About Me

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I'm a mom, a wife, a best friend. Sick with CFIDS/ME/CFS and Fibromyalgia since 1975 as a result of a nasty flu while still in grad school, it wasn't until the late '80's that I received a diagnosis. Until that flu I'd never really been ill before. With each year I get progressively worse and add to the bucket load of symptoms I'm living with. I've been blessed with an incredible family and best friend who've stayed with me through my struggles as we continue to find a way out of this monstrous illness and its complications. We've tried seemingly every approach to find my way back to health. Often I think our best weapon in this undesirable and unasked-for adventure has been laughter.

Monday, January 7, 2013

Is Pacing Over-Rated?

Not my little room, but you get the idea.

It's truly amazing that in our CFIDS/ME/CFS and/or fibromyalgia world, we are never able to let our guard down.  Do so and continue ahead at your own peril.  The world, it often seems, is full of danger and you proceed as if you are in a minefield. (Can more clichés be added here?) Spontaneous acts achieve nothing, it seems, but add a bit of spice to our lives, though often at a price we're not always sure we want to pay. (Hopefully, clichés are now ended!)

I had a rough time of it last Friday.  It had been a rough week. I'd finally reached a point where I was overwhelmed by the insomnia, the migraines and dealing with the whole thyroid situation. Constant were the aches and huge pains I was experiencing and a plethora of symptoms I'd either not registered or have mercifully forgotten.  I was exhausted, too, by the fact that my painkillers were not relieving me of any of the nastiest parts of this DD and so I decided to go with Plan B, sigh.  When things are going too poorly, I get to a point where Plan B appears to be the only means of escape.

And I hear you!  What the heck is "Plan B," right?  Well, it's my version of Lamaze, the kind I started and honed as a child.  

I started experiencing migraines at an early age and ended up with a means of distracting from the pain without realizing I was doing so, or even acknowledging the pain was there in the first place.  My mom honestly never believed children get "headaches"; she was completely convinced that they only cause them.  So, I suppose my little grade school brain finally found a means of escape: do some mindless physical work to distract yourself from the pain.  As I wrote in Friday's post (link), that means of distraction turned into cleaning floors, and by the time I reached high school, I always had bright sparkling floors, be they washed and waxed or vacuumed within an inch of their lives.

Sadly, these days the only "mindless" work I can do is dust and, ironically - or according to "Murphy's Law" - it's the one household chore I absolutely abhor.  I LOVE to clean, but the DD has taken this pleasure away from me as well.  However, I thought SURELY I could dust!

And how the house needs dusting, and a bit more!  Any room near areas where our old wood floor under the old carpeting was uncovered and refinished was thick with dust, despite our previous attempts to solve this problem.  Any rooms near areas where wallpaper was taken down and then said walls spackled and sanded before being painted, are also full of dust.  We had air cleaners going, but they weren't able to accomplish much under the circumstances.  Consequently, between a few symptoms of the hypothyroidism and the dust, I was coughing an awful lot, not to mention that my voice was always hoarse.

So, on Friday I was in dire straits, a particularly bad day.  The insomnia, the thyroid, the pain, the sad look of the room where I keep my much-feared computer, the area where I put the finishing touches on my posts and often choose to tweet from was REALLY getting to me.  What could I do BUT turn lemons into lemonade, again?  It would be a risk, but talk about desperate times!  And talk about the need to feel better about things in the long-run!  Desperation was oozing out of me.

So, I decided that the books in the bookshelves needed to be dusted - thus finding what I thought was the "mindless chore" I so desperately needed.  Nothing comes easy, however. I did need to add a bit of complexity to the job by getting rid of anything on the bookshelves which wasn't a book.  I finally decided that if I couldn't pitch it, I'd go the chicken's way out: stick it into one of the kid's old rooms which is already a disaster area and thus have only one central disaster area to contend with later.

I know, it's double work in some people's eyes but I belong to the school of cleaning that thinks it's best to make one central mess to work from.  For me, perhaps precisely because of fibro-brain, it's the best approach.  Decisions are hard to make and the whole point of the exercise, after all, was to do a MINDLESS chore.  I'd already decided that the physical part be darned.

