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Wednesday, August 31, 2016

Decisions & Plans


I was trying to decide what my subject would be for this weeks post. Usually the idea has germinated by now and I have it half written in my mind or on my Inspirations page on my website. This week it didn't happen. 

This week my brain has been in this kind of sleep mode. It hasn't wanted to engage to write much of anything, which most writers understand. It is getting over the hurdle and just sitting down and writing. And then you hope that what words you put to page actually form a cohesive idea and are something that your reader will actually want to take the time to read.

I am also in the middle of trying to decide if I should start doing a carbon post here on this blog, of my blog I put up on my website. I want to increase traffic between the two and keep the momentum and growth going up. I sometimes feel as if my other blog gets lost on my website, and people forget it's there. These are the things that keep me awake at night. I want to build a strong readership, not only for my blogs but for when my books are published also.

My brain is always cranking out these plans, but if I have no readers, then where does that take my plans? Straight to the recycle bin? I want to be more engaging to my readers and offer them something of value to read, something that brings them back each week wanting to read more. I thought I had found the perfect approach with releasing the first three chapters of The Cat's Eye Chronicles, as I wrote them in their drafting stage. 

You know, a little bit of how a writer goes from just putting the words to page as it flows from their mind to the tips of their fingers onto the keyboard or through the writing apparatus of their choice. I had even thought to do this with the whole book, and then step away for the editing phase and beta phase, then return with the finished and published book.

The ones who had been with me through the process would I guess be my pre-betas, so to say. What do you call the step before beta? Great a new question to explore. (takes out notepad, scribbles what is before beta?) Where was I? Oh, yeah. My ideas, the things that percolate late in the night as I toss and turn trying to sleep.

I have actually thought of moving my blog from my site to it's own space on Blogger. And since I also put stuff up on Wattpad, that I would just move the book to it. And just make the blog on my site a monthly one, leaving this one my weekly one. Like my title says decisions and plans. All this while trying to write my MS "Wild Grows the Rose". 

I guess the answer will eventually come to me or some of my friends will offer me some much needed advice. That is what friends are for, right? Also as you, my readers are the ones who I am trying to keep coming back and to even subscribe to not only my blogs but my website. I welcome your thoughts on this.

And as I end this weeks ramble, I just want to say thank you for checking out my blogs and my website. I am always trying to keep it fresh and up to date.  If you would like me to write further on any of my subjects that I have covered before, please feel free to let me know in the comments. Hope your day is filled with joy & laughter. 



Wednesday, August 24, 2016

When Did I Become...?


This week’s post is on a subject that nobody ever thinks will happen to them until one day they wake up and realize that it has indeed happened. I am talking about becoming the caregiver to your elderly parent. I had that wake up a few years ago, when I realized my Mom’s memory was getting really bad and she was forgetting how to find her way home while driving. Let me tell you that is not a fun call to get, you hear on the other end this- Mom: Rita, I need you to come get me. I forgot where I was supposed to be going and I am somewhere I have never been. Then you spend an hour trying to figure out exactly where she is at.

 That was when I had to make the tough decision and convince my Mom to give up her license. The time had come when I had to take a good look at my Mom’s life and her health. I actually had to stop looking at my Mom as my Mom, but as a stranger. I had to take a really hard look at the woman before me and see that she just couldn’t do it all anymore.

I found out around the same time that my mother had liver disease to add to her already long list of ailments. Diabetes being a major one. I was told she would not get better, only get worse. She just wasn’t a good candidate for transplant. That she would most likely die from it. Yeah, not good news to be sure. It was because of the liver disease combined with her other ailments, that she would become confused. So that is when it happened.

I became my Mother's caregiver. Somewhere along the way, I became the parent of my parent. I know many that can attest to the feeling of panic in that statement. I had just reached the time of my life when I should have been enjoying my own life, and I was left caring for the needs of an adult who resented the fact that I had to help her. 

