The Edge of Darkness

Living day to day, I struggle just to breath.

Trying to keep my calm. Praying for a long reprieve.

Balancing on the edge, each moment that I take.

Stomping down moments of regret, trying to avoid another mistake.

End it now or keep pressing on, decisions never far from thought.

Wishing for a peaceful existence, no demands or responsibilities fought.

For my shattered mind, so fragile, worn thin, how did I get to this place?

Always so strong, so determined, now weakness, an utter disgrace.

Body broken, weighed down, crippled in chronic pain.

Pushing myself, the frustration, no endurance, pushed in vain.

Questioning my existence, anger, fear, and doubt.

Stuck in a hole with no exit, surrounded by a withering drought.

The end so close, I feel it near. Do I reach out and grasp it’s hand?

Even the thought of that decision is simply too heavy a demand.

I think of their faces, my heart and soul, the pain that would never heal.

Do I put that burden upon them? A pain I never want them to feel.

But is my life worth keeping? A weight dragging everyone down.

Unable to care for myself, all the tasks piling up and I drown.

No one here to pass the torch to, everyone looking for me to depend on.

How can they even think it’s realistic, blinded by who I once was, she’s gone.

My hubby, exhausted, I see the burn out taking it’s toll.

He refuses to acknowledge, yet it seeps from his very soul.

My heart breaking in a million pieces, I feel helpless to my core.

Dreaming of winning the lottery, hire help, hire so much more.

Life’s journey, roads traveled, didn’t turn out as I’d expect.

How much damage one’s health can do, lacking services and respect.

No one chooses to be ill, dreams shattered and washed away.

Passions abandoned and unfinished, life in a state of decay.

Never quite enough to qualify for getting my needs met.

Like a dangled carrot above me, while being judged, but don’t fret.

Is it worth hanging on, listening to others scorn?

Sitting in their high castles, while my soul does nothing but mourn?

Cut them out from my existence, not worth the extra stress.

Neither willing to lend a hand, while I continue to regress.

Sitting in judgement seats while my body rots away.

And you wonder why I cut you out, a game I simply won’t play.

Every little bit of stress adds another layer deep.

Breaking down my body even faster while I weep.

My life now down to few, the only ones that matter.

Do I continue to hold on, do I give in to the madhatter?

Like a prophesy once told, left a simple talking head.

But even talking exhausts me, maybe better off if dead.

Dianne MacKay 6/24/2022

A Million Dollars… I can dream, right?

I’ve played the lottery so many times, I’ve lost count. Even if I only got 5 in a row for the million dollars, I’d be content. I’ve entered the HGTV dream home as often as I remember as well. Cash option or the house? What a tough decision but if I won it today, I’d choose the house! (I think!). A fresh start in a new state away from the nightmares of the last 7 years that have plagued me. And better medical! Just the idea of living so close to a good medical establishment is enough in and of itself. A place that understands rare disease, doctor’s who could actually give me and my children a treatment plan and care. Sigh…

The dream of simply being debt free. Free to use the money we have to handle our needs without struggling, without juggling, without having to pass up on things we could really use but can’t quite afford. So many things that could make our lives easier when battling disease but just out of reach for us. A main floor master bedroom with an appropriate bathroom, an office, a pool for hot days when our heat sensitivity flares up as simply entering the cool water lifts the heavy fatigue, dizziness and disorientation in a way nothing else can. I was recently told by my home physical therapist that I simply have two appropriate options for physical therapy that would be a benefit for me due to the conditions I suffer. Water therapy and a recumbent stationary bike. Two items I don’t have and to access them is difficult due to the energy it drains from me simply leaving my home, not to mention how driving is becoming an issue and hubby works too much to take me to my appointments.

To imagine being debt free and my husband being able to simple work a part time job to keep him stimulated while being available to the family to help with our medical needs. I dream. The loss of my career aspirations when I become disabled was a devastating blow, having spent over a decade working towards that goal and then having it slip through my fingers. I feel useless being unable to contribute. Even though I have my VA disability, it’s truly not enough to cover our needs. Imagine being debt free and being able to hire the help we desperately need. Someone to help me upkeep my home, change my bedding, clean my shower, tasks I actually once enjoyed as I’m a stress cleaner and neat freak and now unable to do those simple tasks. It saddens me. I miss my yard work, spending time in the garden. So much work I put into our last home when my condition was moderate and not quite so severe. Yet we gave up that home for extended families sake which ended up being one of the worst mistakes we made.

