Today was supposed to be my surgery day. I had planned out blog posts to write while I was going to be in the hospital and how to document my recovery the best way possible. I think I’m still in a bit of shock that the surgery was cancelled and that I’m not going to have to worry about all of that right now. There is still a chance I will be having surgery in the future, but unless something crazy happens soon it won’t be for at least another 6 months or so.
My entire family did so much planning to make sure that they would be able to help me as much as possible through surgery and recovery. While most of my family wasn’t going to be able to be in LA with me, my parents made plans to come to LA for a week to help me get through everything. My parents have come to LA in the past to take care of me after I’ve had surgeries, so I expected that they would do the same this time. But I’m still aware how lucky I am that my parents have the ability to come here to help me out when I need it.
Since the surgery was cancelled, a lot of things have changed but one thing hasn’t. My parents are still going to be in LA with me for the week. I don’t think my parents have ever spent a week with me in LA outside of taking care of me after a surgery, so this will be pretty cool. We are slowly filling our calendar with some fun things that we’ve been wanting to do so we can enjoy this weeklong hangout. I’m going to take a few days off of work since I banked so many hours so I can spend a lot of time with them. But I’ll also be working a little bit as well so I still have some hours saved if I need them in the future.
I think it will be pretty great getting to have this week with my parents here. Normally when they are in LA, they are only here for a day or so and we are pretty busy doing things. They haven’t really met any of my LA friends. But now, they will have a chance to meet all the people I hang out with (and blog about) while they are here. I think it will be pretty cool to get to have everyone meet each other. And my dad is going to join me for an Orangetheory workout too! He usually only does the Thanksgiving workouts, so this will be a nice bonus for him.
I will also be going to San Diego with my parents to visit my grandma. I won’t be in San Diego as long as originally planned (since I won’t be recovering with my parents and I want to work a bit), but I will get to spend a nice weekend with them. It will be much more relaxing this way than it would have been if I was in pain from surgery.
I just wanted to say thank you again to all of you who prayed for my tumors to shrink or put some awesome tumor shrinking thoughts out there. Since I shared the news that my surgery was cancelled, I got so many amazing messages on social media and emails telling me congratulations and how they were so happy for me. I’m so grateful that you all care about me and my health and that you were as excited about my news as I was!
While I won’t be blogging about surgery or recovery now, I’m glad I’ll have much more interesting things to share with you all in the coming weeks. I’m working on getting my social calendar filled up again since I was planning on taking time off. And so far, the things I think will be coming up are going to be so much fun and just a continuation of celebrating not needing surgery today!
Today I should be going to my pre-op appointments for my surgery. But that has been cancelled because my surgery was cancelled! This is totally not what I expected but it’s true! But I should probably explain a bit of what has happened over the past few days.
When I found out that my tumors were adenomas, I learned quite a bit about that type of tumor. One of the main things that I learned was that they are a 1 in 3 million side effect from hormonal birth control and the best way to stop them from growing more is to stop the hormonal birth control (or whatever hormonal treatment you are taking). But in almost all the case studies, it says that the tumors have to be surgically removed as they typically cannot shrink. And if they do shrink, it’s only a little bit.
One of the reasons I was waiting a few months to have surgery was to hopefully have the large tumor shrink a little bit. The smaller the tumor is, the easier the surgery will be. The large tumor was almost 10cm and in my head I wanted it to be under 8cm. I knew that would take a miracle, but I spent time every single day working on visualization and just trying to be as healthy as possible. But I also knew realistically that the chances of the tumors shrinking were really slim and that’s why I’ve been working so hard lately to get ready for surgery.
I had my MRI last week and I figured that I’d learn about what the tumor situation is like at my pre-op appointment. But on Tuesday afternoon, I got a phone call from my surgeon. Not only did my tumors shrink, they shrunk significantly!
My 10cm tumor is now about 4cm, one of my 3cm tumors is now about 1cm, and my other 3cm tumor is not able to be found anymore! This is seriously a miracle! My surgeon has never seen this happen with any of his cases before. There is no medical explanation for what happened so I’m just considering it a medical miracle! I know that there is some serious power behind positive thinking, but this is beyond what I ever imagined could happen!
While there are still issues that can happen with having the biggest tumor in me, it is no longer as serious as it was before. The size of the tumor and how it is situated in my liver now makes it something that I could live the rest of my life with. It would still make being pregnant in the future a bit risky, but nothing compared to what the risks would have been if it stayed the original size. And I still cannot use any hormonal treatments as long as the tumors are in me.
