The Control Issue

As a working mother in my 30s and 40s, I was sure control was the key to success. I ran my life with lists and schedules. This worked well at work, except for days when the schedule called for leaving work promptly. In those days,

They never really get shorter, just change content, over a day, over a life.

much of the political part of work took place in bars and restaurants after work and for moms with children, the glass ceiling often looked more like the carved wood door to the club bar door. But I stayed ahead with strict schedules–often I’d sit with my to-do list for the day, the week, and each project.

It worked most of the time. When something unexpected came up, I would make a list for it, ignore it, deny it, or rarely, work around it. I often went to work sick. I truly believed that the cure-all tool was organization.

The trouble with organization, of course, is that it doesn’t allow for life to happen. It does allow for good problem solving, a regularly planned process and a good idea of what was going to happen in the future.

As I got older, I realized that we are less in control than we think. We are not in control of the weather, of when or how our family members will die, when or if we will get the flu, or be broadsided by a driver who is on the phone and runs the red light.

On Monday, I was coaching a client when my teeth began to chatter. I felt OK, but my teeth were knocking together. The chattering got so violent, I had to end the call. I began to shake uncontrollably and feel cold–an odd feeling in August, when the house is 85 degrees and the outside temperature is just over 100 degrees. I found a quilt, piled it on the bed and crawled in. I shook so hard, I cracked a tooth filling. Within an hour, I had a temperature of 104 degrees.

The next day, I was scheduled to teach. Years ago, I would have said nothing, gotten up, and staggered to work, done poorly, checked it off my list and heard about it at the next performance review. This time, I notified everyone that I was ill, and was amazed to find that my clients were concerned for my health and agreed to postpone the training. Not hire another trainer. Wait for me to get better. I was stunned. Happily surprised, but stunned.

For 24 hours I slept. When I woke up, I drank water. I had a pain in my left leg, which I ignored. The next day I discovered 3 small puncture wounds on my left shin. The skin around it–most of my shin–was hot and tender and swollen. Spider bites are rare–and I hadn’t been in places where spiders hang out. I don’t know and I’m not in control.

That is what surprised me the most. Not in control meant I didn’t post a blog, didn’t change the kitty litter, didn’t water the plants, didn’t change the hummingbird feeders, didn’t cook supper, put gas in the car, pay bills, call clients. The world went on without me while I slept and sweated. I gave up control and lived to tell about it.

There is a difference between control and organization. Organization works with what you have. Control tries to place (or nudge, or force) people, plans, processes into step with where you are at the moment. With varying results.

I don’t know what bit me, it’s unlikely I’ll ever know. I’m not in control of what bit me. I’m catching up and grateful for my immune system that took control without asking me. Now, to get back on schedule.

-Quinn McDonald is beginning to believe in alien abductions by secret poisonous spiders.

26 thoughts on “The Control Issue

  1. Glad you lived to tell us about it Quinn my friend. I’ve a fear or three about things that pinch and bite silently and slither or skitter off. We have our share of the beasties in Canada. Blessings on you.

  2. Quinn, I’m glad you are going to the doct on Friday, hoping they will have a clue as to how to proceed. Last I heard, alien anti-venum was still in the FDA approval process. Seriously though, please continue to take good care of yourself.

  3. So sorry to hear that this happened to you, Quinn, but I am proud of you for backing away from the schedule and crawling underneath that blanket. We HAVE to listen to our bodies , even more so than our day planners, but that is definitely not always easy to do. Good luck with your follow-up appointment(s); I hope there are no residual effects!

  4. Don’t worry, the secret poisonous alien spiders didn’t have an abduction appointment available so you’re safe ’til Feb 13, 2471 (time dilation is a drag).

      • Tried to; you have to take a number, then punch that in when you call at the appointed time. The trouble is that it’s a base-8 number, and punching that in on a base-10 keypad…well never mind. Besides, you have to factor in the decades-long trip to their home world and back. You’re lucky they were fully booked; there’s nothing to do on the trip but browse the web.

  5. Poor Quinn, you must have felt really ill!
    Make sure it is not the bite of a tick for Lyme disease is a true problem and needs to be well taken care of.
    I don’t want to scare you but such acute fever is a strong reaction!

    • Luckily, we don’t have the Lyme tick here in the desert–although they do have it at higher elevations. It has none of the symptoms of Lyme disease (I used to live near Lyme, Connecticut, and knew all the symptoms by heart!) But I did make a doctor’s appointment, because it’s not getting better. I’m not in the mood for cellulitis. The fever may be unrelated. But I just don’t know, so I took a cancellation in his schedule for Friday.

    • Oh, no, Monica, that is not at all what emergency rooms are for. CookingMan was in the emergency room for kidney stones–7 hours with too much pain medication (the nurse asked ME if a heartbeat of 45 was “normal” for him), but no help. He actually never saw a real doctor the whole time. They finally released him with no help, no plan, no referral. No, I don’t think an emergency room is a good choice at all. And it will cost me $1,000 because I will not be admitted. Such is my insurance plan that I pay more than my mortgage for.

  6. We have spiders out here, and it surely sounds like you got one. Hope you go see a doc asap. It could be very serious if you wait. I speak from experience. Feel better soon.

  7. Bless your heart! I DID miss you for a couple of days — sorry your absence wasn’t for something more fun!?! Strange how we learn certain lessons unexpectedly 😕
    “alien abductions by secret poisonous spiders” —> Cracked me UP!
    Feel better *and better!* soon 🙂

  8. Yeow! Are you OK now? Keep an eye on that, please. It may still need attention~~you know, necrosis and stuff. Nasty little alien spiders. We have black widows all around the house. We try to catch them and put them out in the alley, but sometimes–when they get *inside* the house, we just have to flush them away.

    • I seem to be OK. If I see any necrosis, I’ll hustle myself off to the doctor. We have black widows and brown recluses here, too–a lot. We also have tarantulas–saw one in the garage several months ago–but they don’t attack. I also felt no bite. I did go for a walk that morning, but not through woodpiles and vacant lots. I stuck to semi-shady sidewalks. I’ve made an appointment–the fastest he can see me is in 3 weeks–so I’ll know if it’s getting worse.

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