An Injury Is Never Just An Injury

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When you have fibromyalgia, or trigeminal neuralgia, an injury is never “just” an injury.

Three weeks ago a door viciously attacked my little toe.  It was … well it wasn’t broken, and that’s the only positive thing I can say about it!  So the next day my fibromyalgia goes “HAH, PETTY TOE, LET ME SHOW YOU THE TRUE MEANING OF PAIN” and everything from my waist down felt swollen and heavy and on fire.  My joints all the way up to my hips were stiff.  I lay in bed and read trashy fanfiction to distract myself from the pain.  The day after that the burning heavy stiff sensation was only in the leg with the bung toe, and after that it went away completely.

So fibromyalgia is a real asshole when you get hurt.  But to top that off, whenever my fibromyalgia does a flareup, my trigeminal neuralgia does a flare up!

Well today, while sorting rams, I got smacked in the nose.  Fortunately by a hand and not a ram, but still, it was a good thwack.  I went and put cold water on it (the best we could do out on farm) and promptly had a meltdown.

The injury is on my face.  The injury is, specifically, on my nose.  The inflammation will put pressure on the second branch of both trigeminal nerves, and that’s likely to set off my trigeminal neuralgia which I had only just settled down after a volcano pimple on my jaw decided to set the whole thing off (why, oh why, does my face do this to me?).

So I had an anxiety attack, which is kind of understandable.  I don’t want my fibromyalgia to flare up.  I don’t want my trigeminal neuralgia to flare up.  I don’t want to be in pain.

But I don’t really get much of an option, and not doing the things that I love to keep myself safe from injury is also not an option … so I have to be kind to myself when I am injured.  And reduce inflammation as much as possible!

For now it is definitely setting off both trigeminal nerves, but it’s only set off the third branch of one side and mildly set off all three branches on the other.  Here’s hoping fibro doesn’t kick in tomorrow and make all the joints in my upper body stiff and achy!  I’ve got stuff to do!

Money Matters

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I just received news that the long awaited inheritance is now not far off – and that it is likely to be more than originally anticipated.

I freaked out.  Total meltdown.  Still am.  My brain is frazzled, I’m bouncing all over the show, and not all of it is delight.  A lot of it is anxiety.

While hand combing out knotted fur and rambling (surprisingly therapeutic) I realised that my anxiety with money and the lack thereof didn’t actually begin, as I thought, with Him, my narcissistic ex, but rather in my childhood.

I grew up lower middle class in a family of five – two siblings.  We were fed, we were clothed, we had school books and that adhesive sparkly wrap to make them more interesting than just exercise books.  We had healthy lunches.

We would walk to school, rain or shine, typically a 30 minute walk at a good clip.  Mum would walk to the green grocer to pick up veggies for our lunches, and to the butcher to get meats for our sandwiches.  She tried her hand at growing vegetables, but with her severe depression when I was growing up, it was difficult.  She would trawl op shops for clothing for us.  Once in a while I would get a new top or a new pair of pants, which were always from the cheaper shops.

hated growing because it would mean new shoes, so I would wear the same shoes until my toes were curled in and it was too painful to wear the shoes.  We would drive for 30 minutes to the cheaper shoe shop and Mum would always be fussing over the price of things.  I would always pick the cheapest pair I could walk in.

It took me years before I finally asked to get a bra, and then it was only one.  Once I grew out of that, I would only ever have two bras, and I would wear them until they broke, because I hated shopping with Mum.  We would only ever go to the cheap stores when they were having really good sales.

I understand these are all sensible things to do, but to my growing brain, it was ‘you can’t get money spent on you, we don’t have enough’.  This has been emphasised over and over again in my life by people of great import.  If it weren’t for one of my oldest friends, I wouldn’t have a healthy relationship with money or spending at all.

Compound that with the last 13 years of being in debt with no savings to speak of and barely solvent, as well as, at some stages, barely having enough money to feed myself let alone my animals (they always came first), I have no fucking clue how to be a person with financial security and it scares the shit out of me.

