Methotrexate

I took the first three pills Monday morning. By the afternoon I felt sick to my stomach, my pain had increased, and I just felt overall pretty crappy. I had to lie down after I picked up my son. By the evening I didn’t feel like I could do anything but lie down. It sucked, but I thought it wasn’t as bad as I expected. Monday night I took three more pills.

Yesterday (Tuesday) was the worst. I woke up in pain and nauseous. I wasn’t able to eat all day. I ate some saltines and ginger ale to try to calm my stomach. There was no way I could have “pushed through” anything. I was just too sick. All my regular pain pathways were lighting up and catching fire. None of my remedies were having an effect. I began to get seriously depressed because of how awful I felt. Both nights I had trouble sleeping, even with my usual sleep aid. My sleep was fitful and I woke countless times.

Today is Wednesday and I still feel like shit. I can’t taste anything, like my morning coffee, one of my few pleasures that I have left.

I’m berating myself because I can’t tolerate drug side effects. I’m questioning whether or not I will be able to continue to swallow this poison.

My tongue is red and swollen and is constantly painful. This has been going on for several years, sometimes it gets better, mostly it gets worse.

All of this is leaving me feeling defeated, a feeling I tolerate the worst of all.

I don’t know how long I will be able to continue this, even with a promise of “It will get better”. Oh wait, there are no promises in autoimmune disorders. There is probably no whining in autoimmune disorders either.

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These things

This is a post about the things I want to be doing. I can no longer endure the monotony of my life. I want to engage with life again. I want to go back to work.

I want to update my resume. I’ve been off of work on disability for four years now. I feel that returning to work will be instrumental in my healing. I’m not using my gifts, and I’m not expressing myself and the result is a slow and painful death of the soul.

I want to start painting. I’ve wanted to do this for a long time. It doesn’t make sense. Why do I resist doing the one thing I know will bring me joy and peace?

I want to change my diet. I want to follow some kind of diet plan designed to promote health. I want to eat a lot more vegetables. I want to stop eating sugar and white processed foods.

I want to exercise. I take my dogs on little walks now but I want to do something that feels like structured exercise. I want to walk fast, or use a treadmill, or lift weights. I want to feel strong and I want to produce adrenaline.

I want to meditate every day. Even if it is only for 5 minutes.

I want to do yoga everyday, even if it is just a few poses, even if it just a few restorative poses.

I want to de-clutter. I want to get rid of things I’m not using or that I don’t need.

I want to journal every day, even if it is only a few words.

What do you want to do?

 

I am woman, hear me whimper

It’s impossible to escape the theme in our society right now regarding sexual abuse. I’m perturbed by the hypocrisy of it all. I’m troubled that anyone who makes a claim is considered legitimate. I’m annoyed that the person who has branded herself the creator of this “movement” is not a heroine but a very troubled person who is becoming more manic everyday. I’m tired of people branding themselves as victims and then claiming that as identity.

I’m disturbed that society seems to think that removing people like Weinstein, Spacey and Lauer from their jobs makes us a better society. I’m irked that these men are the sacrificial lambs for the elected official who began this dialogue. I’m irritated that we are going back to the days of pitting women against men, declaring men evil, especially if they have sexual desires and make them known. We’ve done this already. Helen Reddy, Billy Jean King, Nine to Five.

Maybe what I’m really pissed about are the memories from my own childhood. I’m five-years-old with a young woman who is 13 and entering puberty. We are in a small room under the peak of our house in my bedroom, the place I called my “cubby hole”. She is naked and showing me her body, asking me to admire it. She shows her growing breasts to me, tells me to touch them and put my mouth on them. Years later in therapy I would finally learn that a five-year-old does not initiate these types of activities. Decades later I would finally understand that the faceless young woman in the cubby hole was my sister.

By then I understood that being touched like that
was just part of life. Being “special”, and “cute”
came at a price. It was an exchange
that would inform the rest of my life.

Or maybe I’m angry about the school bus driver in second grade. I was one of his “special” girls. Several times per week I was given the privilege of opening and closing the bus door. Grasp handle, turn it one way to open it, turn it the other way to close it. It was 1971 and girls were required to wear dresses to school. While I stood next to the school bus driver opening and closing the door he would put his hand up under my dress and fondle me. I never told anyone. By then I understood that being touched like that was just part of life. Being “special”, and “cute” came at a price. It was an exchange that would inform the rest of my life.

