For All My Friends With Hidden Ailments (both physical and mental) – This One’s For You.

I haven’t rambled in awhile, mostly because I’ve been pretty busy rambling. For real. As in – moving.

Moving can be a daunting task (as I’m sure you know) but I truly think that, for me, far less daunting than for most. Only because I have done it so often (this was my 6th move in ten years) so I’m a pro and a bit of a natural gypsy anyway. No pack-ratting for this girl, no sir. My basement is for Christmas decorations and old photo albums. Period.

It wasn’t easy but I de-sentementalized (yes I just made up that word) about three moves ago and quite literally taught myself to LET GO. Of stuff. I still have stuff but instead of every piece of fridge art my son ever drew, I have a few of the best. I kept a few pieces of my mother’s vast china collection and still cherish the two plates that my grandparents brought from Russia (in the one small trunk they were allowed) in 1924. But my stockpile of stuff is sweetly small, just the way I like it. I don’t need a lot of stuff, just the right stuff. You wouldn’t believe how much stuff (including clothes) I give away every year.

I’m sorry … did you think I was going to write about de-sentementalizing and stuff? Actually no. That’s merely the prelude to my wee rant today; my wee rant about expectations and physical limitations. Because that is what this most recent move has illuminated to me. I have physical limitations and no matter what the heart and brain and peanut gallery might suggest, my body always wins the day. Usually painfully.

This recent relocation involved a certain amount of new-digs overhaul. Not the same amount as, say, Move #4 which was pretty much a complete re-do but certainly enough work to keep my fabulous beau in full-time work for weeks. New bathroom vanities, taps, mirrors and towel racks, new kitchen counter-tops and back-splash and loads of painting. And so he painted. Lots and lots of walls and a cathedral lobby and a stairwell and bathrooms and a few black accent walls.

What did I do during this time? I did what I do best. I established “The Vision” for this new home. I chose paint colours, vanities, bought some new stuff, arranged furniture, decided where pictures and mirrors would hang, rearranged furniture (with his muscle) and bought a bit more stuff. Oh, and I (almost) single-handedly replaced every door knob and handle not only in the kitchen but on a few closet doors to boot. Damn, you should see me with a screw-driver!

And then my charming son visits and comments that it looks like perhaps my beau is doing all the work whilst I lounge about, nibbling bon-bons and sipping wine. Naturally I take huge offense. I mean just because I happened to be sipping wine at that moment doesn’t mean that’s all I ever do. There’s laundry and dishes and grocery shopping and cooking and all those girlie jobs that I gravitate toward with nary a complaint. I just don’t fucking paint, okay???

There are two reason for this. The first is that I lack the patience to do anything that requires patience. And painting requires patience. Control. A lot of prep work and then more patience. Not exactly my forte.

The second is my neck. My silly squashed aching troublesome neck.

Allow me to explain.

When I was 11 I fell off a galloping horse and landed on my head. Explains a lot, I know. But in all seriousness I sustained a big fat concussion and my C5 and C6 neck discs were compressed and constricted. My pelvis and spine were out of alignment before I was a teenager.

Fast-forward to the end of my band-days career and witness a rag-tag group of weary musicians traveling home after a two-month tour and a million miles. Our sweet little van/trailer combo gets rear-ended by a Mack truck (driver fell asleep) and guess who suffers the worst whiplash of all time? Yep. Me and my already troublesome neck.

Months go by and my C5 and C6 get angrier and angrier, particularly on my right side (and I am right-handed). I try to keep up with chiropractic and massage and then branch out to physio and acupuncture and pretty soon I’m living on codeine and ice packs and I am in tears at least once a day. So, at my doctor’s urging, I visit a neurosurgeon. After viewing my x-rays his words cut to the bone (pun intended): You can either learn to mange the pain or I can operate on your neck. It’s never going to get any better and the degeneration will most certainly get worse as you age. So dear, manage or surgery – your call.

