What’s My Lucky Number?


What’s my lucky number? I wondered as I walked in the Hospital For Special Surgery for procedure number 27.

I was greeted like I had walked into the fictional bar “Cheers.” Nurses and doctors shouted my name as I made my way to curtain number four. Waiting for me there were gown, cap, grippy socks and a chance at greater pain relief.

The only downside to my homecoming were repeated requests for me to take a pregnancy test. Three times I nicely replied that a wasn’t necessary. The fourth time I choked back tears and said I can’t get pregnant. It hasn’t been possible for me; that’s when the nurses finally got it.

During my hour long wait, I swallowed Ativan. It calmed my fears about the torture I was going to endure while strapped to a table with my face in a hole and my naked butt and back exposed to a room full of people, many who don’t ever introduce themselves.

When I stepped into the operating room, my mind was quiet. I prayed and focused on what was waiting for me when the procedure was over like possibly walking longer without my cane, dancing and slipping on a pair of high heels for the first time in three years. The sight of radiation suits on the doctors and nurses, cold rush from the iodine cleaning my back, burning from the lidocaine coating my nerves and the turns of the table to provide better fluoroscope/X-Ray images didn’t take me out of the meditative state I’d achieved.

Before I knew it I was in recovery dealing with an allergic reaction, weakness and tingling in my leg and foot, and soreness in my lower back. But, I was determined to go home to start healing. So I took Benadryl, waited an hour and walked out of the building using my cane with my mother hopefully that my future steps will be easier and less painful.

#spoonies #backpain #chronicpain #chronicillness #autoimmunedisease #invisibleillness #hss #igg4 #infertility #meditation


Live Today, Rest Tomorrow


Remission doesn’t stop the pain from the prior damage from my autoimmune disease from occasionally threatening my Independence. Saturday, I could barely move. Swelling in the vertebrae in the top of my spine near the end of my neck made it difficult to move, threatening my planned birthday trip with my “stepson.” Every movement sent an electrical shock through my spine and across my shoulders. My limbs tingled and my head was throbbed. But, I refused to let my condition stop me. I swallowed pain meds every four hours, iced, took a nap and I rose for our drive to Pennsylvania nearly three hours off schedule. But, I was present.

I couldn’t do any of the rides at Kalahari the first day. However, I could float in an inner tube beside my family. Then, I watched from a chair as they climbed stairs to go on ride after ride. I was embarrassed and depressed that I was sidelined. So, just before we decided to head to our room for the night I dragged my badly battered body up five flights of stairs to a raft ride. The whole way I wished there was an elevator or some other way for a disabled person like me to get to the top of the stairs but I made it. We laughed, we screamed and we made a new memory; that was worth the pain that kept me up until nearly five in the morning.

It will take me days to recover from just walking, climbing, swimming and doing basic things with my loved ones. I am frail. But, I am also fierce and unflinching. I determined not to fail myself or my family. And, my faith tells me I won’t. So, tomorrow I rest and today I live.

#chronicpain #noexcuses #spoonie #chronicillness #invisibleillness #autoimmunedisease #backpain #disability #kahlahari #poconos

My Suffering Is Not In Vain


I know for sure my suffering is not in vain. I used my experience to help someone after I was helped by a stranger. I got off the nj transit train from nj to NYC following an hour long trek caused by the bombing delay. I Exited onto slick, wet streets with my cane. An Amtrak employee waiting for a cab with his own cane and boot talked to me about the pain of navigating the city while handicapped then he told me to take his cab bc ladies go first and I had some where to be. Got to the HSS for a cervical nerve block and an older lady was there all alone and trembling. She was getting radio frequency ablation in her lumbar region and was scared. She heard the nurses greet me and realized I’d be there. She asked me question and I explained id had it before, we went over the procedure and I encouraged her to take the sedative. I calmed her until we both went into our operating rooms. When we came out she told me I was a friend to her. She had a driver, housekeeper and assistant but no one to pick her up. I chatted with her until my fiancé came to get me. She had money I’ve never known but i had what was really important: loved ones to care for me. I hope, for a time, she did too. #backpain #autoimmunedisease #chronicillness #randomactsofkindness

Love Amid Lawlessness Cured Me


Geography has haunted me for two weeks straight: Louisiana, Minnesota, Texas, France and Turkey. Another place meant another tragedy to cover at work; another slew of funerals to write about with dignity and respect. I thought I was doing it all with ease until Friday night I passed out in the middle of texting with my neighbor. When I opened my eyes on Saturday morning to wake my fiancé, my legs were weak, my vision was blurry and my brain felt like it was throbbing.

I laid down and put on my sleep mask. I took several deep breaths as I listened to my fiancé get ready for work. I felt calmer although my whole body had stiffened so much the cervical area of my spine was so stiff I could barely lift my head.

