A Bit of the Bubbly

My husband has long advocated for the use of a bubble suit, for my safety, me wearing a bubble suit. I’ve fallen down stairs, rolled an office chair over my own toes, and I can injure my back by sneezing. On a regular daily basis, my life comes with sound effects every time I bump, kick, knock my elbows, etc. When he’s referred to this solution over the years, I’ve always thought of John Travolta as the Bubble Boy. He had a bubble room and could go outside in a bubble. Above, we see him enjoying a day at the beach with bubble head doing its job.

Lucky me, there is quite a variety from which to choose these days. Take the model above. We have color options! Also, I wouldn’t have to worry about what I wear underneath. The rating is great with the feedback of 476 people. Get that, they’ve sold at least 476 of these!

Here’s a sporty version in which one can actually fall, twist, bounce, and careen, although I visualize my use of it looking more like the picture above. And I certainly can’t have my ankles sticking out. (See previous posts “Free Fall” through to this one in the saga of “broken bones” and “don’t walk on it for two weeks before seeking help.” Everyone’s a doctor.)

Here we go. This is more akin to what my husband has described, wrapping me in air bubble shipping wrap. I don’t know about this one now that I see it. This picture makes me feel like I should be doing karate or at least some sort of physicial activity. It really doesn’t require much movement on my part to culminate in an injury. Maybe this is too advanced for me.

It would be great to have a pair of bubble suits for my friends and I while visiting or taking a walk. Some day in the future when I am again allowed to bear weight on my left lower leg/ankle/foot, perhaps I’ll invest in these After many x-rays and disbelief at me waiting so damn long to seek medical attention, it seems surgery will be in my near future. Hey, I think the one below is perfect! Bubbles within bubbles. I wonder if the orthopedic surgeon could prescribe this afterwards. Hmmmm. The saga continues…

Boot Scootin’ Boogie

After hobbling around for two weeks, I finally got a boot! I’ve been trying to get one since the x-rays showed a broken fibula four days ago. Orthopedics took new pictures today, which showed a spiral fracture of the fibula and a probable fracture of the tibia. The physician assistant who saw me today said he’ll be grabbing the surgeon first thing in the morning tomorrow and then he’ll call me with the plan. Suppose he wouldn’t feel the need to show the x-rays to the surgeon first thing in clinic if it’s not looking like surgical repair. For now, the PA directed me to do absolutely no weightbearing on that left leg.

A bit of good news, though not exclamation point worthy. They got x-rays of the right ankle to make sure it was okay, and it got a clean bill of health, approved for weightbearing. I’m now in possession of a cane, a boot, and crutches we bought to keep me off my foot when I use the bathroom or let the dog out.

When I fell, I thought I caught a glimpse of my ankle turned out past 90 degrees. Turns out I did see that. A serious tendon or ligament injury was the worst I imagined. I don’t want a broken leg and I really would rather avoid any surgery, but if you’d told me I’d hobble about for two weeks with a broken leg I would’ve insisted there was no way. Now, I’m scootin’ up and down stairs, crashing around on crutches, but doing absolutely NO boogie.

Broken

Photo by Pixabay on Pexels.co

X-rays revealed I have a broken fibula on the left. They couldn’t squeeze me into the orthopedic practice today. I’ve been muddling along so far but I really thought, if a broken bone was identified, my doctor wouldn’t just send me home with no added support. Primary doctor says ortho doc will decide if I need a boot, an air cast or a real cast, Subsequently, I was planning to go to a medical supply store and get a boot, but the prosthetics and orthotics providers can’t sell them without a doctor’s note. Round and round.

I am at home after all with no treatment and not even a treatment plan yet. Elevating, compression, and rest. My husband leaves tomorrow to be with his mom who just lost her husband. I’ll have to recruit my son, who lives here, to be my helper and chauffeur for the next week. Hopefully it won’t take too long to see an orthopedist. I’m broken, in more ways than one. Breathing.

No Words

Photo by Aleksandr Burzinskij on Pexels.com

When time came to confirm my counseling appointment, scheduled for yesterday, instead of choosing “confirm” or “cancel” I left a rambling message for my provider. One bit about having two sprained ankles, explaining I literally didn’t know what to do. You’re supposed to talk to your support when you’re down, yes? I waited a few hours for a reply. None came. I hit the confirm button. wtf

It became obvious Monday that one of my sprained ankles was healing really well, responding to the full-court press with rest, ice, compression, and elevation. In comparison, the left lower leg and ankle, the “bad” one was not responding the same way. The bruising is from my toes, across my foot, and all around the ankle and lower leg. Although there was no black-and-blue on my shin area, there is the green/yellow tint of a bruise on its way out. Thankfully, I already had an appointment scheduled for my primary doctor. Looking forward to some imaging and I’d really like a boot.

Time approached for my video meeting with my counselor. I receive a text to join the meeting at about 9:45 a.m. I was still lying in bed, pajamas, bedhead. If we were going to meet, I was not making any effort. I had no efforts left to make. I held off on joining until closer to 10, and then my phone rang. Private number. Figured it was her and I answered. She inquired whether I’d decided one way or the other about appointment. I told her, “I have no idea what I would say. My only answer to questions is probably ‘fuck it.’ I don’t have an opinion about meeting,” and included information about the pain in my left leg, the death of my husband’s stepdad, and that he was leaving to go help his mom.

