Monday, March 31, 2008

Pain class--week 2.

Note to long-suffering hubby who patiently skims my blogs: Just skip this one, honey. You've heard it all already, and besides this way i can talk about you. HAH!

Well, Monday has come and is nearly gone, and poor Dynamo dog is still in residence at the local Veterinary Inn. Every day that goes by i repeat to myself "He'll be better than ever! He'll be better than ever!" and try not to think about the peanut butter sandwiches and beans in our future...and if one more person says innocently to me, "Well surely you have health insurance for the dogs," i'm not sure what will come out of my mouth.

Today was a fun day at Chronic Pain 101.

First i learned that if this class were kindergarten, i'd have gotten a gold star for sure.

Second, i learned that what i thought was a bad job of following the meditation/relaxation exercise was actually a good job.

Third, i was told i was analytical--which i totally thought was a good thing--but then they all smiled wisely at each other while nodding their heads. i proved i was analytical by coming home and looking up the definition of analytical on 6 different online dictionaries to see what could be wrong about that.

OH--and fourth, i seem to be the only junior higher in the bunch.

So, gold star--great way to start my day. i had my session with the nurse where she asked me questions and looked at my pain journal. We chatted and did the questions, and she praised my pain journal saying it was probably the best one she'd seen for a "week one" person. i said, "Well, i do like to write." i actually enjoyed trying to figure out my pain number on a scale of 1 to 10 and then write what i was doing at the time. Partly i was thinking it would help me connect what causes the pain to fluctuate. So that was cool.

Regarding the meditation/relaxation--it was a great exercise where we were to follow our breath and focus on our breath in order to clear our worries and such out of our minds. We were to count each breath, and if we got distracted by a sound or thought we were to start over at one. After, i agreed that was really helpful. i liked it. But i mentioned that for me it seemed like i was saying in my head, "One..." (i wonder how Dyno's doing? OH SHOOT.) "One..." (i really like her hair today. DANG) "One..." .........and so on. Anya the nurse said, "But that's good! That means you were really staying with it! You didn't start to count then go off in your head for 20 minutes then remember to count, you were really bringing yourself back--that's great!" So for the second time i was all proud of myself.

Then, the analytical thing--we were in our half hour group session with the cute little young psychologist. Tomorrow the newbies will come with the looks of confusion the rest of us had the first day. But for today we were only 2 men, 2 other women, me, and the psychologist.

Like i said before, i talk. Often, i talk more than others. Not to make excuses, these others are really quiet. But i feel if i ask questions i understand more, therefore learning more. And i want to get the most out of these 5 weeks. At one point as i was picking their brains, one looked at me and said with a smile, "You're analytical." Then the psychologist and the 2 others who've been there longest looked at each other and nodded sagely and said, "She's analytical." i'm sure i looked confused, as the word "analytical" to me matches up with smart, logical people. But the group wasn't saying it in that way.

*editing here--i realized i left this out: "And how am i being analytical?" "Because you want to know how it all fits together NOW," one of the longer members said.

i said, "And?" She turned to me with a wise smile and said, "You can't know." Whuh?

i remain confused. i of course, in good people-pleaser fashion, laughed and played it off. But when i looked up "analytical," the Cambridge Dictionary Online said:
"analytical: adjective. Examining or tending to examine things very carefully."
To me, this sounds like a good thing. For example, one should always examine restaurant salads very carefully. i have found bugs.

Perhaps i am to simply Let It Go and Let It Show Up Unannounced. Whatever "It" is. i still don't know what the hell they meant. Perhaps i shall risk another question and ask.

Oh--and my forth and final lesson of the day, that i am the only junior higher in the group: i was asking about relaxation cds, as i had liked the one we used this afternoon and was relaxing quite well until they said to "relax your genitals." They suggested i could just overlook it the next time now that i had heard it, and i said, "i'm sorry, but i will always laugh when they say 'sphincter,'" which was the next thing we were to "relax." The psychologist said my laughter meant i was uncomfortable. i agreed, yup, and asked, "Seriously? None of the rest of you had trouble with that?" Only one girl laughed and said she'd also been caught off guard. The rest of them all pulled solemn expressions onto their faces and shook their heads saying, "No, no..." So i can only surmise i am either the only junior higher, or the only honest person in the bunch.

