375 And Clueless

My longtime doctor of 30 years respects the fact that I don’t like to go to the doctor and when I do, it’s usually kicking and screaming and very ill. My doctor takes good care of me and will summons me to make an appearance if he has not seen me for a while. He knows I’m still around because he prescribes most of the medication I take, so my file passes over his desk on occasion. He will usually snag me when I’m refilling something, and his nurse will call to let me know that he needs to see me. We make an appointment. The anxiety hits immediately. I will agonize and dwell on the date and time ahead and the anxiety and worry will not stop until I walk out of his office with the feeling that I dodged yet another bullet. I then realize that those days of fear were for nothing. If there is a phobia that has to do with seeing doctors, I have it and it is full blown.

I don’t want to get into my history with doctors. I would have to write a book for that because I have been in the care of doctors of all kinds since I was 6 months old. I am now 56, that would add up to 55 and a half years being twisted, poked, pulled, x-rayed and every other conceivable manner of handling humanly possible.

What is on my mind now is my most recent exam. I was asked to come in for a check and I complied, despite feelings of annoyance and a general “why won’t he leave me alone” attitude. We had a nice appointment. I had no real complaints, nor was I sick so it was more or less to go over my chronic issues which he prescribes for. He ordered a series of blood tests because it had been a while. A long while. This made me panic immediately. We said our goodbyes and he said that he would see me in six months. I left with the paperwork for the lab, getting more and more panicky. Thinking the absolute worst scenario possible based on the tests he ordered.

The next day I made an excuse for not going to the lab but the following day, after serious feelings of dread and doom, I took myself to the lab and had my blood drawn. I was scared and anxious and grateful for two really cool phlebotomists who made me feel at ease and in good hands. I did tell them firmly that I have terrible veins and that I do not like, no, I HATE being tapped on. Whenever someone trying to find a vein starts tapping and tapping, it makes me want to haul off and punch them. The two nice ladies promised that there would be no tapping.

The girl who was going to get the blood out of my arm was a student. She was careful and hesitant, yet didn’t tap, so I was good. The other woman was giving her instructions on which vein was actually viable and I kind of liked being helpful to someone learning. They agreed on a vein and I was told there was going to be a bruise but that was fine with me. They could have made my entire arm black and blue as long as they didn’t tap on me.

The vein produced just enough blood for the many labeled vials that had been set in wait for my donation. I was relieved to have it over with and left with a taped piece of gauze on my arm. This is when the real panic set in. I called my doctor to let him know that I had gotten my blood work done and that I would be waiting (and waiting) for the results.

Over the course of the next 10 days, I had grown certain that my liver, kidneys and thyroid were all failing and that I would get dire news that I would need all of these organs transplanted. I was certain, since I had put off having blood work done for over 3 years that all Hell had broken loose and I was a goner. These feelings must have something do to with whatever phobia I have because they are ridiculous.

Result day came and my doctor’s nurse called. She told me that my triglycerides were high and my lithium levels were low. My lithium levels are always low, so I didn’t care about that. We spoke about my cholesterol and she gave me a number, 375. That number should be around 110. Panic. I asked her flat out if this was going to kill me right away. And she said no but I do need to diet and exercise to get this number down. I asked her one more time if I was going to die and then I asked how my kidney, liver and thyroid results were and she said those were okay. Exhale. The nurse went on to tell me to try some fish oil and have a nice day and that was that.

I sat for a few minutes after the phone call, trying to take it all in. I didn’t even know that my doctor was going to check my cholesterol, so the fact that it was an issue simply bowed me over. I was going to run out to get a few gallons of fish oil but I took some time to Google it and saw that it might affect the bi-polar illness that I have. I called the nurse back to let her know that I couldn’t take fish oil and she apologized as she didn’t know there was a connection to fish oil and bi-polar illness. Great.

So here I am with this number, 375 and no idea what to do to get it lower. The nurse told me I would have to cut out my beloved carbs and my beloved Little Debbie snack cakes. That was a start but honestly, I wouldn’t know a healthy diet if it had teeth and bit my leg off. So, if you see me out in the world of social media, drinking my Skinny Green Smoothies and talking about my triglycerides, please know that I’m trying really hard to get better and healthier. It feels like having to become a rocket scientist overnight and I’m entering this new world of healthy eating and drinking completely clueless, yet also completely willing to make a change that will hopefully keep my heart pumping for years to come.

Bye bye 375, it is day 5 and I am not feeling so clueless anymore.

I want to extend a thank you to Shadow Teams, Beth Wareham and her new book Skinny Green Smoothies. The book came out the same day I received my test results and it has given me a better understanding of how food can be healthy. What a gift. A gift of health and hope.

Coventry CT


The Painting

For Doug

Yesterday, something amazing happened and I think the story is well worth putting into words. So here goes.

I happened to pop over to Twitter just as a friend tweeted a picture of a painting. He wanted very much to find the artist who painted it. It is a beautiful painting, a street scene of Bourbon Street done in a colorful, vibrant, impressionistic style. Very eye catching.

