I’ll Take It

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Feeling ever so slightly better, in comparison to the last couple weeks, so I want to acknowledge that. Things could flip at any moment, but it’s been a nice four hours, and maybe I’ll get more.

I’m switching insurance and, of course, there was a hitch; so I was going to write this as I struggled through the system. Got myself anxious about it starting last night, pep talking how I really have to deal with it and cannot magically wish it all smooth and problem-free. You know, the one where you tell yourself it is only going to make things worse if you procrastinate.

After dialing the first number (because you know it’s not going to be the last), I opened my blog. I got wonderful customer service from all three people with whom I spoke. Nice! I hope we all just made each others’ days a little better.

It’s done! It was no big deal and I handled it. Small victory and I’ll take it.

How Long?

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When every day is painful and difficult, how many years of that do you owe to the people who love you before you choose to be done struggling, knowing full well that the pain and difficulty will then transfer to your family and friends.

What is strong? You hear people say sometimes, “Oh, she was so strong. She never complained, always had a smile for everyone.” If that’s the qualifier, guess I’d be in the featherweight division. I can’t help but moan and groan or huff and puff, sound effects of effort, strain, overwhelming fatigue, and ever changing, assorted hurting. Tears, I have a bottomless well of salty drops. They stream down my face of their own volition, and sometimes my body is shaken with sobbing.

Having a chronic illness literally weakens my muscles and immune system. So, does that mean I am weak? I can’t hold all the pain inside without it brimming over; is that an indicator of weakness? I didn’t used to think of myself as a weak person, but when I look for remaining strongholds I don’t see any.

How long?

In the Shadows

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Eight-and-a-half months ago, I came very close to ending my life. I don’t feel as far from that as I thought I would by this time. Of course, I didn’t foresee a global pandemic upending the lives of people around the world. A report I read earlier today said depression, anxiety, and suicidal thoughts are increasing in the general population during this time.

I’ve transitioned depression and anxiety medications, which I knew would be uncomfortable. I told my doctor I don’t want to make any medication changes for a couple months, because I feel the need for stabilized levels of chemicals in my brain, both those targeted pharmaceutically and those unaffected directly.

It’s not unusual for recovery from a major depressive episode to take several months or a year, and continued care with a doctor is necessary as long as you’re on prescription medicine. I know this. I’ve been through two previous bouts of major depression and recovered to enjoy long periods of health, including the ups and downs of life we all face.

This time around has been the worst, dismantling my theory that, given past experience and an M.S. in counseling, a thorough understanding of depression, its course, and coming out the other side would somehow inoculate me from future episodes. I felt like, “I got this.” Oh, the hubris.

Now I’ve learned even more about this illness; namely, the patient doesn’t get to choose whether or not to take this on nor how long it will take to heal. Perhaps, since this has been the deepest, darkest depression I’ve encountered, it may take longer for return to baseline. My journey is complicated by fibromyalgia, which worsened significantly following the acute stress disorder last fall that kickstarted the suicidal depression.

Here I am, feeling like a shadow of my former self. These quiet months at home are an opportunity for me to further develop patience, humility, and self-acceptance of warts and all. I hope I will continue to improve and get stronger, strong enough to walk out of the shadows and back into the light.

Someone Keyed My Car, and I Deserved It

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About ten years ago, I drove myself to an early morning needle breast biopsy. When they called me to schedule it, they said I could drive myself, so I did. As I drove my blue Honda Odyssey across town for the outpatient procedure, my nerves fired up, “What if this? What if that?” Given that i have breast cancer in close family, I told myself I better prepare for the worst and hope for the best.

I arrived at the parking garage attached to the doctor’s building. The place was practically empty and I was able to park near the elevators. As I pulled into a parking space, I looked at the car in the space on my passenger side. The car wasn’t straight, and the front end driver’s side was over the yellow line at the end of my spot. I thought, “Wow, they parked shitty. It’s going to be really difficult for anyone to squeeze in the driver side door. That sucks.” And off I went to my biopsy.

