I can't remember where I got this, but I have always like it, so I'm sharing it with the rest of you. Hope you like it too.
Me and My Shadow
The Shadow came knocking at my door a few years ago now. At first I did not recognize him, did not let him in. I was sooo sure that the knocks and raps I kept hearing and reacting to were just the down and out person I had become. If you hate yourself and most everything in life, then you should expect to have some aches and pains that go along with it. Part of the “beating yourself up” process, or so I thought. The knocks came closer and closer, louder and louder as time went by. Why? What the (****) is this repetitive rapping? What does it want with me? I have finally picked myself up out of the dumps (thanks Dr.C!), but this thing still beckons me, almost non-stop now. Finally I can ignore the raps no more; I let in the Shadow.
The Shadow got it’s foot in the door, and now will reside with me forever! It never leaves me. It’s there when I lay down, and still there when I wake. It even wakes me during the night to let me know it is still in control. I am not sure what this thing wants or needs, but it MUST go. I have too much to do right now. Mother is still recovering from the horrible wreck that she was in a couple of weeks ago. (The fact that the poor man behind her was crushed to death is weighing heavily on her mind.) And, now, Daddy has had heart surgery. The both need each other, and me, more than ever before. The realization that both of them could have been taken away over the last two weeks is very sobering. I must be strong, oversee their care, and thank God every day that He did not take them yet! I don’t have time for this “visitor” who has come to live with me. It needs to pack it’s bags, and go to stay with someone else; there is no time to feel like this or help myself. My family needs me now!! Christmas is only two weeks away, and it must be as stress less and peaceful as possible for Mama and Daddy.
The Holidays come and go; we all take a deep breath, count our blessings, and return to work. It is still there! “I am NOT going away!” it seems to scream. I try sooo hard to ignore it, blame it on the humbling events of the last month. This thing won’t even let me walk,’ I limp like a little old lady that has severe foot problems. And my neck’ who hit me with that bat? Why has this thing taken up worship in my body to wreak havoc with my life and my sanity? Keep ignoring it, pop more ibuprofen, and don’t give in, I tell myself. So what if I have a headache 24/7? People live with that everyday and still manage to function, so can I! IF I could just get some good sleep, all this would go away. Sleep? What is that? My legs and back feel like I was the one whose car was mowed down by a tractor-trailer, not Mama. This ibuprofen must be a bad batch; it is doing nothing to ease my pain. “I have come to stay”, the Shadow whispers to me’ incessantly now. “Give in, give up, I am your SHADOW now!” I MUST keep going, MUST keep ignoring. After all, there are no visible signs of any problems. They must hurt so bad because of these new shoes. I try sooo hard’ keep fighting; but the bell has rung. Round 10 is over, and Shadow has been declared the winner.!
Even though I feel like I have been severely beaten, I feel foolish and the Dr.’s office. He will get a good laugh from me, the wimp who has a bad case of the flu! I tell him that I hurt all over. My knees, back, neck, and every joint in my entire body feel as if I were beat with a hammer. Make that a meat tenderizer mallet on my feet. I have had two large babies, passed two kidney stones (one while 5 months pregnant), and had two surgeries. I have been well acquainted with pain, why can I not shake this? I have never brought home pain medicines from surgeries!! I was uncomfortable, yes, but was able to get by with some Tylenol, and a lot of determination to stay away from drugs. That was then, this is now. I would give my right arm for just one shot of morphine! It might wear off in a few hours, but the break would help me to reload. The doctor asks a lot of questions about family history. Seems he suspects I may have Lupus, or Rheumatoid Arthritis, but there is no family history. “We’ll run some tests, and should have some idea of what’s going on in a few days”. He gives me a cortisone shot; some arthritis medicine samples and sends me on my way.
When I return a few days later, still in intense pain, he has good reports on all the blood work. Great!, I am thinking. But no, no he mentions some weird work: FIBROMYALGIA. What? Could that possibly make me feel beaten and left to die? Yes, he tells me, and sends me off to the rheumatologist for confirmation.
I do some intensive research before the visit. This stuff sounds pretty miserable! Could that be the Shadow that follows me through my day to day life? All my life my doctors have told me to quit trying to be so tough. “There’s nothing wrong with admitting you’re in pain and taking this Percocet a few days. You have just had major surgery, with a 9-inch incision across your torso. “Me? Need pain meds? NOT! Ok, maybe one or two the first day home, but that’s it. Now, some weird sounding disease wants to become my companion? The Rheumatologist asks a lot of questions, does his “points” exam, and confirms fibromyalgia. “In fact, I would say you have CFS also, as I have never seen such wide spread and extreme problems. Can I use you if we ever have a fundraiser? You would make the perfect ‘poster child’ for the cause. I have only had one other patient with as extreme symptoms as you in all my years of practice. Here, fill these meds, make and appointment across the hall for some PT, and report back to your PCP. I will be in touch if that benefits thing ever comes to be. Good Luck.”
I was devastated. Not only had this constant Shadow moved in’ it had locked the door, thrown away the key, and would imprison itself in my now dilapidated body for eternity. Then to add insult to injury, this tall, goofy looking, sniffling jerk tells me how physically ill I am, but go back to my regular doctor for my meds, as he can not help me anymore than my own PCP!
I finally know what is wrong, actually being diagnosed MUCH quicker than most victims, but that is not a comfort right now. The Shadow continues to kick me, and beat me non-stop, and repeatedly about the neck, legs, and feet. This stupid one at bedtime Flexeril is a joke. Maybe I should try Jack Daniels; it’ is legal, and more readily available than getting a doctor to offer anything for relief. My PCP immediately stops the muscle relaxer, wanting to save them for a last resort. I begin using Elavil and prescription strength arthritis medications. Little by little, the pain is going down, a notch at a time. Not going away, but becoming more bearable. Is it the meds, or have I just become used to the pain. The Shadow pulls out that meat tenderizer again, and proves to me it is the meds. Over the next few months I am beginning to deal with this fairly well. In fact, I even had a day or two that I almost felt normal! The Shadow must be tired, maybe even packing his bags. Wham, Crack, with his mallet! Oh no, it is still very much here!
I must learn to pace myself, and learn to live with a lot more dust and dirt than I ever thought was possible! After being home with my children for 13 years, I had started a part time job just months before the Shadow came. I love my job, which puts me with children every day. They have a unique way of lightening the moments, and making you forget for just a minute. But, the job is very physically demanding, and I am more and more physically unable to do it. I am hanging on, afraid that giving up that daily outing will prompt me to ‘give up’. Over time, the Shadow settles in deeper and deeper. It likes to toy with my mind, giving me just a tiny break, then just when I begin to enjoy it, pulls out it’s mallet and begins it’s work again. There is no way around this, when it is in a mood to beat me up, I have no choice but to lie back and take it. Sooner or later, the beatings let up for a breather. That is when I regroup; prepare for the next round.
My PCP has tried every drug combo that he is familiar with. He has been very concerned, and done his best to try to help me. (I have probably paid for both of his kids’ college education by now, so he BETTER be nice! Hehehe) I need more though; I need support…..others who understand the frustrations, the pain and the “dirty” looks you get from friends and family. Someone who has their own Shadow, and can give me tips on learning how to coexist with it. Through the internet, I have met sooo many of you who live with your Shadows. Your advice, encouragement, have enabled me to make Shadow a “real” shadow; Shadows follow you, and with your help, it FOLLOWS, but I AM IN FRONT!!! Thank you ever so much for all your love and support!!
Note: Since writing this page, Sham, like many of us, has been forced to stop trying to hold down a job.