Wednesday, February 23, 2011

It isn't all tears and complaining

This just goes to show how fickle Fibromyalgia really is, especially in my body. Yesterday, I was in so much pain at 4 AM that I cried. I hurt most of the day and the pain lingered. Sometime in the midday, I stood up and a sharp stabbing pain jolted through my foot from my heel to my ankle. I could barely put weight on it. And if you've seen me, you'll know I'm mostly weight. I woke up this morning and the foot pain was gone. I had my usual bodily pain and felt weak.

The disabled guy had to go to the store and asked if I wanted to go with him. Mostly because he hates driving my truck and our son drives his to school (he's in college so his schedule varies). I didn't want to go, but it keeps the peace and I drove. After the store, we had to go to the gas station and I figured since I was driving, I'd take the longer route past where the bald eagles have been hanging around. Whenever the kids or I mentioned it to the disabled guy, he would get angry about it and say stuff like, "I've seen eagles before. They're just a bird!"

Well, true, but the last time either of us have laid eyes on a bald eagle in the wild would have been when we lived in Alaska in the 1980s. But I digress... I'm driving, we went my route.

When we rolled down the curvy road along the river, an eagle was soaring and swooping over the river. I pulled over (because I had my camera). I told him to take the truck to the gas station and then come back for me. He did and I walked along the river and snapped some photos. (most of those didn't turn out). Interesting a side note- there was an older woman walking along the path, watching the eagle. She said it had been the first time to see them. I asked if she meant these eagles specifically or just eagles in general. She meant eagles in general, so the first time she ever saw bald eagles in the wild, she got to see one as it caught prey.

Instead of standing in the wind and cold (I'm wearing a tank top, cableknit hoodie, and I had on my denim jacket) to wait on the disabled guy, I decided to walk up to the corner (its an asphalt path, some ice and snow here and there and a patch of mud I had to walk through). Once I got to the corner, I thought I'd keep going... up the hill (which is to cross the bridge). And I did. And at the other end of the bridge, the disabled guy turned out of the gas station and I waved to him to get him to turn at the next corner. (he didn't, he had to go all the way down and come back up). So, by the time he turned around, I was on the next block. I told him to pull up to the next side street and pull over there (I'm not fond of blocking traffic, unlike the other people who decide to eagle-watch by slamming on their brakes in the middle of the street).

At the top of that hill, I saw one of the eagles again. And I took a bunch more photos. Then I got back into my truck and reset my trip odometer to see how far I'd actually walked. It was just short of a half mile, but at the start and stop, I zig-zagged to take photos. I'm going to call it a cool half mile.

When I got back into the truck after the second set of eagle photos, I said to the disabled guy, "I wonder how bad this is gonna feel tomorrow morning."

He replied, "Probably pretty bad. You might feel it tonight."

I said, "I'll probably feel it in a couple hours after I go through these on the computer." ("these" being the photos). "I'm gonna take a Vicodin when we get home."

He said, "I think you should. Maybe two." (I didn't take two- because it was too close to when I'd normally take the dosage and I don't want to over-medicate).

So there you are. Not all crybaby tears.

And here are the photos.

This is where I started. I walked back from where I'd gotten out of my truck and took a shot of the river.

The river

The eagle eating whatever it was he caught in the river.

This eagle was eating his lunch

Now, I have a fantastic camera- we've all seen the photos I take with it. But, this river is wide and while this is a great camera, it does lack a zoom... granted, I can zoom in very well, but not in this situation. Don't judge my camera, I love it.

You can see the sandbar on the right, where I took that first picture. The eagle would be to the left in this photo (but you obviously can't see him here). This was taken from the bridge.

The river from the bridge.

This is from the other side of the bridge.

Showing how far I walked.

And this is my Day 10 of my second 365 days project. I'm out of breath, but I'm not dead and I'm not in all that much pain. I don't know if it was excitement of seeing the eagle as it was flying (if I had been even two minutes earlier, I would have had flying shots of the eagle) or just happiness that I was walking that way. But I did it. (also, I'm standing IN Wisconsin, but Illinois is reflected in my sunglasses).

