Five days ago, my youngest started to not feel well. She, like my oldest and myself has an autoimmune disorder. Hers is newly diagnosed and while she hasn’t had too many symptoms from it [lupus] she also has fibromyalgia and scoliosis, which can leave her feeling kind of crummy and achy. Her symptoms were vague and we chalked them up to chronic illness and being run down. However, on the third day when she came home from work and told me that the previous night, she’d been running a temperature, my heart seized with fear and I knew it was more than just a chronic illness flare up in combination with her symptoms. She went to the clinic and tested positive for COVID-19.
She has been quarantined to her room. Her sister, whom she shares tht room with, has been moved to my bedroom during the day and on the couch at night when I try to sleep in my bedroom at night. It’s been complicated because during all this we’ve had other issues going on.
We have an older dog who just recently tore his ACL on his back, rear hind leg and then a few days later partially tore the right leg. We’ve been acting as a trauma unit and a day care center for our dog and trying to manage keeping him and our puppy separated, which has not been an easy task. By the way, if any of my lovely readers know of any ingenious ways to keep an 8-month-old puppy busy while in quarantine, while having to be separated from an injured dog, and keeping said injured dog busy and entertained while he can’t move around, I’m all ears! This has been brutal.
I feel like when my husband goes on deployment that everything that can go wrong does go wrong and that this particular deployment has been the king of all deployments when it comes to things breaking, falling apart, people getting sick and things going wrong. I knew in my head with 3 working children that if someone were to be exposed to COVID at work, it was only a matter of time before one of my kids got sick. And should they get sick, then my chances of getting sick is exponentially higher. I don’t have a lot of places to hide in my house.
It’s been a day since I started writing this and I’ve tested positive. No surprise. My head hurts, my body hurts, and I’m exhausted on top of the normal exhaustion I feel as a chronic illness patient. I can’t even describe it. And the head pain. Like the worst migraine ever that just won’t go away and only sleep relieves it. My asthma has been wonky and I’ve been coughing but so far, aside from a little wheezing, lungs are clear on x-ray. Now, it’s just a matter of time and patience in the healing department and worry that I’m going to have some long-term effects because of my chronic illness. You keeping hearing about these “long-haulers” and I worry that this illness will leave an impression on me. I worry because of my vulnerability. Chronic illness has already scarred my body in so many ways; gouged out deep marks leaving me to never be the same again. It’s a heavy burden and because there’s so little that we know about COVID, I can’t help but worry about my future. What I do know, is when that vaccine comes out, I’m going to be first in line so there’s no chance of getting this again.
To those of you out there still fighting the fight, be vigilant! Wear your mask, wash your hands, protect your love ones. But if you do get sick don’t despair. My daughter felt very guilty when I got sick, as though it was her fault. Once this virus infiltrates your household it’s game-over. Everyone is exposed. Not everyone may succumb to getting sick, but everyone is exposed. This virus is everywhere and you can’t predict who you might come into contact with, where. It’s no one’s fault. It’s just the virus’ fault. Be safe.
Breaking away from the usual posts to share with you some Winter Solstice Rituals I want to try out this year. I used to be more a more avid practitioner of my until I lost my focus and chronic illness and pain set in and made things doubly worse. Then, I began noticing things in my life. I am a huge believer in synchronicity and I saw enough things that I realised that not only did I need to bring Wicca back into my life, but that the calling had been from a Dark Goddess herself- Hekate.
The Dark Goddess is present in the darkest times of our lives and moments in our lives that come to an end. These times are often known as the “dark moon,” phases of our lives; a time when something comes to an end, yet there’s a traditional period before renewal, revival or new beginning taking place. All of which I am very much in the midst of in many places of my life at the moment. During these times is when Hekate encourages me to see things as they really are despite the severity and rawness of it all or even how painful it may be so that I can move past it with peace in my heart. Which brings me to the heart of this post, sharing these Six Rituals I plan to practice over the last few weeks until the Solstice.
