I Climbed the Statue of Liberty!!

OMG. What a huge day. Those of you who know me are probably aware that since my last car accident in Nov 2007 I have had a big problem with stairs. They kinda make me throw up from time to time… :S

The physios at the Pain Management Clinic at the Wesley put it down to maladaptive muscle behaviour, but both last two orthopaedic surgeons that I saw noted I had a ‘bony protuberance’ that was dragging along the back of my oesophagus and triggering a gag reflex which, you know, frequently results in throwing up at inopportune moments. But fuck it! Mr K bought tickets to get up into the crown of the Statue of Liberty for today and I was going to give it my best – I even had a baggie in my pocket, in case I did chuck! But, I didn’t need it! I’m impressed, don’t know if anyone else is.


We set off early this morning for Times Square to pick up a New York Pass (look it up if you want, it gets you into everything and then some) and stopped ever so briefly by the Disney Store in Times Square for old times sake, and then we head off down town by Subway to South Ferry near Battery Park. The ferries going to Liberty Island and Ellis Island are run by the National Parks dudes (the same mob who run the trips out to Alcatraz Island by the looks of it), and we took the Miss New Jersey ferry over to Liberty Island.


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It should be noted that it was bloody freezing cold this morning too… I had four layers of clothing on and was still cold, I think the apparent temperature was about -4C. Shit, I hate our stinking hot tropical summers, but this crap is so much worse. Anyway, we got out on the water and you can imagine the wind chill etc made that extra special, and we walked around the base of the famous Statue of Liberty and planning on climbing up the inside of a freezing cold copper statue. Whose idea was this? On the way, I took a few nice shots of the statue, and even took an artsy up-skirt one. 😉

Then we got to stand in some queues, for at least 30 minutes, while we waited to be security screened… again. They had already screened us before allowing us to board the ferry, but here we were being screened again. I wonder at the security measures, I am pretty sure anyone intent on doing damage will find a way to do it anyway. But we get in eventually (after putting our stuff in a locker secured by finger print scan!) and make our way up to the top of the Pedestal level, which is open to the public. Approximately 11,000 people a day visit the Statue of Liberty and everyone of those can come to this level – there is even a lift that makes this far. However, if you want to go up to the crown to see what it is like inside the Statue and check out the view over Manhattan from up there, you need to be super organized and apply for tickets months in advance.

So we get inside and see all of the cool. All of it very cool except this torturous looking construction going right up the centre which is a double-helix spiral staircase which we were going to be climbing.


The framework and copper that makes up the entire statue. We got to feel the metal that the statue is constructed from, and it is roughly copper the thickness of two pennies, so not very thick and quite flexible considering what it is and what it is all holding up.


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This is what the little windows in the crown look like on the viewing deck at the top and some views out the windows:

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I’m just bombarding this post with pictures really, because out of the 11,000 visitors that make it out to Liberty Island every day, less than 300 tickets are issued for people to go into the crown and that is simply because there just is no space for bulk people to process through the tiny staircases – that’s 4 million visitors each year and only about 100,000 get to go to the top. Add to that, the fact that the statue was closed from Sept 2001 until it reopened in 2009, and then was closed again in 2011 for some time for renovations, so a lot of people who have visited New York in the last decade haven’t even had a chance to get in to see this.


Last time I remember going up or down such tiny stair cases would have to be in the Underground City of Derinkydu in Kapadokya, or going up into the cuppola above St Peter’s in Rome. It was tight and tiny and if you were over 6′ tall, you would have had to hunch to make it up. The steps were not a standard step height, they were so steep that I decided to come down, backwards like you would down a ladder, and the stairway was so narrow, my jacket was catching on the hand rails all the time… I found myself not so much walking up the steps but sort of holding on facing out and crab walking my way up step by step. There are five platforms where you can stop and have a break (and in my case let a noisy family of four go past us), and if it weren’t for that I don’t think I could have made it (at each of the platforms, you can simply walk around to the other side of the spiral staircase and hop in the ‘going down’ side of the stairs if you need to pike out). Crazy steps… all 182 of them.

