PTSD 101

PTSD is most often associated with those who have seen battle and war. But it’s a very real condition that anyone can experience after a traumatic event.

My PTSD started almost immediately after Michael passed away. My mind was flooded with images of my father and Michael in their worst dying times. My heart was overflowing with what if’s and omg when I rolled him over did I kill him and wondering if I did a good enough job caring for them. My mind raced all over the place, searching for things I didn’t say or didn’t do. Wondering if our last goodbyes were what they should have been (yes). Wondering if I helped them leave this life peacefully (I hope so). Wondering where they are. And when I would close my eyes, the haunting images and memories of very painful and difficult times overtook me. Then, the panic attacks started (first time in my life I’ve had panic attacks or anxiety). The middle of the night wake-ups to Michael screaming, even though he wasn’t there. Jolting up in bed because I think I hear him calling me. Reliving the horrific hell that was the last few weeks of Michael’s life. Images of my dad thrown into the mental slide show just for fun.

This ticker-tape slideshow runs constantly in my brain. Every time I close my eyes, the movie is playing. Even if I blink too long. The horror movie is always playing if I just pay attention.

My crazy energy is back, for now. I’m painting in the middle of the night again. PTSD. I have a hard time falling asleep unless I’m pretty medicated. I wake to horrific sounds, and then can’t sleep. Get up. Make coffee because why not. Paint. My hands can’t hold the paint brush for more than a few minutes, so I’m switching hands a lot. This woodwork is going to take me forever!

Here’s the bitch. Studies have shown that therapy and medications are the best treatments for PTSD, but nothing cures it. PTSD CHANGES your brain. First, the area of your brain that helps you make decisions, the pre-frontal cortex, is altered in people with PTSD. It’s the part of your brain that calms you down when you realize you aren’t in danger.  Cognitive therapy can teach me how to put those memories away and find a mental place for them, but I personally believe I need to experience this in order to move past it. I know I’ll never forget, nor do I want to. But I DO want to get to the happy memories and move past the pain that we all endured.

Secondly, the part of your brain that alerts you to danger, the amygdala, triggers the “fight or flight” response and is there to ensure survival.  Those with PTSD tend to have an overactive response, making it hard to think rationally.

And finally, the part of your brain that regulates memories, the hippocampus, is working to remember the event accurately and make sense of it. People with PTSD often times find they cannot stop thinking about the traumatic event because they cannot make it make sense. It’s an involuntary obsession that you can’t stop.

I think it’s important to acknowledge this component during my journey. I think people use the term PTSD too lightly. It REALLY is a real condition. It’s MORE than having bad memories of an event or struggling with understanding something tragic. It’s more than “just” an emotional condition. It’s a mental AND physical manifestation of pain and trauma that’s so unbearable, that your brain changes to help you accommodate it all. And it’s lasting. It’s not the sadness that comes after any loss. It has very little to do with Michael being gone, and everything to do with watching him and caring for him while he died. It’s deeper than grief. It’s the real deal.

And along with everything else, I take this one moment at a time. I’m doing the best I can, and that’s all I can do. I tell myself this every single day. ❤

Peace,

~ Lisa

Thrown into the Ocean

Well, this week really feels like the week I’m back at work full force. I never really took complete time off; it was just time off of Facebook and the day-to-day operations. It doesn’t just feel like I was thrown into the pool. It feels like the ocean. 

wave

Board meeting, volunteer survey, lots of things that need to be addressed as a result of the aforementioned. 

It feels like everyone has forgotten. My entire life is different than it was just a few months ago. But for everyone else, life is normal. Everything is back to normal. People who are upset are not afraid to tell me so. One volunteer who quit this week told me I was an awful person, when I had been back at work for mere hours. Something that happened when I was away somehow became my fault. But I digress. 

It’s as if I’m expected to be the person I always was; I’m expected to say and do the exact right things. I am expected to have everyone’s answers and solve their problems. I’m expected to jump back into the rescue and make up for months of decline, and recruit new volunteers. People have needs that they are expressing to me. My sister sold her home and is asking for a lot of my suggestions and help in planning her move. My daughter is trying to sort things out in her life. And I don’t have the answers everyone seems to need from me. 

