Zip, zoom! There went my day.

I woke up around noon, feeling like I had a surprising amount of energy considering that my rheumatologist appointment was yesterday and I’d spent two days anxious about it and pushing myself into an intentional flare, so that he’d see what I deal with on such a regular basis. I had high hopes of beading all day. And then it felt like someone just snuck up and stole all of my spoons while I wasn’t looking, before I actually got anything accomplished.

Suddenly, it’s ten hours later. I’ve posted the two new pieces that I made  yesterday to my shop, this blog and Facebook. I responded to a few short messages to the Baubles & Blessings page. I went through a package of charms that came in, caught up on page comments… And somehow that was my entire day. I feel like I’ve been thinking through thick mud — and a headache — all day.

Though I have been nearly completely certain that what I have is fibro for a number of years now and that thought was echoed by my former PCP, I hesitated to speak about it publicly for a long time because I was bullied and accused of faking it. Now that I have an official diagnosis, I plan to post here regularly about what it’s like to try to get through life in this body, mainly for those who care about me but don’t get it. If that doesn’t describe you but you get something positive from me sharing my experiences — commiseration, understanding of someone you love, etc — then these posts are for you, too.

For now, I’m going to crawl into bed, get some ice on my knee (which sounds like a preferable alternative to the rheumy’s suggestion that I get it drained), hydrate and do something that doesn’t take a lot of brainpower. My batteries feel like they’re going to need another day or two to recharge, though I’m hoping to be able to do some beading tomorrow and hubby will hopefully have a doctor’s appointment on Thursday, to which I plan on accompanying him.

As always, thanks for being here, being you and being awesome!


Bri

It’s official.

It’s been just over fourteen years since the car accidents that first kicked off my chronic pain. I was barely 21 at the time. For the first, I was a passenger in a car stopped at a red light. We were rear-ended by someone who never even noticed the red light. A week or two later, I was crossing the street and was hit on foot. It happened so quickly that, though I flew up onto her windshield and caused the whole thing to become one giant spiderweb of safety glass, I thought that the car just hit me and I fell down. When I saw a chiropractor shortly after, the X-rays showed that the S curve in my neck was completely backwards.

I’ve had chronic pain ever since. Once the bumps and bruises healed, it was mostly in my lower back and hips. I’ve had so many invasive procedures and taken so many medications to try to help with the pain. Over the years, more and more soft tissue and nerve issues popped up. Some have been transitory, coming and going, while others have tended to take up semi-permanent residency, along with insomnia and terrible fatigue.

I’ve used a cane to help support my back — and sometimes joint injuries — for about seven years now. I don’t always need it and often skip using it around the apartment, but I can’t leave the house without it.

Over the past six months, I’ve been getting more nerve and joint pain in the mix. No one has quite been able to explain this, though the rheumatologist with whom I had my first appointment today is recommending that my PCP have more imaging and a few blood tests done when she returns from maternity leave in the spring. In the meantime, I finally have an official diagnosis of fibromyalgia. Part of the reason that I was referred to the rheumatologist in the first place was testing positive for ANA and Sjogren’s antibodies, but he said that the positives were so low that I shouldn’t worry about it, with so few of the main symptoms.

So I’m relieved. I’ve basically known that I had fibro for about ten years now. My last doctor always referred to me as having fibro but never diagnosed me or referred me to someone who might diagnose me. So I’ve just been in this limbo, treating symptoms but not being positive what’s going on with my body. And a lot of nasty people have called me a faker or tried to make me feel like everything was in my head and I’d be able-bodied if I just tried harder. This diagnosis is validating for me in a huge way, and it’s definitely the least scary option considering all of the symptoms I’ve been dealing with for over a decade, in increasing frequency and severity.

To everyone who’s ever tried to make me feel like I was making it up, I hope that your life has evolved beyond bullying sick people who are down on their luck. To everyone who has believed in me and given me friendship, understanding and love during this journey, you have my undying gratitude.

Much love and the brightest of blessings to you!


Bri

Can you help?

