Tuesday, May 31, 2011

#77 - Good Times

This past weekend was wonderful. I made it to my husband's brother's house for a beautiful afternoon visiting with a family that I've known since I was about 15 years old.

I looked around and found myself giggling to myself at how we're all getting older. I'm the youngest out of the bunch, at 43 years of age, as of this month, yet I've had incredible health problems. Still, I am joyful and full of happy bubblings within me. Most often, I am in a lot of pain, but I've learned to push it aside with the distraction of life. Some days it's easier than others. It makes me think about how we have to FIGHT our yucky labels.

Most people, even my doctors, tell me that they'd never imagine I'd look so vibrant after all of my health issues. Every time I'm in the hospital, I get a new doctor here or there walking through the door of my room and they end up with a shocked expression after they see me --- they start fumbling through my chart to make sure they are looking at the right patient. Then, I get the comments about how they just learned a valuable lesson about the mistake of pre-determining how a patient should look based upon their chart. A person's condition might not dictate their appearance. Some people can wear the mask well. The same goes for the opposite truth, a person may be as healthy as the sun, but they might look like a walking disaster.

My husband and I catching a shot together.
As I sat there visiting with my husband's family, I realized that each of us has faced big hurdles; we all make an interesting bunch. There was a brief moment, in the middle of us all telling jokes and sharing stories that I had to fight back a secret tear of realization that even though we each have struggled, we are here, and we are laughing.

The two sisters share a May birthday. We're there to celebrate!
I've faced imminent death too many times and have been under the knife for serious surgeries, more than I can count, but I'm here. One brother-in-law of mine has had cancer, a skin cancer that was surgically removed early, Thank God! Another brother-in-law has had back surgeries and does his best to keep moving forward. One of us in the group had a hip and knee replacement right around the age of 40. A good friend sitting with us has gone through her husband committing suicide last summer and the list goes on and on. Still, we sit together and find every reason imaginable to laugh and to celebrate life with each other.

In May I began another blog to balance this one. My Addison's disease has been life-changing for me. I've been sharing my experiences about the past ten years that I've lived with this condition. Addison's disease has complicated my life, it is not always easy. So, I decided to write with raw honesty about my daily life to hopefully let others know that they are not alone in their battles. My journey in Finding Lana was underway in a huge way. But, as the months of writing about Addison's passed by, I found that I needed to give myself some balance and freedom to write about the other part of my life...the part that keeps me motivated to move through difficult days. So, I write about our experiences on our acreage. Having land to cultivate and to prepare for our future home and farm is exciting and rewarding.

David "solving" the Rubics Cube.
Since we live just outside of Houston and have worked in the Houston area for most of our lives, we are city people through and through. To contrast this life, our acreage is a couple of hours outside of Houston and is smack in the middle of wooded forest...wilderness. The difference between our weekday way of life and our weekend way of life is huge. So, I decided to write about these experiences that are most often humorous in a wacky sort of way.
My brother-in-law Mark's family. Beautiful.
Hence, has become another outlet for the weird, funny happenings in my life. This blog reveals a lighter side to my little corner of the world and it helps to remind me that my Addison's disease is not my boss!

And, no, I don't smoke or drink, but I sure do love a lot of people who do!
Come visit me any time at the other blog and if you know anything at all about farming, I sure hope you share your knowledge with us!

Wednesday, May 25, 2011

#76 - Making Flexible Plans

Life has always been full of good days and bad days, But, since I was diagnosed with Addison's, the good and bad days can wildly fluctuate. Sunday might be excellent and my energy might be boundless. On Sunday, I might feel as if I can conquer the world and my level of productivity might be incredible. Then, Monday morning comes and before the break of dawn I awake with a heart rate that is soaring and blood pressure that is plummeting. What the Heck? I have BEEN ASLEEP! How could I be going into an Addison's crisis in my sleep? Especially when I've been taking my medicine as scheduled.

Maybe I had been having a nightmare and it sent my body into overdrive. Part of my Addison's disease has required me to take Atenolol when the heart rate gets going too high and my regular medications don't work. Taking Atenolol can help bring down the heart rate, but I must be very careful because it also causes your blood pressure to drop. As usual, it's a tight-rope walk.

