Hi! My name is Samantha. I’ve been married for 23 years to a wonderful man who actually meant “In sickness and in health” when he said “I do” all those years ago. He robbed the cradle by 10 1/2 years, and I always visualized a future where I would be the caregiver. I suppose God had other plans for our lives.
I’m an early retired disabled teacher thanks to a multitude of diseases: Dysautonomia, Heart Disease, Gastroparesis, Degenerative Disk Disease, Chronic Migraines, Fibromyalgia, Arthritis, Anxiety, and Depression.
We live in Arkansas with a spoiled miniature dachshund named Phoebe, a sweet dachshund/corgi named Ginger, and a sassy ragdoll cat named Cadbury Mocha Latte. Can you guess what I was thinking about when I named her? We call her Mocha. The cat loves my husband more than me. She’s ridiculous.
Our animals are our family, and you will notice my Instagram page features their adorable faces more than our daughter. What can I say? Our kid lives almost two hours from me, and I can’t drive. No shame.
I suffer from Empty Nest Syndrome on top of battling chronic illnesses even though our daughter recently completed Year 4 of college. I’m a blessed mom though and know it. We’re close. We text a lot. She sends me pics if she’s shopping for an outfit and wants some advice. I’m not sure if she knows how much that means to a mom, but it means the world to me. I love knowing that she’s grown into an independent young woman yet still wants to speak to her mom.
Last but not least, humor is my coping mechanism and has gotten me through many tough days. I laugh AT myself sometimes. Many years ago, my daughter and I started joking that my spirit animal is the fainting goat. Of course, if someone else makes fun of me, my daughter is my fiercest protector second only to my husband. I’ve been a victim of “disability shaming” for parking in a handicapped parking spot and not looking sick. I’ve gotten the dirty looks from people who thought I shouldn’t be using the spot before I was in a wheelchair. I’ve had to physically hold my daughter back when she couldn’t take one more comment because she knew how much I had mentally struggled just to make the decision whether or not to get a handicapped placard in the first place.
I state all of this to explain that my humor by NO means undermines the struggle of chronic pain, chronic illness, depression, and anxiety. I have a therapist. I have multiple specialists. My prescriptions list is probably as disgustingly long as yours if you are a chronically ill patient. Please don’t be offended by my humor. I would never laugh at you and your struggle. I laugh at ME and MY situation sometimes because, for me, it is better to laugh than cry.
Otherwise I would always stay curled up in bed in the fetal position unable to open my eyelids from massive swelling due to uncontrollable tears. (I do have those days. I mean…you read that list up there, didn’t you?)
I usually choose humor though. Meet my spirit animal.