Carry On Tuesday: There is a child in every one of us….

Driving Rain

Driving Rain (Photo credit: pixieclipx)

There is a child in every one of us but I seem to have lost her.What happened to that childish, charming, witty fun-loving woman who wrote a blog that was delicious, and delightful? I’ve become boring: as plain, as unsalted crackers and I don’t care for that one bit. I can imagine you don’t like it either; I can’t say I blame you at all. Where are all my funny, sometimes sarcastic observations of the world? Am I not watching enough television? I know I have not been on the city streets enough to bring eavesdropping to a science lately. It’s the weather, really. My bones hurt. Have I become dull, dim-witted and a (GASP) a real adult?

EEW, I hope not. That doesn’t sound like me at all. I do still get pleasure in little things, throwing a few coins on the floor for children to find, eating green fruit slices but never the cherry ones, (they taste like cough medicine) mashing bananas with plain yogurt and wrapping myself in warm blankets with a stuffed animal near-by.  Something feels different. I don’t think it has anything to do with age, but I feel a lot more grown up now, at 56 than I did two weeks ago when I was still 55. What the heck has happened? Here I am sitting on the bed, waiting for the Super-Duper-Storm-of the Century of 2012 to wipe us all out and all I am doing is sipping a cup of apple-cinnamon tea from my favorite, bright yellow mug. No hysterics, no drama (well, okay a little apprehension, I’m not dead, yet) but there’s really not much I can do. Just have to wait and see what happens and be a good friend and neighbor. Oh dear, just listen to me, now I sound like a life insurance commercial; who stole, cute, child-like me and replaced me with an insurance selling white-haired grandpa with a handsome face and beguiling smile?

Where’ s the fun me, talking about candy, Twix Bars and Kit Kats, and dissing celebrities (Do the Kardashians even COUNT as celebrities? Not in MY book) or being quick-witted and sharp? I blame the cold, dreary weather getting me in this mood. How can I be happy and have fun when I am not at the ocean jumping over waves and picking up seashells with my pink toes in the sand. I’m dowdy now.Perhaps I am forgetting that my mood reacts with the weather every year.

The last two weeks have been hard for our family with my mother in law passing out randomly every day at any time. Perhaps going up there yesterday made us all feel more peaceful, I think it helped. She hasn’t had any fainting episodes in a few days and they needed our support. It’s a big change when your parents need you in the same way we once needed them. It was a lovely visit, even the dog, yes, Lexi, has calmed down (a little.) She’s a lovely dog now but I have to say she was the naughtiest pup ever!

Tonight calls for marshmallows strung together between my thumbs and forefingers for a gooey mess. No, I haven’t lost me, I just got busy, my kids are in college and my husband is a real grown-up, not the one I play. I just have to make more of an effort to be child-like for myself. Tonight, a bubble bath with yellow ducky, playing loud music, maybe a candle or two. I do miss fun. I need to make my own. It’s a little hard to feel upbeat, child-like and happy when every weather forecaster in the nation is practically calling for the downfall of the East Coast cities as we used to know them. Imagine, calling this “The Perfect Storm.” Isn’t that an oxymoron?


Fibro UnFriendly

English: A zombie

Image via Wikipedia

If Fibromyalgia was a mood and not a chronic illness, it would be grumpy, mean, hateful and cranky. It would be the scariest monster that rages everywhere, over my bed, not even bothering to hide but willfully taunting me in the open. Once constant factor is the weather and its changes, enemies.  I want to set up all the old green plastic soldiers that my son used to play with constantly and place them on the Batmobile and fire truck and police cars and surge through dividing lines. I want to storm the troops of Fibromyalgia pain and run them over completely. In my fantasy, all that would be left in their place would be peace and pain-free living.

I know, I’m living in a dream world but it is better than the one that I am living in now. At night, which used to be my savior, snugly asleep under the covers, has now become another battleground. Pain wakes me up, the newest pain is in my arms and elbows and I never feel well-rested. I try to ignore it at night but minutes later it wakes me up again. I imagine the enemy mocking me, sneering at me as if to say “you thought I was only going to appear once then go away for the rest of the night? HAHAHAHA” ‘That is what I was hoping for’ I try to mumble under my breath.”FOOL” they spit blood right back in my face.

Why do all these new pains seem to intensify after my visit to the Rheumatologist when the blood work is in? Liver function? A little high? Sediment rate? A little high?  Auto-immune disease? Yes, I have that too, an auto-immune disease of the thyroid, known as Hashimoto’s Thyroiditis. When is it too high and what do they do about it? A question that has never been answered so far. Should I take Tramadol, “you could give it a try.” I don’t want to give anything a try, I’m frustrated and tired and inflamed and I just want a definitive answer which I know logically I won’t get. The answer is “let’s recheck your blood in two weeks.”

