Time. Time flying. What a concept. Indeed.
Time’s been flying by for me this past few weeks. Whether or not I’ve been having fun while it’s been doing so… well, now, that is the question, isn’t it?
It’s been about 5 weeks since I’ve published a blog post, although it’s only been a few hours since I’ve composed one – or two, or three – in my head. I have lots of things in my brain that want to get out, to get into a blog post, but my body has not been cooperating in the follow-up lately.
For those of you who’ve been following my blog for any length of time, you already know that I am in current possession of a body that took off on its own adventure just over 5 years ago, and as such, sometimes it takes little road trips of its own while the rest of me wants to go somewhere else and do something entirely different than whatever it has in mind at any given time.
For those of you who are new to reading this blog, or who don’t know me very well in “real life,” suffice it to say that I have this body that does its own thing on occasion. Actually, it seems to do it quite frequently since it started this “doing its own thing” back in 2010. My challenge with having no health insurance, and trying to manage these physical issues without it, has been no secret, and I, for one, was extremely happy to have President Obama’s contribution to health care in this country in the form of the Affordable Care Act pass into law and provide people like me with a reasonable option to “no health care coverage” even when it has seemed like I was climbing a mountain in trying to get some of that health care to actually take place. (It was by no means the ACA’s fault that I struggled with the challenge of an inadequate and incompetent doctor, and an antiquated medical facility system – I completely blame that particular doctor and the medical clinic he works for not being responsible health care providers.)
I’m not typically a complainer. I don’t like to talk about the physical things that are “wrong” with me. I don’t like to discuss what I can’t physically accomplish any more. I don’t want to talk about stuff that has no benefit to me or anyone else. I intensely dislike talking about bodies, specifically my body, that don’t work correctly. But what I do know is that by telling my story in other areas of my life, others have told me that they themselves are encouraged in their own lives by the openness with which I talk about things that have happened in my life: the house foreclosure, the bankruptcy, the car being repossessed, the unemployability of being an older adult, the deaths of my traveling companions, and whatever other daily obstacles have jumped in my path. So now I’m here to try and put some words on paper, or fingers to the keyboard, and fill in some blank spaces from this past month.
After I fell in April, I knew I was going to be in for a long recovery. The emergency room doctor said that sprains similar to what I had done to my ankle typically take six to twelve months for a full healing. I am not a patient person. I wanted that recovery to be done in a few weeks, not a bunch of months. So here it is, just over four months, and I think it should be healed by now. To tell you that it isn’t will not surprise most of you. To tell you that I’m very impatient with my progress won’t shock those of you who know me. To tell you that I’m going to try harder to just let it go and just let it heal… well, let me say this, to quote Yoda: “Do. Or do not. There is no try.” So, throw out that word “try” and put in these words instead: I am letting it go. I am allowing my recovery to take whatever time it is going to take. I am focusing on how far my ankle has come since I hurt it in the fall. I am walking as much as is possible. I am allowing my ankle to recover.
Having said all that, I am also here to tell you that my physical body is not well. It hasn’t been well for five years. It wasn’t well before that, but it was manageable. Manageable because it was just one “big” thing (fibromyalgia) that I learned how to live with. Then came the thyroid issues; they were managed with medication. The stuff that plowed into me all at once five years ago was overwhelming at the time: ulcerative colitis, diabetes, high blood pressure, high cholesterol and triglycerides.
A little historical recap: I started taking medications for all except the UC because the meds were not generics, costing about $500 a month, and my entire retirement check was only about $650. Besides the fact that the success rate on that medication is only about 50%, the cost was prohibitive. All this was happening three years before ACA went into effect so I had no health care coverage, no prescription drug coverage. If it wasn’t a $5 generic drug, I wasn’t going to be taking it. I did a bunch of research (thank you, Google!) and discovered that I could control my intestinal symptoms by carefully paying attention to what I ate. Since I lived in a tiny trailer at the time, with no fixed address, changing my eating style to vegan seemed to be the best option. With no animal proteins of any kind going into my body, the UC symptoms settled down and I was able to go on living a somewhat “normal” existence, whatever that looked like. I continued to take meds for the blood pressure and diabetes but found I was “allergic” to the statins for the high cholesterol so I discontinued taking those. Now, five years later, things have heated up again, and my body appears to be off on a new, or maybe a continuing, adventure.
These days, most days, I don’t feel very well. I have no energy. I’m tired all the time. If I drive an hour to go somewhere, I’m exhausted for days. Seeing my friends wears me out. Meeting new people really wears me out. It takes me forever to get out of bed in the morning. Then it takes another “forever” to get showered and dressed. Add to that, getting some food into my body sometimes takes more out of me than it seems worth it to get some nourishment into me. If that even makes sense. The weird thing is, I probably look fairly “normal” on the outside. Other than an obvious limp due to the sprained ankle, and maybe some baggy eyes because I don’t sleep well, I’m sure I look just like the next senior citizen pushing a grocery cart up the aisle looking for something I can easily fix for dinner tonight.
I have a doctor’s appointment this month to go over the blood work I had done last week, and figure out what to do with this body of mine that’s off on its own new and/or continuing adventure. The doctor is one I used to see back in the days when I was working and had health insurance; he was awesome back then, and I’m trusting he still is. He’s one of the few medical people I’ve ever had that actually work with you to resolve what’s going on and I’m looking forward to a little resolution right about now; so even though I’m not up to par right now, not even up to half par if there is such a thing, in a few weeks, I might be better. Or not. At least, I’m looking forward to some answers.
And none of this is meant as a complaint. I’m not complaining. Just attempting to tell it like it is for me, most days.
For those of us who are challenged with physical issues that are not obvious, it’s a constant battle between what we look like and what we feel like. We feel like crap; we look like we’re okay. Since we look like we’re fine, the people around us tend to treat us like we’re fine. There’s nothing wrong with that, that I can see, anyway; it just means it’s up to us to make sure we speak up when we can’t walk down the sidewalk as fast as they are, when we can’t go out and do things that we used to be able to, when we need help bringing in the bags of groceries, when we need to take a nap or rest a bit, or when we need anything, anything at all. People don’t read minds. None of us do. (I know I tried reading minds in my first marriage and it didn’t work very well then and it still isn’t working very well now; so it isn’t a leap of faith or anything to think that no one else reads minds either.)
I’m not sure where I’m going with this but maybe it’s just to say that we’re all in this thing we call “life” together and if there’s something we need to make our lives a little better, we need to speak up for ourselves. We need to take care of ourselves. If we have people in our lives who are not obviously outwardly “afflicted” (don’t hate me for that word; I don’t know what other word to use. If you know of one, please leave me a comment below and tell me! Please!), maybe we could be a little more open to their needs, a little more kind, a little more understanding. And if we meet people on the street, in the grocery store, while getting some fast food, at the motor vehicle department, walking down the sidewalk, pass them with kindness and care. Give them a smile. Say hello. Ask if we can open the door for them. Compliment them on the color of their shirt/sweater/purse/whatever. Who knows? Even if they don’t need the extra help, a little kindness can be contagious. I’m all for doing it.
Pass it on. Give it a go. Let me know what you think and how it works out for you… and I’ll let you know how it’s going for me.