same cloth, in my view.  Our literature, the Torah (Old Testament) and Bible are invaluable foundational tools for forming what we believe and how we live.  But, our thoughts must go beyond a literal interpretation of these foundational tools. Thinking for yourself is at least part of the reason for the Reformation?

As to “an eye for an eye,” found in Leviticus 24, from the Torah and biblical Old Testament, interpreted literally and at face value, is defined as the law of retaliation or compensatory damages (intended in the strictest sense, to serve as a benchmark for judges of the law to pass sentence on criminal behavior). Talk about taking the law into your own hands, vigilante justice, and judge/jury/executioner culture, this Scripture, taken literally, takes the cake.  One cannot pass nary a crime drama without some “crim” or victim quoting “an eye for an eye” to defend his/her going after the “perp” whom he/she thinks did them wrong.

In the Fiddler on the Roof, Tevye, in response to the ordinary Joe’s literal understanding of an “eye for an eye,” says quite astutely: “Very good.  That way the whole world will be blind and toothless.”  My own interpretation of a literal use of the phrase results in “a culture of victims, all maimed by the overwhelming need to be right!”

Jesus, a humble Hebrew scholar (& much more) interpreted Leviticus 24 in Matthew 5.  It’s the turn the other cheek Scripture.  Billye Brim (Google her if you want), who studied Hebrew language and the deeper meanings of literal Scripture references, concluded that “an eye for an eye,” really means something more like Jesus’ turn the other cheek (if you’ve lost an eye, I’ll give you mine so that you will be whole) than the usual and popular, if you took my eye, I’m justified in taking yours – making us even, (but neither of you whole).  Which one sounds more like Jesus?

Sticking to the text on Jesus’ Sermon on the Mount – Matthew 10 throws up a funny little paradox (of which He was well-known) in His statement that He did not come to bring peace but division (a sword).  Okay that’s weird.  My mind goes directly from this paradox to the Tower of Babel from Genesis 11.  Then, as the circle completes itself – I mused from the Divinely instituted linguistic confusion of Babel to the unity Divinely created in the form of the linguistic miracle in Acts 2 – where all the disciples spoke in different languages (colloquially called tongues), yet ALL UNDERSTOOD what was said in their own language, even though the uniting factor was an unknown language.


“He who is without sin, cast the first stone.” (John 8:7) – If any one of you who reads this is uninformed at the horrendous act of stoning, I encourage you to find and watch the 2008 film, The Stoning of Soraya M. and open your heart.


A Good Person

It sounds like a line Charles Schultz might have put into the mouth of one of his characters, “You’re a good man, Charlie Brown.”  I know I’ve heard it out of the mouth of many a female cinema or television character – why female, I wonder – usually uttered through genuine tears, to describe a wayward, in trouble man in her life, sniff, sniff, “but he’s a good man,” by way of his defense.

What is, who is a good person?

If you’re not a good person, what/who are you?  A bad one?  An inferior, sinful, immoral, or wrong person?

Apparently if one notices the use of the phrase colloquially, one needs to be “good” in one instance or role, to fit the bill for being a good person.  For instance, in a television drama after a dirty police officer cold-bloodily, killed a man, his wife cried, “He’s a good man, a good father.”  It seems that good men in cinema are often if not usually starkly bad in some major form, but are redeemed by their fatherhood.  “He’s a good father.”

Do you think it has to do with getting into heaven?  One must be a good person for such an entrance?

I’m not so sure, theologically, on that point.  It so happens that the man identified as, the thief, who hung on the tree next to Jesus, was by definition not a good man, but  having acknowledged Him as the Savior, Jesus gave him entrance into paradise, promising to see him a few days hence.  So, this, along with so-called “death-bed salvation,” the good man theory doesn’t really stand as the ticket to heaven.

It seems like everyone is a good person to somebody.  In the eye of the beholder, we’re redeemed into the category by someone who sees something good in us.

Is it a universal aspiration to be good?  Does everybody try to be good?  Do some people, equally try to be bad?  They say there is no such thing as bad publicity, in this celebrity-driven culture of ours.  Some bad boys get the girl.  There is, after all, the bad-ass that some people look up to.  There is no commensurate good-ass, is there?

By way of congratulations, or kudos, I’ve heard, “good man,” often accompanied by a slap on the back.  And, haven’t you heard it said to a bachelor or wayward single fella, “you need a good woman” to get him sorted?

The good-person moniker is usually said in the context of some sort of criminal mischief, even posthumously, although I’ve never seen it in an obituary.  Most of us assume, what with “human nature” and all, that we’re peccable (sinful or fallible) even though most of us make an effort to be decent human beings, most of the time.

It occurs to me that maybe the good person tag comes from the humanity is basically good, but flawed (Hitler, Stalin, bin Laden, being more fallacious than others), theory -.  Oh, goodness, this begs a brief theological sidebar; which I usually avoid, preferring peace over debate.

“Christians” think, given the Adam & Eve story of Eve’s complicity with the serpent-devil in original sin, our archetypal ancestors changed the garden of paradise into a world infused with sin, pain, and evil.  Therefore, the overarching psyche in predominantly Christian societies is, if we try to be good people, we can redeem humanity from original sin and its consequences.

In another perspective, “Humanists” think, not theologically, but ethically motivated, humanity has the inherent ability to live compassionately and focused on the greater good.  Thus, we are assumed to be indigeniously good people.

So, no matter one’s belief system, it’s a human aspiration to be known as, a good person.  So it seems, this is a reachable goal in that everybody has at least somebody who thinks we’re one of the good ones!



