My Phoebe

Strolling through the crowded flea market, on a mission to find a new love,

my eyes darted in all directions, seeking but not finding, the Black and Tan beauty my heart yearned for desperately.

Turning a corner, I glimpsed three crates with wiggling crimson pups.

Disheartened, I continued walking but heard a yip that made me turn around. I looked straight into the melted chocolate eyes of a tiny little soul begging for attention.

My feet moved before my mind told them to do so. I asked the woman if I could hold the tiny red pup, and she said sure.

A dachshund no bigger than the palm of my hand immediately climbed my chest and burrowed into my hair while giving me kisses. I fell in love. My mourning heart from having lost our other dachshund in 2015 felt a little lighter. It didn’t matter the cost for adoption. This pup picked me.

She has been by my side ever since.

Phoebe is my companion. She is a therapy dog without the formal training. When I am having a really bad pain day, Phoebe knows it. She stays glued to me all day long. She has been a great help for my loneliness and depression. She makes me smile and laugh every single day.

Fighting The Heat

I missed my weekly wanderings this weekend. Today, the heat index got up to 101 with the humidity. I have heat intolerance and cannot deal with the heat at all. We did get up early enough to walk around the yard for my physical therapy. We saw two snakes: a king snake and a hog nose snake, also called a spreading adder. Neither snake is venomous. The king snake was trying to trick the hog nose snake by shaking its tail like a rattler! We left them alone, although the king snake had to be persuaded not to follow us with a kind reminder from my husband. I think it was irritated we interrupted its breakfast. Interesting physical therapy session to say the least!

So, my husband and I are going to have to figure out how to get me out of the house this summer. We may have to go buy groceries in the middle of the night when it has cooled down to a more manageable 80 degrees. We may have to set the alarm clock and go before the sun rises…although my fibromyalgia and arthritis would HATE that schedule.

Trying to navigate life with multiple chronic illnesses is a never ending chore. I’m thankful for the warmer weather because my joints and fibromyalgia won’t hurt AS much. They still hurt but cold months are awful.

The month of April might as well be renamed Migraine Month in this house.

So, summertime DOES have some advantages.

Unfortunately, I need to stay in the AC, stay wet, or stay home to make it through Arkansas summers. Simply going from the vehicle into a store can cause me to become very symptomatic.

I’m also STILL trying to figure out how to wear compression stockings without having a heat stroke after all these years living with dysautonomia.

Swelling Belly

I woke up yesterday my normal size. By the time I was sitting in the truck heading for my doctor’s appointment, I could feel the Velcro on my abdominal binder start to loosen.

My belly was growing.

I could hear growls, grumbles, and flops like an alien being was begging to spring free.

The claws of Gastroparesis started shredding my insides, reminding me of those delicious Mother’s Day treats I ate while pretending I had a normal digestive tract.

“Go to the ER if your stomach doesn’t calm down in 24 hours,” said my doctor.

I couldn’t sleep last night because of my swelling belly.

It just would not stop.

Today, I wait impatiently. Hoping and praying for some relief…Mad at myself at eating something NOT approved for the step 2 gastroparesis diet…praying for a curing for us all.

Cappuccino with a Side of Calm

I ran across a lovely quote on Pinterest this morning as I was sipping my cappuccino.

The words are beautiful. The message strikes to the core of my very soul. I so wish to embrace everything spoken in this quote.

However, I have multiple chronic illnesses. Those illnesses led to anxiety and depression. I am not simply “disheartened” by the uncertainty of life. I am disheartened by the uncertainty of whether or not I will stay conscious the entire day.

Yet, I WANT to embrace the serenity in this inspirational quote. I want to simply “decide” to sit down and enjoy the ride.

I don’t get to “decide.” I am not the one in control. My body decides for me. Listening to my body and being smart about my day to day decisions are helping me.

Pushing myself until I fainted and collapsed because I listened to the “Just be positive” and “work through it” messages was a dangerous and stupid way to live.

So, if you’re not battling a chronic illness of any kind including a mental illness, the above quote may be for you. It’s a great one! Why worry about things we can’t change? Relax. Go with the flow. I’ve heard a lot of sayings.

They don’t work to well for me now.

If I go with the flow, someone please be downstream with a rope to drag my drowning butt to the riverbank. 😜

Have a great weekend! If you’re a mother, Happy Mother’s Day!

In Need of Support After I Wiggle into These Hose

Have you ever had to wear compression support hose or compression stockings after a surgery? Do you have an illness that requires you to wear them on a daily basis? If so, you know those suckers are not easy to put on if you have ANY type of weakness in your upper body.

Add a ruptured disk compressing a root nerve to the mix, and it’s just an absolutely good time! Yes, I’m being sarcastic.

This morning, I thought I was going to have to call our volunteer first responders after dragging and pulling on my support hose.

I woke up knowing it was going to be a rough day when I couldn’t quite feel my hands. Sure enough, they were swollen. My normally slim fingers looked like fat sausages, and I could barely text my husband at work to let him know I did survive another night.

After flexing my leg muscles to try and get some blood flowing to my brain, I rose up slowly, grabbed my rollator, and started the daily routine of “suiting up.” This consists of compressing everything!

Let me tell you, it’s not easy putting on support hose when your fingers feel like they should belong to The Incredible Hulk.

I’m not sure how the rest of you put on compression stockings, but I sit on the side of the bed to get them over my feet. Then I lie down and take a break. Otherwise I’m going to pass out. Remember I have this weird thing called dysautonomia.

As I’m lying there this morning, Phoebe the Dachshund starts licking me in the face. Great. I forgot to kick her out of the bedroom.

I have compression hose down around my ankles.

My back is aching.

There’s a dog licking my face.

My Incredible Hulk hands are numb again.

