Chaos to Cosmos
The path from chaos to cosmos was discovered by telling one's life story

Saturday, 19 December 2009

Fibro Grinch Guide to Christmas

OK folks, what or whom first appeared in 1957, could well be described as "a bitter, cave-dwelling, catlike creature"; dunno about a heart "two sizes too small," but it doesn't seem to pump all that well; used to live in the hills around the snowy Mount Crumpit Teide and previously had for a companion, a very faithful dog?

On the other hand, I only feel green! Sick

So, while everyone is stressing out, running around to get last minute Christmas things organized, I thought I'd write down my "secrets" for surviving the annual seasonal onslaught, short of preventing Christmas from coming.

1. Ban Christmas Cards 

This started when I first went to live in Tenerife in 1992. Christmas cards were not a Spanish tradition, except for the long thin, wordless Christmas Money wallets, only suitable if you were giving a gift of cash. Couldn't buy ordinary Christmas cards then, so I didn't bother. 

Later on, I couldn't afford the postage and then writing them, going out to get stamps, etc., became too much of a exertion, so I didn't bother to get back into the habit again either.

Now, I've taken to calling Christmas cards "murdered trees," which is a point I'm labouring, partly to cover my own lack of enthusiasm for the whole thing. Actually, it does seem a bit pointless (I'm not sure whether that's a result of my atheism or depression) and dreadfully un-green and, given that most of the people I wish to send seasonal greetings to are online anyway.

2. Ban Christmas Shopping

Bah bloody humbug. No, seriously, it helps having a family of only one and two cats to buy for, but while I can, just, stagger to the shops, I simply can't stand long enough to wait in queues to pay for things, so it's a pointless exercise at this time of year that I have managed to avoid totally beyond buying a couple of "stocking fillers" in the pet shop and one pack of wrapping paper. Our local shops, it has to be said, don't offer a fat lot of choice in any case, so all my gifts were ordered from Ebay!

Apart from not being able to walk far or stand in queues, supermarkets are impossible, because I now need my reading glasses to see the products on the shelves, let alone their labels, but I can't walk around with them on. All the stopping and starting just results in dizziness and terrible nausea. I also can't carry more than a small backpack's worth of shopping (only on my back and not in my hands), so except for just a handful of items I picked up myself, all the Christmas groceries were either delivered.

3. Ban Christmas Cooking

All cooking is a pain in the arse these days. My wrists won't let me chop things (both through pain and lack of power), my legs / dizzy spells won't let me stand to prepare / stir / supervise anything and my foggy head can't cope with recipes containing any more than 3-4 ingredients.

Thus, we're having (there's only two of us) a breast of "non-abused" turkey from the local butcher, wrapped around ready-made stuffing, with ready-prepared parsnips and ready-peeled sprouts, before a bought pudding (all of these had their ingredients carefully scrutinized to mitigate my various food intolerances.) Mother will be conscripted to peel real spuds for roasting.

4. Ban Christmas Treats

Well, except for the one bottle of Spanish Cava which is the least likely alcohol to cause me any trouble. However, sweet treats have been restricted to healthy fruits like Satsumas, dates and nuts, plus some organic mincemeat and a ginger cake that both promise unrefined sugar.

And sticking to this, even at Christmas, I reckon entitles me to a Sainthood!

5. Ban Christmas Decorations

Actually, I "splashed out" a whole pound on a spice smelling candle for "seasonal ambiance," which is 100% more than I did last year. There's a bloke round the corner who has done a whole "Clark Griswold job" on his house with lights (remember National Lampoon's Christmas Vacation), albeit for charity, so I reckon that's enough drain on the National Grid for one area. I don't feel the least Christmassy and I'm sure some tacky crap isn't going to change it.

Christmases past were very special. I have only hope for better Christmases future. Of course, a lot of this is "downsizing" Christmas celebrations to what I can manage to deal with, with my fibromyalgia and ME, but do you think Scrooge / The Grinch would be proud of me?

