Back at it.

We are two weeks into this new academic year, and let me tell you, it has been a little bit of a whirlwind.

Coming back after taking a semester off provided a lot of challenges. We discovered issues in my financial aid (being over-awarded a couple years ago in my post-bacc work and only now having that be brought up). Having a lot of input regarding my course schedule from my professors. Getting a new advisor, who happens to be our new department chair. And the simple fact that it has only been three — three — months since I had major surgery. (Hi. I’m kind of exhausted.)

Oh. And yeah. The big one: we changed my entire thesis focus on the second day of the semester.

My new advisor was concerned with my schedule, and a lot of professors had opinions on which courses I should be taking and what was deemed a good use of my time. I respect their opinions tremendously, but I was starting to get overwhelmed. It seemed like everyone wanted me to drop one of the classes I really wanted to take. At the time, this course had nothing to do with my thesis topic, so I can see exactly where they were coming from. But I was stubborn. A month or so earlier I was having to justify the importance of my internship, and here I was defending a methods course for pretty much the same reason: to prepare me for a job, not a PhD. So after talking with my advisor, she pointed out that it seems pretty obvious that museum and museum related things are my passion — so why was that not my thesis focus?

Our department had essentially got rid of our museum program, so I was always just told we don’t do museum studies here. And we still technically don’t. But I had to make a choice: food studies or museums. When I finally was honest with myself, the answer was easy. It was my love of museums that brought me to this field, and as fun as a PhD sounds, I was always looking at museum jobs first.

We’re still working on the specifics of my research focus, but it’s coming together. It’s been this huge relief. As my mentor puts it, I’ve got a new old thesis now.

It’s good to be back on campus, even despite any frustrations because honestly they’re small and inconsequential. I’m excited about getting started on my new thesis work. I’m loving my internship. It’s great being back with my professors, and my new advisor is just a good fit for me. The faculty, department staff, and even the campus administration have all just been so supportive and helpful in my return. I’m ready to get this done. I’m not going to let anyone or anything derail me from this.

Kind of crazy to believe that at this point next year I should have that fancy piece of paper in my hands and be headed towards a new career.

Currently…

Feeling: Super tired and a little sick. Ate something that didn’t agree or some sort of weird summer stomach bug hit me… But other than that… I’ve hit 2-months post-hysterectomy. And in that regard? I. feel. amazing. No endo pain for 2 months? What’s that? I’d love it if the fatigue would go away for good. It’s a holdover from the surgery. But it’ll still another 4 months, at least, until my body is completely recovered from all of this. Between the surgery and just years and years of endo, there’s been a lot of trauma in my body. I just have to be patient with it while I heal.

Watching: On Netflix – Father Brown. On Hulu – Miranda. And of course, to no one’s surprise, I’m still spending most of my day on Twitch with friends. One friend streams about 10 hours a day on most weekdays, so I’m there a lot. Then I’ve got my Canadian friends who stream intermittently. My west coast dear friend, who keeps me up late at night so I can hangout with her. And then just a handful of other awesome people and friends that I try to catch whenever I can. There have definitely been times where I’ve had 4-5 different streams open at one. (Thank you, multi-twitch sites, for existing.)

Playing: I’ve been trying to save Breath of the Wild for streams, but I’m still going pretty decently at it. Also doing a lot of Stardew Valley now. I’m in my second year, have 4 chickens, 4 cows… and I’ve named them all for Twitch friends. We’re also doing some Golf With Friends in the evenings every so often. It’s a lot of yelling and chaos and I love every minute.

Listening To: Ok, so ignore the title… but the “In need of a hug” station on Google Play Music. Was kind of feeling meh one night, and gave it a go (remembering that I’d listened to it a long time ago and seemed to like it then)… and yeah, I just really like the artists they have on there. I do end up getting a lot of repetition on this playlist, but for now I’m ok with that.

Reading: Goodbye, Vitamin by Rachel Khong. Thanks to Kate, I signed up for Book of the Month Club… and so far I’m loving my picks. This one is broken up into small journal entries, so it really fits into my life right now. (And yes, that is a referral link so we both get goodies when you sign up.)

Working on: papers that should have been done a while ago. It’s been kind of hard getting myself to sit and work on them. I think half the issue is I’ve been stuck in my apartment since February… so this is not a place of focus or productivity. Now that my car’s working again (which also was down since February), I can head out and maybe get some work done elsewhere… However, my budget is a little borked because of my fall roommate changing her move in date twice now. (I get things come up, I don’t fault her for that… but now I have 2 months where I was expecting to split rent that I’ve had to pay for by myself.)

Thinking about: all the things I want to do with my stream!* Pre-my roommate changing her move-in date again, I bought an elgato game capture and a second monitor for my laptop. I love having the extra screen space. It’s definitely helping for a lot of things. However, now I want yet another monitor, another camera, a nice mic, new headphones, a better desk chair, and of course, a dedicated streaming/gaming PC. (Honestly, the PC would be top priority, but holy crap those things cost even more than my Mac did!)

Craving: motivation. I need to get some stuff done. But yeah. No can focus.