So, all in all, it was a day. A full day. (Apparently full of people capable of being told to relax their sphincters, without even cracking a smile.)

Sunday, March 30, 2008


i had a couple of good naps this weekend--it was pretty wearing spending the week at Pain Management. Of course, i was supposed to be doing relaxation techniques when these naps occurred. i either don't have the techniques down, or i have them down too well.

Saturday, March 29, 2008

Letting go.

As i sat in the waiting room before Pain Management class began, i did the usual people watching. i scribbled this on a piece of paper:

"Don't want to be a lumpy-bumpy old grandma with lumpy-bumpy clothes. But she looks happy. i know how to look happy, how to say, 'i'm fine!' when asked how i am, so i fit that Pain Class rule to a T. But i'm not so good at being peaceful on the inside. There i am a bunch/bundle/gaggle of shaky anxiety. 'i'm trying to learn to let go.'"

i was feeling pretty fragile, having to see Dean take Dynamo off to the vets for who knew how long at that point.

In the afternoon i took a few minutes to write this down:

"'Letting go'--seems to be the theme, especially for me. Cried halfway through the day, worried about our dog, feeling very much that it's out of my hands, but feeling the stress. Hard time with the heavy internal traffic, difficult to focus on the morning meditation and exercises. Pain was worse as the afternoon went n, but somehow released after the meditation and psychologist group session.

i want to get everything i can out of this class, improve myself and my life as much as i choose to. So i ask questions a lot--i seem more talkative than many. (Okay, no surprise there.)"

Letting go. i've been a worrier since birth. i think that things felt so out of my control as a child, subconciously i did feel very much the victim of my parents' craziness. i just as young learned to "put on a happy face." i mean, i was a cheerful child, i think that was honest and true to who i was, but i learned early that was the face that helped me slide by in my family and stay out of trouble. So i learned to smile and be outwardly happy in the face of all the things that made no sense to a small child surrounded by hostility and chaos.

This causes a a conflict in me. At Pain Class i feel well suited to shine it on for the folks, acting positive, answering "fine!" "good!" or other acceptable smiley-face responses. But another part of me says, "this is bull-pucky." i've spent so long learning to be a person of truth that being cheerful feels like a lie often times. I hurt! Why can't i call it that? The Pain chasers say it doesn't help, it only hurts to talk about our pain. i'm not quite there in my understanding. Sometimes i just want to be able to say, "i'm having a tough day." Not being a victim, just stating the facts.

This Pain class coinciding with Dynamo's troubles speaks to the letting go process as it relates to real life in its totality. Needing to let go of my useless fretting and trusting Dyno to the more capable hands of the vet requires a difficult level of "learning to let go." Needing to change the way i try to deal with my pain requires an even more difficult level. Having to chart hourly what i'm doing and what is my pain level has let me see the connection between the emotional part of my life and the pain part of my life, how much the emotional effects the physical. That's the point in this class--the body and mind connection.

Once again i have rambled--sorry, folks.

Skimmers: dog sick. Body hurts. Need to learn to let go of both.

Friday, March 28, 2008

The good news...

Dynamo is apparently doing better. i say "apparently" because my husband ended up taking him into the vet's where he has to stay, possibly till Monday. For the treatment of doggy pancreatitis (i have little info about people pancreatitis) the best thing seems to be loads of fluids and probably antibiotics by i.v. That, of course, they can provide best in the Veterinary Hotel and Suites.

When my hubby called the vet's this afternoon to see how Dyno was doing (poor hubby is experiencing severe withdrawal without his doggy) he was told that Dyno was doing so well that he might be able to come home tomorrow, on Saturday, a whole two days earlier than the worst case scenario! (Or "best case scenario" if you are the one receiving rather than paying the payment for above mentioned Veterinary Suites services.)

