Renew: My 2020 Personal Journey to Wellness September 15 Update

Renew: My 2020 Personal Journey to Wellness September 15 Update

Not sure who all has hung in there with me through these last couple of “Renew:” blog updates, but this one should catch me up to the present! 

Last week, on September 15th, I had my 3 month post op check up with the amazing Dr. Derek Shadid. First, for anyone who may be considering any plastic surgery, I would *highly* recommend Dr. Shadid and his professional staff any day. He and his staff are truly fantastic, and this comes from a highly picky person! I’ve had quite a few inquiries on who I chose as my surgeon as well as why, and to be honest, it was several factors including professionalism of office staff, his location here in Oklahoma City, his education (GO HEELS!), and more…but it boiled down to one main factor. Him. He is polite, kind, spent plenty of time discussing my symptoms and concerns with me and didn’t make me feel like my concerns weren’t valid (like my primary care manager did). Also, his experience! Not gonna lie – I had a very long (like to the extreme) list of questions and concerns for him, but even before I could get to nearly all of them, he had covered the bases with me. I didn’t feel like a burden for my thoughts or that he didn’t understand my ailments. For anyone suffering with chronic illness and autoimmune disease, you know this is very, very rare. Also, Dr. Shadid’s assistant, April, was kind, understanding, and honestly helped put me at ease (hello, vulnerability). I also want to mention Leslie, the front office receptionist as well as Patricia, who deals with the financials. Leslie was beyond patient with my initial questions and did all she could to get me in to see Dr. Shadid in a very timely manner. She welcomed my persistent calls to see when a cancelation might pop up, and that’s how I was able to get in to see Dr. Shadid so quickly last year. She’s a welcoming face each time I have gone in, and working with Patricia to work through the financial aspect of surgery was also so easy because of her knowledge and kind personality. 

Okay, now on to the good stuff. My 3-month checkup! It went very well! I have been cleared for all activity, meaning that nothing that I do should hurt any of the surgical healing process. This is great news since really about a month and a half or so ago, I had already started to feel so much more like myself and have been working out more regularly. Nothing crazy – walking, mostly, but still more than normal for me. It’s still a little tender in there while doing certain activities – jumping on my trampoline, for instance – but overall, I’m mostly pain free. Dr. Shadid said that some of the tenderness and few slightly sharper pains that I may experience could be from nerves waking up a bit more, and that this is normal and I can work through the pains with massage. It’s nothing to be concerned with, however. During the appointment, one of my main concerns, which was discussed pretty much from Day 1, was the idea of a fat transfer. This procedure would be where Dr. Shadid takes fat from my back or wherever he is able, and both slim down that area and transfer the fat into the breast pockets. Although we all agree this procedure would lead to the most aesthetic option for me, I have concerns still over quite a few things, including cost and possibly continuing cost. Additional health concerns to include calcification? Long term effects? Fat dissolving into the body, requiring more surgery?? Sigh. I don’t know. Lots to absorb and think about, so for the time being, I’m going to be as happy as I can be with the explant. Women, obviously myself included, put way too much into their looks every day. I had no idea how many women changed their God-given bodies so much through surgery. Women that I know. Women that aren’t “out there on TV” or wealthy. Just…all types of women. I’m not against it, but I do feel it’s problematic about our society when so many of us aren’t happy with ourselves, especially when I look around at the women and friends that have had some work done, and they are and always have been so beautiful to me, regardless of procedure. It’s still baffling to me, since for so many years, I was ashamed that “I was the only one” who had “work done.” I had my reasons to justify, but apparently we all do.

Back to the idea of a fat transfer – this was on the radar from Day One because, as I’ve been very open about, I have pretty much zero breast tissue. Just wasn’t in the cards for me. That hasn’t changed through weight gain or bearing children who nursed. As I standing in front of April, Dr. Shadid’s assistant, extremely vulnerable for her to update my 3 month pictures, she could see my discomfort as I said that I was once again sorry for my appearance. As kindly as ever, she gently reminded me that I could elect to have a fat transfer to change that. She knows I’m hesitant for many reasons. After that super uncomfortable moment, I waited for Dr. Shadid and again, just like the first couple of post op appointments, he mentioned that if I’m unhappy with my result, I would be an ideal candidate for a fat transfer. I had secretly hoped that, like 20 years ago, or even 5 years ago, I’d have been too skinny to pull fat from! HA! Not anymore. Maybe THAT’S the reason for my weight gain…totally kidding! I have some definite areas where he could get possibly up to half a cup size for each breast. I’m honestly not sure it’s worth it…though, the idea of having some unwanted fat removed does pique my interest! I’m truly glad to have my options, but also wonder why I feel such a great need to change. Anyways, aside from that discussion and talking about my incisions and their appearance (I chose a particular kind of stitching process that wouldn’t leave anything in my body but that also dissolves differently so the result is a little different), we ended with seeing each other in a year, I think. Actually, I’ll have to check whether it’s a year or six months…at the time of the appointment I was not planning on being here because of an impending move, but the move has been canceled, so now I need to actually process that!

