Anemia, And Hearing Loss you say?

Happy-December-7

I survived Thanksgiving! This year was my first year with my tubes!! It was hard, but we kept it small this year, just my mom, my son and I. My mom made a crustless pumpkin pie for me, which was great. Keeping it small really meant alot. I was invited to spend it with my dad and his girlfriend, but I didn’t want to spend it trying to navigate eating or not eating in a group of people. Hopefully next year I’ll be pretty well adjusted!

Now I’ve had some hearing loss, it’s mixed hearing loss. Meaning both conductive and sensorineural. We have a small idea why i’m losing my hearing, which is from a genetic mutation I have. My ENT is great and is recommending hearing aids at this point, due to struggles i’m having with certain situations. It’s overwhelming. I can say how many take hearing for granted. We never know when or how things can change for us. We always think, “Not me”.. Don’t think that way. Despite it all, and how overwhelmed I have been, I have confidence that it’ll be ok. One way or another.

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Now my tubes have been a bit complicated. It’s been a lot of ER visits. Last week my G tube nearly fell out!!! WHAAAT! Luckily I caught it right before it fell all the way out. I spent hours in the ER making sure it was in the right position (I pushed it back in), and having them secure it until Interventional Radiology could replace it the next day. It seems my balloon popped! Now idea how, and it’s so weird. Luckily IR got me right in the next morning and replace it within 5 mins. YES! IR is the best! I’m finally working my way up to continuous feed. Which means 24/7. I’m hoping to increase my rate so I can disconnect for a few hours a day! Being attached to a feeding pump or iv pump is frustrating, but the alternative is far worse. In time i’ll get back in to a routine. My intestines are being sluggish, which is creating a new set of problems. I’m also now anemic. More bloodwork now to figure out why, and to determine how we fix it. Hopefully it’s an easy fix. We decided if it’s low iron, we’ll do iv iron, so we don’t run the risk of my not absorbing it if taken orally.

We don’t realize just how much is affected by digestion, or lack thereof. Many don’t think of vitamin deficiencies or not absorbing the right amount through eating vitamin rich foods. With my gastroparesis, I have absorption issues, which in turn creates vitamin deficiencies. I’ve been experiencing extreme fatigue, hair loss, pale skin, and horrible freezing cold hands/feet. I’ve tried to eat regular food, it’s left me really sick each time. It’s just not worth it, but how do you give up food? How do you get to the point of accepting this is life? Tube fed, and applesauce and pudding are what you can safely eat? It’s left me angry, but again, in time i’ll adjust and accept it more and more.

Let’s talk beauty. Let’s talk self esteem. You’ve all seen my posts about how i’ve struggled with my insecurities. I currently have a few things in the works behind the scenes. I can’t announce just what yet, but hopefully soon I can! I will say, I aim to inspire, encourage and uplift others. Regardless of what you battle, YOU are beautiful and worthy my dear little warrior! Once my channel and videos are posted, i’ll link it from my site!

Feeling attractive, loved, and worthy is all so hard while battling chronic illness. Battling your body daily just to do simple function leaves you exhausted. Learning to love your body, which sometimes feels like a prison is hard. I urge you to not give up, find what you love about yourself, find your strengths, find you. Never give up. I know at times it feels like you can’t go on, or it’s not worth the fight. It is! You ARE worth it. When people compliment you, don’t question it, don’t scoff or roll your eyes.  Accept it, believe it. If you ever need an ear, shoulder or just someone to vent to, reach out to me. If you feel all alone, reach out. There’s a community behind you, lifting you up.

 

Check-it-outHere’s my latest project! It is now LIVE!!!  Tubie Photoshoot

 

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From a Spouse’s Perspective

 

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Last night as I sat reading an article on The Mighty, about partners of those that are chronically ill, I was hit with curiosity.  We hear so much of how being chronically ill affects us, but how does it affect our partners? How do they feel? What is this like from their perspective??   I quickly sent a text to my boyfriend, I explained I wanted to write a piece, essentially from his perspective. He said he’d love to help me. So, I sat down, typed out some questions and emailed them to him late last night. By 7:30am I had his replies.

Let me preface with this, we met in September 2011. He was there from day 1 when all of this started.

