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#LifeandChronicIllness

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“Dare to dream! If you did not have the capability to make your wildest wishes come true, your mind would not have the capacity to conjure such ideas in the first place. There is no limitation on what you can potentially achieve, except for the limitation you choose to impose on your own imagination. What you believe to be possible will always come to pass – to the extent that you deem it possible. It really is as simple as that.”
― Anthon St. Maarten

It seems like a tired old story, doesn’t it? I mean, really, how many people are blogging about their illness or how they are managing it? Is it some, a lot, or too many? Hmm. Perhaps that means there are a lot of sick people out there and they need to be heard in one way or another.

Each person has some kind of tether attached to them, whether it be an abusive relationship, family problems or stress. Whether that stress is overwork or the actual job causing the stress, or simply the pressure of being the penultimate person in life, can find themselves in a situation where their body shouts ENOUGH! If that happens, when that happens, they may find themselves with a Chronic Illness.

Our bodies are incredible organisms which can do remarkable things. We have sent our bodies to the moon and back. We have climbed the highest mountain on Earth, Mount Everest (8,848m) in the Himalayas. We have sent them down into the deepest parts of the ocean. The Challenger Deep in the Marianna Trench was first explored by Jacques Piccard and Don Walsh in the Trieste bathyscaphe in 1960. They reached a depth of 10,916 meters. We can train to become incredible athletes and we can bring life into the world. We can, unfortunately take life out of the world also in too many wars.

#Life #ChronicIllness

image from http://www.petera.se The inimitable Mount Everest

We ask our bodies each and every day to do things they may not yet have evolved enough to do, but the pace of technological advancement means we need to force our bodies to do more to keep up. We have even “beaten” to a smaller or lesser degree most of the illnesses which have killed us in the past. The problem is, we have also created a host of new ones to take their place, some by accident and some by design.

Each and every action we ask our bodies and our minds to do can lead to the organism’s failure. It may lead to our body yelling ENOUGH! If this happens, or when this happens, it may be a minor or major catastrophe.

It may be as simple as an overwhelming fatigue which can be put to rights by a good long vacation.

It may be a ‘breakdown’ which requires much longer away from work to address the issues.

It may also be an insidious invader which slowly sucks the life out of you until it is impossible to ignore. At that point you have your “Chronic Illness”.

Unfortunately there are far too many people who, when faced with a spouse, family member, friend or co-worker with a chronic illness cannot cope with even acknowledging human frailty. The only way I can describe it is that they cannot face their own possible frailty, or their own possible mortality.

#Life #ChronicIllness

image from halsamt.wordpress.com

I have seen and worked with people who have turned and walked away from loved ones because they cannot deal with illness. Ultimately, their inability to deal with the situation is reduced to one thing – fear. Fear of becoming ill themselves, of dealing with the illness, fear of being tied down because of someone else’s illness. Whatever the final key element is, it is based on fear.

I saw it many times. Saw the illnesses, saw the injured, infirm, the helpless and counseled both sides of the equation. So one would think that when faced with the same situation I would have been prepared for whatever life had to throw at me. I know I did and I was wrong. I was so wrong that it took a decade of things slowly falling apart, one illness after another, one trauma after another and down some deep well inside I kept pushing all the pain and hurt, the fear and anger deep inside and capped that well.

My mother and my children kept me anchored to my life. They provided me with the lifeline I needed to convince myself that I had everything under control. That was when my husband learned we had been told that my mother was terminally ill. Then my personal volcano started to rumble. When I stepped up to the plate to look after Mum, he decided he’d had enough and left. My volcano really started to rumble and smoke.

#Life #ChronicIllness

image from nevsepic.com.ua

Her passing was a body blow and things escalated. No-one seemed to know. They didn’t appear to see the signs of strain, or stress, or perhaps they didn’t care. They may have been too caught up in their own dramas at that point. So I tried to cap my well once more but the cracks were already there. As the saying goes, “I soldiered on” but I could feel my hold on everything slowly slipping.