OH! And, an update on my symptoms! Here’s a short list from my first BII post, which you can find here: Journey to Wellness

InflammationImproved 30+%
Joint Pain – Improved 30+%
AnxietyImproved (not sure on %, because this was a particularly stressful month)
Difficulty ConcentratingSlight improvement – 15%
Memory LossThis one I’m not sure on. Still not great, but that’s been the same since I was about 18
Brain FogImproved!! 50% 
Hair Loss – Improved – Hair growth visible, looks healthier
DepressionAgain, it’s been a rough month, but I believe until this past month, I did have an improvement. Not huge, but some. 
Mood SwingsNot sure, but I feel confident it’s improved. 
Shortness of BreathBETTER!! Improved 50% or more! I had no idea that my breaths had become so, so shallow. Just days after surgery, I could FEEL myself breathing deeper. Even if nothing else changed, this would have been worth it!!! 
Weight GainNot sure. Some weight loss since surgery, but I also did a juice cleanse for five days about a month ago. Unfortunately, I followed that up with a month of Starbucks and eating out. Sooo…between that and the stress, I did lose weight, but it fluctuates, and though less weight than before surgery, I’m not sure how much is from just that. 

I’m adding to this list: 

Chronic Fatigue – SO MUCH BETTER!! Probably 50%. Yes, I still get tired doing menial daily tasks, but what I haven’t done is lay in bed all day pretty much since maybe a week after surgery. Are there days I want/need a nap? Yes. But it’s not daily anymore, and even better, I’m able to exercise and walk without becoming short of breath and tired. I already know that my quality of life has been forever changed. 

One last tidbit before I end this update. 

I forgot that I had also asked Dr. Shadid about my ribcage and sternum, and how to me, they felt deformed. I feel like my sternum protrudes a bit while my ribs that were under my implants are a bit…concave. Yes, my actual ribs. I wondered for a while if maybe I was imagining this, but he confirmed that this was not an imagination, but that my body truly does now have a deformity. It likely isn’t going to cause any future damage or organ damage or anything, thankfully. That said, for anyone who has implants and/or for anyone who might one day consider getting them, PLEASE KNOW ALL OF THE RISKS. We ALL thought we knew going in to our surgeries for implants. I did. My friends with implants did. My new “breasties” (friends who have the same types of issues in various groups) all did. But we don’t. MY RIBCAGE IS DEFORMED, Y’ALL. Forever. I truly wonder if THIS is why back in 2011 I had my first bout of costochondritis (inflammation of the ribs). Was the weight of my implants over those 8 years what caused that? It wouldn’t surprise me. Even as I type, I can remember the feeling of pain in my right ribs, right under my breast, where I would have this terrible dull ache for months at a time. No rhyme or reason. No doctor ever told me that it could be the implants — which is CLEARLY marked on ALL of my medical paperwork. I still have some dull pains, and I expect that it won’t ever “go away completely”…but I doubt I’m doing anything now to make it worse (like harboring toxic, heavy bags in my breast pockets). This deformity may also be causing some of the issue with my appearance — if my ribs go in, it’s likely that the minuscule bit of tissue I have (pretty much zero, but still trying to humor the possibility) is also pulling in, and not having the normal protrusion like most women. Remember, I’m a LOT smaller than most, so those bags (they were small and only got me up to a B Cup) were still big and likely heavy for my frame. I worry for those who I know have much, much larger implants, and the pains they may one day have because of them. 

I really wanted to share this with anyone wanting the updates. I know that women in particular have benefitted from my openness and vulnerability.

As hard as it is, I am thankful that my story may one day help someone who reads this. 

xx Shelby 

**Picture from March, pre-explant. One day I’ll take some updated selfies, but it’s been a little crazy over here since the surgery! 

