Freedom Friday – October 24, 2014

Blogging friend, Iman, last week launched Freedom Friday writing, “It’s Freedom Friday, so I reserve the sole right to say what I have to say … .”

I decided to participate.  After all, I needed a day to freely express, WHATEVER!!, and why not on Freedom Fridays.

photo

So here goes….

Oops I Missed the Sign-up for Blogging 201

It’s Freedom Friday and, according to one definition, freedom means:

“I have the power or right to act, speak, or think as one wants without hindrance or restraint.”

Though Blogging 201 was closed when I attempted to sign up, I choose to exercise my right on Freedom Friday to complete the first assignment, which was to:

“Consider what you want to accomplish with your blog.  Write down three concrete goals you want to achieve.”

This assignment, hopefully, will lead to an improved blog before I begin my third year of blogging in January 2015.

Why I Blog

Almost two years ago, I initially decided to create this blog for:

  • Self-Education to access information shared by other bloggers who were living with either breast cancer, rheumatoid arthritis, or fibromyalgia.
  • Self-Management to distract and re-direct my attention from negative thoughts, emotional stress, and physical pain.

Blogging also helped, as a fill-in, for the lost of family and friends when we retired and relocated to Orlando in 2010.

Though, I have friends now and enjoy spending time with them, I still blog to:

  • Interact with diverse people;
  • Tour different places around the world; and,
  • Learn new things above and beyond my wildest expectations.

Because either my IPad, MacBook or Blog are always within reach; I have the ability, when I want, to:

  • Express Thoughts
  • Rant Opinions
  • Expand Awareness
  • View Events
  • Explore New Cultures
  • Visit Different Places
  • Meet New People
  • Network with Bloggers
  • Share Memories

All of the above satisfies my needs as a blogger.  And, I have no interest in gaining notoriety, becoming a leader in the field, or self-publishing a book.

My Ultimate Blog

I decided to take a critical look at my blog layout in preparation for completing this assignment.  I concluded that my blog needs a makeover to improve both the look and flow.  I hope to acquire new ideas and techniques, when I participate, in the Blogging 101 Class beginning November 3.

In addition to revamping this blog, I want to add photos to my posts.  So, I registered for the Photography 101 Class which, also, starts on November 3.

I am not concerned about the number of followers, but would like to keep the current ones.  I now see them as my blogosphere friends.

I plan to continue publishing three times per week.

Four Specific Goals

  1. Publish three times each week during November, December, and January.
  2. Spend 2-3 hours each week visiting my followers’ blogs, reading their posts, and commenting on their work, from now until April 1st.
  3. Establish a new weekly feature on my blog by December 31st and publish each week through June 30th.
  4. Create an editorial calendar for the next three months by November 1st.

Finally, I am grateful to:

  • Iman for inviting me to take part in Freedom Friday.
  • Blogging 201 for this assignment, even though, I crashed the course.

 

August 2014: Mother-Daughter Vacation in Martha’s Vineyard

photo

Chronic Pain flare-up

Despite the fact that weeks before this scheduled trip, I was dealing with a pain flare-up in the right knee; I was going on the annual Mother-Daughter Vacation in Martha’s Vineyard.

I have struggled with chronic pain since 1993 related to diagnosed conditions of Rheumatoid Arthritis and Fibromyaglia.  Over the years, I developed various self-management tools to control the pain levels.  However, my bone-on-bone knee pain needed either an injection or surgery.  And, neither was available before this vacation.

Since there was nothing I could do to make the “Pain Go Away”, my only option was to “Grin and Bare It” 

Wheelchair Transport Through the Airports

Since Hubby was not going, he ordered a wheelchair to transport me through the Orlando Airport.  This is a long walk through one terminal, a short train ride, and a longer walk through a second terminal.  Trust me the need for a wheelchair was the topic of more than one discussion in the days leading up to my departure.   Finally, I gave in.

My son picked me up at the Milwaukee Airport and we were off to meet-up with the daughters.  After the traditional hugs and kisses, they said, “Mama, you are limping.”  While the limp was noticeable, I am certain Hubby had telephoned with his concerns.

After discussing the pros and my cons of a wheelchair; I lost and they ordered one for the next leg of my trip.

When I arrived in Milwaukee, I was an “Unhappy Wheelchair Traveler”;  but, I left as the “Grumpy Wheelchair Traveler” as my 14-year-old grandson pushed me through the Milwaukee and Boston Airports.

