Monday, April 4, 2016

A personal war on illness 

PRESIDENT BARACK OBAMA: It’s important to recognize that today we are seeing more people killed because of opioid overdose than traffic accidents. Now, you think about that. A lot of people tragically die of car accidents, and we spend a lot of time and a lot of resources to reduce those fatalities. And the good news is, is that we’ve actually been very successful. ... The problem is, here, we’ve got the trajectory going in the opposite direction. So, 2014, which is the last year that we have accurate data for, you see an enormous, ongoing spike in the number of people who are using opioids in ways that are unhealthy, and you’re seeing a significant rise in the number of people who are being killed.

DR. LEANA WEN: It’s one of the most humbling things and worst feelings as a doctor to know that you can’t help them, that what this patient needed, what so many of our patients need, is treatment, addiction treatment, at the time that they’re requesting it. But we couldn’t give it. I mean, we would never say that to someone who has a heart attack. We would never say, "Go home, and if you haven’t died in three weeks, come back and get treated." So that’s what we faced. And I remember that I talked to her this one time about getting into treatment. She really wanted to do it. We set her up with an appointment. But it wasn’t until two weeks later. And she went home that day and overdosed, and came back to us in the ER. We tried to resuscitate her, but we couldn’t save her. And I think about her all the time, because she had come to us so many times requesting treatment—and yet, clearly, there is a difference between how we treat her and how we treat everybody else—because we need to recognize that addiction is a disease. If we treat addiction like a crime, then we’re doing something that’s not scientific, that’s inhumane, and it’s, frankly, ineffective.

This is so important to so many people that live in a silent misery, so proud of president Obama for taking on this issue before he leaves office. 

Every 19 min someone, young and old, dies from opioid overdose. 

This is such a personal issue for me but I also think my experience could help a lot of people (maybe even just one). One day, 7 years ago, I got a headache- my first headache ever. The pain was so horrible and I tried everything to get rid of it, days/ weeks later nothing had worked and I was sent to a neurologist who prescribed me prescription pain killers. It was the only thing that would make my days bearable. After years of testing and procedures they could not find the cause of the headaches, I was eventually diagnosed with chronic migraine syndrome. Years of treatment, waking up with a headache and pain everyday I was prescribed more and more pills, as your body becomes immune to them and you need higher doses. For 7 years I lived on prescription pain pills, muscle relaxers, anti nausea, anti anxiety/ depression (I became very depressed as I was "sick" everyday), sleeping meds, migraine combative drugs... You name it they had me on it. However, on all of these medications I managed to live a completely "normal" life, really there is nothing normal about someone being placed on that many medications with no actual pin pointed diagnoses. The doctors were happy, the insurance companies were happy, I was their best customer... I paid thousands each month for my medical treatment. 

This last summer after years of all these medications and still being in pain, I decided to take a look at myself and what kind of life I wanted to live. I was so tired of being sick, I hated having to go to Drs apts, getting injections, making pharmacy runs and being sick if I was low or out of my pain medication. It was awful. I took back my life and said no more. I stopped all my medications abruptly, which was a horrible idea. I had no idea how dependent my body, mentally and physically, had become. I was severely sick for about 2 days and ended up in ER where I was told they were not even equipped to help a person get off of such strong medications and if I didn't find help somewhere else, I could die. My body was shutting down, it was the scariest time for myself and everyone around me. I was able to find an amazing detox center that specialized in ridding your body of these toxins and giving it just what it needed to keep going. I don't remember 3 days of my life, and pretty much the 2 weeks in the hospital were also a blur. All I remember is the dr asking me if I truly wanted to make a change in my life and that it was going to be a complete lifestyle change. I think I said yes, I was ready, I was done being sick. I was hooked up to IVs for 8 days flushing my system out of everything, I was also placed on suboxone, which saved my life and can save countless others. My journey was not over once my body was flushed out, being sick had become a lifestyle and something I defined myself as. I wasn't used to waking up and just living. I was used to waking up taking my medications, waiting until I felt good, only to feel bad a few hours later, take more medication, feel better... On and on, until it was time for bed and I'd have somewhat relief for 8 hours. My whole life had revolved around my illness, which happens to many people. My body was physically dependent on these medications, I didn't realize it or admit/ acknowledged it for months, but I mentally/ emotionally was also dependent on these medications. I had mentally convinced myself that I was just an unhealthy person, who could never feel good.  

