The Pharmacy Handbag

Okay, let’s be real for a second. My handbag doesn’t ACTUALLY carry the entire contents of a pharmacy… But it’s pretty darn close!

My handbag is probably a drug addicts dream (not trying to be insensitive, just blatantly honest.) The sad part is, it doesn’t even carry all my medications… Yep, living the dream!

While people often joke about how many medications I carry around, I’m not sure they realise that it’s purely out of necessity. I won’t give the full list, but here’s a quick run down on what I carry on any given day.

Five different pain killers, each different and each stronger than the one before. The milder ones are for my joint pain, but when I get a migraine I’m meant to start on the milder and work my way up until one is effective. This sometimes leaves me quite drugged up during a bad migraine, but c’est la vie! If you’ve ever had a migraine, you’d understand it’s not something you can just push through, these medications definitely are necessary. Along with that is an anti-nausea medication to prevent sickness during migraines.

Moving on to my crazy heart rate and the nightmarish symptoms I get along with that. I carry beta blockers to help control that and my chest pain, as well as Valium in case my heart rate is out of control and causing panic attacks. So what are we up to? Eight different medications so far?

I’m just rummaging through my handbag as I type this, and it’s a little bit terrifying. There are also the medications that I carry in case I get side effects from the medications treating everything else. This includes antacids, Buscopan, allergy tablets (this time of year is a killer for a lot of us, so that’s pretty normal!) And then I carry a little container with the medications and vitamins I need to take regularly.

Oh… And a bottle of water to take any of the above mentioned medications. *Face palm*

How exhausting to have to pack and carry and remember so many medications every day. How exhausting to have people look at you like you’re a hypochondriac or simply carrying around prescription medication for the fun of it. How exhausting to have people think you’re just a wuss and can’t handle pain.

I experience pain daily, I live in pain. I can handle it, because I’m used to it. Pain for me is like blinking for you, normal and a part of your every day life. When you see me taking medication for the pain, it’s getting real bad. When you see me taking medication for it, I’m usually at work or somewhere else far from the comfort of my bed, and I’m slightly terrified of letting it get so bad that I can’t even make it home. Trust me, it’s almost come to that many times before.

I often watch people on TV, see them doing things that everyone else does on a daily basis, see them planning multiple activities in one day without fear of any repercussions, fear of extra pain and debilitating fatigue. I see them staying awake past 8pm without feeling exhausted and wonder what that’s like. Even on holidays in Fiji, or planning any kind of relaxing holiday, I have to always be thinking about my health and putting that first. You want the truth? I’m as positive as I can be every day, but being completely honest, I hate that. I HATE being sick, because in a lot of ways, it’s preventing me from fully being me.

My personality is still full of energy, but my body is not.

So yes, I carry a pharmacy worth of medication in my handbag, and it is kind of funny. But it’s also for a very good reason.

Our Mistake? We both put him First

I’ve been putting off writing this one. Partly because it’s one of those pivotal moments in life… The moments that you only get a few of, the kind that changes you in literally the most profound way. That’s pretty darn personal! But also because it paints my boyfriend, Aiden, in a negative way. Though let’s be real for a second, he was definitely acting like an ass on this particular day! (Sorry Aiden)

I’ll start with this, before any judgments are made. For months leading up to this event, Aiden had been working insane hours. I mean 7am – 1am kind of hours. He had also experienced the loss of his grandfather. He was stressed, he was exhausted, and what he really needed was a day to just wind down and forget everything else. I, unavoidably and not by choice, almost took that day from him.

It was Anzac Day last year. We both had separate plans. Mine were to catch up with a friend I’d lost touch with, his were to go to the local pub with his best friend, eat, drink, and just relax.

My body had other plans.

We woke up early to take our husky for our usual morning walk. But a few minutes into that walk, I experienced sudden crushing head and chest pain, trouble breathing and debilitating fatigue. In Aiden’s defense I should point out that I am no stranger to pain or illness, so masking it has become quite easy for me, especially when I’m scared. And man, was I scared! However, I think my struggle was still somewhat obvious. Especially when I called a nurses hotline when we arrived home to find out the best course of action. That’s not something I do on any given day for no reason at all, so really should have tipped him off!

I stood on his balcony while he played a game on his phone, and I spoke to a nurse about my symptoms. I explained that I had been experiencing hypertension for the last few months, and then explained what I was feeling right in that moment. She calmly explained to me that I needed to go straight to the nearest emergency department, and that if I had no one to take me, she would organise an ambulance. I cried while talking to her, I very rarely cry. When I got off the phone, I took an extra couple of minutes to calm myself and walk back into Aiden’s room, the mask of composure.

What happened next actually is kind of funny in a ridiculous way. To this day, we do laugh about it.

When I walked back into Aiden’s room, I asked him to take me to hospital. His response wasn’t exactly what you would expect… He told me he had to “take a quick shit first.”

Okay, I’ll roll with this. Let him do his business and then we’ll head to the hospital, no problem! So I calmly got dressed and waited. And waited. And waited. Forty minutes later he came back into the room and asked me how long we’d be at the hospital for and if he could take a shower. At this point I just stared at him. I mean, really?!

He got the hint. No shower. Off to the hospital we go! When we arrived at the ED, I was quickly sent to the fast track section, which Aiden kept pointing out was the ‘it’s all in your head’ section. I swear he just jokes a lot, he’s not actually that much of an asshole… However, on this day, it did get on my nerves. I was sent to that section because I had been in the ED a couple of months before for a similar reason. Basically they just needed to make sure I wasn’t dying of stroke or heart attack, and send me on my way.

Here’s the weird part. As I lay there, getting bloods taken, strapped up to an ECG machine and a blood pressure monitor, I wasn’t thinking of myself at all. I was doing what I was told by going to hospital, but I wasn’t really thinking about me. I was thinking about Aiden. I was worrying, stressing, that I was ruining his day off to relax. The ENTIRE time. That’s insane isn’t it? I’m lying there getting tests done on my heart to check for any abnormalities causing this sudden crushing pain, and I was thinking about him.

I was overwhelmed, and I could see him getting agitated as the time passed. That’s not normal for him, he’s normally so patient and supportive. So that really worried me, and I HATED that I was aggravating his stress.

And then the moment came. The doctor came back and said my blood test to check for heart attack had come back normal. He explained that occasionally that could happen and that sometimes it doesn’t show until some time had passed, and asked if I wanted to test again just in case, in the unlikely event, I was having a heart attack. In my overwhelmed and anxious state, I missed the part about it being unlikely and really didn’t know exactly what he was asking. I was also mostly focused on Aiden as he stood in the corner and looked at the ground. He was pissed off at the situation before I had even answered. I said yes to the blood test anyway, for my own peace of mind. And you know what, he would have done exactly the same if it was his health on the line. I looked to him for help before I answered but he was looking at the ground, thinking about himself. So I made the decision that I knew he would if the roles were reversed.

After the doctor left, I asked Aiden if he was angry, and he said no (bullshit answer.) He then said the one comment that snapped something in me. He said “I do think the 2nd blood test is overkill though.”

… … … … REALLY?!

And that was the moment. I’m VERY patient, I rarely go off at anyone. But in that moment, I did the only thing I could do. I told him to “fuck off.” I told him to fuck off and that I’d call my mum to come get me, and then asked him how much I owed him for parking because I wanted to owe him nothing for that day. I was furious, I was hurt, and I was profoundly changed. I realised in that moment that I was putting the wrong person first.

The funny thing is, Aiden is the one who has been trying to drill into me for years that I need to put my needs before anyone else’s. That no one would look out for me like I could. He’d been trying to instill that in me, and he was the one who’s actions forced me to put that into practice. Since then, I put myself first, and I realise now that it’s not actually selfish to do that… It’s imperative.

As soon as he left the hospital I cried, and the whole next day I continued. A dam had broken. I barely spoke to Aiden for 2 days after, and when I did talk to him I told him he would never ever treat me that way again. That I wouldn’t be forgiving the next time, and that if the roles had been reversed, the situation would have played out VERY differently. I refused to tell him the conclusion of my hospital visit. If he’d really cared to know, he would have been there. He’d lost that right, and I made sure he knew that. From that moment on, I went to every doctors visit and test alone. I became my rock.

That moment changed him too. He realised how his work had been affecting him, and that his actions and emotions were now hurting me too. So he quickly got his act together, and he has been insanely supportive and patient ever since. He’s shown nothing but pure unconditional love for me, and stuck by me through a hell of a lot! But while I have forgiven, I will never forget that day. That he went to the pub while I laid in the ED crying because I’d had to tell him to fuck off when I needed him the most. I’m going to be honest, that memory haunts me. If I need to go to the ED again, I’ll be going alone.

