Posts Tagged With: OK

THE OK POLICE

It’s time for a confession:

I haven’t written in awhile. It looks like it’s been over 2 months. The truth is, I’ve been watching my back. I’ve been keeping an eye on happenings around me. I’ve been looking over my shoulder even more. I feel like my last post revealed something illegal.

It feels ILLEGAL to say “I’m OK”.

WHAT????

To be honest, I have been waiting for the “OK Police” to track me down, to find me. Clearly if I have put in writing that “I’m OK” then I’ll be found out. How dare I have MS, lupus, IBS and all kinds of other issues and be OK? What am I thinking? Clearly then I should be working and living that “normal” life right?

I MUST be ready for a job. I MUST be ready to add that chaos back into my life. I MUST feel well enough to work.

Something happened in April of this year that I have yet to write about here because to be honest I’m still not ready to get into too many details. What I will say is that an entity who shall remain nameless stopped helping me financially and my legal counsel advised me that it was because by writing a Blog and being “able to write” then CLEARLY I can WORK.

OBVIOUSLY.

OH WHAT A FANTASY. I WISH IT WAS THAT EASY.

Or maybe it is right? Well let’s see what I can do in the morning if I were to go to work right now? I can get up early in the morning, stretch my body in the bed before I even get up because due to my MS and lupus my body has stiffened through the night, I can try to do some spiritual routines to help me have hope to get through even the next hour, I can shower which ALWAYS feels like an EVENT, I can put on all the creams and do all the Dermatologist ordered regimens in order to protect myself against sun sensitivity due to my lupus, I can feed my Cleo Kitty, I can think through my fog-addled brain that includes a regular feeling of tired along with MS fog and lupus fog, I can make my breakfast, I can take all my vitamins and medications, I can pull together a lunch for the day, oh yeah and how could I forget putting on clothes which can wear me out, I can put my shoes on with hands that are probably achy and stiff due to MS and lupus, I can do my stretches that usually now take 2 hours to do that have been provided to me by my Chriropractor, my Physical Therapist and those I have learned over the years, I can brush my teeth that requires movement of my hands and arms, I can go to the bathroom which is probably TMI and obvious to some but that depends on the ingredients of this experience, I can find my keys which even to normal people is hard to do, I can be sure to wear my sun protective jacket or shirt AGAIN because of my lupus sun sensitivity issues, I can put my hat on my head and flatten anything that might have looked like a PASSABLE hair do, I can grab my bags and hope I can even carry them, not to mention just dragging and pushing through all my symptoms I might be having for the day like FATIGUE which is a huge issue for me, stiffness as mentioned a bit before, weakness, balance issues, aches and pains, the itchies, HEAT FATIGUE which is separate from regular fatigue and is still playing a bit part of my life here in LA even as October looms, SUN FATIGUE where yes even the UV rays sneak through the CLOSED window blinds and can affect my lupus, dry mouth, dry eyes, numbness, tingling, nausea, constipation, and all the other digestive icky stuff and I could go on and on about symptoms, and THEN I can hopefully remember what I need to bring and actually bring it (Memory is also a serious issue and symptom), go into the hallways into different UV rays and temperature, lock the door if I can remember to, go into the elevator, deal with the fluorescent lights that could also affect my lupus due to the UV rays that blare from these awful lights, ride the elevator and hope I don’t get dizzy (another symptom) from movement, all the while hoping I can stand this whole time if my legs will let me, walk to my car, unlock it and put the stuff in my car and then get into the other side of the car…….AND is anyone else tired?  I mean, I haven’t even left the apartment building yet.

AND THAT IS JUST THE MORNING.

I’m exhausted just thinking about it. This is what I go through every morning if I have a morning doctor appointment to go to. This is what so many of us do. Have you all realized what you do in the morning? JUST the morning? It’s a wonder we can do anything EVER.

AND YET, I’M WORRIED ABOUT THE “OK POLICE”. That I might get “found out”.

I mean, Gawd forbid I say I’m OK. It’s as if the Disability Police are going to come and tackle me and say they “caught me”. That I’m going to admonished for being “OK”.

What is OK? Well, that is a very broad term for all of us. Yet some people and entities who shall not be named choose to think it must mean all is right with me or you or whomever it the subject of those 2 LETTERS.

2 LETTERS can implicate you. 2 LETTERS have the power to make me feel guilty. To make me feel guilty about what????? I have friggin’ MS and lupus! It’s a miracle to even think I could be the LETTERS “O” and “K”. Seems to me, those that think I can do more than I do should feel guilty if anyone.

Come on now. Sure, a lot of this is in my own head. But where did it come from? It came from a society that believes that we have to keep going and going and we’re NOTHING if we don’t keep going and we must be “LAZY” (if we stop and smell the roses for goodness sakes–needless to say I really don’t like that word because there is such a negative connotation to it) and that we have to accomplish the world and yet that’s never good enough is it? We live in a world that judges based on words, based on outward appearances when so much of what we ALL go through is invisible to the eye. So we live in a life of constant stress don’t we?

WHY?

Why are we so concerned with what others are doing?  Why do we decide it’s wrong? Why do I think I’m wrong for being “OK”? Why can’t I celebrate it?????

For so long I have struggled. For so long I have felt CRAPPY. For so long something was wrong.

So why be so worried about the “OK Police”? Why can’t I just live my life? Why on earth do I have to be punished for feeling a bit better?

BETTER.

Now there’s a wide open word for ya. Oh my goodness! She said she’s better so it must mean that all bad and uncomfortable things have come to an end. I have news for everyone who thinks these things and all entities who use that word to stop taking care of someone who actually deserves the help (YES I SAID DESERVES THE HELP)! Guess what???? BETTER DOES NOT MEAN THAT I AM ALL BETTER AND I AM READY TO STEP BACK INTO THE WORLD AND WORK MY BUTT OFF NOT JUST ON TAKING CARE OF ME BUT ALSO TO WORK 40 HOURS A WEEK AND WORK AT LEAST THE EQUIVALENT OF MY PAST JOB AND WORK UP TO 50 (YES I SAID 50) MILES AWAY FROM WHERE I LIVE! And yes I am yelling.

Better means there is improvement. It means that I don’t feel so absolutely miserable that I don’t know how I can make it another day. And no that has nothing to do with ending my life. It means what I just said. It means that maybe, just maybe I can eat more than toast. It means that I might even be able to write a bit. It means I might be able to take a shower without wearing myself out.

OH NO! I’m writing a Blog! A Blog! I can clearly work right?

WRONG. Since I’ve been writing this post today my hands and arms have been throbbing a bit but I am determined to write it. I will not keep it all in and be quiet and stuffed into a dark corner where no one even has to know I exist. I have news for you. I do exist. I have a name and I have a life and I am not less than. I deserve to be heard. I have so much that I could feel crappy about. I have so much reason to think no one wants to hear me or see what I write. Those are delusions however. I will FEEL this afterwards. I won’t be able to wash the dishes by hand because we have no dishwasher and it’s the only way to get them clean. I won’t be able to think clearly for awhile because I’ve used so much of my mind energy to write and focus on this that is also so fulfilling.  I won’t be able to do the 4 loads of laundry even with my husband’s help because I’ll need to rest. I also won’t be able to focus on the bills that need to be done. Yes, I even do bills. I struggle through them cognitively (I deal with a hard time concentrating quite often due to MS symptoms.)

Oh sorry. Should I have even mentioned that I can sometimes do dishes and sometimes even do laundry with help? Or that I do bills? Yes, even those of us who are disabled have bills to pay. Lots of them. We may not have a lot of money to pay for them though. Heck, we might even have more due to health insurance and other medical expenses that drive us out of our minds. Or maybe I shouldn’t be writing this because then it will look like I can work. Again, I’d be expressing myself too which might be bad.

My awesome Chiropractor, or Holistic Healing Coach as I like to call him, ordered me to celebrate me feeling better and turning a new corner to improved healing. He said I should shout it out. I still cowered a bit when he said that and he noticed it right away. “Why are you sinking a bit?”, he asked me. I had to tell him I felt guilty. “Guilty? Why? Embrace it! Don’t let anyone make you think otherwise, especially you.” I’m trying Dr. D I’m trying.

Isn’t that the whole point? Shouldn’t I be encouraged to take the time I need to be getting the help I need even financially that by the way is not mooching from the system? Shouldn’t it be OK to see me out and about? (There’s those 2 letters. Uh oh.) Shouldn’t I be cheered on to keep doing what I need to do so I can become even more of an “accepted” member of society? Here’s an idea. Perhaps if I keep doing what I need to do to heal and recover I can go back to working because yes, I do want to be working. Sure I don’t think I can ever go back to doing what I was doing or being in that kind of environment again. It was too chaotic. It was just too much for me. That’s OK. (those 2 letters just keep sneaking up on me). But I’d really like to help people in some way. That would be neat. Maybe there’s a future career in that for me.

So today I declare that I shall not let my own mind become the “OK POLICE”! I shall not let the thoughts, attitudes and feelings of others affect how I live my life. (Oh wow. This might be too much to ask for at once.) I shall not let others get me down.

I SHALL RISE UP!

Perhaps maybe even one day in the near future I’ll be better than “OK”. How cool would that be?

But I have news for everyone who thinks that I should be able to jump into the life of a “working” person. Actually, this brings me to a new tangent. Just writing that line has sidetracked me. I’m going to keep these thoughts in this order for you all to read because sometimes stream of consciousness is so important to help us understand each other. Here’s a thought:

I AM A WORKING PERSON ALREADY.

My JOB is to keep taking care of myself. Do you know how hard that is? How good are you at taking real care of yourself? It is much more than a full time job! Heck, I need an assistant just to help take care of ME. I DO WORK. I still go to AT LEAST one doctor appointment a week. I still have to chase down my medications and supplements. I still have to try to eat healthy. I still have to exercise. I still have to make sure I get enough rest because gosh darn it life is tiring and then adding multiple sclerosis and lupus on top of it magnifies it a gazillion times more.

IT’S WORK.

ANYWAY…back to having “news for everyone who thinks that I should be able to jump into life of a ‘working’ person” as mentioned above before my tangent. MS and lupus are no joke. They are not CHOSEN as part of my life path. They are DISEASES. They literally cause way too much “Dis-Ease”. They are always making me feel something uncomfortable. Yes, I am STILL always feeling a symptom. There has not been a break in years. Over 10 years AT LEAST. And they can get worse and flare up WITH NO NOTICE. They are completely unpredictable.

SO NO. I’m not OK enough to work just yet. I’m not sure I will ever be. This doesn’t make me feel so good about myself sometimes. It’s one of the hardest realities to ever have to live with.

WHY? Maybe we’re not all supposed to be members of the Rat Race. There are so many other ways to live our lives as part of humanity. If we all did the same thing we wouldn’t get anywhere.

So you know what, “OK Police”, try it. Try to tackle me and then what? Because here’s the thing. YOU ARE NOT GOING TO CURE MY MS AND LUPUS. THEY ARE ALWAYS GOING TO BE THERE.

And it is OK (I say this proudly now) for me to be OK. It is OK for me to need your help if I asked for it. It is NOT OK for you not to help me if you are judging all I do on what you read on a screen. (I am sending this message along to an entity who judged me by my writing.) And while I continue along this path of OK-ness I’d really like it if you would at least join me before judging. We can walk together. We don’t have to stand next to each other especially because I’ll still be working on even being “OK” with you being on my path but I’d really like it if you’d try to UNDERSTAND me first before PUSHING ME DOWN and doing your best to make me INVISIBLE.

And to tell the truth to my own mind, since this really is just one big discussion with my insecure sensitive mind, it’s been 2 months since I wrote that lost Blog post about how “I’m OK” and not once have I even caught a glimpse of the “OK Police”. I can let it go now. I can at least try to.

AND I WILL CELEBRATE AND EMBRACE THE FACT THAT I AM GETTING BETTER! Sure it’s not the better I want but it is still Progress. It doesn’t have to be Perfect (dang it), but it’s in the right direction. I deserve a good quality of life just like everyone else. And I am really starting to feel it.

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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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