The owls and the possums know me by heart.
As the sun sleeps, we mingle
over Earl Gray,
an occasional ice pack,
and assorted bits of cat food, laced with white, organic tortilla chips.
I wait for their coming like a poppy for sun:
eyes pressed to the window,
“Pick up your pencil!”
cutting through two-years of resignation.
“Find the paper.
“I cannot d-r-a-w,”
“My pencil's worn.
My sharpener broken.”
“Then you must claw,
or find new tools,”
“Because the world
for your mark.”
In the words of Ze Frank,
here's to anyone s-t-u-c-k between zero and one.
--PSSST....View with care. This video, though AMAZING, uses colorful language.--
Happy NEW Year!!!
Tags: 2013, An Invocation for Beginnings, chronic illness, collage art, inspiring, Kathy Tagudin, Let me remember that my courage is a wild dog, mixed media, motivation, New Years Resolutions, stuck between zero and one, Ze Frank
Lately, I can't help but notice all of the energy being directed at what's wrong with the world. A dog being choked by its owner, a political conspiracy, another death--unspeakable things darken my news feeds.
It leaves me breathless. It leaves me groping in midnight for the tiniest spark, which, depending on the day, may light the way, or burn down the whole effing building with everyone in it.
Unknowingly, I've been a part of THIS.
I've been a part of the world that roots for no possibility.
I didn't do it intentionally.
I did it because I got caught up....in the strain of the moment...in the feeling that THIS is not right...in the belief that THIS--whatever THIS is--MUST be acknowledged. Otherwise, my life, my pain, or my experience somehow will not matter.
THIS has consumed me.
THIS has also made me irresponsible.
For nearly two years, I've felt THIS so deeply, that the thought of NOT feeling THIS and NOT discussing THIS has become unfathomable.
"How can I express me, without expressing THIS?" I've questioned....day after day after day.
"You can, if you choose to." My heart finally answered.
So, there it is, after four-months of silence, finally, something to say:
Other things have happened, but I choose to focus on THIS.
just for the moment...
I am part
of the solution.
What inspired THIS?
Fiona Apple's Words of Wisdom (scroll down to read the content)
Potato Chip Dealers and Stolen Kisses
The Movie You Should Buy If You Think the Best Days of Your Life are Behind You
Which led to re-watching THESE...
My dog Betsy has 12 hours to live. She's blissfully unaware, lying on the cool, kitchen tile. I am in my brown, corduroy-covered La-Z-Boy, under a blanket, crying.
For three days, we've watched her disappear: releasing urine in the hallway after she'd just been outside, burrowing behind and knocking over of a side table in the bedroom, having scary uncontrollable seizures at 6:00 in the morning. Today, she's bouncing in and out of it. Between seizures, confusion, gentle kisses, and falling into the wall, somewhere is my best friend...the one I fell in love with 12 years ago...
"Bup-ba" (as I like to call her) is mostly gone now.
Cancer, 14-years of living, and potentially Lyme have taken their toll.
In her place, a strange impostor who stares glassy-eyed into the distance.
There is no scale large enough to weigh the lump in my throat.
For the last two years, her nuzzles kept me breathing. And the thought of life without her prances, scratches at the door, snoring, or excitement feels unbearable.
In this moment, everything's surreal: she's fussing with her bed, getting a drink of water, giving me little snippets of love. A few minutes ago, she was pacing uncontrollably, licking the floor...panicked.
Her tail has not wagged once today.
There is nothing "right" about such a difficult decision.
The are bright spots: she'll be at peace, she won't suffer, the emotional toll of making sure she's ok will be lifted. Still, the dark spots are heavy: guilt, doubt, upset, pain.
I love you, Betsy, and can't thank you enough for all you've given me. For 12 years, you've kept your end of the bargain. Now, reluctantly, I'm going to keep mine.
Here's to one last car ride and walk around the block....
Art by Jim Benton
A conversation with a friend:
"Kathy, I read your blog post and, honestly, it was kind of depressing. Don't you think you'd feel better if you focused on good stuff?"
The short answer...YES.
The more complicated answer...NO.
For 20 minutes, I tried to explain it....what it's like being shuffled from specialist to specialist, how my blog is an accumulation of emotions/thoughts/experiences, the sheer frustration of consulting with 21 doctors in nearly two years, how sometimes I just need to vent.
He got it (and was totally respectful).
He was also confused...
Didn't I recently say my energy was improving???!?!?
Hadn't I just had a "good" day with a friend???
Am I not doing better than I was a year ago?????
"Getting better" is tricky with chronic illness.
Every time someone asks "Are you better?" I'm conflicted.
Better than WHAT??? I think.
Better than when I couldn't get out of bed and feed myself? Yes.
Better than when I had to wear sunglasses and earplugs to watch a movie? Certainly.
Better than when I would fall over from pain in the gym/living room/grocery store? Amen.
Better than when I'd sit in a dark room with a migraine all day and cry? True.
Better than when I couldn't walk to the car without resting? Definitely.
