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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.

Monday, October 18, 2010

Square one

So, about Wednesday.

It was a small adventure, locating the clinic. The place is in an area of the city I don't normally spend much time in, so I was more than out of my element, trying to find parking, looking for the right building, attempting to understand the electronic directory, then finally giving up and guessing which floor to take the elevator to. No signs, and no one to ask.

I'd stuck all the information I'd gathered into a folder I'd recycled from -- believe it or not -- ninth-grade English class. (Last summer, as I was digging through the boxes of stuff that used to be in storage at my parents' house, I tossed the old homework assignments and kept the office supplies.) It was a little weird to feel the thickness of all that data crammed into the space that used to hold a semester's worth of journal assignments, but it was strangely appropriate too. Replace one narrative with, in essence, another even more intimate: blood counts and other analyses set in order like entries in a diary.

To my relief, I'd guessed correctly, and the elevator opened into the foyer of the office I needed. In a few minutes, I was sitting with a lap full of new paperwork.

I couldn't finish it fast enough -- a nurse took me back to a room very shortly. She indicated the examination table and the gown folded at one end, so I got undressed. Hopped up onto the paper liner, folder and forms still in my hands. I was still scribbling when the doctor came in.

"Hi," she said, as she headed for the sink to wash her hands. "I'm Dr. ________, but you can use my first name." She smiled and pulled a rolling stool up to my dangling legs. "What's brought you to our clinic today?"

I held up the paperwork. "I'm sorry; I'm not done with these -- "

"It's okay," she said, taking the forms and my folder, setting them on a chair out of reach. "Tell me what's going on."

I froze. The folder, which held my story, also seemed to have my voice in it. But the doctor was waiting, so I offered the first things I could remember: four specialists, each with their own work-ups, no comprehensive picture. "I need someone who can look at the whole, not just the parts," I said, nodding toward the chair.

She opened the file immediately, eyes widening. As she scanned the contents, I explained when my health problems had begun, trying to get a better beginning, middle, and end established for the fragmented narrative I'd started with. She nodded, taking notes, asking a question here and there to clarify. But for the most part, she listened.

When I was done, she closed her eyes, fingers to her temples, as if she was thinking hard. "This is a lot of information," she said, "and if you're willing to trust me with this, I'd like to keep it for a few days, just to synthesize all of it more thoroughly in my mind. I'm thinking several things right now, but I want to see exactly what's been done and what hasn't so we can put together some next steps."

I nodded. A doctor taking this kind of time before trying to formulate a path to a diagnosis? It was more than I'd hoped for. For the first time in months, I had the sense that I'd found someone who could help. But what kind of follow-up was she envisioning?

"Early next week," she said, eyes seeking mine with a reassuring expression. "I'll be in touch with you with a plan. We're going to get to the bottom of this."

This time, I think I can believe that.

10 comments:

Good Enough Woman said...

Oh, CT! I hope she's the one! It sounds as if she has a good mix of confidence and humility--all mixed in with thoughtfulness.

My thoughts are with you! (Well, some of my thoughts. The ones that aren't focused on midterms, research papers, my dissertation, and my children). But I have a lot of thoughts to go around, and some have "CT" clearly stamped on them.

{{{{{{{{{CT}}}}}}}}}

French Fancy... said...

Oh my dear fingers crossed that you have found the living answer to your health problems. You described it so well though - I felt like I was in the room with you.

Waiting to hear...

hugs
J

Sherlock said...

She sounds like a dream! I've had two docs like that over the years. My rheumy is like that. What a joy to have a supportive doc who really takes the time to listen and consider all possibilities before making recommendations. Will be waiting to hear what you hear from her!

TKW said...

Fuck. Look at that folder, girl. You have been through so much.

Sending white light your way and hoping that this doctor can bring you some answers and relief.

SuziCate said...

Oh, thank goodness. It does appear to be light at the end of the tunnel. It sounds like you finally have someone who really wants to help. Yay! I am so happy that maybe she will have answers, and you can start to feel better.

hgg said...

crossing my fingers and toes that she'll figure it out!

Kristen @ Motherese said...

What a relief it must be to have found a physician who seems ready to see you as a sum rather than just parts. I hope she comes through for you - you certainly deserve it!

