Happy New Year!

I’m coming out of hibernation to wish everyone a wonderful start to the new year. 2015 was easily the best year of my life thus far (for many reasons, which I will get into at a later date!) but I am definitely looking forward to seeing what 2016 has to bring.

For now, enjoy these photos of our first week of snow here in Halifax. It’s been an interesting week since Christmas, weather-wise!

   
 
    

 

Under Construction

1976 Little Construction Vehicles by JD Hancock

Guess what, friends! I’m back and planning some exciting (to me, at least) new things for the blog. Luckily, one of those things includes actually posting more regularly. Expect to see some changes in the near future!

RIP.

IMG_2565.JPG

We had to let our little boy go today. Five years of living with the sweetest kitten in the world, and he became ill in the blink of an eye.

You know going into pet adoption that their little lives are shorter and more fragile than our own, but you choose to risk the grief and the pain anyway, because the unconditional love you get is so worth it. You can’t prepare for this sort of pain, though.

I remember the first time I saw Stitch. He was in the window of a vet clinic near where I worked. I was going through one of the roughest times of my life and fell instantly in love. I went in to see him, and he buried his tiny little face in my elbow and purred. Mark said that he had claimed me as his own. Less than a month later, we took him home.

He was the sweetest thing. He loved absolutely everybody, and was the most social cat – he always had to know what was going on. He never bit or hissed or got upset. He was tolerant and patient and won everyone over with his tiny squeak of a meow.

He was the quirkiest cat, too. He loved spinach and would beg for it every time it was in the house. He was also incredibly curious about human food and loved to sniff whatever I had to eat. I would let him, because he was well-behaved enough to never eat it.

He had a habit of bopping Mark on the chin – he would climb up on top of him and try to nibble on his beard at night. I swear there was never a friendlier cat.

I don’t know how to process him being gone. I keep expecting to hear him from the other room, and I keep wishing I could snuggle him again. I would do anything to bring him back, but it is comforting to know he isn’t sick anymore.

If you’re reading this and you have a pet, please give them extra love today, for me. You never know when it might be your last snuggle.

Two hectic months.

So, it’s been nearly two months since I sat down to write anything here. I don’t really know why – it’s a combination of being ultra-busy and trying to manage my mental health and emotions without pouring them all out to a million people. (Not that a million people would ever read this, but that’s not the point.)

I started my new job in June. I love my job, and I love where I work – the people are fantastic and I feel completely at ease with the job itself. It’s a steep learning curve, even after four years of school, but they’re being patient and understanding with me and are willing to help. It’s wonderful and I’m grateful for the opportunity I’ve been given.

The flip side of that is that my anxiety is being a super monster once again. I find myself panicking every time something goes wrong or I make a mistake or I have to answer a question – like if I’m not perfect I’ll lose this wonderfully amazing job that I love so much. Rationally, I can see that this is absurd. They wouldn’t keep giving me work and they wouldn’t tell me I’m doing well if I wasn’t. But mental illness is nothing if not irrational, and whatever energy I don’t spend on doing my actual job, I spend on keeping my brain in check at all times. It’s exhausting.

So exhausting, in fact, that I curl up in bed at 7:30 most nights and start to prepare my brain for sleep. It usually takes a few hours to actually fall asleep, but let’s just say my spoon levels are low enough that I don’t have the energy to sit up or socialize most days. The days that I -do- socialize, I take four times as long to recover from.

On top of this, the health issues continue to multiply. When I had my ultrasound to check for my Mirena, apparently they found a polyp on my uterus that needs to be removed. I don’t know when this will be (our hospitals here schedule things and then send you a letter to let you know when they’ve scheduled them) but that will be delightful, I’m sure. On top of that, I had to go in for some blood tests last week – the new specialist thinks I might have PCOS in addition to or instead of endometriosis. I’ve been tested for PCOS before and it came back negative, but I’d rather let this doctor do what he needs to in order to find some answers. I’m tired of feeling like utter garbage all the time.

Right now, I’m feeling the effects of my depression the hardest. I don’t know why I’m sad, and I’m not feeling actively sad, but rather just… empty. Nothing looks fun, nothing feels good, and I just kinda want to curl up in a ball in a soundproof box until I figure things out. The worst part is that I’m no longer seeing a therapist (she saw me on one of my “good” days and decided that I’m perfectly capable of handling this on my own and basically said that I don’t need therapy anymore) and I’m down to the last few pills of my medication. I’m terrified of trying to go into a clinic and get more meds because they might give me a hard time (the last one did, and made me feel awful about the whole situation) and so I’m just taking lower doses trying to make it last. Not good, I know, but sometimes my well-being suffers for the sake of my anxiety. It’s just a vicious circle, and I need a medical support system that is going to be there when I need it and actually listen.

In a nutshell, things are… mediocre. All of the good things are basically cancelled out by the bad things and I’m left with an empty feeling and anxiety. I’m not sure how much longer I can stay afloat, but I’m mostly just trying not to drown. We’ll see what happens, I guess.

