After becoming a widow and moving into a new State with a one year old, I was soon engaged to a man I had not known long. This was familiar territory for me as I traveled so often as a child, I never had the opportunity to know a person longer than three years. Within twenty-four months of our marriage I began to get very sick due to an illness called endometriosis (when the lining of your uterus is present in other pelvic organs, mainly the ovaries). I developed large cyst formations and adhesions which spread, causing my ovaries to fuse against my uterus. This affliction continued to torment me with horrific pain during a time that pain-management was non-existent. However there were options if you had the means to pay out-of-pocket (which we did not), and could obtain the services of a qualified physician willing to risk their license-to-practice in order to treat you.
This disease/disorder began at the age of sixteen which gave my body ample time for adhesions to spread creating additional health problems and ruining any chances of success in carrying a baby full-term. Getting pregnant was never an issue, unfortunately as soon as I conceived the “egg” had no where to go as my tubes obstructed any progression, therefore every pregnancy ended with another lost life. This cycle continued until my early twenties. Fortunately for me, pain was not abnormal, I began suffering at a very young age. I would wake at night with a sharp twinge in my chest and leg spasms, then walk through the house quietly so I would not awaken my parents, until resisting sleep was no longer an option. I would not see a physician until the age of sixteen who informed my mother, “If you do not take her off of the
pill she will never have children”. I was overcome with a range of emotions as I turned toward mother, with a pleading in my eyes for information. Her response was to immediately dismiss me from the room, embarrassed I slowly removed myself never receiving any information as to why the doctor would have said such a thing. As I would mature I gained an unwelcome realization and connection between that visit and another one with a doctor from Alabama that the probability was high, I had endometriosis at the age of sixteen. Perhaps my kidnapping at the age of four had something to do with this anomaly, as I could never get a straight answer of its origins. Some professionals thought it a sexually transmitted disease, others hereditary, and so many would have no answer for me. Just prior to this, around the age of 10-12 I started comparing my life with others, as children often do, this is when reality began to sink-in and my understanding grew and I surmise that I had grown up, living the results, when love no longer exists between your parents. My heart aches when thinking of the past as what I My experienced growing up, including the “secrets” within our family, will haunt me the rest of my life.
I remember learning at around the age of four, that I had something inside of my head called a brain and it apparently had control over everything. This was exciting news for me and I felt overwhelmed with all the possibilities a four year old child could muster. After a lot of thinking, something I love to do besides research, I concluded I could use this to “fix” my mom and dad’s brains! The leap from this conclusion was simple, I would become a brain surgeon. Even at this tender age I began to study and I am certain I searched through every coloring book I owned for answers. It is highly probable that my appetite for information began at this age rather than my twenties, unfortunately being four years old I was extremely limited my dream of becoming a brain surgeon slowly faded.
A smile escalates across my face as I see it is already 4:30 p.m. and I am still in pajamas lying on my lounge chair. Feelings of restlessness override all my anticipation of a peaceful evening as dusk quickly approaches, normally my favorite time of day, however I am nursing a massive sinus infection (uggggggg!) The facial pain is almost unbearable as my temples throb with the promise of a migraine before sundown. What do I choose to do? Stare at a bold, bright, white screen and force a blog!
I will regress periodically because my upbringing (as I would come to understand later in my life) is directly related to my suffering today (there is proof of a correlation relating these two). As a new wife and mother, I began to focus on my son and my husband’s health, also to prepare for any subsequent children, I would not allow them to suffer as I had. My need to understand and know all about developmental stages and diet became an obsession. As we all know babies do not come with manuals and given my background, which consisted of a blank slate when it came to housekeeping, taking care of children, and a husband, I began to venture out on my own and learn. I have an unforgiving mind once I settle on a subject that interests me, I stop at nothing until I am completely satisfied with the results. This mind-frame would prompt me to hit the books, take college courses, get a degree, research holistic medicine, whatever I would need to do for answers. As tiring as research can be, I continue to remain passionate about it.
My twenties were different as my husband would not tolerate my avoidance of doctors, so my long journey ensued as I sought out medical professionals who showed interest in treating my entire body, this was not hard during this era as most doctors did just that, or so they professed to. Fairly quickly, I began to see a pattern emerge where they treated my symptoms, never getting to the actual cause of my illnesses. After years of searching, undergoing treatments, and a barrage of diagnoses, “specialists” began to appear within the medical profession. I started searching again, this time for a physician who was interested in treating my physical condition using more of a holistic approach, however this would notbepossible for years to come.