Once I was off these toxins my journey did not end there, I was plagued with the worst anxiety. I was scared, so scared, I was scared that a headache or pain would return and what would I do...? What would I do if I got sick or had a procedure and needed to take these pills again? What would I do every 4-5 hrs when my routine of taking my medicine would come around? Like I said my life had revolved around being "sick". 
It was a horrible time for myself and those around me. I lost friends and family that I truly needed. My mom, sister and Julie both had work and could only do so much for me, so I was forced to be strong and forced to be okay. I had to for Lola, for myself, and for the ones around me. During the 3 months I was so scared of being alone and so scared to show weakness, something I have never admitted to. I had to ask for help and rely on others to help build me back up again. Julie and I created a bubble for our family and became closer and stronger during this time. I was forced to let people help me for the first time in my life. I received amazing counseling through the center that helped me detox. It was the hardest thing my little family has had to go though, behind loosing our little furry baby Banjo. We all needed support, and thank God for the people that stuck around and showed their support and love. After 3 months I felt like a different person. I was present, I was awake, I was living in each moment knowing I was okay and not sick. 

Behind having Lola, overcoming this battle is my proudest moment! I won, I overcame the battle that so many lose. I missed out on so much of life because of my pain & for once in the last 7 years I realized the pain had been created in my head and my body, it didn't really exist. Don't get me wrong, I had legitimate pain but it was caused because of all the medications. Once the medications would wear off my body would send pain signals to my brain saying there was pain, and after being on opioids for that long my brain no longer produced the "feel good" chemicals and had zero pain tolerance with out the medication. 

During the 7 years, the last 2 were difficult and family became concerned about he medications I was being prescribed, but each time it was brought up to the doctors they recommended more treatment and even when I personally brought up the medications that help get off opioids- I was told no and that it wouldn't be a good option. Also, during this time I couldn't get pregnant for a second time. It was extremely frustrating because everything indicated there were no fertility problems.

I know now that God knew exactly what he was doing and I was not physically healthy enough to have a baby, while dealing with opioids dependency. 

It's been close to 9 months since dealing with this issue, and after the 3rd month I never felt better. I haven't experienced pain or headaches like I did before, my chronic pain and body aches were gone, the nausea was gone, everything was better. I never thought there'd be a day where I didn't need my medications but here I am today almost 9 months later feeling great-ish (pregnancy symptoms)! It was mind over matter, I stopped talking about being sick and started talking about how good I felt and how much healthier I was becoming!  

For years I struggled in silence, praying one day I would be strong enough to overcome being sick. I didn't get that help from the Drs that had treated me for years, and I didn't receive help from health insurance to get off these medications. They had no problem paying for these horrible drugs, but they refused to help get you off these medications. I had to pay thousands of dollars a day for my treatment to undo, years of what Drs and myself, had done to me. I'm fortunate enough to have got the help I need but this is not the case for everyone.
With Obama's new plan he is cracking down on the doctors that prescribe these dangerous and strong medications, so loosely. I did not need to be on these pain pills as long as I was with no pin pointed illness. He is also making the opioid combative drugs more regularly available to those who need it, such as I did, yet it was never an option. I was the one who had to say enough was enough, Drs should be the ones to say enough is enough and offer this help, which they will now be required to do. 

I am happy that almost 9 months later, I am happier and stronger but mostly healthy. I don't live in a world of sick anymore. I don't take those harsh medications or drink alcohol, I never had an issue with alcohol but it did make my headaches worse. So I decided to not drink alcohol because it's just not worth it at this point. 

I encourage you to face what scares you most and challenge yourself to make a change. No one really knows your struggle or the challenges you face everyday, except you. If I can do it anyone can and if you're in a similar situation whether it be with drugs or alcohol just know help is on its way, thanks to Obama. 

Tuesday, June 3, 2014

Getting Personal

I recently received an email from a very sweet girl asking for some advice and guidance. I'm so thankful that some of you feel so comfortable coming to me and asking my opinions, it's also amazing and such a blessing that my little family can be inspiring to so many of you. I'm going to post her questions and add my responses, I hope this helps some of you! (Some of the personal information has been removed to respect people's privacy) Xo
(Her questions are in bold) 

 I'm 21, and my girlfriend is 23. We've been together for over a year now and I told my parents we were dating a couple months into the relationship. The sad thing is, they never really accepted it  I still live at their house and they still treat me as their daughter but they don't want my gf to come over or even talk to her because they want me to go back to men. Did your parents accept it completely right away? 

When I first decided to start dating a girl, I was still very confused and exploring myself. I didn't share it with many people because I still wasn't sure of what I was doing. The only people that knew were my best friend and I told my mom. My mom of course didn't take me to seriously and said it was just a phase and of course she threw in there that it was against our religion. I didn't argue much with her about it (I recommend that to anyone- don't become hostile towards anyone else's beliefs or opinions. It just makes the whole situation negative). Those were the only 2 people I had an actual conversation with about dating a girl.  My girlfriend would come with me to family functions and we were always together, I think a lot of people assumed what was going on but it was never a topic. My mom has always supported me and been accepting of every decision I've made, so it didn't take much for her to come around to the idea of me having a girlfriend. 
When I met Julie I knew, we knew right away, that this was it and we were going to be together forever. It was at that point that I decided to shout it from the roof tops, that I was in love & getting engaged to a girl. I was nervous with each person I told, but I was confident in what I was doing... I, fortunately, was received with very loving and accepting arms. Love is hard to hide, everyone saw how happy we both were and even some that weren't completely convinced, soon changed their opinion. 

All my friends and coworkers accept my homosexuality but since I'm a lipstick lesbian (you're actually the first one I know who I can relate to) I always get those comments that you don't want to hear like ''you're too pretty to be with a girl'' or ''it's just a phase''. It's hard for me to hear all those things, because I'm happy and this is who I am but it makes it hard to accept that my life will be different. Did you have to deal with those comments? 

When I first started to date a girl, no one really took it seriously. I heard all the comments "you're to pretty to be a lesbian... You just haven't had a good guy... You just don't know what it's like to be with a real man... There's no way a girl can treat you the way you need to be treated..." And so on. I never listened and never cares what anyone said or thought of me. You have to be confident in your choice and feelings. You need to be confident and release the ties (what others think) that hold you back, you're free! You're free to live and free to be you and that's an amazing thing. If you're happy that's all that matters! Once, others began to feel their words no longer have power over you, they soon realize it's not fun to taunt you anymore and they don't have a say over your life. 

How is it to be very feminine and pretty in your life? 

First, thank you! Being feminine and pretty in my life is great lol. I take pride in myself and looking good. I love being girly and really it's the way I've always been. Since I don't exactly fit the "stereotype" I believe I help in changing people's minds about what gay looks like. I like to think that I show people a gay person comes in all different shapes and sizes. I've had people come up to me at Gay clubs and say "you're not gay" and when I respond I have a wife, they're in shock. It happens all the time when I'm out, you should see peoples faces when they mention something about my husband or Lola's dad and I say actually "I have a wife & Lola has 2 moms"! It's quite funny to see the shock. My hope is that all those people I shock might change their opinion or stereotypes and show all that love is love, no matter what you look like. I don't get upset or offended if people just assume I am straight, that's okay, I'll happily correct them and go on my way. I really try hard not to worry about what people think. I guess I'm a femme but I am not big on labels, so I like to just consider myself ME... What matters is what's on the inside, the outside isn't as important as everyone makes it seem, having a good heart is the prettiest thing in the world. 

Do you know other mommies like you?

I've been asked this question before and the simple answer is, no. I have 1 other friend that is a lesbian mom but other than her I don't know any other 2 mom families (in person at least). Instagram has connected me to so many 2 mom families and I seriously love the app for those reasons! It's helped me form relationships with families that are just like ours! When I had my first girlfriend I met a friend who was a mom with 2 beautiful girls, she was separated from her partner at the time and it was the first time I saw a family like this. I remember being amazed and thinking "wow, this is beautiful and this is possible, I could have this one day"! I'll never forget the feeling I had leaving their house and seeing those 2 beautiful little girls, so happy and well adjusted to life. Normal little girls with no differences between them and any other child. I had an instant connection with them and a bond with their mother. She showed me and inspired me to be a mother, with whoever I loved. 
Sometimes I think that it would be nice to have a group of same sex parents that we know in our personal lives but at the end of the day my group of mommies are some of my best friends. They treat me and my family no different and could care less if I was married to a woman, they love my family and I am so appreciative of them!  

I've had boyfriends in the past and it always felt like I was looking for something else, I always felt incomplete... I thought that was love still. Now that I'm with her, I see that she's the only one who ever made me feel this way. I love her and she would buy me the moon if she could! I'm still a little anxious because I don't like sexuality with men (it almost disgusts me) but I still had feeling for them in the past. Have you ever had to go through something like this? Sometimes I feel like pleasing my family and try again but I love my girlfriend and never been happier in a relationship (emotionally and sexually) 

Don't be anxious, love is love. Whether it's with a man or a woman, love is love. Love doesn't know who or what you're loving, it's a feeling and it's an emotion. Go with what your heart feels is right and feels the happiest with. When you're at the beginning of first dating girls it's totally natural to question whether you care about guys or not, it's what you know and it's what you've been doing, it's normal to think about it. Don't go back to dating men just to please someone else or because you think it's the right thing to do, date a man if that's what your heart tell you to. Listen to your heart and do what you feel is best for you, not for others. 
My relationships with men always felt more of like a family or best friend bond. Of my 2 ex boyfriend, 1 is a very good friend who I care greatly about and wish nothing but the best and the other is family. Literally, he is treated as a family member of ours now. 
A sexual relationship says a lot about where your heart lays. When it comes down to it you have to have a sexual relationship to maintain a healthy relationship/ marriage. If the thought of being with a guy makes you physically ill, that says a lot 😝! Go with what feels good 🙊! 

At this moment, I dream of having a family with her and do the insemination technique like you two did for Lola. I read on your blog that you saw the face of the donor and know a little bit about him. Did that ever affect you and Julie? I mean, I would like to see a picture of the donor when the time comes but my girlfriend is afraid we might recognize him in the future or that the donor will want to have contact with our child after...? 

Yes, we saw the donor, watched a video and read all about him. It's something that had to be done in our choosing. It has never made Julie insecure, this donor has given us a gift and we can never forget that. You can't be in denial or not acknowledge how you're having a child. You are getting sperm from a donor and need all of that information to be able to make an informed decision. It was something that had to be done together, and it was actually quite a special process. 
Julie and I are the only people who have seen his picture and know his info. We have NEVER shared his picture with anyone and NEVER will, it is only something that Julie and I need to see & know. People have asked what he looks like and if we have a picture but we would never show them. We looked at the picture when we chose him and have only looked at it 1 time since. It is not something we need to see or look at every now and then. We just have no use for it, we have our Lola and she's perfect and ours, that's all that matters. Julie has never been insecure about him or upset that Lola is technically not biologically her, it doesn't matter to her or us. 
I mean it is a possibility that we might run into our donor but I really don't think that would ever happen, we'd have to be looking and we don't have any info on where he's from or lives. I think if we ever did happen to see him, we would respect his privacy, not say anything and go on our way. 
We chose and paid for a "willing to be known donor" so when Lola turns 18 she has the option to contact him, he also agrees to 1 face to face meeting (if Lola wants, when she's an adult). We hope to raise her and make her feel so fulfilled and loved, that she never needs to seek him out. But it would have been selfish of us not to give her that option when she's an adult. Humans are curious by nature and we could never just assume she won't have questions, we love her enough and are secure enough in our family to give her that and to know she won't need anything from him. 
If you use a good facility you won't need to fear any contact, all of that info is extremely confidential, on both sides. 

Last question I have is about how society accepts your family... Do you still get looked at when you walk around with your wife or does your neighborhood react differently because they see two mommies? Do you feel different anyhow? I mean, being different is great because you are a happy family fulfilled with love and that's what I want for myself but I'm afraid to be judged or something :(

Bottom line is you have to expect to be judged. Being judged sucks, hurts and isn't fun, but it's going to happen. Were a fwd moving society and every day the lgbt community is making amazing strides in the right direction, but we're not there a 100%. People will always look at you, even if your marriage is legal and you have the most beautiful family in the world, you'll still get looked at sideways. We get looks all the time, a lot of positive feedback but we have encountered some dirty looks. We have to think about areas we go to as a family, so we are not exposing ourselves and Lola to any negative vibes or people. Even on Instagram I loose followers at the mention of having a wife, but it's okay. We can't please everyone and no matter how wonderful of a person you are, you will always encounter hate. We deal with it from even close relatives. That's why it is so important to surround yourself with loving and supportive people. Forget the naysayers and focus on the positive. Be happy and when you're happy everything around you will be happy! 

I hope this helps some of you and answers any questions you may have! Please feel free to email me anytime with questions! Joymarie86@gmail.con

Friday, May 9, 2014

Footprints in the Sand

The Footprints Prayer

One night I had a dream...

I dreamed I was walking along the beach with the Lord, and Across the sky flashed scenes from my life. For each scene I noticed two sets of footprints in the sand; One belonged to me, and the other to the Lord. When the last scene of my life flashed before us, I looked back at the footprints in the sand. I noticed that many times along the path of my life, There was only one set of footprints.

I also noticed that it happened at the very lowest and saddest times in my life This really bothered me, and I questioned the Lord about it. "Lord, you said that once I decided to follow you, You would walk with me all the way; But I have noticed that during the most troublesome times in my life, There is only one set of footprints. I don't understand why in times when I needed you the most, you should leave me.

The Lord replied, "My precious, precious child. I love you, and I would never, never leave you during your times of trial and suffering. When you saw only one set of footprints, It was then that I carried you.