Please Don’t Ask Me When I am Going To Have Kids

One of life’s biggest questions is “what are we doing here?” Some people think that they are here to help others, while others think that they are placed on this earth to follow through on a prestigious career path. Others might think that they are here just because their parents decided to fornicate one night and then BOOM. The evolution of cells that would eventually multiply and turn into you commenced. Correct me if I am wrong, but at some point in our mundane lives, we have questioned what we are meant to be doing. What is this big job that we were assigned to when we were given passage to life? You see, I indeed have asked that question myself, but I have known that answer for as long as I can remember. I was put on this earth to be a mom. 

I don’t know how to describe this feeling that I have had for all of these years. It has just been an overwhelming feeling of maternal love that flushes through my body and soul. I remember being incredibly young and playing with baby dolls just pretending to be their mom. I know a lot of young children do that, but I would get really into it. I would love those babies like they were really there. It might have been odd, but back then it gave me a taste of happiness. I was eleven when my youngest brother was born, and I cried the moment I saw him and held him in my arms. He was one of the greatest gifts that I have ever been given, and my love for him is strong. I used to love holding him, singing to him, taking care of him. And while at times he would drive me absolutely mad with his incessant and inconvenient crying, I still loved and continue to love him so incredibly much. I used to take him for walks around the block and imagine what it was going to feel like to be doing this with my own baby, and the thought would bring a smile to my face. 

When I was thirteen or fourteen I started losing a lot of my hair. I would be taking a shower and I would watch as clumps would wash down the drain. I thought it was odd, but at the same time I had really thick hair so I didn’t think too much of it. Then my periods started becoming incredibly painful. I remember crying in hysterics because I was paralyzed from the pain. It felt like someone took a metal rod and stuck it in a fire and then shoved it inside of me. The pain always traveled to my back, and the only thing that would give me temporary relief was the bathtub. My periods starting becoming irregular, and I just knew this was not a good sign. 

Every three to four months I have to go to an Endocrinologist for my type one diabetes, and at the beginning of each appointment they always ask me about my periods. So I informed the nurse about the irregularity of my periods and how incredibly debilitating they have been, and she informed the nurse practitioner of that information. When my NP came in to see me we dived into everything that was going on, including losing my hair. After talking for a bit she informed me that she thought that I had PCOS, and to go see a gynecologist to get an official diagnosis. So off I went to the gynecologist, and a couple of weeks later I got the call confirming the diagnosis. After the doctor told me that I had PCOS, my first question was “Will I be able to have children?” To which they said something along the lines of “The likelihood of you being able to conceive naturally with having PCOS, as well as type one diabetes, is unlikely. With medical assistance, you still might not be able to conceive, and if you did it would be considered high risk.”

That crushed me. I wasn’t even sixteen at that time, and finding out that I was most likely infertile stole every ounce of hope from me. The one thing that I have wanted, that one dream that I had held on to for years was ripped from me. I understood that they said that there was a chance that I could become pregnant naturally, but to a young girl, all I heard was that it was unlikely. I was immediately placed on birth control to help balance out my hormones, and I just continued living my life. It felt like such a slap in the face at the time having to go on birth control. Obviously, I wouldn’t want to be responsible for another life at such a young age, but the idea of my body not wanting to give me the one thing I had always wanted and then being placed on a pill that would also prevent it just felt cruel. But that one phone call, that one diagnosis, and every gynecologist appointment haunted me. 

I had, and continue to have, these reoccurring dreams of me being pregnant, or having children, or me being in labor. The older I became, the more these dreams would play out. In my dreams, I am happy. I am embracing my pregnant belly. I am holding, sniffing, and staring in awe at my baby. I excitedly scream “my water broke!” to my husband. It is such an incredible feeling, and then I wake up and realize it wasn’t real and I just break. Every single time. My heart is just broken. I hate my mind for putting me through that torture. 

