Picnic with Ants

My life disABLED with Chrnoic Ilnnesses, it just IS. Taking one moment at a time.


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Good – Bad – Ugly…. Sometimes it’s Pretty, isn’t it?

Thank you all for the outpouring of support and encouragement about my blog and writing and well just me being me.

The comments here and on Facebook, emails….well, everywhere…I was overwhelmed by the love!

I’m sorry I haven’t posted before now….I’ve had some bad and ugly days recently….there’s been come good and pretty times in there too, maybe not whole days, but I’ll take it!!

First right before I went to the appointment I’m about to talk about, I broke my pinky toe.  Yep, I mean within the hour before, I caught my toe on my nightstand and OUCH!!  I saw stars and everything.  Pretty little stars.  *snort*  It’s been a while now…it is still slightly sore, but it has all healed, finally!!  It did mess up walking on my hip a bit though….same leg.  But I didn’t fall!!  Good thing!!!

I was very excited the beginning of June I saw a new neurologist here in Charlotte.  She runs the Carolinas Headache Clinic in Matthews, NC…so it really isn’t in Charlotte, but it is so close it may as well be.  The first appointment I had with her she spent over 2 1/2 hours with me.  I don’t know if that is her normal time for a new patient or not.  I know she sets aside a longer appointment for a new patient, but I was also her last patient for the day so she took her time.  She gave me a very thorough exam and we talked at length about my medical history.  She was very interested.  I was very impressed.  I love my neurologist at Duke, who also specializes in headache pain (my doctor at Duke recommended this doctor, they know each other well).

As much as I have loved my doctor at Duke, I think this doctor will be able to really concentrate on me more.  She won’t be so over whelmed with all the influx of patients from the system at Duke.  (I hope that makes sense)  The doctor here is very interested in my Chronic Persistent Daily Headaches.  (I have a headache all the time, it ranges from about a 3-5 on a scale of 0-10 pain scale, I have had this headache since I was 11 years old, right after my first migraine)  She believes if we can break this headache then we can break the migraines and cluster headaches.  Wouldn’t that be nice?

She started me on a new medication, it was to hopefully help with the daily pain of my head and my all over pain.  Unfortunately, it hasn’t worked.  However, I don’t think we can judge it fairly.  I am on a drug called Limbrel, this helps with inflammation and I had problems getting my prescription for over a month.  (long story short…the doctor faxed in the prescription but the pharmacy said they never got it…this happened over and over, finally they got it straight…why it took so long, well I have no idea, but I finally have it!  3 months worth, thank goodness.  I had no idea how much this was helping my joints and all over pain, I was having trouble typing my joints in one of my hands were hurting so much.)

The past month has been filled with the worst migraines.  Let me give you a little run down….Out of the last 25 days I’ve had 22 migraines, 1 cluster headache, and 15 attacks of vertigo.  On July 2nd a vertigo attack started around 3pm and lasted until after 3pm on July 3rd.  (July 2nd was my birthday…I will just have to celebrate 364 Un-birthdays!!  Want to have a Mad Hatter Tea Party with me??)

Can you guess why I haven’t been posting?  Or reading my dear friend’s blogs?

I admit the depression took hold of me and jerked me around a bit.  I think I had some reasons, even if I didn’t have Bipolar I disorder, but I admit my emotions do go a bit extreme because of my illness.  The demons didn’t knock on the door, they busted it down!  For a while there I thought I was lost.  I was drowning, big time.  I was having panic attacks, heck I’m still having a few of those.  I’ve been having trouble going out of the house again for few of having attacks.  I hadn’t been doing my mindfulness practice…except during vertigo attacks, and sometimes not then, sometimes I would completely freak out.  (however, I’m relieved to say that most of my vertigo attacks have been mild, by that I mean slow rotation, they haven’t been rapid spinning….but I won’t go into detail about what they were like.  Just know they aren’t as scary. However, I will just say….they are exhausting.)

I’ve been trying hard to pull myself out of the depression.  The odd thing about this, the medication that the neurologist put me on is actually an antidepressant.  I was really hoping it would help with this too.  However, I think the fact that I was in a lot of pain, and had so many headaches and vertigo when the medication I was taking was supposed to be helping…well this was making me more depressed.  Makes sense right?  Plus I have a few other things going on in life that are stressing me out too.

Recently I’ve been diving into my mindfulness studies again, and trying to meditate.  Meditation doesn’t fix things, but it just makes me be here.  I was so caught up in the fact that I was in pain, that is where I was, I was hurting, angry, sad, scared, did I mention angry…oh you would not believe the anger that was popping up!  wow!  I hate it for Stuart the past few weeks.  At least he couldn’t hear the even more snappy things I was saying in my head.  ewww.

something I need to remember

something I need to remember

So, I’m focusing on just being here.  I’m taking a lot of deep breaths, and I’m just trying to be me.

On a different note….I’m in physical therapy now to help my hip get a bit stronger and have more range of motion.  I have a day in the gym one day a week and a day in the pool one day a week.  The pool is wonderful.  However, I’ve had to miss a few sessions because of the pesky vertigo.  The last PT session, the therapist really showed me that I am not as strong as I thought I was, she kicked my butt!!  Whew!  However, I’m afraid that the new exercises that I have been doing have aggravated the back injury.  I have been in so much pain.  The sciatic nerve has been shouting at me.  It’s not just yelling on my left side now, it’s screaming on both sides.  I’ll talk to her at my next session tomorrow.  I may have to go see the spine doc again.

Well….I can’t think of much more to say today.

