I write this post the day before Fibromyalgia Awareness Day, which I’ve written about before. I’ve cancelled everything I’d planned to do today and I’m sluggishly going through the afternoon after a night of leg cramping that was excruciating. I’m so tired today, my brain is in a muddle and I don’t have the energy to talk. It’s just another day with fibromyalgia.
The nighttime muscle cramping was one of the worst symptoms (constant, for four years) when I first began with this condition eleven years ago. Now, I go through spells of it only a few times a year, thank God. I don’t know if last night’s discomfort is a warning that I’m in for some more of it, or just a one shot deal.
Yesterday, I got new tires on my car. This might seem like an unrelated topic, but it’s not. I knew as I stood in the shop (Town Fair Tire – great place for tires…I happily give them a plug here) that the odor given off by the showroom full of tires was effecting me. I got a headache immediately and decided I’d better sit outside the shop while my car was serviced. It’s possible that that seemingly innocuous exposure to whatever chemicals the tires emit was the cause of the flare-up in my symptoms. A person with fibromyalgia is, typically, hyper-sensitive to toxins.
Long ago, I was advised, wisely, to not bother trying to figure out what causes a flare-up, but to simply do the best I can to deal with it. So, today I’m going at a snail’s pace and waiting till I can try tonight for a better night’s sleep. To that end, I’ll take half a tablet of muscle relaxing medicine at bedtime. I take a half tablet because even medicine is a toxin to a person with fibromyalgia. Half a minimal dose of any medicine is my tolerance level. This is a conundrum – as the elixir sometimes exacerbates some symptoms, such as causing more exhaustion and brain fog, and the half dose might not have the desired positive effect.
I’m not letting myself get discouraged by today’s setback. And, as I always do, I’m accomplishing anything I can today to feel productive, like posting to this blog and tidying my desk top.
For some reason unknown to me, 2011 was a relatively healthy year for me in terms of my condition. I always have hope that another year of feeling relatively well will come along. So, on a day like today, I do a lot of relaxation breathing and I try to remember how well I felt that year. I’m trying to trick myself into bringing it back!
To all of you with fibromyalgia and chronic fatigue (more recently referred to as ME/CFS – myalgic encephalomyelitis/chronic fatigue syndrome) I send a hug of understanding and well wishes, and the virtual bouquet at the top of this post, on this year’s Fibromyalgia Awareness Day.
To those of you who live with us in your lives, please don’t try to poo-poo away our real symptoms (which for me began at age 47) as if they are a normal part of aging. For me, every day is like a day with mono, to one degree or another. I try to be a good sport about it but I know I sometimes let you down when I cancel out of plans. Also, my apologies for my dreadful memory – if I’ve forgotten your birthday, for instance, despite having the card prepared ahead of time. It’s just that often, because of brain fog, one day doesn’t connect to the prior day or days, and I loose the groove of what it was I had planned to do. Sometimes, I’m out of the groove for a week or two. The virtual bouquet below is for you, with thanks, as I know it’s not always easy for you to hang in here with me as your mother, sister, or friend.
This is my dog, Sprite, who is 14 years old, though he looks like a puppy still. I can hear all you dog lovers saying, “Ohhhh, he’s so cute!” because that’s what so many of you have said about Sprite when I’m out walking him and you meet him. And I appreciate so much that you respond to him in this way!
(A side-note to the point of this post: I’m not the biggest fan of dogs. We added Sprite to the family when my children were young. Now they’re off living their lives, and by default, Sprite’s with me. But I do love Sprite. All the other dogs in the world I tolerate, kind of in the way that Lucy in the Charlie Brown comic strip tolerates Snoopy.)
I take pretty good care of Sprite, I feed and water him, I walk him, I pet him…mostly when he’s just been groomed and is nice and clean. I put Frontline on him, I give him his monthly heart worm pill, I keep his shots up to date. I try to take him out four times a day for what has become a stroll as he gets older. In fact, lately, walking Sprite is like walking a donkey. There’s a lot of tugging and coaxing and general frustration in making him remember why we’re out – to walk. I’m digressing again.
