Monday, September 30, 2013

Knowing

One of my favorite writers once wrote about her distaste in people loosely using the term, "I feel your pain," while comforting someone else, as if they're trying to share in their unfortunate experience in some roundabout way. I believe there are different levels and deeper scales of "pain" when it's purely emotional. Losing a pet, losing a friend, the loss of a loved one, a family member, and the worst I have seen just recently, was a friend who just lost her 1 year old baby who passed away while napping. I cannot even fathom that kind of pain, just sympathize and can only wonder if her life will ever be the same again. I can't even compare it to the loss of my father. My comfort in losing Dad was that he is no longer suffering. He lived to be 75 years old and had a great, long life. A life well lived, of course until the end. That alone, comforts me. But the unresolved and unanswered questions from God Himself, asking Him, "Why? Why do you have to take my healthy baby away?" ----- that's one question that may result in the loss of faith. There's no reasonable answer - none that we can comprehend at least. I'm reminded of all the overused clich├ęs out there: "Everything happens for a reason," "God has a purpose, but we don't know," "Heaven needed him more." I get it. It's very comforting to think God needed our loved ones more, but is it just to soothe our great loss and despair of losing someone way too soon - way too quickly for our "liking" -- or for what should have been a different outcome? We can easily get angry at God for all the unanswered questions swiveling around in our minds, but what good would it do? Another close friend of ours lost his 16 year old son in a motorcycle accident, and yet again, the question remains...why?

Every morning, I sit outside with my coffee and pray. I'm thankful that every unfortunate situation that has taken place had a "good enough" reason -- or one that I can understand. Life cycles, cancer, old age, suffering --- yes, I understand that passing on is one way of relieving the pain. It still hurts and that's the pain I can "feel" on a personal level. But through that experience, I have learned a lot. I learned that the great pain of grief has made me stronger, perhaps to face another challenge that awaits me down the road. The mere 'silence' instantly reminds me of God's relief. There is a reason, or at least, I believe. I remember one day I was outside talking with Mom. Dad came outside of the house to sit with us moments later. He sat on his chair, his head sunk low as he kept banging his cane on the ground. He said, "I'm so sorry. I'm so sorry I'm going to leave you," while shaking his head in disbelief. We weren't supposed to say goodbye this soon. Or was it "too soon"? Mom reassured him that the treatments were going to work, while we were trying to hide the truth to give him quality of life. He just lifted his head, stared out into the view of the mountains he's been looking at for the past 55 years with his bright hazel eyes, and just 'knew'. My dad was never a quitter, but he came into this amazing acceptance level toward the end. As I said in a previous post, Dad said to me one day, "All I want is another ten years, that's all!" I said, "And you'll get that if you keep up with your doctor's visits." He shook his head and smiled. He never got his request. Till this day, I ask "why", but through time, I know why. Another ten years for him would have been absolute torture.

Does God have a plan?
"These things I plan won't happen right away. Slowly, steadily, surely, the time approaches when the vision will be fulfilled. If it seems slow, wait patiently, for it will surely take place. It will not be delayed." --Habakkuk 2:3

I had this incredible dream where my grandmother and father were both approaching me right outside on my lawn. Grandma held me left hand while Dad took my right. The lawn separated and a rainbow road appeared. I looked at the both of them, smiling and gleaming with this incredible glow, not saying one thing, but yet telling me without words how peaceful and happy they were. As we walked down this rainbow path, I realized *right in my dream* that this was an actual "visit"! It's not common to actually "wake up" in your dream (so to speak). Anyway, knowing this was a "visit" I said, "Wow! I miss you guys so much!" They both were laughing and smiling and had this "knowingly" presence --- as if there was something much larger out there that I could never grasp as a human being, but knew that without a doubt, that this visit was important for me to know that they were okay --- more than okay. So for me, I take comfort in relying on God's promises that in time, we will find out why our hearts break so much when we lose someone we love so dearly, and of course, why some of our loved ones leave us way too early.  It's the plan that will never, ever be fully understood as a human - it's the plan that God wants you to trust Him with. Trying to figure out God's plan is like fish trying to comprehend algebra. It'll never happen, until we're there with them, laughing and smiling, finally "knowing" what it's all about.


