Chronic Illness, Chronic Pain

Writing a Post When You are Ill.

Writing is the same as pretty much everything else when you are knocked-out ill. It sucks.

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Write that post anyway. We can not always wait for when we feel well. When we feel well, writing a post is often not at the top of the to-do list. When we feel well, we can write posts, yes. When we are ill, though, we look forward to experiencing life so that we have something to write about! I am sick to my stomach from migraine upon migraine, but I can write and you’ll think, “Well, at least my post isn’t as bad as THAT one!”

“Knock, Knock.”    “Who’s there?”                                          

Does it matter.”     “Does it matter who?”                              

No, it doesn’t matter who is knocking, illness may not let you answer.”

Illness sometimes doesn’t let much through. This past month has been a constant ping-pong game with the migraines. Back and forth. During this match, I am still expecting myself to work out, make meals, wash dishes, vacuum, do the laundry, try to socialize with family. And write a blog. The migraine won. The migraine has a mean spin on that ball! Will readers understand why I write a blog even though it sucks? I don’t know. Will readers care if your blog sucks? Maybe for a minute. When you finally feel well enough to write your post, the way you want to, you may look back and be glad that you did your best when you wrote that lame post.

Do not apologize for when you are doing the best you can. Do not apologize for the content, the sloppy grammar, the disorganized babble. You will do better next time!

“Knock, Knock.”   “Come back later when I will tell you how to be a mountain goat!”

Some other day. Life, it’s chronic.

Breast cancer, Chronic Illness, Chronic Pain

Naked Thoughts After a Mastectomy

A mastectomy made me want to take my clothes off. Why?

I sent to a comment to a photographer:  If you ever want to take some pictures of a breastless chest and scars, and a body that has atrophied, hit me up. 🤔 Seriously. 50 year old bodies still have life in them. 😁

The photographer’s response: I cannot tell you how much of an honor that would be. Just having the opportunity to meet you would be amazing. I’m for real. You and (your daughter) should come to the studio.

I did not expect such an invitation. His work was filled with younger people and professional models. You see, the photographer had become a ‘friend’ of mine on Facebook recently because my adult daughter is a model. She and her father are very photogenic. The photographer purposefully reached out to me to let me know what a professional pleasure it was to work with someone of her personality, abilities and professionalism. He couldn’t say enough kind words about her. As a mom, it is a high feeling to have strangers go out of their way to say how much they respect and appreciate my daughter as an admirable human being.

I liked his approach, so I kept following his work. Creativity. Expression. Humanity. However, I had not seen a subject of his work that had been middle-aged or older, like me. Definitely not a woman with a flat chest.

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‘Practicing’ to be photographed.

The idea of being nude in front of a camera made me absolutely cringe before breast cancer, when I still had breasts. Back in college, I briefly contemplated posing nude for an art class in college for some extra bucks, but when I imagined how much I would shiver and be unable to sit still in a cold Wisconsin classroom the idea quickly came and went. Years later, after I became ill with migraines, chronic fatigue and fibromyalgia, I allowed myself to feel increasingly resentful toward my body.

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Full disclosure: I am 48, not 50; not that it ought to matter…

Now that I have undergone chemotherapy, had a bilateral mastectomy, and radiation treatment and immunotherapy for breast cancer, I am no longer ashamed of my “chest region”. Now I plan to visit Minneapolis, Minnesota for a two hour session with a photographer to take nude, artistic photos to show the vulnerability and strength of my body and myself. Living up to the stereotype of being bipolar, I have always been possessed by the raw emotion that nature and art bring out of me. Art is an emotional and intellectual science. I am excited to find out this photographer’s vision.

Most nude pictures, drawn or photographed, are predominantly of young, toned and ultimately attractive people. I want to see people of all ages and backgrounds and give respect to the containers we carry our souls in. Via Facebook, I challenged the photographer to use me, a 48 year old woman, deconditioned from a year of cancer therapy and a double mastectomy, as an instrument in his photography. I had thought the chances would be slim, but that he may take the bait. He happily did so. Here’s hoping he doesn’t regret it.  Really all I have to lose is but a tank of gas.

Is it more or less acceptable for someone who has undergone a bilateral mastectomy to be shown nude? If I now went outside topless, would it still be indecent? Offensive? I am hoping to gain some insight from this upcoming experience. I am hoping to learn to be inspired by and accepting of my body for the way it’s made. I am working on it.

Life, it’s chronic.

Chronic Illness

Temporarily Chronic: Breast Cancer

7A7094D3-0A29-40F7-8853-6D318B1BF7B2.jpegThis photo is from about six months ago. So, I haven’t blogged about my experience with breast cancer, because I hope for it to be a temporary problem, not a chronic one. But, as I say, life IS chronic.

