Monday, July 28, 2014


Dear friends who read my blog,

As part of my health care and my fight for disability I have started seeing a new specialist. CFIDS specialists are rare finds. When I was younger I had a doctor at Johns Hopkins. He is one of the leading researchers in the country and keeps remarkably busy trying to balance his research schedule with his treatment of patients. Since I stopped seeing him for a long period of time, I would be a new patient if I went back and he is not currently accepting new patients. As a result, I had to go on quite an adventure to find a new doctor.

I saw her yesterday. This is the text I sent out to update a few people on how it went:

"For starters I've officially been re-diagnosed with CFIDS (fucking duh). Every time I get a new doc that happens. So, it has been confirmed again. Still got it. (Conveniently I woke up looking and feeling like hell today: puffy black eye looking bags under my eyes, non-stop sniffling & stuffiness, and my left arm can't hold anything. It's like my body knew what was happening today and wanted to make sure I couldn't pass as healthy.)

The doctor is very kind. She certainly will be a good advocate for me with the disability fight. She ordered two tests that should help prove my case: one proves that I have that heart/fainting thing, one to disprove that I have MS. She took bloodwork, 7 vials. Mostly we discussed my history and what life has been like for me, health wise. I completed a few record release forms so she can get info from my other docs to finish putting together a comprehensive picture of my medical life. After the bloodwork comes in she may add a new medication to my cocktail. We will discuss where to go from here on August 11 after she returns from vacation and sees my bloodwork. She will try to accommodate my living in Virginia and do as much as possible over the phone.

It was crazy being in her clinic. It was a maze of junky rooms and files upon files. Over the 2 hours I was there at least 10 other patients, all women, were in and out getting blood drawn or getting some kind of IV treatment. I want IV treatment. I've never seen so many CFIDS patients. There's a whole community here. In NoVa there's a "support group" via email. And that unscrupulous doctor who doesn't take insurance and charges $800 per visit.

She had signs up for clinical trials and studies. I filled out some paperwork for one that wasn't advertised, but it was studying the cells and genetic make up of us patients. (They pay healthy people $100 to donate their blood for comparison.)"

So that's the latest update. Hopefully this is the beginning of some positivity and changes for the better. 

Wednesday, July 23, 2014

Catch My Pain: Making My Invisible Illness Visible

I have this amazing app on my phone. It's called "Catch My Pain" and it does exactly what it sounds like. It allows me to track my pain very easily. I shade the areas of my body that hurt with a range of colors, the darker the red the more pain, yellow is little pain. It lets me write notes about my pain or body during that time and it has a checklist of what type of pain I'm experiencing.
It's a free app, but you can buy an extra feature that allows you to give a range of emotion, stress, and fatigue. I just make those notations in the "notes" section rather than paying for it. This app also allows you to list all your medications and when you take them. You can set alarms for taking any or all of the medications. And best of all, you can send yourself a printable collection of the whole thing to take to doctors. Or you can just email your info to anyone you want. It's amazing. 
So I took a bunch of screen shots and decided to share them here. It's basically one week's worth of entries. I like this concept in that it will allow my invisible illness to become visible in a way. But, this is only one aspect of my invisible illness. So keep that in mind, this is just a glimpse into the invisible part of my life.
Also, you'll see a LOT of different areas with pain. Some is caused by TOS. Some is caused by CFIDS. And some is caused by CRPS. If for some reason you find it interesting to know which is which, feel free to ask.   









Monday, July 14, 2014

What Does an Invisible Illness Look Like?

Whether it's a day when I look "normal" or a day when I have luggage-sized bags under my eyes or a day when I cake on the makeup to be presentable...
All of those days, I am what a person with an invisible illness looks like. 

Tired smile & too much eye make-up, trying to hide behind it. 
Forever tired eyes....

^do a couple of hours of yardwork and this is what happens. Everytime. That's what I get for trying to, ya know, do shit. The under eye bags look like black eyes.

Chronic illness cat tells my story for me, so I don't have to type as much. It's quite convenient. So here's another tidbit of my life courtesy of CIC and photo-blogging.
The struggle is real.

Okay, that's all for now. I like the photo-storytelling. It's very convenient. I know words can be powerful to share my story, but they do say a picture is worth a thousand words so I guess I just said a lot more than normal. How many pictures did I put in? Okay multiple that by 1,000.

So to recap, stop judging books by their cover and people by their outsides.