I was gifted with a relatively significant sum when I was with Him from a family member passing.  I paid off my debt, and he insisted on going on holiday overseas and all these expensive things that of course he couldn’t pay for and I had the money so I should pay for them.  It was gone within two months.

I know it’s not going to happen this time, for one thing, I’m not with Him, and for another thing, it’s considerably more, but the fear is still there all the same.  Any sum of money I receive disappears.  POOF!  All gone, with nought but memories and a sour taste in my mouth.  And while intellectually I know it’s not going to happen this time, there is still the overwhelming terror of it all just disappearing.

And of the unknown, this mythical financial security thing that, at 33, I have never felt like I have had.  Even the idea of it is scary.  What do I do with myself?  How to I live without the looming fear of debt, the worry over whether or not I can afford to buy cat food this week?  How do I live if not paycheck to paycheck?

This is entirely new and terrifying territory.  Because I know I am overwhelmed and can’t process this information myself, I will book an appointment with my counsellor for the extra help.  There’s a lot going on here, and this should be an amazing and exciting thing, but it’s not.

How to Survive the Festive Season with Chronic Illness

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Now that I am through the festive season, I would like to extend my best wishes to all readers – whether you be transient or regular – for the holiday season, and my heartiest congratulations for coming out the other end.

If you could hear my hysterical laughter you’d understand that ‘surviving’ is about the only thing I can lay claim to for this past holiday season.  I managed to not yell at anyone.  I did politely snap a couple of times – when mum told me not to do a thing with the laptop that had to be done (I do know what I’m doing), and when my amazing human got salty about where we had coffee because we could have had coffee at the coffee place up the road (yes we could have, but we are not, because we are having coffee here, because you said you didn’t care where three times before as we went past cafes and I shoved us all into this one because you were getting grumpy).  But overall I managed.

Which is a fucking feat of perseverance if I ever did see one.  I went into it burnt out from the impromtu therapy session with mum wherein I was the therapist and helped her unpick and reframe a narrative that has been with her since she was two.  The good news is, she’s looking a lot happier, and she’s going to start looking into a therapist.  The bad news is it took so much out of me.

Throw me straight into two very long drives back-to-back (only one of which I had to do), my amazing human’s family arriving for two weeks, and the act of ‘running interference’ to ensure my amazing human doesn’t become overwhelmed by his parents, and you have a very stressed out and exhausted lady at the end of it all.

I rarely had time to myself to plug in my headphones and listen to anything.  I didn’t have time to do any of my self soothing routines.  I was out and about constantly, pushing myself to ensure everything went as smoothly as possible.  I was mediator, decider, herder of cats, support … the works.  My role in my family has always been as mediator and keeper of the peace.  My role in my amazing human’s family is apparently the same, with making decisions (because no one else does) and herding cats on top of that.

I failed miserably at implementing any kind of self care over the holiday period.  It’s hard to say ‘no’ when you’re trying to keep everyone else happy – and that’s a holdover from my childhood.  If I keep everyone else happy, no one will be grumpy, and I won’t be grumped at.  Well it only partly worked.  I still got grumped at.

But, in my rambling way, I survived.  I made it through.  The only incident was the dog eating a part-empty tube of cat laxative and having to clean that off the carpet (she’s fine).

And next year hopefully we won’t have two families combining over the holiday period.

Goodbye 2019, Hello 2020

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Well.  What a decade this has been.

I moved country.  Twice.  With a lot of animals.  I was married.  I was separated.  I am not yet divorced, but hey that’s coming this year.  I got more animals.  I moved city to pursue the career of my dreams.  I gained a weird older brother in my flatmate.  I met some truly amazing humans through my university course.  I met one of my truest and best friends to date through fandoms.  I met, and fell in love with, my amazing human bean.