I’m frustrated, even the small flight of stairs in our house seems insurmountable. My ten-year old dog can come up and down those stairs better than I can when I am in a Fibromyalgia Flare (if that’s what this is, we rarely know for sure.) I have to grab unto the shaky metal banister and pull myself up, hear myself groan out loud, the sounds coming from me are more animal-like than I would care to admit. I try not to emit these sounds when my children are home but sometimes I can’t help it. They know I have this illness, but it doesn’t mean I don’t want to protect them as much as I can.

I drove away their monsters when they were little, why can’t I drive away my own?

The Weather's Effect on My Mood

Dedicated to all the people who have SAD

gloomy weather

When I wake up in the morning the first thing I do is look to the upper left of our bedroom where we have a big, unadorned window. There, in an instant, I can automatically see what the weather is and it makes a HUGE difference to me. If it is dark gray (with or without a howling wind, cold or not cold), I just want to stay in bed and not crawl out from under the deliciously warm and soft, flowered blankets. If I have to go out I will force myself but it will be with much grumbling and I don’t feel happy. When the sky is bright and a robin’s blue and sunny, I automatically smile. I prefer warm weather but even if it is cold out and the sun is winking at me I can bundle up and go out. I can handle that better than dark, depressing skies. My mood is definitely influenced by the weather and I could NEVER live in a climate where it is dark, gray, cool and drizzling most months out of the year. I would be miserable and admire people who can do that and live happily. I would not be able to; kudos to those of you who can.

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The Hottest Hot Versus the Coldest Cold

frozen angel

Image by apdk via Flickr

Hello Sun, Good-bye Snow and Wind

I HATE being cold. I don’t like either extreme but if I had to choose I would rather be hot, glistening under the summer sun, sipping pink lemonade than freeze, slipping madly during an ice or snow storm. No matter how many old, supposedly, warm jackets I have I am still cold in the winter. I have wrapped myself up in scarves, layers of soft cotton, mittens and a hat….nothing helps. As some of you know the old, brown down jacket will be coming out, once again, from the closet to torture me for another winter. I don’t think there is a jacket or coat that can make me feel truly warm. If there was one, I would invest in it. Short of covering my face with a thick, soft multi-colored scarf, I’m never happy. If I burrow my face in my neck and turn the collar of my jacket up…..my feet freeze. I have bought the warmest socks and liners, fuzzy ugly boots and still……I’m never warm. If my feet finally get comfortable, my hands and fingers are like long icicles.There is ALWAYS part of me that freezes in the winter, and it’s a very long winter.

If it was up to me I would move to a warmer climate in a minute. Given that our children will both be in college soon it’s something to think about for the future if we are ever able to retire. That, could be a very long time in coming.

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Forecast: Snow And Pain

Ground blizzard conditions in Ontario. HWY 26 ...

Image via Wikipedia

I never wanted to be a weather forecaster but I have found if I listen to my body, I truly, can predict the weather. This is not a fun job for me; nor is it a fun job for any people who have Fibromyalgia or another chronic pain disease. There’s a blizzard going on in the Northeast and before I heard about it, I felt it. I felt it in my tired and achy bones and muscles. I couldn’t stand up from a seated position without a lot of pain. I needed to hold on to someone’s hand because I felt off-balance. Some experts say it’s related to the barometric pressure changing. My degree in weather forecasting is not that advanced.

My bones, muscles and body hurt enough as it is. Today, my back and shoulders  and legs are aching and cramping horribly. I am having trouble getting up, sitting down, walking (shuffling) while holding on to the railing in my house for the stairs, one step at a time. I also have the infamous Fibro (Fibromyalgia) Fog that causes me to lose my train of thought or forget something that someone just told me ten minutes ago. It’s bad enough that it’s painful but feeling embarrassed and humiliated is another blog post altogether. I do not understand this mystifying illness; that said, it is hard to expect others to understand it as well.

We’re in the middle of a snow, blizzard emergency now.  I am praying for the electricity and power to stay on so we have heat all night. I’m piling on the blankets, flashlight at my side, candle at the ready….just in case.  It may look pretty outside with snow drifts and the sheets of snow coming down sideways in the light of our windows but it doesn’t feel pretty. It feels horrible, it’s like clenching your teeth in every body part. My neck is stiff and constricted, my shoulders are tight, I feel like the Tin Man of the Wizard of Oz but there is no oil to relieve my pain. I hope for continued heat for all my friends but especially my Fibromyalgia friends because we really know what COLD feels like.

Stay warm my friends, we’ll all get through this together. Huddle under extra blankets and lie still. There will be hot coffee in the morning or English Breakfast Tea with milk and sugar. It’s just the beginning of winter; we have a very long way to go.

Just a Little Harmless Venting

coffee in the morning... it's freezing cold!