Sprite LOVES to eat cigarette butts. I’m not digressing here – this is the point of the post. He eats butts the way a child eats candy. He can’t get enough.
For nine of the past twelve months, I lived in the city of Lowell, Mass., which has a lot of great things about it. But, apparently, lots of people smoke in Lowell. And, also apparently, many of them leave plenty of their cigarette butts on the sidewalks and streets of Lowell. Sprite thought he’d died and gone to dog heaven when we moved there. The streets were littered with his favorite treat.
Immediately, I had to resort to walking Sprite with a muzzle on him (see photo below) to keep him from eating too many cigarette butts. I say “too many” because he would manage to get a few a week despite the muzzle. Without the muzzle he’d snatch up to five butts in one 15-minute walk. It was a serious problem as he became kind of shaky about an hour after we’d come in and he’d whine obsessively at the door to go out, obviously because he wanted (read “needed”) more nicotine.
People would stop us as we’d walk and they’d say such things as, “Aw, he doesn’t look like he’d bite anybody! Look as his tail wagging!”
I’d reply, “The muzzle is to keep him from eating cigarette butts.”
The reaction to that statement would range from utter disbelief to expressions of such sorrow that I’d see tears in the person’s eyes. Really. And I could relate.
One man who said he trained police dogs told me that in all his time working with dogs, he’d never heard of such a thing.
Here’s proof of Sprite’s attraction to cigarette butts:
Many people joked that I should get him “the patch”, which seemed funny at first, but then didn’t — that people’s unhealthy habits were so impacting my 15 pound dog’s health.
Anyway, when we moved from Lowell to a more rural setting two months ago, my greatest relief was that I thought I could now walk Sprite in peace from the temptation of his penchant for cigarette butts. But as it turns out, the country folk are smoking, too, and tossing their butts on the streets, also — not in the same quantities, but enough so that I walk Sprite on the lawn around the house as much as possible so that I don’t have to put the muzzle on him again.
I find all of this to be so discouraging. So this post is a plea of sorts. I’m asking all you smokers to please stop smoking, if not for your sake, for Sprite’s sake. As a former smoker myself (for ten years in my youth), I know how hard it is to quit. But if I can, you can. Believe me. And in the meantime, please keep your butts on your person till you can dispose of them properly.
Sprite and I thank you! ♥ (This is a thank you dog kiss from Sprite!)
Through the four seasons of 2007 – 2012, I kept a photo blog, SilverLining-MaryMcAvoy, of the various life forms around a pond in New England. I moved away from the pond a year ago and I still miss it, especially using my camera to pay close attention to the world of nature.
For the past couple of days, I’ve walked around the yard here and reaped a pretty impressive display from Mother Nature.
I’ll let the photos do the talking! Enjoy!
A bouquet of daffodils to say happy springtime!
When I was in Boston on Wednesday, I met a middle-aged man who ran his first marathon, ever, this year in Boston. Because of the violence that stopped the event prematurely, he, like more than 5000 other runners, didn’t cross the finish line. A new-comer to running, he doesn’t want to lose his conditioning without completing a marathon. So, he’s keeping to his pre-marathon work-out schedule and will run another marathon within the month.
And on Wednesday, he finally claimed his marathon-day backpack*, which he’d not been able to retrieve in the commotion of the days after the marathon. (Marathon runners leave, at the starting area, personal items that are transported to the finish line in plastic marathon “backpacks” while they run. They claim their bag after they run the marathon. Hundreds of bags were not able to be claimed at the end of the race this year.)
His story is far from the death and the physical and psychological harm that occurred in the immediate perimeter of the explosions. But I found myself, as I listened to this first-time-marathon-runner, trying to imagine the myriad stories of the runners of this year’s Boston Marathon. This subcategory of first-time runners who did not finish the Boston Marathon could be a study unto itself. I feel certain that despite the profound shake-up to the human spirit that day, they’ll each complete a marathon or be back in Boston next April.
