“Sometimes the best goal you can set is just to get out of bed every day. If you can succeed at this, then other things become possible.”
― Cynthia Patterson
Goals. I set goals quite often. The question for me is never about setting them, it’s about keeping them. And keeping them is rarely about my desire to keep them, I usually run into something that I feel at the time is totally unavoidable which forces me to quit this goal or that goal. Writing is always one of those goals. I used to write faithfully for this blog every Tuesday. Then I wrote ad hoc. Then, when my health became a speedbump I wrote even less. Sadly, it is when I should have been writing more. Finally, came the day I was to change the world of my blog upside down. I decided I should not post a new blog until the site was perfect.
The site will never be perfect. No site is ever perfect.
That was the goal of moving the site to a place where I could fiddle with it at any time. I could try things, I could make “improvements”. I could fix those improvements when I realized they were anything but improvements. My goal was to get more active in my blogging, not just write and upload, but to turn this site into a living and breathing extension of myself.
Now we come to this little diddy, this essay written back in January. I had not written in so long I needed to get something out that gave you an idea of where I was, what I was up to, but stick to my usual brand of writing. What is that brand? It is that I am always trying something, always aiming toward getting better, healthier, more #ChronicallyAwesome. If I take the short or long path to get there, that is what I am trying to do.
This is a bad news/good news post. Since it is has been so long since I have written, I will remind regulars, and inform new readers: I am an essayist more than a blogger. That is code for “I write long pieces.” That being said, here we go!
November and December are a blur. I did have a most wonderful Thanksgiving morning. It began with our attendance at the annual Long Beach Turkey Trot. No, I did not run. We were there to see a friend and his family participate in their family tradition. The entire family, big and small takes part in the best way that they can. Some walk, some run, some ride in strollers for this fundraising event for C.A.T, which raises money for community projects throughout the city.
After the event we travelled to the home of our friend’s friend where at least forty people, probably more, meetup yearly and enjoy a fabulous Mexican breakfast. Having never met this family, I was overwhelmed by their graciousness. Seeing my cane, they immediately got me a stool, which they sat almost right in the middle of the room so that I did not miss a thing.
I met so many brilliant and amazing people that morning. I did not sit by and pull into my turtle shell. I talked. I have this nasty habit of getting nervous when I talk, and therefore I forget to ask people about themselves enough. Goal: ask others about themselves and actively listen. Accomplished! By the time we left, our bellies were full; I was all talked out, and of course very tired. We arrived home “fat and happy” and truly amazed at what was the very act of the holiday spirit: Giving, and giving thanks.
The rest of the day was spent doing just that, “resting”. We watched movies and had an easy dinner. No guests, no dishes, no fuss. Everyone in my family was busy with other events. I don’t know what or where. I seem to be persona non grata. I was disappointed, but why let it get me down… much. Goal: don’t let the choices of others influence how I feel about me: almost there, almost.
Now we had the countdown to Christmas. My energy was low, but my pain wasn’t awful. I wasn’t doing much, but I was getting out of the house to go to my therapist and my pain doctor. I had been trying to work with my pain doctor to get a PStim (a sort of supercharged acupuncture device that is placed behind the ear for three to four days, and lowers pain and helps with depression for sometimes up to a year), but my insurance was not covering it. I was also working with them on getting a rib and spine brace to help with dislocations. Again, my insurance was not cooperating. I was getting more than a little frustrated.
My therapist, also not covered by insurance was giving me weekly goals intended to get me out of the house. I found reasons that I could not, and sometimes I just would not accomplish these goals. What could she do? Regardless, no one beats me up for things I have screwed up more than me. Those who know me can take advantage of this by beating up on me to make my punishment double, or know that I am making myself miserable on the inside anyway.
My depression, which was creeping in; ok that’s a lie, my depression had arrived, I was miserable and it was only enhanced by all of this frustration. My migraines were increasing, and the closest I came to getting out of bed was to move from my bed to the couch. Tension in the house was rising. My birthday was approaching.
I had not been out of the house for extended periods of time and I knew that for my birthday that I wanted to go out to dinner. I had a specific restaurant I wanted to go to, and one particular friend, Jim, that I wanted to have with us. I managed to get dressed, which was getting harder. Not only sitting on my ass, but the impact of my medications had put me above not just my desired weight, but the desired weight of those in my life who had said that the year earlier I was “looking like a corpse.”
Bless Brian for the surprise gift of new clothes. I had a few mix and match items that turned my wardrobe into something all new. This was a lift that got me getting dressed before I moved from bed to couch. That was truly something positive. I say in the tips to being Chronically Awesome that we should at least get dressed every day. I don’t seem to practice what I preach.
When I finally decided to do my Christmas shopping, I knew it was going to be online. That’s always how I do it. So easy. Click and wait.
