Here's the summary of my weekend that I posted in various forums and places on Facebook this weekend:

"My home has been invaded by long-distance cleaning fairies. They came over to see me and Drogo and to thoroughly clean our house and give me a massage. Basically? I cried at the incredible outpouring of love and care and consideration, and now I'm sitting here eating grapes, listening to Def Leppard, watching them clean and dance and be silly, and watch my husband assist/fetch cleaning supplies/be shooed out from underfoot. (I'm not allowed to help.) feeling overwhelmed by love with Lacey and 2 others.

So they just left… but three friends of mine conspired with my husband to show up and clean my house for me. They are from several hours away and were going to be coming to town for other reasons, so they were going to come and see us *anyway* to say hello, so they figured they'd just take care of me while they were at it  One of them, who I actually met for the first time yesterday, is a licensed massage therapist that has worked with fibro patients previously, and she gave me a foot massage yesterday and a back massage today. They did the dishes that I've been too sick to do for three weeks (yeah, ALL my dishes have been dirty for three weeks-- gross!), and I didn't realize how dirty my house had actually gotten until they cleaned it! One of them took nearly an hour to soak and nitty gritty scrub my bathtub so I could soak in super duper cleanliness, bless her heart.
I did what I could to express my thanks (beyond crying when I comprehended what they were here for when they showed up yesterday, of course!) so I made them little gift baskets last night and wrote them thank you cards with their names in hand-lettered calligraphy on the front and stamped wax seals on the envelope flaps. (Wish I'd thought to take pictures. Oh well.) They were so pleased! You'd have thought I'd given them the moon  The lesson I learned from both giving and receiving this weekend is that while it pays to give, it also pays to receive graciously and with humility and pure gratitude. It meant a LOT to those girls to be able to do something so obviously meaningful for me, even with no apparent reward anywhere in their future beyond my and Drogo's gratitude."

Yes, I cried when they revealed their intent. And I TOTALLY guessed who was mysteriously coming over! Drogo was having a prolonged text conversation and sporadic phone calls and wouldn't tell me who was coming over and I was like, "Is it Lacey?" (she lives hours away and we rarely get to see her) and he was like, "Why would it be Lacey?" Literally minutes later a knock sounds at the door and in walks Lacey. I knew it!!!!! And when they told me that they were there to clean the house and that the new friend was there to massage me, too I just broke down. I still burst into tears when I look around and see the cleanliness of my house. My heart just cannot hold that much love! Dani, Lacey's girlfriend, scrubbed and soaked and scrubbed and scrubbed my bathtub and shower until it sparkles and gleams because she knows that I soak in it a lot. 

See, I had sent out a plea on Facebook the other day, giving up my pride and just asking for help from my friends because I can't do this anymore. My pain levels are too high and I'm too sick and I just can't make life work all by myself anymore and I need help! I had dishes in the sink that had been there going on three weeks, and I was too weak to wash them. I was/am too weak to cook myself food, so I'm relying on easy-make foods like sandwiches, cereal, fruit, yogurt, certain veggies, etc. For various reasons, people were unable to come to my rescue, but these ladies began plotting and subsequently Facebook stalking me to make sure that no one else stepped in to do the job they intended to do, which no one did. So they bought all manner of cleaning supplies and brought grungy shirts and braved the dust and the mold and the kitty dander to which they are all allergic, and my home is so lovely and bright and inhabitable now, it just brings a smile to my face when I hobble through :)

I wanted to "pay it forward" somehow, desperately, to give something back somehow, so I put together little gift packages for each one of them that night after they left. (We went out to dinner together, too, so that was fun. Fortunately, due to some extra pain killers headed my way via an anonymous source the day before, I had my best day this entire month, no exaggeration, and I was able to be up and about with them in a halfheartedly normal manner.) They opened their gifts and read their cards while they were visiting with me this afternoon before they left to go home and I couldn't believe their heartfelt appreciation over something so small. I mean, they had given me something so incredibly heartwarming and valuable I felt as though my return gesture of appreciation was so feeble and faltering in comparison! But it was not so to them, and that is what matters.

The amazing thing is that just the gratitude that I had for the gift they gave me of their time and effort and taking care of something that I was not capable of doing on my own was enough for them. That was all they expected to receive, and it was more than enough for them. It meant so much to me, what they did, maybe more than they will ever understand. To go from being an active achiever, someone who "gets things done" to being unable to do your own dishes is… well, it's humiliating. You begin to question your own worth as a person, as a wife. What is the point of even keeping me around, you wonder. Why does my husband want me here? All I can do is sleep and generate mess. But these girls… they came in and gave me a fresh start. I can maintain the cleanliness, to a degree. When I use a dish, I clean it right away so it doesn't build up. They laughed with me and cracked jokes and told stories and, most of all, reaffirmed my worth as a person. They wanted to spend time with me. They came all this way for me. They wanted to do this for me, of their own free will. They went out of their way and went to trouble for me because I am of value. It cheered me up to an unspeakable degree. It's hard to explain.

As a side note, I also found a bit of usefulness as a chronic illness advocate as well. The massage therapist, Meli, has worked with fibro patients in the past but doesn't know much about the illness itself. Her mother deals with many chronic illnesses but is, as Meli describes it, a hypochondriac. She is the negative stereotype of chronic illness patients embodied, the type where they say "it's all in your head" and it's kinda mostly true. That's unfortunate, but that's kind of the place where she has had to base her knowledge and dealings from, because that's all she really knows of chronic illness. During her time with me, she asked me questions and I answered as best I could, and of course she saw me deal with everyday life in my fashion. In addition to that I mentioned something about spoons, which lead to my reading her The Spoon Theory by Christine Miserandino, which is like the American Constitution for chronic illness patients lol.

Well what is really neat is that today she told me that I have really changed her perspective on chronic illness, enlightened her, so to speak, and I feel much like how I used to when I worked with The Healing Journey and did advocacy for abuse survivors. This illness has taken so very much from me, and I suppose you could even say it has ruined my life. At this point, that could be a very accurate statement, though in the future that may no longer apply. (Fingers crossed!) However, as with the negative things that stem from abuse, I've managed to turn those potential life-ruiners into positives by using them to inform and educate others and advocate for rights, change, research, healing; whatever is necessary at that time. I'm a badass, man. Life can't keep me down, no matter how hard it tries! I'm just super grateful that I have helped Meli to understand fibromyalgia and chronic illnesses better, because as a massage therapist and a health practitioner, she has the potential to affect many lives in the future. By affecting her point of view, I have theoretically changed dozens, if not more, of lives of people that I will probably never meet. Crazy, right? All by simply being my awesome self and being honest yet upbeat about my struggles and health problems.

Things are looking up. I may not necessarily be on the mend (if this month is any indication, because it has been hell), but I can still be a positive force in the world even from within my prison of pain and other various symptoms. Watch out, world!

On another, slightly more humorous/bitter note, I made something for my new pain doc. I think she'll get a kick out of it. We hit it off pretty well, and she seems to have a sense of humor much like mine, though I would not dare to pull this on any of my other doctors. They'd make me pay in one way or another… but I figure this will emphasize the truth of my statement that this month has been the. worst. month. of my fibro. ever. EVER. (ever.) (The date is set for my next appointment. I'm fairly confident that the pain won't be going anywhere before then, soooo…)

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