Archive for the ‘Only Human’ Category

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I Choose to Believe

Feb 16, 2012

NASA: The Eye of God

My husband is an Atheist.  Of course, I knew this when we married, but over the years, I guess I decided I just didn’t believe him.  It seems too unbelievable to me, especially because I know him the way I do.  I am a Christian woman, a believer, as they say.  I don’t subscribe to any “religion” because I think religion only serves to provide the most effective distraction from Christ.  Instead, I want a genuine relationship with God and His son, Jesus, based on His word – His love letter to us – the Bible.

Sadly, I also believe I fail miserably at being the person God wants me to be daily, but I get up the next day and try all over again.  I’m not trying to ‘believe’this comes easy for me.  I’m trying to “understand the greatness of Christ’s love – how wide, how long, how high, and how deep that love is.  Christ’s love is greater than anyone can ever know, but I pray that you will be able to know that love.  Then you can be filled with everything God has for you“.  (Ephesians 3:18-19)  And I’m trying to provide a good example of this love [that I cannot understand] to my children, my husband and anyone else I might meet.  But I’m pretty sure that all people see when they look at me is a broken woman, someone who struggles with physical illness (and doesn’t smile broadly and call it a “blessing”), depression, anxiety, financial problems and other unattractive issues in her life, and someone who can’t really wrap her head around the whole God-loves-ME-and-I’M-special-to-Him thing when I think there is a decent amount of evidence to the contrary.

Ironically, my husband is a better “Christian” than most of the Christians I have encountered in my life.  He is truly a good and loving man.  Where does that come from?  If God is love and he has no God to inspire him, what makes him loving?  What makes him moral?  I really want to know where his morality comes from, on what it is based.  But when pressed, he couldn’t answer.  Oh, he’s willing to “die for what he believes in” – he just can’t ‘explain’ what that is.  How is that possible??  How does a person – a brilliant, articulate person – emphatically believe in nothing?  Or in “mankind’s intrinsic goodness” (Humans are intrinsically ‘good’?  This is news to me.)

I’m the sort who needs things to make sense.  I realize I am somewhat neurotic (sometimes extremely neurotic) in my quest for everything to neatly fit into a box marked “logical”, but this is important stuff!  And while some would think there is nothing ‘logical’ about faith, with all my heart and brain, I believe that Christ died and rose again so that I won’t ever die, but will live with him forever after this life.  I also believe that my husband won’t be there with us because he chooses not to believe.  Oh, how sad this is to me.

My first husband was a believer.  We believed together until his death nearly 14 years ago.  I know he’s in a place we’ve decided to call ‘Heaven’ and that I’ll see him again one day.  I don’t claim to understand God’s ways when it comes to tragedy, sickness and sadness… or even love, but I choose to believe His wisdom supersedes my own.  [Even if I can’t explain it properly, either.]

 Bottom line?  He’s GOD.  And I’m not.

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Baby Steps

Feb 4, 2012

Baby Steps

Changing the theme of my page – and changing it to something more “peppy” and, dare-I-say, “positive” than the gritty looking theme I’d been using since I began this blog – was a very big step for me.  Writing again is an even bigger step.

A surprising side-effect of living a life that deals with chronic illness(es) has crept up behind me and caught me completely off-guard; while my former identity was slowly being siphoned from my new reality and the confusion of determining how a ‘sick’ version of myself looks and behaves has preoccupied most of my waking hours, I have been steadily losing… “my voice”.  Ideas may make it as far as a sentence in my head, but my inner critic – who used to be mostly just annoying – has developed super-human powers and has the ability to paralyze  and silence me.  And it does.  Regularly.

I have been writing for nearly 35 years.  Writing has been a compulsion, a joy, a job, a hobby, and a huge part of my identity for as long as I can remember.  Over the past year, though, the volume of the voice that says, “You have nothing of value or interest to say, just shut up,” has become the loudest and most prominent voice I hear.  And it is so convincing.

A surgery last February that was supposed to give me relief from my Crohn’s symptoms has actually exacerbated them, restricting my life and activities even more than before I went through that particularly hellish experience.  Each month of my recuperation, I was told I would soon feel better, but with the removal of my ileocecal valve (along with a portion of my large intestine), I spend more time IN the bathroom, RUNNING (faster) to the bathroom and praying that I MAKE IT to the bathroom in time. 

