Sunday, December 22, 2013

Long time ago, when Tom and I were dating, as we were walking nowhere at all, Tom commented "Why do you in Medicine treat symptoms. We in engineering would not stop until the source of the problem is resolved?" I was silent. Soon I would graduate to become a pharmacist and Tom, an engineer.

Now after many decades of marriage my professional days still compose of filling medications for symptoms, and and resolving drug interactions by suggesting to doctors of options.  For the patients, I suggest to supplement of any vitamins or co-factors if they are taking medication which depletes those items.

I have been going through a major health issue since menopause...Insomnia. I did not dare work full time because it is not safe.
I relied on OTC sleep aides like melatonin, Benadryl, Valerian Root, and combos. I reached a point when none of them worked.

I am not sure for how many years I have not slept well, or the percentage of nights when I could not sleep a wink for the whole night.  Yet work does not distinguish well rested person and one ready to collapse. Job expectation is the same.

A dear friend of mine, about nine months ago asked me to try a prescription sleeping pill and wrote me a prescription. Because she was a good friend, I decided to give it a try. To my amazement I fell asleep...each time. I never quite felt normal though. I limited myself 2 pills per week when I had to get up very early and had a long working day. In about 6 months I was only able to sleep if I took the sleeping pill.

OK the source of the problem...menopause, loss of female reproductive hormones...I would not dare get pharmaceutical hormones. Studies since marketing for just about all hormones on the market does not look good. So I started to read, read, and read. Not only is my hormone level lower than low, but also balance of all hormones were missing. I have heard of Natural Hormone Replacement...maybe even twenty years ago. Hormones derived from plants that is indistinguishable from hormones created by the body. One reading lead to another...Progesterone is precursor to Testosterone, Esterone, Esterogen, and so many others and we need right ratio of them. So if I could get my hands on plant progesterone and supply myself, all the others will come out balanced. If one is lacking in progesterone, she will lose the ability to sleep. She will also lose the ability to counter the high cortisol level from many stress. Adrenal glands are overworked when there is no progesterone. So I began to restudy how each glands and organs worked and how to restore the balance.

I sought a NP (nurse practioner)  who was an expert in Natural Hormone Replacement therapy. Although I started to treat myself, it was very reassuring that she set out the dosage and duration I needed and how to go about in treating myself.

For the last three weeks I have slept every night, and when I wake up I know I have gone through deep sleep cycles.

With this experience I thought, what if I become a mid-level practitioner like NP or PA (Physician Assistant) or PP (Pharmacist Practitioner) and work with an MD who feels the same way that I do about getting to the source... What would that take? Is it possible? I committed to work full time until Lizy graduates from college. Then I can go to grad school for 6 semesters and take all the exams... OK I will be 62 when Lizy graduates. I will be 65 when I am licensed to practice as a mid level practitioner. Why Not! I can keep myself healthy and bring others to health along with me! Excitement is building up! Like I FINALLY KNOW what I want to be when I grow up!

Saturday, March 23, 2013

My Get Up and Go Has Got Up and Went

Tom has a song in his collection called “My Get Up and Go Has Got Up and Went.” I probably heard it twenty years ago. I listened to it with human interest then. Yet now I am experiencing a sad ring of truth in it. It is not necessarily for my health, because I have always been weak and delicate—sickly really—even as a youth. Then and now, my health is about the same.

I am looking at Tom who had so much energy, so much endurance. It was only nine years ago he would work twelve-hour days to renovate our Chicago home to sell. This went on and off for a whole year. He was fifty years old then. In our earlier years, he would work all day, come home, and work on never-ending old house projects, play with the kids and still carry so much responsibility for the church.

I look at him and my heart aches. He still should have decades left. He still works a long day for church-related literature work. Yet he is not able to do much. His back pains him. Standing hurts. Then I feel so sorry for myself. Everything I want to do is very much tied to his health. Like simple things such as going for a walk on a beautiful day, going shopping, traveling, visiting... For so long I was the limiting factor, and I have always been. That was okay because I had Tom, who was my energy and my cheerleader.

