Yippee Ki Yay!

Happy Birthday to me! Yesterday I turned…nevermind. I’m still under 60, let’s leave it at that. I’m old enough to have experienced some major bullshit that no woman should ever have to go through but I’m still kicking! That blasted menopause and all that comes with her and old age can kiss my ever lovin’ ass.

Yay me, another birthday.

It’s not bad enough I have arthritis but I also have bone and joint damage in my knees so that makes exercise nearly impossible. I can barely walk, or stand upright for fuck’s sake. Thanks to my doctor at the time, I didn’t get any help early on to slow the progression, so it just got worse and worse. When I finally found a good doctor, the damage was done.

Groaning and creaking is now the language of my people.

Then menopause marches into my life. That bitch. I was happy to no longer have a monthly cycle but I can do without the continued hot flashes, chills, night sweats, weight gain, moodiness (Who? Me? Moody?), not to mention the weight gain and sleep problems. I’ve already had enough of that but why not add more? While you’re at it, Ms. Menopause Bitch, you might as well slow my energy and metabolism down even more than it was already. I just have one question: When will you be finished with me?

If menopause had a face…

Getting older has its perks; discounts, grand kids, wisdom, more empathy, clearer priorities, less drama, knowing our worth, and not putting up with less than we deserve, etc. But I don’t think I deserve all the crap splattered on me as I’ve grown older.

Perks include drinking all the damn alcohol you want!

I’m even starting to look like an old lady. My youth is gone. I’m a grandmother. Thanks, kids. YOU made me old. Just kidding. But seriously, I look in the mirror and I don’t recognize the person looking back at me. All those wrinkles and the sagging jowls make me look like someone else! The gray hair I can cover – that is, I used to cover. I haven’t been to the hairdresser since early March. I don’t see myself going anytime soon, either. Stupid 2020.

I swear, I have looked in the mirror and acted this very same way!

My bladder is a royal pain in the… bladder. I have to get up every 2 hours at night and it’s pretty much the same during the day. Before coronavirus, every time I left the house, the trip was planned around where the damn bathrooms were located! I think I know of every stinkin’ handicap accessible bathroom for 100 miles in all directions!

Doesn’t work that way!

It’s hard enough having to rely on a cane or crutch to get around but using them leaves me with only one available hand for carrying things or doing a quick task. On top of that, my hands are clumsy. I knock shit over, drop things on the floor, spill every stinkin’ time, and I swear if I drop one more thing today, I’ll scream! I can’t open packaging of any kind without scissors. I miss the trash can every damn time. I’m shocked that I can still crochet!

This isn’t far from the truth!

I have age spots and calcium deposits starting to pop up. My skin is drier than the Mojave Desert, regardless of the brand or type of moisturizer I use. It doesn’t even matter how much I slather on or how often! Ugh!

I swear, if my skin gets any drier, you’ll be seeing particles swooshing on the surface like in the desert wind.

I have CRS (Can’t Remember Shit). My brain can’t seem to stay focused because it’s focused on my pain and getting me from point A to point B without falling, so by the time I get to point B, I’ve forgotten what I was going to do. I shit you not. I try to remember everything in one trip but it never fails, I forget something. I’ve been told to write things down, make a list. You think I haven’t thought of that? I have lists all over the damn house!

I swear, I write down everything and still forget!

My eyes are going kaput. I need new glasses but I’m not going to the eye doctor until this virus is gone or we have vaccinations. I remind myself of the old-time glasses for people who couldn’t see their hand in front of their faces. Remember how thick the lenses were? I see myself wearing those eventually.

I might be able to see again someday!

I’m sick of crazy hair growing in the weirdest places. Like one solitary hair growing out of the middle of my forehead…or the one that grows out from under my chin. Wtf is up with that? I’m constantly looking for them but I seem to only find them when they’re an inch long. Then there are the ingrown and course hairs that grow above my lip. It’s like Mother Nature thinks I’m a man and that I need a mustache to keep my lip warm.

Good thing my ‘mustache’ isn’t this dark!

I’m shrinking. I was never very tall in the first place. Well, in Elementary school I was one of the tallest kids in school at 5’3″. The problem is, I never got any taller than I was in the 6th freakin’ grade! I have lost a little over an inch. I can’t reach, even on my tippy-toes some things that were never that big of a deal before. I can’t even get the laundry out of the washing machine because the drum is too deep. I just can’t reach!

I’m not quite this short!

On the bright side, I still have my own teeth, and my hearing is still somewhat okay; unless of course, you try to tell me something from the other room facing the opposite direction, while the tv is turned up, the water is running because I’m washing dishes, and the washing machine and dryer are also running. Then I can’t hear for shit. Just ask Dad.

Are you talking?

I write this with much exaggeration and cynicism but I know it’s just the way it is and there’s nothing I can do about getting older. As much as I despise my body for turning on me so soon, I still like the person I have become. I’m strong, and I’m smart. I know how to do a lot of things; I just can’t do many of them. I’m honest. I’m grateful. I’m a loyal friend but I’m not afraid to let go of friendships that harm my mental health. I’m a good person. I’m still not going to act my age, no matter how old I feel. I’m still going to laugh at inappropriate times at inappropriate things. (Like farts. Farts are funny.) I like my sense of humor. I might be old but I still have a lot to offer. I’m still fucking awesome!