My health is very much up in the air. Nobody asks about it. Nobody talks about Michael. Nobody asks how I’m doing without him.  I can tell they’re tired of my story, tired of my situation, tired of feeling awkward about it, and no more “special” treatment is due me.

While everyone else is ready for Lisa to be back and everyone else expects complete normalcy, logic, and unwavering leadership from me, I’m nowhere near that place. I may never be. But regardless, we keep fighting.  All I can do is what I can do. I will do my best, but it requires more than that. Time will tell. I can’t speak for “them”, but MY vibe is that “they” all think I’ve had enough time. I need to get over it and move on. Life keeps moving and I better keep up. Or something like that. 

Here’s a newsflash. I don’t want to keep up. I want my husband back. I want the life we had. I want to eat dinner with him. I want to sit on the couch and do nothing with him. I don’t want this new reality without him, and I’m not the person I was before I lost him. I have no desire to be part of this post-Michael world. 

Nothing new with my health. I have a neurologist appointment next week and hopefully that will point me in the right direction. The neuro issues I’m having are tough and not improving.  Emotionally, I’m struggling. I saw Michael in Target the other day. He was across the store…I whipped my cart around to try and catch up to him, and ran smack-dab into my estranged son, his pregnant wife, and their children. I feel he was there to be my strength through that encounter. I’m feeling him around a lot lately. I can hear him warning me to keep an eye on myself and keep myself in check, and telling me not to take on more than I can deal with. 

I have to do better at saying no. Not “no”, as much as “I’m sorry, I can’t help you with this. You need to figure it out without me.” I guess I’m just bummed that I have to say it at all. 

Peace, 

~ Lisa 

 

Health and Home

Hi friends 🙂

There’s a lot going on right now. We’ll start with my health.

Rheumatologist appointment on Tuesday and that was kinda bad news. My RA is not improving (which I knew), so now it’s time to add “biologic” drugs to my treatment. There are two to choose from, and they are running things by my insurance company because they are very expensive (the nurse told me as much as $3000/month?!?). But, if the insurance company doesn’t cover it, they have copay cards to give out. Both of these drugs are pretty hardcore with a horrifying list of side effects per usual, so that sucks.

Rheumatologist increased my poison pills to 7 a week instead of 6. So I took those tonight. I’m tolerating them pretty well. Some nausea and sickness sometimes, but overall not too bad.

drugs
Which drug will it be? Both of them have several-page pamphlets filled with medical jargon and warnings… Hmmmm…..

I’m also still experiencing a wide range of neurological symptoms so I’m seeing a neurologist in a couple of weeks (first available appt).

And through it all, I’m reminded that all of this is grief. Losing Michael. Some people die of a broken heart when their mate passes away. I guess the powers that be don’t think I deserve to have that peace yet. So, instead of dying of a broken heart, I’ll live with a broken heart and broken body. The stress of losing him was just too much for my system to bear. It had been pushing back these diseases when I was a stronger person, but the overwhelming loss and stress that came with saying goodbye to the love of my life finally broke the dam. Happily or sadly, depending on how you look at it, none of my conditions are life-threatening. Just life-sucking and life-ruining.

In other news, my daughter is moved in and settled. I’m making friends with her kitties. I’ve introduced Baby Faye and Cass to them and both dogs did GREAT meeting them. The cats aren’t so sure yet. I’ll post pics of my pups in a new post soon so that those of you who don’t know my dogs can meet them.

kitties
Charlie (orange) and Lucy

My sister is officially putting her house on the market this weekend and will be moving out to MN soon. She’s going through so many life changes and it’s understandably overwhelming for her at times. She’s lived in the same state all her life and she’s 9 yrs older than I am, so this is a big deal. It’s a big deal for her and for me.