1.) To Burn is to Cleanse
Burn a list of things to release. Release to rise- like rising out of the ashes. What is it that you need to let go of to expand to your truest self? Is it fear, stress, worry, regret? An old grudge you’ve been harbouring that you need to let go of so that relationship can grow and evolve? It really can be anything that is preventing you from moving forward, letting go, or just growing as a person. The solstice, among other things, is about renewal. Once you have the list, read it aloud. Take a moment to genuinely say goodbye to each item, and toss it in the bale-fire of your choice.
2.) OooOoo Let the Light Shine In
What does the light mean to you? Think about all the ways the light makes you feel and how you feel when you are illuminated. How does it feel when you are outside on a gorgeous day, your face tipped skyward, bathed in the warm glow of the sun? How does the radiance of the people in your life affect you? Do you tell them and does anyone remind you of your radiance?
3.) That old adage, ‘We are what we eat.’
Our bodies need to be grounded and our bodies need to eat. So it only makes sense to sustain our bodies with food that is nourishing and that will ground us. Therefore, it is the perfect time to binge on a platter of seasonal winter foods that our bodies will thank us for. Some favourites would be Belgian endive, broccoli rapini, carrots, fennel, kumquat, persimmon, radicchio, winter squash, cranberries, raspberries, pomegranates, potatoes, onions, leeks and parsnips. Winter calls for root veggies, perfect for thick stews and soup! Add some cinnamon to your dessert for its anti-inflammatory properties and anti-oxidants, add ginger or Tumeric to boost immunity.
4.) Bonfires and Yule Logs!
Enjoy a bonfire with friends and add a Yule log to make it special. If you can’t have a bonfire, use your summer fire pit or even your fire -OR- if you can do it safely, use an abalone shell, offering bowl or just a plain bowl and use a cinnamon stick for your perfect “mini” log.
5.) Honouring your Tree
Give thanks to your Holiday tree. It’s a small gesture to extend another living thing if you do still purchase a live tree. This one of the rituals I won’t be doing because I haven’t purchased a living tree in many years because of my allergies. But if you do it is something you can do to honour the life that has been cut short so you can have a pretty tree to decorate for the holidays. And it’s not a judgment on you. It’s teaching you to be respectful to nature and to thank her for the bounty of what she has given every year. Just taking a moment to do this creates energy that is given back to the earth. It’s a beautiful ritual to honour its’ sacrifice and presence. Have some apple cider or spiced red wine- (the apple cider can be spiced too if you like and a glass reserved to drink for yourself.) Sprinkle the branches and the trunk with the cider or the wine while taking a moment to give thanks to nature for for filling your home with the soothing scent and festive vibes. Decorate your tree with ornaments from the heart that make you smile and sip your drink.
6.) Give Back
This is the most important of all. The holiday season bombards people with the commercialised nature of Christmas. For many people it reminds them of what they don’t have; the scarcity of everything. There are others that are reminded of loss and pain. If you are one of the lucky ones that find yourself with abundance, whether it be money, or loved ones, joy or food, and are blessed by your circumstance and want to share that good fortune with others, there are many ways to give back. Purchasing gift cards for food at the grocery store can be donated at local community shelters. They can also be donated to school where often times children are too ashamed to come forward and say that suffering and not getting enough to eat. You can share your time at local soup kitchens that will always accept your help if you have the time. Performing random acts of kindness for people you don’t know, if you can’t volunteer but want to help in some way is something you can do. Keeping in touch with your friends, or neighbours is another thing you can do. People get lonely this time of year during the course of a normal year and this is a very abnormal year. Check on people whom you wouldn’t normally check in on. Drop in on neighbours, practicing social distance and just say “Hello, you were thinking of them.” You’d be surprised what a wellness check like that can do for someone’s moral. Think about how you can use your radiance to illuminate someone else’s darkness and remind them that there is always light to be found.
