Tag Archives: health

You are Doing Your Period Wrong!

This is a guest post…

…Hullo.

With introductions now well in the past, I’d like to turn your attention to something you are likely doing very, very wrong. You see, you get this…visitor…once a month, but no one’s properly trained you on how to deal with it. It can make you quite cranky and pain you in ways you’d like to forget, but, ah…we are women, after all.

#1 – Avoid People

Pay attention to when your flow is nearly upon you and ready yourself. This includes not making plans if you suffer a change of character (quite possibly caused by pain) that includes an increase in verbal, emotional, and physical abuse of others. This may require a developed self-awareness that too few of you seem to possess, but, well…If you KNOW you hate everything and everyone, why subject others to your moods? Be kind. Stay the fuck away.

#2 – Supplement + Hydrate

Start taking supplements a few days previous, as it takes a few days for them to be absorbed. Take, in particular, Magnesium (to kill cramps), Zinc, and Vitamins C and D (because your immune system is likely to plummet), and water (because we are generally all dehydrated). I have been doing so, and, as far as anecdotal evidence from a sample size of one goes, this works. I always tended toward illness during my periods (slight fevers ALL through my formative years), and my first day delivered the worst cramps. Well. No more now. I now have no cramps, for the most part, only a mild discomfort of oddly-shifting muscles on rare occasion. The magnesium certainly worked for my body, and it may well for yours. This is not new information and, as such, there exist Period Vitamins offered by multiple companies, which are quite specific enough, wouldn’t you say? Something to look into, perhaps. Do avail yourself of ‘the Google’.

#3 – Avoid Gassy Foods

Hopefully by now you are aware what foods make you gassy. You would do well to avoid them, as changes in your body and hormones change your gut flora, which changes the smell of your emissions, which may be much worse than normal. Expect it, and prepare. Don’t subject others to more smell than you must.

#4 – Track. Everything.

Don’t be a moron (read: my sister). Always track your period. Doesn’t matter if it’s irregular as hell, and never seems to settle. YOU NEED TO KNOW. There are plenty of apps for this, and the one I use, in particular, WomanLog Pro, is fantastic as it also allows you to track your Basal Body Temp, Fertility, Moods, Symptoms, Cervical Mucous, Frequency of Intercourse, Blood Pressure, and Weight (among, I am sure, many other things I am not yet aware of). These are all good things to know about your body and habits. How, for instance, are you to know you regularly suffer a debilitating peanut butter craving two days before your flows starts if you don’t log it? Well, perhaps your mental file cabinets are less disorganised than mine. And speaking of taking inventory…

#5 – Stock Up

If you are using pads and tampons, just…stop now. Don’t stock up. Rather, use the last of it up and then switch to….you guessed it: Menstrual Cups. Why? Well…

+ No Smell—Why do we smell? Say it with me, class: Bacteria. Well done. So. Ever noticed that pads and tampons seem to possess after a while a fragrant waft of ‘period smell’ you’d rather they not? This is because the bacteria in and outside your body is suddenly exposed to warm, moist conditions with plenty of air. And, with such a good environment, bacteria cannot help but thrive. However, producing fragrant waste is the least any organism can do. Oh, no, there’s more. Just the right (wrong) sort of microscopic critters having a party in their wet, cottony home can cause Toxic Shock Syndrome. Doesn’t that sound exciting? No? Well, the advantage of menstrual cups in this particular instance is that your tools (should be) are sterile, and the blood and tissue exiting you with all the grace of that runny porridge your mum makes which you secretly despise, is not exposed to air outside your cervix. Rather, the cup creates a tight seal, leaving you free of that particular disgusting and potentially dangerous situation.

[A/N: I have never noticed a smell when emptying my cup. None but ‘iron’, naturally.]

+ Leaves no Trace—Because Menstrual Cups are made of non-reactive silicone and do not leech chemicals [Seriously, does anyone know what tampon chemicals in your vagina actually do to us in the long run?], nor absorb moisture, your vagina can maintain its normal pH, humidity, and bacterial balance. Tampons dry you out (as anyone with a light flow is well aware) and remove your bacteria with that moisture. Be honest: when your body is already quite upset (seemingly), how much more are you inclined to continue upsetting it by making it overcompensate for your own mistakes?

…That’s what I thought.

+ Better than Coupons—You need only (at most) buy one menstrual cup a year, unless something particularly unexpected occurs. I needn’t explain, I don’t think, how one yearly purchase (if even THAT often) of 25$/15-20£/4,000-6,000¥ easily beats out the average cost per year of disposable land waste. Speaking of which…

+ Less Waste/Environmentally friendly—You needn’t contribute more to the planet’s main issue simply because you are female. Please stop using tampons. If you really can’t handle menstrual cups after trying them properly for (AT LEAST) two cycles, please help the world by switching to fabric pads.

+ Less Anxiety—Do I have enough tampons? Are they the right absorbency? Shit. I’ve got a fever. What if it’s TSS?! Oh, no. I’m leaking. Well, piss and sod. That’s another 20 quid in trousers gone. I loved that skirt once. Don’t ask me why I wore white; I haven’t a clue. Someone’s stolen the can in the girl’s toilet. Can’t flush it, sign says. What to do, what to do? What if the string slips out while I’m swimming? What if I leak into the pool? Ew. Shite, can they smell that? I really hope not. Seriously, why does this hurt so much? I swear, this tampon is making it worse! Oh, for the love of—This is what I get for sleeping on my side. For sleeping at all. Body, I’ve a query: ARE YOU QUITE FINISHED?!

How much less wound up would YOU like to be during your period, hmm? With menstrual cups, you only need to worry about access to soap/water 2-4x a day, and somewhere to dispose of your excess. Easy.

+ Sex, Apparently—Some brands of menstrual cups claim you can have sex without removing them. I don’t know about this, as I don’t have penetrative sex. However, I’d remove it anyway if I were to be having sex during my period, so…I suppose it’s a plus for those who’d like to leave it in?

