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All posts for the month September, 2012

Beautiful Blogger, me?

Published September 26, 2012 by crazyinpink

Later than promised, I would like to say a huge thank you to the lovely Rachel at http://doilooksick.wordpress.com/ for nominating me for the Beautiful Blogger Award.

To accept the award, I post this image, write a little tidbit about the blogger who nominated me, write a list of 7 things about myself, and finally, nominate 7 bloggers to receive this award as well.

I’m still not quite used to the world of blogging though I’ve been here for several months and one of the greatest people I’ve met here is the wonderful Rachel.  Her blog always makes me smile and the work she does to raise awareness of chronic pain and invisible illnesses is really admirable.  I love reading what she’s up to and I admit, I’ve plagiarised some of her phrases to help explain things (dishes and spoons especially). She is a true endo sister and I’m honoured that she thought of me for this award.

Okay, now seven things about me.

1. I am about to start a PhD in History.  This is simultaneously exciting and terrifying with a pinch of ‘what the hell am I doing?’

2. I own about 100 pairs of shoes.  My life motto: Life is short, buy the shoes. (I also LOVE the ‘Shoes’ video too)

3. Everyday I wear incredibly bright colours because I think it is hard to feel sad when wearing bright yellow.

4. I have had a disease called endometriosis since I was 13.  I’m currently waiting on an operation to remove diseased tissue throughout my pelvis.  It causes chronic pain which I live with every day but I try to not let it beat me.

5. I own every single piece of QI merchandise, including every single episode.  It is the best show ever!  When I finished school I went to London to be in the audience of a recording.  My dream job would be to be a QI Elf (researcher).

6. I might be a teensy bit obsessed with a certain pale cheekboned gentleman called Benedict Cumberbatch.

But, really, how can you not be in love with him?

7. I sometimes think that if I didn’t have all the health problems I have, I wouldn’t be the person that I am today.  I wouldn’t have true friends who are so precious and genuine and I wouldn’t appreciate the ‘good days’ because I wouldn’t really grasp how bad ‘bad days’ can be.

And finally, the bloggers I’d like to nominate are:

1. http://lifeandendo.wordpress.com/  another endo sister sharing her experiences

2. http://endohope.org/ providing much needed info and talking about all the ways endo affects you

3. http://whatvioladidnext.wordpress.com/ honest and inspiring (and given me a justifiable reason to eat ice cream after internal examinations!)

4. http://wincylui.wordpress.com/ always makes me smile

 

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The final countdown

Published September 14, 2012 by crazyinpink

Just a short post as I enter the final stretch of the marathon that is this dissertation.

I am beyond grateful to the ever lovely Rachel at http://doilooksick.wordpress.com/ for nominating me for the Beautiful Blogger Award.  I promise to write a proper post about it after the weekend.

For now, I’m proof reading and doing all the fiddly bits of this massive document which has been my life for the last few months.  I’m relieved the end is in sight, it has been such a difficult summer.  I am strangely proud of myself for making it though.  My supervisor advised me weeks ago, just after my surgery, to put in for an extension because I couldn’t be expected to submit with everyone else given what I’d been through but I didn’t want to give in too early.  I wanted to see if I could do it.

What will happen on Monday though? After I hand this in, what am I going to do with my life? I intend on heroic amounts of sleeping, watching movies and hopefully catching up with friends.

So, I will be back to blog about this amazing nomination and about my meeting over chronic pain management the other day.  In the catchphrase of my fave British sitcom ‘Bear with’, it’ll all be over soon.

 

Next time I’m back on, I’ll be all done.  Scary biscuits.

Cabin fever and the loss of shyness

Published September 10, 2012 by crazyinpink

(I feel inclined to inform potential readers that the post below is quite graphic. And brutally honest)

T minus one week until I submit my Masters dissertation. One week.  Seven days.

I’m surprisingly calm at the mo.  Although, considering I already had a near-breakdown over my academic future last week maybe I just don’t have any energy to work myself up.

