Sunday Morning Coffee Musing: The Good Daughter

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Growing up both of my parents were pretty healthy parents. I remember an occasional flu or a minor surgery. I can’t say I know what it is like to have to “deal” with an ill parent at a young age. I don’t know for sure how much it affects the child later on in life but, I am certain it makes a world of difference what the illness is and how the parent themselves handles the illness or disease. If the parent is any parent at all, they naturally carry a bit of guilt for being sick.

My daughter is 16 and it was seven years ago when Rheumatoid Arthritis Disease came out of remission and imploded into our lives. She was 9. I pushed on five years after that working, being a mom (because well you can’t stop doing that) and my daughter has always been the most caring and concerned child through this ordeal. And I have tried my best to make sure the unpredictability of RA doesn’t take a toll on her childhood as much as it takes a toll on my body and life.

When RA first resurfaced, we didn’t know what it was. I remember waking up one morning with the Holy Telit across the foot of my bed laid there by my daughter. I remember when I had to have surgery twice, she was ready to do her part. Through my crappy attitude at times and unbearable mood swings, she has learned to either let me know or just stay out the way. I have often, come back to apologize and try to make sure it doesn’t happen too often because I don’t believe you can use your pain as an excuse to be mean to others! But, it does happen unintentionally sometimes. You have to be the type of person that is reflective of self and responsible for your behavior. That takes deep commitment to being the best you, you can be and a whole lot of Jesus, God, Holy Spirit, Creator, etc in my case.

Yesterday, she took care of her mother. It was almost like she was prepared because she knew I had a class where I would have to use my hands and sit for some time. I didn’t ask her to do anything. She just stepped right in. I have to say, I have been blessed with a good daughter. I hope I am being the good mom. I hope I have been the good mom before RA came into our lives.

~Nikki

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RA Blog Week Day 4: TGF Hobbies

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Birthing Autumn by Nicole Jackson 

Are hobbies important? You bet! Especially, when it comes to having an illness or disease that can zap the life and joy right out of you IF you allow it to. I don’t know if my hobbies are hobbies, so to speak. I mean since RA has taken a turn for the worse in my life I would like to think what may be considered as hobbies are really my lifelong passions that have been buried underneath the hustle of life and the bustle of a job. Most of my hobbies center around things I wish I would have done a long time ago or pursued.

Hobbies not only occupy your time, but should expand your mind and it should be something you enjoy. When I tend to my blog, one of my hobbies, I enjoy it. When I thrift and put outfits together, I enjoy it. When I find odds and ends, repaint them or repurpose them, I enjoy it. I get a great deal of satisfaction out of my hobbies. The things I don’t consider hobbies are writing (author), painting, crocheting and sewing. These things are more than hobbies to me. I view them as possible way to establish a new life since I have been left with me the remnants of my old life. Life, before RA. The core of who I am is still there. And to be honest, if RA had never came along and blew my old life out of the water, who knows when these gifts would have been reborn.

~Nikki

 

 

RA BLOG: Just Not Tonight

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Sciatica nerve, joint pain, fibromyalgia and pinky finger falling asleep along the side of hand up to the elbow, makes for a “hades” of a night. I had to get up and get an ice pack for my back. I did get up and I made it to church. There were some hard hitting pains there, too and in RA Warrior fashion I answered “I’m fine.” The pain for me has been on off today but now it seems like I am going to have a fibro and RA flare. They both move around the body. So, as I prepare to wrap up my night and prepare for a bumpy ride, I hope you know that in those nights, midnights, early mornings, you are not alone in your suffering. Some warrior, of some illness is suffering, too. Someone is praying for the subsiding of pain, too. I pray for them, too.-Nikki

RA Blog: What’s For Dinner?

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One of my favorite, simple, and easy things to make for dinner is pizza. We all know cooking with RD (RA) or any other autoimmune disorder can be tough and almost impossible. We want it to be quick, easy, and as healthy as possible. You want it now as well if you have had a prednisone dose (most of us are extremely hungry because of this steroid for pain)!

