Hello again.

Long time, no write.

My life has been both on standstill and full speed ahead for the last several months. I could barely string together a coherent sentence in between the chaos of day-to-day life. My weeks consisted of work and sleep to recover from work, my weekends consisted of cramming as much life experience as possible into two short days.

I missed writing.

I mean, sure, I technically still wrote. I wrote hundreds of emails each week (maybe thousands?) for work, and for a time, I wrote essays and discussion board posts for school. But I really missed writing for me.

Scribbling thoughts on paper.

Typing words in a blog post.

Still, every time I’ve sat my sore bum down to create something, I came up blank. My mind was a blank slate.

I was mortified to find that I had nothing to say.

Until, all at once, my fingers remembered the electric excitement that comes from typing as fast as I can to keep up with the stream of thoughts flooding my mind.

The desire to write, and the prose suddenly found its way back into my heart.

And here I am.

Ready to blog again.

I suppose I should start with an update on my life. I’ve been adventuring. Truly seeking a great perhaps. From road tripping across country to help my friend move, to road tripping all over New England just for fun with my sister, to flying to Prince Edward Island and taking in the glorious sites I’ve dreamed of since I was a young lass –

I’ve been adventuring. And seeking. And soaring.

And now I’m taking a break.

Adventuring is great fun.

But it’s really hard on my old lady body.

So my goal for the next few months is to rest and take ‘er easy.

While also partying it up locally with the friends and fam, of course (I don’t actually know how to rest. I just talk big talk, see.).

I’ve decided the next several great adventures I’ll have will be here in the good ‘ol state of Ohio. Not just because I’m broke from all my other adventures (travel ain’t cheap, I don’t care how many travel bloggers say so), but because there is so much in my own neck of the woods that I have yet to explore.

I’ll do my best to backtrack and chronicle the adventures of 2017, but no promises. I’m still processing everything that I’ve learned, and honestly, lately my trips have become very personal. Each journey has taught me something about myself, something too deep to turn into mere words on a website. I want to cherish this depth a little longer on my own.

But maybe some highlights posts.. cause I managed to take some truly great photos and no longer have an Instagram to share them on.

In any case.

I’m back world.

And I have a lot to say.

What have you been up to for the past three months?

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Hello again.

10 Symptoms of Fibromyalgia You Probably Didn’t Know

The weather in Ohio has been a nightmare of late, which means that my body is reacting in nightmarish proportions. The unfortunate reality of my life is that I have a condition that reacts to rainy skies like a punching bag reacts to a boxer.

In other words: loads and loads of pain. Oh, and other things.

Which brings me to the reason for today’s post. There is so much that goes into fibromyalgia that it often blows a person’s mind. The symptoms are so many and the cures are so nonexistent that it almost seems unbelievable to someone not experiencing them. As we’ve previously discussed, just because you can’t see someone’s illness or the effects of it does not mean that it is imagined.

The following are, in no particular order, ten symptoms I have the pleasure of experiencing because of my condition.

#1 – Watery/itchy eyes and change in vision

My eyes are extremely testy. Walking through a mall is a nightmare because of the variety of light brightnesses, odors and temperatures. Because my eyes are so sensitive, I can often be found crying for no apparent reason. I can’t help it, they just tear up and I go from normal to sobbing in seconds. I also occasionally have to fight the urge to scratch my eye balls out because of an invisible item that makes them itch to no end. In addition to that joy, fibromyalgia sufferers often have poor eyesight that gets even worse over time because our muscles weaken from the constant onslaught of pain.

#2 – Sensitivity to odor

In addition to sensitive eyes, we have sensitive noses. Mine is a super sniffer. I can smell things that no one else can and I hate it. An example of this:

Sarah and I were driving down a country road when I suddenly got hit by the horrific smell of a chicken farm (BLECH!). “Ewww! Do you smell that?”

Sarah replied, “No, what is it?”

“A chicken farm. You’ll probably smell it soon.”

A mile later she suddenly exclaimed, “YUCK! I smell it now!”

Yeah. My nose is that sensitive.

