Category Archives: autoimmune

The Long Journey to Be Honest with Self

I have had one heck of a negative year with my pancreas issues.  I have complained, blamed, made excuses, put off, until my body finally stopped me in my tracks and said it’s time to take a hard look at what you have, why you have it and what needs to be done.

What needs to be done is……. take control of this disease, advocate for myself, fight, fight, fight whoever wants to stray from the initial diagnosis and go on wild goose chases. But most importantly, listen to God.  He has my back, He does lead me where I need to go, but I have stubbornly spent my precious time and energy, which is now exhausted, doing the wrong things.

I believe, now, that by the time you’re my age, you KNOW your body.  You know what doesn’t feel right.  You know when things are off, when things aren’t working.  Also, hopefully you’ve come to the realization that doctors aren’t all saints that have ALL the answers.  They are people who’ve  spent years training.  But if they haven’t trained in what ails you, and they don’t send you to someone who has, you may find yourself in situations that are life threatening, frustrating and useless.

I have chronic pancreatitis, along with a bile duct that gets obstructed.  My pancreas is also very sick with other problems which have begun to affect my blood sugar (I am not diabetic) and has caused me to have bouts of dangerously low drops in my blood glucose while in the hospital, sending doctors and nurses rushing in with orange juice, IV bags, questions.  Finally the answers to my questions of what is going on?! “Your glucose is 41, dangerously low, do you have diabetes?” No I don’t and I’ve been in the hospital now for five days, I think that would have been brought up.

I don’t care WHAT the labs say, just because my lipase isn’t sky high on this particular day, doesn’t mean I don’t have a problem in the area.  Just because my pancreas looked smashingly well on an EUS a month after I healed from a bout of pancreatitis and I only show a dilated duct, doesn’t mean something isn’t amiss.

I have had hospital stays after attacks have started where my lipase was sky high.  Ending up in the hospital for days on ice chips to give my pancreas a break.  Followed by weeks of feeling better.  Then it comes back.  These past six months a new and frightening symptom has emerged, severe weight loss and malnutrition along with blood glucose levels that drop to dangerous lows I knew nothing about until tested while in the hospital. Since I am not diabetic, I guess my sick pancreas is having an affect on my blood sugar.  I can’t gain weight dang it, and it’s so low I’ve had to be admitted for a feeding tube.  The feeding tube in the nose idea didn’t work, seems that I have an esophagus problem too.

Why blog about my crazy health? Because maybe there is a person out there, at home alone, scared, in pain, no answers just like me, scouring the Internet for others suffering.  Are they alone? Is this normal? Am I going to be ok? That’s what I’ve been doing and seeing that there are people suffering and their stories have helped me to understand I am not alone and although my heart aches for them as I read their stories, I draw upon their strength. 

There is something about how God leads me to the places that I need to be. He opens doors that take me to answers I needed. I don’t want to wake up every morning only to complain and be depressed because I have a problem with this.  First off, I want to wake up every morning!  Secondly I want to have a positive plan to get healthy, fix the problem and if it isn’t fixable then learn ways to live a full life with it.

There ARE people out there doing so.  I have family, friends that I love that I want to enjoy.  I haven’t been because I haven’t fought hard enough to get well.  Oh I’ve followed every doctor’s order, I eat what I’m supposed to, I’m trying with ALL my might to do what I’m told BUT, since I know my body better than anyone, I no longer blindly follow those doctors who say “yes you have an odd pancreas bile duct issue going on. If you get sick again just go to your local ER.”

