Before the Diagnosis

Now, I'm stuck in a gray area, waiting for another diagnosis.

I’ve talked about many stages of illness before, but now as I face this one again, I realize just how traumatizing the waiting and pain are when you have no idea what’s wrong with you. Now I’m stuck in a gray area, waiting for another diagnosis. Holding my breath, wishing for the best but halfway expecting the worst.

A while back I thought I had just gotten the stomach flu and I did my best to ride it out, but instead of getting better, it continued to get worse. To the point where the pain was so bad that I went to the Emergency Room.

It was a long drawn out wait and my parents sat with me. Distracting me from the pain long enough until I could get a bed. I got a shot and some medications and after the CAT scan I was waiting to be told that it was in fact just the stomach flu. I had overreacted and it was just the stomach flu.

That was what I wanted to be told.

But I wasn’t.

Instead I was told it wasn’t my appendix at least or a cyst, but something was very wrong. The doctor threw out names like Crohn’s disease, celiac, a stomach ulcer, or irritable bowel syndrome and referred me to a gastroenterologist doctor. He also gave me a diet for irritable bowel syndrome in an attempt to ease the pain while I wait. Along with some antacids and nausea medications.

The truth is I’m scared of food, every eating experience is a guessing game. You would think a banana wouldn’t cause excruciating pain and nausea, but it did. An apple also kept me up all night holding my stomach in pain, while in smoothie form they’re much easier for me to digest.

I have to keep a food diary of what I eat and how I feel afterwards. Even more alarming than my current health state is the fact that I don’t know what’s wrong.

There’s always a bit of relief with a diagnosis, a certain agreement in the fact that I am not crazy. My pain is real. What also follows the diagnosis is a wave of emotions that I don’t know if I’m ready to handle right now. I felt like I was finally getting a grip and pulling myself up out of depression. Now, I’m back at the start again and feel pretty helpless.

It’s hard to write these words, but as always, it’s for everyone else out there like me who suffers quietly. The one who rides the ups and downs of chronic illness. For all of us, I will keep record of my journey. And as we always do, I will find a way to pull through.

Just give me some time.

Depression and Chronic Illness

Just make sure that you survive

I had depression and anxiety long before I ever had my chronic illnesses. There’s something about constant, sometimes excruciating pain that can make those things a whole lot worse.

I do my best not to burden other people with my problems. I try to listen to theirs and help out when I can. When people ask me how I am, my smile falls into place instantly and I try to tone down whatever my real answer might be. The truth is that I’ve just gotten really good at smiling. I don’t like to make other people uncomfortable. I take note of who isn’t bothered when I talk about my pain and depression and I’m glad to have friends that check up on me when I go missing for long stretches of time.

Most of the time, I’m just curled up in a ball in bed in pain. I try not to be seen too much when it’s too hard to keep my smile in place, when every step hurts so bad that I don’t want to move, when the tiniest stresses can leave me in a heap of tears.

These are the moments that I don’t show to the world.

Instead, I smile, I say I’m fine and try to ignore the fact that my entire body is in pain. I work hard to focus on conversations and try to keep up with a social outing every now and then. Most of the time, I can manage. On my good days when the pain isn’t too bad, I can get a lot of things done but I pay for it later.

More recently, all of my illnesses seemed to flare up at the same exact time. Everything from Pemphigus on my scalp to my Eczema spreading from just my hands to random places all over my body. I knew that I was stressed, but I didn’t know how to stop. I wanted to be there for everyone, I wanted to be at every family get together that I could. I wanted to spend more time just doing things instead of being sick. So I ignored all the warning signs, even the signs of me slipping into a very deep depression.

I had to go back to taking baths every day just to get rid of the stiffness in my body enough that I could move. I was crying at least once a day and as I often do when things get worse, started to mourn the person that I used to be. I never let myself properly feel all the emotions and though I haven’t given up on one day reversing my health issues, I also had to start dealing with the fact that at best, I might just learn to manage my pain.

My mind became the darkest part of it all, I was flooded with a constant barrage of suicidal thoughts and in my darker moments, actually went into planning how I would do it. I couldn’t imagine day after day of this pain, but somehow I kept waking up the next day. Not “thankful to have another day”, but disappointed that I had lived through another night.

