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Thursday, May 31, 2012

A Reality Check

Over the course of the last few weeks, I have undergone a reality check. And, luckily for me, I actually learned a few things.  I'm sure that those of you who read my blog regularly have noticed that it has been a couple of weeks since I posted anything.  Quite honestly, I would love to tell you that a band of pirates broke into the house and stole my computer.  And, for the last two weeks, I have been hunting them down, in an effort to retrieve said computer.  I know that this sounds really ridiculous, but it is far more interesting than the truth.

Some of you know the reason, and I won't go into all the details, but the fact of the matter is that we had far more month than money.  In order to have enough food to make it until the end of the month, I had to pawn my computer, along with a few other items.  For many of us who suffer from chronic conditions, money is almost always a problem.  Living on disability isn't the cushy life that some people try to make it out to be, and for those not fortunate enough to receive disability, money can be even tighter.  We struggle financially almost every single month.  Some months are better than others, but we frequently run out of money before the end of the month, no matter how tightly we budget.  And, for me, this can be very depressing.  I feel the most guilty about not being able to spend the kind of money on my children that I want.

Now, I did say that I had learned some things.  The most important thing I have learned is that I have finally made some real friends.  These friends did not judge me, and the moral support they provided was invaluable.  I've talked about this before, but I was raised to believe that you do not air your dirty laundry in public.  The face that you present to the rest of the world should always be positive, no matter how bad things really are.  This isn't an easy thing to let go of, and it was so hard for me to tell my friends what was going on.  I don't trust easily, and I am always expecting to be treated poorly, but that didn't happen.  I was shown nothing but love and support during this difficult time.  I am starting to learn how to trust again, and this is such a gift.

Now, this is completely off the subject, but, if anyone knows of any charity that helps with dental expenses, I would love to hear from you.  I have been up all night with a horrible toothache.  I have a huge cavity, and I think that it has abscessed.  Unfortunately, I can't afford dental insurance, and I can't afford to pay a dentist to fix it right now.  The pain is excruciating, and nothing is relieving it.  I have used enough Orajel to numb an army, and it doesn't even touch this pain.  So, if you know of any options, I would love to hear from you.

I hope that everyone has a wonderful day today, and for those of you with a chronic condition, I hope that you pain levels are tolerable, and that you are able to do something for yourself today.


Wednesday, May 16, 2012

Listen to your Body!

How many of you are like me?  You wake up and realize that you feel really good!  The pain is almost gone, you feel rested, and you are in a good mood.  Now, you know that this isn't going to last forever, so you decide to take advantage of it for as long as it lasts.  And then, we turn into a whirling dervish!  We clean everything that we've neglected recently; we go shopping; we cook that huge family meal that we haven't been able to cook in months.  However, by the next day or so, we are hurting so badly that we can't move.  We are stuck in the bed, or the recliner, or the couch, and just getting up to use to the bathroom seems like more than we can muster.  And, in the back of our mind, we are constantly thinking, "Why did I do this to myself?".

Even though I really do know better, I do this all the time.  Every time I start to feel even the slightest bit better, I decide that I am going back to normal.  Now, intellectually, I know that this is not happening!  I have fibro, which, so far, is incurable.  And I have chronic back pain, and my doctor has told me that this is never going to go away.  I know these things as well as I know my own name.  But, I don't think that I have completely accepted it emotionally.  I want to be my old self, and whenever I see a glimmer of that person, I try to jump back into my old body, and then I pay for it!

One of the things that we say to each other in one of my support groups is don't forget to take baby steps.  It isn't hard to follow this advice when the pain is really high.  We only do what we can, and we learn to rest in between.  When things are really bad, we listen to our bodies, and we don't overdo it.  It's easy to listen to your body when it reminds you with pain that you are overdoing it.  But when the pain is low, it becomes very difficult to hear those messages that we are still getting.  Our brain may be screaming at us to sit down and take a break, but we are able to ignore that voice, and convince ourselves that this break in the pain is going to last forever!

I think that part of the reason we ignore that voice is because of a certain amount of guilt.  I don't know about you, but I feel guilty that I am no longer able to keep my house as clean as I used to be able to.  I feel guilty that I am not able to cook a good dinner for my family every night.  I feel guilty that I am not able to do all the things I used to do before I got sick.  Before I developed my back problems and my fibro, I could work all day, come home, cook dinner, clean house, and help the kids with homework.  Sure, I would be very tired at the end of the day, but it didn't seem all that impressive to me.  I want to be that person again!

