Sundog –noun 1. parhelion. 2. a small or incomplete rainbow.

Posts tagged “ptsd

Countdown

Almost a year has passed since my last post here, yet I am disappointed with my lack of posting at the second blog site Jeremy and I teamed up for. In truth, though he is a great partner for many things, blog writing is not one of them. This sapped my enthusiasm for writing and over the months turned into more silence than anything. In that time, much has happened, but what brings me back here today is this blog itself. Several weeks ago I began to reread my old posts here and appreciate once more how much Sundog Tales has always meant to me. I’ve shared so much of my journey, it’s only fitting that I come back here in these final months before I begin to attend Colorado State University in August.

Where does one begin? Perhaps there is no need for a beginning, for you already know me so well. A quick catch-up then.

In short, life in Colorado has been filled with many ups and downs, as any life is – healthy or chronically ill, and I’ve been undergoing tremendous growth to overcome these challenges. I’ve had the excitement of applying for and being accepted to CSU for the fall semester. This in turn kicked off a world of doubts and fears about my capabilities to return to school, being productive once more, and in some ways more importantly – to feel successful while doing it.

All those years living in a tent, day dreaming of being healthy again, working or going back to school – the reality is both much more fantastic and also more difficult that I had imagined. Somehow in each of my daydreams, the me I would become when well was the same me I had been before becoming sick. Other than knowing I was mentally a lot stronger and physically a lot weaker now, in my mind’s eye I was still the same 24 year old woman I used to be.

Boy was I wrong!

I am vastly different than who I had been. Though the tent felt like time was suspended within it’s walls, it was in fact not a time machine at all, waiting to deposit the old me 13 years in the future the same as I’d been before, but instead a device slowly molding me into a more mature and motivated person.

This is ever so obvious when I attend functions at CSU, surrounded by undergrads who are often half my age with problems I no longer identify with, such as which party to go to or who is dating whom. Worse yet are the functions for incoming freshmen and transfer students. The freshmen are often accompanied by parents who are the only ones asking questions, a glazed look on the kid’s faces, and everyone wondering where the dorms are. These are not problems in my world. My world is about paying rent, walking the dog, spending time with Jeremy, and otherwise devoting myself to my studies.

No, the me of 2001 who would have been only a bit older than these kids is as surely gone in the past as VHS tapes and a world without cell phones.

This morning I was writing an essay for a scholarship (something else past me had never done) and one of the questions was on how have I grown as a leader through my leadership activities. Well, as someone who was bedbound much of the last decade of my life, let me tell you – there wasn’t much call for leadership activities. Then I woke this morning with the thought on my mind, this right here is a leadership activity. I have reached lives I have never known, inspired people with my words to be more than they were before reading my stories, and that to me is a leader.

It reminded me of how much this blog and all my readers have meant to me over the years and I realized that at one of the greatest points in the story – I left. I went elsewhere and was hardly there too. It’s time I remedy this and finish this story, you all deserve nothing less.

So pull up a chair and settle in, because there will be more blog posts to come over the next few months as we count down to the first day of school – August 25, 2014.


New home for Tashi. :(

I’ve been down and out of life for the last couple of months, mostly because Tashi has been waking us up multiple times a night since mid-February. She’s a wonderful cat in all other ways, but sadly she has trouble with being afraid of things in our home environment which we have zero control over.

The main trigger for her nightly wake-ups seems to be our neighbor’s voice coming in through our windows at all hours of the night. I don’t blame the neighbor, she works until midnight and we knew that before moving in. Everything is at a normal speaking volume, she’s just awake much of the night. We’ve worked far too many lousy jobs that require that sort of shift to complain about someone else who’s working that shift and simply unwinding at night by chatting with their boyfriend.

And so we’ve found Tashi a new home. It’s a good home and she will be moving there at the end of this week. There are 3 other cats and a dog, along with some nice folks. A much bigger home, more windows for her, and most importantly – neighbors who’s windows are much further than 5 feet away.

