I’m So Much Better, But Not Yet Great

Christmas TreeHello there friends, Merry Christmas!  I love this season, all the music, decorations, bustle and bells.  But in the midst of all of that…many of us are still dealing with the same challenges, perhaps trying to move them to the back burner while we’re cooking up holiday surprises.  I would love to sit here and wax on about the joys of the season…and I promise I will in my next post!  However, today, this post is for those who are “in it with me”. Who know how hard the journey has been, and that it isn’t over yet.  Whether you are facing a challenge today yourself, or if you are just empathizing with me for my sake, thank you, sincerely, for sharing a moment with me here ❤

This morning, I had an appointment with my GP (general practitioner) doctor for 2 reasons. First, I need his authorization every time I need to see a specialist and I am due for a check in with the OBGYN for the large ovarian cyst that they found during my hospital stay.The second reason was for pain management – which is a nicer way to say I was about out of my pain meds and my gastro refuses to write a script, and keeps kicking me to the GP even though he knows the GP hates to dole out narcotics.

Now, a few things are wrong with this whole situation.  First of all, in the past, when I’ve been hospitalized with my Crohn’s, it’s always taken about 6 months to truly get back on my feet – working, exercise, stable emotionally, and off the pain meds.  We are at an even 5 months since I was released from the hospital, but only 3 weeks off the steroids, (by ditching those, I started eating normally, lost weight, less stress, no more bone damage…but lost energy, and have more pain, it can apparently takes months for the body to re-adjust).  I have started Cimzia, the biologic inject-able which will be a long term maitnence dosage, however that can take 3 months to fully kick in before we can asses if it’s even the right treatment for me.  We are 2 months in.

All of that to say, I’m back to some work and exercise, still not sleeping, and all of these things are made easier with a little oxy. Now, I know it’s addictive, I know people have issues with it, and the fact that I need it still is embarrassing at best, and frustrating at worst.  I have, in the past, always been able to wean myself off without any outside help, but it genuinely takes a long time for my body to rebuild it’s strength.  In this case, I have been sick, in pain, not sleeping, battling my Crohn’s and gut infection out of control for a solid year before I was admitted. That means a year of mal-nutrition, muscle depletion, and un-rest, (we won’t even go into the emotional issues and the over all effect of this on our new marriage), from which my body is trying to recover.

DoctorPillsMy gastroenterologist said that it was “annoying” to take a test every 2 years to get certified to dispense pain meds, so he has sent me to several doctors, and even suggested that I just go to the ER when I needed a refill.  The GP I found to work with is so understanding, and was willing to help me, but was upset at being put in that situation, and I don’t blame him!  Also, he is retiring in 2 weeks, so then what?  He ended up filling the scrips, suggesting an anti-depressant to help me sleep, and wished me luck.

I felt awful sitting there in his office.  I was clearly stuck in the middle of these doctors and the state regulation, and felt bad asking the doctor for anything!  In fact, the hubby still doesn’t like the fact that we’ve had to return to western medicine after trying to use purely natural and holistic methods for the last year. However, I had walked in feeling pretty good about the fact that I had been biking and exercising, and gotten myself down to 1/2 a pill a day vs. the 2 full doses a day I was on when I first went to see him.  But to him, he just saw a young woman who looked like she should be well, and didn’t believe I should have been on anything to begin with…and admits that he knows very little about my disease and nothing about the Cimzia I’m taking. He thinks I should get a new gastro, but it was hard enough to find this one who has a pretty good beside manner, and was willing to work at the level of treatment I needed.  There’s the rub my friends.  I wish I could have just one doctor taking care of me, who can see the whole picture, who understands some of the unique factors in my case and the way I’ve dealt with it over the years.  In fact, as I sat there listening to his frustration with silent tears running down my face, all I could think of was that if only he knew how bad it had been, how many doctors had thrown up thier hands and said they couldn’t help me, and how hard I had worked to get back to “good”, and how I wouldn’t be crying if I hadn’t had to drive my husband to work at 3:30 in the morning because the Army is crazy and neither of us got any sleep last night.

As I walked away from his office with 3 scripts in hand, I pondered how there was no way my husband was going to let me use an anti-depressant after what he’d seen his veteran friends go through.  I also thought about how low it feels to “need” something no one wants to give you, even if they agree you need it.  I thought about how I needed to be at my best to straighten out some work stuff today, and probably wouldn’t be because of the sleep deprivation.  At least I’d have some meds to make me more comfortable right?  Nope!  The pharmacy was “out of stock” and won’t be able to fill them for several days.  Sigh.