I can only hope to be as cool as Betty White!

A good friend told me the other day, “Embrace your battle scars. You’re a survivor.” She also told me to not dwell on the bad stuff. Good thing she doesn’t live close or she’d kick my ass after reading this post! In all seriousness though, I am a survivor; I don’t feel like one most days but I still manage to pick myself up and give another day a good run for its money…

So, Happy Birthday to me! Maybe I’ll make it to 102 years old and still be laughing like this old gal!

I love that she can laugh at herself!

Chronic Pain and Depression

I’ve been depressed lately. I’ve only spoken to 2 other people about the issues bringing me down and I won’t discuss the details here but there are a few things I do want to say.

No one really understands what a person with chronic pain is going through. They will never understand until they’re the ones suffering from it. It’s debilitating. It’s exhausting. It’s sad, and it’s lonely.

I can’t just make plans to go do something because I don’t know what my pain level is going to be from one day to the next, or even from one hour to the next! When it rains or when the barometric pressure rises, I am in more pain than usual.

I don’t want to be sitting at home. I’d like to be working. I’d like to be doing the things I used to do. I’d like to be able to pursue the hobbies and activities I thought I would be pursuing at this time in my life. I’d love to be able to go visit my grandkids, near and far. I’d love to go to the movies, hit the Mall, or go to a Flea Market. I’d love to go to museums, haunted houses, and concerts. Hell, I’d love to just do the simple things we all take for granted when we’re healthy, but these days everything is a painful chore.

I have good days and I have bad days, but let me be clear: Having a good day does not mean I’m pain-free. It just means my pain level is at a more tolerable level. Just because I smile or crack a joke doesn’t mean I’m not in pain. It just means I’m trying to be as close to “normal” as I can be, for appearances. I don’t like people feeling sorry for me and I sure as hell don’t like being the center of attention. So, I try to be “normal” like you.

I’m not lazy. Chronic pain is not an excuse to get out of doing things. I don’t have the energy to go to events like birthday parties, weddings or luncheons. When I do attend a function of any kind, I have to leave early. I just can’t handle hour upon hour of socializing and appearing to be happy. Another consideration is accessibility. Will I be near a restroom or will I have to walk a long distance to get there? Will there be stairs or an upward/downward slant? Will I be able to sit down? Is there a place where I can rest? Will I have to stand in line? There are so many things I have to consider before doing anything.

When you suffer from chronic pain, you also suffer a loss of identity. The things that made you who you are, are gone. I used to be a cross-country backpacker. It was something I hoped I could back into when my kids were grown and out on their own. I can no longer look forward to that. I used to be a great cook. I used to be a small business owner. There are so many things that made me who I am but now I’m having to find a new me. It’s hard to reinvent yourself when you can’t actually do anything anymore.

I hate when people say things like, “I hope you feel better soon,” or “Have you tried x, y, or z?” Seriously? Yes, I’ve tried everything under the sun. Nothing helps. Someone once said to me, “It’s just arthritis.” If this were just arthritis then I could be more active and exercise some of the pain away. If it were just arthritis I could find a simple remedy that would ease my discomfort. But it’s not just arthritis. I have joint damage in my knees. My legs are bowing outward at the knees. This is what makes walking and moving about so difficult, so painful. Then there are the people who, good intentions or not, are very condescending. Calling me “hon” or ‘sweety” when I’m having a bad day is a sure-fire way to get ghosted!

Chronic pain never goes away. Chronic pain causes depression, anxiety, changes in mood, appetite and sleep patterns. It causes loneliness, grief, isolation, and fear. Yes, FEAR. Every day, I have to think about every movement I make, every step I take, for fear of falling or doing too much and making my pain level go up even higher. I fear that I will injure myself and lose the little mobility I have left. Have you ever thought about being stuck in a nursing home? I have.

I’m so sick and tired of being expected to do things. I only go out when I have to go out. I go out for groceries once a week, go to doctor’s appointments, pick up meds, etc. Yes, I go out to lunch once a week, but that trip serves a dual purpose. I normally have other errands that need to be done. People don’t realize that in between those days is rest and recovery.

On top of the daily struggle, the holidays are approaching. The most depressing time of the year for me. I won’t have family and grandkids around. I won’t be able to cook all the delicious yummies I used to make for my family. I can’t wrap gifts easily, so gift bags it is! I can’t decorate or put up my big tree. I won’t be looking forward to any of what the holidays bring.

I’m not writing this for sympathy or attention. I want people to understand what chronic pain is and what it does to a person’s life. It’s crippling. It’s not my cup of tea and I’m pretty sure it’s not yours either.

 

 

 

Pushing Through, Again

The pain new medication I started a week ago seemed like it was helping with the arthritis in my legs but wasn’t doing much for my knees. I had every intention of giving it at least 2 weeks, but after a week I realized the pain in my knees was worse. I was using the wheelchair for the last 2 days because the pain was so severe.