I even made an escape run by going to the Middle East. I’m still not sure if I intended being able to return from that trip. Nothing fazed me at that point. No careless act was beyond the devil may care attitude I portrayed. Yet my turn had not yet arrived and I did return and for a short time it appeared as if I had managed to shore up the weakened foundations of my well and life progressed.

That was until the dramas began again, different ones but with the same stress load. I struggled to hide it. I tried to deny it. It was no use. The volcano was not going to be denied this time. Slowly and then more quickly the volcano erupted as I morphed from fit and healthy to something akin to a helpless worm. My self-esteem plummeted and my desire to fight all but eliminated. I had a small flicker of light burning far in the distance, my children and my new husband.

#Life #ChronicIllness

image from tinyhappyfarm.blogspot.com

My guilt knew no bounds. I was caught on the horns of a giant dilemma, succumb or keep struggling with this “Chronic Illness” rubbish I was bombarded with each time I saw my doctor. (Primary Care Physician for my US friends). Me, a medical research sponge, needing to know all the ins and outs of everything, prognosis, treatment, end results, could not find the damned answer.

When I was finally told I had Lyme disease I was unsure if I was relieved or not. It did not feel right and after 12 months of the most putrid antibiotics I have ever had, it was decided I didn’t have it after all. I dread to think what it has done to my body. One simple test, always done at the beginning of Lyme testing had not been done. If it had I could have saved those 12 months and perhaps started to feel better.

But wishes are only granted in fairy tales and life moves on. The results when they arrived back have turned my life upside down. Yes, it’s still a Chronic Illness, but one with far reaching ramifications, and not just for me. At the moment the volcano is still running hot, the lava is destroying thoughts and ideas and new ones have yet to be made to replace them. I need to get a handle on this monster and beard the dragon in his lair.
I need time and yet time is not a resource I have in abundance. Decisions to be made and plans to make and I’m swimming against the tide, no small feat when I can’t swim.

#Life #ChronicIllness

image from cybershamans.blogspot.com

So I ask you, the ill and infirm, those with Chronic Illnesses, the fit and healthy, I ask everyone, to be aware of the little acts you do, be aware of how much difference a small gesture can make to someone who is ill. If you are ill, learn to take pride in the fact that you CAN ask for help. If it is turned down, it is their failing; not yours. If we want our world free from illness, we need to start by understanding its ways. We need to want to beat the monster at its own game. We can, but not alone. We all need to care and work together.

Those who don’t care, do they deserve our sympathy when they crash and burn? I have no answer yet. I try each day to send love and healing, gratitude and thankfulness out into the world, even now. Perhaps it is more important now. I know there is a question within this tale and in time I will be able to answer it, but only after I have accepted it fully.

#Life #ChronicIllness

image from chronicillnessmemes.tumblr.com

Chronic Illness is not catching, but it is lonely and isolating. Please, if you remember nothing else, I ask that you remember this.

 

Blessings, Susan ♥

© Susan Jamieson 2014

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

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Christmas Calling

image from
josephine-wall-fantasy-paintings.co.uk

“Christmas waves a magic wand over this world, and behold, everything is softer and more beautiful. ”
― Norman Vincent Peale

~

“I know what I really want for Christmas.
I want my childhood back.
Nobody is going to give me that. I might give at least the memory of it to myself if I try. I know it doesn’t make sense, but since when is Christmas about sense, anyway? It is about a child, of long ago and far away, and it is about the child of now. In you and me. Waiting behind the door of or hearts for something wonderful to happen. A child who is impractical, unrealistic, simpleminded and terribly vulnerable to joy.”
― Robert Fulghum, All I Really Need to Know I Learned in Kindergarten

~

The Christmas of times past seems to have vanished like the snow from my door. Snow is never likely to fall in front of my door again, but it really has only a small part to play in the changes in Christmas. I would that I could offer everyone the intense joy and happiness I knew with each and every Christmas. The fact that it has changed for me is a matter of great dismay. The fact that it has changed for so many others is daunting.

