In the car on the way home from Thanksgiving, after a thorough, internal self-review, and deep, mindful consideration of where I am in life and where I need to go next.
Me: “I think I need to get a boob reduction.”
My husband (his head snapping around so fast people 3 states away developed whiplash): “Wait, WHAT?! Is this a test to see if I’m paying attention?!”
If you haven’t yet responded to my 2-question survey, it’s not too late. You can leave you answers in the comments, or email them to me using the contact form.
Thanks so much for your help!
- What drew you to Cranky Fibro Girl, and what keeps you coming back to read more?
- What are your top 1-3 problems, challenges, or issues when it comes to your chronic illness?
If you’ve been visiting Cranky Fibro Girl for a while, you’ll have noticed that I haven’t been around much lately. Part of that has been due to our uprooting ourselves last fall and starting over in a new place. But another part of that is due to time: 12 years, to be exact. I’ve had the honor and the pleasure of sharing my stories with you here for the past 12 years. I’ve been so blessed by all the comments and emails you’ve sent me as we’ve shared this chronic illness journey together. And now the time has come for me to take a break.
I’ve sort of been on an unofficial hiatus, in that I haven’t been writing anything. But now I am officially announcing that I’m taking the rest of this year off, to let my mind know that it has permission to focus on other things. Or no things; I’ll. just have to wait and see. I’m creating a container of time and space and energy and permission and rest for myself, to do whatever I need to do to fill up and reset. To discover what I need to reconnect with the joy of writing and creating.
But before I leave for my blog break I have a request. I know there will be ideas percolating for me over the next 4 months. So when I come back I want to make sure that I’m writing about the things that matter to you, and creating things that help support you through your biggest challenges. If you would leave a comment with your answers to the two following questions, or email your answers to me through the contact form, I would really appreciate it.
I hope you all have a wonderful fall, and I will see you again in the new year!
- What drew you to Cranky Fibro Girl, and what keeps you coming back to read more?
- . What are the top 1-3 challenges/problems/issues you face with your chronic illness?
I have decided to declare today A Day of Permission and Amnesty. I am giving myself permission to not have to create anything, and amnesty from guilt and self-flagellation over not having written or posted anything new here for the past couple of months.
What about you? What Permission or Amnesty do you need in order to support yourself today?
“[This is] my go-to breakfast whenever I have some ground pork or goat meat in the fridge.”
(Oh sure. I keep my goat meat right next to my narwhal patties and my unicorn links.)
“If you have ground venison, wild boar, or other game meat, try substituting it for the pork.”
(Right. I’ll make sure to bring some back the next time we visitÂ our summer cottageÂ in Sherwood Forest.)
in that, upon returning from thy journeying unto Atlanta, thou deliverest unto us sixteen (16!) 12-packs of Diet Code Red Mountain Dew, like water unto the harsh, parched sands of the driest desert.
(Originally published 11/19/2009)
Given that we have now been living in our house for over ten years, my husband and I are no strangers to the world of home repairs. As a matter of fact, I have just now had to flee my house as the roofers have been at work since 7 AM, pounding their Shingles Of Death directly into my nervous system. And in order to make my escape I had to use my husband’s and my “emergency code” to inform him that, not only had the roofers parked their van directly behind my spot in the garage, they had also begun using it as a temporary dump for all their stuff, stuff that apparently was being thrown away in the imaginary dumpster located right next to the real-life dumpster, which, incidentally, was blocking the other side of our garage.) And so, I COULD NOT GET OUT.
And lo, there was a giant meltdown in the land. Because, if you know anything about fibromyalgia, one of its possible causes-as well as one of its most debilitating symptom-is a sensory processing disorder. As in, your system is unable to process all the sensory stimulation it receives. As in, there are times when the experience of air touching your skin can be the most excruciating thing you’ve ever experienced. As in, if you are ever looking for a way to torture and/or murder one of us, sending a crew to pound on our roof All. Day. Long. is definitely the way to go.
