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

Saturday, 16 May 2009

Saturday, 16 May 2009

Around mid-morning, there was sudden loud noise from a pneumatic drill and I looked outside to see a lorry from the water company and someone digging a hole right in the centre of the end of our driveway. Only a few moments before, there'd been a knock at our front door, which my mother had answered, therefore, when the noise started I went to ask her if she knew anything about it. She feigned (as I discovered later) a look of puzzlement and claimed to know nothing whatsoever.

So I made towards the front door, saying I would go outside to see what they were doing – as you would naturally do when someone is digging a hole right in front of your driveway and it isn't for you - and I believed my action was protecting her, “the householder” – and ask why they were doing it on a Saturday. 

Only then she begged me not to do anything - truly in panic - and admitted then that she knew it was for the next door neighbour. I still wanted to know what, why this needed to be done in our driveway and at the weekend with no prior warning. There was still the possibility that, even if she did know about it (contrary to her earlier claim), that she might have been coerced into agreeing to something that was not necessarily in her own interests through not understanding.

Before I went outside, logically, I retrieved my front door key. My mother looked at my hand with an expression of alarm, as if she thought I'd picked up a weapon or something. It was neither the look nor the reaction of a rational person.  

Once outside, at a volume appropriate to be heard over a pneumatic drill (I was later accused of shouting), I politely asked the workman what the work was, why there in our driveway and why on a Saturday - it did not appear to be as a result of an emergency necessitating urgent weekend work. The workman told me it was because the company has a backlog. To be honest, that was still unsatisfactory, given it’s a day when people should be able to rest. Then while I was simply asking who I should contact to discuss this further, out came the neighbour.

With breath smelling strongly of alcohol (note the time of day) and using a threatening manner, he proceeded to be verbally abusive to me, constantly using the word “fucking”, ordering me to "get inside now" or he'll call the police, pushing his face to within two inches of mine. He then tells me he believes that I am not ill and accused me of laying around doing nothing as if this is a crime. 

Unprovoked, out of nowhere and irrelevant to the events of the day.

Now clearly, he could not know that I “lay around” inside our house … unless my mother has been telling him that this is what she thinks I do. This would be when I'm laying down in agony and exhaustion, of course, but clearly she refuses to believe that I could ever lie down for any justifiable reason.

When this neighbour had called to the house a week or so previously, allegedly to read our gas / electric meters, I'd caught him peering into the window of my room. When I complained about this, my mother was adamant that he was only looking at the meter, but this could not have been the case, because the meter is below window height and his gaze was quite clearly straight ahead through the window, with his face virtually pressed up against the glass. He would have seen that I was lying down at that moment, but seeing me for one split second would surely not be enough for anyone to have drawn such conclusion? Indeed, logic suggests that he wouldn't have even thought to look in the window, unless someone, had told him a) which room I use and b) given him some reason to want to look. This alone makes me feel that my privacy has been abused and invaded. For this and various other reasons, I no longer open the curtains.

The wife then came out and, once again, added similar false assertions, cruelly dismissing my illness, even when told that I have a diagnosis – from a specialist, in writing and thus irrefutable - and then went off on some unintelligible tangent about how my parents must love and have wanted me because “they did not put me into care.” I asked her what care had to do with anything and she gave no clear answer, but walked away. Again, her opinions and judgements can only be based only on some twisted and false information my mother has fed her.

The neighbour also spouted some rubbish about “you always stand by your parents.” Er, what the feck does she think I'm doing here then, when I could - and clearly should - have told my mother where to get off with her crap years ago? Then she made a very serious false accusation: that since I've come back to the UK, I've been killing my mother. Mother claims she is “only just alive” and is portraying herself as the victim. This is common amongst abusers. 

The drunk from next door then said – still only about two inches from my face - that he did not care if I was a woman, if I didn't go indoors immediately (as if he thinks he has some right to bully me and dictate where I am permitted to go), he would … and then he threatened to punch me. Whilst I made great effort to remain calm and stand unmoved under this unprovoked attack, all three; the husband, the wife and my own mother all accused me of needing “mental help” - my mother was screaming this like a banshee - in front of the two workmen.

