Fallout

The fallout of my overdoing it yesterday, in addition to the nasty weather, is the pain and fatigue I’m having today. That is life with fibromyalgia. You do what you can when you have the energy and then pay for it later.

Sounds familiar..

 

Written for SoCS. Thank you, Linda G. Hill, for the prompt. the book I used is Fallout by Sara Paretsky.

Fibromyalgia, Poodles and a Winter Bride

Pardon my absence. It’s been an uphill battle lately to keep my act together.

Winter is hard for me as a fibromyalgia sufferer because of changes in the weather. If the barometric pressure drops below 29.90 or the humidity gets to 60% or less, I’m in pain. My pain management doctor agreed to start me on LDN (low dose naltrexone), a treatment that is increasingly used to treat autoimmune diseases such as MS, Crohn’s disease and fibromyalgia. I’ve taken it for a couple of months, but it may take as much as a year for my system to adjust for the greatest relief and benefit as I gradually titrate my dosage up.

Doctors use naltrexone, in doses more than ten times higher, to treat opiate addiction because it nulls the opiate. Which means, of course, that I can’t use opiate pain medicines while I’m using LDN and nothing else helps much with fibro pain. So I’m gritting my teeth, swallowing Tylenol or ibuprofen when I can’t take it any longer or can’t sleep because of the pain, and wading through each day hour-by-hour.

My mood hasn’t been the greatest either, but not just because of the pain and depression. Christmas is difficult for me without any children or grandchildren of my own. Even before my mother passed away, the best Christmases were those where I was around children on Christmas Day, sometimes being Santa’s helper the night before. Seeing the wonder and joy on their faces made me feel that same wonder again—at least for a little while.

My nieces and nephews are grown now, some with children of their own, but everybody does their own thing. Since mother’s passing, we no longer have family Christmas gatherings. Maybe that’s partly because nobody can bear the thought of a Christmas gathering without her presence. Oh, crap! I can’t even write this without crying!

******

The Poodles: (l-r) Erica, McKenna, Samantha and Breanne

The brightest part of this month, and the winter, so far occurred because of one of my lovely nieces (above). These are only four of my many beautiful nieces. I don’t know exactly how or when they became known collectively as “The Poodles”, nor do I care. But these particular young women are amazing. Two of them have stories of miracles that I plan to post next year when I’ve gotten all the dates and facts straight and double-checked by them.

As of Saturday, December 5th, three of The Poodles are married women. That evening I saw Erica marry the love of her life. I can honestly say I have NEVER attended the wedding of a more beautiful bride, and I’ve got some beautiful nieces and friends. Her face shined with a beauty that evening that was not only a physical but an inner beauty.

Before

Erica and Michael about 18 months before the wedding. I jokingly refer to him as Erica’s mountain man because of his beard, which he refused to cut.

OMG1a

June 11, 2015 – The proposal, in public, at the end of the first recital for Erica’s twirling studio, Inside Out. I had planned to go, but I got sick, dang it!

OMG2

Michael hadn’t told anyone his plan. As you can see, Erica was literally floored. At this point, I’m told, Michael was telling her “No, baby, you’re supposed to be standing up.”


On the day of the wedding Erica was so calm and relaxed that she and her twirling students marched in a Christmas parade less than four hours before she was to say her vows. Throughout the ceremony she smiled, laughed and whispered—until time to say their vows, when she almost broke into tears. Michael was so quiet, solemn and still that I was worried he’d locked his knees and was going to pass out until he finally shifted his feet. Michael told me later that had Erica not been so calm and relaxed he wasn’t sure he would have made it through the ceremony.

Married

We’re married!!!! (Michael even trimmed and shaped his beard for this special day.)


In keeping with their hipster style, the evening was simple and unique. The wedding decor had a simple elegance, with only a rustic background made of whitewashed pallet boards, some evergreens and berries, and a few Christmas lights. The reception was held in a dance studio, decorated in gold, white and evergreens, by her sisters.

OOPS! I completely forgot to mention that the men did not wear tuxes, not even suits, but plaid shirts – some red, some green. I had been told by the bride’s sister that it would be okay to wear slacks because the guys weren’t wearing tuxes. I worried that I would be the only one in slacks, and it was a church wedding, so I caved in and wore a dress, which I’m not particularly fond of wearing anyway. However, I turned out to be one of the few women wearing dresses, almost all of the women were wearing slacks.