Things are so, so different now. I think back and realize that in the span of a few months, my entire world has changed. Our home no longer feels like “our” home. In a FEW MONTHS, I’ve gone from a secure, very happily married woman with a partner and a plan and a home and life I loved and a successful rescue – to an overwhelmed widow with soon-to-be two new roommates, two cats, a house that’s completely changed, new health issues that are affecting me greatly, a rescue that is struggling to stay alive, a body that doesn’t work sometimes…just an entirely different life and big picture than it was a couple of seasons ago. How in the hell could ANYONE wrap their head around all this? My mental state is so out of whack.

Work in the house continues, depending on my motivation and ability to hold a paintbrush. Here’s a sneak peek! Our house has a TON of wood. Solid doors, window frames, door frames, banisters, ALL in that lovely 80’s Golden Oak I believe it’s called? Well, I’m taking it white and bright. I tried it with the matching stain, but it’s so much work and I’m not able to do all the sanding and prep work required for SO much staining. I kinda reluctantly decided to go white and quickly realized I freaking LOVE it. Here’s a sneak peek! Old door in the background, new door in progress in the foreground 🙂

door preview

I have SO many doors to do, both sides. the hallway is full of doors. The white is dramatically changing the look of things. It’ll take a bit of time. I’ve been low on motivation and kinda bored with this project so it’s taking longer than it should. It’s just WHITE paint. Boring. And it’s on doors so it needs to be perfect. It’s super easy for paint to pool in the panel insets and then it drips, no matter how careful you are. You have to catch drips and if you don’t, you have to sand them and paint over them again. You have to remove hardware or paint around it. I’ve been using a kids’ watercolor paint brush set for the details and edges. I tried a roller but it left roller marks; almost a “texture” to the door that I didn’t like, so brush it is. It’s a little labor intensive but man…it’s gorgeous when you see the whole picture with the paint and the floors.  Oh and for what it’s worth, for any DIY’er: SPEND THE MONEY for GOOD paint. I’ve been using Sherwin Williams which is super pricey, but it DOES make a difference. This particular paint is zero VOC so there’s NO paint smell, and it’s super thick for doors and cabinets. I also like Dutch Boy low VOC paint. But for projects where you need lasting results like doors, windows, baseboards, etc., Sherwin Williams. Spend the money. You’ll be glad you did, trust me on that.

Here’s another before and after. Golden Oak to White. Also, fresh (darker) grey paint on the walls.

blinds before

Another cool project I did was the banister and the handrail! I LOVE how it came out; do you? Buh-Bye, Golden Oak.

banister before

Other projects include my daughter’s apartment downstairs. I can’t show you the inside yet because she’s still unpacking, but I converted a mess of a basement into a really cute apartment for one. The front door was a fun project. Purple front doors rock. Note the doorbell and the “porch” light? I made the sign myself with separate components.

alyssa front door

So, this is how I spend my time when I need an outlet and when my hands and body allow. I get very cabin fever-y in the winters because I can’t get outside and spend time in the dirt, so I need some sort of creative outlet.

And yet at the end of the day, I sit and I see all the changes…and none of it matters, does it. All the work, all the colors, details, fine lines, accessories, special touches…in the end, it doesn’t matter. It’s just a way to pass time, really. A distraction. And I guess that’s okay too. Anything to get through each day. It’s truly, indescribably, unbelievably, seemingly insurmountable, ongoing horror. Each moment of each day. It’s a bad movie I can’t walk out of. A nightmare I can’t wake from. A reality I don’t think I’ve truly processed or accepted yet.

Lastly, a friend sent me this today. Please take 4 minutes and watch it. It’s so perfectly true. I remember when I first lost Michael. Everyone was saying all the things we say when someone passes away. Everyone was saying what we were all TAUGHT to say. And then, there was my girlfriend Lynn. And she was the true embodiment of this video. She literally just said “OMG Lisa your life fucking sucks”. And at that moment, I fell in love with her all over again. Acknowledgment.

And that’s all my news for today. I will post pics of my dogs soon. Thanks for tuning in.

Peace,

~ Lisa

“Get Over It”

I had a talk tonight with a good friend. She said something to me that was interesting.

