Posted in Chronic illness, hope

When did I become such a “Worry some self”

I used to never be like “This”, and always lived by the motto that whatever comes will come. I never worried about the things that are not within my control, and I always thought that I would deal with them when within my reality. Well they are here, and it seems that the actual moments are a little bit different than anticipated.

So “This” what is “This”, and what does it mean? When did “This” become so pronounced and overpowering? I’ve noticed the change since Germany and never before was it so obvious how helpless we are with the things that we can’t change. Whether it was with issues in Germany, with Mom or the things I experienced. Especially when it comes to our own health, and it is true what they say that if you lose your health, you truly have nothing.

There have been so many horror stories since my initial fight with RA, and it always made me aware but somehow passed me by. The consequences such as deformity and organ failure seemed so far away, none of my reality just yet. It wasn’t until now that all those stories caught up with me. Why now? Perhaps I am not ready to let things unfold in a negative manner to me. I’m not ready to sit back and accept this as my truth. I don’t see the rest of my life filled with pain, and there is still so much good that needs to be experienced. But is it within my control? Is this where the saying “Life isn’t fair” comes in. You see the torment within my statements. The struggle between positivity and the darkness that constantly tries to claw it’s way back in.

There is ailment every day, and different pain levels allow me to have decent day, as well as others that are filled with darkness. After my short good day just a few days back, I got sick with the flu in the evening which added to my overall state of being. For days I had a pain in my lower left back, and noticed that I have to get up several times a night to use the bathroom. I’ve never had that before, and would always sleep through, but instead of excepting it as getting older, my mind and ego had other plans for me. I don’t know how it unfolds, but there it was, tucked away in the distant memory of hearing about Organ failure. The thought enters my mind, wanting me to believe that perhaps I have kidney failure. In the evening my temperature dropped very low to 95.9 Fahrenheit. “Dr. Google” further worries me about my body temperatures reaching too low levels, and resulting in hyperthermia and death. I’m not too far off, as this is suppose to happen if your temperature reaches below 95 and mine is been hovering in the 95 range with 95.5 being the lowest yet. Next I search what can cause low body temperature and there it is again, kidney failure smacks me in the face in bold letters.

I don’t know what happened, and when I became such a worry some person. Where is my bravery hiding? Have I become a worrier instead of a warrior? When exactly did the scale tip, and when couldn’t I see things for simpler natures anymore? Couldn’t it be that I was just having a cold and therefore other symptoms because of it? Questions over questions appeared, and deep down I know it is not that easy as the whole bathroom thing and getting up several times at night has started in Germany already, and without a cold. I know stress plays a big role in our overall well being, and for sure have I seen my fair share of it. Being in pain all the time does a number on you, and has left me assuming the worst. I think sometimes it’s better not knowing, and doing your own research will most likely leave you feeling as if you have some terminal disease and that you are short of dying. My feelings and thoughts process remains the same as ever, to let things unfold as they may, to stay positive as you manifest your reality, and to believe that everything has a silver lining. But man oh man, pain is a tough contender and definitely knows how to chip away at your strengths by forcing you to your knees.

My heart and love is with you. You who is facing this reality every day. I can only say to capitalize on the decent days, to breathe in all that hope and love, to carry you through the rough spots, and to never forget that you are not alone.

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Posted in Chronic illness, Health, Life

A good day

A little over a month has passed since I got back to the states. The intention was to clean up my life of 30 some years, to get rid of unnecessary stuff in the house, and to lighten my load by becoming a minimalist. I managed to straighten up the sitting room (picture), but much more stuff has to go. And it’s only one room for crying out loud. The goals haven’t faded away, but life had different plans for me, some of which I frankly don’t understand yet. The pain amplified since Germany, and many day to day tasks became a real challenge. I can only comprehend it as my body having enough of battle mode, and rendering me almost helpless in an order to heal. Sometimes we don’t realize how long we have been strong, and faithfully our body carries us through those tough times until we no longer have to. Often it is too late, and the damage is done, revealing it’s ugly results to us at a later time. I really think that something like that has happened to me. I didn’t realize how much I gave, not that I could have ever changed it. It was necessary and something I had to go through, but now afterwards, it’s also something to consider for the future. Stress is a strange animal, one not to be taken lightly, and definitely not to be underestimated. And it is something not new to me, something I have experienced before.

After getting back, I was in so much pain that it hurt to move. Well heck, it hurt to sit and there was no way to get comfortable any which way. It was awful and it chipped away at my warrior spirit. It took me 30 minutes just to get dressed. Doing my hair or make up was a joke and like a zombie, definitely the speed of one, I faced each day. I learned that I had to push through the pain by movement to get better, and I did. It was tough to say the least, but soon I noticed that I always felt better when I pushed myself vs. trying to take it easy and rest. It was a delicate balance of pushing beyond the struggle and not overdoing it. I have a long ways to go, but for the most part I remember that it’s worth the fight. There are moments when I can’t, moments that scare me, but luckily these are getting more rare. There are times I am so tired of hurting, and it is then that I have to remember that I can call for help and that I create my own reality with my thoughts. Who knows why this is all happening, but I am sure that part of it is to help others, to tell the story of overcoming adversity, and to find a way to move on. Without a doubt, this has been one of the hardest things I NEVER had a choice of not doing.

Mom is doing well for the most part, but I know she is counting on me to return to take her out of the nursing home. It weighs heavily on me, and while I’d love to be her superhero to make this possible, there are more lives at stake that need to be considered. Explaining such to her is difficult, and ever so often her fears surface. I can only be understanding, even through the personal attacks and try to meet them with love, to the best of my ability. Honestly I don’t know what the solution is when it comes to her and her expectations of me to return to Germany. What to do with her house, as it should be rented out, but even just clearing the house of all that stuff. The apartment of Mom’s parents on the first level is fully intact and exactly how it was as they were alive. Their personal belongings and everything is there, and here am I, struggling with my own house and clearing one room. I don’t think I could move to Germany permanently, and I tried to find my way for ten month, making her a priority. It was hard and rewarding in many respects, and by no means would I want to change any of it, but it has also taken tolls that are taking me forever to overcome. To the point that I had doubts whether I could or not, that’s how bad it got.