I don’t know if I’ve covered good, bad, ugly…and a little pretty, or not.   But there is some of all in my life.

Good….focusing more on mindfulness again.

Bad….vertigo, migraines, back pain…being really mad there for a while.

Ugly…umm, vertigo sometimes, and you don’t want to see my face when she’s kicking my butt in PT.  hahaha

Pretty….My new headache doctor, she’s really pretty – but not as pretty as my Physical Therapist, oh my!  The feelings I get from both my new headache doc and my PT.


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Don’t Let My Situation with Meniere’s Disease Depress You!!

I haven’t written in a long time because, I had someone with Meniere’s tell me they read my blog and found it very depressing.  This is something I have feared for a long time.  I’ve seriously considered stopping this blog because of this very reason.  I do not want people to read about me and think they this is their fate.

I wrote a lot about having Meniere’s Disease and what it was doing to me before I knew I had “MORE THAN MENIERE’S”.    Even then we knew my case was very atypical.  If you have Meniere’s Disease do not take the progression of my disease as a road map of what your life will look like.

This blog is a journal of my experiences.  I am far from a textbook case.  As my doctor has said…..I am different from any case he has seen.  (he works with a LOT of people with many Vestibular issues at Duke, especially Meniere’s…he is the head of the Vestibular Clinic)  He has told me that there is nothing else he can do for me.  It is recommended that I go to John Hopkins Vestibular Clinic.  They do a lot more research in vestibular disorders than Duke does.  Frankly, I haven’t found any other place that does more research in vestibular disorders than John Hopkins.

Most people with Meniere’s never go bilateral.  Those who do, most never lose their hearing.  Those who do, it normally takes a very long time.   And the very, few who get to that point normally have very little to no vertigo after that.  If they ever do it is very mild.

I’m very different.  When I went bilateral, I completely lost my hearing within 3 years, I now have cochlear implants.  I still have vertigo often.  Even with Cochlear Implants my hearing fluctuates a lot.  (by a lot, I mean many times a day…this is far from normal.  Some people with Meniere’s who have CI’s do have their hearing fluctuate if they have a vertigo attack, but not like I do.)  I will have times where I can go without severe bouts of vertigo for a while then I’ll have a month or so with attacks every day.  That is not normal for Meniere’s.  This is very atypical for this disease.  As my doctor said, I have more than Meniere’s.

I have tried to steer this blog to cover more of my chronic illnesses as a whole, and not focus on Meniere’s Disease.  It doesn’t seem to be working out that way.  My vertigo and hearing issues are a HUGE part of my life.  How do I not talk about them?

I do not want my blog to depress anyone…..I don’t want it to cause people to have less hope.  Meniere’s can be a very scary disease….I do not need to add to it.  I’ve always wanted to give people hope.  To let them know there is life beyond the disease.  That the disease is only a part of the patient’s life, it is not all of your life…it is not who you are.  Things are just different now.

Right now I really don’t know what I’m going to do with this blog.

If I change the focus, people will still see the past post and can see it as depressing, and disheartening.

I am thinking about making a static post that you have to see first when you come to my blog before going to other post, and then starting a new blog, that is much more positive, and not mention Meniere’s Disease as much.  I am afraid I may lose a lot of you.  I’ve changed blogs before, and I lost a lot of people.

Maybe I’ll just give it a try.  Or have 2 blogs for a while?

I just don’t know.

Right now.  This has really been on my mind and has me stuck.

Love and Peace to all of you!

wendy


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Hip Replacement Week – 6

My New HIp. 14th April 2015  by Dr. Springer, OrthoCarolina

My New HIp. 14th April 2015 by Dr. Springer, OrthoCarolina

I just looked by at my last post about my hip replacement, that was a long time ago!

Let’s see what has happened?  I should tell you the good and the bad…I think this is going to be a short post.

The Bad:   I had vertigo attacks every day for 37 days straight.  I think I had good reason to be concerned.  My personal belief is that the Coumadin had something to do with it.  I was on the medication for 28 days, give it a week more to get out of my system….vertigo slowed down drastically.  I’ve had some vertigo since then, but nothing like I had before.  Thank goodness.

About a week or so after surgery I had vertigo that was very different than I have ever had before.  I felt like I was being thrown around the room.  Literally like my body was being tossed all around.  It was horrific.  I threw up and threw up.  My brain felt like it was coming apart in my skull.  I thought I might be dying.  I was so pale Stuart called an ambulance and I was taken to the emergency room.  My darling husband and sister spent about 7 hours at the hospital with me.  The tossing around stopped when I was in the ambulance, but I still felt like I was moving.  (I got vomit on the Ambulance attendant, I was so embarrassed.  She was so sweet.)  It is very difficult being in the emergency room when you have vertigo.  They can’t really do anything.  They gave me the same medication I have at home, I was just much more uncomfortable.

Funny story, I had to pee when I was in the ER, and of course I had to use a bed pan (they gave me a huge bed pan), can you imagine how much pain that caused when I just had my hip replaced 6 days before?  I must say I’m glad they gave me such a big bed pan, but I still over flowed it.  It was a mess.  The nurses had a big laugh though, they swore I could not have held that much pee and not burst my bladder!  However, it was not a comfortable thing to change my sheets and clean me up!

I’m still having a lot of pain because of my back.  The sciatic pain is hard to deal with sometimes.  My doctor told me to wait a while before I went to the see the back doctor, he thinks it will get better when all the swelling goes down and that could take a few months.  I can’t see the swelling now, except in my foot, but I guess it’s probably still there inside.  I’m really hoping the aqua therapy will help with this again.

