Colleges and Universities are Part of the Programming

people coffee meeting team

Photo by Startup Stock Photos on Pexels.com

Consider the fact that those of us living in the US know that the history we were taught in school wasn’t an accurate depiction. European settlement and “heroes” are highlighted while the mass killing and displacement of NATIVE Americans is barely taught or extremely downplayed. Kids are still being taught the nonsense of how Thanksgiving commemorates the Europeans and Native Americans coming together to share a bounty. In the way that elementary school history is tailored to teach kids only what the powers that be want us to believe, so too do colleges and universities spoon feed us the knowledge from decided upon text books that give us the story/information that they want us to believe, in ALL subjects. This is why we must question absolutely EVERYTHING.

I understand that the fact that I was able to take out loans and go out of state for college is considered a privlege that not everyone gets to experience. I also understand the way things are set up makes a college degree a necessity for many types of professions. With that said, I want to pose to you that in this moment in time during a grand awakening where more and more people are waking up all the time to the truth that they are infinite consciousness in human form, the last thing people need is further programming from the system in the form of degrees.

The only people getting degrees should be those who are aligned with their spirit and have a strong knowing about their soul’s purpose in this life and it involves a line of work that requires a degree. Gone should be the days where high school students are blindly pushed by parents and the system to pick a career at the age of 18, and go to college right away because they feel like that’s just what they’re supposed to do. We’ve got to move past the fear-based programming, beyond focusing our energy on becoming what our families expect from us, and into a more heart-guided space of freedom and curiosity.

We have already seen young people graduating from four-year schools unable to find jobs. This is after going into MASSIVE amounts of debt as tuition keeps rising and rising! Having a college degree is no longer a guarantee for employment. Most of the time, newly graduated high school students don’t know themselves well enough to be able to choose a career and therefore a degree that’s going to resonate with them when all is said and done.

How many of us really knew what we wanted to do with our lives when we were 18? I remember picking my degree in marine biology based on my love for the ocean and marine animals. I loved animals, therefore I chose biology. I wanted to help the planet, so I chose a second degree in Environmental Studies, Conservation Biology. I didn’t know how I intended to use these degrees. At the time, I also saw going to college as a way to get out of the town where I grew up. It ended up working out, because my first career revolved around working on various wildlife and fisheries projects all over the US. Those positions required a science degree.

As I mentioned, tuition has gone through the roof since I was in school. It’s a terrible combination when we have young kids choosing to go to college from a place of fear or from pressure from their families, because it sets them up to go into many thousands of dollars in debt while possibly aligning them with a degree that they won’t use or a career that they hate. It’s an easy way to get lots of people trapped into a lifetime of debt that will require that they get locked into the slog of a 9-5 job. Read how the slog affects us in my last post “We’ve Been Locked in an Energetic Prison”.

If we, as the human race, want to see REAL change happen in this world, then we’re going to have to start looking at things, and doing things completely differently than we generally have been. We have to do new things and think new thoughts if we want different results. Part of this means assessing the pedestal that we’ve been placing higher education on. We have to be willing to contemplate if further schooling is actually teaching people how to learn and question things for themselves, or if it’s further locking them into the herd mentality where they believe everything they’ve been taught in school. And that they’ve been so trained to stay in line and care what other people think of them that they don’t dare question anything for themselves.

The peace and freedom of the human race is going to come from breaking free from the herd mentality while realizing that we know nothing about how the world actually works, because our five senses are THAT limited. We did not come into this life with odds something like 1 in 400 trillion to simply be a sheep and fall in line with everyone else. We are all different reflections of the same source/god/universe energy that is seeking out a new, different experience of the world through our own unique perceptions and actions.

Humans tend to get so locked into the belief systems that have been fed to them that they are willing to defend them with their lives — see wars waged over religious beliefs. We grow up believing that all that our teachers and parents tell us, because we don’t know any better. But, they were fed what they are teaching us. Then, we defend that knowledge and take personal offense if someone offers an opposing viewpoint to what the masses have been taught. Yet we supposedly live in a “free” society infamous for our “free” speech. Kids bully other kids who don’t ‘fit in’, and adults bully other adults through gossip, bad-mouthing, and cyber-bullying behind the safety of their screen when what someone is saying or doing falls outside of the PROGRAMMED ‘accepted norm’. You ever wonder where these ‘societal norms’ even come from? I have been really focusing on noticing my thoughts and beliefs and questioning all of them in the last several years. I really have come to know that I know very little of how this world works, so I am less inclined to hold so tightly to any belief that I have, even if it is one that I have been carrying around with me for a long time.