Looking forward to: getting my office set up on campus. Also working on events with some Twitch friends. Little over a week ago a friend and I hosted a Player Unknown’s Battlegrounds tournament. It was a little stressful at times, but it was so much fun. Now we’re looking at doing more events and I’m excited to where that’s going.

Making me happy: boys. lol. I mean, it’s more than that. But I just have to giggle that not really giving any time or all that much thought or interest in a particular person for like 3-5 years**, I now have two crushes. One of them knows. We talked recently and discussed how much we enjoy flirting with each other, but yeah, I really don’t think anything is actually going to come of any of this. There’s just a lot of other factors involved, and yeah, as much as any of that could be fun… realistically we’ll probably just stay friends who flirt a lot. Frankly it’s been a nice distraction from every thing else. As for the other one? Not sure if he knows. I’ve just sort of been letting that one happen slowly. If an occasion comes up where it would feel ok to just say “hey, I like you,” then maybe I will. But for now, I’m ok with him just being an attractive friend. They’re both great guys.

And quite honestly, as much as the crushes amuse me… It’s my Twitch Fam that’s really been making me happy. After 20SB died out — and ok, yeah, I withdrew before it actually closed — I’d been kind of sad about not having my community. I tried other blogger groups and stuff, but nothing really clicked as much as I wanted. But my twitch group? Those are my people. My core group is small, but I’m ok with that. They are people I care about, and people who care about me. A few of us have been talking about doing some trips together. There’s talks of hockey games, airsoft weekends, and even Vegas.

How’s summer going for everyone so far?

*I made Twitch Affiliate a few weeks ago. I would really love to find a way to increase the amount of streams I do, but I’m a little nervous about that with school coming up. I just need to figure out my schedule and try to stick with that.
**For real though, yeah.. it’s been a real long time before I’ve actually gotten excited about a guy. And to suddenly be excited about two different guys? Yeah… thanks universe. But yay for having decent AND attractive guys in my life?

Recovery Updates: Or, how I ended up in emergency surgery last week…

Guys. … I suck at recovery.

I thought I was doing all right. I thought I had slowed down, cut back on doing everything and stopped bending as much… I got a big shot of reality and NOPE last week, however.

We’re not exactly sure what happened. I was watching netflix, stood up, and (ok maybe it starts getting TMI), but it felt like I peed myself. So I went to the bathroom, maybe I just wasn’t listening to my bladder and it was fuller than I thought. However… that wasn’t the case. (If pee wasn’t TMI for you before, this next part might be. And I get that, and I’m 100% ok if you’d rather just check out the TMI;DR insta version or even just this video of kittens.)

It was blood.

This wasn’t just typical healing up spotting like to be expected. It was nonstop, with clots. I called my mom, explained that I needed to go to the ER, then went to find new clothes to wear. I had almost filled an entire pad in that time, so decided to spend the rest of the time waiting for my mom on the toilet. It wasn’t painful, but it wasn’t necessarily comfortable either. And I’m pretty sure I was in shock a little, because I was way calmer than I probably should have been.

The ER was busy — as, sadly, our local ER tends to be when you actually need it. As we sat and waited, we overheard that people had been waiting hours. I was actively bleeding, worse when I was standing, and already starting to feel a little light headed at times. Thankfully (for me), I jumped the line and got in somewhat quickly given how busy they were. I kind of felt bad for everyone else waiting — like the pregnant lady who had a small metal splinter in her foot. Anyway. I got in, a nurse checked in on me, then a medical assistant. The room was badly laid out and didn’t have a stirrup bed, so my exam was painful and awkward. More so given the still constant bleeding and clotting.

My doctor was out, so they had to call in the on-call OBGYN specialist from his office. She got me on a stirrup bed and confirmed what the MA thought — I had ripped/popped a suture from my hysterectomy. They removed several golf ball sized clots. It was a mess and just gross. There were two options: try to stitch me up right there in the room, or send me to emergency surgery. Because of the amount of blood — my new doctor called it a “waterfall” of blood — stitching up in the room was not an option. (Which, so grateful because that did not sound appealing at all.)

From the time I started bleeding until I got into the OR, it had been about 4 hours. Four hours of actively bleeding and going through 3-4 or more pads an hour (though we eventually gave up changing them). The surgery was about maybe 2 hours. At least from when I went in until I woke up in recovery. While I woke up easier this time, but was in a lot of pain. However, like last time, I had to pee like crazy. But this time they had taken out my catheter. No matter how I tried, I could not pee. Finally in my observation room, my nurse set me up enough that I could. But I was still calling her every 10-20 minutes. So we ditched the bedpans and I have never been that happy to see or use a real toilet. After that and losing the packing, I was actually feeling pretty good given everything that had just happened.

Since getting home, most of my pain has been muscle and joint pain. Felt like I got hit by a bus. I also had (and still have) a sore throat from having to have a breathing tube again. Since this surgery was unplanned, it meant no prep — I had food in my system from lunch… They had to apply a little pressure to my throat to keep me from essentially getting food in my lungs. It’s one of the last things I remember before the anesthesia knocked me out.

