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My cane and visibility

A couple of years ago my arthritis advanced to the point where I need to use a cane for a while. (I’m not using it now thanks to physical therapy). At first, I was a little upset. But then I realized that walking slowly with a cane is better than just walking slowly. I was moving into the category of the visible disability and away from being able to hide it invisibly.

Tons of us have invisible disabilities. We can pass for normal as long as we are not directly forced to exhibit our disability. They can be mental disabilities. They can be pain-causing disabilities. Or we may just be really good at covering things up and pretending things are normal.

I thought that people seeing me with a cane and the cane would buy me a few privileges. People would be more willing to hold doors for me or give me more room to pass. It could buy a little more patience when I was slow to get up or down.

Boy, was I wrong.

The famous cane

If anything, the cane made me more invisible – as people actively tried not to see me. People taking up the entire shopping aisle would not scoot over to give me room coming through. Doors were let go to slam into me. If I dropped something and was having obvious difficulty picking it up, no one helped. If I dropped my cane, no one helped.

It was pretty awful. My visible disability rendered me invisible. Folks would turn away or scuttle sideways to enhance their plausible deniability that I was not there.

The one group of people who did see me was people with canes themselves. Men with canes would almost always hold doors open for me. Women did too, sometimes. I got a lot of comments on my cane. (It was pretty with peacock feathers drawn on it.) I noticed people with canes, too. It is almost as if the cane gave me and others 3D glasses to see the world differently.

It might be age, instead of the cane, that people were avoiding. We are really good at not seeing old people. Old folks and their problems are perhaps too much to deal with, even in extending everyday courtesies.

My challenge to you is this: start looking for canes. See if other parts of your vision shift along with it. I’m betting the world will look a lot different if you do.

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Cannabis dosing for pain

Dosing cannabis for pain is difficult. Most people want a dose that takes care of their pain but leaves their mind alone. (Some want to go into couch-lock and completely forget the pain. They will take higher doses.) The general rule is to start with a small dose and slowly raise it until it helps enough with the pain. If you can get your doctor involved, they can be your best guide to determining a dose.

Note that with cannabis more does not need better. Everyone has a sweet spot. As you take smaller doses and move up to your dose, it may feel like every increase is better. But as you go past that dose, additional amounts are often wasted in your system – or can start lessening their effects. Your sweet spot may be 1 mg or 15 mg or 250 mg. You just need to find it.

CBD

It is difficult to take too much CBD. CBD dosing ranges from 10 mg to 3000 mg per day. Bowel disease has a recommended 10 mg/day dosage. Cancer pain can call for 600+ mg/day. Poor sleep calls for a 25 mg dose. Anxiety is 300-600 mg. All of these recommendations are on early studies, and researchers are finding different doses and uses frequently.

You should start with a small dose – about 2 mg, and raise that amount until you feel the desired effects. Or until you cannot afford the dose any more. That’s my limit, the cost.  I take 5 mg once or twice a day (depending on how long I need to be active). I have a tincture to supplement that amount if it isn’t getting rid of the pain, but I don’t use it often because I cannot afford to.

THC

THC dosing generally falls into a smaller range. Pain treatment can start out at a micro-dose of 1-2 mg. Five to 20 mg/day is a fairly common dose for pain. Recreational uses tend to use 10-15 mg. Be careful going over 20 mg /day because you are very likely to get negative effects. Some people with pain, particularly cancer pain, can go up to 150 mg under a doctor’s supervision.

It is good to start slow with THC. Take two mg and wait. If you don’t feel better in 2-3 hours, take another two mg. Five mg works well for me, in maximizing pain killing effects while minimizing disruption to my thinking.  Do not take more than that until you know how it affects you. People take too many edibles when they eat more assuming the dose isn’t working and get in trouble. (Edibles can take 2-3 hours to start working.)

