Simple Pleasures

English: Fireplace. For more translations SEE ...

English: Fireplace. For more translations SEE BELOW (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

I like walking on the beach and collecting seashells. I love watching the ocean, any time of year. Sitting in front of a fireplace watching the orange flames flicker and dance in front of me; I sit so close that I feel the warmth of the fire on my cheeks, safe enough not to get burned. Familiar music playing that I sing along to, I used to burn candles but I don’t do that as much anymore. It used to be comforting and pretty but I’ve outgrown that. My dad used to buy me a candle for my birthday every year. Since he died eleven years ago, my mom and my sister try to do that, it’s so sweet but not the same. I love their intentions though, I appreciate it.

I’m looking forward to the special sweetness of a pit-free clementine, the happy, simple snack that I can just grab and peel. That is one easy part of the winter that I like. The winters are long here, way too long for me so I try to think of specific things that make it better like my home-made pea soup with smoked ham pieces and plenty of carrots so that it has a smoky-sweet taste. Or my home-made chicken soup that comforts us when we have colds and feel like eating nothing else. Our son used to crumble up Saltines by the handful and throw them into the soup so it was thick, the consistency of gruel but tasty. In the winter, I drink hot chocolate, in a steaming mug, sometimes with marshmallows for an extra treat and I bake my famous banana bread, with chocolate chips and raisins. I bake it for three out of the four cousins; my daughter will not try it.

I like having a flashlight right beside my bed every night and a tissue clutched in my hand. On my bookcase, along with many, many books I have photographs of my son, my daughter, my dog Lexi, and our deceased dog, Callie. There is our informal “engagement” picture of my husband and myself grinning so happily at the world. There is a basket of seashells that I collected from Florida and Rhode Island that I play with every now and again. I look at them all the time. Our dog, Lexi, lies on my bed, across my legs and sighs deeply and happily.

I have an anxiety disorder and recently I was so lucky to find a Psychiatrist who is lovely and gracious and someone who will not just dole out anxiety medications but will talk and listen. I told her today I picture her and her assistant as Glenda the good witch, all pink tulle and smiling eyes. I do not take this lightly having seen a couple of really creepy people. This is something I hold special in my heart, that there are still a few good people on earth, that do good things, whether you have the money or not. They will work with you to figure it out, there ARE a few people to believe in. I am grateful for you; thank you for helping me believe that there are good people left in the world. I am grateful and blessed.

Dedicated to M.E. and B.

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I’m On Fire In A Fibro Flare-Up

Campfire-flames

I’ve been working through the pain of Fibromyalgia for the last few months; today it caught up to me in a bad way. I couldn’t move, walk, take a baby step. Even when I sat down on my pale green modern sofa, my feet ached and throbbed and wouldn’t stop hurting. Drugs don’t seem to help me but sleep does. It’s only 7:00pm and I am forcing myself to stay awake even though I am lying down on my bed, stiff and unable to move. I need help to get out of bed, I am grateful for my husband who comes to my rescue. Very grateful.

I am yearning for sleep; to pull the extra blankets over my head and feel my body try to release its tension and pain. I’m hoping the pain will not wake me up tonight, will not tug at my shoulders or send stabbing pain up and down my legs. I need a night off from pain, just one night and then I will be ready to trudge through the pain again, like walking uphill through a windy snowstorm. It isn’t easy but if it has to be done, it’s sometimes possible.

Everything tonight is black and white, food, books, conversations, life. I am trying to relax my muscles but it is not working, maybe I am trying too hard. I am not sure I know what the word relaxation means anymore since my body feels like an overworked metal machine; I am the Tin Man from The Wizard of Oz, still searching for some oil.

After many years of believing in the magic oil, the magic pain relief, I have given up on believing in a possible cure. I don’t care about the naysayers either, I know what I feel, what many of my friends feel. Who wants to advertise or brag about pain? Not I.