The husband then said he'd been told about things I have written about them. This is not true. I've written on my blog – necessarily to create a dated record that can be verified - about the day when I was verbally attacked, unjustifiably and slanderously, in front of another neighbour, in the middle of the street. I haven't named anyone in the report, so if this neighbour thinks it's about them, it can only be because they believe they're guilty. And I told him so. He shut up then.

Since what I wrote is true, my conscience would be clear even if had named them.

At one point, my mother had taken one of the workmen by the arm to tell him to “take no notice”. Bearing in mind that I'd merely enquired why this job needed to be done on a Saturday and, while doing so, a male neighbour, his wife and my mother (behaving like a mad woman): all three began verbally attacking and threatening me and bringing up personal matters of my health, my alleged laziness, accusing me of needing “mental help”, etc., which to this onlooker must have seemed unprovoked and out of nowhere, one wonders what he will have thought he should take no notice of? My mother's ham acting, putting her hands to her head, wailing and pretending to be the mentally injured party, perhaps?

Monday, 11 May 2009

Gut instincts

Too much info perhaps, but for the last few weeks I've alternated daily snacks of dried figs, prunes and apricots ... on top of veg, fresh fruit, bean or chickpea salads, green salads, oaty breakfast "roughage", etc., yet I've struggled to maintain "regularity" and been left, for want of a better term, feeling rather "full of shit."

Yes, I drink LOTS of water, the foods listed should help (I eat boringly healthy), I try to walk when I can ... and it's a situation I had under perfectly good regulation, thank you, in a country where I had better water, fresher fruit and veg straight off the (less chemically castigated) land, as well as decent weather so I could get out and was able to walk more regularly and, needed less painkillers.

It's been nowhere near as severe this week as while I was taking the amitriptyline that the GP prescribed last year, when more than once, after 10 or more days of being solidly blocked up, I'd get to the point where I could hardly lift myself off the bed, I was so bloated and sick. Since I stopped taking the amitriptyline, I've really had to battle to get back into a decent rhythm and I really don't ever want to get into that uncomfortable situation again, so on Monday or Tuesday, I took one of what are now packaged as "Constipation Relief Tablets". 

Now, is that the "politically correct" alternate wording to "laxative" - you know, why use one perfectly good direct word, when three slightly euphemistic ones will do? Or is it dumbing down, because no-one knows what a laxative does any more? If the latter, will the ignorant masses know, or even care, what constipation is? Or, heaven forbid, could it be "prohibited" to use the word laxative these days, just in case someone with an eating disorder is tempted to abuse them?

... anyway, it took until Sunday to see any effects at all.

Yes, really. Next time I'll try dynamite.

(NO, I won't and don't try that at home either!)

But, of course, when one suffers IBS (diagnosed in 1980), there are no moderate effects, no middle-ground nor happy mediums. The eventual result ... was so significant, anyone would be forgiven for thinking that I had used dynamite! And it also left me with a terrible bloating, an awful stomach ache and, I'll certainly qualify for the British Olympic Farting Team! Next time, I'll just drink more water and try to go for more walks, weather, pain and fatigue permitting.

I've also been conducting a one-woman trial (which is probably more impartial than some other studies carried out) over the last few weeks to see if I could discern any positive benefits from a daily dose of Yakult. We can safely say that in the area of "regulation of bowel habits and constipation" or of gut flora maintenance, I cannot report any benefits at all. Also a pilot study claims that, "Supplements of Lactobacillus casei strain Shirota may ease symptoms of anxiety in people with chronic fatigue syndrome (CFS), according to new research funded by Yakult." Big fat nope to that too. Overall, I think I'll save my money and avoid the massive sugar hit - which is never good for anyone's gut, surely?

Sunday, 10 May 2009

Sunday, 10 May 2009

Love this pair almost more than life itself.

Mother knows that the cats don't like her. They cower and even run away from their food if she's in the kitchen. What can I say? They're cats: they're not stupid and capable of assessing people for themselves, but of course she wilfully refuses to see why this is, or to alter her behaviour in any way to improve relations. 

Besides, you simply can't win cats over by constantly approaching them and talking loudly at them. You have to let them come to you. She won't and then, when they (understandably) shun her, she gets angry and huffy and makes it worse.

You also don't win cats, dogs, or for that matter, human beings either, by treating them as nuisances before they even start and by telling them off for every damn thing they do. Whatever these poor cats do is wrong, wherever they go is wrong and they are yelled at (even when they aren't doing anything wrong) instead of being shown, loved and encouraged when they do good things.