But since my life isn’t as threatened as it was before, the plan now is to cancel the surgery. My surgeon gave me the option to continue with it, but it is not his recommendation anymore. Instead, his recommendation is to do another MRI in the fall to see what’s happening if the tumors then. If they are bigger, I will have surgery. If they stay the same size, I will probably have surgery. But there is now the chance that maybe they will shrink even more and maybe disappear completely. This is not normal with these tumors, but nothing is ever normal with my medical situations.
I completely trust my surgeon’s judgement and he has been very open and honest with me about the risks to keep the tumors in and the risks of surgery. He has answered so many of my questions (and there have been so many questions!) and I never felt like he was getting annoyed with me. I’m very lucky to have a surgeon who has been so awesome and I’m glad that he told me honestly that he doesn’t recommend surgery for me right now. If he left it up to me, I probably would have been going back and forth on what I wanted to do.
I’m totally excited to not need to have surgery. This surgery would have been major surgery and there are always risks when you have any surgery. And this one would have had more risks than any other surgery I’ve had before because of potential blood loss and other complications. And I was not looking forward to recovering and not being able to do everything that I’m used to doing.
But at the same time, I do feel a bit weird that I’m not getting rid of these tumors. I’ve been focusing on how glad I will be to have them out of my body that the idea that they are staying is a bit odd. I’m sure that a lot of it is just shock right now and I still can’t believe that I am lucky enough to have my tumors shrink without medical intervention. Soon enough I bet I’ll just be happy that I didn’t have to disrupt my life with a major surgery and the idea of keeping the tumors in me won’t be as weird. I also feel like I was overreacting before with getting ready for surgery, but honestly there is no way we could have known this would happen to me. If my surgeon has never seen this happen before, why would I ever expect it to happen to me?
This is seriously a miracle and I just want to thank everyone who has sent positive and healing thoughts my way or who have kept me in their prayers. I don’t know how this happened to me, but I’m so grateful that for now I don’t need to have surgery next week. My parents will still be coming to town, but now we get to spend a couple of days having fun instead of them having to be here to take care of me while I’m recovering. They don’t come to LA that often and when they do it’s usually for a super short time. So I’m pretty excited to get to spend almost a week with them in LA!
If anything changes or if something doesn’t feel right, there might be a tumor update within the next few months. But if everything keeps going the way they have been going, I won’t have anything to blog about regarding my tumor until my next MRI in the fall. It’s crazy how quickly this chapter of my tumor journey is closing, but I guess since it started in such dramatic fashion that it’s fitting it is ending the same way!
I had what should be my last pre-surgery MRI this week. I needed this MRI so that we could see if any of my tumors have shrunk in the past few months. If they have shrunk, that will help me keep more of my liver during the surgery. It’s ok if they have to take some out since it does regenerate. But it would be nice to need less of my liver to regenerate because the tumors are smaller.
I previously had a monthly challenge to work on visualization to help my tumors shrink. I won’t know if this worked until I see my surgeon for my pre-op day, but I’m feeling happy with the work that I had done. I don’t feel like there is anything else I could have to help them shrink. And if they don’t shrink, that’s ok too because it wasn’t a guarantee they would get smaller after I stopped hormonal birth control. I’m prepared for anything when I see the MRI results.
Before a year ago, I had only had 1 MRI in the past and that was for my hip. But since then I’ve had 1 breast MRI and 2 liver MRIs before this most recent one. So this one was my 4th MRI in under a year. And all of those MRIs involve contrast which means I had to have an IV put in (which isn’t fun since I still don’t do well with needles). And while I’m not super claustrophobic, being inside the MRI tube isn’t fun and it can feel like the sides of the tube are closing in on me. I’m lucky because my head is toward the outside of the tube so I can tilt my head back and see a bit of the room behind me, but it can still feel very closed in.
For the MRI this week, I was feeling a bit stressed about it. Some of the stress was unnecessary (like feeling guilty that this was during work time but I had already banked the hours to cover it) but I also know that I’ve done well in past MRIs and just wanted to make sure that I would be the same this time. I’m always worried that for some reason things will be different this time (I’m like that with the dentist) and I just wanted to have a smooth MRI day.
Things started off rough with me getting there 4o minutes early because I had put it in my calendar at the wrong time, but I figured that is better than being late. And when I checked in, they let me know that they were running 30 minutes behind so I was worried I wouldn’t be home to start work when I told my manager I would be. But somehow, they ended up getting back on time quickly and I was brought back to the MRI area only 5 minutes after my appointment time.
