Chronicles of an Ice Pack Queen

So the battle continues. It’s been about a week and a half since my last post and not much has changed. The rib pain and I continue to do our dance. It’s driving me bonkers and making what little gains in sleep I had been getting (amen to four hours in a row) regress back to two or three hour chunks. The interesting thing is the ice packs and heating pads both feel good when they are on but they both provide little long-term relief. Such is life. I am either freezing or sweating…

I did make it to meditation with Mom this week, and I still can’t believe how much I enjoy it. I am not really good at it yet, but it’s a wonderful practice. I feel very “relaxed and zen” afterwards…like I’ve had a deep rest. I can see how working this into my daily life at some point is going to be incredibly valuable.

Also hit the gym with Jen once. It was super light. A little bit on the more horizontal bike, some light weights on the circuit and then as a reward….hydro therapy massage bed. O.M.G. That thing is amazing. I use it as my motivation to get to the gym.

I also had a call from long-term disability, which was good in the sense of my file moving forward but stressful at the same time. Hubby actually saw great humour and irony in the fact that they called the cognitively impaired person to have her talk extensively, and with great detail and articulation, about her impairments. I hadn’t thought about that until he mentioned it. I was comfortable knowing the call was coming and felt completely equipped and ready but after I told hubby about the conversation, I realized that I may not have been the right person to ask.

I didn’t tell her how I used to love to get up in the mornings and spend a 45 minutes in my beautiful “get ready room” putting on makeup and curling my hair. I haven’t touched a blow dryer, curling iron or straightener since the end of June and haven’t shellacked my face even once…sniff….And, if I am being honest with y’all, cause you know that’s how we roll, I rarely even brush my hair. I just tie it up on the top of my head. Hubby said he’s see it down once this summer, and I didn’t even style it, I just brushed it. Sad.

I didn’t tell her how I used to love to take a nice, luxurious bath every single night. It was my thing. The idea is now overwhelming. When did taking a bath get over-fawking-whelming??? Getting in, washing, shaving, climbing out, drying, moisturizing…..I. Just. Can’t. I take a bath once a week now, and it’s usually on laundry day when hubby wants to wash my gym pants. I live in the same pair (and same shirt) day and night until laundry day when Hubby says they can stand on their own and enough is enough…

I didn’t tell her how I used to golf and how deeply I loved it but haven’t seen a green this year…haven’t felt the glove in my hand, the connection to the ball, the FUN and laughs Hubby and I used to have. And how I would normally be gearing up with excitment for a winter season of snowmobiling, downhill skiing, cross country skiing and snow shoeing. Instead I am gearing up to sell our snowmobiles because I couldn’t go even if we had enough snow.

I didn’t tell her about the many family events and activities I’ve had to enjoy via photos on Facebook after the fact instead of attending in person because I am in too much pain to attend. It broke my heart to miss this year’s annual pumpkin carving day…I sit home and cry…I feel like a failure. I feel like I am letting everyone down, all the fawking time, but I don’t know how to make it better and even if I did, I am not sure I’d have the energy, or smarts, to make it happen.

I didn’t tell her that Hubby (and very close friends and family) talk a lot about how different I am, both in personality and in how I look. How my spark is gone. How droopy my eyes are. How gray my skin can get. How overwhelmed and exhausted I look. And the celebration we have when I have a day where I seem more alert. My God, I used to be ON FAWKING FIRE and now “being alert” is a win. WTF!

She asked about hobbies, and I told her about my blog and how much it helps. But I didn’t tell her that what used to take me an hour or two to write, now takes me three or four days. The struggle to find words and sentences to string together to express how I feel and think, something that used to come to me as naturally as breathing, now takes exhaustive effort (and extensive rewrites). Must I lose this too?

I didn’t tell her about how insane my brain feels like inside. How it’s on some kind of frantic loop, ALL THE TIME! When I  think about something (like groceries I need Hubby to get, a bill I need to remember to pay, or something I want to research), how it plays over and over and over and over and over and over in my head. And that as soon as I stop and try to make said list, do the research or pay the bill, as soon as I stop to DO IT, it disappears…POOF…and I am left with a thread of something I know I needed to do…but  can no longer remember. I mean, we’ve all experienced that from time to time but this is like your every-so-often experience just snorted fifteen lines of cocaine. Somedays I wonder if I am losing my mind. Is this what going crazy feels like?

I didn’t tell her that I have to watch TV or read to the point of exhaustion so that I can shut my brain off long enough to ignore the pain and the racing thoughts so I can fall asleep. It’s this endless loop of OCD insanity about shit I don’t even care about. Honestly, I’ve always found great comfort in talking to myself but now I can’t shut myself up. WTF?

I didn’t tell her how every day I feel like I lose a little bit more of myself and that I am starting to wonder if I’ll ever get it back. Or that I am barely keeping the question of “what will you do if this is it…if this is your life here on out…” at arm’s length because if it comes any closer, I am terrified I will shatter into a million pieces and lose myself completely.

Hubby asked why I didn’t tell her all of that (and more…) and honestly, when put on the spot, I just don’t have the cognitive ability to pull it together. I needed time to think and ponder the questions, consider the information, talk to Hubby or Mom to get their perspective. Information, knowledge and understanding that used to be accessible in a split second now takes hours or days to process, make sense of and put together.

