The Last Shift

If you’ve been following my blog since before October 2016 or so, you might remember that I attempted to return to work on October 24th, six weeks after my brain surgery. You may also remember that it was a complete disaster and I have been unable to work since.

But since that was a one-off failure, I don’t count that day as my last day of work. The day that gets that designation in my book is June 10th.

That’s right. I haven’t really worked in a whole year. Hence the reason I don’t even count that day in October.

What happened on June 10, 2016 was a very ill-timed fluke. Continue reading “The Last Shift”

Is My Illness My Fault?

For me, 2016 was the year of the surgeries and bizarre diagnoses. Three surgeries, to be exact, spanning over a period of four months. Once the surgeries were over, I thought that once I had an adequate recovery period, I would be back to normal. I’d be able to return to work, from which I’d had to take an extended leave of absence, and I could put the entire year behind me as a gargantuan fluke.

But it was not to be. Almost exactly a month to the day after my third surgery, I started experiencing symptoms that very quickly led to a diagnosis of postural orthostatic tachycardia syndrome (POTS). The tachycardia (rapid heart rate), shortness of breath, and presyncope (near fainting) were being caused by moderate hypovolemia (testing revealed my blood volume to be 18% below normal) and severe venous pooling (35% of my blood volume was pooling in my lower extremities; this number should be 5-10% in a normal person with quick resolution within two to three heartbeats).

Why did this suddenly happen? POTS has been linked to certain autoimmune diseases (including celiac disease, just my luck) and has been noted to occur following such events as pregnancy and trauma. However, medical science does not yet know why POTS happens. So what was going on with me? Continue reading “Is My Illness My Fault?”

Give Your Heart a Break

IMG_1239One more time around the sun, one more time passing through National Infertility Awareness Week as an unintentionally childless woman. I guess you could say this is my third time.

It’s an understatement to say that a lot has gotten in the way of my attempts to become a mom.

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Ready for excision surgery!

In 2014, not long after we had starting trying to get pregnant, my battle with endometriosis took the forefront. Within a span of six months, I was hospitalized, diagnosed, and had two surgeries, one of which was out of state with an excision specialist. Then recovery began, and our efforts to get pregnant resumed in 2015.

Needless to say, I did not become pregnant in 2015, and we were baffled as to why not. Continue reading “Give Your Heart a Break”

In Which People I’ve Never Met Become My Friends

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. Although I can still recall during the last two or three years (of a six-year program) a few examples of downright deliberate cruelty perpetuated by young women I thought were my friends…

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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.

But what does this have to do with friendship?

Everything. Continue reading “In Which People I’ve Never Met Become My Friends”

“O, You of Little Faith…”

via Daily Prompt: Doubt

“…why did you doubt?”

Right now I’m full of doubt.

What a cliche beginning.

And yet, it is the truth.

I can’t predict the future. I don’t know what the Lord has in store for me. He’s started dropping hints again after a week’s silence following what happened just recently, which likely means something is going to happen again.

You doubt, don’t you? Let me tell you a story. Continue reading ““O, You of Little Faith…””

The I Dare You Tag

I found this fun-looking and thought-provoking tag over at bluchickenninja (you should totally check out her blog) and decided to tag myself! Anything to distract me from the daily grind of my myriad of chronic illnesses.

1. Which book has been on your shelves the longest?

Audition by Michael Shurtleff. It was gifted to me by my high school musical theater director when I graduated in 2004. She was devastated that I decided not to go into theater, but gave me the book in case I ever wanted to.

On the inside, she wrote, “Laura- this book is a jewel- my theatre ‘Bible.’ I know you’ll love it…and I know you’ll always find a way to be onstage…it’s in you and you’re too good not to. I’ll always believe in you! Love, Ran”

2. What is your current read, your last read and the book you’ll read next?

I have two current reads: Ravensbruck by Sarah Helm and The Silver Linings Playbook by Matthew Quick. My last read was When God Doesn’t Fix It by Laura Story. And what will I read next? Hmm…probably The Radleys by Matt Haig.

3. What book(s) did everyone like and you hated?

Ok, I know not everyone liked these, but far too many people did and it irks me. That would be the disaster known as the Twilight series. I can’t stand Bella and how she completely shuts down when Edward leaves and how she is completely reliant on him for pretty much everything. What a pathetic reaction, and not a representation of a real, healthy relationship, yet the author has convinced millions of teenage girls that that’s how love is and what every teenage girl should strive for. And Edward is just a little bratty jerk anyway.