So, this brings me to the complication of having a disease that is not always easily regulated. Making plans in advance is not a comforting ideal for me since I've struggled with Addison's. It doesn't stop me from trying, but there are days when my body is nothing more than a ragdoll and trying to follow through with my plans would be simple silliness. Through the health battles, I've had to learn to accept what I don't always want. It's a big pill to swallow, but I think it makes you stronger in character. When you can't always get what you want or do what you want or be where you want, then you become more humble.

We have plans for this weekend. We're going to my brother-in-law's house to celebrate his daughter's third birthday. These are the days I do NOT want to miss out on enjoying. I hope it will be a Conquer The World kind of day!

I PLAN on having a wonderful time with everyone, but if my body has other plans, I will do my best. Often, if I am having a day that's giving me problems with my blood pressure, I can somewhat fake it and make it through good enough. But, other times, it just doesn't work that way. Taking extra meds can indeed be helpful, of course, but it is not always quick and easy to get things in perfect order when you have an imperfect disease.

Still, I make my plans and keep going headstrong with determination and excitement. If a bad day comes along, I obey my body and pick up a good book. In between the books, I live life as fully as possible and soak in every awesome moment I can absorb!
My youngest daughter, Stefie, scuba diving with her daddy in Cozumel,
Mexico as I enjoy watching and soaking up the sun.
Here we are at the Real Ron Jon shop in Cozumel.
We are living it up and have our bubble waist lines from our
awesomely attractive fanny packs.

Sunday, May 22, 2011

#75 - My Smile Reached My Eyes!

Most people put on this show of dreading the added number to their age. To them, having another birthday means a body that's getting older and they don't want to continue losing their youth.

I have a total opposite outlook about birthdays. For the past ten years, since I was about 33 years old, I've had many struggles to stay in this world. Prior to 33 years of age, I was living in a dream world without many problems and then I suddenly hit some kind of mysterious bump in my healthy existence. Life changed for me. Dealing with serious illness and major surgeries that put my life in constant danger helped to create a different attitude for me toward birthdays and getting older.

This past week, I turned 43 years old and could not believe that ten years have passed since I first became very ill with Addison's disease. At this time, ten years ago, I was dreadfully ill and weak beyond description. Life had been going downhill for months. Before the doctors figured it out, I knew I was dying. Thankfully, my diagnosis came right at the last moment. Literally.

Since then, I began to look in the mirror for little lines on my face. Like a kid, I'd sometimes stand close to our mirrored doors and smile real big while looking for crow's feet around my eyes. Where are they? There would be nothing but smooth skin. I'd practice smiling hugely to see if my smile would reach my eyes. For some reason, I eagerly looked forward to the day when I would have "smiling eyes."

My best-friend has beautiful crow's feet around her eyes and you have to understand how this looks to my view, I see these little lines around the eyes as beautiful sparkles that make a person's eyes seem more brilliant and interesting. Jealous me wanted some of that as well, but I guess I'd not grown old enough yet.
My best-friend in the whole my church wedding, in the days before
she has grown old enough to enjoy some crow's feet.
She's more beautiful today than when she was here in this photo at
only about 20 years old because her smile has reached her eyes.
These days, we get to watch each other grow old and be delighted! And, SHE is just as skinny today!
Finally, last year, I began to slightly develop some crow's feet and I was excited! Finally, I was developing TRUE beauty!

My niece and I having a fun time this past October. I can FINALLY see my smile touching my eyes!
I do realize that my near death experience has had a profound impact on my life. Each birthday, I celebrate with gusto and thanksgiving to the Lord because I have been given another year. Some of these years that I've survived have been nothing less of miraculous.

Over the last ten years, I've experienced collapsed lungs, internal bleeding in the the chest cavity, my heart was being squeezed by the sac around my heart filling with fluid and squeezing it too tightly, my neck broke and nearly severed my spinal cord, my thoracic arteries were being choked by scar tissue and muscle which caused me to have more ribs removed and more medical horrors...and list goes on. But, I am not going to sit here and complain about the blessing of growing another year older because I am so darn grateful to have the honor of growing grey hair and wrinkles.

Having a birthday means...I AM STILL HERE!! I get to enjoy what life offers for a bit longer!

So, when I see my little developing wrinkles, I am elated. Those wrinkles have great meaning to me. They signify LIFE and the accumulation of many wonderful times in spite of difficulties.

My youngest daughter and I having fun this past year. I bet she'll have a hard time developing those wrinkles too...
beauty comes to those who are patient my dear!

