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Posts tagged “chronic pain

Are you Addicted to your Own Chaos?

Lying here in the muted candle light, the sound of Josh writing a song on our electric stage piano has a tranquil, sedating effect. I feel mildly euphoric, despite having a wicked migraine. It’s noteworthy to add that I haven’t had a migraine in many weeks. I became my own lab rat when I experimented with a variety of medicinal, herbal, natural pain modifiers and thankfully, discovered something that worked for me. It’s such an effective medicine, that it not only eliminated my 3 day migraines altogether, but doubled as natural Adderall; increasing my ability to focus and concentrate by more than 60%. As a result, my grades shot up and I became an honor roll student virtually overnight. And, as a result of the medicine, I’ve been able to eliminate my doctor visits 100%. No need for pharmaceutical pain medication, no need for nerve pills, no need for Ambien to help me sleep. It’s been my panacea and it works. (Unfortunately, I’ve been without that medicine for 3 weeks now.)

I realize finding a cure-all on this level is slim to none. Even doctors and therapists are unable to “fix” people for the most part. Why else do people continue seeing a therapist after 20 years and so on? You’d think that there’d be nothing left to discuss. Ahh…but what they don’t and won’t tell you, is that they will help you to perpetuate your own disorder; it’s called job security.

You would think that I, of all people– a psychologist-in-training– would be hesitant to talk openly about this seldom-disclosed medical deception, but I’m not. Because it’s disgusting how Big Pharma and (many) doctors and therapists are all in bed together, and they work incessantly to keep people sick- year after year- and benefit from it.

Disclaimer: there are people who genuinely need therapy and benefit from it, and absolutely should continue on with it and take the proper medications. I’m not talking about those people.

I’m talking more about people that really don’t need medication or therapy at all…like children who are excitable, and are simply being children. They wiggle in their seats with anticipation and raw energy. But do you know what the teachers are doing in most all schools now? They’re being conditioned and programmed–like militants–to report ANY children who exhibit signs of “excitability”, and they’re mandated to report these “excitable children” to school officials, CPS workers, CASA workers (who are merely average Joes and Janes who volunteer to work with children, despite their lack of any kind of training whatsoever- scary), and a plethora of other workers.

What happens next is nothing short of societal rape. They then tell the parents that their child needs to be medicated, because he or she is exhibiting signs of ADHD- which is a “catch-all disorder” for a child simply being a child! Big Pharma has created this disorder in the last 20 years or so, and has pimped it out to society at large, and the whole world has swallowed it up- tail and all- because they’re told it’s true.

This is scary crap. For real.

School teachers- who have absolutely no psychological training whatsoever, are reporting children to case workers, who then report those children to “other officials”- who in turn, report them to CPS- the baby snatchers and the family destroyers. Why? Why would they do such a thing?

I’ll tell you why. Because every child in the public school system who is put on some type of behavioral disorder medicine receives bonus money for that school. For every kid that’s diagnosed–by a freakin’ teacher–and reported- the school’s bankroll gets fatter. And now that school district has a sweet chunk o’ change rolling in, no matter where that kid goes (as long as he’s medicated and the “problem” persists- and oh believe me, it will) and that kid becomes a “lifer” most of the time. Meaning, that child will be told it needs medicine year after year, for many years, and sometimes it lasts for the rest of their lives. Because after 10- 20 years of pharmaceutical medications, a host of side effects and other disorders have now been created (and are real), because of that one prescribed medication during the child’s most formidable, impressionable years.

Look it up. Knowledge is power, they say. Kids are being altogether destroyed at an alarming rate in the U.S.  and parents are frightened into obeying, because they’e told that their child has “a disorder”. They’re threatened if they don’t take their kid to a therapist and worse, they’e threatened if they refuse to medicate their child.

This is a sick, twisted business. It’s absolutely horrific and yet it continues on, year after year.

I watched this documentary called The Drugging of Our Children and it blew my head off. Seriously. It scared the crap out of me. I could not believe that our system is that perverted. Well, yes I can, but don’t get me started on that.

Alas. I really didn’t want to rant on about all of that. This is just free association.

I really wanted to write about something else entirely. My migraine, and pain in general. I’ve noticed that when I’m in extreme pain, especially for 72 hours relentlessly, that any little comfort feels reeeeeeeeeally good. Way better than normal. Take for example, stretching my muscles. By nature, I really can’t stand to work out. It’s boring and repetitive and sort of pointless to me. I can think of many fun ways to get exercise, rather than spin around on a wheel like a sad hamster.