Heralding one of the “Joys” of Aging

Let me start off with the caveat that I don’t generally mind nor complain about aging.  I’m reasonably content with my age of sixty-something.  I’ve learned some things, let some go, and I’m satisfied with who I’ve become, most days.  Oh, and I’m in generally good health, for which I’m grateful.

Here’s the problem, along with aging come, let me call them, aging syndromes that don’t so widely appear in younger populations and hadn’t appeared in me until the onset of my sixties, almost like clock-work.  What’s that all about?  In fact, when on occasion I’ve “Googled” said mild maladies, the only named cause – probably more accurately, correlation, is aging.  Something is mentioned in passing, like, “this has no known cause, but has been shown to occur significantly more frequently in those aged 60 and above, and is perhaps a ‘normal’ part of aging.”

Recently, it’s BPPV (Benign Paroxysmal Positional Vertigo), in my right ear.  It started suddenly and ferociously in the early hours of a Friday morning at the end of October.  I got out of bed and the room took off at jet speed but my feet and body did not correspond.  I sat down and the spinning continued, nausea nearly overtook me and I, Dorothy’s conjoined twin, abruptly leaving Kansas for Oz, was so disoriented that my husband insisted we go to the Emergency Department, which is not exactly Oz, if you get my drift.

Like a truly aged person, I made it only on his arm and with baby-steps or shuffling, to the car and through a torturous five-minute drive, with me not moving forward with the momentum of the vehicle but hovering above it doing circles like “crazy Ivan’s,” we arrived at the hospital.  With a description of dizziness, they took me right to a bed, where invited to lay down, I gingerly sat.  I felt certain I would lose consciousness if forced into a prone position, not the lack of control I wished to hazard.

The first nurse grumbled at me for not relaxing my arm for her to get IV fluids started.  How do you relax your body when your head is irrationally hyperactive , on jet fuel and I don’t mean strong coffee!?  Ditto for the much better at bedside manner lab tech, trying to coax blood from my stiff, guarded, and reneging veins.  After a CAT scan, X-rays, EKG, and lab work all came back negative, I was thankful I wasn’t dying or engulfed in a serious health train-wreck.  But, I still felt like I was on a runaway train going way too fast on the Horseshoe Curve in Altoona.

The only thing left diagnostically was vertigo, and I left the Emergency Department with a Meclizine RX for motion sickness, and a Scopolamine patch on the back of my right ear, for nausea.  The emergency room Hospitalist said we could do a maneuver where they would lay me down and quickly back up, to treat the vertigo, but feeling so sick, I sort of refused to lay down.

I made a follow-up appointment for a couple of weeks hence with an Ear/Nose/Throat specialist after only one fall in the bathroom and a few days of little improvement in my balance, nausea, and spinning sensations, especially when laying flat on my back or on my right side (my favorite getting ready to sleep side).  The ENT (ear/nose/throat) intake nurse was relieved to hear that I had finished taking the Meclizine Rx and stopped using  the useless Scopolamine patches as well as over-the-counter Bonine.  She called them band-aids, not treatment, as well as giving little credence to the usefulness of the Emergency Department labs and clinical tests – not in general as they ruled out stroke, heart anomalies, etc., -but  as to the diagnosis of BPPV.

The individual words in the BPPV diagnosis are definitive in understanding the condition.  Benign, simply means, you’re not going to die from this pain in the bum inner-ear disorder (I use this word quite deliberately because BPPV makes you feel very out of sync with reality and out of order.).

Paroxysmal, means that it has a sudden onset and lasts briefly, usually seconds.  In fact, the ENT doc, in diagnosing BPPV in my right ear, asked me to lay on my back with my chin wrenched toward the right corner of the floor, and when my instinctual reaction to the severe vertigo that ensued was to tightly close my eyes and hold my head “steady,” she said to leave my eyes open and tolerate what would be about 20 seconds of extreme discomfort so that she could watch my eyes dart in cartoony and unreasonable motion.  No such thing when I looked to the left, in that same distorted position.  Thus the right ear being the culprit of errant particles rattling around  in my inner-ear, out of place and not where they belong, like stray socks, car keys, and drink cups strewn about the house, not where they belong.

Residual episodes have been much less distressing as I’ve learned they are paroxysmal or extremely temporary.  Peace of mind goes a long way in many of these aging-syndromes“It came to pass.”

Positional, provides a hint of a cause of the disorder.  The inner-ear is the place.  The triggers for the vertigo are certain positions or movements.  For me, laying on my right side is a trigger.  Bummer, since that is habitually my favorite position for getting ready to sleep, to actually fall asleep on my back.  In fact, when I was heavily pregnant, it was recommended that I sleep on my left side; what a challenge.  Who knew I would find myself these many years later, facing the same challenge, with BPPV.

Another trigger is prolonged looking up, such as searching for something on a top shelf and not finding it immediately.  Or, I found looking up to be a trigger the first time, when I started cleaning the bathroom ceiling.  Whoa baby, that was a trip.  Hubby had to finish the job – reminds me of the story of a person describing to their doctor, “it hurts when I do this…,” and the doctor says, “then don’t do that.” No more cleaning ceilings for me, tee hee.  It’s the BPPV!

So, living with the threat of BPPV symptoms is about putting those mischievous crystals back into place so they can no longer lie to you about your movements.  But, as most offenders are, these little buggers can be cantankerous.  My crystals seem to want to jump off-sides at the least provocation, or  is it me that’s stubbornly refusing to embrace the joys of an aging, new normal.