How My Life Fell Apart and How I’m Still Putting It Back Together

Ok so this is probably going to be a fairly long post but I don’t do that often so please excuse me this one time. What I’m about to talk is something very few people know about me and what happened in the fall. Last year was hard enough but in October, I felt like I just lost it. I had a mental breakdown that resulted in severe depression and anxiety. I was put into an Intensive Outpatient Program which, as some of you might know, is one step below inpatient psychiatric care. I managed to hide it from most people, really my amazing boyfriend is the only one who knew. He supported my search for help and did whatever he could to take care of me. I really do have one of the best boyfriends ever. So here’s a little bit about what happened.

I went to the ER in Sept. with stomach pain and some other issues. I was told they found what they thought was a cyst on my right ovary and fluid in my pelvis that they assumed was from a ruptured cyst. They said it was completely unrelated to my other symptoms and sent me home. Apparently, the two were not unrelated. In October, the 4th to be exact, I went for my GI follow up for my stomach. He didn’t think anything that needed urgent care was required so I went home. Thank god Scott was there because I sudden;y started getting this pain that just got worse and worse. Eventually I was literally screaming in pain every time he moved me. Off to the ER we went. After a whole big fiasco there that I won’t go into, I was finally taken back. I was told that I was about 2 months pregnant and that it was an ectopic that had ruptured. I would need emergency surgery and there was no guarantee they would be able to save my fallopian tube. Turns out that spot the first ER thought was a cyst? It wasn’t, it was an ectopic that could have been taken care of with medication had they realized what it was. Instead I had internal bleeding and one less tube.

For anyone who knows me, you all know how much I want kids. I’ve always wanted to be a mom. This was a huge blow for me. Just imagine wanting something so much and being told you have it only to have it ripped away within 10 seconds. It’s not that surprising that I was depressed after the fact but how deep that depression was is surprising. I literally woke up and went to work, came home and fell asleep, and when Scott got home he woke me up and forced me to eat and take my meds. I cried a lot. I didn’t want to do anything or see anyone. I didn’t even have the energy to turn the TV on half the time. Work was extremely difficult and it was taking me longer to finish normal tasks. Finally, after a month we decided I needed professional help. And so started my journey back to normalcy. I hid therapy from everyone, I didn’t want anyone thinking I was weak or overreacting. I have this immense fear of people thinking I’m overreacting (that would be why we didn’t take the ambulance that day….very stupid decision on my part). I’m still working on it but I’m much better than I was.

Depression and anxiety are very real and very hard. It takes a toll physically as well as mentally. Don’t let the fear of people judging you ever stop you from getting help before it gets too late. God knows how much worse I would have gotten without getting help. Also, just in case this happens to a friend just keep the following in mind – I know that you’re worried but for the love of all that is holy DO NOT YELL AT YOUR FRIEND! Don’t yell at them, don’t tell them what they should have done, don’t say anything at all negative. Hearing that does NOT help, it just makes things worse and makes me (or whoever) shut down even more. I know I completely retreated inside myself and that led me to not tell anyone or let anyone else know that something was wrong. Not even some of my closest friends.

Slowly but surely I’m getting better and I know I’ll be a mom someday. It wasn’t meant to be that time. I’m still working on believing that but I feel that I’ve come a long way in getting back to where I used to be and I bet all of you can as well. As always, feel free to contact me if you ever need someone to talk to!

Danielle

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Published in: on February 1, 2014 at 7:55 pm  Comments (2)  
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“OMG You’re in a wheelchair!!”

Hello all,

My friend shared the following question and response from a blog she found and I believe it’s something everyone should see. Clearly people don’t understand what’s appropriate and what’s inappropriate. Or even have a basic understanding of manners. I know so many people in wheelchairs, crutches, or with disabilities that have accomplished so much more by 30 years old that most people will achieve in their lifetime. Just remember, just because someone’s different doesn’t mean they are any less worthy or able to live life to the fullest. 

 

“Questions : “Ur in a wheel chair!!! OMG that must suck. If u don’t mind me asking what happened. P.s I love ur blog

Response: “Do you have any idea how offensive it is to say that? You basically implied my life is not as good/valuable/fulfilling as yours is because I happen to have a disability and use a wheelchair. My wheelchair doesn’t make my life suck, it improves my life and makes daily independent living doable. As for what ‘happened’ nothing ‘happened’ there isn’t some horrible accident or sob story. I was simply born with a condition called cerebral palsy.(And for those who have been in accidents or tramatic event it’s not always a blast to go through reiterating the gory details)””

 

Danielle

Published in: on January 26, 2014 at 9:42 am  Comments (2)  
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Happy New Year!

