About Me~, art, chronic illness, humor, inspirational, Poetry, Uncategorized, Writing

The Things We Carry ~

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We’ve all seen them.

There are all these quotes on FaceBook,

Pinterest,

Instagram,

and Twitter.

They seem so bold, inspiring, liberating……freeing.

Things like , “Leave the woman you were , in the past, because the future is bright. ”

And Lord knows, I’ve been guilty of sharing some of them.  They seem good.

But I was suddenly struck by a bolt from the blue , yesterday.

You see it was my 39th birthday .

15 years past the date when they said, I should not live.

And it dawned on me , as though the universe itself had spoken to me ,

in a moment so clear I could almost have sworn everyone around me had heard it.

Saying, “You do not have to leave the woman you were, in the past.

You do not have to leave the person you were as a child, as a teenager, or as a young adult.

We do not leave those people behind somewhere in the ether of the universe.

We carry them with us. Not as a weight, or a burden.  Not with hurt, or pain; but we carry them with us ,as knowledge.

Knowledge that lets us reach others. And wisdom to see that although there was hurt,

we grew tall and strong in spirit anyway.

We carry them as teachers, reminders that who we were then , is still valuable in the journeys we take today. We wear them as deeply as if they were  sewn on badges , celebrations  that we survived.

So I will not leave behind the child I was, the gangly teenager I grew into, or even the much -scarred woman I have become.

I will be all of those people , all at once; the child, the youngster, the woman.

And walk through this world with the quiet  knowledge

That in spite of it all,

I made it. 

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About Me~, chronic illness, humor, Uncategorized, Writing

“Anybody Know the Number for “911”?

“Why would you even say that?”

“I don’t find that funny. “

“You shouldn’t laugh about chronic illness.”

“If you do that , people won’t take our issues seriously.”

“You really offended me by making that comment. “

These are all things I have have said to me, by people WITH chronic illness and even people WITHOUT.  Apparently, if you suffer from a disease, you get your “humor card” taken from you , and it is now NOT okay for you to be a happy person, or find any kind of joy in life.

So , I’ll start this next paragraph by saying, lest you think I have no right to speak on this matter, that my diagnoses in order are, Systemic lupus , heart failure,  Sjogren’s, Raynaud’s, POTs, dysautonomia, and EDS. So trust me, I have been around the medical merry-go-round. I many times have  pain that would put most people on the floor, have had so many surgeries, that they don’t give me enough lines on the medical forms, and so many allergies that they no longer even put them on the ER bracelets. I just get a big red one, that says, “See List”.  I have been sick since I was about 7 ( I was so sickly that my Grandpa called me P. , short for PeeWee) , and VERY ILL since I was 14. I didn’t get diagnosed until I was 19, so I had five years of basically every doctor saying to my parents, “She’s just lazy. ” and “She’s just wanting attention. ” So you develop a thick skin, and I developed  a sense of humor from the craziness of it all.  Sort of like OR doctors, ER doctors, etc. That gallows  humor.  I CAN and DO find the funny in just about any situation.

I’ve learned over the years that there are two types of people, when they find this out about me. They either “totally” get it, and love that I make a joke of it, or they are so offended they can’t take it.

But my question to them has always been. “Well what SHOULD I do? Should I be this joyless, soulless person, who is angry about things I can’t change or control?  Should I rail against the Doctors, the nurses, the techs and even God?” If your answer is “Yes!”, then my reply would be, “And what would that help?”

Rather , isn’t it better to find joy where you can? To laugh over the quite frankly ridiculous things that become necessary when you’re stuck with a lifetime illness?  Isn’t it better to be positive?

I am sorry if you think it’s wrong somehow , that even though I have more issues than you can shake a stick at, that I am happy anyway.  I am sorry if you find it strange that I am able to laugh , not BECAUSE of how things are, but IN SPITE of them.  And to be quite frank, and  I am sorry that even though things are hard, that you have no way to smile.

