Tag Archives: health issues

Tumor Update Time! (or Guess I Won’t Have Another Of These For A While)

As I mentioned in my post about getting my most recent MRI, I already knew that my liver tumors had shrunk again. That’s awesome news and I was so happy to hear that since if the tumors had grown or stayed the same I might have needed surgery. While I was mentally prepared for surgery since I thought I was having it earlier this year, I really don’t want any surgeries if I can help it. But even though I already had that good news, I didn’t know too much about what was happening which is why I met with my liver surgeon this week.

I actually hadn’t seen my liver surgeon in almost a year. I didn’t realize it had been that long, but the last time I saw him was after my second liver MRI (when we determined what type of tumors I had). After my MRI in April I didn’t see him since we had a phone call instead of me spending money for an appointment. He didn’t have a ton of answers for me then except that we should not do the surgery then because my case is pretty unique. So I was happy to see my surgeon again to discuss the plan and see what he thinks is going on.

I seriously have an awesome liver surgeon. I was randomly assigned him after it was discovered there was something happening with my liver, but I couldn’t have picked a better doctor. He totally gets that I want photos of my tumors, sends me the full radiologist report, and doesn’t mind that I always come in with a list of questions. And he talks to me normally (not talking down like some doctors do) and I think he is honestly entertained by my case since I’m so weird. In this past appointment, he said how he read about a case like mine in school but never thought that he’d get a patient with shrinking liver adenomas. I’m happy that he’s excited about what’s happening too.

This appointment was pretty easy. I already knew that the tumors shrank and he knew I’d want a bunch of photos of the screen showing my MRI so he set it up where we could see a side by side comparison. I did some editing since I know not everyone knows where the tumors are in my scans, but as you can see it’s pretty clear that the tumor is significantly smaller than it was a year ago.

In October last year the big tumor was 10cm, in April this year it was about 4cm, and this month it measured at just over 3cm. The smallest tumor is still gone (or too small to be seen on a scan) and the medium tumor is 1cm (it started at 3cm and measured at 1cm in April). My surgeon said that I’m in a pretty good spot now. He doesn’t recommend surgery for me since the tumor is small enough to not be a risk for me and the placement of it now has improved. There are still risks of it growing if I am pregnant one day, but he said that he isn’t worried about it.

We discussed options to get rid of it. There are some less invasive options than surgery, but because of the placement of my tumor they aren’t things I can do. My tumor is pressed against my stomach so anything like radiation or burning the tumor would risk injuring my stomach. The risks of those procedures outweighs the benefit of taking out the tumor. But we did talk about how there is a chance I’ll still need my gallbladder out one day and he said we could easily do the tumor removal at the same time. So now I know that whatever comes first (needing the tumor out or my gallbladder out) will also make the other surgery happen at the same time. I kind of like the idea of a 2 for 1 surgery.

We also discussed things for my future. Pregnancy is no longer as risky for me as it was when the tumors were larger and I pretty much knew that already. But in the past my surgeon mentioned that fertility treatments and hormone replacement therapies would not be an option for me because of the tumors. But this time, he said since it would be such a small procedure to take the tumor out, if I needed either of those one day I could just have the surgery to take out the tumor and then I could do them. I was not expecting that and it actually was a relief to hear that. I hope that I don’t need fertility treatments, but I’m aware of how many of my friends have issues getting pregnant (and I’m not getting any younger) so it’s nice to know that is an option if I need it. And I know that many women really have relief from menopause from hormone replacement therapy so it’s good to know that could be something I could use if I need it.

Besides discussing those few things, there really wasn’t much else to talk about in my appointment. There is still no medical explanation for why the tumors shrank when they usually don’t. I think it’s my visualization work that is helping do this. But there is nothing that my surgeon can tell me that I need to do or keep doing so my plan is to not really change anything. Since we don’t know what is doing this, I don’t want to change something only to discover that is why things are working.

Since there is no plan to have surgery (at least not until I need my gallbladder out), my surgeon told me that if I didn’t want to do any more follow ups I didn’t have to. While that’s a nice idea, I don’t think I would be able to not be worried about the tumors. So the plan now is that I will do another MRI in a year and we will have another chat about what’s happening. Hopefully the tumors are smaller in a year, but even if they aren’t I know they are an ok size right now.

It was weird enough to not have to do any liver related stuff for 6 months after my surgery was cancelled, but to be able to go a year without anything is even crazier! But I have no reason to worry about anything and now I get to work on hoping to continue to be a medical miracle and hopefully my appointment in a year will go as easily as this one did!

