Sigh. Sometimes I Just Have To Have It…….

Homemade cheeseburger with french fries.

Image via Wikipedia

Plinky Prompt: Have You Ever Considered Becoming A Vegetarian?
I have tried to become a vegetarian at different times in my life; mostly for health reasons. I hate to admit it but I’ve never made it further than a month, maybe two. I know there are vegetarians who eat chicken and fish, not sure if that really qualifies them as vegetarians. Sadly, every few months I get a severe hankering for a regular old cheeseburger, dripping with ketchup and my mouth just starts to dance. Not often, just once in a while but when I get that particular craving, one of those tofu burgers or veggie patties just doesn’t cut it. Sorry, cows.

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If I Could Only Eat One Meal the Rest of My Life

Pizza

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PIZZA! (with various items I could pick and choose and combine each day: mushrooms, extra cheese, grape jelly, carmelized onions, fresh mozzarella, tomatoes, pepperoni and strawberry preserves and eggplant.)

*Note the grape has to be jelly and the strawberry preserves are jam.

Very important difference.

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Just a Little Harmless Venting

coffee in the morning... it's freezing cold!

Winter, Bloody Winter

It’s freezing, my hands hurt, they are red and raw. Soothing hand lotion just disappears into my aching pores but I can’t feel any difference or relief. Each finger is an individual icicle, stuffed into useless lined gloves. I can’t feel my toes they seem to have become webbed together because of this unnatural cold spell. I have four layers of clothing on underneath an old brown, tired winter jacket. I would actually prefer an old-fashioned snowstorm to these chilling, painful, low temperatures and hollering winds. With snow, trees, bushes and houses take on a life of their own. Everything looks innocent and bright. Pointy roofs are layered with glistening snow. Dogs happily romp in the snow, they run like deer performing ballet. It’s beautiful to watch; there is no beauty now. I can almost hear the roar of an impromptu snowball fight and the sound of children laughing. When I first go outside the wind hits my face like an unexpected, violent slap. The days are short, gray and abysmal. I shiver constantly; I hate feeling cold; my aging body agrees. Having Fibromyalgia makes the cold even worse. It’s colder than cold, my joints are stiff and I ache everywhere. Every move is accompanied by extra pain; life feels dreary. My body misses much-needed heat and my soul is deprived of sunshine.

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Help Wanted: Celebrity Spokesperson – Fibromyalgia

Fibromyalgia

Those of us who suffer from Fibromyalgia (FM) get a lot of grief. Not just chronic pain, of which we get a lot, but grief, from uninformed people.  I have Fibromyalgia and Hashimoto’s  Thyroiditis, an autoimmune disease also known as Connective Tissue Disorder.  I, like so many other  Fibromyalgia patients also suffer from Fibromyalgia Fog, better known to the in-crowd as Fibro Fog. We begin a sentence and then forget what we want to say. We go from room to room looking for…..what? We forgot.  We start again. My children roll their eyes when they claim “I just told you that story” because they have and it sounds new to me. They could probably tell me the same story tomorrow and who knows if I will recognize the story or shake my head in new wonder. My sister sometimes complains that “you told me that.” I’m sorry, I believe you.” It may be hard for you to keep quiet once in a while and just let it slide but it is also hard not to take it personally and get your feelings hurt too. It’s not something we have control over, like muscle pain or stiff joints.

Apparently “Doctors” agree we “feel the pain” but the cause itself has people stressing out and arguing. Isn’t it just a total bitch that there are still people out there that think we are all whiney, crazy, uninformed, stressed out crybabies with the need to please?  Of course, they point out, we are mostly all women, not all, but mostly. Ignorant Doctors: be skeptical if you want to but stop judging us and read the NEW research, all of it.

