I've spent the last hour or so putting together (and editing the track info on every track for accuracy) a playlist for travel. I dislike radio stations because you have no control over what they play--and all three of the stations in Yuma suck--and they inevitably cut out into annoying static somewhere throughout the journey. When traveling with Corey, he always has his phone or usb with tons of good music, but he is rarely my driver because of work. My plan is to burn several cd's, however many it takes to fit this playlist on, and keep them in my little GPS bag so that I will have them whenever I am traveling, because I always take my GPS with me on out of town trips, even if it's the same destination that I've been to every month for the past year. Just in case. Detours, and all that. Plus it finds restaurants and other stuff! Best Christmas present ever. Seriously. It's been so practical and useful! And I don't have to finagle trying to borrow my grandparent's GPS any longer.

Putting together the playlist has me listening to songs that I haven't listened to in the better part of a year, thanks to my discovery of Pandora and Youtube playlists. I haven't relied on my iTunes library in quite some time, but it was nice to discover favorite songs again. The interesting thing is that I started going through my old Christian Rock/Praise collection again, and I felt things… it was just very interesting.

Listening to my old Alternative Christian Rock brought back all the warm fuzzies from my time in Idaho, which is when I began listening to it and collecting various tracks and artists. It's kinda weird to feel the rushing tingle of whatever it is I'm feeling, but I just feel wrapped up in a warm hug, almost, when I hear certain songs. I think a lot of the powerful effect they have on me is that they are heavily associated with a lot of the work I was doing to confront my abuse and to break free of my crippling depression, so I feel that same jolt of self-affirmation and power that comes with really trying to better myself and my circumstances. That whole time period of 2 or 3 years, however long it was… it was difficult beyond all reason at times (a lot of times), but I also made more breakthroughs and developed myself personally more than I ever had before in my life. I really think it was the time I spent in Idaho and the summer in LA that gave me the backbone and strength I needed to face life with multiple degenerative chronic illnesses. I learned my own strength and intelligence, my charisma and ability to love and be loved. It was necessary preparation for not just the next phase of my life, which included college and my work with The Healing Journey and getting married, but for the rest of my life. My time at Bible college, SOULS West, was more of a test of my stubborn resilience, and without SOULS I never would have gone to Idaho like I did. I got a job offer from the Conference up there as a Bible worker (which I thoroughly hated, as much as I hated canvassing, but I can't deny the skills I honed through both of those occupations), and thus I was connected to the Adventist community where I lived in a way that I could not and would not have achieved any other way.

While I no longer hold to the beliefs that I struggled to adhere to in those days, I still get that rush of pleasant feelings when I hear the music of those days. When I first felt it, I questioned a little whether it was perhaps dormant beliefs rearing their heads? But no. When I listened to the lyrics, though, I thought that, yeah, it must be nice to believe in your ultimate importance in the grand scheme of things, to believe that there is more to life than meets the eye… and I believe that there is, but not in the Christian scope of things. Not anymore. Maybe if I hadn't gotten bold enough to start examining the questions and thoughts that I'd always buried before, lost in the flurry of religious activity and constant motion, then I'd still be a member of the church in some way or another, even though I probably wouldn't make it to church super often these days. I admit to missing the camaraderie of a unified culture, the instant connection with other Adventists due to common belief. How could I not? It gets lonely here, with only cats for company. Yet I don't have the energy or will-power to overcome the pain and seek out other company, so maybe it's for the best. Talking to people is really exhausting.

I saw the geneticist at the end of last month, and my rheumatologist earlier this week. At the advice of the geneticist, I quit taking Vitamin C supplements because I didn't see any difference or help from them. She said to note carefully if I did feel any different upon quitting, and to start up again if I noticed a benefit to me. Well… they were doing more than I realized. A few days to a week after leaving off the C, my pain levels skyrocketed to what they had been back in the bad old days, before I had found proper help for my pain. Even with the strong medication I'd been given, I have been in agony for the past week. It's been awful, so awful. It's not just pain, it's a painful burning within the bones and concentrated in the joints, like they are filled with napalm and brimming over into my muscles… I've had to use my walker to creep around the house this whole week. Thankfully, my fatigue has increased with the pain so that I am sleeping just as much as before, if not more, which means that I am insensible to the pain consciously, though I definitely still feel it. I know, because sometimes I wake myself up with moans that sound remarkably like the lowing of a cow. Go figure. Having figured out that it was most likely the lack of extra Vitamin C that caused this dramatic change (because nothing else is different), I began supplementing again about two days ago. I'm noticing some little bit of change for the better; not much, but any relief is something to shout from the rooftops about. Yes, it was that bad. I have no idea how I managed to visit the rheumatologist all the way across the state in such a state. I am certain that I will continue to improve, though I can't say at what rate, and I feel that this experience may have knocked me down a step or two permanently. Alas. It was an important revelation, however. What about Vit. C prevents the burning in my bones and joints, the pain that pervades every single nerve fiber in a flaming gout of misery? I don't know, but I do know that I will never allow myself to run short, ever. This extra amount of pain is the reason for my increased presence on my blog, however. It's been that and reading-- distraction of the mind. Anything to not focus entirely on my agony.

