Tuesday, April 28, 2015

There's "Something" On My Cervix

Life has been quite the battle for the last several months. I've been waiting on one doctor appointment after the other and just not feeling well. If you follow me on Instagram, you no doubt have seen the complaining on my bad days and been privy to a little bit of my journey. I wrote last week about my night spent in the emergency room (you can catch up with the post here if you need to) and Friday I had an ultrasound appointment. I basically wanted to wear pajamas, but wore my awesome jogger pants instead. You have to be feeling pretty miserable, in my opinion, to want to wear your pajamas out in public by the time you hit thirty.
I came home and immediately called to schedule my follow up with my primary care doctor, knowing it would be another week before I could get in. In true form, the earliest appointment was a week away.

Yesterday, my world shook something fierce and I just cried. The nurse from my primary clinic called to let me know that my doctor was referring me to a specialist in the OB/GYN department at the hospital and volunteered the information that there were several cysts and "something" on my cervix. I was expecting cysts and to be dealing with possible ruptures. Since being diagnosed with PCOS I have not had any serious health issues from it, but something on my cervix?!

You know how the proverbial "they" always tell you not to google your symptoms? Don't look to Web MD because the answer is always cancer? I avoided Google until yesterday. I am already dramatic as it is and I will tell you this: when the nurse calls you and says there is "something" on your cervix, DO NOT GOOGLE THAT SHIT. The minute she spoke those words my mind already went to the worst place, but then I googled...
Gynecological cancer infographic from Ovacome found while Googling.
I looked at Gene last night and read him the symptoms from the above image. SEVEN. I have been going to the doctor complaining about seven of those symptoms. I'm trying not to get ahead of myself. I'm trying to remind myself that my pap smear results were normal, but then I googled that shit. Nan is a gynecological cancer survivor, overcoming uterine cancer a few years ago, does that make me a higher risk for cervical cancer? I anxiously awaited the office opening this morning to call and schedule my appointment.

MAY NINETEENTH. THREE WEEKS. That's the soonest I could get in. I get it, I really do. Everybody and their cousin on Okinawa is pregnant- I'm not just making that up- they call it the "two baby tour!" I get that the one OB/GYN department on the island would be busy, however: THERE IS SOMETHING ON MY CERVIX AND I HAVE TO WAIT THREE WEEKS? I'm not above taking drastic measures to get my way, but I began crying in all sincerity when she said that date.

I've had these symptoms since November, getting gradually worse over time, I've been dealing with daily nausea and pain for a week or two now, and then a nurse tells me there is something on my cervix and I have to wait three weeks? I humbly (in my opinion) mentioned through my tears what the nurse had told me, and asked if there was seriously nothing before May 19th. I then apologized profusely. I also got an earlier appointment, for next week.
Print from Art by Erin Leigh on Etsy 
If there was ever a time I needed prayer warriors, now would be that time. I can't help but get ahead of myself, and if you've ever been sick you've been exactly where I am right now. The facts: There is no oncology department on Okinawa- if a biopsy is taken and there is cancer found, I will have to leave the island, and Gene, and our home, to be treated. I'm having a very hard time turning my mind off and not thinking about the facts should my worst fears come to fruition. The less information I have, the more my mind spins out of control.

I know cancer does not have to be a death sentence. I am proud to know some kick ass women who have battled and beaten it. I am always open with my readers though, and so I will share how I'm really feeling: Everything inside of me is screaming that I don't want to be "cancer girl!" That I don't want to have to fight. That I want everything to be ok when I go to OB/GYN. That I don't want people feeling sorry for me. That I don't want to have to write about a journey through diagnosis, treatment, and recovery. That I don't want every sign telling me to worry being right. I don't want any part of it.  

I'll be sure to keep you all updated and can't thank you enough for your thoughts, well wishes, and prayers! The one big lesson I have learned regardless of the outcome is to listen to your body, demand to be seen, demand tests to be run, don't be afraid that it's all in your head, because I was- I didn't want to go to the doctor and put people out over nothing, but I am certainly glad now that I did.

Take care of yourself. 
Listen to your body. 
Be well, friends. 

Monday, April 27, 2015

It's Time To Focus... Again

Life has been crazy lately but I thought I would pop in with a little update on my journey! I've been dealing with quite a few medical issues, which are slowly being diagnosed and healed, but the road ahead is going to be a long one. I've been waiting to see my primary doctor, and then waiting for lab work, and then waiting for appointments for ultrasounds to look around a bit on my insides, and now I'm waiting to talk to a specialist about the results.