2 posts in 2 weeks, amazing right? Anyway, Happy New Year to everyone! Did you make any resolutions? Have you already broken a couple? That’s because most people choose resolutions that are either too broad too high reaching. Don’t get me wrong, it’s okay to have a high bar set for yourself, but it has to be reasonable. For example, for most people it’s unreasonable to say “I’m going to make 10 million dollars this year.” So, how do you keep your resolutions? Here are some personal tips I’m trying this year:

  • Break down bigger goals into smaller more frequent goals, go month by month if you have to.
  • Use concrete, specific goals – it forces you to focus better.
  • Set a schedule for those goals – once a month, once a week, etc.

Here are two of my resolutions as examples.

  • “I want to start going to the gym/running/working out” turns into “I will start going to the gym, etc. once a month for 2 months, then twice a week for 2 more, then 3 times a week for the rest of the year.” 
  • “We will save money this year” becomes “We will put away $100 every month for end of year treats.”

These are much more concrete than just a broad statement of working out or saving money and it gives you something specific to keep to. We have more resolutions but I won’t bore you with them. Hope everyone had a happy new year’s eve and has a wonderful and HEALTHY 2014!

 

Danielle

Published in: on January 1, 2014 at 1:46 pm  Leave a Comment  
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Oh the Holidays

Yep, once again I fell wayyyyyyy behind on posting here. My life has been a huge roller coaster most of this year so please excuse my absence. So, the holidays…fun, stressful, and hectic. The latter two are really not so great for lupus now are they? I made it through with only one meltdown which really is nothing so brag about though I think I have most of the plan down pat to avoid such things next year.

Thanksgiving Week and Black Friday – shop online! I got all but 2 gifts done from the comfort of my own home that week. The other 2 I had to actually go buy but not until just about a week ago. Seriously, online shopping = best shopping ever for sick people (or really any people)

Wrapping – start out slow way ahead of time. All my gifts were wrapped by 2 weeks before Christmas and I didn’t have a single swollen finger or knees. Arthritis makes sitting on the floor wrapping pretty difficult sometimes. Just do 1 or 2 gifts a day and you should be fine. You’ll be happy you did this.

Decorating – the same as for wrapping. Slow and steady wins the race, there’s no rush so just give yourself time.

Food – cut down on the sodium and sugar beforehand. You know you’re going to be eating a lot of unhealthy things. If you’re already feeling crappy, flarey, whatever, try not having so much of those yummy things before the holiday dinners. Especially sodium if you’re on prednisone, no one wants to look like a blowfish in a holiday picture.

After all the hub bub is over, take a few days and relax. Cleaning can wait (except, you know, dishes. You might want to clean those so you don’t get gnats or whatever.) Play with your new “toys” and just veg out. Then when you have energy you’re ready to start cleaning. Just take it one room or one half a room at a time with a little break in between. Hopefully, that will help!

I know this is a little late for this holiday season but like I said, these are things I learned this year and now I’ll be ready and raring to g next year. Happy Holidays and a Happy New Year! 

 

~Danielle

Published in: on December 28, 2013 at 4:01 pm  Leave a Comment  
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I’m back (again)!

After another verrrrry long break I’m back again. Since August I feel like for the most part my life has been going non-stop. Passing the bar seemed easy compared to what I ended up dealing with after I got home. My family and I have had some tough times with illness and other depressing issues but what I have learned is where I get my stubbornness and willpower from. Grandma made it to 94 years old despite getting the flu, bronchitis, c. diff., being hospitalized, and having a stroke. She’s almost back to her normal independent self and miracle was really the only way any of us could think to describe it. There were a lot of tears, a lot of prayers, and a lot of family! Definitely know where the women in my family get their fighting spirit. 

That was one major thing to deal with, there were a whole lot more. I’ve almost lost way to many people over the last few months.

Of course, my boyfriend and I decide to start dating and not only does Hurricane Sandy immediately hit, but everything with grandma and other loved ones happened. He’s already seen me at my worst and he’s still here with me telling me he’ll never leave. I love him for that, most guys would have turned around and ran! I’m glad things are starting to look up. My family is getting back into a good stride and all the children have found healthy, loving relationships to hold on to. It’s taken a long time but I think we’re at a high point in our lives at the moment. 

