Good news!

After becoming increasingly ill during our visit to Mom's sister, Mom and I both picked up a nasty little stomach virus. I got it worse than her, and was throwing up the first half of the way home. By this morning, I could no longer keep liquids down.

Mom took care of Peanut today, though she was so sick herself, so R came home early and took over care so Mom could collapse on the couch.

I don't know much of what went on today, as I was either asleep or writhing in agony until about 5:30 p.m. Had some crazy dreams.

But good news-- I started keeping water and flat ginger ale down this evening, and I have successfully kept a banana down for the last 10 minutes as well. I have heartburn like nobody's business, but I'm going to try some rice and see how that sits. Mom is also eating now, as well. She had fruit salad and some yogurt. She wasn't throwing up, but had her own, uh, set of problems.

I'm thinking it was only a 24 hour virus... hoping, anyway. I think we're on the mend.

Happy new year. Hah.
So I was getting really antsy about the wedding. It's basically 3 months away, and while I've done a fair bit of planning, I haven't been able to accomplish much of anything beyond invitations, finding an officiant, and purchasing that gorgeous green dress.

Then... I realized that, while I still love that dress and I'm super grateful that I bought it because I'm going to wear the living daylights out of that thing to Ren functions... it's not what I want to wear on my wedding day. I discovered, through introflection and a leave of absence from wedding blogs (including Offbeat Bride!), that I actually want the white dress. I do. So I'm going to be wearing Mom's wedding dress. (See, part of the issue was that, sure I could have chosen that option from the get-go, but it would have felt like I had to wear that dress, and I had no other choice. Now that I want to, I'm really excited about it!)

I was talking to Mom about my frustrations with the wedding planning, and how I feel so stalled and stymied. I've got all these plans that I'm ready to run with, but I don't have the finances to be able to run! She totally gets it, so she's been helping me work towards some of my goals while I'm here. Also, now that Peanut's gone, I feel like we actually have time to accomplish stuff towards the wedding. For instance, we finally tried on the dress tonight, though I've been here over a week already. It was the first time we had the time and energy to do it. And guess what? It fits like a glove. It really is lovely.

Last night, I ordered a few of the "little" major things-- the guestbook, the sealing wax and actual seal for our vow ceremony, the inflatable 20 sided dice for the reception, and the stamp for our favors. Today, Mom and I hit up some dollar stores looking for tiaras and crowns to "bring the bling" for our friend with cancer when we take our family portrait this year. The first store we hit was amazing, and I was able to score the linen-like tablecloths that I wanted so badly for a dollar apiece! I'd given up, because they're like 5 bucks a piece online, plus shipping and handling. We also got some stuff to make cupcake wrappers, some napkin rings, and some paper lanterns for decoration. (I offered to take care of it with my wedding funds, but Mom gifted all of the evening's purchases to me. Seriously, that woman just saved us like, a hundred dollars. I am so, soooo grateful.)

When we went to Hobby Lobby (which they don't have where I'm at, sadly), we were able to score half a dozen containers of translucent/iridescent beaded strings (at least 18 ft/container) for 60 percent off, because they were "Christmas decorations". Those I'll hang from the tree we'll be standing in front of, as well as in the ramada where the food will be. Perhaps we'll even use them on the trees behind the area where we'll be eating. We may still make the garlands of translucent origami stars, but if that fails we now have a backup. Whew. Also, we picked up the stamp pad that I need for the favor tags, something to stain the tags with (I was going to use tea, but this will be WAY less labor-intensive), mini cards and envelopes for the guest book as well as some scrapbooking flowers to scatter across the pages, large cardboard B and G letters to stand at the bride and groom's table settings (which I'll be painting), and the materials Mom needs to create our cake topper. There's a few more things, but you get the picture.

I think the hard part will be getting all this home without going over the weight limit on my luggage. The dress itself is pretty heavy, not to mention those beads... but Mom will have to ship me some of the decorations anyway. They are a bunch of paper poufs, balls, and garlands that she got for free from a friend, and they are heavy!

We had a great time hanging out and planning crafty things. After we finished running around, we came back home and ate, hung around on the couch, and watched a couple of movies. Oh, and tried on the dress, of course.

I had told C when I talked to him the other day that I was frustrated with the wedding, and trying my best to pare it down and keep it simple. I asked how he felt about eloping, and he responded with a patronizing, "You want your wedding, lady." I replied that no, I didn't really... so could we just cancel it? He said that not only would my family be upset, but that it was too late, because I'd already sent out invitations.

Darn. Right on both counts. Foiled again by logic!

Now I realize that I was just frustrated by not feeling productive or accomplishing anything toward my goal. I feel much better now. Much, much better. I finally feel like it's starting to come together... and I don't feel like I'm trying to pull it off on my own anymore, either, which is a blessed relief.
Ahhh, Christmas day with the folks. It's always fun, and I don't mean that in a facetious way. Besides increasing in material wealth (and really no matter how much of a grumpy pants you are, getting stuff is nice. Can we just be honest about that for once?), I enjoy seeing how our family traditions evolve over the years.

Mom and I had an intense gift-wrapping marathon on Christmas Eve Eve (not a typo), but we didn't quiiiiiite finish. We started around 3 or 4, but by midnight we were exhausted. We thought we might finish up on Christmas Eve, but that didn't work out, as we had grocery shopping and prescription filling to do, not to mention Mom's last minute gift shopping. She knew what she wanted, but just hadn't been able to get out and get it yet.

So Christmas morning I awoke bright and early and realized that I was not hungry at all. Usually, I make Christmas breakfast, but my appetite was shot and no one else was really up. R informed us that Mom had been up with the baby a lot of the night, so she planned to sleep until 11, then we could open gifts. Upon hearing that, I headed back to bed for a nap of my own. The unwrapped presents and all the wrapping paraphernalia had been set up in my room for the past few days, so Mom came in when she woke up. She was asking if I was okay, probably because I was still in bed! After I assured her that it was just a nap and explained how my pain killers had stopped being pain killers, she came back with a nice little Tylenol-Aleve cocktail for me... which also didn't really do much. lol

Anyway, I got up and wrapped a few more things while Mom was getting her coffee and all that, then took over the baby for K. Little Peanut fell asleep in my arms, so I pawned her off on Grampa R when we all gathered to open presents, because it's really difficult to open gifts with a sleeping infant in your arms! That, of course, meant he had to wait to open his until he could hand her off to Gramma Mom. It was like playing hot potato. :)

One tradition that has stuck around my whole life is that we take turns opening a present at a time, and the whole family watches that one person's reaction as they open their gift. It helps keep the focus off of the material goods and more on the experience of the gifting from a loved one, if that makes sense. It's not just about "getting stuff", it's about the thought and effort that was put into finding the thing that would make that person squeal/laugh/fall on the floor and twitch with joy. (That twitching thing has actually happened.) We typically go from youngest to oldest, and even little Peanut got some presents. Her mommy opened them for her, of course, since she was sleeping. Oh, and there's that whole fine motor control thing that she's lacking, too...

Something that I love about my family is that they come up with the most amazing gifts. Everything I got this year was unique but practical (and packable!), and generally either really awesome/sweet or totally hysterical. For instance, I now have an ice cube tray that makes koi-shaped ice cubes, a t-shirt from the REAL Mystic Pizza Parlor in CT, a rubber ducky armada (complete with soundtrack), a Wal-Mart gift card with strict instructions to use it to splurge on myself and not get all practical, a container of specialty tea and a gift card to a store that is devoted entirely to tea and tea accessories, and a Black Knight plush toy with detachable arms and legs.

After opening gifts, K and her boyfriend had to leave so that they could make it to his grandmother's house before all of his family took off. They took Peanut with them, and the house is so quiet and empty without her... I feel like an empty nester. Also, I don't know what to do with all my free time anymore. So, since I was still feeling run down, I went back to bed! Hehe. That's what I'll do with my free time-- I'll nap. :)

Mom jumped into the kitchen and whipped up a stellar Christmas dinner, which we all thoroughly enjoyed... even the pets. Mom totally spoils them and feeds them scraps from the table. J drifted off to her room after dinner, Jr went to his room because he's sick, and Mom, R, and I hung out in the living room and watched Dr. Who for a couple of hours. We interspersed episodes with conversation, and I worked on wedding stuff. (Okay, so maybe it was more than a couple of hours... we DID stay up until one, after all...) I finished off the night with a phone call to my beloved, and it was so good to hear his voice. I only have 10 more days until I'm back home, and while it seems like both a long and a short time, I know that it will absolutely fly by. Soon I'll be back in school again, back to the grind... sort of. I've got a lot of big life changes coming up, so things will be different in many ways.

I'm a bit disappointed that we'll be spending New Year's Eve at K and her boyfriend's apartment. It's not that I don't want to see their place (and her baby) and hang out with them, but he's invited his family... and I've not heard good things about them. Our family always hangs out together and eats popcorn, drinks Martinelli's, and plays games or watches a movie. I'm sad to miss out on that in lieu of spending a day (and possibly the next day?) with a bunch of people that aren't pleasant to be around. Oh well. I know that it is important to K that I see her home, so I will brave it for her sake. So I'll be sad to miss out on our traditions. Big deal. I'll survive.