It has been thirteen months since I started treatment. I have to humbly say that I have been the epitome of grace under this pressure. At least I think so. I think people were possibly more concerned about me being so jolly about the treatment than they were about the cancer, although no one has told me that. If I were my friends and family, I would think that either I was being a very good actress with a professional performance or else I was going out of my mind! I mean, who glows in excitement about how great the cancer treatment process is?

Who enters cancer treatment being all smiley and like “Yay!” Well, let us see… I do! I do because I couldn’t be more relieved than to have the chance to save my life and to have the consciousness to watch it all happen. I was walking around with breast cancer and I did not own it. I did not plan on keeping it, so why own it? It did not tie me down, much less knock me down. I mean, I could get out of bed every day and be ever more grateful for another day and hopeful for tomorrow. What a gift.

People are very kind to cancer patients. Duh, right?! Well, I have had my series of chronic health problems and problems like so many of us, but I seriously have never been treated better by so many people that I know and even more people that I don’t know. How comforting is that! It is everything that makes life worth living for. Kindness.

I will come back again and write more about this chronic part of my life.  “Live it!”, says Wendy!

Life, it’s chronic.

 

Chronic Illness, Chronic Pain

K.I.S.S.- Keep It Simple Silly!

Why keep it simple?Because more is too much.

Let’s aspire to K.I.S.S.

Stress kills the body and the soul. In the U. S. of America, ‘more’ is cool. Half an hour drive away from my home is the city of Arcadia. It’s slogan is “Arcadia is ‘More.”: More? More what? It must not matter, as long as it is more. Every commercial… more, more, more. More stress is more like it. More stuff, more social connections, more activities, more money, more education, more candy, more wine, more work, more responsibilities, more sleepless nights. Being overly busy is complicating our lives and stressing us. This culture I grew up in, of material composition and social standing had lured me into making my life complicated. I have done that. I have learned to partake in activities that bore me. I have learned to commit to small talk and pretend to find humor in topics that don’t seem either sensitive or well thought out. I have contributed by volunteering in activities that require shy people like me to be very uncomfortable. People like me get lonely in a room full of people. It is draining. “Keep it Simple Silly” is again my goal for 2018, to live according to my nature in order to live outside the world of stress and hurried frenzy. Trying to deny our vulnerabilities as humans is stressing. I push through pain of fibromyalgia and it produces longer, more intense pain. I push through chronic fatigue and it knocks me down even harder. ‘More’ produces more stress. Less is less stress. Keep it simple silly!

Let’s aspire to K.I.S.S.

When I was little, there was a man who lived out in the country down the road from my grandparents. I never did see him. His grass grew long.  If someone actually lived in his house, I had not ever witnessed anyone come or go. Family told me that he was a hermit. I was young and didn’t understand what kind of creature a hermit is. I imagined that a hermit must look like an ogre. That hermits were homicidal. The word ‘hermit’, I learned, was an accusation and an insult. Only scary, creepy people are hermits. Yet, he had a name. He was a person. I wondered why someone didn’t just go see him. I wondered why the neighbor was hiding. Through the eyes of a child and the wisdom of adults, I concluded that he must have been forced to be a shut-in. I imagined he had no life, no possessions, no lawn mower. I assumed that he must be empty. How lonely, I imagined. Never would I want to be that much alone, to sit in a house and stare at a wall all day. That would never be me. I would change the world. I would be free. I would blend in. What would that even look like? Fear of rejection makes us put on certain social masks. I had to learn the tricks and habits of social interactions that I found disingenuous. It was something I assumed that I would have to learn in order to lose the feeling of being looked down upon. Fear drives us to make our lives more complicated. It took way too much energy to keep hiding behind social masks. Worried about blending in and being accepted? Keep it simple silly! Simply share your kindness. It is not more complicated than that.

Let’s aspire to K.I.S.S.

I didn’t possess the secret necessary to blend in; or the shoes. I didn’t have the shoes. I was allowed the gift of very practical, comfy “old lady shoes”. I wanted flats like everyone else. The kind that your feet would freeze in should you live in Wisconsin. It is just what every teenager can use in order to help form an identity and feeling of belonging to the peer group. The pants. The jeans were too short and too wide. I used binder twine as a belt. Yes, a skinny girl with the body of a young boy. Only a few shirts, a few sweaters; rotating them strategically in hopes that no one would notice or judge. But, I really did not need more. I just wanted ‘more’. But, like my mom always said, “School isn’t a fashion show”. I didn’t want to believe her, because when I got there everyday I would see the trendy sweaters and skirts and shoes and hairstyles How pleased people were with these things and how they commented on others’ appearances. It looked like a fashion show to me, but school wasn’t a fashion show for me. It was a place to learn and a place to be able to participate in track and cross country. I fit in. All I had to do is run. Besides that, school was a place where I had the one friend I could tell about my crushes, but not about my insecurities; because I was weird, not weird in a bad way, just weird in a hermit way, like the guy without a lawn mower. Kind girls let me sit silently at the lunch table and just listen as they carried on with conversation. Get me in a group of people outside of home, and I would maybe talk to one person. There is a lot to be learned when you are the silent type. Nobody knows what you’re thinking and nobody finds out that you don’t own a proverbial lawn mower. If I put my thoughts out there, I would have to explain myself. Justify myself. My simplicity would be exposed. I would not fit in with ‘more’ people. Keeping thoughts to myself, things seemed simpler that way. Without the differences being pointed out, I wouldn’t need more. The shame would be avoided. I could still be myself. I didn’t need to chase after more.

