On my mind…

me pop and terry2

Left – Terry, my sister, Middle – My Pop, Right – Wendy, me

I don’t talk about my family often, other than hubby and the furry babies.  But there is something on my mind, something that may explain part of sadness.

My father had liver cancer in 2013, he went through treatment (chemoembolization) and they got it.  It was a much easier way to treat cancer than anything I’ve ever seen.  He has been doing well since then….

Until his check up in December, well even then they didn’t think anything was seriously wrong.  When he had his initial cancer he had a large tumor that they got rid of, and he had a tiny little tumor that they left alone, but they have watched.  It hadn’t grown at all then at his December check up, it was an itsy bitsy bit bigger, so they decided to go in and do Radiofrequency ablation (RFA) and get rid of it.  They did this the near the end of January.  During that procedure the doctor found more 2 tumors.

This was supposed to be an in and out no big deal procedure, but it took my father a while to recover from it.  Last Monday he had the chemoembolization again on the remaining tumors, this procedure is less hard on him.  Now this coming Monday he will have RFA again on both of the tumors.

My father is 82 years old.  This is really hard on him.  It’s also really hard on my sister.  She is taking care of him.  She was taking care of him after his first surgery when I was put in the hospital for having seizures.  She was so worried about me she got my uncle to come stay with my father and came to help me, then she turned around and went right back to care for my father again.  For over a month now she has had no life of her own, she has only been taking care of others, and I don’t know how much longer she will have to do this.  She is normally very involved in her grandchildren’s lives, I know this has to be hard on all of them.

I haven’t been able to go see my father.

I can’t help either of them.

I can’t help but think….what if…

and I can’t help but feel worried, sad, and guilty.

 

When you have times when you can’t help others who you love, how do you handle it?

I shouldn’t feel guilty for being sick, but at times like this, I do.  Well, I feel guilty that my sister has to shoulder all of this on by herself.  I feel guilty that I can’t even be there to hold my father’s hand.  And I feel guilty that I felt better today than I have since I can remember.

After days of having vertigo constantly, yes I had 2 days of rotational vertigo that went on every single second, I woke up feeling amazing today.

I had a really good day…..it’s hard when I think about what my family is going through.

 

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Migraines kept me away…let’s talk about it

It’s very hard for me to start writing again after I have been away for so long.  Especially after I wrote 2 posts that I am very proud of right before I had to go away.  Why did I go away?  Because my symptoms have been worse than usual.  Specifically my migraines.

Me with Migraine and Minor Vertigo...by w holcombe

Me with Migraine and Minor Vertigo                    by w holcombe

I won’t go into a lot of detail about what happened to me specifically.  Let’s just say, my migraines have been off the charts.  Lights hurt, Sounds hurt, Smells hurt….yes – Smells Hurt!  I’ve spent many days in the dark, without my cochlear implants on, filled with medication to make it so I wouldn’t throw up  (it didn’t always work), and some days I had to wear a mask to help keep out any smells that were coming in (and we keep our house as scent free as possible).  I’ve also had a lot of Migraine Associated Vertigo (MAV), or Vestibular Migraine, during this time. (you can read more about MAV on the Vestibular Disorders Association Site…just click here.)   I have chronic migraines.  Having chronic migraines means you have at least 15 migraines a month for at least 3 months a year.  (normally, you have migraines more days than you don’t)

A lot of people think migraines are “just a headache”, they aren’t.  So I’d like to take a little time to talk about migraines.

Headache migraines are moderate to severely painful, get worse with physical activity, are throbbing and often worse on one side, cause a sensitivity to light, sound, smell and last 4-48 hours (or more) without treatment.  If you have any of these symptoms, please talk to your doctor.  You do not have to have all of these symptoms to be classified with migraines, you can have a few.  There are also different types of migraines.  You might want to learn a bit about the different types of migraines…there is a list..here…with definitions and all that kind of stuff.

All the information I am sharing below comes from The American Migraine Foundation you can find out much more information there.