Renew: My 2020 Personal Journey to Wellness – July 31 Update

Renew: My 2020 Personal Journey to Wellness – July 31 Update
Updating with another post – this one is from two months post surgery, and the difference in lifestyle is so recognizable by anyone who knows me! Explanting was definitely the right decision, and though the struggles are still real, I know I am better off without the toxic, fake breasts taking away from my life. 
 
“Good morning!!
Quite a few people have asked for updates on my post-surgery recovery, and the results speak for themselves! It’s only been two months, and I swear I’ve been more physically active in this time since surgery than the previous four years combined. Yesterday I walked two miles, and this morning (before 9 am!) I walked 2.3 miles! This is in addition to some light workouts, as well as being productive through the day. A few months ago, I could barely get a mile in, and I’d be in bed for several hours after. It’s embarrassing, I know, but that was my life, for way longer than I care to admit. The relentless pain and exhaustion was truly that unbearable.
My pain level has decreased substantially, and while I fully believe my AS autoimmune disorder still exists and will continue to cause issues for me (my spinal pain and hip pains have decreased, but still very much there), I think my body is able to help itself more now that it’s not fighting off something that should have never been in there. I am curious about my Fibromyalgia and Chronic Fatigue diagnoses — so many with BII have those diagnoses as well, and a lot of those symptoms have improved. Not 100%, but a big improvement for sure.
I haven’t really lost any weight since last month, despite my efforts, but I’m still feeling healthier in general. I feel I lost some inflammation immediately following surgery, and that was about it. I’ll be seeing a functional medicine doctor soon, and hopefully more things will improve over time and a bit more digging for answers. Physically, my post surgery wounds are healing well, and though I’m trying to adjust my self-perception and self-esteem, I *do* think it is possible there will come a day when I’m not so saddened by my appearance. Though, it depends on which day you catch me on how I’m *really* feeling. All that said, it’s still worth it.

Seeing all three rings closed yesterday was amazing, but being more active with the kids (i.e. I jumped on the trampoline yesterday…something I’d have thought would break my body a few months ago!!!) and being more productive regularly has been even better!! Continuing to pray for healing 💕

xx Shelby 

 
 

Renew: My 2020 Personal Journey to Wellness

Note: If you aren’t comfortable with complete transparency and personal issues, just skip this post! I’m very real, very honest, and this has nothing to do with photography! I wanted to share because I know others are struggling with similar issues, and no matter how personal, this is an important issue. Sharing might just allow someone to change their mind about how they feel about themselves now, or might open their eyes to possible causes of feeling ill. 

Today, April 9, 2020, was supposed to be the most freeing, anxiety-filled, yet hopeful day for me. What a mix of emotions, huh? A day that I thought about, prayed for, and is truly what made me come up with my “word” for this year, “Renew.” For some, this may come as a shock because before Covid-19 changed the course of all of our lives, I was going to be in surgery for a few hours today, and that may not seem like a sense of…renewal. So why did I think having an {elective} surgery would be freeing, and help renew me, body, mind and soul? 

What I know now, that I didn’t know 17 years ago, is that my sense of self-worth and self-esteem probably shouldn’t have come from what my external appearance is. Unfortunately, and I’m sad to say it, I am not alone in this. We are living in a world where our appearance seems like it’s everything, and we all want to do things to improve our external selves. From magazine article tips, to spa treatments, to laser therapies to invasive surgeries, we all want to look better. I’m not sure exactly how many want to improve their internal selves, but for me…I’m working on both, in different ways. 

Back to my need for surgery. Like many women, I had a breast augmentation when I was younger. I had gone through my teenage years wondering when my breasts would grow in, and alas, they never did. So, at twenty-three, after finding the love of my life in college and having him accept me fully and wholly for who I am inside and out, I still pushed the issue for me to have a breast augmentation, despite his concerns. I can justify my decision for enhancement out the wazoo — I was 4’10”, zero boobs, little self esteem on my facial appearance, and definitely had issues finding clothes that fit. I don’t care how many will jump on this and say it was/is easy for people “my size”…it’s not. And please spare me the, “you can always try kids’ clothes!” Just don’t go there. It’s not funny. Again, appearance does matter in our society, and my appearance didn’t seem to fit the mold of success nor beauty. I had the breast augmentation and after about 6 months, I finally adjusted to having them — it was amazing how well I could fit into clothes and feel more feminine. Dresses didn’t just drape down off of me, blouses fit my breast area beautifully, and I do feel I had more of a sense of confidence! I could wear (and enjoy wearing) bikinis for goodness sakes! 