I wish I could say everything has been going peachy since then. I came home very “no bending, no doing thing” … and then just days later I’m back doing things like before I ripped my stitches. Rather than trying to decide on something else to eat, I still reach for the pan in dishwasher I’m not supposed to be reaching for. Rather than just letting things wait, I reorganized the linen closet to make room for all the stuff from the bathroom that no longer has a place thanks to getting a newer (and bigger) water heater in the bathroom closet. “It’s just plastic shopping bags,” I told myself. But it was a whole trash bag full of shopping bags and that’s a lot of bending. The hardest thing is the cats. The roommates were never perfect about remembering to check their bowls, or understanding the nuances of my cats not liking crumbs and thus thinking a bowl is empty even when it doesn’t appear to be. Maybe I could let the other things go, but it’s hard making my cats wait until I could ask for help getting them fed.

It’s sort of this combination of pride and distrust. I can’t bring myself to just ask someone else to keep doing all this stuff for me day in and day out. This feeling of things out of place has such a hold on me that I can’t just let things wait until I’m healed or even ask if someone else can take care of it… And I want to trust that my roommate (I’ve only got one now), would help me with anything I ask… But… She’s busy and has her own things going on, too… And maybe I’m just out of sorts with anxiety, but after a while the joking sighs or “fine/whatever/I guess I’ll help”-s… well.. I start worrying that maybe she is tired of helping. I don’t want to be a burden. But I also know I just should — can’t — be doing stuff like this. If I keep this up, I’m going to end up hurting myself or ripping my stitches again.

I just wish the risk of that was enough to get myself out of my own head and just stop for the next few weeks. No matter how much I tell myself to stop doing things… it’s like I can’t. But I’m going to have to… somehow… I’ve got to let myself heal.

How are birthdays supposed to go again?

Do I blog birthdays? How is this all supposed to go again? Does this mean I’m getting old?

Tuesday was my birthday, and to celebrate turning 33… I did pretty much nothing.

Ok, that’s not 100% true, but still. This was pretty much one of the most low-key (ie, kind of boring) birthdays I’ve had in recent memory. So, yeah, the “not good luck” with birthdays thing is one thing… This wasn’t that. We just didn’t really plan anything this year. I got texts or calls from all of my parents, and all but one of my siblings. I spent the day on Twitch watching video games, watched the Nintendo E3 spotlight, and then ended the night ordering a pizza. I got the typical facebook messages, and a few gaming friends sent some games. Went to bed and that was it.

The Saturday before, though, my dad, stepmom, brother & his girlfriend, three nieces, and three of my four sisters took me out to eat. (And if you’re counting, including myself, that’s 11 people.) Nothing fancy, and we didn’t even bug the waitstaff to get me a free dessert at the cost of mildly embarrassing singing. Afterward we all came back to my apartment, to my roommates’ surprise. My dad and brother fixed my vaccuum. The twins (3 1/2 years old) bombarded my roommates. And my cats hid the entire time.

And that’s been it in regards to any “celebrating.” My gram sent over a cake — a cherry & pineapple cake with walnuts and coconut (tasted good, but… not my thing). Both of my roommates forgot until sometime late in the evening — prompted mainly because I was getting a lot of texts and phone calls. “Wow, you’re popular tonight.” “Yeah, I wonder why…” 

My mom and I will still go out to eat, maybe tonight or tomorrow. And that’ll basically conclude any attempts at “birthday-ing.” The last two years, I’ve gone out to my favorite Chinese place for dumplings. First with my family, then the next year with friends from school. Not sure if I’ll get dumplings this year — though, boy do I love them! But if it’s just going to be my mom and I? I might go for steak maybe. Or maybe the good Thai place. Regardless, I want to stop by the local bakery and get myself either a massive cupcake or a maple bacon donut.

Because no matter how low-key a birthday is… you need some sort of pastry to celebrate for it to be official.

* I also got some Halo Top birthday cake ice cream. Which was just ok. Didn’t get a big cake-y taste… also, is it supposed to have sprinkles or something in it? I’ve seen 2.

** Also, with this being a Recovery Birthday, the low-key thing isn’t really a surprise. But yeah. Still kind of boring.

How to Survive a Hysterectomy

Important disclaimer and such: I am in no way a medical professional and none of this should ever replace actual medical information. Pretty sure you all already know that, but just putting it out there.

One week ago today, I was rolled into an operating room and woke up with one less internal organ than I’d been born with. As you know, I’ve been dealing with endometriosis for at least 7 years now… Likely longer given that the average time for diagnosis from onset of symptoms is about a decade. Medications and lifestyle changes weren’t really working, and I was sort of running out of options there. (The next level of medication would likely be Lupron, which induces a false menopause. No thank you.) Oh. And also there’s the little matter that my uterus itself was glued* via adhesions to my intestines. So that’s a fun little complication. Given everything going on, something had to go. #GoodbyeUterus 

I had what is called a LAVH — or where they inflate your belly to a giant beach ball, put a few holes in it*, then still pull your baby cooker out through your lady bits and sew everything up. Except the holes, those get glue. It went successfully. There were “extensive” adhesions between the uterus and colon, and apparently also some adhesions between the uterus and the bladder. I got to keep my ovaries and tubes — which as a still young 30-something, neither my doctor nor I were interested in putting me through menopause yet.

Now that I’m a week out of all of this, I’ve got some thoughts/tips on dealing with a situation such as this…

Pre-Op

» The anxiety really is one of the worst parts. For me, getting as much information as I could helped. As well as completely distracting myself (hello 90 hours of Breath of the Wild!).