I knew that I had to do something, but not the doctors this time. I’m just too weary of going to doctors being told to try something and come back in 6 months while dealing with the daily pain on my own. Generally, I would be worse off than when I start the new medications. Instead, I turned to health and nutrition books. I knew that I had stumbled on something with supplements and the imbalances in my body. I’ve started tweaking my supplements and over time I slowly noticed the suicidal thoughts starting to fade away.

The pain is still bad, but I’ve once again improved my sleep after sleeping very poorly for the past 8 months. I’ve also written out some positive affirmations to say upon waking and have taken to doing some type of exercise daily. As far as doing my best to control the amount of stress in my life, I’ve had to limit myself and not go to everything just because. I now protect myself, from overdoing it, from people, and from myself.

I’m very blessed to have people who care enough to check up on me and talk me down from the ledge when I need it. And though I’m not completely out of the dark spot yet, I’m getting there. When I woke up today, I wasn’t disappointed to be alive. I was happy enough to be here, pain, weakened body and all. To sit here in the trenches with all the other chronic illness/pain warriors and just to say, if you need to talk to anyone, I’m here.

If you need to get help, get it.

If you need to practice self-care, do it.

It’s your life and you’ve only got one, whether you’re healthy or chronically ill you’re going to have your own battles to face and it’s up to you how you survive them, just do survive them.

I’d like to include a song that helped me a bit as I went through everything, it’s okay to let yourself feel, especially if you’ve been hiding behind a smile just like me.

When You Finally Break Through

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I’ll be the first to admit it, 2015 started out awful, it had a great high with the writer’s conference. After that, my stability was chipped to pieces. It was the worst year of my chronic pain and illnesses, I was going from doctor to doctor, each one swearing they knew how to fix it. I was let down, multiple times, by people who I had loved and trusted, who were close to me and I was more vulnerable. My depression was at an all-time high and I was asking doctors to refer me to a psychologist because I realized that I needed some professional help.

Suicidal thoughts swarmed my brain and I came to the sad conclusion in my last post that I may never be well again. When I said so to my boyfriend, thankfully, he believed for me that I would be well when I couldn’t even believe it myself. I felt abandoned by people and couldn’t understand why God couldn’t just throw some healing my way from the sky. But it was all in good time if it hadn’t been for the journey, if it hadn’t been for all of the pain physically and mentally, I wouldn’t be where I am today.

I wouldn’t have met all the other wonderful people who are fighting their own battles and we do all have our own battles to fight. I wouldn’t have learned to depend on God, instead of doctors and medications.

My dermatologist told me up front that he didn’t care about my pain, it was the last time I went to see him.

The pain management doctor that I believed could truly make a difference ended up causing a chronic migraine that lasted for two and a half MONTHS. When that didn’t work, he told me to exercise an hour a day, 6 days a week. And not to come back until I could do that for three months.

My rheumatologist told me just keep on working at my job, I told her I had already lost it from not even being able to walk.

On top of my pain, the chronic migraine and nausea limited what I could eat and it was a struggle just to find things that wouldn’t make me feel sick.

Then, just when I had given up, just when I thought that pain was forever. I got a comment on my last post, telling me to look into a holistic doctor and I did some research and found one. He wasn’t anti-medication, but going over things we realized how many medications had caused issues which led to my depression which led to me feeling worse and having more trouble sleeping in an endless loop.

One night when I was still awake at 7 am after a night of struggling to sleep, I saw a friend posting about how well she had slept, how her chronic pain was going down. I inquired about it and looked into Plexus. It wasn’t some miracle drug that just cures all your diseases, but it does help regulate your body systems and at this point I felt like my body was falling apart. Instead of grasping at straws, this time, I sat down and prayed about it and asked God to provide the money for me to get it. I also talked about it with my holistic doctor.

Within 5 days of taking it, my sleep had improved and my migraine had gone away for the first time in two and half months. I felt better on the inside, more peaceful, not so depressed, almost happy. Truly happy for the first time in a long time, not because my situation had changed, but just because I felt better on the inside.