As a child I knew so much happiness and excitement as Christmas drew close. It wasn’t for the fact that the stores were filled with toys and lollies and Christmas decorations. It was for the joy and wonder my parents and grandparents created each day leading up to Christmas day. I was fortunate that the shops didn’t put out the decorations, cards and toys until much closer to Christmas. The unique ‘specialness’ of Christmas had not been inundated with the bombardment of the commercialism of Christmas. It yet held that special air of magic. The pleasure of a nativity calendar!

I remember one year, being so convinced that my parents had to be helping Santa by hiding our gifts somewhere at home. After all he couldn’t really get them all round the world to every boy and girl on Christmas Eve, could he? I searched the house from top to bottom (I was very excited). I found nothing of course. My parents knew me well – they had hidden everything at my Nanny’s since she lived next door. It was a thrilling time none the less.

I remember when I was old enough to start sending Christmas cards to my friends. It was a sign, an indication that I was getting older and able to understand the real meaning behind Christmas. It meant, to me at least, that Christmas was a time for family, and for friends, and more than that for everyone I met. It was a time to share happiness, even if it was only a smile or a card.

Christmas Calling

image from theearthconstitution.org

I remember when my children were born and the excitement I felt when I gave them cards and gifts. I remember the fun we had as we made up Christmas hampers for the Salvos and for the RSPCA.  I remember with a sigh, when they too became old enough to want to give their friends Christmas cards.  Yet, in what feels like a few short years later the world itself has changed. Somehow, Christmas has lost some of its magic and sparkle and we are the poorer for it.

People  no longer want to send cards, if you are very fortunate you might get an e card. I haven’t yet found a way to hang it up though. What does that card mean? To me it meant that I cared about the person I was sending it to; I was thinking about them even if I couldn’t see or speak with them on Christmas day – or perhaps over the few days of Christmas. So a card, especially when money was tight, was a true gift of the heart to say…I miss you and I wish you all the best and that you were here. We made cards which held a stronger magic of love.

The other day I heard someone refer to themselves as an orphan and having an ‘Orphan Christmas’ because their parents had divorced. I felt so saddened by that. I thought of all the children who have never had parents, are living on the streets, or whose parents have passed away and therefore cannot have any part of the physical Christmas with them. I understand, I think, what they meant, but I couldn’t stop the tears forming, as I thought of the fact that my parents were no longer here, my brothers not speaking with me and my children unable to visit this year. I was selfish, I know, but the words hit like a barb bringing all the other barbs to play.

What hit the hardest was knowing that this move from giving Christmas cards means that I don’t even have the joy of a card to say – Yes, they are thinking of me. There is a part of them here too. Of course, they are in my heart, but I have to wonder why people are so reluctant to spend a few dollars sending a card.  What has happened to the feeling and magic of Christmas?

Oh, I know, its expensive sending cards today, and if you are giving someone a gift why spend a few extra dollars on a card? Better yet, why send a card when the postage costs more than the card? Perhaps it’s the thought, why send a card at all, we don’t see or hear from them most of the year? Somehow this just sounds like excuses or miserly thinking. (To me). The Christmas Spirit seems to be vanishing, or has the Christmas Grinch caught up with most people?

I am often heard wishing for snow at Christmas, the feel of the crisp air and the crunch of snow underfoot. The robins and tinsel, mistletoe and fairy lights. My mother’s fantastic Christmas tree decorated, which eclipse mine to this day, I can never see again, except in my memory. The paper decorations we all made as children – do you remember the strips of coloured paper, we glued one end to make a circle, then added more? Paper chains, we had a houseful one year. 🙂  I have beautiful cross stitch ornaments and sequin balls made at school by my children. Yet there is a hollow feeling in my heart. The Christmas magic is being stolen.

