‘To be calm is the highest achievement of self’

Today is my anniversary

Notice I didn’t write ‘ours’?

Because this one

Well it’s entirely mine

Today marks exactly one year since I would rather have died than continue to live in the state of panic I was in

It might seem dramatic

I don’t know if I can explain the pain I was in

I remember my mom talking about how I was then

And she winced recollecting the sound of my crying

It was without a doubt the worst time of my life

That’s saying something

Since I’ve been through so much

Its strange to some people

That I would pick Multiple Sclerosis and the unknown

I would pick ITP and the biweekly bloodwork

I would choose those things in a heartbeat

I would choose those things if it meant never having to go through a mental health breakdown

Today

As I write this I’m in a much better place

Both literally and figuratively

I’m not freaking out at Humber’s unequipped emergency department

Pleading

No

Begging for someone to help me

Today

I will not focus on what I couldn’t do then

No

Today,

I’m at my home

That I share with my husband of 12 years

My two dogs

Vinnie and Benny.

I woke up this morning

I brushed my teeth and washed my face

I had coffee and breakfast

I rearranged some furniture

I did some art

Now I’m writing this blog

It’s all so unexceptional

And I am so fucking grateful

‘Change Is The Only Constant In Life’

The streets were empty, grey and tragic

It was early morning

Raining gently

After everything had happened…

The shops and houses were in ruins

She could see the inside, the guts of what remained

Wondering mindlessly downtown

What was once such a bustling metropolis

Now deserted

Except for her

She wasn’t sure what she was doing

Why she was even here

She had walked here

After everything…

She thought what was once the heart of this city would hold some answers for her

On what was next

But seeing it like this

Empty and desolate

Only made her think that nothing would ever be the same again

She continued walking

Stepping over large cracks and tattered remains

She made her way to what had been her favourite place

An oasis in the city

Once upon a time anyway…

To read, to listen to music, to people watch

Now it was just a blank canvas

She stood in the middle

Where a fountain had been

She circled around

Examining everything from that formerly central spot

It was quiet and sort of peaceful actually

It was never peaceful

Even back when she would sit around on the benches

There had always been a low level hum of noise

Of a city on the verge of erupting

Now there was just…nothing

A thought occurred to her

She quite enjoyed the nothingness

After so much chaos, it was a balm for her shattered nerves

She headed to where the grass had once been

Laid down across scorched earth

Put her hands behind her head

Felt the gentle pitter patter of rain on her skin

Looked up into the wide endless sky

The clouds were clearing

She peered upwards

Fixated on a spot where a brilliant blue began to spread

She closed her eyes

She felt a change in the air

A shift within herself

Somehow she knew

This was just the beginning

And then in what surely must have been the first time in months

She smiled…

2019

This year has been so tumultuous

Right from the start in fact

I remember last New Year’s Eve

We had decided to stay home and then at the last minute we went up to my sisters house

I was so anxious

I had to take Ativan to get me there

To go to my sisters house

Where it would be a casual night with some friends

The worst would be still to come

In the early days of 2019

I went to emergency rooms

To crisis centres

I felt like I was going crazy

I was so afraid

All the time

I didn’t want Joey to leave me alone

I ended up staying with my parents for what I thought would be a short time

It was 4 months until I went back home

To my husband

To my dogs

To my own home

I didn’t know then that there would still be so many battles ahead

2019 brought with it a rare blood disorder

That I still don’t know if it’s permanently here to stay

It brought a 3 day hospitalization due to aforementioned blood disorder

It brought a disastrous trip to Florida in which Joey and I both thought I was going to die

