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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, January 5, 2010

Back!

As in flat on it, until the rest of today is over.

Oh no, you're thinking, this doesn't sound good. My apologies in advance. I hate, hate, hate to make the first post of 2010 a less than jolly one, but I didn't start this blog to create yet another place where I'd have to hide my real thoughts and feelings. I will throw in happy things at the end, so don't worry. Bumming in awaits! But if you're not up for (down with?) less than jolly, feel free to skip right to the photos. The happy starts there.

So. I feel moderately guilty that I've spent most of the afternoon in a travel-induced daze while D had to go straight to work from the airport, but I'm accepting my pathetic lack of vigor for now because I'm in a weird place. Limbo, I suppose, but it's a different limbo than the one I was in before the holidays.

Before we left town in December, I was doing my best not to get too worried about my not-so-great liver enzyme test results. There were presents to pack and people to look forward to seeing. And there was nothing to be done regarding the liver stuff until my seven weeks sans alcohol were up (more on that later). I did have some GI symptoms in the few days before we headed for D's parents' place, but I chalked it up to stress. (It's been known as early on as high school to cause me such problems.)

But the symptoms didn't go away. And they got more and more severe until on the morning of Christmas Eve, D and I decided I'd better give my GI doctor a call. One of his partners got back to me right away, advising me to double the dose of Pancrecarb I'd been taking before meals and call back after the weekend with an update on how it was working out. Simple enough -- and effective. By the end of the day, I was feeling tons better. I can't emphasize how nice it is to be able to eat without worrying how sick it might make me feel 30 minutes later.

I knew, though, that the previous ten days of ramped-up symptoms signified that things with my pancreas were getting worse. And once Troubadour Dad got news of the liver enzyme issues on top of the GI distress, he decided that something "wasn't right," particularly for someone my age, and suggested it was time to get a consult from a doctor at a more academic institution, i.e., a specialist with access to the most current research.

As it happens, Almost Dr. Sis has doctor-professors who are just those kinds of specialists. She very kindly contacted a senior doctor in the GI department to ask whom I should see, given my history, and he sent back a recommendation right away. So during the remainder of the week at my parents' house, I faxed off requests to all my doctors here in Seattle to get the pertinent parts of my medical records forwarded to said chosen specialist. The plan is to try to schedule a trip for me to get checked out by him in February. We're guessing it'll be a two-week visit, but we'll know better once this doctor has had the chance to review everything in my chart.

So, limbo. It's eating at me more than before -- probably because the whole flying-across-the-country-to-see-an-expert thing makes everything feel way more serious. Not sure what to do about that, so here I am, writing.

In the meantime, I have one more blood draw scheduled with my GI person here to look at those liver enzymes. I was a good girl and didn't even have a drink on New Year's Eve, even though Troubadour Dad was serving this:


But I was mildly naughty (from a blood sugar standpoint) and joined in the Spanish tradition of eating twelve grapes at midnight for good luck in the new year. One of Troubadour Dad's colleagues, who hails from Madrid, introduced us to the ritual that evening. Fun and hopeful! And excellent with really good cheeses afterward ...

Overall, my time with family was all right too. I have tons of photos to go through from the visit, which I might look at tomorrow when I need a break from thesis work (yep, it's time to get back to that before the semester starts up in two weeks). For now, here are a few shots of Troubadour Mom's bathroom residents. Proof that plants really can thrive by the tub!




I'm also thrilled to report that the rose we received back in October survived our absence marvelously. I wasn't sure it would, but these watering globes, which D picked up from Home Depot, actually worked. I'll take it as a good omen.

On that note, here's to a happy 2010, everyone. May it bring good things, surprising or otherwise, to you and the people you love.

6 comments:

French Fancy said...

Oh I am so sorry to read about the worsening of your symptoms You are totally right though when you say if you can't be yourself, honest and true, in your own blog - then what on earth is the point of having one.

I sincerely hope the few weeks between now and seeing the specialist pass by without that middle of the night waking up and worrying.

