A place for endometriosis survivors & supporters, and all that goes with it.


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Guilt over not participating in my own life (or at least Star Wars Weekend)

Can I just vent for a minute?

I am really getting down and sick of how unpredictable and uncontrolled my endo and adeno pain is. I am trying to live any sort of social life but end up just going to work, surviving, going home to sleep, and repeat. And I’m getting upset over ridiculous things. Tomorrow, for example, I have been dying to go to Star Wars Weekend at Disney in Orlando, especially since this is the last weekend of the year and Mark Hamill and Billy Dee Williams will be there. I have been talking it up and getting excited. Today, I wake up and I am beyond thrashed. Well, I say wake up, but I really mean “have several short naps from 3 a.m. to 2 p.m. and finally pour myself out of bed and stumble around the house like a zombie.” Hell, I’m still in pajamas right now! I haven’t even taken anything for pain, even though I’d like to! I am trying to work myself up to go out to have dinner at 7, I can hardly fathom getting on the road at 7 a.m. to spend the day in the heat in Orlando and drive back that night. And what about my pain management? I am back to rationing my meds each day, and the codeine I’m sorry to say is not really effective. It’s a difficult admission. So I have people here and in Orlando that know I *might* come, but I might not, and it affects not just me because there’s getting the dog cared for, and making sure I have clothes I can actually wear through the day, and staying comfortable. I just don’t know. I’m exhausted at the very thought. Another opportunity for fun, probably down the drain. Another year of planning to go, gone.

The pose on this statue by Rodin just cries Shame to me. Image found via Google Creative Commons.

Statue by Rodin, image found via Google Creative Commons.

I already had to decline the wedding invitation of a friend I’ve known for 20 years because I’d be in Chicagoland alone, and with as weird as my pain has been, I can’t risk being stuck in a hotel room or banquet hall and not able to get around, or not be able to wear pants, or swell up to pregnancy size. Or worse, being in total incoherent pain and not able to care for myself, or get back to my hotel, or having to explain myself to someone there, spending the money and not being able to go or drive safely, and and and … I just can’t risk it.

I know I get stuck in this cycle of making decisions based in a place of fear. But I feel like I’ve done a hell of a lot pushing through my pain, especially college and beyond. Now I feel like it is catching up to me. And I feel such extreme guilt over not being able to do participate in my own life. It can’t be healthy.

These aren’t the first events I’ve had to sacrifice in the name of endometriosis. I guess they won’t be the last. And that is infuriatingly sad.

I wish very much that I could just make decisions and go and do and not have a million “ifs” and items to tick off the list. Isn’t that what normal people do? They get to go and do things and not have their pain sitting on their shoulder (or anywhere else, for that matter), guiding their life experience? I can’t be the only one who feels like this.

Maybe I’m finally getting to a point of making that Very Difficult Decision.

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Update on the little man

This is a follow-up to a post I made recently, detailing some health issues with my dog, Pippin.

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On one recent Sunday, I took Pippin to work. He’s the best in the biz.

Long story short: NO SURGERY FOR THE SMALL DOG! The ultrasound shows a nodule on his pancreas, and some of his organs were a bit enlarged, but there’s no cancer, no foreign object stuck in his gut, and absolutely no need for surgery, as the first vet had pressed so firmly into my brain.

Basically, his big tummy was full of air and food that was fermenting, which was the culprit in his gastro issues. He’s a small dog that’s getting older and the high-fiber vet food just wasn’t right for him. I put him on soft food of a different brand for a bit, but when that didn’t stop the gastrointestinal distress, we put him on the tried-and-true diet for doggy diarrhea: chicken and rice. He’s been eating it since with only one short-lived gastro issue over the weekend when we relented and gave him a bite of egg white.

No more panting all night like a cow in labor. No more shitting himself. No more tear-inducing farts that wake us up out of a dead sleep in the middle of the night.

My dog did not have cancer. My dog had to take a shit and change his diet. THANKS, VET NO. 1, FOR THE PANIC. I guess doctors of all shades can be total dipshits.

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The buttonhooks are back.

English: Buttonhooks with handles made of horn...

English: Buttonhooks with handles made of horn and wood, on display at Bedford Museum. (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

 

These, my lovers, are buttonhooks. These sharp little bastards were used to help cinch buttons into the buttonholes of button-up shoes, naturally.

And for several weeks, the little demon in my pelvis has been using one to get my attention at most inopportune times. Like at work. Or home. Or sleeping. Or just trying to pee. I usually describe my pains to physicians and friends alike as like buttonhooks pulling my insides apart. (I blame the move “Sybil” for working this imagery into my psyche when I was 16.)

And sisters, the buttonhooks are decidedly back.

This is how I felt constantly before my third laparoscopy: lots of ripping and stabbing, sudden sharp tears of pain that moved quickly from the left to right side, or punctured through the right of my pelvis down through the cervix. You ever been punched in the cervix? Probably not, but most endo sisters are going to know what I mean. Guys, try to imagine one of those long slender metal knitting needles being used to get a really bitching penile piercing, except it’s sliding up your urethra.

