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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.

Thursday, November 11, 2010

The last thing I remember

... is the room beginning to spin.

It was kind of cool, the pinwheeling, marbleizing filter that had suddenly fallen over my eyes as I lay on the operating table. I wanted to remove the oxygen mask to tell the anesthesiologist what I was seeing, but before I could reach for it, I was out.

*

And then someone was saying my name, and I was propped up in some bed with a lot of blankets but I was still cold and there was no way in hell I was opening my eyes because -- well, there was just no way in hell. "We're going to move you to a recliner, okay?" the voice said, bright and sonsy. "Just swing your legs over the edge and we'll help you stand."

Amazingly, my body complied. (Apparently, I'm very good at following directions even while semi-conscious.) Teeth chattering, limbs shaking, eyes still mostly closed -- why the recliner? I wanted to ask; let me stay in bed, please. But I couldn't muster a word. It didn't matter, though, because I was out again before I hit the chair.

*

At some point, the urologist came to talk to me. "We got the stone," she said. "It was impacted."

"Great," I said. And then I remembered why I was there to begin with.

The suspected kidney stone from early September never passed. And after weeks of waiting, hurting, and bleeding, it was time to figure out if the stone was the problem or if something else was going on. So I met with a urologist -- not the one who first found the stone but another recommended to me after my third trip to the ER. She scheduled the imaging studies for yesterday -- x-rays, with contrast injected into the urinary tract -- to see what there was to see. If there was indeed a stone, it could be taken out at the same time, while I was under.

"How's your pain" -- suddenly, that other sonsy voice was speaking again -- "on a scale of one to ten?"

"Two?" I ventured. My bigger concern was my ability to think or move (or were they really just the same thing?) -- both still muddied and slow and exhausting, like trying to levitate from a bed of quicksand.

"Good. I need you to drink something -- can I get you apple juice?"

My brain cleared for a moment. Apple juice equals sugar. "Don't think I can have it -- prediabetic," I said, eyes still closed.

"Water, then," the voice said. "And how about some crackers?"

"Can't," I said, fighting harder against the quicksand. "Carbs."

"I don't want the pain meds to make you nauseated," the voice insisted. "I'll bring you just a little to nibble on."

"Okay," I said, too tired to argue or try to explain anymore.

*

They're eye-opening, these moments of limitation. I'm used to being able to handle my own basic needs. When I can't, I fight hard to do it anyway -- for weeks, I've gone without more than over-the-counter pain relief because I needed to be able to function. To drive a car, to take care of household chores, to engage with other people just to feel connected to the outside world. And to monitor my health care in a system with a lot of cracks in it. I can't do that effectively on stronger meds, though, apparently, I still try.

I'm clearer today, but only just. I made the mistake of letting the pain meds wear off at one point yesterday, hoping to get my brain and body back, but it was too much. So here I am, typing five words a minute, reaching for clarity that feels just beyond my grasp.

I think I'm okay with that. Fragmented as this memory will be when I return to it in a few days or weeks, it will be here. To remind me that the limitations I feel are relative. Three days ago, I was complaining about not wanting to work out. Today, it's not a question of want at all. I'm just glad to be able to get down the stairs on these jelly-filled legs to brew some coffee. And come right back up to bed.

11 comments:

Good Enough Woman said...

Oh my. You poor troubador. I hope you feel better soon.

((((CT))))

C. Troubadour said...

Thanks, GEW. Me too.

Sarah said...

GO Go GO, Mend Mend Mend.
I know those jelly legs post surgery. They are deceptive. And annoying.
Here's to getting better. Feeling clearer.

BigLittleWolf said...

Good God. Well, your 5 words/minutes are the most extraordinarily articulate I've read in some time. You certainly capture the sensation of going under (coming out and going under again) - and the helplessness when we suddenly find ourselves without our usual mind/body function.

Rest, rest, rest, chère CT. And feel better soon.

