The beauty

The beauty of life…the beauty of love…and the pain of grief. As I hit the submit button for my previous blog…a text came up from my friend. Her love left this earth tonight for the other side. My heart breaks because I know tonight will be one of the hardest nights, say a prayer for her tonight. I know she would appreciate it.

#prayersappreciated

 

Thankful for the small things

One re-occurring thought this weekend was “thankfulness.” A dear friend of mine from graduate school is losing her husband. Both are veterans, my friend’s husband served multiple tours in the Middle East, on his last tour he came home sick. It took some time but doctors determined that he developed some rare liver disease. Over the past year or so I have been on the sidelines watching my loving friend put her wedding vows into action, she has cared for him, loved him, supported him, and now is waiting to let him go. It breaks my heart that she is losing her partner. I remember when they both went on a two week cruise to celebrate their last wedding anniversary before he deployed again.

Sometimes we can get to a place where we take our spouse for granted. We take what they do, their health, and what they bring into our lives for granted. And we should not do that. I find myself sometimes doing that, because I can hang out with my husband tomorrow…over over Christmas break because he will be there right! Well…what if he isn’t…how will I feel if I (and hopefully I don’t ) but if I lose my husband having pushed time with him as not my top priority. We must take advantage of spending quality time with our spouses/partners/lovers/children and family! That is a must!

Like I was telling someone today…yes research must be done…papers must be written…books read…etc. BUT time with my husband should also happen. This weekend we are going out of town for his first KSW Tournament! I’m excited to be there and support him and next weekend I will watching him test for his next belt before I head to my first conference of the semester! From now until the end of the semester, every weekend will be packed with either travel or personal things. BUT that’s ok! I’m thankful for my husband and for the opportunities that my school has given me.

I am blessed and thankful, I was awarded TWO travel scholarships to attend two seperate conferences! WOW! And this begins my second Barbara Jackson award year so I will be going for a third conference. I just submitted applications for a research intensive program, to attend a graduate policy seminary, and am working on an application for a two day intensive pre-faculty institute. Lots going on in my life! And that doesn’t even count the homework/papers/research. That said, I am thankful! I talked to a doctoral student today whose institution has not supported her to attend a conference…I’m so blessed to have received funds to travel to three conferences last year, and three just in this semester. I will have two more at least in the spring! WOW! #blessed!

All that said..there is no greatness to one person…I am a hard worker..despite the Rheumatoid Arthritis, Lupus, Fibromyalgia, Chronic Fatigue, and Sjogrens! Those suck yes they do but I am here and doing all of this because of the MANY people who have encouraged me to keep going on the dark days. From kind posts on Facebook, to Tweets, to texts, to messages, to emails, and even responses on here. I am here and pushing through not because of me but because I have people behind me! Yes I am #thankful

I am very thankful especially for my husband and as my heart aches for my friend…I pray that as her husband leaves this earth..that we remember how amazing he was and all the good he did. I pray for her heart to heal with time, for her friends to carry her through the grief that she is dealing with now and the grief that will come once her love passes to the other side. Say a prayer for her, I know she would appreciate it!

#thankful #blessed #speechless

 

A Night of Thinking

Much has gone on today…I could not help but let myself think back about the future and the past. As you  can see below I’m attaching Africa pictures. When I went to Rwanda..I saw so much pain and hurt. From standing next to mass graves were thousands of unnamed bodies were buried to talking with children who were the only survivors of  their entire family.  It was a life changing experience…but one for good. Having grown up in a third world country, I have a very vivid reality of the lack of food and water around the world. But going to Africa really concreted it in my mind how for some people in some places of the world…a simple drop of water costs them so much energy and time.

I guess being aware of the world around us is a major step. I am so thankful for the opportunity to work with World Help. They focus on the many needs, specifically the needs of children around the world. I hope one day to go back to Africa and maybe the Middle East. I would love to go to Haiti and Asia…I have decided that no matter how crazy my life gets…I want to make sure I stop and be thankful for the many blessings I have in my life. From the basics of food/water/home…to being able to obtain an education!

Despite the pain tonight I can say thank you God for my blessings!

