Scars

Scars. We all have them. Whether they’re visible on our skin or deeply hidden underneath it. Either way, we often times try to hide them for everyone else. Doing our research into the most effective cream or at home treatment to rid our skin of its imperfections. Putting on a brave face for the world, giving into our vices or faking love for someone or something else to protect ourselves from whatever imperfections we feel we have on the inside.

Why do we feel the need hide them, though? Is it because we’re afraid of what people may say or think? That they might point, stare and ask how we got those ugly scars? Because if they stare, then we feel vulnerable, self-conscious and very aware that we don’t look the way that we think we should. Maybe we don’t want to explain how we got them: A noble military wound. The evidence of a stupid, teenage stunt. An accident due to being in the wrong place at the wrong time. Because if we have to explain how we got them, then we’re just reliving those bad moments that we try so hard to forget or are too embarrassed to reveal. We hide these scars so we don’t scare off the unknowing people who may raise their brows when they see them. They may become fearful of the things that gave them to us, thinking that maybe they too will be victims of similar situations.

But we fear the same things when dealing with the scars others can’t see, as well. Why do we feel the need to hide those? Are we afraid that if we open up about them and make them visible to everyone else, that it’ll make them that much more real? Maybe people will judge. The people who seem to have nothing breaking them on the inside will judge and we will feel our wounds reopening, increasing the risk of infection with every word that reluctantly spills out of our mouths. They will point and stare and wonder how we got these scars. Maybe we don’t want to explain how we got them. A broken heart. A broken home. Constant uphill battles that we can’t seem to win. Because if we tell them how we got these scars, we’re reliving the moments that broke us. The moments that sent us into a darkness of which maybe we’re finally finding some light in. We don’t want to share these parts of ourselves with others because it could scare them off. Make them fearful of the things that gave them to us. Questioning if they, too, could be a victim to similar situations.

Now you see why, of course, we try to hide them. We don’t want to put ourselves at risk by exposing them. And that’s because people can’t understand how you felt when you got those scars. They can’t put themselves in your shoes because there’s a chance they haven’t been in similar situations themselves. They were never in the military, or never got hurt doing something a stupid teenager would or they never were victim to an accident by being in the wrong place at the wrong time, So yes, you can hide your scars with layers of makeup and clothes. Yes, you can hide your imperfections from other people who may not understand the physical pain that led to those scars because they don’t have any themselves.

But when you feel like hiding the scars that aren’t visible, remember that everyone has had a heart that needed mending at one point. Everyone has scars on the inside, just like you. It’s just, that everyone pretends not to. So people come across like everything in their life is as it should be. We look at them and see only what they want us to see. That things are great, always have been and always will be. When in reality, below the surface, they aren’t as perfect as they look to be. Therefore, we don’t see past other people’s facades, which results in us feeling alone in our suffering. But the fact is, we wouldn’t feel so alone if we knew that other people were trying to heal similar scars just as we are. So, if we open up our hearts to others, and share with them the stories of our wounds, we would end up finding that they too have very similar stories. If we stop hiding the imperfections in our heart that make us who we are and the stories that made us the way we are, everyone else would see that they weren’t alone.

So, I’ll share some of mine.

I struggle with chronic headache disorders that have beaten me down many times in many ways. They’ve broken my spirit, tested my faith and beaten my body. They stir and strengthen my anxiety and make me familiar with a level of pain of which I’ve involuntarily learned to fight through. They’ve stolen from me and they continue to steal from me.

I’ve had many setbacks in my health. New diagnoses, new medicines with no new results and new doctors. Meaning, more symptoms, more side effects, more time wasted in waiting rooms and more blood tests, IVs, MRIs, you name it.

I’ve loved and I’ve lost. I’ve experienced a heartbreak or two. I’ve gone from being someone’s “person,” to being a distant familiarity, to being a stranger.

I have family members I’ll only ever know through stories I’m told. My vivid imagination giving life to people I’ve never met or never grew old enough to form a relationship with.

I’ve lost friendships to time, distance and the inevitable changes that life brings. Bonds that were once close have melted away. People who I shared belly aching laughter with now feel like people I would have to reintroduce myself to.


