Accidental Hiatus/Life Update

Wow! The last month has been absolutely crazy!

Some good stuff happened, some not so good stuff happened and it resulted in me abandoning the blog and WordPress in general for about a month. Oops! I’m working on some more comprehensive content but in the meantime, here’s what’s been going on to account for my absence:

1. My husband got an awesome new job! 😁 The interview process was long and stressful, but it’s a great position and he’s so happy there. The last two weeks at his previous job (call center) were grueling, but I helped him through it and now he goes off cheerfully in the morning and comes home feeling he’s put in a good day of work. It makes me so happy to see him satisfied with his work life for the first time in a long time. It’s also taken a lot of financial pressure off of us. We’re not rich by any means, but we know we can pay all our bills each month, which is obviously an enormous relief after struggling for the last few years.

Is this relaxation I feel? What even is that?

2. WE GOT A KITTY! 😻 We adopted Sassy from the Humane Society a little over two weeks ago and I’ve already gone full Cat-Mom. Chris and I both grew up with animals and not having one the last 6+ years has been hard, so when we finally went to the shelter we were totally stoked. To get an idea of what kind of cat owners we are, Chris calls her our “Cat Baby” (yes, we’re those people).

We believe Sassy is some sort of Himalayan-Snowshoe mix. She’s a gorgeous, petite 7.5 pound lady with a HUGE personality! She’s only 2 years old so she has a ton of energy and quite a few kitten tendencies still. I play with her off and on throughout the mornings until she inevitably exhausts herself and collapses in a heap for a 5 hour nap in the afternoon. She’s very loving and isn’t afraid to ask for attention when she wants it. Put simply: she’s a fuzzy little diva who’s already brought so much joy into our home.

3. Lastly, the not so good stuff. I got a nasty head cold three weeks ago, that turned into a chest cold two weeks ago, that turned into a full on asthma flare last week (the first in more than 5 years). I’ve struggled with asthma off and on since I was a little kid. I haven’t written about it on here since I had it under control for so long, but technically speaking it’s the first chronic condition I was ever diagnosed with. At some point, I think I’ll do a separate, more in depth blog post about my experience with asthma. For now, the short of what happened last week is that I went in to the doctor, got a chest X-ray and came home with an inhaler and a 6 day course of corticosteroids. I’m starting to feel better now, but I’ll be on albuterol several times a day for the foreseeable future. Because, you know, breathing is good.

I’ll be working to generate more content soon. In the meantime, Sassy is knocking everything off the bathroom counter which means it’s playtime. Duty calls.

Mind VS Body

My mind and body aren’t always on the same page. I frequently find myself in the position of wanting to go out and do something, but my body won’t let me. When I’m in an IBS or endometriosis flare, I’m very limited in what I am physically able to do. This means I get stuck at home a lot because I need to be near a bathroom or am unable to get out of bed due to intense pain. At times, this leads me to feel that there is a disconnect between my conscious and physical self, (even though I understand that they are integral to each other).

I’m very much a “Type A” personality; I like to keep busy and get bored easily. I love working, even if it’s just a dull secretarial position. I find the act of doing a job, of feeling useful, very fulfilling. Before leaving my job 10 months ago, I was the primary breadwinner – a 20-something just starting a career in higher education. It was an administrative position, nothing too exciting, but I loved working with students. I even began to think about going back to school to get my Master’s to teach adult learners. But, naturally that’s all on hold at the moment. It’s extremely difficult for me to work in a physical office right now since my symptoms are so unpredictable and debilitating, and going back to school when things are so uncertain feels like I would be setting myself up for failure. I’m trying to figure out a work around, but no solutions yet.

Even making simple plans is difficult. I might make plans to go on a hike over the weekend and get blindsided with a flare up. I have to hit the pause button on life and resign myself to a stint on the couch instead. It’s so incredibly frustrating to want to do all these things and come up against road block after road block. On the flip side, I don’t want to put myself in a position of doing too much and making myself sicker (I’ve done this before and it wasn’t worth it).

