Posted in Uncategorized

GP Awareness Month

As you have probably already figured out from yesterday’s post, August is Gastroparesis (GP) Awareness Month.  Well, actually August is Digestive Tract Paralysis Awareness Month, which includes several gastrointestinal disorders, gastroparesis just happens to be the one I have. I hadn’t really thought about it at the time I submitted my latest story for The Mighty, but it’s pretty convenient that I posted a story in reference to the July hydration challenge and how difficult it is to stay hydrated with gastroparesis and it was published on their website during gastroparesis month. Check out my story Managing Dehydration with Gastroparesis at The Mighty.

GP Super Power

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Understanding

There are a few things in my life that I wish others could understand. Here are five of them…

  1. Wheelchairs come in multiple sizes for a reason and are used for mobility.
  2.  I’m not lucky because I can’t walk.
  3. I did not choose CRPS or gastroparesis.
  4. I’m not eating because I don’t like vomiting in public restrooms.
  5. I appreciate your kindness, but please stop telling me “You look good.”

Point one… anyone could end up in a wheelchair at any given point in life. If I had a nickel for every time someone asked me what I was doing in a wheelchair, I might be able to afford a better wheelchair. It seems everyone feels the need to stop a young-looking person and ask that question. They ask the question in a way that makes me feel like they think wheelchairs are for the elderly or that I don’t need it. First of all, I know children and babies who are not able to walk and have to have mobility aids, so people need to accept that wheelchairs, walkers, crutches, canes, etc. come in multiple sizes, so they can be used by people of all ages and sizes. Second, wheelchairs are not comfortable and I would not be sitting in it if I didn’t need it. As for what I’m doing in a wheelchair… if you have to ask the question, expect a smart alec remark. I’ve been told there is no such thing as a stupid question, but if you have to ask what I’m doing in a wheelchair, I’m going to make you feel stupid by either telling you the obvious “moving from one place to another” or if I’m in a really good mood I might say something like “I’m flying to Mars… can’t you tell?” If you don’t want my smart alec answer, don’t ask the question.

Point two… being in a wheelchair does not make me lucky. I’ve been told on several occasions by able-bodied people that I’m lucky to be in a wheelchair because I don’t have to walk everywhere. What they don’t seem to understand is I was an active energetic teenager when CRPS took over my leg. I enjoyed volleyball, softball, hiking, and dancing. Oh how I’d love to go for a hike or run and play with my nieces and nephews. While a walk around the park might not make my legs and feet tired and sore, it definitely takes its toll on my shoulders and arms. It’s also a struggle to keep sores from forming from thru pressure on the bottom of my hip bones. Now don’t misunderstand me, I’m not complaining. I may not see being in a wheelchair as a sign of luck, but my wheelchair is a blessing. My wheelchair makes it possible for me to go to the grocery store, doctor appointments, and church. While I can’t partake of many of the activities able bodied people enjoy, I celebrate the fact that mobility aides make it possible for me to leave my bed, move about the house, and occasionally visit a family member or friend.

Point number three… people can’t control whether or not they get a chronic illness and everyone isn’t going to be cured. I don’t know where this idea comes from, but many people make comments that make it seem as though my chronic illnesses are something I’ve chosen or caused and I should be able to easily fix them by changing my diet, exercise routine, etc. Let me assure you, I did not choose the pain and other side effects of CRPS and I did not choose the vomiting, nausea, and pain of gastroparesis. Both of these are chronic illnesses that even the doctors are not sure why I have them. It’s not that I don’t have enough faith or that I’m making unhealthy choices. It’s just something that happened. For those who think I need to have more faith, I wish they could be me for a day. My faith is just as strong as it ever was, but I’m willing to accept that God might have bigger and better plans for my life with CRPS and gastroparesis. Many people look at chronic illnesses negatively, but I’m willing to face the challenges life throws my way and make the most of the hand I’m dealt. Sure, I could easily crawl into a dark hole of despair and hopelessness or I can accept my body the way it is and enjoy life to the best of my ability. It may not be the life I chose, but I get to choose how I live it. I have days that I get down, but I can’t let myself stay in that dark place. I must choose to be happy.

