Thursday, March 31, 2005

Systemic Lupus Nephritis (SLE)

Not many comprehend the illness I live with every day. Understandably, ever since I was diagnosed, others mistakenly compare SLE (Systemic Lupus Nephritis) to other diseases that have absolutely no relation.
Lupus (SLE) can be a fatal disease. In my case it nearly was. It is an autoimmune disorder that attacks cells, blood, and in severe cases like mine, organs (kidneys). Healthy cells in the body start to fight other healthy cells that they mistake for foreign objects. As you can imagine this causes much pain and discomfort. Although there is not a cure for Lupus (SLE) many of the symptoms can be appropriately treated. Any normal sickness like a cold or flu, however, can cause a “flare” or outbreak of other signs and symptoms. Someone with Lupus HAS to know his or her body and take care of it no matter what the cost. That means not going to a party and resting, not having company, or merely not walking around the mall. Plans change so fast for me, as I am constantly recognizing signs that my body needs rest.
A modern “cure” for Lupus is chemotherapy. I have been taking chemo over a year now and will receive it until 2006. Chemotherapy “confuses” cells into not attacking the healthy tissue and organs. My therapy is in accordance to the NIH protocol. A team of 3 doctors are amazed this is working. When I was admitted January 10, 2004, my kidneys were in complete failure. Poison was spreading through my body because there was no way to excrete it. Doctors tried many medicines to help them start working, but after several weeks (of MUCH pain) dialysis and transplant was the final solution. The reason they did not perform dialysis initially was because once one starts this process, it is probable they will never regain kidney function and will have to have a transplant. This is what I came to terms with and I received dialysis once a day for a week, and then once every other day, and then one day my tests came back (they did blood tests on me every day, sometimes twice!) that my kidney’s were working a little. Day after day it improved. The day my permanent dialysis line was to be put in, I was told I did not need dialysis anymore. This was amazing news. It does not usually happen. But, it did.
Dialysis was one of the most painful things I have been through. Most of my trauma revolves around those procedures and I pray everyday I will never have to endure it again. Much pain occurred during those 3 months that no one in his or her lifetime should have to live through.
It is a miracle I am diagnosed, being treated, and have a positive prognoses. Many doctors interpret the symptoms to be other illnesses or diseases. Lupus is an extremely difficult illness to identify and treat. I would say I am blessed, but the struggles and signs I had of SLE previous to being hospitalized, do not implicate anything but sadness and despair. Sorrowfully this is a common aspect for those with Lupus.
Lupus is a serious illness man and women suffer from. It affects not only the body, but like any critical disease, it also influences one’s mind, soul, and spirit. This is where some compassion and respect must occur. Let us remember our own journey and recognize those who need a helping hand along the way. After all, we are all going the same direction.

If you would like to read more information on Lupus please visit:

www.lupus.org

Wednesday, March 30, 2005

Carter


Carter (March 18, 2005)

Copyright © 2005 Olivia M. Hall.
All rights reserved.
No reprints without permission from Olivia M. Hall Inspired by Grace Photography.
Inspired by Grace Photography