I'm sick and tired of being sick and tired. I have spent the last several months having more bad days than good days, and I'm changing my attitude and outlook to correct that! Last week I made the decision to jump back into working out with Shaun T and Focus T25! This week I'm starting from the beginning with week one of Focus T25 Alpha level and looking forward to progressing through the five week program several times over before moving onward to the Beta and Gamma phases. I have done Alpha twice before and I really loved it! I started using T25 when I was training for Tough Mudder back in 2013 and it helped get me to a place where I not only felt comfortable enough starting, but finished and earned my Tough Mudder headband
Getting back on the horse - April 22, 2015
I wear my fitbit daily and have been making strides to hit my step goal every single day- evening walks with Gene or a neighbor, or getting up and getting a walk in before the sun gets up and it gets too hot out here in Okinawa. I learned a trick from an instafried of walking in place while doing menial tasks like cooking, dishes, or laundry which has helped me get more steps in daily! I've been hitting my step goals most weekdays, although the weekends are a little trickier to be motivated to want to do anything other than lounge around!

This weekend Gene and I went to the beach and I just felt healthier, this quickly! I'd been so fatigued lately and would run out of breath quicker and during normal activities. A mixture of both health issues and weight issues, and working out is helping! We spent at least an hour on the beach walking, looking for shells, and I never once got out of breath. It felt great to be able to start reclaiming my life!
As for now, I'm hoping that no hospitalizations are required for what I'm dealing with and that I can continue working out with Shaun T in the mornings- Pushing play and getting it done! Keep your fingers crossed for me, as they found something suspicious in the ultrasound, but I don't know anything more than that and won't until I get my appointment.

I joked with Gene that my short term goal is ankles and my long term goal is collar bone. I always notice weight loss first in my ankles- the swelling goes down in my feet and my ankles become a little more defined. I'm watching them shrink as the weight comes off and I couldn't be happier about that- I notice change in them even when I don't notice anything else changing!

Are you pushing through with any fitness goals right now?
I'd love to hear what you're doing to meet your goals!
YOU CAN DO IT! 

I would love for you to connect with me on My Fitness Pal (where I'm tracking what I'm eating and my exercising), on Fitbit, and on Instagram (where I post pictures of what I'm eating, my daily Fitbit stats, working out accountability, and more random odds and ends!)

Wednesday, April 22, 2015

Back on the Erin Condren Life Planner Bandwagon

Back in the summer of 2012, I got my very first Erin Condren Life Planner. I was beside the moon excited for it! I was going to get into daily devotionals, I was going to track our TTC journey in it, and I was going be super organized for what we thought would be a 2013 PCS. Gene was deployed when I got it, and turns out I didn't use it nearly as much as I thought I would. I couldn't justify the price (starting at $50) for a second one, so I skipped the extravagance and got a dinky little planner like high school kids have to keep track of homework assignments and due dates.

Cut to now: I'm in 4 clubs out here on Okinawa and just took a board position for one of them. My dinky little planner can't keep up with everything I'm wanting it to keep up with, so I went ahead and bought me an Erin Condren Life Planner to get me through the rest of the year. I already know I'll be getting one for 2016 as well! (Come again? Are we already making plans for 2016?!)
*Ready to ship 2015 Erin Condren Life Planner from Erin Condren website
I know I want to keep track of the clubs I'm in: events, board meetings, RSVP deadlines! Beside that, there are USO events & concerts, Gene's in and out schedule, vacations to foreign countries and island getaways, setting time aside for me, and meal planning! I also want to be able to keep track of stuff with my weight loss journey- my water intake, workouts and walks, weight loss and measurements! I think I might also use it as a daily mini journal- jotting down a few things daily that I'm grateful for, or reflecting on various scripture passages through the weeks!

What really sold me to take the leap back into an Erin Condren Life Planner is that right now the planners are 40% off, since we're through almost half of the year! That was a pretty sweet deal that took the planner down from $50 to $30 and made it reasonable enough to invest in it and get back into the swing of using it!
Inside the 2015 Life Planner, from Erin Condren website
While the Erin Condren Life Planner comes with some stickers, like the "*game!" one pictured above, I hit Etsy to find some fun stickers to use in my planner with the specific things I was wanting to track in mind! I picked up some from a few different shops and will be sure to report on how I like them! I can't wait for them to come in, and of course for my planner to get here! I've heard it's looking like it might take upwards of 10 weeks (since it will probably come on a mail boat and not by plane). As long as it's here by the end of June, since that's when my current one ends!

