Stigma – Mental Illness

I love when I find another posting that gives me a starting place to write since my mind is struggling so hard to have any focus these days.  The blog post after my own ramblings is what got me going today.

Remember back in high school how loud and boisterous and goofy I was? I was depressed. Remember going out dancing and laughing and going til all hours of the night sharing stories and talking about dreams? I was depressed. Remember when we went camping and we just were hanging out reading out books and having a beer and enjoying the sun? I was depressed.

I have suffered and struggled with depression most of my life. Often with good reason. I have endured many struggles and challenges. My grandmother when she was about 80 years old called me an old woman. Because I had lived so much life in my then 35 years.  Through counseling and therapy it has been determined  I have endured the depression itself for over 40 years.

For much of the time, you would never know it.  When I’m just dealing with it I just deal with it.  I try not to make IT the focus of my every day.  But for the last year, more and more I am sharing it because more and more it is taking over my life.  I keep plunging down further.

I share mostly by writing.  By postings on my FB page.  Or in my therapy or support group.  It’s too hard to share in person.  All I do is cry or get angry so talking with anyone is just not something I have been able to do very well.   And of course….it makes you uncomfortable to see my crying or hear that I wake up each day and battle all day long with the ideas of do I want to continue or not.

This young man most likely is not in the deepest valley as he is giving this talk.  He likely didn’t sit on the edge of his bed the morning he did this deciding if he wanted to live through the day or not.  He is most likely either on a peak, or at least able to rest somewhere along one of the mountain sides he traverses with his illness.  I say this because there have been times in my depression where I am able to be in front of people.  There have been times living with depression that I have been high functioning and going about my day quite like you do, only with a constant cloud over all that I do.

But currently…..I am in what feels like the deepest cavern I have ever experienced in my life.  Breathing is an effort.  Getting out of bed to go to the bathroom or try to eat something is overwhelming.   Yet, I know I am doing the best I can today.  I have been seeing my doctor and therapist.  I am taking my medications.  I really try to get out of bed and do something purposeful or enjoyable each day.  Yet there are many days it doesn’t work.  And I can’t do it consistently.  And life….it is just time passing by.  Staying here in bed and doing nothing has kept me breathing.  But it isn’t feeling much like living.   I am just trying to get through by keeping that window cracked to allow enough light in to remind me that there is hope on the other side.  It’s so faint these days.

I have struggled and overcome and persevered and lived through much in life already.  I am not sharing all of this to make you pity me or feel sorry for me.  I am sharing it because I think too often  depression is worsened by not being able to share it.  It’s a very lonely road.  In being selfish….I am reaching out trying to just still be part of the world even tho it’s so dark here where I am right now. Maybe I am searching for a little validation.  My coping with my physical pain and emotional pains is at an all time low.  I don’t like it and if I could make it stop or go away I would.  But I can’t.

I need some stability and security, I need a motor home!!!

I just wanted to get well enough to go back to work. I have always worked. I’ve always earned my way. But I can’t work anymore and I am scared. And tired. And overwhelmed. I need help.

I was picking up hazelnuts with my grandpa to earn Christmas money when I was 8 and 9 years old. I was cleaning ovens or babysitting by the age of 11. Then it was to picking strawberries or beans. I got my first “real” job opening up a brand new McDonald’s right after my 16th birthday. I worked in restaurants for years as a waitress. I cleaned houses and did lawn mowing for a few years and then started up my own landscape maintenance business and was the owner/operator and took care of about 40 lawns through the summer and did whatever I could during the winter months. One year I went door to door after Christmas hauling Christmas trees to the compost yard with all three of my kids all day for 3 days in a row to make rent. I worked for the brown truck company as a pre-loader until I got injured. 28 weeks of casts/walking boots and I wasn’t able to ever go back to that job.

I then went back to school. I was a single mom and tired of not making ends meet and not being able to provide for my kids. I wanted to work in the medical field. I started working as a receptionist in a lab. Then I became a CNA. Then I became a LPN. All through this time of working I was going to school. Sometimes I was working two part time jobs in addition to school and providing for my children’s needs as a single parent. Then I took a break and I  worked as a LPN for 6 years. I finally went back in 2007 and got my degree in Nursing and became an RN in June of 2008. Life was now going to be so much better. Easier. Finally barely making ends meet was done. My kids were grown and gone from home. This was going to be my time to work on creating the life I had dreamed of. A little place in the country with some animals and a big garden and places to play with my grandson.