But today was a good day, despite of coming down with a sore throat last night and a cold. I surrendered as I went to bed, unable to take on another thing health-wise, and I gave it all away. I asked the universe for help, I called my angels and my soul for help. I called the creator, my guides and helpers, as well as anything and anyone who could help. Amazingly I woke up with no pain and could do the stairs like a normal person instead limping one step at a time. A huge progress, I hope which is here to stay. I know each day is different and the good ones have been far too few in between, but I have to believe that all will be well. My throat is still sore but not as bad as last night and I’m hopeful.

Overall, today was a gift and I’m very grateful for the break. Here is to more days like this and to suffering less. To everything finding it’s way and that the universe reveals it’s plan soon. Whatever it might be, I will continue and try to give my worries away and trust the progress. What else is there…anyways.

Posted in Chronic illness, Health

Much, much better

I know that this post will make some genuine caring people feel a whole lot better, simply for the fact that I am doing much, much better, and I thank you from the bottom of my heart for all your concern and love.

I finally had a mostly decent day. I still got up several times last night just to move around, and the shoulder situation was still a little sore, but the day was mostly pain free. We will see what tonight brings.

My neck is not as tight anymore, and the warming pillow and muscle relaxers have helped improve that situation. I also cooked with fresh ginger yesterday, and cut a huge chunk into my meal. I wonder if that had something to do with it as well, since it’s said to help with inflammation. I may never know, but will continue doing so going forward. If that was the contributing force, then the difference has been a huge game changer. Perhaps it is from changing my diet to reduce the foods that have caused damage and pain in the past. Maybe the stars aligned, and the barometric pressure has settled down. Who knows, all I’m saying is that today felt like a gift.

My hands and fingers work effortlessly and I’m rid of the stiffness. For now. I even started to knit another pair of socks for Mom. I’m kind of scared to celebrate too much, but on the other hand I feel that it needs to be recognized and acknowledged. Isn’t it weird how we get conditioned to hold our breath, or not to say things too loud because we might jinx ourselves? Today, I will ignore this old wife’s tail and enjoy my moments. As well as share them with you….loudly. I will not whisper and I’ve been in so much pain that it becomes a huge deal when I receive a break. Who could ever hold their breath and not shout it from the highest mountain top?

Today, the thought crossed my mind that I’d probably be better off toting a little carry on piece of luggage with me when visiting Mom. 😉 Gee, the bag of goodies I bring along, is growing bigger and bigger all the time. There is a huge bootle of water, food for me and treats for Mom, especially on Saturdays when she only gets a basic little meal like soup and it leaves her yearning for more. I carry the sure favorites that bridge the gap, and bring a giant smile to her face. There are magazines, shopping bags, more treats…the sweet ones this time, knitting supplies, crafts, catalogs and other misc. stuff that adds up to a ton to carry. It dawned on me that perhaps my shoulders hurts from the heavy weight, kind of as if I’m pulling my arms out of its shoulder socket. That is how the pain feels when it gets bad. I would lie not to realize that the chronic pain is most likely relocating to surface in another spot. But not today, and today was a beautiful day. I’m not out of the woods, but today was long overdue. Thank you for all your prayers and thoughts. Your wishes and kindness throughout my struggles. Thank you for being YOU. You make everything better for me and I am blessed to have you in my life.

Posted in Chronic illness, hope, Inspiration

Short lived Euphoria

Sorry for the poor quality photo shot through a screen and dirty window.

It was my WordPress sister Colette who commented the other day by saying that it seemed like my pain-free euphoria had disappeared completely. She was correct and it’s easy to be motivated and inspired when you are felling half way decent. You think anything is possible, and it is during the dark moments and the pain, when your sanity dwindles away and leaves you in misery.

My life had always been somewhat of a constant rollercoaster. Born on the day of ups and downs, and reminded of it to be normal, more times that I cared for. 2018, for me goes down as one of my most challenging years, as well as one of the most growing, emotional years of my life. There is so much to celebrate and shout from the majestic mountain tops, and yet so much to mourn through The Valley of Loss in general.

Pain had found its way back into my life, and when it comes to the pain management, it did appear as if Euphoria was short-lived. About two weeks ago I went to the doctor and had an Angel take a look and order blood work. I was in so much pain, I couldn’t function anymore. My posts were reflecting my peaks and valleys, one moment euphoric and one moment in tears and downright depressive. I had to overcome the status of my self sufficiency and accept help. Help that was given freely and without any cost to me. It was more of putting myself out there, and to be vulnerable, even though I usually are not afraid of doing so. But I had to realize that I couldn’t fend for myself anymore. I needed help and there have only been a few times that I couldn’t take care of myself. Believe me when I say that it has nothing to do with foolish pride, but everything with learning to be responsible. I always had to be and for me it was a matter of survival. Now it was in the hands of someone else. Scary.

I thought that I was dealing with a rheumatoid Arthritis flare, and after a shot and some meds, I was on my way. Pain that intense had only been experienced during prior flares, an ectopic pregnancy and an infection in my stomach. I ruled out the later, so a flare up it had to be. I could feel the shot working almost immediately and I was flying high above the valleys on my way to the mountain top. Relief was given and the swelling stopped. My hands calmed down and the shaking subsided. Amazing how much your overall well being is affected when you feel good. Good enough to function and enjoy some quality of life. Your posts are positive again, and you finally feel strong enough to master all your chores. It appears to come easy and there is no major struggle. Nothing is weighing you down. You forget about the pain and you breathe deeply. It has been too long when you experienced a pain free day and all you remember is how much the nagging pain is affecting your life. You are grateful for the break and wish it could stay like this forever. What a blessing life used to be. Something so simple and so often overlooked, our health is everything and here is your reminder that it is not a given, not something that is always going to be there.