No one should ever be treated that way in that situation. Chronic illness, no matter how invisible, is valid and not only demands attention, but deserves it. But I do have to say that I am eternally thankful for that moment, because it did change me for the better. It awoke a fight in me that has pushed me through this health journey.

Self care isn’t selfish. Putting your needs first isn’t selfish. You can care for others too, but no one can care for you or fight for you like you can.

Aiden and I both made mistakes that day… We both put him first.

Brain Fog Fury

Brain fog is a fickle and complicated symptom of many diseases. I don’t have dementia, so why can’t I remember why I entered this room? I’m 29 years old, why can’t I remember that person’s name?

Now, let’s be real, those things have happened to all of us. But imagine being in a Pilates class, and not actually FEELING like you’re in a Pilates class. Trippy, right? Let me tell you from experience, NOT a fun feeling.

Brain fog can mimic some mental disorders including Depression, ADHD, or Dissociation. It’s like being trapped, trying to grasp at something that should be so easy but just falling short.

This week has been a bad one for me. A three day migraine, constant chest discomfort, UNBEARABLE sleepiness, generally just feeling like aids (sorry for my lack of descriptive abilities at the moment,) and the real fear that these feelings may not pass. But the worst part of all, I’ve had several people ask me “what do you mean?” when I’m trying to have a conversation with them. It’s not their fault, I simply can’t focus enough to explain anything properly because I’m suffering from brain fog along with my other symptoms. Luckily for all of us, as I write this, I’m the most lucid I’ve been in days. Hallelujah! (…I should probably hire an editor.)

I’m definitely not used to people being confused by what I’m trying to say to them so many times within a few days. I make sense to my own addled brain, and I just can’t grasp another way to explain what I’m trying to say. Sound frustrating? That’s because IT IS! The worst part is, I can’t explain to anyone what I’m feeling without sounding looney, so I just go about my day looking and sounding completely spaced out and incompetent.

Brain fog is scary as hell. I want to be able to go through my normal every day life without forgetting what I’m doing. I don’t want to feel embarrassed when I can’t remember someone’s name, someone who I’ve known for 3 years. I don’t want to be constantly reminded that “you’ve already told me that, a few times”. I don’t want to be in Pilates having to mentally push myself like I’m Michelle Bridges from The Biggest Loser, just to get into position for a simple stretch! All because I’m suffering temporary migraine induced dissociation.

I don’t want to feel like I’m sleep walking through my life. Bad health has taken over my body, does it have to take over my mind too? Big events, special memories, they could all pass by in a literal blur, and there’s nothing I’d be able to do about it. I don’t get to choose when a flare up happens, or when that flare up will affect my cognitive function.

You know what? I hate that. I’m positive on most days despite my health battles, but today I get to hate it. Today I choose not to fight it, but to go home and rest. And that’s totally okay, because even superheroes need rest! πŸ€·β€β™€οΈ πŸ¦Έβ€β™€οΈ

My Mum is Mentally Ill

Back in the day, that would have been a hard thing for me to admit. If I’m being completely honest, it still doesn’t feel easy to say. Why’s that? Because I grew up in a time where mental illness was stigmatised. These days, it’s interesting to see that it’s become glamourised. How did that happen?! You blink, and everything changes. Suddenly, someone feels sad or stressed, and they instantly self diagnose with depression… What the f*ck?!

I was ten years old when my mum became ill. It still seems crazy to me that I was one of the first to notice what was going on. That’s right, the kid knew what was going on before the adults did! It took an extra year before they figured out what was going on and she was diagnosed with mental illness.

Now, to this day I still cannot tell you exactly what she was diagnosed with, it was a mixture of illnesses really. But I guess the easiest to explain is depression, as it’s the most well known.

While I was in high school, dealing with the usual high school shit, dealing with my mother going in and out of hospital, I received a hell of a lot of judgement. Because guess what? My mum is mentally ill. If she was physically ill, it would have been easier for everyone to understand. But at that age, how could I expect any more of them?

However, it still made me angry. I understood what was going on, so why couldn’t they? Why couldn’t they be more understanding and supportive? Because mental illness was still misunderstood in general and frowned upon. There were even a few parents that wouldn’t allow their kids to come over to my house anymore, that’s how bad it was.