She hated having her freedom curtailed by the loss of her license. She had to sell a car she had worked hard to get after divorcing my Dad. She had to make appointments with me to go do what she needed to do. She eventually had to hand over her finances because she kept overdrawing her bank account. She would forget to put a check in the registry or she would forget to pay a bill. Every step of the way was a battle with her, me trying to convince her that she needed the help, her thinking I had it in for her and wanted just to steal her money.

Every visit seemed a fresh new battle, at least to her. For me, it was the same one we had the last time I had been there. Her memory continues to deteriorate; I have just begun to feel that it may be more than just dementia. Some days I wake up and wonder “why me?” When did I draw the short straw? I was never her favorite child, and Lord knows I was never a Mommy’s girl. I was Daddy and Grandma’s girl. Yet here I find myself, the one doing it.

I go each day wondering what new incident will occur involving my Mom. Will this be a good day, where her memory is good and she can socialize with her friends? Or will I get the confused call asking where something is, or when are we doing something, or God forbid, that she has fallen and needs me to come help her off the floor. This is the life of an adult care giver. You become so engrossed in their life that somewhere along the way, you own life gets put on hold. There just doesn’t seem to be enough time in the day to run errands, take her to the doctor, clean her house, do her laundry, go grocery shopping, the list never seems to get smaller. Stuff just gets added as each new thing she can’t do becomes your job. You go home and you are just too tired to participate in your own life.

It finally got bad enough that I had to take a step back. When my own health began taking a turn for the worse. I kept going, ignoring the signs until I did myself injury by not getting treatment and resting. That is when I found that I wasn’t the only “parent of a parent”. There were others, who like me had to take a step back and realize we do have our own lives. I found out there are agencies out there with the sole purpose of helping adult caregivers. I found there are support groups that I can join so I can talk to others like myself who feel overwhelmed at times and don’t know what to do next
.
I found there have been books written by others just like me. I could actually take a breath and think again.

Since I have found the Department of Aging and Disability, my mom now has a chore girl, who comes in to clean her house and do her laundry. I still act as her taxi to the doctor’s and I do her shopping and handle her finances. And yes, she still fights me on that from time to time. But we are finding our groove, and I am slowly taking back my life. I live each day on a positive note, hoping that this is another day I don’t have to take that next step, which is 24-hour care as she has entered end stage with her liver disease. I know that there is help out there for me and where to look for it. If you are perchance just finding yourself in this situation, stop and take a breath. It isn’t going to be easy, and it will be emotional, but you can do it.

Here are some the sites I found helpful. I hope you will too.

Elder Care:

www.caregiver.org  Supports and assists families and caregivers of adults with debilitating health conditions. Offers programs and consultation on care-giving issues and free publications and support online.
www.caregiveraction.org  Educate, support, empower, and advocate for those who care for their ill, aged, or disabled loved ones.
www.ec-online.com  Online support community for caregivers.

www.CaringBridge.org   Websites to connect family and friends during serious health event.

