Getting To Know Me

Getting to know all about me!!!
It occurred to me that I’ve written a lot about my illnesses, etc. but I haven’t told you a lot about me, the person, so I thought I’d change that today. One of my favourite bloggers sent out a post with some questions on it that was a great start, so here we go:
What is your favourite summer holiday destination?
Hubby and I tend to stick around the home during the summer, but because we have a new motorcycle, we are exploring a lot more on the bike! I can’t go super far because I tire out fairly quickly but we’ve gone as far as Mill Bay and round-trip home on the Mill Bay/Brentwood Bay ferry, and then on other trips, out to Sooke and Metchosin. We just took a road trip from August 22-25th, going to Mt. Vernon, WA to meet an online friend in person for the first time! Maura and I binge-watched the second season of This Is Us since I can’t get it in Canada, and Ray explored the roads on the bike and then we all got together for dinner in the evening with Maura’s husband Paul joining us. We had a great time! On Friday, the 24th, Maura and I met up with another online friend of mine whom I’ve met before and had lunch. It was nice to introduce Megan and Maura and I think that will be another friendship that will blossom. Ray and I returned home on Saturday and I’m sure the cat missed us – she wouldn’t leave our laps for the rest of the day!

A favourite childhood memory of summer?
Every summer my family would go to Powell River, BC and spend at least 2 weeks at my Aunt & Uncle’s cabin on Powell Lake. No electricity, no washroom (just the outhouse) but more fun than I can possibly remember. Swimming, boating, water-skiing, skinny-dipping, hanging out with my best summer friend Tina…those were always the best 2 weeks of my life.
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Which do you prefer ice cream or frozen yogurt?
Absolutely ice cream!!!! I love plain vanilla because I can dress it up in so many ways – with peaches or berries, or chocolate fudge and marshmallows, and I especially love it with chocolate pudding on top!
What is your go-to dinner on a hot summer evening? Feel free to share the recipe!!
Easy Ranch potato salad. Boil potatoes, let cool. Cut into cubes, add chopped celery, cooked bacon bits and ranch dressing. Mix well, add chopped green onion and chill until serving.
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What is your favourite BBQ food!
Pork chops, potato and corn on the cob, all cooked in a foil pack.
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Ingredients

  • ½ cup barbecue sauce
  • ¼ cup honey
  • 2 teaspoons ground cumin
  • 4 pork boneless rib or loin chops, 3/4 to 1 inch thick (1 1/4 pounds)
  • 2 large ears corn, each cut into 6 pieces
  • 1 cup baby-cut carrots, cut lengthwise in half
  • 2 cups (from a 1-pound 4-ounce bag) refrigerated cooked new potato wedges
  • 1 teaspoon salt

Steps
Heat coals or gas grill for direct heat. Spray half of one side of four 18×12-inch sheets of heavy-duty aluminium foil with cooking spray.
Mix barbecue sauce, honey and cumin in small bowl. Place 1 pork chop, 3 pieces corn, 1/4 cup carrots and 1/2 cup potato wedges on centre of each sprayed foil sheet; sprinkle with 1/4 teaspoon salt. Spoon 3 tablespoons sauce mixture over pork and vegetables on each sheet.
Fold foil over pork and vegetables so edges meet. Seal edges, making tight 1/2-inch fold; fold again. Allow space on sides for circulation and expansion.
Grill packets 4 to 6 inches from medium heat 15 to 20 minutes, turning once, until pork is slightly pink in centre. Place packets on plates. Cut large X across top of each packet; fold back foil.
A song or songs that take you back to an amazing summer.
Mine are all movie soundtracks, so I’ll go with the Star Wars soundtrack. Any summer with Star Wars is a good summer.
How do you beat the heat in the summer?
I’m usually indoors with my fan blowing and a nice cold drink of flavoured water.
Do you prefer swimming in the ocean or a pool?
I live within walking distance of a wonderful lake with a great beach, so I’ll say the lake first, then the ocean. I only like the pool for doing Aquafit. I’m not far from the ocean so prefer to do my walking there, on the beach with the water lapping at my toes.
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What is your preferred summer vacation? Travel with family? Solo? Or Friends?
If I was travelling, it would be with Hubby only. We’ve done a couple of cruises and would like to do an Alaskan cruise next. I would love to do a World cruise if money were no object!

