Sunday, July 20, 2014

Chronic Pain Tales and Poesy, 2: Surrender and Conquer

Corpses are meat and bone, but a person is much more than that… This might be one of the reasons why chronic pain—like depression, anxiety and other maladies that affect both mind and body—is so difficult to explain to people who haven’t experienced the hurts this condition can bring to a life.

Chronic pain crushes flesh, cracks bone and chokes the spirit until the mouth wants to scream, scream, scream… without being able to do so because making any sound just hurts too damn much. This kind of agony can (and will most likely) alter almost everything a person does from day to day, and the way she or he approaches tomorrow.

In my case, the need for drastic alterations came slowly. Sometimes I wonder if my unwillingness to let go of activities and behaviors—which at one point I thought made me who I am—was what kept the changes at bay this long; what sent all the uglies my way at the same time… But that’s another post. This entry is to discuss the importance of listening to our minds and bodies, in order to get as much as we can out of life. As always, by “we” I mean “me.”

I’ve had to change a lot of things to accommodate my chronic pain. It hasn’t been easy physically or mentally. I tend to get upset when my body doesn’t want to do the things it always did with so much ease. Let’s use fiction writing as an example. In fewer than five months, my word count has decreased by more than fifty percent. At the beginning, it broke my heart… Then I got angry… After that I spent a bit of time fighting not to feel sorry for myself… working like a beast to reclaim my old self.

Can you see the problem with that kind of thinking, my Wicked Luvs? Of course you can—you aren’t all sexiness and great smiles, you are also brilliant. I didn’t have my same “old self” to “reclaim,” and my bullheadedness (disguised as an obscene form of resilience) was abusing the self I had grown into; the only self I have!

Thank goodness the madness didn’t last too long. My nearly supernatural ability to run my mouth and to listen to souls, who have lived longer than I have, made me privy to a very important piece of wisdom: I had to surrender to the whims of my enemy—mind and body—in order to understand it enough to be able to conquer it.

That’s what I’ve been doing for the past few months: surrendering the things my body can no longer manage. Then v e r y   s l o w l y, I’m embracing new activities and behaviors that bring me pleasure without adding to my pain. And you know, my Wicked Luvs? Every now and again I get to kick the invisible bastard in the teeth. I don’t win every battle—not even close— but I’ve learned to make the enemy submit to my will often enough to make me happy.

I’ve altered the way I sleep, eat, dress, exercise, do chores, travel, interact with others, the way I react to what others have to say (this one takes a lot of work and I’m not all that good at it… yet) and the most difficult thing to do: I’ve changed my approach to writing.

I Write Fewer Words: When I keep my head down for too long, to do things like typing, I get nosebleeds. I can’t be an active member of the writing group I belonged to for the last few years. With 2-5 medical appointments a week, the exhaustion, the nosebleeds… I can’t stay healthy and keep up with the amount of critiquing and writing the group requires of its members. They were extremely kind, even offered to critique my contributions without demanding the same of me. I thanked them and declined. You see, my Wicked Luvs, my body might have been grateful for the respite, but my spirit would have howled in pain at the thought that she couldn’t pull her own weight.

But worry not; I will NEVER allow the invisible bastard to take away the satisfaction I get every time I finish and share a new piece of writing. This is why I started posting poetry like “Fresh” and “Your Lust Is Chronic” and “I Was Me”. Crafting poems keeps my brain housing group in working order and pleases my needy Muse.

And because the Universe loves her witchy writer woman so much, three days after I said goodbye to my old fiction writing group, I received an email from the Creative Director of Imaginary Garden with Real Toads. She invited me to become a member of their poetry writing community. I said yes *giggles*, and I’m having a poetic blast.

I’ve also just started writing and sharing very short flash fiction again. Remember “Neglect” and “Of Blair and Morning Glories”? Well, I just wrote “Petrichor,” a flash with all kinds of layered kick. I hope your prose reading hunger is pacified with these morsels… at least until October, when I plan to serve a main course full of “Blooming Howls”.