Wednesday, August 17, 2016

Exhausted

Bone weary. You hear people say this, but have you ever actually thought about what they actually meant when they would say it. I do because I have different levels of weariness. Of an exhaustion so profound that it takes every bit of energy you can muster to pick up your arm or take a step. A vacuum that sucks the sparks that fuels you. Leaving you feeling like a fish out of water, fighting to breathe.
I have fought this through most of my life. I got to the point, I got tired of telling my doctors that I always felt exhausted. It took everything for me to get up each day and go to work. Forget doing anything after work, I would just be too tired. I had to fix supper in increments. Too weak to fix it all at once. There was no such thing as a quick meal.
It was not so bad until I contracted a serious bacterial infection, that came close to ending my life. After I recovered, it seemed like the exhaustion became more pronounced and would last longer. It took longer for me to recover from simple illnesses such as colds, the flu, etc. They just seemed to drag on, taking longer and longer to recover from.
Don’t get me started on trying to go out for the day with friends or family; to do some shopping, go to the mall, go to the fair.  I would need recovery days from these things that once I took for granted. Now I would wake up the next morning exhausted, tired to the bone. And I would hurt. It would actually hurt in my muscles, just from me being active. Doing an everyday thing. I would sit on the edge of my bed perplexed. Wondering if I had done something to hurt myself and had just forgotten it. But no, it was just I was tired.
It wasn’t until I started noticing that I was losing a lot of weight and not doing anything to account for the fact. Sure I had kicked the soda habit, but that had been a couple years ago. No, this was several pounds in a few shorts months’ time. I was also losing my hair. This I think concerned me more than the weight, because I have always been overweight, so knocking off fifty pounds was a hallelujah moment. But losing my hair, that upset me. I have always prided myself on my hair. I have baby fine hair that was never thick to begin with. Now when I looked down at the bottom of the shower, I was seeing fist-sized clumps rushing towards the drain.
I would sit down to comb out the tangles and a small auburn animal would appear upon my desk. This is when I knew I needed to talk to my doctor. Early in the year, I had some blood work done by my neurologist, because we were trying to determine the reason for me having Idiopathic Peripheral Neuropathy. People who have Diabetes will recognize the term, because many have to deal with it. As I am not diabetic, the doctor was trying to figure out what could be causing me to have it in not only my feet but also my hands. To this day the cause is still unknown and we may never know.
          One of the blood test he ran was to see if I had Lupus or some other type of autoimmune disease. When my ANA (antinuclear antibody) test came back irregular, he was concerned and sent me for more intensive blood work. Apparently the first test had read high for some reason, but now it was a bit above normal, but nothing to be concerned about. This was the first time I had ever tested positive for this. And I had been checked before because of my family history. I walked out that day not knowing the cause, and was just started on a course of medication to help alleviate my symptoms.
Now after all these months, I was at the doctor again. Telling her how I felt and mentioned the positive ANA. She told me it could be nothing, but she wanted to have some blood drawn and see what was happening. It might be a simple vitamin deficiency and nothing to worry about. So I visited the vampires and had my blood drawn and went home to wonder and worry.
A couple days later the doctor’s nurse called and said she was referring me to a Rheumatologist. That my blood work had come back and had caused her some concern. Now I was concerned. What had my blood work shown? So I went into my patient portal and pulled up my blood test and compared them to the previous doctor’s visit. This time my ANA was back up and my SED rate was high also. I began to worry that I might have Lupus. It had been diagnosed in the family before, so I knew a bit about it.
The day came for my appointment with the rheumatologist and with a fair bit of apprehension I made my way there. I wanted to know what was wrong with me, but on the other hand, did I want to know? The doctor was a nice guy who put me at ease, and I felt good about asking him questions. He told me what all could be possibly wrong and that he would be with me every step of the way. He sent me for a very comprehensive blood panel, I ended up with two vampires working over my poor depleted veins by the end because of all the vials needed. Now it was time to go home and wait, and wait, and yes, wait some more.
A month later I went back to see him and find out what the tests had revealed. The first thing he told me was no, I did not have Lupus. Here I took a deep breath; I hadn’t even realized I was holding my breath. And then he said that I didn’t have RA (rheumatoid arthritis), which had been up on the possible list. He told me that my blood work showed I had arthritis and that I would show a positive ANA from now on. I also still had a high SED rate, but that could be due to my arthritis flaring up. He said not to count Lupus out in my future, but for now I didn’t have. I just carried the markers for it.
So here I was back at the beginning point. True by this time, I was no longer losing weight and my hair though still thin, wasn’t falling out in clumps. But still I had no answers as to why I was always exhausted. I didn’t figure that one out until I was going over my paperwork from the visit and I looked at my list of diagnosis’. There in bold black type were the words Chronic Fatigue Syndrome. I had never heard of it and none of my doctors had ever mentioned the diagnosis with me. So the inquisitive beast I am, I quickly put it into my search engines and started reading. My first stop was here http://www.mayoclinic.org/disease-conditions/chronic-fatigue-syndrome
The more I read the more I kept saying yes, that’s right. That’s how I feel. It felt good to have a name to associate with the symptoms I had been fighting for over fifteen years. I now knew that it wasn’t in my head, or that I was making it up to get out of doing things. I actually had a reason for the way I felt. My journey of discovery didn’t end with the Mayo Clinic website. It opened up a whole new world of support from people who had been through the same thing as I had. People who I could talk to about what I was experiencing and they understood.
Chronic Fatigue Syndrome or as it is also known Myalgic Encephalomyelitis has an informative site at http://www.name-us.org. I urge anyone interested in learning more to check out the two sites listed or do your own web search. And if you feel like this sounds like what you are going through, take the information to your doctor so that they can run the tests needed to diagnose it.
As a writer, I sit here sometimes and just the thought of moving my fingers to type wears me out, but I have decided that I am not going to let my health determine my destiny. I will fight through the exhaustion. And yes, there are days it kicks my butt and I have to back down. I have to step away from the computer and go lay down. You know, I don’t let those days make me feel less anymore. I let them make the good days feel like I am the best. And that I can do great things. So until next time. Stay positive and healthy. And keep doing what makes you happy and fulfilled.