The parking garage was nearly empty. I had a multitude of spaces I could’ve chosen, and even still been close to the elevators. This did not occur to me even once. I parked between the lines and they didn’t. How easy would it have been for me to pick any other spot. My mind was so overwhelmed by the prospect of the biopsy itself and the possible results, it was functioning on autopilot, certainly not performing critical thinking skills.

The biopsy sucked. They had to do it while my boob was flattened in between the mammogram plates. Just glad to have that over with, I breathed a sigh of relief on my way to the elevators. Then I started thinking about my imbecilic decision to park next to car that was askew. I began hoping fervently that those people were still in the middle of whatever they were doing at the medical center.

Alas, when I arrived at my floor and exited the elevator foyer, I noted with a sinking feeling that my neighbor had already departed. A sense of foreboding crept over me and I sensed the need to check out my passenger side. Whoever had parked there agreed my decision was idiotic and expressed themselves by keying my minivan the entire length of the car THREE times! These were deep gouges, not to be buffed away.

My first thought was, “Shit. I gotta tell my husband the car was keyed.” The next thought was, “And I have to tell him it’s my fault. Damn.” I couldn’t even get mad because I totally earned that. The poorly parked car was a compact with bucket seats, and it would’ve been difficult to get in either side, especially if it was a heavyset person. Whoever it was had some good arm strength, because by the third trip down the car I don’t think my scratches would still be as deep as the first. That’s how it ends up I got my car keyed, and I’m the one feeling guilty!

p.s. I’ve had another biopsy since, different, but again they said I could drive myself. My husband said he’d like to go with me (he hates hospiitals) so he drove. Also, benign findings on both!

The Best-Laid Plans…

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Last week, I decided not to make daily plans because I was disappointing myself day after day. The intertwined difficulties of depression and fibromyalgia have brought me to a place I haven’t been to previously, my functioning impaired significantly for several months.

It’s now eight months since I collapsed under the weight of suicidal depression. I just completed my medication transition three weeks ago, and Dr. Liz made it clear it takes three weeks for these new meds to reach the neurotransmitters. All right, 21 days at therapeutic dose, so I decided today I would turn a new leaf, feel much better, shower, put on makeup, write a blog post on coping with chronic illness, and probably do some oil painting as art therapy.

Upon waking this morning, I was incredibly dizzy, and the more I move around, the more queasy I get. Currently, my to-do list features one item – take a shower.

A couple things come to mind. First, in addition to needing three weeks to reach the brain, I’ve been taught that medications for depression can take three to four months to level out consistently.. Also, even when those meds reach my brain and stabilize, I’ve still got fibromyalgia.

So, I’m not constructing a thoughtful post about my insights and experiences living with a chronic illness over years. This is the post I’m capable of today, Instead of feeling disappointed in myself, I’m just shaking my head at myself; someday maybe I’ll accept that I do not get to decide how I’m going to feel tomorrow.

Now What?

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Life has taken a new shape for everyone. There’s a hole in many lives that used to be filled with work, friends, sporting events, summer vacations, taking your kids to swim in a pool crowded with splashing, hollering kids, etc.

Personally, after leaving my job due to prior lung damage, I thought I’d rest up and then be the kind of homemaker I have not managed to be consistently over the years. The scenes in my mind included vacuuming and cleaning bathrooms on a weekly basis, fixing dinner five out of seven evenings, taking care of the laundry, and spending hours outside caring for my beautiful plants and flowers.

Unfortunately, turns out it wasn’t full shifts standing on concrete that was causing me to feel crappy. It’s the nature of the beast, fibromyalgia. Any of the symptoms I hadn’t experienced in the decade since my diagnoses have revealed themselves to me, regularly and, sometimes, intensely. I had attributed many things I’d been experiencing to long work days on top of fibromyalgia.

Now, four months off work, the aches and pains persist, on the move daily, sometimes hourly. The fatigue and leg weakness occur more days than not; I’m so relieved that I’m no longer getting 12,000 steps in a day. The newer symptoms include nausea most days, dizziness, loss of balance, muscle tics all over but not all the time, and “fibro fog.” I’m attaching a list of symptoms below; I experience almost all of them, frequency ever changing.

