Once again my body betrays me

Yes it’s a very dramatic title. Unfortunately it’s also true.

I am typing this very slowly because there is something horribly wrong with my right thumb. Yes I am right handed. How did you ever guess?

My thumb is swollen, itchy and sore. It won’t bend properly and it looks like the knuckle has somehow slipped round the side of it. It’s incredibly distracting and it means that I can’t do any of the things I normally do to fill the day. No computer games, no crochet, chores are even harder than usual and typing anything takes ages.

Yes I have sought medical attention. The current working hypothesis is that there’s an infection under the skin and pressing on the joint. I’m back on antibiotics. If they don’t work by Friday there will be blood tests. It might turn out to be gout. Because my body never met an embarrassing and poorly understood health problem that it didn’t want to try out.

Which is all very annoying because I should be working on the novel I want to pitch for Blood Scotland. Or the pitch. And I’m not. Because just typing this little bit has fucked my right hand up even more.

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The consequences of falling down.

Last week I fell in the shower.

My able-bodied readers will probably be a little worried by that statement but reassured that I must be fine if I’m blogging about it. My spoonie readers will be wincing. Us spoonies know how particularly awful it is to fall in the shower.

Allow me to explain. I fall over a lot and I’m rarely injured because I know a little about falling safely. But when you fall in the shower no amount of breakfall technique will save you from injury because there just isn’t the room. When you fall in the shower it will be awkward, you will hit something hard, your body will get twisted.

The second big problem with a shower fall is getting up afterward. You’re on a smooth, wet surface that’s covered in soap. You are also wet and covered in soap. And so are all the hand holds. There’s not enough room to roll over and get onto your knees so unless you fell that way round you’re going to have difficulty getting to your feet. That’s assuming it’s even possible to get up.

In my case it was a close run thing. I twisted my right leg badly and injured my good knee (let’s be honest it’s really only the slightly less shitty knee). I couldn’t get my weight onto my feet. I couldn’t roll over. I had to inch out of the shower stall on my bum, get to the top of the stairs and use the top step to get to my feet. It was horrible. It’s been more than a week and my knee might actually be getting worse.

You might wonder why I haven’t been to the doctor for treatment. That’s because there’s no point. I know from experience that they’re not going to do anything. If I had been forced to call an ambulance to get me up they might have x-rayed my knee but since I haven’t broken anything nothing would have showed up. I’ve probably done some horrible soft tissue damage but since I’m not a hot young athlete there’s no possibility of surgery. Nobody cares how much pain you’re in when you’re an impoverished, fat, old woman.

My knee will either get better or it won’t. There’s not much I can do either way.

Dispatch from planet pain

It’s been a while since I wrote anything about living with a chronic pain condition so it’s time for another update. What fun!

The thing about a variable condition like mine is that while the pain never truly goes away it can sometimes lull you into a false sense of security by being less horrible for a while. And then it comes back full force and you remember why your life sucks.

I’ve been having shoulder trouble for a few weeks because I had dared to enjoy myself by playing video games. I cut right back on that and stretched more and just put up with the pain which is how pain management actually works. It doesn’t solve the problem it just helps you to live with it. Which usually means living less.

That’s not the pain I’m writing about now. Though now I think about them my shoulders do feel like I’m wearing lead epaulettes and I wish they’d stop.

Today I woke up and rolled over in bed and I really wished I hadn’t because it feels like some psychopath filled my pelvis and lower spine with broken glass. Holy crap it hurt. It’s still hurting. It’s hurting a bit less because I’ve taken paracetamol (acetaminophen for American readers) and vaped some CBD (cannabidiol, and yes it is legal in the uk).

What I want to say is that if you know someone with chronic pain and you see them smiling and moving around and apparently fine that doesn’t mean that they’re not actively in pain right now. It just means that compared to how much pain they have been in it’s no biggie for them.

If you also have chronic pain and you’re wondering about the CBD here’s the details. It’s legal in the UK. In the US it’s more complicated. In theory it’s legal at the federal level as long as there’s no THC in it but local laws vary.

I get mine from CBD Life, which is a UK based company though they do ship to other countries. I can recommend their vape liquid and their customer service but I have no first hand experience of their other products. That is an affiliate link. If you buy stuff from them I’ll get money off my next order, because I do buy and use their stuff and I want to buy more.

 

And if you want to buy me a coffee, because coffee does help with pain management, you can do it through Ko-fi.

Exactly how hard do I have to Art?*

*The title of this post was brought to you by this wonderful Chuck Wendig post, ARTING HARD LIKE AN ARTFUL MOTHERFUCKER

There is a myth in the creative industries that I always think of as,

“If you build it they will come.”

Which is just a fancy way of saying,

“If you art hard enough eventually people will notice and the transformative powers of capitalism will turn the attention into money.”

This is not a lie but it’s also not true in any useful sense. Let’s look at the problems with it.

