Happy 2016 everyone! Another year, another adventure! Yes, on this road I like to call “The Road Less Traveled is often a better route” so why is that statement so profound? Because I’ve taken the road less traveled and it a slower pace where we can stop and smell the roses. We can listen to our bodies and not jump to conclusions.
I’m tired of being the complaining woman who shares her dismay with this or that on a blog with strangers. I don’t want to be the woman who sings of butterflies and “it’s all going to work out JUST FINE if you just believe” either. I’ve grown weary of both. Neither gets me anywhere and since I’m writing this, not for my own enjoyment because I’m not a writer. But because it’s a free blog, no one listens to me anyway when I speak, so why not write my random thoughts down so I can make sense of them…..not…I can’t make sense of nothing.
OK, in all seriousness, I’m writing this to share what it’s like having systemic lupus and a bile duct that likes to sludge up sometimes and in the last three years apparently it has because I’ve found myself really sick and losing weight. This after 42 years of mostly healthy cluelessness about how our bodies can decide to get sick and go haywire, and how I cope with all that comes with that. But apparently, in the space of about five minutes of writing this, I’ve once again become the complaining woman who is sharing her dismay, but with a twist this year! Learn to deal with it, find the positives, and live this life given to me with as much gusto and enthusiasm as I did the first 42 years of it. No one wants to hear a sad sack “sad sacking.” I’m much older now and thoughts come out of nowhere, profound ones. In the middle of the night which I feel is because I’m totally preoccupied with being sick. Versus when I was a young “thang” living out on the ranch the only diseases I knew of were the ones I was helping my parents treat the cattle and horses for and my sicknesses were limited to sore throats and broken arms. I now have illnesses with dirty sounding names like Common Bile Duct dilation, Sphinter of Oddi (that’s a diagnosis I’m not too sure about) Lupus (not dirty, just sounds like a worm or something), and we don’t really get to pick and choose our diseases. Not fair, just throw it in that pile there with the other things I say aren’t fair. As my mom used to say, “honey, nothing is fair in life, you just need to move around that and keep going.” Plus, I am thankful I do not have cancer. I had it once, melanoma but the great surgeons got it all and I’m SO thankful because I’ve watched too many dear relatives and friends fight cancer, and lose. In my own family all the women have had or have cancer. Out of five of us ladies, only one has been cancer free, but truth be known she did have the diagnosis but fought it and won, privately. My oldest sister is a two time breast cancer survivor, but is battling Padgetts Disease right now. My third sister died at 55 years of age of a quick cancer that spread to her brain. My mom died from COPD but had terminal melanoma at the time. In her early years she beat uterine cancer. Cancer is evil.
I’ve found that for the most part in my own seven year odyssey of illness that my biggest frustration isn’t the illnesses or the pain or the fear of dying that was unfounded, but rather the “professionals” who are charged with diagnosing me and treating me. Not all, but in my case, a large percentage.
I’m a firm believer that the words a physician tells you carry huge consequences or hope. They can make a mild situation into a fearful, stay awake at night, get your affairs in order situation or, they can explain it like it is, a problem that they’ll work with me on. Those good doctors sit and listen, pay attention (I like it when they pay attention), and speak the truth, that is, “they aren’t sure at this point however, they are going to research this particular symptom, talk to some specialists, and at our next visit they’ll have some answers. If they don’t find answers they are dedicated to helping me find someone who can.” You would think this is how it always goes for people but I’m here to say, no it doesn’t and if it doesn’t, no matter what, don’t jump to conclusions, you are a real person and it’s only speculation at this point. Wait until you get the tests, scans, proof.
Of course, coming in a close second in the frustration department is the “hospital gown” that hasn’t changed since I broke my arm in first grade YEARS ago and I assume weren’t new then either. Is it so we, the patient, can feel really stripped of everything, having no dignity, and asked to go parade the halls of the medical center, IV in tow trying to hold the back of our gowns together (which would fit my horse and hangs ridiculously tangled off, not on, my 95 lbs. of pure spunk like the white sheets covering Adele’s furniture in her video, “Hello”) Yes, it has served its purpose of being easily accessible for those stomach exams and IV opportunities, and its main purpose, to humiliate the 1 ounce of self esteem that remains in my body has been accomplished. Someday, someone is going to invent a NEW hospital gown that will be headline news. Whoever does I hope they win an award on one of the award shows or Tim Gunn from Project Runway shows up and says, “oh my! Your use of actual snaps and a drawstring is SO INNOVATIVE!”