Was it not just a few years ago that he depended on me to push him around in his stroller?  I was not ready for this.

Having someone push me around in a wheelchair was not a pleasant experience; and, I felt —

  • Stressed
  • Powerless
  • Depressed
  • Angry
  • Embarrassed

The Airline Flight

On the airplane and seated comfortably; I closed my eyes, breathed deeply, and let go of the negativity.

Through Self-Talk, Self-Awareness and Self-Acceptance; I embraced and accepted the gift of wheelchair transports from my hubby, son, two daughters and grandson.

No longer did I feel —

  • Stressed, I enjoyed Relaxing
  • Powerless, I gained Power
  • Depressed, I discovered Peace
  • Angry, I achieved Happiness
  • Embarrassed,  I reflected Pride

 A Few of My Favorite Mother-Daughter Vacation Photos – 2014

photo 2
The 14-Year-Old Grandson, CJ with His Friend – Lunch on the Ferry
photo 4
The Ferry Deck
photo 3
First Night. First Order of Business – Glass of Wine
photo 5
My Play Daughter from Another Mother, My Youngest Daughter, and Their Two Boys Playing Monopoly on a Rainy Day
photo 2
The Moms Won
photo 5
Could This Be The Reason The Moms Won At Monopoly? IPhones, IPADS, Laptops, X-Boxes, etc.? I’m Just Saying!!
photo 3
Main Street – Downtown Oak Bluff
photo 1
Oak Bluff Pier
photo 2
Love The Old Vintage Homes on Main Street – Downtown Oak Bluff – Facing the Atlantic Ocean
photo 1
Lunch on The Upper Deck of Nancy’s Seafood with Grandson, Two of His Friends and the Daughters
photo 2
Surprise from The Daughters – My Favorite Appetizer Before the Crab Leg, Lobster and Shrimp Boil
photo 4
The Grandson CJ – Adding Crab Legs to the Boil
photo 1
It’s Crab Boil Night – Because CJ Hates Seafood, He Had A Burrito. His Friend Enjoyed the Crab Let Boil and the Burrito.
photo 4
Relaxing and Sitting on The Oak Bluff Pier
photo
Look Up In The Sky – Air Force Helicopters Flying Over Prior to The President’s Vacation Visit in The Next Several Days.
photo 1
Beautiful Sunset View Sitting on The Front Porch
photo
Last Night. Busy Week. Grandson Massaging Mom’s Feet. He Is Special!!!
image
Goodbye Rental House – See You In August 2015

Gratitude Sunday, August 3: Mother and Daughters


“Mothers and Daughters are Closest, when Daughters Become Mothers”

I am grateful this Sunday to begin the week in the presence of my two daughters as we begin our Fifth Annual Mother-Daughter Vacation in Martha’s Vineyard.

 

image
Rental House, Martha’s Vineyard, Oak Bluff, Mass.

 

Especially, grateful for the gift of these precious moments with my daughters to:

  • Reminisce about our past;
  • Discuss our moments in the present; and
  • Share our dreams for the future.

 

image
Eldest Daughter

 

image
Youngest Daughter

My Healing Container Garden

A gardener, I am not.  But, when I retired to Florida more than four years ago, I decided our lanai was too cold and sterile.  So to add life, I purchased a few plants to bring color and life into this space.

Since that time, the container garden has gotten bigger and bigger.  Daily, I retreat to My Healing Garden to meditate, pray, and be still.

My Healing Garden Photos

 IMG_6658

IMG_6368

IMG_6662

IMG_0493

IMG_6437

IMG_6360

IMG_0508

IMG_6400

IMG_5855

Writing 101, Day One: Unlock the Mind

Okay, timer is on.  I am ready to start this first writing assignment.  Feeling in panic-mode, I have to use Hubby’s Dell Laptop and the keyboard is configured entirely different from my MAC laptop.  My MAC died.  After spending two hours on the phone with two different Apple Support representatives, the MAC is still not operational.  The only resolution they came up with was to schedule an appointment for me at the local Apple Store tomorrow.

But, I am determined not to let anything deter me from completing this first day assignment.

I can’t believe this day has gone so badly.

In addition to the dead MAC laptop, the Fibromyalgia and Rheumatoid Arthritis kicked in.  Whenever, I over-exert, fail to pace my activities, and venture away from my normal sleeping habits, the body crashes.  Pain level, as I write, is an 8 out of 10.

The increased pain levels are related to spending a fabulous long weekend in Wisconsin with family and friends.  Our youngest grandson graduated from middle school and the family came together, as we always do, to celebrate the milestones in our lives.

