4 Weeks Pre-Transplant Official “Yes” Mindspace

I am so bored… my mood was alright until the past few days.  Maybe it was because of my last therapy session where we talked about death, and a part of me just felt kinda bummed.  What if I die?  That’s just the end… and I really wish I could do so much more before my time is up.  I’m also so sad at the thought of leaving my family.  But these thoughts aren’t very helpful since they’re out of my hands.  It also could be that everything goes well and all this worrying was for nothing. Despite my hanging on to the success stories, there are so many people, young people my age who have passed away either through an unsuccessful surgery or after a year or two.

How to stay motivated and productive? IDK. I am actually tired of Mario Kart now since I play religiously for a couple hours everyday, and I am also getting road rage at Waluigi and other characters.  I’ve started trying some cooking recipes this week, but none of them made me that happy because it wasn’t super successful or delicious.  I have this weird thing lately where I keep trying to fill a void by trying new things and getting really excited, but then being like “oh that was just ok” after.  For example, the recipes, and ordering a bunch of korean instant noodles, and now looking at clothes and I want to buy everything, but I know I don’t NEED some of these items.

I have dealt with a few minor insurance things this week, and then wondering what to get my brother for his birthday.  It’s tough!  Hard to know what he would actually like or find useful.    I also finally measured my body parts so I know exactly what kind of clothes would fit me well.  I also contacted a couple apartments in Philly to get some information on the places we could stay at post-transplant recovery.

I’ve been continuously working on lessening my impact on the environment.  Steps I’ve taken the past year and recently:

  1.  Dropps – eco-friendly laundry detergent.  I can’t really tell the difference in the usage of it, but I only bought a sample pack so far.  It comes shipped in a brown cardboard box and dissolvable plastic.
  2. Hydroflasks + Swell – Reusable, High Quality Water Bottles for my family and me.  No more plastic bottles unless emergency use
  3. Reusable Grocery Bags – we got some wegman bags, but 50% of the time we forget to bring them or use them when we go grocery shopping.  Still in progress.
  4. Metal + Bamboo Straws – either reusing plastic straws that we have at home, refusing plastic when we go out to eat, and buying reusable straws instead
  5. Everlane clothes that are eco-friendly and also ethical.

Now my internet knows I’m interested in these types of things and I keep getting ads, which I don’t entirely mind.

It’s now Friday late at night, and I feel a bit better (I started this post at the beginning of the day).  Tomorrow my dad and I are going to bake and maybe go grocery shopping for a little bit.  In a sense, my dad is my best friend and the most comfortable person to be around, and he always does things for me with endless patience and tolerates my tempers.  In regards to the therapy session about death, I have decided to buy each of my family members and maybe friends a special gift, one that they will always associate with me.  It doesn’t have to be anything extremely unique or fancy, but something we had talked about or whatever.  I have decided to buy my mom a pair of earrings, because we have talked about it forever, and I want the design to be special from her other earrings, so I looked on Etsy.  I don’t know what to do about everyone else yet, but I have time.

Claire Wineland died at 21 years old after a lung transplant.  But she is my hugest inspiration and role model, because she achieved more and looked on life in a positive perspective that most people who have lived far longer will never manage or appreciate.  Time is truly short, and with that, she always enjoyed her time with her family and friends, did what she loved, started a foundation, gave uplifting speeches, and became an adviser for a movie (“Five Feet Apart”).  Like, damn girl.  And she managed to stay beautiful in every possible way.

While I’ve gone through a bum wave, I am now thinking again about what it would be like to walk more than a couple minutes and not be exhausted, to spend time hanging out with a group of friends and not have to recover the next day, to be able to explore and travel, in the cold and in the heat, walk up a slight incline or stairs and not be out of breath, holy fuck, I think the truth is everyone else is living the life of a superhero, but most people are oblivious to the miracle that they are and all that untapped potential.  The body and mind is made up of a million mini functions and organs that work together to keep you alive every second of every day.  To have zero issues in any of those departments is indeed, a walking miracle and the ultimate blessing.

What life has thrown at me, most of us will experience eventually, just I am going through it earlier and more intensely.  When faced with greater pressure and intensity, one can also manipulate the sour lemons into greater perseverance and make something bigger out of it.  I’m not sure exactly what that is yet, but I want to discover it.  Most of us are more alike than we realize; we can feel self-conscious, worry about what others think, and that can manifest itself in anything from using a wheelchair to having a pimple.  I guess in that sense, it calms me down to know that I am not that different after all, and definitely not that alone.

 

Advertisements

The Calm Before the Storm

03.14.19

I’ve been oddly peaceful lately… in some ways, this is preferable to crazy anxiety and insomnia, but I wonder if some part of my brain has become dumber and switched off an activation code lately.  I’ve reverted back to the days of a 7 year old relying heavily on their parents to feed them, get them things, and spend time with them.  It may be a coping mechanism, but it could also be that I have resolved on my plan for this year and just need to map out the kinks and details at this point.

For example, I am a Medicaid patient, and I had called them recently to get more information.  This week, I was sent three letters and packages in the mail from them, not small by any means.  These packets included a living will, a case manager they offered to assign to me to help me with all this confusion, and another enrolling me in a pulmonary education program.

