Hearing Loss, Masks & Ableism

Thursday I was craving some fries from McDonalds, which is one of my safe foods due to my gastroparesis. So I placed a mobile order, I did curbside pick up, but it wasn’t letting me check in for pickup. So I went inside. The cashier was talking to me and I couldn’t understand/hear her. So I told her. Then the manager started talking to me. I repeated I can’t hear them. She started again. I yelled “I’m partially deaf, I can’t understand you.” Then she laughs! The manager laughed! There were several guys in the waiting for their food, one stepped up to help me. When I walked away, she laughed again! I was so angry and embarrassed, I was almost crying. 

Masks have long been a challenge for those that are hearing impaired. Many have experienced horrible situations in being unable to communicate. This is NOT ok. This is stressful and honestly traumatizing. I have 30% hearing loss in my left ear and 40% in my right. I’m exhausted sometimes from straining to hear what’s being said to me by others.

Now you may think, what’s the big deal. Well the big deal is, for those in the hearing impaired community, reading lips is imperative to communicate. With lips covered, they can’t effectively communicate. Many won’t move their masks down, so their lips could be read. Many won’t write down on a pad of paper for the HI person, many make no effort to accommodate to provide effective communication. What is even more mind blowing is how often this is happening at doctors offices and hospitals. This happens way too often at doctors offices. I have told them, upon checking in for an appointment, that I am hard of hearing. I will not hear my name if called softly, or on the other side of the waiting room. Frustratingly it STILL happens! I had one appointment last year with an Ortho, I couldn’t tell you what was said. He wore two masks, and didn’t speak clearly. Again, this was AFTER telling him I’m hearing impaired.

 The sad reality is, this is happening at an alarming frequency. We, in the hearing impaired community have lost valuable, necessary ways to communicate. This has left us reeling. This has left us experiencing frustrating, even embarrassing situations. The amount of times we’re ridiculed, ignored or absolutely no effort is put forth to communicate in a way in which we need is astounding. There’s countless videos on Tiktok of this happening, countless posts on Facebook detailing the same thing. 

“The problems of deafness are deeper and more complex, if not more important, than those of blindness. Deafness is a much worse misfortune. For it means the loss of the most vital stimulus — the sound of the voice that brings language, sets thoughts astir and keeps us in the intellectual company of man.”

Helen Keller

In all honesty, it’s disheartening.This is honestly ableist. Having experienced this over and over is emotionally draining. Today’s experience was completely unacceptable. It should NEVER have happened. It SHOULDN’T be happening to anyone! Struggling to hear so I can communicate, is that really acceptable? Is that really where we are? This is NOT about politics. This is about a community being left in the lurch with struggling to communicate due to masks. We need to find a way that doesn’t leave an entire community struggling to communicate. If you see someone struggling, please help them. Offer assistance. Work to find a way to communicate with them. Whether it’s typing on your phone, or writing it down. Be kind. Choose kindness and compassion.

Relationships…and chronic illness

Dating isn’t easy. At any age, definitely not as we grow older. Relationships take work, trust, communication. You go through ups and downs. Breakups, marriage, divorce. There’s so many different things that go into a relationship, that make it work. Each one is unique, each partner is unique. Together, they’re a couple.

Being chronically ill isn’t easy. Dating while chronically ill is a completely different ball game. Relationships with one partner chronically ill can be challenging. I’ve seen far too many give up on their relationship, their marriage. They feel like a burden to their healthy partner, they feel unworthy. It’s easy to get stuck in that rabbit hole. To think we have nothing to offer. You do.

Having someone love you so unconditionally, they see past your diagnosis, they see past the worries, past the walls you’ve built. They see YOU. That is something amazing. Having a supportive partner can make a huge different in our own mental health while battling our chronic illness. Having their support helps lift you up, it helps you to not feel so alone.

Break ups suck. They’re hard, emotional, and at times absolutely devastating. I think it could hit those with chronic illness a bit harder. It could make us feel insecure, unworthy, not enough. When we end things without any real thought, or simply because we feel they’re better off, what are we really gaining? More importantly, what are we losing by doing that? Love, support, a partner? Why do we feel we can decide for them? Decide what they can handle, what they deserve? We make this monumental decision without discussing it with them. We break not only our hearts but theirs. If they want to be there, if they love you unconditionally… let them. Let them be there. Is it worth the heartbreak? Can you live with the regret of “what if”, if you end things? Can you look back years from then, and know you made the best choice? Will you ache for him/her?

