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Raindrops keep falling on my head

When I was very young and my parents were still married, I had an imaginary friend called “Cher” and I was good at singing and dancing to the B J Thomas song.  My voice does not lend itself to a more feminine tune – my ex husband used to say that my singing would make the foundations of the house crumble!  He always was a charmer.  (!)

In the midst of my recent period and very painful time, I kept thinking about returning to the sunlight of pain-free days.  I feel plagued by occasional but torrential bouts of pain.  Although I am still in pain today, I am coping by taking my painkillers and dreaming of the days when I may have just enough pain to be in discomfort and unable to complain.

Just as with the rain, I’m never going to stop the pain by complaining.  It would be nice to talk with the sun and tell him he’d been sleeping on the job but all I can do is not let the pain defeat me.

Foxy

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Endometriosis vs Holly Hill

After reading Endometriosis vs Holly Hill on Facebook, I was so moved that I felt I had to write this:

I live in the UK and so have not had the pleasure of listening to Holly Hill’s comments. I was diagnosed with endometriosis in 2005. I understand that Holly believes that women with endometriosis do not deserve a happy sex life with a faithful partner because of the pain we endure. I can only think that someone would make such inflammatory remarks because 1) they’re too ignorant to know how upsetting their prejudice can be or 2) they’re using the anger of women with endometriosis as negative marketing for an upcoming book. So, if my hypothesis is correct, she’s either ignorant or manipulative – neither are attractive traits. 

As I say, I’m writing from the UK so I don’t know if she is well-known for having a happy, faithful, satisfying relationship with a wonderful man. However, from what little I do know, I would expect not. One thing is for sure, I could tell her a thing or two about having a happy, faithful, satisfying relationship with a wonderful man who never makes me feel like a liability, who helps out every time I ask, who never pressures me when I’m in pain and who gives me incredible (it’s worth saying again – incredible) intimacy – but I don’t think she’d appreciate it.

Perhaps she’s jealous.

Smugly yours
Foxy in the Waiting Room

As always, I finish something and then, upon further pondering, I reconsider my words.  I wanted to add that someone who takes pot shots at others who are weak or suffering are called bullies – also an unattractive quality.

Assuming that her love life is as dismal as I suspect it is, perhaps she needs to cultivate her own garden to become someone who deserves the fantastic things that I have and appreciate.

I’m still smug.

Foxy

Accepting Suffering

Even before my father’s death I have been rethinking a lot of things.  I still consider myself a Christian but have found comfort with Buddhism.  So many people question God and ask “Why me?” – which is understandable if you have Parkinsons and you know it will kill you eventually.  However, I do believe that because Dad was never cured, and I know how bitter he was towards the end, perhaps he would have coped better with a bit of Buddhism.

 

One of the first points of Buddhism is that suffering is a natural part of life.  It’s not something that we can get away from.  For example, the story goes that there was a woman who had a baby but the baby died.  She goes to the Buddha and says “You’ve got to help me.  I’m at the end of my rope.  I don’t know what to do next.  I’m so depressed!”  (Aside: I just love the fact that even all those centuries ago people wanted a quick fix to their problems!)  The Buddha said “I can help you but you need to do something for me first.  I need a mustard seed from the house in the village where no one has suffered.”  So the grateful woman trots back to her village and proceeds to interrogate everyone there.  She quickly discovers that every home had experienced suffering.  She even discovered that some people had suffered more than she did.  She never obtained a mustard seed but she did gain comfort…

 

Buddhists do not believe in a deity.  Without a deity you are liberated from the question “Why me?”  You are liberated from the notion that you are being punished for some sin that you may or may not have committed.  Instead you are forced to try to make good your life as it is today.   As with my dad having Parkinsons, sometimes there is no good reason for what happens to people.  There may not be a deity out there judging every move you make and meting out punishments according to each wrongdoing.

 

I find this thought comforting with bearing the burdens of my illnesses as well as bearing the burden of my father’s short and troubled life.  I try to make today matter.  I try to live my life in a way that I can justify.  I try to make the world a better place for everyone I meet – from the strangers I smile at on the street to my family who I try to protect.  I hope that by doing good things, that good things will come to those I love.  Karma: what goes around comes around.  Of course that’s not what happens to some people but, for the most part, it’s been my experience.  I’ve had a few hard years but now I’m having a few easier years.  All things considered, I consider myself lucky when I have enough of a support system to help me carry my woes.

