People Called Me Lazy

free 'sweet' hugs

My Fibromyalgia was diagnosed four years ago along with an autoimmune (Hashimoto’s Thyroiditis) disease and a connective tissue disorder. They both were gifts I got after menopause. Thanks. I’d rather burst into tears a hundred times and change night shirts six times a night than have this. I’m sure I’ve had Fibromyalgia for a long time, I just didn’t know what it was.

I never had the same amount of energy that other people had and I always needed ten hours of sleep. I can’t function on less than eight but ten is ideal. Let’s not forget the nap too. I used to nap every day for three hours, every single day and I would head to bed at 9:3o pm each night. Every bone in my body hurt, I  thought I had the flu,  without the temperature  but it never went away. New pain pops up like the springs of an old mattress and I just sit there in utter disbelief.’ No,’ I would say to myself,’ it can’t be. Isn’t there enough pain and discomfort?’ Sigh. Apparently not.

This pain I have makes me feel like a hundred years old; my 83-year-old mother is in so much better shape than I am. She does yoga once a week, she swims every day,  she is out of her apartment all day, going to the city, socializing with friends. She literally runs around without stopping to rest or sit down or G-d forbid, nap.  In the beginning, before she understood, (does she really understand now?) she used to tell me that I needed more exercise which is a common thing for people with Fibromyalgia to be told, over and over again. Read My Lips, NO CAN DO. I can barely make it around the block twice with my friends. They continue for a third loop and I beg off, mostly I’m fine with it, a few times I have had a twinge of embarrassment even though there is no reason for me to feel that way.

You get unsolicited advice from many people, people who don’t have a chronic pain illness. Go holistic, just get massages, change your diet. They might as well say dye your hair, or drink raw eggs or spin like a top and throw up as a cleanse. We KNOW the choices that are out there, really, we do. But generally we look to other pain sufferers for the answers not you. We know you mean well but frankly, it doesn’t help us.   Often, we don’t know WHAT to do and we are the ones that are suffering.  I’m there now. I’m not only caught up in the cotton-headed Fibromyalgia Fog (where am I, what did I come up here for?) that is my life but I feel unsure and anxious about my options.  I don’t know what to do or who to turn to or who to trust.  My energy is better from the medication I am currently on but now I have new pain in my legs. Great, I can stay up all day having more energy but with more pain. Do I have more pain from the side effects of the medication or from Fibromyalgia or wait, it could be from my auto-immune disease or connective tissue disorder. Listen up, world, I can’t speak for other people, but I am often unsure and clueless, trying to live in this world, day by day. I’m the first one to admit that I have no clue if what I am doing is right. How can we know that? We go to top doctors and hope for the best, sometimes it just isn’t enough. Do we settle? Do we stretch? Do we give up on medications? Is six weeks enough time to know that a medicine is working? Who knows? We don’t have the answers either, believe me it’s our fervent wish to understand and solve these medical mysteries.

I have stopped scheduling things in advance because I don’t know how I will feel that day at that time. My good friends understand, they will say “let’s talk the morning of” and I really appreciate it. My friend Sarah will just say “let’s see how you feel” and her concern (and no advice) is for my health and I know she just wants me to feel good and be happy; I also know she worries about me. I appreciate everyone’s concern, truly, I just sometimes don’t know what to say. I wish I was healthier too and in less pain,  I wish I didn’t have new symptoms from time to time but I do. Please understand that I like it a whole lot less than you. I know you feel bad for me but be careful of your words, saying “just when I thought you had every symptom in the book, you get another one,” is really not helpful. I know what I am going through you don’t need to tell me. Just be there for me, listen, offer me gentle hugs and a shoulder to cry on, be supportive. Take it from me, that’s plenty and more than enough.

Fat Fits

OUCH!  My pants are killing me and they are digging into my stomach and causing major red welts. WHO put them in the dryer for so long??! It is obvious that they shrank to a smaller size. Who hasn’t asked the very same question or said those very same words? When you are in your twenties or early thirties, five, even ten pounds are not that hard to lose. You skip some desserts, eat a few more salads with dressing on the side, you’re pretty much back to where you were. Not really a big deal although it probably seems like it when it happens. After all, you have nothing to compare it to. You can moan or groan and be a size 6 or 8 or 12 or 22 and still feel conspicuous. You can lie (as most of us have done) and say it’s “water weight,” “I’m bloated” or “just too much salt in that French onion soup (regardless of the mountain of gooey, stringy cheese on top).”  It’s all very plausible and they basically mean the very same thing. It’s not fun but it is fairly easy.