Monday, March 28, 2005

Food Groups

It is amazing what singleness has done to me! Some people just want to know everything when things change! I have never been so good at dodging people in the grocery store. I have become an expert! It is kind of like a video game. I have used cereals, pastries, and other fine foods and food groups to literally protect me from conversations I would rather not have. Yes, I have learned how to successfully shop in less than 5 minutes. The key is to prepare my route previous to arriving at the store. Grouping needed items together; I enter with the list in my hand, grab a cart, and start full speed ahead. No time for sale items, I focus intently on the potatoes. Opps, I drop it. No time to stop, leave it behind Olivia, you must keep going! Turning the corner, I snatch some cheese, meat, and soup. I take a second to catch my breath as I round the next corner. For a second I fear my life. Who knows what’s down the cereal lane? Trying to reach the “Clusters” I begin to notice a familiar figure at the end of the aisle. Quickly I grab the first box I see. “Cheerio’s” will have to do. Pretending I care about the breakfast’s nutritional value, I zoom past them. The cart buckles as it doesn’t remember when it had this fast of a ride in a long time. It turned up on two wheels as I signaled with my left hand and gracefully entered the frozen section. I have learned once again how convenient it is to buy frozen dinners. I picked a couple that looked decent enough to eat and threw them in the cart that I have now named “Bucky.” Why not? I looked around and realized a sea of single people surrounded me. Who knew the frozen section could be such a hit! Frustrated with my momentary distraction I took some frozen pizzas on my way to the final but very significant aisle. Now goes in the eggs, bread, and of course cookies! Last stretch and I am home free. Go Bucky Go!!!!! This is the most vital situation: the approaching of the registers. I look at my watch; I have 1 minute and 30 seconds remaining. Time is running out. I push Bucky into the lane. “Paper, Debit, No,” I say knowing the questions they were to ask. I grab the bag, head out the door and fumble around my keys in the purse. Doing gymnastic moves only Gumby could perform, I finally have everything in the car and I’m feeling very relieved. I sing songs all the whole way home never missing a tune, beat, or word. 2 minutes of that and I pull into my driveway start to unload the items as Gracey Chawennie’s and thinks all this food is hers. “I made it,” I say to myself and go to the refrigerator for a drink. That is when I realize I have no milk, and to the grocery store I must now go. This time I think I’ll wear a hat.

"A Kiss from Tony."
Inspired by Grace Photography

Thursday, March 24, 2005

Extreme Living

Nothing seemed dangerous enough to me as I layed in bed this morning pondering another day of insanity. If I could have walked 100 miles, I would have tried. Even if it meant I were to be sick, I would have put on shorts, a T-shirt, grabbed a bottle of water and Gracey, and drove to a random secluded spot in the Texas landscape (which unbelievably is not hard to find) and start to walk secretly hoping I'd fall in a hole and end up in China!
No, that did not satisfy the severity, so I thought more. But nothing came to mind that was remotely risky enough for me. Not bungee jumping with a garden hose off of the Empire State Building, soaking my clothes in meat juices and stepping in a locked cage with tigers, or sticking my finger in a hole just to say "hi"to the killer bee's inside. NOTHING was too daring enough for me to try at the moment. I am not sure what brought on the extreme attitude. I really don't want to die. Even asleep, my dreams transport peculiar scenario's of generaly unwelcome circumstances. Maybe it would not be so bad if I were adopted into the Koluko tribe in Africa that use women simply for procreation and chef's. Then when they reach their ripe age of 30, they are sent into the desert to die. I'd only have 5 years. It is the "circle of life" they say, and it is acceptable. (not real only a dream) Not even this can make me numb with fear.
When things feared most become reality not much seems bold. When every dreams gone and memories begin to play their "game," despair decides to visit. Written in "Left Behind" (February16, 2005 Blog), "Sleep is not available to those who mourn. It is a luxury for people who deserve it." This quote came from a fictional story, but it symbolizes something real in me. I am only 24. I have already had my mid-life crisis, 7 year itch, and nervous breakdown. I invite challenge knowing if I try to get away from it, I will not succeed. I embrace hardship because I know what is waiting for me in heaven. The pain I feel in my heart match the absurd situations I say could not quench my desire. If I can't at least do these things, my heart MUST illustrate the passion inside. And, maybe one day I'll be able to at least swim with dolphins.

Wednesday, March 23, 2005

"Be Small Enough to Hear Me Now"

If I could write, sing, or pray, it would be this song written by Nicole Nordman. Nothing more, nothing less.
___________________________________________________________
Oh, GREAT GOD, BE SMALL ENOUGH TO HEAR ME NOW
THERE WERE TIMES WHEN I WAS CRYING
FROM THE DARK OF DANIEL'S DEN
AND I HAVE ASKED YOU ONCE OR TWICE
IF YOU WOULD PART THE SEA AGAIN
BUT TONIGHT I DO NOT NEED A FIERY PILLAR IN THE SKY

