Saturday, November 26, 2011

Holiday Hangover

Well here it is already and the Holiday season is just beginning, what I call Holiday Hangover. Funny how it has it's own name and it feels just like it sounds, horrible. I can imagine when you read the word hangover for you it probably means you drank too much alcohol and woke up feeling like you were hit by a bus. Imagine not drinking any alcohol and still waking up with that same, being hit by a bus, feeling. For me and many others who are chronically ill this is just a way of life but it gets even worse during the holidays. It seems during the ten months before all the holiday rush we have a little more control on our schedules but when November and December hit we are faced with many more gatherings to attend or to host and for some there is just no way to get out of them, for lack of better words.

I did it! I had Thanksgiving dinner here and this year it was a small group of us, only six for the actual dinner. I made all the food except the salad and dessert. I was smart, or at least thought I was being smart, and prepared everything the day before, which didn't seem like a big deal to me. On Thanksgiving day I made the turkey, heated the sides, set the table, and cleaned up. Things that every other person did that day with no problems. It was a very low key nice day. As I rested later in the day, feeling tired but okay, I wondered to myself if the day would catch up to me. I hoped and prayed it wouldn't. I woke up on Friday tired but we were meeting some good friends for lunch so I took a shower to wake up. I felt a scratchy throat but didn't think to much of it. We had a nice lunch and a laid back day. Insert laugh here, everyday is a low key day for me, who am I trying to kid? Anyways last night I started feeling worse the sore throat the headache and the burning in the chest. Yup, here is comes, I thought to myself.

This morning I was awaken from sleep with a searing migraine, once again this week. I got up took my excedrin migraine and drank the strong cup of coffee hoping it would fade away. No such luck so I laid back down and fell asleep to awaken to just a regular headache. I am happy for that I can handle this! Now I just deal with the cold and hope it does not turn into more, which nine times out of ten it does.

My point here is that when you deal with the daily struggles of illness everything you do has a give and take attached to it. If I entertain, the give. I get sick, the take. If I attend a party, the give. I get sick, the take. If I go out in public in any way shape or form, the give. I get sick, the take. If I get stressed about going to a certain party or meeting with certain people, the give. I get sick, the take. For me every single thing I do, not only during the holidays, is a give and take. A reality I live with. I don't like it but it is what it is. My immune system is shot and it forces my body into over drive when I do to much, this is why my life has become so limited.

This year because of my illness the Holidays will be very low key for me, I can hardly get through a easy Thanksgiving so I must make some serious decisions as to how I will spend my time and the little energy I do have available to share with others. Seriously people, you have no idea how much energy it takes your mind and body to just socialize, it is something that is unexplainable to describe. So this year I will celebrate with my side of the family the week before Christmas and then with Rich and the kids on Christmas Eve, that's it.
I have made the decision this year that is all I am doing. I am not attending anymore parties and I am not putting my health at risk of catching more germs by being in large crowds. It pains me to have to do this but only I can make the choice because in then end it is I who must live with the consequences. Although I must say I do feel at peace with my decision. Plus, I am almost sure I will still be sick with whatever this is at Christmas time anyways. You see, when I get sick, even a little cold, it lasts weeks to months for me. A week to ten days of having a virus would be a breeze for me, I am never that fortunate.

So yes, my immune system is in overdrive right now not working properly. Making me sick every time I go in public or decide I am going to be the person I use to be. My immune system and body control my life, but the crazy part is I wouldn't change it for anything else. I mean really, who can get a hangover without even having a drink? That is pure talent all by itself.

May God Bless you and keep your immune system working in proper fashion this Holiday Season!


Friday, November 25, 2011


I have been thinking a lot more about pain over the past few months, more than likely because I have been dealing with severe pain a lot more over the past few months. Even though pain is part of daily life for me the recent pain has been much worse than the day to day pain I have dealt with over the past years. It is a pain that you can hardly explain unless someone has experienced it. Although I truly believe that everyone's pain is different in one way or another and that pain for one person can be horrible while if someone else experienced the same pain they may say it isn't that bad. Our brains all process pain differently and we must understand that to sympathize with others. I happen to have a very high pain tolerance. This at times makes it hard for me when I have to listen to others who complain about pain although I always try to tell myself to be understanding and they may have a low tolerance for pain. (Men fit into this category)

As for me my pain issues started when my son was born. When he was being born the doctor said to me, "Dianne we have a little problem here. The baby is in the right position but he is backwards, I'm going to have to turn him and it is going to hurt. Ok ready? Here we go." I remember each word and the sound and tone of his voice but most of all I remember the pain. So now when I am in pain I think back to that moment with both of his hands inside me turning my son around so he could be brought into this world safely. As for me nothing could compare to that pain. All worth it I might add and I would do it again in a heartbeat because my son is one of the biggest joys of my life!

Getting back to the pain issue, when I think of the pain I am in I try to rationalize it. I try to make things up in my head of how I can explain my pain when someone asks or wonders what it is like to be in pain most of the time. It is so hard for me to even begin to explain because there is no way to explain pain, as I said before pain for you may be different than pain for me. Plus it is chronic pain so something always hurts. It is a way of life.

