Wednesday, May 27, 2015

Whimsy Wednesday

I quickly became a big fan of Unbreakable Kimmy Schmidt, a Netflix show by Tina Fey. If you've already been watching, you probably can't get that theme song out of your head. If you haven't been watching, take a listen. WARNING, it's like potato chips, you can't listen just once.

Have a great day!

Thursday, May 21, 2015

A Review of Cake From Someone Living With Chronic Pain

The movie "Cake" just came out on DVD this week and we were lucky enough to snag it on Netflix right away. This is that Jennifer Aniston film about a woman living with chronic pain. I've been looking forward to seeing what Hollywood would do with this opportunity since December when Ms. Aniston was promoting the film.

Aniston plays a woman named Claire, who has been in a terrible accident that claimed the life of her young son and left her scarred, living with chronic pain and apparently resulted in the demise of her marriage. While Claire's pain is a constant presence, the movie is about grief much more than it's about living with chronic pain.

Let me begin with what I liked about the movie:

1. I felt like Aniston did a good job.

2. The character Claire was layered and complex - the way real people are.

3. Claire was doing the best she could even though she wasn't usually doing good. Been there.

4. We got to see that moment when her MINDSET changed from viewing her pain as acute to viewing her pain as chronic. As we all know, it can take a long time for the mind to make that shift.

Now, this is what I didn't like about the movie:

1. The chronic pain support group at the beginning of the film is portrayed as a bunch of people who can't understand what Claire is going through. They decide to kick her out of the group, which gives the audience the impression that her response to all her trauma and pain is atypical, abnormal and unjustified. I'm not saying everyone will react like Claire but I certainly get where she is coming from and I think a group of fellow chronic pain sufferers would too.

2. The audience was NOT given the opportunity to really join Claire on her journey because so much of her story was either doled out in small bits towards the end of the film or left out entirely. This made the film slow and, worse, it left the arc of the character wide open to misunderstanding. I got it, but then again I've been living with chronic pain for 9 years. I don't think the average person will learn or better understand anything about grief or chronic pain from watching "Cake".

3. The film was 1 hour and 40 minutes of missed opportunities to tell an interesting, complex story about a woman who is dealing with tremendous obstacles. It sort of glossed over things, giving us glimpses but never a good hard look. I was left feeling quite unsatisfied.

Overall I didn't like the movie. It wasn't terrible or anything, it just wasn't that good. Honestly, if I wasn't living with chronic pain I probably would have turned it off about a half hour in. Opting instead to watch one of the many shows hubby and I are making our way through on Netflix.

Wednesday, May 20, 2015

Whimsy Wednesday

If you've been watching Downton Abbey on PBS over the years, you have probably discovered the delightful humor of the Dowager Countess of Grantham. Here is a sample for your amusement.

Have a great day!

Tuesday, May 19, 2015

Some Thoughts on Life and Pain

From time to time I get thinking about the variety of experiences and milestones in life; things like getting a driver's license for the first time, graduating high school, starting college, graduating college, getting a first job, getting engaged, getting married, having babies, moving, purchasing a house, dying, etc. Somehow, when these things are happening in our own lives it's fairly consuming and a pretty big deal. But then I get to thinking how these things are always happening to someone, somewhere.

Life is sort of Ecclesiastical in that way. Is that even a word? I'm not sure but let's pretend it is. What I mean is while our individual lives may have seasons, humanity is experiencing all of them, all of the time. Someone is always getting married, having a baby, moving, purchasing a house, going on a first date, etc.

I like thinking about all these things happening together. The balance of life and death, building and tearing down, planting and harvesting, growing and shrinking, hot and cold, good and bad. Nothing is entire and I find that thought comforting.

I guess on some level it puts my pain in context. No matter how much it may dominate any given day of mine, well, I know it's just part of a much bigger give and take in this world. I'm playing my part in humanity. It's a small part, but no smaller than any other.

Friday, May 15, 2015

Gearing Up For A Huge Project

Hubby has gone back to school to work towards a master's degree. Wasn't sure if I had mentioned this before or not. I bring it up now only to say that he just finished up for the semester and will have a few weeks off before his summer class begins. That means we have a few weeks to get as much painting done as possible.


This project feels overwhelming. Our main living space has vaulted ceilings so we'll need to use the ladder on almost all of the walls. 

You'll have to excuse the mess. All of our project supplies are hanging out on the floor, ready for use this weekend.

I've already painted the lower nook, where the rabbit resides.
Before we can even begin painting we will need to sand and dust off the walls (thanks to more sloppy workmanship from our builder); climbing up, sanding what our arms can reach, climbing down, moving the ladder over a couple feet, adjusting the height of the ladder and climbing back up. We'll have to do this hundreds of times before we even start the painting. Then it will a matter of climbing up and trying to edge along the ceiling. 

I can't bear the thought of tackling this whole space so I divided the walls into what I think are doable weekend projects for us. Assuming I can manage my migraines during the weekends. There is only one space that vexes me - this strange shelf space above the rabbit's nook.

