Sitting on the deck

Earlier today my pain level was eight. I didn’t wake up with that number but as I get started in the day which usually means sitting up in bed and eating breakfast the pain level some days increases quickly. That’s what happened today. 

Last night I took a walk – but not my usual walk -it was dark by 7 o’clock and I think I was kind of shocked that fall  is here and it’s going to start getting dark earlier. I realized I slept through most the summer like Rip van Winkle except for I was sitting in bed -kind of a bummer. Anyway , last night I went into our  gym which is in part of our barn and I walked on the treadmill and I think that may have been the catalyst to my pain today. When you’re on the treadmill and you’re kind of stuck in one position when you’re walking and since I’m on some medication that can make me a little off-balance I was holding on with my “good” arm. It began to feel uncomfortable and I could tell this probably wasn’t a great idea and I stopped after only 11 minutes but the price was be paid today.  Walking on the lane is much more forgiving. I’ll have to make an adjustment to my walking schedule from now on.

Not gonna lie I can get myself into kind of a tizzy when this pain starts to flare up. So I quickly took some Valium which seems to calm me down and relax some of the muscles in the areas where I get pain from the nerves that are being pressed on. Or least we think they’re being pressed on. But we will know soon enough. When the Valium kicked in I jumped( ha ha in reading this as I edit I must say jumping is the wrong word- maybe slowly stepping is better) into the shower. Which for me is a big event and a difficult one. But today the warm water felt good falling across my body. I stood there just letting go of my anxiety and I let the water wash away my angst. After the shower I dressed which is another huge feat for me -so I got back in bed and I realized I was still feeling a lot of pain so I took about a third of a Percocet. A few of my doctors have said to me that I take baby doses of medications and I need to take more. That’s all true I don’t like any meds so I tend to take a little bit at a time but unfortunately when you take a little bit they only last a little bit of time. 

But today I took advantage of that time. Usually when I take Percocet and valium I am usually on my way to the doctors so by the time I come home the pain has returned and I’m exhausted so I go back to bed. But today I had nowhere to go so when the Percocet kicked in I had this feeling I needed to go outside. So I did.

 I’ve been hearing a lot of banging from next door. Our neighbor is putting up some sort of fencing in the backyard and Kevin and I haven’t been able to figure out what animal or animals are going to go live in that enclosure. So I went out to watch him – to try to figure it out. I guess I could ask him but I don’t really know him-  he’s the grandson of our deceased neighbor June he and his girlfriend moved in last fall. My husband has met him and I told him maybe he should go ask him what he’s building  and we both laughed. It’s so silly. Sometimes in the country you avoid people and other times you’re helping them take fallen trees off the lawn.  It’s a weird dynamic out here. You don’t want to interfere but you’ll help when asked.  My only concern with his fence is that it is really close to to our dog fence and whatever he puts in there will be face-to-face with our dogs. I’m thinking it may be goats because he has a shed and now that shed now has a new dog door sized hole in it. Often used as goat doors. He could be moving his dogs to the shed but I don’t think this is so. If it is goats I  wish he had built the fenced in area on the other side of his shed where there are no people that would be bothered by the constant noise of goats. And they are noisy I had some. I liked having them -sort of-but I don’t miss them! And my deck is right there very close to this new enclosure. My neighbor is a bullrider as a career – so I thought maybe he could be putting a bull over there but the fencing doesn’t look like anything that would hold a bull. The mystery will unfold or we will just ask him. But I told Kevin to get ready to plant some trees or bushes depending on what animal lands there. Bc I don’t want to sit outside on my deck with the cacophony of my dogs barking at their animals. Maybe bushes will be a buffer from goat noise.  

Once I was on the deck and I was done spying on our neighbor something just pulled me to sit down on one of our gliders and just relax. I hadnt been outside like that in weeks and weeks so I sat on the glider and I meditated and I fell sort of asleep had some weird short dreams. I prayed and I just sat enjoyed the sounds around me . The birds were not gone like I thought they were floating around in the trees and singing. I enjoyed hearing the sound of my horses walking around the paddock and the chickens clucking  in their yard and I even enjoyed the traffic passing by the front of the house and the neighbors chop saw whirring away. The sun beat down on my face and on my legs and feet it was beautiful and glorious day. And for a long time today I didn’t haven’t much pain. The wonders of drugs. For a while I was part of the real world.