Point number four…vomiting in public restrooms is disgusting. It never fails when I get up the nerve and feel well enough to venture out to an event, that people notice how much weight I’ve lost and start pushing food my way like they think I’m starving and need to feed myself better. I explain that I can’t eat a lot of foods because I have gastroparesis and I will vomit if I eat too much or the wrong kinds of food. It’s not that vomiting in front of people bothers me, it’s that the thought of vomiting in a public commode grosses me out. I know people who squat because they are afraid to sit on public commodes. For those of us with gastroparesis, if we need a commode, it’s not our bottom that’s sitting on it. I don’t touch the commode when I vomit, but imagine sticking you face close enough to a commode, that hundreds of people have used, to vomit and vomiting so hard that it splashes back in your face. Those self flushing commodes make it even more of a challenge. If you’ve ever used one that’s extra sensitive, you know what I’m talking about. If you are sitting on a self flushing commode that is extra sensitive, it flushes almost nonstop and sprays water on you. If your vomiting and it is flushing, that water hits your face instead of your bottom, throwing vomit and germs back at your face and hair. Personally, I find that too disgusting. I’d rather eat in the comfort of my own home, where if I get sick I have my own private commode to vomit in. In the event that I’m going to be away from home and need to eat, I carry small trash bags (sold in both the pet and baby sections at Walmart). I can vomit in them and throw them in the trash. Seems much more sanitary to me than sticking my face where everyone else’s backside has been.

Point number five… looking good and being healthy are not one and the same. I appreciate all the kindness I’m being shown. I know I’ve lost a lot of weight and I am no longer obese… when anyone loses fifty pounds it is noticeable. I really appreciate all the comments about how I’ve lost so much weight, how I look so good, and how my color is good, but I wish people would try harder to understand what I’m going through. While I probably needed to lose some of that weight, I get tired of being told how good I look and being asked what I’m doing to lose weight. I’ve finally learned to be honest. At this point in life,  I have little control over my weight. I eat multiple small meals a day, but my stomach often rejects them. I’ve lost the weight because gastroparesis has starved it off of me. When I tell people “I’m basically starving”, I get this look that says, “You couldn’t really be that sick” and then I hear one of my favorite phrases, “Well, your color is good. You don’t look sick.” I must admit sometimes it makes me feel like screaming. Being complimented for being sick seems a little odd to me. Mom says people make her feel like she’s lying about how sick I really am because I don’t “look sick” to others. There were a couple of weeks before my picc line was put in that no one saw me. Well, one of my aunts did stop by to visit and saw what I looked like. When I answered the door, she looked like she had just seen a ghost. I wasn’t just sick. I was very sick. I knew something was happening to me, but didn’t know what to do about it. My body was turning grey and my skin could be formed like play dough or clay. It would hold the shape I formed it into. My aunt later told me that I did not look good that day when she stopped by. She had been very concerned. My color may be good now, but it’s because I’m getting IV fluids through my picc line daily at home with dextrose and potassium added to it. It’s hard to get people to understand that my IV fluids are what makes me look “healthy” or like I have “good color” to them. Even with the fluids, there are days when I’m very pale and weak. When I don’t feel good I don’t go anywhere. If you see me at church or the grocery store it’s because I’m having a better day.

 

As I’ve heard many others with chronic invisible illnesses say, I’m not looking for pity. I’m just asking people to be more understanding. Yes, I am aware that my chronic illnesses are invisible. It’s hard to convince people that it’s real and not just in my head. Most of the symptoms associated with CRPS and gastroparesis are invisible. Other’s cannot see pain or nausea. Unless you see my leg on a day that it’s swollen or purple and cold or are nearby when I vomit, which is sometimes as many as twenty times a day, you may not realize I’m even sick, just by looking at me. If you have a family member or friend living with a chronic illness, I encourage you to learn what you can about their illness. Learning a little will show them you care enough to want to understand them and their condition better. We aren’t looking for pity, we just need people to try to understand, to encourage us positively, and to care.

 

 

Posted in Complex Regional Pain Syndrome / Reflex Sympathetic Dystrophy, Gastroparesis, Uncategorized

Patient’s Patience

I’ve been trying to remind myself all day to be a patient patient… which would be someone who is able to tolerate delays in their medical care. Living with CRPS and gastroparesis, I’m used to playing the waiting game. I waited for doctor appointments and tests to be scheduled. Then I waited for results to be available. I waited years for both diagnosis to be made. Then I waited while treatment plans were made. Then I waited for insurance approval. Then I waited for appointments to be scheduled. Waiting is something that those of us living with chronic illnesses often get tired of doing.

