Gone Country

My Mom and Step-Father, Steve recently closed on a 1960′s dump of a property in New Ulm, TX.  The wooded eight-and-a-half acres with trails and two lakes are absolutely amazing.  The house?  Needs A LOT of work.  But Mom and Steve are into that sort of thing and the pair are currently up there remodeling the whole joint.

I’d been feeling pretty sick the last few days and almost considered cancelling today’s preplanned “Betty and the Bear” shoot and overall photographic christening of the entire property.  But I figured if I could just get my butt out there, some fresh air would do me good and I could direct my focus on shooting instead of feeling cruddy.  It totally worked.

So I imagine this is what fostering a cute, fluffy animal is like, right about the time you’re handing the cute and fluffy over to its “forever home.”

Cherry Blossom: Paper, spray paint, charcoal, India ink and acrylic on canvas.

My “Cherry Blossom” painting sold.  It has been hanging in our guest room at home for the last few years.  I had originally painted this piece as a commission to hang in a salon/spa space that sadly, had to close its doors after Hurricane Ike and the recession hit almost simultaneously.  The paintings I created for that space were given back to me.  And with the exception of one, they’ve all found pretty perfect resting places on walls in our home.

A friend of mine recently stumbled upon a photo of my beloved cherry blossom and immediately made me an offer.  I had created this piece with the initial intent of selling it.  I wasn’t expecting the side affect of falling a little bit in love with having it hanging at our house for so long.  Attachments aside, I happily parted with the painting.  I know it’s going to be well cared for, and since it went to a friend I get to visit my cherry blossom any time I want.

A few days after delivering the painting I received a text message with a photo of the final resting place for my cherry blossom.  I get really excited when people who have purchased my works send me photos of those works in their home.  More so when I sell pieces to strangers all over the country.  It’s just nice to get a glimpse of these pieces of me and pieces of what I love so much merging with these foreign spaces.  To be given the opportunity to view what others see in my work by how they display it.  It’s an honor, really.  And it’s nice to see my babies thriving in their new homes.

Road Trip to Nowhere

Since all the health issues have taken over my life, I haven’t been able to do much in the photography department.  I crave photo shoots the way some people crave chocolate as a replacement for therapy.  I’ve also been craving a road trip.  Not necessarily anything long or extreme, per say.  Just one of those moods where all you want to do is get in your car and drive with no purpose.  Which is exactly what my Betty and the Bear shooting partner, Kramer and I did on Saturday (with the lovely company of my photography loving wife, Rhonda, as well).  Kramer and I had some B&tB shooting to do as well as some personal projects to work on.  Rhonda has a shiny new Canon DSLR that’s she’s still learning and she has an incredible eye for scenery.  Plus, she lets me put her in fun outfits and humors me when I need an extra model.

We grabbed some props, a few clothing options, some snacks, and our camera gear; and we hit the road.  No destination in mind.  We just picked out a highway and a direction and went where the universe took us.  Apparently the universe liked Peach Creek and Downtown Cleveland.


*You can view Rhonda’s set here.

 

Not only do I feel like a broken record, but a broken record stuck on the most irritating song that ever did sound and my arms are too short to lift the needle.

The subject of this post is the last I want to write about but it’s my life right now.  And I know that for a number of my family, friends and even a number of acquaintances, this space is a way for them to keep up with what’s genuinely going on with me.  I don’t always project what’s really happening to me because if I did that I’d be a broken down, miserable, sickly, and generally depressing human being to be around.

And that’s not me.

The truth is, I do feel broken.  I’m coming up on the ten year anniversary of when the Cyclic Vomiting Syndrome made its grand entrance into my life and tried to kill me.  After nearly ten years of wrestling a chronic illness I feel like I’ve seriously mastered the art of it.  Every day is a battle, but I’ve learned how to push myself and function around it.
Happily.
The toll the CVS takes on my body cycles; and as such, there are moments I simply don’t have the endurance to deal with it.  I’m human and I have my breaking points.  But those instances of complete cessation invariably have a short shelf life and I’m awesome at pulling myself out of it.

Just when I was at a point in my life that I had majorly Jedi mastered my illness and I was finally feeling in control of my body again, the back issues dug in.  The affect has been so physically and emotionally crippling in a way for which I could have never prepared myself.  Where I’d mastered and remastered and straight up owned the art of managing what happens to my body internally, I’ve never lived with a constant physical pain like this before.  Perhaps had the back problems happened to me as a fully functioning, healthy human being, I’d be better equipped to tackle it and fight it with the same tenacity that I approach my illness.  But because the back problems and physical pain are simply another extremely heavy compound on top of an already worn down and abused body, I’m collapsing.  And that right there is one of the hardest things for me to admit.  I don’t collapse, I kick ass.  The last ten years I’ve lived my life as if I’m perpetually giving a giant finger to the Cyclic Vomiting Syndrome.  My motto has been something in the realm of, “Fuck that, I’m gonna have the funnest, kick-assest life ever.  Illness be damned.”

Where my motto has not changed, I no longer have the tools in reserve to force that motto out.  My brain and my will are still dead set on “Fight, fight, fight, one step at a time, one minute of each day at a time, fight, fight, function, fight, ooh look a puppy!”  But no matter how Stonewall Jackson I am about the situation my body just wont. back. me. up.  My spirit (and consequently my endurance) has been severely compacted.  Just this morning I had to sit on the kitchen floor, leaning against the cabinets while I waited for my coffee to brew because I simply didn’t have the strength to hold myself up.  Little moments like that are abrasively humbling.  And when you come to the realization that those little moments are becoming more frequent than “once in a blue moon,” it’s a hard pill to swallow.  Especially for me.  I’m the person who despite my piece of shit body, fights for a ridiculously fun and fully active lifestyle no matter what.  I always find some way to immerse myself in the positive, in what makes me happy instead of focusing on my POS body.  I don’t exactly know how to handle the instance of that focus being taken away as well.  When what little strength you had to cope and deal and remain happy is actively drained from you without your permission or control.  I’m not saying I’m unhappy.  I’m just… too exhausted and physically incapable of actively emitting happiness on my own.  All I have the strength for right now is keeping my body somewhat functioning.  The only reason I still smile and laugh is because of the incredible people, love, and support I have in my life.  For that, I’ll be eternally grateful.

And with that said: I had a follow up appointment with my surgeon/pain management specialist last Thursday.  The second injection in my SI Joint didn’t take.  I’m left with three new options.  One is a potential bone deformity for which I had X-Rays on Thursday to confirm.  If I have the bone deformity then, Yay!  I’ll have an obvious arrow pointed at the problem and I can have an insurance covered surgery to solve it.  If I don’t have the bone deformity, then the next step is to try a third and final injection in my L5 Facet Joint.  It’s the last of the three “trial and error” injection points to see if we can get me pain free for a while.  If the last injection doesn’t take then my final option is a form of Rhizotomy.  Which is a procedure where in a metal prod is inserted into my back and it burns off the nerves around the source of my pain.  Apparently this is a rather painful procedure from which to recover and insurance won’t cover it because the procedure is considered experimental.  Considering my options, I’m praying my doctor calls with the news that I have a bone deformity.  In the mean time, I’m just gonna keep doing what I do and hope that

ooh look a puppy!

Image shamelessly stolen from the Internet without permission but I linked back to the site owner. If you own this image and you want it removed, just bitch me out in the comments.

 

When I figured out I only consumed 1,266 calories a couple days ago I freaked so now this is happening. I’m dragging you all down with me.

Because of ongoing health issues, I’m constantly focused on food: How much of what kinds of foods I’m putting in my body, and is it enough?  I’ve realized that though I may eat a huge serving of food and feel so incredibly full that surely another bite would have me exploding all over the walls Monty Python style, I’m still not getting a healthy calorie intake.  I eat foods that are so lean that I need truck loads more of them to gain any weight.

I’m desperately trying to gain weight.  It’s harder than it seems.  I could eat all the fried chicken and cupcakes you want to serve me, but I actually end up losing weight eating straight crap like that because of how sick it makes me.  Besides, I need healthy calories and fats, not grease and sugar.

In an attempt to better keep track of what I’m eating and subsequently my calorie intake, I’ve turned into that guy who photographs everything they ingest with their smart phone before eating.  At least I’m not posting every one of those photos on Instagram while flashing a fingerstache.

Instead I’m posting them here!  Sans fingerstache.  You’re welcome!

Turkey bacon and Kale with peanut sauce.
Steamed squash, zucchini, carrots, and green peas.
Fresh pineapple and raspberries.
Vegetable (wheat) pasta, turkey meatballs with zucchini and mushrooms (baked), tomato sauce, and a handful of raw mushrooms.
Potato rosemary bread, fresh mozzarella slices, and “all berry” jam.
Frozen yogurt with strawberries, pineapple, cherries, Fruity Pebbles, and Cap’n Crunch.
And of course, more soy lattes than I can count.

Yup… this is what my life has come to.  Calorie counting photos of my food.  ABSOLUTELY THRILLING, isn’t it?  Yeah, I don’t really think so either.

Glitter Bombs and Bath Salts

I know.  I’m a dirty slacker and I fell off the planet.  Again.

In actuality, I’ve been really sick.  My back problems returned with a fierce vengeance.  To the point where I spent an entire weekend barely able to walk.  Heck, I’ve only sporadically been going to work.  In the evenings I would take a pain pill to help me get through it, but the pain medications were playing “chemistry lab” with my Cyclic Vomiting Syndrome.  The result was less back pain and more nausea than I could handle.  Also… all that other stuff pain meds do to your system that no one wants to talk about.

Hey, look! Glitter bomb!

*Photo shamelessly stolen from the Internet. But it’s okay because it was a free “stock” image.

I’ve really been struggling the last month or longer… I don’t know, time seems to get all fucked up when you’re sick and in pain every day.  It has taken a major toll on me mentally, physically, and emotionally.  I’m doing absolutely everything I can to get my body back on track.  Including taking Epsom salt baths.  And if you know me at all, you know I’m probably the only girl on the planet who absolutely detests taking baths.  HATE THEM.  They’re boring and sweaty and uncomfortable and boring and did I mention boring?  You just sit there.  And if you’re doing a proper Epsom soak you have to sit there for AT LEAST 15 minutes.  Baths are just annoying.  Maybe if someone gave me a pet duck I’d take to enjoying the whole bath thing…  Oooh, and some Mr. Bubble.  That guy knows how to party.

Anyway…

Yesterday morning I had an appointment with my Pain Management Specialist/Surgeon.  She poked and she prodded and here’s what’s up:
I’m getting another injection in my Sacroiliac Joint on August 10th (my brother’s birthday. happy birthday, Adam!!!) and I have prescription anti inflammatories to help with the pain until then (easy on the stomach stuff).  I’ll be going to see another Neurologist for more extensive nerve testing for all the Sciatica pain.  If the next injection doesn’t work, I do  a round of multiple MRIs (so not looking forward to that) and potentially surgery for the Piriformis Syndrome.

I know a lot of people are all, “WTF?!” right now because I’m not particularly paying attention to things like human interaction or involving myself in life in general.  I’ve really been down for the count.  My schedule is: Sleep in. Hobble to work.  Leave work early.  Crawl into bed for a nap.  Wake up, eat dinner, watch a couple T.V. shows while I wait for pain meds to kick in.  Go to bed.  Rinse and repeat.  I’m hoping this is a dying schedule because, well, a.) I’m miserable.  And b.) I miss having a life.  I miss my friends and family.  I miss my artwork and photography.  I miss being a productive member of society.  Also, there’s only so much daytime T.V. a person can handle.  Also, also, Sugar sucks at drawing a bath for me.  She keeps huffing my bath salts and then I have to crate her so she doesn’t eat my face off while I’m passed out on pain medications.

Huh… I wonder when A&E’s “Intervention” will be calling…