WEGO Health – HAWMC 2012

HAWMC: My Word Cloud

Today is the last day for April’s HAWMC prompts and our challenge was to make a word cloud using the website Wordle. I chose to do my word cloud using words to describe how my vestibular disorder affects me physically and mentally as well as a few of the things I have lost.

It was great the way it turned out. If you click on the image so that it opens in a new window and you look at it for a few moments, hopefully you get a bit of the 3-D effect I saw. That effect represents the very off-balance way of life for me now as does the layout of the words, which Wordle calls “any which way”. Some days, depending on how my ears are behaving, any which way is exactly how I feel I could end up if I move around too much.

Here’s a list of the words I used. They include what has happened to me, the 5 stages of grief that I and many people with chronic illnesses go through, how I feel some days and some hope with the words healing and humour.

 

Ears
Balance
Vertigo
Disequilibrium
Bobbing
Invisible-chronic-illness
Chronic-illness
Vestibular-disorder
Sunshine
Chaos
Off-balance
Spinning
Loss-of-independence
Loss-of-job
Loss-of-stability
Limbo
Disability
Loneliness
Anger
Grief
Acceptance
Bargaining
Denial
Brain-fog
Stress
Healing
Humour

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HAWMC: Philosoraptor Questions And Business Cat

We can do what we want for today’s HAWMC prompt. After having a record-breaking heat wave last month where all the snow melted, today we have rain.

And snow.

During rush hour.

So, I’m doing another post from the site meme generator featuring Philosoraptor and Business Cat. Laugh…must laugh.

HAWMC: George Clooney, Stem Cells And Learning To Not Give A F***!

Today’s HAWMC prompt is to “write what you want today”. I’ve put together a variety of chronic illness links that I hope you will find informative.

Movie stars. When all is said and done, they really are just like us. The website Invisible Disabilities Association has the article  George Clooney Battles Pain, Insomnia and Bouts of Loneliness.

The world’s first bedside DNA test tells doctors about a patient’s genes in minutes instead of waiting days for blood test results. This particular test, which British medical journal The Lancet has signaled as a first, looks for a version of a gene that complicates treatment of some patients who have stent surgery because of a drug that is used, Plavix.

More Canadian doctors making discoveries. A scientist has discovered a gene that could heal heart muscle after a heart attack. This same gene could also help cancer patients.

A vaccine that stimulates the body’s immune system to produce the antibodies that prevents heart disease by cutting up to 70% of fat from arteries is being tested at Lund University in Sweden. The vaccine would be administered either through injection or nasal spray and could be available in 5 years.

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An appeal on Facebook for a bald Barbie to help young girls dealing with the loss of their hair, or the loss of hair of a loved one due to illness, was heard by Mattel. They will be introducing someone new, a friend of Barbie who is also bald. Barbie’s friend will come with various head covering such as wigs and scarves. The new dolls will be sent directly to hospitals for donation and distribution in 2013.

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Wearing a pink tutu was Bob Carey’s way of expressing himself when he and his wife Linda moved to the east coast. He felt his life was taking, in a wonderful way, a 180 degree turn from what he knew. Life really did make a 180 degree turn when Linda was diagnosed with breast cancer in 2003 and again in 2006. From The Tutu Project web site: 

Oddly enough, her cancer has taught us that life is good, dealing with it can be hard, and sometimes the very best thing—no, the only thing—we can do to face another day is to laugh at ourselves, and share a laugh with others.

The self-portraits of Bob wearing his pink tutu, and some humourous stories, will become a book to be published this fall called Ballerina, with net proceeds going directly to breast cancer organizations.

How Xeni Jardin’s Cancer Struggle Redefines Community and Journalism is a Forbes article that talks about Boing Boing’s editor, Xeni Jardin, who is undergoing treatment for breast cancer. She decided to get a mammogram because of the experience of a friend and tweet throughout her own mammogram procedure where she, and we, learned that she had breast cancer.  Xeni has continued to tweet about her experiences and is currently undergoing chemotherapy.

Those of us living with chronic illness have been judged by people we know and by strangers, based on how sick we look and what activities we are able to do or not do. We have to learn to not let their judgements about us affect us and how we live. I know the post isn’t about chronic illness specifically, but I believe it can help those of us who live with chronic illnesses to deal with being judged. Julien Smith of In Over Your Head has written The Complete Guide to Not Giving a F***!  (NSFW language).

All of us are affected by mental illness. All of us. Either we are the ones with a mental illness or we know someone who has a mental illness. And, even though it is being talked more openly, there is still a stigma. Mary Walker Baron talks about the stigma of mental illness and how talking about mental illness should be as normal as talking about a cold.

HAWMC: My Best Doctor’s Visit EVER! It Really Is All In My Head.

(Image via freestockphotos.biz)

Today I am using one of the bonus prompts, which is “describe my best doctor’s visit”.

This won’t come as a surprise to those who are living with chronic illness, but the day I FINALLY received a diagnosis was, and still is, the best doctor’s visit ever. It took over five years before I had a diagnosis.

It was a beautiful fall day. Sunny, warm and the summer’s humidity was long gone. It was so comfortable to be outside. The ENT’s office is only about 5 blocks away and I took a cab to my appointment. Even though the office is close to me, I didn’t want to take a chance on missing the appointment. I can walk very short distances, but some days, walking two blocks is pushing things.

