The 3 “R’s of Old Age-Raving, Ranting & Regretting

I do not like being an old lady.  There’s not much I can do about it but I don’t like it.  I don’t like it!  I do NOT like it!  If there was someone watching right now I would lay down on the floor, pummel my legs up and down and scream out obscenities which I’m too embarrassed to write down proving I’m an old lady because I was taught that ladies, no matter their age, don’t swear.  Even now, when I can’t be sent to my room, I hesitate to say “hell” or “shit” much less utter worse.  The problem is I don’t even know what current swear words are.  (There’s even a bigger problem if I lay down on the floor.  With no one here to watch  I might not be able to get back up without help.)

The urban slang dictionary didn’t exist until I was well past middle age and I couldn’t even look up cuss words that were creative.  I’m now stuck with the “hells” and “I don’t give a damns” because that’s all I learned.

Let’s talk about wrinkles (it’s easier than the belly fat that has accumulated around my mid-section when even sucking in my stomach it still blubs around like Santa Claus’ bowl full of jelly.  So wrinkles it is.) 

Why would I want wrinkles? . . . to  prove I’m as wise as I have ostensibly become?  Phony baloney, I’v never seen a wrinkled owl.   Rather than look wise it’s easier to look down my elongating nose at people who have plastic surgery, botox or collagen treatments.  If I weren’t scared of pain and had the money I’d get rid of my wrinkles.  Instead, I’m doomed to cultivating a self-righteous attitude about my aging, sagging, bagging body and pretend to embrace how old I am.

I’ve tried political correctness – how wonderful it is to be wise, to have accumulated all this worldly experience and be on social security . . . I’ve tried to embrace aging, smile when people ask me what I do and act like it’s  wonderful to have no career, no purpose, no energy.  I’ve tried wrinkle creams that promise me youth.  I’ve tried laughing at the “old age” cartoons that appear in my in-box and sting in their truths.

Give me the money (and a bottle of numbing vodka – ladies don’t want alcohol breath) and I’ll be on the next surgeon’s schedule to tighten my jowls, pull up my eyelids and get rid of the bags under my eyes . . .  

I’ve even considered moving to another country where old age is supposedly venerated.   But I’m too tired to pack so I live in these here United States where I’m wise enough to know it’s the youth who say it like it is and have the energy to make this world a better place.

Old age – phooey. It’s highly over-rated . . . by the elderly.

A Cautionary Tale

Dance while you’re young

Pierce your tongue

Dye your hair green

Eat fat, not the lean

Don’t give a lick what makes you tick

Eat, drink and be merry

because if you tarry

you’ll soon be too old

all covered with mold

and have to scrap it off with a stick

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Monday with Mae & Me

“When choosing between two evils,

I always like to try the one I’ve never tried before.

Mae West

 

RATS! Hunger, Chronic pain & Me

Penn neuroscientists have found that animals’ brains can suppress feelings of chronic pain when they are hungry.

The study, which was published in the science journal Cell, found that temporarily shutting down chronic pain is part of animals’ survival behaviors when searching for food.

According to a press release, approximately 300 neurons are capable of shifting the brain’s focus to hunger, thus eclipsing the effect of chronic pain.

The researchers apparently didn’t set out expecting that hunger would influence pain sensation so significantly, but when they saw these behaviors unfold, it made sense to them. “If you’re an animal, it doesn’t matter if you have an injury, you need to be able to overcome that in order to go find the nutrients you need to survive.”

The Penn team also discovered that the neurotransmitter NPY is primarily responsible for selectively suppressing pain responses. This research could potentially be applied in humans to ameliorate chronic pain after injuries and serve as an alternative to opioid medications.

Naked Mole Rat sez:  “At your service. We rodents are here to help”.

 

Update on my fractured ankle

 Week 7 – My nudge to budge :

  • Gained 6 pounds from sitting and knitting

  • My belly is swelling while I’m dwelling

  • There’s solace in chewing while I’m stewing

  • Now my left arm is sore. Could there be more?

Fractured Head to Toe

Food for the Heel

In Pain, Need Sympathy

Whine On!

Twenty-eight days since fracturing my ankle (but who’s counting).  I was looking forward to my doctor’s appointment yesterday (“looking forward to a doctor’s appointment” – now, that’s a first for me) thinking I will finally give the orthopedic boot the boot and be frrrrrrreeeeeeee.  Not.  I forgot the ligament was going to take longer to heal than the bone.

  • The good news: The bone is healing, I don’t have to wear the boot to bed, the wrapping is off and can take a shower without my foot sticking out into the room.
  • The mediocre news:  I have to transition from the boot into an ankle brace sloooooooooowly . . .  for a month.
  • The bad news:  My ankle hurts if I walk and pain makes me crabby.

Elixir Fixer by Peggy

This would make a lesser person take to the bottle.  Which reminds me, today is National Wine Day. Read this fascinating post on the benefits of wine which include things I need RIGHT NOW:

  • Anti-aging  (who knew?)
  • Blood thinning (so it no longer boils)
  • Boosts immune system
  • Increases bone density
  • and . . .  6 more benefits (you’ll have to click on the link below to learn how all 10 benefits help you)

Click here: WINE ON!

 

Who knew I’d be a “national symbol”?

I’ve written many posts about my history of fibromyalgia, just not recently.  

My “foot episode” has caused a bit of a fiber flare-up, just in time for National Fibromyalgia/ME Chronic Fatigue day on May 12th.  

Here’s my story and I’m sticking to it:

In 1995 I contracted an invisible “illness”.  Out of nowhere I experienced excruciating burning pain in my hands, arms and legs followed  by years of gastrointestinal, cardiological, dermatological and emotional symptoms.  At the onset I was also in peri-menopause and experiencing mood swings, wildly, uncontrollably ric-o-shaying swings between happy to annoyed – which I’m minimizing for public consumption.

Back then fibromyalgia was not recognized by the medical community as a “real” ailment. Doctors considered it to be a syndrome: Unexplainable, unverifiable and psychosomatic. It was a Hysterical Middle Aged Woman’s Syndrome, as doctor after doctor told me. based on test, after expensive test coming back negative.  I was told nothing was wrong with me and to go home and “Get a life”.DSCN1413

Forever imprinted in my memory is an appointment with the chief of neurology at one of Los Angeles’ major medical schools (the doctor and medical center shall remain nameless because this is a true story)  He reviewed the test findings, looked at me knowingly – as if we shared a secret – and said, “You’re a psychotherapist. You know about psychological issues”.  He leaned forward, compassionately touching me on the knee and winked,  “Go home, live a good life and take up a hobby like kick-boxing.”  The only reason I winked back was to blink away the tears that were threatening to disrupt the façade that I wasn’t a hysterical middle-aged woman.

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I searched for anyone – gynecologists, gastroenterologists, cardiologists, neurologists, rheumatologists, environmental specialists, acupuncturists, immunologists, chiropractors – to name to what I had, to give what was invisible to everyone but myself a label other than HYPOCHONDRIAC.  I looked fine, acted fine, and thousands of dollars of medical tests came back negative.  All I took away from the 100’s of doctor’s visits was a stack of psychiatrist’s cards doctors handed to me on the way out of their office.

After years of  pain, escalating exhaustion, depression, countless doctors and tests I did qualify, on all counts, as a hysterical middle-aged woman .

Well over a decade later fibromyalgia was recognized by the medical community as “real”.  Current research indicates it might be a neuro-inflammatory/auto-immune disease impacting the  central nervous system.  No one knows for certain and there is no current cure.  