Friday, August 12, 2016

Steps.

   
  In my life, silence has always played a very important role. You see I grew up in a household ruled by silence. I grew up in a house ruled by Mental Illness. One of the biggest things I remember growing up was that we must always be quiet. As a child you have this instinctive need to run, jump and yell. You are young, you have joy at being alive. Unless it is taken from you that is.
   When I was little, I never knew the name for the disorder that ruled our lives, and when I call it a disorder I truly mean disorder. As I understand it now, that is what my Dad’s life felt like to him. Disordered. My Dad suffered from Schizophrenia.
   At his worst moments, when his demons were so loud in his mind that he could hear nothing but them. When he struggled not to listen to them and follow what they asked of him. Those times when he hid himself away in the back of closets to keep from harming anyone; especially one of us kids. That is when we had to be quiet. We had to in a way hide ourselves away from his demons as to not awaken their attention to us. It was in these quiet moments that I began to write. To slip into my own world where I could be carefree and alive. Not a solemn shadow of a girl in a corner.
   I remember watching my Dad stand in the middle of our bright and cheerful kitchen. It was painted sunshine yellow and had large windows. And he would stand there like a thunderstorm threatening to drive the sunshine away. He would beat on his chest, like if he hit himself hard enough the pain would go away. His eyes shadowed with confusion, as he moved to the wall and started banging his head against it. I think he thought it would quiet the voices, but then he would start banging his head harder and harder. All of sudden our house would no longer be silent; my mom would start yelling at him to stop. And the yelling would scare my younger brothers and they would begin to cry. Chaos would take hold.
   Not long after, I would gather my brothers and go across the street to the neighbor’s house, he would then go back to help my Mom calm down my Dad. We would usually return the next day to begin the silence once again. Never knowing when something would trigger the explosions so prevalent in our lives.
   All the while my Dad battled his demons, my mother had her own demons because she also suffered from Mental Illness. Yeah, I got lucky with my gene pool. Studies show children born to parents who both have a mental illness are 50%-75% more likely to suffer it themselves. I’m glad I didn’t know that until I started group therapy for my Bipolar disorder. It would have really bugged me. 
   You may think my childhood sounds like hell, but it wasn’t. On my Dad’s good days; when he had the demons under control. On those days he was the best Dad. He was loving, had a great sense of humor and let his only little girl put makeup on him and put hair rollers and barrettes in his hair. Some of my favorite memories are of him coming to the dinner table and still have my “makeover” present and usually he had a barrette or two still in his hair. He was the Dad that would let the boys crawl all over him like he was a jungle gym. That’s the thing about being mentally ill, you can still live a normal life. You just have to live it within limits.
   I didn’t know that either one of my parents battled with their demons or anything about what caused them. Not until I was a teenager and I started asking questions about the past and about things that were surfacing in my mind that apparently I had blocked out. Things too traumatic to handle as a child, but somehow had enough impact to cause a change to my core personality. When my own mental illness reared its ugly head. That is when I began the journey back down the rabbit hole of my memories to the quiet; to the act of silence that was my beginning.
  I worried that I would suffer the same disorder, that with one wrong turn his demons would find me. How do you know if it is you or if it is your fears that make you ill. I am sure that this must be a fear many children of mentally ill parents suffer. You wonder if you are projecting their psychosis' onto yourself. 
  Sometimes I think this is where my Anxiety/Panic disorder was born. The constant fear and anxiety I grew up with. I only know that even today, I battle the crippling fear that one day I will wake up and my demons will have started whispering in my ear, and I won't be able to shut them out. I know I will never live my life quietly. I will scream to be heard above the rest. To shatter the silence.