Less then a week later the shot was wearing off and I could feel the pain return. Little by little, more and more intense it crept back in. Saturday and Sunday night were the worst days, and I’d be back to cringing and crying, sleepless nights and screaming in pain. I still believed that I had a flare, that what I ate caused the inflammation, toppled with the allergies that were present in my body. Monday I went back to the doctor to go over my blood work once more. I learned that the inflammation is from the RA in part but not from a flare up. Diet and stress are also key players, but finding out what I was allergic to didn’t seem to be on top of the agenda. Especially since I don’t have any symptoms such as itchy eyes etc. Perhaps mine came in the form of inflammation that translated to pain. I got some medication to calm my mind, antidepressants if you will to help me sleep. I tried the first night and it was awful. While it did knock me out more, it also caused more pain and longer periods of not moving my muscles, which I really shouldn’t have to while I sleep, but I do. I was rusting away while I was resting. There was no healing lotion other then to keep in motion. I wasn’t depressed and it wasn’t that I couldn’t sleep, facing insomnia. It was the pain that didn’t let me come to rest. It was manageable throughout the day, but the nights were something else. I’d cry before bed, afraid to lay down, being so tired and wanting nothing more then a good nights rest. Was this a thing of the past…history? It would barely be light outside and I would get up, just to get out of bed and to move a little to ease the pain.

It was Monday after the doctor and while visiting Mom. I felt overwhelmed and could hardly hold back the tears looking at Mom. Sunday night had been the worst. She was just sitting there and I felt vulnerable, hurt, sad, emotional, and everything else under the sky. For sure signs of someone entering depression. At one point I truly thought that I had arrived at the gates of uncertainty, perhaps Hell. Another soul fighting depression, feeling lost. Mom knew that something was wrong and she could barely look at me. I know she knew that I struggled, but she was afraid to ask what was wrong. Surely it would involve her and I knew she was scared. That itself caused more tears wanting to come forward, and more sadness pumped through my veins. I didn’t hold it against her not to ask me and I knew it wasn’t a matter because she didn’t care. She remained silent and so did I. I carried her pain that day and mine. I choose not to talk about having to go back to the states to take care of things. I choose not to tell her that my rent had increased yet again. I choose to deal with it alone. How much more could I carry on these shoulders, what else could I deal with? No wonder I was in so much pain. I was carrying the world and my knees were buckling.

Through the pain and tear filled eyes, I looked outside. Waiving my short lived euphoria goodbye and missing it already. Shortly after that, the sky literally opened up and showed me a tiny window where the sun was shining. Through it were the colors of a rainbow reminding me that beautiful things are born out of darkness and hardship.

Rainbow….A symbol of magical blessings. The promise that the troubles of today will surely come to pass. Hold strong in your faith and vision and the rainbow will bring fresh beginnings and prosperity. The celts also associated the meaning of the rainbow with the promise of new life provided by the divine feminine. In Christianity it is no different. A symbol of promise, we see evidence in Genesis, 9:13 “I have set my (rain)bow in the clouds, and it shall be a sign of the covenant between me and the earth.” Lastly I love that rainbow is also a extraordinary symbol of following our hearts desire and purpose…to get to the end of the rainbow is a symbol for the celebration of that fulfillment. The end of the rainbow signifies a pot of gold and the magic that surrounds your dreams coming true.

Sometimes we need something, anything, to believe and to motivate ourselves. It could be anything, and for me it was a sign. I needed to see it right then and there. A little magic from the divine to stay the course, to trust that all will find it’s way. I hope that when pain gets unbearable and strikes again, that I will remember that moment of hope in the sky. That I can remember the promise of a new life, and be courageous to fight another day.

Posted in Chronic illness, Health

Terrible-Terrific-Tuesday

It was Tuesday and the day for my follow up in regards to my blood work. I really hadn’t thought much of it since that miraculous last Friday when all of a sudden I seemed to be healed almost instantly. Of course I wasn’t, but the pain was gone, and so were the troubling thoughts that had accompanied me through the pain. The painful reminders disappeared and life was good. Couldn’t it have stayed like this forever!!!

It was just before noon as I arrived at the doctors office and took a seat in the waiting room. It was a first in a long time that I rode the bicycle, and that I decided to get my exercise this way for the day. I would ride it to see Mom after I got done, and later ride it back home. It would be a workout, but I felt courageous and motivated, I was on a mission to a healthier life. The deciding factor was that I felt good enough to execute it, and God only knows that this wasn’t the first time that I attempted this mission. Many times before pain crippled me into stopping, and although I knew this, somehow I felt as if I had a chance, that this time was going to be different. You could call it being naive and gullible, I call it being hopeful and positive. Perhaps I was believing and hoping for another miracle.

It wasn’t long until the silence caught up with me in that little waiting room and I began to wonder. It became crystal clear, that the pain was subdued, but that didn’t mean by a long shot that all my troubles were over. What if something showed up within the blood-work? For sure there had to be something that caused me to hurt this badly. I’m not sure at what point it was that I considered additional things besides the RA to be the culprit. Was it perhaps the big C word that had shown up. Was I terminally ill and just didn’t know it yet! Through the years I’ve had visions about it. Im not sure why, but perhaps for the same way Dad always knew that he would die young. He couldn’t tell where and how he knew this from, he just knew. Was this going to be one of those conversations that started something like “I am terribly sorry…..but…”?