Without Further Ado,

From a Souse/Partner’s Perspective:

1) When at first when my health deteriorated, how did you handle or adjust to that?
I handled it like every other day and I don’t feel like I had to make any adjustments that I didn’t want to make on my own.
2) Did/Do you ever feel overwhelmed? If so, how did you deal with it?  
I never feel overwhelmed personally, but I do feel bad that you get stuck, probed and prodded regularly by nurses, and doctors. You’re shuffled from specialist to specialist, all while hoping for answers. 
3) Have you ever felt helpless? Being my partner and unable to fight off this monster of a disease.
No I don’t feel helpless because you’re the strongest person I know and if anybody can get through this, you can. 
4) What is the hardest thing you’ve had to face in dealing with my health?
I would say the pacemaker scared the living hell out of me. That’s dealing with the heart, so many risks with that. It was kind of hard to handle but you amazed me with how you handled it like a champ.
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?
I want the truth about how things are, no matter what, your love and well being are my first priority.
6) What is your biggest frustration in dealing with my health?
My biggest frustration in dealing with your health is that sometimes your attitude on life gets to me. The eating/drinking issues, you won’t do it some days because you know how sick you’ll be after. So you don’t want to do it. That you won’t do the feeding tube, even though you need it. You let your family talk you out of doing what your doctors suggest. You also don’t see yourself as beautiful, you feel like the feeding tube, will make you less beautiful to me.  Scars, or a feeding tube won’t make me love you any less, or see you any less beautiful and amazing. That’s really frustrating for me. 
7) Being a caregiver to your girlfriend, have you ever resented the role?
I never resented the role. It’s a role that I choose to be in, because I love you. 
8) If you could tell me anything about how you’ve seen my struggle with my body, what would it be??
Nothing, your body is flawless. Scars tell stories and you have a lot of stories to be told. Your never ending strength is amazing to witness. 
9) What’s the most vivid memory you have of dealing with all this?What memory sticks out the most?
The day you got your walker. I felt you used it as an excuse to give up on physical therapy, of getting better, stronger.. You have problems walking yes, you tire easily, but I could see that you wanted to give up, instead of pushing through to overcome it. That was hard for me to see. 
10) What’s the hardest thing you’ve had to deal with in regards to watching me struggle with my health?
When your self esteem drops. You’ve grown stronger in who you are, you’ve found your inner strength, your voice. You inspire people with your words, and your realness.  However, Nothing about YOU has changed, you’re the same person you were when I met you. You don’t see the beauty I see when I look at you.  That’s hard for me, that you don’t see what I see, what others see. 
11) If there was anything you could change about my health or how I see things, what would it be?
Your health does not bother me, but how you see things does. Open your eyes, look around, you have a lot to live for. You have a lot to be happy about. 
12) Have you ever wanted to walk away, leave? 
I didn’t think that was an option. A real man or woman would stand next to their partner no matter what.  
13) If you could give spouses/partners new to this any advice, what would it be? 
Work hard with what you got, and above all find happiness and peace within yourself.
Reading his replies, it really put things into perspective. It made me see myself with different eyes. This man, he’s loved me unconditionally for 7 years. He’s held me as I cried, he’s calmed my fears. He was there through cardiac ablations, my passing out, losing strength to walk. He’s seen the good, the bad and the hell. He’s seen me angry, cry, and grieve over losing my healthy body. He’s talked to me as I had convulsion like episodes, he calmed me when I was upset. He reassured me when I was scared. He was my strength when I wasn’t strong.  Most of all though, he’s loved me when I couldn’t love myself.  He’s watched me as I slept to make sure I was still breathing. His never ending strength and love have really helped me grow as a person, it’s helped me grow into myself. He’s encouraged me, embraced me, challenged me, and loved me. He has pushed me to do things I love, to do things i’ve dreamt of. He’s my steadfast rock, my cheerleader and my biggest supporter.
It’s not easy being with someone that has many health issues, but as he said, nothing about that person has changed. Love is love. Love them wholeheartedly. Love them despite it all. Love them through the good and bad. When they feel like giving up, lend them your strength, cheer them on. I assure you, your love, strength and encouragement mean everything to us.
So to my amazing, loving boyfriend, from the bottom of my bionic heart. Thank you for all you’ve done for me, all you do for me, and all you will do in the future. Your encouragement and love mean the world to me.
Grá Go Deo,
A

End of the Year… Reflection

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I’ve spent the last week or so reflecting on my year. My 2018 started out promising..it seemed to have spiraled a bit!