We’ve been programmed to be the police for each other, keeping each other ‘in line’. If you’ve never read the book “The Four Agreements” by Don Miguel Ruiz, then I highly suggest that you do. One of the agreements that I have found myself focusing on a lot over the last several years is to not take anything personally. The truth is that nothing anyone says or does is because of us. We are in a lot of ways, all living in own own, personal simulation game. Because there is so much going on around us at any given time, our minds have to block some of the stimuli from our awareness or it would all completely overwhelm us. So, based on our past experiences, our minds decide what is important for us to take note of. Two of us walking down the same street would have a completely different experience because our unique perceptions would be allowing and disallowing different information from entering our field of perception. For instance, I may notice flowers that are like the ones my parents used to grow in our front yard, while you may be oblivious to the flowers while instead noticing a car like the one you just bought recently. Because our individual realities are painted with what our mind chooses to focus on either subconsciously or consciously, our thoughts literally create our reality.

I am thankful for the experiences that my degrees have allowed me to have, but I also acknowledge the fact that I’ve had to spend a lot of time letting go of the beliefs that I was spoon fed in school, so that I could become a free-thinker willing to question everything I’ve been taught and had come to believe so strongly. I pay attention to my intuition when I learn something new, and only take the information that I can feel resonates with me. I release anything that doesn’t feel like my truth.

Just as someone who grew up within the confines of a specific religion has to reprogram their mind once they  realize that the church’s message is no longer resonating with them, I’ve had to reprogram my mind to not take everything touted by science as fact. The reality is that we are only being taught what our government and state wants us to believe. How many degrees of separation do you think stand between our government, and big pharma, big agriculture, big business, and colleges and universities? In my research, I’m finding not many. It’s all connected. And a the main intention behind these entities is overall control of the population and profit. This is why it’s imperative that we start releasing our grip on our beliefs, and questioning everything! We must not take anything at face value. If we want to be free-thinkers who instead of following the crowd, we must start following our own intuition and inner knowing.

Pay attention to the fact that many of us who grew up questioning everything, are usually the one in our families who felt alone and unlike everyone else. We were planted into our families to shake up the status quo. Our children are also playing this role on an even grander scale. As parents, it can be difficult to raise such strong-willed children, but it’s so important in the bigger picture. They are here to stretch and expand us and this dimension in time, while staying more true and authentic to themselves. We are meant to learn from them, not punish or drug them. We’re being shown that we need to do things differently if we want different results, so can you see the divinity of how our kids do things differently and don’t accept the answer of “oh we do it that way, because that’s just the way it’s always been done”?

Just in my healing journey alone, I have seen enough holes in science and my education to know that it’s not the end all, be all that it’s made out to be. Big pharma and insurance have far too much say in how we’re caring for people with dis-ease in this country. Doctors and hospitals receive large kick backs from both when they push certain medications and vaccinations. For example, the hospital I worked in began to require everyone to get a yearly flu vaccine even when the effectiveness of a particular year’s vaccine was shown to only be 10-30%. Do we really believe that this requirement has anything to do with preventing the flu? Question everything.

We have a bunch of mandatory vaccines being given to babies in the US which continues to increase every year, yet we have one of the highest mortality rates for babies of any country in the world. I would maybe believe that the US’ medical system and policies are on point when it comes to infant care if our babies here weren’t dying in record numbers especially given that we are a first-world country. We’re missing the mark big time. It’s time to question everything.