I feel like a pro at MRIs now. I know not to wear things with metal on it so all I had to take off when I was going in was my sweatshirt and my shoes (the tech there was impressed that I wore a sports bra with no metal clasps and knew to do so). I got onto the table and the techs got everything set up with the various pillows to have me in the right position for the MRI. And then I got my IV in (I had warned them that I pass out but I came back very quickly and it wasn’t too bad) and got into the MRI tube.
Since this was my 3rd abdominal MRI, I knew that I would hear prompts to hold my breath at various times. The first time I had to do this, I wasn’t really prepared and since I was nervous it was tough for me to hold my breath when I needed to. This time, I focused on taking steady deep breaths when I didn’t have to worry about holding my breath. When I had to hold my breath, I tried to count in my head to distract myself. And I tried to zone out while the machine was going since it is so loud and can make it seem more claustrophobic for me somehow.
I have to say that this MRI was the easiest one that I’ve done. It does help that I knew what to prepare for, but I could have said that for my second liver MRI and that one still wasn’t as easy as this one was. When it was done, I was actually very surprised it was over. I thought that maybe we were only halfway through or something. But it had gone really easily and I never felt too panicky or anxious while in the MRI tube. The worst part was when the dye went in my IV, but it was not bad at all and more just a weird sensation in my arm.
I really wished I could have looked at the computer to look at my tumors. I know I couldn’t read it properly, but I am curious what things look like now. I did get a little glance at one image from my MRI where you could see the 2 smaller tumors. But since I’m more familiar with the big tumor, I can’t tell too much from looking at the image of the other ones.
In about a week, I meet with the surgeon to go over all of this and to do what should be the final pre-op step. I’m a bit anxious to hear what he will say, but I know whatever he says that things will be ok. I’m going to continue to focus on being calm and taking deep breaths since that worked so well for me in the MRI. I never expected that test to go as smoothly as it did so clearly this plan is working for me. Hopefully it works for me while in pre-op appointments, surgery, and recovery too!
I know I’ve posted a lot about my liver surgery lately (and I will be posting more about it over the next few weeks). I’m now 2 weeks away from surgery and there is so much that I’ve been trying to get done or need to do. I’m still trying to have a lot of fun, but surgery stuff is taking up a lot of my time.
I have the stuff I expected like various doctor appointments and tests. I’ve already done some blood work and today is my MRI. I’ve got my official pre-op appointment next week and that will consist of multiple doctor appointments at one time so I can meet with the surgeon, the anesthesia team, and possibly the inpatient team. I’ve also been working more than normal because I’m banking hours at work. I can’t afford to take time off (I don’t get paid time off at any of my jobs), so I’ve been working extra hours unpaid to cover the time I won’t be working coming up. I’ve got all the hours banked that I think I’ll need, but that has taken a lot of time in the mornings that I usually do other work.
I’ve also been trying to get things ready to be in the hospital for a while. I’ve been getting ideas of things to have with me from friends who have been in the hospital for a while before. I’m hoping the hospital has decent wifi because I have a feeling I’ll be watching a lot of Netflix or Hulu there (also, if I feel up for it then I could even work from the hospital). I’ve also gotten some dresses that are easy to put on and are cheap to wear after surgery. There’s a chance that things with waistbands won’t work for a little bit for me so dresses seemed to be the easiest solution. I also know I might have surgical drains when I go home, so I found these awesome sticky pockets to put in my clothes if I need them.
I still have a pretty decent list of things I still need to get for my time in the hospital and while I’m recovering with my parents. Some things I expected to be easy, like getting some slippers to have with me, but somehow they haven’t been easy to find in stores. I’m guessing I’ll be doing a big Amazon order soon. I might wait until after my pre-op appointment so I know what else I might need. Thank goodness for fast shipping with Amazon Prime! I’ve been told I might get a list when I go in for the pre-op appointment, but if any of you have been through any type of abdominal surgery and have suggestions for things I should have please let me know!
And then of course there is getting my house ready for this all. I will be doing some big cleaning because I don’t want things cluttered when my parents are here and I don’t want things to feel dirty when I am back home. After I’m out of the hospital, I will be recovering with my parents so they can help me out with things or buy things I forgot about. But I still want to try to get as much done now as I can. One thing I was trying to do but have been slacking on is getting some food made and frozen so it’s easy for me to eat at home even if I’m tired. I don’t want to go back to ordering delivery food (plus I’m guessing I’ll be on a restricted diet so I want to have food that I made and know what’s in it).
I know it sounds like I’ve got a handle on things and seem really prepared, but I don’t feel that way at all. There are still so many unknowns with this entire thing and a lot of the answers won’t be things I can really know in advance. I have no idea how my body will react to this all and I can’t prepare for what I don’t know will happen. It has been giving me a pretty steady level of anxiety lately, but nothing as bad as a regular panic attack. And I have had a few minor attacks but fortunately my friends and family have been able to calm me down.