I grew up very angry as a teenager. Majority of the time it was just my Dad and my two older brothers living in the house, while Mum was quite often in hospital. I was downright angry, lost, confused, anxious and quite often sad. I was a teenage girl growing up without her mother, and without the support she needed. There was a lot expected of me, it was my job to look after my mother. MY job to look after MY MOTHER. Now what sounds wrong about that statement?

My mum was ill, none of what happened was her fault. If someone with a stomach bug vomited, you wouldn’t blame them for something that they couldn’t help, would you? It took me a long time, and many sessions with a psychologist, to understand this. But what about the other adults? Why did they expect me to look after my mentally ill mother, and forget to support me or my brothers who were all teenage children? Because, again, all of this was misunderstood. The adults in my life did the best they could with what knowledge they had. That also took me a long time to understand. It also took me a long time to stop blaming myself. That was, by far, the toughest part.

So after all that, all that pain and heartache, how did mental illness become glamourised? How did it somehow become cool to boast about the self diagnosis you came up with when you cried last night? Is that depression? Not even close.

It took just 15 short years for me to see mental illness go from stigmatised, to glamourised. Well let me explain something, mental illness is not beautiful, it’s a bitch. It’s debilitating and paralysing for the person, and it’s terrifying for the people around them. In raising awareness, it’s important to know the difference between mental illness, and normal emotions. It’s clinical, it can’t be self diagnosed or self treated.

“Depression is a clinical illness. It’s been scientifically proven and documented that depression has a literal, physical effect on your brain. No ifs, ands or buts.”

There is a lot of confusion on where the line is drawn between sadness and depression, between stress and an anxiety disorder. But once you’ve seen it or experienced it, the line is obvious.
Suicide is in the top ten causes of death in Australia, and almost impossible to understand. I myself used to be guilty of seeing it as a selfish act. But it’s not, it’s an effect of an illness, and a serious one at that. One that affects way too many people. I’d say most of us know of someone who has died by suicide.

My hope is that some day everyone will start to see it for what it really is. Not beautiful, not cool, not a choice and not situational or fleeting. And most of all, see that it is just as important as our physical health. Stop stigmatising it, stop glamourising it. Just see it for what it is… Misunderstood, unavoidable, debilitating, terrifying. Even just as valid as cancer, and just as dangerous.

My mum is mentally ill. Take it from someone who knows.

Life of the Party

Once upon a time, I was definitely considered a party girl, even occasionally the life of the party. When I started at my current job, which is a construction company, that’s definitely how I was viewed. My first night out at the pub with the guys had me keeping up with them doing shots, and asleep on the train home. I’ve even been known to dance on table tops, and there was an occasion with body shots when out with some old work colleagues. It was all in good fun.

I could honestly say that I’d go out every single weekend to a pub or party, or a club on occasions – though I was definitely more of a pub or house party girl. I LOVED it, I loved dancing and I loved being lively and social.

So what happened? My health went down the crapper – to put it simply. I still don’t have an official diagnosis, but they’re looking at Lupus and/or Postural Tachycardia Syndrome. This all started at the beginning of 2018, and since then my party days have gone way down hill. It happened gradually, but surely. Now, even a few glasses of wine will leave me with a feeling of hangover the next day. More than that will take days to recover. Socialising alone is a lot more tiring than you’d expect, especially while you’re in pain, so I often have to avoid it. And dancing? My god, one song leaves me exhausted. Not that it stops me from trying, dancing like an idiot while singing loudly will always be in my blood!

I now often hear “oh man, you used to be the life of the party. Look at you now!” Yes… Thanks for rubbing that in. Much appreciated!

Getting sick with a chronic illness changes everything, you lose your sense of self. You grieve your old self. I wish with all my heart that things were different, that things hadn’t changed like they had. But this life, this chronic sickness, has become so normal to me. Though still not easy in the slightest.

But what have I learnt from it? Appreciation. I didn’t know what I had, when I had it. If I’d known then what I know now, everything would have been different. I honestly never ever would have thought that I’d be this sick girl, getting home to go to bed by 5pm, working part time and spending my days off in bed sleeping. Carrying a pharmacy worth of medication in my handbag. I don’t like any of these things, but I do like what I’ve learnt.

Never again will I take my body for granted. Never again will I take the people in my life for granted. Never again will I doubt what my gut is telling me when I feel that something is wrong. Never again will I judge someone else for something that I don’t understand. Never again will I give a shit what other people think, or get caught up in petty gossip and drama – because really, in the scheme of things, none of that matters in the slightest.

