Monday, February 25, 2013

A Real Game Changer

Since about 1984 I have been living with an autoimmune disease. In the beginning, it was diagnosed as systemic lupus erythematosis (SLE), but after many years the symptoms changed and became more like rheumatoid arthritis (RA), now being relabeled in some medical circles as rheumatoid autoimmune disease (RAD). The last name is probably more accurate as the arthritis is more of a symptom of the disease than the actual disorder itself. My doctor ran new labs and sure enough....RA. That was in 2004.

In my blogs, I generally try to have fun, write about the critters who live here, family, my book and the upcoming sequel....things like that. Even so,  I also want to use it as a platform to address physical illness.

I've lived for remission. I've prayed and believed for healing. Neither have happened in this body. As a result, I've been able to achieve a level of empathy for the ill and disabled that I might not otherwise have gained on my own.

I've been told by some people that I haven't been healed because I don't have enough faith. My sarcastic nature wants to rip into that statement and tear it apart, but that's not the mission here. (And it just ain't nice!)

Here's the truth: I hurt. Everyday I hurt. I take methotrexate and folic acid and tramadol and vicodin. I count calories. I walk. And when I can't go out and walk, I walk in place in my living room. I knit to keep my fingers moving. I lay in the bed at night and cry. None of the meds have longterm effects on me. My genetic makeup doesn't allow it.

What do I do in the meantime? I social network;  I write stories and novels;  I read; I research on the internet for foods that don't have inflammatory agents; I pray; I journal; I pray (did I mention that one before?); I lay awake at night and toss and turn. Sometimes I only think about tossing and turning because my hips hurt too much to move. When I get up in the morning I cringe knowing that my feet are going to scream back at me in rebellion.. I usually wish the day would start later since most of my discomfort is in the morning. I take HOT baths. I lay in the water and my husband thinks I'm cooking. Sometimes he says "are you done yet?" (I'm not sure if he mean "finished" or "well done".)

Despite everything I've lived with for almost 30 years, I am thankful. for a husband who loves me and takes care of me and encourages me in anything and everything I attempt to do. He always tells me he came into this relationship with eyes wide open, knowing full well what he was getting himself into. I am thankful for a friend who suffers from MS because she REALLY and TRULY understands what I live with...because she lives with it, too, on a whole different level. I am thankful for friends who don't always say "how are you feeling today?" They know I probably feel awful and for whatever reason, don't ask. (Maybe they don't really want to know; maybe they are being respectful; maybe they already know the answer, maybe all of the aforementioned or none of them at all.) At any rate, I appreciate them.

I am thankful to live in a beautiful place with two awesome picture windows that I can gaze out of and admire the beautiful mountains around me, the deer who live in the yard, the cats who sit on the banister, watch the snow fall and the trees bend in the breeze, and sometimes the bears who wander by.

And believe it or not, I am thankful for RA or RAD, whichever you choose to call it, because it makes me thankful for the little things. Things like 15 minutes without pain or stiffness. Things like a chick flick with my best friend, cuddling with one of my enormous cats, folding laundry, mopping the floors, folding a blanket,  cooking pasta with my honey or brushing my cats. Sure those things sound mundane, but when you can't do them or it is a chore of great magnitude to do them, they are HUGE things.

Thanks for reading my whine blog. I promise the next one won't be so depressing. You're all amazing!

Friday, February 22, 2013

Finally - Pictures

For the past few weeks I've been unable to load any pictures to my blog. Today...miracle of all's working. So from our house to of all the animals who call our house and yard their home.

Monday, February 18, 2013

"Knee Mail"

When someone our lives becomes ill or goes through a major life trauma, we are often at a loss as to how to help them. A close relative of mine recently underwent a double mastectomy and is now beginning chemotherapy, and radiation will follow after that is completed. She lives far, far away from me and I cannot just hop in the car and drive to her house and lend a hand or hold hers.

Thankfully, she has a wonderful husband who keeps all of us well-informed. They seem to be handling all of this surprisingly well, but in the quiet hours in their home, when no one else is around I can't help but wonder if they are asking the hard questions, crying the real tears, and fearing what lies ahead.

I have wept over her diagnosis more hours than I care to admit. I believe God is in control. I believe He has this precious woman in his hands and that his hands are big enough to hold her safely without fear of dropping her by the wayside. I know the family is feeling like this is unfair...and dang it! It IS unfair.

