Tag Archive: humor


Coping with Pain and Living

pain level conceptual meter indicate maximumIt has been 15 years since I began a journey of living each day with chronic pain.  It hasn’t been easy but I do not take pain pills. I am finally at a point where I am comfortable with the daily struggle.  I have found some helpful things that doctors and therapist will not tell you about.  Coping is hard but to live a full life coping is essential. Peace of mind, contentment and a willingness to change your mindset can do wonders. There are also some useful treatments you can do yourself when the pain is intense.

Number one on my list of tips would have to be pity parties.  You are allowed to have them but set a timer for one hour.  At the end of the hour, fix yourself up.  Put on makeup, perfume, or whatever makes you look your best. If you struggle with this, at least brush your hair, brush your teeth and wash your face.  When you feel clean and refreshed you just feel better.

Number two is meditation.  Meditate with a montra, music, or prayer.  Breathe deeep breaths and realize how good it is to be alive. When your mind is calm your pain will decrease.  Meditation is very difficult when you are in pain but it is surprisingly effective. As pain increases, agitation and worry increases. As agitation and worry increases, pain increases. This creates a cycle of increasing pain.  Calming the mind, calms the pain.

Number three is spiritual awareness. This is the ability to let go of your responsibility to fix it. Sometimes things in our life are not what we planned.  An awareness of our spiritual beliefs and a feeling that we cannot control everything in life can ease our soul.  When pain is chronic it is easy to get bitter and concentrate only on the negative.  Look outside yourself. There is always someone in more pain, guaranteed. I believe in Jesus Christ as my savior and that belief gives me peace.

Number four on the list is smiling.  Try to smile whenever you look in the mirror.  Smile at everyone you meet.  It is extremely hard not to feel good when you are smiling.  A positive, happy outlook will make anything you are going through easier.  Even when my hair was falling out and I had a red rash all over my face, I got in a habit of smiling when I look in the mirror. I must admit I did look funny.

Those are the most important things on my list. They are also the four hardest.  Now I will give you simple things that help.

Heat always helps arthritic pain (swelling needs cold).  A heating pad is my best friend. I have wrapped my hand and my feet with one, sat on one, leaned on one and many other positions of comfort or comedy.  Of course, a hot tub is great if you don’t have high blood pressure. For arthritic hands or feet, a paraffin dip is fantastic.  If you hands get cold, sleep in gloves. My favorite is a warm bath.

Vicks Vapor Rub, or a generic version, is the most versatile of aids.  There are expensive over the counter medications with the same ingredient, menthol.  Rub this wherever you have pain.  It smells horrible but it works great!  If the smell is a problem there are many other products that work but they do cost more. Look for the highest percentage of menthol. If your hands hurt rub them with Vicks and put gloves on; for your feet rub and put on socks.

Stretching and exercise is very important.  My condition flares up after exercise so I quit exercising and my pain increased.  It is very important to keep your muscles and soft tissue strong and flexible.  I do yoga to keep my range of motion, balance and flexibility.  I often combine yoga and meditation. I go to physical therapy once a week to keep my muscles from atrophying. I have a treadmill and I try to walk everyday.

The best thing you can buy for pain is an e-stim, electrical stimulation, machine.  This is a battery operated version of the machines in use by physical therapist and chiropractors.  Most drug stores have these and they are available on Amazon for under $30.  If you decide to purchase one, buy one with leads and sticky pads.  This allows you to better target your painful areas.  Versions are available for various areas that are butterfly shaped with the pads and control in one device.  I have tried them and found they are great for small areas but require someone else to start them if they are for your back. And they are more expensive.

I truly hope my tips help you. Once you have your mind calm and your body exercised, take a warm hot bath with bath salts. Dry off well. Spray your bed with lavender scent. Hook the e-stim up, cover it with the hot pad and relax with deep breaths. You are alive! You are truly wonderfully made.

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Rabbit holeHelp! I have fallen down the rabbit hole. My husband is self-employed and has insurance through the Health Insurance Marketplace.  We actually enrolled him during the initial roll out. There were no problems.  Signing up was quick and painless.  This year I received a letter, in my name, that we needed to resubmit his application through the government Marketplace. We wanted to carry the same policy.  Yikes! The only time I have ever encountered customer service this poor was dealing with disability insurance companies when filing a claim. Those of you following my blog know what that was like.

First I tried to renew through the website at 8:00 a.m. Everything went fine till the financial portion.  Because my husband is self-employed as a sole proprietor, he does not get a monthly paycheck.  The first question was asking the monthly income.  We base our income on the profit for the year before so I divided it int0 12 months. The same way I did it the year before. After completing this it said I had to send in a W2, pay stub, business ledger, or 2014 tax return. He is self-employed so he doesn’t get a W2 or a pay stub! I ought to copy our business ledger and send it to them, but I don’t want to kill that many trees or pay that much postage.  Obviously we don’t have a 2014 tax return. I gave up and decided to call the number provided.

