The Pain Problem

I have fibromyalgia. I have been doing really well lately so far as pain goes. Even on my trip to Europe, I felt pretty good most of the time. Tired and a little achy in the evenings, but we scheduled in days of rest. This was very wise.

Since we have returned my sleep schedule has been all messed up. I tend to wake up in the middle of the night. I’m usually not hurting, but just can’t sleep.

Out of the blue last evening I started hurting. The all over the body, just shoot me now, kind of pain. The pain that no matter what you do or what position you get into, nothing helps. EVERYTHING HURTS. When my pain gets like this I swear even my eyelashes hurt. It’s that burning, pervasive, what-the-hell kind of pain. I always describe it as feeling like having a bad case of flu after you’ve run a marathon. You know, where you feel feverish (I’m not), your muscles are on fire, your joints hurt, your skin tingles and prickles and you just want to lay down flat on the floor, spread eagle and die kind of pain. I’m not in this kind of pain nearly as often as I used to be, but, dear, kind, merciful God, please remove it from me now!

I hate the pain scale question that nurses and doctors always ask. You know the one: “On a scale of 1 to 10, with 1 being the lowest and 10 being the highest, what is your pain level today?” Usually it’s between 5 and 7, but I don’t even register that pain any longer. I’ve been inured to it. Get it above a 7, though and wow! Turn up the dial on that and it’s like 10 isn’t high enough to describe it. I personally think the scale should be 1-20. Tonight I would be a 20.

Ok, now, I’ve whined long enough. I know this too shall pass because it always does. I’ve taken my “only in case of real pain” medication. I’ll drink coffee and read something excruciatingly boring and the next thing you know, I’ll be asleep on the couch. When I wake up, most of the pain will be gone. The birds will be singing, the sun will bright and I’ll forget what this pain feels like. I’ll think, “Oh, good grief! There’s nothing wrong with me! Why was I making such a fuss last night?” and I’ll forget what I was feeling until the next time.

I read a blog post on Momastery tonight that made a lot of sense. It was referring to deep depression, but whether one’s pain is mental/emotional or physical, pain is pain. She recommended that when one is down and hurting, write a note to yourself so when you do go to the doctor two days later and you’re “fine,” you can show them the note of how you felt when you weren’t fine. Hence this self-involved blog post. I’m writing down my notes of how I feel when I’m not fine. I will take it with me when I go to the doctor’s office.

I’m not an artist, but in this I’m trying to represent artistically, how fibromyalgia pain feels. 

I feel better already! Confession truly is good for what ails you. God is good, all the time, and is bigger than any kind of pain we might bear. He won’t let us be tested beyond our abilities to get through things. I know that for a fact. Sometimes I just wish He didn’t think I could bear so much! LOL!

Peace and love,

Elaine

Middle-Aged World Travelers, Cliffs of Moher-One Day Bus Tour, Chapter 3, Part 2

Good morning! I got a little too verbose the other day on my post about our one day bus tour to the Cliffs of Moher and the west coast of Ireland. I’ll try to do better today!

After we left the Cliffs of Moher, we continued to follow the western coast of Ireland in a northward direction. We were going to eat at a little pub along the way to Burren National Park. Our bus driver/tour guide, Wayne, kept getting messages along the way that Prince Charles was in the area and was worried we would be delayed by the procession, but so far we had seen no evidence of him.

We passed by Galway Bay. It truly is a beautiful place to see. The entire western coastline of Ireland is awe-inspiring because of the raw beauty of the cliffs and the ocean beyond. I would urge anyone visiting Ireland to make this a part of their trip plans.

We finally stopped to eat at Fitzpatricks Pub in Doolin and it was a quick lunch, but the food, service and atmosphere was absolutely delightful. Fitzpatricks is well-known as a gathering place for musicians, but since it was the middle of the day, no local music was to be heard. You know how you imagine Irish pubs to be these rather dark, low-ceilinged, places where people gather to visit, eat, and drink? Fitzpatricks is the very epitome of that image. My husband had the Irish beef stew, which was very good, and I had a truly Irish lunch of cabbage, ham, and mashed potatoes that were the best I ever tasted. My mother made boiled cabbage frequently and I love it, but my husband is less of a fan of it. I felt like I had gone home to eat at Mothers when they brought my plate out. They provide a lot of food, so there are no worries about going hungry there!

After we left Fitzpatricks, which unfortunately I did not get a picture of, several of us were hanging out across the street waiting for everyone to meet at the bus to continue on our journey. While I didn’t get a photo of the pub, I did get pictures of this peaceful bucolic scene directly across from where we ate.

