Big 5

The Big 5 Challenge | Where Are You From

Where am I from?

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I am from eternal autumn wishes and crisp moonlight dreams, scented with lilacs and lily of the valley and smokey grills.

I am from cracked sidewalks and busy streets, broken glass bottles, bicycles and railroad tracks near open fields and factories. Cattail filled marshy land and geese overhead, scummy ponds and bountiful backyards with giant trees and sandboxes.

I’m from children running and dogs barking, friendly hellos and strange shouting voices. I’m from airplane drone and cicada song skies, early evening sirens and rumbling stereos, yet silently still afternoons.

I’m from the deep smells of yeast, fish, and smog, and of thunderstorms, heat, and snow. One way streets, skyscrapers, jay-walkers, city buses, run down apartments, and all the calm little routes along the calm little rows of homes.

I am from Milwaukee.

Where are YOU from?

http://acrossthebored.com/2014/02/19/the-big-5-where-are-you-from/

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30 Days

30 Days of Water

Yesterday my youngest brother issued a challenge to me and my other siblings – drink at least 64oz of water every day and stop drinking soda.

I’ve given up soda several times in my life.  Like that time I couldn’t use my arms, and that time my mouth fell off.  Ok, ok… all joking aside I really have given it up many times over the years, sometimes on purpose and sometimes it just happened, but what never happened afterwards was that giant weight loss everyone promises.

Well, this article my brother is throwing around says dehydration makes you fat.  I’m pretty sure that being fat makes you fat, but I guess we are going to find out.

Why is this even blog-worthy?  For one, I hate water.  Hate it.  Unless I’m swimming in it or bathing in it, I just don’t like it.  I think all my years of taking different medications has ruined water for me.  Hey, water, remember that month you tasted like aluminum?  What about that entire summer I could smell the stench of your flouride?  I’ll admit it’s not really water’s fault, but I still don’t like that bitch and I’d like to know if that can change.

Reason number two is that about a month ago I was admitted to the ER because the flu tried to kill me. You know what my number one problem was? Being dehydrated.  They got that iv going, gave me a fever reducer, and I was happy as hell in about an hour or so… nevermind the crazy feverish dreams.  Once home I started to get a bad headache again and drenched my insides with water.  Headache gone. Hmmm…..

And lastly, everyone says drinking water helps you lose weight.  Well, I’m fluffy enough to find out.

So here begins my 30 Days of Water.  I will update this post every day. Enjoy.

**Feb 24th:  I hate you.  I hate water.  I hate drinking water.  I don’t care about giving up soda.  But I hate you.

I was very excited to grab my water bottle and see how little water 64oz really is.  “This isn’t so bad,” I thought… until I did the math.

Wait… I have to drink two of these?

FML.

At the end of the day, I can say I really wanted that last ten ounces.  Bad. Weird.

**Feb 26th:  My friend just posted a picture of a piece of fruit and a bottle of water and told everyone that it jumpstarts her day.

FML.

Yeah, no, she has lost like a lot of weight.  She knows.  Fuck fuck fuck fuck.

Hello, Fiji bottle.

**Feb 27 This is actually getting easy…

**Feb 28 My water bottle is my new best friend and I can tell when I haven’t head enough. Yes, I’m actually craving water. This is so weird.

**Mar 3 I’ve been averaging 2 to 3 liters a day. I drink half as much coffee as I used to, and this I’d really weirding me out.

**Mar 4 – 6 I have a double ear infection and am taking antibiotics. Water tastes like hell and I’ve been choking it down… But definitely not meeting my goals. Ugh. I hate water again. And everything.

**Mar 8 Back on track! I need my water to wake up in the morning!! Holy crap, I am thirsty all the time and have to carry a bottle of water with me everywhere I go.

**Mar 10 I have to admit that I’ve been struggling with swelling in my hands since this whole water thing began, but my Fibro makes me swell all the time so who knows. I’m getting discouraged because I’m currently at my highest weight ever, yet I don’t miss soda one bit. I guess this is still a win?

**Mar 13 HOLY SHIT I JUST LOST 10 POUNDS.

Holy shit I have to admit I was wrong… O_o

**March 15 I’m down 5 more pounds. I can’t even believe it! And all this water and weightloss had invalid me to change my diet a bit. I have a shit ton of fresh veggies and fruits to eat my way through…

**Mar 17 I’m down another 5 pounds, and I’m starting to think someone is messing with my scale. I made my soon get on it to be sure it was working – it is.

I lost 20 pounds?? Holyshitballs!

I can feel my gut changing and getting smaller, but I can’t only credit water this time. I’ve been eating fruits, veggies, and lean meats like crazy.

