Makin’ A List

The holidays are not what they used to be…at least for me. I used to enjoy the holidays when my kids were small. The joy and wonder, the anticipation was worth all the hassle of decorating, shopping, wrapping gifts and hiding them, etc. It was fun to help the kids make gifts and goodies for Santa! We had our traditions; the cookie baking, the homemade pizzas, popcorn cake, and pizza balls. That was all on Christmas Eve! The kids got to open a gift that night and leave cookies for Santa. We watched Christmas movies and had lots of laughs! I always made a big ham dinner on Christmas Day, along with tons and tons of appetizers that we got full of before we even had dinner! The kids enjoyed all of it and so did I.

The kids got older, became harder to shop for, harder to please. You know, pre-teens and teenagers. They no longer believed in Santa Claus. Ok, so before someone decides to educate me on the true meaning of Christmas, don’t. I’m quite aware. I’m not a religious person but I always taught my kids “the reason for the season.” But that’s not what this post is about.

About 11 years ago, certain events changed the way I thought things would be in our family. On top of that, chronic pain has invaded my every move, my every thought and…my everything. It’s rough. I was able to spend a little time with my son, his wife and the littlest grandson on Christmas Eve and I enjoyed every minute of it but I thought my house would be full of kids’ laughter and play, during the holidays. Depression, loneliness, and sadness always sets in.

I try not to succumb to the depression but it’s hard. I eat too much, don’t sleep enough, and I cry a lot when I’m alone. During the holidays, I try so very hard to hide my sadness and put a smile on my face. I’m not able to do the cooking I used to do. My son made the popcorn cake for Christmas Eve this year but he didn’t have time to make the pizza balls. That’s ok though, we still had pizza; it was frozen pizza but it was still good. I threw a ham in the oven on Christmas Day and opened a can of baked beans, which was fine because it was just me and Dad. Still, not what this post is about.

I bet you’re thinking, “Damn, I wish she’d get to the point!” I’m getting there, I promise.

Every year I try to make myself feel more festive and happy by giving gifts to others. GIVING TO OTHERS makes me feel good about who I am and I love to make gifts. This year, I crocheted over a dozen gifts for family. I carefully chose the yarn color and pattern/design I thought was perfect for each person. I worked my ass off, sometimes ripping out a design that just didn’t look good and starting over. I put my heart and soul into everything I made. It felt good to do it and I’m not sorry I did, but I’ll tell you what…

I’m makin’ a list…

woman s hand using a pen noting on notepad

Photo by Kaboompics .com on Pexels.com

I’m making a list for next year and if anyone wonders why they didn’t get anything from me then maybe they should think about Christmas 2019 when they didn’t even have the common decency to send me a simple text to thank me for their gift. It takes just seconds!! What a bunch of ungrateful shits in my family. And this does not apply to young children. It applies to adults; young adults and older adults.

I didn’t make the gifts for the thanks, just to be clear. But it would be nice to be recognized and appreciated. I busted my ass to get everything finished and shipped in time for Christmas. It really hurts my feelings that only 3 people thought to thank me for their gift. Next year, I’ll be sending my handmade crocheted items to people who might actually appreciate it…perhaps the Nursing Home, a homeless shelter, or the children’s hospital. Maybe I’ll just make scarves for all the homeless dogs and cats in the area!

dog wearing crochet scarf with fringe while sitting on snow selective focus photography

Photo by Benjamin Lehman on Pexels.com

Wah, Wah, Wah, Wah, Wah…

This afternoon I started feeling crappy. My throat was scratchy and I kept clearing my throat. That turned into a little cough and I hope I can fight it off because I have an appointment tomorrow to get my hair cut. I’m in desperate need of one, that’s for sure!

Anyway, about the time I started feeling crappy the phone rang. It was some woman from my doctor’s office. Let’s say her name is Mary because I can’t remember what her name was. Mary introduced herself and told me where she was calling from. She said she had been going through the records of patients and was trying to reach out to all those who had been diagnosed with depression. She explained that she knew how depression felt and what it can do to your life because she had been diagnosed with depression some time ago.

She started talking about all the effects and how we can try and combat depression by doing this, that, and the other. I kind of zoned out because she was literally starting to piss me off. She never let me get a word in edge-wise! All I started to hear was the sound of Charlie Brown’s mom: wah, wah, wah, wah, wah!

