Monday, December 29, 2014

Inevitable Fear

The last thing I feel like doing right now is writing. But my mind is tangled in thoughts and theories and worries and this is how I get them out. I've said before at the beginning of writing this blog that I usually figure out how I'm feeling after I read what I've wrote. Right now, I know what I feel. I just feel the need to get it out of my head and into words. I'm scared.

While I was living it, the past year seemed dull and easy enough to deal with. Looking back, I see how overwhelmed and stressed I've been. I'm the kind of person who will hold every little thing in until one day, every few months or so, I just crack. There's always a build up. Then, there's the downfall. I am in the midst of that downfall and I can't see the light at the end of the tunnel like I usually can. I don't often tell people who are close to me how emotionally challenging it is to live the life I'm living. My life appears to be simple and easy to most people from what I gather. Until you are living it, you can't begin to understand the unbelievable amount of stress and guilt that overwhelms me. Over the past year I've experienced pain so intense it was like that of a pregnant woman's labour pains, the feeling of my bones grinding together as if they were turning into dust as I walk, the tingling and inflammed sensations of my muscles cramping, aching and hurting, the effects of insomnia that make you feel as if you're going  crazy from lack of restful sleep, the draining fatigue and terrifying quickened heart rate of anemia, the hormonal crap that is caused by endometriosis and a load of medications that were prescribed by five different doctors. On top of the phsyical, there lays a grave full of emotional symptoms to long to list. 

I know this blog is supposed to be a place you can feel some encouragement, but it's also a place that I have vowed to be honest. I'm scared of what the future holds. I've realized that I spend so much time dreaming up this amazing and wonderful future life in my head. I'm pursuing the degree I want to have the job I've come to desire. I'm passionate and determined to get this life that I may never be able to actually participate in. Dreaming up a fantasy like that is a huge distraction. I can't decide whether it will do more harm or good. I'm glad I can picture myself living a life full of everything I desire but on the other hand, it terrifies me to know that I may never get to have even a little of that picturesque life. 

I've decided that after the new year, I'm going to figure myself out. I need to accept that my body cannot do what I need it to do right now. I can't do the things I want to be able to do. The fear of seeing unknown doctors who will poke and prode at me is staring me in the face. The fear of having a camera shoved down my throat and into my stomach is inevitable. The bloodtests, the needles, the endless questions, the medications, the pain. How can I not be scared? You learn to live with the pain because you have to, but you don't always learn to deal with your emotions. The thing about emotions is you can never fully figure them out, they're always changing. I can only hope that I can find some inner peace to get through this rough patch.

Thursday, December 25, 2014

Vacations, Medications + Christmas

Christmas has always been one of my favourite days of the year. The combination of excited anticipation, pretty lights, presents under the tree, warm drinks and endless amounts of food just makes me happy. As some of you have already read, I decided to go on a little trip this year before Christmas. It sounded like a nice way to relax and have fun with some friends in time for the holidays. My trip really was wonderful. We stayed at a beautiful resort with the most friendly staff and amazing views. There was so many options of things to do and places to go. I checked some things off of my mile-long bucket list like snorkelling, swimming with dolphins and visiting the Caribbean! Overall, I loved Cayo Coco and had a very nice time.

Although I managed to participate in new and exciting happenings and have a great time, that did not eliminate the often harsh reality of my life. If you have been keeping up with my blog, you will know that I have been suffering with mostly unexplained stomach pain for about two months now. It started shortly after I began an iron supplement called Proferrin. It started as small twinges of pain, spread to wide spread abdominal pain, then graduated to full-blown agonizing all over abdominal pain. The bad pain lasted for three days, then it petered off and only happened sporatically. Knowing that I would be leaving the country, I got checked out at the hospital to make sure I would be okay to travel and that nothing was going seriously wrong. The ultrasound was fine and I was told that my stomach was producing excess stomach acid. Which I've now learned is known as 'Zollinger Ellison Syndrome'. Antacids were prescribed and I was told that there was a large possibility that the acid had caused a peptic ulcer in my stomach.

Equipped with new meds and slight knowledge of what was going on inside of my body, I excitedly flew to Cuba, ready for a crazy week of fun in the sun. My stomach pain was well maintained for the first couple of days but on the second night, I made the mistake of enjoying a few drinks. You'd think with all inclusive drinks on vacation, having a couple wouldn't be a mistake. But trust me, this had to be one of the worst mistakes I've made in my life. I woke up the next morning to my abdomen in severe pain. It was  an intense squeezing and burning feeling deep in my stomach, low in my pelvic region and high under my ribs. After tecta, zantac, gravol and about a gallon of water I finally managed to get out of bed. This wouldn't be nearly as troubling if I were within the comfort of my own home, in my own bed, with my own bathroom near by and not on vacation sharing a room with friends.