In my nursing program, we were not taught about Lyme Disease, something that I had been battling myself. The only mention of it to my class came because I had an instructor whose daughter had Lyme Disease. There is a huge conspiracy going on with the treatment of Lyme despite the fact that it is projected that the 30,000 new cases a year is actually probably closer 300,000. Find and watch “Under Our Skin” if you want more details about the agenda behind the lack of proper tests and treatment for Lyme. Insurance companies have such control over the treatment of Lyme, that it is virtually impossible to receive adequate antibiotic treatment without going to a specialist and paying out-of-pocket. Doctors have been taken to court and have lost their license to practice medicine over the treatment they prescribe. Doctors aren’t even educated on Lyme. When I was diagnosed, I had doctors in my  area who had been involved in my care get defensive when I told them I had Lyme, stating that there isn’t Lyme in this area. Bullshit. I know many people who have gotten it in this area. They seemed to take offense, because they weren’t the ones to figure out my mystery illness. I witnessed the most petty responses from my doctors including one that I had really come to respect. Question everything.

Alternative therapies such as homeopathy are often discredited, while big pharma medications are continually pushed on the general public through near constant commercials on TV and through advertising posted in every doctor’s office. The effectiveness of homeopathy is so downplayed even though it has been credited with the turnaround of many people’s dis-ease, including my own. Doesn’t it make sense that a treatment that’s minimally expensive, but has the propensity to get people off of their big pharma- supplied medications would be downplayed and vehemently argued against? Question everything.

We’re taught to protect ourselves from the sun, but we need it for vitamin D production. There are people who have been wearing sunscreen SPF 50 and covering up, and are STILL getting skin cancer. We have to wonder if the sunscreens are actually CAUSING the skin cancer. Try limiting sun exposure and covering up when you’re going to be in the sun for a long time. Question everything.

The two political parties roll out the same agendas term after term with slight variations to make us believe that one is doing better or worse than the last guy. It’s all the same thing being carried out by different puppets. Yet people hold such strong convictions that they turn on friends and family and allow their own energetic vibration to drop because of what the latest puppet is doing or saying. It’s meant to divide us and drop us into a lower vibrational state. Question everything.

The way to our alignment with our spirit is by jumping out of the herd mentality and following the beat of our own drum. We are all very unique versions of the same source on purpose. We should not seek from outside of ourselves for the knowledge that we all hold within.

We find our purpose when we show up as our 100% authentic and vulnerable selves ready and willing to do, say, and think new things even if no one else is doing it. That’s when we find our unique contribution to this world — through our own, unique, individual expression of the source energy that we all are.

Learn to educate yourself. Question everything. Accept only what resonates with you at your core, and release the rest. Read the banned and censored books (1984 anyone?). Expand your awareness to include the things that they don’t teach us in school. Consider that we are able to perceive very little in this world, so don’t hold tight to any one thought or belief. Much of what we’re taught is backwards from the way things actually are. Question everything.

Align with your own spirit, so that you allow your intuition to be your guide, not the voices from the outside world. We each hold all of the answers we seek.

Thank you for reading along. If you enjoyed this post, please like and share it. You might enjoy following me on IG for more uplifting content.

Navigating Through New Lands: Part 3 of my Health Journey

Photo: A glimpse of my planner for September 2012

It has been a while since I shared parts of my healing journey, so if you need a recap, you can read Part 1 HERE and Part 2 HERE.  I had a pretty nasty herx during that visit to Colorado, and wasn’t expecting that severity of chest pain again, along with vomiting and diarrhea.  So I got scared, and went to the local clinic and asked for a prednisone prescription, because it was the only thing that I knew would take the chest pain away. The chest pain was severe, and medications would not touch it.  At the time, I didn’t really put two and two together that I was having a reaction because of the injection of antibiotics I had gotten from the doctor in LA. I hadn’t really thought about the fact that antibiotics would cause my symptoms to worsen before they got better. So I wasn’t prepared to handle the 10/10 chest pain that I was experiencing. I was far from home which meant I was far away from my primary doctor or my cardiologist who could prescribe pain medication for me.

So, I did what I could to get through that time.  I took the supplements that the specialist had given me, and followed the guidelines of things I could do to lessen the herx reaction.  I was forced to lay low, and missed a lot of the fun activities with family during that trip.