I compliment myself on my attitude, still having a sense of humor, still looking forward to a piece of a chocolate chip loaf from a nearby restaurant. I have plans to watch Modern Family with my husband on-line to keep me up 26 minutes later before I beg for sleep. I accept what I can do and what I can’t do. There is a handicap rail for inside my new, deep bathtub. My daughter looked shocked, embarrassed: “Mom, please don’t tell me we are having handicapped bars in the upstairs bathroom.” “Yes” I said quietly but firmly. “Why?” her teenage self asked. “Because I need them, honey” I answered. She had the grace to turn away so I could not see her embarrassed and troubled blue eyes.

I need to use handicapped rails sometimes, like I also need tea with milk and honey in the winter and bright yellow daffodils in the springtime. All of these parts represent me, not just one. Like I need my morning coffee, now known as “a red-eye” a strong cup of coffee with a shot of espresso, it doesn’t define me but it is part of my routine in the morning. Fibromyalgia and my autoimmune disease, Hashimoto’s Thyroiditis are just parts of me; the parts of me that suffers with chronic physical pain. I have to accept that but I do not have to let them define me.

Running Away: My “Rachel Green” (Friends) Moment

Friends Season 2

Image by IvanTortuga via Flickr

It’s no secret that being an adult can be very stressful at times for a variety of reasons. It could be parenting, it could be employment or unemployment,  marriage, illness or a combination of the above.  Parenting, to me, is utterly delicious but not always easy especially when you have two teenagers in High School at the same time.  Adulthood in itself can also be extremely overwhelming; you are older and things are not as easy as they used to be.  Everything is harder and more difficult however, if you live with a chronic illness. Your energy level is low, you feel weak, you feel pain, tiredness and sometimes sad and discouraged. That is the world I live in.

My husband and I had agreed to meet for lunch in the city where he was working.  I was coming from one of  many doctor appointments and feeling very discouraged. I think I had been to my  Opthamologist who had to relaser my eyes for the umpteenth time for my narrow- angled glaucoma. Or,  It could have been to see my Rheumatologist who is in charge of auto -immune diseases for my Hashimoto’s Thyroiditis.  It could have been both.

We ordered our food and then I excused myself to go to the ladies room. Once I got inside I saw a big, wide open window,   leading to the street. Yes, I admit it,  I had a moment. I had a Rachel Green moment ( for those of you who don’t know the tv episode of Friends, she climbs out of the window at her wedding and runs away). For a few seconds I pictured myself climbing out that window;  I was absolutely stunned. Shocked. Eerily quiet.  For a split second I thought to myself, “I could just leave through this window and escape.”   I saw myself in  France or Italy,  eating warm, dense, freshly baked bread, pulling it apart and dunking it in olive oil.  I laid in the soft green velvet grass surrounded by leafy, gorgeous trees and rolling hills. There were wildflowers of every color, purple, yellow, pink and white.  I was alone. I was another person and, I was happy, feeling marvelous and buoyant and free. Free of illness, free of worry, I had just stepped into the colorized version of my life; I had entered into my own personal  Wizard of Oz.

No one could have been more shocked than me!  I shook my head quickly at the notion, but as I was returning to the table (and confessing to my husband) I still saw that image in my mind.  The sweetest thing was the feedback my husband gave me which was “I don’t blame you!!” I would NEVER do it,  would NEVER leave my family, but the fact that the thought popped into my mind was absolutely startling.

My husband and I finished our lunch and my husband led me to the train, the pain in my eyes like sharp, steel wires under attack, unable to see clearly and with a severe headache that pounded  the entire right side of my face. I stumbled to  Starbucks and bought a cup of coffee and a densely rich, moist,  brown sugar and molasses cookie for the ride. As  the train doors shut, I settled in, seated next to a window, in a chair facing my home and away from the city. Taking small, sugary bites from my molasses cookie I tried to relax.  My back nestled in the old, worn, smelly quilted chair. I sat quietly, listening to the  slow, chug-chug beat of the train like a song that was stuck on only one phrase, repeatedly. I sat in the train, the 2:48  that was delivering me back home.