No, that’s not good enough. Because my local ER is busy and even though my medical records are on that computer in their entirety, I must fully explain my health issues in between violent throwing up and severe pain. I must wait, even as my husband begs them to contact my doctor, for an ER doctor to determine if I’m a drug seeker, or am I REALLY having a pancreas attack? Am I 88 lbs because I binge and purge and I I have anorexic nervosa? Or, am I a closet alcoholic and this is causing me to have bouts of pancreatitis? They have to rule everything out and even though it’s frustrating I do understand why. That’s their job and they DO have to deal with these scenarios. But I’m not able to bypass the 20 questions like the old days and get going on an IV for my dehydration and to get this horrible nausea stopped. So the “go to the ER” just isn’t a good option. If I’m sick enough in whatever ER doctor’s eyes, I will be admitted for observation and a week of ice chips only to rest my sick pancreas.  What I want are answers and a plan. A plan to fix what is broken.

If it can’t be fixed, I don’t want these diagnoses that are like picked out of a hat of illnesses. Only to find out after expensive repeated testing I do not have that. Yes, it’s a lot like that, and it got me out of your ER and home drugged to the max, but I don’t have that and with each attack I’m getting worse.

My last hospital stay was a scary fiasco with different doctors coming up with different ideas. None of them having a thing to do with my pancreas. But like a good soldier I listened and did as told. But it made me realize I need to keep looking for that specialist that understands this very difficult area in my body. I’ve waited months to see my GI Specialist that took months to get a referral to.  My third GI doctor. But they didn’t come to the hospital as the dry erase board hanging in my hospital room said they would. I’ve no idea why until I’m told after release they didn’t know I was in the hospital. They knew because they’re the ones who told me to go to the ER and then be admitted.

Can you see my frustration? It’s difficult to fight, fight, fight when you are sick and weak. So fortunately I have an advocate. He stepped in because I FINALLY gave him the go ahead. My husband, whom I thought would overreact with his Italian anger was instead, professional, eloquent in his delivery of his concerns for me and spoke with the doctor’s and nurses at length. Something I couldn’t do. He was able to get our concerns across, to say it isn’t acceptable to allow a human being to starve and suffer. 

My daughter had told me that sometimes we need to take an honest look at ourselves, to be honest with ourselves. I didn’t understand what she meant at the time but I do now. That the only person who is going to fix me is me. Every one else are the tools I must use. The days of me trying to do this alone, trying to hide my pain and be the smiling, happy go lucky healthy person who just happens to look like death at 88 lbs. are over. I need help and I finally asked for it and allowed my husband to step in. 

The battle is still being waged, but with God, an advocate in my husband, support and knowledge from my daughter and love from my friends this battle has become easier to fight while it’s become more serious. But I have my tools, (sorry hubby and daughter, you’re not really tools) and I have a Loving Father to lean on. I have Jesus’s words to hold onto. They DO give me the strength I need and the knowledge that if this is what my life is to be right now, then do it as I try to do all things, pleasing to God. 

We are all just passing through anyway. As the scripture my late and dearly loved brother in law held firmly to, and shared with me as he knew he would soon be going to his heavenly home.

2 Corinthians 1:3-4

Praise to the God of All Comfort

3 Praise be to the God and Father of our Lord Jesus Christ, the Father of compassion and the God of all comfort, 4 who comforts us in all our troubles, so that we can comfort those in any trouble with the comfort we ourselves receive from God.

I am comforted because I know where I’m going. But for now, I am here fighting the good fight. I may be officially called malnutritioned and have a chronically inflamed pancreas (I have so many different official diagnoses in my records but they all mean the same thing, just each doctor has a different name for it) and a stricture in my bile duct, I’m still perfectly perfect and a child of the most high God. It’s my belief and I don’t ever feel the need to explain it. I just know. 

Home from the hospital & posing with the grandsons!

Finally, to end this post I will leave you with the words of the last GI Specialist who took care of me in the hospital. As I waited anxiously in my hospital bed for him to come by to explain what he found in my latest testing….. “well, looks like you ate a little. Good! I think you have an esophagus problem too. You’ll get a call from my office, I’ve got to run, my wife is waiting at the airport!”

Ahhhhh, I know I feel better knowing NOTHING. The calmness I felt at a time I would have busted out crying which would have served no purpose can only have come from God. He calms my fears. 