  • Migraine is an inherited neurological disorder.
  • One in 4 households has a member with a migraine disorder.
  • Migraine is 3 times more common in women than men, and will affect 30% of women over a lifetime.
  • The World Health Organization places migraine as one of the 20 most disabling medical illnesses on the planet.  Chronic migraines are even more disabling.  Yet it is almost impossible to get disability due to migraines.  If you have another condition and you can add migraines to it, they might listen to you, but when I filed, they were hesitant to even mention my migraines, even though they are extremely disabling.
  • Those with migraine are more likely to have depression, anxiety, sleep disorders, other pain conditions, and fatigue.
  • There is no cure for migraine. Treatments are aimed at reducing headache frequency and stopping individual headaches when they occur.  And constantly trying to find the right medications with the fewest side effects to help with this goal.
  • Prophylactic treatments (to reduce headache frequency) may include avoidance of migraine triggers, medications, physical therapies and behavioral therapies.  This is great if you can figure out your triggers.  Also, if your trigger is weather related, how are you going to avoid that?  I can’t stop the weather from changing.
  • Abortive treatments (taken when a patient has a headache) include over-the-counter pain relievers and prescription medications.  This is great, but you can’t take too many of these because they will cause medication overuse headaches (rebound headaches).  See more information below.  I am constantly aware of this and often afraid to take medication even though I’m in severe pain because I don’t want to go through withdrawal symptoms.
  • Prophylactic medications reduce headache frequency by 1/2 in only about 40% of patients who take these medications.  And the 60% just suffer??
  • Medication side effects often limit the use of migraine medications.  Oh yes.  I know this very well.  Severe itching, causing severe stomach pain, heart palpitations, constipation, diarrhea, tingling in my extremities, a change in what things taste like (the last two I put up with until the medication stopped working), Rocesea, low blood pressure…..It’s kind of scary sometimes isn’t it?

I only just touched on the surface of migraines.  There are many different types of migraines.  I haven’t even talked about all the symptoms I have.

I would like to talk a little bit more about the treatments.

Many of us cannot get the amount of medication we need each month because our insurance will only cover a certain amount.  Insurance companies will often only allow only 9 pills of triptans per month, this is an abortive medication.  Sometimes I have to take 2 when I have a migraine.  That would only cover 4.5 migraines.  If it covered 9 migraines that wouldn’t be as bad, but if you need to take 2 for a migraine, you are in big trouble.  This medication works best if you take it as soon as you feel a migraine coming on.  Everyone I know always waits until they absolutely have to take it because they don’t want to waste those pills.  This is so sad.  Ideally we don’t have to take more than 9 abortive medications in a month, but that is in an ideal world.  Of course, taking to many will cause medication overuse headaches….discussed below.

It’s best if you have a preventative medication, this will reduce or eliminate most of your migraines, if it worksUnfortunately, we haven’t found a preventative medication that works for me.  I have had some work for a while, then they stop.  We are constantly trying new things.  Until then, I’m afraid to take my medication, until I know my migraine is to the point I can’t deal with it on my own.  And that is often too late for the drug to work properly.  It’s a Catch 22.

We also have to worry about Medication Overuse Headaches, formerly known as Rebound headaches. Defined by the Mayo Clinic Rebound headaches (medication-overuse headaches) are caused by regular, long-term use of medication to treat headaches, such as migraine. Pain relievers offer relief for occasional headaches. But if you take them more than a couple of days a week, they may trigger rebound headaches.

It appears that any medication taken for pain relief can cause rebound headaches, but only if you already have a headache disorder. Pain relievers taken regularly for another condition, such as arthritis, have not been shown to cause rebound headaches in people who never had a headache disorder.”

For extensive information on Rebound Headaches,  The Migraine Trust has a great article titled Medication Overuse, it if very informative.  If you have headaches of any kind, and find yourself reaching for medication more than 10 days a month, I encourage you to read this article.  This can also include the use of caffeine.

