Disclaimer: Nothing on this blog is intended as medical or legal advice.

What I write on this site is my own, and if it is someone else's, I take special care to attribute it to the original author. So, please don't use any of my material without proper attribution or permission. Thanks.

Wednesday, November 20, 2013

Beating Myself Up

I'm feeling overwhelmed because I'm falling farther and farther behind with this month's blogging challenge.

My mind isn't working very well. It's been especially bad leading up to and following the second round of Botox injections I had (November 18th). Honestly, I just don't feel very well, and the stress of should's and supposed to's are simply overwhelming me. Not to mention, a wicked cold front is set to come through in a couple days, which normally knocks me down pretty hard. So, I need to step back before I just shut down. I hope I'm not away for long... I'll write when I feel moved to.

I'm asking for patience, grace, and forgiveness... from both my readers and myself.

This post was written as part of the National Health Blog Posting Month (NHBPM). Other bloggers will share their posts on this FB page.

Monday, November 18, 2013

(In)dependence

As I was writing a post (Evolution: How Being a Patient Has Changed Me) for the National Health Blog Posting Month (NHBPM) the other day, I was reminded of a blog post that I started writing almost 2.5 years ago! So, here's something that I wrote the end of June 2011.

I previously wrote a blog post, Frustration: Loss of Independence & Lack of Compassion, that I'd like to expand upon.

As a person with chronic pain, I'm having to learn to live with limitations that I never had before my accident. The constant, debilitating pain has definitely challenged my autonomy and self-reliance.

Before my car accident, I was pretty independent and autonomous. I loved having my friends and family to back me up and/or help when I needed it, but I also loved being able to take care of myself.

Since my car accident, however, things have been much different. Suddenly, I had to try to learn to depend on others because I was unable to take care of myself. I've never been good at letting others take care of me... which was fine... until I actually had/needed to do it.

I don't like depending on others. But, I think I've gotten better at it... at least better than I was before the accident.

I often cannot make plans to do something. Believe me, I used to be queen of making plans! Making to-do lists used to be enjoyable. Now, it's necessary. If I don't write it down... I'll probably forget it.

I have to see how I'm feeling the day-of an event, which is difficult (physically and emotionally). Then, I have to think several steps ahead about the situation I'll be in... sitting, standing, walking, driving, sounds, lights, crowds, etc... it's overwhelming just thinking about, so it's sometimes easier to just stay home.

Even on short outings, I have to be prepared for a migraine attack, so I have to carry "resources" with me (such as: snack/food, drink, meds, remote for my neurostimulator). It may seem like I'm packing enough stuff for a weekend trip, but I need to have some things on hand... just in case. This is something that many people simply don't understand. I can't just run out the door... I have to be able to gather my things, first.

It sometimes takes me a week from when I need to go to the grocery store, to when I actually go (and that's because my husband goes with me... it'd probably be even longer, if I was on my own). I can drive my car... when I have enough energy and I don't have a migraine. I can go shopping... when I feel up to it. It's so frustrating!

I have become so dependent on my husband. He is supportive on every level... he's such a blessing! He knows how to call my bluff, when I say that I'm alright but I'm really tired/depleted and/or hurting. He helps support me, when I have trouble balancing and walking on my own. It has taken me a long time to get past the "I don't need your help walking," but now I'm mostly just grateful that he's there to be able to assist me. He drives me to doctor appointments, and short shopping trips (mostly for groceries). He takes care of me. ...I'm finally having at least small windows of opportunity that allow me to help a bit more than I used to. :-)

I'm thankful that my mind is still at least fighting to remain independent. I have cognitive difficulties, so it may take me a lot longer to process things... but, I enjoy seeing glimpses of ME, and those glimpses usually come via my thoughts.

UPDATE (November 2013):
Reading through what I wrote 2.5 years ago, allows me to see how much I've changed and grown... what things are the same, and what things are different. Many of the limitations I previously wrote about are still limitations that I deal with on a daily basis. However, I think I've reached a level of acceptance. I'm not exactly sure how to explain it, but I wanted to include a short note / update at the end of this post.

This post was written as part of the National Health Blog Posting Month (NHBPM). Other bloggers will share their posts on this FB page.

Three Truths & a Lie

Today's topic is: "Three Truths and a Lie: Tell us three things that are true about you, your condition, your Health Activism, or your life. Now tell us a lie. Do you think we will be able to tell the difference?"

I have a fear of needles.
I struggle with anxiety and panic attacks.
I'm getting my second round of Botox treatment for chronic migraines today.
I'm not at all anxious about today's Botox appointment.

Well, I think it's pretty obvious that the last one is the lie. :-/ I'm sorry I wasn't more creative with this post, but my mind is pretty well occupied... trying to relax and remind myself that I've done it before and I can do it again. Prayers welcome.

This post was written as part of the National Health Blog Posting Month (NHBPM). Other bloggers will share their posts on this FB page.

Thursday, November 14, 2013

When Everything Is Just Too Much

Patients For A Moment (PFAM) is a patient-centered blog carnival to build connections within the community of people who blog about illness, disease, and disability. Leslie, at Getting Closer to Myself, is hosting the next edition of the PFAM blog carnival. The topic is: "What do you do when you can't keep up? What do you do when you feel like everything is just too much?"

This topic is something that I think everyone deals with at some point in their life. Everything seems to happen all at one time, and it can feel like you're barely able to keep your head above water. 

So, what do you do?

For me, it depends.
It depends what all is happening at the time.
It depends on how long things have been piling up.
It just depends.

Sometimes, I just shut down.
Sometimes, I cry.
Sometimes I write in my journal and/or blog.
Sometimes, I talk it through with a loved one.
Sometimes, I ask for help.
Sometimes, I make a list of how to tackle one thing at a time.
Sometimes, I do a combination of things.

But, I always have hope.
Hope that I'll be okay.
Hope that there's more out there.
Hope that I'll see light again.
Hope that the God of Angel Armies is always by my side.

There are times, though, that I simply don't know how to hold on to hope myself.
Thankfully, I've been blessed with friends and family that are willing to hold onto hope for me, even when I don't know how to myself.
Hope is always there... Thanks be to God!
“‘The Lord is my portion,’ says my soul, ‘therefore I will hope in Him.’ The Lord is good to those who wait for Him, to the soul who seeks Him.” (Lamentations 3:24-25, NKJV)
Here's a post that I previously wrote about Holding Onto Hope... Hold on to hope and Just Keep Swimming...

This post was written as part of the National Health Blog Posting Month (NHBPM). Other bloggers will share their posts on this FB page.

Wednesday, November 13, 2013

Evolution: How Being a Patient Has Changed Me

Today's topic is "Evolution. Write about how being a patient or caregiver has changed you. How have your goals changed? Have your values changed?"

There are so many things that come to mind for this topic. I have changed a lot, since I started living with chronic debilitating pain 5-years ago. I've written quite a lot on the topic of change... here's one that jumps out in my mind:  Change: Life Since the Accident (Jan 6).

Slowing down
I've learned (and am still learning) to slow down. It hasn't been easy, as I was always on the go, before my accident. I planned nearly every hour of my day... man, was I a planner! But, that doesn't work for me now. I have to be mindful of my body's limitations in a way that I never did before. Otherwise, my body may just shut down and/or I later pay a very high price. So, I find my life is a much slower pace than most others, but that's what I need.

