Category Archives: treatment

>Isn’t life Ironic?

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Hello Everyone!

Last post I addressed the sense of Victimization that some of experience when faced with challenges. For some of us, yes me, the Victim role is like an old comfy piece of clothing. It’s comfortable, but out of style and threadbare; it’s no longer flattering or particularly useful. And yet, you can’t bring yourself to throw it away.
When I got the news yesterday that my end of treatment date is Feb 11th naturally I was relieved. Finally an end to this crazy sick fever dream I’ve been living in for most of the past year. And yet I found myself feeling, well, a little afraid. I realized that when treatment ends that means I have to venture into my proverbial closet and find a new outfit and it can’t be the comfy cloak of Victimhood that I have, quite honestly, donned too often throughout the past year.
After freaking out about that for a while I realized for the 100,00th time that panic has never made any situation more manageable. I don’t have to have all the answers yet. I still need time to recover, to (hopefully) get my thought processes a little more clear and if I keep following my heart I will know what’s right for me.
I also realized that I’ve been feeling a little pressured by others, some well meaning, others critical and judgmental, that there is this expectation that I will return to work and life will be normal. Frankly I don’t see myself working full time, but I may have some opportunities for flexible work. Disability allows recipients a certain number of hour’s employment, and if I could supplement my fixed income a bit, feel useful and still have time for my writing and self care. I think I’d be living a pretty sweet life. It’s an empty page, not empty but filled with notes, scribbles and ideas. I like to think of myself as an explorer, an adventurer seeking to discover my own passage, my own path to the next chapter. When I look at it that way, as opposed to the confused, frightened Victim I realize I can take that little girl by the hand and say “hey kid, it’s gonna be ok, I’m gonna show you the world and you’ll never have to be afraid again.

© 2010 Jennifer Hazard
Image Courtesy of The Graphics Fairy

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>New Year, No Pressure

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 Happy New Year!!

I’ve been “writing” my New Years blogs in my mind (yeah that’s how I roll) all week. This time of year I like to take stock of the past year, do a little self inventory as they say in recovery, and then think about what I’d like to see happen in the upcoming year. You might notice I don’t use words like, “goals”, “life plan” or “resolutions”. I never really learned about the concept of “goals” until later in life and for some reason (unfamiliarity? Corporate overuse?) the word still makes me bristle a bit.
In keeping with the recurring theme of irony that is my life, it was about the time that I began to internalize the concept and actually create some goals that life yanked the tablecloth out from under my neatly arranged plans like a second rate magician trying unsuccessfully to pull the tablecloth from under the china. My finely laid table was a shambles of chipped china, scattered silver and spilled glasses. Like most survivors I know how to pick up the pieces that are still useful, repair what I can and discard the rest.
Resetting my table is pretty much the forte, and maybe that’s why I have always avoided planning ahead. I’m certain that there are many people out there who will insist that recurring chaos is the result of poor planning rather than an excuse for it and they are probably right, and yet so am I.  If I’ve learned one thing in this life it is that seemingly paradoxical truths can exist and be valid at the same time. On a good day life is a theater of the absurd in my eyes, on a bad day well; let’s just say I lose my sense of humor at times.
As far as resolutions or goals, I’m functioning on a pretty primal level right now. Goal 1) Eat more than once a day. Goal 2) Get out of bed every day. Yeah, ambition is not high on the list right now. On the other hand I have accomplished several things I probably would not have if I’d been working full time. I have two regular blogs that I do a fair job of keeping up with. I have been designing my own website which is actually finally presentable (see link at bottom of page). I’ve done a lot of crafting and artwork I’ve always wanted to do. I’ve gotten to know many people online in various communities who share many of the same interests and concerns that I am passionate about. And I’ve spent a lot of quality time with my family both human and four legged.
The Big question mark hovers over the statement “after treatment…” It’s difficult to even visualize that place, the place that exists beyond treatment like some kind of magical isle that disappears into the mist. As synchronicity would have it I recently stumbled across a post by one of my fellow Hep C bloggers that pretty well sums up the mists that obfuscate the future and allow us to cherish each day as it is. I hope you will enjoy reading it as much as I did http://ianquill.blogspot.com/



© 2010 Jennifer Hazard



My Website-
www.nanakoosasplace.com  www.whitewaveconsulting.org  
check “em out, I’d love some feedback.


Thank You and have a blessed and healthy 2011!!!