But also, I think it’s something we are either naturally tuned to doing or maybe it’s part of how we are raised. I feel like it’s in our nature to downplay how shitty we feel, how extensive the impairments are and the true impact of life’s challenges on one’s life. People ask how I am doing all the time, and I say “the same…still fighting the good fight…” and I usually move into either talking about what new thing might help or I move the conversation to them. But don’t we all do that, to some degree anyway?

Your coworker or bestie fires you a text to ask how you are and frankly, you’ve had an all star shitty morning…got in a fight with your man, your kids were grating on your last nerve, you had terrible night sleep, got some kind of weird kink in your neck, you didn’t have time to eat and you have a deadline hanging over your head but you reply “not bad…you? Wanna do lunch this week and catch up?

I mean honestly, when people ask me “how are you?” do they really want to hear the same shit, every time…that I am still drowning in pain, that there is never, ever a single fawking moment in the day where I am without pain humming through my body…how every single time I wake up from sleep, it’s from that pain literally vibrating through my body…in my feet, my ankles, my calves, my thighs, my arms, my back, my neck, my ribs etc…and that it never stops. That medications help take the edge off but nothing stops the pain. That I am so deeply depressed that it’s getting harder and harder to honestly care if I’ll ever get better.

Instead I hit the high points. Had four hours sleep in a row a couple days ago, the rib pain is still pretty nasty but I’m getting through it, and starting to look at a plant-based diet to see if that helps…

Frankly I think it’s a coping mechanism too. I reread this post and shuddered. I could EASILY drown in self pity, frustration and anger if I sat and thought about what I’ve lost thus far, how far I’ve fallen, and the fact that we don’t know when, or even if, I’ll get my old self back day in and day out, every day. Mother of God! I have to keep it high level, not just with other people, but I guess with myself as well, so that I can hang onto what little will and motivation I have to keep pushing. Pushing to try a better diet, to try meditating, to call the chronic pain guy, to reach out to see a psychologist, to try to get out of the house a couple times a week, to take that bath once a week…

If I didn’t, I’m not sure I’d ever get out of this gravity chair again.

Natalie

Chronicles of a Gravity Chair Addict

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Bad week. What can I say, the pity party has continued in full force. The left side rib pain has been excruciating. Nothing seems to help. Medication, bath, ice, heat, massage…doesn’t matter, the pain just continues. It’s like a dark shadow hanging over me, weighing me down, tearing at my hope…

Sleep has proved equally elusive. I get two or three hour chunks through the course of the day. But every time I move or cough, the pain wakes me up like a gun shot to my side. And it usually takes me a couple of hours to relax and find peace in sleep again. Torturous. Not to mention the fabulous sleep-deprived side effects…I am even more of a klutz and memory moron than before…what fun for hubby! Oh it’s a party here…

Although the doc sent me for X-rays last Monday (and I haven’t heard back from her), I finally gave in and hit the hospital yesterday with Jen. It wasn’t bad. In and out in two and a half hours. The doc was able to bring up my X-rays from Monday, and, just as I suspected, nothing showed. Nothing broken, nothing cracked, no pneumonia, no bronchitis. Everything all clear. Frustration was shooting out my nostrils while my shoulders hung in defeat…I swear to God I am not making this shit up, it isn’t all in my head.

At least with my ribs, there is ample swelling to prove I am not in lala land on this. It’s like a third tit has grown beneath my left breast. Ok, a small one but a tit none the less. Oh goodie, more fun for hubby. Maybe I’ll draw a nipple on it with my eyebrow pencil and really freak him out. I mean, what other fun can a girl have with a third tit…am I right or am I right?!

The doc said it’s likely that I’ve torn the muscles between my ribs when I had that awful cold three weeks ago (it’s still hanging around). And he assured me that although incredibly painful, all the drugs I am on should be offering me some relief. They aren’t. He is an outright liar. Bastard.

Jen was like a Mamma bear with her cub. It was awesome. She took control and demanded that the doctor do something, she told him that I’ve been in pain for months and that something had to be done…unacceptable!! My superstar health advocate!!! It was fun watching him try to dance around her razor sharp glare. She’s small but mighty. I think he was scared. Run and hide doctor man, she will find you!!!!

Sadly, no matter how much pressure she applied (and trust me, she made him work for it) the only concession he gave was that I could take my anti-inflammatory three times a day, instead of two, and I could double my dose of Tramadol (which I already had). Goodie goodie gumdrops…

I am sure he’d have prescribed some stronger narcotic pain meds if I asked, but I am trying my damndest to avoid them. Too many horror stories. If I have to live in pain, so be it. I’d rather that than risk addiction. Not to mention past experience tells me I can’t take them since I generally just barf them up. My body is naturally opposed I guess. LOL!

Doc said I can expect this pain party to last at least six to eight weeks. Woot woot. No worries, at this point I laugh in the face of long-term pain. Six to eight weeks…BAH….I’ve been in pain for months, this should be a joke!!! Bring it on pain man…I can rest and sit around like no one else can! Gravity chair ignite!!

Speaking of my trusted and long-loved super weapon, the gravity chair, I continue to live in it, by day and night. The deepest sadness is that it means hubby and I haven’t slept in the same bed together much in the past seven months. However, I take great comfort knowing I am not keeping him up all night with my tossing, turning, moaning and wandering. The gravity chair does offer me the most pain relief. It’s like God’s little gift to me. Thanks Big Guy!!! Hubby and I still find time to cuddle in bed for a couple hours (with endless back tickles and hair pulls…he is THE best) before I venture out to my gravity delight for bed…

And more light, to distract myself (and pass the long nights awake) I’ve gone on a documentary binge fest on Netflix.