This twenty minute writing, without stopping, to review what I have written is one of the most difficult things I have done.  In my early years, I worked as a secretary.  My job performance was measured by producing a neat, properly aligned document, absent spelling, punctuation and grammatical errors.  Added to this, I had to type the perfect document on a manual typewriter and many times produce five clean carbon copies.  Does anyone remember carbon paper?   So, typing a line and going back to ensure there are no errors has remained with me over the years.  I would not have survived as a secretary without immediately proofreading to ensure accuracy.  Correcting with an eraser the original document and 4-5 carbons could ruin the entire day.

OK my 20 minutes are up.  I spent too much time writing, correcting, and re-writing the first assignment.  This is a problem.  Why can’t I randomly write without worry of creating the perfect final document.  At least, as perfect as I feel I am capable of producing.

 

 

Pain, Pain Go Away – Come Again Another Day

 Introduction

For more than fourteen years, I believed MY Pain had “Gone Away”.  But, in December 2013, the Pain decided to “Come Again Another Day”.  And, I started to experience both intermittent and continuous pain daily and nightlyThe levels ranged from “five” to “ten”  on the “standardized pain management scale.” 

pain-faces-web Why the Pain Came Back

This “pain flare-up” occurred when I quit taking the injectable drug, Methotrexate, to treat MY Rheumatoid Arthritis.    I injected the first dose in 1997 and once a week thereafter until it was discontinued in December 2013.

 Toward the end of November 2013, I was hospitalized for treatment of bronchitis. The pulmonologist performed a bronchoscopy procedure while I was in the hospital.  Several weeks after being released from the hospital, I followed up with the pulmonologist; and, he shared the results of the bronchoscopy procedure.  It showed scarring on MY lungs.  Prior to MY follow-up visit, the pulmonologist spoke with MY rheumatologist .  Both agreed, this newly diagnosed lung condition was due to the side effects of Methotrexate  I was told to immediately discontinue the medication.  They offered no options for alternative treatments.

When the Pain Came Back

Shortly after discontinuing the medication, the years of  living virtually pain-free ended.   I was in painI mean really, really severe pain.   I first went to see MY rheumatologist and followed up with a visit to MY primary care physician.

The rheumatologist increased my prednisone prescription from 5 to 7-½mg.  Several weeks passed with no pain relief; so, he increased the prednisone from 7-½ to10 mg.   Still there was no pain relief.  Finally, the rheumatologist prescribed Leflunomide, 20mg.  But, he cautioned it could take at least four weeks before I saw any improvements.  Could I live with this unbearable pain for four weeks?  No!!!!  I had to look elsewhere.

So, I went to see MY primary care physician for advice and to, specifically ask, if it was okay to take Vicodan.  I had eleven pills left from the thirty prescribed in February 2010; when I was discharged from the hospital after an extended stay for the treatment of epiglottitis.   He responded in a very patronizing voice, “stay away from pain medications they are not good for you.”

I couldn’t believe he said that!!!  Had he bothered to look at MY past medical records?  If he had taken the time, he would have noted that during MY more than 20 years as a chronic pain patient (other than the 2010 hospitalization);  I never received a prescription for an opioid/narcotic medication   When he offered no alternatives for dealing with the pain,  I knew it was time to step outside the box.

The Pain Goes Away

I reached out to  MY pain management doctor in Wisconsin.  She is fellowship-trained in pain management as well as board certified in both anesthesia and pain management.  I have been under her care for more than seventeen years.  I schedule follow-up visits at least 2-3 times a year when I return to Wisconsin.  Under her care, I had managed MY chronic pain without opioid medication and invasive procedures for more than seventeen years.  Through a multidisciplinary approach, working together, we developed a comprehensive, individualized treatment plan focusing on:  medication management, physical therapy, nutrition/diet, psychological counseling, and a variety of self management tools (exercise, mindfulness, diet/nutrition, sleeping habits, music, relaxation, distractions, etc).

On Tuesday, I telephoned her.  She listened to ME.  She empathized with ME.  She responded to MY needs.  She prescribed a non-narcotic pain medication to help ME.

I started taking it on Wednesday.  Today, Sunday, as I write this post; I am virtually pain-free.  I  am able to:

  • prepare meals,
  • perform housekeeping chores,
  • exercise at the YMCA
  • shop for groceries and flowers to plant, and
  • water and tidy up around our container flower garden.

images

Come Again Another Day

Since there is no known cure for chronic pain, I am certain it will return.  In the meantime, I will search for two new doctors in Florida.  Doctors who, I believe, have the capacity to understand and respond to the unique needs of a chronic pain patient.