Living in the present
I'm learning more and more to simply live in the present moment. It's harder for me to do at some times than others, but I'm much better at doing it than I used to... I still have a way to go, though. When I'm having good moments, I do my best to cherish and enjoy them, regardless of how long they last. When I'm having very painful moments, I do my best to tend to my body and turn my focus on God - thanking Him for what I have, asking for His peace through the storm, praying for others who are experiencing any pain, etc.

Depending on others
I grew up to be an independent woman, and I've always taken pride in that. So, being thrust into a position of truly needing to depend on others was a huge (undesired) lesson in humility, among other things. I still have difficulty with asking for help, but I'm slowly becoming more comfortable with asking for and accepting assistance from others. I think it's an important lesson for everyone - not to depend on others for everything, but to be able to ask for and accept help when needed.
* There's a blog post that I started almost 2.5 years ago regarding independence / dependence... I think I'll work on finishing and posting that in the next few days. 

Gratitude
I find myself filled with gratitude in a different way than I was before. My list of things I'm grateful for includes even the simplest of things that I used to just take for granted. And, as humbling as that can sometimes be, it keeps me focused on the things, big and small, that God has blessed me with.

I have changed
I've become more focused on my priorities, stronger in my faith, more outspoken in health matters (especially concerning justice for those with disabilities), more understanding of others, and more forgiving of myself and others.

Goals have changed
My goals have changed. Sometimes I feel like a failure because I don't have my 5- or 10- (and so on) year plan on the tip of my tongue. My goals aren't SMART (specific, measurable, attainable, relevant, time-bound), like I was trained to believe is necessary. Perhaps it is necessary, but I don't feel a specific drive or calling of something to do in my life right now. And, while that sometimes makes me extremely anxious and like something must be wrong with me, I'm doing my best to trust that God has a plan for me.

Overall, even though I don't have SMART goals, I do feel more focused on a clear life purpose: to faithfully follow God, allowing Him to work in and through me wherever I am and however He desires. Now, that's not to say that I don't struggle along the way. I don't have any clue what I'm supposed to be doing with my life, but I'm doing my best to root myself in the One who does know.

This post was written as part of the National Health Blog Posting Month (NHBPM). Other bloggers will share their posts on this FB page.

Top Three Tuesday: Michael Pollack

Today's topic is: "Top Three Tuesdays. Name three songs that you can listen to that get you out of a low point or lift your spirits."

I've really been enjoying the few songs I've heard by Michael Pollack - Chances Are, Get Well, and More Than Ever. I have his songs downloaded from iTunes, and I'm having a hard time finding any good videos on YouTube. But, I'm going to link what I could find.

*The best way to hear these three songs are to go to his website, where he has them available to play for free or purchase downloads from iTunes.* Enjoy!

Chances Are
Michael Pollack received a lot of attention after a video of an impromptu performance with Billy Joel. You can take a look / listen to that and Pollack's song, Chances Are, HERE. You can also search YouTube for "Michael Pollack Chances Are," though it's not allowing me to post it here in the blog. Some of the lyrics to this song are:
"You may be alive, but are you living? I promise you the two are not the same. Never hesitate to take what's given, 'cause chance are this chance won't come again."
Get Well
"What you got left? Where can you go? Can you open up the dreams you had long ago? When did you break? When did you fall? Did you forget how to walk? Did you forget how to crawl? Did you run out of breath? Are you tired as hell? I can't help you come back I can't help you get well... You're gonna find your peace."
More Than Ever
"I need you now, more than ever."
Both Michael Pollack's voice and piano skills are simply amazing! I hope you enjoy as much as I do! Here's his website link, again: http://www.michaelpollackmusic.com/music.php.

This post was written as part of the National Health Blog Posting Month (NHBPM). Other bloggers will share their posts on this FB page.

Sunday, November 10, 2013

Compassion in Greece, continued

I previously wrote about an experience I had in Greece (back in 2005): Compassion in Greece.

While on a class trip to Athens, Greece, I ended up with a monster migraine. One of the professors there responded with such kindness and compassion. He helped me, and then supported my decision to not miss the day at the Acropolis (despite my having sunglasses on, a jacket over my head, and needing assistance walking). He didn't question or belittle me. He simply offered my understanding, compassion, and kindness. And, that's what I hope I can offer to others.

It's so interesting to me, looking back from where I am today. I've dealt with frequent headaches for as long as I can remember. I had infrequent migraines, then, too (though, most of those were walks in the park compared to the migraines I've had since the accident). So much has changed, yet the love and provision of my God has stayed the same. He is always there.

This post was written as part of the National Health Blog Posting Month (NHBPM). Other bloggers will share their posts on this FB page.

Compassion in Greece

Yesterday, I posted about past anniversaries of my car accident:
October 10, 2013 marked the fifth anniversary of my car accident, here's what I wrote...

I had some anxiety leading up to today because I've had some difficulty on this day in the past. But, God blessed me with bringing a memory to my mind, reminding me that He always provides for my needs. Thanks to a Facebook post from my Alma Mater asking what our fondest memory of a certain professor is, I was able to re-live a moment that was painful, but comforting... and writing this blog post has allowed me to re-live beyond that moment.

Just a little back-story... I spent a semester studying abroad at my Alma Mater's campus near Rome. During the semester, the entire class and the Rome semester professors spend 10 days travelling together to a few different cities in Greece. Our Western Civilization professor offered amazing lectures at many of the sites along the way. It was truly a once-in-a-lifetime experience, and I'm so grateful that I was able to participate!

The setting is Athens, Greece.

It was Carnival in the Eastern Orthodox Church (different date than the Western Christian calendar - think Mardi Gras), so the city was a big celebration. I decided to join the celebration in the evening with a group of friends - we were going to spend some time enjoying the festivities and try to find somewhere open to get something to eat.

After wandering around the city for a while, a migraine hit... HARD.

All I could think of was how am I going to get out of this crowd of people and back to the hotel?! I mentioned that I needed to leave immediately to my friends, and thankfully one of the guys said that he'd walk me back to the hotel and make sure I was okay. I told him I needed to get something to eat and something with caffeine to drink - we were able to find a Coke quickly, and then we stopped at the McDonald's just around the corner from the hotel for some chicken nuggets.

Unfortunately, I think I'd forgotten my migraine medication back at the Rome campus. See, these were before the days of chronic migraines... before the days of carrying my meds everywhere I go. I had frequent headaches, but was able to function through most of them. But, my more severe migraines weren't all that often. So, getting something to eat, caffeine to drink, and getting back to a dark / quiet hotel room was my plan of attack.

The girls I happened to be roomed with for those few days were understanding and helped however they could. But, the migraine continued.

If my memory serves me well... I spent the next day in the hotel room, doing my best to sleep off the pain. Honestly, I'm not exactly sure what all happened, but I'm pretty sure I missed out on some things. A large group of us went to church service that evening for Ash Wednesday (in the Eastern Orthodox Church). I struggled making it through the service, and talked with a professor's wife afterward to see if she happened to have any medicine that might help. Again, these were before the days that over-the-counter meds were the equivalent to tic-tacs for me. She didn't have anything, but apparently one of the professors (or his fiance) dealt with migraines and had some meds and knowledge of migraine. 

