Sunday, December 9, 2007

How was your day?

Sometimes everything just seems to go right. The stars just line up and good luck follows you no matter where you go or what you do. Or so I've heard.

This was not one of those days.

I set my alarm this morning, so I'd be sure to have plenty of time to get ready for one of my favorite traditions: the Raymond family Young Ladies' Tea, which is scheduled once a year around Christmastime. My lovely and talented sister-in-law Patty arranges this awesome event each year, and it's always a ton of girly fun.

This year's tea took place at 1:00 in the afternoon, so the fact that I had to set my alarm to be ready should give you some idea of how pitiful my life is on a day-to-day basis. Anytime I need to be up before noon, I always have to set my alarm. It's possible that I might wake up before that, but I can't count on it.

But this morning, I was awake for several hours before my alarm went off...which should be a good thing. Unfortunately, the reason why I was awake on this occasion was that I was curled up in the fetal position, wracked with pain. I'm not exactly sure why - usually I can trace my most severe fibromyalgia flares back to instances of physical exertion or unusual stress. For example, I had some nasty muscle cramps & pain in my right arm starting this past Tuesday night, which were easily explained by the potato peeling & mashing I had done earlier in the evening for our post-Thanksgiving turkey feast. Not exactly weight lifting or anything, but for me, that's a lot of exercise.

But I was feeling much better by Friday, and didn't do anything else strenuous all weekend. I was itching to finally put up the Christmas tree, but I purposely didn't so I'd have a better chance of feeling well enough to party with the ladies on Sunday afternoon. I've learned to plan out my life in this fashion, trying not to schedule activities too close together so I have plenty of time to rest & recuperate between events. I did everything I could to ensure that I'd be feeling up to the 40-minute drive to Patty's and the frivolity that would ensue.

So, back to this morning... It took me about 40 minutes to unclench myself, and then I was faced with the trickiest task of the day - trying to get out of bed and into the bathroom without falling or otherwise hurting myself. When this happens to me on weekdays, my usual plan of action involves as much stretching while still in bed as my bladder can tolerate, and then a lot of trial & error. Sometimes leaning on the bedpost helps; other times my arms are far too sore to bear my weight. I have to make a few trial attempts at standing, until I'm satisfied that I've at least got a chance at holding myself upright. If I succeed, and I can manage to make it the 6 steps to the bathroom door, I'm usually good.

Other times, though, like this morning, I'm lucky enough to have Mark nearby when I'm trying to get up. I usually don't even have to ask for help - I think it's the soft sobbing & whimpering noises that tip him off. It typically takes about 10 minutes or so for him to gently extract me from the bed and guide me to the bathroom - this morning, I almost fell when I stepped on a piece of stray cellophane wrapping on the floor. I couldn't see it, since it was clear, but it felt like I had stepped on a jagged rock or some broken glass. That's pretty common with fibromyalgia, I understand - my pain threshold is just completely out of whack. A few tiny crumbs in the bed feels like sleeping on pebbles to me. I call it the "Princess and the Pea" factor. Whatever the cause, it gets really annoying sometimes, especially when I'm trying to concentrate on something important, like remaining upright. Luckily, Mark was standing by to catch me this time.

After I made my way to the bathroom & took care of business, I pulled myself back upright using the countertop, and turned to see myself in the mirror. I looked about as good as I felt: wan, unkempt, cheeks bright red from exertion, eyes bright red from tears. I looked at my hair, which was particularly askew from all my tossing & turning. I picked up my hairbrush, only to release it almost immediately with the realization that I couldn't lift my arm above my shoulder, so brushing my hair would be impossible.

It had already occurred to me that it would be unlikely that I'd be able to drive myself to the tea party, between the restricted motion and the muscle relaxers & pain meds I'd need just to get dressed. This is a common problem for me, so I had already made contingency plans for Mark to drive me if this happened. But it wasn't until I was staring at my reflection in the mirror that it dawned on me that I would never be able to get myself dressed & presentable in time for the party, regardless of whether or not I was in too much pain to have fun.

That's when I lost it. It's not unusual for my pain to cause a few tears, as it already had earlier this morning, but it's never so bad that it makes me sob uncontrollably. As Mark commented knowingly when he came to check on me, it's always the frustration that really brings the tears. And he's absolutely right. There was also sadness & disappointment that I would once again miss a family function, particularly one that is always so enjoyable. But the overwhelming feeling is always frustration: at myself, at circumstances, but mostly at this disease that has robbed me of so many things in my life. I think that, for the most part, I handle my condition and it's consequences & limitations with considerable aplomb. But days like today, which luckily only occur every so often, just push me a bit too far.

As if I didn't feel useless enough, I was unable to stop crying long enough to phone Patty to tell her I couldn't make it to the party. Every time I calmed myself down & picked up the phone, the tears would start all over again. Like I wasn't already embarrassed enough at having to cancel plans yet again - now I couldn't even pull myself together long enough to speak for myself. I finally asked Mark to call her for me, which he was happy to do. Needless to say, dignity was in short supply around here this morning.

Of course, Patty was very gracious about my cancellation and expressed her concerned for me, and I'm sure she knows that I had my heart set on spending time with her & the rest of the girls today. This is not the first time I've had to cancel plans with Patty, so I don't think she was too surprised to get the call. I just wish I had been able to express my regrets personally. Well, more than anything, I wish I had been able to actually attend in the first place, but it just wasn't in the cards today.

This is the part where I say that I'm really not feeling that sorry for myself, and that I know things aren't as bad as they sometimes seem. I had a bad day, and it was upsetting, but I still have so many blessings in my life, not the least of which is the love & support of a wonderful, caring husband. Mark was right by my side to help me up, both literally and figuratively, and I would never take that for granted. Within moments of my morning meltdown, he had me laughing and smiling, which was no mean feat. There are a million reasons why I love him, and days like this make me love him just a little bit more.

I could go on, but I think I need to stop typing for awhile & rest my arms. It starts all over again in the morning, and I'd like it to be a better morning than I had today.

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