Other good Dynamo news is that he has lost a whole pound since he started treatment a month ago for the pancreatitis and the underactive thyroid. i'm thinking of sharing his low-fat kibble.

Tomorrow i'll give a wrap up of Week One in the Pain Management Class. Weirdly i've already learned a lot.

Thursday, March 27, 2008

Good in the midst of bad.

Right now i'm worrying over our dog.

Dynamo, the king of all things at our house, has pancreatitis. He was diagnosed about a month ago, and had a flare up recently due to our inadequate understanding of the problem. Anyway, i dutifully fed him his mini-meals of rice and lowfat cottage cheese for three days over last weekend, then started him back on his lowfat kibble. He's had nothing fatty AT ALL. We've been vigilant. As far as i've been able to see, he's been great since then--eating, drinking, running up and down the stairs, playing with the other two dogs--

THEN tonight--he vomited. This is one sign that can mean another flare-up. This chubby little black doxie has a very tight hold on his dad's heart, ever since they met on the floor of a pet store in October of 2002. Both hubby and i got very still and silent tonight in our worry (well, after i finished cleaning up the mess.) We are both quite accomplished at extreme anxiety, so we went from zero to 60 in no time flat. Instantly in our heads we both visualized the worst possible scenario--no more grouchy black puppy barking at everything that moved. No more cuddling with Dyno.

One thing the Pain Class has been working hard to get through my head in the 2 days i've attended: i must learn to let go. Now, i know already that holding on to negative stuff is poison, and i think given where i started (a whole different story) i've done pretty well to be as positive as i am--let's just say that wasn't a family trait.

i am a person who treasures the love of God who made me and sustained me through the aforementioned "where i started" years. He's stayed with me through miscarried babies and deaths of people i loved. He's maintained His love for me, and i've seen it, through all my stinky attitudes and imperfections. He was an integral part of my five years of therapy. i respect Him and love Him. But i have to admit i've kept some bad bits to myself.

Anxiety has always been the gum on my shoe, and some other things ride alongside smelling a lot like dog poo.

All that to say, usually i can't simply go, "Okay, i let go of my death grip on this worry, on this injustice." Usually i'm too busy safeguarding the bits on my shoe.

Maybe i'm catching on, though. Maybe God in his infinite wisdom has seen fit to use my intelligent pelvis and aching body as another nudge to help me learn what i've known all along, that control is but an illusion. i need to learn to release my death grip on that nasty shoe and just find a clean pair. (Okay, so this probably wasn't the best thought out metaphor.) But as i was hugging onto our little dog and loving on him tonight, i started praying: "God, please take care of our Dynamo. You know how much we love him and need him. Please help me let go and let YOU take over his care, okay?"

Normally this would bring no obvious change, other than me recognizing that i was at least recognizing my need to let go. But this time, a peace washed over me, and the anxious adrenalin stopped spurting. Huh.

It was a weird thing, a different thing, an unfamiliar thing. All those years of therapy, all the years learning to accept God's love for me, even the recent chats with my pelvis, it all came together in a moment of actually letting go.

It's something for me to hold onto and remember. But, God? i'd still like to see the little guy pull through, okay? Thanks.

Wednesday, March 26, 2008

Day two.

Today i was less stressed about going to class--i realized just how anxious i was yesterday about attending these--will i fail and become a pain management drop out? Will i laugh during relaxation and get sent to whatever is the equivalent of a pain management principal? Will i accidentally have a little body mis-sound during circle time meditation and the other kids will laugh at me?

But today i felt a little less like a newbie--say a day less. i'm still having a hard time ignoring my pain and not talking about my pain but pulling out my notebook journal every hour to WRITE about my pain...

The doctor had me raise my medication just a half an original patch's worth, so now i'm at 62 mcg. i've already been so tired, but today i either had a totally awesome meditation/relaxation time, or i'm just so picking exhausted that i was nearly asleep. Snoring is bad enough, but i tend to talk in my sleep, and sometimes wave my hands about.

