I’m Fine, Thanks

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This morning while I was doing my volunteer work for Meals on Wheels, the manager asked a gentleman how he was doing. His reply was, of course, “I’m good.” A co-worker and I teased him about the flat look he had when he said that. He grinned and said, “We all lie when people ask how we are. None of us says, ‘Oh it hurts here and here.'” I thought, “Boy is that true!”

I live in a three story apartment building that is for 55 years and older. I have many friends and acquaintances here so I’m asked how I’m doing whenever I come out of my apartment. I smile and say, “I’m fine thanks. How are you?” I’m not about to say, “Oh my God! I am having the worst flare of Fibromyalgia and CFS! My throat is so sore and my legs hurt so bad. The muscles in my eyes even hurt.” Yet that is how I really feel today.

People who know me well enough to know I have numerous illnesses, will come up with concerned faces and hushed voices to ask, “How are you doing today?” I can’t even bring myself to say the truth to them. It just seems boring and self-centered. I only have three friends with whom I feel I can be truthful and two of them are also chronically ill.

I think that these days, “How are you doing?” is for the most part meaningless; it is just a long form of, “Hello.” Yet we sometimes do need to talk about how we really are. For me it’s close friends, journaling, blogging and social media that provides a safe, comforting way to share without being seen as whiny or boring.

Deb

PS. Who or what is your way of sharing how you are really feeling? Please leave a comment. Other readers and I would really like to know how you share your pain and illnesses!

 

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Excuses, Excuses

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After a month of being MIA, I’m back! I’m sorry to have abandoned you all, but I have some good excuses!

First, I started to do some research on how to improve Peering Through the Fog. I was just starting to read and study this research when my cat, Gracie, became very ill.She was vomiting A LOT and I went around behind her cleaning up vomit A LOT.

I took Gracie to the vet and he thought she had kidney disease, especially since she is 15 years old. He put her on Pepcid(Yes, people Pepcid!) and did some lab work. She absolutely got better on the Pepcid and her lab-work came back really good. I have been so relieved that Gracie is well and equally relieved not to be stooped over cleaning up barf anymore!

Meanwhile all the bending and scrubbing and worrying caused both fibromyalgia and chronic fatigue to flare something fierce. I’ve had crippling pain; it even hurts to move my eyes.Sometimes I just want to sit and cry.

However, I’ve still tried to occupy my mind as that is the only way I get a little relief from the pain and fatigue. I’ve been coloring, went back to reading and studying my blog research and even took  an online class.

As you can see, I’ve also updated Peering Through the Fog with a new design that I know will allow you to move around the site and easily find what you’re looking for. I will soon be on Pinterest so will be letting you know when that is up and running.

Even in the midst of one of my worst flares, I’m so excited to be stretching my mind and starting new ventures. I wish you all a little excitement in your lives; excitement somehow keeps me in charge of my life and wins a couple of battles in the war against chronic illness and pain.

Deb

A Relaxing (kind of) Weekend

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I have a rule that I always stay in my pajamas during the weekend. My rule keeps me from leaving my apartment to do something that will increase my fatigue and staying in my pajamas keeps me in a more relaxed state of mind. Because I also have a lot of weird sensitivities from the brain injury, I often feel much better in loose fitting clothing.

So last night I got all my chores done and put on my pjs. Friday night is always the start of my weekend. Since it was after dinner I decided that I would color before bed time.

Coloring 1

This is me sitting at the table trying to color(with Niecy’s help!).

Coloring 2

Then, this is me sitting at the table 15 minutes later trying to color(with Lizzie’s help!). Anyone who has a cat knows that when they settle on your reading or coloring it’s almost impossible to remove them. I cleaned up my mess of pencils, etc. and went to lay in bed and read.

This morning I slept longer than usual and was roused by a friend who had a procedure on her back and needs daily dressing changes for the next few days. Since I was a nurse before the car accident, I was the natural choice for dressing changes. I got up and scurried around, feeding the cats, taking my morning meds, brushing my teeth and all that. Since I still had some time before my friend came over I started a project that I’ve been dying to get done.