My therapy provider commented that I didn’t sound good. She commented but it seemed more like a question. I assured her I wouldn’t hurt myself. I just didn’t have words. We planned an earlier day to touch base rather than waiting until next regularly scheduled. Hope to have words after my doctor visit.

Another post sans proofread. I’ll probably do it later.

Where It’s At

I got two sprained ankles and a microphone. Can’t get that Beck song out of my head. It pops up every time I think or talk about my situation. Relevant pictures will follow the text, but they’re pretty gross, so this is your warning.

I have two sprained ankles and two injured knees. The pain from my left lower leg was so intense, I paid little attention to the right immediately following my fall. (See prior post “Free Fall”) On the day I twisted to the floor, I used a cane after, but wasn’t adept. I applied nearly regular weight on the right side to get around. It hurt, but everything did.

The day after the fall, I asked my husband to check out my “good” ankle because it was hurting, especially if pressure was applied which bowed my ankle outwards. Ooooh, lawdy. It was swelling but there was no bruising. We agreed it probably got tweaked a little as I went down.

Three days out, my bruises came out in full bloom. Well, they’ll probably look worse still before they get better. Extensive blue and purple on my good right foot surprised me.

Now, I’m feeling sad and overwhelmed. I was already irritated at having to incorporate the left ankle pain into my “regular” fibromyalgia pain, but now it’s both ankles. Sprains are going to take months to heal; I twisted one ankle badly years ago. Treating with RICE: rest, ice, compression and elevation. Doctor’s appointment Thursday.

I don’t have much to say, just a post expressing my frustration. One might say “whining” even. I have enjoyed writing this post for nearly two hours this morning, and that’s worth something.

It’s a fine mess. Here are the pics.

Free Fall

Photo by Anthony on Pexels.com

If it didn’t hurt so bad, one might find humor in the continued plight of this person. Me. Guess I could call this an update but that would be too onerous. Tuesday, still having terrible fatigue with headaches from COVID, I crossed the room to open the slider for our blue heeler, who ended up being uninterested in the outdoors. It was a fake.

Just before this I’d been sitting crisscross applesauce (I taught kindergarten) for a little while, certainly no longer than 15 minutes. Why, you ask? Because the night before I thought that would be a good stretch and add something new. When I first stood, I was surprised how much my left knee hurt.

After opening the slider, I turned to go back to my nest, one step, and then second step, and I believe my knee was unstable, not holding up. I didn’t know this at the time; I’ve done a few postmortems on the mechanics of my fall. In the moment, though, what I experienced was seeing my arms go up in the air, in a kind of feathery way, and then I was in the midst of it. Trying to go with the momentum of the spin down to the floor did not improve the outcome. My ankle turned, I swear it was nearly 180 degrees, and I saw that it was not in its usual alignment with my leg. The left ankle. The left knee. And it hurt, oh it hurt. I yelled and pounded the floor, at first just out of sheer pain but then in an effort to get my son’s attention from the basement.

Luckily, my son had just awoken and heard me. When he asked what happened and I suggested I had strained my knee from the way I’d been sitting. His response, “Mom, you know you’re not good in that position, from a long time ago.” Oh, yes. I do remember quitting because afterward I could barely get up.

Ice, compression, and elevation. Add “feel like I’ve been in a car wreck” to my symptoms the next day. I already have major issues with fibro and not quite done with COVID this day. Combining chronic pain, coronavirus, and a badly twisted ankle is exhausting.

Too tired to proofread. Apologies.

Blackbird Sings

A time to mourn in a time of much grief, my stepfather-in-law died this morning. He was a tough old bird, made it to 92 despite of myriad health challenges, and his grip remained strong. He was 60 when I met him in his backyard, fastidiously cared for by my in-laws. He’d worked his way up from machinist to engineer and worked for the same company for 30+ years. After retirement, he and my mother-in-law moved to an area in central California where they have no family nearby.

Because his father lived to be 94, we perenially expected Charles to live through the interventions required to treat the new thing that ailed him. Not this time. He had moved from hospital to a nursing facility, and six days ago the doctor said he had a week to live. Even when it’s expected, death sneaks up on you, bestowing tears in direct relation to the strength of love and history you shared.

These days, with omicron COVID racing around the world, are a time for massive mourning and loss. Somehow, my in-laws escaped the virus while inside the hospital and the nursing facility, even as it spread to many, many others, patients and healthcare workers alike. It made it more difficult for my mother-in-law to visit and some days’ visitations were cancelled for everyone. Thus, relativcs congregated outside the nursing facility each morning, finding out then whether or not they may enter and see their loved ones. Each day, if they are to be allowed in, they need to show a negative test that was less than 24 hours old. One man was frustrated to learn no visitors were being received just after he’d taken his test. My mother-in-law was so grateful she hadn’t tested herself and “wasted” one of her precious inventory. While tests were required, the store shelves held none. My husband and I sent her three tests we had at home, ordered her three packages of two tests each online, and shared the link for her to order her free tests through USPS. Now, she has a wealth of tests and no one to go see.

