Body Positivity.. I’m a work in progress

Two years ago I hated my body. A year ago, I still struggled. I almost lost an amazing partner because of my insecurities. I struggled with my self esteem, my self worth. I worked so hard to find what I love about myself, to find me. To love me. It didn’t matter if he told me 1000x how beautiful I was, I had to see it. I had to believe it.

I struggled immensely after two urgent surgeries in 2019 that left me with feeding tubes and a 4” scar down my abdomen. I struggled so much with self esteem, confidence and loving my body. I couldn’t see past them.  Working with Emma and Lindsey from LuLi&Co, helped me to regain that confidence back. Thank you both for helping me to find myself, and to love myself again..

In January 2021, I had an urgent surgery to place a colostomy. I knew it was an eventuality, but it became a reality far sooner than I’d thought. After surgery I posted a photo of myself wearing a bikini (photo below) in an Ostomy Group. While most comments were supportive, quite a few were not. I was told I should be ashamed of myself for wearing a bikini. Ashamed for even considering wearing a crop top. That it was disgusting to wear such things and have my ostomy, or tubes on display like I was proud of them. In what should have been a supportive group, I was torn down. I was told I was disgusting, shameful. That it was the equivalent to having my butthole showing. Vulgar I know, but that’s what I was told. I was embarrassed for sharing a moment I was so proud of after spending years building the confidence to even wear a bikini. I cried. I let their words affect me. Being told by others in a group that was supposed to be supportive that it was disgusting, or something I should be ashamed of, is disheartening.

What bothers and hurts me the most, is how women are tearing each other down. There is so much negativity, judgmental and just harsh comments. Why tear someone else down? Why? If you don’t want to wear a bikini, don’t. however why tear down someone that is?? I am so immensely passionate about body positivity. Our young women see these comments. They see the judgment.. We’re letting them down, but shaming those that are confident, comfortable and accepting of their body. I want a young women with a feeding tube to feel confident in herself. to NOT fear what others will think, or say.

Emma posted about a project she was working on about body positivity. I jumped at the opportunity to be part of it. To show my vulnerability, share my story.. These photos below are a product of the project. The message is clear…

I have never hidden my struggles with my insecurities, I have been open and vocal about my journey to regain my confidence, to accept and love my body as it is. While wearing a bikini, or crop top to some might be weird or uncomfortable due to having a tube, or ostomy, I’m going to live my life for me. I will never hide who I am. I have fully embraced myself, and my body. I’ve become a fierce advocate for body positivity. I have worked to accept my body as it is. To accept me as I am. My tubes, scars and ostomy do not take away my worth, nor do they define my beauty. They are part of me, and yes I’m proud of them. Simply because with them, it means I’m alive. Words have power, but ultimately we are the ones that decide their power. I refuse to let the words of others impact or tear me down any longer. I may still have my moments, but I am not letting anyone dictate my beauty, or my worth. Neither should you.

To LuLi&Co, and Andrea Shea Photography, you have helped me to accept myself as I am. To see myself as beautiful. As strong, as amazing. Thank you so much. You have no idea what’s meant to me.

Wrapping up 2020

We made is through 2020!! I feel like that is such an accomplishment! We’ve faced things we’ve never before experienced. We made it through. We made it to 2021.

My 2020 was riddled with appointments, treatment decisions, ensuring my nutrition was stable, and virtual school for my son. Which was an absolute disaster. So much happened, so much to work through, process and cope with. My son struggled immensely with the lockdown, he struggled with doing school virtually, his OT appointments stopped. It was hard. We always say how hard it’s been for us adults, but it’s been hard, if not harder for our kids. He’s back in school and thriving!

My 2020 rounded out with back to back procedures and prepping for a major surgery in January. Back to back port replacement surgeries.

2020 was the year that was trying to us all. Especially those in the chronic illness community. We struggled for care, we struggled with mental health. Some had procedures rescheduled, some had emergency surgery. Despite our trials, despite everything that tried to knock us down, we’re still here. We’re still standing. Recognize the accomplishment. Recognize how far you’ve come. Be proud of you, as i’m proud of you.

