Spoonful of Spoonie Encouragment

Mornings for those with a chronic illness are a struggle beyond words. Waking up and willing our bodies to function is a fight. Here is a spoonful of encouragement for spoonie warriors. Happy Monday, brave friend!

You have victoriously made it out of bed this morning. The symptoms and pain are already overwhelming, but you’ve got this. You only need to take today one minute at a time. You have all the strength you need, even though it might not seem that way. Anxiety and depression attempt to dictate your day. Take a breath. Take a break.  Get some rest. Keep fighting to make today the best day possible.

You have been chosen to walk this path. It is one filled with heartbreak, disappointment, and setbacks. Walking the path of someone who is chronically ill is a challenge to say the very least. Being sick has most likely disrupted your flawless rhythm with life. It has stopped you dead in your tracks. Your illness has tried to toss your dreams out the window.

Though this path is difficult, I assure you there is a lot of beauty to be discovered. Sure life is not what it used to be, but the song you sing is just as beautiful. There is hope, joy, love, laughter, and life to be found on this path. You will be able to recreate your wonderful dreams. You are still you, despite your illness. You are an amazing and beautiful person with a flawless story and a huge purpose.

    There will be days that you become overwhelmed and feel completely alone. Your feelings are understandable, however, I promise you, you do not walk alone on this path. There are people who care about you, people who understand how difficult the journey is, and people who want to support you.

I am proud of all you have accomplished. I know you will thrive today. This week will be lovely simply because it is the only choice. While you don’t need to be positive all the time you need to take baby steps forward. You are doing amazing. Raise your coffee (or tea) to a great week warrior!

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Stomach Flares & Food Battles

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I have struggled with eating, due to my stomach for years. I found out I have an allergy to dairy at nine years old. Adjusting to that was a challenge because I loved dairy, but I adjusted fairly well. Growing up I was always on the thin side. Not under weight, just thin, until I hit high school. It is hard to remember if my stomach issues began again Freshman or Sophomore year. My health declined in high school, it is difficult to recall which symptom began when.

I was never a big eater but I ate enough. Then I began having difficulty eating. I would live in the bathroom from eating. I could not pin point one group of food though. It was food in general. In the beginning the stomach flare ups were every few months. Then the flare ups got closer and closer together and the pain became more sever. Before Prednisone, the flare ups began to scare me a bit. I was under weight. I could not believe my eyes when I saw my own picture… I looked like a skeleton. I am a tall girl, 5’8” to be exact. If I was shorter weighing 100 pounds wouldn’t be so bad. I knew that losing weight was dangerous at that point. I did everything in my power to maintain my weight. I tried eating every few hours and included high calorie things in my diet. It was a battle to maintain my weight.  When I began my relationship with Prednisone, I continued losing weight. Now on 60 mg I gained a couple of pounds, mainly moon face.

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In the beginning I thought I had IBS. As time flowed by, I knew it wasn’t IBS. My symptoms got drastically worst last year. Going to the bathroom 30 times a day and having bloody stool. The Gastro I saw order the wrong tests and offered no insight. I felt hopeless with my abdominal issues. The intense pain and stomach flares continued. I knew there was something wrong. I never fit nicely into diagnostic criteria. If I had a penny every time I heard, “You are complicated,” You are different,” Well I’ve never seen a case like this before,” or “I have no idea,” I would be rich or at least have enough money to buy all my college text books. Being unique medically is frustrating. No one wants to be one in a million medically,  but with some of my stuff I am. I had previously seen a Gastro who I loved, however going back was not an option. He wanted to help me but the office did not have the equipment or advanced testing ability.

I was frustrated and irritated with Gastros. I coped the best I could with the flares. About six months ago I began having extreme abdominal swelling. It was not bloating. I  would get so swollen that I looked at least six months pregnant. This was a red flag. I was advised by several doctors to go back to Gastro. Reluctantly I did so. The doctor told me I have IBS, ran a breath test, and offered no treatment plan or advice. This was not the outcome I had hoped for.

A few days before getting admitted to the hospital I suspected a stomach flare up. When you feel a flare coming on you always hope and pray that your wrong and it was a false alarm. But sadly I know my body too well. When I suspect something 99% of the time I am right. Which is a blessing and a curse.

In the ER, the day I got admitted, sure enough a stomach flare hit and it hit hard. I am blessed that they admitted me. I don’t know how I would have coped with that stomach flare at home. Fluids intravenously are a life saver! They are truly under estimated. If you follow my blog or Chronically Hopeful on FB you know how the story goes, I got diagnosed in the hospital with IBD. Part of the reason for my ulcerative colitis is lack of blood flow to my intestines. Some blame this completed on Lupus. Me? I believe it is a lovely combination of Lupus and POTS.

