Dog Spelled Backwards

 

Help. I’ve fallen. And I can’t get up.

I have basically been crashed since the day after Christmas. Even before Christmas, my operational value was at maybe 40%. It has steadily gone down. My joints have become cloudier, my muscles weaker and heavier, noise louder than ever, and ordinary light offensively bright. Simply stated, moving has become difficult again, and this is the hardest symptom of all for me to handle. It’s suffocating. I’d prefer pain honestly. My legs are useless. Sometimes I find myself reaching for things across the bed without so much as flinching my legs because it takes an unwarranted amount of energy to move them. I can’t say what is happening to me. Or what has happened to me. I know that every night I pray really really hard that the next day will be better. When I wake up the next morning, and things are the same or worse, I keep going. I take my daily pill cocktail, wait for relief, stare out of windows, and contemplate what a strange and sedentary existence I have. What else can I do but go on? It’s hard. It hurts. When I think about how long it’s been, I fear how long it could last. But I’m not giving up now. I can see the appeal, but I’m not gonna do it.

 

Chronic Fatigue Syndrome doesn’t kill you, directly. It’s rate of mortality comes from a scary little thing called suicide, and having suffered with this since age 9, it’s easy for me to see why that option can feel like it’s all you’ve got. It doesn’t feel like much of a life, laying in bed each day. Only hearing the sounds of life but not actually participating in them. It’s like smelling the aroma of baking bread and never actually getting to eat any. You watch entire seasons change, babies turn into toddlers, this Christmas into next Christmas, and you expected things to be different by now. You’d fantasized a certain life for yourself by the time you got to 25. And when that didn’t happen you said 26. And then 27. And now 28. I’m starting to forget the numbers. They’ve never changed anything before.

It’s really hard to understand God during these times. I grew up Catholic and have always had my relationship with God- but it’s very personal. I even imagine him when I speak to him, in a very specific location, as if a bulleted address on Google Maps. I think of him now, through darker and unhappy times and I think either he trusts me too much, or he forgot about me altogether. But would the master of the Universe forget about someone? So much goes into making a person and a life. I know that I am an incredibly tiny tiny piece of the whole, but still, a piece. And while in the context of eternity and potentially multiple universes we can feel incredibly small, I somehow don’t doubt for a second that my life matters, and so does everyone’s who is alive. I don’t say that with a lot of pride either. I say it because there is something solid and untouchable in me, something unstirred by discouragement, failure, despair, loneliness and tears. It says Keep Going, and so I do. But the truth is I don’t know what for and I don’t even know in what direction. Certainly I am lost. But it’s sort of for my own bitter curiosity that I won’t give up. I want to see what’s at the finish line waiting. I need to know this is not all for nothing.

I must be honest, I think a lot about how stupid I think my life is. I know that seems irreverent at best, but sometimes you just have to laugh about it. Today I was too fatigued to brush my teeth. My God! It’s so stupid! It’s so stupid it’s funny. You should see what I look like these days. Somewhere between Jim Carrey when he visits the Nut House in Ace Ventura wearing brown boots and a pink tutu, and an old senile man in pajamas on his front porch with a cigarette and a shot-gun. Sometimes I stare at myself in the mirror, not quite recognizing what I’ve morphed into. The steroids have puffed my face, my skin is pale and there are dark circles I never had until now. But more than that, it’s like the lights are out. What’s that phrase? A shell of who I used to be? Something like that. I feel like a caged animal and I fear that’s what I’m starting to look like too.

 

All my classy PJ's were in the wash.

Thanks for the clothes Grandpa!

Tonight I cried I guess because it all catches up to me once and a while and feels too heavy to keep in. My mom says we’re all due for a little meltdown now and then. I cried but what I wanted to do was scream, because I am physically nauseous from how sick I’ve been. How relentless it’s been. Day after day, hour after hour. When the weakness makes just standing up a chore that takes energy, my stomach turns. I’m tired of being sick and I’m tired of taking pills. I want to scream but I don’t have the energy for it, so I cry. By default.

 

When I cry I blow my nose really loud, hoping that it’ll wake God up from his sleep. I hear a rustling and when I look up, it’s Monty standing there, wagging his tail at me. He’d snuck in when my head was buried in my hands. Truthfully, I was happy to see him. It then occurred to me that Dog is just God spelled backwards…so maybe he is listening after all. Maybe Monty is God! I don’t know. And that’s the hardest part about moments and times like these. We don’t see how they fit into the grand design of our lives yet. All we see is what’s happening now. For now, there’s pain and suffering, and if God reads blogs, then I guess this is me asking him to take it a little easy. Maybe just for a day. Either way, I will still go to sleep with hope that tomorrow might be better. And if it isn’t, then the next day, or the next day or the next. Keep going something tells me, and since I have nothing else to do, I guess I’ll do that.

Health and Happiness and Keep On Keepin On.

 

A List of Mildly Pleasing Things.

The sound a rotary phone makes
When you hang up the receiver.