Another issues migrainers face is that we are often labeled drug seekers.  I can’t even take narcotics.  I have had a migraine that has been so bad I couldn’t see and was throwing up, but would not go to the ER, because I know how so many friends have been treated so poorly there.  They have put them aside and just tell them they aren’t going to give them any drugs.  I don’t want narcotics.  There are specific migraine medications that I want.  Luckily, my doctor has taught my husband how to give me those shots so I have them at home.  I’m in the minority, I’m a very lucky patient.  I am able to see a neurologist who specializes in headaches.  There are very few of these doctors.  Most people with migraines have to go to a neurologist who see people with many types of neurological conditions, my doctor is very specialized.  All she does is headaches.  It’s great.  She is working very hard to get my headaches under control.

There is a great infographic that gives wonderful information on Migraines here, and another on Chronic Migraines here.

That’s all I have to tell this time around.   I have a lot more I’d like to share….not about migraines, at least not right away *smiles*, I hope I can come back very soon.

If I don’t get back before tomorrow…oh who am I kidding, I’m not going to get back before tomorrow….

I wish you all a Happy Thanksgiving!  And I want you all to know how very Thankful I am for you.  You are pretty darn special to me.

Finally I understand….they really aren’t bad people.

I wrote this a few days ago, but did hit enter.  I wanted to read over it and make adjustments….but I had a vertigo attack..and another, and another.  I’ve been having many vertigo attacks since November 1st.  They come on fast and the spinning is very fast.  They last anywhere from 30 minutes to 3 hours.  Yesterday I had 6 of them.  I can’t be on the computer very often the rare occasions when I can.  I can’t read much.  I don’t know if this is Meniere’s or Migraine Associated Vertigo, or a combination.  My guess is a combination.  We have calls in to both my doctor at Duke and the doctor here….yes the doctor here….I’m desperate…and read below you will understand why I’m giving him another chance.

So I don’t know when I’ll be back.  and I didn’t read this over.  thank you all for supporting and hanging in there with me.  You are the best!

So the people at Charlotte Eye Ear Nose and Throat are not so very horrible.  Stuart talked to the head of the Audiology department today.  She said that the doctor I saw has spoken to her twice about making an exception to see me.  Shockers!  Also there seems to be a pretty good reason for them to not see people from different clinics.  They don’t get paid for it.  Yep, it’s in their contract that they don’t get paid for MAPping cochlear implants that they didn’t implant.  Sad.  (for those of you scratching your head right now thinking, what on earth is MAPping? It mainly means when the audiologist adjust the CI’s so you can hear better…but here’s a link to nice explanation with more detail, if you are interested.  It is in easy to understand terms to don’t worry. Mapping a Cochlear Implant).

The audiologist then told Stuart that they made an exception in 2 cases, if it was a hardship for someone to go back to the place they had their CI surgery done, or if they couldn’t travel that far because of a physical problem.  She said, in my case it is both.  Because of the Meniere’s it is a hardship because I can’t drive and I have to depend on getting someone else to drive me.  I am also physically unable to ride that far because of the herniated disc, and because of the vertigo.  So, they are going to see me at this office!

I really wish they had told me this before.  I do understand they they don’t want everyone to know there are exceptions because then people would be trying to bend the rules.  However, if they had just told me they didn’t get paid, I would have understood.  That would have made me very understanding.  I feel horrible that they don’t get paid.  I do not feel right taking advantage of them.  If I only have to see them once a year or so, we will just pay them for the visit.  If I have to go numerous times, I will try to go back to Duke.  Right now, I really need to have this done, and I can’t afford to pay for the visit.  I am so very thankful that they are willing to help me.

My suggestion to them in the future…explain to the patient that they don’t get paid.  I sure wouldn’t have thought they had awful business practices if they had told me that.