But I am NOT sorry that I AM able to find joy. I will not  apologize for coping with the circus that is my life , with humor.  ( P.S. Below, find an attached article about the effects of gallows humor and how it helps us cope in stressful situations. ) https://meded.duke.edu/practice/wp-content/uploads/2014/07/Gallows-humor-in-medicine.pdf

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About Me~, chronic illness, humor, inspirational, Uncategorized, Writing

Are the Odds Even, or the Even Odds?

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Pain is a funny thing. No, not funny “haha”, but  funny “intriguing” .  Pain is our body’s unconscious reflex to avoid something injurious, or to an injury or illness.  In theory, (  scientifically-speaking) it can only be felt in organisms with higher brain function. (Although how they would just that I don’t really know, might not WANT to know. )

Most people bless them, and their good fortune, have only known physical pain  from the standpoint of accident, injury, normal illness etc. They remember these things, but it isn’t an everpresent thought, or ongoing mental conversation they have to have.

But what would you do if you just woke up one day, and the pain never went away? EVER.  Some one once asked me what having my condition was like. I told them, “It’s like your body’s pain function is an old FM radio, with knobs that can be turned up or down. Most people , their knobs function like they should, being able to be set a certain way , pretty much most of the time. But my radio, the knobs are not only non-functional, they’ve been knocked off completely. So I have no way of even adjusting any of it.  It is set permanently at full volume. ” Yeah, fun times.

So pain HAS made me the “odd one out”. When you are 19 and are such an odd medical “rarity” that the doctors bring their students around to “observe” you.  When you are 21 and spending more time in hospitals , than your peers do in clubs.  When you are 25, and the doctor asks, “Where did you go to medical school ? “, (in all seriousness) , because you have more medical knowledge than his interns.

But it’s made me the odd one out in other ways as well. When you are 19, and can empathize with any elderly person, because you have so many medications.  When you are 21 and are able to help another person get a diagnosis, and help them realize, “I’m NOT crazy . This wasn’t all in my head!” , and when you are 25 and are able to educate others about many , many aspects of life-long illness.

You adjust. But you do NOT “get used to it”.  Trust me. Mind-numbing, bone -deep, “Oh  God kill me now.”, pain is NOT something anyone EVER gets used to.

So don’t be fooled by the smile you see  someone wearing. You have no idea what it is costing them.

About Me~, humor, Uncategorized, Writing

When I Was Four~

*When I was four*

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Being four is not fair.Not fair at all.  I don’t belong in this dress.

Stupid lacy hat . Choking me with it’s girliness.
And a purse?
I can’t put my baseball and dead bugs in this.
I need my rolled-up Levi’s and Chucks.

Or better still bare-footed
I want so badly to pull away from this picture,
because it isn’t showing me.
I don’t want to look at it now, five years from now , or even ten years from now,
because all I see in this moment , and will see later, is a stranger standing there.
I see my best boy friends, John, Adam and Matt standing across the street.

My Three Amigos, or perhaps in this situation, the Three Stooges …….
They are  laughing at me, and doing their  best imitations of a ballerinas,
just to mock me.
They’ll see. 
This pink dress won’t keep me from blacking their eyes, and dealing out a bloody nose or two.
It’s not fair. I don’t belong in this dress.

About Me~, chronic illness, humor, inspirational, Uncategorized, Writing

Unsaid~

 

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I was  in the doctor’s office again this morning . ( Big shocker there, right? Heh. ) No, with lupus and it’s many lovely cab-riding co-morbid leech-y partners sometimes weekly visits are a given . Sometimes even MORE than one visit per week is something you just say , “Meh.”, to, at this stage.  I’ve been feeling puny as my Daddy says since last week. Without going into gory details, ( Oh, who am I kidding……..tossing the lunch monkey, making “the noise, that noise that shall not be named” as my teenage sons say in dramatic tones,  general all  -over pain,  congestion of the size that back-hoes are needed to haul away, and just basically wishing I could curl under my floofy grey ginormo cover and dis- a-frickin- pear) . I finally gave in today and went, where my nurse Cynthia gave me the “look” , meaning ,”And you didn’t call me last week ‘WHY , YOUNG LADY?!?”  Sigh. I know. ‘Cause I’m a moron. General knowledge at this point.  Anywho, that tidbit of miscellany aside, she got me all vital-ed and everything , and I saw the doctor , who’s a peach.   If you can say that about a jolly 260 pound linebacker sized gent who looks like he crushes coconuts in his spare time, but is really the kind of dude who takes his little girl to get her nails done Disney Princess style. I might say it, but maybe not , like to his face. 🙂