I talked with this professor, and he helped get me some meds and made sure I was going to be okay. He told me that I'd be excused from the following day's class trip to the Acropolis. I told him that there was NO way that I was going to miss that trip! How could I miss a once-in-a-lifetime opportunity like that?!?! He assured me that he'd help any way he could, if I decided to go the following day.

He checked on me the next morning at breakfast. I was still in quite a lot of pain, but was beyond determined to go with the group. So, he gave me a few suggestions on how to make it through the day outside in the blinding sun. I had sunglasses, a borrowed hat, a jacket or blanket draped over my head... luckily, we'd walk a bit and then stop and sit for lectures at various locations. He checked on me off and on throughout the day. I listened to him lecture. Someone helped make sure I was alright walking places. And, I peeked my head out to see the sites as much as I possibly could.

The Acropolis is one of the MOST interesting and beautiful sites I've ever seen! I would have deeply regretted missing the opportunity to visit it, so I'm glad that I was able to push through the pain and participate as much as I could. To this day, Greece (especially the Acropolis in Athens) is one of my favorite places in the world!

*I'm going to post a follow-up post to this later today, to share a few more reflections... so, please stay tuned.

This post was written as part of the National Health Blog Posting Month (NHBPM). Other bloggers will share their posts on this FB page.

Saturday, November 9, 2013

4-Year Anniversary of Car Accident

Anniversaries of my car accident have affected me in very different ways, over the last 5 years. Last year (2012) was a very difficult one...
October 10, 2012 marked the fourth anniversary of my car accident. It actually snuck up on me. I freaked out the moment I looked down on the computer and saw the date, everything just hit me all at once... and hard!

It was all I could do to reach out - I texted with a dear, dear friend that really helped me through that time... and many moments since then. I believe that the way she comforted me was amazing, and is worth sharing.

When someone is hurting (mentally, physically, emotionally), I think there are some important ways or things that someone can do to show they care. Not every person will necessarily be able to offer all of these, but hopefully the hurting individual gets them from one or several people.

Validation
She validated the pain and panic that I was experiencing: "What a horrific thing to suddenly remember and have on your mind. Seems normal given situation... Understandably upsetting. It sucks."

Offer help / support
She offered help: "What can I do for you? Trying to avoid saying trite things..."

Safety
She reminded me that I'm safe: "...want you to remember that you are safe."

Present moment
She brought my focus back to the present: "Look around you. See where you are. Hug Honey Bee. Listen to the noises of the house. You are safe."

Reminder
She shared a very important reminder that I've used over and over again: "Darling, remember PAIN TAKES AWAY OUR PERSPECTIVE. And you are really suffering right now and having memories. Try to stay in the moment, just for right now."

This post was written as part of the National Health Blog Posting Month (NHBPM). Other bloggers will share their posts on this FB page.

Friday, November 8, 2013

A Small Dose of Inspiration

I love quotes! I believe that words are filled with power, and inspiring words are simply priceless. Today's post is about sharing three favorite quotes. I'm not sure that these are my favorites, but they speak to where I'm currently at in my journey.
"I cannot do everything, but I can do something. And I will not let what I cannot do interfere with what I can do."  ~Edward Hale 
"Don't be afraid of your flaws; acknowledge them and let God use you anyway. Quit worrying about what you're not and give God what you are."  ~Joyce Meyer 
"Never doubt in the dark what God has shown you in the light."  ~Victor Raymond Edman
This post was written as part of the National Health Blog Posting Month (NHBPM). Other bloggers will share their posts on this FB page.

Thursday, November 7, 2013

Mary Poppins Bag

Today's topic is "Mary Poppins Carpet Bag. Write about what's in your bag / purse every day - and why!"

I have quite a few things in my purse... so much that my husband has actually referred to it as my Mary Poppins bag, or as my "bag of tricks." LOL.

I struggle with severe anxiety, if I'm not prepared. While some things are just nice to know that I have, other items have lead to panic attacks if I don't have them with me for some reason... even for short trips out. So, what are some of the things in my "bag of tricks"?
  • Wallet - My wallet has all of my health insurance cards, as well as my ID, credit cards, and cash.
  • Medications - I always carry my prescription migraine, anxiety, and nausea meds. I also carry a small container that has various non-prescription meds (namely, for allergies and gastrointestinal issues).
  • Sunglasses - I always have my sunglasses because I use them so frequently. Without them, I don't know how I'd be able to even stand to keep my eyes open sometimes.
  • List of medications - I keep a printed spreadsheet that contains my insurance information, contact information for my doctors, my medical history, family medical history, current medications, list of allergies (including medications), and a list of past medications I've tried (including dates, dosages, and side effects). This has proven helpful in the past, especially for visits to the emergency room... when you feel bad enough to go to the ER, the last thing you want to (or can) do is recall and communicate all of the information they continually request - it makes things easier for me, my husband (or whoever has to take me to the ER), and the staff.
  • Cell phone - Of course, I always have my cell phone with me. It keeps me connected, and my health calendar is on my phone - easy access, all the time.
  • Snacks - I always have some sort of snack in my purse. This has come in handy on many occasions. I don't know if I have a problem with my blood sugar level or what, but I can get very irritable and weak if I don't eat every couple of hours. I try not to let myself go too long without eating. I almost always have water with me, too - it helps me from getting dehydrated, and it helps with the dry mouth that I get from some of my medications.
This post was written as part of the National Health Blog Posting Month (NHBPM). Other bloggers will share their posts on this FB page.

Wednesday, November 6, 2013

Update on First Round of Botox

I want to share how my first round of Botox went. Let me start by linking to the process I in deciding to try Botox as a treatment for my chronic migraines:
I also wrote a post right after having the injections (in August 2013):  First Round of Botox.

So, back to how things have been the past (just under) 3 months. I feel pretty confident in saying that I didn't get any relief from Botox. Things are a little complicated because I was off one of my preventive supplements for a couple weeks, right when Botox would've been starting to help. I ran out of the supplement (due to a problem with automatic refills) and was off of it for a couple weeks. Just before I ran out, I talked to my doctor, and we decided to just discontinue because it didn't seem to be helping (after a few months). I think the increase in pain was because of stopping the supplement - not necessarily that the supplement was helping, but just the process of getting off of it. 

I've been back on the supplement for about six weeks, I believe. My pain levels have been better the last couple weeks. But, is it due to being back on the supplement? Botox wearing off? Or any number of other factors? It's so frustrating to not know, since there are so many factors at play all the time.

Will I have a second round? I'm not sure. Honestly, I have very mixed feelings about it. I don't think it helped at all (and may have actually worsened the pain for a while), but that's not to say that another round wouldn't. I don't have such negativity about it that I feel that it won't help at all, but I'm also not super hopeful that another round will provide relief. My doctor doesn't really think it'll help, but he's willing to try another round.

With that said, I'm in the interim right now. My doctor said that insurance may not cover another round because the first round didn't provide relief. I've had my doctor's office submit a request for another round to be approved by my insurance, so I'm waiting to hear back (I would need to do the second round in the next week or two).

I don't know that I really want to do another round, though.

I was blessed that our insurance covered my first round of Botox 100%. So, I think I may go ahead and do a second round if insurance will cover it. But, I'm not going to pay out-of-pocket for a second round. I've found myself hoping that God will put obstacles in place, if I'm not meant to... not that that indicates that I'll get relief if He doesn't put up obstacles, but yea.

