Hello world, 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 30 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 the 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 care insurance.
Here I was being a good wife raising my children, doing a noble job I thought. I loved most days and was 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 whom I had taken care of as one of 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 dealing with severe pain, black and blue eyes and bruises over my entire body 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,dress you and 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 and shoulder, a cracked vertebra in my neck, the onset of migraines and radiating pain down my right arm. 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 with two broken arms. On top of all that I now had to deal with the onset of PTSD, and the diagnosis of sever Crohn’s Disease and fibromyalgia 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, sexual promiscuity and food addiction in my late teen’s early adult hood… I even overcame the affair my husband had with my best friend on my 27th birthday…My entire life, sexuality, and reason to live came into question, but I prevailed…I survived. Everything I have experienced I’d like to believe made me stronger, made me who I am today… made me learn to love life and not take everything for granted.
I never knew that by engaging myself in extreme exercising regimes and sexual promiscuity, in reality I was trying to fulfill the empty void that lingered deep within my body, mind and soul from my life experiences. I’ve always managed to come out OK, seemingly unscarred no matter how bad things got. My husband and I always managed to stick together, no matter what was thrown our way or how bad things got, we’ve always been able to work through everything. Not an easy feat in today’s world.
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 write 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, guilt 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, 18 blood transfusions, several hospitalizations, and constantly being sick.
It’s been ten years since I got beat up that cold September day…ten years since I started to get sick… As my anniversary date quickly approached this year…I found 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 debilitating migraines, fibromyalgia, constant pain, and other side effects. The only thing that does seem to help is my writing and getting lost in the words along with helping others find their passion by teaching the Artist’s Way… it has helped me keep my mind in a positive light, to see what I have instead of what I don’t. It helps me look forward to a future filled with love and passion instead of pain and misery.
I refuse to define myself as a victim of life or circumstances, or by 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 myself. Call it pride or dignity… I try to live each day as it comes, fill my life 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….to see the positives, to cherish the gifts brought to me each and every day by the universe.
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, fear of being alone, fear of not feeling good, fear of not getting to a toilet, fear of not having medical insurance, a home to live in, or living a life filled with poverty … 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, today I vow to live my life instead of sucmming to it, knowing I have a choice, will and desire to succeed at healing and at living.
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…Maybe I’ll tell you about my move from Alaska to Hawaii to Washington… or maybe my views on our health care system or lack there of, or the insurance industry and how their only concern is their bottom line… not you or your issues. Or how Social Security denies 93% of all legitimate medical claims, or how about living with Crohn’s and how one of my medications cost’s over $30,000.00 for each treatment every six to eight weeks…My life is a constant battle between fighting with insurance companies, Social Security, dealing with attorneys, doctors, case managers, social-workers and counselors all in the name of trying to heal my broken body while fighting for my rights and preserving my dignity.
I would love to hear from you, please if you have any stories, insights, or helpful tips, medications successes or failures, or information about Crohn’s, migraines, or fibromyalgia to share… please do so… Your thoughts, ideas and comments are welcome! I hope that this can be a support system for you, a place where you can feel safe and heard. A place where we can learn from each other, sharing resources and helping others understand the trials and tribulations of living a life with a chronic disease.
May each day be filled with Peace, Love and Light!