Combinations

When you are taking CBD and THC together the dose of each will affect the other one. So if you are already taking 25 mg of CBD each day and you add in 10 mg of THC, your CBD needs may stay the same or go down to a lower dose. And the amount it goes down does not have a direct relation to the amount the other rises. Basically, it’s a crap shoot. Most people taking cannabis for pain have to go through a long trial and error period.

Other cannabinoids

There are many more substances contained in cannabis and its extracts. Some of these have given folks great pain relief. People find relief with CBN, CBG, CBA, and THCV.

Actual bud

When you buy cannabis in it’s natural form, dosing can get quite difficult. I would recommend first finding your dose through more measurable types of cannabis – and then doing the conversion over to the actual plant.

When you purchase bud, most sellers have the amount of THC and CBD listed on the product. Some types are high in CBD and low in THC and vice-versa. Different strains can affect your body entirely differently. You can use trial and error for different strains.In the end, you will have to try several strains to get the one that works for you.

The amounts of THC and CBD sellers list are only averages. You could grab a bud that is higher or lower in these components. When used in something like an edible, the amounts of weed may not spread evenly through the food items. You will never get the even dosage with bud that you will get with a tincture or an oil.

Note well: I’m not that kind of a doctor. (I’m a JD / PhD.) Never stepped foot in medical or nursing school. This is not meant as medical advice. It’s just based on my experiences. Always take things to your doctor – and listen to their advice. They may have to adjust your other medications to fit with the cannabis.

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Ways to use cannabis (for pain)

I use edibles (mostly) to get my cannabis – Mindy’s Gummies 5 mg CBD/5 mg THC, to be exact. This is one of many ways you can use cannabis. I am giving you my review of the different methods of taking cannabis.

Smoking

Smoking cannabis is the traditional way that most people took it for years. Smoking is one of the most “natural” ways to take cannabis, in that the weed is minimally processed. It is also one of the ways to access the greatest number of varieties or strains. Each variety feels different in the body and the mind, so this allows you to finely tune your cannabis therapy.

Smoking comes in several forms. Rolled cigarettes and cigars are popular. To take smaller doses a pipe – regular or water – is handy. But remember marijuana smoke is carcinogenic, but less so than tobacco smoke.

Effects come on fastest with smoking, but they also go away the fastest. It takes 10-15 minutes to feel the effects and you need to re-dose every half hour or so to maintain pain relief. This is not good for most pain control, unless your pain is spiky and doesn’t hit you often. I want a product that lasts as long as possible.

Additionally, smoking comes with all the lung problems. I smoked cigarettes for 18 years before I quit. Now, when I try to smoke anything I cough, wheeze, and have problems. So no smoking or vaping for me. If breathing is at all an issue with you or those around you, do not smoke the weed.

Vaping

I have problems with vaping or, more correctly, people who vape. I remember (unwillingly) riding in a car with someone vaping. She blew her smoke right in my face to prove that it was nothing but water vapor. Bad way to make a point, plus I got stuff more than water from smelling it.

Vaping does have several benefits over smoking. It does not contain the combustion that causes some of the problems with smoking. You are inhaling a vaporized version of a cannabis oil. There are ways to vape with crushed cannabis as well as dabbing or super-heating a resin.

Vaped cannabis does hit fast and leave fast like smoked cannabis. It still harms the lungs. And the oil it uses can have added ingredients (like vitamin E acetate) that are causing new sets of problems.

Tinctures and oils

Tinctures are mixtures of alcohol and water into which cannabis plants (or their constituent parts) are infused. Oils are similar, where cannabis oils are mixed into carrier oils.

These can be dosed through a dropper, a spray, or put into capsule form. Capsules tend to work well for pain management. You can use these oils and tinctures in baking or creating your own edibles. The most popular way is to mix the oil into oil or butter. You can also mix them into tea, water, or another drink.

Many people place oils and tinctures directly under the tongue to go quickly into the bloodstream. This placement allows the cannabis to affect you faster than taking edibles, but slower than smoking. It’s a good choice for those folks are not ready for how long edibles last. I generally place my edible gummies under my tongue, with the theory that some of the relief will happen faster,

Edibles

Edibles are one of the healthiest ways to take cannabis, as long as you do not take too much too fast. Edibles generally take two hours to start working and three to peak. The cannabis effects last 6-8 hours and provide full-body relief. This lasting effect is the largest reason I use edibles.

