Sweet Reminder Of The Power Of Small Gestures

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Today is refill Friday; the day I add candy bags to the bucket on my desk for my co-workers. So, that meant I had to I get out of bed fifteen minutes early despite joint point, nausea and spotty sleep. I slicked my hair back in a ponytail (it’s shedding again due to hormonal issues) and I slid into what used to be tight Capri pants (now loose due to uncontrolled weight loss). Remarkably, the NJ Transit 8:59 train got into Penn Station on time. Then, I got cut off at the stairs from the tracks to the concourse by able bodied people who never see not care about my cane. I shot a dirty look and got in line. I limped up to the first floor then made my way over to the store. I was in and out in five minutes and got a discount.

Suddenly, I came to a dead stop. A little person was clearing a space for his double amputee wife’s wheelchair near the number one train. The crush of people barely stopped so the man began to shout. His frustration struck a chord with me so I gestured for people to stop and they did. The awkward a smiles we got because of our appearance didn’t bother me. I took my candy and went onto work.
An hour later, a co-worker delayed going home to do me a favor. I got a doctor’s appointment easily and I heard from a friend who told me the other day that if he won the lottery he’d use some of the money to help me. I didn’t think the day could get better until o was greeted with this after lunch. It’s Hi in tootsie rolls; a sweet message to remind me that the smallest gesture can add so much joy to a day. #wabc #nyc #randomactsofkindness #disability #chronicillness #chronicpain #autoimmunedisease #igg4 #njtransit #pennstation

Battling Back From The Brink

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Nothing makes you question how you can go on more than the threat of losing a parent. And, last year my father, the towering figure who saved me more times than I can count, was battling for his survival.

Every time I saw my mother’s cell phone number on my phone my hands would shake, my anxiety would rise and my heart would race. I feared she might say he was gone.

Each seizure damaged his brilliant mind and stole some of his memory. He wasted away slowly; losing weight at a frightening pace because he couldn’t eat. We were helpless. The worst part is that doctors initially couldn’t figure out what was wrong. Luckily, I’d learned from my battle to find the correct diagnosis for the autoimmune disease that plagues me, that you never surrender and never stop looking for answers. So, we didn’t.

My father got a stent to remove a blood clot in his heart, fixed an aneurysm, and lives with heart arrhythmia and persistent clots that saps his energy and make it hard for him to walk.

Still, my father has battled back and he’s still here. He keeps moving even if it’s with a cane or a wheelchair. He takes his medication and he keeps following up with doctors. My father keeps striving to add more years to the 50 he’s already spent with his wife, my mother.

I realize no matter how old I get I still want my daddy around. I know some day he will leave but I pray it’s not anytime soon.

Happy Birthday, dad! I love you! #chronicpain #chronicillness #disability #family #happybirthday #father #autoimmunedisease #aneurysm #bloodclot #misdiagnosis #lossofaparent #seizure

Fear of the Unknown

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6:35 pm I walked out of work and realized I couldn’t read the Kiehl’s store sign across the street. It was odd because I have 20/20 vision; one of the few things my autoimmune condition doesn’t usually effect. 

I shook my head, wiped my eyes and put pressure on the veins inside my eye sockets in an effort to clear my vision before I got to the number one train on Manhattan’s Upper West Side.   

For a second, I thought that I might get dizzy and fall onto the tracks. So I took a few steps back from the edge and inhaled deeply a few times. I waited for the train then took it to Penn Station. 

I boarded my NJ Transit train and slumped into a seat. By then, I was weak, shaky and my eyesight was even cloudier. 

I could barely see the gap between the train and the platform when I got off at Newark Penn Station. Every step down the stairs was extremely cautious; every block home looked like a tunnel. When I finally got home, I collapsed on my bed. 

At 5 am, a stabbing pain in the left side of my head woke me from my sleep. I I took pain meds but nothing helped.  So, I tossed and turned in pain until 9 am.

