The Case of the Disappearing Queen (Part 1 AND 2)

Part 1 (written in November 2011)

No, I did not fall off the face of the earth.  I did, however, fall into love.  I had finally reached a point in my life where I fully accepted the idea that I hadn’t been dating, there was no one on the horizon and I was okay being alone the rest of my life.  Once the gods stopped rolling on the floor and laughing themselves sick, they set in motion the path I am walking now…they arranged for me to meet The Man.  The one your mother told you about, the Prince Charming in every fairy tale.  He DOES exist.  He may not ride a white horse, he may not be a dead ringer for Brad Pitt, you might not even recognize him as a Prince Charming.  But if he’s YOUR prince, you know.  “Balls to bone” as the Oracle in “The Matrix” said.  You *just* know.  And so it was for me.

We met on Sunday and within the week, I was living with him and within 2 weeks, we were planning the handfasting.  And within 4 weeks, we didn’t remember that there had been any life before “us”.  Well, we did but work schedules and the limited time they afforded for us to actually be together without having to be together in bed asleep…meant that our social lives suffered.  Friends thought they were being abandoned and in a sense, they were.  We needed time to get to know each other…we “speed dated” through the information exchange period that most people take a year to go though in the first couple of months.

We also added some interesting twists to forging this new relation.  Paul re-connected with his first (and most fondly remembered) girl friend, who was going through some troubles of her own.  We were able to help her but in the course of that help, we had to work past our own fears and bad old conceptions of relationships that just weren’t applicable in this life we were making together.  She thought that she had found him 6 weeks too late (because he had met me) and I thought he’d wave good-bye to me as he went back to her, the one with the common history and “do you remember when” stories that I did not have.

He and I left our separate apartments to join households early in the fall…the move was harder than expected and looking back, I realize now that it was a signal that we were headed for some rough times.  I have always said that if you’re doing the right thing, it all comes easy, with a definite flow.  This move was the first in several major training sessions for the lessons we were to learn in the following months.

I began to be ill…tired and fatigued all the time, lots of general dull body aches.  By November, it got bad enough that I went to the doctor and walked out with a diagnosis of fibromyalgia.  Finally having a name for something that had been going on, in various levels of occurrence, for the past 25 years was a relief.  I wasn’t insane, lazy or needed to do more sit-ups.  I have a real disease, with a real set of symptoms that respond to a variety of treatments.  But that didn’t help with the reality of the situation: I had just enough energy to go to work and go home.  Yes, we ate out, but almost always just the two of us and only because it was easier to let someone else cook than to use up that little store of energy trying to fix a meal.

I get my personal energy from inside of me and I was running on fumes, so to speak.  Being in a crowd was always tiring and now it was down right unbearable.  I had to prioritize where the little bits of energy I could muster would be used and for a while, work and helping our friend seemed the only two places I could afford to share it out.  I have no regrets about that time for getting someone out of a bad situation is always rewarding of itself and I am very grateful for the lessons I learned, but I would have liked to have been able to stay in touch better with my own crowd that I had been with for a long time…

It was Paul’s turn next, with a gout attack so severe it kept him out of work for 6 weeks during February and March.  I actually stayed home the first week to care for him and was glad I had been a nurse’s aide because I knew what to do and how to deal with a bedridden patient.  The recovery took so long…another nudge that we weren’t really where we were supposed to be, but in the training ground for something else.

Liz had Kristin in May and Paul and I were both thrilled.  A couple of weeks after the birth, I drove up to Baltimore each day for a week to spend time with them but drove home each night because I couldn’t bear to be separated from him.  Our joke now is that we are “one mind, two bodies”.  We have fit together and melded into that, something I had wished and wanted for a long time.  “Be careful what you wish for” is a true hallmark of our life.

Summer came and went; we got to see William and Maria when they came up to visit for a couple of weeks right before my birthday.  About 3 weeks after they went back to Georgia is when the proverbial shit hit the fan.  We had a flood in the back bedroom closet (that had been our master bedroom and I had moved us out of it only about 6 weeks before)…and it was filled with black mold.  When the maintenance guys opened up the drywall to replace what had gotten wet, the wall was filled with black mold.  It doesn’t grow that fast…so it had been there for a while, probably the entire time we had lived there.