January was interesting. It was probably when I first started having doubt about getting married. By March, I was thinking of my ex boyfriend, dreaming of him more often, and really started second guessing the wedding. Though I pushed forward. My health was up and down. Dealing with Emergency laparoscopy in May, then a HUGE HIPPA violation at the hospital post-op. Which left me reeling, and extremely upset. May brought me un June, and my proteins levels in my urine were climbing, thus an emergency renal biopsy was done! This led to the discovery of my  having Thin Basement Membrane Disease. My nephrologist put me back on iv fluids, lactated ringers to be precise, 3 times a week.

The summer was busy with wedding stuff and keeping my son entertained. Dealing with my health and exhaustion. Spending time with my son. August prepared us for Back to School. August was the start of the spiral. I ended up canceling my wedding. Ending my engagement. So much has happened since then.  In, September I reconnected with someone from my past, someone whom I’ve loved for 7 years. October, November led to may seeing him for the first time in 5 years. What an emotional moment that was. It had to happen though, we both needed to see each other, say what we both needed to say to the other that we never got the chance to.  December led to health concerns, reconnecting with love, but most importantly time for reflections. It also led to my starting therapy. Therapy has been a godsend for me. It’s allowed me to really work through my emotions, and process it all. It’s a safe place for me to just unload my concerns, emotions and everything.

December also led to my son being diagnosed with Autism Spectrum Disorder, High Functioning. We suspected it, having some answers has been amazing, but learning and navigating things with him is hard. I’m determined to learn all can, and find ways to help him be the best him he can be!!! We attended a football and hockey game! He’s starting soccer, he’s excited, but he’s also well aware of how overwhelmed he can get. We’re trying to find techniques for him, to make things a bit easier. It’s a learning process, we’ll get through it.

I’ve spent the last few months reflecting so much. Reflecting why I made the decision I did all those years ago. I’ve thought that maybe I should leave again, maybe he deserves someone worthy, someone not sick.  I don’t want to be a burden. I’ve struggled with depression the last few months, especially the last month. Christmas was hard, for emotional and financial reasons. There’s days I feel like a failure as a mom. There’s days I cry at all I have to deal with. Days I feel like a failure as a girlfriend. My biggest biggest thing, is my self esteem. it’s such a struggle some days. There’s times I feel absolutely stunning, and others I’m like “WTF, what does he see in me?”… He tells me every day i’m beautiful, but he said this: “It doesn’t matter how much I say it, until YOU believe it for yourself”. How right he is, no matter how much he tells me i’m beautiful, it won’t matter unless I start to see it and believe it! My depression is sinking, it’s swirling around me. I sit here and cry wondering how I left 5 years ago, how I walked away from someone that loved me so unconditionally. I’ve become stuck in that loop. Instead of seeing he’s here, he’s still loving me, i’m stuck in the why, i’m stuck on the feeling like an annoyance, feeling like a burden. I know i’m not, but sometimes, in that moment it’s hard to see past it. It’s a struggle lately, a struggle sometimes I can’t overcome.  I refuse to walk away again, no matter how string the fear is, no matter how scared I am. I can’t walk away from him again. If I do, i’ll lose him forever, i’ll lose my heart.

This year was full of struggles, full of hard decisions I had to make. Full of trials and tribulations, tears of pain, tears of laughter, tears of love. Ending my engagement, but finding my way back to someone I loved so fiercely, it’s scary.  I’m working to let it all go. I can’t control everything, I can’t control the future. What I can control, is myself, my feelings, my reactions. I control me. I am choosing to let go of my insecurities, to let go of my fears. I’m ending 2018, i’m ready to let it all go. Let all the hell of this past year go. Let the self esteem struggles go. I’m choosing to wake up tomorrow, Jan. 1, refreshed, and on a new page for the next chapter of my life. I’m choosing to live, to be happy, to be loved! I’m choosing to let go of negativity, to let go of those that don’t bother in my life. I’m choosing to surround myself with supportive, loving, understanding people. I’m writing my story, i’m sharing my soul. For I have so much I wish to do, I refuse to be held back any longer by my fears or my insecurities.

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2019 is going to be my year. My year for laughter, for friendships, for love, for inspiring others, for travel. 2019 is going to be the year I decide to move past the fear, and fully embrace who I am, fully embrace the past that I can’t change, fully embrace the future that is yet to happen. I am choosing to end 2018 by letting it all go. I choose to follow my path, be positive, happy and loved! I am choosing to let go and let God. If I don’t let go of the fear, I won’t live. I won’t accomplish anything I wish to, for the fear is holding me back.