SaveSave

Time For Another MRI (or Still Trying To Stay Calm)

After a busy weekend at the SAG-AFTRA Convention, I was ready to relax. But that wasn’t exactly what was in the plans for me. I had my liver MRI the next day and that’s not exactly the most relaxing thing for me to do. But at least it’s something I’m getting used to. I’ve had several liver MRIs by now and I know what it’s like. And even though it has been 6 months since my last one, I knew what I was in for.

This MRI was to check the tumor sizes. I have an appointment with my liver surgeon on Monday next week to discuss what the plan is going to be. But in order to do that, we need to know what is happening in my liver. So even though this was probably the most routine of my liver MRIs, it was also the most stressful for me. My first MRI was when we still thought I had a cyst and I didn’t know enough to be stresses. My second one was to determine what type of tumor I had and I knew it didn’t make too much of a difference what type it was. My third one was right before I was supposed to have surgery and was just a size check (I assumed that surgery was going to happen so I didn’t think too much about the size). But this one is to see what is happening so we can create a plan.

I tried not to stress too much about things because I cannot control if my tumors shrink or grow. Whatever happens is going to happen and I can’t worry too much. But at the same time, because I have no clue what is going on it is stressful. I want the tumors to keep shrinking because I really don’t want surgery. But I also know that if I do need surgery eventually that it will be the right thing for me.

So going in for this MRI was a mix of stress and exhaustion. I joked to friends that maybe I’d actually sleep in the MRI machine. That really can’t happen because there are audio cues I have to listen to about holding my breath at certain times, but I was hopeful that at least being tired would help keep me a bit relaxed. When I got to the hospital, they were running almost 2 hours behind so I spent a lot of time in the waiting room reading a book. But they ended up bringing me back early to get ready before the MRI machine was ready.

One part of getting ready was getting the IV started. They wanted to do this with me sitting on a chair and I was terrified. While I haven’t really fainted lately with needles or blood work, I was worried that the IV would make me pass out for a bit and didn’t want to fall. We ended up doing it with me sitting on a bench and leaning against the wall and I am happy to say that I didn’t faint with the IV! And then I found out that the new rules for the MRI machine meant that I couldn’t wear my own clothes and had to get gowned up. So I got changed and waited for the machine to be ready for me.

There was still more waiting once I was ready so I tried to just read my book and not think about the MRI. I was still a bit distracted and worried, but at least the reading gave me something to focus on a little more than the MRI. And once they were ready for me, I got on the table and they were able to get me positioned and strapped down (yes, you get strapped down for liver MRIs) quickly.

The MRI was only about 20 minutes since it was only a size check. I tried to count in my head during each scan and not think about what was happening or what they might be seeing. I still don’t really like MRIs and whenever the machine moved I got a bit panicky. But I stayed calm because I knew I needed to hold my breath several times and it’s not easy to do that when you are panicky.

When the contrast went into my IV, it felt as weird as it always has in the past. I hate that feeling and it did make me feel a bit faint, but I kept it together. And after the contrast went in, there is a 4 minute gap before the next scan so they were able to take my IV out so I could finish the MRI without the IV in my arm. That was nice and I’m grateful that they do that for me. And after those last few scans, it was all done and I was released from the table and was able to get changed and on with my day.

But I wasn’t done just yet. Because things were running so far behind and you have to pay to park at the hospital I go to, I decided that I was going to take advantage of something they were offering. If you got a flu shot, they gave you parking validation to cover the cost of parking that day. My parking was going to be about $20, so I figured this would be the perfect time to get my flu shot and to ¬†not have to pay a lot for parking. I got it, didn’t pass out, and got free parking. Totally a win (except that my arm is still a bit sore).

I have my meeting with my surgeon on Monday, but I already got an email from him. I don’t have all the details, but I do know that my biggest tumor has gotten a bit smaller! When it was discovered a year ago, it was 10cm. When we did the MRI in April it was about 4cm. And in the MRI this week it was about 3cm. I don’t know about the other tumor or if the 3rd one is still not able to be seen, but this is big news! I’m assuming this means that I still won’t be having surgery, but I don’t really know much more than the size just yet. But I’ll be updating you all when I know more!

What Will Be Sobriety (or A Friend Making Me Think About What I Want)

I was in the car recently with a friend of mine. This friend and I can have some pretty serious and deep conversations and we are pretty honest with each other. While in the car, we started talking about books which led into me talking about how I read 10 pages of a recovery based book every day. And that discussion led into talking about my eating disorder.

We talked about how I feel pretty certain that this is something that I was born with because I remember episodes from when I was a toddler. I doubt it is learned behavior when it starts that young. And we talked about the progress that I’ve been making and trying to make to get myself into recovery. And then we got into a pretty interesting discussion about recovery means.