Oh, and Peanut was in her little red and white "Baby's First Christmas" outfit with the sparkly red tutu. A-dorable. Ridiculously so. I have this hypothesis that the universe is powered solely on baby cuteness, and if that is so, then she is contributing more than her share.

It was a good day. I'm very grateful for my family... especially because of all the craziness and quirks. I don't think I'd fit in anywhere else :)
I must be somebody now... or at least my blog must be somebody. I've started to get spam comments on a pretty regular basis.

Does that mean I've hit the big time? lol
It's been weird in some ways to be home... totally not what I expected. I guess I've changed more than I realized, in many ways, but I just don't see it because I'm always with myself, you know?

I accompanied both girls to their counseling sessions this week, and I heard from both of them that they don't really know how to relate to me anymore... They feel a little lost, because I used to be all uber-Christian, right? J said that she felt like she was always kinda walking on eggshells, making sure that something didn't happen that would offend me (like watching a movie with a curse word in it, she'd automatically think, "Oh no, did C hear that?!"). Now, though, she doesn't know what will and will not offend me, as I'm still conservative in some ways, but totally not in a lot of other ways. For instance, we now talk freely of our mutual love of bacon. We didn't go to church this Sabbath, and no one really batted an eyelash.

Mom and I had a good, long talk last night about the ways that I've changed and what my philosophies and views on life are right now. She says that once I'm pregnant and expecting to deliver, I'll go through another re-evaluation. Something about being responsible for the outcome of another life makes you really check your priorities. Anyway, it was something I had been kind of dreading... especially the first Sabbath... Because, I mean, I feel like I've invested so much into the image of me as the great Christian over the years, the shining example for the family, that I felt like I'd be letting Mom down if she knew that I am not SDA anymore. But, no. She's cool. She recognizes that it's my choice, really, and I have to be true to what I believe. I was so relieved. I don't know why I was worried, though. I mean, acceptance pretty much typifies our relationship. I shouldn't fear drama and ostracizing for any choices I might make, because that's so not our family, and so not Mom... but yet I still do. I'm afraid of letting down those I love. And I thought that it was important to her that I be this stellar Christian, so I was afraid to break that image. I am so glad for the acceptance and love of my family and parents. It means the world to me.

R called from work yesterday and let me know that he put money in my bank account, "in case you see something really cool for your Mom while you're out, or for food or something. If you need to buy some food, now you have money."

I told him I was gonna use it to pay off a couple of small medical bills, which surprised him (but he approved), but he pressed the food issue again. He said he wanted to make sure that I was getting enough to eat. I think he's worried about that a little, because the first day I was home he commented on how I look thinner. I've also made no secret of the digestive issues I've been struggling with, and I got the go-ahead from R tonight to go see a gastroenterologist when I get back home. (I'm still passing food I ate several days before I left. Guess I'm not as caught up as I thought...) Mom thinks a girdle--for compression-- will help my digestive process. I started probiotics again, so that should help. I think the yogurt helped, too.

R's right, though. I have lost weight. The girls noticed, and asked me how I got so skinny. (Easy! The food allergy diet! lol) I am taking to wearing my engagement ring on my middle finger, because it's very loose on my ring finger and I'm afraid it might slip off. It's happened a couple of times recently. I also stole a pair of jeans from Mom today, size 4, and they fit very well at first, since they were freshly washed and dried. By midday, though, they felt like they were too big. Size 4, too big? What?? (No wonder my jeans at home feel too large-- they're a size 8!) Well, I don't think I'm losing weight so much as I'm just shrinking a little. My weight has been pretty stable from doctor visit to doctor visit. Anyway, I still look good. I don't look sickly or anything. Just... thinner.

Went with Mom to the store tonight to get stocking stuffers and a stocking hanger for K's boyfriend E, who is spending Christmas and a few days around it with us. Peanut woke up towards the end of the trip and would not be consoled, so I took her while Mom was checking out. I got her bottle out and went to sit down on my walker to feed her, but the brakes weren't on (they don't have a locking mechanism, unfortunately) and it slid out from underneath me. My only thought was, "Don't drop the baby! Don't let her hit her head on anything!" So I took the fall straight to the butt! Peanut was startled, but fine. She took her bottle and calmed right down, and Mom and a store employee helped me back up. Embarrassing? Sure. Painful? You bet. It's funny, because my rear doesn't hurt so much as my elbows do, though I'm sure I'll feel it tomorrow! It's okay. Baby's safe. Totally worth it.

I got all my Christmas presents wrapped today. I feel like an achiever! I decorated the tree, and had the first presents under the tree. Usually Mom's totally on top of all that, but with work and Peanut, she's behind this year. I can tell she feels stressed about it, but I know that Christmas will still be good and fun. She'll probably make K watch her own baby tomorrow and spend all day in the basement, wrapping gifts.

Also, Mom and I talked about how to simplify my wedding decorations. I'm feeling overwhelmed by many of the ideas/plans that I had, because I realize that I'll still be doing school and work and preparing to move and still dealing with this fibro... and I have to do most the prep myself. Ugh. So my focus will be on the tables, with a few simple touches here and there to make it clear that it's a wedding. Mom thinks it's a wise decision. I just don't want to bite off more than I can chew, and I'm kind of wedding-ed out. I realized that I was unconsciously trying to pull off one of those Pinterest/wedding blog kind of weddings, but I just don't have the resources or capabilities for that at this point in my life... so I won't. I want the wedding to be "us", and part of "us" is that I just want something simple. Sweet.
I got to brush up on my snow driving today. The kids actually got a snow day off of school, due to a blizzard that came through, and the governor declared a state of emergency because the weather is so bad in some places! I feel like I did nothing but drive back and forth between the house and Mom's work today, though. She works really close, so I dropped her off at work, then came back home. A few hours later, she called and asked if J and I could come in at noon instead of three for our haircuts, so I drove us there. J's highlights were going to take 45 more minutes after I was finished, so I drove back home... only to be called back 15 minutes later. I picked J up and took her back home, then drove her and K to the salon, intending to pick Mom up from work at the same time and have her go pick the girls up when they were done. However, she thought that I was going to wait around, but I reminded her that Jr. was home alone with Peanut, so I drove us back to the house, and then she took the car back to the salon. A total of... 4 trips to the salon and back, all within a few hours.

I got to take care of Peanut for the next few hours, as Mom and K went shopping (in a blizzard?!) for art supplies. K is going to paint a multiple-canvas piece to give to her boyfriend for Christmas, so they can hang it up in their apartment. Spending time with my little niece has been nothing less than a joy, even with all the work involved. I can say without reservation that I am looking forward to being a mother. I realize now how much work babies are, and when I do have children, that will be my full-time job. I do not have the energy reserves to take care of a baby and also pursue a career. But that's okay, because I truly do love the domestic life, as much as that thought makes me laugh. I've spent so long railing against the idea of wanting a husband and a family... that to admit to wanting it, to admit to being good at that kind of thing, well... it feels very odd. Like I'm betraying long-held values, or something. Anyway, I guess it's good to realize now that I'm going to be a good mother. It gives me confidence. If I can only carry a baby to term...

While I was caring for the baby, I decided to make myself useful (because I can't just sit around for days on end without being productive), so I tidied up the living room, as I'd done for the bathroom and kitchen the day before. I tried to put the baby down so I could vacuum, but she wasn't having any of that. She just kept fussing and wanting to be held, so I carried her in one arm while I vacuumed with the other, and do you know what happened? No, I didn't drop her... she fell asleep! Can you believe it?! With the vacuum roaring right there beneath her. Unbelievable. (And yet she won't sleep if you lay her down in her cradle? Uh-huh.)

I also got the rest of the tree decorated for Mom tonight. It's difficult to hang ornaments with a baby in your arms, you know that? Fortunately, Mom and K came home, and I passed the baby off to her mother.

I drew up a rough timeline for Mom and I, so that we can be sure to accomplish all the wedding stuff that we want to while I'm here. I have two weeks before I leave, but there are holidays and birthdays in between that take away days, not to mention the baby (who is a major black hole when it comes to accomplishing anything). K should be taking the baby back home with her soon, so that'll help... though I'll miss that little tootsie roll.

I want one.

Also, I just found out that Grampa is still in the hospital, dealing with complications from his surgery. I sincerely hope that he will make a full recovery. The visit I made to see him in the hospital felt very significant somehow, but I just can't bring myself to believe that it could possibly be a "goodbye" at all... He can't die. I need him.

I'm also troubled by the difficult time that the S family is having... there's so much hardship for them, and I feel so helpless. I feel like I'm in a very awkward position, because, I mean... I'm "family"... right? So it's like I'm a part of them, it affects me too, and I care so much... but I'm not really family. And I'm not there. There's no way for me to help carry the burden, no tangible way that I can see to express my love, care, and concern without weighing them down further... I just don't know what to do, what to say... Every time I call, I get D, because no one else is home... and I love talking to him, I want to talk to him, but I know that he's weak, and I don't want to cause him harm.

I'm stuck in this weird limbo, and I don't even know how to relate to them anymore. I don't want to add to their burdens in any way... so I mostly just leave them alone.

