I know, that isn’t politically correct but I am not thinking or writing about those who suffer from mental illness. I am talking about those of us who suffer everyday who are driven off the radar by that pounding, throbbing, stabbing or aching pain each time we move, breath or urinate. If you are one of us, then you know. Oh yes, you know. We become forgetful, angry, sad, depressed and so many more emotions they are legion. Did I say forgetful? You know, like “What day is it today?” We also become nasty, crabby and confused.
Apparently, the term “to be nuts” began in jolly old England, in 1785, meaning to be out of your head for someone, meaning to be fond of, the head being the nut shaped vehicle. It evolved and is recorded again a hundred years later as “to be off one’s nut” a metaphor for the head as the nut, and meant you were insane. “Out of one’s gourd” meant the same thing. Apparently, the early expressions are not in current usage in Britain and instead they are saying, “He’s a right nutter.” Over here in the USA we say, “He’s nuts,”, “You’re nuts”, or “I’m nuts today.” I wanted to clarify so you didn’t think nuts meant another common expression for a different part of the anatomy. Are we all clear?
So, what are we to do about it? What if we have a condition that is not and will not get better? Perhaps, we have a deteriorating condition that is getting worse each year? Of course, it’s depressing and unbelievably sad but do we give up while we are still breathing? It doesn’t work. I’ve tried giving up many times but for me, no go. There is just too much beauty, love, and fun out there in the world, I can’t pull it off. I’ve tried going to bed for a day or two, again drives me nuts. I often try running around in my PJ’s all day invariably have a plant, inside or out, calling my name. I can hear it, “Hey Mom, I’m dry. I need a drink of water and while you’re at it, pour in a little fertilizer, would ya?”
Life beckons to me and to you. Spouses, children, grandchildren, housework, pets and friends are there, they exist and if we care, through the pain, we get up, you and I and we move in any manner possible; by cane, via wheels, with a walker; we move, don’t we? Hunger is another great motivator. My husband is a terrific guy and if you collapse or choke he could probably save you as he is an RN but cooking, not so much. His cooking is borderline lifesaving. He makes great scrambled eggs, toast, cereal from a box and can nuke a frozen Swanson dinner but that’s the end of his repertoire. Oh, almost forgot, he is great about going for “take-out.” He is a meat and potato guy and I am a vegie and fruits girl. Shopping can also be tricky. I’ve recently discovered online shopping from a local market or two when you drive out to pick it up. It’s great. Not as great or inspiring as wandering around the store but very convenient on those days you must.
You see, life beckons. Each day as I awake and am reminded of pain in many locations on this body, I wonder what the day will bring. Will it be a day when I will achieve a great deal? For me that means about three tasks. Shopping counts as all three. Washing a load of clothes is one, cooking dinner is another three, and so forth. In medicine we call it triaging. In life we call it prioritizing. If I don’t do this and follow my own plans and rules and push it too far, then I get nuts. Pure nuts. Overdoing it is a difficult line to recognize. Why? Because it usually comes after the fact when I am rolling around in bed, in so much pain I can’t sleep. Lessons learned are often learned the hard way. My body like yours has its good days and bad ones.
I love to use humor to deal with pain. If you own a pet then you know how much humor they can bring into your life and usually do. We have always had at least one dog, used to have three and a cat or two. Now we’ve dwindled down to one tiny Yorkie. His antics are always available and always funny. Play is a natural part of the nature of a dog or cat and probably all animals. Those just happen to be the two I am most familiar with. We humans could take a lesson from them. Play. It’s important.
The other day my twelve-year-old granddaughter was here and she was earning money for an upcoming trip. Recently, the electrician had to dig two holes in our yard to install a lovely Victorian lamppost I wanted and by doing so he had to dig up almost all of the ground cover I have been nursing along for many years. Well, actually, this made me a little nutsbecause he dumped the extra dirt from the hole on it as well as digging it up, but that’s another story. Well, my granddaughter likes gardening, it’s genetic you know, and she was doing the planting and digging that required squatting, for me. I was sitting on a portable garden bench pruning bushes, etc.
After our job was completed in the front we went to the back patio where we were planting four o’clock plants grown from seeds sent to me by a dear friend which my deer friends had eaten last year. Fortunately, I still had a few left and they had to be planted away from where the “dear” deer could reach them. I was telling my sweet girl about when I was a child and had visited my grandfather’s farm in Arkansas. I was recalling when he and I were walking through a field of watermelons, got thirsty and how my grandfather had picked one, dropped it on the ground. He and I sat on the ground and with our bare hand ate the red sweetness out of the heart of that melon. Then the idea struck me. Why not get a watermelon and do that? Why not? I had one of those seedless watermelons in the refrigerator, you know, the ones that have white seeds instead of black ones but are still called seedless? I grabbed that watermelon, well, actually my grandchild did and I grabbed a large plastic garbage bag. I laid the bag on the patio and said to her, “Okay, drop it.” She grinned from ear to ear and “PLOP” with that watermelon. She had to drop it twice before it cracked open. I wish I could report it was as red and juicy as the one in Arkansas long ago but it was still cool and juicy and we had a good time eating it. George, our Yorkie, loves watermelon and had as much as he wanted. His had to be cut up into smaller pieces as he rejects any food larger than a lima bean. Dogs apparently have enough sense to be wary of choking. Who knew?
My hope for each of you is that you don’t worry about going nuts but instead, embrace it. If you need that pain pill, take it. If you need a cane or walker, use it. If you find yourself becoming ugly nuts, rethink it. If your pain is more than you can bear, go to a different doctor. Each day find a way to play, laugh or help someone else. Move on. Look up. Find beauty. Turn off the news. Read a book or watch a funny show on TV. Lie down and listen to music. Get outside any way you can. Tell someone you love them, today.