Remember, be the light. These rituals are not meant to be a once-a-year thing. Light & Dark will ebb and flow during the cycle of each year like good times and bad. These can be drawn on to eradicate darkness and invite the light back into your life, through any transition.
Having chronic illness/chronic pain & mental illness is difficult on any normal given day. Add the stress of trying to hold the fort down while your spouse is thousands of miles away and everything is compounded. It’s never the big things that people think it might be, but the little things, the everyday things, that build up that end up tipping the scales. It’s frustrating that what can be normal stressors for most people can be overwhelming for me. Planning a certain thing for dinner that I couldn’t end up making because I used up all my spoons cleaning, that I really didn’t anticipate doing but my body just gave out and now my plans are wrecked and I’m irrationally angry and upset about it. My kids not doing their chores the way they are supposed to, like loading up the dishes in the dishwasher so my favourite coffee mug is not clean for breakfast and my OCD rears it’s ugly head so I have a meltdown crying because now I can’t have coffee. Then, the backyard fence is falling apart; the new stove I purchased couldn’t be installed because the gas line was prehistoric and needed to be updated, come to find out our furnace gas line had to be updated too, all of this costing money we didn’t anticipate. Renovations on the house I had planned took much longer than expected- almost two weeks longer and the cleanup afterwards left me recovering for another two weeks. I had excitedly plotted out a string of projects for the house to get done while the husband was deployed, but after that first renovation project left the house demolished, I couldn’t do anymore. The idea of it stressed me out so much I couldn’t even think about it. It wasn’t just the renovations; it was that I was very much at a disadvantage being someone who didn’t understand the trade or how it worked and not knowing if I was being taken advantage of. There is nothing more stressful, nothing that blows up my anxiety more, than situations like my stove where I have to have a serviceman come to investigate my gas line, having to rely on faith that he is telling me the truth and that I need to update the one behind the stove and the furnace or he cannot install my stove per Texas laws. Do I know Texas law regarding gas safety? Nope. It seems like the guy is trying to protect me. He even replaces the one behind my dryer for free because my husband is in the military and so is his older son and his younger son is about to go in too. But when I tell him that Home Depot forgot to order me a hood for my stove, he tells me that it’s no problem and he has plenty; he can install it no problem all he has to do is take measurements. That was almost 2 weeks ago and I’ve called and haven’t heard back from him. But it’s difficult because of my social anxiety that not even my husband understands the depths of- that even making call-backs for repairs and services can sometimes take hours or days of pre-work just so I don’t stumble over words. Then, after that, I’m drained. It becomes much more difficult as children grow older, and still live in the home, to force them to be a family unit and want to care for one another and understand one another. The twenty-something-year-old’s, while progressive and doing much to change the world at the moment are still caught between childhood and independence and rebellion. Sisters, especially, (though I only speak from observation) want to be treated independently after a certain age and not like the younger sister next-in-line, who can’t think for herself. We’re a close family, in a small house, with two pairs of siblings sharing a room each. It’s difficult for them to get privacy. We also all deal with a variety of mental health issues, which makes it uniquely difficult to see things clearly all the time and appear like people deliberately don’t care, when that isn’t it at all. We are all just people who have a unique way of approaching various situations that may clash with one another. But I think if we can focus on the love we have for one another, we can get through anything.
Though I want to keep my blog accessible to all, I am going to be posting about things that are extremely personal and difficult. Therefore, I have decided to make my blog private and so, If you would like access you will need to subscribe. Not really difficult in the grand scheme of things, it simply allows me to see who is viewing and make any adjustments if need be.
I am working on a few series of stories for you. In the Mental Health Series I want to share with you my experience with being in a relationship with someone with Narcissistic Personality Disorder & Borderline Personality Disorder. I want to share my experiences dealing with my Bipolar Disorder w/Mania, PTSD, Generalised Anxiety Disorder, ADHD, Social Anxiety Disorder, Obsessive Compulsive Disorder & Trichotillomania.
