the roller coaster of chronic pain

 

I live with chronic pain.  While my husband doesn’t physically have chronic pain, he too has to live with it. He lives with mine. Neither of us got manuals on how to live with this incredibly unfortunate disease, and sometimes that shows.  We think we are in a good rhythm and then our roller coaster cars drop from the highest peak and take us screaming through tight turns and unexpected plunges.

We just want off the roller coaster.  Amen?

From my perspective, here’s where my ticket to ride stems from:

  • I think I can handle more, so I take on more.  And then … I can’t handle it.  I panic.  Then I get sad.  Usually my over-commitment comes in the form of wanting to bring in more money so my husband doesn’t pass out from exhaustion.
  • I feel like I have already given up so much of what used to make up my “normal” life, that I cling to the last few things I do/have until my knuckles turn white.
  • My joy can be depleted on day 3 of immense pain – and then I am a grumpasaurus rex to my family, complete with drooling and teeth baring.

And here’s where my husband’s ticket to ride comes into play:

  • He wants to be helpful but he. is. exhausted.  He is working full-time (and then some for extra money), he cooks, he makes lunches, he does laundry, he cleans, he mows, he does repairs on the house, and sometimes he actually gets to go out with a friend for guy time.
  • He never knows what kind of day I’m having, therefore he never knows what he will be walking in the door to find after work, which is totally not fair and makes him put on a defensive suit somewhere between his truck and the door to the house.
  • He sees my tennis match of emotions (back and forth, back and forth) and he so badly wants me to just figure out that I’m different now and I have to act in accordance with my limitations.

Hold the phone.
I have limitations?

For the love of all things chronic – if you’re reading this and you suffer from chronic pain, YOU HAVE LIMITATIONS!  And guess what, if you’re reading this and you don’t suffer from chronic pain, YOU HAVE LIMITATIONS!

Why do I sometimes think I can do it all?  And I mean all.  It is usually about the time I am half-way through my grocery list in the store when the fatigue slams me, my feet start to spasm, and I have this overwhelming feeling to lay down on the packages of toilet paper on the shelf when I realize — “oh crap, I did it again.”

I want off this ride.
I didn’t ask to ride.
I want this ticket revoked!

Tough circus peanuts.  These are the cards I have been dealt.  I, Ann Skaehill, have fibromyalgia and a weak immune system.  I think it’s fair to say, this roller coaster is here to stay and it’s time for me to grow up and accept it.  I need to appreciate and care for my family FIRST before I fill my schedule with things that make me feel good about myself.  I need to be grateful for medications that can help with a few issues and TAKE THEM.  (Lord have mercy, medication is a whole blog post in itself!)

I’m getting there, but I’m not there yet.  I think if I can embrace this new reality more firmly, then the turns and drops on the roller coaster won’t be so alarming or drastic.  For me, or my husband.

Two days ago my 10-year-old son said, “Hey mom?  You know how sometimes you just get so mad at me for things I do or should have done?  … Well, maybe you can start giving me a sign that I should go in another room.  Why don’t you blink four times and I’ll take off running!”

Ouch.

Reality check.  When I open my mouth to speak, my son is flinching and expecting the worst.  That is a huge problem that I have addressed over the past 2 days with him.  Grumpasaurus rex may still appear from time to time, but I’m working towards her extinction.  Ain’t nobody got time for the damage a dinosaur makes in the modern age.

Today is a new day, and the Bible tells us in Psalm 30:5 that joy comes in the morning.  Embrace your clean slate, and make wise choices today.  First on my list? Washing all the sheets in the house and ensuring my family has good food to eat.  What should be first on your list today?

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don’t be a copycat…foo!

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If Mr. T could sum up this bible verse, this is how I think he would say it,

“Don’t be a copycat, yo! I pitty the foo who doesn’t use what God gave ‘um!  Don’t be lookin’ at whut yo neighbor’s got – look at what YOU got!”

If Mr. T ever returns my calls, I’ll let you know for sure how he interprets this scripture passage.  But since he has like 27 body guards and a pit bull, I’m guessing he isn’t interested in chillaxin with me.  It’s cool.  I don’t need Mr. T, I already have peeps! (this is another perfect example of my sweet husband shaking his head and wondering if he should laugh… or run.)

When I read this verse is makes me cringe — which typically means there’s something I’m doing wrong or there’s something that I know I could be doing better.  Here are the top 3 ways I interpret this verse and see myself screwing it up:

1. BUY IT: Ads are everywhere.  Even on people’s clothes.  Buy this!  Feel GREAT about yourself and buy yourself this new pair of jeans … because you’re worth it!  This technology will make your life so much better!  Don’t miss this show, everyone is talking about it!  Buy your kids this expensive brand of athletic clothes – even Pro Athletes are wearing this stuff!

