the MIRREN LEE

The 2012 Act Three Journey of an Actress/Coach/Writer.

Archive for March, 2012

Day 91 Noisy & Moldy & Rats – Oh My!

Posted by themirrenlee on 31/03/2012

Noisy & Moldy & Rats – Oh My!

That sums up the flat I’m living in now … and will be leaving in about 3 weeks.

Luckily, I LOVE change, because I move a lot. Either I get bored with the place, or I find it has problems I can’t live with. I also like to rent (someone told me I’m like a New Yorker), and preferably furnished places, if I can find them. I’m moving back to a holiday beachside area that has lots of furnished places, at reasonable rates. I only left because I had to commute into Melbourne a lot at the time, and I found the 90 minute drive too tiring.

When I moved into this flat I was assured it was quiet.

BELIEVE NOTHING OF WHAT YOU HEAR, AND ONLY HALF OF WHAT YOU SEE!

I NEED total peace and quiet. I wear ear plugs even during the day to block out noise around me that others don’t even notice. I know many people have their TVs, radios or music on when they’re home, for background noise. That would drive me insane.

So imagine how I felt when I found out that TWO flats were going to be renovated, the lawns/gardens in the neighbourhood would be constantly cut like a Marine’s hair, and the high school across the street regularly stages loud musical events. The renovating, in particular, with its grinding tools, made me feel like I was living in a dentist’s office!

Then I found the mold. I looked in the bathroom cupboard and there it was. No problem, thought I; I’ll just get the bleach and clean it up. Little did I know how malevolent it was. I came back after a week away to find the walls and ceiling had broken out with a bad case of the measles – only it was a black rash, not red. Don’t even get me started on the tiles and grout. I now keep a toothbrush and cleanser at the ready to work on a bit at a time EVERY DAY. (And yes, once I used that toothbrush by accident to brush my teeth. I still have broken fillings – from clenching with chronic pain – but at least they’re not moldy!) I have not been able to keep up with it – especially with the ceiling – so I’ll probably have to pay someone to clean for me before I leave.

The rats? A few months ago, while Sarah was visiting me, she looked out my kitchen window and said, “Oh Mum, look at that baby possum in the tree. No, wait, IS it a possum? No, it’s … Oh my god, it’s a rat!”

Well, that explains the smell that’s bothered me from the beginning. It wasn’t strong enough for cat pee. Now I know what rat pee smells like! Turns out it’s a giant fig tree, full of figs for the rats to consume. Yes, rats. Plural. It’s a rat tree. Plus I hear them scratching in the walls now, and see them running around the grounds of the apartment complex. I live in a ritzy suburban area with lots of well kept homes – in fact my block is about the only group of flats in the area. It is totally bizarre to see rats. In fact, as familiar as I am with cockroaches (see post, “My Friend the Cockroach”), I have never been up close and personal with rats. Mice, yes, not rats. I’m not freaked out – I don’t fear them nibbling on me while I sleep or anything; I just don’t find the smell outside my kitchen and laundry something I want to live with.

The landlord doesn’t care about any of it, and I don’t have the energy to fight about it. So back to the QUIET beach, where I can once again rent a HOUSE, and be calmed and soothed by the smell of the ocean. Oh, and there are lots of animals there – koalas, penguins, birds and real possums. No rats.

So many people think I’m crazy with my moving. I’m an Aquarian – we live for change. Don’t they say change is as good as a holiday? Well, I believe it. I hate the actual physical part of the move, certainly, because of the pain I know I’m in for, but after a week of recovery, I’ll be in a beautiful, relaxing, healing environment.

They have signs all over the place there that say, “Relax, you’re on Island time”. Don’t you just love that?!

Change is okay, and often very necessary. Don’t put up with a toxic situation – or one that simply doesn’t feed your soul – because you’re afraid of change. I know so many people in that situation. The irony is, if you don’t make a decision about something that you need to, the Universe has a way of making one for you. And it may not be the one you wanted or needed.

Action, not angst.

Goodbye, noise and mold and rats.

I’m just movin’ on …

P

I miss my Island home.

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Day 90 Sleepless

Posted by themirrenlee on 30/03/2012

Sleepless.

For 2 nights.

Overdoing it until my muscles twitch and my nerve endings go on alert, and stay there.

Home now, so body is telling me it will stop throwing a tantrum and go to sleep.

I’m putting it to bed.

Just shuttin’ down like R2D2 …

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Day 89 Kaput!

Posted by themirrenlee on 29/03/2012

Kaput!

That’s how I feel after my day of helping my friend. It turned into an all day marathon, with me not returning home until the evening.

That’s it. Done. I’m not only completely out of spoons, I had to borrow a couple from tomorrow’s supply.

I’ll be taking it easy tomorrow. Will be interesting to see if a truck hits me in the middle of the night!

Fibromites know what I’m talking about, I’m sure.

I’m proud I got through it, though. It’s always good to know we can push through when needed. Takes away a lot of the feelings of helplessness that can overwhelm those of us who have this often debilitating condition.