I did that.. I left without a word. I gave up unconditional love. I gave up someone that loved me so damn much he put my health, my life before his. He was there from the beginning. Each appointment, 3 cardiac ablations, surgical follow ups, diagnosis, prognosis. He was there, and I walked away. I didn’t want to be a burden. I didn’t want him to resent me. This big, tough former military guy, and me.. Could barely walk, barely be upright. He deserved better. So I thought. So what did i do? I made the decision for him. I made the choice to walk away. With NO conversation of what HE wanted. Knowing he loved me. I broke my heart, and his by doing this. I damaged our bond, our trust beyond repair.

For 4 years I buried the pain. I buried the ache in my heart. The empty feeling I had. For 4 years I tried to convince myself I did the right thing. Then it all came crashing down. I checked an old email… and there were emails from him…So, I finally typed that reply to him… after 4 years. My heart pounded. Would he reply? Would he ignore me, as I ignored him. It took nearly 11 hours for a reply. After that reply, 3 hours after that we were on the phone. When I answered that call, it was emotional. It was instant tears.  There’s no way to describe what I felt. There’s no way to describe what I felt for him. “Hey you”..was all it took to unravel the carefully constructed walls around my heart… “Hey you” was all it took, for every memory to flood me, for every emotion to pour into me, for every “I love you” to fly back into my mind. My world unraveled that night. But really..it unraveled 9 years ago when we met.. 9 years ago when I said “I love you” after he brought me donuts to my office, and I said it for the first time. 

That night.. We talked, I mean really talked. Losing me nearly destroyed him, just as my losing him nearly destroyed me. That phone call shook my entire foundation.  I cried, yelled, raged once we hung up. My mom held me on the ground as I cried, letting years of anger, betrayal, longing, regret and love out.. The rage, the resentment, the regrets I’ve held. I still hold. He asked me why.. why did I leave? This answer isn’t an easy one, but here it is.

I let my health be a part of the reason I walked away. How do you walk away from someone that means so much to you?? Let me tell you, it isn’t easy. It’s painful. It’s emotional, it’s rage, it’s overwhelming fear. I knew my health issues, weren’t an issue to him. He cared about me, and wanted me, regardless of whatever health issues I had. He was caring, loving, supportive. I’d never experienced that. I didn’t think I was worthy. I didn’t want to be a burden to him, I didn’t want to hold him back. So, I simply walked away. Hurting both of us in the process.

Since reconnecting in 2018, we tried to rebuild the connection we had. It was powerful. All consuming. Fire and ice. How do you rebuild what you had? How do you talk through the heartbreak, the distrust? How do you forge ahead? It’s a lot of work. We tried. We tried so hard. We talked about the future. Our dreams, our hopes. Unfortunately we couldn’t get past the broken trust. He couldn’t get passed the betrayal of when I left. He couldn’t let go of the pain, of the heartbreak and rebuild. Things went from talking marriage one day, to “I don’t know if i can do this”, the next. How do you process that? How do you cope with that heartbreak? Honestly? Sheer devastation. Realizing I ultimately caused this. Realizing my making that decision for him years ago resulted in this heartbreak. In twice the heartbreak for both of us.

Does silence mean break up? Does it mean he needs time? At what point do I decide whether to move on or stay just a little longer with a sliver of hope? Is it even wrong to have that sliver of hope? I have anger, a feeling of abandonment, hurt, betrayal. I want to cry, I want to scream. I want a conversation on why. Why make all the promises that he’d never leave, that he’d always be there, just to leave? Why let me have the hope, just to leave? Why wasn’t I enough? It hurt. I was lost, confused, unsure of what happened, why we couldn’t fix it. Some days I want to give in to the hope. Others I want to move on, find someone that will love me, encourage me, support me..How do you walk away from someone that you loved for over 9 years?