And, as is often the case with those of us with the whole CFIDS/etc and fibro fiasco life challenges, I went too far.  When hubs arrived home late from work, he ended up helping me "close up shop" for the day.  Books and all sorts of debris were all over the floor and walking through was like navigating your way through a minefield.  I might be a mountain goat who has no problems getting through, but let's just say it's a good thing hubs never joined a circus.  He'd have served well as dinner one night for the lions - after not mastering tight-rope walking.  But patience?  I have very little of it and he has it in spades.  I suppose that's part of what make us such a great team.  So floors were cleared and one section of the bookshelf was BEAUTIFUL.

As the evening progressed, I complained that my leg with the neuropathy was hurting and cramping and I then spent half the night dealing with THOSE pains in addition to the stuff I had relieved for a few hours while "just dusting."  Hubs was a bit annoyed, giving me sidewards looks that said loud and clear, "you SHOULD have been in bed resting."  I, in turn, was giving looks back to him that said, "you don't have to deal with migraines, do you?"  There was so much non-verbal communication going on that we could have written a long book from it and it wouldn't have taken much to turn it all into an unpleasant verbal conversation as well. (Joke, I think!)

So, going back for more of the "I-can’t-learn School of Irene's Science," on Saturday I decided to do yet another section of the bookshelves.  In my defense, I'll say that I hadn't slept for two days and two nights so not only was I in a desperate state but my judgment was just a TAD on the impaired side.  My foot was swollen even more, tight to almost bursting, my head was still throbbing ("throbbing," such a tiny word for what was really going on!) and I thought that the satisfaction from a job well done and a pretty room would be just the ticket to make me feel better, albeit only psychologically.  But hey!  Don't put down the psychological reinforcement and satisfaction.  Sometimes it's all you have!

After a few hours hubs arrived home.  Imagine how NOT surprised he was to see me hauling books, wiping them off, moving them from room to room, all while doing a seemingly good imitation of "Hop-Along Cassidy" because my foot was more swollen than before and putting any weight on it was close to excruciating pain.  Helping me clean up my mess, we ended up with an almost sparkling little room.

...and a surprise at the end.  To make a long story shorter (what?  This IS the short version of it all!) I ended up with cellulitis of the foot (and hands?). I'd spent so much time at the computer the day before (another Lamaze-type diversion) that the fluids built up in my legs, and then who knows what else happened?  Perhaps between the books and the manicure I gave myself, bacteria got into my system and bad magic took place.  Whatever it was, my hands were swollen to the point that I could barely bend them, my foot was swollen to the point where I started looking things up on the Internet (never a good idea when so desperate). My foot had become red, a rash had developed AND the foot that's always ice cold was suddenly hot as well.  In fact, I was shivering and running a fever.

So, moral of the story?  There's a lesson for me to be learned here, but I know myself well enough that I probably won't learn for next time, though I should.  But the joy I now feel when I see the room clutter-free and dust-free was and IS worth all the pain.  For me, it was a wise investment as hubs shakes his head at what he considers to be my insanity.  But a pretty room can never be underestimated as a healing power.  Now when I go to the feared computer, I get great satisfaction seeing bookshelves that are full of old friends I've not seen in ages.  The air cleaner has worked much magic in getting rid of the dust that was stirred up, despite the best dusting cloths. I can breathe clean air, not sanded-down air when I come into the room.

And, most importantly, when it comes down to healing: I had a "marathon sleep" of 12 hours. Yippee!  Really!  With the help of an anti-inflammatory and the antibiotic the swelling has come down enough where it isn't pain off the charts.  The fever is gone, the rash is on its way out, though my skin DOES have a reptilian look to it, the scaly look from the swelling and fever, a classic reaction to what went on.  The blue-black hue has left my nail beds.  I can see that things will soon be right with the world.

But sometimes a girl's gotta do what a girl's gotta do, despite the cost.  As long as everything is capable of healing - that is, I'm not at risk of losing any more body parts - I'm thrilled I took the risk and made some headway into a huge project.  I've said it often enough: sometimes to survive, you need to come out of the normal protective shell you're forced to live with.  Sometimes you just can't keep calculating every step you take and every move you make.  Sometimes fighting this CFIDS and fibro animal is not rest but a feeling of accomplishment and that you've had your way, not allowing the illnesses to defeat.  Pacing, I think, is simply too over-rated.  There!  I've said it, and THAT in and of itself makes me feel better.

As always, I hope that all are doing their very best only better.  (As if fibro-logic is ever going to win with me!)  I wish my old Russian Orthodox camp buddies and my relatives a Merry Christmas - we're always a bit out of sync with the rest of the world.  Ciao and paka!

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