Wednesday, May 18, 2011

#74 - Trauma from Illness

I replied by email to a new blog friend today about the emotional trauma of falling very ill, especially at such a young age. As I told her, our bodies are not expected to become progressively weakened on a severe level while still young, it's not normal. I only expect that kind of thing to happen around 90 years of age! When you encounter a serious illness at a young age, everyone knows that the timing is off. It's never a good time to be ill, but during youth it is ruthless and without compassion that you've not yet been given a chance to fulfill your dreams. Nothing in life prepares us for this backward circumstance. That is part of the awful trauma of falling so ill at a young age, it's not supposed to happen. So, the email she had sent me did tug at my heart.

It doesn't really matter what kind of illness it can be cancer, MS, or Addison's disease, you will be knocked off course in life. If you have been unfortunate to fall very ill before a diagnosis is made, then you will be especially traumatized because every aspect of your life is impacted.

Getting an early diagnosis with any serious health condition is imperative to your life, overall. Getting that early diagnosis means that you get to start treatment BEFORE the disease or illness puts on the dark cloak and starts to pull you under. Getting an early diagnosis means you are so fortunate to escape all of the terrible changes that occur when you cannot lift your head off of a pillow due to the body starting to fail. For some people, the diagnosis comes too late. After being in contact with other people with Addison's on a very personal level, I have seen this fact much too often. Addison's disease is not something to toy with.

If you have suffered tremendously from a prolonged delay in being diagnosed with Addison's disease or any kind of Adrenal Insufficiency, then be prepared for a potentially bumpy recovery. You might feel immediately better after you are put on medications, but it might take a bit longer for you to physically feel markedly better. Beyond that, you might be emotionally, financially and mentally exhausted.

My Addison's experience forced me to change everything about my life. I mean everything. I would have never wanted to make those changes, if I were given a choice. Due to the severity of my condition, my choices were extremely limited. My broad existence in life with untold options suddenly became very narrow. However, today the small tunnel has greatly widened again, and I am thankful for many of those forced alterations to my life because everything did become more brilliant and meaningful.

For those of you who are going through painful times of change because of your disease, don't give up. There might not seem to be brighter days in front of you, but those bright days are only hidden by temporary storm clouds. Eventually, the light will peek through and you'll soon find yourself standing in the sun again and it won't hurt as much. Until that day comes, you might have to create your own sunshine. Every little moment that is a blessing is to be your distraction...make it your distraction. This will help you get through the worst. Changing your focus is not easy, but it will surely make you a changed person, and I bet you will like the "new" you, even with the Addison's label and all the ugliness it might entail.

I wish the world were full of perfect doctors and perfect minds who run the perfect tests before it nearly becomes too late, but that's not the norm for most people with this disease. Hindsight is definitely 20/20, but if you've never heard of this disease, then you cannot help the doctors do their job. It's that simple. Your disease is usually a needle in a haystack.

Part of my difficulty from having Addison's was my deep sense of guilt. I felt as if my entire family's stable existence had been altered because of me. Well, it had been. But, the guilt was something that took a long while to push away, and it still can come creeping back with a vengeance. My family also suffered deep emotional turmoil from my illness. All of us were trying to find our way into a new kind of existence. And, we did.

Fortunately, I was given more second chances than I can say. My second chances have been a repeated blessing. Some people have one chance and that's all they get. Life is not fair and it doesn't always make much sense.

So, once you have a diagnosis, fight back by doing all you can to take charge of your life and to redirect it. If you were one of those who were completely knocked off course, then begin the very tough task of trying to get back on course. But, it will be different and the old course may be completely wiped off the map. You will be different. Life will be different. But, I am also here to say, in many ways, life can be much better.

My oldest daughter and me, this past weekend for beach day
in Galveston for my 43rd birthday. I was 33 when I coded from
Addison's disease. My life is challenging, but amazing.
My youngest daughter and me, also this past weekend. I am full of
blessed moments such as these. Every good day is a treasure.
My tiny, tiny daughter, Stefie, who is nearly 21, playing football
on the beach with her sweetheart.
My oldest daughter, Heather, who is 23, is playing with my
dog, Howdy. Heather is nearly six foot tall, she takes after
her daddy, so you can really see how high Howdy can
go in his game of "jump and catch."

Sunday, May 15, 2011

#73 - Sleep; Get It!!

Sometimes we are so worn down, yet we continue to go about our business in full swing. We don't listen to our bodies. The exhaustion is pushed back and we pull every trick in the book to make ourselves more alert.