I realized just how badly my body had suffered on the inside from all of the medications that I had been on and yes, all of my poor food choices beforehand. I could really only blame so much on the medications themselves.

After seven years of chronic illnesses and pain, I finally had a break through.

I’ve been taking it for almost a month now and the changes inside my body have been phenomenal. I wish that more doctors would tell people about natural changes and supplements that can help our bodies to recover, but I also take responsibility for not looking into it sooner myself.

My chronic pain is not completely gone, I still have a mild bit of pain in my back. But it is nothing like it was before, I have much more energy every day, I’ve said goodbye to chronic fatigue! I sleep deeply at night again and don’t keep waking up. I’ve been losing tons of inches around my waist, suicidal thoughts no longer cloud my mind, everything is clear again and some days I feel like I’m in a dream compared to where I was last year.

Before I started Plexus, I had come off all of my medications for Fibromyalgia under the guidance of doctors, not on my own. I am now only taking Synthroid, for my hypothyroidism, and a medication for migraine prevention. Otherwise, I’m just taking my supplements and feeling happy and healthy. My body has almost fully recovered to the point where I feel I can exercise again.

Most importantly, I feel like I can live again.

I wanted to share this because I would not have known about this as an option if someone had not shared it with me. I thank God every day for helping to guide me, providing for me and for starting out 2016 with so much positivity and hope. I’m thankful for everyone who believed for me to be well when I couldn’t believe it myself.

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I know that Plexus is not a cure for diseases, but what it does for the inside of your body is truly amazing. I didn’t try out Plexus originally for the weight loss, I just knew my body was really messed up and could definitely use help with regulating everything. I take the Tri-Plex and Xfactor, along with 1000mg extra Vitamin D, as was suggested to me by my holistic doctor, and 1000mg calcium a day.

I have learned the importance of taking care of our bodies and every day I’m making smarter food choices, it’s like a load has been lifted off of my mind. All that time I was chasing after different medications to try, what I really should have been focusing on was giving my body the tools it needed to fight back and slowly heal the damage done.

I know this was a long post, but I haven’t updated for a while and had a lot to get off of my mind, thanks for reading through to the end!  God bless! ❤ Thank you to everyone who was still supporting my blog while I was away.

Understudy to Pain

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Pain is the lead

I am the understudy

I’ve learned all the lines

All the rules

Of how to live life

But when it comes time to take the stage

It is never my turn


I’m never in control

I feel prepared, I could take over

I could be the star

It’s not my time

I wait, I practice

Maybe today

Maybe tomorrow


It will be my time

For now, I am minor

I almost don’t exist

I am here, in the back

Silent, waiting

Letting the pain lead my days

Until I can step into the role

And live

What I Learned From Failure

Failure

I’m afraid of a lot of things, but I believe failure has always been my biggest fear. It’s funny because I could have nightmares of creepy little girls killing people gorily in mansions and chasing me without moving, but the scariest nightmares were of me failing an actual event in real life. And no, I don’t watch horror movies.

Failure has always loomed over me, as the thing that I wanted to avoid the most. So, I always played it safe. I focused on a few things that I knew with hard work I could just accomplish. I’m an overachiever and a perfectionist. I was the one carrying group projects to glory just so my grade would be perfect. But then, what happens when we actually experience failure?

The first thing to know is that, just because you might fail at something, it does not turn you into a failure.

That was mind blowing to me. That I could fail, but I was still myself, the world still kept on turning. I was traumatized over failure, I always have been. But this time it was different, this time I thought to myself, what could I accomplish, if I didn’t let the fear of failure hold me back?

My writing took a drastically different turn, I started writing with pure abandon and not questioning myself (which led to me entering a writing contest!) I started trying to learn animation with Autodesk Maya on my own again. But what if, I realized, what if the failure that I fear so badly has been the thing holding me back from my full potential? What if, all the self-criticism had me bound and wouldn’t let me progress where I need to go? What if fear, was my only true weakness?