I’ve learnt who my true friends are, I’ve found passions I didn’t know I had, and I’ve learnt to see the beauty in every little moment that brings you peace. I may not be the life of the party anymore, or be a whole lot of fun all the time, but I’m living life to the max with a whole new outlook.

Love what you have, while you have it.

Migraine vs Headache

I’m going to paint a picture for you. It’s 7am on my day off, but realistically I’ve been awake for hours after a night of tossing and turning. This may be poorly written, and I will explain why. It all started around lunch time yesterday at work, when I felt some head pain coming on.

Like a good girl, I did exactly what my Neurologist told me to do – on top of my daily treatments, I tried Voltaren first. I waited, and waited, but things were only getting worse. The nausea started to kick in and so I did the next thing my doctor suggested, I took Maxalon for the nausea and Imagran (a specific migraine medication) for the pain. Again, I waited. My head was starting to become blurry and I decided it’s time to take a small break. So, I trudged into the kitchen to make a tea, realising the entire time I was simultaneously trying not to vomit and pass out. It was time for the last resort, the Panadeine Forte.

Yes, Panadeine Forte definately helped the pain, but it didn’t prevent the rest of the symptoms from making my life a living hell. After a couple of hours of medicating and pushing through, I had reached my limit.

Then comes the train home. Again, the entire time I was trying not to vomit, pass out or simply fall asleep from all the pain meds, and that hour long trip suddenly felt like 20 hours.

I then laid in bed for hours in the dark hoping to fall asleep but never quite getting there. Tossing, turning, and generally feeling like I’d drunk 5 bottles of wine to myself and then walked out onto the street and been hit by a truck. Have you ever felt so sick that you can feel it in your entire body and nothing will relieve it, even sleep? Yep, that’s a migraine for you. Every little sound in the house was making my brain vibrate and my eyes feel like they were being poked with ice picks.

Everything hurt, everything felt heavy and ill. It still does.

So why do I HATE when people say they have a migraine when they really have a headache? Because when people who suffer from chronic migraines ACTUALLY have a migraine, everyone else thinks it’s not that big of a deal, that your body hasn’t turned into a volcano waiting to erupt, that a Nurofen or Panadol will ease it so you can get back to work.

No.

Don’t get me wrong, headaches SUCK! But they’re not the same thing. They require different treatment, and they’re often not even close to being as debilitating.

So what’s the difference? According to Healthline.com, hadaches are unpleasant pains in your head that can cause pressure and aching. The pain can range from mild to severe, and they usually occur on both sides of your head. Some specific areas where headaches can occur include the forehead, temples, and back of the neck. A headache can last anywhere from 30 minutes to a week. The most common headache type is a tension headache.

What about migraines? Migraines are intense or severe and include other symptoms other than head pain. Such as;

  • nausea
  • pain behind one eye or ear
  • pain in the temples
  • seeing spots or flashing lights
  • sensitivity to light and/or sound
  • temporary vision loss
  • vomiting
  • feeling less mentally alert or having trouble thinking
  • seeing flashing lights or unusual lines
  • feeling tingling or numbness in the face or hands
  • having an unusual sense of smell, taste, or touch.

When compared with a tension headache, migraines are generally a lot more severe and often leave you bedridden. Some people even seek help in emergency. Treatment is complicated and sometimes ineffective, ranging from pain killers to Botox treatment – which I recently found out I qualify early for. Kind of a scary thought since I hate needles, let alone needles in my head!

Basically, comparing a headache to a migraine is akin to comparing a cold to the flu, or being sad to having depression. Not only is it not helpful to everyone else in understanding these conditions, but it’s also vaguely insulting.

Simply put, conditions such as chronic migraines shouldn’t be lessened, they should be shared and understood.

Do you suffer from chronic migraines and keen to share your story? I’d love to hear from you! contactlaura@laurainreallife.blog.

The Depo Darkness

I often hear men and women alike joke about women’s hormones. She’s angry, so she must have PMS. That’s hilarious, right?

It’s not often lately that I get really bad PMS, mostly I just get extra jittery and anxious. But now and then it really hits me, and I spend the better part of a day crying or just feeling really low. I don’t really see that as funny. Emotions are all valid regardless of the cause. More than anything, it makes me really feel for the women that deal with that monthly, or the women suffering through menopause.

That brings me to my Depo Provera disaster.