I had been instructed by the specialist to have my prescriptions for antibiotics filled when I got home from Colorado and to start taking them at that point.  I started treatment on July 12, 2012, and my world was again turned upside down.  The chest pain, high fevers (up to 103 I believe), and general malaise were unbearable at times, and I really felt like I would die.  I was doing so terribly that my husband at the time arranged it so that he could work from home, afraid that something might happen to me while he was gone.  Aside from the initial instance of illness where I passed out repeatedly from near heart failure, this time in July and August 2012 was the scariest time of my life to date.  I did little more than lie on the couch in pain, sleep, and get up to use the bathroom.  Walking to the mailbox that was about 30 feet (10 meters) from our house was unbearable, because of the severity of my chest pain.  All physical activity aggravated my pain.  I was essentially on body-enforced bed rest with a 3 year old who needed me and didn’t understand why I wasn’t the one mostly taking care of him anymore.  That was really difficult for me.

I ended up getting hooked on the show “The Walking Dead”.  I learned pretty quickly that laughing at comedies, and crying during dramas made me hurt worse.  At that time, zombies created very little emotional response from me, because I viewed it as completely fake and unrealistic.  The summer of 2012 was a bit of a blur.  My severe herx lasted for about a month.  Pain medications prescribed to me by my cardiologist began working, though I was having very strange arrhythmias that I could feel.  For my friends in healthcare, on July 20th, I found out that my CRP was 491 (normal is 0-3) and my sedrate was 103 (normal is about 0-29)!  I ended up having a 24 hour heart monitor placed at one point, but then it the weird heart beats stopped and nothing was revealed.  I remember going to my primary care NP during this time, and speaking to her about how awful I was feeling and how scared I was.  She encouraged me to keep track of the kinds of days I was having by drawing a smiley face, neutral face, or sad face on each calendar day of my planner.  I encourage you to try this method for yourself if you’re experiencing a lot of ups and downs with your health right now as you move towards healing.  It can be a good way to realize that you DO have good days.

I was nervous about heading into my last semester of nursing school with the way my summer had stacked up.  I honestly didn’t know if I would be able to complete the program.  I emailed my teachers to let them know that I wasn’t sure that I’d be finishing with the rest of my class.  I knew that if the chest pain and fevers persisted that there was no way that I could focus on school and physically be able to walk to all of my classes.  But luckily, as the days went on and I continued to take all of my medications and supplements to help with my herx reaction, I started having more smiley face days, than frowns.  On August 4th, I actually got to leave the house and went to a local baseball game with my family.  It felt so good to be outside again.  Aside from doctor’s appointments, I had not left my house in nearly a month!  By August 15th, I was back in my first lecture of my last semester of nursing school.  My planner from that semester is loaded with classes, assignments, clinical shifts, doctor appointments, and events and sports related to my son.  Remembering back to how i felt during that time, and seeing the fluctuation in smiley faces and frowns (that persisted into October), I am amazed that I pulled it all off!!  I completed the semester with my class and went to my Pinning Ceremony on 12/13/12.

By the end of that year, I was feeling a lot better.  In fact, I only kept track of my good and bad days into the beginning of November.  I was feeling more back to myself, and because I had been off of the prednisone since July, I was losing the extra weight gradually.  I don’t think I was prepared for my emotions that released following my Pinning.  The whole thing had been emotional, listening to students and our professors speak, one of which was undergoing treatment for brain cancer that eventually took her life.  She had been the one who fostered my love of working with the babies.  After the ceremony, some of us went outside.  It was just us students.  And I started bawling my eyes out.  I was excited, sure, after all I had worked so hard for this day and had overcome so many obstacles to get there.  But more than that, it was like this thing that I had been focusing on for so long was no longer my focus.  I realized in that moment how much school had been keeping me going.  It redirected my focus and allowed me to focus on something bigger than myself, bigger than all of my problems at the time.  It felt like all of my accumulated stress and sadness of the last 3 years began flowing out of me through my tears.

This portion of my story culminated with me taking and passing the NCLEX exam in January, flying home with my son to see our family, and then landing my first full-time Registered Nurse position in the local hopsital on the oncology unit that I started in March of 2013.  As this was happening, my marriage was coming to a close.  By May of 2013, I was living on my own, working full-time as a Registered Nurse, and taking care of my son on my days off.  I continued traveling to LA (and then to one in San Francisco) regularly to see my Lyme Disease specialist and was having my labs closely monitored.  I continued taking oral antibiotics daily, as well as other medications, and many handfuls of supplements.  I was tired after my 12 hour shifts in the hospital, but my heart felt full, because I was using my experiences to help other people.  I used what I had been through to draw in even more empathy and compassion for all of the patients who crossed my path.

