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Posts tagged “pain

My Old Friend, PAIN

Despite my courageous front, there’s no getting around the gut-wrenching pain that goes with a break-up. My heart feels like it’s being eaten out by wild rabbits. Raw raw pain.

When Josh and I split up a year ago, it was fairly easy. I just froze everything. I put myself into an emotional cryogenic chamber to protect myself. It worked. I cried only once through the entire winter and shoved him clean out of my mind (and heart) when a memory tried to come creeping in. But not this time. This time I’m in the fire. And, as I foolishly told him in an email, my heart is burning with a million degrees of love for him. This SUCKS.

I thought Joan Crawford would do the trick- Mildred Pierce is like- the best thing ever when you’re breaking up. And when that didn’t work, I jacked it up a notch. Fatal Attraction didn’t help much either! Haha…

I’m scared to think of what I might try next for comfort. Nothing’s “working”, and I know- of all people- that I have to walk through the pain. Feel the damage. Bleed with it.

It’s just too recent still. Not enough time has passed to stitch up the wounds. We mourn people when they die; why is a breakup any different? I’m mourning the death of what we once had. 😦

No, only time can ease this pain. We always knew that someday, we’d have to let each other go. He’s 27, and his biological clock is ticking. He wants to start a family and do all of that good stuff- and by all means- he should. And he has every right to do that and be happy in doing so. It just sucks to “not be needed” suddenly. He’s been “my guy” for 8 years now. It confuses my brain to think “He’s off to find Ms. Right. I wish him well!”

This is hard. Any ole way you slice it. But all breakups are. This time I don’t have my anger to protect me. I’m just all mushy and made of oatmeal and crying 10 times per day. There’s no other place to go than through the fire.

I guess it’s just my turn.

Goodbye


When Love Comes Walking In

It’s such an awesome thing; when life has given you a big crap sandwich for a bit, and then you see two people madly in love and you just have to smile and be in awe and think- I remember that. :0 )

In this case, it’s my son, Brian, and his little lady- Mandy Tator Tots:

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And then when I was driving home tonight, and saying, “God, I know you have a great plan for me. It’s painful, it’s hard right now. But I know you have my best interest at heart.”

And then I looked up and saw this!

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“Yeah. I’ve got you, kid,” He said…and smiled.


Why Good People Suffer

I’ve recently read a story about a beloved blogger (Rara AKA Rarasaur) who has been the victim of a hate crime. I can’t go completely into her story because I don’t have enough information, but she was accused of embezzling $500,000 from her former employers.

She left their employment to start her own business along with a healthy client list. My suspicion is that her former bosses were afraid that she would be competition in some manner, so they assassinated her character by accusing her of embezzlement, and went a step further by contacting her entire client list, damaging her reputation and corrupting any potential hope of generating clientele.

She and her husband sold all that they had to obtain an lawyer, and she ultimately lost her business. They moved into a tiny hotel and lived on $5 pizzas- hardly the stuff of half a million dollars! For the next few years, Rara fought for her life. In the end, it was useless. Rara was sentenced to 3 years in prison: 18 months for good behavior. (Most prisoners only serve 50% of their sentences if they become model prisoners.) There was never an official investigation into the (alleged) missing half a million dollars. It was all very hush-hush, yet they still managed to ship the case over to the D.A. and she was charged.

I don’t know Rara personally and have only ever left one comment on her blog, but her pictures of herself reflect a woman who radiates love. She’s been known to raise boatloads of money for other people and is an activist in the blogging community, as well as a poetess and huge supporter of organizations she believes in.

Everything in me says that she is innocent. The reason this story is so close to my heart is because I too was falsely accused of something I didn’t do many years ago. My entire family was ripped apart and we were all punished relentlessly, year after year. I wasn’t allowed to speak in court, ever, and so after years of being thrown about in a vicious and abrasive system, I fired my attorney just to be able to speak out in court, finally. I slammed my hands down on the table and demanded that my kids return home. They had taken everything else from me, but I wasn’t going to let them take my voice.

It was the right thing to do. The case took a necessary turn and I was spared going to prison on trumped up false charges. The case drug on for 13 years or so. I was pulled apart at the seams and tested beyond anything I’ve ever experienced. I went through absolute hell but I never gave up. Year after year, the battering continued, but I never gave up. I learned just how weak I was in the face of such a crushing device as our government- but I also learned how strong I was.

So many innocent people are sentenced to prison every day. It’s a horrific circle of injustice: the accusers, lawyers, and everybody involved knows that poor people cannot defend themselves properly, therefore, they offer a plea agreement (which is seldom in favour of the defendant) and most times, the defendant ends up taking the prison sentence because they’re out of resources and too exhausted to continue fighting.

I have my own theory as to why evil things happen to good people. I deal with many (many) people on a daily basis who have suffered abuse, trauma, etc. and who carry deep scars and even deeper resentment. I’ve spoken (typed) with literally thousands of people over the past decade, sharing my own personal story of tragedy and triumph. Why do horrible things happen to people like us, who just want to do good in this world and live our lives?

Why?