Should I ask them not to bother with the wedding? I know D can't travel well anymore... and C and the girls are under a lot of stress... Maybe it would be best for them if I relieved them of the musician position? Then they wouldn't have to come down to Y, wouldn't have to deal with the expenses and the emotional toll it will take... I don't know. I just don't know.

Talked to C last night. I miss that fella. When I told him that, he admitted sheepishly that he was kind of hoping that I would. :) He was pleasantly surprised to hear my take on the spring program being cancelled, and I could tell that he was proud of me for seeing the positive aspects of what is happening. Did I mention that I'm taking yoga as my third class? I've been reading a lot about the importance of regular exercise in pain management for fibro, and especially the benefits of yoga, so if I can earn college credits while taking charge of my health, count me in! With a (hopefully) easy schedule this coming semester, I may even be able to take on more hours with the HJ, and earn a little more income. I'm especially sensitive to that right now, because the program being delayed means that C will have to support me longer than I initially thought... and we all know by now that there's no hope of my getting assistance from the state in any form... Maybe if I'm able to get on disability in the future? I know a couple of people with fibro who have managed to get disability, and it really helps them. We'll see. I think that would be a serious blow to my pride. :-\

I'm tired. Haven't been sleeping much, though the hours that I've gotten have been pretty good. Bowel health is still in the pits, though. I've had to do a couple of colon cleanses since I've been here, and have found to my shock that I'm just now passing food that I ate days before I left. Gross! No wonder my guts feel sour, like stuff is fermenting in there-- it is! I've realized, though, that it's not all my colon to blame, as I thought previously. My small intestine is clearly falling down on the job, so I will need to do some research to see how I can stimulate small intestine function. After doing a clean-out twice today, though, I'm catching up... I just got through Monday's supper, so hopefully the rest will come through soon. I wonder if that yogurt is helping or harming? Either way, I was also passing more blood than I'm comfortable with. Maybe I should get another colonoscopy sometime this year? Just in case. I mean... Grampa is in the hospital for colon cancer, after all... and several members of my family have remarked on how thin I've gotten, which is totally unintentional on my part. I'm just... losing weight, I guess. (I mean, not that I mind! What woman doesn't like to lose weight without trying? lol)

Anyway, it's off to bed with me.
There is such a scene of domestic tranquility in the living room right now. The lights are off, save for the dim glow of the Christmas tree. K is curled up in a recliner, looking for all the world like a lumpy pile of blankets. R is tipped sideways on the couch but still mostly sitting, and Mom is on her side with her head on the couch's arm. Baby Peanut is sprawled on her back, nestled safely in Mom's arms. All are sleeping soundly, guarded by the two dogs who keep watch from the floor and love seat. So sweet.

Today didn't go exactly according to plan... I had such grandiose ideas of what I would accomplish today, buuuuuut...

I didn't go to sleep until well after two, from crying over D. Mom saw my swollen, tear-streaked face when I emerged to pick up a pair of socks I'd left drying over a chair, and followed me into my temporary room to talk about it. She did say that, if D were not able to make it down to the wedding she would talk seriously to R about funding a short trip for me to go back up there and make sure that I was able to say my goodbyes. I was very, very glad to hear that.

I did sleep rather well last night, considering. I only woke up once or twice. Then I pried myself out of bed (much earlier than I would have liked! lol) to take Mom to work. She showed me around and showed me off. It's a really nice salon that she works at, and she scored me a free haircut for Thursday! I had intended to review my A+P flashcards when I got back home, as well as clean the bathroom today, but... I went back to bed. I was so tired. I did wake up a few times, because my bladder was full or because I heard Peanut crying (or both), but I finally crawled out of bed again at one o'clock. Oops.

K had been dealing with Peanut all day, so I took her off her hands for an hour and fed her, burped her, changed her, played with her, and put her to sleep. Then we bundled ourselves up and headed off to pick Mom up from work. When we came back, I took care of Peanut some more while mentally compiling my meal/shopping list for the week.

Shopping with Mom always takes a long time, and with having to read the ingredients of everything we're considering buying... and taking care of Peanut at the same time... it took us about 4 hours to finish grocery shopping. I was so ready to leave the store! We did have fun, though. I took my walker with me, on Mom's advice. She knew it would be quite the trek. After a while, I sat on the seat of my walker with Peanut in my lap, wrapped my feet around the base of the shopping cart and held on with one hand while Mom pushed the cart from behind the walker. It worked perfectly, though we must have been quite the sight... I did get 5 congratulations on my beautiful baby, though. :D We finished the shopping session with Mom pushing the cart and me pushing my walker with Peanut sleeping in her carrier that was wedged onto the walker's seat.

After consulting with my allergy chart again recently, I've decided to try yogurt and a couple of cheeses. With that in mind, I had greek yogurt with pomegranates as part of my supper tonight, and it was so good. I'm not feeling any ill effects, either. I figure it's cheaper and more delicious than probiotics, if I can actually include it in my diet long-term...

I also registered for a Spanish class tonight, as I was informed today that the massage program scheduled for this spring was cancelled. Too many people backed out and/or flunked the pre-reqs they needed, so the rest of us are out of luck. I'll have to wait until August for that particular program. I figure there's no sense in wasting my time, though. I'm still able to take one of the necessary massage courses this semester, and I want to learn at least basic Spanish, so that I'm not limited in my client base. I really wanted to take ASL as well, but because it took so long for this massage thing to play out all the classes are over-full. Bummer. I could get on the wait-list, but I'd rather not leave it up to chance. I'm going to choose another class that interests me and is applicable to my future, but not something too hard. I'm thinking maybe Intro to Aromatherapy, or possibly Exploring Native American Medicine. I tried to find the yoga class that I saw, but the website is saying that it can't find the class. Boo. There's also Overview of Herbal Remedies, which looks good, but I'd rather get into something that I don't know anything about yet. The problem (problem?) is that I love to learn, and there are so many classes that I'd like to take! Since I'm just looking to burn time between now and the program starting, in a sense, I'd like to do something useful with that burnt time... which is why I enrolled in Spanish. Conversational Spanish, that is. It's more important to me to be able to speak it right now than read and write it. I figure that will kind of come with the spoken aspect.

So, tomorrow... tomorrow Mom and I will do some cleaning, finish decorating the tree, and wrap up presents. We're also having acorn squash for lunch. Yum yum :)
Dear God...

I've been reading J's blog posts and...

...it just hit me.

I've been so concerned about D making it to the wedding, but if he does... I'll be saying goodbye.

I might have already had my goodbye.

I can't stop crying right now...

Goodnight.
What a week it's been!

First finals, then a strong sickness, then scrambling to make ready for my big trip... not to mention the CPR class I had to take (after a night of terrible/very little sleep) and visiting Grampa in the hospital.

I couldn't figure out why I was so keyed up and nauseous last night, but then, as I traced my week, I realized that I was super stressed.

Thankfully, I got better sleep last night. I still wake up a lot (every hour, on the dot, it seems), but I was able to drift off quickly again.

I was able to pull it all together, so now I'm sitting in the airport, waiting for my connecting flight to the Midwest. I've got about an hour before the flight starts to board, and I wish that I could lie down and take a nap! But I'm afraid of people stealing my stuff, sadly...

I am glad I brought the walker. My legs are already starting to hurt.

But, hey, guess what? I'm officially certified in CPR for healthcare providers!

And Grampa was doing well. He should be getting out today. Thankfully, they didn't have to cut him all the way open. They just did an incision big enough for the surgeon to stick his hand in there, and a couple of other incisions for the camera and the robotic tool. He'll be down and out for a while, though. A colon suture is not a wound that you want to break open... talk about infection!

And now... to end on the cutest note I've ever seen... C showed me this video last night and I just lost it. Look at those eyes!


S thinks that it took coming in contact with 4 people who were sick to create a "super virus" that took him down. I was doing well on the staying healthy front... until S went down. Then I got super sick. Yesterday was spent in a haze of feverish sleep, achy muscles, and crazy dehydration. I feel better today, but I'm still under the weather. At least the fever is broken. (So much for my grandiose plans of cooking and packing and cleaning!)

It must have been a super virus, because it took C out, too. He started sniffling yesterday morning, and by the time he came home from work he was constantly blowing his nose. By bedtime he was in sweats, shivering with fever.

Today, before his fever went down, he wanted me to cuddle with him to keep him warm. I figure I've got an immunity to this thing now, and I was already in bed, so why not? He was in a lovey mood for sure. He kept rubbing my arm or my side, squeezing my hand, wrapping my arm around him, saying "I love you, lady."... but there was one thing that melted my heart.

"I loves you, lady."

"I loves you, too."

"I think I need two of me to love you as much as I should."

"What makes you say that?"

"Because you're worth it."

Yeah. I melted, pretty much. :) And then we drifted contentedly off into feverish sleeps. lol
There it is, in all its garish glory. The Bling Chariot.

I was debating on whether or not to post any pics of the Chariot, or myself with it, on fb, but I've decided that... I really don't feel like dealing with the questions... regardless of how proud I am of my artwork. 

I won't hide it, so if it ends up in my pictures during the holiday, that's fine. But I'm not going to go out of my way to announce that I've got a walker now. (Besides... it's not like I use it all the time, anyway...)