It brought tears

Biweekly blood tests

New fears

It brought pain and a lot of heartache

2019 also brought me a peace within I’ve never really known before

Through creating art

It brought me the ability to make and hell…even sell art

It brought me friends made in group therapy

It brought me closure and a kind of acceptance with my panic disorder and MS

2019 brought to the forefront

A strength I did not think I possessed

It brought the undeniable knowledge

That I’m a fighter

And a survivor

With it came the ability to want to celebrate my life

So for my 38th bday I did

For once

I didn’t hate my birthday

I had a huge soirée and celebrated myself

2019

I’m not sorry to see you go

I don’t think I can honestly say I’m happy you were ever here

But without any hesitance or wavering

I can undoubtedly say

You showed me things about myself that I still hadn’t learned in 38 years

I’m grateful 2019 is coming to an end

And although you won’t disappear without having left a mark or scar on me

I wouldn’t be me without you

And I can’t be mad at you for that…

The Perfect Storm

I’ve been thinking a lot lately

Thinking about people…society

Thinking about being a ‘sick person’

About having a mental illness

I struggled long before my MS diagnosis

I struggled for years because of anxiety and depression

Even with treatment, I still struggled

Like MS, there is no cure for my mental illness

There is no quick fix

Even the medical treatments for both come with explicit warnings and precautions

So it seems like there a lot of similarities

Except for one major difference between my mental health and MS:

The way society perceives both

While many people don’t understand or really know what MS is all about

There is more empathy for people with MS than there is for mental heath sufferers

People seem to acknowledge that nobody would choose to have MS

However with mental health, people place a huge amount of responsibility on the individuals shoulders

Especially with mood disorders like mine

‘Snap out of it’

‘Be positive’

‘Exercise..it’ll make you feel better’

I’m sure I could fill countless pages with similar pieces of unsolicited advice

Not just from friends and family

But also from the medical field

It’s almost funny how after I found out about the MS

There was a certain credibility that I was awarded

My mental illness wasn’t enough to warrant unbiased compassion

But MS…

That’s different

Or maybe it’s the combination

Like your mom’s handwritten recipe for human compassion

While I’m grateful it’s awarded me more understanding in some avenues of my life

Something about it also strikes me

It must mean that I’ve become something like the perfect storm

The time the internet turned against me..

So I nonchalantly commented on a Vice Canada article about whether or not Don Cherry should be fired for his xenophobic comments.

My comment was solely on the story and agreed that Don Cherry has gotten away with this behaviour for too long and should be fired.

The amount of hate I got was a little startling.

I’m a lot older than the typical person who gets cyber bullied so I’m a little removed from this sort of thing.

People immediately went after me

They went after my appearance firstly.

They stereotyped me for my hair colour.

They called me fat.

Said I was dumb, stupid and so much more.

Instantly, I wanted to hit back.

After all, that’s what you do when you’ve been attacked.

But I quickly learned it was getting me nowhere other than infuriated.

I deleted my comment.

Not because I don’t stand by it (because I do)

Not because I can’t handle the criticism (because I can)

But because this war behind a computer or a phone or whatever

Is not one I can win.

That anyone can win.

People become so brave they will literally say anything or do anything.

Frankly, it makes me afraid of the world we live in.

How scary is it when you can’t even risk speaking your opinion for fear of retribution?

This speaks to something so much bigger than internet trolls out for blood.

This is a not a liberated society.

This is totalitarian.

If you dare to step out of line you risk facing the wrath of the legions of people willing to do and say whatever it takes to make their mark.

While I can handle the criticisms, I can’t handle the anger and anxiety that explodes inside of me as a result of such an encounter.

I was so angry at the words they were tossing around.

Not because I’m hurt by them but because someone else might be.

Some teenager might be reading along in agreement and see the inflamed ego it caused and the hurled insults and bullying that ensued.

They might not have the self security to hold strong to their own beliefs.

And that is the biggest tragedy of all.