    • “Don’t copy the customs and behaviors of this world…” —> riiiiiiiight.  So, don’t buy a new car when mine starts to smell like a tween boy (and all of this little friends too)?  Don’t go get those jeans with the bling on the pockets so I look like every other cute mom in town?  Don’t get my TEN year old son an iPhone even though his entire middle school is filled with kids who have iPhones, iPads and everything else?  Sigh.  But…… I don’t want to be WEIRD!
    • Are you a Christian?  Yeah – you’re going to be weird not simply because of what you believe, but because of how your beliefs are telling you to live.  Tithe 10% of your income.  Give until it hurts, and then keep giving.  Feed the hungry.  Serve the poor.  Love your neighbor (yeah, the weird dude with tats and a Mohawk).
    • So are you doing these things or are you copying the customs and behaviors of this world?  I know… I have work to do too.

2. EVERYONE thinks this way!: I am completely disappointed in myself because I am about to do exactly what I said I would NEVER do when I was 13.  I’m about to quote my mother.  Can we have a moment of silence please?……  Thank you.  My mom used to say, “Why would you ever want to be like everyone else?”  Dangit.  She’s right.  Clearly with this demented sense of humor, God never created me to be like everyone else anyway.  Do all your friends say, “I’ll pray for you” but they probably never do?  Do they judge the moms who aren’t blinged out and talk trash about them behind their backs?  Do they talk about “that kid” and shelter their kids from her instead of being the weird one and trying to reach out to her parents?

    • “Let God transform you by changing the way you think…” —> But I like how I think.  It has worked for me for all these years, so why change now?  Has it?  Really?  You never feel guilty after you gossip?  You never wonder what the frumpy mom is really like?  You’re proud of teaching your kids that they are better than everyone else because they “never” have behavior issues?
    • Are you a Christian? We already discovered that you’re going to be weird – so deal with it so we can move on.  I’m waiting….. DEAL!   Ok, I can see it’s going to take awhile for that to sink in so let’s just keep going.  When you change the way you think, and what you deem important in your heart, your behavior will instinctively follow.  If you’re a Christian you should be constantly picking apart the things that Jesus said … why?  Because you’re a FOLLOWER of Jesus Christ!  If you follow Katy Perry, you know everything about her —- right?!?!  So why don’t you give Jesus that same amount of attention???  He tells us how to live by God’s life rules, but it’s up to us to let those rules change the way we think.

3. If only I could see God’s plans!:  I’m so sick of everything going wrong!  What is God up to?  Why is this happening?  Why can’t my husband find a job?  Why does my kid have ADHD?  Why…. why…. WHY?!?!?!

    • “Then you will learn to know God’s will for you, which is good and pleasing and perfect.” —> FINALLY, I can know God’s will for me!  It’s about time.  Wait, what?  I don’t get to see the whole plan? Well that’s not very good, or pleasing — and it’s far from perfect.
    • Are you a Christian? Reading the bible and going to church aren’t going to solve all your problems… but here’s what will happen.  The way you think is going to change.  You won’t be able to help it.  Jesus will be seeping into your soul like a gentle rain over dry, cracked soil.  And here’s where the good happens — you feel His presence.  And then the pleasing happens —- you learn to shush it up so you can hear when He whispers to you.  And then the perfect happens — you obey and find that He loves you so much that you can hardly believe how much He loves you.

And then … all the customs of this world?  They don’t matter to you anymore. The blingy jeans?  You could care less.  That frumpy mom?  You hear God calling you to talk to her and find out what’s happening in her life.

It’s not about what you wear, what you have, where you live or what you drive…  it’s about who you know and who you follow and who you are striving to become.

I know Jesus.
And that’s who I choose to follow.

just … stop.

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When I was a kid my mom didn’t use the phrase “time out.”  In fact it was a phrase typically used at basketball practice or when my dad would scream at the TV during a Hawkeyes football game (yes, I’m from Iowa — no, I’m not an Iowa State fan — but for the record, I don’t root for the Hawkeyes either).  Honestly, I don’t even remember my mom shooing us away so she could take a “mommy time out” and search for her sanity.  She was pretty even keeled.

She sighed more than she yelled, but for the record I would have preferred yelling.  Sighing just leaves you hanging … like “what is she thinking?”  My mom rolled with the punches and went to band concerts, volleyball games, softball games, basketball games, plays and girl scout meetings.  I’m one of three girls; we were involved in a lot of stuff!  I also don’t ever remember her complaining that she didn’t have time for herself.