It’s continued to be a struggle with my chronic illness and chronic pain. I want to address that, and how I have managed day-to-day life with my husband being deployed while also managing larger projects like renovations of our house that turned out taking much longer than we initially planed.
I am planning on discussing disappointment and how it affects my life day-in and day-out as it relates to my chronic illness, chronic pain and mental health. There are so many days I can’t do what I want because of my chronic illnesses/mental health, and if I force myself to I pay for it in the worst ways imaginable. So, taking care of myself is imperative even if I don’t write that I day and spend the whole day binge watching Criminal Minds.
I’m hoping you heard that in the Great Arnold’s voice. It’s been just a bit as I’ve been dealing with a lot recently. Hubby being deployed, being home with the adult-ish children without him to help me keep my sanity, renovations on the house that took much longer than expected and weren’t completed and now the handy-man who was doing them seems to have ghosted me, my health challenges kicking it up a notch, a couple of those kids testing the limits of my sanity and good will and just the every day challenges of being a military wife trying to hold down the fort while her husband is half a world away. In a word, it’s been exhausting and has pushed the boundaries of my mental health in ways that hasn’t in many years.
I had to step away from writing because frankly, I wasn’t able to string to sentences together. Between my fatigue, pain and ADHD, I was amazed I could put together a grocery list successfully. I’ve been binge-watching Netflix like a whore. Helstrom is incredible. I hope Netflix and Marvel can find a way to bring it back for season 2 because just wow. I know there was a lot of mixed reviews about it but I’m a huge fan of the story and I think they did an amazing job bringing it to life. I really think it was crappy timing, I guess with COVID and the shut down of Marvel studios and everything but it shouldn’t stop them from letting the series continue. But I digress- just a huge fan. I also re-started You, in anticipation of the 3rd season and let me just say that show is awesome too. Yes, it’s a little far-fetched, but it’s very entertaining and I love the inner dialogue. It’s something I can definitely relate to. Last but not least, Peaky -fucking- Blinders! Damn it if I don’t love that show. Devoured it twice. I won’t lie, I’m a Cillian Murphy girl. I’ve loved him for many years. How can you not be hypnotised by those impossibly blue eyes? -mm..my heart. Bottom line, I’ve been existing in a fantasy land these last few weeks to escape my reality because reality sucks.
My anxiety has been at an all time high. I’m angry at my a few of my adult-ish kids for their inability to even try to get along with one another. They aren’t children any more. At 26, 24, 21 and soon to be 20, I expect somewhat of self-control and respect for one another that is sorely lacking in varying degrees depending on the child. I feel like I taught them better than that, always stressing how important it was to treat each one another with respect and know that in the end they are sisters and when me and their father were gone, they’d be all they had. Sometimes, the simplest questions bring out these defensive responses, accusations and hostilities that I don’t understand where they came from. I feel like I am watching their relationships disintegrate before my eyes and because I never had siblings and I want them to preserve their relationship so badly, my attempts to salvage theirs comes off to strongly and more like a demand rather than advice. I wish they realised how lucky they are to have what they have; these individuals who would have their back no matter what, who would stand up for them anywhere, who love them fiercely. Having a sibling, especially a sister is so damn special. It’s the kind of thing that gets you through the hardest things in your life because you have this built in best friend. Someone who has known you all your life who you can tell your secrets to; someone who knows your secrets and who loves you despite them; someone that wants the best for you when you are dating and so help the person that breaks your heart. I’m not so naïve as to think that sisters don’t fight. I also know that sisters sometimes say terrible things to hurt one another. But it’s how you get through those things, how you forge ahead like in any relationship and lately, all I’ve seen and heard from my girls is such fighting and negativity that I feel like I’m living with a bunch of freaking dementors.
