Quick update…much more to come

I’m tired.

I sat down to write this and all I can think is, “I’m tired”.  Hell, I’d say I’m pretty exhausted, and I still have so much to do.  Just praying I can accomplish much more before I completely collapse.

On the 23rd the movers came and packed up our house to move us from North Carolina to Arizona.  We started our trek across the country the next day.  We had planned to take it slow, drive about 4-5 hours a day, as long as we got there sometime this week we thought that would be fine.  After the second day we got word that our stuff would be arriving in Tucson on Tuesday (the 29th), if we drove 8 hours a day for the next couple of days we would be there in time.  It wasn’t a huge deal if we weren’t there when everything arrived, we had people who could take care of it for us, but I could tell that the thought of us not being there when they unloaded was stressing Stuart a little, so we decided to make it happen.  We arrived the afternoon of the 28th, and our stuff arrived at 8:30am the next day.

The trip here was pretty uneventful, just a few little things bare mentioning.  For most of the trip I had a stomach ache.  Gastritis was hitting me hard.  I could only handle bland food.  That’s a little challenging when you are driving across the country with a little dog and have an allergy to wheat.  I ate a lot of oatmeal and baked potatoes.  One night I did venture out and had steamed chicken and broccoli with rice…no sauce, and I did okay with it.  I’m happy to say that my stomach calmed down now after we got here, I even had a piece of pizza.  The pain in my stomach was so bad the first day that I seriously considered going to the ER, but I just had an endoscopy done and it only showed gastritis, so I was pretty sure it was just flaring.  (Gastritis is a general term for a group of conditions with one thing in common: inflammation of the lining of the stomach.)  I have been wondering why my stomach hurt so much on this trip and the only thing that I can think of that was different was that I stopped taking turmeric last week.  (I know you are all thinking, stress, but I have been under a lot of stress the past month and I haven’t had a stomach ache)  I’d been taking tumeric for months (maybe a year) for inflammation, but I wasn’t sure it was doing much.  Now I’m beginning to think it was reducing the inflammation in my stomach.  I started taking it again last weekend, and I haven’t had issues since.

I must admit the pain caused me to be one irritable cranky bi…umm…witch.  Things that normally wouldn’t phase me in the slightest were suddenly getting on my nerves something awful.  Yes, the stress of moving did not help.  I was feeling a bit emotional about leaving the Southeast.  It just seems a bit final.  I simply don’t know if I’ll see some of those people ever again, I’m not dwelling on it, but it makes me sad.  And not knowing what to expect with Stuart’s stepmom was also probably contributing to the stress.  I really hate that word.  I hate that just normal day things that we have to deal with can cause so many physical symptoms. Stress is not always a bad thing, but it can do havoc on your body.  And I hate it when a doctor tells me that “it’s stress”, argh!

So the trip was good except for my tummy ache and being a grump.

On the 29th the movers delivered our stuff and I saw the house for the first time.

When I walked up to the house a hummingbird came right up to me, I took it as a sign that this is a good place. (both my and Stuart’s mom loved hummingbirds, I have a couple of meaningful hummingbird encounters, I may share those on another day)  The house has a good feeling about it.  The house is old and small, but it’s well taken care of, and it has an amazing yard.  Not the kind of yard you have in the Southeast, but a cool Southwest yard.  It also has a pool.  I’m so excited about that!  Oh, I’ll post pictures soon, I’ll show you everything!

After the movers left we went and had lunch with Stuart’s dad and Margaret.  It was the first time I’ve seen her since the accident.  I wasn’t sure what to expect so I prepared myself for the worst.  She is still a dear sweet woman whom I adore; but she had no recollection of meeting me before, or knowing anything about me.  I didn’t expect her to, so I wasn’t disappointed.  I was pleased that she remembered Stuart was here last month, that was nice.  She may not remember that tomorrow, but she remembered it today.  We had a pleasant lunch, then it was time for us to leave and she became agitated.  She is convinced they are trying to poison her.  You see, she doesn’t like to take her medication, so they put it in applesauce to give it to her, but she tasted it.  It was that taste that made her start believing they were trying to poison her.  I’m told she calms down fast and she won’t remember that, but it affected me.  She was very happy for the rest of the visit, she talked and talked. She made the comment that she likes everything.  When I simply smiled when she said, “No really, I just like everything.  Well, I don’t like someone right up in my face waving their hand, but mostly I like everything.”  (this was before the poisoning episode)