+ No Leaks (disclaimer)—This is a lie, obviously. Everything will leak. Your body is leaking, after all. However, menstrual cups have far fewer instances of leakage than other options, given that the lip, when inserted properly, creates a seal. [A/N: My only leaking seems to happen at night, when (I suspect) the laying on my side breaks the seal, or when my flow is especially heavy. Regardless, my body seems to wake me up quickly enough that this is never a problem. In contrast, my body rarely woke me up for the same problem when I used tampons, and I refuse to even discuss sleeping in pads. Utterly useless.]

+ Less cramping—Your muscles are working hard enough as it is, trying to push out unused eggs. There’s no need to add more strain by shoving this too-small absorbent cotton stick up there. The tampon must be held in, but it also holds in your blood, absorbing it rather than dropping it, causing you to lose it more slowly—only so much can be absorbed at once. Your muscles have to work harder to force it out. With menstrual cups, gravity does half the work for you. Compare cramps amongst tampons vs pads users: it’s the same basic principle.

+ Feels ‘invisible’—The only part you really feel is the insertion and removal, whereas with tampons, you tend to feel this heavy damp thing sucking the life out of you, and pads are the cause of adult diaper rash. Fun.

+ Higher Capacity—Due to no (known) risk of TSS, you can keep your cup in for up to 12 hours. That’s a +4 on what the tampon packets say. Also, the actual cups hold, on average, 30ml, which is about 1/3 of your entire flow (averages, again). [A/N: My heaviest flow normally requires three changes a day. In tampons or pads, it would probably be closer to five.]

+ Shorter Period—Anecdotal evidence, again. Sample size: myself. With tampons, my period was about 5.5 days. With the cup (and supplements), I’m at about 3.75-4 days. Much preferred.

+ Self-Awareness/Body Acceptance—Using menstrual cups forces you to touch yourself in places you may be initially uncomfortable with. This is good. How else are you meant to accept your own body if you won’t get down and dirty with it? It’s only blood, bacteria, and tissue, and your hands—wait for it—wash. Your mouth is probably more nasty. Using the cup will also help you have a better understanding of your menstrual flow, which is always good.

There are Cons to adopting Menstrual Cups, of course, as there is with anything else. But most of these are no real issue with a bit of familiarity.

+ Learning Curve—Yes, there IS a learning curve. You WILL, after about the 4th attempt with leaks, figure out what you’re doing wrong, so just hang in there. But, well, if you are the sort of person who dislikes learning things…

…please just go away forever.

+ Anatomy—This is a legitimate problem for some people. It could be that your body really doesn’t work well with anything you insert, or it may just be that you are a tiny person trying to use a DivaCup instead of an Asian brand that is significantly smaller. Try many things, and even ask your doctor your options before giving up.

+ Messy—Given that you grasp the end of the cup and dump the contents into the toilet, then wash the cups, it IS a bit messy, yes. But there is toilet paper, water, and soap available to you in most toilets. And, again, your hands wash.

+ Sanitisation—According to the instructions in the packet, the cups will require sanitising every so often. I have literally never done this, and I have had my cup well over a year. I wash mine with warm water. I expect only those of you who have shifty, uncertain, or poor immune systems will ever run into a problem with a lack of sanitisation. ***To be fair, I am NOT suggesting you actually go against the instructions in the package. For cleanliness’ sake, you should probably use soap and water, at least, and sanitise as the package says. Just because I am irresponsible does NOT mean you should be, too!!!***

So, yeah, there are a few bad points, but most of these you will become accustomed to, and habits will form, and it will be like anything else you’ve learnt to do in your life.

Perhaps one day it will be normal for us all to use menstrual cups.

Perhaps it will be widely known that cramps are mostly due to vitamin and mineral deficiency.

And, hey, perhaps being forced to touch ourselves in ways we tend to avoid will make people more open to masturbation (since it can’t be more gross than your period) and everyone will magically be less cranky.

…I can dream, can’t I? Hah.

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Colonoscopy Tips & Tricks

For some, this post will be TMI; however, the number of people that will benefit from this information outweighs any possible embarrassment on my part.

Colonoscopy preps are the absolute worst. Every time I get scheduled for one, I never seem to  remember how much they suck; I just want to go and get it done. I start out feeling perfectly fine about the whole thing. And then I go to the pharmacy where they hand me this large bottle of powder, and I remember.

I do NOT enjoy colonoscopies, nor do I know anyone who does. Now, I was lucky enough to have an uncle who had a couple procedures done before I was ever scheduled, so I was already somewhat familiar with them, but many people who are going in for a colonoscopy do not have any previous exposure. So, I have decided to write up some tips, tricks, and general information about colonoscopies based on my own experiences.

[Please note that I am only 25, and–at the time of writing this–tomorrow will be my fourth colonoscopy. Absurd, I know. No one seems to be able to tell me what is wrong with my gut/digestion. I’ve also had two capsule endoscopies (camera-pill), with no luck. Despite my previous exposure to colonoscopies, I was scared out of my mind when I had my first in 2013. Though, to be fair, I think was more frightened what they’d find, and anxious to find an answer for my illness, rather than concerned with the actual procedure itself, but I digress.]

The information below is the result of my meager experiences. It is important to keep in mind that everyone’s experiences with medical staff and procedures will differ to some degree, and your own experience may be quite different.

 

Things to do BEFORE “prep” day

  • Stock your bathroom–Make sure your bathroom is stocked with toilet paper, a clean trashcan, moisturizing soap, and something to keep you occupied, as you are going to spend a ridiculous amount of time on the toilet.
  • Plan your meals–You are going to want a variety of liquids to keep your body functioning the day of your colonoscopy, as you will not be able to have anything solid! (Some gastroenterologists will require that you are on a liquid diet for 2-3 days before your procedure. It is always best to listen to what your doctor tells you to do as it may affect your procedure.) DO NOT CONSUME RED FOODS/DRINKS! Other colors may be restricted as well, per your doctor’s. instructions.[My first colonoscopy, I could not have anything red, orange, purple, or blue. I have included a list of appropriate food suggestions below.]
  • Prepare to be a hermit–Perform any errands that might be necessary before you have to start your prep, as you probably will not want to leave the house once prep begins. You really will be spending most of your time on the toilet.
  • Ask Questions–If you have any questions for your doctor or for the endoscopy center, make sure you ask them. Do not be afraid to ask them a million questions; it is their job to make you feel at ease and to help you understand exactly what it is that you need to do and what will happen during your procedure.
  • Ponder your wardrobe–Have comfortable clothing to wear as you will not want to wear anything too binding. Also make sure you have several pairs of clean underwear, once you get going, accidents can happen with (hardly any) notice.