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So, flip-flops or bare feet? 
Neither! I can’t wear flip-flops and my feet are too sensitive to go barefoot so sandals it is!
Sundresses or Shorts? 
I’m totally a sundress girl! I wear dresses all year long, even in winter. I prefer them over pants any time of the year.
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Fun Summertime Activity? 
As per the above photo, I love to go visit the goats at the Beacon Hill Children’s Farm in Victoria. There are always baby goats there and as you can see, all the goats love to rub their heads on my bright pink crutches and scratch where their horns used to be!!

Stream Of Consciousness Saturday – Notice

The Stream of Consciousness word for this past Saturday is Notice.
I have noticed an influx of hummingbirds in our area lately, so I recently put a hummingbird feeder in our backyard. We live in a complex of 12 townhouse units, all single level, and ours backs on to a small greenbelt. Almost all of the neighbours have feeders as the trees here are filled with hummers – I’ve seen upwards of 20 of them flitting around at any given time.
After putting up my feeder, I also noticed we had a huge problem with wasps. The first feeder type I had, the wasps were able to get into the nectar, so I swapped it out for a better design. On this one, the wasps can’t get to the delicious goodies within, but they still try, and it was keeping the hummingbirds away, so I purchased a wasp trap and hung that nearby, filling it with a combination of sugar water and two drops of detergent. It was quickly found and became very attractive to the wasps, and the hummers were able to enjoy their own feeder again without any problems.
Unfortunately, there were so many wasps we realized there must be a nest nearby. My hubby took a look around and sure enough, we found a nest in the outside dryer vent. He did give it a good spray with wasp killer, as much as I hate we had to do that but there were just too many of them to leave it alone. Our neighbours next door, Gail and David have a nest somewhere too, and so we are considering calling in Pest Control. Gail hates to kill anything and said that she had a wasp trap once, but it took too long for the wasps to die and she felt she was torturing them, so she took it down. Mine was also getting a lot of ants, but once I oiled the string on it, they stopped climbing down.
So, I’ve just cleaned out the old wasp trap and there were probably 20 dead ones in there plus a couple of live ones. I dumped them down the kitchen sink and used hot water on the live ones to flush them out and down the drain as well. I’ve never been stung before, but they don’t scare me. I cleaned out the trap, re-baited it and hung it back outside and from where I am sitting, I can see it’s already caught two more. The hummers probably won’t be back until later this evening when it cools off again, but they’ll be happy to know they won’t be bothered. I’m hoping I’ll get multiples at the feeder – it’s designed to hold 4 birds at a time. I promised my dear friend Charlotte I would send her a picture of the birds feeding but so far it’s only been one bird at a time, and they choose the back of the feeder where I can’t see them to take a picture. Typical!!
I love watching how delicate the birds are, but how aggressive they become when they feed…their lunging beaks almost attacking the yellow bulb of the feeder as they hover in mid air, sipping and thrusting and sipping and thrusting. I have a “birds eye” view of the action and they are such a marvel to watch, with their jewel colour bodies flashing in the sun. Here in our area (Victoria, BC) we mostly get Rufous and Anna’s Hummingbirds,

Yet as delicate as they may appear, they are a hardy species, with the Rufous variety here during the spring and summer, and then spending their winters on the U.S. Gulf coast and Mexico. Although an unusual sight fifteen years ago, Anna’s are now winter regulars at many Victoria feeders. Anna’s are with us year round and we notice their presence at feeders is more obvious because their numbers are increasing locally. Both types are entertaining, and I get such joy watching them.
I strongly advise anyone to research the type of birds you get in your area, and then to put up a bird feeder, especially if you get hummingbirds. Making the nectar is as easy as making sugar water for them, and they are so fun and a real joy to watch.
There is always hope.
 