Speaking of the rheum, it was a fairly productive appointment. I informed him of my ever increasing back pain, the pain due to the injury I gave myself during my last bout of narcoleptic-like sleep attacks. I fell asleep while standing at my dresser, taking my meds, and then I fell backwards completely prone and hit my head on the metal frame of the bed. There was nothing I could do to stop myself when I woke up halfway through the fall. I hurt my head, of course, but I also jammed my back somehow when I landed on the hard floor like a piece of bread butter-side-down. When I went to my chiropractor, he said that I had 3 or 4 vertebrae all jammed in together. I've seen him a few times since then, and had several massages, hoping to heal it like I did the subluxated ribs that I got in the hospital about a year ago. It's even the same place that hurts. :( This time it's the spine, primarily, though the ribs are also affected. Mer. Anyway, Dr. S ordered an X-ray, which we both agreed would be the best thing. He could have gone with an MRI, but I asked him to go the cheap route.

As an aside, I worked the numbers recently, just in my head, and I realized that I need a minimum of $400 a month to cover my very basic medical bills and prescriptions and travel costs. That is pretty discouraging to me, especially as I was denied disability again and the only way I can pay that is to beg my dads for money. I hate doing that… which is why I have this low-grade feeling of desperation bubbling through my core at all times, though it increases to a high boil whenever I have to pay any bills outside of that.

Anyway… I shared with Dr. S that I had been denied disability again, and he was incredulous. I told him what the letters said, and he responded with a slightly indignant, "But you have EDS, and you have it bad. I mean, you really have it bad!" That was both slightly discouraging and affirming. I keep hoping for a spontaneous recovery, but my better sense tells me that this won't be the case, especially as my diagnosis list on my rheumatology paperwork still lists Dysautonomia and Inflammatory Polyarthritis as confirmed diagnoses, in addition to all of the endocrine diseases and other fun stuff. I really am amazed at how stubborn I was in previous years, insisting on finishing Bible college despite severe illness of a then-unknown nature… and college classes… and work at the Healing Journey… I really did a lot before my body caved in and became more helpless than before. When I think about all I accomplished (especially all of the backpacking and camping and other achievements from my time in Idaho), I am very proud of myself. I really am a tough chick!

Dr. S ordered several blood tests in addition to the back X-ray which I was able to knock out that day before I went home, but I have to go in for an ultrasound of the hands when I'm in Tucson next. My next visit will include the ultrasounds, a visit to Dr. L, my geneticist, and Dr. R, my cardiologist. Oh hey, did I mention that I've started Physical Therapy? Yes, I have a therapist coming to my home to get me started on a home exercise program. I had to cancel the last appointment, because I was in the throes of my increased pain and fatigue, plus the previous appointment had come right at the threshold of my slipping into old pain-types, and we had definitely over-done it. I am finally recuperated from that visit, but it's been almost a week. She has only 3 more visits she's allowed to make (stupid insurance), but I'm doing pretty well on my own. She just wants to show me what I can progress to, in time, but we are starting very slow and small for now. It does feel good to be working my muscles again, beyond my daily evening walk. Takes me back to my Acrosports days, in a way. I know that by a lot of people's standards these exercises would hardly be "pushing it", but for me and where my body is right now, it is definitely pushing it. It's a good opportunity for me to continue learning how to determine my limits and quit when I need to… despite my urge to keep going. Modified crunches have nothing to do with my worth, but it's hard to believe that thought sometimes, especially when I remember what I used to accomplish. I've fallen pretty far… It's not my fault, though. These are just the consequences of my faulty genes, and I'm making the best of it.

Really, considering how physically miserable I am most of the time, life is actually pretty good. My marriage is doing fine. In fact, things feel better lately than they have for a long time. In another post, I'll talk about the Masquerade Party that we went to, and all the fun stuff connected to it. It's time I ate a little something, took my meds, and surrendered to sleep yet again. Good night, all. (Or morning, if that's where  you're at.)

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