I’ve said in the past that having an eating disorder/food addiction is so different from any other addiction. This is something that you will have to confront multiple times a day for the rest of your life. When you are an alcoholic, you can go the rest of your life without alcohol. But you cannot survive without food. And I know I’ve had some feelings of almost jealously over friends who have recovered from other addictions because they can just avoid whatever they were addicted to. It seems so much easier than what I’m going through (although I know that it’s not the case).

When I attended the OA meeting with my friend, they talked about the idea of sobriety. Sobriety is a personal thing for anyone, but in OA it becomes even more personal since everyone has their own idea of sobriety. Obviously, you can’t be sober from food. So you have to pick the things around food that you want to avoid and doing that creates your sobriety. For some of my friends, that has meant no eating after a certain time, not eating a certain food, or only eating when it is on a plate and not out of a container.

When I was telling my friend about that idea, he asked me what sobriety/recovery would mean for me. And honestly, I don’t know. I know what I’d like to have my relationship with food be like but many of the things I want are not realistic. For example, I’d love to never have a binge or overeating episode again and to always be in the right calorie range. But everyone has a time every so often when they overeat. When you go out to a restaurant you can easily overeat.

But maybe I can change how I view those episodes. If I don’t let them bring me down and just view them as a normal part of life and can move on, that could be good. I don’t want them to affect me the way that they do now and if that happens maybe it could become a rare occasion instead of something that sets me off.

Beyond the idea of never having a binge episode again, I’ve never really thought too much about what sobriety would mean for me. That’s all I’ve wanted. But because of my conversation with my friend I did start thinking about habits I have or had and what I can change. And one of the biggest ones that I thought of was how I have not ordered delivery food in over a year and a half. Well, technically occasionally I order Chipotle from Postmates, but I don’t consider that delivery food as I can order exactly what I would have gotten if I went to get it myself (unlike when you order Chinese food or pizza and have to order more than what you know you can eat).

For a long time, I thought I’d never be able to be delivery food free and I have managed to do it much longer than I ever have as an adult. And I don’t really even think of getting delivery food when I’m hungry and don’t know what I want to eat. It’s nice having that out of my head and not an issue any more. So in some way, I think that since I’m able to get over delivery food (which felt like it could never happen) that I could also get over binge episodes. But at the same time I don’t want to put that pressure on myself.

I still really don’t know what my version of sobriety means to me. But realizing that I don’t know this has made me understand that I can’t get into recovery until I really figure this out. I need to sit down, set some goals, and make some more concrete plans. Even though I have been working on this, having this idea in mind is an entirely different game and I think it can only benefit me by working on it.

Back To Focusing On Health (or Back To Back Doctor Appointments)

In some ways, it seems like I took the summer off from my health. The last big doctor appointment I had been not really an appointment at all but my MRI for my liver back in April. I never saw my liver surgeon after the MRI, we just had a phone call that went over most things plus some follow-up emails with some blood work instructions. And I did get my eyes checked this summer, but that was something I had been putting off and wasn’t that big of a deal.

But now, it seems like doctor appointments are coming quickly for me. Some of them have been normal things. I had an appointment with a dermatologist recently and will be going back for a follow-up in a week. That’s something I pretty much do every year. And yesterday was my annual appointment with my OB/GYN, which is another pretty normal appointment. Although it does seem like I’ve seen her a lot lately since I had my IUD appointment and follow-up for that not too long ago. Again, seeing my doctor every year for my annual appointment is very routine for me.

And I’m assuming I’ll be going in for a mammogram again this year, which isn’t the most fun thing but I know I need to do it. It’s funny how a year ago I was so stressed about having a breast MRI because I hate IVs and don’t love MRIs. But since that MRI, I’ve had so many with IVs so now that seems like the easier option. But it’s much more expensive and not necessary for me to do every year. I don’t know how often I’ll be alternating the mammograms with the MRIs, but that’s something that will be worked out for me by my doctor and a geneticist that my doctor consults with.

But even though it seems like all the routine doctor appointments are coming at me quickly, I also have to add in my liver stuff too. I will be doing my next liver MRI in the next month or so and then I’ll have the follow-up that goes along with that. Obviously, my hope is that the tumors have continued to shrink so that I can just keep doing what I’m doing and hopefully I’ll just have to do another follow-up MRI in 6 months. If they keep shrinking or disappear completely, there’s a chance I’ll still have to do semi-annual or annual MRIs, but that’s not that bad. I could deal with MRIs every month if that meant I didn’t need to have surgery.

