Choice Words

deckchairs-355596_1280On the last page of InStyle magazine, there is a brief article called, “I am That Girl.” Each month a different female celebrity is interviewed. In the August 2016 InStyle, the actor, Tracee Ellis Ross was interviewed. Tracee is an “outspoken” feminist, according to the article, but I found such a connection to the words she spoke that I had to share.

When asked, “What do you do when you lose hope?” (about the lack of progress of feminism) she replied, “I ask myself, ‘How do I take my frustration and translate it into something that actually helps the situation?'” Wow! Why can’t those words be used for any situation that causes frustration? Like chronic pain or illness? For example, when I get frustrated I could share with my blog readers or I could journal or talk to an empathetic friend. When I was a kid, my mother would tell my sisters and I to “go suffer in silence” when we weren’t feeling well. But by sharing my pain, discomfort or frustration with others I am able to let others know that they are not alone in their suffering and reminds me that I have wonderful readers who understand what I’m feeling.

The interviewer asked Tracee “What do you wish you knew when you were younger?” She answered, “That I was enough. . .I used to think there is a right way to look, there is a right person to become-then I got stuck.” How many of us face feelings of being “stuck?” Life didn’t turn out the way we thought it would. It’s easy to see ourselves as less than whole because of our physical limitations. Yet each of us is enough; we are whole individuals with likes, dislikes, intelligence, beliefs and ideas. Neither pain nor illness defines who we are.

Then there was the question, “How do you deal when you don’t feel 100 percent? Tracee answered, “I accept it. Acceptance does not mean you like it. It means that you agree this is what it is. Once you have that, you can step forward.” This response was related to not feeling like she is “enough,” but it is also a great response to not feeling physically well.  We can take a moment to accept that we are having a bad day, week or month and even accept our feelings about how bad our pain and/or illness is. Then we can move forward. As I am reducing the Lyrica (see Still here. . .), I’ve had quite a few rough days and I’ve been practicing acceptance to get through those days. I first acknowledge that I feel remarkably awful, accept that I won’t be able to workout that day, then move forward towards what I can do. Maybe a little yoga? Maybe making a piece of jewelry? Maybe just some coloring. . .

That’s all for today! I just had to share my thoughts on this article. All the best to each and every one of you.

Deb

Journaling Your Way

female journaling-865110_1280I’ve never been consistent with journaling. Sometimes I’ve journaled for a couple of years straight; other times I’ve not journaled because I’ve been too busy or my life didn’t seem especially problematic. Lately I’ve seen a couple of journaling ideas that have me determined to start a new, daily writing habit.

Past times. . .

In the past, I journaled during times of particular stress, for example: when my marriage was troubled and when I had a very ill newborn. I continued to journal for a while after the divorce, but life took over and it went by the wayside. When my son, Andrew, was so ill, he and I had been sent over 2,000 miles from home for medical care. I was away from my husband and other three children for five months. While writing certainly helped pass the long hours at the hospital I also wanted to document our time spent apart. I filled two thick journals.

Gratitude 

For several years I’ve read about writing down at least one thing you’re grateful for each night before bed. As I consider myself a thankful person I never felt the need to journal my gratitude. I now wonder why I felt I had too much gratitude to bother. I’ve recently felt that I do need to connect with all that I am blessed with. On my worst days I especially need to write down some of what I am grateful for. Otherwise I would feel hopelessness.

New Ventures

I was recently gifted a free three-month gym membership. I’ll be working with a trainer who has a lot of experience working with people who have Fibromyalgia. Journaling will keep me accountable for going to the gym as well as giving me a way to keep track of my achievements and my difficulties.

I have also reduced the amount of Lyrica I take from three capsules per day(450 mg) to one capsule per day(150 mg). I need to document how the pain and brain injury are affected by this  reduction. Just so you know- today is a toss-up. I feel ever so crappy, but it is cold, rainy and windy. Could be the weather. Could be the reduction in medication.