And I made it to the top without throwing up! So proud of myself. Though I am very likely going to pay for this tomorrow.

OMG. What have I done?

I may have made a tactical error.

I’ve not been sleeping so great. Being on an unusual bed has a tendency to do that to me… aaaand this information surprises no one. So I wanted to go for a massage. Seeing that costs about $170 real dollars here, I thought I’d get one in Auckland instead. I know, but it seemed like a good idea at the time.

I found a place in a shopping centre, very similar to what they have at home, and though a 45 minute neck, back and shoulder massage might loosen me up a bit. But I kinda overlooked the importance of communication in the massage process having become familiar with the massage therapists that I see at home.

Turns out getting a massage from someone with a limited grasp of English, isn’t the same as getting my nails done from someone with whom I have a similar language barrier. Worst thing that can happen getting my nails done by a little Vietnamese lady who can’t understand me is that I’ll end up with nails that are out too long or too square. Turns out that the worst thing that can happen getting a massage from a little Chinese lady with speaks VERY limited English is that I can spend the next hour in excruciating agony!

The exchange went something like this:

Me: Hi I’ve got a chronic pain condition from a number of car accidents, and I’d like a neck, back and shoulder massage, please.
Massage Lady: You point. You point on picture.
Me: O_o okay *duly points to picture*
ML: Ok. On table.
Me: I’d prefer no oil and 45 min mins thanks
ML: Okay. Okay. No problem. No problem. I do you.

Hmmm…

So like a fool, I half strip and get on the table and within less than 30 seconds, I am clenching my hands, eyes wide open in extreme pain and going ‘Hey, easy on, that REALLY hurts.’ She pokes around for a bit, ‘So stiff. So stiff.’… a bit more ‘Very tight. Very tight.’, more prodding, ‘Too hard. Too hard’. I’m squirming and just about in tears, telling her to ease up! Then she says in very broken English, ‘You want me go lighter, I need take longer.’ Ok fair enough. I knew my muscles were in quite a state seeing how she poked my upper thoracic and I got a sharp pain behind my right ear, and then she poke my lower back and I got a horrid ants crawling over my scalp sort of tingly feeling, so that’s fair cop, I think. One hour it is.

She says ‘Muscles no loosen up without Chinese oil’. So, then it was out with the oil. Yeurk… I hate massage oil, it leaves you all slimy for the rest of the day. And she’s rubbing my back down like I’m a big brawny footballer or something, trying to get my muscles to loosen up a bit. And once they did a little bit, it was out with the pointy pointy fingers. Holy fuck. I had forgotten why I always try and see masseurs… larger hands means the heavy pressure is distributed a little less pointedly. Fark. Everywhere she touched me was horrendously tender and painful. I found myself doing breathing exercises like a laboring pregnant woman to try and get through the pain! Unbelievable.

But when I think I’m okay with that, it was out with the pointy, point elbows. Seriously, she was pushing so hard on my shoulder girdle, I swear I heard her put a foot up on the wall opposite to get more leverage! More gritting of teeth and imploring her to ease up a bit, ‘Yes, yes, lady. No problem. No problem.’ Argghh!

By this time I am lying there, face squished down the hole doing the squirrel cheeks thing, wondering how soon the hour will be up and wondering if I’ll make it. Next thing I know, she’s put a towel over my lower back and clambered up onto the table with me and starts getting into the back of my hips with her knees! Shit. As if this woman didn’t have pointy enough hands, and pointy enough elbows, I gotta saying, her damn knees were about as pointy as they come! She kneaded me (pun intended) all up and down my lower spine, rather skillfully getting into every vertebra by swinging her feet left and right to get the right angles. I felt like Tim Curry, in Charlie’s Angels with Lucy Liu walking up and down his back, half expecting some unexpected and swift maneuver that would render me unconscious any second… well I was hoping for unconsciousness, because this shit was fucking killing me!