The past weeks and month caught up with me. All the thoughts about death that I had, not necessarily in regards to my own or Mom’s, but for some reason death would always find a way back into my mind. Not because I was afraid of it, but I think in a way it was fear, fear of running out of time, of not finishing my mission, my life’s work. And what about “Black Eyes”, a vision of myself I had seen walk past me with blacked out eyes? Were these all messages I didn’t really care to see, did I put them out of sight subconsciously because I wasn’t ready to deal with them? I knew that in a way I did, because I didn’t want to put these thoughts out into the universe and manifest my truths. Before I could do anymore damage, I remembered that thought and became aware of what my mind was doing to me. It was leading me down to The Valley of Loss, the swamps of torture and the inclines of misery. I focused my thoughts and silently said a little invocation that I was going to be ok. In my mind I spoke it out and stated my intentions, finishing it with “So mote it be”. Nothing bad was going to happen to me. Shortly after the door opened and I got called into the examining room. The doctor entered shortly after and said my labs weren’t “ALL” that terribly bad. What did that mean? Was there good news with the bad news? Which one would I like to hear first? And here I went again and the ego of my mind tried to get the upper hand once more. He asked if I knew about allergies and what I was allergic to. Besides Soy, Wheat and Peanuts I had no clue. My blood work revealed that three things were off the chart for me.

Allergies…normal range is between 0.00-100.00 mine was at 611

Inflammation…normal range is between 0.00-5.00 mine was at 8.4

Triglyceride…normal range is between 0.00-149 mine was at 306

The last one I’m least worried about and with a healthier diet, mainly vegetarian, lots of water and a few other things, this should impact pretty quickly.

The allergies are six times the normal acceptable count and I have no idea. I guess I would have to do an allergy test at some point to find out. Strange thing is that I have no symptoms. No scratchy throat, no itchy eyes, no nothing. I would imagine that the high allergy count is impacting the inflammation in my body. So allergies seems to be my number one battle to tackle at the moment but I can’t do the testing without insurance right now. So instead I’m hoping that a change occurs through changing my eating habits. I’m not sure how I’m going to measure my success since I don’t have any allergy symptoms. Perhaps the only way I could know is in the amount of pain from the inflammation, perhaps the disease will go into remission and my body is calming down again.

I can tell the shot is wearing off and although my fingers are not swollen yet and I have full functions of making a fist etc, there has been more pain over the last two nights. It’s painful to turn around after I become still. Joints are stiffening again and it’s frightening. I’m trying to keep loose through movement during the day, diet, and hope that the pills can carry me over long enough to make a difference. But at night when all is still it’s a different story. I’m keeping hopeful ♥️

Posted in Chronic illness, Inspiration

“Have a nice weekend”

How many times did I say that short phrase and wished someone to have a nice weekend? What did the wish really entail? Surely it would be very personal and different from person to person, and no two wishes executed would look the same. It merely was dependent on that person.

My weekend after my doctors visit was nice, wonderful even, and the main reason for it was because I was pain-free. Well mostly, and the tiny bit of pain remaining was hardly noticeable compared to what I had endured over the past weeks. I was “Gung Ho” on Saturday and walked nearly four miles all together for the day. Not really all that much, but compared to every painful step and restrictions during the last few weeks, it was as if I walked to the moon. The car was available to me that day, but my newfound lease on life had me soaring high above the clouds. I actually enjoyed walking and inhaling the deep breaths of Germany’s “Golden October”, warm autumnal air. What a difference to walk without pain, to have a little bounce back in your step and to hardly even feel your feet. They felt featherlight as I seemed to glide above the dirt roads and fields. This would become noticeable in my writing as well and a few comments confirmed that I had found purpose again and that the storm clouds had parted to much sunnier views. My posts became more inspirational vs. being doomed by darkness.

Sure footed and strong, I walked all the way to Mom’s. She was just as surprised at my remarkable and fast recovery as I was, it truly was a miracle. I had gone from zero to hero in a matter of hours. More and more often I witnessed Mom’s worries and motherly care for me. For her birthday she got a little liquid lotion that is suppose to make your body feel good. Enjoyed after a shower is was wrapping you into the scent of evergreens and would loosen your muscles. With her limited ability to help me and one of the very few things she has in the nursing home, she gave it to me in the hopes that it could help me. It was a sweet moment and a desperate attempt trying to help me. I didn’t have the heart to tell her that my condition wasn’t due to tight muscles or a sport injury, but was the result of a chronic serious illness. Our relationship had reached new heights over the past weeks, and the authoritative, strict mother figure was turning into a caring friend. Something we never experienced together and something, quite wonderful. Another wish and miracle was granted. Something that I had always worked towards, but never achieved. Mom’s wall had always been unbreakable, and entry was not granted. She let me bounce off time after time because in her mind I had left her behind. Forgiveness was not mine to be had, until now. I know she has forgiven me, although she has never verbalized it. It doesn’t matter, I still know.

I noticed few signs and spiritual messages throughout my hike that day. No animals were in sight and the messengers were pretty quiet. Perhaps everything was how it needed to be. No extra hints, points and messages were given. Everything I needed was inside of me as it has always been. With the difference that I felt it and knew it to be true. I passed a few more trees that were changing in color and stood out against a azure blue sky. Puffy white clouds looked like tiny cotton balls floating just above the horizon. Everything was picture perfect. I was living my “Now” and life was good.

A beautiful purple flower was stretching towards the sky at the end of a dirt field. It was the only flower I’ve seen in all the way and it reminded me of a dear friend and soul sister. It looked like a purple flame, lit up and seemingly on fire in golden bright light. I smiled at it gratefully and gave thanks. Returning the love, care and healing she had sent me all this time as I was in pain. I nodded knowing her worries for me, feeling helpless but never giving up. The time was here to return and bestow the same wishes, hopes and dreams right back to her. Not because I no longer needed them, but because she herself was in need of this potent and powerful, healing concoction. May it wrap you in soothing comfort and ease the pain and sorrow.