If I was allowed only one Christmas wish I would give it to –  all of you. I would wish you; a Christmas filled with joy and magic, the excitement of family or friends, or someone who cared, to make your Christmas special. If I could I would make sure that everyone received at least one Christmas card, with wishes for a safe and happy Christmas, filled with love and that you would all return safe and sound in the New Year.  

~

Wherever you are, my wish is that you receive the joy and magic from my heart to yours. That you feel the love and happiness of Christmas, of time shared however briefly together.

~

This, is my Christmas Calling to You.

~

Blessings, Susan x

© Susan Jamieson 2013

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friendship

There is so much talked and written about friendship. It is one of the greatest gifts you can give to someone.  It warms your heart, it is a place you can go to when you hurt and someone you can trust to hear your every thought when you are so confused you don’t know what to do.  It is one of the rarest treasures to be found.  It cannot be bottled or sold, it must be earned, because friendship is based on trust.

It can also shred your heart into pieces, leave you devastated and betrayed and make you want to curl up and forget you woke up that morning.

This is not confined to friends or acquaintances, it can also be family, loved ones. The people you most likely will never expect to ‘turn on you’ in your time of need.  Let’s face it, with the stresses and strains of modern life we all need more than a casual shoulder to lean on.  We need to know that if we have placed our trust and faith in a friend that they will not find something more interesting to do when you call and need to talk.

Perhaps it’s just me, I’m no longer sure. I may be too difficult to get along with.  I may have more thorns than a prickly pear let alone a rose and no one wants to be bothered picking out the prickles any longer.  The pathetic and sad fact is that I don’t have a friend I can call or write to any longer.

image from therockatbc.com

I had a friend I wrote to without fail, every year for nearly forty years. We never missed a birthday or Christmas. Since coming to Australia it has been confined to letters, but that’s okay, I’ve always enjoyed writing letters.  Two years ago I had the Christmas card and letter I sent returned,”Not known this address”.  How odd I thought and checked the internet.  Nope, they were still registered at the same place.   Two years later they are still registered at the same address and I have no idea what, if anything, has happened to cause the sudden change of heart.

However, she was my last friend.  I had slowly over the years, found that one by one they had dropped off. Divorce has a way of culling friends very quickly.  Some would say it showed how much of a friend they really were. Perhaps that is so. However, at a time when I needed a friend more than ever before, I found not one of my quite large circle of supposed friends willing to take the time to speak to me or to meet me for coffee, and the last time I dropped around to see someone, I was made to feel so unwelcome (the icicles were forming on the ceiling) that I haven’t tried again. No  I haven’t heard from them either.  I didn’t know the heart was able to shrivel that way, but it certainly feels like it. One hurt wasn’t enough, it needed company it seems.

image from glogster.com

It’s not the end of the earth, I hear you say. There are many ways to make friends; join groups, start a class to learn something new, say hello to people in your street, join a church group or an interest group. The lists are endless.  Most good friendships, in my opinion, are either started whilst at school, during your intense work period when interests bind you first and then develop, childbirth and rearing, or through a crisis of some kind.  What happens when they are exhausted, or perhaps worse, you are exhausted from the effort and rejection you have already been through. You close down to save yourself from more hurt.

I don’t have the answers to this one. You see I’m rather tapped out with my previous efforts and failures. Does this mean it’s me who is the ‘square peg in the round hole?” I don’t know.  I do know that when I was challenged recently to take five minutes to call, write or be with a friend my heart melted one more time.

Rusty

I am longing for my dog who passed away, Rusty, …. with him I had a friend who never turned away when I needed a cuddle, a sloppy kiss if I was sad or simply sat with me if I was feeling low.  The best friend a girl could ever have. I miss him so much, to this day, especially this day.

So for all those who recognise themselves in this blog, or find the challenge of calling, writing or being with a friend today, beyond your abilities, I will be your friend, because I know what it feels like to have that hollow feeling of emptiness inside.

image from dostoyreflects.blogspot.com

Welcome, one and all.

“No one can be happy without a friend, nor be sure of a friend until he is unhappy”. –Thomas Fuller

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