Shake it Off

Living with a chronic illness is a challenge beyond words when encountering people who don’t understand. We have all had an experience of rudeness beyond belief. There are stairs when taking medication in public. Rude remarks when using a walking device. 

 I cannot tell you how many times people have been disrespectful or stared at me because I use a wheelchair in a store. The majority of the time people either stand in front of me, unwilling to move or practically run away. People act like I have the plague. I have heard over the few years I have used a wheelchair in a store that I am too young to use one or too pretty. The stairs and remarks make me feel like I owe people an explanation. However, I do not need to explain my life to everyone I encounter. If the right doors are open to education someone I don’t mind but there shouldn’t be a social pressure to explain it all. 

 Many people doubt the intensity of our pain and they question if we are indeed really sick. No one seems to understand battling against your body and taking care of yourself is a full-time job. Simple tasks are draining. Some people go out of their way to upset us or to be rude. They offer unnecessary options on how to break free of the chronic illness chains.

 

Too often Spoonies lose friends due to their illness. Some people want absolutely nothing to do with us while others act strangely towards us. 

Too often people judge us before they get to know us. People treat us at times like we are nothing or are stupid. 

Too often we hear phrases like: 

But you don’t look sick

You need to be more positive

Have you tried…

You’re too young to be sick

It must be nice not having to go to work/school

You’re just having a bad day

You need to get more exercise

It’s all in your head

Maybe if you got out more

These things get under a spoonies skin, to say the least. When people mistreat you, SHAKE IT OFF. It is not your fault. Don’t let them get to you. You are an amazing person. Even though you are ill, you are so valuable. You have so much to offer this world. Shake off the stares, Shake off the negative and nasty remarks, Shake off the heartbreak…. Shake it off.. It’s gonna be alright

Hold your head up high, cause it’s gonna be alright. You have so much courage. You are an inspiration for thriving despite every setback. Sending lots of spoons, prayers, and hugs. ❤

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Undercover Zebra

I am so excited to have an amazing EDS warrior guest post today, Hana. Please share to help us raise awareness for this rare disease.
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Ever hear of Undercover Boss? Well, this is Undercover Zebra: Where chronic illness warriors go undercover as healthy individuals to chase their dreams in the real world. On this episode, we have Hana Belanger, an 18-year-old girl with the main diagnosis of  Ehlers-Danlos Syndrome Hypermobility Type (hEDS) who dreams of being a cinematographer in the music industry. As an adolescent, she must figure out her own identity, chase her dreams, and not let a rare disease define her. If you think this to be a challenging feat, then you are right. She is…an undercover zebra.
I start every morning the same way, not wanting to get out of bed. Whether it be my 5:45 school alarm to Bowling For Soup’s “High School Never Ends” or sleeping in past noon on the weekends, the act of waking up is just another arduous chore no likes to endure. So far, just like any other teenager in the world, or really, any non-morning person in society.
Once I finally persuade myself it is worth getting up, I “oil” my joints with either Icy Hot or Arctic Ice analgesic gel. Whichever I just happen to have on my bedside table at the moment. Hypermobility is a symptom of EDS, however, in the morning I find that my joints much rather be stiff with pain, like the Tin Man from The Wizard of Oz. I also tend to take this time to pop back in any joints that may have popped out of place while sleeping the night before. Got to love all those constant dislocations and subluxations. More symptoms due to the faulty collagen my body produces. Mornings with a connective tissue are never boring.
Next step is getting dressed. My favorite comfortable get up has to be pajamas, especially my zebra print ones. Sadly, school dress code does not allow for pj’s. Next best outfit of choice? a baggy band t-shirt and a pair of leggings. Don’t forget to accessorize with wristbands, a mood stone choker, and a plethora of braces and KT tape to keep all those joints in place. Pretty sure my joints like to go out more than I do. I always am found wearing my knee braces, but my collection expands to wrist braces, ankle braces, a back brace, and even a neck brace. I also have a cane I decorated in zebra print duct tape because when you need some extra support you have to make sure its cripple swag awesome.
My morning concludes with the breakfast of champions: AKA medication and vitamins. Then, on school days, I rush off to spend 6 long hours so I may be educated enough to graduate. After 12 years of this grueling routine, it does become tedious. I also have a work study internship with my local cable access station, a slam poet, and freelance videographer. The last three are the most fun I believe and give me a huge platform to be myself. When I am on stage or behind a camera I do not feel like the sick kid. I feel like a poet. I feel like a professional videographer. I feel…human.
Many days it is hard to hide the pain I am going through. EDS likes to throw curve balls more than Alton Brown on his show “Cutthroat Kitchen.” Often I wake up with migraines and nausea, which takes hours and even sometimes all day, despite medication. I have injured myself in school walking to lunch and working a one-hour film shoot. It’s as if EDS does not want me to live my dream.
But I will not cave into this awful disorder. That wouldn’t be very punk rock of me to give in. I know my limits and I go as close to the line without crossing over. I make sacrifices when it is safe to do so to enjoy myself. I have been to music festivals and concerts, filmed all day events, went to my Junior Prom, etc. EDS does not have to rule how I live. I just have to adapt to my circumstances in order to survive.
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Bazzar Symptoms