The best way to explain pain, at least for me, it is always there. In my head I would explain chronic pain like this. If you have ever had a tooth go bad it hurts sometimes so bad it forces you to go to call the dentist. More than likely the dentist does x-rays and tells you that you need a root canal and after the root canal it feels better. Now, think of when you leave the dentist and you have the temporary crown. It feels really weird but after some time you start to get use to that new feeling in your mouth. Then, a few weeks later, you go back for the real crown. The dentist puts it on and once again you leave and it feels strange again. It continues to feel strange but after a week or two you are use to it. It is there now and your mouth has adjusted to the new tooth. For me, that is pain. It has been there for so many years I am just use to it. I have adjusted to it, just as you adjust to the new tooth in your mouth. It is the way it is.

So yes, I live with pain, but for me I still try as hard as I can to be happy. To distract myself and keep busy with things that keep my mind off of the pain. Of course there are the days that isn't possible and the pain wins and that is okay. I believe when you have chronic pain that sometimes your brain has just had enough and you must give into it and slow down. Give your body, mind, and soul the well deserved rest it needs so all three can recharge and give you the strength and courage you need to face the next span of time until it is time for another down day recharge your battery day. It is a vicious circle you just learn to live with.

I suppose it is the same for people with cancer who receive treatments, it becomes life for a while. But I also believe when they go into remission they still wake up everyday wondering if the cancer will come back. It is a way of life. I am sure a very private way of life for them now, they don't share that with people everyday, I am afraid my cancer may come back, but they still live it. Just as I live pain or you live pain. You don't go around telling people everyday, I am in pain, you just live it. It is your life and you must make the best of your life just as everyone else does. It becomes your way of life and sometimes it really isn't as bad as others might think it is.

God Bless You!


Tuesday, November 22, 2011

Just When I Think I Have It All Figured Out...I Don't

Yesterday I had another doctors appointment this time with my primary doc for a physical. For me these appointments are a piece of cake compared to the Rheumatologist and the Neurologist ones, not because of the doctors, but because of the stress of just having to see specialists on a regular basis. The doctor cycle begins again for the next few weeks and if I can get through them I am home free until March. I will, I always do!

In the weeks that followed yesterdays appointment I thought I had it all figured out in my head. I had a plan of action and I went in armed, notes and all. When Doctor Cory walked in with her usual smile and typical exchange of the hi and how are you's, she saw my note laying by her computer. I always have to laugh at myself because I am a list and note person, if it isn't written down it means nothing to me because I can't remember anything these days. "Ahh," she says, "Whats this?" I just chuckled and said, "thats all I have today nothing more." You must understand this note was on a 4x6 sheet of paper and not my usual typed, computer paper, three page long list. She lucked out and I think I saw her wipe the sweat off her head as she sat down at the computer.

My whole plan this time was to get off some of the drugs I am currently on, something I struggle with all the time, all the meds I am on. It can make you crazy if you let it. It is so strange that when you are sick you will take anything to feel better but once you get a little better you want to stop taking them as soon as you can. Although sometimes that just isn't an option. Armed with my research over the past few weeks I came up with the plan of all plans and here it is: If I start taking a low dose of antidepressants for the pain, fatigue, and sleep problems I deal with on a daily basis, then I would be able to wipe out the Xanax, the muscle relaxers, and the medro. After I told her my plan I sat there feeling like a little child waiting for my grandma to give me a piece of cake or something. I actually felt excited and was hopeful I could take one drug in place of three. After long, and careful consideration Dr and I decided that was not the right choice for me. After talking with her I felt better about staying on the plan I am currently on. Do I like the drugs? No! But for now they seem to be helping me sleep and the bottom line is why add another drug that we, #1 have no idea if it will work and #2 we don't know what it will do to me side effect wise. I felt better after I left.

In conclusion, as you will see, this is never really about the drugs. I know I need them. I know they are what help me to live a somewhat normal but small life. I know I am feeling better and having more better days. What it is really about is the fact that your life has changed so much and you hope someday you will be able go back to the days of no drugs and just be like everyone else. It is a total control thing. In my mind if I continue to fight and argue then I still have some kind of control over the diseases ravishing my body, causing havoc around every corner. When my doctor offered to make the appointment for my mammogram I told her no and that I would do it. Then I said to her, "If I do it then at least I still have some control." "My life has gone from this big, as I stretched my arms out, to this small, moving my hands in. It isn't easy accepting this is how your life is more than likely going to stay. It is especially hard when you are young and you have to watch everyone around you who is your age be able to do whatever they want whenever they want while you are trapped. I do the best I can but I still fight it and I still keep the hope that one day, one day maybe not in the near future, but one day I will be drug free. Until then I will push on drugs and all.

God Bless!


Monday, November 21, 2011

Sorry Seems To Be The Hardest Word, Or Is It?

First of all I must apologize if it seems I write some of the same things over and over but this is what helps me to process and make sense of my new life. I am sure most of whom read this have a pretty good idea why this happens when your life has changed drastically.