I’m loved, i’m blessed, and without a doubt, you all are loved as well. You’re never alone. If you ever feel that way, reach out to me, I will listen. I will be here. Together we can build each other up.

Be you! Be Fierce, but most importantly, be true to yourself. Never give up your hopes and dreams. Lets all start 2019 off full of hope, full of dreams.  My story is just starting…stay tuned…

 

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Down the Rabbit Hole..

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This post is going to be raw, unfiltered, and real. This is me being laid bare.

Devastation, anger, betrayal, relief… those are the emotions i’ve felt in the last week and a half. Watching my future plans just fall apart. I’ve been so strong for so long.. When will someone be strong for me? When will I be held and told it’s ok? I’m angry, i’m SICK of being stronger. I’m so damn tired of it all. I’m damn tired of battling my body. I’m tired of battling doctors for help. I’m tired of not being able to eat. I’m tired of wanting another child, and seeing my hopes and dreams fade away. Most of all I’m tired of my self doubt. I’m tired of worrying i’ll be a burden to someone.  I’m just tired…

No one understands my anger, my fears, my insecurities. I don’t want to be a burden. I want to be a wife. I want to be someone that my spouse is proud of to have as a partner in life. I want to inspire others. I want that, and I deserve it. However, in my lowly depression I CAN’T see that. I can’t see I deserve it. I can’t see how others see me. I can’t see myself as inspiring, or real. I am so scared of not being enough for someone. I’m so scared that years into a marriage or relationship my partner can’t handle it anymore. Will it be when I can’t give them a child? Will it be when i’m dislocating my hip during sex? When i’m hooked to an IV multiple days a week? Will it be when i’m in a wheelchair? I am so terrified of NOT being enough. I want to be enough.

I call my depression my rabbit hole. Falling down the rabbit hole.. It’s never good. Sometimes it’s a quick visit… sometimes it’s longer: days, weeks, months. I feel it swirling around the edge of me. The darkness becomes soul crushing. The depression yearns to take over. I’m stronger than this.. but at the moment, the darkest is tempting. This rabbit hole, this spiraling blackness, we all have it, just varying degrees. Some are masters of their depression, while some succumb to it. It’s our character, our strength that decides that.

Strength…we all have it. Control…we all want it. What if we submit the control? What if we submit the control to acceptance? Acceptance that this battle will not end, but that this battle will not END us! We yearn for control of our life, our emotions, our everything. Really though, we have no control. When I feel out of control of my emotions, I get scared, I tend to “run”.. I tend to become so seized up with worry, and fear I can’t handle and process these emotions. I simply shut down..It’s a defense mechanism. I can’t help it. I try, I try not to shut down, but that swirling darkness… that old peaceful friend of mine.. yeah it’s tempting. The silence, the peace I find there by embracing it is a welcome reprieve from my overwhelming emotions.

Ahh… that swirling darkness, with the taste of yearning, longing, peace.. but it’s fake peace. I know it. You know it. Everyone with depression knows it. However we still welcome it like a comfort blanket. Why? Why do we do this??  Perhaps it’s because we feel no one actually cares how we are? No one wants to hear us yell, scream and cry our feelings out. We need to do that though. We need to purge them. We need to stop faking that we’re ok. It’s ok, to not be ok. We’re so afraid of someone seeing the crack in our armor, we hide it. We’ve become masters at hiding it. I’ve mastered that skill. I’m so tired of hiding it. I’m so tired of faking it. I’m so tired of the lonely darkness swirling around.  Our partners don’t understand, our family doesn’t understand. We do though, we as warriors understand each other’s battle.  That taste of peace we find in the darkness, it calls to us. It sings the song of a siren. It beckons us. Resisting it, it’s not always easy. It’s not always to see the light in the darkness. We can’t see the wonderland through this darkness of a rabbit hole. We, in our swirling peaceful darkness can’t see the light. We need to always remember, light will ALWAYS come. Light will always shine. The sun will always come after the storm.

We all go though ups and downs. We overcome them. We go through relationships, friendships and family issues. How we handle it is what builds our character.  We can fall apart, we can break down, but from that we need to find our strength and rise again. Stronger, and wiser. For we are The Phoenix. 