4. Which book do you keep telling yourself you’ll read, but you probably won’t?

Les Miserables by Victor Hugo. I attempted to read it while I was doing the show when I was 16, but I didn’t get very far through “the brick” before I gave up.

5. Which book are you saving for “retirement”?

Probably Little Women by Louisa May Alcott. The movie is one of my favorites of all time, so I tried to read the book when I was 12 or 13 and just couldn’t get into it.

6. Last page: read it first or wait till the end?

Wait until the end! If I accidentally end up reading the last page (like if I’m checking to see how many pages the book has), I get very sad, because then why bother to keep reading if you know how it ends?

7. Acknowledgements: waste of ink and paper or interesting aside?

Kind of both. I always skim them to see if anything interesting catches my eye.

8. Which book character would you switch places with?

A Hogwarts student, most likely a Ravenclaw, since that’s the house I always seem to be sorted into.

9. Do you have a book that reminds you of something specific in your life?

img_0966One Million Lovely Letters by Jodi Ann Bickley. This is an absolutely beautiful book, “The inspiring true story of a young woman who survived a life-threatening illness and sends uplifting letters all around the world- a lifeline in her own darkest moments.” I read this book in February 2016 when I was beginning down a path of chronic illness that, four diagnoses later, shows no signs of slowing down in the diagnosis department. I was diagnosed with a brain tumor, a hernia, an aneurysm, and postural orthostatic tachycardia syndrome (POTS) and I may also have Ehlers-Danlos Syndrome (EDS). My life is far from a picnic, but this book reminds me of when it all began a year ago. Ok, now I want to read it again. Add it to my list!

10. Name a book you acquired in some interesting way.

See answer to number 13.

11. Have you ever given away a book for a special reason to a special person?

No, but I remember I loaned a book to my ex-boyfriend from high school and I never got it back.

12. Which book has been with you to the most places?

Probably Eyes Wide Open by Ted Dekker. I carried it back and forth in my work bag for ages, hoping to have some down time to read it. I brought it with me on our hike to the bottom of the Grand Canyon, where we stayed at Phantom Ranch. I think I brought it with me on our trip to the U.K. And I believe I ended up finishing it during a slow night shift at work about a year after I’d started it.

13. Any “required reading” you hated in high school that wasn’t so bad two years later?

Walden by Henry David Thoreau. Our English teacher was obsessed with Thoreau and it was the hardest unit to get through because he expected us to understand fully what we were reading and produce stellar essays from it. But since it was the first unit we did at the start of the school year (to show us what was expected of Advanced Placement English students), our class really bonded with each other and our teacher. When he was forced to retire at the end of the school year due to stupid politics, he knew no teacher after him would ever attempt to teach Thoreau, so he let us steal have the school’s copies of the books so they wouldn’t be thrown out. I still have my copy and treasure it.

14. What is the strangest item you’ve ever found in a book?

I don’t think I’ve ever found anything strange in a book, except maybe the name of the previous owner.

15. Used or brand new?

It depends on the condition. I adore used paperbacks, but prefer hardcovers to be brand new.

16. Have you ever read a Dan Brown?

No, and I really don’t intend to.

17. Have you ever seen a movie you liked better than the book?

The Lord of the Rings trilogy. Don’t get me wrong, Tolkien was a one-of-a-kind writer. His books are beautiful. But seeing the characters come to life in such a beautiful way is just breathtaking.

18. A book that NEVER should have been published.

Ethan Frome by Edith Wharton. Because really, who attempts suicide by sledding into a tree?

19. Have you ever read a book that’s made you hungry, cookbooks being excluded from this question?

Reading The Plum Tree by Ellen Marie Wiseman made me crave schnitzel and spaetzle because the book takes place in Germany during World War Two.

20. Who is the person whose book advice you’ll always take?

My friend Sara.

💛ribbonrx

Happy Endo-Versary!

Today is my two-year endo-versary! What the heck is that? It’s been two years to the day since I underwent excision surgery at the Center for Endometriosis Care (CEC) in Atlanta, by the awesome Dr. Sinervo!

You may be thinking, isn’t it kind of silly to celebrate the anniversary of a surgical procedure? In a word…no. Wouldn’t a patient in heart failure celebrate the anniversary of the day they received a heart transplant? That’s what it’s like for those of us with endometriosis. The day you have skilled excision (because not all excision is created equal) is like getting a new heart. It puts you back on track to living a normal life again. Perhaps that sounds overdramatic to many of you. But until you have experienced the level of disability and pain that endometriosis can cause, you won’t truly understand what it’s like to be freed from the chains of this disease. Continue reading “Happy Endo-Versary!”