I looked back on the past week and wondered to myself, when did I get so crazy? I mean I know I have this illness, that doing to much to quickly will send me into a flare and yet when it comes to life I seem to be hurtling full speed ahead. This is what my week looked like: Saturday – All day adoption class; Sunday – Ran an e-waste donation site for my sons Cub Scouts pack and pulled the weeds in my front yard; Monday – Did an art project with my sons class and participated in a Girl Scout fundraiser at the skating rink; Tuesday – Ran errands for Joey’s class and took him to his baseball game; Wednesday – Worked at my son’s school; Thursday – Helped at my sons field trip, and then that evening took my son for team pictures and baseball practice followed by a mad dash to his Cub Scout pack meeting; Friday – To tired to do anything other than take and pick up my son and neighbor from school. Yes all that while in pain and most days to tired to think clearly and yet I went forward.
I’m hoping the crazy days of April will slowly melt into the gentle rhythm of May but I know it won’t. One more month of school with final projects and open house and year-end parties and homework, homework, homework. All of it taking up my time and devouring my energy. More baseball practices and games and a team party. Again swallowing my energy whole. And Cub Scout meetings that seep into the evening hours when I am at my foggiest. All of it too much and at the same time not enough. I want my son to have great memories of his childhood and I don’t want to miss a second of it. I want to see every double that he hits, watch him help lead the Pledge of Allegiance at the City Council meeting, help to make his classroom experiences be the best they can be. But all of that comes at a price. I’m left with nothing, no energy or focus and in its place mind numbing pain that seems to affect every part of my body like an alien body snatcher leaving me at less than myself. Less than I want to be and yet I keep taking a step forward and then another. Crazy? You bet, crazy for my family, for everyday adventures, for the possibilities that each day brings.
Isn’t it amazing what our bodies can endure? Every morning it’s a challenge just to get out of bed. I have to move slowly, stretch out each part of limbs and my back before even getting into a seated position on the side of the bed and yet I do. I often make the mistake of assuming that whatever aches and pains I’m experiencing are just the result of my Fibro. That’s not always the case. Eight years ago when I found out I was pregnant I was just about to go under the knife for a torn rotator cuff. I had tears in both but the right one was really affecting my quality of life. Because I was pregnant I put off the surgery. Then I had my Joey and I put it off because I didn’t want to restrict myself with being able to hold him, carry him, feed him. Then I just got busy with life as a new mom and set aside the thought of surgery at all. At least with all the cuddle time I wasn’t lifting much other than my baby and I think that allowed me time to heal somewhat as the pain decreased. Now eight years later and it’s rearing it’s ugly head again.
The other day while out on an adventure we stopped to take pictures. At the end my guys gave me a hand getting up off the ground and in doing so my shoulder cried out in pain. I tried to shake it off. When I got home I went out to play some catch with Joey but only after three throws I knew it was not a good idea. I thought to myself that I must have torn that rotator cuff even more. The hubby insisted I make a doctor’s appointment and so I did for this morning. Yesterday I took it easy as I didn’t want to do any more damage to myself and increase my pain level any more. However my sons blue eyes called out to me to play ball with him. I told him I couldn’t dashing his hopes in the process. I began to do stretches and rotations trying to ease the pain when all of a sudden I heard a very large “POP” and instantly my pain went down several notches. I think rather than tearing it more the boys must have pulled a little too hard and pulled it slightly out of the socket and with stretching I’d managed to put it back in place. As you can imagine I was relieved and I cancelled my doctor’s appointment for today.
Yes, I know I should of kept it as I know there is some tearing in there that really could use repair but I have a deep aversion to doctor’s with as often as I need to see them as a result of my Fibro. I know surgery to repair my rotator cuff could very well improve my mobility in that arm and yet I’m hesitant to under go any procedures that are going to cause me even more pain even if only in the immediate future and not long term.
When did I become so accepting of my aches and pains? To me this is my normal and so I don’t really give it any thought, I just do what needs to be done to have some joy in my day.
It’s amazing to me how a simple accident can bring back so many wonderful memories. This morning my husband was making my son and I tea and he accidentally started to add milk to my tea instead of our son’s. Nobiggee, I’ll still drink it. He brought it to me, all milky brown and steaming and as soon as I saw it I thought of my Grandma Queenie. With the first sip I was taken back to my elementary school days and coming home from school to hot (lukewarm) tea and cream puffs my grandma had made for me and all my friends. Each day would be a repeat of the same except the baked item would change. One day it’s cream puffs, the next apple strudel, then a pie of some sort and I think you get the idea. She made going to school, our “job”, seem worth all the effort in exchange for our tea parties. We each had our favorite tea-cup. Dawn and I would drink out of small matching ones covered in violets with our pinkies extended out. The cups themselves couldn’t have been any bigger than a Dixie cup but they were just perfect for our little hands. As we aged we moved up to normal sized tea cups with their matching saucer. I always chose the one with beautiful trees that were covered in pink blossoms. Just looking at it made me happy.
Having those afterschool tea parties made me happy, and my friends happy, and I believe made my grandma happy as well. We were her brood to look after; Dawn, Suzy, Michelle and I. The four musketeers and my grandma as our queen. She came and went in our lives living with us one year and back to her own home the next but when she was living with us the tea parties would resume and I’d add a friend here and there so that the group was always expanding. When we were old enough and she moved back to her home permanently then my friends and I would talk our parents into driving us up for the weekend to stay with her and as we progressed into getting our own drivers licenses you would find a group of us heading up to Clearlake and her house almost every weekend during the summer. And again you’d find us sitting around her kitchen table, picking out our favorite tea cups from her china hutch and drinking tea late into the evening, having a hen party as she liked to call it and munching on her delectable creations.
I feel like I have the whole world at my feet right now with infinite possibilities. Why you may ask? It’s officially Spring Break at my son’s elementary. We want to do everything – play dates with his friends, bowling, a little kite flying (if the wind will materialize), camping, baseball, a trip into San Francisco, etc. So many things and only one week to do it and did I mention that we have to do it on the cheap.
While I feel like the possibilities are endless I also have to be cognizant of my Fibro. If I go full throttle ahead this body of mine is going to eventually come to a complete standstill whether I want it to or not so pacing is the name of the game. We’ll be starting off low key – an adventure of some kind with Daddy. Perhaps a trip to the movie theatre to see Home followed by ice cream. Tomorrow is an unknown but am thinking either a play date with his buddy Caden or a trip into the city. Wednesday we’ve lined up bowling with his buddy Tommy in the afternoon and if the wind cooperates maybe a little kite flying in the morning. Thursday and Friday may be the perfect time to get in a couple of nights of camping returning home on Saturday and a day of rest for me. Sunday is Larry’s day off so am thinking we could head to the beach for a picnic and more kite flying. And if it’s in the budget I would love to do Six Flags on Monday before he has to return to school the next day. He and Larry both love the roller coasters and I love all the animals. It would be a pretty full week but with low-key activities so I think I could pull it off without to many repercussions.
I really dislike being limited by my body. It makes me mad and I have to stop and reassess just how lucky I am to be living this life, to have this time with my family. That life truly is good.
I’ve been absent for almost a year. Life went on, but I feel as though I was just wandering through and not paying as much attention as I should. It’s coming up on what would have been my mom’s 76th birthday this week, and almost the one year anniversary of her death. I look back and see all the wonder that she bestowed in my life, the skills and abilities to survive. And thrive, if I put in the effort.
It’s been hard. The stress of it all exacerbating my Fibromyalgia causing me additional aches and pains. And in the midst of it I realized that the pain meds, the short acting opiates, that had been helping me in the past had ceased to be affective. In this western world of medicine I live in I knew it would be tough to get my team of doctor’s on board with my desire to stop taking them and so I circumvented them altogether. Tapering myself off little by little like I knew they would have me do if I had included them in my decision. It took 10 weeks, with bouts of nausea and light headedness throughout but when I came out the other side I felt clear-headed for the first time in years. Some of the forgetfulness that I’d always attributed to my Fibro lifted and I was able to focus on my life, on what I wanted.
The first thing I had to do was to begin learning all over again how to pace myself. Accept that I can’t go full throttle all the time, heck even most of the time, but I could move forward if I paced myself. Little by little my house is becoming the home I’ve dreamed of. My involvement in Joey’s world has tripled, now not only volunteering at the school, but with Cub Scouts, and Daisies for my niece to be a part of the girl power movement, and baseball. This year I stepped back, we stepped back, and instead of coaching and managing we are simply parents rooting our son in a pastime that’s overflowing with fun.
I still find myself plagued by pain on a daily basis but it’s no better or worse without the pain meds. The only real difference is that I feel as though I’m taking my life back and making it into what I want it to be. In total, family. It’s what’s most important, the one thing that brings me constant joy and that is not something I just want to coast through. I want to be devoured by it, immersed in all it’s juicy details. So far I’m being pretty successful in that pursuit and it suits me to perfection. I’m back to dating my husband again and going on random adventures with Joey and in doing so, life goes on.
