Wednesday, February 15, 2012

My life and chronic sinus disease

For those of you who don't know, I suffer from chronic sinus disease. I have had four surgeries on my sinuses, the third and fourth being in 2009. I was 12 when the first symptoms of my chronic cranial pain began. I have been dealing with this disease for 14 years and of those the first 8 went undiagnosed. Those beginning years were filled with doctors medicating the symptoms instead of trying to come up with an explanation as to what the centralized problem was for causing the chronic pain. Cranial pain meaning pain in my neck, head, jaw, sinuses, ears, and around my eyes.

This disease has consumed much of my life and has changed the way I go about living each day. To say I have suffered such an immense amount of pain is an understatement. This post is not about me complaining or looking for sympathy. But more about the ways in which I have had to learn to cope with pain and learn to live my life differently to account for my health issues.

People have asked me what does it feel like and the best description I can give is to compare it to the worst sinus infection you have ever had... but experiencing this every day. To be able to get out of bed and function day-to-day I have to go through a health regiment every morning and night. It is best to start with the evening, for if I fail to do the necessary pre-bed requirements I will not be getting out of bed at all the next day.

1. I must do two sinus rinses, one through each nostril. The rinse is made up of distilled water  and a saline packet which is then slightly heated.
2. I take two tablets. One that helps prevent polyps from growing in my nose and sinuses. The second is a skeletal muscle relaxer. This tablet is important. It allows me to relax my whole body enough to fall asleep. What people don't understand is that when one is suffering from chronic pain (the pain is constant, never ending), the body does not stop feeling pain when you are asleep. Individuals with chronic pain of any description often suffer from sleeping disorders. I was diagnosed with a sleeping disorder at the age of 15. Also important to note, this tablet allows my body to get some relief from pain while asleep. Basically giving my body a break to help me better cope with pain the following day.
3. After completing my sinus rinse I must lay on my bed with my head dangling over the edge while I directly drop a liquid steroid into each nostril. After doing so I must lie there between 5-10 minutes, which I would have to say is the hardest part of my health care regiment. Not only is it boring but by this point I am exhausted and just want to get into bed.

1. If all done the night before the morning is much simpler. I do two sinus rinses again, following the same directions as the evening. Depending on how my sinuses are doing I may have to repeat this again later in the day around noon.

Embarrassing fact. Not all the water will leave my nose and sinus cavities. So there have been times when my nose will spontaneously start rapidly dripping water out of it. Most often this happens when I bend down to get something out of a low cupboard or to pick something up. I try to keep this in mind when in public.

What I have learned so far while living with this disease:

1. I have learned who my true friends are. They are individuals who do not blame me for being sick and can look past all the really bad days to make the best out of the good days.
2. If you smile really big people will think that everything is ok.
3. The human body and mind can be pushed to its limits and you can still survive it.
4. Most importantly that life can be beautiful and worth living!

Some people think because they cannot see a visible disability or injury, such as a broken arm or leg, that I am not suffering in pain or that it couldn't possibly be that bad. But in reality it is that bad! Individuals suffer and deal with chronic pain in many different ways. This is why I wanted to write this post. Someone close to you maybe be suffering in silence. It could be that girl who is always smiling, the girl who constantly refuses to go out to the bar, or the girl who frustrates you because she says she is always tired and never seems up for doing anything fun... That girl is me. I would love to be able to do the things that healthy young people do. I hate having to always sit on the sidelines of life while others are participating. To be completely frank, I am tired of having to constantly explain to people I don't know that I have health issues and this is why I can't do certain things.. and most of all I don't want to feel bad about my situation anymore and just move on. My chronic pain is apart of me but it does not define who I am. Today I am saying goodbye to the "sick girl" and hello to my new life of acceptance and possibility.

This post is dedicated to my Mom who has wiped away countless tears and to Mark Shields who saved my life by showing me how to live it.

Monday, April 4, 2011

Embracing The Life Cycle

It is quite strange how quickly things can change. How one chance meeting or a simple choice being made can land you a trip to the next stage in the life cycle. I just recently attended my best friends' baby shower. Not only is it strange to type that sentence but it was just as bizarre to be there with her being 8 months pregnant and talking about her delivery and if she is going to breast feed.