For the past year, I’ve had a picc line and home health care to run daily IV fluids to help offset the dehydration caused by my gastroparesis. However, yesterday changed that. Yesterday morning, my home care nurse had come out to change my dressing/bandage and draw blood for labs. When she flushed the picc line after drawing blood from it, fluid shot out. I thought the saline solution had come out at a spot it’s not supposed to. However, the nurse thought she had not tightened the extension on tight enough. She has a nursing degree and it happened so fast that I wasn’t really positive where the fluid had come out, so I took her word for it that everything was okay.  She went ahead and flushed the picc line and everything seemed okay.

Later yesterday evening, I flushed the picc line again and started my IV fluids. My wheelchair kept being wet and I didn’t know why. After about ten minutes of trying to figure it out, I discovered that my IV fluids were dripping out on me rather than going into my body. I stopped the fluids and clamped the picc line so nothing else could leak out. I’d had a hole in the IV tubing a few weeks ago and blood had backed up the picc and dripped out in the floor, so I knew I had to get it clamped off before blood started backing up. I called my doctor, but couldn’t get the person on the phone to understand that I knew where the liquid was coming from and it was the picc malfunctioning. The person on the phone kept telling me my extension just needed to be tightened, but I knew the liquid wasn’t coming from there. They told me to call my home care nurse to come out and look at it. So, I called the home health nurse. She didn’t have to come out. She knew what my picc line looked like because she cleans and dresses it weekly. I was able to describe where the liquid was coming out and she knew my picc had a problem she couldn’t fix, so she told me to go to ER.

After sitting for three hours in the ER waiting area because the place was swamped, I finally got to see a physician’s assistant around 9 last night. She said they would have to flush it to see what the problem was. Ding ding ding. I was the winner. When they flushed the picc line and the liquid came back out exactly where I said it was coming out. Sometimes I feel like doctors, nurses, and others in the medical field think we the patient don’t know anything. I’d had the picc line for a year, I knew there was a problem. The spot where the liquid was coming out was in the middle of the part they put in my arm, it wasn’t where the extension screwed on. So, ER put in a regular IV access and ran my IV fluids for me. My fluids have to be run over four hours, so I was in ER until 2:30 this morning waiting for the fluids to run in. I needed the fluids and was thankful they ran it for me. When they started to release me, they went ahead and pulled the broken picc line out, so I didn’t have to deal with a broken picc. They gave me orders to call my doctor when they came in.

I called this morning as soon as it was time for the doctor’s office to open. Luck was on my side, or so I thought. Someone actually answered the phone instead of it going to voice mail. Unfortunately the person I needed to talk to wasn’t in. She wouldn’t be in until around eleven thirty today and I would only find that out by calling again two hours later. As I said, I’m used to the waiting game. When she returned my call around one she said she would see what she could do about getting me scheduled to get a new picc line put in, but it probably wouldn’t be until sometime next week.

As I sit here typing this it’s  almost eleven p.m. I’ve been vomiting all day and have no way to run my hydration fluids.  I may end up back at ER before the weekend is over for fluids. I’ll just have to wait and see how everything plays put over the next few days. I have the fluids. I just don’t have an IV access site to connect them to.

So, the waiting game continues. Some people say I’m just not aggressive enough when I call. I realize that the person on the other end of the line is working with more patients than just me. They are human and need to be treated with respect also. I’ve waited as patiently as I can. I only called and spoke with someone at the doctor’s office five times today. I wasn’t just calling to see what they were doing, I had questions about how to survive the weekend. I have a very strong dislike for weekend emergency room staff and try to avoid weekend and holiday trips to ER if at all possible. I was just trying to make sure I have the best weekend possible. So, I’ll continue to wait and pray that the weekend passes without any issues requiring immediate medical attention. They are definitely trying this patient’s patience.

Posted in Uncategorized

Making Memories

For me, March 2 is a day already filled with memories. Today is my Dad’s birthday. I’m thankful that I was blessed with good parents, who care about me. I could write a book on the things we did together as a family when I was a child. We enjoyed time spent together around the family dinner table each night and hours together camping, hiking, and cooking over an open fire. We built snowmen, went sledding, made snow angels, and had snowball fights. We fished and went swimming. There were only five years between my brothers age and my youngest sisters age. Being so close in age made it easy for us to do things as a family and we built strong bonds along the way.

Five years ago, March 2, brought a major change to everyone in our town. An EF3 tornado came through, leaving a big mess behind. The people of our community didn’t just sit down and give up. We worked together to clean up, heal, and rebuild. Our town still has scars from that night, but we are still moving forward. I feel like it’s our duty to honor the lives lost in that storm by moving forward and refusing to give up.

