Last Monday's Memory Keeper's Monday challenge was to create a page about ourselves to kick off the new year. Typically I do this anyway but I'm happy for the challenge as this was a year I really wanted to put behind me. Scrapping about it helped me gather my memories and take the good from them.
We were encouraged to make the page reflect our personality and style. My friends and family would certainly see that in my page. It uses lots of coordinated patterned paper (Sweet Threads by Basic Grey, my favorite collection of 2011) with a fabric theme no less. There is machine stitching, pretty ribbon and some handmade embellishments in a color scheme often found in my wardrobe. I love flowers.
But, if you look closer, you will see that it isn't all pretty paper and flowers here. There are little words tucked into the embellishments. Words like 'unsure, worried, vulnerable, nervous and adrift' certainly don't go with the sunny image of brightly colored flowers. They aren't the emotions I showed to the outside world either, at least I don't think I did.
Yet there they were all year long. For over a year I've been dealing with some stress related problems, primarily TMJ Syndrome. I've long been a 'clencher' meaning I clench and grind my teeth at night. I've worn a bite guard a long time with no real issues. Occasionally I'd have a little trouble and would get an adjustment to my guard or even a new one and things would go back to normal in a matter of days. I didn't give it much thought. That is until the summer of 2010. Since then the ear aches (soreness around the outside of the ear) and other symptoms have been in my head one way or another every day.
For some of us, the situation can be very minor for years or forever. For others, it can be a daily battle, even debilitating condition. I'm trying not to get to that extreme. Things have improved considerably. To get there I've tried several treatments that have worked and some that haven't. I work with an orthodontist so I'm not going it alone. I've spent a lot of money out of pocket. I've logged my pain and activities daily, bought a new mattress and countless pillows, changed my eatting habits including both food and the time of day I eat certain foods. It can be exhausting to adjust your daily routine so much.
"Frustrated" is probably the key word to sum up dealing with a disease that insurance companies rarely pay to treat and there is no branch of medicine dedicated to. I do not think those two things are a coincidence. What doctor would want to specialize in something that insurance doesn't often pay for?
While it is no picnic not knowing what will hurt if anything or how much from day to day, TMJ Snydrom is not life threatening. I've made numerous changes to my diet yet I won't die if I eat the wrong thing like a young women I met this week who had suddenly developed a severe peanut allergy and wonders what else she might eat that would land her again in the hospital. There are a lot worse things to have so I'm grateful for my general good health.
I'm grateful for a lot of things including all the lessons of the last year which brings me to the second page of this spread - what I learned:
Here is the list:
Everyone has problems.
“Nothing is forever.” – a phrase that can bring fear … or hope.
Compassion for people in chronic pain.
To trust my instincts. That means sometimes I have to back up or back out.
To take my time when making big decisions.
Nature heals and exercise really does make things better.
The benefits of physical therapy.
A way to do Yoga that works with my body.
My husband is an even more amazing man than I ever imagined.
To “do it anyway.”
Walking into a messy kitchen or finding clothes left on the floor aren’t the worst things in the world.
My best friend is ‘the best.’
To let go of people who aren’t supportive.
My parents and I can each have our own problems and still be there for each other.
What it means to ‘take it one day at a time.’
New definitions of ‘a good day.’
Ways to eat healthy, be satisfied and not be harmful.
The effects of acupuncture.
A greater understanding of the availability and application alternative medicine.
To let go of the money I may or may not have ‘wasted.’
Some of the benefits and the difficulties of medical insurance and our medical processes.
It is my body.
Tomorrow is another chance.
There were good things in 2011. I strengthened two close friendships. My relationship with my husband is even better than ever. I let go of some anger and relationships that weren't working for me but against me. I gained a couple of wonderful new clients. I spent more time crafting. I gained blog readers and met so many more people through message boards and reading your blogs, too.
I wasn't sure I wanted to share all this. However, I've gained encouragement from reading other blogs where the blogger shared their personal pain and gains about an illness or other struggle. I don't plan to talk about my situation often. Crafting is a good escape from whatever is going on and I'd like to keep it that way - mostly.
Thanks for listening! Gaining readers and finding new blogs to follow is high on my list of good things that came out of 2011.