JoJoisms

Hello. My name is Surah Channa.

Written By: JoJoisms - Apr• 11•17

I’ve always been a bit complicated and more than a tad weird, but I always thought I knew who I was…until I had another of my precious conversations with my mom recently.  Then I realized that I’m what you might call: Religiously Confused.  ROFL

I’m of Jewish heritage, was raised by Atheists parents, married a non-practicing Catholic, and became a non-denominational Christian due, in part, to some Amway meetings and a Jehovah’s Witness who came to my door.  If you’re confused now, keep reading!

I was born without a middle name. (Shock/Horror!)  My parents didn’t give me one. I’m middle name-less.  I’m deprived.  At 54 years of age, I’ve come to accept that and embrace the nickname (JoJo) given me by my parents to fill the void. (Insert tragic music here.)   

I’ve said it many times, I’m not your average Jo…Jo.  I’m an odd duck.  So after 54 yrs, I’m just now finding out who I am! LOL  Here’s how it went down:

I talk to my mom nearly every day since my surgeries.  We live too far to actually see each other.  She’s on the west coast and I’m here in Indiana. We talk about lots of interesting stuff.  We could chat all day long.  She’s an interesting woman who has a love of people and their stories so it’s always fun to catch up, reminisce about old times, and learn about all the interesting people she meets at even mundane places like the doctor’s office waiting room and the airport.

So we were chatting one day about middle names.  I’ve always felt a bit weird because almost everyone I know has one, or two, or three!  As a child, classmates would tease me that my middle name must be horrible since I wouldn’t even admit I had one!  So as we were talking, I learned more about why my sister and I didn’t have middle names.

My maternal grandmother didn’t like her middle name and never gave any of her four kids a middle name. My sister and I followed in that tradition and so we don’t either.  We talked about how my grandmother’s real name wasn’t the one she actually used.  This is pretty common in my family.  I learned that the Jews name people after the dead to honor them, but my brother was named after my father’s father. They asked him if that would be okay and he said yes.  That lead to a discovery that rocked my middle nameless world.

Mom had found a certificate among the papers and related to me that her parents, my grandparents, had a naming ceremony for me at their Temple and gave me a Hebrew name. So I may not have a middle name, but I do have a precious Hebrew name given me by my maternal grandparents in honor of my grandfather’s mother, Sarah Hanna.  She sent me a picture of my baby book in which the details of the naming ceremony were written.  Next to those details was something else I didn’t expect.  I have God Parents! Turns out my parents’ dearest friends at the time were Catholic, though I don’t think they were particularly religious, but to honor them, they were named my God Parents.

So to recap: I’m of Jewish Heritage, raised by Atheist parents, given a Hebrew name and Catholic God Parents, who married a non-practicing Catholic and became a non-denominational Christian due, in part, to some Amway meetings and a Jehovah’s Witness who came to my door.  You might want to read that again.  I’ll wait…

But isn’t that sweet?  As a Christian, I’m so excited to feel more connected to my Jewish roots.  What an honor that my grandparents took the time to do this for me!  So I say again, I may not have a middle name, but I do have a Hebrew name…a gift given to me by my grandparents: Harry and Florence.

I guess you can learn something new about yourself every day! ROFL

And…My Meno Weight Loss Journey Begins

Written By: JoJoisms - Apr• 04•17

So back in October of 2016, I had my total hysterectomy and shortly thereafter I began putting on weight. More importantly, I began exercising, working out, dieting, watching my weight…whatever you want to call it. And so my Meno Weight Loss Journey began.

So I’m about thirty pounds overweight at this point, which on a small framed 5′ nuthin’ woman with a toddler sized head and children’s sized hands and feet is a LOT!  Several years ago, I stopped eating carbs and found that within a few weeks, I was losing waaaaay too much weight and had to slow that puppy down!  Post Meno, I’ve cut down on carbs/sugar AND started exercising and noticed that within two weeks, I had pulled two muscles and GAINED a pound or two!

We decided to buy a used treadmill from a cute little lady across town who apparently only used it on Sundays before church.  She bought it used from someone else on Craig’s List a year prior and it was now several years old.  About a week after we brought it into the house, it quit, but I’m still 30lbs overweight so I can’t!  Now we own a 900 lb paper weight!