But a few moments ago, I noticed that when I stretched my leg muscle, it felt incredibly good. More so than if I didn’t have a migraine and it got me thinking: What’s the correlation between pain and good feelings? Is it possible that pain actually releases endorphins? 

And then I found this article that stated that not only pain releases feely-good endorphins, but so does stress. Hold on- let that sink in a minute.

Stress (chaos, worry, contention, strife, bad traffic, an ugly altercation, hard donuts, etc.) releases endorphins. A while back, I wrote a post about a theory that I posited, called The Chaos Theory.  There’s already a chaos theory in math, but not in psychology. Well, now there is. 🙂

My theory is this: In childhood and adolescence, some of us are thrown into derision and pain, or, chaos, and not unlike adaptation, we get used to crazy crap happening to us all of the time. (Sorry, I get tired of writing academic research sometimes and my rebellion is being able to dumb it down- teetering dangerously on the edge of slang.)  In short, if the chaos ceases for any length of time outside of what we’re familiar with, we’ll create our own chaos, because then, at least we know what to expect.

In this way, we condone and accept self-induced chaos more readily than foreign peace.

Heavy words, but not untrue. As with anything else, each person’s experience will vary, and this hypothetical scenario is individuated and subjective. In other words, it’s not the same for everybody.

In the article I pointed out up there, it states that our stress and pain activate our opioid receptors; very much like drugs do. However, it stated that we do not become addicted to pain and stress as we would with drugs.

I beg to differ.

And I bring your attention back to my Chaos Theory. I believe some of us seek out chaos, not because we like it, but because we’re trying to alter our brain chemistry. Stress produces endorphins! When we experience prolonged stress, our brain dispatches the EMT/ambulance  (little neurotransmitters- endorphins) to patch up the damage. This is likened to taking a hit off of an opium pipe. Not enough to knock you down, no, and maybe not enough to even notice- on a conscious level.

But what’s happening behind the scenes is that as the stress is increasing, and the sympathetic nervous system throws the body into “fight or flight” mode, our endorphins are being pumped out from the pituitary gland and are circulated throughout the body via the bloodstream, certain neural pathways in our brain are being rewarded with those feely-good hormones. It’s very much like biological classical conditioning.

This is bad though, because it teaches the person that “heightened stress” is rewarded.

[Another “let that sink in” moment.]

In this way, we absolutely can, and sometimes do become addicted to stress, and our own chaos- because it’s what we’ve learned to do in order to “fix ourselves”- not unlike a junkie.

I’d like to conduct a few research studies in the future in this area. But for now, I’m going to get my own fix; listening to Josh play and sing, as I lay here in the candle’s warm glow with the smell of pumpkin spice filling up the room sweetly.

Interestingly enough, my migraine has dissipated almost entirely.

 


Praying Down the Rain

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“Oh my goodness, I have a screaming migraine and it’s that time of the month. Is there anything else worse than that for a woman?” I asked.

“Is there anything worse than that for a man?!” Josh answered.

He has a valid point.
I knew it was too good to be true that I wouldn’t get a migraine, especially after mentioning it only yesterday. I awoke this morning with a skull-crushing migraine. it’s 1:15 a.m. and it’s now been almost 24 hours (straight) that I’ve had this. And that’s with pain medication. After several years of battling these things, you really do learn to live with them. I shop, cook, clean, write, do schoolwork- I do everything with a migraine and there really are no words to describe the pain. “Intense” just doesn’t do it and keep in mind that I chose to give birth to 3 children “naturally”, so I would know a thing or two about serious pain. This pain is far worse than childbirth. I didn’t cry or scream when I gave birth to my children. I went in like a soldier- no baby stuff! (Well, ok, “baby stuff” but no “sissy stuff”.) When I delivered my oldest daughter, Heidi, the woman down the hall was screaming her head off. I politely asked the nurse to ask her if she could be a bit quieter because she was distracting me. (Yep, true story, I’m afraid.)

