Saturday, October 14, 2006

Happy Autumn

Well, hello there. Long time no see. I have excuses for that, which I'll explain below. First I wanted to say that autumn in Utah is the best! My husband doesn't agree, mostly because he didn't love school the way I did. Autumn colors mean it's time to head back to the books--is there anything more exciting? I am consumed with envy for all the kids crawling over campuses everywhere. (College is wasted on the young.) (Well, I guess it's not. I sure enjoyed my college days to the fullest, so I guess it wasn't wasted on me.)

So I read in the paper today about the Utah chick who is making a "comfortable upper-middle class income" by blogging every day and selling spots to advertisers. Sheesh! There's no denying that some people have blog talent. I don't. So, for those (both) of you who ever read this, thanks for hanging with me. That's true love, that is.

Someone asked me once what measures I have taken to improve readership of my blog. Answer: none. It hasn't been a real goal to get more and more readers. I'm not sure what the goal is here, as I've mentioned in earlier posts. But I find that if I start trying to guess what will make more people want to read, I am no longer writing for myself. If I'm trying to please an audience, I might as well do it with my more formal writing.

What's up with that, anyway? Well, I sold another story to the Friend. That makes five this year. But get this: they paid $250 each for the first two, $100 each for the second two, and $75 for this last one. Arrrrggh! I finally called them to ask, basically, if they were trying to give me a hint (and if so, why bother buying at all?). No, they said, they just ran over budget and had to cut way down. Drat. So anything else I have to sell, it would be wiser to wait until the new year. Frustrating since I want to get enough money for another independent study class. I hate not having the money for the next class I want to take.

I've been concentrating on poetry lately (and that's the class I want to take). I polished up a bunch for Kathy Soper to put in her book (published through Segullah--watch for it!). I've got several more on the burner . . . I'm toying with the idea of going for an MFA in poetry, so I need to really buckle down there.

Reading . . . let's see. Lots and lots of people have sent me manuscripts that they want me to critique this last month. I've been rather inundated, actually. That's taking some time. As for books, I read Sarah's Quilt (sequel to These is My Words), two thirds of Part 1 of Don Quixote (I'm sorry, I just can't take any more. It will not get done.), Creative Writing the Easy Way, The Memory-Keeper's Wife. Reading was a little hard this month because of illness.

So the illness. Which is the reason I haven't posted for a while. Can I just extend an apology to all of my friends and acquaintances who suffere from chronic illnesses? Here's what I'm apologizing for: because I didn't realize until this month, when the possibility arose that I might have one, that I had been subconsciously judging people who have them. I found out because of the deep sense of embarrassment and shame I have felt in thinking that I might have one. And through the embarrassment I feel whenever someone asks me how I'm feeling now and I have to answer "lousy" again, or when people ask, "Just what, exactly, are your symptoms?" Why is it so embarrassing? Do I deep down think it's my fault? I don't know. But I'm really bothered by it (the embarrassment). I have never been conscious of judging others who struggle with similar things. But here I am judging myself so harshly. It drives me crazy.

Because I know you're wondering, I'll just say it once here, quickly: I have struggled with exhaustion for several months, breathlessness, a sense of choking, strange sensations in my head of a lack of blood (blackout) and then a rush of blood and pressure, heart skipping a beat. Also itching on the palms of my hands and soles of my feet.

There. I've said it. Weird symptoms, the kind that grouped all together make doctors say things like "chronic fatigue," "fibromyalgia," "anxiety." Which translates as "we don't know what in the world is up with you, you crazy Mormon housewife lady, so how can I get you out of my office?" I've struggled with finding a caring doctor who will listen and ACTUALLY ORDER SOME TESTS instead of whipping out his prescription pad and writing me some anti-anxiety medication.

OK, if this is an anxiety disorder, fine. I'll go on the drugs. I don't have any moral mental blocks about taking needed medication for anything, mental or physical. I just don't want to go on the dang stuff until we rule out some other stuff. Could somebody order me some tests? Please?

