I Already Gave My Right Arm To Be Ambidextrous...Now Read My HIPS!

Now Read My HIPS! is returning very soon. My blog is currently under construction. I am doing some minor renovating and will begin blogging for the New Year, possibly before. I can't wait to start up again. I have missed all of my followers! I love every single one of you! You have helped me to become who I am today! I could never have continued my blog without all of your support. Please be patient, and please continue to support this blog as well as my other blog Chronically Mommy. Pass this information on to anyone that you know may be interested in knowing...To be continued...

I had my shoulder and both hips replaced, and I am changing things up a bit on this blog! I began belly dancing in 2010! Yes you read that correctly!! I am going to be blogging about my experience as a woman with several joint diseases and conditions who had her shoulder and both hips replaced who now belly dances and performs! I still have pain, but I want to blog about how I have fun too! Now Read My HIPS! Please read Chronically Mommy (chronicallymommy.blogspot.com) for info on health/pain.

Hi, I have avascular necrosis in my shoulders, hips, and knees, psoriatic arthritis, sjogren's, fibromyalgia, and hypermobility. I found out that I have autoimmune arthritis in my cervical spine and a bulging disk in my lumbar spine. Seven years ago my spine orthopaedic surgeon told me I had a small amount of autoimmune arthritis in my SI joint. The question still remains: Is the spinal involvement due to Psoriatic Spondylitis, which is a more severe form of Psoriatic Arthritis or is it a new diagnosis of Ankylosing Spondylitis? Whatever the diagnosis, the treatment will remain the same. I had my left hip replaced in 2003 & my right shoulder replaced in March of 2010. I literally gave my right arm to be ambidextrous! LOL! Lastly, I had my right hip replaced on May 10th, 2012.

I began belly dancing. Yes that's correct! I began belly dancing in 2010, so now it is time to "read my hips." Pain is still another part of my life. It is just a question of when, where and how much, but I would like to use this blog to write about my experience as a woman with several joint diseases and conditions who had both hips and a shoulder replaced and now spends her free time belly dancing and performing! I belong to a dance troupe since February of 2014, Seshambeh Dance Company. I am dancing weekly with my troupe in an advanced class and on Saturdays with another class which focuses on exercise and being a strong woman. I am performing a lot more often now, at least 4 or 5 times per year! Join me in my journey!

At times, I take 16 to 20 pills a day. I go every 4 weeks to the to get a 2 hour IV for my autoimmune arthritis diseases. Just when one thing seems to be doing better, something else goes downhill! My attitude, however, is always going uphill! I am 42 years old, have been married 16 years, and my husband and I adopted Mick in Dec. of 2010! I have a lot on my plate right now, but I take it one moment at a time. I believe that God will never give me more than I can handle. However, I do need to learn to ask for help sometimes instead of always doing it by myself!

(Formerly "I Already Gave My Right Arm To Be Ambidextrous!")

Help, I need somebody,
Help, not just anybody,
Help, you know I need someone, help.

When I was younger, so much younger than today,
I never needed anybody's help in any way.
But now these days are gone, I'm not so self assured,
Now I find I've changed my mind and opened up the doors.

Help me if you can, I'm feeling down
And I do appreciate you being round.
Help me, get my feet back on the ground,
Won't you please, please help me.

And now my life has changed in oh so many ways,
My independence seems to vanish in the haze.
But every now and then I feel so insecure,
I know that I just need you like I've never done before.

Help me if you can, I'm feeling down
And I do appreciate you being round.
Help me, get my feet back on the ground,
Won't you please, please help me.

When I was younger, so much younger than today,
I never needed anybody's help in any way.
But now these daya are gone, I'm not so self assured,
Now I find I've changed my mind and opened up the doors.

Help me if you can, I'm feeling down
And I do appreciate you being round.
Help me, get my feet back on the ground,
Won't you please, please help me, help me, help me, oh.

Now Read My HIPS!

Now Read My HIPS!
Asmara "Beautiful Butterfly"

Blog with Integrity


Saturday, October 29, 2011

Social Outings: My Disabled Parking Spot Is a Microcosm of My Life in Regards to Social Outings in How People Look at Me and Treat Me When I Go Out...

