Friday, April 7, 2017

The Power of Prayer





Many times in the course of my life I’ve turned to prayer for help with a difficult situation and many times I’ve received answers to those prayers in different ways. Someone once said that when you offer a prayer for help it’s heard and received but delivery times may vary. In other words you can trust that your prayer is being heard and answered but those answers may come in a variety of ways and will be delivered to you in God’s time of choosing. It makes sense to me that my time frame might not work with God’s plan so I choose to trust in his plan for me. I would add that we need to be open to receiving his messages and acting upon them. If one isn’t sure of the message then prayers for clarity in understanding are useful as well.

This reminds me of a story I once heard; a person had been on a boat that sank so as they tread water they prayed for God to save them from drowning. A log floated by but instead of grabbing onto it they continued to tread water and pray. Next a board floated by but they continued praying. Finally a boat came by but instead of taking the assistance offered they said that God would save them and so they continued treading water until they couldn’t anymore and drowned. When the person got to heaven and asked God why he didn’t save them He replied; I sent you a log, a board and a boat and you refused all three. What more could I do?

The reason I mention this story and being open to receiving messages is because when I was at my lowest and praying for help I needed to be open to messages too. Doing so led me to different therapies that have helped me recover some of my health and from some of my worst problems. I am still a work in progress but at least its progress! I strive for progress not perfection and trust that I am where I’m meant to be.

I hear from others who believe in the power of prayer and have stories of their own in regards to receiving answers. One of my stories can be read right here on my blog. It’s called “Message from a Stranger”. If you don’t feel your prayers have been answered remember they have been heard, be open to receiving messages, and delivery times may vary.

I wish you all healing, hope, peace and love.

Yours in Faith,


Betsy

Monday, February 27, 2017

One Decade



What is a decade? A decade can be viewed as ten years, 120 months, 520 weeks, 3,652 days, or 87,648 hours. If you’re young it might seem like a life time. Tell a 7 year old that wants a bike that they have to wait ten years and you probably won’t like their response. Even to a middle aged or elderly person it’s significant. No matter how you look at it, it is a considerable amount of time.

Well I was floxed ten years ago and it’s a considerable amount of time for me too. It’s a long time to be fighting chronic health issues. It’s a long time to endure pain and to struggle. It’s also a long time to learn something new and that’s what I’ve spent countless hours doing. I’ve researched and learned about safe alternatives to prescription and over-the-counter medications. I’ve learned how to live a healthier lifestyle, help others to do the same, and I share my knowledge. I’ve learned to be my own advocate and to not blindly trust doctors.

It daunting to think of how much I’ve lost during that time. All those hours, days, weeks, months and years that I’ve lived with pain and disability when I could have been doing so much. I could’ve been a stronger more present mother, wife, sister and daughter. I could’ve continued enjoying the things I did before suffering from FQAD such as snow and water skiing, jogging, taking pilates and exercise classes, swimming and more. So it’s with this realization that I will not go back and spend time mourning what I’ve lost and I will instead focus on what I’ve gained.

I’ve gained compassion for others because we truly never know what others are going through. I’ve gained knowledge that I try to share with others to prevent them from going through what I have. I’ve gained insights that I would’ve never had if I hadn’t lived this way for the past ten years and I’m grateful for all of that and more. It's been a defining decade; of both bad and good for me.

I’m a floxie. I’ve been floxed for ten years now. I suffer floxing and/or FQAD (FluoroQuinolone Associated Disability). However you want to say it, qualify it or name it. Ten years ago I began taking the first pill of a ten day prescription; 500 mgs of ciprofloxacin twice a day. I only took four pills. That’s all it took to change my life forever. It’s my floxiversary and my best advice to stay healthy is to eat for your health. Don’t take your health for granted because you never know when it might change. Eat organic, no processed foods or sugar, avoid added chemicals; avoid pesticides and GMO foods (Genetically Modified Organisms). Eat the way Mother Nature intended us to. Shop the outside of the store. Spend the bulk of your food budget on fruits and vegetables with some good quality organic grass fed protein and your body will thank you for it. You’ll have more energy, fewer aches and pains and a better, stronger immune system to fight off illness.

