Posts Tagged ‘Stress’


When you get mad, what calms you down?

Jun 18, 2011

©2004-2011 ~S-Pan

I have been so angry lately, a trait that has never really been an issue for me in the past, but is becoming more and more difficult to deal with.  Because depression is often defined as “anger turned inward”, I guess I’ve always just opted for the depression thing. I’m better at that.  But the more evident it becomes that I am powerless to change the things that anger me, the more I find my inward filling to capacity and unwanted emotions spilling outward.

So I snap at people. I avoid people. I try to avoid myself. Guilt soon crashes my anger party because I’m a Christian woman who is unable to find or keep the peace that I know God offers and I know is experienced by others. I should know how to do this; I should know how to cope. But I don’t. And then, I become even more angry… at myself.

Right now, my anger has made it necessary for me to hide in my bedroom away from everyone, including my brother-in-law who is visiting from Chicago. I get two days notice and then he’s here, at my messy house, for 3 days. We haven’t seen him for about a year, but worse than that, he hasn’t seen me for just as long. During this time, I have become sicker; my ability to keep the house clean has become increasingly hindered; I have lost 2 more teeth – a fact I hope to keep hidden by smiling very little and, if the occasion arises, to laugh politely while covering my mouth  (Think: Geisha Girl ).  Perhaps worst of all, I am so much fatter than the last time he saw me because I continue to gain weight for reasons my doctors cannot identify.  Since I never wear shorts and only wear t-shirts with sleeves that extend down to my elbow, I am always warmer and crankier than everyone else in this hot house that lacks central air.

The bedroom is safe. The bedroom is air-conditioned.  The bedroom is closer to the bathroom – always something I need to be concerned about.  No one can look at me while I’m here in the bedroom and I can’t see all the things that need to be cleaned… and then stress over it. It’s easier to lie to myself about my life and easier to believe some of those lies when I’m in here.

But hiding is not enough; still, I am mad.

Today is the anniversary of the day my husband and I first laid eyes on each other. It is a date we have remembered and celebrated every year, but one that he has apparently forgotten today. Perhaps it’s for the best that he not remember the healthy, much thinner, attractive woman (who still had the majority of her teeth); the woman who was wearing short flouncy skorts, a sports bra, a tan and a broad smile. It’s probably better he not allow himself to think about who I used to be and how much fun we used to have when I was able to participate in the activities we once enjoyed doing together.

He and his brother went on a long bike ride today – something I was once able to do, but now I just glance at my still nearly-new bike in the garage and pretend I believe myself when I think, “someday…”

And the anger intensifies.  No, no, no… it’s not fair!  I throw a little tantrum in my bedroom sanctuary. I cry tears of anger more than sadness and make a mental note of how much uglier I look when I cry. I honestly don’t know what to do to feel calm or break free from this runaway train of thought that always leads to anger. So I resort to my trusty Xanax. It takes the edge off and, at some point soon, I should be asleep. Barring any dreams that mimic reality, I will then be calm and free of any anger… and blissfully unaware that I let it get the best of me again.


I Found my Mojo…

Mar 29, 2011

Sadly, it resides in the section of intestine my surgeon just removed.

The scar depicted above looks a lot like mine, except that mine is not healing properly and it goes through my belly button (though my surgeon promised it would not).  Oh, and the scar above is on a a nice flat belly that belongs to a body builder and my scar… well, let’s just say it does not :-/

It’s been 4+ weeks of pain, of infections, of an unexpected heart problem that had me in the ICU, of one doctor visit after another with more and more tests and more medications added to my already long list: MedsMy body rebels if I try to do anything even minimally strenuous and I’m always tired.  Tired from doing nothing.

But the most frightening part of it all is that I feel smothered in apathy.  I can’t think of anything I want to do; there is nothing that interests me, nothing that jolts the sensor that resides somewhere inside of me and makes me excited about beginning a project or a new task.  I just feel nothing.

Sometimes, I feel sad or guilty, but I just can’t revive the old me… or find her.  I have been trying to write this blog post for over a week, but have about a half-dozen deleted drafts to show for my efforts.  My heart is just not in it.  I have always loved to write: I’ve been journaling for years – long before there was something called “blogging”.  But here I am writing, yet it brings me no joy.  It is too arduous to include the details I originally thought I should mention.  And my journal just continues to gather dust.

Yesterday was my birthday.  We have a tradition of going to a local pizzeria to celebrate, but I was still feeling too poorly to leave the house and I couldn’t really eat anything at the pizzeria, anyway, so I broke our family’s tradition.   I could see that my daughter was disappointed, as my birthday is a much more exciting event to her than it is to me.

