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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.

Tuesday, September 29, 2009

Drink and be wary

I meant to blog last week, really. But I didn’t bank on a minor medical mess getting in the way of that.

As I mentioned earlier, my gastroenterologist had me schedule some more tests after my unfortunate GI problems didn’t clear up. One of those tests, just a regular old CT scan to look at my pancreas, was Wednesday morning. It meant getting up at 5 a.m. to start drinking the barium shake (foul-tasting stuff, see photo) so my insides would show up nicely on the x-ray. No problem, I thought; I’ll chug it, sleep a little more, then head to the hospital to get the scan over with.

I arrived on time, did my paperwork, changed into hospital scrubs, and got my IV put in for the contrast dye that, when injected during the scan, reacts with the barium to produce all the fun images on the film. That went fine. You get a very warm sensation as it’s happening, but it’s nothing particularly uncomfortable. When it was all over, the CT technician asked me if I was experiencing any tightness in my throat or itching. And at that time, I wasn’t. So he sent me off to change back into my own clothes.

It’s a good thing there was a mirror in the dressing room. As I was pulling my shirt on, I noticed that my face was slowly turning bright pink. As in the color it takes on after I’ve had a drink (yes, I’m one of those Asians without the enzyme that breaks down alcohol) but more so. As I peered into the mirror, I watched the pink stain spread down my neck toward my chest. Uh oh, I thought. Not good.

I went back to find the CT technician, who took one look at me and said, “Well, I think we’re going to have to keep you here a little longer.” He showed me to a large chair and handed me a very tall glass of water. “Drink this,” he said. “Sometimes people have a little reaction to the dye. We’ll just get your kidneys kick-started so they’ll pull it out of your bloodstream. Just sit tight, and I’ll check on you in five minutes.”

Now I know what an allergic reaction looks and feels like. My sisters and I each have our allergens that produce full-body swelling when we get exposed. So the feeling creeping down my body as I obediently downed the water was very familiar -- and it wasn’t going to go away without proper antihistamines. By the time the CT tech returned, the hives were progressing down my arms. “Hmm, I’m going to go get the doctor,” he said.

Sigh.

They kept me for another thirty minutes to “monitor my reaction,” asking me to drink even more water. By the time they were ready to release me, I’d had nearly a quart of it, to no avail -- the hives were all the way to my knees. So they sent me home with two tabs of Benadryl with strict instructions to call 911 if I “experienced any shortness of breath, increased swelling, or other symptoms.”

Of course, since I had to drive myself, I couldn’t take the Benadryl until I got home. It worked very quickly, but it also knocked me out -- for six hours. I think I fell asleep on the couch around 10 a.m., dozed intermittently, and woke up after 4 with a massive headache. And a first thesis installment deadline 24 hours away. I had a good number of pages written, but they needed serious attention. So, no blogging until I got that done.

The installment has been sent, and I’m happy to say I’m back to normal (no more hives, headache, or haziness). Can’t say I quite feel great about the writing, but more on that later. Feedback from my advisor is forthcoming. As for the CT results, I’m hoping to have them before my endoscopy, which is in just over two weeks. So much to look forward to …

8 comments:

Sherlock said...

Not a pleasant experience, I'm sure. I've had allergic reactions to medications that required epinephrine shots and it's really scary. I had the dye contrast ct scan years and years ago and had a bad reaction, similar to yours. I won't risk it again, especially now with the diabetes and ehlers-danlos. I was supposed to get a dye contrast scan on my shoulder a few years ago but I declined and told them nope, just do a regular MRI or forget it.

Hope you find out what's going on with the GI stuff. I've had bad GI problems for about 4 months now and just don't want to go through all the tests, and the endoscopy and whatever other stuff.

I'm anxious to hear how all the testing goes and what you find out!

Contemporary Troubadour said...

Me too, Sherlock. Some answers would be nice ...

As for a "next time" on the CT, after the CT, the tech told me that if I needed to get a scan with contrast done again, the hospital would have me take prednisone and Benadryl ahead of time. For some reason, that doesn't sound like a very good idea either.

Good Enough Woman said...

Oh, CT, what a bummer! Sounds like a weird Alice in Wonderland experience. Glad you're doing better, and I hope the best for the results--whatever that might be.

{{{CT}}}

Contemporary Troubadour said...

You know, GEW, the barium shake might as well have said "Drink Me" on it! Such a bizarre experience.

Thanks for the good wishes :).

French Fancy said...

Oh you poor sweet thing, I tell you what - I'm not Asian but I also have the 'turning red as a beetroot after one drink' thing - I must have missing enzymes as well.

I do hope that the results come back with no problems to report and I am delighted that you got the first part of the thesis in on time

x

Contemporary Troubadour said...

Thanks, FF! I am glad the work's been sent off. I'd read it so many times in the days leading up to the due date that I wasn't really being effective anymore in generating new material or revising the old.

No news yet from the gastroenterologist, so the results must not be terrible :).

French Fancy said...

I know exactly what you mean as regards the constant reading of one's work. In the end the simplest of words cease to make sense and I begin to question the spelling of the most mundane of words.

Contemporary Troubadour said...

Oh yes, FF, I was reading whole paragraphs without actually taking in a single word! And I did find an egregious spelling error after I went back to the draft while I was in New York. I guess that's why it's a draft ...

