Quality Of Life

What defines quality of life?

Society would tell us

It’s a combination of good health, secure economic and housing status, family and friends and recreational activities

Reading over the aforementioned characteristics

It doesn’t seem like achieving a decent quality of life would be difficult

But all of that changes when you have a chronic illness

Especially one like MS

It doesn’t usually happen over night or in the blink of an eye

But over time

An MSer’s quality of life deteriorates or at the very least changes dramatically

Comparing myself to those qualities of a good

I can’t help but think I’m a little doomed

I don’t have good health

My economic security is interconnected to my chronic illness and changed greatly in the last few years

I’m lucky that I’m secure in my housing

My recreational activities have become limited

Friends and family especially during these trying times

Are not very accessible

And in the spirit of

transparency

I was never a very dependable friend

So these days

I can’t say I expect much from people

Anyway both family and friends come with their own sets of challenges

I recently had to take Gabapentin for a sensory pain I was having

The pain reduced probably by more than half

But my quality of life suffered

I felt lethargic and down

I didn’t complete any art for several days

I was pretty much restricted to my couch

So I was faced with the dilemma in making a choice between quality of life and pain management

I kept thinking

What’s the point of living if it consists of being like a zombie?

Granted I’d be a zombie in less pain

But a zombie nonetheless

I guess

In the end

I’d rather experience pain

And live

And doesn’t that just perfectly sum up my life?

Some days are just like that…

I guess this has become like a journal for me

I write here and I don’t care who reads it

Or who doesn’t

It’s cathartic

In ways that I can’t even express

So Dear Diary,

I had a bad day

Maybe a bad few days

After increasing my dose with the gabapentin

It had a really sedating effect on me

I take a lot of other meds so it seems with the increase

I was just being knocked out

So I’m back on the one pill

Still in pain

So I’m not sure where that leaves me

I called the clinic to inquire about a lesser dose

So we’ll see

I also had my monthly labwork

It’s for both Lemtrada

And for my low platelets

The nurse came to the condo again

It didn’t go well

A vein blew

If you have a blown vein, it means that the vein has ruptured and is leaking blood. It happens when a nurse or other healthcare professional attempts to insert a needle into a vein, and things don’t go quite right.

Healthline.com

I’m in a lot of pain

My left hand

My right arm

Today life is hard

Tonight I just want to close my eyes

And hope that when I dream

There is no pain

No fear

No regret

‘Let’s go to Never Land and never come back till forever ends.’

Yesterday I dreamed I was free

I could move freely

I could fly anywhere

My mind was a safe place

It was like a children’s playground

That I was free to explore

I could stand in the middle of the universe

With my arms outstretched

My head lifted to see the sky above

My eyes wide and bright

The world I saw was clearly defined but with no sharp edges

I could see kindness pouring out of strangers faces

I felt warmth

All around me

It was like having some soup on the coldest day of the year

And in that moment every thing is just right

Even if it’s only soup

And it’s only a dream

But morning comes too fast

And the sun is too bright and it hurts my eyes

And it’s too hot and my arm throbs

And nothing feels as soothing as that soup did

I woke up

And all I see are sharp edges and corners that lead to scary places

People aren’t so kind

And I’m warned not to go outside

And the only place I can stretch out and look above me

Is on my bed

And so all I can do is

Hope that when sleep takes me

My dreams are about playgrounds and hot soup on a cold day and kindness all around me

But maybe if I close my eyes really right

I can stay in that dreamland just a little while longer

Pity party of one

I’m sick of my body being so broken

The nurse just left

I’m laying down with an ice pack on my hand

She got the vein in my hand but push inreally deep

The veins were rolling

The blood was oozing out so slowly

I could feel myself becoming nauseous

I felt weaker as she took an extra vial bc she wasn’t sure there had been enough blood before