Both of us are allergic to it–but with my asthma, I am definitely a “canary in a coal mine”, the early warning alert…which would explain why I was so ill for so long.  There was no way we’d have known it; the apartment complex is very careful to paint over (or put new drywall and molding over) any signs of it.  I suspect that if there was a single governing body for mold inspection in PWC, the entire complex would be condemned and taken down.  Paul’s parents live there too, and have had 5 such floods in 9 years.  His father has been having more and more lung problems since they’ve lived there (his mother may also be iller than if she had not lived in this moldy environment, but she’s a real stoic and it takes arterial bleeding or bones sticking out before she admits that she’s not feeling well.).  And yes they plan on moving out as soon as they can–which we have already done.  It was, to be blunt, KILLING me.  Slowly and one part at a time, but I believe that if we had not moved, I would have continued to be sicker and sicker until it ended up if not actually killing me, making me ill enough for hospitalization.

I am currently out of work on my second month of short term disability.  There is improvement in only one week of clean country air…but it took me a year to be this ill, I am not going to be cured overnight.  I seem to be gaining back some of the energy, but I have much less endurance than I used to and when the energy is used up, it crashes me down quickly.  I have had to go back on asthma meds after not using any for about 6-7 years.  I had forgotten what a bitch it is…sort of gotten used to breathing and this not being able to breathe is…annoying.

I have also completed two sleep studies and the result of that is I will have a CPAP…and I want it.  I got the first really good night of sleep during the study with the mask and I want my own now!  I don’t see the doctor about the results for another 10 days and frankly, I don’t want to go that long without it.  The difference was instantly noticeable; Paul saw it at once and has suggested I see if I can get the script for the machine before talking to the doctor about the results.

We both agree that we are continuing to do things at an accelerated pace: first, the speed dating and now a year in our lives with the major issues that most people work out over 10, 20 even 30 years of marriage.  We’ve had the sickness, poorer and bad times part of the vows and now we’re looking forward to the healthy, wealthy good times.

I cannot say enough about Paul and how much I love him–and more amazing to me is the fact that he loves me just as much.  He is so very good to me, so thoughtful and kind…he genuinely wants to make me happy, is concerned that I am happy, can’t believe I stay with him.  Odd how I have exactly the same mindset about him.

I know some of you probably thought I was choosing him over my friends…and in some ways, yes I have.  He is my husband AND my friend.  Our lives are blended so well that I don’t know where he ends and I begin or I end and he begins.  But my absence from the usual round of social events was more due to poor health/money issues/work than because I was avoiding “that old gang of mine” or just didn’t have time for them now.

I have recently been made aware that some things are being said as if I was the one saying them…and if you have heard anything about me and what I might talk about that you don’t know for yourself to be true, all I can say is, ask me.  I’ll tell you what’s been going on this past year if this doesn’t suffice.  I haven’t had the time and never had the inclination to be other than who I am.  I know that things change, people change and circumstances change; it seems a shame that some of my former friends (I say former because the people I am referring to have never tried to contact me in this past year to see how I am doing or just ask straight out, why the hell aren’t you doing stuff with us any more?) were apparently not happy for me to find love nor willing to allow me time that did not include them to learn and adjust to this new life.  And lest anyone think I gave it all up for Paul, he has not spent any more time with his group of friends this past year than I have…we have both had very limited social contact with the people we knew “before” we were together.  It’s not that we cut them out purposefully, tried to remove them from our lives…read the whole note above to remind yourself why we weren’t seeing them.  Some from both sides have contacted us, asked what was going on, how we were doing…and we look forward to socializing with them more as our health improves and we get back on a more even keel.  Others never bothered…and so they are not up to date on what’s going on.  Again, any doubts, just ask me.