I looked at the picture of the painting and the details my friend tweeted along with it. I gleaned enough information to try and help my friend find the artist. I love to do research on the internet, any kind of research and seeing an opportunity to not only get to do what I love but to help a friend at the same time, I was in!

I started with Google of course. Typing in key words which would narrow down the search. Looking at painting after painting, comparing style, color and content. Going back and forth to the tweeted picture to the ones I was finding. After about an hour, it seemed that the painting in question was nowhere to be found on the web.

For the next three hours or so, I kept going back to the search. I looked at the painting in question again and noticed what looked like initials at the bottom. They were somewhat obscured but I used them as another tool in my search. To no avail.

I was just about ready to give up. Something I don’t like to do. It had been almost 4 hours and my eyes were getting kind of blurry and out of focus. I started to research specific artists rather than looking at anymore paintings. Going to the artist’s web page, trying to match up the technique and signature. I went though about a dozen artists when all of the sudden I found it! I looked at the signature and they looked very similar. The paintings were of the exact same location although they looked a little different.

As soon as I thought I had a match, I tweeted the link of the painting I found to my friend and he instantly tweeted me back that I had indeed found the artist. He then was able to send the artist a message through her Facebook account as he wanted very much to buy another one of her paintings. She answered him back and arranged a meeting. Little did I know that my friend had been searching for this artist for five years. He owns the original painting that I researched but did not know who the artist was. As it turns out, the painting has become the most famous that this particular artist has done to date, with prints being sold everywhere.

Today, my friend told me that he actually told this story to the artist when they spoke, which tickled me to no end. The thought of bringing the two of them together after so long makes me really happy. Today, my friend not only owns one of her beautiful pieces of art, he owns two. So not only did my friend find his artist, the artist sold another painting.

Today, a five year search has ended. An artist made a sale. A friend has a beautiful gift to give his wife for their 20th anniversary. And I have that wonderful feeling of accomplishment, knowing that I was able to help a friend and an a talented artist.

Cheers! To Twitter, to Doug, Adel and A Sparkling Night On Bourbon Street, the painting.


July 23, 2014

Coventry CT

Sparkling Night On Bourbon Street by Elaine Adel Cummins

elaine adel cummins





Why Do I Keep It?

I wonder at times

Why I write things down

Like I do


On this blog


It is just a speck

A tiny fleck

A microscopic cell

In a much larger


Of other peoples’



Why do I keep it?

I wonder that


What is the point?

Of writing things down



My answer

Is always the same

I keep it


I love it

And I know that

It has the potential

To reach others

To reach someone

To reach that one person

Who may understand

Why I do

Why I keep it

Why I love it

Why I let your eyes see it


Why do you keep yours?