Today, I decided to make a few new memories. March 2 is celebrated in many schools across the country because of Dr. Seuss’ birthday. I visited the school where my niece and nephew attend and read the book, “Oh, the Places You’ll Go!” to both of their classes. I rested all week so that I would feel like going today. The trip may have worn me out, but it felt good to be able to do something nice for someone else. So many people do things to try to cheer me up and make my day a little brighter. The smiles on the children’s faces made my tiredness worth it.

For me, every day of life I’m given is a time for making memories. I’m learning to take time to stop and enjoy the small things in life. I think my chronic illnesses are teaching me not to take things for granted because we don’t know what tomorrow holds. We can’t change the past and we don’t know what the future holds, but we can enjoy the present.

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Rare Disease Day

#Myositis is a rare disease, therefore we celebrate Rare Disease Day! Get involved with MSU and Rare Disease Day. For now, you can help by changing your profile pictures on FB and Twitter. Learn how. #rarediseaseday:

The last day in February is designated in many places as “Rare Disease Day.” It’s a day to raise awareness with the general public and law makers of the many rare diseases and the struggles those living with these diseases face on a daily basis. If you or someone you know is living with a rare disease, I encourage you to speak up and help raise awareness in your community. I also encourage you to contact lawmakers and encourage funding for rare disease research. Those of us with rare diseases deserve the same care as those living with common illnesses. We must stand up for ourselves. We must continue to share our stories and encourage others to do the same.

Become a Rare Disease Advocate!:

Living with Complex Regional Pain Syndrome and Gastroparesis, I’ve gotten used to the question, “What’s that?” When I get asked that question, I take time to explain because the only way we are going to bring awareness is by sharing our stories with others.

There are approximately 7000 different types of rare diseases and disorders, 30 million people in the US are affected, approximately 10% of the US population.:

A disease is considered rare in the United States if it affects fewer than 200,000 people. However, if all people with rare diseases are grouped together, we wouldn’t be considered rare. Roughly one out of every ten people, ten percent, has been diagnosed with a rare disease. For more information about Complex Regional Pain Syndrome and other rare diseases, you can visit the National Institute of Health’s rare disease page here.

Rare Disease Day: Now I'm Rare poster

Images from Pinterest.

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Impossible

Living with chronic illness, I’m always looking for inspirational sayings… things to hang on my wall to keep me motivated and moving forward, even when I don’t feel like getting out of bed, which seems more often with each passing year. Today I came across a piece of wall art that simply stated, “Nothing is impossible. The word itself says I’m possible.” I’m not sure where this quote came from, but I have to get that print or make my own.

Living with multiple chronic illnesses, life isn’t always easy. As I’ve mentioned before, some days it’s easier to just stay in bed. However difficult things might get, I now find myself being reminded that “nothing is impossible.” It may take me longer to do certain things than it does other people and I may break simple tasks down into even smaller tasks to make them more manageable for me, but I still believe I can do anything I set my mind to.

For example, a normal person may throw their laundry in to wash. As soon as it gets washed, they put that load in the dryer and throw another one in the washer. When the dryer buzzes, they put the dry clothes away. For me, laundry is an all week event, and that’s for just one load. I wash the laundry and try to dry it the same day. I don’t like to let the clothes be wet too long because they can get a sour smell and begin to mildew. Just these two small tasks wear me out. So, the clothes usually go in a basket or are hung over something and left there for a few days. Eventually, I begin putting things away. One day I’ll work on folding clothes that go in my dresser. On another day I’ll hang up the clothes that go in the closet. Some weeks, I just don’t have any energy and I end up wearing the clothes from the pile without ever putting them away. As I lay here typing this post, there is a laundry basket in the living room with clothes in it. The basket has been sitting there for weeks and I really don’t know what is in it. It will eventually get emptied and things put away… just not today.

So, when you are tempted to look at a task and declare it impossible, step back, take a deep breath, and hear the task say, “I’m possible.” I may no longer be able to do things the way I once did, but I know that all things are possible.  I may not be able to walk or eat right now, but that doesn’t mean I’ll always be like this. I haven’t given up because I know all things are possible.

Posted in Creativity, Gastroparesis, Uncategorized, Valentine's Day

Valentine’s Day – I Love Dum Dums!

