Wednesday, October 11, 2006

Dilatory Dymphna

Some of you have written Dymphna and not received a prompt response. I handle most of the email, but I don’t like to reply to those which are specifically addressed to my wife. As a result, some of you have gone without a response for quite a while.

One of her correspondents inquired yesterday about Dymphna’s silence, and she was moved to write a lengthy reply. With her permission I have adapted it here, so that anyone else who has been neglected can gain some insight into her situation.


Our correspondentI would never willingly ignore someone with the same name as my first born and both my grandfathers.

The spirit is willing but the flesh is weak.

Part of the problem is my health, part is the logistics of our computers. And part of it is just everyday interference.

The health part: I have fibromyalgia and chronic fatigue (same genetic disorder really, just different manifestations at different times). This greatly limits my ability to do the things I would like, including answering emails. I have a month-old email from Pundita that I have yet to respond to — and it was urgent. I owe her an apology… and another from an old commenter from several years ago with whom I formed a close friendship. She wrote me on Saturday — a wrenching revelation of her difficult life and the year’s silence I wondered about. That should have been responded to immediately, but instead I think of her and her sorrow…
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Also notice how little I post in comparison to the Baron. I just don’t have the energy. There’s one I want to do on China, but the papers remain on my desk, in disarray (well… they’re neat enough, it’s my mind that’s in chaos).

My daughter’s death threw me into such a tailspin that I am only barely starting to climb out of it. Three years, four months and two days… but hey, who’s counting. I don’t expect to ever fully recover but I sure would like to make the pit less deep, so I can see more easily over the top and into the beautiful world around me.

The logistics part. The Baron has the “real” computer in his office and I have my laptop in my “office” (i.e., the kitchen). Since we have wi-fi I can see and answer emails the day they come in, but when he pulls the email at night, we have to juggle schedules the next day to allow me to get to previous messages, and things sometimes get lost in the shuffle.

And then there’s real life: after three years of chaos in this house, I am beginning to recover a sense of order. It’s a tiny cottage without enough storage space, so a local carpenter has been coming to help me resolve that problem… Only the house is old, was built by a black family 60 or more years ago, and I swear they didn’t have a level. Nothing is plumb, everything has to be jerry-rigged and covered with molding to hide the wandering walls — some of which bow in while others bow out.

I am probably out of my mind (many echoes of agreement in the background) but today I am going into town (an hour each way) to adopt a feral cat and attempt to make it calm enough to live with our own cat, who is so species-lonely I’d like to wring her neck. This will mean sitting in the mudroom with her for days, laptop on floor, trying to help her integrate. Tranquilizers for both of us!

Everyday stuff also includes trying to help my dead daughter’s children cope with their loss. Some of them are acting out in ways which will severely limit their later lives. One is in minor trouble with the police for silly, impulsive stuff. I spend time on that one. Another is doing well in school but is lonely and I need to go to the school to encourage him just by being a presence there.

This is all hard when you’re limited by pain and by what sometimes feels like Alzheimer’s! Some days I can barely walk, others I can spend hours digging in the garden… and I never know which it will be when I wake up in the morning. Some weeks I’ve written so little that I barely have one post to submit to the Watcher of Weasels Council… and I’m always behind in my posting for that, too.

The carpenter has just arrived with the bathroom linen closet he built… and I have to scoot and build that darn cat cage…

This is my long apologia. I have left out two thirds of it!



In Russet Shadows said...

FM has been a regular guest here, too, so I can empathize with that. (The other stuff sounds like too much for even 3 people to handle. Yowza!) I can't say that I'm fully cured, but I have discovered that several things help me a lot: sleep, loads of water, eating small meals of carbs/protein throughout the day, avoiding high-sugar foods and caffeine, and regular exercise (especially stretching). Trigger-point therapy is something that helps, too, and that's something you can do on your own! I bought that crazy-looking cane and everything.

Hang in there! :)

Freedom Fighter said...

My Dear Dymphna,
I'm so sorry to hear of your malaise, physical and otherwise.

As I might have mentioned at some point, I understand the pain that comes from losing a child all too well.

Please accept my sincere condolances on your illness and my best wishes for a speedy recovery on all levels.

All Good Wishes,

Daniel Greenfield said...

This may or may not help but with fibro, you might consider talk typing software to take the stress off the actual typing

James Higham said...

I am the James whom was spoken of above and I was amazed to see her letter to me published without the reply, as the reply puts it in perspective. This was my reply:

Dear Dymphna,

It is I who should be apologizing and I want to say 1] I feel for you,
having recently lost my stepdad, after my mum and long ago, my dad and
2] how much I enjoy your pieces, in particular the Military Weekend. I
write much on China myself and am a China watcher. Do you know the
Chinese government website itself? Very informative if one reads between
the lines.

Sorry again. Have mentioned you in dispatches tomorrow.

Best wishes,

I wrote specifically to the Baron's wife because it was she who came to my site and thus led me to Gates of Vienna. There was no slight of the Baron intended and I always read pieces by both contributors avidly. It's a wonderful blog.

Baron Bodissey said...


I took no offense! I know that you read posts by both of us.

Maggie said...

Dear Dymphna,

I am new to this site, but I read the reply to James and felt I needed to add a comment. I know what it is like to suffer that pain. I know all about the fatigue - to the point of falling asleep when I have had work. In my case the FMS turned out to be something else, but it is something that involves daily pain.

Anyway, it is a good idea to get yourself into an exercise routine (I know that this is difficult) and the best way is to get into the pool. I have been going to hydrotherapy and it has been beneficial. From my own experience, an increase in Magnesium can be helpful. From what I have read about the latest research sufferers of FMS have an increase in Substance P, and this is sending pain messages to the brain. It is the pain signal that needs to be interrupted. You might find that the wearing of wrist supports and arthritis gloves to be helpful when you are trying to type. Also, you might want to check to make sure that your typing environment is ergonomic. I am personally not into the "no caffeine" thing, because I like my tea and coffee ;-)

In my own case, one of the reasons that we began to suspect that it was not FMS was my response when I was prescribed Neurontin for pain in my face. As soon as I began the Neurontin the other pain began to drop in its intensity. Also, for years I have found that my pain gets worse when there is a lot of humidity and changes in the barometric pressure. Only this year I was diagnosed with Ankylosing Spondylitis, and it took 18 years to get this diagnosis.

I am sorry that I do not know what happened to your daughter. The loss of one's own child is heart rending, regardless of the circumstances. My next oldest sister passed away last year (May 7) as a result of bone cancer. We are fast approaching the third anniversay of my father's death (Nov 6). I found it much harder to accept my sister's death because she was still relatively young. One of her daughters was only 14 years old when her mum passed away, and at this point in time I am worried about her well-being. I do not like the company that she is keeping and have good reason to be worried about the situation.

Her death, and the behaviours of your grandchildren are just added stressors that you do not need as you try to control your own condition. I do wish you well as you try to cope with all of these things.