I managed to get out of there alive, though seriously thought it was going to be a bit touch and go there for a while. I was somewhat dazed for about the next half hour, guzzling as much water as I could and trying to keep a jumper on so I didn’t cool down too quickly.

Not smart Borys, not smart. Tomorrow we will see if my back looks like someone took to it with a bike chain.

Shan’t be doing that again.

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Malinger – to feign illness, in order to shirk one’s duty or avoid work.

“I know what people in pain look like… and she’s definitely not in pain.” said the stupidest, most ignorant fucking prick this side of the Black Stump, to my friend…

What gives someone the audacity, sheer gall, to meet me for a few hours, pass judgement on my body, my pain and my inescapable daily experience of it, and then decide that I’m some sort of malingerer?  What sort of arrogant wanker thinks he has the right to look into my mind, my heart, my body, and decide what I do or do not feel?  What sort of smug, pompous, self involved, vainglorious little arse of a man (who, by the way, is not in possession of any sort of medical degree, extensive nursing training or engaged in the healthcare professions), gets to decide that I am LYING about MY pain?

Many of you know me pretty well… you’ve seen me at medieval events wearing heavy and uncomfortable clothing doing things that I shouldn’t be doing, you’ve seen me laughing and being social at parties pretending everything is fine, you’ve seen me (like this fucktard has) standing around all day in pain teaching people to shoot.  You’ve seen me helping out where ever I am physically able, whilst simultaneously acknowledging and yet attempting to ignore the limitations of my body.

Some of you will know that I’m wearing bright pink today, or purple, or red, so that hopefully the people around me won’t notice the pained look in my eyes.  Some of you will know that the awkward or slightly limping gait with which I am walking is from sitting too long, or the strained expressions as I execute the extremely difficult manoeuvre of getting out of a chair is from nerves shooting pain signals around my body.  Some of you will know that I’ve constantly got more pharmaceuticals in my system than should be allowed for short blondes, or for operating machinery or for consuming alcohol.  Some of you will know these things but then will politely refrain from mentioning it, because you know that I really don’t want to talk about it.  Some of you will know that I am not really the surly bitch that my facial expressions might indicate, that it is just the strain of keeping my shit to myself all the time.

What very few of you know is just how much fucking effort it takes to keep myself upright and functioning, each and every day.  Very few of you know that I have not slept for more than five or six hours any night for the last six years.  Very few of you know that I am in so much pain that I take freezing cold showers in the middle of the night, to feel something other than pain.  Very few of you know that I am habitually just one tiny unexpected inconvenience from tears, as I constantly channel all my energy into ignoring my pain, leaving very little energy for dealing with ‘other people’s shit’.  Very few of you know how many times I have wanted to step off the planet and cease to live this painful existence.  Very few of you know how dark the dark times really are, and how little real joy there is in a life filled with pain with no hope of reprieve.

What this self centred, egotistical, callous, and downright malicious cretin of a man, who made this hideously inappropriate and ignorant comment about ME, after barely four hours acquaintance, will NEVER know is just how desperately I want to march right up to him, right now, and tell him like it is.  Tell him how horrid it is living in this traitorous body that gives me nothing but pain and heartache.  Tell him what it is like to be constantly medicated to the point where your own recollections of the days events are notoriously unreliable.  Tell him what it is like to be absolutely bone weary exhausted and yet be unable to sleep because the pain keeps you awake.  Tell him what it is like to be afraid of picking up a fucking electric jug in the kitchen or reach down to pet the puppy, without steeling yourself against potentially painful spasms that could last all day.  Tell him what it is like to have your first and foremost thought of every minute of every day be how much pain your body is experiencing.

Instead, I am just sitting here, asking myself why the fuck do I even go to such extraordinary efforts and measures to keep my chronically painful self TO MYSELF, if intellectually challenged individuals like this ignorant simpleton are going to judge me like this?

Just because I am not crying does not mean I am not in pain.
Just because I am not wearing a cast or a brace, does not mean I am not hurting.
Just because I am forcing a smile onto my face does not mean I am at ease.
Just because I am laughing and participating does not mean my body is pain free.

