Monday, May 9, 2016

I'm Not Wonder Woman--And That's Okay


Once upon a time I was Wonder Woman. I was one of those people who could do 8 million things at once and still find time to read a book. I went to school and pulled straight A’s, I had two part time jobs, I had three very active kids that I ran all over the state and sometimes even to other states for soccer games, I kept my house clean--well except for laundry because really, even Wonder Woman knows laundry is a never ending battle--made dinner, scrubbed my toilets every Saturday, blogged regularly, and still had time to write 1500-2000 words a day.


Life was good.


And then one day it wasn’t.


I’d dealt with different forms of chronic aches and pains for years and just figured it was part of life. I felt like I had a fairly high pain threshold so I just downed a few Excedrin with a Dr. Pepper if I needed relief and went on my way. Around January 2014 the pain started to get worse and I found myself tired no matter what I did. Concentrating on one task, let alone my usual twenty at a time, became excruciating. A job that should have taken 10 minutes would span on for hours, I stopped reading anything that I didn’t absolutely have to for work because I’d find myself having to reread things five to six times to even remember what I’d just read, and writing? Forget about it. I couldn’t come up with 10 words a day let alone 2000.


I’d graduated in December of 2012 and was now working full time. I was also still doing a part time editing job, along with kids, husband, house, and all the other jobs a mom has. Throughout Spring and Summer 2014 I kept telling myself that I just needed a vacation. I was certain if I could make it to August when my mom, sister, and I were taking my son and my nephew to Germany, everything would be fine.


Germany was great. I got to sleep in, didn’t have to do anything but eat, shop, explore, and spend time with family. It was completely stress free and wonderful. I still was a little tired and had my bottle of ibuprofen on hand at all times, but I really thought that if I could just relax for a little longer everything would go back to normal.


Two days before I was set to come home (because of work I had to come home a week before everyone else) we went to Berlin. I woke up excited, but with a weird pain in my chest. I popped a couple of pain pills and went on my way. As the day went on, as much as I was enjoying the city, the pain got worse and worse, spreading down my arm, and making it even hard to breathe. I thought I was having a heart attack. So of course I did the stupidest thing possible (I was no longer Wonder Woman anymore so I didn’t have to be smart), I didn’t tell anyone how much pain I was in or my rather alarming symptoms, and just went on with the next two days until they dropped me off at the airport and I gave my little boy a huge hug goodbye.


Then I went to the terminal and silently cried--in pain, but also in fear because something was seriously wrong and I was alone in a foreign country and what would happen if it really was a heart attack and we were over the Atlantic and I would never see anyone again and…          


I survived Munich, Reykjavik, and Denver Airports and was still alive when I finally made it home. But I was glad I’d planned one recovery day before I was due back at work. The morning after I got home I went to the doctor. After a few tests he determined that I was not having a heart attack, but was having a severe case of costochondritis--inflammation of the rib cage. I just needed rest, ibuprofen, and time.


Two weeks later when it still felt like someone was probing my chest with a knife blade, and when the fatigue returned with vengeance I was back in the doctor’s office. After several more tests I got the news: Fibromyalgia. The good news the doctor said was that overall I was fairly healthy and should live a long time. The bad news was that I would be in chronic pain and fatigue for the rest of my life.


And so I went through the next year struggling to get out of bed each morning, collapsing when I got home from work, not being able to focus on pretty much anything, and gaining almost 40 pounds because all I could do all day was sit at my desk and make it home to collapse on the couch.


By this time I just knew pain and fatigue were part of my life, and I really had no choice but to deal with it. But around August of 2015, something strange began to happen. I would get up to go to the bathroom during the workday and it felt like I was having an out of body experience. I was walking down the hall, but my head felt as if it was watching me walk and not really there with me. Also I could never stand up without getting extremely dizzy--even to the point of blacking out a few times.


It turns out I had a completely unrelated health problem--extremely low blood pressure (which my mom has so I probably should have been more aware of it, but I was no longer smart, remember?) My fibro was also getting worse, which meant I needed to stop using Dr. Pepper as my wake up fix because sugar was becoming a no no. It also meant no artificial sweeteners--so diet soda was out of the question (which was fine by me because, gross!). My doctor actually recommended a cup of coffee every morning, but absolutely no caffeine after 2pm.


I tried it for a few days--but I am not a coffee lover. I had to gag the stuff down which made me not want to do it, so I went back to my Dr. Pepper fixes just trying to have them not too late at night. I did this because let’s face it, changing your diet is hard, and it wasn’t like I had a deadly disease, so I mean who cared if I had a low quality of life? It was better that than giving up Dr. Pepper and Cinnamon Toast Crunch, right?


I made it through the holiday season with good days and bad. I would quit soda for a week and then need just one, which would completely addict me again. In January I actually quit for a whole month, but allowing myself one for my birthday threw me back into the caffeine mood. Soda was my drug of choice. I always joked, I could give up bread no problem, but Dr. Pepper--no way.


And then I got a new pain.


Turned out I had arthritis in my hip. So that was super fun. Again, not deadly, but my quality of life was just spiraling down down down. I couldn’t go out back and play soccer with the kids. I hated myself in any and all pictures. I could barely muster up the strength to go to my much needed GNO/Writing Group once a week. I just wanted to sleep.


It was then that my friend sent me a TED presentation on achieving your goals. It was exactly what I needed to watch. For some reason, that was the spark that made me want to change. I’d read enough to know that fibro could be managed (a lot better than I was managing it, even if I tried to tell myself that at least I was able to get out of bed most days--Sundays became my actual day of rest, sleeping pretty much all day to recover from the week.


It was time to start reaching my goals. To get my life back. I decided of all the lifestyle plans I could choose, Primal made the most sense to me. So, a little over two weeks ago I took the plunge and cut all processed foods, soda, added sugars, and grains from my diet. I eat healthy fats, lean meat, nuts, seeds, vegetables, and fruits. In two weeks I lost 10 pounds and 9 inches. That has been an added bonus. But the real benefit has been that I have gone from a full dose of pain meds daily, to only have ibuprofen once in the last two weeks. (Because once the fibro pain stopped, I realized that I had tennis (mouse) elbow.) But even that is survivable.


Point is, I’m loving the way I’m feeling, and I want to keep it up. So I am going to blog again--sometimes about my fibro journey, sometimes about editing/writing, and sometimes about my accomplishments, because after a year and a half of feeling like I had no life, I have one back--and I want to keep it. The doctor said I would live a long time--I plan to do it in comfort. I'm not Wonder Woman anymore, and that is okay. I just plan on being a pain free me for as long as I possibly can.

4 comments:

Marianne said...

Good day, Sabine. I'm an artist and writer, and I found your blog while searching the web about novellas. This post struck a personal chord for me, as about three years ago I was experiencing gut issues as well as severe pain in my stomach. I went on the Maker's Diet and for the first few weeks kept carbs and sugar out of my diet, and ate lots of healthy meats, fats, vegetables and berries. By the second week a lifelong hypoglycemia issue was completely gone, as well as the pain in my stomach. And for an added bonus, my energy level was so high that I felt like I was in my thirties again. Unfortunately, the stress level of my job at the time betrayed me to sugary treats again, and slowly I declined again.

Stress makes it difficult to keep our diets healthy, but I do notice a difference when I begin eating too much sugar and bread, and less vegetables. So I try to make a conscious effort to eat healthier now.

Blessings to you for a successful food journey and a healthier you.

Best wishes,

Marianne

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