I only remembered the title to the song, but Tom gave me the words to the whole song:

                            by Pete Seeger

     How do I know my youth is all spent?
     My get up and go has got up and went
     In spite of it all, I'm able to grin
     When I think of the places my get up has been

Old age is golden, I think I've heard said
But sometimes I wonder as I crawl into bed
My ears in a drawer, my teeth in a cup
My eyes on the table until I wake up

As sleep dims my vision, I say to myself
Is there anything else I should lay on the shelf?
But nations are warring and business is vexed
So I'll stick around to see what happens next


When I was younger, my slippers were red
I could kick up my heels right over my head
When I was older my slippers were blue
But still I could dance the whole night thru

Now I am old, my slippers are black
I huff to the store and I puff my way back
But never you laugh, I don't mind at all
I'd rather be huffing than not puff at all


I get up each morning and dust off my wits
Open the paper and read the obits
If I'm not there, I know I'm not dead
So I eat a good breakfast and go back to bed

Tuesday, March 19, 2013

Oh to Sleep...

Sunday evenings we have a gathering with seven couples and a half (who is actively seeking his other half) from four different churches. It is a Bible study, discussion group, a place to pour out your anguish, joy, sadness, prayer request...and we have jelled as a group.

I’ve been having trouble sleeping for years. More specifically, I have trouble sleeping when I have to get up early, like between 5–6 am. In such times I do not sleep at all or I sleep in such manner I wake up exhausted. So our Sunday group prayed for me. I went home, took 20 mg of melatonin (sleeping supplement) and really hoped that this time I would go to sleep. The next day was a big day. I had to have my rest.

My alarm went off at 5:30 am, and I had not rested all night. Exhaustion filled my bones even before the day started. So my conversation with the Lord went something like this: “Lord, I need Your alertness, Your keen ability to function as a pharmacist, Your stamina, and Your speaking through me” ...because I slur and do not make any sense when I am exhausted. And a good portion of my work is talking to patients, nurses, and insurance people.... “Most of all please make the workload manageable during my thirteen hour shift. It is snowing now..I pray my three hour round trip commute will be safe.”

As I was driving home at 10 pm that night, I realized I truly experienced Him as my upholder in every aspect. I also heard within that my inability to sleep will not last.

I remembered when I was agonizing about not being able to sell our Chicago home, the Lord told me it will be sold. I still agonized for three more years until it sold.

I remembered when I spent most of my waking hours in bed because of severe CFS (Chronic Fatigue Syndrome). I wanted to die rather than live like a vegetable. God told me I would get well. It was three more years before my recovery.

So this time I will praise my God who sustains me and wait for His complete restoration of my sleeping ability. Meanwhile He is my strength.

Friday, March 8, 2013

Children’s Prayers

In 1993, Christian was eight years old and Seth was three. Christian had been coming to Tom asking how a person becomes a Christian. He also came to me to ask that question. We each answered him and showed him some Bible verses.

It was Tom’s habit to tuck our kids in every night. They wouldn’t go to sleep until their dad tucked them in snug and tight. They loved this nightly tradition.

One evening as Tom neared the boy’s bedroom, he heard Christian mumbling something. When he got closer, he realized Christian was praying. He stopped to listen: “Dear God, I want to be a Christian, and I want to be saved. Please come into my heart.” Little Seth was listening from the lower bunk and wanted to join in, so he prayed, “Dear Lord, thank You for the food.”

Mother's Days

I have been telling my mother, you must exercise to remember good days, memorable days, and joyful days. Those days may be far and few in life. It takes an effort because they do not surface by themselves.

This morning at breakfast Tom brought up another buried treasure.

Do you remember when our children were young? Every mother's day we would come and pick up your mother and father. We would go to Chicago Botanic Garden and spend a day.

Oh I remember how our kids would run. Henna would pull her daddy's hand. She always had a claim on her dad. Later Lizy would do the same. The boys would run ahead and sometimes tumbling down the hill in laughter. My mother, father and I would walk behind all of them talking, just talking... When lunch time came we stopped somewhere for gimbop (Korean Sushi) and a sandwich for Tom.

I must tell my mother of this pearl, our yearly outing every mother's day!

Thursday, March 7, 2013

Two Persons within Me

The hardest thing about returning home from sunny Florida after slight flu is my winter health has returned in full force. This was the very thing I wanted to shake off. I had imagined myself coming home so strong and healthy after all that sunshine. I hate this feeling of not being well. Last three days at work has been difficult and all my confidence with work was slipping quickly. Ability to concentrate and stamina to endure a demanding job were less than desirable.

