I Wanna Sleep: Dealing with Complex Health Issues and Chronic Fatigue--Looking for Grace

Here's what I know: people, even those who love you dearly, can get tired of hearing you don't feel well. Doctors get frustrated when they can't fix you, and in previous decades, when the psychosomatic view was prevalent when they couldn't find a "reason" for your ailments, I got used to doctors shrugging their shoulders and dismissing my complaints.

I did get medically discharged from the army reserves for fibromyalgia back when it was  "all in my head," some 25 years ago. It's nice knowing that progress has been made, that some reasons for fibromyalgia and chronic fatigue have been discovered, so that my issues are treated as something other than me being a hypochondriac. However, there's still a lot of work to be done, because once you've got the fibro diagnosis, docs are pretty willing to lump any symptom you have to fibro or to the cluster of comorbid conditions that go along with fibro, like IBS and migraines, which I've got.

I've been seen dozens of times over the last three years for my diabetes, for recurrent strep, sinus, and urinary tract infections, am on a daily antibiotic for the prevention of the urinary tract infections. When I complain about the fatigue, the crushing exhaustion, I'm met with understanding and empathy, but with little to do about it other than to be told that it's chronic fatigue due to my multiple health issues and that it's something I will have to live with--rest, rest, and more rest. When I complain that my blood sugars are high, it's because I'm sick. The problem is I'm sick more often than not. Let's up the damn meds.

At any rate, for three years now (really, three freaking years), I nap one to two times a day as my schedule allows, and the last ten days it's been most of the day, since I've been sick with ear infections, my chronic sinus infection, and what I thought was the flu, but was likely an upper GI bug mixing with the other stuff and making me miserable.

I'm improved now, with the GI bug resolved, but my right cheek is still bright red because of the sinus infection, and that redness has spread to over my eyebrows. And yet today is day five of antibiotics. I can carry out small tasks, but just the act of getting dressed requires a break, as it wears me out.

And yet, I'm going back to teach today because I have to. Even though I will have to plan pit stops so that I can catch my breath and get my blood pressure back down--something that's been documented high twice at two doctors' visits but been attributed again to being sick. I can see their point--I'm allergic to beta blockers, so treatment will be complicated. And, hey, maybe it will go back down...

And the doc and FNP are used to that complicatedness--I'm off lyrica because of the side effects. Off victoza, because of the side effects, off nexium because of the side effects. No preventatives for my migraines because of side effects.

A lot of shit I simply have to deal with.  And that is part of getting older. It is. And attitude is an important predictor of perceived quality of life. I had one grandmother confined to her wheelchair, completely dependent on others for everything, but man, she had grace and humor, and I think, looking back 30 years (she'll have been gone 30 years in June--yet remains a fundamental role model and guide to me all these years later), that she was not unhappy. She smiled a lot, laughed, joked, and overall, dealt with her challenges in a way that shaped me and helped make me the person I am today. My other grandmother, who had bipolar among other health issues, was mobile until her stroke which caused her death. She was the opposite kind of role model. She always complained. She was bitter. 

Look, both women could have dealt with no disabilities and still had the opposite personalities, and undoubtedly did before they had their health issues. Personality is important, but I think perspective is even more important. My maternal grandmother was a different person and was able to cope better than my paternal grandmother. She was fun to be with and I liked her---she was a wonderful person.

My paternal grandmother and I had a complicated relationship. She wasn't easy to deal with, but I know she loved me--her care at making me my favorite meal at my birthday--her meatloaf and scalloped potatoes doused in bacon grease and followed by strawberry cake and strawberry ice cream showed me year after year that she cared enough to go to the effort. She's been gone 19 years now, and I still smile thinking of her meals. And it's the meal we try to replicate each year at my birthday. So it's not that I disliked her--I loved her. I just hated seeing her always unhappy. Although, I also think she was happiest when she was miserable and had something to complain about.

I want to take the best of them with me. Have always tried to. Next to my mother, they were/are the most important female role models. And I know I'm a blend of all three of these women who deal with and dealt with challenges that make and made finding grace a challenge.

Grace and a little bit of bacon grease when the grace isn't forthcoming. Maybe my paternal grandmother had as much to teach--when you can't find the laughter or the grace--comfort food lovingly made is almost as good.


Kendra Humphrey said...

This is incredibly touching!! I can honestly say i know where you are coming from. Constant aches, pains, unknown causes, chronic illnesses the works. Oh and dont forget frustrated or lazy doctors. Its really just a big mess when dealing with such things. But ive always enjnoyed your constant flowing knowledge and your quick witts. Its pieces like this that are so moving and just make people want to say amen to the big guy upstairs. (Im not really a religious person but in general idea). Ive really enjoyed this peice and believe, if you can only find misery look to the kitchen cabinets, if you can only be happy well be happy then im pretty sure theres plenty of kitchen cabinets (sorry probably a terrrible teribble way word it but cant remember how my mom says it and hopefully you still get a laugh out of it). So thankyou thankyou for your blogging. It brings people together.

Previous student,
K humphrey

K Wombles said...

Thanks, Kendra. Your comment means a lot. :)

LindaWarren said...

I wish you would watch a documentary called: Simply Raw: Reversing Diabetes in 30 days. Two years ago, I went on the raw food diet after watching the video. I completely reversed all of my health problems including fibromyalgia, diabetes, hypertension, and other health problems. I had exuberant energy and felt so alive for the first time in years. Unfortunately, I started eating the average American diet again, and have some of the same problems back. I know this works. It cleared my mind and my depression within days. My blood glucose was normal after day 7. My hypertension dropped so low, so quickly I had orthostatic hypotension and had to eliminate the drugs. I have had over 5 surgeries on my sinuses, and after being on the diet for a week, my sinuses were NORMAL. I will be starting this diet again next week. If you want me to keep you posted, I will. I ate twice as much as I normally did, without avoiding foods with sugar such as fruits. It required a complete refit of the kitchen with dehydrators instead of ovens, food processors instead of steamers, and seed-sprouters instead of baking dishes. It took almost two weeks before my taste buds were completely clean and I LOVED the foods that I ate so much that when I did add meats and fats back to my diet, I could not tolerate the grease on my tongue. Simply Raw: Reversing Diabetes in 30 days will change your life. It isn't a gimmick. It is not a fad. I didn't even go 100% raw, but rather 80% raw and 20% cooked.

K Wombles said...

Thanks, Linda, I'll definitely look into it. We already eat a lot of fresh fruit and vegetables each day, but it never hurts to eat healthier.

K Wombles said...

Found it on youtube. http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=vG3V22cLUF0