When I Look in the Mirror…

This is my first time posting with Finish the Sentence Friday. If you would like to link up or check it out you can do so here.

Today’s prompt is “When I Look in the Mirror…”

My first thought is …I see nothing good. Before I became chronically ill with conditions such as Lupus and depression, I though nothing of doing my hair and makeup every day, for work and the weekends. I never thought of going anywhere without doing myself up and I was pleased with my reflection.

Then I became sick and doing my hair, blowdrying it or curling it, became too painful. I could no longer stand up to do my makeup. Eventually I just didn’t bother any more. I was always clean, but could no longer improve my appearance. I wonder now where pretty went to.

I’ve been suffering from depression for a long time and it is both mentally and physically exhausting. I still do not have the energy to do my hair, going outside with it wet even in the winter. Because I have not blown it dry my hair frizzes up and I hate it.

I also see a double chin or two when I look in the mirror. I have gained 50 pounds from the psychiatric medications I am taking. I have lost some of the weight but still hate how fat my face looks.

When I look into the mirror I see someone who is mentally ill. I feel like I stand out in the crowd, like you could pick me out and tell I am sick. I feel like I don’t belong.

There are some things that do make me feel better about myself. I do color and cut my hair on a regular basis at a salon which also does my makeup for free. I feel like I look good every couple of months or so! And I also joined a Facebook group called “Pretty Sick”, which is a group that believes that just because you are sick doesn’t mean you have to look it. Now when I go out I make sure I put on lip gloss, that is easy enough to do.

What do you see when you look in the mirror?

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Half of the Answer

I have to credit my aunt with telling me that my sweating could be the start of perimenopause. I’ve been dealing with sweat pouring down me to just a bit of physical activity working up a sweat since the summer. I looked it up online and in addition to the common symptom of sweating, nausea was also a symptom!

As luck would have it I had my annual appointment with my gynecologist and while she agreed that the sweating was definitely a sign of perimenopause, nausea was not a common symptom. She recommended an upper G.I. series which I have scheduled with my G.I. doc.

She suggested an over the counter supplement for my hot flashes and sure enough I haven’t had a hot flash since! It amazes me that as many doctors as I have seen, not one suggested perimenopause!

I wonder if they will find anything in my upper G.I. series. I am laying on the couch sick to my stomach with writing being very difficult. Sometimes I can read but most days I just have to lay down and hope to fall asleep.

I’m not sure how I feel about entering my perimenopausal years, except I know that they are going to be very annoying! I’m 46, I’m definitely in the right age bracket but I don’t feel 46, you know? In fact, I can’t even believe I’m writing about this topic!

Have you gone through perimenopause or menopause? What symptoms did you experience?

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Book Reviews!

This is based on a writer’s prompt from Mama Kat’s Writer’s Workshop.

I review all my books on goodreads. I hope you will follow me!

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This book is of the young adult genre but don’t let that stop you. The principal of Opportunity High School ends assembly and the kids find out all the doors are locked…except for one where the shooter enters. This book is done in real time and shows the points of views from about five different kids, and how they are connected. It is a quick, fascinating read, I got into the characters, even the shooter’s, and I would recommend it.

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The cozy mystery genre is one of my favorites and I am working my way through the Melanie Travis mystery series. When Aunt Peg’s husband dies and her prized poodle goes missing at the same time, she enlists her niece, single mom teacher Melanie’s help in figuring out how the two connect. This is the first book in the series. The characters are likable and engaging and the mystery held my interest. Only one warning: this series goes into detail about poodles and dog shows, so if you are not a dog lover you may want to skip it!

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In 1959 writer John Howard Griffin does what people have called the unthinkable; ingests medication and exposes himself to ultraviolet light rays to become a black person. The first part of the book is his journal posing as an African American, exposed to the degradation, hatred and actual terror he experiences. The second part deals with the fallout, both from his supporters and his enemies. The book, especially his journal was really fascinating. I like to think we as a human race have come a long way since then but as we have seen with police officers shooting African Americans, we still have a while to go.

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Twenty-two year old Grace Winters is one of the few lucky survivors of the sinking of the Empress Alexandra and is on trial. That’s all we know for now and then the book takes us to Grace in a lifeboat with 40 other people. Told from Grace’s point of view we get to know the varying personalities in the boat. It was interesting to know what was going on in Grace’s mind and what happens when human beings are trying to survive. Anything else I write would be a spoiler but I definitely recommend the book.