I began to feel a lot better, because I was no longer hiding my truth behind the busyness of nursing school and I was following my intuition to a new life for me and my son.  It took moving through a lot of fear.  I had to let go of a lot of ideals I was holding in my mind’s eye.  I had, after all, really wanted to create an intact and happy family for my son that I did not feel I had as a child.  I had to let go of something I had comitted to, because I had to start fully putting my happiness and health first.  For so many years of my life, I had always put myself last, not feeling worthy of love, not loving myself.  My illness forced me to put myself first for a change, and it was a very uncomfortable process.  But I can tell you that from where I am now, it was a very necessary process.

You see, I have now worked intimately with thousands of people as a Registered Nurse, and I also have people reach out to me now with serious, mystery health issues of their own.  We all seem to have a common thread, an underlying lack of self-love.  It can take years to recognize it.  Maybe you’re reading this and can relate, or maybe it will open your eyes to it for the first time ever.  Think about it:  do you take good care of yourself in all ways? Do you love and accept yourself (and show it) fully? Are you always putting other people’s needs or the seemingly endless needs of the world before your own?  Do you supress your emotions to make other people feel more comfortable?  Are you a people pleaser and/or a peace keeper?  We’ve all got to dig down deep to get to the cause of our dis-ease, or lack of enthusiasm about our lives.  I have found self-love to be paramount to my healing in all ways body, mind, and spirit.

If you’re struggling with chronic illness, I encourage you to really look at your relationship with yourself first and foremost.  Loving myself and taking good care of myself has been my biggest, foundation-building lesson from my dis-ease.  Even at Part 3, my healing journey did not stop here…to be continued.

Work With Me

If you’re on a healing journey of your own, and are feeling overwhelmed reach out to me at peacefuljellyfish@gmail.com.  I would love to work with you to create some healing and transformational magic in your life!

Thank you for reading!  If you liked this post, please like and share it.  Much love!

Lost: Part 1 of My Health Journey

I had my son when I was 29, almost 30.  I was not a nurse at that time.  I had been a wildlife and fisheries field biologist for most of 10 years, and had lived and worked in 10 different states.  I was working in Sequoia National Park doing a little bit of everything for various departments before my son was born.  When my son was six months old, I came down with something.  I got sick.  A cold or something, I wasn’t sure. I noticed that I was getting short of breath walking up the steep hill to our mailbox, and on an 8 mile hike in Sequoia National Park, I had to stop to take a break to breathe, which wasn’t normal for me.  The night after the 8 mile hike, I was having pain in my chest when I was swallowing my food, and ended up with a fever.  I felt so awful that I would have likely gone to the hospital that night was it not a 45 minute drive away and night-time which meant my baby was finally asleep.  I remember not wanting to wake him up. I was breastfeeding, and in the few weeks of feeling ill, he started wanting to eat as often as a newborn, and I was completely exhausted.  He was eating almost every hour.  I slept that night and woke up drenched in sweat and feeling better, my fever had broken.  But then, in the following days, I began to run a fever of 102, so I decided to go to the local clinic in town.  The Physician’s Assistant there asked if my heart rate was normally high. I remember telling her that the symptoms seemed to get worse when I hiked, and she asked what I was doing hiking when I was sick.  She thought I had pneumonia.  She gave me a z-pack and an order for a chest x-ray should I start to feel worse.  I took the antibiotic daily, but was not really feeling better, and was still running fevers, so I called the clinic to ask about coming in again.  They told me to finish the whole round of antibiotics and to wait and see how I felt then.

