Blogroll

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!)

Archives

For posts sorted by date or label, see the links below.

For posts on frequently referenced topics, click the buttons to the right.

To search this blog, type in the field at the top left of the page and hit enter.

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, April 14, 2010

Tuesday

... was hard.

Well, for that matter, Monday was too. I had my follow-up appointment with my local GI doctor to talk about the plan going forward after what he lightly referred to as the Million-Dollar Workup.

I was glad he wasn't put off that I'd gone to someone else for all the testing. I'd planned to be forthright about discussing the findings, no matter how he seemed (I did have all the new data sent to him). But it was a relief all the same that we didn't have any awkwardness about it.

The good news he had for me: my liver enzymes are completely back in the normal range. Which means I can drink again -- at last! -- with continued monitoring every few months.

The bad news I had for him: this little problem called depression is not going away.

It is not the fault of any single thing. But we were supposed to start trying to have a baby this month. That was, in essence, the plan D and I framed up last summer, which was why we were so intent on getting my health issues fixed -- or at least properly examined to see what kinds of risks and other concerns we needed to take into account before trying to get me pregnant. We went to a reproductive endocrinologist, who ran the usual blood tests to get baseline readings, which revealed the abnormal liver numbers (you know the rest of that story). He also discussed the things I ought to consider to get my body in the best shape for this new adventure -- including tapering off the antidepressants I'd been taking since mid-2008. Commuter marriage? Not good for someone who's been dealing with chronic blues for a long time. But D and I were done with that, and I was working through family stress in my writing. I felt ready to move forward.

So I timed the step-down very carefully, waiting till after the holiday season to attempt it. The process seemed to go well; by the first week of February, I was done.

But the combination of things that was the rest of that month -- I didn't anticipate how they would affect me. I thought I was in a better place; really, I did.

No.

Of course, it's not just February I'm trying to work through. February was just a month of triggers. But, given their effects, it's clear that there are underlying griefs I haven't found a way to manage completely. And knowing that, knowing I haven't yet achieved that goal is what kills me now. Because I wanted to be ready for motherhood (at least, as ready as one can hope to be). The reality is that there's no way I can look myself in the eye and say, "Sure. You can handle it." I know at least that much about where I am, even if I don't know much else.

And yet. No matter how wise that decision, for me and for the little life that will be utterly dependent on me, it is still heartbreaking -- because of the delay, because of the reasons for the delay, because there is no clear mark on the horizon to tell me when the delay will be over. And the irony of it all: the antidepressants were quite likely the source of the liver damage.

I know I shouldn't be hard on myself about this as it certainly won't help. If there's anyone who needs to be in my corner with me, it's me. "You've got a lot going on," the GI doctor said sympathetically as I confessed to him that I'd relapsed (with not just the GI problems but also depression) and what that meant for our plans for a family. He urged me to take care of myself first.

I spent much of Tuesday trying to write this post, but it was still too hard to put everything into words, so I gave up and cuddled our foster kitties for a while. They seemed to know I needed their company and stayed close. Today, to my relief, felt better -- even though what I've described isn't a fraction of the way it all feels, at least some of that was writable, which means I'm working through it. I am taking care of myself here.

I just wish I didn't have to.

10 comments:

Corinne said...

Writing can be so therapeutic...
Sounds like there' so much going on, so much to process, be kind to yourself :)

French Fancy said...

Oh CT, I am sorry to read all this. One good thing though is that the liver readings are normal again. I know it is small comfort at the moment but at least it is one little good thing. Another is that you are doing such a great job fostering those little kittens - and you got the rose to bloom again.

You too will bloom again.

Keep pouring it out on to here. We're your friends and really care about you, you know.

x

medieval woman said...

Everyone's right, you do need to take care of yourself and getting all the enzymes back where they should be is a big step in the right direction! Are there any anti-depressants you can take while trying for a baby - perhaps not those bad liver ones! But there are lots of people who aren't able to go off their meds and still have healthy babies. I know in a perfect world we'd all be taking no pills at all when pregnant, but sometimes that's not possible and the little guys are resilient!

I'm thinking about you - happily now that the commute is over and you're feeling better things are likely on the upswing. Also, it could take you many months to get pregnant when you do start to try - and that's an exciting and wonderful time!

((CT))

suzicate said...

