Gut-wrenching fear struck me as I looked at the name that popped up on my phone, Deanna Deanna. The name was supposed to only say Deanna, but apparently I had a brain fart the day I entered my Aunt Deanna’s name into my contact list. Just seeing her name once was a enough to make me nauseous, but twice put me over the edge. Deanna never calls me unless there is a problem, specifically with my Mother. As I live 90 miles away, my Mother’s sister is her first line of defense is something were to happen. Considering the fact that Mom is 80 years-old things are bound to happen that are out of our control.
For years my Mom and her younger sister have been daily lunch partners with the latter picking her up. They hit almost every restaurant in town during the week and when they are done with that they go to the surrounding cities for lunch. On this particular day they were sitting at the local bowling alley getting ready to order lunch. Before they even picked up the menu Mom turned a pasty white, started sweating bullets, and had difficulty moving her left arm without extreme pain. Aunt Deanna rushed her to the emergency room then gave me the call that made me start sweating bullets.
Everything turned out OK with Mom for now, but it still frightened me to the core. I stayed with Mom for a few days, then did something that put me in the doghouse. Before leaving for home I drove her to the Home Health division of the hospital and told her this was it, she’s getting a Life Line. Yes, Life Line. You know those annoying commercials “Help, I’ve fallen and I can’t get up”? Talk about an unhappy camper. Mom was not pleased at all with the fact I was forcing her to do something against her will. She is very independent and stubborn but she wasn’t getting her way this time. She informed me that she wasn’t one of those old ladies and she always has her cell phone with her (no, she doesn’t).
I didn’t back down and got my way this time but it made me feel awful. My mom is my closest friend in the world and felt as if I had betrayed her confidence. That feeling didn’t last too long though. By the time I drove home I felt so much more secure knowing Mom would be safer in her home now. In fact, it’s been several weeks now and she no longer even mentions the help button that hangs around her neck. Maybe that’s because she is now upset with me for mentioning the dreaded word “walker” or the fact I said no more driving her car. I guess we just have to take baby steps. Momma raised me which couldn’t have been easy. Now the tides have turned and I am taking care of her (when she lets me).
Chronic pain can make your life completely miserable, sometimes even unbearable. I deal with moderate to severe pain on a daily basis and there have been times that I didn’t think I could live another day. I suffer from Fibromyalgia, Restless Leg Syndrome, and severe early onset osteoarthritis. Just imagine having the worst flu ever with aches and pains throughout your whole body. Well, that’s my average day. A couple of years ago I could barely function at times, and now I take medication to help with the symptoms, but the pain is still there. I have just learned to manage and deal with it in ways that allow me to get the most out of life without killing someone.
1. Lose the self-pity. Immersing yourself in self-pity doesn’t make the pain any better. Trust me, I know this from experience. I found out the hard way that feeling sorry for myself did nothing but make me feel depressed and grumpy. Grumpy people rarely get sympathy from anyone. Most people, family included, don’t or don’t want to understand pain chronic pain from invisible illnesses and self-pity along with a cantankerous attitude isn’t going to win you any points.
2. Don’t find a good doctor, find a GREAT doctor. I suffered for years before finally getting a complete diagnosis. Fibromyalgia and other diseases can often mimic heart problems which led me to be hospitalized in the cardiac unit and undergo an unnecessary heart catheterization to the tune of almost $25,000. Thank God for for health insurance. On a positive note, I found out my heart is in great condition. After my sister was diagnosed with Fibromyalgia and my Mother with Polymyalgia rheumatica (a very similar illness), I put two and two together and found an awesome rheumatologist who was able to diagnose me. He prescribed medication and treatments that have greatly improved my quality of life.
3. Get up and move! Sitting on your rear might feel good at the time, but getting up and moving around helps to ease my pain immensely. In fact, my pain is sometimes worse from lack of movement. When I first started to get sick all I wanted to do was lie in bed all day and almost said the Hell with life. It just about killed me at first but making sure to stay active helps the aches and pains to be less intense. Now I spend my days watching my 18 month old granddaughter Harper. At first I didn’t think I would be able to handle it but I am so glad I made that choice. She brings me the greatest joy imaginable and helps me to forget the pain.
