Archive for the ‘invisible illnesses’ Category

She’s the Sweetest

RUTHIE

We walked down the corridor in the shelter for the second time. 

“Look at this one,” my friend curiously remarked.

She was the only dog not barking.  

We stopped to look, which is all I had planned on doing that day. 

“Oh,” my friend added.  “Her name is Ruthie.  How sweet.”

What an odd name for a dog, I thought to myself.

Ruthie.

Most dogs have exotic or quirky and whimsical names these days, it seems, but Ruthie is such a simple name, you know?

She put her paw up against the cage.  I touched it and so did my friend.

“She has puppy paws!” my friend exclaimed excitedly. 

My friend, Tiffany, was a dog whisperer in her own way.  Actually, she was more like a dog’s angel.  I was never sure whose side she was on when it came to her helping people and their beloved pets, a career which she had temporarily chosen.

“What do you mean puppy paws?” I asked.

“They’re soft!  Touch them,” Tiffany answered.

I’m pretty sure Ruthie became my dog the second I touched her paw and it was unusually soft!

“You should change her name,” the little boy who lived across the street from us told me the first day I took Ruthie out for a walk.

“Yeah!” agreed his young playmates.

“To what?” I asked, but none had an answer.

The children walked closer to us.  They tried petting Ruthie, but she became frightened by the youngest one.

She had been adopted for two weeks and returned to the shelter before I met her.  The shelter staff said the family had a toddler who was allergic to her.  That’s all they could tell me about her past.

Ruthie was indeed shedding a lot, but my gut told me it was from stress.  I was right too. 

After several days of living with me, she started to shine and I discovered, I had the softest dog in the world!  Everyone said so too.

I didn’t yet know she is also the sweetest, but I tell you, there isn’t one any sweeter than Ruthie is.

For the first few days of our lives together, her name came up for consideration.  Mostly because people remarked on how it wasn’t snazzy enough.

I forgot who it was, but somebody suggested that I read from the Book of Ruth in the Christian Bible. 

“In Ruth 1:16 and 17 Ruth tells Naomi, her Israelite mother in law, “Where you go I will go, and where you stay I will stay. Your people will be my people and your God my God. Where you die I will die, and there I will be buried.”  (SOURCE: Wikipedia).

I read the story and I knew my girl had the perfect name.

Ruth was loyal to Naomi, even after her husband, Naomi’s son, died.  Naomi had lost her husband and later lost her other son, leaving her widowed and without children. 

According to the law of the land, Ruth could have left for a better life, but instead she chose to stay with Naomi.  She married again and gave Naomi a grandson.

How could I think of changing little Ruthie’s name after reading that!  I had been given a gift, I believed. 

In the spirit of dogs and the love they give, my gift was a new dog.

I needed rescuing and I fully embraced the love from my new four-legged friend who had come to save my life.

After taking Ruthie to the dog store to show her off and buy a pretty new collar, we went home and I looked over her papers from the shelter.

I was surprised to see that Ruthie’s overall grade was an A-.

How could such a sweet loving dog not get an A, I wondered, so I read on.

“Ruthie pulls back when people lean in toward her,” the report read.

To get an A, a dog must also lean in when strange humans try to pet them, which I found curious.  I mean, if I had been abused, and I could tell that Ruthie had, then I wouldn’t lean in when strangers come toward me either.

I knew I had a smart dog!

Ruthie Mae is the sweetest dog in the world

Ruthie in her element hunting insects!

Without Ruthie Mae, I may not be alive today.

Ruthie didn’t save me from a burning building.  I’m not blind.  I have both legs, which I’m grateful for, and both arms too.  I am not in a wheelchair.

I am disabled by illnesses most people can’t see with their eyes. 

These illnesses have changed my life, and me.  I spend more time alone than I did before I got sick. 

I’ve also experienced significant loss of connection and sense of belonging, both in community and family, as a direct result of disability.  I lost my career and many people have judged me for what they can’t see or understand. 

Ruthie is my medical companion animal.  She’s officially an emotional support dog.   

Ruthie gets me outside.

She helps me want to keep going when chronic illness takes away my hope.

Ruthie is a teacher, like all dogs, I believe.  She shows me what love looks like. 

She teaches me compassion, tenderness and acceptance. 

It’s hard to put into words what all Ruthie means to me and how she helps me live.

Ruthie Mae’s love and companionship is always there for me.  No matter how sick I get, she loves me.  I don’t have to put on a well face for Ruthie.

Just yesterday, I was sad.  Ruthie jumped up on the bed and put her little paws across my ankles.  She gently laid her head on my leg.

“You really are the sweetest dog in the world,” I told her.  The tears stopped and I couldn’t help but take joy from the love I felt.

I thought about the kind of life she could have had if she had been adopted by a healthier person and one who has more money than I do.  I imagined her running in an open field of grass with her pack.  Then, I remembered the story of Ruth. 

Perhaps if Ruthie could choose, I imagined, she might choose me over anyone else, no matter what they had to offer her.

One thing I know.  I am loved. 

Ruthie Mae’s Human Mom,
Michelle.

Thanks for visiting my blog!

Note:

This post is a follow up from the most recent one, “Help the Sweetest Dog in the World.” 

Thanks for reading, and if your heart moves you, please visit my campaign page here.

 


One pill ~~ One day

lovely image of dandelions and blue sky“dent de lion and blue skies and wishing” 

PHOTO CREDIT: VIRGINIA SANDERSON via Flickr

In the back of my mind was an awareness that my energy was not only temporary, which I’m used to, but was induced by medication.  It was an odd feeling. 

I was temporarily able-bodied.  An inner voice kept reminding me that the clock was ticking.  I didn’t want to remember that I would have to go back to my life of being too tired to visit my family again any time soon.  I tried not to think about where my energy was coming from.  I’ve taken the medication before and always had this same experience.

For the most part, I managed to keep my thoughts positive and be grateful for the time with my mother and one of my sisters.

We had a very nice visit and ate home-cooked hamburgers at a lovely little country restaurant.   I got to see my mother’s beautiful and prolific flower garden.  I’d feared I wouldn’t get to see it at all this year.  Many times I’ve heard her say, “I wish you could see the…,” and she’ll mention whatever is blooming.

I didn’t tell my sister that a little white pill was the fuel I was running on.  I did however, end up telling my mother before I left, which I later regretted. 

