A small Blogversary

The first published photo of Jack on his daily walk. ©voyager, all rights reserved

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 I stayed in that bed in a dark room for years, lost to myself and withdrawn from the world.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.


  1. DonDueed says

    I for one have enjoyed your contributions immensely, even though I don’t comment all that often. Thank you (and Jack) for all you do. I appreciate it all the more now that I know what a challenge it can be for you.

  2. Jazzlet says

    I’m sorry that you had such a hard time getting to where you are now, but glad that your new pain specialist started getting you sorted out, and that you were able to take that help to return to life. I have a chronic pain problem too, essentially scarring on my colon, and I know how hard it is to get the balance of medication right. I’m struggling with getting any exercise despite Thorn and Jake -- Mr J takes them out everyday -- and I need to do that so much, so I am hugely impressed with you getting out with Jack most days, I know how hard that alone can be, but you blog on top of going out! I am so glad that you do, for you of course, but also because you do provide a place of peace every time you post, and I certainly value that.
    Thank you Voyager!

    ps plus I want to see the badger pictures you are going to take this summer, even if they are only smudges!

  3. kestrel says

    Happy blogversary and congratulations on your first year! You’ve done really well and Jack’s Walk is a wonderful part of this blog.

    I’m really sorry about those really bad times and I’m glad to hear that, though they are not over, it sounds like you are coping with your issues. Hooray for a pain specialist who really sounds like she is dedicated to her job and willing to think outside the box. Sounds like she has made a huge difference.

    Thank you so much for all your hard work -- I know it’s not easy and I really appreciate what you and the team have managed to do to keep this blog going and growing.

  4. says

    In a comment elsewhere, you said that “fibromyalgia is a thing” -- are there people who deny it exists or something?

    I’m glad you find it worth your effort to chew through the day and post. Sometimes, it’s a thin thread that keeps us focused.
    Glad you’ve got Jack!

  5. says

    I am glad that you have found a specialist who helps you better to cope with your ilness and that you manage to keep Affinity afloat. I love Jack’s walk and the accompanying pictures. I hope that wiht better weather you also will get better for a while again.


  6. says

    Happy Blogaversary to you and our very good boy Jack.
    I’m so glad that you have found a good pain specialist who makes life enjoyable for you again and I’m glad this means that I got to know you and call you my friend.

  7. Ice Swimmer says

    Seen from the outside, you have done great with the blog. This blog started as and it still is a special place. Thank you!

    I am sorry for what you have had to go through, but I am also happy that you have been able come back from the deepest depths with the help of the right specialist.

    Our weather patterns have to some extent followed each other, so I’m hoping you’ll be getting the sunny and warm weather there also.

  8. voyager says

    Thanks, everyone. I love what I do here and I really don’t want anyone to feel sorry for me. That’s why I don’t talk about the fibro much. I’d rather focus on what’s right instead of what’s wrong.

    Fibromyalgia is very misunderstood. There is no specific marker or test for diagnosis, although now they’ve discovered elevated levels of something called substance P in cerebral spinal fluid, but a spinal tap is a dangerous and painful test. Many doctors don’t understand that it’s a neurological condition which causes chronic misfiring of pain and excitatory pathways. It’s better understood now than when I was first diagnosed, but over the years I’ve had doctors tell me that it’s a conversion disorder (not), a rheumatic condition (not), that I was lazy and malingering (not) and that fibromyalgia doesn’t even exist.

  9. Nightjar says

    A year already! Congrats! It has been such a pleasure to take part in Jack’s daily adventures through your lens, you certainly have a talent to come up with something interesting to share every day and I admire that. I look forward to seeing spring arrive to your part of the world in not too distant Jack’s Walks.

    Sending hugs and sunshine your way. No, really, I’m about to send you some more sunshine just now. ;)

  10. rq says

    I have been quite honoured to be a co-blogger on this blog with you. I enjoy your posts very much, your photography especially. You may not have been a write or photographer or artist or what have you, but you certainly are now. Your pictures always have a story, whether it is explicit (I love your vignettes) or implicit. Also you have been a wonderful support outside of blogging, and I think I have consistently forgotten to thank you for your small emails of support.
    I am glad to be here with you and I am glad this blog and blogging has been such a positive experience for you. *hugs* And I look forward to continuing our friendship and collaboration.

  11. dakotagreasemonkey says

    Congratulations on the blogaversary! It has been a wonderful year watching you blossom as a blogger.
    Thanks for your help keeping Affinity alive, it means a lot to me.

  12. Nerd of Redhead, Dances OM Trolls says

    One year already? How time flies when you are busy with day-to-day life. Keep Jack’s and your adventures coming.

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