 

I hope that when I go back to Christianity, I am accepted back with open arms.  You know what I mean, I mean that tingling feeling I get when I pray for forgiveness of the things I have done and the forgiveness of the things I’ve left undone.  For the moment, I’m looking into new ideas and applying that which I feel is right to my life.  Perhaps a new view of suffering is just what I needed?

Foxy

A more innocent time… 11th September 2011

I grew up in the Midwest United States.  It’s a flat region.  The land is flat – like a piece of paper.  Indeed, it could be considered to be flatter thanNorwich!  The land is vast and featureless.  There the farmers grow corn and beans.  In fact, have you ever seen North by Northwest?  You remember the bit where the protagonist is running away from the airplane that’s coming?  That was filmed in my region!

The winters are unspeakably cold and are characterised by snowstorms so violent that you can’t see your hand at the end of your arm; ice storms that create beautiful but deadly sculptures on the trees and fences; and wind that makes snow drift like sand in a dessert.  It can be a cruel place to live.  I think the people who stay have a rugged determined streak.  The place has a beautiful barren quality in the winter.  If you grow up there, you can’t help but be a strong individual.

The summers are equally taxing.  I will say it’s hot but that is something of an understatement.  It’s a sweltering hot.  The humidity, without a cloud in the sky, can easily reach 98%, 99% and even 100%.  Imagine a Turkish bath but with the sun beating down on your head…  As an Englishwoman, my first instinct is to open the windows in the flat if I’m hot but in theUSI close everything and turn on the air conditioning.  For example, I remember my ex had a hard time with this concept; I’d notice he’d open the window of the car and I’d tell him to close it again: it was hotter outside!  It’s little wonder that we don’t spend a lot of time in the sun!

I grew up in a more innocent time.  Terrorism was something that happened to other people in other places.  As much as I see that Americans were wrong for believing that two oceans would keep out the madness, at the time I didn’t appreciate the cocoon that I lived in.

On September 11th 2011, with 5 hours time difference, it was the afternoon when I first got an email from a friend about the attacks.  The first thought was that it was a tragic accident.  The next few hours, with yet another plane and another plane going down, we all wondered with horrified awe “What next?”  Although I didn’t know anyone there, I couldn’t help but cry.

My ex husband was due to be on a conference call with someone in the World Trade Centre and, frustrated, he left the meeting room to find out why he couldn’t get through to find no one could get through to New York.

A few months later my ex and I travelled to the South of France.  We overheard some Americans behind us in a queue talking about the new and severe safety procedures put in place when they travelled.  My ex – in a very loud voice – said “New Yorkers got what they deserved on September 11th – they’ve been funding the IRA for decades!”  While my ex believed the attacks were a consequence of meddling in international politics, I focused on the future.

At the time I said to anyone who would listen that we shouldn’t send troops over to Afghanistan and Iraq.  Because Americans felt they had to do something, I advocated sending over the Army Corps of Engineers to Afghanistan and building hospitals, schools, irrigation systems and roads to encourage farmers to become builders and, those that remained in farming, should be given help and advice from the Americans to ensure that they grew food – not poppies.

Of course having a more positive response wouldn’t cure the world’s ills, but we wouldn’t be in the mess we are today had we looked at September 11th as an opportunity to break out of our cocoons, to show that we value life equally across the world, to provide inspiration for the politics of understanding and forgiveness.  Sometimes it’s a good idea to draw a line under something horrible and, by doing something positive in response, the world benefits.

Ten years later my life is a million times better than it was back then: I’m married to the love of my life; I have my multiple diagnoses for my chronic illnesses and, thanks to plenty of time and effort, I manage them reasonably well; and I live in a quiet village and enjoy a relatively stress-free life.  Unfortunately, some people haven’t had such a positive decade.

Peace to you and yours.

Foxy

 

Let it be

It was just over a week before I was born when my Dad’s brother died in a car accident.  Because I never knew Uncle T, I could only surmise what he was like.  I was too young to know what questions to ask to know his essential personality.  (Which reminds me – I really must make a list of questions to ask my family before I travel to the US!)  I know he was a big man, and in those days his size was unusual.  If he had a similar car accident these days he probably would have survived.

Uncle T was buried in a village in the Midwest of the United States close to where the family lived not long before I was born.  I’m sure my arrival – along with the fact I had 10 fingers and 10 toes – mitigated their pain.  Someone died, someone else lived.