We are having serious trouble making ends meet right now, with the expense of traveling to frequent doctor’s appointments and everyday needs piling up. We both work hard, are disabled, and we receive no government assistance outside of SNAP benefits and Medicaid.

My sales have been less than $250 in December, and anyone who’s ever had their own small business knows that means about $125 or so net income for me. AJ’s paychecks barely cover rent and bills. If I don’t make sales, that means no sanitary products, cleaning products, no groceries for the 1/3-1/2 a month not covered by SNAP benefits, no CBD tincture for my chronic pain, none of the many OTC meds and supplements that help us function a little bit better.

I know that things are hard all-around right now, but if you could please take a moment to consider whether you may be able to help us out in any of the ways mentioned below, I would appreciate it so very much!

– Visit my shop and see if there is anything that calls to you. I am always happy to make payment arrangements and work on custom orders! ❤
– Visit the Baubles & Blessings FB page to catch up on recent posts, and interact to help boost the signal. If no one interacts with posts, FB stops showing them to additional page fans.
– Check out our GoFundMe page and consider making a contribution. I’m working on grab bags now!
– Take a peek at our Amazon wish list and consider whether you may be able to help by ordering a piece of clothing or health-related item. I would be thrilled to offer you a gift code for B&B in thanks!
– Help spread the word about my work.
– Consider whether you may have something to contribute for the upcoming Facebook event and auction.

Thank you so much for your time and consideration!

Much love and many blessings,
Bri

It’s been a while…

I apologize for being so quiet over here. I’ve been sick, dealing with a lot more pain than usual, and I just haven’t had energy to keep up with a bunch of sites. Since Facebook is where most of my customers and fans are, that tends to be where my default attention goes. (You can also join my Facebook group.) I’ll try to be better about updating here in the new year.

In the meantime, all outstanding orders have been shipped aside from two custom orders that I’ll be getting to this week. I’m working on taking care of the remaining grab bags from our GoFundMe fundraiser, which I have temporarily reopened because the usual holiday boost in sales did not happen this year. It’s the middle of December and I’ve had a little over $200 in sales this month. Ouch.

This is tough for us, because we’ve been so sick and weak that we’ve had to take cabs to doctor’s appointments, which have been plentiful as hubby and I are both working with our doctors to finally get to the bottom of our chronic health issues. I recently had positive ANA and Sjögren’s test results, so I’ll be seeing my new rheumatologist in a couple of weeks. I’m really excited to finally be working toward one or more official diagnoses and the potential for feeling better after a decade of getting progressively sicker, but also kind of terrified about what they might be and what treatment options are going to look like on top of the med cocktail I already take for PCOS and other issues.

If you’re not big on the grab bag idea, I also have a sale running at the moment. For the rest of the year, use the code “BYE2015” in my shop to save 20% on all ready to ship jewelry.

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Want to show your support but can’t shop at the moment? Interacting with my Facebook posts would be super helpful in extending my reach. Word of mouth is also amazing advertising!

If you love my work but nothing in my shop at the moment is calling to you, please feel free to contact me about a custom order. I’m also happy to make payment arrangements if you’re in love with a piece that’s a bit outside of your current budget.

As always, thanks for being here, being you and being awesome! ❤

Much love and many blessings,
Bri

Catching up & 30% off!

Hello, friends!

I’m so sorry that it’s been so long since I’ve updated here! I’ve been getting overwhelmed when trying to post an update, so I think the easiest way to get you caught up is to share a post that was published on Facebook a couple of weeks ago.

I have since gotten caught up on shipping, and I am planning to ship again at the end of next week. I also have a fairly quick turnaround time for most custom orders at the moment. Please get in touch as soon as possible if you’re interested in a custom piece as a holiday gift, to ensure that I am able to ship in time for whichever holiday(s) you may celebrate, and be sure to tell me in advance when your deadline is.

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I also have a 30% off deal running through the end of the week! As many of you know, I am a medical marijuana patient. I go through about one small bottle of CBD tincture weekly. I can’t afford much, but the small amount that I take helps me function and get through most days without crazy amounts of pain. The policies of the dispensary that has delivered to me for months have changed, and I now basically have to order in bulk or pay exorbitant delivery fees for my usual small orders. So I’m looking to raise funds for three bottles, which would mean no fee.