My husband will go down soon to help his mother with a honey-do list and possibly an estate sale. She’s mentioned that she’d like to stay put for four more years to pay off that home, miles from serious medical assistance and with no one there to help in an emergency. We’ve talked a bit about moving her here recently but she’s mentioned previously that her arthritis couldn’t withstand the cold winters here. We have time, presumably, to work through all these things, now that they’re not hypothetical.

When my 82-year-old dad died in 2019, it was totally unexpected. He coded during an outpatient surgery and died some days after when my mom, supported 100% by my sisters and me, made the heartwrenching decision to defer any further dialysis and to turn off the ventilator. Mom couldn’t stay for the end but one sister, one brother-in-law, and I held my dad’s hands, caressing his forehead, and letting him know it was okay to let go. In recent days, I had pictured what this might look like but I hadn’t accounted for after. Immediately, I found myself in a rush to leave because I didn’t want to see my dad dead any longer than the first minutes.

Can’t believe it’s been five years, but in 2017, we lost my sister-in-law, Steph, to ALS as we had my father-in-law, Ed, to the same back in 2011. Three months after Ed died, my stepsister-in-law, Cindy, succumbed to aggressive breast cancer in 2011, leaving behind her young children and her husband. Knowing ahead of time that they would pass did not make it any easier to learn of or to mourn.

In a world bathed in pain, illness, and loss, no less is the grief of each person affected by death.

Morning Has Broken
Morning has broken like the first morning
Blackbird has spoken like the first bird
Praise for the singing, praise for the morning
Praise for them springing fresh from the Word

Sweet the rain's new fall, sunlit from Heaven
Like the first dew fall on the first grass
Praise for the sweetness of the wet garden
Sprung in completeness where His feet pass

Mine is the sunlight, mine is the morning
Born of the One Light Eden saw play
Praise with elation, praise every morning
God's recreation of the new day

Morning has broken like the first morning
Blackbird has spoken like the first bird
Praise for the singing, praise for the morning
Praise for them springing fresh from the Word

Parent is Also a Verb 1/21/22

Photo taken by author

When my husband and I brought our second son home, our first son was 19 months old. He seemed to barely notice the addition. As a stay-home mom, the first couple of years were full of parallel activities: feeding them both included breastmilk for one and fingerfood for the other, different size diapers needing changed, and the new routine was adapted for napping. When the older son didn’t sleep midday any longer, he was allowed to play with his special treasures while the younger was in his crib. These were small items like dice, a jack, a marble and other things he’d collected in a small box. As soon as my toddler went down for a nap, my preschooler would say, “I want my choking hazards. Can I play with my choking hazards?”

So, the days unfolded. We moved from our two-bedroom, one-bath, 800 square foot starter bungalow to a house with more room inside and out. Not long after, I found myself in a most peculiar position. My offspring seemed to become closer in age as they grew and they joined forces against me!!! Before too long, they were the same size with nearly the same capabilities. The two imps found great pleasure in doing things they ought nought and maybe even more when they saw my reaction, their joyful laughter ringing all about as they turned and looked at each other.

The point is that, no matter how many parenting curricula I learned to teach or how complete my knowledge of child development, I was not a perfect parent and my sons were no angels. One of their favorite mischiefs was to jump on my bed and call our 120 pound dog, Molly, to join them. I’d hear the falderal and come from the kitchen or another room in the house to see the three of them cavorting and two laughing gleefully. Another time they might be emptying the diaper bag and smearing zinc oxide on themselves or playing in unattended paints while I tried to fit redoing the kitchen walls into my days.

In those early preschool years, far from a happy family gobbling up discipline and guidance in order to continue with our reliable routines and smooth transitions through ages and stages, I found myself raising my voice, okay yelling, nearly every day. Why? I know it’s not effective for training, and I may have checked myself more frequently if it were not for the galling laughter they displayed in the face of me giving directions or ordering them to stop. I was stymied by their defensive tactic. What to do when they weren’t bothered, in the least, by my instructions or my desire for them to obey?

One day, as I was in the middle of rustling those little guys, trying to place each of them in their own room and then, more difficult, getting them to stay put, the doorbell rang. Great. As I moved toward the door, I shouted for the boys to comply with my orders RIGHT NOW! Opening our front door to two, cleanfaced, white-shirted young men, I cut them off as they began to introduce me to the book of Mormon, “I can’t do this! We’ve got… chaos here!”

Running back to control my rambunctious inmates, the doorbell rang again. What in the world??? I turned and answered again, so ingrained are our social niceties. Now, two very nervous Mormon missionaries stood on my porch. “Um, can we help?” I shouted, “NO!” and shut the door. Bless their hearts – the young men, not my children – in that moment.

Eventually, what felt like forever, my sons grew and were more amenable to discussing, reflecting, and compromising. All grown up now, they still enjoy joining forces to yank my chain!