I’m no longer middle-aged or hysterical.  

But the doctors were right – it is, all in my head.

 Check out Carolyn Thomas’ My Heart Sisters –“You look great!” – and other things you should never say to heart patients and lots of other great posts about invisible illness.

  • Why, when you tell someone who is ill that they look good, they’re offended?
  • Practical ways you can encourage someone who is ill.

May 12th has been designated as International Awareness Day for Chronic Immunological and Neurological Diseases (CIND). The CIND illnesses include Myalgic Encephalomyelitis (ME), Chronic Fatigue Syndrome (CFS), Fibromyalgia (FM), Gulf War Syndrome (GWS) and Multiple Chemical Sensitivity (MCS).

May 12th was chosen as it is the birthday of Florence Nightingale. She was believed to have suffered from ME/CFS.

This is National Invisible Illness Awareness Week

P.S.  There are hundreds of millions of people with “Invisible Illness” in this world.  Click above to  read more information.  

Meet My Foot Feat, day 4

It’s only DAY 3 of my “convalescence” and the thought of spending most of my time sitting with my foot up for 3 WEEKS is __________.  Fill in the blank and it’s probably close to the mark.

So far I’ve worked on CATNIPblog posts, worked on Peggy & my Happiness project, started reading a new book and watched far too much TV.  My “rear-end” is already beginning to hurt as much as my foot.

I have more time on my hands (and feet) than ever yet have less focus than ever.  Looking for something creative to add to my sit-down-activities I decided to finish pages (upon pages) I started years ago in my many journals.  

judy’s journal, collage, acrylic, marking pens

Today I picked a page that required no thought, just schmearing a bit of paint with my finger and doodling with marking pens.  I have no clue why I wrote the fishy-poem I remember from childhood on the page.

Fishy fishy in a brook

Papa catch ’em with a hook

Mama fry ’em in a pan

Baby eat ’em like a man

Need to catch up? Here’s what happened to me:

In pain, Need Sympathy

Food for the HEEL

 

 

 

 

In pain, need sympathy

A stroll was my goal

Stepped in a hole

Spring, sprung, sprankle

twisted my ankle

It’s a painful thing

Put my foot in a sling

Can still squawk 

but it’s hard to walk

Read What the doctor said here

How to get the most from your hot soak

Here is the follow-up to 

research on lowering blood pressure, helping dementia and brain trauma with hot baths

 “A hot bath is the original hydrotherapy — water treatment — and still the best. Immersion, buoyancy, heat, and vibration (if you’ve got jets) all have useful biological and sensory effects, many of which are useful to people with injuries, pain, anxiety, depression, and more”.

Bath Buddies

1. Don’t make it too hot. Hot baths are a soothing escape, but too much heat will stimulate the nervous system. While you may feel tired ,you are not as relaxed and  may not be able to sleep for a while.
2. Cool your head–or feet. Sticking your feet out of the bath lets off some excess heat, while keeping the benefits of a raised body temperature. You can also pour cool water on yourself . This will help you to feel better after the bath.
3. Do some self massage in the bath.  
4. Stretch in the bath. The warmth decreases muscle tone, flexibility is increased and the buoyancy makes me stretches easier. 
5. Drink water-you will sweat in a hot bath (which helps eliminate waste from the body). Drink before and after. Being dehydrated can make you grumpy.
6. Baths are a great treatment for muscle soreness. The heat gets in much deeper than using a heating pad/pack. They are especially good for low back pain. Most low back pain is muscular, especially “knots” in muscles, which a hot bath can ease.
7. Try deep breathing-it may increase your relaxation. Not slow breathing but deep and strong.

Source: https://www.painscience.com/articles/bathing.php

Click here for the research on lowering blood pressure, helping dementia and brain trauma with hot baths

SaveSave

SaveSave

I have Sickness Behavior

Been curled up in a fetal position for 14 days (but who’s counting?)  My cold has traveled south  (undoubtedly looking for warmth) into my bronchials.  I don’t want to talk to anyone, see anyone, do anything and my guilty pleasures are no longer pleasurable.  The ever-present fibromyalgia fatigue has morphed into exhaustion and if I had the energy I’d invest in stock in Puff’s-plus-lotion-tissues stock options.

Bob the Blobfish sez: “If she thinks she’s got problems try being me with a cold . . .”

BUT Glory be! I’m not being a wimp!!!!  “Those feelings are a real thing called “sickness behavior,” which is sparked by the body’s response to infection. The same chemicals that tell the immune system to rush in and fend off invading viruses also tell us to slow down; skip the eating, drinking and sex; shun social interactions; and rest.”

“Those messages are so powerful they can’t be ignored,” says Philip Chen, a rhinologist at the University of Texas, San Antonio. But that doesn’t mean we don’t try. Symptoms like a stuffy nose are obvious, Chen notes, but we’re less aware that changes in mood and behavior are also part of our bodies’ natural response to infection.”

“There is plenty of evidence that having a cold impairs moodalertness and working memory and that brain performance falls off with even minor symptoms.”

“Excuses, excuses . . . “

Frankly Freddie – Halloween Orange Alert

To all Human-beings:  It’s time for my Halloween ORANGE-ALERT.

 This Halloween

Don’t be mean!

Don’t you dare

make others stare

Dressing up

your precious pup

Please be fair!

just let us wear

our own hair.

Example of suspicious clothing

 To All my Canine Cousins:

Be on the look-out for your human coming back from the store with suspicious articles of clothing and paraphernalia that is NOT THEIR color, style or size.  If they start sweet-talking you or offering you treats RUN for your life & HIDE.

Example of humiliation.

No matter how many times I HAVE TOLD HUMANS not to humiliate us because they want to be amused it happens every year.  I prefer to think that Humans just aren’t very smart and have no memory retention beyond a few hours rather than the possibility they are simply insensitive creatures with no regard for our feelings.

Frankly,

Freddie Parker Westerfield, PIC&C

Protector of Innocent Creatures & Critters

“When the waters rise, so do our better angels.”*

“Get busy helping someone else and see — over time — the things you might have in common, instead of only the things that might divide you.”

“Remember what can happen when we love our neighbors as ourselves. There are storms that bring us together and storms that divide us. We have a chance now to choose. Harvey already has reminded us what we’re capable of, when we come together.”

Angelic Meowie from CATNIPblog

“The recovery ahead will be long. Our neighbors need to know they can count on us. The families affected will need our help and our attention as the work of rebuilding unfolds. If we hold our focus on the important matters at hand, we can use the power of the people to create that world we all know exists — if we will simply give it life.”  

*Jimmy Carter

Read entire article by Jimmy Carter, the 39th President of the United States.

Everything in life ministers to our development. Our lesson is to study and learn… Tests are either stumbling blocks or stepping-stones, just as we make them.

Abdu’l-Baha, The Baha’i World Faith

21 ways to keep your sanity for the holidays

 Only  15 days till Chanukah!    15 days till Christmas!  22 days till New Year’s!  Time for my yearly reminder on how to keep sane.

Christmas:

  1. Instead of buying  a tree watch your friends decorate (and take down) theirs
  2. Convert to Judaism
  3. Sit in the lobby of a 5-star hotel and enjoy EXPENSIVE decorations.
  4. ADOPT a pig, instead of eating one.
  5. Make dinner potluck, you supply the paper plates and plastic cutlery
  6. Christmas dinner – Start with dessert and forget the rest.
  7. Sit on the beach in Bali.