Winter, Bloody Winter

It’s freezing, my hands hurt, they are red and raw. Soothing hand lotion just disappears into my aching pores but I can’t feel any difference or relief. Each finger is an individual icicle, stuffed into useless lined gloves. I can’t feel my toes they seem to have become webbed together because of this unnatural cold spell. I have four layers of clothing on underneath an old brown, tired winter jacket. I would actually prefer an old-fashioned snowstorm to these chilling, painful, low temperatures and hollering winds. With snow, trees, bushes and houses take on a life of their own. Everything looks innocent and bright. Pointy roofs are layered with glistening snow. Dogs happily romp in the snow, they run like deer performing ballet. It’s beautiful to watch; there is no beauty now. I can almost hear the roar of an impromptu snowball fight and the sound of children laughing. When I first go outside the wind hits my face like an unexpected, violent slap. The days are short, gray and abysmal. I shiver constantly; I hate feeling cold; my aging body agrees. Having Fibromyalgia makes the cold even worse. It’s colder than cold, my joints are stiff and I ache everywhere. Every move is accompanied by extra pain; life feels dreary. My body misses much-needed heat and my soul is deprived of sunshine.

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“Because I Am”

Black balloons

Image by stvno via Flickr

Tonight I am having a pity party for one; I am the guest of honor. You are welcome to join me but motivational speeches and happy clichés are not allowed. I’ve learned that the sun will probably not come out tomorrow, it will be cold, dark and windy just like the last few weeks. Some of my friends with chronic illnesses seem to be feeling the same way: Is it the weather?  Seasonal Affective Disorder? Pain and unhappiness? Other friends that don’t have chronic illnesses are also fed up and feeling down. I’m wallowing in self-pity and I am allowing myself to do so. Wallowing and venting are the main attractions in my self-imposed symposium.

1) Both my husband and I have been very discouraged because of the job market; he has been unemployed for a long time. He is always the best candidate, the one they love, the one they want. We get excited, euphoric even, and then the final news hits us like a tsunami: “We would love to have him but there is no funding approved for this job now” or “There’s a hiring freeze that just  started.” We plummet, like rapidly deflating black balloons.

2) I need to protect myself from future painful disappointments. While, in the past, I have tried to feel positive and hopeful,  I am now keeping my defenses up because it is too damn painful to feel excited and then let down over and over again.I am tired of feeling bad and blue and not having anything to look forward to. Yes, I have tried to be positive, I count my blessings and I list the things that I am grateful for: nothing works. A good friend of mine told me she was depressed last week and I asked her “why?”  “Because I am” she said. I now understand that completely.

4) Physically, I have no energy. I’ve been over-eating and sleeping way too much these past two weeks. I’m trying to sleep straight through to May but the chances of that are pretty slim. I stopped taking the autoimmune drug that was helping my energy level because it made my legs ache continuously and I wanted to rid myself of extra pain. This is what happens when I try to rid myself of drugs and toxins in my body. I end up asleep. I made the wrong decision.

5) The holiday season is not joyful for me. After my father died, the holiday spirit died with him. We go through the motions for the children. I’ve accepted this but each year after his birthday in November things start to go downhill fast, straight through to New Year’s Eve, the night he passed away. Why can’t I prepare myself? Why is it only familiar when it is happening again? Think of it as a long, a really long extended period of situational depression.

6) I’m having a default Thanksgiving in my house this year. My mom broke her wrist and I just couldn’t let her have it in her house. She is also depressed because of her broken bone and pain and having to be dependent on others, this affects me too. I feel bad for her. I can’t begin to talk about my self-involved sister, there is too much to say and at the same time, nothing to say. Thanksgiving is in one week, I have nothing prepared and I am both overwhelmed and underwhelmed.  I will rally for the holidays because I have to; it’s a necessity not a choice.

Let me tell you directly what I want:  Accept how I feel and allow me to have the emotions I do have. Don’t analyze, debate or criticize me. Try active listening. Help out during Thanksgiving and be kind to one another. I would truly be grateful if you could do just that.

9 And A Half Minutes, Episode 1

"one second" exhibition

Image by sugu via Flickr

Tick Tock, Tick Tock. Welcome to another edition of 9 and a half minutes. A place where I mention the things that annoy me. First up: SPAM. If you are going to send out this trash can’t you make the effort to spell “dear” CORRECTLY? It’s always misspelled and it’s in all  lower case letters :”hello deaer.” This bugs me. Not to mention that I get hundreds of junk mail every day and yes, I do, have a SPAM filter.  I am OCD about the amount the junk mail that I get so I need to check it and delete it frequently. It’s supposed to automatically delete in one month but that never happens. Every day I get the following suggestions: “buy drugs, enlargge your penis, veagra for womens, congradulations deaer, autimatic lottery winner”….just stop sending us this junk. Here’s my suggestion: ” go away, get losted, please, hun.”

