“Things we lost to the flame
Things we’ll never see again
All that we’ve amassed
Sits before us, shattered into ash…”
Things We Lost in the Fire (Bastille)
As Esther Smith said in her excellent book, When Chronic Pain and Illness Take Everything Away, “Grief is the process by which we actively release all that we feel, question, and remember at the feet of God and the people He has placed in our lives.”
At the end of the second chapter, she poses some questions that have me wrestling with my thoughts, emotions, and feelings towards God. Questioning God isn’t a bad thing. In fact, He encourages us to come to Him with our questions, fears, or doubts. If you’ve ever read Psalms, you know this to be true!
As part of my grief process, I am going to share my answers to the questions, as you all are the people God has placed in my life. I assume the intention of that is to find help through grief from a different perspective than God’s. Continue reading “Things We Lost in the Fire”
I’ve always been a difficult person to be friends with. And I’m not easy to love.
Although life didn’t start out that way. One day in pre-school, my mom was shocked to see me sitting at a table with all the little boys in the class crowding around me, the only girl at the table. If only I had such admiration ten years later!
In all seriousness, I think a lot of my friend-making difficulty stems from my social anxiety, which started baring its teeth around the age of nine. There were really a lot of people who didn’t like me for reasons explained in that post, and it scarred me for life. I still remember the torment and how it made me feel. I was always the smart one, not the pretty one, and brains didn’t earn you many friends. Middle school and high school were awful for obvious reasons, so I was thrilled to go to college over 400 miles away from home where I didn’t know a soul. Friendships were much easier to maintain there because everyone was starting on a clean slate.
But it’s now been almost seven years since I graduated from pharmacy school. I’m almost seven years into my career. But for the past ten months, I’ve been on medical leave in order to have and recover from three surgeries in a four-month period: hernia repair, brain tumor removal, and aneurysm stenting. However, just as I was about to go back to work, POTS happened, likely as a result of all those surgeries. And having POTS sucks incredibly. It’s not something I would wish on my worst enemy.
I haven’t done one of these in awhile. My last one was in December, I believe. Even in two short months, my life has changed a great deal. Not for the better, unfortunately. And since I’m having some painsomnia along with my general refusal to sleep at night for the most part anymore, I guess I may as well talk about it to some more sympathetic ears than I’ve been getting the past few days.
I lost my job last week. I understand why, but that doesn’t make it any easier to bear. My FMLA ran out last June, after which point my job was unprotected; they could have gotten rid of me then. Instead, they gave me as much time as they could for me to get well enough to return to work, which I failed to do twice, once in October, and again in January, when I was diagnosed with POTS. (Here’s a bit of what a day in my life looks like now thanks to POTS, except I pretty much stay in bed now.)
But anyway, now it’s prime recruiting season at the hospital and I’m not naive enough to think they would keep me any longer. They’d rather replace me with a new residency graduate who has some clinical knowledge, but has absolutely no idea how to actually be a pharmacist.
Although I don’t feel quite as bad sometimes when I think about what a literal revolving door my specific tiny department within an enormous department is. And it is a tiny department, with something like a dozen pharmacists total for a 24/7 operation. But since 2010, the year I started working there, I’m 99% certain, if my list is correct, that I am the 20th pharmacist to leave. In seven years.
Yet my emotions are still very raw. I keep crying periodically. Ok fine, I cry a lot. I want to scream and throw things and then go to bed and never wake up. I’m back in what I call my depression hole; I have periods where I just won’t talk and will only communicate via head movements or shrugs because I feel if I open my mouth to speak, I’ll fall apart. I took the picture on the right immediately after I found out so I’ll always remember how much it hurt.
So now the big question is, what do I do with myself now? Honestly, if I ever get well, I don’t know that I have the intention of reapplying in the future or to ever practice pharmacy again. What a waste of six years of education. I was never a good pharmacist in my opinion anyway.