So we had 2 really good relaxation/meditation times today, and a nice walk in the beautiful blooming cherry blossoms day, and some stretching exercises plus some yoga poses. It's not exactly "Let's Get Physical" but it's probably physical enough for most of us. My balance stinks, so i was the only person who had to hold onto the counter to keep from falling over while learning to "braid walk." (Left foot across in front of right, right to normal position, left foot across behind right, and so on. Just try it! It's harder than it looks. For me anyway.)

i got to meet the psychologist today--she's this adorable little 12 year old girl. Very sweet, but it was like watching one of my kids play dress-up. For the last half hour we had an open "group" time where any of us can ask questions and bring up stuff we ordinarily can't. Everyone else was really quiet, even with a chance like that, so me being one to not waste, filled some time by asking a number of questions, ones so important i can't remember any of them right now.

i do feel a bit hopeful at this point. i hope that's not unfounded.

Thursdays are a free day for us, pain clinic is closed. i look forward to the break, even though i've only been there 2 days!

Tuesday, March 25, 2008

Pain Management Class--Day One.

"Observe the intelligence in your pelvis..."

This, among other intelligent body parts, were to be observed during our afternoon relaxation time in Pain Management Class, Level 3. i had a difficult time remaining relaxed, because this is what my intelligent brain wanted to say: "BwahHAHHAHHAH!"

Phew. There. Now i feel better having gotten that out.

i registered in the Kaiser clinic, and sat around in the waiting room trying to guess when people came in whether or not they were in pain class. "Hmmm...they're definitely wearing workout clothes...and tying shoes...could be." (They weren't.) "That guy is DEFinitely not in the class--those are jeans, and that's just a regular sweater." (He was.)

So the two guys and i were called into the class for an orientation session before being joined by the others already in the class. That only meant 3 or 4 other women, all in various week stages of the class--one in her 5th and final week, another in week 3, that sort of thing.

It seemed like we did an awful lot of relaxing/meditating--i'm already pretty sedate, and the 2nd of those, what with trying to stifle my giggles, was less relaxing. The session we had learning accupressure was pretty cool--i definately want to explore that some more.

There are rules upon rules, as i mentioned in my previous post about the class, one big one being "Keep it positive!" meaning we are not to talk about our pain, or say anything in lunch time that might bring up thoughts of medical things to others--to the point that we can't even say, "i had to take my dog to the vet's." We newbies just sat for a while, eating and looking furtively at the others, wondering if we dared to talk. i've never thought about my words so hard in my life!!

Anyway, stay tuned, and i'll let you know what other intelligent parts of me i need to listen to. Hoping my pelvis doesn't start talking back.

Sunday, March 23, 2008

More of my gorgeous little grands.

For this beautiful Bay Area Easter day, i thought i'd post some pictures of the grandkids from this side of the pond. They belong to our oldest daughter, Candie.

Trevor is nearly 16! i can barely believe it--i am DEFinitely not old enough to have a 15 year old grandson...

Haley, 10, loves fashion and posing for photos. She's the resident entertainer.

Cassidy, age 8, is their thinker, and loves math! Definitely got that from her dad's side of the family.

And here are the lovely grandgirls with their grandpa Dean. We love hanging out with them all!

Saturday, March 22, 2008

Mourning Home ec.

Linfield College, where i spent 2 1/2 years of my educational life, saw fit to close down their Home Economics department in the 90's. That sad fact was brought to my attention in their most recent alumni paper.

i spent some good times there, learning how to make a lined wool skirt, how to put in a great set in sleeve. i had the chance to explore the world of beautiful, big weaving looms and learn the nearly lost art of tatting. i liked music and i liked home ec, so i played with the idea of being a church song leader who also sewed the choir robes...couldn't think of many other ways to put those things together. Wasn't sure what i would do with the information, but i loved it. Teach me a little nutrition and the value of tiny, consistent hand-stitching, and i was a happy girl.

Even earlier in my life, i took Home Ec in both grade school and high school in my hometown of Portland, Oregon. i still have the black and white patterned apron i made in 7th grade, though i'm pretty sure the polka dot and striped dress (VERY fashionable at the time!) is long gone. And even if my classmates only ever let me set the table during the cooking parts, i still loved it.