During such a time I am so aware of the two persons within me. I am so aware of the delicate person who needs to rest. I look at my peers whose life is in the realm of social roles and I wish I were of busy leisure...

I am also aware of a person who was excited about taking on the challenge of a full time job in a manager role. At age nearing sixty, I will enter into a serious career. My brain is/will be in active gear to improve interrelationship of my staff, to streamline work process, and to have regular staff meetings to face challenges of the business. Daily I am taking mental notes. All this is to start in June of 2013.

I am hoping that I can build up my health to encompass both JaeHi

Friday, March 1, 2013

Memories: When we were buffalo

Fall 1991

Three-year-old Seth had told his Sunday School teacher (Shelly) something ... her stomach hurt from laughing so hard. Their conversation went something like this:

“One day mommy and I were crossing the street. All the cars stopped for us because we were buffalo.”

“But why would all the cars think you and your mommy were buffalo?” He looked at her as if to say, “Why can’t you understand something so obvious?”

I told Shelly of our trip out West. When we were driving through Yellowstone National Park, we had to stop along with the rest of the traffic to allow a herd of buffalo to cross the highway. So our three-year-old Seth took it all in and told his teacher his interpretation.

Memories: Cat Hat Moomie

March 1996

The boys talked me into taking them to Blockbuster at about 9:30 pm. They were off from school for Pulaski day. (Who in the world is that?)

Elizabeth, who was about eighteen months at this time, came along. I had to be careful not to go to the Winnie-the-Pooh section because she couldn’t get enough of Pooh. But when Elizabeth saw a Cat-in-the-Hat video, she latched onto it and would not let go for all the world. I ended up buying the video, but I had to set Elizabeth on the counter so the cashier could scan it. That was her video, and nobody was going to mess with it!

When we walked in the house, she ran to her daddy holding out the tape...“My moomie” (aka movie). “Cat Hat moomie!” Tom played it for her. When the Cat-in-the-Hat came on the screen, she was ecstatic, dancing around, pointing and saying, “Cat Hat....My moomie!”

Memories: A river runs through it

Upper Michigan, Summer 1988

So our first day in the drizzling rain was quite fun for the kids. Even getting wet through and through was fun for them. They got new sweat pants and jackets. Each child also got a new raincoat. Soon they were playing in the rain in their raincoats. I held tight to my baby Seth, who did not walk yet.

That night we settled in our little tents with our young children; Tom, baby, me and older kids on each side of us. I listened to the gentle pattering of the rain against our tent. I’ve always loved the sound of rain as I fall into deep sleep. When I woke up refreshed, I saw that Tom had hardly slept at all. Our tent lets water in when anything touches its sides, so Tom spent a restless night guarding against this. He also was very busy pulling the children to the center so their sleeping bags would not get wet.

Paul and Mary’s tent had other challenges. A steady stream of water was actually flowing through it.  They started out sleeping on an inflated mattress with the two little boys in sleeping bags next to them. When Paul realized they had a river going through their tent, he picked up the boys, and the whole family slept on one little inflated mattress.

Whatever Paul and Tom did to our tents, we never experienced that again, even though it rained regularly.

Memories: Grilled socks

In one of our early camping adventures, we were going to the Upper Peninsula of Michigan. It was the summer of 1988, and the Chicago area had just experienced an extreme heat wave. We couldn’t fathom wearing anything other than tank tops and shorts. Tom & I with our three little children (ages five, four, and six months) and Paul & Mary (Tom’s sister) with their two boys (ages three and one-and-a-half) were all going on a two week camping trip together. Imagine five children age five and under.

We packed for hot weather and were shocked when it turned cold the very day we reached our destination. To make matters worse, a cold drizzling rain continued for days. We had brought only one pair of long pants and one long sleeve shirt for each child.

One evening as Tom was building a campfire, the kids were romping around having so much fun. Christian didn’t want to slosh around in his wet socks anymore and handed them to his daddy. Tom placed the socks on a grill over the low flame of the campfire. Later, when Christian came and picked up his socks, they had the lines of the grill branded into them and fell apart in his hands.

