Loving The Ocean, Settling For A Lake?

Dear Fibromyalgia,

Another loss, another dream dashed, this one really hurts. All my life my dream was to live in a small house near the ocean. It was my fantasy, the one thing that I could think about when I felt a little down or when the Winter seemed unending.

Rainbow Waves

Rainbow Waves (Photo credit: The Uprooted Photographer)

Someday…I told myself, I will live in a beach house, and swim in the ocean. To me, the ocean is life, it is majestic, magical. It is the one source of pleasure I can count on, always.

Ever since I was a child my favorite activity would be to collect shells, to feel their shape between my fingers. What were the dominant colors? I used one as a “worry stone” others shaped like hearts I would give to my children. Another one with a little hole on top, I used as a necklace.

Seashell

Seashell (Photo credit: Moyan_Brenn (back soon, sorry for not commenting))

When I was hot, I would drift into the ocean between the two green flags and submerge my whole body and head into the oncoming waves. I was not a timid swimmer. I loved to jump wave after wave, it was thrilling for a scaredy-cat like me. It was adventurous and bold for someone scared to take chances.

In the water I was brave, confident, and happy. It was hard to get me out of the water but when I came out, usually under protest, I was out only until my swimsuit was dry, and then I went back in. I never had the patience to lie in the sun just to get a tan. Never. If I was in the sun for more than three minutes, it was far too long.

The beach was MY place. My secret place. I can’t even allow myself to have the fantasy anymore which saddens me. I have no balance and no strength since I got Fibromyalgia, seven years ago. My life was stolen from me, little by little. The last time I went into the ocean was in Florida, three years ago, with my daughter, and I couldn’t get up out of the water. I kept getting thrown under, again and again until I couldn’t breathe.

Fibromyalgia Eye

Fibromyalgia Eye (Photo credit: Vinally2010)

I needed her to help me get up. It took several times.

I lost part of myself that day and every day since. I know now that it IS a progressive disease, I feel it. I know with time I have gotten worse; my dream will never come true.

Beautiful, Tranquil Water

Beautiful, Tranquil Water (Photo credit: BrotherMagneto)

If I ever get to live close to the water it will have to be a lake but that’s not nearly the same as the ocean, not even close. Dreams die, health fades, burdens multiply. We cannot do anything else but accept. Accepting graciously is one option. I’m not there yet.

So, Thanks Fibromyalgia, you not only messed with my body this time, you messed with my dreams and emotions too. Way to go.

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My Fibro Fantasy, Rated X

I admit it, I fantasize, doesn’t everybody? There’s a possibility that tomorrow morning my fantasy could come true but most likely not. I’ve been here before. Several times and it hasn’t worked yet. It probably won’t ever work, it will never change, not in my life time.

FIBROMYALGIA

FIBROMYALGIA (Photo credit: *SHESHELL*)

I have an appointment with a new Rheumatologist that practices close to where I live. The doctor I am using is a wonderful doctor and a compassionate man, I have no complaints except he practices in the big city and it is a pain (literally and figuratively) in the ass to take public transportation to see him.

I can’t do it anymore, alone. I don’t have the stamina and energy  that I used to have. When did that go?  I used to drive my car to the train, walk up the flight of stairs to buy a ticket, down another flight of stairs to get to the train. After the ride I had to climb another flight of stairs and usually walk or take a taxi to the doctor’s office. It was a very long walk but I could do it. I could do that years ago but no longer. What changed?

English: The location of the nine paired tende...

English: The location of the nine paired tender points that comprise the 1990 American College of Rheumatology criteria for fibromyalgia. (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

I don’t know where or when my energy dissipated, perhaps it atrophied but I don’t have even 10 percent of it anymore.

Why the fantasy?

Because in the back of my teeny, tiny brain, somewhere in the bottom, left-handed corner, deep in the middle of the 36th quadrant, 76 degrees counter-clockwise there is a dot of hope that THIS doctor will help me. That SHE will jump up from behind her leather chair and wooden desk and exclaim “Oh NO!! You have been misdiagnosed. You do NOT have Fibromyalgia, you have a rare disease called Tortellini Soupadejour, highly treatable, all you need to do is take one small pill every morning, no side effects.You will be cured in 3-5 days, Congratulations!

At that point I would burst into tears, hug her and my husband and feel faint with relief.

That’s the fantasy part.

I want that so badly that I can taste it. I want my old life back. Before Fibromyalgia. Not this crappy piece of shit. Yes, I appreciate it’s not life-threatening, truly, but to hurt every day and night, to have NO energy is no fun either. I’ve also gotten to the point where I don’t care what other people think; I know what’s true and my Fibro Facebook Friends know.That’s all I care about now.

All I want to do tonight is cry. No, don’t feel bad for me, that just makes it worse. Besides, if I told you how I really felt, I would be holding you up for an hour. You know that, just acknowledge it and move on. I hate pity parties and if I want pity, believe me, I will give myself the pity party I deserve. I don’t want pity from anyone else, but thanks.