Putting so many of my eggs in that surgery basket set me up to plummet into a deeper depression than I’ve known in the past; too many days have been spent swallowing OTC sleeping pills and pulling up the covers after my family has left for work and school, then fantasizing about the relief that sweet sleep will soon bring me before finally surrendering to its numbing, comforting powers.  Funny thing about those OTC sleeping pills, though – they stop working after a while, preventing me from entering the sanctuary of sleep and introducing debilitating insomnia, instead.

Enter: Apathy.

Apathy is frightening.  I really want to feel something other than ‘sorry for myself’, but when I do, I feel nothing at all.  No disgust, no anger, no pain, no happiness, no love.  Apathy sucks.  Do what you can to avoid succumbing to it.

So I’ve been working at eradicating the apathy, primarily by forcing myself to list the things I truly am thankful for.  And, what do you know?  There are actually a good many things to put on that list.  This is not to say that I’m really any better at dealing with my chronic illnesses or the things they have stolen and continue to steal from my life, but even if my gratitude list has items such as: I’m thankful that I’m not also paralyzed, I’m thankful that I don’t live in a third world country, I’m thankful for my home (despite being behind in our mortgage payments), I have decided to give myself a tiny break and appreciate this baby step.

If I were going to wait until I had something I deemed worth saying, or wait until a time when I had the ability to write well enough to pass my own scrutiny, I would not be writing today.  And I wanted to write today, so I’m biting the bullet… then using it to shoot the perfectionist that lives inside of me.

Gotta start somewhere.  And I’m tired of berating myself every day for starting something else (a blog) and not sticking to it. 

I’m thankful that I managed to write 654 words, and I’m thankful I didn’t have to get up and run to the bathroom while doing it.

Baby steps.

Rest Ministries chronic illness support featured site

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I Found my Mojo…

Mar 29, 2011

Sadly, it resides in the section of intestine my surgeon just removed.

The scar depicted above looks a lot like mine, except that mine is not healing properly and it goes through my belly button (though my surgeon promised it would not).  Oh, and the scar above is on a a nice flat belly that belongs to a body builder and my scar… well, let’s just say it does not :-/

It’s been 4+ weeks of pain, of infections, of an unexpected heart problem that had me in the ICU, of one doctor visit after another with more and more tests and more medications added to my already long list: MedsMy body rebels if I try to do anything even minimally strenuous and I’m always tired.  Tired from doing nothing.

But the most frightening part of it all is that I feel smothered in apathy.  I can’t think of anything I want to do; there is nothing that interests me, nothing that jolts the sensor that resides somewhere inside of me and makes me excited about beginning a project or a new task.  I just feel nothing.

Sometimes, I feel sad or guilty, but I just can’t revive the old me… or find her.  I have been trying to write this blog post for over a week, but have about a half-dozen deleted drafts to show for my efforts.  My heart is just not in it.  I have always loved to write: I’ve been journaling for years – long before there was something called “blogging”.  But here I am writing, yet it brings me no joy.  It is too arduous to include the details I originally thought I should mention.  And my journal just continues to gather dust.

Yesterday was my birthday.  We have a tradition of going to a local pizzeria to celebrate, but I was still feeling too poorly to leave the house and I couldn’t really eat anything at the pizzeria, anyway, so I broke our family’s tradition.   I could see that my daughter was disappointed, as my birthday is a much more exciting event to her than it is to me.

I read something about post-surgical depression, but this feels more like post-surgical apathy.  At least for the sake of my family, I hope it passes soon.  I hope mojo is the sort of thing that regenerates when removed – like a starfish’s arm or a salamander’s tail.

I wonder if they endure an empty feeling while they wait for their appendages to grow back.

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What would *I* do with a million dollars?

Feb 18, 2011

one MILLION dollars

Remember when $100.00 was a lot of money? 
$1,000.00? 
A million dollars is still a good deal of money, though – certainly enough to alleviate a significant amount of stress or financial hardship.

Honestly, I don’t need a whole heck of a lot.  I just wouldn’t know what to do with it all.

After giving the first 10% to my church, I would pay off my house, THEN go about the business of making all the repairs that this comfy old house needs so badly.