This topic comes up for me all the time and it is confusing to me. “What do you do?”. How does one answer that when they are a Homemaker – I’m a chauffeur, a cook, a baseball manager, a sometimes writer, a teacher, a laundress, a domestic engineer, etc. I am not one thing so how does one fill in the blanks or do I just leave the space empty? I mean seriously it is a confusing question. When I answer Homemaker people generally follow-up with “But what do you do?”. What do they mean by that? Is Homemaker not enough? I am raising the next generation. I’m teaching how to be a responsible and kind individual. I am exposing my son to new opportunities and adventures. I am his personal cheerleader. Do I get paid for all I do? The answer to that question is no, not if you’re talking financial compensation but I do not feel that devalues what I do. By the way I do get compensated by my husband and son with acknowledgment and thanks for what I do which I appreciate very much.
At the same time my son is always asking me why I don’t work like Daddy. WHAT? I explain to him over and over that I do work and contribute to our household. I make his life simpler and his Dad’s to. I contribute to my community by helping out in the little league and volunteering at his school when I feel up to it. I also just signed up to be a Daisy Troop Leader with the Girl Scouts – Heart of Central California even though I don’t have a daughter. I do this to contribute to my community, to help the girls in that community grown into the best version of themselves.
As for money, I too contribute financially even though I’m disabled. I’ve worked continuously, often at multiple jobs, since the age of 12. Is it by design that I had to go out on disability when I was only in my mid 30’s? No, it is not a choice I would have made but I’m making the best of it and the silver lining to my predicament is that I get to be a stay-at-home mom to my son.
So am I just a homemaker? Yes and no as I am so much more than the sum of my parts. What do I do you ask, I LIVE, I BREATHE, I LOVE.
My friend Jill posts each day on Facebook a fortune cookie quote. Todays fortune by Melody Beattie really resonated with me as it read, “Gratitude unlocks the fullness of life. It turns what we have into enough, and more. It turns denial into acceptance, chaos to order, confusion to clarity. It can turn a meal into a feast, a house into a home, a stranger into a friend.” I have found this to be so true and yet it is not something I just automatically do. I have to really tune in to being grateful for all I have to notice the small things that make my life that much sweeter. One example of this is that each morning during the week, without fail, my husband brings me a hot cup of tea. Doesn’t take a lot of effort and he probably doesn’t think anything of it, he just simply does it because he knows how much I enjoy it and that it starts my day off on the right note. I always say thank you but I don’t always savor the act and his generosity of heart in doing it and that is where I miss the opportunity to acknowledge my gratitude. This is something I’m really trying to work on as it will not only benefit my life but those around me as well.
Our hearts are full of good fortune
I believe gratitude is infectious. When I see people exhibiting their gratitude it makes me sit up and take notice, of the act they are grateful for as well as the acts in my own life that I need to be grateful for. Last night my son came to me while I was on the computer and exclaimed, “Momma I set up a whole war in my room using all my guys. Will you please come see?”. I was busy, trying to get some things done but the light in his eyes drew me in and so I responded in the positive that of course I would come. The smile that lit up his face was worth a million bucks to me. We wandered into his room and sure enough he had the massive green army on one side and the smaller beige army on the opposite side of the plastic bob-wire fence, tanks at the ready and the green army’s jet ready to take flight. It was pretty impressive I have to say. He explained to me why he’d set up each area as he did, what he thought was sure to be the outcome of the war, etc. I was so impressed by his creativity. I laid down on the floor and said, “Let’s go… it’s war!” and started to pick up my beige guys (of course I had to let him have the huge green army since they are his to begin with) and attack his green ones. His joy was evident and soon I was under siege and getting massacred by a multi-force attack. The bob-wire fence was being mowed down by his tanks, the jet was swooping in and knocking my guys right off their feet and wouldn’t you know it just when I was down to two guys in swooped another force from the hallway with an alien orb that took out both our armies… it was Daddy. I guess he couldn’t stand all the fun Joey and I were having and just had to get in on the action. My heart was full with gratitude for the familial moment in time and the love and camaraderie we were sharing. It’s moments like this that I want to take stock of, to hold in my heart, and to be grateful for on a daily basis.
I used to keep a gratitude journal at one time when I was very depressed just to help me focus on whatever joys may have been present in my day. Some days were much harder than others to realize and acknowledge five things that I was grateful for but what I found was that there were always at least five when I really took stock of my day. It might have been something as simple as the sun shining that day, or a phone call from a friend. It could have been an unexpected card in the mail with $20 telling me to have lunch on them or to treat myself to a new book. It didn’t matter really what it was so much as my ability to see it with clear, unobstructed eyes and heart. I often think that I need to take that practice back up, to jot at the end of each day five things that have touched me in a positive way that day. I know when I do this that indeed my denial can turn into acceptance, chaos can become order, confusion is transformed into clarity. I know that gratitude can turn a meal into a feast, a house into a home, and a stranger into a friend and I for one am very grateful for the ability to be able to acknowledge that and to make sure it is implemented in my life. How will you acknowledge all that you have to be grateful for today?