Day 6 and the worst is over I hope!

Today, I spent some time trying to piece together the last 60 days. It’s hard. There are lots of big spaces of time I don’t remember much. That scares me. It’s evident whatever happened freaked out my loved ones in a big way. I was on the phone saying so many things that were not at all what I was wanting to say but my brain just was somewhat frying. It just was what it was.

Which of course adds to my shame and guilt.  I have not had that occur since I quit gambling. Yes, I’ve lost control of my emotions before, but I have had no “out of body” experiences like I experienced this time. I sure am glad I write tho, because I can go back and somewhat piece together the build-up, the blow, the loss of time, and then I went straight into detox for the Xanax withdrawal. Not the smartest idea in the book. But hey….who said I was thinking in any congruent way during this time?

Although extraordinarily fatigued with pain increased,  I think I’m doing pretty well. I am stronger than I remember sometimes. While I was feeling so weak, I had some idea of what I wanted. I have been on a journey to get off these pills for nearly 2 years. I wanted to get my overall health and strength a little better because I knew I was getting to a place I was ready to deal with some more of my “stuff”.

I did know I was having some PTSD triggers There were some encounters with people I cared about where I felt under attack so decided to disengage from those relationships. That is not something I do lightly. Yet, in retrospect it showed I was getting stronger because I was able to say to myself, “this is not healthy for me”.

In late February or early March was one  occasions and I handled myself with composure (maybe showing a slight displeasure but that is all) and then returned the next day to discuss the situation and stated what behaviors I could handle. That is a HUGE thing for me.

As time passed and other situations occurred I knew I needed to do some digging to see why I so easily get triggered by certain personalities. To be frank, I believe it’s because of my mother and our relationship and her behaviors. There are certain behaviors in women I just cannot tolerate at all. It gets my ruff up so bad and I have to just clench my teeth. Pointing, especially if someone pokes my chest, intimidation posturing, badgering, and overly aggressive. I have a tolerance and then it just is gone. It was like I was doing okay, handling each situation the best I could while trying to be professional in my role as “property manager”, and then it was over the edge.

I had told a few folks about my encounters and how they were affecting me. I had thought I had stated I was getting very stressed and overwhelmed, but again, I believe others hear it as “whining”. It was in late March that I picked up paperwork to get back into counseling. I didn’t get it turned in until mid-April after recovering from the flu. I didn’t get back in until  about the end of June for intake. Back in late March I knew I was over-stressed and had taken on more than I could handle.

In my perception a great deal of the stress came because what I perceived as agreed conversations on what was going on with the property and tenants wasn’t happening. I also had a situation with a friend and it was just the last straw.  I was so overwhelmed trying to get this property ready for renters. I had to help pack up a house that was full of many collections. Tapes(VCR and Cassette), books and mountains of electronics. The entire second story was just storage! I also had to get ready for an Estate Sale. I had never done one before and what a TON of work that is. I also had to help Mr. Chicago’s brother find an apartment and then I had to help him figure out how to make a home for himself in his new place. January was exhausting.

Then in February I was still doing okay after taking a little break, but that is when some of the encounters with PTSD triggers really started. After the first one I was shook up and tearful for a couple days. Then I tried to rectify things in an adult manner and carried on. Then there was another encounter in March. Again, I held my tongue, waited a day or two and then tried to rectify it. I also was telling my family and loved ones about the stress this was bringing me. Yet, no one is around me to actually see what those affects looked like. Often when you have PTSD triggers in my mind I feel like I sound like I am “complaining”. But what I’m trying to convey is I am getting over-stressed and I can’t make prudent choices and I need some help.

I had my trip to Chicago in late March and then came home and landed in the hospital for 4 days with the flu and pneumonia and when I came home and got well enough I had to stretch myself again. I was interviewing potential land renters. I had to run ads and make phone calls and then talk with these people at length regarding their needs and what we could provide for them. I am not a good salesperson. It makes me very uncomfortable, so I was stressing about that. More stress. I am feeling like I am falling behind here. There is so much work to be done and I am coming home after a nearly 2 week absence and it’s time to start the gardens and I still have things to haul to the dump and things to sale and continued encounters that were less than comfortable with some people.