I’ll be very sorry to see her go. I haven’t posted much about her here, but she’s been a real highlight in our lives these last 6 months. Were it not for this constant lack of sleep and what it’s done to our health (a full stop on our healing progress for CFS and some regression), it would be a great joy to keep her with us.

However it seems to have come down to staying tired and feeling useless in life or keeping a wonderful cat – oddly it was a hard choice. But then being tired and feeling useless is actually what most of life felt like since becoming ill in 2001 – it’s only recently begun to change at the end of last year so I’m not as familiar with what that feels like anymore.

What I do remember of December (2012) and January (2013) was a great deal of delight in feeling my energy coming up, actually being able to see and feel life returning to a more normal picture, and being happy that my existence isn’t dictated solely by feelings of Chronic Fatigue Syndrome and Multiple Chemical Sensitives. Thankfully, I’m still seeing MCS improvements, even just yesterday going into a store (Costco) that we had to avoid in the past like the plague due to all the odors and such. Now it was just as I remembered it from when I went as a kid with my mom on shopping day – everything smelled just the same, not overwhelming or frightening. Life with MCS really is coming to a close and it’s both a brilliant and wonderful thing.

I know this can happen with CFS too and unfortunately its all too clear that right now that means as best of sleep as we can manage so our nervous systems can calm down instead of being jarred awake several times a night. Truly, Tashi is going to a great home with one of the worker’s at the cat sanctuary we adopted her from – actually the woman who helped us pick her out. The woman had always wanted Tashi, seemed a little sad to see her go, but had not wanted to make the commitment before. She’s had a change of mind now that she’s seen just how wonderful and loving Tashi is as a house cat – they’ll do well together I think.

Hopefully in a few weeks time Jeremy and I will be seeing more energy again. Neither of us can hardly wait for the adventures on our horizon and have lots of motivation to make them happen. Brighter days should be coming our way, even if they are a little more lonely without my dear Tashi.


Nude Beach

Have you ever been to a nude beach? I went to my first one today!

Little Beach, Maui – Hawaii

Little Beach is part of the Makena State Park and known for being clothing optional, as well as it’s Sunday night drum parties. It’s a very nice little cove at the end of a quarter mile hike. The snorkeling wasn’t spectacular, however we saw some fish we’ve never seen before – including a small school of fish probably each the size of a large dog. As well, several sea turtles made the whole trip very worthwhile.

Yet, we didn’t go to Little Beach for the snorkeling – we went for the whales. Humpback whales migrate here each winter from December through April. According to my research, Little Beach would be just about the best place from shore to watch them passing by. Shortly after we arrived we were greeted with an amazing site. Two adult humpback whales only a few hundred feet off the shore, swimming along and doing their own thing. Though we didn’t see much more than their back spines each time they came to the surface, it was a fantastic site that brought tears to my eyes.

I mean, how fantastic is it to have seen something like that so close in the wild?

I wasn’t on a boat with dozens of other tourists or some other modern means to be out on the water with them. No, I was just standing on the shore of a beach I’d hiked out to and seeing them as I am, a human on land, and as they are, majestic beauty in the ocean. Absolutely one of the most amazing things I’ve seen in my life.

This isn’t the first time I’ve seen whales, not even here on Maui – just something about them being so close I felt like I could nearly touch them… wonderful.

Have you ever wondered what whale songs are like in the wild?

Sometimes when you snorkel here during the winter you can hear them signing to each other underwater. This is the second time I’ve been lucky to hear them. Today they were loud enough to be easily heard, even over the white noise of the choppy waves we were snorkeling in. It was very magical, especially the times when we’d find a turtle to swim with. Whales whistling and calling to one another, following a sea turtle as it wandered the reef, scores of brightly colored fish swimming below us – I’ll always remember this.

I found myself at one point being struck by how diametrically different my life is now compared to March in Washington while living in a tent. Almost every year the last snow of the season would be sometime in the next two weeks. We’d be completely and totally exhausted from surviving another freezing and snowy winter only to look forward to a ridiculous amount of rain for the next two months, praying this summer would be warm and sunny. Often times it would be a wet summer too with nary a good, hot day to burn off winter’s chill before turning into Autumn and starting the cycle all over.