 

P.S. if you scroll down you will see a few pictures from the trip in Rwanda. Yes the buildings blown out during the genocide are still there. As the people say…if we don’t see the impact of the past…we will make the same mistakes again the future. How true is that…we have seen the past come back again in the future. Awareness is critical!

 

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It is so fun

I know this sounds weird but it is soo fun to spend time researching on the Library online. Random right! I remember in college I would spend large portions of my evenings down in the first floor of the library copying articles to read when I get home. There is something magical about writing a research question…aimed at filling a gap in current literature. Then to go and search for what is out there so I know what my study needs to be (my qual project) or to take previous literature and extend them even more with quantitative analysis (my RG and CA studies). Now I am embarking on a new study and so far I love it.

I love taking and digging into the 23,500 article hits that I am finding to see what others have found out about my topic. I have to narrow, work down the key words, read abstracts, and when the right study is found read it and see what they determined. I can now read an entire journal article and understand it. I remember in college I tended to skip the whole method section mostly because I couldn’t understand the statistics. Now I see an analysis and I remember what was done! I love it!

I find this energizes my studying…this part of school I can do for days. The hard part for me is to sit down and read a book like I need to do tonight. Granted the book is very interesting but still! I have to get it done 🙂 Part of me hopes that I can get a job in the future that helps me stay current in my research area..I am working on a list of projects that I want to get started on. It would be cool to work my way up to being an expert in my field. 🙂 One day….a dream right!

Good luck with your evening! I hope that your pain/flares ease! I know that doing anything with our diseases is rough but hang in there! Whether you are at home watching t.v., hanging out with your friends and family, surfing the internet for websites like this, or doing the many other things we humans can find to do…I hope your pain does not stop you! I know for me, my pain slows me down yes…it brings me to tears many days (especially last night as I was up most of the night) but it does not stop me! I won’t let it stop me…I have to many dreams. And I find my dreams are so fun! 🙂

 

Gosh wow time flies

I was thinking about it today! Wow time flies!! Do you ever feel like you turned around and poof years have flow by! I think about that now because about 8 years ago…my husband and I met for the first time at college. We had the weird meeting and I will say the first time I meet him I thought he was one of those rude Texans that had a love for his blue (his VERY blue) double cab pick up truck.  I get varying stories of how he felt about me but within a week we had gone on our first date so apparently we got over our initial issues of meeting each other.

Sometimes I find it interesting that we both are together. My husband is very introverted….loves to spend his time cooking (at one time he said he wanted to be  chef), reading his comics or his books, or playing on his computer.  He is not very outgoing and would much rather be sitting alone doing something than actually hang out with other people.  A plane ride of 3 hours is TOO long…and he would much rather drive or ride on his motorcycle to see the world. He does have a bucket list, of which some items …like Skydiving I have helped fulfill.

Me, on the other hand, I am very outgoing….I love to talk with people and spend time around others. However, I have noticed since having RALF + Chronic Fatigue I am more likely to stay at home either because I am so drained or because I am in so much pain. I am an academic at heart…I love to research and write papers….not so much reading the textbooks. Personally, if we could NOT read I would be happy ….sad I know! I LOVE LOVE LOVE to travel especially around the world…flights that are transatlantic/transpacific are my favorite.  I love seeing new cultures and serving on humanitarian grounds (I.e., World Help) and yes, as lame as it sounds ,I love seeing the sun set while I’m on a different continent.

So in a way we are both opposites but there are some things that we love doing together. If nothing else we love to cuddle and talk..or cuddle and watch Netflix. We enjoy going on short “staycations” or just driving around the Houston area.  I have learned though that marriage is not easy. Marriage will not grow itself…it is like a plant that you have to water and care for …if you don’t there are many problems.

This time almost four years ago I was deep into wedding planning…our wedding date seemed as if it was quickly approaching (Nov 6th)…and I remember feeling so overwhelmed. I was in graduate school…doing my classes…and balancing studying, working full time, and wedding planning. Yes I was NUTS 🙂 So many memories! Gosh wow!

