Saturday, July 30, 2011

Day 273--The Devil Wears Jean Shorts and a Cute Mudd T-Shirt

Pain level--2-4 today (4--end of day and right upper quadrant)
Anxiety--5 to 6

So adolescence is definitely upon us in this household.  I have been told previously that "Fourteen is the new sixteen" and that things get better after that.  Adolescence with attachment disorder is difficult for sure.  I am hoping and praying that somehow God knows how this will all work out, and the end picture involves acceptance for all of us--me for my son's disorders and for my son, acceptance of us as his family.  It is amazing to me that even from 1400 miles away, his biological family just never settles down and acts, well, normally.  No, instead now they've tried to introduce his birth father back into the equation through facebook.  How freaking clever!  Have bio dad send the kid a message promising his love and adoration!  As though it was just yesterday that he saw the kid, and now he wants a relationship because he's always loved him.

I honestly doubt this man could pick my son out of a lineup, even though they share the same gene pool.

Regardless, the adolescence I'm referring to tonight isn't my son.  It's my twelve-and a half-year old daughter, who up until recently held me in pretty high esteem.  According to her, I was funny, smart, and pretty.  I looked "so pretty" in makeup, had the best shoes, was fun to be around, and basically rocked the world.  Don't get me wrong; we've had lots of times where we've disagreed, or she's grumbled or cried about how unfair I am, or how I don't understand, or how I love her brother more.

And trust me, the love affair went both ways.  Just as she found me to be amazing, so I found her.  She's clever and smart, has a sarcastic quick wit but a compassionate soul.  She can be devious and mean one minute and lovingly affectionate the next.  She was my perfect little girl.  When I say that, I don't mean perfect in the sense of never making mistakes.  Instead, I mean she is perfect in all her imperfections.  She is a child of God and is exactly how He intended her to be.

But over the summer, she has been increasingly pulling away from me, setting up that teenage wall of angst.  Her mother doesn't understand her.  She'd rather watch on her ipod or talk to friends on Facebook.  Late night daughter-mother sleepovers no longer hold the same appeal, nor does running errands or doing a whole lot together.

I'll admit, it's hard to hold a candle to somebody your own age, going through the same experiences.  Friends who share the same doubts and fears are far more attractive to her than her mom.  After all, I don't "get" her culture or her experiences.  She's right.  I'm not a middle school kid in 2011.  But she's wrong too--I've been a middle schooler before.  I know what it's like to fall behind on your work, to feel like your work is dragging you around, to question if you're wearing the right thing or doing the wrong thing.  I know what it feels like to be crying one minute and thrilled to death the next.

Yesterday was a huffy day.  If you've had a middle schooler, you know what this is.  It's the day where every comment or request is met with an eye roll, a "hmph" or an "Oh my Gaaawwwwddd!"  My short reprieves were our lunch date, in which she chose the restaurant.  That was it.  Today was much the same; she didn't want to go with me to run errands.  She wanted to stay home on her ipod or the computer or television.

The obvious solution is to limit her screen time, period.  But it's not going to solve the problem.  The problem is that she's gotten older and smarter, and she is trying to assimilate into her peer group.  Unfortunately, the invitation wasn't for two.

I was eleven when I began to separate from my mother.  As I've posted before, my mom was never really one of those moms who talked to me a whole lot.  I knew she loved me, but I didn't know where I fell on the priority list.  My guesstimation was somewhere between "work" and "sunbathing".  In retrospect, I think my mom was just really self-involved.  I always prided myself on having open conversations with my children and had somehow managed to convince myself that my relationship with my daughter wasn't going to be difficult during the teen years.  Oh sure, there'd be some disagreements, but not the slow progression of shifting from "my world is mom" to "my world is my friends".