Be well my dear sister…xoxoxo

Posted in Chronic illness, Kindness, Life

And just like that…Life was good again 💙

Thursday night was worse then any other night prior. I hardly slept and didn’t know how to make it through. It was taking it’s toll and wearing me down at rapid speeds. The regular dose of 400 mg ibuprofen wasn’t working for days, and yet I hoped it could lessen the blow and take the edge of enough to get closer to a more tolerable level. It didn’t, and I winced, screamed and cried all night. I was waiting for my soul sister to send me some healing and I was so ready to perceive it wholeheartedly and gratefully. I knew that there were a few people that worried a great deal about me, and I began to worry myself.

Dawn was finally breaking and the first streaks of light were greeting the day. I got up, knowing damned well that it would take me hours to get going before I could be on my way to see the doctor.

Somehow I managed to make coffee with my swollen and shaky hands. The skin was smooth and tight, with a sheen from every little wrinkle that was now gone and disappeared. It was easy to see how stretched my skin was, and the shaking was a clear sign of inflammation and distress. I was in pain and I was beyond miserable. The hours ticked by and I had until noon to make it to the doctor. I wanted to be there by 10 AM, and really it came down to a matter of the sooner, the better. Everything was so much effort. Pulling my pants up, brushing my hair, Life had truly become a challenge, and I couldn’t perform the simplest of things. Finally I was sitting in the waiting room, with no insurance and in dire straits. I waited for two hours until all appointments and other walk ins were helped. During that time, I had too much time on my hands to think, feeling like a social case, or on welfare, not that anything is wrong with that, and I’m sure most of us have fallen on hard times a time or two, it was just my first and I felt helpless and vulnerable. It was another lesson to be learned and to be appreciated. Just the day before visiting Mom, her doctor came to readjust her glucose medicine. A nurse saw my swollen hands and asked me how I injured myself. I told her that I have rheumatoid arthritis and that I am in a lot of pain. She understandingly nodded towards me and then turned to Moms doctor. I could hear the unspoken question from her hoping that he, the doctor would have some advice for me. But he wasn’t interested at all, he quickly glanced over at my hands and turned to precede what he was doing as if nothing happened. The subject died right then, and I knew I would be on my own. Did I really expect anything from him? I’m not sure and all I know is that I was starting to get scared. I knew this flare up wouldn’t go away by itself, I knew that I needed help and I just had hit my first strike out.

One day later at noon I was called into the examining room at the doctor Angie arranged for me to see. I initially talked to the doctors wife who also works in the Praxis. I’ve known her from when I was sixteen, and we used to live in the same house at one point but lost contact over the years. Crazy how much time had passed since then. She reached out to shake my hand and I begged her not to squeeze too hard. Her attention fell onto my swollen limb, and her frightened and concerned look said it all. It was an emergency and a much different reaction as the one from Moms doctor the day before. Shortly afterwards blood was taken and several tests were ordered to see what’s going on in the body. I got a shot for my rheumatoid Arthritis that seemed to work immediately. The tightness in my hands eased or at least the throbbing became more tolerable and didn’t get worse. I received instructions on how to change my diet and how to cut out foods that cause inflammation. We talked about Mom and what it’s been like for the past six month. The question came up on how I was coping with everything and what my support system was. At the end it was suggested to get another shot for my psyche to help me get a little distance to all of it. Basically to give me a break. I was indeed in need of a break. Perhaps it was due to fighting back the tears throughout the consultation that made me appear as vulnerable and worn. I was so overcome from the kindness that was bestowed onto me, to be told not to worry about a thing, to enjoy the beautiful weather this weekend and to get better, without anything in return that was taking me off guard. For someone to help and look beyond the dollar signs, with a desire of wanting to help because they once took an oath to help anyone in need, brought me to my knees. I had no idea this still existed and it felt dreamlike. A beautiful dream about how mankind used to be before greed took over. Was this really happening? I left with tears in my eyes, walking down the hallway, unable to turn around to show my ugly crying face. I would be back on Tuesday to go over the blood work and I knew that I wasn’t out of the woods by any means. Yet I felt so much better. My symptoms improved throughout the day and by the evening I was fully functioning. I was even looking forward going to bed that night, and catching up on the sleep I didn’t find in recent nights. I was laying on my bed, looking at the fairies dancing in the solar lights on my windowsill. It was silent and I felt good. For the first time I wasn’t flinching in pain, my heart was rhythmic and slow and the blood pressure of 150-100 from earlier that day seemed to have found a much calmer pace. I cried so many times throughout that day, overcome by emotion, part relief, and partly because of the kindness and help that I’d received. The care and sincerity, the genuine desire to help was truly godsend and came at a time when I had nothing left. Not a minute to soon, but almost a minute too late.

And just like that…life was good again and a miracle happened. I felt motivated and I had gained a new outlook on life. Another chance to get it right, to make healthier choices, to shape up again, to be the best version possible and I hope this would last for a very long time. It’s always easy to stay positive and motivated when the pain is at bay. It’s another when you are in pain.

Posted in Chronic illness, hope, Inspiration

“I need you to be around”

It has been roughly twelve years since the RA surfaced. Quickly and with little warning it took over and debilitated my body, one limb at a time. I will never forget how frightening it was to lose basic day to day functions, such as dressing yourself, combing your hair, or brushing your teeth. All while not knowing what was going on and feeling helpless throughout. There was no control, despite that I’m not much of a control freak, but it was strange to find yourself at the mercy of whatever that stripped your daily life from underneath your feet. Add unimaginable pain levels that never took a break on top of it, mixed with sleepless nights, and you have a recipe for sure destruction and despair.

