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Posts tagged ‘health’

“Pushing Back the Dark” My week

“Keep on pushing back the dark”

My week has been one of ups and downs for sure. Although at this moment in time the only thing I can focus on are the downs. “Whatever you do, just don’t lose heart.”

I’ve been dealing with a medical annoyance for about a month and this week it met a height that I could no longer ignore. “One million reasons why, you shouldn’t even try.”

Okay I’m gonna get gross, only so that you can for a minute be me and feel the frustration and anger and sadness that has been this week, this month, the last 10 years. “After all you’re just one heart, a single candle in the dark.”

For a month now, and 3 years back for 2 years and 6 years before that for a year and a half, I’ve been having diarrhea at least daily and usually multiple times a day after I eat. Gross I know but the facts. My stomach/bowels will speak to me after I’ve eaten, before I’ve eaten, almost all day long and all night long. To the point that people talk to me about it or ask if I’m hungry or feed me or whatever to make it stop and no it doesn’t stop and no it has no effect but I’ll let you think it does so that we’ll stop talking about it. “And there are shadows here, feeding on your fears.”

This week I was going to the bathroom like crazy, having diarrhea 20 times in one night and that was just after eating dinner. So I decided to go to the doctor. “That you don’t have what it takes–who are you to make a change.”

I went at 3:00pm this past Tuesday and laid it all out for the good doctor. I told her about my past and my missed diagnoses. One specialist said, Ulcerative Colitis. The next said they were wrong and nothing was wrong with me. I told her that I have given up the gluten completely because when I eat it I have to run to the bathroom and pray to God I make it, I get massive migraines and become lethargic the next day with great body pains. I told her my entire history with this stupid stuff and then she did what they all do she started circling the tests she wanted to perform. “But oh, oh, don’t underestimate the God you follow.”

So I walked down to the lab where they gave me the cup to pee in, the bowl to collect the poo in and the cups to put the poo in. Then I went to the bathroom and collected all the disgusting samples and it took about 15 minutes to completely collect and fill the cups. But I was determined not to take that stuff home. “The city on a hill, it should be shining still.”

Once finished with my collection I walked back to the lab and dropped my samples off. Then the nurse proceeded to collect all my blood (not really but there were a lot of viles she was filling). Then I went back to the Lab waiting room, waiting for someone to call my name. “Every sinner saved by grace, has a purpose, has a place.”

When they called my name they took me to the X-ray where I disrobed and lay on a table in those ridiculous gowns and waited. They took the X-Ray they needed and I got dressed again. “Inside the bigger plan, we might not understand.”

I should say before she sent me to the Lab to be poked and prodded she told me what she thought. She said it could be diabetes, it could be thyroid problems, it could be kidney dis-function, it could be IBS, etc, etc. I was barely listening but I remember the big 3 “thyroid, diabetes and IBS.” She said she was sending me for labs and that we would talk on Monday once she got all the Labs back. Then she sent me on my way to THE LAB. “But if we just keep walking on, we will see the kingdom come.”

I have to tell you while sitting in the Lab and while getting my X-Ray and while driving home I was FREAKING out. Sure this has happened to me before. The first time my mom was there with me, the second my good friend Vicky was there and this time I have friends in the state and all over the country I can talk to about it. But I felt truly alone and scared. So scared. “Whatever you do just don’t look back.”

I kept thinking about the times before, the diagnoses before, the guesses before and the non answers I was given. The last time I did this, after the clean colonoscopy my Doctor turned me away. She said I was fine. And that was it. She was done. I was fine having diarrhea all time. This was it she was done with me. I had no hope then and that feeling returned in full force this week. “Oh somebody needs the light you have.”

When I got home, after being released at 5:00pm, I called my mom and talked with her. I wrote a note to my prayer group and texted good friends and still I felt all alone and SCARED. “Whatever you do, just don’t lose heart.”

Wednesday I had to work from home because my problem was still a problem. The doctor called in the morning and said what the others had said, “you’re pretty healthy.” My kidney function was good, my urine was good (something no doctor has ever said to me), my blood glucose was fine so diabetes was out, my thyroid function was fine, so she was crossing items off the list. Leaving the one thing she thought it might be IBS but she was still waiting to for my poo to come back and some other tests so we would wait to talk diagnosis until Monday in her office. “Keep pushing back the dark.”

