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When I'm not here, you may find me wandering the pages below. (If I'm a regular visitor to your site and I've left your link off or mislinked to you, please let me know! And likewise, if you've blogrolled me, please check that my link is updated: thisroamanticlife.blogspot.com. The extra (a) makes all the difference!)

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Body: in sickness and in health

I won't lie; this body and I have had our issues with each other for many years. Body image -- sure. Physical and mental overextension -- comes with being a Type A kind of girl. I still struggle with these things, so they show up from time to time in my writing.

More recently, illness, pure but not simple, has added itself to the mix in a multi-system sort of way. And the challenges in figuring out exactly what's gone wrong are many. As problems have revealed themselves in the last few years, beginning with reactive hypoglycemia in late 2008, I've documented them here, partly to gain a little clarity on managing complex conditions but mostly to give voice to vulnerabilities I feel but don't normally share with anyone face to face. Better out than in, they say, right? (Oh yes, humor is one way I deal.)

The links below cover the different angles I've examined (and from which I've been examined) within that experience.

Travel: neither here nor there

When the person you're married to lives two time zones away, you log a fair number of frequent flier miles. And if you blog about commuter relationships, you log quite a few posts en route too.

Since we're no longer in separate places, I blog less often from airports. But we do travel -- together now! -- which is much more fun to write about. So in addition to thoughts on our years of commuting, the links below cover the places we've been as a pair and, in some cases, the adventures that have happened on the way.

Writing: the long and short of it

Why do I do it? Good question. Maybe it's not so much that I like to write but that I have to write, even when the words refuse to stick to the page. Believe me, I've tried doing other things like majoring in biochemistry (freshman fall, many semesters ago). Within a year, I'd switched to English with a concentration in creative writing and wasn't looking back.

After graduating, I taught English for a few years and then worked as an editor, which I still do freelance. In 2007, I applied and got into an MFA program at a place I like to call Little U. on the Prairie. I finished my degree in 2011 and have been balancing tutoring and writing on my own ever since.

The following links cover the writing I've done about writing: process, content, obstacles, you name it. It's not always pretty. But some part of me loves it, even when it's hard. And this is the result.

Heart: family and friends

I'd have a hard time explaining who I am without being able to talk about the family I grew up in as well as the people I've met beyond its bounds. But even with such context, it's not easy! In the simplest terms, I'm a first-generation Asian-American who has spent most of this life caught between cultures. That, of course, doesn't even begin to describe what I mean to, but there's my first stab at the heart of it all.

That's what this group of posts is reserved for -- heart. The essential parts of my life whose influences I carry with me, for better or worse. The links below cover what I've written as I've learned how these forces work within me, for me, against me, in spite of me. They anchor me even as they change me, and they keep life interesting.

Recommended reading

What do I do when there's too much on my mind and my words won't stick to the page? I escape into someone else's thoughts. Below is a collection of books and articles that have been sources of information, inspiration, and occasional insight for my own work.

Wednesday, March 11, 2009

Every kidney has a silver lining?*

So after dinner Thursday, just as I was posting my previous entry, I noticed that my back was hurting -- odd because I've never had back problems, and I've never known blogging to be a strenuous activity involving large muscle groups, etc. "Hmm," I said to myself. "Perhaps this is some weird kind of indigestion?" I curled up on the couch to see if it would help, but no dice. Ditto my attempts to massage whatever sinews seemed to be knotting up somewhere to the right of my spine.

Almost Dr. Sis (the one in med school) happened to call at that moment. At this point, I was fairly uncomfortable but not sure if I was overreacting to some silly back spasms. "What do you think this is?" I asked her.

"Well, it could be your pancreas, at which point, that's a surgical emergency," she said. "If it gets worse, go to the ER."

Oh. Okay.

Ten minutes later, I was in enough pain to make it difficult to move in any fashion, so I called up a friend, who drove me directly to the hospital. Good thing we went when we did, as there was a sudden influx of walk-ins after I was admitted. As it was, I waited an hour to be treated, and by the time the doctor got to me, I was in tears.

