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!!!

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Facing my Past, My Heart

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My last post I mentioned about the story I wan’t ready to share…Today i’ll share that story.

Seven years ago I met a man that would unravel my world. This man, He awoke a part  of me that I didn’t know existed..

He was there every step of the way.  From the very beginning of my health failing, he was there. We grew closer, we grew to love one another. We always laughed, we always touched. We always had to touch. He was everything to me. Our love was on a level I’ve never witnessed or felt before.  I opened up in a way I never had, just as he did to me. He held this aura about him. He took care of me in a way i’ve never experienced. My last relationship, i’d been so used to hurtful words, insults. This caring, and loving, I wasn’t used to it. I didn’t know how to act, how to handle it. (This is important). I loved the way he was there, he was my partner in all ways. See, everyone knew of the love we had, everyone knew what we had was on a level rarely seen. We were “Noah & Allie”.. we were a perfect match, in every way. He challenged me, encouraged me, supported me in every way.  It was him that convinced me to write my journey. It was him that encouraged me to go back to school.  

We grew so close, so quickly. We became so important to each other. We needed each other. We loved one another in a way that’s once in a life time. In December 2011, I collapsed while at work. Something was wrong with my heart. I was scared. I remember calling him as I was being loaded into the ambulance. Something was wrong, and I didn’t know what it was. We found out, I had SVT, and I had hit nearly 200 bpm.. My life now consisted of doctor appointments, tests, and medications to control it. In January nothing was working. I was rushed into surgery, a cardiac ablation. He held my hand as I waited to go back. He and my mom were with me. He was always there. Waking up in recovery, seeing him still there, was a relief. We hoped the surgery would be a success. We prayed. By middle February I was collapsing, I was short of breath. It turned out, the surgery didn’t work. I was rushed back in for another surgery. This time, I was getting a pacemaker. As a result of missing so much work, I lost my job. I didn’t know what to do. My mom lived 6 hours away. My dad was in Florida, and here I’m in Virginia. Unfortunately we couldn’t move in together at that time. What was I to do???  My guy, He thought of a plan. His plan, I should move in with my dad. Better doctors for me, better medical care. I didn’t want to. I was so scared… Losing him, it wasn’t an option. Losing him would be like losing part of myself. Though, I knew he was right. If I stayed in Virginia, I’d deteriorate. With a heavy heart, I packed my apartment, hired a moving truck. Started the long drive to my dad’s house In March 2012. Moving back in with my dad was hard. I was 25, with a child. I shouldn’t be back here.

The next year and a half we traveled to see each other. He always made time for me. Our last trip was life changing. That trip led to me making a decisions that affected us both. There was no discussion. There was nothing. There was me making the decision..  As I recall the memories, my heart aches. Sadly, my decision was that I walked away.. 5 years ago I walked away from someone that meant the world to me. 5 years ago, I ripped my heart in two. The pain, the heartache was soul crushing. Losing him, through my fears, my insecurities was hell. He had no idea why I walked away. He didn’t know the last time I saw him would be the last time. He didn’t know the fear that was in my mind, in my heart. Instead of talking to him, like we always promised to do, I simply turned my back and walked away. Destroying both myself and him in the process. He reached out to me repeatedly, for months, for years.. I ignored him. I didn’t listen. I couldn’t cope. Instead I buried it all. I buried all my emotions for him. I buried my confidence, my strength, my personality. Essentially, I buried myself.

Did it work?? Somewhat.. every day I thought of him. Every day it ate at me. Every night the dreams, the memories haunted me. The regret i’ve held is immense. He reached out to me a year ago in June 2017. I was at my best friend Jen’s house.. I got an email from him, read it and couldn’t cope. Jen tried to get me to email back, to listen to him, to talk to him. I couldn’t. I refused.

I tried to move on. I tried to bury my love for him. I tried to bury myself. I did a good job too, until it all blew up in my face. After ending my engagement, I thought of him. I needed to talk to him I needed him to know I almost made a mistake. I felt this overwhelming need to talk to him.

On what would have been my wedding day, I finally typed that reply to him… after 5 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 7 yeas ago when we met.. 7 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 5 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. It scared me. I didn’t know how to cope. This love, this supportiveness, this encouraging partner, I didn’t think I deserved it. 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.

We’ve talked every day since we reconnected. He knows me better than I know myself. Even after all this time. I wondered, If we saw each other, will it have fizzled, or will it all still be there, but stronger. Well i’ll tell you… It’s still there. Stronger than ever. Seeing him after all these years was emotional. Being in his arms again, was liking coming home. Hearing him tell me what losing me did to him, made me sob. This big, strong man loved me sooo fiercely. He stills loves me. This man, even after I left, continued to love me, continued to have hope that i’d come back.  It took me a while, but I came back.