She is so in love with John (Dad).  When he walks in she lights up, and runs over to him and hugs him and kisses him.  It’s so wonderful.  They are still so much in love.  He is a very good husband.  Tonight Stuart was telling me that they don’t know if she’ll continue to remember him.  She has lost most of her short term memory and it keeps encroaching on every day.  She will start forgetting those she has not for the least amount of time; Dad and she have only been married for 7 years so she could start forgetting him in the not too distant future.  The longer she has known someone the longer she will remember them, she may not remember their correct age; for example she may think her son is her husband, because if fits with she is in her memory.  It makes me sad.  They are so much in love.  Dad once told Stuart that as much as he loved Stuart’s mom, Margaret was his soulmate; it breaks my heart that they had so little time together.

Margaret does seem to enjoy the time we spend together.  She just talks and talks, about anything and nothing, but some of her stories are quite entertaining.  I enjoy talking with her, my only problem with that is that I can’t hear a lot of what she says; I follow her body language and mimic it, that seems to be enough for her, but I really wish I could hear her better.  I don’t know if I can be with her alone if I can’t hear it well, I may not understand that she needs assistance before she gets agitated.

I started writing this last week, but we had a time getting out internet connected, the cable company isn’t in much of a hurry to send technicians out to a house to get them turned on so I couldn’t finish it.  For some reason, the WordPress app wouldn’t let me do anything on my own blog.  I couldn’t even comment of a post.  And the last reason I haven’t been able to post is that I haven’t been able to type very easily.

20180606_163102-collage

getting the steroid injection in my wrist….at least my doctor was super cute.

Right before we left my right wrist started hurting and my thumb was partially numb.  Just exactly like how the De Quervain’s tendinosis in my left wrist.  That is pretty strange; it’s not acutually that strange for people who have had it, but it’s alson normally found in women who have babies.  The act of repeatedly picking up a child can cause it, but me?  Why am I getting this?  I have no idea what I’m doing, I thought I’d figured out what cause it in my left wrist, but now I’m not too sure.  Well, I got a shot in it on Wednesday, crossing fingers it works and I don’t have to have further treatment.  So that’s the reason’s I haven’t been posting about this adventure.  Well those and being incredibly busy.

I’ll write more about where we are living now soon.,,,With more pictures.

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Time for “Us”

wendy-and-stuart-anniversary-12

This past Saturday was our 12th anniversary.  With my husband being my caregiver it is hard to find days where we can find time for just us without my illnesses playing a major part.  Saturday was one of those rare days.

Recently I’ve been feeling pretty darn good.  I have my days of not feeling well, my balance will be way off, and I’ll topple a lot, but for the most part I haven’t had any major vertigo attacks.  That’s huge for me.  I had a few days last week where I just didn’t feel good.  I was afraid I wouldn’t be able to spend our anniversary out of my recliner.  But I was surprised.  I woke up feeling good, so we headed out for a day of adventure.

We had a few plans for the day.  Stuart asked me what I wanted to eat on our special day and I wanted crab legs.  So we found this little restaurant that is on a small lake.  I love being close to water.  I was such a happy girl when we were sitting there on the water I teared up.  After our wonderful lunch we walked around the lake and watched the ducks.  We took pictures and just enjoyed ourselves.  We then went out of frozen yogurt.  The whole day we flirted like teenagers.  It was such a good day, but it wasn’t over.

We stayed in a hotel for the night.  It had a big whirlpool tub, and was in the ritzy part of town.  We decided not to go out for dinner we instead went to Whole Foods and loaded up on the Salad bar and went back to our room.  That may not sound romantic but it was so nice to just curl up in bed with my hubby eating salad.  🙂

It was a very romantic day.  We had planned to do more on Sunday but we were both exhausted from our anniversary celebration.  We came home and just vegged.  I slept sooo much.  On Monday I was still paying for our little adventure and felt like I was catching a cold, but by Tuesday I was feeling well again.  Which was great timing as Stuart had Tuesday off and we decided to go back to the boardwalk and just walk around and watch the ducks.  We had ice cream outside enjoying the beautiful weather.  It was a very relaxing afternoon.  Sometimes even though I know I’ll pay the price later the price is worth it.