Coventry CT

A Broken Man

I held the hand of a broken man

Dry and chapped

I looked into the eyes of a broken man

Unfocused and staring

I shared my home with a broken man

Homeless and freezing

I fed the stomach of a broken man

Empty and shrunken

I shared my heart with a broken man

Pierced and shattered

I shared my wisdom with a broken man

Corrupt and deceitful

I shared my soul with a broken man

Dark and contemptuous

I shared my life with a broken man

Joy and sorrow

I hugged the body of a broken man

Skeletal and sick

I’ve shared everything I have with a broken man

The well is dry

The well is empty

Now, I must let go of a broken man

My broken son

Until he finds the pieces

Until he finds the peace

To share his brokenness

With me

His broken mom


Coventry CT

Her Glory

Dressed and ready

It is late in the day

She doesn’t like mornings

So she sleeps them away


Two cups of coffee

Coursing through her veins

And a hot pulsing shower

To release the night pains


The routine set in motion

Light housekeeping and such

The routine keeps her going

And keeps her in touch


Life is what you make it

So the saying goes

She makes hers simple

No ribbons or bows


She thinks of her children

And where they might be

And how long it’s been

Since she set them free


She used to greet mornings

With fervor and haste

Running off to her job

With no time to waste


Those days, her glory

A sign on her door

Said she was important

With a title and more


Her career was her chalice

Always filled to the brim

With responsible decisions

And stress building within


One day it ended

Because she was so ill

Her doctor had scolded

And gave her a pill


She went for a rest

Long and much needed

Her doctors advice

Well, she finally heeded


A long time has passed

Since she put on a suit

Since she welcomed mornings

Since she brought home the loot


So gradual, the changes

So gradual, the fall

So gradual her decline

And fears of losing it all


Yet, somehow she’s grateful

For one hell of a ride

For a chance to be better

For a chance to feel pride


She knows how to do it

How to rise to the top

No matter the challenge

Her climb will not stop


In the face of fear

In the face of denial

In the face of adversity

Her face will still smile


To read this small story

From beginning to end

You learn a bit more

About me, your friend




Coventry CT

Say When

This poem floated around for a couple of days, days that were filled with overwhelming feelings of hopelessness and grief. Feelings that lied, telling me I was worthless and unlovable. Feelings that judged me as a person with a history filled with mistakes and regrets. To be this low, this depressed, I knew that I could no longer bear feeling like this alone and reached out to people. Thanks to kind words and encouragement, I was able to manage this depressive episode at home and not in a hospital. To live with a mental illness is difficult. Through the years, I have educated myself enough to know when I have to ask for help. Help to propel me back to a place where I can overcome feelings of hopelessness and scream back to the devious lies depression dishes out in heaping volumes. Lies that try to make me believe that a problem can not be solved or that the ugliness I see through the clouds of sadness is really beauty. Beauty of living life to the fullest and facing problems and discouragements head on, with power, confidence and clarity. Though my condition is a chemical imbalance, known as bi-polar disorder, stress plays a large part in my overall well-being. When faced with a long series of personal and family issues, I have to be extremely cognizant of my moods and any extreme ups or downs. I live on the low side of bi-polar illness and am prone to depressive episodes. I usually can catch myself quickly and make necessary adjustments to combat and contain the episode. It also helps that I have had the same doctor for almost 30 years who with a single phone conversation can get me headed back in the right direction, a stable direction, a more hopeful direction. Was this poem a cry for help? Yes. It also is a gauge and something I can refer to when in a better state of mind to remind myself just how low depression can drag me. It is my hope that anything I have learned about the mental illness I have been diagnosed with, may help someone else at some point in their life. Am I ashamed that the symptoms of the illness are so apparent? Yes. I strive to go easier on myself while not leaning into the illness as an excuse for bad judgment or behavior.  I strive for consistency and will continue to work hard managing this hellish disorder. I will always make myself available for anyone at any time to share what I have come to understand about living with bi-polar disorder. If  my personal disclosure can bring about even a minuscule change in awareness, then this poem was not written in vain. Be well. Be as well as you can be.


Say When


A hostess pours her guest a cup of coffee

She says “say when”

A grateful hand is raised

A judgement made


With a little room to spare

For cream and sugar


A mom serving her family dinner

She says, “say when”

Hungry hands are raised

Judgments made

Empty plates covered


With a little room to spare

For desert


A child gone astray

He says “say when”

A heartbroken hand is raised

Judgement made


With a little room to spare

For hope


A doctor treating a patient

With medication to ease the pain

The doctor says “say when”

Judgement made

A weak hand is raised


With a little room to spare

For more

And more


A life has been lived

The clock says “say when”

A  clouded judgement made

The hand is still


With no room to spare


For coffee

For caring

For loving

For worrying

For dying

For anything

Say when


Coventry CT


Once Again

White flag raised

In willing surrender

If mistakes were illegal

I’d be a repeat offender


Vulnerability on display

Fast curve balls flying

A mitt full of holes

Leather shredded from trying


I fancy the notion

That it must hurt to know me

The light I have shed

On the things that life show me


To cover my eyes

And feign enlightenment

Would create a truth

Quite fractured and bent


I’ve taken all roads

Disregarding terrain

Ignoring the warnings

Of washouts from rain


Fighting off reasons

To give up and crumble

No thank you I say

I can still crawl and stumble


White flag in my hand

Rolled up and tossed

If I gave up now

Then it all would be lost


Poetic justice

Frees my incarceration

Allows me passage

Through a hard situation


Once again

As it always does

Words make what is

Something that was


November 27, 2013

Coventry CT

My Little World

My little world

Is walls

With art

And pictures


Is space

With things

Given to me

From my childrens’ hands


Is tidy

And cared for

And looked after

And never taken for granted


Is warm

Or cold

As I need it to be

As I choose it to be

Just right


Is comfortable

In its shabby way

Things of old

Things of yesterday

Always a seat

Empty and waiting


Is safe

The lock on the door is broken

And always stays locked

All by itself

I don’t know why

That’s how broken things are


My little world

Likes to keep me in it

Sheltered from the noise

And the mess

And the scary things

All around it

My little world

My little place

My little home


Coventry CT


The Other Side

I find myself

More and more


Less and less

These days

On the other side


I find my heart

Though still beating

To be

More cautious

These days

On the other side


I find my boundaries

Higher and higher

Wrapping around me

Stifling my wanderlust

These days

On the other side


I find my ambition

To be intertwined

With those achievements

Earned by others

These days

On the other side


I find my spirit

Though splintered 

And broken

Though crushed

And tattered

To be alive

As it ever was

Higher than the fences

Deeper than the wounds

Stronger than the body 

That contains it

These days

On the other side


October 12, 2013

Coventry CT


Before You Leave

For my children.


Before you leave

Before you say goodbye

Put your hand on the door

Walk down the steps

Get into your car

Before all that

Let me have one more look

At your beautiful, young face

Your anticipation for your future

Your hope that everything will be okay

Your confidence and firm belief in your abilities

Let me wrap my arms around you

So tight, I can feel your heartbeat

Until I am ready

Until I am steady

Before you leave

Let me say “I Love You”

Before you leave

Before you say



Coventry CT

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