  1. Building it isn’t free.
  2. People have to know about it in order to come.
  3. Even when they know about it most of them won’t come.
  4. Some of the ones that do come will be dicks about it.
  5. You can’t pay your landlord in exposure.

1. Building it isn’t free: Some of you might be ready to jump in and point out that I’m a writer and writing is free. No it’s not. It is one of the cheapest ways to art but it’s not free. I need food, and a device to write on and electricity to power it and internet access to get whatever I write into the world. Even if I wrote with pen and paper, and stole the pen from Argos, and scavenged the paper from recycling bins, and photographed it on a borrowed phone, and posted it using free wifi; I’d still need food and a roof over my head. Also there’s a limit to how many times you can borrow a phone.

2. People have to know about it in order to come: The internet is full of people trying to get other people to look at stuff. Any budding artist is just one more voice in the cacophony. Maybe you get lucky and a tweet goes viral? Perhaps someone famous happens on your work and boosts it? Or neither of those things happens and the same ten friends see everything you do and nobody else ever knows about it.

3. Even when they know about it most of them won’t come: You’d be amazed at how hard it is to get people to look at your stuff. Even when your stuff is finished. Even when they know and like you. Even if it’s the kind of stuff they like. Even if they’ve said they’ll look at it. Most of them just don’t. Maybe they’re worried that it will suck and then they’ll have to tell you that it sucks or lie to you and watch as you make a fool of yourself. Maybe they’re just busy. Maybe it’s just that tendency to underestimate the people you know because how special can they be if they know you?

4. Some of the ones that do come will be dicks about it: Everyone knows that you should never look at the comments. That’s because people are dicks in the comments. If you do attract the attention of someone other than that same ten friends who look at everything you make then eventually someone is going to be a dick about it. They will complain that you’ve made it badly, or that it’s the wrong sort of thing, or that you’re the wrong person to be making it. And if it’s visual art there’s a good chance someone will steal it. And if it gets stolen and you object they’ll be dicks about that too.

5. You can’t pay your landlord in exposure: I have no idea how to monetise art. Every attempt I’ve made has failed. Some people seem to do it effortlessly. Maybe you should ask one of them. Or better yet ask one of those people that you can see working at it because they have skills rather than privilege. Maybe they’ll have some useful advice. I can’t help. I’m stuck here trying to write better because it’s all I know how to do.

If you have enjoyed this bitter rant on the subject of creativity why not prove me wrong by buying me a coffee with Ko-Fi. Or pop over to the Shop of Doom (only open till May 8th) and buy yourself something nice.

Things are not going my way

Gentle readers I beg your patience while I rant for a bit. The last few days have not gone well and the next few aren’t looking great either.

I’m having a major Fibromyalgia flare up. For the last three days I’ve had a muscle spasm in my back so bad that the pain has gone through excruciating and into exquisite. I’m taking Tramadol, Paracetamol and vaping CBD and I still can’t bend without screaming. There is no comfortable way for me to sit, stand or lie. Part of the spasm is over my left kidney and if I started pissing blood it would be a relief because a kidney infection can be treated, kidney stones pass, even kidney failure can be managed.

Fortunately that’s distracting me from the sudden appearance of a hole in one of my back teeth. I think a filling might have fallen out. Or maybe a bit of the tooth has cracked off. I already had a dental appointment this week so that’s lucky. I’m trying really hard to believe that it’s lucky but it’s hard to think straight over the screaming pain from my back.

I’m still not back on my usual eating plan because of difficulty getting the shopping sorted. Between trouble with deliveries and the problem with my back and my spouse’s anxiety being too bad to do the shopping for me I’m having difficulty sorting out a coherent meal plan.

I’m having trouble getting anything done. I started this weekend with a book I’m wanted to read, a film I wanted to watch on Netflix, a film I’m trying to see in the cinema before it leaves a podcast I’m trying to catch up with and a novel that I’m trying to finish writing. In all I managed 15 pages of the book, neither of the films, 3 episodes of the podcast and about 2,000 re-written words of my novel. That’s pathetic.

And the worst of it is this feeling that my life is slipping away from me. Time is passing and I’m not doing anything with it. Precious seconds of my life are ticking by and I am variously paralyzed by pain, or depression, or indecision, or just lack of basic organisational skills.

Diet Update 8

After a very active weekend during which I had a couple of days where I ate less than half my allotted calories I have lost a whole 400g (just under a pound). And I’m in agony. And feeling like shit.

But at least I survived a 3 days of my Mum insisting that I should have a biscuit because they’re only small. She did make sure to tell me that she’s super proud of me for losing weight. It’s nice of her to say so but it doesn’t change the fact that the weight loss is meaningless.

Tomorrow (as I write this it’ll be yesterday by the time it posts) I have an appointment at the leg ulcer clinic. I don’t have a leg ulcer. I assume this is my Doctor trying to get me compression wraps. I predict that I will yet again be sent home with nothing but we shall see.

[Edit: I was not sent away with nothing. I got an actually useful referral. Yay!]