It is so very important to take the time to spend as much “us” time with your significant other as you can.  My husband is my caregiver.  Even when I’m too sick for days like Saturday (and Tuesday), we try to take some time for us.  We may curl up and watch a movie together, or have a special dinner, just sit and talk…anything that makes things special.  One big thing we do a lot is flirt with each other a lot.  I am not able to follow through on a lot of my overtures but it doesn’t matter, he knows I want to.  That is what is important.  It’s important that even though we can’t be as intimate as we’d like as often as we’d like that we let each other know we’d like to, but it’s okay that we don’t.  It’s okay that we just cuddle, that we are with each other, that we are so in love that not being able to have sex as much as we’d like isn’t going to come between us.  And it makes those special nights in a hotel all the more special. 😉

 

Recurring Grief with Chronic Illness

grief

Recently someone told me, not in these exact words, that they understood I have been though a lot and lost a lot, but I needed to stop pitying myself, I needed to move on.  I don’t feel like I pity myself,  but this hit me hard.

I’ve never said “Why me?”, I’ve always thought, “Why not me?”.   However, I have had a lot of losses, and sometimes it gets to me.  There are things I miss. Does that mean I sit around feeling sorry for myself because I can no longer do them….most of the time No….ummm….sometimes..maybe. Most of the time I’ve come to terms with it, and I’m happy with my life as it is….other times, the grief comes back in a wave that I just can’t control.  I’ve heard the same thing from other people who have chronic illnesses.

I have now read many studies, articles, and books that talk about this, and I found this is normal. (You can refer to the list at the end of the post for some of the material I read, if you want to check it out.)

Often we are handling our situation well, we have accepted the things we’ve lost….then suddenly the grief will hit us again.  Something may happen to spark it.  It could be you were feeling good and suddenly you are having a flare – now you feel horrible again, you just got a new diagnosis to add to your list, a medication you were on stopped working, there is an event that you can’t attend that means so very much to you, you tried to clean the tub and couldn’t….something happens….  Grief comes in waves, it doesn’t end just because you have been dealing with a situation for a long time.  Our grief is discounted.  People do not understand how we must grieve about the things we have lost, and how these losses continue to build up. Or how much we still miss this huge thing we lost. We cant hold this inside, it is not healthy.

When a person loses a loved one, they are expected to grieve. We often think there is something wrong with them if they don’t. We aren’t surprised when years later they still miss the person and sometimes need to cry. Everyone thinks this is normal. The chronically ill often lose huge portions of their life. The life they were living is suddenly taken away, changed forever. We aren’t just sick, but we often lose many things we loved to do, often our jobs, many friends, and a lot of our independence. We’ve lost all of this, but we are expected to bounce back, find a new life, forget what we had. I’m not saying we should sit around and feel sorry for ourselves all the time, but we need to grieve. We may have started a new life, we may be happy, but that doesn’t mean that we don’t have moments when we really miss what we lost.

I recently started having seizures.  This means, at least for a while, I am losing even more of my independence.  My husband is now working from home all but 2 hours a week, and for those 2 hours we are going to have someone come and stay with me.  Now I can’t just make sure someone is in the house when I take a bath in case I start to have vertigo, I need to have someone in the room!  This brought on a huge wave of grief. It brought back everything I lost. So much sadness, and it brought a lot of anger with it too. Of course, that is a stage of grief. I’m beginning to get a grasp on things, but I will need some time yet to grieve. I realized I haven’t really let myself grieve about a lot of my loses, I was so busy trying to be strong.

