Tag Archives: spoonie

An Open Letter To Chronic Illness

We’ve not known each other long, dear, but you’ve insinuated yourself into every aspect of my life. In fact, there is not a part of my life that you’ve not touched, and I thought it was time I finally told you how I really feel about you.

I resented you when you first showed up. And honestly? There are still times where I resent your presence and everything it means. I hate all the things you’ve stolen from me, but more importantly, all the happiness I’ve let you take. I despise the impact you’ve had on me, my relationships, and my body.

But…

BUT.

Your arrival has changed my life in many positive ways, and for that, I must thank you. You’ve strengthened my relationship with my fiance, even while you’ve made life harder. Without your pushing your way into my life, I wouldn’t have found how strong I truly can be. I wouldn’t have met some of the most precious people I’ve ever known. I wouldn’t have followed my dreams.

I do hate how your presence means a revolving schedule of doctor appointments, medications, and sleepless nights. I don’t like our days spent curled up on the couch together or the times you keep me from my favorite activities.

But I have to admit I like how life has slowed down for me since you’ve been here. I am grateful for your forcing me to stop and smell the roses. Without you, I’d probably still be rushing about, now I know how to appreciate the quieter pace. When you came along and showed me how short and hard life can be, you taught me to treat every day as a gift, and I’ve tried very hard to do that.

Overall, I suppose I’m grateful for all you’ve taught me, though I wouldn’t say no if you wanted to take your leave. You’ve made me stronger and more compassionate, even while your pain feels as though it’s tearing me apart. The conundrum that is our relationship is both a blessing and a curse. And I suppose that’s the way it must be.

In closing, I must thank you for changing my life. For all the good, and yes, the bad as well. I suppose you’re now very much a part of me, and I don’t quite know what I’d do without you.

Keep on living, I guess.

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Truthful Tuesday: The #ChronicLife Edition

Since yesterday morning I’ve been live tweeting my life with chronic illness with the #ChronicLife experiment started by The Hurt Blogger.

I’m not sure what I expected when I decided to join in, but I certainly didn’t anticipate the overwhelming support and camaraderie. As I tweeted through failed naps, pain, and my daily events yesterday, I gained new followers, favorites, and retweets in droves. As my phone kept chiming, I stared in wonder. I will forever be grateful for this experience.

So today I decided to open myself up to questions, both from my followers, and anyone who might be curious about life with a chronic illness. In that same thread, I’m sharing a few bare truths here, things about life as a spoonie that no one really talks about. I hope you’ll follow along here, as well as on Twitter, and if there’s anything I haven’t covered, please go ahead and ask!

*I can’t tell you how many times I’ve wished for the automatic dryer/clothes dresser-robot-machine-thing from The Jetsons. Can one of y’all get to making that a reality?

*Shaving my legs is a luxury. I’d like to be one of those girls who can keep up on her personal appearance, but by the time I wash my hair and body, I’m exhausted. So I maybe shave once a month. It just requires so much energy, and very concentrated movements of my hands, which are often just too shaky.

*I stopped wearing my hair long because I would get migraines from wearing it piled on my head in a messy bun, and actually styling it took too many spoons. The short bob I sport now also helps hide the fact that my once thick hair is now thinning at an alarming rate. I lose handfuls of hair each day, a common side effect of many RA medications.

*Sometimes I do things even if I know they’ll hurt. Because sometimes I just want to feel normal for a little bit. So I’ll eat those crackers, even though they’ll aggravate my jaw and I’ll be in pain most of the night afterwards. Or I’ll spend time playing on the floor with my doggy, even though I know it’s hard for me to get back up again, and sitting cross-legged is very painful after only a few moments.

*I haven’t been able to fasten my own bra in over two years. I’ve tried even on “good” days, but turning my wrist that way sends shooting pains through my fingers and hand. Not to mention that hooking the clasps requires steady hands that I just don’t have anymore. Most days I wear a sports bra, otherwise I have to have my fiance help me.

What parts of every day life are affected by your chronic illness? Do you have a question about my life? Ask away, and follow along on Twitter!

