Touch Me

“A woman’s heart is a deep ocean of secrets.” ~Gloria Stuart

“I am middle-aged, chronically-ill, and disabled.  I am also a woman, with a woman’s heart.  I would like to share a short poem I wrote a few years ago.  First love? Lost love? Current love? Future love?  A combination of all? …an ocean of deep secrets.


Touch Me

Touch my mind.
Share my thoughts.
Enter my dreams.
Know me.

Touch my soul.
Share my essence.
Enter my being.
Understand me.

Touch my heart.
Share my offering.
Enter my life.
Love me.

Take my breath.
Touch me.

Copyright © Debra A. Richardson

Not Old Enough

January 2, 2012

“There must be a day or two in a man’s life when he is the precise age for something important.”
~Franklin P. Adams

Back in “my day,” turning 18 was epic–old enough for emancipation from parental rule, to legally buy and drink 3.2 beer, and to vote. Twenty-one was eagerly anticipated by the 3.2 beer crowd wishing to try the harder things in life. Overachievers.

In my early 20s, talk of retirement seemed an eternity away and pointless. In retirement visions, I pictured myself tanned and stylin’ on a tennis court with a handsome senior man, without wrinkles, firm, and athletic. Imposed early retirement was a brutal reality smack-down with my SPS diagnosis at 36. I lost my dream of the tennis court and celebration for turning 65 with a party from my co-workers, complete with presents.

The next milestone was qualifying for an AARP card and all of the membership advantages of turning 50–once again getting ‘carded.’ Deja vu, with beginning wrinkles.

I received some information in the mail about a very interesting social/intellectual/exercise program for individuals 55+…not quite ‘old enough.’ I am going to check into it anyway. Just a minor technicality, I turn 55 this year.

I am not old enough to be racking up the equivalent of cha-ching bonus points on a prescription card, watch older women walk effortlessly in a mall with envy, or have my social calender filled with doctor appointments. Nobody is.

Chronic illness or rare disease is non discriminating regardless of age, ethnicity, beliefs, or gender. NORD, (National Organization For Rare Disease), is our

Copyright © 2012

Hoochie Mama

January 2011

“Cultivate your curves – they may be dangerous but they won’t be avoided.” ~Mae West

A friend and I were going for a walk at the mall combined with shopping for two ‘must have’ additions to my wardrobe: a pair of black dress pants and a gray skirt. She understands about my SPS, so was unfazed at my army camouflage print baby stroller (surrogate walker) to carry my 50lb. purse, hiking pole, and bottled water. With my SPS perception, going into a mall is leaving rear flank obscurity to charge from the front line in an active war zone.

I love to go shopping with a girlfriend. Unlike a man, girlfriends are not bored to a glassy-eyed catatonic state while you are in the fitting room on Mission Impossible to find a good fit to enhance your figure–for a reasonable price. When you need an honest opinion, a girlfriend will give it to you straight, not a beleaguered, cookie-cutter, “It looks great, Sweetheart. Ready to go?”

I found a church-appropriate length pencil skirt. On my slender frame, I looked like Olive Oyl. Opening the door, my assessment was confirmed with my friend’s opinionated, “You need a shorter skirt.”

Girlfriends also understand the importance of color. Charcoal gray or pale gray. “Go with the light gray. Summer is coming,” her female wisdom suggested. I hadn’t thought of that. So the shorter pale gray skirt it was.

Sunday morning, I decided on wearing my new pale gray skirt with a black sweater and lacy black nylons. SPS decides to wrestle with me. After a 10-minute aerobic, contortionist match on the couch, I triumphantly donned my fashionista pantyhose in a victory over SPS symptoms.

I was feeling fashionably good as I went to church. My girlfriend approached me with a big smile and said, “You’ve got your hoochie mama skirt on.”

From Olive Oyl to a hoochie mama. I have to plead innocent. I was influenced.

Copyright © 2011

Valentine Lingerie – Still Traumatized

“Cosmetics is a boon to every woman, but a girl’s best friend is still a nearsighted man.” ~ Yoko Ono

Valentine’s Day has passed, but I am considering therapy for PTSD – Post Traumatic Shopping Disorder – buying lingerie for Valentine’s Day.