Anyway, with all of that drama and the stress of being unemployed and not being able to pay my bills of course I’ve had a hard time with lupus flares. Until now, I hadn’t had any major flares. Just little ones, you know joint pain, low grade fever, exhaustion, headaches…the usual. About a month ago my heart started acting up so I’m in and out of the cardiologists office this week trying to figure out why. Hopefully it’s just a stronger flare and not fluid or anything around my heart. Today I should find that out so cross your fingers!

I’m off at the moment to do some cleaning and such before I head to the dr. I know this is nothing like my regular posts but I just wanted to post an update for now, I’ll be back to my old blogger self soon! 

Dani

Published in: on February 27, 2013 at 11:10 am  Comments (2)  
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I have a life again!

Or the potential for having a life once again. Basically since April, I’ve been going non-stop.In April, I had surgery again to remove more pre-cancerous lesions that chemo was not working on. What did I learn? The following:

  • No matter how old you get or how many surgeries you have, you will always want those who raised you around – I couldn’t have done so well if my mom and dad weren’t with me.
  • ALWAYS ask for nausea medicine prior to surgery – whatever “magic pill” (that’s what they actually called it) they gave me, I plan on getting every time I have anything done
  • On that note, always get the name of what they give you – I forgot and now I have to go searching through records, fun fun.
  • Surgery, or any other major medical procedure/treatment, shows you who your real friends are – hang on to them ❤

Anyway, the surgery was successful and now I’m on chemo. I’ll probably need another one next year and I’ll stay on chemo for most of my life if they don’t get me off of CellCept. We shall see what happens with that. Followed by surgery, I took finals. This was the first time in law school I used accommodations. I had to convince myself it was okay to ask for them considering I’d had major surgery the week before. Major lesson learned? It’s OK to ask for help! In fact, I did it for the bar exam too and I honestly don’t know how I would have made it through without them. Bringing headache meds was a life saver!

So after finals I graduated and went on vacation. Managed not to flare, woot! Then onto studying for the bar. That experience was hell. I was living alone and in a flare so of course all I wanted to do was sleep. Trying to do 8+ hours of studying a day while fatigued, stiffed, and with a headache was not easy. I had a few meltdowns (again I learned who my real friends are!). Figuring out what was best for me was hard but I managed. Today I found out I passed! Last major lesson of the summer? Listen to your friends and family – they know you better than you might think. When I finally listened to the advice on studying from my dad, I grasped a lot more things I hadn’t been understanding.

And now with that joyous news, I’m off to loosen up my joints with a nice hot shower! I’ll be back soon, I promise no more 3 month long breaks :).

Published in: on August 27, 2012 at 7:31 pm  Leave a Comment  
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Photographic Therapy

Okay so life has gotten a bit overwhelming and this post might seem somewhat scatterbrained because I can’t quite figure out what to write about. I have several topics in mind but I’ll start with a little bit of mental health – the other topics will just have to wait until another post.

A few weeks ago, my boyfriend and I broke up in a hell of a way — lots of drama. Here’s the thing about me when bad stuff happens, I slide along a scale or different levels of depression.

0. Get pissed, maybe cry once, back onto normal life.
1. Still smiles, still laughs, goes out like nothing is wrong, all while feeling the exact opposite of what I’m showing
2. Cries a whole lot, eats junk food, watches cheesy movies, constantly talks to everyone.
3. Hides in the bedroom, under the covers, cries, doesn’t eat, doesn’t talk to anyone, internalizes every thing
4. No longer enjoys anything at all in the entire world, wants nothing but to sleep and never emerge from the house again.

Bad break-ups, when coupled with health issues I’m having at the time, usually leave me around a 3 or 4. This time, even though I was heartbroken, I was determined not to let it get to that point again. As part of that attempt, I picked my camera back up – something I hadn’t done in I don’t know how long – and started taking self-portraits. My goal? Remember, and photograph creatively, those things that make me happy in life and make me…well…me! I only did it for a week before I had family visit and totally forgot about it but that week made me feel so much better. Not only did it get my mind off of the misery I was feeling, but it made me remember what makes me happy. Sometimes they were silly, sometimes thoughtful…but they were always just me.

I wish I could put the pictures in from my iPad but unfortunately I can’t so I’ll edit the post later from my computer and add some of them. I had so much fun doing these pictures that I plan on doing them for a whole month – hopefully the end product will be a photograph for everyday. And every time I look at them, all the memories that are part of me will come back. And I’ll smile.

I recommend everyone do a project like this, I really do. Even if it’s just with your camera phone – it really does get your mind off everything bad that’s happening. The girl in the photographs has no worries – she is confident, silly, beautiful, funny, and a million other things. She is not heartbroken and not sick. This project will remind you of the small moments that make life fun and it boosts your self-confidence (really, who doesn’t need that extra boost once in a while?).

If you do try it, please let me know! Message me, email me, comment, whatever. I’d love to sell all of your beautiful faces 🙂

Edit: Here are a few of the photos I took, I hope you enjoy!

Parisian Style

Just because I have to wear a hat doesn't mean it can't be stylish

Just me

Just little old me, plain and simple

Sillyness!

Gotta have my spa days!

Published in: on February 29, 2012 at 11:52 am  Comments (1)  
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Finally!

Here, finally, is my meal plan that I made and wrote about last time. I  know, late as always but I swear there are good reasons! Enjoy!

Monday: IKEA Swedish Meatballs (Gluten Free)

Ingredients: (3 Servings) Side Dish = Potatoes

  • 3/4 small onions, finely chopped
  • 3/4 tablespoon vegetable oil
  • 1/2 lb lean ground beef
  • 1/4 lb ground lean pork
  • 1/2 cup GF breadcrumbs
  • 3/4 cup milk
  • 3/4 eggs, lightly beaten
  • 3/4 teaspoon salt
  • 3/4 teaspoon black pepper
  • 1/4 teaspoon ground allspice
  • 3/4 tablespoon vegetable oil (for frying)
  • 1 (7 1/2 ounce) cans beef broth and millet/rice flour
  • 1/2 cup 10% cream

Directions

1. Sauté onions in first tablespoon of oil until translucent. Set aside and let cool.

2. Combine breadcrumbs and milk, let soak for 10 minutes.

3. In a large bowl, combine onions, breadcrumbs, milk egg, meat and seasonings. Mix thoroughly. Form tablespoon of the meat mixture into balls.

4. Over medium heat, fry meatballs in second tablespoon of oil until brown on all sides.

5. In a small saucepan, combine gravy and cream; heat through but do not boil.

6. Serve meatballs with gravy, boiled potatoes and lingonberry preserves.

 

Tuesday: Chili

Ingredients (4 servings) Side Dish = Rolls

  • 13 ounces lean ground beef
  • 3/8 (46 fluid ounce) can tomato juice
  • 3/8 (29 ounce) can tomato sauce
  • 3/8 (15 ounce) can kidney beans, drained and rinsed
  • 3/8 (15 ounce) can pinto beans, drained and rinsed
  • 1/2 cup and 1 tablespoon and 2 teaspoons chopped onion
  • 1 tablespoon and 1-3/4 teaspoons chopped green bell pepper
  • 1/8 teaspoon ground cayenne pepper
  • 1/4 teaspoon white sugar
  • 1/4 teaspoon dried oregano
  • 1/4 teaspoon ground black pepper
  • 1/2 teaspoon salt
  • 1/2 teaspoon ground cumin
  • 1 tablespoon and 1-3/4 teaspoons chili powder

Directions

This recipe’s Ingredients were scaled to yield a new amount. The directions below still refer to the original recipe yield of 10 servings.

1. Place ground beef in a large, deep skillet. Cook over medium-high heat until evenly brown. Drain, and crumble.

2. In a large pot over high heat combine the ground beef, tomato juice, tomato sauce, kidney beans, pinto beans, onions, bell pepper, cayenne pepper, sugar, oregano, ground black pepper, salt, cumin and chili powder. Bring to a boil, then reduce heat to low. Simmer for 1 1/2 hours. (Note: If using a slow cooker, set on low, add ingredients, and cook for 8 to 10 hours.)

 

Wednesday: Baked Salmon With Mustard Sauce

Ingredients (2 servings) Side Dish = Garlic Green Beans

  • 2 salmon fillets (about 6 ounces each)
  • 1/2 lemon, cut in half
  • Salt and freshly ground black pepper to taste

SAUCE

  • 1/4 cup Dijon mustard
  • 1/2 teaspoon extra virgin olive oil
  • 1 1/2 tablespoons chopped fresh dill, or
1/2 tablespoon dried dill
  • 1/2 handful chopped fresh basil

Directions

1. Rinse the fillets under cold running water and pat them dry. Squeeze the juice from 1/4 lemon over the fillets, then season them with salt and pepper.

2. Preheat grill or broiler.

3. Meanwhile, prepare the sauce: Whisk together the mustard, olive oil, and dill in a small bowl. Add the basil and the juice from the other 1/4 lemon, mixing well.

4. Grill the fish on high heat or broil until desired doneness, but do not overcook. Spoon the sauce over the fish and serve immediately.

 

Thursday: Slow Cooker Cranberry Pork

Ingredients (4 servings)

  •  5/8 (16 ounce) can cranberry sauce
  •  3 tablespoons and 1-3/4 teaspoons French salad dressing
  • 5/8 onion, sliced
  • 5/8 (3 pound) boneless pork loin roast

Directions: (I have scaled this recipe’s ingredients to yield a new amount (4). The directions below still refer to the original recipe yield (6).)

1. In a medium bowl, stir together the cranberry sauce, salad dressing, and onion. Place pork in a slow cooker, and cover with the sauce mixture.

2. Cover, and cook on High for 4 hours, or on Low for 8 hours. Pork is done when the internal temperature has reached 160 degrees F (70 degrees C).

 

 

 

Published in: on February 11, 2012 at 6:22 pm  Leave a Comment  
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Super Lupie?

Looking at my original schedule this semester, I had a thought. Why is that I feel the need to try and be superwoman all the time? One thing I realized was that I feel the need to do more than most “normal” people in an attempt to show that being sick can’t stop me from doing anything. Maybe not everyone does this but I certainly know some people that do.

I’ve always had a strong motivation and desire to succeed and really, that’s all I thought this was. But then I really thought about it – look at college. The normal enrollment was 16 credits I believe and the maximum you could take without permission was 18. So I took 17 or 18 every semester until my last one when I got seriously sick. I could have graduated in 3 years but I stayed an extra year. Who does that?!? Yea it was fun and I took some really fun and interesting courses that last year but it was really hard work to get to that point. “Normal” people graduate in 4 years, I managed to finish everything in 3. Many of those facing challenges take longer than 4 years. Law school was almost the same way, I keep taking these classes that I know are going to be extremely difficult and taxing but I do it anyway. It’s my last year and I changed my schedule to make it harder without even realizing it. Go me!

I finally fixed everything and made my life a whole lot easier but it definitely made me stop and think whether I do these things because of my own ambition or because I’m sick. Conclusion: both. I will always tell myself I can do better, I can push farther but I will also always want to tell everyone “Hey look what I can do!” in an effort to show that my disability doesn’t run my life. I’ve decided I need to back off on that second one now – I’ve more than proved myself at this point in my life and now it’s time to focus on what’s best for me.

Everyone have a wonderful, safe, and warm week!

Published in: on January 17, 2012 at 10:16 am  Comments (2)  
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Happy New Year!

I know, I’ve been slacking again. But finals are over and I’m rested up and ready to go. I’m heading back to North Carolina and thought I’d share some things about making the ride easier.

  • Don’t drive alone if possible. If you can bring a friend or boyfriend or family member to help you drive, it’ll be a lot easier. Move as much as possible while not driving.
  • If you’re driving alone, take frequent breaks. Every hour or two, take a five minute rest stop. It’ll take longer to get to your destination but your body won’t be screaming at you when you get there.
  • During long plane rides get up and move. Flying to Australia, my doctor told me to get up every few hours and walk up and down the aisles. It helps with circulation and preventing blood clots. It also keeps your joints moving so they don’t get quite as stiff.
  • Sleep. If you’re feeling sick, try to sleep part of the trip. It helps with car sickness and makes the ride go quicker.
  • Bring snacks and lots of water. Keep hydrated, especially on planes and always eat. No eating = no energy later in the day. You’re already going to be exhausted, don’t add to it by not eating and drinking.
  • Finally, bring more than one thing to do! Bring books, puzzles, video games, whatever you like to do. You’ll always have a choice if you get bored and it’ll help time move faster!

I know this is a short and quick post. And most of it’s common sense but really..I’m always surprised at what people forget!

 

PS: What are your new year’s resolutions? I’d really like to know!

Published in: on January 1, 2012 at 8:46 pm  Leave a Comment  
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