I have to learn to start listening to my body.  I have to remember that I'm not the same person that I used to be.  I have to realize that a break in my symptoms is just that - a break!  And a break doesn't last forever.  I could accomplish far more if I listened to my body.  I could do a few things, stop and rest for as long as I need, and then go on to accomplish a few more things.  I would be far less likely of throwing myself into a fibro flare if I listened to the messages my body and brain were sending to me.  If I listened to my body,  I probably wouldn't have to spend days in excruciating pain because I decided that I could clean the house, top to bottom, in one day.

Before I got sick, it was so much easier to listen to my body.  If I sprained an ankle, for example, I didn't feel guilty for staying off of the ankle, and allowing it to heal.  I knew that resting the injury was the right thing to do, and it made perfect sense!  I knew that after a certain amount of time, it would heal and I would be back to my old self.  Now, however, I am having to accept that, no matter how much I rest my body, this illness isn't going to heal, and I am not going to go back to my old self.  If I listen to my body and do the things I know I can do, without going past those limits, I can keep going.  I may not be able to deep clean the whole house in one day, but I can probably clean one room.  By accepting my limitations, I can actually rise above those limitations.  And I can accept that what I am able to do today is good enough.  Our bodies are a lot smarter than we give them credit for!

Monday, May 14, 2012

Stress

Whether you suffer from a chronic illness or not, you know that stress can wreak havoc on your body.  Stress can cause you to lose sleep, create difficulties with family and friends, and bring on health problems.  For those of us with a chronic illness, those things can be amplified.  Stress can cause our pain to increase.  It can bring on flares for those of us with fibro.  We already have sleep disturbances as it is, and additional stress makes sleep almost impossible.  I deal with insomnia, and have since childhood.  When I am in the middle of a bout of insomnia, I crave sleep, then I worry about not sleeping, then I worry about worrying about not sleeping.  It's a viscous cycle.

I would love to say that I have some answers to the problem of stress, but unfortunately, I'm having a very difficult time dealing with the stress in my life.  As I have written about previously, I am a world class worrier.  I worry about pretty much everything.  And telling myself that worrying isn't going to solve the problem doesn't help in the least.  I have a lot of things going on in my life right now which are throwing my stress levels into overdrive.  In the last 4 or 5 days, I haven't slept more than a couple of hours at a time.  Between the stress and the lack of sleep, my pain levels are through the roof, and I can feel a fibro flare up coming on.  I am completely at a loss of how to deal with all of these issues right now.

In a perfect world, I would have a magic wand which I could wave and have all of my problems disappear.  But, as we all know, this isn't a perfect world.  I am searching for the answers to the things I am dealing with right now, and I am unable to find the solutions.  I am feeling helpless at dealing with my own life, and I hate feeling this way.  And this helpless feeling is only increasing the stress that I am dealing with.

Believe it or not, I'm not good at opening up about things.  It's very hard for me to tell people what's really going on with me.  I've talked about this before as well, but my family believed that problems within the family should stay behind closed doors.  You should always present your best face to the world and not let others know that you were falling apart on the inside.  It's hard to stop doing this, even when you know that it isn't helping the situation.  I just feel like I am about to explode on the inside.  Even as I write this, I feel as though I should delete the entire thing, but I know that if I feel this way, someone else does as well.

Trust is another thing that's very hard for me.  I used to be overly trusting.  I thought that others would hold my secrets as tightly as I held theirs.  But, I learned the hard way that this wasn't always the case.  I have been hurt one time too many, and now, I find it nearly impossible to open up completely to others.  As much as I know I need to let some of this stress out, I am terrified of being exposed.  I am afraid that if other people really knew how I felt, they would run away from me with the fear that my problems would rub off on them.

And so, here I sit in front of my computer after another sleepless night, worrying about how I am going to deal with some of the issues facing me right now.  This stress is turning into physical pain, and I am at a complete loss in knowing how to deal with it.  My head feels like it is going to simply explode, the muscles in my neck and back feel like they are being twisted by a taffy puller, and I am shaking from exhaustion.  For now, my dear readers, I am asking for your prayers and positive thoughts.  Knowing that you care is some comfort to me, and with luck, some of this stress I am under right now will disperse and I will begin to feel better.

Saturday, May 12, 2012

Learning to Live a New Life

Living with chronic pain completely turns your world upside down.  You go from being an active person who was able to do what you wanted, when you wanted; to someone who never knows from one day to the next what you are going to be able to accomplish.  You go from being someone who was independent, to someone was has to ask for help with the most simple of tasks.  You go from being someone who knew who they were, to someone you know longer recognize. Chronic pain changes everything about you.  It makes you question everything you once took for granted about yourself.  I wreaks havoc with your body, your emotions, and your life.

