Stretching

Dear Fibro,

Living with you is a process of stretching — stretching my body as well as my mind and emotions. It is a stretching of the expectations about what my life will look like. Each morning and evening, I spend time stretching my body. Every moment, I am stretched.

Sliding out of bed, slowly, feeling like a young woman in an old woman’s body, I put on my “stretching songs” playlist and lift my arms to the sky. I sway and bend in a variety of positions designed to help my body remember how it should function. My body never feels “right” or “loose,” and usually the stretching doesn’t help much because most of my pain is unrelated.

I’m still able to do a lot physically, even if it is painful, and I know a lot of people with a Fibro diagnosis can no longer do much — I still work full time and get my lawn mowed (usually) and keep up with my garden (for the most part), but I am being challenged to accept a picture of life that doesn’t feel comfortable. It feels limited. The number of sighs I can sigh seems unlimited. The number of gasps of pain.

Fibro, I’m wondering if you will ever help me to see what all of this is achieving. Is it something? Will there be a poetic ribbon tied onto the end of this story of simple, daily, sometimes-seemingly-useless rituals? I stretch, but I still don’t know.

~Nicole

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In the Garden With You

Dear Fibro,

Tonight, we gardened. It was a nice night — slightly humid as though rain was gathering up in the clouds. We were surrounded by the echo of children’s voices playing in a neighbor’s yard. I dug holes in the dirt, and you protested when I bent over to lift large clumps of the earth into my garden-gloved hands.

I moved some flowers that seemed to not be in the happiest place they could be, and I planted some new ones–two shocking fuchsia dahlias that will add a splash to the mix I’m mixing. It seems like every week I find a new plant to add — last week it was two beautiful lilies that remind me of my great-Grandmothers. Every time I see them now, I am reminded of my roots that go deep into the earth of Pennsylvania via Germany and Maine via Quebec and France and . . . beyond.

Oh, Fibro–I’m surprised by how easily I push you to the side when I’m in the garden, even if you’re nagging at me, causing me pain or just discouraging me from trying, from leaning in and breathing deeply. There’s something about that place, of breathing in the sharp smells of late spring earth, that transcends your boundaries for a while. I may have aches and pains tomorrow from the work, but they will be worth it. I am thankful for this patch of ground that I call home and thankful for the time, treasure and ability to cultivate and care for it.

This is our home, Fibro. We are living here together. That is why I want to make it the best that it can be. Maybe you’d be willing to lend a hand?

-Nicole

Mowing the Lawn with You

Dear Fibro,

As you know, you’re flaring up right now. You’re in what seems like a jittery fit of temper because I tried to mow the lawn, which might have gone alright (we usually survive it together, don’t we?) except that tonight, the mower ran out of gas, and then I flooded it accidentally when trying to refill it, and then I was wrestling trying to start it again and then being the crazy neighbor trying to at least quickly weed wack the tallest weeds in my lawn when I realized the mower wasn’t going to come around . . . I’m sure I must have looked silly.

I would have just waited except that the next couple of days are busy & then I’ll be away for the weekend, but my-oh-my . . . you didn’t like any of that, did you? Now my arms are shaky, and aching deeply in your trigger areas, and I’ve broken out an ice pack to help calm the nerves that seem to be freaking out.

At one point, toward the end of our mower adventure, you shot a jolt of pain through my arm that almost brought me to tears. Part of me thought I should stop, but I’m also trying to stand up for myself, for my sense of desire to still be able to “manage” things without your interference. I’m still trying to learn where the line is . . . and still trying to come to grips with the fact that sometimes it’s just not going to be where I want it to be.

– Nicole