#ChronicLife -This Is My Life

Last week I saw a tweet from one of my personal heroes, The Hurt Blogger. She was going to be live tweeting 48 hours in her life, in the hopes to better portray how life with a chronic illness, specifically Rheumatoid Arthritis/Autoimmune Arthritis, really is. No holds barred.

I was inspired, and decided I would join her. Today is Rheumatoid Arthritis Awareness Day, after all, and what better way to raise awareness? So today and tomorrow you can find me on Twitter and Instagram, showing my life without any filters.

Britt (The Hurt Blogger) set out some ground rules for her live tweeting, and I will be doing much the same. During this time frame, I will do my best to accurately portray my life- the good, the bad, and the painful. I will be sharing information about my medications, my routine, and my multiple chronic illnesses.

My goal is simple. I think I do so much to not focus on the negative aspects of life, that I don’t really show the “real” me. I don’t like to dwell on the pain, and so maybe y’all don’t realize how near constant it is. Maybe I don’t show the days where I don’t have enough spoons to manage a shower (like today) or just how twisted and swollen my hands and feet can get. So my goal is to show what I hide, as much as possible.

I hope you’ll follow along with me, and get a better picture of my life. Not because I want your sympathy, but because with more understanding we can make strides in awareness. And more awareness can hopefully lead to more research, better treatment, and a cure.

Small Victories Sunday: What A Week

The lovely Miss Tanya from Mom’s Small Victories has been completing #NaBloPoMo along side myself and others this month. She’s been a great inspiration in our little Facebook writing group, and though I was aware of her site before, it’s been wonderful getting to know her a bit better, and connecting with a fellow RA fighter.

On Sundays, Tanya hosts a link up to share our victories and inspiring posts to help others live the very best lives. All month I’ve been wanting to link up, but one thing or another prevented me. Mostly, my silly head telling me I didn’t have any victories. Pfft.

Small Victories LinkUp

This week was a whirlwind in my house, and though there was much stress and pain, I ended it on a wonderful high note. And so that is my victory.

Last night I dressed up, did my makeup and hair, and went out to watch my fiance play. Sure, I’m still battling these awful headaches with the TMJ, and yeah, at home with my heating pad was probably where I should have been. But I adore watching him play, and I knew my soul needed to see something other than my own four walls.

And you know what? I got the best compliment last night.

“You look like the old Tia again.”

I know that might seem silly, or possibly even insulting, to some of you. But it meant a lot to me. I don’t *want* to look sick. I don’t want to look like the pain that is ravaging my body. Sure, it might make some social situations different if people could see what I go through, but I don’t want their pity. And that’s what it would be, if people could see.

Last night was wonderful for so many reasons. Yes, I’m paying for it today. But for a brief moment in time, I was the old me again, and it felt good. It felt really good. And now I know, it is possible to meld these two people together, to have the old me and this new me inhabit the same body, and to become the very best me. Someone who can celebrate life, even at a dark moment.

Someone I adore dearly is also out there being awesome despite chronic illness. If you missed it yesterday, be sure to check out my interview with Dawnie. She shares how she’s living a life full of victories, no matter what.

What is YOUR victory this week? Link up with us, or share it in the comments. Let’s celebrate together, I’ll bring the dessert!

Living Better: Interview With My Guru

Dawnie is my personal guru and all around speaker of all the wisdom.She has battled chronic illness for the better part of a decade, and uses the knowledge she’s gained to help others on their paths. She can be found sharing her life at The Dawnie Project.

LBMyGuru

Dawnie recently agreed to let me interview her. It went something like this.

1. You were the first person to introduce me to Christine’s Spoon Theory, and the term spoonie. I distinctly remember that moment, because it changed how I saw myself, and how I could understand my new life. How did you learn of the Spoon Theory and was it a similar experience for you?