2020 was difficult. It tried to break us, it tried to take so much from us. Yet, we’re here. Standing. You are amazing, strong and brave.

Freedom in Body Acceptance

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Body Positivity, Self Worth, Depression, Insecurities, Counseling.. Why are these words, these phrases so taboo in the chronic illness community. Why are these barely talked about? Is it supposed to help us by not acknowledging these happen? That these can affect us? It doesn’t. It actually hurts us. Positivity in general seems to be ridiculed in our community. Why? 

I’m in my 30s, I struggle with insecurities and body image issues. I’ve been very vocal about my struggle. Yet so many still hide theirs. So many still don’t acknowledge it. Some ignore it or think they’re taboo to talk about. I have struggled tremendously for the last year. Since getting my feeding tube, i’ve struggled to accept my body as it is. Scars, tubes and all. So many others have tubes, central lines, ostomies, scars, medical devices. So many others struggle with insecurities, yet it’s rarely ever discussed? Why? Why is this so taboo? Why is there not more of a network, more of a community lifting each other up? 

If we as grown women struggle, what is this doing to our young women in these communities? What is it doing to them to see absolutely no one speaking about these struggles? Seeing no one like them out there blasting beauty standards to raise awareness and empower others? Why is there really NO ONE out there doing these things? Showing their body acceptance, showing their vulnerability? I’m not sure why, but it’s motivated me and empowered me to be that someone. Someone has to speak out. Someone has to start something to show body acceptance and positivity. Someone has to show body positivity to these young women, young men, anyone struggling that feels alone in their fight. 

 

There seems to be a struggle with body positivity. We are letting others define us, define beauty, define our worth. We are letting our diagnoses, tubes, ostomies define us. Letting them define us as unworthy, unattractive. Body positivity is so important. It’s so important to lift each other up. It’s so important to acknowledge these topics, these struggles and discuss them. We have let what society has deemed “beautiful” affect us in such a negative way. We have let others decide whether we fit into a mold or not. Guess what, we don’t. That’s ok! We don’t have to. We’re not made to. Our beauty and worth shouldn’t be based on what fits a mold. Let’s break that mold. 

I’ve struggled with this so much. It affected me deeply, it affected my relationship immensely. Counseling helped, friends helped. What really helped was someone told me: “Who cares what others say is attractive? Who CARES?! If you feel it, then you feel it! Stop trying to fit into society. Stand out. Stand up for yourself.” I remember sitting there, taken aback. Then i thought about it. They were right. I had let others’ words, others’ views affect me so much, I couldn’t see my own beauty, my own worth. My self esteem didn’t improve overnight. Goodness no. It took months of work. Months of positive self affirmations. Months of talking about my insecurities to really start to shed them. Start to being the key word. It’s a process, and ongoing process. Every day is a small step forward. 

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Depression is also another struggle. I have struggled with depression for a while. Sometimes it goes hand in hand with my insecurities. However, this isn’t discussed much in support groups. It’s almost like we should be ashamed of it. Absolutely NOT! Never be ashamed of your story. Never be ashamed of your struggle. I refuse to be ashamed of it. I refuse to hide it, ignore it, or pretend it doesn’t exist. I can’t. Why lie? Why is this such an issue to discuss? I don’t understand it. Depression happens, it happens when dealing with chronic illness. How could it not? It’s hard to adjust from one life, to this “new” life. It’s like grieving. You’ve lost who you were, now you’re struggling to find who you are, and who you’ll become. It’s ok to be angry, hurt, upset, depressed. It’s ok to feel emotions. My only advice, don’t let them control you. Don’t get so lost in them you give up living. Please, if you feel that anger, that hurt, that overwhelming sadness, reach out to someone. Reach out to me. I’ll listen as you vent.  Reach out to others, reach out. Just know there’s someone struggling similarly. 