Often, I feel like my mind and body are completely separate entities constantly at war with one another. It’s difficult to explain, but I feel a sort of dissociation from my own body; that it’s not really mine and there’s been some sort of mistake. This feeling of dissociation is most powerful during an endometriosis flare. The worst symptoms take place during the first 1-3 days of my period. That may not sound like much, but these flares are literally crippling (and keep in mind that these occur in between several IBS flares a month and other endo related symptoms as well).

I experience an excruciating pain that radiates throughout my abdomen and up through my back. The pain manifests as an intense cramping punctuated with a stabbing sensation that lasts anywhere from 12 to 24 hours at a time. Medication doesn’t even touch it, so I don’t bother taking anything anymore; Ibuprofen and Tylenol mess up my stomach anyway. The pain is so intense, I can barely walk, and occasionally it even makes me vomit.

It’s during these types of episodes that my consciousness feels so detached from my physical self. I want to shed my body, much as the snake sheds its’ skin, and start fresh. My husband and I joke about the advancement of android technology; I’d totally go for a robot-body if that was an option.

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I get so frustrated with my situation at times – I control what I can, but ultimately I can’t control everything my body does. I see my doctors regularly, I exercise, I eat right, I do everything I possibly can to improve my health. But even that doesn’t diminish the sense of futility that goes along with having a chronic condition.

I started meditating about two weeks ago; I’m trying to let go of my instinct to control everything all the time (easier said than done). I think it’s helping, but it’s still too soon to tell. I’m not at all a religious person, but I’ve been re-reading some of the Buddhist texts I studied in college. The discussions of consciousness, self-reliance and detaching oneself from suffering resonate deeply and bring me comfort. I do try to be thankful for my body; I wouldn’t be here without it after all and I have had a lot of wonderful experiences in my life. Some days, it’s difficult to feel grateful for a body that causes me so much physical distress and I may always struggle with feelings of dissonance and dissociation.

It’s a process.

I do my best and keep going.

 

“Be Prepared”

I joined the Girl Scouts in first grade. A handful of girls in my class were part of a Brownie troop that met at our elementary school in Northeast Portland.

Meticulous and anal retentive since birth, I enjoyed the structured activities, progressive badge earning and, most importantly, the uniform. I selected a fine ensemble of chocolate high-waisted shorts, a blue collared shirt with floral vest and knee-high socks with coordinating blue tassels: I embodied the pinnacle of 1990s Girl Scout fashion.

I was always excited for meetings because it meant I got to wear my uniform to school since we met in the music room after classes had concluded. I felt on top of the world on those days – strutting around the playground with an unearned sense of confidence and authority, taking care not to dirty my Brownie duds.

I looked good and I knew it.

Alas, the dream didn’t last long. After the first year, one of the moms went on a power trip and instigated a hostile takeover of the troop. Scouts wasn’t fun anymore after she became troop leader; all she cared about were cookie sales and making sure her kid sold more than anyone else. And naturally all the other moms hated her. Pretty soon, we all dropped off one by one until there was no one left and the troop was disbanded. My precious uniform moved to the back of the closet and my scouting days were done for good.

I may have only been a Brownie for a year, but I never forgot the Girl Scouts’ motto: “Be Prepared”. This modicum proved instrumental when I started having health problems, particularly when I was still working. I never know when I’m going to flare up or where, so I always carry these essentials whenever I leave the house:

1. Anti-Nausea medication

2. Anti-Cramping medication (i.e. Levbid)

3. A Luna bar or a bag of Rice Chex or Pretzels

4. Maxi Pads

5. Flushable Wet Wipes (or as my husband calls them “Butt Wipes”)

6. A spare pair of underwear (mercifully, I’ve never had to use them, but I’ve had several close calls – nothing is more terrifying or humbling than knowing that as a full grown adult, there’s a real possibility of having an accident in a public place)

I never know how bad a flare might be or if it will take me by surprise, but thanks to the Girl Scouts of America I will always be prepared.

IMG_3145.pngAll the essentials, AKA, my “Go Kit”