I’d pay for my son’s college so we could eliminate the need for his pending student loans, and I’d encourage my two older sons to attend college [now that I could afford it

I’d breathe a little easier.

I’d go and get a professional haircut instead of mutilating my own hair every few months.

I’d put money away for when my husband retires, and I’d tell him to immediately quit his second job!

With a million dollars, I would pay off all my medical bills and open up some sort of savings account so I could afford all future bills not covered by insurance, plus all the expensive co-pays on my medications.  Perhaps I’d even delve into holistic medicine or some alternative type of healthcare where all the doctors work together and treat the patient like a person instead of like an annoying conglomeration of symptoms.

Peace of mind.  No, you can’t buy it, but you can afford to ward off so many of it’s thieves.

If I had a million dollars, I would wrap a really big box for my husband and fill it with lots and lots of cotton.  When he finally emptied all of the cloud-like cotton out of the box, there would be a toy airplane tied to a certificate at the bottom that enabled him to take his favorite Cessna out for a flight each weekend.  He has a pilot’s license and absolutely loves to fly, but it’s just too expensive to rent a plane for even an hour or two.  Flying has become a memory of something he used to do when he was single.

There’s no way I could get away without buying my daughter a toy or two (or ten :-/ ), just as long as it’s a one-time deal – no spoiled kids in this house!  But, oh… not having to worry about her college fund – how wonderful would that be?

I have always imagined starting a charity for young widows with children.  I would want to try to start that.  People express their condolences when they meet a young widow taking care of young children; sometimes they’ll bring over a meal or leave an open-ended offer of “call me if you need anything” before they disappear, but few people realize how – or if – she’s able to take care of everything.  Is she by herself?  Does she have a family that helps her?  Did her husband have adequate life insurance to help with the children?  Who babysits when one of the kids is sick on a school day and she can’t take off from work?  As a former young widow with 3 boys, I know there are many things that people assumed about our situation that just weren’t so.

At least now I can laugh (though still with disbelief) about my boss at that time telling me, in all seriousness, that I didn’t need a raise, I needed a husband.  No, my children needed to eat… I’m pretty sure I needed a raise :-/

A million dollars IS a lot of money and the responsibility of spending it in a good and proper way is daunting to me.  The words, “To whom much is given, much is required” (Luke 12:48) take on a deeper and more personal meaning in the shadow of ONE MILLION DOLLARS.  Perhaps I’m better off just dealing with the daunting tasks at hand.

For now, anyway ;-)

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Sensitivity, Hypersensitivity and the Nonsensical

Feb 1, 2011

Both the cat AND the dog are cleaning themselves within a 3 yard radius of where I’m sitting and, at the moment, it feels like the equivalent of having needles stabbed into my pupils.  Ok, well, maybe it’s not that bad, but I’ve developed these hypersensitivities that have gotten to a point where they can be maddening to me and, unfortunately, quite irritating to those around me (though I don’t care what the cat or dog think about it… especially the dog – ugh – who is in a state of perpetual cluelessness).

It would seem I hear things 10 times louder than the rest of my family… or, it’s just that I can fine tune into a sound that no one else notices and it reverberates in my head like it’s the only sound in the room. 
The worst offenders are these disgusting animal licking sounds, chewing sounds (please stop chewing with your mouth open or I may not be able to control this urge to slap you!) and repetitive noises, like finger or foot tapping (who needs nails on a chalkboard? :-/).

Did I imply that this was a “sounds-only” problem?  My mistake.  Though my vision is increasingly impaired, my sense of taste has been… uh… enhanced as well.  Now everything from milk to mayonnaise tastes like a spicy burrito.  Yum. 
I can also smell things that no one else can smell – – come to think of it, I’m kinda like a super hero, but with super powers that are useless and annoying.  There is a stink bug somewhere in this house and I need to find it and eradicate it from my surroundings before I vomit!  And then I, Super Smeller, [et al] go around the entire house searching for the stink bug like someone who should have men in white coats directly behind her… but no one else can smell what is making me feel queasy.  (But first, I grab my glasses.)

Sometimes, it turns out that the dog ATE a stink bug, which then releases this wicked insect’s pungent powers, so it is actually the dog who is spreading the aroma around wherever she goes (along with her shedding fur and her own lovely fragrance), like the %$@* stink fairy that she is.  No, I do not like the dog.  Most days, I feel like she is an exclamation point at the end of a painful, ironic scream.  (Like, “REALLY?!”)