 

It’s become my mission, my motivation to help others. To empower others to see their beauty, their worth. I’ve posted several blogs on this. I took it a step further and have participated in photoshoots. Creating powerful images that show my strength, my motivation, my beauty. These photos weren’t easy to do, it was scary and nerve wracking. What kept me going and motivated was that I was determined to LOVE MYSELF. I was determined to see MY worth, my beauty. My tubes don’t take away from it, they don’t take away from my strength, from my worth or my beauty. They do not change who I am at a fundamental level. What they’ve done is give me strength I didn’t know I had. They gave me courage. They gave me passion, and desire to help others. They gave me purpose. They have motivated and empowered me to do that for others. To show others their beauty, their worth. My tubes in a way gave me freedom. Freedom to knock down beauty standards and create my own. Freedom to strive for goals, freedom to find my passion and help make changes. Freedom to love me.

These “taboo” topics need to not be so taboo. These topics need to be discussed, need to be acknowledged. We as a community deserve more. We deserve love, happiness, goals, hopes and dreams. We are worthy. We are absolutely beautiful. You are warriors, you are fighters. Never give up. If you feel like giving up, know you have a community of warriors behind you to lift you up, to lend you strength. We won’t let you feel alone in this battle.

This post was also published on The Mighty: What Helps Me Overcome My Insecurities as Someone With Chronic Illness

 

Post-Op from Hell..But I’m ok

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It’s been an absolutely, ridiculously difficult post op.. The worst ever. Sometimes things just go awry! How can we plan for them? The best we can.

 

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Sloth GP Shirt I made, available in my store.

I had a laparotomy September 19th. I had no real choice. My GJ was failing, I was starving. The plan was simple. Go in, clean scar tissue from my 7 previous laparoscopies, and place my J tube.. The surgery was scheduled for 150 minutes. My mom said I was out in under an hour, and it took an additional TWO hours for me to even wake up from anesthesia… What a complete shit show. It turns out adhesions had formed to my GJ, which I didn’t even know was possible. We’re currently trying to find out why it was cut so short. Which makes me nervous. I was in the hospital for 4 days. The pain was absolutely unbearable at times. Imagine a 4″ incision going down your abdomen that pulls every time you sat up, laid down, or even tried to use the bathroom. It was rough.

I got home September 22. That night. We sent a text to my nurse the next day, as I was supposed to have wound care and my port accessed.. No reply. It turns out I was discharged by my home health agency with no word. No conversation, letter or anything. This set into motion so much stress. I’ve unfortunately had 5 post op ER visits due to possible infection, wound dehiscence, tube dislodged (twice), and pain post tube exchange.

 

I’ve suffered a wound dehiscence, which is when a wound opens up. My entire incision split open, even sections that were already healed. It’s been 6 weeks of strict cleaning, and routine to get it to close back up. 6 weeks of bandages, which sucks when you have an adhesive allergy. It’s finally looking better and like it’ll actually close up soon!!!

So since my agency let me go, it’s been weeks of trying to find a new agency, i’ve and no luck. I now have to travel 45 mins on Mondays to be accessed, so I can run my iv fluids. How utterly ridiculous.

I need things to go a little more smoothly. 🙂 Halloween was fun! We dressed up, took my son trick or treating. Just had a blast. He was a Ninja, I dressed as a devil! lol  I was in pain, but determined to not ruin my son’s Halloween!

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Halloween 2019

So it’s been about 6-6.5 months since I had my GJ placed. I’ve lost nearly 30lbs. We’re trying to stabilize my weight, which hasn’t been easy. I’m supposed to be connected to my pump 24 hours a day, or AT LEAST 18 hours a day. I’m supposed to be getting 1600 calories a day.. I’m barely connected 9 hours a day, and getting maybe 500 calories a day. This isn’t good at all. So I’m working really hard to increase my calorie intake and stabilize my weight. I’m currently about 158lbs now. Went from size 14, to about size 10. While my body looks amazing from the weight loss, I’m exhausted and constantly hungry. All this has left me malnourished, which isn’t helping me heal from surgery.

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Just a small snippet of the significant weight loss.

 

Through all this I’ve battled insecurities, my body, and stress. It’s been really heart wrenching. It’s really hard to go through all this, and not have the one person you want more than anything at your side. If you have someone that loves you flaws and all, don’t lose them. Don’t let your insecurities take over. Don’t lose sight of yourself or your relationship. Communicate your fears and feelings to each other. Don’t lose that.