» Join Hystersisters. While the forum design reminds me of early 2000s with the glitter emotes and all, it is a very good resource for information. Of course, take it all with a little caution, these aren’t medical professionals, just a massive community of thousands of women who’ve had all types of hysterectomies for any and all reasons. I did not find “my tribe” or make any new BFFs from the site, but have appreciated the support. Just be prepared for some women to come off all “well, I’ve had this and now I’m the expert.” I had someone try to educate me on endometriosis despite the fact that she’s never had it.

» Prep the house. For real. You can’t do much after the surgery… so make sure your family, friends, roommate, whomever is on board with taking care of everything else for you. My roommates knew before they moved in that this surgery was being planned and they’d have to spend a few weeks doing all the house work and taking care of the cats. But on top of that, get your spaces set up for your recovery. For me, that’s my bed. Make sure you have enough room for all your stuff (I even had a tray table on the bed for the first 4 days so stuff was in easy reach) and you have plenty of pillows and blankets.

» If you don’t have someone to cook for you, start freezing meals for your first week or so of recovery. I made a lot of soups and stews — granted, two of them didn’t survive — and it makes it easier for my roommate to just take something and heat it up for me rather than have to cook something for me. Go light on salt and grease, and watch the gassy foods. Veggie noodle soup was my favorite just coming home.

» Write down any questions you have for your doctor. Also take notes during the pre-op visits.

At the hospital/Observation

» You’ll spend most of your time pre-surgery having various nurses and doctors coming in to ask you questions and take vitals and hook you up to things. Be completely honest with all of them. Before you know it, they’ll wheel you into the OR, hook you up to more things, and then tell you “ok so in 20 seconds this is going to kick in” and everything will go completely black.

» You may do or say weird things as you come out of anesthesia and start to wake up.  One of the first things I asked about was if I could pee or if I was cathed and could pee… Then the next time I woke up I asked it if was all lap or not — since there was a chance they may have had to switch to an abdominal surgery. Then mostly I was just looking back and forth trying to wake myself up. I’m sure I looked strange, but they’ve probably seen and dealt with stranger.

» Your overnight bag. Ok. So some women go home the same day, others, like me, go home the next, and still some stay for a few days. It depends on the type of procedure and the intensity of what’s going on inside you that they need to remove. I way overpacked. I brought a laptop, iPad, chargers, notebooks, slippers, extra sports bras & underwear, toiletries, slippers, a flannel overshirt, a book… All I used was my cell phone and my charger. (And my insurance & ID cards.) My room had a tv and frankly, if I wasn’t watching HGTV marathons I was talking with visiting family or sleeping.

» You may puke. Make sure the vomit bag is within reach. Between the anesthesia, empty stomach, pain killers, and sweet beverages… yeah… I couldn’t keep things down for most of that first day out of surgery. I think I was more bummed about this because I couldn’t have the rest of my cherry Italian ice (which is considered clear liquid diet approved).

» Use that call button. When I could finally have real food, the orderly put it too far away on my table, and so I stupidly reach and pulled for it to be closer. Bad idea.

» The packing (or as my doctor called it, “the 9-foot tampon”) is the worst. The catheter isn’t fun either, but it helps not having to get up all the time to pee. (And yes, you’ll have to pee all the time. You just won’t really notice because of the catheter. I ask my nurse about this, and she looks over and goes “you’re peeing right now.”)

» You’re supposed to be able to pass gas, pee, and walk on your own before they send you home. I made one bathroom trip and the nurse currently on duty started my discharge papers. My dad made a comment that I looked nervous about all this. YEP. I wasn’t sure I was actually ready yet.

Recovery at Home

» FYI: you use your ab muscles for everything. Everything. They just cut into them, so everything is going to hurt now. Try your best to find a comfy spot and stay there.

» That first poop is going to hurt a lot. Some women compare it to child birth. Not even joking. It’ll probably be a day or three before your first BM, so start some stool softeners. TMI? Well, you just had uterus ripped out of you so… Oh. And yeah. Be prepared to just fart a lot. Gas-X will be your friend. Don’t hold them in.

» Ask for help. I did too much the first few days and regret it. Mentally you’ll feel ready to do everything. Heck, you’ll likely be a little bored, too. But don’t. Let someone else. If people offer to help, let them. Especially when it comes to food. It was a little weird having to depend on my 20-something year old roommates to do everything… but we got over it.

» USE YOUR SPIROMETER. It’s this annoying little breathing exercise thing, but it’s super important for helping with all that trapped gas as well as making sure you don’t get pneumonia. If the hospital didn’t give you one, just be sure to take long, deep breaths.

» Have nightgowns/sleep shirts you like. I slept in my jersey cotton dress for the first two days after surgery. Then finally switched to a stretched out tshirt. Finally my mom bought me a Batman night shirt.

» If you don’t get extra mesh underwear from the hospital (or buy some online), be sure to have larger than your normal sized underwear at home. Make sure the band doesn’t rub on your incisions. Also, apparently you can hand-wash the mesh ones they give you, so maybe don’t just throw them away like I did.