I was diagnosed nearly five years ago. After a routine check-up  by my internist, that had my thyroid levels completely out of whack and my massive Vitamin D deficiency, she shrugged her shoulders. “I feel like I have the flu, without the fever” I would cry but she didn’t listen to me. My internist examined me and told me “there was nothing she could do,” and she clicked her designer high-heeled shoes and tap-tap-tap, left the room abruptly. She left me alone, sobbing on the exam table, unable to get up.

Since then I have seen Rheumatologists who do believe that Fibromyalgia is a real disease and that it is indeed painful. I now go to a Rheumatologist who is even “Fibro Approved” which means he is known for his sensitivity to both our illness and our feelings.  The very fact that he is kind and soft-spoken is a pleasure, he even returns calls promptly and is not overly aggressive to try new things, but is patient to see how I am reacting to one drug, perhaps changing the dosage, not the drug.  My Rheumatologist before him answered by-email only and said sternly “Fibromyalgia is a lazy diagnosis” and barked at me to start taking strong immunosuppressant drugs, one after another. Each drug had horrific side effects that left me unable to leave my house for two months.

If I could, I would only go to a Rheumatologist who actually HAS Fibromyalgia, for the very same reason I always chose a woman to be my Gynecologist and Obstetrician. It’s nice to have familiarity, empathy and understanding. Imagine this, if all the men who worked in the financial area were stricken with Fibromyalgia, a fairly debilitating disease, would it be a more credible illness to the naysayers?  Wouldn’t there be a sudden outcry for immediate research, more funding demanded, results and ultimately a complete cure? Would you still be saying that they were overstressed worry-warts? I think not. If male business executives got Fibromyalgia, stocks for Savella, Cymbalta and Lyrica would go through the roof. Why are there still people thinking that men are more credible than women? Look at all the research for heart disease for men and very little, if any, for women? Women get heart attacks too and the symptoms are very different but we don’t hear a lot about that either.

I don’t wish this illness on an enemy much less a friend or someone I admire greatly. I just would feel so much better if we had a  famous spokesperson with Fibromyalgia to champion our cause. I mean that sincerely. Is there any celebrity in the world that has the same symptoms and wants to represent us? You would help hundreds of thousands of people all over the world.  Believe me, I LOVE and admire Oprah and don’t wish Fibromyalgia on her but IF she did have it, (or any high-profile celebrity: Ellen Degeneres, Dr. Oz, Meredith Viera, Barbara Walters, David Letterman, Conan O’Brien…) wouldn’t the world sit up and listen more carefully and intensify the search for a cure?  Try calling Oprah a whining crybaby. You couldn’t and you wouldn’t even dare. Maybe there will be a time when someone champions our cause, our invisible illness. In the meantime, wouldn’t it be something if we heard: “Next On Oprah, My Struggle With Fibromyalgia.” Maybe then we would get the understanding, empathy and research we so desperately need.

Plinky: How Do You Define A Friend?

Hot Glass, Ice Cubes and Room Temp Cola causes...

Image by srboisvert via Flickr

I had a best friend for years, where trust, laughter, love and an eager dining companion perfected my single world.  Her name was Katy and we met in a small apartment building in a suburb of Boston. We were the “Mary” and “Rhoda” of the 80’s. The only thing missing from our studio apartments, one above the other, was the big first initial of our names hanging on the wall, just like Mar had. We met in the tiny laundry room one day where she gave me advice about wrinkles. When she grabbed my clothes from the washing machine, and shook them out, I felt a little uncomfortable.

We had been best friends for years and when I met the boyfriend I would eventually marry, I couldn’t wait to  introduce him to my best friend.  I admit, the first meeting was a little awkward; Katy was polite yet distant. Their was no warmth as we passed vegetable lo mein and chicken with broccoli amongst the three of us.

Later, my husband and I introduced her to the man she would marry, a friend of my husband’s. Katy and Bob were both loners and somewhat eccentric but we took enormous care in matching them up. There was no doubt in my mind that they would take to each other and they did. We danced at their wedding while my husband and I waited for the toast to us the “matchmakers.” There was none. The bride and groom sat alone, away from their family and friends, secluded from their own party. No, I was not the maid of honor.