It was now 8:45 a.m.  After a 10 minute hold time a very courteous young lady answered the call. She took all my information then told me she couldn’t discuss my husband’s insurance with me.   I reminded her that I received a letter to me for my husband’s insurance.  She absolutely would not, could not speak with me without my husband with me.  Thank you very much for the help. It was now 9:15 a.m.

Now for the biggest fiasco yet! At 9:30 I decided to try to call one more time and get another representative a try.  This time there was a 15 minute wait time. The call was answered by a young man that confidently responded that he could certainly help me with the task.  Everything went well till we got into the financial portion.  Once again he asked for the monshooting-starthly income and I explained the self-employment issue.  I stated our income hadn’t changed.  Finally after 2 hours going back and forth, we get his insurance set up for $325 a month.  But I still have to send in nonexistent paper work! Plus there is another number I have to call to get it started.  Wonder how long that will take? It  was now 11:35 a.m.

But it gets even better.  The same day I received a letter in the mail from my insurance company stating that if we didn’t renew it would automatically renew for $183 a month! If you saw a shooting star that night it was just the top of my head exploding!

Trying New Things

Painting, gardening and crafts

As I continue to define my role in life as a disabled retiree, I have tried several alternative directions. I have tried tutoring, sewing, painting, care-giving, volunteering, and gardening. Oh yeah, I blog. There just hasn’t been anything that cranks my tractor yet. I know I have a hidden talent that is just waiting to be found.

Tutoring went well and I enjoyed it.  The point of tutoring is to get the student to the point that they don’t need to be tutored.  At first, I got several calls a week requesting tutoring. I had 4 or 5 regular students for 3 or 4 sessions.  Each student became confident enough to end the sessions.  The school hired another math teacher and I quit getting calls.  Guess I was too good for my own good! I even tutored a few adults that wanted to learn different technology. While I enjoyed that, adult students taking private lessons can be truly demanding and required too much babying.

I thought I knew how to sew.  I made pillows and seat cushions.  I even taught a friend to sew.  We made at least 5 summer dresses and tops.  She wears the dresses all summer and they look great on her.  They just look like sacks on me!  I tried to make my great-nieces clothes.  I only saw them wear them a few times.  I suspect their mother made the girls wear them then.  I left wads of elastic in the waistband because I couldn’t get it back around to cut it off.  The seams were too large making the legs tight.  Honestly, I wouldn’t wear them and I won’t even display them here!  And my bloody fingertips became too sore.

 

crafts displayed on a table

Countless hours and burnt fingertips produced an array of crafts to sale.

My latest effort was crafts.  A local church was having a bazaar and you could rent a booth for $20.  Great. I was excited. A friend of mine decided she would do it with me. We spent a week gluing, painting, and tying.  We collected craft ideas and were diligently preparing to sell our first million, or a 100 at least.  I found it very painful. Hot glue and hands that shake or drop things should not be in the same room together. I think I lost the fingerprints on at least two of my fingers. The big day came and we went to find our booth.  It was at the very end of the booths, behind the musical equipment for the band that was playing.  And it was farther from the door than any other.  I think we sold $120 but spent $60 on materials and paid a $20 booth rental.  We cleared about $30 each and I got rid of those pesky fingerprints!

So far I haven’t found my next calling, but I am certainly going to keep looking. The desire for individuality and purpose is uniquely human. As long as my fingers hold out, I am going to keep searching for what I want to do with my life when I grow up!

How Did I Get Here

I have been spending time lately thinking about how I got to the life I lead today. The only thing I can say for certain is that the 18 year old me would not believe me today. I think I changed into someone else along the way, or maybe it is who I was meant to be.

My journey has been the same one that most people in my age bracket has faced. When we were teenagers we had the world by the horns. We were the greatest generation yet. The “establishment” had created The Vietnam War, civil injustices, and anything else we didn’t like. We were the “anti-” generation (That hasn’t changed apparently!)

As a teenager, I was basically a follower and did whatever everyone else was doing. Thankfully I didn’t fall down a rabbit hole. I was quiet and a little shy. I didn’t join clubs because I didn’t know how to start a conversation. Now I am loud and outspoken. I have actually held a job that required public speaking. I don’t care if opening my mouth proves my IQ.

Fog

Since I started school I have always lived in cities. I grew up walking to the store or taking a short ride to the movies. I seldom stayed home all day. Now I live in an rural county in an isolated location overlooking the lake. While the view is great, conversation is limited to me and me. My huband still works so days can get long. Oh, did I mention I can’t drive due to Meniere’s Disease?

I think I missed something somewhere. How did I get here???

Goodbye, Mustang Sally

Old picture of boys leaning against cars.