Now that I am twenty-six and married, starting a family is at the forefront of our minds. I am prepared to start taking the medications to help me conceive, and if need be, I am willing to try IVF. But IVF doesn’t guarantee a child, so fostering and adoption might be my answer. At the end day, I really don’t care if the baby is related to me biologically. My dream and my desire to be a mother could still be a reality to a child who I didn’t grow inside of me, and I know that I will love any child with every ounce of my being. I want to help shape and mold another person into a wonderful human being, I want to help them explore and find their individuality, and I want to help figure out what their dream is so I can help them achieve it. I want to show them what it feels like to be loved and I want them to see how special they are and how much value they bring to this world. I know that one day I will be a mom regardless of how that child falls into my arms, and I have never been more ready for anything in my entire life.

There is one point that I want to make clear in this piece. The fact of the matter is, yes I am getting older and I am at the age where I could start having babies. But unfortunately, my reality is that it is going to be extremely difficult to conceive on my own. Like I stated before, I might not even conceive with medical assistance. For someone who wants children as badly as I do, imagine how it must feel when people ask me “when are you and Stephen going to start having babies?” In all fairness, it is not like I wear a badge that says “I have fertility issues,” but I also don’t think it is acceptable to ask me when we plan on expanding our family. If I had it my way, I would have two kids by now. Just because I am a woman and am happily married doesn’t give anyone the right to ask me something as personal as when I am having children. What if I didn’t want kids? What if I just had an abortion? What if Stephen was infertile? You never know what a person or a couple is going through, and having them feel the need to explain their situation is so damaging and hurtful. 

I want nothing more than to be a mom. I truly feel like that is why I am on this earth. The reality is I don’t know when or how that is going to happen, but I hold on to the hope that one day my dream will become true. But in the meantime, please don’t ask me when I am going to have kids.

Suicidal Thoughts

***As a warning, this article is about suicidal thoughts and my experience with them.

PROJECT SEMICOLON: https://projectsemicolon.com/

SUICIDE HOTLINE: 1-800-273-8255

Let’s talk about something that most people try to avoid talking about. Let’s talk about something that is affecting a good number of people, but still people don’t want to talk about it. Let’s talk about about something that is a great fear in peoples lives, so it’s not talked about. Let’s talk about suicide.

I can’t speak for other people who have suicidal thoughts, so I think the best thing that I can offer is to give you insight from what I go through. As I have stated in my previous post, “Lows,” I have bipolar disorder and severe depression. I was officially diagnosed back in high school, but it has been something that I have had to deal with for as long as I could remember.

The first psychologist that I was saw was as sweet as could be. I remember feeling like I could instantly open up to her about everything, and I truly felt safe. She had a way of talking to you that felt so maternal, as weird as that may sound, but it was always just so warm in her office. We would talk about my parents divorce, my misophonia, my goals, my fears, everything. I would look forward to seeing her, because I knew I finally could unload everything that I had been holding in. My first suicidal “event” happened one night after seeing her. I had not been feeling well mentally for a couple of weeks, and it was one of the things where you could feel your soul separate itself from your body. When I get like that, I am aware of what is happening around me, I know who I am, and I know the people that I love, but I feel like a zombie. Everything becomes hazy. I feel like I am an empty shell, and there is nothing to me anymore. I thought about death off and on before that night, but I never thought I would ever come close to doing anything. My mom and I were in the kitchen, and I literally felt as though I were already dead. My physical body was here, participating in life, but my soul, the thing that makes me me, was nowhere to be found. The medicine cabinet was in the kitchen, and I just felt drawn to those pills. I stared at that cabinet for what felt like hours, thinking about what it would  be like to take everything. Would it be painful? How much would I have to take? How long would it take? Is this what I want? Those were just a few thoughts that were going through my head. After sitting there, I got up, went to the computer, and wrote an email to my psychologist. I told her what I was feeling, what I wanted to do, and that I was scared but I felt like I couldn’t go through this anymore. After I sent it, I didn’t feel sad, angry, or relieved. I didn’t feel anything. I think I went up to my room after that, and I laid down on my bed. The pills were still on my mind. Death was still on my mind. I don’t know how much time passed from the moment I sent the email to when my mom came in my room. She looked worried. She had just gotten off the phone with my psychologist, and wanted to check on me. It was decided that I would not be attending school the next day, and that I needed to go see a doctor. I felt like I didn’t sleep at all that night. It felt like every ten minutes my mom would come in my room and put her finger underneath my nose to check if I was still breathing. I pretended as though I was asleep, but I knew she was there every time she came in. The following morning my mom had informed me that she had spoken to my endocrinologist and he wanted me to be taken to a hospital immediately. So my mom, step-dad, and I went to a hospital and went into a little room and waited for a doctor to come speak to us. When someone eventually did come in, they started asking questions about what I was going through, and then they started talking about how while I was there I would still be able to work on my schoolwork. That was when my mom freaked out a little bit. She was under the impression that we were just going to talk to someone to see if I could get more help, she did not want me to be admitted. So we got up and left.

