Wednesday, December 21, 2016

10 Quotes That Have Helped Me Get Through The Hard Days With Chronic Illness

I can openly say that I am a quote addict. I can browse through quotes on Pinterest for longer than I'd like to admit. And I find doing this a great tool for getting through hard times. Sometimes just reading a good quote that resonates with you gives you some perspective on things. So, without further ado, here are 10 quotes that have helped me look at things in a way that's gotten me through some rough times.

#1- "When it is all finished, you will discover it was never random."

The idea of fate is subjective. The thought of everything happening for a purpose is subjective. But it has truly helped me to believe that every little thing that happens leads you to something else that is meant to happen in your life. For example... I attended college in a Professional Photography program for one semester before I got sick. It was a blip in time, and it turned out not to be what I want in life, but I truly believe that I was meant to attend for that one semester, because I met my best friend there. I don't believe it was random that we met on the first day of orientation for class. I believe that she is one of the soulmates I'm meant to meet in my life. I never say nothing came of that, or that I failed by having to leave, because attending for that one semester placed her in my life and changed it forever, and she became my rock throughout many years of my illness. 

#2- "There is purpose in your season of waiting." - Megan Smalley

You are going to notice a slight theme with the quotes that have gotten me through hard times. It's the theme that there is purpose to the pain. That this pain isn't for nothing. Maybe one day I will use this painful period of waiting to help other people going through the same thing. Maybe in this season of waiting, circumstances will put me in a room with another person who I'm meant to cross paths with. 

#3- "Your story is unique and so, so different.. and not worthy of comparison." 

This is a great reminder to stop comparing myself to other people. Everyone is on their own path and it's fine if your path is different. Our paths aren't supposed to be symmetrical. No one has lived exactly what you have lived, and it's so important to cheer each other on instead of comparing, and to know that what has happened to you is yours and no one can change that. It's not there for anyone else to compare or judge. 


#4- "I realized there is no shame in being honest. There is no shame in being vulnerable. It's the beauty of being human."

When you suffer with a chronic illness, sometimes it feels like people expect you to be strong. People expect you to be able to handle whatever is thrown at you with grace. Sometimes it's hard to share your true feelings on your situation. Some days will be harder than others, that's a guarantee. And on those hard days, it's okay to be open, and honest. Anyone who judges you for complaining, or letting down your armour and being vulnerable, is not worthy of one second of your thoughts. The people who matter are the ones who have love in their hearts, and they will appreciate the human in you. 

#5- "They tried to bury us. They didn't know we were seeds." - Mexican proverb 

I absolutely love this powerful statement. I look at the word "they" as life. Life may try to bury us, but we will grow right through the soil it throws on us. This quote is a powerful reminder of our strength and resilience as humans. 


#6- "Where you are is not who you are. - circumstances" 

Such an amazing reminder that what has happened to you in life doesn't dictate who you are. The way I see it, the fact that you may be stuck home with no job, or out of school, doesn't make you less wise, or lazy. Those are your circumstances, not your characteristics. Maybe you're funny, or maybe you're generous and kind. Maybe you're a singer, or a writer. Maybe you have a love for animals, or a passion for volunteering. Maybe you love comedies or maybe you love scary movies. THAT is who you are. This tells me that I am not my illnesses. I am made up of the traits I have (the good and the bad), the things I love, and the things I feel passionate about.  


#7- "Even if you shake, a step is still a step. Continue to be brave enough to walk your path." - The Better Man Project

Sometimes I feel like giving up. Sometimes I feel like I can't take another second, as I'm sure a lot of people can relate to. But when I make that tiny decision to keep going, that is a step. It doesn't matter if you waver, so long as you keep going. 

#8- "Trust the wait. Embrace the uncertainty. Enjoy the beauty of becoming. When nothing is certain, anything is possible."

How true is this last sentence? "When nothing is certain, anything is possible." Uncertainty sucks. I am a person who likes to know all the facts. The unknown puts me on edge. But this thought, that not knowing and being uncertain isn't so terrible, and that things beyond your wildest dreams can happen, helps me get through these days. 

#9- "So, do it. Decide. Is this the life you want to live? Is this the person you want to love? Is this the best you can be? Can you be stronger? Kinder? More compassionate? Decide. Breathe in. Breathe out and decide." - Meredith Grey (Grey's Anatomy)

Having a chronic illness, a lot of the time it feels like nothing in your life is in your control. And it's a horrible feeling. I absolutely love this reminder that although some things are out of our control, there are still choices we can make. We still have power over our lives, and if we don't like where we are, we can figure out if there are things that we can change to make us happier, or to make us a better person. There is always room to grow.

#10- "So, what if, instead of thinking about solving your whole life, you just think about adding additional good things. One at a time. Just let your pile of good things grow."

