Wounded

There are times we don’t know which is harder to cure; physical or mental wounds? All I know is recovering from a mental wound is extremely difficult. Humbling. Isolating. The world as you know it changes abruptly into a very scary place. Your thoughts are terrifying and self-defeating. Nothing makes sense.

Self-care, cooking, and cleaning is exhausting. Words do not make sense. Writing is out of the question. Reading and retaining is impossible. Holding conversations usually results in confusion because you have forgotten how to converse. Maintaining relationships is like walking through a maze, you know you will eventually get out, but the journey through it makes you question if you will defeat the maze or live in it permanently?

For me, it all started simply enough; a medication change. Side effects that were never expected happened. Then a cold turned into a severe case of pneumonia … requiring hospitalization. (A very unsettling stay at that.) Finally, a fall, bruising connective tissues in my right shoulder resulting in wearing a sling. Months and months of recovery followed. Unbeknown to me, the emotional wounds would take even longer to recover from.

Pain can be endured. Fundamental emotional health is hard won. You can take a pill for pain. You can take a pill for depression. You cannot take a pill to restore damaged emotions. You must figure that out on your own …

My husband is an expert at circling the wagons. He allows me to make my world very small. I can physically heal and slowly let the emotional toll take its effect, but he brings me back into the light slowly with kindness and care. Safety. He provides a safe environment and allows me to cry, and quietly work on the emotional wounds. He lies with me and lets me talk about my fears and nightmares. He tells me to call for him, and he will come … and he always does. Every time. I never question his love for me. I question only my deserving of it.

So I have started over, in a smaller world. Adult coloring, journaling, even if it is only a sentence at a time. Zentangling. Light cooking and cleaning. Soaking in a bubble bath. All little things that used to seem so effortless have been hurdles made much easier with his faith in me.

I am coming back to him, to you, to me.

Wounds do heal.

IMG_4994~Kim with my love, Jeff.

A Rant From Monday Night

It is 11:11PM, on a random Monday night. I am listening to my husband breath deeply as he sleeps. My dogs are sleeping near me, Dezzie at my feet and Dora is lying to my left. I am awake. Painfully awake! I know what is happening, I know what I need to do to make my days and nights tolerable again, but I just… can… not. It seems too hard. It looks too big, too much, too everything. I can’t. I can’t. I can’t.

(Well, this is ridiculous.)

This happens to me. I hate to assume, but I believe it happens to others as well. I’m stuck! I am over 20 years into this disease, and I feel stuck. My fibromyalgia is manageable, as much as it can be. My co-existing conditions have multiplied and are getting worse. Medications that use to work, do not.  Home remedies that seemed to work no longer do. I have to seek out new treatments all over again! Buy the snake oils and hope one is the real deal. I have to become that test dummy again, and I just don’t want to. I say can’t, but it’s more of a don’t want to.

(I need to get it together before I don’t have it together!)

I know things, a little bit about a lot of different topics. I can hold my own in most conversations. I do understand what fibromyalgia is and how it behaves in each stage. I know what you will go through because of how fibromyalgia presents itself the first few years you have it. Then it is all a mystery! Once you get into year eight or nine, things start to change rapidly. This is where I see the most significant division of how people deal with fibro.

Each person’s experience is unique, and with time, their ability to handle their disease can make or break them. The deciding factor many times comes down to their support system and have they built a healthy one? Of course, they must be able to deal with their overall physical and mental well-being. These coping skills are usually in place by the eighth or ninth year. Sometimes it takes a bit longer to get boundaries established and medications dosed correctly, but an individual is very near to establishing their patterns to live the best life they can with fibromyalgia.

(I was there, and now, I have to start all over.)

It will soon be 21 years since I was a passenger in a car accident that was the catalyst for my fibromyalgia. I thought I was home free… you are never ‘free’ when what you have is chronic, and it is a disease. A disease that may have anywhere from one to over 200 co-existing symptoms and/or conditions! I get why doctors are frustrated. I am frustrated too!

(I can handle this.)

So in the morning, I will pick up that phone, and make that difficult call to my amazing doctor and we will figure out what to do next. I do have an excellent doctor. I will handle the next stage of this disease called fibromyalgia, and we will see what kind of information I gather to deal with these symptoms until we find a cure.

And I do believe that there will be a cure one day…

(Monday night rant ends…)

IMG_0168~Kim

Before I tripped Over a Stone, Fridays, #3

I started writing about the topic of domestic violence that I had experienced (almost 30  years ago) three weeks ago. I have noticed that I have been experiencing some memories that I thought had been long forgotten. Certain smells, songs, even a knock at the door have been a bit alarming, so I am going to round out today’s post and end this story.

If you want to catch up, I will post the links to the previous two posts, but first I must start with this;


Warning: Domestic Violence Content.