8.  Go to bed on the 23rd and get up on January 3rd.*

9.  Only buy presents for Jesus.

10. Put a cover on the outside chimney opening so you don’t have to put out cookies and milk.

Chanukah:

11. Watch your friends decorate (and take down) their Christmas tree.

12. Convert.

13. Stay in a 5-star hotel for 8 days and nights.

14. Use credit cards instead of gelt

15. Instead of gambling with a dreidle at home go to Vegas

16. Don’t give presents, do good deeds

17. Go to bed on Thanksgiving and wake up on New Years**

18. Bake potatoes instead of grating them to death

19. Eat macaroons with Ben & Jerry

New Years:

20. *Remember! Stay in bed until the 3rd, unless you’re Jewish.

21. **If you are Jewish, go back to bed.

 

Peace on Earth & Sanity to all my Friends!

Dizzy blond and I ain’t even blond

Friday: Spent all day and evening in the ER.  I was EXTREMELY light-heading, threw up, missed my art class and spent 24 hours in bed thinking I’d feel fine in the morning . . . WRONG.  

Saturday: In the morning the  room was moving and I wasn’t. Every time I moved I threw up and there was nothing to throw-up since I hadn’t eaten anything (You have probably created a nasty picture in your mind . . .  just make it even nastier).  

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Pencil sketch

The ER was even more fun.  Throwing up,  drawing blood, 2 CT scans (to make sure it wasn’t a stroke . . . it wasn’t) and finally, after 4 different anti-nausea medications and drips, I stopped throwing up. 

Sunday: I’m still dizzy and have to hold on to things to walk (it’s a bit wonky to type) but the good news, the GREAT news, is I’ve not thrown up.  The bad news is I’m still dizzy . . .  and  grey-haired.

"Such drama . ."

“If she thinks walking is hard she should try swinging from trees . .”

To my friends and acquaintances who suffer with Ménière’s disease. . . I have new compassion for you!

P.S.  For those of you I confused . .  I don’t have Menieres just plain Ditzy.

 

 

 

Laughter is the best medicine

The weather is changing

my body rearranging

Help! I’m in a fibro flare

Everything hurts

including my hair.

Sharon Bonin Pratt is a writer, an artist and a dear friend.  I think she also is psychic.  I’ve been not feeling great and the subject of her last post was just what I needed.  AND it’s dedicated to ME!!!!  What an honor!

Shari inspired me to look for a smile (SEE THE VIDEO).  

Here’s a sample from Sharon Bonin Pratt’s Ink Flare:

“Who can laugh without relaxing? Isn’t that why some of us (not me of course, and certainly not you, but other unnamed folks) pee their pants when laughing raucously? Losing all control is not a bad thing, even if you must change your whitie-dities, because when you’re having that much fun – who cares about all the rest? Oh, and it’s contagious! In a good way, not like the flu, but like having enough cup cakes for everyone in the world. So now I not only feel good inside my own world weary bod – I feel good because everyone around me also feels good. Motto for today: Spread cheer – laugh out loud.”

Read her entire post –  Sharon Bonin Pratt’s Ink Flare

The HeART of Spirituality – Journey from Dark to Light

The theme for July is “Journey”.  Held a special 4 hour – yes, count ’em FOUR hours of creative energy – workshop yesterday.  The participants focused on a painful experience, what strengths they developed as a result of the pain and how God’s love or “the universe’s grace” touched them.  

People could share as much or as little as they chose.  It was a wonderful group of women.  (All you men, where are you?!!!!)

Take a look at a sample of wonderful paintings and mini-journals the participants created yesterday!

To see all the paintings and journal pages click HERE!

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Process painting, Journey from Dark to Light

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“Everything in life ministers to our development. Our lesson is to study and learn… Tests are either stumbling blocks or stepping stones, just as we make them.” Abdu’l-Baha, The Baha’i World Faith

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Mini journal – 2- page spread

Sneek a Peek into my sketchy life – nudes and buts

Sorry, I’ve been blogged-out for so long.  I know, I know, yet another sorry-I’ve-been-gone-for-so-long-post.  

BUT I decided today is a brand new beginning.  “BUT” literally and figuratively.  (For those of you who are squeamish scroll down to the nude part because I begin with the BUTT . . .  mine to be exact.)  

Just had a colonoscopy. The bad news – I didn’t have a very good day yesterday.  The good news – I lost 4 pounds.  The bad news – I have wasted today sleeping.  The good news – I don’t remember a thing.  

Now that I’m squeaky clean it’s time for a new start – Going to go back to cutting out (maybe down) on refined sugar & carbs and cutting up on the internet.

Here’s my latest sketches.  I start with my favorite:

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10 minute charcoal sketch

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20 minute charcoal sketch

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10 minute charcoal sketch

Adding insult to injury

I woke this morning feeling like a truck hit me, threw me onto the train tracks where I was run over by a locomotive.

AND lo and behold . . .

. . .  today is National Fibromyalgia Day.  I’m in no mood to celebrate but the Fibro-Fiends that dwell inside me are having a ball!

I’m too tired to write an entirely new post to post on this post so I’ll just post part of a post of a post that I posted sometime ago.  . . . .

Judy's Journal, Mixed Media, Collage

judy’s journal, collage

“I look normalI act normal (relatively normal).  However, I feel exhausted much of the time, my body aches from head to toe and my brain sometimes has trouble remembering or concentrating.  Please don’t tell me to exercise more, eat better, try acupuncture or go to a new doctor.  After 20 years I’ve tried just about everything there is to try that I can afford, swallow or legally do.”

“I don’t even care anymore what you call itFibromyalgia, Chronic Fatigue, malingering . . . it’s just tiring being tired much of the time.  I push through it otherwise I’d have no life.  But the price for pushing can be days of crashing so I pick and choose my commitments.”

There’s a free on-line Fibromyalgia Summit.  If you’re interested in hearing the presentations click here: http://www.healthrising.org/blog/2016/05/11/three-days-may-fibromyalgia-summit-almost/

________________________________

Confidential:  Send me your prayers because tomorrow I’m leaving for an Unitarian Woman’s Retreat where I’m facilitating 2 workshops.  (I am not planning on taking my Fibro-Fiends with me.  Please don’t tell anyone because if the Fiends get wind I want to leave them home they will be angry . . . very angrrrrrrrrry . . .)

Children’s art – the invisible made visible

“Syrian kids who passed through Milan’s Central Station last year did something very Italian: create artwork. While they waited for trains to take them to northern Europe, Save the Children offered them a chance to draw. They could depict whatever they wanted, says psychologist Vittoria Ardino, president of the Italian Society for the Study of Traumatic Stress, who analyzed 500 of these images.”

Scroll down to last drawing to read one of Ardino’s reflections on the drawings.

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“Love and compassion are necessities, not luxuries. 
Without them, humanity cannot survive.”

H.H. The 14th Dalai Lama

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“God has created the world as one—the boundaries are marked out by man.”

‘Abdu’l-Baha, The Baha’i World Faith

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“I appeal to you, brothers, by the name of our Lord Jesus Christ, that all of you agree, and that there be no divisions among you, but that you be united in the same mind and the same judgment.”

1 Corinthians 1:10

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“However many holy words you read, however many you speak, what good will they do you

If you do not act on upon them?”