Thursday, February 28, 2013

Memories: A ghost?

It was early 1994, and I was about three months pregnant with Lizy. As with all my pregnancies, I was extremely nauseated, weak, and exhausted. So I always stayed home with close access to a bed and bathroom.

Late one evening, the whole house was very dark. My family was coming home from an outing. I heard the sounds of Tom and the kids coming in the back door. I rolled my reluctant body off the bed and walked through the bathroom to the hallway to greet them. The only light on in the house was in the bedroom behind me. As I was coming out, I let out a loud moaning noise which I tend to make when I feel nauseous. Carter (age ten), one of Christian's best friends, was the first one in the house. As he turned the corner toward the bathroom, he encountered my backlit figure and heard my loud, low moan. He jumped in the air with his limbs flailing wildly like he had just seen a ghost.

We all laughed so hard we were practically rolling on the floor. That was over eighteen years ago.

Wednesday, February 27, 2013

Our Last Day in Fort Myers

So we spent four full days here not counting two travel days. It’s snowing in Chicago, so our flight is delayed, giving us a few more hours in this beautiful weather. We found this perfect spot (just outside of our hotel) for a photo that I promised Carla! Actually I wore that LoveWorn skirt for two days. It was so comfy.

We are so sorry to leave here. It was wonderful enjoying the glorious sunshine and warmth. We’ll be back later, and we won’t be sick. Inspite of our limited activities, it was wonderful that when we had the energy for mini outings (a couple of hours) once or twice a day. It was also wonderful that we had kitchen facilities so we could subsist on toast, applesauce, and ginger ale when we couldn’t handle much more!

Tuesday, February 26, 2013

Lovers Key Beach

This morning I woke up, still feeling nauseated and weak. Our last full day and I may be sick.  Oh well...

So we have Tom who says he is almost fully recovered. Then we have me who still feels very weak and sick. At breakfast time Tom asks me what I would like to eat. “Toast and applesauce,” I said. He smiles. “There you go.” Being able to eat toast and applesauce was the beginning of his recovery.

Surprisingly enough after eating, I felt like I could handle a mini outing. So at 11:45 am we started out for Fort Myers Beach. Little did we realize that big and little hotels and restaurants lined the beach. The whole area has been so commercialized into a mass of humanity. I was not sure if there was a spot for us to park—if we really wanted to be here at all. So we continued to drive. We talked about JN “Ding” Darling National Wildlife Refuge we visited yesterday. We felt so glad that such a huge portion of land has been saved in its entirety in its natural state. Otherwise that area would look like Fort Myers Beach, lined with hotels.

As we drove along, the next destination would be Lovers Key State Park Beach. Could it be possible? These two areas are next to each other. Yet this one is empty with a long stretch of beautiful beach. So we spent our day here. Today there were much bigger waves. The sea was emotional today and we loved it. We took our shoes off and walked along the beach as the sea water rushed over our feet.

Later on, Tom picked out for me the littlest shell ever, then prettiest shells. So even though this is not me, I thought I would start a collection of shells. Tom picked up unusual shells and told me their stories. How he loved to collect and study shells as a child...

We lasted three hours today. That was a good day.

Monday, February 25, 2013

Oh NOOO! Please NOOOO!

Day 3 in Florida—Sanibel Island part 2

After two hours of visiting the Island, doing our best to take in all the wondrous creation of God, I am feeling nauseous. I try to suppress the nausea and stroll along the boardwalk, but I am feeling too nauseous to notice anything. I just want to crawl into bed. Within half an hour, I tell Tom we must get back to our hotel. But before that we must get some more ginger ale. I had no appetite for breakfast and no appetite for dinner. I slept a good portion of the afternoon. Hopefully tomorrow will be better!

Sanibel Island, Florida

Day 3 in Florida: O Camera, Where Art Thou?

So today I woke up with the excitement of visiting Sanibel Island. Of course all this can happen only if Tom is well. I gingerly ask him how he feels. He smiles. His flu symptoms are completely gone.

So I prepare for him two scrambled eggs, two toasted slices of English muffin, apple sauce, fresh strawberries and blueberries, and apple juice. He eats the whole thing. His appetite is back.