Even though I have never been an athlete, before I developed chronic pain, I could walk around my neighborhood without even thinking about it.  Now, there are days when walking from the bed to the bathroom can be a challenge.  And even though shopping has never really been my thing, I could go to the mall or grocery store and shop without even thinking about it.  Now, I buy clothes and things like that online, and I have to spend almost a week planning a trip to the grocery store.  Why does it take so long to plan grocery shopping?  Because I have to rest my body in order to handle to pain of the excursion, and then I have to plan in several days afterwards to recuperate from the stress of the outing.

Before I began living with chronic pain, I could do things at the spur of the moment.  If a friend called and wanted to go out to lunch or something, I could just go.  Now, I have to plan things like this.  And quite often, I have to cancel those plans because the stress of worrying about how I'm going to feel on that day can throw my body into a fibro flare up.  I absolutely hate this!  It makes me so angry to live like this!

Self pity has never been something I dealt with on a daily basis.  I'm not saying that I never felt sorry for myself, because that wouldn't be the truth.  We all have times when we feel sorry for ourselves - it goes along with being human.  But most of us don't walk around feeling sorry for ourselves.  But now, that feeling of "poor, pitiful me" comes along far more often.  I feel jealous when I hear about friends and family going on vacations which include a lot of walking.  I feel sorry for myself when I can't go out with the girls every once in awhile.  I feel sorry for myself because I can't do anything on the spur of the moment.  I feel sorry for myself that I can't participate in my children's lives like I used to.

Chronic pain changes everything.  It changes our identity, because we know longer know who we are because of the changes in our bodies.  But we have to learn to live with this new self.  It is so easy to fall into the trap of always feeling sorry for ourselves.  It is easy to live with jealousy of others taking over our thoughts.  But, feeling like this all the time only contributes to making our lives miserable.  We have to give ourselves permission to grieve for the person we once were, but then, we have to learn how to live with our new self.

We have to learn to approach life in a new way.  I have learned that I can still do many of the things I used to do.  Sometimes, I push through the pain, and do what I want to do.  I know that I will pay for it the next several days, but quite often, it's worth it.   Instead of going out to eat with my husband, I can order a nice meal, and set the table beautifully and dine with candles and soft music.  It's not exactly the same thing, but it is a change of pace.  I may not be able to go and sit comfortably in a movie theater anymore, but I can rent a movie, pop popcorn, and turn all the lights off and watch a movie with my family.

I know that I am still a valuable person, and I know that I still have things to offer others.  I may not always be at that football game, or school play, but my children know that I truly want to here about every minute of it when they get home.  I may not have the cleanest house on the block, but I'm learning that it's more important to be available to my family than to be in the bed, unable to move or spend time with them.  I may no longer be able to hold down a job, but I can still be there for others.  That's part of the reason I decided to start writing this blog.  It gives me a chance to educate people about chronic pain, and to share my experiences in living with this invisible illness.

I am learning to live a new life.  It isn't a bad thing, either.  I am learning to do things in new ways.  I am learning to appreciate the small things in life.  I am learning that I am still valuable.  I am learning that I don't have to be perfect.  I am learning that I can still reach out to others, and have them reach back to me.  I am learning who my true friends are.  I am learning that it's OK to grieve my old life, and I am learning that these changes aren't all bad, they are simply different.  And I am learning to embrace the journey.

Thursday, May 10, 2012

Mother's Day

This Sunday is Mother's Day.  It's a time for us to celebrate our mom's and thank them for everything they ever did for us, and I was lucky to have one of the most wonderful mom's ever.  The fact that she managed not to kill the teenage me is one of her greatest accomplishments!  In fact, every once in awhile, when my boys are acting just like I did at that age, I will call her and apologize for all the evil things I did at that age.  I also beg her to remove The Curse.  What is The Curse?  You know it.....I hope when you have children, you have one JUST LIKE YOU!

These are perhaps the most dangerous words ever uttered by a parent.  Oh, when we are young and believe that we can do no wrong, we laugh this off.  We think that if we have a child just like us, they will be blessed with only our best qualities.  We are certain that our mother is completely crazy in thinking that there could possibly be anything wrong with having a child just like us.  Well, I'm here to tell you that having a child just like you isn't all that it's cracked up to be.

