My name is Jessica, and I'm not going to shut up anymore.

Wednesday, November 6, 2013

In need of some needling.

I'm traversing new ground. New possibilities. Hopeful outcomes.

I'm getting acupuncture on Friday.

While I have yet to try it out, I've heard that acupuncture is a valid form of pain management therapy for those who may suffer from chronic and/or bouts of acute pain. In my case, I have both (bad) bouts of acute pain from my jaw/upper back muscles and lovely gnawing pain that I have yet to combat in my lower, right abdomen (a place that is the constant source of endometriosis pain and, coincidentally, endometrial growth). Nevertheless, I am very much looking forward to getting "pricked" and "prodded" at a doctor's office! Let's call this a "first" of sorts in this regard.

I'll be getting my acupuncture consult and therapy at Gettysburg Holistic Health Center. As I spoke to the founder Lynn Roby on the phone today to make my appointment, and came to find out that Lynn is a survivor of a rare and deadly phenomena: a brain aneurysm. She has published a book entitled From Darkness to Light: my journey back from a brain filled with blood which I may get to after I finish Joan Halifax's Being With Dying: Cultivating Compassion and Fearlessness in the Presence of Death.

After speaking for almost 10 minutes with Lynn, while I don't know her personally, she revealed that she started the center due to having chronic, constant pain from having had serious brain trauma. As the operation center of the body, I can only imagine the kinds of headaches and body aches that she had to suffer through to get where she is today. She mentioned that yoga, acupuncture therapy, and a diet & lifestyle change truly helped her overcome her chronic pain symptoms. I am hopeful that someday I can say the same.

But for now, I have to admit that I'm kind of bummed that I still suffer from pain. And my attitude towards pain is becoming increasingly...well...depressing? After this last bout of therapy with my TMJD specialist, his recent relinquishing of his services to me in the midst of a terrible "flare-up" of face and head pain, I feel very desperate and lost. Sure, I have meds for endo which may help my head pain go away. Okay. Let me be honest: the ONLY pharmacological therapy that has helped is a combo of valium & percocet. So I admit to sometimes (over-dosing?) on my Tramadol just to keep my head pain in check. And I'll be even more honest: this is NOT good. Not good at all.

So in a moment, this week, of desperation, I decided a few things: 1) to call a TMJD specialist at a teaching hospital (UMD). 2) To start acupuncture therapy. 3) To keep up with Physical Therapy I guess as long as I'm allowed? 4) To keep up my bi-weekly deep tissue massages. 5) To start chiropractic adjustments on my back/upper spine to see if this helps alleviate some of my symptoms.

I know that TMJD and endometriosis could not appear to be more different, as the affect different parts of the body. But really when you think about it: it all comes down to inflammation, irritation and radiating pain. What does this sound like? Endo, hands down. So I'm taking another step towards healing my WHOLE body rather than just parts of it at a time. I am very hopeful that creating a relationship with the Holistic Health Center will lead to further lifestyle changes. Perhaps someone can help me more with anti-inflammatory diet changes? Who knows. But just from talking with Lynn briefly, mentioning that I'm starting to be more involved with local support networks, she was kind enough to offer her facility for a future meeting for the Central PA Endometriosis Support Network. Wow! What a nice offer up front before meeting someone! Thus, I guess it's nice to know there may be a place to host an in-person meeting for those of us who are in the Gettysburg area.

The point of this blog is to announce that I am--FINALLY--listening to Dr. H and looking at holistic healing methods to integrate into my therapy. While some folks adhere to a purely holistic lifestyle and others to a Western practitioner's lifestyle, I would like to allow for both East and West to meet, to work together. I am looking forward to healing my body, to getting back to the old, "in shape," healthy, happy and active Jessica that I knew not so long ago.

