It’s Friday, December 28?! You’re kidding! No? Oh, I just love those fibromyalgia flares that result in missing the holidays.
To think, I started out feeling pretty good, too. It makes it all the more frustrating! Where to begin? I guess I’ll go back to Monday – Christmas Eve Day.
Our shopping was all done weeks ago and the gifts that had to be shipped were gone in plenty of time. I had the week before Christmas to relax and focus on the true meaning of Christmas. Then we arrived at Monday, December 24.
Dad started his second round of chemo that day. My husband took the day off from work to drive his parents into the hospital and I went with him to pick them up, lured by the temptation of breakfast at the “5 & Diner” on the way home. Breakfast was good, but the bacon didn’t agree with me and caused some gastric repercussions. Someday I’ll learn bacon is not a good breakfast item for me.
After breakfast, we went home to get things ready for Christmas Eve at Mom & Dad’s house. We always bring the appetizer – shrimp cocktail for the group. So when we got home, my husband set about shelling and trimming the shrimp while I did odd tasks, like finding bags to carry our gifts in and making sure I had my vestments for the Christmas Eve service. Still felt good.
About 1:15 pm, Mom & Dad called to say they were done (slightly early – I think the nurse wanted to get home today ASAP too). We were all set, so we went back to the city to pick them up and take them home. We took everything in , then sat around talking until the rest of the guests arrived. That’s when the fibromyalgia started to interfere with my fun. Although my husband always gets me a straight-backed, dining room chair, sitting for the better part of 4 hours is not a good thing with my FMS. My back started to complain – the upper back between the shoulder blades that is usually an omen of evil things to come. I tried to get up and stretch from time to time. But it’s difficult to do that in the middle of eating or opening gifts. Still, by the time we left to go over to the church, I wasn’t doing too badly.
The church service was kind of sad. Since they instituted a 6 pm “Family Mass” a number of years back, the number of folks attending the 10:30 pm (Midnight Mass) service has continued to fall. I think there were a dozen of us this year, trying to sing carols and be festive. I wonder if the service will continue much longer. We can’t go to the early service because we’re at the in-laws and the Christmas Day service is no longer well attended, either. I guess it shouldn’t surprise me that the convenience of an early service not actually on Christmas Day trumps the point of worshiping God on the actual holiday. Whatever makes it easier to open those gifts and make that dinner.
By the end of the service, my back was really beginning to serve notice of a flare-up in the making. I was starting to get the headache to go with the back pain and overall aches. I tried to be smart about it. When I got home, I took not only my sleep medication, but half a muscle relaxant and 800 mg of Motrin. I thought I slept well – and maybe I did. I slept right through someone bringing in a bus to run me over while I slept. No, not literally!! But it sure felt like it. I had so much pain, especially the right side of my back and neck. I had a nasty headache that went over the top of my head and my eyes were burning like crazy, from dryness I think.
I took some pain meds and went back to bed. We had to be at my sister’s house for dinner by 1 pm. It’s only 5 minutes away, but I hate to show up at the last minute. I found something I could wear without a bra (bra straps weigh heavy on the shoulders and make the pain worse). We left about 12:15 pm and arrived to the chaos shortly thereafter.
In addition to my parents and my sister and her husband (total:4), there was my daughter (total now 5). Also staying for a few days unexpectedly and self-invited, were my sister’s husband’s sister with her husband and two sons (aged 5 & 6; total now:9). When we arrived with my son, we made a total of 12 people. We’ve only met my sister’s in-laws a couple of times, so there was plenty to talk about – NOT!! My brother-in-law insists on having the TV on at all times (CNN), so that was our background “music.” My brother-in-law’s sister proclaimed that she would rather live in “her own country than this one,” so he asked her which one that was – Syria (where she was born), Lebanon (where she had lived) or Sweden (where the rest of their family lived). To everyone’s relief, she indicated Sweden. At least that was a “civilized” country where even my mother has cousins.
The kids tried to be good but they were bored out of their little minds. Their parents didn’t think to bring them anything to amuse them while the adults talked. So they did run around a bit and do some jumping upstairs, in my sister’s bedroom. Their dad spilled a beer on the leather couch and rug. Then later he sloshed his coffee onto the arm of the other sofa. My sister was not amused. I went into the kitchen to get some water and my brother-in-law (the cook in that home) decided to show me the “stuffing” he’d made to go with the incredible prime rib of beef he was cooking. He pulled it out of the oven for me to smell it (yummy) and tried to put it back in. Alas, it was in a foil roasting pan which buckled under the weight of its delicious contents, spilling stuffing across the kitchen floor. My sister was not calm. I tried not to laugh. He had just been trying to show off his culinary efforts at something I really like. The mess got cleaned up promptly but my sister’s mood was not very festive.
We somehow managed to make it through dinner. My husband was kind enough to help clear off the table. My head was starting to really hurt and the folding chair (which was better than the low, mushy sofa) was not doing my back any favors. I took some more medicine. We opened gifts – the gifts we weren’t supposed to get because we had agreed not to exchange gifts amongst the adults. We followed the rules, so folks didn’t get anything from us. But my parents, who can’t afford to spend anything, didn’t follow the rules. I knew that would happen. I didn’t mind getting a basket of my sister’s homemade cookies. That was reasonable. But my mother didn’t have to buy us a set of mugs with cocoa mix that we don’t need.
By 4 pm the noise level was really beginning to rise. By 5 pm my brain and body couldn’t take it anymore and we said our good-byes. By the time I got home and settled, my eyes hurt, my head hurt, my back hurt, I couldn’t think clearly and just wanted to sleep. Too early. I did get to bed earlier than usual, though, after taking more pain medication.
I spent Wednesday, the day after Christmas, in a total pain and drug induced fog. I couldn’t concentrate on anything. You certainly didn’t want me to try to write. My eyes wouldn’t focus on much of anything. There was no comfortable chair, bed or other space. I paced the house, trying one thing after another to relieve the pain, especially the headache which was edging toward “world class” ratings. Needless to say, the day is really a foggy blur. Good thing I wasn’t needed for chemo duty.
Thursday, my husband took a half day from work. He picked his parents up after chemo and took them home. I stayed home, still trying to manage the pain and headache. About 1:30 pm, my step-son arrived with Christmas gifts and we had a little visit with him. I tried to be warm and welcoming. I’m afraid I was more foggy and befuddled. After an hour, my husband left with his son to go visit with his parents. Then the two of them were going to a hockey game in Lowell. My son got ready for work and left about 3:30 pm. I had the house to myself!!
What did I do with a nice, quiet house? Had something to eat with some more pain medicine, tried to amuse myself with little success and took a nap on the couch, of all places. Apparently all that helped. By 6 pm, I was beginning to feel a little better. Better, of course, is a relative term.
I woke up today feeling less pain but also feeling totally drained. The medications really take a toll on my energy. I’ve tried to write to get myself caught up with my week, but I don’t know how successful I’ve been. It’s 9:45 am here right now and time for a nap. I can’t keep my eyes open.
I hope the afternoon brings more energy and alertness!