My point is that I believe in “mind over matter”. I went in believing I could control my own pain during childbirth and I certainly did, or at least I psyched myself out to believe that I didn’t have to yell or scream or fall apart during it. (It worked.) So yes, I can take some massive pain. These migraines are no joke! I cry. Lots. I can’t liken it to any other pain I’ve ever known. Because this kind of pain comes with nausea, so it’s not enough that you feel as if your head is being sawn in half (from the back) but also, you get the added benefits of feeling like you’re going to barf continuously. Without ceasing. For 24 and 48 hours straight. It’s there when you go to sleep and it’s there when you wake up and it turns your dreams into night terrors.

Barfing and babies and pain and stuff really does have something to do with praying down the rain. That’s coming up.

In all of this pain, I can be grateful that my prayers were answered. I was in the kitchen yesterday and was so hot and miserable. I said a little prayer: “God, please let it cool down. Send the rain, Lord,” I said. And that was it. No big prayer meeting. It was said in one breath and with little after thought.

I woke up this morning and immediately was surprised. It was almost cold in the room! I looked out the window and the sky was grey and congested. My prayers had been answered, speedily. But it seems I traded in my “speed dial” prayer for a heavy dose of pain. I got the cool air and the rain, but my head was a total mess.

I remember a time when it was raining torrentially and Josh and I were helping a friend move. I was in a pickup truck and there was nobody around.

“God, could you hold off the rain so we can get this stuff moved?” I asked.

It didn’t rain for almost two months afterwards. We had one of the biggest droughts we’d had in years. And another time, I was walking home with a few bags of groceries. Not sure what the car story (or lack of it) was at the time, I just remember walking about a mile or so in the rain. No picnic.

“Lord, please make the rain stop.” And that was all I said. It stopped within the next 2 minutes. I could hardly believe it.

So yes. Now we have rain.
My head is screaming so badly at the moment. I have to go and lie down. The pain is reaching the “maddening” stage and I feel like I could smash glass. 24 hours of relentless pain is right up there with torture. I’m simply exhausted.

The peppermint tea is a small comfort.
Josh made homemade chicken soup.
That was a huge comfort.

🙂

Time to collapse.


Black Storm Rising

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[Skip to bottom of post for specifics on PST/poppy seed tea.]

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I can’t believe my migraine is still raging. There’s nothing the doctors can do when I have a massive attack like this, short of shoving a needle in my arm and jacking me up on morphine. The last time that happened, I forgot to breathe. Everything was numb from the waist up and contrary to how many people feel, it was not fun!

I know that if I went to the doctor’s, he would only be able to write out a script of Lortab, which would do the same thing as morphine, and because it would make me sick, I would then need to take Phenergan, which would completely knock me out. I can’t get anything done in that condition. Since I’ve vowed to never take pharmaceutical pain medication again, my options are limited. I could always take a couple of puffs of weed- it’s an effective form of pain relief- but I simply can’t stand to get high! (Yes, I really did just say that.) I don’t like the semi-paranoid feeling that accompanies weed, and I just can’t stand the feeling of being stoned. There’s really no such thing as smoking it and not getting high, and for me, being the non-weed smoker that I am, one puff and I’m higher than a kite. But for somebody such as myself who actually doesn’t like to get high- weed isn’t an option. I have a lot to do all of the time; being down for two and three days at a stretch with my head smashing in pain is a real problem.

I rarely get these migraines anymore, because I control my pain holistically, homeopathically, and all naturally- without smoking weed- but it’s still controversial as no doctor will ever sanction homeopathic, all natural pain management (where drugs are concerned) – they don’t make money that way. And because they’re sleeping with the pharmaceutical companies, they must promote the new drugs that are giving people cancer- but hey- they need a paycheck too, right? (Note the sarcasm.)

So…I’ll stick to my own pain management (naturally). This is why I must aggressively confront my migraines and take a preventative, proactive approach rather than reactive. I have a very small window of time to manage my pain, and I have to do it in a time-sensitive manner, or it will be too late, which is what just happened to me.

The past two days have been brutal. I’ve taken about ten 200 mg. Ibuprofins (over a 48 hour period), 1/2 of a Phenergan to counteract the nausea (which allowed me to sleep) but when I awoke, the migraine had spread over to both eye sockets. it’s like being smacked into a world of pain immediately upon awakening.

