When I was small I believed I was destined to be a very important person. Like those who go to fortune tellers and are unsurprised to discover they were Her Majesty Queen Elizabeth in a former life, I was certain I would be someone whose presence danced across the international stage.
This disillusion lasted for an embarrassingly long period of time, well into my thirties in fact. First I was going to be a great actress, then a world renowned writer, and finally, a Supreme Court Justice. It wasn’t until I developed debilitating ovarian cysts and spent nearly a year and a half in ridiculous amounts of pain that my understanding of what my life was to be changed.
This year I am thankful for a quieter life. I am thankful beyond measure to be free of the pain that rendered me a poor mother, partner, wife, and friend. I am thankful to have moved on to the point where I can work a nearly full time job and participate in my children’s lives.
While I once dreamed of days spent imparting my wisdom to the masses or walking the red carpet with throngs of followers, now I am happy to read with my boyfriend in front of a fire and enjoy a nice glass of wine. I am happy to stay home most nights, read to my children, snuggly my cat, and go to bed at a decent hour.
I find joy in walking places, now that I am once again able to meander for miles without needing to sit down and recover from a bout of excruciating pain. I am happy to bicycle and do push ups, to dance and sing, to clean the house.
Having pain enter my life is not something I can be happy for. I’ve tried, but even I am not that self-effacing. Learning to build my life back into something fulfilling, enjoyable, and truly lovely is something I treasure with all my heart.
So thank you to all of you who helped me find my way back from the dark recesses of illness, the precipice of suicide, and the resulting wreckage of my former life. You lent strength to someone who didn’t have her own and helped lead me to a happier, quieter, life.
I have moved into the role of General Counsel for a small company. As you can imagine, the number of legal issues that arise, even for a computer forensics company, are few. My first week I wrote contracts, by the second week I was handling all of our HR paperwork, by the third week I was responsible for our social media presence. Week four, they added web design.
So today, I sit in my boyfriend’s cozy downstairs office in front of a fire attempting to ferret out the necessary HTML/CSS coding required to double space a block quote in a content manager plug-in.
I find it humorous that law school taught me the one thing I needed to join the world of business as a valuable and fully flexible team member, the ability to research. My tens of thousands of hours spent researching various legal issues has given me a nearly preternatural ability to find information and tutorials pertaining to any task I am handed.
So I am building our website, piece by piece. It was initially fully designed (in my mind) two weeks ago. Then, at the website review one simple question was asked. “Can we add different colored boxes with information to the site?”
“hmmm…. I don’t know. Let me check”
The answer, no. The theme I had chosen didn’t allow for that. So off I went on a two day research trip across the vast landscape of the interwebs to see what resources would work with the theme to enable that capability. I found many, but most were pretty crappy looking. Then I stumbled across one that would allow us to make as many changes as we wished to the site. I bought it and happily began the tedious process of moving the content into the content manager and arranging our boxes and information in a pleasing and eye-catching manner.
Then I hit a wall.
Paragraph spacing. I have no idea how to accomplish paragraph spacing within this theme.
So weeks of work are stalled while I spend more time seeking out the appropriate way to code for paragraph spacing than I did on writing the content for the site.
That’s how the doctor’s edict is feeling these days. I am running from the morning until the evening just trying to live a normal life. I am job hunting, working, cleaning, reading, mending, parenting, seeing doctors, and eating like a normal person. So far it appears that I can live a moderately normal life, even if I am really excited when bedtime arrives at ten.
In one week I start the new medication to handle the nerve pain. Until then it’s reset my circadian rhythms to see if it helps make the headaches go away.
I have to say I am at least distracted from them by doing. I managed law school with migraines and I always thought it was because my brain just compartmentalized the pain into a tiny corner and focused on Evidence. I think the past few years there has been less of an ability to compartmentalize. My hope is a regular schedule and a non-coma inducing treatment will result in me once again being able to kick ass.
Sometimes you get them from the universe, some times from family and friends. Today’s post is a thank for to a few people who picked me up this week.
I want to thank Christine at the Ameristar Casino in Blackhawk who gave me a glorious upgrade to a dream room with a fire place and huge jetted tub. You did it for no other reason than to be nice and it made our day.
Michael, despite having wee ones to care for, you have started sending me a note every morning telling me you hope I can have a good day. Finding that note in my message box makes me smile and lifts my spirits enough to make the first part of the day easier.
Mom, Dan than you for sending me the message that you will help me get around where I need to go until I can drive, that I am not trapped at home, and that there are people who will go to considerable lengths to help me do what I need and want to do.
Lee, thank you for sending the message that despite all we have been through, you still think I can survive and thrive through this. Also, thank you for talking to your hysterical ex-wife for half an hour when you had far more fun things to do with that time.