There is really only a couple of things I long for all the time and those are things that cause me to feel guilt.  Guilt also has a lot to do about letting go of loss.  There are some losses we hang on to because we feel so guilty we can’t do these things any more, this isn’t healthy.  We shouldn’t feel guilty, we are sick.  We can’t help that we can’t do things…but we still feel guilty.  Many of us feel guilty we can’t work. We feel guilty we can’t do things with our families.  Personally, I feel a huge amount of guilt because I can’t cook.  Hubby does so much, he is spread so thin, and he hates to cook.  I have a restricted diet, that makes things even more difficult, I feel so guilty that he has to cook, especially when I loved to do it….but I can’t.  It’s too dangerous.  It breaks my heart every time he has to cook dinner.  I know how much he dreads doing it, and how hard it is for him.  (but he really has become a pretty good cook)

Sometimes we are completely irrational for a while when we are grieving.  For example, I can get so angry with people, I feel so many people abandoned me.  I get so worked up about it and just want to scream.  If someone who normally gets in touch with me hasn’t, I will think they too have abandoned me, and will build up these huge things in my head….then they will get in touch and I’ll say, they did it just because they felt obligated.  Then, it will pass and I will realize my friend who got in touch, loves me and simply had things going on, besides I could have reached out to her. Thanks to mindfulness practice, and Toni Bernhard’s book How To Live Well, with Chronic Pain and Illness, I know that it hurt when people disappeared from my life because they didn’t react to my illness the way I expected them to, not because of what they did.  It’s my expectations that cause the pain.  I don’t know the circumstances, and frankly at this point, it doesn’t matter.  But sometimes, something will happen that will bring back that pain. And I will forget that it’s from my expectations and I just get mad as hell.  ….. And my dear husband hears all about it….then I calm down and let it go and I’m okay again.

The biggest point I’m trying to make it is, it’s okay to have a pity party, as long as it doesn’t last all the time.  It’s okay to grieve what you have lost, over and over again, it’s natural.  It’s okay to have a few things you will always long for….that doesn’t mean you are obsessed with it, it means it was very important to you and you just miss it.

Remember, if you lost a loved one, you would always miss them.  People do not think this is unusual, they do not think this is something we should completely get over.   We lost huge parts of our lives, why are we expected to not miss it?

I highly recommend Toni Bernhard ‘s latest book, How To Live Well, with Chronic Pain and Illness. In it she talks a little about this…check the chapter 35. It helped give me a way to deal with chronic illness. It gave me a lot to think about. Different ways to think about things, how to talk to people about my illness…. and well…I think you will get a lot out of it. Her first book How To Be Sick, I read over and over…. and I think this book is even better.

Greiving Chronic Illness and Injury – Infinite Losses
Experiences of loss and chronic sorrow in persons with severe chronic illness

Middle Range Theory of Chronic Sorrow

Things you CAN do for someone with an invisible illness:  (with special notes about me)

Caring Hands. Photo by w. holcombe

Photo by w. holcombe

OK…I’ll be honest, I don’t know what every chronically ill person wants you to do for them, but I know a lot of chronically ill people now.  Frankly if I didn’t have the chronic community I would be a terribly lonely person.  That is one of the major problems with the chronically ill, especially with people like me who are mostly house bound, we become extremely lonely.  Ah…but that could be a whole other post.

The list below includes things I’ve heard from chronically ill friends, most people I asked said the same kind of things that I thought, most of the things revolve around us being lonely.  Hmmm…  Perhaps that should be a post, huh?

This list starts with suggestions from the list on Indisposed and Undiagnosed blog, if you haven’t read her post on What not to say to someone who is Chronically Ill…don’t forget to jump over there and do it…well..go ahead, it isn’t that long…I’ll be here when you get back…………………………………………………………………………….See…it was worth it wasn’t it??  She’s pretty cool.  I thought you’d like her.

Here’s a list of just a few things….with notes about how it pertains to me.  Of course, this is my blog….who else do you expect to hear about.

Keep in touch with them.

We get lonely.  No matter how well we deal with this new life, it gets lonely.  (a call is great for most)  Just a text or email every a week or two….heck every month.

I can’t talk on the phone…these things would mean the world to me.  A real message on Facebook and not just a .. “wish I could do something”. “hope you are feeling better”…would be great.  Just chat for a moment.  But realize, I do not normally get to talk to anyone other than my husband, so I might talk too much…just tell me you have to go…I more than understand.  Please don’t start to avoid me because you can’t get rid of me.  🙂  Also, if I start to feel ill when we are chatting and I suddenly have to do not take it personally.  I really am getting sick, I am not avoiding you.

We just want contact, it really means the world to us….to me.  If you could just take a moment to drop me a line saying hi…and telling me something that is going on in your life…that would thrill me.