A Recipe For Success

Every now and then, I need to indulge my pain days with something designed to make me feel better and sometimes, that’s food. I want to share a recipe with you today that gets great reviews whenever I make it. I baked an extra one of these Cherry Cakes and gave it to a dear friend, who shared it with her co-workers and they all raved about it!!
I hope you enjoy it as much as I do!!
Cherry Vanilla Cake
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Ingredients:

  • 6 tablespoons (85 grams) unsalted butter, at room temperature, plus extra for pie plate
  • 1 1/2 cups (188 grams) all-purpose flour 
  • 1 1/2 teaspoons baking powder
  • 1/2 teaspoon table salt
  • 1 cup (200 grams) plus 2 tablespoons (25 grams) granulated sugar
  • 1 large egg
  • 1/2 cup (118 ml) milk
  • 1 teaspoon (5 ml) vanilla extract
  • 1 pound (450 grams) cherries, pitted and halved

Process:

Preheat oven to 350°F (180°C).

Butter a 10-inch pie pan or 9-inch deep-dish pie pan (what I used). 

Whisk flour, baking powder and salt together in a small bowl. In a larger bowl, beat butter and 1 cup sugar until pale and fluffy with an electric mixer, about 3 minutes. Mix in egg, milk and vanilla until just combined. Add dry mixture gradually, mixing until just smooth. Pour into prepared pie plate. Arrange cherries, cut side down, on top of batter, as closely as possible in a single layer (though I had to overlap a few to get them all in). Sprinkle remaining 2 tablespoons sugar over cherries.

Bake cake for 10 minutes then reduce oven temperature to 325°F and bake cake until golden brown and a tester come out free of wet batter, about 50 minutes to 60 minutes. (Gooey cherries on the tester are a given.) Let cool in pan on a rack. Cut into wedges. Serve with fresh whipped cream or ice cream.

Cake can be stored at room temperature for up to 2 days, loosely covered, but good luck with that. This cake also freezes well. Store in an airtight container and bring to room temperature before eating. 

Note: I like to heat my slice of cake before adding whipped cream or ice cream. Fifteen to twenty seconds in the microwave is usually sufficient. Enjoy!!
There is always hope!

Courage

courageis not justthe roarof the lion
courage is not just the roar of a lion
but sometimes a kitten who’s found his meow
courage is often the strength of a person with pain who has learned
that forever starts now
courage is knowing that waking means facing a day
where it hurts just to breathe in the air
and everything aches from the tip of your toes
to your legs and your arms and the ends of your hair
but still you get up (or not, it’s okay if you have to
stay in the bed, no one will mind) because courage is knowing that
that’s what you do and you face the day head on, and see what you find
you take nothing for granted and are silently grateful for every
blessing that passes your way
because courage is not just the roar of a lion
but the strength of a pain warrior who faces each day
 
there is always hope

Wistful Thinking

I’m taking part in another Blog challenge. This one is a #BlogBattle and involves the use of the word Moon:
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The moon makes me wistful, it’s so far away yet it’s filled with the dreams and the hopes of the men
and the women who knew that one day, they would walk on it’s surface, they just didn’t know when
And all those years ago now from when it first happened, we haven’t been back and I worry about why
Does the moon feel left out? Does it ever feel lonely? I wonder if Moons even know how to cry?
It probably thought we were first of the many who would come to pay homage and visit and stay
But after the hoopla and the sciencing was over, we all said goodbye and we rocketed away
Now the Moon overlooks us, and I overlook it and I’m wistfully thinking I’d like to go there
What a joy it would be just to soar in the sky and perhaps see my home as I fly through the air
Imagine my new home where my body could be free of the earthly restrictions I currently feel
My pain would be less as I soar spaceless and free, now that sounds to me like one heck of a deal!
Alas, I don’t think that dream is likely to come true, but I can sure be inspired when I look at the Moon
And one never knows as our science evolves, perhaps someday I might get there, sooner than soon.  🙂
there is always hope
~ Pamela ~

Sleepless In (Enter City Here)