People do have problems navigating around this slow start. Folks tend to think that the weed is not working and take more before the dose kicks in and take too much. Overdose can involve paranoia, increased heart rate, and panic attacks – not fun. You have to trust the edibles maker that they contain the amount of cannabis they say they will. Start small, at about 2 mg of THC and initially give it about 4 hours between doses, so you can trace how it affects you. I take 5 mg of THC, once or twice a day. Check with your doctor if you go over 15 mg, because some people have bad side effects at higher doses.

Edibles come in many forms: gummies, drinks, chocolate, honey, butter, even ranch dip mix. You can even make your own, but know that cannabis needs to be heated to certain temperatures for certain times and do your research before you start. Decarboxylated is the technical term.

Topicals

Many pain-people get relief from topical application. They use cannabis salves or lotions to apply it directly where the pain is. This method is good for when your pain is limited to a small area. Topical application will not bring on a “high”. This is a good choice for those who want to avoid that side of marijuana entirely.

Unfortunately, I am not one of the folks who can get relief this way. And I am not the only one. have tried a number of creams and rubs and felt no relief at all for my pain. I did discover, on the side, that hemp oil is great for my dry skin – so I still use it that way.

Transdermal

Transdermal patches look promising at delivering a steady dose over time, however my store doesn’t sell these. Many of these seem to be tied up in the maze of deregulation and medicalization of cannabis, at least in Illinois where I live. I expect to see these more in the future as they maximize the cannabis you receive over time by getting it directly into the blood stream and delivering whole-body relief. It also minimizes the psychoactive effects of the drug.

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On headaches

One of the most annoying things about being in pain is that you are constantly on painkillers – many of us doped up to over the level that would actually be reasonable. So, when a little more pain piles on – like a headache – there often seems like no place to go. Take a Tylenol? I’m already on a very large dose. NSAIDS? No, problem stomach. Here are a few places I go when I need a painkilling boost for a headache. If you want to know more about headaches in general, I found a good source here.

Scent

I’ll start with smelling lavender oil – I keep some lavender essential oil diluted in sweet almond oil by my work seat. If the headache is just coming on, or is small, this can often do the trick. I also diffuse lavender (lavandula augustifolia) when I sleep. Scientific studies show that it induces relaxation and calms the nervous system. Scientists have even found it works for migraines.

Other people find rosemary or peppermint oil to help as well. Rosemary is full of antioxidants and relieves inflammation (the top cause of headaches) as well as raising alertness. Peppermint stops spasms and some studies say it may help headaches, but more studies need to be done before we know for certain,

Dark and quiet

If that doesn’t work, there are a couple of places I go. Generally dark and / or quiet help me calm down. A lot of headaches trigger the same part of the brain (the thalamus) that reacts to light and noise. Also breathing exercises when I try to pay total attention to my breathing in and out and what it feels like. If that’s not enough – a cold, wet cloth over the eyes will at least get me calmed down.

Tea

Image by Shae Davidson. Tank Girl and cats are also great for headaches.

I really like drinking herbal tea in general, so tea was a good place to find some remedies that work well for me. Chamomile is a strong choice for headaches, studied by both scientists and working herbalists, and found to work against migraines and other headaches. Chamomile is anti-inflammatory and protects the nerves. Take the tea as strong as you can – using as much chamomile and steeping as long as you can stand.

I add other ingredients to chamomile much of the time. My go-to headache and stress blend is chamomile with meadowsweet, lavender, and rose petals. Meadowsweet (Filipendula) has a long history of use for headaches, back to the Druids in Ireland. It contains salicylic acid like aspirin, but has substances that buffer the impact on the stomach. It works in a different way than chamomile, and pairs well with it.

The lavender is proven for relaxation and rose (Rosa) is another pain reliever. By mixing these four herbs together (in equal parts), I make a tea that eases pain that pops up on top of my regular pain. The tea doesn’t kill of all the pain, but often takes it back to a livable level.

Other tea ingredients that can work for headaches include willow bark (same ingredient as meadowsweet but doesn’t taste as nice), basil, ginger, catnip, feverfew, and fennel. Most of these herbs can also be infused in an oil to rub on your neck and temples, if you don’t want to drink the tea.

Conclusion

Focusing on headaches, I have a number of tools to use to tamp down additional pain that overrides my painkillers. Herbal scents and teas lead the batch, and lessening light and sound are great helps as well. None of these work like in the pre-pain days when I would just take an ibuprofen and a half an hour later the headache would be gone. But they all do work a little bit.

I have a different tea (turmeric ginger) that I use for body pains. I’ll share that recipe soon in an article that focuses on body pain relief.

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Through a fibromyalgia flare-up

I’ve just weathered a nasty fibro flare. It lasted about a week. But now, I am starting to get used to pulling out my tool kit and actually using it when flares happen. I still have to stop, think, and give myself permission and I look forward to the day when it is just automatic. Here’s how this one went.

I started feeling bad, and as soon as I felt bad, I gave myself permission to stop. I stopped doing things around the house. I stopped writing. I stopped everything that was on the supposed to list. This is very hard for me – that list is still big and lurking.

Instead, I gave myself permission to do whatever felt best to my battered body and mind. I took naps, I went to bed early or slept in late. I played video games, I watched TV. (YouTube plug here for Norwegian train videos. They mount a camera on the front of the train and you travel with it in real time. It’s amazingly soothing,)

I gave myself permission not to be able to read or write in large amounts. When I hurt my brain fog moves in. It is hard to read something like a novel where I have to focus and remember what happened from one reading to another. Luckily, I had a number of magazines arrive – and their articles are much more within my ability when I feel bad.

I picked back up my crochet. Every time I drop it for a while, I forget just how soothing the repetitive action is. I’m sure most other hand-work hobbies are the same from weaving beads to painting miniatures.

I gave myself permission to ask folks around me for stuff. I think it was mostly my husband filling my water bottle or getting me drinks. But we went over to my best friend’s house and I just sat in the comfy chair all day. I had my bag with crochet and my Kindle and they all brought conversation and activity to me – which feels really nice.

As I started to feel better, I began to take the little energy I had and use it to help others. 1) I cooked easy dinners for myself and my husband, 2) I started decorating a tree outside for the birds and the holiday, and 3) I went onto Quora to cheer on and advise people who were having problems with depression and school.

Now, I am mostly emerged from it. I am tired and sore all over – but not as bad as before. Now I am starting to turn to that list of things that needs done, but I’m still giving myself permission to go slowly. If I get a thing or two done in a day, then that’s fine.

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Gifts for pained people

Four lists for gift-givers to folx with chronic pain, arthritis, migraines, back pain, and other pain.

Gifts for less-mobile people

Gifts specifically about pain

Free/cheap gifts

Gifts to think twice before giving

I’m not doing links – I’m not getting any kickbacks for any of these. Not even the brands I endorse directly. But if you have questions, I’ll answer them.

Gifts for people who cannot move around as much as they would like.

  1. indoor/outdoor thermometer with humidity reader – so you can tell what the weather outside is like even if you are not able to get there
  2. soft throw pillow – for nesting – ones that can be bent into multiple shapes are especially good
  3. gift cards to a streaming movie service
  4. gift cards to a streaming music service
  5. warm, soft socks – This might just be the #1 gift for people over 40.
  6. bird feeder (with installation) outside the most used window – maybe one of those that mounts directly on the window
  7. nice hand lotion – I’ll endorse Hempz, but there are many good brands. Check for one that is unscented or only slightly scented.
  8. lip balm – I’ll endorse TonyMoly’s Liptone as my current fave.
  9. hydrosol or facial spray – helps feel clean when you cannot get to wash
  10. magazine subscriptions – I can often read magazines when I cannot focus on books
  11. Pashmina scarf – the real ones are super soft and double as blankets
  12. gift cards to a food delivery service
  13. fancy or pretty canes – something that matches the personality of the recipient
  14. leggings or joggers – but get something fancy, we’re often in the same clothes for a long time and want something that helps us feel nice
  15. sunlight lamps for the winter
  16. essential oil diffuser – frankincense, ginger, and rose are good for pain, bergamot and lemongrass are also mood lifters, lavender and chamomile also help with rest
  17. a houseplant
  18. speakers for computer or TV
  19. visits from a cleaning service
  20. laptop pillow – to comfortably hold computer – maybe with a cup holder

Gifts that help specifically with pain

  1. Arthritis gloves (IMAK brand)
  2. Turmeric tea – curcumin helps calm pain
  3. IMAK also makes a great compression mask to cover your eyes when headaches hit.
  4. Ted’s Pain Cream
  5. topical CBD products
  6. Biofreeze or another lotion/gel/spray painkiller
  7. Theracane – a device for self massage on tough-to-reach spots
  8. heating pads – especially that one that wraps around neck and shoulders and is filled with lavender that smells good – also the large heating pads
  9. essential oil roller sticks – lavender, rosemary, or ones labelled for pain, headaches, or sleep (Often we are on so many traditional painkillers that we cannot take a Tylenol for a headache – something like this helps.)
  10. support pillows for in the car
  11. TENS patches or sets – sends electronic charges to relieve pain
  12. Calm, Buddify, Headspace – or other meditation apps
  13. infrared heat therapy devices
  14. acupressure therapy mats
  15. pain management apps – like Curable

Gifts that cost little or nothing

  1. Make a list of fun websites you think they will enjoy.
  2. Make a list of movies, songs, etc. that they might want to check out.
  3. Hand over the last book you read and really loved.
  4. Teach lessons on how to do a craft you like knitting, whittling, or paper cutting.
  5. Design coupons for days to come over and make dinner (or meal delivery from your kitchen).
  6. Give a massage – if its a person to whom this offer won’t be creepy.
  7. Kids art is always fun. Adult art can be amazing as well.
  8. Offer to go shopping for them.
  9. Ask them if there is a task they need an extra hand with – cleaning the gutters, clearing old garden beds, taking things in and out of the attic.

Check before you give these gifts

  1. candles – some people dislike certain scents
  2. strongly scented lotion / body spray – same as above, but more so
  3. mugs – who doesn’t already have enough mugs? your friend? then give one
  4. food / candy – many pain folks are on restricted diets, make sure any gift fits with those diets
  5. books about their condition – some folks will love these, others will think you are trying to communicate a message to them about their illness – in a bad way
  6. exercise equipment – make sure it’s wanted and usable by the person to whom you are giving it
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Total and Permanent Disability

“Total and Permanent Disability” – that’s the phrase that stopped me in my tracks. Several years ago, I had lost my job as a professor and was trying to make a different sort of life. I couldn’t work and my partner did not make much money, but I was still facing large and looming student loan payments. So I started researching student loan help programs.

I had to declare that I had total and permanent disability to qualify for disability loan forgiveness. On one hand, I knew it was true. I couldn’t work then, and I would never be able to handle a professor’s workload or schedule again. I couldn’t stand on my feet for long enough to get into a service job. My body was too unreliable to hold to a schedule.

Short version of how a TPD discharge works.

But there is something in the words total and permanent. It felt like I was giving up my future. Who knew then what I would be able to do later? Total? There were many things I could still do. I could read short things. I could commit to about 2 hours of a time to work. I could use the step-stool to reach the top shelf. That’s not total. So what if showering is hard. So what if I have to take a nap every day.

Today, I’m trying to build work as a writer. But I cannot work that long or so many hours. So far, in a good week, I make about $100. It’s not much, but it feels odd after declaring I was totally and permanently disabled. I feel like yelling and screaming – “It’s not total! It’s not permanent! See! I’m getting better!”

