Chronically Awesome

I am an open book, I always have been, I always will be. My mom used to joke that I was the only teenager who told her too much about my life.

I've never had a problem with being open about my mental illness, even though I was taught that it was something to be ashamed of, something I should strive to hide. But sharing has helped me connect with people, and connecting with people reminds me that I don't struggle alone. And that has made a world of difference in my life.

But talking about my physical health is a lot more difficult for me. This blog has actually helped me be more open about it than I ever have in my life. Then again, me starting up this blog coincided with my Gastroparesis diagnosis and subsequent treatment, and it's all been too major not to mention.

For many years now I've struggled with Hashimoto's (autoimmune) Hypothyroidism, GERD/ Gastroparesis, a pelvic floor disorder, and a TMJ disorder that causes constant tension headaches. I also have pain and weakness in my wrists and fingers but I'm going to ignore that for as long as possible. ;) I've also had two sinus surgeries (a septoplasty and a turbinate reduction) and a tonsillectomy. Oh and at some point they took out my appendix too. There's also the hypersomina... oh the hypersomnia!

I had a physical last month, and my doctor (my general practitioner) told me "you have such a great attitude for someone who is so sick." And that struck me, because I never really saw myself as sick. At least not physically.

That's not to say I don't feel sick, I feel fucking TERRIBLE all the time, but I always attributed these issues to personal failings as opposed to actual diseases/ conditions. I'm nauseous all the time because I have no self control when it comes to food. My hair falls out because I don't get enough vitamins. My muscles are clenched all the time because I have an uptight personality. I'm tired all the time because I'm lazy.

Except, I'm nauseous because my vagus nerve is partially paralyzed and my stomach doesn't function properly (and I never feel worse than I do after eating veggies.) My hair falls out because I have autoimmune hypothyroidism (my vitamin levels are fine.) My muscles are clenched for god knows what reason but I can't control it (really I'm not that uptight!) And I'm tired all the time because all these goddamn diseases (the mental ones included!) zap my energy.

Of course, the tricky thing about all these diseases are that they're invisible. And to a lot of people, certain members of my family included, invisible means not real or easy to solve. It doesn't matter that my blood tests show erratic thyroid levels and high inflammatory markers, that a nuclear gastric emptying study showed a significant delay in stomach function, or that physical manipulation of my muscles/ joints have shown abnormality. When you look fine, you're supposed to act fine. And I try to, I really do.

But there's a reason why every room in my house is never clean at the same time, why the laundry piles up, and why I can't make dinner every night.

I'm chronically ill. In fact I have multiple chronic illnesses/ diseases. And I need to stop hating myself because of that.

When I say that I'm chronically ill I feel like a kid trying to join a club that she's not cool enough for. Or in this case, sick enough for. To be honest, I feel like a fraud. There are countless people out there who have it MUCH worse than I do- I am acutely aware of that. And I am endlessly thankful for the moderation of my illnesses and the pieces of me that are healthy.

But I hate myself for being sick, precisely because I can't admit to myself that I am sick. People say that you should never have excuses, but what does that even mean? What's the difference between an excuse and a explanation aside from unfair stigma. All my life I've believed in the "bootstraps" mantra to a certain extent, but everybody is only able to pull up their straps so much. Everybody is doing the best they can.

I am doing the best I can, and dammit that is going to be enough.


Life Lately...

I keep telling myself I'm going to set a time aside in my schedule specifically for blogging, and then it never happens. With preschool two days a week, dance two days a week, and countless doctor/ physical therapy appointments, any time I have on the computer is spent doing online work for my mom's friend- and now my mom too. Whoo-hoo for money!

My health has been up and down lately. My stomach hasn't been troubling me as much as it was earlier this year but it's a constant struggle. My mental health peaked for the few weeks after I started Prozac and has been deteriorating ever since. I've been struggling with anxiety, depression, and a total lack of motivation (which also explains why I haven't been around here as much.) I've also been having really severe tension headaches that aren't helped by Tylenol/ Advil and I realized they are tied to my TMJ issues. So I just started physical therapy for my jaw (and my pelvic floor too, so fun) in hopes that will eliminate the headaches. I had a jaw massage (outside and inside my mouth) last week and it was the most painful thing I've ever experienced. It was worse than childbirth- I almost passed out.

We also got some bad news regarding N's health. He was in an ATV accident about 5 years ago where he flipped an ATV and his lower back landed on a rock. He developed a MASSIVE hematoma and it went away but then came back when he was wrestling with his brother. His brother and sister drug him kicking and screaming to the ER (they were in Montana for his step-grandpa's funeral) but all they did was an x-ray which didn't show any damage. He's had lower back pain ever since and at times it's gotten so bad he can't walk. One night after hockey he literally crawled into the house on his hands and knees because he had hurt it so bad while doing a twisting motion. I drug him (again, kicking and screaming) to the Urgent Care clinic the next day and the doctor just wrote him a script for pain pills and sent us on our way.

The pain has been getting worse and more frequent so I made him go to my general practitioner. Within minutes of talking to my husband, the doctor set him up to get an MRI, and he had it done a few days later. We got a call just hours after the MRI saying that N has two slipped and one torn disk in his spine. He'll be seeing a specialist next week. We're really hoping that his issues can be healed without surgery. If he had to take time off work for surgery (and then be on light duty for however long after that) it would be financially catastrophic for us. He is guaranteed 40 hours of pay every week, but mechanics rely on their hours flagged (commission) so he makes at least 3 times what his guaranteed pay is every week. We wouldn't be able to live on that 40 hours, especially with the added healthcare costs.

But in better news R has been rocking it at school and dance. Although she's had some emotional hiccups at each she's really doing a great job. She LOVES preschool and I LOVE my 2 1/2 hours of free time twice a week. I've been really worried about her picking up school germs- especially with that super scary respiratory virus going around Colorado- but I'm trying to keep calm. She has to be around other kids at some point or another, right? Right?!

Hank has been doing well too! The orthopedic specialist vet we took him to only noticed some abnormal bone density around his shoulder but nothing to be super worried about. He's still limping a little bit but the activity restrictions are off and we've been able to start taking him to the dog park again- which rocks his world. I've also been able to take him on a few walks recently after purchasing a gentle leader head collar. He was so hard for me to walk before because he's so big, and I'm so weak. He isn't particularly naughty on a leash but any slight pull from him would yank my arm practically out of the socket. He hates the head collar but he's getting used to it and when he isn't freaking out when it's on he walks like a dream!

September is upon us which means my birthday is coming up (next Sunday!) which means that my indoor Halloween decorations are going up right after that. I am totally shameless. N hates I keep them up for so long but he's just a debbie downer. I LOVE Halloween and R has informed me she "wants to be a ghost like ooOOoohhHHhh" so I'll be trying to come up with a cute costume for her. I'm also looking forward to two different zombie crawls this year! Halloween is the only thing that perks me up about summer leaving. I get a special pain in my heart when the leaves start to change that doesn't feel better until the trees are fully leafed and green again.

Ah well. It's been a good summer even if I didn't get to do much of my bucket list. Until next summer!