Asking how they are…..(this can be tricky…)

Now, this is a tricky one.  If you really want to know more about their illness and how things are going with their treatment and what is going on….then ask.  But if you just want to know how they are doing that day, then ask that.  Be careful how you word this question, or you may get more information than you want and you might get scared away.  If you are uncomfortable with the information you are hearing, talk to your friend.  Discuss this, try very hard to not let this come between you.

However, please realize that for someone who is chronically ill their illness is often a huge part of their life.  You may have to hear somethings about it.  If not about how they are feeling or treating it, but about their chronic illness friends, how they have become advocates for their illness…ect.   To be friends with someone with a chronic illness is to accept they are still your old friend, but they have a new world too.  The biggest thing is….we are still the same people.  We are not our illness.

If you can deal with it, it would be wonderful if you could just listen sometimes.  Often we have no one to just listen to what we are going through. No one to just talk to….who can just give us a hug.

I have my dear husband, but I don’t want to unload on him all the time.  I have my virtual friends, who I depend on so very much.  However, it would be mean so much if I had a friend I could sit and talk to sometimes, who would just listen. Not try to fix anything, just listen…maybe see me cry…and give me a hug.

Talk to them about your life.

We still love our friends.  We want to know what you are up to.  More than the Facebook updates.  We miss our little chats….gosh I know I do.  I used to be the person my friends came to when they were having problems.  I was the confidant.  I was the person people leaned on.  Now, people don’t want to “bother” me.  I want to be bothered!  I want to feel needed.  I want to be a part of the world….even if I can’t go out in it.  I’m still happy for everything my friends do, I’m not jealous that I can’t do them. (sometimes I miss them, but I’m not jealous) I feel happiness and love every time I hear about wonderful times my friends were able to have…..I know not every chronically ill person feels this way, you have to know your friend.

But mostly for me, I really miss good friendships.  The kind where we just talk easily.  We tell each other what’s going on in our lives and it isn’t judged or rushed or anything.  We just want to be in each others lives.  We depend on each other.

Ask if there is anything they need.

Many chronically ill can’t get out and get just the necessities some times.  I’m lucky I have Stuart.  But I have many chronically ill friends on line who really need help with these things.  Just ask.  It won’t take much to run by the store and pick up some toothpaste or a few groceries…just pick them up when you are getting your things.  It could really mean a lot.  (note, many people are embarrassed to ask for help on this.  It would be really nice to make up a “care-package”.  Next time you visit look around and see what kind of toothpaste they use, shampoo…ect..and grab them some, and make up a package, with some cans of soup or something….how cool would that be??)

For me….I’d really love it if people asked my caregiver what he might need.  And acknowledge what he does….to him, not to me.  I think caregivers are some of the most unrecognized people on earth.  (yes, I should write a post about that too.)

Another thing I need is a ride to places.  I know that is impossible for most of the people I know, since we moved.  But for others out there, many people need a ride to the doctor.  I know way too many people who drive to the doctor when they should not be on the road because they have no one else to drive them.  Or who miss very important appointments because they can’t drive or get anyone to take them.  Stuart had to rearrange his schedule all the time so he can take me to appointments.  No one has any idea how many times I go to appointments.  It is crazy.  Every week there is something….I normally have at least 2 appointments a week.

—  Visit them.

I’d love a visit sometimes.  Unfortunately, sometimes I would have to say no, because I just feel awful, but I’d love it if you kept trying.  I’m alone sooooooo much.  And the only person I really ever see other than my doctors is Stuart.  I treasure seeing people.  Be patient with me though.  If I’m having a very bad hearing day, it is very difficult for me.  I’d love it if I felt well enough that we could get out of the house…of course noise would have to be a factor as to where we could go.

I hate it sounds like I’m putting all of these restrictions on coming to see me…..when I desperately want to see people, I’m just always afraid I’m going to scare people off and they won’t come back.

We moved closer to some people I love very much.  We saw them a bit when we first moved here, now not at all.  I think I’m a bit too much to handle.  Another case of, it would be much easier if I could go to gatherings and such, just be included in things they are doing, but it’s hard to make special arrangements just to see me, especially if it’s just for a little bit.