Wall Hanging

I’ve had the rolled paper tubes attached to the backing for a couple of weeks, but finally got the flowers and birds glued on. I am so happy with the way it turned out and it looks great over my bed!

I no sooner got the wall hanging hung up when someone knocked on my door. I let my friend Riccardo in and he presented me with the nicest Easter gift.

Easter Gift

Isn’t it a fun gift?! Anyway, there was another knock on the door and it was another friend who stopped by. So the three of us chatted for a few minutes(We all live in the same apartment building) and then Riccardo left. Ann and I had a really nice visit.

Today was not a quiet, restful day, but it was such a pleasant day that I feel too happy to let the fatigue bother me. To me, sometimes the fun is worth the fatigue even though I know the fatigue could kick my butt for the next two weeks.

Anyway, that’s been my weekend so far. Who knows what tomorrow will bring. . .

Brain Fog Ahoy!

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This week I let myself get too tired and too anxious and now I am a blob of brain fog sitting in a chair.

One night I went with a friend to have dinner and shopping for another friend’s birthday. I got home at 11 pm and by the time I got wound down it was a midnight bedtime. The next night I got carried away and colored until 1 am.

Next came the birthday party and it was 11:30 pm before I got home. However, at the party we briefly discussed the bedbug problem we have here at out apartment complex. I got so wound up about the bedbugs that I never went to bed that night. I spent hours on my computer looking up ways to avoid getting bedbugs and then ways to get rid of them. All night I had that anxious feeling at the base of my throat and in my stomach.

Now I’ve got the worst case of brain fog I’ve had since immediately after I suffered the brain injury. The night before last I slept 10 hours after being up for 36 hours straight. Last night I slept 12 1/2 hours. A half hour after I got up this afternoon a friend came by for coffee and laughed about my not knowing what time it was. I had no idea that the clocks were supposed to be moved forward for daylight savings. So while I am a bit rested I am feeling very, very foggy.

Getting to go out to eat and shopping was definitely worth it. Coloring until 1 am was probably not a good thing. Of course my friend’s birthday party was worth it. But getting so worked up over bedbugs was ridiculous!  Even though the woman who lives directly above me has had problems with them since shortly after I moved in eight months ago, I haven’t gotten them. I take recommended precautions and that’s all I can do. Worrying and getting major anxiety will not prevent bedbugs.

I messed up but must move on. Usually when I am confronted by something that could cause me worry, I try to think about what I could do to solve the “problem.” I then take appropriate action or, if there is no action to be taken, I try to let it go. I’ve gotten better and better at letting things go, but obviously I’m not perfect at it. I’m now paying the price with brain fog that will not go away until it’s ready to.

We all deal with worries and we all have different ways of dealing with those worries. The point of this post is to acknowledge how important it is that we don’t allow these concerns to affect our health. Facing them head-on reduces brain fog, fatigue and even pain. It takes a lot of practice and we’ll never be perfect at it, but we can reduce the stress that adversely affects out health.

How do you handle “worries?” I’d love to have feedback from all of you!

Deb

P.S. There is an epidemic of bedbugs across the US and Europe. They are not caused by dirty homes. In my case, I live in a large, clean apartment building. One tenant got bedbugs and then they spread. People who travel are also at risk of getting them, but there are precautions they can take to lower that risk.

 

A Most Satisfying “Wasted” Day

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I’m still trying to take a “time-out” from life’s whirl. Today has been the first truly successful day! No knocking, no calls and no chores were nagging at me. Oddly, it is 7 pm here and I just now realized how good it’s gone today!

Just so you know-I did feed my cats, wash my face and brush my teeth. But that’s about all. I am still in my pjs and my hair is scrappy from bedhead. What did I do all day? I played with my computer. I started out just needing to print my friend’s boarding pass for her flight to Seattle tomorrow. But first an article on CNN caught my attention. Then another and another. You know how it goes! Then I saw an ad for a hair growth shampoo and that sent me scurrying for reviews (every time chronic fatigue flares I lose a substantial amount of hair) and onto Amazon to price it and read more reviews. Then I shopped around on Amazon for a while(no buying today). I dare anyone to look at only one thing while on Amazon! In between sites I played many games of Solitaire. I didn’t get the boarding pass printed until the middle of the afternoon.