Instead, here I was snorkeling nude in the ocean, warm sunshine on my backside, while swimming with whales and turtles!

If life can change so dramatically for me in such a short period of time, just think of what else I can do. I am getting healthy again, there is no doubt about that, and sometimes like today I can really feel just how possible it is to change my situation for the better. It has taken an enormous amount of hard work and tenacity, but just look at where I am now!

I used to feel like I could inspire others to follow their dreams, grow as individuals, and reach places they thought were too distant – but sadly, I couldn’t do that for myself. Now I look at how life has changed me…I can be my own inspiration and reach my own dreams.

If I were to be able to speak to the illness that has stolen so many years of my life, I would have to quote one of my favorite movies – “Through dangers untold and hardships unnumbered, I have fought my way here to the castle beyond the Goblin City to take back the (life) that you have stolen, for my will is as strong as yours, and my kingdom as great — You have no power over me.”


Tashi! :D

Life sure does move fast sometimes! It’s been another long while since I posted and much has gone on. I think it’s time I share what it is that I’ve been up to which has been keeping me away from more frequent updates.

Gupta Amygdala Retraining Program is a process by which many can heal from chronic fatigue syndrome, multiple chemical sensitivity, and a few things they don’t list on the website. For example, I’ve also been using it to heal my PTSD.

Jeremy and I began the program mid-September this year. After three months following it diligently, the results are quite amazing. On the other hand, it can be a lot of work and you really need to commit yourself to doing it every day. Is it worth it? Heck yeah! 🙂

Coming back from a long-term illness can be very challenging. Especially considering how far from normal our lives had taken us – living in a tent for nearly 10 years, extreme social isolation from being fully housebound, extreme physical degradation from being mostly bedbound. It all adds up to situations that need healing in their own way.

We’ve been living indoors for sometime now and enjoy our current apartment. Swimming 1-4 times a week, occasional hikes, weight lifting, and frequent evening walks are taking care of the physical reconditioning. I’ve begun volunteering for a dog rescue at their adoption events and will be helping a cat shelter next month during their spay/neuter clinic which is all healing the social aspect. Life is beginning to be on the move again!

Speaking of the cat shelter… we adopted a 2 year old cat three weeks ago! Yay!!! Through an odd sequence of events I found out I don’t have a cat allergy as I thought I did, within a week we had adopted Tashi. Here she is a few days after coming home with us: Tashi a few days after being adopted from the shelter.

I am loving having a cat around the house. She has been a shelter cat for a lot of her life, though she did have one home at some point. Her first home had a 4 year old and she spent a month hiding under the bed from it, so they decided to take her back. I’m happy to have her here with us instead.

Tashi playing with paper ball.

She suffered from at least one nightmare a day for the first two weeks, but then someone gave us some amazing stress reducing drops that are basically water with minerals and an electric charge to combat stress. I add one drop to her water each day and she hasn’t had a nightmare in a week! We are really enjoying seeing her personality come out as she grows more comfortable and confident in life with us.

Tashi is a Tibetan name meaning good fortune and auspiciousness. She is a talker with many different chirps, meows, mews, and just plain odd noises. I’m hoping she will learn to be more of a lap cat as right now she is uncomfortable being in a lap even though you can tell she wants to climb onto it. When in a loving mood she’ll gaze at it and shift her weight forwards then change her mind, but for now it is too much for her. She loves lasers, catnip, and playing with various homemade toys. We also have a homemade cat scratcher made from cardboard boxes we had lying around… aka free!

Having Tashi come into our lives is just one of many examples of how much healing we have seen since starting the Gupta Retraining Program. Our improvements really are incredible and tremendous.


Home has been Found!

Aloha! I am thrilled to say we have found a new apartment to rent! Hooray!! A week after finding it, we were moved out of the old and into the new. It has been an incredibly busy three weeks as we accomplished all of this.