For more of Deb's articles, please visit: www.debrapasquella.com or join her on Facebook and Twitter. Check out her cooking blog for some of her famous recipes!

Friday, September 27, 2013

Resisting Temptation

Are you putting me on a diet???
To my surprise, I'm still maintaining the Paleo lifestyle and learning more in depth about it. I learned about ketosis, carb intake and how more fat in your diet = more weight loss, considering it's from a good, clean source. With that being said, I remember rolling my eyes at my gluten-free friends whenever they had parties and served up gluten-free crackers or pasta. It was gross and I still think so. I never try to mimic foods that I can't have. I see a lot of people who are on Paleo mimicking pies, cakes, pancakes and other treats, just to satisfy their sweet tooth in some roundabout way. Although I do believe whatever works best for 'you' is fine, but for me, if it doesn't truly taste like the REAL thing, I'm gonna eventually want the real thing. So, I stick to all the other amazing options out there, trying to incorporate new foods I never thought would be a liking to my palate. I have so much appreciation for my mom for starters. Anytime I have dinner with her and especially if she cooks --- she will make stuff that I'm able to eat and I don't expect anything like that. The other day she made this awesome chicken soup that didn't include pasta, noodles or even rice. She made it with fresh cut veggies and hormone free chicken. She makes these incredible pork ribs with a natural rub -- not that over processed jar of BBQ sauce. So last night, I got to make dinner for Mom. I made her a house burger with all the fixings, with a bun and a ton of fries. She looked over at me, "B-b-but can you eat this?" I had my burger the same as I always do - bun-less with an avocado and some pickles on it with a side salad. What's my point? I never skimp when I know someone likes something, even though I can't touch it. It's just like when I was in AA for 90 days -- I didn't go by those rigid rules -- I gathered with friends while they had their wine and cocktails and I had my seltzer with lime. It's all about self-control and I never, ever feel deprived on this new venture of mine.

A few years back I remember we had a party for one of our friends. We couldn't include alcohol because she was in recovery. I give anyone credit for resisting the temptation of what once took a toll on their life. That party didn't last for more than two hours -- I swear.  I remember while in AA being told, "You can't be around those who you used to drink with." Quickly, I raised my hand and said, "What if you drank with your family and friends?" They all shot me these killer looks, as if it was a challenge on my part. "You'll have to refrain from seeing them at places where they indulge in cocktails." So I asked, "You mean I can't go to their houses? That's the only place they really enjoy a cocktail or two." I have a huge problem with AA and dieters placing the blame or making other people without a drinking or eating problem the 'bad guy'. This is your problem -- not theirs. And while I agree that if staying away from your family and friends is going to be the only way to stay clean, then by all means do so, but that comes with a huge price sometimes. I was invited to a party that only had sandwiches, pizza and pasta. I had a huge protein lunch before going and then ate whatever non-carb snacks they had available. Problem solved. Work on "you" ---not them.

For more of Deb's articles, please visit: www.debrapasquella.com or join her on Facebook and Twitter. Check out her cooking blog for some of her famous recipes!