At the same time, about half of the supplements and OTC meds that we take on a daily basis are about to run out. Neither of us will be able to function well if we run out of staples like OTC painkillers, decongestants and meds that help us avoid IBS flares.

We sincerely appreciate any and all help getting the word out about this fundraiser! I’m also running low on beading wire and may be running out temporarily, but I will do my best to get some new goodies posted while this event is happening, starting tonight. If you want to help but can’t afford to shop at the moment or nothing I have listed in the shop speaks to you, please remember that interacting with recent posts on my Facebook page helps a lot with boosting the signal. In particular, I would appreciate it so much if you’d consider liking, commenting on and/or sharing this post.

Thank you so much for your time and attention! I’m hoping to be fully back on the ball soon. 🙂

Blessings,
Bri

Thanks so much for your support!

2015-07-21-Testosterone-3Thank you all so much for your support!

A few days ago, AJ (Bri’s hubby, for anyone new here) got his first testosterone prescription in 3.5 years. He officially restarted T today.

Because he had trouble with his body burning through the testosterone so quickly when he was doing injections, he decided to try the gel this time — and because of his prior experience, it was covered by insurance.

We are so grateful to be in Washington, where we qualify for Medicaid and trans healthcare is covered. We are also incredibly grateful to the Baubles & Blessings family, for all of your moral support, signal boosts and purchases. We could not have made this wild cross-country leap of faith happen if not for your help. We want to share our successes and baby steps toward greater health, happiness and stability as they happen.

Bless each and every one of you!

❤ Bri & AJ

A brief story, and a challenge…

A few hours ago, I went to get a handful of things at the more expensive but WAY more convenient grocery store, which is just a 10 minute walk away. On the way back, I ran into an inebriated young man who asked to use my phone. I thought about it for a second and didn’t feel like he was any kind of threat, so I let him use my phone to call his mother for a ride.

I didn’t feel right just walking away and wanted to make sure that he got home safely, especially when I noticed that he had a Livestrong bracelet, recently shaved head, and that he was super thin. So I went into the gas station and got him a Gatorade, and hung out with him while he waited for his ride. After half an hour, I called his mother back to make sure she knew where to find him. It turned out that someone had come by, didn’t see him — he was sitting down next to the ice machine out front — and had then left. So I told her exactly where he was, and his sister came to get him shortly thereafter.

My new friend told me that he’d been attacked by three men earlier tonight. He was running around in socks without any shoes, and he had dried blood on his face. Regardless of anything else, the poor guy had clearly had one hell of a bad night. I’ve had my fair share of those, thankfully mostly in the distant past at this point. He really needed to find his way home and sleep it off, safe and surrounded by people who care about him.

He kept thanking me and telling me that I was the only person who would even talk to him. It sounded like he’d been out there, inebriated and looking for help, for a while. I’m really glad that I went to the store when I did, and that I could tell he was harmless.

I think that perhaps one of the Ladies (my shorthand for Brighid, Morrighan and the other female spirits who I consider family) gave me a little shove when I was unsure of what to do for a moment, and I am grateful. I was that drunk kid, self-medicating and accidentally getting too messed up, plenty of times when I was younger. I know that more people probably presumed that I was harmless and talked to me because I was female, but there were plenty of strangers who helped me in some way when I was that messed-up teenager and young adult. I’m glad that I had the chance to pay it forward a tiny bit.

With that said, friends, I wish to issue you a challenge. You never know what someone’s circumstances are when you cross paths with a stranger on the street. I don’t want you to put yourself in harm’s way, but I do want you to not automatically speed up or look the other way the next time someone asks you for help. Take a moment to assess the situation, trust your gut, and see whether you can help if your gut gives you the go-ahead. There are so many people in this world who are hurting, with varying reasons, and sometimes it just takes a bit of time and compassion to make a difference.

Lots of love and many blessings to you!
❤ Bri

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