Fast forward quickly to the present, before I jump back again to explain my ongoing health issues. After tons of research and thankfully having a friend take the time to express her deep concern for my health, and share with me her experience via message in February 2019, I finally, in July 2019, decided to accept what was probably there for about 10-15 years. My health had been in steady decline, and though others had brought it up before her, it finally sunk it that it’s at least a possibility that I have Breast Implant Illness. I don’t know for sure if I do. My case – as all things seem to be concerning my health – is different. I had started becoming…different…around eighteen years old (pre-implant). I had some negative experiences, and I wonder if either trauma to my body or just timing of my age and onset of diseases began. I’ll never know, and I’ll likely always wonder. Things started happening my freshman year of college that were out of character for me – I’d have tachycardic episodes, I had several situations where I passed out, likely because of the tachycardia, and depression set in, along with other ailments like stomach pains and extreme fatigue. Unfortunately instead of understanding and help, I was met with questioning and negativity from friends (like passing out with friends was…on purpose? Apparently it was thought that I was attention seeking, instead of dealing with a medical issue. Sigh.). It was a couple of tough years.

Thankfully, time moved on, I continued a relationship with my now husband, and with his support through the drama that my body caused for me, I was able to live somewhat a normal life. And to be completely transparent, my husband never wanted me to get a breast enhancement. Truly. Very bizarre in my mind, but he absolutely loved/loves me for me. He’s always complimented my beauty and never wanted/wants me to change. So, we married, he started making a steady income, and I wanted to change my appearance. That should have been a red flag – face palm! I love you honey…thank you for putting up with me! So in 2003, I got my breasts augmented, and despite hating them for 6 months, I wound up loving my appearance with them. Those dresses fit beautifully now. I felt like a woman. Life seemed great. Minus occasional ER trips for stomach pains that had no known origin, then chronic fatigue syndrome (did y’all know that to combat that, I should get a night job? That’s according to a military doctor, and sadly that’s not even the worst advice ever given), then a fibromyalgia diagnosis in 2006, and then a diagnosis of Ankylosing Spondylitis in 2016. Plus fun tidbits like costochondritis, occipital neuralgia, iliosacral dysfunction, a cataract at 38 years old, and honestly the list goes on. And on. It hasn’t been easy, and although it’s been a unique road to travel for my husband, he has supported me and my lack of ability to truly “work” (unless it’s on my own schedule) for necessary income, and he supports my feelings and how I wish to proceed.

I don’t know if I genuinely have Breast Implant Illness. But here are some things I do know: 

I suffer from autoimmune disease
All of my issues revolve around pain in my body
The pain has increased in intensity over the years
My chronic fatigue is debilitating 

Some Symptoms Include (not an exhaustive list):
Inflammation
Joint Pain
Anxiety
Difficulty Concentrating
Memory Loss
Brain Fog
Hair Loss
Depression
Mood Swings 
Shortness of Breath
Weight Gain

Breast Implant Illness symptoms all correlate with what is going on with me

Even if it’s not BII, I want to renew myself with a sense of purpose this year. That’s what I told myself in January. I want to be intentional in how I treat my body. I want to renew the thoughts of my mind telling me my appearance matters that much to everyone else. Seriously, I used to apologize to people for having to look at me. I know I’m not the portrait of beauty in our culture. But I dwelled on that and kept trying to correct it in ways I could. So now, I want to be the kind of beautiful that people like to be around, because I’m good. I’m generous. I’m ridiculously loving. I’m not super fun, but I want to be, and hopefully, even if I have 10% more energy, this surgery will be worth it. I want to be better for my kids. I want to be better for my husband. I want to be better for me. I want to be renewed. 

So, whenever it is that our country opens back up to being social again, and to having elective surgeries, and to having some sense of normalcy again post Covid-19, I will be ready for this *huge,* sort of defining moment for my life. For now, I’m going to mourn what should have happened today, while still realizing there’s a reason it couldn’t happen. God’s always got this. The next surgery date is for May 27th of this year, but obviously all of that is tentative.