Yeah. That.

At the end of February I had a pain spell that knocked the hell out of me. I suddenly lost focus of vision, had ripping, dragging pain from left to right in my pelvis, and couldn’t catch my breath — if I breathed in more than a shallow pant, it hurt like hell under my ribs. I suddenly burst into tears, unable to deal with the shock and terrible feelings. I ended up lying on the floor for a good 40 minutes while the waves of pain increased and then gently floated away. I was glad to not be alone, and Phil talked me through it — mostly he was on the internet, asking my symptoms and entering them into a WebMD symptom checker. After each inquiry, he’d tell me the online remedy was “go to the hospital.”

“Try another one,” I’d reply. I’m not going to the hospital unless I damn well need to. Not only do they not deserve any more of my money, but all they’ll do is keep me cold and braless for 6 hours, take an ultrasound or maybe an MRI if they feel adventurous, and send me home with the classification “unknown cause, please follow up.”

Even just tonight I walked to the bathroom here at work. By the time I got there I was gasping — the knitting-needle-to-the-cervix pain left me breathless and sweating. And the damn things go as quickly as they arrive, so had anybody walked in as I was regaining composure, it would have been a bizarre scene indeed.

I know that my intestines aren’t that happy with me. More pain meds mean more constipation mean more pain — you can’t get around it. And my wonky overtime schedule this week has mean I’m neglecting the awesome essential oils I was given that actually seemed to start to make a gentle difference in my stomach situation.

But what can’t be denied is that I’ve been here before. I was a crumpled mess before my last lap (just go back a few pages, you’ll see) and when they went in — DAMN. Massive endometrioma in the right ovary which was stuck to the uterus and that whole clump stuck to the pelvic wall; the left sigmoid colon stuck to itself and the pelvic wall; endo on the bladder, the uterus, and knotting my ureters together (AGAIN) and for the first time, endo in the cul-de-sac and the diagnosis of adenomyosis.

And I knew I was in pain. I was blacking out from it, even behind the wheel. I was going two weeks with no BM (as I have recently, and it is NOT fun). I was weeping and narcotic drunk and not functional. And it STILL took 4 years, three doctors and a third surgery for anyone to believe it could be “that bad.”

I can’t wait that long this time. Nobody should. I may have exhausted my resources locally, but that doesn’t mean I will let my body suffer. I have one ovary left and it is mine, endo can’t have it, and my life is mine, endo can’t have it.

So I guess it may be time to travel again. You know, I’ve never been to New York City …


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In truths that she learned, or in times that he cried

So how do you measure a year?

This is one of everybody’s favorite songs from RENT, “Seasons of Love.” I was and am a giant RENThead and was able to introduce the movie to Phil on Christmas Eve. Not as grand as the stage version, but I’d actually forgotten just how powerful it is. And it always strikes me extra hard that the writer, Jonathan Larson, never even got to see just how far his story would reach into the world: He died of a heart problem the night of RENT’s final dress rehearsal, the result of his until-then-unknown Marfan’s Syndrome.

Here’s the video I meant to post for the New Year (see previous entry as to why it was delayed). I chose this one over one from the movie because it’s more full and is the original Broadway cast (OBC) version. There’s plenty of videos online if you want to see it sung by the actors; it’s moving.

Lyrics:
ALL
Five hundred twenty-five thousand
Six hundred minutes,
Five hundred twenty-five thousand
Moments so dear.
Five hundred twenty-five thousand
Six hundred minutes
How do you measure, measure a year?

In daylights, in sunsets, in midnights
In cups of coffee
In inches, in miles, in laughter, in strife.

In five hundred twenty-five thousand
Six hundred minutes
How do you measure
A year in the life?

How about love?
How about love?
How about love? Measure in love

Seasons of love. Seasons of love

JOANNE
Five hundred twenty-five thousand
Six hundred minutes!
Five hundred twenty-five thousand
Journeys to plan.

Five hundred twenty-five thousand
Six hundred minutes
How do you measure the life
Of a woman or a man?

COLLINS
In truths that she learned,
Or in times that he cried.
In bridges he burned,
Or the way that she died.

ALL
It’s time now to sing out,
Though the story never ends
Let’s celebrate, remember a year in the life of friends
Remember the love!
Remember the love!
Seasons of love!

JOANNE(while ALL sing)
Oh you got to got to
Remember the love!
You know that love is a gift from up above
Share love, give love spread love
Measure measure your life in love.
Seasons of love, seasons of love


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Pain in body and mind

It’s true I’ve been gone a little while.

In the last month, I’ve had a nerve conduction test and more MRIs to check for nerve damage and update my doctor and my understanding of the status of my Chiari malformation. I’ve worked on posts and saved them, complete with photos.

I wanted to tell you all about how I sucked up my pride and messaged a local infertility center, hoping to be seen and find out how my Last Ovary Standing is holding up these days.