I’m now just waitin’ for more spoons …

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Day 88 The Stress of Helping

Posted by themirrenlee on 28/03/2012

The stress of helping.

Sometimes when we help, all we feel is the "P" for "Pain".

That’s what I’m feeling tonight. I have agreed to take a good friend to her doctor’s appointment tomorrow, and I know all Fibromites can identify with the stress it’s ended up causing me, even though I want so much to help her. Especially since she’s the one who gave me her car because she can’t drive anymore (she’s 91 and her eyes bother her too much).

The problem is it throws my whole routine out the window. We’re spending the night at another friend’s place because it’s much closer to where we have to drive tomorrow, and I didn’t want to have to get up any earlier than I needed to. Even though I’ve said over and over “I don’t do mornings”, somehow this appointment got made for 11am, which means we have to leave at 10am, which means I have to get up at 8am to be functioning by then. With my broken night’s sleep not starting usually until about 2am – it takes me a long time  to go under – I will be seriously sleep deprived, which will raise my pain levels.

Then, after the doctor, she wants to do “a bit of shopping”, which usually takes a couple of hours. I’ve started getting an electric wheel chair at the mall because of the osteo pain in my lower back when I walk, and because of the size of this particular mall, and that will help a bit. But there will still be the shopping, which I am not a fan of, and then driving her home, and then back to my place, which is a total tomorrow of more than 2 hours of driving.

I love to help people I care about. One of the MANY hard things to take with this stupid, horrible chronic condition is how limited my ability to help anyone has become. It’s all I can do, in order to function the best I can, to follow my strict routine of “one day on, one day off,” allow enough time for sleeping and just resting/meditating, exercise, errands, and my writing/teaching. At the moment, I have to add moving within the next 3 weeks, so you can imagine how much stress will be involved there!

They say in the list of most stressful life events, moving is at the top, even more so than divorce. The funny thing is I LOVE change, and so actually enjoy moving, especially when I hate the place I’m in and am SO looking forward to moving back to the beach. However, the physical toll it takes on my body since the Fibro got worse is pretty traumatic. I’ll be allowing at least a week to recuperate from the move itself.

I’m going to take a deep breath, do some relaxation visualizing, and keep telling myself I’ll get through tomorrow just fine. Mind Body Connection. When faced with difficult situations, I always take some time to focus on the saying, “Let Go, Let God”. I am not a Christian, but my god is the Universal Energy, and so it works just as well. Strangely, it always works for me. I tell myself I’m not in charge, so I might as well just relax and see what happens. Being optimistic helps me, too. I tell myself that things will work out the way they’re meant to. The final mind “trick” I do is to see myself on the “other side” of the challenge, with it successfully behind me.

And if all else fails, I can collapse on Friday!

I refuse to let this horrible condition stop me from doing what needs to be done for someone else.

I’m just helpin’ …

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Day 87 Action Not Anger

Posted by themirrenlee on 27/03/2012

Action not anger.

That’s what I told myself when a good friend told me tonight she has an article on the mind-body connection she wanted to share with me, and then suggested hypnosis so I could “get over” the Fibro.

It’s not her fault. She’s 91 and this whole chronic illness thing is just a mystery to her. Ironically, though, she has been diagnosed with “silent migraines”, where there’s no head pain but stroke-mimicking numbness in her left arm and leg. She was very bewildered by it, after going through test after test, hospital stays and even rehab, because they thought it was her heart or mini strokes. I finally told her to Google it and she felt very relieved to find out she’s not alone.

But my Fibro really confuses her, particularly since she knew me before I had it, when I was running a production company and full of energy. She doesn’t hear me when I tell her I know the mind body connection – that’s why I have counseling! She doesn’t hear when I talk about my treatments – she just can’t believe there isn’t a “cure”.

Tonight, instead of getting frustrated about it, I’m going to work on my Fibro book. I know there are lots coming now; a BIG change from the early days! However, after my 30 year journey with it (and I know my perspective is kind of rare due to being such a long term veteran), I’m writing the book I want to see: a very simple step-by-step one, divided into easy to access sections that would make this condition understandable to people like my friend.

I find many Fibromyalgia books are very dense, and require a thorough study to be really comprehensible. Most non sufferers aren’t interested enough to wade through them. I want my book to be read by THEM, so they’ll understand US!

Hopefully, a proper post tomorrow, and answering some comments I haven’t yet. Tonight is just a quickie on my phone so I can get back to the book.

I’m just writin’ …

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Day 86 Foggy Nights

Posted by themirrenlee on 26/03/2012

Foggy nights.

That’s what I seem to be having now.

My whole sense of routine is changing. I was always a “night person”, working my best until 2 or 3am and sleeping deepest in the mornings.

Then with Menopause I didn’t sleep for 5 years.

Last December, something clicked when I temporarily came off Cymbalta, and I’ve been sleeping ever since.

Now I can’t seem to work nights any more. I start to get foggy around 9pm and my “sleep wave” (as Deepak Chopra calls it) seems to hit around 11pm – just when I used to be getting started!