When things were 2 months away or even 1 month away it seemed like I had unlimited time to get ready and that it wasn’t going to be soon. I think it really hit me when I had 3 weeks left how soon this was all going to be. I’m very lucky that I’ve had time to prep for this and it wasn’t an emergency surgery where nothing could be done ahead of time. But sometimes having prep time is the worst because I can analyze things to death. I’m trying to stay as calm as I can be which is why I set my monthly challenge to be being calm and taking more deep breaths.
Over the next 2 weeks, there will be posts about preparing for surgery but I will also have some fun posts in there too. And I am hoping to keep this blog going regularly while I’m recovering, but of course I don’t know how I’ll feel. But I do promise that if there are some days I can’t blog I will get back to writing regularly. I’ve been doing this every weekday for so long, and the idea that I might miss a day does stress me out a bit. But I hope that you all will stick with me while I get through all of this and hopefully I can find some fun things to write about while I’m recovering!
After the incident my oven breaking, things got a little weird for me. The routine that I had been in for a while was stopped because I couldn’t do my meal planning the same way. I had been given multiple dates that my oven was supposed to be fixed where the repair people never showed up, so I stopped trying to plan things out. It just got frustrating getting food thinking I’d be able to make it, waiting hours for the repair guy to show up, and then having to go to the store to get something else to eat because I couldn’t cook what I had just bought.
Finally this week, after waiting more than a week to get my oven fixed someone came by. I’m grateful to have my oven back, but I’m a little annoyed that it took over a week for someone to come by for a repair that was completed in less than 10 minutes (I’m serious). I finally started to try to eat the foods that I couldn’t make because they needed to be cooked in the oven to get things back on track. I had been living off of a lot of microwaved meals while my oven was broken and I know they aren’t always the best choice for me. There are worst choices like getting delivery food, but the best stuff is usually things that I’m making in my oven.
When my meal planning stops like it did this time, it’s a bit tough for me to get back on pace. The way the meal planning was successful for me last month was to do all the planning and shopping one day and then just work through that food doing the week. And with the timing of the oven issue, it disrupted 2 meal planning weeks with last week and this week not being the way I wanted. And I’m struggling a bit to get back to it now.
I don’t want to sound like I’m putting things off until the weekend (that sounds like people who put off dieting or exercise until Monday or the next month). But I haven’t been able to take the time out to plan like I normally do or go to the store to get what I need. Fortunately, this week is almost done and I should be able to do my normal meal planning on Sunday like I like to.
With my food being thrown off, a few other things in my life got weird too. With work, I’m so used to having my lunch planned out in advance so it was easy to grab what I was going to eat in the middle of working (funny how it only took a month for this to feel normal to me). With the lack of meal planning, I was spending too much time thinking about food. And with thinking about food a lot, there were some not so great food days.
I’ve said this so many times before, but each time I have a setback like this I have to be grateful that I recognize it as a setback sooner rather than later. I can focus on getting things back to how they have been instead of waiting until I’m very uncomfortable or have gained back a ton of weight to do so. I can easily remember what I was doing a week or two ago that was working instead of struggling to remember what I was doing a month or a year ago.
I’m glad that I’ll be able to get things back quickly so I can focus on all the other things I need to focus on in my life. I can do some great meal planning for the week coming up so that all my other time can be focused on work, going to Orangetheory, having fun, and getting things ready for surgery. Time is much better spent on those things than trying to figure out what I want to eat for breakfast, lunch, or dinner.
I feel like a broken record sharing a similar story over and over again. But I feel it’s important to do this. I don’t remember reading any bloggers who talked about the ups and downs and the random struggles that they had that set them back a few days. But when I talked to people, it seems like this is the norm. It’s especially the norm when you are recovering from an eating disorder. But people don’t seem to blog about it because it’s not interesting or attention getting. But it’s the truth and that’s exactly why I wanted to share it. Hopefully sharing my struggles will help someone else realize that things are hopeless and they can get back on track too.
I think it’s been a bit obvious from my past posts that I’m in a bit of a funk right now. I wouldn’t say that I’m depressed, but I’m not my usual happy-go-lucky self. I get this way from time to time and I know that I just have to suck it up and wait it out. Sometimes these funks are for a certain reason and sometimes they are random. I think this one is a combination of both.
