Posts Tagged ‘fatigue’

A Holiday Season for the Birds

“We missed you at the dinner,” my mother said.

“I missed being there,” I replied, sincerely.

We let the sadness sit in silence for a moment.

I’ve missed so many important occasions over the past decade.

Family reunions, weddings, birthdays, baby showers and this year, our Christmas gathering, have all happened without me.

Mother always tells me who showed up and gives me bits of updates on my loved ones.  Loved ones I’ve lost contact with, except through photos or indirect stories.

I’m trying not to let things get me down this holiday season, but so far, it is a huge challenge.

Not only am I in more pain from fibromyalgia and a few new ailments too, my son and I are not getting along.  It’s a double dose of holiday grief!

While talking with Mother about the Christmas gathering that I wasn’t able to attend, I immediately felt my heart-strings pull.  My efforts to be positive seemed to pay off because right away I decided to try and take joy in her account of the gathering.  I was surprised when soon I was smiling, as I imagined one of my great nieces bringing one of her cousins five wrapped presents.

“I don’t know if she got the other ones anything, but she sure had five,” Mother said, with that pure joy a Great-Grandmother has.  “She had every one of them wrapped too,” she added with a little laugh.

After a few minutes into the conversation, I walked to the window where I could see a flock of Robins in the yard. They love the grassy lawn where I live and they are spectacular to see!  They always seem to come when the light shows their silhouettes under the Sycamore tree.  Many of them move toward my door, and I get to see them up close and personal as they lean in towards the ground, turning their heads slightly, listening for earthworms.

Robin listening for worms

The Robin Listens

“Hey Mother!  The Robins are here!”

I’ve told her about the Robins before.

Amidst the flock were other birds about the same size as Robins, but with black with golden stripes.  One or two had iridescent blue heads, so perhaps they were young Common Grackles.

Sometimes, when I mention the birds in my yard over the phone to people, they’re silent for a moment afterward.  I always wonder if they think I’m making up these tales of many birds!

Mother was quiet for a moment, but then she remarked that I should, “send a photo to that wildlife magazine.”

I wish I could.  I wish I could, if for no other reason than to make her proud.  She would be happy to see one of my photos in a magazine.

I’m in pain and can’t sit long enough to complete even the most simplest of photo projects.

“Now,” I started telling my bird tales again, “there are Black-capped Chickadees, two or three bluejay, some Orioles, and the Hawk has landed on the ground!”

As if that wasn’t enough, a flock of Cardinals were perched on the bushes by the treeline!

“It’s a winged-oasis out there!” I told Mother.  “It’s so beautiful!”

I didn’t have the energy to go outside to take a photo.  At least, not yet.

I was happy to see the pretty winged visitors, as always, but when I’m feeling unusually blue, I am especially grateful because the beauty and life they bring lifts a part of my spirit every time.

I sensed my mother knew, or somehow, she could feel what I saw.

Mother and I have always had a connection on a level other than this physical one that we can see and understand.

Our talk ended when my son called.  “I hope he’ll stay and have the chocolate croissants with me,” I remarked to Mother.

He’s in the habit of taking food that I cooked to his apartment to eat.  He won’t visit me at home or talk to me much lately.

The hawk was still on the ground when my son arrived.  A neighbor walked by and we each watched the bird for a few minutes.

He was excited over the beautiful pastries and gave me a hug, thanking me for baking them, but he took his croissants and headed back home.  I was disappointed, but at least I knew he would enjoy them and that gave me comfort.

Practicing gratitude helps me get through hard times, even if the feeling only last for a little while.  I need to remember the better times and keep hope alive.

I’m glad for the ability to enjoy the natural world around me.  The wild ones keep coming back, so I have plenty of chances to take in nature’s beauty!

The hawk was still in the yard when my son left, but was perched on the electric wires.

I reached for my Canon!

The Red-shouldered hawk and that streak of beautiful Carolina sky!

Getting closer to the red-shouldered hawk

“How close are you going to get?”

Red-shouldered hawk perched on wire in backyard

“That’s Close Enough.”

Thank you for visiting my blog, dogkisses.

Peace and Happy Holidays!

Your blogger, Michelle.

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Coloring my World

It’s hard to live your life in color, and tell the truth in black and white. (Gregg Allman)

The Eastern Bluebird!

Backyard Birding in CarolinaI don’t think nature gets better than in the beauty of the Eastern Bluebird!