Omg, I *really* have to admit I was wrong…

Fibromyalgia · life lessons

If I Could Go Back | How I’d Survive College With My Fibromyalgia

First things first – my fibro isn’t your fibro or anyone else’s fibro.  Mine is unique to me, much like anyone else’s is unique to them.  When it comes to functioning, I am at about 30%.  Some people do better than me and some do worse.  I do not intend this piece to be advice for everyone with fibro. This is simply how I, one individual with my own unique set of fibro symptoms, would have done things differently.

And secondly, I do believe adversity molds us into beautiful things and therefore should not be avoided. However, needless suffering is exactly that – needless.

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I dropped out of college in the winter of my sophmore year.  I had transferred from a prominent university to one of the state universities because I was worried about the cost.  Strangely enough, the cost still managed to do me in as my first university didn’t process the paperwork correctly and left me with all of my tuition due and no transcripts to hand over to the college I had already been attending for half of a year.

Yes, this really happened.

I was in bad shape.  The stress from attending classes I wasn’t supposed to be in yet because my former college didn’t send over the transcripts yet was getting to me.  Having to tell the professors over and over again why I was there was humiliating to say the least.  Worst of all was that I was looking at taking finals for classes in which I was not registered, and no one could seem to promise me that my efforts would be rewarded by being officially documented… so, I quit.  Just like that.

To be fair, I left because of the money and transcripts issue but I had been struggling well before that.  College, it turns out, is much different than highschool.  Much more energy is needed just to get to your classes, if you can find them, nevermind the financial burden of your books and food.  Add a full schedule plus a part time job, and even the healthiest people may falter.

But I wasn’t healthy.  I suffered infection after infection, and when there wasn’t an actual infection it still felt like there was one.  I was very often exhausted and fluish, vaguely achy, and randomly confused.  I had fibromyalgia, and I didn’t even know it.

Not that it would have mattered back then, what with the attitudes that we are just beginning to get away from.  Yet there is a part of me that wonders what would have happened had I known and been able to take advantage of all I have learned so far.  Would I have survived, excluding the financial issues?  Would I have a degree?

It’s not always a great idea to play in the past, but in this case I think it may help someone else, even if they aren’t as affected as I am/was. 
So, if I could go back and go to college with fibromyalgia instead of against it, here’s what I would do.

1.  I would find the medication that works best for me and use it every day to ensure the best sleep I could possibly get.  All of my symptoms are worse when the quality, not quantity, of my sleep is poor – especially the fog.

2. I would be sure to eat steadily and well throughout the day so as not to spike or lower my blood sugar, which also sends me into flares.  That means no skipping meals.  No poor college student stuff.  No ramen for lunch.  Yes, it’s that important.

3.  Proactive pain management.  I don’t think I’d survive college on some of the medications that I have tried. What works best for me now is simply being proactive – warding off pain before it even starts.  No, I’m not psychic and yes I still always have pain, but I do know my limits and what works for my body and what doesn’t. I know I need to rest often, something I never did in college.  I also have to limit my activities and mental output, something I surely never did in college.  I also need a good physical therapist/ massage therapist who understands that I will be with them for life because my condition is chronic – they need to know that they cannot fix me but that they can make my life more bearable.  Basically, less is more and I always have to think about how things will affect me an hour or a day later.  I have to work within my limits.

4.  Flare management.  Once the pain hits there is one rule – rest.  And keep my spirits high with music, funny stories/movies, and good conversations with good people.  Accept help. Rest.  Also, accept any hot tubs.

5.  I would talk with all of my professors.  I would hand them information on my condition from wikipedia or mayo clinic.  I would tell them that they never need to fear me making too many excuses for myself because the worst thing I do is make zero excuses for myself.  I push to hard and crash over and over and over again.  I’d ask them to help me recognise the signs that I am nearning exhaustion.  I’d make plans and rules for when I’m flaring or sick for makeup work and missing tests or exams. I’d have to find a way to explain to them the idea and experience of fibro fog…

So what does this all mean?  What exactly would my reimagined college experience look like? 

I would lower my class load to the bare minimum needed to be qualified as a full time student and, if it became too much, I would consider part time status. 

I would never take an early morning class and always schedule rest time in between each if not every other class.

I would not work. 

I would go to physical therapy twice a week and be as consistent with my diet as I possibly could.

Bedtime would be my religion, and my social activities would be a bit limited, but my friends would learn that I need to stay in a bit more than out. 

Lastly, I’d nurture my flares instead of fighting them and I would never ever feel guilty about it.  I would rest, rest, rest until I felt better.  It might be a day, a week, or a month.  But that’s the way it is.

Seems drasctic for an 18 year old, doesn’t it?  We are supposed to be full of life and potential, doing all the things, experiencing everything.  No one tells you what to do if you aren’t so healthy, though. This is the only way I could see myself surviving 4 years.  The other way, the way I did it before, the way that works for everyone else? I barely survived a year that way.  I’d take 4 years over 1 any time.

