By Mary Lou Stahl
Many of us are familiar with “nesting” behavior, usually occurring right before you give birth to a child. It is characterized by energized preparation, cleaning and organizing. It is biological and emotional, and completely takes over.
Now that the holidays are over and the new year is upon us, being beyond childbearing age, I experienced this nesting behavior on a recent night, perhaps in reaction to how I was feeling, and also perhaps in preparation for a new year, exciting because it’s a fresh start, and well, because 2020 is easy to remember.
For the last week, I have been experiencing a “full” nauseous feeling, which is most likely heartburn caused by large amounts of chocolate, peppermint, wine, red sauce, hot sauce, etc. It didn’t concern me until I decided to take my blood pressure. Being a runner since I was a teenager, and being blessed with low blood pressure, I was alarmed when it was high – very high.
I waited and took it again and it was even higher. I am sure the anxiety of repeatedly taking my blood pressure added to it increasing. I also considered that maybe it was a reaction to events of this year when my healthy mom had two heart attacks (waiting until dawn to drive herself to the ER so as not to bother anyone), my husband had symptoms that thankfully resulted in a good angiogram (had two stents put in three years ago), and my son called 911 at Columbia University this summer with similar symptoms. Everyone is fine, but maybe I was due?
My husband advised me to sit down, but what if I was about to have a heart attack? I did what any self-respecting person would do – I started nesting. Remember the old advice moms give – make sure to have clean underwear on in case you are in a car accident. Like who wears dirty underwear, anyway?
First I painted my toenails with OPI nail polish, “You’re such a BudaPest.” Next I flat ironed my hair because it just looks more polished, and then I stocked my purse with makeup, most importantly eyebrow pencil, because for the love of all things holy, please apply it if I cannot.
I paid the bills and cleaned the house, and threw out any old food. I am a Christian and the time for preparing for God is Advent, so maybe I just had not prepared enough?
I reminded my husband and son that my electric blanket was on, and that no one should stay the night at the hospital, because it takes forever to get checked out, and no one needs to lose sleep. Lastly I told my son that if anything ever happens to me, to please be happy and live your life! I have had a wonderful life, and if I go now, at least I can look decent in the coffin.
I am blessed in my family to have siblings that include a lawyer, a nurse, a dietician, a special education teacher and a pharmacist. The nurse finally called me back (my blood pressure had climbed five times), and she told me to take a baby aspirin, drink a glass of wine and go to bed.
I stopped taking my blood pressure, and the next day I woke up alive, to a clean house. I read a Pinterest quote today that said, “If you are alive, you should be grateful.” I am ready.
Mary Lou Stahl is the assistant principal at St. Francis High School and an adjunct professor at SUNY Fredonia.