Missing Many of Life's Amazing Things ... through the Eyes of an Autoimmune Patient



Memories of What The Past Life meant back then, and How to “begin” Anew Once Your Life has been totally turned upside down and pulled inside out…

I started writing this yesterday evening. Then I worked on it some this morning. I have a great deal to add. But, I am in the middle of having the Flu. I woke up yesterday morning with the worst headache, even worse than any migraine... and my entire body from head to toe hurt and ached. I knew I had to been running a fever, thus I was. It started at 99 degrees, and quickly began to rise even after aspirin, Tylenol.... it was already up to almost 101 by the time I decided what to do. First I called my PCP. But was on hold at least 20 minutes with them. Thus even though I did get to leave a message for my doctor, I knew he would probably need to see me. The last thing already figuring I have the Flu, and then my Autoimmune system compromised.... I decided as badly as I felt to go to our local Urgent Care Center. So, I did. Thankfully when I arrived hardly no one was there and I got into see the doctor quickly. He did verify I have the flu. I got the Tamiflu script and he told me to be prepared for a horrible cough to come. So, he gave me cough medication to be prepared for that. Anyway, I wanted to at least get this much posted... and I promise when I am feeling better to finish it.... but here is the beginning of just how much your life changes when an autoimmune or chronic pain or illness comes along...


I had this come to mind yesterday afternoon. I was doing something in the kitchen and I got to thinking about just HOW MUCH life has changed within the past 20 years. Some of those things are okay to gone and blown into the 4 winds. Some although, have created turmoil in our lives, and honestly it scares the hell out of me.


When I think back just 10 years ago, Jim and I had first met, in 2003, on a Memorial Day Weekend. I was searching at that time for the “one” special person in my life that I could share everything with. I actually went to Seattle thinking I had found him. Yet, that relationship was never meant to last. As I’ve seen and felt now, I realized that relationship was never really meant to be. It was more of a stepping stone to get me out of Texas, out of the horror of Domestic Violence that had been dragging me into the black hole of no where. I needed a drastic change in order to get my own life back, to get a new perspective on life, and a new, The ”odd”  part of it all, is I went not truly prepared as far as my clothing, my attire was more for a lighter cold, and not a heavier cold weather. Fortunately, the weather was fairly nice at that time of the year (I had arrived in Seattle at 8:00 pm Halloween Night 2001).

I think back on the times even before Seattle, before the Autoimmune Illnesses began to rear their ugly heads. Those days are for the most part all gone. The years I could decorate my entire home for Christmas. From the kitchen, bedroom, to the living room, kids rooms, bathrooms and even outside the house. Everything was in a “Kris Kringle” theme. I was always so Christmas oriented, and I never wanted it any other way. That was just one piece o the puzzle of life, that always seemed to make sense. 

Never back then did I ever give a thought that life would be “different” and that I would not be in a situation that I could no longer do so many of my daily living activities that I had become accustomed to over the years. I had a few instances that due to Migraines I was to bow out and not attend a few things. Yet, never would I have dreamed within 10 short years, I would never be able to do so many of the things I loved to do again. But, it had and had happened.

I can’t blame it on anyone or anything, I’ve just fallen into a realm of life, that has robbed me of the beautiful things I used to be able do. This is an insight as to just how much my life, as well as many others lives, have changed from the bottom to the top in so many different ways. We don’t even realize how many things are never the same. I think we become so complacent in some ways, while our concentration then goes to other places where we never had to go. For instance, new doctors, all of the different diagnosis, medications, what we can do with diet, exercise, different and alternative ways to help ourselves feel better. I think for me I went into the “untrue” mode. I refused to believe I had a chronic illness or illnesses that would take my life and flip it all around. Then for many, we go from doctor to doctor, fighting insurance companies to pay, finding out some doctors that we think “should know” about our illnesses do not. Physicians had so “specialized” themselves to the point that one Rheumatologist may deal with RA, but not really treat Lupus. Another may deal with Lupus, but not really deal with MS. Multiple Sclerosis in itself a strange disorder. It is more of an “autoimmune illnesses that harms the nerve endings” thus often time a certain type of Neurologist maybe the doctor to see. Yet again some Neurologists know little or do not really treat MS. So, it can be an extremely frustrating, trying, wanting to give up time that will actually take YEARS in many cases to get the “right” physician, who knows the correct information, and can properly give you a diagnosis, that ultimately can then be addressed and treated.

So, a couple of days ago, I got to thinking about the “little everyday things” I no longer do. The list continues to get longer and longer. I no longer cook as much from “scratch” as I used to. Baking has always been one of my favorite things to do. An example is just about every year since we moved here in this house, I have made home made pumpkin, date, banana breads and more. Then one year I actually made “mini-loaves” of fresh home made baked bread right out of the oven. It turned out so beautifully. I also make sugar cookies, cut out and decorated, fruitcake from my own “family” recipe, fudge, sometimes peanut brittle, cookies with the kisses in the middle, and more. We always wrapped it all up individually in decorated plastic wrap, then made a “Christmas Sack” for each of our 5 closest neighbors. I was a highlight of our holiday. I spent weeks and weeks baking and cooking hand and home made everything.

