I’d like to introduce myself, my name is Michele otherwise known as Katasee in the electronic world. I’m a 47 year old woman who took care of everyone else but herself for the majority of her life. I’m a mother of seven, well not technically, but I did raise seven boys, three of my own and four foster sons for the past 28 years. I’m what most of you would call a caregiver… either that or really stupid.
Over the years I’ve worked as a candy striper, cashier, a volunteer, a liquor store manager, full charge bookkeeper at a cemetery of all places, as an accountant and comptroller for a large manufacturing company and then leaving it all behind in the name of saving my marriage to become a houseparent in a group home in Anchorage Alaska where I worked with my husband every day for the past 25 years.
Most recently my job title changed to a Home Alliance Coordinator (foster mom with a fancy name) taking care of developmentally disabled young adults in my home since they were children for the past 25 years. During that time we cared for over twenty two different individuals that lived in our home 24/7, 365 days a year. I can’t even tell you how many times I’ve been called an angel sent from heavens above to do a job no one wanted or could do their self. I’ve also been told how stupid I was for this chosen line of work. It is definitely not for the faint at heart that’s for sure. However it has been very rewarding for the most part, but like everyone else, there were times when even I questioned my own sanity.
Ten years ago was one of those times… even though I thought I had it all, feeling on top of my world, doing what I wanted, playing tennis every day, being a stay at home mom and wife and overcoming challenge after challenge, overcoming the unexpected. I had risen again from a fate that was placed upon me, beating the odds … the problem is I took everything for granted, including my health, my freedom, my physical appearance, my children, my family, my home, my job and my health insurance.
Here I was being a good wife raising my children, doing a noble job I thought I loved most days and having the time of my life… then one cold September morning while doing my daily routine… everything changed. It was as though spirit was saying… no this is not the life you were supposed to live, you still have many lessons to learn… I was faced with a new set of circumstances I wouldn’t bestow on anyone. I was severally beaten up one morning and held hostage for over an hour by one of my foster sons, one who I had taken care of as my own for the past 15 years, right there in our home after my husband had left to take our children to school. After enduring a two hour torturous event… my life would change forever.
After months of severe pain and having people look at my husband as though he was some kind of monster, like he was a wife beater or something… which couldn’t be further from the truth. I also had to deal with having a cast on both my arms, something I don’t wish on any woman… try having your period and needing your husband to change your feminine napkins or tampons, or bath you, put on your bra…etc…Talk about embarrassing.
I endured months of painful physical therapy from the soft tissue damage done to my head and neck. If that weren’t enough, I also had to deal with the pain of my eight fingernails growing back after they were ripped off one by one while being held down. On top of all that I now had to deal with the onset of migraines, PTSD, and the diagnosis of sever Crohn’s Disease brought on by the tremendous amount of stress my body had endured…. I spiraled into a world of depression, self doubt, and fear. .. I did not wish my life on anyone, nor did I want anyone to deal with my pain. So I retreated further into my own black hole at one point telling my doctor I could no longer be held responsible for my own actions… Evidently not all medications are meant to make you better, some have such drastic and severe side effects that it’s worse than the disease or ailment that it is treating…. Prednisone is now a dirty word in my home.
I have always been able to deal with all my life issues… everything that God threw at me… even when it was so bad no one would ever expect anything good to come of it… I’ve overcome sexual abuse as a young child, being raped repeatedly by my grandfather and the boys I grew up with, sexual and food addictions in my late teen’s early adult hood… I even overcame the affair my husband had with my best friend on my 27th birthday…
I never knew that what I was doing by engaging myself in extreme exercising and sexual promiscuity, that I was trying to fulfill the empty void that lingered deep within my body, mind and soul. I’ve always managed to come out OK no matter how bad things got. My husband and I always managed to stick together, no matter what was thrown our way. We’ve always been able to work through everything.
But this time it was different. I couldn’t pull myself out of the darkness. I finally sought counseling after living a year in my own hell. I learned a lot about myself while in counseling. I learned that I’m a woman who never knew what my passion was until someone asked me to share my story. A story so profoundly emotional, riveting and unbelievable… that even I had a hard time believing that it was my life we were talking about or I was writing about.
Filled with perseverance and the will to never give up… I found that writing helped to quiet my mind, release the built up energy, and free my soul from anger and the compulsive actions I once took in order to numb my mind and body. Finding a new love I emerged myself into the writing world… learning everything I could, going to conferences, seminars and taking classes in between bouts of being on medication trials, hospitalizations, and constantly being sick.
It’s been nine years since I got beat up that cold September day…nine years since I started to get sick… As my anniversary date quickly approaches…I find myself still trying to figure out who I am… still trying to not define myself by the things that have happened to me during the past 47 years of my life or by my newly named disease. No matter what I do, I don’t seem to get better only worse with the onset of migraines, fibromyalgia and other side effects. The only thing that does seem to help these days is my writing and getting lost in the words along with helping others through the practice of The Artist’s Way.
I refuse to define myself as a victim of life and circumstances, or of a disease called Crohn’s, even though it consumes most of my life and affects every aspect of it…I will not let it or its side effects define me. Looking at me you normally can’t tell I’m sick. I do whatever I can to hide it by isolating. Call it pride or dignity… I try to live each day as it comes, filling my space with positive people, positive books, and positive thoughts… even when that is sometimes hard to do. I depend on the laws of attraction to bring good into my life….Looking for life’s positive moments, filling my days with art.
My whole life has revolved around the wants, desires, and expectations of others… I have based my whole life on fear… Fear of being judged, fear of failing, fear of being overweight, and fear of being alone, fear of never feeling good again, fear that my life will never be as it was or that living a life of poverty is my destination… Well, not any more… today I take a stance, today I do what I want, what feels good to me, what’s good for me… Today I find my own voice…make my own peace and happiness. Today I live with the knowing that it “will” get better, that I have choices, that I can choose to live life instead of just scumming to it.
So there you have it, me in a nutshell. Love me, hate me, but never leave me… you never know what I’ll say or do next… Next time I’ll tell you about my move from Alaska to Hawaii to Washington… or maybe my views on our health care system or lack of, or about living with Crohn’s and how my one medication cost’s over $30,000.00 for each treatment every six to eight weeks…
Please if you have any stories, insights, or helpful tips, medications successes or failures, or information about Crohn’s to share… please do so… Your thoughts, ideas and comments are welcome!