I have to say, very interesting stuff that has kept my mind nicely occupied. Given everything going on with my health, I’ve certainly been looking into a radical lifestyle change. My ultimate goal/dream/hope is that I can get everything under control, get off all medications and return to vibrant health through healthy eating, exercise and meditation. And no matter my current situation, I hang on to that dream like a life preserve.

As you know, I started out about eight weeks ago doing the elimination diet outlined in The Plan with my Dad. And although I have seen some improvements in a slight weight decrease and a little bit more energy (not to mention I LOVE the food), thus far I haven’t seen any improvement in pain, sleep or depression. Actually things have gotten worse with this new rib pain.

Now, I get it, it’s only been eight weeks so maybe I have unreasonable expectations (shocker!!!) but I’ve felt the need to continue investigating. And I am really sold on this plant-based eating.

Slaughter house aside with great difficulty, I had no idea the damage the agriculture and animal food industries are doing to our beloved planet. We all need to do our part to reduce our carbon footprint, but did you know that these two interdependent industries are responsible for more environmental damage than the entire transport industry – WHAT?!?!?!

An acre of our rainforest is destroyed every second to create more pastures for grazing cattle. And, the land and resources required to grow the corn and grain to feed said animals could feed the entire world. Shut the front door! Now I look at a piece of steak or chicken and realize that children around the world continue to starve so that I can eat meat. Impactful.

And if that wasn’t enough to motivate me, a lot of research like the China Study has convinced me that a plant-based diet is just better for our health. I do say Jones, I may just have to give it a go. Now I am no expert, and I am certainly not posting this to have a lengthy moral debate about meat…I am just sayin’ this information has given me great deal of food for thought, and, in my situation, that’s like hope crack for a starving addict. I’ll take it where I can get it!

I borrowed the lovely Julie’s juicer, and think I may try a 10-14 day juice cleanse and then transition over to a plant-based diet. I picked up a couple of Vegan cookbooks, and Mom has enrolled us in a 4-week plant-based cooking course starting in late November. Squeee!!

Although the elimination diet has included testing meat (which for the most part I tested non-reactive to), one of the greatest things it did was get me trying veggies and cooking that was way outside my comfort level. And better yet, I’ve learned that I LOVE both.

It may sound crazy but I feel like The Plan (which I learned about from my aesthetician) came to me to help me open doors to new ways of eating and living that I love. I feel like it’s gotten me to the point where I actually feel ready, and freaking eager, to take the next step. We shall see. More research and reading to be done (not like I don’t have time), and I shall come up with a plan. Stay tuned…

Happy Day my peeps!

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Today I live in the dark…

Dang. I swear I’ve been meaning to start writing every day. My friends and family have been encouraging me to share more often because my journey might help others. But honestly it feels weird to be posting less then super happy posts, just not my style but then again, not much is my style these days.

I’ve been trying my hardest to focus on how I can contribute to my health improvement. About six or even eight weeks ago, I started an elimination diet to identify foods that cause inflammation in my body. And more importantly, identify foods that don’t. It’s called The Plan by Lyn-Genet Recitas. I have to say the food and recipes are AMAZING, and I’ve felt pretty damn proud of myself for learning to cook, trying new foods and sticking with it. It’s been HARD because the grocery shopping and cooking are exhausting when I already feel deeply depleted but I keep at it. I’m down 10 pounds and have found foods and recipes I love and that work well with my body.

Unfortunately, I haven’t seen the pain reduction I was hoping for. The doc keeps telling me to be patient, it takes time, but I had really hoped this was going to be the ticket. That within a week or two, I would start to feel my body coming back into its own. That pain would release me from it’s constant, never ceasing clutches. Alas, not yet.

I’ve also joined a low-cost gym here in town. I go three times a week for a very light work out (20 minutes cardio and some light weights through a circuit). The gym has a hydro massage bed, which was really the motivation for joining. It’s delightful.

And I’ve started meditating twice a week to learn better stress management techniques. I gotta say this was the thing that has surprised me most – how much I absolutely LOVE doing it. It’s like a dream. Feels. So. Good!

To help me keep on track, I’ve implemented a buddy system. I am doing to the eating plan with my Dad who bought the book and is following The Plan with me. We get together weekly to try new foods and talk about our discoveries. For the gym, my gal pal Jennifer has joined me at this unsuspecting torture chamber. Jen is also helping me research about plant-based eating and…we started JUICING. Julie lending me the juicer to try and always at the ready to help walk and exercise the pups and lend a shoulder and ear. Laura with her limitless compassion, love and support encouraging me every single day….helping me to fight the darkness with understanding. And of course Mom, a meditation guru, is teaching me to meditate. We get together twice a week to zen ourselves into relaxation oblivion. Mom has also graciously signed us up for a weekly plant-based cooking course starting in November. And my amazing coworkers/friends with messages and text letting me know they have my back…

Not to mention hubby who is my champion, my strongest supporter and my world. He eats my food, offers to cook, cleans up after I destroy the kitchen, listens to my complaints and wins with equal interest. He who runs my baths, tickles my back for hours and pulls my hair just perfectly…his endless tender hugs, massages and limitless love…he who never gives up…he is my bright light holding my hand through the darkness….

