an honest conversation about the ugly things

When our state Attorney General’s wife, Bridgette Marshall, passed away last weekend, something about her – and his family – really affected me and I couldn’t get them out of my mind. Information started slowly trickling in, some from reputable news outlets, some rumors, but, by Sunday night, I understood that she had some mental health issues and had committed suicide.

My heart just broke for her sweet daughter, Faith, who is in the midst of planning her wedding, and I sent her a message of condolence.

I hadn’t heard much more until I received a notification on Facebook that the AG was going live on Wednesday – which seemed odd as his wife’s funeral wasn’t even until Friday. (I will link the entire conference at the bottom of this post.)

It turned out that there had been so many incorrect things blogged and published in the media that he and his family decided to tell his wife’s story – and listening was both heartbreaking and all too familiar.

As I could have predicted – or maybe just knew? – Bridgette suffered from chronic pain due to migraines throughout her life as well as depression and anxiety and gastroparesis that sounded like it was probably related to some eating disorder issues. As a result of her chronic pain, she also dealt with opioid dependence. Altogether she lived with so much suffering mentally and physically – and apparently the night before she died, strange blisters had popped up on her feet so yet another physical problem that she couldn’t figure out – and it was just too much to bear.

And here is what she said to her husband that just floored me: “I don’t have a purpose, and I’m tired. My body is failing me and I don’t know why. I’ve had pain for a long time and I don’t want to endure it anymore, and I’m just a burden.”

If you’ve read this blog for any length of time, these are the very thoughts I’ve tried to express on the bad days of dealing with chronic illness. At times, I’ve typed damn near these exact words and then gone back and softened my language so as not to scare the ever-living hell out of my loved ones. But the bad feelings are real – and expressed by pretty much every spoonie I know at one time or another.

At the same time, I’ve been doing some reading for a piece I want to write and I’ve come across several brutally honest essays by fellow spoonies. The most striking perhaps listed suicide as her “retirement plan.” She also described being silenced by loved ones when she tries to discuss her feelings because it is too much for them to hear – which I can understand but this not helpful. After all of my reading, including some of the awful comments regarding Bridgette’s death, I think it is time for an honest conversation again about living with chronic pain and mental illness (at least what I know of it), not to be a bummer, but to help healthy people understand:

For me, my illness has taken a turn for the worse – for no apparent reason other than that it is a progressive illness. I’ve been spending a great deal of time working on my computer, sitting in my spot, because sitting – and napping – is about all I can do quite often. In response to this sudden worsening, I spoke to my doctor today and will be increasing my chemo injection again – which is guaranteed to make me sick as Hale, and lay me out even more for a day or two, so I am just dreading it terribly.

See, I already do feel like a burden quite often. It is absolutely nothing anyone is doing. My family is wonderful. It’s just that I used to have a good job and my own income and be able to keep up with housework and do the things that needed to be done and now I do none of those things. In addition to that, I have been so sick lately that my medication costs have been EVEN MORE ridiculous than normal – so not only do I not contribute, I cost a hell of a lot. Yes, it’s enough to make anybody feel like total pooh.

Lupus is one of my secondary diagnosis – but it isn’t secondary in terms of cost. 😦

Feeling my body getting worse has brought on all kinds of crazy anxiety and the best thing I can do is breathe and rub on my Valor and pray hard and hang on to my lil’ weenie dog. The physical definitely triggers the mental. That’s true of everybody I think.

Also, living in constant pain is a total assault on a person. There is no escape from it. Sometimes it’s better; sometimes it’s worse – but it is ALWAYS there. And it sucks. There’s no way around it. I have written before – many times – that the suicide rate among the chronic pain population is three times that of the healthy population. I want to be sure that people understand how serious this is – and that they offer support to their loved ones who need it.

And all of this gets exhausting.

I am so thankful for my amazing support system – my husband, my daughter, my family, my bestie, the world’s best weenie dog. . . I am also thankful to be able to write and feel that I can be of service in this way. It helps tremendously.

And, as I posted earlier this week, I keep focusing on the good things and the things I want to do and seeking joy regardless.

As always, no matter what, we push forward. Always forward. It is the only way through.

Be well, everybody.

Grace and Blessings.

 

 

 

 

 

 

thanks, mrs o

Somewhere, floating around in my library, is my creative writing book I did as the final project for Mrs. O’s class during my junior year of high school. I found it in my hope chest several years ago.