Here in Indiana, it’s either too cold, too humid, snowing, raining, or Tornado Season which makes it difficult to get out and walk around the neighborhood even two days in a row.  Necessity is the mother of invention and creativity is its cousin. So I invent the JoJo Walk Around House Exercise Program.  It consists of ten laps around the inside of the house. It starts off by the stairs through the perimeter of the office, around the dining room table, down the hall through my bedroom door, to the master bath, walk in closet, around the master bedroom, through the kitchen, around the kitchen table, around the coffee table in the family room and up and down the stairs.

I walk quickly to get my heart rate up and to avoid lifting weights which, apparently somehow without my noticing at the time, caused the muscle pulls and body aches.  If anyone peers in through my perimeter windows they would probably question my sanity.  I, too, am beginning to question my sanity because I’M STILL GAINING!

People from my planet apparently don’t lose weight this way.  I’ll have to phone home and ask ET what to do next.  Film at 11!

So how’s by you?  What exercise program have you found works for YOU? Please share. I’m sure I’m not the only one from Planet Meno.  We could all use a good idea.

Don’t Judge Me by YOUR Yardstick!

Written By: JoJoisms - Mar• 28•17

I’m not “arguing for my limitations” or determined to “remain in” my chronic illness. I’m trying to explain to you why your Amazing Cure All didn’t work for me!  I understand it worked for you. I don’t know if you’ve noticed, but I’m not you.

Do you have my chronic illness or something else? Do you also have several OTHER conditions or just that one symptom? Are you 54 years old are are you 30? Are you also in menopause?  Have you lived with my issue for a year?  Six?  THIRTY FIVE?!  Have you just had three surgeries in the span of six months?

Did you notice I had cancer and can’t take hormones?  Are you aware that I just said I ALREADY TRIED THAT?! …and it DIDN’T WORK!  I’m sure I mentioned that…

If you’ve never lived my life, please stop trying to tell me how I’m doing it wrong!  If you’ve never walked a mile in my shoes, try not to step on them as you walk by.  If you’ve never had to deal with a chronic condition for YEARS and YEARS and YEARS, please don’t try to tell me, “all I need to do is…”

Why is it so hard for some to put aside their Positive Attitude Playbook and actually LISTEN to what I am saying.  I didn’t say I’m a negative person.  I don’t go around Woe is Me-ing all over the place. I’m not even saying that what they advocate is wrong.  I’m saying I tried it and it didn’t work FOR ME!

Are you aware that everyone is difFerEnt?  Notice how my hair is curly?  Yours might be straight.  Do you understand that what you use on your hair might not work for mine?  You may be able to step out of the shower and let your hair dry and not have it look like someone stuck your finger in a light socket, but I can’t.  To get my hair straight, I need to blow it dry for an hour section by section whilst putting each part in a big curler to keep it from curling up while the moist air of the bathroom works against me.

Know why there are so many different weight loss programs out there? I’ll bet you dollars to donuts I can find people who have lost weight on EVERY one of them.  Certain things work for some people and don’t work for others.  Everyone’s body is different.  If you don’t think so, think about DNA.  Even twins are not exactly alike in everything.

Do you know that many diseases and illnesses all have the very same symptoms?  The VERY SAME SYMPTOMS!  Think about what that means for a just a minute. If you are thirsty, you drink, right? I was watching an episode of M.A.S.H. once where they couldn’t give thirsty people any water or their kidneys would shut down because the underlying issue wasn’t just thirst.  Get it now?

You are not me and I am not you.  My issues may be similar to yours, but they’re mine.  I may even have the same illness as you, but mine is different because it is inside of my body.

Since I was talking about it before, let’s just think about something as common as hair.  MANY people have brown hair.  What color do you think of when you hear brown hair?  My husband has such dark brown hair it’s almost black.  My sister used to have such light brown hair it was practically blonde.  Didja know that, when I was a kid, my hair was brown with red streaks?  And the red streaks were HORIZONTAL?  I’ll bet you didn’t think of that when you thought of brown hair, did you?  My hair was so weird that a woman I had never met tapped me on the shoulder when I was a teen at the mall and said, “If you dyed your hair, you did it wrong!” My brown hair is probably nothing like your brown hair, but on my driver’s license it says: “Hair: Brown” just like every other brown haired person in the nation.

