Wednesday, May 24, 2006

Think YOU can't make a difference?

I think everyone needs to see this Sarah McLachlan video. The song is called "World on Fire" and, although I do like the song on its own, I don't think you can possibly get the full intent of it unless you see the video. It's really amazing.

Music Video Codes By


Tuesday, May 23, 2006

Bad Night

Today is going to be a rough day. It's pretty easy to realize this right now, at 5:12 AM, by the simple fact that I am awake. It would be nice if I was awake for some exciting thing - like getting up to go off to the airport on a trip (which will be happening a week from tomorrow) - but that's not the case this morning (or night? it still feels like night). Tonight was a bad night. I got to sleep alright, albeit at about 2:00 AM, but around 3:00 AM (just an hour later?) I was woken up. First it seemed my bladder had done the waking up but within minutes it was clear that my bladder was not at the top of my list of concerns as horrible abdominal pain started up. Despite the horrible pain, I managed to get up, stumble around to grab my IV bag (figures I'd choose to do my infusion overnight tonight), and make my way to the bathroom to empty my bladder. That didn't help the pain at all but it at least took my mind off of that concern. The pain was horrible. I dealt with gallbladder attacks for about a month and a half before finally getting my gallbladder out in November 2002 and that's the worst pain I've ever had, at least during the worst attacks. This pain was as bad as that. I managed to grab my heating pad and get back into bed but couldn't manage to get any relief or find a position that would minimize the pain. Writhing around in bed at 3:00 AM is really not my idea of a "good" night.

Thankfully, after about 10 or 15 minutes of this (with questions flashing through my head, including wondering if I should a) wake my parents up and/or b) prepare myself for a visit to the ER) the pain started to subside and eventually got down to an okay level. With my heating pad still on my belly, I managed to drift off to sleep only to be woken up about 15 minutes later with round 2. I went through the same thing - writhing around in bed a bit, whimpering or moaning quietly, trying desparately to find a position that would help but not finding any relief. It lasted about the same amount of time as the first round of it and then subsided and I drifted off to sleep briefly again. And then, yep, you guessed it, round 3 started around 3:30 AM (or sometime near there - I wasn't keeping careful watch on the clock during all this). Same thing as rounds 1 and 2 but with each reoccurrance of the pain, I became more and more worried and came closer and closer to throwing up into my handy "barf bucket" that I keep by my bed (I've never actually thrown up into it, so it's not gross or anything).

By round 3, I decided that if it kept happening or if I started throwing up, I would have to wake up my parents and decide whether or not a trip to the ER would be necessary. Thankfully, it seems that things do come in three's as I haven't had a worsening of the pain since the third round let up. I've been awake since then, though, half worried the pain will come back and half wanting to look things up online to try to figure out WHAT could be causing the pain. At least back when I was having gallbladder attacks (or at least towards the end of when I was having them) I knew what was causing the pain (and earlier on could at least have a pretty good suspicion of what was going on since I was on an IV antibiotic that is known to cause gallstones). But this time around, I really don't know what could be causing the severe pain. The location of the pain isn't much help - pretty much in my upper abdomin but localized on either side of my belly button (but a little above it). I feel like, when the pain was happening, I could have drawn two circles of where the pain was, one on each side of my abdomin.

I was trying to run through the possible causes in my head - kidney problems seemed possible but that's mainly felt on the sides and in the back; I looked up information about the early signs of appendicitis but the kind of pain doesn't really fit (and I'd have to wait until it moved to be more localized in the lower right part of my abdomin before I'd be able to seriously consider this); it could be something in my bile duct since the pain is similar to my gallbladder attacks, but I don't know what would have caused that; or it could be something with my intestines which is likely since I now have an official diagnosis of a motility disorder (although my diagnosis is of gastroparesis which is focused on the stomach). Whatever it is (or was), it will most likely be the cause of a rough day ahead. Going on an hour of sleep for me is just setting me up for a huge crash.

Everytime something like this happens - when I have a rough night because of one symptom or another or when a new, bad symptom pops up - I wonder if it's a "normal" thing that I'm experiencing or if it has something to do with my myriad of health problems. Do "normal" (and by "normal" I mean "healthy") people sometimes wake up in the middle of the night with severe, intermittant abdominal pain? Would a "healthy" person head for the ER at the first sign of severe pain? Or would they wait it out like I did? Have my constant health problems made me less likely to seek medical attention when something bad starts up because I just think it's nothing, or will go away on its own, or just want to make sure it's really serious before heading for the hospital? I wonder, if I were "healthy" and I spent the night the way I spent this (last?) night, what would my response have been?

I guess when your life is more or less ruled by medical issues, diseases, treatments, and testing, you are changed in more ways than might be generally noticed. You're changed, not just in how you see the world or how you spend your days, but you view potentially bad (health) situations as something to just "wait and see" about. I'm rambling a bit now, but afterall it's 5:40 AM now and I'm going on an hour and a few winks of sleep. Perhaps it is time for me to try to get back to sleep for at least a little while. Hopefully the pain won't come back (although right now there's a low-level of pain, but it's managable) and the rest of my day won't be too bad. I fear that one bad night will have a domino effect and cause a bad week...or even longer. But for now I'll just focus on getting through the night...err...I just looked outside and it's officially morning - the sun is up - not something I was hoping to see today (dawn, that is) but perhaps it will be calming to experience this time of day once in a while.

Sleepily yours,

Friday, May 12, 2006

Memories and Solitude

When you reflect on your life so far, what stands out for you? What event jumps first into your mind? Do you look back at your life and smile or does it bring a tear (happy or sad) to your eye? Do the good memories stand out more than the bad ones? What do you see when you think about your childhood? Do you see happy days spent on family outings to the beach or to some amusement park? Do you remember the little things that have helped to make you who you are? Or do you see that you have become who you are IN SPITE of your past experiences?

Questions. Questions upon questions upon questions. I can't answer them for you, and perhaps I can't even answer all of them for myself. The past has a funny way of either blurring together into a big blob, maybe with certain days, trips, or experiences standing out and begging to be remembered clearly. But at the same time, past experiences have a way of sneaking back up on you. It may have been years since you went through a rough breakup with a significant other and you might think you're over it, but the memories have a tendency to pop into your mind when you're not expecting them. Maybe you're driving past a place that you used to go with your girl/boyfriend and start to remember the time you spent there. Or maybe you're just sitting around watching TV or reading and all of a sudden his/her face pops up into your mind. Taken off guard, you might smile and remember the good times with that person or you might start to feel your stomach turning, still raw from the hurt that that person caused you.

Memories are funny. The ones you want to escape from the most are often the ones that stay with you the longest and become the most vivid. And some of the memories that you want to keep with you forever, for whatever reason (the brain's selective memory?), become fuzzy and fade into the background. Can you remember playing with your siblings or friends when you were really young? Did you play dress-up or house or build forts in the backyard (or living room)? Can you remember your first day of school, whenever that might have been? Can you remember your first pet? Your first big vacation? The things your family used to do on the weekends? Are these happy memories?

Okay, enough questions. I'm not sure why all of this is coming out of me right now. I've had a million ideas for things to write pop up into my mind over the past few weeks and months but of course they tend to pop up when I don't have an opportunity to write down the idea so I'll remember it. I seem to do my best thinking while driving around. I guess it's because that's a quiet time for me without a TV or AIM or anything major to distract me and I'm able to really be with myself. Of course, there's always music on in the car (usually, sometimes it's a book on tape) so that's a bit of a distraction, but there aren't any major things to take my attention away from my thoughts. Maybe it would be good for me to spend some time everyday sitting quietly with some soft music in the background - no distraction from the TV or computer to get in the way - and see what's going on in my mind.

I suspect that would be good for all of us. To stop the hustle and bustle of everyday lives and just BE. Do we as Americans even know what it is to just BE? Be us, be with ourselves, be with the noises and sights that surroud us, be with nature, be with whatever is going on around us. We are shown that if we are not doing something every minute of every day, we are being lazy. There is always SOMETHING that needs to get done - the dishes, the laundry, that trip to the grocery store to pick up some things, the grass needs mowing, the cars need washing, etc. Don't let yourself succumb to this belief. Quiet time is not only okay, it's NECESSARY if we are ever to figure out who we are and what we need. We don't really NEED that new CD, or the new computer game, or the new fancy coffee maker. What we really NEED is ourselves - to know who that is and know that it is enough.

Let the memories that want to surface, surface. Let the memories that need to be worked through come up and out of us so that we can release them into the wind and let go of what makes our hearts ache. We all have some kind of heartache, we may just think it's not there because we never give ourselves the opportunity to let it come out. We stuff it deep down and bury it with other things. But repression can only work for so long, eventually the memories will come up and out and you may not have any control over it if it gets that bad.

So take some time today and tomorrow and the next day and next week and next month. Take some time to sit in a safe place and just BE with yourself. If you have pain that you have been ignoring, let it out and let the breeze carry it away. If you have good memories that need to be remembered to remind you of who you are and what you are capable of, let those come out and strengthen your heart and soul. Renew your energy. A mind that is cluttered with too much is not going to be able to handle the everyday difficulties without slowly causing more pain and frustration. Do not let the world decide who you are for you, figure it out for yourself and don't let anyone tell you that you aren't good enough when you are just you. Believe that you are enough. You don't need to transform yourself into someone else's ideal. And in becoming who you are, you will bloom into the flower that is inside you waiting to come out.

Yours always,