What I wish you understood:

I get tired really easily

The heat is unbearable for me right now

It’s hard for me to work up the energy to go out

I’m terrified that you will forget me

Right now I can’t do the things I used to

I want you to talk to me

I don’t want you to feel sorry for me

I want to be the old me

Even though I can’t really picture her

If you can

Maybe you could help me remember her…

‘I will take what is mine with fire and blood. George R. R. Martin

I’m still trying to digest everything that’s happened in the last month or so…

Sometimes it feels like it’s all happening to someone else

And other times I feel like it’s happening to me over and over

Like a weird Groundhog Day movie thing

Things were so off leading up to going to Florida

That I feel like I’ve never really regained my footing

Maybe I came back to Toronto as someone else

I don’t know

Except it’s been fitting with the way my life has always sort of seemed to go

You know the saying:

‘If it wasn’t for bad luck I’d have no luck at all…’?

Right now looking back at Florida

It seems like a really bad nightmare

I was so sick

And I didn’t know why

The bruises appearing out of nowhere

And the blood

Well I won’t gross you out with the details

Suffice it to say

It was unpleasant

After returning and finding out about my super low platelets

It all seems like a blur

I had a very rare reaction to the IVIG called aseptic meningitis

Which essentially mimics meningitis symptoms such as the headache and neck pain

It eventually passed and I got through it with the help of some hydro morphine

It was frustrating to be in the hospital bc no one listened to me when I explained that I was only there because of the headache/neck pain and not for the low platelets

They didn’t understand that my platelets were a result of the Lemtrada treatment and kept saying but you had the last dose over a year ago

While I do have notoriously bad luck

For some reason I was gifted with an incredible hematologist doctor from St. Mikes

She gave me her email address

And responded to my many emails

And even contacted Humber to explain my situation and why I could be released

From the minute I met her

I knew she was different

She cared not only about my platelets but about my mental health as well

Truly not something I’ve often experienced

Even while being treated by ‘mental health professionals’

After leaving the hospital I was so bruised and sore from all the blood tests and I won’t even begin to explain the bacterial infection I picked up from the hospital

I had another blood test early in the week and then a follow up appt at St. Mikes later in the week

I tried to not obsessively check my results

And waited until late in the evening

My platelets had risen from 28 to 46!

While still nowhere close to being normal (150-400)

It seemed to be going up

I’m back from my follow up with hematology now

It wasn’t the worst case scenario I was imagining

Nor was it the ideal situation

Nope

It was somewhere in the middle

I have ITP

We don’t know if it’s permanent or not

We have to wait and see if my platelets continue to increase

The doc explained it as there are three possible scenarios:

1. I did the IVIG and I recover my platelets and ta da! The end

2. I did the IVIG and I recover some platelets but relapse and will need some sort of treatment

3. I did the IVIG and there is no improvement and will need an alternative treatment

I’ll have to wait and see which category I fall under

The real bummer from today is learning I will have to continue with weekly blood tests until told otherwise

For the record

In case you’re wondering

Or if anyone asks

I haven’t become a pro at the blood tests

It still is a big deal for me

And I still dread them

Despite this

I’m still here

I did some art

I sat outside with my dogs and the sun shining on my face

I listened to more audiobooks

This is my life

For right now

And I’m sorta okay with that

‘Language is the blood of the soul into which thoughts run and out of which they grow.’ Olivier Wendell Holmes

Feeling speechless

I didn’t think this year could possibly get worse

The universe took that as a challenge

It got so much worse

I’m home from the hospital now

I did things this week that I didn’t think I would ever be able to do

I should feel proud

Instead

I feel resentful and saddened

That I had to do them at all

After two days of immunoglobulin infusion

My platelets are still low at 28

From what I remember, this might mean that I have Immune thrombocytopenic purpura (ITP)

Refresher:

ITP is a bleeding disorder where the immune system mistakenly destroys platelets

Platelets allow us to not bleed excessively

It seems like a really big fuck you to me

I hate blood and needles and anything to do with bleeding

And the universe said

Well, here ya go

I won’t know for sure until next week

But of course I’m thinking the worst case scenarios

I’m convinced I’m dying

I’ve never had that fear before

The universe laughed

And said ‘now you do’

I’m scared

I’m sad

And I keep thinking I just can’t take any more

But I’m scared

That the universe

Will take that too

As another challenge

And I’m just not up for it