My heart races, my palms sweat, and I worry about how long I will last. Will I feel well enough to make it through a full dinner, sitting in a chair at a table in a restaurant?  Will there be a place to sit at the party we are attending? What is the parking like? Do we park on the street; will it be a close enough spot so I won't have to walk far? Can I wear my awesome new shoes, or will I be stuck standing in the corner praying that we leave soon so I can cut my feet out of my shoes? The history of my family's nationality is Italian (Sicilian), Irish, German, and my very own history is that I was born on Nov. 3rd, making me a Scorpio, born in the year of the Tiger. What does all that mean? Well, I'm normally outgoing, happy, funny, everybody knows me, the life of the party, easy-going, and loud!
I was always the person that loved a party. I enjoyed throwing a party and going to one. I still do, but just not the same as I did years ago. I was even thrilled with the prepping for the party; still am, but it's so different now. I used to decide last minute to have friends over, or I'd jump at the chance to go over to a friend's spur of the moment. First of all, so much planning is involved just in my day-to-day life now that adding any new tasks, activities, etc. involves extensive planning. Besides extra planning, I also have to take into account that I will need to set aside more rest periods and breaks because I will be doing more in the time allotted for my normal activities of the day. I can't add more time to my day. That would be perfect!
Usually with social outings, I want to look good. If we are going out, I want to take some time to fix my hair and make-up and put on an outfit that makes me look confident, strong, will make heads turn, and so people will be talking about me the next day (and not about the fact that I limp, the size of my scar on my right arm, if I look like I'm getting enough sleep, about my weight--up or down--or their opinion about the status of my arthritis and physical condition in general). I want people to talk about me as a person, as Dana, not as my chronic illnesses. I want them to notice how awesome I am and like me for me! That is what I look forward to when we have social outings. That is why I love to go out with my hubby and friends. I forget about being sick for a brief moment. Others see me for me. Problem is that my illnesses are a part of who I am, and they don't go away just because I forget about them for a while. I am not my chronic illnesses; they are not me; but we are partners in a sense.
Certain things that others may take for granted, I have to struggle with daily. I can choose not to wear make-up which is a lot easier for me because it is painful for my hands, fingers and wrists to put on make-up. Normally, I just wash and brush my hair and then let it dry~easy shmeezy! When we are getting ready to go out somewhere, I have to one-up myself. Make-up application can be a painful procedure, but when I have a psoriasis flare, which I have been struggling with for almost 4 months now since June, I have to deal with how to apply my make-up. It is a difficult process, a tedious one, and requires several careful steps. First, I wash my face with a gentle scrub to remove as many skin flakes as possible, and the gentle scrub doesn't irritate the skin. I pat my face dry, and then I apply a moisturizer for eczema/psoriasis prone skin. I let that soak in a bit. Then I apply my psoriasis steroid lotion. It's thin so make-up goes over it pretty easily. I use all Physician's Formula products for my make-up and apply a very thin layer of green pre-treatment to cover the redness. Then I apply a thin layer of light liquid foundation. Then I use a powder that is translucent with yellows and greens in it to again cover any redness that is still visible. Then I use a buff beige or creamy natural colored powder compact. I brush gently over my entire face to remove any excess powder. Then I apply a light bronzer to bring a little life and light back into my skin. Then I add some rose colored blush to my cheeks and eyelids. Then I am done. I still am flaky a bit, and I still have some redness and itchy/painful skin, but the difference is like night and day!

 Then there is the hair...I usually am so worn out from doing my make-up, that I don't have much strength left in me to do much to my hair. I have straight hair, but I use a flat iron to flip the ends out or curl them under. I also curl my bangs under with it. I have a long, asymmetrical hair style with bangs. It is pretty simple to style. It looks pretty when I use the flat iron, and as long as I am caught up with coloring my hair (dark auburn), I'm good. If my hair needs to be dyed, I use Clairol's Natural Instincts 30R. Otherwise, if I fall behind, I have gray roots. I just experienced that, and I do NOT want to go there AGAIN!!!! All my roots are so gray now, almost white. They are so coarse and break easily. Some are about an inch long from the root and stick straight up from my part. OMG! They are so noticeable. I used to pull the gray hairs out before a social outing. Now, there are too many to count let alone pull out. 