I know it hurts when things don't happen in our timing. But being healthy first will be better for both you and the baby. I hope that it's a quick road in healing and things go according to schedule. And writing can be so cathartic. Hang in there and take care of yourself. Blessings.

Sherlock said...

Good news about the liver enzymes. Mine are problematic too and it's a difficult balancing act between meds and enzymes. You have had so much going on and it takes a while for us to adjust to such changes and stresses. Hang in there! Take care of you and everything will fall into place as its meant to.

TKW said...

Sweetie! I'm so sorry that the depression monster is hanging around. That's absolutely not fair.

I AM happy about your liver. Really happy.

I also sort of don't understand the reason for going off anti-depressants in the first place? Some of them aren't advisable during pregnancy, but I was on a doctor-approved antidepressant for both pregnancies. And we're all healthy as can be. Did your doctor give you a good reason for quitting them altoghether?

Try to be gentle to yourself, like Corinne wisely advises. Life is hard enough--blaming yourself isn't going to do any good.

We love you, CT.

Contemporary Troubadour said...

Corinne -- kindness to the self is sometimes the hardest thing for me to practice. You are right, though. It's important to remember.

FF -- thank you for the metaphor and the reminder. And yes, small comforts count!

MW -- I haven't looked into other medication options yet, but I'm thinking I should at least do my homework. Thanks for the encouragement. And yes, trying for a baby is going to be a whole new exciting time (we know it isn't generally that easy so we weren't expecting to have it work on the first try -- but I so wanted to be ready to try). Thinking of you too and the Medieval Manatees!

SuziCate -- cathartic indeed! I can't tell you how much better I felt just being able to put words on virtual paper.

Sherlock -- how I know you know about that balancing act. I appreciate hearing the reassurance from someone who's experienced there though I wouldn't wish that experience on anyone.

TKW -- love you too, Kitch, you sweet thing! The repro-endo guy didn't quite say, "Thou shalt get off thy meds"; more like "These are Category C meds that may pose risks to your baby." Of course, the mother-to-be in me said, "Oh dear, I don't want to pose more risk than I have to" and decided to give the taper a try. As I said to MW, it's time for me to do some research into alternatives ...

theycallmejane said...

I am so, so sorry about your struggles. I wish I could wave a magic wand for you and blow the dark clouds away. As everyone else has already suggested - take care of yourself. Treat yourself with things you enjoy - bubble baths, a manicure, a latte in peace and quiet, anything as long as it's something that nourishes YOU. You deserve it!

Anonymous said...

I'm glad you've got good news on the liver front.
While I'm sad for you that your health issues mean that you and your partner aren't free to please yourselves with respect to starting a family, I'm also relieved that there is yet one more person not starting a family just now.
There are already way, way too many people on the planet. So you are not only caring for yourself by not breeding now, you are also caring for the entire planet by not contributing to the single biggest problem we face.

Contemporary Troubadour said...

Jane -- all lovely ideas for treating myself. Thanks for your kind words. I recently got a coffee grinder (first ever!) so now I'm enjoying fresh-ground beans. A little luxury to start the day :)


Anonymous -- while I'm sad for you that your lack of tact means that you feel free to please yourself by commenting to serve your own agenda, I'm also relieved that there is yet one more person to demonstrate the irony of commenting anonymously in the name of a cause.

There are already way, way too many people who hide behind anonymity while trying to promote their personal views. Not only are you undermining your credibility by not providing a traceable name (Blogger-specific or through OpenID), but you are also eliminating the possibility of a real discussion of the "single biggest problem" you feel we face.

Problems, large or small, are more easily solved with dialogue. Which you can't really have if you can't be reached, no?