The only other bad thing was that my physical therapy was a little behind because of the vertigo.  Unfortunately, I missed quite a few sessions of the home PT.  However, I work hard on my own, my physical therapist was always surprised that I was as far along as I was considering hadn’t been able to keep on schedule.

Another view of my New Hip - by Dr. Springer - OrthoCarolina

Another view of my New Hip – by Dr. Springer – OrthoCarolina

I saw my doctor, Bryan Springer, MD of OrthoCarolina, exactly one month after my surgery.  The first thing he said was when he did the surgery  my hip looked pretty bad in there, then he showed me my x-ray of my new hip, and said I was doing great!  I go back to see him in 3 months!  Woo Hoo!  I did request to go to further physical therapy since I didn’t get to finish my PT at home and he was all for it.  Unfortunately, I haven’t been able to start it yet.  I’ll be doing Aquatic Therapy and the place I went before have drastically cut their hours so I’ll be going to a different place.  I’m a little nervous because the other place was very quiet and I could easily hear my therapist.  I don’t know how the new place will be, I have a LOT of trouble with my hearing so if it is the slightest bit noisy in there I may have a lot of difficulty.

Wendy walking at 4 weeks.

Wendy walking at 4 weeks after hip replacement.

By the 4th week I was able to walk around the house with just a cane.  Now I can walk around just about everywhere with just a cane, if I didn’t need a walker for my balance issues.  I don’t put pressure on my walker though, it is there just to help me with balance so I’m putting my weight on my hip.  I’m walking a lot.  I can easily go up and down stairs, as long as I’m not too dizzy.  :-)  I can walk around the house and yard without any assistance at all…unless, of course, I need it for my balance. How cool is that??

Wendy going up and down the steps for the 5th time, at 4 weeks after hip replacement surgery.

Wendy going up and down the steps for the 5th time, at 4 weeks after hip replacement surgery.

I think I’m doing pretty good at PT by myself, but I want some guidance from a therapist about when I can stop following the “rules” I have to follow, and how hard I can push myself in certain exercises.  I know from experience I can get more range of motion exercising in the pool so I’m really looking forward to that.

For anyone out there who may be reading this who has Avascular Necrosis (AVN), I want you to know that the pain from AVN stopped the moment I had the surgery.  The pain from recovering from surgery has not been anything close to the pain of AVN.  I sincerely wish all of my illnesses could be taken care of so easily.  I do realize that this could show up in other joints, I will deal with that if it happens, until then I’m not going to worry about it.  If you are reading this and you have AVN in multiple joints I have the utmost compassion for you and hope you can find help.

*You may have notices my shirt is way too big.  I plateaued with my weight loss when the pain from the AVN started and I couldn’t move around much.  I didn’t want to get clothes that weren’t going to fit when I started to lose weight again. :-)  It has started again…yay!  Very slowly though.  I did get the pants from Good Will so they fit pretty good.

**yes this is late, it has been more than 6 weeks since my surgery but I had a bit of trouble with my computer.  I’ll catch up a bit more soon!


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Chonic Pain/Ilness Photography 2015 Project Week 3

This is the final week of the Chronic Pain and Illness Photography Project I have been participating in for the past 3 weeks.  Facilitator  Stephanie Blumensaat did a marvelous job putting this project together and keeping the group running smoothly.  What a wonderful group of creative people who were willing to share so much of their art, their lives and their souls.  Simply amazing.  Stephanie has a blog, Chronic Pain Life, that you just might want to check out.  She will be putting together future projects that some of you might want to participate in, I know I will. 

I hope you enjoy these photos and insights into me….

Day 15 – Gratitude. – posting a day late

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I have much to be grateful for every day, yesterday was no exception, but it was a very rough day, things happening all around me that I could not help with or do anything about. (my dog had an emergency trip to the vet and I couldn’t move my head without vomiting to help…it was a very hard day.) Yesterday was filled with rapid vertigo. Yesterday I had a very long, rough day with vertigo. I am very grateful for the bucket I could throw up in if needed….and all the medication I had that made me not have to throw up so much. (I’m most thankful for my darling husband for taking care of our furry baby…she’s fine…and taking care of me.)
Truthfully, I’m very grateful the day is over.
Day 16 – Dreams

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 One dream I always had was to go to Disney Land, not Disney World, I wanted to go to the original.

Right before I got very sick, I was able to go.  This is the land of dreams….a place where dreams come true…..the photo is the refection of the castle.  I think this photo is very symbolic of my dreams today, they are very vivid and beautiful, a little wavy, and sometimes a bit upside down….that doesn’t mean I’ve stopped dreaming.
I still have many dreams, some are short term, some are long term, some are very attainable, some probably aren’t.  And that’s OK.  I think healthy people have the same kind of dreams….not all come true.

 

 Day 17 – Identity
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 The image I chose for this prompt is a mask I made….the outside shows how most of the world sees me….the invisible illness, my cheery exterior…is that part of my identity….yes, I think so. The inside of the mask shows how I feel about things and how I feel about me. I think this is a good representation of my identity.

This prompt was very hard for me. If I were able to really get up and out and create a new photograph for this prompt I would have done something different.

How do I Identify myself now? I’m still Wendy.

 Day 18 – Know This
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 Know This….You are not your illness/pain.
Your illness and pain are a part of you but it is not YOU.
Do not lose yourself.
Day 19 – Spirit
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Showing my spiritual side.  I hope you enjoy this photo as much as I do.
I took the selfie yesterday and manipulated it in Photoshop to show my spiritual side.
I study Buddhism,
I follow a mindfulness way of living.
This has made a huge difference in my life, and how I deal with chronic illnesses.
Namaste
Day 20 – Goals
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Take more risk…..overcome fear….first step!….walk out the front door…..

