Photo by Olivia Rose Photography
A little over a year ago, I used the hashtag #somethingsupwithcath on Facebook and Instagram to hint at what I thought was going to be my Next Big Adventure, this blog called Hip & Hooray. I launched on July 29 with this post, and I was excited to be back doing something I loved—writing blog posts. It was great to be in touch with the people I’d met through the many different phases of my life, and I loved making connections again in a space that felt familiar, yet brand new.
Mostly, I was just so grateful to be writing again.
To prepare for the launch, I learned all kinds of new things. How to set up a blog on WordPress. How to create graphics in Inkscape. How to take photos with a DSLR camera (sort of.) How to find the courage to get even more real with my audience, in a way I hadn’t yet done before, which is kind of saying a lot.
My goal was to take my favorite parts of the blogging I had done for my job at Paper Crafts magazine via the Moxie Fab World—like crafting and trend watching and hosting challenges and posting inspiring photos—and bridge that with other things that interest me—like cooking and paper cutting and most importantly, my journey to become more mindful.
But something was off. Where sentences once flowed seamlessly and the choicest words often rolled off my tongue in poetic curls, writing had become as difficult as it had ever been in my entire life. I would sit for long stretches of time trying to figure out how to say something I wanted to say, without being able to pinpoint the exact word I needed. I couldn’t seem to grasp the syntax that was necessary. Sometimes, I couldn’t even find the beginnings of the sentence structure I needed to build what I wanted to say.
I told myself that I was simply out of practice. Because I was.
I told myself that it would get easier as I became reacquainted with my process. Because it was lost to me.
I told myself that I would find that internal rhythm, that voice, that had once defined me. But that’s exactly what was dragging me down.
In fact, the more I blogged the more unhappy I became. The more I tried to bridge the gap between the old me and the new me, the more disenchantment I experienced. I had no energy. I was tired. I was struggling. I was utterly uninspired.
I wrote this post in early November, and then, as you may or may not have noticed, I stopped altogether.
Which actually broke my heart. I was surprised and confused and embarrassed and well, you know, beating myself up because once again I had proven how not perfect I was to launch some big thing and then not follow through with it. Ugh. I hated myself for it.
But what I didn’t realize at the time was that there were other, more sinister, forces at play. Forces that wouldn’t become known to me, in any official capacity at any rate, until months later.
Ever since we moved to New Hampshire 5 1/2 years ago, I’ve had acute pain in my calves. When I would get out of bed in the mornings, I would be doubled over trying to walk I was in so much pain. Eventually my muscles would stretch out and I would be able to move freely, but there would still always be pain.
Later, I started noticing that my legs and hips would ache pretty much all the time, but especially after sitting. I would go to the grocery store and do my shopping and when I would get out of the car when I got home, I would be as stiff and as sore as if I had just walked 4 miles (which I do regularly.) Same thing when I would go up some stairs, or get up out of a chair. Standing for long periods of time was agonizing. At night when I was watching TV or reading a book, my legs and hips would just ache and ache. Nothing touched the pain. Not ibuprofen. Not acetaminophen. Not anything.
In June of last year, I started having troubles sleeping (or let’s just say, more trouble than usual.) I would fall asleep just fine, but I would wake up multiple times a night, and when I was sleeping it felt like I was awake-sleeping. Like the whole time I was asleep, I thought I was awake. In the mornings I didn’t feel rested at all. My energy dwindled.
In the fall, I started having pain in the crooks of my elbows. Not the joints, but the inside of my arms where the elbows bend. I also started having pain in my hands. That’s when I started to think that I really needed to go see the doctor.
I got an appointment at the end of January. She did a blood test for everything. Lyme disease. Rheumatoid factor. C-reactive protein. Anti-nuclear antibodies. Thyroid. Vitamin D. Calcium. More vials than I’d ever filled before. When, in the same appointment, she diagnosed me with plantar fasciitis, you could have knocked me over with a feather. Never in my wildest dreams had I ever thought to Google that. I mean, that’s a diagnosis for athletes. I’m no athlete. I’m an ellipticizing long-walking hiking freaking champion, but I ain’t no athlete. 😉
And so off to physical therapy I went. I got my calves and feet massaged. I lengthened and strengthened my legs and hips like a boss. I got taped. I got svelte. And I got strong.
In the meantime, the blood work came back negative for all the scary things, but the pain in my legs, hips, elbows, and hands didn’t go away. And neither did my sleeping problems. They were all hanging out with my energy, which had gone AWOL long ago.
When I was finished with PT and it was determined that the pain in my legs and hips was not being caused by my body overcompensating for the pain in my calves and heels caused by the plantar fasciitis, the only diagnosis left was fibromyalgia.
I’ll spare you the Mayo Clinic synopsis of the illness, but I will link it here if you are interested. The good news is that it could be worse. The bad news is it is something I will likely suffer from for the rest of my life. And that, my friends, is a whole other blog post entirely.
It goes without saying that I had self-diagnosed months earlier. But now it had a name. And everything started making sense. The unexplained, persistent myofascial pain. The fog I experience when I try to write or carry on a conversation. The energy it takes to complete the most simple of tasks. The depression that goes with all of it—either because of it or as part of it—or both.
I’ve been on 6 different medications since March. Some take weeks to see if they’ll work, and then more time to taper off when they don’t. One worked, but the side effects were intolerable. I’ve been on my current medication for 4 weeks with no results, but I’ll stay on it for another 3 to give it its due diligence. I am on something that is helping me sleep, which could account for today’s burst in energy and my desire to spend some time with you. But I’ve learned that I have to pace myself, because on the days when I feel like my old, energetic self, I want to jump in and do everything I haven’t felt up to doing since the last time I had a “normal” day. And then I spiral downward because that’s always, always too much.
Rest assured, I am getting good care. I just started seeing a rheumatologist, and she is open to holistic methods of treatment in addition to medication, which is important to me. I am making the best of it. I am figuring it out. And again, that’s a whole other blog post. Or two. Or even three. 😉
So of course there’s lots more to say, including news that a new, exciting job found its way into my life (could that be where the majority of my energy is going she poses sarcastically?), but I’ve been wanting to let you know what has been going on with me. I miss blogging. I miss you. And for that matter, I miss me.
Like you wouldn’t believe.
Hope to chat with you again sometime soon,