Buddha

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Here’s one of  Vittoria Ardino’s reflections on these drawings:

“There’s so much happening on this piece of paper — which is maybe a reflection of the child’s chaotic inner world, Ardino says. A flying creature is part butterfly, a common symbol of freedom. But it’s also part gun. A plane dropping bombs is covered by a face that’s half-human and half-fish (or actually, a big fish devouring a smaller one). A flower droops over a series of squiggles, which Ardino believes represent human bodies. All of that points to a child feeling powerless — but “trying desperately to find light,” Ardino adds. The face is surrounded by sun, and an oversized ladder or staircase leads away from the houses. Ardino suggests this is the child’s attempt at answering a critical question: “How can I escape?”‘

Click here to read Ardino’s reflections on all 7 drawings.

 

Hacker Appreciation pome

In my life time I’ve been whacked

I’ve been blindsided

and been sacked

Now I’m included

 in the pantheon of the hacked

So if you are my hacker

please know I AM pleased

you used a younger picture of me

as a tease.

IACH Board having fun

"More proof she's losing it . . ."

 “More proof she’s losing it . . .”

I may have helped save a life today

Thanks to Carolyn Thomas and her excellent blog Heart Sisters I recognized a heart attack in progress.

In my writing class this morning the woman next to me got up unexpectedly and left.  On return she said threw up in the bathroom.  A few minutes later she said she didn’t feel good, hot and sweaty, and thought she should go home.  Something told me to ask her if she had chest pain.  

I interrupted the teacher and privately told him she had heart attack symptoms. He immediately had the facility call 911.  

P1010944

The woman kept repeating she was ok, in great health, played tennis 4 times a week, no history of heart disease in the family, ate well and would be fine.  Even after the paramedics came she kept questioning whether she needed to go to the hospital.

Because I’ve followed Carolyn’s blog I know common symptoms for women having a heart attack:

Women often have different symptoms of a heart attack than men and may report serious symptoms even before having a heart attack, although the signs are not ‘typical’ heart attack symptoms. These include:”

  • neck, throat, shoulder, upper back, or abdominal discomfort
  • shortness of breath
  • nausea or vomiting
  • sweating
  • anxiety or “a sense of impending doom”
  • light-headedness or dizziness
  • unusual fatigue for several days

This woman had three symptoms PLUS, by the time the paramedics arrived, pain radiated to her jaw.

I insisted she go to the hospital and she could blame me if everything was ok.

Everything was not ok.

Click & Read this: Words matter when we describe our heart attack symptoms

 

 

Parrot this! (mimic mindlessly)

“Fear is just excitement in need of an attitude adjustment”

~ in a very wise fortune cookie

Polly the Parrot sez:
Polly the Parrot sez: “Polly wanna fortune cookie!”

“I don’t want to talk about it”

I should go out in the garden and eat worms.  I’m exhausted.  I hurt all over.   It’s hard not to have self-pity.   I TRY to limit my public and private kvetching because I know it doesn’t help . . . me or you.  There’s scientific basis for the harm we do to ourselves when we talk about trauma – any kind of trauma. 

Acrylic on Canvas, by moi

Acrylic on Canvas, by moi

 If you or anyone you know has a “story of pain” (physical, psychological, social, economic etc) read Carolyn Thomas’ My Heart Sisters excellent post.  Here’s a teeny taste:

Rehashing a traumatic story/event does some of the following:

  • puts our system on high alert
  • triggers inflammation
  • triggers the fight/flight response
  • triggers shutdown mode

On the flip side Carolyn talks about the benefits of sharing with close friends:

“Dr. Laura Cousin Klein and her team found that the credit for women’s unique stress reactions may belong to the hormone oxytocin (also known as the “lovehormone”).  It’s the body’s own wonder drug – released when we nurse our babies, for example, as well as during a woman’s stress response. It’s instinctual, it buffers the fight-or-flight response and it encourages us to tend children and gather with other women instead – what’s called our tend-and-befriend response to stress.  This calming response does not occur in men, says Dr. Klein, because testosterone—which men produce in high levels when they’re under stress—seems to reduce the effects of oxytocin. Estrogen, she adds, seems to enhance it.”

Read the entire post “I don’t want to talk about it“- a Judy’s-Must-Read-Blog-Post.

Not on my bucket list, never on my bucket list, but if it were I now check it off

Google Maps Now Lets You Scale Yosemite’s El Capitan Mountain

 by  

“. . . Google Maps users can use Street View for a first-person climb on both the The Nose and a portion of the Dawn Wall routes for scaling El Cap.”

The advantage of Google’s Street View mountaineering is that you don’t actually have to risk anything to do it, except maybe a static shock from your mouse depending on if you’ve been shuffling your feet around on carpeting.”

” . . . Alex Honnold, Lynn Hill and Tommy Caldwell performed the climb used to capture the imagery . . . “

http://techcrunch.com/2015/06/24/google-maps-now-lets-you-scale-yosemites-el-capitan-mountain/

 

My Motto: Don’t call me. I won’t call you.

I never answer my phone.  I call people back when I have energy or e-mail because two-way phone conversations are physically tiring.  Crazy! . . . sounds crazy, even to me.  So I assume it sounds crazy to you.  

Not wanting to be labeled as “nuts” I usually explain  that after 30 years as a psychotherapist, answering my phone knowing that someone is probably calling in crisis, I’ve become phone-phobic.  

You understand phobia’s and their hallmark of being irrational.  You don’t understand neuroimmune-central nervous system-out-of-wack.  Can’t fault you.  I don’t understand it.  Medical science doesn’t understand it.   

Normal stimuli overload my brain circuits and the brains of others who live with Fibromyalgia, Chronic Fatigue, Lyme disease, Multiple Chemical Sensitivity, brain trauma etc.  There are a lot of theories but no one really knows why or what to do about it. 

Acrylic on Canvas, by moi

Acrylic on Canvas, by moi

Even though I’m a social person by nature all socializing tires me. One or two “events” a week is my limit.  Social Events?  You are undoubtedly picturing me out-on-the-town, wearing a Dior gown and sipping wine at the opera ( . . .  those who know me are picturing me wearing a t-shirt, Levi’s, Crocs and sipping coffee at Starbucks).

Activities that once were pleasurable now create fatigue:

  • Going to the movies or lunch with a friend (afterwards I nap for 3 hours)
  • Participating in any group activity (afterwards I go to bed early)
  • Walking Freddie in the park.  (I go the opposite direction when I see others walking their dogs.  Walking is taxing enough without interacting with dogs’ humans.)
  • Shopping in stores crowded with merchandise.  (My brain goes on visual overload)
  • Talking on the phone to someone I love.  (Yup, two-way conversations take focus and thus energy.) 

Since retiring I’ve done phone sessions with clients.  The pleasure of hearing their voices, catching up on their lives and the honor of hopefully helping them get back on track far outweigh any fatigue that comes later.  I’ve long ago figured out that some things are well worth the consequences of a nap or a few days of inactivity. 

Please continue to reach out. I will be honest with you about my options and energy.  I don’t want to live as a social recluse.  So E-mail me when you want to catch up, share, or get together because I won’t answer the phone . . .  

Hammy Hamster sez: "Nuts?, Did I hear NUTS!)

Hammy Hamster sez:
“Nuts?, Did I hear NUTS!)

This article prompted me to write this post: Cort Johnson, Social Exhaustion The comments are perhaps even more telling than the article itself.

READ THIS! – There is hope.

This fascinating article helps me understand the Baha’i principle – The “greater good” outweighs the “lesser good”.   I do know that good things are born out of suffering and sacrifice but I must remind myself that this world isn’t instant cup-a-soup.  

Below are some excerpts  

judy journal page - collage

judy journal page – collage

How The World’s Largest Refugee Camp Remade A Generation Of Somalis

“The world’s largest refugee camp is also a giant social experiment.”