I rolled over and turned on the tv. As the news headlines flashed across the screen, the events I’d written about flashed through my head. I could feel my stress level rising. At the same time, my pain increased. This was the moment I realized my stressful work condition may actually be making me sicker.

I tried to distance thoughts by dragging myself through the house to collect the trash for disposal, start the laundry, and pick up anything that wasn’t in its place. Once that was done and one small errand was run, I headed to the mailbox. By then, I felt hot and faint. So, I snatched everything out and headed inside.

I collapsed on to the bed, swallowed my morning dose of medication, an assortment of nine pills, and began going through the mail. A giant envelope stood out. The return address indicated it was from my friend Karen.

I poured the contents onto the comforter beside me. The first thing I saw was a card drawn by her children that said, “our mommy loves you.” Tears welled in my eyes and a broad smile crossed my lips. Then, I saw a yellow post it. It was covering a bracelet called warrior. The card attached read: “remember that true glory is rising every time you fall… You are so strong, so fearless, so powerful. You are a warrior, stronger than you have ever been.” I sobbed as I put it on and read another card letting me know I was in her prayers.

Silently, I thought to myself I was too blessed to be stressed by work or anything else. I swear, instantly my body felt lighter and my pain decreased. I relaxed back onto my pillow as I listened to Yolanda Adams sing, “Sometimes life can place a stumbling block in your way but you’re gotta keep the faith, bring what’s deep inside your heart yeah your heart to the light and never give up. Don’t ever give up on you. No don’t give up.” I sang along and drifted off to sleep knowing I can never give up because I have faith, love and friendship in my life to lift me up when I’m down.

I May Be A Cheap Date But Don’t Pity Me


As I clutched my hip while climbing the stairs to NJ Transit, a woman said she hoped I feel better then she shook her head and looked me up and down. I could hear the pity clouding her words and see it in her face. But, I smiled anyway and thanked her, knowing my life, even with its challenges is blessed.

Within an hour, I had more proof that was true. My regular coffee guy welcomed me back to work, one week after my latest back procedure, by not charging me for my morning meal. Moments later, as I got to the door to my office with a bag in one hand and my cane in the other, the security guard rushed over to open it, moved the sign and buzzed me in. Just then, my co-worker, Brian, held the elevator and let me walk in first. As I stepped foot onto my floor, I received a cheerful welcome like I the kind given to a soldier who has returned home from war.

It appeared nothing there had changed but I had. I was already tired and hurt. The only thing that distracted me from my misery was that my co-worked John saved me from the task of buying my weekly candy stash by doing it for me and leaving it my drawer. Four people, Alex, Jay, Alexa and Kim immediately offered to help me with whatever I might need. All of this was before 10 am.

By lunchtime offers poured in to get my meal. Rather than accept, I took a short walk. The burning in my hip and numbness in my feet started to signal I’d come back to work too soon. As I leaned, hunched over my desk contemplating my poor decision making, Jay came over with a surprise; a bag containing two ice packs from his home that he’d give and retrieved during lunch.

“I’m not usually a cheap date,” I said. “But, I’m floored. These are better than any flowers, candy or card I’d ever seen.”

For the rest of the day, I sat with the ice on my back, blissfully free of any additional pain. I worked alongside my co-workers, nearly forgetting how my condition had almost made me give in.

When I rose at the end of the day to go home, my co-worker Mary came over to check on me; that’s when she learned I was running to the doctor. She stopped and reached to give me the money to take a cab there so I wouldn’t have to walk. Brian overheard and offered to give a ride any time I felt I couldn’t make it on my own. Of course, I refused the cash and the ride but my heart was bursting with joy. Mary didn’t give in. She was determined to aid me so she instructed Jim, a reporter and co-worker, to make sure I made it safely to the train.

I leisurely walked over to the number one train. I was oblivious to the sign that told me one was coming as I cautiously went down the stairs. As I got through the turnstile I heard the bell, telling me the doors were about to close. I looked up and good-looking stranger had his foot in the door. I waved to tell him to release it but he didn’t. He stuck his arm out and told me it was okay. I turned to thank him and he said it wasn’t necessary.

“It’s the right thing to do and I hope someone would do it for me,” he said.

I honestly didn’t know if they would but I know in my life when I am weak those around me carry me. The see my needs and meet them without being asked or requiring anything in return. I have more help than most people and that’s certainly nothing to pity.

I Am My Neighbor’s Keeper


For the first time in six days, tears rolled down my cheeks not from the pain from my back procedure but from a selfless act of kindness. My neighbor Monica noticed me carrying a bag earlier in the day and brought it inside for me then she asked how i’d been healing. I told her sleeping through the night or for more than four hours has been impossible bc I need ice packs to soothe my nerves. Three hours later she asked me to meet her at my front door. This device was in her hand. It will allow me to sleep through the night with constant cool and return to work. My suffering is eased because someone cared enough to see the obstacle in my way and moved it. #blessed #backpain #chronicillness #randomactsofkindness