Bonus Birthday Post: It’s a Birthday Miracle!

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It’s a miracle!

Warning: This is a rare positive outlook post containing wonderment and miracles! Do not read if you are in a bad mood and want to continue to be in a bad mood. If you want to continue to be in a bad mood click here.

Friends! It’s my birthday! January 18. Can you believe it? Well, you should because everyone knows it goes like this: Chanukah, Christmas, New Year, Rachel’s Birthday! That’s how it has always been…since the day I was born. True story. 

I am now 33 years old. Sheesh… My gracious. Friends… let me tell you it is just taking me forever to get to be the age I feel on the inside. I was born a baby… but on the inside, I was really a 65-year-old woman. Nothing said that more than when I was 10 years old than how much I loved my grandmother’s hand me downs. Like legit grandma clothes…stuff that no 10 years old should wear. But darn it if I wasn’t rocking it like I was a 65-year-old lady myself. I was all … long hair don’t even care. I got this amazing windbreaker from her, I wish had a picture. Anyways my point is… I’ve been old since I was born.

That being said …I have to wonder how does my no buy impact my birthday? If you haven’t read about my no buy year you can check that out here to learn more about it. But in general, it’s just how it sounds, but don’t make assumptions if you didn’t read the post.

Usually, I might buy myself a birthday gift…nothing specific, maybe a piece of jewelry or a piece of clothing I really like. This year…not so much. As they are non-essential items. Womp womp. And, even though I have been unsubscribing to every store ever on email (which btw has really streamlined my emails) I still get stuff in the mail. So I get birthday coupons and discounts in the mail from stores encouraging me to shop there for my birthday and get a free gift!!!

I started getting those in the mail and email in December, friends! December!!!! Really uncool. Talk about catering to consumerism. It’s your birthday… buy $30 worth of stuff and get a $10 item for free!!!! Uncool! 

Usually, I would be all over it. Because it’s my birthday! But now it’s the first month of my no buy year which makes for a lackluster birth month… or does it? I think it makes my birthday a bit more special because I am realizing that I don’t need to be buying all the stuff to just have a good birthday. Because I got better stuff anyways…

So not to be awkward… but what’s this miracle you are talking about?

Right…let me tell you about my miracle! (Which is the better stuff btw!) As many of you already know, since you are here, I have many a chronic illness…a couple of which are asthma and bronchitis. Back in November, I began immunotherapy. If you haven’t read my previous post which goes into detail about what it is… Immunotherapy is basically an allergen cocktail to help boost immunity to allergens. My immunotherapy shots are done in both arms every other day, and yes …I do the shots myself…eek! It’s not so bad lol.

Here is a picture of how I set up my stuff when I do my shots every other day. I have my biohazard container for used needles, syringes, two vials of allergen serum created specifically for me and off to the side is a bottle of Benadryl because my arms get incredibly itchy afterward which is normal and taking the Benadryl helps to ease the itchiness.

 

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Image description: Set up of my every other day immunotherapy shots which includes: two vials of allergen serums, alcohol prep pads, two insulin size syringes, biohazard container and log to write down that I did my shots.

The purpose of these shots was to ease my asthma and bronchitis which is exacerbated mostly in the colder months. If I get a cold…it becomes bronchitis. If someone else has bronchitis…I get bronchitis. There’s generally no stopping it. Asthma and bronchitis are my longest running chronic illnesses that I have had since I was a child. And I get bronchitis yearly without fail…sometimes multiple times a year.

Okay…so where’s the dang miracle?!?!

This past week my 8-year-old stepson, Reid, became sick… he had a fever and started coughing. Usually any time he is sick and in the house with me…I get sick without fail. I don’t have the immunity to fight off the sickness. I kept washing my hands and just praying and putting it out to the universe that I wouldn’t get sick. 

And then yesterday (Thursday 1/17/19) Aaron took him to the doctor and it turned out he has bronchitis. He has bronchitis?!?!?!?! But I don’t?!?!?!?!