“Take hundreds of thousands of Somalis fleeing a war. Shelter them for 24 years in a camp in Kenya run by the United Nations. And offer different opportunities than they might have had if they’d stayed in Somalia.”

‘”Probably the most interesting and misunderstood thing about Dadaab is that the refugee camp has had a kind of liberalizing influence,” says Ban Rawlence.”

“They are a ready-made middle class,” Rawlence says. “Educated Somalis who are ready and waiting to move into Somalia to rebuild the country.”‘

“The Kenyan government wants the experiment to end, soon. It’s pushing the refugees to return to their home in Somalia, though the camp called Dadaab is the only home many have known.”

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“Habiba Abdurahman fled the war in Somalia when she was six, with her mother and sisters. She had lived in a village where girls rarely went to school. Suddenly she was in a camp where international organizations offered free tutoring for girls to catch up academically. In her village, female genital mutilation was common. In the camp FGM was not only illegal but there were constant messages against it.”

“At 27 Abdurahman was elected a camp chairwoman, under election rules designed to promote gender equality. Last year she went back to Somalia on a U.N.-sponsored “look and see” trip to the liberated city of Kismayo. The trip was meant to assure refugees that parts of Somalia were finally safe enough to return to. But what she saw shocked her.”

“What kind of person would she be if she’d grown up there instead of here in the camp?”

Click here to read the entire article: 

How The World’s Largest Refugee Camp Remade A Generation Of Somalis

by GREGORY WARNER

 

 

Sneek Peek into my journal – Loosely Sparking

Sometimes wanting to be “perfect” stops me from finishing projects.  I’m now too tired to strive for perfection.   I figure it’s time to experiment and remove expectation to get my “spark” back.

I’m comfortable abstractly sloshing paint color around but “drawing” is another matter.  Put a pencil or pen in my hand and I tighten both my grip and expectation.

With that in mind, I purposely held the pencil very loosely and literally scribbled “areas” rather than try to draw perfect lines.  I didn’t bother trying to copy anything, look at any references, decide where the light was coming from or have a plan.  I just scribbled.   I like the looseness of the drawing and taking away expectation of being precise was enjoyable.

Maybe this is a good lesson to apply to other areas of my life . . .

DSCN6281

judy’s journal – Scribbled and scratched in the face with pencil and pastel chalk

Who said life was fair?

Alas, fair maiden

bereft of  biting remarks

all your teeth are gone

*     *     *

a judy doodle

a judy doodle

Alas, fair maiden

your ears continue to grow

as your stature shrinks

*     *     *

Alas, fair maiden

eat chocolate, drink wine, love, laugh

life is pretty good

*     *     *

Bob Blobfish sez: ". . .  no comment  . . "

Bob Blobfish sez: “. . . who needs teeth?  . . “

Haiku Horizons - prompt FAIR

Haiku Horizons – prompt FAIR

 

 

Everyone has a story

Don’t let the cartoons throw you off – this is a real life interview and worth every minute of your time (watch all the way to the end).

“Kay Wang was a strong-willed grandmother who was reluctantly taken to a StoryCorps* booth by her son and granddaughter. Though Kay resisted, she still had stories to tell—from disobeying her mother and rebuffing suitors while growing up in China to late-life adventures as a detective for Bloomingdale’s department store.”

“Kay passed away just weeks after that interview, and her son and granddaughter returned to StoryCorps to remember her gentler side, which she kept to herself.”

“Since 2003, StoryCorps has collected and archived more than 50,000 interviews with over 90,000 participants. Each conversation is recorded on a CD to share, and is preserved at the American Folklife Center at the Library of Congress. StoryCorps is one of the largest oral history projects of its kind . . . “

You can donate to this incredible project and find out where recordings are made, click here for the StoryCorps website.

“F” is for Fire and Fate

When two disparate elements come together – it’s Fate!  Haiku Horizon‘s “Fire” prompt meets the A to Z Challenge letter “F”!!!!!!

Fire in my belly

A surge of motivation?

 More likely it’s gas

"She's an embarasment to all primates"

“She’s an embarrassment to all primates”

Haiku Horizons - prompt FIRE

Haiku Horizons – prompt FIRE

What’s your biggest regret?

When I regret something I’ve done (or haven’t done) it’s a signal that I’ve not learned from my choice.  I believe that making mistakes, taking wrong turns is ultimately about learning and growing and not repeating what didn’t work.

Photographer Alecsandra Raluca Dragoi took pictures of people from all over the world sharing their greatest regrets. She captured a range of emotions—humor, heartbreak, and guilt.  It would be fascinating to talk to these same people in 10 years to see if they’ve learned from what they now regret.

Anyone can contribute to the ongoing project by taking a photo to share. Participants can send the image to the artist via a Facebook message. Dragoi references an anonymous quote as inspiration to those who wish to take part:

“If we spend our time with regrets over yesterday, and worries over what might happen tomorrow, we have no today in which to live.”

To see Alecsandra Dragoi’s site and many more photos click here.

slide_411084_5176578_free slide_411084_5176548_free slide_411084_5176562_free slide_411084_5176540_free o-PHO-900

Sneak a Peek into My Journal – Looking for a spark

It’s been a rough several months.  I suspect that in order to flee all the snow in the Eastern United States my “Fibro-Fiend” needed a bit of sunshine so dropped in for a visit.  It’s been sunny and warm here and she just won’t leave.  

She’s a demanding house-guest and almost all my energy is spent focusing on her needs.   She doesn’t have a very good sense of humor either and I have to find ways to amuse myself.  I’ve not had the energy to participate in Year of the Spark so I revisited some old, EASY Carla Sonheim exercises looking for some spark.

Click here – Irritated Birds – to see how I made the birdies.

Put a beak on it!

Put a beak on it!

Blob Critters  (they don’t have names yet)

  • Made a blob of color using water-color
  • Found critters in the blobs
  • Drew a bit

Blob critters

Blob critters

That’s all folks.  Gotta go feed Fibro-Fiend. 

 

Post-Traumatic GROWTH?

Skimming my surface

tell-tale signs of suffering

The pain buried deep

My haiku was inspired by Carolyn Thomas’ Post-Traumatic Growth: how a crisis makes life better – or not.  Carolyn had a myocardial infarction – the “widowmaker” heart attack.  Since that life altering experience she has been overwhelmingly affected by the ongoing pain of coronary microvascular disease.

Mask by moi

Mask by moi

Until I read Carolyn’s excellent post I had never heard of Post Traumatic GROWTH:

“Post-Traumatic Growth is the experience of positive change that occurs as a result of the struggle with highly challenging life crises.

“Although the term is new, the idea that great good can come from great suffering is ancient.”

“Reports of Post-Traumatic Growth have been found in people who have experienced bereavement, rheumatoid arthritis, HIV infection, cancer, bone marrow transplantation, heart attacks, coping with the medical problems of children, transportation accidents, house fires, sexual assault and sexual abuse, combat, refugee experiences, and being taken hostage.” 

Read this informative and thought-provoking post and Carolyn’s concern for patients & people regarding this concept.  Click HERE

My Birthday Season . . . I’m still 70

Received this birthday “reminder” from my friend Sharon, who, yes even after receiving this, I still call my friend.

Questions and Answers from CARP Forum

Q: Where can single men over the age of 70 find younger women who are interested in them?

A: Try a bookstore, under Fiction.

Q: What can a man do while his wife is going through menopause?

A: Keep busy. If you’re handy with tools, you can finish the basement. When you’re done, you will have a place to live.