With my horrible psoriasis flare, I couldn't dye my hair because it was on my scalp. I didn't want to put any chemicals on my head with open sores and wounds from the psoriasis rash on my scalp. That would be all I needed~an infection on top of the psoriasis. So I waited and waited for the scalp to clear up. The first day that the scalp was clear of the psoriasis, I tore open a box of Clairol's Natural Instincts, and away I went with the application!  Funny bit of info~the only time I wear my contacts is for a really elegant event like a wedding or a gala......AND.....when I dye my hair. Why?...because I can't see but a couple inches in front of my face. I wear glasses all the time. I have contacts for those special events, but I really can't wear contacts because of the Sjogren's. I make next to no tears at all. The tears that I do make do not contain the oily lubricant. They are just salt water. Just thought I would give ya that little bit of info about me. Kinda funny I think. Most people would take their contacts out for fear they might get the dye in their eyes and get it under their contacts. I put my contacts in specifically for the dye-job. Hmmm....hope I didn't just jinx myself. I haven't gotten any in my eyes yet...
So for me, social outings can be fun, but in order for me to enjoy myself, I have to be fully prepared. I have to be fully rested. Not only for the party, but rested enough to prepare for the party to have enough energy for the prep and for the party itself. I also need to remember that prep might include my getting ready, food preparation, cleaning and straightening our home, decorating, and now that I have a baby, getting him dressed and ready for the outing or for the babysitter. Wow, just by putting it all in writing makes me exhausted!
I really wish that my family and friends that see me at these social outings and events could walk in my shoes for a day or a week or a month. ( I really, REALLY wish if they walked in my shoes for a while that during that time, I could borrow their shoes and switch places and be normal for a bit. Phew. That would be such a relief!) Sometimes it is so hard to imagine what it takes for someone who is in chronic pain, who has several chronic illnesses at once to deal with, is disabled and on top of it all has a baby! Now I know I chose to have a baby. Don't write any comments about that little, teeny, tiny part of the sentence. I am just expressing to those that are not chronic babes out there everything we deal with on top of a life as a mommy, which is fairly normal. We do have the right to live a life like those that are fairly normal. I hope you all agree with that!
That is why we will go through hell to cook and clean, and put layer upon layer of  pre-treatment and make-up, dye our coarse, gray hair (most likely caused from all the medications and anesthesia). We want to enjoy our lives. We need the social interaction, whether it is with healthy, "normal" people, or with people that are going through similar chronic conditions like us.

 I don't always go to social outings with "normal" people. I also go out with my "like" friends. Although I like the social outings that take my mind off being sick and help me feel normal for a moment, I also actually enjoy going out with my "like" friends to be myself in another direction completely. Those are the social outings when I don't have the energy to cover the psoriasis, and have my gray roots that are 2 inches thick. We limp along together, and sometimes get looks from others. These are the social outings that others look at me for me when I DON'T look good. This is when my illness is not so invisible, and for once in a great while I look sick. I have a few "normal" friends that I can show this side of me with when we go to social outings, but with most I prefer to hide as much of the chronic side of me that I can when we are in public shopping, partying, having dinner, celebrating, or whatever we are enjoying together.

Sadly, many people who say they love you no matter what, will be a shoulder for you to cry, will hold your hair while you get sick from your chemo, will have a pajama day with you everyday whereby no one wears any make-up or does their hair; but the moment you are invited to an important social event together, they do not want to be seen with you if you are not going to be able to do something about covering up that skin condition (psoriasis) that looks like the horrible acne you had back in high school. They don't understand why you won't go ahead and cover your grays with the dye. Psoriasis is "just really dry skin on your scalp, right? So how could dye harm it?" They don't want to take the time to understand your illness, so they just make assumptions which are incorrect, and as I was always told about when you assume, you make an ASS out of U and ME! Psoriasis is not acne. When it is on the face, it does resemble it. It can be severe. It can bleed. It can scab and scar. It can look like raw meat and pizza face like the awful names kids called each other in high school with severe acne, but it is not acne. It is not caused from being dirty. Washing your face more will not clear up your skin. These are all things that have happened to me, real things that people have said to me, actual words from "normal" people who are not sick. These are hurtful things. This is why it can be hard sometimes to go to social outings with "normal" people, and why it is a lot easier to go with "like" chronic babes!
This isn't always the case though. I just want to stress that I do enjoy going out with my "normal" friends that treat me like a person, like I mentioned in the beginning of this blog post. That is why I am able to forget for the moment that I'm sick. They treat me like I'm not sick. That is what is so fun about it. I get all dressed up and spiffy, and then my "normal" friends treat me normal! So ya see, it is hard for us chronic babes to live in both worlds. Best case scenario is to be able to bounce in and out of both worlds from the "normal" world back into our "chronic" world. It takes practice, and trial and error. Find what pace works best for you, and how often you can leave your chronic world to go to "normal" social outings. Also, make sure that you are treated equally in the "normal" world. If you aren't, it isn't worth your time and effort. You would be using a lot of energy preparing to go and then actually attending for something that you would be getting nothing but heartache and pain from.

