Today was my birthday, and a gift I got myself, besides the whole being in Belgium thing, was the opera. I guess I should write a blog about how this opera love of mine came to be, but for now, just know I love opera, especially as experienced in Europe’s historic grand opera houses.
Tonight, the opera was difficult for me, because of my fibromyalgia.
1. I didn’t want to check my coat, but it’s mandatory. Fibro includes mental health symptoms, and mine include anxiety. I don’t tolerate crowds well, and coat check means I’ll need to get in line. I pouted at the man who gently delivered these orders, and I checked my coat.
2. I dozed off. With fibro, jetlag hits me hard, as do the meds I’m taking right now to keep my irritable bowel syndrome (IBS) from getting too awful [check out my other 2 blogs published today, both about IBS]. I was embarrassed because I caught myself in a grandpa-style, gaping-mouth nod-off more than once. I couldn’t follow the opera too closely anyway because it was in French and subtitled in Dutch, but I’m so sad about the music I missed.
3. During intermission, I bolted to the concessions in the ballroom seeking coffee and something sugary. There was no order to the line. People were packed all around me, pressing against me in a still stampede. All taller than I at 5’2″. I shoved myself to the counter out of order and I was grumpy. The crowd was a horror to me because I was anxious as well as dizzy.
4. At the end, I didn’t clap. Not because I didn’t love it. They did a beyond-fabulous job at Fromental Halévy’s La Juive. My hands hurt, all the time. Clapping is miserable.
5. I bailed from my box before curtain call was over. The woman clapping behind me cupped that air so raucously, it made my head thud and ears literally hurt every time her hands banged out praise. I’m very sensitive to loud noises. Also, I wanted my coat without my getting mashed again.
I don’t get upset when I’m in the grocery store and an elderly woman is walking very slowly, blocking the aisle. I never honk at slow drivers. I don’t run from people who act “weird.” I understand that they, like me, might be struggling with something that prevents them from appearing perfectly behaved to people around them.
Having fibromyalgia has taught me even more patience than waiting with Grandma for her oncologist who was always two to three hours behind on his appointments.
I hope you’ve allowed your condition to gift you with higher perspectives. And if you’re not struggling with a disability, I hope my sharing this story can help you be a little more patient with us. Trust me, we usually are very conscious of how we come across, and it’s not a pleasant feeling.
As for the opera, I pretty much knew all day that I’d probably miss a bit of it. But if you’ve read my book, or bumped into some of my other content, you know my philosophy….
If you can’t do it right, do it wrong.