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The smell of tires
And how you know before you walk in
the door of the auto shop
that the computer will be old,
and the colors will be red and black.

The sound of ice in a glass
And a something liquid gold
pouring slowly in.

When Monty’s Tail Wags While He’s Sleeping.

Riding in a cab
In New York City,
going anywhere.
The urban slideshow
through a square cracked window
slows down the fast city.
and the driver mumbling
in a quiet language an American girl
who’s pretty
will never need to know.

The way Gwyneth Paltrow smokes cigarettes in The Talented Mr. Ripley.

the-talented-mr-ripley-gwyneth-paltrow-cigarette

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The second of stillness
When you drive under a bridge in the rain.

New showering products.

A woman tying a man’s tie.

The crinkling of a newspaper
When a man eats his breakfast
With one leg crossed over the other.

Being a woman
Wearing a dress
Smelling romantic
and the clicking of heels
on the old wooden floor
toward whoever spent the time waiting.

A fresh piece of chalk
on school chalkboards.
And the slowness and fragility
of that 90 year old librarian
Who stamps the due date in my book
with her veiny tissue hands.

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That feeling you get
When you kiss someone new.
Like everything is different
Though everything’s the same.

Health, Happiness, and Tiny Little Pleasures.

An Animated Version of My Sick Week.

I’ve finally reemerged out of my latest crash. I’m kind of tired of dedicating words to what being sick is like, so instead I’ll do it with GIF animations. Here’s how it went.

Monday: I tried to get out of bed, but it went something like this.

By Tuesday I was still lifeless and sick, so my mom brought  food to me in bed, which went something like this:

By Wednesday I’m  like this is crap! I’m going outside to play! Which went like this:

So back to bed I went, like this

Then I woke up like 20 hours later like this:

And then someone with enthusiasm calls and says “Hows it going Mary?!?!” and I respond “Great!!!”

Then after a long day of exhaustion, I try to go to sleep, which goes something like this:

Then alas I get to bed, and when I wake up, my body feels like it’s done this to itself all night…

Being awake feels crappy so I go back  to bed, like BYE WORLD!!!

Then I wake up to Bill O’Reilly playing from the living room…

Meanwhile Monty is bored to death with his owner so he decides to go out in the world on his own…

Then finally I wake up with enough energy to get out of bed and be a functional human being!

Which means it’s a PLAY DAY FOR MONTY!!

Woohoo!!

Health, Happiness, Sick Weeks.

White Girls on Facebook: Part 2.

1. Write the name of an alcoholic beverage and a question mark followed by “Don’t Mind If I Do!”

Ahhh much needed.

Ahhh much needed.

2. Talk about how INSANELY busy they are and the massive amount of things they have to do! So much so they spend the next two hours on Facebook talking about it!!

3. Use “LOL” questionably and in an overabundance. “I have cancer lol” “Me too lol”

4. Some version of this picture, allll up in your biz.

My legs enjoying the beach.

The bottom half of my body enjoying the beach.

4. Talk about preparation for tomorrows workout, take a picture of today’s workout, or reflect on the burn from yesterdays workout.

5. Delve into the recent cold they caught, list all the corresponding symptoms of said cold, then tag a photo of Dayquil and Hot Tea. Potential Caption: Yucky sniffles AND a sore throat! :(

6. Take a picture of herself scandalously dressed and tag it with this caption: “Hey you.”

And by you I mean me.

And by you I mean me.

7. “Today I am thankful for gratitude lists.”

8. Attempt a really inspiring, self-written life quote. “Never take advantage of anyone. Life is short but regret is forever. Always thank your lucky stars and never forget to dance. Even in hard times, the sun will shine through the night.”

9. Talk some major smack about football and/or their fantasy team. Then talk some major smack about The Bachelor.

10. Take a picture of basically anything and caption with: LOVE. <3 <3 <3

LOVE.

12. Girls Night Out!! Prepare for pictures, captions and a play-by-play before the night is halfway over.

11. Something borderline horribly offensive followed by “Just Sayin.”

13. Picture of the hubs taking a nap with the baby!

LOVE.

LOVE.

14. Vent a frustration beginning with WOW. “Wow, I was under the impression that a STOP SIGN MEANS STOP.”

15. Duckface. Forever and Ever and Always.

Yall come to the party I'm having by myself in the bathroom!

Yall come to the party I’m having by myself in the bathroom!

Health. Happiness. Facebook. GIRLS.  <3

Snow, Christmas, Crash, Repeat.

I’ve attempted to sit down and write multiple times this week but my eyes continue to grow heavy and I fall asleep with the light of the monitor on my face and an incomplete sentence waiting. Most of the family left to their respective homes on Sunday and it appears my body waited for them to leave to go ahead and crash–which is nice of it actually. I made it through Christmas Eve and Day with adequate enough energy and I was really grateful for that. If being sick now is payment for what I experienced with family this Christmas, then it was well worth it. I just love those crazy animals!