So Thursday I went to work and worked from work but came home early and it was a good thing I did. I got books from my low carbohydrates colleague and got on and read about IBS. Some of the symptoms fit but not all. The most disheartening thing is that I’ll have to change and limit my diet all over again. “Keep pushing back the dark.”

I’m disheartened, I’m scared, I’m feeling alone, I’m frustrated, I’m angry and I’m sad. I don’t have a diagnosis yet but what else makes sense. “Oh, oh don’t underestimate the God you follow.”

She did say that my X-Ray showed lots of bowel in my colon and lots of gas in my other intestine. No impaction, no nothing. “He is the light that burns inside your soul.”

So that’s where I am this Friday. I have the day off to get some stuff done in town and I’m excited for the day off but not the day to sit in my head and keep thinking about all of this. “So keep shining until the whole world knows.”

The song that is throughout my post has been in my head all week long, Pushing Back the Dark by Josh Wilson. I’ve heard it in the car each day to and from work, from the doctor, etc. I’ve heard it in my head when I’ve woken up each day. It has made me cry, it has given me hope and it has reminded me that the diagnosis is not yet here and that this doctor seems determined to give me an answer and hopefully she won’t give up until she has an answer.

That’s been my week. Ups and downs for sure. The ups were talking with my mom and her never ending encouragement. Sharing with friends who pray for me and send me hugs from DC, Texas and CA. Sharing with co-workers who give you cookbooks, share in your frustration and those that simply say, “That pretty much sucks.” My friends, family and co-workers are awesome.

“Pushing back the dark” of my downs. I’ll let you know the endgame when I do.

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2013 What a year!?!

I don’t know about you but I get really reflective at the beginning of a new year. I look back and see what happened in the previous year and where I am today. 

The most exciting thing of 2013 was moving to Missouri and getting a job. 2 significant things that changed things for me late in the year. At the end of January I will reach my 90 days at work. An achievement to be sure. I still really like my job. There are days when I feel like I am in in my stride and know what I am doing and then days where I still have no clue what to do. It’s very interesting. 

2013 Also brought changes to the family. One of the saddest was the loss of Grandma Shirley. I spent most of today watching The Ghost Whisperer which is a good show but I don’t recommend it if you have recently lost someone, talk about depressing. I cried at the end of every episode and am crying now deeply feeling the loss of a woman I loved wholeheartedly. No grandmas left :(……

2013 Brought other changes to the family like heartache and complete disbelief. I mean you think you know someone (sorry to be cryptic but it’s not my story to tell, nor did it really happen to me….it just happened to a great woman and her awesome kids that I love and the betrayal is still shocking to my core…but again not my story so that will be the last I say about it.).

2013 Also brought great joy in the form of my younger sister getting married. It was a great celebration and Jeff was a  great addition to the family and I thoroughly enjoyed his company this Christmas. 

I finished my 2nd Masters but there was hold up with people dropping the ball and I’m still waiting to receive my degree. Very annoying but luckily it didn’t hold up me getting my job so it’s all good. 

My health was pretty good. I mean I wasn’t hospitalized that year which is a feat in itself. There were no surgeries and the only time I was in the ER was for work :). That’s pretty good. I did have some gluten issues but that was only when I wasn’t supremely careful which even now I make a mistake and only know it after the fact…its annoying but luckily infrequent. I do have migraines pretty frequently which I still blame on that stupid accident and I still pass the occasional kidney stone and have the occasional kidney infection but nothing too serious (its all relative).

Life in 2013 had ups and downs but I still have my health and a car that works, a roof over my head and a family that I love. I’m still single and I live alone and I don’t know my neighbors but there’s always next year, right? 

I hope your year had more ups than downs as well and that this year will bring new goals reached, new joys surpassed, and new adventures. 🙂

I Can’t Go Alone: Self-Care

How do you do self-care when your job is literally to care for others? How do you do care for others when you cannot care for yourself?

I know self-care is important because I have neglected it and sometimes feel like I’m falling apart at the seams. I spent a good portion of my life learning to hold in all of my icky parts and have spent years learning that holding it all together only leads to more of it spilling out at awkward times. My icky parts are my feelings and as the years have progressed I have learned that feelings are not icky. They are important and need paying attention to.

Feelings are as important as the pains and aches of life.  A fever turns you towards a flu or doctor so tears should turn you towards the feeling and figuring it out. What makes you sad? Why are you happy? Do you know why you anger so easily or do you simply sweep it under the rug?