I look forward to having dinner with all of our friends, whether out in a restaurant or cooking for the crowd at my house  — although, probably not ALL of our friends at once since we are in a one bedroom apartment now.  We left the moldy apartment in Manassas for the clean air and open spaces of Bealeton.  Yes, I used to live out here…and Paul was willing to move out here, sight unseen, just because I had spoken so highly of the area.  While I’m very happy to be out here, this move is also taking a lot out of me and I’m grateful we have a couple weeks’ of overlap between the apartments so that I can do a little, rest, do some more, rest and so on.  Once we get the boxes unpacked and I can get my kitchen in order, we’ll start inviting people out…

It’s been a long, dark year where survival was only possible because we clung to each other.  We have been through the fire and come out stronger in our relationship, losing the dross of old fears and learned behaviors from prior relationships to be truly one mind, two bodies.  We can see the path opening up ahead of us, storm over and clear sailing (at least for a while, I hope!).  And we’ll be glad to see all of you on a much more regular basis!

Part 2, written 3 months later:

It’s apparent that a return to health will be a slow, slow road.  The first bits of improvement have given way to feeling just as bad as before–I think the meds are no longer working as I need.  I suspect that they helped at first because almost anything would have…but I need something else.  Fortunately I have a doctor’s appointment tomorrow to discuss a new plan of attack.

We’ve slowly begun to get the house in order.  Going from a 3 bedroom to a 1 bedroom means 15 pounds of shit in a 5 pound bag.  So we’re mucking out the stables, so to speak.  Limited space certainly sets different filters for what stays and what goes and I think we’re being pretty good about actually getting rid of things we do not need or use.  We’ve also finally come up with a floor plan that will let us have the living space arranged for our needs as well as still leaving room for entertaining.  Now if we could just really implement it.

Unfortunately, setting it up involves moving furniture and neither of us is up to that.  Thank goodness for the willing assistance of friends–and I am learning how to accept that help.  It’s very hard for me to sit back and tell someone else, “do this” or “move that”…I can’t do it, but feel like I should.  This particular lesson is being driven home with a 50 pound sledge.  Could I do it?  Sure.  Push myself hard, get things done…and then spend 3-4 days in bed recuperating.  That’s just stupid.  My beloved has pointed out to me that I need to stop when I first begin to tire, rather than waiting until all energy is spent.  THAT is very hard to do, since I have years of pushing and doing as a habit to break.  (I figure I have actually had fibromyalgia since I was in high school…sigh)

On the up side, I got to spend almost 2 months with my daughter-in-law and the new grandson (see my previous post).  We had a really nice Christmas with his parents, his sister, d-i-l and grandFroggy and one of Paul’s coworkers and her daughters.  We took some vacation time (I took one week, Paul took 2; I have actually been out of work since the vacation and am working on my THIRD week out…sigh) and while it wasn’t exactly a vacation on the beach, it was nice to not have to go to work and have a break from the daily grind.  It was also very nice to spend a serious chunk of time together.  Oh and we got our eyes checked and now I wear contacts for distance and put on reading glasses for close up.  Hadn’t realized I needed a change of prescription but it sure is nice to see things clearly now!

While we didn’t get as much done in the house as we had hoped, progress is being made.  I can tell that it is because I can see more of the carpet, HAHA.  The kitchen is in better shape and I hope to be able to sort of putter around in there to get it more towards finished.  We want to switch sides of our bed, which involves moving night stands and switching clothing location in our closet…probably do that in stages.  Such domesticity…we lead a very quiet life.

I am really struggling with the limitations of my health.  When you reach the point that taking a shower or getting dressed hurts, something needs to be done.  Even opening the pills bottles hurts…dammit.  Not quite sure what lesson I am supposed to be learning from complete inability to do very much at one go, but if I promise to learn it, can we back off on the intensity of the lesson?  And I’m not trying to whine or complain, just stating the facts of my current state of being.  I have great hope that the doctor will give me something that will treat this adequately because frankly, I would prefer not to spend the rest of my life taking narcotic painkillers…but I will if that’s how it goes.  It does create a lot of resentment in me: I had to be careful about holding Froggy, and how much, when all I wanted to do was to hold him and hold him…  I would like to complete simple chores, like laundry, dishes or making dinner without one chore being my major accomplishment for the day.  Did I just say that I want to do housework?  I have lost my mind, apparently.

Maybe that’s the reason for the physical limitations.  It definitely frees up my mind for thought, of a deep and ponderous nature.  Guess I will contemplate my navel for a while…but I’ll let you know what the doctor says.



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