Fortunately, the diagnosis was pretty straightforward: "You have a kidney stone," the doctor said, after a quick trip to the CT scanner (aided by some truly wonderful IV drugs that took all the pain away). No surgery needed either, thank goodness. I was sent home with a prescription for more painkillers, advice to drink tons of fluids, and orders to follow up with my regular doctor in a few days.

So the weekend was less productive than I'd hoped it would be -- even though I was only technically in pain for not quite three hours Thursday night, I was completely exhausted on Friday and didn't really feel back to normal until Monday. My stack of student papers, to be graded by Thursday, is still much larger than it should be. And my birthday, which fell within those recovery days, slipped by rather quietly. (I did get lovely phone calls from my family, but because I didn't want to worry my parents, who were traveling, and my other sister, who was dealing with a nasty paper herself, I didn't mention the ER visit.)

There is a VERY positive side to this: on Friday of this week, I leave for Seattle again. Imagine if that kidney stone had chosen to wreak havoc while I was 30,000 feet over Montana. There would have been no option but to divert the plane to get me to a hospital (you can't confirm the presence of kidney stones without a scan, and there are too many other scary things that could be wrong if you leave the diagnosis at a guess, even if you can administer painkillers to treat the symptoms). So I'm okay with the way things turned out. Relieved, in fact (no pun intended).

I'll leave you with a picture, courtesy of Almost Dr. Sis, who created this diagram of how a nephron works when she was studying for her board exams last year (click on it for a close-up). Truly amazing what these tiny things do and how a small imbalance in their regulation can cause so much distress.


*Credit goes to Almost Dr. Sis for the title too. That was her response after I told her how the Thursday night (mis)adventure turned out.

6 comments:

French Fancy said...

Oh you poor sweet thing. I passed a stone years ago and was doubled up on the floor - it is meant to be one of the most intense pains the human body can experience.

What a rotten way to spend a birthday - recovering (you fellow Pisces). Hope your trip is problem free

Contemporary Troubadour said...

Me too! Thanks, FF. And yes, intense is definitely a good word for it! I think what was even more unsettling was how the drugs completely stopped the pain in minutes -- technically, the stone was still hurting me but I couldn't feel a thing. There's something a little eerie about that.

Good Enough Woman said...

I had a kidney stone 10 weeks after I gave birth to my daughter. I called the midwives because I thought one of my ovaries was exploding. My husband took me to the hospital, and, fortunately, I passed it not too long after they hooked me up to the IV. The CT scan confirm a small existing stone and evidence suggesting that a larger stone had just passed.

Ouch. I would prefer labor over the stone. (And this says a lot since I had no drugs during labor.) With labor, at least you have breaks between contractions. And, at the end of it, you get a baby rather than a pebble of calcium.

I am glad you're better. And happy birthday!

(My verification word is "pitypho"!)

Contemporary Troubadour said...

Thanks, Good Enough Woman :). Funny, Almost Dr. Sis and I were debating which would be more painful, labor or kidney stones. (Neither of us have children yet.) She seemed to think labor, but my argument was that labor gives you intermittent breaks while kidney stones seem to be unremitting. Good to know what someone with the experience of both thinks! Though I'm sorry you had to deal with kidney problems too. Pebbles and babies -- definitely not the same thing.

French Fancy said...

Pebbles and babies would be a great blog title Hope you feel more settled and are getting excited about the weekend travel - or have you done it too often now to get excited?

Contemporary Troubadour said...

FF, I always get excited about going home :). Though once I arrive, I'm usually pretty worn out. Fortunately, this trip will be a week and a few days, so I have plenty of time to get rest.

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Wednesday, March 11, 2009

Every kidney has a silver lining?*

So after dinner Thursday, just as I was posting my previous entry, I noticed that my back was hurting -- odd because I've never had back problems, and I've never known blogging to be a strenuous activity involving large muscle groups, etc. "Hmm," I said to myself. "Perhaps this is some weird kind of indigestion?" I curled up on the couch to see if it would help, but no dice. Ditto my attempts to massage whatever sinews seemed to be knotting up somewhere to the right of my spine.

Almost Dr. Sis (the one in med school) happened to call at that moment. At this point, I was fairly uncomfortable but not sure if I was overreacting to some silly back spasms. "What do you think this is?" I asked her.

