The label is fitting, but as with any label, it sucks anyway, fitting or not.
Yes, I'm broken. I'm damaged. I am 35 and I have the body of a 70 year old, minus the wrinkles. (Thankfully, wrinkles have stayed at bay.)
One moment, please. I need to find a good solid piece of wood to knock on.
I have mentioned, already, that I have fibromyalsia with bursitis complication. One of the horribly sucky things about fibro is the path to diagnosis. First they rules out all the arthritis issues: Osteo, rhuemotoid, etc. They have to rule out Chronic Fatigue Syndrome. Blood work and x-rays and poking and proding, and not the good kind of poking and proding you'll find in my books.
And the bursitis, I think, was the worse. I fall to the ground, my hips literally giving out on me, screaming in pain, attempting to be moved by the EMTs. I have to endure the broken-glass-shards in my hips to show them my limited range of motion. I have to endure the x-rays, pleading for something to take the neverending pain away. And the result? A shot in the hip (paralyzes the muscle) and a set of crutches. And the first time I heard the word that will forever be used in defining me: Bursitis. Thanks SO much.
I'm to the point now in where I keep a cane or one of my crutches in the van (yanno, the one with the handicap plates) because my fear is that I'll collapse at Walmart, writhing around on the tiled floor, having mortified faces looking down at me. So when I'm walking around and feel that little "give" that signals hell is about to descend, I know the cane is out there, waiting. I do not want to be defined as handicapped, although I'm beginning to realize just how handicapped I really am. Denial is my friend.
So, since having been officially diagnosed, I've realized I will never return to the workforce, as my condition is apparently going to continue in its deterioration. My medical cocktail makes me even more exhausted, and I can't take it if I plan to drive more than an hour because I fear I'll fall asleep at the wheel. On those days, once I get to wherever I'm going, I'm pretty much a couch for rest of the day.
Now why am I writing about this today? For those that know me, I have a four (almost five) year old that I lovingly refer to as Syd Vicious. She finally saw a child development specialist today. While talking about HER, the doctor asks me, "What anti-depressant do you take?"
And I stared. Totally caught off guard with the question. I finally managed to squeak out, "How did you know I take one?"
"You're broken, aren't you? What do you have?"
WTF? How could he KNOW this?! I'd never met him, never spoken to his office, and since it wasn't a medical visit, there was no history to fill out on Sydney. Fighting back tears that my pain is obviously so freakin' transparent, I say, "Fibro, with bursitis complications." He nodded, like that was his guess before I said anything.
Apparently I have more than the classic symptoms for fibro. That's the one that the antidepressants are for. And he, a specialist, could see it. He asked who my psychiatrist was. I said I didn't have one. He said I needed one, and asked me how long I'd been living with chronic pain.
Whoa. Back up. We're here for SYDNEY, not to shrink Brenda!!! Freaked me out, but maybe there's something in me that caused Syd to be the way she is. Maybe it really does fall squarely on my own shoulders. So I answer him. "Since I was 13. It started with TMJ and has progressed since that point."
"That's a lot of years to deal with chronic pain."
Blinking back tears, I nod. "Yes, it is."
So he hands me a paper, and on it is written down a psychiatrist he recommended. Great.
Syd, he believes, is not a victim of Asperger's, which was my uneducated guess. Apparently, she is a victim of genetics. She has her father's "Social Anxiety Disorder", extreme "Seperation Anxiety", shyness to an extreme, and possible bi-polar disease. Now where did she get THAT from.
Take a wild guess. ~eye twitch~
I do not feel like I suffer from bi-polar disease. I was diagnosed as having that when I was 18 (please refer to the incident with Dr. Dickson in the Romeo and Juliet post). BUT, I didn't get really mucked up until they SAID I was bi-polar and put me on Prozac and freakin' LITHIUM. THAT is when I kinda went mental. I told this specialist that, and he laughed. He said that was common, that when someone who is bi-polar gets medicated, the symptoms get worse.
Well HELLO?! That doesn't give on much incentive to BE medicated for it then, does it?! Duh.
I still do not think I'm bi-polar. I think years and years of chronic pain have just made me a little...off. So, I come home and tell my ever supportive ~sarcasm inserted here~ husband (B) the details of the conversation, and that Syd will most likely, at the ripe old age of 5 (she turns five in two weeks) be put on Zoloft. Ugh.