Geographical Relocation

It has taken months of vacillating, debating and false starts but I finally decided it was time to change residence. My former flat had, through numerous recent circumstances, gradually drifted out of that region known as “my price range” like a rogue balloon.  I cast back and forth between enduring the stress of moving vs. the stress of having basically no money and finally decided to resume my search for a smaller, more affordable apartment.  After finding a few affordable, but unattractive prospects and/or being denied because of pets or credit history,  I finally stumbled across an upper flat only 3 blocks from my former duplex.

Everything seemed to fall into place perfectly, which my former AODA counselor used to say was a sign that you were on the right path. I was able to qualify for funding from a local Advocacy agency to help with the moving costs,  I hired movers for the first time in my life and on November 2,  I moved into my new digs.
It’s a cute place, it has character, a huge kitchen,  a sizable balcony/upper porch and lots of closet space. Like many of the houses in my neighborhood it’s probably between 80-100 years old and was very likely a single family home that was converted into a flat sometime around the 1940’s, which is partially what gives it it’s unique character and floor plan, (and tiny bedrooms!)
Now, my sole purpose for moving was to save money, which I will eventually (the movers cost twice what they’d estimated) but it also was an important step for me to make this decision and go with it while in the midst of treatment for Hep C which leaves me with sporadic motivation and low (if any) energy.  I knew I would be doing a lot of the work alone and I knew it would, frankly, knock me on my ass for a few days. I also knew it needed to be done and it was up to me to make it happen.
In addiction “Geographical Relocation” is a trick that people frequently use on themselves and their loved ones to create a sense of false hope for interpersonal change. “Once we get out of this neighborhood with all our history/ with all the bars/ with all our “using friends”/ (fill in any appropriate external force of control that is preventing change) “things will change”.  Of course as we all know, we take our problems with us because our problems don’t live in the house, or the bar or in our friends, but within us.  Naturally, with my History, I’ve dragged myself, my family and all my personal belongings down that Yellow Brick Road many times, and learned the same lesson that Dorothy ultimately learned; “Over the Rainbow” is within us all, we only need to look inside to find it.
After moving, not surprisingly I was exhausted. Not just moving exhausted but being on toxic treatment and overdoing it exhausted. Enter, stage left, sick grandchildren and next thing I know I am sick as a proverbial dog. After two days of not keeping any food down and basically sleeping the entire time, I came back to the real world long enough to realize I had a counseling session scheduled with my therapist that day. I gave him a call to let him know I wouldn’t be there and why. His response was “oh no everything was supposed to be okay after you moved”
Hmmm, really?
Did I give the impression that I believed that? Did I imply I was falling for the old “Geographical Relocation” self scam? I’m  pretty sure I did not, and yet his response irritated me at the time.  I wasn’t sure if he was being facetious or….what. I responded by telling him that I was simply sick with a bug, no deeper meaning attached, and things will be fine.
Funny how once we’ve travelled the Yellow Brick Road, learned our lesson and moved on, we still carry the stigma of our old ways, even if only in our own minds.

© 2010 Nanakoosa’s Place, authored by Jennifer Hazard


DV awareness, are we really aware?

As part of my small but determined contribution to Domestic Violence Awareness month I’d like to say a few things. First having an “awareness month” for anything evokes mixed feelings for me. No one can argue against dedicating time to increase awareness of a social issue and it provides opportunities for survivors to be heard. But what, I wonder, does it really accomplish? Do people carry that awareness with them for the rest of the year? Does the help increase additional funding and programs?  Does the publicity really illuminate the experience and challenges of what families of D.V. face?  Are people told that every day women are turned away from shelter because there are no beds? Do people know that women, and even children turn to prostitution as a way to escape their abuser? Or how many women turn to alcohol and/or drugs to escape the reality of their miserable lives, to quell the fear that quakes in their stomach most of the day? And how about the long terms effects of living in a heightened state of fight or flight; how that changes your brain functions and disrupts serotonin and cortisol? There is a phenomenon known as complex PTSD, which is the result of long term regular exposure to trauma. How about the kids who grow up under these conditions? These kids brains are forming and developing under these conditions what does this say for their prognosis as adults? And given that fact how many of these children go on to become abused or abusers themselves?