And, for anyone wondering, I do worry about having the surgery and it not helping my symptoms. I do! My PCM doesn’t even believe in BII (another face palm), and thinks that despite all of my symptoms, taking out man made toxic bags won’t help anything (and that the breast pain I have is…not real? Like, I’m imagining it). She might be right – not about imagining my pain, because I assure you it’s there, but that I might not feel better. Or maybe my surgeon who does believe in BII is right, and maybe a small percentage of my wellness will be improved. We’ve discussed at length how this surgery may not help my symptoms because my case is different – my symptoms were starting before my implants. But, here’s the thing. At the end of the day, God didn’t make me with those silicone toxic bags. I wasn’t even a Christian when I awoke from my implant and felt that I had disappointed God by changing my body that much. I felt “wrong.” I am hoping that with the explant will come a sense of peace over who I am, who God made me to be, and at the end of the day, will also eliminate the possibility that my pains and heath ailments come from man-made implants that shouldn’t be in my body. 

More on Breast Implant Illness to come. 

And, a huge shout out to Breast Implant Illness and Healing by Nicole. What a truly remarkable group this has been in uplifting one another, sharing stories, and truly trying to promote wellness. Without this group, I’m not sure I’d have had the courage to take this necessary step. That, and to my friend who went out of her way to share with me in February of last year – you really got me thinking seriously about my illnesses, and the possibilities that may lay on the other side of explant. Thank you all for sharing your stories, your hearts, and your beautiful scars – all to help us recovery from this illness. Healing is possible – and soon I’ll join you on the lighter side. 

xo

Shelby 

*Picture of me, from my 40th Birthday Session that my daughter captured for me! 

Favor Real Estate – Company Headshots

When you live in Oklahoma City, Oklahoma, it’s very likely that you’ll run in to some of the kindest people…even if it’s just out and about doing errands, at Kohl’s! 

After we chat over a few items and then our military backgrounds, we were comfortable enough to share each other business cards, and out of that came a beautiful friendship and these updated portraits for this sweet couple! As always, very honored to capture moments and images that families will love, as well as to update some business photos as well! 

Also, you can find these images at Favor Real Estate…talk with the Peterson’s if you are interested in an awesome property management duo to help your real estate needs! 

Oklahoma City Lightning – One Stormy October Night

All of these Lightning Captures were taken on October 4, 2016 in Oklahoma City, OK. I have somewhat of an obsession with lightning, and trying to capture in a single moment all of this incredible power, light, and beauty. The particular evening, the lightning show was amazing.

One day, if there is interest, I would love to do a full tutorial on how I capture these gorgeous lightning strikes! I’m sure, like my pictures show, that there are many ways to go about setting up for these, but after taking dozens of lightning images, I think I have a pretty good system so far, but, like many photographers, I am always learning!

10-4-16-slp-websize-okc-storm-1 10-4-16-slp-websize-okc-storm-2 10-4-16-slp-websize-okc-storm-3  10-4-16-slp-websize-okc-storm-5 10-4-16-slp-websize-okc-storm-6 10-4-16-slp-websize-okc-storm-410-4-16-slp-websize-okc-storm-7 10-4-16-slp-websize-okc-storm-8 10-4-16-slp-websize-okc-storm-9  10-4-16-slp-websize-okc-storm-11  10-4-16-slp-websize-okc-storm-10

Valentine’s Fun – 2017

Oh my heart!! When my neighbor and sweet friend came by to see if I could help out with some super Valentine’s Day pictures in the studio, I was pumped! She had some awesome ideas, and I think the images capture how fun their family is! 

Seriously, is she not the COOLEST (and sweetest!!) Mom?! I absolutely love how much the kids enjoyed having fun with Mommy, and how much she enjoyed it too! 

 

Mommy & Me – {B&L}

Melt. My. Heart. 

Seriously, Mommy & Me Sessions melt my heart in general (and what I’d have given to have more photographs like these with my littles!) but from the moment I met this little guy and his Mommy, I was smitten! First, I’ll always fall for a guy who meets me and starts giving me presents. Rocks, pebbles, weeds…I’m game…and, I still have this guy’s little gifts! Then, when my little subjects are so excited about a session with me they start posing and getting ready with smiles before we get to the actual venue…sold! Between his cute personality, those blue eyes, and his Mommy’s super sweet kindness…it was a wonderful session at Will Roger’s Park! This venue is pretty wonderful for family pictures, and you can tell that’s true by how many photographers are always out there! But, even on a busy day, we can always find some little nooks and open spaces, blooming flowers and even some trees to enjoy. I love the sweet moments and interactions with this Mommy-Son duo…

All sessions should end with a memorable face like this one!!! And, I LOVE that Mommy decided to add this one to her order…I totally would have too!! Truly an expression worth holding on too…they grow out of this way too fast! 