There were normal friendly disagreements, like in any friendship, yet Katy never wanted to talk things out; she hated any type of confrontation. Looking back, our friendship was at its peak when I constantly placated her. When I became a more confident, independent person she did not like it yet she wouldn’t talk about it either. This started the chilly decline and her withdrawal. All of a sudden the warmth I had initially felt became a fake veneer, breaking glass to reveal nothing but ice.

One devastating situation that I shared with her was when my husband and I were trying to have a baby and I was depressed. She was in my car when I broke down once and sobbed. Back in the late eighties and early nineties no one talked about infertility treatments, it was a hushed topic filled with shame and heartbreak.

After two and a half years of painful infertility treatments I FINALLY got good news. I got a call from the nurse in the doctor’s office telling me I was pregnant; I softly closed the door to my office, sank on the dirty carpet, and wept. We waited through the first trimester with extreme caution telling no one except for immediate family.

I couldn’t wait to tell my best friend the news! She was so special to me I didn’t want to tell her on the phone so I invited her to dinner at her favorite restaurant.  With my voice filled with emotion, my Diet Coke shaking in my cold hands, I told her that I was pregnant and she was going to be an aunt. I waited for her response with tremendous excitement. I was expecting a shout of glee, a warm hug, excitement but there was nothing but silence. Nothing.  What I did get was a frozen expression and a few tears trickling down her face. She wouldn’t even talk; I was in utter shock, deeply disappointed and confused. When I questioned her reaction all she said was “I’m fine.”

What happened later is not my story to tell and I will not share her secrets because it’s not my place.  Her husband confided in us and told too many intimate things. I told Bob that we didn’t want to be put in the middle of their drama, that he should talk to her. He didn’t. When I tried to talk to Katy she denied everything and lied to my face. I can accept a lot in a relationship but lying is absolutely abhorrent to me. Tell me it’s none of my business but do not look me in the eye and lie.

Once pregnant, she dropped me, cold. I didn’t understand. There was nothing I could do to re-establish the bond which I thought was absolutely unbreakable. For many years I tried to reconnect but she didn’t want to have anything to do with me. She made that very clear. I can’t say I didn’t have clues, I had many: the way she treated her parents and only saw them once, maybe twice a year. They were not allowed to visit her in Boston.There were many other signs, I saw the pieces of the puzzle but never put it together until now. She was emotionally damaged and people had been telling me that for years. I just couldn’t believe them, I didn’t want to believe them. My very best friend in the world, not only broke my heart but shattered it. She ended our friendship quickly and abruptly as if she was throwing an emotional grenade in our direction, then she turned and fled. Not looking back. Ever.

My Favorite Sound

Raindrops falling on water

Image via Wikipedia

“Raindrops on roses and whiskers on kittens….”

 

One of my favorite sounds is the sound of pouring rain outside my window. If I am in bed I snuggle under many layers of blankets with a smile. The sound of rain comforts me; I feel peaceful and happy and grateful that I am not outside, scrambling to take cover. Rain can fall in a pattern, like a well- sung song and the wind, accompanies the song to make a symphony of nature.

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I’d Be Lost Without You

2008-10-22 - 010 - Kona, Hawaii, snorkeling, f...

Image by cfinke via Flickr

Every morning I am greeted with a smile, a hug and a freshly brewed cup of coffee. He even sniffs the milk before he pours, knowing I have a super-sensitive nose and will gag if I even think something has gone sour. Today there was a small fruit cup with blueberries, strawberries and cantaloupe, sliced with love from a steady, beautiful hand. My hands shake so he carries the full cup of coffee to me, so I don’t feel bad and so there will be no spills on our fake linoleum Spanish tiles in the kitchen. In the middle of the night our feet or hands search for each other for reassurance and comfort. I don’t even mind when he snores loudly, though I do punch him lightly in the arm. Without protest he turns over. I used to say “turn over” but with our marriage code I have shortened the phrase to “apple” as in apple turnover and he knows exactly what I mean.