French Fancy... said...

I know first hand just how strong that pain can be and you have all my sympathy and concern.

Hugs
Julie

TKW said...

Glad they got that little fucker. Rest up, sweet Troubador.

Sherlock said...

I hate post-anesthesia. I am truly impressed at how well you captured those moments so vividly. Feel better soon!!

C. Troubadour said...

Sarah -- they ARE deceptive! And that makes no sense because they are totally not connected to the kidneys, so they should work just fine, right? (Vicodin logic.)


BLW -- merci. I kid you not, I started that post at 11 a.m. Note the actual time I hit publish ...

The in-and-out, what-happened-to-my-brain-and-body feeling is the most disturbing thing I've ever felt. Hard to forget (even if it's disjointed).


FF -- things are more manageable today :). Hoping to be off the heavier stuff soon.


TKW -- that is EXACTLY what that thing was. Two millimeters of pure spite. I appreciate the solidarity in snark, dear Kitch.


Sherlock -- you know, post-anesthesia is still clearer for me than post-twilight sleep? I'd thought they were going to use "light" sedation, but they went with general, which was probably a good thing. The memory-wiping drug in the twilight cocktail leaves me a lot more disoriented.

SuziCate said...

Bless you heart! Hubby had stones...painful! Hope you are all mended very soon!

ck said...

You poor thing. And yet even in the midst of this, your writing is incredible. When I was med-ed up for kidney stones (and later knocked out for a stone smashing) I wasn't nearly as eloquent. I'm going to continue reading backwards in posts to catch up on everything that happened, but in the meantime I hope you're feeling better!

C. Troubadour said...

SuziCate -- thank you. I hope your husband doesn't have to suffer more of them!

CK -- I'm so sorry you've had to experience kidney stones too! Oh meds fog ... keep in mind that I had to gather each thought very slowly. Fortunately, Blogger auto-saves your work :). If I'd tried to tell the story out loud, I think there would have been a LOT of pauses.

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Thursday, November 11, 2010

The last thing I remember

... is the room beginning to spin.

It was kind of cool, the pinwheeling, marbleizing filter that had suddenly fallen over my eyes as I lay on the operating table. I wanted to remove the oxygen mask to tell the anesthesiologist what I was seeing, but before I could reach for it, I was out.

*

And then someone was saying my name, and I was propped up in some bed with a lot of blankets but I was still cold and there was no way in hell I was opening my eyes because -- well, there was just no way in hell. "We're going to move you to a recliner, okay?" the voice said, bright and sonsy. "Just swing your legs over the edge and we'll help you stand."

Amazingly, my body complied. (Apparently, I'm very good at following directions even while semi-conscious.) Teeth chattering, limbs shaking, eyes still mostly closed -- why the recliner? I wanted to ask; let me stay in bed, please. But I couldn't muster a word. It didn't matter, though, because I was out again before I hit the chair.

*

At some point, the urologist came to talk to me. "We got the stone," she said. "It was impacted."

"Great," I said. And then I remembered why I was there to begin with.

The suspected kidney stone from early September never passed. And after weeks of waiting, hurting, and bleeding, it was time to figure out if the stone was the problem or if something else was going on. So I met with a urologist -- not the one who first found the stone but another recommended to me after my third trip to the ER. She scheduled the imaging studies for yesterday -- x-rays, with contrast injected into the urinary tract -- to see what there was to see. If there was indeed a stone, it could be taken out at the same time, while I was under.

"How's your pain" -- suddenly, that other sonsy voice was speaking again -- "on a scale of one to ten?"

"Two?" I ventured. My bigger concern was my ability to think or move (or were they really just the same thing?) -- both still muddied and slow and exhausting, like trying to levitate from a bed of quicksand.

"Good. I need you to drink something -- can I get you apple juice?"

My brain cleared for a moment. Apple juice equals sugar. "Don't think I can have it -- prediabetic," I said, eyes still closed.

