Your voice matters.

Especially when it concerns your life. Over the past couple of years, I’ve been busy with therapy to get my life back on the tracks. I used to be the kind of person who just took what was said without questioning it. I refuse to be that person any longer.

The result is quite simply that my life is better.

When I was hospitalized after 3 years of agonizing back pains, I was dismissed with the message “It’s probably a herniated disc, no need to make a scan, send her home asap.” No. I insisted on an MRI. I insisted on knowing what the fuck was wrong with me, why I couldn’t sit, stand or walk anymore. I insisted on recovering to the point where I could walk up and down stairs again because I didn’t have the luxury of an elevator or someone to take care of a 26 year old woman who lives by herself around the clock. When they finally put me in the machine and saw just how bad it was, I got a “Oh, well, this is a pretty bad hernia, no wonder you’re in so much pain!”

I was told I needed to go into a daytime program, where I would spend my entire day in group therapy five days a week. I considered this, I felt uncomfortable with it because it didn’t make me feel heard, and I refused. In no unclear terms, I let my psychologist know “This is not for me. I just need someone to sit down and talk to me. I need someone to help me figure out where this is coming from. I need someone to help me get through the specific issues that make my life unlivable.”

Two years later I’m doing better than I ever have before, I understand what the source of my mental health problems is and knowing helps me maintain better control over my life.

I was told that my birth control method of choice (the implant in the arm) was ‘unfavored by many women’ and that I should consider other alternatives by my doctor. I said “No, I don’t want something put in my womb; I know just as many women who struggle with problems caused by this method, I can’t tolerate the pill, and I’m doing this for a better hormone balance. I’ve researched it, I know the risks, and I made my choice: this is for me.

Well over a year later, I’ve never felt better. My moodswings have diminished drastically. I may still have periods, but they’re so light I can wear panty liners instead of full on pads or tampons. Yes, it took almost 6 months for my body to adjust to a rhythm. I knew this before I started and I allowed it time (unlike the women my doctor mentioned, who had it removed in less than 3 months – not enough time for your body to adjust to a change in hormones, folks!).

I’m a smart cookie. I do my research, I know my situation, I know my body, and I know my gut instinct. I’m not perfect, but I’m good. So are many, many, many other people out there. If you feel something is wrong and the person you reach out to is dismissing you, stand up for yourself. Stick to your guns. Get the tests you needed. They may be professionals, but they make mistakes as well. They’re just giving their best guesses and send you home, assuming it’s never as bad as it sounds. And they can be horribly wrong. If your gut tells you something different, if your own research points in a different direction, go with it. Get another doctor. Get another professional. Get the tests you think you need.

You are the boss of your own existence. There is a lot we don’t control in life, but these things we can. And we should.

Advertisements

Back from vacation!

Hurray! It’s already Monday morning and I got back Friday afternoon, but I’ve been in recovery and haven’t had the energy to blog about it yet. To summarize the 5 days we spent in Zeeland:

Wow.

I had an amazingly awesome time with my friends from group! Everyone got along so well and it was so much fun to hang out together. Everyone’s been very emotional at one point or another about going home, but that’s not really surprising. We’re all dealing with some condition or another, and going home meant going back to all our issues. It didn’t really hit me until I was already home, finally alone with just my cats. I bawled my eyes out and I’m still not sure why exactly I’ve been in such an emotional turmoil. I’m going to guess it has to do with my mental health, my difficulties with change and feeling alone though.

I’m really, really glad our counselors from group came along. Despite all the fun we had, it’s been amazing having someone we trust help us get through the hard bits and give us the space we needed. I guess in a sense this was really more of a therapeutic vacation than just ‘a vacation’! Next week we all have time off from group so that the counselors can recover as well – for them it was 5 days of work, not 5 days of vacation.

We did lots of fun things. We spent the first night having pancakes for dinner (apple pancakes, banana pancakes, pancakes with cheese and pancakes with bacon and cheese) and walked down to the beach to catch some evening sun. The water was very cold (which makes sense with it being early summer) and there were tons and tons of jellyfish that washed ashore. We also drove around a bit to explore the area and figure out what to do the following days and witnessed a gorgeous sunset.