So excuse me if I say that the #metoo and #timesup phrases mean nothing to me. I do not sleep better at night knowing that Kevin Spacey will no longer be in the White House. I do not wake up comforted by the absence of Matt Lauer on Today. My life is not better because the Golden Globes were monochromatic.

Real change comes from authenticity and not self-aggrandizement. Sacrificial gestures in entertainment do not translate into actual gains in society. Hashtags are not symbolic of movement, but of reactivity. Reactivity is avoidance of personal responsibility.

Is this all in my head?

I’m all caught up in worrying. I think I am paranoid. I start thinking that certain people are plotting against me. I’m always waiting for the time when I find out that the root of my illness turns out to be worst than I ever expected. Today I’m worried about my healthcare providers and what they might be thinking about me. I know that it’s possible and likely probable that they have not given me a second thought.

I’m imagining that I come across as someone who is obsessed with their symptoms. I’m worried that they think I am a head case. I’m worried that I might be a head case.

This most recent journey into paranoia began right before Christmas when the rheumatologist wrote in his note that Amyloidosis was a potential diagnosis given the symptoms I have. Then one of the tests he ran came up with a result that also fell into the Amyloidosis category. Even though I knew it wasn’t the most likely diagnosis, I couldn’t let go of it. I began thinking I’d better start preparing to die.

Ever since I gave up hope of returning to wellness, I’ve often wondered if this was going to end in death. I chastise myself for thinking that. I call myself overdramatic and a hypochondriac.

Right around the time I received all of that information I also started going to a pain support group. Well, it was more of a class. The premise of the group was for the participants to learn that our pain was coming from our brains, not our bodies. I met with the social worker leading the group. She shared her theory with me that people with chronic pain have unresolved childhood trauma. I agree that there could be a correlation. I told her I had recently been diagnosed with an autoimmune disorder. She said all pain is the same. It doesn’t matter what the diagnosis is. It’s not the disease causing inflammation and pain. It’s the brain.

As the group went on I found myself irritated with her presentations. Especially when she presented her ideas as facts with little science to back things up. For instance, she asserted that all pain is the same. All pain is caused by the brain. The body has an injury that causes pain, the brain takes over and makes the pain chronic because it is trying to protect the body. Diagnostic tests such as MRI’s are useless because everyone has changes on MRI’s as a result of the aging process. Each time I would find myself offended at the idea that my brain was creating my disease. It felt like the “blame the patient” mentality I’ve seen from providers in our current health system.

Any time someone would question her theories she would suggest that they needed to have an open mind. I told her I thought she was biased because she had never experienced chronic pain. I questioned the scientific validity of her assertions. She would say things like, “I really believe in this stuff!”. She brought in a doctor who was a former pain management physician who told us that interventions such as steroid injections are only done because they fatten the doctors wallet. When I told her that I thought my former doctors at the pain management clinic at Stanford might disagree with her theories, she told me that doctors don’t understand “modern pain science”.

Eventually I stopped going to the group. But the feelings persist.

You know those traps they set in the jungle floor to catch things? Think Indiana Jones. I feel like I’ve fallen into one. I can see out but I can’t escape. I alternate between trying to claw myself out by climbing the walls, or lying hopeless on the floor exhausted, watching as the world moves on without me.

Anger and Frustration

Lately, this is all I’ve been feeling.

Yesterday I had my third visit with my NP who is my PCP. The first visit was a total bust, and I considered looking for another provider. But then I started telling myself that maybe she is just stressed, maybe the system is just working her over. She is so distant and removed. When I tell her things I just get blank stares while she types away at the computer. Yesterday I was concerned that my thyroid levels were off again.

I had a total thyroidectomy four years ago. Since that time my thyroid levels have fluctuated wildly. I have been hypothyroid or hyperthyroid so many times that I recognize the symptoms when they occur. I do best when my TSH is about 1.2. If it is lower than 1.0 or higher than 1.75 I have symptoms. The symptoms are severe and the worst part of it is that it makes me feel crazy. Mentally, it drags me to the depths of the most severe depression I’ve ever experienced. Anxiety becomes so intense that it is incapacitating. My ability to concentrate is severely diminished. I can’t concentrate long enough to complete very simple tasks. I could go on. I also have Sjogren’s, which has its own set of symptoms that often overlap with the thyroid symptoms.