Thinking back to how it all started, I believe that already then, it was my two swords of faith and love that pulled me through the darkness. Although faith was a hard thing to come by when your mind is ravaged from the pain, I still think that it never left me. But there was love in various forms, including my once again, but newfound love for Mother Nature and hiking. The hiking would come a bit later, after six life altering words that I will never forget. Six words that were the turning point as my end destination was coming in sight, and I had lost hope to go on. For what should I go on….for another day of pain I said back then, unaware that in a moments time my life would turn around. There was no light, only darkness and gray skies that offered little change. I was so tired and the months that I endured this pain, seemed like an eternity. “I need you to be around”, I still hear these words over a decade later. Words spoken with sincerity and love, words I couldn’t ignore and words that changed and saved my life. It was time to dig deeper and be even stronger. Somehow, unknown to me, I found the strengths to fight back. A miracle happened and the RA got better, the bout eased enough to introduce light exercise through hiking and the disease went into remission. It was out in Mother Nature that my hunger grew and I first felt at peace. Peace, which replaced all the stress in my life. I was craving that feeling, and it became a priority to support. Further lifestyle choices aligned with my well being such as a career change leaving the heavy duty physical work of wholesale and moving steel beams and pallet merchandising behind. I think the only thing I missed over the years was driving the forklift. I was fearless and determined to be great at it. I’m not sure if I’d be that fearless today, and it’s weird how life makes us doubt ourselves and become more contemplative about it. It wasn’t even worth a thought back then and I’d mastered slotting pallets in and out of high steel during opening times. I was a fast and efficient driver, just like I though that I ought to be. What can I say, I’ve always been a little bit of a tomboy, not that I’m implying that driving a stand up forklift is mainly man’s work. I think those times are long over. Perhaps back then I thought I still had “something” to prove. I hope I managed to do so and that driving the forklift efficiently would tell one all about me and my character traits. Silliness really.

But back to the current times. Over the past twelve years, I would have occasional flare ups of the RA. I’d always forecast the weather and sometimes it was crippling painful. However it never reached levels quite as bad as the original onset. It was last year that it flared badly and I got to a point I just didn’t care if I took the poisonous pill to make it all go away. It luckily went away after a few month, and I managed once more and stopped the damaging meds.

Germany however had become a challenger for most of the year. The beginning was fine, but soon it was the humidity that weighted down my joints as if in iron shackles. It became first noticeable in my feet and I didn’t know how to walk without cringing my teeth. Then the calves and the rests my of legs were affected, with a burning as if they were on fire. Some days I didn’t know how to get out of bed and each step became pure torture. Then I got to experience something new and my hips for the first time felt the ravage of the RA. Back to my shoulders, arms and hands, the affected areas luckily alternated and the pain was concentrated in only one area of my body vs. being everywhere, completely crippling me. I somehow managed, although each day became a drag, until a few weeks ago. The pain settled in my upper body, shoulders and hands. I thought it was from playing the ukulele, so I stopped. Nothing happened in the sense of relief and my hands became swollen. Things got worse, so much worse that it reminded me of the original onset twelve years ago. I struggled to dress and perform basic day to day functions. I was miserable throughout most of the day, but continued to see Mom and walk over there in my “Movement for life” effort. Then came the nights and by Monday of last week I wasn’t sleeping much anymore. Riddled from pain I was unable to find rest and get comfortable. Every turn, every move hurt. My arms and hands would fall asleep as if my circulation was cut off and I have to move my hands and overcome the stabbing pains so I could try and fall asleep for another ten minutes. It felt strange as if my arms and hands no longer belonged to me. It was hard to do what my mind wanted my hands to do, and sometimes it require one hand and one arm to move the other. Wednesday night was hell and Thursday was even worse. I’d scream in pain and my high tolerance to pain melted away like butter over fire. I was afraid of going to bed and the 400mg of ibuprofen had long stopped working. I even doubled the dose….nothing. The pills may have managed the days to some extend, but the nights belonged to the devil and the darkness, to unrest and evil.

It was Wednesday evening that my girlfriend Angie texted me and told me that she had arranged for me to see a relative who is a doctor. That he’d agreed to see me on Friday. I starred at her words and immediately got emotional. I was so touched and grateful and you might not follow as to why this was such a big deal. Imagine yourself away from your normal home for the past six month. Your bills continue at your home, but your income has ceased. You lost your job during the duration of the past six month because your employer went out of business. Therefore you lost your healthcare insurance which is pretty frightening by itself. You pray that nothing bad happens during your time of not being insured, but you know that it is mostly during those times that tragedy strikes. After all you have been a good citizen and always carried health insurance. You always were able to fend for yourself, to pay your way and be responsible. Never have you felt more vulnerable and helpless. Faith and love….you tell yourself, hoping that by your mission of doing the right thing (for Mom), you’d miraculously be taken care of somehow. Naive…perhaps. Further you are not planning on staying in Germany permanently, so it’s tough, nearly impossible to get insured here within your means.

So the message comes through that someone, a doctor is willing to see you beyond the dollar signs. He doesn’t care how much money he can squeeze out of you, and it’s far from being the priority because he has taken an oath to help and save lives. He becomes your savior. He becomes everything you place your hope and love into, and you are beyond grateful although nothing has changed just yet, and your pain levels are the same. You realize that you have become an emotional mess and that nearly everything brings you to tears these days. Yet you fight on, each day, to carry on with your mission to bring light and help of transition to someone other then yourself. But then comes this message, your glimmer of hope that can make a difference just like the six little words did some twelve years ago, and you believe once more that anything is possible. I bet you’d be emotional as well.

To be continued…

Posted in Chronic illness, Senior care

Last week in review

A friendly neighbor visiting Mom. In reality he lives in the room next to Mom but struggles to find his way back. So when the door is open, he comes in.

It was quite a week. Such a week that I feel like I have to do a review for myself to put it all into perspective. After last week’s Monday, I knew some things had to change immediately. My heart was hurting, literally and I knew I had to somehow push through the pain and move more. “Movement for life” (see posts) was born. It was hard to say the least, but I think it helped and the chest pain has gone. In addition it put a lot of questions into perspective and I listened to the signs encountered. My left hand however is still very swollen and the fingers are slightly curved. I can’t make it completely straight, nor can I make a fist. It really gave me a lesson and a very painful reminder of how much we use and rely on our hands each day. It’s been since last Monday that I had a decent night of sleep, as the pain keeps me woke or interrupts sleep on a nightly basis. The pain has moved into my upper body, such as arms and shoulders, and of course the hand.