Why am I sharing all of this with you?  Because I can’t help but wonder what has changed.  Now I constantly hear these words coming out of my mouth, “If I just had an hour to myself!!!!!” … interesting that I never finish that thought, I just leave it hanging… kind of like my mom’s sighs.  (my sisters are making our mom’s sigh-sound as they read this — that’s how impactful her sighs were!)

I’m calling a time out on myself.

I refuse to read another book about what I should be doing until I figure out what I’m going to STOP doing.  I think the first thing to go is this belief that I have to have an hour to myself especially when everyone is home from their busy days — says who?  God gave me this great kid and amazing husband and all I do is crave time to myself?!?!?!  Um… that’s a bit twisted.  Afterall, I couldn’t wait to get married, and I prayed and prayed that the infertility treatments would work despite my medical issues so that I could have a child to love and care for — and sorry for my transparency but, I think I’m sort of pissing it all away. (I take that back, I’m not sorry for my transparency)

I love my phone.
You guys know this already. And though I am temped to give you a list of things justifying my idolatry towards this piece of technology, I will just let it be.  Even though it’s killing me a little inside.

But do I LOVE my family?

So what if I don’t get to the next level of Candy Crush (for the record, I have not touched Candy Crush since I gave it up for … well not Lent but for Jen Hatmaker… I mean for ME).  So what if I don’t get a pedicure.  So what if I don’t finish reading all the posts on Facebook.  So what if I don’t gab with my friend for an hour about all the funny things that happened this week.

Moderation is the key… I dislike that word, it reminds me that I have to eat in moderation and that bugs me because I love food.

Siiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiigh.

I think it’s incredibly important that we model good friendships to our children and that we go out and enjoy ourselves with friends when the opportunity arises.  I think it’s incredibly important to have time away from our spouses so that we have fresh and fun things to talk about.  I think it’s important to stay connected to long time friends and even current friends — but ya’ll — I’ve been doing it wrong.  It should be God, family, friends (and everything else).  So an hour in the morning reading scripture or my bible study books?  Totally legit.  Or an hour having coffee with a friend while everyone is gone doing his own thing?  No problem.  An hour on the couch scrolling through Twitter while my son is glued to the television…. dude.  Right. Between. The ii’s. (for iPhone and iPad… see what I did there with the…. see the i’s… nevermind)

I know I just blogged about this the other day, but this whole idea of having a list of things I am going to STOP doing seems much more inviting than a list of things I am going to START doing.  It reminds me of New Year’s when everyone has these lists of cool things they are going to conquer, and by February they don’t even know where the list is.  I don’t want to be that person.

So what are you going to stop doing?

I have another game to delete from my phone, I can tell you that right now…
Siiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiigh.

give the gift of grace today

give the gift of grace today

In the Dallas area, it’s the first day of school for the majority of public schools.  So not only do we have hundreds of thousands of nervous, anxious, and excited kids who poured out of our homes and cars this morning — we also have hundreds of thousands of nervous, anxious, and excited parents who are doing their best to function “normally” today.

Even if you don’t have kids who went back to school,
give the gift of grace today.  

Here are real life examples of why you should give your coworkers (and strangers at the grocery store) some grace today:

  1. A family just moved from New Mexico 5 weeks ago and her kids know ZERO kids at school today, so mom is a bit nervous and anxious for her kids.
  2. A middle school girl was bullied to the point of wanting to take her life last year, and today she had to go back to school — needless to say, mom and dad are doing all they can to focus on their jobs today.
  3. A 5th grade boy with ADHD is going back to school, but this time with medication that will help him “not feel like a goof ball on the playground” (his words).  Mom and dad are anxious to hear how he fared socially today.
  4. Moms and dads took their “babies” to school for the very first time this morning and peeled their nervous children off their legs before they walked out of the school.
  5. A mom who gave a teacher the benefit of the doubt last year only to find out she truly had been singling out her kiddo is trying her best to give grace to the teacher this year and not hover over her son.
  6. A teacher fresh out of college welcomed kids into his classroom for the very first time this morning – I bet even HIS parents are nervous and anxious for him!

I have a feeling that many many moms and dads will be watching the clock today, waiting for that hour when they get to reunite with their kids to talk about what was awesome, and what needs improvement.  I bet many of these families could use our prayers.

While anxiety may be weighing down the hearts of many parents around you, cheer them up with an unexpected kind word.  Or when your coworker doesn’t follow through with the thing she said she would take care of, or the lady in Wal-Mart seems to be aimlessly walking down the middle of the aisle, do your very best to give them the gift of grace.