The Winter of My Discontent

Hello blog friends.  The absent one has returned at long last.  The writing muscles are a tad out of shape, but the words are banging around in my head, begging to come out, so let’s see what happens.   The headphones are feeding me some lovely tunes, a fresh cup of tea is working its magic, I’ve enlarged the text a tad (quit forgetting to make an appointment with the optometrist, woman!), and off we go.

I tried to write a post several times over the past months, but trashed each effort before I hit publish.  Spilling the really intimate details of my life all over the internet has never been my thing, nor has been the writing of deliberately vague posts.  So, I decided that it was best to just stay quiet until I got things sorted out.   I still don’t want to say very much at this point, but I’ll discuss it when the time is right.  For now I will say that I’ve made some really tough decisions, big changes are happening, and they will continue to happen over the next while.  It’s terrifying in some ways, but also very exciting.  I’ve chosen happiness, at long last.  Not the happiness of everyone around me, but my own happiness.  Not choosing it a long time ago has cost me dearly, and I’m not willing to give any more.    When you get to the point where you look in the mirror and you barely recognize the person looking back at you, life needs to change.   Life isn’t about being a martyr, or keeping up appearances.  There are enough actresses on the stage and screen, so I’ll leave the Oscar-worthy performances to them now.   When your heart says, “enough”, you need to listen, and you need to act.

I knew that things had to change late last year, but a health scare in January was the final straw.  It had all of the classic characteristics of a heart attack, but fortunately turned out to be just complete exhaustion.  I knew that I had been overdoing it, but there was no other option.  Or so I thought.  As I lay on a stretcher in the hospital, having a load of tests done throughout the night,  I finally saw the light.  Not the white light, thank goodness, but the one that makes you wake up and give yourself a mighty shake.  If it had been a heart attack and my life had ended that night, what a massive waste it would have been.   I have things to do, dreams to fulfill, and adventures to experience, so what am I waiting for?  We only get one chance at life.

Having a chronic illness does make life a bit harder, but it’s just an inconvenience, not a reason to give up the things that really matter.  Since that night, I’ve treated the CFS with the respect that  it deserves, and there has been a noticeable difference.  Feeling happier in general, and being optimistic and excited about the future,  have definitely helped me feel better, too.  The past few weeks haven’t been as great, with the pain level reaching new heights, but the weather has been pretty awful and I’m not sleeping well.   Pain interferes with sleep, and fatigue ramps up the pain, so it’s a bit of a vicious cycle.  I could go on medication again for the pain and sleep issue, but I just finished losing forty pounds, and I’d rather not regain the thirty that were due to the medication.  I’m tired enough without hauling all of that extra weight around again.  It’s also nice to look in the mirror and not be horrified.    The new wardrobe boosts the spirits, too.   I’ll never love shopping, but having to buy new clothes for the right reason definitely makes it more fun!

Huge thanks to my daughter for doing a major overhaul on my blog design.  I’m sorry that it went to waste for a few months, but I’m back now and I’ll make good use of it.    I would have never chosen that profile photo, or the one on my About page, but they’re staying.     My archives were in need of some sorting out before, but the design changes really made a mess of them.  So I’ll have a look at them and decide whether or not they’re worth trying to salvage.  I have them saved elsewhere, so they won’t be lost if I delete them here.   The photos that matter are on my Flickr account, which I will add back to the sidebar.

If anyone is still out there, thank you for hanging around.  If you’re just discovering my blog with this entry, welcome, and please come back.  I’ll do my best to make it worth your while.  🙂

A Blank Page

Half a year has passed since my last blog post, and what a half year it has been.  Too much has changed to go back and pick up where I left off, and someone very wise was absolutely correct when she suggested that it was time for a completely new start, completely on my terms.  I might move some archives in time, but for now, no.  I’m not that person anymore, and I’ve lost the desire to keep trying to bring her back.   Life as we’ve known it for over twenty years is coming to an end, so what better time could there be to start a new chronicle of our journey?  Well, my journey, I guess, since it’s my blog, but I don’t travel alone, so…!

Our physical environment is going to be completely different by this time next year (hopefully), and our heads and hearts are already in a new place.  The chain of events that led to this enforced life overhaul has been kind of awful, but the eventual outcome should be pretty darned marvellous!   For a while I was wondering if we’d ever find a way out of the negative vortex that was sucking us down, but one evening, when Daughter and I had both dropped from utter exhaustion, she threw an idea out for consideration, and the sun came out from behind the clouds … literally.  I’m not superstitious or into “signs”, really, but there was no ignoring that one. 🙂  We’re going home, both literally and metaphorically, and oh man, it feels good!  I don’t hate the big city, and we needed to come here when we did, but it’s not where we’re meant to be for the rest of our lives.  My heart has been quietly calling me home for such a long time, but I had to tell it to wait until the others heard the call for themselves, too.    The comparative peace and quiet will do us all a world of good, and quality of life should increase tremendously.  Of course you’ll be privy to every step of our new adventure, including the occasional bit of panic about how on earth we’re going to pull this off.  These days I’m doing well if I can make a meal, so packing up a house, cleaning it, redecorating from top to bottom before it goes on the market, then moving hours away, is so daunting that I can’t even let myself look at the big picture.  When things feel right, though, they always happen, somehow, so I’m trying not to fret.  Much.  Okay, I fret rather a lot,  but I still remember to take deep breaths, so it’s all good.  Mostly.