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48-year-old Nantucket Islander Dabney Kimball Beech has an uncanny ability to tell which couples are meant to be together and which couples aren’t. In fact, she has 42 successful matches under her belt. The only one she was wrong about was her high school sweetheart, Clendenin, who chose to leave the island to pursue his dream of international journalism. Now after 27 years Clendenin is back and he is back for her. Some people may find this book cheesy but it really worked for me. It had just the right amount of romance, magic and tragedy and I would have stayed up all night reading it if I didn’t have to get up early the next morning!

So these are what have been on my nightstand lately. I hope you enjoy any of these books here that have sparked your fancy and again, I would love to be friends with you on goodreads!

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A Walk With My Son

Every Sunday, on the weekend day I have Tyler for the whole day, I’m usually too sick to do much of anything, let alone get outdoors with him. He winds up spending most of the day on the tablet and I wind up on the couch, feeling guilty.

On Saturday night I asked God if he would make me feel well so I could take Tyler out. There are some rare days that I am not queasy so I know it is possible. I was doing pretty good on Sunday, no stomach issues, and so I asked Tyler if he would like to go for a walk in the woods. He replied, “Yeah, alright!” and I told him I felt good now but that even if I didn’t later I would still take him. The temperature was going to be over 50 degrees!

The whole morning he kept asking me, “How are you feeling? Do you still feel good?”

Before going on our walk we went to Jacques’s church where they were having a spaghetti lunch. As soon as I walked into the banquet room I felt that it was way too hot in there. (Sweating and low grade fevers are also some of my symptoms.) I started to get nauseous and had to wipe my face off with my napkin a few times. I felt miserable. I said to Tyler, “I might be feeling too sick to go, honey.” “But that would mean that you lied to me mom” and I knew he was right.

When I got outside I was suddenly freezing because I was so soaked from sweating inside. We dropped Jacques off and drove to one of the Cleveland area’s many parks. My temperature equalized and I felt better and not too queasy. We parked the car and took one of the park’s trails that I knew would be one of the shorter ones because I was not sure how long I would be able to walk. I am out of shape and have asthma and Tyler, due to his delay in gross motor skills, doesn’t have the stamina to last long either. We are a perfect match!

Tyler had to stop and say “cute dog!” to every dog owner walking and wanted to pet them.

“Can we hold hands?”, he asked me. “Of course!”, I said, knowing that this was a moment to treasure, that someday he’ll be a teenager who won’t want to be in the same room with me!

There were lovely falls on our walk and on the way back I pointed out to Tyler that people had thrown in coins to wish on. He wanted to do it too but I hadn’t brought my purse with me. Then he got the idea to wish on sticks. “I wish for more sticks!”, he shouted. I asked him to get me one. As I threw it in I said, “I wish for more walks with my son.”

If you are a parent with chronic illness you will know how much this day meant to me. And if you are a healthy parent, be grateful how easy it is to just on the spur of the moment decide to go to a park.

Either way our kids won’t be young forever so these are indeed days to treasure.

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Disability Review Update

When I received a letter from Social Security on Friday I told myself I wasn’t going to open it until Monday because it had the potential to ruin my weekend. But on Saturday when I was by myself I suddenly thought I have to know NOW.

Basically it said that although they told me that they were going to review my case, they do not need to review it at this time and that they would not be contacting any of my doctors. I had received the “short form” for my review and they hadn’t asked for my doctors anyway.

I am very relieved as I do not believe I can work, nor find a decent job if I had to. I have been out of the workforce since 2008. My former career in recruitment would be too stressful and I would have a steep learning curve as I am sure things have changed. I might even need to be retrained for another career but with my cognitive impairment, could I even learn or memorize something new?

Having my disability extended is a mixed blessing. I never counted on getting sick, but it’s good that I receive some sort of income. I often wonder where I would be had I not gotten sick, about the opportunities and life I could have given my son, but I don’t think about it for too long as I would go crazy.

Who knows when Social Security will review my case again? I have no idea but at least for the moment I am safe.

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Excuse the blurriness, my hands are shaking really badly today!

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Trip to the Surgeon

I saw the surgeon yesterday to see about my gallbladder issues and he told me that in the absence of pain he did not believe that my gallbladder was the cause of my problems. Part of me was disappointed because I cannot deal with having this debilitating nausea with no cause and no effective way of treating it. I’d actually would be willing to have an organ taken out of my body if this would mean an end to this misery!

