I have to say, my friends, that we are impressed with our son. He has, somehow, managed to learn how to patiently wait while one or another of his parents runs endless errands. Yesterday it was my grand tour of doctors’ offices, and J spent the morning with Dada, running errands and getting a treat by having a sit-down breakfast at a diner, and going to the library. The rest of the morning was rather dull; it included going to pay taxes, and stopping by Dada’s office. It was almost noon when we arrived at my last appointment. J waited patiently, and Dada dozed off next to him.
The morning, after a brief eruption involving J’s confusion about when his sitters will be coming over to cook dinner for him, went smoothly. We understand that J wants to hang out with people closer to him in age, but insisting on seeing them Tuesday when they can come on Wednesday isn’t going to make things easier for anyone. So we had a brief, and intense, back and forth about this, but we managed to make it through unscathed. (And my blood pressure was actually quite nice when measured at the first doctor’s office, and positively picture-worthy at the second.)
The rest of the day went by quietly. Dada returned to work, J relaxed in his TV room, and I fell asleep on the couch until J gently nudged me because his ESP (or his hypersensitive hearing) told him the timer for his afternoon snack had arrived. The only out-of-the-ordinary activity was his desire to get his band-aids on, but I know that was because a) he’d been upset about the sitters being scheduled for the next night, and b) it had been a long morning.
Today he is happy. He was up very early yesterday (because he knew we were going to the doctors,) but today he was up a little later and happily went back to bed when I said “we’re just going to have coffee so Dada can go to work.” Big smile, thumbs up, lights out… He didn’t emerge until nearly eight.
Of course, after having enough blood drawn to alarm the biggest chicken shit that ever lived (namely me!,) the doctor ran all sorts of tests from every angle possible. The conclusion? Ah, my friends…it’s fibromyalgia. Thank goodness it’s not SLE, or MS, or MG, or RA, or ALS…not that the pain I’m often in isn’t an absolute mess for me, but I can deal with this.
I am not now, nor have I ever been, a “pill” person. It’s not that I don’t love medical science. Au contraire, my friends…I trust doctors. Some doctors, of course, are better than others, and they actually take the time to listen to what is going on, and why you’re concerned. Other doctors are a little less invested, and it’s harder to communicate with them. I got lucky this time around, and they are being very exhaustive about everything they’re checking.
For starters, the iron level in my blood is quite alarming. Or it WAS before I started taking iron supplements twice a day. When I say “alarming” I mean “the specialist called the clinic so my PCP would see me immediately!” They’re poking me everywhere. No stone is being left unturned…no part of my body is being ignored. The anemia was bad enough that they have to rule out internal bleeding so they’re doing every test imaginable to determine if that’s a problem. By mid-October we will know if there are any major issues that should be surgically addressed.
In the meantime, we keep going. I take the iron. I eat well. I exercise, and I go about my business. I’ve been told, quite kindly by a doctor closer to me in age, that I need to be nicer to myself. I could tell she wasn’t scolding me. I could tell she knows. She knows about J. She told me that fibromyalgia is not uncommon among primary caregivers for elderly parents, sick spouses, disabled children. She told me that we often put everyone else’s needs ahead of our own, and our bodies seem to hyper-react to this. There are pills, she said, but you don’t look like a pill person, and I think you want to work on making it better through other means.
She’s right. This thing (that, thankfully, now has a name) will stick around for a very long time, and I have to learn how to deal with it as best suits our situation rather than try to hide it behind a pill. Maybe, somewhere down the line, that will change, but for now this is the way it goes.
I will get my exercise when J gets his exercise, and I will take my breaks while J relaxes. I will stop doing EVERYTHING as quickly as I can, and I will focus on doing what I can when it’s reasonable. I will take walks, read, do the chores, work with J on the things that J needs to work on, and let J do what he wants to do independently. Dada and I want to get old. We are no longer young, but we are not “old” yet…and we want to make sure we transition into being elderly in the best way possible.
Oh, it’s not going to be easy. I don’t think I’m wired for concerted idleness. I grew up among women who would sit quietly doing other chores as one of them read the paper out loud. The household of my childhood was a household of productivity that, to the hustle and bustle of the outside world, looked slow and dull. I don’t have to move a mountain a day, but I am used to constant activity that yields significant results without creating a whirlwind of noise and chaos.
I will try to be better. I have promised myself this. I want to feel better. I really do.
So…here we go. Let’s be nicer to ourselves. We DO do a lot. And J, who has learned patience, can maybe help me learn that I have to be patient with myself when I cannot do all I would like to…