Approximately 5 years ago I was prescribed a treatment for Endometriosis after a surgery, in the form of a Depo Provera injection. This is a reasonably common form of birth control that get’s injected into your butt cheek (hehe), and lasts for 3 months. The main ingredient of this injection is Progestin, which effectively stops ovulation. This in turn also prevents Endometriosis from growing outside your uterine wall.

However, what my gynecologist at the time forgot to take into consideration was my sensitivity to medications, especially the hormonal kind. Within a week of getting this injection, I was too depressed to even make it into work. And guess what… There are no medications to counteract an injection that stays in your body for at least 3 months.

I proceeded to spend the next few months with severe insomnia – sleeping a maximum of 2 hours a night. Spending the rest of the night either tossing and turning or simply crying and wondering how I was going to get through this. Of course, I didn’t actually realise at first that it was this injection causing my sudden depression, no one had explained to me that it was a possible side effect. I was only 6 months into dating my boyfriend, Aiden, and we both started to believe that it was my relationship with him that was giving me grief. This caused a tremendous strain on our new relationship, and left a few of his friends that I’d just met thinking I was an emotional wreck, and rightly so! Let’s face it, that’s exactly what I was.

So what happened after 3 months? Well… turns out that emotional side effects caused by this injection actually get worse before they get better. And so, I spent the better part of a year severely depressed . Not even being able to work most of the time – and when I did work I spend most of the day counting the minutes until I could curl up in bed and hide again.

I kept everyone in that dark about all of this. My parents saw the severe anxiety and panic attacks it caused in the beginning, but no one knew the true extent of my depression until I broke down crying in front of my mum in a cafe.

I would like to take a second to point out that I very rarely cry, and I basically never cry in front of anyone else. It’s not because I’m emotionally unstable, it’s just generally not what I do. So my mum seeing me cry for the first time in probably 15 years… Well it really kind of freaked her out, to say the least. She finally saw what I was going through. But despite that, I still felt embarrassed to share this with anyone else. I often laid awake and cried while Aiden slept without saying a word to him about it, and I never let my friends in on the whole truth. No one saw the real darkness that was caused by one simple hormonal ‘treatment’.

Do you still think it’s funny when a woman is being hormonal?

Mental illness is no joke. When it’s caused by or coupled with hormones, to put it plainly, you feel like you’re losing your god damn mind! Imagine feeling perfectly fine one day, and losing all control of your emotions the next. This is a lot more prominent in women with conditions such as Endometriosis or Polycystic Ovarian Syndrome, but no one seems to talk about it. It’s a very real side effect, especially to so many of the treatments for these conditions. Do you see why I can’t see the funny side to that?

I’m not laughing, and neither should you. The seriousness of this needs to be recognised. Next time a woman is “just being hormonal,” stop and think for a second. That thought, that realisation, could save your wife’s, sister’s, mother’s or daughter’s life.

To all the women out there struggling, please believe there is light at the end of the tunnel. Speak out, get help and support. It’s 100% okay to need that πŸ’™

Puppy Love

This one hurts to write. As I sit here in the sunny (vaguely windy) Fiji, I find my mind constantly wandering back to this one consuming thought… When we return home, our beloved Husky will have to be put to rest.

On our first day in Fiji we learnt that she had a malignant tumor growing, the kind that even treatment can’t help. She’s only 6 years old.

This breaks my heart for many reasons. The main one being that I have never met such a beautiful soul before. She found a place in my heart the moment I met her. But also for another reason… She has been my constant comfort and companion through all my battles with my health.

So many Saturday night’s in I’ve spent with her snuggled up to me, because I’m simply too unwell to go anywhere. I’d feel lonely and guilty for not being able to go out with my friends or boyfriend – not being able to party like I used to love. But there was one comfort… I wasn’t alone, not while I had her asleep beside me.

The sad fact is, loneliness is a huge factor in illness – mental and physical illness alike. It’s a very personal battle that no one else can relate to, because all our battles are different. But I always found one light in that darkness, and that was Tikaani. When I was sick or in pain (which, let’s face it, is daily) she was there right by my side. I know some people don’t think dogs can sense those things, but she sure could.

I vividly remember her walking slowly and gently beside me as I trudged up the stairs after an Endometriosis surgery, and how she carefully laid down next to me on the bed, careful not to touch me. Or when muscle aches in my legs were so bad one night that I couldn’t lay still, she laid on my legs which miraculously helped the pain and I fell back asleep shortly after. That one moment convinced me to invest in a weighted blanket* which has been amazing in preventing that pain and restlessness getting too bad at night.