I deal with plenty of bazaar symptoms regularly. I have decided to begin blogging about them occasionally. I don’t know the origin of the majority of them. I don’t have much advice either. So why share? you might ask. My hope is that someone else who encounters anything similar will feel less alone.

My ears are small inside. I encounter a lack of hearing at times. Other times hearing loss in one or both ears. This evening it is both ears. There is a decent amount of pressure at times. I am twenty-three and frequently need to ask others to speak up.

I remember the first time it happened. I was in high school. I freaked out completely, thinking I was going deaf or something had happened to my ear drum. At the time, I was seeing an ENT. When the doctor looked there was nothing noteworthy. Other than my ears are tiny like I said. Therefore, wax will slip in front of the ear drum.

Sometimes pulling on the ear or pushing on it helps. Other times it is a waiting game for hearing to return. No other theories have been brought up with this issue. It is not a major issue at this point in time. However, it is frustrating and distracting. At the same time, it makes me thankful for my hearing.

 

 

 

Bittersweet Birthday

I had overheard people saying that old age caused pain. So, by the time I had chronic pain, about nine years old I thought it was I just a part of the aging process. At the same time, I wondered how everyone else was coping so well with the pain and mine was taking over. I felt extremely guilty for missing an excessive amount of school. It took some time for me to understand that children should not be in intense pain or pain all the time. Those people were indeed referring to elderly people. Who knew?

From a fairly young age, I associated growing up with having more pain. I am thankful to be alive. Especially in light of a handful of times, it was questionable if I would make it. Even so, my birthday is a little difficult emotionally.

It’s not just the physical pain. I tend to feel more isolated around my birthday. This is the time I notice that indeed I am not a typical young adult. The time I need to grieve the things I can no longer do. Time to grieve all I am missing out on.

The social clock is ticking obnoxiously. I can just hear people saying, “She is nearly twenty-three years old. She should be out on her own, not living at home.” It is difficult for me to view my accomplishments. My brain finds it natural to highlight the struggles during certain seasons. Society, as we know, has too many unneeded options. I have learned to allow comments to roll off my back, but sometimes it has a way of getting under my skin.

Furthermore, I have found that the older I have become, my memory has faded. The brain fog is thick. I was devastated when this began to happen. Heartbroken as the memories of my furry friend slipped out of my grip.

It is okay to struggle with holidays or your birthday as someone with a chronic illness. It is okay to have fears. It is okay to not be okay. As long as you do not give up. Even when you don’t feel like it, hold onto hope. Crawl forward, even if you are slower than a snail, you are still making progress.

Even though it is emotional, there is a part of me that looks forward to my birthday. I am deeply blessed to have people in my life who support me and love me. I am thankful for days of simple joy and laughter. The Lord has allowed me to thrive in the midst of great adversity.

“For You shaped me, inside and outYou knitted me together in my mother’s womb long before I took my first breath. I will offer You my grateful heart, for I am Your unique creation, filled with wonder and awe.You have approached even the smallest details with excellence; Your works are wonderful, I carry this knowledge deep within my soul. You see all things; nothing about me was hidden from You. As I took shape in secret, carefully crafted in the heart of the earth before I was born from its womb.You see all things; You saw me growing, changing in my mother’s womb; Every detail of my life was already written in Your book;
You established the length of my life before I ever tasted the sweetness of it. Your thoughts and plans are treasures to me, O God! I cherish each and every one of them! How grand in scope! How many in number!” Psalm 139:13-17 The Voice Translation 

What I’m Reading Wednesday

At any given moment, I am reading an abundance of books. Typically, I have two books for online Bible Study, a book for personal Bible study and/or Christian living book, one fiction book, and two textbooks. In addition, I read an Old Testament and New Testament book of the Bible. I have been eager to write this post for you.

Currently, for the first term of my semester, I am reading Caring for People God’s Way. Additionally, I am reading Theories of Personality.