I’m awake. Again.
I went to bed around 9:50pm feeling pleasantly tired. I was yawning after a long day and having been up since 4:30 am. I followed my nightly routine, got into bed, got comfy and drifted off to sleep.
When I woke up to pee, it was no big deal…I’m not a great sleeper and I figured this was my usual “90 minutes later” wake up call.
I’d slept for 72 minutes. I think that’s a record for shortest time at night. And the worst part was I was wide awake. Like…wide awake. There was no chance I was going back to sleep.
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I hate having insomnia. I don’t know if it’s Fibromyalgia induced, or if it’s because of my sleep apnea or if it’s because of the medications I take, but I haven’t slept for more than 2-3 hours a night in over 5 years now. And once I wake up at 4am-ish, that’s it, I’m up for the day. I get the house ready for the day before my hubby gets up for work – the blinds open, the kettle ready, last nights dishes put away, the cat fed…those sorts of things. I make a coffee, come sit in my recliner and then hubby is up and I’m out of his way while he starts his morning routine. It works for us, and nobody gets hurt! Once he leaves for work, I have my breakfast and then I look at the long day ahead of me and figure out what I’m going to do to fill it.
Do I go back to bed after that? No, because as tired as I am, the best I’ll do is sleep for an hour and what’s the point? If I’m going to nap, I’d rather try to save it for later in the day, when there’s a chance I might sleep longer. That’s my hope anyways, Besides, if I sleep in the morning, I might miss the hummingbirds who come to the feeder on my back deck
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Sleep, or the lack of it, is a major side effect of having Fibromyalgia. Statistics show that people who have Fibro never make it into the deep REM sleep the way they need to so they miss the restorative sleep phase so necessary to feel rested:
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It’s no wonder I can never feel rested! I never get to the restorative stage! I also know I have sleep apnea. I have a CPAP machine and I have tried so many times to use it but I just can’t get used to the mask. I’ve tried a few different ones too, including over the face, and the current choice of the nasal style, but the longest I’ve lasted with wearing them is 4 hours before I wake up ripping them off of me. The worst part is that I am a side sleeper and trying to keep the damn things in place while on your side is next to impossible. Okay, maybe I’m just complaining because I don’t want to use the machine…how incredibly unsexy is that thing! but Hubby should be using one too and he refuses so part of the problem is also resentment.
So, after waking up after my glorious 72 minutes of sleep, and in the interest of good sleep habits I got up. At least I know better than to lay in bed, just hoping I’ll fall back asleep again. Here are some of those good sleep habits I’ve learned about over time:

  • Keep a consistent sleep schedule. Get up at the same time every day, even on weekends or during vacations (hello 4am!)
  • Set a bedtime that is early enough for you to get at least 7 hours of sleep (does 5pm count?).
  • Don’t go to bed unless you are sleepy (I could be there 24 hours a day)
  • If you don’t fall asleep after 20 minutes, get out of bed (but I’m sleeping!)
  • Establish a relaxing bedtime routine (I do this part well)
  • Use your bed only for sleep and sex (well, the sex part at least works)
  • Make your bedroom quiet and relaxing. Keep the room at a comfortable, cool temperature (no problem here)
  • Limit exposure to bright light in the evenings (no problem here either)
  • Turn off electronic devices at least 30 minutes before bedtime. (oops, big problem here!!!)
  • Don’t eat a large meal before bedtime. If you are hungry at night, eat a light, healthy snack. (I’m okay with this one)
  • Exercise regularly and maintain a healthy diet. (I do okay with this too)
  • Avoid consuming caffeine in the late afternoon or evening. (I sometimes mess up with chocolate)
  • Avoid consuming alcohol before bedtime. (I don’t drink)
  • Reduce your fluid intake before bedtime. (usually not a problem)

One thing I have been trying lately is listening to sleep meditation music. There are some really relaxing ones out there that work on the Delta Waves of the brain and you can also find good Apps for your phone. I have an iPhone and one app in particular that is receiving great reviews is CALM by Apple. The other is Spotify which has wonderful playlists of calming music already set up or you can create your own from the many tracks available. I love listening to sounds…the rain falling, trains in the distance, things like that, so I love that option with Spotify. YouTube also has many videos of sleep meditations and if you use a YouTube to MP3 converter, you can also download these to listen to on your phone, whether it’s an iPhone or Android.
Hopefully some of these suggestions will be helpful. I don’t want to be sleepless in any city, anymore. I have slept, it’s happened a few times…I’d just like it to be more:

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Collapsed in exhaustion. Notice my glasses are still on.


There is always hope!
 