I read something about post-surgical depression, but this feels more like post-surgical apathy.  At least for the sake of my family, I hope it passes soon.  I hope mojo is the sort of thing that regenerates when removed – like a starfish’s arm or a salamander’s tail.

I wonder if they endure an empty feeling while they wait for their appendages to grow back.


What would *I* do with a million dollars?

Feb 18, 2011

one MILLION dollars

Remember when $100.00 was a lot of money? 
A million dollars is still a good deal of money, though – certainly enough to alleviate a significant amount of stress or financial hardship.

Honestly, I don’t need a whole heck of a lot.  I just wouldn’t know what to do with it all.

After giving the first 10% to my church, I would pay off my house, THEN go about the business of making all the repairs that this comfy old house needs so badly.

I’d pay for my son’s college so we could eliminate the need for his pending student loans, and I’d encourage my two older sons to attend college [now that I could afford it

I’d breathe a little easier.

I’d go and get a professional haircut instead of mutilating my own hair every few months.

I’d put money away for when my husband retires, and I’d tell him to immediately quit his second job!

With a million dollars, I would pay off all my medical bills and open up some sort of savings account so I could afford all future bills not covered by insurance, plus all the expensive co-pays on my medications.  Perhaps I’d even delve into holistic medicine or some alternative type of healthcare where all the doctors work together and treat the patient like a person instead of like an annoying conglomeration of symptoms.

Peace of mind.  No, you can’t buy it, but you can afford to ward off so many of it’s thieves.

If I had a million dollars, I would wrap a really big box for my husband and fill it with lots and lots of cotton.  When he finally emptied all of the cloud-like cotton out of the box, there would be a toy airplane tied to a certificate at the bottom that enabled him to take his favorite Cessna out for a flight each weekend.  He has a pilot’s license and absolutely loves to fly, but it’s just too expensive to rent a plane for even an hour or two.  Flying has become a memory of something he used to do when he was single.

There’s no way I could get away without buying my daughter a toy or two (or ten :-/ ), just as long as it’s a one-time deal – no spoiled kids in this house!  But, oh… not having to worry about her college fund – how wonderful would that be?

I have always imagined starting a charity for young widows with children.  I would want to try to start that.  People express their condolences when they meet a young widow taking care of young children; sometimes they’ll bring over a meal or leave an open-ended offer of “call me if you need anything” before they disappear, but few people realize how – or if – she’s able to take care of everything.  Is she by herself?  Does she have a family that helps her?  Did her husband have adequate life insurance to help with the children?  Who babysits when one of the kids is sick on a school day and she can’t take off from work?  As a former young widow with 3 boys, I know there are many things that people assumed about our situation that just weren’t so.

At least now I can laugh (though still with disbelief) about my boss at that time telling me, in all seriousness, that I didn’t need a raise, I needed a husband.  No, my children needed to eat… I’m pretty sure I needed a raise :-/

A million dollars IS a lot of money and the responsibility of spending it in a good and proper way is daunting to me.  The words, “To whom much is given, much is required” (Luke 12:48) take on a deeper and more personal meaning in the shadow of ONE MILLION DOLLARS.  Perhaps I’m better off just dealing with the daunting tasks at hand.

For now, anyway ;-)


Obvious Metaphors from an Obscure Blogger

Jan 28, 2011

Last night, I marveled at the snowstorm that blew past my house for hours until I fell asleep, wondering what I might find upon waking this morning.  Snow doesn’t affect me the way it affects most everyone else; except for the added pain from the cold, I am fortunate to view it almost entirely positively.  Since I rarely leave the house, I don’t have to worry about being “snowed in”, and the biggest difference is whether or not I will be spending the day with my daughter and her excitement over school being cancelled.  Oh, that special joy that comes along with that afraid-to-hope-for news… I remember it well.

Like most mornings, it was pain that woke me today.  In the quiet of a predawn house, I abandoned my husband in our bed and headed to my spot on the sofa where my heating pad faithfully waits for me.  With coffee and painkiller in one hand and a half-dozen Nilla wafers in the other, I headed to my spot on the cushion where a permanent impression of my body awaits, right next to the laptop and the TV remote .  But I had to stop in my tracks upon gazing out my window and catching a vision of what the snow had created while I was sleeping.

out my dining room window (after the sun came up)

With the tranquility and gratefulness that fills my heart the way only a snowscape can, I positioned myself on the sofa and took the painkiller with my coffee, chasing it down with the wafers so it wouldn’t come back up.  The warmth of the heating pad was beginning to soothe one square foot of my body at a time as I flipped on the television, but all I saw was a blank screen.   I pushed button after button, yet continued to view only a silent, ugly, greenish-grey blank screen. 