While home alone one afternoon I experienced my last miscarriage it was at this moment I decided surgery would be my best option. After undergoing a hysterectomy in which they mistakenly removed my functioning ovary, leaving the damaged one, I quickly underwent another surgery, culminating in the removal of everything. Then began my year-long nightmare of hormone replacement therapy and finding the right one for me.
So all of this brings me to this moment as I lie, listening to the hum of the humidifier while the darkness of night threatens the end of this day and my blog. I will continue my story in my twenties, when my journey began, learning all I could about how to keep my family healthy and happy which lead me to the study of herbs. This is a subject close to my heart and one I am very knowledgeable about therefore no need for additional research, thank God, as this would inevitably increase the volume of my “paper” files. As usual, I went full-force until I was satisfied with the results. However as I delved into this newest passion, I was soon rearranging the kitchen to make room for the amount of herbs I had purchased. I began separating them, creating a system were they were sorted biologically (my scientific term to establish the significance of each herb) or in layman’s terms; what they did. Soon I had concocted a pretty impressive lab in my kitchen, managing to develop ingredients necessary to treat the whole person and not just symptoms.
Eventually I created a business selling my concoctions while treating my own pain, which was pretty significant, and caring for my growing family. I had become an entrepreneur and soon opened the doors of my creation as, “Wrap it Up“, I offered my customers herbal remedies, body wraps, skin care treatments, and soon I began selling an exciting new high-end makeup label. Now, for those of you who live locally, the answer is YES, the name of my business was original and belonged to me. A few months ago I filled out an on-line form in order to re-establish my business, answering all required information including the name of my prior business. Soon after submitting this form, and never hearing back about my on-line request, a business opened nearby named, “Wrap…..”. I found this to be a strange coincidence yet there was nothing I could do. Getting back to when my own company was growing, everything was great until my health started to decline again, this was a constant pattern by now that would also last throughout my life. I was getting pretty annoyed at not having control over my health and this newest episode, because of the timing, was straight-out unwelcome! These episodic physical ailments were happening so often that they were robbing me of my life!. I found them so psychologically invasive and extremely annoying, in particular this episode, as it was the reason for the demise of my business forcing me to sell to the highest bidder. This was my baby, something I had created and built on my own to help others and it is so ironic that my failing health was the reason for the failure of my business. It had become an essential part of my life and I had high aspirations for the future so it was a devastating blow! I knew that I was looking at another failure if I continued to juggle a growing business, three children, a husband, a house, and everything else that was expected of me. So I decided to sell and bow-out gracefully.
My physical maladies grew to become extremely troublesome, with each new episode I would end up in the hospital, on the couch for days or weeks, constantly complying with doctor’s orders for tests, some of which could turn the stomach of a seasoned homicide detective, and always ending with a new diagnosis, no cure, and if that was not enough I would lose any job I had due to excessive sick days.
It was not long before this “nightmare” I was living began to take its toll on my marriage and children. After trying to hang-in-there for so long and continuing to fail I went downhill pretty fast. I took a much-needed break from fostering as everyday functioning became harder. Soon I was bouncing from the bed (in the morning) to the couch where I would remain until evening, going back to my bed for the night, this lasted for a few years until I forced myself to try and function again. I worked hard and regained my license to foster infants, became involved with my children (by this time we had adopted two), and continued living day-to-day. During this phase I thought of suicide daily, it was so often that whenever driving alone, I would wonder how I could run off the road and end everything quickly. I convinced myself that anything, even death, was better than the way I was trying to survive.
I never wanted to sleep as it resulted in having to wake up and I detested mornings because the second I opened my eyes I knew immediately how the day would proceed. If I awoke in pain, my day would be filled with it, fibromyalgia pain-where you actually feel every nerve within your body and at the very tip of those nerves you feel a little twinge of fire. Unfortunately that is not the extent of fibro pain, you also suffer with extreme muscle tenderness where certain parts of your body cannot be touched or an involuntary scream escapes. Some days I would wake with a migraine, those were debilitating as the throbbing pain would last all day (never less) or up to three days. This is just
the tip of the iceberg, pain was such a part of my life that I actually felt something was wrong if I did not suffer. My anxiety began to increase which made my mornings even worse and my desire to sleep a greater challenge. I knew ending my life was never a viable option because when a parent commits suicide their children are fifty-times more likely to do the same, therefore I will never succeed in this area. So I chose to live, surviving and trapped within a body which continued to malfunction. I used to tell my husband I was born into a “lemon” of a body, we would share a laugh, other times tears would come and we would hold one another, wondering what was next…..
