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.
We have just endured several weeks of a painful cold snap here in Minnesota–you know, the kind that makes your face hurt every time you go outside, and a high temperature that straggles above zero degrees Fahrenheit is cause for celebration? One member of our little family, however, is a champion at keeping warm. It’s a dog’s life, as the saying goes.
Really, frustration should be listed as one of the symptoms of fibromyalgia. I’m too tired and sore to feel rage, which is what this feeling would morph into if I felt better…although of course my not feeling well is the cause of the frustration, so there you go. Another example of the crazy spirals and cycles this disorder causes. Please excuse me, gentle readers, for giving into the temptation to vent. One of my goals for this blog was to be genuine, which I haven’t been, because I haven’t been honest about my physical or emotional state of health.
I didn’t even write about breaking my foot last October–a break that required two surgeries, thousands of dollars out of pocket, and is still causing me pain. I was stuck in bed for over two months after the break. And all I did was fall in the kitchen! Thanks to the fibro…I have dizzy spells and last summer I actually blacked out a few times. Unfortunately, I was rushing to let the dog in when I fainted this time, and twisted my foot as I fell, which caused a complicated break called a Lisfranc fracture. A fracture which almost always requires surgery. One thing I can say for certain though, is that I have a husband who truly loves me! And a dog who considers it her duty to take care of me whenever I’m sick. Fiona stuck to me like glue the entire eight weeks, while George waited on me hand and foot (excuse the pun).
I finally got back on my feet–both of them–in January, but I had some extremely painful nerve damage in my second toe. Thankfully, that has gone away, perhaps because my anticonvulsant (gabapentin) that I take to control my seizure disorder also helps with neuralgia (a side benefit to seizures I never considered, but actually the same medication helped when I had ongoing pain from the shingles too). The second surgery, which was March 18, was simple, just to take out one of the metal plates from the first surgery, but that too turned out to be unexpectedly painful and to make life even more interesting, I developed a nasty, painful, blistering rash on my upper foot and ankle, on Good Friday no less. Time for antibiotics.
Well, it’s all over but the pain. The pills took care of the rash, my post-op X-rays looked great, my stitches are out. And I should mention that my surgeon was terrific, skilled and kind, as were all of the nurses, anesthesiologists, etc., involved in my care. My surgeon thinks the residual pain in my foot may be due to fibro; I can tell it’s not bone pain, and he did have to move a lot of tissues and nerves around during the surgery to get the plate removed. So fibro makes sense as a cause.
I’m also having a nasty, cruel depression relapse (probably partly tied to the fibro and vice versa…don’t you love it) and trouble with anxiety over finances. Major anxiety. I’m looking at filing for relief from my student loans on the basis of total and permanent disability, which makes me cry every time I think about it. And every time I think about the blood and sweat and tears that went into that master’s degree.
Too tired to write anymore. I’ll finish this tomorrow.
Every week, the women over at RevGalBlogPals, an organization formed to support women in ministry who also happen to blog, have a weekly feature, Friday Five, covering a variety of topics. This week, 3dogmom writes (the image above is hers also):
It’s been a week of ups and downs at our house. On Tuesday I received word of the birth of my goddaughter’s second daughter, a blessing to that family, and the hope of the first daughter happily fulfilled. That evening I learned that my sister-in-law, a breast cancer survivor, is facing a recurrence of cancer in her lymph nodes, and probably her lungs. Joy and concern pressing in on my heart has made for a week of lots of deep breaths and deep-in-the-marrow prayer, smiles and tears.
At times like this I my soul finds comfort and seeks expression through my senses. Pinterest feeds my visual need for beauty and color (not to mention adorable puppies, and herds of sheep). Cooking fills the house with pleasant aromas, and the results satisfy my palette. My hands find tactile pleasure in massaging my dogs, and music penetrates and reverberates in the fiber of my being.
When you need to hold disparate parts of your life in tension, what do you do? Share five things that steady your pace, recharge your batteries and invite peace to your soul.
I think I wound up with more than five, but here we go.
This picture shows the most important elements of what I think of as my “Fibromyalgia Care Kit”. When I’m hurting, exhausted, and often, depressed (mild depression seems to tag along after a flbro flare like an uninvited dinner guest), I need my puppy, Fiona, to cuddle with me and make me laugh, and gaze adoringly at me with her huge, melty brown, spaniel eyes. Her softness and warmth has gotten me through many unspeakably painful days, like the days my mom was in hospice and I couldn’t cry in front of mom. So I would come home, crawl into bed under the wedding quilt my Aunt Marie made for me, and Fiona would come and snuggle against my back. She still does.
I love my nightstand, my little nook, that holds my reading lamp, a photo of my husband George and Fiona, a drink (I mean a soda, or cocoa, or tea, not that kind of drink!), and a stack of books. Books feed my mind and my soul. They are like friends, who comfort and soothe my hurts. I have started practicing mindfulness meditation a few times a week, although I’m not very good at it yet. Hugs. From George especially, but from any of my friends or family, occasionally even my therapist. Drawing, with messy utensils like charcoal and pastels, gives tactile satisfaction too, regardless of the result. Looking at photographs, or taking an especially good one myself, and growing flowers when I’m physically able, or getting a bouquet when I need cheering up, gives me a taste of beauty, I keep my mother’s old rosary in my nightstand drawer; there is something soothing about the feel of the beads as I run them through my fingers.
The photos and books, the hugs, the art, my blog, Fiona, flowers, the rosary…all of these things are both celebratory and comforting, frequently both at the same time. They do serve to tie the varying elements of my life together. And so does the grace woven into each hug, every tear, all of the laughter.
These are some of my favorite little things!
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