I know my worth.. Ironically, he helped me to see that. I know what I bring to the table. I know heartbreak. I know love. Trying to heal the heartbreak, the heartbreak. Healing the anger, healing the hurt. Healing the hole that was left behind. The sliver of hope wont let go, that sliver holds on. Your heart says wait, while also saying you deserve more. What do you listen to? How do you decide? It’s a hard decision. It’s heartbreaking knowing that “always & forever” came to an end. All the letters he wrote, our pictures together, the bottle of his cologne. Do you hold on to it all, or let it go? This is a battle, yet this time I know my worth. I know that i’m a Queen. I made a mistake in the past, I worked hard to make amends. I can’t force someone to love me, to be with me. I love myself too much to beg anyone, I deserve better than that..

Really though, a simple conversation about what happened. Just talking, like adults. That could ease the pain for us both. Though there comes a point, a time where you have to do what is best for yourself. It doesn’t mean you don’t love that person, It means you love yourself too. That you’re putting yourself first, that you know your worth. It isn’t always an easy decision. Most times we agonize over it. Over whether to stay or leave. Sometimes we feel like we were forced into the decision. Walking away isn’t easy, not when you love someone, though sometimes the decision is made for us.

Dating, relationships with chronic illness isn’t easy. Just don’t give up. Don’t give up love. Don’t make that decision for him. That’s not right or fair. Our health doesn’t make it easy, but please know you are not a burden. You are not unworthy. You are so worthy. Tip your chin up, straighten your crown, you are more than worthy..

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.

October is…dysautonomia

Dysautonomia awareness month! What does this mean to me? It means i try to raise awareness for dysautonomia. Educate, and share my journey.

In 2013, I was diagnosed with dysautonomia. Now, there’s 15 different forms. I have THREE! Three different forms. 8 years ago it was so bad I couldn’t stand up without fainting. It was terrifying. I had to give my dreams of getting a Masters in Psychology. I was angry, scared, unsure of what the future was. All while being a mom to my son, a single mom at that. I’m immensely grateful for the support and help of my family during that time.

I didn’t drive for over 6 months. In 2012, I had to have a cardiac ablation due to a rare form of SVT. This led to my needing a pacemaker. My electrophysiologist decided on the Biotronik Evia DR-T. This pacemkaer is unique in that it has a special programming feature specifically for Vasovagal syncope, which i had. This has been an absolute godsend for me. My fainting has dramatically reduced, actually i haven’t fully fainted in years.

Adjusting to life with a pacemaker was overwhelming. Learning my do’s and don’ts. Come to find out, i’m hypersenstive to certain things and could actually feel when my ventricle lead was working. Unfortunately this meant that lead couldn’t be on, or it had to be set very very low. I’ve learned in recent years, this pacemaker has become key for alot of dysautonomia patients to regain some quality of life.

Post op I developed complications. I couldn’t walk. I nearly lost complete use of my legs. I had to use a walker to get around, even in my house. Wheelchair rentals when going somewhere. I started physical therapy but no one had any clue what was going on. It seemed to come in waves. I’d be fine for a few weeks, then “relapse” worse than the last time. Through a lot of hard work, and physical therapy my gait has improved. I still tire easily and now use a cane. Though, we are awaiting a wheelchair for bad days and long walking days.

I dealt with temperature regulation issues, GI issues, heart rate issues, headaches, fatigue. Oh man was the fatigue horrible. Doctor after doctor. Treatment trial after trial. It was overwhelming, seemed never ending. Eventually i’d had enough. The medication side effects were worse than the disease symptoms. After much discussion with my medical team, we decided to stop the medications, and trial IV fluids. My EP in Virginia had success with other patients doing this, so we gave it a try. Well what do you know, it was like a battery charger for me! I wasn’t as fatigued, heart rate wasn’t as erratic and my blood pressure stayed stable. This was amazing!!! So, it was decided to place a central line so i’d have constant access for fluids.

So fluids was my magic elixir! A picc line was decided. We placed it in spring 2014. It was honestly a horrible experience. in August 2014, I became very ill. Incredibly ill. Vomiting for hours, fever that reached 104.9. I was scared, and out of it. I don’t recall much of that particular night. My dad rushed me to the hospital. My primary doctor met me there. Labs taken, cultures done.. Picc line removed. I remember waking up the next morning. Apparently my team did not expect me to make it through the night. How terrifying is that to hear? It’s really hard. It turned out I had a septic infection. Dangerous and potentially life threatening. I’m immensely lucky we caught it early on. What caused this? Honestly, I feel it was the lack of proper protocol by home health. I am now a stickler for protocol. If you do’t know it, or can’t follow it, I will NOT allow you to touch my central line. This is non negotiable to me.