I think I've figured out a way to articulate what my big deal is with this fibro stuff.

So I'm walking down the street, minding my own business, when all of a sudden someone hands me a grand piano.

I never asked for a grand piano. I do not want a grand piano. But that doesn't matter, because now I have a grand piano to carry around.

The problem is that a grand piano is big and heavy, and there are all these awkward edges that I keep bumping into, and quite frankly I'm not even sure how to hold a grand piano in the first place! I mean, I don't even know how to play the piano.

The best part? It's a magical piano, visible only to a select few. To most people, I'm just staggering around for no good reason.

So I've got this grand piano, and it's big and heavy and I'm trying to figure out what to do with it, because carrying around a grand piano is very new to me. What I'm hoping for is that someone will see how big and heavy and awkward this piano is and come help me carry this thing. I see C standing off to the side and I think, "Oh, he'll help me carry this piano! He cares about me, so of course he'll help me carry it." But C doesn't come help me carry the piano, and I am disappointed and confused, although I can't really articulate why.

From C's point of view... I have a grand piano. There is nothing he can do about that, and although he would love to help me carry it, he can't do anything because his hands go right through it. All he can do is be there for me as I try to learn how to carry this piano around.

I realized that I have been hoping that someone would come help me carry this piano-- friends, family, anyone! I actually envied my friend with cancer a little bit, because people get behind someone with cancer and show such solidarity and support... and I want that, too! I want people to help me carry my piano!

But C showed me that no one can. I have to learn how to carry this big ol' thing on my own. People will be there for me, but that's pretty much it...

It is a big psychological hurdle for me to jump, this fibro... it's not like I didn't struggle with it before, but knowing what it is, as well as the vicious pace of symptom progression, has made it difficult to wrap my brain around.

Hearing Mom explain my "old lady disease" to my brother kinda wilted something inside of me... it sounded so sad! And I'm a little angry, because it's not fair that other diseases get recognition, you know? But something like this... It's like no one but me realizes that my future has been irrevocably altered! Or it's like people pity me, but no one is upset on my behalf, I guess. I just wanna yell out, "HEY! This is as serious as cancer to me!" If I were fighting cancer, I'd be upset that I might not get to live the life that I want, that it may all just go away... and I'm facing the same thing now! My life is at stake, but it's so subtle that no one picks up on it...

I'm fighting for my life, too. And if I don't fight... I may as well just lay down and die, frankly...

Maybe I just really want someone to help me carry this damn piano, but it's a wish that will never be fulfilled.

I'm just reeling from the shock, still... not sure where to grip this thing, or how to carry it without the sharp edges banging into me. And I'm not sure what exactly I'm wanting or needing from those around me, but... I do feel pretty alone. And it's sad.

Anyway, I plan to learn to play the piano. So there. :)
Well, after much hard work and preparation.... I missed two questions on my A&P final. It's okay. They were questions that weren't on previous tests, so I would have had to have been studying ALL my notes from the semester to have caught them, since I didn't remember off the top of my head. 98% is not bad, and I finished the class with 801/800 points. Yay! My goal for that class was to finish with extra points, so... Mission Accomplished!

My math final is tomorrow, and I'm a little nervous... because I spent so much time studying for this other class, I have neglected to study math. That's what today is for. But it's not like I have to memorize definitions or anything... it's just working out problems, and I've already done the prep worksheet. I'm just going to go back over the worksheet and see how I worked out the problems.

I picked up my walker yesterday. The lady I bought it from was very sweet, but she said, "You look a little young to be needing a walker..." LOL! Yes, well...

I'm itching to get to work on blinging it out, but I know that I need to focus on studying first. Priorities, priorities... Once my math final is over, I can work on my walker and start packing for my trip home. I'm so excited!!

Anyway, I've settled on a name for the walker-- the Bling Chariot. It's gonna be freakin' sweet.
I had a dream about zombies last night.

Strange, I know.

Anyway, today's the day of my first final! I've been studying hard, and I feel confident. I have one more final to do (math), and a project to turn in for my online class, and then I'm freeeeeeeeeeee! Wednesday is the last day of school stuff for meeeeeee! (Except for ordering books and applying for scholarships and preparing for next semester. lol)

Today, I go to pick up my walker.

I'm still not sure how I feel about this. I told C last night that I'm excited, because I feel like the only other option is to be devastated. Sooo.... excitement, it is! Here's the craigslist photo:


My plan is to pimp my ride over the next few days, and I sure wish I had a camera... Oh, wait! My computer has a camera. Silly me. :) Yeah, so I'm going to pick up nail polish from the dollar store and paint flames on the legs and maybe wrap the foam bar in brightly colored duct tape. I might possibly make use of adhesive gems, as well, or some sparkly stickers.

But I need a name for my new hot rod... I'll have to think on it.

I wonder if people will treat me differently on days when I'm using a walker?

Meme

Speaking of support networks...

...I have the best friends ever.

J made me a personalized meme, patterned after an inside joke, to go with my new experience.


I love my friends. (This is now my desktop background.)
I've been doing some thinking today.

Clearly. (Today is a prolific post day, it seems.)

Today was a tough fibro day, especially pain and mobility-wise. It got me to thinking about my long-term strategies for living with my new reality. I had spent the last few weeks being miserable with my new meds, yet hoping that they would magically cancel out the fibro symptoms. Alas, I have come across statistics in several places that indicate the meds will only help about 50% of fibro peeps with about a 40% diminishing of symptoms.

Basically? It's here to stay. Like my food allergies. Like my hypothyroid. Like my trashed adrenals.

This is my new life. Welcome to it.

But I've also been thinking... I don't want it to be a dismal thing.

I mean, sure... I could focus on the pain, on the limitations, on what's been taken away from me... and I may, from time to time. I won't lie. Sometimes I want to just sit down and cry.

However.

I have a friend who is going through cancer treatments. It started off as breast cancer, metastasized to her liver and brain, and recently showed up on her brain again. She has become The Chemo Princess, and wears a tiara and carries a magic wand with her to every treatment and doctor's appointment. She lets her personality and her joy for life just shine through, and she totally rocks that cancer. (If that makes sense.)

And someone posted this video on her wall, which I watched and came away totally inspired. Like, seriously... it speaks to me in a very deep way. This is my "Fight!" theme song for when I am tempted to curl up in a ball and whimper my way into the night.


I don't have cancer. My illnesses are chronic, but they are not life threatening.

But still, it got me thinking... about how I, too, want to live my life with the joy that I see in those ladies who are fighting for their lives.

In a way, I am fighting for my life, too. Not in the sense that I will die, but in the sense that my dreams, my every day life, my previous way of living... it's all at risk. It's all up in the air.

Will I continue to pursue my dreams, or will I run up against a brick wall and think, "I can't"?

Seriously... I've been wondering lately if I can do this massage thing. It would be so easy to think, "I can't", and give up. But no, I know that I can!

Granted, I have to make adjustments. That's a given. There are things that will be new, scary, uncertain... and there will be things that will be infinitely more difficult than they once were. There are also things that will get easier with time and practice.

But, I mean... I want to live my life with joy and intention. Rather than let this stymie me and stunt me, leaving me a crippled shadow of what I might have been, I want this to be a wake up call to be intentional, to be grateful, and to take advantage of every "good" moment that I have. I want it to teach me to rely on others when I have to, and to be relied on in turn in whatever ways I can.

I know I'll have bad days. Like today. Limping through Wal-mart at half the speed of everyone else... I didn't feel much like smiling. But there were things that did bring a smile to my face. Joy doesn't translate into bliss, I know that. I won't always be in a happy mood. I know that. But I can live a life of joy.

I want to be an inspiration like those ladies are. I want people to spend time around me and come away thinking, "Yeah! I can do _____! It's totally possible! Man, I love life! It's hard sometimes, but I sure do love life." 'Cause that's what I think when I see those ladies and interact with my friend.

I wish I could adequately describe how it feels to have optimism take root inside after feeling little but shock, denial, and disappointment about my new diagnosis until now.

I can still live a good life. It is going to look different than anything I'd ever planned for myself, but I can still live a good life.

I don't believe that God planned this for me. "Plan" denotes that he would intentionally inflict me with these diseases, and I just can't believe that. Allow? Clearly. Prevent? Obviously not. But plan? Don't think so. I would say, rather, that this is being woven into the tapestry of my life. And I can accept that.

I'm planning to buy a rolling, folding walker for my trip back home this Christmas. It'll help me with all the walking I have to do (after hours of sitting--ouch!), and I can use it to help carry my backpack, maybe even as a place to rest if I get one with a seat. I'm going to run the idea past C after Nerd Night wraps up, but I think it would be helpful, even for days like today. I tried using the shopping cart as a walker of sorts, but the metal and plastic digs into my hands/arms and hurts just as badly as walking, maybe more. He didn't like the idea of my borrowing one of the electric scooters they provide, but he can't put his finger on a reason why. He just didn't want to be seen with someone in one of those. (Ouch, a little...) I hope he'll be okay with a walker.

So. Changes. I need to take care of myself better. I need to start eating proper meals, nausea or not. I need to get mild exercise, pain and fatigue or not. I'm trying to branch out and find a support network on the internet of other "fibromites".

