Photojournal April 16 – 20

April 16: Fish are hard to photograph, but here are two of the fish who live in my room – Hope III (female Betta) and Tuberosity (the cory cat, aka Tubby).  I had to do a major cleaning of my fish tank because I noticed I had Planaria Worms, a non-parasitic worm that lives in fish tanks and feeds off the food remains.
April 17: Another part of the big cleaning project, my dad built new shelves in my closet.  I’ve been wanting these for a long time, so I’m pretty excited about them!
April 18: I had a bit of an accident falling down the steps out our back door.  Hurt my ankle which swelled up quite nicely.


April 19: Went to the doctor for an x-ray today since the foot was still very swollen and painful, turns out that it was just a sprain, no breaks.  But it is still very painful and I’ll be in a walker boot for a week at least.

April 20: This is a summary of my day, sleeping, reading, watching House, all with my foot propped up to reduce swelling and Tyler and Maigee looking on to be sure I am doing okay.

Photos of Enjoyment – April 6-9

April 6: After my mom bought a pie crust, disappointing my newly found skills at pie crust making, I decided to make a crust and turn it into ickles.  Ickles are a pie crust rolled into a rectangle, covered with a layer of brown sugar and cinnamon, rolled up, and baked.
April 7: After experiencing digestive issues over the past few months, my GI decided to schedule me for a EGD (upper GI scope).  I asked for a copy of my images to share, the results showed that I have a hiatal hernia which is causing the reflux.  This is actually good news because it means that I don’t have an ulcer!


April 8: I was getting potatoes ready for mashed potatoes for Easter, and I came across this “guy.”  I decided “he” looked like a little guy with a bad hair day!


April 9: While taking pictures of Maigee wearing her new bandanna from Custom Canines and she gave me this silly shot by yawning during the picture.  I can’t decide if she looks ferocious or like she is laughing.


When Good Plans Go Bad

It can be frustrating when you have ideas for your life that just don’t work out how you planned.  As part of academic advising, I had things all planned out, I knew what classes I was going to take when.  In spring of 2013, I would graduate with a Bachelor degree in Neuroscience.  Everything looked so nice and neat on paper.

The past few weeks have been a real struggle.  Between going to Cleveland Clinic to evaluate a possible genetic condition, the development of a seemingly invincible urinary tract infection, and some other health issues, class has taken a back seat to my health.  After talking with my professors, I had everything planned out how I was going to make up work and catch up this past week.  Everything again looked great on paper.

Unfortunately, life doesn’t always go quite so smoothly as it looks on paper.  A bit of bad timing of a stomach flu knocked me out this entire past week, destroying my plans for make-up work.  As a result, I now have to make-up the missed make-up work as well as the regular work from last week.  This combined with everything else was causing more stress and anxiety regarding trying to catch up and keep my grades up.  Unfortunately, stress causes more pain and a vicious cycle begins.

Last week, I was determined to stick it out throughout the semester, regardless of the circumstances.  Careful consideration and prayers brought me to the point that I was able to decide that it was time for me to take a medical leave of absence from college and go home in an attempt to break the cycle.

Someone mentioned to me that if they were in my situation, they would be asking God why He had “ruined” everything.  But the thing is, I have discovered that this does nothing.  There is nothing wrong with asking why and I certainly do my share of it, but at this point in my life, I’ve learned that trusting Him is easier than asking “why?!”

Looking back, the times I asked God why make more sense now than they did in the circumstance.  I suspect that the same will be true of this situation.  In the meantime, I’ve been making a list of things I can look forward to now.  This list includes getting a rabbit, spending some time in a friend’s horse barn, hanging out with friends, and doing some graphic design work.  I find that looking at the positive helps put the negative in a better light.

The Liebster Award

I am incredibly honored to have recieved the Liebster Blog Award from Chris Dean who blogs at Life Your Way.  “Liebster” is German and means favorite or beloved.  The point of the award is that it is given to blogs that are somewhat less known.  I’ve noticed this among other blog awards around, but never expected to receive one myself.
I’m even more surprised by the kind description she used to describe me and my blog: “I haven’t been following her long, but Amber is a fun-loving, positive person with a big heart! Don’t believe me? Check out her post ‘Crazy Sock Day!'”
Now it is my turn to pass this award to others who are so deserving!

Here are the rules for this award.  Upon receipt of the award, one is to:
1) Link back to the blogger who gave it.
2) Paste the award on the blog.
3) Choose 5 blogs to pass this award to (they must have fewer than 200 followers).
4) Let the recipients know about their nomination by leaving a comment on their blogs.

Written by Grace, More than a Pair of Chutes is a blog I thoroughly enjoy reading.  As a mother of three, she loves small-scale farming including chickens she graciously shares many pictures of so I can enjoy them (since I’ve secretly wanted chickens for a long time).  She is also an amazing cook/baker and shares some fantastic recipes on her blog.

Maria at Going Down Swinging has a strong influence in my life.  Struggling with her own battles with chronic illness, she refuses to give in and continues to fight back.  She has chosen to make healing and a positive attitude a way of life.  Though we may not agree on all points, she is an inspiration to taking the best care of my body as I can!

Another blog I consider to be a huge motivator and encouragement when I’m struggling is Caf of Rellacafa.  She chooses to use positive coping skills to deal with her life of pain and flares.  I especially admire her determination and insistence to fight against being controlled by pain.

Though I know she can’t pass the award on right now, Mindy of Reflections is very deserving of this award. Her blog is an encouragement, but also tells about life how it really is – the bare, naked truth.  She doesn’t sugar coat everything and this allows her to have incredible, encouraging insights thanks to her strong relationship with God.

