What Comes Next

I woke up at 5 a.m. this morning feeling overwhelmed about various problems I have to deal with, such as JJ’s paperwork for college.

Then I remembered a historical fiction novel that I read years ago. The story took place in China just before the Boxer Rebellion. A man and his wife had come to China to help run an orphanage but they had died, leaving their daughter in the care of the elderly director.  At the beginning of the book, the girl was in her teens. The director had gotten sick (and then died), leaving the girl alone to care for the orphans. Often she felt overwhelmed by the responsibilities placed on her. “But,” she said, “Whenever I don’t know what to do, I simply do what comes next.” For example, the first thing she needed to do when she woke up in the morning was get the children ready for the day. Then she had to fix them breakfast. No food? She had to go get some. By doing the next thing, she dealt with the problems in her day, one by one.

I’ve often thought of that through the years, and whenever I don’t know what to do, I pray about it and then I simply do what comes next. It’s sort of like throwing the shoe. Throwing the shoe divides impossibly huge tasks into small doable ones. Doing what comes next helps me focus on one task at a time.

Photo from: http://www.visitahc.org/content/fiber-five-artists
Photo from: http://www.visitahc.org/content/fiber-five-artists

So I began my day today by doing what comes next.

First, I drank a few cups of coffee to clear my mind. When EJ woke up, the next thing was to eat breakfast. It’s hard to face a day when hungry. Then I got dressed. I was now ready for what comes next.

Yesterday I had wondered about what the pathology report would tell us when all other tests and the surgery were good. The girl who helped us load wood yesterday evening is hoping to go into health care. She read my blog post and wrote me an email:

The purpose of the pathology report is to determine the cause of the mass that JJ had. The Pathology Report sometimes allows physicians to determine the severity of an illness, the prognosis, and what additional treatments or precautions must be adhered to based upon the patient’s condition. All of the medical information that I am giving you following this sentence may be incorrect due to deficient recollection of previously learned information. A Pathology Report is completed by means of a culture and sensitivity test. In this situation, a culture and sensitivity test would be completed by taking a sterile swab and swabbing the mass that JJ had removed….[putting it in a petri dish]. The petri dish contains a gel-like medium over which the swab is moved over. The swab is discarded and the petri dish is placed upside down in an incubator to grow whatever bacteria or foreign organisms were found in that mass. The causative agent is then left on its own to incubate for 5-7 days. After 5-7 days the petri dish is removed from the incubator and the organisms that grew in that petri dish are then examined by a pathologist under a high-powered microscope. The pathologist is able to determine the nature, and strain, of whatever organisms grew within the petri dish. After the organisms are accounted for and examined, then the Pathology report is filled out. The Pathology Report is the legal documentation for all of the laboratory findings discovered through the completion of these tests. Sorry to be so long-winded, but I hope that that helps give you some peace of mind. I think that the prognosis at this point will be excellent because the surgery went well, the results from the blood work and CT Scan were good, and JJ has his appetite back and doesn’t appear to seem as fatigued. These are all very wonderful signs of good health. I can’t completely say for sure, but that’s just what I think.

That information was helpful.

I called the doctor’s office to ask about the results of JJ’s pathology report. I listened to umpteen options, and selected to talk to a nurse. However, the voice message then said that that option was only for certain things, and the pathology reports was not one of them. I hung up and called again. This time I chose the option for lab results. I’m not sure if pathology results is part of lab work, but it was the closest option to what I want. The voice message said to leave a message and they’d get back to me within 24 hours. Ok. That was done.

What comes next?


Danny has been scratching and scratching. A couple months ago I took him to the vet who said it was the skin condition he gets every year at the end of summer. The vet gave him a cortisone shot. It helped for a while but then Danny’s  itching returned. I thought it was due to his skin problem again so I took him back to the vet for another shot. However, the second shot didn’t seem to work. Danny has been breathing more shallowly and has also begun to ask to go outside frequently. When he’s outside, he lies on the ground as if the coolness of the ground is soothing to him. At night, he has been going through the cat door into the unheated back porch and lying on the cool cement. Something is not right with Danny. So I called the vet to ask if he could see Danny today. The receptionist said the vet was in surgery, but could see him about an hour or so later. Ok. That was done.

EJ had gone outside to unload the firewood from the truck, so I went out to help him. It was raining, but just a heavy sprinkle and not a drenching rain so it wasn’t that bad. It wasn’t time to take Danny to the vet when we finished so I made winter shelters for the outside cats using covered kitty litter boxes that I am not using. I put them under the tarp covering the patio table on the front porch for added protection. EJ will make the litter box shelters warmer with insulation when he has time.