After that whole episode of pain, I went about the day the best I could. Although I avoided alcohol from that point on. Then a new little symptom decided to surface. For some reason my stomach decided that it should torture me by putting myself into an agonized state about 15-30 minutes after I ate or drank anything other than bottled water. This is still continuing now, 5 days later. I started out assuming that this pain was from an ulcer, but this is not a symptom of having an ulcer. That doesn't mean it isn't related but it's a little confusing. 

Like I said, I managed to have a great trip through the pain. But now that I'm home, I'm more ready than ever to figure out exactly what is going on within my body. And that is going to be my biggest goal this new year. I'm foreseeing many hospital visits, doctors offices, needles and tests in my future. The theme of my blog is brutal honesty, so here it goes. I love the Christmas season and I would love to be that person who has a great vacation, no complaints and is fully positive and happy the majority of the time but this isn't always the reality. On this Christmas day I am beyond grateful but I'm also discouraged, hurting and nervous. A happy circumstance doesn't negate the harsh things. But I will keep focusing on the little things and they joy that they bring because life goes on whether we're ready for it or not.

Sunday, December 14, 2014

Vacation Prep + Vertigo

It's been a long few days and things have been busy! I spent all day at work Friday and left town Saturday morning for Christmas shopping and a surprise party and then back home this morning. I'm leaving the day after tomorrow to head to Cuba for a relaxing week. In three days time I'll be on the beach, in the sun, sippin' on a Pina Colada. Needless to say, I'm more than excited.

One of the things that sucks the most about dealing with chronic illness is the new symptoms that begin to develop. You never know when you might wake up with a new symptom that you don't understand. I had an exhausting few days with not much sleep and continuous stomach pain from stomach acid and a peptic ulcer. This morning , the plan was to wake up early, pack up the van and head back home (I was out of town for the night). I woke up and turned off my alarm, fell back asleep and when I woke up later I felt completely awful. I stood up and was so unbalanced that I fell over. My head was spinning and felt heavy. It was a major case of vertigo, which I have never experienced before. I've been dizzy before but this was taking it to a whole new level. Vertigo is something I've inherited from my mother and grandmother, they have both suffered with it seriously for years on and off. Even to the point on having their licence taken away because the vertigo gets so intense that it's like driving drunk. Feeling that way really scared me and I'm hoping it isn't something that starts to occur regularly.

After about half an hour it began to go away but I had a headache for the rest of the day and felt completely exhausted and out of it. It's frustrating for me to feel so sick right before my big trip to Cuba. I'll be praying and hoping that I feel great for my week away. I am more than ready to drop all my worries, responsibilities and insecurites for a week and just have fun! I'm hoping I'll have the chance to do some new things, for example, SNORKELLING! 

Last night while I was trying to fall asleep I began thinking about things that I could do to make my life more enjoyable in the new year. They are not resolutions but more like goals and guidelines. I find that when I take the time to write out and reflect on my goals, I am more likely to acheive them or get on that path. I'm not going to share my goals with you just yet. I want to take some more time to think about them until after Christmas. But I'd like to encourage you all to take some time to reflect on yourself this holiday season. I've realized that I need to not only evaluate the things that I do in life like work, hobbies, etc. but who I am and my attitude. It's important to evaluate your own attitude and what is important to you. I hope you all will make some goals/guidelines for the new year as well! :)

I have a lot to do tonight and tomorrow and I'm leaving bright and early Tuesday morning, so I will not have time to post anything. So, I hope you all have a wonderful week and begin to feel Christmas-y and full of love! I am planning on reading and writing A LOT while I'm in Cuba but I'll be taking an internet break as well, so nothing will be posted until I come home. Until Next Time --- HAVE A HAPPY AND WONDERFUL CHRISTMAS! 

Friday, December 12, 2014

If I'm going to be a mess, I may as well be a hot-mess

First of all, I need to apologize that it's been two whole days since I have posted. So sorry! It's been a crazy couple of days. Including resting up after the hospital (catching up on sleep) and rushing back to the hospital yesterday (for my little sister, not myself). But anyway, I'm here now!