As you all know, I have three teenage sons.  Coming from a very female oriented family, having all boys came as a great shock to my system.  Instead of being happy playing quietly with Barbies, boys are loud!  They prefer breaking things to just about any other pass time.  My boys don't just yell at each other when they have a disagreement; they prefer the "beat him to a bloody pulp" option.  Eventually, I got used to it, and decided that I was handling everything perfectly.  I knew exactly what I was doing!  And then, when they began to reach the teenage years, the curse began to kick in!

Now, even though we want to believe it, none of us were perfect as kids, and the teenage years are a minefield for everyone.  Puberty turns all of us into miserable little beasts!  Those wonderful little children who loved us more than anyone else, who thought that we could do no wrong, suddenly hate us!  They begin to believe that we are dumber than dirt, and, male or female, they quickly perfect the eye roll!  But, they don't stay evil!  Sometimes, they revert back to the sweet little children we used to know.  But don't be sucked in!  This is one of their tricks, used to throw us off balance.  Usually, this ploy is used when they want something.  If you are feeling generous, that sweet lovable kid will stay until they have what they want.  Within minutes of receiving whatever it might be, they will change back!  And if you don't give in to them, just be ready to hear "I hate you!" and the sound of a door being slammed so hard, the windows rattle!

I hate to admit it, and I swear that my mother exaggerates, but I really had drama queen tendencies from a very early age.  These tendencies really grew during my teen years.  Everything was either the best thing in the history of the world, or the worst, and I was the only person who had ever gone through anything like this.  I knew that there was no way my parents could understand what I was going through, because they were old, and had probably emerged from the sea, fully grown, like a Greek god.  And then, I had teenagers!  They tell me constantly that I have no idea what it's like to be a teenager, and that I could never understand the things they are going through.  This is the curse, rearing its ugly head again!

I keep begging my mother to remove the curse, but she just smiles and tells me that once it's cast, that's it.  There is no removing the curse, and whether your mother actually utters the words or not, you will be under its spell.  And there is absolutely nothing you can do about it!  You just have to learn to live with it, and pray that both you and your child come through to the other side, relatively unscathed by the experience.  Every once in awhile, I see a glimpse of the adults my children will grow into, and I know that there is still hope.  They really did learn some of the values that I have tried to instill in them.  For the most part, they are kind to others, and they are well liked.  I think I've done a pretty good job, despite the curse.

And what would I like to have for Mother's Day this year?  Peace and quiet!  I want everyone to get along, without trying to kill one another.  I want my boys to remember to wish me a Happy Mother's Day without having to remind them that it is Mother's Day.  I would really like it if Dale and the boys did the cooking that day, but that may be too much to ask!  I would also like to have control of the remote for the day, and not see a sporting event of any kind, but again, that may be too much to ask for, also!  And I pray that every mom out there knows that she really is loved and appreciated by her children, whether they show it very often or not.

Monday, May 7, 2012

Matt

Everyone deals with pain at some point in their life.  Sometimes, the pain is physical and sometimes it is emotional.  Quite often, this pain can be so severe, that we don't think we will ever get past it.  Perhaps the worst pain that we suffer as parents is seeing the pain that our children sometimes have to deal with, no matter what form that pain takes.  This is my son Matt's story of pain, survival, and coming out the other side.  I asked Matt's permission to tell his story, and he gave it to me.  He asked me why I wanted to write about it, and I told him that I wanted to celebrate his success, and perhaps show others that there is hope to come through our pain.

Leaving middle school for high school can be traumatic for many children.  First of all, by the time you reach eighth grade, you are the big fish in the proverbial small pond.  You have staked out your claim, and you know who you are, at least in that small pond.  Once you reach high school, you are once again a tiny little fish, and you no longer know where you fit it.  Many kids are able to regain their footing pretty quickly.  For others, this transition can be one of the most difficult things they will face in their young lives.  Matt was one of these.

Out of my three sons, Matt is my quiet boy.  He has always been shy, and making friends has never been easy for him.  Conversation doesn't come naturally to him, and, like me, he has a hermit streak in him.  We have frequently joked that Matt would be perfectly happy if about 90% of the world's population vanished, and the other 10% left him alone.  Matt has also been the middle child, sandwiched in between an older brother who is the life of the party, and a younger brother who makes friends easily.

On the third day of his freshman year in high school, Matt tripped walking down the bleachers.  With kids being kids, everyone in the gym who saw his fall, laughed at Matt.  My son would prefer that no one notice him, and being laughed at by a gym full of kids was really hard on him, but he kept going.  As the day went on, his foot and ankle really began to hurt.  The school nurse told him he was fine, gave him some motrin, and sent him back to class.  Matt didn't say another word about his foot the rest of the day.

