Weekly Photo Challenge: Close Up

DSC_1239

For this weeks photo challenge, Close Up, I was torn between so many images. To be honest macro photography is just what I do. It is my one true love…if you catch me out in the field it is most likely because I am taking macro photos. I just can’t help myself. Over the years I have honed my macro photography taking abilities and in recent months have ended up with beautiful shots like the one above. As you all know I love lily pads and boy when they bloom I am on them like a hawk. This shot just got lucky enough to capture the bee buzzing around this beautiful open bloom. I hope you enjoy!

Advertisements

Because You Are a Liar and a Cheat.

He was gone. Out of the house, and with hope out of our lives. But my mother knew all too well that he would be back, and when he came back he wanted the house.

For a few weeks my step-dad was gone, completely out of contact with anyone. He had told my mother he was leaving, packed some things, and left. They had been together for 15 years and just like that he was gone.

I went on to graduate high school, on time might I add, which was a huge achievement. He had been with me throughout my journey whether he liked it or not, and when this beyond important date finally came he was not present. He had vanished just like that. One minute we were bonding over life and the next he had moved on. Deemed us no longer worthy to be in his life, just like that, with a snap of his fingers.

When he came back he forced my mother into a corner, either get out of the house or pay him what he owned. His name was on the title, making him the half owner of the house even though my mother first purchased the house and paid it on her own for 3 years. My mother, still going through cancer treatments, decided she would just pay him off. What choice did she have? She wasn’t going to let him take everything and get away with it.

He was stubborn. Not for a million years did he think she would settle, and he came at her with everything saying that he owned more than he did. He argued over the money for months. My mother had to take out a loan in order to pay him back, and days before the closing fee was due he backed out. He said he refused to pay his part, so to get rid of him my mother paid his fee. All of this just to stay in our house, the only house I have ever known. Why did he do this, oh for the money of course. Part of this property he owned, and with that came money, even if it was a trivial amount.

Later he came and took the rest of his things. His brother helped him move the stuff out, the brother that was closer to my mother than my step-dad. They took meaningless things, but it was still the act of coming into our house and removing items that I have grown up with. It was like I was reliving what I did years before with my father. I was losing memories, even if they were held in material items.

My mother stood stoic on the front lawn as they removed piece after piece. I followed them around the house to make sure they weren’t taking things they weren’t supposed to. After the truck was loaded up they were gone.

That was the last time I ever saw him or spoke to him.

So why did he do all of this? Why did he rip a family apart? His reasoning was because he was finding himself, that this journey he was going through did not include us. He was adopted as an infant and grew up with these feeling of abandonment, then he had two children it turns out he didn’t want and in turn practically abandoned. These feelings are what he blamed for leaving. He added that he couldn’t handle our medical problems, that it was just too hard for him. So he left.

My mother did more for that man than he ever deserved. He never opened up to her except in the end when he was looking for a scapegoat. My mother raised his children, fought battle after battle for him to have better custody, told him what to say to have a real bond with his children, paid for everything and anything all on her own even though she too was sick and struggling. She did all of that for him, so that he could have a good relationship with them. Well it turns out they were both mistakes that he never wanted.

My mother’s last name revolves around Valentine’s day and she was born only 3 days after the holiday, so pretty much Valentine’s day was her day. In all 15 years he never once took her out or bought her a present. He viewed it as meaningless which meant he could care less. He viewed every holiday as meaningless. For Christmas my mother would go out and buy his children gifts so that they had something to open from their father. My mother did everything for him. In his weakest moments she was there to pick up the pieces. Well it turns out it was all for nothing.When the pressure was on him he couldn’t handle being a real man. He was a coward all along.

He was cheating. All along it was another woman. All the lies that came out of his mouth were to cover his own ass to make him feel better. Apparently saying that you’re leaving because you need to find yourself makes the guilt less than saying what is really going on. Apparently that makes it all okay.

The moment we knew was when he accidentally sent a check (which was so small that it didn’t make sense, years later we figured out it might have been him sending money for the closing fee?) with his address on it. An address we looked up, which was owned by a woman, a woman who went to the same yoga studio as him, a woman he had wrote about in his yoga journal. She was younger than him, had her own house, and was on this spiritual journey. Just like he “was”. She was living the lifestyle he wanted, and unknown to us they ended up together.