Elton John had a big hit called, Sorry Seems To Be The Hardest Word. I was sitting out in the woods  yesterday thinking about saying the word NO and out of the blue this song popped in my head. I began thinking of the song going a little bit differently for me. Something like this, NO Seems To Be The Hardest Word. With no disrespect to Sir Elton of course.

When I was thinking back on years past the word NO was not a part of my life and when it was the guilt over took me. If someone asked me for something I would do it and many times say yes before I even had time to process it. I would just do, do, do. Don't get me wrong I enjoyed helping others, in most instances, but not all. Often times when I think back I wonder why I was so stupid and allowed certain people to walk all over me. Now I see it was me not them. I was the one who allowed it to happen. It is like I have slapped myself upside the head and said, "Idiot."

I have learned that people will take all they can from you and suck you dry but only I/you have the control. The control is quite simple. NO! That's it. I have learned there doesn't have to be an explanation to that NO, but just a NO. We do not owe anyone anything. Really. If the yes comes from the heart then it is meant to be. If it is a yes that makes you regret and squirm then it is just wrong.

It is actually quite funny because once you begin to say NO the calls stop coming and people realize you have changed. Changed who you are and changed your life, for the better. You had to. The NO's come much easier as time goes on when you are forced to spend all your time and energy on taking care of yourself and your family, anything else I am able to give out to others is just a bonus. I remember a past Pastor of ours Pastor Bookshaw. One time in bible study we were talking about this subject. This was quite a few years ago when I was saying yes to everything. I asked him how do we know when to say YES or NO if we are trying to be a good Christian? His answer was you ask yourself, "Are my needs met and am I taking care of my family? They come first that is why God gave them to you." I never forgot that. I think it was at that point that I started to evaluate my life and learned how to say NO to more stuff when I was asked. Believe me it wasn't easy and I still overloaded myself doing, doing, doing.

In the past few years the NO's have become even more a way of life for me. In my head I want to say yes, I really do, but I can't. It seems every time I decide to say yes I always have to back out of something so it is just easier to say NO. I want to do so many things. I see the youth group at church that needs a leader to take over and it kills me inside not to be able to do it but for now I just have to continue to tell myself NO. I want so badly to go back to Hospice and visit patients but for now I must tell myself NO. It is all a give and take when you are ill. Every time I give it takes something from me and I get more sick or knocked down for a few days. I am not willing to make that sacrifice anymore. I cherish every precious moment with Rich and the kids and I need to conserve my precious energy for them. It is all I have right now. Now instead of spending my time doing, doing, doing, I am able to spend it just being. Being wherever I am at that given moment and being happy in it. I love that!

So in the ending I am hopeful someone who reads this may realize you do not have to do or be every thing to everyone. It is refreshing to me when I say NO and I find out just how understanding and caring most people are. The ones who aren't are not a part of my life anymore. Stop letting the energy suckers zap the energy out of you and spend it on the people and the things you love to do and not what others want or think you should to do. It all sounds so simple but its not. It takes time and a lot of patience but someday you will get there just like I did!

May God Bless you one your journey!


Thursday, November 17, 2011

Curing Pain With One Idea At A Time

Here I am forced to get up and out of bed once again because of this thing called pain. You see, I don't mind pain it has actually become one of my friends, not my best friend, more like one of those friends you learn to like even though you really wish they would just disappear from your life. The worst part for me is if I do not get enough sleep, like at least ten hours, I am in more pain and the cycle repeats itself over and over. Not to mention the emotional toll it takes on me. It makes me sad and makes me cry. I think I cry not only from the pain but the poor me syndrome and the lack of sleep. I always think to myself, but I was doing so good and wham it all changes so fast. So as I got up this morning by the force of the excruciating pain I thought of my goofy ways I wish the pain could be solved or at least managed for myself and many others.

First I thought of how I always tell Rich we should invent a Thermacare heat wrap vest and body wrap. We practically own half the company by now anyways so we should just join the inventor/idea team and come up with a prototype. I would be happy to be the guinea pig to see if it works. Every night just step into the Thermacare suit or vest and see if you are helped with pain by the morning. Genius if I do say so myself.

Coming in at close second would have to be a full body pillow. Oh I know you are thinking they already make those but I am talking of something much more complex. I haven't quite figured it out but it would go something like this. It has to be a pillow first and foremost, then it would somehow have to come up under your neck with extra support but not too much support, something you could mold into the right comfort level. The sides, both sides, would have to come down and be wide enough for you to use to hang onto once you got in a comfy position. It would also need to go from head to toe and be moldable the whole way down. I have no idea how hidious this would look but it sure can't look any worse than I do right now with six pillows crouched around every nook and cranny of my body.

The third good thought is an IV standing next to the bed with just enough drugs running through it to keep you at a comfortable pain level. No I am not talking Michael Jackson type drugs but just enough of whatever it is that works for you so every movement doesn't wake you up in pain and you are able to sleep. I won't write much further on this one because it surely is never going to happen but when you are in so much pain you are allowed to dream about things like this.

