Wednesday, August 21, 2013

Made it

Falling Asleep

Last night as my head hit the pillow at 9:30pm all I thought to myself was, "you made it."  As simple as that, the morning that found yourself so tired you shook, so hungry you were nauseous, so weak you had no idea how you would get through the day, you did.  I even was able to modify the back to school shopping with my friends daughter to turn into dinner at my house, movie and what better idea than to introduce and 8 year old to the joys of online shopping.  My mom had made some pasta with meat sauce and I had broccoli and luckily some cheese to add to the top for Kate.  Kate was chit chatting and asked me if I when I was little did I have names picked out for children I might have one day.  I thought about it and said, "no, actually I never did that...maybe that was a clue that I really never was going to have children." She proceeded to tell me that she wanted three girls, named, Hope, Faith and Skylar, I commented those were very good names.  As I pulled her dinner out of the microwave, I turned to her and said, "well, I can feed a child guess I wouldn't have been all that bad as a parent." She laughed, one of the few 8 year olds I know that would get the sarcasm.

We proceeded to eat and select a movie, I was vetoed by the 1972 Rescuers and we ordered Epic.  Then I made one of those oh so helpful brownie boxes and we "shopped."  Her dad and brother and baby sister came over about an hour and a half later and we finished the movie and he drove her home. As they left, I cleaned up the kitchen, took a shower, and got into bed and those words ran through my mind like a ticker made it.  I also felt an odd sense of belonging, thinking of how many other people were going to bed with the exact same thought.

I was trying to find a good "sleeping" photo and googled "head pillow"
and found this...made me laugh...seriously...

Monday, August 19, 2013

Molehill out of a Mountain

I have this thing that I have mentioned before that I often get commonly used phrases mixed up.  Not only that but I have been known to correct someone when they have correctly said such a phrase so convinced by my incorrectness.  But I digress, it has been hard for me to write lately.  There is this great analogy about the "Spoon Theory" and if I am not too tired I will google it and insert it, and I had this whole story in my head to relate this "Spoon Theory" to the irony that I was unwillingly the  receiver of many decorative spoons throughout my childhood because I mistakenly decided to "collect" them from all the states I had traveled, which brought forth my grandma deciding that I should "collect" one from every place she had begun to travel.  Needless to say I ended up with a whole lot of spoons from a whole lot of places I had never been while my sister got some actual cool item from such place.  What I wouldn't do for a few extra of those spoons now, because all I feel like I am doing is "paying Peter to buy Paul" or seriously what is that phrase, I'm not trying to be ironic here for the sake of writing..."rob Peter to pay Paul...? is that it?  Well, that's the gist, I need more spoons....and not this one...thanks Brooke.

The Spoon Theory

I have found with this illness that in the beginning I fought so fiercely I unwillingly gave it more power than it deserved.  And this is my point, sometimes you need to make a mole hill out of a mountain or you will never make it to the top.  It is so easy to have this illness take over everything about me, but my life must be more than this illness.  Sure, would I do anything to go back to the old way, but that is not an option.  Much like the stages of grief you begin accepting and that does not mean losing hope, it just means not constantly mourning what use to be.  The person who helps me here in Wisconsin, the same person who brought me all the boxes of brownies so I wouldn't run out, asked me if I ever get bored?

And I thought about it, because on one hand I realized what an obvious question it was, and on the other hand how absurd.  I answered the best I could, "that is a healthy person question."  Yes, I use to not really get bored, I use to get frustrated or lust after all the things I could be doing rather than sitting here in my house like some sort of criminal on house arrest.  I use to think I was bored, but really I was just day dreaming and I found that took me to a very dark and lonely bitter place.

It is how I realized that yes this illness is overwhelming and exhausting and mentally challenging, but if it becomes everything, if I choose to make it bigger than it already is then I will stay in that dark and lonely bitter place.  I told a friend about an example.  My mom and I go to the same nail salon to get our toes done, we only go on the day when both Tina and Rebekah work.  I go to Tina, my mom Rebekah it happened by chance the first time and three years later it's the way it has stayed.  I don't get my toes done unless it's Tina, and this is why...The last time we went was about a month ago right after I returned from Phoenix.  I didn't feel well but I thought I could push it and seriously, it's just sitting there letting someone paint your toes.  But when we walked inside it was a slight bit warm, enough that I asked if they could turn the air down.  Then we sat in our booth and I could really tell I was beginning to feel light headed and uncomfortable.  A few years ago I would have fought with myself, the dialogue in my head would have gone something like this..."Don't be ridiculous, it's 50 minutes of someone massaging and painting your toe nails, get a grip.  Who cares that you are light headed and feel weak, how many people would be happy getting there toes done on a Wednesday afternoon instead of at work...honestly Heather toughen the F up, drink some Coke and smile and make small talk..." What I did four weeks ago was say, "Tina I really don't feel well..." and you know what she did..."Okay let's wrap this up and get you out of here..." no fuss no muss no sirens went off or bells pointing my direction.  No frenzy no rushing around like a code Blue just happened.  This is why I go to Tina, she gets it - it's toes, I didn't feel well, I leave and sit in the car and close my eyes.  Period.