I want to thank the tow truck driver who hit my car. You may have helped my doctors diagnose some of the headaches that have been plaguing me. You were decent to me when you ran the red, handled everything well on your end, and may have inadvertently led my medical professionals in a new direction.
My dear doctor friend, thank you for consistently showing you care about my health, for referring me to someone you will likely do a better job listening and helping me through this.
To my Coni, there are millions of messages you have sent me over the years but the one that sticks now is that you really can find a way through anything with enough wacky humor.
To my dear Woman with a Hatchet, thank you for showing me how to continue pushing through. I know you are struggling, but you are setting an example for me to follow.
Happy Wednesday all, I love you.
Once upon a time there was a gregarious and indomitable woman who wanted to save the world. She loved hugely, in extravagant expressions of devotion. She learned everything, quickly, and worked hard to master it all. She learned law, she learned theater, she sang, danced, painted, wrote, and still made time for all the friends and family a person could ever imagine having. She worked full time, raised children, volunteered for charities. She had a huge heart, enormous dreams, and the firm belief that she could conquer it all. She even did all of the with migraines.
Then one day she woke up with this little stabby sensation in her side. It was a cross between a cramp and a charley horse. Painful, but nothing life ending. Then she woke up with it the next day, and the next, and the next. One day the stabby sensation turned into an explosive sensation, as if her abdomen were birthing an Alien. She couldn’t move without pain, she couldn’t lie still without pain. Her entire life became colored by pain.
She stopped being able to work full time. She could not longer be the fun parent. She couldn’t be a good wife or a solid and dependable volunteer. Her life centered around getting through the day and choosing which pathetic shadow of her former self she would try to be that day.
This went on for years, until the doctors removed all the offending organs. While healing, she tried to regain some of her prior vivacity. Instead, she discovered her life again centered around how much she could do in a day. People got tired of hearing her turn them down, people got tired of hearing her complain. She stopped talking. There was nothing new to say anyway how often can person say ‘ouch’?
Then after the surgery the headaches started. Unlike any migraine she had ever had before these came pounding into her brain with the force of the worst hangover ever. Distracting. Debilitating. Untreatable.
So here she is again, this once empowered force of nature having to choose between work, family, friends, causes. On a good day, a low pain day, she can work for a few hours, play with her kids a bit, and cook dinner. More than that and she has to sleep twelve hours that night.
She misses the life she used to have. She misses being the person everyone wanted at a party because she was fun and energetic, as opposed to the pity invite or the forgotten invite. She misses dancing, singing, rock climbing with her kids. She misses feeling as though she can succeed in tackling anything you throw at her. She misses herself.
But this is who she is now. She has to choose how to spend her energy, it is a finite resource. Overuse has devastating consequences. So she is saying goodbye to that former self, to that prior life. Goodbye to the people who can’t or won’t understand that she simply can’t live like that anymore. Goodbye to the dreams of world domination.
She is saying hello to survival. Hello to working within and conquering an invisible illness, one no one runs marathons for, wants to congratulate you on surviving, or even necessarily believes is real. Her future is still bright, it is still meaningful, it’s just a little bit smaller than before.
I mourned. I cried. I freaked out.
I wrote about mourning, crying, and freaking out.
Now it’s time for me to shift my focus. I have a chronic condition, it might never go away, but I need to develop a battle plan for living a happy life with it. I can’t promise I will be positive every day, but I am going to focus on one wonderful thing every day. It is my hope that the load I carry will seem lighter if I draw my attention to the blessings in my life and away from the hardships. So that is my battle plan. Focus on the positive.
Today, my focus is on a tiny creature who has been a constant source of joy in my life. She came to me through chance and has been the best furry friend I have ever known. Hazel.
Hazel came into my life one day in New Jersey when I was dropping Marlena off at school. I came out and there was this little tortoiseshell kitty sitting on the sidewalk between me and the car. She was looking right at me and seemed to say “I am cold, wet, and hungry, and this is your problem now.”
I walked to the car, opened the door, and stood back. She walked over, hopped up in the car, walked a circuit around the interior and then settled into the passenger seat.
I took her home.
Since then she has been my daily companion, curling up in my arms at night when I sleep, on my legs when I read, in my lap when I work. She is with me whenever I am home and during the long illness of the past three years she made me laugh, smile, and feel loved. She gave me the tactile support I so desperately needed without demanding anything in return. (Other than kitty treats and catnip, of course.)
My life has been greatly improved by the providence of finding this little furry creature. The manner in which I found her, the way she instantly accepted me, it has seemed as though we were meant to meet. Even now, as I write this post, she waits patiently at my side purring her little squeaky purr into my ear, waiting for me to finish.
I am blessed to have such a connection with such an amazing animal.