Tuesday we took a trip to Zoutelande to visit the market. We ended up eating oysters and had lunch at this adorable little bakery with coffee and cake. Wednesday we went to this tiny village called Veere. It has a beautiful lake with a ferry, there was a gorgeous traditional Dutch windmill and a very pretty church, although we didn’t visit it because of the steep entry fees for the tour. There’s also a little candy shop that sells traditional, old Dutch candy, which we visited as well! I got my Dad a tin of Zeeuwse Babbelaars, which is similar to butterscotch.

It was too hard to resist this little soap store as well. (I’m not sure if that’s what you’d call it, but we went inside because we smelled these wonderful soap smells!) I ended up purchasing a bar of this soap from them. There’s something about its scent that triggers memories for me, but I couldn’t tell you what it reminds me of if my life depended on it. All I know is I’ve showered with it and I love it so much!

Wednesday evening was karaoke night, but I was fighting a bad toothache and feeling overwhelmed from all the input around me. (Loud noises, lots of excited people etc.) so I retreated into my room and laid down for a while to let the painkillers kick in. Somehow I managed to fall asleep despite the noisy karaoke singing downstairs lol. So I ended up missing out on karaoke night, but I think I needed the rest more than anything else.

Thursday, we spent the morning getting a makeup makeover from one of our friends. She does makeup as a hobby. I feel sad I turned down her offer to put makeup on me, but I know her efforts would have gone wasted due to my dry patchy skin problems. (It really shows up horribly, especially on my eyelids, ruining the makeup even before you’re done putting it on…) Everyone else looked absolutely stunning though! It was so much fun watching them transform before our eyes. That afternoon we drove to the city of Middelburg. It’s very old, dating from the middle ages, which around 1,200 buildings being so old they’re declared monuments. We walked around quite a bit, window shopping and having apple pie with coffee, even visiting the big market and eating fried fish. Four of us took a little boat tour in the canals, which was both hilarious and fun. We learned a lot about the city and I’m very impressed with the clear preservation efforts that went into this place. If you want some real, genuine Dutch culture, that’s where you should be!

We did tons more little things. I ended up getting an actual tan, and I still manage to be milk bottle white compared to everyone else. We had facials and so many laughs it made our tummies hurt! I would love to share more photos, but they all have our faces and I’d rather not put those online.

Naturally not a lot of knitting happened, but I’ve been working on my two projects on and off this weekend. Hopefully I’ll have pictures of that soon!

You’re now hearing the X-Files themesong.

It’s magic!

I was about to sit down and watch the X-Files on Netflix with my knitting (mom’s pair of socks for Christmas) when I felt the itch for blogging. I’m not sure what to write about that I haven’t already said before, though. So before I go on a repeated ramble, let’s soak in the new template on my blog!

Simplicity is always my favorite theme for a template so that’s what I was going after in the list. After 30 minutes of browsing and previewing different themes, I settled on this one. Nice and quiet, calming on the eyes, pleasant teal link colors and just enough room for the widget area. A winter themed banner on the top (which I might switch out in the near future) and I’m all settled until spring. 🙂 Looks good, doesn’t it?

Last night I finished my dad’s socks. They took a little longer than I anticipated, but I was very tired last week, and I ended up not taking the full 2-3 hours a day I planned for them. So rather than 7 days, they took 9 to complete. Not bad! I admit they look a little baggy, but I promise you that my dad is not a frail bodied fellow and he will fill these out nicely. I worked in the knitting-in elastic into the cuff (which you can kind of see) so I hope the cuffs will retain their elasticity.

20151125_201641

I almost finished my mom’s socks’ toes before I went to bed, but as I hit 30 stitches on the first needle (out of 34) I was done for and put them down. I will be increasing to 34 stitches per needle (68 total) for her socks and then work them the same way I did my dad’s. The sock yarn I picked for her socks almost made me regret buying it as I began to knit it up, but I’m growing fond of the colors after all and I think the pattern will turn out nicely! I’ll share a picture soon.

