The Things that Try Us

It’s not often I post about my personal life. Not to sound haughty, or rude, but it’s nobody’s business but mine. And besides, I cringe when I read blogs and Facebook updates and Tweets in which people are divulging all the very intimate details of their lives. It just somehow seems a bit gauche, to me.

However, here am I, about to post something personal. It’s not earth-shattering. It’s more about adjusting things in my life so I can continue to write, edit, publish, administer — do all of the things that are required of me in my chosen career.

I have rather severe osteoarthritis, combined with some interesting sciatica. I deal with pain every day of my life. No big deal. Lots of people deal with pain, and worse.

It would appear the arthritis has been around for decades, unknown to me. My knees have always cracked. My joints have always easily slipped out of alignment. About 11 years ago, right about the time we claimed these three stories of granite for our home, the arthritis decided to make itself truly known. Since then it’s been a steady deterioration of mobility, increase in pain, and periodic adjustments to lifestyle and strategies.

It would appear Thursday last I was given a warning of another impending change. The night previous I was reading in bed, moved my right leg and WHAM! Some rather interesting and searing pain accompanied by what felt like the entire knee sailing off to the east. No matter what I did, no matter how I manipulated the leg and knee, I could not get it to behave. Ensued a truly disgusting night’s sleep.

The following morning I stayed in bed when the alarm went off at 4:00 A.M., with admonishments from Gary, my husband, to stay put until I felt like getting up. Disgruntled, and guilty for giving in to this ridiciculous pain, I acqueisced.

However, later, when finally boredom and a need to be mobile drove me to distraction, I ventured out of bed, thinking I would shower, dress, figure out a way to get to the loft where the office is located, and set to a productive day.

Such silly thoughts.

After reducing myself to tears just brushing my teeth, a shower seemed inadvisable. I could barely stand. How was I supposed to manage in a wet, slippery environment? I could wait until later, I reasoned. And so I pulled together some clothes and then pulled them on, and then spent the next five minutes carefully and painfully ascending the very steep stairs to my workplace.

Well, that was interesting. Didn’t know you could feel pain like that. Childbirth was a mere frisson by comparison.

Drank some juice, from the little bar fridge we keep in the loft, reasoned that I’d get my NSAIDs and Atenolol later (they are kept on the first floor in the powder room). So, I set to work, telling myself not to be a big baby. But truth of the matter was I realized I’d probably made a tactical error, because once up the stairs, how in blazes was I going to get down the stairs?

By 3:00 P.M. the call of nature had become somewhat urgent, and figuring I was allowed to knock off early for the day, given the circumstances, I made my careful and excruciating way back down the loft stairs. At the bottom I realized I needed to rest and so detoured for the bedroom where I sat, gasping a bit. Hell, I could use the ensuite bathroom, rather than try the marathon down to the first floor, and once there, and nature alleviated, decided I would risk the shower if for no other reason than to make myself feel better. I know, I know, endure more pain just to feel clean. But such are the quirks of my nature.

Managed the shower, although I had to back out while holding the grab-bar. From there managed to pull on clean clothes, rested again, and from there made the next leg of the journey down the next flight of stairs to the main floor.

By now I was not only exhausted, sweaty and in some pretty spectacular pain, but really needed to take the medications I should have taken first thing in the morning. So, after another rest and bit of a bully-talk to myself, I lunged from hand-hold to hand-hold, cane in one hand, swallowed said drugs, made a sandwich (I thanked Gary for making the kitchen reno a very ergonomic one) and swallowed that, and then said the hell with it and got myself ensconsced in the big leather chair in the living-room, cell phone down the front of my bra (what I realized had become my I’ve fallen and I can’t get up device) and read while biting back tears both from pain and self-pity.

By the time Gary made it home I was in a pretty sorry state. And over dinner (a pizza the dear brought home), we realized we had to make some adjustments to the layout of our home in order to accommodate my increasing inabilities.

Funny thing was, however, by Saturday I was just fine. Back to my usual state of decrepitude, rather than this ugly, new state. Still and all, I have come to face the fact I have to give up my funky loft space.

So, we’re going to do a bit of an unexpected renovation. The wall between the two guest rooms on the second floor is going to disappear, making one long room all along the east side of the house, with existing, wonderful deep windows facing north, east and south. The office will get moved down there, and the library moved up from the livingroom into the office (where I’ve always wanted it). The loft will be subdivided into two interesting bedrooms about 20′ x 20′ ea. And as soon as we can afford it, a stair lift will go in on the stairs up from the first floor.

We still get to live in this wonderful old stone house. I have access to bathrooms and water on the second floor, and will eventually have a lift that will allow me to travel in safety to and from the first floor. And I get to have a fabulous new office where I can write, and operate the publishing house.

Sometimes it just takes a shift in perspective, a willingness to see past the difficulty.

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