When I handed in my undergrad dissertation, a lovely little 12, 000 word walk in the park compared to this beast, I immediately had to sit a two hour exam.  Then I went home, ate some Chinese food and cried tears of relief that it was all over.  I do believe I then slept for a few days but I don’t remember.

I’ve been confined to my desk since Thursday when I had to go to work.  My boss is being just as annoyingly absent-minded as usual so I have literally no idea when I am next there.  But I had to drag myself out of my room this morning for a doctor’s appointment. Even when the mind is willing, the body still needs regular check-ups.

My operation was about two months ago so I had to go in and get my strings checked.  This is an entirely pointless process whereby they make sure that the Mirena device they implanted in my womb is still there. I had my first Mirena put in when I had my first lap back in 2008.  I duly went for the six week check (my fist ever experience of any kind of internal exam).  Not only could the doctor not feel it and I felt unbelievable discomfort and pain, I also got into my first (and only) crash in the car park as I tried to leave the doctor’s.  Shockingly, it wasn’t even my fault.  You are meant to get the strings checked once a year after that.  I went the first two years.  Both times they still couldn’t feel them or see them and trying to find them made me cry so much that the doctors just left it.

Earlier this year when I started experiencing quite a bit of pain ‘down there’ I thought maybe it had moved or something.  Since there was absolutely no proof that it stayed where it was meant to, the doctor agreed.  I had another exam and still nothing.  Anyway, weeks and a lot of exams later, it turned out it was an abscess.  Were it not for the fact that I hadn’t had a period since January 2008, I would’ve thought they had lied about the whole Mirena thing.

So, having got it replaced during my recent surgery, I had to go in for the string check today.  It made me think of how much has changed since the last time. How much I’ve changed.  While it’s still not my favourite thing in the world and massively uncomfortable, I’ve got so used to internal examinations that I didn’t even feel nervous.  I don’t cry anymore (unless there are scary looking instruments involved) and there is zero shyness now.  So many medical professionals have had to look there that I don’t have a boundary anymore.  I whipped off my leggings and knickers before the doctor had even drawn the wispy little curtain the whole way around the bed.  Why do they even have that curtain? They are going to see you anyway, why let you undress in private one minute then insert things in you the next?

The most remarkable thing was how quickly she found the strings.  She had asked if my last one could be felt by hand and I informed her that it’s existence had never actually been verified. Uh-oh. She readied some unpleasant things just in case her ‘manual’ inspection didn’t work.  Then, to both of our surprises, it was all over! She felt it straight away and everything was grand.

I went over a few other health questions with her.  When you’ve got an appointment with a doctor, you need to really take advantage.  Especially since it takes about 3 weeks to get an appointment over here.  So she inspected a strange lump I’ve had for a few months.  I would be the person who grows cysts on the surface *eyeroll* then we discussed ways to build up my quads.  I dislocated my kneecap in a laundry-related incident about three years ago and was told I’d always have a weakness in that knee but lately it just seems to be getting worse.

Anyway, that was my exciting escape. Oh, I also tried to lodge a cheque in my bank only to be told that it would take six weeks because the amount is in Euros.  The teller informed me of this and added that there’s a small charge for this service.  He asked if I wanted to go ahead.  There’s not much I can really do about it since it is a cheque for me from some Irish association.  I will officially be living off crumbs from now till the end of the month when my measly wages come in.

At least sitting at my desk for the next week won’t cost too much.

I get by with a little help from my friends

Published September 7, 2012 by crazyinpink

The last few days have been quite stressful.  I am still no closer to making a decision on what to do with the rest of my life.  Yes, I’m being melodramatic but my PhD will be my baby for three years and will determine my future career. It is a big and scary decision.  Yesterday morning I was leaning more towards PhD B until I had a meeting with my supervisor (and mentor).  Best Friend and I expected Supervisor to remain neutral and not try to influence my decision.  We were so wrong.  He immediately started expounding all the benefits for PhD A. Part of me thinks he just doesn’t want to lose me and wants me to stay at my home uni. But another, more rational part, knows that he has obviously been thinking about me and what is best for me.  He has always had my best interests at heart and I wouldn’t have achieved what I have without him.  