So Sanibel Island, here we come! I pack my iPad mini. That will be our camera for the day, or rather, the rest of the week. We wanted to pack light and from the iPad mini I can upload pictures directly to Facebook. How easy is that?

We are getting onto Sanibel bridge which seems to climb into the sky. Hurry take a picture! What do I do with your breakfast picture? It’s too late. Oh that scenery is sooo beautiful. Open the cover...too late we are past that. Let me take a photo of you against that amazing background. The sun is so bright I cannot see what I am taking a picture of.

At the visitors center, we are told of the birds we will see. One type of bird comes from above the Arctic Circle and flies 24/7 for seven days without resting or eating. When they land here in the wildlife refuge, they are just about dead. It takes them three weeks to replenish their sustenance enough to fly to the tip of South America. Again no rest or eating until they reach there. Where are those birds?

Tom is noticing so many things; birds in groups, bird alone, birds drying out their wings, and others just dosing. He notices plants, lizards, fish, and crabs so unusual that I have to look at them to really have them sink into my brain. Otherwise I will file them away into the deepest filing system and forget that I have ever seen them. He tries to take pictures. He cannot zoom in and out. He could have had a field day in a place like this.

Oh Camera, Where Art Thou? I have a good camera recommended by my art teacher. It can do so many wondrous things. Our desire to travel light took away all the artistic memories we could have created. So hopefully we can come back again next year, a little better prepared and with a little more travelers’ sense.

Life does not always happen the way you imagine it would. But that in itself is an adventure in life.

Sunday, February 24, 2013

Bonita Beach


Tom feels a bit better. In fact he ate some toast and applesauce for breakfast, and half a bowl of chicken noodle soup and toast for lunch. For dinner, ravioli, toast, and juice. So he is on his way back. So wonderful to get my pilot back. It is pretty amazing to think how much Tom opens up my human life for enjoyment and adventure.

Today, as we were strolling along Bonita Beach south of Fort Myers, Tom said, “This reminds me of Scarborough Beach, the one we went to in Rhode Island.” I had no recollection. He said, “We went there with Seth and Lizy during our college trip in the East.” I really did not remember. This is not the only time. Often Tom mentions trips we took....sweet times, memorable times, and I look at him with a blank face. I have no recollection. Then he describes the setting, when, where, and how much fun we had as a family or as a couple. Oh yes! Now I remember!

I am trying to figure out what is in me that I can so easily forget those moments that make life a joy. Yet how much in detail I remember all the hardships and struggles we had as a couple because we could not think alike in the way our paths should go. Often Tom does not remember those struggles. He remembers so many of our sweet moments we shared. He sees me not through the eyes of overcoming struggles and hardships but of sharing sweet moments together.

So I shall record our trips and outings so that if my memory somehow fails to remember, I will have something in writing that will last.

Today we strolled along Bonita Beach. Long stretches of sand as far as the eye could see. The ocean water stretches forward beyond the horizon. Little birds are dancing on the sands, running towards the receding water then running away from the oncoming water. They are grabbing little bits of something and eating between the approaching and receding water. If a bird is not quick enough, another one will come and snatch his food.

We walked hand in hand, a couple who has been together for many decades. We have fallen in love, out of love, and struggled and built that love back into our lives.

Tomorrow we shall visit Sanibel Island.

Saturday, February 23, 2013

Venturing out


Happy Birthday Seth!

Tom is sick and I must maneuver around on my own to get to a grocery store to stock up on healthy snacks.

So another day of adventure begins. I am as unable with roads as a toad. I think when my brain was being formed in my mother’s womb, some connection never linked. I cannot for the world get a feel for direction or remember how to re-trace my steps.

My goal for this morning is to go to a grocery store without getting lost and find my way back home (Candlewood Suite) without getting lost. I drove around our cul de sac until I was familiar with every building before I dared to take the car onto the roads.

OK. “Turn Left onto Bass road, turn Right onto Summerlin Rd for about quarter of a mile then turn Left onto Publix shopping center.” I am repeating these words over and over. Such simple directions. Yet I am giddy with joy that I actually found the area. I found the store!

I am giddy with joy for a second time. The grocery store is beautiful and has so much organic produce! Ohhhh they have freshly-made Sushi. I hit the jackpot! So I fill up the cart. I hope we can eat all this food in the next several days.