This advice applies no matter what illness you are suffering and it applies to healthy people too because we never know what our “tipping point” will be. Pesticides like glyphosate can compromise and might shut down our sulfation pathway in the body. This can lead to cancer which is why I recommend organic foods. GMOs are foods whose DNA is genetically altered in a way that could never happen naturally. This is much different than hybrids which are cross pollinated in a way that can occur in nature. That is why many people call GMOs Frankenfoods. The bulk of corn and soy in this country is genetically engineered or GMO which is why I avoid eating them because the truth is very little study has been done on these foods to determine the long term affects  on our health. Processed foods often contain chemicals, flavorings, colorings, and can have added sugar and salt that aren’t good for us. There are ways to prepare healthier options that are quick and easy so choose wisely. For instance adding some fresh squeezed lemon and raw honey to a glass of water is much more refreshing and uplifting than adding a scoop of sugary powdered lemonade mix and it’s healthier too. So I recommend eating like your life and health depends on it because it does.

Yours in Health,


Betsy

Tuesday, February 7, 2017

Caregivers



Caregivers for the chronically ill are truly special people. I’ve heard countless stories of those who became disabled only to have their significant other leave them. But there are also many more that stay and take on this important role. But caregivers can also be a parent, sibling, friend and/or neighbor and to those people I say thank you for all that you do for your loved one. I can’t emphasize enough how important it is to have someone support us in our fight to regain our health. The chronically ill are warriors but having support in our battles lightens the load for us.

Having been the caregiver for my family in the past it’s very difficult to relinquish that role to someone else. It’s hard to admit even to myself that there are things I can no longer do.  I fought it for a long time right up until I fell and broke my hip a couple years ago and wound up in a wheelchair. I’m back on my feet now but only because I use a walker. I miss having that role but I do my best to help out when and however I can.

Recently I went away for a couple of days because we were invited to stay with another couple in a similar situation as ours. The wife has health issues not too unlike my own and the two husbands are our caretakers. Like me the wife was very athletic and capable. We both had very similar interests before our health issues took those from us. Both of us were injured by medical professionals but the circumstances are very different. Our spouses on the other hand are still very active and can do all the things we used to do with them. So the two husbands were able to leave for the day to go skiing and I’m happy they had the opportunity to do so. You see it’s important for caregivers to get away now and then and live their life too. They need a break to have fun and enjoy activities that those of us that are ill or disabled can no longer do. I used to call it a mental health day when I would take time out of my routine to do something like going skiing and I think caretakers need that time off too.

As a former caregiver I see both sides of this situation. I miss the days when I could be the one taking care of others. I’m sure that many like me do too. I also see how important it is for my husband to get a break from the routine to do something fun now and then so I do my best to give him those opportunities. I tip my hat to the caregivers of this world especially those that care for a chronically ill loved one. Thank you doesn’t seem to be adequate in this instance for all that they do for their loved ones. But I thank you from the bottom of my heart.


Betsy

Friday, January 13, 2017

Friday The 13th



I first learned about the superstition behind Friday the 13th when I was a little girl. I remember coming home from school and telling my Dad that the following day was going to be bad and that I was frightened. He replied to me that it was just a superstition and that he believed each day was what you made of it. He told me that he’d always looked at Friday’s that fell on the 13th as good days and that your luck was what you made it to be. In other words it’s all a matter of perspective and that your outlook would determine the type of day you would have.

This simple conversation with my father changed my perspective and when the following day passed uneventfully and was actually a good day it changed how I came to view this superstitious day as well. From there on out I have always thought of Friday the 13th as a good day and I haven’t been disappointed. I have my dad to thank for that. His positive outlook created a positive feeling for me as well.

Sadly my dad passed away years ago but I think of him often and I miss his presence in my life. I also think it’s no coincidence that he passed away on a Friday that happened to also be the 13th of the month. I firmly believe it was his way of telling me that he’s okay and that everything happened as it should. For some losing their father on a Friday the 13th might confirm the superstition surrounding the day but for me it sends the opposite message. My father always believed it was a lucky day and I find solace in the fact that he passed peacefully at home with his wife and two daughters. It still hurts to have lost my Dad but I know he went the way he wanted to.

So I wish for all of you to have a good day. I know we are battling illness and pain but as my dad always told me each day is what you make of it. Keep fighting the good fight, find your strength, make your mess your message and never give up! People fighting chronic illness are some of the strongest and most compassionate people I’ve ever met. So remember on this “Friday the 13th” that you’ve got this today and every day.

Blessings and Healing for all of you,


Betsy

Thursday, January 5, 2017

Charlie


In February of 1944 a young British royal navy radar specialist aboard a Frigate was sailing the seas on a mission when his ship was torpedoed. The ship managed to limp into Newfoundland where those aboard thought it would be repaired. When the damage was assessed it was found to be so extensive as to be irreparable. It was a miracle the ship made it to port at all. This particular radar operator then found himself stationed in Boston for nine months while a new ship was built for the crew.

At the same time a young woman belonging to the Second Church in West Newton was working at the Watertown Arsenal. She was one of only four woman to be employed there by the federal government because she had the necessary credentials; a Master’s degree in library science. This church was an amalgamation of four religions including Congregationalist, Presbyterian, Methodist and Episcopalian and sent out newsletters to invite soldiers from other countries to the church for social meetings on the weekend. It was there that the young woman and British navy radar operator would meet.

This soldier in the royal navy would become my Uncle Charlie and the young woman is my mother’s sister; my Aunt Ruth. Aunt Ruth is 94 years old now and sadly my Uncle Charlie passed away many years ago. But this Christmas we had the pleasure of my Aunt’s company as she visited us from England where she has lived since the two met all those years ago. As she told us this story of my Uncle who was one of the kindest and most pleasant men I have ever known she told us another story too.

Uncle Charlie was in his radar tower, one of the highest points on the Frigate, amongst ice bergs when a huge wave washed over the ship. It swept my future Uncle overboard while his mates watched helplessly as there was nothing they could do to help. Then another wave came and washed him back onto the ship where his mates were able to rescue him. His ship mates said it was a miracle he survived. My family and I believe God had plans for him that included my Aunt. He would carry the scars of that incident on his back for the remainder of his life. As a younger woman I never knew any of this about my Uncle. I only knew that he was kind, happy, and fun to be around. His love of life was evident to everyone that ever met him.

Life presents adversity and challenges to everyone. Some challenges are more difficult than others to be sure. But it is those very same struggles that shape us into the people we ultimately become. It is how we handle adversity that shapes our lives. Being chronically ill is a significant challenge that floxies face on a day to day basis. The struggle is real and constant. Sometimes things happen that catch us off guard even when we think we finally have “it” under control that shake us up and remind us of how much we’ve lost physically. This happened to me on Christmas Eve when I picked a gift during our annual Yankee swap. A gift given with love that reminded me of physical things I’m no longer able to do.

As a girl I could never have imagined that my happy loveable Uncle survived being washed overboard and torpedoed. I was unaware that his back was scarred. As an adult with chronic illness I wonder if it was those very same experiences that gave him that zest for life that was so apparent to everyone that knew him and that brought tears to my Aunt’s eyes as she spoke with love of the man she married.

Life is full of challenges. It is how we handle them that determines our character. Chronic illness has interfered with my plans for my future as I can no longer do the things I once could. I’ve had to readjust my expectations and that is what I have done. I can still be present and enjoy life. I can still love those that I’m blessed to have in my life. I can still give back to others albeit in a different way. And I can honor my family with love and respect.

Your Friend in Adversity,

Betsy


PS I hope you enjoyed the stories about my Uncle Charlie and Aunt Ruth; two very special people in my life. Even though they live far away from me they have always been close to my heart.

Second Church is also where my parents were married and here is a photo;


Tuesday, December 20, 2016

The Wounded Animal



Anyone who’s ever watched a nature show has probably seen a wounded or trapped wild animal and people who’ve tried to help them. There are usually a couple scenarios that happen. In the first scenario the animal struggles but somehow recognizes that help is here and doesn’t attack. In the second scenario the animal tries to defend itself but once freed recognizes the help and runs away. In the third scenario the animal puts up a vigorous fight; clawing and snapping at the very people trying to help the animal.

Over the years that I’ve been floxed and involved in the support groups I’ve met many different people that I’ve reached out to. Initially it was for help and then eventually to try to help others. That’s why I began this blog. It’s one of the ways I try to give back to the community that helped me many years ago when I was struggling and injured. Over the years the various reactions of other floxies have been much like the reactions of a wounded animal. Most are appreciative of the help, others are frightened and some lash out in anger and fear. Just like the rescuers of a wild animal I recognize that those who lash out are angry, frightened, and lack understanding of what the “rescuer” is trying to do. These are the people that often need help the most and yet they tend to push the very help they need away.

As a floxie and one who lives with chronic issues I’ve found those who push us away often need a compassionate response. I’ve found when they lash out my knee jerk reaction is a defensive one. However I take a breath and respond to them with the knowledge that they are in pain, suffering, angry, and frightened. In doing so I can calmly let them know that I don’t deserve to be treated poorly, was only trying to help them, and then I wish them healing fully prepared to distance myself if only for self preservation. But what I’ve found is that same person that lashed out at me will often step back, realize what they’ve done and apologize for it.

It’s important to mention that when someone does lash out it hurts. No matter how far out from floxing and the amount of recovery one experiences. From the perspective of a long time floxie who’s come to terms with what’s happened to them it’s still upsetting when you try to help someone and they take out their anger on you. So I’m not telling anyone to put up with being treated badly. I’m merely suggesting that you try to understand where they are coming from and respond with compassion. I’m also saying that for those that behave like a wounded animal and lash out please remember that those you strike out at are sick too. Please put yourself in the other person’s shoes for a minute. Ask yourself if you’d like to receive the message you’re about to send before you send it. If you feel it’s harsh then stop. Don’t send it. Tone it down and remember that the recipient deserves to be treated with compassion. We all do.

There can never be too much compassion for others in this world. Remember even if you think you’re worse off than someone else it doesn’t mean the others aren’t suffering too. It merely means their issues are different from yours. Not better or worse just different. Also remember that they may have issues that they aren’t telling you they have. Issues you know nothing about. Respond to people with kindness and they will often respond the same. Respond to people with anger and… I’m sure you get the idea. Once again; there can never be too much compassion for others.

Yours in Health and Compassion,


Betsy

Monday, December 5, 2016

Holiday Survival Guide


As the holiday season approaches I think of how nice it will be to see my friends and family. I also acknowledge how stressful all the social gatherings can be. Over the years I’ve developed ways to cope with the chaos and my physical limitations which I want to share with those like me suffering chronic health issues.

The first thing that I think of with the holidays is stress. As much as the holidays are about joy, friendship, and love so too are they filled with stress for those of us dealing with chronic illness. When you’re struggling with functioning on a normal day the added organized chaos of the holidays can be overwhelming. I recently read a book that touched on coping with stress. My take away from it and what I now practice is a process of acknowledging stress when I feel it. I say “Hello stress”, smile, and mentally embrace it. I say “I know you are there” and then add “thank you for letting me know I’m alive”. I find this simple acknowledgement reduces its power over me and I go from a feeling of dread and anxiety to one of peace and looking forward to doing what was making me stressed in the first place. Please try it and let me know if it helps you too.

Before I became ill and as a mom of three boys the home was my domain. I did all the shopping, cooking, cleaning and laundry as well as working and volunteering. I’m no longer physically able to do those things so I enlist help and I recommend you do too. As an example my husband now cooks dinner as I’m limited in what I can do. So this past Thanksgiving I thought about what I could do and what we needed. We hosted a small gathering at our house which meant cooking a full meal and desserts. We love pie so two days before I enlisted my husband’s help to make pumpkin pie. Then the next day I enlisted my son to peel the apples for apple pie for me and had him there to assist me as I put it all together. Next I had him put it in the oven for me and when it was done he removed it to cool. The next day I peeled what potatoes I could and when my hands started cramping and hurting I stepped aside, had my son take over and directed my other sons to set the table. It turned into a real family affair prepping for our dinner and it was one of the nicest meals I’ve ever had.

How we got ready for Thanksgiving in our house brings me to my next tip for survival which is to pace yourself. While it seems a simple concept it’s very easy to get swept up in the commotion and forget this important tip. How I’ve learned to accomplish this is to schedule things in such a way that I have some down time to regroup and recover between activities. This is very important when dealing with chronic pain and fatigue. It allows you a chance to put your feet up and give yourself some time before you tackle something else. It also ties into how I prepared for Thanksgiving as you might have noticed I didn’t try to make two pies in one day but rather spread them out over two days. And then Thanksgiving morning when there were more able bodies around we put them to work. We celebrate Christmas in my house and I’ve had a request to make my raspberry white chocolate cheesecake which is a labor of love. I made this before I got floxed but it is time consuming and physically demanding so for years I stopped making it even though the requests kept coming. So now I make the raspberry puree before I make the cheesecake as it requires pressing raspberries through a strainer to remove the seeds. It’s time consuming and often causes my hands to cramp and become painful. However I’ve found that if I do this the day before then I’m good to do the rest the next day. I’m all about pacing myself now and I’ve found doing so helps me to get through the holidays in pretty good shape.

I’ve also learned to adapt my expectations. By this I mean I’ve adjusted to my limitations so I know what I can do and what I can’t and my family has as well. When someone offers to help me by getting me something to eat or drink I let them and am thankful for it. While this might seem a simple thing it’s an important one. You see I used to be so independent and capable that I didn’t need help because I was the caretaker. The roles have changed however and now I’m the one who needs help. Learning to accept help was difficult but I have adapted and now do so graciously.

And last but not least if you need something let people know. If it’s the comfortable chair in the room and you’re in pain and need to sit down then ask politely if you could use the chair for a few minutes. If you’re thirsty or hungry enlist someone to get you a drink or food. Or if you need to lie down somewhere quiet for a minute do that too. If you’re at a social gathering and are feeling rundown and know you have a commitment tomorrow then say your thank you’s and head home. It took me time to get to the point where I spoke up when I needed something. For a long time I tried to push through and do things myself but I found that it didn’t work out well so I’ve had to change. We spread out our commitments to what I can manage and I ask for help and try to state my needs more clearly.

So pace yourself, enlist help, adapt your expectations, ask for what you need, and acknowledge that the stress you may be feeling lets you know you’re alive. Recognize that feeling stressed means you’re living life in all its beautiful chaotic glory and be thankful for it. It’s amazing how simply acknowledging it in a positive way defuses the anxiety and worry that often goes hand in hand with feeling stressed. If you’re still feeling anxious squeeze those limes and drink the juice for some help with anxiety or pause for a few minutes to do some deep breathing and meditation to help you relax.

So try to enjoy this holiday season and embrace the love of being with family and friends with all the craziness and commotion. You can do this!

Yours in Holiday Spirit,


Betsy