Suddenly realised that's exactly how she’s treated me as a child and all my life.

Most rooms are kept closed to them, because she's decided they'll cause destruction and mayhem – that's more likely if they're kept to a very confined space and not allowed to explore. If a door is temporarily left open and they merely go for a harmless sniff round, they're immediately meet with a loud, hostile and panicky reaction that – naturally – spooks them even more.

The clearest example is whenever mother hears the sound of a cat scratching. She doesn't think to check - just in case - that the cat is actually scratching where it should be scratching, in the litter box (the sound is different, but she cannot discern this), so she immediately screams (yes, screams), “Oy, oy, oy”.

Just what is that teaching the confused cats? The damage is done and she simply will not be told that this is wrong. To her fantasy logic, this telling off is justified and brushed off as unimportant, because at other times the cat is wrong.  

Today, she was rattling dishes she was taking out of the dishwasher, which she knows worries the cats and sends them running to hide. She also knew I was outside with both cats, because she'd watched me go out with them. She's seen this enough times that she knows they're already nervous enough about it. So she chose that very moment to do this job – at best, totally unthinking and a typical example of how, what she wants, she does, disregarding everything else.

Because of this, the cats got even more nervous. I've worked bloody hard – with calm and patience, love and encouragement - for 11 months, trying to get them to feel comfortable enough so that, at the very least, if they were outside and did not feel happy, their instinctive reaction should be to run INTO the house and not to bolt away from it, but we never seem to make real progress.

The eventual aim (though, truthfully, I give up on ever attaining it now) was to be able to let them go out so that they could get some exercise and play and be normal and, hopefully, happy cats. But every time they seem to be getting used to it, mother does something (thoughtless or deliberate?), which effectively wipes out all of the benefit of the months and months of hard work I've put in.

You're going to say it isn't deliberate, but I've been making that excuse for her for 52 years and it just doesn't stand up to the scrutiny of logic and reason. (And in typing that last exasperated sentence, I can hear my father talking.) 

So, instead of coming towards the house and happily coming in the door, Balu heard the noise and started backing up, trying to escape his harness. Because I had both cats, this was difficult to handle and I had to act quickly and decisively: I threw my voice so that I would be heard clearly – for the very good reason that my mother cannot hear her TV unless it's blaring (so loudly I can still hear it the other side of the house, through 2 closed doors and with headphones) and cannot hear things like the doorbell or the phone, unless they're next to her, etc.

But, of course, if I merely enunciate clearly, apparently, I'm shouting.

I'd had to get her to stop making the noise with the dishes for a moment to get the cats in – and I had to quickly impress upon her that it had to be immediate – which, without an assertive tone, she would have paid absolutely no attention to at all and would most likely (based on previous experience) have argued it unnecessary - specifying it was because I could not get the cats to come in and one was trying to pull out of his harness. She understands the implication.  

She damn well knew all of this without me saying a word.

But instead of quiet and swift (in)action, what I got back, was an argument and a bloody diatribe. I was snapped at and told not to shout. It was needed. Of course, she claimed she was right. She argued that she'd stopped making the noise, but, of course, she'd replaced it with the noise and stress of arguing instead.

I was lucky this time, as I managed to get both cats in without too much more upset, but this was the third time recently that she's done something similar that she knows will upset them; coming to the door just as we're approaching; coming out into the garden for no reason just as we're heading back, all three times when I have both cats out together, which she knows is harder than one.

Coincidences? Well, I have never believed in those. 

Ignorantly thoughtless or wilfully malicious? I'll let the jury decide.

Whatever it is, it means I can no longer risk taking the cats out when she's at home. And it is breaking my heart that they are stressed unnecessarily.

Sleep disturbances linked to increased suicide risk

Cat sleeping in the sun
You may be surprised that it's from "too much sun":
"Despite a belief that suicides tend to rise in late autumn and early winter months because of darkness, the new findings suggest that places where constant sunlight in summer seasons is a fact of life may be just as dangerous," says this report.
Actually, I can perfectly understand why, because as much as I hate winter when it seems to be always dark at this latitude, the fact that it gets light way too early in the morning at this time of year is waking both me and the cats up half way through the night. This is playing havoc with my sleep patterns - which were pretty disturbed in any case - and is contributing even more to making me feel constantly tired and strung out. Disturbed sleep, as we know, can contribute to the pain of fibromyalgia, increasing muscle stiffness, exacerbating fatigue, and heightening depression. And when that's 24/7, it really is only a short hop, skip and a jump to feeling so desperate you want to end it all. 