Mrs. O, one of my all time favorite teachers and a dear friend, believed in my writing back then when I realized I really really wanted to be a writer.

Of course, life took some turns, as it has a way of doing – more life experience to write about, we’ll say.

But, as I’ve stopped working and been at home, I’ve been writing again. I started this place, which I love, and I’ve recently been submitting my work . . .

And this week this happened:

https://www.theopalclub.com/personal/twice-the-woman-i-used-be-how-my-autoimmune-diagnosis-changed-my-relationship-with-my-body

I am so happy to see my work shared, especially about something so close to my heart.

And I’m loving working on other pieces and my book as well.

And I’m really loving following my writing dreams again.

Always forward.

Be well, everybody.

Grace and Blessings.

dreams

 

 

 

 

before i die. . .

One of my favorite things to do is geek out and watch TED talks.

Late at night, I cozy up in my pjs with a LaCroix and start with whichever first catches my eye and then I’m down the rabbit hole. . . Usually I emerge a few hours later, having watched 8 or 10 talks that were recommended for me, knowing all kinds of nifty new things.

A couple of days ago, I caught a talk that really spoke to me from Candy Chang, who is the creator of the “Before I Die” chalkboards that are placed in different cities, where people write their aspirations.

I love this project and I loved her talk (I will link it at the bottom of this post).

One thing she said that really resonated with me was, “Thinking about death clarifies your life.” I believe that is so true.

I suppose I’m more comfortable thinking about death than your average bear, perhaps because I worked so closely with the dying when I was an active nurse or perhaps because I am a chronically ill person now. Maybe a bit of both.

I believe it is a really good idea to have in our minds a Before I Die List – or a bucket list, if you will – and mine needs a good updating. Some of the things I thought I would do I just can’t anymore and there are some new things I really want to get around to. And it isn’t a morbid thing. Far from it. It’s just a way of keeping big goals in mind amid the day-to-day and I find it is especially helpful for me, as it appears I am not so much “flaring” anymore as my disease has just really progressed lately – meaning this seems to be a permanent state of being. 😦

I am so in need of good stuff to focus on too. So. . .

Before I Die I want to:

  1. Visit Italy, especially Rome and Vatican City.
  2. Publish my book. I hope more than one.
  3. See Les Mis on Broadway. (and lots of other shows too – but I MUST see Les Mes there)
  4. Do the Big Foot trip with Sara.
  5. Concerts. So many concerts. All of the concerts.
  6. Alaska cruise. And, no Lorelai, I don’t care if it means I’m headed for the home. 😉
  7. We must do Potter World and Disney.
  8. Remarry my better half in Vegas. With Elvis. Yassss.
  9. San Fran.
  10. . . .

There are many more things as well, places I want to see, things to do, goals to accomplish.

I hope that you will all give it some thought and start your own list too.

Forward. Always forward.

Happy Wednesday, y’all.

Grace and Blessings.

 

we rescued our furbabies – and they rescued us too.

My regular readers are used to reading about Henry the Wonderpup – because he is the best lil’ weenie dog/service dog in the land 😉 – but I want to talk about his story today (and about our other precious rescue fur babies too) because it’s a special weekend here in our city at the Greater Birmingham Humane Society – and rescuing is my heart.

Last year, I went to see my doctor for a visit on August 17th where my heart rate was extremely high and my anxiety was out of control. She strongly recommended that I consider getting an emotional support service dog to help me. When I got home that evening, it was a crazy night – kids, kids, kids – and I didn’t get a chance to discuss it with my husband until the next day.

I remember that we were driving down I-459 towards our favorite used bookstore on August 18th when I filled him in on the visit and he immediately hopped off the interstate to go down Hwy 150 to the Humane Society to visit the doggies – because he is amazing like that.

After a couple of hours there, we adopted Juliet, to join our other two big doggies, Dave (who is celebrating her 4th Birthday today!) and Dax:

Dax (also a GBHS alum) is on the left, Juli-Bug is in the center, and Dave Grohl, the Birthday Girl, who was rescued by Daddy after someone abandoned her on the side of the road in Hackleburg when she was a wee pup, is on the right.