Still, here I am. More or less sane depending on which day you catch me and fighting each day with my chronic pain and chronic illness- fighting to feel better, fighting not to disappear into the darkness of depression because I feel like I’m free-falling into madness. It’s a struggle. Sometimes life is a day at a time; other days it’s an hour at a time and sometimes I lose all sense of time, an entire day lost to meditating some kind of peace back into my bones. I achieve this by completing mundane tasks like organising my folders on my computer like pictures and documents. Or I do dishes by hand instead of the dishwasher, if my body can handle it. There’s something quiet, peaceful and beautiful about the hot water running through my fingers while scrubbing the dishes and inhaling the delicately, scented soap. I know a lot of people would think I just a grew a third head saying that, but damn, I just find it spiritual.
Slowly, I’m finding my way back into writing. Both my blogging and creative writing. I’m working on some poetry and researching for material on a horror story I want to write. Horror is my nemesis. It’s my favourite genre, but I feel woefully unworthy of being able to write it. I am a student of Stephen King, Shirley Jackson, Richard Matheson, Anne Rice, Edgar Allan Poe & Mark Z. Danielewski. I feel like I could never live up to their genius or simply craft a story in the same way they did because I just never have. I’m a blogger. I’ve never created a story from beginning to end in the way they have and it is terrifying to me. But what I do know? No one has become anything without being afraid. You have to have a certain amount of fear in order to light that creative fire. At least it’s what I’ve heard. Mostly, it just makes me nauseated and feel like I’m going to puke. But I’m not the kind of girl who gives up. Whether it’s a three- or five-page story or three-hundred-page story, I’m going to get this done. So, wish me luck.
If you’ve stayed with me through my hiatus, thank you. I appreciate it. Sometimes we just need to recharge for the sake of our mental health and our physical health when we are chronically ill and even if you aren’t. We have to take of ourselves. Neglecting ourselves is never good. Have a great Saturday!
I’ve been gone a long damn time, or at least it feels that way. I bet you thought I left for good? I hope you didn’t. I’d never do that. It’s difficult to tell talking into the void the way I do, but I hope there’s someone out there listening. I always try to answer when I get a comment or question. It’s inspiring and it helps motivate me knowing that I’m not alone, even when it feels that way. After all, that’s what I tell you. You aren’t alone.
There’s been a good reason for me being away. I’ve been extremely busy with life and life has been throwing some huge curveballs my way. My husband has been getting ready for a deployment that we’ve known about but has gotten delayed because of COVID. Now he’s gone and things are a little more settled, but only slightly. We got a new puppy just before he left. It’s something I’d been thinking about for a while, but finally just got the courage to do. After the death of out Pittie, Bowie, my heart was just broken. He was only 6 and he had gone from healthy to on death’s doorstep, literally in a few hours. It took 2yrs for me to be able to mourn him and be able to open our door again to another dog. This one is a Catahoula Leopard/Pittie mix and he stole my heart the moment I saw his little face in the rescue shelter website ad. I stalked it for 2 weeks before I had enough courage to go to my husband, knowing he was readying to deploy, unsure he would want to get a dog now. I’d also just undergone surgery for a spinal stimulator and the recovery was a bit brutal, and I was questioning whether I could handle training a puppy on my own while he away. By the time I decided I could, I thought for sure the puppy I’d seen would have been snatched up already, but there he was and even better, my husband thought it would be a great idea for me to have the puppy while he was away to take my mind off his absence. We adopted the little guy and I named him Nashoba, which supposedly means “wolf” in Choctaw. (Don’t quote me on this- it was something I found while looking for names for him, and because Catahoula’s are bred from the Molossus, Great Dane and dogs Native Americans used, I wanted to name him something that tied him to his roots. Yes, I am that person. LOL)
Nothing has changed with my health while having Nashoba, which has made having a puppy a little challenging. The one piece of advice I could offer any chronically ill puppy owner (and I’ll probably have a post coming out soon) is nap when they nap. If you have ever had a newborn (and even if you haven’t) you know they are notorious for not sleeping at night, but also requiring upwards of 15+ hours sleep per day. Take advantage of this. Rack out when they do. Forget chores, forget life as you know it for a few weeks while they are getting trained, my friends. It is a full-time job, which is why I have neglected my blog. I have barely been able to function for my family, let alone be able to research effectively for my blog and then be able to train a puppy and give him the attention he needs AND give my other puppers the attention he needs. He is a senior, who although loves his new playmate because he misses his previous one, also wants individual attention. So, it is important that if you have another dog, no matter the age, you are giving them the attention they need to and not so bogged down with one that you are utterly exhausted from training or just looking after the pup that you flop into bed at night and fall asleep. The flip side is that you are burning the candle at both ends, and trying to undertake everything, which leaves you in the same position- utterly exhausted. I know this to be true because burning the candle at both ends is my middle name.