Here is the deal – the main reason I feel the need for all this medication is because society isn’t made to let us rest.  I can’t take more time to heal, life is moving on and I need to move on with it or get left behind!  I already feel like I’ve missed so much, even lost some friends, let people down, and been forgotten in my hibernation. I want to wake up!  I want it to be summer in my life again!

So what to do?  I don’t know.  The government has made insurance more messy, so we (doctors, nurses, patients), spend a lot of time making phone calls, filing papers, and making less than necessary appointments to meet requirements and at the end of the day, I’m not really any better off than I started. I just feel a little worse about my situation, and really want to move it to that back burner again.

IMG_20141227_175335To end on a positive note…as frustrating and embarrassing and upsetting as all this is…I don’t want to seem ungrateful – because I’m not!  Just yesterday as I rode my new bike in the sunshine I was counting my many blessings.  Any way you slice it, I am so much stronger than I was this time last year, physically, spiritually, and mentally. God has been so good, and stood by me though it all.  I may not understand Him all the time, but I see His hand in the little things…in the beauty of a blue sky, the loyalty of a little dog, the laughter two people share.  When I see these gifts I know it’s true,

“For we are God’s handiwork, created in Christ Jesus to do good works, which God prepared in advance for us to do.”

I’m so un-worthy, yet I am encouraged – may I complete those good works, and be a blessing to this world before I am called home.  May it be true for you as well.

Much love to you today dear friend, and thank you again for being “in it with me”.  ~ Morgen

Finding Florida

Hello faithful friends!  I see that it has been way too long since I updated, I’m sorry!  My Crohn’s was not treating me kindly the last few weeks, and a dear friend took me for a much needed retreat into sunshine and quiet.  I’ve missed your feedback in my life, so I’ll briefly share some of what is going on.  Specifically, how grateful I am that we landed where we did – and only God knew how perfect it would be.

Image

This month I had planned for my husband to be gone at training – however, a minor injury kept him here for the time being.  Bonus – I don’t have to miss him yet!  However, I had planned an ultra busy Girl-A-Thon to keep my mind off his absence, so now he’s here in the midst of it!  First, our dear friend Michelle came down to stay for the month and help me manage the house and animals.  It’s been cool to show her our organic market, juicing, and starting garden.  I think she’s still in a bit of shock at our health-focused life-style, but that’s ok.

Next, my MOH4LIFE, (maid of honor, Lorri), came down to wisk me away to a nearby resort so that I could lay in the sun and get some R&R.  We’ve found in the past that whenever my disease gets bad, a few days of complete rest, stress free, with lots of sunshine make a huge difference.  So we hit the pool, took naps, and braved the “lazy river” for a week.  The most excitement we had was seeing a real live Alligator!  Trust me, as a new Floridian, that was a mile-stone for me.  We  got so close! And then a passing golfer offered to get even closer and took a great picture.  I feel much better – but still have a ways to go…

Image

Finally, we’ll finish the month with my new sister-in-law, Rachele, spending her Spring Break with us.  She’s a senior at the Air Force Academy now, so I warned her our lives are not conducive to an MTV-style vacay.  She assured me she’s looking for the rest and peace we hope she’ll find here in our little oasis.  Sigh, I feel so incredibly fortunate that we landed here.  Since we were married in November, we’ve had at least 1 Chicago visitor a month – sometimes their work brings them, sometimes it’s just for fun, but we’re always glad to see friendly faces and share life while we can!

I think back to this time one year ago….Ed was leaving Europe for good to come to the states, and we’d found out he was going to be stationed here.  When he originally put in his request, we were only a few months into dating, but he asked me to list the top 3 cities where’d I’d like to visit my boyfriend.  We put Chicago, then places in Florida and Texas, (I have other family there.)  When he got the email with his final destination, he was disappointed, and I had mixed emotions.  I’ve always loved Florida  and savored the excuse to visit…but we really had to talk about continuing to make the long-distance work.  That was a hard conversation, I felt laid bare as I humbly asked for his thoughts on the future, bracing myself for the possibility that the reality of dating a girl so far away would lose it’s appeal next to the tanned and toned bodies readily available in his new home.  He never wavered – and I was relieved.  As it turned out, I only flew south once before moving down here – most of our visits were him coming here, (I had to work weekends so it was harder for me to get away), ironic right?