Thursday, September 26, 2013

The Dangers of Social Media

Caution: Objects may be closer than they appear.
I rarely have a consistent view on anything, because things change, people change, the world changes, barely ever staying in one lane. Flip-flopping and lying politicians (and presidents) usually leave us feeling confused over our choice in whether or not to be a democrat, republican, moderate, liberal, undercover socialist or whatever you wanna call yourself 'today'. Things look good until they finally shows their true colors. My coffee in this picture looks cute and accessible in this photo, but I assure you it's not. I have to literally reach over, squish my dog to get my mug, and then on top of that, have my sciatica zap me in the ass for doing so.  Things aren't as they seem. One day you can be sitting with the one you love, and the next day, they can be gone in a flash just like that. The world, our world, is so unstable and unpredictable. I see certain people posting up inspirational quotes -- quotes to live by, or "should" live by and I think, "Wow, you don't live by that, how do you get to give such advice?" Although they mean well and perhaps giving the advice means also giving it back to themselves. I wonder if anyone truly uses all these motivational social media blabber. Sometimes, I'll retweet/repost them, because I myself have yet to use it in my own life. We live by experiencing and fortunately or unfortunately, we have the ability to "share" it online to our friends, family and to the world. What message are you sending out to the world? Years ago, nobody knew if we were democrats or republicans or if we were straight or homosexual. It wasn't spoken about so much. We never admitted that in person. We didn't get to see the inner depths of someone's torturous soul, until blogs came about.  I remember the saying, "It's easier to write it all out sometimes."

But as the world changes, so do we. And this is how life is now.
Online.

We can critique everything everybody does online, but the truth is, if you saw what they did online, you must be online as well. You have your lurkers, complainers, class clown, philosophy buffs, religious fanatics, wannabe photographers and political ramblers. They now have a soapbox to stand on. They have a platform to show off what they know, what they feel, what they saw or even, post what they had for breakfast. What's even more fascinating is, the people who post the most, are the ones who are out the most, snapping shots with their smartphones of their whereabouts or complaining about the slow cashier while waiting in line. For me personally, I love seeing photos of where my friends went on vacation and seeing random photos of simple things they find fascinating. That must be because of my love for photography. But, I also love hearing about their day, seeing what they're doing or complaining about. I get to know what their political statuses are without having a debate, because I choose not to invite myself to that argument. I get to see their kids grow up or how 'so and so' changed their life for the better. Unfortunately, sometimes that comes with a price: their absences in our lives. One of my friends posted something really significant the other day. "If you allow people to make more withdrawals than deposits in your life, you will be out of balance and in the negative. Know when to close the account."--Christie Williams I have to say that I feel very grateful that I have gotten back in touch (in person) with most of my friends from high school. And today, I have a lunch date with two very special people that were from my past and now, hopefully in my present. Don't let social media and time keep you away from family, friends...and life.


For more of Deb's articles, please visit: www.debrapasquella.com or join her on Facebook and Twitter. Check out her cooking blog for some of her famous recipes!

Thursday, September 19, 2013

Gaining Balance

Every fall it feels like a new start. Maybe it has to do with imprints of my past childhood when I started school every September, but this year it feels a bit different. This past summer was absolutely torturous, being in and out of the hospital with stomach bleeding and excruciating back pain. Finally, I'm seeing the light at the end of the tunnel. My pain is very minimal, manageable and sometimes, not even present. My stomach feels as though it has healed nicely since I quit NSAIDs and had a therapy of stomach medications and antibiotics. I feel back to "me" again and I thank GOD for it. I even went out dancing the other night in three inch heels. (I know I know, that's pushing it, but damn it felt good!) I even ventured out to my friend's' BBQ, where all of our buddies from high school gathered around and had a blast. One friend commented, "Damn Deb! We haven't seen you since before the summer, glad you're finally here and not in your assigned room at the hospital." I don't want to get too excited too soon, but I can't help feel this sense of enthusiasm and hope for life. If you look a few posts down, I was on "E" and very depressed about the pain I was enduring. I learned a lot of things between last June and now. I learned how depression can creep in when your physical well-being is tampered with. I learned how fast and carelessly the doctors are willing to fling addicting prescription medication at people without the help of holistic or natural remedies - and why would they if they couldn't make a buck or two off it? I learned something I never understood in a much larger scope: self-medicating and why people do it. There was a point where I was using Percocet to treat the pain, and when the depression kicked in with another sleepless night ahead of me, one more Percocet wouldn't hurt. But I caught myself.