All this work and effort and the pain is still as excruciating as ever. In some respects, worse because I know I am doing all the right things, but it feels like I am just banging my head up against a brick well. Hanging on by a thread. Frustration and anger threatening to swallow even more of my fragile spirit. What’s the point? I have such little energy and mental capacity to draw from, without seeing vast improvements, it’s hard to stay motivated. It’s hard to find the will and strength to keep trying.

I know it doesn’t help that yesterday and especially last night was an especially bad one. My back….my ribs (new pain that started a couple weeks ago)…my feet and ankles…my legs…and a migraine from hell just to top it all off. By 8 pm, I felt utterly consumed by pain. Unable to think, unable to breath, unable to move…my body torturing me for hours none stop. No matter what I ate, medication I took, relaxing breath I took…the pain wouldn’t stop, wouldn’t let up. It feels like I live constantly in its clutches…in the dark. Endless tears sliding down my cheeks as desperation fills my soul. I want to crawl into bed and never get out.

How does one stay centered on doing “all the right things” when bad days still outnumber decent days??? When the results you need to see, ache to experience, yearn to feel…are as elusive as winning the lottery…

Today I give in to the darkness…today I wallow in self-pity…today I give myself permission to throw in the towel and just be in pain and sadness. Today I allow myself to wonder if I’ll ever come out of this on the other side…today I eat McDonald’s and cry.

Tomorrow, I’ll hit the gym, cook and meditate. Tomorrow I’ll hope for better…

I confess damn it…I’ve been avoiding WordPress

It’s 3:30 in the morning. My dog woke me up because she felt she was being squeezed out from her comfy spot. I made room, she came back but now sleep is elusive. So I figure fawk it, it’s time to write a post.

Yes, I promised you the ever enthralling “When a shit isn’t a shit…” and I swear it’s all written and ready to go but, I have a confession to make. I’ve been avoiding WordPress.

My last post eliciting a huge outpouring of support, not just here on the blog but via Facebook, phone calls, emails, private messages. WOW! I’ve been overwhelmed and blown away by how deeply and unconditionally people care. How blessed I feel!!! I shouldn’t be surprised because deep down, that is what I believe our world is full of – exceptionally caring and loving people – but for whatever reason this did surprise me. In a good way. And I’ve wanted to follow up, shout out, write witty blog posts to keep you all entertained beyond measure, as my thank you and also to keep my promise that this blog won’t be all doom and gloom. But every time I think about blogging, I freeze.

Why?

Cause since then it’s been pretty gloomy. Fawk!

The days haven’t been horrible but they haven’t been great. The pain is exhausting. The brain fog no joke. And I’ve been so depressed lately. On the good side, I’ve been trying a new eating approach. It’s actually an elimination diet to find out what foods cause inflammation in each of us uniquely. And frankly, I’ve loved it. Love the food; except that whole flax seed granola the author said was so amazing you’d be addicted to it…ummm…NO!. I’ve tried every blasted way to get that shit down to no avail. Now if I even catch a glimpse of the container, my stomach threatens to grab my lady bits and turn them inside out. I digress. The food. Ah yes. Other than the whole flaxseed granola from hell, I’m actually enjoying the food. Frankly, it’s AMAZING! And most importantly, I love that I feel like I am finally learning to cook, to feed my body what it thrives on….figuring out spices I like, trying new things (Manchego cheese…who knew?!?!). It’s awesome.

But it’s fawking EXHAUSTING!

And that depresses me. I’ve been doing this for seven days (I know, I know…rush much!). I hit the grocery store every other day, come home and cook for an hour or two (usually covers a couple lunches and suppers) and then I. am. done. For like days….yesterday and today I couldn’t even bring myself to hit the grocery store. Today I had to rest ALL DAY just so would have enough energy and enough pain management to go see a movie with my mother tonight. Seriously?!

WTF? And the pain….no better. I know, I know…it takes time. But my God I just need relief.

So that’s where I am at. Thursday I took the dogs for a play date for an hour, and I was absolutely wrecked after. Had a huge breakdown when I got home. Had another huge breakdown when hubby got home. I am so fawking sad. I miss the girl I used to be so desperately. The easy laughter. The energy. The sharp, witty mind. The optimism. It all feels like it’s gone, and hanging on to hope that it’s going to get better, that I just need to hang in there, is getting harder and harder every. single. day.

So that’s why I am hear at now 3:53 am. Confessing my avoidance. Admitting my fear that I just won’t be good enough. That I just won’t be able to deliver like I used to. I can’t.

So here’s what I decided. It may be all doom and gloom for awhile but shit, I’ll do my best to at least try to make it somewhat funny, if I can. But I need an outlet. I need a place to put it all out there. To share with whoever is listening. To make sure the world knows about how hard this actually is. I am not sitting home watching Downton Abbey eating bonbons happy as a clown (well ok….fawk….I have been binging on Downton Abbey and I do eat Werthers pretty steadily to combat the chronic fawking dry mouth…can anyone say PARCHED??? But I am definitely NOT happy as a clown), and frankly I’d rather be anywhere feeling productive, alive, vibrant and witty as all get out than here in bed with my bonbons, my pain and the pups (although the pups do make it less sucky).