By then, I was up and out, waiting to hear of I was having my third stroke. Sitting there alone, I wondered how I’d get home or care for myself if my condition worsened. 

Thankfully, I didn’t have another TIA. Central nervous system issues caused the muscle contractions and sharp pains in my head, neck and shoulders that were unbearable when combined with my usual knee and lower back pain. 

Now, I’m checking my blood pressure hourly to look for sudden spikes. I’m also taking Fioricet and Tramadol every four hours. But, I have no medicine for the concern that fills my heart because my body is so unpredictable. 

A Love Letter To My M.F.F. (Mother and Friend Forever)

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I’m her first born, her baby girl, her only daughter and I am the sickly one. My twenties and thirties were a disaster. The autoimmune condition that frequently tortures me nearly claimed my life on several occasions. Each time, my mother rushed to my side and nursed me back to health. I felt guilty. I thought I was a burden. But to her, she was simply being a mother to me; a job that would never end. 

Thankfully, over the last year my medical issues have lessened, giving mother and I the ability to just enjoy together. Recently, we chatted as we sat across from each other while eating a lunch after a morning volunteering together. We talked candidly about our relationship woes, difficulty with the children and our medical problems. No topic was off limits. No judgment was passed. We simply exchanged advice, observations and offered support like two girlfriends would do.  

As we walked back towards my car, the lyrics to a song popped into my head:  

“I’ll always love my mama

She’s my favorite girl

You only get one, you only get one, yeah

I’ll always love my mama

She brought me in this world”

I realized the woman beside me taught me how to be a caregiver, to give back, to be a good partner and to pray when all else fails.  She wasn’t just my mother, she was and is my friend. She’s my M. F. F. (Mother and friend forever)

#mothersday #family #love #autoimmunedisease #caregiver #friends 

Why Does Congress Think It’s Okay That I Die?

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I may only have two days left before I am handed a death sentence. House Speaker Paul Ryan and President Trump are pushing a new healthcare bill that would lead to my death or bankruptcy. You see, I have a pre-existing condition. Without the protections from the Affordable Care Act, buying, obtaining or keeping health insurance will, once again, be nearly impossible for me. Why don’t I deserve the opportunity to fight for my life?

I’m not, nor have I ever, looked for others to pay my medical bills. In fact, in the last 14 years I’ve paid $168,000 out of pocket for my care; not to mention the lost wages from my job. Yet, I’ve held down a full-time job, paid my taxes and voted in elections. I’ve been a good American. Why should I, as a taxpayer, have to fight for medical coverage when it is given to the people who represent us in Congress?

I am being asked to choose between keeping myself alive or losing everything I’ve worked hard to maintain because I was born with a condition that has no cure. Why is my life so disposable? How can confessional leaders vote in favor of a plan that endangers their most vulnerable constituents?

I’m not sure whether those who are determined to repeal and replaced so-called Obamcare believe this is the right thing to do for all Americans. I think they’re using this measure to settle a political score. Should human life  be treated like a political pawn or the previous gift that it is? Why Is no one considering my right to life?

I certain don’t believe those who penned the constitution, which guarantees the right to life, liberty and the pursuit of happiness, believed these rights were solely dependent on wealth. Clearly, our confessional leaders do. Without guarantees for pre-existing conditions will only the wealthy will survive medical trials? Is that the America they really want?

#paulryan #obamacare #Kimmel #Trump #PresidentTrump #Congress #ACA #ChronicIllness #AutoImmuneDisease #Igg4 #ChronicPain  #RightToLife #Healthcare

 

I’ll never let my fear of dying (or anything else) threaten my dreams again

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I don’t like to admit that I’m afraid of what my autoimmune condition, igg4 related systemic disease, will do to me. But, the truth is I have often thought that complications from it could cut my life short.  I usually bury the worry using my faith or denial. However, it took control off me in July 2014 and nearly ruined my dreams.