So just because someone doesn’t cotton to your idea of the perfect cure, it doesn’t mean they are “determined to stay in their illness”, are “arguing for their limitations” or are “being negative.”  Don’t assume you know and don’t judge until you’ve walked a mile in their shoes.  THEIR shoes, not what you think their shoes look like from where you stand.

 

Finding the Humor

Written By: JoJoisms - Mar• 21•17

After my last surgery, my brain came home to roost.  I’m able to do things now like remember my last name and why I walked into a room…more than I used to.  It’s also afforded me the opportunity to write some new JoJoisms.  Here’s one.  

Since so many of my readers are in the same boat as I am, I thought I’d talk about how we can all find the humor in whatever situation we find ourselves.  It’s not a long post this week, but it is a significant one.  This is how I do it. Maybe it’ll help you too.

No matter what comes up to hit me in the face or pokes me from behind, my first thought is: “I don’t know how that happened or why, but there’s got to be a joke in there somewhere!”  If you can’t beat ’em, join ’em!  It’s that kind of thing.  So I live believing that all the bad stuff that happens is just fodder for my comedy that I share on my blog and other social media.

An idea hit me just before I wrote the above JoJoism (which brain fog prevented me from numbering).  Someone asked me what the story of my life would be called and my brain went there.  It’s how I keep from losing my mind when everything around me brings me knee deep in pain, fatigue, and/or financial stress.

I leave you with this thought.  If I can do it, you can too.  So I challenge you to turn something hard you are going through around.  See the funny, sunny side.  “A merry heart doeth good like a medicine: but a broken spirit drieth the bones.” Proverbs 17:22

What does that look like for you?

Why You Should Tell Your Story Before It’s Over

Written By: JoJoisms - Mar• 14•17

I wrote this article some time ago after reading a meme on Facebook.  It struck me so important to share how strongly I believe this saying is a detriment to inspiring others with our story already in progress that I spoke out about it.  That, in turn, inspired others to believe that they might have more of a purpose on this earth than to be tired and in pain.  Your story can inspire others and so you should tell it, even if it’s not over…especially if it’s not over. And here’s why…

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For this thing I besought the Lord thrice, that it might depart from me.  And he said unto me, My grace is sufficient for thee: for my strength is made perfect in weakness. Most gladly therefore will I rather glory in my infirmities, that the power of Christ may rest upon me. Therefore I take pleasure in infirmities, in reproaches, in necessities, in persecutions, in distresses for Christ’s sake: for when I am weak, then am I strong.”2 Corinthians 12:8-10

 

blind mouseLast week while on Facebook, I came across a meme that said:

“I can’t wait til my storms are over so I can tell people how God challenged me, how I made it through, and how I’m a better person because of it.” 

I used to think like this. I remember praying God would cure me so I could have a wonderful testimony to share with others.  But after 35 years, God didn’t heal me and I believe the above statement is dangerous thinking.

For so many years I never even mentioned my health issues to anyone. It was embarrassing.  No doctors believed me and all the test results said I was normal so how could I complain? I was young, how embarrassing to tell people I didn’t have the energy to go out with my friends or to admit I went home and slept in the sun after I got home from school every day.  Later on it just seemed silly to share my story because I believed I was the only one living it.  I didn’t realize that thousands of people struggled the same way I did and, like them, I needed some support, but I didn’t find it because too many others were unwilling to share their struggles for the very same reasons.

But what if we didn’t wait for our story to end before we tell it?  What if we shared it in real time and in all candor?  We could lift up so many others who suffer with chronic illness and need to know someone understands, someone cares, and they are not alone.  There are many reasons why you shouldn’t wait til your story ends before you tell it:

1. What if, like Paul, God doesn’t heal you this side of heaven?  Then what?  Then where will you be?  Then where is your testimony?  Then how can you help others?  Why wait?  Why not share your struggles, your triumphs, your blessings NOW?  Contrary to popular cultural belief, not everyone who prays is healed.   “And He said to me, ‘My grace is sufficient for you, for My strength is made perfect in weakness.’ Therefore most gladly I will rather boast in my infirmities, that the power of Christ may rest upon me.” -2 Corinthians 12:9 NKJV

2. It keeps you waiting for your joy and doesn’t allow you to see God’s hand in what you’re going through.  If you are always looking for the silver lining you miss the blessings in the clouds.  You miss the blessings inside the struggles. There are some, I promise.  More on that topic next week.