Including a chronically ill person in your life takes a lot of extra time….I realize that.  It’s okay….just drop me a line, a text…I still love you.

Don’t stop inviting.

When I asked a lot of people what people could do for them…I got this answer.

Please understand that we will often have to decline invitations, we often just won’t be able to show up….but please don’t stop inviting us.  It shows us that you still love us, and want us to be a part of your world.  You still believe we are a part of your world.

We want to be there.   Sometimes we might be able to come…who knows.

If I can’t go, I’d love it if you shared your experience with me sometimes…..show some photos…what a great time we could have just talking about the event I missed.

Offer specific forms of help.

Again, we are often too proud to ask for help.  We also have a very hard time when someone says….”If I can help in any way, let me know.”  Well, I’ll tell you, we probably aren’t going to say anything.

If you really want to help…offer something specific.  Like…”I’m going to the grocery store, can I get you something?”, “Hey, while I’m visiting, how about I throw in a load of laundry for you?”, “Can I make up some freezer meals for you?”  (yeah I know that’s a biggie…but you get the idea)   Offer what you can do.  We won’t ask you to do just anything.  We do not want to put people out.  We have no idea what your idea of “helping in any way” really is.  You see, we already feel like a burden, we aren’t going to burden people even more by asking for things.

For me, and probably for others…you may have to just do things, don’t even ask.   Come over to your friend’s house, and just tell them…you want to clean for them that day….and just do it.   Yes, I might feel a bit uncomfortable, but you know what?  That would go away really quick, because it would mean the world to me.   Or just bring over dinner.  (make sure you find out if the friend now has dietary restrictions)  Cooking is the biggest problem for a lot of people with chronic illnesses.   I know it is around my house, and I have a lot of dietary restrictions now.

Help with the kids.

No I don’t need this one…but many people do.

So….offer to help out with the kid’s.  Give the chronically ill person a break.  Take them for the day, or when you visit, you take all the responsibility for them….anything that will help.

If you have kids, I’m sure you can figure this one out.

Learn about their illness….and believe.

Many times when someone gets chronically ill, especially if it is an invisible illness, people have a hard time believing they are as sick as they are.  It’s sad, but true.

It would be wonderful if you learned something about their illness, and always believe….even if your friend is one of the many who are sick and the doctors can’t figure out exactly what is wrong.  Never doubt they are sick.  Always be supportive….which brings me to the next thing you can do….

—  Be supportive…..care.

Once I wrote a post and in a comment someone wrote at the end…..”I care”  and I burst into tears.  I didn’t know why.  I only knew this woman from our blogs.  But I felt she really did care.  Sometimes you just really need to feel that someone really cares.

Sometimes we really do need someone to just unload on.  I think I handle this illness thing pretty good, most of the time, but then something will happen and it all comes tumbling down….that’s when I really need a friend to just listen.  Not to try to fix things, not to do anything really…but just listen and support me.   Try to understand.   I don’t want pity.  I just want to vent….to a friend.  And have them really listen.

I hope if the situations were reversed I would be there for you.  I know I have been there for people in the past.  Maybe I didn’t stick around as long as I should have.  Maybe I also felt like they had too much on them and didn’t want me to “burden” them….when all the time they felt like a burden.  Maybe I felt like I was in the way, life got just too busy, life got in the way……we are only human, it’s understandable.

I know since I’ve gotten sick I’m much more empathetic to people in need, and sometimes I still don’t always answer emails in a timely fashion.  But I hope I never totally forget to answer one.

 

That’s just a few things that you can do.  I know some are repeated….I think they are important.   I know I’ve left out much.  The main things is….Don’t forget, your friend and loved one is still the person you have always known, they are just a bit different.  No, they can’t do a lot of the things they used to be able to do, they have a whole new dimension to their lives….you loved them before, there is no reason you won’t love them now.  

What You Shouldn’t Say To Someone Who Is Chronically Ill…and why you shouldn’t say them to me.

Shhh... photo by w. holcombe

Shhh…
photo by w. holcombe

I found a wonderful blog called Indisposed and Undiagnosed. (actually she found me first…and I’m so very happy she did!) She wrote a wonderful article about What You Shouldn’t Say To Someone Who Is Chronically Ill.  She has GREAT answers to her questions, and I think everyone should jump right over there and read her post!  She’s a fantastic writer and you will love her answers and suggestions on how to really talk to someone who is chronically ill.

