Gratitude for my Attitude

There is an old train trestle in town, that traverses the river just above the falls. In 1999, townspeople banded together to create a walking trail where the old line extended through the city. It affords spectacular views. It is also not easily accessed by those like myself with mobility issues.

But I am determined.

I asked everyone I know. Some said they have petitioned the city to make it more accessible, some have pointed out different ways to enter the trail, and one neighbour even offered me his motorized scooter.

Then I noticed someone in a wheelchair up on the bridge and knew there must be a way.

I drove to all the trailheads, attempted different approaches, and then…

I finally found it. A way in.

The walk challenged every one of my muscles, and a couple of times I had to push panic aside. It was so worth it!

The stroll back to the car was slow, punctuated with many stops, and all the while, I felt grateful for this spirit of mine that refuses to give up.

Creativity Is A Blessing

Ideas follow me around like little children tugging on my pant leg, begging attention. I’ve been brushing them aside, too unwell to give any them any energy, but with summer’s arrival and pending visits at Grandma’s camp, I push myself to get out the paints.

Untrained myself, I watch videos to gain knowledge and inspiration. I look for ideas the children will want to do,
and try them out to make sure they’ll work. The stack of pancakes, I discover, is easy and definitely doable with a 6 and 7-year-old.

The girls are eager to paint with Grandma, and naturally, full of their own creative ideas.

We play with the paints, and working with these uninhibited minds helps expands my own possibilities.

Each girl leaves at the end of the week with a framed masterpiece as a memento of our time together.

Sloane is a week shy of seven, and when I ask her what she would like me to paint for her birthday, she is very specific: two unicorns with the colours blue and purple.

“How on Earth do I paint unicorns?” I mention to Ric.

In his usual smart ass way, he responds: “You draw a horse with a horn on its head.”

Argh! I’ve never drawn horses before is what I meant. So I research again. This is the first attempt.

It feels wonderful to be sketching and painting again. I have one more birthday gift to attend to and then I’ve completed my year and I’ll start listening to those ideas tugging at my pant leg.

Avoidance Therapy

I just want to sleep.

Situational, my therapist calls this type of depression.

Saw my family doctor this week, and she confirmed that the skin condition could be cancer. At best, it is a rare condition that will need specialist care. It is both itchy and painful, but there can be no treatment until the biopsy gives us a diagnosis. So for now, I put up with it.

The doctor also said that my blood work indicated something going on above and beyond the M.E. She sent me with an accompanying report to emergency, and for a moment, I was hopeful that I’d get some answers, but the blood tests performed at the hospital came back as normal.

I feel like a hamster on a wheel. Four years I went through this before being diagnosed with M.E. – traipsed from one specialist to another, all with no answers.

“You’re an enigma,” the emergency doc said. I’ve heard that before.

She did say she’d order more tests on an outpatient basis, so I’m waiting again.

Wake me up when someone knows something.

(Linking up to my weekly challenge: in-between.)

Nature’s Balm

Questions flood in as evening sets, the initial shock of hearing the ‘c’ word now wearing off. I sleep little, spending way too much time with Dr. Google, without any satisfaction.

Ric is scheduled to go into town a bit later, so I take the car early and head to a new trail in our town of many. Stonetown gained its nickname from the limestone quarry here. The mined holes have been filled with water and serve as recreational landmarks. The trail here is paved and extends along the riverside.

A pair of courting cardinals dip past as I exit the car, too fast for my camera, but just the sort of serenade I need to lift my spirits. Unsure whether or not my legs will carry me very far, I am happy to see many benches a long the way.

Birdsong fills the air, no doubt in celebration of blue skies – something that has been missing for a while. Woods and running water trigger a memory from childhood, and I feel suddenly comforted. This is what I needed.

I wander in one direction and stop in awe as a party of blue jays flocks over head. Can’t ever remember seeing so many together at once.

“Please stop,” I call to the birds, “so that I might get a picture.”

Silly, I know, and it is clear that they have a collective direction, but one does eventually oblige.

A shadow passes by, and I glance up expecting to see one of the turkey vultures that have been circling. A distinctive white head and tail skirt alerts me to a much more regal presence: a bald eagle!

Sadly, I’m too shaky today for any of my eagle images to turn out, but I am confident I’ll find him again. He continues to circle as I carry on, tiring quickly. I decide to have one more sit and then leave, but as I lower myself onto the bench I see a kingfisher perched on a branch not too far away.

Of course he is gone by the time I ready my camera. Kingfishers here tend to be elusive. My eye catches a pair of birdhouses and on a pole nearby the flutter of iridescent wings – swallows.

The swallows will be my last capture for this outing.

Time to go home and get some rest.

My heart is full of gratitude.

And Then There Was Hope

Three years ago today, I dragged myself out of bed, and with the aid of my walker (and likely a wheelchair), I paid a visit to a local doctor/ practitioner of Functional Medicine.

Getting out in those days was a huge ordeal, and typically entailed a backlash that would last weeks. I was that sick. I was also desperate.

I found the notes on that early visit when searching through my archives, looking for an interesting anniversary in response to this week’s challenge.

My family doctor had cautioned me against hoping for too much, but this new doctor, soft spoken, listened to me intently, and took the time to explain, and then, we made a plan. A plan for recovery! Something I had not thought possible.

Three years ago today, I found renewed hope.