Well, this may or may not be healthy depending on what you put on it and what type of crust you use. In the one above it’s a veggie pizza. You can buy veggies already chopped or chop your own. You can look in the fridge and just throw whatever veggies you have on the pizza. Think outside the box and take a chance with veggies like carrots and cauliflower. You can buy any type of crust you like or even make your own with cauliflower. I used a flatbread crust for mines. You can choose your sauce and add cheese. The one below is a buffalo chicken pizza topped with bacon. Pizza nights for us are usually on the weekend or it can be whenever you are just not feeling up to cooking a big meal. Add a salad and enjoy.

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When making the buffalo chicken pizza, I bake a boneless chicken breast (season it with Tony’s seasoning), cut it into pieces (slices or chunks, most of the time my daughter does this because of my hands), and let it soak in a buffalo sauce. Any buffalo sauce will do. I let it soak for about 10 minutes and then I toss them onto the pizza. Baking times are usually on your crust package. Once it’s done, I top it with bacon (optional of course) immediately so it can stick to the cheese as much as possible ( I cook the bacon while I am baking the chicken).

~Nikki

Life is In (A Life and RA Blog)

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Whatever or whomever you believe to be your higher power is what sustains you in times of despair. I live a life that is often filled with physical pain, continuous doctor appointments with specialists, an ongoing fight mentally and emotionally to stay grounded, steady, and balanced. Add in your regular and unpredictable life plans. I am sure you have your own battles. So, you know where I am coming from to some degree we can agree that things get hectic.

One scripture that comes to me when life seems to put pressure on me, when the thing I am dealing with at hand attempts to snuff out my life (my joy and happiness, my optimism, my faith), suggest I’d be better off dead, or just weighs me down is this one: “In God I live and move and have my being.” It empowers me. It says, whatever it is that is making you “feel” this way, has no power over you and it is not what sustains you or keeps you alive. It says, “Move in me, with me, within you there I am, giving you this energy and power to LIVE (AND NOT DIE), MOVE (KEEP GOING/PRESSING FORWARD), AND BE (EXIST).

The ability to tap INto your source, God, and connect to something higher than yourself or your higher self (I’m not big on defining God for people as I believe in freedom of choice), in difficult times keeps your feet grounded to the Earth and your head or thoughts aligned with your divine mission. The fact that you have to reconnect or reaffirm, only suggest that you got so caught up in what was going on around you that you had a brief disconnect from Source. You “almost” forgot that God, Source, Divine sustains you. Or perhaps, your connection was weak and had gotten loose by the yanking and moving around of the cares of this world. Your thoughts. It happens sometimes.

I went for a walk today and walks are suppose to be peaceful. Yet, as soon as I stepped out of the car I felt pain in my left hip which I’ve been having trouble with at this young age of 42. My walk was not as fast and then my hands swelled half way. I was agitated and frustrated and please don’t tell me not to be because I think it’s necessary to feel so you can address it. As I thought “I am so sick of this! Sick of it! Sick of it! Sick of it!!!!” I really wanted to yell that out at the park. I kept walking and speaking to walkers and runners, the few that were on the trail. “I just want to give up.” I was walking my normal pace. And by giving up I meant trying to improve my health. “Flush all the pills. And just let RA run it’s course. Why would I get this at 8 years old. Like…for what?” Then, the scripture that caught my attention from the first time I heard it, and that comes to me often “In him, God, I live and move and have my being.” Next thought was “Right. RA has no power over me. It does not determine my destiny or “run” my life. It is not the boss of me. It does not get to take me out without a fight. It is not my life sustainer. I am. God is. I do my part. God does God’s part. I finished my walk.

