The Lone Thistle Soldier

I drove into the parking lot and steered right into a spot facing the highway. I say for a minute touching up my make up. Okay I’m kinda, at heart, a girly girl ok? But as I was getting out I saw a lone purple thistle and said out loud “when I get back I’m going to take some photos of this. It’s perfect and sunny”

After I’d acquired my items and paid I came back to the car, put them in and strode over to the thistle. It was gorgeous and had all three stages before it’s seeds fly away free in the wind. The beautiful purple top on one stem. On another there was a vibrant fuscha, purple flower looking moment post fertilization with a hidden middle of seeds beginning to come forth. Then the last bit was a puff of tightly budded seeds with had some dried and others still white. The stem itself was all thorny and green.

Lovely. It was singularly lovely and the lone thistle in a sea of other herbs and so called weeds. Known as a ‘Blessed Thistle’ or Milk Thistle all parts are edible according to the Smithsonian Handbook on Herbs with color photos. The purple flower has a mild scent which is unique.

Always when I see these I’m brought back to the time of reading to my children. Our very small town library had a large children’s section and the favorite book had “Thistle Soldiers” as a set of characters in the wild. I always think about this when I see a group of them. Somehow my children don’t seem to remember this book in spite of it being checked out over and over because it was so beloved for Momma to read a loud at night or story time reading.

Thistle soldiers.

This makes sense as the extract from this herb can be used to counteract death’s head mushrooms and can be used to reverse all kinds of other damage to the liver from various things. It is a soldier who fights against the enemy of damaged cells in the body.

I took some photos and at home zoomed in to see so much more on each photo I’d taken. The thorny spines on the leaves and stems will get you for sure. Yet they are haunting photos in their beauty.

The ‘Purple Thistle Soldier’. It is truly a blessed thistle to find in the wild or even right near a parking lot.

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For World MS Day 2018

I had high hopes of writing a blog post about my decades long journey with this chronic disease. Then I was going to go walk and take a multitude of photos at my favorite nature spot or maybe go somewhere new!

And….well it’s really hot out today and it’s only the end of May!

Instead I’d gotten up, realized I had better mow, checked the battery for the mower, Yes! It is charged and ready! Then got so overheated I thought I might pass out and was sweating so profusely I could hardly see. Well no bueno.

Strip off, cool down, then take a shower and I was still sweating so I had to cool down again before actually putting on make up. I was shaking from the shower and had to eat. All of that mess and I didn’t even have a clue what I was going to do next. But I had to leave some things half done outside as I it’s too hot to go out and try again.

Oh yeah, I needed to organize my studio space so I can actually become productive again. See, I’ve been in a stall or a creative block for a few weeks. I have been creating, working on my art. Okay, yes I have. Yet. I knew that my space was just not ‘quite there yet’ and I needed to be finished with it so I could create.

My journey with Multiple Sclerosis has been a big pain in my *ss for decades. MS interferes with my plans and anything I want to do socially.

It took seven years to get a firm diagnosis and even then when I applied for disability (and had to get an attorney after the two year wait) everything went back to between the time my two sons were born. That record held the key to everything. With my family history, generational MS, and the symptoms I’d had the doctor in another state where I’d moved from had written “I believe the patient is developing Multiple Sclerosis and due to her familial history. She has the definitive symptoms of Multiple Sclerosis.”

Really since that point until now has been a quarter of a century ago.

My life has been one of determination to keep moving forward. I have a diagnosis of Relapsing/Remitting Multiple Sclerosis which means I’ve had periods of relapse putting me into a space of using a cane, forearm crutches and I’ve been in/out of a wheelchair. Then came the remitting periods which were short lived or sometimes lasted quite some time causing me to have false hopes.

But the key thing was a full year on Anti Viral medication via a central line IV in my chest. Medication in a big bag 2 times a day. I was so body weak it took time to recover but this worked for me. It worked well and put me into an over decade long remitting period.

When I’d gone back into the slow slide of relapse it took so long to get there. It was down down up up up up down up up up up up and up some more then down down down. Until two years ago then it was definitely a relapse time. I developed “plantar fasciitis’ (allegedly) as I dont believe that was all it was but led to lower leg braces on both legs, then a sacrum and lower lumbar issue needing a back brace and a brace on my more dominant (I’m ambidextrous) hand.

It took over a year of physical therapy, occupational therapy and hard work at home to get through this.

I’ll never get away from this shadow figure in my life, this MS. I know this but I do live with it each and every day. It demands I pay attention or it will knock me down when I least expect it and not allow me to get back up for awhile.

It is a big pain in the *ass because I have a lot of things I want to do! Rest however has become the biggest part of what I have to do to give homage to this disease each and every day.