Everyone can do this, for a while. Then, you begin to really feel run down. You might even get sick and won't be able to shake the overall sense of just feeling yucky.

My youngest daughter and her friend, getting ready to go out dancing!

My grown daughters, in their 20's, have been known to think that they know everything!! They have times of going out with friends, they have too much fun, stay out too late and end up coming back home with only three hours to spare before they must be at work. A couple of days like this, they end of walking around as if they are the walking dead. Unbelievably, they will come up to me about how "sick" they feel, but they just can't figure it out. How can they feel so rotten? Well, staying out all night with your friends and then scrambling to get ready for work while you can barely hold your eyes open might be a difficult task for your body. Hmmm. Just maybe, it's a thought.

As for me, my routine is critical to my health. Since my diagnosis with Addison's disease, I've found that I cannot go long without solid sleep. But, my problem starts with severe insomnia, partly due to Addison's disease and partly due to my body being butchered so many times that it is simply out of whack. It often hurts pretty bad and this can interfere with me being able to get ample sleep. Even taking sleep medications cannot always help.

But, once I do get a good night's rest or if I do grab a two hour hard-core nap, I feel so refreshed and better able to cope with the pain. The bad part of being in pain and being exhausted is that each of those two will create a vicious cycle of downhill health. You must step in and force yourself to get a few hours extra sleep so that you can come back feeling better able to deal with the hard parts of life. Cellular repair happens while we are deep asleep and your mind gets a break while your body rests. Getting some sleep when you don't feel right is something that you must do right away; it's not up for debate.

Now, if you are feeling unwell. Go find a quiet place and take a nap. Or, you can go to bed and if possible, sleep in for as long as you can tomorrow.

My point is...sleep is hugely valuable to our daily health. Don't underestimate it. Don't play around with it. Your mental processes depend on an alert, well rested brain. Let your body delight in the gift of deep slumber and maybe you'll wake up in a bit less pain. Fight for your right to get the extra rest when needed. I'm not giving an endorsement to be lazy, I'm talking about truly listening to your body and getting a day of rest when it is needed. For some of you who are battling chronic illness, your ability to get some good sleep and nap time is exactly what keeps you going. As for me, I'm figuring out that the naps are priceless.

My youngest daughter being woke up by her best-friend.
Tonight, I hope to sleep soundly, but if I don't, I can promise that I will be doing my best to take a healing nap so that I can tackle all that life throws my way...wide awake and strong!

These two little beasts won't give us rest. The Smaller dog is
Howdy when he was a puppy and yes he was a hand-full!
Good thing, he's as awesome as can be these days.!

Tuesday, May 10, 2011

#72 - Count Your Blessings

There are days when things just don't seem to go right. There are times when we feel overwhelmed. Everyone has difficulties, sooner or later, everyone encounters problems of some sort.

But, if you start to feel too weighed down by your circumstances, then it really might be beneficial for your mental and emotional state to truly count your blessings. It's an old saying that sticks around for a reason. When you are jumping hurdle after hurdle with no end and sight and exhaustion is kicking in, then it might be time to let the hurdles fall and start focusing on your blessings.

If things are so bad that you can't even think straight to consider your blessings, then get out a sheet of paper and start at the top --- look around and find something that is a blessing. Go from there. Get on a roll. Counting your blessings can include seemingly "meaningless" things that are actually deserving to be on your list. So many little blessings can add up significantly.

So, when life appears to be a chaotic mess that has less hope and more trouble, start counting the blessings. Make your own circumstances be transformed.

I think this is why I always feel blessed. Even in the midst of my worst moments, I might take a while to have a royal breakdown, but then I start to pick myself up while counting my every little detail in life deserving of thanksgiving. It may be the wind blowing a tree in the distance and the swaying is so beautiful and captivating that it takes me away from my reality. It might be my goofy dog waking me with his huge paw placed gently on my shoulder. It may be the voice of my daughter just calling to say, "Hey Mom." And, I am so thankful that I have a husband who loves me and who admires my strength. If he only knew...I draw so much of it from his own strength.

If you are down, don't wallow. Okay, wallow for a while, but pull yourself out of it after a while so you can exit wallow-land. It's not fun to stay there for long. As my mother used to tell me, "There is ALWAYS something to be thankful for, so start being thankful!" She was right. Enjoy the little things, be amazed by the big things and to everything in between, be looking for the blessings --- they are there waiting to be noticed.