But of course, there is always the worry that the tumors have grown or stayed the same. If they are the same, I’m in a weird spot because I still could benefit from surgery but I could also wait longer to see if they shrink again. To me, having them stay the same is the worst case because there’s no clear answer on what I should do. And if the tumors have grown, I need to have surgery and that’s that. I don’t want surgery, but I also don’t want tumors in me that are growing because that can turn life threatening.

I’ve been doing my tumor visualization every day and I haven’t really changed much in my routine since I found out my tumors have shrunk. So I’m really hopeful that the tumors have shrunk. But I’m back to feeling a bit disconnected to my body since there is no way for me to know what’s happening until I have the MRI. I’m not going to stress about it because there is nothing I can do beyond what I’m doing. And if my MRI ends up being in October, I don’t want to spend all of September stressed about it.

It’s interesting how the timing of things worked out where it was pretty much a summer off of medical stuff. Considering how much medical craziness I’ve had lately, it was nice to have a break so I could focus more on my life and not on the what ifs with my body. But it’s time to buckle down and get back to making sure that I’m doing everything I can for my health and to make sure that I’m on top of all the things I need to concern myself about.

My Eyes Had A Miracle Too (or I Wish I Knew What I Was Doing Right)

I had a doctor appointment to get my eyes checked this week. Originally, I had no plan of blogging about this. Eye appointments for me are pretty uneventful.

I’ve worn glasses or contacts my entire life. I think my first pair of glasses were when I was 3 or 4. I am pretty nearsighted (so I can only see things clearly that are close to my face) with a slight astigmatism. Nothing too fancy about my eyes other than my vision is pretty horrible and I have a strong correction in my contacts and glasses.

Honestly, the most exciting thing that happened regarding my vision in the recent past was when I broke my glasses. And even that story is pretty low-key. So when I knew I had my eye appointment this week I figured I’d go in, have them tell me everything this the same, and get some more contacts. I had been told that the brand of contacts I wear might have been discontinued, so that was the only thing that seemed like it might be interesting. Getting fitted for new contacts can be a pain and finding some that I like can take time. And the ones I have no are not tinted (I used to wear colored contacts) but have a slight tint to them so it doesn’t affect my eye color but allows me to find them if I drop them.

When I got to my appointment, everything started off pretty normally. They took my blood pressure (which was a bit higher than normal like it always is before a doctor appointment), the nurse took me back where I had to read the letters from the projection with my contact lenses in, and then I had to wait for the doctor. Once the doctor came in, she testing one eye and then the other before having my take out my contacts.

Next was the glaucoma test where they puff air into your eyes and then back to the exam room where the doctor tested different prescription strengths to see what made the letters on the wall look better. I always feel like it’s a trick when they ask you if version one or two look better. Sometimes they look equally as good and bad. And I don’t want to feel like I’m saying the wrong thing so I do take my time. But I know that there isn’t a right or wrong answer, just what I honestly see. And I tried to be honest, even when that means saying they both look good and bad.

When all the vision tests were done, I was expecting her to say that everything was still the same. That’s what I want because I’m hoping that in the future I can get laser eye surgery so I don’t need contacts forever. And you must have the same vision prescription for a bit of time before you can have laser eye surgery. But to my surprise, my vision is actually better now than it was the last time it was checked!

Both eyes are about 10% better now than they were before. And my old prescription is one that I’ve had for about a decade! I was used to my vision getting worse every year growing up, but it has been stable for so long. So to have my vision improve is not something I ever would have guessed.

My first question to the doctor was to find out what could have done this. I wanted to make sure that whatever I did is something that I keep doing. Maybe I can keep improving my vision! But she said that there isn’t really a reason that it could be getting better. She asked if I was using a computer less, but I’m actually using a computer more now. That was the only thing she could think of that would potentially help my vision.

I did talk to my mom after my appointment and she mentioned that maybe going off hormonal birth control improved my vision. Hormones can do funny things to you and I wouldn’t have really noticed my vision getting worse when I started the pill because I was used to my vision being worse every year at that time. I’ve done some research and that can sometimes be the case, but that seems to be a rare thing to have happen. But I’ve been getting all the rare and one-in-a-million medical scenarios lately so many this is just another one!

Because my vision is so significantly different, I had to get new contacts plus change my glasses prescription. They didn’t have any samples of the contacts for me to take home with me, so until the new ones get delivered I’ll be wearing the ones that overcorrect my eyes. It doesn’t feel too blurry, but after seeing how much clearer everything was with a weaker prescription I can’t wait until the new contacts get here.