The newlyweds entered the reception to the tune of a John Philip Sousa march Erica had played quite often at high school football games.The food was unusual, too: scrambled eggs, pancakes, sausages, and hash browns. Instead of cutting a cake, they cut pies. When they danced together for the first time as husband and wife, for some reason I almost lost it. Maybe it was the song, although I don’t recall what it was, or maybe I was just overwhelmed by seeing Erica’s joy.

An especially wonderful part of the reception was, for the first time in my life, getting to see my sister and brother-in-law dance together when the DJ asked all the married couples to join the bride and groom on the dance floor. It was easy to tell that, after 40 years of marriage, they’re still as much in love as the day they wed. That longevity and lasting love is rapidly becoming a rarity.

Fibro Weather Prediction

This has certainly been true for the last week, which is why I’ve been absent for several days.

Fibromyalgia sufferers hurt all the time, but certain weather shifts make it worse. This particular flare started with an abrupt drop in the barometric pressure. Then the humidity started dropping. When the humidity gets below 70% I ache, when it gets to 50% or below, I really hurt. Combine the drops in barometric pressure and humidity and it’s a recipe for sheer misery.

When it’s this bad I hurt, literally, from head to foot. It hurts to lay down, it hurts to sit, it hurts to stand. It has been so bad that at times the last few days it’s even hurt to type. There is no OTC or prescription pain medicine that works. It’s a losing situation all around. I’m hoping that these storm fronts that are hitting us stop soon.

The Pain of No

braindead yodaI have been a wreck for three days now. I’m a little behind on my assignments for Blogging 101, but at this very moment I’m too exhausted to care. Wednesday night I couldn’t sleep at all due to stress and pain. By the time I finally fell asleep around 7:00 a.m. it was a fitful sleep due to weird dreams and pain in my legs. When you have fibromyalgia, too much stress doesn’t help and I’ve had a big dose of it lately. But I can’t just sit and let this fulminate in my mind. So for self-care and stress relief I am writing this post.

The back story began when I decided to take early retirement from the USPS because they were closing the facility in Wichita, Kansas where I was working and I was unwilling to move to Salt Lake City. I simply did not feel up to starting over yet again (it would have been the 7th time), but there was nothing else I was physically able to do within the postal service. Once I separated from the USPS I would be able to draw the funds from my Thrift Savings account and have that to fall back on for a little while. The plan was to move back to Texas and find a part-time job to supplement my social security income. Unfortunately, Murphy’s law struck before that could happen.

On November 6, 2013, after the movers finally finished loading up, I headed for Texas with a planned overnight stay (that turned into two) in Greenville, Texas. In the wee hours of the next morning after I had checked in, I was using my cane due to stiffness when I went to my car to retrieve my medicine bag. I had parked next to the handicap ramp and one moment I was reaching for the car door and the next I was flat on my back and had hit my head. Small town, wee hours, nobody around to help me and my cell phone was in my room [figures!]. It was at least five minutes before I was able to sit up and roll over to crawl up the ramp far enough to get up. As I was crawling up the ramp I came across a piece of concrete that hadn’t been there before but just pushed it out of my way, got up and went inside. I reported the fall to the desk clerk but she didn’t take down any notes, fill out any paperwork, or ask if I needed an ambulance, just simply said she would tell management. No, management never has contacted me to see if I was okay, despite knowing about the ambulance and ER visit. I didn’t even think about taking any pictures because my mind not only doesn’t work in that way, but I also had no idea the injury was as severe as it was. I had never been seriously injured in a fall before, but I had never fallen on my back before, either.

Oh, it gets even better. I figured I would be sore for a couple of days and went to bed. Admittedly, since I have a fair bit of medical knowledge I should have realized I might have a concussion and shouldn’t have gone to sleep, but I was so tired sleep was all I wanted once I got my two cats settled down. A few hours later I woke up in so much pain I could barely move. That’s when I realized I had been hurt worse than I initially realized. I reached for the house phone to call the front desk and ask them to get an ambulance for me; the phone was dead. I eventually was able to get up and put on a robe to very slowly hobble up to the lobby using my cane. The desk clerk called an ambulance and because there was no taxi service she arranged for one of their regular suite tenants (oilfield workers) to pick me up from the hospital afterwards. By the next day I was thinking about the chunk of concrete I had seen on the ramp after my fall and figured that the concrete had broken away from the ramp under my cane. Yet when I went out to the ramp to start loading up to resume my trip, I couldn’t find the chunk of concrete anywhere.