On a not so good note.  Well, first a good thing…I woke up on Halloween…No vertigo.  Yay!   By late that night I had a little.  It decided to come back faster than before.  I fell like its toying with me.  Oh my goodness it has not been fun, if I move my head I get sick to my stomach.  I have a headache all the time because I have to concentrate so hard to focus.  Then night before last….major attack!  Dang!  I didn’t handle this well.  Mindfulness…yeah I’m not doing well.  My brain is not staying in this moment.  I keep thinking, what if it doesn’t stop.  After all this slow stuff has been going on for a while now.  I can’t stop my brain from saying building up these stories.  It’s harsh.  And it is making it worse.  Last night I had a little bit more than a mini attack but not a major attack.  I handled it better, and got it to slow down.  I’m just so sad about it.

I’m working on a lot of self care.  Eating well, pampering myself a bit, reading things that make me happy, watching good things on TV, reaching out to people I know give me good advice or just make me feel good, getting good sleep, and enough rest.  Making sure I take my medication on schedule.  Keeping a routine as much as possible.  This is very important.  If I don’t do these things I know I could slip into a deep depression.  I know this because I’m biploar.  But this is important for anyone.  Especially those of us with chronic illnesses.  We can get sick easily when we are under stress, we have to take care of ourselves, and when life hands us some extra challenges we have to be diligent about taking care of ourselves.

I also have to rest more…that may mean taking a nap, or just resting more.  I need to meditate more….now during these times I won’t be able to quiet my mind.  I know that.  and that is ok.  I will just sit quietly, and breathe.  As a thought comes up I will acknowledge it and tell it to move along…I will probably be doing that the whole time…and that is ok.  It will still do me some good, and I’m sure I will feel better.  I need to not give in to my impulse to eat more, especially junk.  Yes, when I get upset, I want junk.  I can’t do that to myself.  Just as I can’t drink or do drugs.  I have to stay as healthy as I can to keep my depression at bay.

So I’m off to do some reading that makes me laugh.

Just wanted to share this great news!

Hubby decided we needed to celebrate.    Dinner tonight…Steak with roasted green beans and new potatoes.  And for desert….a parfait made with bananas, berries, Greek yogurt, walnuts and a touch of maple syrup.  Double yum!   (Ok, so I have that desert often.  It’s really good and good for me!  I feel good knowing I’m taking care of me.)

GRATITUDES in abundance this week!

I’m fickle!  The name Attitude of Gratitude isn’t going to stick.  I didn’t like the attitude part.  Just recognizing that we have things to be grateful for is the most we can strive for sometimes, so my weekly posts will simply be called GRATITUDES!   (I realize this isn’t really a proper word, but I like it!  It has a bit of an, shall I say, Attitude!  ha!  Feeling a big cheeky today aren’t I?)  Now, on with the GRATITUDES!

I have so much to be grateful for this week!

Not to say that there haven’t been challenges, but this post is going to focus on the many things that I am so very GRATEFUL for!

Hubby is working!!!  This week Stuart started a part-time contract position.  It is a position that he is very excited about, doing something that he wants to do.  The company is new, so it’s not full-time, yet, and we don’t know when it will be.  There is more about this that I will tell later…..right now, I just want to say…..I am so grateful that my husband has a job, and it’s a job he is excited about.

My father’s tumor is GONE!  My father was diagnosed with liver cancer this winter.  He has been undergoing chemoembolization treatments.  He went in for tests on Thursday, before setting up his final treatment, and there was no tumor to be found!  He will need no further treatments.  He does have to go back in a few months for an MRI just to be sure, but all looks great.  I’m amazed at this treatment.  Each treatment he has gone in, had the chemo delivered straight to the tumor, and has gone home the next day.  He feels icky for a couple of days and then he’s fine.  He had 3 treatments.  He says he feels great, just old.  : )   Also said, he wants to lose 10 pounds, and he’s thrilled he still has all his hair!  How many 81-year-old men can say that?  I’m so grateful my father’s cancer is gone.