And every time, I think of Joseph (from the Bible). His is a true story. Joseph’s siblings hated him so much because his parent favoured him over them. Jospeh had had dreams of his brothers bowing down to him: it infuriated them! Josheph’s father, Jacob, had given Joseph as special coat made from various colours. When his brothers saw it, their envy was so intense that they wanted to kill him. So one day, they thought of a scheme that involved killing their brother, and smearing animal’s blood on his precious coat. They would take the bloody coat to their father and tell him that Joseph had been murdered by an animal, and that’s just what they did. They wanted to defile the very thing that represented their Dad’s love for Joseph.

So, they threw Joseph into a deep pit, ripping his coat from him. They devised ways that they might kill him. Only one of his brothers, Reuben, loved him. He stood up for Joseph and suggested that they sell him instead and get some money. He appealed to their greed to save his brother’s life, and it worked.

Joseph was sold to some travelers on their way to Egypt. He landed in a rich man’s house named Potiphar. Potiphar’s wife desired Joseph and tried to seduce him on a number of occasions, but Joseph was all about doing the right thing. He was thrown into prison for telling the truth. He had done nothing wrong.

While in prison, Joseph suffered much hunger and beatings; diseases and all sorts of evil things. All the while, God had been preparing Joseph’s heart for great things! But look what he had to go through to get them.

Fast forward many years. Joseph had grown into a man and had been incarcerated for many years in dark, diseased dungeons. One day, the king of the land had troubling dreams and only Joseph could interpret them. He told the king that there would be a great famine in Egypt- the king himself had dreamed about it!

In the end, Joseph was made chief in command (second only to the king) and saved all of Egypt, and ultimately his very brothers who tried to kill him. And in the end, they indeed did have to bow down to their brother, just as his dream had predicted.

When you observe Joseph’s life in bits and pieces, it seems so unfair that he had to suffer the way he did. But God just wanted to “give him a new coat”. The bigger picture is a beautiful one.

Joseph’s story is not so different than my own.

In all that happened to me, God simply wanted to give me a new coat. 🙂 That coat is very expensive. It looks like old goat skin that is weathered and worn, shredded here and there and barely held together after years of being ripped apart, but it’s laced with diamonds- the most durable stuff in the world.

The most important thing to remember, when you’re in the fire and feel as if you’re going to be burned to a crisp- is that the heat is God’s love. It hurts like hell, sure it does, and it feels like hell. But His intention is not to kill you. It’s in that fire that all of the impurities are burned away, and in the end, you’ll come out shinier than gold and you’ll have the goods that it takes to help other people who are still in the fire.

So Rara, if you ever read this some day, I have no doubt that you’re going to come through this thing a winner. Think about all of the lives you will touch that can only be reached by becoming the sacrifice, as you have done.

There’s a great need for genuine love in prison. I have no doubt that you’ll touch many lives. God needed to send the right woman for the job, and I believe He did.

Shine on, Rara. xo

ForRara


Day 1: Back at School

I tell you, school couldn’t come fast enough. For some people, beginning their next semester entails stress, anxiety, uncertainty, procrastination-anxiety, feelings of being overwhelmed, and feelings of general excitement mixed with doom. For me, it’s just the opposite. When I’m in school, I’m completely in my element: I know what to expect and I work best when I’m in the pressure cooker! It’s just how life has molded me to be.

I’ve added my 14 exam dates for Abnormal Psychology onto my wall planner, as well as my deadlines for my case studies and oral case study presentations. (Isn’t that a bucket of fun waiting to happen?) I’ve watched my video for Anorexia and other eating disorders for my Social Work Practice class and have submitted the accompanying assignment work sheet. My homework for the evening is to read 25 pages in each of the first chapters and take 10+ pages of notes that I’ll be tested on this week.

And then there’s my Biology lab course and Intro to Social Work! I’m still sorting out those assignments, dates, deadlines, video presentations, and other important assignments/folders. Apart from my oral presentations (and 30 + hours of volunteer work), I’ll also have two separate 15 page research paper projects in two different classes.

I’ve been hammering away at getting things sorted for the past 5 days solid: it’s a lot of work, but the preparation beforehand saves me stress later. You can hardly be too prepared for college classes.

I’m really hoping that I’ll be able to squeeze a vacation in soon as I won’t be taking a summer break this year. Four months this spring at VU and then it’s straight over to SNHU to begin work on my BA in Sociology where I’ll work without a break for the next year. I can now say that my life is planned out for the next several years!

I haven’t had a horrific migraine in more than two months; that in itself is borderline miraculous. I believe I’ve made a profound discovery. There are triggers that set off migraines when you’re a chronic migraine sufferer, as I have been for several years now. I have specific triggers that I avoid at all costs:

  • too much sugar and salt
  • too much audial, radial, and visual stimulation
  • weather/change in barometric pressure
  • grinding teeth [bruxism/night grinding]
  • stress
  • stress
  • stress
  • lack of sleep
  • alcohol [never more than two glasses of red wine- ever]
  • no yelling or heightened displays of anger
  • insufficient exercise
  • too much heat
  • being too cold

In other words, I have to walk very softly or I can get a vicious migraine that lasts for 3 days. (My blog is filled with days like that.) I’ve been my own guinea pig for more than a year in experimental home trials where I’ve undergone numerous self-testings: I’ve made some very important discoveries.