What it does mean, you narcissistic, brain dead, self-important, insensitive, chicken fucking dimwit… is that I have had over twenty years experience in dealing with MY pain.  And I choose not to inflict MY pain on everyone else’s life by constantly forcing others to acknowledge its existence.  Just because MY body and MY life is full of pain – day in and day out – doesn’t mean that the lives of those around me need be constantly likewise reminded and affected by MY pain.  The fact that I don’t seem like I am in pain is a sign of MY achievements, in managing and mitigating MY painful circumstances, hiding MY no-longer obvious distress at being in pain, managing to attempt going about MY life as best I can.

What you can really take away from this, is that MY PAIN HAS NOTHING TO DO WITH YOU, and I work my arse off to make sure it stays that way.

SO STOP BEING A FUCKING CUNT AND MIND YOUR OWN BUSINESS.stop being a cunt

 

No use crying…

Okay, here’s a weirdness.

I’ve had four shitty car accidents.  And yes when I refer to them they are always ‘shitty’ car accidents, not horrific, not tragic, not destructive, not soul destroying, not back breaking, not any another sort of adjective… always ‘shitty’.  Don’t know why on that one, except none of them were my fault and I feel like that is just my all round shit luck, and complete lack of Parking Fairy, that is to blame for it all.

Anyway, with four shitty accidents in my past you’d think that would give me four shitty days of the year to lament my shitty broken body and my shitty chronic pain situation – the 28th August, the 24th of December, the 21st of September and the 17th of November.  But for some reason it doesn’t.  Not a year has gone by since 1991 that I haven’t mentally had a sad-on, on the 28th of August.  Each year, it goes through my head… One year of being in pain everyday.  Five years of being in pain everyday.  Ten years of being in pain everyday.  Fifteen years of being in pain everyday.  Twenty years of being in pain every fucking day.  And it’s not just the milestone years either (though the twenty year thing was pretty hard to deal with, as it officially meant I had more years in pain than I had had years, pain free), it’s every year – thirteen years, eighteen years, twenty-two years – today!

But for reasons I truly can’t explain it’s only the 28th of August and the 19th of November that I feel myself spending the day gritting my teeth in anger and frustration over the persistent and pervasive pain I’ve been forced to endure and over the undeniable and unavoidable fact that life is not fucking fair!  I don’t know why the other two dates don’t make me twitch, especially since the December 24th one is the one that came closest to, you know… seeing me end up dead in a ditch.  It makes no sense.

Blargh.  It’s out there for another year.  Happy Painful Anniversary to me… again.

no use crying over spilled milk

Why can’t I let go?

I’ve written many times about my IVF experiences and my feelings around having more children and my complete inability to let it go and accept my life the way it is.  I’ve also written many times about my car accidents and my chronic pain and how I feel out of control and powerless, angry, resentful and often just plain useless.  I’ve written about my deep rooted hatred for my own ‘traitorous’ body, which I feel has been stopping me from getting what I want and doing what I want, since the moment I hit adulthood.  Most people only get a glimpse of the all encompassing sense of loss that I carry around with me all day every day, because while I know I could be a a cranky, short tempered bitch ALL THE TIME, I work really hard to keep most of my crap to myself.

I went to a personal development seminar this weekend… I wasn’t sure what I was going to get out of it, I only knew that having been out of the workplace for over ten years meant I hadn’t had any formal development, professional or personal, for a very long time.  Sure I’ve been psychobabbled from here to eternity and back by a plethora or counsellors and psychologists and psychiatrists, and I know how to talk the talk and walk the walk in the consulting room.  But none of them have ever been able to help me… they sit and talked me in circles, gave me drugs, gave me mindfulness exercises, attempted to recondition or hypnotise me or fuck knows what else.  None of them have been able to fix my back pain. None of them have been able to fix my infertility.  And none of them have been able to make me feel happy about being stuck in this shitty body and I don’t know why.  This weekend I learned that I don’t let go of ‘stuff’.