Aside from my fixation on the dog today, I have found some research suggesting that hypersensitivity can be a symptom of Fibromyalgia (and other research ignoring the possibility completely).  I have come to rely more on the experiences of other people who actually deal with this illness (Thank you, Leana) as my reference since respectable, reliable studies are few and far between (if you can find them at all).  I have also spent the better part of the last two days trying to learn if weather can cause a Fibromyalgia flare – specifically, cold temperature, humidity and/or barometric pressure because, in between my freakish sensory issues, I’m actually couch-bound and in varying intense degrees of actual pain.  I can’t help but notice the correlation between lots-o-snow and lots-o-pain.  Hmm…

Again, no actual studies, but I have found a lot of “Fibromites” who swear they suffer flares based on the above weather parameters.  Thank God for the Internet, eh? :-)  And thank God Fibromyalgia has, at least, graduated from the “wastebasket diagnosis” it once was to now garnering some measure of respect among some people. 

“A state of perpetual cluelessness”, eh?  Can I visit?  I don’t have to eat stink bugs there, do I?   Do they taste like burritos?  ;-)

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Obvious Metaphors from an Obscure Blogger

Jan 28, 2011

Last night, I marveled at the snowstorm that blew past my house for hours until I fell asleep, wondering what I might find upon waking this morning.  Snow doesn’t affect me the way it affects most everyone else; except for the added pain from the cold, I am fortunate to view it almost entirely positively.  Since I rarely leave the house, I don’t have to worry about being “snowed in”, and the biggest difference is whether or not I will be spending the day with my daughter and her excitement over school being cancelled.  Oh, that special joy that comes along with that afraid-to-hope-for news… I remember it well.

Like most mornings, it was pain that woke me today.  In the quiet of a predawn house, I abandoned my husband in our bed and headed to my spot on the sofa where my heating pad faithfully waits for me.  With coffee and painkiller in one hand and a half-dozen Nilla wafers in the other, I headed to my spot on the cushion where a permanent impression of my body awaits, right next to the laptop and the TV remote .  But I had to stop in my tracks upon gazing out my window and catching a vision of what the snow had created while I was sleeping.

out my dining room window (after the sun came up)

With the tranquility and gratefulness that fills my heart the way only a snowscape can, I positioned myself on the sofa and took the painkiller with my coffee, chasing it down with the wafers so it wouldn’t come back up.  The warmth of the heating pad was beginning to soothe one square foot of my body at a time as I flipped on the television, but all I saw was a blank screen.   I pushed button after button, yet continued to view only a silent, ugly, greenish-grey blank screen. 

The peacefulness and awe of the beauty outside my window was quickly being replaced with something much more familiar: worry and panic.  They shut off our cable, didn’t they, I thought.  I guess we didn’t pay the bill again.  I opened the laptop to check if it worked — and because I needed a way to find out if my daughter’s 2-hour delay had changed to a cancellation of school.  The dreaded Comcast screen popped up – the one that only pops up when they shut off your service.

I just sat in my quiet living room, still feeling the burning aches and pains in my joints, but now more aware of the pain of losing at “Bill Roulette” this month – you know: “they must get paid, they have to get paid very soon, but they can wait.”  I guess Comcast should have been in the “MUST” pile :-/  And it’s not so much that we miscalculated and had our cable/broadband disconnected that upset me most, it’s that we have to play this sick Vegas game with our bills every month in the first place… and the fact that, even though I was looking at the very same snowy wonderland that had brought me joy a moment ago, I was suddenly too preoccupied to appreciate it.

Front lawn: branch falls under weight of the snow

Some people bend under pressure, others break.  I have a tree in my front lawn that bent so far under the weight of the snow last year that the top of it was actually stuck in the ground and it then ‘stood’ in a strange, unattractive hump shape for many months afterwards.  But it did not break, and I persuaded my husband not to cut it down – as if I felt some sort of affinity for its amazing ability to stay alive, despite its trials and its unsightly way of doing so.  And here it is again, after last night’s snow:

Not nearly as weighted over as last year, but how strange it is that a snow-laden branch from our giant pine tree is leaning – pushing it, even – as if to try to knock down the poor arborvitae. 
The giant pine lost a huge branch (above), but the arborvitae, she still stands. 