Posts by date

Posts by label

Air travel Airline food Allergic reactions Astoria Awards Bacteremia Bacterial overgrowth Baggage beefs Bed and breakfast Betrayal Blues Body Boston Breastfeeding British Columbia California Canada Cape Spear Clam-digging Colonoscopy Commuter marriage Cooking CT scans Delays Diagnoses Dietitians Doctor-patient relationships Doctors Eating while traveling Editing Endocrine Endoscopy ER False starts Family dynamics Feedback Food anxiety Food sensitivities Gate agent guff GI Halifax Heart Home-making House hunting Hypoglycemia In-laws Intentional happiness Iowa Journaling Kidney stones Knitting Lab tests Little U. on the Prairie Liver function tests Long Beach Making friends in new places Malabsorption Massachusetts Medical records Medication Mentorship MFA programs Miami Monterey Motivation Moving Narrative New York Newark Newfoundland Nova Scotia Olympic Peninsula Ontario Ophthalmology Oregon Oxalates Pancreatic function tests Parenting Parents Paris Pets Photography Portland Prediabetes Pregnancy Process Professors Publishing Reproductive endocrine Research Revision Rewriting Rheumatology San Francisco Scenes from a graduation series Scenes from around the table series Seattle Sisters Skiing St. John's Striped-up paisley Teaching Technological snafus Texas Thesis Toronto Travel Travel fears Traveling while sick Ultrasound Urology Vancouver Victoria Voice Washington Washington D.C. Weight When words won't stick Whidbey Island Why we write Workshops Writers on writing Writing Writing friends Writing in odd places Writing jobs Yakima

Wednesday, April 14, 2010

Tuesday

... was hard.

Well, for that matter, Monday was too. I had my follow-up appointment with my local GI doctor to talk about the plan going forward after what he lightly referred to as the Million-Dollar Workup.

I was glad he wasn't put off that I'd gone to someone else for all the testing. I'd planned to be forthright about discussing the findings, no matter how he seemed (I did have all the new data sent to him). But it was a relief all the same that we didn't have any awkwardness about it.

The good news he had for me: my liver enzymes are completely back in the normal range. Which means I can drink again -- at last! -- with continued monitoring every few months.

The bad news I had for him: this little problem called depression is not going away.

It is not the fault of any single thing. But we were supposed to start trying to have a baby this month. That was, in essence, the plan D and I framed up last summer, which was why we were so intent on getting my health issues fixed -- or at least properly examined to see what kinds of risks and other concerns we needed to take into account before trying to get me pregnant. We went to a reproductive endocrinologist, who ran the usual blood tests to get baseline readings, which revealed the abnormal liver numbers (you know the rest of that story). He also discussed the things I ought to consider to get my body in the best shape for this new adventure -- including tapering off the antidepressants I'd been taking since mid-2008. Commuter marriage? Not good for someone who's been dealing with chronic blues for a long time. But D and I were done with that, and I was working through family stress in my writing. I felt ready to move forward.

So I timed the step-down very carefully, waiting till after the holiday season to attempt it. The process seemed to go well; by the first week of February, I was done.

But the combination of things that was the rest of that month -- I didn't anticipate how they would affect me. I thought I was in a better place; really, I did.

No.

Of course, it's not just February I'm trying to work through. February was just a month of triggers. But, given their effects, it's clear that there are underlying griefs I haven't found a way to manage completely. And knowing that, knowing I haven't yet achieved that goal is what kills me now. Because I wanted to be ready for motherhood (at least, as ready as one can hope to be). The reality is that there's no way I can look myself in the eye and say, "Sure. You can handle it." I know at least that much about where I am, even if I don't know much else.

And yet. No matter how wise that decision, for me and for the little life that will be utterly dependent on me, it is still heartbreaking -- because of the delay, because of the reasons for the delay, because there is no clear mark on the horizon to tell me when the delay will be over. And the irony of it all: the antidepressants were quite likely the source of the liver damage.

I know I shouldn't be hard on myself about this as it certainly won't help. If there's anyone who needs to be in my corner with me, it's me. "You've got a lot going on," the GI doctor said sympathetically as I confessed to him that I'd relapsed (with not just the GI problems but also depression) and what that meant for our plans for a family. He urged me to take care of myself first.

I spent much of Tuesday trying to write this post, but it was still too hard to put everything into words, so I gave up and cuddled our foster kitties for a while. They seemed to know I needed their company and stayed close. Today, to my relief, felt better -- even though what I've described isn't a fraction of the way it all feels, at least some of that was writable, which means I'm working through it. I am taking care of myself here.

I just wish I didn't have to.

10 comments:

Corinne said...

Writing can be so therapeutic...
Sounds like there' so much going on, so much to process, be kind to yourself :)

French Fancy said...

Oh CT, I am sorry to read all this. One good thing though is that the liver readings are normal again. I know it is small comfort at the moment but at least it is one little good thing. Another is that you are doing such a great job fostering those little kittens - and you got the rose to bloom again.

You too will bloom again.

