I’ve been a bit low on spoons recently – ok, almost negative some days over the last month or so. Blog posts, social media & all things requiring thought or energy have been low down the list of to dos. Over the years I have been able to soldier on through the pain and dislocations, but I can honestly say that my worsening POTS/dysautonomic symptoms have made me feel so ill and the current drugs have done nothing to help. Tricky getting ready for Christmas then when also caring for a house full of teens/students “dying” with coughs & colds!
Wouldn’t it be great if chronic illness gave us a break over the holidays? When the slightest change in the weather didn’t send symptoms into flight & flare? Shame it doesn’t work like that, but instead can stop us in our tracks. I have lost count of the number of times in recent weeks when I have had to cancel plans, let people down and cursed my inability to just get on with life. POTS meant I missed my nephew’s birthday party – he wasn’t bothered as Uncle Duncan was much better at go karting and I had managed the tricky task of baking a Lego Star Wars cake.
The school Christmas fair and the Early Years nativity were also off the social calendar at the last minute. My teen daughter was secretly delighted that I wasn’t well enough to drag her to her school Christmas concert! I have cancelled coffee & lunch, rearranged and then the same again. We are supposed to feel merry & jolly in December, or so we are told, but it isn’t always easy when your body is screaming at you.
But there have been memorable moments. I have spent this year trying so hard to shift some of the massive amount of weight that I’ve gained (chronic pain, immobility and drugs…lyrica mainly!) and was just starting to get some of my old clothes on, when I find myself on a synthetic steroid that will cause my ankles to resemble an elephants. Fantastic! One of my “lovely” sons said that he hoped this would mean that I wouldn’t feel the need to starve myself over Christmas as I was going to get fatter anyway. Think there may be a silver lining there somewhere…..Then there was the first occasion that I put on my newly acquired compression tights – an ebay “bargain” at £30, I kid you not as they retail at £90! – it was a 2 person job, with my lovely girl helping her poor old mum puff & sweat the tightest lycra you can imagine up her legs. We were both exhausted and if ever there has been a time to feel light headed this was it. Then I remembered why I had put them on. I had a school reunion – an 80s decade reunion in fact – that I had helped arrange, and now I wouldn’t be able to go to the loo all day as I couldn’t get my tights up or down!!
Said day was a great success, friends showed up who I hadn’t seen since school and whilst being there with a wheelchair was hard to get my head around, I did it. About 40 converged upon a local hostelry for further refreshment after the formal lunch. Less said about the following days the better….
The wheelchair has seen some action and helped with Christmas shopping, a meal out and dragging the dog for walks. I must add here that none of this would have been possible without my spinal cord stimulator – whilst it does not get rid of my pain completely, I would be unable to cope without it. I might have missed some events, but we did see a particularly entertaining nativity “Lights, Camel, Action” performed by the 5 – 8 year olds at our school – alternative name could have been “Strictly Come Nativity”. Of course the occasion when we forgot to stick it in the car, I managed a fantastic faint at the checkout of Waitrose supermarket. I terrified a couple of young assistants who ran for water & debated calling an ambulance, but came round to hear Duncan going back to finish paying for the shopping and telling the shocked cashier “don’t worry, she does this all the time”! Well, a sense of humour is vital. The wheelchair even saw a trip to parents’ evening at the A level student’s school, much to his embarrassment. I did point out that it is me who has to sit in it – funny though that he finds it quite hard to get his head around me using it, and it was left at the door. I’m sure that he wished some of his teachers’ comments had been left there too – mainly of the “needs to start working harder ” variety!! He is such a jammy sod though that he received an unconditional offer just before Christmas – not a reason to stop working I hear myself state on a daily basis.
The final week of the school term arrived and Duncan was jetting off to Italy to meet with the design engineers at a fellow small audio company. The original plan had been for us both to go – Audio Deva are an artisan specialist company designing fantastic turntables that Duncan hopes his new venture “Intimate Audio” will work with – but it all happened rather quickly and reality was I wouldn’t be well enough. So the student engineer found himself on a pre Christmas jolly to Genoa – just as well though as I’m not sure how useful I would have been when they stripped down a deck and rebuilt it. Daniel’s soldering skills beat mine. This left me alone with the teens and I did enjoy the couple of days I had to myself. I have to admit that I didn’t and couldn’t do much, but watched various cheesy Christmas movies and also managed to read some chick lit on the kindle – easier to hold when wrists are dislocating & painful! We even hosted a small party for my book club friends.The following week Duncan went on his travels again with a trip to the in laws with the A level student, leaving me with my girl. She worries about me but we did ok with no falls, and even managed some baking (cranberry & cinnamon donuts).
So it really has not been all bad. I have missed writing and the support of my social media chronic pals, but I know that you all “get it”. Christmas has been exhausting and I am looking forward to some R&R now, (earplugs needed with both sons at home).
But the family have pulled together, some more than others (thanks mum & dad!), and we have come through the festivities relatively unscathed – they still can’t see when the toilets need cleaning though!
I hope that you have had a peaceful Christmas holiday, Claire x