Last but not least if all else fails would be a full body transplant. Don't get me wrong I am good with the skin part of myself, but if someone could just figure out a way to scoop out all the troubled insides and replace them with working parts I would be happy to let them. Kind of like the game operation, just plunk it out and walahhhh replace with new! Today I would like a new neck, a new right pointer finger, a new lower back and a left hip. Although I must say I have already had this done to my neck, a fusion, and that is what seems to be giving me the most trouble right now, so maybe this isn't such a great idea. I need to work out the kinks in this one.

I have one more thing to touch on and that is all the people out there, doctors or educators who are experts in  pain. I love you all I really do but you really have no idea what pain is until you live with it on a daily basis. It seems the ones who tell you what you need to do have never really been in real constant pain so how can they tell you what to do? I can read or listen to someone tell me what the research says about pain, do this or do that, and until you actually experience it you really have no idea. When you are in pain that is so bad that it wakes you up from a deep sleep, even when the rest of your body and your brain are begging you not to wake, then you can tell me what I need or don't need. Until then please keep your expert opinions to yourself and I will keep daydreaming of ways to take my pain away.

Of course this is all in good fun and it keeps my mind busy and entertained as I try to deal with all of this. I hope it helps you too as you struggle with your issues. We all have our own problems and we all must decide how we will deal with them because most of my ideas are out of the question. Got any good ones?

May God bless your day whether you are in pain or free from pain!


Tuesday, November 15, 2011

Is it Really Possible to Accept Chronic Illness?

The million dollar question of the day. How do you learn to accept that you will be chronically ill for the rest of your life? Boy, that is a good question and I wonder if anyone really has the answer to it. It is a constant struggle. Let me explain.

When you think of getting ill, and I am talking of a majority of the population the somewhat healthy people of the world. Here is how it goes. You get a cold or the flu, you complain about it because you are laid up for a week to ten days. If you do not get better you call your doctor or go to Urgent Care because you may need a dose of antibiotics to scare those little bacteria out of your blood stream. Lucky for you it is more of a nuisance than anything else. What happens when you get sick, you go to doctor after doctor, for months after months, and either finally reach a diagnosis or sometimes no diagnosis. You hear time and time again, it may be this or it may be that we are not real sure, but we do know something is wrong but there are just so many things it could be. Or when you do get a  definate diagnosis you hear, "Lets start you on these meds and have you come back in three months and we will see how things are going." How do you deal with that? A diagnosis or not, a prescription or not, and a kick out the door. Now you are left in a sea of unanswered questions. Your head is swimming in a million directions, you still feel awful physially, and you are alone. Oh there are loved ones there, you are surrounded by them, but I am talking you are alone in your own battle of trying to make sense of what you have just been through. It is hard work physically because you do not feel well, but the emotional work is even harder and almost unbearable to deal with. The trying to understand and accept that life as you know it has changed, while all you want is to have your old life back. Free of all of this.

I have had over twenty years of this with the past five being the most brutal. I don't know how in the past year I have finally come to my acceptance, it sure hasn't been easy. I did a lot of soul searching, a lot of crying, a lot of questioning, a lot of reading, a lot of support groups, a lot of screaming "this isn't fair," a lot of I don't want this, and on and on and on. Yes this has been a long, emotional journey, to get here, and to be truthful even though I say I accept this as my life, I still do not want it to be my life. I am finally able to say at least I have some kind of a peace. I have tried for the past five years to get back to the way life use to be but every time I try to I end up getting very ill so I have just learned to question everything I do. Is it worth what will happen tomorrow? Many time the answer is no, so I just find something else I enjoy doing instead. Your life becomes a give and take Illness has become my life. I don't like it, I don't want it, but it is what it is, I can't change that so therefore I must accept it. The emotional journey to here has taken its toll. I have lost friends, I have made new friends, and I have cut some people out of my life but I can say my life has become much richer and better because of illness. I have learned to enjoy new things in my life. I love to paint now where before I would have thought I don't have time for that. I have learned that I make a very good friend to myself. In fact I carry on conversations with myself out loud all the time, the best part is I am always right! We all, meaning anyone dealing with chronic illness, must find what works for us and not worry about what the world thinks. Find the new you! It takes a long time to get there and it is not easy, but when you get there it is almost freeing and worth the journey. Of course if you are in the beginning stages of your journey I can imagine you want to punch me in the face right now. I know I wanted to punch a lot of people when I first got sick. I wanted to yell at them and tell them they just didn't understand. They didn't and now I get that, finally. All they wanted was for me to be better, that's all. They never meant any harm with their comments. It is like the world when you think about it. When someone gets sick we are all fixers. We all just want everyone to be happy or better and when that doesn't happen fast we don't like it. That is when you find out who really does care and love you through the long haul! Simple and it makes sense.