I don’t know what the future holds. What I do know, is i’m not running again. I’m not walking away this time. I’m standing firm, facing him and all these emotions head on.. I know what we had..what we could have.. It’s something others dream of.. He was my one… 5 years later, we’ve found our way back… As much as losing each other hurt, I think we needed that time.. We needed to grow as individuals, before we could grow as a couple..I needed to know my worth.  I think it was the right person, just the wrong time. We faced so many obstacles at that time.. He’s never been far from my mind, he’s never been far from my heart.

I’ve spent the lat two months doing so much reflection. So much thinking. So much realization. Realizing I hid my dreams, my goals.. I hid myself for the last 2 years..Well technically the last 5 years. Why?? Why did I bury myself? Why did I lose myself? The fury, the rage took hold of me.. I gave up so much of myself. I lost so much of who I am.. Who I was.. I want me back. I want to be me again. Bright, confident, happy. I’m working on rebuilding who I am. Rebuilding my strength, my confidence. I’m going to rebuild myself stronger. I’m chasing my dreams, my hopes. I’m not giving up. Not this time.

I am beautiful, I am strong, I am a warrior. I won’t ever lose sight of myself again, for i’m rising from the ashes of who I was, to become who i’m meant to be. Stay tuned, for this warrior is just rising from the ashes and will be stronger than ever.

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From a child’s eyes…

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Hope you all are well!! I’ve been busy with summer break and had a few health issues. Hopefully we’re heading into right direction now!

This post I wanted to do something different. My son is super excited to be a part of this!  He has such a heart of gold. He’s so compassionate, understanding and just amazing. He is a big help. When we go out to eat, he asks the waiter about peanut oil, and such due to my severe peanut allergy. He makes sure it’s safe. He’s my little big helper. I see he gets upset sometimes when I can’t do things other moms can. I can’t walk through Disney, or go play soccer with him. I can’t go sit at the beach all day due to my heat intolerance.

As much as I know he’s a happy child, I really wanted to know his view on all this. How he sees it. So I sat him down and did an interview with him. He’s super excited to be apart of this. He’s also wanting to record a video, which we will be doing today or tomorrow and uploading. Without further ado, here’s his answers.. Here’s what it’s like from a child’s eyes..

From a child’s view..

1) When I first got sick, and had to adjust to doing things, how did you feel about that? I got sad, because you couldn’t do fun stuff with me anymore.

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

3) Do you ever feel angry? If so, why? Yes, Because you’re always tired, we can’t ride bikes or play soccer.

4) What is the hardest thing you’ve had to face in having a mom that is chronically ill? That you’re always tired. That we can’t go to Disney or the beach. That you can’t walk around fun places. Even if you use a wheelchair, I don’t care, I just want to go to fun places with you.

5) Do you prefer when I shield you from the bad days? Or do you want the truth of how things areSometimes I would prefer you to lie about the bad days, sometimes be honest. If you could give parents and kids new to this any advice, what would it be? For kids, Journal your feelings. Be honest about how you feel. Adjust to doing things at home. We play board games on bad days, we read together, watch. movies. We do what we can together.

For Parents: Your child will get angry, but understand their feelings, and talk them through it. Find things to do at home together that’s low energy. Make memories together. You don’t have to go somewhere to make good memeories.

6) If you could tell me anything about how you’ve seen me struggle with my body, what would it be?? You’re a good mom, you do everything you can for me. You make sure i’m happy. And You need to use your walker more, dad says so too.

7) Do you know how much I love you? Yes, I do.

 

Well, that was enlightening. He’s wise beyond his years. He’s honest, and understanding. We trying to hide things from our kids, to protect them, but maybe that’s leading to more anger, more resentment. We should open a dialogue with them about it. Explain what we can and can’t do. Most importantly, make memories together. He’s right, you don’t have to go places to make memories with them. We do movie days/nights. We play silly games on the iPad. We play board games. We find ways to create those memories that we will both cherish.

I know our health can take a lot from us, but it’s not just us that it’s affecting. Often times we push our bodies to exhaustion, pain and till we simply fall. We need to stop doing that. That does more harm than good. We need to listen to our bodies, we need to adjust what we do to be within our limitations. We need to adjust and adapt to what we do to have spoons to make these precious memories with our kids. I know it’s not easy, I know there will be trial and tribulations. There will also be laughter and joy. Our kids don’t need expensive things, or expensive trips. They need us, they need our attention, and time. Simple things can make great memories.

 

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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.