I can’t remember the exact words, but she said something to the effect of, there are a lot of people who don’t know I’m sick with an auto-immune disease, and she wonders if they should follow my blog (since I’m not on FB right now) because otherwise they’re just thinking I should “get over it” and move on after Michael’s death.  We also talked about how people hear Rheumatoid Arthritis and they think I have sore joints, oh they have arthritis so they get it, etc. This is SUCH a mis-named disease. This is a disease. An auto-immune condition. My body is attacking itself. It happens to be attacking my joints, so it presents like arthritis. But this isn’t granny’s arthritis. This is serious shit. In fact, since I’m so very helpful 😉 I’ll put a link to information about RA right here! From a reliable source, an easy quick read. Say, Mayo Clinic – what is RA? 

My reaction to this was that it was so interesting, because I had planned to take this leave from social media and my overall job far before I became sick, so that I could allow myself to grieve, mourn, and put my life in some sort of order. This sickness is actually robbing me of that leave/grieve time. I also needed the break from social media over the holidays, BEFORE I knew I was sick. But I found it interesting that she said what I know to be true. People are sick of my grief. They don’t understand my mourning. They’ve never experienced loss like this, or maybe they have but they handled it differently.

I had another talk with a friend of mine last week along the same lines. “People are going to get sick of your shit. You’re going to lose them. They can’t handle your life.”

Both of these conversations were loving conversations with trusted friends. Honest conversations that I truly appreciated. THEY weren’t in this place of ditching me. They just honestly told me their perception of others’ perceptions. And they are both right. I was wondering when the time would come that people thought, “Okay Lisa, get up and get going. Enough is enough.” Maybe the time is now or maybe it’s my friends’ perceptions, but I’ve been feeling it too. The overall vibe that people are just kinda done with me and my situation. This statement doesn’t come with any bitterness or negative feelings attached at all. I don’t blame them.

Now, I’ve been an insanely busy reader lately, absorbing as much as I can about my new life ahead. I take so much comfort in the words of others who are ahead of me in this journey. And one thing I’ve seen consistently in almost every writer I follow, is a version of this story. The Get Over It story. Usually nobody has the nerve to say that to our faces, but they get really sick of us. They don’t want to hang out with us because we’re a reminder of their good fortune- they’re not in our shoes and maybe they actually feel weird because of that. They get fed up with our solitude or our lack of accepting their offers. They get tired of chasing us because we don’t want to chit-chat or meet for coffee. They get indignant when their texts aren’t returned. They get chased away by our rejection. I don’t blame them. It doesn’t make them bad people. They just don’t understand. And it doesn’t make me a bad person. I am just doing the best I can.

It’s really sad that widows oftentimes lose so much more than their husbands. It’s quite common that they lose friends in large numbers, finding themselves with a couple of die-hards that hung on if they are lucky. I really feel that so much needs to be talked about when it comes to grief. It’s such a taboo subject. Nobody likes to talk about it. It’s too sad. But it’s real. It happens and sadly in every marriage one partner is going to lose the other. People die and leave people behind. I don’t know why the whole thing is so uncomfortable and why relationships among the living have to be lost. He died. It sucks. Why can’t we be friends anymore?

The other common truth I see in other widow’s words, is that you never, ever, ever, ever get over it. Some widows are still exactly where I am, years and years in. Some women say it was 2-3 years of darkness, others remarry within months. But no matter how people choose to grieve, they never get over losing a life mate unexpectedly.  And the deeper the connection, the deeper the love, the greater the loss is felt.

It’s just interesting is all.

Lately, my grief hasn’t been so much over missing Michael himself although that’s constant. My pain has been more about me. My life. My future. My outlook. My state of being. My serious PTSD at watching my dad and my husband die within months of one another. Hospicing Michael really, really affected me in ways I’m still dealing with. The compound grief and loss and those affects on my body and my spirit. Of course it all goes back to being alone and how this wasn’t the plan, but it manifests itself in other ways. I don’t cry as often as I used to. It hits me more unexpectedly than it used to, though, and when the bouts of crying come, they come full force.