Now,  we are married and pregnant and you ARE eating for two! Thank goodness I had my children in my early thirties because now I hear that you are only supposed to gain about eight pounds for your entire pregnancy. Eight pounds? I probably gained that in between office visits when I was pregnant.  I didn’t crave pickles and ice cream much to my husband’s disappointment; he wanted me to wake him up in the middle of the night with cravings for chocolate ice cream with butterscotch syrup. I just wanted to sleep without peeing every hour on the hour.   With my son I craved Chinese food, French rolls from Dunkin’ Donuts with grape jelly (no butter) and bologna and orange American cheese sandwiches on white bread with butter; chocolate milk was the beverage of choice. After all, the baby and I needed calcium.

When I was pregnant with my daughter, a  mere twelve months after my son was born, we thought she would be Greek because all I ever wanted were Greek salads with extra feta cheese, all the time. It sounds healthy but it really wasn’t. The Italian (I know, right?) place I got it from gave giant-sized portions with about two pounds of salty feta cheese along with their deliciously creamy home-made dressing; extra dressing on the side, please.  It was a salad, and, in my befuddled brain, that meant healthy. It was also served with a lot of bread.  In addition, since I was pregnant in the summer, Carvel’s vanilla cones, dipped in multi-colored sprinkles were a must or extra thick, creamy French vanilla milkshakes to quell the nausea (if there was nausea), of course. Again, we needed even more calcium.  All that vanilla and my second child, my daughter, loves only chocolate. It figures.

Losing baby weight from two pregnancies in a row is a joke and besides, those pregnancy pants are so darn comfortable. Skip ahead a few years, okay, more than a few, and you’re fifty. You’ve gone through peri-menopause, menopause and post menopause and every single thing in and on  your body changes and you pretty much fall apart. The three pounds you used to be able to lose in two days? Gone.  You have gained weight by NOT changing your diet at all and you’ve developed a large kangaroo pouch for which there is no joey. Your fat is redistributed and your clothes don’t fit the same anymore. Your waist has all but (speaking of the butt, the butt reinvents itself and is its country), your hips take on Titanic proportions and you can’t even begin to describe your upper legs as thighs. They are more like battleships and the more you walk around, the more they shift and fight each other and no one ever wins; there are no survivors.

It doesn’t take a genius to figure things out and you don’t have to be a brain surgeon to put the pieces together; you are older now, middle- aged, middle- aged plus, or old and your body, in a sense, is breaking down. To put it clearly, after a certain age, you really do start falling apart.  I find this happening more to women than men but that could be because we just talk about it more. That is, women talk to women about these kinds of things ad nauseum.  This is not a discussion they are having with their boyfriends or lovers or G-d forbid, their husbands.  If we don’t speak about it, it must not be true.

The years go by, the numbers go up. You try to exercise but the numbers stay the same. If the numbers go up, it’s definitely muscle mass. It’s so damn cold outside how can we exercise? It is way too icy to walk and heaven forbid slip, you don’t want a broken ankle especially because your bones are more brittle now too.  You have the elliptical machine that you could use but with the foot/heel problems you have had your orthopedist strongly recommends you NOT use it because of the trauma to your already torn ligament. Of course there’s indoor swimming, which even if you had the ridiculous amount of money they charge at the gym, the thought of swimming indoors and going back outside to the freezing cold with wet hair is less than desirable. Don’t you get an instant cold that way? That could lead to the flu, swine, regular or all-purpose.

What can you do?  You either fight like hell and become a person who is relentless in starving and maintaining the lowest calorie account imaginable.  You can eat a moderate amount and not forsake all the things you love.  Or, you can eat as much as you want, when you want and just buy bigger clothes.  There are a few options in between and we can justify whichever one we want.  Basically,  fat is a relative thing. Health is a whole other article.  Do what’s right and what’s comfortable for you and don’t let anyone, ANYONE judge you. I’m not saying that I wouldn’t want to lose the extra ten or……if I easily could. But, the fact is, I’ve tried and I’ve tried again. Being 53 I just don’t care that much about what other people think of me. I know who I am and I’m the same woman inside no matter what the label says; let us be comfortable in our own skin, inside and out.