C. Troubadour said...

GEW -- the humility was what really amazed me. She clearly respects what steps the other doctors have taken; at the same time, she does have concerns she wants to address in her own evaluation of things. I think she'll be good at navigating all the opinions and getting additional consults as needed. Which is what I've been hoping for.

And my thoughts are distributed in a similar fashion! Thesis, kitty (who's under the weather too at the moment), crap tons of laundry, what my advisors are thinking since they haven't heard from me in a month ... :P. But I very much enjoy the thoughts stamped with GEW. They tend to make me smile.


FF -- thank you! I had a scene moment. Maybe it's thesis work bleeding over into blogging. I'm supposed to be doing similar things in the chapter I'm trying to put together ...


Sherlock -- still waiting, but it was a HUGE quantity of information she had to digest. I'm glad you have someone who listens and thinks before leaping into the diagnostic void.


TKW -- wouldn't my freshman English teacher wonder? "That's NOT the assignment I gave you, CT. Where's your real homework?"

In all seriousness, though, it looks like more than it is. If it gets us answers, it was worth schlepping that chunk.


SuziCate -- the wheels are finally in motion, it seems. I can't wait to hear her insights. At this point, I think I have the patience of a two-year-old, which is rather unbecoming, but so be it! Hopefully I'll have reason to laugh at myself for that soon.


hgg -- hi again! No kidding, I think I've crossed things that shouldn't even be able to cross in the last week while thinking about this.


Kristen -- I think that is essentially the philosophy of the clinic I was referred to, not just looking at the parts but the whole (you've put it well). Who knew such a place existed all this time! Thanks for the good wishes.

BigLittleWolf said...

CT, quelle merveilleuse nouvelle ! - to find a doctor who actually wants to read and synthesize what's going on? That's a very hopeful sign. There are some fine physicians. The real dilemma may be in finding them...

It's been about a week since you wrote this. I hope the doctor has gotten back to you, with tangible next steps.

It's the not knowing that is so hard, and not feeling as though you are any closer to an answer.

But this all sounds quite promising. Fingers crossed for you.

C. Troubadour said...

BLW, the plan's slowly taking shape. The "getting back" happened late last week through an office assistant; now we wait some more. I'm going to meet face to face with the doctor again so we can talk about the testing she wants to run. So next week is the new target date for more action ...

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Monday, October 18, 2010

Square one

So, about Wednesday.

It was a small adventure, locating the clinic. The place is in an area of the city I don't normally spend much time in, so I was more than out of my element, trying to find parking, looking for the right building, attempting to understand the electronic directory, then finally giving up and guessing which floor to take the elevator to. No signs, and no one to ask.

I'd stuck all the information I'd gathered into a folder I'd recycled from -- believe it or not -- ninth-grade English class. (Last summer, as I was digging through the boxes of stuff that used to be in storage at my parents' house, I tossed the old homework assignments and kept the office supplies.) It was a little weird to feel the thickness of all that data crammed into the space that used to hold a semester's worth of journal assignments, but it was strangely appropriate too. Replace one narrative with, in essence, another even more intimate: blood counts and other analyses set in order like entries in a diary.

To my relief, I'd guessed correctly, and the elevator opened into the foyer of the office I needed. In a few minutes, I was sitting with a lap full of new paperwork.

I couldn't finish it fast enough -- a nurse took me back to a room very shortly. She indicated the examination table and the gown folded at one end, so I got undressed. Hopped up onto the paper liner, folder and forms still in my hands. I was still scribbling when the doctor came in.

"Hi," she said, as she headed for the sink to wash her hands. "I'm Dr. ________, but you can use my first name." She smiled and pulled a rolling stool up to my dangling legs. "What's brought you to our clinic today?"

I held up the paperwork. "I'm sorry; I'm not done with these -- "

"It's okay," she said, taking the forms and my folder, setting them on a chair out of reach. "Tell me what's going on."

I froze. The folder, which held my story, also seemed to have my voice in it. But the doctor was waiting, so I offered the first things I could remember: four specialists, each with their own work-ups, no comprehensive picture. "I need someone who can look at the whole, not just the parts," I said, nodding toward the chair.

She opened the file immediately, eyes widening. As she scanned the contents, I explained when my health problems had begun, trying to get a better beginning, middle, and end established for the fragmented narrative I'd started with. She nodded, taking notes, asking a question here and there to clarify. But for the most part, she listened.