Both my mother and I drive by the house often since it is on a main road going to the local hub of the area. His ancient car sits in the driveway. The man that refused to buy anything found a new host to mooch off of. His charm is never ending and clearly she was as easily fooled as my mother.

liar

What he does is mooch off of people. He has this innate desire to save, save, save. For what? We will never know. At this point he would have close or over a million dollars. Yet he has nothing to his name. He has a car that is falling apart, no property to call his own, no relationship with his only family, and no interest in marriage or anything.. He essentially has nothing. But yet he must think he has everything. He gets to live in another house, pay nothing, live the lifestyle he wants, and pretty much get away with murder.

He left us. He abandoned us. A ran running away from his own turmoil with abandonment went and left his closest family. And he didn’t even care. He had a family that loved him and was working with him. Sure it needed some serious help but when something is worth it you never give up. And you never leave when he did with my mother still battling cancer and me struggling to get out of bed every day.

The day he removed his things was the last time we heard from him. He has never contacted my mother. Contacting me would be a joke, I wasn’t even on his radar to begin with. That was 4 years ago and I have no doubt for the rest of our lives we will never hear from him again.

And at the exact same time I don’t care. To me he is nothing more than a liar and a cheat.

Connecting the Dots

It was 3 months of waiting around for the rheumatologist appointment. 3 months of realizing my entire life was practically a lie, a lie told and set in stone by someone you should trust and depend on.

I was walking around on a day to day basis telling myself I don’t have POTS. It was hard and honestly it was weird. Every pain I had, every inability to complete a task, I never went back and associated it with POTS. It was something else, something yet undiscovered.

The cardiologist left us with the lingering thought that I might have some terrible nerve damage or some other extremely rare and untreatable ailment. But through research my mother and I came to the conclusion before the appointment that more than likely I had fibromyalgia. It was shocking reading articles online about the condition and how just with a quick google search the top 10 symptoms of fibromyalgia I had. Before the POTS diagnosis one of the things my mother was thinking was fibro but no one ever told us to pursue it. Now here I was 6 years later about to find out the truth and have a definite answer.

Going into the rheumatology appointment I had made a list, just a general “all the things I can remember that are wrong with me” type list. This time no stone was being left unturned and everything was being ruled out. The list goes:

  • Head tingling
  • Neck pain with/without headaches
  • Difficulty focusing eyes
  • Brain fog (memory & concentration; slurred/stuttered speech)
  • Face rash with chills
  • Elephant on chest
  • Rapid heartrate (heart feels “weird”)
  • Chest pain (worse when active)
  • Acid reflux and gastroparesis
  • Arm/hand rash (little clear bubbles & at random times)
  • Bathroom habits (half constipated or not normal)
  • Can’t feel feet/legs (sitting or at random times)
  • Cold hands and feet
  • Muscle spasms in leg, feet, back, arms
  • Chronic fatigue
  • Constant aches
  • Severe insomnia
  • Random pain like electric shocks in various locations
  • Chills and sweats
  • Dizzy spells

And that was just what I could think of off the top of my head that I have experienced in the last month on going. As I wrote it I felt this wave come over me like, oh my gosh am I messed up. I could think of no area where I was so and so “right”. But at the same time I felt like I was regaining some power in my life. I was about to go to a doctor that hopefully could help me and really look at this list with a brand new set of eyes.

Can I just say he is the nicest man. He comes into the appointment with his aged face and wrinkled hands and cracks a joke. He goes on to crack wife jokes about how he is a “bad husband” but all in good fun. But then he got down to business. I gave him the list after telling him my story and his first response was.

“Some people might look at this list and think these are all random, unrelated things, but I am looking at this list seeing a connection between each and every piece.”

I almost cried. I was so happy inside. For once it was recognition that I wasn’t making this up, it wasn’t all random, and best of all IT WASN”T ALL UNRELATED. The pieces of the puzzle were finally coming together.

The referring cardiologist suggested somethings for him to rule out and it was all done with simple blood tests. He was a little suspicious that I might have celiac but the results came back negative. In fact the results came back negative in everything. The only area was my thyroid which had me going to a different doctor to rule that out. After that was ruled normal, and just a skewed blood test result, it was time to give a final diagnosis. It was after all fibromyalgia. All the symptoms fit together, everything made sense, and it was time to discuss treatment.

For some people fibro seems like a grim diagnosis, and to my surprise it is so far from it. Like so so far from it. The first medication we tried was Gabapentin, which I could not handle on a higher dose so we switched to this magic medication called Savella. We have been figuring out the dosage and at this moment in time I am on a very low dose. I was having to severe side effects to continue upping the dose so for now it is on the lower end.

The first few weeks of taking it was a miracle. Literally a miracle. I woke up feeling WELL RESTED. I woke up PAIN FREE. I woke up feeling human. I spent my days like someone without all these things would do. I was normal. For the first time since early childhood I felt right. It didn’t exactly last long, but I can say for 3 whole weeks I felt alive again.