There is a lot of emphasis put on getting women out of abusive relationships, or preventing them from getting into them in the first place (most of which are ineffective), but there is little long term support for women and children to assist them with the ongoing issues that linger even after leaving the relationship. And what about then abusers? They are basically lumped into one category…abusers, and yet there are different types of abuse. The Coercive control type is probably the most dangerous and the most difficult to treat. Men who use coercive control are the horror stories we hear about not letting their partner work, attend school, go out with friends and tend to more physically violent and very clever in their skills of manipulation. Abusers are dealt with via the criminal justice system, they generally don’t do much time and  they are usually mandated to attend some kind of “anger management” program. It takes more than a few weeks of anger management for someone to change a lifetimes worth of conditioning and damage that makes someone capable of hurting the people they love. violent behavior is often a mental health issue and needs to be treated as such.  Just as we have to listen to victims to understand their needs, we have to listen to perpetrators to understand why they do what they do, to begin to understand ways to effectively intervene. I sincerely believe that, with some possible exceptions, most abusers don’t want to be abusers, just like most addicts don’t want to be addicts, but there are some behaviors that are formed early on in life that effect us in ways we can’t control…until we learn differently. There are ways to do this, but they are not quick fixes, they don’t come in a pill and they are not applied, or even taught to most service providers. There are a lot of things that are changing in the world. 20 years ago a woman would have to press charges against her abuser or he was off the hook, there were fewer resources for help for families experiencing violence, and women were less likely to come forward and ask for help.
We have moved forward in so many areas of response to DV and that is a wonderful thing, but we need to continue to move forward, to always be open to examining new interventions and solutions to problems, and to not be afraid to try something new. This is the kind of awareness I choose to focus on, to dig deep to look at the BIG picture and to tell it like it is, both what’s working and what’s not. And please remember abuse happens every minute of every day, don’t forget about it once October is past.

© 2010 Nanakoosa’s Place, authored by Jennifer Hazard


>Coping with limitation-a lesson from Granma Marge

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For much of my life I’ve been one of those people referred to as “people pleasers” or co-dependent” whatever the term of the day happens to be. In my, and all caretakers, defense most of us are oldest children who came from homes where we needed to take on responsibility or at least learn some really clever coping skills at an early age. I’ve had more therapy than most people and even went on to earn my Masters degree in Counseling so I’ve made a little progress in “setting boundaries” and standing up  for myself (that learned behavior runs pretty deep, my friends). Having this disease and being on treatment is really challenging my growth in that area.

First of all I think it’s really difficult for people who haven’t been through this to understand the toll it takes physically, emotionally and cognitively. I have been accused of exaggerating, I’ve been told that if get out and exercise more I’ll feel better (this is true but within limits) and, probably worst of all I’ve seen the disappointment in my granddaughters faces when they want me to do something like go to the park and it’s 90 degrees with 90% humidity and I know I just can’t do it. The other day in just such a scenario I had a bittersweet epiphany.

When I was growing up my Maternal Grandmother had cancer. In those days treatment was much less successful and usually involved a lot surgery. I remember seeing my grandmothers belly, criss crossed with scars where she had been sliced open again and again as the doctors fervently chased the cancer throughout her body. It seemed to be always one step ahead of them. There were times that I just wanted to cuddle on her lap and smell her perfume and feel the softness of her cheek against my face, but wasn’t able to because of a recent surgical scar. Or times I just wanted her to come outside and play or walk with me and she couldn’t. Fortunately it wasn’t always that way, I have many fond memories of going with her to the small town one room library where she worked on occasion. Or going to service in the simple white clapboard Congregational Church. I even remember times we’d all drive down to East Beach and spend the day at the ocean, Granma sitting under her big canvas and bamboo sun umbrella.

Anyway, back to the epiphany; my granddaughters had come up with a plan during a short walk to stop at home, pack up a picnic basket and walk down to the nearest park for an outdoor lunch and a hike along the river. I wanted to go, I really did, but I just knew I couldn’t. I was already overheated, nauseous and aching all over. I felt so sad at the loss of the opportunity to do this with them my eyes began to tear up and at that moment it was as if I could feel Granma, sitting alone in her dark living room after I’d gone out to play alone because she couldn’t come with and I know that at that moment she was feeling the same sense of loss, remorse, guilt and sorrow.
I have never resented her for not being able to do something with me. Part of it was my own mothers gentle explanations of what Granma was going through, and part of it was Granma herself making the best of the good days and even the not so good days. I never for one moment felt that she didn’t WANT to do the things I asked of her, and I never for one moment doubted her love for me. Now I pray that I can have the strength and faith to do the same for my Granddaughters.
© 2010 Jennifer Hazard


>No cure for the summertime blues

>It’s HOT, too hot. I found out the hard way that when my nurse told me that staying hydrated will make all the difference in how I feel, she really meant it. Back in the beginning of this heat wave a few weeks ago, I had a particularly busy day, errands to run a doctors appointment, etc. I don’t have a car so I alternate between walking and riding the city bus and sometimes it’s necessary to walk several blocks between transfer points. I felt pretty good starting out the day, more energy than usual, and made ambitious plans. At the grocery store I proudly filled my cart with all sorts of healthy fresh foods,thinking how I am doing such a fantastic job of taking care of myself through this treatment. Yay me! What a good girl!