So many regrets. That home was much more fitting for my disabilities and contained all the touches, blood, sweat, and tears that I was able to put into it, doing my passion, a little here, a little there while still able at that time to at least do something I loved. The regret is a heavy burden I carry, unable to put those touches into our current home that isn’t nearly as set up to meet our needs and nothing left in me to give. If I won the lottery, I would hire someone to design the home in the way in which I imagined when I first set eyes upon it. But I’d still move. I’d probably keep it as an investment but just being able to see my ideas spring to life, even if from someone else’s hands, that would satisfy me. But the cold in our state was not something I thought I’d ever have to worry about.

The bitter cold, so crippling to my muscles. It’s cold about 8+ months out of the year here. That’s just over two months to be able to live my life with less pain and more movement before having to start the cycle all over again and stuck to my recliners and left to my writing, my support groups, and my anxiety over the tasks that never get done. I need a warmer climate. But I feel stuck. The money it costs to move to a whole new state, a new life, starting all over again, I just don’t have that kind of money. The thought depresses me as I know having better health care and living in a warmer climate might actually improve my function and abilities and options. I feel stuck.

I truly dream of buying one of those rectangular hot tubs with the hand rails and moving current. That would be the PERFECT way I could actually exercise my muscles so I don’t lose anymore than I already have. I tend to live at the waterpark during the summer, sitting on a tube in the lazy river and moving my legs as much as I can to maintain what’s left of them. But each year it gets more crowded and the tubes get less and less as I wait for an availability and then worry about having too many pushing people around me shoving me in wrong direction and hoping not to get hurt. It’s not the best environment for disabled people.

And my kids. My kids who need access to top specialists due to certain rare conditions that I would not trust just anyone to take care of. They’re my life. The services are extremely limited where I live. Our state is also behind on access to certain medicines legal in over half of our states but not in ours. A medicine that actually provides some relief and benefit and even suggested by my kids doctor as well as my own but yet, it’s not allowed. What is, isn’t enough. So once again, I feel stuck.

If only I had a million dollars. The ability to pay off every one of my debts, fix the house enough to either be sellable or rentable and the money to move to a place more suitable to our needs, our family. The funds that would then be available to hire the help we need, the devices and services we need, and to finally rest. It’s that time. Rest is needed, the ability to pass the torch and be taken care of. I’ve spent my whole life taking care of others but now it’s my time, my turn, to simply rest. I need rest.

Stages of Grief… A Rare Disease

After all these years.. So many years.. I’ve fought to be believed. I’ve fought for answers to what I believe is slowly killing me. Always blamed on my conditions that are not progressive, that don’t cause the symptoms that were bothering me most. Always told my blood looks good and there was nothing wrong with me. But my blood doesn’t always look good and yet they say otherwise.

I’ve been told I’m just overly anxious. I’ve been told I’m simply focusing on it too much and if I distract myself, I’ll feel better. I’ve been told it’s all in my head. Not even just by medical professionals, the people we’re supposed to trust and turn to for guidance, diagnoses, and direction but also by family of all people who should have my back the most. Being called a hypochondriac, always thinking I’m dying or I have this or that. Being told I’m faking. Being told I’m scamming the system. Having others talk about me behind my back instead of coming together to support and help me. That’s very damaging.

Now imagine going through that for so many years. So many years the damage that builds up inside. PTSD from seeking help and being cast aside. Questioning your own sanity and your own self asking if it’s truly possible I was simply imagining the torment my body is going through. You can not imagine the hell my mind was put through. You simply can not imagine… unless you too have been through it.

And then one day, 22 years later. #22 for those in the know. TWENTY TWO YEARS later I get some answers. It’s not in my head. It’s not fake. It’s not anxiety, somatic symptom disorder, being overly anxious, a hypochondriac, a scammer of the system, or attention seeker. I have a REAL DISEASE. Not only a real disease but a super rare disease. About 1 in 200,000 people. Not only a rare disease but a debilitating disease. Not only a debilitating disease but a fatal disease. I have a REAL disease. And it pains me even to say that knowing many suffer from fibro and ME/CFS just like I do but we are not treated like patients with a real disease or taken seriously when we’re falling apart and suffering in so much pain and disability. They are real too, likely a collection to explain a disease simply being underdiagnosed and ignored when basic labs are normal because doctors don’t know how to look beyond the narrow box in which they seek to fit everyone.