Saturday, May 7, 2011

#71 - Which Dr is for Me?

Choosing your doctor is a very personal decision, yet also a business decision. Sometimes, you might find a doctor with the label of "Endocrinologist" but he has nothing more than textbook brush-up knowledge about Addison's disease.

So often, you will find Endocrinologists involved in a practice mostly involving diabetes. For those who have Addison's, this is not sufficient. You need a doctor who takes an interest in your disease so that they are able to provide the best in foundation care and who will try to understand the health hurdles of a person with this disease. If you get a doctor who seems disinterested, overwhelmed, or full of misinformation...then it is time to move forward and out of that office.

You only have one life, don't take chances.

Additionally, you'll need an informed treating doctor to have on hand when times get rough. If you have a physician who is mediocre, then you just might be out of luck when you most need it. The right doctor is the one who truly understands the life-threatening seriousness that an Addison's patient confronts when there is a stressor.

Many of us need to change our way of thinking toward doctors. Too many of us automatically put every doctor in an elevated position, we see them on a pedestal that might be undeserved. I say, kick the pedestal away and put that doctor on even ground with you. They are in front of you because you have hired them to do a job...just like the rest of us are expected to do our jobs in order to be paid, so are they. Even if you are not working, even if you are on disability, you have a choice...remind them that you still have freedom to take your business elsewhere.

At this point in my life, I see a doctor as a body-mechanic. Just as machinery-mechanics can be good or bad, the same goes for those in the body-health business. Some doctors really are clueless, they might have white-coat ego and are not really interested in doing the dirty business of doctoring. Some are thoughtless and others are simply incapable of doing their job. To be fair, there are also incredible doctors who admit to being failable, yet they have a natural passion for life-long learning and a real concern to provide the best care they can possible give to their patients.

Finding a good doctor is not as easy as simply making an appointment and showing up with blind trust that you will be in good hands. Would you pick a babysitter out of a hundred names in the phone book and go drop your kids off in their care? How many things could go wrong with a person who carries the label of "babysitter?" What about that classic car that needs a fresh paint job? Would you randomly select a auto-body-detail shop and gladly drop off the car with the keys, then hope for the best? Why would our health...our very LIFE be any less important than how we approach other areas in our life? What things must you expect before you "hire out" for any ordinary job?

Now, put having a rare disease into this equation and you will find the availability of a "good" doctor to be greatly reduced. This is where your own pro-activity is critical to your own health. Of course, if you are seriously ill, you are not as able to do your homework as if you were well-abled with the strength to sit behind a computer and do extra research. Recruiting a "friend" is sometimes easier said than done. A hard fact is that we may have times when our illness forces us to go with the flow and hope for the best. However, as soon as you are your part to challenge, to inform and to increase the quality of every moment spent with that body-mechanic wearing a white coat.

Just because a person goes to medical school, does not mean they are automatically meant to be a doctor in your area of disease. If you have truly received below sub-standard care, even low level care that you know could've put your life in jeopardy, then you need to speak up and demand a refund for services NOT rendered, you should verbally make your disappointment known (respectfully) and be sure to follow it up with the same in writing with a note that the letter is to be permanently placed in your medical file as part of the official record.

Again, you're not looking for a miracle worker, but you do need a physician who comprehends the basics of Addison's...the need for an immediate prescription for an emergency injection, the need for prescriptions for your daily medications with the understanding that a tad more per month should be added to your daily prescription for stress-dosing so it is automatically available, and the understanding that regular blood work should be ordered. Foundation issues should be covered without grief. It is part of treating a patient with Addison's disease.

Personally, I've found my local internal medicine doctor to be my best source of care, far beyond my endocrinologist. I have seen about a dozen endocrinologists and most have sadly lacked skills to treat an Addison's patient. But, I know good ones are out there! I have had several tell me that I did not need to worry about keeping an injection on me at all times because I live so close to many different hospitals. Hmmm. What about when I travel? What about when I go to my acreage? I actually told my endocrinologist (at the time) about needing an injection to take to our land and he told me that I should not be going to any place that is isolated. Well, that's not a good answer. What about needing an injection BEFORE paramedics are able to arrive or before I can make it to a hospital which will require me to be registered, to be assessed and before my "rather healthy looking self" must convince the E.R, Doctor on hand to get moving quickly so I can be treated for an Addisonian Crisis? What about the hundred other scenarios when you might need an emergency injection?

