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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, March 30, 2010

$%!#

I hadn't been blogging about the outcome of all the testing for a lot of reasons.

For one, I needed a break from thinking about it. And I certainly didn't want this space to become all medical, all the time. Then the diagnosis, while a diagnosis, was still preliminary, so I didn't want to jinx it by talking about it -- I figured I'd get my prescriptions filled (a combination of antibiotics and probiotics), start treatment, and await the results before mentioning anything here. Things were looking good too! No nasty GI symptoms for a week and a half. I was stoked.

But this morning, I woke up to a gastrointestinal mutiny.

What the hell happened??? Of course my brain shifted into analytical mode and started counting off possible causes. Last night's leftovers? (Not likely, barely two days old, quite properly refrigerated, and without effect on D.) Side effects of the antibiotics? (Doesn't make sense -- wouldn't they have made themselves known early on?) How about the shellfish from two weekends back. (Again, doubtful, given the time lag.) That leaves -- uh oh.

Did I mention we picked up two foster kitties on Friday? And that one of them recently tested positive for giardia? I had no idea until after I'd gotten them home and had time to read their medical files thoroughly. Kitty's been treated, but still. Gulp.

I've always been very, very careful about handwashing after handling any of our fosters. These parasites, however, are especially tenacious -- you have to boil them to death. Unfortunately, as much as I'd like to, I cannot plunge my hands into boiling water every time I finish grooming our furry guests or scooping their litter.

Please, after these last nine months of GI evil, let me not have gotten giardia.

The problem is that its symptoms, from what I've read, are essentially indistinguishable from malabsorption resulting from other causes (the issue I had to begin with). In my case, Dr. Specialist was guessing I had a bacterial imbalance in my small intestine. And a significant reduction in symptoms after this course of antibiotics would mean he was probably right.

But now, now there's this new variable. Possibly throwing off this test, as it were. Does it mean further months of not knowing for sure what's wrong? Are we going to be playing the watch and wait game all over again? And which doctor am I supposed to call -- Dr. Specialist, who is nearly impossible to get hold of because of the system he works within, or my local GI guy, who seems to be a bit more conservative (read: in no rush to get an answer) in his diagnostic approach?

I know, I'll call both -- Dr. Specialist first thing tomorrow and as many times as is reasonable (it's too late in the day to reach him now). If no answer after a day or so, I'm moving on to local GI guy. That's the best I can do. I just wish I could do something more in the here and now to help me feel less frustrated.

Well, in a way, I suppose I already have. I bought myself some potted gerbera daisies last week because they caught my eye at the grocery store. Took them directly to our bathroom, our makeshift spa for plants. They're hanging out at the edge of the tub, the first thing I see whenever I walk in there.

In hindsight (yep, back to the poop humor again), flowers were a great idea.

16 comments:

Kristen @ Motherese said...

I believe that this post gives me an opportunity to whip out one of my mom's favorite sayings: "No good deed goes unpunished."

I'm sorry your kindness to the kitties has left you with a string of concerns. I hope you get the answers you're looking for - and soon.

Bev said...

OH NO, GIARDIA??

French Fancy said...

Oh CT, this is such a shame - although I have to confess to never having heard of Giardia and I am about to leave this box to google it...
(pause)

OMG, I've just read the Wiki page - the thing is that it sounds like so much else of a similar nature. Are you sure it would tbe this and not a straight forward tummy bug (is there such a thing though)?

This sounds just like me when I was getting over my gall bladder removal. I'm sorry to turn this into me me me - but medical sites do make one stop and think. They can also make one exceedingly paranoid.

I do hope this passes soon - I guess they checked out your gall bladder though...

hgg said...

Oh noes, that's not fair. Hope you figure out what it is before too long this time

Sherlock said...

Similar symptoms going on here for the past several months. Am putting off the inevitable -- getting tests done. Never heard of giardia -- need to go look it up! Hope you're feeling better soon and that's not it!

theycallmejane said...

You poor thing! Here's hoping the chaos in all areas of your life dies down soon!

Contemporary Troubadour said...

Kristen -- so would your mother be laughing wryly or just giving me the "I told you so" eye? Either way, the kitties would sidle up to her and rub their heads all over her ankles as if to say, "Who, us?"

Bev -- yeeeeeeeeeeah, think non-parasitic thoughts for me. (Obviously unconfirmed in my case but positive tests TIMES TWO for the tabby -- the first dose of meds didn't clean her out completely!) Sigh ... I'll do my best not to bring any germs to your kitty when I visit in a few months.

