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.

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)

If I Knew; I’d Change It

I’m struggling with myself. It isn’t the first time, and I’m certain it won’t be the last.

There is no definable reason, and yet my emotional self tries to find blame: it’s Ric’s behaviour; it’s because I’m homesick; it’s my illness.

Rationally, I recognize that my life is full of blessings right now, and this is how depression works. It is a back and forth tug-of-rope between the logical and illogical.

I try to counter every negative thought with a positive one. When my dark self complains that I am trapped and have lost my independence, the lighter side reminds me that I have choices. When the shadows plant seeds of resentment; I fight them with affirmations of gratitude.

Today, I just wanted to stay in bed – let sleep numb the angst, but then Ric suggested a drive and I pulled myself out of it.

When I’m feeling this way, it’s one moment at a time. I distract, remind myself to keep breathing, try to eat healthy.

I feel like I’m biding my time – just waiting for this funk to lift.

Why does this happen? I read once that are hundreds of reasons for depression. Almost all of them applied at the time. Can’t remember any of them right now. Does it even matter?

This too shall pass, I am sure. For now, it’s just one of those unanswerable aspects of life.

(My weekly challenge is unanswerable. When I set the challenge, I had no idea where it would lead. I guess it’s inviting me look at my shadow.)

Confessions of Losses and Gains

Illness comes at a cost, yet even as the losses add up, there are gains.

HoneymoongolfingWith the onset of summer, I recall leisurely hours spent golfing with my husband, or friends – a pastime we so loved.  My clubs now take up residence elsewhere, these muscles unfit for the exertion required.

My tennis racquet sits dormant too – a remnant of a passion now redundant.

I miss gatherings at a pool side bar, or a downtown patio – the sound of laughter mingling with the crisp, dry burn of white wine.  My system no longer tolerates alcohol, and outings have changed with priorities.

cheers 2I am no longer the woman, whom my husband called Lucille Ball, whose sunny demeanour and fiery presence guaranteed lively repartee.  The setbacks have softened my edges, this lingering condition evoking a vulnerability that avoids noise, scents, and the overstimulation of crowds.

Where once ambition drove me, and career set precedence for aspirations, I now  live with solitude, find solace in the quiet, have donned a new lens which invites discovery.

Loss has flooded with all the force of a tidal wave, and even as I swim against the pull of despair, I am labouring to redefine purpose, self.

 

IMG_1646I confess that there has been sorrow.  I can attest to darkness.  And, yet, wrapped in all that discord there have been blessings:  awakenings.  I have discovered delight in developing a photographic eye, and the infinite pleasure of daring to express in colour.

(This post is inspired by Manic Mondays 3 Way Prompt: Confession.  Thanks to Laura for hosting.  All photos are from personal collection.  The images of me are from healthier days, when apparently I loved kiwi green.  The watercolour is a close up of a saguaro, if it was orange.)

 

Baby Turns Two

Two years ago my husband was just released from the hospital following triple bypass surgery, my daughter’s mother-in-law fell down their stairs resulting in a concussion, and our third granddaughter was born.  It was a chaotic time.

RynAugNow, I am happy to report, all are well, and the little one is more than thriving.  We all gathered at her house for a celebration, and the weather cooperated by being warm and sunny despite the forecasted rain.

Happy to snuggle with Dad, August watched as the other two girls ran through the sprinkler and then dared the slide while the water sprayed them.

How many memories do these images spark?

At the end of the day, I found the birthday girl chilling inside.

chillinwdad

Looks like summer is getting an early start this year!

 

Brief Connections

THstreamThe morning drizzle gave way to sunshine by noon and even though I’ve been tired today, I decide to take advantage of the clearing before retiring for the evening.  I grab my camera and go in search of worthy images, but my legs are useless today,  so I decide to sit instead, on a picnic table beside the stream.  I hear, before seeing, the family of geese I’ve been tracking making their way towards the water.  A I raise my camera I see movement in my peripheral vision.

The man approaching is a regular here; I see him walking past several times a day.  I raise my hand to wave.

“Do I know you?” he asks.  “I’m sorry, but I’ve had a stroke and this doesn’t work very well.”  He taps on his temple.

“I know how you feel,” I say.  “I have inflammation on the brain.  Mine’s not in the best working order either.”

MakeawishHis eyes open wider and he steps closer to me.

“I’m Ric’s wife,” I say and point to our motor home.

He nods.

“I’m photographing the baby geese.  Trying to keep track of them.”

He nods again and then steps back as if he’s in my way.

“You’re okay.”

“They grow fast.”

“Sure do.  Good thing kids don’t grow that fast.”

He smiles, then blurts out:  “The hardest thing is that I feel like such a burden.”

He has caught me off guard – hit a nerve.  I glance at him and see that his eyes have filled.  My tears come too.

“I do, too,” I croak.

“I came here thinking I could make a difference,” he continues.  “I wanted to help out, and now I rely fully on my sister.”

orangehammocks“We are lucky to have someone who loves us enough to care.”

“We are.”

“All we can do is focus on our progress – even if it seems awfully slow.”

“Oh for sure.  They thought I was dead – had to force feed me.”  And then:  “I’m sorry about that.  I’m over it now.”

“You’re doing well,” I say.  “I see you walking every day.”

“I made it through the winter,” he says, still fixated on his own story.  “I guess that is something.”

“It sure is!”

“I was here all alone, too.”

“Wow.  That is something. Good for you.”

He thanks me for my time and walks away.  I linger and take a few more pictures of the goslings, then limp my way back to our home.

Everyone has a story.  Everyone is battling something. The best way we help one another is just to listen.