And, of course, we adopted Henry Albus Herring, who literally jumped in my lap when he came in the room to meet us. Here is his Welcome-To-The-Family Announcement:

Henry was four when we adopted him and we are fairly certain his previous human passed away, giving him some separation anxiety understandably. He and I are a matched set and we are not apart often (and never for long). He gets upset when he is away from me (and vice versa). I guess I’m his emotional support human too. ❤

If you notice, he was pretty thin when we adopted him. I also suspect he wouldn’t eat much at GBHS due to anxiety. Now he expects halvsies of my food and I don’t cook anything that isn’t Super H friendly these days. . . so definitely not an issue anymore. 😉

From the start, he slept in the bed with me and let me know my place:

I also learned quickly that he likes to wear clothes – and gets very upset if he is naked. Now, he is never without his shirt:

We dress up together for Halloween – and birthdays and any other chance we get:

Two of the Sanderson Sisters – the third was off with her friends. =D

Beast and Belle for Henry’s 5th Birthday Party

And we love Christmas! Henry has his own little tree!

And, of course, he gets to go tell Santa what he wants:

And, even though he is my emotional support service dog, oh my goodness, does this little boy ever love his Daddy. . .

And he has his own little car seat because he looooves car rides . . .

And he is a fabulous sports cheerleader:

Cheering on the Braves with Daddy!

Bringing home the National Championship for the Crimson Tide!

But, most importantly, I so needed him when we adopted him and my health problems and the related issues have only gotten more serious since then.

Since he came home, I’ve had to shave my head due to medications making my hair fall out, I’ve been dealing with disability for a full year now (so I haven’t been able to work), my pain has worsened significantly, I have broken bones in both of my feet that aren’t going to heal, my right hip has gotten much worse, and I’ve been diagnosed with diabetes.

These things have not been great for my anxiety to say the least.

So I am incredibly thankful that God sent my little buddy to keep me company and bring me such joy and sit up with me on rough nights and do so many fun things with me and bring so much happiness to our whole family. The Lord knew just how much we needed him.

Me and my baby boy.

I wanted to share our story again because this weekend at the Greater Birmingham Humane Society their goal is to empty the shelter. All adoptions are $21. Yesterday, 100 furbabies were adopted, which is amazing!

Today (Sunday), they are open from 12-5 and adoptions are still $21. If you have been considering adding to your family, please, please, please, adopt, don’t shop. You will be so glad you did.

As I said, Henry, Jules, and Dax are all GBHS alums. Dave was rescued when my better half spotted her after someone abandoned her in a ditch when she was a puppy.

And, last, but definitely not least, our elder statesman:

Mickodemus Crookshank Brimley Herring

If you are a feline person, well, we are too!

Mick found me on Thanksgiving Weekend 2010 at a friend’s house, when I was sitting by the fire pit. He kind of just walked up and chose me and we’ve been together ever since. I lub him so.

If you want to add a Mickodemus to your family, the GBHS has plenty to meet – and cat adoptions are also $21!

If you’ve been wanting to grow your family, I hope you’ll consider going down there today!

https://gbhs.org/

 300 Snow Drive, Birmingham, AL 35209

(205) 942-1211

Be well, everybody. Happy Sunday!

Grace and Blessings!

 

 

changing our perspective on addiction

When I stopped drinking, there were challenges for sure, my anxiety being the biggest, but more rewards by far.

6.21.18

My head was clearer, my body more healthy (as much as possible for me), my spirit more free.

Still, I realize that I have a tremendous support system that made it so much better for me – and that there were other points in my life where I not only could not have stopped so easily  but I also drank much more and much heavier alcohol during those times.

I say this because I just watched this wonderful TED talk:

At the end, Johann states, “the opposite of addiction is connection” and I am realizing how true that is.

Now, when I feel overwhelmed with my health issues and anxiety disorder, I have my husband and daughter at home. I have my emotional support dog, Henry the Wonderpup. I have my amazing family, who live about two hours away but would be in the car in a flash if need be. I have wonderful friends who message often. I have my bestie, Al, who lives a couple of miles away and who’s door is always open. I have my bestie, Ginny, who lives a few hours away but is always on call. I am never alone, even on my yuckiest days.

However, many who are battling addiction, whether it is to alcohol or opioids or  amphetamines or another substance, feel that they are on their own. This is made worse by the fact that is often SO frustrating to deal with a person when they are in the grips of addiction that we naturally push them away. It is an incredibly difficult situation for all who are involved. That is why support is needed both for addicts and for their loved ones.

As it seems that I can’t go more than a few days without hearing of a death directly or indirectly linked to substance abuse and I hear of so much suffering related to addiction and I am so incredibly grateful to have been set free myself, I will continue to preach the “help is available for everyone” gospel as long as these fingers can type.