So here we are, it’s 2020. How am I? I have good days, and bad days. Every day I strive to make it a good day. To make memories with my son. I strive to live. By learning my triggers, by learning my limitations I was able to adapt my life and still live! Yes you read that right. I adapted to my limitations and still live. I choose to not allow dysautonomia to take my goals, hopes and dreams from me. I don’t want you to do that either. Yes dysautonomia is life changing, but it doesn’t have to be life ending. With treatment catered to you, learning your safe activities, you can still live. I want you to live. I want you to believe. I believe in you.

Stay true to who you are. Stay true to your goals, hopes and dreams. Please never give up.

My new reality…

 

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I’ve been dealing with health issues. My gastroparesis has flared to a hellish point. It’s become extremely problematic, to the point i’m hardly able to eat, and i’m living in constant severe nausea. I’ve lost weight, most haven’t noticed because i’m wearing baggy clothes to hide how much I’ve lost.

However, things have come to a head. My kidneys are struggling, my POTS is out of control, and i’m beyond exhausted. I’m malnourished and not absorbing what I need from the food I am eating. Last Monday I saw a specialist 3 hours away. My best friend Jen was with me. She held my hand, and rubbed my back as the doctor told me, I need to accept this particular procedure I need done..a feeding tube. A J-Tube to be exact. I cried, I immediately had a moment of panic.

The doctor said I’m basically starving…. Now you may ask, how did no one notice? How did no one close to me realize this?? Simple, I’ve kept just how bad things have gotten to myself. My family didn’t know, my best friends didn’t know. Only one person had an inkling, he knew something was wrong beginning of November, but I tried to seem fine, I tried to brush it off. Until I couldn’t. Now things have come to a head. Things are bad, but we can still salvage it. There’s hope, I just have to push like hell to turn it all around.

Today as I sat in my local gastro’s office, we made a plan. A new Gastric Emptying Study, another endoscopy, then we do the J-Tube. I need it done soon, before I land in the hospital. I’m scared, i’m angry, I feel so alone. My family hasn’t been very supportive the last few months. I’m basically coping with all of this and more on my own, and a few, select friends. I texted my best friend telling her this is why I walked away 5 years ago from a relationship. I didn’t want to be a burden, I didn’t want to drag him down this hell with me. 5 years ago I walked away from someone that loved me unconditionally because I didn’t feel worthy. Today, I had the momentary panic of doing it all over again. We came full circle 5 years later, and here i’m facing this hell. I’m facing my body failing me, but I can’t make that decision for him. Not this time.

Why did I panic? I felt unattractive. Realizing i’ll have this tube sticking out of my stomach, and an iv in my chest, it was too much. Why would someone want to deal with all this? Why would someone put up with all this? The answer is so simple..Love. However, I am still so scarred from  the abusive past I had, i’m still insecure in moments, I get stuck. Now though, i’m tired of it. I’m tired of letting my insecurities rule me. I’m fierce, i’m strong, i’m witty, I have amazing eyes. I’m beautiful. I’m me. No one can build me up, but me.

“You will be sexy and beautiful no matter what.”….. thats the text I got when I shared my concern with him. I’m so stuck on seeing it all as bad, he’s busy seeing me a a warrior, a fighter. He’s busy seeing PAST it all.
So, while I fear living with a feeding tube, i’m determined to own it. I’m determined to rock it like a damn pin up model. I’m determined to let go of my insecurities and live life, and love life. More importantly, to love myself and my body. I’m determined to find a photographer to work with me, and rock some pictures. Some might find it odd. Me? I find it empowering. This feeding tube is literally my lifeline right now. I need this, I need to let go of my fears, my insecurities and do what I need to feel confident. Having a feeding tube doesn’t make me unattractive. It doesn’t make me less of a person. I think as patients we can’t see the good, we can’t see our beauty. We’re too focused on the bad, too focused on what makes us feel bad, unattractive.  Let’s break the cycle. Let’s silence those thoughts. Let’s lift each other up, lets build ourselves up. We’re worthy, we’re beautiful and amazing. We’re so much more than our health. We’re warriors, we’re strong. We deserve all our hopes and dreams.

