Sunday, June 26, 2011

Loaded Questions (and the meltdowns that follow)

Yesterday I went to Safeway (the same Safeway I always go to) and went to checkout (with the same cashier I always go to).  She's sweet to my kids and always very interested in what we're up to.  After all, she saw me shopping when I was pregnant and craving noodles, lemonade and oatmeal chocolate chip cookies.  She saw me with a newborn buying diapers, cabbage (ladies, you know what I'm talking about) and ready made spaghetti sauce.  For months, she watched me hobble around and struggle to lift a gallon of milk out of my cart.  She saw my shopping list go from chicken, meat and veggies to tofu, veggies and well, more veggies. She sees me with my bag of meds from the pharmacy.  She watches my daughters grow and take up more space in my shopping cart.  Really, she sees my face more than most of my friends or family.   So yesterday, she may (or may not) have been surprised when she cheerfully asked "How are you?" and instead of the automatic "Great! How are you?" I stared blankly, as though I didn't know how to answer.  And then.  Then I laughed.  It wasn't one of those ha, ha, ha something is funny kind of laughs.  It was more of an ironic, oh my gosh, what the heck is going on, excuse me while I lose it, kind of laugh.  I could tell she didn't know what to say but she nodded her head like she knew what I meant (after all, she has watched my life evolve over the last year).  I could feel my face get hot, my throat grow a lump and the tears start to form, but I was definitely not about to lose it - in Safeway - again.  So I sucked it all up, cleared my throat, smiled and said, "I'm great.  How are you?"  We talked about how beautiful the blueberries were and how happy we were that the sun was finally out.  When I paid the bill and my cart was loaded she gave me one last look, as though to say, "It's okay, you can lose it in my line anytime" and I was off.

As you can imagine, I was a little embarrassed as I drove home and thought about what just happened.  Why then?  Why there?  Why in front of her?  Why?  

And then the floodgates flew open.

And I asked the question I never once asked for the last 9 months, "WHY IS THIS HAPPENING TO ME?"

I know it's a stupid question to ask.  I mean, it's a loaded question, really.   But I needed to ask, even if there's no answer, because this whole thing just doesn't make sense.

My quasi-meltdown didn't completely come out of the blue.  For the last week I've had pain in my left hand.  It sort of feels like carpal tunnel on steroids (which makes sense since I'm on steroids).  I didn't think much of it at first but after about the fifth day it was getting hard to grip things and the pain was waking me up at night.
I consulted Dr. Google and apparently it is (or can be) related to AS.  Come on AS, you're supposed to only affect my spine and the joints and ligaments that attach to it, leave my hands alone.  Nope, lots of AS patients suffer pain and ultimately bone fusion in their hands and feet.  Seriously, cut a girl a break.  If my hand fuses together I'm going to be pissed.  Well, I see my real doctor next week so I'll talk to him more about it, but it was just another reminder that I'm dealing with an actual disease.

Anyway, I guess that's why my Safeway friend's innocent "How are you?" sort of put me over the edge.  I'm not great.  And I don't know what to say other than 2 years ago I was able to strike a pretty impressive yoga pose and now, well, now I get a gold star at the doctor's office if I can bend over and touch my toes!  That's just ridiculous.  I used to surf, run, hike - I even played football.  I was the fricken quarterback for goodness sake.  It just doesn't make sense.

But really, it never makes sense when someone gets sick.  There are some questions that are worth asking because the answers just might save your life.  And then there are other questions that just drive you into a dead-end where there's nothing but a pity party going on.  I think it's okay to go there sometimes, I just can't stay there.  For now, I'm trying to figure out the right questions to ask, the right roads to explore, the right prayers to pray.  But I'm still thankful, so very thankful, because at the end of the day, I'm here - with my incredible family, with a hopeful future and with people that let me laugh, cry and lose it, but still love me anyway.

How are you?


  1. love you kim! and thinking of you plenty. i just shared a tear with you too. :) big big xoxoxo for you and your fam.
    -mich :)

  2. hi kim, you are always in my thoughts and prayers. miss and love you, rayna

  3. so many people think that the grieving process is limited to the end of life. the grieving that you are going through is a normal and healthy part of the situation you are in. i am grateful that you have wonderful people that will walk with you through it. my prayers for Gods peace and blessings go out to you and your family.

  4. Mich: love you guys too! xoxo

    Rayna: hopefully we'll see you soon (either here or there). love you.

    J: Thanks for always having an encouraging (and practical) word.

  5. I'm praying that God will grant you grace (actually MORE grace since you seem to have a lot already) and also a big helping of mercy would be nice too. I'm a huge fan and I'm trying to get my daughters to follow your blog because you are the kind of woman I want them to become.

    Jed's Friend

  6. Hey Kimi! Another touching blog. I am sitting here in the dark crying with you. I wish there was something that I could do to help you out. I wish I could take you back to fishing and just relaxing together by the pool (yes, I remember). You and your family are always in my thoughts and prayers. <3, Rob

  7. Hi "Jed's Friend"

    I don't know if I've ever been given a more touching compliment. From what I hear, your daughters are already incredible young women. I'm sure we could learn a lot from each other.

    All I can say about grace and mercy is MORE, MORE! So thank you for your prayers. God is good.

    Much Love,

  8. Rob,

    Big hugs to you!! One day we'll be back at Turtle Bay together. Won't be as relaxing with all the kids but still... it'll be fun :)

    Love you,

  9. Kim, Kim, Kim...I can't stop scrolling down and reading everything... but here I will stop. Why? Because I want to sit on these things and really take them in. I hear you. Thank you for sharing yourself in the raw. That hits deep inside my soul, to the cries of my soul that need His touch and His healing. I will stop pretending.... xoxo

  10. Yes, I hear you. My AS is effecting my hands and feet, among so many other joints.

    I remember last summer when we had pretty much narrowed my symptoms down to RA and AS, and I was in this awful 4 month wait between my primary saying it was probably AS and seeing a rheumatologist for the first time. My dad asked me if I had a preference, if I would rather have RA or AS. I said AS, because I'm a writer and I NEED the use of my hands. It turned out to be AS and just like you, my hands became effected, to my surprise.... Kind of a sneaky symptom.