Blogging 201: Set Three Goals

As a relatively new blogger, when I discovered that WordPress would be offering the online course, Blogging 201, I knew I wanted to participate.

I am excited about participating in this course and hope that it will teach me some of the more detailed aspects of blogging that I may not yet be aware of, which will in turn enable me to help my blog evolve.

The course started yesterday and the first assignment was to set three goals.  My goals are simple.

  1. Publish at least one new post per week. Ideally, I would like to post two or more but I wanted to be realistic, given the fact that I am always juggling a busy work schedule, errands, doctor appointments, and chronic illness related pain and fatigue.
  2. Double my blog subscribers/followers by the end of 2014. Without counting my Twitter followers, I only have 24 so my year-end goal will be 48.
  3. Read and comment on at least one other blog post per day. I often do this already, but I wanted to include it in my goals to ensure that I follow-through with it.  Doing this will help build my network with other bloggers while reading material that I enjoy and supporting other bloggers in the process.

Feel free to leave your comments, suggestions, or other recommended goals for my consideration during this learning process.  🙂

Our last family cruise vacation was in 2012. Only 1 month after my last surgery for Endometriosis. It was our 3rd cruise. A whole week on the open sea, with my husband and my parents, visiting some of the most beautiful parts of the world I’ve ever seen.

We booked another cruise the following year, on the largest, most amazing ship so far, but had to cancel due to my hubby’s chronic pain and the mounting medical bills that come with both of our invisible illnesses. That was a heart-breaking choice but one that we had to make.

Our family cruises have been, by far, the best days of my life. I hope and pray that we will be able to cruise again. Having those moments to look forward to are so very important when your lives are filled with the challenges of chronic illness and to anyone for that matter.

I have to believe we will cruise again. I don’t know when and I don’t know how, but until we do I will be cherishing the memories of the amazing times we had. ❤

The Travel Voice by Becky

It is no secret that this travel journalist is a fan of cruising. Sometimes it is just me and the hubby, while other times it may be the whole family…either way, it is always the cornerstone for great memories and fantastic value!

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Everyone always asks why I love cruising so much, so I compiled a list of the five top reasons why I love to cruise. Sure, there are more, but these characteristics are always common across all fleets.

  1. Value. Cruises offer an all-inclusive vacation adventure with lots of bang for the buck, especially if you cruise during the times of the year when kids are in school. Prices are higher during summer months and holiday seasons when children are on school break, so if you can make it any other time, you are likely to find a BARGAIN! Cruise prices include everything you need to have a great vacation…good food with lots of choices, activities…

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Well, so far, this week’s score is 2:1 and Endometriosis is in the lead.

Yesterday I had the worst flare-up that I have had in years.  I woke up in horrible pain, so I sent an e-mail to work letting them know that I would be a couple of hours late.

I took my meds, sat on the couch, drinking coffee and smoking cigarettes, waiting for the meds to kick in.  As far as I could tell, they never did.

The pain continued to get worse, so I sent another e-mail telling my co-workers what was going on and that I would try to work the 2nd half of the day.  This was very troubling to me, as my boss likes to take spur of the moment road trips and had hit the road the day before so I knew that he would not be in the office.  For that reason, I had planned on going to work no matter what, but this situation was out of my control.  I could hardly walk or even move without moaning in pain, let alone drive and function at my workplace.

Luckily I had my laptop with me and let everyone know that I could perform any essential functions from home, if anything urgent came up.

Within the hour things got even worse.  Continue reading

A Blessing and a Curse

Sometimes God works in mysterious ways.  Over the weekend, my parents delivered an entire week (or more) worth of food; prepared, cooked, and ready to heat and eat.

Here is a photo of our feast, which includes chicken, meatloaf, vegetable soup, lasagna, breadsticks, beef noodle casserole, beans, organic salad, and more.  YUM!  Needless to say, I have been eating a lot more than usual this week, trying to replenish some of the nutrients that my usual poor eating eating habits have robbed me of.