It makes me think of all the times that I park in my disabled parking spot...

So many times I have gotten out of the car, and someone has said to me not to park in a disabled spot because it was for someone that needed it. Each time, the person thought there was nothing wrong with me to cause me to park in a disabled spot. Of course, I have many, many things wrong with me physically, and in fact, have 2 joint replacements, and I am awaiting the collapse of 4 other ones at any moment to then have them replaced. There are some days that are better days (I rarely use  the term good days), and on these days, I may still park in a disabled spot (because I am still disabled even if I'm having a better day), but I will most likely have my make-up on, be dressed nicely, and have my hair done and dyed! On bad days, I again will be in the disabled spot, but on those particular days, I will very likely be in sweats or lounge wear, will have no make-up on, and will definitely have my hair in a ponytail with my bangs clipped back. The disabled parking spot is a microcosm of my life in regards to social outings and how people look at me and treat me when I go out.

Wednesday, October 12, 2011

World Arthritis Day! My numbers 85-18-36!

I'm kicking off World Arthritis Day with a look back at when I really began having symptoms that made me ask questions and seek advice from my doctor. I began to put things together and wonder if different symptoms and things that I had in my childhood that were showing up again were chronic conditions. I wanted to put a name to the way I was feeling. I knew there was no way I was wearing myself out with just my normal day-to-day activities and a lifestyle of no smoking and no drugs (I'd love to say no drinking, but I was in college at the time and was experimenting with drinking beer at parties and then going to class at 8 a.m. the next morning). So If you asked me when my onset of my autoimmune arthritis symptoms were, I would have to say that when I began college is when my body really started going crazy! I remember that during this time, I had several severe kidney infections. I had a staph infection that somehow decided to land in my outer ear and earlobe. My ear became double its size and filled with fluid. It was like all the poison was waiting to take over my body! I began having severe stomach problems. I always had problems with my skin. The next year, I had mononucleosis and missed an entire semester of school. I never got out of bed. I basically slept through a semester of my Sophomore year.

Then, my Junior year, I was hospitalized for unexplained fever, joint pain, and abdominal pain. Of course they found nothing. Figures.

Although I had been dealing with symptoms and vague chronic pain issues since I was a young child, my general health began to go down hill when I started college. I went to four years of college, and with each year that passed, my health became more challenging. I went to college from 1993 to 1997, and I sadly have to admit that during that time, no doctor was able to pinpoint what was wrong with me. Each doctor just thought there were many small things happening in clusters at the same time, which made it seem a lot worse than what it actually was. I began college when I was turning 18. I was still just a child! I didn't realize the importance of knowing my childhood medical history. It would have helped with a much quicker diagnosis. I wasn't diagnosed with my autoimmune arthritis until later as an adult because I didn't know all the details of my childhood medical history. It turned out that I had Psoriatic Arthritis, which led to a later diagnosis of Psoriatic Spondylitis or Ankylosing Spondylitis. It depends if it is in addition to the PsA or a part of the PsA. I was also diagnosed with Sjogren's and EDS.  My diagnoses were not made until between 2002 and 2004.  If I had known that I had Psoriasis as a child, that my mother also has Psoriasis as well as my brother, the diagnosis may have been made when I was a young child. Instead, I didn't seek a doctor to give me a diagnosis until the 90's, and it took nearly a decade to diagnose me.

There is a huge debate right now over whether or not being over weight can lead to autoimmune arthritis. No, it can't! It is that simple. There is plenty of information out there people. Read it! Osteoarthritis is different from autoimmune arthritis. Osteo is caused by the overuse or wearing down of the joint/connective tissue. Autoimmune arthritis is when something in the body causes the body to attack itself! It depends on what type of autoimmune arthritis it is to know what part of the body will be damaged.

I get very upset when people talk about moving your joints to keep them in shape or from getting arthritis. Don't be overweight and you will avoid autoimmune arthritis. These are terrible ways to educate the public about autoimmune arthritis. Moving the joints to keep them from being stiff can be helpful even for those with autoimmune arthritis, but it will not prevent autoimmune arthritis from forming. If it is in your body's make-up to have the autoimmune disease, then it will be done. Period.  There are some myths floating around out there about weight and autoimmune arthritis. I just want to set the record straight so that all know; being over weight cannot cause you to get autoimmune arthritis!