Then it was time to take Danny to the vet. On the drive there, I wondered if Danny was seriously ill and would need to be put down. We’ve had the worst ever year for sick pets. It has been awful. We had to put one cat to sleep and I sure don’t want to have to put my beloved Danny to sleep. Sigh. When the vet examined Danny, he said that the itching was caused by fleas. I had thought we had gotten rid of the fleas, especially since I hadn’t noticed any on me for quite some time. I thought Danny’s skin problem was flaring up. The vet gave me “the best” flea medication and also gave me some for the cats since it’s no use treating Danny if I don’t also treat the cats. He said Danny’s lungs were not clear, so he’s probably got some sort of respiratory infection. Laying on cool surfaces likely helped him feel better. (Maybe like a cool soothing cloth on the forehead?) The vet gave me two different pills for him–one to be given three times a day and the other to be given twice a day. So I’m back to giving pets medication–but I only have to put the flea meds on the skin of all the animals once a month, so that’s not too bad. I sure hope Danny gets to feeling better soon.

Ok. That problem has been addressed. What comes next is dealing with JJ’s college classes. One instructor said JJ could re-join his class whenever he can, the second said that there was too much work for JJ to make up so he needs to drop her class. I have been waiting to hear from the third instructor. I do not yet know if she would prefer JJ withdraw from the class or rejoin it. I do not know if I should just withdraw JJ from the one class or go ahead and withdraw him from both even though I haven’t heard what to do. Since I do not know what to do, I wrote an email to Student Services explaining the situation and asked for their recommendation.

Ok. That situation is addressed.

The next thing I did was fix lunch. Then I prepared dough for homemade bread so JJ can have sandwiches later. He loves the all-beef bologna we get from the meat market.

This morning as I was fixing breakfast, an old song began to play on the radio. Throughout EJ’s childhood, his Dad always played old songs on the radio and often sang them, and EJ grew to love them too. Old songs bring good memories to EJ. So when he heard the old song on the radio, EJ grabbed me and we waltzed around the kitchen. Just before we stopped, I held up our arms as if I was going to twirl EJ around. He said, “You aren’t supposed to twirl me! I am supposed to twirl YOU.” And we laughed.

This made me thing of the importance of laughter. I remember reading a Reader’s Digest article years ago about POWs in Vietnam. The author, a former POW, said that whenever a new POW was brought into the camp, the older prisoners would talk to him at the first opportunity they had, and tell him that their captors were expert at torture and, sooner or later, even the strongest would break. It was important at that point to try to give the least amount of information that they could, and to forgive themselves afterwards. They also said that even though the situation was deplorable, it was essential to keep a sense of humor. Those who couldn’t forgive themselves and those who lost their sense of humor didn’t last long.

I know that humor is essential in the difficulties of day-to-day life. If we forget how to laugh, we lose an important tool.

On my Facebook page, among the many different types of things I share, I also share interesting, happy, and funny things. I do so to give myself a reason to laugh or find wonder in the midst of difficulties. I also try to give others a reason to laugh. I have many friends going through very difficult situations. It’s easy to forget to laugh when life gets hard.

That reminds me: I probably shouldn’t reveal this, but EJ decided to ask me to marry him because I farted. EJ grew up on a farm and he was always strong. Before he learned to hug gently, he used to hug me tightly, squeezing me into breathlessness. He didn’t realize his own strength. One day, he hugged me tightly and he squeezed a fart out of me. Not a lady-like fart, but a HUGE fart. It was embarrassing, but I laughed because it was so funny. We laughed together until we cried. EJ said he decided to ask me to marry him right then and there. Because I farted. “NOT,” he protests, “because you farted, but because you laughed about it.” He says that he knew that life can be difficult, and he wanted a wife who had a sense of humor and knew how to laugh in undesirable circumstances. The fact that I laughed instead of being mortified showed him that I was the type of wife he was looking for. So my husband asked me to marry him because I farted and laughed about it.

I’m not sure anyone else could have a funnier “That’s why I married you” story.


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Mitzvah Clowns

2 Comments on “What Comes Next

  1. LOL! Your fart story gave us all a healthy dose of laughter I’m sure! It also reminded me of one of Jim’s and my first dates. We were driving in his car and suddenly he said “oh what to heck! I’m comfortable with you! I can fart in front of you.” I didn’t quite know what to say! I guess I was comfortable with him too because I married him!


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