Posts Tagged With: appointments

I’M OK

I’ve been reflecting a lot about my Blog post yesterday, “Diagnosis Part 5: MRI”.

It helped so much to write that. I needed to really get that out. I needed to tell the whole world about my experience. It freed me a lot. I felt lighter after I wrote it and I’ve been breathing easier ever since.

And what I’ve become aware of even more today is something so enlightening and positive.

I’M OK.

I, Nahleen Virginia Blake (yes that’s my Middle Name), am OK. Oh my goodness! I’m OK. If you had told me that night of my first MRI that over 10 years from that whole experience I’d say I was OK I’d have pushed you away. I’d have ignored you. I wouldn’t have believed you. I probably would’ve gotten sick to my stomach.

No Way! I was so terrified about my life, about my future, about my body and everything that I had no control over. I “HAD CONTROL” of my life back then…I thought. I was on my path. Full speed ahead! Get out of my way. I’m following my dream. Actually…I’m chasing my dream. It can’t get away. My grip is so tight and I won’t let go. Keep on going and going and going and going. Well, guess what Energizer Bunny? You can’t keep going either no matter what those commercials say. Sorry but you run out of Oomph too!

Throughout these 10 plus years since I have been told by so many people older than me that I am too young to think the way I do. That I am too young to go through what I’ve gone through. That I should be going through all of this illness and crap when I’m older. Well, let me tell you all, I HAVE NO CONTROL AND I NEVER HAVE. I was powerless over what was happening in my body and my mind was bound to change. My life was bound to change! My outlook was bound to change! Change change change! Life is about change!

How could all of that not change?

I couldn’t work 2 jobs anymore. That was crazy to start with. I couldn’t be a Production Assistant for 12 hour days on my precious weekends anymore.  I couldn’t couldn’t with the couldn’ts. Suddenly my life came to a halt.

SORT OF.

I had to rest more.

I’M SORRY. DID I SAY REST?

What is REST? Well, that means I STOP all I’m doing to the best of my ability and sit my butt down. I can lay down on the bed. I get some quiet. I learn how to meditate. If I can’t stop I at least SLOW DOWN. Yes, slower is OK. Really. There are so many ways to rest. Forcing everything to a point of a racing heart is NOT RESTING. Nope. Everything in Fast Forward is not resting.

Actually, my life is usually better than OK but I didn’t know that until 8 years later when I was diagnosed with a second disease of lupus. A…SECOND…DISEASE……..OF…LUPUS….Now THAT ONE KICKED ME OFF MY FEET AND STRAIGHT ONTO MY BUTT and there was no getting up.

No question.

I hit a wall so hard it’s a wonder I even survived and I am NOT EXAGGERATING.

And my choices were simple yet so complicated for someone like me to understand. You see, simple is not simple. It can’t just be that pretty much everything in my life has to STOP AND SLOW DOWN and not just a few things here and there. This affected EVERYTHING.

I HAD TO CHANGE.

MY LIFE HAD TO CHANGE AND FAST.

I FELT I HAD NO CHOICE.

See, I used to say I had no choice. I had to stop working…for now…until further notice…maybe…no really…I still wasn’t feeling up to it months later…symptoms just kept kicking my butt…I needed Tender Loving Care from everyone but especially from ME. I could’ve gone back to work. Right. OK. And run around and been in an environment that was so toxic for me that I would’ve ended up in the hospital the next time. Sounds like a great quality of life.

It was ME. I had to change MY LIFE.

I had to take care of ME.

Why was that so hard? Why IS that so hard?

I know it’s worth it. I know I’m worth it. And it’s a work in progress…It really is about Quality of Life, not Quantity.

But when I focus on TLC and turning the attention of my TLC to me my life gets better. My life looks different, feels different, and even smells different. There are flowers to smell and see everywhere here in LA. There are trees with leaves that blow in the breeze. That is one of the most lovely sounds I have ever heard. There are clouds. Oh I have always loved clouds ever since I was a little kid. Give me a cloud to look at and I am thrilled. Everything else goes away. There is an ocean that keeps me Present when I can see it. Even driving by it changes my mood if I can see it. I am in the moment. Do you know how beautiful the moment is? Have you been able to feel your breath as you look at the vastness and the colors of the ocean as the sky and the light of the sun reflect on the ocean? Have you watched a seagull float along in the sea breeze? Even watching other people in the water puts a smile on my face.

Smiling. I do that so much more than I used to. I used to be told all the time to smile when I was in my 20s before the MS diagnosis. I had no idea I wasn’t smiling. I was so dang busy pushing and pulling and forcing and going that I forgot to smile. I had a frown on my face I was so intense. It’s a wonder I had any friends, family, work colleagues or anyone else who wanted to be in my life.

But somewhere along the way I forgot me. I still do sometimes and I am constantly working on bringing ME back.

And bringing my focus back to me, I see the shining emerald green glimpse of hummingbird. I see the butterfly off in the distance. I find myself sitting in my car listening to my favorite song and not getting out until I’ve finished belting it out to myself. And back to smiling because I find it so powerful. Smiling at others? Smiling at others and watching them smile back. It is so rare now for me not to connect with others with a smile. I have met some of the best people in the grocery store. We are all just people living our lives trying to get by. I have had lovely conversations in hospital building elevators with others about colors and clothing and my Muppet bag/purse.

I have sat next to some wonderful people while sitting in doctor waiting rooms. See doctor waiting rooms are tricky for me. I still can’t stand going to the doctor. In fact, I think in some ways it’s worse now because I have so much chronic illness doctor’s office visit fatigue if that makes any sense. I am sooooo done seeing so many doctors even though the appointments are currently usually further apart. Usually. But those waiting rooms can be so grueling and talking to others helps. If I don’t I feel closed off and not grounded. I find myself more nervous about the appointment than I was before. I find myself noticing that so many people are not feeling well, that they’re older and looking at me wondering why I’m there at whatever Specialist Doctor I happen to be at. It’s rough.

I have gotten to know the office staff at almost every doctor. I now have at least 2 friends at the Pharmacy I go to and I’ve had coffee with one of them. They are people too. Great gals actually. I have learned that it’s really not a problem usually to stand in line at a store. Why not look around? Why not watch a little girl or boy with their Mom and see what they see as they look around? Getting annoyed and irritated is probably going to make me feel worse. Life does not have to be lived so fast.

And what about finding myself through writing? I think I’ve always been a writer. I have written off and on all my life. This Blog has helped me get through what was a huge writer’s block for too many years. I need to write. It is part of my Being. Even if I write the hardest and deepest thoughts and words I still come out of it smiling. I wrote! I expressed myself!

And then there’s meditation, guided imagery, spiritual support groups, coffee groups, texts with friends, Facebook, Twitter, the online community in general, the longer conversations I get to have with people on the phone if I feel up to it (this one is still hard for me because being social is one of my favorite things but it also tires me out very quickly and as I get better I am more able to talk and maybe even visit but it’s still a one day at a time thing), the exploring of neighborhoods as I walk every day (by the way it’s been over 450 days since I started taking a walk every day!) I never know where I’ll end up. I have found the greatest local businesses that way. Some of the best coffee shops are in Santa Monica. I wouldn’t have known that before.

And sitting on my balcony especially at night is one of my favoritest things to do ever. I sit back in my lounge chair and look at the sky, look at my iPad (feel so fortunate and lucky to have such a supportive husband who bought me an iPad even before my lupus diagnosis and it has changed my life–the online world is a much more accessible place because sitting at the computer with the big screen can be hard for me for so many reasons), talk to my plants, and I can even have plants that I love and adore! And let me tell you, they respond so much better when I talk to them and give them love.

I have found faith and hope during these slower times. During these quiet times it has not all been fabulous. As they say every rose has its thorns and that is so true. There is beauty in life everywhere. There is also struggling, and excruciating feelings, and trudging, and crying, and anger, and memories, and reliving traumas, and temper tantrums, and grieving, and missing the old days when I thought my life was something else, and when I was younger before my MS diagnosis, and wanting to punch things and having very very hard times and hard days. I find I’m also having an identity crisis. Who am I? Who is Nahleen with MS and lupus? Will I ever work again? What will I do? Which idea am I going to pursue? Where is my life leading? Is this my life? I can’t live my life as someone who is identified only as my illnesses but it is a major challenge to break away from that when my life is lived in doctor’s offices talking about everything that’s still wrong with me, even talking about those few things that are getting better is still on the subject, just being there reminds me too much about my reality, having to prove my Disability to other entities who are trying to not help me, dealing with insurance issues, reliving the past for new doctors, taking over 4 hours to get going before I feel human in the morning, taking my medications, keeping up with my medications, keeping track of symptoms and the severity of them and watching for patterns, exercising so I can keep functioning and I could go on. Please let my life be more than that.

BUT YOU KNOW WHAT?

I’M OK.

I’m better than I was 10 years ago even before my MS diagnosis. I see the world in front of me more. I see the world. I am in the world. I am not on the outside looking in. I am NOT living the life I want to live on a whole just yet but isn’t that normal? I want to live a life WITHOUT MS and lupus but that is a lot to ask right now and to be honest it pisses me off and I can feel the rage right now even as I write this. But right now I’m in a better wave. I don’t know how long it will last or if it’s the new norm. Life is always happening and it is always in session. I have learned that time and time again. And I don’t know how I’m going to feel the next moment from when I write this sentence but for now I’ll take the feeling that life is a bit easier. How cool is that? I’m a bit more at ease. What a gift.

But it is not a life to be rushed through. Time goes by too fast. I was a tied up ball of knots rushing around plowing my way to the next goal in my mid-20s thinking I would someday rule the world, but it was never good enough. And in the past few days, life is good enough. Sure, I want more money, I want a bigger place to live in, I want that dent out of my car that someone so nicely put in there at a time I wasn’t around to see it happen, I want to be thinner, I want to feel so good that I am frolicking and skipping down the street and I don’t ever want bad things or hard things ever to happen again.

But that’s not real.

And I’M OK.

And the best part is there are parts of my life that are so very happy. I am happy with my husband and my Cleo Kitty. Corey keeps me laughing and on my toes. He is so incredibly supportive and always by my side. We are the best team I know. Cleo Kitty and I are best friends. We have been there for each other during each of our health problems for the past 3 years. She cuddles and plays and needs to eat and she demands her pets.

I also have a roof over my head, wonderful people in my life who don’t let me isolate even for one minute and they are from all parts of my life, 2 cars that run well, air conditioning that usually works, clothes to wear, food to eat, a bed to sleep on even if the mattress is so old there are hills and valleys in it and the list is endless.

I have a full life. A pretty darn good life. It can be very hard. And sometimes it can be easy but those times seem rare. Perhaps that will change. I don’t know. What I do know is that I breathe easier. I’m not nearly as tense. I feel much better than I did last year in July 2012 (and it doesn’t mean I am all better but I will take whatever I can get), I smile and giggle more than I frown and grumble. My bad days aren’t nearly as bad and intense and I recover quicker. And this is all just for today.

That is all I have. That is all WE have.

And that is OK.

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It’s So Hard to Have Multiple Sclerosis and Lupus and…Part 3

…and BE ME…

…and HAVE LIMITS…

I mean, let’s face it.  I’m a hard person to be.  I have goals.  I have ambitions.  I am a Go-Getter.  I am a Type A Personality by Instinct. The first idea in my head is GOGOGOGOGOGOGOGOGO!!!!

There’s no room for LIMITS…

Hmmmmmmm……

Welllll……

That’s really hard to deal with when I have multiple sclerosis and lupus.  I’m not even mentioning the digestive symptoms and syndromes, food allergies, environmental allergies, any infections that I might be fighting off, the fun womanly once a month irritations, sinus symptoms and issues, my crazy GOGOGOGOGOGOGO head, or even headaches that might come and go here and there.  I mean really.  I don’t get a chance to GOGOGOGOGOGO.  And if I do by chance get back into that habit, I am in TROUBLE and back on my butt FEELING AWFUL FOR SOME REASON…

UGH…

Sure that’s probably a really good thing.  Actually, it’s a blessing that I am grateful for quite often.  I’m grateful that I have to take it slower and actually see my life go by.  I don’t get a chance to be sprint through it.  I get an opportunity to get to know myself (scary sometimes yet really nice to do), to get to know others out there in the world who are cashiers and other customers for example, to smell the flowers, to really take care of my plants, to love on my dearest Cleo Kitty, to sit and just BE (so hard sometimes), to take my time, to look at the sky, to watch the world, to take a few extra breaths and maybe even DEEP BREATHS here and there…

BUT I WANT THE CHOICE to GOOOGOOOOGOOOO…or Do I?

I really have no idea.

I just don’t like having multiple sclerosis and lupus.  That’s just it.  I can’t stand them.  I want them to go away.  If I’m not careful I get sucked into a black hole of “Why me?” and “What did I do to deserve this?” and “Why won’t they just leave me alone?” and the list goes on and on…I think I could go on forever in what I call “WHOAISMS” and sometimes I believe I’m allowed to do that.  But I hope I have something to pull me out and I usually do.

So then I need to really work on spirituality whatever that means to me that day.  I could be meditating.  I could be actually letting myself sleep if my body and schedule allows.  I could be looking at the flowers.  I could be beating on my Bongos.  LOVE THAT by the way!  Seriously, if you have anger, I suggest you find something to beat on as long as it’s not yourself, or another living being, or something you’re going to damage—hmm….maybe I shouldn’t have mentioned to find just anything to beat on.  For a long time I’ve used the Hulk Hands that are out in toy stores that Corey has bought me (the first pair really was the best) that actually had Hulk’s voice and yelled, “Hulk Smash!” and would growl so when I put them on I got to laugh and feel big and strong and punch the wall.  I don’t recommend punching a wall without that kind of cushion.  PLEASE BE CAREFUL WHATEVER YOU DO.

But then now I have these Bongos and that’s great but I can’t just jump in and do a long set of banging.  I have to pace myself and only do it a few minutes at a time and build up to longer because then my hands and arms hurt.  Well, that’s just great.

So that’s what I mean, I’m always putting limits on myself and what I can do but in TRUTH: THERE REALLY ACTUALLY ARE LIMITS.  I’d like to continue to be able to use my hands and arms which are the most affected by both my lupus and MS and I’d also like to not feel the pain and throbbing from having overused them…on the bongos that I just enjoyed banging on to help me relax and calm down…

Then there’s the exercise.  Exercise is great to keep me flexible and stable.  Yay.  Go me.  Notice I’m not too excited about it.  Some days it feels like real work and like my body is complaining the ENTIRE TIME.  Then other days my body is thrilled and wants to be stretched and moved even more.  But again, there are actual limits if I want to keep functioning.  It is cumulative.  However, WALKING HAS BECOME MY THING.  I am well on my way to having walked 300 days in a row by the end of February.  AND THERE IS A LIMIT TO THAT.  I need to NOT JUDGE myself about walking and what I did that day.  I need to not push myself to walk an hour every day.  I need to be willing to only even walk a few minutes if that’s all I can do.  The TRUE BENEFIT comes out of keeping my legs and body moving and honestly, it’s helped my mind immensely too.  I have so much more confidence now than I used to in general just because of walking but they have truly loosened up and become more stable, strong and can endure more.  They DON’T complain that often anymore.  And by now it’s become such a habit to take a walk that I can’t imagine my life without it.

But then there’s trying to have a life.  I know.  Crazy.

A LIFE.