Q: Someone has told me that menopause is mentioned in the bible… Is that true?
Where can it be found?

A: Yes. Matthew 14:92:
“And Mary rode Joseph’s ass all the way to Egypt…”

Q: How can you increase the heart rate of your over-70 year-old husband?

A: Tell him you’re pregnant.

Q: How can you avoid that terrible curse of the elderly wrinkles?

A: Take off your glasses.

Q: Seriously! What can I do for these crow’s feet and all those wrinkles on my face?

A: Go braless. It will usually pull them out..

Q: Why should 70-plus year old people use valet parking?

A: Valets don’t forget where they park your car.

Q: Is it common for 70-plus year olds to have problems with short term memory storage?

A: Storing memory is not a problem, Retrieving it is the problem.

Q: As people age, do they sleep more soundly?

A: Yes, but usually in the afternoon.

Q: Where should 70-plus year olds look for eye glasses?

A: On their foreheads.

Q: What is the most common remark made by 70-plus year olds when they enter antique stores?

A: “Gosh, I remember these!”

 

Ebola Revitalizing a Country?

I am sustained by my Baha’i belief that pain, suffering – any type of crisis – is an opportunity for learning, changing and growing.  My professionally and personal experience backs my belief as I know, without a doubt, that pleasure, ease and happiness do not promote growth.  

Don’t get me wrong, I certainly don’t seek out pain and suffering but when it happens to me or in the world I do look for the good that can evolve.  

Acrylic on Canvas, by moi

Pain, Acrylic on Canvas, by moi

When I read this interview with the Liberian President Ellen Johnson-Sirleaf Ebola Revitalized her Downtrodden Country it was an example of what I believe is possible in the world.

Here’s an excerpt – The entire interview is worth a quick read:

“Do you think the image of Liberia has changed through this [Ebola crisis]?

“Yes, I think it has. We were the poster child of everything that could go wrong: disaster, death, destruction all over the place. We too, as a result of Ebola, had a re-energizing of ourselves. We saw a new opportunity to turn this crisis into something that will be good for the country. And it’s not just the leadership, It’s also the people in the communities. They were the victims but they became the victors because they were the ones who took responsibility. They all had a role to play. And because of that, we see this as a new resurgence. Our success, we think, has been heralded. If you look at the predictions that we faced in October, I mean, by the end of January there will be 1.4 million people dead. That was a wake-up call for us, a call to action. Our people rose to that.”

 

 

Stop Bleeding

Long after the original dagger has been wiped clean of blood, wounds of failure, loneliness and rejection often never heal.  We learn to cover them up with smiles and long sleeves to keep them hidden from view.

Emotional wounds lie on the surface. They get bumped, scrapped and ripped opened over and over throughout our lives. We habituate to our emotional pain and don’t look for help until our body starts talking to us through physical symptoms.

Many of you who know me well know I often speak in “hyperbole”.  All of you know I’m not now exaggerating.  Watch this excellent TedTalk.

“We’ll go to the doctor when we feel flu-ish or a nagging pain. So why don’t we see a health professional when we feel emotional pain: guilt, loss, loneliness? Too many of us deal with common psychological-health issues on our own, says Guy Winch. But we don’t have to. He makes a compelling case to practice emotional hygiene — taking care of our emotions, our minds, with the same diligence we take care of our bodies.”

This is NOT a Kiss ‘n Tell moment. It’s not even Kiss ‘n Talk

How can you not admire people who are clear about what their priorities are . . . Ya gotta watch this to the end of the video! (I hope “green guy” has a sense of humor)

Thanks Sharon for the laugh!

Happiness – how our remembering self hijacks our experiencing self

I tend to live in the present moment – not because I am centered nor have I perfected mindfulness.  It’s because I  have a very lousy long-term memory.   You can tell me the same joke over and over and I’ll laugh every time because I never remember the punch line.  I don’t remember having already seen a movie or read a book until I get to the end.  Details of my life elude me.  Turns out I’m blessed by a forgetful remembering-self.

LISTEN to this!!!!!!!! –  How we determine what is a painful experience or a pleasurable one; How we create the story of our life.

The ability to look forward . . . and behind – An unexpected encounter

Owls can rotate their heads and necks as much as 270 degrees  “. . .  owls have backup arteries, which offer a fresh supply of nutrients when blood vessels get closed off by rapid turning.

Their arteries also swell to collect any excess blood created in the process.”  National Geographic

imagesI bought paint today for the bedroom – grey paint, Grey Owl, the name on the paint chip.  A quick trip to the paint store.  “I like how you smile.  I just told my last customer that I like to see smiles.  I always say the first wrinkles I get will be right here”, she swipes her fingers around her mouth,  “from smiling,” the clerk behind the counter looks at me straight in the eye.  “I like how you smile”.

Maybe from 30 years of being a therapist, a scent people pick up just like Freddie my dog picks up with his nose –  scents that I can’t, don’t detect.  I watch her ring up my paint purchase.  

“I just have a happy disposition.  They say I’m like my mother. Always laughing.  If my Mother saw someone trip and fall out there” – she looks outside through the plate-glass window – “she would laugh and laugh. But people never know what you feel inside, people never know if you have just been in your car, crying.  People can’t see the sadness or pain inside.  You can swipe your credit card now”, she takes a breath, “My mother died when I was 4 years old.  I wasn’t allowed in the hospital.  Maybe my brothers got to see her, got to say goodbye.  I never saw her. I never said goodbye.  I have two boys and a girl.  My little girl always wants to be with me.  I try to imagine what it was like for my Mother.”

I say something rather innocuous struck by how beautiful – smooth skin, clear, dark kinky hair, color streaked, pulled tightly back in a careless knot, bright red lipstick.  Turning, gesturing, looking up, looking down at the computer she doesn’t stop moving, trapped behind the counter. She speaks fast, effortlessly, her words softened with Spanish sounding consonants. “My aunt raised me but I’ve never felt like a daughter.  I never felt loved. My aunt already had 6 children but she told my Mom she would take care of me.  My mother never told anyone she was dying.  She didn’t want anyone to worry.  I talk to my Mother.  I tell her when I’m angry. I want to give you a hug.” an effortless, tight hug separated by a counter.  She picks up the ringing phone and motions me to get my paint.

Two gallons, one in each hand. They’re heavy, the wire handles digging painfully into my palms. She smiles and nods in my direction, still on the phone, as I walk out the automatic doors.

Grey Owl paint on the bedroom wall.  Surrounded by the stark white molding it looks fresh and soothing .  I’ll smile at the Grey Owl walls when I wake in the morning, a smile for the young woman in the paint store and her mother.  

OwlMeaningOwlSymbolism“In ancient Egyptian, Celtic, and Hindu cultures the symbolic meaning of owl revolved around guardianship of the underworlds, and a protection of the dead.”

“The owl was honored as the keeper of spirits who had passed from one plane to another. Often myth indicates the owl accompanying a spirit to the underworld – winging its newly freed soul from the physical world into the realm of spirit.” animal-symbolism

Remember the Ice Bucket Challenge? Find out how it started

Meet the mom who started the Ice Bucket Challenge – Great speaker!  Inspiring!

“When Nancy Frates’ 29-year-old son Pete hurt his wrist in a baseball game, he got an unexpected diagnosis: it wasn’t a broken bone, it was ALS, and there is no cure. In this inspiring talk, Nancy tells the story of what happened next.”