Since then I have learned to manage. Interferential current (Dr. Ho) has been a godsend. Ice is always a good thing. And I’ve never needed more than an Advil to get me through a night. But it’s really not the treatment that is important. It is the prevention. I try not to lift anything heavier than a grocery bag (and I even ask for carry-out on occasion). I stopped driving a stick so that my right arm didn’t have to work so hard. Even when I open a door I push with my elbow so as to decrease the strain on my neck. I sleep on a memory foam pillow. I’ve given up lawn-mowing and weed-whacking and I try to avoid any activity that requires repetitive motion with my right arm. No more golf, no more tennis (I sucked anyway) and no more fly-fishing.

Kidding. I never did that anyway. But you get the picture. If I love my neck, my neck loves me back. Don’t get me wrong – I still get headaches and knots in my shoulders the size of Gibraltar and days when I can’t turn my head. But I am managing.

Which brings me back to the damn painting.

I finally decide that I will paint our new front door. It’s just one tiny little door for heaven’s sake – how hard can it be? As it turns out – very hard. Not the painting itself but the aftermath. After three coats of hot pink primer (I’m sure my new neighbours thought I was a nutball but it’s a lovely bright red now and looks fantastic) I had a killer headache for days. No amount of Advil touched the pain. My neck had its say loud and clear. Misters C5 and C6 once again affirmed who is in charge here. It sure as hell wasn’t me and my paint-brush.

And thus we come to the point of this rant: Just because a person looks and generally acts fit and healthy, do not assume that they are not without hidden maladies. Do not assume that they are lazy if they don’t keep up with what you in your infinite wisdom think is appropriate. Do not assume that you know shit about someone else’s health issues because you most probably do not. And do not assume that they don’t paint just because they lack patience. Or don’t want to.

Okay, truth be told I lack patience and thus do not want to paint. But it goes deeper than that. Way deeper. Just ask my neurosurgeon.

For all my friends battling “hidden” ailments (whether physical like fibromyalgia or mental like depression) – this is for you. Because we don’t all wear our infirmities on our sleeves and sometimes all we hope for is a little understanding. Then maybe a glass of wine and a bon-bon.

After my three coats of groovy hot pink primer my fabulous beau refused to let me paint further. The three coats of glossy red that now adorn our entry – all him. Lovingly. Because he witnessed my pain and my frustration and my Advil-gulping and said “no more”. It’s not worth it.

It’s not. I have every intention of getting through the rest of my days neurosurgery-free. And if that means painting-free as well, so be it.

I have lots of patience for cooking and doing laundry. Seriously, I’m actually quite a catch. 🙂

About winesoakedramblings - The Blog of Vickie van Dyke

Writing is therapy. Wine is therapy. Writing while drinking wine is the best therapy. Reading while drinking can also be fun. Listening while drinking is also fun so check out my podcast! And then there's that book (memoir) that I wrote: Confessions of a Potty-Mouthed Chef: How to Cheat, Eat and be Happy! My life has provided me with a wealth of inspiration. Maybe something here will inspire you too? ~Vickie
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3 Responses to For All My Friends With Hidden Ailments (both physical and mental) – This One’s For You.

  1. says:

    Vicki, you sure have a terrific beau to recognize your pain & take over. Like you, I also have unseen physical ailments (two knees with severe arthritis, with surgery on the horizon). Also like you, I have a lovely guy to take over when the going gets tough. Love reading your ramblings!

  2. Thanks Cathy. I’m pretty sure at our age everybody’s got something. Good luck with your knees!

  3. Love this story as you know I can relate. You are right as everyone has a “something” . Ain’t it great when we have friends and family that can help us when we need it, or recognize the days when we may just need to spend that extra few hours in bed. I am lucky enough to have a hubby that knows how much bringing my morning coffee before I get out of bed, means to me! Thank you for so eloquently bringing a subject so many of us suffer from to light in your special way!
    I am so glad you have someone special to take over the wheel when you need it as well !
    xo Arlene

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