Disability and Reality Head on Collisions

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If you have been following my blog, then you know I am real, honest, and sometimes raw about what I think and how I feel. I am not here for the shock value, I am here because I love people that are honest about their thoughts, feelings, etc. Honest, not rude or mean or nasty. Just the plain old truth. So let’s dive in.

I hate being disabled, but I am grateful that I won my case. I hated my last job, but I was grateful that I had one and it could provide some income. I wasn’t making much and that job was killing me on every level. Yesterday early in the evening I thought I was having some sort of breakdown. I was going down slowly and then boom! I was falling down a dark hole that seem to never end. I reached out for help to a friend that wasn’t available. I reached out to a professional associate, she answered and provided a rope to pull me back to ground. I realized AGAIN yesterday, just how being disabled can restrict, constrict, and confine you financially. It can halt your endeavors. It makes me angry. It makes me sad. It makes me fell worthless. It makes me irrational. It brings up things from the past and shoves them in your face. Sometimes, down your throat. I felt like I could not breathe yesterday. It was anxiety mounting up to a panic attack. And depression was hovering around like a drone.

Before this episode, I had an encounter with a relative. Then I discovered just how limited I was  because of my disability with an endeavor I was trying to start up with a friend. And there came these waves of tears in my eyes that I fought back. By the time I talked to my professional associate, I told her 1st of all, I am crying. Secondly, I am ashamed that I am crying. Crying in my childhood was often made fun of or pointed out by my mother. “She’s so sensitive. She will cry if you look at her.” I thought something was wrong with crying. I also didn’t think it was funny. So crying to me can sometimes bring up a need to apologize for crying. In essence, apologize for being sensitive and weak (according to society, some friends, and in relationships). I do know a good cry is cleansing.

Rules and regulations for disability are necessary. They keep most people from getting over on the system. However, for those of us that wish to do things to help ourselves, it’s often a challenge to figure out exactly what we can do. It’s also a shock sometimes to find out you can’t do certain things and therefore you can’t reap the benefits or joys of those things.

This morning my ground is shaky. But, I am still here. I am still fighting and coping with my thoughts and emotions. This is REAL life. This is a MOMENT that I have to work through. I am fragile in this state and I know I have to protect my mind.

“Weeping may endure for a night, but joy does come in the morning,” -Bible

I am really ready for morning.

~Nikki

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Friday Jr and The WKND Weekend

 

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Well, I had such a busy weekend I am just now getting a chance to sit down and blog about it. It was Thursday, also known to many as Friday Jr. (smile), that I got up the nerve to show up at a Memphis Bloggers Exchange Happy Hour. It was sponsored by the Nashville Bloggers Exchange. The place we met up at is new to Memphis. It’s NOT a club, but a place where you come to hang out, have great drinks, great conversations, good food, relax and unwind with friends or you can fly solo. Service was top notch from our entrance to our exit.

First, let me tell you when I walked I was nervous. Why? Well, if you have followed my blog for a while you know I have been through a rough few years. I was worried about meeting new people. Something that use to not bother me as much before Rheumatoid Arthritis came out of remission and brought fibromyalgia, osteoarthritis, and diabetes with it. Long story short, it changed the game as far as friendships, my social life, and the how I deal with people all together. Well, after walking into therapy with anxiety on level 8, giving myself all the reasons I should not go, I left with anxiety on 2 and all of the reasons I should go. I am so glad I did! I made so many great connections and diversified connections at that. These are just a few of the bloggers, writers, vloggers and photographers that were at the event. These wonderful group of ladies and more are right here in my city and now we are connected via social media.

We were invited to not only meet up, but to take photos, blog about our experience at this new hot spot in our city. We were able to try their entire menu! And everything was delicious! The cocktails were worth the money and I say that because if you are going to pay $10-$15 or more for a cocktail, you want your money’s worth. Tiger’s Blood Cocktail is what you see pictured above. I liked it so much I had two!

We were able to explore the venue and take pictures. You can reserve the booths we are in and they have several packages to chose from. They are also now serving brunch on Sundays! I love a good brunch! The patio was my favorite. It was very chilly that night, but the fire kept us warm as many of took advantage of photo ops. We were snapping it up and especially with a photographer on hand we got some great shots of our selves!