I had battled an addiction to gambling for 15 years and finally about 18 months after getting my degree I admitted myself to inpatient treatment for 74 days. I finally got some help for PTSD and an anxiety disorder which had never been diagnosed before, but which I’d had symptoms of for years. I also have underlying chronic depression that had not been treated for a number of years. Going for treatment for my addiction helped me finally get to some of the issues that were the real problems. Another major leaf of my life was turning over. God had shown me a way to have the life I had hoped and prayed for.

After treatment I got myself a new apartment and went back to work full-time on a busy surgical unit. My daughter and my 6 month old grandson came to live with me. I was paying a large amount each month towards my old debt and was also able to provide a home for them too. I was actually putting some money in saving every month. I had a plan to be completely debt free in approximately 28 months with hopes of being able to have a down payment on a house in another 24 months.

Then just a couple of months after returning to work I was injured. It was my back. I already had a bad back from some injuries from a motor vehicle accident in 2004 as well as a couple of patient care related injuries. I had bulging discs in my lumbar region. This time I slipped, but I didn’t fall. Yet the rotation of swinging my arms and torquing my body to stay upright caused a severe muscle strain. I was put on light duty and was getting physical therapy, but it wouldn’t get better.

The fibromyalgia kicked in about 6 months into the treatment for my back injury. I had been diagnosed with it in 1998 and had worked with it in spite of being urged at that time to go on disability at that time. In fact I had worked hard and lost 40 lbs and worked out every day and got off all the medications I had used to take for it over the course of 2 years. But this injury kicked the fibromyaglia into high gear. I kept trying to do the light duty but some days I just simply could not get out of bed. I was in pain with my back and all my fibromyalgia symptoms were worse than they had ever been. And nothing we tried was working other than making me nearly comatose with medications. To me, that isn’t living. As well, I couldn’t work that way, let alone do anything else.

During that time I also got diagnosed with bursitis in both hips. I had thought it was the fibromyalgia, but it responded well to treatment with injections. Although the back pain and fibromyalgia symptoms finally got to a point that my doctor said I could not work at all anymore. That was in Feb. 2011. Other than when I had been injured with my leg or taking time off after having babies, I had not been without working or taking care of a household with children or going to school in as long as I could remember. I always worked!!!

I filed for Short term disability and long-term disability through my employer and was denied both. I appealed and lost. I got an attorney. I had no money coming in with the paycheck stopping. I used up what savings I had within 6 months. I was homeless. Since then I have moved 3 times trying to stay off the streets. I did finally get a small settlement which amounted to about 5 months of wages. I payed a bunch of bills and kept myself going until this last summer.

I kept trying different therapies to get better. Walking, exercising, gluten-free diets and Paleo diets and Pilates Physical Therapy. Over 15 years since being diagnosed with fibromyalgia I have tried so many treatments and I kept thinking if I could just get it to a daily low ache again I could go back to work. But it didn’t get better this time like it did back when I was first diagnosed in 1998. It didn’t respond the same way as it did before.

So last winter I broke down and filed for Social Security Disability. It was killing me to admit defeat. All I had wanted to do was be a nurse and help others and finally be able to meet some of my financial goals as well.

With the stressors of lost dreams, moving,giving up so much, the strain on relationships, and the chronic pain and other symptoms associated with my various conditions I am just worn out. My doctor says it’s not likely I will be able to do work enough to be self sustaining again. She said I did my work hard and fast over the first half of my life and now I have the body of an 80-year-old. My counselor feels that I shouldn’t even consider trying to work until I am more stable mentally as my anxiety and PTSD has made even going to the market a challenge. The pain from the fibro and the back problems and the bursitis in my hips combined with the anxiety and PTSD symptoms have sent my depression spiraling out of control.

I have sold almost every thing I have and currently have been living in an abandoned hoarders house which should actually be condemned. There are mice and rats here as well as other critters living in the attic. All around the outside of the house is littered with old debris and garbage. There is raw sewage in the back yard. I came to be living here because a man I was dating said I could come help him clean this old house up that he was living in rent free to try to get on his feet after some financial difficulties. Even tho we cleaned out the main living areas in the house it is still very awful conditions. None of the plumbing works right and there are broken windows and leaking under the sinks and the drains all back up. It’s really deplorable. He has been making money, but we have decided to end our relationship. I now have to move out. I need to get out. It is very unhealthy for me here. Physically from the filth and mentally from the environment. Being here is making me more sick each day. The stress just makes everything worse.