When I was first diagnosed I went into shock with anger. It was two and a half years in. I had spent that time trying to fix my pain, only to be told that I had an incurable condition. I spent a few months feeling sorry for myself, pushing everyone away. Then I woke up in the acceptance stage and started looking for a support group. I believe it was the second meeting when someone mentioned the spoon theory. I looked it up online, and had my a-ha moment. That was the day I stopped treating myself like I was sick, and started advocating instead. I no longer wanted people to think of me as broken, but rather to understand why 9 out of 10 times I had to say no but that it was worth asking me for that 1 time I could say yes.

2. You’re one of the few people I know who have found a balance between western and alternative medicine, and a medical team who works with you to maintain this balance. Can you share some tips for people who are looking to incorporate more homeopathic means of care?

The first few years post diagnosis were filled with specialists providing opinions on various treatments to help with issues connected to my condition. When a doctor suggested I join a drug trial not yet approved in the US I stopped. I fired all my specialists and told my family doctor I wanted to try alternative medicine. I got lucky that she agreed to help me.

I found an acupuncturist who worked on my allergies, my pain, and my insomnia. Within a year I went from 9 drugs a day down to 2. I then took a leap of faith and flew to NY to see a homeopathic doctor who started in western medicine and tired of seeing his colleagues push drugs. He walked me through a variety of tests to determine what supplements my body was lacking, what supplements my body could handle, and what foods might boost my immune system without adding to the imbalance. He was expensive ($1500 plus travel) but he might have saved my life.

Homeopathic medicine doesn’t work for everyone, just as western medicine doesn’t. Western medicine failed me, but that’s not the fault of the drugs. My body simply didn’t react as expected. I think anyone with a chronic or incurable condition should research all options for relief. Acupuncture and supplements combined with a specific diet put my condition into remission, but I know a dozen others it didn’t help. If I could offer one piece of advice it would be to knowledge share for research purposes. Oh, and fire any doctor who won’t listen to you with compassion and empathy.

3. We all have days where we pull the covers back up stay in bed. What are your go-to comforts for those yucky days?

Remission doesn’t mean every day is a good one. I still have side effect conditions that are active, and flares now and then. When that happens I like to curl up on the couch with a fuzzy blanket, some hot tea, and whatever movies I’m in the mood for.

4. You’re a frequent traveler, both around the US, as well as a recent trip to Africa. What are your top tips for making a vacation as great as possible, in spite of chronic illness?

I’ve always loved to travel, and for the first few years of my condition I wasn’t able to, because I told myself it was too hard. I let myself take the easy way out and suffered because of it. Eventually I buckled down and made a list of what it would take to make travel work for me again. My packing list expanded to include drugs, supplements, teas, heating pad, slippers, and whatever else I would need to give me the comforts of home. I researched my destination to learn the layout, as well as travel to get there. If flying I made sure I had an aisle seat so I could move around. If driving I looked up rest stop locations so I knew how many miles between. I packed snacks that I might not find on my travels. I did whatever it took to reduce the stress of the unknown. I became an over packer, but it was worth it to be able to go.

5. Something we’ve discussed much here on the blog, as well as in many conversations you and I’ve shared, is the effects stress can have on our symptoms, and possible flares. How do you combat the everyday stress of money, life, family, etc?

Having a chronic incurable condition is going to be stressful, even in remission. That’s life. The best thing you can do for yourself is to stop fighting it. Accept your limitations, decide how you’re going to work around them, how you plan to occasionally test them, and then live your life. You will never be the person you were, because people change with time. Deal with it.

6. Because of you, and friends like you, I’ve been encouraged to chase dreams, in spite of chronic illness. What is something you’ve done since your diagnosis which you never dreamed you’d be able to achieve? What goal are you currently working towards?

I have always wanted to travel to Africa and the Serengeti. After being diagnosed I thought it would be impossible. There were simply too many comforts of home I would have to leave behind. What if I’m in pain there? What if I get sick? What if I stop worrying about what if and start plotting how to make it work?