When I was done, she closed her eyes, fingers to her temples, as if she was thinking hard. "This is a lot of information," she said, "and if you're willing to trust me with this, I'd like to keep it for a few days, just to synthesize all of it more thoroughly in my mind. I'm thinking several things right now, but I want to see exactly what's been done and what hasn't so we can put together some next steps."

I nodded. A doctor taking this kind of time before trying to formulate a path to a diagnosis? It was more than I'd hoped for. For the first time in months, I had the sense that I'd found someone who could help. But what kind of follow-up was she envisioning?

"Early next week," she said, eyes seeking mine with a reassuring expression. "I'll be in touch with you with a plan. We're going to get to the bottom of this."

This time, I think I can believe that.

10 comments:

Good Enough Woman said...

Oh, CT! I hope she's the one! It sounds as if she has a good mix of confidence and humility--all mixed in with thoughtfulness.

My thoughts are with you! (Well, some of my thoughts. The ones that aren't focused on midterms, research papers, my dissertation, and my children). But I have a lot of thoughts to go around, and some have "CT" clearly stamped on them.

{{{{{{{{{CT}}}}}}}}}

French Fancy... said...

Oh my dear fingers crossed that you have found the living answer to your health problems. You described it so well though - I felt like I was in the room with you.

Waiting to hear...

hugs
J

Sherlock said...

She sounds like a dream! I've had two docs like that over the years. My rheumy is like that. What a joy to have a supportive doc who really takes the time to listen and consider all possibilities before making recommendations. Will be waiting to hear what you hear from her!

TKW said...

Fuck. Look at that folder, girl. You have been through so much.

Sending white light your way and hoping that this doctor can bring you some answers and relief.

SuziCate said...

Oh, thank goodness. It does appear to be light at the end of the tunnel. It sounds like you finally have someone who really wants to help. Yay! I am so happy that maybe she will have answers, and you can start to feel better.

hgg said...

crossing my fingers and toes that she'll figure it out!

Kristen @ Motherese said...

What a relief it must be to have found a physician who seems ready to see you as a sum rather than just parts. I hope she comes through for you - you certainly deserve it!

C. Troubadour said...

GEW -- the humility was what really amazed me. She clearly respects what steps the other doctors have taken; at the same time, she does have concerns she wants to address in her own evaluation of things. I think she'll be good at navigating all the opinions and getting additional consults as needed. Which is what I've been hoping for.

And my thoughts are distributed in a similar fashion! Thesis, kitty (who's under the weather too at the moment), crap tons of laundry, what my advisors are thinking since they haven't heard from me in a month ... :P. But I very much enjoy the thoughts stamped with GEW. They tend to make me smile.


FF -- thank you! I had a scene moment. Maybe it's thesis work bleeding over into blogging. I'm supposed to be doing similar things in the chapter I'm trying to put together ...


Sherlock -- still waiting, but it was a HUGE quantity of information she had to digest. I'm glad you have someone who listens and thinks before leaping into the diagnostic void.


TKW -- wouldn't my freshman English teacher wonder? "That's NOT the assignment I gave you, CT. Where's your real homework?"

In all seriousness, though, it looks like more than it is. If it gets us answers, it was worth schlepping that chunk.


SuziCate -- the wheels are finally in motion, it seems. I can't wait to hear her insights. At this point, I think I have the patience of a two-year-old, which is rather unbecoming, but so be it! Hopefully I'll have reason to laugh at myself for that soon.


hgg -- hi again! No kidding, I think I've crossed things that shouldn't even be able to cross in the last week while thinking about this.


Kristen -- I think that is essentially the philosophy of the clinic I was referred to, not just looking at the parts but the whole (you've put it well). Who knew such a place existed all this time! Thanks for the good wishes.

BigLittleWolf said...

CT, quelle merveilleuse nouvelle ! - to find a doctor who actually wants to read and synthesize what's going on? That's a very hopeful sign. There are some fine physicians. The real dilemma may be in finding them...

It's been about a week since you wrote this. I hope the doctor has gotten back to you, with tangible next steps.

It's the not knowing that is so hard, and not feeling as though you are any closer to an answer.

But this all sounds quite promising. Fingers crossed for you.

C. Troubadour said...

BLW, the plan's slowly taking shape. The "getting back" happened late last week through an office assistant; now we wait some more. I'm going to meet face to face with the doctor again so we can talk about the testing she wants to run. So next week is the new target date for more action ...