 

“Foods” to Prepare Remember NO red!!!

  • Jellos/Non-Dairy Gelatins — [I like to keep lemon and lime on hand. Before my most recent colonoscopy, I also had apricot. Apricot does not really have a strong flavor, so it wasn’t my favorite, as I enjoy the flavors.]
  • Gatorades and/or Pedialyte — Yes, Pedialyte is marketed for children, but it is also fine for adults. It is generally flavored nicely, and it can help soothe an angry tummy. [I like to have Pedia-pops when I have been really sick. It helps me to rehydrate slowly.]
  • Juices — Any translucent juice without pulp. For example: Apple juice, white grape, white cranberry, etc. DO NOT, however, have normal grape juice, red cranberry, or a juice that has bits of fruit floating in it; this can cause you to not clean out properly before your procedure, or may dye your intestinal walls, which may mean that you have to do it all over again on another day (and, seriously, who wants to do this twice?).
  • Popsicles — Again, anything without red dye and without pulp should be fine. The root beer flavor has red dye–watch out for that! Some browns are not true brown.  [I personally like the banana twin pops.]
  • Broths – Make sure you get broth that does not have any bits of the animal still floating in it. Also avoid any powders that have added herbs in them. [I made this mistake and accidentally bought one with parsley in it, which likes to cling to the walls of your intestines when you are empty.]
  • Clear sodas – Lemon, lime, ‘dry’/’sparkling’ sodas, ginger ale.
  • Teas and/or coffees WITHOUT dairy — Try not to consume the dregs/flower bits. -[My favorite is ginger tea, because I get very nauseated during the prep, and ginger can help settle your stomach.]

 

Bathroom Stock:

  • PLENTY OF TOILET PAPER!! I cannot stress this enough.
  • Medicated cooling pads and/ or liquid witch hazel — to soothe your rectum when it begins to feel raw and abused, or in case of hemorrhoids.
  • Moisturizing hand soap — Your hands will get extremely dry with both the dehydration of the prep itself, as well as the repeated hand-washing.
  • Vaseline (Petroleum Jelly)/body-safe Oil — Never underestimate the power of proper moisturizers
  • Pads/Adult Diapers (Optional)–If you have ‘accidents’, and don’t wish to keep putting your clothes through the laundry. Sometimes, it’s fantastic to be able to throw sullied things away. (Don’t tell the environmentalists. << inserted by an environmentally conscious friend.)

 

Prep Day

Your doctor or the hospital will give you instructions on how to conduct your prep. My first time, I had to take four prescription laxative pills, wait four hours, then start my golytely. I had stayed up late the night before, so an alarm woke me up to take the pills; I took them and fell back asleep. I woke up with the worst stomach pains I had ever had. I ran to the bathroom and cried as my body cramped up, trying to release my stool. I will warn you now that the first poop is the absolute worst, and smell is really bad. And…I’m afraid it doesn’t get much better.

If you have a powdered prep like Golytely, mix it several hours before you need to start and put it in the fridge. I would suggest using the flavoring packet if you can because it really doesn’t taste great. If you are using Miralax, pick a gatorade flavor that you will be fine with hating by the end of it. If you are using Magnesium Citrate drinks, you will probably want them only chilled slightly, and you will want an extra. My stomach tends to reject Magnesium Citrate for some reason, and my step-sister has dropped one and broken it before, so it is always good to have a back-up.

For the majority of people, the cramping pain goes away once the stool softens.Personally, I get a cramping before each BM–which is often. My uncle describes this process as “peeing from your butt,” and I cannot think of a better way to put it.

You start out with almost a hardened-cork of a bowel movement. It is hard and it hurts. If you tear a little bit and have a bit of blood on the toilet tissue, use one of the medicated wipes or a little bit of witch hazel on your toilet paper to soothe your rectum. The cramping that you get (if you get it) will continue to increase until you start having soft bowel movements. This progresses to a toothpaste-like consistency for a little bit, and then you may get a burst of air. I’ll be frank, this will feel like your rectum is vomiting. The wet bit is coming.

Your body’s initial response (or at least mine) is to try to stop you from having an accident, even though you are on the toilet. It may be hard at first to get your muscles to relax enough for you to release the fluid. The first couple times this happens will be very strange indeed. [By this point, I am normally wearing a pad constantly, due to the frequency of accidents.

Once the build-up of stool is out of the way, the real craziness begins. Every. Single. Poop. Will be fluid, and it will be often. So many times have I thought I was finished, washed my hands, and suddenly the urgency is there again. Now, there will come a point where the toilet paper starts to feel like sandpaper (naturally). This is when you are going to want to use vaseline or some other body-safe moisturizing oil, such as coconut oil. Dip a bit of toilet paper into the container of petroleum jelly/oil and wipe it on. This serves to save your poor behind from so much agitation with the dry tissue.

[To me, this feels very nasty, so I take another piece of toilet paper and wipe along again to move a bit of the jelly off. This practice has helped me immensely.] Because of the number of times you go, you will also want a moisturizing hand soap, because a normal hand soap will dry out your hands very quickly.

*Since I am hypoglycemic, my blood sugar will plummet about halfway through my prep, and there isn’t much of anything I can do to boost it back up. Many times I have to tell them to check my blood sugar at the hospital before they take me back for the procedure. I generally end up having a bag of dextrose, which is basically sugar water in IV form during the procedure. Because of my hypoglycemia I will start to feel very sick, I will get shaky, and I will start to feel like I am freezing. If any of these things happen, don’t get too frightened. If you are diabetic or hypoglycemic, check your blood sugar if you can, if you are low, call your doctor and see what they recommend.*

Blood sugar will not be a problem for most people. However, my body doesn’t hold onto the juice or even jello long enough for my body to absorb the sugar, and so I end up doing something that you really SHOULD NOT do! I take some pretzels and I suck on them one at a time, careful not to swallow any of the pretzel itself. It doesn’t raise my blood sugar much, but the tiny bit it does helps my body to settle down so that I can finish my prep. (Please treat this kind of solution as a last resort if you have this problem, and follow your doctor’s instructions.)

