Expect the unexpected

It’s been a while since I have written anything other than a text message and I am feeling rusty. The break was not intentional. I was recently diagnosed with vestibular migraines. What is a vestibular migraine? Basically, it’s vertigo. Fun right? Spinning, falling, and nausea. Good times. I’m still waiting to see a neurologist. I’m on a new medication that has stopped the spinning, but it’s killing me to have to take another medication daily. Hopefully, it’s not something I have to take regularly. Another diagnosis. Whoopee!! How lucky/unlucky am I? I went against my own advice and used Dr. Google. These kinds of migraines can correspond with peri-menopause. So I am hoping it is a temporary issue. Honestly, how long can perimenopause last? Right? (don’t answer it….just don’t!) I had several bouts of vertigo this year and always treated the it video/teledoc appointments. Each time it was determined I had an inner ear infection. The first instance occured and it was awful. I woke up with the world spinning and fell to the floor where I proceeded to vomit off and on (all over myself and the floor) for over 4 hours. I ended up missing 4 days of work until I finally got back to normal. The second bout only lasted 2 days. It sucked up my entire weekend, but I felt great by Monday. This last time, I was spinning for over a week. I called my physician and she referred me to an ENT. I had no idea that you didn’t have to have a headache with some migraines. Since starting the medication, I’ve had a mild headache, but no spins. Not sure if that is progress or not. Wish me luck as I learn to manage this latest medical issue.

The good news? My rheumatoid arthritis has been back under control. I had a brief flare up after traveling. I expected that, but the shocking part was the flare calmed in a matter of 3 days. Why did I travel? Well, I finally got my new puppy. An amazing friend in the Cavalier King Charles Spaniel world learned of a litter of puppies and contacted me. I decided it was the right puppy for me. I flew to Kentucky to meet my beautiful blenheim Cavalier King Charles Spaniel three months after losing my beautiful Georgia Grace. When I made these plans, I had hoped the world would be in a better place in terms of COVID-19. Well, we all know it is not better. I was amazed by airports in both Philadelphia, and Louisville where people were respectful, employees adhered to regulations, and social distancing was a no brainer. Chicago’s Midway airport…..was a hot mess. Tons of people not wearing masks bumping in to each other, coughing, and not maintaining social distancing. I literally sat on my suitcase far away from crowds and cringed. Now there were a lot of people who were adhering to masks (some with face shields, too) and maintaining space. Those who did not, seemed so proud of themselves. I was in a restaurant/cafe. There were no seats, rather there was a station to order, a station to get your food/drink, then a final station to pay. There were markings for social distancing. Everyone was wearing a mask except for one couple. The woman loudly proclaiming, they say you don’t have to wear a mask in a restaurant. The people working stated, that is only if you can eat in the restaurant (there weren’t any seats in this place). The woman kept screaming how she knew her rights. They couple eventually paid and left. When it was my turn to pay, I purposefully have the cashier a big tip. Store/restaurant employees don’t need people yelling at them. They do not deserve it for following their employees regulations. When I returned home, I quarantined again in a modified way. I only went to the pharamcy and grocery store drive thrus. Other than that, I stayed home. Why? I want to visit my parents. To do that, I needed to make sure I was okay.

I’m not going to get into a rant over mask vs. non-mask wearing. I will, however, say I am astounded by all the people who suddenly have “undocumented” breathing problems. It’s like the people who park in handicapped spots because they sprained their ankle or the people who use a family member’s placard when they go shopping to get a better parking spot. My mom has COPD and wears oxygen 24 hours a day. When she goes out she wears a mask. She hates it. Says she feels claustrophobic in it, but she does it. She also doesn’t place herself in non-necessary settings. So when I read about a woman throwing a fit in Starbucks, or a man screaming at others in Costco because they have “medical reasons” for not wearing a mask, I relate it to all the entitled people who think that claiming a disability for convenience is perfectly fine. Trust me. I know plenty of people with asthma, COPD, and anxiety who wear their masks and don’t make a fuss….even when it is not easy. Ableism continues to grow. These are the same people preaching, “If you are high risk, just stay home”, but they don’t want to stay home so now they have a medical issue. I have a real medical issue and do stay home for the most part, but if I want to go in to Dunkin Donuts to get a coffee, I will wear my mask, social distance, wash my hands, and basically…..I won’t be an asshole. (ok…I lied….I did rant. Ableism ticks me off!)