The summer days I looked forward to look a whole lot different than the imagined meals and a house so clean I’d never be embarrassed to have unexpected company. It took a few weeks for me to figure out that being off work would not be the solution to all my problems. First diagnosed in 2009, I just recently had to go through the process of accepting that I do have fibromyalgia. I do have a chronic illness. I am chronically ill.

These days are slow, some more productive than others. I try always to clean the kitchen and then putter about as able. I get outside most days, but don’t always make it. I feel so blessed that I can be home, listen to my body and respond as needed. I’m learning a lot and trying some new ideas.

To-do lists are no more; when I’m not able to complete the things I wanted to get done on a particular day, I disappoint myself. I get totally overwhelmed if I look out over the coming decades of pain along with all the rest. It is apparent, also, that feeling bad about feeling bad and the prospect of continued difficulties, makes everyone sad. This is the only day I’ve got. I’m doing the best I can today. When I wake up tomorrow, I’ll see how I feel and then decide how I will fill my day.

Sufferin’ Succulents!

My succulents, many of them, got kinda funky this summer with tall shoots and flowers. I thought it was pretty cool; figured it was because this is their third summer and they’re maturing. The flowers have dried up, so I googled whether or not to deadhead and, if yes, the best way to go about it.

After looking at a few results, lo and behold, when they grow stems or legs, it’s because they’re not getting enough light!!!! I felt like a horrible plant mom. Right away, I trimmed the stems off as advised by the experts. My husband is out there now, trimming an evergreen bush that hovers above.

Ten years ago, if you’d told me I would feel attached emotionally to plants, I would have laughed so hard, I’d have had to run for the bathroom. (If you’ve birthed children, you’ve probably been there.) Here I am, feeling so relieved I learned this new information, and thinking, “Those poor plants. I’ll do better; I promise!”

Travels During the Virus

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Without leaving my house, over the past few months, I’ve visited several countries. It’s so interesting to see the landscape, culture, and social norms in other places. I’m interested in the various housing designs and seeing towns and cities I’ve heard about but don’t plan to see in person. There are many series and movies filmed internationally available on Netflix and Amazon Prime (this is not a commercial). I’m also vacationing in the Ozarks with my husband some evenings.

For a long time, I’ve searched out British shows. I typically watch detective/crime stories, and I really enjoyed Criminal: United Kingdom, Broadchurch, and the first two seasons of Marcella. Over on Amazon Prime, I love Endeavor, a crime series which takes place in the 60’s and courtroom dramas I’d recommend include Silk and The Bench. More detective series worth a look are Midsomer Murders (although my husband can’t stand the intro music!), Father Brown, Ruth Rendell Mysteries, DCI Banks, Murder City, Silent Witness, and Scott & Bailey. A few dramas that I liked that don’t fit neatly into a category are Appropriate Adult, The Stranger, and From There to Here.

Next stop, Australia! As far as I’m concerned, everything is better with an Aussie accent. Loved the comedy, Rake, laugh out loud funny to me. Dramas included Wentworth, The Blue Rose, City Homicide, The Trial: A Murder in the Family, and Deep Water. The courtroom series, Crownies, is a guilty pleasure, mixing law, gossip, humor and some drama. Rebel Wilson hosts Last One Laughing: Australian. It’s quite silly and I did LOL.

From Iceland, we have a mystery, The Valhalla Murders. You can choose English dubbing or subtitles. You could also choose audio in French, German, Icelandic, or Spanish. There are stunning landscape shots.

The Twelve is a courtroom drama filmed in Flemish originally, Let’s just start there. If the cast is speaking Flemish, where are they? Admittedly, I’ve always been confused about how exactly Denmark, Holland, the Netherlands, and Belgium relate to one another. For our purposes, Flemish is spoken by about 55% of Belgians and a few thousand people in France. I could’ve used the Belgian flag but I thought the Flemish flag was so cool. What struck me with this show was how different the court proceedings are from the U.S. judicial system. This was true of many of the shows filmed around the world.