I worry a lot. Mostly about money but other things too. I’m not a fan of having no plan. And right now, I’m in limbo. I won’t let myself make any major life decisions for one year, thank goodness. My “life plan” has changed a hundred times since Michael died. I don’t know what my finances even look like, and I’m trying to find my groove and see if I can sustain the house with just my income. It’s not looking promising but I really need more time to see how things shake out. If not, I’ll look at selling. And that opens a whole new overwhelming set of decisions…where will I move? And HOW will I move? I love love love love this home. WE loved this home. It’s a deep connection. I have dog’s ashes planted with trees that Michael and I planted with our own hands. This is our home. I’m not ready to leave it and my connection to Michael through it. And that’s significant. I have moved every three years throughout my entire adult life until we bought this home. It’s finally where I planted roots. I thought we’d grow old in this house together.

I’ve never, ever been alone. And now I’m painfully alone. It’s a stark contrast to the past 50 years of being the youngest of 5 kids, then a young mother so I always had my children with me, a wife, a nana, and now this. Alone.

So to those who think it’s “time” I get past it and “move on”, I’m not angry at all that you think that. You’re ignorant and that’s not your fault. I want you to understand it isn’t so simple. It’s not only about missing him (although yes I miss him terribly). It’s about grieving the part of me that died with him, grieving the entire rest of my life that I thought was pretty set, it’s about the fear of the unknown that lies ahead, it’s about being faced with horrible decisions and horrible realities unexpectedly when you weren’t prepared in the slightest way, it’s about having nobody to bounce the day-to-day things off of, to help counter-balance my stuff.  It’s about having WAY too big of a life for one, and trying to acclimate to/ simplify that life while battling lots of physical pain. It’s about missing him, yeah. Big time. But it’s about so, so, so much more. And this shit takes time. I loved him deeply and wholly with every fiber of my being. It’s going to take me some time to unwind those fibers and find my life. I’m moving ahead and choosing to wake up each day. That’s a hell of an accomplishment. I’m staying fully engaged with and contributing to the rescue even though I’m not on social media. I’m trying my best to take care of myself. I’m trying my best to stay connected to someone. That someone varies but I’m staying connected to human beings.

I didn’t realize until late this evening that it’s been 4 months today. So much has happened in that 4 months. It feels like forever but at the same time, it feels like yesterday. I don’t want to make a habit of marking these anniversaries because that’s not who I am – but I noticed it so I needed to mention it.

Thanks for listening.

Peace,

~ Lisa

Making Lemonade

Hi everyone ❤

Well, Thursday was bad. REAAAALLLLLLLLY bad. Just as I expected. I was fine until I got hungry. And then the dams broke and it was BAD.

I had offers and invites. It wasn’t that. It’s just that I KNEW it would hit. I didn’t know when. But I knew. I didn’t stress about it. I just went about my Thursday. I put on movie channels on purpose so I wouldn’t see anything unusual on TV. Politely declined the invitations and was really comfy in my house in my skin in my day. It was just Thursday. Nothing more. And that went really well for me until about 5pm. As I heated the oven to make an embarrassing dinner I won’t tell you about, it hit me. So many things that I still can’t even talk (or write) about them. So many things. So much pain washing over me. So much pain. I can’t even go there myself, much less explain it here. It is so much deeper than a holiday. That’s all I can say.

Today was alright. I felt a little hungover from the emotion of it all. My day started bright with a new bed delivery this morning. I decided last week to get a new bed. The ONLY reason I decided this, was that we had a king. And it is huge. We were both bed-hogs, and so are the three dogs who sleep in the bed (their choice where they sleep – one, Bella, chooses the floor). So, we always needed a king. But sometime last week, I climbed into bed and was really, really aware of how big it was. How empty. And I realized that I had this sad feeling every night as I go to bed. I had begun getting into bed on “his side” right away because I couldn’t stand getting in on mine, and looking over to see his empty side of the bed.

Do you see how every damn decision has so much emotion behind it? It’s exhausting.