Lit From Within

I’d hit a block of sorts. One which included a not so much what I’d call a writer’s block. I’d call it a ‘stall out time’. I’d not written or worked on my arti much at all. In fact I focused on others areas, physical ones which needed addressing.

So there ya are. A very vague explanation.

What I realized during this time is it didn’t matter if I wrote a 100 poems in 100 days. No, it really didn’t matter so much as what I was writing about. Last year I hit a big stall with my book writing and didn’t use the NaNoWriMo month to be the goal start for the next book in my paranormal series I write.

The level of pain I’d been in due to working so hard at physical therapy and at home was a new level of ‘bad’ for me. One I really couldn’t push through and escape from. Yet during the past several months of phasing into a new style of life which didn’t include physical therapy I learned some new lessons.

I learned to allow myself to rest. Okay this seems simple in theory. Yet It also involved the realization that no matter how hard I can try to escape from it? I live with a Chronic Illness. One which is mercurial at times and at others it is the worst enemy possible. But I also learned that the arthritic parts of my body let me know in no uncertain terms when it is going to rain. Go figure!

I get exhausted and have to rest. Sometimes this means days of rest before I can get back on track. But even in this I’ve learned to organize my time. See? I’ve lived with this disease for decades now and learned how to do stuff in spite of having to sit in a wheelchair or be on crutches. But this time I had to learn to completely rest.

Honestly I also learned how to be happy. Yes, happy each day in spite of pain, in spite of exhaustion with no pain, and I learned to smile in the face of it all. As someone put it “You seem lit up from inside.”

Yeah I think I’d agree with that statement.

Days 12, 13, 14 of 100 days of Poetry

Day 12

Pain

You get my attention

I listen to my body

Lower left…no biggie

You will pass

Pain

Each day you wear a different mask

Most days your level is low

One to ten, yes this the scale

Mine should be ten to twenty

Pain

You get my attention

But only when you are beyond level six

When you reach level eight or is it eighteen

Do I begin to give a focused hard attention

Pain

You’ve gotten my attention now

But I push you away

So far far away

I barely feel you anymore

Pain

You allow nothing else

Because of you

I have pushed all my emotions away

I have pushed away all feelings of pain

I have pushed you so far away

I have forgotten what it is to feel anything at all

-bree nowacki

Day 13

Tears awaken me

It is okay to cry

It is okay to feel

Tears wash down my face

My dog crawls ever closer

She licks my tears away

I hold her as I cry

It is okay to feel this

I tell myself

This is a good thing

Let it go

Washed away in this

This unexpected moment

Why did I awaken in tears

Of what was I dreaming

Was it possibly all the losses

Or was I simply letting go

For once for good

Letting go and beginning to feel

It is okay to cry

I whisper to myself

It is normal

And

It is okay

-bree nowacki

Day 14

I am aware of a broken heart

Hidden inside me

The day you took your life

I screamed endlessly

In front of everyone

Who’d had respect for me

I am aware of everything I lost

All the respect of those witnesses

They saw my loss of self control

The day the smiling girl died

Along with the taken life

The things which mattered disappeared

I was aware of my broken heart

Those endless cracks causing me to cry

Cry in public

Cry at home alone

Cry in the car

Cry while trying to study

I was aware of my broken heart

Each beat reminded me

Those scars they left

I felt them most of all

I loved

I lost in the worst way possible

Then lost again

So quick, so soon

This time I cried alone

I could tell no one

This time I was left with nothing

He had taken what he wanted

What he believed was his right to have

Another loss

On the heels of so much loss

I could not take this loss

Not this one, not this one

My broken heart lay in pieces on the floor

After the call saying you were gone

My lost love, my only true love

on the heels of all everything I’d lost

Too much loss

Too short a time

My tears dried up

In the end I became an empty shell

Simply trying to survive

-bree nowacki

Day 9, 10, 11 of 100 Days of Poetry

I’m still getting back in my writing ‘groove’. So that being said I’ll get it together and I’m keeping track of the days along with my thoughts in private journaling and these public poems.

Day 9

Breathe in

Breathe out

I can do this

I will do this

Breath in breathe out

the days are not all the same

My body stretches

I feel the tight spots

Always on the right side

Only on the right side

The left is very loose

Always so open to stretch

I breathe in

My muscles tighten

They pull in and push down

I’m gaining a solid strength

Surgery becomes a dimmer light

Breaths taken in

Breaths blown out

I can breath in so deep now

It’s new this connection

These muscles have awakened

Finally I can breathe

-bree nowacki

Day 10

Look look look

Look again

And again

And again

What or who am I looking for

Why am I looking

Are you there, waiting for me

Have you been looking too

Or is it all about opening doors

To let people in once again

The thought tires me deep inside

Let more people into my life

I’m happy all on my own

Day to day I’m okay

I’m fine with my ….