This year things are so just under the radar of holidays, that we probably not give anything to the neighbors, if so it will be only a few slices of fruitcake. I’ve not made any of the breads, the cookies I am not sure if I will feel like it, especially now since I have the flu! I don’t do as much baking from scratch at all, but have had to go to boxed cake mixes and store bought frosting. Cookie mixes rather than me put them together myself, and same way with pies. I often buy the “canned” fruit, or creme - like key lime or lemon, then I do make a crumb topping for them. So, that is just one of the many things, I no longer am really able to do. Either fatigue, or being so slow at everything, or being in pain, or feeling ill… even my own “daily home” cooking has fallen below “home made” which is NOT good because everything is full of salt, sugar, even the “light”, “low fat”   or low carb stuff tends to be not that healthy at all,

I used to mow my lawn, and do all of the yard work. From planting, to gardening, to flower beds, and house plants, I did it all. Now I do well to half way rake up leaves, a couple cans at a time, and forget the mowing, weed eating, and even trying to hoe is very difficult for me.

I can no longer wear my 5, 6, and 7 inch platforms heels. I have loved those so much even before they became all the rage again in the last couple of years. I have 3 pairs of very high heeled platforms that I totally dream of wearing again. When i go into the shoe store it almost makes me sick to see all of the incredible high heels and platforms. yet I cannot even attempt
to think about wearing them out in the public. I would certainly now fall, due to my artificial knees, and taking a chance of a fall, just is not appealing when I have “severe osteoporosis”.    

Of course no snow skiing which was my biggest thrill. I can still somewhat play the keyboard, piano, and I can still band around a short while on the drums but not for long.

Some things I can do, but it takes me 20 times longer than it used to. If I am getting dressed to go out somewhere special I must start at least 4 hours early if not more. I am then lucky if I am ready on time, Even typing this, of course I also have the flu at this point, but my wrists, thumbs, hands and fingers are beginning to hurt and become too stiff to type. The brain fog hinders what used to be a mind that could spin around in 15 directions all at once, and I could multi-task and get them all done and feel wonderful as I did them. I miss college classes. I miss being able to walk 5 or even 10 miles a day. I miss traveling, vacationing, heading out for a weekend  get away.

I get sick of planning a day around being sick. I hate getting up and never knowing if I will feel “okay” or horrible that day. I am pissed that I can’t do things like put up my light fixtures, finish mudding the bathroom walls, painting the outside of the house, laying my flooring in my bathroom and kitchen and all of the DIY things I used to do on a daily basis, never giving a thought that I may not be able to do the little things, like get flowers for Christmas out to Dad’s and my Grandparents Graves. By now I would have Dad’s Tree out there all decorated… and Poinsetta’s for my Grandparents.

Sometimes it is difficult for me to type, to write, and to clip coupons. My hands don’t seem to work as well, and neither does my brain. I FEAR that if I don’t write my books (the next 2) very soon, I may lose the “brain power” wording, spelling, and aptitude it takes to write a book and get it published.

There are days that even the simplest words seem impossible to spell. Maybe the simplest sentence I have problems with finishing properly. I am one to NOT use the same word over and over again. But, without the Thesaurus, I would never have the brain as I used to have that remembered everything, no matter how large or small it was. Days I lose that ability to find them within my own thinking.  I used to be a grand speller. I had 100’s on every spelling test and then I won many spelling contests because I was so great as a speller. People cam and asked me how to spell a certain word, and used to I could rattle it off without hesitating.

Being able to learn new things. That was my forte’. Any and everything I didn’t know something about, and was interested, I wanted to learn. And, I did. Whether it was flying a plane, or knowing how one flies was remarkable to me. Even my “Annual Christmas Letter” that was usually all decorated with a border and colors for the typing, got left with me printing the letter on regular paper, in black and white, with no border. It was too much this year for me to deal with and I knew I needed to get the cards out before it was too late!                                                                                                     




More to come......

And thus it continues... the brain fog is so bad, I forgot I had already posted part of this... so here is more.....

Even at this, I am almost feeling like I got "off topic" of what I wanted to say... but I shall post this next installment....

It continues to be the “little” things I had enjoyed so much in my years before I became chronically ill. I was able to do just about everything from going to college full time at night, working full time, taking care of my two kids, a home, a mortgage, car payments, and everything that goes along with those things.