My goals….get out more.
We moved to a new place in August of last year. During the move my hip started to hurt. I haven’t been able to hardly walk since the move.  I had hip replacement surgery on the 14th.  I’m starting to walk again, that is going very well.  However, I’ve had vertigo attacks every day for over 30 days.  Fear rules my life. 
I started to get in the shower today, and was then going to go to the store with my husband.  A first outing since my surgery, other than to the doctor….
right before I got in the shower I was on the computer and the world started to tilt……suddenly it started to spin, violently…for 5 hours I was spinning with violent vertigo, so very, very sick!!!
Then I slept for 2 hours and I still feel like I have no balance and my head is mush.
Deep Breath!!!
This is a HUGE GOAL!
Get out that door!
Expand my life!
I know I can do it!
if not…my Goal is to be perfectly happy, in the life I have, just the way it is.

Day 21 – Invisible

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Invisible Illness and me

“You look so good!”
Just beneath the surface
no one can see
the cracks….
the cracks…..

Day 22 – Music  (bonus prompt)

As most of you may know, I’m deaf. My chronic illness took my hearing. I haven’t been deaf long, and music is still in my head and I still sing and love music…I just can’t listen to it. (I have Cochlear Implants and can hear some music but not like I used to.  Hopefully, I will be able to hear it better in the future, but for now, not so much.)

When I relax I often hum, when I’m up I often sing, my husband and I often make up silly songs and laugh…..the silly songs are wonderful, they make me feel normal, and keep up my spirits. Music can be very therapeutic.

Today I wanted to share something different with you.
A few years ago, right before I lost all of my hearing I sat down with a friend of mine who is a sound engineer and he did a pretty good recording of what my tinnitus sounds like. These are the sounds I hear all the time. I don’t hear the worst of it all the time, but I do hear some of these all the time.

One day recently I suddenly didn’t hear anything and it scared me. I felt completely alone and was terrified.  It didn’t last long. These sounds can drive me crazy at times, but they can also be very soothing.

This is my music….my Sounds of Silence.

Day 23 – Art  (bonus prompt)

art chronic illness

I use my art to help me with my chronic illness in many ways.
Here you will see where I have three expressions of me.
Silly loving Me.
Chronic Pain Me.
Natural, Strong Me.

I try to create something every day….drawing, writing, photography……anything creative…..
My art helps me heal, even if I’m just doodling, creating heals my soul.

(sometimes when I can’t voice my pain, I can show it in my art)

The Chronic Pain and Illness Photography Project is over now.  I’ll be returning to my regular scheduled programming.  :-)

I’m sure my regular readers are curious about my hip replacement surgery recovery.  I’ll give you a thorough update in the next post….here’s a little spoiler….my hip is doing GREAT!

See you soon.  I’m off to Duke for visits to my doctors tomorrow, and the next day, and the next day…..  Yay!!

callenges collage


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Chonic Pain/Ilness Photography 2015 Project Week 2

The second week of the Chronic Pain/Illness Photography Project I have been participating in on Facebook has been amazing.  The people who are contributions and contributors are amazing.  This has become so much more than just sharing photographs, we are sharing our deepest fears, pains, joys, loves….our lives.  The support that has been given and felt is nothing like I expected from a Photography Project.  The project has been consuming.  When I’m not working on the theme for the day, I’m looking at contributions, reading stories, commenting, sharing….when I’m not actively working with the project I’m often thinking about the people, or a certain entry that has touched me.  This project will touch me forever.  I hope you enjoy my interpretation of this weeks prompts…..

Day 8 – Affirmations

affirmations

I try to live a mindful life. These quotes help me remember to live in the now, and remember that my body, just as it is right now, is just fine (I’m only human).

I also try to remember to be gentle with myself, I’m the only me I have. (I have a habit of beating myself up a bit, expecting more out of myself….my doctors, and my husband have often told me to give myself a break..I’m learning to.)

The photo on the left I took of my toes in the ocean, with a quote by James Baraz –
Mindfulness is simply
being aware of what is happening right now without wishing it were different.
Enjoying the pleasant without holding on when it changes. (which it will)
Being with the unpleasant without fearing it will always be this way. (which it won’t) – James Baraz

On the right, a photo my husband took, with a quote by Pema Chodron –
Realize that this very body,
with its aches and its pleasures….
is exactly what we need to be fully human,
fully awake, fully alive.

Day 9 – Support.
stuart and wendy on steps
The greatest Support I have is my husband. This photo is from our wedding. When we got married, 10 1/2 years ago, I was sick, but not nearly as sick as I have been in the last 5+ years.
He had no idea what he was getting into, but he has always been my greatest support. He is always by my side, always holding me, understanding when I am a complete bitch to him, helping me with the most humiliating task, watching me go through numerous painful medical tests and treatments….he is the only one bringing home any finances, and he also cooks, cleans, takes care of our pets and me.
I feel he has sacrificed so much to give me the best life possible.

He says I am his support, that I am what gets him through the day, I am his inspiration….He tells me he was a selfish person before me, that he strives to be a better person because of me, he tells me that nothing he does is a sacrifice because he’d rather be with me, than do anything without me.  How can this be?  How can he give me so much, and still think that I am an equal in this relationship?

Our relationship gets better and better. (we did go to therapy to help deal with me losing my independence and understanding how to deal with a chronic illness. The therapist I went to, and soon asked my husband to join the sessions, works a lot with people with chronic illnesses.)

