Posts Tagged ‘personal’

Health results, past and present.

I remember when I first found out I had some sort of cyst or tumor, nearly four years ago now. At first, it was tangible — it showed up in X-rays and an ultrasound, and I could feel it when I touched my abdomen — but it wasn’t quite a real thing for me. I was determined. I was determined to be fine aside from that; I said to myself and everyone around me that I was otherwise healthy. I was finishing up a healing and empowerment program and I felt alive and powerful. While I did things to mitigate the occasion sharp pain and continued with the trajectory of making doctors’ appointments, I also pushed forward. I was determined that it was not going to interfere with the goals I had for myself.

I didn’t consider how much energy the mass took up inside me. Nor did I consider the power of denial. Which is not to say that the feeling of empowerment and hope and idealism was not very real for me — it was. But I didn’t even really think about the potential realities of a mass growing on my ovary. I continued as if it were not a factor.

Also, I had not had this experience before. I simply was lacking both experience and information. Phrases like complex cyst and borderline ovarian tumor did not yet have meaning for me, even if and when I heard them. It wasn’t really until after my surgery where those meanings hit me and I understood.

The present:

Saturday, I stared at the letter: my most recent pelvic ultrasound results. I get an ultrasound every six months or so to make sure that I am tumor-free. My results up to this point have been negative — nothing abnormal found. This time, there is a small cyst on my left ovary. The letter said to wait about three months and get another ultrasound and see if it resolves itself or if I need to take further action.

I froze, putting the letter down, motioning for my love to come over. He took the letter away from my shaking hands.

And I realized this weekend: While I am afraid, it’s important to not let my fear paralyze me. I can acknowledge the worst-case scenario while also acknowledging that that may never come to fruition. At the same time, it’s important not to bury myself in denial. I don’t have to present myself as a pillar of strength and push forward and try to make everything okay whether or not it is. I can be vulnerable and strong. I can be scared and concerned while still moving forward with creating my life here. I don’t have to push; I will take one step at a time.

This could be something. It could be insignificant or nothing. Many cysts resolve on their own. I’ve had one that did not. This one is small, just over one centimeter.. The one I had was nearly 13 cm. For now, I will do what I can. I will try natural and herbal remedies, ask for healing thoughts or prayers.

This weekend, I re-felt some of the trauma from that time, where I did not receive the support I needed from my community during my health scare and following crisis. I reminded myself that my support network now is strong: husband,  parents, parents-in-law, other family, friends. I allowed myself to feel the fear and the grief while also holding the reality of my current experience. In the past few years, I have created a safe space within myself to feel what I need to feel and also move through it. I have developed and strengthened relationships.  No matter what happens, I have a strong foundation.

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Softening the hard edges of self-judgment

I have been hard on myself in the past. Over the past few years, I’ve softened quite a bit. I’m also more aware when I feel the hard edges of self-judgment. I remind myself to step back when that happens. Present-tense, I am softer.

When I look to the past, with this particular situation, I struggle with softening towards myself. In the past, I was sometimes unthinkingly callous, unkind, explosive, etc. towards my now-husband. I still find myself in moments where I apologize for how I behaved then. Sometime,s when he expresses gratitude for something in the present, I realize that I didn’t do that in the past and feel bad. And I realize that I likely behaved this way in the past in other close relationships as well.

My love says that apologies aren’t needed. He acknowledges that my behavior was sometimes unkind in the past, but it isn’t now. He is grateful for the growth we’ve both gone through. We’re both grateful for DBT, which has certainly helped me be more mindful, less reactive, more relational, and what I learned and passed on to him has helped him, too. We’re both so grateful that we know about my sensory processing issues, because they often largely contributed towards my reactivity, my meltdowns, etc. We have a wonderful relationship now. We have more exchange and give-and-take; we talk things through and we actively work on our relationship.

And even acknowledging all that, I find it challenging at times to fully forgive myself for those times where I lashed out, where I critical or unkind. I’m hoping that writing this out will allow me to soften a little bit, or at least accept that that’s where I’m at. I have grown so much. I am still growing. I am learning from my mistakes. I cannot change the past, but I can be mindful in the present and carry that into the future. Hopefully, in time, I can hold my past self with more compassion.

Update.

I have several half-written posts, but they never seem to settle into full entries. So maybe I’ll start with summaries/snapshots of what I’ve been doing. Perhaps I’ll follow up on some of them in the future.

