How Photography Helps Me

Bald Eagle

My friend the eagle

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.

Bald Eagles

Working together

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

MY LUPUS JOURNEY 2013 to Now

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.

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!

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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.

Turn the Other Cheek…. If You’re Able To Move

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“I do not feel like I have the courage for this journey, but I have Jesus—and He will provide. He has given me so much to be grateful for, and that gratitude, that wondering over His love, will cover us all. And it will carry us—carry us in ways we cannot comprehend.” from Kara Tippetts, Mundane Faithfulness

This post is more for my own personal venting. Venting about two months of trying to find a new doctor and what I’ve encountered. Poor me, yes I’m choosing to feel sorry for myself for a moment. Long enough to first write the disclaimer that I do indeed have FAITH, I know I’m not alone in this. But the human in me needs to get this out, to share my real nightmare journey. That I don’t feel like I need to always smile, to always respond, “Oh I’m ok, tomorrow is a new day and new blessings.” I’m being real here. Even with Faith, I have very low times and I question why or I’m struggling to hear from God how I can help myself.

The above quote from the fabulously faithful Kara Tippetts’ blog, who recently went to her eternal home after her long fight with cancer, came to my mind. She shared her journey. The up’s the down’s the in betweens. Her Faith was solid. I learned a lot from her writings. I felt like I had no business complaining or whining. My illness isn’t “terminal.” It’s just “loaded with preservatives.” Meaning, with new drugs like Prednisone and Plaquenil you’re expiration date is longer. The life expectancy for someone with Lupus wasn’t too good but in the last ten years they’ve come a huge way and a person can live a long a long life. But this disease is one big cruel mystery, a ever ending lineup of sub-contracting illnesses like kidney disease, heart disease, all known as “complications of Lupus.” So you don’t get the “Terminal” stamp but rather the “It’s Complicated” stamp. I feel like I’m at the carnival riding in one of the rail cars in the haunted house. You don’t know what to expect around the next corner.

GI Tract Complications

GI Tract Complications

How dare I break down and complain?! Truth is, I can if I want to. Then I can count my blessings which are many.  My journey is not a constantly torturous one, nor is it in preparation for my journey to my eternal home. Thing is, it’s not considered terminal so don’t get your affairs in order….BUT, it CAN take your life, “we just don’t know.”

A known illness like SLE may have a name, but its cruelty is a mystery, it’s determined to keep the sufferer in constant, painful transition. To give false hopes of a reprieve, before it shows you it has the power to take your last breath from you. However, it can’t take His love from me and the blessed assurance Jesus’ constant presence is mine and I know where I’m going. I’m not blindly following a religion because “now I’m sick,” I’ve spent my life in a private journey learning about God, Jesus and my own PERSONAL beliefs and relationship with a loving Creator

I had the honor of being interviewed by the Lupus Foundation’s magazine, Lupus Now, in their Spring 2015 issue. The topic I was asked about is Lupus and GI Tract problems. I was interviewed back in November of 2014 when I still had a primary doctor and things were looking up. I mentioned being your own advocate and it turned out I really needed to and still need to be so. Read this interview here.

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But I am human and I’m tired and frustrated.

I love my Creator. God has been my constant companion throughout my life. I work hard at living my life from His teachings. Jesus is my Savior. Now comes the part of me that has had just about enough of struggling through mankind’s messing things meant for good up. Greed, unkindness, a knack for superiority over those unable to fight for themselves. I always forgive, the meek SHALL indeed inherit the earth, however, the “turning the other cheek..” part has been difficult because I’m unable to turn the other cheek. It’s too painful, Lupus SLE and kidney disease has me pretty much unable to move, I can’t turn my body….period. It hurts.

Ha, ha I know. Funny analogy! But painfully true. I’m taking a step back from complaining about senseless, everyday annoyances. I have a story to tell. It’s of my journey in the healthcare maze these last several months. Actually, it started back in November of 2013 with a hospitalization for acute pancreatitis but I won’t bore myself or anyone who accidentally reads my blog with the specifics.

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Fight, Flight or Faint? STRESS!

imageAt some point in your life you learn to listen to that voice inside that gives everyone the benefit of the doubt and you weed through the BS you allow people to put you through. It’s important when you are on the quest to beat your illness. You either lay down and let sickness take over or you fight. I decided to fight. Because I know I can get better or at least better at dealing with a chronic illness. With SLE, my attitude each day impacts the severity of my symptoms. STRESS and SLE don’t mix. STRESS and I don’t get along. Whether it’s Lupus SLE, Cancer, MS whatever, STRESS is not your friend and the fight or flight instinct becomes fight or faint. Not everyone has the ability to quiet the mind, meditate, slow themselves down. I know I don’t and wish I could. My brain just doesn’t operate that way (another story) and I don’t want to take medications to slow who I am down. Continue reading

Pursuit of Passion

Me with my trusty bass guitar

Me with my trusty bass guitar

After my diagnosis and all the tag along illnesses that came with it, I decided ENOUGH! I must find something to do on the days I have that allow me a few hours of peace.  Of course I’d choose playing an instrument which required dexterity and healthy fingers and a memory. RA and Lupus don’t really lend themselves to learning to play a bass guitar but that was my part of my passion, music. I knew I needed to exercise my painful joints before I lose the ability TO use them if that were to happen plus I always seem to pick the difficult pursuits for myself. This is a video about WHY I decided to learn the bass.

Since starting my YouTube channel I’ve gotten many comments, mostly good but a fair share of bad comments.  Ranging from “you suck really bad” to “you are an inspiration.” I received many comments from people simply informing me I was playing the bass incorrectly. hold it wrong, etc.  I guess they didn’t read my Channel Information about why I took this endeavor up. Here is my video explaining why I decided to learn the bass. My PlaysBass site is here
http://www.playsbass.com
(Does anyone know how difficult it is to talk into a camera by yourself?! Ha!!! I Had to start over several times because I’d start laughing at myself. Pull yourself together Susie!)