Three days after I got back to Southeast Texas I was back in the ER due to extreme pain in my left shoulder and down my left arm, plus numbness in the fingers of my left hand. For two of those days I hadn’t been able to lean over, stand up and walk, or even simply turn my head without getting very, very dizzy. And all that ER did was say “non-specific vertigo” and sent me home with a prescription that didn’t help at all with the dizziness. Since that time I have had 6 months (3 days a week) of chiropractic treatment and physical rehab, two neck MRIs, another 7-8 months of pain management and several epidurals, and finally had neck surgery this past February. While the surgery gave me immediate relief from the pain in my shoulder and arm I had to spend two months in a neck brace, unable to drive anywhere. I had to rely on others, usually a sister-in-law, to get me to my follow-up appointments and trips to the grocery store or Wal-mart. I was only released in August for returning to work, even though I had already been applying. I had to have the work release before one of the four temp agencies I’m registered with would put me in their system.

A couple of months after I started my chiropractic treatment, the chiropractor referred me to an attorney he had worked with before to help people recover damages. That attorney told me that Texas law required you to have pictures to prove the business had cause to know somebody could be injured. I didn’t have any pictures, and I was unable to make the trip back to Greenville just to take pictures. However, I had a cousin who lived nearby who said she would go and take pictures for me (I told her where she should take them and what to look for). Sadly, despite several reminders, I never received any pictures.

During all the treatment time, I did some research on Texas statutes about personal injury and premises liability lawsuits but could not find anything that mandated pictures for such lawsuits. Because the previous lawyer was not a specialist in personal injury or premises liability law, once I was finally released by my neurosurgeon I decided to seek the help of another lawyer before the two-year statute of limitations hit. Unfortunately, I was also told by that attorney that without any pictures to prove the hotel had cause to know somebody could be injured it just wasn’t possible to recover damages. Although Texas law does not mandate you have pictures, without them it’s too hard to prove a case. [Update: Since this original posting I have seen another attorney who specializes in premises liability lawsuits. He told me that while Texas law doesn’t require pictures and without an incident report, it would be impossible to win a case. So basically I’m shit out of luck.]

But since that fall I have racked up medical bills to the tune of over $240,000. Insurance companies being what they are today, they only paid out $82,000. I’m only on the hook for $8,000, but when you are living on social security alone it’s impossible to pay those bills. Thus my credit rating has tanked, I had to give up my apartment and move in with family when I ran out of savings, and I’ve struggled not to lose my vehicle – which I must have to work as there is no bus service here. For seven months the Treasury Department has garnished my social security check for money the USPS said I owed them. Lord, I hope the garnishment is over now!

Looking for work has been difficult despite all of my years of office experience. Not only do we have a weak job market here, I believe the reason I’m not getting many responses to my applications is because they see the gap in my work experience due to my injury and don’t bother to call or email to ask why. So I’ve not gotten a chance to explain the reason for the gap. I’m physically unable to stand for hours or lift anything over 25 pounds or I would gladly have gone to work at a convenience store or even {shudder!} Wal-Mart to have the income and something to occupy my mind. I swear I’m near brain-dead from boredom. For various reasons associated with where I live, I can’t even do a work-at-home call center job.

*BIG SIGH!* Thanks for letting me vent. Much of the tension is gone now and I feel like I might actually be able to sleep tonight.

The Chronic Canyon; Strength Through Illness

So it’s Day 3 of Blogging 101 and our assignment was to follow five new tags and five new blogs. My interests are so varied I really had to stop and think about my tag choices and play around. One of the tags I decided to follow is Fibromyalgia. As a sufferer, I’m interested in how others cope and ideas for treatment and pain management. Under that tag I found this post in a blog by Elizabeth B. called Finding Life’s Silver Sun. It is a very apt description of how chronic illness can both weaken and strengthen us.

Source: The Chronic Canyon; Strength Through Illness