Gratitude for my Attitude

There is an old train trestle in town, that traverses the river just above the falls. In 1999, townspeople banded together to create a walking trail where the old line extended through the city. It affords spectacular views. It is also not easily accessed by those like myself with mobility issues.

But I am determined.

I asked everyone I know. Some said they have petitioned the city to make it more accessible, some have pointed out different ways to enter the trail, and one neighbour even offered me his motorized scooter.

Then I noticed someone in a wheelchair up on the bridge and knew there must be a way.

I drove to all the trailheads, attempted different approaches, and then…

I finally found it. A way in.

The walk challenged every one of my muscles, and a couple of times I had to push panic aside. It was so worth it!

The stroll back to the car was slow, punctuated with many stops, and all the while, I felt grateful for this spirit of mine that refuses to give up.

Chronically Hopeful Award

Terri, at Reclaiming Hope, has nominated me for the Chronically Hopeful Award, created by Pamela from There is Always Hope.

I am so inspired by Terri’s commitment to health and her no-nonsense, honest advice for coping with the ongoing struggle. Finding Terri here in the blogosphere has been a highlight of my experience and I now count her as a dear and supportive friend.

So, thank you, Terri, for thinking of me.

In response to Terri’s questions:

What’s the biggest lesson you’ve learned since starting your blog?
This question makes me smile, because it’s all been a huge learning curve. I find though that when I post what touches me, it also reaches others.

If you could tell people ONE thing about living with a chronic illness, mental illness or disability, what would you want the general public to know???
In a typical week, I am targeted by “friends” or new followers who want to sell me their “sure cure”. I work with professionals committed to helping me manage my illness. I have neither the energy, nor financial resources, to try every new thing that comes along.

Why did you decide to start your blog/advocacy work?
I don’t think we are ever meant to go through anything alone. Creating a blog gave me a doable forum to open up discussions and find others. For the first three years of this blog I was bedridden, so socially isolated. My blogging community kept me connected to life.

What is one thing you’re really good at?
Connecting with others. I genuinely love people. Connecting is always such a gift.

What do you like to do for enjoyment?
Drive through the country and take photographs. It gives me something to ponder and play with when I’m home resting my body. Painting and writing are right up there as favourite activities too.

My nominees:

AWISEWOMANSJOURNEY – Deborah never fails to inspire me with her quotations, photographs, and poetry.

Elaine’s Blog – I was first drawn to Elaine’s blog by her art, and then I discovered a kindred soul also struggling with health issues. Love Elaine’s straightforward posts.

Therapy Bits – There isn’t enough room here to say everything I could about Carol Anne et al. I am always awed by her undaunted spirit.

Night Owl Poetry – Dorinda is a fellow poet, who also suffers chronic illness. Another warrior spirit whom I admire.

(Disclaimer: I do not normally participate in awards as the task overwhelms me. I am now overwhelmed, so will leave off here as far as nominees go.)

Here are the rules:

  • Thank your nominator
  • Recognize Pamela from There Is Always Hope as the creator of this award and link her URL –
  • Use the Chronically Hopeful Award logo somewhere in your post
  • Copy these rules onto your post
  • Answer your nominator’s questions
  • Write 5-10 of your own questions (they don’t need to be illness related)
  • Nominate 5-10 other chronic illness, mental illness, or disability bloggers
  • Comment on each of your nominees’ latest posts to tell them they have been nominated

My questions for nominees, should they accept:

  1. What has been the greatest gift that illness has given you?
  2. What personality trait do you think has helped you cope?
  3. Favourite gripe?
  4. If I could bring you something to make your day, what would it be?
  5. Tell me a quotation or affirmation that keeps you going.

Avoidance Therapy

I just want to sleep.

Situational, my therapist calls this type of depression.

Saw my family doctor this week, and she confirmed that the skin condition could be cancer. At best, it is a rare condition that will need specialist care. It is both itchy and painful, but there can be no treatment until the biopsy gives us a diagnosis. So for now, I put up with it.

The doctor also said that my blood work indicated something going on above and beyond the M.E. She sent me with an accompanying report to emergency, and for a moment, I was hopeful that I’d get some answers, but the blood tests performed at the hospital came back as normal.

I feel like a hamster on a wheel. Four years I went through this before being diagnosed with M.E. – traipsed from one specialist to another, all with no answers.