I grew up in the 60s and early 70s.  Mustangs were THE hot car.  The boys would park their Mustangs, and other muscle cars outside the gym.  They would lean up against their cars in their bell bottoms that fit comfortably  tight, no need to buy boxers for show.

Looking back I am sure some of these boys were just skinny pimply faced kids, but they sure did look hot to us girls when they leaned up against those muscle cars.

When I turned 50, I guess I had a midlife crisis, but I absolutely had to have one of the new retro style Mustangs.  I specifically wanted the pony package in gray with a black convertible roof.  In 2009, I found her.

Mustang Sally

She was on a car lot covered with leaves.  I knew I had to have her.  She went home with me that very day.

On bleak cold or rainy days, she rode me to work safe and secure.  When the sun was out and the day was warm, she would put her top down and ride with the wind.  On those days, I felt young and free riding with my friend.  I would get challenges at red lights and would race her engine just a little to have some fun.  (Never enough to break the law.  Never. Honest.)  Going into drive through service windows were a hoot!

Then my doctor said those words, “You need to use extreme caution driving.”  I began to have vertigo spells where someone would have to come get me.  More words followed that changed my life, “You need to stop driving.”

“Mustang Sally, think you better slow your mustang down.
Mustang Sally, think you better slow your mustang down.
You been running all over the town now.
Oh! I guess I’ll have to put your flat feet on the ground.


All you want to do is ride around Sally, ride, Sally, ride.
All you want to do is ride around Sally, ride, Sally, ride.
All you want to do is ride around Sally, ride, Sally, ride.”
~Wilson Pickett

Now my old friend, Sally, is going to a teenage girl who will treasure her as she deserves to be treasured. Maybe they will make their own teenage memories.  Memories that she may look back on 40 years later and smile.  Hopefully, they will be memories she can cherish and remember with laughter.  A classic ride driven by a classy young girl.

Take care of Mustang Sally for me, Christina!

Brain Fog

out of orderIt has been over a year since I have went shopping on my own. It has been over a year since I drove myself to the doctor. It has been nearly a year since I went by myself to visit a friend. It has been almost a year since I have done anything unplanned. It has been over a year since I had to think!

Everything seems slowed down, almost like swimming in hard set jelly. I hear people tell me things and react as one should react. Later though I can’t remember them telling me and I have to ask again. I never remember people’s names, but then I never did in the past either. I have a degree in math, taught high school math, and did graduate work in computer science, but I find myself stumped when trying to figure out the difference between two prices. I used to always be elected to keep score during game night. Now I am accused of cheating because I add wrong!

I truly do not believe it is due to any physical calamity, although God has given me a few. I think this “brain fog” is just laziness. I have set and hibernated for the past year.  Am I better physically? Maybe in some ways.  Mentally?  Definitely not. Because of my physical limitations, I have allowed my brain to atrophy. I have not been challenged with true problem solving. I let my physical dependencies morph into emotional dependencies. My brain became a couch potato.

So I need to get off my rear and motivate. I am not sure how to go about it. I know exercise is in order in some format. Balance and fatiguing the muscles are issues. I need to find some way to volunteer for something even though I can’t get anywhere or predict if I will even be able to volunteer on any given day. Crossword puzzles and smartphone games are gwoman holding shopping bagsreat, but lack that charge you get from social interaction.

Recently I did go on a shopping trip with two other friends. I was out of the loop when they began talking jobs, shopping, or anything outside our little group. I quickly tired and began walking slower. How do people do this?

How do you become a healthy shut-in? I do not live near a metropolitan area. My husband would not move to the city. There is no public transportation. My husband works long hours and has to rearrange employees to take me places. I want to get healthier and continue to grow stronger. I want to grow sharper mentally and to continue to live independently. Any suggestions?

Riding the Tiger

Life is like riding a tiger.  It will try to throw you, scar you, bite you and chew you up.  We have been with out my income for 8 months now.  I haven’t driven at all in months and spend most of my time sick.   My husband recently reminded me that we have been thrust into drastic changes before.

In 1994, we sold a rental property and my husband’s business property to the state for a highway.  The state paid residential prices for highway frontage.  My husband could not rebuild with the price they paid.  He was without a job. A male Sumatran tiger  I had just finished college and did not have a job.  Then a real-estate agent knocked on our door.  He had a couple that were interested in our home that wasn’t on the market.  Next thing we know we had sold our home and had no place to live.

I found a teaching position and went to work. My husband took a much needed vacation, raised our two sons who were teenagers, cooked, cleaned and fished a lot.  We built a new house with a pool.

Two years later I lost my job.  I found another, better position with much better pay.  My husband was able to rebuild his store. We not only came out on top but better for it.

