I know it’s been quiet here, although that has not been due to lack of desire. I set aside writing time every week and then every week something intrudes, and I throw up my hands, deal with the intrusion, and then there is so little time left that it doesn’t feel worth it to try to make something happen either with my dissertation or my blog.

I’m definitely frustrated about that. VERY. So I’ve negotiated for a whole week of writing retreat at the beginning of June. I just worry that it’s too little, too late. My daughter just turned FIVE. She was born at the end of the second year of my grad program. I’ve been in this seven years. My cohort are beginning to graduate, one by one. Former students ten years younger than me are graduating from PhD programs. I feel so left behind.

And yet.

I do love the work I am doing.

I love job-sharing with my husband. We make a good team; we balance each other well in many ways. We enjoy spending time together, thinking and talking together, working through problems and issues together. This has been a good fit for us. It’s just that he’s at a stage in his career where he’s kind of on fire – getting calls from the UN to do feasibility studies, kind of thing. He’s been picking and choosing what he does but he’s doing as much as he can get away with (in terms of getting permission from our supervisor). This has meant a LOT of travel – on top of the travel he and I both do for our jobs here. He’s acted very surprised by how hard it’s been on me, but he doesn’t seem to understand that in Albania I was a SAHM with an almost-full-time nanny, whereas here when he’s gone I’m solo parenting AND covering both our jobs at work at the same time.


I had a bit of a health crisis last week. It had been building up over time. I don’t know if you can make it out in the photo in my last post, but on the right-hand page is a list of personal goals for the year, and one of them is “achieve normal B.P.” (that is, blood pressure). When I got a full health work-up prior to moving to Colombia, my bp was normal. I even had an EKG – also normal. I was surprised, because I’d had high BP while in Albania and had been monitoring it somewhat, but hadn’t followed up with the clinic to get a prescription for something to lower it. Then after we moved here, I realized that I felt “off” enough that I checked it a couple times and it was high. Bogotá is, according to wikipedia, the 3rd-highest capital city in the world, at 8,600 feet. What I didn’t realize was that altitude affects blood pressure.

It’s also a wet, cool place. We’ve all been battling runny noses, coughs, and general respiratory illnesses since moving here last November. But one Friday afternoon a few weeks ago I developed a sore throat so bad I didn’t even want to eat, it hurt that much to swallow. I woke up all night long from the pain of swallowing my saliva in my sleep. That following Sunday we traveled to Guatemala for a week of meetings with our work counterparts from the Latin America region (I really enjoyed the meetings, apart from being sick, and from Oz having a fever for 4 nights and 3 days). Midweek my sore throat abated only to be replaced by a rattling chest cough. I was so exhausted and unwell on the trip back, it was all I could do not to cry in the airports.

So the last Monday in April I went to a walk-in clinic where I was diagnosed with bronchitis and put on a course of antibiotics. Little by little I was getting better… but then Gimli went on another work trip, 9 days away, and it was just too much. I started getting these awful headaches… and then the headache stuck, and wouldn’t go away. I was kind of freaking out, talked with Gimli on the phone, and he urged me to go back to the clinic and get checked out. I scrambled to find babysitters (our regular sitter was also out sick), went, and learned that my blood pressure was at 170/120.

No wonder I felt like crap.

The doctor wanted to hospitalize me immediately. I said I can’t, my husband is traveling and I have two small kids at home. He said ok, but had me come in for blood tests and an EKG at 7 a.m. the following morning. Thankfully one of the girls on our team said she could come over in the morning early and watch the kids. So that’s what I did. I got a prescription for a beta-blocker similar to what I was on when I was pregnant and had preeclampsia, and orders to rest and eat “ZERO SALT.”

The next day Gimli came home, and by evening my headache eased away.

Right now I’m feeling SO much better. I’m learning how to prepare “ZERO SALT” meals and snacks although I’m hungry a lot of the time, and the whole papaya I ate yesterday did a number on my digestive tract… but at the same time, I’m super excited! I’m really excited to learn how to do those nutrition-rich green juices people do, and to fill the kitchen with a cornucopia of fruits and vegetables. Yesterday I made a delicious tomato-based thing I used to do with garlic, onions, and fresh ginger root, adding in spinach too, and even without salt it was really yummy (over unsalted rice). I feel like I’m taking really positive, long-overdue steps towards being healthier.

I was talking just last week with my life coach about wanting to live in a way that I’m not in survival mode so much of the time. I feel like this little crisis has actually put me on a path towards that very thing.


3 Responses to ““ZERO SALT””

  1. Wordgirl Says:

    It’s so nice to hear your voice! I’m sorry to hear about the scare but it sounds like good things are coming from it.

    I was thinking this very thing about motherhood and work the other day. Particularly creative work, and writing that requires large chunks of solitary time. I am having a very difficult time going from the brain that can delve deeply into writing and thoughtful work and the multitasking brain of motherhood.

    All of this to say: I hear you. Welcome back. We missed you.



    • Elizabeth Says:

      Thanks for the sweet note, Pam! I have felt struck dumb by the pain in the path you are walking right now. Your wells of compassion are so deep.

  2. Rachel Says:

    I am so glad you are working on getting healthier. I have no idea how you are doing no salt, I don’t tend to cook or season my food with salt, but there is so much of it in food. I wish you luck in this endeavor!

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