Another thing that’s irritating is the call you get on a Sunday night from your favorite hairdresser, the one you found after years and years of searching. The one you trust implicitly. You finally find her and sure enough, one day you get “the call.” You know what it’s about, the minute you get the message “It’s Linda, from Tresses” on the phone. Deep in our hearts, women everywhere  know that the only reason your hairdresser is calling you at home at night is because she has fled her old job, stolen your chart and is working somewhere else. My dilemna: I love the way she does my hair but she has joined a salon that I fervently despise. It’s not the end of the world and yes, a mere annoyance but these things add up.

It has been a horrific couple of years and many of us are suffering the consequences of a bad economy. The idea of a vacation used to give me something to dream about, to look forward to. Key word: USED TO, past tense.  Even though it may not be financially feasible, it was something to dream and fantasize about.  Thinking about flying someplace warm in the middle of winter or early spring used to make me so happy, an inside secret I tucked away in my heart. Now? Thinking about flying makes me anxious, another mood elevator crashes to the ground (no pun intended.) With the media screaming about terror alerts and bomb threats, who wants to fly now?  Flying used to be fun, an exciting adventure. Now, you wait in very long lines, several times over, experience huge delays, body checks, shoe checks and most importantly, basic primal fear, anxiety and paranoia. I’d have to think it over for a long time before I would fly again and then, I would literally have to be sedated. Where’s the joy in that?

What is there to look forward to now? The economy stinks, the unemployment rate is ridiculously high and everyone seems to have less money or no money at all (with the exception of perhaps the super-rich which is even more annoying.)  The world, as we know it now, is a scary place. I know things take time but even I am losing patience. The country needs some good news, some great news. We need something, anything to feel good about our lives; I don’t care what it is. Give us a glimmer of hope, a tidbit, a really solid fantasy.

It’s the first week in November and we had sleet, snow and a power outage for six hours the other day. At this point, I’d even welcome some global warming: as in the warming up the country variety. If you hadn’t guessed it before the other thing I despise with a passion is winter. I would love to sleep straight through to spring. It’s cold and dark, scary and we all get sick; especially for those of us with chronic illnesses and pain. I know life is not perfect, believe me, I know. I also know you’re not supposed to “sweat the small stuff.” But, when the BIG stuff is all bad, the little stuff just adds an additional amount of worry and annoyance;  it makes us cranky. Very cranky. I’m not Andy Rooney, I’m just little ol’ me but I’m seriously pissed off. Join me next week for another edition.

We’re Allowed To Have A Horrible Day …..Or Two

dark and stormy

Image by lilli2de via Flickr

When I spoke to my friend on-line I told her I was thinking of writing a blog with the title “Losing Hope.”  I’ve learned to wait a little while and see how I feel later on. Granted, passion fruit sorbet and coconut sorbet helped a little. It was probably a combination of the sugar and the unique sorbet flavors that worked so well together.

The morning started with a phone call my husband made to a hiring manager. The good news? He is definitely the candidate that they want! The bad news? They don’t have the funding for the job.  This is the second time this has happened to my husband. He’s been unemployed for a year now. (Anyone know of a Software Engineer job?)  I see his sadness and as hard as I try to boost his spirits today I just sunk lower with him. I’ve been good and supportive but today was too much, so we acknowledged we were blue and then went out for an inexpensive Latin dinner (with a coupon) where he had tilapia (fish)with mole sauce and I had a quesadilla filled with spinach, mushrooms, cheese and horrors of all horrors, green peppers. After I finessed the green peppers to the side, I was happy.

We took our dog out for a short walk after dinner and as much as my joints hurt, and my knee locked, my fatigue overwhelming me, at least I did it. It was one of those perfect, beautiful, warm, dry evenings. It was also something my husband wanted to do and he does not ask for much. So, our 8-year-old mutt, Callie was in heaven, my husband was smiling and after giving myself a tiny push, I felt better too.

There were some “family” issues which bothered me but I got over it with helpful prompting from my husband as in “what do you expect? They always do that….”  Enough said. My mother warned me about not eating too much food on the free cruise and the chubby girl resurfaced and I felt my body inflate and swell.

It’s hard to be sensitive, I can be very empathic but also hurt easily. It doesn’t seem to be a lesson I’ve learned or accepted. I try to “not care as much” but it’s a skill I lack and don’t think I will learn it anytime soon. At least  I’ve learned to get over something quickly which in the past could have been long and drawn out.

I’m vulnerable, to diseases, to emotions, to temperature; we all are.  After trying to fight the knowledge of a cranky,  “snarky” day, I’ve learned (most of the time ) to just give in to it and ride the waves until everything calms down. You never know, maybe the next day will be filled with sunshine,  honey and bright blue skies; it’s possible. Allow yourself to have a bad day or more when you need it and don’t feel guilty about it; we deserve it.