The original title for this post was Bad Knees and an Attitude to Match.
It’s been that kind of a week.
But then I thought, “Why? Why do this to myself (and my readers)? Why perpetuate my crankiness by posting it all over the Internet?”
The ornery voice in my head said, “Becaussssssssse! Everyone should know how upset you are that your kneecap has become a grapefruit, you’ve had to stop running, and that chronic illness sucks and is totally ruining your life! (slams metaphorical door to prove ornery point)”
I have every reason to have a bad attitude. I have every reason to be angry that <stuff> isn’t going my way right now. I am this guy:
It’s all totally legit. Every time I attempt to walk around for more than 15 minutes, my knee swells. It’s yucky. It’s painful. It came out of no where.
Being angry about it doesn’t make it different.
Being a total crank-face is not making my knee shrink back to a normal-knee size.
If you’ve come in contact with me in the last week, you can probably guess that I’m not in the best or friendliest of moods, so there really isn’t much point in stating the obvious.
So I changed the post title, and will be trying my hardest to do what it says: Adjust my Attitude.
This is really hard.
Somewhere in my Chronic life, my “catastrophize” button was turned on and the instructions for turning it back off were lost. I feel like a lot of my Chronic readers will get this, especially if diagnosis took a long time. You start to believe that everything is calamitous because everything is. At some point, you realize that not only are you freaking out about your random episodes of swelling, but also because you simply cannot find a red lipstick that is neither too pink nor too orange (WHYYYYYY).
Suddenly you are upset about everything big, small, in-between, and completely unrelated. You also happen to look up and realize that you are alone because the people who are usually around you have tired of your grandiose reactions to everything and are currently hiding out in their rooms “straightening stuff” so as to not have to share your negativity-contaminated airspace.
No good, my friends, no good.
Fact: My knee is swollen. My forearm is swollen. My index finger joint is swollen. My lymph nodes are tiny little rocks jutting out from my neck. It doesn’t feel good.
Also Fact: I have an appointment to see the Rheumatologist (aka Captain America) tomorrow. My heart is still beating (albeit too quickly). I can still breathe (as long as I avoid Clinique counters). My eyes still work, so I’ve been reading (Amy Poehler is my Spirit Animal). My fingers (though creaky) still work, so I’ve been sewing (Elephants!). My dog is very nicely sitting next to me while I type this.
Translation: The world is not ending.
I happened to see the movie version of The Fault in Our Stars over the weekend, and there’s a part where the main character, Hazel Grace, is talking about the 1-10 scale they use at hospitals to ascertain your pain level. She said she was saving her 10.
I feel like I need to start saving my 10 more often.
So how? How do I go about changing my attitude?
The irony is not lost on me that most attitude adjustment advice includes some form of taking a walk or working out, and that is what got me here in the first place. I was trying to feel better, darn it! It’s not my fault that it backfired and made me feel worse!
I simply need to find another way.
First off, this adjustment has to be realistic. If I were to jump from this:
I would never believe it.
It wouldn’t stick.
It’s better to ease into attitude adjustment. Sneak up on your cranky-face self.
Changing your focus is helpful. I kind of did that above, when I stated that while my being in pain is a fact, it’s also a fact that parts of me aren’t in pain and that I am also not letting my pain eat my whole life. I’m simply working around it. There has been no exercising, but there has been reading and sewing, with a side helping of trying to keep up with the Kardashians (which will never happen and so the effort was futile, but whatever).
Sometimes gratitude lists work, in which case, I’m thankful for: a roof over my head, food to eat and clothes to wear, my very patient mother, my very adorable Suki, medication, meditation, Captain America sweatpants, pillow-top mattress covers, sunlight, library books and Dancing with the Stars.
Also, I am grateful that I do not have to wear a plastic cone around my head for 3 weeks, like Suki does post-eye surgery.
Of course, this is not an exhaustive list.
If gratitude doesn’t work, I can always try distraction. You know, use brain fog to my advantage.
Because it’s hard to remember what hurts me when I am reading about this orangutan named Suryia and her friend the hound dog, Roscoe, who live at an endangered species farm in Myrtle Beach. Watch this video: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=P3SbjjMChqw#t=85
I mean really.
See, after all of that, I feel kind of better. I feel like, in this moment, not everything is so bad. I mean come on; I live in a world where orangutans and hound dogs are adorably photogenic best buddies. I am free to scratch my nose, unlike Suki. Plus, I’m pretty sure there’s chocolate in the cupboard. Doesn’t cocoa have magical anti-inflammatory powers? Therefore my eating a copious amount of it counts as medicinal, right?
Attitude = Adjusted
How do you break free of a bad mood, Chronic reader? Let me know here in the Comments or over on my Facebook page!