It’s exhausting to hurt for this long of a duration. The blood vessels around my head and right eye socket are taxed, completely. This is what living with an arachnoid cyst in your head is like, that is, until I began managing my pain myself, rather than choosing to be jacked up on pain meds which is what the doctors are doing to so many people in this town. The doctors have added on an entire new building next to the old one, doubling its capacity for new patients. It’s a pain management center and it’s jammed packed when I go in for Ambien refills. I decline any form of pain meds, but you better believe I’m going to take my Ambien- a girl needs her beauty sleep.

This is part of the reason why I study Substance Abuse. I live with chronic pain, or at least I did until I took matters in my own hands, and so many people are becoming addicted to prescription pain meds. It’s not a mild problem across the country, it’s an epidemic. I’ve seen people that I grew up with die from overdoses; the methadone and suboxone clinics are overflowing, and people are getting addicted to that crap too.

I was told about a guy recently who went to the pill mill down the street, and received 150 Lortabs. He was trying to get rid of them at $5 a pop. That’s $750 that guy is hoping to make on one doctor visit and this is happening to hundreds of people in this town. Grandmas, bankers, teenagers- the doctors are giving them pain meds and instead of the patients getting out and walking, cutting down on fatty foods, quitting smoking, drinking more juices, etc. they’re becoming overweight (from lack of exercise) but also because the pain meds are giving them the munchies- just like weed- and they’re staying high and eating themselves into an early grave.

I’ve spent the past few years researching pill mills and alcohol and drug addiction in school: I’m passionate about it. Our “system” is broken.

Although my head feels like ground meat, I’m not able to go and lie down and simply rest. My mom is house-sitting and her battery is dead, she’s run out of her medicine, milk, etc. and although I have four siblings (FOUR) -not a one has gone over and seen her, or taken her food, or helped her out in any way- in weeks- so that leaves me and Josh- in this condition. Yes, I’m frustrated.

My mom has told me that her bladder is practically falling out- she needs surgery soon. It really perturbs me that my sister has only been to see my mother once in 6 months- once! This means that I will naturally pick up her slack where my mom is concerned. My mom is one of the sweetest, kindest, most loving women I’ve ever known.

She deserves to have all 5 of her kids taking care of her and helping her in her older years- sadly, that’s not the case. Josh and I are going to go and pick up her meds, take jumper cables over there to recharge her battery, cook a delicious, healthy dinner for her, and stay the night with her. And sadly, I can get more done with a migraine- and a cyst on my brain stem-  than my siblings (combined) do without one.

I think I’ll be back to my sunny ole self by tomorrow, according to my pain cycles. It usually doesn’t last more than three days. What works for other peoples’ migraines don’t work for me, because this isn’t a “stress migraine” or too much sugar (or anything along those lines). This is due to the arachnoid membrane in my head becoming inflamed, and the pocket of fluid (cyst) on and around my brain stem swells, pushing down on my actual brain stem, which is the area that controls nausea. It causes my head to feel like it’s being squeezed in a terrible vice, while sending acute, needle-like pain through the entire region, as well as causing unilateral pain in the frontal and temporal lobes.

My main reason for documenting this pain isn’t to “complain”. I want to provide information and support for others who suffer with an arachnoid cyst. That said, I don’t want my whole life to be about my cyst, or migraines, so I don’t write about it so much. Poppy seed tea is extremely effective when using it as a preventative measure to stave off migraines, but it’s not effective where trying to eliminate a migraine is concerned- not one of these monster migraines, anyway. I want to write a post about poppy seed tea (another day) because it’s an all natural form of pain medication that works. There are a good number of idiots who use it to get high, however. There’s no difference between that and shoving a needle in your arm. Misinformed people are dangerous, because ignorance breeds fear, and when a person is operating through fear, bad choices will be made. I would highly recommend that if a person is going to manage his or her own chronic pain (using poppy seed tea or any other form of natural pain relief), to research everything thoroughly and use what is known in psychology as contingency contracting; that’s a fancy way of saying “tell somebody about your plans”. Don’t try and manage your pain alone or you may find yourself with a new addiction. And remember, anything can become an addiction. (Ever seen the show My Strange Addiction? Point made.)