In fact, the last few days have shown me just how blessed I am to have so many wonderful people in my life who really care about me.  I just wanted to record my appreciation of them so that next time I’m feeling down I can look back on this and realise how awesome my friends are.  In no particular order (as they say on tv talent shows), here are some of the things I’d like to say to my amazing friends.

Toyboy

Thanks for going out with me on Tuesday night and making me laugh.  At times you are like a little ray of sunshine and you make me smile. Other times I want to slap you, especially when you vowed to find my mysterious blog.  I’m sorry I ever let it slip that I have one.  I know you probably spent ages trying to find it, I hope you haven’t but if you’re reading this now, GO AWAY! 😛

Best Friend

I’m so glad we are back to normal again after all the weird sexual tension earlier this year and the awkwardness that followed. You have been a really good friend lately and I really appreciate you trying to understand me.  Thank you for talking to me on the phone for hours trying to help me make this decision.  Thanks for not trying to sway me even though I know you don’t want me to leave you.  And thanks for all the odd emails and texts you’ve sent to try and cheer me up.

Fairy Godmother

You are my newest friend and yet I can’t imagine not having you in my life. You were so amazing about the whole Butter thing and continue to support me even when I’m not making any sense at all. Thank you for dropping what you were doing to visit me in work yesterday just cause I said I needed a hug.  Thanks for being there when I need you. 

Al

Even though our lives are completely separate now and you live in a different country, you still sense when something’s wrong.  I can never hide anything from you (do you know how annoying that is?) I was so glad when you popped up on facebook chat and let me moan to you for a while. 

Butter

I still don’t really know what’s going on between us but you seemed to sense that I just needed a friend yesterday.  It’s hard in work to get a private moment but I know that you were worried about me.  I had tried to hide the fact that I had been crying but you saw a tear track I had missed and wiped it away. You held my gaze and I knew that you wanted to make me better. When someone else appeared the moment was gone but you passed me a tissue and tried to make me smile. Thank you for being a friend to me even though you didn’t know what was going on. 

Church friends

Thank you for always being there when I need you.  I know we don’t hang out as much anymore since I stopped being a youth leader but you always have my back.  I can always ask you to pray for me without worrying that you’ll judge or question me.  You are such great listeners and I value all your prayers and words of encouragement. 

 

Basically, my friends are the bee’s knees.  I should really tell them that more often.

Major Life Decisions

Published September 5, 2012 by crazyinpink

Yesterday I had an interview for a PhD studentship, fully funded. 

The interview went amazingly well.  I was so nervous Monday night and then all day yesterday but as soon as I actually got into the room and started talking history, I was fine.  The panel (of 3 plus a voice from a box in the middle of the table) asked me all about my research, my methodology, my findings, my processes, everything. I’ve never been asked to talk about my own research at length before.  They had a sample piece of my writing which they also asked questions about before moving on to the specifics of the PhD studentship. After an hour and fifteen minutes, I left feeling quite confident.  I had been myself, albeit a nervous, over-gesticulating version of myself but I wanted them to see me as a person and not just a history brain. 

Less than an hour later they rang me.

They offered me the position. 

I am completely shocked and thrilled. The woman who phoned gave me so many compliments I was quietly crying and grinning into the phone. 

There’s only one problem.  I’ve already agreed to do a PhD at my home university. 

Now I have a major decision to make.  Not just what I’ll do for the next three years but what it could mean for my future career. 

PhD A which I won many months ago is on social and economic history.  PhD B from yesterday is on religious history. I think that my heart is telling me to pick B. The past few months working on my Masters, I’ve found it difficult with everything else going on in my life, especially my health. But I made myself keep going and I got the work done because I loved what I was doing.  I don’t know if I could be that motivated for PhD A, even though it is at a prestigious university and part of a wider project.  It would give me extra opportunities I wouldn’t get with a run of the mill PhD. But I am unfamiliar with the subject.  My personal collection of religious history books which I’ve built up over the last few years would be completely useless.  PhD B is religious but its also through the Open Uni.  I’d be the only PhD student in my country. 