I don’t get it

It’s not a lot blood

But I feel drained

Completely

I’ve been doing this for so long

I hate how it’s not easier

My hand hurts

No

The inside of my hand hurts

The vein

That I shouldn’t be able to feel

I hate how wrong that feels

I hate that I felt the need to apologize to her because of my shitty veins

I hate that it feels so unfair

I hate how things seemed to have piled up after the MS diagnosis

I hate that I still have to this for at least another 3 years

I hate that I did the Lemtrada treatment

I hate that I got ITP as a result

Most of all

I hate that I’m crying about it now

‘I used to be somebody’- NIN

I’ve been off of work for two years

On long term disability

Every day the probability of returning to my old job felt further away

Yesterday I received an email from my employer

Officially terminating my employment

It hit me hard

You might think it’s no big deal since I’ve been off work for so long

You’d be wrong

I felt like I couldn’t breathe

I reread the email so many times

The words blended together

Floating on the screen

They didn’t make sense anymore

I worked there for 6 years

I’ve been working in this field for over 12 years

Now it’s over

Officially I guess

I’m no longer a youth worker

I don’t know what I am

My name is Angela and I used to be a youth worker

The world, tomorrow

Its not the same world that I wake up to everyday

Some days

I wake up

And the world is a cold scary place

People use you and forget you

Even the ones that are supposed to love you

Sometimes I wake up

And it’s a stressful world

Filled with risks

And people I don’t trust

Sometimes I wake up

And it’s a lonely world

With no one around

There is one world I like waking up to most of all

On those days

I wake up

And it’s a beautiful world

Filled with kind people

And compassion

The colours around me are more vivid

The music I hear is perfect

The art I create comes easily

So I go to sleep

Every night

Not knowing which world I’ll find when I awake

It’s this big gamble

On the good days

I don’t want to close my eyes

In hopes that this world can last forever

On the dark days

I can’t wait to fall asleep

And

Hope hope hope

That tomorrow the world is beautiful again

That is what a life with mental illness is like

A hope

A gamble

A fear

A despair

And then doing it all over again

Me, the virus and a whole lot of free time…

It’s been awhile since I last wrote

There’s been a lot to process and adjust to

I was advised pretty early on to stay home

Which I’ve done

I’ve been home for 43 days

Every day I’ve struggled with anxiety and/or depression

It’s been one thing or another

As someone with mild agoraphobia I find it pretty ironic that being cooped up has me feeling anxious

Now all I want to do is go out and see people

I’ve had a few meltdowns

I feel afraid that if I do catch this virus, I’ll be one of the people that doesn’t make it through

I’m afraid that if it comes down to it

And we’ve run out of ventilators

I’ll be cast aside for a healthy persons survival

I’ve often thought and regretted having done my Lemtrada treatment

Which has made me extra vulnerable at this time

I keep thinking that if I hadn’t done it

Then maybe I wouldn’t have to be so cautious

I wouldn’t have the added worry of the blood disorder that I got as a side effect

There’s a whole lot of what ifs and coulda beens

It’s the lack of control that is particularly anxiety provoking

Which I’m sure is the case for many people

Who are not anxiety sufferers

I’ve been thinking a lot about the kids and youth who aren’t in school

I feel sorry that they’re stuck at home and I worry about the impact this will have on their mental health even when this is over

I keep thinking that the repercussions of this will be felt for many years to come

Economically, socially, emotionally…

And well

We’ve been pretty lucky thus far

We’ve been spoiled

Living in a society and part of the world where we don’t have to worry as much as others

So I’m not really sure I have a handle on how to adapt to this weird new ‘normal’

I’m not sure anyone does

I know that I can only take it day by day

Minute by minute

I can only focus on the right now

I can’t worry about tomorrow because it’s not here yet

I am grateful for being able to make art

I am grateful to have my partner being my contact with the outside world (for groceries and meds and etc)

I am happy that my family is still healthy and safe

And more than anything

I am so fucking grateful that Covid-19 didn’t happen last year amidst losing my mind and all that 😬

Stay safe everyone

‘The woods are lovely, dark and deep…’

I don’t know if humans are really equipped to face their own mortality

It’s just such a foreign concept

It’s the opposite of what we know

We breathe without thinking

It’s automatic

To think of our own deaths

Seems just wrong

With MS I don’t really have to think about it

It’s a lot of things

But it’s not fatal

When I was diagnosed with ITP (rare blood disorder) this past summer

It seemed surreal

I could die if I got cut

If I fell

The slightest thing would mean I could bleed to death

I remember when I was still unsure what was going on

Feeling certain that I was gonna die

It was scary and unknown

Clearly

I survived

But every time I find a bruise…

Every time I get my bloodwork done

I’m faced with that same thought

Have my platelets have dropped dangerously low?