10 of 365/2- I bloody well took a walk

I walked up the hill to the side street where I'd directed the disabled guy. Two cars were stopped in the street near the corner so I walked over to see where the eagle was- I didn't see it, I had no idea what they were looking at. So I walked back to the truck and climbed in. I told the disabled guy I was going to turn around and "clock it" on the odometer to see how far I'd gone. I turned around and as I slowed to the stop sign, I saw the eagle. I parked on the side of the street, got out and walked all the way back over to the other street to get the photo. These are the shots I got- zoomed in.

Closer shot...

The eagle was mostly ignoring me

Right after I snapped this shot, the eagle took flight. I wasn't paying attention (I was twiddling with my camera settings) and I missed the in-flight shot. But damned if I didn't take a walk today. (I've been trying to maintain a three-times-a-week schedule).

He's not looking at me

To demonstrate my camera's zoom capabilities...

This shot is from a couple weeks ago- not zoomed-

This is not zoomed...

And this is in full-zoom. (damn good camera)

This is full-zoom

Tuesday, February 22, 2011

I cried this morning (swear words used)

I went to bed early last night. Really early. Around 830 PM. There I was, in bed, legs elevated... awake till 10 PM. I didn't think I'd get to sleep. My legs were swollen (as per usual) and I was really tired (as in, drugged) but about ten minutes after my legs were elevated the itching started. It started in my calves and went up my legs to my lower back and my skin itched so bad I thought I was going insane. Of course, scratching didn't help. Stretching my legs didn't help. Nothing helped. I finally dozed off sometime after 10 PM. (I know this because "Golden Girls" was on TV).

At 4 AM, the disabled guy got out of bed to go to the bathroom and I woke up. I started to roll over and couldn't move. The pain was so fucking bad that I couldn't move. I tried rolling the other way, thinking if went where more bed-space was, it would hurt less. It didn't. It hurt so bad that I couldn't stop the tears. I cried. The pain was all over. It was everywhere, but most of it radiated from my right arm and shoulder. (at the moment, it's not so bad, around a 5 on that 1 to 10 pain scale). I felt as if my muscles were trying to rip themselves from my body. Burning, shredding pain. I managed to get turned over and then dozed in and out of sleep till I got up at 5 AM. At 5 AM, it took me twice as long to get up and get my clothes on (giant T-shirt, loose yoga pants; I sleep naked, sorry for that mental image).

I've been up an hour as I type this and my muscles ache as if I've got a horrible flu. But I don't have the flu. This is fucking fibromyalgia and it fucking sucks. This is the worst day I've had in weeks. Hell, maybe months. Yesterday was bad, but in the drag-me-to-the-floor sense. Unless this Gabapentin kicks in hard, then today will be worse than yesterday.

I told the disabled guy (who got up right when I started typing this) that I woke up at 4 AM and cried from the pain. I couldn't move. He said, "I've felt like that before."

I replied, "It isn't the same."

He said, as if I hadn't spoken, "But I kept going anyway, moved and got up."

Well, so did I, Goddammit. You see me sitting in this fucking chair? How the fuck do you think I got down the stairs? So I repeated, "It isn't the same. This is different. You were sore from working out. I'm sore because I'm alive." He sort of made a shrug as he put on his hat (he was heading outside to shovel the couple inches of snow we got overnight).

So I added, "I know pain, Goddammit! I gave birth to an eleven pound baby. I had my leg bones sawed off and replaced with metal. I know what fucking pain is. Do you realize how badly I had to hurt to be brought to tears? Tears!"

Of course, he didn't care. He doesn't understand or he doesn't care. But what a way to wake up.

If I don't move at all- if I sit absolutely still... the pain is about 4/5 and my skin itches in little electrical-ish jolts. But of course, I can't be absolutely still. I have to breathe.