Another reason for those of us with these disorders to live closer to the equator where not only does the warmth help, but there are less notable differences between daylight hours in summer and winter.

Saturday, 9 May 2009

A bad week of symptoms

Last Sunday night / Monday morning, I'd still been awake at around 3.30 a.m., finally managed to doze off, but then woke again at 6 a.m., feeling like the proverbial death warmed up. Each day I've felt as bad, if not worse so I've tried my best to rest, hoping to recover enough to get something done. Now, at the end of the week, I still haven't managed to get over it, instead dropping ever further down into the pit of pain and exhaustion.

Really, I'd wanted to write something each day this week (because I'm supposed to be keeping a note of my symptoms), but I've honestly felt too ill to do so.

Today I woke up with extreme nausea and the very same pain in my back, in the region of my left kidney, that I'd had when all this started - when I was rushed to hospital as an emergency - way back in 1995. Every time I get stressed and tired, that same pain, nausea and terrible malaise and, along with it, incredible thirst and even more frequent peeing than usual, returns.

Most mornings this week I've woken up way too early, though fortunately, I've managed to get back to sleep again, but then I've woken late, with a headache.

And on top of the headache, as the week wore on, my symptoms have increased in number and/or intensity and include; flu-like all over aches, shivers and / or sweats, stiffness in my neck and shoulders, my biceps and triceps feel so weak and ache so much that at times I've hardly been able to lift my arms off the bed, carpal tunnel pain just won't go away - a couple of hours rest and I can just type for another 5 minutes but it hurts so much - my lower back aches (but then it has, constantly, since I was 16), the pain in my hip (from a fall in 2001) is excruciating to the point of tears, my thigh muscles are tight and feel like they've done a marathon at sprint pace, my knee joints hurt beyond anything I can put into words and have to be constantly "clicked" to relieve the pain; my calf muscles feel like they've been dancing day and night in stiletto heels; there's a pain down my shins I can hardly describe - a drawing down feeling accompanied by a bruised feeling like they've been beaten with a baseball bat - and that's so bad it makes me feel sick to my stomach; my feet hurt everywhere and whenever I stand up, I feel weak, exhausted, lightheaded, my eyes close involuntarily and I'm overcome with a feeling that I'm either going to faint or nod off to sleep while walking (just to the kitchen), I become short of breath, get chest pains and need to lie down again within only a minute or two.

On Thursday, I'd made it to go out - against my better judgement, partly because I had to go to the bank and partly because I'd been invited to an important meeting - but I'd had to sit in a chair for much longer than my body can cope with and got I colder than my body can stand, so the post-exertional relapse is worse than ever.

This afternoon, to attempt to clear my head and keep myself moving so I don't totally cease up, I walked (all of a couple of hundred yards) to the local corner shop. It's May and the sun was shining, but the wind was a bitter and biting cold. I can no longer walk fast enough to keep warm and it makes no damn difference how well I wrap up against it, so this cold just gets right into my bones and makes every ache and pain hurt even more. Not even half way there, I'd really had enough. By the time I got home, I was literally dragging one foot after another, hurting so much and so exhausted, I just want to cry.

It actually seems that every time I go out, the negative effect and the severity of the pain and symptoms I suffer afterwards keeps increasing. I'm trying to do what I can, particularly to get to support groups and things which should - theoretically - help me, but it's constantly a "one step forward, two steps back" scenario.

This week the pair of Reebok Freestyle that I ordered arrived, so my ankles were more supported and are not in quite as much pain as they have been on other recent outings I've had to make in shoes or sandals, however, despite taking buses and keeping my walking down to a minimum, these are not as good as the boots with thick rubber soles I used to be able to buy in Spain and the soles of my feet and heels feel bruised and beaten.

No matter how much I rest, it's is never enough and I never "get over it". Because I have no help, not enough public transport, etc., it's impossible to pace activities avoid the "all or nothing" approach that leads to these constant relapses and, no matter how much I want to keep doing a little, I am constantly able to do less, rather than being able to build it up to more. I just don't see a solution.