My numbers: 85-18-36!

Please post your story of your onset of autoimmune arthritis in the comment part of this blog. Stress how you feel about weight and its affect on autoimmune arthritis. Also, post your numbers if you know what they are. And since we are on the subject of our numbers, if you know what I am talking about, please post your numbers as your facebook status, on twitter, and ask others to do the same.

Thank you all so much and enjoy World Arthritis Day!

Here are some links with information you may be interested in:

This should be an exciting day for Autoimmune Arthritis…thank you in advance for your participation!

Link to website www.IAAMovement.org .
Link to Facebook page: https://www.facebook.com/InternationalAutoimmuneArthritisMovement .
Twitter: @IAAMovement

Friday, October 7, 2011


For this MOWer's blog carnival, the topic is friendship. I have had a lot of time to think about friends and friendship since I'm behind in writing my blog posts for this particular blog carnival. Thank goodness this group isn't strict on due dates! I would be in trouble if that were the case because I have so much that I would like to share with this group, and I am grateful for these special friends that I have made online for adding my posts after the fact~after doing all that work. One particular friend, Cookie, finds the time to add my posts, corrects my grammar, and carefully reads and re-reads each of my posts over and over again to make sure it looks the way that I wrote it on my blog. She has even typed it out one word at a time if it didn't look JUST the way it looked on my own blog site. She is an amazing woman and friend. I'm so glad I met her. I look forward to "hearing" from her online daily, and worry when I don't. She does the same. That is a true friend! Thanks again, Cookie, for being such a great, dear friend to me. ;D

According to Wikipedia, Friendship is defined as...
...a form of an interpersonal relationship generally considered to be closer than association, although there is a range of degrees of intimacy in both friendships and associations. Friendship and association are often thought of as spanning across the same continuum. The study of friendship is included in the fields of sociology, social psychology, anthropology, philosophy, and zoology. Various academic theories of friendship have been proposed, among which are social exchange theory, equity theory, relational dialectics, and attachment styles. Value that is found in friendships is often the result of a friend demonstrating the following on a consistent basis:
  • The tendency to desire what is best for the other
  • Sympathy and empathy
  • Honesty, perhaps in situations where it may be difficult for others to speak the truth, especially in terms of pointing out the perceived faults of one's counterpart
  • Mutual understanding and compassion; ability to go to each other for emotional support
  • Enjoyment of each other's company
  • Trust in one another
  • Positive reciprocity — a relationship is based on equal give and take between the two parties.
  • The ability to be oneself, express one's feelings and make mistakes without fear of judgement.
  • It is very important to have honesty, trust, sympathy, respect and helpfulness in friendship.
All those fantastic fields that I mentioned above are studying and researching the impact of friendships' influence on our well-being and happiness. We cannot deny that having strong social supports helps us, especially women, feel better. People live longer, healthier lives when they have friends, especially strong, bonding friendships. No one knows if friendships actually lead to better health, if there truly is a correlation, a cause-and-effect relationship. There have been plenty of  theories though. One theory is that if you have a good friend that leads a healthy lifestyle, he/she will then encourage you to also lead a healthy lifestyle as well. Another theory is that good friends better enhance your coping skills to deal with illness and health problems. Still another theory is that good friends encourage you to seek out help and to access health care and other health services. And the final theory is that there are actually physiological pathways protective of health that good friends affect. Friendship is believed to protect both physical and mental health. Loneliness and lack of friendships have been shown to be linked with more heart disease, viruses, and cancer as well as higher mortality rates.

Friendship is an interpersonal relationship also found in animals~mainly mammals and birds. Cross-species friendships can develop between a human and a domestic animal~a dog or a cat. Sometimes friendships develop between an animal and another animal of a different species. I can say that I have and have had friendships with my dogs. Max was my very close furry friend and buddy who is no longer with me! Cookie (different from before-mentioned Cookie) is still my furry friend and now my son Michael's best friend! I have neighbors with a cat and a dog where the cat and dog are best of friends as well. Also, many times, we have seen a dog and a horse or another farm animal that the dog has befriended. Friendship crosses over too when a dog nurses another animal's babies to health even when it isn't another dog. Amazing stories come out of things like this too!