I’m talking myself round in circles.  But I’ve tentatively accepted both and I need to make a decision sooner rather than later as either way, I’m starting a PhD in October.

What an odd dilemma to be in. I’m so happy and proud yet completely terrified of making the wrong decision and living to regret it. 

Creating Chronic Pain Awareness (You can help!)

Published September 3, 2012 by crazyinpink

I had no idea that September was Chronic Pain awareness month until I read this post by the ever lovely Tracy. I couldn’t be more eager to contribute to the Chronic Pain forum she is setting up!

 

Here are my answers to her questions:

 

1. What condition(s) do you have that have led you to living with chronic pain?
I have endometriosis, a gynecological condition which is caused by endometrial tissue sticking to parts of my insides where it shouldn’t, in my case this includes the outside of my uterus and all along my pelvic wall. It causes chronic pelvic and back pain as well as several other lovely side effects.

2. What do you want others to know about what it’s like to live with chronic pain? (i.e.- what is it no one is saying about life with chronic pain? )
Life with chronic pain is like living with a very badly behaved monkey. You have to constantly carry the monkey around. Some days it is docile and doesn’t interfere much, it’s just sort of…there. Other days it demands attention. It gets cranky and generally tries to make your life as miserable as possible. Things you could do before you got your monkey become 100 times more difficult with it. In every part of every day, you need to think about your monkey and how what you’re doing (or contemplating doing) might affect it and how that, in turn, will make your life more difficult.

3. Which philosophy do you ascribe to: Keep hoping that the pain will get better or learn to adapt to life with chronic pain?
I alternate between the two. I’m currently leaning on the ‘adapting’ side. I’ve realised that my condition is incurable and whatever treatments I may receive could help but the problem will always be there. I’ve had to adapt out of necessity.

4. What do you miss the most that you feel you gave up because of chronic pain? What do you do now to fill that void?
I miss the freedom of my old life BM (before monkey). I miss being able to do things at the drop of a hat without complicated planning beforehand. I miss the energy I had to keep going without having to rest. I miss actually living like the 20-something I am rather than this strange life as a pseudo-geriatric. Living with chronic pain has changed me and maybe I needed to change. Now that I plan everything, I realise what I really want to do with my precious time and energy. The friends I have now are the truest friends I’ve ever had. I haven’t forgotten the girl I was BM, I’m just a slightly altered version, Me 2.0.

5. What have you heard from others that made you feel better?
Just that I’m not alone. Writing this blog has introduced me to a world of people who get what life is like when you live with something like chronic pain. I giggle and tear up reading other people’s stories because I can relate to them so much. Although I have great friends and an awesome family, they don’t know how it feels to be in pain most of the time. It makes me feel better just knowing that I am not alone.

It also helps when my friends or family acknowledge what I’m going through.  People telling me that I’m strong and that they admire my faith and courage is a wonderful thing to hear, even when I feel as cowardly as the lion.

6. Do you feel that people view/treat you differently? How?
People do treat me differently which is sometimes sweet and sometimes irritating. Sweet when they notice a small indicator of my pain or exhaustion and offer to help. They get anxious easily when I’m around. Some of my friends joke about me being the ‘sick one’ because that’s just their way of coping with it. Some try to ignore the giant pink elephant in the room until something happens to drag it kicking and screaming right in front of them. I guess it makes sense that people treat me differently though because I am kind of different now.

7. What coping mechanisms have you tried that worked for you? Which ones did not work for you? (Traditional and Non-traditional)
The most successful coping mechanism in my opinion is talking. Its only lately that I’ve really started talking about what I’m going through and, even though it’s probably gobbeldeegook to anyone who isn’t me, getting it out there helps immensely.
Being fair to myself and my monkey also helps. If I feel myself getting stressed, I make a conscious effort to take myself away from it. I distract myself and try to relax (easier said than done). The whole meditation thing doesn’t work for me but old episodes of ‘Friends’ does. 🙂 I’ve taken up tea drinking which strangely enough helps my muscles relax slightly, especially peppermint tea. And I blog.