The picture at the top of this post is exactly how I feel, “Look at all this food, I can’t eat.” I saw a  dietitian in the hospital. She was nice, but honestly not helpful. No one has been much help when it comes to my diet. They tell me everything I can’t eat but don’t give any suggestions of what to eat. Actually one of the doctors in the hospital told me that they weren’t considered about me eating, it wasn’t a priority. No offense but I think (especially with POTS) that eating is important.

There are a handful of foods that are my ‘safe’ foods. Eating is a challenge. I am not allowed to have fiber, whole grains, or dairy. I need to limit protein.  I get frustrated often when I need to eat, because of the simple fact I don’t know what to eat. The healthy foods I enjoyed eating are now off-limits like salad. I have been trying the past few years to improve my diet, eating less processed foods more fruit and vegetables. Now I can’t do that. A lot of vegetables are too hash on my stomach because of the ulcers. Sometimes I feel like eating but I am hardly ever truly hungry. I eat because I know I need to, my body needs food.

Trying a new food is a game. The doctor told me to try stuff and if you have intense pain and live in the bathroom don’t eat it again. I try to reintroduce foods one at a time every other day to every few days. This way I know if a particular food bothers me and I am not completely miserable (hopefully). I have to admit, at times I eat stuff I know will make my stomach hurt because I don’t know what else to eat. Prednisone cravings do not help.

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Today, I tried something new and I regret it. I was annoyed because I was feeling pretty good until I ate lunch. Good days have been hard to come by. So when I have a decent day I love to take full advantage of it. Right now, eating something that upsets my system not only gives me a stomach ace but a back ace and severe weakness.

Last week I followed up with a Gastro that works with the Gastro I saw in the hospital. Sadly I had to switch due to the doctor not taking my insurance. Thankfully I ran into the Gastro I had in the hospital and he will be speaking with the new one. I feel much better about things this way. In a week I am going back to the OR for an upper endoscopy. Hopefully, after this I can stay out of the OR for a bit. I am not expecting them to find much, due to the fact I am on a lot of Prednisone. I know what to expect, this will be my third upper endoscopy.

Of course I am grateful for decent moments and days. I am hoping one of these flares will calm down soon. Hope you are doing well. Wishing you pain-free days, filled with blessings. Sending spoons, prayers, and hugs ❤

Birthday

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My parents and I all have our Birthdays in January. What’s even more unique is my mom and I share a birthday, which is today January 28th. The first six years of my life I was an only child. I adore being a big sister, but I am grateful for the years I spent as an only child. I believe those years allowed me to develop a special bond with each of my parents. “You love your parents, but as you get to know them you fall in love with them.” I believe this quote is absolutely true. As a child, our parents are heros. As teenagers, we drift away from our parents. We are so consumed with our lives, we don’t take enough time to get to know our parents and cherish the small amount of time God lends them to us. I cherish the time I have with my parents.

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My mom and I have always been close. She is the reason I am who I am today. I couldn’t ask for a better mother. God has truly blessed me. She has been with me for every appointment, ER trip, urgent care trip, every test, and every surgery. She’s the one who calms me down when Prednisone makes me crazy or when I’m just overwhelmed with everything. She is a huge encouragement and the source of strength. I am blessed that she introduced me to the Lord and raise me in a church. I am blessed that my mother encouraged and allowed me to go on missions trips and retreats. She always encourages me to lean on the Lord and to find strength in him.

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I wish I could remember all the wonderful moments we shared together as I was growing up however my illnesses have impaired my memory. I cherish the few things I remember, the stories I am told of these moments, the home videos and countless pictures I have.

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I know my illness is extremely difficult for my mother, which is heartbreaking for me. She is an admirable woman. I can only strive to be half as amazing, compassionate, and loving as she is. The strength she has always leaves me in awe. She has overcome and given so much in her life. I God every day that He blessed me with my mother. Thank you is not enough for everything she has done for me. HAPPY BIRTHDAY MOM!

Today, at 2:14 pm I turn 21 years old. I did not think I would see this day. There were many times I wondered if I would wake up in the morning or if the Lord would send his angles to carry me to his arms. I’m only 21, but I have fought for my life a number of times. There are a thousand reasons I should not be alive, but for whatever reason the Lord has allowed me to still be here. 

 Most people cannot wait for their 21st birthday, however I am not most people.As my birthday approached I began to dread it. Another year has passed, making me yet another year older. 21. I have never been a fan of getting older. For as long as I can remember I wanted to stay in toy land, to stay a child. For me growing up was something I dreaded and feared. Until recently I never understood why. Now I am beginning to understand this bazaar fear. The fear is rooted entangled with pain. I began have chronic pain around six years old. Continuously I have associated getting older with more chronic pain as well as my health becoming more complex.

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Though I’m not thrilled to be 21, I am grateful to be alive and to have another year. Today is a day to celebrate everything I have overcome, being alive, and what I have accomplished. While I was 20 I began my Facebook page, this blog, survived my Reclast experience, achieved a 4.0 GPA, and other various small accomplishments. I look forward with hope to what will unfold during my time as a 21 year old. I hope to achieve at least a 3.8 GPA, get my kidney stones to stop, stabilize my health, grow my blog, become closer to God, and be able to go away to college in the fall.

