Saturday, June 13, 2015

Summer Memories

I grew up in the deep South so summer was not always my least favorite time of year. Getting out of school, riding bikes, sitting in the sunshine, cutting grass, helping my Daddy with his garden were all things I enjoyed doing. There was nothing like peeling a cucumber from the garden and enjoying every bite while I picked vegetables. We also spent a good part of the summer with a metal dish pan in our laps shelling peas and butter beans - my least favorite thing to do. Now I'd give anything to have some of those wonderful fresh vegetables.

Then I was diagnosed with lupus. The sun became my enemy. It caused a great deal of damage before I knew what was going on. Small town doctors didn't know what was going on. They only knew I was covered in red rashes, ran high fevers, and was sick most of the time. So I suffered on and kept going. It wasn't until the extreme stress of caring for my dad and brother while working full time and losing them both to death that pushed it all to the surface. I had been diagnosed by another doctor a couple of years before then, but he said, "we won't worry about it now." And he didn't. I didn't know any better at that time.

Sad part is my body had already acquired a great deal of damage, irreparable damage, due to lack of diagnosis and treatment. I almost died a couple of times, spent many years in and out of the hospital and ER, and went through countless medications that did more damage. The stress of dealing with all this alone made it worse. It still does. Unlike my mother, whom I took care of for years, and my father, whom I took care of for years, and my only brother whom I took care of for a year before he died from cancer, I don't have a caregiver. I don't have a support system. I have very few friends. It amazed me the most when all those wonderful friends I had suddenly disappeared when I became so sick. I'm not alone in that experience. I hear it from others who suffer from this disease all of the time. The best I can hope for is not to die alone and if I do, I hope someone finds me.

Summer memories were not so bad growing up. Fresh vegetables were the best part. My Daddy grew a big garden in our backyard. There was always fresh peas, tomatoes, watermelons,  cucumbers, even lettuce for me (which he called rabbit food). I miss those times.

What I wouldn't give for a fresh tomato sandwich, a slice of watermelon, fresh peas and cucumbers today. But there is no bread, tomatoes, or fresh vegetables in my home.  With my low income being squeezed to the maximum due to medication and medical costs, I am left to survive on very little food, none of which is fresh. I still crave a big red juicy apple with that tomato sandwich.

A while ago I searched around the pantry to find something good. Instead I found canned vegetables that had been in there for a few years. Expired? Yes. Will I keep them? Yes. I may need them to survive.

With most people going out to eat a great deal of time, no thought is given to ones who have to count every single penny. I guess you truly don't appreciate what you have until it is gone. That goes for family, friends, good doctors, people who care and food.

I'd be more than happy to sit with a metal dish pan in my lap right now shelling peas and butter beans. My mother would be so pleased to hear this.

Still striving to move back to the deep South. At least I can get help when I need it, food, be close to the hospital. But it takes every penny just to keep body and soul together. So thankful for my friend who sends me cat food. So thankful they don't suffer. I've learned many lessons by moving to KY. People are the same no matter where you go. Most are so consumed with their own families they can't or won't step out beyond that comfort zone to help. I believe if I stood on my porch and screamed "HELP!!!" the only thing that would happen would be a visit from the local police to put me in the mental health ward. I've accepted the fact I won't have a family or be a part of one.

I have accepted the fact that I can no longer walk to the store to buy groceries. The weather, damage to my body, damage to my back and inability to balance on numb and useless feet and legs make it hard just to walk a block.

Every day I ask God to provide the funds I need to move home, a place to live and the physical strength to make it. As each day passes, I lose some more strength, a little more hope, and give up a little bit more.

The heat is wreaking havoc on my body. It is as if this horrible disease is magnified from it. Even though the heat is worse in AL, I know the help is there, the help I need to make it day to day. What a bad choice I made to move. There was so much hope.


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