One thing that I've always found amusing is that when someone finds out that you have an illness or autoimmune disease and they say, "But you don't look sick." But let me just quote Mindy Kahling here by saying,

"If I'm going to be a mess, I may as well be a hot-mess." - Mindy Kahling

Pause for a second, just so I can tell you that I literally just right now spilled coffee onto my eye. Seriously, how do these things happen?! At least I have now discovered, that coffee works as a great makeup remover. Like I said -- HOT MESS. 

But getting back to what I earlier said about people telling me that I don't look sick -- I really never know how to react to that statement. It's like, are you accusing me of not being sick because I don't look sick or are you complimenting me that I can still manage to look like a normal human being even though I am sick? It's just confusing and I never know how to react. Another thing I get a lot, more so from close friends and family is, "If you feel so bad all the time, why do you put effort into stuff like getting all dressed up and doing your hair and makeup?" Want an answer? Yeah, I feel like crap most of the time. Yeah, I'm exhausted. Yeah, I could be doing other things with my time, like getting an extra half hour of sleep or whatever else. But to me, looking nice is something that gives my life a little more normality. It's something that gives me more routine and makes me feel normal. When you're sick you spend a lot of time in sweatpants without makeup or your hair done. So when you get the chance to get out of the house, you usually try to make it worth your while. 

I wear makeup for myself. I style my hair for myself. Just because my body is sick, doesn't mean I need to surrender to the exhaustion and under-eye dark circles. One of my favourite quotes kind of sums this all up. Here it is,

"I got dressed this morning for myself. Put on eyeliner for myself. Put on my favourite red lipstick for myself. Showed a bit of skin for myself. I wanted to be beautiful for myself."

Thanks for checking out the blog today! And thank you to all those who have been following from the beginning. I am so thankful for all of you! And I hope everyone has an amazing Christmas Holiday! I will be updating and posting until Monday. But I am leaving for my wonderful Cuba vacation on Tuesday -- So I'll be MIA for one week. Have a great day, everyone!

Wednesday, December 10, 2014

Feelin' Some Type Of Way

"Never apologize for being sensitive or emotional. It's a sign you have a big heart, and that you aren't afraid to let others see it. Showing your emotions is a sign of strength." 
- Brigitte Nicole

One thing that really frustrates me about our world is the belief that in order to be 'strong' or 'independent' you must be emotionally-distant and mysterious. I have been through periods in my life when I was emotionally wide-open and extremely naive. A lot of young girls believe that everyone comes with the best intentions and that every boy they meet, could be the right boy and that every friend they make will be loyal and will be the greatest friend ever for the rest of their life. In a way, I miss being that hopeful. I haven't lost that completely though. I understand that there are still wonderful people in life and that you never know who someone is and what purpose they are going to have in your life until you let them in. I went from being the open, trusting young girl to becoming a closed-off, walls-up, over-protectively-guarding-my-heart kind of young women. Both of these situations caused me a lot of grief and a lot of heartache.

I grew up hearing the phrase, 'guard your heart'. It was never something I really took seriously or understood until later in life. Even when I thought I began to understand what it meant, I may have taken it a little too seriously. When you continually get hurt by people that you trust, it makes you hold your emotions closer and put those walls up and begin to guard your heart. Over the last year, I have come to realize that guarding your heart too protectively can cause more harm than good. It causes you to feel like no one is every going to understand the way you feel, it makes you feel like you will be judged for your emotions and the things you are sensitive about.

I'm sick of feeling like if I say what I am feeling, I will be judged. Being able to express how you feel is important and it's also important to share that with the people you love and the people close to you. I am making a goal to begin to share more of my feelings with those that are close to me, even when I maybe feel guilty, embarrassed or ashamed of how I feel because expressing yourself and being open and honest does not mean you are weak, it means that you are strong enough to take care of yourself. You are strong enough to know what you want and you realize that taking care of your mental health is just as important as taking care of your physical health.