You are going to feel like you are starving. That’s just how it is. BUT, no matter how much you feel like this, DO NOT EAT ANYTHING!!! You really don’t want to have to do this all over again and have your initial prep be for nothing. Do not give in to your cravings. If you are wanting something savory, drink some broth; if you want sweets, have jello. Clear, hard candies really help with this ‘starvation’. Most preps will let you have hard candy as long as it is not any of the restricted colors. It is something that you can suck on for a while, and at the end it is something harder for your teeth to chew… though, your dentist may have something to say about that.

You may feel dehydrated. Gatorade and water are great for this, but it WILL move through you quite quickly. You should note that if you chug a gatorade or a bottle of water, within 10 minutes you are going to be going to the bathroom again. There is nothing solid to absorb it in your gut. So, if you want to take a nap before the procedure, make sure that you do not drink anything within 30-or-so minutes of trying to sleep as you will just need to get back up, as you might have an accident while sleeping.

 

Procedure Day

Drink nothing after the time the medical staff tells you. For some people, it is a set number of hours before the procedure. For others, the rule is nothing after midnight the night before. Three of my procedures allowed me liquids up to 4 hours before, but my first procedure was a lot worse. I wasn’t allowed fluids of any kind after midnight. My colonoscopy was not scheduled until after 1pm, and I waited at the hospital for another hour before they were ready for me. Fourteen hours with no water made me extremely dehydrated and the nurses ended up having to stick me FIFTEEN times (not exaggerating).

[When they finally got a good stick in my vein, the nurse somehow poked the needle through the IV line and it started to leak. They told me that they would have to poke me again. I was so fed up by this point I told them, rather angrily: “If you take that IV out, I am walking out of here. You are NOT going to poke me again.” They accused me of having an anxiety problem. In the end, they taped the line and it held well enough to work for the procedure.

That being said, my other three procedures went by fine. My second one, the nurse was able to  get it in one go, and I didn’t even feel it. So, don’t be too scared by my story above.]

You’re going to want a designated driver. Every colonoscopy that I have had done, I was under some kind of anesthesia. You cannot drive yourself if you have anesthesia. They generally will not even admit you for the procedure if you do not have a driver with you the whole time.

They will take you back into a room and have you change into a gown, nothing on under it. For some, this can be very embarrassing, but–I am sorry to be harsh–you need to get over it. For the doctors there, your naked body is NOT special. They have seen it all. They do not look at you in any sort of sexual way.

If you are being put under for your colonoscopy, a nurse will come in and start an IV line. They may or may not run blood tests. This is different for each location, or if you have special considerations. When they are ready for you, they will come and wheel you into the procedure room.

This room can look a little scary at first–there are wires and monitors and tools, etc. all around you…bright lights, people moving around–It may seem a little chaotic once everyone gets in there, but try not to worry. They will ask you to roll onto your left side and pull your knees up to your chest (fetal position) which will give them better access once you are put under.

Someone will bring in some medicine to make you sleepy, but don’t worry, you will have people monitoring you the whole time to make sure you are okay. Your eyes will close, and the next thing you know you will be back in your room wondering what happened.

Now, some locations do the anesthesia for a colonoscopy a little differently, so I am going to walk you through what I remember with my first colonoscopy, and my latest.

Narrative:

My first colonoscopy, I arrived at the hospital and waited, as you do. Eventually, I was taken back into a room and given a really ugly gown to change into. My ex-wife (married at the time) was there with me. I changed and waited for a while longer.

The first nurse came in to ask some questions with a trainee nurse to start my IV. The Trainee gave me my first five pokes before she asked the other nurse to step in. I was poked three times in my left elbow crevice, twice in my left forearm, twice in that hand. Three times in the right crevice, twice in my right hand, and then three times in my right forearm before they got it. Ridiculous.

As I stated above, I was fairly unhappy with them, especially when the IV started to leak and they wanted to change it out. I honestly thought my ex was going to hit one of them.

They then took me back to a room that I cannot really remember. I was asked to lay on my left side and curl up with my right knee bent to my chest. And then there was a large white syringe, and I was getting fuzzy. The clear syringe started, and they made me open my mouth and started to put in this funnel sort of thing before I was fully out, and there was music. (Full surgical anesthesia was used.)

I was back in my room and I couldn’t see clearly. My ex took a video and I only remember bits and pieces of the whole thing before a certain point. But, somehow, I woke up thinking that I was Taylor Swift (whose music I really do not enjoy). I told my ex that I was not really a good little southern girl, that I was really from New York and that I slept with the person who carried my guitar. And I did NOT know who my ex was, which made her fairly upset. **If you have never had anesthesia before, this will undoubtedly be a learning experience for you. ENSURE you have someone else with you! They will be able to speak to the medical staff on your behalf while you are not quite aware.**

Several times, the machine I was hooked up to stopped beeping, and my head would thrash about for several seconds. I found out years later that I was actually having an allergic reaction to one of the anesthesia meds that I was given (Versed), which causes seizure-like activity when administered without a high dose of paralytic.

It took me over an hour to wake up enough to be able to leave. The nurse was not kind at all during this, and kept telling my ex to stop worrying about what was going on. I probably should have been kept for observation because of my reaction, but they were not the best hospital ever.

Now, that was the worst experience that I have had at a hospital.My second procedure was much better, and they used a lighter anesthesia than the other hospital. It comes out of your system very quickly and you wake up almost feeling completely normal. Much preferred.

My latest procedure went fairly well. I was taken to a room, a nurse came in to ask me some questions. I waited maybe fifteen minutes before a tech came in to take me into the procedure room. The tech was a little all over the place, which made me a bit nervous, but the anesthesiologist’s calm demeanor helped me to relax. I answered several more questions, was asked to lay in position and was given a nice dose of Propofol. The anesthesiologist said, “This may burn a little, but you won’t care in about 30 seconds.” I felt the meds hit my brain and mumbled, “oh, yeah.” He asked, “It burns?,” and I said, “Nope, I’m floaty; goodnight,” and I was out. That is the clearest I have remembered a conversation with an anesthesiologist.