So dream, love and live!! Let’s work together to let go of the negative and embrace what we do love about ourselves… Lets create a community of being empowered.

Be+Empowered

What do I love about me??

  • Fierce
  • Strong
  • Independent
  • loyal
  • Caring
  • Supportive 
  • Witty
  • Funny
  • Inspiring 
  • Ambitious
  • Hopeful
  • I’m beautiful.
  • I’m me.

Be Fierce..Be Strong, Be YOU!!!

SXcm1cZ

From Dad’s Perspective…

I decided to do this post a bit differently! I know i’ve talked about my struggles with my health. I was curious about how my health has been a struggle for those closest to me. I sat down and talked to my dad, and really wanted to understand how he’s felt through all this.

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My dad holding me right after I was born. March 1986

He’s been my caregiver for a few years, prior to my fiancé coming into the scene. My dad is my hero. He’s a tough guy construction worker. He’s smart, funny, and a heart of gold. He’s always believed in me. My dad has been absolutely amazing through all this. He’s missed countless days of work to take me to countless doctors appointments, surgeries, and just to help me through the day. My dad’s unfailing strength has been a blessing. He’s been there to lend me legs, to help me eat, to just  listen as a I cry from it all, or from the pain. He’s seen the absolutely worst of this disease, and the days i’m semi ok.  So, I wanted to know how he’s handled all this, how he’s felt.

Prepare the tissues. Without further ado, He’s what he had to say:

1)      When I first moved down, and my health deteriorated, how did you handle or adjust to that?

I was upset and worried. I thought I could fix it. It was very stressful, I just tried to be supportive and help where I could.

2)      Have you often felt overwhelmed? If so, how do you deal with it?

Every time I access your port, every time we discuss what your doctors say. Lately I feel overwhelmed when you talk about making drastic changes to your life. I worry that you have a hard time now, adding additional things will just make things worse. That is not fair to anyone.

3)      Have you ever felt helpless? Being my dad and unable to fight off this monster of a disease. 

As a Dad, your job is to fix things. I am supposed to make things better for my children. I have to be strong for you and Mathew, it’s what Dad’s do.

4)      What is the hardest thing you’ve had to face in becoming my caregiver all over again?

The hardest thing for me is to admit I can’t fix this. Sometimes it makes me feel like less of a father.

5)      Do you prefer when I shield you from the bad days, or disease progression? Or do you want the truth of how things are?

It depends. I want you to be able to come to me if you really need to. I just have a hard time dealing with the constant negativity. It gets exhausting for me sometimes. You need to know I am there for you if you really need me though. I definitely want to know if there is anything I can do to help make it better.– (Author’s Note: i’m not always negative. I do have my days though.)

6)      What is your biggest frustration in ealing with my health?

Getting you to take care of yourself. Helping keep you positive. Making sure you make good decisions about now and the future.

7)      Being a caregiver to your adult daughter, have you ever resented the role? The sacrifices you’ve had to make to take care of me? 

Of course I have, I am only a man. That doesn’t mean I am angry or sad. We are all dealt a hand to play, How we play it is up to us. I have sacrificed everything in the last 5 years for you and Mathew. My wants and desires were not as important as making sure you two were ok.

8)      If you could give parents new to this any advice, what would it be?

All days are not bad. Enjoy what you can. Take the time to get to really know each other. One does not know how strong one is until they have to be strong.

9)      If you could tell me anything about how you’ve seen my struggle with my body, what would it be??

You need to take care of yourself better. Exercise more, eat better (more consistently) keep what you have for as long as you can. Your son needs you.

10)  Do you know how much I love you, and all you’ve done for me? How your quest strength and your love have given me strength? 

I know you love me. I do not do what I do for the reward of your love. I do what I do because I can’t imagine doing it any other way. I was raised to take responsibility not shirk it. The love of you and Mathew is a bonus not the reason for my actions. The reason for my actions is my love for you and Mathew.

Reading his answers made me cry. His overwhelming love and support is immeasurable to me.  He does what he does, all he’s done for one simple thing, his love for me, for my son. Parents do what they have to because they love us. They guide us, challenge us, and lead us. They are who helps shape us. I am the person I am, because of my dad’s guidance. I’m a stronger person because of his strength and faith in me. My dad is quiet, he doesn’t shower us with affection or pretty words. He’s like a tree. He’s strong, unyielding, and helps us to grow. He’s the roots in my life, in my family.