You know, that life where I can socialize with people, maybe even have some real friends out here in LA, maybe even keep in touch with the friends and family at a distance, spend more time with my husband, get out into the world and do things besides grocery shopping (although that is important too), and doctor appointments, and medical tests and be on the phone with something regarding Disability, Medical Insurance, following up with doctors, finding an attorney for a legal issue, filling out paperwork and the list goes on.  And what about being creative?  I yearn to be creative but I can’t do too much OR I have to slow down and my body asks for it.  But when will that happen?

WHEN AM I DOING TOO MUCH?  WHEN IS IT WORTH IT TO PUSH IT?  WHERE IS THE LINE?

There is no pattern or predictability.

Again, the worst part about these diseases is the UNPREDICTABILITY.

For goodness sakes, if only they were PREDICTABLE.  What a different world it would be.  I might be able to make plans and keep them.  I might be able to sign up to take regular hobby classes or regular ANYTHINGS.

I mean, let’s not forget it takes me at least 4 hours to get ready in the morning if I’ve included waking up, stretching my body in bed to get it moving again (tends to get stuck and stiff from sleeping if I’ve slept that is), do more stretches to stand up, follow a spiritual way of life (numerous ways to do that and I try to be creative with that), probably go to the bathroom (I know TMI), take a few pills, feed and be with my Cleo Kitty who has health issues of her own and is desperate to eat by 7am or ELSE, try to wake up a bit more before eating and taking more meds, plan out my day, get stuff ready to go if I have a medical appointment and I usually have at least one a week (the next 3 weeks I have 2 each week–goody gumdrops for me), pull myself together meaning exercise to the best of my ability to wake up my body, take a shower which is an event in itself and can take a lot out of me, not to mention brushing my teeth (an electric toothbrush is best so I can save my hands and arms and their energy), get dressed, try to make my hair look presentable (thank goodness for purple short hair so it’s already kinda cool and easy), pet and love my Cleo Kitty who always needs extra love and well so do I, make sure I wear my hat to protect from the sun, wear my sun protective jacket or at least a shirt with longer sleeves, get Cleo ready for me to be gone, make some sort of business calls if I have the chance, try to sit and rest here and there because it’s a lot to ask my body since so much activity has already happened, try to maybe wash the dishes or at least some of them, sort through any weird symptoms I’m having and do my best to take care of them, and the list can still go on.

THAT’S JUST THE MORNING EVENTS…no matter what even if I’m feeling crazy fatigue–I may go back to bed but what if I can’t because I have an appointment?  I’ve gotta get through it.  I’m so exhausted from thinking about my morning and writing about it that I haven’t even written the next parts of the day where I have to keep myself in check and have all my meds sorted out to take and make sure I take them on time and have meals at good times or I end up feeling worse.

And there’s always laundry to be done.  Can I do it today?  Should it wait?  What if we need underwear?  (Hey, I’m being honest).  And what about groceries?  What about the “What abouts”?

What’s the real priority?  There’s always some sort of life that needs to get done and if I let it go it’s still there tomorrow and I have to try to be ok with not getting it done YET.  I’ll admit, that is one of my biggest struggles.  LETTING SOMETHING GO UNTIL TOMORROW…OR ANOTHER DAY…OR ANOTHER DAY…

YET SOME THINGS CAN’T WAIT…

I’VE LEARNED TO LET GO OF A LOT BUT THAT DOES NOT MEAN I’M OK WITH IT.

So life just keeps on happening.  I keep having multiple sclerosis and lupus along with all the other syndromes and issues and the world keeps spinning.  Thank goodness for choices but it’s still so hard sometimes.  I really have eased up on so much in my life and with my expectations but it takes a strict way of thinking that I really can’t get lazy with too much (sometimes it’s a wonderful thing but I can’t let go of it too long or I lose myself again and may go back to pushing too hard)…

SO I GUESS I’M STILL LEARNING…

THESE CHRONIC ILLNESSES I TELL YA…

There is just so much I can say about them and so much I don’t have the words or energy to talk about.

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