We have our own language, he and I, built on twenty-five years of togetherness, love and friendship. We are each others’ best friend.  I am not saying we have always had the perfect marriage because no marriage is perfect. We have had our rough years, our tough times but we struggle through it together, knowing that home is not just a place but a feeling. I sat through a Gordon Lightfoot concert for him, he came to see Neil Diamond for me. Sometimes he blurt things out that are supposed to be secret; sometimes I reveal my feelings when I shouldn’t. Sam Adams for him, Diet Coke for me. His Scotch is my Yoo-hoo, his dark chocolate is my milk chocolate.

I want our children to see that our marriage is strong, loving, yet not without flaws. I want them to know that marriage, like any relationship, needs work, a strong commitment and loving companionship. We help each other when difficult situations arise, and in life, they always do. When we were first married, we went through the infertility process together; it breaks many couples apart yet it brought us closer together. We share pain and joy, I am more emotional, he is more practical. We balance each other like a delicate balancing toy, sometimes tipping over, always able to right itself to startling precision.We try to laugh even during hard times. He has taught me to be less pessimistic; I have taught him that it is okay to be vulnerable.

Through the 25 years of our relationship we have grown closer together even after we have grown apart. He likes skiing, I like sunshine, he plays racquetball, I need to write. For a little while we thought it was odd that we did not share activities in common but we adjusted and compromised. We trust each other so that if he wants to go skiing, he goes with a friend. If I need sunshine in the middle of a gray, cold winter, I have flown to Florida for a few days. We can be independent of each other yet always happy to reconnect. We share the joy of traveling together, France, Australia, Amsterdam,  Aruba, Rhode Island. We held hands when we snorkeling on our engagement trip in Hawaii, my most favorite memory. While he would prefer to stomp through old ruins, I would rather walk on the beach finding seashells; we compromise.

He is an atheist, I believe in G-d. We have two amazing children, a boy, 18 and a girl, 16. We share their triumphs and their pain; we help each other deal with our ever-changing reality. If the children attack us, as teenagers often do, we immediately look at each other. The silent language of marriage is a subtle one, but we speak it fluently.

I fear the day that one of us is left alone. I pray it won’t be for a very long time yet thinking about it frightens me. He is the one person that I trust with my life, that I can count on without question. He feels the same way about me. We know the best and the worst of each other and accept and acknowledge both. If I had to, I know deep down, that I could survive without him; I just don’t want to.

*I’m Talking Fruit Loops

Going Loopy

Image by terren in Virginia via Flickr

Earlier today I met my friend Sarah for lunch at our local coffee shop.  I nibbled on a small fresh (?) fruit salad and ate a few bites of an egg white omelette. I felt virtuous for about two hours, eating only healthy food and grazing. We talked about everything, our kids, our maladies and the current stomach bug that was circulating through town and through the high school.

Once home, couple of hours later, I felt faint and nauseous. Just hearing the stomach bug going around made me reach for the Saltines. Later that night, for dinner, I had some of my absolutely divine homemade chicken soup, a soft carrot or two floating around, a piece of a turnip and parsnip, ( I have no idea which is which), a couple of crackers crushed into the soup.  I’ve heard of so many people getting some virus or another, ’tis the season, I suspect. So, I decided I must have the stomach bug or I am ABOUT to get the bug because my appetite was teeny-tiny, no more than a red breasted robin would eat at one time.

Then I went upstairs and started listening and watching You Tube songs on my computer.  “In the Arms Of an Angel” by Sarah Mclaughlin, “Vincent,” by Don Mclean and a beautiful, touching song I had never heard before by Josh Groban called “To Where You Are.” I got fixated on this song I had never heard and I listened to it about 20 times, over and over again.  I started thinking about all the people who I have loved that passed away. Holidays do that to you, you know. My dad, a dear aunt, my friend Janine’s father and mother-in-law, all the people I have lost and people who my friends lost.  I started getting depressed.