I need some stability in my life. All I want is a little stability until I can get my disability. I have been kicked out of 4 places now from lack of money to keep staying there or from a relationship ending. This move will be my 42nd move in my life. (You can see in this post how many places I’ve moved to https://nobetz.wordpress.com/2013/04/04/moving-day/). I am only going to be 52 in May. I just don’t have it in me to keep packing and deciding what to get rid of and it makes my health so much worse.

I am almost completely out of money now. I have less than $100.00. Currently my SSDI claim is in appeals process.

I would like to buy an older used motor home so I can have a roof over my head and not get kicked out again. I just want to have my dog and cat with me and the bare minimums that I need to have a comfortable place where I can rest and take care of myself. Right now, I am really losing hope and having a hard time finding any purpose of continuing on. I have one or two days where maybe I can get to a support group or my therapy appointment and take my dog to the dog park and then the next day I’m in bed. I know a lot of the depression part is because of my situation. I am grieving giving up the idea of being able to provide for myself. I am grieving the end of so much.

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I have looked on Craigslist and I know I could get myself set up in a comfortable motor home as well as get it set up to be “off grid” so I wouldn’t have to worry about anything but getting water. I want to put solar on it and convert the toilet to a compost toilet. I have a friend who has said I can park it on their property and we will work out some sort of barter for payment to stay. As well, here in Southern Oregon it isn’t too hard to find someone who will let you park your motor home in exchange for some gardening or some type of work around their property.

I am able to do a few things on my good days. In the last 2 years I have bartered for many of my needs. I have cleaned houses (which is hard and I usually am in bed for a day or two after but I can do it on a decent day). I have cooked and baked foods for others. I even cooked for a wedding in exchange for some cash and physical therapy. I have cleaned around this hoarders house as well as I helped completely clean another hoarders property that I lived on for a year. Even tho I can’t work at a regular job I still try to do what I can to be somewhat self-supporting through my own contributions. I also would do photography and made and sold some wildlife photo greeting cards. But right now…I can’t do this by myself. I need help. I typically am only up out of bed 2 to 4 hours a day with maybe one good day every other week. I also have chronic insomnia and rarely get more than 2 or 3 hours sleep a night.

If I can get the motor home, get the conversions done to make is self sustainable, put what belongings I need and want to keep, get all the titles and taxes and insurance on it I could have a year or more to just work on getting mentally healthy again so I can try to get physically healthy again. I can have a garden where I am going to park it so I can have good healthy food out my door. I love to cook and yet with things how they’ve been I have found no joy in any of the things I used to enjoy. I’ve given up all of them. Will you please help me get my joy back? Will you help me feel safe and secure and stable so I can heal? I just wanted to work hard and make all my dreams come true, but it didn’t work that way. Can maybe one little hope be fulfilled if not a dream come true?

I decided to do this at the urging of some friends. It is one of the hardest things I’ve ever done.  It is so hard for me to ask for help. Yet,  I really don’t think with my conditions I would manage on the streets or in a shelter. As well, I would have to give up my dog who has become so attached to me after being rescued and she has helped me make it through these last few months. So, anything you give will go towards getting me and Shasta a long-term permanent roof in the form of a motor home.

For those of you who have followed my page, I unfortunately had to rehome the chickens this month because I couldn’t afford food for them. I also have not been posting on my page the last 10 days or so because I am just too overwhelmed with life.

Thank you all for any help you can give. I will be wise and frugal with what is bestowed upon me and when I finally get past this time in life and am able, I will pay it forward and help another. God bless your days and dreams.

This posting is going to be linked to my GOFUNDME campaign so I can keep from being on the streets. Thank you for reading.

Hurting, sad, mad and yet able to be inspired.

I came across this blog post today, Pain and an Unfulfilled Life, and it inspired me to be very honest and forthright about my life today.  No pretty pictures.  No tasty recipes.  No happy happy joy joy stuff.  This is laying it out on the line.  I am SMAD (sad and mad) about my life right now. And you know what? It’s okay. It’s my life and I’m allowed to have whatever feelings I need to have.

Part of this sad and mad is due to once again having my heart hurting. Another relationship busted.  But honestly, that’s secondary. Yes, I’m sad my most recent relationship didn’t work out. But I’ve learned from previous experience that this too shall pass. I’d rather know now, then after investing years of time and possibly having a marriage and everything in our lives completely blended. It hurts. It sucks. But….life will go on.  I’d rather be happy and alone than unhappy and lonely with someone who I was not good with.

