Learning & Moving Forward

The last 5 years have been extremely trying. I’ve had to deal with more than I ever imagined I would, and at times thought it would never get better. I spent hours upon hours upon hours crying my eyes out. I have felt helpless, and hopeless. I’ve felt anger and sadness. I’ve suffered through many panic attacks and raging depression. After a couple years trying to pull myself up with not much success, I began seeing a therapist. With her help, I learned a lot about myself, and other people.

My therapist has helped me make sense of much of what I was feeling. With her guidance, and my hard work to meet her challenges, I can finally say that my life is getting back on track. I don’t think I could have done it without her help. You may think these things are a “no brainer” but when you have been raised a certain way, treated a certain way, and had to deal with so many issues, it tends to overwhelm a person!! You sometimes lose yourself while trying to process things, and some things are shoved under the rug because they are too hard to deal with.

Some of the things I have learned along the way are:

*I have learned that the guilt and shame that I carried for so long, was NOT mine to carry. I am not responsible for the actions of others, and I have made peace with events of the past.

*I have learned to set limits and create boundaries. Just as I don’t allow just anyone to come into my house, I cannot allow just anyone to enter my mind, and my life and drain me of my energy or place unwanted expectations on me. I do not have to allow negativity from others to bring me down. I do NOT have to engage in their drama.

*I have been a caregiver for all of my adult life. I have always put everyone else’s needs above my own. I put my needs on the back burner, thinking they were not important. I have learned that it’s not selfish for me to take care of ME! My needs are just as important as anyone else’s!

*I am a logical thinker. I’ve learned that if I can’t make sense of something, in my mind it’s hogwash. I get along with those who are like-minded. I don’t mix well with people who do not think for themselves. I don’t understand people who follow anything blindly.

*I’ve learned that there are certain people whom I cannot help simply because they won’t help themselves. I can’t keep throwing them a rope and letting them pull ME under! Some people are emotional vampires, draining you of all the energy you have. It’s ok to take a step back (or several) and protect yourself! I know I don’t have to let them drain me anymore! (This goes back to setting limits and creating boundaries, as mentioned earlier in this post.)

*I’ve learned that my thoughts, my opinions are just as important as anyone else’s. All through my childhood, my mother stifled me. I was ridiculed for voicing my opinion, for asking questions, and for asking for what I needed for ME. I may still keep my mouth shut at times (because even though I have the right to say it, doesn’t mean I should) but I no longer let the fear of what others think, keep me from using my voice.

*I’ve learned that I can forgive myself for the mistakes I’ve made in my life. We aren’t handed an instruction book when we first venture out on our own, when we enter a new relationship, or when we begin having children. We have no clue how to do it, but yet we figure it out along the way! We make mistakes. Sometimes the mistakes are small and sometimes they are huge, but we learn as we go and we have to forgive ourselves for the mistakes we have made or we will drown in the “shoulda-woulda-coulda” mentality.

*I’ve learned that others will never understand my chronic pain if they have never experienced chronic pain themselves. I can explain until my head explodes but they won’t understand that I can’t do the things they think I should be able to do. They don’t SEE anything wrong with me, so they think I’m just lazy. They can’t see how tired I am, how much I hurt, or that I’d just like to crawl in a cave and never come out again. I don’t have to explain anymore. I’m good with whatever they think about me. I just pray that they never have to experience chronic pain themselves! (If you need to understand chronic pain, a good place to start is with “The Spoon Theory.” Google it. There is no better way to understand than this.)

And last, and I am definitely not finished learning….

*I’ve learned that you just can’t fix stupid!! I get so irritated with people doing stupid and inconsiderate things that I could just pull my hair out! I am still working on this one, but I’m getting better at just letting it go!! I let things get to me too easily sometimes. It seriously affects my mood when someone pulls out in front of me on a busy road, or when someone zips through a parking lot right behind me, even though I’m already half way out of my parking spot, or when a group of people are having a “reunion” of sorts in the store blocking the entire width of the aisle. When you approach, they turn and see you but still make no effort to move over so you can pass through! UGH. I could go on and on….. These things aggravate me to no end. I always try to be courteous and watch for others around me when I’m out and about. I know they have things to do just as I do. So, why don’t they behave the same way?

All in all, my life may be a bit difficult but I am moving forward. I continue to see my therapist and work on my issues. I use to think “I will never see a shrink because I can’t talk to a stranger about personal things! That’s what friends and family are for!” Well, I was wrong for thinking this way. Yes, it’s good to talk to friends and family but some things are too deep and personal to share with them! Sometimes, a complete stranger can see things more clearly. A trained therapist can actually help you figure things out!

My Ordeal – Part Two

If you haven’t read Part One, you can find it here: https://echo11am.wordpress.com/2015/07/11/my-ordeal/

Last month, I realized my appointment for the second EGD/Colonoscopy was coming up! Immediately, I started to worry. My anxiety level went up. I started obsessing over what was going to happen. I was having some digestive issues for months and I started to wonder if there really was something wrong with me. Could my doctor have been right all along?

I Googled my symptoms – bad idea – and thought I might have Crohn’s or Celiac. Maybe it was Ulcerative Colitis or Diverticulitis. The information I found was telling me that many people don’t have symptoms or maybe just one. I kept going around and around with my thoughts. I was arguing with myself. I was no longer having low iron issues. I hadn’t been retested BUT I was no longer experiencing extreme fatigue or insomnia. My diet had improved since my hernia repair surgery and I had stopped taking the iron supplements. If I had blood loss inside, as my doc said was a possibility, wouldn’t I still be extremely fatigued on a daily basis, especially since I stopped the iron supplement? Then I thought of the dreaded “C” word. I prayed every night for weeks, “Please God, don’t let it be cancer. Let it be anything else, but not cancer.” All the research I did, all the talking to myself, all the worrisome thoughts I had, did me no good at all. I had myself worked up into a frenzy by the time the procedure date came!

When the hospital contacted me for registration/admit information, I was instructed not to take my pain medication. Here we go again! I told the woman I had already spoken with the doctor and he said I could take it. She argued with me. “Oh no, ma’am. You can’t take that medication. It’s an NSAID.” I told her, “I know what it is and I already talked to the doctor about it. He told me I could take it. In fact, I had just a few days prior to this called him and verified that as fact.” This went on for a good ten minutes. I told her to call him and ask him herself! She said, “We aren’t allowed to do that ma’am. You will need to contact him personally and verify.” I was getting a little – ok a LOT aggravated – and I said firmly and probably a little too loudly, “I already have!” She dropped it and we went on with the registration/admit process. Thanks for adding to my anxiety, you argumentative twit.

Procedure day came. Stressed and ready to run, we headed on to my appointment. I knew they were going to put me completely under. I had had my surgery just a few months ago and didn’t have a problem with anesthesia. I shouldn’t be worried about this! The nurses were nice and tried to make me comfortable. They assured me it was going to be fine. That’s what they said the last time and look what happened!

Another nurse came in and proceeded to tell me about the “twilight” drug. I screamed inside my head. I told her right away that I was going to be put completely under with anesthesia. She argued with me. I told her I wanted to talk to the doctor. I also told her, “If they are planning on using the “twilight” drug then I am leaving!” She told me the doctor probably won’t see me before the procedure but I can talk to the anesthesiologist. Better than nothing, I suppose. I don’t have to do this, I kept telling myself.

After they took me to the holding area, the doctor DID come in to talk with me! Boy! Was I relieved! He said he remembered my case well and he told me that I was going to be completely asleep. I told him that I needed some assurance that if I wasn’t completely asleep, if I woke up, or if I cried out then he would stop immediately! He said he would definitely stop but he didn’t think we would have any issues. I explained how traumatic it was for me the last time. He understood. Whew!

The anesthesiologist came in next, and I verified again that he was going to put me completely under. I wasn’t going to chance that they were both on the same page!! Thankfully, they were on the same page, and then they rolled me to the procedure room. I’m still screaming inside! I’m scratching from the inside out, trying to find a way out of this! I couldn’t believe I was willingly going to let them do this to me again!! 

It wasn’t long before my lights went out. Thank goodness! I’m not really sure how long it took. I lost track of all time. I woke up coughing, coughing, coughing. I didn’t think I would ever stop. It took awhile to get that ‘stuff’ out of my lungs! Oh, and the gas! The wonderfully loud flatulence you get afterward! (They have to pump air into your colon so they can see better!) I really didn’t care how loud I was. They did this to me, they can suffer the consequences!! 