(To read the original post, click here. V.J.’s Weekly Challenge is anniversary. There’s still time to join in.)

Numbers and Chronic Illness

It’s been 5 years since illness knocked me off my feet.

Tuesday, I visited the doctor with a list of 12 symptoms to discuss. She had 4 things to cover with me. We spent 1 hour and she took 2 samples,
and set me up with 1 specialist and 3 more tests.

She gave me the second cognitive functioning test, which I scored 30/30 on, demonstrating that it is mental fatigue related to my illness and not dementia or other causing the current impairment.

Then she emailed me a link to the latest research and tips for managing this disease, with a note to make sure I watch the first video in the series recommending 6 steps to boost energy.

The video is based on circadian rhythms, recommends exposure to sunlight within 30 minutes of waking, exiting screens 1 hour before sleep, and limiting eating to 2 hour shorter window per day, among other things.

“This is a remitting and relapsing disease,” she told a discouraged me. “Go back to the basics and retrain yourself.”

The basics. Standing no longer than 7 minutes. Sitting upright, feet on floor, no longer than 15. If there is physical activity on 1 day, don’t plan anything for the next 2.

This week, I’ve challenged us to look at how numbers play out in our lives. Clearly, chronic illness can be defined by numeric patterns.

It all makes perfect sense, and should be doable, except my mind has so much more it wants to accomplish. Sigh.

(Written for V.J.’s Weekly Challenge: Numerology)

Shake Ups

The new year grabbed me in a choke hold and hog-tied me before I had a chance to even think about what it might bring. It started with a text that my mother was in hospital, followed by a harried searching of flights and anxious speculating about how I’ll get home. Me, who hasn’t ventured anywhere without an escort for over four years.

Needless to say, I made it, and even though my symptoms are flaring and I’m exhausted, I am also pleased by what this effort portends. Dare I hope for an even greater return to life?

It’s been four-and-a-half years since I was diagnosed with Myalgic Encephalomyelitis – the disease that severely disrupted my life. In almost imperceptible graduations, I have improved. This recent shake up seems to have pushed me over a line from which I can redefine myself (unless a setback is triggered, which is always a concern.)

Mom has rallied around and is currently stable. The woman is incredible. Although she says she no longer wants to live with constant pain and struggles, she keeps going – insisting on walking me to the elevator after my visits and taking her meals in the dining room.

“At least I know you love me,” she pats my arm. “No need to come back again should something happen.”

She’s more worried about me being inconvenienced than she is about her own health. Ever the mother.

I have no regrets about coming, and as cliché as it sounds, I feel as if this happened for a reason. I needed something to break me out of my comfort level and stir me up.

“It’s like I’ve been living in a bubble,” I tried to explain to Mom. “No noise, constant rest, limited interaction, and measured outings.”

“It’s not right, at your age,” was her response. “You’re young yet.”

It’s not how I ever saw my life going, for sure, always so active and involved. I wonder now if I’ll ever get some of that back.

2019 has accosted me and thrown me 1600 miles off-base, but I also have a sense that this is what I have needed to break up the waxy build up that has been molding me into an ugly complacency.

I am sixty, and if my mother’s legacy is anything to go by, I still have thirty years left of life. Time to start setting a vision for myself, I’d say.



Appearances

Testing social waters –
that cherished state of interaction –
prone to revealing too much

have been homebound,
studying life without a facilitator,
now attempting to penetrate invisibility

gathering the salvageable bits –
minimal fragments of a once whole woman,
reaching out, reconnecting, reception mixed

much has passed me by –
no amount of homework can undo
this loss of sharpness, this dependent state

as achievement focused as ever –
would go back to work – my heart space –
if illness had not deemed me redundant

must be selective in sharing –
am met with disregard, my story, like a gunshot,
causes others to duck, glaze over, lack of scarring

a disappointment for those expecting
acts of heroism – scars command respect –
metaphors telling a linear story – my journey

not marked by projected deadlines –
origins of disease unknown, defies medical
knowledge, research lacking – I am estranged

who dares to question beyond the trembling
exterior, behold the opportunity that blesses me,
witness the gift of joy that comes with re-evaluation

when character overcomes strife,
and simplicity replaces frenetic ambition –
the outcome of enrolment in this life class.

(Appearances was penned in December, 2016, after two and half years of being primarily bed bound with Myalgic Encephalomyelitis.  As I gradually gained strength, my doctor suggested that I might attempt a few social outings.  What I had to talk about, when I had been out of the loop for so long, weighed heavily on my mind, as well as the fact that I have a little known disease – difficult for others to relate to.

Featured image is an original watercolour, Dreamy Coast

I submit this edited version for my weekly challenge: character.  To participate, just clink on the link. Thanks for reading.)

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Photo a Week: Bridges

The gap between the life I’d envisioned
and this current reality is widening…
I need a bridge – not a short, low one,
but a large, expansive bridge to carry

BayBridgeSF.png

all my wishes, to facilitate movement
of passing ideals, allow for traffic flow.

sundialRedding

Or a bridge to slow me down, dialled in
to the sun’s rays, directing me toward
a new reality that encompasses change.

(For Nancy Merrill’s Photo of the Week challenge:  bridges. Featured image is from the west coast, top image is the Bay Bridge, San Fransisco, and the final bridge is the Sundial Bridge in Reading, CA.)