Tuesday, April 22, 2014

The Toughest Grandma in the World...and a message from her too!


I drove 1,404 miles from Virginia Beach, Virginia to Norman, Oklahoma to see my grandma. She had been in remission of stage 4 inflammatory carcinoma breast cancer for a few years but was recently diagnosed with lung cancer. Grandma’s been battling it, true to her feisty spirit, but the cancer had teamed up with the escalating damage of emphysema, and it had gotten to the point where I finally said, “I need to go home.” My husband understood of course, and thankfully, my employer showed compassion as well. Grandma asked me why I had come, and I said, “To spend time with you before you get any sicker.” She nodded and simply said okay. I’ve been here a few hours short of a week now, and every moment with her has been precious and cherished.

She’s doing okay right now, and I’m optimistic she can get stronger. But it will be a tough journey…she really can’t exert herself at all without struggling for breath. The oxygen helps, but the emphysema cannot be reversed. She still tries to do it all herself when she feels like she has the energy. I catch her and listen to her breath become labored and finally ask her, “Why are you doing all of this when I’m here? Sit down, woman!” There’s always a chuckle, but luckily she listens to me and happily lets me do the moving, grabbing, bringing, taking, and so on for her.

Our family comes to check on her every day, and they’ve been taking care of her meals and doctor visits and such…it’s definitely a group effort. But, I really like being available for her 24/7, and it’s going to be hard to leave her when I have to go home. Grandma has said she doesn’t want me to leave; of course she knows I’ll have to eventually; so I just say, “Let’s not think about it right now.”

I recorded some videos of her telling stories, and will be taking lots of pictures, as we photographers tend to do! I’m hoping I can talk her in to letting me get a wheel chair and taking her to the art museum while I’m here…I think I can be persuasive haha! I just want to bring some fun to her so that she’s not just sitting and reading all the time…not that there’s anything wrong with that…but I want to make just a few more lovely memories with her right now. Maybe she can beat this…she’s determined and her attitude is encouraging…maybe this is just another struggle that my tough, feisty, and stubborn grandma will bravely conquer. She inspires me and strengthens me…If there is a person to truly believe in and root for…she’s my grandma.

Here’s a message from her to our family and friends who’ve been raising prayers, sending good vibes, and sharing love. Thank you so much for the support and encouragement you’ve all expressed…it truly means the world to my family, grandma, and me!


 (Had to upload video via YouTube. Hopefully it works! I will also upload her stories there at some point as well, but I will share them on here to let y'all know.)

*Update* I'm back in Virginia now, and although I loved the 3 weeks with my grandma, it just wasn't long enough. And the truth is...I don't think any amount of time with her could ever be long enough...I'll always want another story, another hug, another laugh...but let's not think about that right now! It was a wonderful visit with her. I took her to get her hair cut and to try a latte at Daylight Donuts; we had a couple of trips to the grocery store; we had a couple of trips to the doctor's office; we had a lesson on her egg noodles our family adores; we had moments of silence where we both read or napped...it was simply just a time for us to be together.

She was doing well at first. After chemo, she gradually got weaker and sadder, but then bounced back after that. Then her feet and ankles became so swollen it hurt to walk...a trip to the doctor, order to cut back on sodium, and a prescription of Lasiks took care of that. However, she was not drinking enough water and therefore became dehydrated and weak. I rallied the family to help persist that she drink more water. These were my last days with her before I left, and our family has shared with me that she's staying hydrated and getting better now. It was an emotional time with her...being with her through the ups and downs of all that comes with lung cancer, emphysema, and the side effects that come with the medicines and treatments. I did not want to leave. I held her hand and told her several times in those last moment, "Call me if you need me to come back. Call me if you want me to come back. There will be no problem...I will come back no matter what." My sister and my mama assured me that they would be with her all the time like I had been those weeks...I cried and cried and didn't want to say goodbye. I hugged Grandma over and over...it was a struggle to let go of her.

I don't know what condition she'll be in next time I see her. I pray that she wins this fight like the many fights she has won before. But, I also know she is ready for whatever may happen next. I'm grateful I got to spend so much time with her...grateful for the videos and photos I captured...grateful for her stories...grateful for her stubborn ways...

I love you so very very very much, Grandma!

Cherish your time with those you love, my dears. Hugs and love, my lovelies!

Yours,
Amy

Wednesday, April 9, 2014

Any Compassionate & Decent Doctors Out There!?

