The Suicide


Recently a friend of mine committed suicide. He wasn’t a close friend, more of a friend-quaintance; someone who is more of an acquaintance but you run into them frequently and they’re friends with your other friends but the two of you don’t hang out. We participated in some charity photo events together.

He had attained a level of success as a photographer that I dream about. His work was published across several cities, every weekend was booked with top-dollar weddings, he had a studio of his own… In fact, the June calendar on his website shows he’s booked every weekend through the summer wedding season. He made money doing what he loved and that is most every artists dream.

He was in his 40’s. He was engaged once, but the engagement ended. I don’t know why. His current girlfriend was 20 years his junior. They didn’t live together. He regularly fostered kittens from a local shelter. He regularly posted his work on social media.He shot a wedding and posted edited photos online less than a week before he died and posted macro photos of garden flowers days before he died.

His mother died a few weeks ago. He was sad, but normal-sad. He wasn’t the sort of sad that most of us assume suicidal people might be. He wasn’t the sort of un-showered, despondent, sullen, withdrawn sort of sad. He was sad like any other person who lost a parent but didn’t commit suicide. No one saw this coming.

What is most shocking to me is that he achieved his dream. He achieved the dream of running a successful photography business where he could support himself from his art and had thousands of fans. Then he killed himself. He had family, friends, pets, thousands of fans…then he killed himself.

The Explosive Pyrotechnic Shit Show Email

I have many topics I could write about this evening, but it is late so I’ll leave you with this:

I described my mother’s (abusive) behavior as an “explosive, pyrotechnic, shit show” in an email to my sister.

As in:

“…My kids don’t need to be exposed to our mother’s explosive, pyrotechnic, shit show behavior. It’s unfortunate enough that we were forced to deal with her abuse growing up. I refuse to subject my children to her behavior even if only for a weekend while you’re in town…”

I feel like I deserve some type of toxic family literary award for conjuring such an apt description.

Dee did not have a stroke

Dee did not have a stroke. She had the symptoms of a stroke: slurred speech, one side of her face was sagging, she felt dizzy and had a splitting headache. After hours of testing, her doctors concluded she has conversion disorder. Life has been hard for Dee recently. Sometime soon, I’ll write about Dee’s misadventures. For now, her brain has manifested her massive amount of stress as stroke symptoms.

I was glad to pick her up from the hospital in the middle of the night and learn that her condition isn’t life threatening. She may need physical therapy if her sagging facial muscles continue to be a problem.

I drove out to visit Dee today and brought her some groceries. Dee is back to being Dee again – she has been sleeping in the barn waiting for her pregnant horse to foal. She doesn’t have a drivers license or vehicle right now and she didn’t want to ride with me to the grocery store because she worried her horse would give birth while she was gone. Tomorrow I’ll drive out to her place after work to pick up her medicine from the pharmacy and perhaps meet the new foal.

“You Need An Ambulance”

“How old is your she?”, the 911 dispatcher asked.

“Uh. I can’t remember her exact age right now. She was born in 1980…She’s 35, yeah, 35.”

“Ok. Is she in pain?”

“She has a chronic pain condition.”

“She has a condition?”

“No. She has chronic pain. I don’t know that pain would register as a symptom of a stroke to her.”

“Oh, ok. What symptoms is she experiencing?”

“She has slurred speech, neuralgia, and the left side of her face is sagging and numb with no muscle tone. It could be a minor condition like Bell’s palsy, but her family has a history of female stroke in mid-late 30’s. She says she’s also feeling dizzy but has not lost balance.”

“Ok. We’re sending an ambulance out. Are you there?”

“Yes, I’m on the line. I’m not with her. I’m driving to her house right now. She asked me to call 911 because her speech is slurred. She was concerned you wouldn’t understand her.”

“Can she answer questions?”

“Yes. She’s coherent and thinking logically.”

“Ok. We’re on the way.”

Moments earlier Dee called asking if I could take her to the hospital. She had been experiencing symptoms of stroke all day, but did not want to bother me since I was planning to visit her tomorrow. Suddenly Dee’s symptoms worsened so she called for help.

“I’m so sorry.”, she said, “I know you’re coming tomorrow but I think I’m having a stroke. Can you take me to the hospital, please?”

Since Dee lives nearly 30min away from my house, I told her she needed an ambulance. An ambulance is closer, faster, can break speed limits. An ambulance has EMTs who can take care of her if her symptoms suddenly worsen in transit, and can arrange for her to be flown to another facility if needed. The drive to the hospital is 40min in the opposite direction from Dee’s farm. One hour, 10 minutes.

“You don’t need me, honey. You need an ambulance.”, I told her.

Dee asked if I could please call the ambulance for her. Her speech was so slurred she worried the 911 operator wouldn’t be able to understand her or wouldn’t take her seriously.

I pulled out of the driveway and started driving to Dee’s farm while speaking with the 911 operator. The ambulance beat me to her house by more than 20 min. The ambulance was definitely the right call.

Luke’s Learning Assessment

Today was the final session of Luke’s learning assessment (learning disability testing). The session was scheduled for 3hrs, but Luke only lasted 1hr 19min. Not a good sign. Preliminary findings were things I already knew about Luke: he’s impulsive, struggles with anxiety, is a polite and helpful young man, and Luke has a tendency to shut down with little provocation.  Luke has been known to stop talking and stare if he feels even slightly uncomfortable about a topic of conversation. Although Luke doesn’t shut down in my presence, he shuts down with Jonathan all the time. Jonathan lectures and is prone to shouting when he’s frustrated. I sound unreasonably calm all the time – even when I’m intensely frustrated and angry.

