In which I try super hard to be holly and jolly. Like super, duper hard.

Like any good Chronic, I have an incredibly overactive imagination. What do you expect? You have to learn how to make staring at your ceiling for days (weeks, years, decades…) on end interesting somehow.

So here is my holiday-themed Delusion of Grandeur:

My house is decorated and the lights are bright enough to see from Space. I have planned in advance and sent out actual paper, US postal service-delivered invitations to a very fun and very grown-up holiday party (which really just means there will be canapes) at my house the weekend before Christmas. I go shopping and get a bunch of adorable and thoughtful presents for my guests, plus a sparkly and festive new outfit for myself. I get super psyched about the fact that I can afford to do this (#Employed). I buy myself a celebratory cupcake at Georgetown Cupcake and eat it while filling out Christmas cards to send to friends and family far away. The day of my party arrives, everyone attends, and we all have a great time talking about running and cookies and jobs and kids and other things that sound grown-up-ish and most definitely do not include health-related topics unless we are debating the merits of kale versus spinach.

Sounds nice, right?

I thought so too.

SIGH.

That is not actually happening this weekend, which is totally bumming me out.

Ok, wait. One part happened- I did eat a Georgetown Cupcake the other day while writing out some belated cards. Let’s just say it was wonderful until it wasn’t.

The reality is that instead of my Make-A-Wish Christmas fantasy, I am in “just-get-by” mode, which my fellow Chronics will also be familiar with. This is the autopilot we have to put ourselves on sometimes in order to, you know, just get by.

I am still majorly sick with stomach issues. Think of the worst stomach flu and/or food poisoning you’ve ever had, and now think of what it would be like if it never went away. That’s me right now. I might be fine for a few hours, but the yuck finds me eventually.

As you can imagine, I am super pleasant to be around right now.

Every year, I want the holidays to be different- more festive, more fun, more sparkly, more special. The last few years, I’ve been kind of disappointed.

I expected to feel pretty disappointed this year too, and it is easy to when writing a blog in which you write full out Expectation vs. Reality.

But I don’t want to be disappointed.

When I think about my Holiday Daydream and analyze the beejesus out of it (yet another well-honed Chronic skill), I can realize that what I am really looking for is not necessarily specific events to take place (though it sure would be nice!), but rather for certain festive feelings to appear. And, when you stare at the ceiling of your bathroom for a ½ hour, you come to realize that you can make feelings happen much more easily that you can events.

Item #1: The house is decorated and you can see the lights from Space.

What I want to feel: I want to share my enthusiasm! I am so excited for the holidays! I want you to know it! I can achieve this by doing what I just did- sharing. You reading my post is my Chronic equivalent of a perfectly festive abode.

Item #2: I have planned in advance and sent out paper invitations.

What I want to feel: I want to feel organized and I want others to feel special. Doesn’t getting mail make you feel so warm and squishy on your insides? Someone took the time to get a notecard, write something in it with a pen (which they had to hunt around for, because a pen is never where you are looking for it/just left it, and if it is, it is probably all dried up), find your address, get a stamp, and then mail it. Whew! That’s a lot of energy, and they did it all so you can get warm fuzzies when you realize they were thinking about you that much. I was semi-organized and did send out a few warm fuzzies-I mean cards- and it was nice and gave me warm fuzzies too.

Item #3: Very fun and very grown-up party with canapes.

What I want to feel: The vast majority of my friends are grown-ups. I’m not so sure I am yet, but I have felt closer to that than I ever have this year, and I really wanted to join the club! So, ok, I was looking for validation and inclusion. These feelings feel like the hardest to find, but I can squeeze out some validation by thinking about how I was able to afford cards and presents (#PayCheck #MakeItRain) while sticking to a budget like a grown-up and work out some inclusion by keeping in touch through Facebook and text messaging to know what everyone’s kiddos, significant others, dogs, cats, and hedge fund investments are up to. Also, I can pretend that tiny pancakes, which are the only thing I can really manage to eat right now, are actually fancy-pants canapes that I don’t have to share with anyone. Bonus, if I don’t have a party with tiny finger foods, it isn’t that important that I figure out how to spell canape…cannape…cannappe…where is the button for an accent over the “e” when you need it?

Item #4: Adorable and thoughtful gifts, festive outfit.