He mentioned that sometimes diabetics have trouble emptying their stomach which could definitely be a cause of my nausea. Actually thrilled to have somewhere else to turn, I looked this up on my smartphone on the way home but just like a gallbladder diagnosis, I did not have enough symptoms to indicate it.

I saw my endocrinologist too and was given a clean bill of health with my diabetic issues.

Today I was on Pinterest and I came upon a post that said something like “5 Symptoms You Didn’t Know Were Linked to Fibromyalgia”. I have been in remission with Fibro but I clicked on it and one of the lesser known symptoms was sweating. Then I just started googling all of my symptoms with Fibromyalgia and every one of them linked back to Fibro, including symptoms that I had chalked up to medication side effects such as dry mouth and hand tremors and even a low-grade fever.

I am some what excited about this being a possibility but I don’t see my Rheumatologist until the beginning of March so I can’t confirm it. Then I got depressed because there’s not a whole lot of treatment out there for Fibro and I pictured myself being nauseous forever and it wasn’t pretty. I cannot take a lot of the medications for nausea because they interact with my mental health medications and the one I am on now takes a long time to work and makes me tired.

My house is a wreck and I can’t do much with Tyler. Jacques waits on me hand and foot but he can’t do everything. Tonight is Bingo night at Tyler’s school and I am praying that I feel well enough to go. I hate disappointing him but sad to say he is used to it and still tells me I’m the best mom in the world. But I wonder if he will resent it when he grows up? There was a time in Tyler’s life when I felt pretty good but he was too young to remember it.

Part of me says I should be grateful because I’ve certainly been sicker than this with the pain from Lupus and the mental illnesses. But for my son, I just want to be better.

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My Little Brony

If you’re looking for New Year’s Resolutions, you’re not going to find them here!

I’m not sure when my nine year old son and I started watching My Little Pony: Friendship is Magic on Netflix. The show differs from past generations is that it shows how important friendship is and moves away from the “girlie” personas the previous generations portrayed, showing girls that they can be anything.

But the show has become more than a show for little girls. It has developed a cult following among male teenagers and young adults who call themselves Bronies. At the last “Bronycon” there were over 10,000 attendees. There were stuffed animals, posters, pins and more, all to share the pony love. Girls/Women are also welcome and they are known as “Pegasisters”.

We went through the whole series and Tyler asked me not to tell his father that he was a fan. I kept the secret from Grant, wanting Tyler to be able to trust me, and it’s not like it was a serious secret!

Then Tyler got into everything “MLP”; reading comic books, books and watching the myriad of You Tube videos and websites dedicated to the show.

Finally, Tyler came clean with Grant. He is never comfortable keeping a secret from one of us. Grant was a bit mad that I kept the secret from him and he was a bit uncomfortable with our son being a possible Brony. (Personally, I think he is too young to be put into that category.)

He asked that I didn’t buy any toys for Tyler, but Tyler really wanted a two inch Derpy so I got him one for Christmas.

I’m not worried that Tyler’s love of “MLP” means that might mean he is a homosexual, nor would I love him any less if he was one. His favorite pony is Fluttershy who is shy and loves animals. Each of the ponies represent wholesome values and each show teaches friendship, kindness and compassion. What could be wrong with that?!

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Photo credit: denofgeek.us

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Health and Holiday Update

So I am still experiencing nausea with a low grade fever. You can also add to that periods of excessive sweating and mega thirst and urination. The thirst and urination could be blamed on high blood sugar, except my blood sugar levels are normal when I test them.

I went to see my Gastroenterologist and she said she didn’t think my gallstone could be causing my symptoms. She ran blood and urine tests which came back normal and she also ordered a HIDA scan which would test how my gallbladder was functioning. A few days later she called to say she was surprised to find anything wrong but my gallbladder was indeed functioning at a slower rate than normal. The normal range starts at 35 and mine was at a 24. She suggested I consult with a surgeon but she said, “I don’t know, it’s like 50/50 this is the cause of your symptoms”.

I see the surgeon mid-January but I also made appointments with my Rheumatologist and Gynecologist and will make one with an endocrinologist, leaving no stone unturned. I don’t want to have my gallbladder removed if it’s not the cause of my symptoms!

A lot of my symptoms can be explained by Lupus but I can’t get in to see my Rheumatologist until March! How can I live like this for that long, or even delay surgery that I might need? I will try to see if I can get in sooner on a cancellation.