Which brings me to a very revealing side of me that I probably never spoke about before...

Addictions. I have a few "acceptable" addictions: food and anti-anxiety drugs (Ativan). After losing 20 lbs, and still losing, I have learned what foods trigger my weight gain and to not gorge myself with a plate or two of pasta. Since on Paleo, I have eliminated breads and pastas with the exceptional cheat day. Progress made. I still have ways to go. Now, for the past fifteen years, my doctor prescribed me Ativan to relieve symptoms of anxiety. She warned me of its side effects: drowsiness. She started me out on .05 per day which is basically nothing. It reached 4mg per day for the past three years now. My doc keeps telling me not to go off of them just yet because I'm dealing with a lot of stress in my life. But he even said this before my father passed away. So, when will life NOT be challenging? I have taken it upon myself to wean off this stuff and try to get myself clean from everything. I can't do it cold turkey like I did with cigarettes, because there is a risk of withdrawals, such as convulsions and panic attacks, etc., but I will slowly get there. Nobody, especially in the medical field had ever warned me about being an "addict" --- even when I was in AA for 90 days, I said, "Would you consider me an addict if I take 4 mg of Ativan on a daily basis for the past decade or so?" And they said, "No! That's under a doctor's guidance." So, as long as a doctor prescribes your "poison", then it's "acceptable". I don't want to be on this for the rest of my life, so I'm outing my self-proclaimed and factual addiction to Ativan.

Why is Deb writing all of this? 

My Goal: Balance
I have a goal. For starters, I want to walk into my 40th birthday (which is in February) at my desired weight. I want to be clean and free of all prescription drugs. I want to be healthy, mind, body, spirit and not worry about future diabetes, obesity and all of the manmade cancers out there. By logging this down publicly, I will be able to push forward with more motivation and maybe some support by others who are reading this. I need more GOD in my life. I have seen Him work miracles lately and want that to continue. I'm not saying I'm going to be this "perfect Christian" who preaches more than practices (or preaches at all) -- but a little more God would do me some good. It has already. I want balance in my life. This goes for my behavior, responses, attitude, work, play, meditation, prayer and my passions in life (hobbies). Just in a few weeks time of weaning off Ativan and the few months of being on Paleo, I'm noticing less depression. The anxiety is a whole other story, but that too has been easing up. Please pray or send positive thoughts my way as I embark this challenging test of weaning off all that I've known for way too long.

Here are some scriptures that are really helping me right now:

He said to me, "My grace is sufficient for you, for my power is made perfect in your weakness." - 2 Corinthians 12:9

I can do all things through Christ who strengthens me. - Philippians 4:13 


For more of Deb's articles, please visit: www.debrapasquella.com or join her on Facebook and Twitter. Check out her cooking blog for some of her famous recipes!

Monday, September 09, 2013

Addictions

Did you ever wonder about people's "bad habits" and why they do what they do? Some people smoke, some people drink, some people do both and others head to the bigger stuff to fulfill their "highs". I remember when I used to smoke two packs a day as a teenager. Addictions start at a very young age, especially today. You'd think a teenager wouldn't have a care in the world: no bills to pay, no steady job or health problems from aging -- just school and it's trivial little teenage dramas. But there's much more pain involved: lack of acceptance, low self-esteem, stressors from flunking, and of course, being bullied. I had all of those "problems" that caused me to not only smoke, but drink heavily as a kid. Health class taught us that smoking was a stimulant, but every single time I took a drag of my cigarette, it relieved my anxiety somehow. With each puff, my problems seemed smaller. And not that it got me "high" --- there was a relaxing feeling about it. Alcohol came into play and I started drinking to relieve other tensions. So my poison of choice was always cigarettes and alcohol. Most of my friends were heavy drinkers, and even today, kids are starting at a much younger age. That scares the hell out of me. As an adult, I took it upon myself to quit smoking. Madelene was always kicking me out of the apartment if I wanted to smoke anyway, and with the weather being below zero, I decided that yeah, it's a good time. Eventually, food became much more enticing now that my taste buds started waking up. Ain't that a bitch... You quit one addiction to head full steam ahead into another, and voila, I packed on the pounds. I even did a 90 day clean out in AA which led me to be very resentful over the hypocrites that ran the meetings. They substituted one addiction for another. I cannot tell you how many monstrous size donuts and cakes came rolling through the door...with the members rolling back out. They passed out hard candy and chocolates around the table, with the excuse of, "It's better than a drink." But is it? 