But David and I had a heart to heart Friday night between us and God. We came to the conclusion that I’m basically going to start my life all over again. I’ve been through so much in the past year (or even really the past four years starting with my celiac disease diagnosis, then the endometriosis…) Between all my diagnoses, my surgeries, trying to get better on a deadline when my body wasn’t ready, being stressed out by that, getting worse, and so on, it’s finally time to take my foot off the accelerator. I’m setting intentional goals that I (hope) I am capable of and can work towards.
Not thinking about work or a return date or ever going back there ever again.
Do my cardiac rehab to the best of my ability in an effort to improve my POTS, and therefore my quality of life.
Do things I want to do that will make me happy.
Studying the Word
Listening to music
Take baby steps towards normalizing my life.
David will encourage me and I will encourage him.
Focus a bit on getting the house cleaned up.
So, really, living my life the way I want to, with as little stress as possible to maybe help promote faster healing. No deadlines.
A new me.
I started life over again in 2004 when I started pharmacy school, leaving behind my old life of dance and musical theater.
I started life over again in 2010 when I graduated from pharmacy school, got married, moved, passed my boards, and started my career.
And I’m starting my life over again in 2017 when my health is in shambles and my pharmacy career is over.
We’ll see where the road takes me. But after all I’ve been through, I can only hope it’ll be to a happier place.
I love fun stuff like this. It’s distracting me from the hell hole that is my life lately. Thanks Dangerously Normal Spoonie for the idea!
1. What’s your favorite candle scent? North Pole from Yankee Candle.
2. What female celebrity do you wish was your sister? Emma Watson
3. What male celebrity do you wish was your brother? Tom Hiddleston (seriously, he’s only four years older than me.)
4. How old do you think you’ll be when you get married? I was 24 when I got married, which is about how old I expected I would be.
5. Do you know a hoarder? Not as bad as on the show, but my husband is definitely a hoarder.
6. Can you do a split? Yes. I’ll have you know I haven’t stretched in two years and didn’t before taking these pictures just now.
7. How old were you when you learned how to ride a bike? I think about five?
8. How many oceans have you swam in? Umm…Atlantic, Caribbean, Mediterranean, and Adriatic. So four.
9. How many countries have you been to? I think eight…(excluding the U.S.) Canada, Honduras, France, Italy, Monaco, (is Monaco its own country?) Germany, United Kingdom (including England, Wales, and Northern Ireland), Republic of Ireland.
10. Is anyone in your family in the army? Nope.
11. What would you name your daughter if you had one? Alexis Ruth
12. What would you name your son if you had one? Jacob Daniel
13. What’s the worst grade you got on a test? F. Very, very F. (In the apt words of one of my uncle’s college professors, “Oh, you don’t get F, you get F minus!”)
14. What was your favorite TV show when you were a child? Adventures in Wonderland and Saved by the Bell
15. What did you dress up as on Halloween when you were eight? That would have been second grade…a black cat.
16. Have you read any of the Harry Potter, Hunger Games or Twilight series? Yes. I loved and need to reread Harry Potter. I need to finish Hunger Games (only finished the first book). And I need to set fire to Twilight.
17. Would you rather have an American accent or a British accent? British. It’s in my royal heritage, you know.
18. Did your mother go to college? Yes.
19. Are your grandparents still married? They’re dead.
20. Have you ever taken karate lessons? No
21. Do you know who Kermit the frog is? Of course. If you don’t, I don’t want to imagine how tragic your childhood was.
22. What’s the first amusement park you’ve been to? Seabreeze! (Twelfth oldest operating amusement park in the world, fourth oldest in the U.S.)
23. What language, besides your native language, would you like to be fluent in? Spanish
24. Do you spell the color as grey or gray? Gray
25. Is your father bald? Getting there.
26. Do you know triplets? Not personally.
27. Do you prefer Titanic or The Notebook? Neither, although if I had to pick one, The Notebook.
28. Have you ever had Indian food? Who hasn’t?
29. What’s the name of your favorite restaurant? Revolution Pizza (best gluten free pizza anywhere!)
30. Have you ever been to Olive Garden? Too many times.
31. Do you belong to any warehouse stores (Costco, BJ’s, etc.)?Sam’s Club
32. What would your parents have named you if you were the opposite gender? Kevin Charles
33. If you have a nickname, what is it? Bootie
34. Who’s your favorite person in the world? My hubby, David.
35. Would you rather live in a rural area or in the suburbs? Suburbs.
36. Can you whistle? Eh, not really.
37. Do you sleep with a nightlight? We have one over by the bathroom door that we put there while I was recovering from knee surgery so if I needed to crutch to the bathroom in the middle of the night, I could see where I was going. We just never got rid of it. But it’s pretty much hidden by a dresser, so you can’t see it until you’re right in front of the bathroom door.