I didn’t have to tell her that fatigue was disabling me.  I didn’t have to tell her that I had to take medication for my body and brain to work that day, but I did. 

I had wanted to spare them the details of how hard it is to live with pain and severe fatigue every single day.  Had I failed, I wondered on my way home.

I guess I also wanted to let somebody know the truth.  For some reason, I needed somebody to know that me making the trip was hard.  Plus, my mother is nearly psychic.  If I don’t tell her, it isn’t like she doesn’t know, which she reminds me of from time to time.

“You look so good,” my sister had said shortly after I arrived.  “Your eyes are clear.  You really look good,” she added, with a pleased look about her.

Part of me wanted to tell her that I was running on medication and how underneath what she saw, was a completely exhausted human being, but I didn’t.  I didn’t want to disappoint her.  I love my sister and it warmed my heart knowing she was enjoying the bit of time, when her little sister looked okay. 

I wished in that moment that I could give this to my family more often.  If my looking well made her happy, then I thought it best not to spoil the moment.  I did what my seventh grade teacher once told me to do if someone gave me a compliment.  I said thank you.  Nothing more. 

I’m just too dang tired to do things.  Too tired to think or make decisions.  Too tired to talk some of the time.  Too tired to clean or cook.  Too tired to go anywhere, like the grocery store.

I took the little white pill and had a good day. 

I choose not to take the medication very often because anything that can make this body get up and go, while it feels like I’ve been hit and run over by an eighteen-wheeler, well… I guess it scares me.

Thanks for visiting Dogkisses’s Blog!  Feel free to leave a comment.  Emails are never published. 

Thanks to Flickr member and professional photographer, Virginia Sanderson,  for her absolutely beautiful images!  I’m not a photographer and don’t speak their language, but I especially love the different textures she creates.   I encourage you to check out her photostream.


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purTY purTY purTY

Pretty red bird, he sings it every day!

Photo by Virginia Sanderson via Flickr

Every day for the past few weeks I’ve heard the Cardinal call,  “PurTY, PurTY,  PurTY.”  What a nice thing for a bird to say!

I’ve always especially loved Cardinals and the male is certainly an eye-catcher,  just as nature intended.

I wonder what the very handsome guy in the above image is thinking, but then I also wonder if birds can think.

I’m too tired to research this question in-depth, but I came across a wonderful article about a Parrot, Alex, who sadly died in 2007, but left with us interesting questions about animal intelligence that I find fascinating.

There may be more to a “birdbrain” than we thought.  The article about Alex is from 1999, but I imagine there remains, “a highly emotional debate about whether thought is solely the domain of humans, or whether it can exist in other animals.”

“Alex can think.  His actions are not just an instinctive response, –but rather a result of reasoning and choice.”  (Dr. Irene Pepperberg, A Thinking Bird or just another Birdbrain).

I’ve always wondered about humans being the most intelligent species and the older I get, the more I wonder.

Living with a chronic illness has a way of putting you in touch with being human.  Living with persistent pain and/or illness is humbling.  Strangely, this experience of being so damn human gives me a sense of connection with all living creatures.

I guess when I think of the pain and fatigue I live with I remember the ticks.  They are so small and relatively low on the food chain, but one bite from the wrong one at the wrong time can change your life, or worse.

There is a sense of oneness in the awareness that these little vectors can transmit disease and that a resulting illness can fall upon any person.  We are all alike in one way.  Blood runs through our veins and a beating heart keeps us alive.

I remember the day I found the baby deer tick on me.  It was in the afternoon and was a beautiful day outside.  I remember falling to the ground in weakness, while walking to my car.  Suddenly it felt like someone had grabbed my throat and was choking me.  My joints protruded for months.  For several weeks, I lost almost complete use of my hand and eventually my arm too.

I remember lying in bed looking out of the window thinking how I’m not any stronger than those ticks.  We are the same in one way you look at it.  We each have our place on this planet.

A few weeks ago, the deep joint pain like I had after the deer tick bite in 2003 reappeared.  This scared me.

I went to the doctor who tested me for autoimmune diseases.  I didn’t think to get tested for any of the tick-borne illnesses.  I’ve seen a few crawling on me this year, but none of them were attached.

“Positive,” one of my lab reports reads.  I received them in an email without an explanation from my doctor.  A lab report I can’t understand, but I do know the word positive.

I called the nurse,  “What am I positive for?” I asked her.

“Something arthritic,” she answered.

I know the test is for autoimmune diseases, but they have to do further testing to know which one.  It could be Lupus or RA and for all I know it could be Chronic Fatigue Syndrome or something else!

My doctor still hasn’t sent me a note, explained anything or asked for a follow-up.  Modern times I guess.

The referring nurse called to say the Rheumatologists can see me in August.  This is April.  Sigh…

We have many fine Rhuematologists here, but they won’t see me because I have insurance for poor people and doctors don’t like it because they don’t get paid as much for their services.  I also have Medicare, but because I have Medicaid, they won’t see me.  The only ones who will take my insurance are the teaching clinics at the hospitals, which is a lot better than going to the public health department like I had to when I lived in the mountains.  That was altogether horrible.

Still, it isn’t very cool that I have a positive test for an autoimmune disease, which was taken because of joint pain and a worsening of fatigue and not be able to know what exactly I tested positive for.  I would at least like advice or counseling, since knowing me, I probably wouldn’t use whatever medication they suggested.  I can’t take medication for arthritis.  They all make me sick.  I can’t take most medications without getting sick.  However, I’d still like to know where I stand and what my body is battling.

I’ve suspected Lupus before and so have a few doctors I’ve seen, but you have to test for this disease when it’s active for the results to show positive.

I’m very tired and life isn’t slowing down for me.  It’s hard to keep up my obligations, some of which are difficult when I’m feeling well.

I keep thinking things will get better.  They’ve been bad before and they got better.

A cabin in the mountains near the hot springs is what I fantasize about.  Taking my dogs, a few good novels and waking up for a month or so, only to walk over to sit in the natural springs and enjoy a Swedish massage afterwards.

For now, I take comfort in nature.  I listen when the birds sing.  I hear that Cardinal.  “PurTY, PurTY, PurTY.”  He is so nice!

Thank you for visiting Dogkisses’s blog.  Please feel free to leave your thoughts.  Emails are never published.

