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Begin Again

beginagain

A friend gave me a magnet awhile back in anticipation for all of the changes that were in store for my future.  At the time, I didn’t want to Begin Again as it was daunting for me to think about all that would be changed.  Regardless of how much I didn’t want the changes, they happened anyway, out of my control.  Instead of accepting that my life would dramatically change in all ways – divorce, moving, financially, health-wise, etc., I fought like a tigress to remain in that stagnant limbo of wanting no change, all while change happened anyway.

Finally, I surrendered.

Broken, exhausted and drained, I surrendered.

It’s not that I didn’t agree that the changes were imminent and necessary.  It was that I was fearful of how I would continue on in this uncharted territory for my journey and the journey of my children, for it wasn’t where I wanted to be.  But when I stopped fighting against the rising tide and began to doggy paddle to keep afloat, I received help through the transition.  Angels disguised as friends and strangers reached out to me with kindness.  I began to see the future as a new chapter in my life, a new book on which to write my story and a fresh clean slate which I controlled (for the most part) of how I am the captain of my own life’s ship.

I began planning what had to be done and like a sergeant, began the transition with what I hoped would be military precision.  But alas, I may have had a plethora of military family members, but precision has not been a characteristic blessing unto me.  And so it was, I surrendered.  I did my best daily, fell asleep on my pillow with a bone tired body and rose up the next morning to do it all again.  And finally, it was accomplished, through the help of my angelic human angels.

Now we begin again, in a new home with new challenges.  Regardless, I have surrendered what was and I embrace what is and I plan for what I would like to be.  To Begin Again requires letting go of the past and staying in a peaceful present and allowing a hopeful future to blossom, petal by petal.

I am grateful for the peace within now.  Although transitions are often fraught with wiggles and compromises, I knowingly stand with peace in my heart, grateful for the lessons and learning which have come with the experiences I’ve endured.  I’ve learned so much about people, about myself and about love.  Life lessons have been tough at times, but well-worth the growth that came out of them.  Sure, it’s easy in hindsight to feel this way, but I guess I wanted to share with you so that you can remember that there is light at the end of the tunnel.  We just have to keep walking towards the light.

I’m here for you if you are going through any transitions as I’ve been through a bunch of different ones:  cancer, multiple surgeries, chemo, radiation, divorce, selling a house, finding the right rental, starting over at 50, death of family, family with Alzheimer’s and Dementia, etc.  If you need a friend, here I am, with my arms wide open for a hug.

Shine On!

xo

 

 

I’m Fine

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The average person tells 4 lies a day

or 1460 a year;

a total of 86,700 by the age of 60. 

And the most common lie is:

I’m fine.

How many of us go about our day telling ourselves and anyone else who asks, “I’m fine,” even when we know we aren’t.  Denying the state of unrest within us doesn’t do anyone else any good, least of all ourselves.

Sure there are those of us who think we are inner powerhouses, who believe innately that we can work through the chaos and if we just put a little more effort into it, we can survive.  We continue to take each hurdle as it comes and keep moving forward, even when our body, mind, heart and soul yearn to rest.  But there’s no rest when we are amidst chaos.  We can’t let someone else down, nor ourselves.  We have to keep on, keeping on, in order to make it through, putting our best foot forward, because we are the responsible ones.  We are the ones whom everyone else is counting on and we just can’t let them down, nor can we face that sorry fact that we need help where we are.

If we were observant, we would face the truth and tell ourselves to reach out and we would know in our hearts that there are people who can and would help us.  Sometimes we do reach out, but if the person to whom we reach out can’t help us or won’t help us, we are doubly determined to just do it alone.  And so goes on that vicious circle of “I’m fine.”

But honestly. we are not alone.  You are not alone, nor am I.

And at times, we are certainly, NOT FINE.

Sure, I could tell you to rest and allow the weight of the world to fall off your shoulders at night so that you could sleep in peace.  You could hang your worries on a branch and give them over to God.  You could pray for solutions and look for signs from above.  You could reach out to friends and family for support or to trained professionals for guidance.  You could hire someone to do what it is you are so determined to do yourself.  It all depends on what is weighing you down and what is not fine.

But will you do that?

It’s a choice to get help when things are chaotic (and even when they aren’t).  It’s a letting go of the control and of the belief that I can do it.  It’s dropping the role that you’ve lead your entire life of being the responsible one and taking on obligations that maybe weren’t really even yours in the first place, but because nobody else stepped up, you did.