I also picked up the Erin Condren wellness journal to try out! It is a smaller journal spanning 15 weeks. The front page is a progress chart to track weight and measurements over the 3 month span of the journal. I'm not sure if I want to be tracking that in my Life Planner, or if this little journal would be a better place to track weight and workouts! I'll be sure to let you know! I do think it will be a great place to track meals and try to find a correlation with what I eat and how it makes me feel afterwards!
*From Erin Condren Website
If you want to place an order and save $10, you can use my referral code (by clicking here) and help me get some credit towards next year's planner!

Do you have a Planner (Erin Condren or other?)
What fun stuff do you keep track of?

What are some of your favorite planner sticker shops?

Friday, April 17, 2015

My Night In The US Naval Hospital Okinawa Emergency Room

If you follow me on Instagram (@theyoungretiree) you will know that I've been sick for about the last 6 weeks or so. I've had strange abdominal discomfort mixed with pain that comes and goes. It started off light and just felt like strange fluttering palpitations. So light and sporadic that I actually wondered if I could be one of those women who suffer from an assortment of ailments (PCOS, obesity, hormonal imbalance) and didn't know she was pregnant! My first step was a pregnancy test, my most recent step was a night in the emergency room.
When I took the pregnancy test, it came back negative, as I was pretty much expecting. There was still a sliver of hope in me it could be a false negative since I had a slew of symptoms that matched pregnancy symptoms. I called the base clinic to make an appointment with my doctor. A week wait. I got in and blood work was ordered to check for obvious things. Best case scenario my doctor was thinking I was diabetic. Worst case in my head was cancer or an emergency surgery while Gene was off island! They have to send most of the labs back to the States, but from what they could process here at the clinic I was in the clear for diabetes, but suffering once again from a wonky hypothyroid.

I was referred out to Radiology at the hospital for ultrasounds to try and see what was going on in my abdomen. A two week wait from making the appointment. In the meantime I'd been dealing with nausea daily and consistently, along with sharp abdominal pains that came and went, daily, no matter what I did, that were getting worse. Last night I was sitting down, gearing up for my latest "Once Upon A Time" fest when the sharpest pain to date struck. I felt like I was being stabbed in my side. I knew I had to go to the emergency room and possibly face emergency surgery all by myself. So I did what anyone would do: I packed my hospital bag and drove down to the ER.
Me "Emergency Room Essentials" that I packed were: something to eat during long wait times (I took almonds and almond butter), my iPhone & iPad along with a charger, a toothbrush and toothpaste, deodorant, a change of clothes (I packed athletic shorts, a sports bra, and a tank top), a nightgown (should I be admitted, at least maybe they'd let me wear my own?), and socks with little grippies on the bottom (you know, in case I'm walking around the hospital room barefoot should I be admitted). I guess I hoped if I went prepared to stay, I wouldn't have to!

I was taken back into the ER almost immediately. Anyone who has ever dealt with Navy Medicine, or any ER for that fact, knows I was thinking I was in for a LONG wait! They took me right back, and got me right into a little curtain room. The doc ordered more lab work and the corpsman prepped me with an IV should surgery be coming up. Those snacks I packed? Worthless, since I was told I couldn't eat anything until surgery was ruled out.
The IV was such a fiasco. I mean, the poor kid who did it must have been brand new, and then got me? I don't do blood or needles. I just don't. Run through electric wires for Tough Mudder? Sure. Sit and get 4 tattoos? Alright. GET AN IV PUT IN?! Bring on the hysterics. It was bad, and made worse by the situation. I still have a bruise on my left arm from the kid who lost my vein about a teaspoon of blood in last week. This kid went after my right arm, inside the elbow. I felt him stick the needle in, I shed a few tears, and then I felt him wiggling the needle around looking for the vein! NO- YOU FIND THE VEIN FIRST! I couldn't breath I was so scared so he stopped to coach me through breathing and to find a new vein. This time, he found one on my hand. I'm sobbing hysterically, trying to maintain steady breathing, and feel something on my hand.

"IS THAT BLOOD RUNNING DOWN MY HAND?!" I asked him in a panic.
"Oh, don't worry, that's a good sign!" he assured me.