#3 – Tooth aches and TMJ

For whatever reason, our teeth hurt during a flare-up. And I mean all of them. It usually makes me have nightmarish dreams in which all my teeth fall out *shudder*. A more serious issue, however, is temporomandibular joint (TMJ) disorder, which is a fancy way of saying “chronically repetitive lock-jaw.” Basically my jaw locks up randomly and for no reason at all. It also makes loud “click-clack” noises when I’m chewing. Such a delight, I say.

#4 – Itchy skin

My skin itches a lot and for no reason. I work hard to stay hydrated and apply lotion daily, so it’s not a lack of moisture. I don’t know the reason for it, I just know this is a common symptom of which a lot fibromyalgia sufferers complain. This is a real pain (literally) given we also suffer from…

#5 – Allodynia

Allodynia is a condition in which your skin hurts to the slightest touch. My pain receptors confuse everything as an attack so my skin is constantly irritated during flare-ups. Something as slight as the brush of my shirt can make my skin light on fire. It kind of stinks. This is especially annoying when people pray for me.

I love prayers, I need prayers. I wouldn’t be here if not for prayers! But sometimes a dear sister in the Lord will decide to pray for me and place her hand on my back and I am instantly in tears- not because the Lord is moving (though usually He does) but because the pain is too much to handle.

During Allodynia flare-ups, I have a code word to warn my friends and family: gentle. It’s not uncommon that as they raise their arms to hug me, I’m saying the word “gentle” and inwardly cringing in case they forget. They never do. 🙂 ❤

#6 – Excessive sweating

An unfortunate delight we fibromyalgia sufferers experience is excessive sweating. We can be sitting there in a t-shirt with a fan and the AC cranked and mopping sweat off our brow. Thankfully, it’s not always that bad, but occasionally.. *shudder*

Every time I see a mirror, I’m checking for sweat pits. It’s TMI, I know, but it’s my life. 😦 I suppose it’s justice. I used to be unable to sweat, even when working out, and boy did I brag about it. Karma stinks… *cough* Good thing I don’t believe in karma. heh

#7 – Chronic fatigue

We’ve already covered this, but it’s so bad I gotta say it again. I am always tired but during flare-ups I am exhausted. Doctors say that in order to understand the exhaustion a fibromyalgia patient endures, you’d need to stay up three nights straight. Zzzzz…

#8 – Irritable bowel and bladder

Because the body is constantly being stressed it reacts cruddily. Things go down. That’s all I’ll say because I’m trying not to make anyone barf.

#9 – Anxiety and paranoia

Mind games. Lot’s of them. I will sometimes feel so jittery and panicky that it feels as if the whole world has frozen while I’m literally vibrating right out of my skin. My heart palpitates, I become convinced that there are things/people hiding in my closet ready to kill me if I turn my back. I can’t deal with people during flare-ups like these. I hide in my room and pretend I am alone on the earth. During this time, I am so irritable I’ll scream at people for no reason, lashing out from fear and stress and a whole lot of pent-up I don’t know what.

But, eventually, I dig deep and find the strength to talk myself down from the panic and remind myself of who I am, where I am and Who I belong to. I convince myself I’m safe and I move on.

#10 – Short term memory loss and confusion

This is the one that frustrates me the most. I used to have a wiz of a memory. Example: I work at a library and had the place of each DVD in our entire DVD collection (several thousand) memorized. Someone could ask me where something was and I would walk straight up to it and pull it off the shelf. I just knew.

Then my brain started fizzing and cracking and suddenly it took so much effort to remember simple things like the words “the” and “not” or the names of my friends. The other day, I started thinking of a little boy I used to babysit – he was someone that was in my care for three days a week for about a year. And I couldn’t remember his name.

Another instance, I was directing the Easter drama and it went something like this:

“Sarah, move to stage left, Daniel- head on over there, —- *freeze*” I couldn’t remember the next guy’s name. I grew up with this kid, he was my brother’s best friend, and I couldn’t remember his name. Eventually someone called out “Grayson!” and we laughed and I apologized and we moved on. But it still shook me. It always does.

I’ll be okay if I lose this body, but my mind.. now that I plan to keep.

Shoooo-boy that got dramatic there at the end. Each sufferer’s story is different; sometimes we get to avoid the things that debilitate others. These are just ten battles I fight through frequently, with every flare-up, with every turn of the weather, with every stress trigger.

10 Symptoms of Fibromyalgia You Probably Didn’t Know

25 Things About Me

Today’s post is reeeeeally long, so let’s just hop right in, shall we?

one: FRENCH FRIES

I’m obsessed with french fries. This is not a joke. It’s likely that if fries are an option on the menu, they’ll turn into my meal. Quiz me on a restaurant and I can tell you which dipping sauce best compliments their fries [Wendy’s: barbecue or chili (yes, chili has been downgraded to a dipping sauce), McDonald’s: spicy buffalo, Red Robin’s: ranch, and so on and so forth]. It’s probably a problem. I just dearly love them and it won’t be helped.

My addiction right now is stopping by McDonald’s for fries, spicy buffalo sauce and a sprite. YUM.

two: ALLERGIES

I’m allergic to tooooooo many things: gluten (*sobs*), lactose (*sobs again*), jalapenos (I need a tissue), and as I’ve most recently surmised (based on throwing up or being extremely nauseas when I have it): meat (WHAT IS LIFE?!!?!). In the not food genre, I’m allergic to amoxicillin, penicillin, clindamycin.. you know, the three main medicines they give you for anything. I’m basically just telling you guys this so you can save my life if ever needed. heh

three: COLORS

Something else I dearly love? Black! The color is fantastic. I may look a little too pale when I wear it, but I really don’t care cause it’s cozy and warm and delightful. My wardrobe has a lot of black in it.

Also… I. HATE. PURPLE. It makes me wretch. It makes me curl up inside and die. Okay, that’s a little dramatic. You also may know this already based on my earlier post about it…

four: DREAMS

I have seriously weird dreams. Like legitimately weird dreams. For instance, there was a time I dreamed that there were these dog/chimpanzee mutations that would go hunting for people to eat at night. They were attracted by light and sounds. In my dream, my parents were dead and I somehow became responsible for taking care of my siblings as well as a whole school bus of kids. You can imagine how difficult it was to keep them under control for entire nights so that no lights or noises drew the creatures.

Another dream I had were of these alien invaders who were these little creatures that operated huge machines: these machines had the legs of a giant ostrich, the body of a velociraptor and the head of a venus fly trap. They had super speed and made ear piercing screech noises when they found some prey. They were attracted by noise and somehow I was trapped in a room with a mom and her baby and they just kept screaming and screaming and I couldn’t get them to shut up, even when the creatures started charging at us.

So yeah, weird dreams… But anyways…

five: WRITING

I dearly love to write. Okay, you obviously know this already. But I mean outside of this blog. I also write songs, stories and I’m working on a book of sorts. It may never get published, but hey!

six: STARBUCKS

We all have special Starbucks orders that just make our life when we get them. For me it entirely depends on mood, but here are my four go to’s: soy caramel latte (for chilly/sick days), hot or iced coffee with soy milk and half a packet raw sugar (for cheap days), and unsweetened iced black tea with a splash of lemonade (for hot days or “I need motivation” days). Great. Now I want Starbucks.

seven: JUVIE RECORD

Okay, technically I’m not a juvenile delinquent, but when I was 17, I went to court and my license was taken away for two months because I got caught going 13 mph over. Oops! I technically have a sealed record (though I could get it expunged now) so my family always jokes about me being their cliché family delinquent.

eight: KISSED

Psych! I’m 21 and I’ve never been kissed. I’m totally and completely okay with that. When I was, ooooh, 15 or so, I made a promise to the Lord that my first kiss would be on my wedding day. Has that been difficult to maintain? Heck yes. There were days when I wanted to toss that commitment out the window, but I didn’t and I’m thankful for it. Remind me of this if I ever enter another relationship. 😉

nine: CONTACTS

I wear contacts by day and glasses by night. I’ve got cruddy vision, though not as bad as some, so I can’t complain too much. Actually, at my last eye exam, one of my eye’s had improved some! So that was pretty cool.

ten: SCARS

I have two noticeable scars. The first is on my right eyebrow. I got when, as a small stupid child, I was playing rough house with my sister and a friend. The name of the game was bucking broncos! To play, someone would get down on all fours, someone else would sit on their back and try to stay on as they bucked. When it was my turn to be a cowgirl, I got bucked hard enough to go sailing through the air, only to bust my eyebrow open on a steel bed post.

The second scar is on my left knee and only rarely makes an appearance (generally when my skin is seriously flushed due to heat or exercise or fibromyalgia – heh heh). It’s actually in the shape of the state of Ohio (ironic) and is the result of my stupid attempt to rollerblade down a hill covered in gravel.

eleven: FEAR

I am afraid of many philosophical things (failing God, not pursuing my dreams… you get the drift) but only four physical things: man-made heights, bridges, grates and the ocean.

I had zero issues on the edge of the Grand Canyon, but put me on the top wrung of a ladder and I’m ready to pass out. Bridges are terrifying, especially long ones, and are the worst during winter months or rainy days/nights. I don’t walk on grates. I walk around grates. I don’t know why so don’t ask me. They just really freak me out. And the ocean is. just. yikes. It’s so vast and enormous and drowning is a probability and yikes *shudder* nah I’m good.

twelve: TRAVEL

Y’all know I love to travel. It’s one of the best things in the world to experience new sights, sounds and cultures. The top three places I want to see (currently) are: the pyramids (especially now that they might have found Nefertiti’s tomb), the Great Wall of China (because duh), and the lost city of Pompeii (I think that’s the proper way to refer to it).

thirteen: NAMESAKE

I am my grandma’s namesake! My middle name is “Allene” (pronounced: ‘Al’ – like fat Albert without the bert – ‘lean’ – like lean meat), which is an Irish name that means “beautiful” and is the same middle name my incredible grandma carries.

fourteen: LOYAL

I’m extremely loyal by nature. I’m loyal to God, to my family and friends and to the outcast or downtrodden. It is my intent to always care for the person people ignore. Growing up, I was a nightmare for most people, but I did manage to always welcome and get along with the person everybody bullied or disliked. Don’t ask me why, I couldn’t tell you.

It’s not uncommon for me to get in fights with people who are attacking family members of mine, or to face down jerks who dare smack talk my Lord, or to yell at people who would make fun of people who cannot defend themselves.

It’s just who I am and it often gets me in trouble. But it’s also one of my favorite things about myself. #literallyloyaltoafault

fifteen: CONFRONTATION

Anyone who knows me personally is laughing right now. I’m not afraid of confrontation. I live for it. But not in that abusive, ridiculous way (like Trump *cough* ahem), in that “I have a problem with the way you handled this, let’s talk.” It doesn’t scare me to correct people if I think they’re wrong, or to talk to someone if they’ve hurt me. I loooooove a good debate on just about any topic (so long as I’m knowledgeable of it – 90% of America’s problem today is that people like to argue on something they’ve never researched *cough* ahem).

sixteen: OPEN

I asked my brother to tell me something about me that people who don’t live with me wouldn’t know, to which he responded: “I don’t know.. you’re open with everyone about everything.. Seriously, I can’t think of anything!” So I thought I should include that. I’m really open, probably too open.

If you have a question, I’ll give you a 100% honest answer, no hesitation. Why? Because I don’t believe in secrets. Secrets give gossip power and give room for bitterness and heartache to take root. That just ain’t my style.

The one exception to this is if friends or family tell me something in confidence. I never “dish” on things spoken to me in privacy.

Oh, I guess there’s a second exception. That is…

seventeen: BRAVE FACE

I rarely give people an accurate idea of how I’m feeling. For one, I’m almost always sick to some degree, and people get tired of hearing that. For two (that felt weird to type… “for two”.. odd), when people ask you how you’re doing, they usually don’t actually care to know. It’s done more out of politeness.

Which is totally fine! But also the exact opposite of who I am. I don’t ask people how they’re doing willy-nilly, generally because I have too much crap in my own life to deal with and I can’t handle their emotional stress as well. But if I do ask, I genuinely want to know. I’m opening the door for you to tell me what’s going on in your life.

If you ask me, however, you probably won’t get a 100% open answer. For instance, recently I was in the middle of a terrible flare up and someone nonchalantly asked “How are you doing today, Rachel?” I responded with a nonchalant, “I’m doing!”

That’s my go to. Imagine what would happen if this was my answer, “Well, honestly, it feels like my feet are chipping off into a thousand tiny pieces. My arms and hands are throbbing like I’m having a heart attack, but I know I’m not because I can hear my heart beating the normal rhythm and can feel the blood pulsing in every inch of my body. My wrists and hips have popped out of socket twenty times in the last few hours. My jaw hurts to move, I think I could pass out, and it feels like a hundred people are following me around slicing my skin with little blades whenever they can get close enough. Occasionally I’ll feel an electric shock pass through my entire body like Zeus decided to come out to play. And, well there’s more but you already look horrified. I didn’t even make it to the digestive issues today.”

See? It wouldn’t go well. That’s why, generally, I just smile and say: “I’m doing!”

eighteen: AWKWARD

There’s this little crazy part of me loves to make people feel awkward. That often consists of randomly throwing out statements that make an entire room cringe and wonder what to say or do to ease the tension. For instance.. well never mind. I can’t for instance that. Just.. just come hang out with me and you’ll see. 🙂

nineteen: EMBARRASSMENT

I don’t get embarrassed easily. I’ve done enough stupid things to just stop caring by now.  I really can’t think of anything genuinely embarrassing right now.. There were times I should have been embarrassed (the time my too-big-neckline shirt tried to fall off while I was speaking in front of a crowd, the time I screamed in laughter during a serious part of a church service, the time my hip de-socketed itself and I fell flat on my face in a room full of people, etc.) but I’m not.. Hmm… Let me keep thinking on that.

twenty: EATING

This is about to get weird… I find it fascinating to watch people eat. Everyone has a unique method and it’s oddly entertaining. You know that disgusting scene in LOTR where the one guy is messily eat tomatoes while Pippin sings a sad little tune? Yeah, that’s one of my favorite scenes. I know. It’s weird. I should probably be locked up.

twenty-one: HUNGRY

First the french fries, now the talk of my fascination with eating… gosh I’m getting hungry (I don’t even care that I’m technically cheating on #21).

twenty-two: RAIN

I ADORE RAIN. It’s my favorite. Most people prefer sunshine or snow, but not me. I love rain and rain makes me feel alive. Don’t ask me why. My favorite pastime on a rainy day is sitting on the front porch with a cup of joe to watch the storm (hopefully it’s a big one), or taking a nap in our TV room (which has skylights that make the sound of rain echo really loudly). I just really, really love rain.

twenty-three: FIRE

We’ve had 1.5 house fires in the ten years that we’ve lived in this house. Our primary form of heat is a wood stove, and apparently you have to be really careful with those.

One winter night we woke up to a house filled with smoke and rushed outside. After the fire department came and tore down a wall, we found out that we had a chimney fire because someone forgot to close up the stove before going to bed. Everything reeked of smoke and we ended up living out of a nearby hotel for a couple of weeks. As a child at the time, it sure was an adventure!

Not even a full year later, we got a call while we were at prayer meeting that a neighbor had noticed smoke. She couldn’t get ahold of us (we are good friends with her) so she came into the house to see that, once again, we hadn’t closed up the stove. I believe she said she’d called the fire department that time too, but thankfully it was a much easier fix that didn’t result in much damage at all. So I count it has a half-fire. 🙂

twenty-four: PERSONALITY

I’m obsessed with personality types! The Meyer’s Briggs personality test is so incredibly, scarily accurate that it blows my mind. I am an ENFP, which is so spot on. It’s most simply described as: “Enthusiastic, idealistic, and creative. Able to do almost anything that interests them. Great people skills. Need to live life in accordance with their inner values. Excited by new ideas, but bored with details. Open-minded and flexible, with a broad range of interests and abilities.” –quote is from this link

But there is sooooo much more that goes into it. All you have to do is google it and you can basically learn everything you need to know about what kind of person I am and how I think and what determines my actions. It’s awesome!

I would love to know what your personality type is so you should take this test and comment your results. 😀

twenty-five: AGE

I refuse to grow up all the way. I know I’m adult and so I need to adult-y things, and I do.

But I want to always laugh too hard, find joy in the little things, believe in the impossible, dream of the incredible, and trust like I’ve never been hurt.

I want to take people for their word and refuse to doubt people because experience has taught me otherwise. I want to be free of the bitterness brought on by hardship and the exhaustion brought on by the mundane. I refuse to be bound by age.

I’ll be young forever, even if my body isn’t.

That’s something chronic illness has taught me. You may not get a say in your bodies age, but you do get a say in the rest.

25 Things About Me