Let’s aspire to K.I.S.S.

Do you have a disorder? Aspiring to be more is requiring people to see their social differences as disorders. It is standard to conform to the expectation that if we are different than the social norm, then we must admit it as a disorder. We can not simply have struggles. Struggles are only for the disordered. If you want to be considered as having an acceptable difference, you must advertise it as a disorder. Others may be uncomfortable that I think too much, or I am too socially anxious, or too sensitive, or too shaky or too introverted or too chronically ill. Yes, apparently it is becoming necessary to have a disorder in order to explain away your struggles. Nobody really has a disorder. It’s a scam for you to feel just inadequate enough that you will be more likely to conform. Let’s keep it simple.  Struggling is simply necessary, but being ashamed of struggling is not a necessary stress.

Let’s aspire to K.I.S.S.

The ‘real’ world does not have to revolve around jobs and being friends with everyone. It does not have to involve making connections in order to manipulate ways of getting more stuff or more relationships or make status. You already have more ‘stuff’ and interesting experiences to talk about. I already have influence. It seems like saving the ‘real’ world would mean that I would have to be more; more connected with more stuff. There was a time when I went to work and I couldn’t park my car on the street side of the business, because it was an embarrassment to the company. It took me awhile to make the connection that the business needed a more professional image. Professional meant powerful, more influential, more important. Professional meant the art of social persuasion, small talk and most importantly, stuff. More stuff. More conflict. Less simplicity. More stress. I like to think that when I questioned why I had to move my car, it gave pause to my boss on how he was pretending to be someone he wasn’t so that he could have more. By the way, that boss ended up closing the business and starting up a business where employees can park their cars and it doesn’t matter what they look like. Good for him! He simplified his life with his wife and child.

Let’s aspire to K.I.SS.

Fast forward to today. I am college educated with a nuclear family, a mortgage, a debt and dependable vehicles. Vehicles, not vehicle. We have a new house, professional clothing, four cats, a flat screen t.v. and electronics I don’t know how to use. Being chronically ill, my days are not predictable enough for a full-time job. Unwarranted guilt adds to my stress. Volunteering fulfilled some of that void. Volunteering has me doing more stuff. Keeping the balance between home, self and community even more complicated. My husband makes the money for the medical bills, for the kids’ activities, for our children’s college, for the stuff. More work, less simplicity. More doing, less being.

Let’s aspire to K.I.S.S.

Do we all not know how ridiculous and self-sacrificing it is to do more? Should we be saying, “Keep it Simple Silly?” It can be simple. You may not seem as successful or social or cool, but you may be able to live with your true self without guilt, without sleepless nights. It can be simple again. Get rid of the crap and keep it simple. Save yourself if you want to save the world. Put on that oxygen mask and breathe. Be what you love. Love what you are, not what you have. Keeping it simple will clear away the smog that keeps you from seeing the beauty and simplicity of life.

Let’s aspire to K.I.S.S.

Having more and doing more is chronic. Simplicity breeds clarity and perspective. Simplicity is inspiring the way that the “Life is Chronic” blog will be set up. It will feature blogs that were written when I make it a priority, not to meet a quota. It will be written to reach those who stumble upon it and like it. It will sometimes be written when I am sharp and also when I am not so sharp. It will not use shocking or mentally manipulating titles to snag people into reading it. That may seem contrary to the typical money-raising goal of reaching more people and getting more advertisements so that more money goes around, keeping it simple and genuine. It inspires me to draw pictures for you, instead of searching through quantities of photos, searching for the perfect one. The artwork on this post is brought to you by me. It is brought to you with patience and intent, the intent to show you that this blog is just about the most broad topic ever to be considered a niche: life. Get rid of the shit and keep it simple. Save yourself. It’s your life.

Let’s aspire to K.I.S.S.

Let’s Keep It Simple Silly! Let’s get rid of the material stuff that distracts us. Let’s get rid of the mentality that we have to do more. Maybe you already do that. I applaud you. It has been over a month since my last blog entry. Partly because I was distracted by breast cancer treatment, fibromyalgia and chronic fatigue syndrome, but partly because I am distracted by the stuff available on social media. I recently have been sucked into Smule. It is a karaoke app and it is a great way to have fun. Keep it simple, though or you’ll find yourself sucked into caring how many invites you get and feel compelled to sing more songs simply because you were ‘invited’ to do so! It is now time for me to enjoy the simple process of drawing a picture. For the benefit of me and you. K.I.S.S. my friends! Life is chronic.