The next few years was a giant cycle. For a couple of months I would be okay, just skating on through life like anyone else, but then, just like clockwork, my soul would detach. Junior year of high school was when I officially had to be admitted to the hospital. This time it was my psychiatrist that wanted me to be admitted, so for six days I was a patient at a psychiatric hospital in Rockford Illinois. It was hands down one of the worst experiences of my life. I was terrified every second that I was there, to the point where every time my family came to visit me I would be crying hysterically for them to take me home. I wasn’t getting help, I wasn’t feeling any better, I just felt like I was in prison. I couldn’t bear to be in that place for much longer, so I learned how to be manipulative so I could convince them that I was fine. In hindsight, I should have been there a lot longer than six days. But it was an environment that I did not feel safe or comfortable in, so it was doing more harm than good.

I never have been powerful enough to just will the suicidal thoughts and depression away, and I know that I will never be. Mental illness is a part of me, just like my diabetes. I do what I can to cope with it, to control it to the best of my abilities, and to get through it, but every time I’m in low, it’s just a waiting game to see  how long it will last this time. My most recent low happened a couple of months ago, and it took a lot out of me. If I were to be honest, I think that was the closest that I came to doing something since the first time with the pills. I think the thing that made me reconsider was when I was crying on the floor and my dog came up next to me. I could feel her weight on me while she was licking my tears away, and it felt so comforting. I try to distract myself as much as I can when I’m having my thoughts. That particular night I cleaned and scrubbed every square inch of my apartment. Then, when there was nothing else left to clean, I sat on my bedroom floor, put on my headphones, turned on Falling in Reverse, and just held on to my dog. My dog, Luna, is incredibly intuitive, and she always knows when something is wrong with me. We have such an amazing bond, and I really think that she gives me strength when I am in a low.

Every person has their own way with handling things. My way is the right way for me, but it’s not going to be the right way for everyone. For me, when I am in a low, I know how to mask the pain that I am feeling. I guarantee that if I didn’t tell people what I go through then no one would ever know. But after all of these years, I’m sick of hiding this illness like it’s a shameful secret. I shouldn’t need to feel ashamed or suppressed because of the fear of how others would react. I have had people tell me that I am crazy, that I need to just get over it, and that I am dragging other people down with me. But the thing is, I am not crazy. I work hard every day to cope with my mental health. And the absolute LAST thing that I want to do is drag people down with me. I know that this is my battle, hell I have been battling this for most of my life, but every time I come out of a low and I am still alive and breathing, I feel as though I just added another piece of armor to myself. A little less than a year ago I added something to my body to help me when I am in a low. I got a semicolon tattoo, and every time that I am in a low I hold on to it to help me realize that my life doesn’t need to end yet. The semicolon tattoo is actually from a project called “Project Semicolon.” It is to bring awareness to mental health and suicide. I will set up a link to their website, and you should really take a look at it.

One of the last things that I want to say in this article is actually a favor that I am going to ask of all of you. When someone is in a low and they come to you for help, please don’t turn your back on them. If they are expressing to you that they are feeling suicidal and you try to change the subject or avoid it because you are uncomfortable, you are not only doing an injustice to them but also being incredibly selfish. You might feel uncomfortable with the topic, but imagine the pain that they are feeling. It takes a lot of courage to realize how bad of a place you are in and to ask for help, so please, just do your best and help them. Hold them. Tell them that you love them. Give them strength. Make them see their worth. Please don’t ignore their pain.

I hope I gave some sort of insight to what it feels like to be in a low. Just remember this: just because you may not be able to see it, doesn’t mean it’s not there.