"Being tender and open is beautiful. As a woman, I feel continually shhh'ed. Too sensitive. Too mushy. Too wishy-washy. Blah blah. Don't let someone steal your tenderness. Don't allow the coldness and fear of others to tarnish your perfectly vulnerable beating heart. Nothing is more valuable than allowing yourself to be truly affected by things. Whether its a song, a stranger, a mountain, a rain drop, a tea kettle, an article, a sentence, a footstep, feel it all -- look around you. All of this is for you. Take it and have gratitude. Give it and feel love." - Zooey Deschanel

Tuesday, December 9, 2014

Hospitals Suck

Late blog post!! Due to the fact that I am currently in a hospital bed and just had a large needle taken out of my arm-- this blog post is going to be a late one. I woke up thinking today was going to be a good day. The beginning was good. I went christmas shopping and got some new clothes to take on vacation. Once I got home I started to feel bad. Really fatigued like I had overdone it. Back story: I've been having unusual stomach pains for a couple weeks now and they had subsided, now they're back. These pains are getting more intense and inflamed. Normally I would wait it out and just go back to the doctor but this kind of pain is making me nervous. And one thing I've learned from being chronically ill is that it's best not to wait when your health lies in the balance. Also, I'm leaving the country next week and if I'm in agony while in Cuba -- I will be one unhappy lady. 

Anyway, I just had blood taken (a lot of it) which is kind of terrible for my Anemia (low iron) and makes me feel really lightheaded every time. My feet are frozen cause this hospital is so darn cold. My stomach is going nuts and feels like there's a tiny ball of fire with little legs running up and down and all around my abdomen. Sounds fun, doesn't it? ;) And to top it off, I get to be here all by my lonesome. 

Honestly, I don't know what the real purpose of this post is. I'm just sitting here, passing the time away by typing this out on my phone and hoping that the doctor will come in soon and figure out what the heck is going on inside of me. 

Being sick is annoying because it interrupts your life constantly. You'll make plans and have to cancel last minute because you're suddenly in pain. You'll be at work then out of nowhere you lose your focus and get a drilling migrane. You'll be at home enjoying a netflix marathon in your comfies when you get a pain that makes you literally fear for your life. Being sick is just as emotionally painful as it is physically. On the way to the hospital tonight, I cried. I don't cry a lot. I don't really even understand why. Yes, I'm in pain but I didn't feel like that was why I was crying. Maybe because I knew that soon I would be sitting in the hospital alone. Maybe because I knew I would have a giant needle shoved into my veins soon. Maybe it was because I don't understand why God chose this life for me. 

This life is the one I have been given and I am grateful for it. But I often wonder what purpose God has in me living this way. I hope it's so I can step out of my comfort zone and help others get the help and support that they need.

Monday, December 8, 2014

I don't know about you.. but I'm feelin' 72

It's funny how I can more closely relate to the life of a seventy year old than someone my own age (I'm twenty one). When I walk up the stairs my knees pop, my back aches and my ankles snap. My parents always say they can tell when it's me coming up the stairs because you can hear me before you see me.

One thing people don't understand about Rheumatoid Arthritis is the difference between Rheumatoid and Osteo Arthritis. Osteo Arthritis develops because of wear and tear on the bones over the years and Rheumatoid Arthritis is completely different. Rheumatoid Arthritis is an Autoimmune disease. Autoimmune disease is a disease resulting from a disordered immune reaction in which antibodies are produced against one's own tissues. Pretty much, when someone has autoimmune disease, they have an antibody in their blood that causes their immune systems to work differently than it should. For example, if I am exposed to a certain bacteria or viral sickness, instead of my immune systems fighting it off, it gets sick. This antibody causes the immune system to attack your own organs, tissues and bones. Making you more susceptible to viral infections and problems like lupus, rheumatoid arthritis, etc. 

I've been starting to learn more about RA for about a year now. I started having a lot of pain last year that was unexplained for a long time. This was/is a combination of RA and fibromyalgia (a syndrome characterized by fatigue and chronic pain in the muscles and in tissues surrounding the joints). Having these types of pain can be really freaky. At first, I tried to justify the pains by thinking 'maybe I ran into to something' or 'maybe there's a bruise there', then you start thinking, 'what if there's something wrong, like a torn muscle or a bone fracture?', then suddenly in the middle of intense pain, it stops. And you feel better for a while. Which makes the situation even weirder and harder to understand or explain.

I can be walking around and doing my thing, feeling fine and then out of nowhere it feels like someone shoved a giant screw under my knee cap. Because of this, I end up hobbling around like a little old lady. Sometime's the pain lasts for a couple hours, sometimes its half an hour, sometimes its a few days. But whatever it is, it always sucks and makes life a lot harder than it should be. 

Maybe this post hasn't been very humorous or entertaining but I recently talked to someone who was really frustrated about people not understanding how different RA is from other types of arthritis. I always get comments like, "Oh my grandma has that and she just takes tylenol and she feels fine". More likely, your grandma has Osteoarthiritis, which 50% of people over the age of 50 develop. RA is not something to mess around with and wait to get a disagnosis for. Many people who suffer from RA need surgeries such as shoulder and hip replacements. It is a serious disease that can affect people at any age and change their lives dramatically. Please, if you think you or someone you love may be experiencing RA, pursue further information. Get your tests done and figure out what may be wrong. I wouldn't wish RA upon anyone; it's one of the hardest things that I have to deal with in my life.