I’m determined to have a good evening despite my present condition. There’s no way I can read 120 pages of what I need to read in Earth Science, Health Psychology, and Public Speaking, but I can read some. Ever try to do schoolwork with a blinding migraine? I’ve written numerous essays (MLA format, of course) with my head splitting open, even working throughout the night on occasion.  I met my deadlines too. It’s going to be a long weekend…

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**************************************POPPY SEED TEA INFO****************************************

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For those of you researching PST, you can read the comments related to this particular post for more useful info. And here is an update one year later from the date of this initial post and I will update my status annually here in this particular post:

It is February 4, 2014. I have graduated from my University with a degree in Behavioral Sciences and CPC/certification in Substance Abuse last month (Sum Laude/Dean’s List), and am now working on my 2nd degree which is Social Work. I will transfer this summer to begin work on my BA in Sociology. I have taken PST for pain management for two years now. I haven’t had a roaring migraine in months, and I am no longer a chronic pain sufferer. Because of my poppy seed tea regimen, I’m able to not have to return to the doctor. I don’t have to take pharmaceutical pain meds or any pharmaceutical pills of any kind. If I were still taking doctor-prescribed pain meds, I have no doubt I’d still be suffering tremendously, as I used to, even after two years of following the doctor’s recommendations. In the end, I was worse off than when I initially went in to see him, and it was due to the many (many) experimental medications that were prescribed to me. Pain meds (Lortab, Vicodin, etc.) absolutely kill the body, especially the liver, over time. PST is all natural. It’s absolutely the way to go. I have taken my life back. 

  • Be very careful with PST
  • Use it in small doses [200 to 300 grams per dose. No more!] That’s an effective dose that works every time. It not only modifies your intended pain, it kills all pain in the body for the duration of the dose. Do not exceed two doses in a single day: if your pain is moderate, take one dose in the morning. If your pain is severe, take one dose (200-300 mg. of poppy seeds, shaken with water and lemon) in the morning, and another in the evening. Each dose lasts for 6 to 8 hours. Your goal shouldn’t be to “get high”. Your goal should be to manage your pain effectively and safely, without having to be chained to a doctor. You save heaps of money in the long run too.

Sidenote: It’s very important to take periodic breaks from any form of pain medication, whether it’s doctor prescribed or self-medicated. The reason for this is that you need to regularly cleanse the body from any impurities. So, choose one day per week, and drink only fruit juices, herbal teas (no poppy seed tea allowed on this day!) – chamomile, green tea, lemon-ginger, etc. and do a colon cleanser too. Flush the toxins from your body. Exercise and “hydration therapy” (lots of water, juices) helps to flush poisons from your liver too. Milk Thistle  is a natural liver cleanser. I take it regularly. Do this once per week, faithfully: It will keep your blood clean and your heart and organs healthy.

  • Be sure to drink plenty of liquids throughout the day: the result of any form of opiate use is constipation. I highly recommend taking a laxative every 2 to 3 days as it helps tremendously.
  • Take vitamins and get plenty of exercise daily.
  • Eat properly! Don’t be lazy and pork out on junk food all day in front of the TV. Take CARE of your body. A poor diet contributes greatly to pain in the body, poor heart health, obesity, lethargy, depression, the list goes on. You are what you eat. Eat fresh foods (fruits. veggies, whole grains, etc.).
  • Take one capsule of Valerian root at night- this doubles as both a sedative to help you sleep and also keeps your nerves calm throughout the next day. Excessive pain over time causes nerve damage: this stuff works, and it’s all naturalThe combination of poppy seed tea in the day, and one valerian root (capsule) at night, creates an environment that is calm, restful, and pain free, thereby allowing you to be productive. (I was able to completely replace my Ambien with Valerian root successfully.) Take one capsule of Valerian root per night if you weigh between 100-180 lbs. If you weigh 185-300 lbs. take two per night, but no more.
  • Educate yourself on drug use! There’s a difference between drug use and abuse.
  • It doesn’t mean you’re a “druggie” if you use drugs. It does if you abuse drugs.
  • Keep your threshold and drug tolerance LOW. This is so very important. I’ve taken the same amount of PST for two years now, having never increased my amount. I purposefully keep my thresholds very low. If you do this, always, you can continue taking a low dose of PST, and it will continue to be effective. Once you trade in that tried and true dose for a bigger one because you want to “feel more”, you’re increasing your addiction chances. Be mindful of this, always! Keep your motives in check and use PST for pain management rather than recreationally. If you want to get high, smoke a joint. Don’t use PST to get high.
  • You can never have too much education about drug use, the brain, the effects of various drugs and substances and the brain, behaviors, drug-related behaviors, tolerance levels, the digestive system, the list goes on and on. Educate yourself!
  • Be safe!