The most important discovery of all is that it could be allergens which are triggering the histamines to go to war against my own body. The result? Migraines! Through my own researches, I’ve come to learn that the sinus cavities swell when the body is under attack from various allergens. The most common ones come from cats and pet dander. Several of my family members are allergic to cats and need to take antihistamines when they’re around cats. Armed with this knowledge, I decided to start taking 1/4th of a Phenergan (prescription: it’s a powerful antihistimine that fights nausea) daily, without fail, to dry up the almost constant sinus drainage I have and have had all my life. It works like a charm! Benadryl is too strong for me, so the quarter strength Phenergan is ideal.

I’ve been doing this for a while now, and have noticed that since my histamines are regularly controlled, my triggers have become subdued as well. I haven’t taken a whole Phenergan in more than 5 years- that stuff’ll knock you out cold, but at 1/4th the strength; it allows the antihistamine to do its job (dry up the sinus cavities) while mitigating the histamine and body’s histamine reaction, resulting in a dramatic decrease in migraines, so much so that I seldom get them at all any more.

I used to think that the arachnoid cyst in my head caused these severe migraines; not any more. Perhaps the neurologist was correct: he suggested the migraines weren’t caused by the cyst and shared with me that arachnoid cysts are often congenital. Many people have them (from birth) and never know it. Some people have problematic cysts though, and the sinuses and arachnoid membranes flare up, which exacerbate the onset of migraines greatly. I believe my own body’s histamines have been the culprit the entire time. My daughter loves the kittowies too much to let them go, so I have to adhere to a strict code of health  and watch my “triggers”, but hey, I’m practically migraine free now, and as a result of my super-tight-lifestyle, I’m healthier than I’ve ever been. No complaints here.

🙂

(You know you’re getting old when you actually want to be healthy…)

ImageHelios 44-2 film lens/digital Rebel- private retreat at friend’s house- January 2014


Speak to Me, Lord

It’s 2:52 am: I’m getting to bed early tonight.

Somebody’s been misbehaving again, and it isn’t me. I won’y mention any names, but I’ve gone and gotten my heart broken again. Damn. We were doing so well too…

I’ve moved into Brian’s old room; it’s comforting seeing his graffiti on the walls, I’m sleeping with his big, squishy teddy bear. I can admit to that. :0) I’ve been crying my eyes out for two days and haven’t eaten for 2 & 1/2. I’ll eat when the tears stop flowing. In all of this pain, I know God has lessons for me to learn. Pain is one of the best tools God has. My heart right now, can be compared to the earth, and when the ground is broken up, it seems destructive and things are ripped apart on a microscopic level. It’s dark…it’s cold…the seed that’s been in the ground for days begins to shake- there’s a revolt, and a miniature earthquake. After much pressure and tumult, that seed busts open, and new life springs forth. After a while, the roots seek out the deep and they thirst for water. This is my heart right now. I know there are seeds of love that are bursting forth, but in order for that to even take place, I have to deal with the cold, dark, isolation and the tightly squeezing pressures around me. I remember that these situations bring new life, but I must suffer the pain first. For whatever reason, it’s for my growth.

I was able to get the sunrise that I was after. I hadn’t taken a sunrise shot in years and it certainly paid off.I was admiring the abstract composition of the distorted lines interweaving themselves in and around the dock, when I turned around to take one final glance behind me [insert Hallelujah chorus here] BAM.

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Abstract waterscape by the docs
Super Tak 135/3/5/manual

The In Between

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The purples, and blues and pinks faded away and was quickly replaced by a small, white. orb that was surrounded by the most beautiful shades of yellow, gold, and orange I’d ever seen. To make it even more epic, it all happened while the church bells down the street began ringing, as if on cue, to accompany the sun up from his bed. It was spectacular.

I couldn’t help thinking, ‘Speak to me, Lord’.

And He did.

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EOS REBE/SMC Super Takumar 135/3/5/natural lighting/manual


Little Things

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For my friend: All the Avenues Look Ugly.

I know you hate the world, I do too sometimes, and I know you want to die and think about it a lot. I want to tell you while there’s still time that you are a beautiful person! We all shine in different ways. Some of us are happy, bubbly, people that refuse to see negativity in the world, and some of us see the wreckage because we know it’s there.

I wish I had something profound and life-changing to say. But I really want to say that even dead flowers in a jar can be beautiful, and the point to all of this is that I care. You are loved, friend.

xo


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.


The Dance

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“I’m swearing off all sugar,” I said, to Josh.

“Good! You can do it.”

“Yep. Starting tomorrow. ‘Cause I start my fast tomorrow, so…that would be a good time to start. Besides, there’s a strawberry cake on the stove.”

“Well good, Birgy. I know you can do it,” says Josh again with a hint of boredom.

“Oh crap! I just found a whole bag of Blow Pops!”

I can’t explain this sugar craze I’ve been on lately. I’ve been eating so many Lifesaver Gummies- it’s sick. Whole packages. Generally, I fast 5 days per week. I do this because it brings me closer to God. I intentionally suffer. On the week ends, I eat whatever I want, but really, I usually eat in moderation- never a second plate and I don’t eat until I’m stuffed. Why blow your levels all out of whack?