My mom and brother are coming for a visit in a few hours.

Can I just call First Responders and ask for help? It’s a small community. I know most of them. I wonder if this qualifies as an emergency? “Hey so-and-so! I’m about to lose my mind up in here! Need a little help putting on these hose! I taught your kid back in the day.”

Then it dawned on me I probably didn’t want those people to see me in my undies. So I prayed. Hey, I’ve been through worse, right? I get epidural spinal block injections. I’ve got this! It’s JUST compression hose.

Renewed in the believe that YES, I CAN overcome this obstacle, I yanked those compression stockings the rest of the way home! Yay! The white walls dimmed to gray. Hold up. It was time to lay my booty down. I had to rest awhile.

Luckily my body pillow and bed wedge was nearby. Phoebe snuggled under the quilt with me for a nap. Next on the agenda was compressing the abdomen with a binder using my foreign weird looking hands, but it just had to wait.

My Tribe is Tiny After Chronic Illness

Be careful who you tell your troubles to when you’re chronically ill because not everyone wants to hear them and/or not everyone cares. I learned that the hard way.

What I simply considered sharing my daily concerns and fears about my diseases/medical treatments were taken for something completely different a few months ago by a family member I dearly love. I had listened to this person’s complaints and life problems on a daily basis for years. I thought the relationship was a two way street. It was not. This person “disowned” me. They wanted it to be temporary for two weeks. I wasn’t “positive” enough. I still remember the last text I received from this person after mentioning how worried I was about a new doctor I was seeing that afternoon: “At least the sun is shining!” Then I was blocked.

I wasn’t told this information. I was cut out of their life, and the information was passed on to me through my adult daughter.

However, I struggle daily with feelings of worthlessness…Something this person knows very well. I decided I am not worthless. I AM worthy. Instead of crying like I had before when this person had “disowned” me, I felt mad. I felt sad for kids I’d not get to see, but I was mad.

I suffer from depression and anxiety, so I have a therapist. I spilled it ALL at my session later that week. I didn’t shed one tear. I told her that worried me. She asked why? I told her usually I’d be crying. I’m not crying. I asked my therapist if I could simply forgive but stay disowned after the two weeks was up because this was THE worst time in my life to be treated this way. I was facing a test to see if I had kidney cancer. I was about to have my 2nd SSDI court hearing. The stress was eating me alive.

My therapist asked me if I’d let a stranger on the street treat me so poorly. “Of course not.” I replied.

“There’s your answer.”

As I look back on that close relationship, something wasn’t right for me to have been tossed away so easily. I’d have never done the same.

Actions have consequences.

My tiny tribe consists of my husband, my daughter, her boyfriend, and my dad. My mom and my brother text me through the week. They don’t come to visit me. I have no friends in real life. If a person can’t work, can’t drive, stays in bed most of the time, and lives in a rural area, it’s hard to make friends.

Chronic illness is a lonely place, but I want no pity. Most patients HATE pity. That’s something healthy people rarely understand.

I am thankful for my little family because I do know of people who have less. I am loved. I am blessed. ❤️

My Weekly Breakout from Prison: Infinity Wars and a Near Wreck

Yesterday began with my usual blood pressure check to see if I could manage my weekly outing or if I needed to postpone it until Sunday.

Since my bp was in the 90’s over 60’s, I put on my Juzo stockings, my husband helped put my abdominal binder on extra tight, we packed Liquid IV, Banana Bag, he loaded up both my power wheelchair and my cane, my medications, and took off for the 30 minute trip into town.

Juzo Sheer Thigh High Compression Hose 20-30 mmHg in Beige
Juzo Sheer Thigh High Compression Stockings 20-30 mmHg in Beige

Going ANYWHERE with chronic illness feels like packing for a weekend mini vacation. Each time I get settled into our truck, I feel like I NEED a vacation.

If I’m able to get out of the house for my weekly outings, I cheat on my gastroparesis diet knowing the food will hurt my stomach. I love Mexican food! Life is painful enough without never eating my favorite food again in my life. My stomach hurts regardless of what I eat. So, if possible, once a week I eat Mexican food.

We were almost to the Mexican restaurant when my husband changed lanes and almost ran into a Tahoe! It was in his blind spot. My Autonomic Nervous System does NOT work correctly. My heart jumped into my throat. My legs went numb. I barely managed to recline the seat and prevent myself from passing out. I threw my legs upon the dashboard. Our day hadn’t even started, and my illnesses were messing it up. Frustration, guilt, and anxiety reared their ugly heads. The guilt worsened when my husband asked if I needed to just go back home.

Fighting back the anxiety and shaking, I assured him I was okay. We ate at our favorite restaurant then went to the theater where we missed the first five minutes of Avengers: Infinity War because I was in the bathroom sick as a dog. Gastroparesis is one miserable disease. I found out later what happens in the first five minutes.

Which brings me to the movie…I’m on enough social media accounts to know I needed tissues in my purse. I came prepared because I’m a Marvel fan. Wolverine is my all time favorite character with Loki coming in second. I actually didn’t need a tissue yesterday during the movie. I watched the entire movie letting out little gasps of pain here and there. I gripped my husband’s hand so hard at times I’m sure he wanted to yank away from me, but I didn’t cry. When the movie came to an end, I looked at my husband in complete and utter shock. “Did that really just happen?” Yes, I did ask him that question in a crowded theater still waiting for Marvel’s famous “After the Credits” scene. I could hear sniffles in front of us and behind us.

“Yes. It happened,” my husband replied.

After we got home, I was in so much pain that I went straight to bed but couldn’t sleep. He was in the living room. We started texting each other about the movie. We spent over an hour discussing the comics, the movie, the characters, the writers, and what might/might not happen in the next movie. It was in THOSE moments, I needed a tissue.