I want to scream at the world, I want to lash out at nice people who ask me, with hope, how I am feeling? I’ve decided on just saying “fine.” If I was honest it would take an hour and people would get bored and probably wouldn’t believe me anyway. My true friends can see it on my face or hear it in my voice, over the phone even.

All they need to see is a glimpse of me, a catch in my voice, generally my friends are like me, sensitive, compassionate, at least most of them.

Unicorn

Unicorn (Photo credit: scorpiorules58)

I am NOT expecting any miracle tomorrow, I know everything will be the same. She is just easier to get to, I don’t need my husband to drive me, I can get there on my own. The bloody diagnosis will be the same, I may burst into tears but not because I have a new diagnosis but because I had a speck of hope which was the stupidest thing to have, ever and the worst part? I knew that all along.

 

 

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Flare-Up Friday

Cluster headache

Cluster headache (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

DEDICATED TO ALL MY FIBRO FRIENDS

My world is gray and I feel like a dull-looking ice-cube. Last night, I knew something was going on in my body, things were changing. After all these years you would think I would know immediately the signs of a flare-up but I look for excuses. Basically, I lie to myself. I’ve had small headaches for a week, usually at night, all of a sudden that changed to a more serious headache. My balance which is not good became much worse. I needed the pink cane to be able to walk without falling. Anyone looking at me from behind would have sworn I was drunk. I wasn’t.

My husband said I “didn’t look right” I’m not sure what that means exactly but apparently I didn’t look “good.” For two days before this I had (note past tense) been feeling great (as great as one can feel when you have Fibromyalgia.) I had showered, dressed, out the door for two days in a row, fairly early, running errands, taking photographs, shopping, meeting a friend. It’s not like I was doing a triathlon, just regular things that most people don’t even think about. But for us Fibro warriors we, unfortunately, need to think about everything.

I was proud, feeling strong. Then, I crashed. My back was aching ridiculously, of course I blamed the uncomfortable chair at the restaurant. My appetite certainly didn’t suffer, If I’m hungry I must be fine. Two trips to the women’s room, a little unusual but nothing to even think about even though I knew deep inside it was IBS. I blamed my muscle aches and bone pain on the weather. My general feeling of discomfort, I was sure was from not drinking enough water during the day and not eating enough.

Yes, you got it, I was trying to pull a fast one on myself. I was trying to fake what I really knew was starting: a Fibro Flare-Up.  “Nooooo: I groaned to myself. I had done so well, I was outside a lot, with nature, trying to keep a positive attitude, all the things I am “supposed” to do. I was eating well,  healthy things like salads, drinking cranberry juice, no soda or diet soda, and eating fruit, veggies with yummy desserts but essentially all good things. I hadn’t gained or lost weight, my blood tests had all come back normal.

Even my green eyes felt heavy, tired and looked dull. I flunked the “eye-ball virus negative test*” known only to a few but it is a definite indicator of sickness vs. health. I knew my color was certainly not rosy thought it never really is but it had that “look” the one moms (and some dads) see on their children’s faces in one second begging the immediate question: “are you feeling okay?”

I was cold, so I went to bed early piled under a massive amount of blankets, (6) and tried to get warm. That was a hard one, I was still cold. Took two aspirin for my head (not allowed to take Advil per my doctor which I now long for like a junkie) and tried to go to sleep. When I woke up this morning, the headache was still there, I was still freezing and I couldn’t get out of bed.

I sighed, I knew what it was all along. I just pretended that it was allergies or my imagination. Do you do that too? Well, it didn’t work. So now, it’s Saturday, I’m under six blankets, still shivering in my bed with my headache, my husband brought me coffee in bed and I’m under the Fibromyalgia House Arrest. There are no colors in this room and basically it hurts to move. If you need me I’ll be here but for now, I think I’ll take a nap. I’m too tired from just waking up to do anything but sleep.

*eyeball virus negative test: a diagnosis based on a game about rapid movement from your eyes, going left to right and back etc.

I am sick, I am not sick, I am

Pain #TP637

Pain #TP637 (Photo credit: ConnectIrmeli)

I am not sick. I am. I am sick if I feel pain, pain hurts. Sick is pain, not bumping up against walls and tremors. So, I am not sick. Not now. Not yet. You did hear me, right? I am not sick. What happens when invisible illness become visible? When a pink cane accompanies me everywhere? I am not invisible anymore. People see me and give it a thought, “oh, there’s something wrong with HER, I wonder what it is.”

I think the same thing, flatly, without terror, at least today. What IS wrong with me. I have shut down for the most part and if I could stay in bed in my white-flowered pajamas, thin and comfortable, I would do that all day and night. I can’t. My kids are home today for a visit and as most parents know, I would do anything not to scare them or put them through any unnecessary concern.

