Thursday, March 19, 2009
Yet again, I have confirmed that I am not a joiner. Today I attended my fibromyalgia support group for the first time in months. The normal procedure is for each of the members to tell what is going on in her life, and how it affects the disease. Although I like most of the women in this group, sitting for two hours discussing illness strikes me as counter-productive because what you focus on expands. I would rather ignore the disease and do more interesting things. But to be fair, I may have that luxury because I am not as severely afflicted as some of the others.
There is a new woman in the group whom I had never met before. Leslie has a glass-shattering voice which caused my nervous system to accelerate from neutral to full bore migraine in 60 seconds. She hijacked the conversation to inform us that she has traveled the world extensively, that she has been a fixture for many years on the 100 Most Beautiful Single Women in San Francisco list, but that she has no boyfriend although she had stated earlier that she'd spent the night on her boyfriend's yacht in Sausalito. She inflicted a shtick routine on us about getting a bikini wax, announced that she has not had full toenails for years because of a fungus, and demanded the answer to all her life's problems, but when anyone made a suggestion, she yelled "NO!! I already tried that."
I didn't make any suggestions because I was lost in wonder that there is a list of the 100 Most Beautiful Single Women in San Francisco, and that she is on it. I was mildly curious about her ranking on that list, but chose not to engage her in any more conversation than necessary because her voice was like cracking black ice on a winter pond, the kind that kills people.
I only went to the group because Shirley, the leader, has a new dog, a Belgian Shepherd, and I wanted to meet her. The dog, who is beautiful and sweet, has been debarked. I would have preferred that if anybody permanently lose her voice, it be Leslie. Life is unfair.
Yesterday, Flip and I attended our weekly Alzheimer's meeting at which the diagnosed parties are separated from their caregivers into two groups which meet in different rooms. When I rejoined Flip afterward, he told me that Heather, the woman who leads his group, had yelled at him. He was unable to remember exactly what she said, but he was very clear that she tore into him, broke his balls and it was humiliating. He stated that he would not return as long as she was there.
It seems that he welcomed a new attendee, and Heather's agenda did not allow for "side conversations." I think the meetings should be more flexible as these people are already dealing with a horrible disease, and perhaps her ego also needs an adjustment. I don't know exactly what happened since I wasn't there, but protecting Flip is my main concern. Nothing should be added to his huge and unfair burden which can be prevented. Plus, they don't have any dogs at the Alzheimer's meetings.
I suggested that from now on, we be each other's support group. He agreed. "They're just bitch sessions anyway," he said.
"So how are you doing this week?" I asked, dangling my reading glasses over my book.
"Shitty," he said as he idly thrummed his guitar. "How are YOU?"
"Crappy." I put my glasses back on and found my place. "Ok, meeting's over. As you were."
I feel so supported now, it only took ten seconds, and we didn't have to go anywhere. I think we may be onto something.