Our relationship is really my biggest support. Together, we can do this.

Day 10 – Comfort
comfort collage
Comfort comes in all shapes and sizes for me.
When I first thought what I reach for first when I need comforting, I thought of my Monkey. I got him right before I first started getting really sick. He has seen me through a lot. He not only cuddles with me, but he makes a great neck pillow, a lumbar support…ect. I take him just about every where. Yep, this grown woman takes her stuffed animal to the hospital with her!
My painting of Buddha meditating represents my mindfulness practice, and meditation. Mindfulness practice has been a great comfort to me. I think it has helped me more than most medical treatments. I have also begun to study the Buddha’s teachings in the past few years and this has also been a great comfort to me.

The photo I took of the wild flower with the little bee on it is comforting to me because it reminds me to appreciate the little beautiful things I see, and not get so caught up in all the pain and suffering. It reminds me that life is constantly changing, just as the seasons change, my life is changing….I take comfort in that.

Day 11 – Who I Was:
wendy before
This was the hardest prompt for me to date. It brought up so many emotions. When I first read “Who I Was”, I thought, I’m still the ME I’ve always been, yes, I’m sick, but I’m ME….then I started looking at pictures…thank goodness I don’t have a lot of photos of the “before” pictures on my computer.  This brought up a lot of emotions.  Emotions I thought I’d dealt with a long time ago.  But grief isn’t linear, and right now, I’m grieving a bit for some of the old Wendy…..this just touches on some of the old me…A little of Who I Was….
top left: a selfie with (my then boy friend) now hubby – a little sexy thing. I miss feeling sexy, or being able to have sex without pain, or being able to have a normal sex life….no, to be honest, I really miss having a wild sex life! I finally met the love of my life, and not long afterward my sex life was ruined. I’m not that me any more.top right: I’m in the front on the left. This is a birthday party for one of our old friends. This was a normal occurrence before I was sick. I was social, I entertained. I went to museums and art shows and parties…… I had a lot of friends. I’m not that person any more.

bottom left: Me on the left with a friend at the NC State Fair. I was spontaneous, I could run, and jump, and play….I loved playing with kids. I was FUN. (sometimes I still am, but it’s hard..it sure isn’t spontaneous, and I pay for it afterward) I used to do these things without fear. I can’t do that any more. The now Wendy is full of fear.

bottom right: Me cooking…well baking…well, enjoying the products from baking…haha. I love to cook. I love everything about it. I have fructose malabsorption, I’m allergic to wheat, I’m hypoglycemic…..ect… These things, well yeah, I’m sick with it, but it didn’t matter much except when eating out, because I loved to cook!  It was just a challenge. I loved to play with ingredients and learn to make new flavors with the foods I can eat. I had a gluten free food blog with close to 2,000 followers. Suddenly my balance issues got too bad. I was having too many accidents in the kitchen. I can’t cook now. I really, really miss this….this is one thing I hope I can get back. I can’t drive either, but I’d rather be able to cook than to drive. And I live in an area where I can’t really get anywhere without being able to drive.

Day 12 – Motivation

life

LIFE – My little flower represents life….even when it isn’t supposed to be there.

Much of what I’ve already posted are motivators to me, however, I think the thing that motivates me the most is life. I want to live my life. It may not be the life I expected, but it’s still my life. I’ve learned to change those expectations…and simply live day to day.

I read something recently that stuck with me.
Sometimes the best way to motivate yourself is to stop trying to motivate yourself. (That really hit the nail on the head with me. Sometimes I have a hard time getting motivated, especially when I’m depressed. Sometimes I just have to act.)
You do not need motivation to act.
You do have to make a conscious decision to act.
The action could be big or small.
It may not turn out the way you want.
How you feel about that is irrelevant.
(OK…that part is really hard. for me this part means, being ok with how things are, no matter what happens.)
Actions move you forward.
Waiting for motivation keeps you stuck.
What you do with this information, you do in this moment.
The decision is always up to you.
(this came from a website called mindfulness over matter)

I also have to remember to always be gentle with myself and forgive myself if things don’t turn out as I planned. If I can’t get motivated or even act on something sometimes, it’s ok, forgive myself and move on. Give myself a break.

Day 13 – Challenges

callenges collage
Whew – To sit down and think of all the challenges I face each day, I couldn’t sum it all up here. It was difficult to pick what to share with our group.

In the center of my collage you will find a lot of spoons on the floor. If you are acquainted with the spoon theory you will probably understand this immediately. If not, I recommend you read it, you can find it here: http://www.butyoudontlooksick.com/articles/written-by-christine/the-spoon-theory/ I haven’t been the biggest fan of the spoon theory myself, because there are many days I have no “spoons” and I still do things, sometimes you just have to push through it or you don’t make it to that doctor’s appointment you made 3 months ago (yes, I’ve still had to cancel those way too many times). But for me this represents all the challenges I face on a day to day basis that take every bit of my energy, or that I have to get up all my courage to do (like take a bath or shower) that normal people have no problem with.

From there we will go from top left to right around to the bottom left.

Selfie of my incision after one of my ear surgeries. This represents the challenge that I’ve had many surgeries on my ears and they are still ruling my life. Between the vertigo and the lack of hearing, causing me to shy away from social interaction and have fear almost every moment of the day that I will be attacked by my own head and lose control of my body.

