Your Chronic Illness Makes You Strong

I do my best every day to hide my pain and exhaustion. Most days I’m successful, but days like today I can’t even manage to make my smile look genuine. When you have a chronic illness, you don’t get to choose your good days, and there’s no telling how many hours of “good” you’ll get before it all comes crashing down.

Days like today you wake up from a full night’s rest, but feel like you haven’t rested at all. You fall asleep standing up in the shower, a body part you’ve never had pain in before will suddenly hurt like hell, you’re shivering in 90 degree weather, and it feels like you have weights strapped to your body. Days like today you do the bare minimum. Your hair is dirty, but your shoulders hurt too bad to wash it. Your have dark circles and a puffy face, but you don’t have the energy to put on any makeup. You throw on your comfiest jeans, shirt, and shoes so you don’t have to worry about your body hurting from uncomfortable clothing. Then you look in the mirror and don’t even recognize yourself, and you hope people don’t think you’ve let yourself go, because you did try your best to put yourself together.

Even after all of this, you have to look at yourself again and realize how much strength you have. You got out of bed this morning. You managed to shower. You made it to work. You did your chores. You really have strength when you have a chronic illness. Even if you don’t look like you care about yourself, you do, because people who care about themselves get through their day no matter how hard it is. You go to bed more exhausted than when you got out of bed, but you still accomplished something today, and that is what makes you strong. You faced the day with a smile on your face (genuine or not), and that is what makes you brave. Your illness gives you the drive to fight for your life day in and day out. YOU ARE AMAZING.

 

Fibro

Photo of Alexandra Jane Welcome taken by me: https://tianalachellephoto.pixieset.com/alexandra/waterfall/

 

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Nine years of pain, and finally getting a diagnoses.

“Nothing is wrong with you.”

“You’re very young and healthy.”

“You probably just need some rest.”

“Here’s a few days worth of medication. Come back if you don’t feel any better.”

These are just a few of the things I’ve repeatedly heard over the years. I’ve been in pain since I was a teenager due to a back injury. Any pain I had felt in my body since then I always just assumed was because of said injury. I had learned how to tolerate my pain for so many years, that I also tolerated any other symptoms, including the Anxiety I was diagnosed with at 16.

2012 came around and I’d finally had enough. I made an appointment with my Doctor to try some medication for my anxiety. While at my appointment I was also diagnosed with OCD, and given a prescription for Zoloft and an emotional support pet.

Fast forward 4 months. I had been experiencing pelvic pain for about 2 years, and was told it was due to my IUD. The pain got so severe I had to spend the night in the ER. Pelvic exam: Normal. CT scan: Normal. Urine sample: Normal. I was sent home with nothing for the pain, no answers, and a recommendation to see an OBGYN in 2 weeks. I did just that, and of course everything came back normal. I’d had enough, and got my IUD removed a few months later.

Between that time and May of 2017, I had regularly visited different OBGYN offices to get pelvic exams, blood test, ultrasounds, etc. All normal, and the pain was always checked off as period cramps or a temporary annoyance. Then in May of this year, I was once again experiencing severe pelvic pain. This occurred after a 30 day period, followed by an 8 day period a week after that (which I had seen my OBGYN for, and of course all tests came back normal). I went into the clinic and had explained to the PA my usual symptoms “Pelvic pain, back pain, months of fatigue, and night sweats”. She figured it was a ruptured cyst, and sent me home with a prescription for Naproxen. She told me if I wasn’t feeling better in a couple days, I would need to come in for an ultrasound. She called the next day to check up on me. I was feeling better, but still in pain. She made an appointment for me to come in for an ultrasound. Two days later I had my ultrasound, which came back normal. She sent me home with different pain med, and advised me to go to the ER if the pain doesn’t go away.

Nine years of back pain (which now resulted in knee pain, shoulder pain, neck pain, head pain, etc.), seven years of pelvic pain, and a countless number of times hearing the word “normal”. You can imagine how much I hate that word. I was at a loss at this point. Multiple Doctors, and all the research I could possibly do, but no answers. A couple months pass, and the fatigue I’ve been feeling since the Holiday’s is getting worse and worse every passing week. I could no longer function like this. I finally took the advice of an acquaintance, and made an appointment with my regular Doctor to talk to him about Fibromyalgia.