I am challenged. I am encouraged. And I am hopeful.

'Cause, I mean... what doesn't kill you makes you stronger! :)

Note: Despite the optimistic overtones of this post, I did shed some tears while having the "I think I need to buy a walker" conversation with C. He casually said, "Well, if you think you need it, go for it." I don't know what I was expecting, but somehow that brought up second-guessing thoughts. "Do I really need it? I mean, can't I just suck it up, and... No! You need to take care of yourself!" 

I believe I'm making the right choice, though it's hard. I did cry, mostly because I never thought that I'd be in a place where I'd even consider buying a walker, much less at 24. I feel a little like a faker, like I couldn't possibly really need something like that because only people who actually have it badly need stuff like that, and it could always be worse, so I will never qualify.

Okay, seriously? I would have been happy to have a walker today. I would have. And yes, that makes me sad. I suppose I'm just grieving... grieving for the life that might have been and has been-- the healthy (hah!), active girl who goes backpacking with her friends... vs. the girl who now needs a walker. I'm afraid to be an embarrassment to C, and even more afraid of being a burden.

I know it's not for every day. But it's still a shock. Sobering. This is real. This is here. This medicine has not cured you. This is a part of your life.

I know not every day will be like today, but it can feel that way when you're hurting. But I know it won't be.

So I'm going to buy that walker, I'm going to wrap it up in neon duct tape (so it will look cool, of course! 'Cause really? If I'm gonna do this, I'm gonna do it right!), and I'm going to smile. I'm going to be grateful for a fiance that stands by me through good days and bad, and who is willing to buy his woman a walker if she needs it... even if she is only 24.
So I totally hyped myself up for nothing.

The evening with SOULS went well; so well, in fact, that I'm doing it again next Friday. It was good to see A. I didn't realize how much I missed her until we were hanging out again.

One of her girls was like, "You guys seem like sisters!"

We exchanged glances/grimaces and said, "We pretty much are..."

When A introduced me to the group, she included a brief synopsis of our history, which went something like this:

"This is my friend C. We graduated SOULS together... and academy... and canvassed together... and did an underwater basket weaving class together..."

I, of course, kept a straight face and rolled with it. The best part is that they totally believed her! :D When one of the students came up and asked about underwater basket weaving, we bounced back and forth on how underwater basket weaving is superior to dry basket weaving, because the weightlessness makes it easier for you to shape the overall product, and the strands are easier to keep in place, and... It was really funny, actually. We eventually told them the truth.

So, nothing negative went down. Was I almost hoping that it would? Maybe.

I realized, while listening to experiences and testimonies, that I was judging them much the way that I had anticipated that they would judge me. What a hypocrite, eh? So I knocked it off.

I was a little overwhelmed when they first showed up, because the girls flooded the kitchen, one after another, introducing themselves and trying to hug me and wishing me happy Sabbath and offering to help. They reminded me of a bunch of little A's (my BW partner). I was like, "Oh, yeah... I forgot how 'social' SOULS kids are..." But it was okay. They were all nice.

I am, however, glad that I'm no longer part of that culture. It was tiring, in many ways. I like my life, and I'm happy with where I'm at. But it was good to see where I've come from, you know?

After the evening was over, I headed back to the church and gave A a nice, 45-minute massage. She gave me really good feedback, and said that she can definitely see improvement from the last time I've massaged her. (20x better!)

Unfortunately, I was already having a tough time yesterday, physically... but I was so focused on the massage that I didn't think about anything else. I definitely overdid it, especially by kneeling and crouching for those 45 minutes on a hard floor and the repetitive motion that a massage naturally entails. I am feeling it today, and in a lot of pain.

I would venture to say, though, that it was probably worth it. I mean, this fibro stuff tends to be cyclical, I'm noticing... and I was already headed downward. And A really needed that massage. I won't be doing it next week, though.

I was thinking about my trip back home... and how that can potentially be a nightmare. I have a feeling that I'm going to need to seriously dope myself up. Hours of sitting, combined with carrying my stuff through long stretches of airport-- something I haven't thought twice about in years past. Now it's just another obstacle to consider and overcome... like food.

C and I are both learning bits and pieces about this new facet of my life. I share what I learn with him, and vice versa.

For the wedding, I plan to set up an air mattress with blankets and pillows in the bed of his truck so I have somewhere to lie down and rest should I need to. I'm also going to wear my fancy shoes for the ceremony, but I'll be changing into my combat boots for the reception. No sense in bringing unnecessary pain upon myself.

We'll figure it out, one way or another.

Time to go study. My first final is a day and a half!
Good grief, what am I doing up this early?

I could go to church, if I wanted to.

Hurts too much to go anywhere, though...

Hurts too much to sleep.

I'm surprised I got any at all, restless as it was.

Then again, it's like that most nights these days... just without the pain.

Here's hoping those pain killers actually work...

I wonder if I can hobble to the bathroom and draw a hot bath?
Well, the Christmas tree is up and littered with ornaments now. I mean, it's been up for a while, and lit with lights, but I finally got some ornaments and hung them up today. By "got", I mean "borrowed from D". Heh.

I finished everything but one assignment for my online class (an assignment that's worth more than the final, I might add!), and my math final got moved to Wednesday, so things are a bit less hectic for me than I thought they would be. *Whew!* So now I can focus especially on studying for my A&P class, which (thanks to my previous study and my sharp mind) I now have extra points in. Is there a grade for that beyond A+? Anyway, I worked the numbers and figured out that I can miss 69 of 200 questions on the final without sliding down to a B. Any more than that, though, and I lose my A. Though it is doubtful that this will happen, except in the event of a spontaneous lobotomy, it's nice to know that I've got such a big cushion. Honestly, though, I really want to get a perfect score on the final and finish the class with extra points, like I am in my online class. That would be cool. I've worked hard towards that, too.

I was noodling around on my guitar while taking a break from studying for A&P, and I happened to play "Never Part Again". Then, of course, I got homesick! So I called the S's, and D answered. He sounded pretty good at the outset, but I know that talking can be a challenge for him at this point... Sure enough, after a few minutes of back and forth chat, his voice was getting strained and he was clearing his throat several times. Under the pretense of getting back to studying, I ended the conversation sooner than I would have liked, but I don't want to unnecessarily burden him. I'm saddened and frustrated by the realization that he's slipping away, despite everything they've done to stop it.

Another friend of mine is beginning another round of chemo for persistent brain cancer, and her husband organized a "bring the bling" encouragement drive on fb, since they call her The Chemo Princess. Someone gave her a tiara and a wand and such, which she takes with her to every appointment. I didn't have a tiara or a wand to join in the bling encouragement fest, but I scrounged around and came up with what I could find...

Meh. Close enough.

I posted that to her wall with a note of encouragement/gratitude. I hope it brings her a smile :)

Life. Is it fair for me to be happy while so many others are suffering? I guess we all have our own tragedies...

I'm joining SOULS at BJ's house tomorrow night for worship and lentils. I'm gonna take my guitar, I'm not gonna take out my earring, and I'm not gonna take off my engagement ring. I have a Magabook experience to share, believe it or not! And I don't mind bringing in the Sabbath, even if I'm not SDA anymore. Of course, I won't advertise that fact... I still really like Sabbath, and I love bringing in the Sabbath with others who enjoy it.

I'm hoping that there will be little to nothing in the way of pressure/judgment from anyone (especially A), but if there is, I intend to stand my ground and keep my boundaries intact. I am not ashamed of my life, myself, or my man, and I will not let anyone cow me into feeling that way. I am also not ashamed of where I am with God right now, as it is honest. I would rather be authentic than accepted, I think... and if it comes down to that, so be it. But I don't think it will. For all my fears, SOULS kids (and staff) do tend to be gracious, at least to people's faces. It's just the zeal that I'm worried about...

I asked C last night a couple of clarifying questions, because I didn't want to get my hopes up if there weren't any reason for it.

From the financial timeline he laid out, I got the impression that we would be ready to start looking for a house about the time that I get back from visiting the folks for Christmas. (That's about a month from now, for those of you keeping track.)

I asked if that were truly the case, and he said, "Yeah, that sounds about right."

Wait, seriously? We're going to be ready to look for a house when I get back?

"Unless something happens that sets me back, yeah."

WAHOOOOOO!

I excused myself under the blankets for a moment and silently screamed my excitement.

It's going to fly by, because I have several Big Events between now and then, and we all know that helps to speed things up.

Test tonight, then finals next week. Then the HJ Christmas party, followed by my CPR class, the day after which I will fly home.

Then it's two weeks of crafting, cooking, and enjoying my niece and family, during which time Christmas and New Year's will come and go, of course.

Then it's back home, rest for a few days, and school commences almost immediately.

Whew. Talk about a whirlwind adventure!

But still. I'm so excited.
Funny thing-- I decided to try pork, since I'm already apostatized and all, right?

Yeah, well, it doesn't sit too well with me. Bacon, either... though I love bacon so much more...

But really... It pretty much just makes me sick.

Touche, Jesus. Touche.

On another note, the meds are still kicking my butt, just when I thought they weren't...