Life is full of addictions to appease our minds, our busy busy little noggins. We make excuses for them and say, "I'll quit tomorrow," or "I'll start my diet tomorrow," or even, "I'm gonna stay away from the computer all day tomorrow," until they check their iPhone to see if they got any notifications from their social media crack. And don't get me wrong -- I'm completely guilty of it too. In the doctor's office, I'm scrolling, scrolling, scrolling just like everyone else in the waiting room. We SCROLL. ("They see us scrolling, they hatin'"-- can you hear it in your head?)  Right there, that proves that your photo of your dinner was indeed important to us and even the 257th picture of your kid had entertained us for a mere millisecond. Our computer-related ADD leaves us craving for more instant cyber gratification. Status messages are very important - they let us know that our life isn't so bad when you bitch and moan over your dramas. Then when we whine, we need validation that "we're right" and that our complaint is valid. We look for constant approval, and if that addiction doesn't satisfy us, we go to our retro "drug of choice" - whether it be drinking, smoking or eating, perhaps while on the computer. Addictions can grab hold of your little ones too. When I'm hanging out with my niece, her cute little face (that I just wanna pinch) glows bright blue from constantly being on her iPhone, playing some game or scrolling through her Facebook. The only thing I had as a kid was a cool digital calculator and game watch. Remember those? I could just imagine if the iPhone was available when I was young. I'm trying to "unplug" the best I can and be outside a lot more...until I get a notification. 

For more of Deb's articles, please visit: www.debrapasquella.com or join her on Facebook and Twitter. Check out her cooking blog for some of her famous recipes!

Filling Up the Tank

What's it been, a 5 day break? Not bad. Every time I jot stuff down in this blog, things seem to 'move' mysteriously. My pain has lessened, from a level 10 on the pain scale to a nice solid 5. I can definitely deal with that. Anyone who says that laughter is the best medicine has never had sciatica pain. I had a couple of friends over last night who nearly put me right back into the hospital because they made me laugh till I literally HURT. So, it flared up a tad and I was able to maintain without the drugs. This entire summer was just horrible, horrible, horrible. Pain, drugs, hospitals, ER nightmares, doctor appointments, blah! I went shopping yesterday and grabbed a shirt that says, "LOVE LIFE". Yeah, me. I truly believe there's some truth to the saying, "Gotta fake it till you make it" -- so I'm sticking to that. Here I am sitting in my beautiful office complaining about sciatica pain and how scared I am about taking pain meds, while there are people getting decapitated, raped, murdered and gassed with chemicals in Syria. I have no right.  "Oh, my back hurts, lemme just lay down and watch a few hours of Twilight....again." Meanwhile, we're close to coming head to head with World War III. There are people in the world who don't even have access to fresh water to wash down their $400.00 bottle of Cymbalta. Wait, what?