“You’re an enigma,” the emergency doc said. I’ve heard that before.

She did say she’d order more tests on an outpatient basis, so I’m waiting again.

Wake me up when someone knows something.

(Linking up to my weekly challenge: in-between.)

And Then There Was Hope

Three years ago today, I dragged myself out of bed, and with the aid of my walker (and likely a wheelchair), I paid a visit to a local doctor/ practitioner of Functional Medicine.

Getting out in those days was a huge ordeal, and typically entailed a backlash that would last weeks. I was that sick. I was also desperate.

I found the notes on that early visit when searching through my archives, looking for an interesting anniversary in response to this week’s challenge.

My family doctor had cautioned me against hoping for too much, but this new doctor, soft spoken, listened to me intently, and took the time to explain, and then, we made a plan. A plan for recovery! Something I had not thought possible.

Three years ago today, I found renewed hope.

(To read the original post, click here. V.J.’s Weekly Challenge is anniversary. There’s still time to join in.)

Numbers and Chronic Illness

It’s been 5 years since illness knocked me off my feet.

Tuesday, I visited the doctor with a list of 12 symptoms to discuss. She had 4 things to cover with me. We spent 1 hour and she took 2 samples,
and set me up with 1 specialist and 3 more tests.

She gave me the second cognitive functioning test, which I scored 30/30 on, demonstrating that it is mental fatigue related to my illness and not dementia or other causing the current impairment.

Then she emailed me a link to the latest research and tips for managing this disease, with a note to make sure I watch the first video in the series recommending 6 steps to boost energy.

The video is based on circadian rhythms, recommends exposure to sunlight within 30 minutes of waking, exiting screens 1 hour before sleep, and limiting eating to 2 hour shorter window per day, among other things.

“This is a remitting and relapsing disease,” she told a discouraged me. “Go back to the basics and retrain yourself.”

The basics. Standing no longer than 7 minutes. Sitting upright, feet on floor, no longer than 15. If there is physical activity on 1 day, don’t plan anything for the next 2.

This week, I’ve challenged us to look at how numbers play out in our lives. Clearly, chronic illness can be defined by numeric patterns.

It all makes perfect sense, and should be doable, except my mind has so much more it wants to accomplish. Sigh.

(Written for V.J.’s Weekly Challenge: Numerology)

Trails and Goals

Seven trails follow the two rivers that cross through our little town. Last Autumn, I touched on a few of them, but know that I’ve only just scratched the surface.

This one runs behind our community, just beyond my capacity to wander…now. I have goals for myself. One of them being to strengthen my legs and build up to greater distances.

Others are a short drive away. That’s my second goal – to drive again, enough to reach the trail heads. Sundays will be the best day, as our main street shops close down and the traffic is light.

Having a chronic illness, especially one that knocks the stuffing out of you like Myalgic Encephaloymyelitis, is like having the reset button pushed, and starting all over again.

I’m up for the challenge.

(For Cee’s Fun Foto Challenge: walks, trails, and sidewalks

Shopping Saturday

I promised I wouldn’t inundate this site with our new adventure, however, the thrill of seeing my own designs on products merits sharing.

Trouble is, I want to buy everything. So far, we’ve purchased a mug, a tote bag, a carry-all pouch, leggings and a t-shirt. We’re pleased with the quality of products, and can safely say the images on the site are true to colour.

When my youngest turned two, I applied for a part-time job at a local dress boutique. I wanted to get out of the house, and hoped to earn some extra income. If you’ve worked retail, you know where this is going – most of my pay checks just covered my purchases.

Now imagine being able to acquire products bearing designs you’ve created! Have to put things on hold till we’ve made a few more sales, Ric keeps reminding me, but he’s just as bad.

For two years, I’ve been amassing photos, and playing with the images to create art. Now that art is coming to life!

Five years ago, I was forced to give up my career. During that time, getting better was my number one priority. Opening to my creative side has a been a big part of the journey. Constantly, I have asked the question: What can I do? It feels like that question has been answered.


(Note: To see more products and reviews, visit the KnutsonKreations page.)

Chapter’s End

We are coming to the end of a chapter. After careful consideration of finances and health issues, we’ve decided that our focus needs to shift away from travel to other matters.