Then came May. I did forget to mention that I had a very serious family issue that occurred in January that was an ongoing concern and stressor until early June. Those of you who follow my FB page remember, Mr. Chicago came out for my birthday in May. It was truly the BEST surprise I’ve ever had for my birthday. The BEST.   During the time he was here I was able to show him a little of what the issues were but by that point I was definitely at a point that any more encounters with triggers was going to set me off. But to him I’m sure they seemed small, each little instance.

That is not so for someone with PTSD. I’ve only had one occasion where it was a single incident that triggered me. Even at that time, I had been under a LOT of stress. Typically when I go into a meltdown mode (post gambling…completely different scenario) I have had a number of stressors on top of a number of triggers. I can only take so much. Which, is another reason I have been trying to get disability.

Having a disability like this doesn’t mean I can’t function or that I’m not smart or capable. It means I can’t take the daily struggles like a person who doesn’t have a  disability. Over the years I’ve tried to explain so much.  I can do a little physical and deal with the pain, but then my stress will get up and so I can’t deal with people or additional stress. Or, I can be medicated and take it gentle on my body and not do a bunch of hard things and my brain works. In fighting chronic pain as well as mental health issues life gets very overwhelming at times.

After Mr. Chicago went home, I thought we kind of had things under control. But that was not the case at all. There were still unresolved issues that came up and a number of incidents that made me uneasy around the 12th of June and that was when I started going over the edge.

After my first blow up, I had a few days where I just was telling everyone “I’m done”.   I am not able to make these decisions. I was trying so hard to take care of the area here and do a good job. I went up and down and up and down for a couple weeks and then settled down a bit. But by then, I was really struggling inside with a lot of things.

I didn’t feel safe anymore. Because I had “acted out” I was scared and embarrassed and pushed everyone away more. I didn’t want anyone to see me unhinged. The lonelier I got and the more I tried to figure out what I could have done different I just got more and more distressed.

I tried to “pull it together”, but I had forgotten that back in May I had purposefully come to the point that I wasn’t gong to refill the Oxycodone anymore.  That had been my goal and I reached it and was doing okay. I didn’t take into account how that my affect my mental health when I was already under stress. I continued to rage and then cry and then rage and then cry. I’ve said “I’m sorry” so many times in the last 2 months and then gone and done the same exact thing.

That is what happens when you have a PTSD breakdown. You feel okay for a few minutes and think you are okay to be around others and then Every Little Thing bugs the hell out of you. Drivers that are speeding and reckless caused me to be the same…trying to chase them down to tell them what crazy drivers they are. Ha ha ha….and who was the undone woman chasing them? Yes…that was me! Hence the limited driving these days.

So June ended and July rode in and yet another big stressor met me on the 5th. Something that made me think of bad things from long ago. I tried to explain to the other my feelings but was met with resistance. This made me feel even more unworthy and increased my angst.

So on 7/12 I had ran out of Xanax and decided not to go to town to pick up my prescription the next day. I had made a choice. Not wise, with my thinking at the time, but it was just me here and I was going for it. The first night I found out some information that truly just made my head burst. My head has been racing and my heart has been racing and I became obsessed with this information and it was rough that first day or two. I was not only going through Detox and PAWS, but I was in the midst of a mental health breakdown and kept getting news that left me feeling so alone and so WRONG for everything. Lots of thoughts of “why am I here?”.

That’s the mindset of a PTSD person. When I am in a PTSD head, I am in total fight/flight mode. I feel horrible. I think I am the worst person in the world. I want no one to see me. I don’t behave in ways that are typical for me. I get quite mean (to push people away) I’ve been told. I typically am NOT mean! I am a lover and a giver and a smiler. But under duress from a PTSD flare I can dish out some verbal bashing and be quite harsh.

I hate that. Which is a big reason for going back to counseling. I know I still have learning to do. I am hoping by completing my detoxification off the narcotics and benzodiazapines my head will be clearer for doing the work I have in front of me.

I know nothing about my future right now. Neither do you…if truth be told. I remember my counselor telling me that I learned early in life, it can all change overnight. In the meantime I am hunkering down and just trying to take care of myself. I deserve it. So do those who love me. I despise scaring them so. Evidently, as I was recently reminded, it’s been going on for some time.   When I get to my lowest I have very pronounced suicidal ideation. I forget about it for the most part when I’m well. I know how that feels as my mother suffered with the same. It is very hard for those around a person feeling like this.