Doctors don't want to treat addicts anymore. That seems to be the most common response anyway. And you know what...that really really...REALLY pisses me off! This whole "pain pills dependency epidemic" was created by doctors, right? Their patients continued to complain about pain, and their response was to just give out the pills! And now, they don't even want to care for those patients with those addictions anymore! There are so many policies and guidelines in place now (that should have been present before) that really keep the doctors liable...penalties are dealt left and right, and they're so afraid of messing up that they're just throwing up their hands and saying, "I won't treat addicts!" Of course, I'm not trying to say that this is the only reason or explanation...but there's no doubt that it did happen in several cases. The assumption appears to be that if an addict is seeking a doctor, they're only actually seeking the pills. But what about the addicts who are on a pain management program? They are taking care of their addiction and pain with other facilities, but they need other doctors for colds, infections, and so many other illnesses that we all deal with whether we're dependent on pain medicine or not! Seriously!

I will say that the majority of statements I read on social networking sites are simply judgmental. Some people do take advantage of programs, and some people are really just looking to get high. But who the hell decided that the actions of a few people should define the other millions looking for a compassionate and decent doctor? Rage...this causes me to feel rage!

The point of all this is very simple. I need a primary care doctor to see one of my family members. This family member manages the pain and addiction...the program that helps this family member with the pain and addiction can not help with the medical needs that are needed...the symptoms could be a result of the pain management treatment or not. Regardless...this person deserves to be seen and cared for without judgment or prejudice.

I am SO SICK of the judgment and prejudice in this country. Come on people! Stop defining everybody and  everything on the actions of a few! If you know a primary care doctor that will take care of my family member, I would very much appreciate the help! Needed in Norman, OK.

*update* Called 5 doctors this morning. One wasn't accepting new patients, and I left messages with the nurses of the other 4. Two called me back. I missed one of the calls, but the voicemail didn't sound very friendly. The nurse I did talk to, Nola, knew exactly where I was coming from and understood how badly my family member had been treated in the past. I will share this doctor's name and contact info after her appointment if I think he's going to take good care of my family. Fingers crossed! Prayers up!

Dear ones, I'll definitely be ranting a little bit more on this blog...however, it will be from a place in my heart...which does not judge, strives for peace, and only wants the best for humanity. Hugs and love, my lovelies!

Ro Fo Sho out! ;)


Monday, April 7, 2014

Another Update...Because That's Just What I Do! Ha!



My lovely dears, it’s time for another depression update! Here’s a short summary in list form…because lists are cool.

Was doing really really well.
Triggers sent me falling back down.
Struggled and coped badly.
Got worse.
Got irritated with myself.
Remembered how great it was to feel the way I did before.
Back on track.
Getting better.
Seeing that happy light again.

It sounds so simple in list form, doesn’t it? All of us who struggle with mental illnesses know that the word “simple” will never be used to describe the fights we battle! The little side notes to my list would include damaging relationships, drinking excessively, making bad decisions, eating through sadness, and so on and so on. But you want to know what I realized through this last bumpy ride off the tracks? Of course you do! I have been dealing with depression (as far back as I can remember anyway) for exactly half of my life thus far. What? Seriously? Half my life. It shocked me. My own electrotherapy we could say…hahaha…not really.

So! I can’t even count the number of times I’ve fallen all the way down to the belly of the beast. I’ve lost track of how often I’ve had to find my way (with the help of friends, family, doctors, medicines, and self reflection) through the dark and back to the light. The number I know is 16 years…half of my life.

My psychiatrist recently told me I’m actually in a really great place of self awareness. I know how happy I was feeling, and I miss it. The extreme switch from doing really well to doing really badly, gave me a side by side comparison. The sharp and abrupt fall down, as opposed to the typical gradual decrease, was cold water to my sleeping face. I’m awake now; determined as I found myself to be before; and actually a little pissed off. I’d say that’s great motivation!

How are your journeys going? Are you making a genuine effort to take control of your illnesses? Remember that healing can start from just opening the curtains, walking to the mailbox, making silly faces in the mirror…just doing something that brings a little light, gives a little fresh air, or causes a little laugh (just to name a few) can start a domino effect of other little things that can start to bring some relief closer to you and darkness further behind you.

Stay determined. Hugs and love, my lovelies!
Amy (The Ro Fo Sho kicking depression’s ugly butt!)


Tuesday, February 25, 2014

Sicky Yucky Icky Time

Sorry for yet another absence. I've been sick. Drainage and congestion! Dry cough and mucus cough! Body aches and head aches...I want my mommy. I feel like I've become more of a baby in my old age haha. Anyway. I'm still here...I'm just gross and prone to whining right now. When I feel human again, I will share more interesting and pleasant stories with you...ones that don't involve germ filled imagery! Vitamins, water, and rest, dearies! Hugs and love, my lovelies!