We started playing with the dose after 3 weeks and I crashed. The headaches were insane and I couldn’t really eat since the side effect of this medication was extreme nausea. So where I’m at now is getting my sleep issues resolved. My rheumatologist believes after I can have normal sleeping habits again we can play with the dose and prescribe maybe a counter for the side effects.

The hope is seriously there. Every day I wake up and believe that this year might be the year I finally get a handle on my medical issues. And with each appointment that passes my hope grows stronger and stronger.

hope

Seeing is Believing

For something to truly work you have to believe in it first.

When the treatment for my POTS was failing miserably with just medication it was time to look at a more nontraditional treatment. My cardiologist recommended I go to a cranial osteopath to see if he could find anything wrong that could be causing my symptoms. When I say cranial osteopath you probably have no idea what I’m talking about, but a cranial osteopath studies the anatomy and physiology of the cranium and its inter-relationship with the body as a whole. In layman’s terms it is a certified OD who moves your skull around and changes the pressure going to and from your head. The complexity is truly amazing and when people are at an advantage to benefit the outcomes can be spectacular.

The first trip I was skeptical. The office music was much like a spa, relaxing yet strange when listening closely enough. For treatment I would go back and lay down on the table and close my eyes, knees bent to align my spine. The doctor would just slightly touch my head and move his hands around applying the lightest pressure possible. I couldn’t even call it a head massage since the pressure is sometimes hard to even feel. Here I was a teenager with a doctor seemingly doing nothing, and to my astonishment I could immediately feel a difference. The treatment sessions lasted anywhere from 15 minutes to a whole hour, depending on what he found. It was odd after the first few trips, my brain felt like the blood was actually moving and I had just drank 6 cups of coffee, but the next 24 to 48 hours I could feel pretty messed up. It was a sign my body was responding to treatment.

Cranial osteopathy is something truly unique that I sincerely doubt most people have even heard of, but the benefits can be life changing. But like anything else if you don’t believe in it most likely it isn’t going to have such an impact right away. I was hopeless and willing to try anything, this allowed my mind to be free and ignore how strange this treatment was. On the website for cranial osteopathy it lists who might benefit from treatment, and it ranges from migraines to Downs syndrome to Autism and more. Within 5 months of treatment going every week to every 2 weeks I wasn’t bedridden anymore. Even though I was far from cured I was able to get up and actually walk downstairs unaided. It was a spectacular feeling having my independence return.

Sadly though there is always a catch. The doctor is one of a kind on the east coast, and is about an hour away. The real kicker, he doesn’t accept insurance. In my personal belief this is unethical, but in the medical world pretty much anything goes. He costs a pretty penny and luckily my mother was able to afford his rates, after all he was the only thing helping my POTS at the time. For years I went to him, in fact I am still going today, and after a time it was found that my skull was pushed inward causing a majority of my symptoms. The treatment showed that my body was compensating for the massive hit I suffered to the front part of my skull. Still to this day it is unknown how that happened, but in my personal opinion it was from the forceps birth. On visits where he “popped” my skull back into place I did have violent reactions, typically the next day I would be throwing up uncontrollably. Now when I say popped I don’t literally mean popped. The skull stayed in place but the joints in-between each part was shifted. There is no pain involved, just usually a strange sensation felt afterwards.

Throughout my ordeal with POTS I have always told people of this doctor, and time after time people give me this strange crazy look like I was being ripped off. The fact of the matter is nontraditional methods are still frowned upon in the medical world and most non-medical people view it as a scam. Sure, scams out there do exist but he is a trained licensed professional doing his jbelievingob, which also so happens to be a little out there. My advice for people seeking any type of treatment that is not the norm is always do your research. In my case it was in the medical field, just not very recognized amongst other doctors, but in other cases it is supplements or herbal remedies. Just always do your research and if anything is seeming uncomfortable or not right then trust your gut. I looked at this situation with open eyes and the outcome made my quality of life go from nothing to something.

After years of treatment and ongoing medical care from my cardiologist I had plateaued and my symptoms seemed to stay at a manageable level. I finished my high school career at home and was able to graduate on time and with my peers. I never saw myself graduating on time since I had been in bed for half of my high school career, yet there I was walking down the aisle holding my diploma. The next step was going to college, it wasn’t a choice in my mind. I had applied and accepted to a local university within driving distance. I felt accomplished and I felt ready to conquer the world. I could leave high school behind and start my new life as a college freshman. With my symptoms finally under control I was able to get back as a player in my own life.