A few times I began feel guilty about sitting out there. Because I try to take times when I’m not in so much pain to catch up on work for our business and I definitely had some things to do. But somehow I was just able to push that guilt  away and I was able to enjoy myself and relax. So unlike me. Must be the drugs. 

Today I was feeling thankful. Last week, I finally found a surgeon that is willing to operate on me –finally. We have a surgery date in a couple weeks. It’s like a huge gift but i’m almost too afraid to be too hopeful about anything. I’m so tentative about everything. This definitely isn’t the way I like to live my life- being tentative. It’s definitely not something foreign to me. But it’s something that I try to avoid. I try not to look at things in a negative way but this journey has been so filled with ups and downs (and a lot of downs )that I just can’t get myself too hopeful for anything. But for right now I’ll be thankful that I have planned surgery with a hopeful positive outcome .

But for today I am mostly thankful for just being able to sit outside for an hour and was able to enjoy the beautiful weather and beautiful scenery in my backyard, and the fresh air and a time to reflect. After I got up and went back inside I felt the need to look at the Dogwood tree out front of the house  that holds many  of my bird feeders. When I stepped out, I heard the rustling in the bushes and I went stood under the Dogwood tree and looked up and saw a little finch looking down at me along with a nuthatch. I smiled up at them and said hello. They flew off to the tree at the other corner of the house. I turned away but caught a few other birds moving about out of the corner of my eye. They are back. The feeders are full -and because my husband loves me and knows the birds bring me joy they will stay that way. I look forward to being able to fill the feeders myself again. I may even treat myself to a couple of new feeders when that time comes. It’s the little things.

Today for just a little while I felt normal again. I felt like I will feel well again and that there is that hope in me and that was good. Today was a good day. Today on the deck. Getting a date for surgery. Things seem to be looking up. But like I said I can’t get too hopeful. But I can be thankful for the time I had today just enjoying being outside being part of the world. It was nice to feel like a normal human again – even for just an hour. 


Postscript – Kevin asked the neighbor what type of animal would be living in the new enclosure he was building. And it’s not goats! It’s a mini-donkey and maybe a companion goat(I hope not)  or another companion donkey(I hope)! I love donkeys and have wanted one for so long so now I’ll have one right next door. Perfect! 

Did I leave? 

I walked outside the other day. I needed to step out just for a minute to get some fresh air. Sitting in bed I sometimes hear the world beckon to me. As I stepped out onto the porch  that leads to the walk that leads to the driveway I realized there was no rustle. There’s always a rustle. A rustle of the birds in the trees flying away because they hear me come out or sometimes there’s the big leap of a squirrel trying to get into my feeders and what I heard was nothing. No singing birds nothing. And I realized my feeders and the suet holders were  empty. I shouldn’t worry too much it’s summer there is plenty of food outin the world for the birds but I missed the noise – it was too quiet.  My birds left. 

When I first moved to this farm and I walked around I noticed how quiet it was during the day. Something was missing – the birds were missing- the home was empty – nobody had been here taking care so the life was gone from inside and it spread outside. It was sad. 

One day Not long after we moved in i  noticed my neighbor had feeders out in her back yard and lots of birds flocked to them so I decided to put some feeders out of my own in our front dogwood tree.  After a while birds came- cardinals, finches , swallows , bluebirds and after a couple years squirrels. The feeders doubled in quantity and size.  I was amazed we hadn’t seen many squirrels if any for the first couple years we were here- and I was so glad early this summer to walk out and meet one face to face as he raided one of my open feeders. A little swing where you put the sunflower seeds on the seat. It was perfect for a squirrel. We also had seen them hanging off a big feeder on the side of our house. Squirrels and birds brought life to this farm. 

I remember the day we brought the horses over from the barn where they had lived much of their lives. We lived hear almost two months before we brought them over.  I had worked so hard on the stalls. Leveling them and adding rubber mats. Setting up the tack area and hanging hooks for lead and halters. I’d look out of the old back windows of the house and see that empty paddock and fields and picture my horses there. My heart couldn’t fathom that I’d have my horses in my backyard.  It was a dream. And sure enough the day they came was a dream come true. I stood on my deck on that cool early November day and my horses were there just like I pictured and they brought life to this little farm. 