Brian and I had decided to forgo shopping for each other, so that left my daughter and her boyfriend (who were coming over on Christmas day, YAY!), and my parents. My mother can be easy to shop for, we have similar taste. My dad, and gifts: mission impossible. As a brewery owner, he has made things a bit easier for me. I try to get him food that will go well with his beer, and something that will last beyond the food.
My parents live in a hard to reach area. No matter when some company says something will arrive, add a day or two to that. Well, it wasn’t until I finished out the order was I informed that the best of each of their gifts were backordered. Late and later and they were leaving on a trip.
My daughter’s gift was to arrive on Christmas Eve, and being that I ordered her boyfriend’s gift from Etsy, who knew. Kelsey’s gift arrived at 12:35 on Christmas Eve, PERFECT! Then, with no notice to those of us expecting packages, the desk downstairs closed at 1:00 PM not to be touched again until the next business day. A day she would be an hour down the freeway, at work. A day I would normally back to the bed/couch rotation.
That sent Brian and me out to the shops late on Christmas Eve to the few places open. Quickly, to Target for a few little things. Then, off to CVS for stocking stuffers. This was productive however exhausting. Did I have wrapping paper? Yes, two unopened rolls. Could I wrap anything? Not by 10:00 AM the next morning with a house still to be cleaned.
Kelsey arrived at about 9:45. I had an apple pie to bake, a leg of lamb to roast, cheese and crackers and other snacks to eventually get out. I found that they had not had breakfast, so we sent Brian out for bagels.
I kicked into overdrive. Kelsey peeled the apples and I got the pie baked. I got the food prepped and Brian took “the kids” out for a tour of our area. That was my naptime. They seemed to have fun and I really needed the rest. I woke up before they returned.
Have you noticed that in each instance of someone saving my day, Brian is the one who is there? I just thought I would point that out.
We opened gifts, we ate, and we watched Doctor Who. It was fun. I was sad to see them go. I dozed on the couch and we chatted about the fun we had. I can’t wait for them to come back.
That weekend we had company again. Daniel and Victoria came by for a visit and we went out for sushi. Playa Vista is a small town and we were able to walk to dinner. Brian had to work, so it was just the three of us, we had a great time.
That was my last day outside until January 17th. That’s December 28th to January 17th. I received a generous Christmas gift as well as a bonus that allowed me to get some things I needed, and to do a massive grocery store purchase. I was invigorated. I suddenly knew that many things that stressed me were going to be ok.
I started cooking again, and very importantly I got new shoes. With new shoes I was able to start walking the dogs again. I made a sort of “resolution” just a couple of days late. I resolved to walk once a day.
A good deal of my pain had been returning and while my pain doctor changed one of my meds, I had to do my part and walk. My leg had been cramping intensely and I was waking every two hours again. I was up with pain at 4:30 every morning and I was sleeping many more hours a day than was healthy. (Total sleep in 24 hours should never be more than 10 less than 5.) I got a good couple of days of walking in and broke my toe. I walked one day on the broken toe, and skipped a day. On the skipped day I vacuumed the holy heck out of the house.
I am starting to make plans again. I am thinking of the future of the foundation. I am watching and listening as the pros on my team, my dear Brian and the magnificent Jim have made great strides to position us where we have to be.
Also, I have made an appointment at a brand new general practitioner that happens to deal with women’s issues, depression and anxiety. I am excited to ditch this nonfunctioning antidepressant and get something new (or retry something old). I am going to get some other ignored health maintenance items cared for, and get myself back on my feet.
I am enrolled in the Affordable Care Act, but Covered California has yet to let me choose a plan. I am just going to have to buy a plan privately until they answer my call. Fortunately, my new doctor and my pain doctor have good cash patient plans.
I have decided to become about “taking care of business” instead of “sleeping through life”. Even if life is physically or mentally painful, life is there and it is passing me by as I sit here. I have a beautiful daughter, wonderful friends, a growing foundation. I have learned that I am my own best caregiver and I need to step up to that role.
The best thing to come out of this other than lessons about myself is that I have started reading again. I used to read voraciously. I lost my ability to concentrate on reading, but now I am reading again, and I am blowing through books as though they are going to stop writing if I stop reading. Mostly, I am reading from the Kindle app on my new Kindle Air (a gift to myself which is really from my parents), but sometimes I grab a good old fashioned hardcover like now, I am reading “S” by J.J. Abrams and Doug Dorst.
If I can pass on any advice from what this past Fall and Winter taught me, I can tell you this: only you know your limits. Only you know when you need to rest and when you are ready to shine. While I have not fully removed the bushel from my flame, I have grabbed it by both hands and tugging with all of my might. If it were an easy thing then none of us would be under this shroud. None of us would sit by the side of the black dog of depression.
All good things in all good time my friends, just do not give up hope. As long as there is hope there is a flame to be uncovered. Surround yourself with those who have faith in you, those who are positive about your recovery, those who know that while they cannot fix you, they can love you. And, lastly; don’t be afraid to ask for what you need.