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Gardening on Your Belly

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By Jeanne B. - “once a manager of a million-dollar retail flower shop; LPN, single parent, homeowner, superwoman” • • October 4, 2006

This personal story, written some years ago, is reproduced with permission from the Wisconsin ME/CFS Association Web site.*


Perhaps the best time to write about our “passions” is during the times we are unable to be with them.

I have many passions, as do most of my brothers and sisters [with ME/CFS and fibromyalgia]. We’re told it fits our profile… sounds almost criminal, doesn’t it? Each of my passions comes with a specific price tag I must pay.

So what’s the big deal, you ask? Our payment is measured in days, or two or six, flat in bed with bathroom privileges only. Oh you “couch-potatoes,” you ain’t nuthin’ till you’ve become a “bed-banana.”

Anyway, back to my greatest passion... gardening... gardening of any and all kinds. I live to dig in the dirt, get covered with grass stains, plant, mow, haul, design, mulch, prune, WHEW, you name it; if it had to do with gardens I loved it and I did it!

This year's efforts were a stitch; well, at least the final outcome was laughable.

OK. OK. OK. I admit to tears of frustration and anger. That's normal when your body goes on hiatus (oh that sounds so medical) from your mind. After five trips over a two-week period of time to pick out what we needed this year I was armed with my usual five flats of annuals, three hanging baskets and about six new perennials to add to our ever growing gardens. You see there is a method to my madness, more gardens means less mowing!

Alas, there I was surrounded with all my finery; exhausted with no place to go but bed and I hadn't even started.

For the next few days my husband kept the flats watered till the energizer bunny visited my pillow with his half-used batteries, and I heard him exclaim as he drummed out of sight “Sorry lady, that's the best you can do.”

Now, mind you, all this bed time I'm planning. I'll plant these here and then put that over there and next do this and voila! All this in only four to six hours, watch me.

Hello-o-o-o-o-o ... Earth To Jeanne ... Earth To Jeanne, Reality Check In Progress.

My first day out of bed found me standing in our side yard with the five flats of plants that my husband hauled from the courtyard. I started as I always did - walk around the garden, squinting my eyes and visualizing blocks of color. Next I picked out the first four-pack and pinched the plugs out (that's floral talk for squeezing the little flowers out of their little containers), and walked the garden bending over and placing each one in its exact spot.

Do that 120 times and then go back and plant each one.

Yeah right! After sheer exhaustion from just the visualizing walk with the first four-pack in hand, I was lying on the ground wondering how I was going to get back in the house.

The feelings of guilt and failure overwhelmed me as I realized my elderly husband may have to plant the garden this year - without me.

Next day came the real “reality” check. My husband said, “No gardening.” I said, “I'll die first,” as he stormed out the back door. When he did return he found me sitting on my bottom again, only this time I was outside by the garden, flower packs in hand. As I pinched them out they were launched from where I sat and were going to be planted wherever they landed.

I had embarked on a new gardening technique. I was on the cutting edge of my own “victory garden” and wasn't aware at first that my husband was standing there grinning from ear to ear at my tenacity. After all, symmetry can drive ya nuts sometimes.

“Honey,” he said, “I think I've got something to add to your new method of gardening that might make things a little easier. Try this.” With that, he handed me a full sized chaise lounge cushion for me to lie down on and garden.

It's truly a brilliant idea! It saves me countless days in bed. I dig a hole or pull a weed; then take an hour nap without moving.

Lots of people honk as they drive by, and I'm sure I can hear them muttering things about the “epitome of laziness,” but I could give a rip! What does have me a little on edge and a little worried are these big black birds that look like vultures that keep circling over head lately. Guess I'd better move. Next year it’s two cushions side by side, so I can log roll to the next spot.

Hi ho neighbor, see ya then, with more tips from the garden patch. All kidding aside, try it, it works!


* This material is reproduced with the author's kind permission, from the Wisconsin ME/CFS Association Web site (, where you will find many more wonderful personal stories by and for ME/CFS and fibromyalgia patients in The Badger State. ©Wisconsin ME/CFS Association Inc. all rights reserved.

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