daily prompt

Helpless is as helpless does

Or something like that.  I’ve been kinda out of it the last few days.  Okay, the last couple of weeks because I thought I would be brave and tackle the field of tansy weeds we had out in the back. Those suckers are tough, and they put up one hell of a fight… I’m pretty sure I blogged about that. Hold on, let me check. Yep, under the guise of answering another daily prompt. Ha! So anyway, I haven’t really been answering the daily prompts, and really I haven’t been looking at them. So I missed yesterday’s, which I’m gonna answer now, and totally might not get to today’s until later.

The prompt I’m addressing right now asks this question: Helplessness: that dull, sick feeling of not being the one at the reins. When did you last feel like that –- and what did you do about it?

Pardon me while I laugh myself silly.



I’m okay. hahahaha! No, I’m fine. Ha! I might have mentioned before that I have a few health issues. Feeling helpless and not “at the reins” as the prompt so quaintly put it is part and parcel of living with chronic illnesses. My body started rebelling against me when I was a teenager and it hasn’t stopped its war against me since. That’s not to say I’ve given up the fight, I’ve been locking horns with my body for a looonnnnggg time. But it occasionally wins the battle. I’ll tell you about a time when I thought I’d really lost it. It was kind of scary, and one of the few times I felt utterly and completely helpless, but strangely not afraid. Once, in my late twenties, could have been early thirties — time and I are not friends (dyscalculia you know).  Anyway, I’d been working two jobs, about 75 hours a week I guess. One was a sit-down job as an office worker — full time, forty hours a week, plus overtime because it was the holiday season. The other was a stand-up job as a night clerk in a convenience store about 35 hours a week, maybe 40… I don’t remember. There’s much haziness going on there. I had one day off a week, which I insisted on because I was trying to “take care” of myself (hahahahahaha!). All of those hours and I still had trouble making the rent — but that’s another rant for a different time.

It really was the meds... and the ice cream the meds made me crave. ^_^

It really was the meds… and the ice cream the meds made me crave. ^_^

Anyway, after about three months of me abusing my body like that, my back decide it had had enough. I got up one morning on my day off and Bam! I hit the floor.  I mean my back would not hold me up. I tried to get off the floor and couldn’t even move to one side or the other.  I’d been ignoring my back for weeks, and it had been complaining. For those who didn’t click the previous link, one of my health issues is Degenerative Disc Disease in my lower back. I’d even lifted heavy boxes the day before because, “They weren’t gonna move themselves” (my mantra), and my kids — then very young teenagers — were too scrawny to move them. And I’m a big, strong, independent woman, right? That’ll learn me. So, there I was, sitting on the floor in nothing but my nightshirt, with no way to get up. I knew my daughters couldn’t help me up. How could they lift me? Neither of them even came close to 100 pounds. Little toothpicks, the both of them. Part of the problem with my back at that time was the weight I’d gained because of the medicine I was taking for bipolar (Depakote — which is evil to me for many other reasons, as well the weight gain).  My back was spasming like mad and I had no clue how I was gonna get up off of the floor.

True enough

True enough

I could reach the phone on my nightstand though (this was before cell phones), so I pulled it onto my lap.  Then I sat there. I sat there for hours and debated what to do.  Was this an emergency? Should I just wait until I could move again? I mean, my back had given out on me before… it just usually waited for a more convenient time to do it. Like, just as I was about to sit down or something. My daughters found me about two hours in, still sitting and debating. They offered (bless their hearts) to help me up. Hahahahaha! But I knew it was futile. Don’t think I just sat for six hours bemoaning my fate, dear reader… I tried many times to roll onto my feet but I just. couldn’t. move. My legs started to go numb, that’s how long I sat there.  In the end, I called 911, and they were very sympathetic. They sent an ambulance out and the EMTs helped me to my feet. They wanted to take me to the hospital but I refused. I told them to just help me to the couch and I would take it from there. They didn’t want to leave me there, but I had no insurance at the time and knew I couldn’t afford the ER visit. So they helped me to the couch and left me to my own devices.



I missed three days of work icing and heating my back. I couldn’t walk without the help of a walking stick. Oh yeah, I’ve had walking sticks around me for a long time. Walking sticks are cool. ^_^  Canes make my elbows hurt. I like walking sticks because I feel more stable using them. Anyway, the night clerk job didn’t offer sick days so I just missed work with no pay. The day job gave me two sick days and then I was in danger of losing my job if I didn’t go back in. So I risked losing the one day because they knew me and liked me, but I went back to work and tried to do better with my back pain. The irony is that I ended up losing the day job anyway because I was made “redundant” after the owner sold the company and everything was restructured. Again, another rant for a different day. My back started improving when I lost a lot of weight to take the load off of it and my knees. Ironically (again) my body rebels against that too and my thyroid quit on me a couple of years ago. I’ve gained all of that weight back despite my best efforts to keep it off. So my back is once again giving me fits. See? Helpless.

Seriously. ^_^

Seriously. ^_^

I still haven’t given up the fight.  I probably never will. I’m just stubborn like that. But y’all have to realize that it’s been a long and exhausting war against my own body. I’ve been waging this war since I was a teenager and my head began to explode for no particular reason (migraines). Or round about 16 when my lungs would stop working correctly whenever the air conditioning would turn on — no one has ever figured out why that happens. It’s not asthma, but whatever. Anyway, whenever I think I’ve won… whenever I think I’ve finally gotten it managed at least… my body decides to throw another grenade into the ring.  I’ll rise to the challenge, even if I need a helping hand (like that day with the EMTs). One of us will triumph eventually. When I’m too old to enjoy it. Ha!

I’m kidding. My life isn’t all that bad. I have a husband who loves me and knows the fight I’m fighting. I can still move around with relative okayness — I’m not bedridden at least (knock on wood). And since that one time when I hit the floor, my back hasn’t fully given out on me. My knees now… that’s a different story. But to answer the prompt correctly the last time I felt “not at the reins” was pretty much every day when I’m wrestling with my body for control of the stupid reins.  Sometimes I’m driving, and sometimes I’m not. It’s pretty much par for the course when one is dealing with chronic illnesses.


4 thoughts on “Helpless is as helpless does

  1. Okay, you win the medal for helpless bravery…Feeling helpless during isolated incidents is one thing, but a life of it wins my applause, even though it sounds to me like you are a pretty tough lady and not helpless at all, in spite of what your body heaps on you!!


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