I never ended up calling the office back.  On November 27, 2009, Thanksgiving Day, I woke up exhausted.  I remember being awake for a little while and being hungry, but being so tired that once I had fed my son, I went back to bed with him for a nap.  My now ex-husband was home from work for the holiday.  At one point, I woke up feeling nauseous.  My son was sleeping in my bed, and I remember carefully placing the pillows so that he would not roll out of bed when I got up to go throw up.  And instead of going to the bathroom connected to the master bedroom because I didn’t want to wake him up, I headed out of the bedroom towards the second bathroom.  I remember my husband was sitting in the living room as I walked by.  I told him that I felt like I was going to throw up.  I started feeling dizzy and so I started grabbing out for the walls as I walked.  The next thing I knew, I woke up lying on my back on the living room floor.  My husband was yelling “Jammie! Jammie!” at the top of his lungs.  He was on the phone telling the 911 operator that I was awake.  Apparently, I had passed out.  My husband told me that my eyes rolled back and that I looked dead. He was about to start CPR when I woke up.  After an hour of waiting and lying on the floor, an ambulance came and they placed a neck brace on me and got me on a gurney and into the ambulance for a 45 minute ride to the hospital.  Once I was there, I learned that because of flu season, my husband was not allowed to come into the hospital with our son, so I sat in the ER room alone, waiting for answers.  A chest x-ray and lab work later, a doctor came in telling me that my heart appeared enlarged and that it was a condition that sometimes happened to women after having a child.  It later changed to me having fluid around my heart.  I relayed this info via phone to my husband outside the hospital. Mind you, neither one of us is from California and we had zero family members around. The people we did know locally we had just met about 1.5 years prior when we moved to California from Oregon.  I remember not really knowing what the information about my heart meant.  There was talk of removing the fluid.  I waited in the ER all day with no food or water until they got me a room on 3W, the step down ICU, because they wanted to make sure that I was monitored closely.

At this time, I did not yet have a primary doctor in the area.  After all, I was generally healthy and seldom even went to the doctor.  Somehow, they eventually allowed my husband and son in the hospital to be with me.  We were told that I was going to have the fluid around my heart removed with a procedure calling a pericardial window, and they would also get a biopsy of my pericardium.  They believed that I had pericarditis, inflammation of the lining of my heart.  That night, I passed out 3 more times.  I would get nauseous and then my vision would get blurry.  And I would get so scared, because I knew I was going to pass out.  I’d yell for my nurse and she’d come running in.  I’d wake up with 20 people in my hospital room, and once, I had an ambu bag on my face helping to oxygenate me.  The crash cart (the one used during code blues) lived at the foot of my bed.  Initially, I was still getting up to use the bathroom with assistance, but I would cough and cough.  I had a splitting headache from not eating anything all day, and I remember the beeps of alarms going off all night because my heart rate was high.  By the time they needed me to shower with the soap to prep me for surgery in the morning, I was too weak and told them I couldn’t get up anymore, so they gave me a bed bath.  I was having cardiac tamponade because of the fluid, my heart was not pumping like it should. My heart was starting to fail.  After breastfeeding my son exclusively for 7 months, my husband had to go to the store and buy formula and bottles and hope that he’d take it that night, which luckily he did.  My nurse called the surgeon repeatedly because I kept passing out. And I remember my nurse telling me that she felt bad for my husband because she said that when I passed out, I did it for a minute or more at a time, and that I looked dead. She said it was scary.  Luckily, rather than waiting for 6 am, the surgeon finally came in at 3 am to perform the pericardial window.

I woke up in immense pain after surgery, because they had not wanted to give me a lot of medications that would affect them determining what was going on with me.  They had removed 400 mL of fluid from around my heart, yet the surgeon was not convinced that this would cause me to have so many problems.  For those of you in healthcare, my sedrate and CRP values were through the roof.  I believe my CRP was in the 200’s.  CRP is a lab test to measure inflammation in the body.  To this day, when I run into my cardiologist in the hospital, he comments on how high my sedrate and CRP were. (And gives me a hug…I ended up with the sweetest cardiologist in town!)  And fellow health care professionals reading this, PLEASE be sure to medicate your patients BEFORE you remove their chest tubes!  The pain was excruciating when it was removed and I screamed loudly several times.  And I have learned that I have a pretty high tolerance for pain.  I swear I harbor some PTSD from having that gigantic hose removed from my chest.

I spent 6 days in the hospital.  I was told that they had not seen any signs of cancer, and that they thought I had idiopathic pericarditis which was a fancy way for the doctors to say that they had no idea what caused my pericarditis.  I went home on prednisone and colchicine to decrease the inflammation.  They said that I had a 10% chance of the pericarditis coming back.  At the time, that sounded great to me, after all, the cardiologist didn’t say I had a 90% chance!  So I went home and started to get back to life.  I even went cross-country skiing in the Giant Forest 4 weeks after my surgery. I was feeling great and was so glad to be alive.  I felt like I was given a new lease on life!

I had always considered becoming a nurse, but this time in the hospital gave me a big push in that direction.  My son was a huge motivating factor in me going back to school, because I wanted more stability and more time off to spend with him.  Even in the hospital as I was recovering from surgery, I remember asking some of my nurses about nursing school and their experience.  As soon as I got out of the hospital, I applied to the local community college, and began emailing the other people in the Park who I knew had started nursing school to ask their advice for getting into the two prerequisite courses I needed for the nursing program.  In the 6 weeks after being released from the hospital, we moved into town, and I started my Microbiology and Physiology classes.  I was healing OK and seeing my cardiologist regularly as he monitored my labs and my medications.  I sometimes biked with my son to my appointments, and we were always the youngest people in the waiting room. During one of the first times that he tried to wean me off the prednisone, I had a flare of pericarditis return, and I began throwing up.  I was so afraid that I would need to have surgery and another chest tube.  I ended up back in the hospital again with a smaller amount of fluid around my heart.  I waited for an echocardiogram to be done so that we would know the doctor’s intended plan of care.  During that stay, they tested me for more things like Valley Fever and Lyme Disease and had an infectious disease doctor consult on my case.  They pumped me full of steroids and even gave me some IV antibiotics.  But still, no answers came.  I was told that all of the tests were negative.  My sedrate and CRP were once again elevated, but not as high as they had been.  After several days, and me begging to be released so that I could get back to my baby and my classes, I was once again discharged from the hospital on prednisone and colchicine.

After this recurrence that landed me in the hospital, I got wise, and stopped going to the hospital for my chest pain.  Instead, my cardiologist would have me increase my prednisone back to 40 mg per day, and then we’d work to wean me off again. In the end, I was decreasing my daily doses by 0.5 to 1 mg per day over a week’s time!  The process was excruciating.  I’d get to 7 mg and have a flare and have to start back at 40 mg a day again.  This cycle continued this way for YEARS. I was referred to a rheumatologist who also had difficulty weaning me off the steroids, and attempted to add daily doses of injectable methotrexate to the mix.  I was taking medications for medications because of the side effects.

During this time, I was exhausted all of the time.  I remember, at times, choosing sleep over studying for big exams.  But, I held my own, and continued being the best Mom I could while also attending nursing school.  I worked to remain positive and hopeful that I would get answers, and eventually, my health back.  The steroids lent themselves to a weight gain of 40+ pounds over my usual weight, the typical moon-shaped face, and hump on my upper back, not to mention insomnia, and irritability.  I remember feeling like I was trapped in a body that was completely unfamiliar to me.  I had spent the better part of 10 years hiking, backpacking, and camping for work, and now here I was, afraid to exert myself physically for fear of triggering a flare of the chest pain.  Strangely, I was living my life pretty normally aside from my personal health struggles, and the people I met during that time had never known me to look any different.  So, I fell into the category of people who look fine and healthy to strangers, yet are facing major health challenges every day.  I have never been one to complain, and I was determined to become a nurse so that I could help other people who found themselves sick in the hospital, so many of my classmates didn’t even know of my health struggles.

During nursing school, I kept up with all of the other students.  I arranged my schedule around classes and clinicals, caring for my son and getting him to daycare, along with frequent doctor’s appointments.  In the summers between semesters, I was home alone much of the time caring for my son and juggling my appointments, the upkeep of a house and two large dogs while my ex-husband went on extended work trips to the back country.  I look back sometimes and am completely amazed at myself!  We humans are capable of handling so much, so very much.

It was my son who gave me the strength to move forward every day.  Every day, I pushed myself to get out of bed for him.  He motivated me to get us out of the house and go on adventures as much as possible. During this time, I struggled with grief for my lost health and also depression, but I never spent my days in bed crying, because my son needed me.  Thank goodness he needed me, because as it turns out, I REALLY needed him.  As humans, we all have a strong will to live.  We hear about it in stories of people in life and death situations.  My son multiplied my will to live and thrive in this life by infinity.  And for him, I am forever grateful.  My son is my sunshine.

Matisyahu “Sunshine”

…to be continued…

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