Friday, January 15, 2016

Freedom from Crazy

Yesterday I almost lost my resolve to stop emotionally reacting to my health, circumstances, and life. I had an extremely painful infected cyst on my back I had to have drained by a surgeon. Then I got a cold. And having slacked off so much on my exercise while completing my commitment to gainful employment left my muscles tight, sore, aching, and all together screaming in pain. And have I ever mentioned I suffer from insomnia? Being this sick for this long makes me crazy. I try so hard to not let it, but am really just one woman being swept into a sea of afflictions and am sometimes just not that strong.

And it's okay. I don't have to be strong all the time. In fact, as long as I don't sabotage myself in reaction, the whole experience is really quite human. Quite normal. And quite possibly one of my biggest triggers. See, I spent years furious with myself for getting so bent out of shape over 1) how sick I was and 2) what that sickness was doing to my life. So once again it was my reaction, not my reality, that made things worse. But did I really just expect myself, starting at the age of 28, to gracefully lose my ability to live my life, earn a living, and engage with the world-- with nary a care of concern? Come on now, that's just not the way people are built! Especially me.

I'm in my eleventh year of living with chronic illness and have finally found an acceptance that has evaded me until this point. It's made me realize acceptance is freedom. Freedom from having to be different (not sick), freedom from living up to the expectations of others (give them love and a smile, not a commitment to host Thanksgiving dinner), freedom from believing I could have handled any of the previous ten years any better. And freedom is, most of all, the ability to move forward without giving into the crazy. So I guess, seeing as I wanted to give into my errant emotions but instead redirected my focus on organizing my Tupperware lids, mission accomplished.

Thanks for joining,

Wednesday, January 13, 2016

Incurable Fog

One day while driving down the street I forgot where I was. Mind you I just left Target and was headed toward home so had certainly been there before, but in that instant I couldn't have told you where I was on the planet if my life depended on it. I had to pull over and cry for a while, gnashing my teeth and pulling my hair over the fact that I was thirty years old and becoming so sick with something so unfixable, I was literally losing my mind. Flash forward a few years to when I had settled into the reality of living with fibromyalgia. Working retail was a painful necessity that was quickly running its course, so I set about trying to figure what on earth to do to earn a living. Naturally, this required me to take a Spanish course at the local community college. Not because I wanted to earn money off my non-existent Spanish 1 skills, but because I desperately needed to know if my brain was capable of learning and retaining new information, and I took French in high school. 

I worked really hard for that A. I'd get up at 7 AM to study, regardless of how poor my sleep quality was the night before, determined to prove I was still a viable human specimen. All that learning made interesting things start happening to me, like I could listen to music again and started to remember why I walked into a room. It was an incredibly liberating experience. I'd far surpassed the "no treatment no cure" diagnosis I was given in 2006, but never expected to get my brain back. In hindsight this was like a cruel teaser. Because little did I know, I was about to lose it again. 

By the time Spanish 2 rolled around the following semester, I was a double stroke survivor. I attended one session and promptly dropped the class, considering my brain was such mush I couldn't even make my mouth say ¡Hola! I even tried Conversational Spanish the semester after that but was still too screwed up. Getting my brain back after my strokes took a lot of time to heal and, once again, demanding an excessive amount of mental prowess from myself in order to write my book. But imagine how differently the next six years would've gone if I hadn't succeeded in my little Spanish 1 experiment. Perhaps knowing I could take a perceived limitation and put in enough work to triumph over my tribulations gave me the will to keep going, even when everything was at its worst? All I know is I was told to accept my illness, so I decided to challenge it. That attitude has gotten me into plenty of trouble over the years. I'm always pushing myself and overdoing it and crashing and burning. But I've also come leaps and bounds from that poor sick girl in 2006 who was told she was never going to get better. While I may not be "better," through one challenge at a time, my life certainly is.  

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Friday, January 8, 2016

Reboot Pain

Man do I hurt. I haven't been exercising and it's really starting to take a toll, proving to me once again that moving my body is the best pain pill I've found. As my immune system tanked, so did my ability to engage in cardiovascular activities. When I was in the worst of that two-month-long monster flare, my mile-and-a-half morning walk with my dogs turned into a pathetic shuffle around the block. Coupled with the fact that the gym hasn't seen my sorry ass since November, it's no wonder I freaked out and quit my job. Since I'm still knee deep in survival mode, I'm not even really doing yoga. It's all I can do to fulfill the completion of my obligation at work, so I've been put on hold. And man do I hurt. 

Not to mention I've gained ten pounds back. That alone would seemingly send me running to the weight room to bicep curl myself back into my former shape. But I'm not. Then I finally realized I'm so darn terrified of getting that sick again, I'm babying myself. What a delicate balance, this living with chronic illness thing. I have to challenge myself just enough to slowly move my life back toward health, but too much "challenge" sends me flying down the tunnel of unending sickness. For flippin' reals, yo?

So I'm putting down my computer and doing my Namaste Yoga DVD. It's gentle, yet very effective, but given my pain-seeped state is going to hurt like hell. Tomorrow it will hurt a little less, and in the next couple weeks I will hopefully be geared up to go slap around some iron with a bunch of over-inflated muscle heads. It took me two years of yoga to even get back to the gym, and two years of intense cardio weightlifting to get to where I was, but the benefit of having done all that work is a relatively quick recovery. If I start now, don't overdo it, and for the love of all things holy, can somehow avoid another monster flare.

Thanks for joining,