PROJECT SEMICOLON: https://projectsemicolon.com/

SUICIDE HOTLINE: 1-800-273-8255

22046735_10155842921800774_7520813157004630617_n

Diabetes-Part Two

Being a new diabetic is challenging for all parties involved. I was nine when I was diagnosed with type one diabetes, so my parents were responsible for making sure that I was getting the correct dosages of insulin, making sure that my blood sugar was staying in the correct range, and just making sure that this life-altering change would find balance in our lives the easiest way possible. For the first year after my diagnosis, learning that balance between food, exercise, and every day life was not an easy feat. We caught on pretty quickly that even if I gave myself a shot for foods like pizza and pasta that my blood sugar would still spike. We learned that if I was going to engage in a lot of physical activity to factor that into how much insulin I was going to administer to myself, and we also learned that even doctors sometimes don’t really know what they are doing.

I just remember my first endocrinologist being nice and patient, but little did we know he didn’t really have any experience with juvenile diabetics. My a1c (average blood sugar level for the past three months) stayed in the eights for a while, and at one point it even went a little over nine. Then, about a year after I was diagnosed, I became sick. I just remember feeling extremely nauseous and out of it, and that was when I was sent to the hospital and admitted to the ICU for DKA. DKA occurs when ones blood sugar stays high for too long, causing ketones to be present in blood. I don’t really remember that much about that incident, but I do know that I went into DKA because my insulin to carb ratios were way off, and everything had to be adjusted. After spending a week in the hospital, we found a new doctor, and things started to look better.

When you are growing up as a type one diabetic, things become way more complicated. Sleepovers become hectic because you need to make sure that you have all of your supplies and that your blood sugar stays leveled, you’re in and out of the nurses office all day at school, and you are poked with needles all of the time. It is just not a typical way for a kid to grow up. But in a weird way, even though I hated doing all of those things, I used to like being diabetic when I was younger. I think it was because of the added attention that I received, it made me feel different but in a good way. If you were to ask me now if I like being diabetic it would be a different story, but back then I liked it.

A really interesting part of my diabetes journey is that I am not the only one in my immediate family to have it. Every so often my mom, step-dad, and brother would test their blood sugar just to see if they were still healthy. Then one night we tested my brothers blood, and unfortunately his sugar was high. My mom took him straight to the hospital where he was officially diagnosed with type one diabetes, and that was when things became strange. You see, my brother and I are the only ones on  both sides of our family to have diabetes, and apparently that is very rare. When we were younger, we both did have staph infections, and our doctors best guess is that the infection went after the weakest organ, which happened to be our pancreases. No one will ever really know for sure if that is the true cause of our diabetes, but based on our history that is the closest scenario that they could come to an explanation.

There is a difference between being a child with type one diabetes and being an adult with type one diabetes. When I was younger, I knew that my medicine and supplies were expensive, but you really don’t understand until you are paying for everything on your own. The cost of living with diabetes is exorbitant, and every year the cost to be able to be alive just keeps going up. The first of January is my least favorite day of the year, because that is when my deductible resets and for a couple of months money is tight. I’m going to break down a small list of expenses so you can get a better understanding of the cost.

  1. Insulin (Humalog) – $278 every seven to ten days
  2. Insulin pump supplies – $500 – $800 every three months
  3. Endocrinologist appointments – $60 every three months
  4. Blood work – $450 every three to six months
  5. Test strips – $100 every month

How is this acceptable? I have been on diabetes forums where I have read about people who are having to choose between buying groceries and insulin. Or paying bills or buying insulin. I remember there was one woman who didn’t have a penny to her name and said that she was on her deathbed because she couldn’t afford to pay for her insulin or care. Is this the world that we live in now? Where the corporations who manufacture and sell these life saving medications are more interested in making a considerable profit rather than allowing people to live? It absolutely disgusts me, and the people who run those companies may have deeper pockets, but the price that they had to pay for those pockets came at the cost of strangers blood.

Adjusting from being a child living with type one diabetes to being an adult can an easier transition if you do it correctly. When I was about sixteen I started taking myself to my own appointments. When I was eighteen I started calling in and picking up my own insulin, and when I was twenty I started paying for my own care. You don’t realize how much work it takes to be in charge of your own well-being, but if you can have a smooth transition it makes all of the difference.