One thing that many people don't have to think about is how much having a disease, an affliction, a health problem (whether it be long or short term), really does affect your life and how you live it. You make plans, decline plans, work, don't work, vacation, postpone vacations, based on how you feel each day. It's really a day-to-day battle. (Wow, now that I think of it as a "day-to-day" thing, I feel a little bit more relieved!) While day-to-day means that I have to get through this day, perhaps it means that tomorrow might be better? I always like to be hopeful, and I know that days awaiting surgery are torture-like. At least, for now, I am looking forward to this Friday. I'm looking forward to physical therapy tomorrow and to Friday's combo chiropractor/acupcunture date. I also look forward to seeing how I feel on Saturday and possibly seeing what additional "tips" I can pick up from either physician about dealing with chronic pain. They say your lifestyle depends on how you style your life, how you live it. Well, right now I think I'm only doing the bare minimum to keep living--not to improve it. Perhaps this experience will propel me to seek beyond expections, just like I do in every other aspect of my life. Either way, I'm hopeful. And sometimes hope is all you need.

Thursday, September 5, 2013


Today I wrote a long email to Dr. H. and confessed.

Today I confessed how bad my pain was before surgery. And also that the medication that he prescribed me for three weeks was taken. In three weeks. Because it was bad.
Really bad.

Today I confess that I'm worried the pain won't go away.
Today I confess that I don't know what else to do at this point.
Today I confess that I am trying to be strong, but it's hard.
Really hard.

I lost 16 lbs since June. Not because I was trying. But because of the nausea before surgery. And now, after surgery, I don't eat much because of the pain. Because I'm scared that any extra pressure in my bowels will just make me feel sick.
And I feel like a chronic complainer. I feel inadequate when I tell my husband "I can't do (fill in the blank) because I don't feel good."

And then when he asks me "why don't you feel good?" I just want to scream at him.
I confess: I do scream back: "WHY DO YOU THINK I DON'T FEEL GOOD?!!!"
So now the protocol is when I say "I don't feel good," he must respond with a mechanical: "Is it Pamela Beard?" I will reply with a sound, "Yes." Conversation: over.

Today I confess that I'm worried about my body becoming addicted or immune to pain management tactics. Like drugs. Meditation. Breathing. Heating pads. Stress eating.

Today I confess that I strive to lead by example. And I'm not worried about the example I'm leading for my students--it's more for myself. When is it okay to get up and leave work? When is it okay to call off sick? When is it okay to "suck it up?" When is it okay to take pain meds when the world is telling you that you'll become a drug addict?

I confess: I wish men had uteruses.
I don't know what difference it would make. But, like all things, isn't it easier to understand someone when you have the tiniest idea what they're going through?
I confess: I wish all people held virtues of compassion. But the truth is, they don't.

So Dear Dr. H,
I'm an over-achiever who thought this (third) laparoscopic surgery would be a piece-of-cake.
I confess: it is not.


Thursday, August 29, 2013

Post-Op: Ain't nobody got time fo' that!

A letter to my Lady Parts: Part II

We did it, Pam. We got through surgery. We found out that, within a year's time, our endometriosis goblins had grown back. And like a super hero, Dr. H and his handy little robot removed the nasty growth around our right ovary, fallopian tube and some crap growing in our posterior cul-de-sac near our poop chute. The success of surgery? Aces.

But do you feel okay? Because--let me be honest--I feel like shit. It's been taking a long time to heal, too. I shuffle, scoot and hobble around my house like an old lady. In fact, I've been day-dreaming about a walker. At least a bedazzled walker. All white rhinestones, of course.
Is this bad?

I have sharp pains in my right side, still. It's been hard to keep normal working hours (which is unbelievably frustrating), and so I've been at the mercy of my body. At the mercy of you, come to think of it. (Dammit, Pam!) I mean--it's not like it's your fault or anything, so please know that I ain't mad atcha. But if you're curious, when I need to go #1 or #2, I feel the wretched pressure of pain and cramping that would better off suit someone whom I disliked. Unlike most people, I would wish this pain on my worst enemy--because it goes away eventually, at least. I don't want to the world to think I'm a horrible person or anything, but now that I'm thinking about ways of torture...

Back to the point: We had Stage II endometriosis this time. Not as bad as last year, but think about it--that was ONE YEAR AGO! A whole lotta crap grew back in record time, and I think we did everything we could have done to prevent it. Like the Mirena IUD. By the way, I've been meaning to ask you: How do you feel about this? I mean, I think you're having cramps because of Ms. Mirena, but I haven't had the time to ask. If you think about it, let me know. I've been bringing my heating pad to work lately just in case. In fact, it feels rather nice as I write this right now, doesn't it?