When this acquaintance mentioned fibromyalgia to me, I denied it. My best friend has fibro, and there was NO way I did as well. Her pain seemed much worse than mine. I can’t have what she has. I kept telling myself that my anxiety and OCD were making me tired and tense.

I was wrong. My Doctor diagnosed me with fibromyalgia. The F word I really didn’t want to hear. He gave me the news, told me to get rest and exercise, gave me a sample of Lyrica, and sent me on my way. After my appointment, I sat in my car and took a couple minutes to cry. It was a bittersweet experience. I was crying because of the diagnoses, but was also crying because I was happy to finally have answers after 9 years of frustration. I realized also that just because other people may seem to have it worse than me, doesn’t mean that I’m not in pain as well. It may just be a different kind of pain. Fibro is different for everyone. I may have a symptom that someone else doesn’t, but we share the same illness.

After being diagnosed, I had the most amazing support from my husband, family, friends, and even strangers. I feel lucky to have such amazing people in my life, and hope other have the same support as well. I’ve also realized how strong I am. I’ve been through all of this, and have still pushed through it all. I will not let my illness get in the way of living my life. I appreciate my life so much more now. I realize that I do need to rest, and I won’t be able to do all the things that I want to do, or the things that other people are doing, but I’m still going to do everything I possibly can. I refuse to let my pain and exhaustion stop me from doing the things that I love. My diagnoses does not define me. define my diagnoses.

Perfectly fitted pants

It is not 1955.

I try to keep rants off my blog, but I’m becoming more and more irritated through the years when comes to assumptions and comments about equality in my (and many people in this young generation) marriage. It’s 2017. We are all equal in and out of marriage.

Never ask someone “who wears the pants in the family”. It is the most outdated and infuriating question. When it comes to my marriage, we both have our own pairs or perfectly fitted pants. We do things equally and balance each other out when one is better at something than the other.

Stop acting surprised when I say Joe does the majority of the cooking. He’s a damn good cook and makes my belly happy. I love to cook too, and I do cook a fair amount of the time, but Joe is the master chef in the family. Ask any of our friends!

Stop acting shocked when you find out I make slightly more money than Joe does. And please, don’t ask how Joe feels about me making more money. It’s offensive, and he’s totally fine with it. He knows I’ve worked hard, and he’s proud of me. There is absolutely nothing wrong with the wife making more money, and there is nothing wrong with being a stay at home dad if it works out that way. Women work  hard too, men can take care of kids too. There’s nothing shocking about it.

While we’re on the subject of money, no, I do not spend all my money on clothes and makeup. We split the bills. We both pay mortgage, buy groceries, dog food, etc. I have bills that I pay, he has bills that he pays. We don’t share a bank account, so stop assuming I’m using his hard earned money on myself whenever I want. I don’t know why people think all women are constantly using their husbands money to go get their hair and nails done.  Everything we own, we both work equally hard for.

Stop acting like stay at home moms or dads don’t do as much as their working counterparts. I’m not a mother myself, but I have plenty of friends who are. I see their exhaustion. I’ve talked to them about their stress and their daily routines. It’s exhausting just hearing about it. Moms work so damn hard. Being a mom is a 24/7 job, and there is nothing wrong with being a stay at home mom. Just remember that if you are, you are equal to your working significant other. Never feel less than because you don’t make the money or pay the bills. You are a fucking rock star that deserves more than you think you do.

To end things, I just want to thank my amazing husband for treating me with so much respect. We’ve had multiple conversations about everything stated above. We can both appreciate the equality in our marriage. I love how he’s constantly teaching me new things and encouraging me to learn how to check my oil, change my tires, etc. He’s always proud of my accomplishments, and complimenting my strength. We are an amazing team, and he’s never seen me as less than himself because of gender or abilities. We work together at everything, and I think it’s so important in a relationship to be equal. Thanks for taking the time to read my rantings!

Cleanse #2

It’s time for my social media cleanse for the month of February. I started a day early (January 31st), because I just needed a break. I’ve been so stressed and tired, and I wanted some time to myself. I’ve already finished a book that I absolutely loved. Dystopian books are my absolute favorite, so if anyone has suggestions, send them my way!