What will I do without that? It really is a scary thought. One I’m struggling to think about. The comfort pets can bring people with chronic physical and mental illness has suddenly become very clear to me. Something I didn’t quite appreciate sooner. That loss will be absolutely profound.

Even as I sit here typing this, I still find myself unable to fully comprehend this fact, and I strongly feel for all those who have had to suffer similar situations. I would like to show appreciation for all those beautiful animals that give love and comfort in times of pain and illness, and who never fail to be by our side when needed.

Here’s to Tikaani – the beautiful, kind, and loving soul I was lucky to have in my life for what felt like the briefest of moments ❀

*Note – I strongly recommend weighted blankets for chronic pain and restless leg syndrome, even insomnia. Happy to recommend a certain type or answer any questions. Simply contact me at contactlaura@laurainreallife.blog.

Waiting Room

I’m sitting here waiting to see yet another specialist. What number is this? Probably at least my tenth since last year. These days, doctor shopping is necessary. After all, they’re only human, they can’t know it all!

As I sit here waiting, I feel a few things. One is exhaustion – I had a horrible sleep last night as usual from pain and anxiety about today’s pending appointment. Which brings me to the next thing I’m feeling – anxious. Every time I sit in a waiting room my palms sweat, my heart races, and I get lightheaded. I feel pure dread for what’s to come. Answering the same questions over and over again, explaining my symptoms to yet another doctor that may not have any answers, that may send me on my merry way with a good old “sorry I couldn’t help. Hope you feel better soon!”…Really?!

Dismissal – it’s not something any of us like to feel. Let alone those of us who are chronically ill and seeking help from the only people in the world with the ability to do so… And quite often even they can’t do that.

So how do we deal with this time and time again? It’s simple – we just do. I don’t want to toot my own horn, but it takes a hell of a lot of strength to do this over and over again on your own, and I say that for everyone who’s been through this. To be rejected so many times. To be made to feel crazy simply because they can’t explain your mystery illness and symptoms. I don’t fit into the text book definition of anything, and that’s the unfortunate truth for so many others.

I’m scared and exhausted from this entire process. And yet, that final thing I always feel while sitting here in the waiting room, is hope. Hope that this doctor will be the one that can crack the mystery, that can confidently say they’ve seen this before and know exactly what’s going on and how to help me.

Now from my point of view, I think I have it pretty easy compared to so many others. And I have to say, I admire all of you who are struggling through, so so much! You deserve all the credit in the world, and more.

Another day, another waiting room. Keep fighting peeps, we’re with you.

“Chaos cannot claim everything, you know…”

It’s surprisingly VERY rare that I read a line in a book that speaks to me (especially since I mostly read fantasy novels.) But I finally found one!

“Chaos cannot claim everything, you know – there are always objects and points of stability in the worst of it.”

I think this is an important one to note. Not just for those who suffer from chronic illness, but for everyone. We all have chaos causing havoc in our lives – we all struggle from time to time. But there’s always that point of stability in the worst of it, if you just look in the right places.

My points of stability aren’t hard to find. They’re in my life every single day. Making me smile even when I don’t feel like it, making me laugh, making everything else feel small in comparison. Making life so beautiful despite all the shit in it, in all of our lives.

Like most people, right from the get go things haven’t always been simple for me. I was born with collapsed lungs, so already not off to a great start! I suffered viral meningitis as a young child, needed my first surgery when I was 4 and my second when I was 9. Things steadied out a bit as a teenager, though I did suffer PTSD and anxiety.

It was turning 19 that really started to cause the most health issues, when I had my first ovarian cyst. It was a huge one, causing endless pain until I finally had surgery. After that, at age 21, I had surgery for appendicitis – it was chronic and came on slow, over 2 months. Don’t let them tell you that isn’t possible! Then came my Endometriosis diagnosis at age 23, A very complex form that has required surgery almost every year since. THEN, in 2018, arrived my mystery illness, still undiagnosed but looking more and more like a mild form of Lupus.

Yes, none of that has been easy. But all of that made me who I am, and taught me one vital lesson… Appreciation. Appreciation for every simple and beautiful moment that brings a smile or a sense of peace and hope. Appreciation for every moment I have with those I love. Appreciation for every time a friend checks up on how I am, or my boyfriend cuddles me until I fall asleep when I’m not feeling well.

Just little things – little things that add up to a very full heart and a life full with joy. My people always have been, and always will be, my points of stability.