As for this new blog, I had come to really dislike the title of the old one, so chose carefully this time.  The other one was a cute in-joke all those years ago between then teenaged Daughter and yours truly, but Shakespeare wasn’t all that kind to women in his work, and especially not in that particular play, so the feminist in me was starting to rail against it something awful.  I can’t seem to get away from literary references, though, and I really, really have a soft spot for the works of Thomas Hardy.  There are many quotes that I could have chosen, but this one has spoken to me since I first met Tess, as a teenager.  It’s also a way of making amends for being so brutal on her in an essay written while studying the book in school.  I was dealing with some really big stuff at that point, all of which I had to figure out on my own, as per usual, so I wasn’t in the mood to be kind to a girl who wouldn’t stand up for herself and take charge of her own life.  I argued my point convincingly enough to get an excellent mark on the essay, but the teacher did remark that it was a tad out of character for me to be so unkind.  Oops. 🙂  Of course, having reread the book a few times in adulthood, I can see that I was rather harsh, so this will ease my conscience.  The actual blog address was selected to give my poor loyal blogging buddies a break.  Now,  if I get restless and want to change things up again, there will be no need to change the url.  Promise!  Well, unless I self-host, which is a distinct possibility if I can hit my groove again, but that’s a minor tweak.  My tech advisor should also be able to remember this url, should I need her to do some techy stuff for me.  😉

There’s so much to talk about from the past six months, and I’ll go into more detail about a couple of things in future posts.  But for now, here are the brief highlights:

– A major CFS relapse started just before Christmas, but it really picked up steam in January and I was knocked back to pretty much square one again.  Eight and a half years of  hard-won progress gone, just like that.  Which happens to lots of people, so I’m not a special case, but it’s a tough thing to deal with, especially when it changes one’s prognosis to pretty much hopeless.  Daughter lost a lot of ground over the winter, too, so she’s in the same boat.  But now we know what we’re facing, and can adjust lifestyles and such accordingly.  It’s kind of a relief, in an odd way, after all of these years of uncertainty, but it would have been nice if things had gone the other way!

– On a happier note, I celebrated my fiftieth birthday mid-January and can honestly say that it was rather painless.  Just being alive suddenly seems like a pretty awesome thing, so hey, I can rock 50 with the best of them!  I considered rocking the grey hair, too, but changed my mind after I saw the extent of the grey, er solid white.  I feel like I’m eighty years old on a good day, so seeing a younger being in the mirror helps on the bad days.   However, it’s stupid to be dumping chemicals on my head when CFS gives one chemical sensitivity, so I’m considering the natural look again.  Maybe by my next birthday…

– Many of you already know this, but for those with whom I’ve not been in touch for a while, and for new readers, the biggest impetus for the above-mentioned life overhaul  occurred on March 8th when The Mister had a heart attack.  There was absolutely no warning that he had cardiac problems of any kind, so it was a major shock for all concerned.  There should have been plenty of warning, judging by what was found when they had a look at his heart, but for whatever reason, he had defied the norm.  Luckily I was right there when it happened, otherwise he’d not be here with us now.  We got the best outcome that anyone could hope for under the circumstances, so feel extremely fortunate.  He’ll never know all that happened that day, but I’m not going to ever forget it.  Especially the moment when I felt his heart stop.  It’s astonishing how much can go through one’s mind in a short period of time, but luckily I also felt his heart start beating again, so most of those thoughts were for naught.  Recovery from such things can be frustratingly slow for the patient, but he’s doing very well and should get back to almost his old self in time.  There are restrictions on his activity for life now, though, so that really put the throttle to getting out of house and into apartment.  We had already come to that decision based on my health status early in the year, but didn’t feel a huge rush to get there.  Now it’s doctor’s orders for ASAP, so no putting it off.

Like I said, I’ll get into some of this in more detail another day, but for now this is more than enough for both writer and reader!  Welcome to the new digs, and thank you for your patience during my long silence.  I’ve missed you!

The Actual, for Real This Time, Return of the Shrew

I didn't get summer pictures of the garden on here, so have some glorious autumn colour instead, courtesy of a local florist shop. No special occasion, he just knows how much I love autumn colours.

Right, let’s try this again, shall we?

I think it only fair to warn you that blogging can be dangerous to one’s health.  Apparently.  As stated in the July post, I was doing much better, after a rough first part of the year, but the minute I posted said positive news on my blog, it all went south again.  So, you’ll forgive me if I don’t send any further declarations of that nature out into the ether, yes?   Thus, I shall just declare myself officially back in the world of blogging again, and leave you to draw your own conclusion about the circumstances allowing me to be here.  Okay?  Okay!