I’m not talking about grudges against others here – people piss me off, or disrespect me or the people I love?  I just cut them out of my life end of story.  I don’t need any more negativity in my life – I’m pretty good at generating plenty of negativity of my own without accepting it from other people, thank you very much.  And I don’t have the time, inclination or energy to waste on hating people or holding grudges (if it’s a grudge holding that can occur without the requirement to invest energy or time… that might be a different matter!  😉 ).  So no, it’s not others that I’m talking about here – it’s ME.  Why can’t I let go and learn to accept my limitations, accept my life, and accept my situation, and count my goddamn fucking blessings for a change instead of constantly wanting things to be different, or other than they are.  Why can’t I just cherish my little family without looking at us and thinking ‘I want more’?.

I usually think of ‘personal development’ as being a bit too new agey, or a bit too touchy feely or a bit too self indulgent – so I’m not normally one to navel gaze or drink the KoolAid and get sucked into these things.  I’ve been told in the past that I don’t have a ‘suggestive personality’ which I understand means I’m not easily led, not easily hypnotized, not readily reconditioned… alternately, you could just call it bloody stubborn.  So I tried to go into this thing with an open mind.  I reckon we were barely an hour in when the presenter, Nicky, started talking about Health and how it affects your entire life and if you have your health then you’re already well on your way to personal happiness.  I’m sure without even really thinking about it, she trotted out a we need to look after our bodies, because ‘your body is a temple’ as cliched as it sounds, it is what will stick in people’s heads.  At which point I interrupted asking ‘What if your temple is broken?’

Which started a discussion on how the body repairs itself and you can heal.  I come back with ‘there are some things the body can’t or won’t recover from’… which led into her dragging my chronic back pain and IVF story out of me in front of 40 odd (and fuck me, but some of them were really odd!) strangers.  Nicky suggests we have a chat during the break… So we do.  And I got slapped upside the head like no damn psych has ever done to me before.  She asked me questions that I couldn’t answer:

Who would you be if you weren’t this person in pain?
Why can’t you be happy with your family as it is?
What’s so bad with having an only child?  He doesn’t know any different.
What belief systems am you hanging on to?

She flat out told me I have suffered an awful lot of loss in my life (Yes, yes I have heard this from soooo many therapists in the past so I thought I knew what was coming) – loss of physical strength, loss of control over my body, loss of freedom, loss of social identity, loss of career and work opportunities, loss children, loss of my identity as a woman, loss of my dreams… so much loss, oh you poor kitten.  And here is where she smacked me –  there’s been a metric fuckton of loss, but no actual grief.  She looked at me and cut me to the quick… ‘You have never allowed yourself to really FEEL what has happened to you.  You’ve spent years being ‘strong’ and sucking it up and soldiering on, and you’re still doing it.  As a result, you’ve never really ALLOWED yourself to grieve any of these losses.  And if you don’t grieve your losses, how can you move on? You’re stuck in your anger and resentment and frustration at this enormous amount of loss in your life and you’ve never let yourself really feel it.’

I have often jokingly said that I don’t know how to have the nervous breakdown I feel I so richly deserve!  Turns out I might be right.  I don’t know how to let myself just feel all the shit that has happened.  I never really grieved my physical incapacities, I have just spent two decades gritting my teeth and fighting them.  I never really grieved any of my five miscarriages, I barely acknowledged they happened and moved on – I certainly never allowed myself to think of them as five little babies that didn’t survive (in fact, I remember seeing a woman once with some three little children charms hanging around her neck and commented on them – she said they were her ‘angels’, her three little babies that didn’t make it, which at the time I thought was a fucking creepy thing to be carrying around with your everyday, but maybe it’s healthy?).  I never even allowed myself to grieve my disappointments with each failed IVF cycle… the longer we were at it, the less and less my expressions of disappointment would be.  It got to the point where I’d have another failed cycle and wouldn’t even tell Mr K about it in person, I’d just leave the (-)ve stick in the bathroom for him to see when he got up and go about my day.  He’d give me a cuddle in the kitchen and say ‘I’m sorry.’ and we’d keep on going… with over forty failed cycles that were sending us broke, who has the fucking energy to grieve every one of them?  Truth be told, I don’t think I grieved for any of them – I didn’t allow myself to think of them as little babies that didn’t make it, it was just another failed treatment.