» No matter how much you may want to: do not mess with the surgical glue. I picked off a couple drops that were nowhere near an incision — even the nurses laughed at how messy they were with some of it — but that was it. It’s supposed to dissolve eventually. No scrubbing in the shower either — which is maybe the harder thing to remember.

» If you’re not used to sleeping on your back… Sorry. I’m a side and stomach sleeper. This has not been easy for me. Thankfully I’m too drugged up to care.

» Take and track your pain meds. I’m using an app called Medisafe. It’s not perfect (why I’m not linking them), but it is helping. I want it to be where I just set it to “every X hours” so once I take a pill it’ll let me know when it’s ok to take the next, but I have to set up specific times. Which works ok as long as you’re thinking straight when you set them up.

» Call your doctor’s office if you need to. It’s best they know what’s going on if you have a concern and also they’ll know what to do. Even on weekends, there’s a doctor on call.

» REST. It’s really hard to not do stuff. But your job is to heal. It’s not to worry about the litter box, the trash, the dishes, or the vacuum that someone accidentally broke. REST.

People will think you’re getting so much better before you really are. Which is especially true if you’re like me and don’t always show your physical pain emotionally. One of the roommates commented on day 2 or 3 of my recovery, “Oh, you look like you’re feeling really well!” I laughed. Nope. This hurts. Some of the hyster-sites suggest even when you start to feel a little better, keep dressing like you aren’t — because apparently once you look OK, everyone will treat you like you’re OK.

Most importantly: you don’t have to share any details of this procedure that you don’t want to. Of course, be honest with your doctors and nurses, but you choose to whom and with what information you want to give out. And if you don’t want them to talk about your stuff with others, tell them. There’s nothing wrong or shameful about having a hysterectomy (or any surgery), but it’s your body and your choice.

Overall, the recovery is going well. Yes, I still hurt and get sharp bouts of pain… but overall it’s been well. Especially now that I’m letting myself just rest. Only one incident where one of the cats walked across my incisions, but other than that they, too, have been troopers.

One week down, five more to go.

*My first laparoscopy notes used the words “densely adhered.”
*I was told 3 holes, like my first laparoscopic surgery.. but woke up with 5. The adhesions were a little more intensive than they had first thought.

Currently… (the “apparently I am a curmudgeon and hermit” addition)

Feeling: Like crap. And tired. I was supposed to get my last (as in, also last ever) Depo shot last week. However, I wasn’t able to work out a ride to the pharmacy for a while, and when I did there were at least 5 people waiting inside and 4 cars lined up at the drive through. So I said screw it I’m not dealing with this, because honestly, at the time, the fatigue of trying to figure out where the end of the “line” was and then waiting through all that was more than I could deal with at the moment. (Also, CVS, create a real queue, without guidance people swarm and no one knows where the real end is.)

ALSO: feeling extra hermity. Both of my summer roommates have moved in and I’m getting all “OMG MY SPAACCEE” in my head. Between just stuff and more laptops all over the house and the kitchen table being used as a massive storage self for personal belongings… and then sharing my main desk with another person… I’m trying to breath and just remind myself: it doesn’t matter. And it really doesn’t. If I want to use a space, I can (and do) just move their stuff — heck, I’ll even ask them if they’re around. But yeah. I’m old and stuck in my ways, so this is all an adjustment for me. But not a terrible adjustment.

Watching: Twitch. I’m pretty much on twitch for like 10 hours a day most days. But at least I feel social while I’m watching other people die in video games.

Playing: Breath of the Wild. Way more on this later.

Listening To: loud new neighbors. A new neighbor moved in upstairs across the hall. She likes her stereo and bass. And also has a dog that barks for hours and hours. Hopefully, the dog (and owner) will settle in and be less loud.

Reading: twitter headlines like whoa. I’ve been too tired to continue any actual book reading, but hoping that can be something during recovery. So likely the night before the surgery, I’ll find something from my library’s digital loans and go for some easy reading while I sit and rest.

Working on: all my pre- and post-op prep! I have my actually pre-op visit on Wednesday, so I’ll actually get all the details then. But until then, I’m reading things on hystersisters on their pre-op & recovery prep, and also making a massive list of questions to ask my doctor. I want to make sure I get as much info as possible just so I can get through all of this as well as possible. Also, sometimes knowing too much can stress people out, but for me it’s actually reassuring to know what to expect going in.

Thinking about: the mess of our government “leadership” and not also trying not to think about it at all. I think we’re all doing that… The whole age difference thing between me and my roommates also keeps crossing my mind. We are getting along and stuff, but a lot of anything that gives me pause is typically because I’ve had years and years of experience doing the roommate thing and doing the adult thing, and they have not. And sometimes it’s very apparent. And as I mentioned above, none of it is really a big deal… and a lot of it is that yes, I am indeed used to things being a certain way (mine), but yeah. Some of it is they things they complain about I’ve just been done with and/or over for a while, or just aren’t issues for me. Young kids with their energy and lack of experience.

Craving: Salty savory things. And sleep. I’d like more sleep. And less pain. But that should hopefully be coming soon.

Looking forward to: seeing my brother and his family again before my surgery. They don’t live far away, but the lack of car means I don’t get out to see them much right now. I won’t have as much energy and strength to really play with the nieces, but I want to get as much toddler & pre-teen hugs as I can before all this happens and I don’t see them for almost the rest of the summer.

Making me happy: organizing things. Yes, I, apparently, am one of those people. Not long after my returning roommate moved in, I went through and reorganized the entire fridge and all the stuff she just loaded into it. Thankfully, she knows me well, so she knew this was coming. And even confessed that though she told me she’d go through and clean it all up, she was happy that I did it all. “How. How did you do this?” What can I say, I have a special gift. And that gift is knowing exactly where I want things to be.

ALSO: the big one… All my internet friends who have done amazing things for me this past month. I’ve been working on a thank you post for them, which hopefully I can finish this upcoming week.

So. What’s been going on with you? Enjoying Spring?

Saying Goodbye to My Uterus: it’s really happening

I’ve been looking at this blank screen for hours. And frankly I’ve been trying to figure out how I would write this post for months now. Regardless, in three weeks, I’ll be having a hysterectomy.

None of it feels real at the moment. It completely hasn’t sunk it yet. This was kind of a long time coming, though. From 2013, where I had my laparoscopy and myomectomy, to 2010 when I was hospitalized for under a week for severe abdominal pain and the word “endometriosis” entered into my life, and all the way back to my freshman year of undergrad (2003/2004) where my cramps became intolerable and I started birth control in an attempt to stabilize them.

Since the laparoscopy, the idea of a hysterectomy was sort of thrown around here and there — but only as a last ditch effort. After starting school again, I knew I wanted a more aggressive approach to treating my endometriosis, which Depo Provera had been a part of, but I hadn’t really known how any of it was going to look. Fast forward to last summer where my abdominal pain sent me to the ER a couple of times… Laying in the bed, I looked over at my mom — I’m not sure who brought it up first, but that was when we decided that maybe a hysterectomy might be something I needed to consider.

After finally getting insurance through the state at the beginning of the year (which was also after 12 denial letters from last year), I spent most of my energy trying to meet with a new doctor, dealing with that frustration and getting pushed off to specialists, and just waiting and struggling to get any information and details from him. Then suddenly, after what felt like a pointless meeting with a general surgeon who basically only told me he needed to speak to my doctor and would call me later, I received a phone call Monday morning from my doctor’s office telling me we had a surgery date scheduled.

It’s real now. It’s happening. At the end of the month, I’m saying goodbye to my uterus.

There are so many emotions tangled up in all of this, that I’ve mostly resorted to doing anything I can to avoid thinking about it. A lot of people are happy for me, including my stepmom who also suffers from endometriosis. Happy to see a chance for me to not be in pain any more. My mom is supportive, however, I can tell she’s been thinking about some of the things on my mind.

This isn’t just my appendix or spleen we’re removing. I know I can live without it, but it does mean major changes for my life. This is a door closing. I’m never going to get pregnant or give birth. My feelings and thoughts are just all over the place. I’ve known for a while that I wanted to foster and/or adopt. More recently, I’ve realized that I just don’t know how I feel about infants. They’re squishy little undeveloped humans, and I’m not sure I could really handle that, especially not on my own. However, I don’t know if maybe I’m just telling myself that because I know it’s no longer an option for me. On top of all of this, I’m barely in my 30s and also incredibly single… I hate admitting it, but I feel like it might be harder now to actually find someone now that I can’t bare kids. This is where I tend to hear the line of “well maybe you’ll meet a divorcee or widower who already has kids!” While I’m not necessarily opposed to that, it has it’s own complications. And it’s not like that’s something I’m going to explicitly seek out or something.

I’m saying goodbye to something I’m not even sure I ever wanted. I thought I did for so long. It’s just the narrative you grow up with: get married, have kids. While society is getting better at accepting “non-traditional” families… there is still this overwhelming notion that a woman’s worth is tied up in her ability to be a good wife and mother. And those two ideas are majorly tied together — to be a good wife you need to be a mother, and to be a good mother you need to be a wife… It’s a circle of misogynistic crap, really, but I’d be lying if I said it didn’t weigh on my thoughts. I’ve talked about it before, but having a “broken uterus” sometimes makes me feel like a broken woman. Getting rid of the organ? Definitely isn’t helping that.

However, I’m trying to focus on the good. I’ve always wanted to adopt, so it’s not like I have no means of becoming a mom if I so choose to do so. Ideally, the right spouse for me won’t be deterred by inability to provide kids via my own body. It’s also 2017 and we’re finally having the discussion that body parts do not define womanhood. And most importantly: I finally will get a chance at getting my life back. My endometriosis has taken a lot from me — from the endless days of just feeling like crap, to jobs, to school. Heck, it’s even effected friendships. I know that a hysterectomy is not a cure in any means for endometriosis. I even know that the adhesions still might grow back. But this may give me a fighting chance that nothing else so far has done. That has to be worth something.

Currently…

Apparently I haven’t done a “currently” post in a long time. Though, as typically, it doesn’t feel like much is going on in my life, but there is a constant flow of many moving parts.

*Thanks to Lacey for the realization that bitmoji are available on chrome, and also piquing my curiosity to create myself in an adorable cartoon emoji.