We call this “riding the tiger.”  If you can image yourself sitting on a tiger, it becomes clear.  The only thing you could do if you found yourself on a tiger is hold on for dear life.  Unexpected things happen.  Just as being on top of a tiger is unimaginable, so can some of our experiences in life.

The tiger will not allow us to have any control.  I am a control freak and this is probably the hardest thing for me.  The more you struggle to get back in control, the more it bucks and twists.  By struggling for control, you allow the tiger more control.  If you hold on and relax the tiger will slow down eventually.

If you try to give up and jump off, the tiger will attack.  Once you are on the ground, it mauls and tears you apart.  Life can get to the point where you want to give up, but where does that get you?  If you give up and lose hope, you can’t survive till a better day.   Life can be painful and leaves scars.

I have to keep reminding myself that it isn’t the tiger that determines how the ride will end.   Each of us determine our own outcome.  We control our attitudes and actions during crisis.  When things get tough, we have to climb on and “ride the tiger.”

I trust in God that he will see me through, but we don’t know God’s will for us.   The tiger may be part of the plan.  Sometimes, we just need to ride the tiger.

A Good Marriage

After 35 years of marriage, I can’t truly say I know what the textbook definition of a good marriage would be. Somehow I like to think that a good marriage is one that makes both people happy and brings out their best.  My husband and I seem to be polar opposites in many ways, but through a turbulent evolution, we have a relationship that is loving, respectful and honest.

cluttered closet

His closet

My husband could live in a one room shack without water or electricity. Honest!  He doesn’t use a clothes hamper.  He doesn’t use furniture drawers. That isn’t handy!  He wants things where he uses them.  Shoes need to be in front of the sofa because that is where he puts them on.  House shoes by the back door.  Running shoes outside by the door.  You don’t want to know where the running clothes have to go!

I, however, have to have everything put in its place.  A place for everything and everything in its place.  I must admit that a place mat out-of-place used to drive me nuts.  I would organize and clean for days just to start over again.  I could tell you the exact location of anything we owned.  Yes, I know. I was a little obsessive compulsive.

Neat closet

Mine

The first 20 years of our marriage were war.  Our poor kids!  We fought over everything.  Of course everything he did drove me batty.  And the battier I got the crazier he got.  We went to counseling and kept fighting.  We would talk about calling it quits but neither one of us could do that.  You see we loved each other.

Underneath all the fighting, were two people who loved and respected each other.  We now have separate closets, take care of our own things, and agree to disagree on other things. Accepting the differences between you creates a stronger bond.  Acceptance allows honesty and honesty builds trust. I think that is a good marriage.

You Know You

I recently started having headaches that were becoming more frequent and lasting longer than my usual migraines. One night I was relaxing watching TV, playing solitaire on my laptop, and talking on the phone.  (You know women can’t relax if we aren’t multi-tasking.) I noticed some blurriness so I got off the telephone. Pretty soon, I was just listening to the TV since I could no longer see it.  I became alarmed when I had to shut down the laptop because I could no longer see well enough to tell the numbers or suits of the cards.  About all I could see were colors.

At Kennedy Space Center

I know when I have just done too much and need to relax.

I have had migraines since age 15 and have always had some visual signs before the headache started.  This is very typical of a classic migraine.  These headaches were different.  It wasn’t just having to squint to see or blink to refocus.  I just could not see.  It was as if the my glasses had suddenly become clear fake glasses.   I can’t say that it was double vision because I could not see enough to tell if the image was double.  I could feel my left eye pull and droop.  My husband came in and saw it.  He thought I was just very tired.  I didn’t say anything.  I really was so out of it, I wasn’t thinking.  I fell asleep on the couch at 8:00pm and he sent me to bed.

My eyesight very slowly came back over the next week, but my left eye still seemed to twitch and jump.  It felt like I was only looking out of my right eye. And I was still having more frequent headaches.  I knew this wasn’t normal for me so I called my eye doctor.  After a thorough exam, he said he couldn’t see anything in my eyes to explain it.  No sarcoid granulomas or inflammation.  However, my vision had decreased considerably in the left eye and I wasn’t using it for some reason.  So, he wrote me out a prescription for new lenses which just happened to have to be custom-made.

At my next regularly scheduled neurologist appointment, I explained what I had been experiencing.  I had just had an MRI of the brain last year but another one was required.  Two days before vacation we got the news.  I had another lesion in my brain.  The doctor gently explained that this lesion was close to the brain stem but that no sarcoid inflammation was seen.  With no inflammation apparent, he thinks the probable cause is “small stroke activity.” (His words.)

What does this mean?  I have no idea.  More to come on the neurologist recommendations.  If I had not been aware of what was normal for me with migraines and what was unusual, an MRI would not have been scheduled.  I am certainly seen by numerous doctors, but they can only know what I tell them.  Please, be aware of your body and be sure to tell your doctor of any changes that are not normal for you.