Christmas is by far my favorite Holiday. The lights, the soundtrack, a reason to be kind, the eggnog, the food and the family. I treasure it all. Since we spent this Christmas in Colorado, I began praying weeks in advance for a White Christmas; something I haven’t had in many years. It just makes everything that much more “Christmasy.” When I awoke on Christmas Eve, I saw that my prayers were heard. We had every type of snow that day. In the morning it came down softly. By the afternoon it was big, slow flakes. On the way to Mass it was small gusty snow, fast and twirling. I felt like a kid again. And being that we’re Southerners who are rusty in the art of driving in snow, we went about 15 miles per hour on the way to Church, leaving an impromptu parade of backed up traffic behind us. But you can’t get mad about traffic on Christmas Eve– Not in your Sunday Best while the sky is falling. I received more than I asked for; 6 inches to be exact, which is pretty substantial for this town. It continued to snow into the night, revealing a very real White Christmas the next morning.  My favorite part was taking Monty on a walk that evening. The night sky orange from the clouds reflecting lights, the atmosphere hollowed; a padded cave where your steps crunching the snow is all you really hear. It almost demands that you stand still, that you look up. There is a tangible quietness to snow and it was a real gift to experience it again.

Monty in the Snow, Night.

Monty in the Snow, Night.

Yum.

Yum.

I also really like this time of year because there’s such a sense of hope and possibility with the New Year. On a technical basis, it’s minor. It’s just a change in numbers. A 2 becomes a 3. But for human beings, where space and time matter, it marks an end and a beginning. As the numerical date changes, it’s wise to reflect on the past 365 days and think of what you want the next 365 to look like. Of course, as the mystics would remind us, there is no past or future. A New Years Resolution can only begin and mean something right now. Right now is all there is.

I didn’t make a New Years Resolution specifically, though I love the idea. I reflected on New Years Eve 2010, which I spent at my parents house, and it was Monty who I kissed at midnight. The next few days would involve a heavy crash and a hospital visit and some major contemplation about what to do with my life that I was slowly losing control of to health. I remember that last New Years Eve I thought well, at least the worst year of my life is over. I thought 2011 would be my sickest year, and that I could stuff it far away somewhere. Bury it. Burn it. Just put it out of sight and move on. And then I met 2012. In many ways 2012 ended up being my toughest year. Health-wise it was one of the worst. Emotionally it drained me. Personally it humbled me. You’d think after years of being sick I’d have it all figured it out by now. But I’m still learning. Feeling my way through the dark parts to find meaning, treasuring the good days, and holding out hope that this won’t be my life forever. 2012 was deeply hard, but another way to look at it is this: I survived. I made it. It’s over, but I’m still here. Like Caroline Myss says, “As long as you’re still here, you’ve got purpose.” I may be sickley and often seemingly useless, but I am still here, and I do feel underneath my lifeless body that I still have a lot of work to do. And if most of it comes from bed, so be it.

There’s a few other lessons I’ve learned in 2012 that I’ll take with me into 2013 on my way. Wherever that is.

I’ve learned how to be a house guest: That most people consider themselves clean and organized, and that every person’s definition of those two traits are absolutely different. All in all, people appreciate when you make your bed, so do it whether your hosts do or not.

I’ve learned that old ladies don’t like dogs without leashes.

I’ve learned that violence is not the answer and instead of trying to punch a fly in the face you may benefit from pausing and reflecting instead.

I’ve learned that even if my body is worthless, my mind is not, and it’s still possible to achieve things from a couch, or a bed…in pajamas.

I’ve learned that even if they’re the right thing, breakups hurt. They’re hard. Sometimes it really is time that heals those wounds best.

I’ve learned that every person is fighting a battle. I used to never talk about my issues, or even write in the first person for that matter. Now I have a public blog with everything out on the table and a lot of I, I, I. But most people do not. They keep problems and pain inside, protecting a sore spot somewhere, which is important to remember when they’re flipping you off in traffic or cursing your name from across the street. We all have issues, and it’s all OK. In my darkest times I’ve found reassurance that no one is alone in their pain.

I’ve learned that the best doctor is Dr. Mom.

I’ve begun to learn to swallow my pride. To accept help with grace. To admit when I can’t do it on my own. And that there is much more freedom than pain in those moments. There is real ease in surrender.

I’ve learned that regardless of the question, the answer is protein.

And that out of all 25 pills, nothing makes me feel better than laughter. Mine and others. For real.

I’ll take all of these with me. Into the future, to a galaxy far far away. Or to whatever state I end up in next. I don’t know what 2013 has in store for me. So far, I’ve basically spent it in bed. But that’s OK too. Because regardless of what 2013 brings to the table, I promise to keep on laughing, to keep on joking, and to keep making fun of the tragedy that can be life. In almost every punch life throws, we can laugh or we can cry, and in my experience, it’s just way more fun to laugh at it all. In short, I’ll keep taking 25 pills and making lemonade…or something like that. Happy 2013 yall.

Health, Happiness, 2013