A Woman’s Personal Fifty Days to Fifty Years: A Loving Tribute as a Geropsychologist. “To live in regret and relief at the same time is a living paradox, just like what defines so many of us complicated types.” —Dr. Manju Day 41

2/29/20 41 days to 50


So a nice segue into today’s post is about a very irritating, to say the least, experience I had with calling a restaurant about a complaint.. Although they refunded the soup that they could not provide, generously paid for by my boyfriend as a loving gift, they did not get his permission before sending the order. So I called and complained. The guy at the other end accused me of having “White privilege”. That was the most ridiculous statement, given he had no idea what race I was over the phone and that I’m not White. He really shouldn’t have said that. “I’m NOT White!” I exclaimed. He had no idea about the intense racial-cultural processing and personal development in addition to clinical training I had as a psychologist! If only he knew. Then my boyfriend, who IS White and I discussed it. He was not happy with what happened, but admittedly, we do differ in perspective as to whether White privilege is an accusation or simply a fact in America. White America. Eminem. I love him. I love the song White America. Breaking taboo topics by one who owns his White privilege. Kudos to my friend Josephine who posted a pic of Eminem on her facebook page today! Okay enough of the digression related to Eminem.

Admittedly, I have hesitated to bring up and elaborate on such controversial and deep thoughts about race on my blog. But I do not believe in a manufactured polyanna presentation. Race matters. Race and its relationship with aging in America matter. Turning 50 is a real experience, life is not polyanna upon honest expression and dialogue. So, at (almost) 50, I see the transcending taboo topic of race and not seeing Whiteness as a race, dissipating. I appreciate that. I don’t appreciate being told that I have White privillege by a stranger over the phone as a South Asian woman, who has been invalidated by my race since birth in many ways, though. What an odd experience. I told the manager that I wanted to show up at the restaurant and tell the guy who told me that I have White privilege say the same to my face on video. As a manager, he knew that would open up a can of worms he would regret at his restaurant, deesclatated my fury by saying he would take the guy aside and talk to him. Had I had more energy, I would have probably gone there and fulfilled my wish anyway. Perhaps being almost 50 is having me guard my anger and save my resources even more. Wise? Cowardly? I don’t know.

Today a facebook friend, male and Nepalese, married with a child, posted a NY TImes article that read: Unmarried, Happily Ever After..https://www.nytimes.com/2020/02/15/fashion/weddings/unmarried-happily-ever-after.html?fbclid=IwAR2H0O5KcTDKWfWKrRcPJvGgWhksSAoZT4–1mWz1NBvHQ8pvua55JLLV5E

Okay so I am in a stealth relationship, my boyfriend and I choose not to advertise our relationship for many reasons that work for the both of us. So I am not exactly single. But I am definitely unmarried, and we talk about simply being together without marriage, marriage, cohabitating, living separately but in close proximity, many options. It’s nice to have options. I am thinking, I wonder what it would have been like to be naturally more traditional as a woman and done the marriage and kiddie thing? (I specifically identify that I am an INTJ preference based on the MBTI because that is the most rare type for women worldwide.) I wanted a child. Just one. It didn’t happen. And yes, I am still working through that. Not having children is my biggest regret and relief to date. It’s a feeling I can’t explain beyond that.

My 88 year old foley catheter patient told me she dated a nice man but they never married. At 88, able to ambulate with a rollater, catastrophic and intrusive thoughts of being buried alive in a coffin, having to feel she is a bother to others to change her foley bag leaves her wondering whether she should have married and had children? It was hard for her to find a compatible partner, however. Coming from a conventional Catholic family, she often reassures herself and explains to me she was never promiscuous, despite only citing one or two men she has dated. Will I be reassuring myself that I tried to fit the conventional heterocis standard with a modern twist, just as so many of my friends and family members have successfully done? Will I find myself explaining my life choices to a psychologist at a nursing home? I doubt it.