So there, I’m going to just say it like it is for the next however long. And to combat feeling like a chronic whining fool yanging on about how I feel like an 80-year-old woman all the time, albeit hubby does say I walk like one hobbling around in the morning, I am no longer going to link my blog posts to Facebook or Twitter. Well after this one. I just don’t want to put it out there like that. I don’t want to subject anyone to any more negativity than they already have to fight through every day.

If you want to follow along, check out my blog regularly or heck, subscribe, but otherwise, I’m keeping this to WordPress so at least I don’t feel quite so…IN YOUR FACE with my shit.

And again, thank you so much to everyone out there who offers love and support. I may not reach out much but please know I appreciate it…deeply!

Hugs…

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Fibro what????

Some people know. A lot don’t.

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I’ve been off work on sick leave most of the summer. Honestly, I think this has been a few years coming. Things slowly started getting more and more overwhelming. But hey, I had lost a job, got a new job (albeit not permanent), got permanent, wasn’t sure if it would last and was volunteering A LOT. I had every reason to feel overwhelmed, foggy, dizzy, exhausted and slightly sore (like all over….a lot).

I threw my back out three years ago and it never really got better. I seemed to experience a lot of muscle injuries (going up one flight of stairs could debilitate my walking ability for days but I’m out of shape so that’s normal right???). I didn’t really realize or maybe I didn’t want to accept that it kept getting worse. Little by little so the impact on “normal” was so subtle I never really noticed the slow but detrimental deteriation going on.

imageLast year I fell out of my chair at work a couple times because I was so dizzy, couldn’t tell if the car was actually stopped at street lights because it felt like I was on a boat. I couldn’t concentrate. Felt really burned out. I thought depression or anxiety. I saw the doctor and started on Celexa and it helped. A lot. Phew…dodged a bullet.

Then early this year, the pain became unbearable. Excruciating pain in my back and my left arm left me sleepless for weeks. The pain was so intense, I didn’t really clue in that I was also hurting all over. Getting out of bed in the mornings felt like I was eighty years old, crippled and achy. I couldn’t get moving. My spirit felt like it was dying. My sparkle was dim. People were noticing I wasn’t myself. I thought it was just sleep deprivation so hubby and I took an impromptu trip down south just the two of us to se if that helped.

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I didn’t sleep any better through the night but I was able to nap and rest more during the day than I had in months. I came back and felt better. Felt more myself. Not 100% but better. People commented….people had noticed I seemed better. Phew…I just needed a week away.

But it didn’t take long for the pain, exhaustion, dizziness, mental incapacitation and depression to come back and when it hit, it hit like a ton of bricks. I was no longer able to hold it together. I started crying…like all the time…everywhere…at work. Someone would come in and ask how I was doing and I’d fall apart like a blubbering idiot. I had extensive. bloods work, I went to physio, I had X-rays (that showed arthritis in my back but nothing to explain the severe and debilitating arm pain I was experiencing), not to mention my entire body felt like it was breakdown…inside I felt helpless and consumed by darkness.

I saw the doc and fell apart. She put me off work for a week and upped my anti-depressant. She added an anti-inflammatory to help with the never-ending pain and a sleep aid to help my muscles relax so I could get some continuous sleep. I felt hopeful. I thought onice the medications kicked in and I started sleeping, everything would be fine. Everything would go back to normal. A week turned into eight and here I am. A little better but no where near healthy.

Fibromyalgia….The mayo clinic defines it as a “disorder characterized by widespread musculoskeletal pain accompanied by fatigue, sleep, memory and mood issues. Researchers believe that fibromyalgia amplifies painful sensations by affecting the way your brain processes pain signals.

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I’ve been on the medications for about eight weeks now and my doctor says this is about as far as I’ll get with the current protocol. And to be honest, I do have more good days then bad but let’s be real, my “good” days aren’t what they used to be.

A good day means four or five hours straight before being woken up by pain, somewhere in my body. It means I can get up in the morning even though the pain in my back, ankles, calves and shins threatens to flatline me. It means if hubby gives me a little leg massage to help loosen me up, he can actually touch me without it feeling like he’s surgically carving me up. A good day means once I am up and around for an hour or so, the pain seems to settle to a dull, constant ache. A good day means no migraine but maybe a headache. A good day means maybe I can take the dogs for a 10 to 2o-minute walk (no hills) or throw the ball with the launcher for them without suffering from excruciating leg, arm and back pain. A good day means I can visit with one person for maybe an hour or two before  exhaustion takes over. A good day means I am sporadically vertical for four or five hours before I need to lay down (gravity chair preferred) and rest for four or five hours so that I will be coherent enough to enjoy supper, a chat and maybe watch a show or two with hubby.

More good days than bad. Before the medications, there were next to no good days. Now, I am averaging about two to three good days a week, with one or two “so-so” days and the rest….hell. And once a bad day hits, it can feel like forever to get the good days back.

A bad day means literally no sleep the night before, every toss and turn feeling like being struck by a hot poker startling me awake gasping for breath. My hands going so numb that it feels like I am wearing giant mittens. A bad day means a migraine and body pain in my arm, back, legs, neck and ankles so intense hubby can hardly touch me, and I usually drug myself into oblivion to try and somewhat sleep through it. A bad day means every. single. time. I get up to pee it feels like pins and needles attacking my entire system while a 200-pound man surprise punches me every two to three minutes. A bad day means that wearing a bra feels like someone is going 10 rounds on my ribs. It means crying, isolation, hopelessness and feeling so overwhelmed by a sense of complete and utter sadness and despair that sometimes I wonder what is the damn point?!?!?! Bad days….leave me feeling so desperately betrayed by my body.