And while I usually don’t update my glasses that often, because of how drastic this change is it was recommended that I change my glasses too. The day of the appointment, you get a discount on glasses. You get a better discount if you get new frames and lenses compared to just lenses, but even with the bigger discount it was still $20 to get the new frames. So I just decided to update my lenses. I placed an order for those and when they come in I just bring my glasses in and they will change out the lenses for me that day. I’m glad I don’t have to leave my glasses there since I do use them at nighttime.

With all the bad luck I had with medical stuff last year, it’s really nice that the good luck is continuing this year. I never thought my eyes could get better, but now that I know it’s possible I want to see if there is something I can do to try to help make this continue. I know that I will not be able to fully correct my vision on my own, but it’s always a good thing to have my vision better than it was before.

Another Therapy Check In (or Someone Sees Progress)

I only see my therapist every six months now, and my visit with him was this week. So much has happened in six months and I was trying to think about what I wanted to talk about with him before I went in for my appointment. I know that my time there is limited and I wanted to maximize my time. I knew that not everything was relevant to talk about, but I still took some mental notes on what I wanted to make sure we go over.

A lot of my appointments with my therapist are pretty basic check ins. He wants to make sure that I’m still making progress and doing ok on my medication. But there isn’t a lot for me to work through in therapy anymore. Coming to the realization that I just have bad luck genetically with getting an eating disorder has helped me a lot. I know that I didn’t do anything (or have something happen to me) that caused this and I just have to work on getting through it and figuring out good recovery tools for myself. Sometimes knowing that is tough, but it does make my therapy appointments easier.

The first update we discussed in my appointment was me not having the liver surgery. Even though my therapist has access to all my medical records, I knew he wouldn’t have reviewed everything that has happened lately. He was very excited about me not needing surgery and was asking what might have caused the tumors to shrink. There is really no medical explanation for it, but he agrees that my tumor visualization might have been a big part of it. Our minds are really powerful and can do miracles. He agrees that I should keep that up and see what happens when I have my next MRI in a few months.

We also talked about how I was struggling a bit with the idea of preparing for surgery for so long and then that just stopping. I told him how the unknowns unnerve me a bit and that I was finding it tough to reconnect to myself. I still struggle with a bit of disconnection with my body and I don’t know if that will ever be resolved because even if the tumors go away they could come back another time. My therapist understood why this is so tough for me, but he was encouraging me to work really hard to get through it.

He was talking about how we cannot set expectations for life and then fall apart when they don’t happen. Things can change and we have to be ok with going with the flow. And when something doesn’t go our way, we have to let go of the idea of what we thought would be and start thinking about what is. Obviously, those things are easier said than done, but I do need to work a lot on that idea. And to have him tell me that it’s ok that I struggle with this idea made me feel better because sometimes I wonder if it’s just me who seems so rigid in these ideas.

Even though there are things that I’m struggling with, the main things that my therapist was saying to me were all positive things. He said that he can really sense a change in me and sees that I’m so much happier. He can see that I’m figuring things out and I am making progress. I don’t always see the progress, but I know it’s easier for someone on the outside to see it. He knows that even if my eating disorder isn’t getting better right now, I’m building the skills and gaining the tools I’ll need to be in recovery. So eventually it will all connect and come together and I’ll be better equipped to be in recovery.

We also started to talk about the future and when I will be going off of Vyvanse. I cannot be on this medication my entire life (nor do I want to be on it forever). I am not in a place to be off of it just yet, and in fact we actually made a small increase to my dosage. But we went over how this is just a temporary tool and how I need to be preparing myself to eventually not have the crutch of the medication to help me through the day. It’s a bit scary to think about going off of it because when I don’t take it for a random day off, I notice that things aren’t as great. But to start working through an end plan is something that I know I need to do.

The biggest takeaway I had from this appointment was that I am making progress and improving even if I can’t see it yet. Getting to see myself through someone else’s eyes (and someone who has a critical viewpoint) is pretty powerful and really helped me feel more settled in what has been happening. My therapist wants me to focus on being more in the moment and accepting things as they come. If I am going to have a binge episode, he wants me to do it because I chose to do so and not because my eating disorder is putting me on auto-pilot. I’m getting much closer to that point so it’s good to know that that’s actually progress.

I won’t have my next appointment until December (6 months from now) unless something crazy happens and I feel like I need to be seen sooner. But I’m feeling much better about where things are now after this appointment. Some of the doubts I’ve been having have been reassured as good things and I’ve been given homework to try to work on over these next 6 months. Hopefully when I go back to see him again, he will continue to see progress and be happy with the steps I’ve made toward recovery.