Upon reflection on romantic relationships from the past, the topic of goodbyes without closure comes to mind. Door slam? At times. Circumstantial without intent? Sure, that happened too. But I think goodbyes without closure can be particularly peculiar for those who need it, (J for judgment, as opposed to judgmental on the MBTI preference scale tend to need closure). “Beauty is truth, truth is beauty…all that you know, and all that you need to know on this Earth” says Bono, quoting the poet John Keats as I listen to Bono’s prelude to the song “Bad” in a band performance in Rome. Another tangent tonight. That is all I need to know? Do I find beauty in the uncommunicated words, sentiments and feelings in the clearly marked or undefined goodbyes without closure moments? I am not speaking about the lifelong process of grief through expected loss of a loved one, but an abrupt goodbye that did not feel like they took a natural course, per se. They too, have been major regrets and reliefs of my time. Yes, there is beauty in what was communicated through non communication. I love paradoxes, too. I am a living paradox, in fact. And I am more accepting of that as I approach 50 years old. Even if truth, an abstract concept that I personally believe is subjective, dynamic and multiple, not objective alone, my ability to create meaning out of those goodbyes without closure is Divine. Perhaps more on goodbyes without closure later. I am drawing a blank right now.

Good night.

A Woman’s Personal Fifty Days to Fifty Years: A Loving Tribute as a Geropsychologist. “Forty is the old age of youth, fifty is the youth of old age.” —Victor Hugo Day 44

2/26/20

44 Days to 50. Wow the days are really shrinking, it’s starting to feel MORE real. Speaking of feeling more real, there’s nothing more unreal than the real feeling of having your period on a day that you wish you could just erase your responsibilities. Everything is so much harder on those kind of days; simply getting ready and going out the door is that much effortful on a physical and mental level. But I did it. And in so doing, I felt old. Lower back ache, digestive issues, bloating, everything in slower and more resistant motion. Blah.

Flash forward to a patient toward the end of the day. At 70 something years old, he’s telling me how funny it is to be in an “old people’s home.” Was is that much more unfathomable to him, with a prosthetic knee, open knee lesion and now requiring a gerichair to leave his room and attend activities for enrichment? I will have to explore this further with him.

An 88 year old woman with a catheter foley is in emergency crisis mode because it had taken a third catheter to finally work on her after not urinating “enough”. Catastrophic thoughts of toxins building up in her body and dying instantly plague her mind, body, spirit and soul. Reframinng what she sees as a clunky, burdensome and awkward catheter to an instrumment that helps her health to keep her alive is a work in progress. Her panic. Her broken record thoughts. Reassurance seeking that going to the ER to have a catheter replacement monthly will sustain her until the end. Fragility. Emotional and physical and mental fragility. Reconciling youthful strength and vigor with wisdom, a new type of strength, agility and resilience… but also an accompanying visible fragility. No. A paradoxical puzzle that never end for all of humanity?

So another patient in her mid 70’s, wheelchair bound with MS and psychosis and confusion secondary to dementia tells her husbannd and me of the challenges in being on the other side of the power differntial. Once a high ranked VP at a bank and now at a long term facility, at what she believes to be in the mercy of others’ hands for her activities of daily living, is an unrelenting experience for her. How anxiety over the physical strength of others whom one depends on can have one project dark beliefs– such as “they” would hurt her if “they thought they could get away with it,” given their intimidating presentation and approach. Vulnerability at 360 degrees. Switch in power differential relationships. Power. Privilege, earned or not within context of race, ethnicity, sexual orientation, gender expression gender neutrality, social class, ability cisgenderism, what did I miss?. With wisdom and using street smarts, my patient learns to work with her fear for self-protection. Could I do that, given my ailments and fragility that comes out to those I trust or when I’m most distressed? As a South Asian, Nepalese-American heterocis, upper middle class woman, how will I face my inner and the social structural demons to navigate whatever aging throws my way past 50?

Quote of the Day “Remembering that you are going to die is the best way I know to avoid the trap of thinking you have something to lose. You are already naked. There is no reason not to follow your heart.: —RIP Steve Jobs.