I was aware of sounds as we were coming out of the procedure room. I remember being wheeled into my room, the tech talking to my ride. I remember trying really hard to open my eyes. I was really cold. Come on, you can do it, just tell them you are cold. Nothing. Come on, just open your eyes and tell them you are cold. Again, nothing. Oh my god, this is so frustrating; I just want a blanket. Sigh. I kept pushing to talk or open my eyes. The tech left, some time passed, a nurse came in to ask my ride what I might like to drink when I wake up.Come on!!! Tell them you are cold. — “Cold.” Nurse: “What was that.” “I’m cold.” FINALLY! I still couldn’t open my eyes, but I said it.

I got a blanket and finally got my eyes open. I was told later that I told the nurse several times both before and after the blanket that I was cold. Seems like my mouth was trying to catch up with my brain. I had to keep reminding myself to stay on my left side so that I could pass gas.

Speaking of gas….

 

Aftermath

You may wake up feeling groggy. Your driver has been given instructions to make sure that you stay laying on your side. During the procedure, they filled your colon up with air so that they could see clearly what was going on inside you. They cannot just suck this air out–as that can damage your intestines–it has to come out on its own. The best way for this to happen is for you to lay on your left side. It gives a mostly-direct path for the air to move along. If you roll over onto your back or your right side, the air will start to move back up your intestines and get trapped in pockets that will cause very bad cramps. I highly advise against it.

Generally, they will make you stay in recovery until you have passed several big pockets of gas. If you have some cramping during this time, it is normal. Also, if you pass fluid or wake up in a damp or wet bed, this is also normal, as your body sometimes doesn’t release all the fluid from your prep. If you ask nicely, the nurses will generally be willing to change the pad that you are laying on so that you are more comfortable.

Once you finish waking up, your hunger will begin to return full-force. Depending on what was found during your colonoscopy, you may be able to leave and go eat. However, you may end up being put on a continued liquid or soft diet. It is important to listen to what your doctor tells you.

You will continue to pass gas throughout the day, and you may want to continue wearing a pad or adult diaper, because there could still be more fluid that hasn’t made it out, and your body could still react as if it still has a present laxative. After my third colonoscopy, I had two accidents several hours after I left. This is not abnormal.

For the rest of the day, try to take it easy. If you were under anesthesia, you will not be able to drive or make any legal decisions for at least 12 hours. Personally, I like to go home and sleep, because I don’t really get much sleep the night before, due to the prep instructions of my local hospital. [I have to wake up at 5 am and drink the last 1/4th of the prep fluid, then I visit the toilet for the next 1-2 hours. By the time I get to the hospital, I have probably only had between 1-4 hours of sleep in total, so I am ready to go back to bed.]

I hope that this has helped you to feel more comfortable with your procedure and answered some of your questions. If you still have any questions, feel free to comment below and I will answer as best as I can.

Good luck!

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Where Have I been?

Well, shit. I had half of this typed out and then my computer crashed and for some stupid reason, auto-save got nothing. So I am going to try to remember what I typed and try again.

Life is crazy. This is not really an exception for anyone. But when you live with chronic illness, you have even more insanity ruling your day to day life. Also: Severe writers block. I wanted to write, but writing just wasn’t happening. And this was in all forms—okay, almost all, but typing in a chat is very different than everything else. I have only just started to go out and make friends again as I have lost most of what I had to misunderstandings and non-acceptance of my current medical and mental health.

I know this isn’t really an answer yet, but bear with me a moment.

It has been just over a year since I last posted, so where have I been?

In the last year I have had 3 surgeries, I have had several diagnoses given and taken away over and over, and I have lost many friends.

What I know about my health:

What I knew before: Psoriasis, Asthma, Scoliosis, Migraines, Hypoglycemia,

What I have found out the last couple of years:

I have gastroparesis – I cannot digest food properly on my own.

I have Endometriosis.

I may or may not have Crohns disease

I have Psudo-seizures–this basically means that the doctors don’t know what causes my occasional seizure activity, only that it is non-epileptic. I did have one EEG that was borderline, which is odd. It was also the closest EEG that I have had to a seizure, so that may have something to do with it, I don’t know.

Last January I had serious seizures while coming out of anesthesia from one of my surgeries. I was given a dose of Ativan to try to gain control of the situation, I did not respond to the medication. A second dose was administered which sent me into respiratory failure. I was “hand-bagged” for 30 minutes until they got me stabilized and I was able to be moved into ICU.

I only remember flashes of what was going on. Someone calling my name again and again. A woman saying “It’s been five minutes, here she goes again.”, Coming to slightly and asking for my mom but being told no, feeling like I wanted to cry.

The next thing I knew I was in a strange room with lots of wires. My friend was sitting next to my bed. There was a mean nurse. I remember being told to try to pee, and nothing happening. And a catheter.

Wanting to sleep but someone kept poking my head. Flashing lights. Being in pain.

I honestly don’t remember a lot. The poking and the flashing belonged to an EEG, which came out borderline epileptic, however, I was not told anything about it until months later when I talked to my neurologist about the results.

This isn’t the full list, I’m sorry, you don’t get to know all the answers. I don’t know everyone who reads these and only certain people get all the details of what goes on in my life. If you have a question, feel free to ask.

Time goes on and I realize that it has been a ridiculous amount of time since I have posted. My two other surgeries went fairly well and I have recovered by this point.

I still don’t have all the answers, and I suspect that I will probably end up AWOL again, don’t judge me too harshly for it, I am just one person struggling to survive.

A Girl on the Edge of the Wild.

–The Resident Femme–

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Dealing with chronic illness!

Who knew when I was diagnosed with Psoriasis when I was a child that it would lead to a life of health problems? Not my family and most certainly not me. So here I am, over 20 years later writing a post about my life and wondering if I will keep uncovering new issues connected to Psoriasis as I continue my life.

I was very young when I was diagnosed with Psoriasis; somewhere between 2 and 4 years old. The biggest things I remember about having Psoriasis were: It’s itchy, scalp treatments were painful, the smell of tea tree oil, and being reminded over and over again about how I painted my expensive ointment all over the brick wall of my grandparent’s house. Yeah, I will never live that one down. Ever.

I was frustrated because I would be teased for having a flakey scalp. (In junior high, my personal bully went around telling everyone that I had fungus. Partly because of my psoriasis and partly because after my parent’s divorced, my father didn’t force me to take a bath, so I could go a month or more without bathing—I didn’t have much of a sense of hygiene then. Though my mom usually tried to get me in the tub when I visited her if she could.)

It wasn’t until I was an adult that I actually took the time to learn about psoriasis. Up until that point, I had thought that Psoriasis was a skin issue. I was surprised to find out what it really was. Psoriasis: “A condition in which skin cells build up and form scales and itchy, dry patches.” The basic definition doesn’t actually give any information about what psoriasis really is.

First, Psoriasis isn’t contagious. Second, it is NOT a skin condition. So what IS psoriasis? Psoriasis is a life-long auto-immune disorder. It is not curable. My immune system basically attacks itself.

According to Psoriasis connect, “Normally, skin cells that form in the deepest layers of your skin make their way to the surface of your skin. They then flake off and are replaced with new skin cells. This takes about a month. However, in people with psoriasis, the immune system sends signals that make skin cells grow faster than normal. Cells move to the surface of the skin in about four days. Since they move so quickly, they don’t have time to fully mature and flake off.”

There are many types of psoriasis: Plaque psoriasis, Guttate psoriasis, Inverse psoriasism Pustular Psoriasis, Erythrodermic psoriasis, and Psoriatic Arthritis. (Learn more here)

I personally have a few of these, luckily, still fairly mild. I have plaque psoriasis (red patched covered in silvery white scales) on my feet and on my scalp, though I used to have it in my ears and on my back and every once in a while I get it on the backs of my hands. I get guttate psoriasis (small red dots) on my limbs and torso. Inverse psoriasis (smooth, red patched without scales) in similar areas to the guttate psoriasis. And I am fairly certain that I have psoriatic arthritis, though I have not yet been diagnosed.

What you do not learn right away is that it is considered an inflammatory disease. Basically the immune system’s response is to protect your body against infection and disease through inflammation. So certain parts of my immune system are over active.

Now, a reader might wonder why all this is relevant, and that has to do with the last several years of my life. I’m going to give a little back story about my “recent” health.

Spring 2007 – Abdominal pain, vomiting, fever high enough to hallucinate. I was eventually taken to urgent care who sent me to the ER. They ran blood tests and gave me a CT, but were unsure as to why I was having my symptoms. I was told that I could possibly have Chronic Appendicitis, ovarian cysts, or a third option that I cannot remember. I had noticed around this point that sometimes I didn’t feel right after eating, my stomach would feel heavy. I just attributed it to eating too much junk food.

My eating habits didn’t concern me much. I knew that certain foods made me feel sick, and I avoided them without thinking about why I couldn’t stand them.

2009-2010 I started college in Virginia. I kept ending up in the campus health office with abdominal issues. And each time they were convinced that it was a UTI. One time they ran a culture and found I had a yeast infection, no UTI, and no idea why I was in so much pain.

Wait, that really didn’t give you any information. The important date to remember was in the spring—2010. (I know it was then because I had just started talking to my ex-girlfriend again and she was pissed at how health services had treated me and wanted to go smack them, however she was in Utah and could do nothing.) I had woken up in the morning for class and had gotten an email that class was canceled that morning, I was relieved and went back to sleep. It was around lunch time when I woke up sitting straight up in bed, clutching my stomach and crying out in pain. I tried to get up and realized that I could not move.

Initially I tried to call my roommate, no answer. RA, no answer.  A girl who lived down the hall in my dorm finally answered, she was eating and wanted to know what I wanted. I couldn’t respond, I just started crying, the pain was increasing. She was suddenly very serious: “Luna, where are you?” I croaked out my response and she hung up. When she arrived she helped me put on shoes and supported me all the way to the health services office, half dragging me most of the way. I made her leave me there so that she could finish eating her lunch.

Health services ran tests, and told me “if your pain gets any worse, you will need to go to the ER.” (Keep in mind that I couldn’t move I was in so much pain, They probably should have sent me into the ER then.) I went to my Japanese class, trying to pretend that I was not in pain, and that is when my ex called me in response to my text message saying that I wasn’t feeling very well. She was not very happy.

A couple days later, it was gone and I returned to my life, fairly normally—for me anyway.

6 months later, start of sophomore year, I had a strange experience. I could not stop eating. I felt like I was starving. I ate over 4000 calories on day one, and probably over 5000 on day two. (day one: bagles with cream cheese, fruit, doughnuts, Subs, chips, cookies, soda, fried chicken, potato salad, chips, extra chicken, more potatoes, snacks… went to bed hungry. Day 2, same breakfast items, similar lunch, 2 large plates of shrimp scampi –I even drank the butter sauce—3 bananas, spaghetti-o’s, protein bars, granola bars, other food I cannot remember.) I was at my girlfriend of the time’s house. I was shaking, nauseated, could hardly move. Had an on and off fever ranging from 96*F to 104*F over a couple of minutes.

I was forced to go to the hospital. Seriously. She had a very strong male friend carry me down 3 flights of stairs and put me into a car. He then drove over 100MPH to the hospital while on the phone with dispatch so that we wouldn’t get pulled over.

It was a long wait in the ER waiting room. I ended up having severe Diarrhea a few times before they took me back to a room. (and then the nurse, worse nurse ever. Couldn’t find my vain, so she kept pumping the damn needle all over in my arm, without taking it out. I told her I was going to puke and she didn’t believe me. I told her again and was ignored. It took my GF threatening her to get her to give me a puke bag, which I immediately filled.) They found my Blood sugar to be severely low. In the 50’s. I was given an injection of sugar water into my IV. When my blood pressure was read, it was low enough that they had to keep me over night.

Again, no answers.

Over the next couple of years, my chronic abdominal pain and nausea got more prominent. Winter 2012, Getting ready for work I collapsed in the hall in pain and had uncontrollable vomiting. At first was accused of making it up to get out of going to work. I insisted on a hospital trip when it got to the point where I couldn’t breathe much. My CT scan found a growth on my ovaries, they were unsure if it was cancer or a cyst. Ultrasound showed several cysts on either ovary. (we are still unsure if they were the cause of the pain.)