Wading into the weeds here, I looked it up: people who live in Denmark are Danish and speak Danish, for the most part. The folks in the Netherlands are Dutch. There are two provinces that include the name Holland, but over the years, people have casually referred to all of the Netherlands as Holland. The Flemish, or Flemings, are an ethnic group of Germanic origin who make up the majority of the Belgian population. You’re welcome. 😁

From South Africa, I recently viewed Shepherds and Butchers, a very dramatic film inspired by true events, exploring the prison system, namely the application of the death penalty. It was hard to watch but I’m glad I did. The Forgiven is a great movie starring Forest Whitaker and Eric Bana.

Not sure I’d call this one a recommendation. I watched a Swedish series called Quicksand. I found the storyline nominally interesting but the main character’s English dubbed voice sounds like she has marbles in her mouth, which is a pet peeve of mine. As far as seeing what life is like there, the scenes are set on a yacht, in mansions, and prison, so not a real tour. The story is wrapped around a school shooting, so some might want to steer clear.

Most recently, I watched Borderliner, which primarily takes place in Norway with some border crossings to Sweden. This one doesn’t have English dubbing, although it does have Brazilian Portuguese, French, Italian, and Spanish! I put my phone and tablet down, committed to being present, watched the scenes without dialogue and faithfully read the English subtitles. It was a nice, centering experience, rather than glancing between screens, relying on hearing the story unfold. Good, complex plotlines with twists and turns. You get to see a lot of different homes, apartments and other buildings. In general, I found this one most interesting for architecture and the styles of interiors. Hey, maybe that’s because I truly watched!

Currently, I’m watching Hinterlands, which takes place in Wales. The variety of landscapes is interesting and sometimes beautiful. It’s in English, but not exactly my English, so I still have English subtitles activated because I have a hard time understanding everything they say. Love that flag!

I almost forgot The Durrells on Corfu by PBS on Amazon Prime. Corfu is an island municipality in Greece. The story takes place in the WWII era. A British family led by a single mother land on the island, and adventures ensue. The scenery is wonderful and the characters are delightful.

Staying home to avoid COVID due to lung scarring and having all kinds of fibromyalgia symptoms, I’m choosing to visit other lands and stories with some of the time on my hands. Not sure I’ll watch Hinterlands all the way through because there are a lot of seasons, but then I’ll be off to a new location.

p.s. If you’ve read some earlier posts, you may recall that I am cyber challenged. If you could have seen me fumbling to find flag photos, download or share to myself, and try to find them after I saved them in order to insert in the blog; you’d be shaking your head. One would think after handling a couple of them, I’d get the hang of it, remembering how it worked last time, etc., but no. I share this with you to lower your expectations – not really, just joking – but to let you know that you certainly don’t have to be a techie to publish a blog. No doubt my process is incredibly slow and clumsy, sometimes taking longer than it should to get it just the way I want, or close, but I sure enjoy this form of expression. Thanks to anyone reading this – as of today, I have 50 followers! 🎉

On the Inside

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I’m feeling squiggly, which is how I describe the roiling of depression, anxiety and fibromyalgia. Not a full-on meltdown, just a constant, gnawing sense that I’m not okay or something out there isn’t right. It insists on receiving my attention, or at least won’t let me focus on anything else in a sustained, meaningful way.

I’m so fucking over dealing with depression and anxiety. Saw Dr. Liz today, and we’ve adjusted my meds. Because I haven’t leveled out on a therapeutic dosage yet, I’m not well.

“You have a chemical imbalance. When the chemicals are in order, you will feel much better. You will have more energy. You are okay. Breathe deeply, exhale completely, repeat.” I can tell myself this until the cows come home, but it doesn’t change the way I feel today.

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Bullseye

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I broke up with my high school boyfriend at the end of my senior year, not long after giving him a few of my senior pictures, including an 11 x 14. The next fall, when I found myself dating a guy who lived in the same dorm as me, on the same floor as my ex, I asked if I could get those photos back, seeing how he obviously wouldn’t be wanting them.

He readily agreed to bring the pictures back to school next time he went home, but he had an excuse each time about why he’d forgotten them. I knew he was really pissed about me going out with this guy on his floor and, when I’d originally requested the return of the photos, his first response had been, “Why? So you can give them to Brad?” in an extremely derisive tone.

After a couple months, with a handful of unsuccessful reminders, I finally confronted him. “What’s going on? Why aren’t you bringing my photos back?”