No one expects you to be a perfect parent. There’s no such thing. Circumstances, personalities, and natural proclivities to obey or challenge restrictions all combine to make parenting children a new adventure every day. Don’t beat yourself up and don’t lose heart. I told a mentor of mine I was so sad that my kids were just going to remember me yelling at them all the time, not lovingly guiding and teaching. She shared with me that when she apologized to her grown children for yelling so much, their memories were of love, play, and family with little-to-no recall of yelling and exasperation. In the big picture of your life together, frustrations will fade in the rearview mirror and may even become part of your family lore. Show yourself the same grace and forgiveness you would extend to any of your friends in the parenting trenches.

Photo taken by author

***Abuse is any action that intentionally injures or harms a person and includes physical, psychological and verbal abuse. No matter the frustration level, we must never attempt to assert control by belittling or attacking.*** If you need help, talk to your doctor, clergy, counselor, etc. If you suspect someone of abuse or neglect, check online for guidance in your state for reporting; agencies and regulations vary greatly across statelines.

Sara’s education and experience: B.A. Ed; M.S. Counseling; teacher grades K & 2/3, educator for childcare providers, training in Positive Discipline and Growing, parent educator, program director of crisis nursery, including parent support, staff management & training, stay home mom 16 years with two sons born 19 months apart, medical transcription for 10 years in order to stay home, substitute teacher grades K through 12. Blogs about a wide variety of topics on survivingsara.net.

2022? Not Off to a Great Start

Remember when we thought 2020 was shit and 2021 would be better? I saw a video on YouTube where the guy says, “Now that we’re getting past COVID…” It was filmed in July 2021. I shook my head. Little did we know. I didn’t hear one person claiming 2022 would be the year we become free from Delta, Omicron, and other mutations. We’re more realistic now. Right? I was hopeful, though, that we’d get some relief.

The shortage of Campbell’s original chicken noodle soup was certainly a sign of things to come. By yesterday, the groeery shelves were emptied of cold/flu remedies, bottled water, more soup/noodles, etc..

Many people are isolating, including me, for years now. What will the effects be? On children raised in a COVID world as well teenagers and adults who’ve had to seriously alter most of the things they were used to doing routinely. My circumstances didn’t change a lot, because I’m debilitated by fibromyalgia and depression; when I do go out, I feel stiff and uncomfortable.

The biopsy of my right lower lung in 2009 left me with scar tissue and a diagnosis of COPD. I’m not on an inhaler or anything now. I have done everything I could – vaxxed and boosted, wearing masks, and social distancing.

Then, my husband brought it home. He works in an office and had been the only person to not have COVID out of his coworkers. He is vaxxed. When his illness began, I surrendered. Whatever. Fatigue, headache, and sore throat came first. I was thinking it’s no big deal, thanks to my vaccines. Now, though, it’s moved into my chest, and I am sick. Thrilled not to be in the hospital, evenmoreso not to be giving a ‘do not resuscitate’ order and declining a ventilator.

My husband is still symptomatic and feeling sick ten days along. I’m on day four or five of feeling it. It was very subtle at first. “What exactly is it?” you might ask. Well, if testing wasn’t such a pain in the ass, I could answer definitively. We had some rapid tests, but my mother-in-law needed them in California to see her husband, age 92, in hospital rehab. Following that, I ordered more tests for her online and one for home but they’re backed up. It should arrive in a bit more than a week.

On Friday, I have a lonstanding appointment with my doc to discuss unrelated issues. Called this morning and asked what I should do. Come in or cancel? She told me to go to Urgent Care in the same network for testing.

The young woman who answered the Urgent Care phone urged me to come right away to get a testing slot. First come, first served. When they reach capacity for the day, no more spots. I did go. Parking lot was over full with several cars idling, waiting for their swab I’m sure. I parked in a spot that wasn’t a spot and walked up to the door on which I saw the sign, “This office is at capacity.” I missed the schedule by two. When the last woman who’d won the golden ring suggested I could go to other Urgent Cares, I couldn’t even. I’m sick. I’m not driving all over town.

My husband signed up for testing at our local fairgrounds tomorrow afternoon. I am pondering whether or not I want to get up to the same clinic tomorrow morning to grab a test spot. What for? I cancelled my massage therapy appointment scheduled Friday and I’m going to see my doctor at the beginning of February, instead of this week. Do I need a test?

Fucking COVID.

Parent is Also a Verb 1/14/22

Photo by Melike Benli on Pexels.com

Are you expecting your offspring to grab the keys and take off when they turn 16 or will you require they practice, take classes, and be tested so as to qualify for a license? We don’t just let our teenagers drive away because they’ve turned 16, although they may attempt to convince us that would be fine. Like many other life skills, we need to be discussing it repeatedly as the child grows, pointing out examples of people who aren’t doing it well, and providing clear expectations and consequences.

Here’s a subject that didn’t necessarily unfold the way I projected – wanting my kids to know they could always tell me anything and would be helped more than punished. From the time my boys were babies and for as long as they let me tuck them in at night, in a singsong tone I’d tell them,

"There's nothing you could say or do
that would make me stop loving you." 