Accepting or just learning to live with illness means many thing to each and every person. What works for me, might not work for you or what one person does in their journey may not work in your journey. So you see, it is up to you, and only you, to figure out the "new" you! It can be very lonely, scary, and sad for you, but it has to be done! Take all the time you need to get to that place. It is hard but try to enjoy the journey. Even though it is a journey you do not really want to take, it is one that has been forced upon you and you must take. You can't run from it, even as much as you want to, you just can't because your body will be right there to remind you that it is in control. It is so much easier not to argue with your body and to use your mind because you know what? You are not going to win sometimes. Plain and simple.Try, as hard as it may be, to keep positive. It isn't easy, I know. Yesterday I had a terrible day, I was sad, I hurt, I just didn't care. But then I kept telling myself it will get better and by last night it did. It always does!

When things seem bad and you think you just can't do this, tell yourself, yes I can! YES I CAN! YES I CAN! Over time you will learn to control your illness and not allow your illness to control you. It does not happen over night so allow yourself the time you need to go through your journey. After all it is your journey and no one else's! You can do it, what other choice do you have? Then one day, maybe a long way off, but one day, you will realize your journey has happened for a reason and that reason is to help others get through their roughest, darkest times the same way you did it, ONE DAY AT A TIME, ONE MINUTE AT A TIME, ONE SECOND AT A TIME! If all else fails, message me!!

May God Bless you as you accept whatever you must face!


Monday, November 14, 2011

It Never Seems to Stop

When I read what I wrote for the title of this post I think to myself, it really never does stop. For me it is the illness, for others it is their illness,  financial trouble, child rearing troubles, for others it is a loss of someone dear to them. It seems there is always something you hear or read each and everyday of the suffering going on in the world.

As we move on in life we never know what each day is going to bring. We may wake up feeling well and wham we are hit with some physical pain that turns our day from good to bad in an instant. For others it is a phone call that changes everything that they thought was safe and real into a nightmare. For others it may be the loss of a job they thought was secure. It seems nothing in this world is secure or a sure thing. I don't think times have changed I think it has always been like this. One tragedy after another, but for what, I wonder?

So as I think about life, after a rough night of horrible pain , I am once again focused on my faith more than usual. Don't get me wrong, my faith is always at the forefront of all my days, but when I am in this type of pain it makes me think and lean on God even more. I question everything. I go over and over in my mind and I ask why? I am tired and exhausted from hurting so bad and I just want to feel better. But then I think of the cross. I think of the pain Jesus went through to make way for me to have a life in heaven someday, free of pain, drugs, and worry. I think of others who are suffering in other ways that are unfair and I think of that cross. Without the peace of something bigger than ourselves I do not know how it is possible, at least for me, to get through all of this, and I hope for you too. I am reminded my pain is nothing compared to what some others must endure.

Even as I wonder why it never stops I keep my faith and I push on. I hope and pray, for myself and others, for better days and take what I get each day. Some good, some bad, and some that are really ugly. I pray for strength to get through all the struggles, all the while knowing I am surrounded by love, not only from my family, but from something bigger than anything possible here on earth. For that I am thankful!

May God Bless Your Day!


Sunday, November 13, 2011

Positives vs Negatives

Over the past few years it seems the negative in this world outweighs the positive. It seems every time I do venture out in the world, which isn't often, I hear people complaining and so much sadness. I wonder when this shift began? It doesn't seem like it was after 9/11 because I remember seeing a nation come together out of love for the thousands of lives lost and lives affected by that terrible tragedy. It just seems to me as time went on people became more selfish and bitter and started regressing into themselves more. I would imagine all the technology doesn't help either. Nowadays we are not forced to talk to one another because of all the conveniences we have available to just send a text or write an e-mail, I am guilty too, I have grown to dislike the phone and avoid it at all costs. So I always think, day to day as we pull away from each other, how can I try to stay positive when there is so much negative? It is all in the way I think about what ever situation I am in at any given time.

Some examples of my positive thinking are :

-Today I woke up with a searing headache in the spot where my migraines usually start. It would have been so easy for me to think oh great a migraine I am going to stay in bed and have to deal with this all day. My way of thinking is get your fat you know whatus out of bed go take some meds, drink some coffee and do something to take your mind off the start of the pain. Hence, the reason I am here. Writing is like therapy for me in case you haven't noticed from my past posts.

-I often sit at home thinking of others being able to work, who complain about having a job, which can make me very angry and negative. My positive way of thinking is, I have lots of leisure time to do all the things others wish they could do. I am very fortunate. Plus, I get to spend quality time with my grandchildren, something many only dream of.

-I often get very angry and negative with my doctors or other doctors when they don't have answers for me or the people I love. The positive way for me to think of this is two fold. I have become friends with a few of my doctors whom I am grateful for. I have learned that not all doctors are evil or mean and I am blessed to have a few good ones who respect me and know that I am a smart, informed patient. I have learned and try to remember doctors are people too and not know it all's. The second thing I have learned and feel blessed about is to be able to help others when they are struggling through illness or with dealing with doctors, which brings me great joy.

-There are the days I don't care to go on, the days I am so tired and negative. I still live my life and believe, in a positive manner, there is a reason why I am here. Then it seems the same day I am down I will have someone write me a message, or stop over and ahahhh the reason I got out of bed today makes perfect sense because I have helped someone else or someone has done something nice for me.