JUST WANNA KNOW YOU'RE GONNA HOLD ME IF I START TO CRY
OH, GREAT GOD, BE SMALL ENOUGH TO HEAR ME NOW
OH, GREAT GOD, BE CLOSE ENOUGH TO FEEL YOU NOW
THERE HAVE BEEN MOMENTS WHEN I COULD NOT
FACE GOLIATH ON MY OWN
AND HOW COULD I FORGET WE'VE MARCHED AROUND
OUR SHARE OF JERICHOS
BUT I WILL NOT BE SETTING OUT A FLEECE FOR YOU TONIGHT
JUST WANNA KNOW THAT EVERYTHING WILL BE ALRIGHT
OH GREAT GOD, BE CLOSE ENOUGH TO FEEL YOU NOW
ALL PRAISE AND ALL HONOR BE
TO THE GOD OF ANCIENT MYSTERIES
WHOSE EVERY SIGN AND WONDER TURN THE PAGES OF OUR HISTORY
BUT TONIGHT MY HEART IS HEAVY
AND I CANNOT KEEP FROM WHISPERING THIS PRAYER
"ARE YOU THERE?"

AND I KNOW YOU COULD LEAVE WRITING ON THE WALL
THATS JUST FOR ME
OR SEND WISDOM WHILE I'M SLEEPING,
LIKE IN SOLOMAN'S SWEET DREAMS
BUT I DON'T NEED THE STRENGTH OF SAMSON
OR A CHARIOT IN THE END
JUST WANT TO KNOW THAT YOU STILL KNOW HOW MANY HAIRS
ARE ON MY HEAD
OH GREAT GOD, BE SMALL ENOUGH TO HEAR ME NOW
-Nicole Nordman-

Tuesday, March 22, 2005


Blues N Rock March 18, 2005
Inspired by Grace Photography

Monday, March 21, 2005

Blues N Rock Publication (March 18, 2005)

My blog page address was published in the Blues N Rock Gazette along with an article about Inspired by Grace. (Inspired by Grace may also be in another paper soon.) I did not know this blog would be recognized and I am honored. I guess anyone could stumble upon this site and either think I was one of two things: crazy or brave. If this is your first time, I encourage you to read not only recent thoughts, but my journey throughout these 6 months. Like I said in "My Story" in the paper, everyone has one to tell, a struggle, a miracle. I simply chose to express it through art, photography, and writing. I am a real person doing the same things you are, living. As you read, you'll notice my recent trial is extremely difficult and life-changing. But my business will only grow stronger as I continue to commit to my purpose. I strive to use the ability to capture a moment through photographs, inspirational art, and media production to remind us of our own journey. So we can see the path we have traveled and how our growth has made us into the people we are today.

Thursday, March 10, 2005

If I Were A Butterfly

If I were a butterfly I would be pink.
I would never disregard where came from and the changes I went through
I would embrace life and show others that I made it, even when no one believed I would
If I were a butterfly I would fly over to your house and land on the tree in your backyard
I would see you there outside thinking to yourself
Pondering day to day about the big questions of life
And I would cause you to think about beauty instead of pain

If I were a butterfly I’d look for you in a crowd
I would see you there amongst the people and soar towards you
I would fly to your hand and my touch would change your life forever
All the wounds in your heart would be lifted from your soul
I would take them and place them far away from you, burying them deep beneath
And hope and peace would cascade over your face

My beauty would remind you always of an eternal home for you in heaven
With freedom and splendor covering every place so no shadow would create darkness
My fluttering wings would spread as you gaze in awe at a creature created just for you
For that moment, and only as to obey my Creator
If I were a butterfly your dreams would come to reality
And sorrow would vanish

If I were a butterfly you would see me for who I was
Being once so different and unknown
I would embrace and yield to the changes I could not control
And end up living with purpose and elegance
Visiting those whose need a miracle
And that is just what I’d be,
An angel in disguise

Tuesday, March 08, 2005

Expecting


"Expecting" (Fletcher).
Copyright © 2005 Olivia M. Hall.
All rights reserved.
No reprints without permission from Olivia M. Hall Inspired by Grace Photography.