That's the funny thing about better; the bar keeps moving.
When you have no energy, all you want is to be able to make it through the day without napping.
When you make it through the day without napping, all you want is to have enough energy to wash your hair, unload the dishwasher, go to the grocery store, and get through the day without some bizarre symptom.
That's still not happening.
This morning, I was jarred awake feeling like the left side of my head was being stabbed with an ice pick.
Last week, half of my face and legs went numb.
The week before, my left hand couldn't hold a fork.
Last night, I had two unexplained shaking/convulsing moments.
Daily, my body is burning and aching.
In between, there are glimpses of better: the absence of a leg ache after I've taken a muscle relaxer, an amazing burst of energy following a new Artemisinin protocol, the day only my right hip hurts vs. my right hip, my hand, my left arm, and my head.
But am I B-E-T-T-E-R? Like sustainably better???
Not in the way I'd like to be.
I'm not trying to sound negative, or victimy, or hopeless. Just trying to share my experience, let others know they are not alone, and tell the truth (as I see it) about Lyme disease and chronic illness.
Some days are good.
Some days are bad.
Some days are intolerable.
When the first category outweighs the second and third,
then we can talk about better.
Disclaimer to those who don't read this blog frequently: This blog post represents a glimpse into my life with lyme disease: an on line diary of sorts. It does NOT represent the sum total of who I am as a person. By the time you read this, I might be feeling better or worse. I might be having a good day or bad. I might be smiling. I might be crying under the covers. I write about what moves me, what inspires me, and what I struggle with....on a day to day basis. Lyme is a very up and down and journey. I try to include all of it.
I don't want to do this anymore.
That's the main thought going through my head today. Over the past couple of months, I've seen a Chiropractor, Acupunturist, Neurologist, Lyme Literate Medical Doctor, Rheumatologist, Neurosurgeon, Dermatologist, and Orthopedic surgeon.
I'm still hurting.
I have slipped discs in my neck.
Bone spurs in my cervical spine.
I'm shaking/convulsing uncontrollably in my sleep (sometimes when I'm awake).
My body burns and aches.
My left arm's losing strength.
My face has cystic acne.
My hip hurts.
I'm becoming numb (literally and figuratively).
And, yes, unless you're a Neurosurgeon trained to look for Ptosis, I LOOK totally normal.
On the outside, people see a girl...a disheveled, tired-looking girl, but one who can walk, talk, laugh, and function.
Behind the scenes, life looks like this...
EEG's show no signs of seizure.
Sleep studies, per my doctor, are "unremarkable," but show disrupted sleep cycles.
MRI's are troubling, but not worth surgery.
Nerve conduction tests show nerve damage, but no one quite understands why.
I am being referred to specialist after specialist after specialist.
No one seems to have the desire and/or skill set to help me.
I WANT to tell you life is moving.
I AM moving.
I AM getting better.
Mostly, it FEELS LIKE I am on the losing end of a Monopoly Game: surviving the board, losing my houses, and dreading my next roll of the dice.
To stay sane, I try to focus on other things.
Time with my hubby:
-Insert other things as pain and energy allow -HERE-
Sadly, I think I'm developing a strong case of Fukitol.
Too tired to fight...too sick to care.
Is there ever an end to this?
I'm beginning to wonder.
"Would you tell me, please, which way I ought to go from here?"
"That depends a good deal on where you want to get to," said the Cat.
"I don’t much care where--" said Alice.
"Then it doesn’t matter which way you go," said the Cat.
"--so long as I get SOMEWHERE," Alice added as an explanation.
"Oh, you’re sure to do that," said the Cat, "if you only walk long enough."
(Alice's Adventures in Wonderland, Chapter 6)
As I write this, I am surrounded by magazines...FAT, juicy, stylish magazines with cover shots of fresh oranges, skinny waists, and famous celebrities.
Break Your Bad Habits! --one screams.
Fresh Start! --says another.
Start the New Year Bright!--beckons my favorite.
They're all different, but hopelessly the same: tuned in to my desperate need to improve, conquer, elevate, and perform.
Each January, I plunge into the abyss...usually driven by something ridiculous, worthy, or unreachable.
One year, I was determined to wear size 3 Ann Taylor Loft jeans.
Another, I vowed to write every day.
Another, I took on making a certain amount of money during a certain period of time.
Last year, I launched operation "Get healthy and document it."
I also succeeded.
When I started writing this post in January, I had very specific reasons:
1. To let you know I was going to be quiet for a while.
2. To declare 2012 the year of "Being" not "Doing."
3. To create some semblance of a normal life...away from message boards, computers, and 24/7 Lyme Disease.
The choice was purposeful.
Inspired by this post, by Shauna James Ahern (aka: Glute-Free Girl), I was tired...
Tired of observing...not living.
Tired of discussing tests, doctors, and medications.
Tired of trying to make the best of, or shed light on, an exhausting situation.
Tired of sharing more with strangers on the internet than with my friends or husband.
There's a lot I could discuss about my health:
Partly, as Shauna puts it, for survival.