The cable and broadband?  It has been turned back on.  My husband and children are alive and healthy.  I am loved.  I did not break.  And I have one hell of a view from my beautiful (though in-need-of-many-repairs) house.

Perspective can cultivate gratitude.  If we let it.


 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 


Yes, this was mostly written yesterday, but then the pain in my hands forced me to stop until today.  So let’s just pretend it’s still yesterday when you read it ;-)

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This is where I would usually quit

Jan 18, 2011

Courtesy: wusa9.com

Sixteen days have passed!  It was the VERY FIRST week of the challenge and I blew it, already!  Oh, but I have reasons (good ones, even) – or excuses – I suppose it depends upon who you ask.  Either way, the result is still failure.  Yep, I failed [again].  But, hey, I’m back to try harder.  That’s how I’m choosing to handle it… this time.

And as I revisit my email box after taking care of my sick daughter, and then my sick husband, and THEN getting so sick myself that my surgery had to be cancelled/postponed, in one sitting I am able to peruse a list of ‘Daily Post’ topic suggestions that have piled up while I was away… suggestions for bloggers who have taken up the blog-a-day/blog-a-week challenge and kept it, no doubt.  

How about 1/5: Are You Stressed Out?  Well, just a little.  On 1/5, I was 5 days away from having a chunk of my intestines removed, but because I was sick with… A STOMACH VIRUS… my surgery had to be cancelled and still looms sometime in the near (but as yet unspecified) future.  And, while others suffered the horribly nasty symptoms of this rampant, disgusting virus (vomiting, diarrhea, headache, fever, loss of appetite, etc.) – which are certainly bad enough – I had the added bonus of being in the middle of a “bowel surgery prep”… about 24 agonizing ounces into it… before the surgeon called it off. 

For those who don’t know, this ‘prep’ is to vacate the intestines of any and everything that might be inside them before going into surgery (or having a colonoscopy, etc.).   In my bleary, feverish mind, and during one of my numerous trips to my least favorite room and seat in the house, I half-joked to myself that only taking a dose of syrup of ipecac could make my situation worse.  Am I in some sort of sadistic cartoon?  I wondered.  Nope, it really happened.

This morning (actually, 1-11-11), the following suggestion was posed: Tell something you haven’t told anyone else.  How about that I was truly afraid I was going to die this time when I went into the hospital, which is especially odd because about 6 weeks ago, I was so depressed I couldn’t find a good reason for my being alive in the first place.  Always sick, always limited, always feeling like a burden – it can get to a person, you know?  But suddenly I’m afraid of dying in surgery?  I found myself a little confused, pleasantly surprised, but still very afraid.  I didn’t let anyone know, though.  Brave face, always a brave face.

This afternoon, a bonus query arrived, the subject: If I only had an hour to live.  (Well, the surgery takes 3 hours, but I get the point.)  I’d probably berate myself for 31 minutes and defend myself for the remaining 29… ‘cos I’m a fun kinda gal who does that sort of thing :-/  But really, I’d want to be with my family – and by family, I mean: my husband and my children and my best friend(s), the people I know that I know that I know love me.

On the 9th, I was admonished not to quit, so I haven’t – even if I missed my very first blog-a-week deadline (good grief!!).  I also remembered back to the advice given about Overcoming our fears as bloggers on the 7th.  Have we met, Scott?  I get so caught up in the details, I often opt for the “trash” button over the “publish” button.  Imagine my relief when I learned that there’s no Blog Jury who sit in judgement of everything I write and then email every grammatical and spelling mistake I’ve made to everyone I know along with a harsh critique of my style and substance (“…and she has an irritating tendency to ramble!”)

As for A Recent Aha Moment:
I began that sentence a week ago when I was desperately trying to post something for the challenge only a week late, and now I’m 2 weeks late!  I’m off to a fantastic start and am beaming with pride – not!   But here’s the thing: I realize that I’ve gotten to a point in my life where I will not be mistaken for a svelte, speeding French high-speed train, but something much closer to a version of the Little Engine That Could (maybe, sometimes).  The “aha” part isn’t in acknowleding that, it’s in giving myself permission to be ok with it.

courtesy: ibnlive.in.com

It’s not the end of the world, Debi :-)