I find myself going through the stages of grief. You’d think I’d feel elated. Vindicated, justice at last but oddly enough, I find myself soaked in grief, in shock, anger and bitterness over all the time wasted. All the time being put through hell, being bashed, emotionally abused, and mistreated and allowed to progress so badly there is no coming back from this. My body is damaged. Had they simply listened when I first complained. Had they only helped me when I told them that exertion is making me more ill, that I needed help! Both medically and at home as I am dying and I feel it in every cell of my body but no help came. Because they didn’t believe. On top of that insurance and the VA rules are so contradictory and on paper offer so much of what people need but they dangle it on a string above our heads but simply out of reach of us.

And if I do ever finally get granted the funds I need to pay for the help I’ve been asking for, do you really think I’d turn around and pay those who’ve denied me the help I’ve been asking for all this time but never truly given it? Only to help when paid? I rather hire a stranger off the street. The pain is so deep. How do I ever recover from that? I want to look each person in the eye who ever denied me, gaslighted me, and blamed mental health and tell them how truly ignorant they are, how truly wrong they were. They are a danger to others if they ever think it’s ok to allow someone to suffer as much as I have suffered and not do their jobs and help me.

I’m still bouncing between shock, grief, and anger while I process the news I’ve been given. To validate the symptoms I’ve been battling for so long, the progression, the pain… I’ve been broken down mentally by the exhaustion of it all, to the point that simple stress causes paralysis and pain. Apparently, that’s a real thing with not only my disease but other diseases that affect the brain as well. So if I tell you that I don’t need the stress in my life, I don’t want to argue or waste my time on the stupid shit and you choose to continue it, you obviously do not care for my health and wellbeing. You are part of the problem. You are part of the progression of my disease.

If you truly cared, don’t you think you’d ask me questions about what I’m dealing with? Wouldn’t you want to know more about the disease I’ve been finally diagnosed with after twenty two years? Wouldn’t you be shocked with me that my disease can be fatal and my numbers cut short? Where is your compassion and concern? How about the fear of whether I’ve passed this down to my own children?! Something that literally paralyzes me and keeps me up at night as I wait this slow snails pace of a medical system to get my children tested so we know what our future holds. I’d take it all from them if I could.

How can I not feel the depths of despair and depression with everything I’m going through right now? That’s a tough pill for anyone to swallow. All I feel is loss. I don’t want to swallow this pill. I’m tired of pills. I’m just very tired.

It’s Fatal… What?!

It’s mind blowing to know

I have a fatal disease

Without treatment starting

Get it started, please!

Even with treatment

Some don’t respond

And many still progress

That’s not treatment, that’s wrong!

The bigger fear

Will my kids have these genes?

The wait to find out…

They have symptoms, it seems

I told them I was dying

I feel it inside

Too long they dismissed me

I’ve progressed on this ride

Hopeful the treatment

Might stop some decline

But get me in to that center

It’s not your life, it’s mine!

The wait for their results

It’s like standing still

Life in slow motion

Progressively ill

No moving forward

Till we sort this all out

Then maybe I’ll rest

No more questions or doubt

Try to enjoy what’s left

Of this crippled life

Just please not my children

That’s my mental strife.

Dianne MacKay 4/26/2022

Just Eat The Cookie and Die

It’s amazing to me how many people are willing to sacrifice others for a false sense of security, to make them feel safe. It’s even more amazing when it comes from someone in your own family who has had the time to know your life, your experience, your health issues, your story, and yet they still want you to eat the cookie that could potentially kill you, just to make them feel safe.

The cookie in question would be a cookie that you have a known allergy to, as well as a prior history of eating that cookie and having your health destroyed. Knowing there are many others like myself who have also eaten that cookie and had the same reaction and struggling just to live life with the myriad of conditions and health issues spurned by those damn cookies.

Those cookies destroyed my health. When trying to find out why, no one seemed to care. What makes my genes different? What made people like me respond in the way in which we did? There’s an obvious genetic component involved but no one wants to study the issue. Why? I can only assume, since the manufactures have no real liability, they have no real incentive to research the issue. Studies costs money. There are many many willing participants who’d love to be involved to see what makes us different so we can enjoy a safe cookie like everyone else but we’re the minority and I’ve since learned, we really don’t matter. No one wants to spend the money and they likely don’t want to admit that their cookies can cause that kind of harm in the first place.

For two decades, I’ve brought up these questions. I’ve asked medical personnel. I’ve been silenced, gaslit, and told correlation doesn’t equal causation… Let’s think about that last statement. Correlation doesn’t equal causation. Wow, can that apply to many things but in my cookie case, it almost always seems to apply. We know that only a small number of people have their injuries reported in the first place. This is fact. Even drug reactions are rarely reported, I’ve witnessed that many time. If these reactions are not being reported as they’re supposed to, then we don’t have a legitimate accurate database where we can see how many people had the exact same reaction and how that reaction grew over time. We miss the obvious, that many have had that same response and correlation is looking much more common than otherwise reported. Seeing those numbers would then, ethically prompt more research into the issue. Just like a black box warning applied to meds that were later deemed unsafe for a subset of the population. But cookie injury reporting is one of the least of all reported types of injuries. Again, is it the lack of liability? Why wouldn’t we want a safe alternative for those who can’t digest it?