"Well, it could be your pancreas, at which point, that's a surgical emergency," she said. "If it gets worse, go to the ER."

Oh. Okay.

Ten minutes later, I was in enough pain to make it difficult to move in any fashion, so I called up a friend, who drove me directly to the hospital. Good thing we went when we did, as there was a sudden influx of walk-ins after I was admitted. As it was, I waited an hour to be treated, and by the time the doctor got to me, I was in tears.

Fortunately, the diagnosis was pretty straightforward: "You have a kidney stone," the doctor said, after a quick trip to the CT scanner (aided by some truly wonderful IV drugs that took all the pain away). No surgery needed either, thank goodness. I was sent home with a prescription for more painkillers, advice to drink tons of fluids, and orders to follow up with my regular doctor in a few days.

So the weekend was less productive than I'd hoped it would be -- even though I was only technically in pain for not quite three hours Thursday night, I was completely exhausted on Friday and didn't really feel back to normal until Monday. My stack of student papers, to be graded by Thursday, is still much larger than it should be. And my birthday, which fell within those recovery days, slipped by rather quietly. (I did get lovely phone calls from my family, but because I didn't want to worry my parents, who were traveling, and my other sister, who was dealing with a nasty paper herself, I didn't mention the ER visit.)

There is a VERY positive side to this: on Friday of this week, I leave for Seattle again. Imagine if that kidney stone had chosen to wreak havoc while I was 30,000 feet over Montana. There would have been no option but to divert the plane to get me to a hospital (you can't confirm the presence of kidney stones without a scan, and there are too many other scary things that could be wrong if you leave the diagnosis at a guess, even if you can administer painkillers to treat the symptoms). So I'm okay with the way things turned out. Relieved, in fact (no pun intended).

I'll leave you with a picture, courtesy of Almost Dr. Sis, who created this diagram of how a nephron works when she was studying for her board exams last year (click on it for a close-up). Truly amazing what these tiny things do and how a small imbalance in their regulation can cause so much distress.


*Credit goes to Almost Dr. Sis for the title too. That was her response after I told her how the Thursday night (mis)adventure turned out.

6 comments:

French Fancy said...

Oh you poor sweet thing. I passed a stone years ago and was doubled up on the floor - it is meant to be one of the most intense pains the human body can experience.

What a rotten way to spend a birthday - recovering (you fellow Pisces). Hope your trip is problem free

Contemporary Troubadour said...

Me too! Thanks, FF. And yes, intense is definitely a good word for it! I think what was even more unsettling was how the drugs completely stopped the pain in minutes -- technically, the stone was still hurting me but I couldn't feel a thing. There's something a little eerie about that.

Good Enough Woman said...

I had a kidney stone 10 weeks after I gave birth to my daughter. I called the midwives because I thought one of my ovaries was exploding. My husband took me to the hospital, and, fortunately, I passed it not too long after they hooked me up to the IV. The CT scan confirm a small existing stone and evidence suggesting that a larger stone had just passed.

Ouch. I would prefer labor over the stone. (And this says a lot since I had no drugs during labor.) With labor, at least you have breaks between contractions. And, at the end of it, you get a baby rather than a pebble of calcium.

I am glad you're better. And happy birthday!

(My verification word is "pitypho"!)

Contemporary Troubadour said...

Thanks, Good Enough Woman :). Funny, Almost Dr. Sis and I were debating which would be more painful, labor or kidney stones. (Neither of us have children yet.) She seemed to think labor, but my argument was that labor gives you intermittent breaks while kidney stones seem to be unremitting. Good to know what someone with the experience of both thinks! Though I'm sorry you had to deal with kidney problems too. Pebbles and babies -- definitely not the same thing.

French Fancy said...

Pebbles and babies would be a great blog title Hope you feel more settled and are getting excited about the weekend travel - or have you done it too often now to get excited?

Contemporary Troubadour said...

FF, I always get excited about going home :). Though once I arrive, I'm usually pretty worn out. Fortunately, this trip will be a week and a few days, so I have plenty of time to get rest.