I wanted to instill this foundational knowledge, so when they became adolescents and choices/consequences got more serious they’d know in their bones they could come to me with any concern or mistake, thinking they would want my involvement in the details of their lives. (I know, I know.)

Then, I raised one son who preferred to ask for forgiveness instead of permission and another boy who felt uncomfortable keeping things from me. Same house, same parenting. No magic bullet. Still, when my younger son came to me with information, I praised and rewarded his action while providing negative consequences to the son who had lied or kept things secret.

In middle school, they’d ask if they could ride bikes up to the closest community shopping area a few miles from home, and I’d review the rules before giving permission – every time. Luckily, it’s a pretty small community, and neighbors or friends would serendipitously mention seeing my sons up the hill, doing this or that off-limits activity, which I would then use to test my kids’ honest reporting. When they got banned from the local grocery store for running around and making loud noise, all trips up to the stores were cancelled. My older son took this as a suggestion, while my younger son didn’t go along with him and would fill me in, if he knew. My neighbor across the street once saw my older son with a friend when she waited in the front row at a red light while the kids moved through the crosswalk. She mentioned it harmlessly, and I held that son accountable while providing some kind of reward to the one who didn’t go. I couldn’t figure out why the older child didn’t see the benefits reaped by the younger one when he was honest.

Another example, I started talking about how babies are made early on. We talked about body parts openly and by their real names. One day, going to a lesson or a game somewhere, my 4th grade son asked, “Mom, what does muff mean?” I sighed. What to say. First I tried, “It’s an old-fashioned accessory like gloves. Women would put their hands in a muff to keep them warm.” He was quiet for a moment and replied, “Noooo. That’s not it.” To myself I thought, “Okay, give him the real info. I’ve told them we can talk about anything.” To my sons, I said, “Sometimes people refer to the pubic hair between a woman’s legs as a muff, it’s slang.” Once again, he answered, “Nooooo. That’s not it.” The discussions we had about anatomy or sex had become pretty commonplace so he didn’t overreact to my suggestion, not even laughing. I asked him what I should’ve clarified off the top, “How did you hear about it? Who said it?” He piped up,”My teacher looked at my paper and told me I really muffed something.” “Oh, that meant you made a mistake.”

Unfortunately, as he reached puberty, the youngest son went quiet. Not just about misadventures being made known to me, he got quiet about everything. When I quizzed him about things, he was no longer as forthcoming. Damn it!

We found another way to communicate when they began exploring sex. The oldest son had borrowed our minivan to go see his “girlfriend” a mile away, near the local swimming hole in our little river valley, which I thought was more about driving than the girl because he’d said he didn’t know if he liked her as much as she did him. After his outing, my husband and I got in the minivan to go buy some flowers for our yard. When we loaded the new plants, we came across a pair of female bikini bottoms in the back of the van!!! My husband smiled, but I immediatly thought: CONTRACEPTIVES! EMERGENCY! TEEN PREGNANCY! CONTRACEPTIVES!

As we came home with the new garden foliage, our son was riding his bike. He pulled up to the driver’s side window, and my husband held up the little black panties with one finger. My son’s face went through at least three shades of red. His father handed them to him and said, “Don’t have sex in our cars,” and drove on towards our house. Later, we went to a pharmacy and bought the largest box of condoms they had. I think it was a couple hundred, maybe? The supply went under the sink in the bathroom they shared, and I learned that my sons were done talking to me about body parts and how they work. I did explain, again, that if they made a baby, they would be a fully involved daddy, both financial and in presence, knowing they couldn’t realistically understand the full responsibility.

We had done our best. We want to have such open and honest discussions, practicing, and addressing problems that arise from ignoring or hiding the truth, that the child is able to take in information and judge for themselves how to handle circumstances. The spiral of childhood has us teaching and guiding about subjects that will recur and be discussed again at the next stage of life and the next, less as you go, until you are an observer, providing advice mostly when invited, allowing them to suffer consequences without us jumping in to relieve or settle a situation.

And remember, if you urge them to tell you anything, be prepared when it’s uncomfortable. My face probably went through the same stages of red my son’s had reflected.

Parent is Also a Verb (PAV) is a series within the blog “SurvivingSara.net” by Sara Zuelke, M.S. Counseling

p.s. With each son, I brought them into my room and shut the door. We used a banana and a condom to practice putting it on correctly. Thought it was funny the older one didn’t tell the younger. Both were curious, we talked about holding the tip. It was very helpful.

The Nitty Gritty

Photo by Monstera on Pexels.com

Tiny news items:

Twenty years I’ve called this house my home. Today, I was puzzled by the mechanism of the front window vertical blinds. It took several minutes to achieve the desired effect.

A longer pause than usual spent catching the word that’s just there, on the tip of my tongue, can be explained away, like the dust resting on the windowsill. That’s usual enough, but dust can be cleared away. Searching for words occurs more often over time, it seems.

Regularly now, the physical act of speaking causes pain in the ribs and nausea resulting from vibrations.