You know the question you are always asked when you first meet a person, “What do you do for a living?” In America we are judged by that question, that is why it will be one of the first you are ever asked, and one I avoid asking, for the simple reason when one who is judged all their lives (as I have been) they learn a new type of pain; psychological. A doctor I was seeing who treated my migraines during a time when most doctors thought patients were faking in order to “pill shop”, this conclusion was very offensive to me. I was so thankful for her as I actually thought she believed me, until our last visit together. I was anticipating the usual from her, questions about my pain, how we should proceed, et cetera, however this session was different. She refused to look me in the eyes, this subtle but noticeable change unsettled me, I knew something else was about to change and it wasn’t the ambience in the room. Finally she could not hold back her true feelings any longer and, without warning, blurted out; “How can you sit there and tell me that you are in such pain and have all your makeup on so perfect?” She did not want an answer she was making a point. I was completely caught off guard by her insinuation. I was told later by one of her nurses that she talked openly about me behind my back, accusing me of being an alcoholic! Not long after this visit I was at work and happened to look up to see her approaching, she did not see me as she headed straight for my counter. When she did look up and our eyes met, I wish to this day I could have taken a picture of the look on her face. I was standing in full uniform behind a reputable counter in a high-end department store, having applied full makeup as required, and I just looked at her. Her embarrassment was so evident as she hung her head and veered quickly in the other direction to pass me as quickly as possible. I never saw her again but I take great pleasure when I think about this, hoping that after that day she gained a little more understanding and perhaps she took some time for research on migraines. This was just a typical example of my experiences with doctors and the constant scrutiny I would undergo with almost every one I encountered.
Years passed in which I would be prescribed everything that had been distributed, dispensed, discovered, and doled-out until 2011, when I met Dr. Victor Mendoza-a Medical Practitioner, Anesthesiologist, Pain Management Doctor and entrepreneur of The Fountain of Youth and Vulcan Pain Management center. His clinic is located in Hoover, Alabama and he is the best. I surmise his goal is toaddress the needs of the whole person rather than just the treatment of symptoms, as this is what he did with me. Visiting with a Doctor of his integrity and empathy was a new experience for me yet it makes perfect sense as our core belief system, in regards to health-care, are the same a Holistic approach. You probably think that most, if not all doctors, treat their patients this way, I am sad to report this is a common misconception. It has been my experience, for over twenty five years, that doctors treat symptoms. After visiting probably hundreds of professionals Doctor Mendoza was the spark I so desperately needed in order to regain trust within the medical establishment, my self-worth, and a desire to live. He recognizes, what I regard to be a new symptom, that it is associated with the stressors in my life and addresses that, therefore alleviating any subsequent conclusion in my mind that I have contracted some horrible new malady. Could we possibly be approaching a new kind of holistic medical proficiency?
I have to add, in fairness to others, how very much I appreciate the few good doctors (experts in their fields) who have remained with me, my appreciation for them is beyond measure. I believe they know they are a minority and are difficult to find, all of them are a rare breed. If any of them happen upon this blog, you will recognize who you are because I show up at your office at least once a year, lol (laugh-out-loud). Doctor Mendoza, as all of you, never gave up on me and I know it has been tempting at times. Some advice if I may, from one of your long-term and I would hope favorite patients; listen a little closer to those who have sought you out, read all the information off the sheet hanging on the door (before entering the room), in addition to the physical treat the mind as well. Never be satisfied with treating just symptoms, giving a diagnosis, and sending patients on their way. You know very well a symptom is like a sharp pain, it is telling a patient that something is happening and they are searching for answers. Find that part of yourself that enjoyed the research, forming treatment plans (specifically designed for each patient), and keep practicing those good bed-side manners. What you give-you get, a universal rule which successful leaders have used for centuries and something America is desperately lacking. If you are in need of a little boost, a Life Coach, let me know, I am here for you as you have been there for me. Doctor Mendoza accomplished making me feel like a patient should, not as a nuisance or someone who raises your blood pressure upon opening the door of the exam room. He is a professional in every sense of the word and no longer do I feel like an enigma, an anomaly or that I should be somewhere getting a facial, instead I feel something that everyone should when visiting a doctor’s office, like a patient who the doctor is happy to see.