"Water, then," the voice said. "And how about some crackers?"

"Can't," I said, fighting harder against the quicksand. "Carbs."

"I don't want the pain meds to make you nauseated," the voice insisted. "I'll bring you just a little to nibble on."

"Okay," I said, too tired to argue or try to explain anymore.

*

They're eye-opening, these moments of limitation. I'm used to being able to handle my own basic needs. When I can't, I fight hard to do it anyway -- for weeks, I've gone without more than over-the-counter pain relief because I needed to be able to function. To drive a car, to take care of household chores, to engage with other people just to feel connected to the outside world. And to monitor my health care in a system with a lot of cracks in it. I can't do that effectively on stronger meds, though, apparently, I still try.

I'm clearer today, but only just. I made the mistake of letting the pain meds wear off at one point yesterday, hoping to get my brain and body back, but it was too much. So here I am, typing five words a minute, reaching for clarity that feels just beyond my grasp.

I think I'm okay with that. Fragmented as this memory will be when I return to it in a few days or weeks, it will be here. To remind me that the limitations I feel are relative. Three days ago, I was complaining about not wanting to work out. Today, it's not a question of want at all. I'm just glad to be able to get down the stairs on these jelly-filled legs to brew some coffee. And come right back up to bed.

11 comments:

Good Enough Woman said...

Oh my. You poor troubador. I hope you feel better soon.

((((CT))))

C. Troubadour said...

Thanks, GEW. Me too.

Sarah said...

GO Go GO, Mend Mend Mend.
I know those jelly legs post surgery. They are deceptive. And annoying.
Here's to getting better. Feeling clearer.

BigLittleWolf said...

Good God. Well, your 5 words/minutes are the most extraordinarily articulate I've read in some time. You certainly capture the sensation of going under (coming out and going under again) - and the helplessness when we suddenly find ourselves without our usual mind/body function.

Rest, rest, rest, chère CT. And feel better soon.

French Fancy... said...

I know first hand just how strong that pain can be and you have all my sympathy and concern.

Hugs
Julie

TKW said...

Glad they got that little fucker. Rest up, sweet Troubador.

Sherlock said...

I hate post-anesthesia. I am truly impressed at how well you captured those moments so vividly. Feel better soon!!

C. Troubadour said...

Sarah -- they ARE deceptive! And that makes no sense because they are totally not connected to the kidneys, so they should work just fine, right? (Vicodin logic.)


BLW -- merci. I kid you not, I started that post at 11 a.m. Note the actual time I hit publish ...

The in-and-out, what-happened-to-my-brain-and-body feeling is the most disturbing thing I've ever felt. Hard to forget (even if it's disjointed).


FF -- things are more manageable today :). Hoping to be off the heavier stuff soon.


TKW -- that is EXACTLY what that thing was. Two millimeters of pure spite. I appreciate the solidarity in snark, dear Kitch.


Sherlock -- you know, post-anesthesia is still clearer for me than post-twilight sleep? I'd thought they were going to use "light" sedation, but they went with general, which was probably a good thing. The memory-wiping drug in the twilight cocktail leaves me a lot more disoriented.

SuziCate said...

Bless you heart! Hubby had stones...painful! Hope you are all mended very soon!

ck said...

You poor thing. And yet even in the midst of this, your writing is incredible. When I was med-ed up for kidney stones (and later knocked out for a stone smashing) I wasn't nearly as eloquent. I'm going to continue reading backwards in posts to catch up on everything that happened, but in the meantime I hope you're feeling better!

C. Troubadour said...

SuziCate -- thank you. I hope your husband doesn't have to suffer more of them!

CK -- I'm so sorry you've had to experience kidney stones too! Oh meds fog ... keep in mind that I had to gather each thought very slowly. Fortunately, Blogger auto-saves your work :). If I'd tried to tell the story out loud, I think there would have been a LOT of pauses.