Cows across the street from Fitzpatricks Bar. He was very interesting to talk to.

After we left Doolin, we proceeded on to the Burrens, which is a rocky, conservation area established by Prince Charles’ favorite uncle. As we arrived there and our driver was encouraging us to get out and see the fauna there that is seen nowhere else in the world except north of the Arctic Circle, it began to rain. Between slick rocks and misty rain, Alan and I decided to wait in the bus. Suddenly, our tour guide/bus driver bounces into the bus and says to me, “What’re ya doin’ in here love? You’ve GOT to see these flowers! You can’t find them anywhere else in the world but here and north of the Arctic Circle!” I laughed and replied, “I’m afraid I’ll get out there and fall on those wet, slick rocks and it’s COLD out there!” His response was to grab me by the hand and pull me out of my seat, saying, “I’ve got an extra coat just for you!” So I put on his puffy hooded coat and out we went.

As Wayne, our tour guide, walked me over to the pasture area where everyone was tiptoeing and taking pictures of incredibly tiny flowers, he said that the dark pink flowers were part of the orchid family. To get to the little pasture meant climbing over a partially knocked down brick wall, very slick, and Wayne helped me over it. The tiny little flowers were beautiful and I’m so glad I got out of the bus! I think we’re often like this in life. There is so much to see and enjoy in the world, but we’re afraid we’ll get hurt if we get out of the bus. These are the rare wonders of the world that I saw when I got out of the bus:

Oh, not long after we saw these beautiful flowers, guess whose motorcade passed us on the little two lane road? Ding, ding, ding! You guessed it! Prince Charles himself!

Peace and love, Elaine

What Are Your Hands Doing?

I was reading Guideposts this morning and came across a quote so profound, I felt I had to share it and some other thoughts I have on the matter.  Here is the quote:
“Our hands are really servants of our thoughts, so if you want to understand what you’re thinking, watch what your hands are doing.”   Jewel, singer

  What are our hands treasuring?  What are they doing each day?  I like the idea that our hands reveal our thoughts, and to a greater degree, our hearts.  I wish I could say that all of my days are spent using my hands to help others, to do good works, and to enourage, love, and build others up.  I would be lying if I said that is what I do all the time.  For, my hands are often spent serving and entertaining myself, especially online on my iPad.  I also use my hands for housework, some gardening, knitting/crocheting, petting my animals, and touching people, hopefully in a loving way. I waste a lot of time, though, when my hands could be serving and loving more.

I did a search on my Bible app (via my ever present iPad) for the word “hands” in the New Testament. Do you know what came up over and over again?  Jesus or his disciples laying hands on people to heal them.  Jesus laying his hands on the  little children to bless them. Jesus lifting his hands in prayer to his father in heaven.  In other words, Jesus used his hands for the same things we can use our hands for–laying hands on people, helping them and praying. I’m not suggesting that all of us have the spiritual gift to heal people when we lay hands on them. I am saying that as a people we should be touching others in love and encouragement, more. We don’t do that anymore. Our hands are too full of things to reach out and touch someone. Our hands are even clenched into fists of anger, frustration, and protests so much that reaching out in a friendly manner and touching someone has almost become a taboo activity. Why is that? Have we become a society so filled with fear that we can’t be human?

I like to touch people, especially babies and old people. Now, before you start thinking I’m a pervert, I’m not. These two demographics of people seem reach out their hands to be touched, patted, and/or in a request for help. The interesting thing is, these people seem to inherently know when they see me, a complete stranger, that I’m a person whom they can trust and will touch them with love. I’ve had complete strangers walk up to me in public places, take my hand, and ask for help or just start talking to me. Babies, in public, when I pass by, whether I’ve seen them or not, laugh spontaneously when they see me (yeah, I’m funny looking and make lots of people laugh!) and then reach out their little hands to touch me. I’ve even had babies out in public spontaneously jump into my arms! I can’t explain this phenomenon, but both groups are right. They can trust me. I won’t hurt them. I will do what I can to help them. I actually love it when people reach out to me. It’s always a blessing to me and fills me with peace and joy the entire rest of the day!

So why don’t I reach out and touch more people? Why don’t I use my hands more often to help and serve others and God? Why do I waste so much time? It is easy for me to say, “Well, I have fibromyalgia and have a lot of pain and weakness. I can’t do things like I used to do because I don’t have the physical capacity to do so.”