And that’s just the physical. The mental issues have been challenging to say the least. And they don’t seem to respond to the ebb and flow of good and bad days. They remain a constant. Hubby says that the brain fog is so bad, it’s not even fun to torment me anymore. You know it’s bad when…I know stupid is an ugly word but it’s the only one that sums up how I feel. Stupid. Numb. Dense. Seriously, sometimes I sit for nearly an entire minute trying to remember the damn word I wanted to use. Now that happens to all of us but it happens to me FREQUENTLY every. single. day! It feels like my beautifully sharp mind has turned to mush.

The fog, forgetfulness, depression, dizziness….it’s paralyzing. It makes me feel like an integral part of what makes me….me…is missing. It’s just gone. And I often wonder if it’ll ever come back.

I gotta say. I’ve gone through some shit in my life but this one has truly kicked me on my ass. It’s been hell. But in the darkness, comes the light. And y’all know I haven’t been alone. And I can’t express the gratitude I have in my heart for hubby and for my family and friends who have been the most amazing support system ever.

The next step is seeing a specialist. While I wait for an appointment (New Brunswick healthcare for my worldly friends who wonder “why is she waiting….”), God help me, I am going to implement a major lifestyle change. It’s either that or more intense medications.

Although the lifestyle changes will be WAY more arduous and require a determination and commitment that frankly I am not sure I even have in me…it’s the step I’ve chosen to take. From my research, I can’t discount the power that nutrition and supplements, relaxation and meditations, along with some light exercise could have on improving my health. And although popping a pill might seem easier, in the long run it won’t be. Medications come with their own hazards, and going any further down that road is my last resort. I need to see how far I can get with a lifestyle change before I am willing to take on those side effects.

So be prepared my friends because relaunching this blog is part of my healing journey and lifestyle changes. I plan to take y’all with me through the ups and downs, the good days and bad, the successes and the fails. Every. Painful. Step. Starting mid-September, I am going to embark on implementing some pretty significant changes that involve eating very differently  (I am going to have to learn to cook…you know like fresh food…), implementing a supplement regime that gives new meaning to the words “excessive and complex”, using meditation and relaxation techniques along with a stretching and exercise program daily.

Even though this blog is going to be part of my healing journey, I promise this isn’t going to be all doom and gloom…y’all know I got some hilarity that MUST be unleashed (if I can find my words)….like my next planned post “When a Shit Isn’t Really a Shit…” Stay tuned for the fun…

What about you? Any summer struggles this year? How do you live your best life?

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Battling my glamping nemesis

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Have you ever been afraid of something that it almost paralyzed you with fear. Likely irrational but paralyzingly none the less. Well we all know I love camping. And in the recent years hubby and I upgraded to glamping now with a fifth wheel trailer and all the accutramonts that go with it…leather recliners, TVs, a sofa, heat, AC, vaulted ceilings. You get the picture.

Well the one thing we haven’t been able to “glamp-up” is the fact that regardless of how fancy the trailer and accessories are, glamping still involves the great outdoors. And for 99% of the time, that is one of the most favorable parts of glamping. Getting outside, enjoying the sun, sand, trees, sunsets, campsite fires, s’mores, breath taking views etc. The other 1%….bugs.

Insects, ants, spiders, earwigs, fireflies, butterflies, moths, mosquitoes. All annoying, some even slightly frightening but none as terrifying for me as the pine borer beetle. So terrifying that I cannot even go google thieve a picture of the nasty bugger for you without anxiety rushing through my blood. The fear is completely irrational. As far as I know these flying fawkers don’t even bite but when are fears ever logical??? Am I right or am I right?

Now given that I do nearly all my glamping with hubby close by, the plight of facing a pine borer beetle on my own is relatively slim to none. My outdoorsy hubby strikes fear in all such four (or more) legged insects that dare cross our fair camp site area. Armed with Kleenex and a fly sweater, they are no match for my armed and dangerous fighter of flyers. *Swoon*

Alas this summer has seen me doing a fair amount of glamping on my own during the day while hubby is at work (another story for another time). And on one such  day I was lounging in my glorious gravity chair, enjoying the awning-provided shade…pups quietly bustling nearby when I heard a sound…THWAP….TIC! Obviously some insect had erroneously interrupted my perfectly relaxed perch and hit the awning and landed on the nearby picnic table. Now…always on guard for said nasty pine borer beetle I opted to “not” look trusting said intruder to move it along.

A few seconds passed and I realized that, like a horror movie one can’t stop watching, even through spliced fingers, I HAD to look…because if this was a daring pine borer beetle attacking my hallowed grounds, it was much too close to ignore given their slow moving and tenacious nature. I slowly guided the gravity chair to a more straight forward position and with the stealthness of a highly trained sniper, slowly…oh so slowly…I peered to the top of the picnic table. And what to my horror did I discover by a fawking pine borer beetle. O. M. G.