Thursday, 17 December 2009

Why does IBS have to be so fickle?

IBS, with which I was diagnosed in 1980 and again in 1986, often comes as part of the whole fibromyalgia / me/cfs package and, these buggers are all as unpredictable, unexplainable and illogical as each other. Take this morning: I knew I wanted to go, but made several trips under false pretences before I was able to achieve any success.

Or, as my old granny used to say:

"Here I sit, broken hearted, paid my penny and only farted."

Meanwhile, a painful tightness was gripping me across the middle of my shoulder blades (funny place for bowel fullness to manifest - I suspect it's more a symptom of toxic overload from, er, not having unloaded my toxins), the customary pain in the small of my back had reached screaming pitch, a headache was building and, overall I felt dreadfully nauseous and unwell.

I hadn't been yesterday either (which is nothing unusual), so I'd added prunes and kiwi fruit for my pudding at lunch - on top of my religiously fibre-filled wholefood menu and psyllium husk supplement regime which is what it takes to blast my sluggish digestive system into action. And yet, when I did go finally today, it was akin to a Versuvial eruption that I thought would never end and made me feel weak and unwell in the process. Now I have a stomach ache!

Why can't I get back to the regular routine I had in Tenerife where I ate a fairly normal vegetarian diet, took no supplements, yet went, regular as clockwork, with normal emissions, once a day, usually just after the 2nd cup of coffee?

Friday, 11 December 2009

Lack of access to mental health counselling services

Just to give you an idea of how hard it is to get any help ... Earlier on in the year, I started seeing a counsellor, arranged at and via the local Citizens Advice Bureau. The sessions were useful, so I was disappointed when they ended, supposedly because the counsellor had an accident and broke his leg whilst on holiday.

The Citizens Advice Bureau told me to phone them back in a few weeks to see if there was any news. I left it for around 6-8 weeks and did so. At that time, they told me that the guy's leg might not actually be broken, but that they still didn't have any news, could I phone back in another couple of weeks ... 

Thus, I waited again, phoned back again and was told by the person on the phone that time that they thought it was the counsellor's wife who had had the accident. Fishy? They still couldn't give me any news though. 

They suggested - guess what? - yup, ring back at a later date!

So, again I left it for a while, figuring that if the first guy had merely decided not to continue donating his time (his prerogative), as he did have other "clients" he saw at the CAB office, maybe by now they might have a new arrangement. 

And so today, I phoned the CAB again in hopes of asking the question. When I explained that I had seen the counsellor through them earlier in the year, but that it had ended due to some sort of accident the counsellor had and that I'd been told to phone again ... I was snottily told that they could not discuss this issue over the phone, I would have to go to the office in person. It isn't like I want to discuss anything sensitive or personal on the phone, just get an appointment.

Going to their offices means another trip into town - that causes me to crash severely and spend the next week in bed. I'd reluctantly consider doing that to gain the benefits from the actual session, but I draw the line at such an off-chance visit. I only want to know if they have someone who offers a service I was already getting and, if so, to make a new appointment. Surely, this can be done - as they told me to - over the phone. You can guarantee they will have a huge queue - bearing in mind that I can't stand and even sitting causes me a lot of pain.

Why do I need to go to the CAB for this anyway? Because this service was offered free through the CAB. The NHS, it seems, can't or won't offer counselling at all - I've asked my GP for this kind of help twice, but getting a prescription for fluoxetine is as much as I've got - and I can't afford to pay to go privately.

I explained that going to the office was difficult. Actually, that it would cause me great difficulty because I am quite severely disabled - so I reckon their refusal would be tantamount to abelism and fails to make reasonable adjustments for disability - if it wasn't already unreasonable to refuse to make appointments over the phone for anyone! Their only suggestion was that I go in the afternoon, as they are less busy then. That hardly helps. It makes this a completely impossible proposition and leaves me unable to access their 'help' at all.