I didn’t sleep well last night due to a burning sensation in my knees and I woke up feeling like I could just take a nice leap off a cliff…. I didn’t like the depressed mood I was in. I called my NP as soon as the office opened.

She told me I could stop taking the Celebrex and that she would call in my Diclofenac, the pain medication I had been taking for the last 6 years or so. I realized it must have been working better than I thought. I was feeling its absence, most definitely.

I had some Diclofenac left from before I started the Celebrex so I took one at my usual time. Within 4 hours, I was feeling a little less pain. Now, it’s that time of the day when my pain level is higher and I have a harder time doing things, so I should be in better shape tomorrow morning. We’ll see. I will need to go pick up my prescription soon.

I am seriously tired of being in pain 24/7 but I keep pushing through it because the alternative is worse. I can’t give up. I can’t quit.

There Is Always Something To Be Grateful For

I am trying to be a bit more positive this week. Last week kind of threw me for a loop! It was rough. I’d like to take some time to write about a few of the things I am grateful for…. There’s always something to be grateful for; no matter how bad it is, no matter the struggles.

 

  1. I’m grateful for my Dad. He’s not just my Dad; he’s my best friend and “partner in crime!” He’s 80 years old and in pretty good health. He’s in better shape than I am!
  2. Over the weekend, one of my furbabies had a problem that led me to believe I was going to have to make that final decision. This morning, she was back to her old self. Still 15 years old and nearing the end of her life, but I am grateful that this week I won’t have to say goodbye.
  3. I am grateful for the good night’s sleep I got last night. It was refreshing. It doesn’t happen often!
  4. I am grateful for the skill to crochet. It helps my hands not freeze up from arthritis. I am working on a poncho for my cousin this week.

 

I think I will start writing at least one thing I am grateful for each day. It helps to be positive. It helps to be grateful. It helps to look forward and smile. What are you grateful for tonight?

 

img_5393

Mistrust, Disgust & Humiliation, Part One

If you know me, then you know of my struggles, or some of my struggles at least. My last post was a direct reflection of the disgust and mistrust I have for the medical profession in trying to deal with those struggles. This post, an explanation of what I have been dealing with in the last umpteen months!!

My doctor had been telling me for years that I am too young for knee replacement surgery. Even though I have bone on bone damage. Even though she knows I have bone on bone damage. My pain level has increased significantly over this past 6 years, as you can imagine. It’s not like I can stay off my feet to avoid doing any more damage to my already damaged knees. I have a life to live, chores to do, obligations, as anyone does. I have things I want and need to do just like anyone else.

So, I’ve been religiously taking my pain meds so that I can do what I want and need to do. Damage to my knees progressed, pain level increased and so my activity level has decreased. The pain is sometimes unbearable. I am unable to exercise the way I need to exercise to lose weight or even maintain a steady weight. I have struggled with my weight for many years; since my thyroid went wacky back when my first child was born. It took 5 years after that to even get a diagnosis – after I was already 100 lbs over weight!

I’ve tried many diets – low calorie, low fat, low carb, high protein, cabbage soup diet, mediterranean diet, and more – over the years. I have lost a few pounds here and there but nothing of enough significance to keep stressing myself over a diet. Not enough weight lost on any one diet to warrant continuing to deprive myself of everything that tastes good! But I digress. I do that often. More in another post later about dieting.

In February, I was in to see my doc for my routine annual exam. I had asked her about trying a new pain medication because my pain was getting worse. She wouldn’t give me anything else. She said there’s nothing else I can take. WHAT? Give me a break! There are plenty of medications for OA pain relief out there! I think she thought I wanted narcotics. Nope. I just want quality of life.

So, now things get really intense and I get to where all I see is RED. She asked me if I had considered knee replacement surgery. I lost it! I raised my voice and reminded her that she’s the one who’s been telling me for years that I’m too young for knee replacement surgery! She said, “Yes, but there are other treatments and they will do knee replacement depending on severity……” Yadda, yadda, yadda. I don’t remember anything else she said because I was so angry and in total disbelief! I told her I had considered a pain clinic nearby that specializes in knee treatments so people can avoid surgery. She said she had heard many people having good results there.

I had every intention of checking out that pain clinic personally, but I ended up back in the doc’s office with a UTI just a couple weeks later. I asked her then for a referral to see about knee replacement surgery. She said, “You’re too young for knee replacement surgery.” Red! I said, “I wish you’d make up your damn mind! Just 2 weeks ago you asked me if I had considered it!!” I wanted to kick her in the face! I was in the perfect position to do so, up on that exam table!! It would have hurt like hell with my knees as bad as they are, but I would have received great satisfaction in doing so. She tells me that there’s a process; first I will have to have x rays and discuss options with a specialist. She must think I’m stupid. I know I’m not going to make an appointment with a specialist and then be scheduled for surgery that very same day! I know there’s a process. So, I said, “I realize that, I’m not stupid. If you would just set me up with the specialist I will take it from there.” She did. Appointment made. This was just the beginning of another experience I won’t soon forget.

To be continued…….