Went to bed a little early, but I slept restlessly and woke at 5 a.m., unable to sleep again. Stupid gastrointestinal problems. (This was unrelated to my porcine adventures.) So I had some quality time with my colon, and was finally able to sleep again an hour later. (Interesting note-- this new med has a side effect of constipation. I was already struggling with that! So now it's so much worse... Meaning that I have to go the little old lady route and start taking Metamucil or something.)

After I fell asleep, I proceeded to sleep through my alarms, through my class, and through C getting up to get ready for work. I was out, man. You couldn't have pried me out of bed with a jackhammer. Okay, maybe with a jackhammer. But very little else!

I was able to get out and take a mile and a half walk yesterday, despite having some waves of dizziness and nausea, and I hadn't had the overwhelming urge to sleep in the middle of the day, or those crippling yawns, so I thought I was good, yeah?

Ah, today proved me wrong, on so many fronts. Still, it's not as terrible as it was when I first got on this med. It's getting better. And the joint pain seems to be receding, though I'm cautious of proclaiming myself whole too soon.

Anyway, I had some valuable time for introspection and Should battling because, yes, I felt guilty and lazy for missing class and for not being "okay" and for falling down on the job.

Yo, girl-- you've got a lot on your plate right now. No wonder you're stressed! It's okay. And it's okay to not be okay for a while. You're getting there, a little bit at a time. Now chill, okay? You're doing your best.

Damn straight I am!

Anyway, I used the rest of the afternoon pretty productively, I'd say... I went to my doctor and got her to sign off on some papers I need for the massage program, I got two vaccines, a urine drug test, some blood drawn for proof of two other vaccines, and I located the building for my TB test.

After that, I went on to get 102% on my A&P test that covered bone and muscle structures.

So, despite my "shortcomings" of the morning, I did pretty good today. Oh, and I did dishes and made the bed. And I ate. Twice. (Though this last one was a mistake... ate the pork. Bad idea.)

I'm working on the math that I missed this morning, and soon C will be home from work. We're going to discuss vaccines and our future children-- fun, fun!

Also, exciting developments on the home front! According to C's calculations, we should be ready to start looking for a house about the time I come back from vacation! :D

(WooHOO! I got 100% on my math homework!)
I decided to see what a day of doing "nothing" was all about, so today I slept in, did some mindful breathing exercises, took a shower, read a book, made some supper (finally getting back into the swing of eating real food! Well, at least once a day...), and now I'm going to take a walk. (I may or may not have tidied the kitchen, done some dishes, and waged war against roaches. But that doesn't count!) I managed to do all that without having to interact with anyone, or even really leave the bedroom more than necessary.

Mercifully, C and I are on similar pages when it comes to people staying over when we've got our own home. Because Nerd Nights are back-to-back, if someone lives way out in the boondocks and can't get a ride out and back, it's okay if they crash on a couch or something... as long as they're not just... how do I put it? Lazing around all day? Like, if they've got somewhere to go during the day, we're cool. And really? If someone is having an emergency and needs a place to stay, that's fine. But none of this shiftless couch-surfing.

Anyway, just fighting the Shoulds a bit today... have to remind myself that I'm still a good, worthwhile person even if I'm not actively "achieving" anything... and so are the shiftless couch-surfers. Even if they annoy me. :)

Aaaaaaand... I'll be back to studying this evening. It was a nice break, though. I felt as though my brain was about to melt down!

Guess I can't quite make it a full day of "nothing". The drive to be productive is too strong.
I get moody on the weekends. Kinda cranky, kinda irritable, kinda way more introverted than usual...

...and I think a lot of it has to do with "Nerd Night".

It's not the fact that all these people come over and hang out and play games. That's not it at all. In fact, I rather like the idea of having a weekly game night. It's cool.

I just find myself increasingly frustrated by the purposelessness and lack of productivity that characterize the people that end up hanging out over the weekend.

Maybe it's just that I've always disliked weekends. Routine goes down the drain, and you never really know if it's going to be a good day or a bad one... at least, that's how it was growing up. The stability of school/work is gone, and time stretches endless and unstructured before you. Meals may or may not happen. I may or may not be locked in my room. We may or may not go to church. G may or may not be in a crappy mood. Mom may or may not be happy.

The days were just... blah. Empty. Purposeless. Threatening.

And it's different, when you work hard during the week and then on your days off you want to just chill, like C does, or his brother D. But even then, they aren't just constant vegetables, you know? They do stuff, they read things, they learn, they discuss...

S and his friends... when they're over here, they watch stupid, mindless shows/cartoons or play video games. They sit. Or they go to the store for more soda. That's pretty much it.

And I hate, hate, hate coming out the morning after Nerd Night to find my house dirty, some person on the couch, and everyone just... sitting. All day. Dishes in the sink don't matter. The messed up living room doesn't matter (because as long as you're sitting in the mess, it doesn't exist, right?).

It's just so... unproductive. So pointless. I hate having all that in my space.

I just have to remind myself that it's not that much longer... and when we get our house, we won't have people staying over, lingering the whole weekend. Right now, it's S's friends, so I can't say anything... 'cause he lives here too.

But it's these pointless people... Dirtying my house. Eating my food. Disrupting my study time. Taking up my space. Stinking up the house with their smelly feet.

Can you tell I'm annoyed? I get this way.

It threatens my routine. It poisons my vibe. I don't like it.

Get the hell out of my house.

Go be pointless somewhere else.

Note: I talked to C about it when he got home... actually, I apologized in advance for being cranky, and he insisted that I tell him why I would be cranky. He says he understands and it's okay. He also pointed out that, while I'm okay with the idea of Nerd Night, I have a difficult time with the reality of it. He's right. I don't mind it in theory at all, I think it's a cool thing. However, it's the reality that accompanies it-- the loud noises late into the night, the dirtying of the house, the extra people, etc...

We didn't come to any conclusions about it, as in there were no offers made to change anything and I didn't demand any. When we're in our house, C will have a "man cave" where they'll be playing. It'll be a different situation entirely, and I know this... so I can deal with these annoyances now. It's really not worth making a big deal about, especially because it's partially just how S chooses to live his life. I can't be like, "I don't like your life; knock it off!"

Anyway, it just felt good to express my frustrations, to be heard and understood, and for it to be okay that I was annoyed without any negative repercussions.

I did, however, make it a point to ask C last night if they could have Nerd Night somewhere else next week, as it will be the weekend before both of my finals on Monday, and I MUST have that time to study and sleep.

Note within the note: C has begun voluntarily including me in his finances, so I know where his bank accounts are at and how much he can expect to be pulling in the next month or so, how much he'll be paying in bills, and just about when he'll be ready to get the ball rolling. Just a couple more paychecks...! Anyway, it makes me feel good that he's including me in that; it puts me at ease, and I feel trusted. Since he's mostly supporting me now, it probably feels more like we've got the "joint finance" thing going on than before.
Nothing overly dramatic to report.

I went to see The Nutcracker last night with the group ladies, as the local newspaper gave us all free tickets. That was really neat, and I took a friend from school with me. It's nice to be making friends, although I notice that I'm much more reserved here than I have been in the past. I think it has to do with the low energy levels... I just don't have it in me to maintain my current relationships and then add some on top of that! Anyway, the ballet was cool. They mixed in some contemporary-style numbers throughout the show, so it ended up being more like "Nutcracker: The Remix". I enjoyed it.

I'm making a crockpot roast for me and the guys today. We'll have a nice dinner together before Nerd Night starts up, and I'm looking forward to it. I even picked up some of those mini Martinelli's from the dollar store last week, since I had five extra dollars over my normal weekly food budget. C bought me dates and OJ concentrate, so I blended them together for a faux-pineapple glaze. We'll see how that turns out...

Finals are in ten days, so I'm really applying myself to schoolwork and study. Good news! I didn't miss a single day of class this last week! Also, I'm like .08 points away from having an A in my algebra class. That is exciting. I found this last week that I have a 99.6% in my A&P class, and I have over 100% in my other class. In addition to all that exciting stuff, I checked with financial aid, and I'm covered for this next semester, which means I can breathe easy about the massage course. Yesssssss! I'm still planning to apply for scholarships, however. The less of the government's money I have to use, the happier I'll be.

I'm doing better with the med side effects. Well, I was, anyway. The pharmacist told me that I can expect to be dealing with them for about a month or so... And that's probably when the meds will start really kicking in. It takes several weeks for them to begin to work. The side effects were diminishing toward the end of the first week, and I was optimistic, but then my dosage had a scheduled increase, so I'm going through it again. Thankfully, it's not quite as severe this time. Boy, can you imagine if they had started me off on the high dosage right away? I would have jumped off a bridge or something.

Unfortunately, from what I read about SNRI's (and Cymbalta in particular), it has "the discontinuation syndrome from hell", which means that, should I ever need/decide to quit, it's going to be rough. Really rough. I mean, the stuff is not addicting, but it's messing with brain chemicals, and that takes adjusting... and has ramifications. *sigh* Calculated risks, you know?

The day after my "I'm scared" day was better. I felt pretty good, so I put up the Christmas tree and studied and went to class and all kinds of stuff... then came down with a roaring headache. Ah, well, can't be completely free, I guess.

