Thursday, June 25, 2009

How Can I Use the Cross I Bear?

You might have read my earlier post about Oprah. Well, I was watching her show this morning, and it was about a situation that was tragic all around. A harried, over-tired, busy mother had managed to leave her baby in the car, in a car seat ALL DAY while she worked, thinking in her subconscious that she had dropped the baby off at daycare that morning as intended. It was an extremely hot day, like we are having here in Chicago now, and the baby died of severe heat stroke.

I can just think about how it must have happened for the little baby, because babies are so much more susceptible ... And to think, I was just bitching on Facebook that after a few hours of sun and heat the other day without proper hydration and rest in the a/c, I went home and vomited, with sunburn and muscle "weirdness." All signs of heat exhaustion. But that's not the point.

I can only imagine (didn't hear them talk about this, or I missed this part) that the parents, especially the mother, have had a TON of therapy to get to the point of some peace where they now seem to be. I mean, the mother still cries upon speaking about her daughter EACH time of course, and when she heard the 9-1-1 calls from that day when passersby had finally seen the baby in the car, too late. Who wouldn't? But she could speak in a positive way about life, about the baby's life NOT being in vain, about going on Oprah to share a story about having led a life that got so busy and crazy and harried that she got to that point...And she said something that really resonated with me.

The mother said that for whatever reason, she's "been given THIS to bear." And she asks herself how she can USE it, how she can make sure it doesn't just go to waste or just turn toxic (I am paraphrasing the conversation here). She's trying to use her proverbial cross that she now must bear in order to produce a life that honors her baby and honors the lessons learned so tragically. I was amazed.

I will be the first to admit that I spend a lot of time in my head, thinking about the what-ifs, and the already-are's and even the have-been-already-in-the-past's. And I'm talking about the ones that revolve around ME, ME, ME and MY situation, MY desperation, MY illness, MY pain ... oh, we can go on and on down that road once we get started, can't we? And I have, and I still at times do, although I have also had therapy and try to better myself. This is why I wanted to write today.

I wonder, as we all might think about, how can I use my cross that I have been given to bear, to live an illuminated and illuminating life? I think at one time I was a bit better at this, learning to laugh in the face of fear, learning to smile even in pain, not to act like it wasn't there, but to be strong even in the midst of trouble. But the past few years were even more difficult than ever before, and I know I have sometimes let depression and hopelessness and even bitterness over situations get the best of me. How can I do things differently? How can I use what I've been given? How can I learn to see it that way, to begin with?

First of all, a brief history of what I've been dealing with, MY CROSS, if you will. As readers of my blog might know, I have a long history battling with terribly-debilitating migraine headaches. They started as infrequent but awful, with no remedy but a trip to the Urgent Care center for a pain medication shot. Then I began to see doctors, who prescribed me my own prescription shots and other things to try and keep me from having to do make those trips. Back then, about 13 years ago, I had great medical insurance, beginning with my parents' coverage and then with a full-time job I had at the time. Going to the doctor, filling my all-important medications at the pharmacy, and even making a trip to the Urgent Care Center if necessary, were nothing in terms of money. I would pay a $15 - $40 co-pay maybe? A lot of it was free under an HMO that we had. You could just go to your doctor so many times a year, etc. But oh, how those things have changed.

I was also diagnosed with dysthimia, which I think I spelled right. It's like an ongoing, low-grade depression. From what I understand, people who suffer from this are often the ones who are not, you know, like just unable to leave the bed, or just can't function, or just can't stop eating or can't eat at all ... not suicidal...those things we think of with Depression. And yet, we are depressed, often or all the time. We just don't have a sense of well-being, we don't get up looking forward to our day, we sort have a dark cloud over us, just wishing and hoping and wondering whether life should be more than this? One doctor diagnosed me with a worse depression (Major Recurring Depression), but it's very subjective, you know? It depends how well and how often I communicate what I've been dealing with, and how well he understands, his perspective, etc. Who knows exactly what I have? But I think that, while a small component might be a biological, chemical imbalance ... the situation with the migraines and the increasing stress and pain (physical, mental, emotional) that they began to cause ... is what has usually made me feel "depressed."

Over the years, as so very many of us know, it got more costly to get medication, to see doctors, to see specialists, and certainly to visit an Emergency Room or whatever. That's even for people WITH that great insurance that I had. I went on to another job, in management with a good company that you all would recognize, and I had another good insurance plan. I paid for the best one, of all the choices, and it was supposed to let me choose my doctors, my hospitals, etc. But as the years have gone on, premiums and medications and co-pays have just risen in cost. WELL ... meanwhile, I got sicker, not better, despite all the doctors and all the treatments (yes, I've tried chiropractic and yes, I've tried acupuncture, and yes, I've been through quite a lot) and all the drugs just seemed to be like piling those bags of salt against a flood of water. The migraines seem sometimes like they have a life of their own, like they are an organism determined to LIVE, finding new ways to get around whatever treatment works for a time. They feel like a demon inside.

Meanwhile, it got harder to work, because I was sicker. My migraines became Transformed Migraine, which is a common disorder for people who started out with what I had. We begin to suffer more migraines, but they often aren't quite as severe, while also having those infrequent terrbile ones. I have seen more than 8 neurologists, been to two specialty headache clinics, tried a great many herbal (or other natural) supplements, and of course, tried more pills and drugs than I bet many of you could IMAGINE ingesting in your lifetime. I'm telling you, if there were a cure for migraines, but it meant I had to, like, lose a hand, or shave some years off my life expectancy or something like that, I believe I would take it. I might go farther. I have.

People with migraine often get secondary issues in their lives as I have. As it got harder to work, over the years, without going into detail, I eventually lost two different jobs. Although employers could argue some red-tape type details about why I technically am not working there anymore, I was really let go or whatever because of being sick. We all know it, everyone basically said it, and that was that. It's very difficult to prove in court, but there was one situation in which I belive I could have. I wish I would have known then what I do now, but don't we all? Anyway, it has become harder to work, to the point of now, where I don't make ANYTHING like what I used to make in terms of salary and am not eligible for a decent insurance plan. I have to pay for my drugs outright, aside from a couple that are "discounted" and a couple that the companies have agreed to provide to me for free (Yes! Thank you, GlaxoSmithKline!) Pharmacists, friends, family and doctors have stepped in to advocate for me at different times, trying to help me get what I need. I need daily medications to be able to function, without debilitating pain, without getting sick ... Because if I don't have that, then I can't work, and when I AM sick, I can't work, and I lose money, and then it's harder to pay for these costly things, and then I get more stressed, and then I get more headaches (stress is a major cause) ... You see?

So you can see how I get down my road to Whoa is me, especially if I have a rough day, with a bad migraine or a bad day at work where I feel I barely made it through or something. I feel like there's no hope, no money, no way out of this situation with the costs, the needing of new and more drugs, etc. By the way, we aren't talking about pain-killers and controlled substances in most cases here. I think that's important to point out. People with pain disorders are often accused, like they don't have enough trouble, of having drug problems and drug-seeking behavior, etc. It's easy to see how it happens to people, because they initially need the medicine for pain and it helps, but then they take it even when maybe they don't need it, on and on. Thank God, I'm not dealing with that right now. But I know many who are and who have.

Anyway, I want to learn to USE my struggle. It takes time to handle all of these irons I have in the fire each day, like maintaining my paperwork for the free medications, keeping my doctor appointments, etc. But how can I use what has happened and what is happening and what is still to come on my journey (maybe healing? maybe help? maybe even a cure?) as a light in my own life, rather than a reason to feel sad and hopeless? How can I maybe even use my situation as a light to others who are suffering similar things, or worse? I am really going to ponder and meditate on this question today as I go through my endeavors. I noticed immediately when I heard the mother on Oprah today, that when I thought about the idea of Using My Cross, it immediately snapped me out of my inward thought process and made me think outwardly. Often that is the first step toward a better, and more realistic perspective.

Pray for me, and I'll be praying for you!


Girlbert said...

What a wonderful point and a great lesson.
It's really easy to get wrapped up in our own crap, and it's amazing the opportunities that arise, for ourselves and others, when we think outward. Sharing my lessons with others is the most satisfying experience.
Beautifully written, Tanya - thanks for sharing!


Anonymous said...

always praying for you, sweet Tanya. I'm enjoying your thoughts as you blog.This one is so important and wise. Love you, Weesa

Dave said...

fascinating story. i wish i could help.

TOM said...

Tanya, So well said!! A great lesson and maybe your story and your journey towards the cure I pray you will find would make a good book that could help others or friends of others to understand, to cope with these things you are dealing with...Maybe then Oprah will have you as a guest(-: