Creative Writing, Inspiration

One foot in the real world…

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And one foot pointing toward my dreams…

I haven’t been able to write as much as I’d like recently, because I’ve been busy focusing on my real-world exploits: specifically, earning money for grad school.

It’s hard to find the right balance. Follow your dreams and the money will come, they say. But when your dreams involve $70,000 in student loans, and three years with no income… blazing ahead with no thought of the financial risk is a little easier said than done.

For now, I just have to remind myself to slow down, and check in with the part of myself that knows exactly what my dreams are. The part that, despite whatever else is going on in my life, never truly loses sight of what I want to do.

After all, a lesson I’m learning is that it’s not just what you do as you go about your daily life– it’s also how you go about it.

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A mistake I’ve made in the past is to cut myself off completely from my dreams, focusing only on the pragmatics of what I need to get done. At times, it’s seemed easier. Safer.

But I’m realizing that was not a sustainable way to live. When you try to numb yourself to pain and doubt, and rush through life distracted trying not to feel anything… you also miss out on the good.

There is a certain pain that comes from trying to suppress your dreams. If you block it out for long enough, it will grow until you can’t ignore it anymore.

My goal right now is to remain focused on what I need to do in order to achieve my goal, without letting myself get so mired in the details that I lose sight of my original purpose.

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I’ve written a lot about helping people through chronic pain, and that’s a huge part of what I want to do as a PT. But ultimately, it’s about something bigger.

Really, it’s about providing a space for people to begin, wherever they are. To create a space where there is no judgment; where I believe my patients when they tell me how bad it really is, without giving them any reason to feel ashamed, or to censor themselves.

And then, using that as our starting place, we’ll work together to find answers. I know how hopeless things can seem at times, because I’ve been there myself.

Sometimes it can take years to find the right answer– or answers. Sometimes you don’t discover everything you need at once– you discover what you need in stages.

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I want to create a space for people to be in touch with their bodies, in whatever way works for them. To show my patients that you don’t have to wait until you are completely “better,” by some objective measure, to begin to create a sense of peace in your body.

You can actually begin the process right away– before you do anything else, before you’ve spent weeks in PT exercising.  It can actually be the very first thing you begin to work on. Sometimes, you just need to have the right person to show you the way.

I know, because I’ve been lucky enough to find those right people in my own life. And I hope, someday, to give back what I’ve learned, and be that person for others.

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I’ve come so far since the days when I was a terrified teenager with compartment syndrome and an eating disorder.  I may not have gone back to running 40 miles a week, but on the inside, I am millions of miles away from where I was.

There is so much that has gone into changing my perspective, and I hope to share it all with you.  I hope you’ll come along for the ride.

Uncategorized, Women's Health

So… I lost an ovary.

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Well, blogging friends, I still can’t believe this happened.  But this week, I lost my right ovary.

On Monday afternoon, I went to the emergency room with extreme abdominal pain in my lower right side.  It had been going on for almost 24 hours at that point.  At first I had thought it was just my chronic digestive problems acting up more than usual, but as time went by it became more and more painful, and harder to walk on my right leg.

I had never had anything go so seriously wrong with one of my internal organs before, and despite all of the pain, I still wasn’t expecting anything incredibly serious.  I am so used to dealing with pain and discomfort on a daily basis– to me, it’s just another part of the landscape.  I was just getting checked out to be sure.  I really thought they were going to send me home and tell me to follow up with my doctor.

They sent me in for an ultrasound, however, and from that point onwards the tone of everything changed.  Everyone started moving quickly.  I was told that my right ovary was swollen up to 7 centimeters, and that it had twisted inside of my abdomen.  Because of how it was twisted, the blood vessels that fed it were obstructed, and not enough blood was getting to it.

I don’t think more than an hour passed between the time the radiologist gave me my diagnosis and the point at which the mask was being placed over my face to knock me out before surgery.  Unfortunately, they weren’t able to save my ovary.

The two OB-gyn’s I saw at the hospital both reassured me that only having one ovary won’t affect my future fertility.  They said, contrary to what most people learn in sex ed, most women’s ovaries don’t take turns ovulating every month.  Instead, usually one ovary is dominant, releasing an egg every month– and if you lose that ovary, the other one can take over.  They promised me that many women live normal lives with only one ovary, and have kids, and reach menopause at a normal age.

But I still can’t believe this happened.  I am still waiting for some lab results to find out exactly what went on, but the doctors believe the reason my ovary twisted is because it had some sort of cyst on it weighing it down in a strange way.  This altered the way it was supposed to be anchored to my uterus, and caused it to twist.  The cyst on its own was probably nothing to worry about– many women get ovarian cysts on a regular basis– but because of its size, shape, and location, it managed to weigh down on my ovary in just the right way to get it to turn.

I can’t help feeling like maybe my ovary could have been saved if I hadn’t waited so long to go to the hospital.  All of the doctors and nurses I mentioned this to kept telling me not to blame myself, but I think they were just trying to spare my feelings.  Everything I’ve read since getting home emphasizes how important it is to get a diagnosis quickly.

I had simply never even heard of this before.  It’s hard for me to tell this story, but I wanted to put this information out there in case it can help someone else. If you ever have extreme or unusual abdominal pain, just go to the hospital.  Don’t wait it out like I did because you think it could be nothing, or because you don’t want to pay your high insurance deductible.  Just go.  Insurance costs be damned.  At least you might be able to keep more of your internal organs.

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Of course, as someone who really wants to have kids someday (not to mention going through menopause at a normal age) this is of course terrifying.  One ovary can supposedly do the work of two, but what happens if something happens to the second one?

There are two things I can do to protect my left ovary.

A) Take the birth control pill.  These cysts can form when an egg fails to leave the ovary.  If you’re on the pill, you stop ovulating, and no cysts can form. (At least not this type of cyst).

B) Go to the hospital for an ultrasound anytime I have pain in my lower left abdomen.  The doctor who performed the surgery said that in the future, all I will have to do is call her office and say I’m having abdominal pain, and they will set up an ultrasound at the hospital for me right away.

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That’s about it for this post.  Please ladies, don’t be like me.  Next time you are experiencing significant abdominal pain, go to the hospital RIGHT away.

The condition I had is known as ovarian torsion.  Check out this page for more information.

Thank you to Inspiration DC on Flickr for making this photo available.