Monthly Archives: July 2015

Nightgowns and Shoes

I’ve been on a nightgown-and-shoe-buying kick lately. I know, strange bedfellows. I don’t think I want to know how many nightgowns I’ve bought, but I know how many pairs of shoes, three.

Why this particular bent? It does go deeper than mere materialism and is far more consequential than just acquiring more to stuff in my closet, for I soon realized I’d been subconsciously heeding the call for rest and comfort.

What triggered this consumption? The Great Prednisone Failure of 2015. My failure, my 2015. The experiment was a total bust. The pain came back. The hands, the feet, the general malaise. After a few weeks off Prednisone my body sat up and noticed. Hey! What happened to Pred?

It didn’t just beg the question; it screamed it. So I scurried into the safety zone, the metaphorical orange-cone ring made up of little white pills.

“You know what to do,” my rheumy said when I confessed my shortcoming. He proceeded to share how he handles flares with the help of our common little frenemy.

I nodded. Yes, the tiny, precious pills that can wreak havoc within your body in so many ways, and in the process grant you the ability to get up in the morning without feeling like a tin woman who needs a squirt of oil into every single cell.

“I want quality,” I said. “Not quantity.” Now it was his turn to nod. I’d rather have five good years and not twenty bad ones. He understood.

In the midst of renewed pain, sleep took supreme importance. Sleep is a great pain reliever, if you can get it. And so in direct correlation, I concentrated on updating my sleepwear.

Nightgowns are the only thing I like to sleep in. Sometimes I prefer silky soft, sometimes cottony soft. The style must needs be flattering, comfortable, and not bunch up under me. Sometimes I swear I’m related to The Princess and the Pea character. Every little wrinkle in the sheets drives me mad and I have to pull it straight. I’ve made my husband promise that he will keep my bed tidy when the day comes that I can’t do it myself. I doubt he will, but it makes me feel better to know he promised. 🙂

The brand matters not, so much as the cut and the fabric. Color matters in that it affects mood. I tend toward black, so refined, so elegant and sexy, too, because why shouldn’t you look nice while you’re sleeping?

And if sleeping is important, getting up and staying up is much more so, and that’s where the shoes come in.

I mentioned in a previous post that I am partial to Clarks. One day, I came across the most comfortable pair in the entire universe, not hyperbole I assure you, at least according to these feet of mine.

Their only drawback was that they were only available in white and it was way before Memorial Day, when I would have license to wear them according to fashion dictum. I couldn’t remember the last time I owned a pair of white shoes. It might have been back when I was wearing saddle shoes to grade school.

But there they were, on sale, and they fit deliciously. Or as Billy would say, they felt mahvelous. I took them home and when I went online to search for a pair in my signature black, there were none to be had in my size. I did find a similar style with the same cushioned footbed.  When they arrived I was pleased to discover they fit just as mahvelously. Since then, I’ve added a third pair in beige and am debating whether I need the navy ones, too.

Perhaps I don’t, after all black goes with everything, and pain-free feet go with eeeeverything. My heels don’t hurt anymore, no matter how much I walk in these shoes. And they were. The pain intense, indescribable, every step jarring needles poking me.

These sandals take me everywhere. I dress them up and dress them down. Whether it’s a leisurely stroll down the Art District, a dinner/movie/drinks date or just chugging up and down the grocery store aisles, these babies come through.

I am back on a very low dose of Prednisone, a tiny buffer between me and the pain. He mentioned injectable Methotrexate as a possibility. I said I would take it under advisement. We shall see, but we shall see in comfort.

"I wanna put on my, my, my, my, my, boogie shoes." -- K.C. and The Sunshine Band

“I wanna put on my, my, my, my, my, boogie shoes.” — K.C. and The Sunshine Band

When I think About Pain

Frida faces me as I work at my desk.

Frida faces me as I work at my desk.

I think about Frida.

Nothing, nothing, nothing that I have suffered compares to what she went through in her 47 years spent on this earth.

Frida Kahlo was born in Casa Azul in Coyoacan, outside Mexico City in 1907, although she liked to say 1910 thereby tying herself in with the Mexican Revolution, a new beginning.

As a young child she had polio which left her right leg stunted. This alone would have been enough to deal with, but fate was not done with her. At the age of 18, while a pre-med student, the bus she was riding in crashed with a trolley.

Her photograph reflecting the light coming in through my French doors.

Her photograph reflecting the light coming in through my French doors.

Frida was thrown, her spine fractured in three places, as were  her pelvis, collarbone and ribs. Her right leg, already affected by polio, fractured in many places, her right foot crushed and broken. She was impaled through the abdomen with a metal hand rail. They gave her up for dead, attending to others first. But her light was not meant to be extinguished just yet.

Subsequently, Frida suffered excruciating, chronic pain and had many, many surgeries throughout her life, some of which required her to be confined to bed for months of recovery encased in a type of corset that supported her spine.

The bus accident took her life as it had been and for the rest of her years she lived in spite of the pain. She fought to keep her right foot, only losing it shortly before she died. Giving up on medical school, she began to paint using an easel set on her bed. She painted flowers on her corsets by using a mirror placed on the canopy above her.

Her pain was physical and emotional for she fell in love with and married Diego Rivera, a gifted muralist who was known for his talent as well as his infidelities. Her own sister counted among his many conquests, something that must have inflicted the deepest pain in Frida. But her greatest tragedy must have been the bus accident robbing her of the ability to bring a child to term.

I imagine Frida found refuge in her painting. She became known for her self-portraits, some that are hard to look at without cringing, without wincing, without feeling the agonizing pain that radiates from the canvas and reaches out to envelop you. “I paint my own reality,” she said.

Today, Frida is a phenomenon with a following. And one of her diehard followers is me. She inhabits my house; she inhabits my thoughts. When I feel down, when I am in pain, I think of Frida and her pain and how she managed to rise above. Frida painted her reality. I write mine.

While in NYC, I visited the New York Botanical Garden where they are holding a Frida Kahlo exhibit until November. Frida loved her garden and had many plants in Casa Azul, but I did not know that she and Diego had made a concerted effort to secure many different species of indigenous plants.

It was eerie walking through the lush garden, knowing that though it was not her garden, her spirit was there. I felt her pain, but I especially felt her resilience. I felt her joy of life and I understood the words written on her last painting, “Viva la vida.” Long live life.

Happy birthday, Frida. May you live forever.

A framed print of one of her works that hangs in my living room.  I was ecstatic when I came across it in San Antonio, Texas years ago.

A framed print of one of her works that hangs in my living room. I was ecstatic when I came across it in San Antonio, Texas years ago.

Though I have several framed prints of Diego's work, this one is by far my favorite.

Though I have several framed prints of Diego’s work, this one is by far my favorite.