Let’s Be Honest….Rowing My Boat

This summarizes being ill.... Just Keep Rowing Your Boat!
This summarizes being ill….
Just Keep Rowing Your Boat!

I haven’t “blogged” for awhile. I haven’t felt like it.  Not inspired to share anything with anyone even though I’m the only person who probably reads this blog. I guess I didn’t want to share anything with myself it sounds like…. “SHARE” a funny word to use. You “share” your pizza, you “share” your crayons. I decided to look the definition up in the Internet dictionary.  WOW! There’s the noun definition, the verb (used with object) definition, the verb (used without object) definition, the adverb definition and the Idioms. None of which fit “sharing bad news or how bad you feel.”

I use this blog to write my feelings that need to come out in an honest way and if someone who searches the tags I use, might find it, maybe they’ll see that they are not alone in feeling miserable. Even though they Love the Lord as I do, have unshakable Faith (wait, I guess mine is NOT unshakable?) they know He walks their journey with them, but they have many hours of feeling alone, afraid, or angry. That doesn’t mean they have lost their Faith, it just means they are HUMAN. When I write, I ramble. When I talk, I ramble.  I jump all over the place, I wish I didn’t, but I do. I probably break every rule I was taught in English Comp. I KNOW I’m breaking every common core rule. But I don’t really care, WordPress has allowed us to have free blogs and dang it, I’m going to BLOG!

Continue reading Let’s Be Honest….Rowing My Boat

Bitter Pills

imageThe Hits or “Pills” as I call them, keep coming. I again take from Kara’s blog, a kindred spirit. What she’s blogged is what I feel but have been unable to put into words.

But here goes….
These big pills life keeps throwing have been tough to swallow. They are nasty, big, painful and they are refusing to go down. To those that know me and have cared, thank you for hearing my heavy heart. Thank you for loving me in the midst of my fear and despair. I’m tired of me. Thank you for hanging in here with me. I love you and every prayer you pray for me. To my friends and family, forgive me for avoiding you. My pain is great both inside and out, and I’m fighting out of this hole. Please know you are much loved. Your acts of kindness may seem small to you but are huge to me. I so appreciate that when you seek me out, it is to share a smile and not ask of me anything. You don’t point out the mountains that stand in my way, reminding me I have to eventually climb them, you don’t ask questions. Because you know me well enough to see it on my face, or by my actions, that I’m not well and that I’m fighting. You understand that I do not want to talk about my illness. I don’t want to be reminded I feel horrible. I know I’m missing out on important friendships and relationships but I’m sick and trying to act anything other than that is too hard for me now.

I’m Dorothy in the Wizard of Oz standing with my little dog Sophie in the long hallway, and the wizard is behind the curtain, I finally get a moment of his precious time, he will see me now. When I pull the curtain back there sits a man with a white lab coat and a name written on it.

Continue reading Bitter Pills

Once in a blue moon

Blue Moon, July 31, 2015
Blue Moon, July 31, 2015

NOW I get it. I’ve used it many times, “once in a blue moon.” It doesn’t happen very often, and as I said, “as sure as the sun goes down and this moon comes up, I’ll be fighting.” Little did I know this event would fit my situation so well. That when you are living a life with obstacles around every corner, it’s easy to just be a negative person with no joy to be found OR be the most positive inspiration ever, smiling through your pain and telling others who suffer that they too can smile, be positive and BEAT THIS DISEASE!

I live my life in reality. If I feel crummy, I go seek out those things that have brought me joy; music, nature, the mountains, the sky, humor. So a support group for me isn’t an option, I don’t want to sit and compare my aches, my chances, or compare symptoms. I want to smile, laugh, sleep if I want. Because Lupus isn’t WHO I am, it’s an illness I have, and it doesn’t define me. That’s the positive message I want to share. That I’ll not always have the answers to my own personal struggles that come and go with lupus, but once in a blue moon it will hit me, “yes, sure today was crummy, tomorrow may be worse? So it’s time to go seek those things that brought me joy at one time. Keep fighting it. Laughter, smiling, beauty we see with the eye or hear with the ear release endorphins that no drug I’ve been prescribed yet can match for changing my crummy attitude.”

imageI was lupus tired yesterday. I figured there would be no viewing of a blue moon last night. But I set my tripod up anyway and when it showed up, well that was it! I was no longer tired, and I started snapping pictures. For an hour I forgot about struggles, aches and pains, and enjoyed a once in a blue moon moment! So, if you’re having a tough day getting through the maze of pain, illness, fear, and stumbled upon this blog, this is how I “deal” with the negative, by seeking out the positive. Doesn’t always work, but sometimes it does. I’m my own support because I know myself best.  There is beauty everywhere in this hateful world.

As sure as the sun goes down and this moon comes up, I’ll be fighting

Taken in July 2015. Made me feel good to just stare and taken it all in...
Taken in July 2015. Made me feel good to just stare and taken it all in…

I can do this.  I can. And once I’ve done it, I will help someone else hear those words and BELIEVE them.  If you can, reach out and offer your hand or your positive wisdom to someone having a crummy day.  Not for a “Nicesest Person” award for the week, but because you looked in their eyes and saw the pain you’re so familiar with.

Something I’ve realized lately as well.  When you are sick with an illness, such as MS, Cancer, CF, or my little companion, Systemic Lupus (SLE) and are in pain and dealing with all that illness brings daily…..you don’t have the energy or the “give a rip” to even give those who speak about you and your illness a second thought.  You don’t care to address the “but you don’t look sick” comments. It doesn’t matter what others think, you are just too busy hanging on.

INSPIRATION FRUSTRATION

Taking advice from Ben Huberman at The Daily Post I decided to start rhyming.

image
INSPIRATION FRUSTRATION

Inspiration all around
Turn on the smile, forget the frown.
But like every day there’s only pain,
Do I have to inspire or I won’t gain?

Gain the understanding, I need a hug.
Gain respect of this elite club.
Where pain & malaise is your daily routine,
And being inspiring makes you the queen.

It’s OK to have a Bad Day
Do I dare share that here,
or just hold it near, keep it
Together, full of good cheer.

I’m tired of smiling
Through my pain.
I’m tired of happy quotes
Because, today’s a bad day
Lupus Sucks, that’s my quote.

For once I’d like to say
this lupus sucks.
For once I’d leave out the “aww shucks!
It’s ok, I’m fine, I can beat this
In time!
I’m fine, give me time, it’s just a bout of bad luck”

So I write my feelings in
Draft form.
Of wrenching in pain, that’s my norm.
This day is BAD, no smile you’ll see.
Along with no hope, no happy, no end will there be?

Of suffering with an illness that has no cure.
That’s not inspiring, that’s for sure.

I don’t hit Publish
Only Save will I choose.
And keep it private to look at when days are unsure.
To remind me I don’t have to
always be strong,
and crying from frustration is not wrong.

Then wait for the next day I can smile and inspire.
Hit publish, look at me!
I got this! I’m a warrior, no frown will you see.

But the truth of this matter
My experience will tell me
A smile sends endorphins
that help me to be
A far better version of the person that’s me.

I have to admit, my first try at rhyming sounds a lot like Cat in the Hat. Maybe it’s because I read to my grandkids so much?

From There To Here….and back again

Having this inconvenient, obnoxious visitor who never leaves, it begins to wear a person down.

Before & After
Before & After

HOWEVER, if you are fortunate, you’ll get a break here & there. You’ll learn to rally. Life CAN be good again. May never be the “same” but there is always hope for better days, weeks, months. I’m still “SUSIE”…. I’m just different than before which calls for new memories to be made. Therefore I prefer to call my “battle” with Lupus SLE a “JOURNEY”
Or, better yet, a treasure hunt. But the treasures may not always be the good stuff you can take to the pawn shop. It may be the frustrating, scary stuff that makes you appreciate life, family and friends.