On top of it, there was a little run in at the nursery home that had me literally pissed for days. I might add that it takes quite a bit to aggravate me to this point of no return, but they managed. It wasn’t even a huge thing, but it’s always the principal of the matter that makes it so wrong. Mom has grown found of the little Easter nest I had made her earlier this year. It holds some of her favorite animals and shelve sitters that reside on her nightstand. On that day, I get to the nursing home and find one of the employees trying to convince Mom to partake in some activities she doesn’t care for. Mind you that she still thinks that her situation is temporary, she wants to go home and the last thing she is interested in, is someone ordering her that she should sing in some choir. The person glances at me as i enter and leaves quickly, knowing that we had several conversations in the past to leave Mom alone, to please stay away instead of forcing these things onto her. It only rallies her up and I have to calm her while listening to her wanting to go home now. That I have to get her out of here and that she is telling me I good faith to do so. It’s still not the point and what gets me is the state of being Mom is in. Right away I can tell that something is off and she doesn’t respond to me. She is mostly unapproachable and my fear that something is wrong is growing. It’s almost lunchtime and a nurse comes in. I asked if Mom’s glucose was measured already and everybody is just taking this relaxed, nonchalant “I don’t care” kind of attitude. She would have to ask so and so for an answer she responds, and I ask if she please could do so because Mom obviously looks distressed. Mom’s glucose levels are dangerously low at 49, but lunch is coming shortly she says, so no big deal right. I’m starting to get irritated and the time is now, not shortly, not in a few minutes, just look at her, we might not have a few minutes. I dig through my purse and give her something sweet to eat, that I carry just for her. Sadly this is not the first time this has happened. She eats it and at least is coherent now while I make sure the food is coming NOW. A few bites later Mom is feeling better and is slowly coming around. Her face is softer, the deep lines disappear, and the deep set, sunken eyes fill up with a sparkle again. “I feel a lot better now” she says. It isn’t until later that I notice Mom’s Easter bucket with her treasures is gone. I asked her and she tells me that the nurse put it away because it is no longer seasonally correct. That is it, the icing on the cake and by now I truly have enough.

Let me get this straight: You ignore Mom’s life threatening condition and instead of aiding her, you want her to join something because she can’t just sit around day in and day out like this. News flash, it’s what she has done most of her life after Dad’s passing. I’ve told you this before and she is not interested in changing her ways to please you. That you thought this would take priority over her dangerously low glucose levels, pains me greatly and almost deems you unfit and incapable of making the right decision. Did you get a sign up bonus or something like that? Did you not see how distressed Mom was, or didn’t you find it odd that she was incapable of responding back to you? Did you look at her, “Sick” was literally written across her forehead.

Further you rearrange Mom’s room and put away some of the few things that bring her joy while she doesn’t care to be there. The few things I have fought for to stay with her, that now bring a smile to her face, you remove. It’s not seasonally correct anymore was your answer, yet you never went further or took the time to find out if there is more to these neat little characters. After all Easter has passed a long time ago, so why now? If you ask me, a smile is always in season.

Third, and where the principal comes in. I wonder how you believed that this could ever be ok! It is not up to you to decorate Mom’s room. She pays her full share and it’s up to her what it looks like. I don’t care if the Christmas tree is standing there in May if it brings her joy. I don’t care much about convention and if it fits into my life, wonderful, and if not then that is alright too. I won’t change a thing just because it is conventions. I thought it was pretty low and disrespectful towards me on top of it. I am there, visiting, almost daily, taking care of Mom, was this really necessary? You had to bypass me, Why, obviously because I failed to recognize that Easter had passed. I guess that told you everything you needed to know about me. Ok, enough already, I have officially ranted and I’m over it.

Let’s see, further I had an aunt get upset at me during my “Movement for life” exercise attempt, because I didn’t call her to ask for a ride. I ran into her walking on the second day, and frantically tried to explain that I needed more movement. She drove me anyways and suggested that I step back from visiting Mom so much. “Because if and when you are going, which I don’t know if you are or not, nobody can sit there by your mother all day like you do” she said. I didn’t even know how to respond. What was I suppose to do? Just shove her off to the nursing home, and let her deal with her new life and losing everything she once knew, on her own? Let her adjust on her own like she had to all of her life. Too bad? And me…sit on the sidelines and watch, without trying to help her? What would be if something did happen? Could I live with myself if so? Clearly what happened at the nursing home with Mom’s glucose was scary and alarming enough, and granted I wouldn’t always be here to safe the day or Mom’s life as a matter of fact, but for now I was. Nobody was going to take that from me and nobody was going to tell me to step back. I have spent my entire life away, stepping back, this was a time we needed each other, a time to make things right in an unselfish way. I would not have this burden on my shoulders later, and I was simply put off by the comment. Once more I felt that only few understand my mission. Why did I had to justify that love and compassion for another human being, my mother was my motivation. Nobody was expected to sit by Mom all day like I do, and nobody else is her daughter either feeling the way I do.

Thursday I took another break to take advantage of the nice weather and to do some chores around the house. Shortly after noon two loads of laundry where dancing in the wind and I mostly had achieved what I wanted to do. I had little movement however, and I was afraid of the pain in my chest to return. I got my backpack ready and decided to go for a little hike. I didn’t knew it at the time, but I would end up on top of the hill called Petersberg in my village and stay at the summit for a little over two hours. The sun felt wonderful and I must have watched a dozen people come and go. On the way home I made an extra loop and fell just shy of my step goal of 10000. I dragged the last mile or so, but it was better as it had been since the start earlier in the week and I felt good. The chest pain has been gone since….fingers crossed.