Valentine’s Day…a day known for love. Statistics show that an average of 13,290,000,000 is spent annually on Valentine’s day with the top five gift categories being candy, flowers, cards, jewelry, and dining out. It’s hard for me to imagine what a stack of 180 million Valentine’s Day cards would look like, but that’s the average number handed out each year.

Two of the top five gifts contain food. Dinner out usually isn’t a great gift for people with gastroparesis, so I suggest you ask before booking a table in advance. This year, I received a thoughtful gift from my sister. She had bought chocolates, suckers, rice crispy treats, etc. and put together goodie bags for the children at church. When she was finished, she had candy and snacks left over. As silly as it might sound coming from a 36-year-old, I’ve spent more money this year on Dum Dum suckers than I’ve spent of food. Although I had surgery a month ago to implant a gastric stimulator to stimulate my stomach, which is affected by gastroparesis, and help move food through the stomach and into the small intestines, it takes time to get it adjusted right and I still vomit most of what I eat within a short time after eating.  Suckers moisten my extra dry mouth and taste good. I suppose the sugar gives me a quick burst of energy too. It’s probably a good thing I’m not diabetic. When I leave home, I usually carry jolly ranchers, life savers, or some other hard candy. Suckers have sticks and are a little more inconvenient. Back to my story, my sister had a pile of Valentine Dum Dum suckers left over and she gave some to me. I’ve been enjoying them as a treat today. I decided that I would be creative and take a picture of the wrappers. I never realized how hard it would be to make a heart out of squares. Here is my best effort.

dscn5091

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Posted in Uncategorized

Good Grief

With a title like that, you might be expecting anything. Maybe you are a Charlie Brown fan and thought I was going to write something about the Peanuts or maybe you are grieving a loss and wonder what is good about it. I’m here today to talk about self grief.

I can see the wheels turning in some of your heads. Yes, I can se you scratching your head and asking, “What?” In our world, grief is often defined as a deep sorrow caused by one’s death. Given that definition, one might be tempted to argue that self grief is impossible because you cannot mourn your own death. For purposes of this post, we are going to define grief as a deep sorrow caused by loss.

There are many things in life that can be lost. You can lose your family member, your best friend, your house, your car, your job, your spouse, your health, your phone, your keys… I think you get the point. The list of things you can lose is nearly endless. Somethings we think are lost, but we quickly find them and realize they were just misplaced… keys… phone…tv remote. Other things are lost never to be found. How we deal with these losses varies from person to person.

Over the years, I’ve grieved the loss of several close family members. However, I just recently realized I’ve been grieving the loss of myself, without even realizing it. When diagnosed with CRPS in 1996 and gastroparesis two years ago, I didn’t understand what was happening to me. With CRPS, I was a happy healthy teenager. I was hiking, playing volleyball, and dancing one day. Then, suddenly I was in pain and it all came to an end. Gastroparesis was a little more subtle. I started out with not being able to eat meats. Slowly other foods were added to the list I couldn’t tolerate until I reached the point where I was vomiting everything I ate.

According to my research, grief counselors typically list five stages of grief: denial, anger, bargaining, depression, and grief. Everyone may not go through all these stages or they might go through them in a different order. Looking back, I can clearly see where I’ve gone through all these stages.

I definitely started with denial. I put on a smiley face and tried to pretend nothing had changed. When asked how I was, I told everyone I was okay, even though I really wasn’t. I guess it was just easier to say and pretend everything was okay than to face the fact that my pain was being caused by an incurable chronic illness known as CRPS. With gastroparesis, looking back, the denial phase isn’t as obvious to me. I couldn’t ignore or hide the fact that I was vomiting every time I ate and it was causing me to shed pounds really fast. I’m sure there was a period of denial, I just can’t see it.

Then, along came anger. At the time I was facing it, I didn’t really know why I was angry. I was just angry. It seemed as though even the most simple things made me angry. It felt as though I was angry at everyone and everything. Looking back, I realize what I was actually angry at was my situation. Due to my chronic illness, my life had quickly become a mess and I felt as though I had no control. I was angry that my life had changed. I was angry that I could no longer do the things I once enjoyed. I was angry because I didn’t want to adapt to my new life.

Bargaining… did I ever bargain. I bargained with myself and I bargained with God. I made promises that if this happened I would do that. I think this stage and anger overlapped for me. I found myself calling out to God in anger and asking why? Why did I have to be in pain? What did I do? Why does my life have to be this way?