Forest Food Web via mdlk12.org

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Pain in fibromyalgia

Grouse Feathers bring good medicine

A personal experience of living with persistent long-term pain

I’m aware of pain every moment.  A kind of pain that without medication is absolutely unbearable.  A kind of pain that is hard to describe.  It’s persistent, invasive and all-encompassing.  It isn’t only muscle or joint pain, but feels like every cell in my body hurts and is crying out pain.  Sometimes I feel like I’m on fire from the inside out.

Sometimes breathing feels like I have broken ribs and knives are sticking in my heart and lungs.   This kind of pain scares me.  Doctors believe it’s the tissue around my chest cavity that causes this particular pain, which they say is due to fibromyalgia.

I live with pain that the doctors say may very well continue the rest of my life.  I’m only forty-six.  I have severe fibromyalgia and Chronic Fatigue Syndrome.  I also have other conditions that cause pain, but in comparison are easily managed.

I’ve lived with severe pain every day for about seven years.  I’ve lived with intermittent pain from various conditions throughout my life, but fibromyalgia pain is the worst, both because of the intensity and chronicity.

I wake up every morning to pain, usually a moderate level, other times severe.  I always have some level of pain.  Sometimes the pain has been so severe that after taking enough pain medication to manage it, I’ve been left in a state of mental shock from the experience of intense widespread pain.

Sometimes I wake up crying.  Other times it’s the first thing I do.  I’ve cried myself to sleep plenty of nights.  It’s not only the pain that I cry over, but also the ongoing battle to manage and accept it.  I cry because pain intrudes upon every area of who I am and how I live my life.  Most of the time crying helps.  A good cry can be a positive experience.

Sometimes I have severe muscle spasms that take over my days, my nights and my life until they go away.  Hurting that bad wears me out physically, mentally and emotionally.  I can’t take muscle relaxers and narcotics don’t help spasms.  Spasms are completely debilitating.  They started a couple of years ago and each time they’ve been worse.  With a neck spasm I can’t move my head and the pain is off the scales – emergency room pain.

Sometimes I think about what doesn’t hurt.  My nose doesn’t usually hurt.

I don’t think I could live with the kind of pain I’ve experienced without medication.   I once seriously thought that I would have to tell my family it was not humane to expect me to live anymore.  I had decided during an excruciatingly painful camping trip that I could not take the kind of pain I was in and had been living with.  I had sat up all night in my tent thinking about it.

I was with my two dogs on top of a beautiful mountain.  I thought of my son and my mother.  My family.  I cried and sat there until sunrise, experiencing and feeling the enormous pain.

Fortunately, when I returned home I went to a doctor who began treating my pain.  That was five years ago.

It may be that pain will drive you crazy after a while if you don’t have a way to treat it.

Pain and managing it is as much a part of me and my life as is anything and feels like it may be the most important part.   I feel sure I’d go into shock and possibly have a heart-attack without pain medication.  That scares me.

For the most part I’m able to manage pain with medication.  I’m deeply grateful to have medication.  I’m normally able to keep the level of pain around a three on a scale of one to ten when my medication is working well, which includes not being groggy.  A level three or four is well-managed pain.

As a result of pain medication, I don’t have as many episodes as I used to of the kind of pain that feels like I can’t breathe or that I’ll have to go to the ER.  Sometimes I miss a dose and fall asleep.  That’s usually when I wake up with my entire body on fire and my chest cavity feeling like a mule kicked it.

I get scared of losing my doctor.  I’m afraid I would get a new doctor who wouldn’t understand how severe my pain is, like five years ago when many doctors didn’t believe in fibromyalgia.  They didn’t know what fibromyalgia was and would often blame it on psychological factors, such as stress or depression or they called it a, “trash-can diagnosis.”

I’ve tried nearly every non-narcotic pain reliever; including most of the antidepressants used to treat pain, along with the anti-seizure drugs Neurontin and Lyrica, but absolutely could not tolerate the side-effects.  I eventually began treatment with a tried and true pain reliever, which treats the pain with relatively few side-effects.

Several months ago stress increased in my life and so did the pain.  Any type of stress directly, and these days immediately, causes fibromyalgia pain to get worse.

I also went on another camping trip that physically set me back.  I lifted logs to have a fire.  Big heavy wonderful logs of Locust wood that I kept burning for four nights and five days right up ‘til the last few hours of packing to leave.  I did plenty I shouldn’t have done.  I hadn’t been camping since that one trip almost five years ago.

Being able to camp is something fibromyalgia has taken from me but evidently, I rebelled.   It didn’t work out too well.

As a result of high levels of stress and the killer camping trip, I recently had to increase my dosage of pain medication.  I thought the aftermath of pain from camping, which was almost four months ago would go away, but it never did.

Pain is depressing.  Knowing that I might have to take pain medication for the rest of my life is scary.  I get scared of getting old because I wonder how an older body will tolerate this pain or the side-effects of medications.   I wonder how many times in my life I will have to increase the dose of pain medication.  There are only so many times a person can do this in one lifetime.  It’s all scary.

Personally one of the most difficult aspects of living with fibromyalgia pain is that it’s invisible.  The same is true with medical fatigue.   People will question and some will outright attack your character.  Some people question your intelligence and your honesty, along with your motivation to seek out disability benefits when the pain and fatigue is severe.

Personally, it has been my blood relatives who have hurt me the most.  I’m not sure what their intentions have been or what they gain from not believing that I have pain that requires treatment.  They certainly don’t understand what Chronic Fatigue Syndrome entails.

I don’t know where the silver lining in the cloud is.  I’d rather not have pain than to learn the lessons pain teaches, if that’s where the silver lining is.

Pain is humbling.  It teaches that the human body is what it is –human.

Pain begs me to take better care of myself and to care more about myself.

I grew up hearing the saying, “What doesn’t kill you makes you stronger.”  I wonder.  I’m darn tired and worn out.  I think I would be stronger if I hadn’t had ongoing experiences that felt like they might kill me.

I’m not too good at finding the silver lining in a cloud of pain.

I’m better at finding ways to cope.  Little things that make me feel better like hanging out with my dogs.  I love to rub the silky coat my young dog has.  She’s the softest animal I’ve ever touched.  She’s my tender heart.

My other dog is really my son’s dog but lives with me.  He and I have always had a strong connection so we’re pretty close pals nowadays.  I feel like his grandma.  He’s a stoic fellow, but once in a while he’ll decide to give me one little kiss, just one and it’s always a surprise, like when I come home after having been out for a while.