The doctor explained that my health issues involved my ears. So many things that couldn’t be explained by the other specialists started falling into place. So many things started making sense. I became my own chronic illness detective by connecting the dots and solving some of my health mysteries.

In the way that having a cold leads to not feeling well and then getting cranky, I could make sense of some of the various symptoms of my, until then, mystery illness. A lead to B lead to C. Ears giving me problems, adrenaline goes up, feel very warm even though I didn’t have a temperature. Sudden changes in weather, ear problems amplified, walking two blocks becomes a marathon.

When I walked home from the appointment that day (yes, I said walked home because I was that happy to have a diagnosis), I felt like I was floating on air. I was elated! I was euphoric! I smiled from ear-to-ear! I finally had an answer! And that’s what anyone with an unknown chronic illness wants – answers.

We all deal with various battles where our chronic illnesses are concerned and so many times we are being reactive instead of proactive. At least, that’s how I felt and still feel most days. Although the doctor couldn’t tell me the specific diagnosis and reason why my ears were giving me problems (he said it is common with vestibular problems to not know the cause), I had a diagnosis from a specialist that, yes, something is physically wrong with me. It wasn’t psychological – “in my head” – the overused diagnosis doctors give when they don’t know what is happening with you and you don’t present with symptoms that can easily lead to a diagnosis. This, wrongly, continues to happen to so many of us.

In the end, ironically, my best doctor’s visit ever confirmed that yes, not only is something physically wrong with me, (and since the ears are in the head) it really is all in my head.

HAWMC: What Did I Pin?

Today’s prompt asks us to create a Pinterest board for our health focus and to pin three things.  As my illness affects me differently each day, so does what I think about.  This is what I’m thinking about right now.

(Image by Martin Kucera via floridalightning.com)

This image by Martin Kucera at http://www.floridalightning.com reminds me what I am like with brain fog. I can only see what is close to me and, even then, fog has enveloped it. I quickly lose interest in things because it’s hard to think and concentrate.

(Image by me using http://www.keepcalm-o-matic.co.uk/)

Even though our chronic illnesses can take over our lives, we must keep living. There will be some bad days and some really bad days. But, we must be aware of, enjoy and appreciate the good things that happen to us and around us, no matter how big or small.

Photo by me from the post of  my first attempt at loom knitting

Keep learning!!! This year I am going to learn how to do a few different things to keep the hands and mind active. So far I’ve tried haiku and loom knitting. That’s supposed to be a preemie hat. Don’t judge, it was my first attempt. Last week I received my supplies to do jewelry making with resin clay (a.k.a. apoxie clay) and I will get back to drawing.

HAWMC: 10 Things I Love And Need

Today’s HAWMC prompt is to write a list of the 10 things I need and love.

(All images via http://www.freestockphotos.biz unless otherwise indicated)

My computer, laptop and internet. As so many people with chronic illnesses already know, one person’s luxuries are another person’s necessities. Computers and the internet are our necessities and it means we can get connected with others, see what’s happening in the world, find information and so much more.


Beautiful fall days. I love them. The temperature is wonderful, the low humidity means my sinuses and ears aren’t affected and that is heaven, the changing colours are gorgeous and no pollens to aggravate the allergies…it’s the perfect time of year for me.

My fans. I have 2 fans, as you can see. The oscillating fan that I keep on my desk and the box fan that I put in the window when the temperatures get too hot. Must stay as cool as possible.

My Walkman. So many ways to soothe the soul. I have music, books and comedians to listen to and enjoy on my Walkman.

(Image via Amazon.com)

A heating pad. For those achy days. We all have them. It’s like a warm hug.

(Images via Amazon.com)

Wonder wash and counter top spin dryer. Walking to the laundry mat in the winter can be hazardous if the sidewalks are icy or not clear. Having to keep looking up and down starts to make my head spin and I have to return home with dirty clothes. And humid, summer days affecting my sinuses and ears means I may be feeling like I’ve just had a turn in the washing machine.  I found this solution on Amazon. I can do a quick wash and the spin dryer gets out more water than I can by hand-wringing (a luxury or a necessity, depending on how I’m feeling that day).  I hang the clothes to let them to dry and I’m good to go with clean clothes. They don’t replace a washer and dryer, but they’re great in a pinch.

Medication. Along with the prescriptions, I also take allergy and vitamins pills. When I’m not feeling that great, I don’t eat that well, so every little bit helps.

Reading. It doesn’t matter – books, newspapers, magazines – I enjoy them all. If I were rich, my house would have a sunny room dedicated as a library.

(Image via Stashtea.com)

Stash Chai tea. My favourite tea. Don’t serve me any other brand of chai tea. It’s not the same, so don’t even try. Also, hot chocolate with a bag of chai tea steeped in it is wonderful on cold and dreary days.

My cell phone. Not the dude, just the phone. I rarely use it but always take it with me when I leave the house.  If I start feeling sick can call a cab to bring me home. Even if I’m only a couple of blocks away from home ( I can’t walk far), I don’t want to risk the dizziness making me lose my balance and veer into traffic.

HAWMC – Make A Keep Calm Poster

Today’s prompt has us making a “Keep Calm and Carry On” poster that relates to our chronic illness. I chose “Keep Calm and Keep Living” because, quite simply, that is what we must do. Having a chronic illness changes so many parts of our lives but we must keep living the best way we can! You may not win the battle with your chronic illness but don’t give up and don’t let your illness defeat you.