I lept from my gravity chair with the nimbleness of a world-class gymnast. My heart in my throat. My stomach twisting and twirling. My head spinning. I swallowed. What the fawk was I going to do?!?! It was perched on the picnic table with obviously NO intention of traveling along. Aaaaaannnndddd…now that I had set my sights on the damn thing, I couldn’t just ignore it not knowing where it’s next landing would be…my head…an arm…a foot…eeeeekeee…the only positive bit of news was that it hadn’t landed ON me to begin with.

As a young girl, I grew up in the country and the fear of these bastage bugs began when multiple times I’d feel like something was tickling my head and when I’d reach up, I’d pull one of these buggers out of my hair. Can YOU imagine?!?!?! My hair!!!!!

I took a deep breath. Knowing hubby was a 40-minute drive away, I didn’t think it’d be appropriate to call him to come handle my shit. It was 1:30 in the afternoon and I knew my friend Petra was coming to visit at 2 pm. Could I wait that long? I didn’t think so…fawk, I was going to have to put on my big girl panties and handle the situation!

Now as you can imagine, although we camp in fairly spacious campgrounds, the proximity of the gravity chair and that trailer door to the picnic table was only about 5 feet. Cutting it close. I know!

I rushed to the stairs and entered the trailer. Starring the devil down, I willed it to move along but it seemed utterly content to sunbath where it was.

I looked around. No fly swatter. All I had were my flip flops. My concern was, given the weapon at hand, the required distance and proximity the flip flop would require in my attempts to slaughter the beast. I’d have to get close. Like INCHES away to mount a successful venture. I reached down and adjusted my lady balls, grabbed the flip flop and headed to the great outdoors to come face-to-face with my glamping nemesis. I was going to do this. Hubby was going to be proud. I was going to be hailed a hero. All would bow to my uber strength and courage.

I slowly crept up to the picnic table. I chose the side that ensured a back side approach. It would never see me coming. I aimed. I aimed again. Precision was key to ensure there’d be no counter attack. I took a few deep breaths to tame my nausea. Without actually looking at it (it’s soooo gross the near sight of it renders me useless), I raised my arm and prepared….this was it…I was going to do this….

WHACK!

I missed. The bastard bug bounced. About a foot CLOSER to me. O. M. G.

I did a strange sun dance or rain dance while taking gigantic deep breaths. I am sure the neighbors thought I was hammered.

Ok, I realized I was obviously unable to get close enough to strike it. My only choice….throw the flip flop with such force that I would ensure its demise. Perfect!

I stepped back. About 2 feet away and took aim. Steady…..steady….

WHACK!

I struck but only on the left side. Now it was crawling along the side of the picnic table.

Would this thing not just die. Give up. Leave!!!!!! God was testing me. Ok….Ok….Let’s dance!

One flip flop astray under the picnic table but one more left in my hand. I threw again with even MORE force mentally willing said flop to send this fawker flying into tomorrow.

Fawking thing landed on the mat UNDER the picnic table still crawling. WTF?!?!?! Are these things even killable?!?! Is their body made of armor??? And now both my best weapons lay inches from my enemy. Screwed. I sat down on the chair furthest from the prick and took a couple deep breaths.

WAIT. Arizona. My dog. She loves to eat EVERYTHING! Yes, I shall sick her on the beast and watch it be devoured by my savior. Yes, it would be gross. I’d likely have to look away but I was out of options and desperate.

I went around to the opposite side of the table. In my happiest voice I called Arizona….

“Arizona…come on girl…what’s this…what’s that on the ground???? You want it…eat it for mommy!! Come on baby girl…destroy the beast for mommy!!!”

She sniffed and casually walked away to go lay in the grass. What kind of guard dog IS SHE??????

At this point the damn thing had quietly crawled to the edge of the outdoor mat and was making it’s way UNDERNEATH it. What in God’s name was I going to do now??? I mean, out of sight out of my mind??? I could try. Lucky for me Petra arrived shortly after and distracted me.

When hubby got home that evening, I had him inspect underneath all the three mats to ensure we were pine borer beedle free, to which we were. Where the bastard went and when I’ll never know. Lesson learned, when I relax outside now I keep one eye open and a fly swatter and broom within reach. I know the little fawker is likely arming another attack and perhaps with friends but this time I’ll be ready!!!

What about you? Any irrational fears?

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I’m BAAAAAAAACCCCCCKKKKKK!!!

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Four years…seriously!?! It’s been three years since I’ve written a blog post. Wow. I only meant to take a six month hiatus but life just took over and three years have blown by. Oops. So let me bring you up to speed.

  • MADD volunteering – hundreds of hours.
  • Bought a couple of old snowmobiles, blew one up, bought two more old snowmobiles. Lots of snowmobiling during the winter months.
  • A couple trips to Punta Cana, Dominican Republic to help pass the winter months (including a surprise trip for my 40th birthday).
  • Yes…I turned 40. And 41…
  • Tess, my beloved duck toller, died. Check out here tribute video.
  • Hubby launched his Bat Hubby persona (you are gonna get to see lots of Bat Hubby around here).
  • We welcomed a new duck toller puppy into our life, Arizona. Six month later, we adopted her three-year-old sire (father) so our home is now a two duck toller home. I am not-so-secretly hinting away for a third puppy but still working on Hubby.
  • We started feeding our dogs a raw diet (yes, raw…like chicken thighs, ground beef etc). I love it.
  • Put Arizona into agility. Finishing up her training this year and Buddy’s next in 2017.
  • If you hadn’t already noticed, became super obsessed dog person (follow me on Instagram, I post a ton of dog pics).
  • We bought and sold the camp, two tent trailers, two travel trailers and now own a fifth wheel camper. Love glamping.
  • Hubby bought a motorcycle – uber sexy!
  • I lost my job (well I didn’t lose it, I know exactly where it is…four hours away in another city and I didn’t go with it). I found a new job (woot woot) that I have fallen in love with it. Especially the peeps! Best work peeps evah!!
  • Spent a lot of time at beaches, camping, traveling, sight seeing, hiking etc.
  • Put on 30 pounds. Put another 20 this summer. More on that later…
  • Lost loved ones (death, divorce, choice) and found new loved ones (birth, marriage, choice).