It took a 20 hour flight to get there, with 6 days in the wild tracking the great migration, and then a 25 hour flight home. Without a doubt I had to let go of comforts of home to make it happen. But it was worth every moment. When you let go of your fear and anxiety you discover a whole new world of possibility. Driving around on bumpy dirt roads in an old jeep wasn’t easy on the body, but then we’d stop twenty feet from a lion resting on the side of the road and it would take your breath away. Suddenly that ache didn’t feel so bad anymore.

My next goal? I haven’t dreamt it yet. Whatever it is, I’ll find a way to make it happen.

 

I can’t thank Dawnie enough for sitting down with me to share her wisdom with all my readers. If you’d like to know more about her and her path, be sure to follow along at The Dawnie Project. 

Living Better: A Spoonie’s Holiday Wishlist

The holidays are steadily approaching, and while I know it’s not quite Thanksgiving yet, some of us may be trying to get a jump start on Christmas shopping. If you’re a spoonie, pass this post along to your family and friends with your favorite choices highlighted. If you love a spoonie, I created this list to help you know what kinds of things will cheer them up AND help them to find a bit of comfort.

LivingBetter

 

 

Heating Pads

Whether it’s a nifty one that has pockets to also warm your hands, or if it’s homemade, a heating pad is a spoonie’s best friend. Pinterest has many tutorials on how to make your own, so if you’re feeling crafty, you’re set. If you’re not so crafty, standard electric heating pads can be found at any of your major home retailers.

Ice Packs

The flip side of needing heat for aching muscles, spoonies also rely on ice packs for swollen joints. I personally like the first aid style ones that can be reused over and over. They’re not terribly expensive, and can offer much relief to those who suffer with chronic pain.

Fuzzy Blankets

Or really, fuzzy anything. Socks, a robe, blankets, pajamas. Soft, warm fabric is a wonder, especially this time of year. If you are purchasing clothing, please keep in mind particular limitations that may exist, ie swollen fingers and such. So avoid zippers and buttons, and steer more towards loose clothing. If you’re not sure about something, stick to the safer bets of blankets and socks. Everyone loves a fuzzy blanket.

Entertainment

Many who battle chronic illness feel isolated, especially during the colder months when their outings are more limited due to the weather and the increased germs (yay flu season). Gifting them with entertainment options is a great idea, and there are many choices. Movies, puzzle books, or a gift subscription to a streaming service like Netflix or Hulu are all wonderful choices.

Pampering

Some might think this is only for women, but I beg to differ. Everyone likes to feel pampered, and when your body is often in pain, anything to help you feel good is pampering. Candles, body wash, lotions- They can all make a person feel better about themselves, and help to boost their spirits. A note of caution: please check with your loved one about scent sensitivities. If you’re unsure, go with unscented just to be safe.

Treats

I happen to prefer chocolate, but I have friends who prefer cookies or cupcakes. This can be a hard category if you don’t know your spoonie very well, as often spoonies have certain diet restrictions. If you’re not sure, or just want to play it safe, look into gift cards for places you know they like, or ones that have a wide variety of options, so your loved one will be sure to find something they like and can have without risking a flare.

LoveandTime

You might think this is a cop-out, but I’m here to tell you this is the greatest gift I can receive. A simple card in the mail or a phone call can brighten my day and costs very little. Want something tangible to give? Make coupons! Little IOUs that your loved one can cash in when they’re feeling up to it. Offers can include taking them shopping one afternoon, helping them with chores, a movie date, or a home-cooked meal from you. These might not seem like much to you, but can be the greatest gift to your loved one.

I hope this list has helped you choose some gifts for the spoonies in your life. Over the last three years with RA, I’ve received all of these at one time or another, and I can promise you that they warmed my heart more than words can say.

What would YOU add to this list? What is on your wishlist to help you live better?

 

Ask Away Friday, My Interview

I recently saw an article on Facebook titled something along the lines of, “20 Questions You Should Ask Your Partner Before Agreeing To Marry Them.” Since I’ve already agreed to marry Scotty, it seemed a little superfluous to start asking him these questions now, and most of them I already knew the answer to. Mostly because we talked a lot in those early days of dating, and also because I like to be nosy.

