“Pain is never permanent.” ~ St. Teresa of Avila

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St. Teresa of Avila by John Singer Sargent

 “Give me life, give me pain, give me myself again” ~ Tori Amos

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Ecstasy of St. Teresa of Avila by Gian Lorenzo Bernini

Just a short post tonight, short for me that is. I had an appointment with my pain management doctor today. During these appointments, I usually get trigger shots in the parts of my back that are knotted. I’ve mentioned these trigger shots before.

Now, my tolerance for pain is actually quite high, which is how I continued to work for four years before having back surgery to try to remedy the problem. Of course, the surgery did not remedy the problem. No, it exacerbated it, but that’s another story, one that I have already told.

Moving right along . . . So these trigger shots do not usually bother me. I have had up to 12 in one day, and the shots themselves have only, on occasion, caused me a bit of pain.

May I just say that today was a first as far as the pain level? When the doctor came in, I greeted him by telling him my story of how I fell down the stairs and landed on the cement floor with my foot turned under me. I told him that I thought that the shape that my back was currently in was probably attributable somewhat to the fall.

I ended up having 10 shots in total. Each and every one felt as if he were sticking the needle into a solid mass in my back, neck, shoulders, and even derrière. Probably too much information there, but you need to appreciate how much of my body was involved in this situation. By the time he was finished, my jaw hurt from clenching.

Now some of you may think that I am exaggerating here, that  no one gets that many trigger shots in one visit. Trust me, I did, and I have. It’s just that this time my back was so tight (this after taking muscle relaxers before going to my doctor), that it rebelled against the insertion of these tiny needles.

“The two enemies of human happiness are pain and boredom.” ~ Arthur Shopenhauer 

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St. Teresa of Avila as a Young Woman (detail) by François Gerard

So anyway, I’m supposed to go home and put heat on my back after these shots. Did I? Of course not. Don’t be silly. While I was out, I wanted to get some things done, like getting the nose piece put back on my glasses. Afterwards, I was amazed by how well I could see again. Without the nose piece, my glasses were not fitting my face correctly, and I was looking through the wrong part. This may account for my trying to work on the computer without my glasses. The big screen helps, but I’m pretty sure that I was squinting at times (which may have contributed to my recent stress headaches).

Then, while I had Corey in the mood to go places (ha), we went to Bed, Bath & Beyond (Beyond what, exactly? The horizon? The budget? Reality?). I had a 20 percent off coupon that was burning a hole in my wallet, and I had seen a tablecloth that was on sale. Need I say more?

Suffice it to say that we made the entire circuit of the store; however, we did not spend a great deal of money. We got the tablecloth, which I want to put on the dining room table to protect it from the people in my family who fail to use coasters with sweating glasses. I know that if I walk in and see glass rings on my new dining room table, I will blow a gasket or have heart failure, so in an effort to avoid that, I thought that a nice, inexpensive tablecloth would be the perfect solution.

While we were there, I had to look at everything though; otherwise, how would I be able to enjoy the whole Beyond experience? I found a very reasonably priced black canvas basket to put my books in, that is, the books that I have not yet read.  Corey’s response was incredulity: “Another basket? Don’t you already have a book basket?” I replied that yes, I do have a basket, but it does not have corners as it is an oval basket. Consequently, my books are being mistreated by having to adapt to a curved surface. We bought the basket.

Then I remembered that I still don’t have a picture insert for my wallet. All of my family pictures (except my beloved picture of Caitlin and me) were taken with my wallet, and I’m sure, immediately tossed (Why would a thief want pictures of my family?). I like to have pictures of all of my honeys with me just in case someone I haven’t seen in a while says, “Do you have any pictures?” If I have to answer in the negative, I give the impression that I don’t really care about my family, including the dogs, so I really needed the photo insert. Which resulted in a trip to Dollar Tree, where everything is one dollar (such a deal)!

We were supposed to run in and out as it was getting late, and Corey hadn’t cooked dinner yet. But then I saw the silk flowers, and since tomorrow is Caitlin’s birthday, I realized that I needed to make a new arrangement for the urn at the cemetery. And then there was all of that Easter stuff, and I wanted to make a basket for Alexis. Yes, I realize that she is a grown woman. So? She still gets a kick out of Easter baskets just as I do. I found a very nice square, pink cloth basket that she can use for accessories afterwards.

As a result, the in-and-out trip to Dollar Tree turned into another half an hour before we made it home, which is why I am posting so late. We arrived home four hours after I got my shots. Imagine how my back feels . . .

I have my regular doctor’s follow-up appointment tomorrow morning at 11 at which time I will find out the results of my lab work. I’m not at all sure that I want to know. I’ll just hope for the best.

“Our souls may lose their peace and even disturb other people’s, if we are always criticizing trivial actions . . .” ~ St. Teresa of Avila 

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Light Upon St. Teresa of Vila by Chris Steele

So I’ll just end of this note for now: Teresa of Avila may have been a saint, but I don’t agree with her assessment of pain, and I’m not sure that given the circumstances of her life, she should agree with her assessment. After all, during her illnesses she experienced religious ecstasy, which led some to accuse her of being one with the devil. As a result, Avila was a proponent of self-flagellation. Avila’s most well-known quote is  “Lord, either let me suffer or let me die.”