Finding Some More Control (or How Medical Stuff and Dating Stuff Are Alike)

So many times in my life, things feel out of control. Even when it seems like it’s in control, there is always something that throws me off. Most of the time, it’s my food that is out of control and trying to control it seems to make it worse. And recently, it’s been my medical stuff that feels out of control and I can’t seem to get a handle on it. Even when I think that I know the plan, it seems like things are changing and I have to keep planning again.

One of the reasons many people have eating disorders is to find an element of control. I used to think this was crazy because I feel so out of control within my eating disorder. But it does make more sense the more I’ve researched eating disorders and have thought more about my situation. Eating what I want is an element of control. What is so horrible for me is having that control feel so out of control at the same time. I don’t like that I am subconsciously using food to control my life and I’m really trying to take a step back and think more than react.

I don’t find that my eating disorder is necessarily worse during times of feeling out of control, but I’m going to try to start tracking that now. Maybe I don’t realize that I am feeling that way when I have my binges because I am using food to mask it. It’s been interesting to reevaluate this lately because I’ve felt like I’ve known so much about my eating disorder in the past year or so. But I guess there is always more to rediscover and perhaps having this realization is a sign that recovery is on the way for me.

There’s not a ton I can do about feeling out of control with my medical stuff. There’s nothing I can do until my next MRI to see what is going on with my tumors. I’m still doing my daily visualizations and that’s pretty much all I can do. Whatever is going on inside my body is happening and I will have to wait a few months to see the results. It’s frustrating to not be able to know what’s happening inside of my body and it does make me feel a bit disconnected. But I am just trying to remind myself that I had no clue that the tumors were shrinking so maybe they are shrinking again now.

I am taking the few steps I can take with my medical stuff to feel more in control. I’m scheduling other doctor appointments that I know that I’ve needed to schedule but was putting off because I thought I’d be having surgery. I need to have some of the regular maintenance appointments like getting my eyes checked, seeing my dermatologist, and going for my annual exam. I can schedule all those and that at least gives me a bit of a sense of control in my life.

The other thing that is feeling so out of control is my dating life. I’m sure that everyone who is dating feels this way, but it’s been very different lately for me. I don’t know why all of a sudden I have more luck online and am finding more guys to meet. I don’t know what changed in my life, but I’m not complaining. But with dating more, there are more unknowns for me. I’ve been ghosted and stood up quite a bit lately. I’m not too upset but it does make me wonder why it’s happening to me. I know it happens to everyone, but of course my brain wants to tell me that it’s just me. And when I do go out with someone who I would like to see again, it can be frustrating to find out if I will see them again. I’m always on top of responding to texts and phone calls, but I know that everyone else isn’t like that. Again, I’m trying to not take it personally.

It’s so weird how my medical uncertainty and dating uncertainty seem to be so similar. But I guess when anything is out of control it can feel the same. And these are the two main things in my life that seem to be out of control right now and are taking up my thoughts quite a bit. And of course when I try to not think about them I only think about them more. I can only hope that even though these things are totally out of my control, I can go with the flow a bit more and enjoy whatever journey comes my way.

Time For Dental Work (or Maybe My MRIs Prepared Me For This)

When I went to the dentist recently, I found out that one of my fillings needs to be replaced. The filling has been in there for a long time and I knew that fillings (or crowns) aren’t forever and do need to be replaced over a lifetime. I’ve been pretty lucky the past few years. My teeth have always been a bit bad (it’s genetic) but I haven’t needed major work in a while. I’ve had lots of work done, but I’ve had a nice break and I guess that streak is over now.

As soon as I found out I needed work, my panic started. Part of that panic is because this time while they are hoping that this is just going to be a filling replacement there is a chance I will need a crown. It’s one of those situations where they weren’t going to know until they started the work and I had having unknowns in my life. But there was no way to find out what it was going to be until I had my next appointment so I tried to just deal with the sense of panic I had.

Fortunately for me, the panic wasn’t too horrible between my cleaning and the appointment to have the work done. I was panicking the day of my cleaning when I found out that there was work I needed done because that’s not what I was expecting. But I didn’t really feel panic again until the day before my appointment (and then it got pretty bad the day of my appointment). I know how bad things have been for me in the past and I just didn’t want that to happen again.

But I was trying to think about all the changes that have happened in my life since my last appointment for major dental work. I’ve been meditating for over a year now and that has been helping me stay calm in the moment (although it doesn’t seem to help the panic from building up before). That has seemed to help before with my MRIs.

And speaking of MRIs, I’ve had so many MRIs since my last dentist appointment and each of those have involved 2 needles (the blood work and then the IV for the contrast). I have been hoping that with all of those needles over the past few months that maybe my issues with needles has become less of a thing. I know that I’ve still been having blackout moments with needles in my recent blood work and IVs, but it has gotten significantly better. And since my incidents at the dentist were usually less than what I dealt with at the hospital, I was hopeful that this appointment and the needle would go a lot smoother than I feared it would go.

