To all my friends …

May the blessing of light be on you, light without and light within. May the blessed sunshine shine on you and warm your heart till it glows like a great peat fire, so that the stranger may come and warm himself at it, and also a friend.

And may the light shine out of the two eyes of you, like a candle set in the two windows of a house, bidding the wanderer come in out of the storm, and may the blessings of the rain be on you — the soft, sweet rain. May it fall upon your spirit so that all the little flowers may spring up and shed their sweetness on the air. And may the blessings of the Great Rains be on you, may they beat upon your spirit and wash it fair and clean, and leave there many a shining pool where the blue of heaven shines, and sometimes a star.

And may the blessing of the Earth be on you — the great round earth, may you ever have a kindly greeting for those you pass as you’re going along the roads. May the earth be soft under you when you rest upon it, tired at the end of a day, and may it rest easy over you when at the last, you lay out under it, may it rest so lightly over you that your soul may be off from under it quickly and up and off, and on its way to God. And now may the Lord bless you all and bless you kindly.

– Traditional Irish Blessing

Living in the fast lane

Sunday morning, Christmas week. It’s early, quiet, no sounds but those of thundering cat’s paws up and down the carpeted stairs as they play a rousing game of tag-you’re-it. Mom’s sitting up in bed with her coffee, reading the newspaper. I’m sitting propped against the headboard too, but I’m tapping on the computer, and I’m waiting the prescribed half hour for my weekly osteoporosis pill to dissolve in my stomach before I get a first, heavenly cup of coffee for myself.

I love that first cup of the day. When I read the directions for taking that first Fosamx pill I was appalled.  “Take with at least 8 oz. of water. Do not eat or drink anything else for 30 minutes. Remain upright; do not lay down during that 30 minute period.”  What? I couldn’t even have coffee?

Not even coffee. Eight weekly doses later I know that 30 minutes passes quickly if I absorb myself in a book or reading the headlines on my laptop. It’s not so bad.

My Mom is doing great. What a difference from last Christmas, when she was totally knocked flat by sciatica, weakness and nausea, far too ill for holiday company. Today she’s busy and bouncy and so jazzed by the idea of Christmas that the whole house is decorated with Santas and reindeer and poinsettias and ornaments and twinkling lights. Yesterday she came skipping downstairs with a stack of kitchen towels in her arms. “Look what I found!” she said, smiling. “Christmas dishtowels!” Sure enough, they were all covered with snowmen, Christmas trees and elves. “I had them put away in that trunk upstairs,” she said, pleased as punch. “I’m so glad I found them!”

She’s eighty.

And I’m doing all right. Hip bursitis continues to have me firing on three cylinders most of the time, but after consultation with an actual orthopedic surgeon, I’ll soon be starting a new round of PT, focusing on ultrasound therapy. If that doesn’t work, I’ll either learn to accept this constant, variable pain and its corresponding limp as a forever thing, or be bold and go with The Knife (surgical trochanteric bursectomy of both hips). I’m not sure which I’ll choose in the end, but I’m not really convinced that more PT will make any difference. Fingers are crossed.

And my ol’ rheuma-dragon? He remains sleepy, only occasionally chewing on the odd joint like a drowsy baby gumming a pacifier. Of course, unlike a baby my dragon has sharp teeth, so the gnawing isn’t particularly pleasant. It’s generally confined to my hands, though, and it’s bearable. It only slows me down a smidge. I remain deeply grateful to my rheumatologist for the cocktail of DMARDs he’s having me swallow each morning and night. Without them I’m sure I wouldn’t be enjoying this current freedom from agony. I’m distinctly aware, too, that it can change at any moment.

So why haven’t I been posting here at RheumaBlog? Until this moment, I’ve still been fighting an ugly bout of writer’s block. You know how it is. You start writing with enthusiasm, stop to read what you’ve written, and notice that your words are about as airy, warm and spirited as thick, cold mud. So you go back and change a word here, another word there. Nope, doesn’t help. The graf still plods like a half-dead mule. You rearrange a sentence. Another. Oh, cripes–now it’s worse than it was when you started! You delete the whole thing in disgust and start over again. A few minutes in, you hear those famous, ominous Borg-ish words in your mind: “Resistance is futile.”  Great. Fine. I’ll just play some Solitaire, get my mind off writing. I’ll tackle it again in a while, when I’m fresher.

Four or five days later you try again, only to find your mind and your words still hopelessly mired in muck.

So there’s that. And, with Mom feeling so good, I’ve been, well, kinda busy. There’s just not much time to spend in prosy contemplation when she’s on her feet with her key wound up tight. There’s always something she needs to do—and that she needs my help with. When she finally rests, she immediately turns the TV on. Since Mom’s hard of hearing (and like most elderly folk, unwilling to go to the trouble and expense of hearing aids), she turns the volume on the thing way up.  This is not conducive to writing anything more complicated than a grocery list. It’s funny. I used to write news stories with phones ringing constantly, reporters asking me questions, editing other stories, deflecting locals with complaints… and all of that while the police scanner on my desk blatted assault and mayhem. On deadline. Now I need silence and time to write? Sheesh. I’m pathetic.

Finally, I’ve been spending two days and a night each week at my aunt and uncle’s house, where I’m too busy to sit down and write. Last week, I also took another elderly family friend to and from his appointment for laser cataract surgery and then, the next day, the follow-up appointment. Oh, and did I mention? My Mom’s brother from Washington, DC was here a couple of weeks ago for a five-day, whirlwind visit.

And now Christmas is nearly here, full of last-minute-shopping, gift-wrapping, and the day itself filled with family and feasting (which I need to plan, grocery shop for and cook while trying to keep Mom from overdoing it).

Hmmm. Now that I’ve written all that down, I’m not as embarrassed about not posting to RheumaBlog. How ’bout that?

I promise I’ll write about Sir Peter in Cologne and Cessna-landing before too much more time passes. After the holidays, okay? In the meantime, please know that I’m thinking about all of you, reading and commenting at your blogs when I get a few minutes free, and wishing every one of you warmth, peace, comfort and joy, not just during the holiday season but for always. I’ll be back soon.