Posted in Holidays

Luna’s little Christmas Tree

It was a quiet little Christmas this year and it was perfect in many ways. I was grateful for the stillness of today and the periods of rest that it brought. I take comfort in the thought that life will resume at a slower pace here shortly and perhaps I will feel that I can catch up once more. I look forward to being back and be more engaged in the things that matter the most. You are all a important part of it.

I didn’t blog at all today, but I thought of all of you. Wondering how you spent your Christmas, if you got to be with family and loved ones, while envisioning the countless special moments and memories that were created in doing so. I thought of my Mom today and for the first time I could not talk to her and wish her a Merry Christmas. It weight on me and I have no idea when the release from the hospital will come, and when I can talk to her again. Something was missing today.

I thought of the all the kind comments you have left over the past days, and you have left me feeling warm and comforted. Santa’s elves brought many presents this year and besides feeling loved and cared for, I thought about the careful selection process that went into making each gift special and non generic. I’m touched by their meaning and the story that each brings. Their purpose and how they speak to me, but most of all by how you knew. Many will have a permanent spot and take on a role that will grow over time. I’m excited to share it here with you, as things unfold.

As far as Luna, she loves her little Christmas Tree and it was time for a manicure and pedicure today. Her logo is coming along and is almost done. A few minor tweaks and hopefully she will find a weekly spot here on the blog under “Luna’s Landing”. Fingers crossed….

Posted in Holidays, Photography

Merry Christmas

As I’m preparing for one more day at work, I’m kicking off this magical season with you my friends and my family at work.

During this holiday season, I give thanks to each and every one of you and the many truly magical relationships we have built. I’m blessed beyond words and I know it without a doubt. You have enriched my life in ways you may never know or understand and I hope that I do a decent enough job to remind you of how much you mean. You are special and unique like a snowflake and I wish that you never lose that sense of magic.

My holiday wish for you is that you find love and peace with whatever your journey has in store for you. That you find the strengths to muster the challenging days and look at the stars with wonder and magic. That you remember to tap into that strength because you have everything you need inside of you. I wish that you have the courage to embrace the wild choice and to always be your true self. That you play with childlike abandon and that you follow your heart, regardless. May special moments never seize to follow your side and may your memories be full of moments that warm your hearts.

Thank you for being you and for all the kindness you show me every day. You are in my thoughts as I send a great big hug your way and whisper “Have yourself a Merry little Christmas”.

Posted in Hiking, Inspiration

Sardine Lake Lodge

A small resort lodge in the woods is the heartbeat to a few surrounding cabins at the Sardine lake resort. Each little cabin comes with a patio and views of Sardine lake and Sierra Buttes. Time slows down out here and you can finally breathe and take a break from the hectic that grips our lives on a daily basis. I have heard the bell a few times before, while hiking on the trail and it was a neat experience. The sound carried through the air, drumming up all cabin inhabitant’s to enjoy a meal together. I couldn’t help but see a glimpse of how life might have been, back in the days when this bell was sounding to drum up workers and perhaps sounded the end of a work day. It brings a whole new meaning to “Let freedom ring.”

I’m starting to figure out what exactly it is that draws me to the Outdoors the way that I feel drawn with such intensity. Although there are many reasons for it, I’m pinpointing the causes for me as I believe them to be different from person to person. When I look back to the beginning of when I started to hike, I find the fundamentals and the foundation of my love for it. I hear John Muir’s quote in my head, saying that “Thousand of tired, nerve-shaken, over-civilized people are beginning to find out that going to the mountains is going home; that wildness is a necessity.” I know I was one of those people, and though I have managed to loosen the grip society has on me, I’m still not completely free. The Outdoors allowed me to combine my passion for photography, along with seeing amazing places I had to work for in order to see. “No pain, no gain” and those are the places that are pure and wild, the places you can’t just drive to. They are without a doubt the solitude and the stillness many need to refuel and recharge their senses to manage the hectic of a busy world that is reality for most. For me it was a time I could breathe, really breathe as I took in peace with each single breath. I got addicted to the feeling and the harmonies my body felt when it was at peace. I wanted more and with awareness I breathe in such feeling each time I’m out. I feel the stress melt off in the simplest of surroundings, having nothing but the dirt under my feet and experiencing the joy the small things bring each time. It is then that my body heals and the pain levels subside. I’m starting to see a connection and I have to listen…

Posted in Chronic illness, Health

Red Pill – Blue Pill…my bout with RA

If you are just joining this story, you might need insight of how we got to this point. You can get up to speed, here, here and here before reading this. (In order of posts)

For the most part I left the rheumatologist office feeling high with an immense relief. No permanent joint damage was more news than I had expected to hear. As I said before, I think I prepared for the worst, and now I felt the burden falling off of me like a heavy weight that had forced me to my knees. There was a bounce in my step, a light footedness as I walked to the car and felt as if I was given a second chance at life. I looked to the heavens, winked at my guardian angel that must have worked overtime to protect me over all these years, and life was good at that moment. Life was very good and I couldn’t wait to share the news. One of the hardest things was not to tell you here on the blog, as I knew you needed the insight of how this all came to be first in order to understand.