Your treating doctor should be pressing you to keep an injection on you at all times and to wear a Medic-Alert item. If you go to the National Adrenal Diseases Foundation,, you will find the best information about emergency protocol that could help save your life or the life of someone you love who has Adrenal Insufficiency. Sometimes, you might have to provide your eager physician with more information. If you have a doctor who is willing to learn more and is pro-active in your care, then it would be beneficial to bring in print-outs for the doctor to read or to put into your file.

One of my endocrinologists was at a loss when I asked him to provide me with any information he could about Addison's, he told me to go home and look it up on the Internet because that was my best bet for learning about this disease. He had nothing. At least he was honest, I can respect honesty.

Regardless, if your doctor is providing you with substandard care and he is not open to making a change, then you really don't want him in your corner when you are forced into an Addisonian Crisis. If he is useless on a regular appointment day in the office, then don't count on him to step to the plate in your time of need.

Your doctor doesn't have to be a miracle worker. But, he should at least strive to go the extra mile to provide the best treatment possible and this means having an ongoing, updated understanding of those patients or his only PATIENT with Adrenal Insufficiency / Addison's disease. Conversely, your doctor's clear lack of interest should equal you saying those necessary words to protect your own health, "You're fired."

Wednesday, May 4, 2011

#70 - Acceptance for Starting Over

For New Year's Day in 2001, I wrote a little prayer for what I felt that I needed to do during the New Year. This journal entry was several months before my mysterious Addison's diagnosis, but I was already very sick. I guess it was prophetic in a way because I wasn't making any New Year resolutions, yet I prayed for areas where I would need acceptance so I could have the chance to start over. And, I knew I wanted to know the truth about what was wrong so I could confront it.

For the first time, I was avoiding the drafting of futile lists. Before falling ill, I regularly maintained my short-term, mid-range and long-term goals. However, by the time New Year's Day had rolled around, I was struggling. My entire goal in life was to just get through each day.

At this time, my body was not cooperating in a normal fashion. I was doing everything I could think of to sift through all aspects of my life in an attempt to get to the bottom of my increasing malaise. Nothing worked, my weakness steadily increased. Each week, I noted in my journals that something wasn't right. I constantly felt under the weather. What had changed? Previously, daily life had come at such ease and I normally had abundant energy, but my physical strength was fast deteriorating.

In 2001, I was in my early 30's, and I even questioned if this was how it felt to be over 30? Surely not! I couldn't imagine things declining that fast, especially because I was in robust physical condition. Regularly, I biked, walked, camped out, hiked in rugged terrain, played racquetball, lifted very active was a cinch. I worked full-time, took continual studies at the University of Houston in Clear Lake and was heavily involved with my children's school and extracurricular activities. My husband and I had even recently took Swing dance lessons and danced at a live Jazz club in downtown Houston. Life had been full and very busy.

The downward spiral I encountered was rather quick, yet my physical frailty progressed over many months. At first, it crept up on me in a way that made me think I was perhaps experiencing a case of being run-down from doing too much. I made alterations by beginning to say "no" more often to outside demands.

After that didn't work, I'd suspect another culprit as the reason for my lack of energy and would make another useless change as my condition worsened. Then, I went to the doctor repeatedly and was told that I had a major salt deficiency and this was probably causing my chronic low blood pressure. The doctor told me, "Put salt on everything, whether you feel like eating it or not, douse your food with salt because your body can't get enough." Actually, I was craving a few salty foods and V8 juice, but I didn't particularly enjoy the salt-shaker-buddy-system.

Looking back to this New Year's Day journal prayer, I remember the emotional aspects that coincided with the physical changes I was enduring. No one seemed to understand, just yet, how unwell I had been feeling. I didn't understand it myself. But, I knew that something had to give and was thinking that maybe it was my attitude toward accepting my "aging" body. Even though I was doing everything humanly possible to find answers...and probably saw more than fifty physicians between the clinic visits, E.R. visits and hospital stays...without a diagnosis until I nearly died, I still felt as if I could do SOMETHING different to change my situation. Part of my New Year was to learn that some things were out of our hands, acceptance indeed.