Over the years more and more birds have come. We have had nests in hanging plants and in bushes. During the first few winters I wasn’t as consistent with feeding them because my neighbor June was very diligent and kept her feeders full all winter. But June died in the spring of 2015. I hadn’t spoken with her in a while and I felt badly about that. And one day I looked over at her house to see that the feeders were gone so I wanted to make sure the birds kept getting fed so I purchased more feeders and was diligent about keeping them filled all last winter. And what a pay off. The bounty of birds was a gift  and every day you could spend hours watching them come and feed. The beautiful male cardinals against a snowy background. My dogs would watch them out of my office window – they wouldn’t bark they would just stare mesmerized by the dance in front of  their eyes. I’d walk outside every day and I’d hear rustling in the bushes and I swear they would watch from their perches as I filled the feeders and they’d make calls to each other perhaps saying “the lady is filling us up -get on over here”. 

The feeders have sat empty lately -And now the birds gone. I know they aren’t far away but it’s quiet out there.  Even with the cars zooming by there’s something missing. 

I stood outside and  I thought to myself in this weird way that this must be what it would be like if I was really gone. Nobody would fill my feeders. 

I walked into the house to see what else was missing what else of my  being in encased in one room has created this house to feel different.  My husband and kids have been trying to keep up with the cleaning. So that’s not too bad.   The kitchen feels foreign to me. Things are moved around and I can’t reach anything because I can’t use my arms. It’s so funny bc I’ve watched loads of cooking shows and I keep thinking I’ll get back to cooking when I feel better. I mean those cooking shows make you feel empowered and well remind me that I need new and much better cookware and a better stove and ovens and well honestly a better kitchen. So maybe I won’t be back to loving cooking  but maybe I’ll be able to cook. Sometime. But I felt missing in the house. I can’t explain the feeling but maybe you have  felt thid after you’ve been in bed with a cold for a day or two and get up and walk around your house and things just feel shifted and different and in my case it feeks like that except for maybe multiplied by hundred. 

I just feel lost and strange in my own house like I’m not really a member here I’m just visiting. A part of me is missing. Like I left. The only place that’s truly home for me right now is my bed and my set of drawers next to me and my dresser.

 I looked out the back deck and at my fenced in veggie garden in the corner and all I saw were  tall weeds sticking up -huge weeds. Scary weeds. Nobody is harvesting anything from that garden.  

In the beginning of the summer I started out with a nice beautiful garden and every day I went out and tried to weed it  even though I was starting to get pain and my son Luke would sit with me sometimes and help and we would sit and talk he and I. It was a special time for me to chat with my son. He was always my garden helper. He helped me plant the very first plants in that garden years ago now. And this summer I was able to help with the first harvest of squash – the tomatoes took longer but I did pick a couple of those and then I just had too much pain. And since I’ve been gone that beautiful garden is now a weed patch. It was the last thing on anyone’s minds even Luke’s. he a teenager now- Gardens aren’t his priority. I told my husband to go ahead and give the chickens the tomatoes and the squash and pull the plants out so they can enjoy it. Nobody wants to climb in there and try to grab veggies the weeds have won. We have an automatic waterer for that garden so there has been no lack of water for the weeds. 

I told kevin I was sad to see that this is had happened. And I was sad about the birds.  I said it felt like this is what would happen if I had died. I know it’s a morbid thought but its all just seemed so sad and weird. Like I’m only partly here. Surreal. I’m not sure he even knows what to say when I say these things. I’m not angry at anyone they are doing their best.  I just feel sad that I’m gone but I’m really not physically gone but in some very obvious way I’m gone from the tick tock of our home and farm. For now. 

Kevin has been watering my front flower garden over the summer. And On the many nights we have walked in that lane we will turn on the sprinkler when we head out and we take our walk down the lane and when we come back we turn off the sprinkler. I feel more like me on those walks than I feel any other time. And my flowers don’t look too bad. A little weedy but not  too bad.

Of course while I’m down and out the things that are normally my things have to get taken over by others and even then only the most important things will get picked up. Like feeding humans and animals, keeping the house relatively clean. I have been keeping up with the bills and our small company. Not well but I’m doing it. Oh and I try to keep our family calendar together. Thank God for electronic calendars that can be shared by family members on their phones. But I can’t do much.   Other people are making some decisions and other people have to make those decisions. 

And now the people here have to help me and I can’t help them much.  But that’s the way it is. It’s what family does. 

I’m hoping that those things shift soon I’m hoping that I’ll be feeling way way better. And I will be doing better for others and I’ll be part of this home and this world once again. But I want things to be different.      

 I think a lot about these things. When you’re sitting in your room most of the day awake. Trying  to think about when you’re going to feel better and if I’m lucky enough to get my life back what is it I want to do with said life.  Because to be healed enough to get out of this bed will be such a blessing and a rebirth. You don’t realize how much you miss filling your bird feeders when you can’t. 

Cancer taught me life is short. And I’ve tried to go out and live it even in pain.until I couldn’t.  Being laid up in bed allowed me to think about what I really want life to look like if I’m lucky to get out of this bondage. 

I want some things to change in my life when I get better. Of course I want to be at the beach more and go do things with my husband and kids more and I want to work out and be able to ride my horse -but there’s something more I want to do.  If I’m lucky to feel better can maybe I can help others dealing with cancer. I’d like to do something.  I am still thinking about it all. I’ve got the time. For now. But i will figure it out. But right now I just need to just do today and shut the brain off for a bit. 

And Kevin’s out getting more bird seed for the feeders. Hello birds. 

Powerless- in search of MY power. 

Recently my friend and author Jon Katz wrote a blog post on truth and power. 

In his post he quotes author Bill Ferguson (“How To Take Your Power Back”) who describes what it means to lose your power in this way: “When you fight the truth of the way your situation is, you give it power. You make yourself a victim and put yourself at the effect. To get your power back, stop the resisting. Surrender to the truth of the way your situation is.”

This quote really resonated with me. This issue of giving up power in ones life isn’t foreign to me. But where this idea sits with me now in my current situation which has been incredibly hard for me.  I have been in terrible pain all summer. See links to those posts below.  I’ve been bed bound much of the time. It’s been a mind blowing and mind changing time. I’ve seen the worst of myself and maybe sometimes the best of myself. I’ve become dependent on others in ways I didn’t think would be necessary until I was much older. Having to have your husband wash your hair when there’s no chance of hanky panky isn’t where I want to be in my life. I’m unable to care for my kids like I want. Thankfully they are teens and have some ability to be self sufficient (sometimes that’s not as good as it sounds). I can’t care for my animals and let’s face it – these are my animals. Nobody else in this house would have all these beings to care for if it wasn’t for me and I am responsible for them and I can’t even carry a bucket of feed. 

But I don’t want to become a victim -yet I think I have.  I don’t want this situation to have power over me. Yet it does. I mean I can’t get out of bed because of the pain.  Maybe in my case I could be seen as a victim of this particular circumstance  – I didn’t ask for cancer (who does) and I certainly tried to deal with and find answers to my pain issues after cancer treatments to keep me from getting this bad.  Yet here I am. And I’m angry and scared. But this is not who I want to be. My husband and I have spent long hours this summer trying to find the help to fix me. I’m trying not to feel victimized. Yet I’ve run into many roadblocks and I’ve began to lose hope and that sunk me deeper into despair and then I have become more of a victim and I realize what’s really happened is that the hopelessness I’ve felt is really me feeling powerless in my situation. 

How does one get that back their power? 

According to the quote above I need to stop fighting the truth of my situation. But does that mean I’m giving in to it? Accepting that this is my life? It seems too unacceptable  for me to do that.  It seems more like giving up. But maybe that’s the point. Maybe by accepting the truth of my situation doesn’t mean I accept its going to go on forever but if I accept the truth of where I am now I can actually take back some of the power I’ve lost and begin to regain some hope. 

To keep fighting the truth of my life at the moment isn’t doing anything positive for me. Sure I’ll wallow in times of great pain and I’ll cry rivers of tears but perhaps to accept where I am now will enable me to see that this doesn’t have to be where I’ll always be. And somehow maybe that will make me feel less afraid and less like I’m in a cage. Will I then feel like I have power again?  Because I have lost my power and I never realized this as the truth until I read Jons post. 