I recently blogged about my bestest friends~Ang, Susan, Kelbi, and Carlene. Each one of these people has brought so much to my life, has entered my life at different times,--perfect times actually--and each one of them is as strong of a woman (or Babe) as the next one! I have known Ang since we were 6 years old. Ang is the type of friend that I can have a no-holds barred kind of fun with. She is also the kind of friend I can trust with my deepest darkest secrets. She knows how to bring me out of my lowest points and how to make me laugh until I pee my pants! She supports me when I fear no one else will. I can text her at 3 a.m. She has come to visit me~jumped on a plane at a moment's notice~because I need a friend, because she wants to share my excitement, because I need a shoulder to lean on, or just because she wants to take a trip somewhere fun or go to a concert--in a two bedroom apartment on a sofa bed in the sunroom or on an air mattress in my baby's room to help with and play with him during the day and then watch a scary movie or two with me at night!!! Kelbi, Susan and Carlene all share my pain. I mean they all have a form of arthritis and fibromyalgia. I am able to call or email them any time of the day to talk about anything. It is especially wonderful to have friends who share something like this because they understand exactly what it's like to not be able to get out of bed, to cancel appointments, to feel so fatigued you can't even wash a bowl in the sink or stand to take a shower. They just "get me." It is sad that what brought Carlene and Kelbi to me was the Arthritis Foundation. If it weren't for our disabling conditions and wanting to help other young adults and other people learn to help themselves to deal with the pain and fatigue, we may have never met. If I didn't have arthritis, I wouldn't have been seeing a counselor, and I wouldn't have been introduced to Susan. I have four Bestest Friends: Ang, Kelbi, Susan and Carlene. They each have entered my life at different times, in different ways, for different reasons~all staying to support me, love me, care for me, understand me, and always be there for me!!! Thank you so much. What would I ever do, where would I ever be, and how could I ever go on without you all? Please read more about them in my previous, more detailed blog about all four of these fantabulous friends in "My Bestest Friends!"

Also, please read more about my hubby; he is my lover~true~but we started out as friends. When we were married 11 years ago, we shared this quote with everyone, and it really summed everything up for us:
This day I marry my friend;
The one I laugh with,
Live for,
Dream with, 
And Love!
Eleven years married~seventeen together~we still laugh together, live for one another, share our dreams, and love one another more and more each day. We are true friends with a romantic love for one another. To learn more about my significant other and how much he means to me, please read my poem to him, "Significant Other~Will Never Your Eyes, Soul, Heart Forget!!!!"

I began blogging to help myself. I thought of it more like journaling, the difference was that others had access to it. I didn't even think anyone would read it~ever! I didn't think anyone would be interested in my pathetic, boring life. I also started blogging before I did anything else online. I had an email address, and that was all. My grade school was searching and searching for me for our 20 year Grade School Reunion from 8th grade. Most didn't know that I moved to Georgia from Missouri (with a couple stops along the way in fact). Most didn't even know I was married. Almost no one knew I was in chronic pain, had chronic fatigue, was sick all the time, and had already had one joint replacement at that time, and was well on my way toward more. I basically thought no one would understand, no one would want to be burdened by me, and I would just end up being a bother to everyone. My life seemed to stand still, although we had moved several times. I had gone to a university and gotten my BS in Nursing. I had worked as an RN for a short while, and my hubby had also worked after getting his Ph.D. He was on his 2nd tenure-tracked position. We still had no children, and we had been trying to adopt in every state we lived~no luck!