There will be those who criticize you if you choose to allow yourself to honestly say, “I’m not fine.”  There will be those who simply don’t understand what’s so hard for you when they look from the outside with their perception into your life.  There are those who will turn their backs and walk away.  Then there will be those who stay, who hold your hand, listen and pick up a shovel to help you get rid of the mess.

Those are the ones I want at my side.  What about you?

Trust in those who hold your hand with a loving heart space.  Allow their kindness, generosity and love to heal you, to help you and to ease the burdens you carry.  Trust in God that He can help you through these tough times.  And for goodness sake, get rid of the I’m fine, except when you know it will fall on deaf ears or when you really mean it.  Trust in I’m not fine, with those whose hearts are open to yours.

So if you’re asking me, “I’m not fine” today, but as Scarlett O’Hara once said, “Tomorrow is another day.”

How are you?

Shine On!

xo

On My Knees

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As you’ve seen in my last few posts, life has been hard these days.  For me, writing is my outlet, sharing what I think might help someone else who is a caregiver of someone whom they love who has Alzheimer’s Disease and Dementia.  I write in order to connect with others who are walking this path because we understand how emotional it can be and you just need support from others who get it.

There is no cure for this disease.  It is fatal.  As the mind shuts down, the body begins its journey as well.  It’s genetic as well, which means that those of us with relatives with the disease, can be subject to it in the future.

Think about that for a moment…what you may be witnessing as a child of a parent with Alzheimer’s, may be you one day.  It puts a terrible spin on the whole experience, don’t you think?  For then, with that knowledge, we wonder if we have it and every tidbit of forgetfulness becomes a full blown worry if it’s early onset of the disease.

Just because a parent has the disease, doesn’t necessarily mean that the offspring will develop it though, which is good news.  For it’s hard enough to watch a loved one struggle to hold onto information, recognize people and remember that loved ones have passed away.  The incessant questioning and cycles of repetition can make it hard to be patient, especially when we are hurting as well.  In truth, I’ve cried a boatload of tears lately in frustration and sadness in feeling so helpless.

The power of prayer and faith helps.  When I can’t stop trying to fix the situation or at least better it, I find that getting on my knees to pray helps quiet my mind.  Simply handing it over to God for the night, once I finally let go, let Him in and let God take it from here that is.  I’m a tough cookie.  I like to keep a handle on things so it’s harder for me to allow the Universe and God to hold onto everything while I sleep. But it helps so much.

Do you ever find yourself on your knees praying when all else fails?

Shine On!

xo

 

 

Tips to Survive MRI Breast Scan From Someone Who Knows

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It’s hard enough to have questionable health issues, but to endure testing to find out the results is an added necessary burden.  Have you ever had an MRI?  You can have them for all different health problems.  I have endured MRI’s for brain and breast scans, neither of which are fun.  But then, no test is fun, there I said it.  I feel for you.  I’ve been there.  I don’t know what’s harder, the test itself, the wait time for the answer or the dealing with whatever the result is.

But below are a few tips that may help you or a loved one in case you need an MRI, in no particular order:

You can’t have any metal on you when you are in the MRI machine.  Watches must come off because they will be stopped by the machine.  You can probably keep your gold jewelry on, but the technician may tell you to take it all off and put it in your locker where your clothes are because you’ve changed into that fashionable hospital gown.  You know the one, right?  Lucky for us, they will probably give you two like they gave me.  First one opens in the front, second opens in the back so there’s no peek-a-boo affect!  Oh-la-la!

Go to the bathroom right before you have the procedure.  Remember how your Mom told to you to go pee-pee before you left the house?  Well, you will be in the MRI machine, not able to move for a bit so better to try to go again before you get strapped down for at least 30 minutes.  Because, it’s so uncomfortable to have to resist the urge to stop an MRI because you need to go.  You know how it is, if you need to go and you are strapped into a loud cranky machine and aren’t allowed to move, your mind will fill up with thoughts of the bathroom and it will be hard to stay calm and not move.  And you can’t just get up, run to the potty and finish the test.  Nope, you have to stay there, from start to finish in the same position.

When they put you in the machine, you will be asked to NOT MOVE for the entire time.  So make sure you are as comfortable as humanly possible before the professional leaves the room.  I’ve had MRI’s where I had to be in a certain position that was very uncomfortable in order to have the test.  Sometimes you just have to be in that position no matter what, but occasionally, you can have the position adjusted BEFORE the test begins.  The key here is BEFORE because you can’t change position once it starts.  It never hurts to ask.

Make sure they give you earplugs ~ the machine clanks LOUDLY and you are in a tube which makes the sound reverberate.  Earplugs don’t seem to help, but it’s even worse when you don’t have them.  Years ago, they didn’t give you earplugs and it felt deafening to be in the machine.