 

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So turns out , I don’t ( By the grace of God , have the actual flu or strep , which IS going around, GAG me with a thousand troll toenails. ) I DO however have a severe sinus infection and probably like bronchial junk which goes with. ANYWHOOOO. So this next part requires kind of a backstory so that you can understand the following without me seeming like a total and complete loon.

See , I’ve been sick, for a very , very long time. Since childhood. And in the early 80s there was not a whole lot of knowledge about auto immune disorders, especially in children.  I mean , there is still not a slew of things known about it now, even in adults and back then in children , you might as well  have been an alien. So I was in the hospital.  A LOT.  Pretty scary experiences for a small child, you have to admit. But I was actually pretty lucky. I got to go to the hospital I was born in . And see the doctor who delivered me, and the nurses who worked there? I went to school with their kids, who were all my age. And our hospital was always a little bit old fashioned, and I remember it had the cast iron beds. The neat what people consider  the “vintage” kind now.  Our town was so small that the mayor was the X-Ray tech.  The hospital cleaning lady , was my church’s secretary and roll taker. One of the nurses was the police chief’s wife. I’m named after the delivery nurse who helped my Mom in labor.  I said all that to say this, one of the nurses there was always particularly close to me. She just seemed to always know when I needed something. I always tried to be brave, because I know being sick freaked my parents out. They didn’t know what was wrong with me , in those early days, and didn’t really have a way to pinpoint it. They just knew I was frail and in a lot of pain.  But Cynthia, she just knew how to set it right. With me, AND with them.  And she had this great laugh, when you heard her in the hall, you just somehow knew, no matter what things would be okay.

The funny thing is, that’s her that  works in my local doctor’s office now. THAT Cynthia.  While I was sitting in exam today , waiting to get my injections for my infection, I heard that laugh, and started to tear up. I couldn’t help it. She comes in with the shots all ready to go, and looks at me. I told her, ” I need a hug.  When I heard you in the hall laughing, it brought back so many memories of cast iron beds, and scary days, being afraid, and not knowing what was going to happen , or even if I was going to make it. But I’d hear your laugh in the hall, and suddenly I’d just know , ‘Cynthia’s coming. It will be okay now. ‘ ”  And then I couldn’t speak. I was just hugging her and bawling my eyes out. You just don’t know how much stuff like that means to someone.

She told me , that she had needed that today. So I was glad I said it.  Oh how blessed I have been to have had my care team from PCH and Mercy Medical. My hometown. And if you have people like that in your life, tell them! Tell  them now. Don’t wait. You don’t find them everywhere, trust me. I have trusted these people with my lives , countless times, and they have earned my gratitude, my heart, and yes, I tell them without shame, before it is gone, the time has passed, and they aren’t here anymore. I tell them, ” You mattered to me!! I love you!”

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About Me~, chronic illness, humor, inspirational, Uncategorized, world affairs, Writing

Against the Flow ~

 

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Fair warning.   I like to give fair warning. If  a post might seem long, or  scatter-brained, or even if some of the topics or wording might seem offensive to some.  I had no idea until just a few years ago that even the very discussion of illness is considered offensive to some.  There are things called content warnings,  and trigger warnings.  I don’t really do that here.  It would be great if the world were all cotton-candy and lollipops but it’s not. Unfortunately, in the real world there is potential for your feelings to get hurt.  So I said all that to basically say this post might be long, and you can feel free to leave, I won’t be offended. So onward, and upward!  🙂