I am not afflicted with Jello jiggles and wiggles, but I sense my body’s equater is creeping closer to neckline? Everything is shifting to my southern hemisphere. Factor in my pathetic attempt for an occasional hot flash, (a warm fuzzy for me), and I am headed for catostrophic menopausal global warming, not setting the sheets on fire.

Thinking candle light will be good; I know dark is better. I look at the pink or red silky scraps of black-trimmed lace and inwardly moan. I want to appear as ‘to be had’, not a ‘has been.’

Suddenly, I am engulfed by a glowing epiphany of my middle-aged experience, not to be confused with a warm fuzzy. Making a few ingenous purchases, I smile at the checkout, confidently smug at my cleverness. A thought crosses my mind, though. Considering the impending surge of baby-boomers, Victoria’s Secret needs to implement a Cougar line of black support fishnet stockings and lacey, racey flannel.

Copyright © 2010

Middle-aged Tween

“Life is about not knowing, having to change, taking the moment and making the best of it, without knowing what’s going to happen next.” ~Gilda Radner~

Change.  I felt, rather than saw, a hair on my chin.  Armed with tweezers and trying to locate the strand in the mirror, I successfully plucked the loner out.  Like a weed, I know more will eventually follow.  The single chin hair surfaced simultaneously with a gray eyelash which I can coat with mascara.

I am a middle-aged tween.  Slathering on my daily face cream, I notice a small blemish.  Strident or Olay?  Buying my still needed feminine products, an awareness of the next aisle looms with Poise and Depends.  Tween?

Perusing the makeup aisle, I go for the fake neutral camouflage look of natural.  Gone are my days of vibrant and glittery eyeshadow and I haven’t arrived at the stage where eyeshadow screams age instead of softening it.  Tween.

I have gray hair, but not enough to go for the beautiful silver fox look yet.  Not enough brunette is left to go au naturale.  So every four weeks or so, I do my L’Oreal chemistry bit, noxious fumes and all, in the bathroom.  I always wonder what I would do in an emergency where I could not rinse when the timer dinged.  Tween.

Joking about middle-aged woes with two couples, Steve remarked about his hair loss and hair gains.  “I went from head and shoulders to back and butt.”  Tween.

I felt fortunate.  I can pluck my chin hair.  I don’t think Nair has a product for backs and butts.

“You only live once, but if you do it right, once is enough.” ~Mae West~

Copyright © 2010

Rare Disease Awareness Day – February 28, 2010

I Have Ow-brows

“Beauty is skin deep.”

My last haircut by the new girl at the salon was great. Taking her time, she was meticulous in making sure my ends were even. I was impressed. I asked for her card. Last Tuesday, I was due for some serious shearing, (more like pruning), so I requested her again.

Starting to sport a handlebar moustache, I asked for a lip wax. Again, taking her time, and with professional precision, my lip was zipped to a baby smooth baldness. I asked to have my eyebrows done. Plucking is tedious and I wanted the perfect arch, which I got.

I think we have all heard:
“Be careful what you ask for.”
“She asked for it.”

Well, I did ask for it. In her pleasant voice, she warned, this may sting a little. Due to my health issues and having years of experience with various physicians, “This may sting a little,” is equivalent to asking, “You are on morphine, right?”

Being middle-aged, “This may sting a little,” goes back to my childhood, doctoring bee stings, splinters, and cuts with my mother’s cajoling when experience had taught me the wiser course would be to run for it.

Well the beautician zipped and I flipped. Putting a stinging lotion on my brows, she nonchalantly said, “This is a sensitive area.” Sensitive? I am thinking what if it had been a bikini wax?

Looking in the mirror when I got home, my eyebrows now have whitewalls under each perfect arch and a matching set of parched red skin under my whitewalls. I guess eyelid dermabrasion is a new freebie with the ow-brow wax.

Six days of daily burn application later, I have scaled twice. The red rage has softened to a pale pink. A thin coat of Vaseline, followed with foundation, gently powdered, and finished with a gray, pinkish hue of eye shadow, it is hardly noticeable.

Words from the king of the overgrown brow bush – Andy Rooney:
“A smile is an inexpensive way to improve your looks.”