I did do some useful things-printed out an article, with illustrations, titled “The 10-minute Gentle Yoga Routine That Can Help You Lose Weight” and another called “7 Best Yoga Poses to Curb a Binge.” They both came from Prevention magazine’s website. I did pet each of my cats every time one of them became suddenly love-starved. And I did eat lunch-hot, delicious  Meals on Wheels food that my friend brought me after he got done with his meal. I usually have to walk over to the kitchen at our apartment complex to eat lunch so I didn’t count Steve’s knock as a door knock today!

My point is not to bore you with the details of my day, but rather to make a point of how a lazy, fooling-around day can sometimes be satisfying. There’s no way I could live every day like I did today, but I feel like I had a true “time-out” day. I feel gratified to have had a quiet day to myself; for once I don’t feel guilty for “wasting” my day; I feel too satisfied and relaxed for guilt to nag me.

What are my plans for the rest of the day? After dinner I’m going to do some coloring!

Deb

Rest and Relaxation?

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I am on day two of a self-imposed “time-out.” Yesterday wasn’t very relaxing, I had: four door knocks, several phone calls, two deliveries and a last-minute dinner invitation. Now I needed the deliveries, the phone calls were related to a medication I’m trying to get pre-authorization for and I had a wonderful time at dinner. So, what’s my problem?!

I keep wondering if there can be such a thing as a total time-out from life’s busyness. Can we holler, “St-o-o-o-p!!” and have it stop? Just long enough for us to get our bearings? Long enough to get even the tiniest relief of the exhaustion that plagues us? Long enough to clear a spot in the brain fog that is so persistent? Are these things too much to hope for?

Some things have to be taken care of. I, for example, need my medications delivered and I must deal with the insurance company. Sometimes we can make our own choices. I could have turned down the dinner invitation, but I wanted to go and spend time with my two closest friends. Then there is the aggravating third classification of disruptions-the people who just don’t get how badly you need the rest. If they can’t seem to understand that you are genuinely ill they won’t respect your need to have some type of time-out from this incredibly fast-paced life we live.

Twice yesterday and once this morning I set limits with people who wanted me to drop everything and take care of something they wanted me to do for them. I was polite but firm. It felt good to stand up for me and for my badly needed time-out. I will probably have to set limits with others during the next two weeks which I will gladly do if it gives me the quiet I need.

Deb

Emotions and Pain

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Two days ago, I had something happen that was terribly emotionally upsetting. I got the typical headache from crying, but was so relieved I could cry that I was willing to deal with the headache. Whenever I’m taking an antidepressant I am unable to cry. Right now I’m not only on Cymbalta, but also aripiprazole which enhances the Cymbalta. I couldn’t even cry when my mother passed away last September. Anyway, I went right upstairs to see a friend so I could talk about the situation, crying the entire time we talked. Afterwards I felt a bit better for having cried and “unloaded” on my friend, yet I was still very upset.

The next day I woke up feeling as if my body was in a trash compactor. Everything  from my head to my toes was stiff and painful. I knew the excessive pain and stiffness was due to the stress of dealing with a serious emotional issue. Before Fibromyalgia, Chronic Fatigue Syndrome and a brain injury, I was a person who got tension headaches and neck pain when I was upset. Now I feel like my entire body has been crushed.

There is such a link between our pain and our emotions. Over the past eight years or so I’ve learned to be a calm and easy-going person and I have found that to be such an asset in controlling my symptoms. Yet we all have to deal with emotional issues in this life. During those times of emotional duress we can do nothing to stop our symptoms from getting out of control. In this case, crying really hard and sharing with an empathetic friend didn’t help.

I believe we can learn to control our day to day emotions by learning to only get excited when an issue really warrants it. We can also learn to accept our illnesses/symptoms and thus have a calmer outlook on our lives. Yet, unfortunately when we are in a situation where we are hurt, sad and/or angry we can look forward to a maddening flare of symptoms. Doesn’t seem fair, does it?

Deb