Friday, February 11, 2011

I took a walk today

After last week's zombification after taking a midday pill, I went back to taking just two pills- one in the morning, one in the evening. Today (a week later), I took another midday pill. It didn't send me into the walking-dead mode that it did last week, but I could feel it. I wouldn't drive at this point, taking that midday pill. But I did go for a walk.

I have this great idea for a photo. It probably isn't even all that original, but to do it, I have to drive over to the place to do the photo. And one thing led to another and my truck was blocked in the driveway. To hell with it, I figured, might as well try the midday pill again.

Then, for some unknown reason, I put my boots on and decided to go for a walk. I took my camera, of course, but I didn't take a lot of photos. Overall, the walk was okay. It was uphill most of the way. And there was hardly any clear concrete. The city uses a snowblower on the public sidewalks and the neighbors between here didn't go down to the concrete after the last snowfall. But it wasn't bad. My feet hurt most of the time, of course. I got to see a goshawk attacking some smaller birds- I assume they were starlings because they were noisy and all moved in unison till the goshawk came around. I couldn't get any photos of the goshawk because he was just that fast. By the time I had my camera out and turned on, he was done terrorizing them. (and of course, I didn't want to carry my camera in my hand as I walked because if I fell down, I wouldn't want to damage the camera or myself in an attempt at not damaging the camera).

I paced myself and took short steps. Quite a difference from the long-striding, fast-pace walking I did not so long ago. Back when I could slam out four miles in about an hour and ten minutes then do a half hour of yoga. *heavy sigh* The good old days.

I made it home unscathed and a little chilly. The wind was at my back on the way out and it was blowing in my face on the way back. But I was glad for that because then I didn't get overheated. Of course, that would have been difficult what with the 15° Fahrenheit temperature (not including whatever the wind chill was at the time).

About two hours later, I ended up taking a Vicodin (just one) because I felt my muscles tightening up. But still, not bad. Also, the midday Gabapentin did cause a little tiredness, but not the falling-over-tiredness I had last week.

So, here we are, about seven hours later and I'm stiff. I feel like I just pulled a sled over the river and through the woods to grandmother's house. Interestingly enough, I did walk halfway to my parents' house... and it was over the hill. I didn't get anywhere close to the river though.

But I digress. Here are the photos I took today. Enjoy.

This was about halfway up the hill. I live down the hill and about a block to the right. You can't see my house anymore. The Goshawk Incident happened across the street, in those twiggy bushes on the right side of the photo.

Halfway up the hill....

This one is almost to the top- almost because at the top you can't really see the hill at all. There's a tree in the distance between the two trees closer to where I was standing... that's where the first photo was taken.

Nearly the top...

At the top, I was greeted with the sight of not only flat ground, but the city was piling snow up in the parking lot of the park. I'm in a couple of snowplow-centric groups on Flickr, so I take photos of snowplows and other snow removal equipment when I see it. I don't get the appeal of it, but I guess people don't get the appeal of what I take photos of either, so who am I to judge? Anyway, I took some photos of the front-loader that was piling up the snow. A couple of city plow trucks came and went while I was walking (to dump snow) and one of them apparently recognized me from the other times I snapped photos, because he waved at me as he drove by while I was going downhill.

Piling up the snow

Today would have been a great day to get the photo I have the idea for because it was snowing.

And this is my Day 363 of 365 (yup, I'm almost done with my first year). From where I'm standing, the plow activity was happening to the left of the photo and far behind me (yay for a zoom). I put my sunglasses up on my head to show my eyes because I've been curtly informed that hiding my eyes behind sunglasses is strictly forbidden!

363 of 365- I took a walk today

I took this on the way back down the hill (one of two, actually). Those leaves have hung on through several snowstorms and some crazy high wind conditions. Hang on a little while longer, guys, Spring's a-comin'!

Hang on, boys, its almost Spring!

Oh, there's my house. I'm almost home. My feet were killing me almost the entire time. The snow on either side of the sidewalk was varying heights from knee to mid-torso. The drifts were crazy in that last big storm. Today was nothing, a mere dusting. But it looked pretty as it fell.