The peacefulness and awe of the beauty outside my window was quickly being replaced with something much more familiar: worry and panic.  They shut off our cable, didn’t they, I thought.  I guess we didn’t pay the bill again.  I opened the laptop to check if it worked — and because I needed a way to find out if my daughter’s 2-hour delay had changed to a cancellation of school.  The dreaded Comcast screen popped up – the one that only pops up when they shut off your service.

I just sat in my quiet living room, still feeling the burning aches and pains in my joints, but now more aware of the pain of losing at “Bill Roulette” this month – you know: “they must get paid, they have to get paid very soon, but they can wait.”  I guess Comcast should have been in the “MUST” pile :-/  And it’s not so much that we miscalculated and had our cable/broadband disconnected that upset me most, it’s that we have to play this sick Vegas game with our bills every month in the first place… and the fact that, even though I was looking at the very same snowy wonderland that had brought me joy a moment ago, I was suddenly too preoccupied to appreciate it.

Front lawn: branch falls under weight of the snow

Some people bend under pressure, others break.  I have a tree in my front lawn that bent so far under the weight of the snow last year that the top of it was actually stuck in the ground and it then ‘stood’ in a strange, unattractive hump shape for many months afterwards.  But it did not break, and I persuaded my husband not to cut it down – as if I felt some sort of affinity for its amazing ability to stay alive, despite its trials and its unsightly way of doing so.  And here it is again, after last night’s snow:

Not nearly as weighted over as last year, but how strange it is that a snow-laden branch from our giant pine tree is leaning – pushing it, even – as if to try to knock down the poor arborvitae. 
The giant pine lost a huge branch (above), but the arborvitae, she still stands. 

The cable and broadband?  It has been turned back on.  My husband and children are alive and healthy.  I am loved.  I did not break.  And I have one hell of a view from my beautiful (though in-need-of-many-repairs) house.

Perspective can cultivate gratitude.  If we let it.















Yes, this was mostly written yesterday, but then the pain in my hands forced me to stop until today.  So let’s just pretend it’s still yesterday when you read it ;-)


Practicing for Thanksgiving

Nov 14, 2010

The sicker I feel, the easier it is to [metaphorically] throw my fists in the air and scream “why me??” (which most often metaphorically happens in the shower, where no one can see me or hear me cry.)  During yesterday’s pity-party/shower-for-one, I tried my damnest to find things to be thankful for. In my overcrowded mind, full of valid complaints and fears, a voice full of anguish and anger screamed at me through gritted teeth that there are, in fact, things to be thankful for. And if I don’t start to focus on some of them very soon, regardless of how minute some of them might be, I am going to lose it.

So, here is what I’m thankful for today:
I am oh-so-VERY-thankful that I do not live in Thailand and that we do not have squat toilets here in the U.S. And I mean that!


Uh, uh. Nooooo, noooo, noooo… SO not happening.

Even without Crohn’s Disease, using a squat toilet is something I DO NOT want to think about, but with the amount of time I spend on the freakin’ thing, I want something I can actually sit on. And I want something that flushes! And, just to make things more interesting, with my Fibromyalgia, I would topple over within a minute or – maybe – two :-/

So, in review: Thankful I don’t live in Thailand; thankful for toilets I can sit on here in the U.S.  It’s a start.

Other people always start with “I’m thankful for my health”, right? …and nobody gives them sh*t.

See? Thankful AND happy



Final Jeopardy

Sep 8, 2010

Uh…. “What is ‘Oklahoma’?”

Boy did I look smart in front of my über-educated husband who always beats me at Jeopardy and my 9-year-old daughter who always talks when *I* actually know the answer to one of the questions.  Not this time, my friends.  This time, Final Jeopardy just so happened to be about a subject I had been mocking in my blog earlier in the day to illustrate an oh-so-important point about chronic illness and the fear I have of becoming overly dramatic about it.

So, Boo-yah!  I was right this time!  And, yes, I did the sit-in-my-seat victory dance (not to be confused with the “shit-in-my-seat victory dance” :-/) because I didn’t feel well enough to do the stand-up-jig version.  I DO enjoy being right, I admit it.  I guess it’s ok to be a little dramatic sometimes :-)

But today, with last night’s victory quickly fading, I am parked at a desk that is about 10 feet from my bathroom for the sake of convenience, yet thankful that it faces a window so I can sort of feel like I am outside.  I can almost touch the branches of the huge, lopsided tree on my front lawn and like to imagine I am in a tree house while a balmy, yet steady breeze blows into my bedroom… warm enough to warrant a ponytail, but not so warm that I need to turn on the air-conditioner.  Between me and the bathroom is my son’s empty bedroom with a treadmill that stares accusingly at me whenever I pass by, and a clean floor that reminds me he’s away at college now.