Here’s her suggestions on what not to say….I wanted to list my reasons for why….

10. “It’s just a bad day”

I do have worse days than others….but it’s never, “just a bad day”.  I live with this every single day.  Even on the days I can do more, I live in constant fear that it will be stripped away.  I have to be aware that a severe vertigo attack could hit at any moment, I have to be prepared for the worse.  I know a cluster headache too could take over and have me writhing in pain, praying for death over that pain.  (they aren’t called suicide headaches for nothing!)  I also live with a chronic persistent headache that never goes away.  I’m very grateful for my better days and try to take full advantage of them…but I never have “just a bad day”.

My bad days are severe.  I can’t focus on anything.  The world spins violently.  I throw up…a lot.  I’m often in pain at a level of 9 or10 on a scale of 0-10. My bad days often end up in the ER.  These are not the days I show many people.

9. “Have you tried…” // “You should try…”

Unless you have what I have….please try not to go here.   When you do have what I have, we can compare notes, but normally I’ve tried all of that too.  However, I don’t mind talking about it….unless you are trying to sell me something, or really think what you are telling me is going to “cure” me.  There is no cure.  If you think it might relieve some of my suffering, by all means talk to me…but don’t talk down to me.

I’ve tried so much, you have no idea.  I’ve also had many reactions to things I’ve tried.  And yet, I’m still searching and trying new things.  I have to be careful, I have a lot going on, I am not going to compromise my health by trying something that my doctors don’t okay first.

8. “Come out with me and you’ll feel so much better”

This may be said with the best intentions, but I won’t feel so much better.  I might end up feeling worse. But that isn’t to say that some days I might want to get out.  Some days I really want to go out.  However, you have to be understanding if I say I have to go home…NOW!  And we would only be able to do the most gentle of outings.  In a quiet place…unless you can be very understanding about my hearing.

The thing that I’d much rather hear is…..”Would it make you feel better to get out for a while with me?”

I normally can’t go out and do much.  A visit would often be better, just sitting with me and telling me about your life would be great.

7. “At least you don’t have…”

I used to think like this, but I can’t compare how I am to others.  I am very compassionate to everyone who has any kind of illness….they have their fight…and I have mine.   I was told by my doctor when he diagnosed my vestibular illness… “I think this is one of the worst diseases that I know of that will not kill you.  However, sometimes you will probably wish it would.”   I’m not saying that for pity, it is just the way it is.  No I don’t have certain diseases that can be much worse….and I am very grateful for that.  If I sat around and only thought about…at least I don’t have ______.  It would drive me crazy with guilt for feeling any suffering over my illness, and that would be impossible.  Yet, my illness has made me much more empathetic toward others who are ill.

I must be gentle with myself, I know this is a hard road to live on, and carry on the best I can.

6. “You need to stop being so negative”

I try SO HARD not to be negative.  I try to keep…not so much a positive outlook, but a realistic outlook….and I do not sit around feeling sorry for myself.  I accept how my life is, and try to make the best of it.  Sometimes that is damn hard, and yes I can be a bit negative, I get depressed, and overwhelmed.  Wouldn’t anyone?

I don’t have many people to talk to, my dear hubby is the only person who really hears it all.  When I see friends and they ask about things, they may hear more than they want.  I don’t mean to sound negative, I’m really just telling things the way they are…just the facts.  And unfortunately, when you asked, I thought you wanted to hear about it.

Imagine if you had a stomach bug and a bad headache for over a year….wouldn’t you feel a bit negative sometimes, and need to complain to someone every now and then?  Well I’ve had a lot more than a stomach bug for and for longer than a year…understand a little?

5. “You got this because…”

I’ve heard this one a few times….I think I kind of ignore it.  I mainly hear things like this from people who are trying to sell me something to “fix” me.  Other people, I think….really?  I’ve been to how many specialist who can’t figure it out…what makes you think you know?  Now, I do hear it from people who have diseases, trying hard to figure out why they have it.  I went through that.  Why me?  Then I realized…Why not me?