A couple of years ago, God told me my mission, if I chose to accept it, was to simply “Knit, Pray, Love.”  That’s it. Three words. I started knitting/crocheting prayer shawls. As I would work on the shawl, I would pray for whomever was to receive the shawl and pray that through that shawl, they could feel my love and, more importantly, God’s loving arms around them. Sometimes I knew who I was making the shawl for, but, more often than not, I had no idea who would receive the shawl. Every time I finished one, I learned who it was for and would pass it on to them. I felt a great deal of peace, love, and usefulness in this work, but somehow let it lapse. Oh, I keep buying yarn and getting patterns, but I’m not doing what I was doing, what God asked me to do. I need to do that again. I need to use my hands for good instead of entertaining myself. I need to reach out and touch people in real life too. We all do. We’ve become a society afraid of touching and it is isolating us and creating huge rifts amongst family, friends, ethnic groups, religious groups, and the world in general. I think if there was more handshaking, pats on the back and hugging going on amongst all people, a lot of these tensions would melt away. I think if we used our hands to help and bless one another, no one would be able to take weapons up against one another in haste or hatred. Lives would be spared. All our lives would be blessed. 

What are your hands doing? 

  

Middle-Aged World Travelers, Chapter 3, Cliffs of Moher, One Day Bus Tour, Part 1

Tuesday, May 19, 2015, 6:50 AM
We were told to meet our tour guide in the middle of Dublin at the Old Stone Church on Suffolk Street. When we arrived, we realized that there were several tours starting from there and heard a man shouting, “Cliffs of Doher Day Tour, follow me this way please!” A sleepy band of travelers tried to keep up with the energetic fellow, who introduced himself as Wayne, our tour guide for the day. As we each presented our vouchers and boarded the bus, Wayne looked at Alan’s voucher and said, “Alan Lane, Irish, right?” Alan was a bit taken aback, but said, “Well, at least part of me is Irish. The rest is mostly English and Scottish I think.” The bus was luxurious, immaculate, and comfortable. After everyone boarded, Wayne the Tour Guide told us that this would be a long day, but hopefully a fun one for everyone. He mostly had two rules. Rule #1 was that everyone be back on the bus at the times he told us to be back on the bus because it was going to be a very busy day and dawdling and being tardy would delay and inconvenience everyone on the tour. He reassured us there would be plenty of opportunities for bathroom breaks and such. He said that we might actually see Prince Charles that day as he was coming to Ireland and on that day was scheduled to see the Burren, which his uncle particularly liked and where his uncle and several other royal family members were killed by the IRA in 1979. (Our tour included a trip to the Burren also so the possibility of running into Prince Charles was high, but unlikely according to Wayne.) Prince Charles’ tour was billed as next phase of improved relations initiated by Queen Elizabeth’s first State visit to Ireland in 2011 and President Higgins’s first State visit by an Irish president to Britain last year. It turned out that Prince Charles’ trip to Ireland was also a historic one as he was to meet Gerry Adams, noted leader of Sinn Fein. Wayne the tour guide said the only problem with the possibility of seeing Prince Charles was that traffic and the tour might be delayed if we did happen to be in the same place as His Majesty, but he would try to stay on schedule as much as possible. Rule #2 was that we not trash out the bus or, if we did, that we clean up after ourselves before leaving the bus at the end of the day. Then off we went to explore the west of Ireland!

As we set off on our tour in the early morning, one of the first things I noticed was the very smooth and new looking highway we were traveling upon. Apparently Ireland had only in recent years developed a limited access roadway system (similar to our interstate highways) that allowed faster travel throughout the country. Also, I couldn’t help but be impressed by all the beautiful green countryside.

Beautiful green Irish countryside in the area where some of the world’s best race horses are bred and trained.

Wayne was obviously an Irish history expert and very proud of his country and his countrymen. As we traveled along, he gave us a complete history of Ireland from the Vikings to the current day. At every stop or even when passing a point of interest, he would tell us the historical significance of the place and point out fun things to know too. He was a jolly fellow and hilarity ensued throughout the bus frequently. We stopped in Limerick at the River Shannon so we could see King John’s Castle, built in 1200, which is one of the most intact old castles in Western Europe. Since we were there for about 15-20 minutes, we took pictures. Well, of course we did. That’s what tourists do when at historical locations, right?

King John’s Castle on the River Shannon in Limerick, Ireland.

We continued on our journey a little further and stopped at the Obama Truck Stop for a bathroom break and refreshments if we desired. (I kid you not! President Obama’s family traces back to the town of Moneygall, Ireland and he went to visit the town and area in 2011.)

On the second floor of the Obama Truck Stop there is a complete exhibit of American Presidents of Irish descent. I visited quickly as time was short and bathroom breaks are important, but it was really very fascinating!

If you’ve ever wondered what the town of Limerick looks like (especially if you’ve read the memoir, Angela’s Ashes), here is a view of the town. It’s very cute and quaint looking now, but I can imagine there being some very hard times of poverty here as well.

Homes in Limerick, Ireland

After a short while, we got off the Irish super highway and, as Wayne warned, were on the most narrow and twisted country roads I’ve ever been on in my life! As Wayne made several turns in small towns and navigated our huge bus around some very dicey looking twists, I have to admit I just closed my eyes! I was sure he was going to hit some of the building corners as we turned, but we often missed them by mere inches! In one particular tiny town on a very tight turn, we could see where other buses or vehicles had left their marks on the yellow building corner we passed. I was most impressed that we got such a close view of it, but also breathed a sigh of relief that we didn’t leave our mark as well!

Around 10:00 AM, we finally reached the Cliffs of Moher. Honestly, this was the most impressive view of Ireland that I encountered. The Cliffs are huge! They are all stone and the drop to the Atlantic Ocean is quite awe inspiring. Long before our trip to Ireland, I had imagined myself and Alan walking along the cliffs and spending time gazing out upon the ocean in a moment of perfect tranquility. Reality infringed itself upon my daydream when we were actually there. It was rainy with cold moist gales cutting right through our clothing. We scurried out of the Visitor’s Center as bundled up as we could manage to a view a jaw-dropping scene of the wild beauty of the Cliffs. They definitely are beautiful and awe inspiring, but there was no way we were going to be part of the brave people who actually walked out onto the Cliffs to gaze at the sea. Heck, we could barely stay on the path, much less walk out further without fear of being blown straight down those dramatic cliffs to the ocean below! We took some hurried, ill-posed photos and then scurried like the cold little varmints we were back into the Visitor Center where we could sit in the little cafeteria with hot coffee and view the Cliffs from the huge windows they had just for that purpose.

Elaine and Alan Lane on the Cliffs of Moher, Ireland.

Cliffs of Moher. Beautiful, dramatic, ancient, and freezing cold in May!

While in the cafeteria, we struck up a conversation with a young woman who, it turned out, was from the state of Wyoming, which is just directly north of Colorado, our home state! She had been to Ireland a couple of times and the Cliffs were one of her very favorite places to visit. This time she had convinced her brother to go with her and he was one of the brave souls actually walking out onto the cliffs. She had done this before so on this day was taking refuge in the cafeteria as we were. She was in her 20’s and had toured all over Europe before with just a backpack and herself. I envied her independent spirit and ability to just go, by herself, and see the world. After chatting with her, we went to the area that described the geology and development of the Cliffs over the centuries as well as the history of the area. The Cliffs are in County Clare, which was devastatingly hit by the Potato Famine of the mid 1800’s. It’s a beautiful area, mostly inhabited by sheep farms and sturdy farming families who can endure the wild beauty and bleakness of cloudy days and stormy nights. We proceeded on to the ever-present gift shop and bought some gifts and souvenirs to take back to our family and friends. As I was looking at the wide variety of souvenirs, I realized that anything we brought back from here would never adequately relate to our friends and family the effect this wild area has on one’s heart and soul. Here is where I felt truly in the arms of Ireland and its wild and oftentimes cruel history. How can that be related through trinkets or photos of any kind? This is a place that people must see for themselves to really feel and understand Ireland. Nonetheless, we bought gifts and souvenirs and I took many pictures of the area to attempt to convey this soulful area. Below are some of the photos I took. Note in the third picture down, there is the crumbling remains of a home abandoned during the Potato Famine of 1845-1850. These are seen all through the area and are painful reminders of that difficult, killing era. Before the Potato Famine, Ireland had a population of over 3 million people. After the Potato Famine, due to deaths and immigration brought on by the Famine, the population had dropped to only about 1.7 million people. I will continue with the second half of our tour tomorrow as I’ve blathered on long enough today, I’m sure! 🙂
Peace and love, Elaine

Rainy, cool Friday

Rainy, cool Friday,

perfect for daydreams and sleep.
May flowers are wet.

Inside warm and dry,
with a puppy on my lap,
sleeping and dreaming.

I have work to do,
cleaning the house and hooking.*
Still, I sit idle.

Anxiety grows,
I need to get moving fast.
Still, I sit idle.

I slept all morning.
I need to make up lost time.
Still, I sit idle.

Gray skies and raining,
Aren’t conducive to working.
So I write poetry.

© Elaine Wood-Lane
5/8/15

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*In this case, hooking means crocheting. I’m going out of the country for a couple of weeks a week from tomorrow. I’m crocheting a scarf to take on the trip.

In rainy weather, I tend to take on the persona of a snail. I move slowly, but surely. I’ll get everything done, but I work slowly and turn on the heat two days before the deadline usually. Then, bingo! I’m done!

Have a great weekend everyone! Peace and love, Elaine

Feng Shui for Book Lovers: How to Pare Down a Library

I have read Marie Kondo’s book and it is different from most “decluttering, cleaning up” books I’ve read. I’m in the midst of two or three big projects now, but as soon as I’m able, I intend to start clearing out many things I’ve held onto for far too long, including books that I’ve kept forever but never read. I can’t wait! My new mantra, even when shopping is, “does this/will this bring me joy?” If not, then I don’t keep it or buy it. 🙂

Where's Dash? My kids seem to tolerate mess more than I do these days. Where’s Dash? My kids seem to tolerate mess more than I do these days.

Last month I decided once and for all that I was going to either get rid of some books or embrace what my life was becoming: a Grey Gardens kind of gorgeous.

As a writer, I had long taken solace in studies linking messiness to creativity. Oh the ways old magazines, paper clips, half-open books, unanswered mail and yesterday morning’s cereal bowl must be sparking fireworks in my brain! But with three other people in the house, and overflowing bookshelves set to topple, the center could no longer hold. All I yearned for was an empty room, maybe some curtains billowing from a sun-drenched window. Faced with this impossibility, I found myself, over the past several weeks, becoming one of those people who can’t stop talking about feng shui.

You know feng shui. The ancient Chinese…

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Five Our Fathers and Eight Hail Marys

Here is a bit of humor from a fellow poet writing poems for NaPoWriMo. I don’t know if he meant it to be humorous, but I found it to be.

A Thing for Words

SantCompostela25

Confessionals in the cathedral of Santiago de Compostela, Spain,
by Georges Jansoone, via Wikipedia

It was silly, the heart-pounding,
sweaty-palmed anxiety
of sitting there in the twilight
of a near-empty church,
waiting to whisper what a ten-year-old
thought were grievous sins
to a forty-year-old man hiding in a box
behind a screen and a collar.

I remember the nuns making us
practice for first confession
and sending me back to my seat
to think up more sins, since
I couldn’t come up with enough
imaginary ones from which
I could be given a real penance.

I haven’t been back in many years.
Not since one of those guys
sitting in the darkness committed
his own too-real heart-pounding,
sweaty sins and felt forgiven
after some buddy in another box gave him
five Our Fathers and eight Hail Marys.

My catch-up poem, #13 in Poem-a-Day NaPoWriMo 2015, from a prompt asking for a…

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Bake for them two

Wow! Such a good and thoughtful post on how we Christians should be with regard to loving one another, whomever that “another” is!

Ten Thousand Places

gay weddingIn Jesus’ time, the nation of Israel was under Roman rule. The Israelites were allowed to live there and practice their faith for the most part, but they had to pay taxes to Caesar and obey the Roman laws.

To the Israelites, the Romans were evil and ungodly. They had no place ruling over God’s chosen people in God’s chosen nation. That land had been promised to Moses and his descendants when God brought them out of Egypt. Their very presence in the land was blasphemous.

One of the Roman laws stated that any man could be required to drop what he was doing and carry a Roman soldier’s equipment for him for up to a mile. In the sermon on the mount, with his followers gathered around him, Jesus referenced that law and told his followers what they should do in that case:

“If anyone forces you to go…

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A Little Improv Can Go a Long Way with Dementia

An excellent blog post on both understanding dementia and interacting with parents and others who have dementia! It describes much better my mantra of “Whatever world they are living in today, go with them into it!”

Long Distance Daughter

improv-sign-crop2 Credit: Tom Magliery

Most days, dad sleeps a lot. But today, he’s wide awake. He’s on the phone, yelling at me. He’s so angry, but there’s sadness in his voice, too. “I don’t have any money, I don’t have a car. I don’t even have any shoes,” he tells me. “And I’ve got to go down and see mom and dad.”

Now, my dad is 92 and his parents have been gone for decades. He has money in bank accounts that he doesn’t remember how to access, and he has a car he’s no longer able to drive. These days, his shoes mostly stay in the closet. He wears his slippers when he has the energy to walk down to the dining room to eat with his friends Leo and John, or when he gets the urge to bust out of the skilled nursing wing where he lives. He heads…

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