I was told about four weeks after my thyroidectomy by a well-qualified endocrinologist that my dose of Synthroid would be 88 mcg. Different doctors had different opinions. I tried Armor Thyroid for a while. My PCP claimed my Endocrinologist (another highly qualified professional) was overdosing me on thyroid medicine. When I asked him about it he said, “I’ve been doing this for 50 years. A lot of PCP’s don’t know to treat thyroid disorders.” Several weeks later I had a TSH of .01, which is extremely hyperthyroid. I went back to Synthroid and for the first couple of years it took about 137 mcg of Synthroid to achieve stability. For some reason now it takes about 175 mcg. I ended up hypothyroid again in mid November when my dosage was increased again.

What really has me ticked off is her note on the visit. The hospital system has electronic charting, so that you can go in and read your medical records. In her notes about the visit, she writes:

Acquired hypothyroidism

Last reassessment of TSH was WNL. Pt states that she is feeling down and becomes easily agitated and reports “brain fog” pt believes that her thyroid levels are not WNL. Will recheck thyroid. Pt had not started wellbutrin at last visit and still has not started medication. Pt states that she does not believe that her agitation or down mood is related to her anxiety and depression at this time.

~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~

I never said “brain fog”. I specifically avoid this term because in the medical profession its seen as a wacko term. I told her that I was signing a form and forgot how to write my own signature. It was like my hand wasn’t cooperating with my brain. I also never said I didn’t believe my thyroid levels were not WNL. I simply asked her to check them. I already take an antidepressant that works when my thyroid levels are normal.

Another thing that is going on in the background is that my Rheumatologist has suggested the possibility of an additional diagnosis. It’s been weighing heavily on me because most people do not survive it. So I alternate between thinking that I might be having symptoms from thyroid, or Sjogren’s or that this is just the new normal. If its Sjogren’s steroids will help. If an adjustment of Synthroid is needed that will help. If this is the new normal then I need to know that too.

I hate feeling like I have to fight for things that are actually indicated given the symptoms and clinical picture. I hate being mischaracterized, especially in a medical record that every doctor I see from here on out has access too. Her biased opinion becomes the reason that the next doctor considers me invalid before he/she has even entered the exam room. I hate feeling dismissed or perhaps worse, written off as a hypochondriac who doesn’t “believe” in lab results. And finally, I resent this provider’s continual insistence that my physical symptoms are being caused by anxiety and depression instead of the diagnoses that are well documented in my medical record.

Pain is personal

I’ve been feeling edgy, pissed off and defensive. I think the Prednisone is contributing. But another contributor is the chronic pain support group I’ve been attending. It’s not really a “support group” in that it resembles a class more than a group where people share and support each other. There is a lot of education being provided and the buzz-words “modern pain science” are thrown around a lot.

From what I can determine, “modern pain science” is a movement spearheaded by an Australian scientist named Lorimer Moseley. It is important to note that Dr. Moseley is not a medical doctor. Moseley asserts several theories related to pain. He asserts that pain is caused by many factors but that most importantly the brain creates pain, as opposed to tissue damage. He backs up this concept with the illustration that if you have no brain, you have no pain.

The group I’m attending is based on Moseley’s theories, so there have been many assertions made that may or may not be attributable to Moseley. For instance, the teachers suggest that most of the medical interventions currently being used are useless. They focus specifically on “injections” (their term) and opioid medications. It has also been suggested that imaging of painful areas is over used and not helpful. They cite research that indicates that all people are going to have changes in their spine related to aging, and that when these changes are pointed out to people, it increases their pain. People who have persistent pain are seen as “hypersensitive” in their response to pain.

The instructors have cited reports of individuals who have either been injured and experienced no pain, or individuals who thought they were injured (but were not) and experienced extreme pain. One example was of a roofer who landed on a 6-inch nail that went through his steel toed boot who presented in the E.R with reports of excruciating pain. He was medicated for pain and the boot removed where it was discovered that the nail had gone through his shoe but between his toes, resulting in zero tissue damage. Additionally pictures of MRI’s were shown where a person had visible spine damage but no pain.

As someone with an advanced degree who has studied and taught research and statistics, I find fault with their examples. In a scientifically based research study, extreme results such as these are considered “outliers” and are not considered statistically significant. And as someone who has both counseled patients with chronic pain and experienced it daily for over 5 years, I find their assumptions to be not only scientifically incorrect but harmful to people experiencing chronic pain.