In becoming injured by those infamous cookies, health declining and disabled, I have become the vulnerable. The vulnerable who can no longer eat of those cookies. It would be harmful to my health and since we don’t know what the mechanism is behind it, we have to assume it’s the entire cookie. Had they researched the issue, maybe we could have pinpointed something in it or understood the way in which my body processes those cookies but again, no one cared enough to investigate the issue. In addition, current cookies now contain an ingredient that I do have a known allergy to. And sadly, I was told by my own family member that I should eat it anyway. Aren’t they the ones who are supposed to eat the cookies to protect me? The ones who can’t? That’s the line we’ve been fed for generations yet that somehow suddenly doesn’t apply? Or is my family member just being toxic and selfish willing to sacrifice another for the impression of saving himself? That’s what catering to the ‘greater good’ does to people. It’s always at the expense of another and I just so found out, I am the other they’re willing to sacrifice. Doesn’t look good on this side of the fence.

Living my life through a window’s view..

Hubby made a comment yesterday about one of his work ladies bringing her baby to work. He got to hold and cuddle the little one and he was geeked about it. It stung. I realized I’m starting to feel insecure and jealous and I don’t want to be that person. I’m missing out on even the simple things in life to bring one some happiness. I feel trapped behind these four walls. I see life passing me by and I’m only in my early 40’s. I should be living it up before my 50’s strike. I’ve been ill since my early 20’s with periods of time where I was managing ok but the last, going on 6 years now, have only been a downward sloap with no real periods of remission.

I have so many health issues that they seem to feed off each other, one flaring up the other and making things worse. It’s embarrassing how many conditions affect me. I don’t want to be that person. I am that person. I hate it.  I’ve always wondered deep down if I had never joined the military, if I’d be much healthier today. That was the catalyst. I’m certain of that.  I was pretty healthy before hand and it didn’t take long to start attacking my body, shortly after joining. Was it the vaccines? The abundance of physical activity? Some other kind of exposure? I do know I’m not alone in what I suffer as there are so many veterans going through the same. Maybe we all have a certain genetic disposition that caused us all to express certain genes that might otherwise have remained dormant? I have found that many of us are hypermobile. Many have gone on to be diagnosed with ehlers-danlos or hypermobility syndrome. Is that the link? But not all of them have that.

What we have in common is ME/CFS, fibro, IBS, chronic headaches, and unexplained neurological signs and symptoms. There’s more but that’s what the VA will compensate for. A lot of us also have GERD, other stomach issues, IBD (which they deny the link), migraines, and other problems involving our joints and muscles. Various cancers run higher in veterans as well as MS, parkinsons, ALS, and other problems. I can logically understand arthritis and wearing and tearing of our joints due to all the physical requirements. That makes sense. But what about the rest of it? That’s where things get murky. What do we all have in common? Why do we all suffer so many similarities? Even if the general population were to start having the same health issues at the rate of veterans, we were the first. At least that I’m aware of, so it started with us vets.

So many studies to get to the root of the issue and yet most of that money seemed wasted on studying stress and the human body. Not all of us were put under loads of stress. I guess putting the focus on stress makes it easier to blame the mind that any physical exposures we might all have in common. No government would want to admit to that, but it’s what most of us are thinking.

We will probably never get any real answers. At least not while still walking this earth, or in my case, watching life pass me by out the windows of my home, stuck behind these four walls, and sinking into a funk, wishing myself well again. You can only hold on to hope for so long. As the years pass by, that hope gets heavier and heavier to hold onto. Trying to keep a positive mind frame but when you’re riddled with pain that’s inadequately treated, it has a way of making hope, that much heavier.

Genetic testing! Zebra results soon

Well, I’m finally getting tested for ehlers-danlos! Excited to know if that’s the cause of my Zebra self. My genetic counselor is also running another type of panel on me. He said my symptoms remind him of….Dystonia.  F*ck. (scuse my language). I had run into that word before and felt it was reminiscent but wasn’t fully on board due to the literature not quite matching up with my symptoms. So I joined a Facebook group for patient experiences and sure as shit, it fits. My son is also showing those same signs. (disgruntled angry mom about this).