Today has been the clearest my mind has been in a very long time. A very very long time. Even with the fatigue of not sleeping the last two nights (going on being awake for about 58 hours now) my brain is clear. I truly am grateful for being able to finally get off all that.

The cannabis is working. The dosing is not exact, yet. Just like me. I’m working on it. Thanks God for a gentler alternative that comes form the earth!

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Day 5 – I’m gonna live!

 

I do not think all medications are bad. There are situations where pharmacological medications are curative or the benefits outweigh the potential risks or side effects. At this time in my life, having been on a variety of pharmacological medications with less than optimal results, as evidenced by my struggles (breakdown) the last month, I am wanting to go a more holistic way. It started with medical cannabis and I now am more interested in what nature has to offer.

One of the main reasons for doing gardening and animal care when I am in such a challenging financial and physical and emotional situation is they give me purpose on days I struggle. I am so grateful that I started that.  Putting in a garden and attracting butterflies and hummingbirds gives me something pretty to watch and look for. Being out in nature and getting a little exercise is one of the BEST medicines there is. On many days when I am in pain or just overwhelmed, having those things I MUST get up for …makes me still have a life. Hey Sigmund has done a nice outline here of a more holistic approach for mental health strategies.

http://www.heysigmund.com/the-non-medication-ways-to-deal-with-depression-that-are-as-effective-as-medication/

I started off using the medical cannabis (MMJ) mostly for pain. I was on fairly high doses of Oxycodone and it wasn’t working. At least not enough.  This contributed to my IBS for certain, causing severe constipation.  MMJ has been a wonderful option for getting off opiates. It also has improved my mood greatly, until I get into a panic situation or PTSD gets triggered. I still having to do some learning on that. I have a couple strains that I have been given or bought (thank you to the growers) and it works. But the medication I need now needs a special license to process and so I can’t get it as easily. Rick Simpson Oil (RSO) was the BEST cannabis medication I have had to date that helped me the most.  I was calm and pain was much better controlled than with the opiates.

To get the strains that I need for anxiety and PTSD challenges I have to now go the dispensary. In one week I went through $100 worth of RSO and other types of MMJ products in addition to my usual use of the tinctures and butter and flower I have already at home. I can’t afford that. I sure hope they don’t take out the OMMP because of recreational. This is my medication now.

I had it suggested to me to try some skullcap when my belly settles a bit more. It’s a nervine. Nervines are an classification of herbal remedies for mental health conditions that have evidence of high anxiety. I was also told a student of herbology that nervines such as Skullcap can actually help in the healing of my brain after long term use of various medications. Hearthsidehealing in Portland, OR presented this article on nervines written by Jon Keys.

http://www.hearthsidehealing.com/nervine-herbs-for-deep-relief-from-anxiety-and-stress/

While the last few days have been incredibly difficult emotionally, I have no desire to take those pills again. I do not crave them at all, which is a bit strange based on dealing with my gambling disorder and the drive I had for that. I feel that with the medications I was more dependent on them, whereas the gambling for me is a true addiction. But in all honesty, I really had no idea I had an emotional attachment to the medications. They were prescribed by my NP for my various ailments over the course of the last 5 years. Some of them I had been on for nearly 20 years off and on.  When one has a number of medications like that there is always concern about them being discontinued, or brands changing (can be very difficult for some), or your doctor saying after a number of years prescribing, “no more, we have to stop this”. Or there is confusion about getting it refilled. It is really a painful experience to be taking 60-90mg of oxycodone a day and then not have it for 36 hours! Very painful.

I think this is the 5th night since my last dose and while life isn’t bubblegum and rainbows, it’s better than it was 24 hours ago. I even ate! That is one of the big side effects with my withdrawal is NO appetite. Additionally, I think I have only had about 6-7 hours of sleep in the last 3 days. For tonight I’ve made myself a nice hot cup of cannabis tea. I feel very tired. But not as despondent  and sick as I was off and on the last week. Yay God!

Only two sleeps and I will see the counselor that I have seen before.  As well as my NP was to be putting in a referral to a psychiatrist for me.

I really appreciate those who are following. I hope you share this all over the place! I really want people to know what detox from a benzodiazapine after on and off use for 20 years looks like. I want people to know it’s possible to improve from a dependency, an addiction, or a number of mental health ailments by making just a few lifestyle changes. And help me remember that the only person I really need to take care is me. 🙂 Peace!

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**This is no way an endorsement for taking yourself off medications.  I have discussed this with my Nurse Practitoner and it has been a slow taper over 18 months.  One medication at a time.

 

 

Change happens.

I can’t even begin to tell all of you how much has changed in my life over the last few months. The people I have met, the food I eat, the way my days unfold and endd, how I push myself, how much Shasta loves the country…..there has been a LOT of change.

I stopped by last weekend to check on my Layers (who used to be Littles but are now Layers) where they have been staying. Thelma and Louise look a bit small up next to some Americauna’s and Lavandar Orphingtons. Yet they are holding there own. Unfortunately Miss Diana met an undetermined demise. She was found dead one morning in the coop. These things happen. She will be missed for her regal presence among the other lovely ladies.

Thelma and Louise

 

My friend at Applegate Valley Lavender Farms https://www.facebook.com/ApplegateValleyLavenderFarm?fref=ts is the one who has been caring for my girls since late winter when I couldn’t provide for them due to my circumstances. Fortunately, plans for a coop have been chosen, the area for the run has been cleared, the wood has been delivered and building should begin this next week for our own coop here on the property where I am living. I can’t wait to wake up to gathering eggs in the morning again.

While I was at my friends farm we enjoyed a visit with the sheep who had given birth to a beautiful black lamb the week before. I also enjoyed the antics of the baby Sebastapol Geese and the three ducklings on site. And of course, there was the Lavender. Some of it is in bloom and the rest is just about ready to unfold it’s lovely fragrance and color for all the world to see.


My newest and dear friends Jess and Gil who were here for about 5 weeks. You can follow them at http://adventuringsouls.com/. I have no doubt in my mind that our friendship has just begun and we will be sharing some adventures of some type in the future. Love these two folks…they are good people.

We welcomed a new comer that was found using the site https://www.helpx.net/ . This newest helper has come to us from Seattle, WA. She has only been here a few days and I am looking forward to getting more acquainted as time goes by. It has become customary for us to take a dinner photo when we welcome someone new or say goodbye, and that is what the last photo is. Goodbyes and Welcomes all in one night!

folks coming and going

I also had my SSDI appeal consultative examination on Tuesday.  It only lasted 30 minutes and I left feeling frustrated that the MD whom I was seen by didn’t really seem interested in anything I said, but rather found delight in probing all my tender spots even after I told her where I hurt the worst. I am doing my best to remain hopeful that with the input from my NP (nurse pratitioner) as well as my counselor that maybe I will be granted my disability and not have to endure any more prodding and probing. God knows I need a break.

I am enjoying the things I am doing for the most part, although I have had to push myself to a much greater degree on a constant basis than I have in a number of years now. How the toll will be weathered over time is yet to be seen. I am trying to keep my faith, do my best and trust that God has me covered no matter what happens.

There is much more to write, but today was my first day off in quite some time and I make a cake, made jelly and dehydrated bananas and I am a bit tired. So….for now that is all. I will be trying to be more consistent in my postings again. It’s just taken me awhile to get settled and get a routine where I have a few extra moments to spare and the energy to walk to the community cabin to make a posting. The next posting will be a compilation of spring photos I’ve shot of nature and flowers and wildlife and the country. I hope you’ll check back for it.

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.

Production, it’s not what it used to be. Part II

I went to the Rogue Winterfest today and took a walk around the trees displayed. There were some pretty fancy things there. I loved this ornament.  It made me think how nice it would be to have a little trailer that I could take and go wherever a whim suited me to go. I’m feeling like a trip, a long trip in a trailer, would be good for my soul about now.

A cozy Christmas Camper

A cozy Christmas Camper

Two nights ago I was watching the most recent Grey’s Anatomy. It is one of the few shows I enjoy watching.  I typically watch it after the fact on the computer. Do any of you watch it? Well, there is a baby on this episode that is needing heart surgery. I didn’t realize until late into the show that the baby in question had the same condition as my son Kevin had. Today would have been  his 27th birthday. They didn’t have successful surgeries for his condition in 1985. Hypo-plastic left heart syndrome was a sure death sentence for babies.  They had tried a few experimental surgeries in St. Louis back then, but all the babies had died on the table. My husband and I decided to not put our baby through that. I wanted to just hold him as long as I could.  I didn’t want to have him pass away on a sterile cold surgical table without the warmth of his mama.  And so I did…I held him every single minute I could until his last breath was gone. Even tho it was 27 years ago….I always find myself feeling a little tilted from about December 7th until after the 13th. He passed on the 12th. My youngest brother’s birthday is on the 13th. That is my reminder that it is time to move on.,  This year, because of watching this show two days ago, I had it brought to my attention a bit more strongly than it has been in many years.  Typically, since it has been so long, it is a slow awareness that brings it to my attention.  Noticing the date and having my mind jolted into “oh yeah…that’s why I feel a bit off”.   I hope you all don’t mind me sharing this with you…sometimes sharing things eases the weight of them a bit.

That same show held another moment for me. Bailey is struggling with Obsessive Compulsive Disorder (OCD). I was diagnosed as being “symptomatic” of OCD years ago. I haven’t  really noticed it  being problematic or pervasive much over the last few years, that is, until moving to this house I am living in. Being where things are so broken and ugly and clutterd and just funky has made me feel more anxious. There is not one room in the entire house that is completely “normal” with everything in working order and painted and cleaned. It kinda wears on me.

So that is why this little trailer caught my eye. It made me think about just wanting to get in a trailer that was all cute and cozy and just go with the flow. Wherever I wanted to go.  Of course, that isn’t going to happen.  But sometimes…letting our minds wander like that, thinking about a trip to wherever, it can help one to get through the moment.

For many many months I was really struggling with pain and  decreased energy.  That was the reason for starting this thread on low production.  Each day all my energy was used just to get a meal and maybe a shower.  It started with the intense heat of the summer, then the smoke from the fires and then the weather changed dramatically in late September and the pain in my joints escalated to where I wasn’t doing much of anything.  Or at least that is how it felt to me.

I had always been so active in the past.  I worked hard and played hard.  I work and worked a lot, always at physically hard jobs.  I worked in food service for years.  If you have been a waitress you know how demanding that is.  I worked at the brown truck company as a pre-loader lifting approximately 50,000 lbs worth of packages a day.  I owned/operated my own businesses, first doing housekeeping and then lawn maintenance.  Then I went back to school at the age of 35.  Single mom, working as a nursing assistant as well as still mowing some lawns a couple days a week in addition to taking classes to get into a nursing program.   It took me 10 years of schooling, all the time working  and raising kids and keeping a house, to get my degree as a registered nurse.  It’s been almost 3 years since I have worked at a regular job and it is still hard for me to accept.  And now, living in this house that needs so much attention and has so much cleaning to be done, while not having the strength or energy to do it,  is really hard.  Especially for someone that has symptoms of OCD. Every day I would hope to be able to clean an area or fix up something, but I just couldn’t stay out of bed long enough for weeks on end.

Then, just a couple weeks ago, the weather changed again.  We hit a cold spell.  A very DRY frigid cold spell.  Low and behold, my energy has been better.  My pain has been reduced.  NO, it is not gone, but it is better than it has been for over 4 months.  It’s been good now for nearly two weeks.  The increased energy has come at a good time.  It is the holiday season.  I have things I’ve wanted to do and things I  want to accomplish.

I am not much of a gift buyer, but I do enjoy making gifts.  As most of you know the holidays take energy if one enjoys participating.  So, I am grateful for this current improvement.  I don’t know how long it will last.  I never know if tomorrow will find me hurting too much to do more than the basics again.   I am doing the best I can to do what brings me enjoyment and fulfillment each day that I get that I feel well.  This house…it isn’t going to get fixed over the holidays. In fact, it is possible that it will never really get fixed during the time I live here.   But I can do a few things to make it have a bit of coziness during the month of Christmas.  I can bake and create lovely aromas to entice smiles and warm memories for anyone who comes by.  I can make gifts of food to share with friends and neighbors to bring a smile to their face.

These will be nice little gifts to have sticking out of a bag or stocking!  :)

These will be nice little gifts to have sticking out of a bag or stocking! 🙂

So, production WAS down and now it is better.That is how it has been with the Layers too.  They went through a rough summer.  They were moved to a small funky coop in town.  They were put with another group of chickens.  They had to deal with the heat and the smoke.  And then they molted.  But now they are looking beautiful and giving us about 8 eggs a day.  They are in a new season and production is good.  It could change again.   Production changes with the ever changing environment.  I guess I’m not so different from the chickens.  🙂

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I think there are still a few girls holding out. They must not have heard the rumor about the stew pot.

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!