I taught myself to convert bags to use for my feeing pump! That’s been fun! Below is a video of the bag I converted!

 

I’m working with a local photographer to get some projects done. I’m excited to show you all the final product! There’s more to come. More to say. More to do.

This post op has been difficult both physically, and mentally. Seeing the changes in my body has been really difficult. Realizing my GI system is slowing and we have no clue why, is scary. Dealing with a chronic illness is hard, dealing with multiple ones is so incredibly difficult. I’ll persevere. You are not your diagnosis. You are not your port, picc, or feeding tube. You are so worthy. You are so worthy of love, happiness and joy. Go after your dreams, most importantly Live… Don’t give up on life.

I’m always here you you guys. Always reach out to me if you need me. Much love to you all..

 

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I’m a unicorn…

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It’s summer time!!! Time for heat, beaches and pool! Summer is probably the worst time of the year for me due to the heat. It’s been quite the summer! So much as happened! Who else has a hard time during the summer? Anyone have any special plans this summer?

My son has been battling a post viral rash for the last two months. He actually tested positive for a past Epstein Barr Virus infection. Like Whoa! However, his rash, It’s finally gone!! Yay! Just in time for his surprise vacation! I can’t wait to post pictures from out trip! It’ll be so exciting.

It’s been a rough few months. My feeding tube has been problematic, or more my body has been. I’ve had reactions to the formula, bandages, gauze. It’s just been alot! Finally we’re doing pretty good. I’m still about 800-1000 calories short a day, but i’m slowly improving, however I still keep losing weight. My GI team is fairly positive I also have intestinal-paresis as well. Which just makes things even more fun..Not! Lactulose and I are buddies now! LOL  I got my Mic-Key GJ button last month, it’s been alright, the only thing is, I can’t vent my G-tube. Which really sucks. I’m also pretty much tube fed at this point. My body simply can’t tolerate any foods! I do try to get some ice cream a night though, as it’s one of the only things I can semi handle.

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Mic-Key GJ

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Weight Loss

As you can see, i’ve definitely lost a good amount of weight. I think i’m down 15-20lbs. And sadly still losing it. I’ll get it sorted, i’m determined!

Now, here’s a bit of good news!!! Living With Dys, has been nominated for a WEGO Health Award!! How exciting?! I, myself have been nominated for three, so that makes 4 nominations for me. I’m amazed at it all. I feel so honored and blessed. If you’re interested, check out my nominee page: https://awards.wegohealth.com/nominees/18307. IMG_0738

How great is this? What are your thoughts on it? What would you like to see more of?

I saw my geneticist Wednesday. I was not prepared for the results that I received. We did complete genome testing. It’s been about 5 months waiting for the results. Well, boy was I surprised, well kind of not really. My results showed I have a genetic mutation in the COL4A4 gene, which controls the Collagen Type IV basement membranes. I don’t just have a genetic mutation, I have the ONLY documented case of this variant. Literally the only one. I’m not even a zebra anymore, i’m a darn Unicorn. 246x0w My geneticist point blank told me, as of now, there is NO ONE to help me. No one knows what this mutation can cause, or what it can do. They’ve never seen it before. He’s advised me to seek out Duke and Johns Hopkins Research Department if they’d take me on as a patient. I did reach out to them this morning. It’s terrifying. Being told there’s no way to help you, that we don’t even know what’s going on or what can happen. It’s just overwhelming and so scary. I have low frequency hearing loss, and hearing loss is common with other variants of this gene. I’m being fitted on July 24th for hearing aids. I’m 33 and getting hearing aids… It’s just wow.  My rheumatologist, whom I absolutely adore, felt so bad that there’s nothing he can do to help. He still feels somehow MS is involved, he also mentioned Duke or Johns Hopkins is where I need to go. So if that’s where I have to go, that’s where i’ll go. What’s scarier to me, is it looks like I’m a carrier for this genetic mutation. My first question to my geneticist was,”How does this affect my son?” My son will have to be tested, as does my mom, to see if she has a milder version of a variant, or nothing at all. The change my son has this is overwhelming to me. It’s scary. I’m determined to become the absolute best advocate I can possibly be. I’m going to make noise, and i’m going to be heard. Someone has to be willing to listen and help me! Be ready y’all. It might get loud!