Sunday, December 7, 2014

Hi my name is Buddy the Elf and I suffer from Obsessive Christmas Disorder

It's days like this where I feel the most grateful for my love of writing. I have been awake for only forty minutes and already I am furious at myself. But at the same time, I know that I'm not really at fault. Feeling compromised is a common emotion for me. Whether I am compromised about going out or staying in or even sleeping in to feel better or waking up early to be productive. It's often a feeling that is very present in my life.

You know how theres those two types of people when it comes to Christmas time? The one who dreads seeing those first decorations go up and hearing Christmas music.. And the other extreme, which is basically the equivalent of Buddy the Elf. I am absolutely, without a doubt, Buddy the Elf. I love all things Christmas. I adore the first snow fall and the excitement it brings, the twinkling lights strung up all down main street, when the Christmas tree goes up and I come up in the middle of the night to pee and I automatically feel happy just looking at it. I have always been enamored by Christmas. It always seems like the most joyful time, full of so much love and excitement. 

Last year, I had a really wonderful Christmas Break. I had the chance to visit my Best Friend's in the entire world for a few days of carefree-doing-whatever-the-heck-we-wanted free time. I did end up getting stuck in the midst of the big Toronto icestorm of 2013, but I eventually made my way to Peterborough for our annual Christmas Eve party with family and headed back to Bracebridge that night so I could be home for Christmas. It was a busy time but it was one of my best holidays yet. I'm hoping this year will be the same. It was all supposed to start today. Yes, I said supposed to.

I've grown up going to the annual Santa Clause Parade every year. I don't think I've ever missed a year. I love seeing everyone dressed up in elf costumes or as Santa Clause or even just bundled up and ready to watch the parade go by. Hearing the carols, with a hot chocolate in hand surrounded by friends and family. I know I'm sounding cheesy and sentimental here, but that's kind of the point. I LOVE CHRISTMAS. I had planned this year to go to the parade with a group of friends, two of which had never been to a Christmas Parade before. This was planned at least a month in advance and I had been so excited for this day. That day is today. And where am I? In my living-room, sitting on the couch, wrapped in a blanket, drinking coffee while my friends and family are at the parade.

I woke up this morning out of a vivid dream, hearing someone call my name from upstairs.. I jumped out of bed and groggily opened my door and looked up the stairs (I live in the basement) to see my lovely friend standing there wondering if I was ready to go to the parade. Here's the thing, I'm really not an unreliable person. Yesterday, I worked all day and finished at six. I got home and had dinner, helped prepare food for today's Christmas Dinner, set my alarm for the morning so I would wake up in time for the parade, and spent time with my family. For some reason, I completely slept through my alarm. Which is extremely unusual for me. I have been dealing with Insomnia since I was thirteen. I take hours to fall asleep and I am a very light sleeper. My alarm always wakes me up. Anyway, I slept through my alarm and woke up twenty minutes before the parade was about to start. I was unshowered, groggy and mad at myself.

A huge thing I deal with on an everyday basis is Chronic Fatigue. I'm sure, there are people who hear that and laugh it off as if I'm a ridiculous young women who is just tired, like the rest of the world. Trust me, I get it because I used to think the exact same way. I've learned the difference now between actual Fatigue and just being tired. When you are truly fatigued, everything is a massive chore. You don't know fatigue until you have to rest after taking a shower or you have to collapse on the couch after making a cup of tea. Chronic fatigue causes restless sleeps, muscle and joint pain, headache and migranes, problems concentrating or remembering things, sore throat and sometimes even flu-like symptoms. Honestly, you just feel like shit. It's how you feel after getting over a bad flu. You're still too weak to actually do anything but you're expected to get back to reality because you're not hurling anymore. Most of us Chronic Illness sufferers feel like this every damn day.

