Filed under: Personal experience | Tags: aging, arthritis, chronic pain, experience, family, fibromyalgia, life, menopause, perimenopause, struggle, the change, winter restlessness
It can’t be just me… Life seems to catch up and then overtake me and like a tsunami I wash up on the shore wondering what the hell happened… All my good intentions lie strewn about like so much flotsam… swallowed and vomited up… still recognizable but now I need to gather them back together. Dust them off. Clean them up. Straighten them out. Sort them into categories. Restore some semblance of order.
I struggle. I want to take better care of my senior mother, my senior pets, my neglected husband and myself. And I want to write. And then fibromyalgia confines me to my bed unable to think for a week. And my mother has weekly appointments with physical therapy and the chiropractor and the ophthalmologist and the dentist and the radiation oncologist. And my dog, Penny, needs weekly vet visits. And my husband hates his job and wants to quit. And the house needs cleaning. And I want to be there for my friends as they cry for lost loved ones and rejoice at the end of cancer treatment. And my body craves sleep. And then I can’t sleep until it’s almost time for the alarm to go off. And I go to work because I need health care and money to pay for food and shelter and vet bills….
Filed under: Personal experience, Uncategorized | Tags: arthritis, can't live like this, chronic pain, Dr Edward Creagan, fibromyalgia, hot flashes, pain, perimenopause, strange weather
I’ve never had that thought before… I’ve always been able to rise above, to consider that “this too shall pass” and, yet, it came, unbidden, as I was sitting at the dining room table one day not long ago – “I don’t think I can live like this.”
That thought hasn’t appeared again. It never occurred to me before. What has changed? Maybe it’s perimenopause. Maybe it’s something else. Maybe it’s true? No, I don’t think so… at least not today.
I’ve lived with diagnoses of fibromyalgia and osteoarthritis (and a few other things) for more than 10 years. I’ve worked 40+ hours per week. I haven’t asked for or really considered disability. So why did I have that thought? My marriage is basically happy. My life is pretty good. And yet, on that day, in that moment, I considered another option.
And then I felt guilty. I am not dying of an incurable disease like ALS or cancer. I do not have a progressively worsening diagnosis such as MS. And yet the pain can be so debilitating that in a moment of weakness that thought occurred to me.
The strange weather this season has taken a toll on everyone I know with chronic pain such as migraines or arthritis or anything else. Here in tropical Minnesota it was 80 degrees F (or maybe it’s 80 F* degrees?) on March 15th!! Not normal weather for this part of the country. Of course, within two weeks there were severe frosts that took out a lot of budding fruit trees. On April 19, 2011, I documented a snowfall on my digital camera. And the weather has bounced around from Summer to Winter then briefly to Spring. Those kinds of atmospheric changes wreak havoc on anyone with chronic pain.
And the thunderstorms these last few nights kept me awake… which adds to the cycle – lack of sleep, increase in stress, increase in pain.
One of my favorite speakers, Dr Edward Creagan of Mayo Clinic, gave a presentation this week and said the basics to reduce stress include: walk 30 minutes a day; strength training; restorative sleep (and he added “which most of us never get”); plant-based diet. When a woman asked him about insomnia, he suggested winding down for 30-45 minutes before bed. I wanted to ask him “What about when the hot flashes wake me up?” “What about when the pain wakes me up?” “What about when the I-just-can’t-get-comfortable rotisserizing starts?” And I know the answer is “Go back to the basics.”
It’s that simple — if only it were that easy…
Filed under: Uncategorized | Tags: aging, memory, menopause, perimenopause, random access memory, the change
The storage facility now rivals the Smithsonian for content and size, although it was once a lot smaller. The original caretaker was youthful and spry, retrieving facts and needed data seemingly instantaneously. Things have changed…
There is an old man with a walker who wanders the aisles of the Smithsonian-sized warehouse retrieving facts for me. Everything I’ve ever known is in the warehouse. Everything. And the old man moves up and down the aisles pulling random files, peeking at their contents and shoving them back onto a shelf in another place. Sometimes he carries the files around for awhile before stuffing them into a stack on the other side of the building. His walker has those yellow tennis balls on the back two legs and a handmade bag with his name stenciled awkwardly on the front by one of the residents at the nursing home on craft day and hot-glued hook and loop tape to hold it on the front bar of his walker.
He wears a hearing aid with the volume turned down so he doesn’t accurately hear the requests that come in over the loudspeaker. If the overhead asks for “sneakers” he might hear “squeakers” or “peekers” and he’s off down another aisle, pulling files reciting a portion of the contents out loud and moving on.
In the bag on the front of his walker are objects that he has found as he has traversed the warehouse over the years. There is a crystal that used to hang from the rearview mirror of a 1993 Ford Escort 5-speed manual Sports Edition. There is a button from a sweater (might have been his sweater). He won’t give up his treasures and he rarely shows them to me.
The warehouse gets larger every year and he can no longer keep up, although he keeps trying. Pulling the files he thinks I need and never quite finding what I’m seeking until hours later – often in the early hours of the morning or when I’m taking a shower. He works best when I am not under pressure because he can’t stand stress. And since the files are not ordered chronologically or alphabetically or according to any known method of _____ (insert word which he won’t tell me at the moment meaning “sortable” and “orderly”), he works best by wandering around and pulling out whatever intrigues him.
The newer items are stacked in baskets near the front door and every once in awhile he goes up and gets a few items, takes them back into the stacks and shoves them into shelves with a logic known only to him.
When I am actively trying to recall the name of the book that so piqued my interest 10 years ago we play charades and I start guessing “sounds like” “starts with” and tossing in movie titles or song lyrics that are somehow in the same file folder on a shelf he has just accessed. If I am lucky it will be the correct folder although I still have to guess the other objects in the folder before he gives me the information I want. I can’t fire him. He works very hard and he knows these stacks better than anyone else. You see, he is my data retrieval system – my random access memory.