Sometimes Produce Is Tricky

2014 November 26
by Jenny

My Husband (upon discussion of this week’s grocery list): “The next time you put avocados on the list, I’m going to buy one and then light a dollar bill on fire. Because that’s the same as buying two.”

Just In Case You Are Sort Of Dreading The Holidays Too

2014 November 25
by Jenny

I confess: when it comes to the holidays, I’m much more Grinch than Wonderful Life. My Hermit gets cranky exchanging solitude for socializing. My Hedonist is fussy about leaving my cozy nest and my familiar routines. And my Storyteller has a hard time leaving the fascinating (to me, anyway) landscape of my inner world. And that’s before I even add chronic illness into the mix.

When it comes to dealing with all my inner selves, my strategies are by definition pretty particular to me and my situation. But when it comes to facing holidays as someone suffering from chronic illness, I’ve found a few good articles lately that I wanted to pass along. They’re all written by Toni Bernhard, author of the book How To Be Sick: A Buddhist-Inspired Guide for the Chronically Ill and Their Caregivers.

1. Surviving the Holidays when You’re Chronically Ill. Strategies for creating a plan ahead of time.

2. How to Ease the Pain of Isolation During the Holidays. Even while being around others, chronic illness is still an isolating experience.

3. Reduce Holiday Stress by Educating Others About Your Health. Sometimes frustrating, always necessary.

Here are a few resources I’ve found to help with this:

-The Spoon Theory, by Christine Miserandino

-The video, “What It Feels Like To Live With Fibro” by Haullie Free-Volker

-”Letter to People without Chronic Pain“, from the blog Life in Pain

-The blog post, What It’s Really Like To Be Chronically Ill by Lauren Anne

May we all find ways to create the holiday experience we want and need.

Love and blessings on our journey.

 

 

 

The Mistress

2014 November 24
by Jenny

Yesterday Mr. Cranky Fibro Girl and I went to see our massage therapist, a woman we love and adore who’s been working on us for about a decade. On the weekends she works out of her home, which is fun because she is also an animal lover, so there’s always a collection of felines around for us to play with.

However, she also has a bird. A large, vocal, cage-rattling bird who kind of undoes a lot of the benefits of my massage because, in addition to the myriad other things I fear in this world, I am really afraid of birds.

My husband though, loves to visit with the bird, because the bird loves men. L-o-v-e-s them. (Women, not so much) So when I go in to get my massage, not only does he chat with the bird and give her treats, he opens the cage and lets her out so they can play together. I often walk back to the treatment room to the accompaniment of conversations like this:

My husband (whispering sweet nothings to the bird): “Don’t worry baby. As soon as that lady leaves I’ll let you out, and then we can be together.”

But that’s nothing compared to what I see after my massage is done. And let me just tell you, there is nothing that mars your sweet Massage Afterglow quite like walking into a room to see your husband being hand-humped by a huge bird shrieking in ecstasy, while shooting you a smug look that says,

“Suck it bitch. This man is all mine.”

Trey and Bird

Featured Friday

2014 November 21
by Jenny

A collection of small treasures I’ve found while out and about.

Featured On The Blog:

If you’d like more Cranky Fibro Girl, you can follow me on the social media account of your choice by clicking on the brown buttons in the sidebar.

You can click on the “share” buttons at the bottom of any post if you feel inspired to spread a little snarky love online.

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Fun Finds:

Last month I turned 42, which I’ve been told is the answer to everything. I haven’t found that to be quite the case, but it’s early days yet-I guess I’ll just have to wait and see.

It does seem that every time I turn around I find another article about Generation X-ers and how we are embarking upon middle age, so I’m including a few of my favorites here.

-I know I’m late on this, but I love this comparison between Halloween for Kids in the ’70s vs. Halloween Today.

-Generation X’s journey from jaded to sated discusses how we’re coming to terms with this next stage of life:

Boomers cry “More, more, more!” and Millennials whine “Me, me, me!” But Gen Xers know when to say “Meh

“Because of this, we’ve learned not to get too attached. And because of this, we’re content.

Does that mean we’re above reproach? Of course not. We Xers can be aloof and arrogant. We tend to name our dogs after people (“Meet my pug: Zachary Jones.”) and our kids after dogs (“This is my oldest: Howl.”). We get misty over the smell of Aqua Net. And if acid wash jeans come back, we’ll be the first to have them on, no matter our age, particularly if they are ripped at the knee to reveal thermal underwear.