“Well, okay. Chris (his good friend) and I set up your pics and Diana’s (Chris’s ex-girlfriend) senior pictures, drank some beers, and threw darts at your faces. Sorry.”

His apology sounded less than sincere, and I’m pretty sure there was a bit of a smirk. 😏

What in the World?

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With global warming, I could let some people slide back in the day; because it really seemed so distant. One could excuse the older generation when I was young. After all, they hadn’t grown up observing Earth Day. By now, though, with accelerated climate change evidenced by more and bigger hurricanes, a heat wave in Siberia, and the ocean lapping ever so slowly, but steadily, up the beaches, boardwalks, bayside towns, and city blocks of our largest metropolitan centers on each coast, there can be no doubt. Climate change deniers just argue the cause now, ceding the obvious effects.

Two major upheavals have occurred in just the past few months, though, that do not allow time for ignoring or ignorance. The pandemic is raging out of control as a result of irresponsible decision making from the very top of our country all the way down to individuals who are willing to sacrifice the health and wellbeing of our most vulnerable citizens in order to satisfy their own vanity or somehow “express their rights. Wear a mask, please!!

Concurrently, a white lady is covering over the Black Lives Matter mural, painted with official permission, in Martinez, California. Another white lady pulled a gun on a black woman in a parking lot, screaming, “Get back! Get back!” Oh, we must not forget the white lady holding a confederate flag while yelling, “Yeah, I’m gonna teach my kids to hate you! I’m gonna teach my grandkids to hate you!” – only to say later, after her rant went viral, she had a blackout and doesn’t remember a thing, assuring anyone who will still listen that she would never say those things. I could stop there but I would be remiss not to mention the white lady who purposefully coughed on a baby in a stroller because she was irritated that the mother was speaking a language other than English. Sadly, I could keep going. Hey, white ladies, “You’re not the center of everyone else’s world. Treat ALL the people with whom you come in contact just the way you want to be treated. In short, quit being whiny assholes.”

At this point, you might be thinking, “Why are you acting like the problem is just racist white women. Not all white women act that way.” Well, I am a middle-aged, white female, and I’m calling these people out because I can. That’s white privilege, too, that we need to use.

Unwell

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Here I am again, feeling like shit. Fibromyalgia is like a short circuit in your nervous system. When things line up just right, like a lightbulb coming on when you position the damaged cord just so or your phone charging only after much tilting and toggling the charge cord in the port of your phone, I sometimes feel pretty okay.

But you bump that cord and lose connection. Recoiling immediately, you might get lucky and have it restored. More likely, you’ve dislodged it more, and now it’s not charging at all.

With fibromyalgia, you never know when you’re going to find that sweet spot where you get to remember what “normal” felt like. I spend most of my days thinking if I just try hard enough to align everything, I’ll get a good connection. One day stretching will help so I’m able to complete a task, the next day I’m too nauseous or fatigued to get out of bed, and the next day, I’m able to get to some of my to-do list. Any plans made are dependent on how I’ll feel that day.

A couple days ago, I had two good days in a row, so I redecorated and rearranged my living room. My husband did the heavy stuff, but I took down all the decor, managed furniture placement, and then reworked my decor in new ways. Currently, no pun intended, the short circuit has the whole system going haywire. I am sicker with fibro than I’ve ever been. It includes all of me.

I’m watching stand up comedy, hoping for some endorphins. I’ve given myself permission to not post for a while, even if good ideas float through my brain.

Owning My Bias

Photo by Nicholas Swatz on Pexels.comGrowing up

Growing up in the Pacific Northwest, very near Idaho, we heard white supremacists and satanic worshippers were living no more than 20 miles from where we were. To my high school friends and I, it felt like an urban legend. Of course, it would have been a rural legend because, if they were actually there, they were living in a lightly populated area with lots of forested land.

In the 1980’s, the whole country learned at least part of it wasn’t a myth when people from the aryan nation and the order (not capitalized intentionally) assassinated a Jewish radio host, bombed a synagogue, robbed banks, and stole millions from armored vehicles. The aryan nations were recruiting heavily from prisons. They had parades through a nearby town.

