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.
And 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?
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!