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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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Self Esteem Struggles

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  As I scroll through the many dysautonomia groups i’m in, I notice a recurring thing.. Quotes, concerns and just venting about relationships, self esteem, sex. So many of us go though relationship break ups, marriages, fertility issues, hard decisions regarding dating, or just to have children. We all look to each other for support and guidance. However, i’m noticing a distinct lack of community for these topics, and it’s disheartening.

Lets really delve into this. Being chronically ill, we deal may deal with fatigue, wheelchair use, mobility aids, allodynia, hair loss; many others things that affect our self esteem. We may have had horrible dates, or our partners leave us. Guess what? It’s their loss! You’re a warrior, you’re stronger than you think! Most importantly, you are NOT alone. We’ve all been there.

I’ve struggled with self esteem issues for years, i’m not ashamed to admit that. I struggle to like my body, weight or smile. I’ve struggled to see what others see. In the last year, through counseling and the amazing support of my family, I’m starting to see what others do. I used to worry I wasn’t skinny enough, or pretty enough for some. I always felt I had to overcompensate for it. I hated dating, and the inevitable questions like: “Do you work out?”; “Do You work?”, or my personal favorite “So you just read all the time?Like you sleep all day? That must be nice.”   No, no it’s not nice to be so bone tired all the time! It’s not nice to take a shower and then feel like you need to nap!

Dating was anxiety ridden hell at times. You know what though? I had faith that at some point, it’d be worth it. That there is someone out there that was willing to be my cheerleader, rock and partner through all this. It didn’t happen overnight for that realization to come to me, it took a while. That shift in outlook isn’t overnight. It takes time. Time to realize that you, my darling reader ARE worth it. You  deserve all the happiness. Your health doesn’t make you worth less!

Sex… yes sex.. We can all chuckle at that for a minute! With our lack of energy, self esteem, and health greatly affects our sex life. Let’s not hide, or not discuss it. We need to discuss it. We are all adults here (at least I hope everyone is). We want to feel that intimacy with our partners, the desire. Though, I can guarantee you, that there’s times you feel it’s a chore. No! Don’t think that. This is a way to increase intimacy snd strengthen your bond with your partner. It’s important to find ways to do this. Difference positions, are important. Communication is key. Communication is vital in a relationship. We’ve all felt less desirable at some point due to our health, don’t hide it. I’m a firm believer, though I know not everyone is, that sex is important in a relationship and maintaining intimacy. Communicate this with your partner, more importantly, listen to them. Adjustments, trial and error are vital in finding what works best for you as a couple!

 

Kids.. some want them, some don’t. I have a son. I’ve always wanted one more. Learning that your illness is so debilitating, that having a child would be difficult is heartbreaking. I’ve been there. Some choose not to have a child due to their health, some choose to try for one. Some experience heartbreaking fertility issues. It’s not easy. These aren’t easy decisions to make, easy things to experience. I’ve had 6 laparoscopies for endometriosis. One oophorectomy-right side. 4 cardiac ablations,. I have mobility issues, GP, POTS, OI, endo, IST/SVT, migraines, fibromyalgia, neuropathy, EDS and Nephrotic syndrome.  I’ve spent the last year with my doctors, discussing everything about a pregnancy, the what ifs, plans, good, bad and ugly. I’ve been told brutal truth, to where i cried. I was in therapy to help in the event I made the decision not to have another child. I was in therapy to process my emotions. To process feeling like a failure as both a woman, and future wife.

I’ve wondered, and cried thinking about my son having a disabled mom. There’s times i’m upset that I’m not a soccer mom, but honestly I still feel blessed and happy to have him. I know my limitations, and I do what I can. We have a very open communication with him about my health. He loves our movie days. He actually pushes me to use my walker or wheelchair more. Though I know some wouldn’t agree, but I think my son growing up as he is, is learning to be more compassionate, caring, empathetic and understanding. He has a heart of gold, and is such a helper. As much as I struggle, I wouldn’t trade it for the world.

I know i’ve made comments about feeling fat, or ugly. My family hates when I put myself down. The self deprecating comments, we’ve all said them. We’ve all dealt with all these issues at some point in time. We feel there’s no one to talk to about all this. That no one understands,. You’re wrong. There’s so many just waiting on a community to forge this support! There’s men, and women that struggle. This isn’t just a woman problem. We’ve all struggled. Living with an illness that affects us so much, that has us disabled, or not, we all experience these issues. It’s up to us to build that comity with each other. I see on facebook, people tearing each other down. That’s unacceptable. Be the light! We, as a community should be lifting each other up, not tearing each other down.