I don’t ever go into things thinking this is what I am going to do. But I have found out in these years living with chronic illness and chronic pain, that because you have a measure of your independence taken from you, is when you have the opportunity to take it back you leap into that chance with everything you have. Backtracking here a little bit in my story, that surgery for the spinal stimulator- though it didn’t cure me by any means, it alleviated me a little of some of my pain. Someone who doesn’t live with chronic pain 24/7, 365 days a year, doesn’t understand how a little bit of an alleviation can transform your life. Do I still walk with a cane? Yes. Do I still take pain pills? Yes. Am I still in pain 24/7 365 days a year? Actually, yes. It’s just a little less so I can function a little better and do something’s a little better. The point I am trying to make here is that feeling a little better, sweetened the illusion and made it easier to burn that candle at both ends. But chronic pain is just one aspect of what makes me not feel good, and the chronic illness always makes things challenging. It didn’t matter whether or not I waited to get this puppy now or later, chronic illness was going to be my constant companion and the truth was, my mental health was beginning to head in a downward trajectory and I new having him in my life would be good for me. I love taking care of things, teaching them and watching them grow. It’s a great feeling. And there’s nothing quite as wonderful as the bond that develops with a well-trained dog, or any pet that you keep and rear from young one. I have a cat that I feel just as strongly about. Having animals in my life is extremely important to my well-being. They help me to be happier and feel better on days when I am not feeling well at all.
Swinging back to health-stuff; I swallowed a camera pill to see if we can finally nail down a Crohn’s diagnosis. They’ve been treating me as though I have Crohn’s because I have all the symptoms, but only loosely. To treat me, they need to be able to see where the damage is and so far, it has eluded them. They’re hoping the camera pill will reach in places the colonoscopy could not, given the length of the intestines and where my pain seems to be located. I’m happy it finally worked out as I seem to be active in a flare, so I’m praying that little pill takes some really good pictures after the God-awful prep I had swill down. I swear, it is absolute torture IBD patients have to go through to see what is going on in our gut. They’re going to be looking for any bleeding and damage as I have been anaemic and I may be bleeding from somewhere. Not badly, but enough where it’s causing me to be anaemic. After all this, even on the bad days, I still have hope that I’m going to be managed enough where I can carry on enough to function like a quasi-normal person. That moderately sunny day is enough to get me through to the next day.
I also made the monumental decision to change my rheumatologist. I didn’t feel like after two years under her treatment I was progressing in the right direction. I wasn’t getting worse but I wasn’t feeling great and there wasn’t a lot of feedback about the medication she was giving me or why she was giving it to me and as a blogger, advising my readers to take charge of their health and who they see and not be afraid to change their doctors if they don’t feel they are getting the care they need, I felt I wasn’t following my own advice. So, I investigated doctors in my area and found one who had tremendously positive reviews and was named number one in my city by U.S. News & World Report. I lucked out in that the doctor is a woman because it was a personal stipulation of mine- not that I haven’t run across terrible female doctors, but I always personally feel that they tend to understand women better. My first appointment with her was amazing! To my relief, she said my rheumatologist had not misdiagnosed me, but the medications I am taking are all at very low dosages including my infusions. We are aiming to increase the dosages to maximize therapeutic levels in hopes that this will help me feel a great deal better. Today, 8.6.2020, was my first infusion at the higher levels and it was a little rougher than usual but nothing I can’t handle. I’ll keep y’all posted on progress.
