091 // I Can Move Again

Starting new medications means trading one set of side effects for another, and this causes the paradoxical condition of both feeling better and feeling worse at the same time.

My energy has returned, my joints so much feel better, and I’m no longer feeling bloated and heavy from the moment I wake up to the moment I lay down to sleep at night. Instead, though I have rolling headaches and nausea, and sharper pains in the belly that come and go.

It’s hard to gauge whether one medicine or another leaves you better off or worse but for me and for this medication, the relief from joint pain alone is a godsend. Not only can I move again, but being still is no longer painful either.

These entries are inspired by Thord D. Hedengren

086 // It Could Be Worse

I was finally able, after weeks of back and forth with my doctor, my insurance provider, the pharmacy, and the drug company, to get my medication and now I find myself almost too afraid to take it! They really should try to find gentler wording to use in those warning packets they give you the first time, you know?

I wish I felt comfortable enough to share the outrageous cost of the medication here but I will tell you that after ringing up the bottle the pharmacist simply started at the screen with a look that was equal parts confused and astounded.

He wouldn’t even speak and only after I told him he was worrying me and asked him to please explain the look on my face did he ask me what I normally paid for the medication. I told him that whatever the cost I wasn’t the one paying; it was the drug company, and he sighed relief on my behalf. When the price came up on the card reader, I understood his shock. Even if it wasn’t my money, it hurt a little to swipe that card.

No matter what I go through in this shit show of a healthcare system I am constantly reminded that it could be worse. I could have had to pay that price tag with my own money, and in all honestly, that price would have been many times larger if I didn’t have insurance at all.

I’m frustrated for me but I’m wholeheartedly sorry for those worse off. I hope change comes soon and we all get relief from this cruel and unnecessary bureaucracy.

These entries are inspired by Thord D. Hedengren

076 // A Body That Won’t Cooperate

I’m feeling awful today. My head, my stomach, my whole body! And I’m so tired. I got nothing done and now I’ll have to spend tomorrow trying to redo today.

I guess that’s not so bad, as long as I actually feel better. Either way, I will do my best and then I’ll do just a bit more. I want to hit the ground running this week and get some shit done this week. I don’t have time for this chronic illness crap. It’s so frustrating to be inside of a body that can’t, or won’t, cooperate.

These entries are inspired by Thord D. Hedengren

074 // I’m Still Waiting

I was supposed to begin my new medication today but there were more complications at the pharmacy. Now, even though my doctor has ordered the medication and even though I have already done a cost analysis, the benefits department still has to take one more look just to make sure that, I dunno, they still want to pay for it or whatever.

I sat in the waiting area for half an hour only to be told it would be at least a few hours more. They would call me theytsaid. So, I left the pharmacy nearly in years and went back to work to wait anxiously by my phone and got no phone call at all. Now, I’m still waiting, still frustrated, still not on medication, and seriously considering changing course and going back to infusion medications for which financial support has been easier to navigate.

My night wasn’t much better. I made a grave scheduling mistake and we ended up driving across town for an event that doesn’t take place for another week. So, to help cope with my embarrassment and guilt I proceeded to overstuff myself with a double cheeseburger and a bag full of cajun fries for dinner. Afterward, we snuggled in on the couch and watched trashy TV dramas until I felt calm enough to put the day firmly behind me and head to bed.

Tomorrow has to be better.

P.S. I want to take a moment to acknowledge that this is my 100th post here and to say that while I have only just begun to work out what kind of space, this is it has already been an immense joy to have. Too much in fact, I’m afraid. It’s been a complete distraction as well and while I know eventually I’ll have to venture out from the warm comforting glow of this new place, I’m happy for now just to explore, to tweak, to write my foolish words, and to be ignored. Thank you all for reading.

These entries are inspired by Thord D. Hedengren

066 // I’m Happy Too

I’m stressed, exhausted and irritable today, but I’m also feeling so, so happy too.

My doctor did call to yell at me as I expected she would when I set up the appointment yesterday. At the same time, she was professional and compassionate. She’s worried, but she also cares. We’re moving forward and I have more blood tests to do and a new schedule for future ones.

My sister flew into town last night, which is why I am both exhausted and happy. I was out later than I should have been to be with her, her kids, our other sister, and my mom. We had fun. We always do when we are together, but it’s more than that. Sisters, no matter how difficult or annoying they are, or how different they are from you, they know you. They might not always get you but they know you better than anyone.

They live their lives beside yours, for all of their lives if not all of yours. It’s a gift too many of us squander and I am determined not just to be grateful for them, but to give them a reason to be grateful for me in return.