My eldest sister has two children whom are 2 and 6 months old, so I am used to being around expectant mothers or small children. The difference being she is my big sister and not one of my peers... not someone who I normally associate with being drunk or acting like fools.  Of all my friends Laura (my pregnant friend), was the first to buy a house, the first to get married, and now the first to be pregnant. This only means that from this point on big changes are going to be occurring all around me. Sloppy late night parties will become quiet social time where we discuss upcoming weddings, looking for homes and how expensive they are, to whether you are going to call your baby boy Cameron or Owen.

The truth of it is I am quite excited for all these new beginnings. Looking forward to meeting my friends future spouses (some I believe to have already met!), attending house warming parties and baby showers, and eventually play dates. Only a few years ago did all of this seem scary and so far away, but now that it is happening it seems incredibly exciting.

I would like to dedicate this post to my friend Laura. She is someone who is so special that words can't even begin to describe her. I am lucky to have her in my life and I know that she is going to be the most amazing mother. She is about to embark on a journey that I believe to be one of the most important of the life cycle. Congratulations Laura, I can't wait to meet your baby boy!

Wednesday, March 16, 2011

The Revival

To all my thousands of followers... I am back. I have decided to return to my blog and begin to write once more. I realize my first and last post (from over a year ago) was incredibly genius and so very insightful that nothing else was needed to follow such a masterpiece, but I now feel that it would be unfair of me to withhold my brilliance. 

Today I will simply leave you with a photo entitled "never let sleeping dogs lie." 

Thursday, January 28, 2010

Knitting is it Dying or Thriving?

I just recently moved and was pleasantly surprised to come across a scarf I started knitting, which I believed I started knitting almost two years ago now. I would not say I am skilled in the art that is knitting, but as my Grandmother would say "You have very good tension." Although I am unable to create anything other then a simple scarf with my purple number 11 knitting needles, I quite enjoy the relaxing past time that knitting creates.

I have few peers that are able to knit and the ones who do are as advanced as I appear to be. I like so many others, have learned to knit through my matrilineal heritage. My Mother who possesses the ability to knit, claims that any skill I have to create anything with wool comes from the expert hands of my Grandmother. My Grandmother can create anything with any type of string. It is something that I quite admire about her.

Fortunately for you, my ability to knit is not the subject of this post. While knitting I came to a sad thought that had me wondering if knitting is dying or thriving? For my Grandmother and her mother and her mother before that... knitting was a way of life. These women would create clothing for their entire family. Clothes that would help both women and man get through the long cold Canadian winters. My Grandma once recalled a story to me of the extreme cold temperatures of the North and having to walk for miles to get to school because they did not have cars yet. She said she owned knitted stockings that she wore under her clothing (like long underwear), to keep her little legs from freezing.

Today knitting is more of a hobby to pass the time. It is not a necessity of survival. I can jump into my car and go and purchase thermals to keep me warm. And for that matter if it is extremely cold I can jump into my preheated vehicle and drive to wherever it is I need to go. The point is... I wonder if the art of knitting is becoming a thing of the past? Will my children grow up and ask me "what is knitting?"

We will always have knitted products that one can buy for what is becoming a hefty price... but will my children know that it can be made by hand, with two needles? Or will they only hear the roar of the large knitting machinery and the visualize the technician at work when they see that beautiful sweater folded perfectly on the store shelf?

As stated previously, knitting is a skill that has been passed down through the generations. What is going to happen if this generational cycle is broken? Is it already broken? I myself would be so bold as to say that knitting is on its way out. As my Grandmother is aging, I have become quite sad that I did not make more of my opportunity to learn to create more than a scarf. I would love to knit socks and/or mitts. But I am running out of time to learn from my favorite teacher.

Whether it will be in my life time or not, I feel that I can confidently predict that knitting will become a thing of the past. Where one day there will only be a select few individuals who will possess the ability and children will watch in amazement and marvel in the archaic ability to create clothing with three simple pieces of equipment: wool, needles, and ones own two hands.

Looking at this dilemma on a larger scale... I think of many different skills that ones grandparents of my generation hold, trapping for example. Will they all eventually be lost? And does anyone really care? I myself am saddened at the thought of our historical traditions being lost. I would reach out to everyone to take the time to ask any and every question of your grandparents life, specifically the skills needed to get through daily life when everything was not so conveniently obtained as of recent times. Because it will not just be the skills that will be lost... it will be our heritage, our traditions, the things that keeps us rooted to something bigger then ourselves.