waiting, waiting

English: Animation of a diaphragm exhaling and...

English: Animation of a diaphragm exhaling and inhaling (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

waiting, waiting

fingers shaking

we haven’t even left for the CAT scan, hard to breathe.

i’m playing it strong for my honey, he would do it for me naturally i just need to work at it a little harder but i know deep inside I can do it. I am doing it and have been for the last what seems like forever.

trying not to play the what if game, but once in a while it sneaks into the cracks like a deadly snake, from behind with its rapid, insidious long tongue. hiss, hiss.

this is what a grown-up is, i’m sorry baby, there is nothing for you to do until we know something and even then, your life stays the same.

i’ve been trying to meditate, deep breathing, slowly in and out, but as the hands on the clock keep ticking, I seem to swallow more, it takes more effort to remember how. did you think I would disturb the test for an unknown? never. ever.

life is certainly not always about pudding and pastries, if only, right?

in two minutes, we have to leave, oh that’s now.

of course we’re early but good luck! they take him right away, in less than ten minutes, he’s back, bad news: no results for 24 hours.

we sit again, waiting, waiting. until tomorrow. trying to think that waiting is often better than knowing.

tomorrow comes, not that but this…

see a cardiologist, it could be this or that but not the other.

so we go on, we have no choice, once again. to do what we have to do.

my stomach is clenched, it hurts so much, tension begets tension.

all i want is for all to be okay and then we can breathe normally soon.

or can we?

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I Can Barely Find My Shoes

NYC - Metropolitan Museum of Art - Abduction o...

Image by wallyg via Flickr

The darkening skies have lifted to show off a mild blue sky and yellow buds on naked trees. I was up all night suffering from IBS (Irritable Bowel Syndrome) which seems to have some connection to my Fibromyalgia though I don’t really understand it. At 4am, being a mother of two teenagers I became a child myself. I was alone in the house except for my dog and the children fast asleep downstairs. I was in a lot of pain and sometimes pain takes away my judgment. I go online to see if any of my friends are there because I need to talk to someone calm, motherly.

Luckily my friend, Michal, who lives in a different country, is awake and I ask her the same things I know deep inside. It is the same advice I would tell my children or friends or my spouse to do. The fact that she is awake and talking to me calms me immediately. She tells me to drink Coke and to stir the bubbles out with a fork or Alka-Seltzer, baking soda and water…..I tiptoe down the stairs and I am overjoyed that I have found a dusty yet unopened bottle of ginger ale to drink. In my race with pain I had totally forgotten the right things to do. It was her being there that made me feel better, more than the few sips of soda that I swallowed in the dark.

We all need people sometimes, whether we have a chronic disease or if we are perfectly happy and healthy. I have Fibromyalgia and Hashimoto’s Thyroiditis and Narrow Angled Glaucoma but it took these diseases to learn to ask for favors. A few weeks ago I asked my friend Sarah to go with me to the city because I would not, without someone’s help, be able to make it home if  my eye doctor needed to do surgery at the Eye Hospital. It was hard for me to ask her, but I did, and I needed her help desperately. It taught me the balance between being independent and dependent and the fuzzy middle line we all try to achieve. I don’t think twice about offering help to a friend or an acquaintance but feel awkward asking. I have relied on my husband for the last two years, when he was home, unemployed,  to such an extent that I needed to relearn my own skills and find my independent self again. I had lost her, she was hidden in piles of soft, flowered comforters, next to pre-made cups of coffee and the security of my husband’s endless amount of hugs.

I am glad I have found my old self again because I  need to make decisions and be responsible for myself. At the same time I am glad I can finally ask for favors when I really need them. I don’t like having all these illnesses and I don’t like that my husband is working five days a week far away from me. I do like knowing I can handle things myself, even if I do need help once in a while from a friend. There are so many decisions to make in a single day, so many minute details that I actually trip over them every so often. I get out of bed in the morning, slowly, with aches and pains and I do everything I need to do when in fact I can barely find my shoes. Sometimes there is a strength that we all have inside that enables us to pull ourselves together and go through the day and the long nights. I am not always able to do everything on my own and I do need help at times but I am happy that I have rediscovered me, balanced albeit sometimes unsure.

*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

Fibro Frights And Fatal Fantasies

 

anxiety

Image by FlickrJunkie via Flickr

 

I messed up and didn’t realize that the PFAM’s ( Patients For A Moment) blog carnival deadline was by midnight tonight. The subject was fear. I’m wondering if deep inside I just didn’t feel up to writing, competing, finishing or if I was dissassocating myself from the project. I was going to talk about the web of anxiety and how it feels when it starts to swell in my stomach. It always starts in my stomach beginning with a slight twinge, quickly advancing to panic and anxiety. My arms and legs feel tingly and somehow not connected to my body, I am alternately hot and cold or both together.

The first time that queasy sensation started was the summer before my freshmen year at college.  I was eating dinner with my family in a fancy Italian restaurant in Queens, NY.  I couldn’t eat, I couldn’t speak, it was the first time I had ever felt anxious and I remember calling it “cold dread.” How could I explain this new, horrible feeling when I had never experienced it before? How do you name something you do not know?

Those fearful sensations in my body became like a close cousin to me. We lived as if we were conjoined; I could not separate reality from frightful fantasies. It was something that I have learned to live with and deal with.  I started with a tiny germ of truth and blew it up out of proportion. There was no stopping my obsessive worrying, nothing helped: warm milk, hot baths, reading a book, distraction.  I remember a time when I was sitting in the trolley in Boston and thought what I had whispered to my friend was overheard by someone else and I became overwhelmed and frightened. What if? What if? It became a wakeful nightmare for me.  I did a lot of catastrophizing back then and even now, once in a while, it still tries to creep into my brain. I need to forcefully push it away, as if an intruder was about to enter and I had to slam the door hard, with brute force.  Sometimes that is enough, sometimes it isn’t.

My cousin’s stomach ache could be pancreatic cancer,  my sister’s low throaty voice could mean she was manic, my narrow-angled glaucoma could make me blind in a second.  I worked with a hot-headed, explosive employee that I thought, for sure, would bring a gun to a grievance meeting and shoot us all. I remember strategically seating myself closest to the door, just in case. I lived in a world of tragedy, of horrendous outcomes, death, madness, cancer, stroke, coma, terrorist attacks, murder, mayhem and more. “Health and welfare” is what I worry about as I tried to succinctly wrap it up like an adorned Christmas present, perfect silver wrapping with a tight red bow.

The truth of the matter is that now we DO live in a fearful world and something COULD happen.  Fear perpetuates fear and even while  I am writing this down I feel the first fingers of anxiety like a gray mouse with darting eyes. I take deep cleansing breathes. I ask myself questions: “what are the odds of that happening?” The media doesn’t help: “Don’t go to public places when you are traveling in Europe” What? Of course we would go to public  places if we were in Europe. Is too much information just too much?  I refuse to watch the news on TV before I go to sleep.  The only thing we can do is try to push the worry aside and live as normally as we can; even if it takes enormous strength and effort. Carpe Diem as they said at Boston College where I worked: Seize The Day, as best as you can.

On Sickness, Stress and Candy

I’m discombobulated, anxious, confused. I feel funny, like there is something wrong, and there is. It’s not me though, which is worse, it’s that my son is sick and my daughter is disappointed. I hate it when my kids are sick/unhappy. I have a feeling this never ends, the worry moms have for their children. My husband is as involved with the kids as I am, but not in the same way. It’s a completely different style. He isn’t worried, he takes things in stride, he lives in the moment. I wish I could do that. Believe me, I’ve tried.

I wake up and feel that something is wrong. My stomach feels uneasy. Something just doesn’t feel “right.” I don’t think it’s because my daily routine has been jarred, I think it’s my heart. The inside part, the one that cracks a tiny bit, the one that is directly connected, like the umbilical cord was, to my offspring.

There is also this: the incredible stress of unemployment, for my husband and myself. I have been really good, patient, relaxed (as much as one can be) but now these other factors are making my anxiety index reach the sky. I know that things are out of control in my brain, when I can’t put my finger on exactly what’s bothering me and than realize everything is. I try to breathe slowly, it doesn’t help.

Months ago I had lung problems and a non-stop cough. It was horrible. I was then given a nasal spray to help me but I did not know that the taste in my mouth would be vile. VILE, in capital letters, on purpose. I thought that buying some candy would somehow dissipate the gosh-awful taste in the back of my throat but it didn’t. The Good n’ Plenty that I bought for a remedy did not work but at least it reminded me of easier times, when I was a child, eating those pretty pink and white candies, swinging on the swings in Forest park, surrounded by my friends and their moms. Everything was easy then, at least to us kids. Our parents, well, they probably were experiencing what I am experiencing right now. Being a grown-up.

I will get over myself I’m sure, when my children are healthy and happy.  I think then, I can handle my own stress, my own illness, manage my own pain. As long as it’s not the pain of my children, I can handle anything.