It’s cold. And changing my antidepressant from Cymbalta (which was helping my fibromyalgia but had quit helping my depression) to Fetzima (vice versa) isn’t helping my grumpy mood any. I have developed strange food cravings (carbs, sugar, and more carbs) and I am frighteningly grateful for cable TV and Law & Order reruns.
The end of summer is always bittersweet, but this year more than usual. I had all kinds of things I was hoping to do this summer, from lunch with friends to trips to the Minnesota Landscape Arboretum to take photos, and did nothing, almost, thanks to my ever-present chronic migraines. I even missed the annual Resch Family Reunion–something I look forward to all year–for the second year in a row.
The highlights? I saw my beautiful and sweet niece Kathryn get married in May. (Late May counts as summer, right?) I made it to a family party at my Aunt Sheila’s and got to see my cousin Elissa who was home visiting from Florida in July. My darling niece Laura and her husband John took us out to dinner. And in August George’s sister and her husband invited us to stay with them for a long weekend in Cornucopia, a village not far from Bayfield, Wisconsin, on the South Shore of Lake Superior. It was heavenly. Lake Superior is my favorite place in the entire world. The weather was lovely. And the company was, of course, superb!
All of these activities, it should be noted, took place with pharmaceutical help. Sigh. But I did get some pretty pictures. And hope is on the horizon…It turns out my insurance covers migraine Botox after all, so hopefully this fall will not be so excruciating!
The summer began with peonies…
Flowers always make people better, happier, and more helpful; they are sunshine, food, and medicine for the soul.
And continued with more flowers, at home and in Cornucopia…
The family party…
Summer is the annual permission to slip to be lazy. To do nothing and have it count for something. To lie in the grass and count the stars. To sit on a branch and study the clouds.
Corny days and nights…
If the sight of blue skies fills you with joy; if a blade of grass springing in the fields has the power to move you; if the simple things in nature have a message you understand, rejoice, for your soul is alive.
And if you have a husband who brings you flowers just because he knows they will cheer you up; nieces and cousins and friends who send you sweet messages on social media; friends who stand by you no matter how many times you cancel plans; family who take you out to dinner and invite you over and have you come to stay with them; be grateful, for this is God telling you that you are loved beyond measure.
N.B. Photographer friends, FYI all presets and textures were from 2lilowls.com. I highly recommend their products! If you choose to purchase something, I’m an affiliate and I’d love it if you used my link to do so: https://2lilowls.com/ref/9 (This way I get a small portions of the profits so I can indulge my growing texture addiction!)
My chronic migraines are giving me a rough time the last year especially, which is why I am doing less writing and more posts with primarily photographs. It’s hard to concentrate on writing when there is an entire percussion section going mad inside my skull…but hopefully soon I will have some decent writing days. I hope.
In the meantime, on a happier note, here are some peonies!
Fresh flowers are definitely at the top of the list in my Fibromyalgia Toolkit–especially when they smell as heavenly as lilacs!
I’m finally gathering my courage together and taking a few more baby steps towards my new endeavor. My plans are, primarily, to sell photos (still life, nature) online (on this blog, a Facebook page, and a site like Fine Art America) and possibly through Etsy or a similar venue.
I’m not going to be doing weddings or portraits however. My chronic pain problems are so disabling they rule out anything that involves keeping regular appointments and having the energy to do a photo shoot with couples and/or families…I get exhausted just thinking about it! This way, I can take and edit photographs on my good days–or mornings or afternoons–and spend entire days in bed or doing whatever I need to do to take care of myself. If I’m having a fibromyalgia flare and am stuck at home for a week, that’s okay, no appointments to cancel.
Another plus is that this is a way for me to be creative even when I’m too tired and headachy to write. This has been one of my biggest frustrations for years. I haven’t given up on my dream of becoming a writer (although how does one know definitively when one can say “I am a writer”?), but it’s definitely on hiatus right now thanks to my horrid chronic migraines and other headaches.
Speaking of headaches…mine is growing exponentially. I’m going to add a couple of photographs from our mini-vacation to Bayfield and Cornucopia, WI, last week, and leave you with the promise to write more tomorrow.:)
I am feeling horribly fragile today, as I have been on most days these last months. Fibromyalgia pain, worsening back and neck pain from arthritis, migraines, foot pain, and depression, a nasty depression relapse that just goes on and on and on…Are my medications not effective any longer? Are changing hormone levels playing a role? Am I getting worse as I get older? Did breaking my foot so badly throw everything off? Or all of the above?
It’s hard to say. But none of my usual self-care strategies seem to be helping anymore. My gratitude journal, guided meditation, walking, losing myself in a good book…all of my long honored tried-and-true comforts are failing me. I’m also having a tough time reaching out to friends because I don’t know what to say.
And part of this, I know, is the ongoing pain of childlessness. The gaping, supperating wound that never heals. It’s always there, a dull ache that crescendos to a roar at times, like around Father’s Day, which is this coming Sunday.
I don’t quite know what to do with so much pain, both physical and emotional. My husband has been wonderfully, incredibly supportive, I have terrific doctors, but it’s as if my usual coping mechanisms have run dry. So all I can do for the moment is to hold on tight to the love I know heals me. From my family, my husband, my God. And force myself to get out of bed every day, to get dressed, to sit out in the backyard with the sun and the flowers and the dog, and hope that eventually healing grace will start to take hold.
Courage doesn’t always roar. Sometimes courage is the quiet voice at the end of the day saying, ‘I will try again tomorrow.’
Mary Ann Radmacher
Goodbye May…you’ve been simply lovely, despite the twin evils of fibromyalgia and depression. Tulips, crabapple blossoms, lilacs, lilies of the valley, and peonies galore. Of course Catholics celebrate May as Mary’s month, and for me, May has always been my mom’s month, bittersweet now that she’s gone, since her birthday and Mother’s Day fall so close together. So goodbye to May…and hello June! I’m looking forward to summer flowers (my salvias and lupines are blooming already) and hopefully a photography trip up to the North Shore (of Lake Superior, for all of you non-Minnesotans out there).
What was your favorite part of May?
Almost a year ago today, I received my Master of Arts in Theology from St. Catherine University in St. Paul, Minnesota. Actually, to be precise, my degree is a Master of Arts in Theology with a Concentration in Spirituality and a Certificate in Pastoral Theology. It took me six years to get that darn degree, thanks to fibromyalgia, bouts of chronic migraine, neck surgery after a car accident, and a quite nasty depression relapse.
Several things sustained me during this time: My husband’s unfailing support; the help and support of the incredible staff and faculty at St. Kate’s; and my belief that I was called, called by God, to pastoral care as a chaplain. I’d worked as a chaplain at the V.A. one summer in 1997 and for part of the previous summer in Oncology and General Medical-Surgical at a hospital in St. Paul. I loved it, loved it, even on the toughest, most exhausting days.
My fibromyalgia kept getting worse in my twenties and forced me to drop out of graduate school and give up on my dream of becoming a chaplain. But by my late thirties, new medications were definitely easing the fibromyalgia pain and I remember telling my mom, before she died, that I was planning to go back and get my M.A., and she was so pleased!
And so I did. But in the end my pain defeats me again..not just fibromyalgia, but myofascial pain syndrome, multiple problems in my cervical spine, chronic migraines (yes, my Botox shots help, but I still get about ten a month). I can’t even volunteer, because I don’t know whether or not I’ll be well enough on any given day to appear when I say I will.
I’m angry. And frustrated. I’m not sorry I got my degree, because I love theology, and the knowledge and skills I gained, nothing–not even fibromyalgia–can take away from me. But I want so badly to use my degree to make a difference in the world, to help others to feel God’s love and mercy. It is so painful to mourn the loss of a dream…and to attempt to discern what God has in mind to take its place.
It is the sweet, simple things of life which are the real ones after all.
–Laura Ingalls Wilder
I find it interesting that the older I get the truer this is! A small bouquet of tulips, a letter from a friend, my husband’s dimples, snuggles from my cocker spaniel, crabapple blossoms in early May…it really is about the little things, after all.
How about you, my fellow fibro fighters? What are a few of the small, sweet things that matter in your life, that help keep you going despite the pain, depression, and fatigue?