Anyhow, it got me to thinking, and I asked Scotty if he’d be willing to interview me for this week’s round of #AskAwayFriday. Shockingly, he agreed. (I was shocked because he’s had a crazy long week at work and tons of stress. The last thing he needs is another project. And yet, I gave him one. Aren’t I sweet?)

So here you have it, the ten questions Scotty just had to know about me. Who wants to lay bets on whether he’ll still want to marry me after he reads my answers?

1. What is your biggest pet peeve?

Oy. I actually have a couple that annoy me equally, but if I had to narrow it down, I would say: People who smack their food while talking. And yes, I am aware your father does this. And yes, he is aware it annoys me. And yes, I know that’s why he still does it.

2. Here’s a repeat from the swap I did with Tracie’s husband: If someone had never read your blog before, which post would you want them to read first?

First, I loved how Thomas answered this one, because I, too, am struck by Tracie’s free-writing about seemingly innocuous things. Second, it’s really hard for me to choose. If they were trying to get to know me, Just One…But So Much More, Who I Am, or any of the Ask Away Friday posts are a great start.

3. What do you consider the best thing (fact/life lesson/moment) that your son has shared with you?

Ooh, breaking out the big guns. Especially since you know how awesome this kiddo is. I’d have to say last summer when he was listening to Linkin Park, and was making connections with their lyrics to the issues currently facing our world, like equality and gun control. For him to have such insight at such a young age…I was blown away. And hopeful. Hopeful that he’ll continue to be such a deep and free thinker, and that he’ll someday use that mind to help change the world.

4. Board games or video games?

While I do enjoy Mario Kart and other games on the Wii U with you, I really prefer board games or even card games. They remind me of my childhood, and of spending time with my grandmother. Also, I’m fairly evenly matched against you when technology isn’t involved 😉

5. What is your favorite holiday, and why?

I love to celebrate, so I really love all holidays. Probably New Year’s is my favorite, though. I love the idea of starting anew, and getting a fresh start. Yes, I probably have made and broken tons of resolutions, but…it’s more about the excitement and the infectious feeling that suddenly anything is possible once again.

6. You have 24 hours to show a friend around our great state of Oregon. If sleep wasn’t required and money were no object, where would you take your friend?

Hrms. Well, it kinda depends on the friend, now doesn’t it? Certain friends have different interests, and Oregon has a little of something to offer everyone. But some basics I think everyone should see:

Crater Lake

source
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The Coast

7. You have been fighting invisible illnesses for some time now, starting with your diagnosis of RA almost three years ago. What do you know now that you wish you had known then?

I wish I had known what a huge and wonderful support system the online spoonie community is. It took me somewhere around six to nine months to stumble across the first chronic illness forums, and (as you may remember) those were months spent suffering without much hope. I also wish I had known that I could question my doctors, request second opinions, and do my own research. I went so blindly in the beginning, and some of those choices have caused damage that cannot be repaired.

8. If someone made a movie about your life, who would you want to play you? And who would have supporting roles?

I would love for Melissa McCarthy to play me. I adore her sense of humor, and I think we kinda resemble one another (she says humbly). As for supporting roles, I think Seth Rogan would be a good you. He’s funny and quirky, which are two things I love about you. Then we could cast Jonah Hill as Seth! And how about Christina Hendricks as Kristen, but mostly because of that gorgeous red hair. And Jerry Stiller could play your dad :p

9. You sang in school choir when you were growing up. If you could sing like any particular vocalist, who and why?

When I was younger, I dreamed of being the next Mariah or Whitney. Now though? I would love to be able to sing and write like Adele. In my grandest dreams, I can sing like Adele and I have a band where I do covers of all my favorite rock songs, in ballad form. Because I’m quirky like that.

10. Your love for Linkin Park is well known. Were you a fan of them before seeing them live in concert, or afterward?

I was a fan of them from the moment I saw them on one of the award shows in 2000, performing One Step Closer. I bought Hybrid Theory and those are the songs I hummed to my newborn child as I rocked him to sleep. I never looked back, either. I’ve loved every album they’ve put out, and seeing them live for my 25th birthday was one of the greatest gifts ever. I would love to see them again, and to get to take you and the kiddo.