Anywho, This month , May, is Lupus Awareness Month.   For those of you who follow my blog, you know that I have lupus, and have had for about 20 years now.  I run a lupus support site on FaceBook  called Lupus Sucks ! Lupus Support and Humor . I’ve run it about 5 years now, and have about 9,100 followers.

https://www.facebook.com/lupussuredoessuck/?ref=aymt_homepage_panel

That’s not to toot my own horn , by any means . It’s really rather to toot the horns of the amazing people on my page.   My BUDDIES I call them.   They’re amazing. They rally around each other.   They grant  words of encouragement.  They lift us up when we’re in the  hospital  , offering ways to get by  when we’re  having wretched stays in those most horrid of “Hiltons”  🙂  We’re able to help each other find doctors, share tips on what works best for exercises on already hurting bodies,  and most of all , my favorite part , is find humor, yes, I said find humor in this crazy life that got chosen for us.  By God , or the Universe,  or Fate, or however you decide the great wheel of life chooses these things.  002c9f165a729c2482566b023003f4e3

I’ve often told people if I hadn’t been able to laugh I’d have died a long time ago.  I hope that I have been able to grant some small bit of that humor to someone else. It really is okay to laugh. I decided a long time ago , I was not going to let this crazy disease and all it comorbid compatriots to steal my joy.

Which got me to thinking about May being Lupus Awareness Month, and all the things that come with it. I’ve been trying to do research about Lupus Awareness Month. When it started, WHO started it? Why is it in the month of May?  Why is our symbol the butterfly? WHO made these decisions? Was there a committee formed? Who was on the committee? Did the people on the committee have lupus? Who decided that purple was a good idea for our color ? Seeing as how this is the list of disease that use purple or some variant of it for THEIR awareness

Lavender Awareness Ribbons
Lavender awareness ribbon
Periwinkle ribbon
Periwinkle awareness ribbon
Orchid
Orchid awareness ribbon
  • Testicular Cancer. There is debate about the color for testicular cancer awareness and ribbons, however orchid, a purple/violet color, has long been recognized as the official color for testicular cancer.
Violet ribbon
Violet awareness ribbon

Are we really using the MOST effective color in our push to get people to be aware of the disease we are affected with? I have been to many sites over the last couple of days , looking for ways to get flyers with info, or ideas for spreading awareness in even my very small town. They offered no ideas , or assistance. No free printable information.

So I guess, I’m confused. Confused and a bit angry.

To be perfectly honest, I’ve never been angry that I have lupus. I’ve always looked at it like I got dealt a lousy genetic stack of cards. I was never angry at God. I didn’t rail at Him , saying , “Why me? ”  But I find myself feeling angry at the lack of support from these for lack of a better word “mega-corporations”. These are the people who are supposed  to be backing us up. With ideas, with materials to make flyers, with community research . They are the people that are supposed to make things HAPPEN. 

 

On that note, did anyone ask YOU , did YOU want the butterfly for the lupus symbol?

If you could choose an animal , what would you choose , and why?

Did anyone ask YOU , if May was the best month for Lupus Awareness Month for you?

If you could choose a month, which one would you choose , and why?

Did anyone ask YOU  how you felt about purple as a representative color?

Would you have chosen a different color , and if so , which one?

Why are there NO (Non-Profit) materials geared towards the average “LUPIE” ?

What kinds of materials do you think would grab the attention of the  public?

(Meaning ~ Female , between the ages of 15 and 44~ in other words , we’re young and cool not some doddering bunch of people in nursing homes )

We’d appreciate cooler , more age appropriate , materials geared toward that audience.

How do you best think we could attract the attention of the general public that we are trying to educate?

 

All that being said, I know we all have our struggles. With mobility, with being out in the sunlight, with fatigue, with emotional and stress issues. I know some of us have physical limitations which prevent us from getting out and dealing with the public. I know there are those of us who can’t speak on the phone, as it causes anxiety. I am not expecting anything to be done THIS May , but wondered if we might pool our ideas, and resources; creatively ( ideas, publishing , marketing) charitable, ( those with access to businesses who might help us with flyers, stickers , pins or buttons,etc. ) or simply working up a way to have it mentioned on a local news station. Please feel free to let me know any ideas that you have. And remember, our lupies are women between the ages of 15 to 44, but of course , the more people who are aware is even better.