After school, it seemed to take Matt forever to get to the car.  I was in a hurry, and fussed at him for dawdling.  I looked over at him, and saw tears rolling down Matt's face, and I knew something was wrong.  He told me about falling down the bleachers, and that his leg really hurt.  Once we got in the house, Matt pulled his shoe off and his pants leg up.  His foot and ankle were twice their normal size and black.  No wonder he was walking so slowly!  We immediately went to the ER, where his foot and ankle were xrayed. The ankle was severely sprained, and he had a evulsion fracture to his foot.  An evulsion fracture occurs when the tendon violently pulls, yanking out a chunk of bone.  According to the ER doctor, this type of fracture is excruciatingly painful.

I kept Matt home from school the next day and had him keep his foot propped up.  We also saw an orthopedic surgeon that afternoon, who put Matt is a boot to stabilize his foot and ankle and told him he would be on crutches for about 6 weeks.  The next day, Matt returned to school.  Now, Matt has always been an incredibly shy kid and he won't speak up on his behalf.  I called the school the next morning to ask the counselor to send a note to Matt's teacher's requesting that he be allowed to prop his foot up during class and be allowed to leave class early so that he wouldn't be accidentally knocked over changing classes. I was told that all of this would be done.

By the time Matt got home from school that day, his foot was even more swollen.  I asked him if he had kept his foot propped up, and he told me no.  I asked him if he had been allowed to leave classes early, and again, he told me no.  I told him that I would call the school again the next morning, but I also told Matt that he needed to speak up and ask for the things he needed.  I called his guidance counselor again the next morning and went through the whole process again.  I told her about Matt being extremely shy and that he wouldn't speak up for himself.  I was told once again that things would be handled.

It was even worse when Matt got home from school that afternoon.  His foot and ankle were hugely swollen, and now his back hurt from carrying a backpack which weighed close to 50 pounds, while trying to get around on crutches.  I also learned that Matt wasn't eating because he wouldn't ask anyone to carry his tray.  And to make matters worse, Matt once again fell on the bleachers while trying to get down them on his crutches.  I called the counselor once again, and begged her to do something to help my son.  I told her that Matt's shyness was more like social anxiety disorder.  At this point, I got no help at all.  I was told that his teacher's had been told, and there was nothing more that she could do.

I kept Matt home the next day because I knew we had to get the swelling down in his foot and ankle.  I called the doctor's office to explain what was going on.  While speaking with the doctor's nurse, all I could do was cry from frustration.  She calmed me down and told me that she would call me back as soon as she could talk to the doctor.  In short order, she called me back, and told me that the doctor wanted Matt put on home bound status for 4-6 weeks.  He said that the constant swelling wasn't good for his injury, and that it wasn't going to heal properly with the way things were going.  They faxed the paper work to the school, and a tutor started coming to work with Matt three days a week.

Matt's foot was able to heal during this time period, he went to physical therapy three times a week, and the time came for him to return to school.  That morning, I got him up for school.  I could tell that he was anxious, but I kept telling him that everything would be fine once he got back into the swing of things.  But by the time the school bus arrived, Matt was in a full blown panic attack.  I knew exactly what was going on, because I've had them myself.  I ended up keeping him home again that day.

Things went down hill from this point on.  The terror that Matt felt about returning to school continued to grow.  I immediately got him into counseling, and he was diagnosed with depression, social anxiety disorder,  and borderline agoraphobia.  We would make plans to return to school, and when the time came, Matt would dissolve into a heap on the floor.  I even had to have him briefly hospitalized because he was suicidal. This was the darkest time in both of our lives.  I knew that Matt had to go back to school.  He is one of the most intelligent people I know, and I knew he would never be the same if he didn't get back into school soon.

In addition to Matt's private therapist, I started working with the head of psychological services for the school system.  I gave her permission to speak with Matt's therapist, and we began to formulate a plan to get Matt back into school. Dr. Eds set up a meeting at the high school to begin the process of getting everyone back up to speed.  Matt was treated like a special needs student because his psychological problems were so severe at that point.  This meeting involved Matt and me, Dr. Eds, Matt's guidance counselor, the principal, the school nurse, an in school therapist, and one or two of his teachers.

The drive to the school was rather uneventful.  But the moment Matt saw the school, the panic attack began.  He was hyperventilating and crying.  We sat in the car for a few minutes, and I tried everything I could to calm him.  I reminded Matt that they had arranged for him to enter the school where no one could see him, but none of this helped.  Finally, I walked around to his side of the car and started trying to force him out of the car.  I wasn't strong enough.  About this time, the other members of our team began to arrive.  The therapists were talking to him, but it wasn't helping.  Finally, it took five adults to get him out of the car.  We literally had to hold him up, and practically carry him into the meeting room.  By this time, I was in tears because I could feel the pain my baby was in, and I felt completely unable to help him.

During the meeting, Matt sat in his chair with his head between his knees.  He wouldn't speak, and he didn't make eye contact with anyone at the meeting.  His guidance counselor told me how very sorry she was because she didn't understand the extent of what Matt was going through.  The school nurse explained to Matt that he wasn't alone, because there were other kids in the school who were suffering with the very same thing he was.  But Matt never acknowledged any of this.  Slowly, we came up with a plan to get Matt back into school.

It was decided that Matt would start back at the middle school, because it was a place he had always felt comfortable and had shined.  He would spend his days working in the school library.  They had a computer program which helped kids catch up on school work.  Matt would spend two weeks at this school.  During these two weeks, he would have intensive therapy, which would include walking to the high school a couple of times a day, and eventually include going into the school to help and desensitize him to the school.  We all knew that none of this would be easy, but it seemed like the best plan.

It was agreed that I would take Matt to school for the first week, because we all agreed that the bus would be too much for him to take.  Dr. Eds agreed to meet me at the school for the first several days in case we had problems getting him into the school.  The first day was a repeat of the incident at the high school meeting.  It took four of us to get him into the school.  This went on for several days, but eventually Matt got to the point that he was able to walk into the school on his own.  Jack was still going to the middle school at the time, and he made a point to walk Matt to the library everyday.  I have never been so proud of Jack.  Soon, it was time to transition back to the high school.

Everyone involved knew that going straight back into a regular classroom schedule would be more than Matt could handle.  At this point, he had been out of school for 6 months.  Matt was able to go to one classroom, and continue using the computer program.  There was a supervising teacher in the classroom, but he was one his own as far as learning the material was concerned.  Matt completed six months of class work in only three months, and he did it all by himself.  By the end of the school year, Matt had caught up with his class.

Over the summer, Matt attended a program for gifted and talented students at a university in Kentucky.  This was a six week course, and I was terrified for him.  Dropping him off was the hardest thing I have ever had to do, and I cried the whole way home because I was scared to death he wouldn't be able to handle it.  Well, not only did he handle it, he thrived!  And when the time came for school to start again in the fall, Matt went back and began to thrive in high school.

Matt is junior in high school now.  He has a reputation as being the smartest kid in school, and the problems he experienced during his freshman year are a distant memory.  Matt has made lots of friends, and even scored highest on the ACT of anyone in his school.  We are looking at colleges now, and Matt is ready for the next chapter in his life.

I have never know anyone as strong as Matt.  He overcame something that would have driven many other people over the edge.  Matt dealt with emotional pain greater than most people will ever experience.  I have no doubts in my mind that he can tackle any challenge that comes his way, and neither does he.  Matt is excited about his future, and he knows that he has accomplished more in his young life than many people ever do.  The world is Matt's oyster, and he is ready to face whatever challenges come his way.






Friday, May 4, 2012

Hang in There, Tomorrow Can Be Better

Yesterday really was a lousy day for me.  The whole tire ordeal left me in a whole lot of pain yesterday, and nothing was helping.  I took my medicine every time I was able to and it just barely put a dent in things.  I almost never have headaches, although I did have migraines as a teenager.  Last night, I had a headache to make the record books.  It started in my neck and worked its way up the back of my head, all the way up to my forehead, and nothing budged it.  Now, I'm a night owl and I rarely go to bed before 1 or 2 in the morning, but I was in bed before midnight last night.  When I woke up around 6:30 this morning, the headache was gone, the body aches were better, and I was able to move more easily!

Today has actually been a really pleasant day.  The boys are out of school today, so Jack and Chris were gone last night.  Matt was home, be he's easy going and doesn't ask for a lot of attention.  He stayed home until noon today, and then he left to go to a friend's house.  This afternoon, I curled up in my recliner and took a nice nap and woke up feeling refreshed.  Almost as soon as I woke up, I mixed up a pan of brownies, and they are in the oven baking right now.  I love the smell of fresh baked brownies, and I love eating them even more!  I'm even planning on actually cooking dinner tonight!  We're having baked mostacelli, which isn't nearly as exciting as it sounds, but it tastes good.  You take mostacelli pasta and cook it normally, then you mix it up with regular meat sauce, top it with mozzarella cheese and bake it in the oven.  Yum!

Sometimes, it seems like things are never going to get better.  It feels like the pain will never stop, and we begin to feel hopeless.  The depression which can develop at these times can be absolutely crippling.  I know, I've been there many times.  People will tell you to look on the bright side, and your first instinct is to punch them right in the mouth.  I've experienced this feeling more than once, too!  But, even as bad as it may seem at the moment, things will always get better.

Now, before you decide that you want to punch me in the mouth, let me clarify this a little bit.  We have chronic pain.  It will probably never go away completely.  But we will have days when the pain lets up - sometimes a little and sometimes, it can almost feel like we are back to normal.  When we have these days, we need to cherish them!  They are few and far between, so we need to make the most of them.  A lot of us feel that when we have these days, we need to take care of some of the cleaning or other household chores that we've put off.  I think that we should do something we want to do when we get these little gifts.  Go get your hair done, or go see a movie, have lunch with an old friend or loved one.  And if finances don't allow something like this, go sit in the sun for a little while with a good book, and be happy that you are getting a break from your normal life.

We can even find small joys when things are bad.  A while back, I was having a really bad pain day.  My fibro was flaring and every muscle in my body hurt.  My back felt like someone was using my spine as an accordion, and it didn't matter how I positioned myself, or how much medication I took, nothing was helping the pain.  I was actually lying in my bed crying, because I couldn't find any relief.  At one point, the bedroom door opened, and Chris walked in.  Now, you all know that Chris rarely gives me any support where my pain is concerned, and I immediately thought, "Oh my God!  I just can't handle being told how awful I am right now!".  So I braced myself.  Well, much to my surprise, Chris sat down on the edge of the bed and told me how sorry he was that I was in so much pain, and that he wished there was something he could do to make me feel better.

I'm sure you can imagine my shock and surprise!  Chris sat with me for a few minutes and talked with me, and before he left, he gave me a little hug and a kiss.  What a blessing!  And I was able to see if for the gift that it was.  I knew that it might never happen again, and I keep that memory close to me, because it was truly a gift.  Sometimes, we can overlook the small things that happen.  We have to learn to be open to small blessings, because it's easy to miss them when things seem really dark.  Whether we realize it or not, there are always better days around for us.  They may be wonderful days when we are able to do some of the things we used to take for granted, or they may be small things, like a word of encouragement from a friend.  But those bright moments are there if we know to look for them.

Thursday, May 3, 2012

It's Been One of Those Days!

Today has absolutely been one of those days that we all dread!  As you all know, I've been sick for about the last three weeks.  But this morning, I woke up feeling like my old self.  This was a good thing because I had a whole lot of errands to run, and there was no more putting anything off.  It's very hot and humid today, so I decided to get an early start to try and beat some of the heat.  The AC is out in my car, and I don't handle the heat well.

Everything started out well.  I even took the time to put on makeup and fix my hair.  I bought a couple of new shirts the other day, and I decided to wear one of them for the first time.  Yep, I was feeling pretty darn good about things at that point.  I pulled up to the ATM at the bank, opened my wallet, and discovered that my debit card wasn't there.  This was bad omen number one.  I drove back home, went to the computer desk, and grabbed the card.  Once I was back in the car, I opened my wallet to put my card in it, and there was MY debit card!  I had grabbed my husband's.  Bad omen number two!

The first few errands went without a hitch.  I was even enjoying being out of the house.  Now, my children are convinced that my goal in life is to talk to every stranger I run across in stores, post offices, doctor's offices, you name it.  And, I must admit that I can talk to just about anyone, at least for a few minutes.  I was enjoying chatting with people as I went about my errands, and I was still in a pretty good mood.  As I went to pull out of a parking lot, the car seemed to hesitate or something, and I almost got hit!  Bad omen number three!  A couple of seconds later, I heard some man yell, "Lady, you got a flat tire!".  Almost as soon as it was out of his mouth, I felt the familiar thud, thud, thud that comes with any flat.  This just wasn't part of the plan!

I managed to pull into a store parking lot, and looked immediately for my phone.  It wasn't there, and I realized that I had left it at home!  That was the last straw for me, and could feel tears of frustration building up.  I took a couple of deep breathes and calmed down, went in the store, and asked to use there phone.  I got in touch with Dale, and he called one of our friends to come and save me!  Dennis got there in no time flat.  He brought his portable air compressor with him and was able to pump my tire up.  While he was doing this, I ran in the store and picked up the things on my list.  By the time I was finished, Dennis had the tire aired up.  I mentioned that I wasn't quite finished with my errands, but I didn't know if I should drive on the tire any further than home.  This kind man told me that he would follow me to every last place I had to go, and would then follow me home.  I have a new hero!

I only had a couple of things left to do, and dear Dennis followed me to each location.  He had me stop one more time to put more air in the tire, and he followed me home.  Dennis even got in touch with a friend of his who sells tires, and got us an amazing deal on a replacement tire.  The day itself hasn't been much fun.  By the time I got home, my pain level was through the roof, probably due to the stress.  But, I learned that there are still truly good people in the world, and that in itself made all the stress and aggravation almost worth it.

Tuesday, May 1, 2012

It Isn't Easy Being Sick When You're Already Sick

The last three weeks have been really rough on me.  First, I got my yearly bout of bronchitis.  I had forgotten how much a human body could cough, and how much additional pain this could cause you to feel when you already have more than enough pain to deal with on a daily basis.  Every muscle in my upper body felt like someone had beaten me, and every time I coughed, it felt like the person doing the beating came back to just give me a reminder that it wasn't over yet.  The fever made me feel ever more miserable, moving back and forth between burning up and chills, not to mention the killer headache!  Let me just say, that I was in full blown misery!

After about two weeks, things started to go back to normal.  The coughing started to subside, the fever went down, and the muscle aches began to ease.  I thought that I was going to survive, and I was actually happy about that fact!  In fact, I was rather proud of myself for getting through this bout of the creeping crud without actually killing one of my family members, and with a minimum of whining.  I was actually starting to feel like my old self, with my normal, everyday aches and pains, which I have learned to live with over the years.  I even bragged that it hadn't been all that bad, even though I knew I was sort of lying.

There is an old joke that says "If you want to make God laugh, tell him your plans".  Over the weekend, I learned the truth of this saying in a most miserable way.  By Thursday, I was really feeling well, and I decided that I was going to Accomplish Something.  I wasn't sure what that Something would be, but I was convinced that nothing would stop me from doing this miraculous Something.  I spent Friday running a few errands, although I knew this wasn't what I planned to accomplish.  On Saturday, I decided that Sunday would be the day for my great act.

Cue God's laughter.  Saturday evening, I thought that I was hungry.  The boys weren't home, and Dale only wanted a sandwich for dinner.  I had some frozen pizza's in the fridge, and I decided that sounded really good. While the oven was heating up, I started to think that maybe hungry wasn't exactly what I was feeling, but I still couldn't put my finger on it.  As the pizza started to cook and I started to smell it, I knew it definitely not hunger that I was feeling!  Just getting the pizza out of the oven was a test, and I told Dale to get rid of it as I ran for the nearest bathroom.  I won't share all the gory details, but I will say that I wasn't sure if I should sit on the toilet, or hang over it.

All thoughts of being such a wonderful patient during the first illness were gone!  My excellent patient status was a distant memory!  As soon as the fever hit, I was in full poor, pitiful me mode.  I don't remember ever feeling this bad!  The fever roared back with a vengeance, and that person who was beating me before came back with new found zeal.  All of the muscle aches which had gone away were ten times worse.  I must admit that I passed right by whining and went to full on crying!  At one point, I begged Dale to just shoot me and put me out of my misery.  Luckily, we don't own a gun.

Today, I am feeling much better.  The fever is gone, and the muscle aches are starting to recede once again. Although, I am still living on toast and ginger ale.  I did, however, break down and make coffee this morning because I had to have it.  So far, the coffee is staying put.  I'm sure it is the combination of two illnesses in a very short time period, but I feel as weak as a kitten at the moment.  In fact, as I sit here writing this, I am starting to break out in a sweat, which is ridiculous, and I am really looking forward to getting back in bed.

Like my title says, it isn't easy being sick when you're already sick.  Because of my fibro and back problems, I have had horrible pain throughout this ordeal.  Today is the first day I've been able to take my medication.  My reserves of strength have been sorely depleted, and I am not bouncing back the way I think that I should.  I still feel whiny, to be perfectly honest, and I wish I was six again and home with mommy taking care of me.  I mean no disrespect to the male population, but you really don't know how to baby someone when they are sick.  And I need some babying at the moment.  I also know that my dear family is ready for me to be well, because I have really thrown a monkey wrench into the way my household operates.  Hopefully, in another day or two, I will be back to my old self again.  In the meantime,  I'm going to give myself permission to wallow in a little more self pity.