The next photo represents one time I had vertigo when in public and was stuck in a parking lot of over 4 hours, I was 1 mile from my home. I finally got my husband to get me home, I ended up having a violent attack for over 9 hours. I thew up most of this time and lost control of all bodily function. It is a huge challenge to get over my fear of having vertigo in public and just go out, and it is a huge challenge swallow my humility and allow my husband to take care of me and clean me up when I have soiled myself.

The last on the top row, another selfie, represents my challenge of living with Bipolar I disorder. I have been mostly stable for about 20 years, but it is still a challenge. I have to be very dilligent about taking my medication and taking care of myself. I have to really pay attention to my body and my mind. If I notice any symptoms returning I need to get in touch with my doctor immediately. There is always a chance the medication my stop working. Having Bipolar I is classic Manic Depression, and it is very challenging.

The middle row left is a do not disturb sign from a trip my husband and I took before we were married. This represents the challenges I have having sexual relations with my husband. If anyone wants to talk about this, I will be more than happy to. I know this is something that is very hard to talk about, but it is very important to break down that barrier. You are not alone.

On the middle left top is a self portrait of me painting. This is a big challenge now. I can paint, but I get confused. There are many days I simply can’t paint due to pain, but I also have a hard time with subject manner and style. I feel more empty inside about my art. I would like to put my illness on canvas to get it out, but I just can’t. I’ve done a couple of commission pieces, but I have to have no deadline. It’s simply a really big challenge. My doodles make me happy, at least I’m doing something.

Just below, you will see my arm with many hospital bracelets on me. This is actually from my last visit to the hospital. This represents the challenge of having to go to the hospital so much. To so many doctors. To owe so may hospital and doctor bills that only my husband can pay. To me it even represents fighting for disability.

On the lower left you will find my Headache Pain Scale. This represents the challenge I have always found in telling doctors how I feel. I don’t feel that doctors really understand patients a lot of the time. I’m lucky I have many good doctors. I’m also lucky that I have the kind of insurance that if I don’t have a good doctor I can fire them. (and I have) But finding a doctor who really understands is a challenge. (also not being able to hear makes it hard for a doctor to make himself understood to me….we definitely can have communication troubles.

The last photo on the bottom left represents the unknown. They have come to the point that they have told me that they don’t know what is wrong. We know I have a vestibular illness, probably more than one, but they don’t know what. I have been told for many years I have Meniere’s disease. I have been through more tests and treatments than you can believe, now I’ve been told, they can’t do any more. I’m stuck with the unknown. There are other conditions they don’t know about, the Avascular Necrosis in my hip, they don’t know if I will get it in other joints….good chance. Some doctors have said that other diseases I have may all go together, other doctors say no? I think my body may hate me. The photo is an x-ray of my hip on the left, and a photo of my ear on the right that I have manipulated beyond recognition.

These are some of the challenges I face. Sorry I couldn’t keep it shorter

Day 14 – My Body

my body

It’s cute….but very fragile.
(note, I could never get in this position, not now, but I used to love yoga, I could have…)

*this is a straw wrapper version of me, created one day when I was playing with the wrapper from my hubby’s drink.

As you can see the Chronic Pain/Illness Photography Project has become much more than sharing photographs.  Everyone in the project is sharing a part of their soul.  I feel so honored to be a part of this project.  One week to go…..

Hope... for Dr. Gray
by w. holcombe copywrite 2014


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Chronic Pain/Illness Photography Project

Starting on April 26th, I’ve been participating in a Chronic Pain/Illness Photography Project on Facebook.  It is a closed group, but I wanted to share my photos here.  By the way, if anyone wants to join the group, you can enter at any time.  You can complete the previous projects if you would like, or you can start of where we are now.  So far, it’s been a lot of fun, and a lot of support and camaraderie between between people who “get it”.

Many of these photos my long time readers may have seen.  Some are photos of my artwork.  (I can’t really get out and create many new photos right now since I’m recovering from hip replacement surgery.)

Day 1 – Hope

I made this for one of my doctors. She gives a lot of people hope. Unfortunately her treatment didn’t help me for long, but I always have hope, not necessarily for a cure…..Hope springs eternal.

Hope... for Dr. Gray by w. holcombe copywrite 2014

Hope… for Dr. Gray
by w. holcombe copywrite 2014

Day 2 – Loss

This photo represents losing my hearing, and much of my balance due to one of my illnesses, Meniere’s Disease.

 Fractured Ear manipulated photo -  by w. holcombe

Fractured Ear
manipulated photo –
by w. holcombe

Day 3…Today.

Today I got my bandage off from my hip replacement, all looks good there! You can’t tell in the picture, but I have 6 stitches you can see, but mostly I’ve been glued together, it looks pretty cool.
I haven’t felt good today. The nerve in my back is acting up and my leg is in a lot of pain. I didn’t sleep much last night.
My monkey is guarding my hip that was just operated on so my dog or cat can sit on my lap. In this photo, Kiki is keeping me company. We rescued Kiki right when my hip/back started hurting. The doctors thought I’d just strained it when we moved. I had no idea I’d be hip replacement surgery just 7 months later because my femur head was collapsing because it was dying. Avascular Necrosis sucks. and mine was caused because of over use of prednisone. Doctors caused this disease by treating other diseases I have with too many steroids. If I’m lucky it won’t attack my other large joints. I’m 51, in the last 3 years, I’ve gotten 2 artificial ears (Cochlear Implants) and an artificial hip….no metal detectors for me!! haha.

I’m not complaining, honestly….it’s just the way it is.

and when my hip heals I’ll be able to walk!!
Woo Hoo!!