Every time I got abdominal pain for the next year, I blamed it on a cyst bursting and just took a Vicodin and slept. However, 2013, my body started to revolt. Diarrhea, vomiting, constipation, vomiting, diarrhea. I went to the Dr and was sent to a gastroenterologist. I had a stool test, a urine test, and many blood tests. Finding nothing, I was sent in for a colonoscopy and endoscopy. They found nothing, even in their biopsies.

Very shortly after that test, my life went to hell. My wife attempted suicide and I lived in constant pure anxiety for over 2 weeks. I couldn’t eat, I couldn’t sleep. I lost 30lbs. Constantly nauseated.

When I returned to Utah, I had to retrain my body how to accept food. I had to eat tiny amounts of food whenever I could. My nausea didn’t stop.

August or September 2013 I was out late and ate a plate of smothered nacho’s, almost exactly 3 hours later it came back up. There was no stomach acid in it. It tasted just like it did going down. This was confusing and strange. I stopped eating beef. For a little while my stomach seemed to settle. I had moved in with a friend family and I had less stress in my life.

October 19, 2014: I thought I had food poisoning. I woke up at 3am vomiting. I couldn’t keep anything down throughout the day, not even tiny amounts of water. After over 12hours, I was taken to the Emergency room. After several tests, it was assumed that a cyst must have burst. I was told that I would feel fine within a couple of days. A couple days later, I visited my Primary care Physician because my pain had not improved. I was sent in for a pelvic ultrasound to check on my ovaries. They found no obvious cysts.

By the 23rd, I still had not improved and went back to my doctor. He was very concerned and sent me back to the hospital for blood work and a repeated CT scan. CT was normal, but blood work showed a possible issue with my pancreas. I was given IV therapy with nausea medication and sent home on a strict liquid diet for a few days.

By the 27th, (after more doctor visits) I was referred to a gastroenterologist who I got to see on November 7th. After many tests over the next several months. I had a Hida scan and it was determined that I should have my gallbladder removed. (January 22nd 2015). After recovery and healing, it was decided that the gallbladder had not been my issue, and it was getting worse.

February 8th, I had a gastric emptying study and was diagnosed with delayed gastric emptying (or gastroparesis).

July 28th, had more tests and was put on creon, a pancreatic enzyme to help with digestion. Also started on a medication called Pentasa that I didn’t start right away (probably waited about a month)

November 9th, I had a capsule study. I had results in a little over a week and was diagnosed with Crohn’s.

Did I lose you yet? I’ll connect everything now. Crohn’s Disease is…an autoimmune disorder! (yup, another one!) When I looked it up, it is more likely for someone that has Psoriasis to also have Crohn’s, though it doesn’t cause it. So what is Crohn’s? My immune system causes inflammation (and ulcers) in my gastrointestinal tract. (Find out more here)

So, treatment of Crohn’s comes in a few levels. First is a special anti-inflammatory called Aminosalicylates. (This is my Pentasa). Now, Pentasa has done nothing for me, so my gastroenterologist added an immunemodulator or suppressant. It increases my risk of infection and puts me at higher risk of developing cancer. I am currently on Imuran on top of my Pentasa. If this class of medications do not work I will have a class called “Biologics” added to my medications. They have to be given via injection or IV therapy.

I thought that finding a diagnosis, I would be relieved. But I am still stressed and feeling hopeless. Partly because I am showing signs of other autoimmune disorders that are slowly showing their ugly heads. I don’t know where my life is leading me right now, but I have to keep trying to fight to keep positivity in my life. Just because I am sick, doesn’t mean that I do not want to have friends.

Maybe things will improve, maybe they won’t, but it is not worth giving up.

~The Resident Lesbian~

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HIATUS AND HEALTH

I apologize for not posting recently, and I do not know when I will be up to posting again. I have been dealing with some severe health issues and may be having an emergency surgery tomorrow after a procedure to check and see if I have a blockage caused by a hernia.

I hope to be back writing again soon.

The Resident Femme

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#16 Child Abuse and DCFS

DCFS – Department of Child and Family Services

I was in a situation about a year and a half ago where I was put in a tough place. I was living in a home where the owner of the home was abusing a very young dependent. The other people living in the house had witnessed the abuse before but were unwilling to report the abuse because of repercussions to them. I had the choice to either ignore the abuse and watch the child continue to be put in dangerous situations, or report the situation and have everyone else feel the backlash in a rash way.

Here is the story with identities removed, though those that were associated with the situation or that know me well know exactly who these people were.

People in this story:
Female Head of Household (abuser)
Mother of child
Child (3 year old male)

Renters:
(Couple and 14 year old daughter)
Myself.

Others:
Day care teacher
DCFS case worker
Non-important side people

I was told stories about situations that had happened before I had moved in. Stories of yelling at the child for no reason, of changing rules on him, of rewarding bad behavior and punishing good behavior. The list was ridiculous. I knew the other people well and I knew that sometimes things with these people were blown out of proportion… So I tried to tell myself that things weren’t as bad as they said that they were.

I will skip unimportant background for lead up to this.

All of us renters were hanging out in a bedroom watching a movie when we heard the slap echo down the hallway. The male in the couple jumped up about as fast as I was and we were running neck and neck toward the sound. We both saw the FHoH raise her foot to the child, who was sitting on a pillow, and kick him hard enough to send him sliding across the floor. The child screamed, the man yelled, I yelled and reached for the child as the man put himself between her and us.

She claimed that she had not done what we had seen her do. It’s possible that she did not realize that she had done it, but she had left marks on the child.

I was furious.

I tried to give the situation the benefit of the doubt. I contacted the child’s mother and told her that if she cared about her son, that she would get herself in a safer situation (stop doing drugs) and come and be a mother to her child, for his safety. I told her that I was only giving her one chance.

Initially she returned. She woke me up at 3am and asked me what happened. Then she took off with the child. She had taken him with her so that she could still do drugs. When they finally returned, the child was sick, had no shoes, and his socks were soaked.

I was done.

This is not how to raise a 3 year old.