Keep pouring it out on to here. We're your friends and really care about you, you know.

x

medieval woman said...

Everyone's right, you do need to take care of yourself and getting all the enzymes back where they should be is a big step in the right direction! Are there any anti-depressants you can take while trying for a baby - perhaps not those bad liver ones! But there are lots of people who aren't able to go off their meds and still have healthy babies. I know in a perfect world we'd all be taking no pills at all when pregnant, but sometimes that's not possible and the little guys are resilient!

I'm thinking about you - happily now that the commute is over and you're feeling better things are likely on the upswing. Also, it could take you many months to get pregnant when you do start to try - and that's an exciting and wonderful time!

((CT))

suzicate said...

I know it hurts when things don't happen in our timing. But being healthy first will be better for both you and the baby. I hope that it's a quick road in healing and things go according to schedule. And writing can be so cathartic. Hang in there and take care of yourself. Blessings.

Sherlock said...

Good news about the liver enzymes. Mine are problematic too and it's a difficult balancing act between meds and enzymes. You have had so much going on and it takes a while for us to adjust to such changes and stresses. Hang in there! Take care of you and everything will fall into place as its meant to.

TKW said...

Sweetie! I'm so sorry that the depression monster is hanging around. That's absolutely not fair.

I AM happy about your liver. Really happy.

I also sort of don't understand the reason for going off anti-depressants in the first place? Some of them aren't advisable during pregnancy, but I was on a doctor-approved antidepressant for both pregnancies. And we're all healthy as can be. Did your doctor give you a good reason for quitting them altoghether?

Try to be gentle to yourself, like Corinne wisely advises. Life is hard enough--blaming yourself isn't going to do any good.

We love you, CT.

Contemporary Troubadour said...

Corinne -- kindness to the self is sometimes the hardest thing for me to practice. You are right, though. It's important to remember.

FF -- thank you for the metaphor and the reminder. And yes, small comforts count!

MW -- I haven't looked into other medication options yet, but I'm thinking I should at least do my homework. Thanks for the encouragement. And yes, trying for a baby is going to be a whole new exciting time (we know it isn't generally that easy so we weren't expecting to have it work on the first try -- but I so wanted to be ready to try). Thinking of you too and the Medieval Manatees!

SuziCate -- cathartic indeed! I can't tell you how much better I felt just being able to put words on virtual paper.

Sherlock -- how I know you know about that balancing act. I appreciate hearing the reassurance from someone who's experienced there though I wouldn't wish that experience on anyone.

TKW -- love you too, Kitch, you sweet thing! The repro-endo guy didn't quite say, "Thou shalt get off thy meds"; more like "These are Category C meds that may pose risks to your baby." Of course, the mother-to-be in me said, "Oh dear, I don't want to pose more risk than I have to" and decided to give the taper a try. As I said to MW, it's time for me to do some research into alternatives ...

theycallmejane said...

I am so, so sorry about your struggles. I wish I could wave a magic wand for you and blow the dark clouds away. As everyone else has already suggested - take care of yourself. Treat yourself with things you enjoy - bubble baths, a manicure, a latte in peace and quiet, anything as long as it's something that nourishes YOU. You deserve it!

Anonymous said...

I'm glad you've got good news on the liver front.
While I'm sad for you that your health issues mean that you and your partner aren't free to please yourselves with respect to starting a family, I'm also relieved that there is yet one more person not starting a family just now.
There are already way, way too many people on the planet. So you are not only caring for yourself by not breeding now, you are also caring for the entire planet by not contributing to the single biggest problem we face.

Contemporary Troubadour said...

Jane -- all lovely ideas for treating myself. Thanks for your kind words. I recently got a coffee grinder (first ever!) so now I'm enjoying fresh-ground beans. A little luxury to start the day :)


Anonymous -- while I'm sad for you that your lack of tact means that you feel free to please yourself by commenting to serve your own agenda, I'm also relieved that there is yet one more person to demonstrate the irony of commenting anonymously in the name of a cause.

There are already way, way too many people who hide behind anonymity while trying to promote their personal views. Not only are you undermining your credibility by not providing a traceable name (Blogger-specific or through OpenID), but you are also eliminating the possibility of a real discussion of the "single biggest problem" you feel we face.

Problems, large or small, are more easily solved with dialogue. Which you can't really have if you can't be reached, no?