While I know that I need to wait out these funks, that doesn’t mean that I don’t make an effort to get out of them quicker. Sometimes, what I need it to be out and about. I need to be around other people and remember to have fun in my life again. But in this case, I’ve had a pretty busy social life lately. I feel like I have to fit in all my social life into these next few weeks before I’m out of things for a while. While there is a chance that I won’t be recovering as long as I’m afraid I will be, I still feel like I have to be out and getting things done.
I think that I’m experiencing a bit of burn out right now. My calendar has been packed lately and I’m working hard to do everything that I tell my friends I will go and do. I don’t want to let others down and I’m probably putting other people ahead of myself recently. So I’ve spent the past few days trying to slow down and focus on myself.
I’ve been sitting and home and just been lazy and that has been really good for me. I’m catching up on podcasts that I’ve been meaning to listen to and watching shows on my DVR that I’ve been meaning to watch. Sometimes all I’m doing in a day is work (or work and then going to Orangetheory) and that’s been perfect for me. It’s weird to think how much I needed to have some alone time, but it seems like that has been doing the trick into getting my mood back up.
I’ve also gone back to my happiness checklist to focus on those tasks. It’s pretty easy for me to do most of those tasks but because they are easy I don’t work on them that much. One of the things on my checklist is reading, and that is something I do every day. At the very least, I read in bed before going to sleep. But that has not been enough for me lately and I have been trying to carve out time in my life to read more. I’ve been re-reading a lot of books that I’ve loved in the past and that has been bringing me so much happiness. I know many people don’t read books more than once, but I love going back to a book that I’ve enjoyed and seem to always find something new in the book.
I’m also just ok with being alone in my house just being quiet and doing nothing. I hate to waste time and it’s a luxury that I don’t have that often, but when I can be lazy and not worry about what I’m trying to get done I do that. It’s a way for me to recharge myself and try to refocus on what I really do want to do versus have to do.
I’m still not 100% back to my usual self, but I’ve definitely made steps into getting out of this funk. I know that being sad isn’t really helping me and that there isn’t a real reason for me to feel that way now. But I’ve been acknowledging my feelings and letting them sit with me. Doing that can help me understand why I’m feeling this way and what I should do to take care of myself. I never would have expected that being too social could be the problem, but from doing some reflection I figured out that it could be the case and I think that I was right.
I’m going to keep working on self-care and working on myself over the next few days and I’m sure I’ll be back to normal before I know it. It’s not fun to feel this way and I want to get back to feeling like me. Sometimes it takes time and while I’m working on being patient, I don’t have all the time in the world so I’m doing what I can to get myself back.
When I found out I needed liver surgery, I knew I would be waiting a little bit before having surgery. First, I want my parents to come take care of me when I have surgery and waiting until at least April was best for their schedules (this isn’t an urgent surgery so there is no rush for them to get here). Also, waiting does give my body a bit of time to hopefully shrink the tumors. And finally, I am hoping to lose a bit more weight before having surgery.
I had things set on being the middle to the end of April (I have a 5K in the beginning of April that I don’t want to miss), but when I saw my surgeon the last time the April schedule wasn’t open yet. So I was waiting on the surgery schedule to have April up so that my surgeon could pick the best day for it. He knew that I was looking at the week after Easter and had my permission to just give me whatever date he could that week as soon as the schedule was up. My surgery is possibly going to be an all day thing, so I might be the only patient he operates on that day.
I had been waiting and waiting for the schedule to open up and finally at the end of last week I got a phone call from the surgery scheduling assistant. My surgery has been booked and I’ve got just over 2 months to go before the tumor (or tumors) will be out!
Even though I’ve known about this for a while, having an actual surgery date makes everything seem real now. I have almost all my doctor appointments leading up to surgery booked (I just need to have my final MRI scheduled) and I know the timeline of when everything will be happening. I’ve let my agents know I will be unable to audition or work then and I’ve figured out exactly how much longer I have to bank hours at my box office job. I’m hoping I can still work while I’m recovering, especially in the hospital when I’m scared I’ll be bored, but I am banking enough hours to cover me if I cannot work the week and a half I’ll be recovering with my parents.
During my pre-op appointments, I know that someone will go over with me some of the things I’ll need to bring with me for surgery and my hospital stay. I’ve never had inpatient surgery before, so I am a bit nervous about staying at the hospital. I’m a bit set in my ways and in my routine, and I know this will throw me off. I’m looking online at things that people recommend to have for overnight hospital stays or abdominal surgery recovery. If any of you have been through either, I would love some suggestions.
This have been moving pretty quickly after I got my surgery date. I have several appointments scheduled now, my parents have planned their trip down here, they have found a place to stay, and I’ve got a ticking clock in my head of how much longer I have. I’m sure that since I’ve got about 2 months to go that soon I won’t think about it as each day counts down. Eventually I’ll just have it in the back of my mind instead of the front of my mind.