In my journey through the illness I have discovered that there are pain pathways in my body that are exacerbated by stress. I have experienced decreased pain by practicing yoga and meditation. Mindfulness has been very important as well. I find if I am thinking about the illness constantly my symptoms worsen. I’ve also found that current acute pain can stimulate prior memories of pain and make it worse. Acceptance is also key. I accept that I have an illness that causes symptoms daily. The illness is progressive and has demonstrated that by its effects on my body. Maintaining a sense of hope that things can improve is perhaps most important of all.

As a psychotherapist working for one of the country’s largest HMO organizations I experienced first hand the bias that exists against people experiencing chronic pain. I saw it in my colleagues and I saw it in myself. People with chronic pain are largely seen as drug seeking individuals with multiple psychiatric problems. It is well-known in the Psychiatric community that Fibromyalgia was coined as a diagnosis in order to market the drug Lyrica.

And now here come the people touting “modern pain science” as a breakthrough in treating pain. If pain is simply a perception created by the brain, then if we change our brains the pain should go away. When I expressed my concerns to the leader of the group she suggested that leading medical institutions in our country (such as Stanford, where I received “injections” that helped me) are “behind” in understanding pain.

I originally began attending this group because I wanted to add some structure to my life, and I wanted to be around other people who were experiencing chronic pain because it is a journey that is difficult to understand unless you have been on it. I was so upset after the last group that now I’m not sure whether I will return or not.

I have a big problem when information is presented as fact and considered factual because the people presenting it have certain letters after their name. I also find it disheartening that the people who are treating chronic pain are those who have never experienced it. We all know that they are never going to understand the devastating effect it has on a person’s life.

Vindication

I had a visit the other day with a rheumatologist. It went amazingly well. Before the visit I’d taken notes. I’ve been keeping track of day-to-day symptoms for several months now. I thought about what I used to tell my patients before they were going to see the Psychiatrist. Doctors speak in the language of symptoms.

After the doctor came in and introduced himself, I launched into my list. I tried to present is as dispassionately as possible. Doctors are not well versed in the language of emotion. About half way through I looked up and apologized for having such a long list.

He said, “No, I appreciate it.” He was actually listening to me! I’m so used to the blank stares and curt dismissals of Neurologists. When I was finished and we had talked a bit more about the history of things he paused for a moment. “So, you’ve been dealing with this for 5 years, and have probably done a lot of research. What do you think is going on?” I about dropped my pants without being asked. I’ve learned that you should never suggest a possible diagnosis to doctors. They instantly see you as a hypochondriac who sits around looking for symptoms on the internet all day. It insults them that we common folk think we could figure anything out related to our health.

I told him I thought I was experiencing a progressive autoimmune or neurological disorder. I knew when the illness first appeared as an unrelenting pain in my left scapula over 5 years ago that something serious was going wrong with my body. Turns out I was right. The illness has finally progressed to the point where the symptoms can no longer be dismissed. And truly, I am relieved. I’ve been waiting for an accurate diagnosis for a long time.

I read this book when I was about twenty about a young woman who was injured in a diving accident and became paralyzed from the waist down. I’m pretty sure her name was Joni. The book was about how the accident and resulting paralysis deepened her faith. The book terrified me. I couldn’t imagine a worst fate than a physical disability. I was so afraid that God would strike me down in order to use me in some way.

Long before I had any illness I worried a lot about my health. My worst fears conjured up things like the C word or Lupus or some other health problem that could be disabling. I would say it was an obsessive fear that took the form of fear of contamination. I washed my hands until they were red and had abrasions trying to protect myself. I knew this was coming.

Some might suggest that I attracted that which I feared the most. I would disagree. Life has given me exactly what I have needed to further my spiritual evolution. Life has been in the business of removing every obstacle I’ve constructed to prevent myself from fulfilling my life’s purpose. And I am an expert in creating obstacles.

I’ve always had to learn things the hard way. Anyone that might have given me directions to avoid some of life’s hazards would have been wasting their breath. I had to experience things first hand, and sometimes more than once before deciding if it was unworkable.

Throughout the course of the illness I’ve often felt ashamed. I’ve felt like a failure for not working, and for not being able to cure myself. I’ve shamed myself for hurling through life in such an adventurous way and in a way that did not fit into a societal norm. I was horrified to find myself nearing the age when retirement becomes an option disabled and without a retirement fund. I’ve never been one to prepare for the future, or so I thought.

So now here I am and I’m OK. Being forced to step out of our busy-ness obsessed society has given me a completely different perspective on life. It’s changed my relationship with my son. And all that adventurous living, well, there are things that I’ve done and places I’ve been that I may not be able to experience in the same way again. I don’t have the endurance I used to have, that is just factual. So I’m glad I’ve lived a life that has been abundant in experience.