   If you have ever known someone battling mental illness or want to know more, do your research. I found a lot of information at www.mentalhealthamerica.net

   If you ever feel you need to talk to someone please call the Crisis Line, the number is 1-800-273-TALK (8255)

Tuesday, August 9, 2016

The Act of Silence

 

In my life, silence has always played a very important role. You see I grew up in a household ruled by silence. I grew up in a house ruled by Mental Illness. One of the biggest things I remember growing up was that we must always be quiet. As a child you have this instinctive need to run, jump and yell. You are young, you have joy at being alive. Unless it is taken from you that is.
   When I was little, I never knew the name for the disorder that ruled our lives, and when I call it a disorder I truly mean disorder. As I understand it now, that is what my Dad’s life felt like to him. Disordered. My Dad suffered from Schizophrenia.
   At his worst moments, when his demons were so loud in his mind that he could hear nothing but them. When he struggled not to listen to them and follow what they asked of him. Those times when he hid himself away in the back of closets to keep from harming anyone; especially one of us kids. That is when we had to be quiet. We had to in a way hide ourselves away from his demons as to not awaken their attention to us. It was in these quiet moments that I began to write. To slip into my own world where I could be carefree and alive. Not a solemn shadow of a girl in a corner.
   I remember watching my Dad stand in the middle of our bright and cheerful kitchen. It was painted sunshine yellow and had large windows. And he would stand there like a thunderstorm threatening to drive the sunshine away. He would beat on his chest, like if he hit himself hard enough the pain would go away. His eyes shadowed with confusion, as he moved to the wall and started banging his head against it. I think he thought it would quiet the voices, but then he would start banging his head harder and harder. All of sudden our house would no longer be silent; my mom would start yelling at him to stop. And the yelling would scare my younger brothers and they would begin to cry. Chaos would take hold.
   Not long after, I would gather my brothers and go across the street to the neighbor’s house, he would then go back to help my Mom calm down my Dad. We would usually return the next day to begin the silence once again. Never knowing when something would trigger the explosions so prevalent in our lives.
   All the while my Dad battled his demons, my mother had her own demons because she also suffered from Mental Illness. Yeah, I got lucky with my gene pool. Studies show children born to parents who both have a mental illness are 50%-75% more likely to suffer it themselves. I’m glad I didn’t know that until I started group therapy for my Bipolar disorder. It would have really bugged me.
   You may think my childhood sounds like hell, but it wasn’t. On my Dad’s good days; when he had the demons under control. On those days he was the best Dad. He was loving, had a great sense of humor and let his only little girl put makeup on him and put hair rollers and barrettes in his hair. Some of my favorite memories are of him coming to the dinner table and still have my “makeover” present and usually he had a barrette or two still in his hair. He was the Dad that would let the boys crawl all over him like he was a jungle gym. That’s the thing about being mentally ill, you can still live a normal life. You just have to live it within limits.
   I didn’t know that either one of my parents battled with their demons or anything about what caused them. Not until I was a teenager and I started asking questions about the past and about things that were surfacing in my mind that apparently I had blocked out. Things too traumatic to handle as a child, but somehow had enough impact to cause a change to my core personality. When my own mental illness reared its ugly head. That is when I began the journey back down the rabbit hole of my memories to the quiet; to the act of silence that was my beginning.
  I worried that I would suffer the same disorder, that with one wrong turn his demons would find me. How do you know if it is you or if it is your fears that make you ill. I am sure that this must be a fear many children of mentally ill parents suffer. You wonder if you are projecting their psychosis' onto yourself. 
  Sometimes I think this is where my Anxiety/Panic disorder was born. The constant fear and anxiety I grew up with. I only know that even today, I battle the crippling fear that one day I will wake up and my demons will have started whispering in my ear, and I won't be able to shut them out. I know I will never live my life quietly. I will scream to be heard above the rest. To shatter the silence.