And for the record, GFS (Gordon Food Service) has the most effective seeds I’ve ever used: Trade East brand- spice section. They’re a little more costly, but worth it and consistent in quality. Use 1/3 of the container’s seeds (again, found specifically at GFS in most any state) with two or so cups of water in a 1 liter bottle. Your goal is to add enough water to cover the seeds by 1 to 2 inches. (Two fingers worth, horizontally.) Add a good squirt or splash of lemon juice- this helps extract the medicinal properties from the outside of the seeds. Now here’s the unfun part: shake that mixture like there’s no tomorrow- for a good 10 minutes, but no longer. Don’t let it soak, don’t deviate from these instructions and you’ll get solid results every time. Use the bottle cap as a filter, and strain out the liquid through the cap into a glass. Drink up. Usually, you can feel a significant reduction in pain within 20 minutes.

Be careful reading stuff online! There are a lot of junkies out there with bad information whose goal is to get high. This is not one of those posts. If you have a substance abuse addiction already, and your drug tolerance is already abnormally high, this amount of PST is not going to help you in any way, you won’t even feel it. If you’re reading this, and this is the case with you, I encourage you to get help through a recovery or drug rehab treatment program.

This PST information is for people who are actual moderate to severe pain sufferers who do not want to go the traditional medicine route. Doctors write prescriptions all day, every day, and so many patients become addicted to the pain meds without a whisper of a warning! I’m telling you to educate yourself in these areas.

You have a responsibility to yourself- and others- to educate yourself on substance use and abuse if you’re going to put substances in your body, no matter what they are.

Here is a list of natural things that I take which may help you too:

  • PST pain management/therapy
  • Valerian Root- natural sleep aid, promotes good nerve health, creates calming effect
  • ground ginger (spice aisle) It promotes healthy digestion and quells nausea.
  • cayenne capsules/Health Food aisle (Kroger, Walmart, etc.) Cayenne kicks up the metabolism and is a natural fat burner. It’s good for the heart too and gives you a boost of natural energy.
  • green tea- no creamer. Green tea is loaded with antioxidants which fight cancer-causing radical cells. Adding creamer neutralizes these necessary and powerful antioxidants, so, don’t use creamer! Add honey instead.
  • Colon cleanser/psyllium husk- taken daily, psyllium husk keeps your colon clean and healthy. The colon is where many cancers begin. Keeping it clean and healthy reduces your risk for cancer, heart disease, diabetes, and a host of other things.
  • Milk Thistle- cleanses the toxins from the liver and kidneys. This is the best all natural liver cleanser in the world.
  • 1/2 of an antihistamine per day (such as generic Benadryl). Opiates cause your body’s histamines to become fairly active. This causes itching and scratchiness. Taking a whole antihistamine can be cause drowsiness (you don’t want that) so keep the antihistamine amount to 1/2 per day. This not only kills any opiate-related itching, but doubles as a potentiator, which actually makes the poppy seed tea even stronger. This means that you will get the maximum benefits from a small dose of PST/poppy seed tea, without having to increase the dosage. This is a great help! Your goal is to receive effective pain management therapy without raising your dosage over time. Keep your doses low- always. 
  • lemon juice- (taken with PST)- acts as a natural anti-parasitic cleanser.
  • multivitamins
  • Filtered water- 8 to 10 glasses per day. Proper hydration lowers blood pressure and even cholesterol. It helps flush toxins from the body and eliminates unhealthy waste and poisons from the blood. Proper hydration is important for every organ in the body, especially the brain, and also helps regulate the body’s thermostat. It also aids in the secretion of proper hormones into the blood: many health problems would be remedied if people simply drank more water.

Hope this information is helpful! No matter what, choose health and life, and take care of yourself, physiologically, and psychologically/emotionally. Never use any type of substances for emotional pain. Seek treatment and therapy for that.

Be well. x


The Caretaker

“Is that a mop she’s carrying?” I asked my daughter.

“Looks like it.”

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I pulled the car slightly behind the woman, who was making her way across the parking lot taking slow, methodical steps. I happened to have my Canon around my neck with my trusty 50 MM prime attached and ready to go. I went to work quickly, snapping away shots of this curious woman- I didn’t know at the time that she was homeless. It was Valentine’s Day. My daughter, who knows me all too well, said, “You’re not going to stop…”

“Of course I am,” I replied. 