Yes.fit… who’s heard of it? They do virtual races. You do them on your own pace. It’s great. Cycle, walk, swim. Any steps or movement counts! I did one recently, and completed it. It was nerve wracking, and I did it completely at my own pace. We should definitely do one together! Motivate and empower each other! Who’s with me?!

Alright… Now I want to do a few live events, talks or chats. Who would like that?? My etsy store has also expanded. How exciting? New shirts, i’m focusing on empowering and positive messages!

In the midst of all this, I’ve been really struggling with my insecurities. It’s been very hard to see past them, and overcome them. My friends have been os supportive, it’s meant the world to me. My counselor has helped me to focus on positives and do thought stopping exercises. My tube doesn’t define me, it doesn’t change me. I lost sight of that. I’m slowly finding my way again. We often can lose sight of this when struggling, it’s important we focus on ourselves and self care. Feeding tubes, ports, Piccs, mobility aids don’t define us. Using them, having them doesn’t change our identity. Our identity is not rooted in our diagnosis. So many lose sight of that, so many let their diagnosis become their identity. Hope… we’ve lost it, let’s find it! join my facebook group, “Finding Hope”. Let’s lift each other up, and encourage each other!

 

Now my beautiful readers, Go Shine. Don’t let your sparkle dull. Be the absolutely best you, that you can be!!!!

First Post, New Year!!

Hello My darlings! I know I’ve broken my promise about updating more often, and I’m sorry! Though I have good news! I’ve been busy working with my financial aid office at my school to get my financial aid back. I was on academic probation, and thanks to a dis-compassionate professor I lost my financial aid last fall. Luckily I was able to get it back, after contacting the Disability Services and working with them to document my illness and get a Memorandum of Accommodations. Once that was turned into financial aid, I was approved right away! I’m so happy I can finally continue with my education! Eventually I’ll have my Masters, or even PhD!

So.. what else have I been doing?? Well, I baked bread, yes home made bread! I was my first time, and I was nervous but excited. I used my wonderful Kitchen Aide mixer and let it do all the hard work! I do have to say for a first try it turned out alright! I need a bigger pan, and to cook it slightly longer, but it was delicious!

Home Made Bread
Home Made Bread

We also went to the park and launched my son’s bottle rocket! I know, what was I thinking?! Not to worry it was a little rocket powered by vinegar and baking soda! My dad was a big help, seeing as how I can’t really pour anything into a small little bottle, so he did it! I sat down and watched my son run around after the rocket and laugh! It was a very happy time for me! I’m not able to get out much, but it wasn’t a sunny day, or very hot, so I was able to get out, and enjoy the day with them!!

Mathew and His Rocket
Mathew and His Rocket

 

Mathew and Grandpa
Mathew and Grandpa

 

After that we got a bout of chilly weather, which just made things horrible with my pain, and I couldn’t regulate my body temperature! I went from freezing to burning up! Seizures a few times a day, it was just awful!  So I ended up staying wrapped up in my jammies and Dysautonomia hoodie, and laying on my couch with my puppy!!

Me and Lillie Belle
Me and Lillie Belle

I’ve had falls, quite a few, and one really bad one, to where i’m not so sure I didn’t break a rib! Such is life for me! I’ve got my health insurance finally straightened out! I’m working on being happy and working on my book! I’ve also developed huge problems with eating. I’ve been unable to eat more than a few bites for two days now. I have only been able to drink about 2-3 oz of my meal replacement drinks too. So.. I’m starting to worry about it a little. I’m so hungry, and thirsty, but every time I eat I get so nauseous, and the pain is horrible, and no it’s not gas! LOL.  So I’m guessing it’s time to see a GI! Oh the joys of Dysautonomia!!

My Meals!
My Meals!

 

 

That’s it for now my dear darling readers!!! Until next time, I bid you a wonderful day!!

Well Done My Friend!
Well Done My Friend!

 

End of the Year Review..

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Hello my dear readers!! Tonight is New Years Eve. I’m home, ready for bed. LOL. It’s been a rough few days, this is not how I wanted to end the year. All I can say is, at least I haven’t landed in the hospital!