The Opioid Crisis vs. Us

There is an Opioid Crisis in North America and it’s affecting two factions of people – the ones who take and use opioids illegally and the ones who use and take opioids legally as prescribed by their doctors. I want to focus on the second group because we’re not being given our due in the news. First though, let’s look at some numbers.
*Every day, more than 115 people in the United States die after overdosing on opioids.1 The misuse of an addiction to opioids—including prescription pain relieversheroin, and synthetic opioids such as fentanyl—is a serious national crisis that affects public health as well as social and economic welfare. The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention estimates that the total “economic burden” of prescription opioid misuse alone in the United States is $78.5 billion a year, including the costs of healthcare, lost productivity, addiction treatment, and criminal justice involvement.2
**Canada isn’t far behind. “This is a major public health crisis in Canada,” says Dr. Theresa Tam, Canada’s chief public health officer. “Tragically, in 2016, there were more than 2,800 apparent opioid-related deaths in Canada, which is greater than the number of Canadians who died at the height of the HIV epidemic in 1995.”
New data from the Public Health Agency of Canada (PHAC) shows that from January to March 2017, there were at least 602 apparent opioid-related deaths across the country; it is expected that this count will rise as additional data becomes available.
Pressure is being put on physicians in both countries to stop prescribing opioid medications or to cut down on the number of prescriptions they write, and many are complying. So where does that leave us, the People with Chronic Pain (PwCP) who depend on opioid medication to manage their pain in order to have any semblance of quality of life?
Pain
Physicians and Pain Doctors are now more likely to offer Pain Management Programs and techniques in place of opioids. These programs use a combination of non-opioid medications such as over-the-counter or prescription ibuprofen (Motrin), acetaminophen (Tylenol), aspirin (Bayer) and steroids, plus various therapies, including:

  • Physical therapy – A physical therapist or physician who specializes in physical medicine and rehabilitation may be able to create an exercise program that helps you improve your ability to function and decreases your pain. Whirlpools, ultrasound and deep-muscle massages may also help.
  • Acupuncture – You may find relief from acupuncture, in which very thin needles are inserted at different places in your skin to interrupt pain signals.
  • Massage Therapy – can help to relax the muscles that may be causing you pain
  • Injections or nerve blocks – If you are having a muscle spasm or nerve pain, injections with local anaesthetics or other medications can help short-circuit your pain.
  • Biofeedback – where you learn to control involuntary functions such as your heart rate.
  • Surgery – When other treatments aren’t effective, surgery can be performed to correct abnormalities in your body that may be responsible for your pain.
  • Cognitive Behaviour Therapy (CBT) – can change the thoughts, emotions, and behaviours related to pain, improve coping strategies, and put the discomfort in a better context

Are these programs helpful? Do they work? Do they relieve pain?  Well, from my own personal experience, the answer is no, they don’t take your pain away. They do give you the tools to manage your pain more effectively as long as you employ the tools on a daily basis, but when your entire body is wracked with a deep aching, burning sensation that NEVER GOES AWAY, it’s almost impossible to manage that. When my legs feel like bricks and my arms are burning like fire and I can’t move my shoulder to brush my hair and my knee is collapsing when I walk and my spine feels like it’s going to collapse any second from now from the intensity of the stabbing I feel…it’s hard to be motivated that today is going to be a good day.
Now, I have to be honest and admit that I am still taking opioid medication. I have been, for the last 10 years. I have weaned down my dosage, but I still take it. Right now, I take a Slow Release dosage of OxyNeo (Oxycodone) in a dosage of 30mg, 3 times a day. Each dose is to last me 8 hours. Does it work? Somewhat…it keeps my pain at a 4-5 on the pain scale which I can manage with other techniques. If I didn’t have the medication, I would be at a steady 8 on the scale, all the time. Now, what would happen if my Doctor decided to stop my drugs? I would be hard pressed to manage without them, especially after so many years of taking them. Am I an addict? No, I’m not and here’s why. When you have legitimate pain, it’s impossible to become addicted to a pain medication. It’s when you take a medication that you don’t need that you become addicted to it.
I want to share a conversation I had in a chat with a couple of friends who’ve allowed me to share their thoughts and first names. Read what happened to Lindsay and our replies:

What Lindsay said: 
I just had a run in with a pharmacist yesterday. I suffer from interstitial cystitis, endometriosis, chronic ovarian cysts, degenerative disc disease, fibromyalgia and arthritis. Since January I’ve had 9 kidney infections, one or two a month. I have an appointment with an infectious disease specialist at the end of this month, and I have my normal team of Drs and specialists that I already see along with my pain management dr. Well every time I have a kidney infection it causes my IC to flare and my pain because so out of control that I end up in the ER, so my PM gives me extra pain meds to help me get through the infection. Well my normal pharmacy had a pharmacist who’s been snippy with me before and when I handed her the extra script, she blew up on me. She said pain meds don’t help with my kind of pain, it’s only a bandage treatment, I shouldn’t be allowed to take pain meds this long, my regular pain meds should be enough, I’ll OD, my dr is an idiot, I’m not really in that much pain and she wrote a bunch of notes on my account barring me from ever getting extra meds again, including for surgeries etc. I started crying, she used an aggressive tone and lectured me in front of a line of other patients and threatened not to fill my prescription, then did after slamming her hands down and furiously writing on my prescription paper then on my account about how I’m not allowed to do this anymore. I was so so embarrassed and now I’m terrified to have anymore prescriptions or anymore acute pain issues. I hate that this is my life now. I didn’t ask for this!
What I said: 
It’s been said to me by my Doctor that it’s impossible to become an addict to opioids when you actually, truly need them. I don’t get high, and I function completely normally. I could be tested by the police and while the drug would show in my system, I wouldn’t show as impaired. It’s the people who abuse the drug and who take it in a manner it’s not meant to be taken in that ruin it for the rest of us. I would have reported your pharmacist to her association. That was uncalled for and completely unprofessional. She can NOT refuse you unless she refuses to serve you completely. Can you transfer to a different pharmacy for the future? Honestly, if she had done that to me, I would have raked her over the coals….no one, and I mean NO ONE talks to me like that. EVER. I live in Canada and we are facing our own Opioid Crisis here as well. The College of Physicians and Surgeons is cracking down on Doctors who over prescribe or who prescribe too high of a dosage of narcotics to patients. I have been on Oxycodone for almost 10 years now, going from a dose of Slow Release OxyNeo 90mg 3 times a day to 30mgs 3 times a day. plus other meds I take for Fibro, Osteoarthritis, D.I.S.H., Trigeminal Neuralgia, Bipolar Disorder, Diabetes Type 2 and Hypothyroidism, amongst other issues. Three of my drugs clash and shouldn’t be taken together, but I have no choice. I hope you’re able to find a pharmacy that treats you with respect and dignity just like you deserve. Before you give them your business, shop around and ask them what their policy is for opioid customers. Tell them of the experience you had and ask them how they treat that type of situation. Good luck to you and I wish you better, pain-free days ahead. oxoxo
what Angela said: 
I fight this as well and also have issues with my body metabolizing my meds too quickly. The dosages i am on would probably put someone into an overdose but unless you know what i am on, you’d never know i was on anything. Trying to advocate for myself constantly is a huge struggle and mentally draining. The thing is, i am also a nurse and still trying to remain independent through the 9 surgeries ive had in the last 5 years alone. Not only is it a struggle to advocate for myself but i also advocate for my patients the best i can as well. I am constantly fearful that i am going to be cut off from my meds and end up in a pain crisis, in massive withdrawal and become completely unable to support myself. I am also a single mom, so losing my income is a big deal. I am so sick of taking heat because of people who abuse the system. Of every person i know who has chronic pain and take medication, none take them incorrectly, nor do they get high from them. Even if i do take more than usual, i just get sick so if my pain is out of control, i really have to weigh that consequence. I am now in dread because i have to see a new pain management PA next month and my surgeon is moving. Just this thought is really stressing me out.
These are the things we have to deal with as PwCP. It’s not just the doctors we fight with about our medications – it’s the pharmacists as well.
Yes, my friends, there IS a crisis regarding opioid medication and it’s affecting the people who need the drugs the most. The patients. The people with chronic pain. Us.
Me.
Thanks for reading.
There is always hope.
* https://www.drugabuse.gov/drugs-abuse/opioids/opioid-overdose-crisis
**https://www.cihi.ca/en/opioid-crisis-having-significant-impact-on-canadas-health-care-system