3. It keeps you from seeing the blessings that come from helping others.  I can’t tell you how blessed I feel each time I receive a comment saying that a reader was inspired to take charge of her daughter’s treatment or how someone no longer felt alone after reading on of my posts.  I think I cry each and every time, but they are tears that come from knowing that place of deep hurt that can only be understood by another in my same situation.

4. When your struggle is over, you may not remember some of the details that can hold blessings for others struggling as you did.  You may be tempted to put on your rose colored glasses and not share the times when you weren’t positive, when you were angry or did something you aren’t proud of.  You may not want others to see your flaws, but trust me in this…they need to see them.

5. It takes much more courage, sometimes much more than you think you have, to share your story in real time not knowing if others will judge you, condemn you or chastise you. I wish I could say they don’t, but they do.  They will.  Reaching out to help others has never been easy; it’s just always worth it.

6. Sharing now, in the midst of your struggle, pain and flaws is much more of a blessing to those who can relate to how you feel right now. Not when it’s all over, but right now.  Your honesty and candor will draw them in and lift them up.  If they know your story has a happy ending, they may not be able to relate to what you have to say because they see it colored in the peace of a life without that struggle.  Right now, as I struggle with health issues and several other things 2014 has brought for our family to deal with, I am sharing how God hand is in our lives.  I’m sharing how He sustains me-even after I get angry, falter or cry out in frustration.  If I can do that, you know that you can too with His help.

7. Sharing now keeps you honest.  It’s difficult to write how well you handled each and every set back with grace when you just had a meltdown.  It’s tempting, but it’s convicting. I always think long and hard before I disclose anything personal or unattractive about myself, but I feel an overwhelming need to share truth and honesty with my readers-otherwise what’s this blog for?

As I was finishing this blog post, I heard a song playing in the background. It’s Write Your Story, by Francesca Battistelli.  I have embedded the YouTube video for you here. Pay close attention to the words and then read my final comments and challenge to you.

God is writing our story on our hearts right now.  Unfortunately, our story is not always the story we envision or would choose. The hope He gives us isn’t usually for a pain free life, whether that pain is physical or emotional. His plan isn’t always that we live an illness free life and I’ve never heard of  a life that was devoid of all struggle.  In fact, most of the Bible stories of great men and women shows that their lives were filled to capacity with struggle, illness or pain.  Just look at Paul’s life.  Life with struggle isn’t all fun, I’ll admit, but it doesn’t have to be without purpose or joy if we let God write His story on our heart and we share that story, yet in progress, with others so that God may do the same for them.

I’m not waiting til my storms are over. I’m writing about how God is getting me through right now.  What about you?  If you feel a calling to share your story…Why wait til later?  You can write your story on the hearts of others who need to feel like someone understands right NOW.  Don’t wait until (or IF) God heals you to begin to share your story.  Do it now. So I ask, do you have the courage to write your story before it ends?

Share some of your story with me and my readers right now by leaving a comment on this post.

Invisible Illness Scars

Written By: JoJoisms - Mar• 07•17

One of the biggest complaints I hear from those with chronic illness is that it is an Invisible Disease.  Whatever it is for you: Lupus, thyroid disease, chronic pain, migraines, or peri menopause, the fact that people are only concerned with what they see can leave us with the feeling that others either don’t believe us or think we are making mountains out of molehills.

Some of the things we hear are:

“You don’t look sick!”
“So glad you are recovered.”
“I’m tired too; everybody is tired. Don’t make a big thing out of it.”
“You look fine to me!  Why can’t you just…” 

Just because you can’t see our pain or fatigue or brain fog or <insert invisible issue here>, doesn’t mean it isn’t there.  Chronic pain doesn’t cause bruises.  Depression doesn’t show on the outside.  Migraines don’t leave scars.  Chronic fatigue doesn’t come with circles under our eyes…well, maybe sometimes, but there’s this incredible invention called MAKE UP!

Silent Pain is a poem I wrote that explains a bit about how we feel about the pain part of it, but I had an interesting experience the last six months that I’d like to share because, while I had no idea it would relate to this issue, I found it perfectly described the invisible part of chronic illness.