My dogs give me joy and really do comfort my heart when all else seems lost or out of control.  Dogs rule.  They never argue and certainly never are they mean, at least mine aren’t.  Dogs love you unconditionally, as long as you feed them, so that’s pretty cool with me.

Intentionally experiencing gratitude helps me ease anxiety or depression.

I think about the basic necessities in life –shelter, clothing, food, and sometimes little luxuries too.  I think about things I’m grateful for because it actually does make a little difference in the way I feel.  Some days it makes a huge difference.

As I write, the worst part of chronic pain is that it hurts today and I know it will tomorrow.  The best part of having to live with chronic pain is that I have access to good medical care and medication to treat it.

Maybe one day I won’t have such severe pain.  Maybe one day I won’t have fibromyalgia.  Maybe I’ll discover new or different ways of treatment that works.  One can hope because anything is possible.  Well, most anything.

Image via “The Graphics Fairy” — “Feathers -Autumn Display”

You cry fibromyalgia

peace prevailed

Peace of Home

The car was parked unusually close to my apartment.  It was foggy and I didn’t recognize the passengers.  I had to take my dogs out.  I usually take both dogs, but I only took one this time.  Maybe I was subconsciously preparing for the fight or flight response.  I surely can’t respond with two big strong dogs pulling on me.

They were still sitting in the car when I came back to get my other dog.  I said hello and the young woman in the driver’s seat returned my greeting.  The subject of my neighbor quickly came up.   He’s been harassing me for two months.

I thought she was being nice but then she cursed.  I asked her to repeat herself.  She verbally insulted me.

I have a rebellious nature that doesn’t always serve me well.  I responded, but not by taking flight, which I should have done.  I told her what I thought of my neighbor and that’s when he got out of the car.

He had a strange hat on and didn’t look like himself.  She got out right after he did.  He was clearly more intoxicated than I’d ever seen him, which must have taken an incredible amount of alcohol.  He walked around the car towards me.  He began his attack with a vulgar one-man show.

I was stunned but not too surprised by my neighbor’s behavior.   It was a clear view of what I had felt during the times I had tried interacting with him.   There had been a constant current of contempt seeping from his pores and he reveled in it like the insects in the sticky sweet sap from the wounded oak tree in my yard this past summer.

Being around him each time had left me raw and open, as if like the oak, something had struck a part of my foundation.

I made brief eye contact with the young woman.  We had both stood silently while he acted out.

“Why don’t you try talking to him?” she asked me.

Her remark actually surprised me more than the neighbor’s behavior had.

“You see the kind of person he is?” I asked her.  Obviously she didn’t.

“He’s really a good guy,” she said.

I guess she’s an optimist.  Maybe she believes she has magic powers that will reveal this “good guy.”

His behavior over the past two months had led to eviction papers but he blamed me.

I guess I was being the optimist too because I thought if I asked him one more time to be quiet, especially in front of a woman he wanted to impress, that maybe he would listen.  I was wrong.

“Why don’t you just leave me alone?  I need sleep.  I have…’’  I was going to say fibromyalgia, but he interrupted and began an outlandish verbal bashing.

“Oh and what do you say?” he shouted gloriously.  “You say you have fii bro my algia!  And what does fii bro my algia mean!  That you hurrt!”  He drew out the words fibromyalgia and hurt with great scorn.

He shouted fibromyalgia several more times.  Amazingly he pronounced it correctly, but then he had told me several times about having been the smartest student in his high school English department.  I’d found this curious because he reminded me of it every time I mentioned my writing.  It seemed like he needed to always make it understood between us that he was smarter and better than me.

This is all much clearer to me now.  Now that it’s all over and I can hear myself think again.  For a while, all I heard every day and night was him.

He looked up at the sky continuing to shout out, “Oh I hurt! I hurt! I hurt!”

“Oh! Oh! Oh!” he kept on.  He started physically mocking a person in pain by holding his body in ways to act like he was hurting.  He included sexual innuendos while he was carrying on.  It was a crude and ugly scene.

I can’t say why I stood there witnessing this behavior as long as I did, although I think it only lasted a short time.  Responding to a sudden outburst of verbal abuse and being bullied like I was isn’t something I’m well practiced at doing.

“You’re a c**t,” he said.  There it was.  Hatred that I knew was there.  I’m not sure if this surprised me or not.  My memory of the event is like one moment in time.  I remember more how I felt afterward than I do about when it was happening.

He briefly paced around in a small circle, obviously spewing with anger.  He called me that name again.  His friend looked a little ashamed, but she didn’t interrupt him.

I wondered how could she be okay with what we both saw.  I failed to remember that she’s looking beyond his behavior at some fairy tale in the sky where he’s that, “good guy.”

“I work every day,” I said.  I knew nothing I could say would mean anything to him, drunk or sober, but I’d said it anyway.

“Oh yeah, and what do you do!  You cry the fibromyalgia blues!  You sit home on you’re a** and cry those fibromyalgia blues, and oh how it hurts.”  He tried to sing but was way too intoxicated.  “I hurt, I hurt, oh I hurt,” he shouted, still looking at the sky.  I don’t know why I so clearly remember him looking at the sky while he ranted and raged.

I’ve never cried any fibromyalgia blues to that guy.  I did cry twice around him while attempting a friendship, but my tears had nothing to do with fibromyalgia.  He was by far one of the rudest people I’ve ever been around and twice he insulted me in ways that caused me to eventually stop speaking to him.   The few times I visited him felt like I had entered his personal war zone.  Like he took a break from shooting arrows in his backyard and invited me over for some easy shots.

He continued with his drunken spew of contempt standing there in front of my porch.  “You sit and cry how you hurt so you can get a check!”  He emphasized the word check with a high note.  Then of course he mentioned tax dollars.

Some people who claim patriotism don’t seem interested in the big picture of what helps shape our country into a place of opportunity and freedom — for every citizen.

In America we can better our lives, all of us, not just the able-bodied working folks.  We can be anything we want to be.  We strive to make sure that every child receives an education.  We have social aid and many government programs to help needy children, and their families.   We also help our disabled and elderly citizens.   At least, those are American ideals.

People who don’t understand disability unless there is a wheelchair or a death-bed in sight can be cruel, like my neighbor.  Some people will automatically assume a person without these visible affirmations of a handicap or illness is a fraud.

I continued trying to defend myself, which was an odd experience.   I didn’t much care what this neighbor thinks of me.  The words coming out of my mouth were like dampened cries from another place.