Some less good news is that my avoidance behavior is maxing out again. I didn’t go to my social skills course and couldn’t get myself to call to cancel. I just panicked and pretended my phone didn’t even exist. Then I got an email from my therapist and refused to open it out of terror. Last Monday I flaked out on an appointment and missed their calls. It’s pretty bad, I know that it’s ridiculous to react this way to someone who’s there to help me, but going to a course and going to therapy is more than just ‘sit down and talk’. It’s ‘sit down, talk and let’s work on this!’. It’s the ‘work on this’ part that scares me off. I don’t know where I’d get the energy from to do it. I’m exhausted by clinging on to my group afternoons, which I refuse to ditch cause I love it there and it makes me feel at home. More so than in my own apartment even. I’m exhausted from this bullshit with my landlord. I’m exhausted from waiting to have all my finances handed over to an administrator so I don’t have to worry over paying bills anymore. I’m exhausted from worrying ‘is today the day my car will break down and I’m left without transportation cause I can’t afford anything else?’.

I had an appointment with my group counselor yesterday, which doesn’t stress me out because I know she’ll take the wheel when I can’t, and I ended up confessing to her how bad it is. She sat down with me to analyze why it’s happening, especially because I’m so vibrant and happy in the group. After some discussing we agreed that I’m taking a break from therapy until the holidays are over, and then pick it back up in January. It will give me time to settle down a bit in this very hectic period, my finances will be out of my hands officially by then and I should have found a way to be able to make the appointments with an alternative form of transportation.

My group counselor emailed my therapist to explain all this, and this morning I got another call and email from my therapist. As their office calls from a private number I didn’t pick up, but now I’m also afraid to read the email. Again. I know it’s nothing bad and just asking “How are you doing?”, but then there’s nothing rational about anxiety, is there? I’m breaking this down in my head bit by bit and hopefully I can sit down, read and reply to the email this week at some point. It would be nice if I could do that!

It’s not easy, but I’m glad to have my group. I don’t know where I would be without the wonderful people who work there, or even my fellow clients who are so kind and fun to interact with.

Anyway. I’m going to pick up these socks and knit for 1 or 2 X-Files episodes before I’m making dinner. Although I don’t celebrate thanksgiving being Dutch, I figured I’d make myself a fancy dinner with fish, potatoes and veggies tonight. 🙂

How are your holidays going? Are you getting any knitting done?

Bring Zen into my life

I’m finally catching my breath again after a couple of weeks of utter madness. I’ve spent many days without power because electricians were fixing a very dangerous electrical situation in my apartment complex, which meant no computer, no opening of my fridge or freezer, no music, no tv and no chores until the work days were over. There is only so much reading I can do on my tablet before I need to recharge it or get bored, so I spent copious amounts of my time at my friends’ or my parents’ being bored to death. I got behind on some of the work I had to do for my friend, but as soon as the electricians left and the power was back on, I had to stuff a day’s worth of things into a few hours before I had to go back to bed because these guys show up bright and early at 8am the next day.

My legal battle is going well. My landlord has dug his own grave and makes feeble attempts to climb out, only to be smacked down my by lawyer every single time. I have the law backing me up without doubt and he’s screwed. I’m grateful all correspondence now goes between my landlord, the real estate agent he hired to take over maintenance and my lawyer though. Not having the responsibility of dealing with letters is a relief!

Therapy is going well. The vacation season is upon us, which means I see my therapists less until the beginning of September, but to be frank I’m feeling good enough to be confident I can bridge that gap without too many issues. I’m doing better at setting my own boundaries and picking up things after I dropped them. I have to start on logging my days again too for my psychologist because all this electrician business interfered and made it hard to get back in, but I’m going to do it.

