Taken on my humanitarian mission in South Africa, 2008
… With a mouse, of course.
Or in my case, it will be with what I have commonly referred to as “Rat Poisoning” in the past. Until recently. You see, I woke up on 10 May 2011, with what I thought was a Migraine Headache. To date, that same intense pain has prevaded every aspect of my life. It has been a LONG 254 days of praying, begging for relief, tears, frustration, joy in the simple things, arguments with doctors and insurance (over what treatment to try next), and FAITH.
Yesterday I told someone extremely close to me that I felt I have been in a spiritual warfare. Satan has been attacking me on EVERY front. Regardless of whether you believe in God or not, or whether you care to identify with your Creator or not, I ABSOLUTELY MUST. You see, without my FAITH, I would not have gotten through the past 8 1/2 months of debilitating pain. It is because I have believed that God has a plan, that I have been able to endure the pain. Every single day that I have had to go to the hospital for treatments, or a new doctors office and fill out what seems hours of paperwork; I have thought about the Wounded Warriors that I have visited at Bethesda, Walter Reed, Brooke Army Medical Center, or those wonderful heroes I met at Knott’s Berry Farm in November of 2010.
Knott's Berry Farm with Wounded Warriors, November 2009
By reflecting on the memories of experiences others have had, and their sheer tenacity to endure … has gotten me through. It would be a lie if I told you I have been strong through this entire process. Lord only knows I have sobbed with pain and frustration. Yes, I have said the words “why me”. I stopped saying that in November when a dear friend of mine landed in the hospital … not to come out alive. (I sure do miss you, Ed Bahmer!) You see, things can always be worse. It freaks people out when I say “I look forward to dying”. It is not that I want to die, please don’t get me wrong …. I just look forward to being reunited with my loved ones who were taken from this earth way too soon. A place where there is no pain.
After my third trip to the emergency room last spring and summer, I stopped counting how many doctors, hospitals, and treatments I had endured. There is a notebook that is at the foot of my bed right now, that chronicles every appointment and medication I have been put on. At one point, I remember being on 13 medications at one time. In 5 months time, I had been on 35 different medications. Every prescription putting me more and more in the hole financially. There came a time when I had to regroup and remind myself of the very wise words of my primary care physician in Atlanta “You are your own best health advocate … no one knows your body better than YOU”. When I chose to move back to Seattle in September (after months of not living at my place in Kentucky), I sought medical professionals who would not simply prescribe drugs to treat the symptoms.
In doing so, I also lost alot of faith in modern (western) medicine. It became increasingly obvious to me that many doctors seem to get kick backs from the amount of prescriptions they write. Please don’t get me wrong here … I did not lose faith in ALL physicians … just the ones who chose not to listen to me when I shared prior experiences and treatments. What did and did not work. And at the end of the day, I found that I had to babysit people to ensure they would do their jobs. Dealing with insurance companies is a full time job … and when you have a migraine headache EVERY SINGLE DAY, that battle is not an easy one.
Have you ever heard the saying “mind over matter”? Or “no pain, no gain”? These are things I say to myself constantly. It helps me to realize things HAVE TO GET BETTER. A very long time ago, I discerned that I was not “normal” by human standards. Honestly, I believe I was put on this earth to be different. The Love I have in my heart for others is bigger than my emotions can control. My blood seems to be infused with humanitarian desires. Nothing brings me more joy than making a positive difference to someone else. The words LOYAL and HONEST define me. Often this leaves me feeling separate from other humans, because we truly live in a world where people are selfish. And people can be outright mean and hateful.
But you know what has kept me sane through being forced to give up my own place, stay away from a career I felt was divinely chosen for me, going on food stamps, and learning to make ends meet when the disability check is not enough to cover regular expenses of life and additional prescription and medical challenges? THE KINDNESS OF OTHERS. It has been a time of me learning to RECEIVE rather than always being the one to give. God is using this time to make me a better person (I thought I was pretty cool already. haha) … and I will be honest, it hurts like hell. It is by the grace of my amazing friends and family that I am able to endure. (Thank you for accepting me exactly as I am … no matter where that may be, or how I may feel!) I thank God for them daily, as do I do the valiant heroes who fight for my rights to think, feel, and be ME.
Swedish Hospital Pain & Headache Clinic, January 2012
Earlier today someone asked me “what do you do from day to day”? Meaning “how do you spend your time”? I responded “well, every day seems to revolve around whether I have a doctors appointment or not.” Far cry from jet setting all over the globe and volunteering my time. It is frustrating to me, because I feel like I should be doing something “more”. In my mind, I should be making more money, sending more care packages to our troops, doing more for humanity. Making a Difference (also known as going MAD) hehe.
And last weekend, when I celebrated my 50th birthday (really, I do feel MUCH younger!) with dear family and friends in Southern California … an absolute transformation occurred in my mind. Through the love in that house, I learned that no matter where I am, and no matter what I am doing, I am making a difference. It’s just harder for me to do when I feel like I have no money and I am in constant pain. Let’s say I have to work at it, when in the past, it has come naturally. My heart just aches because others see pain in my eyes, and that hurts me. But today I had this sense that I needed to sit down and write (sorry it has been so long since my last blog, by the way). It is cathartic to me. Maybe my words will help just one person to realize that they are not alone in their pain.
There are many, many times I have felt that way. Like NO ONE understands. No one else has had my life experiences, or overcome what I have, in order to get to where I am. But they don’t have to … they just need to have compassion. People need to have an ounce more understanding. When someone is talking to you, PLEASE LISTEN to their words. Do not be confused by someones inability to articulate how they feel. Just having a friend reach out a hand and say “I’m here”, could make all the difference in the world. (Thank you so very much to my friends, who always know how to make me smile … and just happen to be there, right when I need you the most!!!)
Just now I received a text message from a friend who asked me about the “elephant” (also known as THROB). And for the first time in months, I can say that I actually have hope again for a treatment. It may not help immediately (it could take months), but I was approved by insurance to receive Botox injections for the pain tomorrow morning. 31 injections sights in my head, neck, and shoulders. Most people scare an elephant with a mouse. Mine is so big … I have agreed to rat poisoning to get rid of mine. lol
Here is the link http://www.foxnews.com/health/2011/01/05/studies-botox-reduce-migraine-headaches/ for the treatment. There are no guarantees … but the good news is, I have Tigger to keep me company (he had a blast with the IV today!), and the faith of a mustard seed that there are brighter days ahead.
Tigger and I were thinking of our troops today at the hospital ...
Do me a favor? Appreciate the life you have …. because each day is a gift and we are blessed to be called to LIVE IT.
AKA “The Sky Angel”