Back the truck up… On Wednesday 1/16/19 I went to see my allergist for a check in to pick up new vials of serum and she told me that the immunotherapy could be working for me. Since it’s winter, now is the time that I would be noticing the difference. And then Thursday Reid has bronchitis …and I can see the light!!!!! And immediately Fiddler on the Roof, Miracle of miracle started playing in my head. 

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Image description: Gif from Fiddler on the roof. A scene from the song miracle of miracles with Tzietel and Motel running through the forest. Text says Wonder of wonder, miracle of miracles!

I am absolutely thrilled for this birthday miracle. Friends, I can’t even tell you how many times I have been sick with bronchitis on my birthday. But not this one! Huzzah! It turns out there is still hope for random treatments working. My doctor and I tried this immunotherapy treatment as a sort of sweeping grand gesture last resort because there was nothing else left that would work for my asthma and bronchitis and there was really no assurance that it would work.

I don’t know if it will continue to be bronchitis free but I know that for right now I managed to live in the same house with bronchitis and not get it! This was just a short-ish bonus birthday post that I wanted to post today to share my excitement for this miracle that I am experiencing. I’ll post again at my usual time on Sunday!

This does indeed feel miraculous and wonderous. Happy birthday to me! 

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Image description: Never stop believing in hope because miracles happen every day.

 

 

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What doesn’t kill you…

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Image- That which doesn’t kill you gives you a lot of unhealthy coping mechanisms and a really dark sense of humor.

I’ve mentioned recently that I have been sick with bronchitis, which is difficult by itself. As someone who has asthma and chronic bronchitis, I can say that it sucks. It always makes me wish lungs were not required to live. I say this from experience… I’ve gotten bronchitis 1-2 times a year for as long as I can remember. 

And having bronchitis on top of IC and migraine and etc is a whole other challenge. 

But what happens when you get a new medication and you have a terrible reaction to it on top of being sick and having a chronic illness? Because that is exactly what happened to me this week. My doctor prescribed me a new inhaler called the Combivent Respimat inhaler…seemed innocent enough. It is a short-acting inhaler that helps to relax the lungs. 

On Tuesday, February 21 at approximately 4:30 pm I used the inhaler and then went to see a friend for a bit. We went to a chill place that is semi-noisy which has been known to give me migraines but I went prepared with earplugs and my sumatriptan, a prescription migraine abortive. We didn’t stay very long. I took a triptan around 5:30 because I felt a migraine coming on…but I had no idea of what was to come. 

I do have chronic migraines and I’ve had them for many years. But what came next was like nothing I have ever experienced in my entire life. I finished up with my friend and went to Aaron’s to eat but by the time I got there my migraine was hitting hard so I got my migraine hat (ice pack to wrap around the head) and laid down. It felt like there was 20 tons of pressure on my entire skull, which I’ve never had before. Not only that but my eyeballs hurt like they were ready to pop out of my head. And even my hair hurt! Yes…my hair… Like each individual strand. 

This migraine made my regular migraines look like fun little headaches…which they are not. -Rachel Bob

I’ve read stories in the migraine community about people’s hair hurting but I personally never experienced it…until now. It was excruciating…pure agony. I have a lot of hair, waist length, and it’s super thick Jew hair. There were a few points where I was just ready to chop it all off because I couldn’t take it. 

Aaron said “How is that possible? Hair has no nerves.” I said “How is anything possible? I don’t know. All I know is what I feel and my freaking hair hurts.” 

Aaron tried to get me to eat. And usually eating helps reduce my migraines but I could not eat because it physically hurt me to chew. At that point, I thought I might have to go to the hospital if this didn’t let up. So I decided if it didn’t improve by morning I would have Aaron take me to the hospital. 

One ‘good thing’, was that during this agony my body didn’t seem to register any other pain I was in… like IC or PFD. I was awake most of the night because I couldn’t sleep due to the tremendous amount of pain I was in and I was going to the bathroom frequently, but this time it wasn’t because of my IC. I think it was because my body was trying to get that medicine out of me. I went to the bathroom at least 10 times which is more than I usually go at night time. And every time I went…it didn’t hurt when I peed. Which was a miracle, but also, I’ll gladly take my IC and PFD pain over the agonizing medication migraine any day. 

Eventually, around 4 am I fell asleep. I woke up around 8 am with a lessened migraine…thank goodness. But I was beyond exhausted. I ended up canceling my day, which was therapy at noon and my class in the evening. Also sometime on Tuesday night when in the throws of that torturous migraine I realized I had a 2-3 page paper due on Wednesday and I was like well I’m not going to be able to do that now. 

I guess fortunately for me, I now have OSWD (Office for Students with Disabilities) Accommodations so that I can turn in assignments late and miss class if I’m in a lot of pain. So I emailed my professor to let him know that I will be turning in my paper late and missing class. It’s kind of “funny” because when I got those accommodations approved I said…yea but I won’t ever use them. And then the very next week here I am using the heck out of them. But with good cause. It’s not like I am making this up.

Because you can’t make this shit up. And it goes on. So then I wake up at 7 am expecting to feel better for my class at 9:30 am and guess what? I’m not better. My eyes hurt so badly I think they are going to just fall out…I can barely keep them open and they are puffy (not swollen shut but puffy). I still had a migraine as well, although nowhere near a bad as it was. But my eyes hurting came with extreme light sensitivity. Along with stomach pains and some vomiting. Okay..well guess I’m not going to this class either. I thought I really might have to go to the hospital. 

So I called my doctors office and left a message. I actually did send my doctor a message on Wednesday as well to let them know what was happening. They called me back a bit later that morning and said I should come in at 2:30. So instead of going to the hospital, I opted to go see my doctor. 

My doctor was shocked that I had a reaction this strong to this particular inhaler because it’s very similar to two of the other inhalers I already use. But I’m not surprised because that’s just me. If there is going to be someone who has a reaction to something that most people are fine with…it’s going to be me. I am so sensitive to everything. It’s a wonder that I am still alive. 

And then today I had my annual appointment at the gynocologist…yay…who doesn’t love that? meh. But I do love my gynecologist, I’ve been with her for almost a decade now. Unfortunately, today was my least favorite visit…were any of them my favorite? lol probably not. This is my first time back in for my annual with the diagnoses of interstitial cystitis (IC) and pelvic floor dysfunction (PFD). 

I had been nervous about the speculum and discussed it with my physical therapist. She told me I can tell my gynecologist that and request no speculum because of the PFD. So I talked to my gyno about it. But unfortunately, I have a history of pap smears that come up as pre-cancerous so she needs to really get in there with the use of the speculum. How can I argue with that? So she used the smallest one they had and it was very small, about the size of her pinky which is drastically smaller than I’m used to.

Unfortunately, it still hurt so freaking badly. And even more so afterward…I am now in the midst of a terrible flare. My bladder is spasming and freaking out. And my poor pelvic floor is just in agony. I know it was for a good reason…but FML. Haven’t I had enough pain for one week??? 

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Image- What doesn’t kill you makes you wish it did.

For those of us with chronic illnesses, this kind of stuff isn’t uncommon. Maybe my week was a bit more unfortunate than most. But this is our lives. It doesn’t kill us.. allegedly it makes us stronger…or so I’ve heard. 

Having a week like mine or even just a day with something more minor than what I experienced, can really set back those with chronic illness in ways that are hard to predict. It can cause flare ups that last extended periods of time or weaken their already weak immune system so they get sick. 

I didn’t even mention the stress of it all. Not just the stress of having the allergic reaction to the inhaler but having to miss my classes, which I hate doing. Stressing over whether or not I should go to the hospital. The stress of not being able to open my eyes or eat. And then going to the gynecologist is stressful by itself. The speculum. The flare. And so on. 

For people with chronic illness, stress is usually one of the biggest triggers. So how do we come back down from that? We have to remember to take care of ourselves. I committed to self-care and continue to do so. And we can all just keep in mind that…

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Image- What doesn’t kill you make you stronger. Except for bears, bears will kill you.