Blogging One Photo at a Time

Studio

I often take photos with the idea of blogging a thought or experience. Seems I’ve been doing this for a couple of years and not posting anything here. Maybe life is just like that for me. I go with fits and starts. I’m actually a stellar starter.

Sometimes I’ve been completely immersed in the support of people who are facing ostomy surgery and don’t know what to expect. I’ve enjoyed being a healthy active inspiration to those who are sick. I was once very fearful not knowing what life would be like living with an ostomy and thought my life would be changed forever.

My life has been forever altered now that I have an ileostomy,  but along with the disruptive reminders of my limitations have been unexpected moments of tenderness and the powerful strength in resilience.

I’ve had countless quiet pensive times when I reflected on the decision to have the reversal of my JPouch and have a permanent ileostomy. All I can tell you is that the freedom from the daily agony and fear of the toilet was the best decision I made. It’s also one that I feel very protective over when people ask me innocent questions like, “did you try probiotics?” or some well intended inquiry into what could have been done.

Each time I’m given suggestions about what I could do to improve my health,  it tosses me into a defensive emotional place. Sometimes I feel sorry for myself. Sometimes I feel very empowered with how far I’ve come. Sometimes I’d rather not think about it at all.

When I do share my medical condition with people, I’m always delighted when they tell me they had no idea. I’m also routinely discouraged by people thinking they can help improve my colon health when I don’t have one. A colon. It’s been completely removed. Anyway – this post isn’t about frustration, it’s more about reflection after two years of no writing. I’ve documented much of my life in photos and routinely snap shots of things that represent emotion.

It’s tough to remember misery in hindsight. Especially when it’s sprinkled with fantastic days of wellness. Anyone with a chronic illness that has times of remission can relate to this. People with an illness that doesn’t show on the outside also knows how discouraging it is to be unwell and misunderstood.

So I’m gathering my photos and putting them into a writing challenge. To get back to posting regularly, I’ve decided the photos will be my topics. Typically they evoke a feeling or memory – each one of these does. It’s organic and free flowing but in somewhat chronological order from the last time I posted here.

Roses were Day 1 that I wrote about yesterday. I wonder if it will take me another two years to write about each of these photos. I’m constantly inspired and routinely struggling.

With gratitude for good days and a healthy sense of reality about the future, I will begin. Here’s the list so far:

  1. Roses – CHECK!
  2. I Miss Vegetables
  3. Fetal Position
  4. Counting
  5. Painting and the Art of Healing
  6. Did You Do Your Best Today?
  7. Human Body Coloring Book
  8. Go Big or Go Home
  9. Dock Jump
  10. Does This Pie Scare You?
  11. Meditation Malas and Healing Beads
  12. Iced Coffee
  13. Hello Spring
  14. The K Line Train and How to Keep Moving
  15. My Mum is My Strength
  16. Are You Feeling Trapped?
  17. Pain Chart
  18. IV Nurses and Other Bedside Visions
  19. The View from my Hospital Bed
  20. Hospital 2.0
  21. What’s on Your Shelf?
  22. Uranus Gas
  23. Uncertain Selfie
  24. Rest and Recovery
  25. Reflections From My Desk
  26. Wonderwoman Nail Polish and Power Stances
  27. Mother Mary in My Accessories Drawer
  28. Pebble Path to Cross
  29. From Soup to the ER
  30. Hearst out the Passenger Window
  31. Ice Cream with No Regrets
  32. How do you Measure Up?
  33. Beets at the Picnic
  34. Bleak Chair at Dusk
  35. Brick Walls
  36. My Hubs and Humor
  37. Defeated; a Self Portrait
  38. Grey Days
  39. Be Nice
  40. It’s Perfectly OK
  41. Showing Up
  42. WonderWoman Mother’s Day
  43. Sister Stash
  44. Room Service
  45. Stand Together
  46. Staying Connected with Snapchat
  47. Painting Even When You’re No Good
  48. Life & Love in Handmade Quilts
  49. Golf and WHITE SHORTS
  50. White Shorts 2.0!
  51. Swimming – Even Diving!
  52. White Pants!
  53. Collections and Reflections
  54. Tray of Treasures
  55. Swim Skirts and Bikinis Tops
  56. Milkshakes
  57. Heart to Heart
  58. Anniversary and the Fitted Dress
  59. Dog Days and Daughters
  60. Home is Where We Gather
  61. Saturday Dog Sketching
  62. Neighborhood Craft Day Q&A
  63. Road Trip Packing List
  64. Backup Wardrobe
  65. When in Doubt – Double Up
  66. Weekend in Mexico

if you’re feeling sketchy…try this

Sketch Swap - Draw 1 to get 1

I stumbled upon this spontaneously as I was feeling sad tonight.  I was literally thinking about missing people I love and feeling apart from any connection. I was feeling lost and needing some creativity.

Draw cartoons, art, brainstorms, anything.

It made me feel better.

Give it a shot.

No one needs to see it but you….

I don’t feel blue anymore.

Understanding Blood Pressure

Every single time I’ve sat on an examining table, I’ve had my blood pressure taken. Each time I’m complimented on my low blood pressure and every single time, I think to myself, “smile and act like you understand. You should know this by now. Oh my gosh, what is my blood type?! I never was any good at fractions…”

It’s ridiculous. I should know what those numbers mean.

Having an ostomy and the complications that have been a part of my journey land me in the exam room more often than I’d like. Recently it was for abdominal pain. An ER visit, CT scan and hefty co-pay later and no answers. That, and I still don’t understand what my blood pressure reading was.

I decided to GOOGLE it and commit to understanding it once and for all.