As I told you in previous posts, I have had three surgeries in the last six months.  The first was to remove my left ovary and tube. The second was to remove all the rest of my lady parts as they might have also contained cancer cells and the only way to know for sure you don’t have any more of this type of aggressive cancer is to look at everything under a microscope.  Although I’m only 5′ tall, I’m not small enough to fit under a microscope so they took it all out.  Good call, Doc!

Those scars are all on my stomach.  I have four small incisions/puncture marks and one very long smiley face well below my belly button.  Since I will never again in life wear a bikini or midriff top, nobody but my dh and myself will ever see those war wounds.  However, when I returned to church and met with friends and went out about my business, I ran into people who really didn’t ask how I was doing or thought that because I looked ok, that I was feeling fine.  Well, a radical hysterectomy takes six to twelve months to completely recover and I am only four months as of this writing.  I still have numbness on my stomach, the fatigue is something that is said to last a while, and the hot flashes and other meno symptoms are the stuff of legend.  But every time I was asked how I was and I tried to tell them that I was still tired or having issues, they dismissed them sounding as if I were making it up or milking it for all it was worth.  Well, I’m kind of used to that having had many chronic illnesses since I was a kid.  So…

My next surgery was a month after my hysterectomy.  However, this one was much more minor.  With my hysterectomy, I stayed in the hospital three days and wasn’t able to go out for two weeks.  With my parathyroid surgery, I went home just hours afterward.  Recovery time is much shorter and I had no real pain. Never took any pain pills.  Yet, when people see me at church or out and about, they can see the red, inflamed smiley face on my neck which makes it appear that I have swallowed a tennis ball after someone slit my throat.  NOW they ask me.  NOW they listen when I say I’m still tired after having three surgeries back to back.  NOW they are understanding.

My surgeons have been incredible.  All of my surgeries and doctor visits were handled quickly, decisively, and with compassion, but they didn’t solve the underlying problem of chronic illness. Now that the surgeries are behind me, I am going back to my regular drs to finally address the most frustrating issues of my health.  They may not be life threatening, but they greatly diminish my quality of life.  Know what I noticed?  Most of my appointments are now marked by the doctor saying things like, “Let’s try this” and “Let’s wait and see” and the ever popular “We’ll handle that at another time.” 

I’ve said this for years: Modern medicine is INCREDIBLE at solving things like broken bones and diseased organs, but not so much at solving chronic illness.  As long as they can see the problem, they know what to do to solve the issue.  My wisdom teeth were impacted, my wrist had two big cysts, my gallbladder was diseased, my uterus had a huge fibroid tumor, my ovary had a large cyst, my parathyroids had growths, but my fatigue and pain don’t have a visual marker.

Perhaps one day medical professionals will discover a visual marker for pain, fatigue, depression, and brain fog.  Maybe there’s a microscope in the near future that will be able to see a frowny face on our genes.  Until then, we have to accept that what people (or doctors) cannot see, they cannot have compassion for.  But those of us who deal with invisible illness have compassion for each other and that’s why this blog exists and I pray you don’t feel as alone as you once did.

Fear not, for I am with you; Be not dismayed, for I am your God. I will strengthen you, Yes, I will help you, I will uphold you with My righteous right hand.” -Isaiah 41:10

Sometimes You Need a Pity Party

Written By: JoJoisms - Feb• 28•17

This month’s blast from the past: Sometimes You Need a Pity Party: 

I don’t think you’d be human if you were sunshine and roses every day, especially in the face of chronic struggles and hardships.  However, some will tell you you’re not a good Christian if you share that you are depressed or upset or frustrated.  It’s not like the Lord doesn’t know you feel this way. It hasn’t escaped His notice.  It’s not a sin to be angry or sad or frustrated with your situation.  It’s only destructive if you stay there.  It can actually be quite therapeutic to throw yourself a little pity party now and again.

I think the only people who don’t ever go down deep in the valley of despair are those who don’t have any problems. Know any people without any problems?  Me neither!

So when you are exhausted just after getting up in the morning, you go looking for your sandwich in the closet, your electric bill is past due and you have only two nickels to rub together…AGAIN, you will enter that valley.  What you do there and how long you stay will determine your quality of life and the joy you find in spite of it all.