I kept trying to regain my strength while praying for the urgency over my ill-health to be calmed. Now, I thank God for His powerful gift in us that wills us to do our best to survive. Our auto-pilot puts us into motion with an innate desire to find answers and to get better. Sometimes, it isn't possible. Regardless, a good fight is worth putting up the dukes and ducking, then dodging when necessary. Acceptance was about to be a huge part of my life, but not until the fight had been waged with fierce determination.

My diagnosis literally came as I hung by a thread. For me, it was a long-awaited miracle. I do not see myself as a "survivor" because I simply received the mercy of God, for some reason, and was given a start toward getting my life back...partly through acceptance. Over the next ten years, there would be major obstacles and some lessons had to be relearned, but each time, I came away with a deepened perspective about life. With truth comes the need for acceptance, then the new responsibilities can be tackled. And, here I am.
My journal entry on New Year's Day as I lay sick in bed...
months before my diagnosis with Addison's disease.

Prayer reads: Lord, I pray this New Year will be a year of peace,
understanding, forgiveness, looking forward, accepting battles
you can't win & start over - a year of more responsibilities,
a year of learning & of truth.

Monday, May 2, 2011

#69 - Morphed Roses

What is a valuable lesson to be learned from having health battles? I believe a huge take-away lesson is to see the simplistic things in life more vibrantly.

The old saying "...stop and smell the roses," is an old saying for a reason. It has profoundness. When you are one-track minded and too rushed in life, you don't make enough time to stop to smell the roses or anything else for that matter, unless it intrudes upon your senses, unwelcomed. Those roses for me, after my diagnosis, morphed into that precious moment of listening to my child sing along with the radio, to being hypnotized by the trees swaying in the breeze, to feeling the touch of my husband's skin against my own and in hearing music as rich as Mozart in someone's laughter...things have become skewed in a more beautiful, meaningful way. In many ways, I feel like a child again --- simple life experiences are fresh and captivating.

I'd always loved photography as a amateur hobby. Watching people and focusing on nature through the lens of a camera had always been a fun past-time. However, after I was diagnosed with Addison's, I began seeing photography in a different way. I would look through the viewfinder and see the world with a foreign brain. Everything I had once ignored or had not found worth my time (the roses) had suddenly become fragrant and needing to be preserved by making time to notice or more permanently remembered by the click of my finger.

Hurricane Ike damage still seen here near our home.
Beautiful Danger.
Today, photography is fun. There isn't much posing. I rarely have a "wasted" shot because I can often find some element in the shot worth saving by cropping. I find joy even in the weird moments and am enthralled by standard, boring still-life that screams at me to be noticed.

Liter at a boat launch near our house.
To be fair, there was a huge city celebration at the bay, the previous day.
Eventually, I began taking studies at the University of Houston - Clear Lake for photography. However, I elected to not study digital photography. My professor, Van Edwards, was incredible. He let me choose what I wanted to do, within academic reason. Even my Advanced Photography classes embraced the dark room and all that comes with such an addicting ability.

My grandmother was a professional photographer. My uncle was a professional photographer. These people worked in the old photography studios when the cameras were not self-adjusting, you had to know what you were doing. Best of all, my brother-in-law is an accomplished, published photographer and I have his link attached to my "favorites" at my Home Page. He is an old-style, take it to an ultra-talented level photographer. He even builds his own pin-hole cameras out of antique lunch boxes, cardboard cereal boxes and whatever else he can find. I am jealous.

I am a happy girl this past weekend as we have old-fashioned fun.
I am thankful for my Addison's and other health issues for opening my eyes wider than was originally physically possible. Just as the camera lens can be changed and re-focused, so has been the road for the lenses built into my God-given eyes. After Addison's, I had a marked shift of focus. Nothing looked the same as I peered through the same eyes I'd been born with. Life itself was different. Red became more than a color, it became a great statement. Dull brown became brilliant and shimmering to my altered perspective. My world had changed.

This past weekend...cast net find that won't let go!
Since I don't have a dark room, I enjoy my little digital camera. For me, all the gadgets, cool computer programs and endless digital alterations will never compare to the excitement of being in the dark-room as I watch the image take form...controlling light and shadow in an intimate manner. Still, I am currently a digital gal.

Today, when I take my camera around with me, I am enticed to capture the smell, the sound and odd things overlooked. Simplistic is fantastic. Mingling my internal eye with the eye of a camera brings new life to me. For this changed blend, I am thankful.

Serenity within five minutes of our house,
as long as a hurricane is not approaching!