Six months after finishing my memoir, Misdiagnosed: The Search for Dr. House, I was well on my way to publication. I’d gotten a foreword from late comedian Bernie Mac’s widow Rhonda McCullough. I’d gotten reviews from three bestselling authors: Wes Moore, Richard Cohen and Marya Hornbacher. I’d also received three magazine reviews: Publisher’s Weekly, Kirkus Reviews and IndieReader. And, I’d gone over the pages wit an editor from She Writes Press and my literary agent at Serendipity Literary. Then, I learned that I had to have a second stomach repair operation, a Nissen fundoplication redo.  The news rocked me to my core because I’d already endured six lymphoma related surgical biopsies and numerous other procedures in a two year period. My body was tired and so was my soul. I feared I wouldn’t survive.

I prayed about what to do with my book. I remember thinking that I should stay the course. But, I ignored my internal voice. I wrote to my agent and cancelled my contract, abandoned the foreword and decided to self-publish.

My book got lost in the shuffle of the thousands of other self-published titles. The mediocre cover using a stock image didn’t get it noticed.  And, I didn’t have the money or energy to promote it.

I’d rushed it out because I was afraid that if I died no one would ever see it or be helped by story. Yet, by not giving my book the polish and publicity it deserved, I’d failed anyway.

I thought I had no choice but to live with my terrible decision to hurry Misdiagnosed: The Search for Dr. House to the marketplace. Then, I saw a Publisher’s Weekly Booklife contest offering a free book cover redesign.  I wondered, can I salvage my dream of being a successful writer or at least reaching more people with a new look?  I decided to enter the contest.

I couldn’t believe it but I was selected. My book cover was reimagined by a talented artist at Tugboat Design. It was completed the way it should have been from the beginning. I was inspired to reedit the pages to remove some explicit content that readers thought obscured the book’s central point. And, I added the foreword back in. I also made sure buyers could get the book at stores, libraries and online in every form by setting it up on Amazon, Smashwords, and IngramSpark.

Now I have the memoir I wanted. On April 24, 2017 a new edition of Misdiagnosed: The Search for Dr. House is released. I vow that no matter what medical trials I face in the future, I will pursue all my dreams by relying on faith not fear; that way I won’t have any regrets.

P.S. Share this post with those who love a good book, are in need of inspiration, or need a good kick in the butt to stop making excuses and live. If you’ve already read it, please review it on amazon, pass your copy along or drop me a line.

 

#igg4 #autoimmune disease #chronicillness #chronicpain #memoir #death   #fear #BernieMac #RhondaMcCullough #SerendipityLiterary #SheWritesPress #PublishersWeekly #KirkusReviews #IndieReader #WesMoore #RichardCohen #MaryaHornbacher #Misdiagnosis #BookLife

Luck of the Irish

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I wore my green sweater to celebrate St. Patrick’s yesterday, which may have seemed odd because I’m black. But, I’m engaged to an Irishman and I couldn’t be prouder.

Four years ago, when my fiancé proposed he presented me with a claddagh ring symbolizing love, loyalty and friendship and that’s what he’s shown me the last six years. He stood by me through multiple surgeries, six cancer scares, infertility and the financial strain of chronic illness. We’ve endured more than some people have in a lifetime yet we’re still holding on to each other while we co-parenting his son.
Some people have asked why we haven’t walked down the aisle yet. I, generally, feel no need to answer but yesterday I thought about it. The only thing we haven’t done is sign a piece of paper with the state. We’ve exchanged vows to each other in the presence of God. We both wear our rings and honor the commitments that come with it. But, we deserve a party to celebrate all that we are to each other and all that we’ve overcome with our family and friends.
We’ve saved and been forced to spend the money for a wedding on my medical needs over and over again. Yet, I’m confident that the luck of the Irish will be upon us when our “big day” finally arrives. Until then, I think of the closing line from Irish blessing my fiancé gave me the day we got engaged, “until we meet again may God hold you in the hollow of his hand.”

#chronicpain #autoimmunedisease #irish #stpatricksday #chronicillness #marriage #relationships #faith🙏