I want so much to make a difference in the next year.  And I BELIEVE that we CAN DO IT!!  So maybe, just maybe it’s time WE 

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About Me~, chronic illness, humor, Uncategorized, Writing

Soak up the Sun…..(or maybe not.)

It’s the weekend! WhootWhoot! I hope you are enjoying yours so far.  Mine shall be mostly under the radar , I think. A trip to the grocery store, maybe. That’s about as crazy as I get these days  🙂  We are coming to the end of our ” 26 Days ” Series . We have 5 letters left! It’s been a pleasure sharing all of my experiences with you, and I hope it has been some help for you. So far our list has been………

A: Acknowledge and Accept

B: Breathe.

C. Find  Comfort

D. Get a Doctor or team of them you can trust

E. Exercise ~ even if it’s just a scoonch ( Hey ! Scoonch is a word!)

F. Have Faith

G. Set a Goal , even if it seems small

H. Hugs! Everybody needs them!

I.  Sometimes we need, Isolation 

J. Rid yourself of Junk

K. Keep Kindness as a philosophy

L. Laugh long, laugh often!

M. Medications

N. No

O. Okay

P. Perfection ~ Not going to happen 

Q. Question everything!

R. Research. Research. Research

S. Sorry …..You don’t have to apologize for being sick!

T. Talk….. talk to those around you about what’s going on.

That brings us to “U”  .  “U” is a very unusual letter when you think about it. If someone asks you to come up with a word that starts with it, you probably have to think for a few minutes.  But in fighting  lupus , believe it or not , there is a word that starts with the letter U that they warn us of right off the bat. And that is Ultraviolet rays. Any rheumatologist worth their salt will tell you either at your first appointment, or very soon thereafter, “Try to avoid the sun. ” “If you DO go out, wear long sleeves.”  “Get a good UV blocker and apply it generously. ”

I generally explain it to people as , “I’m basically a vampire. ‘AAAARRRRGH!!! The hideous light of the DayStar!!!!’  ))makes shrieking noiseswhilemeltingintothefloor((( that type thing”  .  They usually get the gist of it , when I explain it that way. And it’s basically true.

The sun can cause your autoimmunity to kick off, making your body attack itself. So sunscreen is your friend.

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I really like this one , for everyday. It’s light, but still provides 21SPF.

https://www.covergirl.com/beauty-products/face-makeup/foundation-makeup/clean-matte-bb-cream?&utm_source=google&utm_medium=cpc&utm_term=%2Bcover%20%2Bgirl%20%2Bbb%20%2Bcream&utm_campaign=Covergirl_Search_Brand+Awareness.BMM&utm_content=sHAOlfH0s_dc%7C115881177878&gclid=CLbk7-nB9tECFQaewAodwTgLyg

You can also buy sunblocking clothing; long sleeve shirts, hats , light jackets , etc.

Solumbra offers tons of choices in these areas

http://www.sunprecautions.com/

However you go about it, just make sure you protect yourself. The sun can cause your rashes, incidence of skin lesions, and other not-so-fun things to increase. Not to mention the fatigue that it can bring.

There are, a few things along the way that I have noticed about this.

One benefit of it I have noticed is, my skin is in great shape. Loads of sunscreen wearing, no sun -worshiping , has kept me wrinkle -free.

But there is a serious downside. I am , and probably forever will be, deficient in Vitamin D. I have to take loads of it , to keep my numbers up. This is definitely something that your doctors should keep checked, as well.

So there you have some of the long and short of sun protection. Do your own looking into what works for your skin type. What you like as a style, and what keeps you healthy.

Oh, and if I haven’t said it today…..I love you!! with all my ❤ and 🙂 and as always ((HUGS)) ~ Ruby J.