FF -- isn't that the nature of tummy bugs, too nonspecific ever to be straightforward :P. And don't worry! Totally not you, you, you; just thinking as you say. As for the gallbladder, nothing going on there as far as we know. Glad your problems resolved eventually after your surgery!

hgg -- hello! Been thinking about you. Hope things are better in Scotland than they were in January ...

Sherlock -- unless you've had any exposure to the bug via your pets (who would have exhibited symptoms too), I imagine it's unlikely that's the cause of your symptoms. So sorry to hear you've been dealing with that though. I will say I was glad to get some part of this preliminarily figured out even though the testing wasn't fun. The good thing is the majority of it can be done at home (no need for hospital stays).

Contemporary Troubadour said...

Thanks, Jane! Just stopped at your place and got thinking about how what I know about my family history is inherently tied into its medical history (you start to remember it when you have to fill it out numerous times on clinic intake forms). How crazy is that?

suzicate said...

I hope you and the kitties are all better soon. I don't know what Giardia is , but I hope it's not bad. GI difficulties are among the worst. Hugs.

Contemporary Troubadour said...

Thanks, SuziCate. The good news at the moment is that the kitties are doing great. And they have very sweet personalities, so even if they did pass on a bug, I couldn't really be mad at them for long ...

Good Enough Woman said...

CT, Oh bugger. I hope that, whatever it is, it can be cleared up, out, or away.

Also, you are very talented when it comes to the poop humor. Well done.

Contemporary Troubadour said...

I'm still thinking about that after-dinner poop-humor salon chez vous, GEW!

hgg said...

yeag, sorry for the silence. blogging is not on the top of the list these days. I read though. I read.

Contemporary Troubadour said...

No need to apologize, hgg. Glad to know you're out there.

TKW said...

NO! You need giardia like a hole in the head!

Are you any better? Any news? I am so sorry!

Contemporary Troubadour said...

You know, TKW, a hole in the head would at least be some variety!

But in all seriousness, no, no appreciable change yet. I did get Dr. Specialist on the phone, but (as predicted), he can't really assess the mutiny until it's gone on for more than a day or two. (Since my call, it has, but he needs a week or two of self-monitoring on my part from the onset of symptoms.) So we watch, we wait, we take notes, and we give him our full report in a few days ...

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Tuesday, March 30, 2010

$%!#

I hadn't been blogging about the outcome of all the testing for a lot of reasons.

For one, I needed a break from thinking about it. And I certainly didn't want this space to become all medical, all the time. Then the diagnosis, while a diagnosis, was still preliminary, so I didn't want to jinx it by talking about it -- I figured I'd get my prescriptions filled (a combination of antibiotics and probiotics), start treatment, and await the results before mentioning anything here. Things were looking good too! No nasty GI symptoms for a week and a half. I was stoked.

But this morning, I woke up to a gastrointestinal mutiny.

What the hell happened??? Of course my brain shifted into analytical mode and started counting off possible causes. Last night's leftovers? (Not likely, barely two days old, quite properly refrigerated, and without effect on D.) Side effects of the antibiotics? (Doesn't make sense -- wouldn't they have made themselves known early on?) How about the shellfish from two weekends back. (Again, doubtful, given the time lag.) That leaves -- uh oh.

Did I mention we picked up two foster kitties on Friday? And that one of them recently tested positive for giardia? I had no idea until after I'd gotten them home and had time to read their medical files thoroughly. Kitty's been treated, but still. Gulp.

I've always been very, very careful about handwashing after handling any of our fosters. These parasites, however, are especially tenacious -- you have to boil them to death. Unfortunately, as much as I'd like to, I cannot plunge my hands into boiling water every time I finish grooming our furry guests or scooping their litter.

Please, after these last nine months of GI evil, let me not have gotten giardia.

The problem is that its symptoms, from what I've read, are essentially indistinguishable from malabsorption resulting from other causes (the issue I had to begin with). In my case, Dr. Specialist was guessing I had a bacterial imbalance in my small intestine. And a significant reduction in symptoms after this course of antibiotics would mean he was probably right.

But now, now there's this new variable. Possibly throwing off this test, as it were. Does it mean further months of not knowing for sure what's wrong? Are we going to be playing the watch and wait game all over again? And which doctor am I supposed to call -- Dr. Specialist, who is nearly impossible to get hold of because of the system he works within, or my local GI guy, who seems to be a bit more conservative (read: in no rush to get an answer) in his diagnostic approach?