Secondly, I met with Martha yesterday--our Physician's Assistant who is balls in my opinion. (Oh yes, sorry Pam, I'm using masculine terms of endearment, but "balls" means "tits" and "tits" also means "awesome." So Martha, in other words, is awesome.) She explained that Dr. H did a lot of work on our right side--like, a LOT of pipe cleaning. She showed me the pictures of our ovaries and fallopian tubes on the right. Of course, I didn't know what the hell we were looking at, but being the nerd that I am, I insisted on seeing visual evidence of the growth that was making us so sick we've lost almost 12-15 lbs in the last 2 months. Lemme tell ya--it was gross. Our right ovary was literally stuck to some other muscle wall--they call that an "adhesion." And there was a white, bumpy layer of gunk surrounding everything. Like I said, though, Dr. H licked it out of there. (No, not literally licked! C'mon, Pamela. Head out of the gutter, please. This is a serious conversation.) Either way, after removing all of the crap on our right side, it turns out the left side was virtually clean from any signs of endo. High-Five! (Or is it "High Uterus?") I don't know how you do things down there--it's not like you have hands or anything, but if you had an appendage to slap, would that be an ovary?

You should also know that there was a mass of growth in the posterior cul-de-sac. I think they also call it the "Pouch of Douglas" or something. So much for a pouch. If I had a pouch in my abdomen, I'd at least want Tory Burch to design it. Or Marc Jacobs. It would be sparkly and fun--possibly purple or cobalt blue. Yes, a cobalt blue P of D with crystal embellishment. Tasteful embellishment. Not like "My Big Fat Gypsy Wedding" or anything. In the meantime,
the lessons that we should share with our Endo Sisters in pain are:

Eat a soft diet with little meat while you heal.
Drink tea--without caffeine--
preferably fresh herbs in hot water (a combination of: mint, rosemary, lavendar, oregano, basil, thyme) Some of these fresh herbs have anti-inflammatory powers. Also it helps you stay hydrated.

Make yourself a "nest." In other words, make a comfy place where you can lie down with your torso lifted up slightly and a pillow under your legs to help the gas flow towards your bum. As in: help yourself fart. You will feel MUCH better!
Take Colace.
Drink plenty of fluids--not sugary shit, but water, tea, whatever. Fruit juice is okay in moderation to get some calories while you heal. A gingerale is nice every now and then, but I am wary to drink carbonated beverages while dealing with internal gas problems.
The "gas pain" is probably the worst part. Something I wouldn't wish on my worst enemy, in fact.
Get a neck/shoulder massage--preferably someone who can come to your house and massage your neck muscles while you lie, face up, somewhere dark, warm and cozy. Hopefully they won't try to get fresh.
Have people "on call" to take care of you. Trust me: you will need them.
Be open and honest with yourself. And your boss. No explanation needed, I hope. You are NOT Superwoman. Although I know you try...
Call your doctor. If anything seems awry. If you're spotting--bright red, heavily, whatever. If you have unusual pain. If, like me, you find yourself with a knock-down drag-out cold in the middle of healing. Your doctor's office will advise you what to do both homeopathically and if you can take additional medication.

It gets better. It's cliche. But it's also quite true.

So that's our story: We weren't crazy after all! Again. Be wary for now, my friend, but heal fast and let me know if I'm doing too much around here. I'm trying to take it easy, but as it turns out, there's only so much Lifetime Movie Network I can watch and the latest fantasy-romance novel I picked up has sucked me deep into a fictional portrayal of 18th century Scotland. I think you would like it, but it's already made me cry. More than once. And with our weakened, healing abdominal muscles, all I can say is: Ain't nobody got time fo' that!

What we do have time for is knowing that we have time to wait for babies. The baby factory has vacancy, but is currently not open for business. As long as you're okay with that, so am I. Be in touch, Pam.

Your Endo Sister

Thursday, July 25, 2013

Dear Pamela Beard: A letter to my lady parts

Just to avoid any confusion, "Pamela Beard" is my nickname for my uterus. I mean, guys name their man parts, right? Anyways...