Yesterday was okay. I was limping by the end of the day, but it wasn't too bad. C didn't notice until we were walking and his arm was over my shoulder, so it couldn't have been too severe. I spent most of the day asleep, honestly. I woke up in time to throw on some clothes and drive to school, but class let out early so I came home and napped for... the whole afternoon. I think I woke up once to use the restroom, then I was out again. I got up in time to shower and get ready for the ballet last night. By the time my regular bedtime rolled around, I could barely crawl into bed. I didn't even brush my teeth.

So, besides the nausea/lack of appetite and the difficulty sleeping/unbelievable fatigue and the crazy dehydration... I'm doing okay. I have a headache today, too, but that's nothing a couple NSAIDs can't fix.

Oh, and guess what? If I drink alcohol while I'm on my new meds, my liver might explode! Enforced sobriety :) Not that I was a drinker before... Oh, yeah, and smoking will decrease the effectiveness. So I'm forcefully on the track to healthy living. That's funny... because I didn't do any of those things, anyway, but now I couldn't even if I wanted to!

Ahhh, yes. I forgot. SOULS is in town, as of today. Well... I'm sure there will be posts on that forthcoming.

I want to just avoid them (you know, 'cause I'm a backslidden heathen these days), but that's not healthy or productive. Plus I want to see A. I just don't want to get judged or criticized... and SOULS kids are so, so good at doing that... all in the name of the gospel. Of course.

So, we'll see. We shall see.

(Did I mention that I've got my tickets to go home for Christmas?!?!?!?! I get to see Peanut!! Uh, and the rest of the family too. Of course. ^_^)

Scared.

I haven't told this to anyone yet... not even C... but I'm scared.

I'm scared of this fibromyalgia.

I'm scared at how rapidly and fiercely it's developing.

In the span of just a few short weeks it's moved from my lower body to my upper, and then on some days it hurts to walk now, and sometimes it hurts to use my arms/hands, and it's gotten to the point (and getting worse) that it hurts to be touched significantly. It hurts to exert effort. My muscles get fatigued with very little provocation. Even doing my hair can push me to the limit some mornings.

I'm scared.

I'm scared because, although it's hurt to walk some lately, today it hurt to walk. I thought about crying a couple of times today because of the pain, but then I thought better of it and worked on being grateful. But when I gave hugs all around to the girls at group... it hurt me.

That makes me want to cry.

My house is falling into disrepair because I can't keep up on the housework due to fatigue, and, well... pain. I made the bed just now, and it took a lot. And it hurt.

It hurt to make the bed.

You can't see it, but I'm crying.

I feel like my life is being taken from me.... and I'm scared.
The cute and sweet: C and I went grocery shopping last night. He came home and I mentioned that I needed to go buy water, but that I was tired and hurting and didn't want to... so he put on his jeans and made me go with him. And, because I was super fatigued and it hurt to walk, he suggested that I ride on the front of the cart while he pushed me. So I did.

While browsing the meat section, C automatically began checking the ingredients on the various products he was interested in, putting each one back when he came to some ingredient I couldn't eat. He knows my allergies just about as well as I do, and he automatically checks for them. Isn't that sweet?

Also, he won't kiss me for at least half an hour after he's eaten something I'm allergic to, and usually after washing it all down with some sort of drink that's safe.

Since we made the agreement that he would help support me until I'm out of school, he has given me money every Sunday without my ever saying anything. And he pays for whatever groceries I pick out while I'm with him.

While pulling out of the store parking lot last night, I told him, "I really appreciate your taking care of me."

"I don't mind."

"I know you don't, and it really impresses me. I mean, if you're taking care of me like this when I'm 'just your fiance' and you're not even legally responsible for me or anything, I know that I can trust you in the future, no matter what happens. I feel totally safe."

"Well, good."

"Yeah. It shows your character. You're a good guy."

And I know that, whatever kind of little family we end up with, I can trust him to take care of us and provide for us or die trying. I also know that he won't leave me because we fall on difficult times. Very, very comforting.

Now for the ridiculous: part of all this joint stuff that turned out to be fibro is that, at times, it can hurt to be touched a lot. And I'm super fatigued and don't have much energy to exert right now.

I'm going into a massage therapy training program where we'll be working on each other for literally hours a day.

Ahh, what curve balls life throws at me... I mean, who would have thought that the year I finally decide I'm going for my massage license I come down with something like this?!

Oh, well. At least it makes for a good, inspiring story :) Because I am going to complete this course and get my license. Even if it kills me. Which it very well may.
I went to the church that the fibro support group was at, only to be cornered by the pastor for half an hour while waiting to find that the meeting had been canceled. (The facilitator is in the hospital, so no one else showed.)

While making initial small talk, I mentioned that I'd moved here not too long ago, and that I ended up staying because of school and the fact that I got engaged. He asked where we went for premarital counseling, I told him, and he asked if that's the church we went to on Sundays. I said no, I don't go to church and C's an atheist.

And he was off.

I am angry. Angry because he automatically assumed that C has no morals, simply because he doesn't derive them from God or the Bible. Angry because obviously I must be making a rushed, ill-informed choice, getting married that quickly. Angry because I'm only 24, and so that means that I'm making a mistake no matter how well-intentioned I am, because he was just like me at that age. (So it must be true!)

He's not only a pastor, he's a counselor. That means that he's insufferable in his certainty that he knows more than I, and he can counsel me into doing the right thing. Here's the deal: everything he told me during that half hour (including the sermonizing on God's love and his plan for my life, etc. etc.), I already knew. Talking about baggage and how my baggage and C's baggage will compound and we won't be able to work it out... Yeah. I already know the effects of negative life experiences on relationships, thanks. He drew the "love triangle"- you know, agape, phileo, and eros? As soon as he drew that triangle, I labeled it for him.

*Pointing at each tip of the triangle* "Agape, eros, phileo."

He didn't even pause. He just wrote down the names and kept going. Oh, yeah, but he drew a heart in the middle and labeled it Jesus, I think. Because none of them are possible without God's love.

Dude, I went to Bible college. An SDA Bible college. You can't pull something as basic as that (thanks, Hope!) and expect me not to call it.

It was just so angering. I felt so invalidated as a person, like my experiences and thoughts and life don't matter, because this guy knows more than I do, and apparently knows more about my life from the six sentences he heard, and he can tell me how to run it better than I could ever do on my own. And because I'm young, I can't make valid decisions. Right.

He gave me a piece of paper that he signed, and said that I should bring it back to him in a year and tell him how miserable I am in my marriage and how I want a divorce, because it's going to happen.

Yeah.

He blatantly said that I will be unhappy and get divorced. Mostly because I'm 24 and too young to make good decisions yet, and because I have baggage (which he just assumed I haven't dealt with at all, ever), and because C's an atheist.

All that was interspersed with the predictable Christian spiel about God's love and salvation and healing (the healing stuff came after he found out that I had "baggage") and how he planned my life down to the very details. I was getting real tired of this, so I outright told him that God's planning sucks, because my life has been terrible.

Then he changed his tune and said that it was because of the pain other people have caused, and then went off on this tangent about the people that he's counseled and how he helped them find healing, etc., and then he got back on the baggage tack again, which was unfortunate. And annoying.

Sometime in there, mixed in with his testimony about how empty his life was before God even though he "had it all" (Right. Like I said-- predictable.), he asked if there were ever a time that I felt really hopeless and empty. I said yes-- while I was at Bible college. (Probably not what he expected to hear. But he forgets that he doesn't know me.)

So then it was because religion; religion doesn't save you, only God's love. Only Jesus.

Ugh. Get me OUTTA HERE!

I'm just... seething.

Like, dude. You don't know me. You don't know anything about me except for the surface things that I mentioned to you. Just because you're a counselor you think you automatically have me figured out? And that you can "fix" me? How dare you presume to tell me that I will be ready to divorce my husband in a year? Who do you think you are?!

Oh, because love is blind, and you don't see the flaws when you're in love....

Yeah, well, I think that C and I must have something else going on besides "love" then, because we've faced plenty of real struggles and obstacles together, and we're not in "happy floaty fairytale time" like you assume we are.

So I was tossing around the idea of maybe going back to church lately.... but now I'm just like, "Oh. Yeah. Christians. I forgot."

I hate knowing that I used to do that to people in my quest to be a good Christian. I feel shame and regret.

And the worst part is that he's probably off whistling through the rest of his day, happy because he "witnessed" to some cynical girl who was going to make a terrible mistake.... and I'm over here, steamed and seething, wanting NOTHING to do with happy-sappy-love and dire predictions of doom because I won't accept sage wisdom.

No wonder C steers clear of churches.

Ugh. Insufferable.

Later Note: I forgot to mention that the pastor also wrote his phone number down by his signature, in case I ever needed to talk, because he can counsel me and recommend some books and stuff.  Sure. Thanks, pastor.

He also emphasized that he didn't mean it as a challenge. It's not a challenge. Um, yeah, actually it is! When I told the story, all of us had the same reaction: "Challenge accepted." 