And that’s what I would do if I could go back.

Uncategorized

In My Closet

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I live in my grandmother’s house.  I know just how everything sounds, smells, feels; I could walk through the house blindfolded and never hurt myself. I spent time here as a baby and a child, lived here as a teen, and finally came back again when my whole world fell apart.  But I never thought the house would be mine.

It’s not that I never thought my Nana wouldn’t pass.  She was 92 and, quite frankly, ready to go.  Her mind and wit were sharp but her body was weak and her heart had been missing my grandfather for over 20 years.  She had told me numerous times that she had seen all she wished to see, tasted all she wished to taste… She was done with life. While that confused me, I somehow understood.

And so it happened that four years ago my Nana passed. It broke my heart. 

The four days later my own mother passed, and I’ve never been the same since.

I don’t really have any words that can accurately explain the moments, days, months, and years afterwards.  I remember small things, pieces of feelings, little snapshots here and there.  I don’t even know how I got to four years later.  And then suddenly, the day beore my 36th birthday, I “woke up” and saw things for the first time in ages.

I’ve been living in a fog.  I’ve been neglecting myself. I’ve been ignoring my own needs for way too long out of grief and sadness about things that I have no control over. When they died, I sort of let myself die, too.  Looking around my house, specifically my bedroom, I saw nothing but devastation.

“Stacy… what are you doing?”

It was a real question.  I honestly wanted to know.

Sure, I had hidden it well. But if you opened my own bedroom closet you would see nothing of my own.  It was full from the bottom to the top, side to side, of all of my Nana’s things.  And, therefore, my bedroom was simply covered with my own clothes.

It was then that I decided my birthday present to myself would be a closet.

So I opened that closet.  I took down all 23 boxes of her shoes, and I cried.  I took out all of her clothes, and I cried some more.  I took out the knick-knacks and the papers, the files, the boxes, the rubberbands and the pens, the calendars, the boxes of hair and the baby shoes, the pillows, the blankets, the towels and the purses. 

I took it all out.

And then I crawled right into that empty closet, sat down, and cried.

I howled.

It was gutteral and piercing – I didn’t even recognize the sound as my own until I put my hand on my chest and physically felt it rumbling and leaving my body.  If I could have seen it, I imagine it would have been inky, angry black and rotten, a combination of smokey regretful fumes and putrid grief-infused oils dripping with an acidy sadness, wrapped in a beautful sheer sheath called pride.

It was like a ghost had left my body.

I sat there still and quiet on the bottom of the empty closet floor, feeling as empty as the closet itself and bit afraid of what I had just done… and then I thought about simply closing the sliding doors and never coming out ever again.

I looked around at my room.  It was in shambles. “So this is what you think of yourself, Stacy?  This is what you think you deserve? Don’t you think they would want better for you, for you to be happy? Go make yourself happy.”

And so I got up out off that empty closet floor.  I lifted a beautiful dress off my bedroom door hook.  I gently placed it on a hanger.  And I hung it inside my closet.

A feeling of free overwhelmed me and I was suddenly inspired.  I decided that this closet was only to be filled with things that served me well and made me happy.

So I went through all of my clothes, shoes, and other personal items and got rid of everything that didn’t serve me well. I was left with three shirts, a pair of pants, and three pairs of shoes. It was frightening.

The next day I donated all of the things – both mine and my grandmother’s.  As I cried tears of both freedom and sadness I couldn’t help noticing the connection between my closet and my life.  Purging things that did not serve me well sounded like a great idea.  And so I did it. Just like that.

It’s been a few weeks since the great closet and life purge.  I remember feeling very scared that once I got rid of all the things that I didn’t need that I would never be full again – both my closet or my life.  But the truth is that once I stopped holding on to everything out of fear of having nothing, it suddenly became much easier to find the things I actually needed and wanted.

In a few short weeks I’ve rebuilt my wardrobe on a shoestring budget via the local thrift stores – the same stores I donated all of our belongings to. Which means I see our stuff lined up waiting to be sold as I shop for new, better fitting, happier things.  It’s not easy. I almost cried when I saw someone buying my grandmother’s shoes, but I know that those shoes will serve someone else much better than they will serve me sitting in my closet. 

I’ve also rebuilt my mind.  Nothing stays there that I don’t want anymore. I question everything that enters the same way I would an article of clothing making its way into my closet.  Does this look good on me?  If it doesn’t, it doesn’t come in.  End of story.  I don’t do anything out of guilt or pride or fear anymore.  And it feels amazing.

People are constantly telling me how nice I look lately and commenting on how I just seem happier.  It’s true.  I am happier.  Putting effort into the things that make you happy rather than all the things that are weighing you down (things that aren’t even yours!) will do that to a person.

And I remember that each and every time I open my closet.  Which is at least twice a day now, in case you were wondering.

And that is my #sundayconfession