Here are some bright cheery flowers to give us all a boost!


Monday, February 17, 2014

Bad Roller Coaster Ride

"Bad Roller Coaster Ride"

In the dark; in the shadows,
I get lost.
Who I am, I no longer know.
Feelings altered; words I wouldnt' say;
What happened?
Looks like I've lost another day.

This can be a lonely life,
The worst roller coaster ride.
I need you to understand.
This, all of this mess,
Is too often out of my hands.

I wish it would have been me,
To tell you.
Concern, detachment, worrying,
Hurt feelings, reacting the wrong way;
I'm sorry.
It all diffused inside the gray.

This can be a lonely life,
The worst roller coaster ride.
I need you to understand.
This, all of this mess,
Is too often out of my hands.

But I will take control, I will.
Before I lose myself, I'll reclaim,
The woman I use to know..

Some will forgive; some give compassion,
But not always.
Others are angry, bad reactions,
Hearts broken, reality crashes,
It's over.
My apologies, my explanations
There's nothing else for me to say.

This can be a lonely life,
The worst roller coaster ride.
I need you to understand.
This, all of this mess,
Is too often out of my hands.

A poem for lost and broken friendships. Hugs and love, my lovelies!

Amy


Bruised But Determined


"Beaten"

I've shared this drawing before, but I'm sharing it again because it's probably the most relevant representation of my current feelings and state of mind. I was doing so well...so incredibly wonderfully well with my depression...like it didn't even exist anymore! I couldn't wait to share my happiness with y'all! As I told y'all before in the last entry, life has been challenging since the end of 2013 and beginning of 2014...and it's actually gotten worse. My most recent session with my psychiatrist helped me to realize that being in my home state and the confrontations I faced there, were triggers...I will be exploring more about what triggers my depression with my therapist these next few weeks. Anyway, my blissful, stable, and happy mind has been crumbling since returning from Oklahoma.

Grandma was back in the hospital, and I fear she won't be able to handle the next round of chemo. We're facing potential legal issues after I reacted in an emotional and unintelligent way. I lost friends because I reacted blindly in the shadows of my mind to something that probably could have been handled differently...and found out so many awful things that were thought about me. I've been emotionally eating and thus gaining weight. My heart is heavy everyday. This is one of the most challenging moments of my life.

But I'm determined to get back to that happy place...it was the best I had felt in years! Thankfully, my husband has been my strength while I've been shouldering weakness...I'd probably give up if he wasn't here to help me. It's during these upsetting times when a marriage is tested; and we find out that the enormity of our love will guide us through the dark...I feel like it's been a boost to our relationship...a reminder that we'll always be able to work through the tough spots if we stick together. 

My husband, the forgiveness and compassion others have given me, the understanding nature and encouragement of so many people, and my belief in myself...these are the things that will help me heal and find my happiness again.

Stay optimistic and stay determined, my friends...don't give up on yourself. Hugs and love, my lovelies!

Yours,
Amy
 

Monday, January 20, 2014

Shrivel, crinkle, and slowly spring back

There were tears and goodbyes, stress and frustration, and challenges and obstacles that wrapped up 2013 and started 2014. I believe it was the worst end and worst beginning I've ever experienced during this, not to be dramatic, pivotal time in all of our lives. Out with the old and in with the new ya know? My out and in was more like a shrivel, crinkle, and slowly start to spring back! I could share several stories to explain how this all evolved but they're not so much fun and involve topics that really should be kept private from the internet population. I will say that right now my heart is heavy with worry for my grandma...but that will be a whole other post to itself.

Anywho!

Rather than share all of the yucky parts of the end and beginning of years, I will be sharing stories of being home for the holidays, our 3 year wedding anniversary, fun times with friends, and much more in the coming days. My husband will be leaving (doing the Navy thing) for just a short while and therefore will not be around to distract me with his devilish good looks so that I may be able to write more often...haha! But before I leave...

We arrived in Oklahoma on the Eve of Christmas Eve with basically enough time to visit a bit and then go to sleep! The next morning, before I met up with Tom and his family, I took a walk with my sister, nephew, and dogs through a neighborhood covered in ice...a beautiful magical icy world! Here are some snapshots along the way (taken with little point and shoot Canon Elph)...















Stay warm, darlings ;)
Hugs and love, my lovelies!