How to shed 160 pounds a year . . . or less

Moderation is NOT my middle name. October did me in I started celebrating Halloween early and haven’t stopped.  Am I trying to hoist myself back on to my sugar shun track?  Yup.  Listen to this!  Astounding!

Thanks Ida for tuning me into Nutrition Facts

Here’s my original post that helped me eliminate refined sugar for an entire month – 8 Steps to Kick Sugar Cravings to the Curb – Ouch!

 

Am I Whining? you bet!

“Thou Shalt Not Whine”  is a hand embroidered sign in my office that was given to me by my good friend Sharon.

DSCN6093

I do try to live up to that motto but today I am whiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiining.   I have a headache, my body aches all over, my feet are burning, my brain is fogged and the only energy I had was depleted by the effort it took me to get in bed and take a nap*.  Whaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaa!  Woe is me! Oh! woe is me!

"I'm not lissssssstening"

“I’m not lissssssstening”

Like all (or many) of us living with chronic conditions the key is life-style management to keep the symptoms at a low simmer instead of a rolling boil.  In the last several decades I’ve perfected life-style management:

judy’s Life-Style Management 

Overdo it quick

take advantage of the lull

then crash, moan and groan.

Whimper quietly

when no one is listening

It’s free therapy

1024px-Crying-girl

Did whining make me feel better?  Nope.  But it’s nice to know that even if I’m not feeling well

 my inner child is alive and kicking.

 *You don’t have to wash your hands after reading this post.  I’m not contagious.  It’s just fibromyalgia letting me know who’s in charge.

Sugar Shun – Swimming towards Pie (parenthetically, mathematically and metaphorically speaking)

True confessions:  I’m addicted to sugar and Stefan Bucher.  Stefan draws,  actually, Stefan gives birth to a daily monster.  (The labor pains have been decades in the makings).  

Stefan drew Monster #292, asked a question and I replied.  My response was, I’m sure, “fed” (pun intended) by my most recent vow to not imbibe in refined sugar for this month.  Stefan’s reply to my comment was to refer me to this comedy video.  I would have found it to be quite funny if it hadn’t set off obsessive thoughts about key lime, berry, lemon, apple, cherry and chocolate fudge.

I checked out Wikipedia looking to satisfy my cravings more rationally only to find that it is perfectly logical to be irrational on the subject of pie.

Pi” “Being an irrational number, (obsessive thinking regarding pie is always irrational) π cannot be expressed exactly as a common fraction, (because once you eat a delicious piece of pie it never again can be a fraction of a piece of pie nor considered common) although fractions such as 22/7 and other rational numbers are commonly used to approximate π. Consequently its decimal representation never ends and never settles into a permanent repeating pattern. The digits appear to be randomly distributed although, to date, no proof of this has been discovered. Also, π is a transcendental number (if you’ve ever tasted a morsel of mouth-watering pi you are indeed having a transcendental experience)– a number that is not the root of any non-zero polynomial having rational coefficients. This transcendence of π implies that it is impossible to solve the ancient challenge of squaring the circle with a compass and straight-edge.”

(We all know pies  are round:)  “Because its definition relates to the circle, π is found in many formulae in trigonometry and geometry, (gastronomy) especially those concerning circles, ellipses or spheres. It is also found in formulae used in other branches of science such as cosmologynumber theory,statisticsfractalsthermodynamicsmechanics, (french pastry) and electromagnetism. The ubiquity of π makes it one of the most widely known mathematical constants (and culinary delights) both inside and outside the scientific community: Several (cook)books devoted to it have been published, the number is celebrated on Pi Day where calculations of the digits of π in record-setting pie eating contests)  often result in news headlines. Attempts to memorize (and digest) the value of π with increasing precision have led to records of over 67,000 digits” (of ant-acid tablets).

 After re-reading this post it is clear to me my body is glucose-deprived and not enough oxygen is getting to my brain.  I’m off to Marie Callenders for clarity.

http://www.dailymonster.com/344_loves_you/2014/09/daily-monster-papers-292.html

The Mask of Invisibility and Me

In 1996 I contracted an invisible “illness”.  I began experiencing excruciating burning pain in my hands, arms and legs followed by gastrointestinal, cardiological, dermatological, emotional “issues”.  The worst part is I was also in peri-menopause and experiencing mood swings, wildly, uncontrollably ric-o-shaying between happy, content to annoyed and upset.

DSCN1415

In1996 fibromyalgia was not recognized by the medical community as a “real” ailment. Doctors considered it to be a syndrome: Unexplainable, unverifiable and psychosomatic. It was a Hysterical Middle Aged Woman’s Syndrome, as doctor after doctor told me – based on test, after expensive test coming back negative – that nothing was wrong with me and to go home and “Get a life”.DSCN1413

Forever imprinted in my memory is the chief of neurology at one of the major medical centers in Los Angeles (the doctor and medical center shall remain nameless because this is a true story)  looked at me knowingly, like we shared a secret “You’re a psychotherapist. You know about psychological issues” – he leaned forward, compassionately touching me on the knee and winked.  “Go home, live a good life and take up a hobby like kick-boxing.”  The only reason I winked back was to blink away the tears that were threatening to disrupt the façade that I wasn’t a hysterical middle-aged woman.

DSCN1414

I looked for anyone – gynecologists, gastroenterologists, cardiologists, neurologists, rheumatologists, environmental specialists, acupuncturists, immunologists, chiropractors – to put a name to what I had, to give what was invisible to everyone but myself a label other than HYPOCHONDRIAC.  I looked fine, acted fine, all tests were negative.  All I took away from the 100’s of doctor’s visits was a stack of psychiatrist’s cards doctors handed to me on the way out of their office.

After years of escalating pain, exhaustion, depression, countless doctors and tests I really did qualify on all counts as a hysterical middle-aged woman .

Well over a decade after my initial symptoms fibromyalgia was recognized by the medical community as “real” and research has since shown that it’s a central nervous system, brain processing disorder.  

I’m no longer middle-aged or hysterical.  But the doctors were right – it was, it is, all in my head.

This is National Invisible Illness Awareness Week

P.S.  There are hundreds of millions of people with “Invisible Illness” in this world.  Click above to  read more information.  Here’s a tiny sample:

  • Why, when you tell someone who is ill that they look good, they’re offended?
  • Practical ways you can encourage someone who is ill.
  • What’s the difference between a visible and invisible illness when it comes to one’s career?
  • What’s it like to go to college with an invisible chronic illness?

 Check out Carolyn Thomas’ My Heart Sisters –“You look great!” – and other things you should never say to heart patients and lots of other great posts about invisible illness.

JK Rowling: The fringe benefits of failure

 Wonderful Harvard Commencement Speech.  Listen carefully – it’s much quicker and cheaper than a Harvard education.

“As is a tale, so is life: not how long it is, but how good it is, is what matters.”

― Seneca .

<p><a href=”http://vimeo.com/1711302″>J.K. Rowling Speaks at Harvard Commencement</a> from <a href=”http://vimeo.com/harvard”>Harvard Magazine</a> on <a href=”https://vimeo.com”>Vimeo</a&gt;.</p>

Despair = Suffering without Meaning

At the risk of jinxing myself I’ve been puzzling over why I do not suffer as much from fibromyalgia than the women (and men) I know who are in more pain, have more co-morbid conditions and debilitating symptoms than I do.

And because they are, for the most part, held hostage by their medical conditions they are unable to continue to work in their professions and live a “relatively normal” life.   I’m not sure my life is “normal”.  I’m often stopped in my tracks by exhaustion, distracted by pain but I’ve been blessed by being able to continue to work in a profession that gives my life purpose and meaning.