Maybe your scars look a little similar to mine. Maybe your scars look completely different. No matter how we got them, we all have them. So instead of pretending we’re all untouched and unscathed, maybe we share our stories and help heal each other’s scars.

Mary vs. the MRI Machine

My Neurologist doctor is like that super fancy 5 star restaurant where people are on waiting lists for months just to get a taste of their high-class plates–He’s got a lot to offer, in super high demand, and has to be booked six months out.

Most often, I see my Physician Assistant–who is super awesome, has exponentially furthered my forward progress finding help for my headaches and I love seeing her. But, seeing the actual doctor is a different type of visit. He’s just so intelligent and has a different way of thinking, so there’s always something new that I learn and he always suggests a new path to try.

Today, I continued to explain my symptoms. I told him how my atlas orthogonal treatments (post all about that coming soon!) has helped decrease the intensity of my daily headaches, but hasn’t helped my exertion headaches. Nothing has. I still feel the intensifying pounding when I do yoga, lift, run, walk up the stairs, bend over, etc. From heavy workouts to mundane every day tasks like walking up stairs–my headaches intensify and the pounding begins immediately.

Apparently, patients who experience that same type of thing (headaches intensifying by coughing, bending over, walking up stairs, etc.) often have a blockage in their venous channel. So perhaps I am among those patients. Of course, it’s a very uncommon occurrence, but people close to me know I’ve never been one to exactly fall into the “norm” category, esp. when it comes to my health.

So what does that mean? It means I have to get another MRI–but this time an MRV. It’s an MRI that looks specifically at your veins to look for blockages. If it’s positive, there’s a treatment where they put a stent in to clear up that blockage and open up flow. If it’s negative–well, then more MRIs will be taken and more serious tests need to be addressed.

So here’s to hoping that this MRI is positive (I don’t normally wish for that, nor do many people.)

Let me ask you this: how annoyed and frustrated are you when you’re not able to exercise because you’re sick, or you have a concussion, or you pulled a muscle, etc? Probably pretty frustrated (for the most part) because you want to feel active and youthful. Well, I haven’t felt active and physically youthful in about 7 years. I’m 23 years old and simply walking up the stairs and briskly walking across the room makes my head feel like it’s about to blow. It’s extremely discouraging. All I want is to be able to do yoga, run around carelessly, start  lifting again, doing anything really. Being unable to exercise or be active makes you feel lazy, large and lame. It starts to eat at your self-confidence and self-image. I say this because before my headaches became the way they are today, I was physically active every day and loved it. I loved being active and working to stay fit. It’s not even an option for me anymore.

So knowing that a positive MRI and implanting a stent in my veins could possibly bring me my old lifestyle back makes me oddly wish for a positive MRI result.

 

Anyone else out there experience exertion headaches like me? Or in any way, shape or form?

I’d love to hear your stories, advice, etc! We’re here to support and encourage one another 🙂

The Lotus Flower

It wasn’t planted in a bed of full soil among other lucky seeds. It wasn’t given what others were blessed with. It was born an underdog.

I was not built to live in a fully healthy body like so many others around me. I was handed cards that others have been blessed not to have received. I was born an underdog.

It grows within muddied waters and it has to push its way out to get some light in its life.

I continue to grow despite each new obstacle that life throws my way. I push my body to whatever helps it feel healthier.

It reaches the light, blossoms and thrives despite its unfavorable beginnings. It is a Cinderella story.

I push myself further and harder each day so that I, too, can blossom. So that I may reach my sun and come out on top, despite the unfavorable circumstances I’ve been given. Despite the never ending headaches and the on-going speed bumps in my journey to find treatments that help. Despite the wear and tear that my heart, mind and body have undergrone throughout it all.

I will become the Cinderella story.


 

 

What’s the Word? Vanquish 


When you try to illustrate victory by attempting to draw a victory flag of sorts but it just ends up looking like a golf course hole….. Yeah.. Oh well. 