Before closing I must tell you of my first visit with the good doctor. I did not see him before an encounter with the head nurse. Upon my arrival, I was literally met at the door by her, something I never anticipated or experienced before. She immediately made me welcome, I felt as though I was visiting a friend I had not seen in years and her empathy towards me was immediate and more than welcome. She had a unique way of putting me at ease as though she had missed seeing me. The only time I felt uncomfortable was what transpired before my session with the doctor. (I must explain, as this has nothing to do with my visit at this clinic but with a young, new nurse, years prior, who took it upon herself to “practice” injecting an I.V., choosing me as her guinea pig. This happened in preparation for my hysterectomy and it was so distressing that I have never been able to come to terms with it.)
After settling into an exam room and while conversing with the nurse (her back facing me), I suddenly became dizzy as I saw her turn away from the counter and begin walking towards me holding in her hand, four of the largest vials I have ever seen! I knew, within a matter of minutes, it would be my blood that would fill those missiles she held. I swear time stopped, it slowed down with each step she took, whatever words she was saying were so diluted like the theatrical antics of a “slow motion” video. I understood nothing as my eyes were glued to the vials she held. Her voice became deeper, slower and her movements where so precise as if she were moving at a snails pace. I waved my hand vigorously in front of my face in a desperate attempt to get air back into the room as it had suddenly been completely sucked out. She ever-so-gently laid these little monsters on the small silver table nestled against the bed I was sitting on, then began to prepare drawing blood, yet that table would not remain still as it spun, with the room, and I realized I was about to pass out.
My mind switched to a visit I had with a physician, years prior to this, where I had asked, “Doctor do you think I am a hypochondriac?”
“No”, she laughed, “We could cure you if you were a hypochondriac!”
Then I was back, sitting on the bed wishing so hard that she had answered “Yes!”.
The nurse used what she referred to as a “baby” needle and I barely felt a pinch. They had me from that moment on because I knew whatever Doctor Mendoza found inside those vials, would give me answers I needed and I was right. I will forever be grateful to this unique individual whose care and concern has not only increased the quality of my life, he has overwhelmed me with the sacrifices I see him make, the care he gives to all his patients, and for treating me with respect as if I was visiting him for the first time, every time I see him.
Degrees: Basic Art Degree; Art Institute, Milwaukee
Continuing Education: Certifications: Uncommon Knowledge, Law of Attraction (LOA)
Awards: As Director of Ruffner Mountain Nature Center I worked with colleagues to develop new Environmental Education Programs which were named to the Environmental Success Index by Renew America Foundation, Wa., D.C., the Best Environmental Education Programs by the Center for Environmental Research and Service at Troy State University, First Prize-Education in the CIVIC Category of the 1990 TAKE PRIDE IN AMERICA CONTEST. Award for Outstanding Achievement in the Development of Artist Skills-featured inILLUSTRATOR Magazine.
Activism: Helped establish and served on the Board of Directors of The Hillcrest Aftercare Association to aid those in prison and half-way houses, Published works in the One Voice: a Catholic Newspaper, The Shooting Star: a quarterly newsletter to members of Ruffner Mountain Nature Center. I have work published in the American Poetry Anthology; available in Colleges around the Country and have one book of poetry published-A Private Writing.
I am a Freelance Writer, Researcher, Artist, Activist, Entrepeneur, and offer hypnosis sessions.I also wrote two instructional programs, for professionals like myself, to help children who have or are suffering(i.e., trauma, death, divorce, etc.) When the programs are used correctly, individuals will gain a greater insight on how to teach children relaxation, meditation, and the use of hypnosis so they may have the opportunity to learn or relearn imperative 'life skills', lost (due to trauma, etc.)during various developmental stages. Adults who suffered as children also benefit greatly from hypnosis. You can retrain your brain as well as change your thinking. It is only spontaneous "thoughts" we have no control over. How we "react" or "act" on those thoughts is what we can change.
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