Day 2 of my cleanse, I decided that I needed a much longer break from Facebook, so I deleted it. I’ll probably reactivate it in the future, but for now I’m loving not having it. I feel much less stress and anxiety now that I’m not seeing all of the politics and arguing. I know I need to stay informed, but Facebook isn’t the way to do it. I’ve seen little positivity lately on all sides, and it’s made me emotionally exhausted.

Alpha and I have been working on our house. We’ve been so productive with tearing down wall paper, scraping off popcorn ceiling, and ripping up carpets. We’re almost done will all of that, then we can do the fun stuff (paint)! Normally I would document these things on Facebook or an Instagram story, but I realized people probably don’t even care, so I’m glad I’m doing this during my cleanse.

The more I’ve stayed off of social media, the more I’ve realized that people don’t really give a shit. You’re virtually surrounding yourself with people you haven’t seen since freshman year, or people you’ve never actually met. You follow people on Instagram who don’t even care about your existence. It sounds depressing, but it actually makes you more grateful for the real people in your life. Don’t get me wrong, I know social media is amazing for many reasons, but overall it’s kind of soul sucking.

When I’m not on social media, seeing what my friends post, I actually miss them more. I think about everyone I love daily, and how much they mean to me. Their text messages and voices make me feel more peaceful than ever, and seeing them is more meaningful. I’m counting the minutes until my girls night with my favorite people tonight. I just need some cozy time and deep conversations with my besties.

I don’t really have much more to say other than I’m loving life right now, even with all the stress. I feel like I’m keeping myself busy in healthy ways, and strengthening friendships. I’m constantly improving on my photography (should I blog my work?) and feel more confident in my modeling. I’m incredibly happy right now, and I’m excited for how bright my (social media reduced) future is. I just want to thank everyone who has been there through all of my mental health issues and hard times. Everyone who has listened to me, encouraged me, and supported me. You know who you are and I hope you know how much you mean to me. Love you so so much ❤

Cleanse #1

It’s my first monthly social media cleanse. I un-installed all of my social media apps last night, and logged out on my home and work computers. I honestly thought it would be easier. I’m surprised at how attached I am to my phone. I don’t feel like I need it, but it’s definitely become a habit to pick up my phone and open an app for every free second I have. When I’m waiting on hold at work, my phone is in my hand, when I’m in line at the store, my phone is in my hand. I’ve taken every spare moment I’m not doing anything to obsess over the lives of other people.

Once I noticed that I was picking up my phone during these times, but had no apps to click on, I wondered how much I’ve missed in those small passing moments. I’m very good about not being on my phone when I’m out with friends, or eating at a restaurant with Alpha, but what about the times I’m by myself? Why have human interactions become so hard for people? Why do I find it so awkward to be out in public without my nose in my phone? I’m sad that I may have missed a couple kissing on a bench, a kid walking his dog, or father holding his newborn baby girl with a smile on his face. Before smart phones, I was super observant of people in real life, now I’m only focused on a tiny screen, “liking” pixilated photos of my friends neighbors cousins uncles dog (exaggerating, but you know what I mean).

I’m only on day 1, and I’ve already realized all of this. I’m hoping by the end of my first cleanse, I won’t be reaching for my phone at all times anymore, and enjoying the what’s going on in the real world more. When I’m sitting in the car with Alpha, I want to be present, and starting conversations with him. When I’m sitting at my friends house, I want to give her my undivided attention, even if we aren’t doing anything. I want to be a part of the real world. I can’t wait to go home and just read a book. I may post more experiences and realizations tomorrow if I have anything interesting to share.

Note: I didn’t log onto social media to post this. I just posted it directly from my blog. I didn’t cheat, pinky swear 🙂


Photo by @alexandrajane21 

Connect

I can’t believe 2017 is less than 2 weeks away. I’ve been thinking a lot about what I want to accomplish next year. I have a lot of things in mind, and am creating a game plan to reach goals. There are a lot of important changes 2017 will bring me (I hope), and one main thing I want to focus on is connecting. I want to find a deeper connection with every aspect of my life. Relationships, nature, hobbies, you name it.