I know, I'll call both -- Dr. Specialist first thing tomorrow and as many times as is reasonable (it's too late in the day to reach him now). If no answer after a day or so, I'm moving on to local GI guy. That's the best I can do. I just wish I could do something more in the here and now to help me feel less frustrated.

Well, in a way, I suppose I already have. I bought myself some potted gerbera daisies last week because they caught my eye at the grocery store. Took them directly to our bathroom, our makeshift spa for plants. They're hanging out at the edge of the tub, the first thing I see whenever I walk in there.

In hindsight (yep, back to the poop humor again), flowers were a great idea.

16 comments:

Kristen @ Motherese said...

I believe that this post gives me an opportunity to whip out one of my mom's favorite sayings: "No good deed goes unpunished."

I'm sorry your kindness to the kitties has left you with a string of concerns. I hope you get the answers you're looking for - and soon.

Bev said...

OH NO, GIARDIA??

French Fancy said...

Oh CT, this is such a shame - although I have to confess to never having heard of Giardia and I am about to leave this box to google it...
(pause)

OMG, I've just read the Wiki page - the thing is that it sounds like so much else of a similar nature. Are you sure it would tbe this and not a straight forward tummy bug (is there such a thing though)?

This sounds just like me when I was getting over my gall bladder removal. I'm sorry to turn this into me me me - but medical sites do make one stop and think. They can also make one exceedingly paranoid.

I do hope this passes soon - I guess they checked out your gall bladder though...

hgg said...

Oh noes, that's not fair. Hope you figure out what it is before too long this time

Sherlock said...

Similar symptoms going on here for the past several months. Am putting off the inevitable -- getting tests done. Never heard of giardia -- need to go look it up! Hope you're feeling better soon and that's not it!

theycallmejane said...

You poor thing! Here's hoping the chaos in all areas of your life dies down soon!

Contemporary Troubadour said...

Kristen -- so would your mother be laughing wryly or just giving me the "I told you so" eye? Either way, the kitties would sidle up to her and rub their heads all over her ankles as if to say, "Who, us?"

Bev -- yeeeeeeeeeeah, think non-parasitic thoughts for me. (Obviously unconfirmed in my case but positive tests TIMES TWO for the tabby -- the first dose of meds didn't clean her out completely!) Sigh ... I'll do my best not to bring any germs to your kitty when I visit in a few months.

FF -- isn't that the nature of tummy bugs, too nonspecific ever to be straightforward :P. And don't worry! Totally not you, you, you; just thinking as you say. As for the gallbladder, nothing going on there as far as we know. Glad your problems resolved eventually after your surgery!

hgg -- hello! Been thinking about you. Hope things are better in Scotland than they were in January ...

Sherlock -- unless you've had any exposure to the bug via your pets (who would have exhibited symptoms too), I imagine it's unlikely that's the cause of your symptoms. So sorry to hear you've been dealing with that though. I will say I was glad to get some part of this preliminarily figured out even though the testing wasn't fun. The good thing is the majority of it can be done at home (no need for hospital stays).

Contemporary Troubadour said...

Thanks, Jane! Just stopped at your place and got thinking about how what I know about my family history is inherently tied into its medical history (you start to remember it when you have to fill it out numerous times on clinic intake forms). How crazy is that?

suzicate said...

I hope you and the kitties are all better soon. I don't know what Giardia is , but I hope it's not bad. GI difficulties are among the worst. Hugs.

Contemporary Troubadour said...

Thanks, SuziCate. The good news at the moment is that the kitties are doing great. And they have very sweet personalities, so even if they did pass on a bug, I couldn't really be mad at them for long ...

Good Enough Woman said...

CT, Oh bugger. I hope that, whatever it is, it can be cleared up, out, or away.

Also, you are very talented when it comes to the poop humor. Well done.

Contemporary Troubadour said...

I'm still thinking about that after-dinner poop-humor salon chez vous, GEW!

hgg said...

yeag, sorry for the silence. blogging is not on the top of the list these days. I read though. I read.

Contemporary Troubadour said...

No need to apologize, hgg. Glad to know you're out there.

TKW said...

NO! You need giardia like a hole in the head!

Are you any better? Any news? I am so sorry!

Contemporary Troubadour said...

You know, TKW, a hole in the head would at least be some variety!

But in all seriousness, no, no appreciable change yet. I did get Dr. Specialist on the phone, but (as predicted), he can't really assess the mutiny until it's gone on for more than a day or two. (Since my call, it has, but he needs a week or two of self-monitoring on my part from the onset of symptoms.) So we watch, we wait, we take notes, and we give him our full report in a few days ...