About the time she said that one way to help depression in the winter was to sit by a window with the sun coming through. I interrupted her, “Is there something you want?” She kept talking about how hard it is to deal with depression. I said, “I have a therapist, thank you very much. What do you want?” Again, more about depression. I added, “I am managing my depression just fine, thank you.” Wah, wah, wah, wah…

She just wouldn’t shut up! I said, “Unless you’re giving away free trips to Scotland, I’m not interested,” and I hung up. I don’t know why this doctor’s office thought it would be ok for someone to start calling people like that but I’m going to give them a piece of my mind tomorrow. Wanting to help people is one thing but a) there is a therapist listed in my records (who is no longer in practice but they don’t know that) and b) this call was unsolicited and I had never been seen at this particular doctor’s office for depression so there was no reason for the call, in my opinion. Oh, and c) PRIVACY ISSUES! I don’t know if she was a nurse, or if she even really worked there.

I expected Mary to call back but she didn’t. Have you ever had someone call you back after you hung up on them? I have, once. Funny story, actually. This was back when I was running a Day Care for kids in my home and I was busier than a cat covering up shit. I get this call from a man doing a survey about political bullcrap. I answered a few questions and I said, “Look, I’m very busy and I don’t have time for this.” He said he would just need a few more minutes of my time. I said, “My time is MY TIME and I don’t have time for a damn survey.” I hung up. After less than a minute, the phone rang again. I answered and the man said, “Ma’am, I’d like to finish this survey.” I said, “Oh, you would, would you? Well, you can go fuck yourself and DO NOT call here again!” I hung up again. Can you believe the nerve? And don’t worry, none of the kids in my care were in earshot of what I said!

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.

 

 

 

The Things I Miss The Most…

If you’ve been following my blog for much time, you’ll know that I suffer from chronic pain and mobility issues. I’m in pain 24/7 and if it wasn’t for my pain meds I’d be climbing the walls for certain. Without pain medication to “take the edge off” I wouldn’t be able to function at all. I’m thankful that I can still do a little, even though it’s not a lot.

I was thinking last night about all of the things I used to do and how much I miss doing them. It’s terribly depressing. I can’t believe I’m in this predicament at only 56 years old. I am thankful for what I have and what I can still do, but I do miss all the fun things I used to do just 15 short years ago.

Most people take things for granted, as I did. I never thought I’d be in this shape. I never had to think about what I couldn’t do because I could do anything I wanted to do, if I chose to do so.

These are some of the things I miss the most:

  1. Walking & Hiking – I used to be a cross-country backpacker and had put that on the back burner while I raised my children. I still took walks and when we moved here to SW Missouri, we established some trails and I started walking them every day. NowI’m lucky to walk to the bathroom. I have to think about every step and every movement because if I step wrong I could fall. If I fall, I could suffer an injury that would reduce my mobility even more.
  2. Cooking – I used to love cooking. I was damn good at it, too. I have many cookbooks and I always enjoyed trying new recipes and switching them up a bit to accommodate my family. I’m barely able to throw a frozen dinner in the microwave these days. I know that’s a simple task, but there’s still the movement around the kitchen collecting silverware, napkins, plates, etc., and pulling the fixings out of the refrigerator for salad or some other side dish.
  3. Cleaning & Organizing – Yes, I said cleaning. You don’t know how much you miss such a mundane chore until you can’t do it anymore. My house was never immaculate. I had kids and pets. Shit gets dirty. I didn’t stress over it but I cleaned the house once a week. My house used to be organized. Everything had its place. I even packed away the kids’ summer clothes in the winter and winter clothes in the summer. These days, I can’t clean weekly. What most people do each week is what I do once a month. I do a little each day. That’s all I can do. My house is horribly unorganized these days. I have boxes shoved in closets and I don’t even know what’s in them! I’ve started going through things but that’s going to take me the rest of the year to get done! If I’m lucky!
  4. Going to the Movies – Oh, how I love seeing a movie on the big screen! I used to take the kids to the movies a couple times a month. I’d grab my “movie” purse, which is huge, and I’d smuggle in candy so all we had to pay for was popcorn and drinks. Those were the good ol’ days! Now, going to the movies is painful and awkward. I walk very slow and I feel like I’m going to get trampled. I only have one hand available because I have a cane in my right hand. Someone always has to carry my drink or popcorn. I try to grab seats where other people aren’t going to walk over me to get to other seats. The last time I went to see a movie, people were walking over me and kicking my feet in the process, which causes excruciating pain up and down my legs. I was in tears. We were in the very back row of the theater, too!
  5. Shopping – Yes, even grocery shopping! It’s exhausting, even in a scooter, trying to maneuver around idiots who have to have a stinkin’ family reunion in the middle of the aisle. It’s hard to reach things, even things that aren’t really that high. It’s hard to reach down and get something that might be back a little too far on the bottom shelf. Last Fall, I had the bright idea of going to the Mall and I thought I was going to die. I had my rollator with me so I could walk a little and then sit and rest a little. It was still too much. Any shopping is something I have to work up the courage to do. You just don’t understand unless you’ve experienced chronic pain.
  6. My Home Business – I made my own bath & body products; soaps, bath salts, lotions, body sprays, etc. I loved it! I started with tried and true recipes and then through research and trial and error, came up with my own recipes. I had managed to create a base of repeat customers and was hopeful about the future of my business. I had to close in 2010 because like cooking, it’s a lot of movement in the kitchen that I just can’t do anymore.
  7. Restorative Sleep – I used to sleep good and hard every single night. These days, I’m lucky to get 5 hours of sleep. Not restorative, restful sleep either. It takes me a long time to fall asleep because I can’t find a position that’s comfortable. Between the pain and not being able to relax, it takes me sometimes 2 hours to fall asleep. Then, I’ll sleep for 45 minutes to an hour or so and wake up again. I do this all night long.
  8. Exercise – I always hated exercise when I was younger, aside from walking. Now I wish I could do any exercise without excruciating pain! I bought a recumbent bike a few years ago thinking I might be able to do it but that was a big fat NOPE. I have a glider that I do on occasion and the only reason I can do it at all is that you don’t have to bend your knees to do it! It’s still painful and I push through, but sure wish I could do it more and without pain.
  9. Playing on the Floor with The Littles – The fun of having grandkids is being able to play with them. I used to get down on the floor and play Legos with my son. My daughter and I used to sit on the floor and do puzzles on the coffee table. Nowadays, if I get down on the floor it’s because I’ve fallen and I won’t be able to get up.
  10. Taking The Littles to the Park or Zoo – The last time I went to the zoo was when I was in charge of my grand daughter’s preschooling. Boy, we had a grand time! She learned a lot that day about animals and their habitats. My legs had just started bothering me so I had a little trouble but not like today. If I tried today, I would have to have a scooter or be pushed in a wheelchair.
  11. Hanging Photos – I used to switch up photos of my kids, nieces, and nephews all the time. I just don’t have it in me anymore to hang new ones, and now I have grandkids and tons more photos!!
  12. Gardening and Yard Work – Our yard used to be the nicest one for miles. Total strangers would stop to tell us how nice our yard looked! I loved working in the yard and in the garden. I even helped Dad with the mowing. It was peaceful on that riding mower. Therapeutic in a way. I can’t mow these days because the vibration reverberates through my body and THAT is painful as hell. We always had a nice garden with all kinds of vegetables, from Anaheim Peppers to Zucchini. I had tulips, irises, roses, and lilacs in flower beds around the house. Now, I can’t do the work. I miss the veggies and I miss the flowers. My lilac bush is still alive and the irises are growing wild…but so are the weeds. I hate it.

There are so many things I miss from my “old life” but I try to be thankful for what I can do now. It’s hard to stay focused on the good when there’s so much negativity all the time. It does cause some depression but, like I said, I am thankful for the things I can still do.

2:23am

Here I sit at the computer, in the wee morning hours of Monday. I went to bed at 9:30pm Sunday night because I had 3 yummy Kahlua Mudslides and they really kicked my butt. (I should know better than to have more than one of any kind of alcoholic beverage!) After 3 hours of sleep, I was wide awake!

This is the time of the year when I get depressed. I just hate the holidays! I have never been a fanatic about the holidays but when my kids were growing up, I always tried to make it nice for them. It was fun making memories. I looked forward to having a house full of grandkids on the holidays to make even more special memories….but that’s where the depression comes in.

I don’t get to spend the holidays with any of the grandkids. It appears the newest grandbaby will be no exception. I’ve seen him 3 times since he was born, Sept. 1. I know they didn’t want to take him out until he was a bit bigger so I had no problem stopping by to see him. Chronic pain and mobility issues prevented me from stopping by more often. But now, my son and his wife are going here and there, spending time with her family…and here I sit waiting for them to come see me. They have gone out of town, and apparently, I won’t be seeing them on Thanksgiving either. So, it will be just Dad and I, once again.

That’s where the Kahlua Mudslide came in… I’m sick of feeling unnecessary, left out, and unwanted. I know alcohol doesn’t help but on the bright side, as I sit here my pain level is pretty low! Bazinga!

Loneliness and the feeling of being unwanted is the most terrible poverty. Mother TeresaRead more at_ https_www.brainyquote.comquotesmother_teresa_131834_img=2&s