^^^^ This little one also ended our session at his car, with a kiss on my hand. Seriously…Mommy better watch out for this heartbreaker! 

And, standard with recent sessions, I decided to try my hand at a cute collage…I LOVE IT!! 

Artists Inspired Blog Circle – Purple

Artists Inspired Blog Circle – Purple

Purple 

**I’m going to introduce my blog post today as being very (very) personal. I’ve been made aware that sometimes, my circle posts have touched a nerve as I often write about what is important to me and that I want to share. As I never want to make anyone feel uncomfortable, please know in advance that this is personal, and that if you choose not to read it, I am perfectly fine with that. This is relevant to my life, and to many others, and I want to use my time and this space as a way of sharing what’s on my mind. If there’s anything I share that ever makes you uncomfortable or that you disagree with, please know these are my feelings and opinions, and if you’re in the circle or not, this is not something that you need to read…it’s just something I want to share. I would never, ever consciously hurt anyone with my writing or with my opinions or feelings, but as I know I have in the past, I wanted to be clear that this is personal. 

All that said, I am going to share my images first, and everything after the “purple” images is personal.
Just…me sharing…about me.

I actually love the color purple! This month it takes on a special meaning, and I’ll get to that. But when I saw the theme, I knew exactly what I would post as these images stand out to me. I love freelensed-reverse macro, and it’s been a technique I enjoy using and sharing with others. These images are are definitely from the archives – I think from two years ago! I think it’s about time I go take some more…

This one is amazing. Just…wow. I remember the morning that I captured this! 

The flower actually looks like this…it’s really small still, but close up in the above picture…it just looks amazing to me!

I’m a fan of all of the ways freelensing can alter a subject.

The above image, and the next two are from the same subject, just framed slightly different and with the focus shifted some. 

Do you have a favorite of the three?! 

Something I love about purple show different the shades can look. This is a bit more pink/purple (fuchsia, maybe) but I still love it. Or, maybe I’m just color blind. Either way, I love this capture, and am reminded that I need to print it! 

My sweet son gave me this and I had to capture it during one of our family sessions! 
 

And, I’m starting the personal part…

Why it works? Well, just like with my diagnosis, the purple comes in many shades. I feel like my diagnosis makes me feel like I’m a bit inconsistent. Some days I’m this super hard working mama and wife and can tackle so much in an hour! Other days (more often than the other Super Shelby Days) I’m…a patient. Taken care of by my family while in bed, with the understanding that it’s just a bad Fibro Day. There are tons of other shades of purple (or of me) in between, but those are the biggest ones. There’s also the purple feeling. As in, bruised. Most of the time, my body feels like a giant, purple swollen bruise. You just can’t see it. Most people say I hide it pretty well – but my family – they see a different, painful side of me.

All of that to say…when I wrote the following, it was Fibromyalgia Awareness Day, and I posted to my personal Facebook page — this post has a bit more depth to it, but again, being my space to share, I wanted to spread awareness about this disease and my journey with Fibromyalgia. As I’ve gotten older, the need has come up for me to share a bit about my diagnosis with Fibro, as well as several other “unseen” medical issues. Whether with friends or family (when I fall asleep on couches) or with clients (when I have to explain my two-week-long “Fibro flare”as the reason for a later than anticipated gallery), it’s become increasing clear that I need to be open.

I was diagnosed with Fibromyalgia when I was 26, after four full years of trying to find out what was ‘wrong’ with me. I was constantly tired, diagnosed with Chronic Fatigue Syndrome (which, trust me, I get sounds like a cop-out) a couple years before then. But despite the pains, from my shoulders/neck through my legs, nothing was diagnosed through [very poor med-clinic] “testing.” I believe my pains and fatigue really started when I was towards the beginning of my Freshman year in college — I was going through a lot, in general as well as medically, and of course, there were some underlying issues. However, at the time, I just felt…lazy. Like, my body just didn’t want to do anything. I slept – a lot. I remember trying to figure out my life and I even remember losing friends through this process. Through college, I did what I could to stay active. After college, things were even more difficult and finally, in 2006 after being told that the facility on base couldn’t “treat people like [me]” I received, for the first real time, off-base care. And finally, real testing (blood work for specific diseases and to rule them out, several X-rays on my back, and a thorough physical exam – probably more, but I can’t remember it all) my doctor suggested a word I had never heard before – Fibromyalgia – and arthritis (in my spine – it WASN’T in my head!). He was fairly confident in my diagnosis, but referred me to a rheumatologist, who confirmed it after more testing and ruling out.