Somehow I found out that people were searching for me through Classmates.com. I found out that people wanted me to go on Facebook so they could find me easier. They thought I fell off the planet! Ang, that I mentioned before, was looking for me for a few years. Her parents passed away, and she was looking to re-unite with old friends that she shared a special friendship with when she was younger. I got the search on Classmates.com. I contacted her, well when I figured out how to do instant messaging! I can't tell you how excited I was to be chatting with her online! I didn't even know what I was doing. I thought it was like the Jetsons at the time. I couldn't believe it! She told me to get on Facebook as well, so I did. Before I knew it, I had become a new person. I loved it online! I was "friends" with all these people I knew from grade school, high school, and college. Then I started adding family to my "friends" list. I then started blogging more. I added my Facebook badge to my blog. Then others started asking to be my "friend" on Facebook. These people were actually reading my blog, commenting, liking what they read, and wanting to be my Facebook "friend." I then was being invited to join other social networks online for people with chronic pain~ChronicBabe, My Invisible Disabilities Network, Patients Like Me, etc. Then as my blog got more followers and more people knew who I was, I was introduced to this new exciting thing~blog carnivals!!! I began writing blog posts for different blog carnivals, and then I started joining people's group pages on Facebook for their blogs as well as other Facebook pages related to chronic pain to which these other Facebook pages led me. I really started racking in the new Facebook friends online. I was up to over 1100 friends! It started getting crazy actually because I felt like I didn't really "know" the people with whom I was friends. I decided to divide my personal Facebook into two separate profiles, one for family and friends that I actually knew and met and one for online friendships. This happened when we adopted our son Mick. It worked out well because I didn't really want to post pics of him online for people to see that I didn't really know anyway. Now that it has been a while, I have added to my family and friends profile online friends with whom I have built a relationship and trust. I like this so much better because I spend so much time on my family and friends Facebook profile but not very much time with my online friends profile. Some people are on both of course because they started on one and wanted to be added to the other. If you started on the family and friends and were added to the other, it was probably your choice. If you did the opposite, then I probably felt like I got to know you enough and trust you to add you to my family and friends profile. I am so happy to have you all on whatever Facebook profile you are. I care about all of you, whether I know you well enough to really love you as a true friend or care about you by association because of a common cause or interest, etc. So thank you all for that!

I find it so amazing how the internet works now. I met people on social networks other than Facebook, on Facebook itself, through my blog, through other blogs, and in groups on Facebook. I have recently looked back at old conversations and comments with people that I have met online. I have had their support and have been supporting those same people from the beginning! Our friendships are long-lived and strong. We have fought the same battle. We have lived lives so similar, so challenging, and with so many struggles. We think about people with whom we see and talk in our everyday lives that mean so much to us, and of course those friendships are special. But, I can't believe how much my friendships have meant and still mean to me that I have made online. The nice thing about my online friends is that they are always there! I turn on my computer, and your smiling faces are all right there staring at me. I can't tell you what that means to me. Well, I guess you all know, because you see it too!  It is a wonderful feeling to be able to find someone at any time of day anywhere in the world at your reach. I never thought I could have friends from Ireland, England, Germany, Canada and even within my own country in other states~Texas, New York, etc.~who all seem to live together inside my laptop. Thank you all for always being there.

There are so many people out there who don't "get it." My online friends are very important to me. Many of them are true friendships that mean as much to me as do my friendships with people that I can touch, see and go to lunch with~some even mean more to me depending on who we are talking about. There are a few groups of online friends that are going through such similar things as me healthwise or know someone going through the same thing that I am going through that they can sympathize or empathize with me. I can think of a few online individuals who I know for a fact desire what is best for me because they have told me over and over again how to take care of myself because they want to see me as well as can be. I can also even pinpoint a select few who are so honest with me that they would outright tell me to stop doing something because it's not a good idea and do something different for myself immediately because they care about me as friends. There is a mutual understanding and compassion there, and I will always be there for them just as they are always my emotional support. I am able to be myself. I don't have to act like someone else in their presence. I am never judged, and I do not ever judge them. We trust each other and enjoy each other's company. And like I stated before, all of this is important to have a true friendship~honesty, trust, sympathy, respect, as well as helpfulness.

Now it doesn't mean that I am ditching my friends in "real-life" to be with my online friends all the time. And I never said that I like the friendships in "real-life" more than my online friends either. They are just different types of friendships. The relationships are all together different, but I am still the same person. I don't have to change, and that is super-important. All of you get to know that I like to joke even when I'm not funny. I like to talk a lot, so for my online friends, it comes across as "wordy" most likely. But, ya know, if I took out a lot of those words and adapted to this new form of "texting" and chatting, etc., well, you just wouldn't get the "full effect" of the true "Dana." I'm expressive. And with expressive, well, comes lots and lots of words...

Now, I was going to end here, but I feel it's important to add that with all my talk about how important friendships are and getting to know people online, I wanted to add that I recently was introduced to a fellow blogger, Sweet Sara (Gitzen Girl). She blogged about being homebound and having Ankylosing Spondylitis. She very recently got sick, very sick, so sick that she did not get better. She passed away Saturday, September 24th at 11:14p.m. from complications of A.S. Thank you, Sweet Sara, for becoming an online friend to so many people...

Walk Team

Walk Team





Belly Dance

Belly Dance
Before the Performance 5/6/12
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