I’m in the process of preparing our Thanksgiving feast, but I just poured myself a cup of thoroughly awesome coffee and thought that I’d get a few words up here while consuming said cup of deliciousness.  I had given up “real” coffee for a couple of years, and have only been back to a daily cup of it for the past couple of weeks, so the novelty factor is still there.  Even expensive decaf can’t hold a candle to a cup of the proper stuff!   Stimulants of any kind are technically a no-no with CFS, but whatever.  A little caffeine kick allows me to be functional for a few hours with no major payback thus far, so I’m going with it.

I’m not going to go into chapter and verse about what happened over the summer, but suffice it to say that it was one of the most serious relapses to date.  There was probably no one big reason for it, but obviously the fact that it was our hottest summer in several years was a contributing factor.  I’ve never been a big heat lover, but it definitely exacerbates all of the CFS symptoms in a big way.  Extreme cold will, too, but not to the same extent as heat.   So, while I don’t begrudge the heat lovers their most enjoyable summer in a while, I’m hoping for a more moderate summer next year.  A bit more rain would be nice, too, but I gladly sacrificed my usually lush garden this year, knowing that the flood hit areas were getting a chance to dry out after the horrendous spring events.  Tap water does keep things alive, but they don’t really thrive, and there’s a limit on how many times I’ll watch the water metre spin around for the sake of a garden!

Things have improved a bit since the start of autumn, minus the effects of the unexpectedly hot days this past week, but the picture is now very clear.  I guess that being medicated for most of the time since this all started had allowed me to live in a little fairy tale kingdom of sorts, but that’s all gone now and reality has slapped me full in the face over the summer and autumn.  This is it, and no amount of wishing and hoping is going to make it any better.  I’ve done all that I can to try to turn this illness around, to no avail, so there’s nothing left but to just get on with life as it is.   The energy that I have right now is all that I’m ever going to have, what I can do right now is all that I’ll ever be able to do, and that’s just the way it is.

There have been a lot of things to consider, decisions to make, etc., but it feels like things are starting to fall into place now.  Much has changed and will continue to change, but most of that isn’t of interest to anyone outside of our household.  What I do need to share, though, is that this blog is going to be my primary way of staying in touch with anyone outside of my immediate family.  Facebook, too, of course,  but mostly I’ll be communicating through this blog.  Individual communication of any length remains really difficult because of the kind of thinking that it requires, and it wears me out really quickly, so letters, phone conversations, e-mails of more than a sentence or two, etc. just aren’t going to be happening.  I’ve tried and tried to force the issue, but it’s not something over which I have any kind of control, so I’ve been exhausting myself for nothing.  Just general chit chat with my husband and daughter is impossible some days, so the communication problems are very frustrating, but just something that I have to live with.

I know that a lot of people are never going to understand the situation, and that’s absolutely fine.  It used to be really important to me that everyone get it, but now it just doesn’t matter.   I know that CFS is a very hard illness to grasp, even for those of us who have it, but I’m done with feeling like I’ve done something wrong because of something that is totally out of my control.   There are those who are still convinced that I’m just being lazy and/or selfish, that I don’t care about friends and relatives any more, that I’m mentally ill, etc., etc., but I can’t do anything about that.    If I were any of those things I probably wouldn’t be as ill as I am, and I’m certainly not going to lose any sleep over that kind of nonsense.    The bottom line is simply that, no matter what the expectations of others might be, I absolutely cannot do what I used to do, cannot be what I used to be, and cannot be available to people in the same way, ever again.   End of story.

But on a happier note, as stated earlier, it’s the Thanksgiving weekend here in Canada, and our feast preparations are well under way.  The actual holiday is tomorrow, but we always celebrated on the Sunday as I was growing up, and it still feels like the right thing to do. Leftovers go better with a day of football tomorrow anyway.  At least that’s what I’m told.   The turkey is in the oven and scenting the house up ever so nicely, the pumpkin pie is in the fridge, and I’ll be starting on all of the rest of the goodies as soon as I wrap up this blog post.  It’s pretty standard fare around here on these occasions, so no need to go into all of the details.  Perhaps the one difference is that our sweet potatoes/yams are baked in just a bit of butter and salt and pepper, as opposed to the ever so popular candied yams dish.  Blech.  Yams are plenty sweet enough as they come, and the idea of adding a bunch of sweet stuff, then topping them with melted marshmallows is really unappealing.  Just one of those things, folks.  I’m not a picky eater at all, but there are certain flavour combinations that just are never going to cut it for me.  Fruit and chocolate being another, but that’s a topic for another day!

Right, the bottom of my coffee cup has appeared, so it’s time to get some other food preparations started.  I didn’t actually intend for this post to go quite the way that it has, but now it’s all out there, and that’s a probably a good thing.  I plan to be back tomorrow, but just in case I don’t make it, or you don’t, Happy Thanksgiving to all of my Canadian readers!

And yes, this blog is active again for sure this time.  You can put serious money down on it!  Probably. 😉