To sum this up.. Yes, I'm very disappointed that I didn't make it to the Santa Clause Parade today. And no, I'm not really at fault, but yes, I'm still annoyed with myself. I'm annoyed with my body and the way it functions. The thing is though, there's nothing I can do to change the facts of life. For me that is the fact that I have Chronic Illness and it's something I have accepted. That doesn't mean once in while I don't get upset that I can't do what I used to be able to do. I get upset often but I will not let it stop me from having a fulfilling life. I missed the Santa Clause Parade and that sucks but I'm still going to write my blog, drink my coffee, hop in the shower and enjoy Christmas Dinner with family and friends. Don't ever let anyone tell you that because your life isn't the picture perfect ideal lifestyle, that your life isn't important or beautiful. Even if you spend the majority of your day in bed feeling discouraged, you can still have a life full of love. Do not deprive yourself of that pleasure. We can live a life as full as anyone else in this world, we just learn to do it in a different way. We learn to appreciate the little things in life. Like the smell of coffee brewing or the ray of sun shining through our window. Embrace all that you can and love as much as possible.

Saturday, December 6, 2014

Suck it up, Buttercup

"Take your time and your talent and figure out what you have to contribute to this world. And get over what the hell your butt looks like in those jeans." - America Ferrera

I don't know if this is the case for all people with chronic illness but I have a hard time accepting the fact that my body just isn't the same as it used to be. And I mean the way I phsyically feel and also the way I look.

 Growing up, I was always the the tiny kid. In every situation. I weighed 60 pounds in grade seven and I was all bone and muscle. Gymnastics played a big role in that but when health issues began to present themselves it made my gymnastics career nearly impossible. I remember being in the gym, crying because I would do a cartwheel or handstand and fall right over. My wrists couldn't handle it anymore and they were in agony. The combination of wear and tear and what I later found out to be Rhematoid Arthritis and Fibromyalgia ended my gymnastic career when I was twelve. I had never played any other sport and gymnastics was the only thing I had ever felt confident in. Naturally, after quitting gymnatics and getting to the age of Puberty, I went through a lot changes in my body. I put on some weight and was a little more average sized. It took some getting used to but I was also happy about my newfound womanhood. 

Skipping ahead to highschool, Endometriosis began causing more and more pain and wreaking havoc on my life. I was doing terribly in school because of it, I missed more classes than I attended. I would be sick for a full week before my cycle, the entire week of my actual cycle I was bedridden and in and out of the ER, and for a week after I suffered from migranes and leg pain. So 3 weeks out of every month, I was in extreme pain. I was constantly fatigued, stressed and entered a period of depression as well. I didn't know how to deal with all of the issues I was having on top of the typical teenage girl issues like homework, boys and friend drama. Life felt so overwhelming. Eventually I got referred to a local Gynecologist who decided to take me on as a patient and officially diagnose me with 'Endometriosis'. Endometriosis can only be diagnosed through Laproscopic Surgery. At seventeen I underwent my first Laproscopy. *Endometriosis was confirmed and removed. It was found all over the back of my uterus, both of my ovaries and on the outside of my fallopian tubes. This surgery generally takes a maximum 2 hours, I was in surgery for 5. After surgery, I was put on a new type of Birth Control to regulate my cycles and control my pain (This was the third or fourth BC pill I had tried already). The combination of surgery and birth control was able to keep my pain in check and to a minimum amount for about two years. Although my symptoms were improving, I experienced a lot of emotional side effects. Since Birth Control pills are made up of hormones, I was an emotional mess. I was either over the top happy or utterly depressed. On top of this, I experienced unusual weight gain and the ladies upstairs gained about three cup sizes. I went from being a tiny, muscular rail of a child to a full blown curvacious woman with extra meat on my bones that I had no idea how to deal with.

I was never by any means overweight. Although, I felt unhealthy and heavy. This feeling hasn't left me over the past few years of my life. If anything, its gotten more prominent. It causes insecurity issues and self esteem problems, even though I hate to admit that. A lot of people use the reasoning that 'even though I don't always love the way my body looks, it can do so much and it is healthy and strong', it's hard for me to accept my body as is, because I can't really say the same thing about my body. My body is sick and it is not healthy. I could eat the healthiest diet in the world and exercise regularly but I still will never be a healthy person. Having Chronic Illness and Autoimmune disease makes that impossible. I strive to improve my health, knowing that it will never fully heal my illness but it may help me to feel better about myself and gain back the confidence I lost so many years ago.

These struggles have taught me so many things. I've learned that I do have a lot to contribute to this world; I just need to believe that I can do that and I need to have faith in my personal abilities. I can handle a lot of crappy things, but I now know that I don't take any crap that is unneccesary. I deal with enough crap already, therefore I don't need a negative and judgemental person in my life who doesn't respect me because of the way I live. I've discovered that I have a passion for letting peole know they are supported and loved. I have a passion for speaking my mind. I have a passion for doing my own thing, regardless of the opinions of others. I have passion for helping others be comfortable and happy with who they are.