So tonight we went out to dinner to celebrate my birthday.  My daughter was sporting her little denim shorts and a "Happiness, Peace, Love" black tee made by Mudd.  Her long hair was still damp from the shower and you could see a natural curl appearing that has never been there before.  First, she asked if we could go to a different restaurant (because my birthday dinner is all about her, right?).  Then when we had to wait for a table, the huffy evening commenced.  She was hot.  She was thirsty.  There was nowhere to sit.  She was tired of standing.  She didn't want to wait.  Once we were finally seated, she settled down.  Thank goodness we had a pleasant dinner, because I really didn't want to follow through with my consequence of taking her home for unpleasant behavior.  I just wanted my dinner!

Afterward, we swung by an ice cream shop to pick up a treat.  As soon as we got home, she picked her treat and headed to her room and her ipod, calling, "I'm going to bed, see you later."  No hug, no kiss, no goodbye or happy birthday even.  I sat in a chair and realized the late night sleepovers were still happening.  I just wasn't included.  That sudden realization hurt.  I didn't go get her or bother her, but I cried.  I cried in my chair at the realization that I no longer have a little girl, I have the awkward makings of a young woman, and in order for her to grow I needed to give her some room.

So what does mothering an adolescent look like?  I have no idea, which sounds funny since I already have an older teenager.

This is what I think:  she needs the opportunity to have privacy but she also needs to be acknowledged for who she is and is becoming.  She needs me to be involved, but as a figure in the background.  She needs some freedom to practice making good decisions with her friends and firm expectations and boundaries from her parents and her community.

Mow I have to figure out how to go about making those things happen.  When she was younger, we had a routine of lighting a candle each night, talking for a few minutes, then making a wish and blowing it out.  I think this might be where to start.  Maybe a weekly date with each of my kids would be good too, and more involvement in their social lives as a chauffeur and a host.

Maybe I'll blog some more tomorrow about this.  I come to some great ideas when I write.

Thursday, July 28, 2011

Day 274-Familiarity

Pain level-2 to 3 (bone spur, right shoulder, back of head, and neck)
Anxiety:  8-9

So I added my anxiety level to this post because I think it's relevant.  I have noticed lately that I am feeling either dulled and depressed and tired or anxious.  Today was the first time in awhile that I made myself get up and get moving.  I have good reasons to be anxious:  my father had been ill and was hospitalized yesterday; the dryer blew out and the washer is moving at a snail's pace; I had a nasty side effect from my new antidepressant and had to give it up.  And all the things I need to do in reference to multiple jobs seemed looming.  Because of that, I decided I was going to take a giant leap for myself and just say no to extra work right now.  No overnight babysitting for August.  And, more worriedly, no courses taught in the fall semester.  I was only scheduled to teach two one-hour courses.  Hardly worth my time anyway, but I've been putting off going to get my text and all the other things I need to do for the course to prepare.  As I was getting sick in the bathroom this morning (yay, meds), I decided, enough.  So I wrote my supervisor a short email.  I had planned to call her, but then decided I'd rather send it via email.  As soon as I sent it, this huge relief washed over me.  I can concentrate on my job!  Hurray!  My ONE job for now, relying on me regulating myself and doing good work.  I'm excited.  I won't get rich but I'll get a paycheck, and I'm fully satisfied.

Of course, none of that relates to familiarity, but I thought I'd write it down to record it anyway.

A few nights ago I was tossing around in bed.  Nights seem to be the worst and best time combined.  If I stay busy, messing around on my laptop or watching tv or whatever, I'm content for the most part.  If I try to sleep, I'm often so anxious it's difficult to sleep without medication.  I was lying in bed the other night, tossing and turning, crying and thinking of things that were comforting for me.  I thought about sticking in a DVD of Criminal Intent and immediately felt calmer.  Why, I pondered, does that show make me feel soothed?  It's not like watching death and violence is a huge turn on for me.  It only took a few minutes to realize the incredibly obvious conclusion:  familiarity.  I know the dialogue, the scenes, the characters.  I can predict what's happening and find it to be interesting and clever storytelling.  It's the familiarity of all of it that makes it so comforting for me.

