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.



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.


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.


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.