I've referred to the pictures we took during construction and discovered there is some wood structure under the drywall shelf but I'm not convinced it has the strength of hold a person - even a person as light as me. I figure our best bet is to buy some ply wood to place on the shelf to distribute the weight but I'm still nervous about getting up there and standing on a chair to do the detail around the ceiling. 

Of course, before we can even start on the walls we have to paint the ceiling. The idiots who installed the drywall on the ceiling didn't do a good job. Every seam was visible so they came out to fix it as part of our guarantee on the house. Unfortunately they refused to paint after (that's a whole separate issue). 

Our ceilings are NOT actually blue. Darn white balance was off on the camera.
But you can still see the streaks of mud that need painting.
So this weekend we are going to paint the mud streaks on the living room and kitchen ceilings. Hubby will have to do most of the actual ceiling painting but the prep work is a two person job as furniture needs to be moved and all the floors needs to be covered.

I know this will take much longer than hubby's break between classes but I think we can get it done by the end of the summer. At least that's the goal. I'll keep you posted.

Wednesday, May 13, 2015

Whimsy Wednesday

I saw this earlier this week on the news and just had to share it. So darn sweet.

Have a great day!

Tuesday, May 12, 2015

#Fibromyalgia Awareness Day - Some Thoughts

Today is Fibromyalgia Awareness Day. Since I can't find any sort of online activities to participate in, I've decided to just do a blog post about it.

I was diagnosed with Fibromyalgia in 2011. Like most people, I had spent several years going to appointments, being told all my tests were normal, being looked at like a hypochondriac and feeling increasingly frustrated that nobody could see what was happening to me.

Fibromayalgia is tricky; the pain moves around, the symptoms flare up and calm down (sometimes for no apparent reason), the brain fog, the trouble sleeping and restless sleep. All of that, plus the invisible nature and continued lack of widespread recognition/understanding of it among medical professionals, tends to mess with your head a bit. Is it any wonder those of us with fibromyalgia are more likely to have depression and anxiety?

I'm not taking any medication to treat my fibromyalgia, which isn't to say that I'm not treating it at all. Instead I control my symptoms through adjustments from the DO I see every month and lifestyle changes. Doing things like pacing myself, being careful about how I move my body and keeping up with regular gentle exercises all help to reduce the worst of the fibro beast.

I will never be able to just go and do as I please without paying a sizable physical price. For me, that is what it boils down to.

But I can go and do some things - sometimes. I wish people understood that when I go out in the world it doesn't mean I'm all better. Sometimes I just need to pull myself together, smile and enjoy myself. Managing the many symptoms of my fibromyalgia and chronic migraines is a very intense job. One I can never really leave but, if I want to hang onto my sanity, I must pull my chair back from time to time and focus on having some fun.

Thursday, May 7, 2015

A Lifetime Lived in Pain is Doable

Over the years I've been overwhelmed, on many occasions, by the thought of living the rest of my life with all this pain. In the early years the mere thought of it was so painful and impossible that I refused to believe a cure wasn't in the next prescription preventative my doctor would recommend. Slowly, I began to realize, short of a miracle, I was going to be dealing with this assortment of pain and other symptoms for the rest of my years.

The fact is, my chronic migraines and fibromyalgia are with me all the time.

What I've learned is that it's doable.

A lifetime lived in pain is not only survivable but livable. Looking back over the 9 years since my pain went chronic I've had many laughs, many adventures, many great experiences. I've lived. No doubt, it's been hard. I've had a whole lotta challenges and plenty of very dark moments but I've still lived. Somehow in the midst of all this pain and crap life has carried on.

The evidence has been piling up and now I'm certain - I CAN
do this. It's not my first choice or anything but I can do this.

No matter what, this world still offers beauty, goodness, hope - life.

I'm here, right now, determined to live the best I can. Thankful for my life and for all the blessing around me.

Wednesday, May 6, 2015

Whimsy Wednesday

I love it when Will Ferrell does his Harry Caray impression - so funny. Here is one for your enjoyment.

Have a great day!

Tuesday, May 5, 2015

Looking At Pain From A Different Perspective

After spending all morning yesterday tending to our dog's health care needs and because I need to spend all morning today dealing with a new doctor I thought I would republish a post from March 6 2012. This post is about a documentary I saw that highlighted how different cultures around the world deal with pain.

A New Perspective on Pain

Recently I watched a program on Netflix called Medicine Men Go Wild.

In this series of 4 episodes twin doctors from London go all over the world exploring medicine outside the traditional. The 2nd episode was of particular interest to me as it was all about pain.

The doctors went to a few different places where pain medications are not available and so are not used. It seems there was almost a cultural difference in the way these people approached pain. They seem to accept it and because of that it isn't as much of a bother to them.

Obviously they were talking about acute pain, not chronic pain and there certainly is a difference between the two. Never-the-less it got me thinking about pain, my pain. I've certainly had to adjust over the years to a certain level of pain because it's always present to some degree. These days it is only the really bad pain that gets much attention. Is this the same kind of thing? Is it possible, with time, the level of pain that I can adjust to will go up? Is it possible that in the future, with enough mediation and such, I could accept my migraines the way I accept the daily chores of life for example?

It would be interesting to see how these same groups of people cope with chronic pain within their communities and cultures.