For your review:

According to the Huffington Post; The number of American troops killed in Afganistan between 2001 and 2012 was 6,488. The number of American women who were murdered by current (or ex) male partners during that time was 11,766. That’s nearly double the number of casualties lost during those years of the war.  

Women are much more likely to be victims of intimate partner violence with 85% of domestic abuse victims being women and 15% men. Too many have been held captive by domestic violence – whether through physical abuse, emotional abuse, financial abuse, or a combination or all three.

I was finally out of “R’s” grasp and safe at the women’s center on campus. There was no more time to waste. I would be going into hiding. Everything I had prepared would need to be left behind. I needed to disappear now. Paula helped me make some awkward phone calls, and I got in my car and drove to my parent’s home.

The sheriff was called so the protective order could be carried over into the county I was now residing. My car was hidden, and I moved into a basement room, much more secure and out of sight than my original bedroom. I was offered a ticket to Boston to stay with a family member, and my job would be cleaning airplanes. BUT. I had one class left on campus and an internship I could complete from anywhere. Three more months and I would graduate. I stayed.

I would drive different cars (never my own) every week to campus. A security guard would meet me. He would walk me to class and then from class, back to my car. My professor knew what was going on so I interned in a different city and he would meet me at random restaurants to discuss my assignments and review the ones I had mailed in for him. I got my diploma!

Things didn’t go quite that smoothly, but I got through it. There was a lot of emotional turmoil, mental anguish, embarrassment, and difficult experiences even after leaving “R.”

But I made it!

Shortly after I graduated, I started working for the Region IV Council on Domestic Violence. I was a court advocate for women and men who were experiencing domestic violence as well as an advocate for a woman’s shelter. I worked with that program for a little over a year. I loved working for the Region IV Council. However, I knew I needed to make a change for a bit. For my own mental health and a much-needed change of pace.

I moved to Minneapolis and started working as a mental health counselor with mentally challenged adults. It was a very different change of pace! I would go through much needed emotional healing as I met new co-workers and cared for these people I worked with that were so vulnerable.

I had made a healthy decision, it was a good change. I remained in touch with Paula.

I was free!

(Continued, Before I tripped #4)

img_0156~Kim

  • Domestic Abuse Hotline 1-800-799-7233
  • TTY 1-800-787-3224

Did You Know About Depression Flares?

Depression. It is said the third week in January is the worst for depression. I believe it. Also, I think once you have depression, a debilitating depressed mood can move in on you at any time of the year. Sneaky little mind trap just waiting to pounce and pull you into blackness.

What does an increase in a depressive mood feel like?

Fatigue! Fatigue is an excellent indicator of an increased depressive mood as is lower back pain! Did anyone else know this? (I always have lower back pain when I am feeling depressed, I never thought it had anything to actually do with depression.) I just read an article on The Mighty where the author talked about back pain and/or neck pain accompanying an increased ‘flare’ of depression. The whole idea of a ‘depression flare’ struck me as well. A depression flare. Well! I know how to deal with flares!

If we experience flares from chronic pain conditions, why would we expect not to suffer depression flares? This makes so much sense to me! I have really been struggling for the last few days with an increase in my depression. Putting this into a flare mindset has helped me greatly!

A flare is an increase in symptoms that is temporary. The comfort in knowing that you are experiencing a flare is that you KNOW it will pass. You realize what is happening and you know if you can just endure it, it will subside. Do what you would do for a flare and just get through the depression flare! Just get through it… endure it and remind yourself this is temporary. 

Now, as with chronic pain flares, if a depression flare gets too bad, you need to go to the hospital to get help with getting through the very real emotional trauma and physical pain a flare can cause. If you can handle it on your own, safely, then get through it the best way you know how. Have your ‘toolbox’ ready. A toolbox is a few items set aside that will help you pass the time when you are unable to sleep. Sleep is our most significant healer, but there are times when we cannot sleep. We must occupy our time as best we can until we get through this temporary increase in a very uncomfortable state of mind and pain.

Be safe, know your limits, and remember you are very likely thinking irrationally during a depression flare. If at any time you feel unsafe, call 911 and get help. There is no shame! Depression is a very real, and severe invisible illness.

Did You Know About Depression Flares via I Tripped Over a Stone.

img_0487~Kim

The Disease of Christmas Past, Present, and Future.