I’ve been actively thinking about how I can connect better. I came up with an amazing plan that I hope I can stick with, and maybe it’s something you’ll want to try out as well. As much as I love social media, I’ve realized that the connections we make through our apps and websites aren’t always genuine or healthy.

I have had people tell me how jealous they are of my life based on what they see on social media. I noticed that I was sharing the best aspects of my life (like most people do), and I felt bad that people think I have all of my shit together. Trust me, I don’t. I’m generally pretty lazy, and I watch Netflix a lot. The worst part though, is that I use social media to cure boredom. When I’m at work, and have nothing to do I’m on Facebook. When I’m at home watching t.v. or lying in bed, I’m on Instagram or Snapchat. I’m always checking my phone for notifications.

So, my main goal in 2017, which will help me accomplish other goals, is to uninstall all of my social media apps at the beginning of every month for 3-7 days. I will no longer use my phone or social media because I’m bored. I hope it gets easier over time, and I’ll start doing it more than once a month. Here is a list of things I’m wanting to do while I take my monthly breaks from social media.

 

  • Spend more quality time with family and friends
    • This includes taking my nieces/nephews out on dates, having craft nights with friends, and going on plenty of walks, hikes, and new places with all of my loved ones.
  • Monthly date night with Alpha
    • Come up with new date ideas together, and always take time out of our schedules to make it happen.
  • Interact more with my wolf cubs.
    • Take my dogs on more walks, play with them more, spend individual time with them at the dog park, and share (dog friendly) meals with them. Also, grooming them more often cause they are nasty.
  • Read
    • There was a short time a couple years back that I was reading every day. I absolutely love reading, but I never pick up any books, even if I buy them. So, book recommendations please?
  • Exercise
    • I started back a the gym with Alpha yesterday. We’re both determined to get into shape and be sexy! I want to try new workout routines, work on flexibility, and become a yogi.
  • Improve with my photography and editing
    • Study camera functions, Lightroom, learn how to use Photoshop, and learn how to work lighting better. I want to create some beautiful art.
  • Learn new things
    • I know, vague right? Really though, I want to learn more about astronomy, botany, agriculture, biology, and oh so many things.
  • Get crafty
    • I suck at crafts. They never turn out how I want them to. I’m going to master crafts this year! I also want to get into candle making if anyone wants to do that with me
  • Cooking
    • I’m going to learn so many new recipes! Since I’m trying to stay away from dairy, I need to learn how to cook vegan meals that I can add chicken to when I need some protein. I also want to learn how to bake desserts and bread from scratch. So there’s a chance you’ll get some cookies at your door this year.
  • Video diary
    • I’ve been wanting to create a video diary of my adventures with family and friends. I never saw many photos or videos of my mom growing up, or with her friends. I really want to capture all of those moments through video as well as photos.
  • New hobbies
    • Through all of this, I really want to find new hobbies. Whether it’s exercise, a specific craft, or videography. I want to start new hobbies with friends so we can do them together.
  • Talk on the phone
    • Talking on the phone instead of texting all the time. I want to hear the voices of my friends, and have conversations. I want to know how their kids are doing, or what they ate that day.
  • Spend time in nature
    • I’m very fortunate to live in a state where the mountains are a 5 minute drive away, and there’s a park in every direction. I want to spend time growing a garden, reading in the park, and just sitting by the river for no other reason than to hear the sounds of everything around me.

 

There are many more things I could add to my list, but I’ll leave it at that for now. Starting January 2nd, I will take time off of social media and try something different to entertain myself. I will also try to be more genuine on my social media. I don’t want people thinking I’m a perfect person with a perfect life. I’m not, just in case you were wondering 🙂 This will be my last post before Christmas, so I hope you have the happiest of Holiday’s! Stay warm!

One Body, One Mind, One Life

Breathe…

2016 has been a hell of a year. I honestly believe it has been the best year of my life, for multiple reasons. All of these reasons have come down to one thing: Taking care of myself.

I still have quite a long way to go, but I’ve learned how important it is to take care of yourself. I’m not only talking about diet, exercise, and appearance. I’m talking about mental health and wellness as well.