It’s the ho-h0-ho of the holiday season and many of us just can’t rejoice like we used to. There are so many factors: the economy, high unemployment, the kids are older, loved ones have passed and the world can be a scary place. I decided I needed something, I needed comforting, I needed…..cereal.

In the last two days by children decided that they loved cereal, not having bothered with it for about 5 years. I saw cereal, thought of cereal, bought cereal and had cereal on my mind. I crept downstairs to have two bowls of cereal. The first was a mixture of Honey Nut Cheerios, Grape Nuts (or as I call them Gravel Nuts) and two or three pieces of Cinnamon Toast Crunch. It wasn’t enough. I then came upon an individual box ( and we know those don’t count) of utterly charming, amazingly beautiful sugary Fruit Loops. I didn’t bother with the Mini Shredded Wheat with Bran, or the Flax seed cereal, or the Multi-Grain Mix. Nope, no way. I went straight to the hard stuff. Nothing talks mood elevator like Fruit Loops! How can you be weary and sad after looking at those darling purple, red, yellow, green morsels of edible jewelery.

All of a sudden I felt happier and of course fully distracted from my depressing thoughts and sad memories.  The Fruit Loops were the delightful high of my evening and not only that, I was cured. I was cured physically and emotionally and I felt happier. Cure of all ills, thy name is sugar. Amen.

*This post is not approved by Weight Watchers

Listen to the Josh Groban song, you can see it here: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=-uIQp9Dqcrw

Most Romantic Thing Ever

Love, Young Love

copos de nieve / snowflake

His name was John and he was visiting from England. He had twinkling blue eyes and a slow, easy grin. He was absolutely gorgeous. I was in my mid-twenties and I was living in Boston;  I was in-between apartments and ended up staying at a local inn. One night there was a knock on my door, it was Barbara, the Manager of the Inn inviting me to dinner in her downstairs apartment. Barbara was an amazing cook and soon we became best friends. We ate huge, Italian meals by ourselves or with an expanded set of friends. We laughed, we partied; Barbara would sing for us with her rich and beautiful voice; we watched ice-skating together and ate fabulous home-cooked meals. During the day, after my work, Barbara and I clutched each other as we skated on the frozen sidewalks picking out French pastries for dessert. In a short time we all had become each others’ family.

One day she introduced me to a young man named John, from England, who was staying at the Inn. Barbara, kind of heart and spirit, always invited “orphans” for dinner. I met John and I didn’t like him, and he didn’t like me either. We fought and argued and disagreed about most everything. Apparently when the fighting was bad, Barbara asked our friend Steven (known as Stella to his close friends) if she should separate us at the dinner table. Apparently, Steven, sensing something, said “absolutely not.”

Honestly, I don’t know how, why or when the switch was flipped but soon John and I had quite a bit to talk about. We were laughing and smiling, hardly realizing there were other people in the room. When it was late and dark, John asked if he could walk me home and I said “yes.” Stella smiled smugly as we left holding hands.

We spent all our free time together, getting to know each other well in the upcoming weeks/months. On our first official date John arrived bringing a bottle of wine, flowers, a tiny stuffed bear and a T-shirt that he actually had made up for me. The T-shirt was beige with big red and black letters that read: LLBBF: 11:11 (initials for a nickname John invented and my favorite time in the world, 11:11pm.) Only Barbara, John and I knew what the nickname stood for. I had never been treated with such sweet kindness ever before.

Thirty years later I still have the tee-shirt, hidden deep in one of my closets. I haven’t thought of it in a long time but today it reminds me of a wonderful, warm and magical time in my life. Romance was blossoming, I was young and John and I walked, arms around each other, amid the glittery, sparkling snowflakes.

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