You have a disease, it used to be only an illness. There will not be a cure in your foreseeable future. You were so sure in the beginning this disease was just a temporary illness. You are on disability, you never wanted it. You ended up needing the money disability provides, but it is nowhere near enough to live on. You have some decisions to make but first, let’s revisit the past…

matthew-brodeur-215031

The first year of your illness, you were diagnosed with an ‘acute pain’ diagnosis. You were told to take a few weeks off work, go to a physical therapist, maybe see a massage therapist or a chiropractor too. After a bit of time, you were encouraged to seek out some mental health counseling. During this time you were given medication for pain. It seemed to work until you were tapered off, the pain came back with a vengeance. Why couldn’t you figure this out? How many people did you know who had the same physical or emotional trauma happen to them and they ‘bounced’ back? You were getting back to work and then having to take sick leave more and more because the pain was so excruciating. You are completely exhausted. Years two and three passed … all you can remember is visiting doctors, specialists, therapists, and sleeping and sleeping, never getting enough sleep! You maybe got a few months of work in here and there, you knew getting fired was coming.

Then the next 4 or 5 years passed … where did they go? Maybe more years went by while you still fought to get better even though the ultimate diagnosis of Fibromyalgia Syndrome was signed, sealed and presented to you in a medical file. This stated your acute pain was chronic, and you indeed were given a disease diagnosis. This ‘thing’ you had was not a mystery even though you were still confused by the ferocity of it. You were also informed during these years that you probably had at least one but more likely a few dozen coexisting conditions that can accompany this syndrome.

Let’s move to the present. You have learned a few coping skills. You realize you must stick to the medications that work for your conditions as well as the specific treatments you have found to alleviate as much of the pain as possible. Routines vary, but you know how to handle the changes. You know and experience the fibromyalgia flares that come upon you along with the fibro fog. These are the things you have learned from the years of trial and error you have put in. You have a feeling of some control, some purpose, some idea of the life that is possible for you to lead.

Looking ahead to the future, what will it hold? What are you going to do now that you have created some semblance of normalcy within the limitations of your disease? There are social media outlets, freelance writing jobs, and driving jobs like Uber and/or Lyft. You know this disease is not getting any cheaper, and the cost of living continues to increase. The disability pay is helpful but not enough for the long run. Or is it? You must determine what you will need to do. What can you do to supplement your income? Or can you devise a budget within said disability payment to live comfortably but with frugal intent? Your future is up to you.

Live your best life.

IMG_0201~Kim, I Tripped Over a Stone.

One Day I’ll Be A Ballerina

I was putting together my information for an upcoming doctor’s appointment, and I realized I had never really explored my birth trauma. I went through it, but what was it? Really? A birth trauma that made me physically handicapped from the moment I took my first breath.

My mother is diabetic, this means she was more likely to have larger babies. And this held true. All of her children were big at birth, 10 pounders at least, all six deliveries. I was the trophy-winning baby at twelve pounds twelve ounces! Yes, 12:12. They had to go to the pediatrics unit to get diapers big enough to fit me. My dad said I looked ridiculous in the incubator as I was definitely the largest baby in the nursery!

All kidding aside, no woman should have to birth a 12:12 baby and my mother passed out during the traumatic event leaving the doctor no choice but to pull me out manually as my shoulders were wedged in the birthing canal. Both she and I escaped death that day. There would be only gratitude and thanks to the family doctor who delivered all of her children. Never once was he blamed for causing the trauma of a brachial plexus injury to my right arm. He had saved our lives.

It was instilled in me as a child if I worked hard enough; did my physical therapy and wore my arm brace, one day, my right arm would be just like my left! It was as if waiting for Christmas morning! I worked very hard with my wrist weights and stretching exercises. I wore my brace throughout all the arm rashes that developed because I was waiting for the magical day to arrive. The day I could move my arms, above my head, just like a beautiful ballerina! I even took a summer dance course, once. How I loved to dance! One day …

ballerina-2359709_1920

There are several types of birth trauma resulting in a brachial plexus injury. I ended up with the generic diagnosis of brachial plexus to the right arm. All nerves running from my right arm to my brain were pulled away from the spinal cord. This should’ve caused permanent paralyzation of my right arm. I learned to move my arm, I did my physical therapy. No one told me I was a medical mystery. The human body really is a wonderland.

Out of every 1,000 births, six to eight babies are born with birth trauma. If you do the math that is about three babies born with trauma every hour. Usually, this trauma is temporary and heals within the first 12 months. I was not so lucky. BUT luckier than some who do end up with paralysis, cognitive impairments, even trauma resulting in death.

I was able to have some reconstructive surgery done when I was 15 years old. I benefited with some mobility improvements but that Christmas morning never came… my right arm will never move like my left. It is OK, though. I learned to assimilate. I learned to work out different ways of doing things others find so easy to do. I figured things out! In a way, I believe those coping skills I learned as a child has helped me deal with my chronic disease as an adult. I know how to problem solve, how to make the best out of a crappy situation. Sometimes the truths are hard to deal with, but you find a way including and accepting defeat at times. You learn perspective.

I know that I will never be a ballerina, but I can still dance.

Live your best life!

img_1066~Kim