Courtesy of the American Heart Association, here’s what I’ve found:

Couple On Computer

Blood pressure is typically recorded as two numbers, written as a ratio like this:

HBP Reading With Systolic And Diastolic Graphic ReadingRead as “117 over 76 millimeters of mercury” SystolicThe top number, which is also the higher of the two numbers, measures the pressure in the arteries when the heart beats (when the heart muscle contracts).
DiastolicThe bottom number, which is also the lower of the two numbers, measures the pressure in the arteries between heartbeats (when the heart muscle is resting between beats and refilling with blood).

This chart reflects blood pressure categories defined by the American Heart Association.

Blood Pressure
Category
Systolic
mm Hg (upper #)
Diastolic
mm Hg (lower #)
Normal less than 120 and less than 80
Prehypertension 120139 or 8089
High Blood Pressure
(Hypertension) Stage 1
140159 or 9099
High Blood Pressure
(Hypertension) Stage 2
160 or higher or 100 or higher
Hypertensive Crisis
(Emergency care needed)
Higher than 180 or Higher than 110

* Your doctor should evaluate unusually low blood pressure readings.

Which number is more important, top (systolic) or bottom (diastolic)?

Typically more attention is given to the top number (the systolic blood pressure) as a major risk factor for cardiovascular disease for people over 50 years old. In most people, systolic blood pressure rises steadily with age due to increasing stiffness of large arteries, long-term build-up of plaque, and increased incidence of cardiac and vascular disease.

Read Full Article Here

Act on your thoughts of others


I love architecture and words. Words and letters and lyrics. I love stories. Telling them, reading them, hearing them. I saw part of a word that made me think of a friend the other day. I remember reading “telling someone you thought of them is far less powerful than taking the steps to send them a note in the mail”.  These days we can connect with one another within seconds with cameras on our phones and the ability to check our email, Twitter and Facebook from anywhere. I’m not sure I buy into the idea of posting my “minute-to-minute” but I was pleased to be able to take this picture and send it to my friend so she knew she was a part of my thoughts and my day.

To make it easy to send a note to a friend or loved one, I keep a drawer full of paper, envelopes and cards for any occasion. It’s OK that they aren’t all originals – it is the thought that counts. My next project is making my own cards from simple photos, but for now, I keep lots of notes on hand and try to think of others often. I helps when I’m having a down day.

A new door opens

Today I opened a new door when I spoke before a group of nursing students about living with an ostomy.  Because of my fondness for those in health care, I immediately felt a sense of safety and comfort.  After I shared my story, I answered questions ranging from diet to intimacy,  to my wardrobe and outlook on life. I felt their compassion and acceptance, and was eager to help them understand  how important their role is for the ostomy patient.

Nurses are the first to touch the lives of people post surgery and when the doors of your hospital room close, the relationship with your nurse can feel like a lifeline. It can be a very emotional time viewing your adjusted body, and in those first few days, a difficult and lonely place. You share intimately with the nurse who cares for your stoma, checks your output  and tends to your incision. When you lay exposed and vulnerable, the caring hands of your nurse and confident touch can have a profound impact.

Journal with nostalgia and move towards better days

During my time in the hospital, or when I was ill, I often found myself writing about my pain or fears in my journal. Sometimes just getting the words down on paper feels better – for me, it always does. I have always been a journal keeper, and love the feel of a fresh journal in my hands. 

Recently I spent the day at the Seattle Folklife Festival, wandering around enjoying great music, food and checking out all the crafty crafts of the local artisans. I met a delightful journal maker named Jacob in his booth teeming with funky journals made from old books.  It was a bonanza of nostalgia and I dove in searching for books from my childhood and laughing at covers from the 60s and 70s.

About the journals
EACH JOURNAL IS UNIQUE, as in one of a kind. they are all made from recycled book covers and because of it each one is a different size.  Inside the front cover and throughout every book Jacob has retained any beautiful cover pages, illustrations, library cards, maps, inscriptions, or what-have-you found in the book (they find all kinds of beautiful stuff in these old books). and it’s all held together with a black plastic spiral.

There is something so pleasing, I cannot explain it. They are delightful and I couldn’t get enough. Take a look at the amazing selection and find a surprise inside. I chose “The I Hate to Housekeep Book” and to my delight chapter 11 was left in. Chapter 11: How to Look As Good As the Lord Intended. It’s classic! Take a look at the other gems Jacob has at bookjournals.com and get journalling. Before you know it, you’ll be feeling better too.

Overwhelmed? Escape to a movie.

When things get overwhelming, I tend to go for the escape. Today I pulled on my wool socks, made a cup of tea and snuggled up with a movie. When I am tired, or tired of putting on a brave face, I sink deeply into a movie. Nothing better than a good sad film to pull up my tears and flush out emotional baggage. My current favorite is “Once“. Simply put, it’s brilliant. Any movie that leaves me crying in the seat as the credits roll, goes down in pen on my list of lifetime favorites. So if you, or someone you know, is holding back some tears, rent this one and pull up a blanket. Nothing like a good cry sometimes.

Medical ID tags with a wink

 

OK here’s my new favorite thing! Check out these great medical alert tag necklaces. Fiddledee ID’s offers functional medical id tags. It’s recommended to carry some kind of ID when travelling in case of emergencies. Why not do it in style, I found these ones pleasing. Gift Certificates are available and would be a great gift for someone you love.

 

 

Eliminate Stereotypes and Identify with these real people!

08may.jpg08dec.jpg

When I was facing my ostomy surgery, the only resources were pamphlets with images of active seniors. This increased my isolation and anxiety.  I wish that everyone got one of these images to look at when they lay in recovery. Nothing against the active seniors – but we’ll get there later. For now, it’s hopeful to identify with these strong and beautiful photos. I blogged on this colondar in Help Others already – just wanted to show you my favorite months here.