Baby Bunnies

Baby Bunnies

Baby Bunnies Safe.  Stuart was mowing the lawn this week and uncovered a nest of Baby Bunnies!  He was so upset.  He just fretted over these poor little things.  He actually mowed right over them!  They didn’t really move, acted like they didn’t really notice.  He covered them with an upside down flower-pot.  Then he asked me about it.  He thinks since I grew up in the country I know everything about all woodland animals and plants.  I know a little…like the fact that baby bunnies are called kittens, and they have their babies in a nest, but that’s about it.  So off to the internet!  He was afraid mama bunny was going to abandon babies.  He found out that the mama only visits during the night a couple of times to feed the babies.  It said to cover them with loose grass or straw, we had dried corn husk so he put that over them.  It said if there was any sign that there was any digging around then she had been there and all was good. (He saw digging, and the second night, he even saw mama bunny, he was so relieved!) Since the ears are up, and eyes are open, these bunnies are about the go on their way all by themselves.  I told Stuart he was a good Bunny Daddy.  He said NO, he wasn’t their daddy.  I said, Step Daddy….he looked, shook his head and said….Foster Dad.   I liked that.   Bunnies are safe, and the nest is just right outside our back door.   Might be a good thing we don’t have a garden this year.   (our back yard does back up to woods so these bunnies will have a perfect place to grow up.)   I’m so grateful that the bunnies are safe, and that my husband has such a kind and compassionate heart.

I had a BATH complete with washing hair and shaving legs – this may sound like a little thing to many, but this is a VERY BIG DEAL FOR ME!  I have a very hard time taking baths and showers.  Showers are worse than baths for me.  I have to stand in a shower, the only thing helping me stay stable is my feet and my hands on the walls.  If my hands are on the walls how am I supposed to wash myself?  So stability is not very good.  Falling is very easy.  Shower has equaled many disasters.  (I have tried a shower chair, it was not a success.) I can only take a shower if Stuart is with me, unfortunately this is not nearly as much fun as it used to be!  (darn)  A bath is easier, but still a challenge.  This week I did it!  I will tell you all a little secret.  This is the first time I’ve washed my hair in 6 weeks.  Yep.  That’s right.  I washed my hair the week right before my Walmart expedition.  Then I had weeks of having vertigo on and off and constant disequilibrium, I couldn’t wash my hair during that time.  My personal hygiene consisted of washing up at the sink or sponge baths.  Therefore, I am very grateful that I was able to take a bath, wash my hair, and shave my legs!!!

More things I’m grateful for this week!

dandelions

Flowers my hubby brought me when I couldn’t go outside.

CIMG3324

Blue skies I could see from my window. Grateful I could still enjoy the blue sky even if I was too dizzy to go down the stairs.

CIMG3341

Grateful my husband can cook, and made such a wonderful meal! Yummy, Orange glazed Cornish hen with quinoa and roasted asparagus. (no we don’t eat like this every night.)

CIMG3331

Grateful Max still likes to play, and spends a lot of time with me when I don’t feel like doing much. Loving this picture, showing so many of his extra toes!

That’s it for this week.

Some major things to be grateful for, and a few things I’m grateful for that some people probably wouldn’t notice.

What are your GRATITUDES this week?

DENIED!

 

Disability Knocks

Disability Knocks

Yes, I know MOST people are denied disability the first time they apply, but this is the first time I’ve heard this crazy reason!

I was found to be DISABLED….Yes!

But was Denied because I waited so long to file.  What?So what is too long?  I had to be disabled before 2010.   Again, What?  My disability date was November of 2009!  So what are they reading?  And how can you screw up that bad?

So the appeal has been started.  We do have a lawyer who is taking the case, and she is kind of scratching her head asking….What?? too.  This time I will have witnesses as to when my vertigo actually started interfering with my work.  The disability date I used before was the date I had the vestibular testing, since that’s a requirement for Meniere’s to be considered a disability.  However, in 2002 or 2003…I’ll have to look it up…I started having severe vertigo, was sent to the emergency room.  I was managing a Custom Frame Shop at the time, can we say Dangerous?  I was found on the floor in the frame shop in full spin, another time I made it to the bathroom and was in there for close to 3 hours throwing up.  Fellow employees from a different part of the store had to take me home more than once.  We had to close the frame shop many times.  I had to quit because of my health.