C is of the opinion that I ought to troll him-- keep his phone number, get his e-mail, and keep him forcibly updated on the continued health and happiness of my marriage. You better believe that I will be hunting him down in a year, paper in hand and C by my side, to prove him wrong. I want to frame that piece of paper for reasons that I can't fully articulate here... but partially as a reminder that naysayers do not determine the fate of any of my choices or the success of my marriage. It is up to me to choose a healthy and happy marriage each day.

The guys all tell me they're proud of me. I'm proud of me too, for standing up and vocalizing some of my disagreements with him, rather than just nodding along and smiling.

C laughed and laughed while I vented, because now I understand from personal experience what he goes through when he talks to "church people".  The automatic assumptions and blanket generalizations that are so infuriating are not unfamiliar to him.

It's funny, but I feel closer to C now, after this annoying incident... I understand him better, empathize with him. Funny.

Side effects

My new medicine is not kind to me.

I took it before bed time last night, hoping that I'd be able to sleep through the ill effects, but I actually woke up because I was so sick. Though I managed to make it back to bed a few hours later, it was not a good night.

C thinks it's my body adjusting to the new meds... He won't let me quit taking them, not until I get ahold of my doctor on Monday. It's cause he sees people on psychotic medication (which anti-depressants fall under, I think) all the time at the jail, and he sees what happens when they abruptly stop their medicine, rather than tapering off. I guess he knows what he's talking about, but I still feel pretty miserable.

I'm headed off to that fibro support group in just a little bit. Maybe they'll have some insight or helpful tips?

I told C last night after we climbed into bed, "Well, we've got the 'in sickness' part down. Let's work on the 'in health' part!"

He replied, "Oh, that's the part that I've got. We're covered."

Hah. Funny boy.
Well, the two sides of the family have met at last. (Parts of them, at least.)

Gramma, Grampa, and I went to C's parent's house for Thanksgiving dinner. (Sort of parents... C's dad, R, and R's girlfriend, D.) D went out and bought me/cooked me all kinds of special food so that I could partake along with everyone else. I was flabbergasted and really honored. I think she likes me! :) Also, she's just a pretty amazing, generous person.

I remember being amazing at how wonderful and generous D's mom S was, back in up in Id, yet there was always something about her that made me a little uncomfortable... like she was expecting something from you somehow... There was a pressure to her generosity that made it so I was never fully at ease with her. D, though, is not like that. She's just generous, and you never feel pressured to be effusive in your thanks or that you'll have to match the gift later, nothing like that. It's kind of refreshing, actually. I want to be like that! (I have a feeling that I'm more of the former than the latter... and I know that I have some passive-aggressive ways about me. Trying to change that.)

Unfortunately, my new meds pretty much destroy me if I take them during the day, so I'm going to try taking them at night from now on. I took them in the morning so I was "off" all day, sad to say. I did thoroughly enjoy my time over there, though. My grandparents hit it off with C's family real well. Gramma hung out over by the kitchen with D and they swapped stories, and Grampa and R commandeered the couches to watch Dallas get slaughtered. (Ah, well, they made a good comeback, so I can't actually say slaughtered...)

During dinner, R kept us practically rolling with funny stories from his job (he is a deputy with the local Sheriff's Department). There was this one story about a couple of emus that they were called out to corral some years back that was hilarious. I can totally see C's facial expressions and gestures in R when he gets animated. (Or is it vice versa?) It's kinda weird, seeing him so happy and animated. I never saw that side of him when C's mom was still in the picture, sad to say. I'm glad to say that I (and everyone else who knows him) can see that I bring out the liveliness in C just like D does for R, and that's a good thing.

Also, roomie S showed up to hang out with D, C's brother, so that was fun. C and I (and S) went back over to his parent's after he got off of work, and D told me that she really liked my grandparents. Even S said that they were cool, which surprised him, because he knows they're very religious.

So, basically?  Project: Introduce The Families was a resounding success! D invited Gramma and Grampa over for New Year's, even though I won't be there, and they were pleased to accept the invitation! *Whew* I'm glad that went so well. I mean, I didn't expect it to be a problem, but you never know when drama might spring up for no good reason.
Well, I had my special doctor's appointment this morning. It ran super loooooong, and I ended up missing math class (and a big test). I did, however, get a doctor's note, and I can make up the test, so it's okay. Between a test and a diagnosis, I think I made the right choice. (Even if I did have to call Mom to help me decide whether to stay or not!)

So.

I have Fibromyalgia.

The doc's are also doing auto-immune tests to see what kind of involvement is going on there. They suspect connective tissue disease (but there are over 200 specific diseases under that umbrella, so we'll see where that leads!).

While conversing about this with J, she pointed out that I sounded really optimistic, and was I really okay with this?

Well, yes and no.

Part of me is ecstatic. I have a name for this soul-sucking nonsense. I can focus my energies on managing something real. Most importantly, I'm not crazy. This is a legitimate illness, albeit "invisible". And I can do research, figure out what kind of lifestyle changes I need to make to manage this better. I can manage something I have a name for. It's no longer that nebulous, nameless sickness that steals so much time from me, but something concrete that I can fight, manage, and work with. It's hard to fight a faceless enemy. You never really know if you're doing the right thing... or if it's all just chance.

Part of me though, is a bit crushed. I'll be honest. To be laden with the mantle of "chronic illness" at 24 is... well, it seems unfair. Why is my body so fragile and broken? I have my whole life ahead of me, and now it's tinged with the expectation of pain. It may go away, but it may not. It could be pain like this, every day, for the rest of my life. Fatigue, crippling me... keeping me from being the kind of mom that I want to be, the kind of wife that I want to be... the kind of employee that I want to be.

Will I be able to hike the Grand Canyon next summer? I don't know.

Will I end up in a wheelchair because it hurts too much to walk? It's a possibility.

Will I have days that I can barely muster the physical energy it takes to walk from my car to the classroom? Likely.

And the thought of facing that for the rest of my life is... daunting.

But.

But.

I'm sure some good is going to come out of this. Do I dare call it a tragedy? It feels a little like one to me, but on the other hand it doesn't. Maybe it's an opportragedy. Mostly opportunity with a little tragedy thrown in :)

So the docs put me on this antidepressant that's been proven to help with fibro. As uneasy as I was at the thought of being on antidepressants earlier this year (when I went to beg my doctor to help me overcome my horrific depression, and was told by my employer that if I got on antidepressants they'd have to let me go, which STILL irks me to no end), I don't mind so much now. Probably because it's not a mental thing that I'm working with, so I don't feel like "I can fix myself given enough time". It's physical, it's here, it's "permanent", and I know I can't go on living like I am.

And hey, this'll probably help with my depression, too. Two birds, one stone :) (Also, it's non-habit forming. Wheee-hew.)

I think more research is in order. I'm not just going to be like, "Okay, I have this, life goes on as normal." No way! I bet there are lifestyle changes I can make that would help... beginning with regular massages ;)

Also, I'm seriously asking questions about the role of seratonin now... Why does a Seratonin and Norepinephrine Re-uptake Inhibitor help with fibro? Is there some connection with chemical imbalance and the likelihood of fibro? Why is it mostly women in a certain age bracket that get it? What connection is there between depression and fibro/overactive nervous system? Because that's what fibromyalgia is, basically-- a hypersensitive nervous system. There's a bust in the chain somewhere that keeps pain signals going when there's no stimulus or reason for pain. A broken feedback loop.

It makes me want to go into neuropsychology even more. Oh, how I want to research these things!!!!
One thing I am so, so, SO looking forward to about "The House" (when it's just me and C, of course) is that I will have full reign of the kitchen. It will be a Safe kitchen, since C doesn't really cook, and he understands the importance of my eliminating even incidental allergen contamination. (Did I mention that I'm going to start cracking down on purchasing items that are processed in facilities that also process my allergens? Yep. You know that's gonna save me money on groceries! ^_^)

S, however... doesn't seem to grasp this.

I've stopped doing the guy's dishes. Since I implemented the Separate Sponge Policy (they have a sponge for their dishes, I have a sponge for my dishes) and have taken to using the same bowl and plate again and again, I've noticed improvements. I realized that doing regular dishes along with mine and using the same sponge was basically smearing allergic things all over my eating implements and my skin. No bueno.

At first S was really good about doing his own dishes. But the past few days... they've started to pile up. And for me it's kind of a matter of stubborn pride. Like, dude, I'm busier than you are, I'm allergic to the stuff you eat, so you're going to do your own dishes, k?

But last night when I came home from class, the counters are spattered with flour, there's a bowl of seasoned flour sitting out, and he fried his flour-covered food right next to where my muffins were cooling!

Really? Really??

I know it's hard to grasp these things when you don't have to worry about what you eat. But I guess what annoys me the most is not that he doesn't understand, but that when he does stuff like that it takes away my ability to choose. If I decide that I want to ingest an allergen and pay the cost, that's one thing. But when I am exposed with no say-so, that annoys me. Actually, it makes me a little angry.

So I'm really looking forward to having my own Safe kitchen. Until then... I'll keep coping the best I can.

And no, I'm not cleaning up that flour mess. I did that last time, with rubber gloves on. (I will, however, clean the counters again after he does, to get rid of as many lingering flour smears as I can. He's not as... thorough... as I am.)

And really? How do you ask someone to not make food in their own house? You don't. So I just have to put up with it, I think.