Last (but certainly not least) I have to mention the blog that allows me to laugh at my own pain.  Every Sunday, RSDiary posts a humorous look at life with CRPS.  Between “imps of pain” and just plain silliness, her blog is always worth a laugh!

Thanks again to Chris Dean for the award!

Crazy Sock Day!

Maigee and some of my crazy socks

A year ago, a bunch of my friends who have CRPS/RSD had these pictures of wild socks on their Facebook pages.  While seeing funky socks on a friend or even two’s profiles might not be enough to make me think twice, the fact that nearly all of my CRPS friends had crazy socks and a bunch of CRPS’ers who I wasn’t friends with also had crazy socks on their profile.  My curiosity was piqued!

This was my introduction to an amazing girl named Melanie.  A girl who at age 10 got CRPS in her foot as a result of a stilt accident at a birthday party.  As I got to know her and her mother, Laurie, I was amazed at Melanie’s positive attitude and greatly inspired by her strength and courage with which she faced her battles with pain.

My socks for Crazy Sock Day!

On the anniversary of her original injury that caused CRPS, Melanie and her family started “Crazy Sock Day.”  As part of her physical therapy, Melanie was challenged to wear crazy socks for desensitization.  It became her unique “thing” and is the motivation for me to wear a crazy sock under my own AFO brace.  Annually, people all over the world wear crazy socks on January 24 in honor of Melanie’s own struggle and to raise awareness for CRPS.

Unfortunately Melanie’s introduction to pain didn’t end with her foot, her CRPS spread internally, causing something called Gastroparesis or paralyzed stomach.  Basically the stomach stops functioning and food may sit in it for hours or days.  This causes great pain, discomfort, nausea, and vomiting.  Think of having the perpetual flu!  While my own digestive issues make me more aware of what she is going through, I can still eat and enjoy the food I like.

Melanie had a NJ tube placed to help allow her to get nutrition by skipping the stomach entirely and feeding supplements directly into her duodenum (the first 10 inches of the small intestine).  Though this was incredibly beneficial, it was also challenging as she had a “strange” tube coming out of her nose.  At the age of 12 now, I can’t imagine how difficult this would be to face not only friends but also strangers who just don’t understand why such a “normal” looking kid would need a tube.

Today, on the 2nd Annual Crazy Sock Day, Melanie is undergoing surgery to have a gastric simulator placed into her stomach to help her digestive system to work a little more normally.  I pray the most success and decreases in pain with her new friend “Robie.”  Will you join me in prayers, well wishes, and wearing of crazy socks?

Another way you can support people all over the world with chronic pain and illness is to join in Melanie’s Crazy Sock Auction for Spirit Sparkplugs.  Spirit Sparkplugs was started by a friend, Kylee of New Zealand to send care packages, cards, and more to kids and adults with chronic illness all over the world.  They have been a huge blessing in my life.  All proceeds from the sock auction will go to Spirit Sparkplugs.  Just view the photo album, find socks you like, and make a bid by commenting on the picture.  Click here to see the album with all of the socks.  Be sure to check out the socks I donated – 4 brand new mixed up socks (none match the others since my socks never match).

For more information or to apply to help or recieve from Spirit Sparkplugs, be sure to check out their web site.

Be sure to check out Melanie’s amazing story (written a few weeks after initial diagnosis of CRPS) in her book.  Then once you’ve read that, check out her more current updates on her blog!

The New and the Old

This was posted a bit early so I could submit it to the Chronic Babe blog carnival, enjoy!

It is almost that time of year again; the time of year where people are looking forward to the new year and reflecting on the old one.  I have an even greater reason to do this.  December 31, 2008 was the day my surgery on my left arm that caused the start of my CRPS.  I was mostly drugged up and my arm was still numb from the regional anesthetic for that evening (I joke this is the only time I’ll ever be high on New Year’s), so I consider January 1, 2009 as my “CRPS anniversary.”

Three years.  Over the past years, I’ve survived ganglion blocks, epidurals, trigger point injections, medications, pain rehabilitation, hospitalizations, and countless doctors, nurses, x-ray techs, and other medical professionals.  Each procedure was an opportunity to learn new things.  I’ve learned so much through these experiences.

Looking back, I can’t believe I’ve come so far, and yet as I look ahead, I see so many more things that I have yet to face.  More appointments, diagnoses, developing symptoms all face me as I deal with my day to day life.  But I refuse to give in and let them take over my life.  I’m me first, being someone with chronic illness is just a small part of who I am, though I must admit, it has contributed to other areas more than I could have imagined.

So the blog has a new look, I’ve decided to change the title to Chronic Phoenix as my pain is not just limited to the CRPS anymore.  I’ll explain more of the problems I’m dealing with some other time, for now, just know that the title represents my desire to be positive and rise above the problems I face when the “fires” of chronic illness sweep through my life.

Today, I’m going to do what people all over are doing in celebration of the new year, make a resolution.  My resolution is to encourage others who struggle with pain and to maintain a positive attitude about the struggles I face.  For the next year, as I continue in my neuroscience program, I hope to continue my research about CRPS and to continue to provide information and support to others on my web site and my new Facebook page for people looking for a positive, encouraging look at life (click on the link to the right).  My final resolution is to get this blog back up and running and talk more about my day to day life with chronic illness in hopes to educate and encourage!

I’d love to hear if there are specific things you’d like to hear about, if you want to know something, please leave a comment!