Even a year ago had I done exactly the same thing a different dialogue would have taken place in the car as I sat there waiting for my mom to finish.  That dialogue would have gone like this.."you knew you didn't feel up to it, why did you even try, I can't even go get my toes done without a major incident.."  It would be easy to continue down that path of self and illness frustration, and I still do it often, but then I catch myself and remind myself that the other way is so much easier - it is the simple truth.  It is the reality, I don't feel well I need to stop.  There are plenty of days and things I miss out on when it's fine by me to get in a good cry or see this illness as the Everest it can be, but there is equal if not more opportunities to turn this mountain into a mole hill...and maybe that's what the hell that phrase means in the first place...

Tuesday, August 6, 2013

How we Bloom

But friendship is the breathing rose, with sweets in every fold.
- Oliver Wendell Holmes

Roses and thorns are parts of the same plant. Somehow though, some people are concerned mainly about the roses. The rose is not on the plant for more than a week, but the thorns are there forever.
Roses are teaching that the beauty of life will bloom, once you have taught yourself the lessons given by living with the thorns.” 
― Grigoris Deoudis

― Anais Nin

Thursday, August 1, 2013

August 1, 2013

Today was a perfect day.  That is a perfect day in this new normal.  It still had a bunch of barriers and obstacles, but I managed them, and I had a sense of peace.  Normally perfect days make me a bit nervous, I guess I wouldn't be an inherently anxious person if they didn't and there in lied the beauty of this perfectly not so perfect day.

I woke up and knew it was the last day of swim lessons and multiple times opened my eyes to think there is no way in hell I can get there.  And then this little voice said, just sit up.  That is how we will see, just sit up nothing more expected manage this moment.  So that is what I did, I sat up in bed and got my bearings and then there was the whisper...hydrate.  So I followed, I didn't question, I didn't try and process all the steps in between me and these "early" lessons to see my niece and nephew, I just followed.  Back in bed, juice with salt, hydrate and wait.  I kept glancing at the clock and saw the minutes tick by and I willed myself to not be defeated.  Get dressed, brush teeth.  Okay, I have no idea who this little voice is inside my head, but again I will follow.  And now as I glanced at the clock, it was inching towards 10 am and I knew I still had a number of steps to complete but I forced myself to go back to the baby steps.  I had made chocolate chip pancakes last night for diner...shh my niece thinks I had "vegetable pancakes" so I knew I had those I just needed some protein.  So with my stool by my side I sat and made the eggs, and the clock ticked closer to ten, I just breathed.  It takes 5 minutes to get there and if you only see one minute you have succeeded.  And then there was that calming voice that told me I already succeeded because I felt good enough to try.

I made it to the last ten minutes of her lesson and stayed for the next 30 of my nephews.  It was a perfect cool summer day, and I made the mistake of sitting in the sun of a minute which brought on an intense headache.  But I moved on.  I got home with groceries my mom stopped and got for me and felt dizzy and weak but not panicked.  This will pass.  Bed.  Bed, juice, a bit of coffee and wait.  So that's what I did.  As the day went on I was lucky enough to have a visitor and a hydro-therapy treatment.  I managed to clean the kitchen with my "left to right" technique.  I start at the left side and start doing what I can and if I make it all the way to the right mission accomplished.  Again, these tiny steps that competed a process.  I had the dinner that I made the other night and was lucky enough to be cleaned up by someone else.

Then was the decision, it was 5:30 pm, what I really wanted to do was go to the pool.  Lie in this crisp non humid summer air, read a book, maybe run into someone I know...normal I craved the perfection of normal.  This is where for any one with an illness it gets tricky, you have had a really good day is it worth it?  Will you pay the price if you push too far?  And I determined the price was worth it.  I got to the pool and texted a dear friend I see very rarely on the off chance she would decide this night was also too good to pass up; despite probably a busy day at work, making dinners, picking up children, all the "normal" tough stuff of a mother.  About a half hour passed and in she walks, still wearing "professional" attire with two children in tow.  As we hugged, I said "what a nice surprise, I just texted you..." and she said, "you did?"  I repeat, a perfect day.

This is what now fills me up, these are the random surprises I don't enjoy when I am in Phoenix.  This was a perfect day, and I may pay for it tomorrow and perhaps even the next day, but today I felt like I lived rather than got by and there is no greater gift than that.  This summer it may seem to the outside that I am not that much better because my activities have perhaps decreased, but the difference no one can see is that sense of peace and being present that has eluded me for years.  I have the ability on good days to actually feel present, not count down the minutes or seconds until I can take the plaster of paris mask off my face and get to bed, my body screaming that the sounds, the conversation, the sitting up is all too much.  I have been given moments of calm in this ever changing storm, and I am so grateful for every moment of it, it is the gift that this illness put on a silver platter - the awareness of what it feels like to be well.

August 1, 2013...hope served up on a tray and I took all I could.

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