For better or worse, that's my first round of Botox experience. I'll let y'all know, if I end up trying another round in the future.

*Update:  I just heard back from my doctor's office. My insurance has approved another round of Botox. Since my insurance hasn't changed since last time, we're assuming it'll be covered 100%. So, I'm going to pray on it, and talk to Jeremy about it today. I have November 18 temporarily scheduled, but I told them I'd let them know whether or not I'm going to go through with a second round. So, please keep me in your prayers - I need guidance and discernment for what I'm supposed to do.

This post was written as part of the National Health Blog Posting Month (NHBPM). Other bloggers will share their posts on this FB page.

Training Wheels

*Note: I meant to post this November 4th, so please consider this that day's post.

Today's topic is "Training Wheels. Write about a time your health condition forced you to grow up and take the training wheels off (so to speak)."

I've lived with chronic pain since (at least) my teens. It wasn't always debilitating (thankfully), like it often is now. Living with chronic illness can definitely force you to grow up more quickly.

Most people in their teens and twenties don't visit their doctor(s) frequently - usually just for physical exams, vaccines, and if they get sick with something along the lines of a cold / flu. Many don't give their health a second thought because it rarely even appears on their radar. They're free to live life without thinking about the health-related consequences of doing even the simplest of tasks. Life is lived without the concern of whether or not their health with hold up that day, week, month, year, etc... good health is considered a given, somehow.

I started seeing specialists in my teens to try to diagnose and treat my symptoms (that, except for an injury which had a clear diagnosis and treatment, were all invisible illnesses without clear diagnoses or treatments). Around the same time, I also started tracking my symptoms in a health calendar, which I've kept ever since (though it has transformed over the years). Not as much when I was in my teens, but I've increasingly had to consider whether participating in something would increase the pain. Since my migraines became chronic, I'm faced with actively weighing out how doing even simple tasks will affect my health. My health is not only on my radar, but it's plays a prominent role in my life and the decisions I make daily.

After living with some sort of chronic pain for so much of my life, it's hard to pinpoint a single situation that my "training wheels" were taken off. Chronic illness forces you to acknowledge your limitations and accept your life as it currently is.
Perhaps one situation that required my "training wheels" to be removed was my decision to move to Tulsa to start graduate school, less than a year after my car accident. I went from living with my parents to living on my own, several hundred miles away. I had to figure things out on my own, in ways that I hadn't before. I'd lived on my own before, but never with the level of chronic illness I've experienced following my accident. It was frustrating because I knew what needed done, but I physically and/or emotionally couldn't do it all myself. Learning to ask for and accept help was (and continually has been) an important lesson living with chronic illness has taught / is teaching me.

This post was written as part of the National Health Blog Posting Month (NHBPM). Other bloggers will share their posts on this FB page.

Sunday, November 3, 2013

Our LayLee

I'm not really feeling today's topic / prompt, as I suspect may be the case as this blogging month progresses. But, that's okay because I'm really just wanting to get back into blogging / writing, so no requirement to follow the prompts. :-)

So, I'd like to take a moment to introduce the newest addition to our family, Miss LayLee!
© 2013 Jamie V.
I've previously written about the first dog we got, Our Honey Bee. Honey and LayLee were actually fostered together off and on for quite a while. In fact, we met (and fell in love with) them both at the same time. Unfortunately, we were living in an apartment at the time, so were restricted from having a pit (LayLee). We adopted Honey in July 2012, and were able to adopt LayLee in August 2013.

© 2013 Jamie V.
We now have two dogs, and it's been quite a change. Despite the challenges, it's been so awesome to see the dogs learn and grow. LayLee and Honey are best friends, and now sisters. Jeremy and I are enjoying the bonds we're building with the pups. And, we're now a happy family of four.

Saturday, November 2, 2013

The Little Engine That Could

Today's topic is the little engine. I wrote a blog post, The Little Engine That Could, a couple years ago.

I think I can I can begin (and maintain) an exercise routing, starting with walking more.
I think I can feel less guilty when I choose to take care of myself, even if that means saying "no" or canceling plans with others.
I think I can read and write more frequently.
I think I can help end the stigma of Migraine disease and Invisible Illness.

I know I can be a loving a supportive wife (and mom to my dogs).
I know I can be there for loved ones (even if not always in the ways I'd prefer to).
I know I can continue making small changes to improve my quality of life, and keep putting one foot in front of the other.
I know I can live a full and meaningful life, despite having chronic pain.

This post was written as part of the National Health Blog Posting Month (NHBPM). Other bloggers will share their posts on this FB page.

Friday, November 1, 2013

National Health Blog Post Month & My Pain Diary

I've been out of the blogging world for a while, but I was just reminded that November is National Health Blog Post Month. So, I'm going to see about getting back into the swing of things!

Today's topic is favorite health apps. I actually wrote about this last year:  My Favorite Health App.

My favorite health app is, by far, is still My Pain Diary. You can check out the app website and Facebook page. I've been using the app for 1.5 years now, and it has been incredibly useful in keeping track of how I'm doing on a day-to-day basis, as well as allowing me to see patterns that I otherwise might never have noticed. It's truly been one of the most useful tools in my toolbox.

This post was written as part of the National Health Blog Posting Month (NHBPM). Other bloggers will share their posts on this FB page.

Wednesday, September 18, 2013

30 Things About My Invisible Illness You May Not Know

Last week was Invisible Illness Awareness Week. I participated in a few of the chats, since that was easily done from the sofa, where I spent the majority of my week... but, I mostly missed being more actively involved. The need for awareness marches on, though, so on we go. This year, the campaign was focused on "I choose to __."

I choose to...
...not let my illness define me.
...find joy in the little things.
...try again tomorrow.

For the last three years, I've written about 30 Things About My Invisible Illness You May Not Know (201020112012). Some of my answers are the same or similar. But, I think it can be good to review how you've answered these questions in the past, so you can see where you were and how far you've come.