What really bothers me is when I have a vertigo attack, severe migraine or really bad day and people say….”What caused it?”   Really?  Do you think if I knew that I wouldn’t avoid it?

Or they try and figure out what caused it…..Okay, yes these things can have triggers, but most of the time, I have no idea.  The only thing I have figured out that really bothers me is the weather and we sure can’t control that.

4. “So, what’s wrong again?” // “You’re still sick?”

This tells me you don’t think I really have a chronic illness that is not going away.  It tells me you don’t believe me.  It also tells me that you think I would play the “sick card” to get out of doing things with you.

Well, I am sick.  Yes, I am still sick, chronic means it is not going away.  I wish it would.  I want it to be something that I could just take a pill for and it would get better.  You probably get sick and it goes away in a little while, you have no idea what it is like to be sick all the time….and I am so very grateful that you never have to feel this way.

I hate being sick all the time.  I never know what may happen in the future, everything changes, maybe this will change, but the prognosis is that it isn’t going away.  I had to get used to it, I hope you can.

3. “You’re just exaggerating/making excuses/want attention”

I’ve never heard anyone say this to me….but I’ve been told it has been said behind my back.   Sad huh?

Well…..It hasn’t worked has it?  I’m alone most of the time.  I’m lonely.  I miss people.  If you are reading this and you think I ever did this….I promise I haven’t.  I really don’t want the kind of attention I get by being sick.  I don’t want attention from doctors, or platitudes from people.  I want to be able to have relationships where everyone feels I give as much as they do.  I want to work and play and live……just like everyone else.   But my life is different now.   It’s much different.   Some days, I’m okay with that.  Other days, it tears me apart.

Just know…..everything I say about my how I feel and about my illnesses are true.  I do not want special attention because of them.  I only want a life.

2. “But, you don’t look sick”

What exactly does sick look like?  No…really…think hard.  Of all the people you have known, all the movies you have seen with sick people, all the times you have been sick….did they all look the same?  Sick people look different.  We don’t all have sicknesses that show on the outside, all the time.

I try not to let people see me at my worst.  It scares me.  When I have a vertigo attack I am terrified, I do not want anyone near me who isn’t my husband or medically trained to see that.  I hide my pain as much as I can, if I can’t I need to be away from people.  Understand, when I’m at my worst you won’t see me, so of course, I don’t look sick when you see me.  You also have to understand, I may be gripping everything bit of will I have in my body to hold it together just so I can look good in front of you, so I can be as normal as possible for a moment, I don’t want to scare you away by looking as sick as I often feel.  I’m afraid you will never come back if I look too sick…..yet if I don’t look sick then you think I’m not…..it’s very hard to know what to do.

I usually get…..”You look so good!”  or “I’m so happy, You look Great!”  or worst  “You look like you feel so good”  ….. Most of the time this doesn’t bother me.  I don’t let a lot of people know how bad I feel.  It bothers me when someone close to me, who knows I have been having a very hard time, sees a photo of me and says one of these things….I suddenly think….Really?  You too?  You think just because I look good for this posed shot that I feel good?

1. “It’s all in your head”

I’m lucky, no one has ever said this to me.  Of course, I’m not sure if anyone has ever said it about me.

I love the answer that Indisposed and Undiagnosed gave….it is so true:
“The only thing I can say to the people who have used this line before is;

Yes, it is all in my head.

I used to feel so hurt when someone would say that to me, but then one of my specialists told me that, it really IS in my head. It stems from the brain, which controls our entire body.
It might be my brain, it might be an organ, but whatever it is; IT ISN’T DOING WHAT IT IS MEANT TO BE DOING.
So, do not feel ashamed or upset, and most certainly do not second guess yourself if someone ever says this to you.
It really IS all in your head (hehe).”

Be sure to go to  Indisposed and Undiagnosed and read her suggestions thing you CAN do for people with Chronic Illnesses.

I’ve decided to make that a separate post….I have a lot to say…haha

** Please note**  I do not blame any person for dropping out of my life.  It is hard to stay in touch with a chronically ill person.  Especially in the beginning when they are so hurt and it is so consuming.  After that, it is even harder to come back in.  Life changes, I understand that.  For those who may want to communicate with me on any level, I welcome you.  Being chronically ill and mostly housebound is a lonely life sometimes.