I walked away from the deeply upset.  I had reluctantly acknowledged an awful truth.  That without my painful persona that I have obviously been living for decades, I am nothing – I have built no other identity for myself.  I don’t know who I am, or who I would be if I wasn’t in pain all day.  I have made my pain and infertility my entire life story.  It’s who I am – an infertile, chronic pain sufferer.  And I haven’t been able to move past it to define myself any further.  It’s not like I have chosen to wallow in in, in fact it’s the complete opposite.  I spend most of my energy trying to ignore it… and trying not to acknowledge it, trying not to let people in – because being in here sucks arse!  I don’t want people to know how fucking horrible and hollow I feel deep down inside.  I am just one tightly wound, short blonde bundle of anger, resentment, frustration and jealousy… and that’s all there is in here!  I don’t love myself or my body.  I don’t love my life or my situation – which is completely shit because I have so much to be grateful for.  I have spent my life being angry and focused on all the negative shit surrounding me, and it has very likely hindered me from truly enjoying the good and positive things in my life.

I came home after the seminar and spent the night trying to figure out WHY?  Why can’t I fully acknowledge and grieve the losses in my life?  How come I don’t know HOW to grieve?  So other more recognizable and common senses of loss came to the fore:  My father’s death.  I didn’t really grieve that loss either – I went off to training for a new job the very day after he passed away convinced that is what he would want me to do.  My grandmother’s death.  Went to the funeral, I got a speeding ticket while playing loud music and not paying attention to the road conditions on the way home – nope, no real grief there.  The death of three of my cousins on Anzac Day in 1988 – still makes me sad, but did I actually grieve for them when they drowned?  Not really.  But then I poked around in that for a bit…

I didn’t grieve for the loss of my three cousins as an impressionable young teenager because I wasn’t ALLOWED to.  If you read the link above about how they died, you’ll see I gloss over some very important facts.  Yes, I mentioned that on Anzac Day in 1988 that my cousins had drowned as a result of the huge floods that were sweeping western Queensland at the time and the poor little kids didn’t know how to swim.  I mentioned that the whole thing didn’t seem ‘real’ to me until I saw it in the newspaper the following day at the school library.  What I don’t mention is that I became really emotionally upset by the death of these beautiful little children… the Librarian called for the Principal and that school sent me home for the day.  So what?

Well, later that evening I got in trouble.  My father sat me down and told me that I hardly ever saw these kids but a few times each year, that I barely even knew these kids because they were so young and had no cause to be feeling all upset at their death and that there definitely wasn’t any cause for missing school for the day.   So my father, whose good opinion I respected and actively courted my entire life, taught me that when bad things happen we don’t feel them, we suck them up, keep working and move on.  I always thought he was just very practical and pragmatic and not very demonstrative and that wasn’t a bad way to be.  But now I think he taught me that grieving loss, any loss, is unacceptable.  I’m sure that isn’t what he wanted to teach me – to bottle up my emotions and never allow myself to ‘feel’ anything… but I am starting to think that is the lesson that I came away with it from.  I have never really grieved anything since.  Not the my miscarriages, not the death of my gorgeous little dog companion Caesar who was my constant friend for nearly 15 years, not even my own father’s death!  I don’t know how to grieve.  He taught me it was self indulgent to do so and now I seriously don’t know how to.

So now I feel like I’m blocked, or bogged down or drowning in my inability to let myself feel things.  Like I need to somehow truly grieve the losses in my past in some tangible, physical or cathartic way, that allows me to actually ‘feel’ the horrible things that have happened and hopefully allows me to finally let go of some or all of the emotional baggage, rather than bottling it all up and carrying it around with me everyday.

Only problem is… I have no idea how that is accomplished.

stages of grief inability to grieve