   If you have ever known someone battling mental illness or want to know more, do your research. I found a lot of information at www.mentalhealthamerica.net

   If you ever feel you need to talk to someone please call the Crisis Line, the number is 1-800-273-TALK (8255)

Thursday, August 4, 2016

Beginnings.

  As the title suggests this post is about beginnings. I wanted to write about my journey as a writer as well as my daily struggle with living a someone who is not only Bipolar, but also fights a battle to overcome Anxiety/Panic disorder. Which on most days is the biggest obstacle in my life.
  I have also just recently as in the month before last been diagnosed with Chronic Fatigue Syndrome. So I thought this would be a good place to write about my beginning journey of learning more about the disease and how to learn to add coping with it to my list of others.
  I guess I should start at the beginning with my self and an introduction. My name is Rita Buster but as you may have already guessed that is not the name I write under. I am forty-nine yrs. young, soon to be the dreaded (at least by me) fifty. I am the oldest of three children and the only girl. My dad worked as a garbageman and my mom when she worked was a CNA(certified nurse assistant).
  I didn't grow up with a lot, it was a struggle for my Dad just to keep a roof over our head and food on the table. He was one of the best men I ever knew and I miss him every day. My Mom preferred to stay at home rather than work, but as you can imagine she didn't get to do that often. All three of us kids learned to live without. To us those rare occasions that Dad had time off were more important than anything you could buy.
  Don't get me wrong, I was like any other kid and would have loved to have had the latest gadget or toy. To not be wearing hand me downs from older cousins and Goodwill. You just learn to not ask for them, because you know the answer is going to be no and sometimes you would get the look of sorrow that they had to say no. 
  We all lived in a small town in West Central Illinois, not far from the state capitol. I actually spent most of my life in that same town, only leaving for good at the age of thirty-eight. It was one of those towns where everybody seemed to know everybody else. And compared to other places I could have been raised, I think it was pretty good.
  My Dad being a garbageman meant most everybody knew him, so it was kind of cool. He was well liked and people were always stopping and asking how the family was. I never knew what it meant for my last name not to be well known in the town I lived until I moved away and no one had ever heard of my family or last name and I kind of went through a shock.
  It was weird but in the same light it was freeing because now I could stand on my own and not be overshadowed by the family or our name. Sorry, you will find I am a bit of a rambler. So up until I left Illinois I was a daughter, a student, and a wife. Those were my identities. 
  Early in my childhood, I learned to be quiet and disappear. That is when I began building the incredible worlds that I write about now. In my future blogs I will go further into detail as to the whys and hows of what led to my quiet moments. 
  I hope that you will come back and check out my next post. I promise it won't be so all over the place. I just wanted to get you started on the glimpses into my world.