This TENS unit cost no more than $5.00! 
And yet, I'm still going to complain -- don't try to stop me. I have this physical therapist, (if that's what he truly wants to be called), who doesn't do....physical therapy. Lemme explain. He rounds up approximately ten people, puts them all in individually into little private rooms and places these cheap ass TENS units on them (seen in the photo on the right) that Medicare flings at him and then gives them a sonogram that's older than the hills on their back for deep penetrated heat. Not one person gets "physical therapy". They all get electrocuted and heated up. He charged me $17.00 per visit. I was seeing him three times per week. (God this is reminding me of those math problem solving paragraphs, bear with me.) So all in all, I pay him $204.00 per month with insurance on top of that...to do nothing. I said to him, "Listen, I really can't afford to pay this and your competitor is only charging $5.00 for the copay. Why is yours so much?"  He said, "Well kiddo, it's tough being sick in this economy." I just stared at him and said, "Really? That's the answer you're going to give me when I'm stepping out of your office and into your competitor's?" He then begged me to stay and said I didn't have to pay anything. So now I'm even more pissed off because he screwed me out of over $400.00. Now, if he had offered to give me my money back, I'd have some sympathy, but I truly feel that this guy is a complete fraud. He then gave me this report to give to my rheumatoid arthritis doc that basically explains everything he did during physical therapy and for my doc to sign it so I could get another six week prescription to continue physical therapy. The report said he did all sorts of amazing exercises to strengthen my core. He didn't do anything but plop me on a steel chair with a TENS unit to leave me to do the same for someone else who's paying up the nose for nothing. Do I report him or is this normal? Geez, I wish I had his job.

Not loving the straight hair or the 'gangsta' mug.
But atlas, things are seemingly looking up lately, so I decided it was time to do a little something for myself, so I went to my favorite hairdresser and got my hair did. While he was dying my roots, because I'm grayer than an old bitty screaming BINGO at a church potluck, I felt my scalp burning - I mean, BURNING the hell out of me. I didn't say anything because I just thought it was dissipate after time...after my brain melted out of my nasal cavities. Then they put some sort of glaze treatment in my hair, left me with my neck dangling in the sink for about 45 minutes. When he finally cut and dried my hair, my head was pumping so hard with a migraine that I couldn't even see straight. When I got home, my headache progressed to a level 10 on the pain scale --- with nausea. So what does the hypochondriac do? Yep. Went right to the internet to look up "migraine from hair dye". If you enter that into Google, you will never....ever...dye your hair again. People's faces were blown up as if they were allergic to bee stings. Their scalp, neck and chest had third degree burns on them and worst of all, somebody's breathing completely stopped! Like what the hell is this shit? Then it happened: the entire back of my neck was red with a rash and I started to get itchy. I jumped straight into the shower at 12 midnight to wash my hair three times. I have to admit, it felt better, but I was still itchy. I had to wait it out a couple of days, but I'm still here alive and kicking thank God. So much for treating myself. That was complete torture.

So that's my little update for now. I'll be back, I'm sure. Thanks for all the support and encouraging words. Helped a lot.


For more of Deb's articles, please visit: www.debrapasquella.com or join her on Facebook and Twitter. Check out her cooking blog for some of her famous recipes!

Wednesday, September 04, 2013

On "E"

My writing is becoming less and less. My desire to write has always been, yet I'm stifled and told to "shut up", or sometimes, "go fuck yourself". In about a year's time, I've lost my dad (yes you've all heard) and have gone through excruciating and underestimated chronic pain that I cannot take any longer. It's made my quality of life not worth living. I'm zombied out on Percocet, because I got an ulcer from NSAIDs and I can't take any other pain relievers. So I'm stuck with the stigma of an "addict" when in fact, it's for pain only. So I sweat it out for a week or two without meds, screaming and crying in pain all night without a wink of sleep. Then I'm a "nuisance" because many of the times my "level 10" pain requires trips to the ER. I've become a huge burden, on others and on myself. I can't live this way anymore. Please forgive me if my writing somewhat dissipates into another meaningless blog out there in cyberspace. I have no content, no material, nothing other than complaints. I feel dead inside. I'm running on "E".

For more of Deb's articles, please visit: www.debrapasquella.com or join her on Facebook and Twitter. Check out her cooking blog for some of her famous recipes!