I still had to get up early this morning for work, which explains the irritability, but I’m trying my best to keep my spirits up. I’m off tomorrow for my brother’s wedding and after that, I’ll have one less thing to stress about while I stress about all the other things I have to do.

These entries are inspired by Thord D. Hedengren

065 // Gah!

Why, oh why, does the United States health care system have to be so damn complicated!

The IBD nurse called to schedule a time for a phone appointment with my Gastroenterologist tomorrow. I’m positive she wants to yell at me for not getting my shit together and taking too long to enroll in the financial assistance program through the drug company so I can start my new medication.

The thing is, I actually had my shit together this time…mostly. I was only dragging my feet for like, a week! The rest of the time I was waiting for the cost analysis from the insurance company, then trying to figure out which financial assistance program to apply for, then reapplying after I applied for the wrong one, then having them explain to me that the one I am approved for is a special one that is extra complicated for no reason other than because I have my insurance provider likes to make things complicated, then, after I was finally approved, having them try to explain to me how it works, twice!

Now I’m enrolled in a program I barely understand and still cannot use for another 7 to 10 business days while a wait for a welcome packet in the mail and somehow, it’s my fault this is taking so long?

And that is just the tip of the healthcare iceberg. Choosing an insurance provider in the first place was complicated. Getting a diagnosis was complicated. All the blood tests and side effects are complicated. Keeping myself well is complicated. Choosing, starting, and switching medications is complicated. It shouldn’t be this damn complicated!

All this, I am convinced, is only further complicating the condition all this complication I am going through is supposed to treat!

These entries are inspired by Thord D. Hedengren

052 // Troubling Signs

I’ve been feeling good lately, physically at least. The longer I am off my old infusion medication the better I feel too. I’ve lost weight. I’m happier, more motivated, and enjoying the random bursts of enthusiasm I have for people again. I feel good, but there are troubling signs too. I’m afraid without the infusions to control my ulcerative colitis plus all the stress I’ve been dealing with, a flare is imminent.

It figures that when my symptoms are under control the rest of my body would feel like crap, and when I get my gut under control, then the rest of my feels cruddy. Sigh.

Tonight we secured the wedding venue and our date, and we settled on wedding invitations too. Three decisions down, about a thousand more to go. I am finally feeling more excited, but I’m also feeling a lot more anxious and doubtful. I can’t shake the fear that we are now locked into something over our heads and financially foolish. I can’t help doubting we can pull it off or that any of this will be worth it or as wonderful as we dream.

I just try to remember that at the end of all this I will be married and that, more than any of those thousand little decisions I’ll have to make until then, is what matters most.

These entries are inspired by the journal posts of Thord D. Hedengren

034 // Growing Old While Young

Ending the night in pain. The joint that connects my middle finger to my palm has swollen and the joints in my feet are protesting against my weight.

I’ve taken ibuprofen even though I know I’m not supposed to because it’s the only thing that helps. I’ve got two heating pads going and I’ve put myself to bed early hoping to wake up in a better state.

I’m doing my best to stay strong because know I’m only going to get worse while I wait for financial assistance from the new drug company. I’ve got my fingers crossed for that phone call sometime this week.

Damn, it’s depressing to grow old while you’re still so young.

These entries are inspired by the journal posts of Thord D. Hedengren

029 // Tonight, I’m a Mess

I can’t believe we’re not even halfway through the week yet, and this godforsaken month seems determined not to end. Why don’t the weeks of April through October ever feel this long? I suppose times slows to a crawl when you’re miserable.

I spent most of the day dealing with medical professionals, staff, and drug companies. There was good news, or, rather, there was information which did help put my mind at ease. But, moving forward with new treatment means a battery of new tests and appointments and it also means more anxiety. I’m trying my best here but it’s hard.

So, tonight I came home, claimed a corner of the couch as my own, wrapped myself in my comfiest blanket, and let my girlfriend know that is where she could find me for the rest of the night. Tomorrow I’ll be strong again, but tonight I’m a mess, and that’s okay.

These entries are inspired by the journal posts of Thord D. Hedengren

If We Were Having Coffee // The Art of Worrying About Worrying

Hello dear readers! Happy Sunday and welcome. Thank you for stopping by for a bit of caffeine and catching up.

The sun is shining this morning but it won’t be for long, according to forecasts. We’ll be going from a high over 50 degrees today to one of only 28 tomorrow. We’re looking at snow, again, and I’ve got my fingers crossed for another snow day but the chances are slim. So, I’m soaking up the sun while I can, before I’m forced out into the cold tomorrow. I’ve got the blinds open and a few windows cracked, letting the crisp air in.