Feeling: Tired. Sore. My depression is something I’ve had to actively deal with more so than normal recently. I kind of miss seeing my therapist, as I think she’d be able to help me focus on some actions plans to keep me focused… but since my counseling was through the university, I can’t use the service since I withdrew from the semester. I have no idea if my state insurance covers mental health, it’s something I should definitely check into.

Watching: A LOT. With all this free time I’ve had on my hands, combined with the fact that I’ve kind of felt like crap since mid-January, I’ve watched a lot of shows. I’ve gone through almost every single episode of Top Chef (which I wouldn’t necessarily recommend watching foods shows when you have to fast for medical testing). I’ve caught up on Survivor, and I think Amazing Race. Did a few Gordon Ramsey things. Finished off Lucifer. Started in on Outback Truckers and Escape to the Countryside… Just last night I started The Librarians. It’s a really dumb show. Sort of like it’s trying to be a mix of Doctor Who, Buffy, and Warehouse 13. Sometimes you just need a dumb show.

Playing: Maybe too much Sims 4. I got it when it was half off. I have no idea how many hours I’ve put in, but I’m on my third household and I’ve got an excess of $250K, upgraded pretty much every single thing, and have done I have no idea how many aspirations. Basically I could care less about the relationships, I just want to build houses.

Listening To: a few podcasts. It’s mostly during my shower, but I’ve been trying to make time in the day to just sit and listen. Right now it’s basically Code Switch and See Something Say Something. I check in with Hidden Brain, Lore, and The Sporkful every so often. I also started S-Town. It’s great, but with only a handful of episodes, I’m taking my time with it. Also, I still find it hard to commit to any podcast that’s longer than half an hour… Maybe when I can get myself back into a workout routine, I’ll use the podcasts as a timer or something. This way I can knock out some of those longer podcasts, while also trying to get my body back on track with the healing and wellness thing.

Reading: The Mushroom at the End of the World by Anna Lowenhaupt Tsing. It was assigned for my theory class, and though I’m no longer in any classes right now, I’ve been eying this book for a while. It’s a book on interdependency, precarity, and capitalism — so not necessarily light reading. But it is really fascinating and I’m enjoying it. I was hoping with all this free time I’d be reading more, especially keeping up with my literary review for my thesis… but… that hasn’t been the case. (As you can see from the “watching” section.) I think after all the academic reading from the past year, I’ve just needed a break. Hopefully soon I’ll get back into the habit.

Working on: finishing my Life Journal project. I’ve been working on this for over a month, trying to create a bullet journal planner system that really fits my needs… and then I decided to share it online. I don’t expect it to be anything big, but I am proud of it and excited to use it.

Thinking about: how I’m going to make ends meet this summer. I know it’s a faux pas to talk about money, but yeah, I’m in (another) tight spot. It’s part of the reason I put my journal project online. Thankfully my state insurance is covering my healthcare costs… and I’ll have roommates for about a month this summer. However, I’ve got car repairs to deal with on top of just my normal costs of living. But that’s just something that might have to wait until I’m back on my feet again. The medical stuff is moving forward, so I can hopefully get a job soon after that. Just, well, something within walking distance for now. But if I’m being 100% honest, I’m not sure how I’m going to make it this time.

Craving: Peace.

Looking forward to: getting all this medical stuff taken care of! It’s been a little frustrating feel like I’m not getting clear communication from my doctor.. but thankfully his nursing staff is great and patient with me. We did some testing and whatnot early in the month to rule out some GI issues — hence the fasting. Thankfully I do not have to do that all again for another 10 years. Next week, I speak with a surgeon for an evaluation and consult. After that… well, hopefully the surgery. It’s slowly (and sometimes not so slowly) sinking in what all of this means for me… but, I’m just ready to not feel sick or in pain any more.

Making me happy: experimenting with recipes and my internet friends. It’s still odd to me that in 2017, some people (ie. my family) don’t understand that internet friends are real friends. I mean, I’ve never necessarily been good at the close friendship thing, but I’d like to think I have a number of friends. People I can talk to about life, joke around with, and just in general enjoy spending time with — even if it’s all done in pixels. And of course all the cooking… I haven’t found a food community yet, but I am just having fun posting on instagram. Oh, and also eating all the foods.

So. What’s been going on with you guys?

Where resting had tricked me into thinking I’m healthier than I am

One of the deceptive things about spending all my time at home is that it makes me feel like I’m doing pretty well, health-wise. Let’s face it, I’m not pushing myself each day and letting my body get much needed rest.

However, when I finally get out and try to do something? I’m reminded pretty quickly that I’m not back at 100%. I’m still sick. Things still hurt. And wow am I tired.

Last week was one of those weeks. Actually, sort of the last two weeks. First I had my niece for 3 days during the last part of her spring break. That part wasn’t too bad. I helped her start some cooking skills, and mostly she just watched netflix or played games. However after that? Last week my dad and family came down, partially to take care of some business stuff of my grandma’s, but mostly because sister #3 had scheduled a campus visit. And because I’m attending (or well… whatever), I somehow volunteered myself to do the tour with her.