After a while, depression began to set in. My new life wasn’t accepted by many. I was no longer the person I used to be and my friends began to disappear one by one, until it seemed as though I didn’t have any friends. For me, anger and depression also went hand in hand. My anger was often followed by crying and wanting to shut myself up in a dark room, alone away from the rest of the world. I just needed alone time to sort through my emotions, my feelings. While facing depression, I denied being depressed and tried to tell people I was fine, but the best decision I ever made was to see a psychologist.

Acceptance. This is a fairly new stage for me. I only came to accept my chronic illnesses recently. I’ve realized that even though my life seems like it’s been tossed in a bag and shaken up at times, it’s still my life and I have to make the most of it. I’ve made that choice. I’ve realized my life is a work in progress. I must choose to make the most of even the smallest accomplishment and tiniest moments of happiness. Some days just getting out of bed is like climbing a mountain. On those days, I have to remind myself that I’ve accomplished something big, just by getting up. Other days, I may walk six feet with my walker or go several hours without vomiting. While these may seem like baby steps to the healthy person, they are giant leaps for those of us with chronic illness.

Looking back, I can see where I grieved losing myself. Looking forward, I know some of these steps may come back. I’m sure there’s going to be days that I get angry because my illnesses keep me from being able to do things I really want to do. However, I now see how it all comes together in the end. If you are grieving yourself because of a chronic illnesses, I assure you that your feelings, whether it be denial, anger, bargaining, depression, or acceptance, are normal. I also encourage you to join a support group. Meeting people with similar struggles, who seem to truly understand what I am going through, has really helped me accept the situation I am in. And remember that even in your darkest moments, when you feel like no one cares, there is someone out there who needs you and loves you.

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Posted in Uncategorized

Sometimes Life Gets Messy

It’s been four days since my last post. The past four days have been full of trials. I had surgery 19 days ago to revise my gastric stimulator. For those who haven’t been following my blog, I have gastroparesis. My stomach does not digest food and push it into my small intestines the way it is supposed to. Instead, my food sits there and I vomit it back up. My previous stimulator had raised my stomach’s ability to empty from 30% to 70%. That’s still not perfect, but at least I was beginning to be able to eat again. However, the gastric stimulator somehow started shocking my diaphragm, the muscle that controls breathing, and was causing me shoulder and chest pain, along with breathing issues that were causing me to be dizzy a lot. So, the doctor had to turn it off a month or two ago. This time, they went in and removed the lead wires from the front stomach wall and placed new ones in the back stomach wall. Since they put the wires in a new location, they had to turn the stimulator battery back down low and slowly start turning it back up until they find the best setting for me. Since surgery, I’ve not been able to hold anything down. I’m trying simple things like chicken broth, applesauce, jello, and Gatorade, but I’m still vomiting. As you might imagine, I’ve been very tired because I’m not getting any energy from food. I’m surviving though. I spend my waking hours playing online games and reading my Bible. I’ve tried knitting, but I’m having horrible hand cramps, which makes that difficult.

I recently finished a month of self-care journaling and have started a February project. This month my friends at The Mighty have asked me to focus on happiness. Today, although I may be tired and I may be vomiting, I heard something that made me really happy. Now for those of you that don’t have gastroparesis, this may sound crazy, but what I heard today was my stomach growl. I can’t remember the last time I heard my stomach growl. With my stomach not emptying, I don’t get hungry and I rarely hear it make any noise. My home care nurse listens with a stethoscope and says I have the quietest stomach/abdomen she has ever listened to. The fact that I heard my stomach growling gives me hope that even though the stimulator is turned down low and I’m still vomiting, maybe it’s beginning to help and maybe my vomiting is going to slow down. Maybe they won’t have to turn it up as high in the new location and I won’t have to get the battery replaced as often.

Not only have I been recovering from surgery, I also had to deal with a stopped up picc line. Five days after surgery, I had to go to ER to see if they could get my picc line to flush so I could get IV fluids. Thankfully, they were able to put some medicine in and get it opened up.

Yes, life gets messy at times. We are faced with unexpected challenges. We get tired. We wonder how we are going to get through it. However, there’s always tomorrow to look forward to.  Some days are better and some days are worse. We just have to keep moving forward.

