Sunday, September 29, 2013

A summary of my week of HOPE

So for those of you that don't know/didn't know, I was admitted to IU Med Center last week for 4 days for some pretty extensive testing.

I've been having issues since last November of every time I eat, I will either pass out or HAVE to fall asleep. Like it's not a choice. You can't keep me awake for anything. Every single time I eat. Or should I say ate.

After a lot of complaining and protesting and telling people that seriously, this is not ok, and it's really affecting my quality of life and my ability to succeed in school I fired my GI doc because he just wasn't doing anything. So approximately 5 days after I fired my GI doc I get a phone call from his nurse basically saying you wanted us to do something, we're doing it. We've suspected my eating is not related to GI at all, but a potential mitochondrial disorder, but the earliest I could get in with the geneticist was December 30th. We also have suspected that if we feed me through a feeding tube and by pass food going past my vagus nerve then I won't have to sleep after I eat because it won't be stimulating my autonomic nervous system, or that I am just plain out using too much energy digesting my food from the probable mitochondrial disorder I have so if I'm not digesting food because the tube feed is already digested for me I won't have to sleep either.

So my GI doc got me admitted for 5-7 days, which ended up being 4, which will really end up being 7 in the long run days in the middle of the semester and nearly got me kicked out of my program at school.

Our plan? Feed me through an NJ tube to see if that alleviates my symptoms while I'm hooked up to a telemetry pack and get my blood pressure taken every 15 minutes. And have that geneticist that I wasn't supposed to see until December come and run 5,000,000 tests on me and ask me 10,000,000 questions. The only reason I agreed to do it in the middle of the semester was because of the geneticist. Honestly. Oh, and because it was like God told me I couldn't not go.

I've been waiting for this extent of testing for at least the past 5 months and it never came together. And now it did. Randomly and suddenly. And I got the phone call the day we were talking about listening to the Holy Spirit telling you what to do and to do what He is telling you to do and right before the sermon on Hope. Which is kind of my thing.

So I went to the hospital. After some scheduling snafoos, some room snafoos, and some more scheduling snafoos. I went down to get my NJ tube and I came back like this.
Then they started feeding me through the tube. Then they decided to have a speech therapist come see me to talk about my swallowing. Then she decided to try to feed me, but my throat hurt really bad from just getting a tube shoved up my nose, down my throat, into my jejunum. So my swallowing was even worse, so I got to do another barium swallow study, when I just had one 2 weeks ago. And again it was normal, of course.

Somewhere in here I also got a picc line since I have no veins (which they didn't let me keep and I'm super bummed about), got some saline started, got about 30 tubes of blood drawn.

We had to not let me eat so we could see if the tube feed was making me better or not and if you've never been tube fed before you wouldn't know this, but you have to work up to your goal rate, so I was basically only getting 240 calories a day for 2 of the days, and still only made it up to about 880, maybe 1100 calories a day the whole time I was in the hospital.

Tuesday I started saying that the tube feed was giving me lots of energy and I felt like I was more awake than normal. So then a neurologist shows up and thinks this (along with some other issues I have) are weird of course so he wants to do a 24 hour EEG and telemetry. So then I got hooked up to this contraption

 And ended up looking like this:
Then I got really bored because I couldn't get out of bed at all and they didn't want me to move much so it didn't interfere with the results of my test, but ironically the tube feed formula was really kicking in so I had tons of energy and spunk so I took pictures of my Saline and my "Food" and did a whole bunch of homework while I tried to drown out my really, really annoying roommate.

Then they made me eat to see what would happen if I ate "real food" since I was doing so well on the tube feedings so I ordered some food, ate it, and immediately fell asleep. So then the decision was made that I would become a tubie. But I will also be able to eat and drink normally too, when I want to as long as I'm in a safe place so I can sleep. So then I waited around to get my J-tube surgery and while they were doing that they were also going to do a small intestine biopsy, stomach biopsy, and thigh muscle biopsy to get more tests for the mitochondrial disorders.

I ended up not getting any of my tests back for the mitochondrial disorders yet (they take weeks to get back). My EEG and my telemetry stuff both show I'm not having seizures or that it's not my dysautonomia that is making me sleep when I eat.

My surgery ended up not being able to be done last week because of the surgeons schedule. So I will be having the surgery done on Wednesday of this week.

I'm a little nervous, and it's a big life adjustment. But I've just spent 2 full days awake which is the first time in almost a year and today I even felt like crap, but I didn't need to take a nap. So I will take it. I think. Though I'm really not excited about it. At all. But no one asked me. Well 3 people did, but none of them were my doctors or nurses or dietitians. So I'm a tubie now, I've got my NJ tube until my surgery Wednesday, then I'll have my J tube, and I'm hoping it's a lot better then the NJ tube. Now I'm gonna go to bed and try to sleep while I "eat" attached to my IV pole so I can have some energy tomorrow. Now there's some HOPE for you. Energy. Life. Despite the illness.

Wednesday, September 18, 2013

2 years ago today.

2 years ago today, I had lost my job 18 days ago. I had flown to Indiana to talk to my mom about it. I had already been offered an interview at a different school system. 2 years ago today, 14 days ago I flew back down to North Carolina and went to church like always and asked for direction and prayer and that God would do His will, but that His will would be that I would get to stay in Salisbury for the rest of my life. Because that was my "home". 2 years ago today, 13 days ago I had a horribly high fever (102.5), couldn't stand up, my colitis was flaring something horrible, but I got in my car and drove the 40 minutes to my interview in the next county over, because I just knew God would never ever tell me that He was going to make me leave Salisbury, ever. It was His Will that I was to live in Salisbury for the rest of my life. I just knew it. It was so perfect. I loved it. I loved my church. I loved my friends. I just knew I was going to love my new job, it was at an elementary school (which is what I really wanted originally anyway). I was working with the youth group. Disciple Now was this weekend. Young Life was gearing up. Upward was awesome. I was volunteering at the farm again. How could God say no? 2 years ago today I could not stay awake, when I was awake I was running to the bathroom getting sicker and sicker out whichever end was pleasing at that time. My fever was now up to 104. Then my phone dinged. I was a well-qualified candidate, but they decided to go with someone else. Seriously God? I'm dying and you are telling me you aren't going to let me stay in Salisbury right now? What else? At this point, I really think I can't take anymore and I call my friend Misty and say I think I need to go to the ER. I really think I need to go to the ER more over heartache than what is coming out of my bum and my mouth, but I would soon learn I am very wrong.

When I go to the ER and run to the bathroom to puke my brains out one of the many times, just as the doc is getting ready to send me home because he thinks my colitis is just a little flared up and I keep telling him I'm fine I've got life to live, my friend secretly tells him I'm a lot sicker than I let on and I need to be admitted. I come out of the bathroom and fall to the ground. The doc asks me if I just threw up and I say yes, he said what color is it, I say yellow, he says "that's bile, that's a direct admit, that's really bad kid", and it begins the longest, hardest 13 days of my life.

I only spent about 3 days at Rowan, I was too complex for them. I was pretty much comatose at this point. I was so malnourished it's not even funny. I was transferred to Concord and put in CCU because my potassium was so low my heart could have stopped at any second. I was also on TPN for nutrition because I couldn't eat anything by mouth. They weren't sure I was going to make it for part of the time I was in the hospital. My mom was in Indiana. It was really scary. Luckily my church family was awesome and there every day. I weighed 99 pounds. I'm 5'9".  That means my BMI was 14.6. For all you non-dietetics students, a normal BMI is 18.5-24.9 and almost no one can fit in those parameters and I was 4 whole points underweight.

I eventually, obviously, got better, and got to go home. And food, TPN, lots of milkshakes and ice cream, and Klor-Con, and some pretty smart dietitians saved my life. 2 years ago, during this hospital stay, is when I decided I was going to be a dietitian.

2 years ago is also when God said no. The doctor walked in my room around September 28th/29th/30th, when I started getting a little better and said, "You're going to be getting to go home soon, but you can't live by yourself, you are too sick. You're mom lives in Indiana. You have to move there. You can't take care of yourself." And my world ended. Or so I thought.

Since I've been here we've found out I have several more really severe chronic illnesses that would be very difficult to live on my own with. It would have also been very difficult to move with them in full force, so it is like God was moving me ahead of time so that I was settled when it happened and could just be taken care of. I have found a church and a C-group that I love. My mom just so happens to live in a town that has a competitive dietetics program that I just so happen to have been accepted into on my first try. And I just may have found some of the most awesome doctors that are willing to try and find some pretty rare things and try different treatments to help me have as good of a quality of life as I can for as long as I can. And that is pretty cool.

While I'm on that note, I found out today, on my 2 year anniversary of being so close to death, that those pretty cool doctors I spoke of, have decided due to my quick deterioration of health lately that it will be best to admit me to the hospital for at least 5-7 days next week beginning Monday. I will be under the care of 2 GI doctors, a dietitian, 2 different neurologists, a cardiologist, and a geneticist. We will be exploring all kinds of options and things including doing my "mito" testing (which wasn't supposed to be until the end of December), an NJ tube, and whatever else they decide they want to do. I'm not really looking forward to it, especially the missing school part. But whatever. It's all part of God's plan. And I'm much more hopeful for spending a week in the hospital during the anniversary of 2 years ago as finding a path to more quality of life than making sure that I'm even going to survive. It's the circle of life. And I'm hopeful we find good treatment plans and solutions and answers.

"Now faith is confidence in what we hope for and assurance in what we do not see." Hebrews 11:1

Tuesday, September 17, 2013

Four Hours A Week

The debate of the semester (between my counselor, my friends who have the same illness I have, and myself) has been a heated one. It has been this, which should be a simple question, why is it that I can be little miss advocate all over Facebook, to my doctors, in the classroom, and more but not stand up for myself at clinicals?

Why do I insist on going every week and refusing to advocate for my needs fully in demanding to use my wheelchair? Asking to sit down while looking at charts? Taking my water bottle with me? Having my salty snacks with me? Why every where else but here? Why can't I advocate for myself at clinicals? This should be a simple answer, no? So why can I not tell anyone why I can't advocate for myself here, at the hospital? Why do I have to be super human here? Then I have to deal with the week long crash afterwards because I don't advocate for myself to get my accommodations that I deserve at my clinical sites. Why have I not been able to answer this 'simple' question that affects my health so drastically to anyone, including myself?

Well, I answered it today. For some reason, today, after a long day of clinicals, walking out of the hospital, on my way to my car, praying I would make it before I passed out, sipping on my water that just had a whole bunch of salt dumped in it to get my salt and fluid intake up fast...I answered my question without even realizing it...with all the chaos of my body going on, cars passing in front of me, under my breath I whispered "Damn, that was fun."

And I started bawling. That was the answer. 4 little words. After 4 long hours. After 3 weeks of not knowing why. It was such an easy answer. You see for 4 hours a week, I get to be a productive member of society. And I really, really miss that. I really miss feeling useful. I really miss feeling needed.

For 4 hours a week I get to pull my hair out trying to remember equations I learned 3 semesters ago and put them into use. I get to try to figure out what diet is best for this patient, what diet is not so good for this patient, is this patient going to even listen to me no matter what I say. I get to try to do math I can barely do because I have no oxygen in my brain because I've been standing up for far too long and all the blood is pooled in my feet. I get to look at labs while I'm trying to fight off the hot flash I'm having from the drop in blood sugar I'm having. And I love every second of it. Those that I can remember that is. ;)

For 4 hours a week, I get to be the person holding the chart. Not the person that the chart is being dictated about. I get to be the one making the medical decisions. Not the one the decisions are being made about. I get to be the one looking at the labs, not the one getting the labs done. I get to be the one making sure the patient is eating properly. Not the one getting checked on to make sure I'm eating and ordering enough food and that my food is the right consistency. Today I got to assess and do a plan for a patient by myself for the first time ever. That means I had to find everything all by myself in the chart, do the plan, find the calorie intake level recommendation, etc and then go in the room and talk to the patient and educate them, and then come out and write my diagnosis, recommendations, and monitoring and evaluation recommendations. And it felt amazing. Maybe that's why I had this breakthrough today of all days. For 4 hours a week, I'm not chronically ill. For 4 hours a week, I'm not sick. For 4 hours a week, I'm not a patient in the hospital. For 4 hours a week, I'm the one treating the patients. For 4 hours a week, I'm the one making people feel better (hopefully). For 4 hours a week, I'm the one that is making the decisions that will impact their care. For 4 hours a week, I'm normal.  And this part of my brain turns on, and I can't turn it off.

Humans need to feel needed. Humans need to have a purpose. We are created to be useful beings. That is why there are so many instances in the Bible where there is mention of doing good work and deeds. Because we are made to do things. We are not made to sit on the couch and do nothing for the rest of our lives. And that is exactly what having a multitude of chronic illnesses at such a young age where you are told that you will never be able to work again does for you. It sucks your purpose right out of you. And with it goes your joy. Even if you don't mean for that last part to be true and do everything you can to make it stop. When you lose your dream job at 26 and then start taking classes for a job that sounds really, really cool that you know you will never be able to work at in the typical way it makes you wonder what your purpose is. Right now, I am not sure what my lifelong purpose is. No. But I do know my purpose for 4 hours a week I get to change lives and do what I would like to do full time for a small amount of time. Today, I don't think I found my purpose, but I think I remembered it. And I know I fell back in love with dietetics. And I know I fell even more in love with God for helping me realize my purpose, especially given how perfectly this fits in with what tomorrow's blog was/is going to be already (stay tuned)! And it caused me to walk out of the same hospital today that I walked out of crying Friday as a patient frustrated beyond belief after another stupid test, bawling my eyes out because I had finally found my purpose there, I had finally figured out that I love being there (as a staff member/student intern/whatever). It's so important to always remember that you always have a purpose, no matter what you think. There is always a purpose for your life. Always. Don't ever forget it. And always go after your dreams, because they just may come true, walking out of a hospital, that you've walked out of 400 times (as a patient and a student), thinking different thoughts, until it hits you over the head about why you are really there. 

Monday, September 16, 2013

Positivity Prevails

When I was teaching, one of the teachers that I worked with would always walk around on bad, rough days (which there were a lot of at our school) and say "positivity prevails" and remind all of us to be positive despite our very negative work experiences.

It always encouraged me and reminded me to look for the positive in the workday, no matter how hard the day was.

Lately between school and life and doctors and being what I call "real people sick" I've been feeling very negative lately. Very negative. Then I woke up this morning and I was at that level of pain where I literally couldn't see straight, wanted to vomit, and could barely move at all. I knew I had to go to school, because I don't really have a choice in the matter because I get 2 absences for the whole semester so I have to save the days where I don't go to school for days where I actually may be dying (which have happened before, so I have to plan for them). I was getting dressed and I was like "why me?" and then I remembered that I was choosing to overcome and then I remembered that I was alive today, and somebody somewhere didn't wake up today. So I was going to be positive. Because "positivity prevails." Then I decided that I was going to combat today's pain and fatigue with a positive attitude and random acts of kindness. And ya know what it worked. Imagine that.

This summer I saw this quote and got my friend to make me this meme for it and just love it. And it's so true. If you don't think that pain, thoughts, feelings, symptoms, etc., can change the chemistry of your are lying to yourself.

So I got dressed in a nice for a feeling crummy, it's kind of chilly out outfit. Put my dog in her crate and went off to school. 

I stopped at Starbucks and got one of my friends a grande caramel machiato because she had a bad week last week (and I got me one too, of course). Then I went to class. 

We were told we were getting our tests back that we took last Friday. Ya know the same test that I wrote about that I couldn't stay awake during, didn't know half the answers to, literally wrote on one of the questions "I know the answer but dysautonomia won't let me tell you" and on another calculation question "multiplier factor x 2.0932 = selling price" because I remembered how to get the 2.0932 but not the multiplier factor so I figured I would get at least 1/2 credit (which I did) but didn't know the rest. Well, at first I was really nervous, but then I remembered I was being positive today. I took my test out of the box and looked at my grade and I got an 82!!!! Holy cow!! 82!! That's a B!! That's passing!!! In our program you have to have a B or higher to be passing, C's and below are not passing. I passed a test where I was not even awake during, in excruciating pain, and was writing ridiculous answers. Then it got even better (for me, not my classmates...sorry classmates, if you're reading). Our professor posts the breakdown of the grades for the class and there was 1 A, 3 B's, and the rest (so 13 people made below a passing grade). So with all that other crazy stuff going on, I made one of the 4 passing grades in the whole class. How is that for reaffirming?! After we went over the test, we had some lecture, and talked about the church dinner project we have to do, but our lecture was considerably shortened because of the test talk and church dinner talk, more positive news. :)

Then we had our clinical round table class which is always fun because basically we just talk about what we did at our sites the week before, what can be better, make our professor go off topic, tell fun stories (that relate to medical nutrition therapy), talk about what kind of patients we should look for this next week in our clinicals, and go over our Monday homework. It's a pretty fun class. 

Then I had a nice break and got some gluten free lunch. I was also able to talk to the people at the medical supply company where I got my wheelchair and they said they would be able to fit in fixing my wheelchair today, so I wouldn't be without it for very long. Then I went to counseling and had a good session there as well. I ran my wheelchair to the place to get it fixed and he said that it would be done within the next hour, but I didn't have an hour, but he said I could pick it up tomorrow morning! Considering I was thinking it would be 3 or 4 weeks before I got it back, this really excited me. Then I went to acupuncture. 

At acupuncture she said they had just gone to an advanced acupuncture seminar for continuing education the previous weekend and it focused on people with difficult diseases and chronic illnesses and one of the diseases they covered was EDS so she learned some new ways to treat me possibly. So we re-worked everything and did completely new points this time and (knock on wood) my pain cycle is completely broken for the first time in 3 weeks and I can't believe it. There is still some mild pain in my most painful joints (like my wrists) but for the most part, my pain is reverted to where it was before school started!!! Praise the Lord!!! Is it because I went in with a positive attitude? Is it because the new sites worked better? Who knows, I'm just happy it feels better!

Then I tried out the brand new frozen yogurt place that opened up for dinner (yes, I'm gonna be a dietitian and I got fro yo for dinner) and then I took my dog on a car ride to get some coffee! The rest of the night I've been lounging around, relaxing, talking to some friends on Facebook, watching some Dancing with the Stars and Bones, and being happy. 

Now this blog could have been written a lot differently. It could have gone  little something like this:
  • Got the lowest grade ever on a test that I didn't know all the answers too
  • Had to sit through 3 hours of lecture
  • Had nothing to do for the hour in between class and counseling
  • Had to go to counseling because I need a counselor because I need someone to help me cope with my 38434432423 chronic illnesses that take over my life
  • Had to rush to the southside of town to get my wheelchair to the shop to get my wheels replaced because my tires went flat
  • Had to rush back to the other side of town to get to my acupuncture appointment on time 
  • Had to wait forever while they explained to me the new system and points from this stupid conference
  • Had nothing fun to do tonight because I had to conserve energy for my clinicals tomorrow so just got to sit on couch and watch TV and talk to friends on computer
  • Went to bed
  • Boring, horrible day.
Same activities right, but much different outlook. It really was a pretty rough, exhausting day. One that I really didn't feel 100% during, but I choose to be positive during it and it made it better, even if it was difficult at times. Perception is everything. 

All in all, considering I woke up today wanting to go back to bed and curl in a ball and cry I think it's been a pretty great day. Today may be the first day in months where I didn't feel like I needed to take a nap all day either. I stayed awake by myself for most of the day (besides while I was at acupuncture, but they encourage you to sleep there). And it's all because of a positive attitude. 

I Choose to Overcome

Well, Invisible Illness Awareness Week is coming to a close. Well, it's closed actually (or will be by the time I finish this post) and I realized I hadn't even written a blog about the slogan of the week which was "Invisible Illness isn't a choice, but I choose to______" and I'm choosing to overcome. I'm not only choosing to overcome, but one day at a time. Because let's face it invisible illnesses are overwhelming little boogers.

So what does overcome mean? According to the dictionary overcoming means to succeed in dealing with a problem or difficulty. This is why I am choosing to overcome one day at a time because you can't fully deal with chronic illness all at once. It's just not possible. But a big part of what I've learned from overcoming, I've learned from the Bible and from Jesus. Especially from the verse “I have told you these things, so that in me you may have peace. In this world you will have trouble. But take heart! I have overcome the world.” John 16:33. There is just something about realizing that one person (even though He is like God) can overcome the whole entire world that makes me think that I can overcome a couple little measly chronic illnesses for one more day, right? 

So how do I overcome my chronic illness? I do things like go to school every day despite how sick I am, stand up for myself even though so many people think I'm making this all up, I still stay built up spiritually through a C-group at my church and going to church. I have hobbies. I try to stay as active as I can despite falling asleep all the time or other symptoms I have constantly. 

I also use quotes and Bible verses and song lyrics to help me overcome. So the rest of this post is going to be quotes that I thought were indicative of chronic illness and overcoming circumstances. This is A) because they say it better than I could and B) because I'm tired and in a lot of pain and this is easier.

So here is some overcoming inspiration for you:

This is very much the truth! And I'm being reminded of it constantly lately
Must remind myself daily.
How apt that Helen Keller, who had disabilities herself, realized the value of overcoming too.

Overcoming more and more everyday. 

This does not specifically have to do with overcoming, but it hangs in my room next to my bed which is where I end up when I'm too sick to do anything else: In case you can't read it very well it says:

some days
I can be strong, I can be weak
I can be proud, I can be meek
I can be gentle, or I can be tough
I can explode when I've had enough
sometimes I laugh, sometimes I cry
sometimes I lose, but I will always try
I always get up, when I get knocked down
and make a smile, out of any frown
I hope that God likes me, the day that we meet
if only for chance, to sit at His feet
and be by His side, year after year
while all the bad things just disappear
so when life gets tough, and it's hard to be strong
I'll never forget....

To me this last poem that hangs on my wall, next to my chronically ill self, that is usually is staring at it after I've just failed at overcoming for the day sums up our life with chronic illness (or any trial or tribulation for that matter) up perfectly!!! Every day is a struggle, every day there is good and there is bad. But we have to get up when we are knocked down, laugh it off and try again. Because God is waiting for us, to sit at His feet, where there is no more pain and no more sorrow. Heaven is where we belong folks. We don't have to worry about overcoming, He's already done it for us. But we do have to fight, until He calls us home. We also need to remember that these breakdowns that we are having are just breakthroughs to a better me and a greater future because I am an overcomer through Christ! 

Friday, September 13, 2013

Zebra University

Having chronic, invisible illnesses is tough, really tough. Being in a competitive dietetics program in your last semester before internship is really tough. Writing a thesis and doing your own research study for that thesis is really tough.

Having chronic, invisible illnesses while being in a competitive dietetics program in your last semester before internship and doing your thesis at the SAME time, I've decided is just plain STUPID and really tough. And it looks something like this just happened. 

****Disclaimer: I'm going to write this blog piece in the most respectful and polite way possible. Nothing I am saying in this particular post is against my institution, my clinical placement site, or any person. I absolutely love my professors, my program, and where I am placed for clinicals right now. This posting is about how I feel physically, not how I am treated. Period. Do not read anything else into it.****

I was really excited when I got my schedule for this semester, I told everyone it was like the Heavens opened up. After last semester of having 8-4:30 Monday-Friday of classes or clinicals I was so excited of this semesters schedule. Classes are Monday, Wednesday, Friday 8-12. Clinicals are Tuesday 12-4. That's it. How could it be more perfect. Look at all that free time!!! Hallelujah!!! What was I going to do with all that free time? I was actually not going to have to miss class for doctor's appointments anymore, I was so excited. I found out my schedule last spring. That was before I progressed so much. 

Now let me tell you what. I have no free time. Almost every second of that "free time" is filled with a doctors appointment, treatment, therapy of some kind. And if it's not it's filled with some kind of intense homework assignment or studying. Because what they don't tell you when they give you that schedule is that our classes don't fill up our time anymore because the 2 classes we have this semester are SOOOO hard and time consuming outside of class they can't give us anymore classes because they are so hard (and I guess I should have guessed that since they are 5 credit hours each). 

Anyway to give you an idea, I'll show you a typical 2 week schedule for me (because I alternate alternative treatments every other week of what my schedule looks like by showing you my schedule for this week and next week). 

This week I had: class on Monday (our 8 am was a field trip though, then rushed to class on campus), then an Applied Health Sciences department picnic (in the sun on a 100 degree day across campus and I didn't use my wheelchair), then I had counseling, then I came home and went to bed. Tuesday I had clinicals from 12-4 and that was it (but it was plenty since it's a lot of standing and I decided I was 'real people' sick on this day and for the rest of the week too). Wednesday I had class til noon, then I went home and crashed until 2:30, had to run back up to school to drop off a worksheet for homework I forgot, then ran back to the other side of town and went to the chiropractor and got a 30 minute massage and then went to a new C-group (Bible study) which I loved. Thursday I had my infusion at 8, went to lunch, and didn't do much else (besides fight on the phone with doctors offices all day) because I was so worn out, including didn't study for my test today which was a really bad decision, but I just couldn't because my body just couldn't do it. Today (Friday) I had a test at 8 am, class at 10, then a Barium swallow study/speech eval at 1, then I came home and slept for 4 hours and went to my cousin's bday party, and now I'm back in bed again.

Next week I have: class on Monday til 12, counseling at 1, and acupuncture at 3. Tuesday I have clinicals from 12-4. Wednesday I have class until 12, then I have to go follow the certified diabetes educator for 4 hours at the professional office building. Then Thursday I have my infusion in the afternoon (maybe I can sleep in?). Then Friday I have class until 12, then an appointment with my rheumatologist at 1, my general physician at 3, and a massage at 4. 

All of this is in between having a to-do list just this weekend of:
  • Take chapter 4/CDC module 3 test
  • Take chapter 8 Medical Nutrition therapy test
  • Take chapter 9 medical nutrition therapy test
  • read chapter 5 for food service systems
  • read chapter 13 for medical nutrition therapy
  • read chapter 5 for epidemiology
  • do Monday homework for medical nutrition therapy
  • clinical write up
  • epidemiology paper outline
  • work on food systems paper
  • work on file box project

Oh yeah, and then I've got to worry about ya know the being sick part. The fact that I'm in unrelenting pain all the time. I have a consistent headache all the time. I can't stand up very long without feeling like I'm going to pass out (but I have to for clinicals and have to walk around which makes me subluxate and disloacte from my EDS). I have blood pooling which causes edema and swelling. My neuropathy is getting worse and so everything is tingly and numb all the time and my feet are super, super bad. The joint pain (which I think this is the 3rd time I've mentioned in some way) is the worst it's been by far this semester. I'm nauseous all the time to the point that it's debilitating. I choke all the time, on food, on my own saliva, sometimes on the air. Sometimes I randomly quit breathing and we don't know why? I can't stop coughing. My eyes are always in pain too and hard to focus. My colitis is flaring again which just really stinks because it's been in remission for so long. The blood pressure and heart rate are going back and forth so much it's not even funny and my glucose level are all over the place. Oh and let's not forget that every time I eat I feel the need to fall asleep within 30 minutes and can't stop it no matter what I try. And eating is pretty important so I have to do it so I just have to fall asleep in class, sorry, can't help it. And now I've gotten to the point where I'm falling asleep pretty much all the time. Because let's face it put all these symptoms together with all this school business and it's exhausting and you just can't do it. But for some reason I am. 

I'm pretty sure I'm failing at it too. No matter how good I look on the outside. No matter how many times I know the answer in class and can raise my hand (I probably only know the answer because I've had that test or procedure done to me, not because I know the theory, let's face it). No matter how much you think I have it together, I don't. Today, for instance, I drove zombie like to school and took 1.5 hours to take a test that was 10 pages long and by the time I got to page 5 I couldn't even read the questions anymore, let alone answer the questions accurately. I was in so much pain it was no even funny. I don't know what I got. But I bet it's not good. On one of the questions I literally wrote, "I know the answer, but dysautonomia won't let me tell you right now," because this teacher would prefer a humorous (though it's not humorous to me or my grade) wrong answer than nothing written on the page. I can't imagine why after the night before last only getting 3.5 hours of sleep from pain. Being super nauseous all day yesterday, dealing with doctor drama from 2 different offices, feeling like crap and fatigue yesterday that I couldn't study because I couldn't read, finally did study some, but not enough and when I was studying nothing stuck in my head. Then getting to school today after getting about 6 hours of sleep but having a migraine and being nauseous and worried about a test I'm having later that afternoon. Why would I not do well on a test? Why would school be so difficult?

 But I know there is a plan. I know that I'm over a quarter of the way into the semester. I know that I can do this and I'm not giving up now. So I've just gottta stick it out and do the best I can and rest when I can. This post was just to let people know what it's like to try to balance a chronic illness with a college (graduate student, though I don't think there is a difference in level) education. It takes some work, it takes some balance, it takes some dedication, but most of all it takes God. And here is a part Bible verse, part addended (yes I made an addendum to the Bible y'all, but someone else did it first and i liked it) thought to end on in relation to all of this. I can't worry about what's going to happen. I can't worry about tomorrow. I don't know what's going to happen. But I do know this. She is clothed in strength and dignity and she laughs with no fear of the future, for her hope is in me! Proverbs 31:25 (plus 6 words). If I can remember that He has my future in His control and that I have continue to have hope then it will all be ok and me and God will get through this semester a-ok, together. 

Thursday, September 12, 2013

A Picture is Worth a Thousand Words

Still continuing on the theme of Invisible Illness Awareness Week, I saw this brilliant blog post over on Life as a Zebra and I'm totally going to copy it just a little bit (and by a little bit I basically mean I'm going to steal her whole idea and I hope she doesn't mind. But I think awareness is awareness and this is brilliant, and the more awareness there is the better. And I'm at least putting my own pictures in, but it's her idea, and I'm giving her credit.)

You always hear those of us with Invisible Illnesses say that you can't see our illnesses and that you will never truly be able to understand how horrible we feel because you just can't ever get how we feel inside our bodies because on the outside of our bodies we look completely normal. So I'm going to share a couple of pictures with you of how I looked on the outside and caption them with how I felt on the inside.  I'm in no way "seeking attention" by doing this, asking for sympathy, eliciting emotion, or anything like that. I'm just trying to let you know how we look on the outside when we feel as bad as we do on the inside. I hope this gives you some glimpse into the life of someone with an invisible illness.
This was right when I was first getting sick. It was Christmas 2005. Everyone was commenting on how great I looked because I was so thin and I always had so much color in my cheeks. No one knew the color was from flushing from standing up too long and the skinniness was from severe weight loss due to going to the bathroom sometimes over 20 times a day from colitis that was undiagnosed at this point. I went to this conference and at this point knew I was extremely tired all the time and couldn't tolerate a lot of foods, but they told me I had mono and that's all I thought was wrong with me.  In this picture we had just finished staying up past midnight talking, just like any normal college kid at a winter Christian week long conference, right?
This was right after I had landed in Mississippi for a class trip for my Mississippi Delta Blues class. I was so excited for this trip. Unfortunately the plane ride made me violently ill (which we would have known would have happened if we knew I had dysautonomia, in fact right after this picture was taken I vomited from the pressure change) and my colitis was acting up (which we also didn't know I had yet), so I spent most of the trip in my authentic blues cabin in a cotton field in the middle of the crossroads with my favorite music professor ever rubbing my back and feeding my prophylactic medications while everyone else had the trip of a lifetime.

This was at my favorite job ever, working as a camp counselor at an camp for people with Autism Spectrum Disorders. A lot of times I really hoped that my campers would need to take a break in the sensory room, just so I could take a break in the sensory room because my senses were getting over stimulated too and I needed to lay down on the big air pillow and take a break before I passed out. This was definitely one of those times. See how red my face was. Definitely a sign that I was about to pass out. You can also see I'm getting pretty thin. In about 3 months from this picture I would end up at my smallest of 99 pounds.

Here's me at Christmas with my family. We are up to 2009 now. So this is my first Christmas break as a full time teacher and full time Masters student. My first Christmas break as a diagnosed severe Ulcerative colitis patient and first Christmas dinner as a diagnosed Celiac. Notice the considerable weight difference in some of the pictures. At this point I probably weighed around 105 pounds. This is not the lightest I got, that would be 2 years later, when I almost died from the colitis. But look how happy and normal I look, don't look sick do I?

This is when I went to the Bahamas for my graduation present cruise. I don't look sick here either. I did spend the entire cruise running place to place trying to find a bathroom because I was flaring because I didn't know I had colitis at this point yet. You can also see my hypermobility from my EDS in my legs some, if you know what you're looking for, I sure didn't, I just knew it hurt to walk a long way, but I thought it did for everyone. I didn't know that not everyone's long way was like 1/2 a mile though. 

This was taken on one of my BFF and my road trips to NYC. We walked around the city from one side to the other. I was in horrible miserable pain from fibromyalgia. Almost in tears, but I wanted to see the city. This is also before (TMI ALERT) I was on depo provera for my endometriosis and PCOS and I had been on my period for over 3 months straight and I wanted to kill someone for ruining my 25th birthday/NYC/BFF extravaganza!!! Also, when you're on your period your colitis flares, just because it's fun. So that was going on too. Plus, of course I felt like I was going to pass out. But I got this great picture. And we had a pretty good vacation anyway!!! 

This picture was taken last summer, notice the weight change!! That's from medications! My dysautonomia and fibromyalgia pain had started progressing pretty quickly so my BFF and I decided to have a last hoorah vacation and went to Portland, Maine. We went on a whale watch, which wasn't that intelligent for someone with nausea, motion issues, pain issues, etc. The benches were rock hard. The waves were hard. It was rough, but we saw 3 whales!!!! 

This is today, me getting my IV that I get every week to make sure that I have enough blood volume to make my blood pressure stay a little bit above 100 at all times (and sometimes it doesn't even work for the whole week, if I'm standing up for a LONG time at say like...clinicals). I get 2 liters of Saline, every Thursday, it takes 4 hours out of my week. I study or do Facebook, or do this (blog), sometimes I call it Thirsty Thursday, sometimes I call it Spa day. Either way, I need it to survive. But on the other side of this arm, I look like this: 
at 8:00 in the morning at the infusion center (having to wake up at 6:45 to get there) after going to sleep finally at around 3:30 in the morning because of being in such bad pain I couldn't sleep which I so endearingly call painsomnia. Also, on the inside of this body I'm super nauseous, have a headache on the verge of a migraine, don't want to stand up to go to the bathroom because I'm dizzy because all my fluids aren't in me yet. Also, my pain is at a super intense level despite a massage and a chiropractic adjustment yesterday because it feels as if both my wrists, elbows, knees, ankles, all my toes, and my lower back and hips are out of place. Most of my muscles hurt too, undoubtedly from the massage, because it's the day after. But I have no fever, or signs of infection according to my nurse, and look perfectly healthy, right? 

And these pictures my friends are why we have Invisible Illness Awareness Week! Because my Invisible Illness, is also my Visible Hope! Who said a picture couldn't be worth a thousand words after all?

Monday, September 9, 2013

Being Comfortable In My Own Skin

I have had this blog post in draft form for over 2 weeks. And I have made major changes to it every single time I come back to it. I was going to try to write this inspirational, positive, amazing piece about how my illnesses have not taken over my life. About how despite the fact that I am 28 and sick with at least 8 at this point chronic invisible illnesses that doesn't matter because I know that I am not my illnesses. I saw this picture on Pinterest (I told you I spend a lot of time there) and was like "Look, the perfect graphic to go with the perfect blog post, on how I'm perfect because I've learned to realize that I'm not my illness." And it has all that has remained constant about this blog post for the past 2 weeks. 

The words in this graphic are true. Oh so true. But they are also very false at the exact same time. Because you see when you are 28 with (at least) 8 different pretty severe chronic illnesses you may be MORE THAN your illnesses, but you most definitely are part of your illnesses. Or your illnesses are part of you whichever way you want to look at it. When you go from a 25 year old (the year my illnesses took over my life) who had her world turned upside down, lost her job, lost her home, lost her identity, lost her passions and hobbies to her illnesses, had to give up her "dreams" to her illnesses; to a 28 year old who is just starting to figure out how to find life again one day at a time, one moment at a time, a 1/2 mile at a time in between constant doctors appointments, IV infusions, acupuncture sessions, massage therapy, counseling, physical therapy, and more doctors appointments, while going to grad school to pursue her new "dream" all while being told she can't do's hard to not believe that my illness is not there, is not part of my identity. 

So, here on the 1st day of National Chronic Invisible Illness Week, let me ask you, why should healing be all about being not my illness? And if I am my illness, can I still be not my illness too? Why can't I be Meggers? Why can't I be both? Why do we spend so much time focusing on this is the sick part of me and this is the well part of me and they HAVE TO BE mutually exclusive? And why does it bother us so much that we (I) have invisible illnesses, why does it matter so much if it's visible or not? 

Let me tell you what, 5 hours ago I would have answered all these questions differently. Then I went to counseling. And I found out I have some really deep seated issues about myself and my disabilities. Who would have thought? (Haha, sarcasm, joke). Anyway. 

We've determined that I have some really deep issues that I haven't dealt with yet about the fact that I'm sick and I can't control it and I want to be normal and I want to do normal things because I'm stinking 28. I'm in my prime. I should be able to do all sorts of things. I should not end up in bed after standing up for 4 hours at clincials. It should not effect me for a full week. I should not be scared to go in tomorrow because I'm nervous about the effects it will have on me this next week if I'm already this severe from the past week. I am constantly fatigued.. I cannot stay awake or feel refreshed for the life of me. I'm all the time in pain, but I'm even nervous of what people think about me for that too (do they believe I'm in pain? do they think I just want drugs?) Plus, my life is a constant schedule struggle between which dr's appointment can I fit in here and what therapy I can fit there and which class can I miss because I haven't missed it yet, and can I find a ride to that appointment because it's too far away to drive too, and have I taken this med, did I forget to take that one, did I check my blood pressure, how 'bout my blood sugar?

But then, on the flip side I have my non-sick self. I am doing great things with my life. I run several support groups on Facebook for others with chronic illnesses and help support people. I am a graduate dietetics student in a competitive program with almost an all A GPA (but some A-'s so it's not quite a 4.0). I'm working on a thesis that may help provide more evidence for a possible non-narcotic pain management treatment for fibromyalgia--with diet! I play piano and bassoon when I feel well enough. I go to church and belong to a C-group to get my spiritual fill. I am still working on starting a chronic illness small group. I hang out with my friends when I can. I own a dog and a cat. I love to cook. I love having fun in safe ways that are good for me. I love pretending I'm training for a half marathon. I love developing relationships with people. 

So are these two paragraphs mutually exclusive? I don't think so. I think they are totally inclusive of each other. I think that I need to figure out how to be more embracing of my illness side actually. I think I've got the advocacy, I'm gonna post this on Facebook, I'm gonna tell people what I have part down. But I don't think I've got the I'm gonna love myself because "my life as I know it is over because I have this stuff" part down. That's the part I need to work on. Personally.  My counselor thinks that I perceive people as judging me all the time and pressure myself to do more than I should so that "people" aren't judging me, but that I'm really judging myself, because I'm not doing what I should be able to do as compared to others my age. That's the part I can't get past, but that's me. But that's why I say the words in that picture I posted are absolutely true, but absolutely not true at the same time. Because I am not my illness. My name is not dysautonomia, fibromyalgia, EDS, endometriosis, PCOS, celiac, colitis, possible mitochondrial disease. My name is Meggers. But those are a part of me. And I need to learn to accept that. 

As a closure/side note/whatever. This is a quote from the sermon at my church this weekend. Our church is starting a church wide C-group Bible study this week and the sermon this week was on We are One. The first point on the sermon was that "He makes us unique." and he used 1 Corinthians 2:17 and then said this, and it's a direct quote...I played it back several times to get the 2x4 over the head right (our sermons are on the internet live streaming).
"He has made you unique. He hasn't made you like other people, stop worrying about it and be yourself! What if you could be comfortable in your own skin? What if you were comfortable in the skin God gave you, instead of trying to be like everyone else?"

Well ain't that the truth, Scot? If only it were that easy. I guess that's why we get a do over. And why there's a Heaven. This is my goal for this week. Trying to be more kind to my body, by not judging myself, and being comfortable in the skin God gave me. Because I am not my illness, but it is a part of me. 

Saturday, September 7, 2013

A Little Bit of Coffee and A Whole Lot of Jesus

It is a well known fact that I spend a great deal of time re-setting my brain (read procrastinating) on Facebook and Pinterest and other social media outlets because grad school is hard for normal people and for someone with 14323942 medical diagnoses it's REALLY hard, especially when most of those make reading and retaining the information you read difficult. I don't know if you've been to grad school. But it's all about reading and retaining the information you read. Anyway, I digress. One day, when I was on Pinterest, re-setting my brain (truly it was the summer so it didn't matter) I found this jewel of a quote and about said out loud in my bedroom well ain't that the truth.

I immediately decided that this sentence is what was going to get me through the next year of my life, cause I graduate next August y'all!!!! I've got a canvas ready to paint the saying on it and hang it on my wall.  I've got it written every week in my planner. It's on a note card in my car. Seriously. 

Now, I don't know about y'all, but when I adopt a mantra I want to know where it comes from so I googled the quote, someone had to have come up with this brilliant statement, right? Katie Davis did. She is brilliant for more than just her mutual love of coffee and Jesus. She wrote the book entitled "Kisses from Katie" and it's amazing. I read the whole thing in about 2 days and was so enthralled the whole time I wrote a book report thing of it here and how her experience as a missionary in Africa compares to my experience as a chronic illness advocate here in America. It was such an amazing book, let's just leave it at that, now back to my post. 

Why did I immediately fall in love with this quote as soon as I saw this and decide I was going to post it all over my life and do everything short of tattoo it on my hand to remind me? Well, number one, I'm a coffeeholic. Every time I get coffee (which is at least once a day) my life gets just a little better and a little more stress free. Plus, I've been a barista at least 4 times throughout my life. I'm pretty sure if they hooked up coffee in my saline infusions instead of the saline I would be ok with it, but they don't really allow that. 

Second, I really love Jesus. A lot. We're best friends ya know. Every time I get mad or overwhelmed or feel like I can't go on, something happens and it's like oh, hey, yeah, that's God there reminding me that I'm not in this alone. It's really, really important to stay in the Word and stay in tune with God when you are chronically ill because the littlest things can throw your whole viewpoint off guard and mess up your whole day and doubting your whole life or your whole reason for existence. And if you thought being in the Word was important being chronically ill, being in constant conversation with Jesus is SO important being a chronically ill grad student. You are constantly challenged not only physically, but mentally as well and your body is pushed to the max. Hopefully in the end it will be worth it. 

Looking for the signs of God around you is important and fun to do too! The small things that you don't even think about are the biggest signs from God to me. I always have the Christian radio station playing in my car and I'll be having this thought go through my head and the next thing I know a song will come on to counteract the thoughts that I'm having at that moment. Sometimes something will happen that will irritate you while it's happening but then you will realize it was to protect you, or to give you a better opportunity down the line. Earlier this week, I was sitting outside in a rush waiting on my dog to do what dogs are supposed to do outside, frustrated, trying to be on time to one of my many doctor's appointments exhausted and fuming inside. Then I looked down. And saw that the shadow had formed the shape of a butterfly from one of the plants in our garden. 

The butterfly is the symbol that is used to represent fibromyalgia and I was in a particularly large amount of pain at that moment so it reminded me of my chronic pain friends. But, the butterfly is also a symbol that is constantly used in the Bible for new life. For instance in 2 Corinthians 5:17 it says "Therefore, if anyone is in Christ, the new creation is come. The old has gone, the new is here." So when I saw the butterfly it reminded me that in Christ I will have new life (and a new body! Praise God!)

I will be the first to admit that when the world gets you down, it's so easy to put God off on a little shelf and forget all about Him and keep whining and complaining and wondering just how you are going to get through this latest overwhelming time in your life. And let me tell you what, did I have a break down this week. If you are Facebook friends with me you may have witnessed it, heck you may have helped pull me out of the pit. Yes, the pit. I was about 20 seconds away from quitting grad school 14.5 weeks from finishing all my classes and one internship away from graduating because I was overwhelmed and sick and flaring and in pain and just had no idea how I could do it anymore and if it was worth what I was doing to my body to get me to this point. And it took earthly people on my Facebook newsfeed to remind me that I am not a quitter and that I am so close to accomplishing my dream. Where was God in all this? Well, He was literally where He always is. But in my head, He was up on a shelf somewhere, He certainly wasn't being asked by me what to do in this situation, but all of Facebook knew (and yes I know God knew too, but I wasn't letting Him in that I knew that He knew). It's so hard to forget that He helps us when we are overwhelmed and He will get us through any situation no matter what it is. After all the Bible also says, "From the ends of the earth I call to you, I call as my heart grows faint; lead me to the rock that is higher than I." Psalm 61:2 NIV I like how the NIV version says "as my heart grows faint" as opposed to "when my heart is overwhelmed" like the KJV because so much of my life is my heart growing faint and it's highly disturbing and scary and so this is not only truth but symbolic as well. 

Anyway, this was a really long post to make the point that as long as I have at least one cup of coffee a day (an iced decaf skinny vivace turtle mocha with no whip from Java Haute preferably please) and rely a whole lot of Jesus throughout my day and life it will all be ok. And if it's not ok, it's not the end. So I've just gotta remember every day when I get up or when something bad happens or I'm feeling extra stressed out and overwhelmed "All I need today is a little bit of coffee and a whole lot of Jesus," and get in my car with my dog, forget about school for 30 minutes, listen to some Christian radio, say a prayer or 2, and head off to Java Haute, and it will all be ok. :)

Friday, September 6, 2013

Being Kind, 28 times

I think sometimes being busy with whatever you're busy with whether it's being ill, working, dating, exercising, whatever it's hard to remember to be kind to people. I'm talking truly, genuinely, go out of your way to be kind to people for no reason at all.

I've always heard of these people doing these random acts of kindness on their birthdays and doing how many ever acts on their birthday corresponding to the age they turned that year. I always thought to myself "I could never do that, because I could never do x amount of random acts of kindness in one day because I would tire to quickly."

Well, since the name of the game this year is ambitious, I decided that I could in fact do 28 random acts of kindness for my 28th birthday. It just might take me a little bit longer, so I gave myself the whole month of August. And I did it! Yay! Go me! So here they are! P.S. I know it's September 6th, give a chronically ill girl in grad school a break. They were completed in August, I just haven't sat down to blog about them. Ok? P.P.S Some of them don't have pictures because people were staring at me, some of them don't have pictures because it was dangerous. It's up to you to use your imagination as to which is which. But all were completed, honestly.

1) I mailed 28 hand written letters to friends! And for someone with Fibromyalgia and EDS that's a lot of writing and love folks. Writing is painful! So if you got a letter, I really LOVE you!

2) I paid for this persons coffee at my favorite coffee place. 

3) I donated school supplies to the Vigo County United Way School Supply Drive.

4) I sent a mutual gluten free friend my favorite gluten free brownie mix in the mail.

5) I sent a friend who has a Hopekeepers group in New York (a chronic illness support group) like I'm trying to start a Hope Kit as an idea to do with her group. 

6) I sent a gift card to Staples to a teacher friend in Florida in case she needed some last minute stuff for her classroom. 

7) I sent a "pill box" filled with words of encouragement and candy to a friend in Pennsylvania and the left over candy to share with her daughter. 

8) I sent a book to a friend in SC who has been going through some rough health stuff lately and kept posting on Facebook that she really needed a new book to read.

9) I gave 2 people from my class a ride to the hospital that were walking from campus when we had orientation. They admitted it was a much further walk than they thought and over 100 degrees outside and were very appreciative. 

10) I went to the library with a friend even when I didn't feel well to do homework with a friend while she wrote a paper, just so she had some encouragement to get her work done. 

11) I took my mom out to a NICE lunch when she drove me out of town (2 hours each way) on a Saturday (her only day off each week) to pick up my bassoon that I had been waiting so anxiously to pick up for 3 months but knew it was risky to make the drive by myself. 

12) I donated $10 to a friend's trip to Mayo clinic she is getting ready to take to hopefully get a better diagnosis for herself. 

13) I bought this t-shirt that provided 14 meals to people across America.

14) I wrote notes to all my nurses at my infusion center and brought them chocolate. But forgot to take a picture of it. :(

15) I held the door open for everyone I came into contact with. Some people found this annoying which I thought was interesting. 

16) I let driver's merge if they had their blinker's on and I let walkers cross the street. Every time. No matter what kind of hurry I was in. All month. This one took discipline. 

17) I cleaned the house for my mom one day, even when I wasn't feeling well, so she wouldn't have to when she got home from work or on the weekend. 

18) I donated $1 to the No Kid Hungry Campaign at Arby's and in return (which I wasn't expecting, it's nice when those things work out) I got these coupons for donating, worth more than $1 for sure. :) 

19) I left the extra stamps I had after my mailing escapade at the stamp machine for someone else to pick up  and use when they came into the post office after me.

20) I gave out the recipe to a yummy dinner I made and posted on Facebook. Here you can have it too! 

21) I donated $1 to the American Red Cross when we went to eat at Rick's

22) I played nice on Social Media outlets (for the most part)! Anyone who knows me knows that several of these groups I get in get a little heated and controversial. And (for the most part) I stayed out of the controversy. I may have ranted about the idiocy on my main page, but didn't engage in an argument, and that's a big step for me. So good job to me! :)

23) I complimented a stranger. Have you ever done that? It's awkward. But it's fun. It led to a very interesting 2 hour conversation during an infusion, and I'm glad I did it.

24) I picked up some veggies from a CSA for a friend of mine who had class and client's during the window of opportunity to pick them up so she could enjoy some fresh organic produce for 2 weeks. These aren't the actual veggeis I picked up for her, they're mine (we belong to 2 different CSA's), but I wanted to put another picture in. 

25) I cooked dinner sometimes that was healthy and yummy for my mom after she had a long day at work. Here is one of them: 

26) I taped money to the drink machine on the first day of class with a note that said "Have a good first day of class with some caffeine on me."

27) I taped $2.00 to the parking meter in the parking lot where I got a parking ticket this summer for not having change and the handicapped non metered spaces were all full. I put a note there that said, "So you don't get a ticket like I did."

28) I spent a lot of time in August being kind to myself. I spent a ton of time soul searching, life searching, body searching, and figuring out what is best for me and where I am. Of course it's the first week of September now and all that's changing, but I did it. I started out this blog talking about how I think we've all become so busy and forgetting in that business to be kind to each other. However, I think it's equally important, if not more important to take time out to be kind to ourselves. After all, we're the only one we've got and once we're gone, we're gone. So yeah, I think I can count being kind to myself on this list, what about you?

Anyway, that's my list of what I spent my August doing. Taking time out to be kind. And it was so rewarding. Some of the stuff is stuff that I do everyday and didn't think of it as being kind. Some of it is stuff that  I would like to start doing more. Some of it was really hard. But all of it was rewarding. And they all taught me something. Even if it was that kindness doesn't have to be a big gesture, some of the biggest thanks I got and greatest rewards were from things that cost nothing, and the things that cost money I never saw a return on my investment (the drink machine, parking meter, coffee shop line, etc). But the holding the doors open, the letting people pass in front of my car, that's where the smiles were. The little things. What's that the Bible says? Oh yeah, this:

"This is a large work I've called you into, but don't be overwhelmed by it. It's best to start small. Give a cool cup of water to someone who is thirsty, for instance. The smallest act of giving or receiving makes you a true apprentice. You won't lose out on a thing." Matthew 10:41-42 The Message