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I'm back!

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Brenda
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VickiG
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Post  VickiG Sun Jun 06, 2010 3:32 am

Hi Friends!

I am back after a long absence! I've seen some of you occasionally on Facebook, as I've slowly tried to get more connected to friends online. I started with FB because a lot of the international students I minister to through my church are FB friends, and I wanted to get more connected with their lives, but I'm back at Ronda's tonight. I won't take the time to read through your postings tonight, as I should be in bed. Actually, I was in bed, but I woke up wide awake, so I thought of something I wanted to do online, and now I'm here!

To summarize the last couple months since I posted after you so kindly called me to make sure I was o.k., I'm still having a rough time. I've been averaging about one trip a week to the ER because I can hardly go a day without my percocet, but the doctor doesn't give me enough percocet for each day. I know that there is worry about rebound, but at this point, I'm not worrying about it. My therapist agrees with me that I'm not rebounding because when I started to see him, I was really bad, but then I got better last summer and fall. However, it was my trip to see my brother and sister-in-law in Brazil over Christmas that made me crash, and I've been horrible ever since. Alan says that since I did get better before, it doesn't make sense that I'd be rebounding. He went into further details to explain it all, but I don't feel up to trying to recall everything.

I am still on methadone, but we are trying to gradually decrease it to get me off it. I'm skeptical of the reasons, but my headache doctor is adamant that it's necessary. She said that studies show that sometimes long-acting opiates can actually make you more sensitive to pain, and since the methadone isn't making me well enough to work, it's not working. It seems to me that even if it is giving me a little better quality of life than I would have had without it, it should be worth it, but the doctors are so focused on much higher measures of success. I realize that she is under pressure from people above her, so I can't blame her entirely, but I do sort of resent this pressure to get off my medicine.

We're just tapering it down a tiny bit every few weeks. She also talked with me about going into the hospital, and I was open to that, thinking that perhaps this time, if I am still continuing with the methadone taper, the neurological drugs could stand a chance of helping me, since before I did them only when going off the methadone cold-turkey. But I learned a couple weeks ago, that she is standing fast on the rule that if I do go into the hospital, that is the end of methadone. I don't like that because I've tried that three times before, and only once did it work. The other two times, I was hurting so much by the end of my stay that they had to put me back on the methadone because there was nothing to keep my pain in bearable check. So I am afraid that I'm just going to suffer this time like I did those times.

In other news, I have successfully kept going a ministry with my church for international students. Twice a month, we have students from all over the world, but mostly Asia (and more specifically China), come over to my parents' house (where I am living -- I chose not to move into the new condo because I was afraid I wouldn't take care of myself properly on my own) for dinner. People from my church provide the dinner for the students. We fix primarily Asian food, since it makes them feel back at home. Almost all the students live in the dorms and don't get Asian food in the cafeteria, so our cooking helps them feel at home. I've become pretty adept at making fried rice this year! It's a lot easier than I had imagined!

After dinner, we break into small groups for discussion in English. We cover lots of different topics, whatever interests the students, as well as offering a choice of doing a simple Bible study, which I lead. For that, we got New Living Translation Bibles, the simplest English version, and the students go around the table reading verse by verse, and we discuss what it means. They are not obligated by any means to join the Bible study. We don't do active proscelatizing. We just tell them that we do this for them because Jesus loved us first, and we want to share that love with them. If they want to learn more, we are happy to share with them, but we don't want to force anything on them.

After the discussion groups is dessert, and then they hang around until we kick them out. And we do have to kick them out because they don't go willingly. They have such a great time that they don't want to leave! Our church team is very multi-generational too, so they have several mother or father figures, as well as peers, and I'm like a big sister to them all. Throughout the school year, we had about 65 international students pass through our house! Since 75% of all international students in the U.S. never enter an American home, we are providing a great service to them.

Also, we are trying to do something to help the future. Currently, 260 of the governmental leaders throughout the world studied once in the U.S. Imagine how things would be different if they had been able to develop good relationships with Americans and Christians. I think particularly of China, since almost all our students are from China. If those leaders in China had made good friends with American Christians, then maybe there wouldn't be the persecution of Christians that you hear about in China today. So we are making an influence for the future as well!

This ministry has also given me something to feel like I'm doing for someone else. For a long time I felt like i wasn't worth much because I wasn't doing much good for anyone. But I see how much these students just love coming over to my house and socializing with me, and it makes me realize that even though I am in bed more days than not, I still am able to make a difference to someone. It's become a family affair, as my parents do a lot to help out too. My mom often makes the dessert (we have to be careful what we choose because Asians don't generally like sweet things) and helps set things up. My dad does a lot of setting up and drives the students from campus to our house. And we even got his sister, who goes to a different church, involved, and she drives and helps with the students. And then she got her roommate involved, and her roommate can't stop talking about how much she loves our group!

Well, this has been a long enough post. I'll try to keep coming back more frequently. Just know that I still have a very hard time spending very long on the computer. And I may be spending more time on it soon, as I have an appointment on Monday to meet with a professor to see about getting permission to adapt a book about culture that he wrote for missionaries into a book about culture for international students. I'll tell you more about that later. My aunt knows the author and his book, so she wrote a recommendation email in advance, and he seemed very open to hearing my proposal. If I feel well enough tomorrow, I'll write about it to get a better sense of what I want to say to him.

It's been good coming back to Ronda's! I've missed you all a lot!

Vicki

(P.S. My dad has even been encouraging me to get back here, as he says that he can see a difference in me when I have been participating here and when I haven't!)
VickiG
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Post  pen Sun Jun 06, 2010 5:07 am

Good to see you back Vicki.
Sorry to be brief...