I'm no phlebotomist, but I'm pretty sure that's not how this works. That's not how ANY OF THIS works!
He got the IV in, I was given zofran for my nausea (which instantly caused worse nausea!) and some very strong pain meds that made me immediately loopy. I waited for my turn in X-Ray since a bedside ultrasound showed nothing. I was wheeled down to radiology, had an amazing tech take three x-rays, was wheeled back to my curtain room, and read and waited.

The staff was AWESOME. Everyone from the nurses who helped me, to the gal in radiology, to the corpsman (even the IV one who didn't slap my dramatic sobbing self). The doctor who helped me was great. Sadly- they couldn't find anything. I mean, don't get me wrong- that's great news! My liver is fine, my gall bladder is fine, my pancreas is fine! There was thankfully no emergency surgery and I was discharged around 1:30am or so. But now I sit and wait to get in for my ultrasound appointment next week to see if they see anything, and if they don't, I will be going to a GI specialist to see what could be causing me this constant nausea and this pain.

The best news is: Gene will be back for the ultrasound, so heaven forbid anything goes wrong, I won't be alone! I think I'm in for an awfully long road ahead, with several appointments and tests, where I will try my best to never say "I was on WebMD and saw _________! Maybe we should look at _________ and test for ________!"

If you are in Okinawa and ever need emergency care, based on my experience, you're in good hands with the folks at the US Naval Hospital!

Wednesday, April 15, 2015

Once Upon A Time // What I'm Watching

Back in 2011, when Once Upon A Time came on television, I watched maybe the first three episodes. In the event you haven't heard of the show, it's a spin on fairy tales. The Evil Queen from Snow White casts a curse on all of the fairy tale lands and characters, and they end up in Storybrooke, Maine, without a clue as to who they are. The show flips back and forth between their Storybrooke lives and their fairy tale stories.
Screen Grab from Netflix.
There is a little boy who lives in Storybrooke, Henry, who believes all of the townspeople are fairy tale characters. He leaves the town to go to Boston to track down his birth mother, Emma, who is the daughter of Snow White and Prince Charming, sent away from the fairyland before the curse happened, She is the savior who will break the curse, bringing back the memories of all the townspeople from before the curse, so that they know who they really are.
Cast: The Huntsman/The Sheriff, The Evil Queen/Regina, Snow White/Mary Margaret, Prince Charming/David, Rumplestiltskin/Mr. Gold, Henry, Emma 
The show starts off pretty basic: Henry was adopted by Regina, and Mary Margaret is his school teacher. Mary Margaret gives him a book of Fairy Tales and Henry pieces together that they're not just stories- the book is filled with the history of the townspeople! Emma, or course, doesn't believe him but plays along until she discovers it's true.

I have a love/hate relationship with the show and have stopped watching it twice now since starting recently. I'm so deep into it now, though! SPOILER ALERTS AHEAD! (can they even be considered spoilers this long after the show aired?) I'm in season three and can't stop!

The curse has been broken, Henry is abducted. His father gets shot trying to save him and falls into a portal back to the Enchanted Forest. Everyone thinks he's dead. Hook takes Mr. Gold, Regina, David, Mary Margaret, and Emma off on an adventure to find Henry in Neverland!

I guess I'm not supposed to, but I really like Mr. Gold/Rumplestiltskin and Capt. Hook! They're villains, but they weren't always that way, and I think they could be nice if love found them and they opened themselves up to it! Mr. Gold is finding love with Belle and Hook is on the path to fighting for love with Emma!

One of the things I like THE BEST about Once Upon A Time is the casting! Every single person really becomes the iconic fairy tale character! I could probably write an entire post comparing what my mind sees as the character and the casting hitting it right on the head! There has yet to be an actor/actress I've been disappointed in or would have wanted cast differently! Can I just say: Ginnifer Godwin makes a perfect Snow! Everything about her screams perfection with every episode! Not to mention: Colin O'Donoghue is the pirate of my dreams- like, seriously? I'd run off with him if he ever pulled into Okinawa!

Sorry, I actually have to go watch a few more episodes this afternoon- I can't even believe I'm writing this instead of sitting on the couch glued to the next episode! I'm in deep- send help!

Did you get into Once Upon A Time?
Who's your favorite character?
(I'm actually looking forward to seeing how the Wicked Witch comes into play! I saw her in an image search and am curious to see how they integrate that story in! Of course, I saw the ruby slippers in Mr. Gold's shop too, as a portal! I am also excited to catch up and see how they use Elsa in the fourth season! There have been mixed reviews, but I really liked 'Frozen' and hope it's good!)

 
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