Tuesday, November 17, 2015

The Setting, the Shutter, and the Power of Resolution

I know, I know, it’s not even Christmas yet. But this is a story about my New Year’s resolutions from THIS year, January 2015. Since I live with chronic pain, I know the importance of taking an inventory on what I want to do and what I can do. This resolution was certainly both, even though the later has been questionable. You see, the very first time I saw the world through the lens of my 35mm film camera; I fell in love with photography. But film photography has become a dinosaur, so I set about figuring out how to fulfill my desire to capture and manipulate photos using new technology, leading me to my 2015 resolution.

I will learn to use my new Canon Rebel T5 SLR camera!

There is an underlying story here about keeping up with the times, embracing change, and all that good stuff, to be revealed.

Resolution vs. Resolution

I struggled to translate what I know about film photography to digital photography. I even bought the book for Dummies specifically for my camera. My New Year resolution, I would learn, was harder to achieve than setting the resolution of digital photographs.

Having short-term memory loss, I couldn’t remember from one page to the next; white balance, color space, or focal plane, my head was spinning. I am embarrassed to say, I couldn’t even remember how to turn the darn thing on. But if I am anything, I am tenacious.

So, I ditched looking at the book from an academic standpoint, deciding it was more valuable as a resource. After all, we don’t read an encyclopedia cover-to-cover—right? (I have since found my difficulty with this book is not shared with my otherwise mentally sharp friends, I wouldn’t want you to think this is a bad book review.)

Intimacy with the Inanimate

Six months in to the New Year, I set my sights on accomplishing at least one goal.

Trash the anxiety and pick up the camera.

I would soon learn one of the most valuable tools on a digital camera is the DELETE BUTTON!

My Chronic Pain Friend and the Shutter Sisters

Probably the best advice I received regarding digital photography came from one of my chronic pain sisters. You see, she also loves to do what I do. She knew I was struggling, she understood why I was struggling. In one exchange of emails, she asked me a question that would change my world.

Have you heard of the Shutter Sisters?

I had not, but I have now. I immediately went to their website. I bought their book, and I quickly became intimate with my camera. I forced myself to only use the manual settings, and I did what I did not think was possible, I fell in love with digital photography.

The Cradle of Perfect Imperfection
Here’s How it Happened

I found the LIGHT METER! Oh, what a glorious day that was. It was my “ah ha” moment, MY “light switch” was on. Terms I thought were lost to new technology like aperture, depth of field, F-stop, lighting, filters, subject, ISO were all there. It is so much more than becoming intimate with the inanimate, it was like that first time I zoomed my lens in on the stamen of a flower, I was detailing my feelings, setting a historical moment in time, and I was going to be able to capture it the way I wanted. More than that, I found I have Shutter Sisters that can see what I see the instant before I release that shutter. They get why I do what I do as a writer of self-help books too. 

These people, my fellow passion driven brothers and sisters, understand that automatic doesn’t always emote what I am trying to capture. To me, imperfection often brings clarity, character, and a feeling of that moment that will forever be etched in my mind, in my heart, and in my soul.

Miles to Go before I Sleep

Those words, “miles to go before I sleep” (thank you Robert Frost) can mean many things to those of us who live with daily pain, but in the context of this blog, it simply means that for all I have learned, for all I have regained, I have so much more to accomplish. That’s the beauty of it. I am a work in progress and so is my photography.

So, before you give up my friend, know that your “ah ha” moment is coming, but you can’t have it if you give aren't determined.

“Many of life's failures are people who did not realize
how close they were to success when they gave up.”

~Thomas A. Edison

Thank you Thomas Edison, the brilliance of your wisdom continues to light the world and guide me as I embrace the power of perseverance.

~ • ~ • ~ • ~ • ~ • ~

"Adversity is only an obstacle if we fail to see opportunity."  
Celeste Cooper, RN
Author—Patient—Health Central Chronic Pain ProAdvocate

Celeste’s Website: http://CelesteCooper.com

Friday, November 6, 2015

Stop Discrimination against My Sisters in Pain, Sign the Petition

Are you a woman in pain? I am. My sisters, we have been identified in the Institute of Medicine Report, “Relieving Pain in America…” as an under-served community that is discriminated against when it comes to treating our chronic pain. It’s time for that to stop!

I have experienced pain most of my life. I had my first cystoscopy at age five. At puberty, I developed migraine headaches and irritable bowel syndrome. I have lived with premature degenerative disc and spinal disease for 30+ years, and have come to know other chronic pain and health issues intimately, fibromyalgia, myofascial pain syndrome, Hashimoto’s, ME/CFS, post herpatic neuralgia, and interstitial cystitis.  After having extensive shoulder surgeries, I returned to work as a nurse (considered to be as physically demanding as that of a construction worker). I paid my own way as a single mom with two small children. I was board certified in emergency nursing and I was an expert witness as a legal nurse consultant. I was a typical type A. But eventually, my ability to keep up - caught up with me.

I will never forget the words on my neurocognitive exam report, which concluded I have significant short-term memory loss compared to others my age and education. I didn't need a report to tell me that. I knew I was slipping. But the hardest thing to bear were the words that said I would be a danger to patients. You see, I was expecting my symptoms would lead to a treatable diagnosis. I would get fixed, and I would get back to a job I loved dearly. After all, I pushed through any obstacle in life. But, it was not to be. All I could do now was put my head in my hands and weep.

“Out of suffering have emerged the strongest souls; 
the most massive characters are seared with scars.”
~Kahlil Gibran

Soon after, I found it was easier to let people think what they must rather than defend something I was struggling to accept myself. I learned the worst, and the most damaging, was not the pain, but the change in the way I was perceived by others. At the most vulnerable time in my life, I had to accept that my family, friends, colleagues, and physicians had forgotten about the person I once was. Through therapy, I learned the very same people that criticized me for seeking pain care, would indeed do the same in my position. I learned that chronic pain could only be appreciated if you experience it. I learned that I needed to be compassionate with my otherwise healthy friends and family, because they have no control over their perceptions anymore than I have control over my pain. But I also learned there is no free ticket to being a bully, which resulted in learning the importance of choosing my friends wisely. 

Women are caretakers, not the other way around. Maybe when we step outside that role, bias emerges. But, as human beings, we all deserve to be treated with the same respect and to have access to the same pain care. I could tell horror stories about the abusive comments and treatment I have suffered at the hands of those who took an oath to do no harm. But from adversity comes opportunity. I took control, and over a decade later, I now have a great team of healthcare providers. But, because of the amount of time it took to find providers with whom I could build mutual trust, I fear what will happen when my husband and I relocate. At my age, I will be dead if it takes that long again. This should not be the case. Regardless of our socioeconomic status, race, gender or where we live in this country, we should all have access to the same pain care and be treated with the dignity and respect we deserve. 

If you are a person living with pain or a caretaker, male or female, stand with your sisters in pain become the catalyst for making a difference. Stand with us as an advocate for changing pain care for women. We are in this fight together and we must serve our compassion by being supportive to one another. 

Cynthia Toussaint has made it easy for us to speak up. Please take a minute, that’s all it takes, and sign this most important petition.

End Pain Care Bias Toward Women 

In Chronic Pain

(click on the title)

Don’t stop here. Share often and cast your net beyond the horizon.

In healing and hope, Celeste

~ • ~ • ~ • ~ • ~ • ~

"Adversity is only an obstacle if we fail to see opportunity."  
Celeste Cooper, RN
Author—Patient—Health Central Chronic Pain ProAdvocate

Learn more about what you can do to help your body function to its potential in the books you can find here on Celeste's  blog

Celeste's Website

Celeste's Website
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