I surprisingly made it through the hour sale pitch and 90-minute walking tour without much of a problems. Even a few flights of stairs, too. After lunch, though, we popped over to the Anthropology department — my old home — and hung out for a while before listening to one of my colleagues give his non-thesis project defense. During his presentation I started feeling uncomfortable. By the time we get back to my brother’s house, where the rest of the family was staying/hanging out, I was tired. But the nieces were being adorable with their bikes, so I pushed through it.

Dinner is really where it went downhill. The chairs weren’t that comfortable, but I could manage some. Until one of the twins decided she HAD to be with me and sit on my lap for the rest of the evening. She’s only 3-and-half, so she’s not that big at all, but the added pressure on my already tired legs was a bit much. Back at my brother’s house, my little koala-niece wouldn’t let me go home. I had to come inside with her — and let me tell you, toddlers have really strong grips. I made it to the living room, sat down, and cried. It felt like things were tearing. Sadly this is a pain I’m used to.

I did make it home, thankfully. Though I sort of blanked out on the interstate and had to really concentrate to make sure I didn’t miss my exit.* As soon as I was inside, I checked in with my family to let them know I made it, then took pain meds and passed out in bed. I was pretty much out of it and moving slowly for the next couple of days. It’s been a week now since the tour, and my lower back and hips are still feeling pretty sore. Though, some of that is also because my mattress needs flipping. But that’s neither here nor there.

All this time off has sort of been hard in some ways. The rest has been very nice. But it makes me feel like I’m well and and healthy, and… I’m not so much. Which does do a number on your self-esteem. I’m almost 33 and a 10k-step walking day took me out for 2 days. I think part of this is also hard because the weeks before I started getting sick again in January, I was working out 2-3 days a week and feeling great. It’s like something just flipped a switch and suddenly I’ve got this weak, frail body again. Hopefully soon I’ll get some information from my doctor about what our next steps are… I’m ready to get on this path to rebuild.

*If you remember correctly, my car isn’t driveable right now… My brother lent me his winter car. As much as I’m grateful for it, let’s just say it really makes me miss my little car. 

Cooking my way through depression

With everything that’s been going on — leaving school, not working, car broken down, health problems — it’s not really surprising that I’m not doing well mentally or emotionally. There’s a lot going on, and most of it hasn’t been great.

I’m not unfamiliar with depression, though. Nor anxiety. Actually, one thing that sort of has been surprising is that I’ve sort of settled in to my depression. After a while, things aren’t necessarily changing, and then depression just becomes the new normal. We don’t really talk about mental health, and so sometimes I think we get this skewed image of what depression looks like. Yeah, I have moments where I get in my head thinking about everything that’s happening and I’m just overwhelmed with emotions. But most days, yeah, I’m just sort of there.

Depression can be one of those sneaky, hard to see conditions. It can be easy to miss, even by people close to you. Living with endometriosis, something else that’s hard for others to see let alone understand, I guess I’m not all that bothered when people don’t notice my depression. Most days, mine manifests itself in just not feeling much of anything. I don’t like getting out of bed. Or getting dressed. Or cleaning. It’s just hard to be motivated to do much. I spend most of my time marathoning shows because it’s the fastest way to make the day go by. Only to go to bed to just have to do it all over again. (It’s also been manifesting itself as irritability, which has been an interesting discovery.)*

There is one thing, though, that’s sort of been helping me from completely falling off the edge. Cooking. I’m not quite eating like I should be — but I try to make sure I have at least one actual meal a day. The rest I sort of putz around the kitchen and scavenge. It’s a lot of chips and salsa, hummus and carrots, or just handfuls of wheat thins. But those actual meals I make? It’s one of the few things I really enjoy. I get to be creative, and the results are generally just super tasty. Right now the biggest struggle is not feeling in a rut with my cooking. So far, and yes, actually thanks to things like Pinterest and marathoning shows like Top Chef, I’ve been able to keep things interesting.

I’ve made things like lemon-garlic alfredo, more shakshuka, got over my avocado fear and put it in an egg salad as well as made probably one of the most beautiful food bowls I’ve ever eaten, discovered I make pretty damn tasty & juicy turkey burgers (and began experimenting with sauces, like that In-N-Out animal style sauce), played with fun cheeses and found I love havarti onion, and also havarti dill and attempted some garlic-dill bombs**, made some great taco soup, and found my new basic go-to in fish tacos. Guys, I’ve reach a point where my insta is more food than cats. (And also think I’m coming along nicely on that goal for better food photos.)

Thankfully, my lack of working transportation hasn’t hindered my cooking explorations too much. I have to plan a little more. But I’m kind of letting whims direct some of my shopping. Not always easy since I go to the most budget-friendly place in town, but I make it work. Have spices, will cook. And if that’s what’s keeping me going each day, I’m ok with that.

*So, fun story, just randomly as I was in the car with my mom we started talking about this irritability and how when I’m overwhelmed I just cry uncontrollably. Thing is, so does she. Something in my almost 33 years of life I did not know about my mother. I know it’s a little cliche to get older and realize you’re just like one of your parents, but yeah. My strong, stoic, half-Finnish mother is also sometimes an emotional mess like me.

**The local famous pizza place has these addicting garlic-dill breadsticks… and so I wanted to try to recreate them. I was more successful when I adapted that idea into pasta. Trust me: garlic, dill, and parmesan are a great combination.