It's the same reason I have such a passionate regard for the lead characters.  Every look, every snarky remark, feels so relatable.  I feel among old friends.  As I've been writing this, I've realized exactly how little familiarity I've had in the last year.  New place to live, new job, new everything.  It may be the same old place I grew up but it's not how it was then.  Cities change, people change.  My parents have changed.  Everything, even the familiar, is different than it once was.

As Bobby said, "People look for an edge in an uncertain world."  That edge also has to do with what's comfortable and feels good.  Reading certain books over and over, watching certain programs or movies again and again, eating your favorite cooky on the couch in your pj's with milk and your favorite blanket.  Which reminds me of the very tall, solid EMT who came after my 911 call the other night.  We don't need to get into the details of the call, except it was on someone else's behalf.  However, this EMT was roughly the size I guesstimate Vincent D'Onofrio to be, which begs the image of snuggling on the couch with your milk, cooky, blanket, and a warm massive Robert Goren next to you.

Okay, I 'll admit that is NOT familiar...but I sure would love to make it familiar!  Robert O's welcome over anytime.  And no, Bobby, you don't even have to call first.

Friday, July 22, 2011

Day 280

Pain level-9

Last night I had a hard time going to bed.  Truth be told, I really enjoy staying up late, watching bad TV or surfing on my laptop.  I'm definitely one of those people who is very wordy.  I enjoy writing, I enjoy reading, and I particularly enjoy writing things for other people to read.

I don't know what time it was initially when I was woken up but I'm guessing before nine.  To say I felt like I had been hit by a MAC truck would be a bit of an understatement.  Every muscle in my body hurt, my stomach hurt, my head hurt, and my bone spur hurt.  Yes.  My bone spur.

I was exhausted and gave in to it.  I let myself sleep, and once I finally woke up, I lay in bed for a long time, feeling exhausted and depressed and like a waste of space.  I was supposed to go grocery shopping but there was no way.

Days like today are not only physically painful, but they're psychologically hard.  The older I get, the more painfully aware I am that my time on this earth is limited.  I don't want to waste it and I get angry when I do.  As I lay in bed today, I was thinking about what i would be doing if I didn't have fibromyalgia.  I don't know if I would be doing something massively awesome, but I would be doing something.  Something a bit more exciting than watching that hideous "America's Next Top Model".

I'm going to veer off course here for a minute because, well, because I can.  It's my blog.  I am guilty of watching America's Next Top Model.  I know to most people that would be no big deal.  But it's a big deal to me, because I think it distorts girls' ideas of beauty and stresses the power of good looks.  Or unique looks.  My daughter has watched it with me before and asked to be a model.  Being a preschool teacher, I've had parents who have worked hard to get their children into modeling.  I've never modeled before, not once, so I may not know anything of what I'm talking about.  Tyra Banks goes on and on about how hard it is to be a model.  One of my favorite actors, Vincent D'Onofrio, has gone on and on about how hard it is to be an actor.  I have one word for you:  bullshit.  When I think of difficult jobs, "model" and "actor" don't exactly make the list.  Would I want a five o'clock call? Nope.  Would I want to be posing in freezing water nearly naked for a pretty picture?  No, wouldn't want that either.  But I don't think either of those things makes for a difficult job.  It's a difficult PART of a job, but every job has difficult parts.  So wahhh.  Again, I've gone off point, and in the same paragraph this time!  Anyway, that show is freakishly interesting to me.  I do feel sorry for those girls.  They're young and naive, and usually have no idea what they're getting themselves into.  They try their best but their best isn't good enough.  All but one will be sent out the door, given a hug and some sort of cheesy advice from Tyra, and then the winner will be crowned.  The most interesting part of that show is that you never hear from these people again.  I have no idea if they really work in the modeling world.  Are they walking the runways in Paris?  Shaking the booty in Milan?  Who knows?  And honestly, I don't care.

The one thing about that show that I do think  is interesting is the way they make up the models and the way they shoot them.  I think I have a secret fantasy to be made up like a mermaid and hung upside down in a net, or maybe bejeweled like a geisha girl in my kimono.  I think that probably appeals to a lot of girls...being made up to look like someone completely different.