They took me back to my room after I was completely awake and aware. I was relieved that this was finally OVER! I wondered how I got a bit upper lip though. Curious. It was puffy and hurt like hell. If that was the only damage, then I was ok with that! But, I hadn’t asked about the results. I was afraid to ask. Should I ask? Dad was there and I knew the doctor had talked to him afterward. I had to ask him what they found, as scared as I was to know. Just as long as it’s not cancer!! I finally got the courage to ask. Dad told me the doctor said he didn’t find anything whatsoever! Not even one single polyp! Most people my age usually have a couple polyps. Not me! No biopsy had to be done. No cancer, no colitis, no diverticulitis, no Crohn’s, no Celiac. No inflammation. No bacteria. You know that part of me that was scratching from the inside out trying to find a way out of this? I was now jumping for joy as if I was on a trampoline!! Now, where’s my clothes? I’m going home and you can’t stop me!

I slept like a happy, fed, and dry baby that night! Never woke up once. The problem was, when I woke up the next morning, every muscle in my body hurt! It hurt to laugh, to cough, to sneeze. It hurt to move! I wondered if I was really under full anesthesia and maybe I just didn’t remember anything. Did those rat bastards use a “twilight” drug on me after all? Why would I be so sore? If I was completely asleep, my body must have still known what was “up” because it seems as though my muscles tensed up in reaction to the procedure! Why else would I be this sore? I can understand my ribs and abdominal muscles being sore from the coughing. But my calves, thighs, shoulders, neck, and arm muscles too? The procedure was July 7. Today is the first day I feel normal again!

I go back to my regular doctor this week for a follow up. She will be checking my iron level. I will be telling her, “I told you it was my diet!” I will admit however, two things: One, maybe the para-esophageal hiatal hernia was preventing me from absorbing the little bit of iron in my diet, and Two, if it weren’t for the first horrifying EGD/Colonoscopy experience I would have never known about my stomach and had it repaired. I still think, and I will tell my doctor, that she should have at least asked me about my diet, and perhaps rechecked my iron after a couple of weeks…instead of scaring me half to death with worst case scenarios!!! Seems that doctors these days think they know us better than we know ourselves! Ha!

I’m thankful to be as healthy as I am. I have chronic pain from severe arthritis but I can deal with this most days. I’m thankful I don’t have cancer, or any of those other digestive diseases. Maybe I’ll live, after all.

My Ordeal

It all started in January. I went to my regular doctor for my annual check up. Ladies, you know what I mean. Blood was drawn at this visit and the next day Doc calls me and tells me that my blood work results showed I was anemic. That explained the 2.5 hour naps I was taking every single day because I couldn’t keep my eyes open!

Doc went on to explain that since I no longer have a monthly period, there’s no reason for my iron level to be that low. She said there must be blood loss somewhere inside. She strongly suggested an EGD and a colonoscopy. I had been refusing a colonoscopy since I turned 50. Was this her way of making sure I did it, whether I wanted to or not? Perhaps.

I told her I thought it was probably my diet. She said, “No, not unless you’ve gone completely vegetarian.” She wouldn’t even entertain the thought that it was my diet. Was she assuming that because I’m overweight I must get enough to eat? She’s a doctor. Doesn’t she realize that many overweight people are actually undernourished? How can she say with all certainty that it’s not my diet? She doesn’t know what I eat or don’t eat!

She went on to tell me that I could have colon cancer, lymphoma, Crohn’s, or Celiac Disease. Way to go, Doc! Scare the crap out of me. Again — her way of making sure I have a colonoscopy? I was beginning to think so. Reluctantly, I agreed and an appointment was made. In the meantime, she told me to take an iron supplement.

Within a few days of taking the iron supplement, I started to notice a change. I wasn’t totally exhausted by 11:00 am every day. I started sleeping better. Apparently, lack of iron changes something in your brain and that causes insomnia…and I hadn’t slept well in months! Due to these changes, I knew the blood test was accurate.