Now it’s true, I’m not the greatest at everything. Especially not the things that I want to do with my life, but that just means I have to work harder. I have to want it more, I have to go after it with all the strength that I do have. This also requires me to learn to let go of what I have no control over, so I can put my effort towards what I can do.

Because at the end of the day, I’d rather have a long list of things that I failed at in trying to get better, instead of a long list of regrets for never even trying.

What are some things that fear has been holding you back from accomplishing? Let me know in the comments, if you’ve already overcome your fear, let me know about that too! We’re all in this together.

Faith and Works

faith and worksMy mind is ultimately the greatest battle that I face daily. It can shred me to pieces if I allow it. Or it can build me up and give me the strength that I need to keep on smiling and encouraging others. There are times when even with all that I have learned about focusing on taking care of myself and depending on God, that the thoughts of what can I do? Still flood my mind.

I’ve been doing physical therapy over a month now, sometimes it goes so slow it’s frustrating. At times I feel like I’m going backwards, my knees have improved but everything else still hurts and my back hurts even worse than it did before. But then there’s the topic of money, sometimes I spend so much time worrying about where it’s going to come from next or how I’m going to make it. I spent half a day worrying about something I had no control over when it resolved itself, without me doing anything.

Although at the time I was freaking out and looking at culinary jobs (knowing I would only make myself 100 times worse), all I really needed to do was be patient. That’s the hardest thing for me to do at this point of my life.

I keep putting things in God’s hands and then pulling it back out to see if I can do something with it in the meantime. I still try to reanalyze and figure out the balance of faith and works, but here’s what I have realized:

Work as hard as possible on what God has given you to do.

Don’t overstep into the things that God is already working on, just do what you can with the strength that you can. There are things that we can’t force to work, but we simply have to believe, have faith and pray continuously.

God is infinitely bigger than whatever we go through, although at times doubt may flood our minds even when we are following along doing the things that we are supposed to be doing, it is okay. It’s up to us to push it back down, to take control of our mind and thoughts and let them know that there is a plan. That we will overcome.

Praise Through the Storm

Job 1 21

I’m tired and weary. The thing about chronic pain is that you never get a break or a day off. It discourages me sometimes, even when I cling on to hope for a better future, I worry about how long it will take to come. On top of the pain, things seem to keep spiraling out of my control. I see prayers being answered left and right for other people I’m praying for, but when it comes to my own issues there’s a significant lack or slowness to the results.

What do I do when I feel like my world is falling apart and nothing is going my way? I read the book of Job.

Now I’m not the type of person who finds comfort that someone else “has it worse than me”. If anything it just makes me feel worse that other people are suffering too. But the curious thing about Job in the Bible, is that when literally everything was going wrong, just because the devil decided to see if he could make Job curse God, he still didn’t blame God for it. He still kept on trusting God.

Job was rich and had tons of children, he had a good life. And in one fell swoop, he lost all of it. His livestock and his children were all killed in one horrifying twist. Even then:

20 At this, Job got up and tore his robe and shaved his head. Then he fell to the ground in worship 21 and said:

“Naked I came from my mother’s womb,
    and naked I will depart.
The Lord gave and the Lord has taken away;
    may the name of the Lord be praised.”

Job 1:20-21

But that still wasn’t enough for the devil to destroy his life, after that he went back and asked for permission from God to attack Job’s health next and said then Job would curse God, even with Job losing everything and his health in tatters, he still didn’t curse God. In time, God restored everything to Job and more. It always lets me know that even in the darkest of times, there is always hope for complete restoration.

I strive to hold on, even when I can’t understand what God is doing in my life right now. For the first time in a long time, I feel like I’m exactly where God wants me to be in my life. I’m blindly walking out on the water and trusting him to show me the way. I’m believing that the plan he has for my life, for all of our lives, is greater than any of us could ever comprehend.

If we continue to trust him through the storms, if we continue to pray and praise him when we hurt the strongest, when we have no way of knowing how things will work out, or when they will. Then we can all say “The Lord gave and the Lord has taken away; may the name of the Lord be praised.”

Here’s a song I love from Joseph: King of Dreams (a retelling of the story of Joseph) that resonates with how I feel much of the time. It’s called You Know Better Than I: