Wednesday, June 4, 2014

Spreading Awareness- "Priceless"

Welcome back! Clearly I haven't offended you enough yet as you have come back for more meme/pics/comics. I hope I do not disappoint. 

Today's images, similar to my body, somehow managed to take on a life and a story of their own. I tried to shape it and control it to do one thing, but in the end the pictures wanted to do something else. And like the true artist that I am, I relinquished control and the result (I think) is even better.

It started very simply. Take the standard "holding a hand written sign with some amazing fact/anecdote" while "looking" the part of what it says on the sign. (There is surely a name or definition or research study for these viral images by now- remind me to look this up) So, as per my usual routine, I took several pictures with different "looks" in an attempt to capture what the sign read. 

My next goal was to post here to my blog and have you all vote on your favorite. Here are the results: 

I wanted to have a little fun with it so I made some interesting faces. (I was an actress in my previous life, you can't blame me)

BUT, as I stared and stared at the different pictures and read and re-read the sign, I realized that if I just rearranged the pictures and split up the sentences...I told a great story. I had somehow (unintentionally) created a comic strip!

So, I got to work, using my limited photo editing skills, and this is what resulted: (Made me laugh)

What do you think? I find it to be hi-la-ri-ous! 

All of the facts on the signs are true. (Slightly inspired by the Mastercard commercials) Scleroderma affects mostly women (4 to 1) between the ages of 25-55. I was a few years "young" to get the diagnoses, but the truth is age is NOT a real factor or deterrent for this illness. Which is precisely why I cringe when doctors or nurses tell me I'm too young to be this sick. (I cut normal people some slack cause they shouldn't know better) But doctors went to school, most auto-immune diseases attack YOUNG MINORITY WOMEN in their child bearing years. I mean I found that info online! They didn't read it somewhere while getting their fancy degree from their fancy school? (just saying) I'm not too young, I'm just the right age.(Unfortunately)

Young people are supposed to epitomize ideal health. If you are in your 20's you are in your "prime." Running marathons, biking across the city, hiking trails followed by drunken nights and Sunday morning hangovers are supposed to be your hobbies. And for about 5 minutes (19-21), I had that. And then, it all just faded away. I spent more time in bed than at the gym. Taking a shower felt like a workout and climbing one flight of stairs was the only "hiking" I could do for about 2 years. I don't drink because the acid reflux from one drink that burns my trachea for 12 hrs after isn't worth 5 minutes of drunken bar debauchery. I've sacrificed a lot just to feel "normal"and given up who I was and wanted to be for someone that I rarely recognize but am I learning to love again.

Since diagnoses, I have been in and out of numerous emergency rooms, hospital beds, doctor's offices and cancer causing x-ray machines. I've seen the inside of my brain, lungs, heart, uterus, stomach, esophagus, and hands. I've given enough blood to save at least 5 lives and peed in more cups than a meth head on parole.

I will be honest, I have hated most of my 20s. I'm ready for 30- hoping a new decade will bring more joy and less pain. More acceptance and less fear and anger. But I know that age really is JUST a number. It won't change my fate or erase my past. But the last 7 years have brought me a great deal of wisdom- perhaps more than most people my age have- and for that I am thankful.

In the end, all of those numbers and all of those facts aren't the numbers that make me who I am. The numbers that matter to me are that I have 1 mom and 1 dad that love me very much. I have 1 husband that cares for, respects and worships me. I have 1 sister that loves me in her own quiet way and showers me with great gifts. I have 1 brother that I know will be there when I need him and I have a great handful of friends that I can count on when I just need some damn froyo and a cupcake to make it all go away.

I also have just 1 body to carry my 1 soul, and just 1 lifetime to make it all matter. I had 22 great illness free years that I took for granted and will always remember (with joy and not with regret). And by the time I'm 43 I will have spent more time being sick than being healthy and yet I don't think I would change any of it. (Besides, I wouldn't have all this time to write if I wasn't this sick) But, I also know that I have "X" amount of years left to keep living, telling my story, and spreading awareness, and the fact that God gives me that gift each and every day I wake up that is what counts and that is priceless.

Want to see the pic I shared?

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Twitter: @jasminnemendez

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