Finnish stoicism

Oh, it’s late.

Twelve-thirty ay-em. It’s been Monday for a half an hour and it’s raining outside, a constant pounding rain, a rain that gets you wet, fast, if you step out the door and away from eaves and porch-roofs and find yourself small and humanish and exposed to the low-hanging, streaming sky.

It’s Bremerhaven rain, I told my sister as we ran to my car for a trip to the local KFC, the only kind of supper food that sounded good to my Mom. She’s still suffering from that muscle she pulled in her low back several weeks ago. It’s wearing her down, the pain and the fatigue. And she won’t eat. “I’m not hungry,” she says. “Oh, I don’t really want anything. You girls go ahead, have something. Don’t worry about me.” So we suggested different foods. She’s always loved fried chicken; that actually raised something like interest. “That sounds good,” she said. So off we went, cold water sheeting down from the black night sky, to fetch hot fried chicken and mashed potatoes with gravy, and coleslaw.

She ate a drumstick and half each of the tiny portions of potatoes and coleslaw. And for dessert, a Reese’s chocolate peanut cluster.

“It feels better,” Mom says in answer to the question, “How’s your back feel?” But that’s always her answer. She got so tired this morning just taking a shower that when she was done, she put on fresh pajamas and snuggled down onto the sofa again, a heated rice-pack against the painful place. “I think its getting better. It’s not as bad as yesterday. It’s going away.”

She’s been saying that for nearly five weeks now. It’s not getting better. She’s been going twice a week to physical therapy for two weeks. She’s been to the doctor twice (the last time at my insistence), and the he took an x-ray, just to make sure she hadn’t broken something in there. She has osteoporosis; it’s possible. But there were no breaks, no fractures, no cracks or chips or shatters anywhere. Yet this persistent hurt, aggravated by a fall on the sore side when she caught her escaping cat as it darted down the driveway a few weeks after the original injury, just won’t heal. Since my sister arrived from New Mexico, she and I have been bullying Mom (gently, wheedling, not giving up) to call her doctor and see him yet again. To ask him to look a little harder. Because Mom isn’t bouncing back.

She’s a strong woman. Half-Finnish and stoic. I can remember very few times in my life that she’s been sick enough, with anything, to go to bed while the sun’s out. She’s always kept pain and discomfort to herself.  She’s always been a busy person, always in perpetual motion, rarely lighting anywhere, just small and slim and ramrod straight, always perfectly matched and coordinated and put together. Pajamas? In the daytime?

We’re worried about her. She’s weakening.

My own saga continues. My rheumatologist has referred me to an orthopedic physiatrist for the bursitis in my hips, suggesting more steroid injections given with a different technique and, perhaps, a series of physical therapy sessions. While I wait for that appointment (the VA will let me know when it is) I’ll just keep on keeping on, taking tramadol for the pain and being patient. As for the RA, my bloods looked great and the disease remains “under control” in spite of the constant pain in my hands. For the next six months I’ll be seeing the physiatrist instead of my rheumatologist. I’ll not see him again until May.

Well, then.

My sister was supposed to go back to Los Alamos on Tuesday, but she’s thinking about staying a few days past that, uneasy about leaving Mom when she’s still feeling so rough. I’m glad Jami is here. It’s been nice to have a co-conspirator and partner in crime, working to get Mom back on her feet. Mom listens to her; she always has. And she promised us tonight that she’ll call her doctor first thing in the morning.

So I’m going to shut down the computer now, turn off the light, and try to sleep as I toss from one achy hip to the other, listening to the North German rainstorm that has somehow found its way to the Northern California foothills. There’s work to do tomorrow. I’m not as stoic as my sweet Mom, even if her tough Finnish blood runs in my veins.

Thanks for listening.

7 thoughts on “Finnish stoicism

  1. So sorry you and your mum are having such a rough time – glad you’ve got a bit of support in the form of your sister though. Hope things get MUCH better for you soon!


  2. I am glad your sister is visiting and you have some help. Those hips just aren’t giving you a break, are they? Hopefully the PT and injections will help. I was pleasantly suprised at how well PT helped my shoulder. Hang in there!


  3. Awww, Wren, I’m sorry to hear that your mom isn’t getting better. That’s hard to see 😦 I’m glad to hear you have support from your sister in getting your mom back in to see her doctor.

    It’s good to hear that you’ll be getting additional help for your hips. Do you have extra padding on your bed, by chance? I bought two of those egg-carton foam bed cushions and stacked them one on top of the other, and that was a bit more comfortable. It made the bed look pretty lopsided, but certainly helped. Good luck!


  4. Just a thought Wren – but before my PMR hit me like a ton of bricks I used to have episodes where I had something that felt like a pulled muscle in my back that didn’t improve. It improved greatly after the steroid treatment for the PMR – is your mum stiff anywhere else? Hips, shoulders etc? Scandinavians are more likely to get it – and you have an autoimmune disease. It’s not nice – but nicer than some options I guess. Hope she gets sorted soon.


  5. I’m hoping your mom is better by now. But I had an aunt who also had x-rays that didn’t show any breaks after an accident. A couple of months later she finally had a CT-scan that DID show breaks in her foot, so she finally had the proper therapy and used a boot & cane. But it was a shame for the treatment and healing to be delayed, plus having the feeling that “nothing is wrong” but it hurts so much. That’s so depressing. I’d also mention to the doc about your mom not having much appetite and even the pajamas. She probably ate more because you were there, but may not feel like fixing something just for herself. I don’t think there is anything wrong with staying in pj’s all day – – a lot of people go shopping in sweat pants. But you say it is unusual for her, so if it wasn’t just that she felt comfy having her girls home with her, then it may be a concern. I do hope you’re both better by now! – Teri


  6. I hope all is well and the reason we haven’t had a post from you is that you’re busy enjoying the season. Warm wishes for a wonderful holiday for you and yours.


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