Wednesday, October 30, 2013

Things I learned while I was Radioactive


#1) The GI doctor’s assistant called the other day with the results of my stomach emptying study. 


That makes 3 completely normal tests for me: endoscopy, breath test (checking for h. pylori), stomach emptying study.

Their conclusion: that I have an unusual thing called cyclical vomiting syndrome.  In layman’s terms, once I start throwing up I have a hard time stopping.

I would be tempted to dismiss this as malarkey except wait.  Just this last spring my dad was hospitalized for a weekend when he couldn’t stop throwing up.  And one of my brothers has been hospitalized several times for uncontrollable vomiting.

So.  Maybe this really is part of my answer.

#2) I hate eating while I’m timed.

#3) I have issues with time.  Worse than I knew.

When they told me about the structure of the stomach study they apologized that I would need to spend half of the day sitting at the hospital because I would need a picture taken every hour for 4 hours.  I looked at it as a mini vacation and started plotting all of the things I would accomplish during my four hours.

You know, I was going to completely catch up on all of those blog posts, organize some pictures, and clean up my computer too.  Oh, and check my email and look at facebook as well.

Doesn’t that sound like a reasonable use of time?




In my first 55 minute break I sat in the lobby, checked and responded to email.  Then I logged onto Facebook to look for cute pictures of Kate and to check in on various conversations.  When I finished I looked at the clock—much to my despair 45 minutes of my 55 had passed! 

During my next 55 minute break I worked on a catchup blog post complete with lots of pictures.  Guess what.  It took almost the whole time.  Great—two hours gone, 1 blog post done.

In my last break I essentially accomplished the same thing.  One blog post.  One. Measly. Post. 


I thought about this a lot in the days afterwards.  I’d been getting (and resisting) some messages in my head and heart about time for a while already, and this experience forced me to see what I had previously resisted:

There is a LIMIT to what I can accomplish with my time.

I have always been overly optimistic about time.  I have regular fantasies that it will stretch to accommodate my needs and wants, that somehow I will be able to fit in what I refuse to accept is humanly impossible.  I fail and I get frustrated, but I continue to try.

But that day in that timed environment, I was forced to see what I can ignore in my regular free-flowing days.

Time just does NOT stretch THAT far.

The message that I had been feeling in my heart for some time before the stomach study was this: that in addition to the “must do’s” of my life, the personal care and making the bed, the laundry and feeding people and homeschooling, I have time enough for ONE THING in the morning and ONE THING in the afternoon.  ONLY. 

So if I went to the store, that was IT.  And if I made a more complicated dinner than normal that was it.  Sew?  Blog?  Work in the yard?  Choose one and only one.  Because that is all the time there will be.


As much as I have resisted understanding and believing this truth about my life, paying attention to it has helped me.  I plan my days more effectively when I plan them with the “only one” understanding.  I make choices better when I acknowledge that I am really making choices.  I still feel sadness about all of the things that I wish I was doing, but I don’t have to feel so discouraged that I’m not managing to accomplish them.  So even if I’m not terribly impressed with the doctor’s diagnosis, I would have to say that thanks to his study I did learn something invaluable.


  1. I have been thinking about this a lot lately too. I never had energy for more than one big thing (shopping etc) but I'm finding now with Kate i have room for only ONE creative pursuit in my life. On the days that I get writing done, I don't blog. On the days that I sew, I don't do either. On the days that I crochet, I don't do any of the above. Etc.

    Also, for the record, your stomach emptying being normal is really good. The med they give you for gastroparesis is regalan and it is SCARY stuff. So scary that after reading the prescription label a few years ago I actually was too scared to take it!

  2. I'm going to have to think about your one and one rule. I think that would really work for me and help me plan out my days more efficiently (and get less ovewhelmed). Thanks for the idea.

  3. Okay, so have you ever known anyone who seems to accept and not worry about this? I have, and they seem so happy! They just focus on the thing they ARE doing, without worrying about the 50 things they're not doing. I so wish I could be that way. I've pulled it off a few times, and it's a much more fun way to live! I just wish it was more my nature...