Learn what you have to contribute to the world. Everyone has skills and abilities that are worth pursuing. You may not know what they are yet, but keep trying. Do things that make you feel happy and alive and you'll get there. Physical appearance can be a bummer to your positivity but remembering that life is about so much more than how you look is so important. I'll never be 100% happy with my body but I will always cherish the fact that I have one and that I have a wonderful life, filled with with wonderful people and wonderful experiences. And that is what really counts.

*Endometriosis - A condition resulting from the appearance of endometrial tissue outside the uterus. Basically what happens when a woman has endometriosis is endometrial tissue that is regulary found within the uterus somehow makes its way to other parts of the body. Generally it is found within the abdomen but has in some cases been found in the lungs, arm, nose and even the brain. The problem with Endometriosis is that when this endometrial tissue gets somewhere that it isn't supposed to be, it attaches itself to an organ, the walls of your abdomen, nerves or anything it feels like attaching itself to. During a woman's monthly cycle, this tissue begins to bleed/shed as it would if it were in the uterus. But because it is not in the uterus this bleeding causes internal bleeding, organ damage, sticking together or organs, lesions and scarring and often times very intense pain, it can even be known to cause infertility.*

Friday, December 5, 2014

Be cool lady, Daaamn

You know when life seems to be going really well but there's that nagging feeling that soon something is going to go so wrong and it's all going to snap? That's what happened to me this past week. 

I'm an online student and I am currently working part time. Over the last couple of months I've been making an effort to improve my health (for a variety of different reasons) and I feel like I've been doing really well maintaining that. I have a new-found love for yoga and cute gym clothes, which make it all the more exciting! The number of consecutive push-ups I can do in a row has gone up by eight, and that makes me feel accomplished. Even though it's the smallest, most unimportant thing.. it makes me excited! The combination of studying/school, work and exercise has had me really pumped (an upcoming vacation may have also played a part in that as well), then out of nowhere, it just crumbled. 

I'm not usually one to swear, but I will say this without hesitation -- Chronic Illness is a bitch. One minute you're feeling like you can conquer the world, you feel positive and productive, and you feel like things are just swell. Five seconds later (Seriously, this is how suddenly it can happen) you are laying on the ground, trying not to cry, poppin' pills and plugging in your heating pad.  It's like, 'Just be cool lady, damnnnn' (said quicky and sassily like they do in HIMYM).

I got a call on the weekend from the Doctor telling me I needed to make an appointment for Monday. Turns out, my Iron is still very low. A regular iron level is at 80 and mine is at 15. Last month it was 14, so there really hasn't been much improvement. You know you're sick when you look over test results with your doctor, and you end up laughing out loud together at how ridiculous and ironic your immune system is. On top of this low iron issue, I had been getting strange pains for the last couple of weeks that got increasingly more intense each day. On the day I went to the doctor's office, I was sitting in a chair clutching my abdomen and trying not to move a single muscle because any time I moved it felt as if my inside were being torn out of place. It was terrifying. For some dumb reason, Doc decided I had the flu (I didn't) and wouldn't send me for an ultrasound (He should have). I didn't eat anything but chicken noodle soup for three days. #SickieLife
After a couple days, the worst of the pain had subsided and then along came the dreaded Endometriosis pain. 

Endometriosis causes pain like no other for many woman. This is the kind of pain that has been compared to that of a pregnant woman's labor pains. That is the intensity of this pain. The only thing that gets me through (Other than ridiculously strong painkillers and copious amounts of whatever food I can eat without having to put effort into preparing it) is my heating pad. At this point in my life, if someone were to ask me what I could never live without, my answer would be "My Heating Pad". That baby has gotten me through some tough times. Ya feel me, endo-sisters?!

In total, those pains ended up lasting for almost an entire week. An entire week that I was too sick and in too much pain to study or do school, to attend work, to exercise, to spend time with friends, to shower, to prepare food.. Guilt is a huge part of having chronic illness and it might be impossible to understand that for some people who don't suffer this way. The one emotion I consistently feel is guilt. I know that making my well-being a priority is something I should be doing, and I'm finally learning that I don't really have a choice in the matter. I'm dedicating this year to my health. School is very important to me, as is being financially independent and so are my family and friends -- but at this time in my life I am getting more sick day by day. I am deciding to no longer feel guilty for taking care of myself.