I have hope. Writing is getting easier and I am slowly building energy. I’m able to work a little more and focus a little better. No. I will never hold a full-time job. But it’s not total.

One off topic thing. When I looked up images online to use for this blog post, nearly everything was a picture of a guy in a wheelchair. No disrespect to my wheelchair friends, but I’m sick and tired of this being used as the only picture of us. It lets people get off thinking they can put in ramps and wide isles and be done with it. (This rant will likely hold for another blog post of diversity of disabilities or invisible disabilities or both.)

And a piece of good news. When I took my loan forgiveness, the entire loan (about $100K) was counted for tax purposes as income. This boosted us into a higher income tax bracket and we had to set up a long-term payment plan to cover $10K+ in taxes. That’s really hitting a gal when she is down. This has changed. Now, this difficult life event is no longer considered income. Thank goodness.

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Low Pressure is coming

Do you have a knee that tells the weather? A hand? Mine is a shoulder – and my shoulder says the air pressure is dropping and the weather is changing. While it’s kinda nice to be able to forecast, it’s not so nice when it spreads to my other joints and I get pinned to the sofa.

The wind is blowing in. We have had weather warnings for gale-force winds. And I have my windows open on both sides of the living room because it’s 76 degrees Fahrenheit and the middle of November. That temperature should start dropping any time now and get cold tonight.

It got me thinking of remedies for the weather forecasting body part. My first go-to is Salon Pas or another direct-to-skin painkiller that likely smells like it lost a fight with a wintergreen plant. Anyone who slaps one of those on instantly ages about 30 years with the smell alone.

Step 2 is my heating pad. But I have to be careful because when the heating pad goes onto the already-treated body part it can shoot knives of heat or cold right into the skin. I have found a new toy that I am waiting to try out – an electric hand warmer (with built-in flashlight). It charges through a USB to a plug or computer. I am one of those people with icy fingers all winter. I’m excited to see if it works. It could double as a small, mobile heating pad for my shoulder.

After that, courses of action become less clear. Comfy clothes, of course. A hot shower helps, if I have enough spoons left to take one (not today). Distraction is another good course of action. That tends to mean movies, because the pain lives in my right shoulder – the same shoulder that helps control the mouse for video games. I can really get lost in video games.

What I really want is a large but light piece of armor that I can put on my shoulder. It should aggressive to communicate my pain to other people and keep them from touching me. I bet these folks don’t have problems with people touching their shoulders.

I think I’ve perhaps been playing too much World of Warcraft and thinking about the crazy shoulder armor that everyone gets there.

Since I’d be installing something that large on my shoulder, I bet it would hold my new hand heater pretty well. Or my rice-in-a-sock heater. And really, you could do this for a knee or a hip.

One thing that did help was regular massages, not when the pain acts up, but when I am feeling okay. It works like a tune-up to keep everything working. I haven’t been able to see my masseuse since Covid-19 started. That would be February or March. Too long.

Of course, my inconvenience is minor compared to hers. She is either not seeing her clients (and not getting paid) or seeing them and risking her life and that of her family. That’s not a choice I would wish on anyone.

Getting back to what does work, I drink turmeric spice tea. The turmeric helps with the inflammation, especially when paired with black pepper. The rest of the spices ginger, cinnamon, nutmeg, and allspice help keep my body warm when the cold comes in with the low pressure. I also sometimes do golden milk – which I think I may do tonight.

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Horrible Halloween

My happy Jack O’ Lantern – an attempt to salvage a bit of Halloween

This year was the worst Halloween ever – thanks directly to Covid-19 and all of those who, at the national level to the local level, are working hard to avoid doing what needs to be done.

My partner’s uncle died of Covid-19 on Halloween. He had been in intensive care for a while. One lung collapsed. When the other started, they tried to get him into surgery. But the OR was too full and he died while waiting.

Everything else seems small compared to that. One small life out of the million killed by this virus.

Covid-19 hit me directly. I have what I am pretty certain is a mild chest cold. I have a sore throat from removing phlegm from my lungs, and its a little difficult to breathe. So, I pulled out of going over to my best friend’s house (the only place I go) for a small celebration.

I was at home, not feeling well. With my partner, who was exhausted and in a bad mood. Add in my chronic pain and I was a total grump, at him and at the world. Halloween used to be my favorite holiday, but there was nothing for it this year. I took a nap just so I could be unconscious for a few hours.

When I got up, we got ready for a socially-distanced Trick or Treat. We put a table out front and filled bags with goodies for the kids. (It was in doing this that he got the call about his uncle. So now, things are even worse).

The good news is that we got more kids than ever before – mostly in groups. We ran out of the “good” candy bags and had to make some lesser ones with fewer things. I got to look out the front door and see their costumes, which was lovely. My partner was a ball of nerves – which always makes me a ball of nerves – and he had to supervise all the Trick or Treating to make sure everything stayed safe.

That was the day. I know worse days have happened. But it was a bad holiday. Yesterday, I could barely move at all from my fibromyalgia. I had to lay down for a while because I couldn’t get together the energy to hold myself upright sitting.

Today I get to be tested for Covid-19 because I’m going in for surgery on the 5th. And tomorrow is election day. I’m steeling myself up for a rough week. Just keeping writing is going to be a major challenge. Wish me luck!

Our Halloween table and goodie bags. I heard kids getting excited, so I know we helped keep Halloween alive for at least the 40 or so Trick or Treaters that we got.

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Seven months in the house

When we decided that I would isolate for Covid-19 because of immune system problems, I really didn’t think I’d be still doing this after 7 months.

I am not totally isolated. I have my house and garden. We visit my best friend and her family (co-bubbled). I sometimes go for car rides. I have been in one store once – the dispensary. I have my D&D group weekly over Zoom. And a few other Zoom things here and there.

Really, I thought the government would have this under control by now. But between governmental incompetence and a nasty virus, we don’t seem to be any closer to getting it under control than when we started. And I’m still in my house.

I’m not putting up the red, spiky Covid-19 ball that everyone uses. Here’s a green ball – I was very happy to have my partner bring home a watermelon.

I live in a box. It’s a nice box that holds all my favorite things. Fall is the best time to live in a box, assuming you have to live in a box. I can see the leaves changing colors and falling. I can see my garden still stretch and try to grow while other parts of it are dying. When winter comes, I fear the monotony which is mostly broken up by cardinals at the bird feeder.

Time has lost meaning. Day and night set my schedule during the summer. I was up with the sun and down with the sun. Now, night comes so early. And next week they shift around the hours again. But I have no place to be. We don’t even have TV on a schedule because we use streaming services. Sometimes, when the ticking annoys him, my husband turns off the clocks. And I just float in place. At least time passes quickly.

I try to structure my day. I get up and putter on the computer for a couple of hours. Then I switch over to writing for another couple of hours. I do the dishes and clean a little. And about then things fall apart. I become torn between what I need to do (write and clean) and what I want to do (crafts or television). Then I end up taking a nap and the afternoon is gone and I have to make dinner.

The evenings are generally gone because of the chronic pain. I wind down early and physically cannot do much. I’ve been like this since the pain moved in. So it’s TV, podcasts, or books after dinner. And then reading in bed until I fall asleep.

Little changes in this routine. Except when time fogs out, like the days I am dealing with email and then look up and it’s already 2 pm and I haven’t even eaten lunch. Or the days I am just counting down the minutes until I can take a nap. And the days when the cat yells at me all day wanting food even though I just fed him an hour ago. When his timer is off, mine follows.

Days are not really different. Except on weekends my partner is home all day and we will visit my best friend on some days. But some days we stay home and he goes for a walk and a nap and I feel like I’m back into the weekday pattern.

There goes one attempt to describe life in the time of coronavirus. Now I’m just tired and a bit foggy, so I’ll tune out now.