So, I emailed DCFS. I knew that I had no other option and, having been abused as a child, I could not watch another child go through abuse.  (In between the time that she took him and the time that he was returned, I had talked to several people that I knew about what was going on. Each of them told me that they would contact DCFS as well. I don’t know how many of them did in the end, but I know that I was not the only one. Some of these people even saw some of the abuse first hand.

DCFS took forever to respond. The first day the caseworker showed up (luckily it was only the renters and I home) she asked about where the child went daily. He happened to be at preschool currently so she was off to visit him there. The renters were not pleased with me initially. I was told off a bit. But I was not going to let them make me feel guilty for what I had done.

A few weeks later the DCFS case worker returned and found the FHoH alone with the child (who had bruising). The child told the woman that it was paint. FHoH somehow found out that I had been the one that turned her in. She screamed at all of us. Initially the Couple tried to take the blame for what had happened, but I couldn’t stand her yelling at the wrong people. So I yelled right at her that she was right all along, I had done it and I would do it again.

She kicked us all out.

I was told later by the other renters that they had been scared. They felt guilty for not reporting it, but one of them had been in the foster system and had, had a very bad experience.

Sadly, the people of the house were able to weave a lie and the child was not removed from the situation. However, eventually the mother was sent to jail and then was put under house arrest and a forced “rehab” (via house arrest at a location separate to where she had been living) the child was in a safer environment.

So, while I cannot guarantee that foster care is the best option for an abused child, or that DCFS will be able to do their job properly. Reporting child abuse is always the best option. If you know or think a child is being physically, emotionally, or sexually abused please contact the Department of Child and Family Services closest to you.

Because of that situation, I am also in a much safer living arrangement and I can focus on me.

I am unable to provide more details about this situation at this time. However if anyone has any questions about anything mentioned here, feel free to visit me on Facebook or email me at confess.liplezzy@gmail.com

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#13 “You’ve Lost Weight! You Look Great!” Isn’t a Compliment – A response

“You’ve Lost Weight! You Look Great!” Isn’t a Compliment.

I have started reading some other blogs and I stumbled upon this post about why thin isn’t always good, and though it isn’t the same as my situation with weight, it is still something that I feel strongly about.

For much of my life I tried to gain weight and sat at a very unhealthy underweight number. I ate as much as I could and still couldn’t gain any weight. My father threatened me on several occasions to take me to the hospital and have them hook a feeding tube to me. (Though as an adult, I know that it wouldn’t have done anything, nor would the hospital actually have tried anything at that point.)

I was teased constantly for being skinny. My nickname in Jr. High was Toothpick, I was told “You’re so skinny, I can see right through you.” and “Sorry, I didn’t see you, you were turned sideways.” Or other such things that people thought were harmless, but actually really hurt.

I always felt tiny and incomplete. Then I would have these girls struggling to lose weight telling me to shut-up because I had the perfect body and they wanted to look like me, and I was just begging for attention, and I would feel worse. I was always insecure in my body, until I started gaining a little weight. I didn’t feel attractive until I hit 116 lbs.

I was moving apartments and saw myself in the reflection of the outside glass door and thought “Damn, I look good!” with an immediate follow up, “What the hell? I never think that.” When our scale was unpacked I was euphoric to see that I had finally put on some fat and muscle.

When I was growing up–and she is not going to agree with me, but–I thought my mother was the most beautiful woman alive. She was my mommy and I wanted to be just like her. I wanted to have her gorgeous red hair and her beautiful woman curves. I wanted to cry every time she told us (my siblings and I) that she was fat.

Oh, I argued with her. “No, you’re not fat, you’re beautiful.”, “You’re not fat, you’re mommy.” etc. etc. When she was younger she had been thin like I was… and then she had been in a motorcycle accident and broken her back, then she got pregnant. And, well, things added up and she started to gain weight when she had children.

I have never seen my mother as anything other than beautiful. I don’t see her as fat. I do worry about health problems that run in the family, but I don’t think I could ever picture my mother looking now as small as I am and still being my mom. I’m not sure that I said that how I meant it to come out… but… My mother is beautiful how she is.

Right now I am over 130 lbs. I had surgery two months ago and a few weeks ago I had a moment where I was self-conscious about my body. I had a serious moment where I asked myself “Do I look chubby in this dress.” and I wanted to slap myself. I am not chubby. I have a little bit of bloating still from the surgery, and a small amount of fat from being sedentary for such a long time (due to physical health issues). So, instead of letting those thoughts plague my mind, I went out in that dress. I danced and got complimented, and wore myself out much more than I should have done.

I slept for two days, but I don’t regret buying the dress.

My point here is that girls shouldn’t be feeling the need to starve themselves to feel “beautiful”. Secret? Today I felt very exhilarated when I looked down at myself, my left hip popped out, my body leaning over, and saw that nice little bump of woman curve bulging over. Women’s bodies are meant to have a little more to them.

There is something called “Baby fat”, not how you would normally consider it. Look at a woman’s stomach–any normal, non-anorexic, but still skinny woman (this is just to prove a point, bear with me; even as skinny as I was, I had this too). There should be a nice layer of fat right over the abs; just enough to pinch. This is supposed to be there.

Many women will use this small amount of fat to tell themselves that they are not skinny enough. Important fact: That layer of fat is there for a reason. It is there in case you get pregnant. It is there as a way to start feeding a fetus during the early stages of pregnancy. (And some claim that big butts help in the development of larger brains in later stages).

Now, if you have a fuller figure, that’s not necessarily bad. Women are born with different shapes. I have a friend who has a small bone structure and a friend with large bone structure and then I have a friend with a health disorder that makes it so that it is very hard for her to lose weight. She has several things passed on from her family, which I am not going to disclose as I have not gained her permission.

There are many reasons to have, or not have, weight. Genetics (including what you can and cannot eat), health/illness, injury, mental health, stress, the list goes on and on.

I will say this. Even though I am attracted to slightly thinner/fit women, when things ended with my ex, she was almost 200lbs and we did not separate for her weight.

Do not base all of your self-worth on your weight. You are worth so much more.

Smile and hold you head up high! Because you are you and THAT makes you beautiful.

The Resident Femme

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