 

Well, Scotty says he’ll still marry me, despite some of my answers :p So yay! Hopefully y’all enjoyed this take on Ask Away Friday. If you’d like to swap questions with me, shoot me an email at becominneurotic@gmail.com or check out the Facebook group. Scotty and I are off to enjoy a quiet weekend at home, hopefully curled up with a funny movie and some boardgames 🙂

 

Top Five Thursday: De-Stressing

I had a really hard time writing today. Which, when you’re posting every day, is something to be expected from time to time. Also, my brain has been pretty bogged down with stress.

One of the biggest battles I face as a spoonie, is reducing stress and stress management. We all know that, while stress does not cause our illnesses, it can exacerbate symptoms and cause flare ups. Stress management is key.

I’ve been working with my therapist and my doctors to learn better coping skills, and find areas in my life where I can cut out potential stressors. Still, life has a way of sneaking up on me every now and again. This week would be one of those times.

And so, I thought instead of just working on me, I would share my top five ways to de-stress, in case life was being mean to anyone else lately.

*Music. I know I say this a lot, but music really is one of my greatest tools. It soothes me while allowing me to sing along and express whatever emotions are clogged up within me. Also, music varies, so there’s always something to fit whatever your mood. Rock is my go-to, but sometimes I can be found crooning along with something soft and slow.

*Distraction. Sometimes it’s scrolling Pinterest, sometimes it’s playing silly games on my phone, sometimes it’s trashy TV. The point is to find something to pull your mind from whatever is stressing you out.

*Writing. Journaling has become a great tool since I started therapy. I used to think that my journals had to be neat and edited, like my writing here. A good friend helped open my eyes to the wonders of scribbling. Now my journaling is just about getting the thoughts that are swirling around my head out onto the paper. And to be honest, there’s a part of me that feels a little better to just doodle and scribble instead of making it all neat.

*Creativity. Coloring or crafting, as long as it involves using my brain for something fun, it counts. Spilling all my mental energy into crafting new cards, scrapbooking, or even photo editing takes all the power away from the stressful thoughts. I can’t be worried about money while I’m coloring in Winnie The Pooh, it just isn’t compatible. Try it sometime.

*Talking. Just like writing, this works to get the thoughts out of my head. Talking them out with someone- a therapist, a friend, a family member, your spouse- can also often help you see a solution where there wasn’t one a moment ago. And even if you don’t need any answers, but just to vent, talking is still a great tool.

These are not my only tools, but they’re the five which help me the most. What tools do you use to combat stress and worry?

Cooking With Spoonies: Homemade Mac N Cheese

I know it’s been forever since I’ve shared a recipe with y’all. So what better time than when I’m posting every day for #NaBloPoMo?

I made this awesomeness for dinner last night, and Scotty loved it. Actually, it was his suggestion that I share this with you. Because he’s awesome.

If you’re on a restrictive diet, this may not be for you. But if you’re having a rough day, this is relatively simple. And it makes a ton, so it’s good for those upcoming holiday potlucks. Because, seriously, who doesn’t like mac n cheese?

(I also made cream cheese frosted brownies for dessert because comfort food.)

Homemade Mac N Cheese (Shortcut Style!)

I boiled a one pound package of little shells. (Yes, I realize the name implies that it should be made with elbow macaroni, but I prefer little shells.) I salted the water heavily because you ALWAYS should salt your pasta water. I cooked the pasta just this side of al dente. You don’t want to cook the pasta too long, because it’ll become mushy when it bakes later.

Once I drained the pasta, I stirred in one jar of Prego Double Cheddar Cheese sauce and one regular sized can of Campbell’s Cheddar Cheese condensed soup, with no added water.

I then spread half of the pasta mixture in a 13×9 glass baking dish that I had sprayed with non-stick cooking spray. I covered that layer with about 3/4 cup shredded cheddar cheese. Then I spread the rest of the pasta mixture, and covered that with 3/4 cup shredded Monterrey jack cheese. (We like things cheesy around here.)