Anyways that was what was on my mind tonight as we approach that time of the year where we remember the beginning of a new year of our marriage relationship. Being married to someone who has RALF + Chronic Fatigue (or the many other invisible diseases) is rough. There are many challenges that other couples might not have to face. There are many bumps in the road from having children (or not having children), to health issues/concerns, and trying to have a marriage relationship when one partner is in constant suffering. It takes a lot of worth and strength but by God’s grace we are still hanging in there! 🙂

Here are just some of my favorite wedding pictures 🙂

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Do you miss

Part of me tonight missed my old energy…maybe it is just me but I definitely miss my old energy! I miss the ability to just get up and go! I miss being able to wake up with little sleep and not almost throw up from the lack of energy! And I think I miss the days when I actually don’t feel as if I was run over by a car! 🙂  But tonight I am thankful that even though I miss my old energy I still finish a book tonight! WOOHOO! I submitted two papers tonight..I hope they were A papers. And I’m working still on getting organized. I hope to start my SLR by this weekend! HURRAY! Just fixing the little pieces …and then  I will be good to start. I like to work ahead on my homework so I can focus all my attention into my research. That makes me much happier and since a lot of my stuff is reading I’m working on getting that done so  I just have to review a bit before class.

Hugs tonight! Hang in there…despite missing our old bodies…I hope we can all grow to do great things in our new bodies! 🙂

 

Wow another week gone by??

Does it ever seem to you that time just flies by on the weekend??? Some week days drag on but it seems like the weekend goes in a bink of an eye. Friday was a rough day because of the rain! And boy did it rain..day and night it rained. I remember thinking around midnight-1a.m. on Saturday….how we should conduct studies on how our bodies react so horribly to the change in air pressure/rain. My ears even didn’t like the change in temperature. Although…I can say we welcomed FALL 🙂

I love the time of year when we can pull out of our boots and scarves : ) Although that reminds me that I need to get a new jacket and I hate jacket shopping .I have to be in a mood to shop for clothes. I will say I am thankful for the internet because internet shopping takes much less energy!! I never realized how draining it could be to walk from the parking lot (even from a handicap parking space) to the stores on just the first floor. Don’t even mention second floor stores! I’m exhausted on the first floor! So internet shopping is my friend 🙂

This weekend my hubby and I spent Saturday together. You have those weeks that you just want to spend together. I had worked ahead a little bit on school work so I knew a few hours together would be good. We drove around, went to the mall, shopped a little bit. And overall just had an us day. Leia is feeling much better, she stayed home watching T.V. (yes we leave the T.V. on for her) and sleeping with the other two girls. Our cats love it when we leave..we come home and both girls are curled up on the couch. They know they aren’t supposed to be there but when we are gone they know they can get away with it! Don’t you love cats!

I spent some time this week looking through my pictures of Africa and reading the news. It is so sad the incidents we have around the world. Nairobi, Kenya is a place I have always wanted to go…one day hope to go…so sad for the loss there. It makes me realize how important it is to be villigent and for us to be aware of what is going on around us.  I am hoping to get a list soon of the different trips that are coming up for World Help! I would love to go as a blogger, to share pictures and stories of the many different places that World Help goes. I remember the amazing different things we saw…from the Star School in Rwanda…to the well that we saw get opened. I mean you don’t think about it…but even water is so precious. Could you imagine walking miles for water? And think about how precious that water would be if you had to walk miles and haul it home. I think of all the water I personally enjoy – long hot showers, water to drink at my leisure, and if I want to water my lawn I certainly can do that if I would like.  But around the world, I have seen that in some places even a drop of water is precious. Puts things in perspective for me a little bit…I definitely…despite my journey and pain…have MUCH to be grateful for!

I don’t have class this week!! One of my professors is recovering from surgery and one of my professors is out of the country. I do still have to drive up to the campus to get a book and meet with my professor from my third class but that will be short. I should be home by 6ish!! YAY!! That is sooooo much better than midnight!

