Tuesday, March 31, 2009

Taking care...

Over the course of the last 10 years or so -- is it really that long? -- since my husband's first injury and now, just two years or so since his actual diagnosis with RSD, I've done a really good job of keeping it all together. Or at least that's what I've thought.

Friends will say things like: I can't believe how well you cope, or, He's so lucky to have you. While really I can't get past the part where it's his life that's hard. My life is great, I have my health, I can go to work every day, I can get out of bed, I can go to the store and drive my car. I've really gotten almost tired of the feeling that people are worried about me when, let's be serious, if there's anything at all wrong with me it would probably just be the guilt. You know, the part of you that feels bad when you leave the house, the part that hurts when you are able to hike the hill and he's at home just waiting for you to come back.

Is it really possible to guilt yourself into physical illness? Sometimes I do think so. If for no other reason than the horrible sleeplessness that's really taken over my night-time. I'm not sure why I can't sleep, I just know that it's difficult. Oh, sure, as soon as I lay down I fall quickly, but that's a result of sleep deprivation. I am so exhausted, it's not unusual for me to fall asleep before even the 8 o'clock shows are over. Then I'll wake up somewhere before midnight and, boom, that was it. Now I'm awake. I'll play around on the computer, maybe sew, lay down off and on, but really no success. By about 5 in the morning I'm starting to get really tired, and then I may be able to get in an hour of sleep, but when I get in the shower I just know that I'm going to be struggling through my day at work.

History tells me that this sleeplessness is a symptom, and yes, I know that it is. I probably even know what it's a symptom of. And for this reason I have finally sought some help. So today was my second session with a counselor, someone my general practitioner recommended. It is amazing how hard it is for me to talk about myself and even how guilty I feel going to this person. I haven't confessed this act to my husband yet, and I don't know that I will. He feels bad enough as it is, he shouldn't have to worry about me. I'm not clear how long I will see this person, how long it might take for me to wake up and figure out how to get back on an even slope (though isn't the definition of a slope a slant?). How am I supposed to help him when I'm sliding downward myself? And his energies really would be best spent taking care of himself and certainly not worrying about me.

So I've begun to make sure I'm "taking care" of myself and today the assignment given to me was to think a few times during each day about what it is that I'm feeling. Really, truly ask myself: How am I feeling right now? And then I'm supposed to write down my responses and keep track until my next visit. Well, this is enlightening. I didn't even get halfway down the road when I realized that most times my answer will probably be "mournful." Even the word saddens me, more than I already am.

I guess I'm mourning the loss of so many things that it's been hiding from me that this is what I'm feeling. The loss of our bright future together, the loss of a love life, the loss of having someone take care of me occasionally, the loss of innocence at the world (there are bad things that happen and it's been proven now), the loss of who I was before. And those are just the first ones that come to mind when I think of me. I certainly have a whole other couple of lists related to my husband and my children.

Oh, woe is me, I can't believe I went from the perkiest girl in class to this! But this is why I've started seeing this person. I believe I can get back to that perky girl (oh, yeah, I guess I'm no longer a "girl" -- age has a tendency to take away that moniker!).

So it only took me to my third blog post to get to the real truth of why I've started blogging. I need to journal, but I hate to write by hand. Putting my thoughts out in a blog is a bit risky, as who knows what others will think, if anyone will really read this, but it is an opportunity to get down somewhere -- really, of course, out of me -- what's going on and how it makes me feel. Cleansing really.

I promise to not dwell forever on the sad. Please check back as things get better, as I know they will. Then I will spend more time talking about my husband's illness, how it came about, what the diagnosis is, and what it means for him. Because, after all, I do believe that this is the best use of my space. I have been so enriched reading the blogs of other RSD sufferers and their spouses, I can only hope to achieve maybe half of what they have for me. It's just great to know we're not alone.

Saturday, March 28, 2009

Half a century...

It's the morning of my husband's 50th birthday. He and I see birthdays much differently -- he's not excited to be here, while when I hit my 50th I was actually glad. It's not a popular viewpoint, but long ago while searching for a birthday card for my mom I ran across a saying that has stuck with me, and it definitely changed my outlook on birthdays. The card went something like: "You're having another birthday? Guess that's better than the alternative."
Seriously, what's the big deal? When asked, I always tell people how old I am. I am fifty. I want to be able to say I have lived fifty years and I am proud of it. I have done a lot in my life, things just get added to the list without me really paying attention, but at the end of the day when I look back, I really am grateful to have had the opportunity for each and every piece. There are many who have gone on before us who maybe didn't make it to fifty. Perhaps thirty was their last year. Can I imagine not having had the last twenty years? What a sad thought.
I am looking forward to the next ten years, I believe I've come to a point where I will now make the things happen I've always wanted to do. Up until now I really have focused on making my children's lives better -- that is, after all, my responsibility as their parent. But as each one of them has left the house and moved on to become responsible adults, I have been given a little more freedom. I will always be a part of their lives -- maybe more than they'd like. :-) But there are days that go by when I don't hear from them and, though I find it hard to not always call, I realize that they have lives, too, and that it's good to let go a little bit.
Don't get me wrong, I have five kids to pick from and so I can let up to five days go by without talking to each, but still have talked to one of them. I believe I've stacked the deck. I've made the best of this life. I have wonderful kids who are all very giving, responsible, loving adults, and they always make time to talk to me when I call, and I just need to give them the space to have their lives.
Happy birthday to everyone having a birthday today -- it's a great thing!

Monday, March 9, 2009

A new day...

Having always been told to journal to relieve stress, tension, as a way to ease these in life, setting up this blog is going to be my way to do it! I hate to write by hand, I've tried many times, but typing is such an easy thing and hopefully it will make it easy to maintain.

I've visited other blogs and wonder at the people behind them. I know that reading what they go through and how their lives adjust and morph over time helps me in my own life. Knowing that I have a number of topics to talk about, some of which could help others also, has prompted me to begin a blog of my own.

As with everyone, I will probably write about the everyday, the usual, the mundane, but I also plan to share information about what it's like to be in my fifties, still have a child at home (she's going to be here for at least 7 more years!), be concerned about the status and well-being of my last remaining parent (in her 80's, working through more breast cancer) as well as the status of my husband (in his 50's, disabled as the result of a medical condition brought on by a brutal animal attack).

Not one to dwell on the negative, I may also find time to talk about volunteerism, gardening, sewing, reading, just to name a few of my hobbies.

Hopefully someone out there finds these entries helpful, just knowing they're not alone, that we're all dealing with different issues and that in some strange, untelling way, each and every one of us has a life that is normal in its own right.