It's that time AGAIN. With moving day just under 3 weeks away the big pack up has begun. Shelves and drawers are emptying out. Pictures are coming off the walls, leaving behind lonely nails. Moving containers are taking over our living space as I slowly fill them with our belongings.
I'm doing what I can to pace myself through the packing but it's a big job so no matter what I will end up overdoing it. Already a muscle spasm has set into my right shoulder and neck.
After months of anticipation, the packing has made the upcoming move feel more real. It has become the light at the end of a very long, frustrating tunnel. My lengthy to-do-list is almost complete. With that, the excitement that was so present at the start of this process is beginning to take hold again.
This move is going to be my 6th in the last 7 years. I'm weary of it all: the work, the stress, the expenses, learning my way around a new area. Not to mention the severe disruption of my routine, which always makes managing my symptoms and treating my pain more difficult. The only comfort in it this time is knowing that it will be our last move for a very very long time. I can't wait to settle in and start growing some roots.
I've been thinking a lot about luck over the past couple of weeks.
Highly successful people tend to say things like, "you make your own luck", which basically discounts the existence of luck entirely. Implying that your success, or lack of success, in life is due entirely to your actions. Even though I believe that we all have the ability to impact the direction of our lives, I totally reject the idea that luck has no role. In fact, I believe luck plays a rather large role.
Luck, good or bad, begins with the family you are born into. There is no way to deny that our access to education, opportunity, nutrition, nurturing, support and even love is largely dependent on the parents who created us and each of these elements are crucial to a child's development. Being born to educated, loving family with a comfortable income is lucky. Being born to a drug addicted prostitute is decidedly unlucky. We have no say in who our parents are and what genes they give us. Being born healthy and robust is lucky. Being born with a physical or mental disability is unlucky. Both situation are completely beyond our control and have a huge impact on an individuals life.
While people can overcome terribly unlucky disadvantages from their start (Barak Obama and Oprah come to mind), their ability to do so is also PARTLY attributable to luck. The ones who are able to overcome are born with the right kind of personality type, they are specially equipped with focus, drive and are internally motivated toward a specific direction. Not everyone is born with the ability to overcome an unlucky start and that is not always their fault. Sure some people are lazy, some are cons but I believe most people are doing the best they can with the hand they have been dealt.
I'm not at all suggesting that luck is the only determining factor in our lives but I am suggesting that it is a major player. I get so frustrated when people try to blame the poor and the sick for being sick and poor. Doing so makes it easy to disregard our collective responsibility to take care of the disadvantaged in our society, easier to not see the humanity we all share. This blame serves to make us all more vulnerable than we already are.
The first neurologist I was treated by, when my migraines turned chronic, started me on a muscle relaxer called Bachlofen from Watson Pharmaceuticals. Taking this drug interrupted the 24/7 migraine that I had for a few months prior.
You see, my muscles have been out of control for a very long time. They are constantly active and tense even when I'm sleeping. By taking this wonderful drug my body was forced to relax and that stopped my muscles from retriggering a migraine before my prior migraine had a chance to conclude. Plus, calming my muscles helped me to sleep at night. Despite many years, many doctors, many other drugs, nothing else has had the kind of impact that this particular drug from this particular manufacturer has had.
Then one day Watson Pharmaceuticals decided to stop making Bachlofen. I tried not to freak out. I tried fruitlessly to seek help from my then PCP. But for more than a year now I've been taking Bachlofen from various other manufacturers and it is clearly not working. I have more discomfort and spasms in my muscles. I frequently wake up sore from all the muscle activity that is going on while I'm "sleeping". I frequently have nights when I can't get to sleep or I wake up in the middle of the night and can't get back to sleep because I can't quiet my muscles.
I'm still better off with the Bachlofen than without but my quality of life has suffered because of this change. I've frequently thought that if I could just find a doctor who had a better understanding of these drugs and could help me find another muscle relaxer that could work as well as my old Watson Bachlofen that I would be all set.
Then it occurred to me that I might be able to actually impact my muscle tension on my own through meditation, and relaxation practices. Obviously, this is not a solution that will be easy or quick. I had abandoned my earlier practices of meditation and relaxation because I was struggling with it so much. But I still believe in the power of the mind and I still believe that I can get better if I stick with it.