I don’t know what the future holds. There are medical tests pending, and more on the horizon. There are many possible outcomes, although my mind is attracted to the worst possible ones. Things could head in several different directions. I could be facing something that is more disabling, or I could continue to limp along as I have for many years to come.

Vindication is defined as “the action of clearing someone of blame or suspicion”. For those along the way who have doubted me (doctors, friends, relatives), I have many words to say that you will most likely never hear. Often people dismiss things that they don’t understand. The experience of chronic illness is unique and can only be understood by those who have experienced it. People who haven’t experienced it have no business inserting their uninformed opinions into the dialogue.

What Next?

I’ve been avoiding writing for some time now. I decided that I didn’t want to blog about illness anymore. Illness doesn’t define me. Even my blog title is wrong. I definitely don’t want to write about Lyme and I don’t generally consider myself to be a “Lyme Sufferer”.

But then I had a doctor appointment yesterday and its been messing with my head ever since. I’ve been working really hard on staying out of the thinking spirals that go along with chronic illness. Everyday I just try to do the best I can with what I have.

For the first few years every time I would go to a new doctor I felt like I had to give them all of the pertinent details relating to my situation so that they could help me. Now I know that Western medical practices have very little to offer me.

This was the second time I’d seen this provider who was assigned to me as a primary care person. As such I knew her role would be to provide medication refills and referrals, lab tests, and very little else. The first appointment she came in, introduced herself and then spent the entire visit looking into the screen and typing. I know this is the state of modern medicine, and she gave me the referral I asked for, so I figured I should consider myself lucky.

Of the multiple medical conditions I have been diagnosed with, she chose to highlight depression. She offered an additional antidepressant Rx, which I said OK to. She had the same manner as the professionals I used to work with in managed care. I am one of the many who are showing up in their offices with multiple chronic medical problems as a result of the Affordable Care Act. We are throwaway patients with too many medical problems to deal with in the ten minute office visits we are allotted.

This provider was probably almost half my age. She has less education than I do. But her manner was off-putting. She treated me as if I was her elderly grandma with little to no knowledge of anything beyond Bingo.

When I told her that I didn’t start the new antidepressant she prescribed she typed furiously for a few minutes. (Patient not compliant with treatment perhaps). My most recent blood work came back indicating that I have an autoimmune disorder involving connective tissue, perhaps Lupus. When I told her I was concerned about that, she told me she has “lot’s” of patients with diseases like Lupus who live healthy active lives as a result of pharmaceutical intervention. OH, Happy Day.

When my thyroid medication is the right dose and my levels are OK (I had a thyroidectomy) both depression and anxiety lessen tremendously. But she didn’t even bring up the thyroid levels, I had to ask about it.

When she was done talking she stood up and said, “I’ll see you again after the first of the year,” with a big smile. I could just sense that she felt the visit was a waste of her time because I didn’t take her medication. She wrote on the after visit summary to reschedule in three months.

Even though I had tried to mentally prepare myself for the visit, for the rest of the day I noticed I wasn’t feeling very good about myself. It was that feeling of not being understood, or of feeling like a flawed human.

Fibro or Lyme?

Check out the link below to a great post by Kimmiecakeskickslyme about the connection between Fibro and Lyme. And here are my thoughts on the matter:

Fibromyalgia was invented by pharmaceutical companies who needed a market for their drug Lyrica. I’m not just making this up. When I was in graduate school a psychiatrist explained this to us. When I worked in a major healthcare system in the US, patients who were diagnosed with Fibro were considered as psych cases. I think you bring up an important question, but another important question is “Is Lyme disease really Epstein-Barr, or is Lyme disease really a chain of events that creates an autoimmune disorder in the body”. I think this is an important question because getting a Lyme disease diagnosis and going to an LLMD is not necessary an indication that someone is going to get better. In fact, they are likely to get worse. And the worse they get the more they are told that they are getting worse because they have to endure the treatment in order to get better. In my mind a diagnosis of Lyme disease is not that much of a step up from fibromyalgia in regards to getting better. I believe the symptoms we all experience (which of course are very real and debilitating) are a result of a colossal failure of our bodies to be able to respond to multiple stressors, physical mental and spiritual. Many of us were Type A personalities before the illness began. So we are in a weakened state when we encounter pathogens via a tick bite, or something else. Perhaps we also experience severe mental and emotional stressors like loss or disillusionment. Perhaps we also have unresolved trauma from the past that is stored in our bodies as pain. It’s an an assault from all directions to the point where the organism (us) systematically shuts down. Then we travel our journey from doctor to doctor trying to find out what is wrong with us. We want someone to fix it so we can get back to work and parenting and care-taking and whatever else we do. Eventually we find our way to an LLMD and now our bodies are being assaulted again by multiple antibiotics, many of which are the strongest antibiotics used in medicine today. Think of this. An organism has a failing immune system and instead of trying to re-establish the immune system to allow the body to heal itself, we throw multiple pharmaceutical agents at it as if they were candy. I feel like you, that my position on this is controversial. It scares me a little even to post it here. There is so much emotional and physical angst related to this illness. There is also a lot of just pure junk science out there related to Lyme disease. And behind it all is this huge roar of anger about how we have been screwed by the medical system, or bodies, and the people who have abandoned us because they don’t believe our symptoms are real. I’m not going to wrap this up by saying I know what the answers are for anyone other than myself. For me, the road to health involves addressing the physical, mental and spiritual aspects of this illness and then creating an environment for the body to heal itself, which is what it’s designed to do. Thanks for taking the risk of bringing up a controversial topic.

kimmiecakeskickslyme

 This post is geared toward those with a Fibromyalgia diagnosis, but might be a good read and please share this information as I feel it could help people find answers and a path to a normal life. 

 

 I know this post is going to offend. Ok maybe REALLY offend. But with the recent great article posted by Envita, I think this topic needs some further dwelling and consideration. But readers, I am blogging with all the good intentions as I want nothing more than you all to get your lives back. Many of you are completely debilitated, and your lives have been destroyed. 

 

I am hoping that you can all read this with an open mind. 

 

This one really hits home to me since I was misdiagnosed with Fibromyalgia and CFS at the age of 21. I was an overachiever and had all the “trigger points”, IBS…

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Gratitude

Yesterday I received a phone call from a dear friend. I had sent her a message on Facebook about the current state of my affairs (chaos). Her unconditional love inspired me. I feel so grateful today for my incredible friends. When things are gloomy I often bemoan the fact that I have lost my original family to death and estrangement. I lose sight of the fact that I have a family of friends who are here to support me in ways that my original family could not.

I moved from California to Oregon in September thinking it was going to make my life better. Instead things got worse, much worse. I would say the last few months of my life have been the darkest. But I have had many dark times throughout my life so it’s difficult to know for sure. Lately I have been plagued with fear and depression and an overall sense of failure. I imagine looking at my life from the outside in and all I see are bad choices. There is chaos all around me, some of it a result of choices, other parts related to life’s circumstances.

Then everything exploded. I found out my 13-year-old son was using drugs. After just a short time here (5 months) it became clear to me that I needed to get the hell out of here. I’ve felt completely isolated here. It’s been raining or snowing for what seems like months now. I’ve felt as if I have been living in solitary confinement. I realized I had underestimated the consequences of moving here. I left behind people who love me and can help me to raise my son. I left behind doctors who knew my situation and were sympathetic to it. I left behind my church.

Out of sheer desperation I sent my son to live with a dear friend who could provide him with the boundaries and structure that he needs right now. My disability company was threatening to cut off my benefits because I wasn’t seeing doctors regularly. The climate in Oregon for Lyme disease treatment is much worse than California. There is a structure here reinforced by universities that Lyme does not exist and does not need to be treated. I could go on and on about the difficulties I’ve experienced here but I won’t.

Soon I will be leaving Oregon to live with the family that is caring for my son in California. In my mind that meant significant defeat. I’ve had to negotiate with my landlord to break my lease. That’s another mark on the side of “I’m a bad person”. I owe the IRS money. I owe money on student loans. I get mail everyday from creditors I can’t pay. There are no money cushions left. No savings, no retirement. No credit cards. I don’t own a home. I don’t have health insurance. My car needs repair and maintenance work. My son appears to be embarking on the same drug filled chaotic path that I myself lived through when I was his age. Everywhere I look there are problems over which I feel I have no control.

But yesterday when my friend called, she didn’t say, “You abandoned your son!” she said, “How can I help?” She said, “I’m so sorry this is happening to you.” She reminded me that I am a talented painter. There was not an ounce of judgment in her tone. After the phone call I felt a bit lighter. What did I do to deserve a friend such as this? If I am such a complete and utter failure, why do I have such incredible loving friends who are always ready to remind me of my goodness?