My goal for the upcoming year is to work on getting answers for my health, or as many answers as I can. I see my new neurologist next week, and I’m excited, yet nervous! I’m hoping things go well with him. I’m also working with University of Miami Neurosurgery Department to get an appointment with Dr. Green. They’ve been so helpful.  I also hope to get a wheelchair. 🙂 And make it special, and just for me. I’m nearly completely unable to bear weight on my left leg due to the pain in my hip. I also have some silly goals I’ve set aside for myself:

 1) Get the cooling bed so I can sleep!

2) Start crossing things off my bucket list, first is to experience the Northern Lights up close and personal.

3) Get special contact lens for my photophobia.

4) See my son graduate VPK (in May)

5) Write a book.

6) Make new and long lasting friendships.

These are just a few of mine! What about you?? Have you decided any resolutions for yourself??? This year has been very difficult, and at times i’ve wanted to give up, but I kept on fighting. Just as I will next year! Sometimes our trials seem so much, too much at times to handle, but we must remember, that we can overcome so much with our family and friends at our side.  I want to help others as much as I can. To help others see that even though we battle this hell, we don’t have to let it consume us, we don’t have to let the darkness win. Let’s start this new year off right. With positive thoughts, and hope in our hearts! Hope for so many things, and people. Remember we are all battling something, who are we to judge others?? All we can do is be kind to one another, show compassion, and hope that our kindness helps someone else.

So my dear readers, as I mentioned in the last post, I’d truly like to make this more interactive. I’m working on making this an active site, and hopefully I can have that done!

Stay safe my dear readers, and Happy NEW Year!!!!!!!!

Day After—We Survived!

 

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So, it’s the day after Christmas for those of us in the US..and guess what?? We made it, we survived the stress of the holidays! Maybe not by much, there may have been some falls, some passing out, some anxiety attacks, some arguments, but we made it! Lets all take a bow, or clap for ourselves! You know why? Cause dammit we deserve it! 🙂  This holiday was definitely hard on me, I was definitely a lot worse health wise this year than I was last year. I woke up Christmas morning, knowing it’d be a rough day, I was already exhausted from not sleeping well, and in a lot of pain. My son was already up and ready for presents, but first we had to have breakfast, and open our stockings from Santa, (he’s only 4). My dad made breakfast, our traditional Jiffy Blueberry Muffins, while my son and I opened our stockings. I got my cool gear cup, I’ve been looking for, in green! It seemed Santa didn’t want me to get sick since I got a lot of antibacterial wipes and hand sanitizer, he also got my favorite lotion, which is the only one I can use now, Cocoa Butter! Also Got some Hello Kitty Lip gloss, Yes Hello Kitty! LOL. Some other stuff as well. My son of course got all boy stuff, matchbox cars, batman figurines, tattoos, minions toys, finger skateboards, and candy..sigh.. candy and my son do not get along well, we limit his candy intake to the extreme. LOL. It hypes him up so much. So we finish our breakfast, while Pop (my dad) goes through his stocking, my son is literally jumping in his seat for presents. Telling us to hurry. And yes Santa did come and he had already gone through those presents. He got a remote control truck, an Iron Man toothbrush holder thing (haha like my description?), and an outfit for school.

Soo….finally Pop finished his breakfast, and it was present time, so we all head to the tree. My dad gets me a blanket in case I get cold and a pillow for my back. And we start handing out presents for my son..This kid made out like a bandit!! LOL he’s loved. He got clothes, Duck Commander PJ’s, TMNT PJ’s, another shirt for school, Skylanders game, Angry Birds Light up shoes, and Perry the Platypus shoe, a special book I made him of his Bible verses they memorize in school, a build your own bottle rocket, solar system model to build, a rocket ship clock that lights up the room and shows pictures of the moon or galaxy on the ceiling. So much science stuff for him. He loves science so much!!!! He was so excited!  I got some sheep pajama pants, a Kinect for xbox, and a game for the kinect. My dad got some pictures for his picture frames, a journal for himself from me, and a very special gift from my son: a poem “Walking with Grandpa” we also included pictures of them together, and my son signed it. I converted it to a picture file, printed and framed it. He choked up with emotion. And hugged my son so tight. 🙂 It was all worth it.