Before I forget, there was also the decision to go back to school! I took one summer class that I got an A in and I have one more class- Algebra that is my nemesis, and then I will have officially graduated. Just one more thing on a very, busy plate of things to do.
Ok, this turned out to be a much longer post than anticipated, but I wanted you to know I didn’t forget about you. I will be here keeping you posted on my life, on my health, deployment, on the puppy and all of it as I get time but it will be more sporadic than usual because of everything. If there is anything, you’d like to see me write about, if you have any ideas, thoughts or suggestions, please drop me a line. I am always grateful for the thoughts and ideas of my readers. Without you, there’d be no blog and my life would be much different. I appreciate and value you very much.
**Images are not my artwork or creation and I don’t claim them to be.
I woke up this morning knowing that I have my weekly response paper of 500+ words and my final of 2+ pages to write for my summer class to write for my summer class by June 30th, but this is boiling inside of me as well. I live in Houston, Texas; a city that’s wildly, spiking in COVID-19 patients, to the point that our Texas Children’s Hospital has opened up its ICU to allow adult patients.
I have a complicated view of this decision. I applaud Texas Children’s for opening up their doors for COVID-19 patient’s because if all other beds are full, where are they going to go? On the other hand, I know Texas Children’s very well. My 23-year-old spent nearly 3 months there being premature, born at 28 weeks and weighing only 2lbs. I know there are cancer patients there. Heart patients there. Patients who’ve had organ transplants or are waiting for transplants. Texas Children’s Hospital care for the most vulnerable patients of Houston, and Texas and of the world, because people travel from all over the state and the world to Houston to receive the excellent treatment from the most knowledgeable doctors we have there. I don’t want to put any of those children or doctor’s in danger.
On the hand, I don’t know who made the decision to open Texas Children to COVID-19 patients. Was it Governor Abbott? Mayor Turner? Was it Texas Children’s Hospital? If it was a collective decision that the hospital was a part of? I hope it was the latter because we’ve seen in New York that hospitals are not immune to spreading this virus. The last place that needs to see an explosion of the virus is this hospital. It’s frustrating as a citizen to see this happening, knowing maybe it could’ve been prevented. Our County Judge Lina Hidalgo implored people to wear masks a month ago, but Governor Abbott snidely called her a radical. Meanwhile, as I sit here on my couch recovering from surgery, having been a virtual hermit since May, all I can think is, “Radical? Is that what we now call people who are looking out for the health and safety of others?” Guess I am a radical. I’ll wear that proudly.
Moving on to my point of this post as my time is quickly running out- yes I’m on a timer! We often here the phrase “new normal,” but I think the only way we can handle this virus, especially upon hearing that the antibodies may only last a couple months, is looking at this as a New Way of Life, not just a “new normal.” In my opinion, the way I’ve heard a “new normal expressed,” I think can be interpreted by some, as something transient and something that can go “back to normal.” I think things need to be expressed in a more finite way. This is the way things are. This is the “New Way of Life.” Cut the cord of any expectation of things going back to normal. I don’t think we can fight this monster of COVID-19 and win, if we don’t change our life habits completely and never look back. I think masks are going to be a permanent part of our life until a vaccine is created that works, and works for more than 3-6 months. I think hand washing is a vital part of cleanliness and in protecting yourself from COVID-19, just the same as social distancing.
Our New Way of Life isn’t something that will be easy and isn’t something that will be like by all. It’s the nature of “new things.” But as Americans, it’s also our nature to come together and support each other during dark times, throwing aside differing views for one common goal, in this case- Annihilation of COVID-19! Whenever it becomes difficult- whenever it becomes frustrating to wear your mask or social distance, remember that. Remember the common cause. Remember who you are protecting.