TELL the professional if you are a claustrophobic.  THIS IS IMPORTANT!  Some tests will allow a relaxing medicine (prescription from your doctor before you go to the MRI) to be taken 30 minutes prior to help with the phobia and there are cases in which you can request an OPEN MRI which would help immensely if you are indeed claustrophobic.

For the breast scans, I have gone by myself before and since I know what to expect, it’s not as bad.  Ok, it’s not great either.  Breast scans have the patient laying face down (like the photo above) so you can see nothing except the sheet that covers the platform on which you are laying.  Your arms are above your head so that the radiologist can see your breasts.  I will tell you that for me, it is terribly uncomfortable to have my right side that way.  In fact, my back muscles went into spasm once and I called to the technician.  She came in and helped me to reposition myself and made sure I was still in position for the best possible test results, but I was able to have my arm oustretched to get into the machine and then under her supervision, was able to bend my arm against the machine so that it was comfortable once I was fully in the machine.  It made a world of difference for me.

The object here to get the test done in the shortest amount of time with the best results while you are as comfortable as possible.  To get all 3 pieces is a huge win-win.  Your technician is a big help in this because they want you to have a good experience and they need to get the job done. 

Working together is key here.

You are not alone in the MRI machine.  You have a ball in your hand to squeeze in case you need help and your technician (who is in the next room) will respond.  There is also an audio whereby you can hear the technician tell you what to expect  ~ test for 8 minutes, the contrast is now starting, etc. and you can respond verbally as well.

You can have an MRI with and without contrast.  Without getting too technical, with contrast means that you will have an IV inserted before you go into the MRI machine room.  Once you are settled into position in the machine, the technician will connect your IV to the contrast for use later as the first set of MRI images will be without the contrast.

My advice is to drink water before you go to the test and to drink water afterwards to flush your system of the contrast.  Drinking water before hydrates you (hence take the potty break right before) and allows your veins to be nice and plump so that the IV is inserted quickly, easily and pretty painlessly.  If you don’t hydrate, then it’s harder to find a good vein, the prick hurts more and veins can get blown, which means you have to get stuck again in a different vein.  That, my friends, is never fun and I’ve had a ton of experience with that piece.

When the technician tells you the contrast is coming, you will feel it in your veins.  You may have felt something already, a little bit of cold fluid which is the saline solution to make sure that all flows properly.  You will know the contrast is entering your veins because you will taste a metallic ink in your mouth and may even feel a warmth in your body.  You may even feel like you’ve (ahem) peed yourself (for lack of a better term), but don’t worry.  It’s simply the sensation because remember, you’ve already gone potty before you got into the machine.  Once the contrast is delivered, the machine will clank again as it repeats the same imaging as before, only this time with the contrast in your body.

So what do you do while you are waiting for the whole episode to be over?  It’s loud in the machine and time for me, feels like it stops completely.  I have tried to sing songs to myself ~ made up rap songs to the rat-a-tat-tat of the clanking machine ~ I’ve tried to find a mantra to say along with the rhythmic clanging ~ I can do this…I am healthy…All is well…God please be with me…etc.  I have tried to pray the rosary even, but as my mind has a hard time focusing I only almost prayed 2 mysteries.  But perhaps you’ll find something to do to make the time go by easier.

I have had techs who have been diligent in telling me, “Ok, this test is for 8 minutes…now this one is for 10” and so on…and I have had others whom I thought had left the building as I hardly ever heard from them so I guess it’s just the luck of the draw.  My favorite line from any of them has always been, “Ok, the test is over.  Stay still, I’m coming in,” as I drew a huge sigh of relief that it was over.

I’ve been woozy afterwards with all of the fears now over, the test now over and I am now having to stand up after being face down for 45 minutes.  Take your time.  If you feel light-headed, TELL the professional as if you faint, the EMS come and it’s a big deal.  If you can take your time and simply stay calmer, it helps.  I know that those of us who are fainters (yup, me too) don’t always have any notice that they are going down, but if you do, please tell them.  Believe me, you don’t want the EMS there because you fainted because the test was finally over.  You want to do a happy dance that it’s over and get out of there!

I hope you found a tidbit or two to help you through ~ I have been there, done that, so if you have any questions or want to share your experience below, please do!  I am here for you if you need a friend.  I understand ~ here’s my hand, hold on.  We’ll get you through this together!

Shine On!

xo

P.S.  Thanks to my sweet readers who shared their experiences below and gently reminded me about the contrast sensation.  You rock Rhonda and Cordelia’s Mom. ♥