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My dad and I, when I was 4 years old.

Whether you’re a parent, or a warrior of a chronic illness, share your emotions. Share how this has been for you. Open that line of communication with each other. Caregiver and patient, you’re a team. You rely on each other, for good or bad. Lean on each other, strengthen each other.  Most importantly, love each other.

It’s not always negativity, or sadness, or anger. There’s days of a plateau, days of good and sunshine and energy. Then theres the storm clouds, the thunder and rain of anger and sadness. Don’t lose yourself in the storm clouds. Don’t shut yourself off. Lean on each other. Remember, the sun always shines after the storm.

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With love,

A

Life, Insecurities and Strength

Hello my beautiful and amazing lovelies!!! I know i’ve been missing in action, but now i’m focusing more on writing, with the support of my family and friends!!!

 

OK!! Lets get down to it! So, i’m not sure any of you know, last year I signed on to be a Community Leader with Dysautonomia Support Network . This was so important to me.  I want to connect other patients, other caregivers, I want to work together and get doctors involved in learning more about dysautonomia. This is a passion of mine. This I do, for all of us, for you, your wife, sister, mother, friend.. Anyone that suffers any chronic illness, we need to build that support system together! I’m working on projects, still learning the ins and outs of things. It’s been an amazing time learning and volunteering with so many amazing people. 🙂

 

Now I know i’ve touched on it in a few older posts. I walk with a limp, with an unsteady gait. I usually use a walker. Well, my rheumatologist is sending me for Aquatic Physical Therapy. I had my first consultation this past Tuesday. It was interesting, long and tiring. I have motor control and planning issues. My joint instability also lends to issues. I have major balance issues. My goal is to walk down the aisle at some point, and dance my first dance and dance with my Dad! She recommended a wheelchair for distances and anything that involves a lot of walking. This, unfortunately I know was coming. We’re now at a safety thing, a wheelchair will give me a bit more freedom, and allow me to do things with my son/family. When I got home, I was upset, I cried, and just didn’t want to acknowledge she was right about the wheelchair.Two amazing friends, whom I met through DSN, also were amazing at reassuring me of things, and how it does’t have to affect my life as a mom or wife negatively unless I let it. Between them, and my family, they really eased my mind. I know it’s not an easy thing to accept, but we need to acknowledge our body’s limitations, we need to listen to our body, not push it till we fall, or are utterly exhausted. We need to take care of ourselves too!

 

This brings me to my next topic.. Self Care! What do we do for ourselves? To relax, refresh our mind, and body? Self care is so so important. The below quote is all too true. We must take care of ourselves! 🙂 What’s your favorite thing to do?? Leave a comment, lets start a discussion (I may create a facebook page for my blog), and maybe give each other ideas!

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Alrighty, someone asked me how can I be disabled, sick, and date. I talked to my counselor, and she helped me to see myself for who I am. I’m strong, i’m independent, i’m compassionate, passionate, loving and caring. I’m a silly in the car singer, dancer, and goofy person, I love meme, and jokes. Why WOULDN’T anyone want me?? My physical limitations don’t have an impact on WHO I am. They DON’T define me. I think that’s what we in the chronically illness community deal with. It’s become a part of us, our life, and we’re so quick to just dismiss the chances of life, or really living life. I think we need to always remember, we’re people. We’re not our illness. We’re not our dysautonomia. We’re not our Ehlers Danlos, Our Lyme, or anything else. We’re ourselves. We are who we are. We’re people with dreams and goals. You deserve all the love and happiness. Don’t let your illness define you.

 

I can’t stress this enough, always be true to you. Always be a voice, always know you’re beautiful. you’re strong, you’re a warrior. Most importantly You’re not alone, there’s a community standing behind you. There’s always someone there to listen, just reach out. If you’re new to a diagnosis, reach out to a group. If you’re new to being a caregiver, reach out. I will be here to listen. For now my beauties, stay who you are. Continue being the warriors you are, be proud of who you are.

 

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-Much love to you all.

A.

 

Annnnd.. We’re back!

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Hi all!!! I know it’s been a long time, unfortunately my actual website crashed, and I can’t retrieve anything from it! 😦 So, i’m starting over on here, while I rebuild a new one! So stay tuned my lovelies!

