The Importance of Access

It is no surprise to my faithful readers here that I have a chronic health condition. I was often sick as a child, but as an adult I had pretty good health, until 2013, when I was diagnosed with Rheumatoid Disease. I know, I'm walking old ground with this, but bear with me. It is important for people to know that autoimmune diseases like RD, Lupus, and MS are very expensive to treat. My own experience is with Rheumatoid Disease.

I have been in treatment with biologics since 2015. Biologics are a new class of medication that work by blocking something called Tumor Necrosis Factor (TNF) in the body. No, I can't be more specific than that, because I really don't understand myself. The best I can do is to say that the biologic meds I have taken have dampened my immune system so that it no longer attacks healthy tissue - well, at least for the most part. I've been treated with Enbrel, which worked for a short while, and now I am using Humira, which seems to be helping. Unfo…

Hope is in Short Supply

The past six months have been brutal. In addition to rheumatoid disease, my doctor suspects I have fibromyalgia, and that would explain the all-over body pain I've been fighting. It is bad enough to have your joints inflamed, swollen, and aching. Add in the feeling of coming down with the flu - throbbing muscles, pounding headache, incipient nausea - and you have a description of the past half-year for me.

My right knee has been swollen and very weak. After a couple of weeks of pain that I could manage, about two months ago, my right leg was in agony from hip to ankle. Driving was the worst - just the twenty minute drive to work was torture. I developed two large knots behind the knee, which was, itself, about the size of a grapefruit. I had an emergency appointment with my rheumatologist, who put a steroid shot into the knee, under the kneecap. In a joint so full of fluid, the addition of more liquid was almost unbearable. After another week or so, my knee began to respond to the…

Prologue: The Pied Piper

What's past is prologue.~ William Shakespeare

"When lo, as they reached the mountain-side, a wondrous portal opened wide, as if a cavern suddenly hollowed; the Piper advanced and the children followed..." ~ Robert Browning

Like most people, I use social media to express who I am, share what interests me, and stay in touch with people who matter to me. Lately, I have been scolded, manipulated, and mocked for my stance on politics, immediately followed by people insisting that I need to get with the program and support the incoming administration, because that is my duty as an American. Yesterday, a friend posted a request that people unite behind our leadership, regardless of how we voted, because we need to "come together" as a country and heal the divisions that have plagued us. I understand the request and what motivated it. Like most of us, she wants people to get along. She is tired of the fighting and is dismayed by what she sees around her. I get it, I do …

Blue Christmas

The tree is up. Stockings are hung. Most of the gifts are purchased and wrapping will begin in a day or two. My kids are safe and will be with me for Christmas. I have the next two weeks off. We will have (too much) food and we will have a lot of fun, I have no doubt. I am blessed, and I know it. I'm thankful.

But I am also deeply sad. Sometimes I find it difficult not to just break down and cry. I put on a carefully cheerful mask every day and I prop it up with smiles and laughter. Sometimes I even feel those happy feelings. Then darkness comes and I'm tired; I go to my room and settle in with my dogs, and the tears come.
I guess it would be wrong to start a post like this and not explain why I feel the way I do, but the truth is, I don't really understand it myself. Maybe that's why I'm writing this, to work it out and try to comprehend it. Terrible things have happened in the world - Syria, Aleppo, and South Sudan are a few examples. I think of the people who ar…

Rachel Weeping

"The Lord spoke to me again, saying: In Ramah there is bitter weeping - Rachel is weeping for her children and cannot be comforted, for they are no more." Jeremiah 31:15

Alton Sterling was thirty seven years old when he was shot and killed by police in Baton Rouge, after he was tasered and pinned to the ground by two officers on July 6th, 2016. Philando Castile was thirty two. He was shot and bled to death in his car in St Paul. He and his girlfriend were pulled over for a broken tail-light. Both Sterling and Castile were legally armed. In Sterling's case, Louisiana is an open carry state. Castile had a concealed-carry permit. The two men had one more thing in common. They were both black. 
Video of Alton Sterling's shooting exists. I watched it, and afterward, wished I had not. People must bear witness to these crimes, I know, but I will not soon forget hearing him ask in confusion, "What'd I do wrong?" as he is tasered and shoved over the hood of a ca…

Reflections on Love

It is February 13th. The stores are filled with roses, bouquets, beautiful boxes of candy and chocolates of every description; bakery windows are stuffed with heart-shaped cakes, cookies, and pink-frosted confections. Red streamers, glittering pink and red banners, teddy-bears, plushy bunnies and puppies, and even jewelry are prominently displayed everywhere I look. Valentine's Day is at hand, and here I am, single.

Valentine's Day as we celebrate it today is a holiday for lovers. Sweethearts buy each other flowers, candy, and other gifts. They make plans, have dinner, or go away for the weekend. Couples get engaged on Valentine's Day. There is a coalition of singles, an unspoken cadre of the unattached, who are supposed to be anti-Valentine's Day. They make plans to pig out on pizza and bash the idea of love and relationships. My married, or coupled, friends are careful not to talk about their Valentine's plans when I'm around. They don't talk about the gi…

Receiving the mark

Sharing again my thoughts on Ash Wednesday, written years ago. Now, I need to find a church and receive the ashes, begin my wilderness journey, and come closer to Christ.

Receiving the Mark On Ash Wednesday the Christian world begins its wilderness journey with Christ in commemoration of his forty days in the desert. At my church, the Sanctuary is quiet as we come forward in long, solemn lines to receive the ashes. Before me, I hear the ministers whisper about how we are all made of dust and must therefore return to dust – exhorting us to repent and believe what the Gospels have taught us. I pray the prayer of contrition, confess my sins before God. I stand with the rest, my forehead bare, waiting. Knowing that the season of Lent begins in that moment, when the minister’s finger draws the midnight-black cross on my skin, marking me as a follower of Jesus, as one who stands in solidarity with the Son of Man in his long suffering, his work for human-kind, and his violent death on a rough…