“I paid taxes.” I said.  I knew it would only make him madder so again, the rebel in me most likely wasn’t serving my best interests, which is ultimately to have peace in my life.  Obviously this means walking away from certain people or situations.

“Yeah.  I’m sure they took a little out of your check,” he stammered.

“You are nothing,” he said.   He stomped out his cigarette on the ground.  “Nothing,” he repeated.

I remember this part clearly.  Finally, he began walking away.

“I’m not nothing,” I said quietly.  I almost cried but stopped myself.  I looked into the young woman’s eyes again wondering, I guess, what she thought of her friend.

“I know that,” she said.   She didn’t look pleased about her friend’s behavior, but she was looking for the sunny side of a burnt fried egg.

“You ain’t nothing,” he stopped to say once more before going inside his apartment.

“I’m better than you,” I said calmly, although that response surprised me.

“Ohhh yeah!  Oh you are sooo good aren’t you!”

“Yes.  I am.”  I said.  “You’ll be leaving soon,” I added.  I shut my door.

That wasn’t his last performance but he’s gone now.  It was a long two months.

The short-lived relationship I had with this person was an eye-opening experience for me.  I thought I’d be able to spot a narcissist anywhere and easily.

Spotting one and ducking one are different skills.

I don’t know how narcissistic my former neighbor is, but he sure had a mighty large dose of himself.  Arrogance and a sense of superiority over most of humanity were traits he proudly displayed.  I didn’t know what to think.  One day I asked him why he invited me over if he didn’t like anything I ever said and put me down all the time.  He said I took things wrong, adding that his friends were all fine with his ways.

I guess there are many reasons a person criticizes others, particularly when it is done with great passion.

“What you see is what you get,” I remember saying to my neighbor months ago.

I finally decided that people who spend a lot of time hiding think everyone else is doing it too, but that’s just a personal theory.

From now on, I’m going to follow Leslie’s turn on this phrase, “What I see is what you get.” which she talks about in a recent blog post on malignant narcissists.

I forgot to keep the light in the watchtower glowing.  I forgot that when people prove they are mean and rude to get away from them if I can, instead of trying to figure out if I imagined them being mean and rude.  I forgot again to listen to myself.  I keep doing that, but then forgetting does remind me to remember.

Thank you for visiting my blog.

This post represents several things to me personally, the best of which, I guess, is what it was like being bullied, although I didn’t write about the aftermath of that evening.  It was as hard or harder than standing there witnessing my neighbor’s abuse.

It’s also an extreme example of stigma and disbelief around invisible illness.  Although this person was intoxicated, I’ve had the stones thrown at me for looking fine and receiving disability benefits.

It’s about learning to walk away, right away, from people who behave destructively, especially when I am the target.  As with most of my posts, it seems to be about listening to myself, or not, depending on how you look at it.  I prefer to believe that I’ll eventually get wise(r?).

Also, my friend CJ, who has a great blog about living with fibromyalgia, has repeatedly encouraged me to keep on writing.  Write anything she said.  In that respect, this post speaks to my rather frequent unfortunate entanglements.

With all that said, I’m happy to have my personal space back, my peace of home and am rather looking forward to the rest of this beautiful season.

Peace



The Elusive Fence

“Everything God creates is good, and God made sex, so therefore, sex, when done well, is divine.” Amy Wolf

“I’m a FenceSitter,” I told him, as I was finishing, rather nervously, my third glass of water. Our eyes met but I’m not so quick when it comes to what I suspect is fairly easily discernible to most folks.  I’m usually the last person in a group, besides one of my sisters, to get a joke.  People’s witty remarks come slowly to me.  I think way too much.  Our conversation continued without my having taken note of an elusive imploring look in his eyes.

“What do you mean?” he asked as he sat there,  seemingly content and happy in one of the handmade chair-stools at the large wooden table in his kitchen.

“Sometimes I don’t know what to do,” and I told him a little about what being a FenceSitter means to me.  I also told him the story behind the wonderful image.  He still hadn’t said anything as to the irony of what I was describing to him.

He grabbed another beer.  “Just do whatever you want to do,” he said with an ease of mind that may accompany a carefree lifestyle with minimal responsibilities.

I needed to decide, I thought.  In reality, I’d already decided on what I was going to do with my evening.  The navy blue shirt he was still pulling over his head when I opened my door felt like a sudden hard rain that comes while you’re driving,  causing you to pull over to the side and wait.

“I guess I don’t know what I want,” I responded.  I looked at the drawings on the large table, along with initials and short sentences.  I imagined the people who had sat there most likely inspired by alcohol, the main source of which being Pabst Blue Ribbon and much of the time, Johnny Cash’s music.

“Well, that’s no good.  Let me get you another glass of water,” he said.   His apartment was quieter than usual for a weekend.  He said his roommate was gone.  I asked if he had plans for the evening.

“Nope,” he said, without any hint about what he might like to do or wished he could do, which was a part of my acute but temporary dilemma.  Another part was that when I’d sat down at his table and told him I was on my way out for the evening, he’d said, “You look nice.”  I’d never seen the look on his face that I saw in that moment.   His eyes had only traveled from my hair and face to the crisscrossed straps of my summer dress.  “Very nice,”  he politely added.  He reminded me of a cowboy in an old western movie when he nodded his head in a slight way giving me the impression that his compliment was genuine.   I needed more water.

“I can’t believe I’m this age,” I finally said, as I finished another glass of water with about twenty more minutes behind me.

He smiled.  “Are you saying making decisions doesn’t get any easier when you get older?” he asked.

“Exactly,” I said.  I was no longer sitting but had stood up, taking hold of my handbag and keys, even though it didn’t change the way I felt.   “I mean it ought to be easier by now.  I should know what I want.”  I realized that making decisions were much easier for me when I was younger.  I don’t know when things changed.  I guess when I got sick.

I do know one thing I want and that is to feel good.  I’m tired of being sick and damn tired of pain.  I’m really really tired of it.  I’m tired of feeling like life is passing me by because I’m too weak and fatigued to do the things I wish I could do.  I’m also tired of being indecisive and unsure of myself — sort of unfamiliar in my skin.

“Sometimes being a FenceSitter is hard,” I told him.  Time was passing quickly and I was counting every minute by the clock on his stove.

“Right now you’re sitting at a fence,” he said.   He’d told me earlier that he had built the table out of fence posts.  “How does that feel?” he asked with a  smile on his face.

I finally got it!  My new acquaintance is a FenceBuilder and I was sitting at the FenceTable talking about being a FenceSitter!. I laughed, but only slightly.  I was a little embarrassed that I hadn’t gotten this already.  I was also a bit taken by the irony.

“It feels pretty good,” I responded, and it did, except for my decision-making dilemma that I was creating on my own.  Nature had indeed slowed me down, but things had cleared enough so that I could have moved on towards my original destination.   Instead, I drank more water.  There were many things going on in my mind at once.

My age, being sick all the time, feeling like I’d lost so much time to grief, and last year, to an emotional trauma.  I wanted to live but that was why I’d made an earlier engagement.

“Help me out here,” I asked the FenceBuilder.   “I’m really too tired to drive,” I remarked.  I was sick.  It was true.  In fact, I was barely getting around but felt I’d go crazy if I didn’t get out and away from my home for a while.  I’d been in the bed most of the day with nausea and fatigue.  It had been a bad day.

“Ahh, you’re not too sick,” he responded, and he smiled.  He didn’t believe me.  I could tell.  I saw no use in trying to explain what fibromyalgia or CFS is like.  I did make an attempt at what felt like defending myself.

“I woke up sick.  I really don’t feel good.”

“Then why did you make a plan to go out?”

People don’t understand chronic sickness, surely not when they can’t see it, and even more surely, when the sick person is freshly showered and dressed up a little.  Looking good and being sick don’t mix well in the minds of those who’ve never experienced an everyday battle with illness.

“I just wanted to get out for a while,” I said.  We talked more and I drank more water.  I didn’t know what to make of the feelings I was having.  I wanted to keep my plans, kind of.  I think I wanted my cake and to eat it too, but I wasn’t sure that was the only dynamic happening.  I felt like if I was continuing to sit there with this man, that possibly that was exactly what I really wanted to do.

I honestly didn’t feel like driving by that time and quickly approaching was guilt about getting sidetracked, even if Mother Nature did have a little something to do with it.  The rest was up to me, like keeping my agreements with people, which is important to me.

As the minutes passed we continued enjoying each others company.  I told him the story of me having had two tick-borne illnesses.  I told him I’d been struck with Chronic Fatigue Syndrome after the second one, which was Rocky Mountain Spotted Fever that had lasted over a month before a doctor finally prescribed medication.  “I lost a lot of weight,” I said.  “I barely weighed a hundred pounds.”

“Well you can’t weigh too much more than that now,” he remarked. I realized he was right.  “I carry more than that around on both my shoulders every day,” and he laughed.

Mother Nature again!  I had a hot flash.  He got me another glass of water.  Now I was thinking about his arms and shoulders.  There had been many times I’d seen him arriving home in the heat after a long day of work without his shirt on.  Sometimes I’d wondered if it had been for my benefit but I always brushed it off.  I did however flirt with the young man.

Men flirt with younger women all the time.  Men date younger women all the time.   I’ve never flirted much, but I feel like time isn’t necessarily on my side.  If I’m ever going to know what it feels like to flirt, then I figure I better get to it, so I have, a couple of times.  It felt safe and I must admit, it was fun.  I had no clue that the FenceBuilder might feel the same way I was feeling when I’d seen him cleaning out his truck or meandering around in his yard without his shirt on.  Well, maybe I did have some clues.

I was trying to get more clues by the fourth or fifth glass of water I drank while I sat at the fence-table.  “Well, now I have more things to think about in making my decision, or rather, changing a decision at the last moment,” I said followed by a deep breath I felt like I needed.

“Like what?” he asked, seemingly naive but now, I realize, he most certainly was not.

“Well,  imagining you slinging around hundreds of pounds on your shoulders doesn’t help matters.”

He smiled.  I excused myself.  I needed fresh air.  I had to think about canceling my plans.  I felt pretty bad about it but time had gotten away from me and I guess, I simply couldn’t walk away from the desire to go back to see the FenceBuilder.

I made a phone call changing my plans.  I made a brief trip home discovering a plate of fresh pasta with herbs and chicken in my refrigerator.  A neighbor had cooked it for me and left it while I had been out.  I was starving.  I ate it immediately.  I felt better.  I thought I’d made the right decision.

Arriving back at the FenceTable I accepted a beer, which is pretty unusual for me, but I had a feeling the rest of the evening would be an unusual experience.

I think the FenceBuilder may have used my pain to get closer to my body, but I’m not going to hold it against him.  “Does your shoulders or back hurt?” he asked.

“My entire body hurts when it hurts,” I responded and quickly added, “although it does settle in my shoulders.”

“Would you like a massage?”

I never say yes to this!  “Yes, I would,” I said.

Stress had filled several consecutive days.  Financial worries had been making me nauseated but also disturbing me were my deep concerns about my son.

He has an ACT team who doesn’t do shit and this makes me mad, and stressed!  I am a mother — not a social worker, a doctor, a therapist, a money manager, which are all treatment services the ACT team claims to be providing for my son.  I’ve been doing their job for the best of a year.

After massaging my shoulders,  he casually sat back down in his chair.  Smiling he asked me what I wanted as he opened another beer.

I didn’t think much about my stress for the next twenty-four hours, other than I might pay a price in fatigue and pain.  Much fun was had.  There was nothing confusing about that.

As I write, still fatigued, I’m reminded of my wonderful meeting with a Morgan horse named Candy.  I knew I’d pay a price in pain for the fun lesson I had with her.   My body feels about the same today as it did two days after my lesson with her and I learned some things too.

Riding a horse gives me joy for several weeks afterward.  Horses are good medicine for depression.  I had great fun with the FenceBuilder, but unlike my time riding horses in which I always feel an emotional connection, I was left with somewhat of a wanting feeling.

Something was missing.  I realized it was in my heart.

I missed my best friend who is on another vacation.   I longed for his company all day.  I longed for a feeling of being connected.  I took my younger dog for an early evening walk to a nearby natural butterfly garden.

I thought about how I was feeling.  Embrace this wanting I feel. Know it and feel it. So I did.  It was not such an easy feeling to sit with.

Returning home I snuggled up close to my canine companions.  They are my best friends.  Their sweet eyes revealed their loyalty and love.  I rubbed their soft fur.