First let’s talk about hair. I know this may be a small, unimportant thing to most people, but to me it’s a big deal. I’ve struggled with my hair for 2 years, after bleaching it to the point where it was falling out and breaking off. I just really wanted pink hair. Well, it got so bad that I had to chop it off 4 different times until all of the dead hair was gone. The last time I chopped my hair was in March. In April, I stopped using straighteners and curling irons. The only heat I was putting on my hair was minimal blow drying. I also started using oils, and getting bi-monthly deep conditions. My hair has grown, and I haven’t seen a single split end since. I straightened my hair for the first time since yesterday, and I was shocked at how healthy and soft my hair was. I’ll still stay away from styling tools until my hair is suuuuper long.

Okay, let’s get onto the more serious stuff. I’ve suspected that I have thyroid problems since I was 16, but every test came back  negative. Finally, I had enough, found a new Dr. and discovered I have hypothyroidism. A few days before I got my results, I stopped eating beef thanks to a bad experience from a restaurant. My Dr. told me my cholesterol was high (WTF I’m only 24!), so I started eating better, and not eating beef was obviously a good choice. I started cutting out other meats too, specifically pork and processed meats. Because I’m anemic (I know, what else could possibly be wrong with me), I had to be very careful with my diet, but I’ve been able to keep enough iron in my body apparently, because I feel fine!

This summer, as you know if you’ve read my blog, my anxiety started getting unbearable. I had held off getting medicated for 2.5 years because my last medication was awful. I was trying to “medicate” myself in other ways. One of those ways was getting rid of toxic relationships. In June/July I ended some relationships (some required ghosting, oops) that just weren’t good for me. I was feeling constant anxiety and self worth issues because of these relationships, and it just wasn’t good for my mental  health. If you know me, I’m a huge advocate for getting rid of toxic people. I do the best I can to keep relationships working as long as possible, and give people the benefit of the doubt. But sometimes it’s just not worth your emotional health.

Fast forward to October. I had literally tried everything I could think of to help my anxiety. Exercise, meditation, getting out of the house more, etc. Nothing worked and it was only getting worse. I finally decided that I needed medication. I voiced my concerns to my Dr. about my previous medication, and he prescribed me something he thought would be perfect for me, and it was. Out of all the things I’ve done to take care of myself this year, getting medicated was by far the best decision I’ve made. I can’t stress enough how important it is to get help with your mental disorders. They’re too difficult to deal with alone.

Some things I’ve been doing more recently have really changed the game. In the last 2 weeks, I’ve been eating much much better.  Most of my meals consist of fresh fruit and veggies. I very rarely eat boxed dinners, pre-made dinners, or fast food, and when I do I always go for the healthier option. Obviously I’ve splurged (I couldn’t say no to that pizza), but I’ve been noticing a huge difference in my body. Not only do I look better, but I feel so much better. I have more energy in general, which means I have more energy to actually cook good meals and keep my house tidy! One of the best parts? My skin has cleared up so much. I’ve struggled with acne most of my life, so this was a huge wake up call for me. I already knew I had a milk allergy, cutting out dairy 99% for one week has been amazing! I also haven’t worn a bra in almost 2 weeks, and my boobs feel great…but you probably don’t really need to know those details.

I’m really excited for what 2017 has to bring. I’m going to try really hard to keep up with what I’m doing, as well as add some other steps to better health. Exercise is one thing I always give up on. I really need to get my butt into gear and do a better job with that. Another goal I have is to drink more water. I drink a decent amount, but not nearly as much as I should be drinking. The Holiday’s are always hard when it comes to dieting, but I think I’m determined enough to say no to most things (except cheesy potatoes, because let’s be real). That being said, I will be giving any Christmas candy away, so let me know if you want dibs!

I really hope that you all take care of yourselves. I know it’s hard in the beginning to get motivated, but once you do it is so worth it. There is always something to work on. We only have one body, one mind, and one life. I’m very grateful I realized that this year and have been working toward a new, happier, healthier me. If anyone needs help getting healthy, I’m always here to talk! I’m no expert, but I do love helping out. Don’t hesitate to reach out to people if you need help bettering yourself!