4. Find a hobby. Is there something that you enjoyed doing before you became ill? Get back into life and your old hobby or find a new one. Granted, some adjustments might have to be made depending on the activity. Obviously someone who suffers from sever chronic pain probably isn’t going mountain or rock climbing so do something else. Writing has become a favorite pastime for me and also a great outlet. Sometimes I have trouble typing because of the swelling in the joints of my fingers, so I mentally outline what I plan to write in the future. Either way it is a pastime that I look forward to.
5. Enjoy life. You have only have one life to live so enjoy it to the fullest of your ability. Even on my worst days I find something to enjoy even if it’s just a silly show on television. Anything that I enjoy doing that will take my mind off the pain works for me. I hope it will work for you too!
A change in lifestyle often happens not because of a want or a need, but because of an unforeseen condition. Such is the case with me. My life has changed dramatically because of my diagnosis with Fibromyalgia and the beginning signs of Rheumatoid arthritis. I have good days and bad days because of the pain and this has certainly taken a toll on me. On the good days I work hard to get everything done I can and on the bad days I basically just suffer. Most of my symptoms began when I was in my late teens and early twenties getting worse with age.
Sometimes a change of lifestyle is not always because of a health condition but because of a need or desire to change. Such was the case with my son Ryan. Ryan was born on a chilly October 21st, 1991, healthy and screaming out loud. It wasn’t long before that would change though. For the next few years Ryan spent most of the time fighting constant ear infections, bronchitis, and several cases of walking pneumonia. He even had five sets of tubes placed in his ears. By the time he was six, he just seemed to magically get better. He spent his time running and playing just like every other kid.
Ryan, 5th grade
Then came middle school and so did the pounds. Ryan became more interested in video games and food than running and playing. He did play football in the 7th grade, but wasn’t able to join the team when 8th grade came around because he had just had surgery for a benign tumor in his nose. It seemed by the 9th grade that Ryan was doomed. This time he had surgery for a large cyst in his groin just before the football season started. He did join marching band, but it just didn’t give him the exercise he needed.
By the time Ryan was a senior in high school, he weighed well over 300 pounds. While he did have friends, he was having trouble with depression and was also starting to feel the symptoms of the syndrome that I suffer from, Fibromyalgia. His job at a fast food restaurant was also obviously contributing to his weight. He said recently that he was at the point where he figured his depression didn’t matter anyhow because he was going to die from being fat. All the encouragement in the world from his Dad and me didn’t seem to make a difference.
Ryan, Senior in High School
Finally, about a year and half ago, he decided he had to do something. It was basically live or die for him. He stopped drinking pop and eating fast food at work along with beginning to exercise just a little bit at a time. It was hard for him, but he kept at it. Not only did he give up fast food, but he did a lot of experimenting with his diet, even becoming a complete vegan at one point. Recently he incorporated meat back into his diet, but everything that he eats is either organic or healthy. He even uses only organic products for cleaning, showering, and laundry.
Over the last year and a half Ryan has gone from a couch potato to a healthy eating person that exercises regularly including cardio, weight lifting, and jogging. He has currently lost over 130 pounds. A couple of weeks ago he even ran in the Warrior Dash in Kansas City, MO with his sister. Sometimes when I look at my son now, I don’t even recognize him. Change in lifestyle or not, Ryan would always be much loved by us, but I can honestly say that I am very proud of him. Change isn’t easy, but with a little willpower, it can be done.
Ryan Today After Running the Warrior Dash
Saying goodbye to my Dad while he was lying on a cold, hard slab was one of the most difficult things that I have ever done. He had only been gone for a couple of hours, but the coldness had already crept into his whole being. I held his hand anyhow while the tears streamed down my face. Thank God my husband was there to keep me standing; otherwise I would have hit the floor from the overpowering grief. While my Dad was not the first relative of mine to die he was certainly the closest. He was not only my Father, but one of my closest friends.