And if you read this blog (God bless you're bored little heart) then you know that lately I've been walking through mud. I can't function well, I can't scrape up any energy at all! To counter that, I've cut back on my medications, all of which list "tiredness, sleepiness" as a side-effect. But THAT, in turn, makes the bursitis wickedly bad. I cannot win for nuttin'.
So I'm talking to B, trying to explain all of this to him, and I say what guilt I live with. While he's out mowing, I just want to crash on the couch. He said, "You've always been like that, even before the medicine."
Yes, I know! I don't need him to tell me. I've ALWAYS been this way. My dad and I used to get in fights, because I'd come home and sleep. My father is finally starting to understand the depth of my condition, and actually apologized to me (first time EVER over ANYTHING) and said, "I just didn't know."
Well, no one did. In 1983, we barely had info on TMJ, and my mother still had to fight the insurance to say it was NOT cosmetic. Fibro, I don't think, remotely existed. So how were we to KNOW? We didn't. Brenda was just "lazy". Heard it all the time.
And I guess that gets me, finally, to the heart of this post. I am broken. When I attempted part-time work at Walmart three years ago, they literally called me "Brenda, yanno, that broken one", because I couldn't help zone and bend over and put things away. After a 4 hour shift, I could barely walk at all. That's when I realized I couldn't do even part-time. I am broken.
And I'm telling all of this to B, who I still don't think quite understands it, or refuses to understand it. Yes, my house is a mess. I cannot...CAN.NOT. bend over repeatedly to pick up after toddlers. I cannot haul laundry back and forth. I cannot stand for long periods any longer to cook big meals. Do I WANT to be this way? Of course not. Do I LIKE to tell my toddlers to be careful climbing on Mom, because they HURT me. I don't like telling my babies that they cause me pain, but at the same time, they need to be aware of how they move on me, or I cry out in pain. AND IT SUCKS.
So B says, "I guess I'm used to living with pain." I'm sure (at least, I hope) he did not mean that in a way to attempt to downplay what I was telling him, how I was trying to get him to understand how fibro and bursitis play together. Like I DO NOT know what it's like?! He hasn't lived with it for LITERALLY 23 years. I HAVE. Does he think I want to watch my life and the lives of my babies float by while I'm laid up on the couch?
It's like being labelled again, but instead of from my parents, it's from my husband. I think he thinks, like they once did, that I'm simply lazy. And that's where the guilt comes flooding in. Yes, it IS easier for me to sit here at the computer for two hours than it is for me to mop the kitchen (I can't even do that at all anymore.) Yes, I can type all freakin' day, but after two loads of laundry (with six in the house, there's a constant flow of laundry), I'm done for the day. I got Cooper's room picked up and drawers and closet straighted out and organized, and that was it. No other cleaning, no cooking. It took all I had in me to do that little bit. And worse yet, I was PROUD of what I'd done.
I think he thinks I sit here all the time because I want to be online. I do want to be online, but there are other things I'd like to do, too. But I CAN'T. It's not a lack of desire, it's a lack of ability.
And would anyone understand? Is it just him? No, it used to be my dad. Would another guy have such problems with it? Would they understand that my jaw is broken, my hips are broken, there are things I just cannot physically do that I did when we met. Will I forever live with guilt over what I can't do? Will I always feel inadequte like this? It's a progressive disease, and I can absolutely tell a difference between now and just two years ago.
So B says, if you're still in pain, if you're still exhausted, stop talking the meds. Yes, I'm still exhausted, but some days are better than others. Yes, I'm still in pain, but not a blinding pain like it was. I don't need his constant reminders of how messed up I am. Have I failed him? Probably. Would I fail another man? Probably. After all, who would want to be STUCK with me when there are non-broken ones out there.
So yes, it's a label. And I wish with all of my being that it didn't fit me so damn well.
I've just started on my journey. 23 years of pain, yes, but just now working on the causes of the condition and the techniques used to deal with it. And already, I find that I travel this road absolutely and 100% alone. I do not believe he understands it, but worse than that, I don't believe he has any desire to.
Good thing I enjoy my own company.
Is love enough? I don't think so. I need compassion and empathy, an ounce of understanding. I need someone to say my pain is real and is justified, and my dazed state of medication is understandable. I need someone that will shelter me, even if it's just from myself, and whispers in my ear, "Lay down and rest, I'll make it all okay, baby. Just...rest."