About Me~, art, inspirational, Uncategorized, world affairs, Writing

How Bizarre~

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The beautiful is always bizarre.  ~ Baudelaire 19657041_1349803748431210_6828812241786549423_n

I’ve never BEEN normal.   It was a certainty in my bones , a knowing even. An intrinsic feeling , yet not a difference that I felt was a problem. I didn’t SEE it as being a difficulty. I knew I was not like other people. I don’t say that as a form of braggadocio or as a way to say I was better or somehow on another plane. I came into this world , a wild animal. For most of my early years I refused to wear clothes, driving my mother to insanity. I thought going about skyclad was the best thing in the world.  When she DID manage to keep me clothed, it had to be boy’s clothes of the most ragged variety imaginable. Jeans, cutup, cutoff, dirty, t-shirts the greasier the better. My Dad’s castoff welding hats and goggles. A pair of corduroy Levi knickerbockers. Cowboy boots with the soles worn completely through. A set of leather chaps that a friend of mine had outworn. I spent my days out of doors ;climbing every tree within 10 miles of my house. Skinnydipping in the Little Missouri river until I was sunburnt to the color of red ripe watermelons we gommed from Granny Jo’s garden in the evenings.  I don’t know how my mother kept from killing me in those years; I never shut up, when I WAS home, which was seldom, I despised school work; what was I going to need all THAT useless information for anyhow, I wanted to be any and everywhere besides chained to that drudgery . I brought home any and every creature I could find , that slithered , crawled or flew, and was sure that both my mother and sister would find homes for them, and be just as fascinated as I was. (  I was wrong on both counts many times. ) Come to think of it, I don’t know why my SISTER didn’t kill me in all those years. I’m sure she had just cause. She was all the things I wasn’t . She was clean. She was a whiz at school, quite dedicated to it actually. And she actually kept her clothes ON. She swore on many an occasion, that “For the love of GOD, Nette, you are adopted. I swear. You actually belong to some nudists somewhere!!”  Heh.

I guess , to me, life just all seemed so bright, amazing, full of things to see. It still seems that way. Everywhere I go now, I still wonder why people want to be “normal” . And the funny thing is they struggle so hard to do this thing they call “fitting in”. What IS that, anyway? I had an interesting conversation with my niece, just the other day.  I was asking her , about a certain person , “Why is he dressing that way?” ( Meaning goth, emo, shopping at HotTopic, you know the whole ‘look’) She said , “Well, he’s making a statement I guess. Trying to stand out. ” So I asked her, “But if EVERYONE is doing that now, dying their hair, getting tattoos, going “goth” , and shopping at HotTopic, are you really making a statement? It’s not. It’s the new ‘normal’, isn’t it. ”  She didn’t really know what to say to that.  See, I don’t have a single tattoo. I don’t dye my hair technicolor. I’m not some trendy gender. Been married to the same guy for almost 21 years. I don’t have a nose ring, or some other odd piercing.  I think people ought to be respectful to others , and pretty  much live and let live. Wow.  In this day and age, guess what? I’ve become the new bizarre. And to quote Baudelaire, “It’s beautiful. “

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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~, Uncategorized, Writing

Self-Soothing, Sweaters and Socks ~

Day Three ~ Comfort ~

Hello! So far in our series 26 Days, 26 Ways (to feel better with lupus) , we’ve learned to

A: Acknowledge and Accept, and

B: Breathe.

So in that same vein, today’s word is Comfort.

 

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Firstly, I feel like something HAS to be said, before we discuss today’s topic. We as chronic warriors seem to , as a whole, put ourselves last. We’re forever rushing around, trying to help every-one and every-thing.  In spite of our pain, or maybe BECAUSE of it we hate to see other people hurting, and will do everything in our power to make sure they’re okay. And of course it’s a wonderful idea to look after other people who are in our situation as well.  But the thing that HAS to be said is this, “When you have a chronic illness , sometimes you must put yourself first. ” I think we as lupie warriors are some of the kindest, most compassionate people there are, and sometimes we shoot ourselves in the foot that way. I’ve been diagnosed with lupus and its lovely cohorts for about 19 years now, and I still struggle with the fact that it’s okay to put my own name on top of the “Needs Help” list. That being said, here are a few things that I’ve found really make a difference in the Comfort department.