Glorious Sunshine, Wonderful Sunshine! I am soaking in all the sunshine I can. I sit at the pool reading my pharmacy journal. Then I walk around the hotel cul de sac to make myself familiar on foot. Who knows when Tom can take the helm. I hear of a beautiful beach a short drive away. Do I dare to venture out by myself without my GPS?

Ohhh GPS, we miss you!


So the flight was uneventful. There were two adorable toddlers in front of us. Poor parents. I can hardly take their girls’ crying, wanting to get out of their seat belts to move around. There were two travelers behind us who were engaged in conversation through the whole trip.

We landed. Could it be possible that it is 10:30 pm already? We don't know where our hotel is. The car rental man from Hertz gave us directions. Oh GPS, we forgot to bring you. And we are not prepared for unknown roads like in the days of yore.

It is very beautiful...what I could make out in the dark, by now after 11pm. After a while I called the hotel. Why did we not think of this. The hotel clerk became our GPS until we safely arrived. Now we are extremely hungry. We did not realize that meals are not included on the flight. I slept through the food-for-purchase cart passing through the isle.Tom was not hungry at that point. Denny’s at midnight for dinner! Delicious when you are so famished!

What a day!

To Florida

O’Hare Airport

It has been over ten years since our last air travel together. I decided to use to do my booking for the flight, hotel, and car. Saves me time and money, right?

We check on-line hours before leaving for O’Hare. Delayed from 2:17 to 3:30 gate B-9 (we think “benign”) Spirit Airlines. OK, it’s been snowing. We get to the airport looking for our flight. Fort Myers, Florida... B-9 is in Terminal 1 and Spirit is in Terminal 3...Spirit/United... Maybe Spirit dumped all of their passengers to United? No matter. We shall go to United.

The United agent is very helpful but does not know anything about Spirit Air and United being combined for the flight. Our names are not under any of their flights. One thing is certain: all remaining flights to Fort Myers, Florida, are with United, and our names are not on them.

So we call Priceline. Long drawn-out pre-recorded messages. How long ...I just want a real person and time is slipping away. Customer service finally answers. She only knows that the flight is delayed. Our names are still there. Other than that, she is not aware of anything else. So what was B-9 and United/Spirit all about?

We are rushing to Spirit Airlines in Terminal 3 after a long walk and shuttle ride. We found it. The take off time is now 4:45 pm. Another delay. No matter, we will get on it and get to our destination.

So who did the mix up of gate info?

We then go through long winding rows of humanity for x-raying our luggage, coats, shoes, and liquids like shampoo and lotion. It felt more like hundreds of cattle waiting for slaughter. Everything is OK...

Saturday, January 26, 2013

It Was Then

When I come to Chicago to visit Henna and family, I make a point to visit mother. Age 77 seems young to me. After all that is only twenty years from now for me. Yet my mother has become very aged from spending countless hours in painful memories. We spend hours together, rather I listen for hours of her past. I have encouraged her  to think of the sweet moments. They are like gems. One must search  because they don't surface easily.

Last night she told me of my father. He has sacrificed his life to take care of his parents and family. At an early age he was working full time for US army. This would be early 1950s during Korean war. He did not want to spend (rather waste) his hard earned money to rent a small room for himself. He had a large family to support; his father, mother, sisters and their husbands, their children, and his younger brothers. He was allowed to put a cot under a stairway of army bunk. He was hardly able to sleep when GIs would run up and down the stairs.

He gave all his money to his father. Even after he married and started to have his own family the burden and responsibility for his parents and family was with him. I could feel sadness and bitterness rising in my mother. I heard this story hundreds of times. How we suffered...

Mother, what I hear is some one so noble, he was able to put so many people before himself. Maybe grandfather was so grieved in his loss of his farm and his inability to take care of his family, all he could do is try to stretch that money father gave him to take care of war displaced family.

Does that mean I am noble too? Said my mother.

Once you release the bitterness and sadness from your heart, you too are noble. I responded.

Your father never complained about his family.  He just took care of them at our expense.

As our conversation continued, I wish I could have known my father for a man with such a big heart rather than through my mother's suffering soul. I saw the world through my mother's eyes of how life should be or should have been. In that I missed the grandness I could have seen in my father.