Lies I Tell Myself: VI

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Lies I Tell Myself: I don’t need to write that down. I’ll remember!!

One of the biggest problems that me and my neurologist struggle with is that in the heat of the moment, I don’t really remember that I have lost the ability to remember much, so I think I will remember like I used to, but later I learn the errs of my ways…again!  The worst partis constantly feeling bamboozled by my brain?

I have a phone that takes notes in at least four different ways, I keep a memory log (which I often forget about!), and I always have paper with me.  No reason I should not have access to all of the information I receive, but that old part of me just swears that we got this, meanwhile, my whole brain is on fire as I think too hard about what it was I forgot!

This process has been repeating itself since as long as I can remember…which isn’t long,  so I can’t really give an answer.  I suspect that it has been at least since the surgery, possibly since a little before.  Memory was one of the first major symptoms behind the pain and nausea.

My phone calendar is full of therapies, appointments, naps, meds, and more therapies.  I am trying to get better at remembering, but am considering having a pin made that says “if I didn’t write it, you didn’t say it”.  Not sure how people would take it.  I realize my inability to remember their super important information is anathema in their eyes, but I am not the person everyone remembers and wants me to be from 2014.  Trust me, if I could go back I would, but, that isn’t how it works, so here I am.  Thinking I am in 2014 in my head (because time hasn’t really moved for me) in terms of cognition and 2016 in terms of time.  I feel like the world went on without me when I remember that I forget.  Every time I remember that I can’t drive it seems like I was driving yesterday (I was not!) but it seems like it.

These are the worst because they bring up three years worth of misplaced emotions and fractured memories.  I can’t drive because someone drove into the back of my car as I turned into church to use the restroom.  Such a simple act changed my whole life.  Ruined my dreams, stopped and reversed my vocal progress, and made into what I am today.

However, the blessing is really in the fact that I don’t have to carry the weight of my emotional burden everyday because I just think I am on a day off from work or it’s the weekend.  It still has not permanently seeped in yet that I don’t actually work, but that is ok!  Things take time and hopefully as my life shifts I will just find a new “work” that I do and maybe keep a note telling me to write things down!

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I want to do things…

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The things I wanted to do today!

After the gnarley headache, the nausea is the worst symptom I experience on the constant basis.  It is usually low level, but if the weather changes or the headache increases, nausea will shoot up and become THE ONLY THING THAT MATTERS!  My daughter is hungry? NAUSEA!  Front door unlocked? NAUSEA! House on fire? NAUSEA! LET ME LIVE!!!!

For most people it is a feeling they may have for a few hours or days, a couple weeks if you are pregnant (unless you are me, then 40 weeks) but for me it has been over two years and really, I am sick of it (no pun intended, but good for me).  It’s that feeling of sick RIGHT before you actually throw up but I just don’t always throw up.  I pray that I won’t as it makes for a terrible headache/vomit cycle that can get out of control quickly.

The worst is when I have a day planned and NAUSEA hits me.  It is paralyzing.  You don’t move unless it is to a more laying down position.  I lay there thinking about the things I was going to do.  Some things are only available for a time like dinner with friends or sales, some things I can do later, but the worst things are the ones I have planned with my daughter because she gets the short end of the stick.  She often ends up supplying my ginger ale and ice and ice packs.

I want to be able to do the things that I plan but I am at the mercy of a body that is kind of confused right now.  Most days I get through it, I ignore it, I get ginger or drink ginger ale, but some days, nothing but meds can cut through the nausea and the meds come with their own set of problems.

So, if you know me and I tell you I just don’t feel good, that is actually code for, I could throw up at any moment.  I am just being polite.

Smile: Adventure Ahead

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Autonomy, worth, friends, self-esteem, treatment plan, life, love

There are plenty of questions that linger after Chiari Decompression, especially if your life doesn’t return to normal.  My friends often can’t understand that my brain can no longer do the things that it used to be able to, and no amount of believing in myself changes that.  Then I question my autonomy.  Will I be able to be a productive adult for the rest of my life?  Will someone have to keep an eye on my finances and everything else to make sure I don’t become destitute because I can’t remember to pay bills?  What kind of life does that make for me?  Is that a life worth living? What if there is no treatment plan that will take away my symptoms?  Will my friends tire of having a “sick-friend” after a few years?  How will this all affect my self-esteem?  Will I be able to live with myself and not resent this brain of mine?  Will anyone ever be able to love someone like me? What If I deteriorate?  Would it be fair to the other person in 20 years?

Unfortunately, it is easier to ask the difficult questions and languish in self-pity than it is to be bold and confront the new normal with a big smile and only the expectation of adventure.  I am a Christian.  I regularly attend my church.  I am in ministry inside and outside of the church.  I love Jesus, and I believe that all of this is happening for a reason, but that doesn’t mean I don’t think and process life like a human.  I particularly deal in grief and the grieving in ministry and it has given me a much wider perspective about what I am going through.

I have lost a lot of my life and I am sad about it.  Of course I have days where I am overcome by the magnitude of how different I have become.  And -this- is what people don’t understand: I am fundamentally different than I was before my head was opened.  I don’t even think like I used to, but I have memories of thinking and being a certain way.  My emotions are foreign invaders which have occupied my mind and now everything is filtered through them.  My drive to accomplish and accumulate had turned into a drive to love people and give away what little I have.  And this is just the beginning of the changes brought about by Chiari and the surgery.

So, when I feel sad, I try to find someone that I can help, so that I am not focusing on my own problems.  When I can’t remember my worth, I study the Bible and I am reminded that Jesus died for my sins.  When I wonder if I will be able to take care of myself, I remember that I have a loving family that always keeps my best interests at heart.  I may have to deal with pain and uncertainty, but I will try to do it with a smile and the expectation of adventure a little more.

Bills, bills, bills…

Chiari Car Accident Starter Kit.

When I was rear-ended in 2014, I thought that it would be a few trips to the chiropractor and I would be fine.  Here I sit, two and a half years later, and I am wondering how this got so expensive.  I have run up well over $200 thousand dollars in bills and after speaking with my lawyer today, I recieved their final bill!  

We often hear about personal injury lawsuits that pay out millions of dollars.  Really, most people are doing well to get their bills paid after the fact.  I haven’t worked in 15 months!  If it weren’t for the kindness of family and friends, I wouldn’t even be able to male it through the process of suing someone.  

Make no mistake, I am not in this for the money.  I was willing to settle for nine thousand dollars in 2015.  Glad I didn’t.  I just want to be able to live my life and take care of my daughter.  Hopefully, after all of this, I will be able to. 

Future for One?

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“I am gonna spend the rest of my life with the man I love!”                                                               “I am getting a headache.  I can’t wait to spend it alone.”                                                                    “I believe we have a date?”

2016 will go into my journal as a very forgettable year; I can’t remember most of it.  The things I can remember are worth forgetting (looking at you, election!!).  More than any other year, I have seen a large number of my friends get married.  I put so much energy into bettering myself and learning who I am and want to be, that I decided that a relationship was a drain of my precious, limited time.

As I look forward to 2017, I have not a single plan.  There is no more school.  There is no more work.  I have hour upon hour of free time to think about how I should have reached out and maybe went on a date or two.  It felt different when I was consciously decided to not date.  Now, I am getting ready for my disability appointment and I feel like that is a black mark.  I am no longer a productive member of society.  I do not keep a schedule.  I have gained weight since surgery.  I can’t remember much of what I hear of say.

Honestly, a year ago, I would not have wanted to date someone with these issues.  I didn’t have time for that.  Now I guess I have projected that onto myself and I don’t see how anyone would want to date me.  How would someone feel if I cancelled half of our dates because I “don’t feel good today”?  How would I feel?  How would someone feel if I needed another brain surgery?  Would they be willing to deal with me in a physically infantile state?

I have always worked the loneliness away.  I discovered how smart and fun I am.  I finally tapped into my true singing voice. I found a home in my church family.  I finally was feeling confident parenting alone.  I felt like a combination of all these things was enough to keep me asleep at night.  Now, I am awake at night, living with pain, and knowing that I only have 4 years until my daughter spreads her wings and I will be alone.

I hadn’t planned on worrying about this for another 30 years and I had hoped to not care by then.  I am no longer flirty.  I do not wish to bear children.  I could care less about shaving my legs.  I am just a girl who wishes it would all go away and I could enjoy my previous life.

That being said, I will be happy for my friends because they deserve to be happy and encouraged.  I will start attending weddings in 2017 (breaking my 20 year anti-wedding streak!!) and I will be a witness to their happy moments.  I will cheer for them and clap for them, and smile at them.  Then, when I go home and settle in after these events, I will thank God that I am alive and able to see that kind of joy and happiness.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

After the Conversation Ends…

Chiarialone

Me having coffee with all the people who understand me.

 

A year after the surgery, and I have come to several conclusions:

1. Only my family sees what I go through every day.  They see me in pain, when I am angry, sad, they see the outbursts, the cloudy days, the restlessness, and yet even they do not truly understand what I go through.  Nor would I ever want them to.  If given the choice, I would gladly take the pain for any one of them

2. I have about five friends who know the inner details of my life, and are my friends anyway.  My life can be so gross at times.  Just think, your brain controls EVERYTHING YOUR BODY DOES!!!  Even the stuff that you prefer to keep to yourself behind the bathroom door.

3. Pain is NOT A CONTEST!!!  I do not understand the pain that cancer patients go through.  They don’t understand the pain that amputees go through.  And they don’t understand the pain that I go through.  (I make the exception for those who have Chiari and survived cancer via amputation, or something similar.)  We each have a difficult situation that we have to navigate and chances are there is physical and emotional pain that must be dealt with.  We need to respect the journey of those we meet.

4. My pain/condition/malformation is NOT  a result of God hating on me.  CHURCH!  YOU NEED TO STOP THIS MESS!  My pain is not a reflection of how of feels about me or how I feel about God.  Every major player in the Bible had issues.  More importantly, all of them died, so even if Chiari kills me, I am just doing the same thing as my forefathers!

5. My physical condition is not representative of who I am as a person.  When a doctor sees me, I am a Patient.  To my daughter, I am Mom.  To my mom I am Daughter.  To my sister, I am Sister.  To the client, I am the Designer.  To the listener, I am the Musician.  To the diner, I am the Chef.  To the random person who sees me suffering from a debilitating headache, I am disabled.  Yeah.  What if I told you that I am ALL OF THESE THINGS AND THEN SOME?!  Like the fine diamond I tell myself I am, I have many facets, I am well rounded, and quite brilliant if I may say so.  And my carrots?  The food of the gods.

6. I am deathly afraid of meeting someone I like.  Before, I felt like I had so much other stuff going for me.  Now, I don’t work, I don’t go to school, and I am gifted with the headache that keeps on giving.  I have no self confidence because I dread explaining myself and my condition AGAIN to ANOTHER person.  I haven’t even gotten to the part where I break down when they decide they can’t deal with such a problematic relationship.  I also am aware that I have developed irrational fears.  Working on that.  (Please don’t leave me a comment telling me how what I feel is wrong and what you think  is better because of whatever.  My feelings are just as valid as yours.  Thanks!)

7. I may never be taken as seriously as someone with diabetes or major physical injury.  Somehow, seeing someone testing their blood sugar is enough evidence to be able to understand their situation.  Seeing the scars left from a horrible accident are reassuring that the person is actually in pain, as you can see the evidence.  I get no courtesy in this respect.  I get told that I must feel better because I look great!  They are oblivious to the 4 layers of concealer that I put on to hide the fact I haven’t slept well in a week because of a headache.  If I don’t wear the makeup, then #4 applies.  It’s a lose/lose kind of thing.

8. I would not trade this experience for anything.  I don’t like the situations I find myself in.  I still have scars on my head from when they removed some skin for an EEG.  I hate that I don’t know when or how long my head will hurt.  I hate that my daughter now has a mom who can’t remember what day of the week it is without a phone.  I hate that I can’t remember words sometimes and I feel stupid.  That said, I am very lucky.  Within 18 months of my car accident I was imaged, diagnosed, and underwent surgery for a condition that routinely stumps medical teams who are unfamiliar with it.  I have an extremely supportive family. I would have never made it through this situation alone.  I also now know what it is like to not really carry stress from day to day.  Because my memory is very unstable I wake up every morning with a clear slate.  That is a pretty amazing feeling.  I am forced to live today.  I can’t really plan for the future because I don’t know how I will feel and I can’t remember much of the past.  All I have is right now.  I wish I had known how to live this way years ago.  Even better, I will be able to use my experiences to speak to other people and spread awareness.  And that isn’t so bad.