(I'll tell you a secret I've told nobody else - my doc heard a heart murmur and I'm off to see the heart man next Thursday.)

Our bodies eh - if only there were easy ways to detect what was wrong. I'm sure years and years from now we will just be able to stand against something for a second and all our problems will stand out and be easily cured.

thinking of you

x
Julie

Contemporary Troubadour said...

Thanks, FF. I hope the heart murmur thing turns out to be nothing to worry about. Our bodies indeed!

Love to you and the bichons.

Good Enough Woman said...

I'm sorry you are in that limbo place. I don't enjoy that place. Nevertheless, I am glad you are feeling better than you were just before Christmas.

I hope you'll be able to put your mind to your writing. Don't forget your friend "Denial." I don't mean denial as "eat some sweets and drink some booze," but "Denial" as in "I'm doing all I can do, so I will keep doing those things while distracting myself with engaging diversions."

Hang in there!

{{{{CT}}}}}

TKW said...

Hi sweetie,

I'm concerned about you. Why do you need to wait until February? I'm hoping it's pancreatitis (which is certainly no fun, but not lethal) and not something more serious.

So you know what, exactly, came back abnormal with your tests? My hubs is a doc (although not a GI doc) and if we can help in any way, let us know.

((hugs))

Contemporary Troubadour said...

GEW -- me too on the feeling better thing. Very grateful for that! And yes, denial of the sort you're recommending has been good. I think I just may have denialed myself through another chapter of my thesis, which is pretty encouraging. I think a movie is in the works for tonight as well :)

TKW -- there were a lot of factors that led us to pick February as opposed to something sooner, but one of the main things was the amount of time the doctors needed to get my records sent (some said about 10 business days, and New Year's added to the wait). Then there's the time the other doctor needs to review everything before he can tell me what he'd like to do with me and how long of a stay with Almost Dr. Sis that entails. So by the time I can actually book tickets, it'll be nearly February. Such fun.

As for what was abnormal, let me e-mail you ... no need to get all technical here :)

French Fancy said...

thinking of you

x
Julie

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Tuesday, January 5, 2010

Back!

As in flat on it, until the rest of today is over.

Oh no, you're thinking, this doesn't sound good. My apologies in advance. I hate, hate, hate to make the first post of 2010 a less than jolly one, but I didn't start this blog to create yet another place where I'd have to hide my real thoughts and feelings. I will throw in happy things at the end, so don't worry. Bumming in awaits! But if you're not up for (down with?) less than jolly, feel free to skip right to the photos. The happy starts there.

So. I feel moderately guilty that I've spent most of the afternoon in a travel-induced daze while D had to go straight to work from the airport, but I'm accepting my pathetic lack of vigor for now because I'm in a weird place. Limbo, I suppose, but it's a different limbo than the one I was in before the holidays.

Before we left town in December, I was doing my best not to get too worried about my not-so-great liver enzyme test results. There were presents to pack and people to look forward to seeing. And there was nothing to be done regarding the liver stuff until my seven weeks sans alcohol were up (more on that later). I did have some GI symptoms in the few days before we headed for D's parents' place, but I chalked it up to stress. (It's been known as early on as high school to cause me such problems.)

But the symptoms didn't go away. And they got more and more severe until on the morning of Christmas Eve, D and I decided I'd better give my GI doctor a call. One of his partners got back to me right away, advising me to double the dose of Pancrecarb I'd been taking before meals and call back after the weekend with an update on how it was working out. Simple enough -- and effective. By the end of the day, I was feeling tons better. I can't emphasize how nice it is to be able to eat without worrying how sick it might make me feel 30 minutes later.

I knew, though, that the previous ten days of ramped-up symptoms signified that things with my pancreas were getting worse. And once Troubadour Dad got news of the liver enzyme issues on top of the GI distress, he decided that something "wasn't right," particularly for someone my age, and suggested it was time to get a consult from a doctor at a more academic institution, i.e., a specialist with access to the most current research.

As it happens, Almost Dr. Sis has doctor-professors who are just those kinds of specialists. She very kindly contacted a senior doctor in the GI department to ask whom I should see, given my history, and he sent back a recommendation right away. So during the remainder of the week at my parents' house, I faxed off requests to all my doctors here in Seattle to get the pertinent parts of my medical records forwarded to said chosen specialist. The plan is to try to schedule a trip for me to get checked out by him in February. We're guessing it'll be a two-week visit, but we'll know better once this doctor has had the chance to review everything in my chart.

So, limbo. It's eating at me more than before -- probably because the whole flying-across-the-country-to-see-an-expert thing makes everything feel way more serious. Not sure what to do about that, so here I am, writing.

In the meantime, I have one more blood draw scheduled with my GI person here to look at those liver enzymes. I was a good girl and didn't even have a drink on New Year's Eve, even though Troubadour Dad was serving this:


But I was mildly naughty (from a blood sugar standpoint) and joined in the Spanish tradition of eating twelve grapes at midnight for good luck in the new year. One of Troubadour Dad's colleagues, who hails from Madrid, introduced us to the ritual that evening. Fun and hopeful! And excellent with really good cheeses afterward ...

Overall, my time with family was all right too. I have tons of photos to go through from the visit, which I might look at tomorrow when I need a break from thesis work (yep, it's time to get back to that before the semester starts up in two weeks). For now, here are a few shots of Troubadour Mom's bathroom residents. Proof that plants really can thrive by the tub!




I'm also thrilled to report that the rose we received back in October survived our absence marvelously. I wasn't sure it would, but these watering globes, which D picked up from Home Depot, actually worked. I'll take it as a good omen.

On that note, here's to a happy 2010, everyone. May it bring good things, surprising or otherwise, to you and the people you love.

6 comments:

French Fancy said...

Oh I am so sorry to read about the worsening of your symptoms You are totally right though when you say if you can't be yourself, honest and true, in your own blog - then what on earth is the point of having one.

I sincerely hope the few weeks between now and seeing the specialist pass by without that middle of the night waking up and worrying.

(I'll tell you a secret I've told nobody else - my doc heard a heart murmur and I'm off to see the heart man next Thursday.)

Our bodies eh - if only there were easy ways to detect what was wrong. I'm sure years and years from now we will just be able to stand against something for a second and all our problems will stand out and be easily cured.

thinking of you

x
Julie

Contemporary Troubadour said...

Thanks, FF. I hope the heart murmur thing turns out to be nothing to worry about. Our bodies indeed!

Love to you and the bichons.

Good Enough Woman said...

I'm sorry you are in that limbo place. I don't enjoy that place. Nevertheless, I am glad you are feeling better than you were just before Christmas.

I hope you'll be able to put your mind to your writing. Don't forget your friend "Denial." I don't mean denial as "eat some sweets and drink some booze," but "Denial" as in "I'm doing all I can do, so I will keep doing those things while distracting myself with engaging diversions."

Hang in there!

{{{{CT}}}}}

TKW said...

Hi sweetie,

I'm concerned about you. Why do you need to wait until February? I'm hoping it's pancreatitis (which is certainly no fun, but not lethal) and not something more serious.

So you know what, exactly, came back abnormal with your tests? My hubs is a doc (although not a GI doc) and if we can help in any way, let us know.

((hugs))

Contemporary Troubadour said...

GEW -- me too on the feeling better thing. Very grateful for that! And yes, denial of the sort you're recommending has been good. I think I just may have denialed myself through another chapter of my thesis, which is pretty encouraging. I think a movie is in the works for tonight as well :)

TKW -- there were a lot of factors that led us to pick February as opposed to something sooner, but one of the main things was the amount of time the doctors needed to get my records sent (some said about 10 business days, and New Year's added to the wait). Then there's the time the other doctor needs to review everything before he can tell me what he'd like to do with me and how long of a stay with Almost Dr. Sis that entails. So by the time I can actually book tickets, it'll be nearly February. Such fun.

As for what was abnormal, let me e-mail you ... no need to get all technical here :)

French Fancy said...

thinking of you

x
Julie