~Nikki

RA BLOG: Limiting Pity Parties

Pity has a pit that is hard to get out of once you fall into it. If you’re going to dance around it, do so from a distance and make it less than often.-Nicole Jackson

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I can tell you to stop feeling sorry for yourself, never feel sorry for yourself, or that it’s okay to feel sorry for yourself. Either you do or you don’t or you use to. Perhaps you have a different personality and you never felt sorry for yourself. If this is you, then I might suggest you have some compassion, some empathy, or try to understand those that do.

Feeling sorry for yourself can lead you into a pit. There is a difference when it comes to having a pity party…parties must come to an end and the sooner the pity party ends the better. You see, if a person falls into a pit of pity then that is a very dark place. Some never make it out and it turns into a debilitating way of living and approaching life. It’s all about what you use to could do and all about what you can’t do now. It focuses on what RA or an illness or disease has taken away from you and not what you still have left. Or what you can obtain now! It’s all about your problems, never about solutions. It’s about “I can’t before you try” or a “I tried once and I’ll never try again.”

I’ll be honest with you. I’ve had some pity parties way before Rheumatoid Arthritis exploded into my bones. I am sure it was the talking of wise people, encouraging people, that said a combination of “You’ve got to get over this, get over it, feel what you feel, don’t feel, etc.”that lead me to a method that has lessened my pity parties and the time spent in them. The method for me is, depending on what has happened and the depth of it, is: PUT A TIME LIMIT ON IT and start shutting the party down. I can’t tell you not to throw one in the first place, I don’t control how you feel no more than you can control how I feel. But, if you are going to go there, know that you can’t stay at this party too long and no one else wants to stay too long either!  Your party can turn into a PIT! I limit myself to 5 minutes to a few days and then I have to, I must start working my way out, regardless of how I feel. REGARDLESS OF HOW I FEEL.

You work your way out by moving, physically. You work your way out with prayer. You work your way out with telling yourself the TRUTH about yourself (who God says you are) and not who others say you are. You build yourself up and instead of tearing yourself down. This is how you get out of the pit or shut the pit party down. You see a therapist, you see a pastor, you use the skills, you get a self help book, or you surround yourself with a support group. Whatever you have to do, you do it!  (But, it’s hard Nikki…well, don’t let that stop you)

~Nikki

 

 

 

RA BLOG:Hoping to Look Back and Forget

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This is fresh off the press this Saturday evening as I am trying my best to wind down from disturbing news I received in my mailbox. Let’s start with this week has been pretty exhausting. A rollercoaster with more lows than highs and all that has been running through mind is “Please, God, let me off of this thing.” No such luck.

My daughter’s 16th birthday is coming up and I have been stressing over how to make it special for the past few weeks. I am going through the disability process in Tennessee and I have been for the last two years and two months. Before I was diagnosed with RA (diagnosed with JRA as a child), I was a working single parent. I promised my daughter to take her to California when she turned 16 as it’s somewhere she had always wanted to go. Well, we know that is not possible during this time. So, we planned to go somewhere closer and with the help of my brother to drive. I can’t tell you the amount of stress, struggle and strain it has been to gather finances from all over the place. To beg and borrow it seems to make this happen. I received terrible news from the school that my daughter had been placed in Algebra II instead of Algebra I and they are just now discovering this! She’s in a honors program. No wonder my poor child had been struggling! And I had been so hard on her. I was livid! Today, I opened up the mailbox to find she would not be allowed to continue in the program because of her GPA. I was outdone. She will have to take summer school class for Algebra I because she must have it. But, how unfair for them as Algebra II is the main cause of her GPA drop. I sent an email to the principal and hope they can see their error and what it has cost my daughter.

Today, I feel my depression in the shadows. I have done the best to keep it at bay. I cannot tell her this right now as she is so happy about taking a trip in a week or so for spring break to celebrate her 16th birthday. She will be crushed and I do not want her spirits crushed. My daughter is very smart and bright. And today…with RA, financial stress, and worried about my daughter’s future, checking the mailbox daily waiting on a word for a day in court about my case, it all just seems to be weighing on me. It’s a bit too much and I just hope someday I can look back and forget the last two years of this hell.

~Nikki