Besides, I eat to sustain life- not to cram stuff in my face. I respect that my body belongs to God- and it’s His “house”. So I keep that in mind when I’m preparing food and cooking. Usually, I’ll have a small (healthy) breakfast, oatmeal, etc. and take my daily regimen of pills which consist of:

Cayenne pepper
Evening Primrose Oil
Super B Complex
Milk Thistle (cleanses and detoxes the liver)
Fish Oil
Colon Cleanser (psyllium husk/herbal)
Multi-vitamin + Iron

After this, I won’t eat until 6:00 p.m. After breaking my fast at 6, I’ll eat a healthy meal: veggies cooked in either 100% canola oil or imported cold pressed olive oil, + meats (beef/chicken/pork, usually) + multi-grain baguettes toasted in olive oil or something along those lines- but always pretty healthily. I allow myself to snack on fruit and cheese usually, and ice cream and chips- I don’t limit myself to ounces and stuff. I don’t count calories. I don’t “diet” as it were, not in the traditional sense. I don’t fast for aesthetic purposes. I fast for spiritual discipline and cleansing- I’m a big believer in fasting.

Five days per week- Monday-Friday.
What this does is teaches me inner strength and control. When you have the ability to control what you do and do not eat most every day and aren’t “governed” by it, then you’re able to control your thoughts, behaviors, willpower, and many other areas that we often battle and give up control to.

And generally, I don’t go around telling people that I fast often- many people don’t understand. They don’t see why it matters. But it brings me closer to God and His will rather than my own. Also, when you take food out of the equation and “pleasing the self” for 8 hours of the day- it teaches you to “lay down”. It teaches you to be still and be very quiet. At least for that time. And over time, you learn to appreciate these low places in the spirit and soul. Good comes from it. Growth.

So usually, I don’t go hog-wild on whole bags of Lifesavers. I justified it by my fasting I suppose, but then, it does little good to fast like I do, if I give up complete control and eat whole bags of candy after my fast ends. It defeats the purpose of the whole thing.
So, no more wheelbarrows of sugar!

I thought it was about time for an update on my relentless jaw and tongue chewing habit. “Habit” is a mild way of looking at it, actually. When you spend 10 hours a day doing something, it’s no longer a habit, but an obsession and addiction. I was biting the sides of my tongue and jaws on the inside so much that it often bled and was sore much of the time. This exacerbated my TMJ tremendously. What I was doing daily went against all of my beliefs and norms and everything I knew to do. I simply couldn’t stop. I researched it and made a remarkable discovery: this is an area in psychology that is rarely focused on and discussed! I couldn’t even find the scientific name for it and barely was able to find forums where it was openly discussed. Not many cries for help- not many confessions. This confirmed my suspicions that this disease is still done in secret mostly, and so well hidden that it’s rarely discussed. There’s a tremendous amount of shame that accompanies this disorder because it doesn’t make sense to begin with. To confess would be an open acknowledgement that “something is wrong with me”. It’s so much easier to keep it in a locked closet and pretend that it doesn’t exist.

It’s no different than cutting or any other form of self- mutilation. It’s the same processes in the brain that sanction gashing open the flesh and feeling the pain. Not only feeling it, but welcoming it.  In my case, it was my teeth doing the cutting instead of a knife. I guess I had to get so sick and tired of being sick and tired of the disease controlling me rather than me controlling it, but finally, I was able to get to the place and recognize that “jaw-biting” was like an abusive partner that I swore to love and commit myself to and even protect. I needed to view it differently if I expected real change. I needed to break up with it.

Update:

After “breaking up with” my sick disease, it’s been three months. I haven’t done it once even! A life-time addiction- gone in once second. And I have been through some serious ^&%$ since then. At first, my thoughts were overwhelming. My anxiety was through the ceiling. I didn’t know what to do with my hands. My thoughts were working overtime and very much in an OCD-related way. So much chatter. It wasn’t easy- I just knew I needed to stick it out. After many uncomfortable weeks, the chatter dissipated and all was quiet. Finally, there was peace.

Recapping the letter:
[Originally posted February 12, 2013]

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Dear bad habit,

I don’t know how to tell you this, but  I just want to be friends I want to break up with you. You know I love you! And it’s not you- I swear- it’s me. I just can’t do this anymore. I don’t like the way you’re constantly attacking me, and it’s like I have no time to myself. What you’re doing to me seems harmless, but it’s abuse, and I will not stay with somebody that abuses me. We’ve been together for 35 years. I know I’ll never see you again after today. I can’t say that I’m sorry about that. Goodbye. And thanks for everything.

-Birgitta


Gargoyles and Other Distractors

I grew tired of being afraid of the gargoyles on Spring street. Maybe “afraid” isn’t the right word; intimidated is closer to how they make me feel. I’ve seen those gargoyles there (at Industrial Nightmare– a haunted house attraction) for the better part of a decade and I’ve looked away every time I see them. They’re hideous. Lately, because I’ve been a bleeding wound from the breakdown of my relationship with J- it’s made everything seem worse than it actually is. Red lights seem longer, curious and inquisitive glances seem harsh and judgmental, time drags on painfully.