Yet, now that we are here, we’ve met so many people who have made us feel welcome.  The first hair-cut I ever got, my stylist has Crohn’s that she’s healing naturally.  My massage therapist practices homeopathy and grows all her own organic food. Our church teaches taking care of the soul, and the body in natural God-given ways.  How could we ever have known that these individuals were waiting for us?  It’s true what they say, home is where the heart is, and ours is certainly happy right here.

The Fox and the Hound

Already a family of 3, can't wait for Foxy to meet her new furry sister!

Already a family of 3, can’t wait for Foxy to meet her new furry sister!

Yet another reason I know I’m meant to marry this man...we adopted a puppy this week.

I was gearing up for a huge event weekend with work, Ed was knee-deep in housing paper-work for us, and we are still living on opposite ends of the country.  Oh wait, and we’re planning a wedding in 6 weeks.  Perfect timing for God to do something sweet, just because He is loving.  So here’s what happened:

I had (secretly) been looking for puppies for Ed to give him as a wedding present, because he really wanted a German Shepard or large farm dog that he could run with…that could protect the house…and herd children. (Ed is a futuristic thinker.)  I kept coming up against road-blocks, pure-breds were super expensive, adoption agencies asked for so many references and applications…I finally threw up my hands and said, “Lord, I can’t spend any more time on this, if you think we should have another dog, you’re going to have to drop it in our laps like You did with Foxy Zazu.” (My awesome-friendly-spunky Pomeranian who I found free to a good home on Craigslist 3 years ago.)

In the pound

In the pound

2 days later, my room-mate sent me a text saying that 40 dogs were looking for homes at this shelter or they would be put down.  Now, normally I don’t respond to mass texts and guilt trips.  But there was a number, and I felt the nudge…so I thought I could at least call.  Well, that call had me talking to Mindy and her fiance in Colorado, who had never heard of my room-mate, but had been posting like mad on Facebook to get these dogs saved.  Turned out, it was a friend of theirs that worked for a shelter way down in Georgia who was trying to save the dogs.

Ed picked her up in GA..you're free!

Ed picked her up in GA..you’re free!

I decided it was time to get Ed involved, his instincts are always solid in these situations, so I texted him the info.  He called me back and said, “Baby, we can’t save all the animals in the world, what people should be doing is shutting down these shelters and letting the dogs go free!”  I heard him out before I said calmly, “Honey, I know, I wouldn’t normally jump on something like this…but I’ve been praying about getting a dog for us, and specifically asked for God to send us one if we should, and I just think we should call and see-” The intrepid man in my life cut me off, “I hear you baby, I hear you.  Ok, I’ll give them a call and see what’s up.”  I always said I needed a man who was more compassionate than I was, and Ed is totally that.

So the rest of the day Mindy kept checking in to see if she could help, Ed kept calling this Maria chick in GA, and I was in meetings all day getting text updates.  When Ed finally got through he texted me to look at the

The Fox...

The Fox…

Facebook page and see which dogs I liked, (Awful!  who can make that decision?) , but I told him to choose, this would be his, “man dog”, as Foxy is certainly not.

The Hound!

Liberty Belle, safe at home.

Everything worked out!  Ed choose a little girl puppy, she’s 4 months old, and a bloodhound.  Ed says, “if Foxy or one of the kids get’s lost, this dog will track them down!” (Again, to clarify, we do not have kids yet.)  He drove up to GA over the weekend, and picked her up.  We named her Liberty Belle, and after hearing the story, my astonished room-mate who never thought anything would come of her random act of activism is convinced this dog will save our lives one day.  Praise the Lord, we have a hound dog.  Are we Southern enough yet?

Already a Wife and Mom

On Joy's Wedding Day, 2008

On Joy’s Wedding Day, 2008

Love, laughter and music abounds in my life, as I am a freelance performer, composer and teacher. I am blessed with my husband, Ethan, and two (soon to be three!) little ones – Peter and Zoe. They constantly keep me on my toes as I have learned to balance my ambitions, friendships, and family.

I met Morgen ten years ago when we sold Cutco knives together.  When we first met I had no idea we would have such an impacting and lasting friendship. She has challenged, supported, encouraged, and been beside me through more ups and downs to count! In 2008, I had the privilege of having her next to me on my own wedding day.

Baby #1

Baby #1

Now, I’m absolutely thrilled to have the chance to stand up with Morgen as she and Ed start their new life together! I met Edward really early on and I could tell there was love in the air from the very start! I’m excited to see how they will create new community together in Florida and all the future plans God has in store for them. Without a doubt, Ed is a man of honor who I know will take exceptional care of Morgen. I’m so glad to know she’ll be in the best of hands.