I have people to answer and lots of things to write, but they’ll have to wait until tomorrow when the fog lifts.

Looks like another big change for me this year. I might be turning into a “day person”. Never thought I’d be saying that! Especially because I still sleep my deepest in the morning hours.

Hmmmmm … Will be interesting to see if this is permanent or just a phase.

Tomorrow will see a daytime post.

I’m just foggy …

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Day 85 Sometimes

Posted by themirrenlee on 25/03/2012

Sometimes.

It’s hard to push through the pain.

Fatigue takes over.

Thinking is foggy.

It is what it is.

We should not do anything.

I’m just restin’ for tonight …

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Day 84 I’d Like to Thank Fibromyalgia!

Posted by themirrenlee on 24/03/2012

I’d like to thank Fibromyalgia!

Without it, I wouldn’t have been informed by purplelawlady.com that she has nominated me for an award due to my writing about Fibromyalgia. Right off, I’d like to recommend you check out her site, as it’s pretty amazing. She has all sorts of interesting quotes, information, and fascinating facts about herself.

I'll take the orange one, thanks, as it's my favorite color!

These types of little awards seem to pop up all over WordPress on various topics, and I applaud them as a good marketing exercise in introducing bloggers to each other. In this case, it also introduced me to fibromodem.com, an unbelievably informative site about Fibromyalgia. It just amazes and touches me every time I see this awful, life changing condition, which was disgustingly written off for years as “an imaginary condition in the minds of middle aged women,” treated with such respect and detail.

Out of all the horrible things that come with Fibro, not the least being chronic pain and fatigue, I think the very worst is the ultimate loss of one’s sense of identity. Especially for Type A personalities, used to having the boundless energy and enthusiasm needed for projects, work, creative pursuits, a social life, etc. etc., when it all comes crashing down and we find we’re actually LIMITED by our unco-operative bodies, well, it’s not easy to take.

What we learn very quickly is that we can no longer be identified by what we DO, or our job title. Many of us actually can’t work at all sometimes, or have to work to a very curtailed schedule. It’s maddening, frustrating, and depressing. I love it when people say, “You seem depressed.” Oh no, not at all. I love being in pain all the time, never having any consistent energy, not being able to run a business like I used to, constantly battling new symptoms because it’s a “reactive condition” (I call it), so if there’s anything that can flare up with a new sensitivity, it will. Of course sometimes I’m fucking depressed, but it’s not a depression that an antidepressant can help; they just help the pain, in low doses. I kinda think that anyone suffering a chronic condition (without a cure), who doesn’t experience periods of depression, is someone I’d have trouble relating to. Maybe they enjoy it?

So we take pain management courses to learn to distract ourselves from the pain, and counselling sessions to learn not to blame ourselves for how we got in this situation, as well as learning how to forge out a new identity within limited parameters.

And all the time, endlessly, relentlessly, we continue to educate people – our family/friends/doctors/others – on what exactly is wrong with us. Sometimes it works, often they just can’t comprehend it. It’s not visible, we look too well, we don’t sound in pain, we don’t seem sick. The joke is, all the hard work we put into trying to appear “normal”, and not like an invalid, is the very thing that works against us!

A friend of mine said it best when someone commented on how well he looked: “I’m like a defective apple – rosy on the outside, but rotten to the core!”

Part of the “conditions” of the nomination is I have to try and nominate 6 others for it (nominating our “competition”? lol), so I will go and look for them now. There are so many people out there writing about Fibromyalgia, it’s truly inspiring.

So thank you, Fibromyalgia, for giving something back, instead of just taking from me all the time – my health, energy, patience, sense of identity. You still haven’t got my optimism, though, or my fighting spirit. And you never will. I may not be able to defeat you … yet … but I sure as hell can control you.

I accept this nomination in the name of all Fibromites: rock on and don’t give up!

I’m just fightin’ …

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Day 83 Marking Time

Posted by themirrenlee on 23/03/2012

Marking time.

That’s what I’m doing with this chest cold I’ve contracted. My doctor said years ago, when recommending a flu shot, “If you get the flu with Fibromyalgia, you’ll go down in a heap.” How right she was.

I’m sure it’s the same for anyone with a chronic condition. You may be able to cope with just it, but add a simple cold and it can feel like the last straw!

I’m feeling better, so hope to be back on deck by tomorrow.

I’m just recuperatin’ …

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Day 82 It Is What It Is

Posted by themirrenlee on 22/03/2012

It is what it is.

My doctor in Sydney said this to me because she knows how I agonize over not being perfectly healthy. I have guilt issues with having Fibromyalgia and its attendant challenges. Feeling guilty with a chronic condition is a lot of guilt!

Now I realize I’ve picked up Nicky’s cold when I was in Sydney. Often also happens with any kind of traveling. So here I am feeling yuk just as my pain levels are going down. A cosmic joke.

I’m forcing myself to rest, look on the bright side re the pain, and not feel guilty.

In other words, I’m trying to remember, “It is what it is”.

It just is …

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