I’m thankful tonight…I suffered so much on Friday/Saturday…and yes even right now my shoulder feels broken, my hands, hips, knees, ankles and toes are swollen. BUT I have a happy spirit. It sounds lame…but I also think one of the hardest things is that…our pain brings an emotional sadness. I’m not sure I would say depression…but the invisible pain (to the outside world) makes me (at times) feel so isolated and sad. But tonight…I am happy because I am reaching out to someone who also feels like me! I made new friends this week that understand my journey. I am one more week through classes this week. I have food, water, a house over my head, and so much more. I am blessed…I am happy..and I am a RA/Lupus/Fibro/Sjogrens/ and Chronic Fatigue fighter! 🙂

 

Two more classes done!

It is such a good feeling to be sitting at home on my couch on Wednesday nights .Yes I am exhausted beyond exhausted BUT the good news is that two more class periods are DONE!! WOOHOO! Next wee I do not have to drive up for class but I do have to drive up to campus for a meeting with my chair! I will totally take that 🙂 I do have a paper though  that I need to finish editing..and I have a little bit to read. 😦 I think that is another thing making this semester hard…the past few semesters I have been taking my methodology courses…lots of writing and researching which I like. This semester..both classes are heavy reading…which I personally struggle with doing. But I’m getting done. I have read two books and just need to write up the reports. Doable especially since the reports are like 2 pages. Not too bad at all. I also need to focus at least two nights of my week on my research…those two nights will be the fun nights 🙂

Good news! Leia is doing better tonight…she has much more energy and is back to antagonizing the cats! Which makes me feel much better. Tomorrow she is over to the vets to get checked on and they are planning on running some more labs. She had some high liver tests at the emergency room on Monday night, I am hoping that is not the case this time. It might be and if it is we will do what we need to do for her. We also need to check her every six months for her heart mumur. Thankfully it is a grade 1 which is the lowest heart murmur grade.

And even better news! I have now booked all my hotels and travel. I am participating in two conferences way from the Houston area (one in St. Louis and one in Indianapolis) and one conference in the Houston area! Whew! Yes busy but I am really looking forward to the opportunities to network and hopefully make some friends along the way. I am representing Sam Houston at all three conferences. I am hoping I don’t do anything that would be embarrassing like tripping down the escalator (yes it has happened before).

So blessed tonight! The pain is as it always is ..present and hurting but I am more at peace now. I think maybe my body needed some time to adjust from break. This past break I actually took a break….and like anything…when you leave it alone for a bit it takes a while to run smoothly again. Plus with the new increase in hours at work that was a shock too. But I am getting into a rhythm 🙂

Night 🙂

 

Poor baby

My poor little Frenchie (3.5yr. old Leia) some how or another she got into something toxic late afternoon on Monday.  I picked her up from daycare and she was fine. We came home and did small things around the house before we settled down to rest/watch T.V. I noticed about 8:30ish that Leia was not her usual hopping up and down self. I thought she was just really tired but then she did not want to eat her dinner which is not like her at all. She always wants to eat 🙂 But when she didn’t I began to wonder what was going on with her.

I sat on the couch with her and she started to shake :(. Hubby and I decided that something was off and we better take her in to the vet. We thought about waiting until 7:00a.m. but we thought that if we catch something early it might be better. So we drove Leia over to the emergency vet clinic.  When we brought her in the door she had a little burst of energy. For a second I hoped that she was just acting up and that it was going to be a short visit.

We waited a little bit before the vet finally came out to talk to us. Unfortunately it looked like Leia had gotten into something caustic, her mouth, tongue, and gums were burned :(. Poor baby! And she was running a fever. They suggested leaving her overnight since she was dehydrated, and they would start her on IV antibiotics. It was so hard to leave her 😦

We got a call about 2:30a.m., her labs came back. Her liver enzyme (one of the four liver tests they ran) was high. And they had noticed a grade 1 heart murmur on the initial exam.  I arrived back at the vet hospital about 7:30a.m. and I transported her to my vet hospital. My vet hospital kept her until about 3-4:00p.m. and then I was able to bring her home. The poor baby came home and she has slept most of yesterday afternoon/evening/night. This morning she was much perkier but still so tired. She didn’t eat very much but I hope that in a few days her appetite will resume. I know it is so hard for her to eat 😦

I was able to take two days off work, yesterday and today to watch her. I don’t think she had started a fever again this morning but I do know she isn’t comfortable. I’m hoping that she will be better by this afternoon.