Lying in my living room, brightened only by a colorful hanging lamp I recently installed, I saw the light flickering on my cell phone.  My dear friend had sent me a wonderful long text message, which he’d never done before.  He usually emails from his trips away.  His text felt more intimate than the emails.  He shared interesting little details of his trip.  Little things that made such a huge impact on me.  This soothed some the wanting in my heart.

I realized as I embraced the feeling, that I have some really good people in my life.  People who understand I live with pain and sickness.  Not dozens of people, but a few, which is enough.  I was reminded of how much I love these friends.

I learned too that part of why I enjoy riding horses is that they sense how I feel and this is a wonderful connection.   I actually communicated on an emotional level much more with the Morgan, Candy, than I did with the handsome FenceBuilder.

I learned too that FenceBuilders are indeed strong.  I have no doubt in my mind that the man can carry two or three times my weight over his shoulders.

As to being a FenceSitter, well, maybe the years ahead of me will change this some, maybe.  For a short time I was free, like butterflies on a sunny summer day.  As to my decision to return to the handsome FenceBuilder’s FenceTable, accepting a shoulder massage, which I had strongly suspected would lead to more, I have no regrets.



Finding my favorite tree

“I’ve watched you since you got off the interstate Mam,” the highway patrol officer said.  His head was shaved and his cheek had a bulge from whatever form of nicotine he was enjoying.  “You seem confused,” he added.

I had pulled the little Chevrolet I’d borrowed to the side of the road.  Just as I turned off the engine the blue lights came on.

“I was looking for a place to use a restroom,” I responded, which was true, although I was actually looking for a place to find my favorite tree.  That’s what we called it when my son was a cub scout.  “I didn’t think I’d make it to the one in the grocery store and I saw this road.  It looks like an okay place.”  It actually looked perfect.

“You acted like you didn’t know where you were,” the officer said.  “You took a different exit out of the parking lot than the one you came in on.   That is suspicious behavior Mam and that’s really why I’ve followed you since you came off the exit ramp.”

I didn’t have such a good feeling.

“I saw this road and that sign says I can get back on the highway from either exit,” I told him, which would be the last logical sentence spoken during what ended up being nearly a three-hour long interrogation.

“Yes, the sign does say that,” he responded, “but most people know that the way you chose is the long way.”

“I’m not from here Sir,” I said.  “I didn’t know that.”

“Yeah, you don’t see many signs like that,” he added as he spit on the ground.   “The arrows are pointing in opposite directions that goes to the same place.”

Exactly I thought!

“You drove around in the parking lot before you decided which exit to take.”

I thought we had cleared up the, “confused,” part already with his confirmation that the sign was a strange one.  I was wrong.

“I need to see your license Mam,” he said. “You didn’t have your seat-belt on.”

I had a feeling it was the seat-belt, but I would soon learn it was much more than that.  My bladder was too full to have walked inside of the Food Lion to the back of the store where I assumed the restrooms were.   Wendy’s drive-through window was open but they said no when I stopped and asked if I could use their facilities.

I saw a side road behind the Food Lion, along with a patch of thick trees. Perfect spot, I thought. The parking lot exit was only about ten or so feet from the narrow darkened road.  I thought about my seat-belt, which I had taken off, but in my tired state of mind with a full bladder, I only wanted to find a tree and thought I’d be safe in that short of a distance.  I was wrong, again.

As he walked away with my license I leaned my head out of the window a bit.  “Sir, may I get out and go over there,” I pointed to the patch of tress. “

“No Mam,” he said firmly.  “You stay right where you are.”

So I did.  I waited as the lights flashed.  I was exhausted.  My life was crazy.  My son was not well.

The time was around 1:30am.  The place was a rural North Carolina town that was half-way between my hometown and where I was living in the mountains of the western part of our state.  My travels to visit family often included stopping there for a break from driving.  Once in a while we would eat or shop in the historic downtown district.

I was driving a car that belonged to my mechanic,  so of course, there were a few things wrong with it.   Some mechanics neglect their own cars.  My mechanic and dear friend, Sonny, always kept his cars running, but that didn’t necessarily mean keeping up with things like the inspection and license plate.

“Have you been drinking?” he asked when he returned.  “I thought I smelled alcohol.”

I’m like Jim Carey was in that movie where he couldn’t lie when I get  nervous, and this officer was making me nervous.

“I had less than a third of a beer in Chapel Hill, but that was with dinner around six or six-thirty,” I told him quickly.   I’ll take a breathalyzer now if you want me to.  I’m not intoxicated.”  I was happy to do it thinking I’d get away from him, possibly with a ticket, but then I could go somewhere to pee!

The officer was more than glad to give me the test.  “Come with me,” he said.  “I have to administer it to you in my vehicle.”

So I did.

I was wearing a short jumpsuit dress and flip-flops.  I sat in his car acutely aware of the length of my dress, which I noticed had not entirely missed his observations.   He prepared the test.  I’d never seen one before nor had I ever sat in a patrol car.  I kept trying to make sure my dress stayed put as I sat there getting more and more nervous.

He spit in a jar that he had a place for in his car.  I took the test and passed, without any trace of alcohol.

“There,” I said.  “I told you I’m not intoxicated.  I’m tired and I need to pee.”

“These things don’t always work.  Sometimes you get a false report,” he said.

I don’t know what I thought but being nervous triggered my essential tremor, which is a neurological disorder that makes you shake.  My entire body began to shake on the inside and I knew, within minutes, I’d be shaking all over.  It started in my legs.

“How about I give you another test,” the officer said.

I knew the test he meant.   I assumed I would fail because of the tremor.  He wanted me to walk straight lines with my arms out and touch my nose, etc…  Something I’d only seen on television.  I told him about the tremor and how it also affects coordination.  He ignored me.

I took the test.  It was difficult and I felt like I was completely failing due to the tremor.  Standing on one leg with the other up in the air and my arms and hands doing weird things at the same time, well, it was insane!  He said I passed with flying colors.  I couldn’t believe it!

I thought I’d be leaving soon.  I was wrong, again.

A female officer arrived about that time.  Boy was I glad to see her!  He told her it was a seat-belt violation and he could handle it.

“Sir, may I relieve my bladder while she is here?”   She appeared okay with this looking to the officer, obviously to see if it was alright with him.  I was hopeful.  He  said no.  Plain and simple.  “I’ll take it from here,” he had told her and she left.

“Let’s go back in my car and talk,” he said.

He told her to leave.  I don’t know why I didn’t ask that she stay.  My full bladder and essential tremor took over my ability to think clearly.