Chronic Illness is a bitch.

I just like saying that.

Challenge & Growth

I was trying to decide what I wanted to write about today and nothing in particular came to mind. I grabbed one of my old journals and read through it. I found an entry from Oct 11, 2013. Just over a year ago now. I had completely forgotten about it yet it still perfectly corresponds with what I've decided to do by starting this blog. Here's part of the entry.. 

'Today was nice. One of those days that never gets old. Enjoying the outdoors with a good friend, good music and good conversation. I think I need to challenge myself more. Write about my thoughts and opinions. Write honestly. Write about past pain. Write about moments, people, places, feelings.'

Even a full year ago I knew that this blog was something I needed to pursue. Writing openly and honestly puts me in my element. It lets me state the opinions I couldn't say outloud or the emotions I couldn't convey face-to-face with someone. This post is a short one because I feel like my journal entry sums it up. There is no personal growth without personal challenges. 

Thursday, December 4, 2014

This Ain't A Bakery?

Alright folks, I don't doubt that you're wondering what the heck I mean by 'This Ain't A Bakery' but let me explain... There's this quote that I just love and it goes like this, "This is not a bakery, I don't sugarcoat anything." Plain and simple. 

I'm hoping that little quote sums up the theme of this blog. This ain't a bakery, and I'm not going to sugarcoat anything that I write about. Ernest Hemmingway said, "Write hard and clear about what hurts." That is something I intend to do for the rest of my life. I don't claim to write eloquently or beautifully, I just write honestly. I have no interest in pursuing some higher education in literature of any sort but I have found that writing is the most expressive outlet I have in my life. When I come away from writing and take a look over what I've wrote, I realize how I feel. One of my biggest weaknesses is not accepting my emotions. I will over-analyze a situation and try to make sense of it for days on end. I truly cannot decide how I feel about it until I write it out. The entire time I'm writing it's like I'm anxiously waiting until I'm finished so I can read it over, out loud, and see what I was really feeling the whole time. Writing gives me closure and it makes me feel strong.

In writing this blog, I hope that you all will get to know me better. I'm the person who when you first meet is shy and often socially awkward. It's this strange anxiety thing with me. Meeting new people is one of my least favourite things in the world. I come off as avoidant, rude and arrogant (So I've been told). Until I feel I have something in common with someone, I will hold up that wall. Eventually, it crumbles around me and I'm usually happy once it does because I can embrace this new wonderful person and finally enjoy talking with them. Once you get to know me, you'll realize that I'm basically just ridiculous. I don't know how to act, ever. It's like I am either strictly thinking about how I must behave or I am not at all considering what I am doing. There is no in between. One minute, I'll be seriously considering when I'm going to get a cup of coffee and why I want it and whether I should have it or not and the next I am lunge-walking (literal lunges) into the kitchen while singing Talk Dirty To Me in a middle-eastern accent. I do not make sense.

As you're beginning to see, I have two sides. The strange fun-loving dreaming laughing ridiculous side and the deep-thinking over-analyzing factual realistic side. I struggle a lot with having these two polar opposite sides of my personality. The thing that magnifies these struggles is Chronic Illness. 

I was always a fairly healthy kid. A bit accident-prone, maybe, but healthy. I competed in gymnastics, spend most of my time outside, loved riding my bike and swimming. Everything was a breeze and life was always great. Sometimes I wish I was still that carefree kid who had all the energy in the world. Sometimes I wish I didn't know the pain that I know now.

Chronic Illness entered my life when I was 12 years old. It began with arthritic-symptoms, then asthmatic symptoms that were misunderstood. It then turned into lung problems and heart conditions, then a dropped diagnosis because there was never a clear answer. Next, Endometriosis entered into my life. Right alongside Endometriosis came chronic fatigue and chronic pain, depression, anxiety and panic attacks. A couple years later, add Fibromyalgia, Rheumatoid Arthritis and Anemia into the mix. And there I am. Smack in the middle of a medical mess that I have no idea how to clean up.

This blog, is about my journey. My journey in life. I will tell you upfront, most likely, a lot of this blog will relate to Chronic Illness. Contrary to popular belief, this isn't because I want to gain sympathy or because I want to complain. Unless you've lived with Chronic Illness or Pain you do not realize how much of your life it takes up. I love to write about my life, my personal experiences, my opinions, my struggles, my happiness.. As much as I wish it wasn't, Chronic Illness is a part of my life. Writing helps me understand my journey better and that's really what this blog is all about.