I covered the pan with foil and baked it at 350 F for 20 minutes. I then removed the foil, and baked it for another 10-15 minutes until it’s bubbling and the cheese is fully melted.

We had just this for dinner last night, but plan to serve the leftovers with BBQ pulled pork sammies later this week. Obviously you could make so many adjustments: You could add bacon, or ham. You could switch the style of pasta or the kinds of cheese. You could make your own cheese sauce rather than using store-bought.

I did it this way because it was easiest for my hands and my energy levels. I imagine there are some moms out there who wouldn’t mind a “homemade” mac n cheese that is as easy as what comes in the box, but sooooo much yummier, and makes a great big amount.

I hope you all enjoy this as much as Scotty and I did! How do YOU like your mac n cheese?

Hurt By Strangers

I will never understand why it’s so hard for me to accept the compliments from loved ones, yet it’s so very easy for me to internalize the hurtful looks and snide comments from strangers.

I suppose this is just one of the many things I should be working on in therapy.

This past Sunday was grocery shopping day at my house. So while my post talking about being strong and brave was making the rounds, I was going from store to store to stock our cupboards and fridge.

Grocery day always wipes me out, and I’ve been nursing a tender Achilles’ tendon on my right ankle, so by the second store, I was ready to break down and use a motorized cart. Except they didn’t have any available. So I leaned heavily on the cart as I limped my way through the store. By checkout, I was toast.

I don’t know if it’s this way for anyone else, but as my pain increases, all my defenses crumble. That shield I hold up to keep out the judging stares? Yeah, it becomes dust as the pain and exhaustion overwhelm me. Scotty knows this, and so he took me home to regroup after that second store, even though we had a few more stops to make.

I rested up, re-sorted my coupons and shopping list, and then we headed back out.

I should have known better.

But I’m stubborn, and wanted to complete our list instead of pushing it off to another day.

Now Walmart isn’t generally known for its warm and fuzzy clientele or staff, so I really shouldn’t have been surprised. But I like to keep thinking there’s a bit of good left in the world, and so I was surprised.

As I limped into the store, I gasped in relief to see there was one motorized cart left. And then I crumpled as another woman approached the cart. What ensued was nothing short of shocking. She offered for me to take the cart, but then proceeded to act like I was stealing right from under her. Scotty’s hackles were raised as he squared off with the woman, trying to explain my condition and pleading for understanding. The woman stormed off after yelling at me, “I have problems, too!”

I sunk into the seat and held back the tears.

Only to turn the corner and see the Walmart greeter (who had surely witnessed everything) glaring at me with contempt.

Y’all, I nearly broke right there.

I wish I could have screamed at everyone watching, “I don’t want to be here! I don’t want to NEED this damn cart! I DON’T WANT TO BE SICK AND HURTING!”

Instead, I mustered what little dignity I had left and apologized to the employee as I rolled past.

I made it through the rest of our shopping and into the car before I let the tears come.

I know this isn’t new to any of my #spoonie pals. We’ve all faced judgement and scorn in the face of our invisible illnesses. The surprising part to me, I suppose, is that incidents like this could still hurt me. I’d like to think I’ve built up a pretty thick skin these past three years. Goodness knows I’ve had plenty of practice at it.

But I was hurting, badly, and exhausted with it. So my defenses were down.

And here’s where we are. It’s Tuesday and her actions are still bothering me. The dirty looks of all who were watching are flooding my mind and eating away at me. All the good thoughts and happiness that has been poured over me in the last few days is soothing, but the hurt is still there.

My therapist, not to mention many of my dear friends, always tells me to write things out when they’re invading my mind. It doesn’t take the hurt away, but sometimes it helps me process it a bit better. So here I am, sharing this hurt with the world. Knowing that I’m not alone, and this probably won’t be the last time something like this happens.

All the while praying I’ll be stronger next time.

What do you do when a stranger hurts your feelings? What would you have done in my position?