Feeling trapped regardless of age is an unappealing existence. Subsistence. Jobs’ quote makes it easier to live in the moment as I approach 50. Maybe I’ll just go naked; wherever you go, there you are, says Jon Kabat-Zinn. 🙂

A Woman’s Personal Fifty Days to Fifty Years: A Loving Tribute as a Geropsychologist. “Forty is the old age of youth, fifty is the youth of old age.” —Victor Hugo Day 45

2/25/20

45 days to 50 It’s actually 2/26/20 but I was too busy or tired to type earlier; better late than never? Perhaps a new trend in my tribute to 50 years. Menstruation is a real drainer, downer, depleter. I could barely make it to work but I did! Tea helps. Great patients help. Being able to reconcile with my boyfriend over the need for space helps. So, I read a fantastic article on how space is the sixth love language that is so overlooked. I agree, it’s paradoxical in our Hollywood, fairytale and commercial narratives. But the ability to voice the need for space and grant it reveals such a strong, loving bond that yields without clinging, smothering and window dressing for society. Ok I’m tired. Good night.

Here’s my reference: https://psiloveyou.xyz/the-6th-love-language-89e699d6e66e It’s validating for introverts, too!
❤ BTW: I have INTJ preferences according on the infamous MBTI! More on that at a later date/entry.

A Woman’s Personal Fifty Days to Fifty Years: A Loving Tribute as a Geropsychologist. “Forty is the old age of youth, fifty is the youth of old age.” —Victor Hugo

Day 46 2/24/20 46 days to 50 years old hooray 12:48pm EST USA: So I’m “hearing” and reading information that in the U.K. 40% of people over age 50 have some sort of hearing loss. Oh Lordie.
To add insult to injury for kicks, in an online research source by the National Center for Biotechnology Information (NCBI) entitled, “Screening for Hearing Loss in Adults Ages 50 Years and Older: A Review of the Evidence for the U.S. Preventive Services Task Force [Internet]” the targeted population entails people over 50 in primary care settings.

As a woman who hears the knock of 50 years old loud and clear on my door and with multiple ailments and who has been working in geriatric care for a decade, the prospect of actually becoming resident at a nursing home feels much more real. Yeah. So this is when the need to be happy goes out the window and I embrace the need for equanimity. It brings me back to the memory in my mid thirties when a consultant on aging for women told me she asks women who attend her workshops, “At what age would you want to die before turning 50?” Hmmm. Now that 50 years is entering my doorstep, I would reply…I am not sure, maybe die AT 50? What a perfect, even age to live with equanimity. I have a strange sense of humor, I know. At my age, I feel I have earned it. :p

1:02pm So I word find on facebook pops up by the soul vibe sancturary, forwarded to an Abraham Hicks page with a post that reads, “What is your vibe right now?” The first word I found was “completion”. Yes, I’m attracting completion. Thank you. “I complete me.” “We complete me.” Ha ha ha. I don’t even drink alcohol.

A Woman’s Personal Fifty Days to Fifty Years: A Loving Tribute as a Geropsychologist. “Nice is pleasant, but honesty is kind, even when honesty makes you feel uneasy.”— Dr. Manju

Day 47 2/23/02 ( 47 days to 50 years old hooray! Actually it is technically 2/24/02) 12:03 as I start to write this particular loving entry.

I feel like a college student again, writing notes for work, referencing education points on tricky topics for my patients. Luckily, my boyfriend keeps me on track so I don’t let my commitment to 50 days to 50 fall by the wayside. Although it may feel like a pain at times, his honest encouragement is kind. He bought me breakfast and a light dinner due to my not feeling well. That is kind. Yesterday 2/22/02 the bus driver let me in despite my metrocard being almost empty. That was kind.

As the countdown continues with compassion, I realize just how kindness can be taken for granted yet so enriching and contagious for all. On social media I have shared my conviction that “nice is pleasant, but honesty is kind”. Honesty in a compassionate way, that is.