This was definitely a busy evening. I left there and drove across town to meet another group of ladies and we had karaoke, food, and wine. You know that had to be filled with laughter and great meet and greet. It was all positive vibes.

As the weekend rolled around, Friday I was invited to a movie. Saturday I purchased a small bookshelf from Facebook Market. I drove downtown to get it. I stopped by the Mississippi River to finish up my coffee from Starbucks and then off to ACE Hardware for paint. This was going to be an easy, less than 30 minute project.

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I painted the faux cherry wood bookshelf a dark espresso color that matches my new furniture in my room. It was the perfect size.

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And for the finale, Saturday night was epic and crazy fun. I went to a tribute for Bob Marley performed by some amazing reggae, funk, soul bands from my city, Memphis. It was a friend’s birthday week and I invited her to get out and enjoy herself. We met up with two others and it was so much fun. Too much fun lol! We ended up at iHop and I haven’t been there in about 15 years. I made it home safely and Sunday I slept in. I was home all day recovering from a very long week as I was at the hospital every morning with my dad and then coming home to do my own personal business and parent. Add the weekend to that and you have a run down chic! I was feeling the pre-pain before the big earthquake that landed Monday evening. Serious pain and mental drain. I have a heel spur I think from walking the long walk daily last week to and from my dad’s hospital room and serious back and hip pain radiating to the thigh. I know for sure my back and shoulder is a fibromyalgia flare. Nevertheless, I wouldn’t trade that wild and crazy weekend for anything and it brings me great joy to be there in the mornings for my dad to help or keep him company until he can home.

~Nikki

Simple but Delicious Slow Cooker Pot Roast

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This is a simple slow cooker pot roast recipe. You know me! When it comes to cooking most of the time I love a quick recipe so that I can get on with my evening or day.

  • About a 3lb beef roast (or your choice)
  • 2 cups of beef or chicken broth. That’s correct. You can use chicken broth as a sub!
  • Seasonings can be as simple as salt and pepper or your choice of seasonings. Just remember to over season your roast a bit because you’ll sear it and then it has to go into liquid so you’ll lose a little seasoning. My seasonings were: Weber’s steak and Chop (heavily) and then Garlic Salt, Black pepper, crushed Basil leaves (lightly)
  • 2 tablespoons of olive oil (or whatever oil you use)
  • 1 small onion or onion flakes (my daughter hates onions 😢) You can chop half or all…up to you or skip it
  • 1 can of cream of celery or mushroom
  • Celery flakes (optional)

1. Season your roast. I pierce my roast with a fork or if you have a meat cleaver use that as it is the proper tool. But, I like using a fork because I can pierce deep. You don’t have to do this at all.

2. In a large skillet add the olive oil and turn to medium high. Once it’s hot place the pot roast in and sear each side really good. About 4 minutes each side Remove pan and let the roast sit as you prepare the slow cooker.

2. Add 2 cups of broth, onions or a cap full of onion flakes (about half a teaspoon & they will become soft), sprinkle basil and pepper into the mix and turn slow cooker to high (5-6 hours) or low (8-10 hours).

3. Add roast. Take a spoon and put some of the broth on top. Let it cook for the time above but see next step!

4. One or two hours before your roast is done, mix one can of cream of mushroom/celery with half a cup of water. I added celery seeds. About half a teaspoon. Mix well and pour into the broth. Mix in. Take a spoon and pour some of that mix in the slow cooker on top of your roast. Let it finish cooking.

4. You’re done!

I like to make this when I have leftover vegetables from another meal I can add as sides or if I don’t have potatoes, cartots, celery. Also, I may simply want roast with mash potatoes or rice. Either way this is simple! And as my mom would say, “Add something green (a green vegetable) to your plate!”

 

Isn’t she a beauty?! But more importantly it’s DELICIOUS!