Tinnitus started 40 years ago as barely audible unless everything else was quiet. The volume has increased over time, sometimes spiking for a couple days and causing fear that this may be the new normal. At this point, I feel like I’m on the edge of tolerable. My ears have a fullness to them, imagine you’re on takeoff in an airplance and really looking forward to the relief that will come when the craft reaches elevation. Now, imagine that sensation recurring randomly. So, there’s that.

My relationship with chocolate? Shot to hell. I’ve surrendered for now.

Weight loss? I’ll settle for weight maintenance and I think I’m good there. Don’t know for sure because I have not replaced the scale broken by my husband.

A new ongoing story will involve my mother-in-law (MIL) and her probable relocation from 1,000 miles away to our place. Although I feel certain my MIL will never read this post or any other because she doesn’t know what a blog is and probably considers it weird or frivolous. This topic is, understandably, not getting published singularly, followed by updates. This is the beginning of me sharing events as they unfold. She shall remain nameless, referred to only as MIL. She was raised in Germany, married a US GI in the 60’s, and migrated to America with her new husband. To be continued…

I am happy to share that I’ve had at least an hour of pleasant peace the past few days and I’ve enjoyed writing this little newsy bit. Perhaps my creativity is beginning to flow.

p.s. I’ve been using my SAD light regularly and I think it’s helping. fyi

I’ll Take a While

Photo by Karolina Grabowska on Pexels.com

Just shy of two hours, I felt only content and grateful, which brought a smile to the edges of my mouth. Mindfulness helped me recognize it and then enjoy.

Most often, negative talk in my head creeps through the well-established ruts, dangling “You know this won’t last. Where is that other shoe? Around any corner? It will drop, believe you me.”

Today, I successfully brushed the fear and expectations aside, like those leaves on a beautiful stream in my mind when I attempt to breathe and hush the noise. It felt amazing. Experiencing the gentle peace rests with me for a while.

Unexpected

If I blog about not blogging, am I an oxymoron? Doing this post just so I could use that line, not gonna lie.

Photo by Suzy Hazelwood on Pexels.com

Chronic pain and illness are partially, if not wholly, responsible for the completely blank and arid condition of my brain. I recognize that this time of year is kind of a lull following the hustle and bustle of holidays. Throw in a global pandemic. There it is. So, the folks maintaining a high level of activity and achievement are the odd ones, not those of us who find ourselves wandering in a surreal world we could never have predicted, well, unless you’re a futurist.

Oxymoron or not, writing this little missive about not writing is also more than I expected. Hope this finds you however it finds you.

Juice

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I miss blogging but I’ve been completely uninterested. After my post, “Write Out” on December 18, 2021, I closed what has been my primary source of creativity and competence, and didn’t open it again until today, January 4, 2022. I opened my blog not out of an abundance of words ready to spill nor spurred by curiosity about a particular topic or event. I’m afraid the longer I avoid my writing, the harder it will be to come back. Perhaps, now that the darkest days of the season have passed, the ink in my head will thaw, allowing for the sense of satisfaction and resultant drive I had not so long ago, sufficient to write nearly daily for a spell. S’pose it’s an improvement that I wandered back, hoping to release my creative juices.

Fibro Sick

Beyond the pain, fibromyalgia can usher in so many other issues. Today, I am what I call “fibro sick.” Fatigue crashed over me like a big wave yesterday at 10:30 a.m. Nausea and loss of balance are nearly constant. I’m bothered by odd smells; living in a cold winter clime, somewhat closed in for the season, I’ve nevertheless been smelling a freshly cut lawn. Muscle and joint stiffness makes me feel like an old lady each time I move; I’m only 57!!! Holding a conversation with my husband is difficult because focusing on the topic at hand and searching for words longer than a few minutes is a challenge, in addition to physical discomfort I experience from speaking. The vibration of my sternum and throat cause more nausea as a result of inflamed soft tissue surrounding them. Any activity requires managing the complex of symptoms. I am mentally and physically exhausted. No virus or bacterial infection. No idea how long this round will maintain strength. I’m fibro sick.

post script: Just said to my husband, “I didn’t want to be this when I grew up!”

Surviving Sara’s Ramblings

About those updates I’ve promised previously:

Bright Line Eating: Ugh. Don’t ask. I ate mostly french fries and milkshakes following my tooth extraction and I never really got back to my concerted effort to minimize flour and avoid most processed sugars, coffee creamer excepted. The holidays are here, which doesn’t really change a thing in my world, but still it seems to be a pass for eating whatever I want. After the new year….

Oh, I almost forgot to tell you about the magic pill that was gojng to melt all the fat away, Glucofort. I forgot to take it daily during the whole tooth extraction episode and then fell off completely. Because there is still a full bottle sitting with the supplements on my kitchen counter, I’m going to try it again and I’ll let you know if it works. Has anyone tried the fat melter pill from Shark Tank? Did it work?

Regarding the counselor I’ve started seeing online, she’s good. I like her calm demeanor. It is Acceptance and Commitment Therapy, I think this is good for me, because just mulling things over isn’t getting results. She has me set a couple, realistic goals for the week and then checks with me the next week to see if I’ve completed them. I told her I didn’t think I was a very good client because my fibromyalgia gets in the way of my goals. She said she understands and won’t get impatient or feel like I’m not invested in our work. This week we are starting an acceptance therapy workbook, one chapter at a time.

The two-year anniversary of starting my blog passed recently. Writing this blog is the activity that expresses my creativity and reminds me my mind is still competent, even when I’m having trouble talking. On speaking, words escape me and searching for them can take 30 seconds or so, which feels like a really long time when a person has formerly been able to use words as darts to deflate someone’s bullshit. Thank you, readers, for coming along on my journey, whether it’s one post or most posts, as Ashley Peterson at mentalhealthathome.org does. Thanks for your support, Ashley!

Update on letting color into my world: I love both purchases I made of six plant parts cards for $13 and four canvas flower paintings for $26. They lived up to my expectations. I shop Amazon frequently, even as I rail against Bezos’ unrelenting effort to control more, more, more…

Another project I’ve undertaken, as a therapy goal, is cleaning the crap out of my closet. I’ve filled a large outside garbage bag and seriously thinned out my clothing. Shoes are next. I know I have some flip flops and other flat shoes that do not provide support. Do I send them on to a second hand store or is it okay if I wear them when I’m only going to be on my feet for a short time because they’re cute? Does anyone buy used shoes?

For the past two years of writing, I’ve used only my tablet with an onscreen keyboard. More than 250 posts written mostly with one finger. My husband bought me a laptop for Christmas and gave it to me early. because he knows I receive positive energy and express creativity and writing ability, which confirms to me I am okay.

My depression and physical pain and distress continue unabated. Despite starting counseling and making efforts to improve my surroundings, I am irritable, crying easily, and plagued by severe fatigue. Let’s give it time. It’s been two years since the bottom of coping dropped out; what’s another one or two?

Were there other areas on which I promised an update? I’m not sure I got them all. If there’s something I wrote about earlier and you’re interested in what’s happened since that post, drop a question in the comments and I’ll respond.

I hope this finds you well, whatever that means for you.

post script: I just remembered another update, my relationship with chocolate. I no longer ban chocolate completely as I did in the first months so sure was I that I wouldn’t be able to resist. I now am able to moderate my chocolate intake. I don’t buy it myself, but my husband does occasionally. Currently, there is a batch of brownies in my kitchen, and I’ve been able to limit myself to one per day. This is new and so welcome.

No More

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***This post contains coarse language and isn’t meant for very young people or those with a delicate sensibility.***

Had a massage appointment yesterday. I’ve been seeing the same massage guy for five years, so we’re pretty confortable with each other by now. In the morning, I told my husband I really wasn’t looking forward to Massage Guy (MG) telling me all about what I should be doing.

Husband: “What do you mean?”

Sara: “He always has suggestions and he has some sort of correction for me. I’m always doing something wrong. Last time he told me I wasn’t exhaling properly when doing deep breathing.”

Husband: “Just tell him.”

Sara: “Yeah, I dunno.”

Completely exhausted, I drive across town to the massage office. When I enter, he asks how I’m doing.

Sara: In an effort to give MG a heads up, I say, “All my fucks are gone. I have no more fucks to give. I’m exhausted.”

MG: “Well, yeah. You look really tired. Have you been doing your exercises?”

Sara: With a withering look, “No. No, I have done some basic stretching but that’s all.”

MG: Shaking his head, his body language tells me I’m not being good at being broken. “Okay, go ahead and get on the table. Holler when you’re ready.” It’s a one-man office, so a holler won’t bother anyone.

After massage has begun, he asks about what I’ve been doing.

Sara: “I’ve been doing counseling. She holds me accountable with my short-term goals between visits and it makes me anxious.” Now, I’m thinking this heads off incoming suggestions since I’m actively participating in counseling, which MG has been reommending for some time.

MG: “What else?”

Sara: “Nothing.”

This is MG’s opening. “There’s an online course you’d probably find interesting. It’s about taking care of your neck.”

Sara: “My neck is full of severe osteoarthritis regardless of anything I do, and I took a six week course neck class at a physical therapy office a while back.”

MG: “Yeah, well that’s probably a long time ago. This one is only $49.99 and there are packages you can buy for chiropratic visits.”

Sara: “I have no more fucks to give. I don’t give a fuck about paying to take a class when I probably know it all by now anyway.”

MG: “I’m really just talking about mental stimulation, doing something.’

Sara: As I’ve told you repeatedly, “Writing my blog is my creative outlet. I read other blogs also, and that’s mental stimulation.”

MG: “Yeah, but…” Why does no one take blogging seriously? Only if money is made?

Sara: Interrupting and on the edge of tears, “I told you I got nothing. I can’t start a new thing. You may not have noticed but I’m kinda fragile right now,” with tears falling.

MG: “I get it. I’m just trying to suggest things that might make you feel better. You know the people around you just care about you and don’t want to see you hurting.”