Almost every woman in America has, at some time, had a Glamour Shots photo shoot for "that someone special".  I've never done it.  Now they look really pretentious and self-indulgent to me.  The only photo shoot I've ever had by myself were my wedding gown photos.  And I wasn't overly thrilled with those either.

I'm hoping to have my children and dog photographed together this year at a local park.  I've picked my photographer; it's just a matter of hooking up and doing them.  I don't need anything fancy, despite how fun it may seem.  I just want to capture them how they are.  How I am.  For now, Tyra can keep her advice.  We'll take your typical boring old photos.

Once my bone spur is gone.

Tuesday, July 19, 2011

Day 284--Boobies Are My Friend?

Pain level-4

There are several things that I never imagined I would blog about:  Paris Hilton's dressed up dog, Johnny Depp's ever-changing-a-bit-weirder appearance, sexual dysfunction, cream puffs.  So if you're shocked by the fact I'm going to write about boobs, me too, sister. (Or brother, as the case may be.)

I just read an article about a woman who "made peace" with her boobs and no longer wears a bra.  She is a size A cup and apparently nobody can tell the difference between her wearing a bra and not wearing a bra. Hurrah for A cup braless women!  Several years ago I taught a preschooler whose mother, we speculated, had gotten a bit of a "lift".  She always went braless and perky, and I mean seriously perky.  Nobody has natural breasts like that.  You know, the kind that worship the sun all the time.  She was clearly proud of them.  And hell, if I had invested thousands into my boobs, I'd be proud of them too.

But I haven't.  I have what i was born with, a little more than my mom and close to my paternal grandmother's size, who I pictured as having a very perfect curvy figure.  Granted, she was really old when I was born.  Super old.  But I still thought she had the perfect woman's figure--curvy breasts and hips, normal belly and legs.  Total opposite of my mom's side, which you could line up with apples and really not be able to pick them out of the bunch.

So I got a larger cup size topped on an apple body.  Fun.  When I read Miss A-cup's article, one of the things she said is that big breasts have power.  I nearly laughed out loud at this, because I think that women with smaller breasts often believe this, and there are definitely men out there who feel this way as well.  On occasion, out of boredom, I've anonymously trolled chat rooms on the internet and found that one of the first things a Mr. Anonymous asks is how big your boobs are.  What the hell, I'm up for it.  Almost always, after disclosing my size (I'm a C) I move up several notches on the "fantasy girl" chart.  It's kind of gross.  I don't ask men the size of their penis or anything else.  I don't really care, mainly because it's been my experience that size is a really immature way to measure satisfaction in the bedroom.

Here's what Miss A-cup and these men miss.  I'm no more happy with my boobs than Miss A-cup.  I'm 42 years old and believe it or not, the things change over time just like the rest of me.  I've never been a fan of plastic surgery, but if I were to go under the knife, it would be to get a "perkier" look.  I wish I could go without a bra.  I wish when I took my bra off I didn't feel like I was seventy.  What I would give to be a size A or B.

Have I had men look at me differently because of my breasts?  You bet.  I remember once, when I was seventeen and coming out of a convenience store, Bubba and his friend told me I was stacked.  (You'll just have to trust me that his name was Bubba.  The tobacco he chewed was proof positive.)  The men I've dated seem happy with what I've got.  I imagine that's the case with most women.  I'm aware that there are some men out there who really push their girlfriends or wives to have augmentation.  But more than anything else, I think we are guilty ourselves, as women, in finding fault with our bodies.

When you get past the sexual stuff and you get down to it, breasts are a source of food for infants.  You don't see a swahili mother standing in front of a mirror shifting her boobs around to make them look sexier.  No.  You find her with her child swaddled close and nursing.  Because really, that's what they're for.  The rest is just icing on the cake, as they say.

I have no intention of burning my bras--I care too much about horrifying the rest of the world.  But I do agree with Miss A-cup on this:  women need to make peace with their bodies.  Whether you're apple or pear, whether your boobs are porno big or itty bitty, our bodies are a part of who we are.  And we all need to accept the fact that whether they point up or down, fill a hand or or pitcher, our breasts are fine the way they are.

Monday, July 18, 2011

Day 285- My Life Gives Me a Fucking Migraine

Pain level:  5

Welcome to the pain level recording.  It is a suggestion from someone that I record my pain level each day so that I can see the changes based on meds, exercise, etc.  The hard thing about recording a number is that I can fluctuate between several numbers in a day.  Today, for instance, I was tired but not so sore initially; now I'm battling a migraine and my back hurts.

I went to meet my new psychiatrist today.  I'm going to know everyone in this area of the country by the time I finish with all these doctors.  Interestingly enough, I asked for Dr. Charles D., and was somehow switched to his wife, who also practices psychiatry in the same building.  I answered her questions to the best of my ability, which wasn't very pleasant.  I cried, as expected, She suggested Wellbutrin because it tends to give people more energy.  I suggested Cymbalta because hey, it's what every other fibro doc has said I should be on.  So I walked out with two weeks' samples of cymbalta.

Once again, a doctor has given me the old, "You can't take care of others if you don't take care of yourself" bit.  Woo hoo.  She said, firmly, "You do understand that, right?"  to which I laughed and replied, "I think that's far easier said than done."

Yes, I'll remember that when one of my children is in trouble, when my father falls over because his balance is shot, when my mother asks me to pick up a ton of shit for her and when my husband is having surgery on his foot.  I'll keep it in mind when I am busting my ass at a part time job with no insurance and the hubs isn't working.  At anything.  And especially when somebody is sick or hurt and I'm the only logical adult in the house.

All of the whining and crying is annoying, not just to her, but to me as well.  You think I don't have to choke back what little pride I have left to answer these stupid questions?  Life would be so much easier if I could just write a basic autobiography ONE time and read it to each doctor.  Better yet, fax it over, and then I'll never have to worry about it again.

By the way, if you didn't already know that most people who have anxiety, depression, and pain as adults were abused as children, it's true.  And it doesn't grow more fun to talk about as you get older.

The crying has given me the start of a migraine.  More than that, it's made me irritable.  There is nothing joyful in visiting a psychiatrist, especially one you have to lead around with a ring through the nose because they're not familiar enough with your diagnosis to help.  Of course, a month from now I may be eating my words as I swallow Wellbutrin happily and run a 5K with all my extra energy.


Saturday, July 16, 2011

Day287- Countdown from vacation

We've been on vacation this week, the same place we always go every year.  The Outer Banks of North Carolina cause a mass exodus of our family, with dreams of swimming, shopping, lounging around and enjoying the beach.  We've been performing this exercise for approximately thirty years.  When I was a child, it was just me, my brother, and my parents.  Now it's also my kids and husband, and we board our pets nearby so we can visit them.

This year haas been different.  The week started out okay, but has slowly disintegrated into something else.  An inability to go out, to get restful sleep, to even have the energy to don a swimsuit.  Instead I've focused on staying in my bed, taking my medicine, and avoiding everyone else.

I cannot separate the depression from the fibro anymore.  They are so closely intertwined for me.  I have struggled with depression for years.  In fact, I can't remember a time in my life where Depression wasn't an issue in my life.  I don't recall, but my mother says she found a suicide note from me when I was eleven.  I do remember feeling hopeless and fat, which to me signified every shortcoming I had.  Even at eleven, I had figured out that skinny girls had a leg up on me.

I cry a lot.  Mainly out of intense sadness and loss, but also out of guilt, that my children are paying for my illness.  The days of mom taking the kids to swim, or go to the movies, or going to festivals or amusement parks--all things I actually like to do--seem to be over.  I asked my mom, as I sat next to her crying last night, if it was getting better.  She said she thinks so.  I just don't know.

Today is the last day of our vacation.  I can still go to the pool and swim.  In fact, that may be what I do tonight, later.  I don't want to look at my entire vacation and say the highlight

Reality is that I did go out with my mother one day, and I went out with my daughter one day.  My son and I have had lots of good talks.  My husband has taken the kids out--both separately and together--to see sights and to eat and all sorts of vacation stuff.  My son was just telling me how fantastic the lighthouses were that his dad took him to see.  As hard as I am on my husband sometimes, he really can be a good guy.  I would feel so much worse--more guilty--if I were not able to do those things and he wouldn't.  He tries.  And I'm happy to report, too, that my son seems to be making more progress in the last several weeks.  My biggest regret is that I didn't go by the organic dog biscuit place and pick up some treats for my dog.  Not only that, but I didn't go see her this morning.  I was so exhausted I laid back down and next thing I know I'm waking up at two.  So depending on the hours that store is open, maybe we'll run down there tomorrow morning.  My dog would love that.

When I get back home, I need to begin calling for the kids' camps, for PT for me, and two other doc appointments I need to schedule.

I did have a good job interview a couple of days ago by phone.  I will be talking with them again in a few days after completing a writing prompt.  I feel confident in my answer to the question and confident in the fact that I will get the position.  The great thing about the position is it allows for a good deal of mentoring adults.  The bad thing is it doesn't allow me to work with children.  In fact, I am never to be in contact with any of the children in the classes where I'm mentoring teachers.

I do realize that I could probably get a babysitting job that pays decently and would be a bit less stressful, but I need to stretch my brain.  I already feel like fibro is stealing so much from me.  Some days I just don't have the fight in me.  Like today.  I'd rather sit and watch TV than take a shower, don some clothes, and go to the damn organic treat store.  Or to put on my swimsuit and go down to the pool and swim.  I still haven't had the xray or ultrasound done that my doctors have requested.  I guess I'm not a great patient.  But I'm trying.  I went to my new endocrinologist the other day and that went fantastically.  He works for one of the top diabetes centers in the nation (right near where I live, ironically) and knows that my numbers aren't super, but aren't terrible either.  We need to fine tune.  I agree.  But it's the first time I've ever gone to a doctor to treat my diabetes that hasn't scolded me or made me feel like shit.  It's the first time I haven't been told that because I'm obese I'm going to die, lose limbs, go blind, or whatever.  Of course I'm going to die.  And so are you, and my family, and the janitor at the Y, and everyone else.  Living and dying.  It's what we do.

I really just needed to write today, to forgive myself for not running hither and yon during my vacation.  That maybe my ideal vacation includes a few days of down time...especially when my neck and shoulder are painful and my allergies are nutty and I'm just tired!  The days are coming quickly that I won't have that option--to go back to bed or skip whatever's going on.  I intend to be employed in a good job.  I intend to think, to write, to throw myself back into work and to be successful.  I AM better than three, six, or nine months ago.  My life isn't over until I say I give up, and I don't.  I've made progress this week in some ways.  I'm going to keep moving in that direction.  I'm smart and able, and my relationships with my kids are good.  We are doing better than we have in months.  I'm excited to begin to work again.  I don't think I'm naive--I know there are days I'm going to hurt and I'll have to suck it up for awhile.  My life is going to change and I'm resistant to that, but if it means that I have a higher quality life with my kids, I'll do it.  I want to be well enough to go to Disneyworld again in the spring.  And not with one of those crazy rental carts that old people use (sorry Mom and Dad).  I want to be able to do all the things I've done before and enjoy it with my kids.  I just turned 42 and truly believed I was old, until I saw my endocrinologist who told me in no uncertain terms I was NOT old.  I was young and had a long life ahead of me.  I can't tell you how much I needed to hear that.  I really, really needed to hear that.