The feeling lasted a few days until the insurance battle began and so said insurance didn’t want to cover medication X which was the pill form of the harsh drugs that were suppose to prevent the further damage, that mind you, never happened over the past eleven years. I had taken a few of the pills from the trial version the nurse practitioner had given me. The bottle was meant to hold me over until the refills kicked in and she had warned me that there might be problems filling the medication she had prescribed. I didn’t understand at the time, but know now that it is all about the money and the kick backs from the pharmaceutical companies. Two weeks later I received the notification from the pharmacy that medication X was not to be covered and that I needed to try medication Y first which were the syringe shots into the stomach or upper thigh. Only if I wouldn’t tolerate medication Y would there be a slight chance to switch back to medicationX regardless of that it worked for me already. I was to be put through the test to see if my body could handle it with little regard of the side effects. I wasn’t a fan at all and two appeals were filed from my doctor without success. Medication Y it would be or nothing at all.

Health wise I felt decent and I started to spread the pills out. First every other day and then in even bigger gaps. By now I haven’t taken any of medication X in probably 2-3 weeks, maybe even longer and I’m still holding. Medication Y was approved and the first shots arrived in November and another set of two just today. They come in a month long supply, one shot every two weeks. Both medications have about the same side effects such as cancers, heart failure, sudden death, infections, just to name a few, and believe me, the list goes on. I had already swallowed a few from medications X, but what got to me and did me in was the “Sharps container” that came with medication Y for the disposal of the syringes. The bio hazard warning on the box in-specific was what was especially disturbing to me. All I could visualize was that I was going to inject myself with bio hazardous waste. I know there is more to it, but I can’t go forward and at the moment the RA is back to being untreated.

I rescheduled my follow up appointment from December to February of next year and was hoping to have more clues by then. I’m not sure what’s ahead and if service might be denied completely since I’m not a good patient at this point and have gone against doctor’s orders. Luckily I am at a point where the pain levels are controllable, but what if it changes back again? I don’t really have the answers right now, I just know that the risks of the hardcore drugs to maybe remedy one problem are not worth to jeopardize so many other things. I feel with certainty that this is not my answer and I don’t care to slap a bandaid onto the symptoms. I want to treat the cause, but I understand that there is no money to be made off of me this way. So why would and should someone care? I’m not sure what the follow up visit will look like. One thing is different this winter, and it has been the least painful season ever since the onset of RA. The winters are usually worse and although there is still pain, it’s nowhere close to what I’m used to. I can’t help but wonder why this is. Am I just lucky and am I just catching a break? Have my prayers and yours been heard, or could it just maybe be that I’m starting to know enough about what I’m dealing with that there is a form of remission? That I’m putting some things into effect that are making a difference? I know it’s a big one, right….but I always said it “I’m a dreamer and without dreams there is no hope and without hope there are no miracles”. I believe that anything is possible…

Posted in Inspiration

Strength

Sometimes it takes strength to be strong and sometimes it’s ok to lay your weapons down and take a break. I had one of those moments as the news came last Monday night about Mom falling and being hospitalized again. The gruesome picture of her lying on the floor, helpless, cold and alone has branded itself into my mind and perhaps it is how it needs to be. I need to see it for what it is and I need to realize that I do remain all that she has. I need to help and I can’t turn my back on her or be selfish about the life I have built here for myself. I can’t continue to live it and have the burden of neglecting what needs to be done weigh me down as it has for years. It’s another piece of the puzzle when it comes to the RA and the unresolved problems that burden and grief the health right out of me.

I took a break and allowed myself to be sad over the past couple of days, to feel horrible of being so far away, and to realize that change must somehow come my way. Although no permanent or immediate resolution has been found, I feel better and it’s time to get back up, take a deep breath and fight another fight. It will continue until I choose to take a step into the unknown, leaving the life I know behind for a future that is uncertain.

I came across one of my old pictures today and the timing itself is surely another message. I found it fitting for the storms of the recent days and thought I share it here. I love trees but what attracted me to this one were a few different thoughts.

  • It’s a giant of a tree, with a trunk that stands tall, reaching for the sky
  • It mostly stands alone and it’s one of a kind with a unique bark-print
  • It’s off balance and yet it doesn’t sway from standing proudly.
  • It can’t be shaken to a fall and remains rooted within the earth
  • It’s deeply grounded withstanding the harsh storms of the Sierra
  • It has seen many changing seasons in his lifetime and still…. it is here to stay

The word strength came to mind looking at this tree a few years back already, and today it is a framed art print hanging in my girlfriends house in Germany. A pretty cool honor I’d say.