What’s prompted all my questioning and thinking?  

I’ve been reading books written by Viktor Frankl an Austrian neurologist and psychiatrist who was a Holocaust survivor. In his book Mans Search for Meaning he writes about his incarceration in nazi death camps where he observed that those who did not believe their existence had meaning succumbed in greater numbers from starvation and disease than those who held the belief that their life had meaning.

Their purpose didn’t involve grand schemes of saving the world, curing people or groundbreaking discoveries. Purpose ranged from finishing a manuscript of a book begun before incarceration, staying alive for a family member or simply believing God had an unknown reason for them to live.

So?  What part does purpose and meaning play in our lives? in your life?  Does having purpose and meaning help reduce emotional or physical suffering?  I don’t pretend to have the answer, just the question.

Here’s Dr Frankl in an interview about finding meaning in difficult times.  (He talks about his experience in the concentration camps toward the end of the interview.)

“. . .the man on the street knows that meaning may not only be found in creating a work and doing a deed, not only in encountering someone and experiencing something, but also, if need be, in the way in which he stands up to suffering.” Viktor Frankl

 

A peak into my world – Hit and Miss

"Here she goes . . .again"

Bob the Blobfish: “Here she goes . . .again”

Important background information

I remember the first time I was called “Ma’am”. It was spewed out by a 15-year-old bag bog at the supermarket. I was barely into my 30’s.

Stay with me

 This morning I had a heart halter monitor “installed” (Nothing serious – just trying to titrate off of anti-arrhythmia medication which necessitates 24 hour monitoring just in case my heart protests)  It’s always a bit sobering when I have anything heart related.  It reminds me that while I’m aging on the outside for the world to see my insides are wrinkling too.  On my way back I stopped at Costco for lunch.

Be patient it will all make sense

I often go to Costco for lunch or dinner (for those of you in other parts of the world – it’s a warehouse store where the smallest quantities are packaged for a family of 20).  I  feast on food samples being handed out to market products.  

The best times for dining are Saturdays and Sundays where the aisles are replete with men and women, wearing white things over their hair, dishing out miniscule samples of food.  It is a leisurely meal because it takes time going back for seconds and thirds without looking conspicuous.

Today there was a new product – energy bars. Energy is something I can always use so I stopped to eat.  The samples were being served by a very friendly, manipulative young man.   He was youthfully cute wearing a white thing over his hair .

He informatively explained, “WE only use the best ingredients.”  WE don’t use additives”, “OUR bars have low sodium  . . . ”  If I hadn’t been around the aisle a few times (figuratively and literally) I would have thought he owned the company or at least was a major imagesstockholder.

He encouraged me to try all the three flavors and sample as much as I wished.  What’a treat not having to sneak back for second and third helpings.  Instead of reeling down the aisles looking for the next food cart I lingered at the table slowly savoring each sample – very tasty. I read the label – good ingredients. Checked how many bars a package – good price.  I threw a box into my cart.  “Thank you, Miss”, he called out. The “MISS” ricocheted off my psyche just as the MA’AM had done decades earlier.

images-1I’m seriously thinking of going back to help him fine-tune how he markets to MATURE women.  This is what I’m going to tell him: Call women “Miss” from  20 to 50. Those are the ages when we desperately care and love the recognition that we still look youthful;  Call women 50 years and older Ma’am.  This is when WE crave respect, know how we look and NEED ENERGY to care.

If this helps him sell more energy bars I may ask for a cut.

I TOLD you if you stuck with me it would make sense.

Betty Blobfish: "Growing old is not for the faint of heart"

Betty Blobfish: “Growing old is not for the faint of heart”

 

Memories Lost and Found

l60699-coca-cola-bottle-18609As a therapist  I know a lot about memories. In some ways you could say my bread and butter is helping people move past, untangle and reframe painful memories.

I know that memory is tricky, a slippery slope of bits and pieces of information that we think is a whole truth.  And know that we each often remember the very same incident differently with unique meanings, feelings and implications.

Yesterday, Rick Clarke (my first 7th grade crush) sent me an e-mail that he had just attended a memorial service for a high school classmate, Bob Blakey

The information hit me in the gut and sadness washed over me.  I had forgotten Bob.

Rick’s e-mail instantly triggered a memory from my 40th  high school reunion where Bob approached me. I didn’t recognize him. He saw me squinting at his name tag and said to me,  “Bob! BOB!, remember I spilled coke all over you after the dance?!!!” I hadn’t remembered . . . until that moment.

I flashed on the scene after the dance sitting at Googies, a local coffee shop that served hot Unknownfudge banana royals and Bob spilling his coke all over my splendiferously gorgeous peacock-blue taffeta gown with lots of petticoats.

I don’t remember if I asked Bob or he asked me to the dance. I don’t remember the dance. I  know it must have been a BIG important dance – like a junior-senior prom – because I wore the splendiferously gorgeous peacock-blue taffeta gown with lots of petticoats.

But Bob remembered, remembered me, remembered my splendiferously gorgeous peacock-blue taffeta gown with lots of petticoats, remembered knocking over his coke.  He remembered my mortification even though I didn’t remember being mortified.  

Tonight I’ll drink a coke in remembrance.  Here’s to you Bob.  

http://dailypost.wordpress.com/2014/03/25/prompt-moments-to-remember/

Frowning in Bright Sunlight Can Make You ANGRY

For years I’ve told clients to put a “smile” on their face (gotta crinkle eyes too).  I am not being flippant.  Many years ago I read a research study that showed that the muscles involved in smiling signal the brain to release “happy” neurotransmitters.  Now it turns out facial muscles signal the brain to release neurotransmitters for both “happy” and “mad”!

IMG_0021

judy’s scribble drawing

Excerpt from: Frowning In Bright Sunlight Can Make You Angry

By Douglas Main

(Particularly in Italy . . .)

“Recent work has shown that emotions can be influenced by facial expressions and body posture. For example if you instruct people to smile or frown in a laboratory setting (without explicitly telling them the true nature of the experiment), they are more likely to report feelings of happiness or sadness, respectively. Neuroimaging studies (like this one) have also shown this link.”

Now I’m telling all my clients to go to the Italian Riviera.  I might have to go to make sure they are walking in the right direction . . . 

Pain with Advanced Style

Artist, Ilona Royce Smithkin

Artist, Ilona Royce Smithkin, 93 years old

One of my favorite blogs which inspires me is Advanced Style by Ari Cohen who in his own words created ” . . . Advanced Style to start a dialogue about aging and to show a positive and uplifting image of getting older.”

This post was about how Illona Royce Smithkin,  (She’s 93 years old!!!)  had to say about pain:

“Everyday something unexpected happens to our bodies. I fight everyday to get up and out of bed.When I feel a pain somewhere I tell my body, “I’m so nice to you, what do you want from me?” And I tell myself a little story or joke and remind myself of the times when I was in worse pain, and how lucky I am today, and the pain begins to go away. I tell myself that this isn’t the first time, or the last time that I will feel pain and begin to occupy my mind with other things. You must get involved in things outside of the pain, things that give you interest. All these things are a part of life. We all feel pain and unpleasantness. As long as I can seduce myself to enjoy all kinds of things, like in the morning enjoying the first cup of coffee, or piece of chocolate the pain begins to diminish. I give myself nice things to look forward to, throughout the day. The moment you give in and let yourself get dragged down by misery you are closer to death.”

I shall try to think of Ilona when I feel a pain in my own body . . . or spirit.