I'm almost home!

I hope to do this three times a week. I have my two-year follow-up with my knee surgeon in about a month's time. It would be nice to have something to show for all his work. It was the surgery (we assume) that triggered the fibromyalgia flareup that was too huge to ignore. So I should thank him for that because had I not gotten my knee replaced, I might still be undiagnosed and suffering. And if I do this three times a week, at my next fibro follow-up, I'll have a significant amount of weight loss to show for it.

Also, if I can keep this up and increase (eventually) to every day... this summer at the ren faire will be, literally, a walk in the park.

Sunday, February 6, 2011

Annoying reminders and a bit of a rant (which I hate doing)

I know all about triggers and I'm learning what my triggers are (among them, heat and humidity, stress- both mental and physical- lack of sleep). And each time I take a medicine, I get to deal with that and I'm learning as I go...

But I think I get this thing figured out and something new pops up or something old happens as a reminder that there is absolutely nothing predictable about fibromyalgia other than it is unpredictable.

I started a new medicine (Gabapentin) two weeks (and two days) ago. I had to take it at night for a week, then start two times a day then increase it to three times a day "if tolerated". Week two with the twice-daily dose went quite well. I had some adjustment stuff to go through- such as learning one of the side effects was that I became inexplicably cranky. The dry mouth hasn't been great (please, no suggestions, I'm dealing with it) but I can live with these very mild side effects. I'm sure the "inexplicably cranky" stuff would be easier to deal with if I didn't have the stupid amount of stress that I do every single day.

My problem now isn't really fibro itself. And its mostly my own fault. After several days in a row of feeling rather good, I forget that I can (and do) still have random days where I feel like I've been thrown from a horse and then gravity increases itself and pulls me closer to the ground. At least, that's how I feel on some days. Like everything is heavier- my feet, my arms, my clothes, my hair. That says a lot about my hair, because I already have thick and heavy (awesome!) hair. But I digress...

Saturday (if you're reading this days down the line, then it would be the day before the Superbowl 2011), I had an incredibly stressful day. It started first thing in the morning with the Disabled Guy absolutely freaking out over nothing. He got angry and then took it out on me by first shouting at me then telling me he wasn't going to listen to me anymore and then gave me the silent treatment for hours- despite the things I was asking him or talking about really needed his attention. Then, around midday, he finally listened to what I had to say, and tried my suggestions and everything was fine. He stopped acting angry. But for me, the damage was done. My skin was itchy, my muscles ached, particularly my shoulders and neck (where I apparently carry a lot of stress). He went on to act cheerful for the rest of the day. Well, damn, thanks for all that but I can't be glad that you waited for hours, treating me like I was the biggest jerk in the world and then suddenly all is good.

Because all isn't good. I ached and itched for the rest of the day- till I took my Vicodin and Gabapentin. I even told him that. Something along the lines of: "You can't expect me to be all happy for you when the problem would have been fixed if you had just shut the fuck up and listened to me in the morning. Instead, you acted like an asshole and now my fibro is flaring up..."

Bring on today, where I was so exhausted that I could barely get up. I ended up taking a nap (a restless nap at that) and I've felt that extra gravity all day. We had snow again today and I tried to get snowflake photos and couldn't hold myself steady enough for many good ones. I've been drained of energy today, but not so exhausted that I couldn't stand upright.

Since today was better stress-wise, I figured I'd just cope. Well, lucky me, I have a 19-year-old son who seems to think its his duty to remind me of every little thing in the highest mocking way possible. I had a project to do (not for any reason other than for the sake of doing it) and I needed Ceej's help to do it. He stood by to complain about everything from the way we were trying to do it (something he has no knowledge of) to how he had to mute the TV so we could do it. So we just stopped. I told Ceej we'd do it later if she wanted but it wasn't important. And of course, Mister Self-Entitled refuses to see how his actions could have any bearing on how I feel. And no, he doesn't listen when I try to explain. I could talk to him till I'm hoarse, but it won't change how he feels. I pity his possible wife if she ever has a problem. Good luck, imaginary future daughter-in-law. I honestly thought I raised him to be a little more sensitive.