I felt okay for Christmas and Tyler, Grant, Jacques and I were all able to have a good time. Tyler liked all of his gifts plus the cash we gave him. I guess he is getting to be that age! This was his first year that he didn’t believe in Santa Claus but he was still excited!

The next day I was sick as a dog. Tyler was very understanding but I don’t like him playing video games all day while I just lay in bed. I want him to have a decent winter break with fun things to do. If I feel well enough later today we are planning on going to a movie. Sometimes I feel okay but after a shower the nausea comes, maybe because I am upright and moving about, I don’t know.

If I don’t write again, hope you all have a Happy New Year!

Tyler with his favorite toy!

Tyler with his favorite toy!

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The Worst Gift I Ever Received

I am taking part today in Mama Kat’s Writer’s Workshop.

Prompt 4. Best or worst gift you’ve ever received.

It was the Christmas season of 1983, the year Cabbage Patch Kids were so hot people were fighting each other for them. I had just turned 13,
but I thought they were so cute and I wanted one and so did my best friend “Jennifer”. My parents knew I wanted one but were not so optimistic. They just weren’t the types to fight the crowds for a doll.

But one day under the tree there was a wrapped box that could easily have fit a Cabbage Patch Kid. Jennifer had a similar box under her tree too. “Your parents got you a Cabbage Patch Kid!, she said. I told her I wasn’t sure because my younger brother had a package similar in shape and size. “Maybe they got him one too!”

The guessing frenzy continued until Jennifer and I were convinced that the box held a doll. I could hardly wait until Christmas morning!

When the day arrived my brother and I saved our biggest boxes for last. I wondered what he or she would look like. We opened our gifts and they were…sleeping bags!Sleeping bags??? This made absolutely no sense because we weren’t even campers! I stonily thanked my parents for my presents.

Then the phone rang, it was Jennifer, screaming that she had received a boy Cabbage Patch Kid. She was describing him to me and smelling that sweet baby smell the dolls had back then. “Did you get one?”, she asked. I told her no and told her what I did receive. She told me she was sorry but she couldn’t help talking about her gift. The tears rolled down my face as she went on and on.

Looking back, I guess I felt that Jennifer’s parents loved her more because they were willing to do anything to make her Christmas wish come true. And I know I am the type to go crazy to get my child what he wants for Christmas.

It all seems kind of silly now. Eventually I would wind up with SEVEN Cabbage Patch Kids. Currently I am cleaning up some now and getting ready to donate them. Maybe I can make some little girl or boy happy this Christmas, even though it isn’t the hottest toy of the year!

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Photo credit: nameberry.com

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A Quote I Love

This post is in response to Mama Kat’s Writer’s Workshop.

Prompt 1. Share a quote you love.

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This quote is from a book by Kiersten White. It is in the fantasy genre which is not my taste but it does remind me of my relationship between my boyfriend, “Jacques”, and I.

My then-husband and I had moved to Ohio where he grew up because we knew our money would stretch longer here. In December of 2012 I decided that the severity of his mental illness was putting my child and I at risk and so we left. I had no car and while Tyler was at school I took a taxi to a travel lodge to move our stuff in. Leaning up against the wall close to my room was Jacques who asked if I wanted some help. I thought he was some kind of a creep trying to hit on me and I’d be damned if I was going to let a man in my motel room! I said no thank you and moved in myself.

While living there everyone from 18 to 70 hit on me. It seemed like a woman with a child and without a wedding ring was a license to move in for the kill. As I got to know Jacques (in the lobby and kitchen) it seemed like he was the only one who had no ulterior motive and that his offer to help me that day was totally genuine.

Tyler and I began to depend on Jacques more and more. We were without a car and trudged in the snow when we needed groceries or the drugstore. One day Tyler and I both got sick and Jacques drove us to the doctor’s and after that he always offered us a ride.

When I separated from my husband it was with the full intention that I would never date again, at least until Tyler was 18! When I realized that I was beginning to fall for Jacques I tried to deny it. It was too soon, I was on the rebound.

We began our relationship on New Year’s Eve and three years later we are still going strong.

This quote means a lot to me because if I didn’t move to Ohio or chose a different hotel, if Jacques was not at the hotel standing near my door, we would have never met. I had to go through a lot of bad times but it had to be this way for us to be together.

I have shown this quote to Jacques and am always sending him and showing him quotes about love but this one is my favorite.

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