I love the idea of being in control of my muscles. That really is the goal here. Obtaining that goal will certainly be difficult as my muscle issues predate my chronic migraines (perhaps it even contributed to transforming them from episodic to chronic). Dare I even dream of a day when I no longer even need a muscle relaxer?
My body has been invaded by some unseen beast, who has been torturing me since late Sunday morning. This is not the usual torture from my chronic migraines or fibromyalgia. I suspect the culprit here is actually hormones. My skin is crawling, I'm too hot despite the cold late-Fall weather, there is this extreme discomfort that has permeated every bit of me and no matter what I do I can't escape it.
This isn't the first time my body has had this experience. In fact it has happened several times in the past year. Part of me just wants to scream - I mean come on - don't I have enough physical challenges to deal with?!? Another part of me just wants to crawl into a ball and hibernate until it passes. While I recognize that neither are productive options, I simply don't know how to manage this particular beast.
I suppose a trip to the doctor would be a prudent move to see if it really is a hormonal issue and figure out what can be done about it. Although, right now I'm still feeling some intense doctor fatigue so this is the last thing I want to actually do. Right now I'm just full of apologies to my poor hubby who has to deal with me in this state.
Things come up. Life has a way of being unpredictable and crazy at the most inopportune times. That's why we have sayings like "when it rains it pours". Because life is this way, I often find myself overwhelmed by times when it pours. You see, chronic migraines and fibromyalgia impact every aspect of my life, every single day, making it difficult to keep up.
My best ability to function is dependent upon things being just so. I need to sleep enough. I need to eat well and stay hydrated. I need to ration my activity so that I don't overdo it. I need to keep my stress low. I need to do my gentle exercises. Basically, I need my routine so that I can do all the things that help me to manage my symptoms. This is in direct conflict with the craziness of life.
When life gets crazy and I find myself overwhelmed or unable to keep up I always experience an increase in my symptoms and a crash. I don't know how to avoid it but here are a few things I do to help cope with it.
1. Ask for help.
2. Let go of tasks that can wait for calmer times.
3. Hold on and remember things always quiet down again.
4. Find something to laugh about - every day needs laughs - especially when things get crazy.
5. Snuggle with hubby and our dog Gypsy.
6. Try not to judge myself too harshly because I can't keep up with all the healthy people around me. This one is the toughest. I can be rather harsh on myself.
In the years since chronic pain took over my life, I've found the concept of coping to be liquid. Sometimes it is easier than other times. Something I do better, sometimes I don't. Sometimes I don't think I can keep working so hard at it, then I realize I just have to. Sometimes I even feel like I've got the hang of it.
An invitation to a family dinner party to celebrate my cousin's birthday was extended to hubby and I early last week. The invitation was followed by an absolutely horrible migraine that went on Tuesday night, all day Wednesday, Thursday and most of Friday. Each day I set the intention in my head that my body would cooperate so that I could actually go. The pain lingered and each day I had serious doubts that things would work out.
I woke up on Saturday feeling not good, not terrible either, but not good. My head was very threatening, I was tired and my body was sore all over leaving me still unsure if I would be able to pull it together in time for the shindig. Part of me really wanted to just call and say that I wasn't feeling up to it but a bigger part of me was desperate to go. Desperate for a night out.
Honestly I don't remember the last time hubby and I had a night out. A night when we dressed nice (nothing fancy but something other than the comfy clothes that are my normal uniform). A night when my hair and make-up are as done (well, as done as I can muster). A night of socializing, stories and group laughter. It is on nights like that, when I'm pretending to be normal, that I actually forget that I'm not for a short period of time.
These moments of normality are priceless. So glad for this one over the weekend - I needed it.
Through my entire childhood and much of my 20s movie watching required a trip to the video store, where I would walk slowly up and down seemingly endless isles of video tapes trying to decide what I was in the mood for. After paying $4.00 to rent a movie I would have to return to the video store the very next day to avoid late fees. Remember the hassle? I always resented the video store for the outrageous rental fees and I hated having to make a return trip.
When the video stores switched from VHS tapes to DVDs I was forced to buy a DVD player. At the time Best Buy was giving away a free trial of Netflix with each player. The salesman explained that for just $10 a month I could get unlimited DVD rentals. Frankly it sounded too good to be true. I was paying more than twice that each month in rental fees at the video store - but it was a free trial so there was nothing to lose. I was instantly hooked and never returned to the offensively high cost of video rentals.
