Women Power & Purpose

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We have just passed the sad anniversary of when I went out on Disability.  I have been thinking about the 4 years since that happened and what has occurred in my life.  And what has stood out to me, has been the stand out and stand up Women I have met in this time.  I have met 4 women, through the course of my new journey that are Powerful, Grateful, Kind and Loving all in different ways, but all in ways that reach out to you.

3 of these women, I am proud to call my friend.  The 4th is a recent addition to my world, but she is unlike anybody I have ever met, as she is a Nun, who is also a Licensed Massage Therapist.  I went for a massage yesterday and also received a blessing as she prays at the beginning and end of the session.  I am not religious and not even Catholic, but yesterday I felt the presence of God during the session.  I so wish this woman was my grandmother, as she has spunk beyond her years and a twinkle in her eye.

All these women have their own life stories to tell, filled with their own trials and tribulations, yet all show up every single day with a welcoming smile on their face and are just grateful to be here another day.  Another one of these woman is a Reiki Healer and being with her is like transcending time.  When you are with her, an inexplicable peace just fills your body and you feel calm and relaxed.  There is an energy emitted by this woman and it too envelopes you beyond which any words can describe.

The last 2 women, are either struggling with their own illness, or the illness of a close loved one, yet they are grateful and appreciative for everything good thing in their life and try not to dwell or drown with the bad part.

I am so eternally grateful that my illness has brought these 4 Amazing Women to me.  They are role models and mentors in many ways and I hope they all know how much their friendship means to me.  I think about how they struggle, yet always sound cheery when we speak and never complain about these troubles, just talk about them as part of their life.

When you are struggling with a chronic illness or dealing with a chronic illness the illness creates your “new normal”, in such that now it is part of your new life and going back to your old life is not even possible.  Right now all I can do is accept my “new normal” and be thankful that I have these “new friends” to share them with.

 

People that make you Feel Alone

robinwilliams

This week there has been a lot of press about Robin Williams and his unfortunate suicide.  It is very hard to hear about anybody taking their own life, but when one of the funniest men in my lifetime ends his life, it’s almost unimaginable to think about the pain this man must have been in.

Last year, someone sent me the quote I posted above and I’ve kept it and thought about it often.  I thought Robin was so right in what he said.  It’s much easier to be alone, than to feel alone when surrounded by people.  It seems weird to think that when there are other people around, you can feel lonelier than when you are actually alone, but it’s true.  I know the feeling and I think it’s because when I’m alone, I’m at peace and there are times when I’m surrounded by people but I feel turmoil.

I pick up on other people’s energy more than most and that’s why I don’t like to be around certain individuals.  Normally I am very chatty and inquisitive.  I can talk to almost anyone and make them feel at ease, except when I am around people that exude a certain type of energy… whether it’s an arrogance or a belittlement or rudeness.

It is quite clear that all living things have a life force, a life energy, that can be used to do work and make things happen. It is this creative energy that is very real, but can’t be seen.  It is obvious that Robin Williams had an abundance of creative energy.  It animated him and gave him so much life that when I watched him on television at times, it almost seemed like he was a cartoon character.

Robin was full of life, but I guess he also was full of the demons that occupy so many people’s brains.  How come some people can balance the good and the bad (because we all have that in our life) and some can’t.  What makes some of us rebound on a daily basis and others just retreat.

Yesterday,  it was revealed that Robin was recently diagnosed with Parkinson’s and that he couldn’t face this newest illness.  My dad had Parkinson’s for the last 10 years of his life and it did make his life much hardier and less enjoyable, but he faced his demons daily and lived with his limits without complaining.

I am saddened that this great comedian, who seemingly had it all: money, glamour, stature, a loving family couldn’t see there was hope for him and that he had no other choice.  It makes me see how strong I am, because I suffer everyday, with no cure for my illness, yet the thought of ending my life has never once crossed my mind.  I am not passing judgement on anyone, it just pains me to think that this man felt he had nooptions.

 

Finding my PURPOSE

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I’ve been ill for 5 years now and I really don’t know where the time has gone.  What have I accomplished or learned in these 5 years, if anything I’ve gone backwards not forwards.  Lately I’ve been struggling to figure out my purpose in life and why I became ill and what lessons am I learning from being ill.   My Reiki practitioner said that I fear moving forward and that this fear is  keeping me sick and stagnant and that I am blocked and must find my way out.  She said that she envisions me in a field jumping through leaves being happy and carefree and able to walk and move about freely. She has told me repeatedly that I will not stay in this state forever.

So what is holding me back?  How can I find my “new” purpose in life because whatever I thought my purpose was before I became ill, is outdated.  I vaguely even remember my healthy life anymore.  When I look at pictures, it’s like I’m looking at someone else’s life.   Getting up at 7 am, commuting to work, putting in a 10 hour work day, socializing over dinners and weekend excursions.  That isn’t your purpose in life, that is how you pass your life, so did my life ever have purpose?  Do most people’s lives have real purpose?