Sara: “I don’t give a fuck.” As the conversation continued, I gave that answer a few more times. Then my people-people pleaser self offers up how I’ve ordered pictures to add color to my room. I justify that I set up in my room because I have an incredible view of forest and the mountain in the distance. If I sat in the living room, I’d be uncomfortable in the furniture and my views would be the houses and street out front as well as our deck in back. I explain all of this. Why? Because other people’s discomfort with me causes me to be uncomfortable.

Our conversation turned to other things, thank goodness.

As I made my way out the door, MG made one more effort, “I really do want you to move out of your bedroom. That’s my opinion.”

Sara: “Yeah, I get that but you know what? I don’t give a fuck.”

Side note: I could do a whole post about others being uncomfortable with me setting up daytime home base in my bedroom. To make friends and family feel better, I should sit in the living room. The seating is uncomfortable and the view sucks, but people will feel better about my situation if I do that. What the fuck? I should just tell everyone I sit out there, for fuck’s sake. Oh, right. I don’t have any fucks left to give about making other people comfortable with my chronic illness and pain. I release that responsibility.

On Brokenness

Weak, breathing slow and shallow. Certain no one will see me, surprised each time someone reads me here. No longer a good daughter, sister, friend. Letting it all go. It doesn’t matter who I was or what I did. Shedding every bit of that. What’s left? Acceptance. Gotta work on that.

When the prettiness turns to pain, push it down. Find purpose? Is my purpose breathing? Breathing. Sometimes it feels like I don’t need to breathe. I could just stop. Doesn’t work.

  • I should _______, ________, and ________. Many words fit in these spaces and run on a loop through my head all day, every day.

Tell myself I shouldn’t should on myself.

This blog is evidence that I think and create. Who fucking cares?

To you, if you too seek refuge from chronic illness and/or chronic pain. Take care of yourself, and I don’t say that in a namby-pamby kind of way. Do not become an arid, little nothing as a result of withdrawing into yourself to avoid burdening – I just realized I rarely use burden as a verb. I assign it to myself and personalize it. I own it even as I try so hard not to feel it. Becoming a whisper. There I go, acting as though I have unique, meaningful experiences to share.

Whatever. Doom and gloom again. Not gonna apologize because I need to stop seeking forgiveness for being broken, which is not a big deal because those repulsed or annoyed didnt read this far. Even my brokenness is broken.

Such a rebel am I, not gonna proof read. Maybe tomorrow. ✔

Vertigo Vexation

My old friend, Vertigo, has stopped in for a visit. If you are blessedly unfamiliar, the best way to describe the sensation I experience is to take you back to when you were a child. Playing outside on front yards and sidewalks, a friend would spin you round and round while you scrunched your eyes closed, after which you’d open them and try to walk. Never played that? Growing up, my family lived in neighborhoods chock full of kids with whom my sisters and I spent long summer days entertaining ourselves for free.

Now, in the spinning game (not to be confused with spin-the-bottle), after the first few out-of-control seconds pass, you try ambulating but walking is much more difficult than you think it should be, made worse by certainty that the ground beneath your feet is moving. Everyone backs out of the splash zone in case someone tosses their cookies, and they dance around, making noise to further discombobulate. Your hands go out seeking stability, grasping at anything available. Maybe you do go down, reaping laughter from friends as you breathe easier now that you’re grounded. Dizziness wears off fairly quickly and the next kid gets a turn.

Of course, in real life, the unsteadiness, wooziness, motion, and loss of equilibrium don’t disappear after a minute; vertigo stays as long as it likes. The most recent bout I had lasted a few weeks, and noticing it gone can take a couple days until I realize I’ve made it to the kitchen or laundry room without fear of crashing into things or keeping one hand on the wall.

Vertigo is more than dizziness. It’s also a loss of balance. Getting a cup of coffee from the kitchen to where I set up base camp is to risk burning my hand or splashing coffee about the walls and floor if I go down. I did reach my daytime nest safely today but not before three calls of “whoa!” and nearly knocking my tray of supplies for the day (tissues, medicine organizer, notebook, etc.) upside down.

In Alfred Hitchcock’s film, Jimmy Stewart’s character actually has acrophobia, a fear of heights. Perhaps being up high in a bell tower and looking down induces vertigo for him, or maybe Hitchcock thought “Vertigo” made a sexier title than “Acrophobia.”

Combined dizziness, loss of balance, and resulting nausea lands me in a dysfunctional spot. More than any other symptom, vertigo disables me all on its own, regardless of what else is going on with me. Widespread aches and pains debilitate based on severity and location, but I have acetaminophen, a muscle relaxer, or a mild anxiolytic (Not a benzodiazepine, although I have used them in the past.) to ease some symptoms. No treatment makes vertigo disappear. The most effective method I’ve found for dealing with it is keeping my head in one position when I move. It doesn’t cancel the effects of ongoing vertigo, but looking to either side definitely exacerbates the spinning and tilting. At times, it feels like terrible motion sickness, and then I employ Bonine, generic meclizine, which knocks me out.

As my husband prepared for his workday this morning, and now dealing with a fresh blanket of snow, I told him I was going to try to take a shower before he left. Then I said, “Correction. I am going to take a shower. I’m going to try not to fall.” Success!

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