The little one in the above photo showed up in my yard with four or five more of the pretty blue beauties.  I reached for my Canon right away!

Differentiating between the male and female is somewhat challenging to me.

“Marvelous birds to capture in your binoculars, male Eastern Bluebirds are a brilliant royal blue on the back and head, and warm red-brown on the breast. Blue tinges in the wings and tail give the grayer females an elegant look.”  (Eastern Bluebird, Identification, All About Birds – Cornell lab of Ornithology).

Once in a while, when I have the energy, I practice photographing my winged friends in flight, which is a fun challenge, but not one I’ve mastered.

Eastern Bluebird landing on feeder

Winged in Blue, at the favorite feeder.

Fatigue has been a consistent companion since I moved to town in the beginning of 2014.  Taking photographs and uploading them to my computer meet my current energy limitations, but I enjoy browsing through the pictures.

I also enjoy recalling how I felt while taking a particular photograph.  The Eastern Bluebird’s backyard visit was exciting.   Watching them is a special time when nature is coloring my world.

A pair of Eastern Bluebirds foraging in grass and leaves.

Blue-Winged, Backyard Beauties!

I hope you’ve enjoyed a look at the Eastern Bluebird from my wild corner of town.

Thank you for visiting my blog, dogkisses!

Green Healing ~ Over and Over

in the garden, over and over

Crimson and Clover

A short day in the garden continues to be rather taxing for my body, including my brain, but is still very much worth it!

We start a new project each week.  We’re growing beds of Bok Choy, Lettuce, Carrots, a container of Sweet Peas, and we each have a potted assortment of Cacti that we took home.

We take care of the gardens planted last year; the beautiful robust Chard, Thyme, Parsley, Sage and I do believe, some Rosemary too, along with a spontaneous flower garden.

We harvested the wonderful Cabbage plants and next week are going to share a meal together.

after the harvest, we nourish our bodies

Cabbage ready to eat!

I love being in the open air, seeing smiles evoked by simple little things, like a bug or a bloom.  I also love seeing my son engaged, smiling and enjoying nature.

Being around people who are kind, understanding and who don’t put others in a box or see them as diagnoses, but instead as individual human beings with something unique to offer is a blessing.  I wish it was the norm, but I don’t think it is.

Even though I feel great fatigue after the class, I’m able to experience the ‘Green Healing’ as I sit quietly recalling the beauty of the flowers or interesting plants we saw, my son’s smiles and the often moving interactions with the other volunteers while we worked together.

Our visits to the greenhouse are always exciting as well.  Plants change from week to week and there’s usually something new along the path during our walk.  I love that!

people and plants

in the greenhouse

The patch of Crimson Clover (above) where the ladybugs live is thriving with beautiful blooms.  In honor of these awesome blooms, I’m sharing the song via YouTube.

This is an original short version, by Tommy James And The Shondells, as heard on WABC AM radio when it was a hit in 1968.

Thanks for visiting Dogkisses’s Blog!

‘Green Healing Days’ feed from Flickr

In all the fog, I write…

Thunder beings and Brain Fog

The Thunder Beings have roared and a hard rain is falling.  I sure am glad to be home.  I like being home with my dogs during a storm.  I also like knowing that as I write, my family are in safe places.   Shortly, I’ll be snuggling up with my furry family to watch a movie.  I can’t tell you which movie because I forgot the name of it, which brings me to the heart of this blog post.

I basically wanted to say hello to my blogging friends and readers.

I miss my blog.  I especially miss being able to think clearly enough to express myself through writing.

Normally, I can sit down and write ten pages about something and even though it might need editing, I’m able to communicate what is on my mind.  Lately, this is not the case.  I have a lot on my mind, much of which I’d like to write about in this blog, but I am simply too tired.   I’m also in a lot of pain.

I began this post last night and wanted to publish it while the Thunder Beings were here.  I finished it, which amazed me, but I couldn’t keep enough mental energy to tag it or put it in a category.

The Thunder Beings came back tonight just as I sat down in another attempt to write something that makes sense.  Another hard rain fell.

I don’t know who came up with the term, “brain fog,” but the condition is well understood by those of us who have Chronic Fatigue Syndrome and/or fibromyalgia.

Brain fog attempts to describe a medical mental fatigue that robs us of our normal cognitive skills and abilities.  For the past six months I’ve battled this fog consistently.  Normally, the condition isn’t this persistent and instead comes and goes, giving me times when I can still think.