The final results of the learning assessment will be revealed the week before Luke starts summer school. Hopefully there will be enough time to start the IEP process. Jonathan has shown little interest in participating in the learning assessment and IEP process. I’ve taken Luke to all three learning assessment sessions. That’s no small feat considering we live on MiddleOfNowhere Mountain. It’s a 30min drive to the school to pick Luke up, a lengthy check out process because I’m not Luke’s bio-parent,  an hour drive to the psychologist’s office, 3-5hrs of waiting in an office (which doesn’t have wifi so I have to take the day off work), and a 30+min drive home after testing is complete.

I hope Jonathan is just weirded out by the process since Jonathan is weirded out by doctors in general. I really hope Jonathan participates once we get results from the assessment. I think Luke really needs Jonathan to change the way he deals with Luke’s studies and grades so Luke can rebuild confidence.

Guaifenesin: Day 7 – The Itching

Today I’m itching all over. All my skin feels crawly and itchy. Did I get into something I’m allergic to? Did someone add fabric softener to my laundry on accident? Am I having a weird guaifenesin side effect? No idea.

My tongue is blistered and sore again. Eating has been difficult because of the TMJ pain. When I eat something that requires chewing, I worry I’ll be overcome with another severe headache.

Aside from the above symptoms, I’ve had less joint stiffness and body pain overall. I did take a nap this evening, but I was moderately tired instead of severely exhausted so that’s an improvement. Still drinking tons of water, but I see this as a positive side effect because drinking water is a healthy habit.

Fibromyalgia Awareness Day- May 12

A detailed, accurate account of how it feels to live with fibromyalgia.


Today, May 12th is Fibromyalgia Awareness Day. I know many people don’t know much about it. The commercials for the drug Lyrica, that I see on television from time to time, say fibromyalgia  is overactive muscle pain, but that doesn’t give it justice. Fibromyalgia is a life changer. It’s a fun taker, It’s a relentless pain giver. Taking one pill, 99% of the time, doesn’t help. I’ve tried Lyrica and my result was 70 pounds of weight gain. Needless to say, I couldn’t stay on it. I have a bag filled with medications, and I still have pain.

These are some of my symptoms: headaches, nerve pain, back pain, chronic fatigue, neuropathy,  irritable bowel syndrome, rib cage pain, carpal tunnel in both hands. I’m in pain when it’s too cold. I’m in pain when it’s too hot. I have dull pain, sharp pain, persistent pain and aching in my shoulders…

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Guaifenesin: Day 6 – Not as good

Struggling with extremely itchy skin today. Cotton mouth is still an issue so I’ve been chugging water. When I got home, I felt exhausted and accidentally took a 2.5hr nap.

Sometimes I don’t feel like I’m up to running a household. I work at least 9hrs a day 5+days a week. I have fibromyalgia and RA. I wake up at 5 or 6A every morning, do chores, get the kids ready, pack lunch, work all day, come home, do more chores, prepare dinner, help with homework, sign papers, pay bills, do more chores yet, and – if I’m lucky – to go bed around 11P. Some days, like today when I took a 2.5hr nap, I feel like I just can’t hack it as a parent. Let alone the head-of-household-bread-winning-home-owning adult.

The fan in the heat pump that runs our air conditioner died this evening as well. Perhaps that’s contributing to my sense of responsibility overwhelm. At least it’s not hot tonight. Tomorrow’s forecast is 96F, however.

Guaifenesin: Day 4 – I fell off a bridge

I’ve felt less cotton mouth-ed today. The autoimmune chest rash is back, but it’s not severe. The nasal blisters are gone, but I still have some small tongue blisters. I momentarily forgot about the blisters since I have them so frequently. For the past 2 days, I’ve been on my feet constantly cleaning and lifting and hauling, but I haven’t had the physical activity hang over where I feel horrible for several days. My hands and shoulders are still pain free.

My left knee hurts, but my left leg has nerve damage issues so sometimes it mysteriously hurts. Interesting story: I fell off a bridge when I was a kid. It wasn’t a very tall bridge, but the single lane type of bridge that allows people in rural areas to cross a creek. I was leaning over the guard rail watching ducks and I slipped, fell over the side of the bridge, down the embankment, and into the rock-filled creek. I was about 9 at the time. Since I didn’t receive medical care, the tendons around my knee grew improperly. I also chipped a bone and the shard of bone caused nerve damage on the left side of my lower left leg. The rheumatologist is amazed that I can walk so well on such a damaged leg. On good days, people can’t even tell that my gait is off.

Guaifenesin: Day 3

Today I’m feeling pretty well over all. Guaifenesin is giving me perpetual cotton mouth, but seems to be helping. After a long week of work, my hands and wrists ache. Today, however, my hands and wrists have felt like hands and wrists that belong to normal people who don’t have a chronic pain disorder. Nice, huh?

My left knee hurts a bit, but not as much as usual. I didn’t need to take my mid-day dose of ultram. Other than the aforementioned cotton mouth, my only other atypical symptom is a slightly sore throat. It’s not strep-throat-sore, but sore like I’ve been yelling all day even though I haven’t been yelling at all today.

The guaifenesin is either really helping, or I’m having a period of symptom remission that coincides with taking guaifenesin. Time will tell.