I listen to Radiohead
when I contemplate killing you—
I want to smash your glass and
get at the inside of your meaning.
Shells tell different truths—
look at me.
I’m right and tight
with my plastic teeth,
and painted eyes that never blink.
We mislead, you and me.
© Kindra M. Austin
came begging again
at my doorstep; I turned him
away. Got no use for gods at play.
Too much decease has grown me up.
I am weeds, immune to
disease, and I only live
in order to survive.
But to what end?
is the paparazzi—
always trying to catch
me crazy, display me
for eyes, judgmental.
Mental Health Care
is a one line joke.
I am weeds, and I
© Kindra M. Austin
Every day it does reign, a
melancholic melody made for only
Deluge of disquiet
comprises choral pessimists
repeating in my head.
beats heart that’s damn near dead.
Dirges designed for only
Though it does reign—my
seek the one to share
© Kindra M. Austin
Despite the pain I live with every day, I often do forget that I’m not twenty anymore–until I hand down to my girl some vintage band tees too small for me now. Goodbye Fleetwood Mac tank top, and Rolling Stones long sleeved t-shirt. See you around, Abbey Road with the small hole in the armpit. Rick Springfield, you’re next, dude. And poor Peter Frampton, my beloved…I promise you’ll live on in the hands of Nicole. She’ll treat you right. I just can’t stretch you across my boobs anymore. Okay, so my boobs aren’t the real problem. I’ll be thirty-nine in December, and I’m a good deal heavier everywhere than I was twenty years ago.
Thank you, Fibromyalgia—you really do cramp my style, and by that I mean you’ve made me fat. My bell bottom jeans just don’t fit right anymore, and I wonder who I am when I go out in yoga pants and sweatshirts. You’ve taken my identity and my will to give a fuck. I throw my hair up in Pebbles buns now, and wear my glasses every day. I wear slip on shoes, for fuck’s sake. Granted, my shoes are colorful and cute as fuck, and I rock a messy bun, especially when I’m wearing glasses. I refuse to allow you to take away my good humor. You take away my concentration; sleep; self-esteem; sanity; appetite; motivation; and MY T-SHIRTS, among loads of other things…you can’t have my goddamned humor, too.
I thank the Universe for Nicole. My girl reminds me who I am better than anyone. I had a lovely day with her yesterday, full of laughs and stimulating conversation. So there’s another thing Fibromyalgia and my other health issues cannot take away from me—my daughter, and our beautiful relationship.
I know I’ve posted this song a million times before, but I’m posting it again. This is the song that I would play when Nicole was a baby—when she’d wake up crying in the night. I’d hold against my chest, and dance her back to sleep. My special babe. I’d be nothing good without her.
Fibromyalgia, insidious onset (yeah fucking right). Symptoms include:
- Fatigue, worsened by physical exertion or stress (CHECK)
- Activity level decreased to less than 50% of pre-illness activity level (CHECK)
- Recurrent flu-like illness (CHECK)
- Sore throat (CHECK)
- Hoarseness (CHECK)
- Tender or swollen lymph nodes (glands), especially in neck & underarms (CHECK)
- Shortness of breath with little or no exertion (CHECK)
- Frequent sighing (CHECK)
- Tremor or trembling (CHECK)
- Severe nasal allergies (new or worsened) (CHECK)
- Cough (CHECK)
- Night sweats (CHECK)
- Low-grade fevers (CHECK)
- Feeling cold often (CHECK)
- Feeling hot often (CHECK)
- Cold extremities (hands and feet) (CHECK)
- Low body temperature (below 97.6)
- Low blood pressure (below 110/70)
- Heart palpitations
- Dryness of eyes and/or mouth (CHECK)
- Increased thirst (CHECK)
- Symptoms worsened by temperature changes (CHECK)
- Symptoms worsened by air travel
- Symptoms worsened by stress (THAT’S A BIG 10-4)
- Headache (CHECK–MIGRAINE)
- Tender points or trigger points (DON’T FUCKING TOUCH ME)
- Muscle pain (CHECK)
- Muscle twitching (CHECK)
- Muscle weakness (CHECK)
- Severe weakness of an arm or leg (CHECK)
- Full or partial paralysis of an arm or leg
- Joint pain (CHECK)
- TMJ syndrome (MAYBE)
- Chest pain (CHECK)
- Eye pain (CHECK)
- Changes in visual acuity (frequent changes in ability to see well)
- Difficulty with accommodation (switching focus from one thing to another)
- Blind spots in vision
- Sensitivities to medications (unable to tolerate a “normal” dosage) (UMM, DUH)
- Sensitivities to odors (e.g., cleaning products, exhaust fumes, colognes, hair sprays) (YES, YOU FUCKING STINK)
- Sensitivities to foods (CHECK)
- Alcohol intolerance (THANK FUCK, NO)
- Alteration of taste, smell, and/or hearing
- Frequent urination (CHECK)
- Painful urination or bladder pain (CHECK)
- Prostate pain
- Worsening of premenstrual syndrome (PMS)
- Decreased libido (sex drive) (UNFORTUNATELY)
- Stomach ache; abdominal cramps (CHECK)
- Nausea (CHECK)
- Vomiting (YEP)
- Esophageal reflux (heartburn) (CHECK)
- Frequent diarrhea (THANKS, IBS)
- Frequent constipation (AGAIN, THANKS, IBS)
- Bloating; intestinal gas (BEANO DOESN’T HELP)
- Decreased appetite (I WISH)
- Increased appetite (LE SIGH…)
- Food cravings (THAT’S FUCKING NORMAL, DUDE)
- Weight gain (UGH)
- Weight loss
- Lightheadedness; feeling”spaced out” (CHECK)
- Inability to think clearly (“brain fog”) (THAT’S CALLED COGNITIVE IMPAIRMENT. CHECK)
- Seizure-like episodes
- Syncope (fainting) or blackouts