P

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Post  Paradox Sun Jun 06, 2010 10:24 am

Vicki,

you have accomplished so much with your ministry. I'm proud of you girl! You must get such satisfaction from in and what a great way to meet new interesting people.

I'm sorry you can't get you pain under control. Right now I'm doing primarily pain management since I have such reactions to preventatives. I found a neurologist
Who realizes that in my case it is not rebound (I went on a drug holiday) and gives me adequate amounts of opoids. He is not a fan of methadone though. I've heard he insiders it a "dirty"drug, though I've not discussed it with him to know why. Do you know why it's considered that?

My feeling is if thatnis what works for you you should be able to stay on it. You've been fighting this for so long! We all react so differently, I don't get much relief from oxy or dilaudid yet I do from hydrocodone, which is the weakest of the three. Go figure

Good to have you back!
R


Last edited by paradox on Sun Jun 06, 2010 2:01 pm; edited 1 time in total
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Post  Brenda Sun Jun 06, 2010 12:04 pm

Having a very rough head day, so this will be short. Wanted you to know that I'm glad to see you back, Vicki. I hope you get some pain relief soon.
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Post  tecky Sun Jun 06, 2010 5:20 pm

Glad to see you back, Vicki!!

Congratulations on the success of your ministry--what a good thing you're doing and making an important and lasting impression on their lives. flower
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Post  Anna's Mom Sun Jun 06, 2010 6:11 pm

So nice to hear from you! I'm glad you are enjoying your ministry! You are doing wonderful work! Blessings!

Cheryl
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Post  Ivy Mon Jun 07, 2010 12:21 am

Hi Viki,
I'm glad that you're back!
It seems that you're having a nice time with new friends and new goals.
Enjoy it!
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Post  VickiG Mon Jun 07, 2010 5:04 am

I wrote a nice, comfy post, and somehow accidentally pushed something that deleted the whole thing. GRRR!!! So let me just say that I welcome the homecoming I've received upon coming back. It really is a coming home, as Ronda's has been my second home for 10 years now (I started in 2000)! I really appreciate all the support you all give. I'll do my best to get more involved again.

What I'm thinking about now is that later this morning at 11:00, I have an appointment with the author of the book I'm hoping to adapt. He wrote it for missionaries to be able to understand the cultures they are working in, with the premise that to understand another culture, you must first understand your own. I want to turn that around for international students to help them understand what is expected of them in the U.S. Writing this book would give me something to do with myself and help me feel more worthwhile. But I do have to say that I don't quite agree with something my doctor said. She says that she has a patient who has worked with a pain therapist and went from being totally disabled to working full-time. But she still thinks she is in the same degree of pain as when she was unable to work. My doctor's position is that she must be feeling better and just not realize it. Somehow, that doesn't seem like a very appealing situation to me. What good does it do to feel better if you don't know that you are? I'd welcome other people's thoughts on the question.

I'll let you all know how my meeting goes. I'm rather nervous, especially since all his books are overtly Christian books, but this one wouldn't be.

Well, I should go back to bed. I slept all day today, which is why I'm up, but I should get some more sleep before going in for the meeting.
VickiG
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Post  VickiG Mon Jun 07, 2010 5:58 pm

I just wrote about my appointment with the author of the book I hope to adapt. I had my meeting today, and it went well. Besides learning that I've been illegally copying the questionnaire in the book when I taught the lesson to the international students (normally, you can copy up to 10% of a book and give it to students, but apparently the publisher created a special copyright just for this questionnaire, which I didn't know about), I did o.k. He was interested in my perspective and said he'd be happy to let me work on this. I'm going to write a draft of two chapters to see what he thinks and get his feedback. Initially he had suggested the whole book, but I figured that if he has changes to how I'm writing, it would be better to learn them earlier than later. We will then talk to the publisher to get permission to use the questionnaire (it's about 50 cents each) for various college students.

I liked the way he described his approach to the book. It was showing his journey discovering himself and his own cultural identity. So that would be the goal for this book too. I would want to show the process by which I discovered my own cultural tendencies, which will help the students understand how Americans tend to think. I want to emphasize that I'm not trying to make them become Americans; rather, I'm trying to help them understand the perspectives of their professors and peers, so they can compete with them in the American classroom. Compete isn't exactly the right word, but you get the meaning.

So soon I'll have to get to work organizing and writing a couple of chapters. The chapter on time will be simple, since that is most striking. Americans are much more time oriented than just about any other culture is, and I have plenty of examples to illustrate that, such as when we missed our plane in Taiwan. Another example is how in Kenya, "I'll do that tomorrow" may mean sometime next week, but maybe not.

So I thought I'd share my good news with you. Now it's time for my nap!
VickiG
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Post  CluelessKitty Mon Jun 07, 2010 6:03 pm

Welcome back Vicky!
It's always a pleasure to have you with us here!

I am blown away how you still are being under treated for your pain.
To me, you are such a clear cut case of chronic pain, that I am astounded nobody see the forest for the trees.
But well, what can I do. I hope sometime someday someone will finally wake up and smell the rose that is you, and give you an adequate pain relief.

Hugs, my dear.
Happy to see you Smile

Risa
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Post  VickiG Tue Jun 08, 2010 12:15 pm

It seems, Risa, that the latest trend is to worry that long-acting opiates can make you more sensitive to pain. I've researched the topic and learned that they actually discovered this several years ago, but recently, they have done more studies that give more weight to the theory, so just as doctors were quick to jump on the rebound bandwagon, now they're being quick to jump on this one.
VickiG
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