When it comes to diabetes, everyone is on their own path and journey. I have talked to so many different diabetics and we all have swapped our stories. I have spoken with people whose a1c has never been below ten, I have spoken with people who decided they hated their insulin pump and switched back to manual injections, and I have spoken with people  who only see their endocrinologist one time a year. Everyone is different with how they manage their diabetes, and it is always so fascinating to be able to talk to a fellow diabetic and know that you’re not alone.

Diabetes is a journey that can be excruciating in every way possible. You can become resentful of the body that has betrayed you, and it can lead you into a negative mindset that could affect your health. Most diabetics that I have spoken with, including myself, have gone through that phase. The most important thing is to have a support system and to have an excellent endocrinologist, because those two factors will make all the difference.

For now, type one diabetes has not found a cure. But it is also not a death sentence. Acclimating to this life is challenging at first, but within time, it will become your new norm.

Diabetes- Part One

556 is the magical number that forever changed my life the moment I heard it. Fourth grade was definately a hectic year with several changes. My mom married my step dad, we moved to a new home, I started a new school, my dad started dating someone new, and I was also diagnosed with type one diabetes.
I still remember the day of my diagnosis like it was yesterday. For a couple of months prior to my official diagnosis I was experiencing sypmtoms that I didn’t know were actually sypmtoms at all. I felt exhausted at all times, I experienced extreme thirst, and due to my frequent intake of water I was going to the bathroom constantly. I had also lost eight pounds in one week. It became so bad that I remember carrying around a huge jug of water with me and drinking it as I was peeing. It was a terrible feeling. After a while my mom became worried and set up an appointment with my pediatrician.
When we went to his office and I told him what was happening, he instantly had a worried look on his face and said “Oh, that really does not sound good.” My doctor is the kind of doctor that was always smiling and telling jokes, so the fact that his smile was absent really frightened me. A nurse came in with a meter and poked my finger to test my blood sugar, and it was so high that the meter could not read it. That was when my doctor told my mom that he believed that I was diabetic. I just remember my mom crying hystarically and I just felt so confused. Now, just as a sidenote, I have this weird habit where if I am in an uncomfortable situation I laugh. Hard. So when I saw my mom crying I just fell apart in laughter. We were then told that we had to go to the hospital immediately, and that was when I was rushed to the nearest hospital.
While in the ER, they were able to determine what my blood sugar was, which was 556. It was official. I was a type one diabetic. I was then hooked up to an IV, and they admitted me and transferred me to a room. My mom had contacted my dad while we were on our way to the hospital, but for reasons that escape me he was unable to come right away. However, a couple of hours later when he did come, he had a worried look on his face. My dad came over to me immediately and hugged me and told me that he loved me, and I instantly felt relieved that he was there. (I am a daddy’s girl.)
I remember speaking to a couple of different doctors and not really understanding what was happening to me. The same day that I was admitted, a nutrionist came in to discuss how my diet was going to have to change. Sugar was definately out of the diet plan, and my carbohydrate intake was minimal. Mind you I am also a vegetarian, so getting enough protein and actually feeling full was quite a challenge. The nutrionist did make me try turkey while I was in the hospital, but I ate one bite and said that I was not going to eat meat. I spent countless hours practicing how to give myself shots, how to check my own blood sugar with my own meter, and speaking with doctors. After a couple of days in the hosiptal, I no longer wanted to see another doctor for the rest of my life, but then one doctor came to visit me that made me feel so special. My pediatrician came to my room unexpectedley to make sure I was doing alright. He gave me a huge hug, and he also gave me a new teddy bear. It was so sweet. When he found out that my blood sugar was starting to come down he even started smiling again. I was diagnosed with diabetes twelves years ago, but the fact that my doctor came to the hospital to check up on me still makes me want to cry. It was just so sweet and kind of him.
I still had a few days in the hospital ahead of me, and during those days it was still constant learning and adjusting, but on the ninth day of being in the hospital I was finally discharged. Being a new diabetic in the hospital is one thing, but when you are out and back in reality without doctors and nurses taking care of you that’s when it gets tricky.

I will continue with my story another time. Stay tuned!