But all of us aged 36-ish to 51-ish should be pretty proud of learning how to “let go and let life.” It’s been a hard-fought battle, and we’ve got the untouched scars to prove it. We don’t need an award—we’ve never even owned a trophy case—so please hold your applause. We’ll just celebrate it quietly, right here, in our hammock of “just fine”, murmuring our “Meh, meh, mehs” while we DVR another generation’s biting reality.”

-What you learn in your 40s and 40 Things I Can Do at 40 That I Couldn’t Do When I Was 20 celebrate wisdom gained from our 4 decades of life.

-And 40 Effed Up Things About Being 40 highlights the other side of the coin.

Fibro:

This week, in honor of all those who take care of us, here’s A Not-To-Do List For Caregivers of the Chronically Ill.

Funny:

Trying to exercise around cats. Mwa ha ha ha ha.

 

 

 

 

Your Huddled Masses Yearning For…Rejuvenation?

2014 November 20
by Jenny

The other day my family was gathered in the kitchen watching their regular morning show, which that day featured the results of a new scientific study. Apparently they’ve been performing experiments which involve removing cells from young mice and replanting them into elderly ones, with the result that the older generation becomes significant reinvigorated and renewed.

“Man,” sighed my 92-year old grandfather wistfully, “it’s great to be a mouse here in the United States Of America.”

Ah yes, the Holy Trifecta Of The American Dream: mice, mitts full of baseballs, and mom’s apple pie.

Warrior

2014 October 2
by Jenny

Lately I have had the pleasure of getting to know fibro blogger Julie Ryan of the blog Counting My Spoons. She has written some great posts lately that I’ve added to my lists of favorites, such as the post on self care titled “11 Things Those With Chronic Illness Need To Do“, and a helpful post for caregivers called, “Things To Say To Someone With Chronic Illness“.

I was honored to be asked to be a part of her Fibro Warrior series, and if you’d like to check out my interview you can read it here.

No Time Off For Good Behavior

2014 September 30
by Jenny

Last month Mr. Cranky Fibro Girl and I went to the beach with my parents, my brother and his wife, and their 2-year old and 4-year old sons. I always like traveling with my dad because his Inner Hedonist is as highly developed as mine is, so we always stay someplace nice. I also enjoy hanging out with our nephews because they find joy in the smallest things, like figuring out how to flip open the lock on the sliding glass door to our fourth-floor balcony, accidentally falling face first into the tub and sucking down half their bathwater, and other exploits basically designed to give six adults a week-long, anxiety-induced heart attack.

It was a little challenging to be around little ones for that long, but I met it by cornering the market on all the jobs that could be performed while sitting down. Block the unsteady 2-year old from leaving the relative safety of the living room carpet for the hazards of the tiled entrance hall? On it. Participate in full-contact racing with every Matchbox Car known to man? All over it. Holding the straw while someone sucks down a Capri-Sun? I AM THE FREAKING VALEDICTORIAN OF HOLDING THE STRAW.

In addition to the fun of little kids and the enjoyment of catching up with each others’ lives, it was also very mentally relaxing. I could sit on the couch, look around, and see absolutely nothing that had to get done. That might have been the best vacation perk of all.

The trip was lovely.

AND.

It was really hard. Because I was sick. As sick as I was 3 1/2 years ago when I got back from a trip to the West Coast and had to be wheelchaired off the plane. So sick, that most days I couldn’t manage the stairs in our condo. Sick enough that I had to miss like, 90% of all the fun things that everyone else did.

And it broke my heart.

Not being able to keep up or do much when it comes to everyday life is one thing; I’ve made a sort-of peace with that and figured out how to navigate my days pretty well. But to be unable to do something as easy as taking the elevator downstairs to sit by the pool was almost more than I could bear.

Part of it was being the lone sick person in a group of  healthy people. I could not ask for a more compassionate and supportive family. But the fact was that they could go shopping, go to the beach, or even just go down to the hotel lobby every afternoon at 3 to get some fresh-baked chocolate-chip cookies, and I couldn’t. And it was brutally painful to have that truth rammed home over and over again, every day, for an entire week. Illness can be a lonely, isolating thing.

It was also painful to realize that I was operating under certain assumptions about my life and my illness that turned out not to be true.

It’s been six years since I was diagnosed with fibro, and seven years since I got sick with the Hostile Alien Intestinal Bacteria, and I’ve had to come to terms with a lot of loss. A lot. But the past couple of years  have been about adding things back into my life, so I guess I assumed that the losses were over and fibromyalgia wouldn’t-or couldn’t-take anything else away from me.

But sadly I was wrong,  and that REALLY pisses me off.