Writing is hard when this is happening and I usually don’t even try.  I forget my words and have to use the dictionary constantly.  I can’t spell words I’ve spelled since elementary school.  My sentences are choppy and things aren’t flowing.

Brain fog can make a person nearly incapable of verbal responses.  It can have an effect on a person’s speech.  Words might get disordered in a sentence or we use a word that sounds like the one we are intending to say.

I know the words I’m looking for when I lose them.  I can describe the meaning, sometimes the sound or the first letter.  Written words I’ve known since I was a child look unfamiliar.

Mostly I’m tired and sleepy, but I can’t stay asleep long enough for my body to restore itself.  I’m half awake and half asleep.  It isn’t a good place to act from.

My body is as tired as my brain is.  Moving around is hard.  Bending over takes tremendous energy.  I can’t keep up with my chores and that stresses me out.

I’ve missed deadlines.  Many of my obligations in life are compromised.  I don’t get to go visit my family.  I’m also getting a bit confused and my short-term memory is shot.

The fatigue alone is completely overwhelming.  Add to that widespread ongoing pain in the nerves, muscles and deep in the bones and it is one mighty difficult condition!

Life goes on though.  It doesn’t stop for me to be sick or it seems, for me to get proper rest, but then maybe I don’t know how to rest.  Maybe I forgot.

Much of the time, I feel stressed.

I have an adult son, whom I love with all my heart.  He has challenges that I haven’t learned how to accept in a way that doesn’t cause me grief and anxiety.  I believe that accepting things the way they are is the best place to start when you want to change something, but honestly, I don’t feel like I’m doing a good job at this with mine or my son’s circumstances.

Being unwell causes me to feel like I’m failing my son, the other members in my family, including my dogs and a community.  I can’t say that I have the latter, but if I did belong to a community, where would I fit in I wonder.

When I have brain fog, I don’t feel like I have anything to offer.  I do love my family and friends, so I guess love is the one thing I still have to give, no matter what.

I worry about what is happening in this country.  The cuts in our system are scary to me on a personal level.

Being a disabled American makes me feel like a misfit.  The taxpayer’s enemy.  I represent to some Americans the reason our country is in such bad shape.  Somebody, “living for free.”  A flaw in an otherwise well-functioning system.

The doctor wonders what is depressing me!

Chronic illness impacts my view of myself and the world.  It’s a view that’s been filtered through pain, mental fog and bewildering fatigue, along with a very long decade of chronic stress.

I have the dogs to keep things real.  Plus, of course, I love them and think they’re the greatest little creatures to have ever lived on the planet!

One of my dogs had to go out a little while ago.  I was lying on the sofa.  He came over and sat there beside me, patiently waiting.

I felt like a million pounds of sand was lying on top of my body and it hurt.  After about eight minutes, which seemed like forever, I got up.

Putting his collar on him, I just happened to look at the sofa where I had tried to rest.  I saw the pain.  I saw the fatigue.

I didn’t want to ever lie on that sofa again.  I hurt when I lie down.  For a moment, the difference between the way I felt standing and the way I had felt lying down was somewhat mentally shocking.

I feel some better when I get up, but it isn’t long before I’m completely exhausted and must lie down again.

My dogs continue to be good for my health.  They keep me from never getting off that sofa.  They need me and I need them.

They took me outside after the rain stopped tonight.  I needed a short little walk and some fresh air.  They always know this.

Thanks for visiting Dogkisses’s blog.

Image via drburtoni’s photostream, Flickr.

Pain, Fatigue and Dogs

dogs know how to fight fatigue, just look...

Sometimes I think I forget or am in denial of having Chronic Fatigue Syndrome and Fibromyalgia.  I go and go and go and then I crash.  I try to keep a balance, but some days life demands things and I do more than I should.  That’s the way it’s been lately.

I have a pretty bad infected foot, which I thought was fibromyalgia pain, until I pulled my little toe away to look.  I saw what was NOT fibromyalgia.

A month or so ago, I bought a pair of boots.  I wore them around the house, just for fun, and also to take the dogs out in the mornings.  My foot began hurting after several days.  I’ve had foot pain before after wearing a new pair of shoes, which is why I didn’t do any close inspections of my foot, especially beside my little toe.