So… I’ve surrendered the things I can no longer handle with ease, and have been conquering new things that make my body and mind just as happy. What have you had to give up, my Wicked Luvs, in order to reclaim and hold on to your Selves?

Opening my hand to something Fresh,
encouraging my spirit to hop with newfangled music…
until we can dance with our forever old Self.

Tuesday, July 15, 2014

Of Douchebagginess, Delusions… and White Rice with Coconut Milk

There are levels of douchebagginess and delusions, which most of us will only experience at the most obscure of mythological levels. But every now and then, a royal douchebag turn his nonsense into sounds that almost mimic human words.

Today, I was lying on a massage table with a heat pad on my shoulder—loosening things up before therapy torture—when another patient said to his therapist, “Now I can tell you the difference between the Norse and the Swedish.” The conversation had started last week. The patient had asked the therapist about her culture, and she told him she was Swedish.

“Oh,” she said, taking notes about the patient’s progress. “That’s nice. I didn’t think we were all that different.”

“Very different,” he said, chuckling. “Take you and me. I’m Norse. You work for me. You are here to challenge me because I know I’m better than you. And you know

My head popped up so fast that I’m pretty sure I might have to start getting therapy to treat the whiplash. I could not believe the words that came out of that douchebag’s mouth. I looked at the girl. She was smiling and still taking notes, but her face and neck had flushed a furious shade of red. Mr. Delusional Douchebag continued running his trap for some time, but the therapist maintained her smile and professionalism until he was done.

After the idiot left the area, my therapist came to ask her if everything went well with her patient. “Was he okay today? Better at least?” When the girl just sighed and shrugged, my therapist continued the inquiry. “Did he do anything? What did he say this

“He acted like a douchebag,” I blurted out. “He’s an ignorant ass, a worthless tool, a delusional idiot, an uneducated piece of crap…” I might have said that Thor would be ashamed of him, but I can’t remember. I went on and on and on… Both therapists began to roar with laughter… Then I ran out of descriptors and started laughing, too. People will be people.

Now the White Rice with Coconut Milk recipe. By the way, this is the first time I measure the ingredients to make rice. I’m a loyal follower of the eyeballing cooking method. But my friend Lori is having tummy issues that restrict her diet. Rice seems to be good, so I wanted to share a tasty rice recipe that might be gentle on her tummy:

3 cups of long grain rice
3 cups of water
2 cups of coconut milk
2 tbs. of vegetable oil
1 tsp. of salt

1. Add the oil, salt, water and 1 cup of coconut milk to a cast iron pot (my pot is 4.5 quarts). Bring to a boil.

2. While you are waiting for the first ingredient to start boiling, wash the rice. Make sure you do it right before the water starts boiling, you don’t want it to start softening before time.

3. Add the rice to the boiling pot, and stir once or thrice to keep the rice from sticking too much. Don’t panic if some of it still sticks to the bottom.

4. Ready a piece of aluminum foil that can cover the top of the pot.

5. Once all the liquid evaporates, add the second cup of coconut milk. Stir until the coconut milk is evenly spread.

6. With your spoon, pile the rice towards the middle. That way you keep more rice from sticking. Place the aluminum foil over the top, and cover the pot with its lid.

7. Lower the heat. And cook on low for 28 minutes.

8. Uncover the rice. Be careful not to get burn with the steam. Turn the rice—scoop the bottom towards the top—so that it will cook evenly. Disregard the aluminum foil, cover the pot with its lid, and let it cook for five more minutes.

9. The rice should be tender inside and firm outside, and the grains should not be sticky.

10. Serve it.

11. Eat it.

12. Like it.

13. Yum it. Yes, to yum should be a very active verb.

I’m yumming my rice with a poach egg and some avocado salad with crushed almonds.