My love and I recently started taking Tai Chi and Aikido classes with an informal dojo. I’m hoping to deepen my perspective on these two martial arts, especially since they are two of the three martial arts forms/energies used in Nia. I’m really enjoying seeing my husband fall in love with the martial arts, which he’s always wanted to do, seeing him get more connected with his body. It’s also nice to have an activity outside our apartment we can do together.

I’m dealing – and sometimes wrestling with – with being a beginner in Tai Chi and Aikido as well as a beginning Nia teacher. I’m working on recognizing that it’s important and necessary to be exactly where I’m at, even though it can feel incredibly intimidating and vulnerable at times. I’m figuring out ways to cheerlead and encourage myself through it. In the end, what’s most important is to keep going.  It seems like I’m doing a lot of personal growth through movement forms. They are teaching me a lot in terms of discipline, confidence, patience, and so much more.

I’m also a beginner at proofreading legal transcripts. I am in the middle of an online course so I can learn how. I’m hoping it can be a way to bring in some income in the near future. While I’ve always been good at catching errors, this is challenging and taking my skills to a new level. It’s also taking a lot of review of rules of punctuation, capitalization, etc.

I’m taking an abnormal psychology class at the local community college. I’m enjoying it, and I’m also appreciating a reason to get out and do things two mornings a week. Grateful that I still had money from my AmeriCorps education award so I could take a class or two.

Since I take evening movement classes two nights a week and sunset is falling around 5:30 or so, I’ve gotten to see some incredible sunsets. Sometimes in the winter, we get actual rainstorms; more often, we get incredible clouds, which often make the sunsets stunning.

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I just had a birthday. I’m now 34. My year of being 33 was very full, and included the major transitions of wrapping up many things in New Mexico, getting married, and moving to Nevada. The day of my birthday was lovely. It included Tai Chi, a walk, a chocolate and vanilla ice cream cake, and dinner at a Persian restaurant.

I am starting to feel more settled here. It’s definitely a process. Some days, I feel more landed; other days, I feel so new. New to this place, new to experiences. I remind myself that feeling new isn’t a bad thing, that there is no rush to feel or be a certain way in my new surroundings. In my quiet moments, when I can ground myself and listen in, I recognize that being where I’m at, here and now, is a good place to be.

Marching in spirit

womens-march-on-washington

I love that there are going to be women’s marches all over the country (and world!) this  Saturday, January 21. I definitely believe in the issues they are be marching for. I stand in solidarity with them.

And…I’m also choosing not to go to the one in my city. This isn’t a political decision, it’s a personal one. The probable sensory and energetic cost of going to an event like this is higher than the rewards of going. These kinds of events tend to highly-stimulating: There are many people going, it may be challenging to leave, there may be unexpected situations, noises, etc.

There is part of me that is wistful: I would like to go.

There is part of me that says I should go, should be doing more in terms of activism in general. However, a lot of this”more” includes things that may stress out my nervous system and throw me out of whack for an unknown amount of time. Yes, I am being cautious and discerning. I am also trying to be realistic and compassionate with myself.

I’m brainstorming other ways that I can help: donate a small amount to an organization I support, look for a volunteer opportunities, keep my eyes out for activities that may be more supportive. While I sign online petitions on a regular basis, I don’t know how much impact that has; I also acknowledge that it is something.

For those of you out there who are marching this Saturday, I am marching with you in spirit.

Double rainbow on my wedding day.

double-rainbow

Picture of double rainbow that my husband took.

I’ll share more details at a later point; for now, I’ll begin with this:

It started to sprinkle just as we were finishing up our wedding reception. It was raining as we drove across the city to the bed and breakfast, where we were staying the night.

As we were approaching the B&B, we saw a vivid rainbow, and another faintly above it. The clearer one seemed to expand in the sky across the valley, across the greater part of the city.

It was the beautiful ending to a wonderful event. It was also a beautiful beginning to the next chapter in our lives. I turned my love – my new husband – and smiled.

Wedding countdown: My bridal toolkit and self-reminders

As my wedding approaches – now a week away – I make plans. I make a list of things I might need with me on the day. I look at my schedule for the week, and each day gets busier. I write in breaks for myself. As my stress level goes up, I notice that I become more sensitive to tactile stimuli once again. I remind myself to breathe, drink water, eat, and to rest as much as I can. I start doing my sensory brushing routine more consistently, and I’ve been doing yoga daily. I’m storing and reserving energy for the upcoming event whenever I can.