As I was driving by today, I saw the gargoyles. I practiced exposure therapy on myself- and it worked! I got out of my car, camera in hand (Lensbaby attached), put on my hazard lights, got out of my car and walked out into the street (yes, actually in the street) and stood below the gargoyle. I studied it briefly then fired off a round of shots. (I reasoned with myself: I’m not afraid to go into abandoned houses, quite the contrary- I love the “ache” that fills the gutted-out space and the stories they sometimes tell. I feel right at home in an abandoned house so there’s no reason why a gargoyle should intimidate me.)

Perhaps the truth is that I see a bit of my own nature in this creature:

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When I hurt like I’ve hurt this past month without Josh- the world seems colder. I was alright to simply die inside and I really didn’t care much any more. Love is a funny thing: with a bit of it tucked safely in your pocket, you can take on the world. Without it- it’s a chore to breathe.

Josh came by today. We went for a walk across the creek and up over the train tracks. I was so happy to see him! All of the blame and accusations that have been gnawing out my heart melted away and I became very aware of my own fragility: I had taken him for granted and it really is that simple. This is something that can only be realized after the fact; when all of the chaos has died down and words have ceased and there’s only the echo of your thoughts to contend with.

I came across this picture today:

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Happiness was so easy back then! Was that really only eight months ago?
Time can seem so cruel.

I’ve been lost in a sea of pain, but there’s a new layer to me that I felt earlier, as I was folding the clothes: a quiet strength that I never knew I possessed. My strength has always been as loud as thunder- very present and very obvious. This came in a whisper and it said, “This is the way things are now. Pick yourself up and carry on.”

“Your absence is so loud,” I said to Josh.
He held me for a moment. It was enough.

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Lensbaby Composer/Double Glass Ops./shot in monochrome/5.8.13/natural lighting/manual- taken on my walk along the creek


Sheltered by These Stones

Sanctify me
From the dark and stormy seas
That try to keep
Me
From fighting the good fight

From fighting
The good fight

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Fight the good fight of faith, lay hold on eternal life, whereunto thou art also called, and hast professed a good profession before many witnesses. 1 timothy 6:12


Black Storm Rising

pain

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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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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


Stress Level: Blowing Gaskets

Today has been an unusually stressful day. I’ve been working on my new art site, which I won’t reveal until it’s completely finished. It’s definitely in its embryonic stages. I have so much school work to catch up on and we’re financially strapped, as usual. Some of my photography art acquaintances have Donate to PayPal tabs up on their sites and many are actually receiving donations. I can’t bring myself to do that. I will work hard to sell my art work instead; that means pounding the virtual pavement and hobnobbing with the elite in the art world. Nothing to complain about, I assure you. But work is work, and I’m so limited on time these days. To put it simply, school is eating me up alive. Research, essays, and reports: my head feels like it’s in a pressure cooker, or an olive that is being slowly squeezed of its precious substances. The arachnoid cyst on my brain stem is acting up again and the pain is relentless and intense, but it doesn’t slow me down- it should.

It’s snowing outside- March snow. I should be taking a Psychology exam but I’m going to pop an Ambien and call it a night. It’s 1:00 a.m.

I just needed to write something.
I should cry.

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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


From Zero to Hero

When I first met J, he had long hair well past his shoulders. He was a total stoner, just as I was,  and was fresh out of a foster home: he was 18. My brother had brought him over one night, looking for some Klonopin (of which I had plenty at the time) and sort of left him on my doorstep. My brother was inebriated and wandered off into the night, having left his friend behind. 

I had lost two of my children to the system some 14 years before, due to a series of tragedies, and so my heart really went out to the guy when he shared with me his story. His mother had been murdered when he was only 7. His Dad died of a heart attack when he was 14. He was sent to live with his grandmother afterwards, who treated him unkindly, and from there, he was placed in one foster home after the next. I was still fighting for the return of my own children at that time, and when we compared notes, we soon realized that our stories were strikingly similar, except he was “the kid from the foster homes” and I was “the parent fighting for mine to return”; nevertheless, we shared the same feelings, ideas, notions, beliefs, struggles, and hopes. It was obvious that there was an age gap- 18 years to be exact- and I thought, at best, we would become friends who shared a spectacular understanding of loss and life. 

We talked for the next three days- without sleeping. We smoked a lot of weed and bonded entirely. We both knew that we had “found somebody” who could truly understand our paths, both past and present. We discovered that we were both Christians, and singers/songwriters/musicians. We were also both French and Indian (native American). 

As I learned more about this amazing guy, I realized that he had a gift in the areas of endurance and overcoming tragedy. I hadn’t yet learned many lessons that he had learned, and at some an early age. I followed him like a shadow, studying his easygoing manner, his very slow and methodical way of speaking. I noticed that he never spoke without giving what he said much thought. I on the other hand, often stuttered and, especially in his presence, was tongue tied and gushed out any ole thing my brain was thinking at the time. I completely lacked finesse and grace. 

I was also extremely hot-headed. If somebody pissed me off, I was ready to roll- and I do mean roll. J and I weren’t by any means “an item” but we grew close and formed a unique bond. I taught him the ropes in photography; how to compose a shot and the importance of exposure and lighting. He soon became my apprentice and model. I painted a huge set of butterfly wings on my wall and he became my living butterfly. (They made for very interesting pics. 🙂

The weeks turned into months, and the months years. I grew to love J with all of my heart, and have never known a love so strongly, apart from my children and parents, but this was a different kind of love altogether. I’ve learned so much from him, as he has from me. We quit smoking pot ( 5 years ago) together, and we quit smoking cigarettes together around the same time. We quit drinking whiskey together and somehow, we’ve worked the worst out of each other and have polished up our best parts. 