After presents, I rested a little bit, then started an apple pie.. Yes ladies and gents, an apple pie..home made! It turned out so so delicious! My dad made a standing rib roast, rubbed with steak seasoning and horseradish sauce, it was so delicious. I also made mashed potatoes and green beans.  My uncle and his girlfriend came for dinner. It was a wonderful day with family. 

As I was preparing for their arrival I decided to shower..of course I fell in the shower and seemed to have hurt myself pretty badly. I have a stiff neck, and weird numbness/pressure along my spine, along with tremendous pain in my neck, spine and hips. Of course unbeknownst to me, my uncle and his girlfriend arrived just in time to hear me scream and fall. Oh joy. But I brushed it off and made the best of the evening! I was determined not to let it ruin the day. I found a new friend in my uncle’s girlfriend. I’m glad to have met her. We ended up talking and sharing stories of our horrible experiences with doctors. She loves my uncle very much and I’m so happy to see him so happy! We exchanged numbers and hope to stay in contact with each other! 🙂

So my dear readers, while some of us are suffering through the pain, remember there is always someone there to help you, to love you. It may be someone you least expected. Instead of focusing on the bad, let’s start looking at the good. We’re alive, we’re loved, we’re supported. In many ways we’re blessed. We may not have good health, or be rich, but we’re rich in love, and support. To me, those things are worth more than money!

Let’s start thinking about our New Year’s resolutions! I want to start making this site more interactive! I want to interact with my readers!  Let’s start working together and reaching out to each other and focusing on good, not all the bad!

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My son and I before leaving to the airport

 

I am home from Vanderbilt. It was a long appointment, and a very difficult one for me.  The travelling was one of horrible experiences to date. Leaving Ft. Lauderdale airport,  I was refused a wheelchair because I refused to check my carry on bag. By the time I made it to the gate I had nearly fallen 3 times, and was completely exhausted.  The lights and sounds made my headaches excruciating.  Being in an upright position for so long, affected my spinal headaches, so that gave even more joy to my travelling. The travelling had worn me down, and I was at my worst by the time I got to Vanderbilt Thursday morning. I stayed positive, rather them see me at my worst, than my best! Because of the cold, I was seizing even more than normal, I was also falling a lot more than normal. I arrived at  Vanderbilt  at 8:30 am, I was tired, nauseous, shaky, and just feeling like crap. We headed up to the 5th floor, my appt was at 9:30, but due to not knowing the area or traffic we left our hotel a little too early! We checked in, and sat down to wait. I was called in for the autonomic testing. They were to do the Valsalva testing, breathing testing, and a tilt table, minus meds.

AFT Testing at Vanderbilt
AFT Testing at Vanderbilt

The nurse shut off all the lights for me, due to my sensitivity to them.  As the nurse finished hooking me up to the heart rate monitor, I started seizing. The pain was horrible, and my mom was trying to comfort me through it. Apparently I stopped breathing during it, so that scared her. According to my mom, who is a nurse, and the Vanderbilt nurse my heart rate went from 67 to 156 during the seizure.  After that I was out of it for a few minutes. The nurse continued hooking me up to the monitors. She couldn’t get a reading on the continuous bp cuff on my finger as my hands were so cold, she had to use hand warmers and then use a baby cuff. LOL.  As we started testing She was patient and comforting. We did the breathing test, where I had to breath against resistance, my goal was to hit 40, I didn’t even make it to 20. OOps. I became dizzy, it was awful. The other test was breathing in through nose and out through my mouth, I kept mixing it up and getting confused, and dizzy. This got me frustrated and near tears. After that was the tilt table. She tilted the bed up and almost immediately my nausea worsened, my chest pain worsened, and my dizziness increased. I kept saying I feel like i’m in Alice’s rabbit hole, according to my mom. I became very disoriented and confused, lethargic really. The test was finally over!  After that we could eat and wait for my appointment with Dr. Robertson.