So, pull up a chair and help yourself to a cup. I’ve got plenty of cold brew ready or I can put the Moka pot on if you’re craving something warmer. Let’s talk about last week.

“Life isn’t sugarcoated. Why should coffee be?”

— Tommy Wallach, Thanks for the Trouble

If we were having coffee, I would tell you that it was a wintry week here in Colorado. This week, in fact, felt like the very first time winter had made an appearance at all. We had blizzard conditions, icy roads, freezing temperatures, and stand still traffic across the city. But as much as the traffic, the snow, and the cold inconvenienced us all I was glad it finally arrived and not just because of the resulting day off of work.

While most of the worry over climate change focuses on the coastal regions, and rightly so since their homes and businesses may be underwater as a result, we sometimes forget—here in the middle of the country where mountains fill streams from snowpack and cool air rushes over peaks to cool our cities—that we are just as vulnerable. Our mountains are not the strong and steady defender we imagine them to be.

We’re seeing less snow, warmer winter temperatures, and less water in our rivers. We’ve been seeing hotter and hotter summers and higher and higher chances for wildfires. A warm dry winter might feel nice, but it’s troubling too. I sincerely hope we see a lot more snow in the coming weeks and months—and a few more snow days spent cozied up on the couch wouldn’t hurt either, you know?

If we were having coffee, I would tell you that the snow made the short week an even shorter week which threw everything and everyone off at work. Then, we had more snow, which made for even more confusing and anxious conditions. We made a lot of mistakes and we all, including me, had to take a moment to admit our shortcomings and resolve to do better, to slow down, to pay closer attention, and to make better choices, no matter what.

For my part, I have to ask more questions. I have to get more involved, double-check, and see for myself more. I know that my coworkers are smart and capable, but I have to remember that they aren’t perfect. I have to help them out, and all of us in the process, by being a second set of eyes and ears and picking up the slack where they will from time to time undoubtedly drop it—as they would do for me.

At the same time, we all, especially me, have to learn to separate the big and dangerous mistakes from the little baby mistakes. We have to separate the mistakes we might have changed from the ones wholly out of our control too. I saw a lot of people stressing about things that had no discernible impact and that could not have been avoided. All that stress is contagious, and we were spreading it around like a bad rash, making a bad situation worse for no reason.

If we were having coffee, I would tell you that I leveled up in my anxiety when I managed to make myself sick by worrying too much about not worrying too much.

I talked a bit about it already but last Friday I received some bad news. The medication I am on to control my ulcerative colitis is working, but it’s damaging my liver. So, I have to be moved to something new. Something new means a whole lot of “what if’s” and worrying. Worrying that actually triggers my symptoms.

After my initial freak out, I tried really hard to calm down, and I tried really hard not to worry about all those “what if’s” but I ended up triggering my symptoms anyway when I couldn’t get the consequences of all this anxiety out of my head. So, now I’m just trying to think of anything else. I’m trying to occupy my mind with books and writing, and getting out of the house later for shopping and sun.

Tuesday I have an appointment with my GI to discuss my future medication and hopefully, she will answer some of those “what if” questions and put my mind at ease. She’s usually pretty good at that.

If we were having coffee, I would have to bring up the current state of politics in this country. I don’t know where you fall on the political spectrum and I certainly don’t want to argue. I’m not here, today anyway, to change minds. I think many of us are past that. I think right now most of us are just tired. I am tired.

If you are one of the federal workers who has struggled through this government shutdown, with the loss of pay and, in many cases, with a lack of options to express your frustration and needs, my heart goes out to you and I hope with all my heart that this two or three-week reopening can be made permanent. I hope this will never, ever happen again, but I confess, I am almost certain it will.

Earlier this week I read an article about the way politics functions in this country and how it leads to situations just like this one and may lead to worse and deeper deadlocks in the future. I think the tide needs to shift. We need to find a new way to fight each other that allows people to give in for the good of the country!

But I fear this shutdown, rather than waking us up to the worst parts of our politics has only further desensitized us.

If we were having coffee, I would tell you that I can see the sunlight beginning to creep through the westerly windows. If I don’t get up from this seat, get moving and get out the door soon, I’ll miss it. I’d like to have a little bit of Sunday before Monday, you know?

I hope you had a good week. I hope you made some progress and that you made time for you. Try not to stress too much and I won’t either. Try to breathe, to take it slow, and I will too.

Until next time.

Written for the #WeekendCoffeeShare link-up hosted by Eclectic Alli.

Photo by andrew welch on Unsplash