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As I have mentioned before, I often follow an anti-inflammatory meat, dairy, and gluten free diet.  However, this week I will be treating myself to what whatever I want to eat.  Honestly, I haven’t been sticking to my diet in quite a while.  I think it’s OK to stray from the diet sometimes and if someone else is preparing a meal or we are eating out at a restaurant, I typically indulge on whatever I like.

I think my parents worry about Billy and I not eating enough, which is a reasonable worry considering the fact that I’ve lost 35 pounds since my chronic pain became constant.

They also know that both Billy and I battle with such severe pain and fatigue that, during an acute flare-up, simple tasks like cooking can quickly become impossible.  Continue reading

Trigeminal Neuralgia Awareness Day

October 7, 2014 is Trigeminal Neuralgia Awareness Day.

I have been suffering from severe and constant facial pain for approximately 3 years.  It has been diagnosed as many things, one of which is Trigeminal Neuralgia.  Because I have received so many different diagnoses for this pain, and have one Neurologist who changed his diagnosis after several months of treatment, I am somewhat uncertain as to what I really have or who I should believe.  I usually say that I have a chronic facial pain syndrome, but most likely what I have is Atypical Trigeminal Neuralgia, which is sometimes called Type 2 Trigeminal Neuralgia (TN2) or ATN.

Since today is Trigeminal Neuralgia Awareness Day, I wanted to share some facts about this life altering condition.

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The following information is from the National Institute of Neurological Disorders and Stroke (http://www.ninds.nih.gov).

What is trigeminal neuralgia?

Trigeminal neuralgia (TN), also called tic douloureux, is a chronic pain condition that affects the trigeminal or 5th cranial nerve, one of the most widely distributed nerves in the head. TN is a form of neuropathic pain (pain associated with nerve injury or nerve lesion.) The typical or “classic” form of the disorder (called “Type 1” or TN1) causes extreme, sporadic, sudden burning or shock-like facial pain that lasts anywhere from a few seconds to as long as two minutes per episode.  These attacks can occur in quick succession, in volleys lasting as long as two hours.  The “atypical” form of the disorder (called “Type 2” or TN2), is characterized by constant aching, burning, stabbing pain of somewhat lower intensity than Type 1.  Both forms of pain may occur in the same person, sometimes at the same time. The intensity of pain can be physically and mentally incapacitating.

The trigeminal nerve is one of 12 pairs of nerves that are attached to the brain. The nerve has three branches that conduct sensations from the upper, middle, and lower portions of the face, as well as the oral cavity, to the brain. The ophthalmic, or upper, branch supplies sensation to most of the scalp, forehead, and front of the head. The maxillary, or middle, branch stimulates the cheek, upper jaw, top lip, teeth and gums, and to the side of the nose. The mandibular, or lower, branch supplies nerves to the lower jaw, teeth and gums, and bottom lip. More than one nerve branch can be affected by the disorder. Rarely, both sides of the face may be affected at different times in an individual, or even more rarely at the same time (called bilateral TN). Continue reading

TRYING to Quit Smoking (again)

Yes, once again I am going to attempt to quit smoking. I have done it before and managed not to smoke for two years, before I caved under the stress of chronic illness and pain. Given my current level (off the charts) of pain, stress, anxiety, and depression, this is far from an ideal time to quit but my reasoning is financial rather than health related so I have to give it my best shot.

I happened to run across some deeply discounted nicotine patches at a local outlet store. They are expired and “step 3” which has the lowest level of nicotine available in the patch form, but they were only $3.99, so considering the normal price of patches ($30-$50), this deal was too good to pass up.  Continue reading

Pain Scale

Everyone has likely been exposed to the pain scale at some point in their life.  You know, the scale from one to ten, that you are supposed to use to explain your pain level to medical professionals.

For those who live with chronic pain, we quickly become VERY familiar with this scale.  We see it in hospitals, in doctor’s offices, and those in pain management see and use it on a very regular basis.

The pain scale is important because it is how we explain the severity of our pain to doctors and nurses and hopefully, if used correctly, it helps to guide them in determining appropriate treatment options.

The problem with the pain scale is that there are many different versions and the scale in and of itself is very subjective.  What one patient might rate as a 6, another might rate as a 3.  That is because most people don’t really have a good understanding of what each level means.  Continue reading