The past several weeks, I have been reading the Armor of God by  Priscilla Shirer in my one online Bible Study. Then, in a few short days, I will begin assisting with my other online Bible Study using the book Discovering Hope: Beginning the Journey Towards Hope in Chronic Illness by Cindee Snider Re.

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Recently, I finished reading Slightly Bad Girls of the Bible: Flawed Women Loved by a Flawless God. I was amazed at how well Liz taught with humor, clips of fiction writing, personal stories, and emphasis on the Bible in a unique way. I am a zealous fan of Wendy Blight’s writing and her teaching. Liz used a similar format in her book, which captivated my attention.I would recommend this book to any women. This book examines the lives of Sari, Haggar, Rebekah, Leah, and Rachel. Be prepared to see these women as well as their stories in a new light.

Product Description From CBD.com is as follows, “Slightly Bad Girls of the Bible is the latest of Liz Curtis Higgs’ “girlfriend theology” Bible study. Combining contemporary fiction with a verse-by-verse commentary, she explores the “slightly bad” lives of a few Old Testament women. Far from evil, yet slightly bad, these women from the book of Genesis stubbed their toes along the rocky path of righteousness. Sound familiar? These ancient sisters aren’t a whole lot different from us. Laced with humor and built on solid research, this book will bring you to the realization that God loves you just the way you are. Flaws and all!”

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Fiction Book. The biggest downside to this book is in the fact that it is the final book in the Bailey Flanigan Series. This is a sweet ending to the series. I simply adore how Karen Kingsbury includes the characters struggles as well as their time with God. Even though it is fiction she has a way of not only pulling the reader into the story but also challenging and strengthening their faith as well. You feel as though you have become friends with the characters. Beautiful tear-jerking wedding was included. Without a doubt, her books are life changing fiction.

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This is my personal Bible Study book. I began it a few short days ago so I don’t have much yet to say about it. Book description from CBD.com, “The book of Philippians calls you to see beyond your present circumstances and discover the authentic joy awaiting you in Christ. Get ready to explore this uplifting book through the tried-and-tested inductive study method – with an added writing step to help you treasure each word!”

 

2016 Major Moments

Another Christmas races through our lives. The season always slips by in a blink of an eye. Shortly after another year kisses us goodbye. This year is elegantly coming to a close and we are able to once more reflect on the moments which have shaped the year. Each year shapes our lives and our character. Each year we learn, grow, are filled with love and joy, and shed many tears.

This year began with a shaky start for me. A few short days after the new year, I was admitted to the hospital due to extreme pain levels. They admitted me to the surgery floor fearing my intestines collapsed or did something funky. I had two Gastros on my case who bickered back and forth accomplishing nothing. I meet another Gastro while admitted who became a permanent asset to my medical team. We tweaked my treatment plan.

My Ulcerative Colitis continued to flare. Sending me to the ER after over eight hours of vomiting. Steroid doses were up and down. At the same time, I began my first online Bible study. Featuring the book I Know His Name by Wendy Blight. I honestly, I little hope for learning anything from the study and went into it with some doubt due to bad experiences in the past. However, God deeply blessed me beyond my dreams. He used that study to change my life forever. Shortly after, I joined God-Living Girls a support group for women with chronic illness and chronic pain.

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Shortly after, I joined God-Living Girls a support group for women with chronic illness and chronic pain. I adore this support group. There are many thriving ministries online. I encourage women of all ages to check it out here God Living Girls.

 

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Sadie watching a sermon from our Online Chruch 

 

 

In April I was nominated for the Psychology honor society, better known as Psi Chi. Then in May I graduated with my Associate degree. Shortly after, I began leading Online Bible Study. In addition, assisting in online ministry.  I mainly assist in running two Bible Studies and do a Bible Study Live event about once a week.

I began pursuing my bachelor’s degree at Liberty University Online in August. I adore the online program here. To my surprise, I have thrived in the program beyond my dreams. I have access to tutoring, an advisor, and the library. Additionally, I began assisting with Sunday school at church. I teach the teens, however, if I don’t have kids, I assist with the little ones. They always have me laughing.

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My Gastro retired. So I began seeing another new Gastro. I am grateful this one is compassionate and well educated. We began paperwork for Remicade over the fall.

Then in October, I had another kidney infection along with stones. I also got to have a lovely weekend with my friend and visit Liberty. The trip to Liberty was one of the highlights of my year.

In November, I stopped 6 MP and began Remicade. A difficult transition. I have done two doses. It is an adjustment period.

December my friend and her family visited.(Another highlight!) While I was away with my friend I began thinking more about becoming more independent. I decided it was time to apply for a service dog.  I also got approval to move forward in the service dog process. I just began the process so I have a long way to go but it is progress and I am excited!

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