Check out the slide show below from the past few years. You may notice a theme.

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So now that we got that out of the way and are all up to date, what’s next?

Lipgloss Redneck
I retitled the blog as part of my re-entry into the world of blogging. A Lipgloss Redneck really sums me up. Deep down a country girl with a dash of city mixed in for good measure. Hope y’all like it. For more deets, check out my updated About Me.

What am I going to write about?
Let’s see…..SHOCKER….my dogs, since I am insanely obsessed with them. I’ll be sharing a mix of personal stories and hilarious lipgloss redneck fun! I am going to embark on a major lifestyle change (and it’s gonna get ugly and ya know I am going to share those deets!!). Urban Word Insanity will definitely be back! And yes….Hubby will be around with hilarity and insanity with Hubby’s Corner and Bat Hubby videos. He’s going to keep you in stitches!

When am I going to post?
I can’t say I am going to stick to a rigid blogging schedule. Part of what has stopped me from getting back into blogging is feeling overwhelmed by the idea of a heavy posting schedule with everything else going on in my life. As Hubby likes to point out, I am slightly OCD about things. I am usually ALL in or ALL out. He reminded me that blogging doesn’t have to be that way. For me, now, it’s about having a creative outlet to have fun with. So that’s how I am going to approach it. I hope to write fairly regularly but we’ll see how it goes.

For more deets, visit my updated About This Blog.

Also wanted to say that if I don’t reply to every comment, rest assured I read every single one and love and appreciate that you swing by on occasion and put your two cents in…If I don’t visit your blog every day or comment on every post, rest assured I do visit regularly and love your work!

This should be fun….

What have y’all been up to the last few years? How’s life? Any specific kind of post you’d love to see?

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Today marks the FIRST International Day of the Girl; a day to make a different in the lives of girls and young women as citizens and as powerful voices of change in their families, communities, and their nations. International Day of the Girl is about highlighting, celebrating, discussing, and advancing girls lives and opportunities across the globe. Patricia Sands did a wonderful blog post about the day with links to resources and ways you can show your support.

Patricia Sands' Blog

Last December, the United Nations’ General Assembly officially designated October 11 as the International Day of The Girl. This Thursday, Canada and nations around the world will focus on raising awareness of the particular challenges that girls face and implement plans to take action.

Girls will be recognized as powerful agents of change and as leaders of today and tomorrow, and girl-specific issues will be highlighted.

The Canadian government led the resolution at the UN and over 100 member nations have already pledged their support. Individually we can all show our support in many ways and most easily by spreading the word and getting involved. Let’s face it, we women know how to communicate!

Every girl is someone’s daughter. Let’s make all daughters proud by honouring them and working toward gender equality and girls’ rights everywhere on this planet.

Here are some excellent links for more details on the subject…

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https://nataliehartford.com/2012/10/11/5277/

Nicole Basaraba is a wonderful writing and the founder of the Amazing Writers’ Uni-Verse-City (WUVC for short). Her travel blogs and photography is outstanding and I think she’d do a BANG up job at the London Olympics!! She’s got my vote for Samsung Global Blogger…how about yours?

Nicole Basaraba's Uni-Verse-City

Since its Wednesday, this would usually be my Writers’ Uni-Verse-City segement day, but I have been up to something special I want to share with you.

Since I finished the first draft of my novel for the Round of Words in 80 Days writing challenge, I’ve been working on some diverse projects such as competing to be a Samsung Global Blogger for the 2012 Olympics in London!

Representing Belgium (and Canada too of course), I would be tweeting, blogging and vlogging. That’s right, vlogging during the Olympics this summer to bring you the latest scoop and the most entertaining and funny stories I can dig up in London, which is also celebrating the Queen’s Diamond Jubilee!

So if you’d like to show your support for me as a Samsung Global Blogger to read/see some amazing stories this summer, please feel free to:

  • click the “thumbs up” support button on my video 
  • re-blog…

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https://nataliehartford.com/2012/06/07/4333/

A very important message to spread around the world. The Bully Project is out in select theatres and is a “must see” for all of us. Spread the word. As Patricia so eloquently said “Lets support this important global message. Every person deserves to feel safe!”

Patricia Sands' Blog

WHICH MOVIE WOULD YOU SAY IS MORE IMPORTANT FOR A TEENAGER TO SEE?

THE BULLY PROJECT

THE HUNGER GAMES

Why not make this deal with the moviegoers in your life?  If you go see The Hunger Games you will see The Bully Project too.  If you only choose one movie to see in the near future, make it The Bully Project.

Let’s support this important global message. Every person deserves to feel safe.

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https://nataliehartford.com/2012/04/03/4006/

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