The only downside with having some time to get ready is that I have time to get ready. I have the time think about what I want to do before surgery or to have with me in the hospital. I have time to do a lot of research and read the good recovery stories along with the bad ones. I have time to think about what this will mean for the rest of my life. Since they are taking out my gallbladder, my diet will need to change a bit. And for the time that my liver regenerates, I’m sure I’ll have a restricted diet too. And after surgery, I will have scars on my stomach for the rest of my life. The scars on my hip have faded to the point you can’t see them anymore, so maybe the ones on my stomach will do the same. But I will always know that they will be there.
I’m going to try to limit the number of posts I do about the upcoming surgery. I’ll do posts when I have updates or appointments so you all know what is happening with me. But this surgery is just a minor roadblock in my life. Once I get through it, things will be different but I will be fine. This is just another crazy story that I will be able to tell one day at a party (I’m sure saying I had a tumor the size of a baby’s head taken out of my liver will be a good cocktail party story one day).
I’ve got about 2 months to go before this is all pretty much behind me and I can just focus on recovering from surgery, getting back to my normal life, and moving forward.
After having a bit of a negative day earlier this week (and to be honest, a negative week), I decided to spend yesterday trying to think more positively. Stress isn’t a good thing for me mentally or physically and I needed to get myself out of that funk. And when I woke up yesterday deciding to be in a better mindset, I also realized that it was my half birthday!
I know that most people don’t celebrate half birthdays, but my dad and I do. I’m not sure how the tradition started, but it’s been a thing as long as I can remember. There aren’t any cards or gifts for half birthdays (or if there are they are more of a joke than anything), but it’s more about a time marker to me. Days and months can go by so quickly that this is a nice way to pause and do some reflection. And that’s exactly what I did yesterday to feel better about things.
6 months ago, things were terribly different but they still were different. I had just started running again for the first time in a long time and was making great progress. Running was more of a novelty to me still 6 months ago and I wasn’t as focused on my progress the way I am now. I was focused on speed and getting PRs with distances more than anything. Now, I’ve realized that I need to focus on my endurance more. I won’t be getting a ton of PRs in my workouts, but I will be making huge progress. Being able to run for more than 10 minutes at once is huge and is making me just as happy as my last 5K PR.
6 months ago, I had been making progress with my recovery but I think the changes I’ve made in the past 6 months are much more significant than the ones I made the 6 months prior. I’m still doing a lot of the same stuff, but I’m going more in-depth with them. I’ve been able to recognize some of my triggers and stop and episode from happening before it does. I’m not perfect, but progress has been made. And thinking back at those 6 months gives me so much hope for what the 6 months leading up to my birthday will bring.
In the past 6 months, I haven’t had a ton of auditions and I haven’t booked an acting job but I’ve still had awesome things happen. My short film is getting into festivals and we are talking about making a sequel to the movie. We are getting a lot of positive attention for it and that is all I could ask from a film that was just a really fun project to do with friends. We did take the shoot seriously, but when you are making a short film you aren’t doing it to make money or become a star. It’s a passion project and we are all just so grateful that people are enjoying it. And I’m hoping that we will continue to get into more festivals and we can share this film with as many people as possible.
And I know that some people may think that since 6 months ago I didn’t know about the tumors that things were better off then. But I actually see it differently. Yes, it was nice not to know about the tumors but it is so much better that I do know about them. I’m lucky that I didn’t have any issues with them, but that might not have been for forever. I have read a lot of stories of people being hospitalized because they had a small tumor rupture. And with the large tumor I have, it would be bad if it ruptured. I’m glad that I know about them. I’m able to make the changes in my life that I need to and I will have them removed before there is anything that makes it too risky to have the tumors. I don’t want to say this is a wake up call for my health because I was already working on my health. But this gave me a new sense of urgency and a new mission with my health.
But what I think has been the best thing in the past 6 months for me is that I’m having more fun. Something happened after this past birthday where I wasn’t feeling as self-conscious as I have in the past. I don’t worry too much about what other people think about me or my life. I don’t care that some people think that I’m wasting money on tickets for the Pantages or my pass for Disneyland because those are things that make me happy. They don’t have to make anyone happy but me. And because I’m not worrying about what other people think as much, I can enjoy my life the way I want to. I’m living my life more and loving what I’m doing more. And that’s just awesome.