My mother and grandmother both sewed. i was raised with creativity--i was an adult before i realized people went to the store and bought a sofa, rather than recovering an old one. And my grandma was great for teaching me little tricks--how to make a hand sewn hem that won't come all the way undone if it gets ripped a bit, or how to sew corners into a tote to make a square bottom. For all these things i am grateful.

The other day when i was working on one of the purses i've been making i realized that all these little bits of learning have compiled to bring together those very purses: the creativity, the hand-sewing, the square sewn bottoms, the love of fabrics and textures. There is a pure pleasure in coming up with an idea and my own pattern to execute the idea.

Home economics didn't get me a high paying executive job, neither did those square corners on bags. But they were all enriching things, earthy things, that ended up bringing me joy. i'm pretty sad that future students are going to miss out on that.

Monday, March 17, 2008

i can take it from a 3 year old...

More in the vein of "the things people say."

Standing in the store checkout, a cute little girl was seated in the cart behind me. She was playing with a cute squeaky duck given to her by her mother/grandmother pushing the cart. She was thrilled to share this noisy joy and kept squeaking and squeaking the duck. i'm not one to ignore little kids in a store, somehow i always need to say hi or play peek-a-boo from behind a cereal box with the littlest ones. This little cutie would squeak her toy, then look at me and laugh. i had said hi, and now was saying, "How fun that is!"

She looked at me with her dimpled grin and said, "Crazy lady!" i said, "Funny, that's what my grandkids say!" She of course had to laugh and repeat "Crazy lady!"--over and over. Her mom/grandma whispered something in her ear after the 45th repetition, and the little girl changed to, "Lady. Crazy. Lady. Crazy." until reprimanded to stop.

Pretty silly, pretty funny. Something about me just invites brutal honesty. First my hair, now this.

Sunday, March 16, 2008

Mother moments remembered.

Things i recall from childhood:

My mother, letting me lay in the bed on the bottom sheet while she "made" the bed, me giggling and happy.

When she let me use shaving cream on the bathtub to draw and finger paint with.

Washing the dirt out of my eyes after i stupidly looked up when my big brother threw a dirt clod in the air.

Her pushing a chest of drawers to block the top of the stairs with us upstairs, after she and my father argued when he was drunk.

The sight of her chain-smoking at the kitchen table, a distant look in her eyes.

Saturday, March 15, 2008

Oh, the things people say--

i sometimes disappoint my friends (*cough*Melimbo) by not having quick come-backs. My response in this case was that i was simply too polite. The real answer was closer to being in shock.

Another friend was waiting for me in the car after we'd shared pizza. i'd told her i wanted to ask a friend of hers in the pizza place about her adorable little girl's hair. You see, i have an adorable BIG boy who does not like the feel of any hair product on his hands. He's black, i'm hopelessly white where his hair is concerned, so it's been a lifelong struggle to keep his hair looking neat and cared for. So whenever there's a chance to ask for ideas without feeling like i'm mugging a total stranger, i ask.

This mom was sitting with a friend. As the mom and i discussed products and where to find them, her friend piped up. "I used to have hair like yours," she said. Several things ran through my mind: the shape, the great color, something along those lines. i put a humble smile on my face. An entirely different expression came to rest as i heard these words, "You know, fly-away."

Sunday, March 09, 2008

Apparently not that funny.

i tried to find a cartoon relating to today's subject, but apparently trying to help a teen understand finances and budgets is no laughing matter.

My son, as adorable as he is, as sweet as he can be, is not terribly receptive to the idea that he should not spend all of his paycheck on video games, movies, and fast food restaurants. Not unlike some of the recent discussions about chores, a great deal of heavy sighing accompanies these talks between he and i--and he's not so happy about it either.

We've done run-downs on the costs of keeping a house, and what his share of that would actually be if divided equally between those of us living here.

We've run the numbers on his income and disproportionate (and mostly unnecessary) spending.

We've discussed that a twenty hour a week job does not a fortune make, and yet a fortune does his entertainment take.

We've reviewed the costs, both monetarily and physically, of the work involved in providing things like the groceries and cleaning of and upkeep for a house and home.

All these discussions are part of our desire to help him become a wiser money manager and useful, contributing member of society. Besides, if he never learns to budget his money, how will i ever get that spare room for all my hobbies?

Wednesday, March 05, 2008

One of those days...

i had a dentist appointment this morning. You know, just a couple of x-rays, some tooth scrubbing, a reminder to floss, take my free toothbrush and head out.

But no. "Do you have an hour or so free right now?" Seems i have need of a crown on the left side and a filling on the right. Swell. And they can start the crown today.

"Well, i do have the time free, but this wasn't was i was planning to DO with it..."

Two very tiring hours later, i was done. i was simply too done in to do the shopping and errands i had thought to do after my appointment. i was chatting with one of the technicians about how fibromyalgia affects even the most mundane dentist appointment, reminding me for days that i've had something done.

As i was leaving, a man in the waiting room said, "Excuse me--did you say you have fibromyalgia?"

"Yes," i said, pausing at the door.

"My wife has it, you know, with the tender points on both sides of her body, all the way up and down," he said gesturing at spots on his body that i'm pretty familiar with. "She's a stresser and a worrier, what with work and the kids."

"Ah," i said. "So, how long has she had it?" i ask.

"Well, it's been about 3 or 4 years now, but she treated it with therapy and massage, stuff like that, and now she hasn't had it for a while," he said proudly.
"Well, good for her, that's great!" i said.

By this point i have a sore mouth and i'm depressed. i had 5 years of therapy, and numerous massages, yet i still have fibromyalgia. What's wrong with me? Why do i still hurt?

i loaded my sore mouth, my depression, my new lavender toothbrush and my constant companion fibromyalgia into the car and went home.

Tuesday, March 04, 2008

Thought i would post the links to other people's 6 word memoir memes who responded to my tagging them:

Hinsley at The Oxygen Chronicles
Jo over at Jo and Jd's Bits and Pieces

You would think this post took the shortest amount of time ever to write--but no, i must follow rabbit-trails throughout BlogLand....

Monday, March 03, 2008

Singularly stinky Sunday.

Above: my front garden, awash in oxalis (the yellow blooms.)
Yesterday was NOT a nice day for my fibro body.

Was it withdrawal from the previous medication i stopped taking last Monday? Was it simply that the new medication needs to be kicked up a few notches? i don't know.

All i do know is that all the nasty pain from the previous week culminated in exhaustion and crankiness from the pain--added to the actual pain itself, which was bad enough. It was one of those "oyster" days where i just wanted to curl up into the fetal position and ignore the world. My dear hubby said, "I wish I could help! What if you sat in the hot tub for a while? I'll go get it ready." He did, and i did.

When i feel that lousy, it's actually hard to get myself to do the things that might make me feel better, so it helped for him to encourage me to. On those oyster days my spirit droops into neverending winter, and feels as though spring will never come. In actuality, here in the lovely California Bay Area, we are having amazingly warm and beautiful weather. Trees are budding, flowers are blooming, and the oxalis has overtaken my yard. In some parts of the country i think people plant it on purpose for ground cover, here it is a weed. Appearance of this weed-flower signals the approach of spring (and the need for extreme weeding.) And yet, in my oyster days, all is dark and bleak and flowerless.

i put on my swimsuit and lowered myself painfully into the hot tub--lovely warmth that encompasses my sore body, and takes the pressure off for a bit. But the bleakness accompanied me. As i lay there, i caught the movement of something above my head--a butterfly! Black with bright gold tipped wings, it made its crazy way across the yard, causing me to look up and see the clear blue sky and the signs of life budding on my poplar tree. And then a small chirping bird, and another butterfly! Spring was coming!

It was as if God was reminding me: "Spring will always come, there will always be life after the dark of winter."

It may come in the form of a beautiful yellow flower that i have not been able to kill in the nearly 30 years we've lived in this house, or the more preferred appearance of butterflies, but it does come. On oyster days that is something i need to remember.