So, that is part of the sad. The mad is from really hating my life right now. What really makes me almost lose it, is that I don’t see it getting any better any time in the near future. I live with chronic pain. The last 3 years have rendered me unable to work. I have a variety of diagnosis. Fibromyalgia seems to be the one everyone reverts to when discussing my disabilities and the fact that I live in chronic pain. But there are other issues too. Bulging discs in my low back as well as in my cervical area result in chronic back pain and occasional bouts of severe disabling headaches. Then there is periodic sciatica, bilateral trochanteric bursitis, irritable bowel syndrome, osteoarthritis in my back, and my feet (Oh my gosh how my feet hurt). I  have struggled periodically in my adult life with many bouts of chronic depression.  I also was diagnosed with  PTSD and generalized anxiety disorder when I was in treatment for my gambling addiction nearly 4 years ago.  Those mental health issues have been pretty well controlled for quite some time. Yet, pain triggers my mental health issues and the pain has been worse than ever the last 6 months. Our bodies and minds are connected you know? So, the pain is bad and my brain tanks, which makes the pain worse, which make my brain chemistry all messed up.  But hey, everyone says I look great! 🙂  Blech.

Now, there are some that may think to themselves or say “Well, you did a lot of things that weren’t so great over your life and maybe this is your comeuppance”. That first part is a true statement. In my gambling addiction I really sucked as a mom, a wife, an employee and as a person in general. I used to think that all my trials and tribulations were the price I was paying for my sins. Yet, in all honestly, I was bombarded with many trials and tribulations even before my gambling ever started.  But if that is the case, if this is punishment for my sins,  can you tell me what to do to atone for all my wrongdoings that I haven’t already done? I would do anything to atone for my previous sins and shortcomings and have been working on them for quite some time. I used to think my sins were unforgiveable…but I now know my God is big enough to handle even MY horrors. I personally believe God has forgiven me and I have forgiven me, so if this is a punishment, can you tell me how to have it stop? I don’t think that is the case, but am open to suggestions if you have one.

Or maybe some think “You haven’t tried the right treatments and you aren’t really trying hard enough. You need to just do XYZ.” Okay…what is X and Y and Z? I have tried medications. I have tried physical therapy. I have tried accupuncture. I have exercised. I have changed my eating to be mindful of food considered inflammatory. I have prayed. I have cried. I have tried more medications. I have had counseling. I have lost weight. I have quit smoking. I got chickens to care for so I am forced to get up each day to care for them even when it hurts so bad that I am nearly throwing up. While some of these treatment modalities have helped, there isn’t a one of them that has made it better to the point that I can count on it working for me everyday. I am grateful for what relief they do give me, but it isn’t the type of relief that would allow me to commit to going to a job on a routine basis.  Additionally, many of the treatments cost money and when you aren’t working and don’t have insurance…..well, you get the picture.

Some are thinking and have said that with the Affordable Care Act that I can finally be cured, or at least get well enough to become a productive member of society again. While I am hopeful, I am not going to hold my breath. I don’t look very good when I’m blue in the face. I have an appointment with my Nurse Practitioner next week and am going to request a very thorough workup. I want proof that I have tried all that I can. I also want to know if by chance there is something underlying that has not been noticed because everyone (including medical professionals) gets so hooked up on Fibromyalgia that they forego looking at anything else going on. That makes me mad too! I was so glad when I was diagnosed with Fibromyalgia, because it gave a name to the pain that was changing who I was. Then I realized that the diagnosis of Fibromyalgia came with a stigma and I got sent to the back of the bus on being taken seriously about anything that hurts or doesn’t feel right in my body. Well, now I have insurance and I want some answers!

What really pisses me off the most is that I can say without any excuses that I have been one of the hardest working people I know and it hasn’t helped me in the slightest during the recent years. In my former life (before the pain won) when faced with a trial such as a relational breakup or a move or anything, I would just get busy and go to work and get it done and move on. But I can’t do that anymore. I have to do little steps. And those little steps don’t get me very far on remedying my situation. In my mind, I want so bad to push through it. But that likely could put me in bed for days to a week, if I was able to do it at all.

I have no plans. I have no dreams. My only goal is to do one thing at a time to try to get me to the place I’m supposed to be to have the life that I am going to have.  I have absolutely not even a hint of what that is going to look like in a month, or a year, or 10 years. But based on how things have been the last 3 years, nothing is going to be pain free, and nothing is going to happen smoothly or without a great effort on my part. Yeah…I am sad. And I am mad. I feel like I have no choice. Yet in all reality I do have choices.   I can choose to keep moving along putting one foot in front of the other. I can be grateful for the love I have from some really special friends in my life. I can enjoy my dog and my kittens and my chickens today! I can keep trusting that as long as I am doing the next right thing, God will get me to where I am supposed to be to do whatever I am still here for. It’s okay with God if I get SMAD. He understands.

Winter blues got ya down? My cure…fresh air and pets!

Dec. 6 is a snowy day.  The only thing blue is my neighbors house! I love the snow.

Dec. 6 is a snowy day. The only thing blue is my neighbors house! I love the snow.

December.  Bah-humbug. Okay, not really, but it could have been if I had allowed my attitude to venture that way.  I am not a lover of winter.  I am a sun worshiper.  When the days get shorter and the skies are more gray than blue and they have a tendency to leak tears over the lands, I get a bit of the blahs.

I decided in the early part of the month that I needed to let things that were bothering me slide off my back.  What was bothering me you ask?  Well, lots of things actually.  The biggest was not being able to spend time with my grandson for his birthday or any time over the holidays.  I also have a few issues with this house we live in.  It’s not easy living in a house of disrepair, and the thought of trying to bake and cook and decorate and bring it to holiday life was a bit daunting.  And of course, as always, there is the issue of living with chronic pain and the limitations that places on me and the various ways low energy and high pain levels have impacted my life.  No job, no money, no freedom to do all that I would want to do.   That’s just a few of the things…get the drift?

It started snowing here around the 5th of the month.  And it got cold.  Frigid cold for this part of the country.  We were in the teens and even some single digits for the first half of December.  Guess what???  My body had not felt so good since early June!  The dry cold air made my hot tight joints and tissues feel so much better.  So I started my baking.   We were nearly snowed in for a couple of days, because the combination of 6 inches of snow and then the freezing temps made the streets impassable.  There just weren’t enough plows and other equipment for the city to keep things clear.

Anyhow, we got a tree, and the decorations came out, and the baking continued and before I knew it Christmas had arrived.  My guys two youngest were with us and we had a nice, yet quiet and low-key holiday.  I let the messes roll off my back.  I didn’t look at the parts of the house that are still broken.  I ignored the untended leaves all over outdoors.  I just enjoyed my pain levels being down, being able to bake and cook and interact with friends.

And then it was the day after Christmas.  My boyfriend wanted me to travel with him to take his daughter to the airport.  It was a 10 hour round trip drive.  I don’t do riding in the car well.  I typically break up any trips I take into 2-3 hour driving segments each day!  I warned him that I could well end up in bed for a couple of days.  The weather also had taken a turn.  It was foggy and the humidity was up.

I got home and went to bed and stayed there for a little over 2 days.  And guess what?  The blues came over me with a vengeance.  Each time I would hobble out of the bedroom to get a glass of water or use the bathroom or just say hi to everyone, I noticed everything that is still needing fixing in the house.  And of course the post holiday messes, with all the extra food and new appliances taking up space and the decorations looking not quite as festive but instead a little more cluttering.  It just would hit me in waves.  Then the limitations of energy and the pain being bad really knocked those negative thoughts into full speed.   I was not liking where my thoughts were going.  Not at all.

Yesterday I got out of bed and went to my regular support group meeting.  I shared how I was concerned about my thinking and how I needed to probably get a little help with it.  I promised to make an appointment with my doctor and to talk to her about maybe doing a little counseling.  I realized, I’ve had quite a bit on my plate in the last 3 years and having a professional to talk to and give some perspective might help.  I told my group of friends to hold me accountable, because I have been here before, in a dark depression and I know how to put my smiley face on for everyone else to see, and that will get me no where in a hurry.

When I got home from my meeting, I was tending to the chickens when my little feral kitty, Muffin, came around the corner.  I decided to go grab my new camera that I had got for Christmas and do a little photo session.  The cool air felt good on my face.  It was a fairly decent day out.  I looked around at the leaves and the remnants of things that had once had life, but were now just brown decaying bits of debris in my flower boxes and decided to do a little work.  I grabbed my gloves and away I went.  I pulled up all the dead and decaying matter and threw it into the corner of the yard.  I raked up all the leaves under the apple tree and hauled them over and dumped them into the chicken run.  I figured that might help keep the mud down for a little while.  I got the shovel and tended to the doggie droppings.  When my guy came out to see what was going on, I got him to clean off the lawn chairs and put them away for the season.  I cleaned up the area where we had spent a few summer evenings having BBQ’s.  Then more photos of the animals that were out enjoying the weather with me.   I love my animals.  They always can bring a smile to my face.  And the fresh air and being outdoors…..that helps too.  Gets me connected to God.  I beat the blues for another winter day.