Spoonless

Have you heard of the Spoon Theory? If not, you should read it. It’s a fascinating way to explain chronic illness or fatigue to someone who has never had to deal with it. It’s my go-to explanation, and I find it really helps. Of course, because I’ve been able to adopt this theory to explain my life, I’ve come to consider my low-energy days as “low spoon” days, and my friends all know that this is the easiest way to ask how I’m doing. “How are your spoons today?” or “Did you replenish your spoons with your nap earlier?” are some of the things I hear on a regular basis.

I went to the mental health clinic today and had a good cry or ten. (Hint: ten.) It was very intense, especially for a first appointment, but I’m glad I went. The therapist talked to me about some of the things that I’ve never really gotten to talk in depth about (things about my past, my family, and why I am the way that I am), as well as talking about the effects of endometriosis and anxiety on my energy levels and overall mental health.

I learned today that my immediate reactions to a lot of things in my life are not the appropriate reactions. Instead of giving myself a bit of room to relax and sleep and rest when I’m having a “low spoon day”, I instead berate myself (either mentally or sometimes out loud) for being “lazy” and spending my time wrong, or even for not being able to just do things like other people can.

The reality is that I’m almost always in pain, and I’m usually running on empty as far as energy is concerned. I’ve been fortunate enough to have built up a tolerance to a lot of my pain, and I don’t feel anything as much when I’m resting. However, when I’m out and about and doing things, I usually collapse at the end of the day, unable to do anything else.

This makes life harder for me than it is for a lot of people. I have to measure out my activities very carefully – if I walk the extra half mile to the ferry instead of taking the bus, I might not be able to cook dinner. If I socialize or game for long periods of time, I might only be able to do the bare minimum of activities the next day. It’s weird – it’s like when someone has no money (and believe me, I’ve been there lately!) and has to budget out their pennies. Except it’s just day-to-day activities that I’m budgeting for, and I’m budgeting a very limited supply of energy.

Over the next little bit, I’ll be spending a lot of time trying to balance these things. I start a new job on Monday (more on that later, once I’m more comfortable and feel more secure in it – anxiety is being a jerk right now and I don’t want to count my chickens too early!) and I’ll probably come home, eat, and sleep, for at least the first couple of weeks. But on top of that, I’ll be actively monitoring my thoughts – this will take a lot of energy, but I wonder if I wouldn’t feel better more often if I didn’t beat myself up constantly over things that I can’t really control?

An unfortunate decision

I had to make a very tough decision today. After four long years at university, I won’t be walking at the commencement ceremony, and will instead be graduating in absentia.

I received a voicemail this morning informing me that my ultrasound was scheduled for Friday at 3:00… The same time as graduation.

I had to make a choice – either reschedule the ultrasound and hope it didn’t take too long to get a new appointment, or graduate in absentia. With the uncertainty of the near future (potential new job, medical appointments, things like that) I decided it wasn’t worth the risk that it would cross with my interview or take a lot longer, since I need to know about my mirena sooner rather than later.

It’s almost poetic: after missing so much class due to health issues, it figures that I would miss out on graduation due to medical reasons. I just hope I made the right choice.

Nobody warns you of the evils of the dressing room…

I needed to see the above image today. I’ve been stressing about my body for years, but today was a particularly bad day for it, and I needed to remember that it’s worth loving, even if it isn’t perfect.

See, I went to try and find some clothes today for interviews and work situations, since my professional wardrobe has dwindled over the past few years while I’ve been in university. (A mix of not having the need for a ton of professional clothes and not having the money to buy quality professional clothes, really.)

Unfortunately, the two dresses I tried on made me look enormous. I felt miserable and upset, and I do this a lot. Sadly, I can’t do much about my weight at this point in time. I eat as healthful as I can, but the ability to “work out” isn’t there – the chronic pain and fatigue keep me inside and sitting for most of my life.

That’s not to make excuses, of course. I know that I can push through from time to time and do more than I currently do, but it’s not easy. Once I get a job, it’ll be easier since I’ll be walking there daily – the job I want (and have an interview for next week!) is within walking/ferry distance, which is fantastic.

Do you ever have days where you are completely unsettled in the way that you look and feel? How do you get past them?

Health Update

Doctor's Office (Tools of The Trade)

I’ve been debating writing a post about this for ages, and every time I start I stop again. However, a good friend reminded me that I’ve read countless blog entries and articles and things about the same things that I’m going through, so it can’t hurt to be honest here and potentially help someone else along.

That said, if you have trouble talking about the female reproductive system, you should probably skip this entry.

I’ve written before about the fact that I may have endometriosis, but that there’s no guarantee and no specific treatment. What I haven’t written is an update about what I’m going through and how things are working out.

In short, they’re not going so great. Before I get started though, let me explain about endometriosis. It’s not something that gets talked about often (and even appears to not be an actual word, according to WordPress!).