Oh, and by the way: if you also instruct your Latin American roof crew to just gaze at us and respond, “Huh?”, with blank, uncomprehending stares when we ask them, IN FLAWLESS SPANISH, if they could please move their truck out of our driveway, so that we can PLEASE, PLEASE GET OUT OF OUR HOUSE!!, forcing us to have to revert to Stupid American Loud Talking And Giant, Idiotic Gestures, that will pretty much be the final nail in our coffin.
However: despite everything, this is actually the best home repair experience we’ve had since we’ve lived here. Everyone showed up when they said they would, did everything they said they would do, in the time they said it would take them to do it, and now, with the exception of the dumpster which has yet to be picked up and carried away, you can’t even tell that anyone was even working on our house two days ago.
Unfortunately, that has not always been our the case for us.
The first time we had to deal with something like this occurred about six months after we first moved into the house, when an ice storm threw a giant hunk of tree directly through our bedroom roof.
Now the important thing to know here is that our house is the second one in as you turn off of a pretty well-traveled road. So we and our tarp were completely visible to everyone driving by. Which meant that we received offers from every single roofing company in the city, most of which were formed as the “owners” drove up to our house, and all of which could be summed up as, “Two Men And A Truck. And Sometimes, A Ladder.”
And then a few years later there was Dave. Dave showed up at our door one day and delivered a very intense lecture detailing our urgent and immediate need to hire him to pressure wash our driveway and deck, and also allow him to “hot chemical” our roof.
Now normally we would not have hired someone off the street but, 1) we did need some work done, and 2) Dave had the most wonderful voice of any human being who has ever existed on this planet. It’s very similar to that of Mike Rowe of “Dirty Jobs”, and I would have stood there in my dirty driveway and listened to him speak nonsense for hours, it was that compelling.
Unfortunately, his voice would turn out to be my downfall. Because it would continue to speak of the wonders that Dave could perform on our humble home. And so I would tell my husband, and then he would agree to the work, and then I would give Dave a check, and then there would be no sign of Dave for up to two weeks at a time, when he would then once again appear-after having done no work-and ask for yet another check.
I kept trying to explain this situation to my husband who was unclear as to why I was so increasingly angry, and who kept telling me that everything was okay, and that I really needed to calm down. Then one evening he picked up the checkbook, rifled through the pages, and asked, “Hey-where is all this money going?”
“THAT IS WHAT I HAVE BEEN TRYING TO TELL YOU!!!”, I shrieked, as the skin began to melt off of my face. (I’m definitely the person you want to have around you in a crisis, as calm, cool, and collected is clearly my middle name.) Only I don’t think he actually heard me, because I’m pretty sure I was operating on a frequency that even dogs could not pick up.
As it turned out, Dave was in the middle of a pretty big life crisis, one that caused him to take our checks directly to the music store in order to buy the very latest in amps and electric guitars, which in and of themselves are just fine, but are really not all that useful when it comes to re-painting someone’s house.
Luckily for us Dave’s partner is really honest, and acts with tremendous integrity. He was also a little miffed at Dave, as he too was unable to use Dave’s electronics when it came to things like, oh, buying some paint, and maybe paying his mortgage. So he managed to get ahold of Dave and salvage some of the money, and then came and completed the job himself. For which we will be eternally grateful.
And then there was The Week Of Hank, a week during which I unfortunately had contracted both bronchitis and a sinus infection. Now as you all know, normally I would have spent a week like that lying prostrate on the living room floor and weeping. But this time I couldn’t, because I had to supervise Hank.
And let me tell you, what Hank wanted was someone to listen. Not listen in the normal sense, where he would say something, and then I would say something back, and then we would have an interactive conversation as two, regular adults. No, when I mean listen, I mean this:
Me: surreptitiously moving my eyes over toward the sink where Hank was rinsing out his paint tray, to see how the job was progressing.
Hank: apparently feeling the subtle breeze generated by my passing glance.
Hank: “Hey, you know it’s really great to meet you your husband’s told me so many great things about his wife you know I’ve had three wives the first one was a model from London yeah she was gorgeous but it didn’t work out and my second wife she was from Latin America and now her son is living with me even though we aren’t married anymore and lately he’s been having these seizures and so the other day he drove his car into a telephone pole because he had a seizure while he was driving home from school and so I had to take him to the emergency room and now he’s okay but he has a concussion and hey you know I just got married again but before I did I had to reassure my brother because he told me that if I married any more foreigners then he would disown me from the family and my wife she’s a real looker but she’s from this country and hey do you guys have a broom?”
All day. Every day. For a week.
But finally, our time with Hank drew to a close, and life around here went back to normal. Until we realized that we could no longer find our broom. And so my husband called up Hank, to see if he might know something we didn’t.
My husband: “Hey, Hank.”
My husband: “You know, we really appreciate all the work you did around here for us. But since you finished we haven’t been able to find our broom. Do you have any idea where it might be?”
Hank: “Well, have you checked the attic?”
So now, all these years and all this work later, I’m really hoping that we’ve got enough good house mojo to keep us going repair-free for a good long time. But if any of you need some work done, I can recommend a few good men for you.
So as occasionally happens when you’re a homeowner, last week we had a representative of a local business show up on our porch and do his best to convince us to give him some of our money for, I’m not kidding, “a problem that you probably haven’t noticed yet.” I said no, which of course he ignored, and he continued to prattle on about his company’s wonderful extermination service and how they were giving it away “for dirt cheap” the following day.
Happily I’ve gotten old enough and confident enough that I can say no without feeling like I have to justify myself, although I did have a number of reasons. I could have told him that I don’t hire companies that have to go door to door to drum up business, which is true. I could have said that I don’t give money to people who come to my door because I’ve been scammed before, which is also true. But the true reason I don’t hire door-to-door salesmen lies a decade in the past with a man named Dave.
Coming Up For Air
(originally published 6/4/2007)
I know I haven’t had a lot to say here lately, and that is due to the fact that I have been deep in the bowels of Being A Homeowner.
It all started so innocently back at the beginning of May when my husband uttered those four little words: “We’ve got wood rot.”
So that meant that I performed all my tutoring sessions for the rest of that month to the mellifluous background soundtrack melody of huge pieces of wood being ripped off the side of the house.
Because you know that the repairs did not stop with just the affected section. Oh no. Because that section was right next to the porch, a porch that of course became sadly shabby and run-down looking when compared to the brand spankin’, freshly painted new side of the house. So naturally we had to rip out the entire porch railing and prepare to “redo the deck”, a portentous sounding project if I ever heard one.
Apparently I then spent a lot of time beseeching the universe for Ways I Can Get Out Of Having To Do This Please!, because one day when I came home from working out, there, in my driveway, was Dave.
Dave has a wonderful voice, a voice very much like that of Mike Rowe, former opera singer and current host of the TV show “Dirty Jobs” on the Discovery Channel. I really didn’t care what Dave had to say, as long as he just kept on saying it. But then I began listening to his words.
“Behold,” said Dave, “your concrete is all black and dirty, like unto the dark heart of the blackest night. But I wilt come and wash it with my special “hot chemical”, and lo, it will shine like the clearest diamond and sparkle like the brightest sun.”
“Hm,” I replied.
“And verily,” continued Dave, “we also do decks.”
So we hired Dave to come and work on our house. And Dave pressure washed the house, the deck, the driveway, and all our walkways. And it was very good.
But it was also dangerous, because that was the moment that we all began Getting Ideas.
“You know,” I said to my husband, “wouldn’t it be a great idea to have your family and my family down for Memorial Day?”
“You know,” said Dave, “now that the house is clean, this is the perfect time to re-paint it.”
And so his idea and my idea met, collided, and then took on a whole life of their own.
Now that we are getting the entire house re-painted,
-Of course we have to rebuild the entire deck railing from scratch
-and re-landscape the entire front lawn
-and construct a special container on the side lawn to hold the enormous pile of gravel that’s been sitting on our driveway for an entire year (don’t ask)
-And sure, I can also prepare all of my students for their final exams in Spanish
-And host some out-of-town guests
-And easily conclude the final “tapering off” of the anti-depressant I’ve been taking for the past 14 years a mere week before we host our first ever joint family holiday gathering
Not surprisingly, my body responded to all of my insane delusions by sticking out its tongue, making a funny face, and contracting strep throat (which in turn meant receiving various helpful, yet painful, shots in the ass.)
If you listen very closely, you can still hear the quiet ticking of the Crazy Time Bomb Of Doom that I had become. Clearly, a meltdown was imminent.
The final straw occurred on the Thursday before the party when I tried, and failed, to plant three gardenia bushes in our front yard. It should give you some indication of just how completely at-the-end-of-my-ability-to-function-in-everyday-life I was that I was incapable of digging three holes in the ground, filling them with plants that had already been grown, and covering them back up with dirt.
Fortunately my husband arrived home not long after that and took over, although my hysterical wailing at first convinced him that I’d somehow accidentally lopped off one of my arms with the garden shears.
So he took over the planting, and I decided to do a few more weeks of tapering the meds, and the world slowly began to right itself once more.
Which was a very good thing, because the next day when he showed up to work on the house Dave motioned for me to come outside to where he was standing.
“Hi,” said Dave. “I think you have termites.”
Happily we don’t, and the party went well, and Dave has just about run out of Finding Things To Fix. I think.
Here is a roundup of some of the posts I’ve written over the last few years to help articulate just what it’s like to live with this illness.
“Today is not like yesterday, because fibromyalgia is a puzzle, where all of the pieces are always in constant motion, and are always shape-shifting into something different and new.”
“Right this very minute thereâ€™s a bird singing outside my office window, and I wish to God that it would Just. Shut. Up.
I donâ€™t hate birds; I suffer with a chronic illness. I have fibromyalgia which, among other things, is a chronic pain disorder that takes even the sweetest, gentlest sensory input and turns it into unbearable physical agony, as if your nervous system is constantly being struck by lightning.”
“So tired of being in pain.
So tired of thinking about being in pain.
So tired of talking about how much I think about being in pain.
How many different ways can I say, â€œHey-I hurt! And it reallyÂ *$@ing sucks!”
“I have been having a few pain-free days lately (although Iâ€™m terrified to even write this, lest I jinx it somehow. Itâ€™s hard not to be superstitious when youâ€™re living with something as unpredictable as a chronic illness). Iâ€™m very grateful, and very appreciative for these days, but Iâ€™ve stopped announcing them to the world at large, because people who arenâ€™t sick just donâ€™t get the fact that starting to feel good after m-a-n-y days of being in pain is just as difficult and disorienting as it is when you start to feel bad after a handful of days of feeling good. And when I try to explain to anyone else why Iâ€™m kind of weirded out by a feeling-good-day and donâ€™t know what to do with it, as much as I know they want to help, I cannot â€œjust enjoy it.â€
“But treating fibromyalgia is not like treating a sinus headache or strep throat, where the parameters of the illness are known and understood, thereâ€™s a standard treatment that clears up most cases, and thereâ€™s a predictable, linear improvement once the patient starts taking the necessary medication. Clear cause, clear treatment, clear effect.
Fibromyalgia on the other hand is a puzzle where the pieces are not only constantly moving, but also constantly changing size and shape. And speaking for myself and most of the fibro patients I know, there is no one thing that gets rid of all our pain. Weâ€™ve all had to develop an entire range of tools to deal with our illness.”
“After about five years, give or take, my symptoms stabilized a bit. Iâ€™d learned enough about how fibro affected me, my body, and my capacity to be able to venture out in the world a little. From here Iâ€™ve been focusing my awareness on how to create a happy, thriving, everyday life while also living with chronic pain and illness. So it is from this place that I offer a few of the lessons Iâ€™ve learned over these past few years of being ill.”