Because that is NOT the way vacation is supposed to BE, and that’s the way vacation was, and vacation should be EASY, and vacation was hard, and that’s NOT FAIR, and you’re right, it wasn’t fair, and I should be OVER this by now, and I’m not over this yet, and maybe I can just give myself a break because this is hard, and sometimes being angry feels better than being sad.

So that’s what I’ve been chewing on lately, my latest attempt to bend life and illness to my will (because that’s worked out so well for me in the past). But in the glorious both/and that is my life, my favorite TV shows have had their fall premieres, I have a big celebration planned for my birthday next week, I’ve started getting into genealogy lately and have discovered cool things about relatives I never knew, I’ve got lots of fun books to read, and it seems that words are flowing for me again.

It seems that Fucking Fussy August Syndrome is finally over, and I am feeling the fun new energy of fall.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Featured Friday

2014 September 25
by Jenny

A collection of small treasures I’ve found while out and about.

Featured On The Blog:

The newest addition to the Resources page is a tool called The Satisfaction Finder, which was created by life coach and spiritual teacher Jennifer Louden. Given how much time I spend at home alone with my thoughts, I’ve found this tool to be a lifesaver when I’m attacked by thought gremlins preaching their different variations of, “You’re not trying hard enough to overcome your illness, you’re not doing enough in your life, and therefore, you suck.”

If you’d like more Cranky Fibro Girl, you can follow me on the social media account of your choice by clicking on the brown buttons in the sidebar.

You can click on the “share” buttons at the bottom of any post if you feel inspired to spread a little snarky love online.

If you’d like to receive news and updates, you can sign up for my email list by filling out the form at the top of this page.

Fun Finds:

Here’s an article that explains “The Science Behind Baking the Most Delicious Cookie Ever“.

And while we’re on the subject of food, it seems that “Edible Chocolate LEGOs Exist, Childhood Dreams Can Now Be Stacked And Eaten“.

Fibro:

The blog Life in Pain featured a wonderfully articulate post titled “Letter to People without Chronic Pain“. It is one of the best resources I’ve found that describes what it is like to live with chronic illness. For example:

“Pain can inhibit listening and other communication skills. It’s like having someone shouting at you, or trying to talk with a fire alarm going off in the room. The effect of pain on the mind can seem like attention deficit disorder. So you may have to repeat a request, or write things down for a person with chronic pain. Don’t take it personally, or think that they are stupid.”

And,

“Pain can sometimes trigger psychological disabilities (usually very temporary). When in pain, a small task, like hanging out the laundry, can seem like a huge wall, too high to climb over. An hour later the same job may be quite OK. It is sane to be depressed occasionally when you hurt.”

Or,

“Not all pain is easy to locate or describe. Sometimes there is a body-wide feeling of discomfort, with hard to describe pains in the entire back, or in both legs, but not in one particular spot you can point to. Our vocabulary for pain is very limited, compared to the body’s ability to feel varieties of discomfort.”

Funny:

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Free At Last

2014 September 17
by Jenny

(Originally published here on July 31, 2005.)

I think one of my favorite things about being in my thirties is the fact that I no longer feel like I have to pretend about who I really am (or am not) in order to get people to like me. This was not always the case.

Back during our first year of marriage my husband, who is himself an Eagle Scout, worked as a volunteer with a Boy Scout troop and I, caught up in the flush of wanting to impress my new husband, agreed to go along on one of his troop’s camping trips.

Important Side Note: If you have never been camping before, I would HIGHLY recommend that your first trip not be with a troop of scouts, because any points you feel you have gained by being “a really cool wife” will quickly fade when you realize that, compared to everyone else on the trip including elementary school students, trail dogs, etc., you feel like a giant, incompetent wuss.

I really should have known that I was in over my head when my husband and I went to the outdoor store to buy me some gear. We did not go there to buy a cool backpack, or a kicky bandanna, or a nifty trail tool. No,we went so that I could buy my very own, neon orange, plastic poo shovel.

Things kind of took a turn for the worse once we had hiked up the trail to the spot where we were going to camp that night. We had foolishly drunk all the water we’d packed, so my husband went down to the river, filled our two plastic bottles with water, ran some iodine through the bottles, and handed one to me. I looked at the bottle, looked at him, and said, “It’s brown, And. There. Are. Bugs. In. It!” He looked at me and said, (and please bear in mind that he had only been a husband for a little under a year and hadn’t yet developed the sensitivity that he has now after nine years of marriage), “Well, the bugs are dead. And we have this lemonade mix to add to it!”