~Nikki

Vegas and RA: The Good, The Bad, The Really Bad and Ugly

I have shared with you my wonderful and brief trip in Vegas. The shopping, the entertainment, tourism, my fashion, and family fun. I know it seems so glamourous or maybe not lol! But, anyone can take a trip and it has nothing to do with having a luxurious job, which I don’t have. But, it has everything to do with finding the best deals and planning way, way, ahead. Remember, you can do whatever you set your mind to.

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Speaking of planning, when you have certain physical illnesses and diseases, limitations, etc. you have to learn to plan ahead as much as possible. We who have Rheumatoid Disease, Fibromyalgia, and other illnesses understand our dis-ease can be UNPREDICTABLE. So, this is where experience comes in, Google, and planning ahead as best you can.

  • I forgot my cute and much needed hot/cold reusable water packs. I have a small and a large one I usually take with me. You can find them at TJMaxx or on Amazon.
  • So, that was out! In Vegas there is WALKING, WALKING, WALKING, AND MORE WALKING! However, it is easily accessible for those with wheelchairs if you have one. So, don’t let that deter you from Vegas or anywhere else on this planet. I had my best pair of sneakers. This is not the time to break in a new pair. Go with a sure thing.
  • Pain meds ahead of time if possible. All meds on time. However, if I know I am going to have more than one drink, I will skip my meds. I am just being honest with you. You, however, follow your doctors orders. I’m not that big of a drinker meaning I can have it or not and still have a great time. I am allowed, per my doctor, a glass of wine per day if I want it. It’s not that serious for me.
  • Comfy house shoes with memory foam or something that is plush
  • Pain cream or gel
  • Foldable Flats and a purse that will fit them
  • Epsom Salt

Now, here is where it gets bad and ugly. I love heels and I can still wear them, but not the really high ones I use to wear. I blogged about that journey and halidux rigidus surgery a few years ago. I made the choice and sacrifice to wear some really cute heels to a club to see a celeb DJ. The walk there was fine. The dancing the night away was fine, but when I stopped I knew I was in trouble. The walk back was TORTUROUS. I can’t begin to describe to you the pain I felt. I knew I was going to have more than one drink so I skipped my meds. I had to rely on other methods and time to relieve my incredible pain.

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You are not suppose to walk through the hotel or casino with your shoes off. By the time my cousin and I got close to our rooms, we took off our shoes and sighed the biggest relief! Trust me! The picture below is how we felt after those “contraptions” called heels came off!

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But it did not stop there for me. I was swollen from the feet up to the knees. My feet were as red as fire and the neuropathy felt like shocks and this set off the fibromyalgia. I thought to myself, “WTH! I wasn’t expecting it to be THIS BAD!” But like I mentioned to you before, this disease is very unpredictable. I did not feel my bones hurting, but I figure they would be tomorrow. I could hardly walk on my feet and I had my plush house shoes with me. They only helped a little this time because the reaction was UNPREDICTABLE! I applied the pain cream and NOTHING! NO RELIEF!

 

 

I was like OMG and then I was like Dear God, please let this ease up. I tried to sleep and I could not. Below is a picture of the next evening (note I did well all the next day with my sneakers on), when we were going out again but decided on a fancy dinner instead. This is the results with flat shoes which is what they looked liked the night I took off my heels. I was in so much pain and discomfort that night I wasn’t thinking about anymore photos lol! But no lol! The only difference is the pain was minimum but the swelling was MAX. And the crazy thing is, I wasn’t in these shoes but a couple of hours. My feet were like, “No ma’am! Not again!”

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So, what did I do the night I had on heels and the pain was off the charts. I GOOGLED what to naturally do to ease neuropathy, fibromyalgia, RA. I read until I found something I could do. And here is what I will always want in a hotel from here on out. A good CLEAN (I am so OCD about bathrooms and what they look like) tub I can soak in AND once I get to my destination buy some Epsom Salt! This is my new thing to do or find a small pack if I am flying, to bring with me. Add that to the list. Thank GOD the Luxor Hotel in Vegas had a soakers tub! I filled it up with hot water, grabbed my phone and started a guided meditation session on chronic pain with my Inside Timer App, and soaked for about 20 minutes. I felt 50% better. If I would have had some Epsom Salt, I would probably have been at 75%. I was able to feel the difference and fall asleep.