An Attitude of Gratitude

Are you grateful for your life?  Are you grateful for the things you’ve been given? Are you grateful for Chronic Pain and Chronic Fatigue? What about your other Invisible Illnesses? For Fibromyalgia? I am, and let me explain why.
I have had my Invisible Illnesses for over half my life now, and they have been a predominant part of my life since 2004 when I went into a major flare that I’ve never recovered from. That was the year I had stomach surgery for severe Gastric Reflux disease – a procedure called a Nissen Fundoplication. The surgery itself was successful, but I suffered nerve damage in the sternum area from where an instrument being used was pressed too hard against a nerve for an extended period of time, causing it to be pinched for over an hour. This caused me excruciating pain that didn’t resolve for almost a year and had me addicted to morphine pills to the point that I was hallucinating. In fact, at one point, the general surgeon called in a Thoracic surgeon, who was going to crack open my sternum to try and fix whatever the problem was – a drastic solution indeed.
I’m grateful this didn’t happen and the Thoracic surgeon had the sense to suggest a drug called Gabapentin for nerve damage which is what he suspected was the problem, and he was right.
I spent almost a year in a hunched over position, trying to “contain” the pain, it was so bad. I ended up having to go for physical therapy and massage in order to loosen up my muscles to where I could stand in a straightened up position again.
I’m grateful for the therapists that helped me.
I’m grateful there are medical teams in place when we need emergency surgery, such as when a cyst I didn’t even know I had on my ovary burst, causing me horrid pain. It needed immediate removal and there was a team to do that. Just like there was a team to remove my gallbladder and my other ovary when it went rogue as well.
And I’m grateful for my three doctors who have worked with me and my overall health issues over the last five years, Dr Leong, Dr Winston and Dr Burnett, my orthopedic surgeon who did my hip replacement.
Okay, you say…it’s easy to be grateful to the people who help us, but how can you be grateful for having Chronic Pain and Fibromyalgia and all the other stuff. Well, I’ll tell you.
When you have Invisible Illness, you tend to miss out on a lot of life. You may have to give up your job or volunteer activities, your hobbies and family life. You end up losing a lot more than you seem to have left. But what having a Chronic illness does is force you to dig deep to FIND what you’re grateful for. I made a list:

  • Sunrises and sunsets
  • Quiet mornings after a good sleep
  • A perfect cup of coffee
  • A day where the kids get along and no one is fighting
  • A day where the cat or dog doesn’t barf all over the place
  • Feeling energetic enough to accomplish a few things on the “to do” list
  • Feeling rested
  • Feeling less pain than normal
  • Being able to go for a coffee date with a girlfriend or two
  • Having dinner with your family together instead of needing to lay down
  • Date night with your spouse
  • Watching a movie together instead of early to bed
  • Having a bath or shower
  • Having enough food on the table and money in the bank
  • Laughter
  • A sense of safety and security
  • A roof over your head
  • Feeling loved
  • Having a close friend you can confide in
  • Books to read and art to admire
  • Social media like Facebook and Pinterest
  • Ice cream or a favourite treat
  • Family and friends to share memories with
  • Vacations

I could go on and on…the point is, there is so much to be grateful for, but when you live with Chronic Pain and Chronic Fatigue and Invisible Illness, it’s easy to get stuck wallowing in the negatives, to the point you forget to stop and remember to be grateful. Take a moment now to list a few things that you’re grateful for and make it a habit each day to say thank you. An Attitude of Gratitude is easy to cultivate, but like a good garden, you need to tend to it every day.
Remember…
there is always hope!

That Which Brings Me Joy

Joy is an interesting concept. It can happen because of tiny little things or we experience it because of huge and delightful things. I’ve been tackling a lot of serious subjects lately, so today, I thought I’d talk about joy, and how being happy and thankful can be possible when you live with Chronic Pain and Invisible Illness.