When I started writing this it was going to be more about just sharing photos of the animals…but then I got carried away.  I started sharing my thoughts and feelings.  I guess that helps with the blues too.  If you are having some wintertime blahs and blues, I encourage you to get outdoors and get some fresh air, pet a dog or cat, and talk to someone about it.  Sharing really is a great way to lessen the burden of blues.   I hope you enjoy the photos!  They are a variety that was taken over the course of the last month!

My “remarks” to the Social Security Administration

I finally completed the Adult Function Report that was necessary for my application for disability.  It literally took me a few weeks to complete it.  At the end of the form is a place for remarks.  This is what I wrote. 

 

[Trying to explain how my life has changed in the format you have provided proved to be extremely difficult for me.  If you were to look at my work history through my entire adult life, you will see that I have always worked in physically demanding jobs.  Waitressing, landscape maintenance, pre-loader at UPS, CNA, nursing.  Often I was working a second job or going to school part time in addition to working a regular job. I did all I could to provide for my 3 children after I become a single mom when my kids were 1, 4 and 5.  I did not get help from their father or anyone outside the home.  I participated in PTA and Scouts in addition to caring for my children and my home.  You also would be able to see how over time my income slowly but steadily increased.  It took me nearly 10 years to obtain my goal of having an Associates Degree of Nursing since I was putting myself through school while raising children.  It had been my hopes and goals to continue my education after a few years of paying off some debts while working as a RN.  I had hopes of obtaining my BSN and eventually my Master’s of Nursing.  I dreamed of working  and buying a home.  I hoped to do some mission work to share the talents I had honed in nursing.  For the first time in my life I had finally been able to earn a decent wage and my children were grown and gone from home and I was able to financially have a good life.  I had some options.  I had health care.  I had the beginnings of a retirement account.

Because of my physical limitations I have been unable to work at all the last 2 1/2 years.  I waited a full 2 years before applying for benefits because I kept hoping I would get better.  I used up what little bit of savings I had to struggle along financially as well as I could.  I kept trying to do what exercises I was able to when I was able in addition to eating well and eliminating stressors in life hoping to get well enough to work.  It never happened.  I am no more able to work on a consistent daily or weekly basis today than I was 2 1/2 years ago when my physician determined I was unable to work.

I have found myself homeless 3 times.  If not for the kindness of friends and those that care about me I would have had to live on the streets.  I have not been able to spend the time with my family and friends that I used to because I either hurt too much to even want to be around others, or I am too tired, or unable to focus.  I have had to miss out on activities that I used to enjoy because I don’t have the strength to do them. 

I used to be so outgoing.  I used to socialize weekly.  I used to enjoy entertaining. I loved to travel.  Now, I would rather sit in my quiet home alone than be around others because I don’t have to energy to put out for others and I just get so tired.  My only socializing comes from my weekly visit to my support group and spending time with my boyfriend.  Once in a great while I will attend  a function, but it comes with the price of typically ending up completely down for a couple days after I return home.  I have not entertained in my own home but for maybe 1/2 dozen times in over 2 years.  It requires too much planning and effort as well as there have been times I have planned something only to have to cancel it the day of the event because I had an exacerbation of pain that made it impossible to do anything, let alone be a good hostess.  Traveling is only every couple of months and it also comes with the price of typically ending up in bed for a couple days when I return home because my pain increases and I’ve used up all my energy reserves.

I truly believe there are many people who if they had to deal with my pain on a daily basis they would just give up.  I am a very strong person.  I have given birth naturally to 4 babies, two of them at home, with no pain relief.  I broke a bone in my foot and continued to work on it as a pre-loader at UPS as well as doing landscape maintenance for 4 months before finally going to the doctor because my foot hurt.  The bone had been so damaged from my continued use of it that I had to have surgery to have the bone removed.  I have a very high pain tolerance as well as work at having the most positive attitude I can in my circumstances.  Some days I do get depressed, but most the time I try to view the glass 1/2 full!  I am only able to get through this struggle with pain with the support and encouragement of my closest friends and my support group.  If not for them and my own internal belief that life is always worth living…I would have given up some time ago. 

I am tired of being in pain.  I am tired of being unable to get medical care.  Without insurance or income it has been nearly impossible to get any help for my conditions.  This last year, after I received a small cash settlement, I sought care from a nurse practitioner, a chiropractor, acupuncture and physical rehab, all out of my own pocket.  I have had some temporary relief, but nothing longstanding.  If I were to be granted social security disability I would be able to get more help to get better so I could maybe eventually work part time.  That is my  hope.  But now…I know I can not  work because all of my energy and abilities going to maintaining my simple life and taking care of my basic needs. 

Thank you for your time and consideration in this process.  It has been a challenging endeavor for me.  I used to be able to articulate and complete tasks such as this form without any effort.  Now, as I’ve stated before, this has been a great effort of a few weeks of time to complete this the best I could.  I hope I have been clear.]

I typed my responses to the questions asked on the form.  It was typed and single spaced except for a space between questions and answers.  When all was done, it was 10 pages long.  The process of contemplating all my limitations as well as the changes my conditions have brought upon my life were at times very depressing.  Most of the time I really try to focus on what I can do and have gratitude in my life.  Yet having to realistically and honestly look at all I’ve had to give up…well…it just is so sad. 

In other times during my life when I have had to recount difficulties to another I would just roll it all off and be done with it.  I remember after nearly 2 hours time in giving my life history to a psychiatrist, when I was done he looked at me and said, “You have had a life full of much trauma and many losses and yet you tell it like it is just a story out of a book you read.  Does it not bother  you?  Are you aware that you have endured much?”  Well, of course it has been upsetting to live through some of what I have, but it’s my life.  It’s the only one I have had.   Getting my panties all bunched up over it doesn’t change it.  That was my attitude going into this dissertation of my health conditions and how they’ve changed my life.  Yet it is different now.  In the 18 years since that visit with a mental health professional I have done much work on myself.  I have learned to allow myself my emotions and feelings.  I am able to look at myself and realize not everyone has endured these difficulties.  

It took me being out of work for 2 years to finally accept that I wasn’t going to be able to work.  I kept hoping I would get better.  I kept hoping it was “all in my head”, like some people think it is.  I kept hoping if I would dig deep I could PUSH through the pain like I have so many times in life and just do it…work…live…get past it.  But I couldn’t.  My pain is real.  I do have limitations that not everyone else does.  And no matter how much I may WANT to work, I simply can not work.  So now that I’ve written it all out and really looked at what I have had to give up, I will allow myself some time to grieve. 

I will grieve that I didn’t realize how amazing my body was and how strong I was.  I will grieve that I spent so much time working so very hard trying to gain approval from others in my life, that I missed out on doing many things that I wanted to do.  I will grieve that I didn’t work smarter rather than harder.  Yes…I will grieve….and then I will move on.  I will accept those things I cannot change and find courage to change the things I can.  I will be grateful for the life I have been given and live it as fully as I am able.  I will live today the best I can!

 

Grateful for home and all I have in my life.

The Columbia Gorge is so picturesque!  :)

The Columbia Gorge is so picturesque! 🙂

I was gone from the farm for a week. I traveled to Northern Oregon to see my daughter and grandson, and my eldest son and his family. It was a wonderful trip. Mostly at home and low key. Our weekly highlight was that my daughter entered a cake decorating contest and won. We were very excited for her.

The winning cake...Jonah and the Whale!

The winning cake…Jonah and the Whale!

I was home for one day and then back to town for an overnighter at my friends who I am providing care for once a week. I have been tired. A stuffy nose and some post nasal drip are indicators that I am battlings some bug again. Dratted all.

It is such a welcoming site to have these animals come running to the fence to greet me on my walk.  Always makes me smile.

It is such a welcoming site to have these animals come running to the fence to greet me on my walk. Always makes me smile.

I’ve been brainstorming all week about a business idea I’m hashing out. A CSA delivery service that is personalized by a weekly ordering system. I think it could be a valuabel and viable community service. I just am not sure if I got it up and running and at became really busy…woud I have the strength to do it.

The blueberry bushes have some nice buds popping out.

The blueberry bushes have some nice buds popping out.

That is what has kept me from working the last 2 years. Pain and not having the strength and stamina on a consistent basis. It is frustrating to say the least.

The girls have a forage festival on the hill.

The girls have a forage festival on the hill.

I saw my Nurse Practitioner today. I had to go in for a visit in order to get my perscription refilled. It is somewhat frustrating that I had to pay for an office visit for a medication I have taken routinely for over 2 years now. Yes it is a controlled substance. Yes they are operating a business and have policies around such things. But for someone with no insurance and no income, it is a challenge.

Thelma, my pretty month old Silver Laced Wyandotte.

Thelma, my pretty month old Silver Laced Wyandotte.