Here’s a glimpse into a marriage where there’s chronic illness eating away at what was a healthy couple’s life. I am not making a distinction as to man or woman because frankly, I’ve seen this all too many times in either gender, so I don’t think it matters. It’s not really a male or female thing. It’s an understanding thing and a communication thing. Many times, this goes down in social media. A call for help. Here it goes: Individual with Chronic Illness: Hey guys it’s me. It was a bad day and I’ve been really sick. The pain has me so I can sit up without the world spinning and making me so nauseous I vomit. If that wasn’t enough, I have a sinus infection. I haven’t been to work and it’s causing financial strain. I’ve been told to buck up. I have to move on from this pain. I can’t sleep forever and there’s things that have to be done. They are resentful of having to do everything after long days at work and also needing to keep up with children. I get this. It’s not like I want to be laying here in pain. I miss work. I miss being useful. I’ve tried getting up but vomiting on standing is a great deterrent. Still, I’ve made my decision. For the sake of my marriage and my job I am ditching my doctors and my meds and I am getting up. Mind over matter as they say. I will do this. They will be proud of me. I don’t want to lose my marriage because I am weak. Wish me luck, I will need it.
First, as many of us are in groups for chronic pain or fibromyalgia or other chronic illness, we are only getting once side and it’s easy to hit that keyboard, typing out emotionally. I’ve done it. Not too long ago as a matter-of-fact. But we may not be getting the whole story. It’s not to say our friends aren’t telling the truth, but it’s just a general fact. Like any marriage, we aren’t privy to what is happening behind closed doors and that is very much the same when it comes to social media. We only know what one person is posting. That being said, being reactionary to a problem has never worked for anyone and making someone feel guilty for being sick, when it isn’t their fault for being sick is a terrible thing to do. As every therapist has ever said, communication, communication, communication. Two people who are invested in a relationship who are dealing with something as invasive as a chronic illness, need to sit down and talk about it. Ditching doctors and medicine and pretending like it’s no longer there will not solve a damn thing. You don’t pretend like you don’t have cancer and survive it for very long and while chronic illness may not kill you outright, it will kill your relationship and your career, if you don’t learn how to deal with it in a meaningful and logical way. That means sitting down and talking to your significant other and working out how you divvy up chores. What are you able to do on a day-to-day basis that won’t leave you so exhausted that you aren’t able to function the rest of the week? What are you able to do during the weekends that will lighten your load for the week, like preparing meals ahead of time or prepping work clothes or getting things ready for the kids? There are ways to work around chronic illness with your partner if you collaborate with one another instead of work against each other.
The partner who is chronically ill may be experiencing a deterioration of the body due to illness, but you as a couple, are experiencing a deterioration of communication due to an inability to come to terms with reality. Your significant other is trying to maintain life as it was before you got sick [Before Chronic Illness], while you are trying to navigate life with your illness, coping with bad pain days that leave you unable to get out of bed [After Chronic Illness]. You’re both speaking a different language and it’s nobody’s fault, really but it is society’s fault for shouldering the blame on the chronic pain patient and saying they need to, “buck up,” and that they need to “just get over this and move on.” Did that sound too harsh? Are you thinking, “c,mon now, no one really says anything like that anymore?” They actually do. Not just loving partners to one another, but doctors to patients. I know, right?!
Take a step back and remember that there’s a reason you are together. Remember that togetherness isn’t all about the good times. Sometimes it’s about looking at things differently and choosing to view it through a different lens so that what may have once seemed like a crappy deal, may now be a gift you never knew existed or a possibility that you never realized lurked behind that door. It really just depends on how you frame things and sometimes it’s not easy and it takes time to learn how to look at things differently. You can’t be upset at your partner for not catching up to your way of thinking and you have to be understanding that it may take time for them to catch up. Remember, it’s a life changing adjustment for both of you regardless who has the illness. But it is worth it in the end. You are gaining peace. You are gaining understanding of one another and you are gaining more time with each other.