Finally, I’m going to talk about my mental health. I’ve admitted that I have been depressed for a while. Georgia’s health, my health, my parents health and feeling helpless with all of that wore me down to an unhealthy place. I spent the majority of weekends sleeping. I never went out and I felt miserable. I was starting to feel better when the pandemic started, but then I lost Georgia. I didn’t want to spiral into a negative place, so I made a plan. I continue to speak with a therapist, I got more exercise, re-read favorite books that make me happy, and I am fairly certain I have watched every show streamed via the internet (just call me the queen of streaming apps). Basically, I kept my mind occupied, but still wasn’t happy. Then I met Finni…..and you know what? I found happy again.

Meeting Finni in person, Louisville International Airport, KY

Feeling happy with a new dog does make me feel a bit guilty. I adored Georgia Grace but her health drained my health. I don’t regret one moment, but the guilt remained about moving on. The other day, while walking Finni, I noticed that when she made me smile, I felt good. I think I truly forgot what happy felt like. I have a lot of good in my life, but when you are dealing with chronic illness, chronic pain, and corresponding depression, it’s hard to remember that. Finni is getting me out of the house again and my cats adore her. She is funny, feisty, and full of energy. She makes my home a happy place. I will miss Georgia until the day I die, but the only reason I have Finni is because someone that loved Georgia was determined to find me another dog. She calls it serendipity and maybe it’s true. Thank you Donna. You brought joy back into my life and I will forever be greatful. Finni may have helped me to find happy again, but I need to keep that going. It was a refreshing feeling and I like it.

So this past month has been full of unexpected happenings. Some welcome and others unwelcome. All I can say is that during a pandemic, I’ve managed to stay healthy, get through remote teaching, and found happy again. I’m calling it an unexpected win, for now.

Be happy

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Kelly holds masters degrees in both Special Education and Speech-Language Pathology. She works full-time as a speech-language pathologist in both a public school setting and as an adjunct faculty member at a university, in Philadelphia, PA. She specializes in both autism and augmentative/alternative communication and took her skills to Uganda, Africa to start a special needs program for disabled children living in an orphanage in 2011. Kelly began experiencing symptoms of autoimmune arthritis in 1984 (while in her teens) but wasn’t officially diagnosed with autoimmune arthritis until 2001. Her first diagnosis was Sjogren’s syndrome. Eventually her diagnosis was changed to sero-negative RA and now Polyarticular Spondlyoarthropathy. She also manages thyroid disease (resulting from Graves Disease), fibromyalgia, renin-deficient hypertension, and disseminated superficial actinic porokeratosis (DSAP) on a daily basis. Kelly connected with other autoimmune arthritis patients via social media in 2008. She began volunteering with the “Buckle Me UP! Movement”, which evolved into the International Autoimmune Arthritis Movement (IAAM) beginning in 2009. Then became a cofounder of IFAA in 2013. She has represented the ACR on Capitol Hill as an Advocate for Arthritis, was a finalist in Wego Health’s Health Activist Hero awards in 2014, and speaks at various healthcare conferences as a patient advocate in the Philadelphia area.

6 thoughts on “Expect the unexpected

  1. Finni is wonderful. She is the top dog of the day in my book. I think she is beautiful.

    I am sorry to hear of the vertigo. Having suffered this in the past, I can tell you that seeing the ENT is the way to go. If it is crystals it will work out and you will feel better than ever.

    Like

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