This painting was done in Painter, using oils, liquid inks and pencils. I am using it because it is entitled Strong Spirit. That is what I have.
I started this blog to write about fibromyalgia and lyme disease. My intention was to write how my belief in a God of my understanding, coupled with affirmations, gratitude and positive thought had allowed me to find a peaceful, fulfilling life in spite of these chronic illnesses.
Then, practicing those things led me back to being able to do art, and art has pretty much been the focus of this blog.
Today, I want to write about positive thinking.
I came across the idea of having God in my life and thinking positive about 30 years ago. I began reading a lot of varied books on many religions. I put together an idea of what God is for me, personally. I believe there is something that holds us all together. I believe that we are all connected in some way. I believe that when I, or someone else, does something negative or harmful, it affects us all.
I believe in taking personal responsibility for myself and what I can change. As I read and researched, I concluded that the only thing in this world that is possible for me to change is me. I can’t change you. I can, however, change how I react to you.
This was working fine, and life was going along real sweet. I was a textile/mixed media artist. My work was starting to sell. I was having shows in galleries. I had been in a group show at a very prestigious museum here in Seattle. I won awards for my art. Life looked good. Positive thinking and a belief in a God of my understanding was working.
Oops, I got sick. I didn’t just get sick, I got completely disabled and unable to do anything but lay in bed and wonder when I was going to die. Doctors said I was crazy. No one, absolutely no one would help me.
Friends and family walked away. As they left, they said “Screw, you. You’re a little liar, you’re not sick, just crazy.”
OK. I got mad. I got angry, I got resentful, hateful, mean-spirited, the whole thing. I threatened to divorce my husband of over 30 years. I was one sick, miserable person.
Where had it all gone? What was happening? One day I woke up, and could stand myself no longer. I vaguely recalled what I had practiced just before I became sick. I was very dubious. I figured, this stuff works when things go well, God is there when I’m happy. But what happens when the pedal hits the metal? It’s all gone.
Hmm. Perhaps I had missed something. “OK”, I said, find something to be positive about. What? I can’t remember what I found, but I found one small thing. Like breathing or something. I practiced being grateful. I said affirmations. I worked at it. I was not convinced, but I went on with the teeny, tiny bit of faith I had left.
It worked. Just as negative things build and grow larger and become overwhelming, so do positive things. It built up. I found more things to be positive about.
Don’t get me wrong, it was slow going.
Then, finally, after 15 years of being flat on my back in bed, I found a doctor who tested me for lyme disease. Treatment was started. Then, I really had something to say affirmations about. It has been four years of treatment now. The going is slow. But I’m finally up, and out of bed.
This last fall, while in Maui for five weeks, I focused entirely on sitting up and not being in bed all day. With the input of everyday life out-of-the-way, I was able to become a horizontal person, sitting up.
I am so grateful, I am back in my art studio in our home. Life is good.
But hang on. My doctor that I spent 20 years searching for sent a letter saying she is quitting the practice of medicine. This completely threw me. One of the reasons I function at all is that I take morphine for pain. It is next to impossible to find a good, competent physician to prescribe morphine for chronic pain. Especially to find one that will treat me with respect and not act like I’m some kind of criminal or drug addict.
When I got the letter, I became almost hysterical and started crying and imaging the worst. What’s going to happen to me? The DEA is in the process of implementing new regulations that seem aimed at depriving legitimate, chronic pain patients of the medications we need.
This lasted for a bit less than 24 hours. Then, I sent a letter to my physician. I advised her that I was going to need her help in finding a new physician. I knew I’d never find another physician who was also a vegan, but at least someone reasonable and respectful to prescribe the morphine.
Next, I went to what I knew. I started affirming. I chose a phrase, “things will turn out better than they are now.” How that would occur, I had no clue. But I have learned in the last 30 years that the details are not my business. My business is me. I’m the one who can change how I see things.
I’m not saying this was easy. My brain kept going back to freaking out. I kept telling myself, “this is not 1994 when you first became ill.” Doctors have now heard of lyme disease and fibromyalgia. They no longer assume someone with your symptoms belongs in a psychiatrist’s office. The doctors will not call you crazy, they will not yell at you, they will not throw papers and folders at you. Those days are gone. You have a right, a basic human right to good medical service.”
I kept my faith in my God. I looked around at my home and starting actively being grateful for all that I had. I was nice to my husband. I kept affirming.
Suddenly, my husband decides he wants to get in one last visit to our doctor before she leaves. Good luck, I thought negatively. Mr. Positive called and got in the next day.
He comes home yesterday with this news:
The doctor is taking a break and expects to be practicing medicine in July. Oh, by the way, here’s the name of another doctor at the same clinic. He has a DEA license to dispense narcotics. This is perfect because of his license. Things are looking good. Positive works.
Oops. I just called the clinic. Apparently this physician is not taking new patients.
But this is what I know. I have been a model chronic pain patient. I have always done exactly what I was told to do by my treating physicians. That means that the same pharmacy has always filled my prescriptions. That means there are notes from earlier doctors who have prescribed morphine for me stating that I have never had a lost or misplaced prescription, I have never abused the morphine. In short, I’m a compliant patient without baggage. I’m low maintenance.
I’m going back to what I realized initially. Doctors cannot abandon a patient. I’ve been a patient at this particular clinic for over 20 years. They will find me a doctor to prescribe the pain medication I need. I will want to return to my internist when she has her new practice set up, if that’s how things are meant to be.
What I know, is that if I stay positive, keep up my affirmations, and have faith, I will be taken care of. I know it may sound simple-minded and maybe stupid. But, that is what has always happened when I take responsibility for Kerry, stay grateful and have faith. The pieces always fall into place. They usually fall into place in a much better place than I could possibly imagine.