38. Do you eat breakfast every morning? Nope. Stopped doing that when I was 12.
39. Do you take any pills or medication daily? HAHAHAHAHAHAHAHAHAHAHAHAHAHA! Yes. Ends up being about 30 pills daily.
40. What medical conditions do you have? Sigh…Endometriosis, adenomyosis, celiac disease, infertility, major depressive disorder, anxiety, episodic migraines, hypothyroidism, pituitary tumor (prolactinoma) that was surgically removed and had better not come back, left internal carotid artery aneurysm, dysautonomia, orthostatic intolerance, moderate hypovolemia (I don’t have enough blood, but I’m not anemic), and “very severe” venous pooling, both of which indicate POTS (postural orthostatic tachycardia syndrome). And I might have Ehlers-Danlos Syndrome; I have an appointment with a geneticist in a few weeks.
41. How many times have you been to the hospital? I work at one and trained in many, so I’m going to assume this question means as a patient. So then…15, to the best of my knowledge, including emergency room visits, admissions, and procedures or surgeries. That excludes appointments.
42. Have you ever seen Finding Nemo? What person in their 30s hasn’t!?
43. Where do you buy your jeans? New York and Company
44. What’s the last compliment you got? A comment from a lovely reader on my blog: “Thank you so much for such an informative post on brain fog. I know I get it a lot and it drives me bonkers. Reading your experience makes me feel less alone!”
45. Do you usually remember your dreams in the morning? Most of the time.
46. What flavor tea do you enjoy? Lady Gray and English Breakfast.
47. How many pairs of shoes do you currently own? Too many. I only wear about seven of them.
48. What religion will you raise your children to practice? Jesus is my Savior, not my religion.
49. How old were you when you found out that Santa wasn’t real? I think I was about 7 or 8.
50. Why do you have a Tumblr? I don’t. I just copied this list from someone else!
What’s it like to have dysautonomia? Let me take you through a day in my compression socks so you have some idea of what I fight through on a daily basis.
Imagine it’s a new day. You wake up and get out of bed. You do your business and then brush your teeth (with an electric toothbrush, by the way.) As you’re doing this, you place two of your fingers over your carotid artery. Your heart rate is rapid, probably in the 120s, maybe pushing 130. And all you’re doing is standing up, brushing your teeth. Continue reading “A Day With Dysautonomia”
Start humming “Auld Lang Syne.” (Seriously, just work with me here.)
“Your grace will never be forgot
Your mercy all my life
Will be my soul’s forever song
My story and my light…”
It’s easy for me to sit here and bash 2016 for what a horrendous year it was. I’ve already done a pretty good job of that in my personal journal.
I am not yet done grieving the past year and what it did to me. But I would be remiss if I said that nothing good came out of this year. I almost have to grit my teeth saying that, because I want nothing more than to scream and cry and release some serious emotions about this trash heap of a year. But not knowing what is to come in 2017, maybe 2016 can at least go out on a high note.
Last Thursday was Thanksgiving here in America. The real, official start of the holiday season. No one can deny it’s too early for Christmas music any longer!
After barely managing to drag myself out of bed Wednesday afternoon, David and I headed to my hometown, a four-hour drive away. Having not been there since May, I was very much looking forward to it. Luckily we had good weather and made good time, despite needing to stop at a rest stop to use the facilities and because I had to walk around to prevent blood clots. Once we got there, we were immediately greeted by Boo and Ziggy, the household rescue tuxedo cats. I missed them so! We had dinner with my dad and brother since my mom was at work. My dad and I spent the rest of the evening talking about a range of topics, including blogging and writing in general. He’s given me good advice throughout this whole blogging adventure, since he is a writer himself. Pretty much everything I know about writing I learned from him.