There are more stories like this…soooo, they denied my disability claim that started in late 2009, now they may find out I was disabled before that, and they have to pay from the date of disability.  Think it would have been better if they had just approved it the first time.

Even if I had not worked within the given time, it’s not fair to be denied.  I was lucky, my husband made enough money that I didn’t need disability, but times have changed.  I need this now.  I should have filed earlier, but I didn’t.  Now, I’m being punished for not taking money from the government when I didn’t need it.

So as I said before….What???

Filing Disabilty

We finally filed the paperwork for disability, and two days later I got a packet wanting more information about how my illness(es) limit my activities.

This entire process has taken so much out of me, it is so depressing.  I do not think of myself as being so dependent and disabled as i really am.  Writing it out is taking its toll on my psyche, and making me very scared about hubby taking on more responsibility outside of the home.

I was just filling out the papers and it asked what I could no longer do because of my illness that I used to do.  It gave me one line.  Really?  One line?  I realized I could probably write a book!  I listed some of the most important things and then said there were way too many things to list in that area.  I should probably add a new page.

When I think about it, the question should be, what can I do now that I could before.  I used to do be able to do more than I do now.  Now, I spend most of my time in bed.  That needs to change, even if I just go to the couch.  But the headaches are happier in a dark room, and my bedroom has been made dark, no other room is.  I can still type on the computer…well some days.  Some days, like recently, I’ve been having low-grade vertigo for days.  I have been having a heck of a time.  Every day I feel like I can’t move my head, things move, just not very fast.  In the evenings it gets worse, much worse.  (perhaps my Intracranial Hypertension meds need to be adjusted?…who knows.

The paper asked me if I have any unusual fears or behaviors.   Wow!  That got to me.  I actually had to admit my fears.  My fears that I will have an attack in public, my fears that an attack will hit any time (of course these fears are very justified).

The Bath by cristalart at deviantArt.com

The Bath by cristalart at deviantArt.com

But then there is the fear of taking a shower or bath…yes, I am absolutely terrified every time I have to bathe or shower.  I’ve had an attack in both places, I never feel steady in either place, and I’m simply scared.  I can’t be in either without someone (Stuart) in the bathroom with me, often in the bath or shower with me.  Washing my hair is the worst.  Having the water on my head, the temperature change, my head goes crazy.  It doesn’t seem to make a difference if my hair is long or short, it is hard.  At least when it’s long I can go longer between shampoos, I can just put it up in a pony tail and no one knows.  (luckily I have dry hair).  I normally wash up at the sink, and when I can’t do that because of my wonky head, I use wipes.  Still, I miss my lovely baths.  I used to relax and enjoy a bath.  I’d light candles, read, or just soak.  It helped my sore muscles and it made me feel pampered.  Now, I’m embarrassed because I’m a bundle of nerves and crying just thinking about the fact that I need to take a bath.

Many days I’m afraid to get out of bed.  I will wake up and I’m just not sure.  OK, I feel like I could, but do I risk it.  The last couple of weeks have been vertigo attack after vertigo attack, I hate to be unprepared for an attack, and it’s easier to ride out in my bedroom.

I’m not trying to sound pitiful.  I don’t want that.  I am trying hard to make things better, and I have had a few decent days.  Yes!  Celebrate the good days!!!  It has just been hard writing down all my limitations.  It’s also hard telling them, well sometimes I can do this, and other times I can do this, but most of the time I can’t do most of it.  However, I do hope it gets better.  I even said that in the paperwork.  I do hope I will be able to do more, but I know I will always have severe limitations.

Funny thing….when they asked what I used to do that I can’t do now, I just realized I didn’t say “Hear”.  Ummm, you would think that would be the first thing I thought of…but no..?

But that’s another story.

Invisible Illness Week – 30 things you may not know…

September 10 -16 is National Invisible Awareness Week – If you’d like to get involved check out the official site

30 things about my illness you may not know.