I had a breakdown.  I was diagnosed with fibromyalgia.  I built myself back up.  I was diagnosed with trigeminal neuralgia.  I built myself back up.  I got rid of more narcissists on the way.

All throughout I was supported by the most amazing, kind, generous, loving and supportive humans I could ever have been blessed with.  My parents, for whom without which I could not have even begun my journey into my new career, let alone continued on it.  My nearest and dearest friends who have shouted me road trips and meals and yarn, who have given me hugs and cuddles and lent me their ears to vent and rage and cry.  My amazing human being who has stood beside me through ironing out my quirks, my panic attacks, my depression, my medication trials, my descent into physical disability, who has cooked me nutritious meals, has made spiced hot chocolates when things get tough (“I can’t fix it, but I can make hot chocolate!”), has enthused over anything I have shown interest in …

And then there are my amazing animals, three of which I will not get another decade with, who I cherish more than I can say and who have provided me with company, love, fur, poop, barf, and so many laughs.

This decade has, without a doubt, been the toughest I have lived through yet.  The physical, emotional, and mental toll of fibromyalgia and trigeminal neuralgia can not be understated.  It is brutal and it is every damn day.  And yet I feel very fortunate.  I have learned that the people I am surrounded by have more love than I could ever have imagined, and I feel truly honoured.

I am relieved this decade has, at last, passed.  There are many things I look forward to leaving behind.  While I do not ascribe to this ‘new year, new me’ (or ‘new decade, new me’) thing, I do find it is important to identify a ‘turning point’ so to speak, a point at which you can say ‘this situation did not go past that, and it is done’.  For me, the shift from 2019 to 2020 is that, in terms of freeing myself from narcissists (both romantically, and platonically), and the start of my journey into chronic illness.

Now bring me that horizon.

Fibromyalgia, Stress, and Exhaustion

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I had some news on Wednesday that reminded me of my beloved pets’ health, the fact that they are old, with many of the associated diseases, and had a realisation about their mortality.

You don’t think about it that often.  Or at least I don’t.  I’ve had one of my cats since he was barely a month old, and my other since she was 2.  I’ve had my dog since she was 6 months.  My derpy boy is now 13, my girly cat 15, and my pupper coming up to 6 years old.  They’re starting to get into their ‘geriatric’ years.  Both of my cats have geriatric diseases – hyperthyroidism and renal failure (to differing levels) – and my girly cat has other serious problems with her back and legs.

It hit me like a Volvo truck to the face.  They’re old.  They’re going to die.  If I’m lucky I’ll get another 3-6 years out of any of them.  But sometime soon they are going to die, and I’m not ready for that.  I’m not ready for my babies, who I’ve had since they were so young, to be old.

So I did what all people do when they’re faced with mortality: I had a meltdown.  I sobbed.  I curled up and rocked for a bit.  Then I sat and put on high quality distractions so I could just exist as a brainless blob for the rest of the day.  By the time I was due to go to sleep, I was already aching.

The next day, yesterday, was agonising.  The stress kicked off a flare.  All my joints were stiff and muscles burned.  My head was foggy.  I could hardly see straight, let alone keep my eyes open.  After a few hours of fighting the fatigue, I curled up on the couch and slept for 5 hours.  I was still incredibly dizzy and exhausted, so I continued my blob.  I slept like the dead.

Well today I’m still overly fatigued and my entire body feels heavy.  Even typing is hard today, and I strongly suspect another nap is in order, despite the long sleep I had last night.  My joints are still stiff and achy, especially my knees and hips.  My motivation levels have completely bottomed out.  My ability to do even easy things, like play a game, is completely nonexistent.

And the only thing I can do is ride it out.  I’ve had to put on hold all the things I needed to get done because I just can’t.  Some of them involve driving for hours and heavy digging, which I can do on a good day, but holy hells bells I can’t do when I’m like this.

When this kind of thing happens you can either fight it or relax into it and embrace it.  I’m still working on the relaxing into it, I really have to force myself.  But it’s better to relax into it than to try and fight it!