So, it’s been an eventful year!

Onto a quick medical update:  It’s been a year of doctors, and revelations! I was diagnosed with Ehlers Danlos in May. The doctors are now fairly certain I have amyloidosis. So, we’re going through all the testing for that. They’re also pushing for an MRI to fully rule out MS. My gastroparesis is causing issues, but i’m trying to push through. My gasro is good, but now i’m searching for a motility specialist. Any suggestions for Florida, would be greatly appreciated.

One thing that’s been really heavy on my heart is the taboo topic of Mental Health. The depression and anxiety many with chronic illnesses suffer from. The way doctors brush off symptoms, and just tell us it’s in our heads. It’s unacceptable. I’ve heard some people, doctors even, say, ” Just be more positive”. Having a positive outlook isn’t going to cure an illness…  This is why people who struggle with chronic illnesses, and mental health issues say; “I’m fine”. Because when we’re honest about how we feel and how we struggle, we’re told to think positive. It’s a bullshit statement. My thinking positively isn’t going to cure my autoimmune issues. So I’ll just continue on with saying; “I’m fine” because people don’t want to hear nor see the truth. I’ll hide behind the fake smiles, and carry on. Perhaps it’s because no one takes us seriously, no one lets us feel what we feel. We’re told to suck it up and be positive. #endthestigma

No, I’m not saying that being positive doesn’t help, however it is NOT a cure. It’s extremely condescending to tell people “oh just be positive, it’ll cure you.”, or “maybe be more positive and you wouldn’t be so sick.” Those are condescending statements made to people, by people that don’t understand nor care to. They make people feel ashamed for how they feel, they basically say, how we feel is wrong. That’s unacceptable.

 

I’ve had doctors, several in fact, comment on how positive I am. I don’t want others to feel down, or feel ashamed for how they feel and struggle, or brushed off because no one listens to how they feel. I’ve been there, I want to HELP them to share what they feel and how they struggle. We shouldn’t bottle up how we feel or struggle just so we don’t upset or offend anyone.

My motto is this: “Adjust, adapt, move forward”. That is what I choose to do when I face an obstacle. We need to be a voice, we need to find our voice. We need to stand up and say we’re not wrong, that our feelings are perfectly normal. We’re not something to be ashamed of, or to made to feel inferior. I’m working on launching a youtube channel, with blogs about this, and about my journey. I’d love to have collaborators. I’d love get this movement off the ground! I’d love to make this huge! YOU are not defined by what you have, you are defined by WHAT YOU DO and WHO YOU ARE!

Let’s be voice, let’s fight the stigma we face. Let’s be beacon of hope to those struggling to find their voice!

 

#findyourvoice, #beavoice, #letsbeabeacon, #dontbeashamedofyourstory, #beinspired, #endthestigma

 

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I’m back… again!

Hello my dear readers and friends! I know it’s been quite some time since I’ve written, and I’m sorry. I was not well, and had to take time to at least wrap my head around things surrounding my health.

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On August 19, 2014 I sent my sweet baby boy to Kindergarten!!! He’s such a big boy now! He tells me that he is, and loves “big boy” school. He started school the day after I was released from the hospital for the picc line infection. I refused to miss his first day of school!! Yes, I’m a proud mama!!!

First Day of Kindergarten!
First Day of Kindergarten!

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My baby boy and I

In September my cardiologist in Virginia had another one placed, my doctor in Florida removed it feeling it was a serious risk. At that point I was so overwhelmed and angry that my neuro would no longer order the saline, that I was ok with it. I started physical therapy to help with my strength, it helped slightly, but mainly left me exhausted and in pain. I sprained my MCLs at the end of August, which required me to wear two knee braces, the sprains were so severe I have to wear these braces ALL THE TIME! I hated them, and didn’t really wear them. Bad girl, I know! this led to bursitis around my knee and required me to get the corticosteroids in my knees. Unfortunately I had to get it in my SI joint as well due to major issues there. Such is life! lol  I also had an Echo done, and it showed an enlarged heart, as well as mitral, tricuspid, and pulmonic regurgitation. My cardio in Virginia is keeping it monitored very closely.