The desire to share on a wider scale was prompted a little over two months ago (despite the diagnosis from over a decade ago), when I went to see my doctor about a few things. To my surprise, she told me that her PA suggested that I was depressed, which was not at all what I went to see her for. As we talked more, she said something that took me very much off guard. I’m fairly confident I’ll never forget the meaning in her words (as best as I can remember the point):

“Shelby, I’m going to be honest. I think you need to talk with a therapist. I don’t believe that you have accepted your disease, and the prognosis of it. You keep working to get ‘better.’ You have a disease – you aren’t just going to get better one day.” 

Well, a few of you know how well I took that conversation. Cliff Notes version – it didn’t go well (a few days’ worth of tears may have been involved). I thought long and hard about what she said and the impact of those words. She’s right — I DO keep trying to get better. I don’t know if she’s right about me not getting “better” — I hope that I do one day! But Fibro, at least for me, is a very cyclical disease…and since my diagnosis (and years before then), there hasn’t been an end to the symptoms. 

Pain —> Fatigue —> Lack of Activity —> Lack of Interest —> Depression or Sadness —> Pain From Inactivity and Depression —> Fatigue…

Anyways, in my head, that all makes sense, so I hope that makes a little sense to everyone else. But, the point is, I’m in pain and am tired pretty much every single day (tons of other things too, but those are the highlights). The simplest things, like getting out of bed and showering, are often the only things I manage to get done in a day (and, sometimes, I don’t manage that). Some days/weeks are better than others. I am beyond thankful to have a supportive husband who does everything he can to help me through it, and who has for as long as I can remember. It hasn’t been easy on him or our family, but I’m beyond blessed with Jason and my children, who truly understand what I go through on a daily basis. Without them, I don’t know how I would be able to handle this – they do so much to help me on a daily basis. I’ve also been blessed with many friends who, thankfully, accept me as I am – sleepy, painful me – and who help as they can, even if it’s just listening to my sadness when discussing how my day didn’t turn out how I imagined because I’m still in bed. 

Please, for anyone who has an invisible illness, know that you aren’t alone. People are out here who understand, and are more than willing to help as we can. For those who know someone with an invisible illness, whether it’s Fibromyalgia or any of the various illnesses out there, please listen. We do not want to feel like this. We want love and support, and the understanding that some days, our best might only be a shower. Other days, we can tackle the world (or at least the laundry) — but our illness is still there. Pray over those with these illnesses – that one day, maybe there’s a cure.


Obviously the above isn’t mine, but it was found on one of the many pages that I am a part of to understand more, and to see if new cures or research is coming out. It is so accurate in what it says, and I hope that anyone who reads it will understand. Many thanks to “Fibro Ramblings” for this great graphic.  

I’m going to end with two images that symbolize to me what Fibro has done to my life. 

This one…well, it hits me hard. I actually did this for another self-portrait project that Photography By HeArt released last year. 
I think the meaning is evident, but, this is me, feeling many days like I fail those who mean the most to me. I do the best I can with what I’ve been given, and I am so thankful that they love me and understand me regardless of my shortcomings. I couldn’t love my family any more – they are my rock.

The image below was done as an “Inspired By” series, also from Photography By HeArt. This was from the Inspired By: Francesca Woodman series, and this is the result I was hoping for when I captured it. Again, I don’t think words are needed. This is how I often feel with Fibro. Trapped. Trapped in a body that is failing me, and me desperately trying to get out.

 ~Shelby 

Next up in our Artists Inspired Blog Circle is the talented Liz of It’s Still Life by Elizabeth Willson (Facebook page).
Click here to see Liz’s take on this month’s theme – I assure you that you’ll love it…she’s one of my favorites to follow!