The day of my appointment was pretty tough. My appointment was right after I was done with work and I spent my entire shift in a panic and feeling sick. It was a sense of impending doom that I used to feel before a regular cleaning. I hadn’t had to deal with this feeling for a while, so it threw me off a bit. Fortunately, right now is the slower season for my day job so I didn’t have to help too many customers. I was still able to work, but I know that I wasn’t at my best while worrying about my dental appointment.

Once I got to the dentist, the panic was feeling pretty unbearable. I didn’t take my panic meds since they don’t really work that well when I take my eating disorder medication. And to me, right now it’s more important to manage my eating disorder than it was to stop some temporary panic. And I knew that as soon as the work started, the panic was going to go away and I would be fine.

The staff there tried to keep me distracted and calm while we waited for the dentist. They were asking me about what was happening in my life (I was telling them some of my crazy online dating stories), but I was still just anxious that the shots were coming and I wanted to get it over with. Everything in the dentist office looks so scary even though I know most things there aren’t anything that could hurt me.

Once the dentist came back, we got to the shots quickly. He does numb my cheek up with some gel before the shots so it does help a lot. And with the first shot I didn’t totally black out. But with the second shot (which I couldn’t actually feel because I was already pretty numb), I did black out like I have with my recent IVs. But it’s still a huge improvement over the last time I had to get shots at the dentist.

The last few times I’ve needed shots like this, it was for major dental work. Those appointments last quite a while and you have the option to watch a movie while they work. I should have known this would be easy when I wasn’t given the option to watch a movie but instead just had to wear protective eyewear. And this appointment ended up taking no time at all!

The drilling of the part of the old filling that had to come out took less than 5 minutes. Then they filled it back it and had to use the tools to dry it. Then it was only some checking of my bite and before I knew it I was sitting back up and rinsing my mouth out with mouthwash. The entire procedure (not counting waiting to get numb) was under 10 minutes.

I felt so silly when it was done for freaking out as much as I did. Then again, I had no clue it was going to be this simple since it seems like whenever I have more than just a cleaning it is pretty extreme. And I’m lucky that I have a dentist that is super on top of things since this could have been much worse if we didn’t catch it as soon as we did.

I still think I’m going to always have my panic issues at the dentist, but I’m glad that they are getting better. I’ve proven to myself for a while that I am doing much better with the cleanings. Now I’ve proven to myself that I can do ok with shots and bigger dental work. Hopefully I won’t need more major dental work for a while, but I know that there will be more in the future and I feel more prepared for it after this successful appointment.

Explaining Myself (or It’s Not Disappointment)

It’s been over a month since I was supposed to have surgery. By now, pretty much everyone in my life knows that my surgery was cancelled and the situation around that. I tried to email and text most of my friends as soon as I knew and many other people found out¬†though here or social media. But every so often, I’ll run into someone who had no clue that I didn’t have surgery. Sometimes they are surprised to see that I’m looking so good or out and about and sometimes they are just assuming everything went fine and I forgot to tell them about it.

Each time I run into someone who didn’t know (or I meet someone new who is finding out about the situation), I feel like I have to explain the entire thing. I have tumors, they aren’t supposed to shrink, somehow they did shrink, we don’t know how it happened because I didn’t change anything in my life, I don’t know what’s next for me. And so often people tell me that I sound disappointed that I didn’t have surgery and I should be grateful that somehow I beat the odds.

It’s not easy to explain that I am grateful. I didn’t want surgery. I was stressing about surgery from the day I found out I would be having it. But at the same time, I spent 6 months knowing that I have tumors inside of my body and was excited to get them out of me. Now I only have 2 tumors so at least there aren’t 3, but I still have to be ok with the idea that there are 2 tumors just hanging out in my liver.

But even though I’m grateful, I’m still a bit skittish about this all. I am supposed to have my next MRI in about 4 months to see what’s going on (as long as there’s nothing that causes me to need a MRI sooner). Once that happens, I’ll meet with the surgery to make a new game plan. We have already discussed a bit of a plan where if the tumors are bigger I’m having surgery and if they are smaller we are going to keep waiting. But if they stay the same size as they are now, it’s a bit of a gray area.

My tumors are small enough and in a position in my liver that they aren’t as risky for me to keep as they were before. But there are still potential risks for me later in life if they stay in there. So there is this great unknown of what the next step will be or if I will be having surgery in the future. One thing I love about my OB/GYN and my liver surgeon is that neither of them are afraid to tell me that they don’t know the answer to something. But it’s a bit frustrating when neither of them know what the long-term plan for me will be.