* Will the word “backpack” ever sound the same to us?
I was in Boston yesterday through the late afternoon and evening. It was a spring-perfect day as these photos show. Of course the events of the week of the Boston Marathon were fresh in my mind, but the psyche of the city itself seemed to be working toward recovery.
It helped that the sun was bright and warm, the sky and water brilliant shades of blue.
The streets of the financial district in Boston are labyrinthine. They are narrow, there’s lots of “one way”s, and tall, close buildings obscure any sense of forward direction beyond 500-1000 feet. The spill of the sun’s light doesn’t reach the pavement. Somehow, when I drive through this area, I have a sense of thrill, in the same way the twist and turns of a carnival fun-house might give me.
Boston has a rich history on the U.S. timeline and a walk up State Street brings it all home as plaques identify points of interest about the start of the Revolutionary War.
I suppose then, it was appropriate that my visit to Boston ended simultaneously, by chance, with a capitalism funeral procession that passed me by at about 9:00 p.m. as I made my way to my car. This raucous and disorienting event provided clues toward its meaning but overall it was a visual puzzle! Today, I’ve researched what it’s about and have shared a link to The Phoenix article (about last year’s procession) for the reader’s benefit! Here’s how it looked last night!
Yes, Boston is carrying on!
Growing up in this house, maps were ever present. Through all of my childhood there was a map table (and that’s just what we called it, “the map table”) in the kitchen. It was the size of a card table. The top was a white square block of plastic. Atop it, well protected by a film of clear plastic was a colorful world atlas.
In the living room was a globe. To us children, the globe was fascinating as a ball that could spin in various directions but that was trapped in the framework of two arms and a base that prevented it from rolling. I was a toddler when I first played with the globe.
As we got older, my mother would tack maps on the walls of the kitchen if one of us were traveling or if a political event (including war and coups d’etat) were occurring anywhere in the world. She’d mark points of interest with plastic tipped colored pins. Letters from a sibling traveler would be nearby so that we could read about the region of the world that they were passing through.
Now, as I sit for each meal at the table that was my mother’s up until 17 months ago, my eyes scan a current day world atlas that she put under the glass that protects the finish on the kitchen table. Despite all this exposure to maps in my childhood, my adult geography knowledge needs much brushing up. So I’ve been studying closely the region surrounding my placemat. Alaska is huge. The Aleutian Islands are like a spine reaching out to Russia. I now know precisely where the Yukon is. And the Rocky Mountains spread high into Canada, to a point where I wonder why the Mackenzie Mountains have a different name, as they look to be part of the Rockies. Canada is enormous and seems to be about 50% water.
I’ve wandered to other parts of the atlas world, too. I’m working on memorizing that “Guyana” is part of South America while the similar sounding “Ghana” is in Africa. It’s all well and good to see the spelling and note the distinction. But I once met a fellow writer from “geehahna” and I’m afraid that her saying twice more didn’t make clear to me if she were from Africa or South America and I was too shy with my self imposed embarrassment to ask. I’ll next be working on the locations of: Guinea, Guinea Bissau, Equatorial Guinea, and New Guinea.
My mother, who was not college educated, as I am, knew all these things, cold.
Today, I took a tablespoon of Carlson fish oil. As I raised the spoon to my mouth, I realize I was standing in the exact spot in the kitchen of my new/old home where my mother stood and went through the identical ritual every winter morning of my elementary and high school years (1960s to mid 70s).
My mother poured her Carlson Cod Liver Oil (which, in those days, was not lemon flavored as my Carlson’s Fish Oil is today!) from the brown slouch-shouldered bottle into a tablespoon, and without hesitating to think of the overpowering fish flavor, she quickly swallowed it. Immediately, she’d chase it with a small glass of juice.
She’d line up on the counter small yellow cod liver oil tablets for us to chew after we’d finished our breakfast and as we hurried out the door to catch the bus. This, and opening the windows for 10 – 20 minutes every morning, is how she kept us healthy in our childhood.
Bottoms up, Mum, and thanks!