(warning, some answers may give too much information, but it’s not detailed)

See, I don’t look sick. This photo was taken in 2009, right before my first ear surgery.

  1. The illness I live with is:  The main illnesses I live with are Meniere’s, chronic Migraines, Bipolar I disorder, and chronic hip and pelvic pain.  If you are interested in my other illnesses please see the the tab above titled The Ants That Bite.
  2. I was diagnosed with it in the year:  I don’t remember any more.  I think I was diagnosed with Meniere’s in 2001, Migraines (I’m not really sure, I’ve had doctors tell me on and off since my teens that I have migraines, but they became chronic in my late 20’s…I’m 49 now), chronic hip pain and pelvic pain – they haven’t figured out what is causing all the pain, so no diagnosis.  Bipolar I – 1990 then was told they were wrong – re-diagnosed in 1994.
  3. But I had symptoms sinceMeniere’s – the first attack I remember was in 1993.  Migraines – the first one I remember, I was 11.  The pelvic pain – in my early 30’s,  in the mid 1990’s.  The hip pain – 2008. Bipolar – in my teens.
  4. The biggest adjustment I’ve had to make is:  These are a few major ones for me….  Losing my hearing.  Not being able to drive.  Not seeing my friends like I used to.  Realizing that I will never be cured.  Not being able to have a sex life without pain.  (but I’ve dealt with, or am dealing with all of these.  They will not keep me down.)
  5. Most people assume:  I can do much more than I can, after all, I don’t “look” sick.  And some assume I use my illness to get out of social situations, but honestly I hate being so solitary
  6. The hardest part about mornings are:  Never knowing what the day will bring.  I often wake up with a blinding headache, I know what that day will bring.  But if I wake up feeling decent I never know if I’ll continue to feel that way, or if I’ll be hit with a Meniere’s attack or Migraine.  However, I try to make the most out of every day.
  7. My favorite medical TV show is: Ummm, funny, I used to watch some medical TV shows, but I don’t any longer.  I think I see too much of the medical community in person.
  8. A gadget I couldn’t live without is:  I suppose I could “live” with out most gadgets, but there are some I wouldn’t want to!  My Cochlear Implant, I can hear so much more now. My laptop -so many of my friends are in there!
  9. The hardest part about nights areTrying to sleep, and trying to stay asleep.  Fear.  Fear of having an attack just as I’m falling asleep (this happens more than I’d like to admit), fear of waking up with a blinding headache……However, each night before I sleep I acknowledge my gratitude for the day, and plan what I’d like to do the next day.  I always have hope I will have a good day, and if I don’t I still know I’ll get something out of it.
  10. Each day I take __ pills & vitamins. (No comments, please)    18 daily (this included the total number, not different medications), 5 as needed, 4 vitamins daily, and one B12 shot a week.
  11. Regarding alternative treatments I have tried many, including chiropractic, acupuncture, certain vitamin routines….  I found medical massage helps my migraines and hip pain a lot.  I also use a special diet to treat gluten and fructose intolerance.
  12. If I had to choose between an invisible illness or visible I would choose: I don’t think anyone would choose to have an illness, but I’ll deal with the hand I’ve been dealt. 
  13. Regarding working and career:  I don’t work.  I don’t have a career.  Takes a lot out of conversations with others.  My doctor suggested I look into filing for disability, but I haven’t done it yet.
  14. People would be surprised to know:  I often don’t wash my hair for a month or more.  Water on my head is a trigger for me, especially if I have to close my eyes.  Luckily, my hair is pretty dry, and it’s long so I just tie it back.
  15. The hardest thing to accept about my new reality has beenThere are a lot of times I have to say” I can’t” or “no” to people…and to myself.  Losing most of my independence.  Not being able to drive.  And not being able to have a normal sex life.
  16. Something I never thought I could do with my illness that I did was:  Find the positive.  Become my own advocate.  Fire a doctor.
  17. The commercials about my illness:  The only one of my illnesses I’ve seen commercials for is Migraines.  Commercials are always drug companies wanting you to talk to your doctor about their drug.  I’m not comfortable with this, and normally the side effects they list are pretty scary.
