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Don’t Lose Yourself

What a year this has been. Living with Lupus is not without it’s challenges. Some days are good, while others can make me question everything. It’s tough to navigate life’s path while looking “normal” to the outside world, but dealing with all of the things people don’t see when they look at me. After all, I am the one who deals with the emotional and physical pain, the feelings of disease alienation, and the numerous changes to my body that have joined me on this unpredictable journey.

What I’ve had to realize is that while Lupus is a part of my life, it is not who I am. I am not my fatigue. I am not my various pains and nerve damage. I am not the hair or digestive issues. My identity is not tied to an illness, but rather to who Christ says that I am. Victorious. Strong and courageous. More than a conqueror. This body of mine is just a temporary vessel and regardless of what it goes through, the spirit who lives on the inside of me has already won the battle.

I choose to honor the warrior that’s always been on the inside of me even before Lupus made it’s presence known. My authentic self. That’s what really matters. Whether you are fighting Lupus or some other chronic illness, don’t lose yourself in the process.

Monaye

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Managing Holiday Grief

The holidays are upon us and while many people are decorating and taking advantage of the Black Friday and Cyber Monday sales, others are not as excited. They may be grieving the loss of a loved one. As a certified Grief Specialist, I was invited to speak on this topic recently.

First, let me define grief. It is the normal and natural response to any type of loss in a person’s life. Of course, death is what usually comes to mind initially, but we can grieve due to divorce, the end of a relationship, employment changes or even health status. (I had to grieve for what Lupus changed in my own life.) Regardless of who or what it is that we grieve, we don’t have to shy away from what we feel. We may feel loneliness, sadness, anger or even anxiety. The reason that holiday grief can be more difficult is because we are exposed to all of the stimuli that makes us more aware of the change that has occurred in our lives. For example, songs, certain smells, or places that we visit can evoke memories of what was.

So, how do we deal with those feelings? Do we rely on short term behaviors that numb the pain such as overeating, drinking alcohol, shopping or throwing ourselves into work? I have done a few of these things at various times in the past and not only are they unhealthy, but they don’t help us. The key to healing our hearts is to address and complete what is emotionally unfinished within that loss. This is how I help grievers.

No one has the right to tell you how long to grieve, but my suggestion during this season is to embrace your strength and courage that has led you thus far. If you’re living in a new body due to chronic illness, every day is a victory. Yes things may be different, but you are a warrior! If you need to cry, shout, curse, or journal about it, do that, re-adjust your crown and continue walking tall. If you’re missing a loved one, try and focus on the good times shared with them, the blessing that they were to your life, and the memories you will forever cherish. Family traditions may not be the same, but you can create beautiful new memories with those you do have. After all, your loved one still resides in your heart and they always will.

Monaye

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What’s New? Neuropathy

I was getting ready for dinner on a Saturday night many years ago. I had planned on wearing this cute outfit with some new heels that I’d purchased. Hair? check. Make up? check. Perfume? check. As I slipped my heels on, my balance shifted.

Something was wrong. My right foot felt weaker than my left. Since I had no issues with the shoes when I first tried them on at the store, I was confused as to what was happening. I didn’t have time to figure it out so needless to say, I ended up wearing flats. As time went on, I began to notice tingling in that foot and leg. I called my Rheumatologist and made an appointment.

After examining my foot, he said, “You have toe drop.”

Toe what?

He explained that toe drop or foot drop is the inability to lift the front of the foot. My big toe was being affected. This affects the ability to walk properly and is caused by nerve issues. He referred me to a Neurologist for further testing and I was later diagnosed with Mononeuropathy. I had nerve damage.

Were my heel wearing days over? I became frustrated. What else would Lupus take away from me? I changed my mindset and decided that I needed to research this new diagnosis so I could understand how to manage it. No quitting over here!

Mononeuropathy occurs when a nerve is damaged or compressed due to disease and inflammation such as with Lupus or other illnesses. It can cause burning, weakness, loss of feeling or a “pins and needles” feeling. Damage can occur in various areas of the body which eventually happened to me as my nerve pain spread to my legs, arms, hands and head.

Treatment for Mononeuropathy depends on where the damage occurs and the severity, but may include corticosteroids, surgery, splints, or treatment of the underlying disease.

If you are having symptoms, I highly suggest that you seek medical advice. Untreated Neuropathy can lead to permanent disability or weakness, unresolved pain, loss of sensation or other impairments.

Monaye