The other thing is this: I don't feel any anxiety in my life about anything--except the fact that my heart seems to stop occasionally. There have been anxious times in my life. I have even struggled with depression at times in my life. But not now, dang it! I am feeling better, emotionally, than I ever have. I love my life! My kids are all pretty easy right now. My marriage has never been better. I have things to look forward to, things I enjoy (when I'm not too tired to do them well). I am not depressed! I am not anxious! And I am doing everything right: exercising, sleeping (plenty!), eating pretty darn well. It just doesn't make sense to me.

OK, I'm done. Now you don't need to ask me how I'm feeling. Thanks, though.


Maralise said...

Darlene--I'm sorry to hear about your frustrating symptoms. I have no earth-shattering advice. But, I have found that your gut feelings are as important as a doctor's diagnosis. So, keep searching...and looking...don't be afraid to tell your doctors what you think it could be. They can be surprisingly willing to investigate based on your premonitions. But, more than anything, I hope you feel better no matter how it happens. Stand up for yourself. You deserve to know why and if you're convinced it's not anxiety, then SAY SOMETHING!

Ilove2travel said...

I should have read your blog earlier, before I asked you how you're feeling. You may want to talk with Connie about her health struggles.

Thanks again for taking care of my bleeding child.

Even though I don't post often, I check your blog often. I think it's pretty brave to put your feelings out there. Maybe not as brave as the bath tub scene described in the paper, but pretty brave.


Jen said...

Welcome back!
I've been checking your blog faithfully for weeks, while reading through your archives. I love it! Congratulations on your stories--darn budget cuts! Which issues have your stories? Sorry to hear of your symptoms and your less-than -helpful Drs. How completely frustrating (and scary). Hope today is a good day.

Darlene said...

Maralise: Thanks for commenting. I agree--I should stand up for myself. But twice now I've asked the doctor to order specific tests, and he says, "No. I don't feel it is necessary or applicable here." Arrgh!

It was so good to meet you the other day, and your cute kids!

Barbara: Thanks for being such a good neighbor and friend! It's so nice to have a friend nearby. I still feel shy in this ward.

Connie? Sick? Miss Vitality Runner-Lady? I'd like to get her illness . . .

The blood was no problem at all. Poor kid!

Nice to hear from you! Thanks for not giving up on my blog. Today I have an CT scan and a sleep study. Hmmm. We'll see what happens.

The Friend buys stories before they know when they will print them. Right now they are preparing issues a year in advance. So you won't see anything until at least next year.

Ilove2travel said...

Connie struggles with chronic fatigue. She took up running because exercise seems to be one of the few things that helps. She's also changed her eating habits. For years she struggled just to get out of bed and still does I think. I'm sure she'd share her story and have some great advice.

Maralise said...

Good luck with the can feel like a long road when you're the mystery patient.

Rachel said...

Well this will come out of nowhere...I haven't e-mailed you in ages. (It's Rachel L.) I finally have my computer back, a few months after getting the link to your blog...and I can't believe you're experiencing fatigue! :0( I was all ready to jump out of hiding to comment on something more "exciting." Oh well.

Well...yeah, I'm sort of an "expert" on fatigue and anxiety. At least, on mine. I could send you links and stories and...or nothing if you prefer. ;0) Hard to offend me these days. I also attended the anxiety clinic at UCLA for several years, and I have plenty of opinions on psychiatrist vs. general practitioners etc.

It's been fun to see the success you've been having with your writing. Let me know if I can help you with anything...

Hang in there,

Darlene said...

Rachel! Rachel! Long time no see! How are you? Where are you? I'd love to get an update on your life. E-mail me.

BTW, I hope you didn't read this as saying that I look down on people with chronic problems. I never have--at least not consciously. I always felt sympathy for you--and a deep resentment for the people who treated you so rudely.

I'm just so amazed at the feelings of shame that came out inside me once I thought it might be me. WHERE do those feelings come from? I'm sure you're familiar with it. I guess it's our culture--we take so much pride in being able to accomplish, to get stuff done, to manage with a smile.