Wendy Hip Replacement Recovery - April 2015 photos by w holcombe

Wendy Hip Replacement Recovery – April 2015
photos by w holcombe

Day 4 – Self Portrait.
This looks a little depressing, but I’m not..not today. I just like this self portrait of me. I took the photo in the bathroom mirror, and manipulated it on Photoshop. It shows part of my cochlear implant.
Some days are better than others….this day was a rough day. Taking the photo helped me get part of those feeling out, and helped me explain them to others.
I still have a hard time with my cochlear implants at the time. My hearing isn’t supposed to fluctuate with them, but it does…a lot! I’m lost, often. People don’t understand why I can’t hear when I have these devices. For those who don’t know, when someone has a hearing aid or other hearing device, it does NOT allow you to hear like a normal person. We often miss a lot. Often HOH/Deaf people won’t tell you they are having a hard time hearing.
I speak up, but it’s amazing how many hearing people don’t hear me. :-)
Wendy charcoalwithCI

Wendy with CI – manipulated photo  –                     by w holcombe

Day 5…Tool Kit.

(sorry I’m a day late, yesterday I had a 12 hour vertigo attack…yuck….happy I wasn’t alone, and the violent spinning didn’t last long, I spent most of the time in slow spins…it’s still miserable, but it could have been much worse!) I have a few tool kits, emergency kits…..I believe in being prepared. smile emoticon This is my medication kit.
Top left – all closed up and ready to go. Top right – top part is open, this is where we store my shots and things that are needed for that, and other little things. Plus my med list, with all meds I take listed, pharmacy, prescribing doctor…ect. I also have this list with me in my wallet too. (this includes supplements and everything) Bottom left – bottom part of container is open and top of pill bottles showing…..the “A”s stand for A.M. or Morning, “P” is P.M. or Evening, AP are pills to be taken in the Morning and Evening. If there is a number on the top then I take more than one. I line all of these up and fill up my pill boxes…you can see those on top of my medicine box Bottom Left. I have two morning boxes because I have to take 2 pills before breakfast and the rest after breakfast.

There’s more to keeping up with my meds, but that’s my medicine box. If I’m going out of town for more than a couple of days, I just grab my box. It really has helped me to stay on track, and know when I need to refill my meds, to buy more supplements….ect. It also helps me keep everything in one place. I love my medication kit.
So this is ONE of my tool kits.

medicine box

Medication Toolkit photos – by w. holcombe

Day 6….Acceptance.

One day after hearing me talk about how hard I had been fighting, a fellow Meniere’s patient told me that perhaps I should learn to walk with old Mr. Meniere’s instead of fighting him so much all the time. I had never even thought of that. I knew this disease had no cure, but it never occurred to me to not fight it tooth and nail. Suddenly it hit me, I had to accept it as part of me. I can’t get rid of it, some days may be better, but it will always be there. I accepted it. Once I did, things got much easier. I have a number of other illnesses, I’ve accepted them all. Meniere’s Disease was the hardest to accept….it comes packed with a lot of stuff….and mine is a very complicated case. (my doctors at Duke now say I have “more than Meniere’s”, they have no idea exactly what I have. I have a several complicated vestibular disorders.)

I drew this little doodle one day to show I think I’m perfect just the way I am.

I am (imperfectly) perfect - by w. holcombe

I am (imperfectly) perfect – by w. holcombe

Day 7 – Grieving:

This was a hard subject for me to figure out a photo for. I kept thinking of things more suited for loss. I wanted to show something that worked more for my grief over all the things I’ve lost…. I came across this entry in my journal, and a photo of a flower I took that I think work fairly well.

Here are the words on the journal page, I’m sure you can’t read them….
The tears have been shed.
The lines have been drawn.
Do we dare to cross.
Do we dare to dream again.
The tears have flowed line rivers down our face.
The mourning continues.
How do we hope again.
How do we believe?

journal entry w. holcombe

journal entry
w. holcombe

by w holcombe

by w holcombe

I hope you enjoyed my photo journey so far….you may have learned a little about me along the way.

There are more to come!

Remember, if you would like to join me in this photography journey, come join the Facebook group, there’s a great group of people putting out some great work.

tonibernhard.comquote


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I Didn’t Expect

expectationI didn’t expect the depression I’m feeling….

I saw the signs, I have so much going on, there are so many outside reasons….but I’m struggling….this is why I’ve been away so long, why my blog has been suffering, why I simply haven’t.

Today, I’m going to write, I have too much to write about, I am overwhelmed by how much I have to write about, but I need to…..

I didn’t expect to have vertigo almost all day the day before surgery.

I didn’t expect to have vertigo in the waiting room right before surgery.

adapted from Teen Titans cartoon

adapted from Teen Titans cartoon

I didn’t expect the intense pain after my surgery.  During surgery the back injury that just got better was aggravated.  I was not just dealing with surgery pain, the pain I expected, I was dealing with the back pain and severe sciatic pain.  To make it worse, I couldn’t move to make the back and sciatic any better.  I was stuck, in so much pain.  We could not get this pain under control.  I have issues with pain medication.  Everything makes me hypersensitive, I feel like things are on me, it makes me itchy.  So I was only prescribed Tylenol and Tramadol.  This didn’t do it.  They tried to put me on my side to help, this caused me so much pain I swear I wasn’t even in the room it was just pain.  Luckily, it didn’t last long.  I decided I’d rather itch.  They tried Hydrocodone.  nothing.  I don’t know what all was tried.  at 2am they tried Toradol, this is a NSAID given by IV or injection.  I’ve had it for my migraines before.  This finally worked.  Probably in conjunction with everything else.  I finally fell asleep.  Only to be awoken at 4am to have my blood drawn.  Then at 6am for something and at 7am because shifts changed….it was an exhausting.  But I have to say, the night nurse who was trying to help me was absolutely wonderful, I couldn’t have asked for better care.