1. The illness(es) I live with is: Chronic post-traumatic headache/migraine (intractable, with and without aura), anxietydepressioninsomniairritable bowel syndrome
2. I was diagnosed with it in the year: Chronic migraines - 2008 (after a car accident). The others were diagnosed around 2002.
3. But I had symptoms since: dealt with headaches (and some migraines), anxiety, depression, insomnia, and irritable bowel syndrome since (at least) my teenage years.
4. The biggest adjustment I've had to make is: not always being able to take care of myself / depending on other people so much.
5. Most people assume: that nothing is wrong with me and/or that I can't hurt as much or often as I do.
6. The hardest part about mornings are: getting up without feeling rested, and  not knowing how much pain the day will bring.
7. My favorite medical TV show is: House, Lie to Me, CSI
8. A gadget I couldn’t live without is: my cell phone
9. The hardest part about nights are: getting to (and staying) sleep, especially when the pain is bad.
10. Each day I take __ pills & vitamins: I'm not really sure, but actually fewer than I've taken in quite a while.
11. Regarding alternative treatments I have tried: massage, physical therapy, chiropractic, biofeedback, relaxation
12. If I had to choose between an invisible illness or visible I would choose: I'm not sure. At least with an invisible illness, I don't always have people looking at me strangely or asking me what's wrong/what happened.
13. Regarding working and career: I have been unable to work since the accident in 2008. I tried to return to graduate school for a year, but ended up taking a leave of absence and then made the difficult decision not to return. Since then, working and/or school hasn't even been an option.
14. People would be surprised to know: I am in pain (often severe) every single day... all day, every day.
15. The hardest thing to accept about my new reality has been: that I have changed, and things will never be the same. I have limitations that I have to live within, or pay the (often very high) price.
16. Something I never thought I could do with my illness that I did was: plan the wedding of my dreams, with the man of my dreams.
17. The commercials about my illness: are very misleading as to what migraine really is and how debilitating it can be. The one about chronic migraine, where the lady is laying on the couch and everything is happening around / without her, is a bit more realistic.
18. Something I really miss doing since I was diagnosed is: This could be a very long list... I miss being able to actively participate in life.
19. It was really hard to have to give up: who I was before the accident... I still haven't completely let go of that yet.
20. A new hobby I have taken up since my diagnosis is: blogging
21. If I could have one day of feeling normal again I would: have no idea what to do with myself (assuming "normal" is feeling "good," not what my "normal" has become)! I don't even know what life without pain is anymore.
22. My illness has taught me: to recognize the strength that I DO have. It is teaching me to TRUST God more... but it is definitely a long and difficult process.
23. Want to know a secret? One thing people say that gets under my skin is: Migraines are just bad headaches; take some pills and keep going / move on, it can't be that bad.
24. But I love it when people: Show that they care. Even just little things like: being aware of how bright a room is, asking if the TV/radio is too loud, rubbing my neck/shoulders/head, treating me like a person rather than the disease/illness, being considerate at a restaurant by allowing me to sit facing away from windows (so the glare shining off of cars doesn't worsen my pain)
25. My favorite motto, scripture, quote that gets me through tough times is:
  • "Be still, and know that I am God" (Psalm 46:10)
  • "Consider it pure joy, my brothers, whenever you face trials of many kinds, because you know that the testing of your faith develops perseverance. Perseverance must finish its work so that you may be mature and complete, not lacking anything" (James 1:2-4)
  • "You will seek me and find me when you seek me with your whole heart" (Jeremiah 29:13)
  • "Trust in the Lord with all your heart and lean not on your own understanding; in all your ways acknowledge him, and he will make your paths straight" (Proverbs 3:5-6)
26. When someone is diagnosed I'd like to tell them: keep yourself informed - research things online, ask your doctor questions, do your best to understand and articulate your experience with your disease/illness. Don't feel like you're alone - join blogging, church, or other support group(s) to help you through the difficult times that you will go through. Be ready for a roller coaster ride of ups and downs.
27. Something that has surprised me about living with an illness is: how strong, yet vulnerable, I can be. Everything I do has to be a conscious decision to use my energy for that specific thing (even seemingly basic things, like taking a shower).
28. The nicest thing someone did for me when I wasn't feeling well was: take care of me... When I have a bad migraine, my husband does everything he can to take care of me (feeds me, makes sure I take my medicine, massage my head/neck/shoulders/back/feet [if I can handle being touched], make sure I'm in a dark room and am as comfortable as I can be, and anything else that I need).
29. I’m involved with Invisible Illness Week because: I feel that we need to speak out and get more awareness, research, and understanding out into the public view about invisible illnesses - they are real and often difficult to bear.
30. The fact that you read this list makes me feel: heard/validated, and hopefully a bit better understood. It gives me hope that invisible illnesses can be better understood, if only people will listen.

Tuesday, September 17, 2013

Do You Love Me?

I have to be honest. It's been a long time since I've felt... I mean, really felt the spirit move in and through me. But, at this moment, despite the throbbing pain of a migraine that's ramping up and knowing that I'm going to be sidelined for the majority of the day, I feel alive! I feel the spirit churning in me, and pushing to come out. So, I turned on the computer to let the words flow through my fingers.

I have been feeling guilty and have been very hard on myself for a really long time. You see, I haven't been to church in longer than I care to admit - besides a couple visits here and there, it's probably been a few years now. It breaks my heart, as church and my family / church family (my family and I are members of the same church) has always been a constant rock in my life. But, I have a lot of difficulty with many aspects of the church-going experience, so here I am.

I miss it. I miss being surrounded by others that love Christ. I miss the Scripture, the songs, the sermons, the community. I miss feeling His presence.

My church has been streaming podcasts of the weekly sermons for a while now. I started listening to them, when they first started, but I haven't stayed disciplined in listening to them. For whatever reason, I decided to pull one up this morning and listen to it. Where should I start? At the beginning? The most recent? So, I just kinda randomly chose one... it ended up being the sermon from May 5, 2013. Wow!

The sermon speaks to how Jesus Christ came to simplify our lives and our faith. We are called as God's people to live and love simply.

I've been thinking a lot about this idea of living simply, as I definitely do not. I over-complicate and over-analyze my life so much!

We over-complicate life, and Christ came to simplify it. We over-complicate our relationship with God, and Christ wants it more simple. We over-complicate forgiving other people (perhaps most of all, ourselves), loving other people... and it's all really simple. Christ came so that all are forgiven and loved. All we have to do is accept it and offer it to others. Simple. But, simple is not easy. A simple life of faith is not easy.

It's easier to only love and forgive certain people (for example, people that think or believe what we believe), but it's simpler to love and forgive everyone. And, we're called, as God's people, to love and forgive everyone - just as God loves and forgives us, unconditionally. It's not easy to love everyone unconditionally, but it's simpler.

Take, for example, Simon Peter. Simon Peter publicly and blatantly denies knowing Jesus three times (John 18:15-27). In a stark difference from the rules and regulations of the day to cleanse and repent for denying God, Jesus responds by asking a simple question... "Do you love me?" (John 21:15-17).

In order to be made holy and righteous, and be reconnected and back in relation with God, all He asks is, "Do you love me?" The only other thing we're asked to do is to simply go love and forgive others the way we've been loved and forgiven by God.

No matter how much we've messed up, how far we've strayed, what we've done... if we want to be forgiven by God and be in a relationship with God, all we have to do is answer this question:
Do you love Me, and will you go and love other people the way I've loved you?  ~God
Wow! What a huge release of so much guilt, disappointment, and hate that I've held toward myself. There's nothing difficult that I have to do to try to make things right between God and me. I love God, and I do my best to share His love and forgiveness with others. I feel like not being able to make it to church has somehow stifled my relationship with Him, but maybe He's growing me in different ways right now. I do hope to be able to rejoin my church community in weekly worship and service, but I'm trying to find peace in doing what I can right now... growing my relationship with God from where I am, knowing that the Lord of All has the reigns in my life.

All we have to do is accept God's unconditional love and forgiveness in our lives, and then go offer it to other people. That's it. So simple! 

A Life-Affirming Visit

You know those amazing, life-affirming visits with someone (be it a friend or a stranger), where you leave feeling that your soul has been refreshed / renewed?

I had one of those Sunday night. I had a chance to visit with a long-time friend of the family, who I only get to see every four or five years. She happened to be in town for a few days, and I (thankfully) was feeling well enough to visit a bit with her and some of my family.

She and I chatted with one another for a little while, and I feel that we connected in a special way. She shared with me how she saw me before the chronic migraines (very active and busy, an intellectual, etc), and then recognized and allowed me to talk about the difficulties that have come with learning to live life with so much pain and so many limitations. She said she knows I've always been determined and strong, and that she knows I'll do my best to be and live as well as possible.

She shared bits of wisdom that she's learned over a lifetime of experiences... bits of wisdom that seem so simple and basic, but are truly life-changing:
  • Listen carefully to your body.
  • Do what feels right to and for you (call it your gut, instinct, or just a feeling).
  • Be okay / comfortable with the decisions you make.
  • What others say to / about you is about them, not you.
  • Don't spend precious time and energy on wasteful things. 
  • such as, thinking or worrying about... what others say to/about you, expectations of self and others (what you should be doing), what may or may not happen, and other things that are out of our control.
  • There is meaning and purpose in life, even when it doesn't feel like there is.
  • The faith that we gain during times of struggle are priceless.

I'm sure there are other things that'll keep coming to mind, as the words shared between us play in my mind further. There were aspects of this journey that I haven't talked about in quite a long time (like identifying myself with my intellect, and the loss of that when I struggled with and then decided not to continue graduate school). It was interesting for me to see what I've dealt and come to terms with, and what is still a little raw to talk about. I know that this is all a journey, and it was nice to share parts of my journey with this friend.

I feel validated and better understood. I also feel a renewed sense of hope and direction that feels great!

I count myself so blessed to have this person in my life, and that she was willing to spend some time sharing with and really listening to me. My heart is filled with gratitude!

Friday, August 16, 2013

First Round of Botox

I've been away a while because we moved into our house about a week and a half ago, but we just got internet hooked up yesterday.

First, I'm incredibly grateful for all those that kept me in their thoughts and prayers today. I feel so blessed to have such amazing loved ones / prayer warriors, and I know that it's only by God's grace that I made it through the fears and pain today (and every day!).

After some crazy-bad anxiety leading up to it, my first round of Botox went alright today. I'm so glad that I
took anti-anxiety meds beforehand. And, I listened to some advice from other that've had Botox done before - such as, being mindful to keep breathing, ask for short breaks as needed.

I'd be lying if I said that it didn't hurt, but I think part of it was that I was already ultra-sensitive because of dealing with a migraine during the treatment. The injections in the neck / shoulder areas were more painful than the others. The few (one, in particular) in my right shoulder were really bad. My right shoulder is the one I injured in my car accident and have had trouble with ever since... yowza!

Overall, I think it went as well, or better, than I expected.

I'm thankful that Jeremy was with me the whole time. He had some trouble with it and had to sit down about halfway through. I think he was taking some of my burden away from me and it got the best of him. He's alright, but it was harder for him than either of us anticipated.

They played some music of my choice, and God blessed me with songs that really helped me through:
After the treatment, my head felt heavy, yet light. It was weird. I've been having difficulty with my balance, so definitely glad Jeremy was here to help keep me from running or falling into things as much. I came home and slept for quite a while (probably 4-5 hours).

I still have the migraine I had when I got up this morning, but it doesn't seem to have gotten much worse, which is good. I'm starting to get tired again, so I'm going to head to bed (hopefully to get some more sleep).

Again, thank you for all the prayers and support. We'll see how things go from here.

Saturday, July 27, 2013

We're Getting A House!

I've been dying to share this news, but I've been struggling with severe insomnia and migraines...

We're getting a house!

We close next week! So, things have been pretty stressful and hectic. We're so blessed and excited to be taking this step together.

Friday, July 26, 2013

Giving Botox a Shot

I'm going to give Botox a shot (ha ha, a shot!). I've written about considering Botox before:
I'm scheduled for my first treatment on August 15 with my headache doctor.

I have to say that I'm struggling a little bit with how I'm feeling about it. I'm definitely still nervous about the needles, but I don't feel quite as anxious as I've felt in the past when I was considering trying this treatment. I don't know if it's a sense of peace that now is the right time for me to try Botox... or if it's more feeling resigned to the fact that my insurance has approved it through the end of August and I don't want to have to get re- pre-approved, so I've kinda resigned myself to the fact that now might be as good a time as ever to try the treatment.

If the treatment works, then that's awesome! The sooner, the better!

If it doesn't work... well, I guess it's just another treatment tried and failed. I'm trying to be realistic with myself about how much (or little) I'm deep-down expecting and wanting this treatment to help. I didn't like getting surprised when I was disappointed by a medicine back in May (I'll try to catch y'all up on that soon) - I thought I was cautiously hopeful, but I was heart-broken when it not only didn't work, but I had a bad reaction to it.

I'm doing my best to just take things one step at a time, always trusting my life with our Lord.
"'For I know the plans I have for you,' declares the Lord, 'plans to prosper you and not to harm you, plans to give you hope and a future.'" (Jeremiah 29:11)

Thursday, July 18, 2013

ER Visit - Abdominal Pain

Me, drinking the contrast for the CT scan.
On Tuesday, May 28, 2013, I ended up in the Emergency Room (ER).

I had severe abdominal pain that reached emergency level. I'd been hurting all day, but had a horrible pain episode in the early evening (luckily, it was after Jeremy got home, so I wasn't alone). Thankfully, Jeremy made the decision that he was taking me to the ER because I wasn't thinking clearly because of the pain.

It hurt to move at all - in fact, it took a while to get to the car and then into the ER simply because it hurt too much to move or even to breathe.

The ride there was incredibly painful, but we finally made it. As soon as we got inside to the ER lobby, I threw up, was violently shaking, and had numbness / tingling in my hands / arms (and I'd had bad diarrhea Sunday night and part of Monday).

They think it might've been my appendix, and they almost admitted me to the hospital overnight. My white blood cell count was really high. I had a CT scan with contrast - they couldn't see the appendix, but the area nearby wasn't inflamed like they'd expect to see with a severe appendicitis. After speaking with the surgeon, the doctor had me have an abdominal / pelvic ultrasound to check my ovaries (specifically, my right one, since that's the side the worst pain was on) - right ovary looked good, I do have a cyst on my left ovary, but he didn't seem concerned about it.

We got to the ER about 6:30 or 7pm, and were there until almost 2:30am. By 1 or 2am, most of the pain had dissipated. So, the doctor decided that with the tests plus his exams and my pain reports, that I'd be okay to go home. I was released, with the understanding that I was to return if the pain came back. So, no definitive answers - very well could be my appendix, but not sure.

Wednesday, July 17, 2013

It's Been A While & Neck / Shoulder Pain

I've been away... for quite a long time. I apologize for my absence. There are many things that have been happening, some of which are still being worked out. There's a lot that I'd like to share with you guys. I definitely want to get back to blogging more soon, but it may still be a little bit before I can do that. We'll see how things go... so, please stay tuned. 

At the beginning of April, I started having increasingly severe neck pain; and by the end of the month, my right shoulder started to ache deeply (in addition to the severe neck pain).

The intense neck and shoulder pain really broke me down, making me feel like I was just falling apart. I couldn't find any relief or peace. Everything came to a head, so I went to the doctor to try to help with the severe neck pain (stiffness to the point that I couldn't turn my head to the left), right shoulder pain, tingling and numbness in several fingers... it was bad.

