My Story - Madaline Franz
In 2003, I was working hard as a dog groomer, while living with my brother and
sister-in-law. I was single but got involved with a neighbor man and became his wife
shortly after. I had been hurt from a couple previous romances with men who made empty
promises. This was different. I decided that it would be good to be married to someone
entirely different from any man I had chosen before.
I had every issue that can make the average 'young' bride stress out so terribly. But
this time, I was 49 years old. I had raised four beautiful kids and divorced my best
friend. I had already dealt with all the woes of young motherhood, broken dreams and
poverty. Twice over!
As a new, old bride, the stress started because I wanted to have everything go perfectly.
I worked hard all day struggling with stubborn dogs with sharp teeth and nails. (Actually
I loved the dogs, just the politics of the store was horrible. No matter what the
condition, we had to get as many dogs done as fast as we could. That place just wanted
the money.) Then I would run home to clean house and cook a dinner especially nice.
With my new husband, I inherited a different kind of family. I wanted them all to love
me, these people I hardly knew. Their coping and communication styles were so different
- they were a very somber, quiet, and distant people. I couldn't help but think, "why
in the world am I here?"
I was a new step-mom to a very miserable 16 year old girl and to an 18 year old kid that
was in jail. "What the hell am I doing here? This isn't fun." My new husband had quite a
temper and yelled a lot. I felt like an idiot. I missed my son, who went to live with
his older sister. My insides were boiling - my only son, my baby, is not with his stupid
mother. I miss my girls; they are so sweet and lovable. And I especially miss Heidi, my
little buddy, who moved in with her boyfriend. I hurt without her; she is a funny witty
little angel. I hated myself.
Well it all hit me hard physically. First, I had what my doctor said was a stroke. I
couldn't move and I couldn't talk. My brain was saying one thing and my mouth another.
It was brief, thank God, and I took some aspirin and was better in couple of hours. But
it was so frightening. Then I started noticing that I could hardly make it through a
half-day. I started experiencing horrible exhaustion and pain. I also spent almost a
month of bleeding every time I had to go pee. I was so exhausted and scared. Then I spent
a week or two in bed with severe sinus infection/flu and my health has never, ever
completely recovered. I felt like a huge boulder fell on me. It was as if every night,
in my sleep, I was in a dryer being tumbled about. Then in the mornings, I would be
dizzy and in so much pain. I lost my job.
I cannot keep up with the person I use to be. One doctor diagnosed me with fibromyalgia.
Why not? Everyone else has that! Another doctor had brain scan done, thinking that may
have multiple sclerosis (MS). The brain scan came back with white spots conducive to
MS but the neurologist said no.
It is M.E. Or in the U.S it is called Chronic Fatigue Syndrome. The white spots seen
from the MRI are from painful migraines, doctors think. I had an abnormal brain scan
and I think I have lost some memories.
Even on good days, like today, I still have to remain laying down. I can no longer sit
and paint or sit and visit. On some extra good days I can go to town and shop some, but
I always have to come home and recline flat. And I always pay for it by sleeping for
two-five days afterward. How long has this been going on? One day runs into another. One
month into another. One year into another. I haven't moved. I am now 58 and I haven't
budged. I can't.
I made the decision I must remain thankful and blessed. The alternative is to curl up
and die. I am grateful that I have a husband that does love me and puts up with my
condition. (After our rough start, we have learned how to live compatibly). I live on
the side of a hill on five acres. I look out my window and get surprised by my favorite
animals. One day a huge, beautiful wolf visited me. On another day it was a mama bear
and her twins. Sometimes it's just a blue jay or a squirrel. No matter, I adore them
I have been doing so much better since I have met some amazing people who are also
suffering from this very misunderstood disease. It is not just a syndrome - such a slap
in the face for us sufferers!
I smile more now, I think about my beautiful grandkids and my family I have made, who
have now grown into four, awesome adults. Anyone would be honored and blessed to have
these kids, but they are mine!
I have learned, and am still learning; that my life is not over - it is just different.
I pray we get a cure someday soon. Although I am thankful for everyday, there are things
I still miss, like walking my dogs or traveling to go be with my kids. I long to paint
outdoors again, but without the pain and exhaustion. Someday.