I hate complaining specifically about family members this way. Because I hate it when people do that. Some days, its hard to use that sparkling sense of humor to deflect the pain. And today is one of those days I'd like to run away from home.

But I can't, because I can't drive when I take my pain meds.

Thursday, February 3, 2011

I have good news...

But first!

No! No "but", just tell us!

No, I can't. There's a but and its first...

Gabapentin... it has a few slight side effects that I can live with- but they're worth mentioning. After I started taking it twice a day, I noticed that I get a slight headache from it. But, that seems to have passed, so it may be a temporary thing. And by that, I mean that for the last two days, I haven't had a headache after I take the morning Gabapentin dose.

The other side effect seems to be the dry mouth. Don't bother making suggestions, they don't work for me (I've tried them all, including "Biotene" which tastes awful and doesn't work).

I also seem to get inexplicably cranky and unmotivated about forty-five minutes to an hour after I take it. It doesn't last, but its annoying. And who can tell "mild crankiness" from "peri-menopausal mood swing"? I can... but I live in my body and you don't.

So, two mild side effects... and crankiness. overall, not that bad.

Now on to the good news...

Finally! Geez, lady!

But first... NO!... I'm kidding, here's the good news...

It seems to be working. I've been taking it for two weeks (Friday morning will be two weeks and the day I start taking it three times a day) and in those two weeks, I can't recall having that under-the-skin itching that I routinely get, especially with the weather changes. As each day has gone on, I've felt less fatigued and far less sore than usual. (isn't that sad? That "all-over body pain" has to become "the usual"). The true test to this was this week, really.

You may have heard how America was "crippled" by this massive snowstorm. And some places have been. Some places have been slaughtered by snow for the past two months and this just adds more on top of it. And some places aren't used to this kind of snow and it really does cripple their towns. Well, for us in Southern Wisconsin- that is to say, away from Lake Michigan because I heard they got more snow than us- its just winter. This storm didn't seem any more rough than any other winter storm we've had.

Anyway... Obviously, I didn't shovel the snow. No way, no how. I did my time shoveling in the first ten years we lived here. Its their turn now. (and by them, I mean the disabled guy and the boy- who will be 19 on Tuesday). But, I did trek outside and take loads of photos. I know you didn't expect anything less.

After a few "ooh, look at the snowdrift" shots, I waded out into the big drift in front of our house to see what would happen. I got to about mid-thigh before I got stuck. So, while there, I took some photos. Then I had to un-stick myself and go back up to the house. All the photos from this ridiculously labeled "Snowpocalypse 2011" that I took are available at this link...

And if you don't want to go through the 106 photos and three videos that are in that set, below are the "me stuck in the snow" photos I took.

This is when I realized I was stuck in the snow...

I'm laughing because I'm stuck

My legs-are-stuck shots...

Almost to my hip

My leg, in the snow

My legs in the snow

My legs, covered in snow...

My legs after I un-stuck myself

354 of 365- covered in snow

The Disabled Guy and The boy-

The disabled guy and the boy

So, why is this important?

Because last night, when I'd sit down for an extended period of time, I'd stiffen up. Just like "normal". When I woke up this morning, I could barely move. I was stiff and sore and achy, as if I'd been shoveling. I even mentioned it on the joint-replacement message board I frequent. It was around mid-morning when I realized something... I had to go to the bank to pay some bills and thought, "I gotta take my camera..." so I could go to the park and take some winter photos... And it was then I realized I didn't hurt anymore. I didn't ache all over like I did a few hours earlier when I woke up.

This medicine is working. I still ache and the end of the day is still the tired-achy end of the day... but it isn't ALL DAY and that's what we're going for!

I took some photos of the river. It was cold and I had to trudge through some snow to get the shots. Those photos are in that linked-to set above.

But here's my favorite from today-

Me walking through the deep snow