-One of the hardest things for me is that I have lost the ability to have a social life. It is just plain hard to go out and socialize when your body is constantly processing pain, or my eyes are not working properly, or I am weak, etc. So I have learned to make the best of what I am able to do. Maybe now Rich and I are just able to go out to dinner but at least I am able to do that. Or we sit and watch certain tv shows and discuss it in between commercials. Life has become simple for me, for us, but good. You see chronic illness has brought us even closer together instead of tearing us farther apart. Huge positive!

I could go on forever but I think you get the picture. In ending this, the last thing I will write is the most positive thing of all. Knowing the close relationships I have with the people I love and the people who love me. What more could anyone ever want? For me that is enough and I am  truly blessed! Now, go out there and make the world, your world, a better place. You never know what is going to happen tomorrow so enjoy and make today positive. Even if it is starting with a headache!

God Bless!


Friday, November 11, 2011

The Five Stages of Grief and Loss by Elisabeth Kubler-Ross & David Kessler

The Five Stages of Grief

David Kessler & Elisabeth Kubler-Ross
David Kessler & Elisabeth
Kübler- Ross working on the
five stages of grief
On Grief and Grieving is Elisabeth Kübler-Ross’s final legacy, one that brings her life’s work profoundly full circle.
On Death and Dying began as a theoretical book, an interdisciplinary study of our fear of death and our inevitable acceptance of it. It introduced the world to the now-famous five stages: denial, anger, bargaining, depression and acceptance. On Grief and Grieving applies these stages to the process of grieving and weaves together theory, inspiration and practical advice, all based on Kübler-Ross and Kessler’s professional and personal experiences.

Elisabeth Kübler-Ross & David Kessler

Denial, Anger, Bargaining, Depression and Acceptance
The stages have evolved since their introduction and they have been very misunderstood over the past three decades. They were never meant to help tuck messy emotions into neat packages. They are responses to loss that many people have, but there is not a typical response to loss as there is no typical loss. Our grief is as individual as our lives.
The five stages, denial, anger, bargaining, depression and acceptance are a part of the framework that makes up our learning to live with the one we lost. They are tools to help us frame and identify what we may be feeling. But they are not stops on some linear timeline in grief. Not everyone goes through all of them or in a prescribed order. Our hope is that with these stages comes the knowledge of grief ’s terrain, making us better equipped to cope with life and loss.


This first stage of grieving helps us to survive the loss. In this stage, the world becomes meaningless and overwhelming. Life makes no sense. We are in a state of shock and denial. We go numb. We wonder how we can go on, if we can go on, why we should go on. We try to find a way to simply get through each day. Denial and shock help us to cope and make survival possible. Denial helps us to pace our feelings of grief. There is a grace in denial. It is nature’s way of letting in only as much as we can handle.
As you accept the reality of the loss and start to ask yourself questions, you are unknowingly beginning the healing process. You are becoming stronger, and the denial is beginning to fade. But as you proceed, all the feelings you were denying begin to surface.


Anger is a necessary stage of the healing process. Be willing to feel your anger, even though it may seem endless. The more you truly feel it, the more it will begin to dissipate and the more you will heal. There are many other emotions under the anger and you will get to them in time, but anger is the emotion we are most used to managing. The truth is that anger has no limits. It can extend not only to your friends, the doctors, your family, yourself and your loved one who died, but also to God. You may ask, “Where is God in this?
Underneath anger is pain, your pain. It is natural to feel deserted and abandoned, but we live in a society that fears anger. Anger is strength and it can be an anchor, giving temporary structure to the nothingness of loss. At first grief feels like being lost at sea: no connection to anything. Then you get angry at someone, maybe a person who didn’t attend the funeral, maybe a person who isn’t around, maybe a person who is different now that your loved one has died. Suddenly you have a structure – - your anger toward them. The anger becomes a bridge over the open sea, a connection from you to them. It is something to hold onto; and a connection made from the strength of anger feels better than nothing.We usually know more about suppressing anger than feeling it. The anger is just another indication of the intensity of your love.


Before a loss, it seems like you will do anything if only your loved one would be spared. “Please God, ” you bargain, “I will never be angry at my wife again if you’ll just let her live.” After a loss, bargaining may take the form of a temporary truce. “What if I devote the rest of my life to helping others. Then can I wake up and realize this has all been a bad dream?”
We become lost in a maze of “If only…” or “What if…” statements. We want life returned to what is was; we want our loved one restored. We want to go back in time: find the tumor sooner, recognize the illness more quickly, stop the accident from happening…if only, if only, if only. Guilt is often bargaining’s companion. The “if onlys” cause us to find fault in ourselves and what we “think” we could have done differently. We may even bargain with the pain. We will do anything not to feel the pain of this loss. We remain in the past, trying to negotiate our way out of the hurt. People often think of the stages as lasting weeks or months. They forget that the stages are responses to feelings that can last for minutes or hours as we flip in and out of one and then another. We do not enter and leave each individual stage in a linear fashion. We may feel one, then another and back again to the first one.