If you are struggling, you are NOT alone. Even if you don’t have a support system at this time in your family and friends, support is available to you:

aa.org

na.org

celebraterecovery.com

hipsobriety.com

For family members and friends: al-anon.org

There are many other support groups available online as well. Just do a search.

As always, if you are in crisis, present to the nearest emergency room. They WILL help you regardless of your insurance situation.

No matter how you feel, you are never alone.

Be well, everybody.

Grace and Blessings.

 

 

tales from that sahm life.

Y’all, I’m going crazy. Only a little, I think, but crazy none the less.

See, as you all know, I no longer am able to work outside of our home, and that has been a major adjustment, mentally, emotionally, and financially.

However, I have been able to be useful in some ways at home as both of our daughters are home with me. Our youngest, Sara, needed to begin homeschooling due to some health challenges so it was a blessing that we were able to work that out. Our oldest, Laura, is also home right now and we are working on some things for her as well. And, of course, they are getting to spend some quality time together these days. 😉

Where Sara and I have similar personalities so we can do things together but also enjoy our alone time, Laura is 100 percent extrovert. She wants company all the time. As a result, I hear, “Mom. Mom. Mom. . .” every waking moment. I JUST told her I HAD to have some quiet at 2:45 AM – only to hear “Mom” again at 2:55. Then we had a “Go. To. BED!” moment. Serenity now!!!

I’m going a lil’ crazy, y’all.

When I take a nap and get up to go to the bathroom, the toilet flushing is actually – seriously – the cue to come to my door and say “Mom.” #fixitjesus

I love her dearly and I love spending time with her. It’s not that. It’s just that I require some solitude to recharge as well. In fact, if I can have my time, I actually get to enjoy our group time together. Without my time, well. . .

Additionally, contrary to popular belief, I have actual work to do for my health coaching practice and writing to do as well for my book, my blog, and some pieces I am working on for other places.

Soooo. . . before I drop my basket completely, I have come up with a plan. My little extroverted extrovert (EE) needs some boundaries – and I need some peace. My solution? Office hours.

My office is across the hall from our bedroom and has a tunnel where Henry the Wonderpup can run back and forth as he pleases. So he and I will be keeping actual office hours – where we are not to be disturbed unless someone is on fire – each day.

Yes, my little EE will be ready to explode.

Yes, she will hate it.

Yes, she will say “Mom is cray.”

But. . .

Mom won’t be cray – and that is a good thing.

And Mom will be getting her work done.

And Mom will be much less stressed.

And that’s not all.

While I’m handing out bad news for offspring, the EE is a bit challenged in the housework department and we are going to remedy that this week as “Mom, Mom, Mom” has some major physical problems and so does Sara and we are both doing all we can do.

Oh, the meany head is on the loose. . .

This will be better than my other plan though:

mom 2

Bahahaha!

So, that’s all for today’s tales from the SAHM trenches.

Be well and Happy Wednesday, y’all!

Grace and Blessings.

swimming toward the light.

I wrote about my disease issues in detail last week, ending with my diabetes diagnosis. At that point, I had been loaded up with steroids for my RA flare – after two ER visits – and was going to take our girls to our planned outing on Sunday – which I did. I also assumed I would be posting here and on my health coaching practice blog on Monday.

But, instead? All week . . . radio silence.

Where my RA has made me incredibly ill before, this week it just totally Laid. Me. Out.

I was in total misery, no matter what I did.

I honestly couldn’t seem to get the pain under control well enough to write a post or read a book or get my thoughts together half of the time.

When I was “lucky,” I was sleeping for incredibly long stretches due to exhaustion (and that’s only lucky as it was a respite from the pain).

It was truly surreal.

I finally began to see the light yesterday evening.

And today I am beginning to really feel like myself again.

And I am incredibly thankful for that.

I don’t know if the flare was worse because of daytime heat exposure on Sunday (I usually only go out for nighttime activities during the summer) or because I was active when I was already flaring or just because. Regardless, it was so so frightening for me and I know for my family as well.

RA is just a beast.

The key now is not to allow myself to become fearful of the flare – as that is so easy to do after one so scary – because I can’t live in fear. Instead, I’m picking back up with my practice work and my writing plans and the daily posts on my LHH site and my to-read list and our wonderful trip to see our family tomorrow.

Always forward.

Happy Weekend, y’all. Have a wonderful Father’s Day!

Grace and Blessings.