Endometriosis is the growth of tissue, similar to the kind that lines a woman’s uterus, elsewhere in her body. That ‘elsewhere’ is usually in the abdomen. This misplaced tissue responds to the menstrual cycle in the same way that the tissue lining the uterus does: each month the tissue builds up, breaks down and sheds. Menstrual blood from the uterus flows out of the body through the vagina; however, the blood and tissue from endometriosis has no way of leaving the body. This results in inflammation and sometimes scarring (adhesions), both of which can cause the painful symptoms of endometriosis and may contribute to difficulty getting pregnant.

From here.

Every person experiences endo differently, too, but the biggest factor is ridiculous amounts of unexplained pain. This is different than what a woman “normally” goes through during her period – for me, I’m in pain just about every day, all day. I’m stingy with painkillers, but they only reduce the pain down to a dull ache anyway. If I don’t have to be anywhere, I’m curled up with a heating pad or my heated blanket, or lying in a hot bath. I can’t function like a human being.

Now that the explanation is out of the way, let’s talk about my most recent doctor experience. It was different than any other experience I’ve had, in that the doctor started talking about options and seriously considering treatment. She told me that I’m basically a textbook case, but the only way to diagnose endo is through laparoscopic surgery (which I knew). However, she also wanted to do a few more tests.

She performed a biopsy on my uterus to make sure that the cells there aren’t abnormal – she said it’s unlikely but she wants to rule that out. However, what she found out at that point was almost more disturbing than the fact that I needed a biopsy to begin with: my Mirena has gone missing. I’m not pregnant (thank goodness) but they were completely unable to find the device, or at least the part of the device that is usually visible during an exam.

The consensus is that it may have fallen out, and I wouldn’t have noticed because I’m in so much pain and dealing with what I am. However, since we don’t know for sure, the doctor is scheduling me for an ultrasound (again) and an X-ray to make sure that it hasn’t migrated. One thing that I learned at the last ultrasound, after having the Mirena inserted, is that my uterus is tipped, which can cause complications more frequently with the Mirena (or so I’ve read).

In addition to the biopsy, the X-ray, and the ultrasound, the doctor has referred me to an endocrine and reproductive specialist. She said that he’ll be able to do a better job of diagnosing me since he’s a specialist, and he’ll also be able to help see me straight through to any reproductive problems I might have in the future (since this is a tricky disease to manage, and it often causes fertility troubles). So I’ve got a referral in to see him, though I don’t know when, and I’ve got a request for blood work to be done next month to check hormone levels and things like that. In theory, he’ll do the surgery (the laparoscopy and excision of anything that he finds while he’s in there) and I’ll be treated for a while – there is no cure, so this is the best that I can hope for.

Am I scared? Terrified. I’ve read a lot of blogs and articles lately, like I said, and I’ve found comfort in getting as much information about this tricky disease as I possibly could. I know what the surgery looks like (even watched a surgeon’s camera video of it from the inside) and what they’re going to do, and what the scars look like after, and how to handle recovery. I get it. I understand it. (I process things through research and learning as much as I possibly can so that I’m not caught in the headlights.) But I’m still scared.

Mostly, I’m full of what Mark calls my “what ifs”:

  • What if they can’t find anything during the laparoscopy?
  • What if they can’t find the Mirena?
  • What if they do find something during the laparoscopy, and can’t or won’t remove it all?
  • What if something happens during the surgery?
  • What if the biopsy comes back abnormal?
  • What if I have a job by the time all of my referrals go through? How do I get time off of a new job to recover from surgery for at least a week and go to all of these appointments?

…and on, and on, and on. My brain is a questioning sort of brain, and I generally handle them. It’s just a bit on overload right now. Here’s hoping it all gets taken care of soon – I want to move on!

I’m like a child sometimes…

Couldn't resist it!

I’m excited for my birthday. I honestly get as excited for it every year as I did when I was a child – even though pretty much nobody my age looks forward to getting older.

I think it’s the fact that I spend a lot of time with friends and family (or what serves as family since my biological family is soooo far away right now) around my birthday, and I see no sense in missing out on that just because I’m nearly into my 30s.

This is going to be a very busy week, though – the next few days are absolutely packed with things to do and people to see!

Oops.

I was reading in bed tonight and dropped my kindle square on my nose. No joke. How clumsy can one person be? Now I’m “enjoying” a wonderful 3am migraine and dreading facing tomorrow with not enough sleep.

I haven’t blogged in a while. The depression caught up with me and I barely stayed afloat and passed my classes. Luckily I am going to be graduating soon – I survived the most awful semester and came out on top.

I turn 29 in less than a week, too. Lots of things have been happening that I can’t really talk about just yet, but suffice it to say that the universe has decided that I can’t have nice things in my life unless I suffer greatly for them, and I’m paying the price.

I’m hoping to get back to writing about my life, and hope all is well to the few people who might still read this from time to time. Things have to start looking up soon!