As much as I loved my Netflix subscription back in the day, it has become a lifeline since the onset of my chronic migraines. Not having to go out to rent and return movies makes my life so much easier. Plus now they have the streaming service so I can watch all kinds great programming instantly. Netflix has provided great service year after year and remains reasonably priced.
With the recent announcement that Blockbuster is closing their remaining stores I have to admit I'm not surprised. After years of overcharging us all, they were arrogantly slow to respond to the competition that was both forward thinking and reasonably priced. Then came Red Box, conveniently located in every grocery, gas and drug store, offering cheap DVD rentals. Essentially providing an excellent alternative to those without computer access in their homes. Blockbuster will always hold a place in history but they no longer have a role to play in our lives.
The second half of December promises to be crazy. We'll be closing on our house, moving, dealing with the holidays, plus hubby's birthday, his mom's birthday and his dad's birthday. I'm doing what I can this month to be prepared but when you add all that on top of trying to deal with my chronic migraines and fibromyalgia there is no avoiding the fact that this is a stressful time.
Accompanying this stress has been a good amount of food cravings. I'm craving all kinds of stuff I don't normally crave and, of course, it's all really unhealthy stuff. Every food commercial I see makes my mouth water, suddenly I really want those chips, fries, burgers, cookies, cakes, etc. Every whiff of deep fried goodness emanating from restaurants beckons me. I find myself wanting to just eat fried sugary crap all day. It's so unlike me.
We had it all planned. The drywall was scheduled to be put up on Monday so hubby and I put together a couple pictures and wrote a note to future owners of our house so we could place it in the framing to be encapsulated by said drywall over the weekend. We were going to take lots of pictures and even some video.
When we arrived at the house on Sunday afternoon the garage door was all jacked up and there were workmen in the house putting up the drywall and SMOKING IN OUR HOUSE!! They were not scheduled to work on Sunday. Since everyone at the builders office was off (because it was Sunday) there was no one in charge. There was no one to call and demand that this be dealt with right away.
Instead these thugs spent the day smoking all over our insulation and drywall. Both of these soft surfaces are now covered with a layer of sticky tar. I'm furious. The project manager insist that they do not allow smoking in the houses as they get built and promise it won't happen again. This is of zero comfort. After all he didn't even know the dry wall guys were there on Sunday. He certainly is not watching their contractors very close and they clearly need close supervision. Plus, damage is already done.
He tried to pass it off like it will be no big deal, as if once the paint and finishes are installed I won't be able to smell the smoke. While it's certainly true that the paint will be the stronger smell, when that wears off and the heat of summer starts warming the house that smoke and tar could break through and by then the builder will be long gone. The thing is, I can smell someone smoking in their car, 3 cars away with all my windows closed. Even if nobody else can smell it, I still do.
Between my super-ability to smell things and my extreme sensitivity to smoke this is a big deal. It might not seem like a big deal to the healthy people with a regular sense of smell but for someone like me it is. Thankfully the company took things much more seriously than the project manager. I needed to hear that there was a plan to take care of the damage done and prevent it in the future. The smoker has been fired and they are taking several steps to take care of the damage done, allowing my nose to be the judge if further action needs to be taken. I hope it works.
I give my body credit for hanging with it as long as it did. I knew I was pushing things and it was only a matter of time before my migraines and fibromyalgia knocked me out. Sure enough. Today is all about coping. Both my head and my body are in lots of pain, my stomach is upset enough that I don't want to eat yet I'm rather hungry, my blood sugar dropped when I took my rescue med so I had to eat things that upset my stomach more, I feel weak, shaky, tired and my fingers are numb.
Yep, today my only goal is to hang in, rest and distract myself with mindless TV. I've lost more days than I can count like this. So much so that it actually seems a bit routine. I have my water, remote, blanket, pillows and pills within reach from my spot on the couch. At some point I'll need to dig deep and find the internal motivation to get up and at least do my stretches no matter how much I don't feel up to it. Doesn't sound like much but on days like today it takes a surprisingly deep dig. For that reason, I'm always a little proud of myself when I can make it happen.
Today might be a real difficult day, but it is only on days like this that I get the opportunity to dig deep and feel a sense of accomplishment about it. I won't go so far as to say that I'm lucky to have so many of these opportunity filled days but I like to think these days are not total losses.