Dear Pamela,

Hey girl. How are you? Just from how you've been acting around me lately, I'm gonna go ahead and imagine that you'll tell me things are "fine." But when you say "fine," I know that you mean things are not fine. I know you're not doing so well right now. It's okay to be honest. In fact, it's why I'm writing you.

Pam, I'm scared. I'm scared for you. I'm scared for us. I'm afraid that because we've both been sick lately, we'll find ourselves in a most precarious position. And by "precarious" I mean infertile. YES, I KNOW we've talked about this before, and you tell me not to worry! You tell me: "You can achieve your professional dreams and wait to have babies. You don't have to hinge your femininity upon your ability to procreate. If your fallopian tubes are too scarred in three years, you can always look at adoption. The world doesn't have to end here." But Pam, I'm worried. I'm worried that, while I obviously have dreams to become Dr. Knouse someday, I'm going to look back upon my life and ask "what if?" What if I wouldn't have waited to have babies? What if I wouldn't have had that abortion in college? What if I just said Fuck it and decided to take my Nuva Ring out tomorrow? Am I allowed to dream of having both titles of "Dr." and "Mom?" Or must I choose only one option.

Am I being an asshole by thinking I have the right to choose to gamble with my fertility? I know women who are struggling with becoming pregnant. I know amazing couples who want nothing more than to be parents, but still have challenges conceiving both with and without medical intervention. When issues like this arise, I think to myself: Am I wasting away my precious fertile years? Am I an asshole?

Pam, we're getting surgery soon. Perhaps within the next 2 weeks so that we can recover before our students come back for the fall semester. We're getting surgery--only 1 inscision this time!--and Dr. H says he'll check on the status of your health, our ovaries, and fallopian tubes. I was sure to express my concerns to Dr. H about fertility since you, me and the hubby will be thinking about this in the next two years, possibly three. I say "my concerns" because I know you're a lady of leisure; you've told me before that you don't mind not having a job and that baby-making is my decision, not yours. I appreciate your laid-back approach to this situation. It keeps me balanced, I think.
I should also tell you that we're getting the Mirena IUD, so be prepared to have a roommate for a while. I know you prefer to live alone, and have managed to successfully reside as neighbors to my Nuva Ring for the last year and a half. The Mirena will prevent pregnancy for up to three years, so you'll be living together for a while. But hey, "Mirena" seems like a nice name. I hope you gals can become great friends!
I have to mention this--just so you're aware--that if Dr. H looks up inside of us and thinks that we look like a "mess," then he'll let us know that we should think about family planning sooner than later. Your "lady of leisure" days will be numbered. I just thought I'd give you a heads-up about that--you know--because we're besties.

Oh, Pamela. I'm scared. What if it is a mess in there? Or what if nothing is wrong? Then what? Am I crazy? Is the ridiculous pain, nausea, bloating, fatigue and discomfort all just in my head? I hate that I have to ask these questions, but I do. After all the shit I went through last year, I still question myself constantly. I know this isn't healthy, but what else can I do? I had doctor after doctor tell me that I had "nerve entrapment," or a "bad back," or "Irritable Bowel Syndrome." That "we'll treat you for endometriosis," but at the end of the day no one really knew what was wrong with me. Then we met Dr. H. I know this might sound silly, but I don't want to let him down; I want to get better, but I also want him to find endometriosis in this surgery. I don't want him, the best doctor I've ever come to know, to think I'm crazy, too.

By the way, I hope that (between you and me) this next surgery works. I'm so incredibly tired of being in pain. I'm tired of looking at my "Leave Balance" at work and fretting that I don't have enough time to take-off to have surgery. I hate that I might miss out on this up-coming conference because, well, what if my surgery falls upon the date of the conference? Sure, I can probably get a refund. I can re-book my flight. I can look for other professional development opportunities out there. In the big picture, it's not that big of a deal. But if I want to be honest, I'm sick of being scared to make plans. Again. This was the life I lead last year--it's not supposed to happen again. This year.

