Woo-Hoo! A year ago today the first Jack’s Walk was published and I can hardly believe that Jack and I have made it through an entire year of blogging. When I proposed the idea to Caine I had 3 goals in mind. The first was to help a friend, the second was to create a place where you could take a deep breath and forget the troubled world for a minute and the third was to not embarrass myself and I’m pretty sure I hit all three marks. Well, there have been a few slip ups, but nothing that really makes me hang my head in shame.
You have no idea how absolutely amazing this is for me. I don’t talk much about it, but I have a condition called fibromyalgia that affects every area of my life. When I was first sick I was mostly confined to bed with generalized pain, stiffness and exhaustion. I was intolerant of light and sound and couldn’t watch TV or listen to the radio. I also couldn’t think straight or concentrate and I lost the ability to read. There were also a host of other symptoms that seemed to change day by day and sometimes hour by hour. Depression set in and I stopped caring. I stayed in that bed in a dark room for years, lost to myself and withdrawn from the world.
Now, briefly, let me tell you about myself before fibromyalgia. I was an RN working in community health as a Case Manager. The job was complex and involved co-ordinating multiple services for complex and continuing care at home. I loved it and I was good at it. Good at talking to people. Good at organizing, multi-tasking and finding creative solutions to difficult problems. I had taken a winding road to becoming a nurse and when it finally happened at the age of 30 I knew I’d finally found my path in life. When I finally found Case Management I knew I had found my home. The work was never the same 2 days in a row and I was given courses in Palliative Care, Geriatric Psychiatry and Wound care. I was curious, I loved learning and, on a more personal level, I was a bookworm. I read 2 or 3 books a week, every week. If I was on vacation I could read a book a day. Sometimes I read more than one book at a time. Often a fiction and a non-fiction and I moved back and forth without thinking about it. Then, I got sick and it all fell apart.
A few years ago I found a new pain specialist, a young woman with an open mind and a great attitude. She changed my meds around, lowered my narcotics, increased other meds like Lyrica and wrote me a prescription for marijuana. She began injections of lidocaine into my spine and neck. She connected me with therapy in a pool heated to 94 degrees. At her suggestion I got a dog and began walking. That dog was Lucy and it was her love and care that finally got me out of that bed. Slowly and gradually my life began again. Different than before, but good. Very good after so long of very bad.
Those many years in bed I discovered blogs. The first blog I ever read was Pharyngula when it was still over at Science Blogs and I quickly became a fan. Then, when PZ moved over to Freethought Blogs I followed him and discovered a whole set of other great writers whose work I enjoyed. One of those other writers was Caine at Affinity and it quickly became my favourite place to hang out. I lurked for years before I finally had the confidence to comment, but once I did join in I was quickly made to feel welcome by Caine and her commentariat. It was like hanging out with the cool kids. I was never a cool kid, but suddenly there I was communicating with talented writers and artists and they were welcoming to me. I really don’t know what possessed me to offer my help when Caine set out the offer to contribute. I’m not a writer, not an artist, not a photographer and although I play at all those things I wouldn’t define myself by any them.
So when I started blogging I had no idea if I could do it, never mind do it every day. I was worried that I wouldn’t have the stamina or that my brain would sieze up or that I’d run out of ideas. Caine was around though. So was Charly. And so was the entire Affinity community who rooted for me. I had found another home and it was nice. Then Caine died and suddenly everything changed. By then Giliell had joined Charly and I on the blogroll and when we were offerred to carry-on Affinity on our own I had a moment of panic. Suddenly I wasn’t just a contributor, I was part of a 3 person team and things got real, real fast. I only ever considered taking it on because of Giliell and Charly. I knew they were good and I knew I could count on them. The rest of it was like stepping off a building with no safety net. I’d be lying if I said it wasn’t a struggle. Lots of days it is. My brain still doesn’t work right and I still struggle with overstimulation. I still get exhausted and I still have pain and I still have bad days and bad weeks. Lots of days I blog from bed. Lots of days I struggle to write a sentence, but I keep trying and I keep showing up. This place called Affinity is important to me. You are all important to me. You are all the coolest kids and your talents and willingness to share humble me.
It’s been a year of flying by the seat of my pants and I’m hoping the next year will be a bit easier now that I’ve learned the basics and a few organizational tricks. I have ideas and things I want to accomplish and maybe this next year I’ll find the energy to explore some of that, but even if I don’t Jack’s Walk will stick around. We both thank all of you for sticking around with us.