This week I was slapped in the face with my lack of self care. I had noticed it: it came in my inability to enter some rooms or my inability to see past my own pain.

So this week when I had learned that one of my favorite aunts was very sick and possibly even more sick than we thought. I couldn’t get past it. I couldn’t even go to rooms on my unit. I couldn’t sit in meetings and not think about losing her.

Being slapped in the face like that got me thinking about how I was caring for myself.

I was throwing myself into this internship, throwing myself into the work I must do and neglecting the inner workings of me. Sure when I lost it in a room or two I would take a moment to reclaim myself but what about those moments when I simply ignored it? What about those moments when I just let it go?

So on Thursday when I couldn’t force myself to go on the unit I asked one of my group members: Is it okay to say, “Today I can’t go”? Is it okay to say, “I need help today”? Is it okay to say, “I can’t come in because my mental health is at it’s breaking point”? Is that ever okay?

One of my fellow members, John, asked people all day long for help. He passed the pager on to someone else, asked me to  go with him on a call and used us all to help him through it. What would he do when he was there alone? How would he get through it without us?

The time I spend on-call, I don’t worry about the job I do, I just do it but when I am not on call it’s harder for me. It’s harder and I’m not sure how to ask for the help that I need. It’s harder for me to say I need someone to go with me.

It’s almost as if the emotional drain of being on-call takes it’s toll and I do not wish to go into any more rooms, I don’t want to feel that anguish, I do not wish to subject myself to anymore emotional onslaught. I do not wish to cause myself anymore pain and going into those rooms is pain. It hurts my heart. It causes triggers each time, whether I realize it in the moment or if it takes weeks for me to realize it.

So how do I go back? How do I go on? I realized yesterday that this internship lasts for about two months more. How in the heck do I continue to go? How do I get myself to let go of the anguish and focus on the joy of hearing someone say, “That was a great prayer, thank you”? How do I get myself to go on?

This is a hard internship, much harder than any other so how do I continue to do the work I do without letting it consume my entire being?

How do I manage better self care?

Am I strong enough yet?

For those of you that don’t know, I have been passing a stone for the last four days. And throughout the agonizing pain I have had “Stronger” by Kelly Clarkson in my head.

Hopefully by now everyone has seen the video made by the children’s cancer ward. I think I watched this video about 20 times when if first came out. I’m in no way comparing my battle of the last few days to this video. I cry every time I watch it but I still think it is an awesome video, and an awesome song.

The lyrics that keep running through my head are:

“What doesn’t kill you makes you stronger/stand a little taller.”

The whole song is about surviving a bad break-up but it has more applications than that.

In my case it is about passing a stone and having the worst pain imaginable. It’s not even a constant pain. For instance, this morning I was feeling so much better but then tonight I am crying because I am in so much pain. Passing a kidney stone is said to be more painful than the hardest labor pains.

I’ve never had a baby, I’ve never even fully passed a stone. But I do know that this is some of the worst pain I have ever experienced in my life. What sucks about the kinds of stones that I get is 1) they are huge and 2) I cannot prevent them.

Some stones can be prevented by diet. You control your intake of pops and other harsh sugars and you are all good. My stones are not related to my diet. They are related to the acid build-up in my body. They are related to infections I get that I don’t know I have.

I have a high tolerance for pain. I always have. It could have to do with the issues of my birth or my low weight or all the testing I had to go through when I was a kid. It could have something to do with many many things, I don’t know. I don’t really care. I am thankful for my high tolerance for pain. But it does get in the way, especially when it comes to my production of stones.

Most people are in excruciating pain when they get a bladder infection or a UTI. I never feel them. I know right! I’m so lucky. But the problem with that is that if you don’t feel a UTI it turns into a bladder infection because you never have it checked. And if you don’t feel the bladder infection you are really screwed because it turns into a kidney infection and lucky me I actually feel that crap. That hurts.

Since the infection travels up to my kidneys I also get to produce a kidney stone. Lucky me.

I do drink cranberry juice because it is supposed to kill infections and I haven’t had an infection in a very long time.

But still tonight I am dealing with the pain of passing a stone. Oh joy (sarcasm).

As you can tell my mood is improving by the day. I have watched almost all of the movies I own and most of the ones my parents’ own. I have watched so many movies I cannot tell you which ones I have watched. Today alone I watched: Breakfast at Tiffany’s, Friends, Twister, American Pickers, Harry Potter 8, and X-Men: First Class.  That was just today.