If I think about the people in my life, there are a handful that definitely live a purposeful life.  They try and help others, give back to the community, raise awareness and are just plain kind and loving to all humans and animals alike.  But most of the other people I know are just getting through the daily grind and not even appreciating all the gifts they have in their life.

The definition of PURPOSE is “the reason for which something is done or created or for which something exists”.  What have I been put on this earth to accomplish?  Is it to enlighten others as to how illness changes you?  So many people that become ill, remake their lives and try and help others so what special twist on that can I add.  I’m really not sure yet and maybe when I stumble upon what makes me special and unique, I will feel free and move forward.

I know I am a good person.  I am kind, compassionate, empathetic, smart but where has that taken me.   I love learning things, figuring things out and observing people.  What am I missing about what my life is supposed to be…

I hope I realize my true mission in life very soon.  Our life is what we do EVERY minute of EVERY day.  I know it is each of our own responsibility to create the future we want, but does sitting around and wondering what it will be limit the possibilites?  I must  trust and live in the present and let go of my fears of the future.  Fears of living alone, fears of becoming sicker, fears of not being able to support myself or take care of myself.  These are all fears that I have and that I try to put to the side, but they are real concerns.

For right now, I will try and embrace my life and not worry about what the future will hold.  Maybe the answer is right under my nose and if I start living in the present, it will make itself known to me.

To Stress or Not to Stress

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Living with a chronic illness is difficult enough, but your body isn’t immune to getting other conditions.  Wouldn’t it be great if once we had one illness, then we didn’t have to deal with any other one.  Unfortunately things don’t work that way.

I’m not an alarmist, never have been but dealing with an illness that has constant changing symptoms makes you very in tune with your body.  At least it does me.  I have always been very intuitive and very good at reading other peoples body language and mood changes, so it’s only natural that I am also very in sync with my own.

I don’t go running to the doctor at the first sign of new symptoms but I watch them and see if they progress, change or go away.  A few weeks ago I decided it was time to go check out some symptoms that were getting worse and that had to do with my heart and breathing.

I have always had low blood pressure, but about 3 years ago (2 years into this illness) my pressure changed and while it changed to what the doctors considered “normal” it wasn’t my normal.  At the exact same time, I also started getting very strong palputations and heart flutters.  After about 6 weeks of these heart movements, I decided to find a cardiologist and have them checked out.

I had a slightly irregular EKG, but nothing that alarmed a doctor.  I also wore a halter monitor for a week and while they did see some weird activity, it wasn’t anything that warranted any medications or further tests.  I was told to deal with the palputations and come back in a year, unless my symptoms changed.  A year later the palputations were still present so I went back and this time had a sonogram, which showed some funky things going on with my left ventricle, but again was sent home to watch for changing symptoms and a yearly follow up.

Which bring us to this past month.  During the last 6 weeks, I have noticed a slight difficulty in breathing and an ache over my heart.  These 2 new symptoms caused me some concern and I decided since it was time to go back for a check up, I better do it sooner than later.  This time the doctor order a “Nuclear Cardiolite Stress Test”.

Panic set in.  I can’t walk on a treadmill, I can’t sit up in a doctor’s office for 6 hours, I can’t go without caffeine for 24 hours or without eating for 12 hours.  I”m weak to start, how can I even think about taking the test.  I made the appointment because that was what the doctor asked me to do, but in the back of my mind I knew I was going to cancel.

For the next 2 days, I was agitated and couldn’t sleep.  I really didn’t know what to do and went back and forth in my mind.  I asked the 2 closest people to me (who understood my condition) what do they think and both said that I shouldn’t do it.  But on the 3rd day, I decided I had to because the alternative was worse, “what if I really had heart problems and then had a heart attack?”

This was the first time since I’ve been ill, that I really had been faced with a medical decision about taking a complicated test.  I really had never thought about dealing with a second condition or going through a procedure that would tax my already weak and fatigued body.  It’s a scary thought that something else could be wrong and that dealing with my current illness would not be my first priority because what I am living with is a life long condition.

I hope to feel stronger and have less symptoms, but will I ever be totally free of this condition, probably not.  Do I hope to have less severe symptoms and be able to lead a normal life, yes I do.  So for now, I am happy to say that I survived the Stress Test.  It was difficult, very difficult, but the results did ease my mind.  But now, once again, I have unanswered questions and have been referred to a pulmonologist.

Why can’t anything be easy and have a solution?  I have decided to wait another while before dealing with more tests.  I’d like to try and enjoy the summer a little bit and not be sitting in doctor’s offices agonizing about lung scans and xrays and blood tests.  Just as these symptoms appeared, I am hoping they will disappear.

This experience did teach me that on day’s I think I can’t handle one more thing, I can.  Or on day’s when I am down on myself and fall in that deep hole of despair, to remind myself that things are really not the worst they could be and that I have to appreciate the current life I am trying to live.

New Year, New Ways to Improve Health

oilpulling

Yesterday I went to one of my many doctors for my routine quarterly visit and also to review my recent blood work.  All these doctor visits basically turn out the same way.  I wait for the doctor for about an hour, I actually am with the doctor for under 15 minutes, the doctor barely touches me or gives me a physical examination, they ask me how I’m feeling and I say about the same, they offer no new treatment options, I pay my copay and leave the office feeling frustrated.

Before I became ill I would rarely visit the doctor unless I needed an antibiotic or a flu shot.  I believed the doctors were there to help people and make them well.  Hey, they always seemed to return me to wellness and I had known several people who had major operations and after recuperating, all returned to a state of good health.

Now that’s not my belief anymore.  I have gone to hematologists, endocrinologists, rheumatologists,  physiatrists (pain doctors), generalists, immunologists, allergists, neurologists and cardiologists and haven’t been helped by any of them.

So I ask you, what’s a girl to do??  Take maters into her own hands.    Today I started a new Ayurvedic health routine called “oil pulling” or “oil swishing”.

A few days back, a friend of mine sent me an article about how to improve our general immune health, which I believe is key to fighting this illness as I think it is viral.  So yesterday after feeling dejected when leaving the doctor’s office, I stopped at a health food store and picked up some Organic Sesame Oil.

Here are the steps involved:

Step 1: First thing in the morning on an empty stomach and before drinking any liquids (including water), pour exactly one tablespoon of sunflower, coconut or sesame oil into your mouth.

Step 2:  Swish the oil around in your mouth without swallowing it. Move it around and through your teeth, as if it was mouthwash  Keep swishing gently, not vigorously, in a relaxed way for about 20 minutes.  When the oil has become saturated with the toxins it has pulled out, it may become whitish and a thinner, milky consistency, depending on the type of oil used.

Step 3:  As the end of the oil pulling session approaches, spit the oil out, then rinse the mouth with warm salt water and then brush your teeth.

I tried it this morning and didn’t make the 20 minutes, but will continually keep at it.  Today, at least I felt good that I was trying something new and being proactive.  The only things that have helped me, even temporarily, have been accupuncture and reiki, so I’m beginning to really believe that mainstream medicine is not THE HOLY GRAIL.

 

Out with the Old, In with the New

oldandnew

 

Welcome 2014!!   We’re all planning how the next year will be better and how we will try and improve upon ourselves, but what lessons have we learned from the past year.

I heard this quote for the first time about 10 years ago, “Insanity is doing the same thing over and over again and expecting different results” and  never has there been a truer saying, yet we continually do the same thing over and over again (at least I do) and hope that the outcome will be different.  Does that mean I’m insane (lol), I hope not.

For example:

  • I continually go back to the same doctors, even after they tell me there’s nothing more they can do for me and that I just need to deal and adjust
  • I continue friendships with people that I know are selfish and sometimes hurtful in their actions towards me
  • I keep taking the same medicines and supplements, even though I feel no real improvement with my symptoms

So what can I change in this new year to try and make a real difference in my life?

  • I can and will seek out new doctors, who are encouraging and offer new treatment options
  • I can and will stop listening to all the doctors that just prescribe endless medicines without any real promise of help and that have possible negative long term side effects
  • I can and will make more educated decisions regarding my health and well being, as the doctors know less about my day to day struggles than I do
  • I can and will spend less time with those people in my life that just suck the energy and life out of me
  • I can and will spend more time with those people that energize me and lift my spirits
  • I can and will spend more time doing the things that I really enjoy doing and save my limited energy for these activities
  • I can and will seek out new creative activities that fill my heart with happiness

So as my journey in 2014 begins, I hope that this year will bring a return to wellness and that on January 1, 2015 I can look back on today and realize that it was the day I began to break old patterns and take more control of my life.

 

 

With Hope, the Odds Don’t Matter

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Invisible Illness week, which occured in September is a start for bringing awareness and help to people living with Chronic Invisible conditions. October is Breast Cancer Awareness month and demonstrates how far we have to go in getting the word out about Invisible Illnesses.

Cancer research and awareness has been a grass roots operation and has gained amazing momentum over the years. This is so important in helping find a cure and in helping individuals survive a Cancer diagnosis.

My mom is a Breast Cancer survivor. At 82 she was diagnosed with Cancer and 2 1/2 years later, she is still alive. I am very, very thankful to all the Cancer research that has taken place to help people live and thrive even after the scary diagnosis.

This week, a fellow blogger contacted me and asked if I would share a video of his wife, Heather, who beat the odds after getting a Mesothelioma diagnosis.  3 months after giving birth to their first child, Heather was diagnosed and told she could have less than 15 months to live.   It is now 7 years later and Heather is thankfully still alive.  She beat the odds and has made it her mission to raise awareness and hope for people experiencing hard times.

Please watch this video at http://www.mesothelioma.com/heather and share her inspiring story.