What I want to feel: I want my giftees to know that even though I am down here in the Chronic muck, I can still take a minute and stop thinking about myself long enough to get them a present that they’ll like. I also want to look really pretty. Thankfully, the Internet exists, so my family members will be getting really adorable and thoughtful gifts that were first delivered (Santa-style!) to my doorstep. As for the looking really pretty part? Lipstick makes (almost) everything better, and I’m pretty sure I have the perfect shade to match the pajamas that I am currently living in. What? You don’t match your Clinique to your PJ’s? #Weirdo

Item #5: Party arrives, everyone attends, we have a great time talking about non-health things.

What I want to feel: Friendship and a respite from a problem that seems never-ending and all-encompassing. Reaching out is hard when you don’t feel well, but I’m trying. I am so, so, so grateful for each and every card, text, and Facebook poke that I’ve received. Friendship, check! As for a respite from my troubles? Please, tell me about that crazy thing your dog did or that disgusting thing your kid ate. Really. I want to hear it. Don’t leave anything out. I mean it. Also, what are your thoughts on kale? So 2012? Yeah, I thought so, too.

I do not have to have a Bah-Humbug holiday, and neither do you, Chronic friend! I’m totally Pollyanna-ing all over the place right now, but isn’t it fun to try and find the silver linings to enormously crappy situations? You can always count on me for that, that’s for sure. 🙂

I hope that all of your holidays are merry and bright, Chronic readers! Let me know what you are up to either here in the comments or over on my Facebook page http://www.facebook.com/iamchronicallywell

 

 

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The Saga Continues…

Exactly how much radioactive material must I ingest or be exposed to in order to qualify as a Marvel hero?

I mean really. I am expecting Professor X to show up on my doorstep any day now.

If Magneto is with him, all the better. I promise not to blow them up a la Jean Grey.

You know, if I can help it.

Healthcare can be really weird some times.

Case in point- when you go to the hospital, walk through the door labeled “Danger: Radiation Warning,” plop down on a table, present your arm to be injected with radioactive tracer material, and then settle in for a giant machine to pulse radiowaves at you for an hour and a half to take pictures of said tracer moving through your insides.

No, I’m not an extra in a Marvel flick, I just got a HIDA scan to see if my gallbladder is necrotizing slowly and painfully. (Yeah, I just pulled out some fancy medical jargon. Necrotizing sounds so much nicer than dying. Ew.)

This is not my first foray into getting pumped full of toxic material in the pursuit of optimal health.

Ever hear of a gastric emptying exam? It’s a test for gastroparesis (stomach paralysis) in which you have to eat the most gigantic pile of scrambled eggs ever that have been seasoned with radioactive material. Then a machine takes pictures of the radioactive bolus traveling through your digestive tract.

Mmmm, radiation.

#BreakfastOfChampions

Ok, wait, saying that the scrambled eggs are “seasoned” with radioactive material is an understatement. They are actually soaked in weird “odorless,” “colorless,” “tasteless” radioactive liquid that I am pretty sure was leftover from that scene in the Princess Bride when the guy who says “Inconceivable!” all the time keels over. Now I’m just mixing my metaphors, but perhaps being immune to poison (it literally says “Caution: Toxic” on the label before they pour it all over the food you are about it eat) is my personal X-(wo)Man gift?

By the way, I haven’t been able to bring myself to eat scrambled eggs since. I knew someone who got to have a radioactive donut- she wouldn’t eat eggs, so they spiked her Krispey Kreme. I want to know why I didn’t get that option.

ANYWAY.

Back to my radioactive exposure.

The HIDA scan was virtually painless; the most excruciating part is waiting for my doctor to get back to me with the results (um, it’s been a week, friend, get it together please). I couldn’t help but wonder where that radioactive tracer’s final destination might be though. It was injected intravenously, so it could really make the rounds before being erased by my immune system. When you have to entertain yourself for 90 minutes of holding still, it can be quite fun to think of all the superpowers you might end up with at the conclusion of the study.

Maybe I’ll end up with super speed as it makes the rounds through my legs…

Maybe I’ll suddenly have a photographic memory because the radiation got lost on the way out and passed through my hippocampus…

Maybe I’ll stop aging and look 26 forever…

Bruce Banner had Gamma radiation.

Peter Parker was bit by a radioactive spider.

Captain America was injected with Super Soldier serum.