Pamela, if you don't know this already, I should tell you that endometriosis never truly goes away. There is no cure. Research suggests that pregnancy may have a greater chance of lessening growth, and only in some cases, it may not return after a woman is pregnant. But not all endometrial cells are created equally. Like cancer, endometriosis cells can regenerate "mildly, moderately or aggressively." Thus, even if we did get pregnant, there are no guarantees that this will stop our pain. We might have to get a hysterectomy some day. Possibly in our 30s if we do have babies within the next 5 years. (I know you don't want to think about it! It would mean we'd be breaking up for good--for life. Don't worry; it's not a decision that I'll make lightly, and I'll be sure to consult with you first.) It's not something to dwell on, but it's something to think about. I mean, the more I talk about this to women, the more I find that so many women have had a hysterectomy or some form of laparoscopic excision/surgery. It's nuts! On the surface, I feel so alone, but once you begin to dig a little deeper--once you begin to peel away the shame of having "lady part problems"--I find that I'm not so alone. There are many women out there in our situation. We have to remember that. Always.

I know you may not be able to write back right away, but if you can, please tell me that I'm not crazy. Please tell me that I'm not an asshole. Please tell me that I need to relax and wait until our surgery is complete so we know our next step. Please tell me that I am lucky to have support systems--husband, family and friends--who support me and want me to recover, to be "okay." Please tell me that sometimes the greatest thing we can do as humans is to "let go" to the feeling that we have to maintain control over everything in our lives. Please tell me to let go. To have hope. To understand the meaning of grace. And in the meantime, to get some damn sleep.

Thanks for listening, Pamela.

Your friend,

Monday, April 15, 2013


To be clear: I hate the Emergency Room. I hate the feeling of helplessness that permeates the space between myself and the standard changing room curtain. I hate the chill of sterility. I hate being prodded by med students (sorry to my cousin Caiti who is currently in med school!). I hate repeating myself over and over and over again. I hate feeling like someone is going to walk into my room at any minute and tell me that I'm crazy for being there. That because I'm not dying, I should stop taking up bed space and go the hell home.

But as much as I hate the Emergency Room, I sometimes find myself there. Two weeks ago, I found myself in the Hershey ER with severe abdominal pain and a sense that if I strained my bowels or my bladder, organs would start to fall out of me. It was bad.

To keep my story short and sweet, I was doped-up on Dilaudid and still in crazy pain. It felt like both ovaries were burning and the stabbing, throbbing pain crept all the way from my belly into my upper thighs and down my legs. I had only ever experienced pain like this a few times before; it felt like I had an ovarian cyst. A few hours after being heavily medicated, I finally had a transvaginal ultrasound. The results? Nothing. Well, nothing remarkable.

Because I'm super nosy, I always ask the technicians what they see on the monitors. I mean, if someone is sticking a big ole plastic wand up into my vag, I wanna know what's going on in there! Even so, the "charm-free" technician acted like I was a nuisance and said: "It looks like you had a large follicle on the right side that is folded in on itself."
I think: "Oh, could it have been a cyst?"
She says, nonplused, "No. It's normal."

Great. So I'm in the ER for no reason? No Jessica, don't start thinking you're crazy again. (This is what I have to keep telling myself.) Meanwhile, back in my chilly "holding cell" the doctor returns to tell me that it very well could be endometriosis flaring up again.

I'm writing this blog today not to claim my return into a "decline" of health. Rather, I'm writing this because I wanted to point out two things. First, I'm pretty sure my endo is flaring up again. I'm pretty sure that it's because I'm majorly stressed out. I'm pretty sure that when I'm done with this semester, I'll probably start to feel significantly better. Secondly, I freaked out. My doped-up ass starting bawling at the thought that my endo was back. (It never truly goes away--duh!) I started freaking out, thinking: "I'm gonna have to go back on Lupron! I'm gonna have to have surgery again!"

Ladies, I ask you: Have you ever felt like this? Say, after having surgery, after keeping things under control, have you ever freaked out because you thought your body was in severe decline, worrying that you were starting all over again with treatment?

I hope the answer is yes. But I commend you if your answer is no.

Ladies, I tell you this: Stay positive. Honest to goodness, keeping a positive attitude over the last few months as I started to feel pain creeping into my abdomen again, has been the only thing that's kept me afloat. I write this to you after finding myself in the ER again, thinking for a brief (and drugged) moment that I was a helpless victim of my body. After sobering up--and vomiting the whole way home from the drugs (always ask for Zofran before you leave the ER if you've been given pain meds)--I realized that I was going to be OK.