I wanted to post photos from Hanukkah, Christmas and New Year’s Eve that were inspirational or at least a “hello” to you all.

Instead, my status as of midnight NYE — what I always considered the most romantic night of the year — brought a very painful end to my 3 year relationship with my boyfriend, the best endo supporter I could have asked for. We lived together for nearly the entirety of our partnership, and now, moving out … I mean, holy shit, how do you dismantle a life? It would be easier if we hated each other; we don’t. We care deeply for each other and had plans for a future. The only thing I’m happy about is that he’s going to seek out what he needs and that I helped open the lines of communication between him and his family in the process.

Not that it makes a difference to the pain of separation. It doesn’t matter if you knew it was coming for months or it caught you by surprise, it’s not fun and it’s not easy.

Right now I’m staying at mom’s house, crying often, hiding in bed not eating (and eating femme stereotype foods like Ben & Jerry’s Phish Food ice cream when I do) and watching movies — favorites like “The Princess Bride” and “Alien.” And according to my Woman Pro Calendar app, I should have started menses on Thursday. I’ve had lots of signs (mostly cramps and pelvic ache and acne) but no Aunt Flo. This is not too surprising as stress will override everything, including your birth control, but it provides me no comfort, having the symptoms but no manifestation.

So if I disappoint with the updates in the New Year, I apologize. We all fight battles. Some are fought with a sword. Others are managed with a heating pad. And still others by letting yourself just be sad for a while.

Here’s to 2013 only getting better from here, every single day.


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Staying home: Damned if you do, damned if you don’t

AH, MONDAY.

Fuck you.

Normally I would have already been at work (my days off are Thursday and Friday), but I took Sunday off for the wedding party (which I missed) and Saturday off because of how I was feeling (and because it was already on the books, for some reason).

Last night the pain was bad enough that I was using the down-on-all-fours labor position, breathing through it and getting light-headed. I took a pregnancy test to rule out ectopic pregnancy (negative), and decided to call the gyne today if it continued.

So while I’m able to be a mostly upright human being today, my head is splitting open and I am unsure of how bad things may get today. I can already feel that bone-deep pain creeping down my legs, so my guess is “not awesome”.

And there’s a presidential debate tonight, so I know I’m going to want to fall over before the night is through.

And then, what should be a ray of hope: Boyfriend has mistakenly been given today off. Boyfriend offers to work my shift so I can stay home on FMLA.

Problem, you say? What problem?

Well, there’s guilt: we are beyond short staffed at work and can use everyone. Plus, why should he have to cover me because I have cramps? And I feel like I’ve abandoned the rest of the crew.

There’s fear and shame: Last week was so bad I tried to stand up to talk to a boss and almost fell over. This prompted many questions on his part that I was flustered, and I could have dodged but decided “oh fuck it” and told him the truth. Then he looked flustered. And I am afraid of getting so bad, like I used to, that I have to be taken home, or have people asking me all the time what’s going on and looking and feeling like shit at work, where I am supposed to be strong and indifferent.

So where does it stand? I’ll probably post this, and then get in the shower and go to work, like a good little soldier. Don’t expect me to dress nice, though.

What about you? What does it take for you to stay home or back out of events? How do you feel about it?


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Hello, lovers. Yes, it has been a little while since I have been here. I’ll be filling in the adventures and misadventures as we go.

But today poses a particular problem that I know is not unique to me:

Do I stay home or not stay home?

I took the day off for the post-wedding BBQ of a lady I have known since the third grade. We’ve been out of touch over the last year and a half, except for her text about getting engaged and receiving the invite, and any visits she’s planned to my town have been canceled at the last minute. Our job schedules have kept me from taking off time to go down there when she isn’t working. Her wedding was private and held yesterday; today is a casual event by the beach.

Yesterday I was home, on the couch with a heating pad and codeine just from the threat of my impending menses. Today it has arrived and my internal organs are wringing themselves out like a soaked Libman mop.

Suffice to say, two hours each way to an event where I only know the bride and groom is *not* sounding like what all the cool endometriosis is doing today.

So the boyfriend and I are torn between going to show our love & support, and staying here since I’m worse today and not looking forward to being crampy and cooped up.

The biggest motivator? It’s not necessarily the long-standing friendship; she doesn’t seem all that bothered if I don’t show up (I texted her last week to double check the date and she responded “if it’s too far, you don’t have to come”). It’s that I don’t want to feel like I’m missing out AGAIN.

I missed my college friends’ nuptials in May because of a lung infection. I missed the wedding of a 16-year friend because of last-minute training for my job that never even happened. Am I really going to skip even this because of endo?

Is it prideful to go, or prudent? Is it smarter to stay home or suck it up?

Along with “Why me?”, this is the eternal dilemma of the chronic pain patient: Do I stay or do I go.

Neither is a winner.

*AMENDMENT: After further review and discussion, we found that the drive to the venue is 3.5 hours each way. No, just not possible. Endometriosis, serial killer of joy.*