- Sensation that you might faint
- Vertigo or dizziness (CHECK)
- Numbness or tingling sensations (CHECK)
- Tinnitus (ringing in one or both ears) (CHECK)
- Photophobia (sensitivity to light) (DARKNESS IS MY FRIEND)
- Noise intolerance (SHUT THE FUCK UP)
- Feeling spatially disoriented (CHECK)
- Dysequilibrium (balance difficulty) (CHECK)
- Staggering gait (clumsy walking; bumping into things) (CHECK)
- Dropping things frequently (CHECK)
- Difficulty judging distances (e.g. when driving; placing objects on surfaces) (CHECK)
- “Not quite seeing” what you are looking at
- Hypersomnia (excessive sleeping) (CHECK)
- Sleep disturbance: unrefreshing or non-restorative sleep (CHECK)
- Sleep disturbance: difficulty falling asleep (CHECK)
- Sleep disturbance: difficulty staying asleep (frequent awakenings) (CHECK)
- Sleep disturbance: vivid or disturbing dreams or nightmares (CHECK)
- Altered sleep/wake schedule (alertness/energy best late at night) (CHECK)
- Difficulty with simple calculations (e.g., balancing checkbook) (I CAN’T MATH)
- Word-finding difficulty
- Saying the wrong word (CHECK)
- Difficulty expressing ideas in words (CHECK)
- Difficulty moving your mouth to speak
- Slowed speech
- Stuttering; stammering
- Impaired ability to concentrate (CHECK)
- Easily distracted during a task
- Difficulty paying attention
- Difficulty following a conversation when background noise is present (CHECK)
- Losing your train of thought in the middle of a sentence (WHAT?)
- Difficulty putting tasks or things in proper sequence
- Losing track in the middle of a task (remembering what to do next) (DAMN IT!)
- Difficulty with short-term memory (DID I EAT BREAKFAST?)
- Difficulty with long-term memory
- Forgetting how to do routine things
- Difficulty understanding what you read
- Switching left and right
- Transposition (reversal) of numbers, words and/or letters when you speak
- Transposition (reversal) of numbers, words and/or letters when you write
- Difficulty remembering names of objects (CHECK)
- Difficulty remembering names of people (CHECK)
- Difficulty recognizing faces
- Poor judgment
- Difficulty making decision (CHECK)
- Difficulty following simple written instructions
- Difficulty following complicated written instructions (CHECK)
- Difficulty following simple oral (spoken) instructions
- Difficulty following complicated oral (spoken) instructions (CHECK)
- Difficulty integrating information (putting ideas together to form a complete picture or concept)
- Difficulty following directions while driving
- Becoming lost in familiar locations when driving
- Feeling too disoriented to drive (CHECK)
- Depressed mood (CHECK)
- Suicidal thoughts (CHECK)
- Suicide attempt(s)
- Feeling worthless (CHECK)
- Frequent crying (CHECK)
- Feeling helpless and/or hopeless (CHECK)
- Inability to enjoy previously enjoyed activities (CHECK)
- Increased appetite (CHECK)
- Decreased appetite
- Anxiety or fear with no obvious cause (CHECK)
- Panic attacks (CHECK)
- Irritability; overreaction (FUUUUCK!)
- Rage attacks: anger outbursts with little or no cause (LOOK THE FUCK OUT)
- Abrupt, unpredictable mood swings (CHECK)
- Phobias (irrational fears) (CHECK)
- Personality changes (CHECK)
- Rashes or sores (CHECK)
- Eczema or psoriasis
- Aphthous ulcers (canker sores)
- Hair loss (I’LL BE SHOPPING FOR WIGS SOON)
- Dental problems
- Periodontal (gum) disease
pain keeps me awake
hubby snores content in bed
I sit at my desk
cat rubs against my ankles
and life is good; I’m happy
If you don’t have a chronic illness, I suggest you find one, grab hold of it, and hand over control. Life is much simpler when you have something legitimate to blame.
- If you feel like cutting out of work early, your illness is the best excuse to walk out in the middle of your shift, head held low in shame.
- If you wake up in the morning in so much pain that you cannot move, you can have your spouse call in for you; then you’ll have the whole day free to hurt in peace.
- When you decide your place of employment expects too much of you, you can apply for intermittent leave; if you’re approved, you’ll have as many days off a week as you want to cry, and question your value as a productive member of society.
- When you realize a life of leisure is better than punching a time clock, quit your job; questioning your value as a member of your family is only a small side-effect of giving up your job/career/income. Money…who needs it? Fulfillment…that’s what Netflix is for.
- Did you make plans with your friends, then decide you aren’t well enough to even shower and dress in grown up clothes? Chronic Illness will get you out of that dinner you’ve been looking forward to.
- Your daughter is playing her last band concert as a senior in high school? The chronic pain will excuse you from attending. You were never proud of her, anyway.
- Don’t feel like fucking your husband? Chronic pain.
- Don’t feel like grocery shopping? Or cooking a meal for your family? Chronic pain.
- Travelling to Grandma’s for Christmas is going to be a drag? Chronic pain.
- Too lazy to tie your own fucking shoes???
The benefits are limitless. Yes, you’ll have to explain yourself to your friends and family who are too goddamned ignorant or uncaring to understand. But fuck them. This is about you. Everything is about you, as it should be. Because you’re special–too goddamned good. This is your life, after all.