Here's what I wrote on May 3, 2013:
The pain type and intensity are eerily similar to right after the car accident in '08 (at least as much as I can recall). I feel overwhelmed with A LOT of thoughts and emotions that race through me. The pain has made it hard to write or type... even texting. It's re-closing my world, and I don't know what to do. I keep reminding myself that I've grown so much since right after the accident, but I don't know if I can do all this again. 
I went to the doctor today. (5/3). Long story short(er), the severe neck / shoulder pain (and subsequent tingling and numbness in my right hand) could be caused by a few different things - could be muscle spasms squeezing the nerve, bursitis, lasting effects from my car accident, a muscle tear, a bulging disc, etc. It's complicated by the fact that the medical test to best narrow it down is an MRI, which I can't have because of my neurostimulator. My doctor said that there's pain in the rotator cuff, so we might be able to get rid of most of the pain and then just have to deal with the cuff. Or, meds + rest + ice could take care of it. There's so many different possible causes, treatments, and outcomes.
So, I was on muscle relaxants for a couple weeks, and took NSAIDs for a month. I also rested and iced the area. Thankfully, all of this helped, and I've gotten back to my normal levels of neck and shoulder stiffness and pain... which is still pretty bad, but no where near as horrible as it was then (and no tingling / numbness).

During this very difficult and painful time, I reached out to a dear friend, who offered me hope and encouragement. She reminded me of God's promises:
"'For I know the plans I have for you,' declares the Lord, 'plans to prosper you and not to harm you, plans to give you hope and a future'" (Jeremiah 29:11).
She also reminded me that even when we wonder what God's purpose is for us, when we're unable to write, talk, or even pray most days... that what matters most to God is His relationship with each of us... and, even though we may want more (to be able to do more)... He only longs for us to be in and with Him.

So, when I'm hurting so badly that I can't really do much of anything and I feel worthless / helpless / etc... as long as I focus on being in the moment with Him, I'm exactly where He wants me to be... and that's what I cling to.

[Please stay tuned for more updates.]

Thursday, April 18, 2013

National Prescription Drug Take Back Day (4/27/13)


There's a National Take Back Initiative taking place April 27th (10am to 2pm) - see below for details (details can also be found here). Local collection sites and law enforcement agencies will be available to safely dispose of accumulated unwanted, unused prescription drugs.

Got Drugs? Banner


The Drug Enforcement Administration (DEA) has scheduled another National Prescription Drug Take Back Day on Saturday, April 27, 2012, from 10:00 am - 2:00 pm. This is a great opportunity for those who missed the previous events, or who have subsequently accumulated unwanted, unused prescription drugs, to safely dispose of those medications.

In the five previous Take-Back events, DEA in conjunction with our state, local, and tribal law enforcement partners have collected more than 2 million pounds (1,018 tons) of prescription medications were removed from circulation.

The National Prescription Drug Take-Back Day aims to provide a safe, convenient, and responsible means of disposal, while also educating the general public about the potential for abuse of these medications.

Tuesday, April 9, 2013

Considering Botox (Part 2)

This is a continuation from Considering Botox (Part 1).

APRIL 6, 2013

I found out that my insurance has approved me to try Botox for my chronic migraines (I believe once between now and the end of August). My doctor's office called and let me know that they've found out that the Botox should be covered completely by my insurance (NO deductible and NO co-pay... covered 100%, done in office)!

What an enormous blessing! Of course, insurance companies change their minds all the time, so hopefully they'll hold true to their claims. But, I trust that God will provide, when / as He moves us forward.

I'm still not sure if I'm quite ready to set an appointment to start the treatment. I'm doing my due diligence in researching and familiarizing myself with the treatment itself, as well as possible outcomes... perhaps over-researching...

I find myself hesitant for several reasons:
  • I HATE needles! I know "they're just small needles," but they're still needles! It's hard for me to imagine being calm through the treatment, even after taking some anti-anxiety meds.
  • I'm concerned about the possible side effects / reactions that might occur. I may be variably sensitive to the treatment aspects of a medicine, but I'm overly sensitive to the side effects. I think what frightens me most is that there can be horrible reactions, and there's not a whole lot that can be done. You can't flush the system of the medication, or just wait a matter of hours of days for the medication to wear off. It's in your system for months, and it can affect every part of your body.
  • [Let me preface this by saying that I'm aware that this is illogical and incorrect] There has always been some comfort knowing that I haven't tried / exhausted every possible treatment out there. I know that I haven't because there are numerous different combinations of treatments. But, it's been somewhat comforting (however illogical) knowing that I have not yet tried Botox as a treatment. It seems to have a higher chance of helping than trying to go back through and find a balance of medications and side effects that's agreeable.
  • I need to get my mind right. There's a fear of it working (but side effects being really bad) or of not working (and exhausting yet another potential treatment option). This can really mess with the mind, and I know that I need to have my mind in a better place, so that I can give it a fair chance of working.
So, I find myself waiting and wondering if I'll ever know that it's the right time for me to try Botox. Will it ever feel right? I felt that having my neuro-stimulator implanted was the right thing to do, and at the right time... but, it hasn't provided the relief I'd hoped for (and actually experienced during the trial).

Can I handle another failed treatment right now? I know that's a negative way to think about it, but I have to protect myself from getting blind-sided by another failure. The same must be asked about having a treatment be successful - am I in a place that I can accept and grasp on to a treatment that provides relief? I know this may sound ridiculous to some people, but it's something that people with chronic pain really do deal with.

***************
I was looking back to see how I was thinking and feeling prior to getting my neuro-stimulator implanted, and I came across something that I wrote. It fits NOW as much as it did THEN (primarily, the first link below)!
This post was written as part of the Health Activist Writer's Awareness Challenge (HAWMC).

Considering Botox (Part 1)

FEBRUARY 13, 2013

I went to my migraine doctor a couple weeks ago. I've at least gained a pound or two (finally, thank goodness!). He's going to make the pill counting issue better. We discussed Botox, again...

Talking about potentially trying Botox is a HUGE thing for me, and something I have such mixed emotions about. I'm scared to death of needles (big, small, long, short... it doesn't matter). It's never felt right to try Botox (not just because of the needle phobia). I know a lot of people don't understand that at all, especially since I've had a neuro-stimulator implanted (i.e., surgery), but haven't yet tried Botox. But, it just hasn't felt like the right thing to try / the right timing.

Perhaps I'm starting to feel that it might be time to give it a try yet, but there are still hurdles ahead. My anxiety skyrockets when I so much as think about it. But, I don't want to continue to have chronic, debilitating migraines and never even tried Botox as a treatment. I believe, though, that treatments may work differently at different points in time... maybe it wouldn't have provided migraine relief had I done it a few years ago, but maybe now it might. Who knows?! My doctor's office is contacting my insurance company to see if they'll cover it, how much it'll cost, etc. Then, the ball will be in my court.

This will be continued in Considering Botox (Part 2).

This post was written as part of the Health Activist Writer's Awareness Challenge (HAWMC).

Thursday, April 4, 2013

Sharing Resource: Migraine Links

I've found many fantastic resources that can be helpful for anyone, regardless of where in their journey with Migraine they are. If you're newly diagnosed, these can help you better understand your new diagnosis. If you've been living with Migraine for years, these might offer different information than you've previously come across. And, sometimes, it's just nice to have a refresher course.

Here's my MIGRAINE LINKS.

This post was written as part of the Health Activist Writer's Awareness Challenge (HAWMC).

Wednesday, April 3, 2013

Wordless Wednesday: Sno Cones!

© 2013 Jamie V.
© 2013 Jamie V.
First Sno Cones of the 2013 Season
© 2013 Jamie V.
This post was written as part of the Health Activist Writer's Awareness Challenge (HAWMC).