RIght now I am trying to adjust to a difficult work situation that has caused disruption in my life for about 5 months now. I lost a patient with transdiagnostic personality disorders among other mental health issues after he dramatically started yelling about me in the facility lobby in his wheelchair.. There he was creating quite a scene, after considerable weight loss, being called back by administration to hear his continued rant and his claim that there is “no chemistry” between us and saying he wanted me fired. All done in my absence after an interdisciplinary team meeting calling on a consistent pattern of medication nonadherence and related behavior issues. In the heat of anger, I knew he felt uncomfortable with my presence, despite being explained why I was there at the meeting and our positive therapeutic alliance. Why wouldn’t I be there? I am part of the team and was invited by the Medical Director. Women with professional influence intimidate you much despite you benefitting from my help, Sir? So, he acted impulsively and destructively. That was his MO.

But I was kind. My honest contribution about his observing his medication nonadherence firsthand in session at the team meeting was delivered out of compassion. I wanted to help him minimize the risk of a repeated unnecessary decline in physical and mental health that led to a recent hospitalization after a serious, life threatening infection. I took chances with him despite his known volatility to help implement change that would serve him. I could have easily skipped the meeting altogether. I went out of my comfort level as a geropsychologist to do that. All that time, work with and investment in him through kindness in sessions. Thankfully, no one took his rant at the lobby by the receptionist desk during my physical absence. Seriously? Seriously, dear former patient of mine, you’re in your 70s. Surely life after 50 can be better than this with wisdom and experience. It has been said often enough that working with an “older population” is challenging in that “older people” are “set in their ways” and “more treatment resistant.” Hmph. There is something to be said about neuroplasticity and ongoing learning throughout all of one’s life stages.

Always acknowledge and learn from kindness, even when the compassionate honesty makes you feel uncomfortable.

Yes I have mood swings. Menopause years are not easy. I thank my boyfriend and friends who use wise compassion honestly to build and fortify our bonds. It was my boyfriend who told me that I’m moody and can sense when my hormonal and related behavioral shifts are most intense. Twitch. Flinch. Growl. I’m at a place where I can hear that from him because he’s right, and he says it out of compassion so neither one of us combusts and can gain perspective in the moment, not menace or misogyny. He is at a place (mostly) ;-P where I can be compassionately honest with him, too.

It’s not always easy, but it’s kind. And that helps keep me going, it helps keep him and me going together.

My personal quote of the day: “Nice is pleasant, but honesty is kind, even when honesty makes you feel uneasy.”— Dr. Manju

Good night. Good morning. It’s so fun to be pushing 50.. 😉

Are You Living a Parasympathetic Lifestyle

The sympathetic nervous system (SNS) prepares the body for intense physical activity and is often referred to as the fight-or-flight response. The parasympathetic nervous system (PNS) has almost the exact opposite effect and relaxes the body and inhibits or slows many high energy functions.

Today’s modern lifestyle promotes living a sympathic lifestyle. Sympathetic is not always bad for it prepares the body to handle sudden stress in times of need. However, unlike our ancestors we cannot always use this sudden rise in stress chemicals in its intended manner for life and death struggles. For example if we are our sympathetic system may kick in during a traffic jam. We cannot just use physical activities to decrease the chemicals but instead our stuck sitting in a car.

One way of developing a more PNS in times of stress is focusing on the breath. Focusing on diaphragmatic breathing enables us to down regulate the sympathetic nervous system, which then causes the parasympathetic nervous system to become dominant. Shallow breathingbreath holding and hyper-ventilating triggers the sympathetic nervous system, in a “fight or flight” response.

The vegus nerver is the largest cranial nerve and controls all major bodily functions including the breath, heart rate and digestion. A person’s vagal tone determines how fast they recover from a fight or flight situation. A person with a high vagal tone is more resilient to stress. People with low vagal tone, on the other hand, are more sensitive to stress and disease. They tend to have challenges such as weak digestion, increased heart rate, and difficulty managing emotions. Interestingly, low vagal tone is correlated with health conditions such as depression, anxiety, chronic pain.

The most immediate way to change the balance of sympathetic and parasympathetic nervous system actions is with the breath. To counterbalance any over-stimulation of the sympathetic nervous system, vagus nerve yoga focuses on diaphragmatic breathing and extending the length of the exhale.  More to come.