The value of a pity party:

Allow yourself time to grieve and/or express your negative emotions so you can move on.  Without a pity party, some find it difficult to gather the strength to move on to life’s next chronic hurdle because they haven’t dealt with the previous one.  Making time to express your anger, sadness or frustration can help you get rid of those feelings.

What to do at your pity party:

Invite people to your pity party.  You don’t have to send out formal invitations or anything, but fellowship with one or two trusted, Christian friends or family members who understand what it feels like to deal with the issues you are struggling with.  They will not only understand and allow you to vent, but lead you back out of the valley of despair and back to the Lord.  They can help by validating your feelings so you aren’t concentrating your energy on justifying why you feel the way you do.  You have a right to your feelings.  You don’t have to marry them, but you have a right to them as you come by them honestly.

Play Woe is Me.  Express how you feel and allow that trusted friend or family member to see the real you–even if it isn’t pretty right now.  It’s your party and you’ll cry if you want to so…cry if you want to!  You’ll feel better afterward.

Allow friends or family to lift you up.  I know.  It’s frustrating to make one single statement and have well-meaning Christians immediately jump all over you about not being positive and tell you just to cheer up.  But once you’ve had a good cry (or scream as the case may be), you need to be lifted up out of the valley or you’ll be tempted to stay there.  And trust me, pity parties are a nice place to visit, but you don’t want to live there!  Your friends want to help.  Let them.

What to do after your pity party:

Have some FUN!  Here are a few ideas.  Go for a walk, see the beauty God put on this earth.  See the humor in your situation and poke fun at yourself. Lift someone else’s spirits.  Make someone laugh.  Concentrate on someone else’s problems for a while and try to help.  It’s amazing how focusing on others will draw you out of the pit you’ve fallen into.  Write about it.  Sing about it.  Hug your blessings…better known as your children.  Hug someone else’s children.  LOL

Pray.  Pray that God would take this from you and, if God doesn’t take the struggle away, pray that He would use it, your experience and you to lift someone else up.

Lastly, thank God.  Thank the good Lord for the good things in your life.  Count your blessings.  You have some!  Even in the lowest pit of despair, you have some blessings you can count.  If your dishwasher broke and you can’t afford to fix it, you can thank God your water bill is paid this month and you can afford dish liquid.  If you are so tired you can’t get up out of bed, thank Him for the bed you have.  If your pain level is high, thank Him for the life you have and the chance you have today to perhaps find your answers. Maybe you’ll discover something that helps you.  Maybe you’ll discover a $20 bill in the couch that will pay for a few groceries.  I know, I’ve looked there a time or two as well!

But we have this treasure in earthen vessels, that the excellence of the power may be of God and not of us.  We are hard-pressed on every side, yet not crushed; we are perplexed, but not in despair;  persecuted, but not forsaken; struck down, but not destroyed”—  2 Corinthians 4:7-9

I pray this has been helpful and uplifting. Please leave me some feedback in a comment.  Share your story.  Tell me what you’d like to see in the coming weeks as I share.  And please pass this post along to others who may need to start planning their own pity party. 

What do you think?

Menopause Comedy Video

Written By: JoJoisms - Feb• 21•17

For your giggling pleasure: YouTube Menopause Comedy Video…

For those of my readers who are struggling with menopause or peri menopause issues, it’s good to look at the funny side of the issues we face.  After dealing with these issues for almost 18yrs, I can tell you it’s better to laugh than the alternative so…Here’s a short comedy routine by Christian comedian Jeff Allen. 

Had me rolling! I can soooooo relate to the AC part!  

I’d leave the windows open in January during a snowstorm if I could! How ’bout you?  Comment with your own story and/or a great funny meno video you love!  Keep it family friendly, please. 

What Chronic Illness Sufferers Want for Valentine’s Day

Written By: JoJoisms - Feb• 14•17

Valentine’s Day might feel like a commercially forced day of celebration to some, but to those of us with chronic illness, we have our own issues with it.  Ever been too tired to go out to dinner?  Had too much pain to snuggle? It can be disappointing and frustrating both for us and for our spouses.

