Keeping the faith

And here we are at the end of another year.

It’s time for that reflecting-on-stuff thing we humans tend to do in preparation for the fresh page we like to envision ourselves starting on when the day, month, and year switch over all at the same time.

In some ways January 1 is just another day, but in other ways it is more significant. Budgets reset, health insurance deductibles start over, and other financial-y things that I don’t really understand probably happen, too.

But not everything resets when we put a new calendar up on the wall (that is, of course, if you are the kind of person who uses an old fashioned wall calendar…I happen to be that kind of person). Most of our problems, those stresses and worries and unknowns that we carry with us, well, they don’t just magically disappear when December 31 switches over to January 1. They’re still there. Still problematic, still stressful or worrying or unknown.

And that’s kind of where I’m finding myself at the end of this year.

Now we’ve come to the part of this post where I get all honest and tell you about things like being frustrated and crying.

The last several months have been pretty tough for me. Some really awesome things have happened and I’m grateful for all of the kindness, encouragement, and generosity, but things have still been tough.

If you’ve seen me recently this probably won’t surprise you because I don’t look very healthy. That’s not an opinion or an insecurity, it’s just a fact, and a fact that concerned my GP when I saw her last week. My already pale skin is vying for the title of palest of pale skin in all the land, and its effort is matched only by the dark circles under my eyes. Apparently under eye semi-circles are out and dark circles that encircle the entire eye are now in. At least that’s what my face seems to think.

I’m really not surprised that I don’t look my best, though, because I don’t feel my best, either. I’ve been really struggling with energy. I’ve been doing things when I can because that’s healthy and important, but most of the time I do anything I feel crushed by fatigue. Even things that should be easy like talking and going upstairs. It doesn’t seem to matter how faithful I am about doing my PT exercises, overall weakness keeps dragging me down. And everything seems to leave me short of breath.

At first I wasn’t concerned about any of this because I was anemic and these are all symptoms of anemia. Iron infusions would help that. And since I know that blood counts don’t return to normal the second the iron enters your bloodstream, I just assumed that there were no improvements yet. But then blood tests from last week discouragingly showed that I’m responding really well to the iron and that my labs are improving. I say discouragingly because my numbers have improved enough that I should feel significantly better.

But I don’t.

There are other frustrating health things happening, too, but I’ll complain about those another time.

For the most part, I’m a pretty patient person. Especially when it comes to health and medicine. I wait for appointments. I wait out nausea and pain. I wait for months before bringing a new symptom to anyone’s attention, hoping it will go away on its own without me having to bother anyone. I’m not trying to martyr myself, but I deal with a lot because this is my life and I have no other choice.

I don’t make a fuss very often, so when I do make a fuss and I do somewhat desperately ask for help, it’s because I really need it.

And that’s just what I did last week when I contacted my TPN team, the people who are entirely in charge of my nutrition and fluid intake, and basically said hey I’m not okay is there anything we can do? Could the values that are out of range be contributing to the awfulness that I feel? This is where the crying comes in, because the TPN team basically said everything looked really good (they were looking at my routine labs and not my face) and they had no concerns. I’m not sure why a normally cheerful patient saying they feel horrible and fighting back tears on the phone isn’t a concern. To be fair, they’re good medical professionals and it’s hard to do things over the phone and around the holidays when people are away, and so I’m hopeful that things will go better when I actually get to see them in a couple of months.

But in that moment, I felt completely dismissed. And on my own. And I cried it out because sometimes you just need to do that. There’s a reason the phrase “a good cry” exists.

So now what? Well, thankfully I have an amazing GP who, when I emailed her later that day, replied and made it clear that she was going to help me figure things out.

img_0961And in the meantime?

I am keeping the faith.

(I am also existing mostly as a floating head above a lump of blankets…haha I guess sometimes people are potatoes after all.)

As this year comes to an end, I find myself tired and worried and pretty worn down, and none of that is going to change overnight. But that’s not the entire picture.

I am still holding out hope that slowly but surely things are going to improve, that my body just needs a bit more time. I am trusting my doctor to advocate for me. I am counting on the people around me to help keep my spirits lifted. I am making plans, and setting goals, and carrying on, because what else can I do?

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Let us not forget about snapchat filters that make us look better than we actually do.

What else can any of us do?

Tomorrow we put up our brand new calendars as we start a brand new year, but we also just carry on from this year. Those financial-y things reset. We don’t.

But we do carry on. We rally. We keep the faith. Because what else can we do? …and also because there are lives to be lived.

And experiences to be had.

And joy to be found. Always.

Happy New Year!

 

Just a quick follow-up

Remember when I shared with you that CTV article from about a month ago? No? Here it is again in case you missed it.