Anyway, I decided to get a queen. That’s it. No deep meaning. But as long as I was getting a new bed, I was going to get the nicest bed I could afford. I decided that I was going to get the one that was my softness level that I wanted. I wanted cooling gel. I didn’t know I wanted to be able to push a button and sit up to watch tv or read, but when I saw that I wanted it too! And I decided to get exactly what I wanted.  So, I picked it out on Wednesday and it arrived first thing this morning! Tonight, I will be sleeping on MY brand new bed for the first time.  The new bed is dramatically smaller and our (my) bedroom feels dramatically bigger. I think once I rearrange things, I may even have room for a reading nook in the corner. Not sure, but I think so…

I didn’t choose to need a new bed. But as long as the universe chose it for me, I decided I deserved the bed I really wanted. I had lemons. I made lemonade.

But here’s the thing. I hate lemonade. It’s acidic, it’s sour. As an ulcer suffer, I know drinking it will cause me to suffer and screw up my insides. So I stay away from it. I trained myself to hate it.

So that’s my analogy of the day. Losing the love of my life is the lemons. This whole thing, every thing I’m doing – it’s all lemonade. I’m trying to add sweetener to it but blah. I’m trying to add things so it doesn’t hurt so much but meh. it still burns. It still isn’t what I want. What I want is my pre-lemon life. I want to take all these damn lemons and destroy them or tell whoever dumped them in my life to take them back, but they keep coming. And I don’t know what to do with them.

citrus citrus fruits close up delicious
Photo by Pixabay on Pexels.com

Oh, and if you’re in the Twin Cities area and you’re interested in a king bed (mattress, box springs, frame), let me know. I need to sell this one. It’s in amazing shape, it’s almost new. Let me know. I’ll make you a good deal.

I also have an announcement to make: After SIX torturous months, I can finally say the FLOORS are DONE. No, you aren’t imagining things. They’re DONE and they’re gorgeous. I’m ONLY showing you a small reveal, because there are LOTS of other neat things I’m doing this weekend and I’ll be posting a separate post about the latest colors of my insanity. So for now, Rosie is modeling a tiny square for you.

Rosie floors
Peek a boo! Floors!!!

The new flooring is so much thicker and quieter and it looks really rich (lemonade – see what I did there?). I’m in love with it. So, now that this is mostly behind me, I need an attorney. If you know an attorney (Twin Cities area) that can help me take some legal action against a contractor, please email me at lisabooth826@gmail.com.

Health: Ya know, it’s just meh. Today was a high pain day. I also have a lovely thing going on: burst blood vessels in my eye. Several of them. Same eye, multiple huge red explosions. So much fun. Not much has changed otherwise. Steroids and Lyrica are keeping the pain and inflammation manageable. I’d say at least a 50% reduction in those symptoms. I know they’re just covering it up and not treating anything, but I welcome the relief no matter how it comes.

Life: Trying very hard not to make any decisions. But finances and insurance demand some decisions. Scary stuff.

Emotional Health: It’s been determined by many non-experts 😉 and a couple of kinda experts that I am indeed having a nervous breakdown. It’s okay. I’m safe. I’m functioning. I’m loco but I’m here. I’m working really hard on paying attention to myself and my world. I’m giving myself, my heart, my head, and my soul time. I’m always working on finding that nice balance of letting myself just be, but making sure I stay responsible and keep the lights on. I think I achieve it for the most part. I can tell you, in spite of my circumstances my soul is at rest if that makes sense. It’s damaged beyond repair in my opinion, but my soul knows he is gone. My spirit, my senses, my brain, my heart, all aligned…all systems know he’s gone. The more I accept Michael’s death, the deeper the pain cuts. Everything about me is deeply wounded, and my physical shit on top of all that makes it really hard to be me right now. But I’m making sure I’m seeking medical help from the best doctors and specialists, and I’m treating my mental condition just like any other symptom or issue – and I’m giving it the attention it needs and also the space it needs. As confusing a time as this is, I know exactly where I’m at on the sanity scale. I’m a little off the scale altogether right now, but I’m being watched over by some very special people. Which leads me to…

My next post promises to be happy things. There ARE some nice stories in my life, and the next time I write, I’ll be sharing those with you.