Dad had his first massive heart attack at 59, causing his and my Mom’s life to change forever. After having open heart surgery, he was forced to retire early because of his health. He was a good, strong man though, and didn’t let this destroy him. Dad had been a nurse and an ultrasound/x-ray technician during his career, so he knew all about caring and giving to others and this is exactly what he did for the next 18 years. He became involved in numerous volunteer projects and was even named senior volunteer of the year at one time. No matter how much pain he was in, he always had a smile on his face for others. Over the years Dad had numerous health concerns and surgeries causing him to physically die on the table, but always come back. Maybe this was one of the reasons his death was so hard on me, he had always cheated death before.
In the weeks before Dad passed he had been to the emergency room numerous times for severe back pain. Since they didn’t feel it was his heart, he was medicated and sent home with Mom. I lived a little over an hour way, so in between visits, I spent a lot of time on the phone with my parents. In fact, I called them two or three times every day. When Dad’s back got worse, I started to call him at 7:30 in the morning on my way to work. Since I already talked to him several times a day, I decided to cut out the 7:30 call so he wouldn’t get dependent on it and be upset if I forgot. It was one of the worst mistakes I ever made.
The night Dad died my Mom called to say they had been to the emergency room and had been sent home once again with pain medicine for his back. I offered to come home and be with them both to see what I could do, but my Mom reassured me it was OK. It wasn’t. At four am I got the call that Dad was gone. I just held the phone and couldn’t even function. My husband pretty much dressed me and we made the longest, most difficult journey that I will ever remember.
The moral of this story is to never take anyone for granted and give them that extra moment whenever you can. If I had kept on calling Dad at 7:30 every morning, I would have been able to speak to him fourteen more times before he died. It took me a long time to forgive myself for that but I finally did and I know that Dad is always watching over me.
My husband is one of those guys who can’t go to sleep without his wife at his side. I guess I provide comfort and make him feel sleepy. Usually I lay there till he falls asleep, then I get up and find something to do since I can’t sleep anyhow. A couple of weeks ago I started painting the family room at 2 am.
The last couple of days have been rather tough, lots of pain and very little relief. My knees and the joints of my fingers just throb and there isn’t much I can do to make the pain go away. I was so exhausted from being miserable last night that I fell asleep at 9 pm and slept straight through until 4 am. This rarely happens for me and I awoke refreshed, happy, and somewhat pain-free.
This wasn’t the case for the hubby. I walked out into the family room to see him sitting on the couch in misery. It seems that he didn’t get any sleep and spent the night tossing and turning thanks to me. Me? I slept for once, what could I have done? Apparently even though I was sound asleep I cried and moaned in pain all night. I guess this was a good thing for me, the pain eluded me through dreams, but tortured my husband. Sleep is overrated anyhow.
Richfield. (Photographer). (n.d.). Round, biconvex white tablets. [Web Photo]. Retrieved from http://www.freestockphotos.biz/stockphoto/5483
For health reasons my husband has been after me to start implementing gluten-free into our diet. Since I love bread, it’s not as easy as it sounds, especially cost-wise. Gluten-free bread at the store costs anywhere from $5 on up. Not exactly in our price range for a loaf of bread. So I did some research and found a site with lots of recipes to use including one for the bread machine. I was so excited that I went shopping for all the supplies at one in the morning.
I have been baking home-made bread for years, including using the bread machine. I am one of those people that just uses a recipe as a guide and pretty much just does it my way. It’s worked for me for thirty years, so I didn’t think it would be an issue this time. Well, I found out the hard way that this recipe needs to be followed step by step. My first try resulted in bread that resembled a piece of lava rock. I was pretty frustrated since I invested quite a bit of money to get the supplies.
I decided to give it another go today and followed the recipe to a tee. This time out came a delicious looking loaf. Well worth the effort. The recipe is from Mary Frances at Gluten Free Cooking School.
- 1 Tbsp. bread machine yeast
1 Tbsp. sugar
1 ½ c. water (105 degrees or a little less than hot)
- 2 ½ cups of my gluten free flour mix
2 tsp. xanthan gum
- 3 eggs (or 9 Tbsp. water and 3 Tbsp. ground flax seed)
1 ½ Tbsp. oil
1 tsp. cider vinegar
1. Start by combining the yeast and sugar in a small bowl (I use the smallest in my set of three nested mixing bowls). Add the water while gently stirring the yeast and sugar. Let this mixture sit while you mix the rest of the ingredients – bubbles and foam should form if the yeast is happy.