October brought it’s own set of issues, as well as fun Halloween time!! I didn’t do so well in school because I wasn’t feeling so well and couldn’t keep up with the course work. It’s awful, but it’s not exactly a shocking development! My son decided to be Flash for Halloween, which meant I had to be Batgirl…… Oh yes, I’m THAT mom! lol We went trick or treating with friends, and had an amazing time.  Which makes it all worth it!!

November brought some difficulties with me getting around and keeping my energy up, but I was ok. Thanksgiving sucked. I unfortunately had full body tremors and was passing out… again a wonderful holiday ruined by my health. I cried, and had to be carried to my couch, and to the bathroom. Dysautonomia, you suck! But dinner was yummy!! I also had the Mirena IUD placed.. boy was that painful!

December is when things fell apart. I started having major pre syncope, and passing out. I became unable to keep my blood pressure up. It crashed more often than not. Eating became a bigger challenge. My mom flew down and drove us to her house in Tennessee. I basically slept the entire way. I couldn’t rally do anything else.

January, my life crashed. I could no longer control my blood pressure, and was constantly dizzy. My energy was non existent. I slept nearly all the time. And I still wasn’t really eating. What I did eat, didn’t stay in me for long. My neuro here in Florida didn’t know what to do with me. She pretty much threw her hands up and told me that I DID NOT have dysautonomia. Which I found interesting because TWO other hospitals confirmed the diagnosis, and why didn’t she say anything in the last TWO year she was treating me for it?!  I found a neuro in Tampa that knows dysautonomia. I saw him at the end of January, and he ordered all new tests.  My sister drove me to my appointments, and for that i’m so grateful. My appointment for testing was last week. The tests confirmed that I do indeed have dysautonomia. He also said that my neuropathy is so severe in my legs that it’s affecting the blood flow to my feet, which is why they’re always freezing cold. He decided not to even try the Florinef or midodrine again as I had such bad reactions to them… He decided to go straight to IV saline… which means, another IV, which means a picc line or a port. I’m opting for the port. He has hope that this will help tremendously. I know it will help some.  This month has been incredibly difficult as I have no energy, and no appetite. I’m rarely hungry and when I am hungry I barely eat anything. My dizziness is so bad. My mirena has cause extreme pain. Today I learned that I have several ovarian cysts and pelvic fluid. The doctor ordered a CT scan, which is being done Friday. I’m hoping this is nothing major. I’m hoping it’s not Endometriosis rearing it’s ugly head again. I’m hoping for so many things.

I know at times we all feel helpless, angry, grieving, depressed. We must not let these feelings consume us. I know it’d be easy to let them, but we need to remember our fight, our inner strength. We’ve made it this far, we can make it even farther and face all  that comes toward us. Remember you are loved, you are worth it, and you are beautiful and amazing, but most of all remember you are not alone in this fight!! We’re all warriors, we’re all a family!

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Hospital, Smoshpital

Hello all!! It’s been a bumpy few weeks, but i’m still standing! (Barely). First things first… My little boy started kindergarten Monday!! Such a bittersweet moment!! He’s growing up so fast! I may have shed a few tears! He’s my baby boy! 🙂

Mathew's First Day of Kindergarten 8.18.14
Mathew’s First Day of Kindergarten 8.18.14

I’ve been trying to stay ahead of my fibro and POTS flares, but not fortunate enough to do it. On Saturday, I became very ill very quickly. Around 11am I had a small low grade fever, by 6 pm, I had started vomiting, at 9pm my temperate had reached 103.9, and I was still vomiting.. I headed to the hospital. My PICC line was removed, and heavy duty antibiotics, Zosyn and Vancomycin were started. I was admitted before I even walked into the ER, thanks to my wonderful primary care doctor.  I still had a fever at 4am! Luckily it broke, and between that and the antibiotics, I slowly became better. I was still nauseous, but ginger ale and crackers helped. My amazing friend Amanda brought me oatmeal for breakfast! It was so yummy and just what my tummy needed!! I was luckily released later Sunday night!

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What a weekend!! I’m so glad i’m alright, the doctors are still trying to figure out what caused the fever and such. It was so scary.

On a positive note, I started my fall semester today, and hopeful it’ll be the best one yet!!

Being chronically ill can lead to feeling lonely or depressed. Surround yourself with loving friends and family. Remember you are a wonderful person, and deserve to be happy! Just because we’re sick doesn’t mean we’re less deserving!!

Stay sweet my readers!! Until next time!!