Often our spouses don’t know what to get us for Valentine’s Day even if we do celebrate it.  Here’s a list I put together that might help:

  1. Bring home dinner. That way we don’t need to cook and we can stay home and enjoy our time in a comfortable environment and rest if we need to.
  2. Cleaning Lady for a day!  A week of cleaning services to get our house in order.  That way we can start off with a clean house making it easier for us to maintain the cleaning if we can.
  3. Back rub/foot massage.

What would you like for Valentine’s Day?

My losses brought gain!

Written By: JoJoisms - Feb• 07•17

It’s 2017!  Boy does that sound weird to me!  I was born the middle of last century. I used to think 2001 was only a space odyssey!  But here we are and this new year is starting off with many new gains for my body that took place as losses in just the last few years.  That’s a few years of loss that brought gain. Here’s what I mean.

In 2014, I lost the use of my left hand for a while in a car accident. It was a roller coaster ride where we slid several hundred feet during a snowstorm, jumped a tree trunk, and came to rest on the roof of the car as we dangled from our seat belts with passersby certain we were all dead.  After much physical therapy and retraining myself to type, I have regained almost all the use of my right hand with the notable exception of being able to snap my fingers.  A great loss to my social life, I’m sure! ROFL  Now one might look at this as a bad thing and it WAS.  My hand was broken in three places, I don’t have full function, and it still aches from time to time.  But it is also a huge gain.  I gained my life!  It was amazing that we hit that snow covered downed tree trunk instead of sliding unencumbered to our death in the highway below.  Flipping over stopped us and saved us a painful death.  All four of us!  A pretty large gain in my book!

Additionally that year, I lost my gallbladder.  Good riddance I say as it caused me such excruciating pain that I was unable to eat anything for two weeks.  It’s a great diet plan if you’re a fan of fainting and nausea. My gain on that one was that my dh was working for a company that had JUST updated its health plan that we could afford and that covered many more things.  We are still paying our out of pocket deductible on that surgery, but I had a fabulous surgeon who got me right in and took care of a very sick ugly gallbladder with a penchant for pain.

In 2015, I lost the use of my shoulder after I nonchalantly raised my right arm to stretch upon waking up.  I heard a crack, felt incredible pain searing through my arm, and found that I was unable to move my arm in any direction even a slight amount without aggravating the pain monster so I kept it close to the vest for 8 months.  After extensive physical therapy, I was able to regain the use of my right arm for pretty much whatever I needed to do…unless that included being able to put my right arm behind me far enough to be able to apply soap to a particular part of my upper back.  BUT, not having the use of my right arm for 8-12 months meant that I had the opportunity to train my left hand to do some of the things I used to be able to do with my right.  Being right handed and quite NOT left handed, this did help!

2016 was the year of taking stuff out of JoJo!  Within a six month period of time, I had my left ovary and Fallopian tube, the rest of my womanly pieces parts to a radical hysterectomy, and two and 1/3 of my four parathyroid glands!  It seems they were gaining weight at an alarming rate causing all kinds of havoc with my energy and sucking all the calcium out of my bones.  I was 54 and had the bones of an 80 y/o!  They took so much stuff out of me, I’m now like Dr. Who’s TARDIS, bigger on the inside!  Within six months, I had had three surgeries, one of which was confirmed cancer.

The gain there was three fold: my life, my energy, and my bones.  I was a cancer survivor before even my doctors knew I had cancer and I didn’t even require chemo or radiation to rid myself of this mortality menace! My last surgery is the only one that has the capability to actually affect two of my most problematic symptoms of chronic illness that I’ve struggled with for years: fatigue and pain.  Having growths on your parathyroids cause fatigue and increased pain and, while they probably will not go away entirely, they both will be reduced this month after removing the little tyrants.  Lastly, my extremely fragile bones are already eating up the calcium to help build their strength back up.  And I never did experience a break which is usually how most women find out they have Osteoporosis!  My own mom had this happen that year. She was diagnosed with Osteopenia, but after breaking her hip, foot, and wrist, she was told she actually has Osteoporosis.  A very painful way to find out, I must say…and quite a painful recovery as well.

If I look at each pain, each surgery, each frustration from fatigue, all I can see is loss.  But when I look at the gains inside of the loss or the blessings inside of the pain, I’m able to feel better, blessed.  What gain do you see inside of the loss of your chronic illness?