When we first met, we were both aimless, bleeding wounds in life. He’s been able to comfort me, and repair some places in my heart and soul that were dying. I’ve been able to care for him and give him the nurturing and love that he’s craved for many years. 

Although he was riddled with unspeakable horrors as a child, he was able to become an outstanding academic student, which has rubbed off on me entirely. We’re now both college students and can call each other a “life partner”. We’ve literally grown up together. Saying that J is a “boyfriend” is somewhat insulting. He’s so much more. If he were my husband, there would be labels and expectations and such. We share a unique friendship, but with a love and respect much stronger. I’ve often told him that I would rather be dirt poor, living in a cardboard box with him, under a bridge, than to have a fine mansion without him. And it’s true. 

And that’s the funny thing about love. It’s such a precious thing in this world; when it comes to you, you must hold it like a child, cultivate it, and care for it like the most delicate of possessions. In five months, it will have been 7 years since J showed up at my door. 

“I love this little pitty…and this little pitty….and this little pitty….” J says, grabbing my toes and smiling at me. I return the smile, my heart swelling and burning with love.

Who knew it would take an 18 year old kid to make a woman out of me? 
(And such a trainwreck of a person to make a man out of him.)

We’re not the same people were were years ago. We’ve merged into the same being in a way. We can give each other one look and say so many things. He picks things out of my head almost constantly- verbatim- and that’s really freaky, but so very neat. I feel like the very threads of our souls are intertwined. I speak much slower now. 🙂 And I always think before I speak. 

My little car is falling apart, and so I’ll be getting another soon. I told J that I will give him this one when I do- it can be his fixer upper. He just replaced the alternator and the battery, and I love the way he stands here, holding his prize (like a caveman) – the beast- conquered. 

Life can change so quickly sometimes. One big earthquake can bring a nation to its knees and everything you have today can be gone tomorrow. I think of these things daily. I can’t speak for tomorrow, but today, love is not only in my life, but it rules it. I barely have two pennies that I can rub together, but J’s love has made me a rich woman. 

And I’ll take love over money, any day…

 

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The new $200 Do

Well I have to say, I’m not hating the hair.

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I was feeling a little woozy when I got to Kelly Ann’s place. She ran my Visa before we started (naturally, I tipped her $20 + ) and told me that it was going to be a process. My hair was so damaged, we were going to have to strip the colour down and then recolour it 3 different times. It took a total of 5 hours. The wooziness increased throughout the evening and several times I caught myself microsleeping under the heat lamp. When I got home, I snapped a few “after” shots (for Kelly Ann) then ran to the bathroom. Full projectile vomit. I was able to go and lie down, and thankfully, Josh nursed me back to health.

Two days later- it’s still kicking my butt- whatever it was- and I feel like there are needles sticking in every joint I have. It’s not the flu- I’m not even “sick”, as in, a virus or anything. Whatever is going on in my body right now is definitely systemic and attacking my nerves and bones. The pain is excruciating, and it hurts to even walk. My feet feel like they’ve been beaten for hours.

On the bright side of things, my Nutrition final is due tomorrow and then I’ll need to do one more Substance Abuse Treatment Centers assignment and then I’ll be out of school for the semester!

Back to bed.


Beef. It’s what’s for Dinner.

It’s been a crazy day.

Josh and I slept in. (Or thought we would.)

The sister-in-law called with the reminder that she had my $100 that she owed me.
She also reminded me that she dropped it off with someone else and I would need to retrieve it. Nice.
After having our coffee, we left, and made our rounds around town.

We got some gas then were off to pay a bill on the west side of town. From there, we split to the GFS Foodstore to pick up some (very, very good) beef ribs:

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From there, we were off to the park to pound out a mile (right at 15 minutes). Naturally, my head felt like raw heck when I woke up but pushed through the day regardless. What choice do I have?

Following the mile at the park, we hit up the Dollar Tree for T.P., paper towels, shampoo and such. We also found these nifty health pills that are loaded with Gotu Kola, Ginko, Acai berry and green tea extract. (Some of my favourite things.) We grabbed several packs along with some 5 minute Vitamin B12 power shooters and downed them in the car, along with some of the herbal pills. Afterwards, we were off to the Family Dollar where I repaid a debt I owed.

“Excuse me,” I said to the cashier. “I owe your partner, the elderly woman who’s in pain all the time, 3 cents. I’ve decided to pay 5 because she let me slide the other day.”

And with that, I gave the cashier five pennies, and with a quick smile, I left.

(My daughter, Brianna, brought to my attention the other day that I needed to go out and do a random act of kindness. I’m thinking that may qualify to some degree? Perhaps I’m a cheapskate.)

After letting several people cut in front of me  on a busy street (and making an old man smile), we ran back to the Dollar Tree, picked up some BBQ sauce…after popping into Sav-A-Lot for some milk and butter (the latter of which I have renamed “Better than Sex”- but not really) and then returned home.

Ignoring the nagging pain in my head, I stepped out onto my back deck and decided to spruce it up a bit.