Other changes include that I cut out as much sugar as possible. There are no sodas and I sweeten my coffee and tea with honey. I eat more salads with mixed in sardines for my omega fatty acids, nuts and grains. I bought pure ginger tea and something within me is screaming to eat ginger. I know that it can help with inflammation, and the voice within is really strong right now. I feel strangely convinced that it will make a difference and I even bought raw ginger.

Still, by Sunday morning it appeared that all of the events from the week caught up with me. The scares, the worries, the pain, the loneliness and all the challenging situations came to visit me at once. My pain level was high as I woke up, and this time it got the better of me. I couldn’t fight it off anymore, no matter how positive I wanted to be. I was tired of hurting. My hand increasingly got worse throughout the week and the pain was eating away at me. My undefeated warrior spirit went into hiding and my weapons were down, leaving my vulnerability exposed without a shield. I needed to cry and yet I couldn’t. I’d well up with the pain, both physically and emotionally being so overwhelming, and yet I couldn’t get a release. Not even that was to be granted I thought while almost feeling sorry for myself. It was clear that I needed to go home, back to the states, to take care of things, including myself. I knew that this couldn’t go on the way it had forever, but I was scared. Not because somebody told me this time, but because it was reality. How could I ever leave Mom alone? This time it would truly feel as if I left her behind. Unable to fend for herself or defend herself, in the hands of incapable individuals that cared only about the job that had to be done, without the human element of it. And still, with hands tied she was in better care then being alone at home.

Here is to a better week. It’s still Monday and already the oil oven has flooded with oil, all by itself. What a surprise it was to discover it. My silver lining is that I’m happy that I found it, and that I found it now.

Posted in Chronic illness, Inspiration

Movement for life – Part II

“Caterpillar holds the grand dream of becoming all that it can be, with no limitations, it reaches out to become it’s greatest expression of self. Putting everything aside, it follows the drive to evolve. Caterpillar teaches us to do the same, to find our power to transform in deep meditation, to go into the cocoon and emerge as a greater aspect of self…believing in the possibilities that with faith all things great and small are possible, and to remember that the grand and beautiful things have very humble beginnings”.

~Presley Love

I moved on and left Mrs. Caterpillar behind. So far there had been the A-ha realizations from the neighbors speeding car that left me behind in a cloud of dust, there was wisdom to have more fun from the playful squirrel, and a reminder of transformation from the fuzzy caterpillar. I contemplated each while my steps carried me closer towards Mom. A smile graced my fave and sometimes I surprised myself of how aware I’d become. There was always a reason for everything, a meaning waiting to be found behind the actual occurrences. Nothing ever happened by accident, just like it didn’t with the people that crossed my path. I believed that each one was here to teach us a lessons, some good and some bad, if we were lucky enough, some touched our hearts and would stay in our lives forever. Those would become the special souls that we connect with, our soul sisters and brothers, the ones we feel a special bond with through the universe. The old friends, people our soul knew from a thousand years ago, and the people we so easily feel drawn to. I always knew that I was blessed for having encountered such special souls. The signs from that day were pertinent to timing, the exact moment as to why those particular encounters occurred. They were meant for me, and a message was waiting that I needed right then and there. I evaluated each incident, how it fit into my life, what meaning they brought, what needed to be reinforced, and what needed to be changed.

Nearly half way down the narrow bike path, a bicycle past me from behind, bringing me back to the current moment. I had waited for that moment and it was a long time coming. I knew it would happen soon or later as I periodically turned around, to avoid a scary and unexpected surprise during my stumble. I couldn’t ignore that my feet didn’t feel all that great anymore. It was too early for that, but my legs were burning and my fingers were so swollen that I can only describe them as thick white sausages threatening to burst open. Perhaps like the Michelin Man, that thick. It was getting very painful and uncomfortable, but I had to push on. I staggered at times, feeling myself swagger and sway all over the place. It was surreal, as if observing an outer body experience of myself. Surely I must have looked anything but graceful, but I didn’t care if anyone noticed. I drugged along, like a Pilger dying of thirst. Each step was becoming a fight, but also carried me closer.

I took a few picture along the way, to stop and admire, to live in the moment. At the same time it was giving me and my muscles a brief moment to relax. The burning never subsided and would continue all the way to Mom’s. The flight of stairs up to her room was torture by now, and then I finally made it. With a big sigh, all I could do is let myself fall into the chair, much to Moms surprise waiting for me to greet her as usual with a hug and a kiss. Any bystander might have thought that I just walked a 1000 Miles, but in reality it was only an hour and rather embarrassing. Another painful A-ha moment about my current condition set in. Dreams would remain dreams no matter how much I’d want to turn them into reality if I wasn’t going to get my health back. It was a hard bit to swallow, but hope and believe, faith and love were still present and flowing through my veins.

I stayed all afternoon with Mom and was thinking of the way back. It was getting late and I would have to leave and get moving soon, if I was to make it by dark. It didn’t take much convincing after Mom suggested to take the train home. The station was close by and would bring me closer to home into another neighboring village. It would roughly shave off one mile of walking distance and still give me the exercise I was seeking. No pain, no gain was the name of the game that unfolded all day. I wasn’t ready to accept defeat and the warrior in me was still in fighting mode.

The train was right on time and only a few short minutes later, I was walking once more. I had barely time enough to get my phone out of my pack to might snap a few more pictures. A hot air ballon was hovering over the forest ridge, lit up in a magical glow. The sun was about to set and the golden hour made way to the chill that filled the evening air. How much colder it was already getting at night, and tonight the temps would be just shy of freezing. After eating, I felt so cold that I decided to go to bed. I’m sure it was from the exhaustion and pushing through the pain, that I felt weak and worn. One step at a time I finished the day at 10078 steps and with the desired step goal.