I know. I know. I’m horrible for making fun of a saint. But I’m not making fun of Saint Teresa. I’m merely contesting the validity of her quote. So before anyone gets torqued out of shape at how disrespectful I’m being of a revered saint, just remember, I’m irreverent about everything. I’m an equal opportunity cynic.

Now that I’ve cleared that up . . .

Lyrics from Joan Osborne’s St. Teresa

Oh, St. Teresa, higher than the moon

You called up in the sky
You called up in the clouds
Is there something you forgot to tell me…
tell me, tell me, tell me, tell me, tell me

Show me my Teresa, feel it rise in me
Every stone a story, like a rosary

We all have our quirks and beliefs, but I draw the line at mortification of the flesh. But then again, I’m not a saint.

And yes, I know. This post wasn’t any shorter. I’m a blonger; what can I say?

As usual, more later. Peace.

Infallible, Untouchable, and Immortal?

Why You Might Be Surprised on My Feelings About Drug Use

I know that I have mentioned my use of prescription drugs more than once in some of my entries, and I have admitted to inhaling as I was no angel in my younger days. I liked to get high, and for about a year of my teen years, I did it quite frequently, but then I decided that that was probably enough playing around, and I got my act together, stopped getting high all of the time, stopped skipping school, and still managed to graduate with honors, and that’s something of which I’m proud, especially since I know that if I hadn’t had a lost year, I could have probably ranked higher (absolutely no pun intended) on the list in my graduating class.

As to prescription drugs, yes, I have a dependency on muscle relaxers. I wish that I didn’t. I don’t take pain pills unless I absolutely have to, but I cannot get through the day without muscle relaxers. My back, shoulders and legs simply will not allow it. I have spasms that are so bad sometimes that I feel as if the side of my back has moved into my shoulder. I get knots in my shoulders that are the size of walnuts, and they have to be massaged out, or I have to get trigger shots to release them.

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"The Scream" by Edvard Munch

I also take preventive medication for my migraines, which I feel is a miracle drug. Before I started on the preventive regimen, I used to have migraines that lasted for weeks. Now, a bad one might last for days. I once had a migraine that was so bad that I could only eat jello, and I lost 12 pounds. I looked mah-velous, but what good is that when you feel as if you can only live in a bat cave?

And then there are the anti-depressants. These are a way of life for me. On occasion, I have convinced myself that I am all better, and I have thrown them away. For a while, I feel great. Life is great. The air is great. Everything is great. The birds are singing. La la la la la. And then comes the crash, which isn’t great. People who are clinically depressed do not enjoy being that way, believe me.

People who have never had any kind of clinical mental illness simply cannot understand it. They believe that you can snap out of it. Or will yourself to be better. Or pray yourself out of it. Or take vitamins. Or (and I love this one, my mother used to say it to me), think happy thoughts. Okay. Sure. That works for a while, for some people. But for those of us who are truly, clinically diagnosed, you may as well be chewing sweet tarts for all of the good that it will do you.

The advances that they have made in psycho-pharmacology are really incredible. I mean, I remember when everyone was handed Prozac, and it was declared a wonder pill, capable of curing everyone’s ills. Well, I’m here to tell you that it didn’t cure mine; it made me worse. It took trial and error and time to find the right medicine for me. But now, pharmacology has advanced so far so fast, and even though it’s still trial and error in getting to the right medicine for an individual’s body, there are so many more roads to try so that your medicine doesn’t end up turning you into a zombie.

No one should ever feel ashamed to need medicine for being depressed or anxious, and any sect of society that still imposes that kind of stigma is living in the dark ages. Many of these conditions run in families; some are caused by hormones, others by traumatic events that have occurred in life. Some last a lifetime; others just months. With the right medication, some people who are diagnosed with a mental illness can continue to function in society without major issues and without having to announce to the world that an issue exists, because after all, it isn’t really the world’s business. Is it?

But the kinds of drugs that I’m talking about having a problem with don’t come with a prescription. I’m talking about pot and cocaine and meth, or prescription drugs that belong to someone else that are being used for something other than that for which they are prescribed. That kind of drug use bothers me and is weighing heavily on my mind right now.toking

Let me clarify. You’re probably thinking that I’m being a hypocrite about pot because I just admitted that I smoked in high school, and I didn’t turn out horribly, and everything seems to be fine. However, I’m talking about excessive pot use, as in getting high every day, sometimes, a couple of times a day. I smoked pot once or twice a week, maybe. I still went to school, turned in my assignments, took care of my chores, you know, basic things.

What I’m seeing is getting high on pot, and then abusing prescription drugs, too. The result is a crappy personality, full of smart ass retorts, no respect, and manipulative behavior. An incredibly narcissistic person whose dysfunction is being exacerbated by the drug and alcohol abuse. And I cannot even believe that I am writing about this because it violates his privacy. But how about how he has violated my soul, my essence?

Am I to continue to allow this personal pummeling on my morale without responding to it? Each time feels like a new violation on my spirit. Each time I wonder where the boy has gone that I knew, the one that I rocked to sleep every night the first year of his life. Do I love him less for what he is becoming? Do I beg and plead internally in this ongoing argument with myself to wait patiently, that things will turn around, that this is just a phase, that all parents go through this, that the boy I love is there beneath this arrogant, selfish, man-boy? Do I remind myself that all youth are self-centered, ego-centric, narcissistic, wholly wrapped in the concept that they are infallible, untouchable and immortal?

When I was 17, I was already going to college full time, working, paying for my own car insurance, gas, clothes, and expenses. But I was atypical, and this goes back to my belief that I have already lived a hundred other lives, and this one is but one in which I am already an old soul. I wanted to have these responsibilities at a young age. I was already beyond where he is now. Not everyone is like me.

So how do I keep my expectations realistic? I know that he is not me. That much is certain. But to be on the receiving end of so much disdain, such a lack of common courtesy is unacceptable. My children were not brought up to be heathens, barbarians. That is intolerable. Perhaps the wildness is youth, but the rude temperament is not a matter of age. I can cloak the wounds to my soul for now in the hopes that he moves past this phase, but I will not tolerate shunning the teachings of basic human decency that he has heard since he had ears to hear and a mouth to speak.

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Cover from French Lieutenant's Woman

So, it comes to this now. I wait. I will put into action the plan to remove the drugs that I have access to from his access. I will try to find within myself some of my father’s stalwart patience, the kind he used on me during my rebellious years.

I just had a fleeting image of The French Lieutenant’s Woman, who went to the edge of the bluff each day to look out to sea, no matter what the weather, even though she knew that her lover would not return. It was an open-ended story, but I always saw her time on the bluff as a way for her way to gather her strength to face the day and all that it held for her, for she knew that it would not be easy. Funny how the doors in the sand castles of your memory open and release something for you to hold onto when you need it most.

There will be more later. Peace.

Pepsi, Twizzlers and Muscle Relaxers

 Today is a day for celebration. Corey finished his STCW class, which apparently is a big deal when you are a merchant marine. At least, I know that it’s a big deal when you are trying to get your Mate of Towing license for bigger boats, and now he’s completed another hurdle on his way to allow him to drive bigger tugboats. The fact that he’s done all of this training on his own I find phenomenal. A lot of the people who do this training are sent by their companies. Corey and I have paid for all of these courses on our own (with some help from some family along the way), but it’s been his personal goals and drive that have gotten him to this point, and I am incredibly proud of him.

These last few months, though, have been tough and easy. Tough financially, but easy in the sense that Corey has been my bulwark. He has taken care of me in every way, right down to the cooking and laundry. Once he gets back on a boat, that means that I have to find my way back to the kitchen, and that, my friends, is going to be tough. You see, I have developed some strange ideas as to what a balanced diet consists of, and I know that it is not what a growing teenage boy should subsist on. For me, I could be perfectly content living on a diet of pepsi, twizzlers, and cereal, as long as I have my muscle relaxers to ease the back spasms. Throw in some ice cream occasionally, and I’m a happy camper. Now, none of the above requires cooking, or even use of the microwave.

Please don’t misunderstand. I have a gorgeous double oven, stainless steel gas stove, Calphalon pots, Henkel knives and various and sundry other wonderful kitchen staples. And, I am well-acquainted with how to use them. I used to cook all of the time, and quite well, I might add. In fact, I cooked all of the food for Corey’s sister’s wedding as my wedding present to her. I doubt that I could replicate such a feat again! I rarely used cook books as I am a pinch chef, i.e., a pinch of this seasoning until the aroma suggests that the flavor is just right. I make wonderful marinades for beef and chicken. I can stir fry with the best of them. I have been perfecting a spaghetti sauce recipe since I was 14, my cousins the unfortunate test subjects of my first batches.

The truth, however, is that I just don’t like to cook any more. I grew tired of it, and Corey began to love the kitchen, so I gladly gave it over to him. Now, though, I know that he, too, has grown weary of cooking. So once he goes back to his boat, I will have to find my way around the knives and pans again. I don’t mind it so much, but it does tend to hurt my back after just a half an hour or so. And if we ever do get around to putting in the tile floor that we want in the kitchen, I’m not sure how well I’ll hold up. So for now, I’ll have to limit myself to dishes that require minimal prep time, and maybe I’ll be able to find my groove again. After all, I can’t make my sons eat microwave pizzas every night of the week.

The Boys
The Boys

Oh well. We must move forward. Corey gets his certification. I give up Twizzlers for dinner and become reacquainted with my kitchen. Maybe I can teach each of my sons to cook a dish (besides macaroni and cheese and tuna). And maybe porcine, four-legged animals will sprout wings and lift off from my roof . . . . . . . . . .

Yep. I’ll hold my breath on that one.