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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2018: Reflections of a chronically ill 30-something

image description- dont expect any new years resolutions from me i plan on staying the same awkward sarcastic foul-mouthed delight that youve all come to know and love
image description- dont expect any new years resolutions from me I plan on staying the same awkward sarcastic foul-mouthed delight that you’ve all come to know and love

As I write this 2018 is drawing quickly to a close and oh what a year it has been: emotionally, healthwise, politically….don’t get me started.  As I am writing this from my bed curled up in a fleecy warm throw blanket while three of my four fluffy cats are lounging on the heated blanket I keep at the end of my bed.  And I am here ready to start reflecting on what 2018 has been like and what 2019 might bring. 

2018 has been filled with so many ups and downs. 

Health: I struggled with chronic throat infections for 9 months until I had my tonsils removed in July 2018, which was also my first surgery to date. I was diagnosed with hypothyroidism and then Hashimoto’s Thyroiditis, my first official autoimmune disease..soo exciting. I started Immunotherapy for my allergies, asthma and chronic bronchitis. I have had two rounds of botox treatments for my chronic migraines which will hopefully reduce my migraines long term.

My IC has been waxing and waning poetic with me all year. After my tonsil surgery, it seemed to go into hiding for a bit…maybe to give me a short break? But the last two months it’s come back with a vengeance and I’m in all the pain and just living the IC dream… which is to say I go to the bathroom 4-5 times a night plus some other stuff, which I’ll spare the details on right now. Am I missing anything?… hmmm I think that’s it… I think that’s more than enough. It’s been a busy year for me and my health! 

For 2019, I would like to see more health improvements. I would like the botox and immunotherapy to actually work and show signs of improvement. 

Educational: Going to grad school as a chronically ill person is a challenge, to say the least. But I just keep on truckin and now I just have one semester left! Granted it will be the most challenging semester because it will be a full-time internship where I work 32 hours a week (4 days a week) at an internship that is an hour drive from where I live. But going into 2019, I am looking forward to the internship and all that it will bring. 

Sleep: There are days I struggle to get out of bed because my whole body is rebelling against me and is screaming in pain. So at some point in the year, I started setting my alarm for 30 minutes before I needed to wake up so I could take some pain meds and/or CBD oil. And then I go back to sleep until my alarm goes off again. By the time I wake up, I am in much less pain. Looking back on this… this was a good choice, I will continue to do this going forward.

Emotional: As you can imagine all of this has had a lot of impact on my emotional well-being. Along with some other family issues that have been going on. I have been struggling with my mental health in 2018. But in 2019, I am really hoping to get a hold on it and this is something I will be talking about more in the weeks to come here on the blog. 

Relationships/Family: Relationships of any kind can be beautiful or devastating. I have been so fortunate to have friends and family support me along my journey. My best friends who are always there for me, even if we hardly ever get to see each other for one reason or another #gradschoolife. I have also had the blessing of finding a new family in Aaron’s family this year. His mom, as well as his brother, and sister-in-law plus their 3 kids have really become a beautiful family to me that I never expected. 

But I have also had the misfortunate of having devastating losses this past year. Some in the form of deaths in the family and others in the form of bridges being burned… but what I have learned from it… is that no matter what happens, life goes on and there is nothing we can do to stop it. 

Image description- In three words I can sum up everything I learned about life- it goes on
Image description- In three words I can sum up everything I learned about life- it goes on

Love: And, of course, there is Aaron who is right there with me no matter what, even when times are tough. We have a beautiful family together…Me and Aaron, our son, Reid and our four fluffy cats. We don’t have an Instagram perfect life and I don’t really trust people who do…or rather claim to have that. But push come to shove I know we are in it together when things are tough.  

Here are a few family pictures we took this year. All of our pictures were taken by the amazing Tiffany of TMGSFotographyShe can also be found on Facebook at TMGSFotography, she is local to DC/MD.

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Image description: Picture of Rachel, Aaron, and Reid all smiling but not looking directly at the camera. Photo courtesy of TMGSFotography
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Image description: Picture of Rachel, Aaron, and Reid all making funny faces at the camera and sticking out their tounges. Photo courtesy of TMGSFotography
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Image description: Picture of Rachel and Aaron holding hands and walking with their backs to the camera and then looking back to the camera and smiling.  Photo courtesy of TMGSFotography
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Image description: Picture of Rachel and Reid holding hands and facing each other smiling and laughing. Photo courtesy of TMGSFotography

Will 2019 be better than 2018? I sure do hope so. 2018 was filled with love and loss…ups and downs. But aren’t most years? I think that every year we hope that the next year is better than the last and it can be easy to forget that each year comes with its own set of challenges. I’m not being pessimistic, this is more realistic actually.

As a chronically ill 30-something who is going into my last (and most challenging) semester of graduate school, it’s easy for me to say that I am going into this new year with a brand new challenge. Am I looking forward to it? sure. Am I nervous and anxious? You bet! I have to earn 500 hours at my internship, from January 3rd to May 6th. So New year here I come! Jumping right into my internship…rolling up my sleeves saying EFF THIS, lets goooo!!!!

Okay, I’ll stop myself here. But I have so much more to say about resolutions and goals related to health. Expect another post soon! 

See you all in 2019!

image description- fireworks lightig up to say happy new year

A New Diagnosis, Immunotherapy and More

Image description: Hashimoto’s is hard enough without people thinking that I feel fine because I look fine. I NEVER feel fine!

Wow.. it has been WAY too long. This past fall semester at school and in just in life has just been … what’s a good word for it???

Hectic. Relentless. Chaotic. All of that and then some.

So much has happened and I don’t even know where to begin. I’m not sure where I left off. But let’s just pick it up here. 

-In July I had my tonsils removed which cured the chronic infections in my throat!  Effectively ending what I unlovingly called Strepgate 2018. (And you can also read Strepgate part two here)  woohoo! One problem down! 

-But then I was diagnosed with Hashimoto’s Thyroiditis. At first, it was just a diagnosis of hypothyroidism and then with further testing, my doctor found that it was, in fact, Hashimoto’s. And for those of you unfamiliar with Hashimoto’s, it is, in fact, an autoimmune disease. **Woohoo my first official autoimmune disease!!! …. yeah… anyways. It’s an autoimmune disease where the immune system attacks the thyroid. I’m pretty asymptomatic and it was caught pretty early on for me, although I am always cold which explains that. So that’s fun…. or something. I have started taking Levothyroxine, starting at 50 MCG and have slowly worked my way up to 88 MCG over the last few months. 

But don’t worry I’m not letting this keep me down. I’m still trucking through graduate school like it’s my fulltime job…. because it is. I have one semester left and I basically want to die. 

At some point in time, I had botox for my migraines which was insanely painful. It was like 32 needles being jabbed into my head. But totally worth it. Not that it cured my migraines…it didn’t lol. But it did reduce the length and pain level which is saying a lot. And this past Friday, I went for a second round of botox! Yikes, spikes! But my neurologist has assured me that with each round of botox that my migraines should improve even more. So fingers crossed!

And speaking of needles, I began immunotherapy also. But what the heck is immunotherapy!? Well, let me tell you. It’s for allergies. I got in-depth allergy testing done at the beginning of the summer… A lot happened over the summer for me healthwise. Turns out I only have like three allergies…one kind of grass, one kind of tree and cockroach dander lol. BUT because I have asthma and get severe bronchitis every year (without fail). It has been recommended by multiple doctors that I try immunotherapy and hopefully it will improve my asthma and bronchitis issues. And you know what… why the heck not? I will do what it takes to improve my health. 

So what does immunotherapy entail? Well, my allergist creates special allergen cocktails for me and I give myself shots every other day for two years! Yep, you read that right. Do not adjust the dial. I had to go to her office once a week for three weeks to get immunotherapy training (re: learn how to give myself shots) But eff that… easy peasy lemon squeezy. I have enough health issues… I’m not queasy about it, unlike my dear boyfriend, Aaron. Poor guy, any time he sees my needless out on he gets sickly looking. 

Meanwhile, I just do what I got to do… because who knows..this could do the trick and make all the difference between yearly bronchitis or not! I’m down for it!  So I’m here for it… giving myself shots every other day for two years.

-My interstitial cystitis was quiet for a while after I had my tonsils removed but in the last month it has flared up with a vengeance as if it was just waiting for me to think I was in remission and I could pee comfortably for once in the last 4 years. and then BAM! A killer bladder infection. Antibiotics and an antifungal, for a month, because it’s go big or go home over here. 

-And I just completed my second to last semester of graduate school, getting my masters in social work, with a 4.0 GPA. It’s not easy being a full-time student, step-mom, cat-mom, and partner to my boyfriend while chronically ill. Next semester is my last semester and I will have a full-time internship, which should be interesting, to say the least.  It takes a lot of planning and going day by day.  Some days it’s not easy… it’s exhausting, relentless and chaotic. 

Until next time… let us all remember that you don’t have to be perfect to be amazing.