You keep putting one foot in front of the other, and then one day you look back and you've climbed a mountain. Picture Quotes.
Note: Image copied from Pinterest. If you own this image and don’t want me to use it on my blog send me a message and I’ll remove it.
Posted in Uncategorized

Lost and Found

I’ll go ahead and list both of the thirty-day journaling challenge prompts for today, but I’m choosing to only do the creative prompt today. I had surgery on Monday to revise my Medtronic Enterra gastric stimulator and today has been a challenging day. Along with the soreness from surgery, I’ve been dealing with a migraine today. I really don’t feel like making up an argument. I love writing fictitious or made up stories though, so I’m going to do the creative prompt.

Personal Prompt: Write an argument between you and someone else, and include how it can end on a constructive, if not positive, note.

Creative Prompt: You are walking down a street and you find a shopping bag full of… Continue the story.

Note: This is a made up story…it is not true! All events and people described in this story are fictitious. Any similarity to any event or person is coincidental.

The Mysterious Shopping Bag

I had just pulled my car into a parking spot, dropped some money into the parking meter, and started walking down the street, when I passed an elderly gentleman dressed in a dark grey suit and wearing a top hat. He had just left the bus stop and I noticed a shopping bag sitting there. I quickly spoke up, “Sir, I believe you may have left your shopping bag.”

Sitting next to the wooden bench, where people waited for the next bus, sat a small reusable shopping bag. The bag was zipped closed. It appeared to be a thermal bag used for keeping things hot or cold.  It was a light blue color with flowers on it. The flowers looked like they may have been bright vivid colors at some point, but had faded from years of use.

The man stopped and glanced back to see what I was talking about, “Ma’am, that’s not mine, it was there when I climbed off the bus.”

Concerned that someone had left behind something of importance, I asked, “Sir, was anyone waiting to board the bus when you climbed off?”

“Why yes, a young woman with two young children was waiting to board the bus. The young lady was trying to calm a crying baby in her arms while holding tightly to a little boys hand as she boarded the bus.”

I was interested in finding out more, so that I might be able to help reunite the shopping bad and it’s owner.  I stated, “Maybe this is her bag.” Then I went on to ask the gentleman, “Do you remember what she looked like?”

Hurriedly the man explained to me, “Ma’am, I would love to help you solve this mystery and return the bag to its rightful owner, but I’m kind of in a hurry. You see my daughter is getting married today. I’ve had today all planned out in my mind for weeks, but when I went out to my car this morning, it would not start. I hurried to the nearest bus stop a mile from my house and caught the bus into town. If I don’t go now, I’m going to be late.”

I could see the concern in the man’s eyes. He thought he was going to be late for his daughter’s wedding. “Sir, I understand. Where are you headed?”

“She’s getting married at the small country church on Bluebell Street at 2:30 this afternoon. I really must go now.”

I thought about how proud this man must have been getting ready to walk his daughter down the aisle. I knew the church he was headed to and walking, he was going to barely make it there in time. Knowing how stressed he must be, I said, “Sir, my car is parked right there,” as I pointed to my car only feet from where we were standing, “I’m not in a hurry, I was just going to the craft shop to pick up a few items. Would you let me drive you over to the church?”

A smile came over the gentleman’s face as he replied, “Ma’am that’s very generous, but I’m a stranger and I couldn’t ask you to go out of your way to give me a ride. Thanks for offering to help.” With that said, the man took off walking down the street in hopes of making it to his daughter’s wedding on time.

My car just happened to be parked in the direction the man was walking. I quickly followed him, opened my car door, and said, “Sir, you may not have asked, but I know how important it is for a Daddy to walk his little girl down the aisle. I’m going to make sure you get there on time.”

A small tear slipped from the gentleman’s eye as he climbed into the car. The church was only about a seven minute drive away. I wasn’t in any hurry. There was no reason I couldn’t help this gentleman out. On the way there, the man kept thanking me for giving him a ride. He explained that his wife had helped his daughter with decorating the church the night before and spent the night in town at their daughter’s apartment. He knew everyone was at the church getting ready and he didn’t want to be a bother, so when his car wouldn’t start he had hurried to catch the bus into town. He said if he had called the church someone would have driven out to give him a ride, but it was quicker to catch the bus that was already there than to wait for someone to drive out to pick him up. They were not expecting him to arrive for another twenty minutes, so he didn’t see any reason to call ahead and cause his daughter to stress over his car not starting. He said, “It’s her special day and I didn’t want her to have to worry over whether I am going to be on time to walk her down the aisle.”

As I listened to the gentleman speak of his wife and daughter, I could sense the love he had for his family. As I pulled my car into the church parking area, I looked at the gentleman and said, “I pray your daughter and her husband enjoy many happy years together.” He offered to pay me for driving him there, but I refused. I pulled out of the parking lot and left. I felt warm inside knowing I had helped make someone’s day a little easier.