Whatever! Here’s your word of the week (about 10 weeks late. Whoops) 

We all wish we can so easily just defeat our problems, whatever they may be. It’s never that easy though, is it? We have to continuously work at making progress to eventually make our problems disappear. At least that’s how it works when the problems you’re trying to defeat are chronic health problems. 

What’s This Feeling I Feel?

Is it anger? Resentment? Envy?

Maybe a mixture of all three?

I don’t really have the right to feel any of them, honestly. I’m angry because it’s like I took three steps forward and ten steps backward. I’m filled with resentment because my peers are out drinking, socializing, and filling their lives with excitement on their days off, while I’m sitting inside brainstorming and researching ways to bring my pain down even just a notch. I envy people who can do things even as simple as sit around the dinner table with their families and only worry about when to get up for seconds in order to not miss out on the really good food everyone wants to devour.

I should replace my anger with disappointment, my resentment with understanding and my envy with good will. I just need to remind myself that I’m allowed to be disappointed and frustrated at my situation, but never angry. I can’t be angry because today I woke up, opened my eyes and kept on going. I can’t resent others for doing what I wish I could be. We were all given different battles to fight, and I have to understand that my battle is just different than my friends battles. I shouldn’t be envious, because I know I have good things in my life too. I should be happy that my friends are able to enjoy a life without constant physical pain. I never want to drag anyone and would never wish my situation upon even my worst enemy. I think it’s alright for me to be jealous every once in a while, because I’m only human. But I will try to push envy away from my side when I can.

 

What’s the Word? ✖️ “Onerous”

Adj. burdensome, troublesome, or oppressive. 

 
AKA many many things people with chronic health problems face day in and day out. A word we don’t like to use, but can’t help but to associate ourselves with. However, because we identify so closely with this word, it results us to also associate ourselves with words like strength, perseverance, and courage.  

Soulful Sunday

   for all of you who just can’t understand why things are the way they are right now. Keep holding on to the faith that one day we will understand. 

I can’t understand why it is I’m feeling the way I’m feeling lately, both physically and mentally. Can’t figure out why I haven’t been able to get out of this funk and can’t figure out why this time is different than others and why my head is doing so bad for so long, so different than times before.

Holding on to the faith that one day I will understand. Hoping you all are doing the same, no matter what it is that you’re trying to understand. 

Wish You Were Here

I get these types of postcards sent to me on a regular basis. Not the tangible kind, mind you. The mental kind I create in my head. I’ve got a whole stack of em that I sift through every once in a while.

Throughout the many years (which seem like a lifetime, quite frankly) that I’ve had these headaches, I only experienced fleeting moments of self-doubt and another thing that we spoonies so often feel called FOMO (fear of missing out.) My headaches weren’t daily until I was about 20 or so years old. Up until then, my headaches were only bothering me every time I did hard cardio, when my hormones were increased, or when my occasional migraine came to visit. So, I really only felt like an outsider every once in a while. It was only occasionally that I was missing out on trips, adventures with friends, parties, birthdays, etc. It never really affected me emotionally or mentally at that time. At least it didn’t affect me enough for me to dwell on it. Everyone misses out on things sometimes. It’s part of life. What right did I have to complain about it?

This past summer though, my headaches took a turn for the worse. Not sure what triggered this major change with my health. Trust me, I’ve backtracked to try to find out. My investigative skills are better than most, but even I couldn’t solve this case. But really, that’s the strangeness that comes with headaches. It’s all too often that headaches cannot be traced to a particular cause. At least, that’s what I’ve been told by the flock of doctors I’ve visited. But back to the main story… Starting this past summer I was hit by this train that didn’t stop moving once it hit me. Yup, a classic hit and run, folks.

All of a sudden, I was missing out on weekend nights with my friends, birthday celebrations, brunches, concerts, etc. I was missing out on things that I was so frequently doing just months before with all my friends at college. While my case could clearly still be worse, it’s very hard to accept such a drastic lifestyle change, especially one that you didn’t voluntarily make. Even more so when you’re as social and outgoing as I am.