The day that I knew for certain I would no longer be able to hold down a full time job anymore, was on of the most depressing, the saddest, the fearful, time of my life. I had no idea how I would make it in Seattle. Jim and I had already met, but he was living with a friend over by Lake Washington, he had a full time job, that actually was knocked to part time, so he had his own portion of rent and bills to pay. I was very leery of anything at that time…. from even thinking about Jim and I, we had just really met, to finding another at least part time job. I had rent monthly, and a car payment monthly, plus my bills which were not that bad with just me. So, I looked actively for a job daily, from the paper, online, asking around, and even went for a couple of interviews both at banks. Both seemed like great positions, but they also seemed very stressful, and it would mean me working MORE hours that I already had been working, which was one reason I got ill in the first place. So, I was offered both, but turned them down graciously. This was about time my lease for my apartment would be coming up. I knew that the woman above us was not thrilled with our TV (which was a 16 inch tiny TV with an antenna inside, or she would gripe if we smoked outside on the deck… said she could smell it… well there were lots of wooded areas, and honestly I think she was just jealous that I had found someone that was coming over fairly often. Anyway, the problem was my own next door neighbor. He was the one with the very loud music and television. But I knew I needed to go and not sign into another year’s lease. So, when it came time to make a decision, I decided to take my stuff, and move in with Jim and his room mate. It seemed “smart” and cheaper at the time. We did have some beautiful memories of Lake Washington, and it was an incredible several months we spent there before we decided it was more than time to move out and find our own place. We did just that. We moved just North of Seattle into Everett. Smart move, loved our apartments and the manager was such a sweetheart….

 It seems from there things began to look brighter… and then in 2005 March, Easter Sunday, I lost my Dad to a brain infection from a knee surgery that just never turned out right. He had that surgery on Feb 15th 2005 my birthday. So, there is always mixed emotions when I try to celebrate.

We found ourselves going ahead with our marriage plans in Vegas about 10 days after going back to Seattle, for I knew Dad would have wanted it that way. Then we also knew it was only a matter of time, and I would need to be back in Texas, close to my Mom. Being an only child, and my Dad took care of everything, Mom was not even able to put gas in her car.

At the time, I had already hired an attorney, and was in the process of my 2nd appeal for my Disability, Social Security benefits. After a short time in California, for a job Jim got that was not working out, we loaded up the U-Haul once again, and headed for Texas. We had no clue what we were going to do when we got there, but we knew we had to come back. So on December 19th, 2005 we arrived in Ennis Texas. I had already checked on apartments, so luckily we got into one just a couple of days after arriving. They were so nice and hurried to clean it, touch it up and laid new carpet. So, we celebrated that Christmas in Ennis. Actually both of my kids, and my two Grand children got to come up and we had Christmas at our apartment. We had bought the very last “real” Christmas tree in town, and it was scrawny but we decorated it, and it turned out beautiful.

We spent a year there, and in about August 2006, I got word I would need to make a trip to Seattle for my “hearing” for my disability. We flew back, not knowing what to expect, and when we left I did not know for sure if I had “won” my case or not. It might be a month before the judge sent me the letter. But, I could tell from his comments in the hearing that he probably would give me a favorable outcome. Thus about 5 weeks later, I got my letter saying I did get my full disability and they paid me retroactively back from 2004, so I got a fairly good sized check. We looked for a house, small, but something we could work on, yet not too much work, and thus we found our house in December 2006, and got to move in after much DIY renovations, paint, redoing floors, and so forth, at the end of January 2007.

My disability then meant I had Medicare. I took a Medicare Advantage Plan, and then the real fun began. I had 8 surgeries in  2007 alone. Two total knee replacements, a shoulder replacement, wrist surgery, bladder surgery, my other shoulder had been scoped, and my hips injected a couple of times. My left elbow had surgery, and the right one was giving me issues, but I was fortunate enough that my right elbow and so far both hips have been able to stay together enough that the corticosteroid injections have kept me from having surgery.

In 2009, I went to a new PCP (Family doctor) that after a couple of months of seeing me, did a great deal of blood work. I had even mentioned Lupus, RA, or some other type of autoimmune disorder. He thought so also, thus the blood work came back showing I was positive for probably Lupus, RA, and later confirmed I had Sjogren’s and Raynauds.

After those diagnosis, things went nuts from there. Rheumatologists, several that really were not specializing in my type of issues. The pain had already sent me to a pain doctor, who was treating me for the chronic pain, migraines and all of the pain that went along with the AI illnesses. In 2010, he made the decision I needed an “internal pain pump” to try and get my pain more under control. So, October 2010 I underwent yet another surgery, having it put in.

All of that and more are why my heart breaks when I watch someone on Television skiing down a slope full of white powdery snow. Or, when I don’t feel well enough to go out to the store, or to even sit here and type. The brain fog causes me all kind of issues, from having to make list after list …. Even writing this, I did not recall that I had already posted a portion of it on my blog….
                                                                                              



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