2. Combine the flour mix, xanthan gum and salt in the largest mixing bowl and stir well.
3. In a third bowl, whisk the eggs, oil and vinegar until the eggs are a bit frothy.
4. By this point the yeast mixture should be foamy, so you can pour the two liquid mixtures into the flour mixture. Blend the dough with a mixer for 4 minutes.
Bread Machine Directions:
Scoop your dough into the bread machine and smooth the top of the dough. I bake my bread using an 80 minute setting that allows for 20 minutes of kneading, 18 minutes of rise, and 42 minutes of baking. However, since I don’t use the paddle in by bread machine, I’m effectively doing a 38 minute rise and a 42 minute bake. (The advantage of not using the paddle is that you don’t end up with a hole in the bottom of your bread.)
Conventional Oven Directions:
Scoop the dough into a greased loaf pan. Allow the dough to rise in a warm area until is is about 1 inch from the top of the pan. Then bake at 375 degrees for 50 – 60 minutes. (Frances, 2011)
Frances, M. (2011, October 3). Finally, really good sandwich bread: Our favorite gluten free bread recipe. Retrieved from http://www.glutenfreecookingschool.com/archives/finally-really-good-sandwich-bread/
Eating healthier is a serious goal of ours for 2012, especially with my recent diagnosis of Fibromyalgia. Tofu is not one of my husband’s favorite foods, but he does like this recipe. It is definitely one of my favorites that I have concocted.
- 1/2 package of firm tofu
- 2 tsp. olive oil
- Garlic pepper
- Dried onions or chopped fresh onions
- Small bag of stir fry frozen vegetables
- Handful of shredded cheese
Drain the tofu and dry on cheesecloth or paper towels. Cut into cubes and add to hot frying pan with olive oil. Sprinkle tofu with garlic pepper and add onions to taste. Cook on medium high stirring often until tofu starts to brown. Add frozen vegetables and lower heat to medium. Cook until vegetables are done. Sprinkle cheese (I use cheddar) over mixture and continue to cook until cheese is melted. Serve hot. Fresh vegetables can be added instead of frozen, but frozen is more cost effective and easier.
If you have never had tofu, give this a try. You might end up liking it.
I have never been fond of going to the doctor or the emergency room when something happens to myself. This is not because I am afraid of the doctor, but because I am frugal. Take for example my last little trip to the ER. The entire thing plus hospital stay ended up costing over $20,000. Fortunately we have health insurance, but we still have to pay our portion. It seems like one doctor bill gets paid and a new one shows up on your doorstep. It’s a never ending battle.
Sometimes I refuse to go to the ER because of time constraints or when the kids were little because no one was able to watch them for me. The latter was the case when I broke my finger and possibly fractured my wrist years ago. My husband worked night shift and wasn’t home when I slipped off the back porch putting the dogs out in the middle of the night. It was icy and I should have been more careful, but that doesn’t always matter when it comes to ice. I flew off the steps and landed on my right hand, hearing more than one crack. By the time I made it into the house my wrist was throbbing and I didn’t even want to look at my hand, but I had too. My middle finger was not only obviously broken but standing straight up! Talk about some serious pain.
We lived in a small town at the time that didn’t have a doctor in the emergency room over night, just one on call. I knew that I would have to wait quite awhile for the doctor to come in to fix my wrist and finger. That wasn’t going to work since both kids were under three at the time and my husband wasn’t home to watch them. Both my parents and in-laws were out of town as well. There was no WAY I was going to drag two screaming children to the emergency room unless I was on the verge of death. So, I iced my finger and wrist for awhile, had a few shots of vodka, then did the unthinkable. I grabbed my finger with my left hand, pulled up and then out, straightening it. It’s remarkable that the kids didn’t wake up or the police didn’t come to my door, because I did my fair share of screaming. Once the pain settled down, I splinted my finger and wrapped both it and my wrist. I never did go to the doctor, but probably should have.
So, while it is possible to fix your own broken finger, it isn’t something that I would ever suggest. Pain pills or a shot sure would have helped. At least my finger isn’t crooked, so I guess it could have been worse.