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Blogging for Sanity

It has been a couple of years since I set aside my blogging to pursue other things to keep my hands and brain busy.  It hasn’t worked out so well.

I am a creative soul and while Frosty and I were on our grand adventure traveling across the country to Georgia and back, I took up creating jewelry made from beads, wire and special beading wires and threads. I loved it. I created some beautiful pieces that made some of my family and friends happy but unfortunately the expense outweighed any profits. I sold only a few pieces to a nurse at my doctor’s office and to some relations by marriage.

I really do enjoy making the jewelry and wear it often when I leave my house and am running errands. I get compliments and have had people ask for my number so they can buy jewelry from me. Unfortunately they never call and order anything and the money I put out for tools and materials far outweighed the amount I collected. It is therapeutic to create and it does help calm me to go through the process but it doesn’t help my bank balance in the least.

My health has not improved, I am still on disability with Fibromyalgia, degenerative disk disease, osteoporosis, a bad knee that I haven’t even bothered to get a doctor to look at yet, depression and since I last blogged now a brand new diagnosis of Breast Cancer (again). It has been 17 years since I had my first diagnosis of Breast Cancer and many things have changed since then. I now live alone, my kids are all now grown and live scattered around the United States, the closest one being about 2 hours from my house.

My financial situation is worse in that my bills have increased but my disability payments have not and my ex-husband refuses to comply with the court ordered support payments that he personally signed in front of a judge in open court. The last contact I had with him he said he might possibly have some money in APRIL of next year. Our divorce is not yet final since that requires more paperwork, more ink for my printer and more courage and fortitude than I currently seem to have. I am working on that.

Depression is something that I fight with and when I sat down and thought back over the past few years I realized that I was happier when I was blogging. It helped me vent, it helped me think and plan and overall kept some of the depression at bay.

Now I am facing multiple surgeries, a double mastectomy and reconstruction. I have a long road ahead of recovery and pain. My financial situation is dire and food is becoming hard to come by. Each month I get my disability on the 3rd and pay my utilities, gas, electricity, water, internet, 2 credit cards, insurance for my car and house and of course my mortgage payment. All of that on $1029 per month. By the time my bills are paid I am hard pressed to buy food. My pride gets in the way a bit and my location makes even finding a food bank a difficult thing. I am in Kern county and the main food bank is in Bakersfield 70 miles away.

Last year I made some Hamburger Helper and stretched out the portions to cover me through Thanksgiving. My ex taunted me and sent me a text saying they were going out for Mexican food the day after Thanksgiving when I sent him a message begging for my support money. My youngest son did one of those GoFundMe things and raised about $400 to get me groceries for December and I was so very grateful. I bought a turkey and froze the cooked meat to get me through December and into January.

This year isn’t looking very bright. I find myself hoping that they schedule my mastectomy right before Thanksgiving so I get a good meal. Pathetic I know but that is the truth. After breaking down a few times alone in my house with just a cat and a dog for company I decided to work on my mental health by starting to blog again.

So here it is, me blogging to keep my sanity and maybe share with others that find themselves in similar situations.

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Weather Front On The Way

My phone scared the crap out of me today. I don’t know if it is an iPhone thing or a AT&T thing, but that little sucker has a LOUD buzzer on it for weather alerts.

The powers that be apparently thought that the weather warranted an emergency alert. I wonder how much money goes into these things? How much does it cost to set up the systems that detect the weather conditions? Today’s Weather alert was for dust storms but with that dust I saw a whole lot of roiling black clouds high above the wind blown dust.

I could save them a ton of money.

My body told me yesterday that things were changing. Hours before the first alert came through the pain in my body had reached epic proportions.

I remember as a child hearing my grandma say that it was going to rain because her bursitis was acting up. I had no idea what that meant exactly just that it was some sort of ache that grandma had. Over the years I heard doctors say that people couldn’t predict the weather that way, but now I know they are wrong.

Maybe it is the change in the barometric pressure, but I feel the aches, the chest pains of the costochondritis, the deep chest pain that cannot be alleviated even with my pain meds and the fibromyalgia from head to toe. I am struggling to even type and I’m pretty sure it shows that my brain isn’t 100%.  My fingers shoulders and arms ache and are clumsy on my keyboard where my fingers are usually speeding along.

The fibro fog, the pain, the exhaustion are all kicking in.  I managed to repot a bunch of houseplants to consolidate them for someone to keep an eye on while I am off on my adventure, but I am sure glad I’m not leaving today. Yesterday or the day before I would have been ready, but today, no today I could not handle it. As I can no longer handle the pain of typing right now.

So off I go taking my weather predicting body to bed where I can rest and sleep and fight again tomorrow.

Foggy, Foggy Day

Fog followed my every step today. Living in the desert there is rarely a day that involves the heavy grey mist that blocks your vision and forces you to slow your every move lest you run into something else. Today was no different as far as the desert surroundings go. The skies outside are clear and blue. The fog is inside my house, in my head.

It is called Fibro Fog and it is the bane of fibromyalgia sufferers everywhere. Everyone has those moments where you walk into a room and can’t remember what you walked in there for, but this is like that amplified. Every step I took felt like I was walking in molasses. Walking to the refrigerator found me standing there staring blankly in… What? Why was I there? This happened all day long. I overdid everything yesterday. I managed to get my creative project done and did a little bit of preparation for another project that I planned on starting today, but when today started it was all I could do to get the blog posted about my project from yesterday and I had already composed most of it last night.

My intentions for today was to start the mosaic pot to go inside the little painted chair pot holder from yesterday. I had already used my tile clippers and had separated them into little containers all ready to glue and grout for my little pottery piece. My brain couldn’t follow through. I could barely manage to make breakfast for myself. Wandering around my house to gather my supplies was torture. Room after room puzzling over why I was there, where were my supplies? What the HELL was I doing?

At first when I started having these foggy days I thought it was from the chemo I underwent for breast cancer. There is something I have heard referred to as chemo brain that happens to people that undergo chemo. The information obtained from the women’s center talked about so many possible side effects said that these all went away with time. Well hell, this never went away.

For years now I have struggled and sometimes feared that I had early onset Alzheimer’s or a brain tumor or something equally scary, really it is sometimes that bad. As a child wiz kid my memory was always something I took for granted. Phone numbers, addresses, trivial facts all stuck in my brain for YEARS. Suddenly I was struggling with everything. You know that phrase everyone likes to joke with “Of all the things I have lost I miss my mind the most” well that is me.

I know I am not alone. I belong to several fibromyalgia support groups online and am always looking into studies being done to find a cure. For the record, it is very hard to find a cure for something that they have not even discovered the cause of.  Many people go through this and we all find ourselves wondering if we are doomed to go through this forever.

Daily pain is hard, any chronic condition is difficult for the person going through it. Careful use of pain medications can ease some of the pain but it never goes completely away for me. The chest pains from the costrochondritis is the worst pain ever, it feels like a heart attack and is mostly on the left side of my chest and my shoulder. Toss in the fibromyalgia all over your body pain and the pain meds are a vital part of keeping me relatively sane. The pain medications can make it hard to think sometimes and I am always conscious of the dangers of actually becoming addicted to them and there is controversy over the effectiveness in their use with fibromyalgia. Some studies even say that it may make fibro worse. Personally I find myself unable to think or function when my pain levels are high so I use the meds carefully and walk the tightrope between dependency and addiction.

The fog set in before I had even taken my meds so there was little doubt that I was going to have a foggy, foggy, fibro day from hell. Yesterday between coats of paint on my little painting project I sat and broke down ceramic tiles to smaller pieces to create a mosaic masterpiece from an old terra cotta pot. Normally I don’t eat first thing in the morning, some meds I am supposed to take on a daily basis before eating, others say take with food. Since my brain was not working well I decided it needed some fuel. It didn’t help.

I continued to struggle for a few hours but just could not get myself functional. Every task I started is still sitting waiting to be completed. The only thing I had any success with was taking a nap. My nap lasted 5 hours and I woke up exhausted all over again. The majority of people that have fibro also suffer from sleep disorders. I have a C-pap machine that I have to sleep with and just writing this is agony. My body is aching and I feel as if I have run a marathon….to make matters worse I keep falling asleep while writing this. Yeah, so much for that 5 hour nap. So this is me being human and accepting that for now at least this is my lot in life. The fog will eventually lift for a bit and I will get back on track.

Now it is time for me to give in and take another unwanted break in my quest for creativeness and sleep yet again. Even as I write this I am falling asleep sitting straight up. There is no quick fix for fibro fog you plod through and hope the following day will bring some clarity. Life is a Journey and someone else is holding the map.

Dodging Bullets

Way back in 1994, I was told by a very nice doctor at a local Community Hospital, that I had three herniated disks in my back and would need surgery to correct the problem. Being a single mother and not a big fan of doctors and hospitals in general, I thanked him and walked out the door. I have been dodging the bullet ever since.

The problem with dodging bullets when it comes to your health is that one missed step puts you right back in the path of the bullet. You would think that anybody that managed to dodge bullets for nearly 20 years would be a wiz on the dance floor but hey, that would be silly given the condition of my back.

Back then I had been expecting the diagnosis since this wasn’t my first experience with a herniated disk. The first time around I had worked hard to get medical insurance and had a wonderful doctor named Disney who did magical work. 😀 That time around it was nearly a year of agony wiped out nearly instantly, but it had only worked for about 3 years. One disk is not nearly as complicated as 3 so I soldiered on and continued to dodge the bullet.

This is something that women tend to do in their lives. They put their health on the back burner of life and rush around caring for their husbands, children, jobs, houses, pets…..well just everything but themselves.

Over the years I have had quite a few therapists that have helped me deal with all the issues life keeps throwing at me. One of them recommended a book called “When I say No, I feel Guilty”. I read the book, briefly tried to say no, then continued running around trying to make everybody else’s life easier and more comfortable while continuing to dodge those health bullets of my own.

I have had a lot of health bullets to dodge. A LOT. In my opinion my share of health issues seems to be abnormally large. Breast Cancer, Fibromyalgia, Costochondritis, Arthritis, Herniated disks, etcetera, etcetera. When you are dancing around trying to dodge that many bullets, you are bound to make a misstep and take one, especially if you have a bad knee to go with the bad back…..makes taking steps in general a little tricky.

All this dancing about dodging these bullets is tiring. Finally, I missed a step. Although over the years I have had more than one rough patch dealing with my back I always managed to push it back and frankly some of the time it was just plain orneriness that kept me from succumbing to the pain. I’ve learned to not stand too long in one position (like at the sink doing dishes) or to use the vacuum for any extended periods. Quite frankly there are a lot of things that must be avoided to dodge back bullets  and after 20 years I am an expert dodger……..kinda.

It happened innocently enough, a friend came down from Utah to visit me on his vacation and we spent a day playing tourist at Olvera Street in Los Angeles. He is a young guy and like many young guys he overcompensates with his vehicle. He has what I call a Monster Truck, one of those 4 wheel drive trucks that is jacked up to the sky and is impossibly difficult to get into and out of for us less than limber oldsters. We drove and bounced from my place in the desert to Los Angeles and I felt the first twinges of a less than happy back. We parked the Monster in the parking lot at Union Station and I stared down at the ground so very far away and jumped.  Holy crap, I stuck the landing and jolted both my back and my knee. Then we proceeded to walk from there to Olvera Street and Chinatown for lunch………and then we walked back.

By the time we reached Monster at the end of the day, I was on my 3rd dose of the heavy narcotics that my doctor prescribes for my various ailments. Refusal to take my meds for pain is a common thing with me. I fear becoming “addicted” rather than depending on them for relief from the otherwise crippling pain. So for me to take 3 of them before the day is done is quite unusual.

Suffering from fibromyalgia as well has taught me that there are good days and bad days and that I, as well as many others with fibro, have a tendency to over do things when I have the rare good day. This had started not as a good day, but not terrible either. But the walking, oh all that walking………not the smartest thing I have done. I don’t want to be sick and I don’t want to have a 50 something body that feels like it is 80, but I do.

When I overdo my day (like going grocery shopping) I know that I will most likely have to spend the following day in my recliner or in bed. It is what it is. Since my friend was leaving the following day to head back up to Northern Utah, I powered my way through his visit and laughed and had fun all the while saying to myself “Oh Shit!” really, it was like a mantra in my head……….Oh shit, shit, shit………walk, walk………..shit, shit, shit.

Four days after he left I was still in bed. Every step was agony, sitting in my recliner resulted in numbness down both legs and sitting on the toilet practically made me cry. That bullet finally caught up with me.

It has now been a few months since the bullet hit. I have been x-rayed and scanned, both an MRI and a bone scan. I have a very nice surgeon who is proposing that I undergo a laminectomy on my back but not before I undergo a new therapy for strengthening my bones. You see the bone scan revealed that while I was dodging the other health bullets, my bones were busy disintegrating. Not all of them, just my left hip and lower spine (eye roll).

As a last hurrah before I begin treatment on my disintegrating bones in January, I am going to travel across the country, dodging more bullets and making more memories. Because I am a woman and that’s what we do, we soldier on and dodge the bullets life shoots at us.