Mostly, to make space....
for what I need
what I want
for the me that's quietly bubbling up to the surface.
More than ever,
I miss life.
I miss creativity.
I miss participation.
I miss normalcy.
I miss generating some-thing and no-thing.
(and having the energy to do it)
For a while, this blog filled that space.
there's this gap.
Only, instead of rushing to fill it,
I've been listening...
It's not easy--folding life into pain.
Despite deep discomfort, or perhaps because of it, I ache to create, express, and contribute.
How to do that when my body runs like a Ford Pinto being held together by duct tape?
That's another question.
Don't worry. I'm ok.
(or, as ok as I can be...Ford Pinto and all).
striving to l-i-v-e
(instead of exist),
mostly about this...
A strange thought for a girl obsessed with altering....
Tags: Alice In Wonderland, Chronic Illness, Citrobacter, Diagnosing, Gluten-Free Girl, How to Get Rid of Parasites, Life With Lyme Disease, Living With Lyme Disease, Lyme Disease, MS, New Years Resolution, Parasites, Shuddering in Sleep
I'll admit it; I'm a chicken. For 20 minutes, I've been quivering, holding my meticulously clean thigh with my blue-gloved hand, staring at a needle.
"It's just like darts," I rationalize.
"You can do this."
"It's just a pinch."
Even in the most logical scenarios, THIS isn't happening.
"What if this could save your life?"
"What if you were on a desert island?"
"You get shots all of the time. You're fine with it."
(That's because I'm not giving them).
Without blinking, a zillion different thoughts run through my head:
Bravely, I think of my favorite Lyme nurse and channel her.
Deep breath in.
Predictably, the needle hits my thigh and bounces back.
It's like a cruel staring contest.
You can guess who won.
Determined, I pick up the phone and text a friend I haven't seen since September.
"Are you home? I need a nurse favor."
Luckily, she's willing to make house calls for just such an "emergency."
Hours later, she's here...smiling, willing, happy to help.
That's definitely been missing.
Thank you Cathy for reminding me:
Just because I have to do it, doesn't mean I have to do it alone.
Altered Today: Remembering I have people who want to support me.
PS If you'd like to learn how to give yourself intramuscular Methylated B-12 shots, there's a great tutorial here. To learn how to give subcutaneous injections, go here. To adopt your own nurse (a smart investment, in my opinion), go here .
FYI: Some doctors prefer intramuscular B-12 injections and some prefer subcutaneous B-12 injections. To find out what type of injection is right for you (and the best way to deliver it), ask your doctor.
Tags: B12, Best Way, Chronically Ill, How To Give a B-12 Injection, How To Give Yourself B-12 Injections, Methyl B-12, More Effective, Self-Injection, Shot, Subcutaneous B-12 Injections Are Better, Subcutaneous vs. Intramuscular B-12 Injections, Teamwork, Wimping Out
Do you hate me?
Have a new disease/infection/pain for my body?
Doubt I'm sick?
Challenge me to my very core?
I am grateful.
YOU are my teacher.
YOU are making me strong.
YOU are causing me to appreciate.
Your lessons are my presents.
How I use them is my gift to the world.
A sacred illness is one that educates us and alters us from the inside out,
provides experiences and therefore knowledge that we could not possibly achieve in any other way,
and aligns us with a life path that is, ultimately, of benefit to ourselves and those around us.
~ Deena Metzge
Imagine, you're outside walking down the sidewalk.
The sun is shining.
The birds are singing.
The air is fresh.
And YOU are completely aware life is a gift and a miracle to be treasured.
Then, suddenly, without warning, you stub your toe
...not a small stub either.
A BIG stub...
like your toe is broken.
You no longer appreciate the sun
or the breeze
or the beauty.
You know they're there,
but the toe gets all of your attention (as it should).
But, for how long?
That's the question.
That is my summation of how Mark Nepo describes life with chronic pain/illness. As a cancer survivor, Mark reflects on his journey in The Book of Awakening which was recently featured on Oprah's Super Soul Sunday. He also recently suffered from a mysterious stomach illness that had him reeling in agony from even the smallest bite of food.
According to Mark:
Each of us are ancient flutes made out bones.
Our holes, hollowed out by pain, create beautiful music.
Still, being hollowed out is never fun in the process.
"Were you afraid to die?" asked Oprah.
"I was afraid to live." replied Mark.
Fear is all consuming with chronic illness...he reminds.
We're afraid of the past...going back to the hospital, being bedridden again, re-visiting old symptoms.
We're afraid of the present...having an "attack," not being able to handle an "attack," being misunderstood, being judged, doing too much, not doing enough.
We're afraid of the future...What's going to happen to us? Is there an end to the suffering? Will life ever be somewhat normal again?
Yes. That sums it up exactly.
How do you overcome/alter that experience?
I'll let Mark speak for himself on that one (well worth the few minutes to watch). In the meantime, I hope this helps your pain becomes a little more "right-sized."
I know it did mine.