Gray

Tropical Depression One upon being declared

Image via Wikipedia

In my 200th post (ok, I missed it, it’s really 201) I look back at who I was when I began, and who I am now. Many things have changed, many have stayed the same.I ‘ve always blogged about different things: pain, joy, food, celebrities, loss, egg salad, Food Network, chocolate and people. I blog about whatever I want and I don’t hold back; today my life feels gray and dark and tumultous.

The first bog I posted was tentative and scared; the name of my blog itself (hibernationnow)speaks volumes. I was a frightened and sick bear cub that wanted to burrow under blankets and hide, away from people, from symptoms, from pain, from life. I’d had enough of various illnesses and I just couldn’t deal with it anymore. Since writing had  been a passion in high school, I decided to take a chance and try once more, I decided to blog on-line. For me, it was a very bold  first step; I hadn’t written anything substantive for more than 35 years. I started with one post, here I am today. When I don’t write in a while, like now, trouble is brewing.

Having  chronic pain  is not an easy thing to deal with because it in itself is so unforgiving.  I have to consciously say out loud  ” this is not my fault. ” I have also learned from my blogger friends that “pain is pain” and that I can’t compare my pain to others nor should I diminish it. I give this group of women in the chronic pain world a lot of credit, they will hold you when you need it and tell you the truth when you deserve it. From them I learned that my pain is no greater or no lesser than anyone else’s pain. I hurt, therefore I am.  I am now owning my pain.  These women in the chronic pain community have given me support, information and emotional good cheer. We keep each other afloat and when one of us is down, the others rally around with gentle hugs. If the world could be run by this group there would be no war.

In the past year there’s been hospitalization,  various autoimmune drugs (and their evil side effects)  asthma, broken ankles, fibromyalgia and a thyroid with the beat of a listless, dull, old  gray-blue pidgeon. I was so nervous about my last routine round of blood tests that I had a full-fledged anxiety attack and needed to take a Xanax  but alas I was too far gone and it didn’t help.

For the past three or four days I’ve had excruciating pain in the small of my back and in my legs. Sitting, standing, sleeping or walking, this is a whole new arena of pain that I have never experienced. What is wrong with me? Why is this happening? What’s the matter with me?  In this tumbled world of chronic illness I don’t know where this particular pain is from. Is it a side effect from the medicine? Is it a pinched nerve? Is it something new and horrible?  Inside, you groan, “oh no, not again….” and still it continues. I am feeling depressed and ill at ease; I am now a stranger in my body and also, my mind.

My husband of 22 years has been unemployed for more than a year now. I’ve handled it well until recently but I think I am at a breaking point. We have a son who is a senior in high school and a daughter who is a junior in high school. The stakes are high at the moment, there seems to be a new challenge every day. There is chaos on top of chaos.  I’m trying hard to hold on but I can feel myself slipping. Perhaps my new pain is telling me to breathe, to slow down, to let the stress go. I’m trying.

I am in the eye of the storm and the world is whirling around me and I am stuck in the middle, unable to move, wanting to scream out but being incapable of screaming. There are so many things to do and so many emotions that it feels overwhelming.    I am stuck in pain, in conflict, in existence; I need to breathe, to find time to breathe and sit with music as my therapy and Advil by my side. Soon, I will ask for help.

Prednisone Bitch, Part 2 (ENERGY!!!)

The Energizer Bunny

Image by Ben+Sam via Flickr

I just made 5  huge portions of baked ziti and covered them all with shiny aluminum foil. I put two small portions in the freezer, for my daughter (she’s a vegetarian) I made a big one for all of us to eat tomorrow night and made 2 to give to a friend.  I also made chilled peach soup with spices  for my friend and bought her a still-warm Italian bread from the bakery as well as a bag of brownies. I delivered the food, found room in our crowded refrigerator for ours and practically buried my head in the freezer to make room for the rest.  I have folded three loads of laundry, have one load in the washing machine that I will soon transfer to the dryer. I loaded the dishwasher and ran it, and then washed various pots and pans by hand, rapidly. This is so not me, this is me on steroids; I could be a walking, no sprinting, advertisement about drugs: this is my body on steroids, this is my body without; what a difference!  I am spritzing  Fantastik on paper towels to wipe up spills, I am cleaning up the house. My movements make me dart back and forth and I am talking at a really fast pace. I actually think my husband prefers me like this, the “energizer bunny” onspeed and not my usual low-key self. He better not get used to it because in a few days it’s all over and I will be back to my old chronic pain and fatigued self. Unfortunately.

I know it will be depressing when I come 0ff of this steroid high but it’s amazing how good I feel. Rush, rush, rush. My fingers can’t  type as fast as my thoughts are running, streaking through my head. My son, looks at me both amusement and  concern: “Mom, calm down” he advises, but I explain to him that I cannot. I will however, be back to my usual sub-par pace in a mere few days. As for now, I feel chipper; a little too chipper. Remind me later, friends, when this wears off, what it felt like to read this, to feel this, to embrace this because every day I will feel less and less energized, more and more lethargic. I am the movie “Cocoon” for those of us old enough to remember. I am “Cocoon” the re-make, 2010.

Luckily, the bitchiness of the first day is over and I am no longer throwing darts, figuratively, at someone’s head. I am not sending off vapid e-mails and insulting comments, that was bad-me, ” Prednisone Bitch-Me.”  Thankfully, she  has left, departed, disappeared, leaving behind sparks and energy.  It was as if wild-me had been let out of hiding after many years or I had broken out of prison. The energy is here, the meanness is gone, it was a good trade.

Perhaps I will go to bed late tonight ( can you see me tiring out quickly?) and do a few more chores, instead of what I usually do: read in bed, watch a little Food Network television ( or Bravo or Travel) and play on my computer. Luckily, I have already DVR’d a few shows, which I have never done before but accomplished that this morning after my first cup of really strong, aromatic, Bustello coffee. Now I know that I can watch these shows at my leisure, when leisure finds its way back to me, say in about 4 days or so. Right now, I can’t at all describe myself as leisurely.

The first night I was on Prednisone I was roaming the house, inside, up and down my 13  carpeted steps because I could not fall asleep, I was up until after 2am, now I know why. Last night, with my allergies so bad I had to take a Benadryl, I nodded off at about 12:30am. My usual bedtime sans Prednisone is about 10:30 and that’s on a really good night.

My mind races, my legs, that usually, carry the weight of the world, walking slowly  and painfully in sneakers has all but disappeared. I am practically frolicking. It’s like a vacation from chronic pain, fatigue, fog, and lethargy. I am very alert though when someone is speaking to me I don’t listen as carefully because my mind is already formulating the next sentence.

I’ve typed this whole page in less than a few minutes but don’t give me credit. In a few days I probably look back and say how artificial the feeling was, how the energy was just too much. Will I do that? Probably not. I will remember how I felt with great fondness and longing. This is not what normal people feel either, this is steroids, pure and simple, artificial and dangerous and today, it feels good. I’m not going to lie.

The Awareness of Being

Stairs to Nowhere

Image by Rennett Stowe via Flickr

I am a chronic pain sufferer, and have been for the past four years. I consider myself lucky most of the time, comparing my pain threshold with those of my fellow sufferers. I know that pain-free is no longer an option, though I admit it took me some time to accept this.

I was on vacation last week with my family and we went to a small restaurant, up a flight of stairs. I gripped the hand rail on my right, yet I still couldn’t move. I reached my left arm to find the left hand rail and I tried to move. Nothing happened. This is how some people live all the time, this is a limitation, this is an awareness that made me think of other sufferers. People in wheel chairs, people with a disability, and less so, people like me. I remember that the steel handrails were cold, and I remember not being able to get up those stairs. Luckily, my husband gave me a push up and I made it up one uncomfortable step. It took a moment for me to get up another step and when I was finally up the six  steps, I was weary and tired, and every bone in my body hurt.

It was not attention I was seeking nor was it the awareness of myself feeling weak. I thought of other people who have much more pain than  have. I also felt bad for people who didn’t have a loving husband/partner to help them up from the rear. I understood, in those few minutes of time, what it felt like to be physically disabled but more aware of this disability for people who have to do this every time they think about taking a step.

I appreciated sitting down at the table though I felt a bit unsteady. I remembered to drink, a sweet refreshing fruit juice drink that lifted my spirits, and of course, my sugar intake.  I made it up those stairs all the while thinking of how I was going to get down. I had no choice in this situation, I knew I would have to do it and I did. I felt grateful for the awareness of my limitations in comparison to others. Those of us with chronic pain do not have a wheelchair to use for a clue to the outside world, or a cane to show others are limitations. We live in silent awareness and while we understand each other, it is hard for outsiders to understand. We are the invisible victims of pain, of suffering and only with communicating with other people, one by one will we get our message known.

Pain is pain, we all feel it, we all deal with it the best way we know how. In our hearts, we should acknowledge those with more pain, it doesn’t lessen our own pain, but it emphasizes our commitment for understanding and awareness and most importantly, our acceptance and empathy for others.