He must have been traumatized by a brow waxing in his past. I will keep my teeth brushed, smile, but cling to my tweezers. And I left her a nice tip.

Copyright © 2010

Rare Disease Awareness Day – February 28, 2010

My Colonoscopy – (Procedure) Part 2

“All’s well that ends well.” ~Unknown~

Several people prepped me for my colonoscopy with tales, (interesting pun), of orbit-blasting day before colon cleansing as being the worst part of the ‘procedure.’ (Procedure emphasized with an ominous hush.)

The day before my ‘procedure’, I stopped at the store for my intestinal purge supplies while selecting from a severely limited list of food choices from the clear diet menu. I decided against the beef bouillon jello, jiggles as it moos.

Looking for the listed powdered laxative to mix in a Gatorade cocktail for my evening date with the bathroom, a female customer nabbed one of the two shelved bottles I needed. In a parody of a Black Friday sale, I grabbed the remaining bottle and consulted pharmacy…again. He had my second bottle behind the counter.

Getting my mojo going (?!?), I bought some magazines at the checkout, keeping our bathroom library current. I was prepared to prepare…grazing on Jello as I watched the clock for the appointed time to drink and be merry, sans eat.

I waited, and I waited. Finally the purge began to work, but it was not with the blasting urgency described by my talebearers. Toilet occupancy wasn’t wasted time. I read. I learned how to make a decorative snowman from packing peanuts. I kept gravitating to the Christmas recipes, appetizing yummies decadently portrayed in the magazines I had bought…torture when you are food-deprived.

Fasting was the most difficult part of the preparation for me. When I asked, I was informed it could not be considered a religious fast.

I arrive at the clinic, purged and starved. The receptionist asked me, in the now familiar hushed tone, if I was there for my ‘procedure.'” Endosocopy and gastroenterology are visibly displayed outside and inside the clinic. What am I missing? Obviously I am not here for teeth cleaning.

Entering the waiting room, I am handed papers at another window with the same whispered seriousness, “for your ‘procedure.'” Joking with the medical assistant about the espionage approach with the term ‘procedure,’ she explains some people are sensitive to privacy. I’m thinking, “Colonoscopy, privacy, sensitivity…better get over it, fast.”

An airport-type arrival/departure ticker displays the ten ‘procedural’ physicians and if they are on time or delayed. My doctor is on a 30-minute delay pushing back my anticipated meal. The waiting room filled with the privacy sensitive have the same check-in paper work as I do. Secret’s out.

My flight has arrived as my name is finally called. The ‘procedure’ holding area is filled with men and women laying on gurneys in tiny cubicles wearing hospital gowns (obvious slit in back), the one ultra-thin issued white blanket, connected to IV poles. Can we say colonoscopy yet?

Dressed down and hooked up, I am wheeled to the ‘procedure’ room, given something in my IV much better than the laxative laced Gatorade the night before…and I am awakened a few minutes later…

As I am perimenopausal, diabetic, and have a rare disorder, my medical test results rate me as remedial patient. I was ecstatic to have aced my colonoscopy…a ‘normal’ healthy colon with a 4.0! I am not scheduled for another one for 10 years. I just have to live that long.

A Cracker Barrel celebration of chicken and dumplings with three sides followed.  I was actually given pictures of my perfect colon.  Scrapbook or frame?

On a serious note: Having a rare disorder, Stiff Person Syndrome and diabetes, my social calendar involves dinner after appointments. It is hard to work in routine screenings, but important. SPS can make routine screenings a challenge.

The challenge for my colonoscopy was the sedation dangers associated with the medications used to treat SPS. I emailed information to my doctor prior. My doctor, anesthesiologist, and I discussed how SPS specifically affects me and made some strategic ‘just in case’ plans. Thankfully, everything went very well.

I did not dread having a colonoscopy. I dreaded the possible result…colon cancer. Colonoscopies have evolved, in my opinion, into not that big of a deal. My peace of mind was worth it.

Now, I will have to explore the Freudian aspect of why I ate at a ‘Cracker’ Barrel after a colonoscopy? …I mean…procedure.

Copyright © 2009