I don’t know if it was having been in the air conditioning that made outside feel like a giant open faced pizza oven or if the temperature had really risen that much but when I stepped outside I was blasted in face with what felt like an inferno. Because of my super self care shopping spree I had two large canvas bags stuffed to the top with groceries. Ok so it’s two blocks to the bus stop, no problem. That two blocks felt like walking uphill dragging a steam engine pumping heat at me. Ribavirin tends to make you feel short of breath, even without the heat and the load I was carrying. After two blocks my heart was pumping like the aforementioned steam engine, and I started to feel dizzy. The bus finally came and took me to the next transfer point where I helplessly watched my next bus pull off. Ok 20 minutes until the next bus. By now my brain must’ve been addled by lack of oxygen because I decided I might as well start walking until the bus came along. Somehow at the time it made sense to me that it was better to keep moving. “Nothing bad can happen if you keep moving” a desperate refrain from my younger days when my lifestyle was lived in a state of fight or flight. I walked a few blocks, occasionally stopping to rest, and finally surrendered at the bus stop, the one with a bench. By this point I could feel that my face was beet red, I was sticky with sweat, and my tongue was pretty much stuck to the roof of my mouth. I dug in the bag for something to drink, but of course, I hadn’t actually bought anything cold. I settled for a warm ensure, which never before or since has tasted so good. Now I was actually starting to feel chills, despite being hot, and my head was pounding.
I finally made it home, grabbed a huge jug of ice water and some ibuprofen and fell into bed and asleep. I slept for about 12 hours before waking up to realize I was still sick. It took several days, close to a week actually, before I started feeling “normal”, as normal as one can feel on treatment. I think the most difficult part of treatment for me has been accepting the limitations I now have.

The Moral of this story is, like it or not, many of us on treatment can’t do the things we are accustomed to doing. We have limited physical and, based on my poor judgment, mental capacities. One thing I have learned over the years of misadventure and return to sanity is that acceptance is the key to any hardship. Once we surrender to the way things are we become much more able to make adjustments, changes and accommodations which make life much less miserable. So now I’m sitting home in front of my fan, a HUGE bottle of water next to me. I’ve learned to limit my activities, especially in the heat…and I make my son do the grocery shopping with me. Maybe there is a cure for the summertime blues, if the livin is easy. 🙂 © 2010 Jennifer Hazard


It’s not just emotional healing that hurts

A while back, in May, I blogged about my next step in Healing; treating my Hepatitis C. So far it’s been a bumpy ride, with plenty of ups and downs. How about I start with the good news. My viral load is now undetectable. This is a good sign and it means it’s worth it to continue treatment. My doctor seems to think that I can beat this for good if I do maintain the treatment for the rest of the year. For those of you who don’t know, undetectable doesn’t mean cured, yet. The trick is to remain undetectable after treatment ends. For some people it works, some people stay “clear” for a while then the virus reappears, and for some people it seems to come back immediately after treatment is stopped. There are of course, many variables affecting treatment success, but maybe some of it is just good old luck of the draw. Given the uncertainty of success any shred of good news from the doctor is a beacon of hope, an incentive to carry on even if you feel like crap.
Unfortunately one of the more common side effects of the treatment is depression. So for me it’s kind of like a day at the beach when I’ve already got second degree burns. Add to this the loss of income the loss of a social role as a community advocate and sometimes I just wonder what the hell happened. Good thing I’ve had lots and lots of therapy to cope with depression because my old Buddy, Deena Depression has been hanging out quite a bit lately. And that, my friends, is one reason I’m telling my story, all aspects of it. Some of it is simply Ego validation, I admit that; but there is also the desire to reach out to others who have or are having similar experiences. It can feel like a lonely road sometimes and knowing someone (many people actually) are having the same experience does lighten the load. If you yourself or someone you care about is going through treatment for hepatitis C, or considering treatment I recommend seeking out information from others who have had the experience. An excellent online support group I have found is HepC Nomads-http://hepcnomads.co.uk/ I have found everyone there to be both informative and supportive. Another good resource is The National Hep C Advocacy Council at www.hepcnetwork.org. As always if you have questions or feedback I’m happy to respond.
Peace and Blessings
© 2010 Nanakoosa’s Place, authored by Jennifer Hazard