The X-Men have varying mutations brought about by weird genetics.

I’m pretty sure that, at the very least, I glow in the dark now, so when do I get my Marvel membership card?

 

You never know how strong you are until Shit happens.

Forgive the title.

I mean it literally.

In related news, I have some sort of weird stomach infection…

I’ve actually been sick on and off for about 3 weeks now.

Nope, Chronic readers, as much as I wanted to, I did not hang up my Chronic hat and ride off into the sunset of gainful employment and desert you.

I’ve just been spending all my free time throwing up.

I managed to continue to work through the agony up until this past week. I had already arranged to have time off for Thanksgiving. (Happy Belated Turkey Day, my fellow Americans!)

This is the picture I posted on Facebook on Thanksgiving. The caption was, “These are our ‘When’s Dinner?’ faces.”

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Except, I didn’t even really eat dinner on Thanksgiving. This is what I really did on Thanksgiving:

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#SocialMedia #LiesWeTellOurFacebookFriends #AtLeastMyDogGetsMe

I’ve had to take additional time off from work this week, because when you get to the point where you are so sick you don’t even want to look at food anymore, it’s high time you head on over to your friendly neighborhood emergency room.

It’s making me kind of crazy, this first foray into being super duper acute sick while navigating my newfound employment. I had been doing so well: Visions of Sigourney Weaver ‘Working Girl’ greatness danced in my head (I’ve been saving up for a kick-ass power suit), and Donna Sommers’ power ballads have been echoing on repeat in my ears, just for good measure- I work hard for the money/so hard for it honey/I work hard for the money so you better treat me right…

But sickness snuck up on me.

I actually just typo-ed and wrote “ickness” which I think is a more accurate description.

I won’t gross you out with excessive details, but pretty much everything icky your digestive system can do, mine is doing with a vengeance. I’ve had every icky test where you have to drink icky stuff so they can take icky pictures of your icky insides. I have been poked, prodded, and stuck. So far they aren’t sure what’s wrong beyond knowing something isn’t right. Super helpful, n’est pas? It’s not just an average cyclical vomiting spell either. There’s a whole lot more going on, but “what is it???!!” is the million dollar question.

In the meantime…

Best thing about overnight hospital stays? So. Much. Saline. Saline is my favorite. I wish I could take it home with me. Someday I will write a whole post dedicated to my love of saline and the incredible difference that being venous-ly hydrated makes.

Worst thing about overnight hospital stays? Everything else.

I didn’t sleep more than a few hours due to hourly poking and prodding. The bed was weirdly squishy. More than 1 person said I was “too young” to be so sick to my stomach (Which was weird in context because don’t kiddos get diarrhea? Like a bunch? I didn’t think only old people had cornered that market…) I haven’t eaten since Sunday, except the 4 cups of hospital jello I hoarded like a maniac and then “savored” bite by tiny bite.

Reaction to 1st cup of Hospital Jello: Sweet manna from heaven! Thank you, Lord! Has anything ever tasted so good?

Reaction to 2nd cup of Hospital Jello: Ok, so yeah, jello and I are friends. But not like best friends, just like good friends, you know? Like I wouldn’t invite jello out for 1-on-1 time, but if I needed to beef up a guest list, jello would be on it.

Reaction to 3rd cup of Hospital Jello: Who the flip brought me orange jello? Why is there even such a thing as orange jello? Why does this taste like someone melted an orange popsicle and then left it in a lukewarm fridge for 3 weeks?

Reaction to 4th cup of Hospital Jello: I am never eating jello again.

Wait, what’s that you say? Jello is the only thing I can eat for the next 48 hours while I await extensive GI workup testing?

Whyyyyyyyyyyy, Universe, Whyyyyyyyy?

I brought a book, but I didn’t read it.

There was a TV in the room, but I didn’t watch it.

Mostly I stared at the ceiling repeating my name and birthdate in my head over and over because everyone kept asking (ID verification), and the morphine they gave me made me weirdly panicked that I would suddenly forget this vital information, which would mean that they wouldn’t give me more Zofran. And I needed that Zofran.

Yeah, morphine is going on my “Please don’t give me this” list. STAT.

When I wasn’t doing that, I was, of course, writing this blog in my head.

I have missed writing, but I can honestly say, I have not missed having Chronic things to write about.

But what can a Chronic girl do?

Shit happens.