We can so easily let our power slip away – we don’t even see it. 

I don’t know if I can accept where I am as my truth now. Even though I know it’s my truth. It’s the fear that this will be my truth on and on and I don’t know how I’m getting out of it. I’m tired of the loneliness of sitting in my room in my bed watching TV, being comforted by my dogs, reading books,taking pills, and oddly worrying about getting fat, or thinking things too sad to share here.  I’m just not willing to give into this fully as my truth yet darn it. But it is my truth right now. I do feel the times when I am able to face it and not let the what ifs take over and I give in to the reality a little a I feel that planner Anne step up and say OK what do we do now to get me the hell out of this place? I feel that power in that moment.  I know she’s there. Under this frustrated and weakend human being that old Anne is still there. And she has been robbed of her power off and on much of her life but has always managed to get it back.And in some ways she may never get it all back. But in this current situation that’s is not acceptable. She needs to get better. 

  I think power comes in many facets of our life and perhaps when we find power in all the facets we reach some true synergy .  I’ll be lucky to find that in this lifetime. There are still too many things that have power over me -but I’ll take finding my power again in finding my way out of where I am now. 

In my moments of weakness I have wondered if I’ve done something so horrible in my life that I’m now paying some type of penance at this moment in this situation. My dear husband said if my rationale were true we all would be paying for our sins in  some terrible way.  Criminals wouldn’t need to go to jail if it was tit for tat- ok he’s right on that point. 

 Am I supposed to learn something from this situation thats deeper than what I want to conceive? I don’t think things happen just because. I think things happen for reason and I think every single thing that happens to us in our lives gives us a chance to learn but maybe that’s my type A talking. I’ve had a lot of things happen over a short span of time and I’m still trying to figure out what I’m supposed to learn from these things. But laying here pretty much helpless has giving me perspective on some things maybe that’s the point. I now have a better understanding of how people with chronic pain live. It’s not just take a pill and get the hell up and do something -that’s so not how it works -maybe in the past that’s how I thought it worked. Now I get it. I know how I’d like to live my life when I’m finally freed from this bondage. And maybe I’ve learned to be a tad more patient.  But maybe this is one of those things that you understand better in hindsight much later in your life. 

Or maybe I’m having one hell of a pity party and I’m not willing to see it. 
 I really don’t want to feel like a victim of my own story in this situation -I don’t want to feel hopeless.  It’s just that so many doors have opened and closed on me on this journtey. I have this fear that if another door closes I won’t have the strength to find another door to knock on.   The closing doors are like kryptonite to my power.

But I have a voice and my husband has a voice and we can and should feel powerful to use it to tell my story a thousand times until someone listens.  I’ve been giving others – in this case doctors and other health professionals all the power- and I’ve felt powerless which led me to lose hope. But I have a husband to lean on that is a blessing because others in my situation might not have that. And he’s been the driving force behind getting me to places and getting me heard. He’s been the shoulder I’ve leaned on when I just couldn’t take anymore.  He’s as frustrated as I am and Saddened that ive gotten this bad. Thankfully this week I did meet a couple of doctors that seemed as shocked about this as we are. I’m too afraid to put too much hope in them. It’s just too hard. 

It’s been hard for me to write about it -physically BC using my arm for too long brings on pain. (i’m learning to depend on the “voice to type” function on my iPad and I’m getting better and better at it) and  to get myself to write about it has been mentally hard. But when I do write the truth about it I feel freer. That’s the power I have -to express my pain and my anger and at times my sorrow. This is my voice right here where I am now and to me writing is power and as long as I’m writing I’m not giving up and that’s hopeful.  Right? 

The only way I’m going to get hope  back is to accept where I am now and that it sucks big big big time but this situation isn’t going to own me and squash me. The way I’ve been feeling -victimized- isn’t doing me any good at all. Something has needed to change. Do I want this to have power over me? Do I have the power and the strength to face it head on?  Maybe I have been facing it but in bits and pieces. Sometimes being in pain just makes you want to shut out the world and sleep and not deal with this at all. But maybe when I face the truth  in those  bits and pieces I gain some power and I get back some hope. And  Maybe that’s the best I can do now – moments of power moments and of hope. But it’s something.


If you need to catch up you can read  my pain story from the beginning of the summer :