Even now, eight years later, I can’t think of this story without experiencing total incredulity at his response.  And even now, eight years later, my husband insists that we would not have even had this problem, if only he had packed a darker colored drink mix.

Happily I did recover enough from this trip to start going out on day hikes with my husband and our friends. As a matter of fact I was pretty impressed with myself on our last trip, because not only was I wearing my very own pair of official hiking boots, but they were so well used that we had to patch them together with duct tape.

(Yes of course we had duct tape-I was hiking with three engineers! As a matter of fact, the only reason that I didn’t have to sleep suspended in between two trees in some kind of jury-rigged duct tape shelter was the fact that the other spouse who came on this trip was five months pregnant.)

However, there are still some hurdles to overcome before I can consider going on another camping trip, as is clearly illustrated by the following conversation I had with my husband the last time he went camping.

10:00 pm. The phone rings.
Me: “Hello?”
My husband: “Hey, Jenny. I need your help.”
Me: (panicking at all the possible emergencies that could befall campers, and wondering just exactly where I can rent an emergency extraction helicopter at 10 pm on a Saturday night) “Oh my gosh, are you all right?!”
My husband: “What? Oh, yeah, we’re fine. I just need you to get the Almanac so you can tell us the geographical size of Liechtenstein in square miles.”

Silly me-what was I thinking?! These were highly trained, highly capable, highly intelligent men. Clearly the only emergency situation in which they could possibly have found themselves would be to be without immediate access to the geographical data of tiny, landlocked, central European countries.

So anyway, the jury is still out on the whole camping thing, but between you and me I wouldn’t hold my breath.

A Tale Of Two Spouses

2014 August 19
by Jenny

(originally posted June 29, 2005)

The next post I’m republishing from my archives is one of the first stories I ever wrote about me and Mr. Cranky Fibro Girl.

In honor of today being my 9th wedding anniversary, I thought I’d write a little about how my husband and I have worked out our own particular division of marital labor in order to ensure a smooth, well-running relationship. Because there are certain things they just don’t cover in premarital counseling, such as how to adjust to the fact that each of you deals with stress differently.

When it comes to handling stressful situations, my husband is in charge of Being Calm, which is best illustrated through the following story.

After we’d been married for three years we bought our first house, and after we’d lived in our house for six months we had a really bad ice storm. We thought the worst that happened was that we lost power, but we soon discovered just how wrong we were when I walked into our bedroom and saw a GI-NORMOUS tree sticking through the roof.

Naturally I called for my husband, and he responded by saying, “What?” Now I’m sure you can picture this situation, so you know the tone I was using. It was not, “Could you please come in here when you get a minute, hon?” It was, “COME! NOW! BAD!” Fortunately he decided to amble in and see what was going on. That was good because I only had the one yell in me, and then I lost all ability to speak and was reduced to quiet whimpering.

So he came into the room while talking on the cell phone to his dad, saw the giant hole in our roof, and… started describing it in precise, rational, scientific terms to his father. Like, “Hm, the hole is about the size of a dinner plate, and the tree is protruding approximately eighteen inches down from the ceiling.”

And I’m standing there looking at him, the love of my life, the man I waited seven years to marry, and I’m thinking, “Who are you, and what is the MATTER with you?! Why are you not freaking out when CLEARLY that is the response called for in this situation?!”

But this is where the whole division of labor thing came in handy, because he calmly organized some roof triage, and I got to come up with a funny story to tell people.

However there are some times when being calm can backfire on you, and that is where I come in. So in addition to Getting To Do All Of The Freaking Out, in stressful situations I am also in charge of Reasonable Expectations. And I have a story for that too.

About a month after moving into our house, things were going well. I was enjoying unpacking and decorating, and I had just gotten a new job working at a bookstore, which is something I always wanted to try.

One day my husband came home from work and announced that there was a position open at his job for someone to go to Denmark for a year. And he thought we should go. And…he was serious. He honestly believed that this was absolutely the best, most rational, most logical next step for the direction of our lives. And he was upset when I responded by bursting into tears and crying for like, an entire day. He said, “I don’t understand why we can’t discuss this rationally.”

So here we are six years later (still living in America), and we’ve gotten our routine down pretty well. He is in charge of Things That Sting, Time, Calling People On The Phone, and Knowing How To Get Around In Any Given Location, and I am in charge of Funny Smells, Sneaking In Decluttering So He Doesn’t Notice It, Knowing Things About People, and Holding His Drink When We Go Out Somewhere.

It works for us.