The before pic:

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And after:

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I’ve got these interesting little seed thingies falling from the tree. They look like birdseed. Not sure what they are:

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It’s almost 7 and I’m acutely aware more and more that I’m making it particularly easy for a stalker to keep up with me. (I’m quite sure at this point that Mr. Broihier is following my every move. And to that I say, “Mr. Broihier, you indeed still suck, sir!”)

I had plans of sipping a frozen margarita on the deck with Marlene Dietrich’s bio, but no…no… I’m off to slow cook the ribs and catch up on Wheel of Fortune.

Another day gone…


Photo Therapy [part 2]

Things are incredibly stressful for me today. Right off the bat, I had to be at a business meeting first thing in the morning. I have an egotistical flea (who happens to be the owner of an art website) biting my &^% to appease his ego. I’ve never known anyone so full of him or herself, honestly. The guy blasted me publicly- which is defamation- and you better believe I’m gonna blast back. I don’t take slaps lightly.

When I reach a breaking point, and I just want to hang everything up- shut my door- and “retire from everything”, I go take pictures.

It gives me a great sense of control to be able to compose my environment; even master the very lighting around me.
I think every person wants to feel in control of his or her own life, down to their very eternal destination- if one believes in such.
To be able to “design my surroundings” by manually adjusting the controls- it’s far more rewarding than simply “pointing and shooting”.
I would have little joy as a photographer if I merely pointed and shot. Manually adjusting my exposure in-camera is an integral part of the bonding process with my equipment.
For me, it’s a must.

My head feels blasted in about five areas.
Pain everywhere.

Nevertheless, I can’t simply sit around the house in pain and be pissed off.
So, I’m going to go out and take pictures.
Of what, I haven’t a clue.

I know of an online photo challenge and the theme is colour.
Perhaps I’ll go out and induct a spash of colour into my day…


Cheesecake and a Side of Whiplash

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I was taking the kids out to the Cheesecake Factory over in Louisville when we were rear-ended by a short, bitter woman in the rain. She offered no apology, and tried to diminish the whole incident.

“Well, it’s just a tap,” she said, looking away from the freshly split bumper.

“I have a cyst on my brain stem,” I said. “This is not ‘Just a tap’ to me.”

It’s 3:27 a.m. and we all just got home. Brianna’s sleeping on the couch now. I haven’t been able to record my songs, or work on any photos lately. Algebra is frying my brain! I need a break so badly. Nevertheless, I have to push on.

In the ER, I was addressed by a man in a wheelchair. He was on his way to the dreaded 3rd floor (psych-ward). He’d gotten hooked on bathsalts and Lortabs- he was a mess; jittery and bouncy with decrepit looking eyes. He was rambling incessantly, at my feet- smacking the soles of my feet with his elbow, like we were old chums! He went on and on about how people he’d trusted had stabbed him in the back and messed up his whole life (and so on). I gave him a much-needed lecture on the power of forgiveness and why he needed to do it- regardless.

“You don’t have to hug them, or walk with them, or even talk to them again! Just do the work in your heart. Do it for you- and forgive yourself too. It’ll add years to your life and soften your heart. You need to do that,” I said to him.

“But you don’t understand!” He said. “I’m the laughing stock of my whole town now! They took away my business- my family turned their backs on me,” (Etc. etc.) “You don’t know what kind of hatred I have!”

“Sir,” I said, “20 years ago, the system took away my two little girls because of my evil x-mother-in-law. There were nights that I envisioned my hands around her neck choking the living daylights out of her. I hated her so much. My little girls never came home. I do know what kind of hatred you have. I understand.”

And with that, he lowered his eyes away from me and stared down at the floor. I knew that I had reached him.

“Think about what I’m saying to you. Take these words with you in your life- wherever you go. Contemplate them, and remember what I’m saying, ok? About forgiveness…”

The nurse came and rolled him away.

“Good luck, Sir,” I said.

After I sat there in silence, thinking about what we’d discussed, I realized exactly why I’m doing what I’m doing in school, and why I want so desperately to get my degree. Every report I write, and every Algebra problem I do- it’s another bandage on an old wound. As I told a nurse earlier this evening, “Education is my weapon.”

She actually thanked me for helping her on the floor as we were being discharged.

Interesting night.


Wretched Mess

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Today has been one of the most wretched days of my life. I’ve had the worst migraine that I’ve ever had, and it has been a doosy. I started my day with a strong dose of cayenne and ginger (as usual) , followed by a small  cup of medicinal tea. I was grossly nauseous, and so went back to bed. I tried to read some of my Bette Davis/Joan Crawford dual biography, but was too sick. The pain was mostly in the back of my head, exactly where my cyst is, and it was swelling- massive pressure was building up and as usual, it felt as if I’d been shot in the back of the head- but this is actually worse. When a person is shot in the head, more times than not, they die. If they don’t die, they’re rushed to the hospital and given large doses of morphine, stadol, demerol, or something of that nature so they’re not suffering. In my case, I have to sit it out. Minutes feel like hours. Words are too simple to describe this kind of ongoing pain.

I haven’t taken a phenergan in over a month, but I tried to take one half and be very still. Eventually though, my stomach revolted. My son asked, “Do you want me to bring you the trash can, mom?”