Those crazy vibrations? Well, it seems common in this group. My muscles are also pretty tight for being on bed rest most of the day. I should have atrophy, I don’t. Guess those vibrations are keeping my muscles from completely relaxing so I’m exercising without intent, so it seems. I’m really nervous about this one as reading about it sucks. I don’t think there is any family history of this. It also might not show in my genes so if it doesn’t, off to a movement disorder specialist to get checked out. Knowing that my son is exhibiting the same signs, I feel strongly, it’s in my genes.

I got my periodic paralysis panel back and they found a VUS. Variant of Unknown significance. Typically they don’t allow free family testing for a VUS but they are studying this condition and since the frequency was non-existent, they are testing my family. My genetic counselor said the lower the frequency, the higher the odds for a pathogenic mutation. Makes sense.

So maybe soon, I’ll have answers as to why my body has fallen apart and why I am not so normal. Maybe the physical aspect of the military along with the exposures caused it to express? I never had signs of anything during my childhood. Then maybe the constant physical therapy kept triggering it? I guess that part doesn’t make sense as obviously it was triggered to cause physical therapy. Still learning. Still wanting to know WHY I was so healthy before I joined the military and yet so ill upon leaving it. Why!? No one else in my family seems to suffer like I do. They’re all healthy in my direct family line. Vaccine reactions to the onslaught of toxic goo given to me all at once? My body doesn’t process things normally. Anthrax vaccine? Some mystery experiment done on me?

I have so many medical conditions it makes my head spin. It’s also extremely embarrassing to list them all.  ME/CFS, Fibro, Migraines, tension headaches, IC, UC, IBS, POTS, autonomic issues, mild emphysema, possible HKPP (I’m almost certain I have this), and others…

The wait sucks. I’m waiting. Will update…. soon(?).

Invisible Illness…

The pain is there, inflammation too, but doctor’s are clueless, what should I do?

I have an invisible illness that has taken hold, slowly crippling my way of life. I had my dreams ahead of me, a future to look forward to.  I was in the gym getting myself in shape, discovering that I had a love for running. I was studying for the LSAT, getting ready to start a new journey, one that I had been looking forward to for many years. Master’s degree down and Law school in my future, perfect for my type A all in type of personality. I’m no wimp.  I like to get my hands dirty. In fact, I’m a bit of a micro-manager.  I rather do things myself, I have high standards, no one will do it as well as I could.  But all that has changed. I’m not who I am anymore. I have an invisible illness.

Probably one of the most difficult things with an invisible illness is not what I suffer with daily, but the doubts in my doctors eyes, the suspicion, the questions. How do you prove what you feel when pain can not be measured? When holding up your phone in bed causes your arms to throb, cleaning causes your body to flare up in pain, weighed down by invisible weights pulling you towards the floor. Just walking up the stairs with those heavy weights is enough to make me pause and rest, draw in my breath, and gather my strength.  Noises smothering you till you just want to crawl in a quiet dark hole and let your mind be at peace. Movements overwhelming, filling your vision till you just want to shut everything out and rest.

I’m hypersensitive. I feel every ache in my body, my bladder only slightly filled yet the sensation is every present, a tiny gas bubble searing it’s way in my insides, my heart beating against my breast, a tiny hair irritating my cheek, the way my breast squish against my bra, the artery pulsating in my stomach, my dry eyes, painful joints, aching muscles, horrific stomach pains day in and day out. I feel everything. Surrounded by a sea of sensations waiting for my next escape. The drugs dull the pain, the sensations, the heavy fatigue, pushed at bay for a few hours relief until the effects wear thin and the feelings return.

I have an invisible illness, one shared by many but never the less, ignored and pushed aside, treated as though it is a disease of the mind and not physical, physiological or neurological in nature as the symptoms suggest. Remember when epilepsy was a mental illness, locked up in an institution because doctors didn’t know how to handle what they couldn’t measure?  History repeats itself.  Rather than telling the patient that technology has not caught up with the process, they blame them instead for PTSD, anxiety, somatization, and depression. Anxiety may be my cross to bear, but logic rules my mind. Can they not handle defeat? Do they not know that they are not infallible, not all knowing and all mighty?

One day they will look back and know.  They failed us.  They denied us, ignored us, and left us to rot. They had no answers, but they will…one day.

 

Please share, comment, or like on this post.  Most of my posts are just for myself as writing helps with my frustrations, but I think my story represents a large number of people in this world.  Even a quick comment to say hello!  I just want to see if this post is being seen, if you can relate.