It’s nice to have a post like this where I’m looking at the good when I had a post yesterday when things weren’t so good. I’m so glad I had my half birthday yesterday to make me take a minute and reflect on positive things so that I could realize that things aren’t as bad as my brain might be trying to tell me that it is. And now I know that I’ve had an awesome past 6 months I can focus on working on making the next 6 just as good if not better!
Today is the inauguration of President Trump. Those of you who follow me on social media probably know how I feel about this, but I don’t want this post to be all about political parties. But with a new president coming in, there are some things that do concern me as a citizen of this country.
Almost all of the things that concern me are related to healthcare. Mainly, the idea that the Affordable Care Act will be repealed (and potentially replaced with something to be determined later). While I always have had healthcare, it wasn’t easy for me before the Affordable Care Act. And now with the threats that it will be taken away, I’m worried for me and the millions of other people who are in a better situation because of it. And so on inauguration day, I want to share my story of why the ACA matters to me. Maybe you don’t care if it goes away, but hopefully you can at least understand why it is something that scares me.
I was born into having amazing health insurance. Thanks to my dad, I had great coverage through Kaiser growing up. My insurance was covered under his job and we didn’t have to pay a monthly bill and almost everything I needed was covered under my insurance. I was totally spoiled with my awesome insurance and didn’t realize it wasn’t like that for everyone. I just assumed everyone could go to the doctor and it would be taken care of. Even with my hip surgery and all the craziness around that, it was completely covered and all of my bills said that the patient responsibility was $0.
When I aged out of my dad’s insurance coverage (which fortunately was right after my hip surgery), I applied for regular Kaiser insurance. All of my doctors are with Kaiser so there was no question to me that I would continue using them for my healthcare. I applied and assumed that while it wouldn’t be free anymore, I would get insurance and everything would be fine. But it wasn’t.
I got a rejection letter from Kaiser saying that they would not cover me because of my pre-existing conditions. Among my pre-existing conditions were my hip issues, my eating disorder, my weight, having a history of strep throat/tonsil issues, and having a history of gallstones. I was not a desirable person to insure and Kaiser didn’t want to cover me. Being rejected for pre-existing conditions sucked. I had an option to get COBRA for a year or so, but it would have been something like $3,000 a month to be covered.
Fortunately, I talked to someone at member services at Kaiser who explained that there was something called conversion insurance. Basically it was insurance for patients with pre-existing conditions that are considered too high risk to insure but previously had Kaiser insurance so Kaiser didn’t want to reject them completely. I was eligible for conversion, but instead of being about $100 a month (which is what it would cost for a woman to have regular Kaiser insurance), it was over $500 a month. That’s a lot of money, but because I needed health insurance my parents helped me out so I could get insurance.
I didn’t have as amazing of insurance as I did before, but it covered most of the things I needed. When I had my tonsils out, it cost $250. When I needed birth control refills, it was $30 a month. The out-of-pocket costs without insurance would have been insane, so having expensive insurance with higher deductibles and costs was worth it.
Then the ACA passed and I became eligible for regular insurance again! Not only that, Kaiser could no longer charge me more because I am a woman so things would be even cheaper than I thought. My new insurance is about $250 a month (I’m also eligible for subsidies because my income level is below the limit) because I got a silver level plan knowing that I would have more doctor appointments than the standard patient. And this was before the liver tumors so I’m more grateful now that I’m covered.
When I recently had my breast MRI, there was a debate if it would be fully covered by Kaiser. With my dad’s insurance, it would have been totally free. With my conversion insurance, MRIs were not a covered benefit so I would have paid full price. With my ACA coverage, MRIs are $250 but cancer screenings are free so it wasn’t known what my MRI would be classified under. I didn’t pay that day, but the other day I got a bill.
I got charged the $250 that is my standard MRI deductible. But you can see that if I had my old conversion insurance, it would have cost almost $2,700 to get this cancer screening that my mom’s geneticist recommended that I do. To know that a test that doctors felt I needed could cost more than my rent is ridiculous. I don’t know how people could afford that if they had to pay the full rate. That’s so expensive and it made me even more grateful for my ACA coverage.
With my upcoming liver surgery, I know I’ll hit my out-of-pocket maximum for the year. That maximum is about $8,000 (much lower than the $50,000 maximum my conversion insurance had) and while that is still a lot of money, it is a necessary cost and a fraction of what it would cost if I wasn’t insured. I’m not going to worry about the money now because I know I will get help to pay for it and my health is more important than money. Plus, on the positive side, I believe that once I hit my out-of-pocket maximum that I won’t have to pay for doctor appointments for the rest of the year!
I know I will be ok for 2017, but I’m scared what will happen to me after the year is done. If the ACA is gone, can Kaiser tell me that they don’t want to insure me anymore? I’m even more high risk with my pre-existing conditions now. If an insurance company could reject me, I totally understand why they would want to. But for me, I know I need to have insurance because of my pre-existing conditions. I will always have my hip issues, I will be considered high risk if I ever get pregnant because of the tumors (even if they are taken out, there is a risk of them coming back with pregnancy), until I stop getting treatment for my eating disorder that will always work against me if an insurance company can reject me, and I’m assuming that having to have part of my liver removed will make me even more high risk.
I know a lot of people get insurance through their employers and they are mad that their premiums have been going up. But that doesn’t have anything to do with the ACA. Premiums have been going up for decades every single year because health insurance companies can do that. It’s the same as car insurance premiums going up or home or renters insurance going up. And for those people who will have nothing change with their health insurance if the ACA is repealed, I can understand why they don’t care too much either way. But for me and millions of other people, losing the ACA can be horrible. For me I know it won’t be a death sentence, but I have friends who could have their lives at risk if they can’t get insurance to help pay for life-saving medication. Hoping that you can afford to live shouldn’t be something that people think about.
I know that there has been a lot of backlash from the threat of repealing the ACA, especially with no replacement in mind yet. I’m hoping that politicians will listen to how scared their constituents are about this. Maybe President Trump will worry about being popular and liked and realize the majority of people do not want the ACA to go away (or go away before we know what the replacement will be so we know we won’t be uninsured). I can only hope that next year, I will not be worried about this and I will still be able to get the healthcare that I need to stay healthy.
It’s a new year and I’ve got a new year of monthly challenges! I did buy the Volt Planner for 2017 and I’m very happy that it’s a similar set up to what the 2016 planner was like. There are still the weekly and monthly goal setting pages as well as the monthly challenges. And I plan on doing a new monthly challenge each month just like I did last year!
I think that having the goals and challenges really did help to keep me accountable and focused on doing things to better myself. It’s one thing to say that I’ll be doing something, but to have a list in a planner where I can see what I set out to do is another. Having it on paper makes me want to make sure I don’t slack because I hate to see unchecked boxes on my goals and challenges pages in the planner. It’s the perfectionist in me that makes me want to get something done if I write it down in a planner.
I’ll admit that January 1st got here much quicker than expected so I didn’t have as much time dedicated to planning out my challenge for the month as I would have liked. There are some big ideas for challenges that I have for this year, but some of them involve planning or setting things in place that I didn’t have time to do for this month. Hopefully I’ll be able to do some of my big ideas later this year, but it will have to wait. But there was one thing that I started doing at the end of the year that I knew I wanted to continue to do this year and dedicate time to working on it.
While I know that I will need to have liver surgery no matter what, there are things that I can do to hope that the surgery and recovery will be easier. And one of those things is to have the tumors shrink. There is no medical way that I can do this (they aren’t cancerous tumors so I don’t need chemo or radiation to shrink them), but I can still work on doing it on my own. I’m a believer in the power of positive thinking and I’ve been trying to think that my tumors are shrinking every day.
My mom did the same thing when she had cancer, and her journey to being cancer free went much easier than most people thought it would be. She imagined her body healing every single night and I believe that doing that helped her so much. So I’m doing the same with my tumors. I had been doing this before the new year, but I still decided to make it my monthly challenge to make sure that I do this every day.
Like most of my challenges, I’m using the reminder app on my phone to alert myself every day to dedicate time to doing this. I’m not using my mediation app for this, but I’m thinking about doing that because there is a silent timed mediation option within the app. But for now, I’m just focusing on how I imagine the tumors getting smaller for a few minutes every single day.
It’s not a huge thing for me to do, but I know that doing it will only benefit me in the long run. And making sure that I do dedicate time every day for this will help me not to slack off and forget. I really do love having all the reminders in my phone going off throughout the day so I don’t zone out and then realize the entire day has gone by without me getting anything done. I feel silly that I hadn’t been taking advantage of those prior to the monthly challenges because they are so easy to set up. But at least now I have them and I am always adding more to my reminder list.
While this challenge is a smaller one, I’m really excited to have another full year of these challenges. From the ones that I set up last year, most of them are still things that I do every single day. I have slacked off on a few (mainly the yoga and mindfulness before eating ones but I’m working on that), but most of them have become habits and my day doesn’t feel complete until I accomplish them. And I know that building a few new good habits every year will add up and be something really great for me for the rest of my life.
Here’s to another year of monthly challenges and hopefully using my mind to get my tumors to shrink before my next MRI and we make my surgery plan!