“No, I don’t want to throw up in front of everybody,” I said.

Two minutes later I ran to the bathroom and “worshipped the porcelain god” as the saying goes. Now if you’ve never thrown up a fairly large amount of cayenne pepper, you haven’t really lived yet. My whole head was on fire! My nasal passages felt as if somebody’d sprayed acid into them and I was crying tears that actually burned. (Not boo-hoo crying, but phsyiologically.) Also, the pain was exacerbated by the fact that I had a new surge of fiery adrenaline coursing through my body, particularly in my head.

I made it back to my bed and by God’s good mercy, was able to sleep. I woke up feeling like raw heck, drank a bit more of my medicinal tea (poppy seed tea, which actually works to kill the pain, if you can keep it down), and after five more hours of intense agony- ordered Chinese. (Might I recommend the moo shu beef? General Tso’s chicken is also a tasty dish, and crab rangoons make a great appeteizer. This is what I ordered, along with a coke and a few Pepsi’s.)

It is now 12:45 a.m. and the pain is still pretty intense (it’s moved around to my front right eye socket). Ibuprofin is a joke, but I took two anyway. It’s been three weeks since I’ve stopped taking my Lortab and Ambien. My liver was beginning to tell me that I couldn’t keep taking pills and remain “healthy”. Granted, I never exceeded 10 mg. at one time, which is the equivalent of 1 blue Lortab, (but seldom took even that much). This is part of the reason why I decided to become certified in Substance Abuse- I know far too many people who have been reduced to a mere statistic, having lost everything (including themselves) to drugs.

I’ve become passionate in my search for a homeopathic solution: pain management without having to take pharmaceutical chemicals. Poppy seed tea can be taken at small doses to combat severe pain, such as the pain from my arachnoid cyst, while still allowing me to function. Naturally, if you take a larger amount, you can get higher than a kite, but if I wanted to get high, I’d just smoke a joint. I like to be in control of my faculties though. This is part of the reason why I quit drinking liquor over five years ago. If I chose to not take anything at all, I’d be limited to “getting out of bed to pee” and that’s about it. I can’t live that way. So after much consideration and trial and error, I’m sticking with my cayenne, ginger, and med. tea, when necessary.

I do get more migraines this way (not taking pharmaceutical drugs) and some days it’s sheer agony, like today, but my liver feels 80% better.

Through it all, I’m able to say, “Thank you God for this pain. I still choose to praise you, and lift up Your Name.”

When I compare my pain, to the pain that Jesus had to endure, I shudder to think that I could even complain. I still have two eyes that see, and a heart that loves- two working hands, a family that I love and that loves me. I have much to be thankful for.

Much to be thankful for. 🙂


Pain in Rainbows pt. # 2

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I decided to convert my collage (Pain in Rainbows) over into a digitally rendered fauvist styled painting on stone. I rather liked the way it came out. While I wasn’t planning on sharing my arachnoid cyst situation with all of Australia, I wanted to include my Aussie friends (all of whom are artists: sculptors, writers, and painters) as we’ve all been close for about six years now.

I feel pretty fortunate to have such a great group of friends. Many have solo exhibitions and are quite successful in the art world. And, a finer bunch of people I’ve never known.

The site I’m referring to is Redbubble. I’ve been there six years. Hmm…maybe seven.

 


Pain in Rainbows

I really don’t like pop art. Never cared for the Marylin coloured collage or the tomato soup cans (though I admit that I was thoroughly infatuated with the life of Warhol and have much respect for his talent). I decided to mingle the style of pop art with my love of B&W to examine and interpret my migraine pain. I suppose it could convey most any pain. After all, we all live with pain- whether emotional or physical- but none escape it. Like art, music, laughter, joy, and death- pain is a language that needs no interpreter.

I have recently found my Canon G3 battery charger. The camera is absolutely obslete on todays market, but I know that camera better than my own skin. I cut my teeth on that camera (manual exposure, shooting in monochrome, manipulating the lighting and shadows, and so on).

I think the problems many artists and photographers face today are due to the fact that the modern digital cameras are so “capable” that the user need only click one main button, “auto”, and the camera “does it all”. While it can mimic the accuracy to a degree, it cannot automatically shape and mold the light on a level that one can attain if he or she manually adjusts the settings. It’s like comparing a bologna sandwhich to foie gras. Or, Vienna Sausages to caviar. If a person doesn’t know how to shoot in manual, he or she may still be able to create an effective image, especially in Lightroom, GIMP (which is what I use), or Photoshop, but then it falls into digital artistry and not so much “photography”.

If you are curious to know what kind of a photographer you are, throw your DSLR (or P&S) in MANUAL, as well as MONOCHROME, and go out during the golden hour as well as high noon- then look at the stills. When you can take a batch of photos that aren’t blown out, hot- and bleeding here or there- you’re ready to move on to a more advanced camera.

There’s really no point in getting a fancy camera if you don’t know how to shoot in all manual! I can’t say this enough. And the truth is, about 80% of all of us photogs that have high end cameras are LAZY. (Notice I said “us”.) Very few actually shoot in manual mode, much less understand how to.

If I had a big rig, I’d be the laziest photog in the world.
Thank God for innovation and ghetto-rigging.

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