So scary to watch your little furry one (she is like our kid) be sick 😦 And worse when they cannot tell you what they ate or how much they hurt. But we were so blessed. The emergency room vet and my vet were amazing, and Leia is for sure on the mend.

Off to watch the little one and prepare myself mentally for class tonight! 🙂

 

A balance

This weekend has been a weekend where I did a lot of thinking and praying! You all have no idea now close I was to stopping school for awhile. My body is so tired, the problems with adjusting to Imuran, dealing with prednisone, and the full time job plus homework and research. The past few weeks have been nothing short of torture. I have been beyond exhausted….the pain so intense I literally want to claw off my skin. So tired that I even struggle to drive some days. In tears because I just want my pain to stop. Yes the past few weeks have been intense pain.

Probably the second hardest part of this is living with a smile on my face so that people don’t know how bad it truly is for me. I put makeup on in the morning to cover the exhaustion, a cute professorial outfit to hide the exhaustion and pain, and a cute pair of shoes so no one can go wow what is wrong with you. Yes you and I could probably win an Oscar!

Like you do, I hold the pain inside many days. The RA has swollen my hands, knees, feet and hips horribly. And I believe the RA has moved into my back and neck, thank goodness for a heating pad!! And the Fibro has really started to irritate my ears, I am sooooo sensitive to sound these days! Not sure why. This weekend I picked up a second pair of glasses, my eyes are so dry thanks to Sjogrens but I do think the biotene toothpaste helps soooo much! Living with pain 24/6 365 is beyond draining. I don’t thin people realize especially how draining it can be emotionally. Today I missed my women’s bible study for the third week in a row. And I missed our social…where was I???? In bed, in tears upset because I could move this morning and angry at my body. Do you ever get that way? Where you feel your body is a prison! It decides in the snap of a finger whether you are getting up…or moving! And it is sooo frustrating.

I have also realized how so much of this journey is an emotional battle. These past few days as I have considered putting my education on hold ….I have see how pushing through the pain and the fatigue is such a mental battle. I have to mentally fight myself to get up, read, and write my paper. I had to search deep inside for a reason to keep pushing on. One reason…my late father! I want to make him proud by finishing this task. A second reason is myself, I have wanted to finish this degree for years now…I am do close….I cannot stop. From various friends I got …take a break, slow down, stop for now, now sure why you are even doing it, etc. While only a few said to keep pushing…those few touched my heart. Giving me yet more strength to push onward educationally.

I managed to write a paper, read a book, and read my homework. I made some movement on my research, I am meeting with my dissertation chair on Wednesday. I am learning some great lessons from research…research is not easy but it is fun! I also decided I would break my workweek down a bit, I will spend two days a week on finance homework, two days a week on curriculum home work, and then at least one to two days on researching for my dissertation. This will keep me on top, focused and hopefully I can work in more rest.

I am learning naps are critical and to use my times if energy. Unfortunately I am drinking five hour energies or Monsters sugar free to help with energy. I am trying to avoid a lot of soda and I am drinking a lot of water and hot tea. Little things like resting (granted that is big), drinking lots of water, and keeping up with all my meds….I hope this will help me finish this semester successfully.

I am positive that my sacrifice now….will pay off later! At least I hope that is true! 🙂 and another positive this weekend my hubby and I went and got pedicures, and I got my nails done. I am a huge proponent of self maintenance…it helped me relax and feel better. Granted tonight I’m paying for the hot stone leg massage but that’s ok. It was worth it.

I hope I’ve been able to share something that was weighing on my heart. I appreciate everyone who is behind me. I greatly appreciated those in my life that are true friends, encouraging me and keeping me going. True friends are there and it is a two way street, true friends are not the ones who only contact you when they need something or if they want something from you…true friends are always there in your life because they want to help you and you want to help them. Hang on to those true friends….as we can see this life has many ups and downs!

Off to get ready for Monday! Many prayers and spoons! And here are pictures of my nails…camera is acting up a bit 😦

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