During that time The Beatles had their Number One hit “Let it be”.  Although I think it was written by Paul McCartney to help him say goodbye to The Beatles, my father found the song helped him in his grief.  I gave him a cassette tape with Beatles tunes on for Father’s Day one year.  Dad told me about his brother and how he died before I was born.  It’s strange how essential details of our existence arrive into our lives as if by accident: had I given him something else I’d never know…

Consequently, I’m finding that “Let it be” is helping me.  Dad is now resting beside his brother in the cemetery just outside the village.  A pathetic few words indicate that he existed.  A few sad numbers clock the days he spent living in this world.  A happy likeness adorns his stone – a photograph taken when he was 18.  He was full of promise then.  He didn’t have Parkinsons then.

“And when the night is cloudy, there is still a light that shines on me, shine until tomorrow, let it be.”

When I was younger I used to think that Uncle T was a kind of guardian angel to me: I was told that he was keen on meeting me but never managed it.  Whether Uncle T was looking out for me or not, the fact that someone in the family died so close to my birth has always reminded me that we have to focus on the positives in our existence.  Someone dies, someone else is born.  There is a balance of pain and joy.  We would never fully appreciate happiness without suffering.

I’m the kind of person who, while I find suffering as difficult as everyone else, likes the cyclical nature of existence.  I always know what to expect – there will always be pain and joy throughout our lives.  You can’t have one without the other.

After all those years, losing his brother was such a traumatic experience that Dad got emotional when he heard “Let it be” that Father’s Day.  I think I’ll always cry when I listen to “Let it be” too.

“There will be an answer, let it be”

Foxy

 

Learning your limitations

Endometriosis came into my life at a very early age.  I was 12 when I experienced my first symptoms.  Despite this, I had plenty of dreams when I was young: I wanted to become a teacher.  I wanted to write stories in the summers and become a famous novelist.  I thought I’d move to a French-speaking country and teach English as a second language.  I wanted a nice husband and 2 children.  They weren’t extravagant dreams – I’d have thought they were perfectly achievable!

To a certain extent I came close to achieving my goals.  While birth control effectively masked my symptoms in my 20s, I got a degree in European History and French but still needed by teaching qualification.  Then, as with many of us, life happened to me.  I met my first husband and moved to England.  By the time I was legally able to work in England, we really needed money so I took a job as a secretary.  Before I knew it, many years had passed, I hadn’t got my teaching qualification but I was a very good secretary.

My life wasn’t shaping up as I’d planned but at least I thought I’d be able to have a couple of children with my first husband.  I was taking birth control until the point when he decided that we ought to try for children.  When the birth control left my system, my familiar period pain returned in abundance.  It took another couple of years before I was diagnosed with endometriosis, PCOS and insulin resistance.

Like Peter Waite on “Letting Go of the life we have Planned”, it took me a number of years to accept life in my body.  Oh sure, I’d had endometriosis all along, but having strange symptoms and learning to accept your diagnosis and the limitations that a chronic illness places on you are two different things.

Learning to accept yourself – including any malady you have – takes time.  Lots of time.  In the process you may need to re-evaluate your long-term goals.  You may need to ensure that you don’t feel guilty for letting go your old life-plan.  You may need to learn how to manage your physical symptoms.  You may need to make changes to your lifestyle.  You may even need to ask for help from friends and/or a partner.

All these considerations take time and effort.  Don’t be too hard on yourself.  Don’t feel guilty when you can’t do what you wish you could.  Don’t worry when life-plans need to change.  As with the rest of your life, the journey has yet to be completed.

Foxy

Five Things Friday

I saw this on Wishfulfillment Everyday and thought “what a good idea!”  Here’s five things for you:

  1. As you know I’m on my second marriage.  What you don’t know is that we probably watch far too much TV.  We religiously watch Top Gear every Sunday night.  We’ve seen all Star Treks – the original series, TNG, Voyager, DS9 and Enterprise.  We’ve seen all of Babylon 5 twice.  We’ve also seen all of Stargate and Stargate Atlantis.  It’s official – I’m a nerd!
  1. I only shower twice a week because I have long hair and very dry skin.  Although now I mention it, showering is a spectator sport in my house.  Occasionally I try to make the excuse of chatting to Helios when he’s in the shower but I usually just go to watch the show…
  1. Occasionally I buy generic presents on sale in anticipation of Christmas and neighbour’s birthdays.  This year I’ve taken all the ones I can find and have put them into a raffle as prizes for my Relay for Life – Cancer Research UK charity event this summer.
  1. I love baking cookies but find the dough a bit hard on my wrists.  I regularly have Helios’s help with the mixing.
  1. During the week I have eggs for breakfast but at the weekend I regularly have beans on toast with cheese and jalapenos peppers.

Foxy