  1. Easy -on – the skin , clothing~ Such as leggings, and soft tunics.  Sweaters and socks. Now you might be saying to yourself that’s a splurge item, and you might be right. But to me, it’s definitely worth spending a bit more money to have clothes that don’t pinch, or squeeze you in the wrong places. They have tons of leggings to choose from at our local Wal-Mart, and you can’t beat them for the price. For tunics, or midi dresses to wear with your leggings, Amazon has so many to choose from you could have a different look every day!
  2. Sunglasses ~ prescription or over the counter ~ One of the jollies that lupus brings with it is, sensitivity to light. Light bulbs; incandescent and flouros both, along with of course , the sunlight , it can make you feel as though you even need shades indoors.  I like buying sunglasses at DollarGeneral, because very seldom do they ever cost more than $8.00 a pair. I have to wear prescription eyeglasses, so when I buy tinted lenses at DG, it’s good that they have pairs large enough to wear OVER my prescription glasses. I usually have anywhere between 3 and 4 pairs , at any given time. A pair in my purse, one for the car, and anywhere else I think I might need them. Doing this has sure cut down on the number of migraines, and eyestrain.
  3. Sunscreen~ Just as with our eyes, lupies have a “MEhhhh……..” relationship with the sun, concerning our skin.   The sun can cause our rashes to worsen, cause us to break out in hives, or even cause our disease to flare. Even “normies” need to find a brand that works for them, and apply it every day, no excuses! Skin cancer does NOT sound like fun , as one person dies of melanoma every hour.
  4. Medications ~ both prescription and over the counter~ There is nothing worse than having a flare , and NOT having your go-to medications on hand. When I am struggling with increased symptoms ;  nausea, vomiting, severe joint pain, body ache, and blood pressure difficulties seem to be the run-of-the-mill. I once had a rhuematologist tell me, “Never let your pain get so far past the level you can cope with. Because by the time it has gotten to that point, it will take extreme intervention to get it back to a manageable level. ” . And he was right. Everyday maintenance is SO much easier than damage control . Keep a tight record of your meds , so that a middle of the night pain cycle does not catch you unaware.

5. Mr. Sandman ~ And last but certainly not least ~  A quality mattress and pillows ~ Sleep is a HUGELY important piece of the wellness puzzle. The average HEALTHY person needs 8 to 10 hours of sleep per night, and we as chronic warriors will need more than that , as our bodies try to repair themselves. We will often sleep 11 to 12 hours a night, with a  couple -hour nap during the day.  Everyone’s wants and needs  in this area will be different. Maybe you need prefer firm, or super soft. They even have the SleepNumber mattresses now, so both parties can adjust the firmness to suit them.  This will of course be up to the individual person.  I myself,  always enjoy having lots of pillows for my side, as well. Fairly firm, I use two for my head, and I  can’t do without my body pillow to keep my old knobby knees from touching one another. (OUCH!)

These are just a few of the things that I practice , in order to make myself more comfortable , every day . If I listed everything I’d need a blog just for that! 🙂 And I’m sure there are things that you would add, that I don’t have mentioned here. The idea is, to make the list your own, with the things that YOU need to make your journey easier.

I hope today finds you doing the best you can, with what you have, where you are. With ❤ and 🙂 and as always ((HUGS)) ~ Ruby J.

About Me~, Uncategorized, world affairs, Writing

Thirty Eight and Counting

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Thirty-eight. That’s the age I’ve turned this year, and 13 years longer than the doctors gave me to make it without a heart transplant. They told me , “MS. Woods , if you don’t get one , by 30 you’ll surely be dead. And that’s WITH pumping your body full of ungodly amounts of medications that I can’t even pronounce, and that you might be glad that I don’t list the side effects of here. Needless to say, sometimes you might just wish to keel over from the heart related condition, rather than the medications.

Thirty -eight. Ever since I was little I’ve had a somewhat interesting relationship with numbers. Some might even say a compulsion. How many steps is it to the mailbox? 34. How many tiles are in a certain bathroom? 12 over and 10 across. It’s kind of a calming thing to me, I suppose. Numbers were just another thing that were brought into play with the births of my sons. They were born exactly 2 years, 2 days , 2 hours and 2 minutes  apart. And they ‘ve been inseparable ever since.