Instead, I was staying in alone, taking tons of naps (s/o to my dear friend, narcolepsy), praying my head didn’t defy science and spontaneously combust, and eating way more ice cream than the average person would be told is healthy by their general practitioner (PSA: please don’t use me as an example by comparison when asking your general practitioner what amount of ice cream consumption is considered to be healthy. Chances are your doctor probably already knows me anyways, so HA! Joke’s on you)

I told myself that things would turn around. That I just needed to give it a few more days until I was back on my feet again, so to speak. They always did turn around when I ran into long flares like these before. I would experience a string of weeks and weekends where I had to refrain from the activities I normally took part in, but then something would change and I’d be back to my normal, low grade, every day type-of-headache self.

For some mystery reason, this time, that didn’t happen. Yep, to this day I continue to turn down invites. I continue to yell (internally of course) at Netflix when it asks me if I’m still watching (stop judging me Netflix, you don’t know my life!) I continue to spoon another bite of Häagen-Dazs into my mouth while watching the Snapchats of my friends out on Friday nights.

I remain an optimist (about 85% of the time, because I’m not Giselle from “Enchanted” ok?) and I come up with so many well thought out plans for the next weekend, thinking “Next weekend I’ll feel good enough to do “fill in the blank here.” But these “well thought out” plans stay just exactly that: “well thought out plans.” I very rarely get to put my well thought out plans into action. And as someone who was labeled the “plan-maker” of my friend group time and time again, this is a hard pill to swallow. It’s awfully discouraging to daydream about road trips when in reality you wake up feeling too crappy to even make a trip to the kitchen.

Seeing all of my peers take advantage of their free time by crossing items off their bucket lists, visiting new cities, and trying new things just has me feeling like, (even though it isn’t my fault), I’m doing nothing with my time and wasting so many of my days doing what my dad would label as “diddly-squat”. Yeah, most of the time I can take control over my pain and turn my “woe is me” mentality into a “smile and wave” mentality.  I take one for the team and go out and do things pretending there actually isn’t wrecking ball having its way with me inside my skull. But there are so many times lately, where I just can’t physically do that anymore.

This isn’t meant to be a “depressing” post. It isn’t meant to be discouraging or sad. It’s not being written to score sympathy or words like “Wow, I could never deal with that. How do you do it?” While those words are often taken as compliments (to a certain degree, I will say) it’s just not what I’m looking to gain from this. I’m really not trying to gain anything other than relief for myself. It’s a selfish post with an underlying goal of reaching other people out there who are feeling just like me: stuck, helpless, and like I’m wasting these beautiful days away unwillingly.

I’m ambitious. I’m a dreamer. I’m a wannabe world traveler. I’m a foodie (with certain diet restrictions of course. Shout out to my food allergy friends. Epi-pens 4lyfe) I want to visit new places, do new things and meet new people. I want to see the works of God’s hands– the mountains, deserts, oceans, rolling hills and waterfalls instead of just “liking” the ones I see on my Instagram feed. I want to drool over and then devour all of the delicious food I can afford to (both financially and physically without getting sick) in one sitting.

Therefore, being tied to my bed, or the couch, or being blinded by the back of my sleepy eyelids just leaves me feeling like those ambitions and dreams will take me nowhere new. Like I’m wasting the days, hours and minutes that I could be spending experiencing a new culture first-hand, seeing a sunset in a new city or meeting a Scottish group of friends at their go-to pub and tuning everything they say out because I’m just too mesmerized by their accents.

I put an extreme amount of effort into keeping myself out of the dark places, so that I can spread light to other people who may be feeling this feeling of “wasting away” themselves. I’ll admit, on days like today, it’s hard to do that though. Sometimes I allow myself to be on the other side of that line. Sometimes I’m the person who needs someone else’s light to be spread to me.

So for now, I’ll keep flipping through all of these postcards from the different places that I wish to be. So even when I’m in bed with all the lights out and a have a cold compress on my head, in my own little world, I’ll actually be in Italy with pizza sauce spilling on my shirt, or in California driving down Highway 1 with the windows down, or even just down the road a little ways sipping on a satisfying mimosa with my friends talking about the weirdly wonderful things we talk about with one another.

Yeah, that’s where I’ll really be.