I don't know where I'll end up after this year.  Another grant?  A Ph.D?  An Ed.D?  Or maybe an alternative certification for special education?  Who knows?  Isn't that what makes life interesting--the lack of knowing?  What I DO know, what I believe, is that God is putting me where I need to be.  The reasons may not be clear at the time, but that's not my lookout.  That's what faith is about--allowing Him the freedom to lead so I can follow.  He's done a fantastic job so far--leading me into a career that I've loved, leading me to another state to affect the lives of preschoolers and their families, as well as improving the preschool lab I worked at.  And most obviously, leading me to the position of motherhood.  Sometimes I feel like I traded giving birth to my own child for mothering the two I have now.  Maybe I did, but maybe I didn't.  I'll never really know.  But I do know that my kids are smart, funny, fantastic kids who needed a mom to love them.  And I love them with my whole soul.

Well, this has been a rambling post (along with a few tears).  I am greatly looking forward to my meeting with the psychiatrist on Monday, because my antidepressant and my anti-anxiety meds are not working.  So I guess maybe expecting me to be all Yee Haw! about this vacation is kind of unrealistic.  What I did was make sure the kids got to do what they would find fun.  They swam and they saw lighthouses.  They went to the beach and ate ice cream and went to restaurants.  Me?  I relaxed.  I wrote on facebook and thought about my interview and insurance and all sorts of things like that.  I talked a lot with my son, snuggled my absolutely wonderful daughter, and talked with my mom.  I joked with my Dad and my husband.  Maybe the gift of going to the same place for thirty years is the fact that you already know what's out there and can choose to relax and know you're not missing much, because you only live 90 minutes away and can always make a day trip.

So good for me, maybe?  I think so.   I can always go get a coffee later, pick up some dog biscuits, and swim.

We'll see.

Tuesday, July 5, 2011

Day300--Learning a bigger lesson

Yesterday was the fourth of July and I wrote a post about the benefits of Vitamin D.  Don't get me wrong, I still believe vitamin D is incredibly helpful for a lot of conditions.  But just as I was starting to feel like my old self--a self that could get up and go after the world--I wake up with pain in my entire right side, including my neck.  Exhaustion plagued me, an upset stomach was on the horizon, and I decided to go back to bed.

This is the day each week I typically pick up my father from my mom's office.  He likes to go eat and sometimes run errands, and when he called, I explained to him I felt badly.  When I showed up to get him he wasn't ready so I waited, and by the time he got down to the car it was clear he had a deposit for the bank.

I'm usually a really patient person with the majority of people in my life.  Students, children, my dad...people who I have a tendency not to take for granted get the best of me.  I think most people are like that.  My father has a lot of health problems, including an illness that is slowly killing him.  He often gets confused.  His balance is very poor and I worry about him walking for any length of time, never mind climbing up or down stairs.  So because of my worry, a lot of times I hold back with my dad and try to say things gently, or not say anything at all.

But today he got it, and he got it good.  One of the things that tends to happen to me when I'm hurting is I get snarly.  When I saw that deposit I flipped out.  "Did you tell Mom that I felt bad?" I demanded, as he sighed.  When he answered yes, I went straight into my, "Great.  Nobody cares how I feel!"  He got irritated, like most people would.  I mean, it was a deposit for a bank three blocks away.  The whole thing didn't even require me to get out of the car--it took all of five minutes.  I offered to take him to pick up lunch but he wisely said no.  I would have said no to me also.

Lest I come across as a total bitch, I did apologize to him.  But this was after I had told him through tears that I wish he and my mom could spend one day in my body.  They really don't know how it feels.  My mom's saying is, "Well, if you get up and get dressed and go somewhere, you may feel better."  And true, some days that's true.  But other days when my arm feels twisted out of the socket, my neck is so painful I can't turn my head, my hip is painful, I've got gastrointestinal problems, and I'm exhausted, it's time to take meds and relax in bed.  There is no amount of "happy talk" that is going to make this better.

The most frustrating thing about all this is that I can't predict it, really.  Yesterday I did have some nausea toward the end of the afternoon, and I had woken up with my arm sore.  So maybe there is a pattern.  I don't know how long it's going to last, but I've got to try to make it work.  I've promised my daughter we would go to tea this week, so I need to call and make reservations.  I also promised we would do some fun stuff,  One of the things I've found is that if I have a day like this, where my pain is really high, then I usually feel better by the end of the day, so taking her for ice cream or to see an evening movie is a better idea these days than trying to do something in the morning or even early afternoon.

I know myself well enough to know I will go apologize to my dad again.  He was only trying to follow directions and I overreacted, as I tend to do when I'm in pain.  So hopefully the meds will do their job, I'll do mine, and this whole thing will work--hopefully.

Sunday, July 3, 2011

Day 301--Kids, drink your milk and go play in the sunshine.

One of the symptoms of many people diagnosed with fibromyalgia is a low level of Vitamin D.  This entire story is going to sound a bit fairy-talish, but I swear it's true.

When I went to my rheumatologist in February, we started off on the wrong foot.  She was under the impression that because my last doctor had treated me with painkillers I was expecting the same from her.  Personally, I was in so much pain at that point I didn't care what the hell she gave me.  Once she realized I really wanted a diagnosis it took her about five minutes or less to determine I did, indeed, have fibromyalgia.  She ordered bloodwork, including a test of my vitamin D level.  She explained that people with low vitamin D often suffer from exhaustion and pain.  As a type 2 diabetic, I'm so used to people drawing my blood I just hold out an arm and look away.

Sure enough, my vitamin D level was about six, I believe.  Healthy levels are around thirty or higher.  So yeah, you could say I was running a bit low.  Let me tell you, one thing I've figured out with this fibro thing is that I can be a real bitch when I'm feeling bad.  It's kind of fortunate that my mother insists on accompanying me, because I probably would have been tossed out of more than one office by now if I didn't just walk out on my own.  So anyway, the doctor prescribes me this massive dose of vitamin D to take twice a week, along with calcium--1200 to 1500 mg--each day.

At first I hemmed and hawed.  I balked at the emerald green pills.  They were pretty, yes, but what the hell?  Now I have a vitamin deficiency TOO?  What other ways were these doctors going to tell me I suck?  I felt like my body was betraying me yet again.  It already made too much insulin that my cells wouldn't use correctly; it was attacking itself and causing my nerves to go whacko; and now this.  It couldn't even absorb a simple damn vitamin.  Well, fuck that.  I don't have to take the damn D.  Just you watch.

So I took it, but only when I felt like it, and only when I remembered it.  Sometimes I took the calcium with it but more often I skipped it.  Have you SEEN those calcium pills?  They're like the size of an enema and I was supposed to swallow TWO of them each DAY.  Shit.

My next visit to the rheumatologist went even less fantastically than the first.  She noted all the ways I wasn't cooperating with her plan.  I crossed my arms and stared at the wall.  She reviewed my low vitamin D level.  I chewed my lip and listened to my mom ask questions and write information down.  I wanted to send her a silent signal--don't write this bitch's information down!  I don't want it or need it.  She doesn't care about me anyway.  She doesn't understand how I feel.

Probably not.  But the reality is that she doesn't have to understand how I feel to give me timely and accurate medical advice.  And in the two months since I've seen her, a lot has happened.  My bad days are getting less bad.  My tolerance for certain things is growing.  My willingness to cooperate has grown.  And I'm taking vitamin D every Wednesday and Sunday, along with Calcium and Vitamin D-3 every day.  And you know what?  I do feel better.

This past week I saw an endocrinologist who wanted to test my vitamin D levels.  I'm actually looking forward to finding out if they've improved.  In addition, he's testing my cortisol level.  Cortisol is the stress hormone released by the brain whenever a person is in a stressful situation.  For people who suffer from chronic pain or stress, cortisol is consistently dumped through the body.  The damages of cortisol have been studied primarily in young children; cortisol can lessen brain growth and literally alter development.  I wonder if cortisol is part of the reason I forget so many things these days?

At any rate, make sure you're getting your D.  I'm not a huge milk drinker nor do I enjoy hot days outside.  I do enjoy yogurt and a few types of cheese as well as coffee drinks and ice cream (I mean, come on!  Who doesn't enjoy ice cream??).  But soak it up and eat it up; not only is it good for your bones, it's good for your mental and emotional health too.