Lemonade. ❤

Peace,

~Lisa

Michael’s Ring

Something really hard happened today. I stopped wearing Michael’s ring.

Rings zoom

I didn’t choose it. And I’m sick about it.

I have worn Michael’s ring, literally, since the day he died. I put it on my ring finger, topped it with a black band he bought for me last year on my birthday, and wore it like that for a little over 3 months now.

The ring was just about the closest thing to him I can think of. When he was in and out of hospitals and procedures, he wouldn’t let them take off his ring. He was adamant about it. One of the few times he was obstinate or uncooperative, it was over that ring. Sometimes, the surgical staff (who were wonderful people) would take it off after he was asleep and put it back on him before he woke up. Sometimes, they covered the whole thing with surgical tape and let him wear it even though he wasn’t supposed to. Shhhhh. That ring was everything to him. And when he died, I couldn’t bear to take it off of him. I was devastated. My lovely friend Cindi asked the mortuary guy if he could please get Michael’s ring. And when that man presented me with that ring, I broke down. I put it on my finger, and there it stayed. I have always felt him in that ring.

Lately, I’ve had some health concerns. I haven’t posted about them because I thought people might over-react, but then I wondered why the hell I’m censoring myself on my own blog.

I’m dealing with terrible back issues that are getting addressed this week (this is a progressive degenerative condition so I know what’s happening here), but two more recent developments have come in to add to things, and I’m basically in horrific pain 24/7. Not exaggerating. My feet, my knees, my hips, my entire left leg and foot, my lower back, my upper back, my upper right chest, my neck, my shoulders, my hands, and my wrists ALL hurt like a mother. I’m not kidding. I have a high pain tolerance. I don’t whine. This is BAD. All over.

It started with a bump on my finger. I thought maybe it was a callus. But it was getting bigger, and painful. Then, it got so big in just a matter of a few days, that my finger is starting to change direction. Then, my thumbs started hurting. My knees. My hips. then, I didn’t recognize my own hands. HUGE swollen knuckles. And then, I couldn’t tie a shoe because my fingers and thumbs won’t bend. I can’t grasp a doorknob. Or bend enough to shave my legs in the shower. In a matter of days, the pain has become unbearable and the lack of mobility is increasing fast. It’s coming on hard and aggressive. And it scared me a little. So, I went to the doctor today.

For starters, I have pleurisy. I’m taking anti-biotics and steroids. Hoping that resolves soon. It’s really painful. Second, we’re almost positive I have an autoimmune disease. That’s basically a condition where your body is attacking itself. I think it’s rheumatoid arthritis, (which is QUITE deceiving because it’s an autoimmune disease where your body is attacking the joint and bone tissue and not your typical arthritis although it presents like arthritis), and my doctor put his money on Psoriatic Arthritis, which is another auto-immune condition but I don’t think it’s mine. They drew a lot of blood today and will have results in about a week.

My doctor kept telling me not to worry. I kept telling him I’m not worried. Because, I’m not. This newfound perspective of mine doesn’t fear death at all. In fact, if I do get bad news I don’t know how I’ll feel about it. I’m just not digging being in this kind of pain around the clock.

Regarding my spine and leg issues, I have an MRI tomorrow and an appt with my neuro-surgeon next week. I know what to expect, I’ve been down this road before. It’ll be time for surgery, I can’t have that done right now for painfully obvious reasons, and then we talk about a bunch of bullshit therapies that basically buy me time until I land right back there again. It’s like a big circle. Round and round. It’s madness.

And through it all, until today, I wore his ring. I took it off to put on lotion earlier, and my knuckles and hands are so swollen right now, I can’t get it back on.

Now, it lives on top of my ring. My ring has been in our hands for several weeks. And now his ring covers mine, in our hands. I’m worried that I may never put it on again. Maybe I’ll get used to it. Maybe I’ll stop living a lie by wearing it on my ring finger. Maybe this is the universe’s way of telling me it was time to take it off. Or maybe it’s just shitty luck and none of this means anything. I just know that my heart is breaking and my hand feels so exposed and vulnerable. It’s amazing what a piece of metal can become when it’s one of the only things you have that meant something to the man you loved.

