18 September, 2007

It *IS* That Serious: Notes on a Fibro Attack

Note: This is my first post since one of my dogs, Frank, died last week, so if I seem less articulate (or possibly angrier) than usual, that is why. RIP, Frank.

Right now, I am weighing the pros and cons of a.) going back to bed; or, b.) attempting to take a bath, which may make me more exhausted than I already am, though it may also bring a few minutes of relief from physical pain.

Most people do not have to make this sort of choice. Some, when confronted with the fact that a friend, or acquaintance, or relative has an "invisible" disease or disability, may think or say something to the effect of, "Oh, it can't be *that* serious. All she/he has to do is get out of bed/think positively/lose weight/stop consuming dairy products/et cetera." To someone who has never experienced having a chronic health condition, it sometimes doesn't look that bad. The average person may think, Well, if I had that, I would do x, y and z differently, and then I would get better. Why Jane or John isn't doing x, y or z is beyond me! The average person may think they know the key to "getting better."

What I am about to say is harsh, but, as noted scholar Robert Jensen says, the truth can be very painful.

If you think you know how to "beat" chronic illness and you do not have a chronic illness or medical training in the field, you do not know shit.

I had great plans for today. I was planning to wake up early, take my little Yorkshire Terrier for a nice long walk so that he could spread individual droplets of pee on as many trees as possible, and then I would spend the rest of the day writing, but only one of those things happened. I took Winston on an abridged walk and then returned to my apartment, exhausted.

I then slept for most of the day. This was not what I had planned. I was feeling bad yesterday--fatigue and back spasms--so I had a bit of warning, but I was completely unprepared for the backache-that-somehow-got-worse-and-turned-into-a-sinus-headache extravaganza. Some of the time, I have "warning" signs that come before an attack: intense joint and muscle pain, fatigue that affects nearly everything I do, pain in odd places such as my temples, foot arches, or heels. Some of the time, I do not have these signs and, as a result, am promptly knocked upon my startled ass for yet another round.

So today, here is where I am: I cannot finish anything--be it a cartoon drawing about having an attack, lunch, or making an iTunes playlist. Indeed, writing this post has taken over an hour and a half (I can usually crank one out in less than 45 minutes). My head feels like it's been stuffed with that material used to make copper dish-scrubbing sponges, and Sudafed has yet to make a pill with codeine in it, so I'm stuck. My feet are both sore and restless, and I don't know whether I should soak them to get rid of the first symptom, or dance around like a maniac to get rid of the second.

To employ additional metaphor at this point in order to describe the fatigue, hand, arm and back pain would be a good strategy, but how does one describe incredible pain?

I suppose, then, that it would be best to draw a comparison by invoking one of the great classics of modern film, and that film is Stanley Kubrick's 2001: A Space Odyssey. The final twenty or so minutes of that film are what I think of whenever I say the words "Fibro attack." In the film, the astronaut, Bowman, travels across time and space, where, finally, he witnesses his own process of aging and eventual death. Though the final frames of the film (where he is reborn) seem full of hope, there are certain words that come to my mind when I think of this sequence. Alienation. Loneliness. Bowman is literally trapped--he must go through the process of wandering time and space alone, until he witnesses his own pain and decay. Someone who has a chronic illness must go through something similar; while we may not transcend the boundaries and rules of space and time, illness is a solitary thing. Unless you have a parasitic twin attached, it is unlikely that anyone will be able to intimately know what your experience is like--both in the physical and emotional sense.

That is precisely what can be so frustrating about illness: it is solitary, it is painful, and there is no polite way to explain to well-meaning, non-ill people that it really can be that serious.

11 September, 2007

The Dreaded Co-Mingling of LJ and This Blog


And if you feel the need to apologize for your not-that-clever post title in order to save your own ass, chances are that you perhaps shouldn't title your post "Listen up lardbutts" (sic).

I thought part of the purpose of higher education was to help people develop critical thinking skills so that they could, in addition to other things, question their own assumptions [including all those assumptions about fat people!], but maybe not. Also: Fat March is not exactly representative of the health state of, like, every single fat person in America [and yes, I have watched the show].

The afforementioned post demonstrates exactly why I agree with Kate Harding when she points out that "shaming teh fatties for being “unhealthy” doesn’t fucking help" [source]. That is what this person, though they may have good intentions, is doing in the afforementioned Livejournal post.

Don't Forget: We Still Haven't Found Osama!

Here is a list of 9/11-related things that I would prefer to never see again:

--People insisting that 9/11 affected all Americans "equally"
--Miniature American flags being waved by "patriotic" Americans
--Right-wingers politicizing 9/11, while accusing the left of doing the same
--Any speech that contains the phrase, "September 11th was a day that united us all as Americans..."
--George W. Bush grandstanding and pulling yet another rationale out of his ass for why we need to remain in Iraq
--Loose Change or whatever that damn conspiracy theory documentary was called
--9/11-related t-shirts, commemorative plates, or tattoos. Because wearing a "patriotic reminder" of a national tragedy and/or displaying such a thing in your home or on your skin is fucking tacky, especially if you're from some podunk town somewhere and did not lose a friend or family member on 9/11, and is pretty insulting to, y'know, people who actually lost someone or were actually there.