I think back to myself a year ago. I virtually let endometriosis rule my life. It was a horrible experience, and I thought often about killing myself because I had been in so much pain without relief or a diagnosis. (There, I admitted it--FINALLY.) But now, even after having found myself in dire straights, I can tell you that I'm FINE. I'm ok. I'm gonna make it. I'm not depressed any more. I'm well on my journey to discover who I am. Recently, the President of the College (I work at a college) commended me on my professional success and mentioned that the "little girl-ness" inside of me had finally matured into a professional example of leadership. WOW. I'm paraphrasing, but the point is this: NEVER GIVE UP HOPE. Even when you find yourself in familiar territory like the ER. Even when you have submitted your body to scrutiny again. Even when you're pretty sure you're going backwards rather than forwards, NEVER GIVE UP. You'll be ok!

In the meantime, do whatever you have to do to stay positive. Talk to your loved ones about your fears. Talk to your doctor about your concerns. Go for a walk. Sleep late. Read a trashy romance novel. Reach out to anyone whom you know has experienced endometriosis or cysts. Comment on this post! If anything, send your cosmic question into the universe through virtual networks. There there are always resources that can help. I recommend the Facebook Page for the Endo Research Center:

After I graduate, I hope to help establish a Central Pennsylvania Endo support group. If you know of any resources, feel free to share! If you live in south-central PA, feel free to reach out!

Always remember: you are not alone. Don't give up hope.

My loving, supportive husband, Justin, has been an important part of my recovery. This is a picture of us (making plans and having fun!) at a Penguins game in Feb 2013. Go Pens!

Monday, March 25, 2013

Getting to Zero: Thoughts on Recovery

"To let go is to admit powerlessness. Which means: the outcome is not in my hands."
I am not a god. Or goddess. I cannot see into the future or predict Michelle Obama's next fabulous outfit. But sometimes--in the dark, secret moments of night--I wish so badly that I could see into the future. Into the infinite possibility of tomorrow.

Because then, maybe I could figure out how to be an endometriosis success. Maybe with this knowledge, I could help myself get out of the negative cycle of feeling good/feeling bad/feeling better/feeling worse. Maybe I might know how to recover.
Recovery. There's a tricky thing to say. I once wrote a short story about recovery post surgery:

"If only I could recover here. Recovery. Recover. Re-cover. To find something I have lost. Overy. Over. . . I split word and morpheme to make meaning, my own. Recovery: to choose sorrow or separate yourself from it."
For a few months after surgery, I found myself in a precarious position. I was not sick. I was not in pain. I wasn't overly tired or consumed by overwhelming nausea. I was...okay. After living for almost eight months of feeling like I had a knife stuck in my uterus, I finally found myself opening up, body and mind, to the single, perfect feeling of "relief." I was recovering. What we don't tell ourselves after we begin a regimen of health consciousness is that we'll someday feel better. And when we do feel better, it's like the world has been reopened to us, blooming in full like apple blossoms in springtime. 
So here is my question: Why did I feel so depressed after recovering? Why did I choose not to separate myself from the sorrow of feeling victim to my own body? Here's why: When you recover, your life changes again. You begin to feel like the need to be a social hermit is minimized. You begin to realize that you can make dinner plans. That you can stomach dessert. That you can have fun and live your life again. AGAIN. Meaning: you have to introduce yourself to this "new" person--this new you--who is learning how to reorient and renegotiate social boundaries all. Over. Again. And it's hard!
Not to "boo hoo," of course, but I feel like getting back to Zero has been a rough road. I say "zero," meaning that when I feel at Zero, I am at a zero on the pain scale. You know, the scale that literally ruled my existence for the better part of a year. It's tough to reside in a place of neutrality when you are so accustomed to the disease and anxiety of your social scale. Being ready to not make plans is a function of stability for a sick person. It's a function of control over a body that is seemingly control-less. Not knowing what to expect becomes a (albeit paradoxical) routine, and feeling like the pain always binds you to the uncertainty of making important life decisions becomes a force of corporeal habitude. In other words: being "above zero" was difficult, but over time it becomes part of your routine. And you adjust to the phenomenology of your body to make illness your 'norm.'
And this is where I suggest, too, that being "less than zero" indicates that I have felt--I can't believe I'm about to say this--a mourning for the illness that, for a time, controlled my life. It's so strange to feel a certain sorrow or sadness for feeling sick, but eventually "being sick" becomes part of your identity. You learn how to be sick because being healthy isn't an option.You begin to view yourself as a sick person rather than seeing the possibilities for yourself as a patient in recovery.
I also want to be clear and mention that, while I was in recovery for a few months, I have recently noticed some "bad" changes. I feel as though I may be headed in the wrong direction. As of the last few weeks, I have started feeling...weird...sick, maybe...again. I've started having bouts of nausea and migraines. I've had a few intermittent experiences of brief--but unbelievable--abdominal pain characteristic to the pain I had felt before. I start to wonder: "Okay, am I regressing and going back to feeling like poop?" To confess, a part of me is almost relieved to feel sick again. A part of me thinks: "At least I know how to function when I'm sick; at least I know what it's like to withdraw from the world."
I write things like this, and then I shake my head--I know that I don't want to be sick! I look at pictures of me from 2009, 2010 and 2011 until I had my hormone therapy. I had so much fun, I looked so healthy, I loved life! I don't want to go back to being a shell of my old self. No, sir. I do not.
So I have to keep thinking positively, yet realistically. Like my initial quote suggests, I cannot control my body; I am (ultimately) powerless to control every facet of its biological function. All the while, there are some things I can do to help myself stay less symptomatic than I was a year ago. Like eat gluten-free/Paleo diet. Or exercise. And meditate. Do yoga. Go to parties. Have parties. Brew beer (but don't drink't drink too much of it!). There are positive ways to help myself get out of this funk and get back to zero! I just have to remember that.
Just to keep it real--not necessarily to end of a negative note--I do still wonder about some things:
I'm worried that my endo will come back. Full force. Worse than before.
I'm worried that when it does come back (ok: IF it comes back), I'll feel too defeated to want to do anything about it.
I know in my bones--also rationally--that I will totally be proactive about treatment. But...if I'm not living up to my own expectations of health (by eating right 90% of the time), how do I stay accountable to myself without a proper network of support? Maybe there are some answers here that can be explored by getting myself involved in more reading, research and outreach.
What if I want (the pain) to come back? What if I liked some of the attention I got from feeling sick? What if I got comfortable being sick and don't want to really change?
I know that this thought comes from a place of apparent uncertainty. Again, I'm keeping it real, people. I admit that I did become rather accustomed to feeling sick, and I did learn to cope with the pain, the nausea, the constipation and peeing all the time (luckily not in my pants). But I only worry that feeling depressed from learning to be "me" again is probably more of a natural reaction than I have previously considered. Perhaps I still have to give myself some time to settle-in to my "new" self. Perhaps I need to learn how to forgive myself for not being the fit, healthy, runner self I was a few years ago.
On that note, I am not really the same person I was a year ago. What if I'm okay with being more introspective and introverted? What if I'm just not ready to run a half marathon again? How can I be "me" again if I'm not really sure who "me" is right now?
Answer: First of all, I'm not the same person I was a year ago. And I mean that more than just on a cursory level. I mean it: my priorities are not the same as they were before. I don't put friends and experiences so high on the prioty list. I'm concentrating on finishing graduate school and my profession. I have to be more introverted to survive my present goals. I have to be more serious about my priorities if I'm trying to advance myself professionally. And, NO: I'm not the same Jess I used to be. I don't party as much. I can't really drink beer. I don't go out as much, and I'm not into smelling like a smoke stack when I get home. Honestly, maybe this experience of illness was a positive thing because I learned how to be "on my own" rather than depending on my social network to energize my batteries. But to be fair to the "old" me, I do miss being social. I miss some of the friendships that I had cultivated, and I see that being introverted really does hurt the stamina of your social relationships. To that end, I'm honest when I say that I'm not sure who "me" is right now. But I'm interested in finding out who that person is --not for the sake of the future or for the legacy of the past. Rather: for today.