As if I don’t have enough to think about, we are 2 months behind on our mortgage and I daily feel the pressure of being “unable to work”.  Sure, I bring in beaucoup bucks in disability money, but still :-/ – – my husband now works two jobs because I’m too sick to work even one, and we always live with the fear of wondering if we’ve paid our bills creatively enough so that none of our checks bounce.

So, I’m thinking about all the pricey medications I take and all the expenses I incur by being sick and it dawns on me:  I cost my family so much money because I’m sick , AND I can’t work for the same reason.  If I’m going to be home because I’m sick, I might as well stop taking all these expensive meds and just be home… sicker.  As I mentioned yesterday, I think in a logical, methodical sort of way (but I suppose I could sing this idea and tap my foot simultaneously); we are in debt up to our collective eyeballs and unable to spend money on other, important things because of me and my medical costs.  I am dragging this family down financially (and in other ways, too).

Tomorrow I go for an annual physical with my Primary Care Physician, whom I have known for about 22 years and who may know me better than anyone – at least health-wise.  Part of my visit will be a series of blood tests to try to determine why I am itchy everywhere but have a rash NOWHERE :-/  (make it stop!!)  Liver disease?  Remicade side effect?  Entocort side effect?  Two drugs interacting? 

This is crazy! 

I want her opinion about how much effort is being put into trying to avoid bowel resection surgery for my Crohn’s, which is the reason for most of my meds.  As much as I trust and admire my gastroenterologist, I have begun to believe that this is his goal and not mine.  My goal must be to try to attain and preserve a quality of life that is worth the work, the expense, the poisons, the side effects and to consider the effect on my family.   If that means having surgery, then so be it.  My GI keeps saying “you’re too young to have surgery,” and, being between 45 and 50 years old, I never pay attention to anything he says after “you’re too young…”  I feel like that Three Bears episode of Bugs Bunny when Mama Bear says, “Tell me more about my eyes….”  (But there I go, aging myself again).


People say you have to be your own advocate when you have a chronic illness (or any illness, really), but how many people realize just how exhausting this can be? 

I feel like I am confronting my own version of a real-life Final Jeopardy question as I try to decide whether to fight the status quo or succumb to the consequences of the inability to pay for it. 

Dramatic?  Maybe :-/  And not nearly as much fun.


i hate drama

Sep 7, 2010
People are too happy in Oklahoma

If I ever skip down a dirt road with a big goofy smile on my face, singing about anything, when the only sane method of communication is to logically express what I wish to say using words that DO NOT rhyme…
Just pretend you don’t know me.

And if I am guilty of the skipping, singing and smiling while with a man wearing cowhide chaps, a pretty neckerchief and a ridiculous grin…
Please feel free to shoot me :-/

As mentioned in the title, I HATE DRAMA (and obviously, by extension, Musicals :-/ ), which is why I only feel worse if I ever catch myself whining or being dramatic.  And although I try to do my best to regulate what those around me hear, see – and to a certain extent ‘believe’ about how sick I’m feeling – I cannot control these things within the confines of my own body and mind.

Today, the words: Oh, God… I feel like I’m dying keep repeating in my head; sometimes it sounds like: Oh, God… I feel like I’m dying again, which is why I’m pretty sure I’m not really dying.  That, and the fact that I am able to sit here and write about it, has served as reassurance.  Truthfully, writing about it is more of a compulsion than a luxury because to actually tell someone how I feel would be the very definition of drama.  Or at least that’s how it seems around here.


Those with Fibromyalgia know the all-encompassing, inexplicable pain of this mostly mocked and disregarded disease and the fatigue that envelops us like a soaking wet blanket.  We know we will, no doubt, pay a price if we dare to do something crazy like, say… sit in a car for 75 minutes to bring my son back to college and [barely] help him switch dorm rooms, then stand for a long time and lift something moderately heavy (to me, but not to normal people), then sit in the car for another 75 minutes to come home (not even drive, just sit). 

Those with Crohn’s Disease know the unmistakable urgency that demands nearness to a bathroom; that feeling like one’s blood is being drained from their body, along with any and all nutrients, but really, it’s something much more embarrassing than that.  Maybe some with Crohn’s/IBD know the panic of leaving the house for a “road trip” after spending the whole morning in the bathroom and bringing a change of clothing, just in case.  I never knew that terror until yesterday, since I usually just stay home, close to my toilet.  But I won’t see my son again for a month and I was missing him before he even left, so I defied my Crohn’s AND my Fibromyalgia.

Yeah, they fought back, but I lived to tell the tale, didn’t I?  :-)

That’s “tell” the tale… no singing or dancing – even if I could get up and do any of that  :-/