Back in his car, we talked and talked and talked! I explained why I was making the trip and why I was so tired.

“Have you used any other substances today Mam?”

He asked me this question about fifty times or more.  Over and over he kept asking.  I kept answering with the same answer, which was no.

“Your speech is off,” he said.

“Yes Sir,” I responded.  “The tremor makes my voice shake, especially when I’m tired.”

“It’s against the law to drive when you’re this tired,” he said.  “You should have stopped before now.  You could have checked into a motel.”

“I can’t really afford a room ,” I told him.  “I actually did stop two exits back but the motel was closed.”

“Yes I know the one,” he said.  He named the owners mentioning that they would definitely be asleep.  Thank God I thought.  He believes me so I’ll be on my way soon.  Well, I was wrong again.

We continued to sit there along the dark road, alone.  He continued with the same question, “What other substances (besides the small amount of beer I’d had seven hours earlier) have you used today Mam?”

“None,” I answered him, again.

There was a strange scent and I knew it was coming from my clothes.  I began to assume that if I could smell it, then likely so could he.

Perhaps he thought I was not a tired mother in a crisis at all and instead a good actress whose crimes would get him a promotion or something.

My friend, whom I’d had dinner with in Chapel Hill, along with his elderly mother-in-law, whom I’d drank the bit of beer with, had smoked some strong-smelling Ganja during our visit.  My clothes were dank with the scent.  I had not joined in, but I would have if I hadn’t had to drive home.   My friend’s mother-in-law smokes the best in the land and  I must say she sure seems to be healthy and happy.    Now in her nineties, she’s still kickin’ and still puffin’, although I think she has taken to drinking tea instead.

I think my bladder frozen.  I began to forget that I ever had to pee.

The interrogation continued.  Finally he said, “Can you say your ABC’s backwards?”

“No,” I answered, “I don’t think I could do that.”  I had never tried but I was pretty sure I couldn’t do it.  That isn’t how my brain works.  I don’t think I could do it in the best of my hours.

“Okay then, I’ll have you say them in order,” the officer responded.

I thought this was funny.  Easy breezy I thought.  I was wrong again!.

“Well,” I asked, “How did I do?”

“Not good,” he said.  “You failed.  You made three mistakes.”

“What!”

“You didn’t even end with a Z,” he said.

He held out a paper.  “Here, I’ll show you,” and he showed me where he had written my mistakes.

“Well I haven’t had to say them since my son was in elementary school and that’s been a long time,” I said.  I tried joking when I said, ” I could sing them because that’s the only way I’ve ever really said them out loud.”

He responded with, “What other substances have you used today Mam?”

“I haven’t used any other substances Sir”

We sat there.  He talked a lot about keeping the public safe, which included protecting them from people like me who were driving while tired.  It was his job he kept repeating, in between his questioning me and spitting into his jar, to keep citizens on the highways safe.

“It isn’t only the other people on the road,” he said.  “It’s also my job to keep you safe.”

“If I could use a restroom and then have a cup of coffee,  I’m sure I can make it home.  I only have an hour and a half to go,”  I told him, but I didn’t get any response.

I stood my ground.  I wasn’t about to tell the officer that my friend had smoked some herb.  He most certainly would not believe that I had not partaken, which I had not.  Would you believe it?!

~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~

I drove into the parking lot of the Waffle House near my apartment around 4:30am.  Finally, I got to pee.  I ordered breakfast.  My adventures were not over yet.

Two men with guns came in while I was there.  “We’re here to rob this place,” one of the men sheepishly announced.  The only employees working at the Waffle House were female.  The two men were obviously intoxicated. One went to use the restroom!

“The police are on their way,” one of the female cooks told the men.  They waited a few minutes.   No officers showed up.  “Their coming,” she said a few minutes later.  She continued to cook and serve the customers, while the men stood there looking around the place, which was another oddity.  The customers were all women around the same age, most likely in their forties.   I wondered what were we all doing at the Waffle house eating alone at a time such as 4:30 AM?

The cook said something like, “They’ll be in any minute now,” which sounded like a mother threatening a child with a father’s discovery of some wrong doing on the child’s part.   The men turned around and walked out the door.  One of them slurred out a few obscenities directed at the women, but not until he was outside.

“Why aren’t the police here?” I asked my waitress.

“Oh, we didn’t really dialed 911,”  she said.  “We get all kinds in here.”

~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~

As I walked into the courthouse thirty days later, my tickets and cash in hand, there were four sheriffs standing there to search my handbag.

“Could you please dump the contents of your bag here Mam,” one of them requested.  They all looked the same, which was exactly like the officer who had interrogated me.  They were all chewing on something too.

I was traveling light.  My tickets, billfold and keys were all I had in my bag, I thought, until more than a dozen rainbow-colored condoms covered the table when I emptied it.  The sheriffs looked at one another.

“I give those to homeless people and teenagers in the town I live in,” I told them.  They all grinned at each other.

The health department where I lived always had a huge garbage can full of free condoms.  There were lots of hippies, wayward teenagers and homeless people who roamed or lived there.   I had gone for a doctor’s visit the day before court and filled my purse with the condoms on my way out.

Walking away from the Sheriffs on my way into the courtroom, they snickered and one said, “Have fun in there Mam.”

The interrogating patrol officer had finally decided to let me go with a couple of tickets, including driving without a seat belt, an expired inspection and expired tags.

Sonny!  He was so nice to let me borrow his car.  He filled the gas tank, checked the tires and oil and knowing Sonny, probably gave me twenty dollars for an emergency.  He didn’t think about inspections or tags.  Sonny, who passed away recently, could have probably driven anything he wanted to in this town.  He was a well-liked man.  Most of the county sheriffs knew him and I do believe they would have been hard pressed to have given him a ticket.  He had probably fixed their cars or their parents’ cars in the past or loaned somebody they knew money during a hard time.  Sonny was an awesome man and I sure do miss him.

Fortunately because it was a borrowed car, the judge dismissed the expired tags and inspection and I paid the fine for the seat belt violation.

“Have a nice day Mam,” the officers, who had apparently enjoyed the colorful contents of my handbag said to me as I was leaving.   They were still grinning —    and spitting.

I visited the elderly woman later but we hung out at her pool that time.  And that time, I’m not saying if I did or did not partake.  I didn’t drive.

This is a story from 2003 and it belongs to me, Dogkisses.