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Tuesday, September 29, 2009

Drink and be wary

I meant to blog last week, really. But I didn’t bank on a minor medical mess getting in the way of that.

As I mentioned earlier, my gastroenterologist had me schedule some more tests after my unfortunate GI problems didn’t clear up. One of those tests, just a regular old CT scan to look at my pancreas, was Wednesday morning. It meant getting up at 5 a.m. to start drinking the barium shake (foul-tasting stuff, see photo) so my insides would show up nicely on the x-ray. No problem, I thought; I’ll chug it, sleep a little more, then head to the hospital to get the scan over with.

I arrived on time, did my paperwork, changed into hospital scrubs, and got my IV put in for the contrast dye that, when injected during the scan, reacts with the barium to produce all the fun images on the film. That went fine. You get a very warm sensation as it’s happening, but it’s nothing particularly uncomfortable. When it was all over, the CT technician asked me if I was experiencing any tightness in my throat or itching. And at that time, I wasn’t. So he sent me off to change back into my own clothes.

It’s a good thing there was a mirror in the dressing room. As I was pulling my shirt on, I noticed that my face was slowly turning bright pink. As in the color it takes on after I’ve had a drink (yes, I’m one of those Asians without the enzyme that breaks down alcohol) but more so. As I peered into the mirror, I watched the pink stain spread down my neck toward my chest. Uh oh, I thought. Not good.

I went back to find the CT technician, who took one look at me and said, “Well, I think we’re going to have to keep you here a little longer.” He showed me to a large chair and handed me a very tall glass of water. “Drink this,” he said. “Sometimes people have a little reaction to the dye. We’ll just get your kidneys kick-started so they’ll pull it out of your bloodstream. Just sit tight, and I’ll check on you in five minutes.”

Now I know what an allergic reaction looks and feels like. My sisters and I each have our allergens that produce full-body swelling when we get exposed. So the feeling creeping down my body as I obediently downed the water was very familiar -- and it wasn’t going to go away without proper antihistamines. By the time the CT tech returned, the hives were progressing down my arms. “Hmm, I’m going to go get the doctor,” he said.

Sigh.

They kept me for another thirty minutes to “monitor my reaction,” asking me to drink even more water. By the time they were ready to release me, I’d had nearly a quart of it, to no avail -- the hives were all the way to my knees. So they sent me home with two tabs of Benadryl with strict instructions to call 911 if I “experienced any shortness of breath, increased swelling, or other symptoms.”

Of course, since I had to drive myself, I couldn’t take the Benadryl until I got home. It worked very quickly, but it also knocked me out -- for six hours. I think I fell asleep on the couch around 10 a.m., dozed intermittently, and woke up after 4 with a massive headache. And a first thesis installment deadline 24 hours away. I had a good number of pages written, but they needed serious attention. So, no blogging until I got that done.

The installment has been sent, and I’m happy to say I’m back to normal (no more hives, headache, or haziness). Can’t say I quite feel great about the writing, but more on that later. Feedback from my advisor is forthcoming. As for the CT results, I’m hoping to have them before my endoscopy, which is in just over two weeks. So much to look forward to …

8 comments:

Sherlock said...

Not a pleasant experience, I'm sure. I've had allergic reactions to medications that required epinephrine shots and it's really scary. I had the dye contrast ct scan years and years ago and had a bad reaction, similar to yours. I won't risk it again, especially now with the diabetes and ehlers-danlos. I was supposed to get a dye contrast scan on my shoulder a few years ago but I declined and told them nope, just do a regular MRI or forget it.

Hope you find out what's going on with the GI stuff. I've had bad GI problems for about 4 months now and just don't want to go through all the tests, and the endoscopy and whatever other stuff.

I'm anxious to hear how all the testing goes and what you find out!

Contemporary Troubadour said...

Me too, Sherlock. Some answers would be nice ...

As for a "next time" on the CT, after the CT, the tech told me that if I needed to get a scan with contrast done again, the hospital would have me take prednisone and Benadryl ahead of time. For some reason, that doesn't sound like a very good idea either.

Good Enough Woman said...

Oh, CT, what a bummer! Sounds like a weird Alice in Wonderland experience. Glad you're doing better, and I hope the best for the results--whatever that might be.

{{{CT}}}

Contemporary Troubadour said...

You know, GEW, the barium shake might as well have said "Drink Me" on it! Such a bizarre experience.

Thanks for the good wishes :).

French Fancy said...

Oh you poor sweet thing, I tell you what - I'm not Asian but I also have the 'turning red as a beetroot after one drink' thing - I must have missing enzymes as well.

I do hope that the results come back with no problems to report and I am delighted that you got the first part of the thesis in on time

x

Contemporary Troubadour said...

Thanks, FF! I am glad the work's been sent off. I'd read it so many times in the days leading up to the due date that I wasn't really being effective anymore in generating new material or revising the old.

No news yet from the gastroenterologist, so the results must not be terrible :).

French Fancy said...

I know exactly what you mean as regards the constant reading of one's work. In the end the simplest of words cease to make sense and I begin to question the spelling of the most mundane of words.

Contemporary Troubadour said...

Oh yes, FF, I was reading whole paragraphs without actually taking in a single word! And I did find an egregious spelling error after I went back to the draft while I was in New York. I guess that's why it's a draft ...