My bridal toolkit, things to have with me or nearby in case of need:

  • Water
  • Straws
  • Weighted blanket
  • Weighted lap pad
  • Wrist weights
  • Fidgets (soft fabric, koosh ball, etc)
  • Wilbarger brush
  • Makeup wipes and cotton
  • Lipstick
  • Chapstick
  • Ibuprofen
  • Bandaids
  • Dental floss
  • Lint brush
  • Bobby pins
  • Pen and markers
  • Ginger chews
  • Ginger ale
  • Altoids
  • Extra pair of shoes for reception (just in case)
  • Pashmina (in case it’s cooler)
  • Peanut butter crackers (keep my blood sugar up)
  • Toothbrush & Toothpaste
  • Toothpicks, Dental Floss
  • Emory board or manicure kit
  • Soothing supplements (as needed)
  • Rescue Remedy lozenges
  • Sunscreen

As the date gets closer, I realize I can plan and anticipate up to a certain point. I can cope ahead, and I also can’t anticipate everything that will unfold. I have self-soothing and sensory skills and tools. It’s comforting to know that I’ll have them, and that my mom will be there to provide direct support, and that I’ll have other support as well. If or when I get overstimulated, I can advocate for myself and I’ll also appoint others to check in with me and run interference when needed. I know it will be a lot, and it may be overwhelming at times, and I will likely need time to recover afterwards. And all of this is okay.

I also want to remind myself: I love ceremonies and rituals, and taking part in them. I enjoy standing in that kind of energy. I’ll be outside in nature, and I’ll be able to easily look up to the sky, out the mountains, down to the valley. I’ll be able to touch a tree and connect, visualizing myself feeling rooted. I can look into my love’s eyes, hold his hand, and take comfort in him, in us, as we deepen our commitment.

While the idea of a reception may be challenging for me with its consistent social aspects, I remind myself I will know almost everyone who is coming. There are coming to love and support us, to celebrate with us. I give myself permission to sit down, take breaks, to dance to move energy, to give myself what I need throughout the process. There may not be many events in my life where the spotlight will focus on me in quite this way. In the end, I want to be present, I want to take it all in. I want to give myself permission to allow myself to be with where I am and how I feel without judgment. I want to savor, enjoy, and experience it for what it is.

Wedding countdown: Hair and makeup trial

hair-flowers

Sample flowers for my wedding hair trial appointment: white roses, baby’s breath, and delphinium

My wedding hair trial involves a lot of pulling, pinning, some curling. My hair stylist tells me to wash my hair the day before my wedding, because second day hair holds styles better. My curls straighten out and she uses the iron to convince them back in. I giggle, quite a bit – I’ve never had this done before. I didn’t think I’d want my hair in an updo for my wedding until I tried on my dress; the dress, with its ornate embroidery along the neckline, dictated the hairstyle. My stylist parts my hair to the side, braids strands, and then adds the flowers,  creating something similar to an image I’d found on Pinterest. For awhile, it looks odd, and I have difficulty not pushing my hair back behind my ear, as it’s hanging down and tickling the side of my face. In the end, though, she pins that piece back, and the look falls into place. It’s asymmetrical, it’s beautiful, and it suits me.

She asks if she can clean up my eyebrows, just a little in the center and underneath. Although I rarely do this, and I agree. She waxes them; the process stings and I cringe and wince. I know my pain threshold is low, and that my reaction is strong.

We run out of time, and have to postpone the makeup part. I won’t have the full picture until my wedding day. I keep my hair up for the rest of the day, and run errands at Walgreen’s and a hardware store. There’s something exciting about doing daily activities with my hair in an updo with flowers.

My make-up trial is more touch-based than the hair; there’s so much direct contact with my skin.

“You have sensory issues, right?” she asks. I had mentioned that I was tactile defensive during my hair trial, but I hadn’t used those terms. It turns out her nephew has Sensory Processing Disorder and her eldest son has Asperger’s. She also has other clients (mostly children) with sensory issues. I’ve been going to her for haircuts for two years and didn’t know this, although I had the sense she was excellent at reading body language. Since my initial process of choosing her was based on the creative name of the salon and reading her short bio on a website, I’m so glad that I ended up with her.

She explains everything she’s doing, and tells me to give her feedback – if something feels uncomfortable, if I need a break. Firmer touches feel better than softer or lighter ones, I tell her. I’m grateful I don’t go through the hair and makeup process regularly, even if I like the end result. It is such a tactile experience. “I’m bringing my weighted lap pad next time,” I tell her. I might even bring my weighted blanket, just in case.

After the appointment, I look at myself in the mirror. I’m still in there, just more accented, styled, glamorous. I love how my eyes stand out. I play with toning some of it down until I find the right balance.

Now, I close my eyes and imagine everything together: my hair up, makeup done, wearing my dress, bouquet in hand. Ready for my entrance.