I am unbalanced, imbalanced. I cannot walk a straight line. My neurologist was cavalier the first time he saw this, in fact he ignored it. Why would he ignore something as strange as that? Maybe because he ran over his 8 minute limit.  I don’t like him. I don’t like a doctor who does not acknowledge emotion, who pretends it is not there. I need to switch. He didn’t want to give me this second MRI but my” huggable rheumatologist” insisted. He is a doctor I respect. A person that you can be proud to call your doctor.

I need a favor, I have asked a friend and she can’t do it. I have asked another friend and I haven’t heard back. I hate asking for favors. Do I ask again or just call a cab? I’m too tired to even make this decision. My room is disgustingly disorganized and I don’t have the energy to clean it but I will try for ten minutes. There is a banana bread in the oven baking for my son for his 24 hour visit, I would have crawled to make that for him, I had to lean on counters but I did it. I just hope I don’t burn it since I am lying down upstairs.

I’m getting very tired. Tired of tests, tired of illnesses, tired of sickness upon sickness piling up on me. This blog is the friend I can always talk to. I do not tell my mother half of what is going on because I don’t want her to worry. Here, I can say anything, I am not seeking pity, just a few minutes of peace of mind. It generally doesn’t work but I give it a try. I have nothing to lose. I cannot hide because I am here, just because I don’t complain does not mean I don’t hurt.

photograph credit to the noted photographer above.

no rights.

A Warm Welcome For New Chronic Pain Members

Strelitzia reginae, also known as Bird of Para...

Image via Wikipedia

Dear New Chronic Pain Member,

I won’t say “Congratulations” for being in this particular club, a club that we all wish we were not in. Life works in very strange ways. There are some things we can’t possibly understand and there are some things we just have to accept; chronic pain/illness falls into that category. Whatever you have gone through there’s a pretty good chance we’ve  all been there and back. At least, you have found the most supportive bunch of people I’ve ever known. Even though what we have in common isn’t exactly our love for food (well, that too) it’s nice to surround yourselves with people who truly understand. Trust me, it helps.

Yesterday I dragged my aching bones and stiff joints up the four stairs for a consultation with a different Rheumatologist/Fibromyalgia doctor, even four steps felt like a lot and the rail  on the wall  called my name; I let it. Unlike my old doctor this new human being seemed attentive and concerned, he didn’t smirk once, didn’t put me down at all. He even talked to me (and not to my husband which used to happen all of the time.) Most of all, this guy  seemed to care. He interrupted my exam to talk to a suffering patient and while I don’t think that’s good form, listening to his soothing voice and gentility made it alright with me. It made me feel that I could call him for questions or concerns, not just send him e-mails like the old dude.

For a patient with a chronic illness or multiple chronic illnesses, a good rapport with a doctor is imperative. Go to a doctor that will give you the gift of hope. I’ve been around the block a few times here, actually 4 years worth so please listen so if I can shield you from the mistakes I have made, please let me.

This is my story, while going through menopause at age 50, my body basically fell apart. I developed an underactive thyroid, aches and pains, high cholesterol and a kangaroo stomach pouch, as I’ve said before “without a joey.” After many mistrials with many doctors, four years later I am here.  My old rhuematologist used to growl and say “Fibromyalgia is a lazy diagnosis.” What was that supposed to mean? Did that mean I didn’t have it because I certainly felt like I did. Those of us who have chronic pain know it; we feel it, eat it, and breathe it. We live with it day by day, aching night by night. There is no question in our minds but a big question mark still for some doctors, the wrong doctors. If your Doctor does not nod his/her head appreciatively or with empathy, do me a favor, walk out.

Fibromyalgia get’s a bad reputation and while it cannot be cured hopefully it can be helped. I had at least 14 out of the 17 pressure points and I was still on a lot of medication. I like that this Dr. took me off things that he thought I didn’t need. NOTE to fellow sufferers: If you have Fibromyalgia or any chronic pain illness and high cholesterol like me, ask your Doctor about side effects from certain drugs. Four years into this I just learned (from my mother)  Zocor or generic Simvastatin causes muscle aches and fatigue. Ask your own physician or call my mom if you want.

I also have an auto-immune illness of my thyroid, called Hashimoto’s Thyroiditis. What this means is basically my thyroid cells attack each other and this illness too brings pain and fatigue as well. Also, something called connective tissue disorder as well as others:  TMJ, IBS, Interstial Cystitis, bouts of anxiety etc.

I have no illusions that I will be “cured.” There is NO cure for my illnesses.  I am thankful I have friends who understand how I feel. Fellow sufferers who know what it means when I have a flare up  when the humidity is high and I am like a limp, achey, dishrag, basically hung out to dry. I’ve found that people without the disease don’t know how to handle “us.”  “Get more exercise” says my mother. “Go to a nutritionist”says my sister.  They mean well, they just don’t get it and how could they? We live in a different world.

The image of myself that I used to have was of a helpless kitty, crying and lost. Now, it is a beautiful, graceful flower,  purple and orange and called a Bird of Paradise. It looks like a bird‘s open beak, colorful, strong with its head, firmly, bravely, looking up. I pray it lasts.