Speaking of growing, I love this idea of just letting your pile of good things grow. It is so easy to worry about the rest of your life. Especially when it comes to chronic illness. I go to that place of worry all the time, and feel like I need to figure everything out. But if we focus on just adding things into our lives that make us happy, and add them in one at a time, as slowly as we need to, things will change for the better. It's impossible to figure out your whole life in a day. But it definitely isn't impossible to slowly add in things that you make you smile, even if it's for a second.

Monday, December 12, 2016

A Letter to My Friends With Chronic Illnesses

To my friends with chronic illnesses,

We met for one reason; our bodies don’t work the way they should. We’re all fighting different battles, but at some level we just get each other. We know what it’s like to be confused as to why our bodies are failing us at such a young age. We know what it’s like to be poked and prodded, and have test after test done, sometimes to reveal something awful, and sometimes to reveal absolutely nothing. We know what it’s like to watch our peers grow up while we’re stuck stagnant due to our health. We know what it’s like to miss out on fun things that we should be getting to do. We know what it’s like to feel helpless. We know what it’s like to have far more medical knowledge than we should. We know what it’s like to have an unpredictable future due to the nature of our illnesses. We know what it’s like to have to advocate for ourselves to doctors. We know what it’s like to leave appointments in tears.

There’s a reason why we get along so well. It’s because we’ve felt a particular type of pain that many haven’t felt. Maybe we look at life a little differently since we’ve been sick, because now we really have to focus on where we want to spend the little energy we have. We have to focus on who we want to spend that energy on. We celebrate tiny victories that to others would seem laughable, but to us it’s an accomplishment.

I want you to know that I am proud of you. I am proud of you for waking up everyday and fighting the same illnesses that left you so tired the night before. No, you didn’t choose to get sick. Who would? You don’t have to be an inspiration, and you don’t have to be brave. But either way, I am proud. Because none of this is easy, and you’re still here to fight another day. Every day might not be a good day. Some will seem impossible to get through, whether it’s the awful symptoms, the side effects, the isolation, or just the mental anguish that comes with being stuck in a body that you want a refund for. But together we are so much stronger. We will lift each other when one of us falls. We will keep each other company on those nights that our symptoms are keeping us up. We will celebrate all the victories, big or small. From far and wide, and all across the globe with a unique bond, we will love each other through it.

“People like us we’ve gotta stick together.”

Thursday, December 1, 2016

Laparoscopic Excision of Endometriosis

This week was finally the week of my surgery. A laparoscopy to look for endometriosis and to cut out whatever endometriosis was found. Being my first real surgery, I was nervous. Nervous is probably an understatement.

I collected as many tips and tricks as I could prior to the date from other women with Endometriosis who have undergone several laparoscopies. I heard the same tips repeated several times, and they were definitely right. I was told to go to the pharmacy and pick up some Gas-X and that I’ll be happy to have it. That was definitely right. During the surgery, they inflate your belly with gas so they can see around the organs more easily. It’s impossible to get all that air out after so it tends to get stuck in your abdomen, chest, and shoulders. While the gas never quite reached my shoulders, I felt it in my chest, so the Gas-X was super helpful. The second great piece of advice I was given was to SPEAK UP. I was told that if I’m feeling really anxious, tell them, and they will give you something for it because they want you to be as comfortable as possible. If you’re nauseous, speak up, they have meds right there ready to give you. I was also reminded not to leave without a prescription for pain meds, nausea meds, and Colace.

With all these tips, I was ready to go. I was the first surgery of the day so we had to be there by 6:30 AM. I was understandably nervous, but I have to say, the nurses, the anesthesiologist, and of course my doctor and surgeon were all so comforting and kind. Those are the things you don’t forget.

When I woke up, it took me a few minutes to figure out where I was and what happened. Once I was less out of it, my doctor came to talk to me, and told me what they found, which was a large patch of endometriosis on the back of my uterus that they cut out. We follow up in a few weeks once I’m all healed to discuss how we’ll proceed.

I am so grateful for this doctor, for her kindness, for finding an answer to some of my pain, and for just existing. She happens to be an endometriosis specialist, and I found her by complete fluke. Some things are just meant to be.

Post-op, things have been going fairly well. I had really built it up in my head that it would be awful, so the recovery is ending up going much better than I had anticipated! Nothing can happen without some complications, so on Day 2 post op, I started going into urinary retention. I could barely get anything out. We figured out that the pain medication I was prescribed was the culprit so I stopped it and now my bladder seems to be slowly recuperating. I’ve been experiencing lot of bloating, actually 4 pounds of bloating and water retention, so I’m hoping that will go down ASAP.

All in all, I haven’t bounced back yet, and am not feeling quite myself, though I know it’s only 2 days post-op and I’m hoping I’ll bounce back soon. You can just call me the queen of impatience. :)