Stress Journaling

Last week I read an article about “stress journaling.”  The idea is to write down what you are fearful of or what is stressing you out. According to the article, studies have shown that when people write down their fears and/or stressors  the fears don’t look so big and bad.

While I’m excited to start exercising, I am also fearful. Yet when I write down, “I am going to go to the gym to work with a trainer who has lots of experience working with Fibromyalgia” it doesn’t feel so scary.  My mind settles down and I think, “The trainer knows a lot about Fibro, he’s not going to push me too much, he’ll understand when I can’t do something and he’ll understand why I sometimes must stay home.” I’m still a bit nervous, but my mind is no longer a swirl of fretfulness. As the brain injury causes me to have anxiety, this could be a very useful tool for me.

Give It a Try

I do not feel that a journal should be a taskmaster. You can write at the same time each day or you can just jot a few things down when they come to you. You could use it for documenting symptoms, writing down your blessings or saving you sanity. Whatever you want. Don’t feel you have to go out and buy a fancy journal either. I have journaled on notebook paper and spiral binders as much as in books designated as “journals.” I’ve even made my own books(fun!). For that matter, you can journal on your computer.

I’ve decided to use one book to keep track of everything-my health, exercise, gratitude, etc. I’m not sure which type of book I’ll get, but I hear there are some cool new journals that include pictures to color. Sounds good to me! (Refer to Have You Discovered. . ?)

Deb

 

So Far. . .

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This quote is from actor/director Leah Remini.

I love this quote! It is so encouraging. It allows us to turn our truth around and look at it from a new direction.

I’m Not Feeling Very Well

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The other day a neighbor said to me, “I haven’t seen you for a while.” (translated for your convenience: “You didn’t go to our coloring get-together this week”) I told her that I haven’t been feeling very well. Her reply was, “Well don’t forget we’re meeting on Sunday afternoons too.”

Now it’s Sunday afternoon at 3 pm. I live right next to the lobby where we have a large table and chairs as well as big, comfy armchairs so we can meet to chat or to have parties or have, for example, coloring group.  I can hear everyone talking and laughing while they’re coloring. I’m at home feeling teary.

There are a couple of reasons I’m feeling so teary: I am in so much pain I can barely stand it and because my neighbor did not appear to understand why I couldn’t go today.

Yes! I am having a bit of a pity party! I haven’t had a flare this bad for several years. I’m used to having pain every day of my life, but today I couldn’t even get myself out of bed until 1:30 pm. I’m hunched over, stiff and heaven help me if I sneeze or yawn. I feel like a big lump of whiny!

The second reason I’m upset (and the point of this post) is that my neighbor seemed to not understand that I’m REALLY not feeling well. She has chronic Epstein-Barr virus and she and I have talked several times about flares, pain and terrible, terrible fatigue.

Was it my fault she didn’t understand? I did say, “I’m not feeling very well.” when maybe I should have been more forthright, “I’m having a terrible flare and I feel like crap. I hardly had the energy to get my clothes on today.”

It’s interesting that this topic should bite me in the butt considering what I wrote about in my last post (I’m Fine, Thanks.) For sure I don’t want the entire building to know that I’m hunch backed, barely able to walk and scared to death to get into the shower until my caregiver is here tomorrow. However, I realized today that I need to trust some of my friends and neighbors more. Fibro, CFS, and traumatic brain injury are a fact of my life and a part of who I am. When necessary, I have to be truthful about why I can’t leave my apartment.

Almost immediately after I posted “I’m Fine, Thanks” I got the most wonderful comment Two Thoughts on “I’m Fine, Thanks.”  It was written by the blogger of  Outbursts of a Spoonie. She is right on point. Now I’ve just got to work on being as  brave and truthful as she’s trying to be. We all are certainly works in progress, aren’t we?!

Deb

PS: How do you handle telling others how you feel? Is it something you also struggle with? Share your thoughts with us. We’d love to hear from you!

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!

 

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. . .