Well, it sure didn’t look good so off to my doctor I went.  He gave me antibiotics and cream, made a joke about me wearing boots around the house asking if I thought someone was going to come by with a camera and did I want to be ready.  Very funny while my foot was swollen and infected, but I’m used to him.  I like him.  I don’t like that sometimes I think he lets things go, like my foot!

It only got worse.  A round of antibiotics started to help and here’s where I went wrong, I guess.  I missed a few doses.  Now, I have a hole in my foot.  I went back to the doctor.

“Do you think I need some more antibiotics?” I asked him.

“No,” he responded confidently.  I would like to send you to a podiatrist with your permission.”

Well, duh.

So, off I went to the fancy foot doctor who didn’t have any manners at all.  I don’t know where he’s from, but I bet it ain’t North Carolina.

I told him how I had thought it was fibromyalgia for the first several days of pain.  Maybe that’s why he had a dismissive attitude towards me, but then I am so tired of trying to figure out why people who act weird act that way.

He kept saying what I hadn’t done or what I was doing wrong.

He sent me to the x-ray room where they took several images of my foot.  Fortunately, those looked good.

“How long have you not been taking antibiotics?” he asked when I returned.

“Since I finished the ones my doctor gave me,” I told him.

“You do know you have a hole in your foot don’t you?”

I told him that I most certainly did.

“I’ve been to the doctor twice already.  I would have gone to the emergency room if I hadn’t known I was coming here.”

“You’re wearing closed shoes first of all,” he said in a tone that I didn’t like.

It was cold outside.  My family doctor had complimented my shoes.  Why had he not put me on another antibiotic I wondered.

The foot doctor explained how serious the infection is because of where it is and I’m too tired to describe it, but I took heed!  It can go up and into my leg if it gets worse.  He says if I do everything he told me to do then it should be getting well within a week.

So far so good.  Ten days of a very strong antibiotic.

I’d told my family doctor how my son said I was going to lose my foot and later, my leg when he saw it getting worse.  The doctor joked again saying not to let him get near any knives.  From what the foot doctor said, my son wasn’t far off from being right.

The good news is that hopefully, the antibiotics, along with soaking it in vinegar water will heal it.  The soaks hurt like crazy.

I dislike antibiotics very much and this one is kicking me down like a sick dog.

Tiny love hereSpeaking of dogs, mine are once again being very good nurses.

Yesterday, when I finally returned from the hospital, I lied down and put my foot up.  I know they felt how stressed I was.

Our big guy, Tiny, (the cutie with the big head) whom I’m going to write about soon, well, he crawled up beside me on the sofa and lied down on barely enough space for his wide body and put his head on my belly.  That’s what he’s been doing for the past few months whenever I don’t feel good.  He lies there looking at me with his big beautiful hound dog eyes.  Yesterday, just for extras, he gave me a kiss.  He doesn’t give many.  I felt very special indeed.

My pretty little girl curled up at my feet in her soft ball of silky fur.  She is absolutely the softest dog I’ve ever petted in my life.  Absolutely!

Dogs Rule!!!

They were incredibly sweet with both of their heads resting on me and their eyes saying, “OH WE LOVE YOU!”

cooking for mom

I’m also grateful to my son for the many meals he has cooked for me lately. I’ve gained a few pounds, which is a very good thing.

However, he is staying with me and it is driving me a little nuts.  I’ll be glad when he wants to go back to his apartment.

Just the truth.

I’m going to give in to the fatigue for a little while, which means I’ll have to be alone.

I think I’ll finish a good novel I started weeks ago, The Accidental Tourist, by Anne Tyler.

I’m tired.  Too tired to think much.  I’ve been writing, but have nothing ready to click publish.

With that said, I’m offering a few links of interest I found today about pain.

I am here to tell anyone who suffers from pain each day, whose life is circumscribed and whose goals are slipping out of reach, that you are at last being heard. We are in a pain renaissance.”

Read more: “The End of Ouch” –TIME


–“an adaptive mechanism in which severe pain in one area of the body inhibits pain in another is impaired among women with fibromyalgia. Normally, this system works as a check on the amount of pain the brain can handle; if your arm is sore and someone steps hard on your toe, your arm will temporarily feel better as all of your brain’s pain attention is focused on the new insult. In chronic-pain patients, this mechanism is faulty or nonexistent.”

image of sleeping dog via OLX, Tiredness Disorders



we love mom
Thanks for visiting Dogkisses’s blog.


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”