Thirty -eight though, even though I’m not really superstitious . I just thought it’d be fun to know some things about the number that is supposedly  affecting my life this  year.

  • 38 is an even number.
  • 38 is the sum of each row in a magic hexagon.
  • In Norse mythology, the number 38 was said to represent unnatural bravery.
  • There are 38 surviving plays written by William Shakespeare, how sad is that , really, this great genius of a man , and all we have left of his plays is thirty -eight.

Thirty -eight. That’s probably closer to the amount of medicine bottles I have, or even the amount of doctor’s visits I make. But you can’t look at it like that.

Thirty -eight. The amount of smiles I’ve  received from World War II vets who spent the hour in the waiting room telling me their stories. Or maybe I even got thirty -eight hugs from people I didn’t even know.

Okay, Okay, Sometimes I have to be honest. Some days, I get thirty -eight vials of blood drawn, and do good to make it to the parking lot again. Some days I have to line up one of those hospital visits that might end up lasting thirty eight days.

But truth be told, it really is like I said. It’s only numbers, and I don’t put my faith in them. As much fun as it is, to say, “What a neat coincidence that is! ” or “How fun it is to notice the comparisons between things!” , I KNOW the ONE who came before there was even such a thing AS time. And who will be here long AFTER time will be something no one will ever remember.

And really, what is 38 in comparison to that?

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About Me~, Poetry, Uncategorized, Writing

Discarded Treasures ~

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I approached quietly , and left

a small piece of my heart,

on the  park  bench.

As if somehow leaving it there,

meant I was waiting for the day , no , not even the day,

my life!

to start,

for some permission.

Would he see it?

Would he care?

Or would it simply be one more

discarded, tumbled, forgotten grubby lost unknown treasure. I watch with all the hopes , despairs, confusions, joys, consternation…………. Abruptly  , the man who lives in the apartment above me  grabs my arm , and with  sudden fervor

pulls me down from my window perch , where I watch so anxiously . Racing , with a strength I would not , no , could not have thought his own bird-like body could possess,  hurriedly we go, skipping first one step , and then two steps at a time ………..and then we are there.

The bench.

The boy.

And me, the  girl. I am standing , out of breath, trying to think of the words to explain .

The painted rock.

The old man.

I am only a child  here.

My words are jumbled.

There is  nothing  for me to  say, it is  just a grubby , lost unknown treasure, I mumble.

It is okay, the boy  says. The old man is his uncle. The boy  is NOT new here, the old man says,  he has  seen that you like books, and walks. And benches. And wanting  to learn about quiet things, like that which is  discarded, and hopes, and unknown treasures. And  in time, together , you   will  think of the right words to explain.

About Me~, Uncategorized, Writing

One for Our Column~

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Yesterday was such a lovely day . I woke early and the world woke  with me , with  all the hints  that everything good might happen. My body even tempted me with promises of less joint pain, and energy enough to take a small walk down our lane into the sun-tinged air. The wee red fox who calls our farm home greeted me shyly on my way back as if to say, “Happy to see you out today! ” The birds went about their daylight  business looking for their breakfasts and for one golden moment I had a dawn  that reminded me of what my life had been like so many years ago. I did laundry, straightened my kitchen, and walked barefoot through my tomato patch as I had  done so many times as a tomboyish 10 year old , and my Grandpa was one row over again urging me , “Make sure you get them tommytoes off the bottom vines  there, PeeWee!” . I wish I could have captured that moment in  a mason jar, as we used to do the fireflies , to open today , for sometime in the middle of the night ; the tordol, dexemethesone combo wore off, and the lupus pain came rushing back in , with all the fury of a caged beast  , seemingly  all the more angry for having been denied its one day. I want to say I’d never had that one moment , that one day, but if I did  I’d be lying. If we are all honest with ourselves, we would trade a hundred days , a thousand days , and we HAVE traded them, to get that ONE . That ONE magical day that brings back those gilt-lit days of joy, laughter, memories, barefoot -garden days, sun-warmed beach days, child-filled swing -in-the-park -days, those days where we shake our fists at lupus, at chemo, at whatever has stolen our glitter from our lives, and say , “YOU DIDN’T GET THIS ONE!! THIS ONE BELONGED TO ME!!”  , just so we can  put a chalk-mark in OUR column , no matter how small, and continue on.