After that was published, some really cool things happened!! And now there’s a follow-up story all about the amazingly kind and generous response from readers and how they created some holiday magic for me. Check out the link below!

“Finding my Miracle”: Communities give back after CTV Vancouver story

I’m still so touched by the kindness and generosity of strangers.  I love stories like this, where people step up to help out or bring joy to people they’ve never met, and it is both humbling and thrilling to find myself on the receiving end of that thoughtfulness. I am very grateful for this entire experience!

P.S. If you ever want to follow along with my yarn adventures or see what I’m up to in terms of crochet, you can find me on Instagram @carefulscrochet.

Christmas is still Christmas without cards

Last year I wrote close to 50 Christmas cards.

I’ve always written Christmas cards. Even in high school I remember writing cards for all my friends and teachers. I remember taking the bus home from school on Fridays and stopping at the mall to buy my holiday cards. In my uniform. Hopefully never with my saxophone. Are you getting an idea of just how cool a teenager I was? But just to clarify, even though I sound really dorky, I was buying cards to write to friends…so like, I had friends.

I just like sending Christmas cards. I usually have them all sent off at the beginning of December. And actually last year I was so prepared (and thrifty) that I bought all of my Christmas cards for this year on clearance during post-Christmas sales. I’ve had 50 something cards waiting in my closet all year.

And now I must confess to you that Christmas is just a week away and I have yet to mail a single card.

There’s been a lot going on lately, and I’ve been pretty zapped of energy. I’m talking I can’t make it through the day without almost or actually falling asleep at least once, zapped of energy. Very unlike me. Every time I try and do anything I feel like this snowman.

snowman

 

And so I just haven’t managed to write any Christmas cards this year.

At first this made me feel like a total Scrooge.

I have always loved Christmas, and I’ve always loved it in a loud way. I’ve always had a tendency to be a bit of a hard-core Christmas traditionalist. I’ve always loved the music, the movies, the lights and the decorations. And I’ve always loved doing the same things the same way year after year.

Once I got sick, Christmas started changing. Many of the traditions that defined the holidays for me were now out of reach. First I couldn’t drink the chocolate milk that only showed up in our house on Christmas and Easter. Then I couldn’t eat Christmas dinner. Holiday baking wore me out and made me feel sick…I was too tired to go and cut down the tree…I wasn’t up for going anywhere to look at lights…I had to miss out on family gatherings. And worst of all, when I did make it to family gatherings I was dismayed to realize that what had once been fun was now also overwhelming and exhausting and even a bit sad because another year later everyone had moved forward while I was still stuck in the same spot I had been stuck in the year before.

I starting understanding why some people didn’t like the holidays, how the holidays could be stressful.

Stressed by this stress, I figured I just needed to love Christmas even louder. I held onto it, tightly, and I immersed myself in it as much as I could, relying on it to make the terrible stuff I was going through feel less terrible. I used it as a source of hope, telling myself every year that by next Christmas things would be better. I never let go of holiday traditions, even if they created stress in my life, and even if I knew I couldn’t actually make them happen. Letting go seemed like giving up.

Well, I’ve given up now. And my holidays are so much better because of it.

I know that Christmas will never be like it used to be, but that’s okay. I know that I won’t be able to do everything I want to do each year. That’s okay, too. I no longer have any expectations for Christmas to be perfect, or for Christmas to be any particular way at all.

I still love Christmas, but I love it quietly now. I focus on what’s right in front of me, the little things that bring me joy. Like the lights in my room, or the delightfully cheesy holiday movies, or my collection of tacky Christmas sweaters. I don’t expect myself to be able to do anything and that way anything I can do is a bonus. And I don’t try and do something just because I think I should, or just because I always have.

The traditions that define our holidays are supposed to bring joy and togetherness, not cause stress. When these traditions start taking away from our celebrations instead of adding to them, then maybe it’s time to rethink them, at least until the traditions once again become something we want to do, not something we feel we have to do.

That’s why I didn’t send any Christmas cards this year.

And you know what? Christmas is still Christmas, even without Christmas cards. Just like Christmas is still Christmas without baking five different kinds of cookies. Just like Christmas is still Christmas without chocolate milk, without any food at all for that matter.

Christmas can still be Christmas no matter how life’s circumstances may change things. As long as we let it.

So whether your Christmas is quiet or loud, peaceful or busy, or a little bit of everything, I hope that you let Christmas meet you wherever you are in your life right now. I hope that the holidays end up being whatever you need them to be this year.

And I hope that you find some joy.

From me and my family (of tacky…and tachy 😉 …Christmas sweaters) to you and yours, Merry Christmas.

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