I won't say things like "when life gives you lemons make lemonade" because it's so inappropriate. I won't say "Que Sera Sera"" because that's just flip and rude. I refuse to say "we are never given more than we can handle" because at the moment it feels like her cup is spilling over just a little bit...and that is TOO much! What I will say is this: She is strong! She has weathered many storms in her personal life that seemed insurmountable at the time and persevered. She has a fantastic "get 'er done" attitude about her breast cancer and if anyone could come out on the other side and kick cancer's proverbial butt, it is this young woman.

She recently emailed me and asked for me to keep sending up "knee mail". If you are one of my faithful readers and spend time on your knees, would you shoot up a little knee mail to the Father on her behalf? God knows who she is! I just don't mention her name because of her request for privacy.

Thank you for listening to my ramblings. I'm tired; I'm worn; I'm utterly amazed that God listens to anything I have to say, especially when I pray for the same things over and over. Thankfully, he knows how we are as his little children and is aware we have one track minds, as my mother so aptly stated.

Monday, February 11, 2013

Here Kitty, Kitty, Kitty!

A few evenings ago, I wrapped up in a sweater and headed out the front door to call my new kitties, Jack and Jill, in from an afternoon of play in the great outdoors. Our house sits on five acres on the side of a mountain with a stream and the bottom and a beaver pond to one side. Lots of trees....lots of creepy crawly predators.

It was about dusk and I was beginning to be a little nervous about the cats being out so long. They are about nine months old now and ENORMOUS Maine Coons. The male, Jack, is so big that he's like lifting weights. No kidding!

Anyway...I digress.

I stood on the porch. It was about dusk and I didn't see anything. No nothing. No birds, no cats, no dogs, no nothing.  So I called: "Here, Kitty, Kitty, Kitty."

What to my wandering eyes should appear but a yard full of deer who stood and made a mad dash to the yard. Imagine a house on a hill, the yard with a huge incline going straight down and all of a sudden about 10 deer, does and bucks alike running in your direction. If I didn't know these deer, I'd think they were going to stampede me and run right into the house. But they ran up the mountain, never taking their eyes off me, and stopped right at the front porch banister. I reached down and pet a few of them on the nose. One, a yearling buck we've loving named John Jacob (after Titanic's John Jacob Astor) stood on his hind legs and waited for a pat on the snout.

Most people would have freaked. Not so with these deer. Up here in these mountains we all have deer. We recognize our deer; they recognize us. They will sit with you in the yard. Our cats even sit with them. Same night as this one of the bucks gave our male cat a bath....and he LET him! WEIRD!

So the deer came running when I called the cats. The cats were nowhere to be found until about a half hour later. Which begs the question: which "pets" recognize my voice? The ones who live in the woods or the ones who live in the house?

Tuesday, February 5, 2013

Dreaming of Summer

It's February and today I find myself pining for warmer weather. In all honesty, it's a nice day today, warm, sunny and reminiscent of early Spring, but being stuck in the house during the long winter months always takes my mind back to the special days of summer in the Rockies.

One of my favorite things to do in the summer is whitewater rafting on the Arkansas River. My husband and I are what rafting guides call double dippers, meaning we like to raft through the Royal Gorge (Class 4 and 5 white water) two times in one day. It is tiring, exhausting, but from the minute my backside sits down in the raft there is an ear to ear grin on my face.

A few years ago we had taken some of our friends to the Gorge for a day of rafting and on the last time through something happened and my husband and I were both thrown out of the boat. I carried my oar with me like a good little rafter should, and in doing so hit another girl in the face and broke her nose. (She later thanked me because she wanted to get a nose job anyway! Who knew?)  I went to the bottom of the river and hit my jaw on a boulder and couldn't open my mouth for several hours without pain, and also broke three ribs. Luckily my husband wasn't hurt but I was almost frozen by the time we actually got out of the water.

I lifted my oar to one of the rafters for so they could help me out of the water. She didn't know what to do. Finally the guide, a young lady I would never want to tangle with (she was fierce) let out a few expletives and pushed people out of the way and lifted me out of the water and began to wrap me in warm, dry clothes.

But you know something? As awful as it was and as frightened as I was, I would get back out on the water again tomorrow if I could. It's the BEST TIME EVER!

When I write I try to incorporate life experiences into some of my stories. Can you imagine my Victorian ladies, Susan, Faerie and Augusta on a rafting trip in the appropriate dress of their day? What a word picture!

Anyway...can't wait for summer, but for now I have my dreams.

Until next time,


Picture from Lake Tahoe, another of my favorite summertime memories.