The good thing is that their clinic is considering expansion of services and they would like to offer some cholesterol and diabetic education and check ins. This would be done by a nurse. It would be very part time and pay would be much less than the customary base rate for this area. It is a small clinic. For me, it sounds like a dream come true. One or two days a week being approximately 4-8 hours a week doing nutition consulting and education. I think I could manage that.

40 baby chicks.  Welsummers, Ameraucanas, my 2 Silver Laced Wyandottes and 2 Speckled Sussex.   A nice brood!

40 baby chicks. Welsummers, Ameraucanas, my 2 Silver Laced Wyandottes and 2 Speckled Sussex. A nice brood!

I am reallly trusting that God is going to provide. My financial situation is getting a bit on the precarious side. By the first of the week I will have rent paid again for 6 months, my phone and insurance paid for a month, plenty of groceries in the house, chicken feed, and the gas tank filled up. If my calculations are correct, I will be able to do that for about 3 more months and then……all gone. So, I am hoping and praying and working on making these potential income earning ideas come to fruition.

Miss Donna enjoying her dust bath time.

Miss Donna enjoying her dust bath time.

I did take a couple forays around the property today, getting some exercise. Hope you enjoy the photos. I just love this place.

Pretty posies

Pretty posies

The same..and yet different.

This is my pair of, almost 2 week old, Speckled Sussex. I believe they are about 2 weeks old today! I bought them at the Grange. I have named one of them Pecking Peggy. The other…I am unsure yet. I am suspicious one of them ia not the same as the other…gender wise. Time will tell. This is my first chick experience. They said at the grange I was getting pullets. But there is something about these two…they don’t seem the same.

This is Peckin' Peggy and ????.  I am thinking one of them is not the same as the other...gender wise.  Time will tell.

This is Peckin’ Peggy and ????. I am thinking one of them is not the same as the other…gender wise. Time will tell.

LIfe is good at home with my flock. My 12 girls are laying about 6.5 eggs a day. I have 5 new babies that all seem to be doing very well. I am anticipating getting 3-5 Blue Red Laced Wyandottes chicks in March. I hope this to be the beginnig of my breeding stock. If one of my Speckled Sussex is a roo too…that is ok by me!!! I would be pleased to be breeding both the BRLW and the Speckled Sussex.

I had my first Reiki treatment today. It was a freebie…although I did gift her 18 eggs!~ A local woman who placed an ad on our own version of “craigslist” here in S. Oregon.  She came to my home and “laid hands” on me. And it felt wonderful! Warm! Caring. Insightful! Helpful! Healing!

I am so grateful to be able to go “outside the box” to find potential healing for my mind and my body. So far, everyone from my chiropractor, nurse practitioner, accupunturist and now my reiki specialist have been very caring and open to helping me with their various modalities. And each of them has merit!!! I have been benefitted physically as well as emotionally, spiritually and mentally from visits with each practitioner.

While chiropractic and massage seems to help for low back and neck issues, the accupunturist has helped with tendonitis, smoking(not planned, and yet I have not had a desire for a cigerette since my first visit) and generalized pain. And now, Reiki has made me feel more aware of my spirituality combined with my physical and emotional person. For someone like me, who appreciates scientific proof, I am enjoying the proof of the pudding more than any words or test results from others that may tout and/or attempt to disprove the benefits of these health treatment modalities.

A couple things the Reiki therapist shared with me during and following my session:

1. She asked, “Is there something you need to talk about, a truth that may be painful?”.  I have not yet, after careful consideration, determined what she was referring to specifically.  I have been working on speaking my heart over the last three years.  It is very possible there is something in my subconscious that I have yet to bring forward.

2.  She said there is  lots of stuff in my back (I have bulging discs, DDD, as well as a recent back strain from a motorcycle accident(I tried to save a bike from going over, and it didnt’ work, except to strain my low back).

3. She asked about the work I was doing, hospice work, which is not work, but rather a gift of love for a friend.  She asked if this loss would be a loss in my recovery life that would be challenging?  Interesting question.  I intend to talk about that issue extensivley on the 22nd of this month in another posting!

4.  She also said that she felt a sense of “community” about me.  That being involved in the community is part of me.  This is one of my desires that I have not attended to since leaving Springfield in 2002~

 

Overall…Reiki seems like a good “next step” in my self care plan.   Combining Western Medicine, Eastern Medicine, good sense, nature and ME!!!!  Who knows where this next step is going….I am just remaining open.  And enjoying my chicks in the meantime.