 

Post Tilt Table
Post Tilt Table

So the moment we had been waiting for, for 6 months was finally here!!  We were taken back around 2:15, pm to meet with Dr. Robertson. I immediately liked him. He listened as I explained everything, how I felt, my daily routine, my limitations. He genuinely cared. He then asked me questions, and my mom questions. I tried so hard to keep up, but I kept getting confused and repeating myself. He was very patient with me. He then started his exam of me. He paid very close attention to my hands, in particular to my fingers, checking for inflammation. He also was interested in the severity of my photosensitivity. We spoke of my symptoms and how they affect my life. What’  I’d like to change. I explained I want to walk down the aisle, I want to dance with my husband for the first time. I want to be able to have a conversation with someone face to face without getting confused. I want to me able to go into the sun without feeling pain or passing out. He looked through the records I had with me from Cleveland Clinic. He was very interested in my case. He says I definitely have an autonomic dysfunction, but that’s not the only thing going on. We asked about MS. We waited with bated breath. His response was what i’ve known in my heart. That it’s a huge possibility. He suggested I get my MRI of my spine, he feels that’s where the lesions would be considering what is affected in my body.  I still don’t know if I’ve processed everything. He wanted my records, since Cleveland Clinic did not send updated copies prior to my appointment. I told him I will make him copies, and send to him. He said he really wants to go through my records page my page, and really read them and make his conclusion. I walked out  numb, not knowing to feel. He wants to stay in touch, and keep him updated on what we find.  He was so wonderful. By the time we left it was after 4:30pm.  I made the copies Saturday, and sent them via fedex, they will arrive tomorrow. I’ve already called his office and told them.

Mom and I at Vanderbilt
Mom and I at Vanderbilt

My Cervical MRI is scheduled for Next Monday, as well as seeing Dr. Tandri at Johns Hopkins. Finally, i’m getting closer to answers. I’m scared of what the MRI will show, I’m scared that in my heart I know what it will show, and you know what?? It’s ok!! If it is MS, I still won’t let it beat me down!!  My mom was so supportive through this trip. My dad has been amazingly supportive at home. My boyfriend worries so much and supports my fight every single day. My son loves me. Despite this illness I have a lot to be thankful for. I’ve accepted I may never know my true illness, while it will be awful, and could be dangerous, I have faith. I have the love and support of my family and friends, for that I thank you all. Those that have been on this journey with me, cried with me, laughed with me, I thank you from the bottom of my heart! My journey isn’t over. I still have a ways to go, and I’ll continue this fight as long as I can.

 

proverbs 3125

Dog and Sunlight= Laughs and Crawling

Here’s a laugh for ya! So I was inside relaxing, since I leave for  Vanderbilt tonight and I hear my dog barking like crazy. I  go outside not realizing how sunny it is. I’m instantly blinded, dizzy and just dropped to my knees. Now i’m crawling through the backyard on my hands and knees, to get her with my eyes closed because of the sunlight.. I had no idea what she was growling and barking at. So I finally got her!  30 minutes later she’s whining at the door to go out, I let her out thinking she has to go potty, but noooo not my Lillie Belle!!!!!.. Then, what do I hear????  The barking and growling again:  This time I went out prepared for battle..I had sunglasses and shoes,  and was prepared to crawl again if I had to dammit!  I heard hissing and the bushes were moving like crazy all down the fence WTH!!! ..She wasn’t backing down, I’m screaming for her, telling her to come, she wasn’t backing down. She was like “This bitch is mine! Mom”  LOL . I finally got her away from it, and in the house.  Then she starts pacing the living room whining to go back out and get it. So i’m assuming it’s a raccoon by her actions. lol. Our good little hunting dog!  I called my dad and he got a good laugh, though he was glad I’m alright. He said maybe a opossum. Maybe it’s a honey badger?! (for those that got the joke, good on you!)  Whatever it is, she wants it!  Hope this added some laughter to your day, because it sure did to mine!

Moral of the story: Just laugh, even if it’s at yourself. 🙂 I could have gotten angry, but what’s the point?

So..Who would win??? LOL 🙂

Lillie Belle     2013-11-09 20.22.02    Vs          raccoon The Raccoon