 “For you formed my inward parts; you knitted me together in my mother’s womb.  I praise you, for I am fearfully and wonderfully made. Wonderful are your works; my soul knows it very well. My frame was not hidden from you, when I was being made in secret, intricately woven in the depths of the earth.”

Jeremiah 29:11 “For I know the plans I have for you, declares the Lord, plans for welfare and not for evil, to give you a future and a hope. Then you will call upon me and come and pray to me, and I will hear you. You will seek me and find me, when you seek me with all your heart.”

I hope you have a terrific day, thank you for stopping by! Sending lots of spoons, hugs, and prayers ❤

My Year Review

As 2014 graciously departs, we reflect on the ways it has transformed our lives.  We thank the year for the all the moments we encountered both those in which overflowed with joy and those drenched in hardships.  We have learned an abundance of lessons, encounter adventures, and have flourished in character. I invite you to join me as I reflect on my year.

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Personally, 2014 was discreetly laced with ravishing moments of joy and catastrophe. My health consumed the majority of my time, outside of my academics. One is never truly prepared for a health combat and the after effects. My year began with medical luggage from the previous year. Which included a three month long kidney infection and stones, along with my usual chronic health challenges. Producing a Cytoscopy, I learned I have a fused supernumerary kidney as well as a double collecting system on my right side. (In nonmedical terms this means I have three kidneys and three Ureters.) With persistence the infection cleared up.

In March, my beloved cat Hope passed away. She lost her life to an autoimmune disorder along with internal bleeding. We developed a unique relationship. She helped care for me and provided me with love, support, and encouragement.

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Prior to losing Hope, a stray cat wandered into my house where she had kittens. Assisting her emotionally during the forty eight hour birthing session was a unique experience. Kittens and new life in general provides joy as well as hope. Caring for the mother and kittens were excellent therapy for me. After much internal conflict, with the guidance of my parents, I decided to keep the orange kitten who was born second. He had gently wiggled his way into my heart, with no intentions of departing.

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From the time I became ill, I have struggled to encounter the right doctor. I encountered many doctors who were disrespectful to me, who did not believe me, who diagnosed and undiagnosed me, and caused stress. These doctors caused the majority of my stress. By brushing my symptoms off, they allowed my body to attack me, thus allowed me to get worse. I was fairly hopeless when I met my current rheumatologist I knew if she was unwilling to help, I would not receive treatment for my Lupus. Just moments before the appointment I saw a Nephrologists. I was told I am mental, there is nothing wrong with me, and the doctor lied to me. That visit left me utterly numb. Praise the Lord my rheumatology appointment went better. A few months after being rediagnoised (for the 8th time) my doctor helped me begin the Benlysta infusion.

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Due to complications, I was only able to take nine credits spring semester of 2014. I encountered struggles with the college I attend. Throughout my schooling career I have been told several times that I am not smart and have encountered various academic challenges. For this reason I was beyond shocked when I discovered I had earned a 3.5 GPA for the semester.

In September I was admitted to the hospital due to a life treating allergic reaction to the Osteoporosis medication known as Reclast. Positive and negative things were interweaved into my hospital stay.

The following week, my orange kitten, Tommy got fixed. My mom and I dropped him off, of course I promised to pick him up the following morning. When the phone rang that afternoon, I felt sick to my stomach. The Vet did not sound right as she requested to speak to my mother and didn’t chat with me as she normally would. I digested the fragments of the conversation. My beautiful, energetic kitten was gone. I began to scream and pace. Unable to calm down, unable to understand. My heart broke. We later found out that he has heart disease and a blood clot around his precious heart. Most likely a heart attack stole him.

Recovering from Reclast and keeping up with school work was a chore. Certain symptoms did not improve. I was recommend to cardiology, where we discovered I have POTS.

Though I was consumed with fear I got another kitten shortly after Tommy departed. The Vet and my support system agreed it would benefit my cat Grace and I. We adopted a beautiful curled ear kitten, Saide Rose who is nine months old.

I enjoyed my college courses and succeed beyond my imagination in them. I managed to pull a 4.0 GPA.

I encountered many moments of joy and catastrophe. I am stilling adjusting to life with POTS.  My support system drastically shifted and crumbed in ways. I cherish those who support me and I hold them dear to my heart. I cannot fold into words how grateful I am for the support I do receive. I have been blessed to begin Chronically Hopeful, which includes the Facebook page as well as this blog. I have learned to cherish every moment and to rely on God on a deeper level.  Through God, 2014 has blessed me in many ways.

I would love to hear about your year. Please share in the comments.

Sending New Year’s blessings, hugs, prayer, and spoons. ❤