Last update. Diet Page

I can deal with the pain it’s the frustration that really hurts.

So the CBD oil that I’ve been talking about in previous posts here and here is definitely working.

My background levels of pain have greatly reduced and it’s now easier to deal with breakthrough pain. However my right knee has clearly decided to be a horrible bitch about things. It’s swollen and it’s grinding and it won’t reliably bend and it hurts whenever I do foolish things like stand up or sit down or roll over in bed.

And something else has decided to flare up. Something really painful. Something that I really need to see a doctor about but I was too late this morning to get an appointment and I have stuff to do tomorrow that can’t be moved and if I leave it till Friday to see the doctor then I will have reached my own personal defcon 10 of pain.

That’s not 10 out of 10 on the pain scale. That level of pain is just screaming until it stops. Defcon 10 is out of my mind with pain, distraction and frustration. It’s a result of having to just put up with a level and type and location of pain that no-one should have to put up with. Defcon 10 is dangerous because it makes me want to knife 40 people at random. Hopefully the CBD oil will help with this kind of pain.

If anyone is interested I will post links to the kind of vape pen, cartridges and oil I’m using.

Writer’s Guilt II: The revenge.

A few days ago I wrote about my feelings of guilt at not working hard enough towards my writing goals. I wrote about how I’d been playing a lot of World of Tanks rather than writing. I said it was fun but it wasn’t taking me anywhere. Turns out I was wrong. It was taking me in the direction of pain.

One of the problems caused by Fibromyalgia is muscle spasms. Sometimes they come on without an obvious cause but they can be triggered by any repetitive activity or maintaining a the same position too long. Apparently when I play World of Tanks I grip the controller too tightly with my right hand (I use the right stick to aim and the right trigger to fire).

As a result my right arm is now, to use a highly technical medical term, fucked. I can’t feel my fingers, my hand is tingling, my forearm feels like it’s on fire and my bicep feels like I’ve been arm wrestling Thor. My typing speed is a quarter what it usually is and I need help to brush my hair and put a bra on.

It’s so bad I’ve had to break out the painkillers. Let me put that statement into perspective. I have a chronic pain condition. That means I’m always in pain. There’s no point medicating the pain all the time because I have to rely on synthetic opioid painkillers and the more you use them the less effective they are. My aim in using them isn’t to kill the pain but to reduce it to a level that isn’t a constant distraction. Thus I don’t bother with pain medication at all unless the pain is consistently worse than standing on a Lego brick.

To summarize: I’m too sore to write, too high to do chores and I can’t distract myself with video games because that would only make the problem worse. I would really like it if my life could stop sucking for a bit.

Keeping the faith when you have none.

I have no faith. I don’t mean religious faith though I have none of that and haven’t for years no matter how I try. I mean that I have no faith that good things exist far less that they’re ever going to happen to me.

I have no faith in my writing. Nobody wants my stories. They certainty don’t want to publish them. No one will ever want to read them far less pay to read them.

My work will never be finished. It will never be good enough because its mine. There’s no point doing anything with it because no one wants it.

I have tried to not be a writer. I’ve tried not writing. I’ve tried to forget any ambition or desire to write. I’ve tried not to care that my stories are worthless. None of this has worked. It hurts to call myself a writer when I am so clearly not one by any meaningful measure.

It’s like there’s a wall in front of me and I can’t see any way over it. I know that in theory people finish novels and then publish them or get them published. I know that there’s no obvious reason why I can’t be one of the people who does that. But the published authors are all on the other side of the wall. All the advice I see either assumes that I’m on the other side of the wall or that the wall doesn’t exist.

I’m so tired. I’m in so much pain. I have no faith that I’ll ever get over the wall. I have no faith that there’s any point in trying. The only reason I haven’t given up already is that I have literally nothing else to do with my life. I have no purpose or value. There’s no point in chasing happiness or success because nothing is ever going to make me happy and I have zero chance of success.

I recon I’m about 6 weeks away from printing my novel off, binding it by hand and then smacking people over the head with it till they agree to read it. That just seems a lot easier than the alternatives.

New Diet!

I’ve discovered a cool new diet specially for those of us suffering from chronic pain disorders. It’s the “I hurt too much to get food” diet. I’m going to lose so much weight.

All the food is in the kitchen. I am currently not in the kitchen. I’ve already taken the maximum dose of painkillers and the pain is still bad enough to make me feel nauseous. Hobbling through there so I can stand for a while on a leg that thinks it’s got an axe sticking out of it so I can prepare food that my stomach thinks I can’t keep down doesn’t feel like it’s worth the effort.

There’s probably a creative solution to this but the problem with taking the maximum dose of painkillers is that now I’m too full of synthetic opioids to think clearly. Also my face is numb but my fucking knee still hurts. How is that fair?

Bloody knee. I’ve had enough of its bullshit. I didn’t fight off two eating disorders just to fall back into one of them because my knee is a drama queen.