Personally, I absolutely refuse to let dysautonomia destroy my goals, hopes and dreams. I won’t let it control me, I won’t let it rob me any more than it has.

 

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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

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.

Im-Back

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!!

Saline and me..we’re friends :-)

So a month has gone by without an update… Don’t be mad my loving followers!! I went to a conference in Washington DC hosted by Dysautonomia International. I met so many people, and learned a lot.

It seems the “experts” are against saline therapy, fearing addiction to it… Seriously?? My electrophysiologist laughed at this, as did many of us POTS patients at the conference. It was an informative conference, however they really only focused on one type of Dysautonomia. I was told by an “expert” that I needed to have my picc line removed as it’s offensive to people, and that I needed to cover it up for Lobby Day. I took an immediate offense to this. When morning dawned for Lobby Day, I was completely bedridden. The weekend of the conference was so full of informative sessions, it was hard on me to keep up, it was hard on a lot of us to keep up. I couldn’t attend Lobby Day because my body had had enough. I flew in on a Friday, and left on the following Tuesday. Two days of flights, and two action packed days of sessions. My body was exhausted. I ended up having to do a saline infusion just to get myself to the airport on Tuesday! lol

 

First night of Dysautonomia International Conference
First night of Dysautonomia International Conference
Day 2 of conference with custom cup by Jilly's Decals
Day 2 of conference with custom cup by Jilly’s Decals
Day 3 of Conference
Day 3 of Conference

 

Once I got home, it took almost two weeks to recover. When my neurologist decided to extend out my infusions over the next 6 months, things happened that should never have happened. My nurse was changed, so I was assigned to a new nurse. The new nurse, when meeting me for the first time, decided to make her thoughts known on my saline treatments. She stated that I need to force fluids down my throat and have my picc line removed. On top of that I was allergic to the bandage she was using. I told her as much. She used it anyway, this was on a Monday. By Wednesday the bandage was falling off. When she came to check it, she didn’t even change the bandage. I had to tape it to my arm for another 5 days!! She also didn’t use gloves when changing my bandage, this set me off. I called the office to complain. When I experienced pain over the weekend, I had to call the on call service. I was told my the on call nurse to deal with it or go to the ER.. Seriously? When I called Monday to file a complaint, the lady that answered the phone told me that the nurse I spoke to on Saturday evening would never tell me that. That’s how they handle the situation? The nurse came Monday, and proceeded to make snide remark after snide remark! Saying “Oh are you going to report me for that too?” Unacceptable!!! I didn’t even call the agency again, I called my insurance company and filed a complaint. Upon speaking with my insurance company, I was told the agency was sending a new nurse. She came on Friday evening. She asked personal questions that she had no business asking. She pushed the subject. Made comments about my having a son and not being married, saying I’m a single mom with a tone of disgust to her voice. She told me “You need to make better choices for yourself and your son young lady!”  WHO THE EFF does she think she is to speak to me that way?! To say this in front of my son?! Hell No!! My dad overheard this and said it’s time to leave. He was in shock!!  The agency will be fired in the morning!!

On a lighter note, I’ve been blessed with two amazing friends for the last few months. My friends Amanda and Maria, have become such amazing friends to me. They’re truly been there when I needed a swift kick, or when i’m just feeling down, or when I need girl time!! I’m so glad we met, and formed such a friendship.

Maria, Me and Amanda
Maria, Me and Amanda

 

My saline therapy has been helping, unfortunately having an allergic reaction to the bandages isn’t helping. My EP is going to consult with my Neuro to do a port. I’m scared, but this is my life. This is what I need to stay hydrated and have less palpitations! I’ll do it! I’ve been having presyncope more often, as well as horrible vertigo and getting car sick. I’m trying to find things to help combat them both. 🙂  I’ve also been diagnosed with arthritis. My scoliosis is also worsening. I’m pushing through to stay positive about life!

Love, isn’t that something we all want? Those that have it are truly blessed. Loving someone so completely and without judgment is a beautiful thing. You never know what tomorrow holds. You never know if you’ll hear their voice again, or see them again. Cherish them. Cherish every memory you make together, for that love is so precious, and so rare. Look back on the memories, not with sadness, but with joy, and love. Joy that you experienced that, love that you had for that person. Sorrow can also be present, but don’t let it overwhelm you. Don’t drown in the sorrow, and memories. Live, love and cherish your time together, for you never know when you could lose it.

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