Eggs, anyone?

One year ago today I was in Calgary for a doctor’s appointment. For those of you not from around here, Vancouver to Calgary is about a ten to eleven hour drive. In the spoonie world, driving that far to see a doctor is not that unheard of, but for most people it probably sounds a little crazy. I didn’t go to just see any old doctor, though. I went to see Western Canada’s only motility specialist, which is a gastroenterologist who specializes in functional motility disorders of the digestive tract, such as gastroparesis.

During the ten months leading up to that appointment I had been getting sicker and sicker. Based on my health status at the time, my doctors here weren’t sure what else to do for me and my local GI agreed that if we were willing to make the trip, it was definitely worth a shot! Since the Calgary doctor was involved in research relating to digestive motility the hope was that he might have experience with some newer medications and treatments that were either being used off-label or just weren’t part of common practice yet.

Now, despite the fact that I knew I shouldn’t put all my eggs in one basket, I couldn’t help it. It didn’t matter that I had set my expectations too high countless times in the past only to be disappointed, I was just so desperate to feel better. I had been too sick for too long and I was ready to turn things around.

I had hope. That’s an understatement. I was bursting with hope! My fingers and toes were crossed with hope!

Splat! (That’s the sound of my basket being dropped and all my eggs cracking and making a huge mess.)

I wish I could say that my appointment in Calgary was the tipping point on my road to recovery, but it wasn’t. I do think it was a tipping point, but in the wrong direction. It wasn’t a waste of time – some really good ideas came out of that appointment (none that ended up getting me anywhere, but you have to try everything!). The trip itself,  however, drained my already weary body of energy. When I came home I continued to just get worse. In the year since then I’ve been to more appointments than I can count. I’ve spent more time with health care professionals than I have with friends. I’ve had several lengthy hospitalizations, tried numerous medications with no success, and I have spent most of my time feeling really sick. Oh, and let’s not forget this whole feeding tube thing.

That’s not to say the last year has been all bad, because it hasn’t. I don’t feel the need to elaborate on the good things, the blessings in my life, because most of my posts are about those very topics. And the reason most of my posts are positive is because for the most part, that is what I choose to focus on. And that’s what I choose to share because I believe that putting positive energy out into the world will be reflected back as positive energy in my life. I believe in the ripple effect. If I can manage to bring some brightness to someone else’s day, that light will spread and one day make its way back to me and to the people I love. Maybe this sounds like a bunch of crazy talk to you, but so far I have only found this to be true.

So no, the last year has not been all bad, but from a health perspective, it’s been a complete nightmare! The hardest part, the most frustrating part, is knowing that I’m actually sicker now than I was a year ago. I have been cha cha-ing my heart out the last few weeks but things are still headed in the wrong direction. I will be perfectly honest and say that I am tired. I am discouraged. I am overwhelmed.

But I’m not defeated and I’m not disheartened.

I have had more eggs crack and splatter than I can count, but one year later I still have hope. I’m still hopeful that one day (soon) I’m going to feel better. I’m still hopeful that life will not always be this hard. I’m still hopeful that things are going to work out okay.

I am hopeful and for that I am thankful.

It helps that I have faithful hens who continue laying eggs so that even though I keep dropping them I’m never empty handed.

I don’t know how I would get by if I ever lost hope so I don’t want anyone else to feel that way, either. There is always hope. I have plenty of baskets and eggs to go around if your hope is ever running low.

You know where to find me.

Carefulcatherine…a little more about me

I have gastroparesis (I’ll let you google or mayoclinic.com that to learn the details). I developed this chronic illness when I was 18 and about one month into my first semester at Simon Fraser University. I’m 22 years old now and I still have gastroparesis. In the last four plus years my life has drastically changed. I’ve gone from being a full time science student and part time dance teacher to someone with a feeding tube unable to go to school or work. Right now, having a chronic illness is my full time job and my gastroparesis is a very real and time consuming part of my everyday life. While I don’t like to define myself by my illness, I chose to start with that because it is the reason why I’m here. My gastroparesis is what led me to this place in my life and what led me to writing this post.

That said, there is a lot more to me than just my illness.

photo(8)I love reading and have always been a bookworm. I like books about people (specific, I know) and in the last year I’ve taken a real interest in book on health, wellness and the mind-body connection. Bookstores are my happy place and I love my local library. I also love to crochet, a hobby I taught myself from YouTube when I first had to take time away from school and work and got bored of watching TV. I could probably dedicate a whole post to crocheting and the difference it has made in my life (and I probably will one day, too!). It might seem a bit strange, but I really enjoy baking and cooking, and being able to share my creations with others. Basically, if I’m not reading or crocheting, you can find me in the kitchen, at the library or browsing the yarn selection at Michaels. I know what you’re thinking…this girl sounds like a wild child, right? I’ve always been an old soul.

I am a complete science geek and am fascinated by anatomy and physiology. If I could be any animal I would be a hummingbird and one day I want to have pet ducks (or a baby black bear but I think ducks are slightly more realistic). I always wanted to have a collection as a kid but stamps and coins were never my thing; I am now fulfilling that childhood dream by collecting hospital bracelets (kidding) and medical supplies (not kidding!). I love tulips, post-it notes, scented soap, Ellen DeGeneres, Rice Chex, dancing, writing, Love Actually, romantic comedies from the 90’s, jigsaw puzzles, Anna Olson, polka dots, jelly beans, tea, snail mail, raspberries, decorating sugar cookies, pajamas, mangoes, the Gilmore Girls, curling ribbon, my Vitamix and twinkle lights.

I’m lucky to have the love and support of my incredible family. My mom and I are really close, to the point that she often starts to say something a split second before I was about to say the same thing, and vice versa. My siblings (brother, sister and brother-in-law) are some of my favourite people and raise my spirits every time I see them. And I’m blessed to have some incredible friends who have been by my side through all of the craziness.

I believe the best way to get through the hard times is to keep a sense of humour. If you don’t laugh, you’ll cry, and laughing is way more fun! I believe that one of the best ways to make yourself feel better is to do something for someone else. And I believe in the importance of practicing gratitude even on the darkest of days. I believe that everything happens for a reason and even if it seems hopeless at the time, something good will come out of every bad situation. I believe that everyone is going through something and we should put aside our judgments and practice compassion. I believe in giving other people the benefit of the doubt; if you’re expecting the worst in someone, you’ll find it, but if you’re expecting the best, you’ll probably find that instead. I do my best to live in a way that reflects these beliefs.

I don’t know where my life is going or what my health has in store, but I have hope that one day I will look back on everything I have been through and think, “Okay, it makes sense now.” Until then, I’m going to keep finding reasons to laugh and keep looking for the miracles in everyday life.

And I hope you’ll join me.

P.S. Where does the name carefulcatherine come from? You might assume that I am just a very cautious person and you would be right. In fact, my first word was ‘uh-oh’ if that gives you any idea. However, that has nothing to do with the name Careful. One summer when I was working in programs for students with developmental disabilities a little boy had a hard time pronouncing my name and called me Careful instead. It stuck and my lifelong dream of having a nickname was fulfilled!