My weight is dropping very slowly but steadily. I’m down to a solid 119.2kgs and I haven’t gone over 120kgs in a week, so it’s safe to say the weight is off and will stay off. I might go over 120 again when my period hits, but it shouldn’t be by too much.

2015-07-26 (1)

 

On the downside, my blood sugar is all over the damn place. I’m having a blood draw on Tuesday morning to check my cholesterol and we’ll be doing my A1C at the same time. It could be stress, the temperature fluctuations or my pancreas is finally kicking the bucket and we need to up my medication or even switch to insulin. It’s hard to tell when you’re a type 1.5 and it can be frustrating when people who deal with diabetics tell you it’s 100% ‘just the heat’. No, it doesn’t have to be, it could be more serious because I’m not a solid type 1 or 2. I know they mean well but good god at least listen to what the person who has the condition tells you.

I’m looking forward to the end of August. Two of my friends will be flying in and staying with me for a while and I intend on having a really good time with them! My boyfriend got out of the Navy and moved to a different state. He’s applying for college and hopefully can pursue an education in computer science like he’s wanted!

Don’t forget to breathe

It’s really important to keep doing that! My week has been crazy, and today was a nerve wrecking day like woah. The important thing to know is that things are finally moving again, and it’s going steady with the promise that I won’t be left hanging.

Wednesday I talked to my therapist about a number of things. Primarily about getting a proper schedule back on track for my days and finding ways to incorporate some resting moments during the day. I set up a private blog with password protected entries that she can login to, in which I track my days, what I eat and what my bloodsugar levels are. When I’m really tired or didn’t sleep well, I’ll be trying to rest up shortly after noon instead of later in the afternoon, even if that means I won’t be fully asleep. This will allow me to go to bed at a reasonable time.

This morning I went to group therapy and my counselor took some ‘alone time’ with me to sort through my opened and unopened mail. My financial situation is still shit, but she’s helping me out wonderfully to get a financial administrator setup for me. This person will receive my mail, receive my disability income, pay my bills on my behalf, take care of any forms and other shit that needs to be done and then pay the rest out to me for my groceries and everything else I need. This would be a MASSIVE burden off my shoulders so getting the application out is crucial. Either way, on a scale of 0 to 100, with 0 being super chill, I was a 90 in terms of anxiety. Opening mail is terrifying. So many angry letters making demands I can’t possibly hope to pay. But she was calm and collected and we made it through. I sorted it by date and we put it into a folder. I still have two pieces left to collect.

My counselor did mention I was very quiet and withdrawn, very different from usual. It amazes me how perceptive she is of people. (Although… it is her job I suppose.) When another girl arrived at group, we were done and I sat down with her in the kitchen to talk about whatever. I felt better afterwards, but it took almost the entire day for my anxiety to go down.

Once I got home around 1:30pm, I got a call from the doctor’s assistant. I had my diabetes checkup earlier this week, got an ECG done (all okay), had to give a urine sample (all okay), and had to have blood drawn for my A1C (all okay) and my cholesterol (not okay!). She told me that the doctor is worried about the rise in my cholesterol, and this worries me too. It’s never been high to worrying heights, mainly just ‘a touch too high on the bad kind, and a touch too low on the good one, but nothing to fret over’. My diet has been altered drastically, I eat way more vegetables, fruits and fibers. Fat is limited to dinners only in terms of cooking oils, and hasn’t changed at all. Logic would assume that my cholesterol has gone down (especially as my oatmeal consumption has blown up, I use it in EVERYTHING). My bloodsugar is under control during the day and on my A1C, which means my diet is working. So why does my cholesterol keep climbing?

I have a suspicion it’s the meds I take to get my sugar under control, which is frustrating. Unfortunately it’s also typical for diabetics. Ugh. I got a prescription for 15 Simvastatine Accord pills to see if I can tolerate them with refills (and if not I can switch to a different kind) and I got another blood test scheduled in six weeks. Let’s hope they work and all my values will be normal by then. ALL of them.

I’m totally exhausted now, so I’m heading off to an early night’s sleep.