After bargaining, our attention moves squarely into the present. Empty feelings present themselves, and grief enters our lives on a deeper level, deeper than we ever imagined. This depressive stage feels as though it will last forever. It’s important to understand that this depression is not a sign of mental illness. It is the appropriate response to a great loss. We withdraw from life, left in a fog of intense sadness, wondering, perhaps, if there is any point in going on alone? Why go on at all? Depression after a loss is too often seen as unnatural: a state to be fixed, something to snap out of. The first question to ask yourself is whether or not the situation you’re in is actually depressing. The loss of a loved one is a very depressing situation, and depression is a normal and appropriate response. To not experience depression after a loved one dies would be unusual. When a loss fully settles in your soul, the realization that your loved one didn’t get better this time and is not coming back is understandably depressing. If grief is a process of healing, then depression is one of the many necessary steps along the way.


Acceptance is often confused with the notion of being “all right” or “OK” with what has happened. This is not the case. Most people don’t ever feel OK or all right about the loss of a loved one. This stage is about accepting the reality that our loved one is physically gone and recognizing that this new reality is the permanent reality. We will never like this reality or make it OK, but eventually we accept it. We learn to live with it. It is the new norm with which we must learn to live. We must try to live now in a world where our loved one is missing. In resisting this new norm, at first many people want to maintain life as it was before a loved one died. In time, through bits and pieces of acceptance, however, we see that we cannot maintain the past intact. It has been forever changed and we must readjust. We must learn to reorganize roles, re-assign them to others or take them on ourselves.
Finding acceptance may be just having more good days than bad ones. As we begin to live again and enjoy our life, we often feel that in doing so, we are betraying our loved one. We can never replace what has been lost, but we can make new connections, new meaningful relationships, new inter-dependencies. Instead of denying our feelings, we listen to our needs; we move, we change, we grow, we evolve. We may start to reach out to others and become involved in their lives. We invest in our friendships and in our relationship with ourselves. We begin to live again, but we cannot do so until we have given grief its time.

Thursday, November 10, 2011

The Day Your World Changes Forever

I don't know exactly when it happened I just know it did. I remember being a vibrant person, someone who could do anything she wanted, and did. I remember being able to keep up with my kids and the world that was going on around me. Then all of the sudden in the snap of a finger it all changed.

Getting out of bed became a nightmare from the pain and stiffness. My body was now in charge of my life instead of my head, not an easy thing to accept. As this happens you go through many emotional stages, trying to reach the one of acceptance. Although I believe now that I am in the acceptance phase I still do not believe I will truly ever accept this as my fate, but for now I do, and I am at some sort of peace with it all. I have finally realized I cannot be everything to everyone anymore. Now, my time and energy are spent on making it through each given day and making it the best of it for me, not others. Very hard for me but once I accepted it, it became easier for me.

I am back to the place of where I was in the beginning phase of my illness helping Rich deal with his emotions. It seems so easy, all the things I talk with him about, but for him he is in the hell stage. The why me stage. The how can my life change so fast stage. The I just want to feel better stage. The whole trying to process it all stage. You don't understand when you are healthy, and things are going fine, just how much energy it takes your body to work in harmony. Then, when you are hit with an illness, your world stops. All you can focus on, or care about, is getting back to the way things were. Your world stops, literally! Sadly, sometimes it isn't possible to get back to normal and you must work through all the emotions to get to the place where you accept this is what life will be for you. You don't like it, you don't want it, but it is what it is.

I pray each day for many people who are in this stage. The new life stage of thinking, I have to live like this for the rest of my life?" Questioning everything in your life. It is not fun at all. It is so easy to isolate yourself from the world because when people are healthy they really do not know how to handle illness. They say stupid things, they tell you it will get better, when all the while they have absolutely no idea what they are talking about. If there is one lesson I have learned it is do not tell people they will get better! Let them be where they are. Their feelings are true, and they are their feelings not yours, just shut up. Let them feel whatever they feel. Don't give advice because although you say or think to yourself, I would never do that, you really truly do not know what you would do if you were in the same situation. So just shut up and love. I have learned this is hard for people who have never had a serious illness hit them. I always say to Rich, it is funny when someone gets sick and want to know what I think about it when before they really could have cared less. It always makes me chuckle for some reason. Don't get me wrong I don't mind people asking it just makes me wonder why they never cared about me, or Rich for that matter, until it is them. Curious!

So for now, for me, for Rich, for all those who are ill or suffering through serious illness. Do not think of it as a curse but as a blessing. Even though you think it is all bad, it really isn't. Life will change but many times for the better. It took me over four years, four very lllooonnnggg years to realize my life is better because of illness. I don't want it but I have learned to value what really matters to me and for that I am grateful!

God Bless You All!


Tuesday, November 8, 2011

These Are The Days

Oh yes, these are the days, and today is one of them for me. If you are chronically ill you know what I am talking about. You are awaken in an instant by pain and you just know this is not a good way to start your day. This morning at 5am I was woke up with searing pain in my neck and the start of a migraine. I must have had the migraine in my sleep because I woke up remembering that I was taking Excedrin Migraine in my dream to hopefully relieve the pain before I had to turn to the hard stuff to get rid of it. So when I did actually wake up I laid there lazily thinking I should grab that bottle and take two now. As I laid there the thoughts of not being able to grab the bottle or it flying on the floor rushed through my head. I decided to the plunge and grabbed it anyways, with good results I might add. Ahhhh, pills down the hatch. So, I laid there praying it helps the headache and the stiff neck.