I’m bored and to be honest, lonely. I mean I spent all day yesterday on the couch with my mom but I was still lonely. I have left the house once a day for the past 4 days. I’m going stir crazy and I’m not taking it well. Add to the that the pain that has me up most of the night and I’m not sure I even want to hang out with me.

I went to a conference in Pasadena at HROCK when I was there a few months ago. And at this conference one of the main speakers talked about the idea that when you find yourself in a difficult time you should look to God and ask him what you are supposed to be learning from this.

They say that pastors encounter the most difficulty so that they can be present with the people in their midst. I’m sure that this kidney stone is just teaching me to be more compassionate towards others who are suffering. But guess what the other stones, the past surgeries and injuries have all taught me to have a compassionate side. So what the heck is this stone trying to teach me?

Is it’s sole purpose to make me stronger? I’m already pretty strong. I really don’t know what this time around is supposed to teach me. I’m just ready for it to be over. I’m ready to stop alienating the people I love. I’m ready to be smart again and get off these pills that make me act stupid.

I’m ready to be done with this battle. I’m ready to get back to being me. I’m ready. But my body is not agreeing with me.

My body is still in pain. I’m tired of becoming stronger. I’m ready to be whole.

I agree with Kelly Clarkson that what doesn’t kill me will make me stronger but the journey to becoming stronger really sucks.

Am I strong enough yet?

It’s Okay to be Where You Are

As many of you know my Grandmother passed away on Monday evening.

Here’s how the story went in my life: Kristie (my roommate) wanted to take me out to celebrate my birthday (it was Saturday) so we went out to dinner. When we were done with dinner we went to go see a movie. After we bought tickets we went outside and I checked the time on my phone and noticed that I missed a few calls from my mom and home.

I called home (or what’s labeled as Olathe in my phone) and talked to my dad. During the process of my grandmothers being sick I have expected bad news every time my parents call. They both always ask if I was just sleeping but I’m just waiting for them to get to the bad news and Monday it was pretty bad news.

About a month ago or so doctors found a large tumor on grandma’s kidney and she had fluid in her lungs. The fluid turned out to have cancer cells in it so it was determined that she had stage 4 cancer and it has spread everywhere. The doctors told her that she wasn’t going to be cured but that they would try to give her time. They were going to move her to rehab and then three weeks later give her some pills that would deal with the cancer. She never made it three weeks.

So when I talked to my dad after dinner he said that she was at rehab and couldn’t breath so they sent her to the ER and in the ER she decided that she didn’t want extraordinary measures so they sent her to hospice.

I was devastated. I thought we had more time than that. I was going to see her on the 26th. Dad basically said the same thing out loud. So I hung up with him and my roommate asked me what I wanted to do and I said I wanted to see the movie.

It wasn’t going to do me any good to sit at home and freak out so I decided to see Dark Shadows (it’s hilarious by the way) and when the movie was over I had several missed calls from my mom and a text saying “Call me.” I called her back in the middle of a parking structure and she told me that grandma had died. I couldn’t believe it. She was gone. I still can’t believe it.

This is the second grandparent I have lost, to cancer no less. It sucks. And there isn’t much people can do. A friend is taking me to the airport in hours and then when I get back I will be using my friends to help me pack and make runs to Goodwill (I will be leaning on you when I get back).

When my first grandparent died (while I was alive. My mom’s dad died when she was a kid so I never got to know him) I tried to force the process. I felt like I had to be sad, so I tried to think about sad things when I wasn’t sad. Since then I have grown up. I have realized that the process is fluid and I may be in all the stages of grief at once or just one at a time. Yesterday I was angry, in denial and depressed all at the same time. I was also able to function for most of the day by keeping myself busy and preoccupied with other things. Feeling it in the moment and fully escaping was the perfect mixture to get me through the day.

This time I’m not forcing feelings. If I’m numb, I’m going with it. If I’m angry I’m going with that. Wherever I am in this process of grief is okay because that’s where I am. It’s also okay for everyone to be in different stages of the grief process. It’s okay if my cousins have made it to acceptance and I’m still in the rest of the process. We each deal with this differently and that’s fine. We are where we are.

I have also noticed that I have become more sappy in the process. I’m telling everyone I love them and why because I can’t get “Say What You Need To Say” out of my head from John Mayer’s “Say.”

It’s okay to be where I am and as the day continues and as I travel to Denver I think I will have to remind myself of that even more.

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