“Few things a doctor does are more important than relieving pain… pain is soul destroying.  No patient should have to endure intense pain unnecessarily.   The quality of mercy is essential to the practice of medicine; here, of all places, it should not be strained.”  (Marcia Angell)

Be Still Day

“Learning how to Be Still, to really Be Still and let life happen — that stillness becomes a radiance.”  (Morgan Freeman)

Last Sunday, overwhelmed and anxious, I decided it was time for a Be Still Day!   On this day only calmness, peacefulness, and stillness could enter my “Personal Space.”  

IMG_1766

Is it difficult to Be Still?  Or is it, just me?  As a young child, Mama often had to remind me to stop fidgeting.   She would quietly, but firmly say, “Yvonne, Be Still.”   An impatient child, I fidgeted most when I was . . .

  • getting my hair combed;
  • doing homework;
  • sitting in church,
  • riding in a car, or
  • eating dinner.

IMG_2227

Had I learned to Be Still as a child, perhaps my adult life would have been less stressful.   Though, I stopped fidgeting after a while, to Be Still is yet a work in progress.

IMG_2244

More recently, my inability to Be Still correlates with an addiction to my I-Pad and MacBook Pro.  For this reason, venturing into cyberspace — banned on Be Still Day.  No surfing the Internet, reading e-mails, or entering blogosphere for me on Be Still Day.  

The Be Still Day was a success.  I needed this day of stillness, aloneness, meditation, inner focus, and spiritual enlightenment to cure a serious case of undernourishment.

For weeks leading up to the self-imposed Be Still Day, I didn’t nourish my mind, body and spirit.  Far too many “first time tasks” on a long “to do list.”   All related to:

  • A 53rd Anniversary Gift this month from Hubby and The Eldest Daughter; as well as
  • Preparing for The Daughters and 13-Year-Old Grandson’s Annual Week-Long Spring Visit

The anniversary gift was a “generous, though budgeted amount,” for a mini makeover of my kitchen and bathrooms.    Hubby and The Eldest Daughter offered to help.   My immediate response was, “I Got This.”   After all, I have been an avid follower of . . .

  • Home and Garden TV
  • Do It Yourself Network
  • Martha Stewart Living
  • Better Homes and Gardens
  • Real Simple
  • House and Home

Certainly, twenty years of devouring decorating magazines and countless hours of watching home makeover programs on television prepared me to handle a “mini makeover.” 

Feeling confident, I went to my trusted friend, The Internet, for ideas on tile, granite, sinks, faucets, and lighting.    Looking for contractors, plumbers, fabricators, installers, electricians, and painters; I  checked the telephone book, Angie’s List, Craig’s List as well as asking my neighbors.  Overwhelmed with all the options.  Unable to make a decision, I spent days analyzing, procrastinating and stressing outaccomplishing nothing.  

My inner voice shouted, “You need help.”   Putting pride aside, I called on the Hubby and The Eldest Daughter for help.   Working together, as a team, we completed all the tasks on the “to do list” in less than a week.   The last stage of the project, installing the backsplash tiles, is scheduled for completion by day’s end.

photo-19

I am a Survivor.  Living with a medical history of:

  • Breast Cancer,
  • Rheumatoid Arthritis,
  • Chronic Obstructive Pulmonary Disease;
  • Sleep Apnea;
  • Fibromyalgia, and
  • Peripheral Neuropathy

IMG_2172

The challenges I face, as a survivor, on any given day can be . . .

  • Fatigue
  • Sleeplessness
  • Weakened Immune System
  • Stressfulness
  • Chronic Pain
  • Cancer Re-Occurrence

IMG_1615

Oftentimes, I forget my survivor status and take on too much.  When this happens, the mind, body and spirit crash.   I can always count on Hubby and the Three Adult Kids to lift me up.   Ultimately, however, I am the survivor and it is my responsibility to make the right choices.

Since Be Still Day, upon arising every morning, I repeat my personal affirmation.

I am a survivor of Breast Cancer and Chronic Pain.   I claim, accept and embrace this life.  Today, I am grateful for the opportunity to follow my path toward a healthy mind, body, and spirit.  My Survivorship is Dependent Upon My Emotional, Mental and Physical Health. (SeasonedSistah 2)