The meditation app helped because I was in BIG pain and feeling so anxious, defeated, a bit jilted, and was slipping into a “Wish I never had this stupid disease rant” and I miss my old self. The meditation helped bring my emotions down and helped clear my mind and bring focus. Here I was finding the best solution to my problem at the moment.

I wish I could tell you that I won’t do that again. But, I don’t want to lie to you. Vegas is my YOLO ZEN place and it’s only once a year. I don’t how long I will be able to travel because of RA and it’s complications. I can tell you that I will bring a purse big enough for my foldable flats!!! I didn’t think I would need them because where we were going was close to the hotel. I did not factor in how much dancing I would be doing. Oh well, you live, you learn , you survive another day.

I had other pain in Vegas because of the walking. It’s like I said, this is not something I do every day and it’s expected when I travel. In the RA group many had to stop traveling or keep it to a minimum. I think I am midway at 43 with traveling. I have a few places I would like to see and hope I don’t ever have to give traveling up completely.

~Nikki

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Weekend Confetti!

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WOW! What a weekend! I met one of my favorite, most influential authors of all time and got the last book of a series signed. I met Kimberla Lawson Roby! It was her book Casting the First Stone that led me to believe it was possible to be a Christian and still write novels with a spiritual undertone. My novels may be a bit more unconventional as far as most Christians would think, but I am not really concerned about that! I have my own path to take. Anyway, I was over the moon and treasure the book and the moment. My daughter was there to help me stand in a very long line. Some day I’ll be signing books!

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I also went out for cocktails and small plates with…brace yourself, my daughter’s father mother….and his wife. Yep. You read that right. As a single parent, the road has not always been easy and neither are the relationships involved with raising my daughter. Some of our thoughts, actions, and ways are different and well that makes for conflicts of interests. It was extremely rough starting out, but we try to get along and sitting down with all of together was a miracle within itself. Conversation, cocktails, and food made it a pleasant outing.

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Oh, yeah. I got a new hairstyle! Lol! I think it may last for a few weeks. Natural hair can be a challenge. Especially, for someone like me who has Rheumatoid Disease and Fibromyalgia. Which took a toll on me by the time Sunday rolled around. I felt so bad, but I am grateful for the two days, Friday and Saturday, in which I had little discomfort. Sunday was very difficult and I am feeling better on today. I hope you enjoyed your weekend, too!

~Nikki

Keep Out. Only God & the Experienced Allowed.

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It’s down right ugly the mood I am in. This war in my head and heart after my second hearing this year only to have the judge subpoena more records and a test to prove worsening conditions. I thought we had what he wanted. I thought we had enough. My anxiety was already through the roof and I’d had a panic attack before I even arrived this morning. I thought it was going to be over today. Needless to say, I bolted out of there and cried like I needed to in the car. I am so very tired. Over three years of struggling to survive and to stay sane.

I trusted God as I have throughout this process. It seems as if we were nearing the end. I feel like the rug was pulled away from under me. I feel heavily disappointed. Angry. Pissed. Exhausted. But, not defeated. I feel as I want to pull away from the rest of the world and at the same time I wish someone would console me. But, I don’t want them to see me crying. You know, crying in this world is a sign of weakness to most (NOT ME) and it makes people uncomfortable (NOT ME). In my not so humble but, honest opinion the only reason people feel that way is because they feel weak themselves when they cry and the are in fact uncomfortable with their own feelings.

So, here I am. Weary. Wounded and Sad. But unwilling to stop trusting God for a favorable outcome. I am confused. I don’t know why all of this has happened to me or is happening. I do know I did nothing wrong. It was not because of sin (rolls eyes). It just is a part of my journey. My story. So, as I try to figure out how to keep the lights on, pay for a cavity fill in my insurance doesn’t cover, pay my rent, pay other bills, and STILL be pleasant to others, I have to feel what I am feeling. I have to go through the thicket that has thorns. I remember the sticker bush at parents house and getting knocked into it playing or trying to hide and having to squeeze through it and another bush. No matter how you tried to get around or through it you were scratched up. There is just no way around pain sometimes. Only through it.

~Nikki