My mom got home from work after midnight (she’s a nurse) but she and I stayed up until 4 am talking and going through old photos of her and my grandparents and great-grandparents. I love looking at old photos, and there were a few I had never seen before. Since I manage a lot of my family’s ancestry information, it was good to be able to put faces to names.
On Thursday, I awoke early afternoon to the delicious smells of turkey and stuffing in the oven that can only mean it’s Thanksgiving! However, I was still so exhausted from my hospital adventure earlier in the week that I didn’t manage to drag myself out of bed until 2:30 pm. (I used to watch the Macy’s Thanksgiving Day Parade when I was younger, mainly to see the Garfield balloon, but now I value my sleep more!) But I had to get up because relatives were due to come over at 3 pm and they arrived right on time.
We had my Aunt Mary, Uncle Bob, and his mother Connie, who is 95 years old, sharp as a tack, and the sweetest elderly lady you will ever meet. I was a little embarrassed that I was in my pajamas, since the groin pain didn’t even really allow me to put jeans on, but no one cared; they all know I’ve been through some unbelievable crap this year.
Dinner was a tremendous success. My family has really gotten the whole gluten free thing down in the last four years since my celiac disease diagnosis. I had my own stuffing made with gluten free bread and my own bowl of gravy. We had ensured beforehand that the turkey was gluten free (it was farm fresh anyway, but as an FYI, many companies inject gluten-containing fillers to plump up the turkey, so you need to be careful if you can’t eat gluten.) David made the pumpkin pie with a gluten free crust and my mom made our dessert staple called Hydrox Dessert with gluten free chocolate sandwich cookies. No one could tell the difference!
After dinner, we engaged in the age-old pastime of watching football while trying not to sink into food comas. I usually don’t watch football, but it just felt right to watch it with my family on Thanksgiving.
Thursday really did a number on me in terms of social expenditure and spoons, because I woke up with a migraine on Friday. As a result, I was unable to go see The Nutcracker with my family, which disappointed me greatly, but it is what it is.
At least I was feeling well enough by evening, because our family members came back over, but this time with my cousin Ken, his wife Laura, and their 9-month old little girl Cecelia. This was actually my first time meeting Laura due to a confluence of circumstances, but we got along well right away. And this was my first time meeting CeCe as well. She was born prematurely in February, but is doing wonderfully now! She’s crawling all over the place and can pull herself to stand up. Holding her just felt so right. Maybe someday soon…
(Left: The look of a man who wants to be a daddy! Right: Ziggy watches curiously as CeCe plays with his crinkle ball)
Saturday we had to wait until The Game was finished before we headed back home. It went into double overtime and I thought my poor husband was going to have a stroke, but thankfully the Buckeyes came out on top! O-H! We didn’t leave until 4:30 pm, so it was almost dark, and ran into periods of heavy rain, but thank goodness it wasn’t snow. We made good time getting home, too!
Feeling very run down aside (I literally spent the whole weekend in my pajamas), it was a wonderful weekend. It was exactly what I needed to perk myself up. Especially when I realized that the last time we went out of town was in July…when we went to Atlanta for my surgery at the CEC. So even that trip was tainted by hospitals and surgery. So I desperately needed this trip. To see my family that loves me and cares for me, even though I don’t see them often. To see Boo and Ziggy (animals are very therapeutic.) Just to be back in my hometown with its familiarity. It did wonders for my mental health as well. I feel like I’ve broken through some barrier that was keeping me from being happy. Not that things are all sunshine and daisies, but I feel…different. In a good way.
And the blood will dry
Underneath my nails
And the wind will rise up
To fill my sails
So you can doubt
And you can hate
But I know, no matter what it takes
I’m coming home
I’m coming home
Tell the world I’m coming home
Let the rain wash away
All the pain of yesterday
I know my kingdom awaits
And they’ve forgiven my mistakes
I’m coming home
I’m coming home
Tell the world I’m coming…