With this new year has come a strange calm. A feeling that the control I thought I didn’t have I’ve never really lost. That being a healthy, active wife, mother for years to suddenly a disabled shadow of a person wasn’t because an illness came and took over, taking my control with it and making me a useless burden. But rather I was never promised the perfect life without struggles, and that is a good thing. Because it’s honestly is through the struggles of illness I have grown to be a better wife, mother and now grandmother.
There are hundreds of books by inspiring writers who are soldiering through illnesses, situations, troubles. On any given day I can turn the television on and accidentally end up watching an inspiring interview of a person who is beating the odds and thriving during adversity or scroll down my Facebook Newsfeed to see more inspiring stories, situations that are far worse than mine could ever be. It’s during these moments I realize that had I not “gotten” Lupus or struggled with Achalasia I think I would have just turned the channel, or just kept scrolling down my Newsfeed until a funny video caught my eye or a new recipe looked like something I should copy down. That my illnesses have made me more in tune to others. Their stories inspire me, some break my heart, some anger me and push me to join the cause. My illnesses opened up a world, one of compassion, understanding and strength. Continue reading Arriving at Acceptance, the Stages of an Illness→
I’m not a professional photographer. I’m a person, with a camera who happens to love taking photos of the things in my life that bring me joy or things I want to have to look at in the future. Being ill with chronic illnesses is a full-time job. Swirling around me are doctor appointments, managing the phone calls reminding me of doctor appointments, invasive tests, pain, questions, medical bills, hospital visits, anger, wrong diagnosis, right diagnosis, trips to the pharmacy, insurance problems, explaining… lots and lots of explaining. This is along with living life as a wife, mother and grandparent trying to act like I’m just fine because everyone has an opinion, if you just keep your struggles or problems to yourself then you don’t have to listen to the well meaning loved ones constant suggestions or, sometimes their anger at you. I don’t blame them, I understand that they love me, maybe they’re scared but trying to not act it, their life is affected too. I know when they’re using my illness as a way to not take responsibility for bad or rude behavior or saying hurtful things as well. I don’t care if I’m sick or 100% healthy, I have learned that if someone sees your weakness, and they know you don’t have the energy to fight, they will do and say things they’d probably never do or say if I wasn’t just too sick to take action. So, I take responsibility and suggest counseling for us. But back to photography.
All that comes with being ill with “diagnosed conditions” which is somehow a must have for the majority of people to treat you with respect and honor your less than perfect ability to meet everyone’s needs, I found I needed something to quiet my mind and release this anger. I’m not an angry person, I thought, but I sure have a lot stored up. However, by getting my camera and disappearing to my favorite places to take a photo or two or 500 I regain a calm that allows me to forget the pain and all that I must handle and instead, enjoy my life. The only person I should look to, to save me or to help me is ME. My attitude towards all I deal with is going to either make me an angry sick person with a pessimistic outlook on everything which I never liked being around, or is going to help me see that I’m not totally gone, useless, broken, hopeless and numb. Rarely am I well enough lately to take these photo opportunities. But, if ever I get the chance, I fight to do it because it reminds me of all the beauty around me. Continue reading How Photography Helps Me→
I said earlier, struggles will come and go, it’s life and this particular struggle has entered my mornings in the past year. It has taken me almost a year to search for meaning in it, because I have to always figure out what the heck?! Why this?’ if I’m the only person who feels this in the mornings, is there a fix? So, I finally Googled “morning depression” because that’s it in a nutshell. I’m awakened every morning in a horrible depression. Usually I’m sweating, in pain, almost paralyzed from even turning over much less putting my feet on the floor and trying to wake myself up from this horrible experience.
Once awake, and when I’ve managed to sit up for awhile, about an hour, the whole event, the depression, sweat, pain fades. On its own, without even a sip of water, it fades. Every single morning.
I’ve prayed before falling asleep that my morning will be normal, my old normal, where it just takes me a bit to wake up, my joints are sore but I’m used to it. I would always greet morning with anticipation of what the day will bring, what needs to be done today, etc.
But, this morning depression has pushed its way to the number one issue I dread, edging out the Achalasia pain when you can’t swallow and everything Lupus. Beating myself up has become a daily exercise.
However, I’ve felt, in my heart, that I need to find reasons followed by SOLUTIONS for this morning depression. Not the old me, where I’d find possible reasons and continue on searching all the bad, sad, negative stories, thus bringing me down even more and pushing that hope I’ve always had so far back in my mind that I felt no hope. I would just feel that this was yet another rotten symptom of my illnesses that I had to learn to live with.
That’s the difference here, an uncomfortable symptom appears, throw my hands up and say, “why me?! Really?! What more can happen?” Never say that, because something more can happen and you’ve (me, this isn’t a “how to handle things” blog, it’s me writing for myself. Getting it out, to revisit when dark days roll through) set yourself up for continually feeling as if you’re being punished. I’m not being punished, I happen to have Achalasia, systemic Lupus, and with these illnesses come symptoms, and with these symptoms come the challenge to identify ways, if not a cure, but at least to learn why and how to make them easier to deal with. Knowledge is power, with this power comes hope.
So, back to this morning depression thing. Since I’ve learned to research with a positive mindset instead of searching to find reasons to feel hopeless, I’ve been figuring out what may be happening and attempting to write things down to compare what might be leading to this. I’ve found an entire group of people who deal with this and the reasons, the research being done, how my current illnesses may be leading to it and how to try and change my nutrition or medications to see if I can ease it.
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.
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.
A republish of a post 5 years ago. I thought the worst had hit, but I was wrong. More illnesses and tougher battles and loss. Lupus SLE, Achalasia, pancreatitis, just a list of this and that! But, within the brokenness of these cruel illnesses is an understanding that what I see that is beautiful is so much more beautiful now. I take nothing for granted, I love with everything I have inside my heart. Like I said, Life is a GIFT, No matter how it’s wrapped.
This short video is how, in less than one year, a Lupus SLE flare took me for a ride. From feeling good and healthy to the brink of death. Then the struggle to gain back as much of me as I’ve been able to. I have a ways to go but I’m on my way.
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!
The 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.