I have a hummingbird feeder that I recently added to my backyard. Apparently, I also have a wasp nest nearby. Right after adding the hummingbird feeder, a swarm of wasps took it over, preventing these tiny birds from having a chance to use their new feeding station. I was mad. This was NOT why I had put the feeder out, so I started brainstorming ideas about how I was going to correct the situation. I went online and one of the ideas was to put out a food source for the wasps and then to move it away from the feeder a little bit each day until it was far enough that the birds would feel safe to eat again. That was all well and good, but it didn’t get rid of the wasps, it just relocated them further down my patio. I wasn’t sure where the nest was, and I wanted the wee pesties to go away completely.

Still, I put out a dish with a super concentrated nectar for them and sure enough, they started leaving the hummingbird feeder alone and going to their own dish. Some of them drowned but what mostly happened is that a bigger swarm of wasps showed up, now that they had a food source. Even more frustrated, I bought a wasp trap and hung it near the bird feeder, hoping to confuse the little buggers and trick them into dying. Oh yes…I can be very mean when I need to be! And yes, this too worked…but obviously the nest was nearby because even more wasps showed up!! So, where is the joy in all this? Well, I watched as the wasp trap did its job…many of the new swarm were attracted to the extra sweet nectar and flew into the trap, but then found themselves unable to get out again. I watched in joy as they struggled to figure out what to do, eventually getting tired and dropping to the bottom where they drowned in the treasure that had called to them in the first place. And my hummingbirds were able to enjoy the feeder that was meant for them in peace.

Not only that but Ray was able to find the nest and give it a good spray with wasp killer, so hopefully, we’ve eradicated them and won’t have to deal with their swarming any longer. Another cause for Joy.

The hummingbirds make me happy. Their energy and the buzz their wings make when they’re at the feeder brings a smile to my face every time. The colours they wear on their jewel-toned bodies flash in the sun, and each one brings a bright start to my day. In the same way, a good cup of coffee and a cuddle with my cat Dorie starts the morning off right, even if I haven’t had much sleep at all.

I think that often, people with Chronic Pain forget that it’s okay to feel joy. We’ve been so used to feeling the negative emotions that come with being in pain all the time that we forget there are positives in our lives as well. When you hurt, your focus is on the hurting. There is often desperation around pain because it’s never-ending. We can have a tendency to catastrophize it with phrases like “I’ll never get better” or “this is the worse pain I’ve ever had” yet when good things happen, we don’t do the same thing: “this is the happiest I’ve ever been” or “I’ve never been so happy”. It’s almost like we’re afraid to accept the joy in our lives for fear it’s going to go away and we’ll never experience it again. The thing is, we make our own joy, or we find our own joy…nobody does it for us. So, if you want joy…you have to look for it. Think about it for a minute…what are some things that might bring joy into your life? Here’s a list of 20 items that might get you started:

  1. Watch a sunrise or sunset
  2. Send someone you love snail mail
  3. Volunteer
  4. Get crafty
  5. Bake something
  6. Keep a journal
  7. Take a walk
  8. Do a good deed
  9. Read a novel
  10. Go to the museum
  11. Sing
  12. Take a class
  13. Enjoy a power nap
  14. Log off Facebook
  15. Practice positive affirmations
  16. Mentor someone
  17. Plant a garden
  18. Have a warm bath
  19. Go to an art gallery
  20. Give more compliments

Most of these ideas cost nothing but reap huge benefits in the joy department, and you deserve them! Not only that, but the more joy you bring into your life the more you fire up the endorphins that release the body’s natural painkillers, so you’re physically doing good to your body as well as mentally doing good to your body. That’s a 2 for 1 special you won’t find in any store!!
You are worth every joy possible. With everything your body goes through on a daily basis, it’s natural to feel beat up and unworthy of happiness. Those are your brain weasels talking. Brain weasels are the voices of depression that come with chronic pain and those weasels lie to you all the time.
brainweasels.jpg

They don’t want you to be happy so they’ll tell you all sorts of lies to try and convince you that you don’t deserve joy in your life, but THEY ARE WRONG. You have every right to be as happy and joyful as the next person. So take a chance on happiness EVERY chance you get and see if it doesn’t start your day off on a better note. And tell those brain weasels they can go the same way as the wasps!

There is always hope!