My daughter then realized that it was the same woman she’d had a previous encounter with, and not a friendly one at that. The woman had been using a grocery cart and my daughter had recognized the store and had asked her about it, while passing her on the street. The woman fired back a few semi-obscenities and continued on her way.

“You’re going to help her?” she asked.

“Yep.” Said I.

It was then that I recognized her. I had shot the residents at the Haven House (homeless shelter) two Christmas’s before: she was there that day, and allowed me to use her photo as part of the website’s pictorial. I knew that if I approached her with a DSLR around my neck and a myriad of questions, she would be put off. So, I basically rushed her with a big smile and a hug and asked her how she was doing.

“Hey, remember me? We were at the Haven House together!” This isn’t altogether untrue.

I could tell by her expression that she didn’t recognize me, but I held her with my smile and made small talk, making light of my camera. She warmed up to me quickly and began telling me her story.

She wasn’t a junkie, or alcoholic. She was once a registered nurse, who had suffered a series of unfortunate events in her life. She continued sharing her story with me, as we made our way back toward the abandoned train yard where she currently resides. The owner, who is a Christian man, allowed her to move into one of the cars four years ago.

“They call me the caretaker,” she said, pride intact.

“Do you want to see it?” she asked.

“Well yeah!” I said, hardly believing what I was hearing. She went on to tell me that she had no running water, no heat, no air conditioning, no electricity, no medical coverage, no car, no government check, no computer, no cell phone, and very little else.

“You’ve been living here for four years?”

“Yeah,” she said.
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It was all I could do to not break down crying. We have a new, fancy bridge that’s being built in our city that’s costing millions of dollars, connecting Indiana to Kentucky. While that’s great and all, our transitional housing program has been cut- lack of funds.

“What’s your name- first name only?” I asked her.

“Jean.”

“Jean, I’m Birgitta.”

And we traded another smile.

“I can’t make any promises Jean, but I’m going to see what I can do for you. Tell me what you need; can you make me a list? I’m going to see what I can do to raise some money for you, ok?”

She made a small list of things, such as AAA batteries and other miscellaneous items, and I gave her my home and cell numbers.

“If there’s anything you can think of, call me, ok?”

Jean shared more of her story with me, and the plights of trying to receive medical treatment while being homeless. Our city’s main hospital, Clark Memorial, has an extended emergency room: the Behavioral Health unit. Because substance abuse is such an endemic problem in Southern Indiana, people who are thought to be mentally ill or exhibiting behavior associated with substance abuse are directed immediately to that area of the ER, and without question. They tell you that it’s simply part of the overflow area where they put people when it’s crowded. Because homeless people are stigmatized much of the time, and filed away quickly straight over to Behavioral health, many homeless people don’t receive the necessary treatment they need.

“I fell off my steps 10 days ago. Look,” Jean said.

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She raised her shirt and pulled her pants away from her hip, revealing several large, yellow-green bruises that covered her backside.

“I can’t go to Clark Memorial because they’ll stick me in Behavioral Health.”

This too made me want to cry. I mustered my strength and fought to maintain my composure so that I could finish conducting the interview. Just then, two men with kind eyes and a pair of crutches came walking down the tracks, toward her train car.

“Here ya go, darlin’,” said one of the men to Jean.

And then Jean looked like this:

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I introduced myself to them, quickly establishing the necessary street repoire that states clearly, “I’m one of you guys.”

After another quick round of shots, sans the gentlemen, I trotted back to my car, ending our rendezvous. I went back later that night, with a bucket list of things that I wanted to try to do for Jean, and a hot bowl of homemade chicken soup. As I made my way down the dark tracks, it was bitterly cold, and the desolation was palpable. I knocked on Jean’s door and she answered quickly.

“Yes? Who is it?” her voice carried a note of dignity and hospitality. She made her way to the door with a flashlight in her hand.

“It’s me- Birgitta. I have something for you.” I said. “I think you should know that I make the best chicken soup on this side of heaven,” I said with a smile.

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That was two days ago. Last night was teeth-chattering freezing. I cried off and on throughout the evening, thinking of Jean in her train car; no lights, no heat, no t.v., no company.