It was in this climate that I firmly took my stand that I was in no way racist. I might add that, where I grew up, there were hardly any black or brown people. In my high school of 1200 students, there was one biracial guy who grew up in the area. I thought he was treated the same as everyone else, but how would I know? He probably did have to deal with name-calling or worse. There was a brother and sister who arrived mid year with beauti but they only lasted a week. There were a couple schools in the county with more diverse student bodies. I would’ve transferred to one of those if I was a black girl landing at my high school with no other black girls. Anyway, I guessed that’s what happened.

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The university I attended was certainly more diverse than my high school, but that’s not saying anything. When far-right wingnuts stood on campus spewing their nonsense, I was one of the students who would gather around and argue. It was the mid 80’s and we were required to take a class from the list of multicultural offerings. I took an intro class in the Africana Studies program, part of the Department of Race and Culture Studies.

Following college graduation, I began my career as a teacher in Southern California. Obviously, I encountered a rich tapestry of colors and cultures as I explored south to San Diego and Tijuana, west to Santa Barbara, and east to Las Vegas. Being introduced to authentic Mexican and Asian cuisine was an eye opener!

So, imagine my surprise and shame when my implicit bias showed itself. One Saturday evening a few months after I moved to So Cal, a couple of friends from my hometown and I went to Westwood. Adjacent to the UCLA campus, there are lots of young people barhopping and checking out the wide variety of shops selling fun, odd, and risque wares. We were standing near a gyros stand, looking at the pictures and trying to decide if we should go for it. None of us had heard of gyros, let alone falafel!

There were lots of young, good-looking people driving very nice cars slowly around, cruising. I saw a beautiful, silver, convertible Porsche Carrera with two blacks guy in it. I thought, “Wonder who they stole that from?” My jaw dropped and I felt sick – at myself! My next thought was, “I am racist and I didn’t even know it!” They were probably students at UCLA, one of whom had a really, really nice car, not unlike many other young people enrolled there.

The realization came that I had lived most of my life in completely or predominantly white areas and I had accepted stereotypes of others, and it would require self-awareness and a desire to learn about the experiences of others to expose the implicit biases I harbored and dismiss them, replaced with understanding and curiosity.

I consider myself lucky to have lived a portion of my life in a very diverse county. Life was diverse – my students, coworkers, friends, neighbors. I formed close enough friendships with some people that I felt comfortable asking hard questions about how life looked for them and how they felt the effects of racism, both overt and systemic. One teacher friend talked about how she and her husband, both black, definitely had to jump through more hoops than others to secure a mortgage, having to pay more down, and the whole process taking forever. Another friend of mine lost her son who had been invited to come by a party, only to find he was the only black kid there. Some ignorant racists, probably Palmdale Peckerwoods, told him he didn’t belong. He tried to explain it was his friend’s house and he’d been invited, but they kicked him out and stabbed him. He died a block away, trying to leave. He bled out. He had just completed his first year of college and had come home one week earlier for summer break. I was in L.A. County when the cops who kicked the shit out of Rodney King were acquitted and riots broke out. Lots of people talked about race then.

My point is, we have all grown up with ideas or ways of doing things that are ingrained. Some of these things are no big deal, like when you’re a kid and you’re amazed that other families do things differently than yours. You had just assumed that everyone sat around the table for meals or you thought everybody eats in front of the television.

If we want to embrace this time, when millions around the world are crying out for racial equality and racial justice, we must each start by examining and owning our own implicit biases with an open mind and curiosity to learn what life is like for people of different colors and with cultures different than our own.

After seven years in Southern California, my husband and I moved back to my hometown. The lack of diversity was glaring, coming from one of the country’s major metropolitan centers. Over the years, the community has definitely become more diverse, but it might not feel that way to all of our neighbors.

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Aaaahh

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That’s not really me, but I’d love to be there. I am feeling pretty relaxed for the first time in a long while. Very low pain level today in just a few spots. I’ve been spending a lot of time learning about fibromyalgia. Although it has rolled off the tip of my tongue for years, I’d really resisted spending time looking into the condition. I preferred to ignore and avoid, push through. Until I couldn’t.