  18. Something I really miss doing since I was diagnosed is:  I miss being able to go places alone.  (the answer to this question changes often, but right now, not being able to go anywhere alone is very difficult.)
  19. It was really hard to have to give up:  My hearing.  Even with technological help, I have a cochlear implant (CI) and a hearing aid, it is still very hard to hear at times.  I know my hearing with the CI will get better, but it has been very hard to loose all my hearing in one ear, and almost all of it in the other.  Without technology, I can’t hear anything.
  20. A new hobby I have taken up since my diagnosis is: Blogging. Reading a lot!  I’ve always liked to read, but now it’s almost an obsession.  (thank you to Kym for my Kindle!   Oh. another gadget I wouldn’t want to live without.)
  21. If I could have one day of feeling normal again I would:  I would be so very thankful!!  Then I’d spend a day pampering my husband, in and out of bed.  ; )
  22. My illness has taught me:  To be my own advocate.  To be more tolerant…I thought I was tolerant before, but I realize I needed a wake up call on that one.  That I’m not alone….this one relieves me because I needed to feel that someone understood, but it makes me so sad that others have to go through what I have.  And that I can handle much more than I ever thought I could.
  23. Want to know a secret? One thing people say that gets under my skin is: Any form of, telling me I’ll get better.  “When you get better….”,  “You will beat this….”   NO, I won’t.  This doesn’t go away.  I may be able to find something to make it more tolerable, but it will never go away.  And often treatments that work, stop working.   I also hate it when people say, “You don’t deserve this”  I know they are trying to be kind….but I never thought I deserved this!  And one more….”But you look so good.
  24. But I love it when people:  Tell me how they are doing, want my opinion, want to talk to me as a friend…..Don’t get me wrong, I don’t mind if someone asks about my illness, if they are interested and want to know more about it.  But, sometimes I feel like people forget I’m anything more than my illness.
  25. My favorite motto, scripture, quote that gets me through tough times is: This may not be the life I expected, so I’m changing my expectations.   I don’t know if this is a quote or anything, it’s simply something I thought one day and it has helped me through accepting a lot of things that have had to change.
  26. When someone is diagnosed I’d like to tell them:  Often people who have been recently diagnosed find my blog and it scares them, so I start off telling people:  Everyone’s journey with Meniere’s is different.  Most do not get to the stage I’m at, so please don’t think you are going to lose your hearing….or any number of things I’ve been though.  I’m in the very rare group.  I let them know there are many treatments to keep Meniere’s under control, and point them to sites and other bloggers who can give a different perspective.  Most importantly, I assure them, they are not alone.  They can contact me any time, and there are online groups.
  27. Something that has surprised me about living with an illness is:  That my husband and I have gotten even closer.  Thank you to our therapist, I think having to go to a therapist about all of this surprised me too.  I was not handling losing my independence very well, and hubby wasn’t communicating very well.  But by going to a therapist we began to communicate out needs much easier, and recognize our needs.  Another big surprise is that people will reach out to me.  I’m very surprised that I’ve touched people, and made some honest friendships with people I’ve never met.
  28. The nicest thing someone did for me when I wasn’t feeling well was:  (This does not include things my husband does for me)  Come to visit me.  It doesn’t happen often, but I do enjoy other people’s company.  I hate that I often have to cancel when someone wants to do something with me.  I’m already so isolated, and if I have to cancel people often think I don’t want to see them, or I’m just too much trouble.  I don’t blame them, most of my friends have families, and they have to work their schedule around a lot of things.  So missing a visit makes it harder to make plans the next time.
  29. I’m involved with Invisible Illness Week because:   Because I have more than one. Some people I love and care about have invisible illnesses.  We need to let people know we are still people, but don’t judge us by how we look.
  30. The fact that you read this list makes me feel:  That you care, and maybe you understand some things about me you didn’t before.