Life?

Do I have a life

Do I need to let someone in

In order to have a life

I think

And think

And think

And think again

About the days I let others in

Only to have been used by them

Hurt by them beyond imagining

Beyond the belief of others

“But they’re so nice!”

Perhaps they were taken in

I know I was taken in

By the friendly mask

That oh so seeming normal mask

Until the physical pain began

Until the terror happened

And I had to hide away

From the world I’d worked so hard to let in

Do I need to let anyone in

To this oh so sacred a space that is me

Do I need to let someone in

To this healing, happy person’s life

Do I

Will I

Should I

….could I?

-bree nowacki

Day 11

Butterflies invade my brain, my mind waking me up

I see butterflies on the wall and in the collages I’ve created

Butterflies representing so many intimate things

Things which no one has knowledge of

Medical things, emotional things, body image things

All so secret and hidden like this between my legs

The most butterfly-ey of all

So hidden and lovely, warm, wet and ….

I try not to think about the other things

The painful things which wake me in the night

I think instead of what I see in the mirror

The ever changing body and self view

So much pleasure hidden between my hidden folds

They are unique and yet are not at all

Highly misunderstood in my response

This, my beloved butterfly

She has lost a bit of one of her wings

Yet in losing this I gained so much more

I continue to grow in secret

So deep within my cocoon

Again

I am changing

I am growing strong

I am becoming….

Me once more.

I had forgotten who she was

I look forward to seeing her emerge

From this cocoon

I look forward to seeing

What she has become

This me I am and was and will become.

-bree nowacki

Days 6, 7, and 8 of 100 Days of Poetry

(It’s difficult to say so many things each day. Okay that was a rhyme right there! It makes me laugh and gets me kick started into creating some poetry. Friday, Saturday and Sunday will be posted on Friday from now on then begin again on Monday.)

Day 6

Truths are hidden inside me

Locked away for no one to see

Assumptions are made when truths are not shared

If truth is given

It is seen as a ‘lie’

Pain each day

Only “make believe”

To those who don’t understand

Pain accepted as a daily occurrence

In spite of no one believing it’s real

Smile in spite of pain

It makes other people happy

Smile in spite of exhaustion so deep

You have to have a ‘positive attitude’

Smile because this is what they want to see

Cosmetic attractiveness

It’s so attached to the term ‘happy’

Happy equals size

Happy equals the outward

No one knows what happens inward

Truth is not pretty

It is the authenticity of what is beneath

Truth is quite ugly

But sometimes?

Truth is very simple

Day 7

I look in the mirror

I do not recognize this person

Why do I not know who I am

This woman in the mirror?

She is not who I remember

The woman I hold in my mind

Who I remember

Is strong with long long hair

Muscled and strong

Gives no fucks

Speaks her mind when needed

When did she slip away?

I want to continue this

This going on four year quest

Determined to find her once again

Then improve upon her

Step by step I am reaching outward

I will never stop searching for her

I keep her picture at the center of my vision

She gives me hope as I know I was her

At the center of myself I AM her

Her existence inside me gives me hope

I will find her again

I am so close now that I have caught her scent

Each moment I feel tightness in my body

Each time I feel aches

I know I am closer still

She is me and I am her

She empowers me to never give in

This fight is still not over

I have caught her scent

There is no quitting now

Soon, oh so soon

She and I will be one

Her existence gives me strength to light my inner fire

Day 8

I am on fire

A deep ember

Which never goes cold

This fire was hidden

Hidden for far too long

My fire is ready to be seen

Hold onto it a little longer

Nearly ready to burn bright

Burn with a neverending light

Time had been my enemy

To the point I believed

My fire was doused out

But

My ember was there

Ready for a breath to bring it to life

My ember ready to burn with bright fire

I only had to

Not quit breathing

Then to deeply inhale

While I am consumed by

My self fire

My self light

I will be consumed

Yet not burned

It is a fire continually fed

I am ready for the fire

May I burn bright

May I be consumed by myself

Day 5 of 100 Days of Poetry

Are you lonely?

This phrase has become a code

Are you lonely?

To me it means

I miss companionship

I miss closeness with another person

I miss phone calls or texts

Which simply talk about the day

I miss so many things

I miss being held in the night

After I have awoken in the midst of a scream

I miss the moment of feeling arms around me

Just because someone missed me too

Are you lonely?

I miss all of these things and more

But it is not code for…

I need sex, no

I need to get laid, no

I don’t ‘need’ these things

I am missing so much more

Are you lonely?…

Yes I am

I am lonely for so many acts

But none of them involve sex.

Bree Nowacki