I’m excited to share what I’m learning and the changes I plan to make. I’ve paced myself well today, but don’t have it in me to write anymore. Maybe tomorrow. I feel hopeful!!

Mixed Up World of Fibromyalgia

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I have a few post fragments in my head but pain has been significant recently and I’m not concentrating well. I mentioned a few posts ago that I have had the diagnosis of fibromyalgia for 11 years but feel like I’m just now truly accepting the big picture of fibro and adjusting my behaviors that may improve my symptoms. Soldiering on and pushing through to complete things I feel like I “should” be doing has not been effective.

So, if you have, think you might have, or know someone with it, let’s learn about fibromyalgia.

I got this information from Healthline by authors Kristeen Cherney, Kimberly Holland, and Stephanie Watson.

A Stunning Dearth of Leadership

In World War I, a German officer gave the following pep talk to Turkish troops standing in a couple feet of snow, “I know you don’t have coats and you don’t have shoes, but our enemy, the Russians, are really scared of you.”

In the midst of a devastating pandemic that is under much better control in other developed countries, who are seeing serious decreases over sustained time, one of the things those nations who have the best results in lowering infection have in common, the populations voluntarily wear masks when they’re out. The use of a mask is the most powerful tool we have to curtail this continued health crisis while treatments and vaccines are developed. Our national leader has turned this common sense, community-minded, simple act of wearing a mask into a political statement about himself.

The President of the United States, Donald Trump, joked that you can call COVID lots of things, like Kungflu. You could tell by his delivery that he thought that was a good one. He went on to share that he had urged officials to slow down testing so the numbers wouldn’t look as bad. His campaign said that was joking too.

What we know, for sure, is the leader of our country was joking about the virus, even if we only consider his use of a racist term to discuss a highly contagious, deadly disease that has already taken the lives of more than 100,000 Americans, and climbing. Let’s even accept the spin political aides are trying to sell, just for the sake of argument, Trump didn’t really ask officials to slow down testing; he was just joking.

Let’s go down that path. We have a president who is incapable of sincere empathy. Over one-hundred-thousand people have died in less than six months. How many families and friends have suffered as a result of each of those human beings being lost to them? This president is joking about this devastating, life-changing public health emergency.

Trump has been trying to convince his base that the virus is no big deal, and we’re moving on. He’s talked negatively about testing from the start. At first, he needed to convince himself and his sycophants that testing was “overrated” because they stumbled out of the gate and fell behind many major countries in development of an accurate test. Trump loves to point out he closed travel from China early on, but that’s all he did! He didn’t spend the next month learning about the impact this was going to have and getting everybody ramped up for the inevitable spread within our borders. He dismissively said there were only 15 cases and soon there would be none.

Recently, he has repeatedly “explained” to us that if there is less testing, there will be less cases. Seriously? Which brings us back to his statement that he urged officials to slow down testing. I don’t think he was joking. He has said as much on camera recently, complaining about testing producing too many cases. That is the OPPOSITE of caring for our citizens. Indeed, it is sacrificing people’s lives in an attempt to, in his opinion, look strong and unafraid – and, as a result, boost his poll numbers. Wearing a mask to encourage your followers to do the same, that would be strong and unafraid.

The pep talk we’re getting is, “I know hospitalizations and deaths are up in many areas and hospitals around the country are becoming overwhelmed, but we took care of the virus. It’s just fake news.” And we haven’t even started on his apathy regarding racial injustices being recognized by millions of people around the whole world.

Sometimes I just have to shake my head at myself

In a recent post, I lamented that pictures seem to disappear from my posts. I spent hours making sure I only had free pics in my published posts. (I might have found and used unauthorized pics I found online.)

I gave it a couple days, and photos were still being replaced by a message about missing attributes. Quoting myself, I was “freaking pissed.” At that point I decided I’d just have to use my own pictures, and recognized this was going to seriously impact production quality and relevance to subject matter.

Today, I googled about what was happening. Pretty quickly, I found my answer! If you delete a picture from your media library, it is no longer going to show in your post. So, I need to be more selective when I’m choosing because every photo will remain in my library, taking up storage space.

So glad I found the solution and the problem was just user error! 😏

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