I was still convinced that it was probably my diet. I didn’t eat breakfast, lunch was my biggest meal and consisted of a vegetable, meat (usually chicken) and sometimes a potato or pasta. Maybe I’d just have a salad made up of romaine lettuce, carrots, celery, and zucchini. I wasn’t eating beef, not much grains — not bread, not even cereal. I wasn’t eating beans. I wasn’t eating much spinach or other dark leafy greens. At dinner time, if I was hungry, I had crackers and cheese or I’d open a can of soup. Maybe for a snack later I’d have a handful of pretzels or a few Hershey’s mini candy bars. Not a very iron-rich diet you say? Riiiight! I also wasn’t taking in any vitamin C, which helps you to absorb the iron in your diet. Ever since my gallbladder surgery, if I ate certain things (beef, grains, some veggies, beans etc.) I would feel bloated and had major discomfort in my stomach. So, I stopped eating those things! I figured I didn’t need the carbs or calories anyway! I thought this was just the way it is after gallbladder surgery.

In a couple of weeks it was time for the dreaded colonoscopy. I was instructed to stop taking all supplements, and my pain medications one week prior to the EGD and colonoscopy. I knew this was going to be miserable because I NEED that pain medication! By day 4 I was in tears and in major pain. I couldn’t sit still, couldn’t walk much, couldn’t sleep. I was a basket case!!

Day of procedures came and I was not only in tremendous pain but my anxiety level was through the roof! I wanted this day to be over. I wanted to go home and take my pain meds and sleep for a week! The nurses and doctor performing the procedures were very nice and explained everything that was going to be done. They tried to make me comfortable because they knew I was in pain. My comfort was short lived.

I was given what they called a “Twilight” drug. It was suppose to put me in la-la land. I wasn’t going to know anything that was happening or remember anything afterward. The EGD would be performed first. A mouth guard was placed in my mouth so that I wouldn’t clamp down on the tube. The tube went down my throat —- I gagged and choked and thought I was going to choke to death! I didn’t think they would ever finish. I was horrified. The nurses did their best to talk me through it all but it wasn’t working. (I couldn’t help think, “why am I aware of this?”) When the tube came out I was relieved. Little did I know that it would go from bad to worse when they started the colonoscopy.

Bear with me now. I hate to remember the details. It was just too traumatic and it has taken me all these months to be able to sit down and actually write about my experience! I won’t go into great detail about the colonoscopy because I think you will get the picture.

The drugs were not working on me, which is why the EGD didn’t go very smoothly for me. The doctor gave me as much of the drug as he possibly could. The colonoscopy could not be finished. I was yelling for them to stop. I was being held down by 2 nurses and told, “Stop yelling” and “It’ll be over soon” and my favorite, “Relax!” — all while being violated!!! I swear if I had seen those 2 bitches afterward I would have kicked them in the face. Thank goodness the doctor stopped the procedure, none too soon if you ask me!

Afterward, the doctor was very apologetic and explained to me that it’s rare but sometimes that happens. My pain level coupled with my high anxiety just over-rode the drugs. I should not have remembered anything but I did! He also told me that I could have taken my pain medication and that he had been trying to tell the ladies in scheduling and registration that that particular drug was OK to take! As for the EGD, he told me that he had a hard time getting into my stomach because it seemed to be in the wrong place, up too high and also that it was shaped funny. Oh great. Now what kind of tests and procedures do I have to look forward to? He suggested an Upper GI. Nothing too scary, thank goodness. He also suggested that we re-do these procedures but that he would put me completely asleep next time. You’re damn right you will, IF — and that’s a really big IF — I decide to do it again at all!

So, I had nightmares for 2 weeks after this happened. It’s hard for me to even recall the details vividly – not that I can’t recall them, but because it’s just too traumatic! Imagine this happening to you! My brain KNOWS it wasn’t rape BUT my emotions tell me differently! I don’t blame the doctor. It wasn’t his fault. Anyway, it was done now and I had to worry about what was wrong with my stomach.

An Upper GI was scheduled and it wasn’t a big deal really. I drank some nasty chalky stuff and was able to see the x-ray of my own stomach as I swallowed. It was kind of cool! The doctor doing this test explained that what I had was an Para-esophageal Hiatal Hernia. Basically, my stomach was in my chest cavity! That explains why I felt such discomfort and bloating, and nearly pain at times, when I ate certain things!! I was told that the danger was that my stomach could twist and cut off it’s own blood supply — resulting in a EMERGENCY situation for me! Yikes!

An appointment was made for a consultation with a surgeon. He was very nice, had a good sense of humor and I felt comfortable with him. He explained what needed to be done and showed me photos as well. He also told me that I don’t have to do anything that I don’t want to do. THAT was the very first time a doctor has ever said those words to me! I agreed that surgery was the best option and it was scheduled. I wasn’t too stressed. I had some anxiety but it was more about my insurance covering the surgery than the surgery itself! And the surgeon said I could continue taking my pain meds, and if I could stop taking them a couple days before the surgery that would be great, but if I can’t that’s ok too.

Surgery went well. I spent 2 days in the hospital and 3 weeks on special diets. The first week was a clear liquid diet. Second week, a full liquid diet. Third week, soft foods. After that it took a couple weeks to be able to eat without getting sick. I’m doing great now….. I’m eating my favorite foods again but I’m definitely trying to get all the necessary nutrients in my diet. Being more health conscious is easier said than done!

Stay tuned for the next installment: My Ordeal – The EGD/Colonoscopy ROUND 2

One Step Forward…..

So, the Supreme Court ruled today that Gay Marriage is now legal in all states! That one step forward doesn’t feel like a step forward at all, when you listen to all the negativity surrounding the entire issue. It’s unbelievable to me that people are so close-minded that they cannot see beyond the idea that “it says in the Bible….”

Biblical times are not THESE times. Times change. I’m not writing this to discuss the Bible or Christian beliefs. However, I WILL say that GOD loves everyone! If GOD has a problem with gay people then let GOD take care of it. Wouldn’t God want you to treat EVERYONE with kindness and fairness? Respect? I say yes, YES He would.

Gay people do not have a choice over their sexuality. It’s not like they decide to be gay for “the fun of it” – not my words but someone else’s stupidity coming forth on the good ol’ internet. Gay people have the right to love and be loved just as straight people do. They do not deserve to be judged by YOU for who they are or who they choose to be with. You can’t help who you fall in love with. That’s just how that crazy critter called love is….

I’m appalled by a comment I read earlier today. A woman asked, “Why do they [gay people] want to get married anyway? They’re going to be together if they want to be together, whether they are married or not.” This is true. But isn’t it also true that STRAIGHT people are going to be together if they want to be together, whether they are married or not? So, why do straight people get married? They marry because…..

*They love one another and they want to spend their lives together.

*To show their commitment to one another in front of their friends, family, and God. Wedding vows (promises) are made and taken more seriously if in a traditional, legal ceremony.

*To legalize their commitment because society recognizes this contract between two people.

*To ensure that their medical and legal rights are protected, normally reserved for blood relatives and guardians, but when married, the spouse is granted the right to make medical decisions.

*To have children; start a family. Marriage is binding, therefore both parties agree to raise the children, and that the children be taken care of in the future. Marriage provides a legal and strong foundation.

*When you marry, you agree to be faithful, supportive, loving and kind….through thick and thin, sickness and health….until one of you has passed away.

I suppose there are many other reasons straight people get married…..but don’t gay people get married for the same reasons? Of course they do! They aren’t really any different than any of the rest of us!

I’m sure someone will argue,  “Gay people can’t make babies.” I beg to differ. Many gay couples use a surrogate. If that isn’t an option for them, they adopt. There are many children in this country who need a loving home. Isn’t that all any child wants? Parents who love and adore them, protect them, teach them….. Right? Why wouldn’t God approve of a loving couple taking in a child that is not biologically theirs and raising that child as their own?

Oh, how this world makes my head and heart hurt. 

I know so many of you will disagree with everything I have said here. You have every right to disagree and voice your opinion. I always try to be respectful when speaking my mind…..a concept that so many do not understand! It is my hope that if you speak your mind, you will be respectful, even if you believe differently. It’s only right.

Study: Listening To Heavy Metal Makes You Calmer

Haha! And I thought it was just me all this time! I can honestly say that heavy metal or any other hard, loud, raunchy, angry music can sure make me feel better! It’s like the music and the emotions coming from the artist rip the anger and pain right out of me, calming me down to that level-headed, caring, sensible person I usually am! If you aren’t a fan of heavy metal or hard rock, give it a shot some time when you’re in a really pissy mood.  Just feel the negativity ooze right out of you!

Give the article a read here:

Study: Listening To Heavy Metal Makes You Calmer – Blabbermouth.net.