Tuesday, July 23, 2013

The Usual, Please!

At this point in my Fibromyalgia journey my flares are pretty predictable. Two to four times a month I will suffer from a bevy of viral symptoms. In the past it has felt like Shingles. Luckily it's been a few years since my symptoms were that extreme. These days my flares usually start with a severely hellacious mood. Right as I am about to commit myself to a rubber room buckled tight into a straight jacket the inside of my mouth will shred to pieces. This reminds me there is a physical reason for my emotional turmoil. Then the boil comes. For some unbeknownst reason my face seems to be the choice spot for the last year or so. Next enters the aching face, throbbing skull, congestion and generous smattering of pain and malaise across my body. There's more but that's how the ball gets rolling...

Last week I started feeling bad but it was nothing like the aforementioned. I was pretty much incapacitated with pain and fatigue. So while half of me freaked out, convinced I was dying, the other half ran around telling the first half to shut up. There is nothing new wrong with you. It's just Fibro. Repeated like a broken record over and over. Then I realized we were nearing the end of July and that's precisely what I told myself three years ago when I spent four days ignoring the first stroke. It took having another one to go to the E.R. The fact that I lived through the whole long ordeal is nothing short of a miracle. Had I just done the same thing again? Ahhh, anniversaries can be hard. 

How on earth do I know if there is something new wrong with me or that miserable beast Fibro presenting in a new way? If I had a buck for every time I asked myself that question I could throw a very fun party. It is very hard to know, and that is a huge part of what makes this illness so hard. The symptoms I suffer from are so horrible, sweeping and varied I can't even trust my own judgment to assess if I am in danger or not. With joy I report that flare ended, I felt good for a couple of days, and a normal viral one has begun. You bet your sweet bippie I've never been so glad to experience a hellacious mood, shredded mouth, facial boil, and an aching and throbbing body. 

Thanks for joining,

Thursday, July 11, 2013

Life, Liberty And The Pursuit Of Happiness

Last week we celebrated the 237th anniversary of American independence. For some odd reason a key phrase in the preamble of our constitution kept reverberating around my mind. Life, liberty and the pursuit of happiness. Actually it was more 'the pursuit of happiness' part I kept dwelling on. Like it was a foreign concept I just learned existed. With a shock of awareness I realized that's exactly what happened. Because I forgot about it. See the pursuit of happiness is a frivolous concept when your basic needs aren't met. It is only after sleep, shelter, safety and food are secured that a being can advance onto the next stages of societal engagement. Unfortunately getting horribly sick when every doctor told me I should be completely healthy violated my safety in a major way. My inability to work or care for myself threatened my procurement of shelter and food. And the illness itself robbed me of my sleep. No wonder I wasn't working towards happy, I was just trying to survive!

Yet it wasn't always like this. In fact after Fibro devastated my life I fought back hard to get the beast managed so I could begin to rebuild my existence. Sure it looked a lot different than before, but it was still good. I accepted, adapted and allowed myself to grow into my new set of circumstances. Funny thing about life, I've found, is one never knows what the next step will bring. My next step was two drastically life threatening strokes and six months of high-dose steroids to treat them. And that is where my happiness went. 

Prednisone gave me the energy and lack of pain I had pre-fibro. It was glorious! For the first week. Then "roid rages" took over and I ballooned into the Pillsbury Dough-girl. Since then I have been miserably fighting my way back to the ecstasy of that first week on legalized crack with the tunnel vision of a warrior. Or just to be who I was before I got sick. To have the same capabilities, choices and possibilities. The little taste of healthy I got undid years of therapy, acceptance and meditation. But I refuse to allow my life to be defined as a reactionary victim. I'm actually glad a day of drunken barbecues and exploding fireworks reminded me there is some much needed happiness missing from my life. Everything doesn't have to be perfect to find it again. All that really matters is I start looking.

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Friday, July 5, 2013

The World Suffers

Perhaps the biggest challenge I've faced over the last year with Fibromyalgia concerns sleep. At times it's become so out of control I'd watch the sky slowly brighten with dawn as tears of utter frustration streamed down my face. Unable to do much more than pop more pills and try to ignore the mounting anxiety claiming my psyche. The popping pills thing didn't work, though. I'd either be too dulled out to do much of anything the next day or sleep until two o'clock in the afternoon. Certainly not moving towards the illusive forward progress of life. But not sleeping leaves me unable to function, too, pinning me into a nice little box of my own insanity. 

So I decided to institute my own version of sleep hygiene. Staying up all hours of the night writing left me wired and panicked. Sleeping all day made me unable to participate in life. And procrastinating all evening on doing the dishes and packing my husband's lunch insured if I did get tired, I'd still have to get up and do work. None of that was helping what had become my most important cause. So I turned off the computer, disciplined myself to do my chores right after my husband went to bed and started learning about the world. Over the last few months I've watched a few dozen documentaries. Or maybe a hundred. As much as I've learned about history, conspiracy theories and religion I actually am learning far more about myself. I always knew I liked conspiracy theories and religion. I did not, however, realize I was an apt and rabid history and science buff.

As my knowledge and worldview expanded some very important truths were revealed to me. Over the span of our homo sapien existence being human pretty much...sucks. War, slavery, annihilation and genocide are just a few of the atrocities our species commits against itself with sweeping regularity. Dictators, emperors, kings, czars and shahs have been merciless in their efforts to conquer, consume and claim both land and people. And don't even get me started on the dark ages, I just won't be able to stop! Then there is good ol' mother nature herself, and the way her disasters and destruction have shaped human existence. 

Learning about so many things I didn't pay a lick of attention to in school opened up my mind. Not only was I able to get drowsy and actually go to bed and fall asleep, my compassion and awareness of the world we live in grew. Comprehending how small I am in the grand scheme made me feel better. While I may suffer from a strange illness doctors can't explain or cure, my ancestors have survived worse. I have a comfortable bed to climb into at night, machines to wash my clothes and dishes and an automobile to drive where I need to go. These are not necessities to be taken for granted, for they make my life far better than my great-grandmother's great-great-grandmother's. Yet I do. So I guess the gist is, everyone suffers, it's just a matter of how much, why, and what on earth you do about it. But all this awareness and empathy is useless when I watch a bunch of divas tantrum and cat-fight as they drive their Bentleys and try and yell at each other through Botox-frozen faces. So I've been avoiding The Real Housewives like the Bubonic Plague. 

Thanks for joining,