When I mentioned online college, aka distance education, Jean had taken great interest. Having been a registered nurse, she might like to further her education, just as I’m doing. Josh happens to be in possession of a standard size construction trailer. It’s an 8×20 with a built in kitchen nook that looks like a diner from the 50’s, along with a tiny bathroom, door included.

I literally AM the poor, but I can’t keep something that might be of use to somebody else, especially in Jean’s situation. I’ve talked Josh into giving it to Jean, if she’ll be allowed to have it there. At least it has windows. I’m not going to let her know beforehand, but if she can have it, we’re going to fix it up with a bed, pictures (that I can provide myself, being a photographer and all), and other necessary amenities. I love surprising people. 🙂

I’m going to petition several small businesses and ask if they can donate their services (cell phone, laptop, wireless printer, etc.) so we can help Jean get her life back. I have a children’s book I’d like to market and promote, as well as a music album/CD I’d like to compile (being a singer/songwriter musician) and a virtual art gallery to create, but I’m putting everything on hold for a bit so I can at least offer Jean some reprieve. I have a lot of irons in the fire: it’s something that I’m used to.

Did I mention that I have an intestinal virus? And, TMJ (my jaws crack and pop like Rice Krispies when I open and shut my mouth it’s so bad, and extremely painful), scoliosis, and of course, the arachnoid cyst on my brain stem. The car accident back in October compacted every one of these afflictions- I have nerve damage as a result, along with other damaged areas. I’ve been so sick these past few days. (The insurance company, Allstate, who represents the lady who split my bumper, has offered me a paltry $1,700 for my pain and suffering. Um, are you for real Allstate? After I had to drop out of school last semester (with a doctor’s note), repair my GPA, have suffered unthinkable pain and suffering to my overall alignment- in my vertebrae, not my car) and am barely able to hang on to this semester due to all of the stress…and they offer me $1,700. Unbelievable. No, you are NOT in good hands with Allstate.

I could get a lawyer and duke it out for a year or so, but that would mean that I would have to go through the “doctor gauntlet”, being referred here and there. I know the drill- I’m a research hound and stay up on many things.

Poor J- he’s hurting everyday as he continues his decompression therapy several times per week. It’s no picnic! I’m concerned about his liver- he takes a lot of Ibuprofen, but basically, he lives uncomfortably and in pain much of the time. The car accident has absolutely turned our lives upside down.

Because I refuse to take prescription pain medication, and/ or anxiety medication, doctors aren’t sure where to go with me. They’ve suggested a number of medications for me to try, but the majority of the meds double as anti-depressants (the latest fashion in chronic pain meds) but I refuse to be a guinea pig after Topomax almost killed me. They’re quick to diagnose you with a conversion disorder if you’re a chronic pain sufferer, which in short, translates to “it’s all in your head”. (Which in this case, it is. Literally.)  I’ll take my chances with cayenne pepper, ginger, green tea, a mile walk (when I can squeeze it in), and other homeopathic avenues.

As much as I regret it, I may have to cut my own throat and take the offer from Allstate simply because I want to set Jean up with an Android cell phone with a paid one year contract. That would at least give her a lifeline to the outside world via the internet.

I’m not driven by money- never have been- never will be. I am, however, going to add a PayPal tab here in this blog (up at the top, later), temporarily, so that whoever may have it upon their hearts to contribute to Jean, will be able to. I’m hoping to be able to collect at least a few thousand dollars for her. This is my target list for Jean, and what I’d like to get for her with outside help:

Medical coverage for 1 year
Inexpensive, but descent car
Paid car insurance for 1 year
Smart phone (Android)  + 1 year paid coverage (internet)
Battery powered printer (wireless printer accessible from Smartphone)
Small Generator with (some) gas
Water filtering system (portable)
Laptop

Jean has given me permission to work on her behalf: Lord knows somebody needs to.
She’s grateful for all of the help.

Josh is going to use his awesome talents and make her a homemade walking stick/cane. We’re going to go soon and select a sturdy tree branch so that he can smoothen it, stain it, and shellac it. It’ll be another nice surprise for her.

If you’d like to make a monetary donation, the PayPal email address is: osakade@yahoo.com 

Any and all contributions for Jean will be documented, systematically filed, and then made available for public viewing. Thanks again. 🙂

Now I’m going to go and collapse.

p.s.

The breakup letter worked. It’s been difficult, but I haven’t chewed on my cheek/tongue since I “dumped it”. (Hey, whatever works.)

xo