Our new place has had it’s ups and downs for our health, for example we had to clean off old cleanser and soap residues from past cleaning, making it more MCS safe for us. We still can’t use the cupboards as they need the most work, but that is something that will become better with time and they do not cause trouble unless opened.

There is still much hard work ahead of us and it will take time to regain our energy and health back to where it was even four months ago, but I am feeling highly positive it is already happening.

It has been one heck of a road which led us here, with a huge learning curve about finding an MCS safe apartment. Had I known four months ago what I know now about finding a safe rental, I’ve no doubt it would have taken half the time. Thankfully, I had the forethought to write myself notes on how to make our rental search easier in the future, since the whole process is already becoming a foggy memory.

Already we are feeling the stress of our rental journey slowly lifting from our hearts and our minds, freeing us for a much more positive and brighter future. It feels wonderful to have found a place that holds so much promise of being a safe healing environment.

Our apartment is more of a ‘mother-in-law’ style unit, fully detached from the main house where our new landlord lives with 3 other family members. They have all made us feel extremely welcome and like we belong here. It is an amazing feeling to be around such kind hearts and positive energy.

In just the last two weeks we have expanded from the survival mode of finding a rental to living again. Jeremy has begun making jewelry for the first time in a couple of months. We’ve been swimming in the healing ocean 3-5 times each week (up from once every 10 days or so). Also we’re having fun planting a few seeds for a small garden with more seeds ready soon as the energy is there.

In other words – life has once more started to bloom for us.


A Temporary Hiatus

Sorry for the long delay in posts. The process of finding safe housing is proving to be most difficult and has caused a marked decline in health. Jeremy and I are making it by as always with a smile in our hearts and hope in our eyes. With some luck, we’ll find a new place to live soon that is a healing environment and with considerably less stress than our current apartment.

Sundog Tales will most certainly be continuing just as soon as I’ve the oomph for more adventures! Hugs to all! Lisa


Metamorphosis

I feel as though life is currently lived in a haze of passing moments. It is difficult at times to capture what is going on around me as I’m still trying to adjust to their speed. Living in the woods for nearly 10 years was a different world than the one I life in now.

I rose when the sun was up and the animals made enough racket to wake me. Life followed the seasons and weather, Each winter I rested while dreaming of warmer days. I would initially welcome spring bringing new life back into the forest around me, then curse it for the alder tree pollens that nearly crippled me with allergies each year. Summer would come as a blaze of warmth and sunshine, drowsy hours spent resting in the sun and locking away the memory to be cherished next snow storm. The autumn would bring a welcome crispness to the air and spur me to finish all my winter preparations.

Life was much simpler as each season had its own pace and little to hurry me before the next season began to make itself known.

Over the years I would often dream of once again living indoors. Things would be easier, I would feeling safer – being warm. One thing I always forgot to add into the details was the flow life takes when you have places to be and things to do.

I feel as though time stood still while I lived in a tent, events moving around me to change the world I live in, but ultimately not touching me. I saw a war, a new president, our economy plummet, avian flu bugs, cellphone use explode to a way of life, gas prices sky rocket, the internet become a culture – all of this and more as though looking on through a one way mirror.

Now life feels considerably different. Trying to reintegrate with a world that has flown by me, it can be … tricky. Things others take for granted after years of living in the American culture of the 21st century, I am coming into having read about it, but not personally experiencing it. It’s like reading a guidebook before you get to your destination – things are familiar, but you still have to learn your way around.

While the last 10 years of illness are hazy in my memory (its surprising how quickly the tent is fading away), the previous healthy years of life as a college student and bookstore clerk are surprisingly clear and sharp. This has caused an odd juxtaposition of lives to needing to be merge: The one knows how to live in a fast paced world, but approached it as a healthy and vigorous 24 year old; verses the one who knows how to live with chronic illness and in sync with the seasons of life.

Trying to merge these two dynamic halves into a whole has been both invigorating and stressful.

Last summer I awoke in a new world and a new place, considerably changed from when I fell asleep 10 years ago. As I move through my new surroundings, I am letting fall behind the shackles that bound me, and stepping forth into the rainbow of possibility before me to discover who I have become.