The Artists Inspired Blog Circle is made up of an exceptionally talented group of photographers from all walks of life, from all over the world. They are wives, mothers, friends, daughters and visual storytellers who draw from their own experiences to create art that is inspiring, unique, beautiful and thought-provoking.

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{H} Family – Spring 2017

Hello, Friends! 

I don’t think there’s any denying how giddy I am over this BEAUTIFUL Oklahoma family’s canola field session! There were so many amazing moments that came from maybe an hour at the field together, and I truly adore them! We had some interesting weather – naturally, we are in Oklahoma so it was fairly windy as you can tell, but it was also a little undecided as to whether it wanted to  be cloudy or sunny! We were able to capture a good bit of the images during the overcast time, but towards the end, it got very, very sunny!

Now, with my “style” of photography, my clients get the benefit of having me LOVE all types of photography — from portrait and posed to candid lifestyle and even the every day documentary — I love it all. That said, here’s another session that is a bit of portraiture combined with lifestyle…and I am so thankful that my client chose images for her order from BOTH styles! That completely makes the session complete for me as an artist, as I love the fresh, polished look of some great family posed captures as well as the moments that really make life so much happier in the raw moments together. The laughter, the fun, the memories…these are what truly makes memories last! 

I think I am going to start offering collages like this on a regular basis for my clients!! I love having so many great looks in one place, and as I was playing with the images in this set, I realized how much I want one of these with my family! What do you think? Do you love collages as much as I do?! 

Oh my goodness. The classic look and timelessness of this capture melts my Mommy heart to pieces! 

It might not be everyone’s thing…but these shots are some of my FAVORITES! I love the focus on Mom and Dad…(and, for the record, I just saw those gnats in my picture, so those are about to get deleted in Mom and Dad’s picture! Left them in this one for a good laugh at myself though — I didn’t see them in my editing software, so I’m glad I caught them here!) 

I can’t help but laugh at this! I mean, really, if you have children around these ages, this is just a necessity to capture! (and, I love the passion between Mom and Dad back there!)

COULD HE BE ANY CUTER?!!!!!

This little one is SUCH a beauty!! I love her freckles, and her eye color is AMAZING! I am so mesmerized by them! 

Do you know I’ve known this guy for over half his life?! What a cutie pie — and, in case anyone wonders, he may be president, and very famous one day. Hence why he is so amazing at taking pictures! And seriously…why do boys always get the amazing lashes?!

Ahhhh! LOVE. Just…so much love! 

Daddy and Daughter…

 

  

 

  

One last amazing posed…

And now for some candid lifestyle fun! 

This family has now inspired a new pose…the Totem Pole! I love it! 
 

{D & K} Bridal Session with Studio802

{D & K} Bridal Session with Studio802

What a gorgeous and super sweet Bridal Session that my amazingly talented friend, Emiley of Studio802 allowed me to capture with her! First off, I need to say how incredibly generous and kind Emiley has been to me since the moment (or, maybe even before!) I stepped back in to Oklahoma City! She’s a firm believer and DOER of “community over competition” and it shows in everything she does. I’ve been blessed beyond words by her friendship, mentorship, and love! And, heads up, she has just changed studio locations, and I cannot wait to see all that she’s able to do with it! 

Anyways, back to this beautiful session — Emiley invited me to join her and her sweet hubby to take pictures at a bridal session from a wedding she had recently done. Of course I was super eager to join her and watch how another photographer works. I’ve had my own business for a few years, but there’s something to learn from such an amazingly talented professionals in the industry, and her images and how she works were wonderful to see in person. And this couple!!! Seriously, they are super cute and sweet, and I am so thankful they let me join in capturing these moments. I wish them all the best in their future – with as much fun and laughter, I don’t doubt it’ll be an amazing one. 

Here is a small sampling of images that I was able to capture with Emiley (and a few over her shoulder — loved documenting how she works, and also didn’t want to disrupt her flow)! I hope you love this gorgeous session as much as I do. I don’t offer my services for many weddings (mainly smaller ones), but I’ve been blessed to capture a few, and though it’s not my main niche, I’m glad to have had some more experience like this. 

**Oh! And, yeah. I’m not a consistent blogger! I’ve had this sitting in my drafts for…well, months…and I’m so sorry I haven’t gotten this out sooner! I’m sure after seeing how gorgeous session this was why I still want to share and blog it! 

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Emiley’s sweet husband making sure all of the details are perfect! 
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Emiley, working her magic!! 
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