I didn’t expect to have low blood pressure, a magnesium deficiency, and have to stay another night.

I did get out of bed the first day and walk a little, I was told I did great.  (the intense pain hadn’t started yet)  I had my morning Physical Therapy on the second day and did well, even though I was a little dizzy.  I didn’t expect to have a vertigo that afternoon.  During my vertigo attack I had 3 different people come to work with me, including my Physical Therapist.  No afternoon PT, no going home.  They also had to make sure my pain was under control before I went home.  It was better that night…but I had to sleep in a recliner, glad we bought one for me the right before I had my surgery.  (ugly thing)  I didn’t expect to HAVE to sleep in a chair for many nights after I got home.  I didn’t expect to cry from the pain so much, after my surgery.

I didn’t expect my sister to come and help.  I am very grateful.  I didn’t expect it to be so hard for Stuart to stand back and allow someone to help.  He said he’s just used to doing it, it’s hard to ask someone else to do things.  Yep, I know that feeling.  It’s very hard to ask others to do things.  Especially, for me to ask for the little things.  It’s hard to ask for things like something to drink, or a snack, to reach something for me, to get me a blanket if I’m cold….ect.  Yep, I’m having a hard time asking for things too.  I’ll ask for someone to go to the store, or do some laundry, things like that…..but it’s the little things that get me.  It makes me feel so helpless.  Eh…I guess I am.   (I feel pretty weird having anyone other than Stuart do private things for me too…that is one of the hardest things I’ve had to deal with…one of the hardest)

I didn’t expect to have vertigo every day since my surgery.

I didn’t expect for Stuart to have to take off a second week from work.  (I think he got in a little bit of work the second week…but not much.)

-Rachel Wolchin thegoodvibe.co

I didn’t expect…..

I didn’t expect to have a death in the family two days after my surgery.  It was my extended family by marriage (my cousin’s daughter’s husband), I didn’t know him personally, but the circumstances of his death were hard….so very sad.  He was young, in his late thirties.  He was EMT on his way to work and pulled off and parked at a gas station, they found him slumped across the steering wheel dead.  The autopsy has been inconclusive.  There are still test out, but they don’t expect to find anything.  They will probably have no idea why he died.   They also found out a lot about him that his wife had no idea about, it is very, very sad.  It also makes you think…..and think….

I didn’t expect for one of my father’s friends to die the next day.  I knew him growing up.  He worked with my father, they used to Barbeque (or barbecue in some parts) together.  When I say Barbeque, I mean Southern Barbeque; a huge hog in a pit, slow roasted all night long….oh my it is good.  We used to have picnics and things over at his farm.  He let me touch my first cow, it was much softer than I thought it would be.  He was 12 years younger than my father.  As you get older you see more and more friends die, I wonder if my father is having a hard time with this?  I’ve noticed he goes to a lot of funerals.  That’s a subject that would be hard for me to broach with him.

I didn’t expect my friend Laurie from Hibernationnow’s Blog to die on April, 21st.  She caught the flu in February and that just snowballed into more and more, she just got sicker and finally her body couldn’t take it any more and she died.   I’m in complete in shock about her death.  I keep looking for updates to her blog in my email.  I look for her to chat with me on Facebook.  I heard from her in some way nearly every day.  It may not have been personally, but I always knew she was there.  Now she’s not.  Just like that….suddenly her voice is gone.  Her thoughts are not in my life any more.  Laurie fought fibromyalgia, she was quirky in ways and loved the color yellow, she loved the ocean, writing, and most of all her family.  We were both foodies, and we both lost a dogs who left huge holes in our hearts, and later we both adopted rescue dogs who took over a new place in our hearts.  The one thing we disagreed the most about was our feelings about the chef Alton Brown.  She hated him, I love him…..it was quite a debate on one of her post!  I will miss you Laurie.  All the support and love you gave me, and our friendly banter.  May you be pain-free in a nice warm place near the ocean taking a walk with your father.

I didn’t expect my dearest friend’s mother to die this week.  She has been battling Amyotrophy Lateral Sclerosis (ALS, otherwise known as Lou Gehrig’s disease) for the past 9 months.  I’m actually relieved she didn’t have to live in her body with her mind fully aware without being able to communicate with anyone for very long.  I loved Kathy very much.  I wanted so much to be there to help care for her.  I wanted to be there for my friend and help her through this difficult time.  Now I can’t be there for her again.  The death of her mother is going to devastate my friend.  She was closer to her than anyone.  They talked daily.  They were best friends.  Her mother’s illness took a toll on the family.  Yes, she will have a lot of people around her, but I know she needs her best friend.  It is extremely hard not to be able to go.  I am so tired of feeling useless.  But this should not be about me, it should be about Kathy.  She was such a strong woman.  A single mother, raising 3 children mostly by herself.  She was so generous and kind.  She worked so hard and hard and hard….and she gave and gave and gave.  This probably gave her more joy, but from my view I wish she had been able to take more time for her.  She was just about to retire when she got sick.  I know Kathy did have a good life, and celebrated life, but I also know she was looking forward to slowing down and just enjoying her grand children.  Please don’t put off living until tomorrow.  Kathy was one of the best people I knew.  That sums it up pretty well.

I didn’t expect writing this post would make me feel better.

tonibernhard.comquote

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