Rings display

Peace,

~ Lisa

What will they think?

What other people think

I’ve always struggled with this. What people think of me. Sadly, I’ve made more than my share of “enemies” (by enemies, I mean people who hate my guts!). I suppose Winston Churchill was right when he said, “You have enemies? Good. That means you’ve stood up for something, sometime in your life.”  Most of the “enemies” I’ve made have been from rescue. Volunteers or employees who decided they didn’t like working for me or didn’t like a decision I made, so it became personal. I’ve joked many times about the “I hate Lisa” club that seems to grow in front of my eyes. I see the passive-aggressive Facebook posts and memes (well, I did before I left FB, no more!). Almost every “enemy” I’ve made has been about the dogs. Me being about the dogs, them wanting it to be about them, and then a nasty parting of ways. Them telling others their side, others joining the IHL club, and so it goes. It’s the cost of doing business when your business is based on so much emotion. It’s unfortunate that grown people behave that way, and it’s even more unfortunate when it’s blatant and public.

I’ve learned to accept that.

But now, it’s a whole new “what will they think?”. I’ve been doing lots around the house. I’ve been throwing away lots of things that we had planned to get rid of for a long time (damn the procrastination – all of the “we have to” projects are now “I have to” projects. And hey, I have nothing else to do, so I’m doing them). From the outside, it may appear that I’m gutting the house and moving on and just cruising right through this, but really what I’m doing is tending to the things WE always needed to do. But, what do they think?  What do they think of the recliner in my driveway that says “Free” on it? Do they think I’m getting rid of “his” chair? I’m not. He didn’t have a chair. He wasn’t Archie Bunker. It’s an old recliner that’s been in our basement for the entire 6 years that we have lived in this house, and we don’t have a finished nice basement (I don’t have a finished basement- the “we” just won’t leave my vocabulary yet). It’s just a basement. And the recliner just needs to go. Nothing more.

What will they think when I go out and maybe have some fun? What will they think if I decide to trade in Michael’s car (that neither of us loved anyway)? What will they think if I take a vacation? Will it look like I didn’t love Michael? Or maybe will it look like I sure got over this fast?

Who are “they”? And why do I care?

Let’s circle back. Vacation. I’m really thinking of taking myself on a trip someplace. I want it to be someplace warm, and not overly family-friendly. I’d like to not be vacationing with a lot of kids, and I’d like it to be a cool place for me to travel to solo – AND has to be domestic. Ideas? Let me hear them.

And, what others think…why am I worried about this? Why am I afraid to do something kind for myself, for fear that others will judge me? Nobody has said or implied anything like this. My mind is running away with it and I’m not sure why…

In other news, I’m still doing crazy things around the house. The latest undertaking is staining the wood in the house. ALL the wood. Window frames, door frames, banisters, doors. My house is FULL of wood and it’s ALL that 1980’s golden oak. So, why not take on a huge project that has lots of potential to be an epic fail? I’m staining it all Mission Oak which is dramatically darker. I think my mood medication needs to be adjusted. I don’t want to be sanding and staining in the middle of the night. My energy levels continue to be almost unmanageable.

I talk to Michael all day long. I miss him so much. I don’t know when the complete emptiness will become more bearable. I know that’s a big part of why I’m taking on so much at home. When I’m sanding, I’m not thinking of him. It’s not a conscious effort; I think it’s just where my instincts are taking me. I made a deal with myself that I was just going to be a passenger to my instincts unless I feel like I’m making unsafe decisions. I don’t want to change what I feel like I need to do to cope; I’d just like to not NEED to do all of this to cope. I know, I know…time and patience blah blah blah. And none of that helps when I’m climbing into an empty bed every night, or have something fun to share or need advice or need a hug from someone who loves me unconditionally. Someone who really made the “what will they think?” question not matter so much. Because he loved me and that’s all that mattered.

That’s all for today.

Peace,

~ Lisa