Now, I needed to pick up the yarn I needed from the craft store and go home and get to work on the baby blanket I was going to make for a friend. I again pulled into my parking spot, dropped some money in the parking meter, and began to walk down the street to the craft shop. Just as I started to pass the bus stop, the shopping bag caught my eye. I really needed to get to the store and get home, but that bag needed to be taken care of also.

I knew the bag wasn’t mine. Anything could be inside the bag, so I didn’t think I should open it. I didn’t want to be accused of stealing the bag either, so I knew I couldn’t move it. Thankfully, the bus stop was located in front of city hall. The local police station was located on the first floor of the city hall building, so I didn’t have to go far for help. I stepped inside the door and reported that there was a shopping bag sitting unattended at the bus stop.

Since I was the one to report the bag, the police needed some information from me. They handed me some papers to fill out. I began filling in the blanks with my name, address, phone number… the usual stuff.  Meanwhile, a group of officers had went out to investigate. Not knowing what was inside the bag, the police had to mark the area off until they had determined what was in the shopping bag. They opened the bag and declared the area safe.

As the officers came back into the office, I glanced up from the paperwork I was filling out and noticed they had brought the shopping bag inside with them. The paper I was filling out asked where I had found the missing item I was turning in. That was easy, I had found it at the bus stop in front of city hall. The paper also asked for a description of what I had found. All I knew was that I had seen a light blue shopping bag, so I asked the officer at the desk if that was what I was supposed to put. He informed me that all they really needed from me was my name and contact information in case they had questions later on.  He took the paper and told me I was free to go.

I left the police station, went to the craft store, picked out my yarn, bought it, and went home. As I sat at home knitting a blue and green chevron patterned baby blanket for the baby my friend had recently adopted, I began thinking about my day. I thought about the gentleman I had met on the street. As I thought of him, I could still see the joy in his eyes as he spoke of his daughter’s wedding. I thought of the mysterious shopping bag, I had no idea what was inside it, but I wondered if it would ever make it back to its owner. I had wanted to ask the officer what was in the bag, but didn’t figure they would tell me because it really wasn’t any of my business, so I hadn’t asked. I thought about the baby I was knitting the blanket for. His story was as much a mystery to me as the contents of the bag.

For the next few weeks, I passed a lot of time with my knitting needles, working on that blanket. Each time I picked it up to work on it, I thought of the gentleman I had met the day I went to buy the yarn and that always caused me to think of the mystery of the well-worn pale blue flowered shopping bag.

Months passed. I had finished the baby blanket and given it to my friend for her baby. I went out one morning to check my mailbox and inside I found an envelope from the local police station. When I opened the envelope, there were two letters inside. The first letter was from the chief of police thanking me for reporting the abandoned shopping bag I had noticed at the bus stop. He explained that they had been able to return the bag to the woman it belonged to. The second letter was from the woman who had lost the bag. She explained that she had taken the bus into town that day because she needed to take her six month old baby to the doctor. The baby had been running a high fever all night and she had been up all night taking care of her. She couldn’t find anyone to watch her three-year old son, so she had taken him to town with her. When she got home, she realized she had left her shopping bag somewhere, but she wasn’t sure where. So that she didn’t have so much to hold on to, she had dropped everything  into that one bag. I had been correct, the bag was an insulated thermal shopping bag used to keep things either hot or cold. She had carried that bag because she didn’t know how long she would be out and she needed to keep the baby’s formula and her son’s sippy cups of milk and juice cold.

Thanks to me reporting the missing bag, the police had been able to return the mysterious shopping bag to its rightful owner and the mystery of what was inside the shopping bag was no longer a mystery. As I was walking down the street, I had found a shopping bag that contained a woman’s purse, her young son’s cup of milk and cup of juice, her baby’s bottle and formula, and the medicine the doctor had just prescribed for the sick baby. In the letter, the lady kept thanking me for turning the bag in at the police station. She said the only thing in the bag she was really concerned about was the baby’s medicine. The baby had needed the medicine to help it get well. Once again, I got that warm feeling in my heart… you know… the one you get when you’ve helped make someone’s day a little easier.

I thought I was just making a quick trip to the store that day to buy some yarn, but I ended up being in just the right place at just the right time and was able to help others who just happened to cross my path that day.

The end.