It’s sort of become a scary new reality

And not entirely unknown

However this whole COVID-19 is different

I knew I was at a heightened risk

I’m immuno compromised

I have two autoimmune diseases and a rare blood disorder

Plus the treatment I underwent for my MS weakened my immune system

Seems like the odds are stacked against me

So I’ve been practicing self isolation since March 15

I won’t lie

I’ve been scared

I keep hearing about the people dying have preexisting heath conditions

As if that makes it more palatable

Like it makes it ok

I got an email from my super amazing hematologist

She reaffirmed what I already sorta knew

I’m at an increased risk for infection

Because of the MS related treatment and ITP

Now I’m scared all over again

I’m doing the best I can

Not leaving home

Taking care of myself and my sanity

But I can’t help but feel afraid

What if this time I don’t escape death?

What if this time it catches up to me?

What if

What if

What if

I know I can’t live my life based on what ifs

But I can’t pretend they don’t exist either

So I’m caught in this weird limbo

Between focusing on what’s happening right now

This tv show

This art piece

This blog

And

The world of what ifs

What if I catch this virus?

What if death catches me?

I’m not ready to face death

I’m not ready to face the mere thought of death

‘I have promises to keep,

And miles to go before I sleep,

And miles to go before I sleep.’

For now…

I participated in my first art show

How wild is that?

Two years ago, I would never have thought this would have been in my future

Leaving my job was probably the hardest thing I’ve ever done

There will always be an empty part of my heart because of that

The loss of it felt so strong

No one prepares you for the grief that comes with that

And as hard as that was

I was lucky to have found something that gives me peace

Back to the art show

I was so anxious in the days leading up to it

The day of was a nightmare

I felt physically sick

I told Joey I couldn’t do it

That I wouldn’t go

I felt like a fraud

Everyone would know that I’m not an artist

I’m not ‘one of them’

Somehow I made it there

We set up

My hands were like ice

My skin felt like it didn’t fit right

I looked around

In awe of the sheer talent of the artists around me

Real artists

What am I doing here?

This is going to be horrid

And then somehow

It wasn’t…

People perused the artwork I’d made

The artwork that has saved my life

The first few customers

Terrified me

I was so nervous I even made something up when someone asked about my process

How embarrassing

More people came

They bought stuff

They gushed over the artwork

My artwork

My face grew hot

I said thank you

But I wanted to say I’m not a real artist!

More people came by

More people bought stuff

The compliments I received were mind blowing

Some of the vendors bought MY artwork

Loved MY artwork

🤯

Mind blown

I sold over 25 pieces of art that day

I left there with a goofy grin on my face

I was exhausted

And so amazed

Things like this don’t happen to ME

I’m the one who gets MS

Who gets a rare blood disorder because of a treatment I had to undergo for MS

I don’t get the happy endings

Maybe the art show was a one off

Maybe I won’t sell anymore

Maybe it was all a fluke

Those are still the thoughts on a loop in my mind

And in spite of that

I still paint

I still decoupage

I find poems that resonate with me

I create art

And I’m kind of an artist now

Maybe one day I’ll say that without madly blushing

For now

I’ll just use the heated cheeks as a reminder of how far I’ve come

And that’s good enough

For now…

‘The Happiest Place On Earth.’

Today is Joey’s birthday

Last year at this time

I was living with my parents

My mental state was super fragile

We had cake for his birthday at my parents house

I remember trying hard that day

To put a smile on my face

To be brave

To not be selfish

For Joey

Because he deserved so much more than what he got

Because I always felt like we could have been so great

If not for all the obstacles

My challenges that have disrupted our life together

But today

One year later

We are celebrating his birthday at Disney in Florida

Joey gets to be happy

I feel good

Maybe sometimes magic happens

Maybe the universe and planets align

Maybe I worked my ass off to get to this point

Whatever

It doesn’t even matter

Bukowski wrote: ‘What matters most is how well you walk through the fire’

And I did

I walked through the fire

And survived

Sure I have the scars to prove it

But who doesn’t?

I’ll be in Disney this afternoon

Indulging my inner kid

She deserves to have some fun

Even if it’s a moment

I’m going to close my eyes really tight and try my best to savour the moments

I deserve it

So does Joey

PS. Happy birthday Joey 🖤