And if I do sound disappointed about any of this, it’s because I had a plan in place. I was going to have surgery, the tumors were going to come out, and that was going to be that. Now I’m in another situation where I don’t know what my future will be and I don’t like that. I don’t know if in the fall we will have to plan for surgery and then I’ll need to do a lot of the same prep work that I had just done. Or maybe I’ll continue to be a miracle, the tumors will be smaller, and they will be small enough that there are pretty much no risks for me anymore.

The other weird feeling I’ve been dealing with is wondering at times if I totally imagined this all. Maybe I needed the surgery to make it feel real? I’ve had this feeling with some pretty intense news in the past. When I found out my mom had cancer or my grandpa died, I was almost wondering if I dreamt it and it wasn’t real. I was almost scared to talk to a friend to get support because I wondered if somehow I’d find out that it wasn’t true and would feel silly. And that’s a bit of what I’ve been feeling about my tumors. I made a huge deal about them and then it became almost nothing. I feel like I shouldn’t have made such a fuss about them (even though there was no way for me to know they would shrink). But nobody has been making me feel bad about things, only myself.

I know that most of you reading this understand my feelings. I’ve had several friends who have dealt with medical issues totally get what I’m talking about. It’s a weird feeling to want to be grateful but be worried at the same time. And hopefully as time goes by this feeling will be less intense and less often. It’s gotten so much better over the past month and hopefully the next month will make it less of an issue. And eventually, this will maybe just be a weird story that I can share from time to time without having any feelings attached to it.

Feeling Normal Again (or Happy To Be Back In Control)

My last few posts have been about getting back to my usual self. While I haven’t been writing about that too much, I think this is something that I’ve been struggling with for a while. It’s easiest to say that I’ve been struggling since I found out about the tumors because it seems like I’m splitting my life into before tumors and after tumors.

As soon as I knew about the tumors, my life got crazy. There was the scheduling of tests and planning for surgery, but that wasn’t what really got to me as much. It was the disconnect I felt with my body and life because I couldn’t understand how I could have massive tumors and not know about them. I felt out of control and not in charge of my own body and life. It’s such an odd feeling and I wasn’t able to express myself properly.

Control is a weird thing for me. Eating disorders are usually all about control. I question if mine is a control thing since I’ve likely had my eating disorder since I was a kid, but maybe it has a little to do with that. I control what I eat, how much I eat, and when I eat. While I do feel like I’m in a trace while I’m having a binge episode, maybe there is an element of control in that. So to feel out of control isn’t the best thing for my eating disorder.

And when I found out the surgery was cancelled, my first feeling wasn’t one of relief but one of feeling out of control even more. Now, not only did I have tumors and not know about them but they were able to shrink and there’s no way to know why and I can’t control the shrinking. Also, I didn’t know my tumors were shrinking so I was not able to control anything about that.

I really do feel like my soul and body have healed a lot in the past few days. I don’t know what triggered it, but getting back to my regular life is probably a lot of it. I’m a creature of habit and routine and being able to get back into my routine from pre-tumor time is nice. I haven’t had that since October (when we found out there was something wrong with me) and now that I’ve had a few days in my old routine it’s been very reassuring for me. There are still tumor related things in my life (no birth control pill, needing more medical tests, the possibility of surgery in the future), but this is the closest I’ve been to my old routine in a long time.

I’ve been having such a feeling of calm while doing things that I’m used to doing. Being back to a normal work schedule (and not having to work extra hours to bank them for time off) is so nice. I have free time 2 work mornings a week so I can do errands or just take my time getting ready for the day. I’m adding fun things back into my calendar and not stressing about how I’m spending my time after work (before, I was worried if I should be doing something to prepare for surgery instead of having fun). I’m able to get back to auditioning when opportunities come up and not worry about when the shoot dates are. And I can put the idea of my tumors in the back of my mind when I can.

I’m sure that the tumors are going to be something I worry about the rest of my life. Even if at my next MRI they appear to be completely gone, I will still be at risk for them to come back with any hormonal changes I will have in my life (pregnancy and menopause are the two biggest ones I’ll have to worry about). And if I am pregnant in the future, I will have to be monitored a bit more than most women. But I’m lucky that I have an awesome OB/GYN who has been doing so much research on the tumors and how to take care of patients with them. So I think I’m going to be fine as long as I have her as my doctor.

It’s weird how nice it is to feel like I have control again in my life, but I’m glad that I figured out what was making me feel off and how I could fix it. I’ve been wanting to feel normal again for so long and I guess it just took some self-discovery to figure out what it would take to make that happen.