Oh, I guess there’s a tie here folks, also in second place is….sitting upright in a hospital bed, early in the morning, hair sticking up everywhere, no makeup, in that stupid gown, when the hospital physician of the day does their rounds. I’ve learned that hospitals have physicians whom work just at the hospital as a team leader of sorts. Sitting there staring at each other he wins the “who’s more important” right off the bat. He’s dressed in a suit, seems in a hurry, acts important, and wears that stethoscope like it’s his binky. I’m being rude, I KNOW not all are like this but for whatever reason I’ve encountered the hospital doctor who is so overworked he’s got no time to ask someone why you’ve been admitted so he can at least tell you. I used to be unflappable, we are all created equal I felt, and the only difference isn’t the level of education or what we drive, but rather our “Common Sense Score” which sets stupid folks apart from people who aren’t so stupid. I’m not being mean, I should explain, I’m saying I could be considered stupid but stupid to me means, “oh this stupid pill bottle won’t open, oh this stupid remote isn’t working again” it really means nothing about class or education, it’s just a word I use when I’m upset with something, so it must be stupid. So, staring back at me is a man, who looks at the laptop and says, so you are very thin, it appears you’re having problems with diarrhea. No, I don’t have that. I’m having double over pain in upper abdomen and can’t keep anything down. Oh, ok, well we’re going to give you fluids and keep you comfortable. Any reason you’re not eating? This is where my “stupid” statement comes in, “please look at my stupid record in its entirety. I was 107 lbs, now I’m 90 lbs. I’m sick and please please do not give me that pain medication. It’s making me feel worse.”
So back on track here, the mere fact I’m half naked in a hospital where I don’t know anyone, with a personality extremely like the chipmunks (not the dancers) Chip and Dale. I say “I’m sorry!” for situations I shouldn’t be sorry for. Such as, if someone runs their cart into me at the grocery store I say, “Oh I’m so sorry” and pick my cart UP and move it over, “after you, oh no! after you!, oh not I couldn’t possibly go first even though I was here first, you go!” then they do. At the hospital I feel I’m putting everyone out, I won’t ring that call button unless I just can’t hold it any longer, then say “I’m so sorry” as the nurse enters my room. Until weeks later and I get the bill then I get mad at myself that I wouldn’t bother the nurses for anything, apparently I’m charged dearly for their care. I’m not sure they get that money though.
Sometimes I feel as though she’s reading my mind. I thought no one else could possibly know, much less understand, my internal struggle. Or, have the same feelings as I do about my lupus. This blog is so well written, so raw, it’s healing my heart knowing I’m not alone. I always hear, “oh you’re not alone Susie, join a support group and find others to connect with!” Well I’ve tried but there was no connecting, just complaining. If I wanted to spend my precious energy getting ready, dressed, hair up in ponytail, and drive my tired aching body somewhere for support and to meet people dealing with the same illness I have, I don’t want to be brought down by the never ending competition for the evening of “who’s got a worse life today?” I want to learn how others cope, how I can change my attitude which at the present time is only adding to my depression and loss of hope.
This blog right here helps me in a positive way. Let go and Let God, be thankful for THIS day here, and whatever awaits me in the morning I shall deal with then.
I was laying in bed this morning, debating if I should get up and take my medication or just lay here and try to go back to sleep. But that crazy question that has no answer continued to haunt me this morning. What is the meaning of this life I’m living? I can’t figure out what my reason for being is. I wonder if I’m living or existing. My days feel empty to me, yet I bask in my solitude and it makes as much sense as the life I live. I’m doing what I must do to wake each day, take meds, sleep, eat and shit. I go visit doctors to analyze my health; I go to the physical therapy/rehab. I spend hours on Facebook, peeking into other people’s lives and playing a game that has no real purpose.
Life once made sense, or maybe I thought it did…
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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!
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.
*This article was written by a guest blogger. Sidany Hilburn, the Reporter for Quapaw FFA Chapter*
My small FFA chapter in Quapaw, Oklahoma recently began accepting seventh grade students to enroll in agricultural education. The class is divided between seventh and eighth grade students, a class that was so unexpectedly large that some students found themselves sitting on the floor. The sight of younger members engaging in FFA is one of my favorite sights; I often find myself wandering the ag building before first hour when they are impatiently awaiting our Ag teacher. I was preparing for an event one day this week and had my FFA jacket in hand when I walked into the classroom. A seventh grade student looked at my jacket and said; “That is sooo ugly.” For the first time in my FFA career, I was speechless. All I could do was stare, but looking back, I…
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