As I laid there I thought to myself, self, get up and get a cup of coffee, which many times helps ward off the migraine before it becomes a nightmare. As I got out of bed, AHHhhhhhh, the pain of stiffness hits. The past few weeks my pain and stiffness have been worse as the drug company that makes my meds has decided not make manufacture it for now. I am waiting for it to become available, but in the meantime I am suffering more. At the same time I am trying to cut back on the steroids, that help with my pain, because they cause me to want to kill someone. The bad part is the steroids also help keep my migraines away when I am on the higher dose of them. It is such a give and take with the meds and chronic illness. Getting back to my head, I made my coffee and guzzled it down and must say I am feeling somewhat better. I still have the headache but I can tell it is one that I may be able to live with today. I hope!  For now I think myself into the positive thoughts to try to ward this off as my neck is killing me.

My point is that we all have our days. You know the good, the bad, and the ugly. It is all in your attitude. Although I will not argue that when you are in the bad it is awful hard to have a good attitude because pain and illness can take over all the good thoughts you might intend to have on any given day. When those days hit you tell yourself there is always tomorrow, or tomorrow WILL be better, or next week will be better. The real point is if you do not have an attitude of, "things will get better" there would be no point to all the suffering you must endure. Everything that happens to us, happens to us for a reason. It is up to us to find that reason. Of course many times it takes years to figure out the why but you can  never stop trying to find the reason.

Now, go on and live my faithful friend, and if today isn't your day, then maybe tomorrow will be. That is what I am hoping. If I can do it, so can you!

God Bless You All!


Monday, November 7, 2011

I Don't Understand Why We Have to Suffer

As I write this post I have been thinking to myself this morning about how far I have come. When I think back I realize I have been feeling much better than I use to even though I do not feel like I am that much better. I still get extremely fatigued, weak, have painful days and have to rest, but when I am truthful with myself and I look back I am doing so much better than I was. I am thankful for that as the roles for Rich and I have changed a little bit over this past month. Funny how the roles change at just the right time. If this was even a year ago I would never have been able to care for Rich and do what I have been doing around here. God is good!

Rich hasn't been feeling well so now I care for him like he has so selflessly cared for me over the past five years. I think this is my sign from God showing me just how much progress I have made over the years. I have come to accept that this IS who I am now and realize this IS me and I just have to be happy with what I am able to do on any given day. If it is just one load of laundry that is okay. If it is clean the whole house and pay for it the next day, that is fine to. Before this acceptance phase I would have cried about how unfair it all is but now it is just a good feeling, almost like I can just say to myself, no worries. I like that attitude, no worries! Besides all the stuff that has to be done will be there for me tomorrow or whenever I am able to do it so why get all sad about it. I am learning to enjoy each moment of the day instead of thinking so far ahead. I can now look out the window and instead of crying because I can't do the yard work I can look out there and see the beauty of a bird or the leaves blowing off the trees. What a great place for me to be!

I still do not understand why we have to suffer. I do not understand why now I have to watch my husband suffer as I did. I do know this, he has the best person to help him through it because I have been there. I can identify with all his emotions and what is going on with him. I love that he tells me the only place he feels the best is when he is with me. So you see, my getting ill does have meaning and a reason. It is all beginning to make more and more sense to me as far as the caring for others part in being ill. If we do not care for one another than what do we have?  Maybe some have a lot of material things that just collect dust and someday will turn to dust. To have true and powerful love for others is a rare gift, and the best gift life has to offer. I always think to myself, you can have all the stuff in the world but when you die and leave the ones you love behind, the piece of yourself you leave is so much more powerful than the material things you leave. Yes, it is nice to have a special ring or other item to remember someone by, but it really is the two souls connecting and the love left behind that is really the gift.

As I see what goes on around me I do not see many in my circle who have that true inner peace. Maybe I am able to think deeper now and I wonder if any of us really get a 100% total peace. I think we all must come to realize, and we do the older we get, that life isn't about what you possess, it is about people and loving those who are put in your life. That being said, there are still those who are in our life who are unable to see things the way we do and sometimes we must not allow them into our lives. We can love but when people think that we owe them and suck the life out of us we must remove ourselves from that poison, no matter who that person is. In order to be happy you must choose what makes YOU happy not what others think you should choose just to make THEM happy. I have learned you cannot give, give, give and get nothing back in return. Such relationships are toxic and you must decide what is right for you! One way you can decipher this is when you are talking to someone and they ask about you does the conversation change back to them or are they really listening and caring about you? Is the talk always about them? Do they really care about you?

So we march on in this world. We suffer. We love. We care for others and sometimes we cut others loose. We do the best we can and sometimes we just don't understand and that is okay too. Lean on God and the good people in your life who love and support you.

God Bless!