Update: Driving Myself (3/25/13)

While the excitement has diminished and I've been dealing with increased pain / decreased independence, I'd like to share something that happened a week and a half ago.

I wrote this on March 25, 2013:
While this may not seem like a very big achievement to some, I know that others will really understand the magnitude.
I've driven myself THREE times in the past week!!! [again, this was a couple weeks ago]
I hadn't driven in ages, but I drove myself to get a massage, go shopping for almost two hours, and to visit with my parents / family (each on separate days).
I'm so proud of myself for doing this. And, I realized that in some ways I kinda miss driving. Of course, there's the feeling more independence thing, which is amazing (even if only for an evening). But, I also enjoy listening to the radio when I drive.
Anyway, I just wanted to share my excitement!
Though the memory of this seems like so long ago, and it may be quite a while before I'm able to do something like this again, I try my best to cherish these opportunities and achievements.

This post was written as part of the Health Activist Writer's Awareness Challenge (HAWMC).

Monday, April 1, 2013

Health Activist Writer's Awareness Challenge 2013: Let's Get Started!

Well, it's been a month and a half since I've posted on my blog. I apologize for my absence. It's been a whirlwind lately, and I needed to focus on things other than my blog. Not that things have really calmed down, but I'd like to get back to writing again - if for nothing else, to share some of the ups and downs that I've been experiencing lately. That being said...

Today marks the beginning of the Health Activist Writer's Month Challenge (HAWMC) for 2013. This is my 3rd year to participate in the challenge, so I'd like to do my best to complete the challenge again this year.


Why I write about my health online: I've written about this over the past two years, and my reasoning behind writing hasn't really changed.


Why I've chosen to participate in HAWMC this year: I believe I answered this above - I'd like to get back to writing, and this is a challenge I've been participating in the past two years.

LET'S GET STARTED!

This post was written as part of the Health Activist Writer's Awareness Challenge (HAWMC).

Thursday, February 14, 2013

A Valentine & Love Letter From God

               For God so loVed the world
      That He gAve
          His onLy
          BegottEn
              SoN
                            That whosoever
           Believeth In Him
                    Should Not perish,
                         But have Everlasting love
                                                             ~ John 3:16





My Child,

I know everything about you … Psalm 139:1
I knew you even before you were conceived … Jeremiah 1:4-5
I knit you together in your mother’s womb … Psalm 139:13
You were not a mistake, for all your days are written in my book  Psalm 139:15-16
I am not distant and angry, but am the complete expression of love … 1 John 4:16
And it is my desire to lavish my love on you … 1 John 3:1
Simply because you are my child and I am your father … Matthew 7:11
Every good gift that you receive comes from my hand … James 1:17
My plan for your future has always been filled with hope … Jeremiah 29:11
For you are my treasured possession … Exodus 19:5
When you are brokenhearted, I am close to you … Psalm 34:18
As a shepherd carries a lamb, I have carried you close to my heart … Isaiah 40:11
One day I will wipe away every tear from your eyes … Revelation 21:3-4
And I’ll take away all the pain you have suffered on this earth … Revelation 21:3-4
Jesus died so that you and I could be reconciled … 2 Corinthians 5:18-19
His death was the ultimate expression of my love for you … 1 John 4:10
And nothing will ever separate you from my love again … Romans 8:31-32
I have always been Father, and will always be Father … Ephesians 3:14-15
Come home and I’ll throw the biggest party heaven has ever seen … Luke 15:7

Love,
Your Abba Almighty God

Wednesday, February 13, 2013

Lessons: Grace & Forgiveness (Part 3)

I would be lying if I said that I don't need to forgive both myself and others. I'm very self-critical, but I can be pretty critical of others as well.

"To be a Christian means to forgive the inexcusable,
because God has forgiven the inexcusable in you"
(C.S. Lewis)
Until we forgive, we are in a self-made prison and at a stand-still in our relationship with God. If we don't forgive, we will lose our appetite for prayer, the Scriptures, Christian fellowship... we cut ourselves off from God.

I've been in that self-made prison before, where the appetite for prayer, the Scriptures, and Christian fellowship it lost. It's a lonely and dark place to be.
"Forgiveness happens inside the person doing the forgiving. It heals our pain and resentment before it does anything for the person we forgive; they might never know about it" (Lewis Smedes, author of The Art of Forgiving, Morrings, 1996).
My car accident, and the resulting health struggles, has often left me feeling lonely. There are some of my friends that I felt would (and should? - see, being critical) be there for me in ways that they simply weren't / haven't been. It has hurt me so deeply that I find myself trying to trudge through latent resentment, which has held me back from doing all I should to help heal these relationships.
If you are having difficulty forgiving someone, ask yourself in what way you might lack forgiveness for yourself.
I have been looking a lot at what I need to forgive myself for, in hopes that it would free me to be able to forgive others. The Bible does not specifically speak of forgiving ourselves.
"Not forgiving ourselves is a symptom, which will take care of itself if we truly forgive others and receive prayers of healing" (from here).
So, I should be working harder to forgive others, that I, too, may be forgiven.
"For if you forgive other people when they sin against you, your heavenly Father will also forgive you. But if you do not forgive others their sins, your Father will not forgive your sins" (Matthew 6:14-15).
"Forgive us our sins, for we also forgive everyone who sins against us. And lead us not into temptation" (Luke 11:4).
In order to forgive, we must release old perceptions and unresolved hurts, but that does not mean that we have to trust him/her or condone inappropriate behavior. We can forgive, while still keeping healthy boundaries. But, forgiveness releases us from the chains of unresolved resentment, and allows us to open our heart and freely consider the future of our relationships.
"Forgiveness is our decision to accept God's grace to let go of the hurt due to sins committed against us and to express this by acts of mercy and love toward the offender" (from here; see Luke 15:20-24).
We are called to forgive immediately (see Matthew 5:25) and indefinitely - "I tell you, not seven times, but seventy-seven times" (Matthew 18:22).

We are called to pardon / forgive others, before we are asked for forgiveness.. and even if we are never asked for forgiveness.
"None of us can forgive by our own power. "To err is human, to forgive divine," [Alexander Pope] and we are not divine. However, the Lord promised us His divine power to forgive. Therefore, forgiveness is our decision to accept God's grace to forgive" (from here).
I'm trying to let go of the unresolved resentment that I've held onto toward myself and others. But, I'm trusting in God's mercy and in His timetable.
We must ask for the grace of forgiveness, and then let go - it may take a short or long period of time, but it will come.
I already have the grace and forgiveness of my loving Father, and that makes all the difference.
"The practice of forgiveness is our most important contribution to the healing of the world."  (Marianne Williamson)

Lessons Series:
Lessons: Learning the Hard Way (Part 1)
Lessons: Learning the Hard Way (Part 2)
Lessons: From Suffering to Empowered
Lessons: Learning From Life With Chronic Pain
Lessons: Finding Joy
Lessons: Perfectionism (Part 1)
Lessons: Perfectionism (Part 2)
Lessons: Learning to Accept Imperfection (Part 1)
Lessons: Learning to Accept Imperfection (Part 2)
Lessons: Learning to Accept Imperfection (Part 3)
Lessons: Grace & Forgiveness (Part 1)
Lessons: Grace & Forgiveness (Part 2)
Lessons: Grace & Forgiveness (Part 3)