There is no doubt that last year’s adventure helped improve my health, however; it was more a step up (or out of bed, in my case) and not a long-term solution. As this disease is wont to do, it fluctuates, and I can no longer deny that I am slipping backwards. I’ve spent most of the day in bed, and I know that the need to fight off depression is real.

“Let’s go for a drive and catch the sunset,” I suggest to Ric as we finish up our supper. Glancing out the window to ensure there is time, he agrees and we grab our cameras.

We pass several other motorists, pulled over at the side of the road, doing the same thing, but I urge Ric on, wanting to get back to Indian Point Park where the bridge spans the bay with Corpus Christi as a background.

He parks and I glance around, spotting the Black-Crowned Night-Heron in its usual perch. Its colour is so much more vivid in this light, and although it is hunkered in as if sleeping, I know it will be waking soon to prowl.

A loud, woodsy croak alerts me to a Great Blue Heron passing overhead, drawing my focus back to the water’s edge where it has landed. The sun is quickly slipping below the horizon and so I return to the intended task.

One last bird catches my attention as we exit the park – a late forager, like myself, hoping for the final catch of the day.

Next step: prepare the motor home for sale. Know anyone who wants to buy one, still warm with the memories of the past two years?

Surrendering to Breakthrough

Pain has claimed left side of body – shards of glass shredding upper arm, wrenching rib cage.

It’s been days now and I am worn down by its relentlessness, so I lie down; will my prone body to surrender to the bed, envision the hand of a more gracious force cradling, soothing.

I breathe, consciously pushing the air deep into cells, focus awareness away from the pain, feel exhaustion in the lower back, stiffness of ankles, rigidity in calves – the effort of day-to-day living has taken its toll.

I picture myself lying on an air mattress, floating on calm waters, the rays of the sun lifting the chill, penetrating deep – bones and muscles welcoming heat. Imagine my breath as a conduit, breaking up the crystallized blockages – the gentle flow a steady and persistent nudge – inviting harmony.

Tension, just under the left shoulder blade, interrupts; my jaw clenches. Continuing to breath, I bring my awareness there, see the image of an airplane propeller, can smell the fuselage – did I injure myself en route, I wonder, juggling luggage too heavy for me to carry?

I see the nose of the plane plummeting, heading for a crash landing. I’ve been feeling this way lately – the downward slope of symptoms escalating. A chill washes over me – fear dwells with certainty in my cells. Even in my mind, the sky has clouded over.

I begin again. Surrender myself to a higher power. Ask for release of this fear, for guidance out of this mire. Focus on a break in the clouds, inviting the return of the sun.

Chill persists, and I choose not to fight it, letting go of thought, my body finally releasing its hold, and I float into a zone of replenishing calm. I breathe deeper and drift.

I must have fallen asleep at some point, and when I wake, I have new clarity: I returned with extra baggage from my home visit. Concern for my mother, worry for daughters – responsibility weighing me down.

It’s a conscious battle, this search for inner peace. It involves awareness – willingness to name the patterns that set us back and the courage to release them. My mother’s journey is in God’s hands, and my children all adults with a right to forge their own paths. Time to be responsible for my own life.

This quotation, borrowed from Thriving Under Pressure’s post: “Catch Your Breath.  Take a Rest, speaks to this lesson:

“Self-care is giving the world the best of you,
not what’s left of you.”

– Dr. Andrea DiNardo

(I’ve challenged myself, and my readers, to focus on stillness this week. Won’t you join us?)


The travel angels saw me home safely, even ensuring I had a whole row of seats to myself on the flight – a gift to someone wary of germs and overpowering scents.

The excitement of being back on the canal and immersed in milder temperatures overrides this total exhaustion. I slept on and off for eight hours following yesterday’s journey – a feat that rarely happens for me.

The plan was to have a quiet day, enjoy the reunion with Ric, and wash my clothes. I did not intend to get dressed. But, like all good plans, there is always something that pops up.

Today it was this beautiful, calm white Pelican, who glided downstream and lingered outside my window. My camera demanded I quickly dress and pulled me outside.

So good to be back.

(My challenge this week is destination. So often, in my dreams, I am on my way home, as if home is place I’ve not yet secured. Today, settling back into life with my husband and the birds, I feel like I’m home.)