Here are some things I really want to change in our healthcare system as well as disability assistance in common places such as work, our community, and our cities (I’m looking at you, NYC).  We should always have the automated doors, we should always have elevators or sloped walkways, especially when that poor mom fell down the stairs trying to carry both a stroller and a child alone down the subway.  These are two of the most basic disabled rights that I can think of off the top of my head, although I also think it would be totally fair to make offering straws illegal unless a disabled person requested one.  Even though disabled rights have improved over the years, we are still so far away from what is actually fair and equal.

Five years ago, I similarly went through rigorous research, but that time, my desperation and panic led me nowhere.  I messaged Harvard professors and emails prestigious sounding doctors, of which I remember one advising me sternly not to to seek any stem cell therapy centers, and to insist that I get a lung transplant.  To me, a lung transplant was the epitome of death.  Now, it is a chance for hope and a better future and quality of life, even though death is still there in the picture (I am actually going to be diving into the outlook on death for my next therapy session this week).

03.16.19

I’ve been on Youtube a lot lately and watching mostly mukbang videos, The Voice, and World of Dance clips.  But in between, I also watch Youtubers who share their lives in living with a disability, and there’s one channel that features an inter-abled couple.  I always felt like a part of me was more enlightened and more patient, and kinder, and understanding because of everything I’ve been through.  But a part of me also understands the comments that are incredulous, sometimes borderline mean, that ask how such a couple exists and is okay with handling the “burdens” of care-taking.  I think maybe a fear of mine is that even as a technically handicapped and sick person, I still hold prejudice and still aim to separate myself from other disabled people.  I remember one time in college, the Office of Disabilities told me I could hang out with the other freshman kid who was in a wheelchair.  I also remember feeling resentful that I was by default, lumped in with the other kid as if we were the same kind, and also resolving to do everything I could do to fit in with “normal” students, and not associate myself with him.  Some time later, I remember seeing him walking by, us making eye contact briefly, and me thinking he was pretty cute.  Eventually, he was walking by on a cane and often accompanied by an attractive girl, and I felt pretty ashamed for ever disassociating myself from him just because he was in a wheelchair.

I love my mom and dad, but to be honest my childhood was difficult.  My mom was always stressed out and this caused her to be very impatient, often getting angry with me for things that were out of my control, like having a poor appetite and not being able to finish meals, and eating slowly, and needing her to drive me to school everyday.  Looking back now, I am much more understanding of her experiences and struggles in raising a different abled kid, especially when neither of us really understood it, and she was already dealing with a lot of personal, separate problems. I guess despite my understanding her especially now that she is a lot more patient and calmer and we communicate more, I fear that I would be the same type of parent or girlfriend,  I would still run away or deal poorly with any signs of hardship that wasn’t solely my own.

Birthday Blessings

I am officially 26! … I have graduated from the bracket of age 18-24, occasionally 18-25.  Apparently I’m not truly “old” or in my “late 20s” until I’m 27.

I feel really lucky to have wonderful family and friends to make me feel loved.  Even though one could argue that my quality of life has gotten worse, that is only physically.  Mentally, I’ve become stronger, not without the help of therapy.  My perspective on life has changed, and I’ve grown more hopeful and better enough to fight for a future that could improve my possibilities of things I could experience, a life that I had only imagined since I’d grown up.  I’d be able to run, hang out with friends an entire day without feeling exhausted, I’d never feel short of breath again from walking a couple blocks or walking up stairs, and I’d never have to feel that dizzy, wobbly, bursted feeling whenever I did try to push that boundary.

I was pretty satisfied with a casual hangout with my college friends last weekend, and determined to enjoy the present for all the happiness it offered.  I kept getting expected and unexpected love, which included 3 delicious cakes, two books, a Nintendo Switch, a Nordstrom gift card, a heated blanket, balloons, flowers, and a lovely Cajun style seafood dinner with family.

My heart is full, and all these memories just remind me not to take anything for granted, and to keep trying my best for an optimal future with the people who matter most.

P.S. Got another last minute visit from my friend and her baby today (Tuesday)!  He is growing up so fast, this is my first time seeing a baby every couple months, and it’s crazy to me how quickly he picks up things and how beautiful of a child he is.  I also have firsthand appreciation of a mother’s full-time work in looking after another human being.  They gave me an orchid plant and another birthday balloon!  Whoo-hoo.  For reals, most of my life I was bitter and resentful of anyone who I thought was a friend but ended up not being there for me.  It may be because of my change in perspective, but all I feel is joy in mattering in other people’s lives, and that I have friends who offer to drive me to UPenn at all touches me.  We don’t know if we have another minute, day, week, years, or a lifetime to spend with our loved ones.  I’d always been on a rush to live as fully as possible whenever my body allowed me, and it only makes me more determined to live longer and healthier because now I have fully understood the meaning of life and my place on this earth, and I will not take it for granted if I had a second chance.

To-Do Now / Bucket List Post Transplant

BUCKET LIST POST TRANSPLANT

  • Skydiving (maybe, we’ll see what the doctors say)
  • Play with a baby elephant
  • Dance classes
  • Make a vocal cover
  • Travel as much as possible – one trip with friends, as many with family as possible (see future blog post on destinations, particularly landmarks)
  • live in NYC for 1+ month
  • Check out Wicked on Broadway
  • Go hiking, just cause I can
  • Taekwondo (maybe)
  • Get a high paying job – buy my parents a really nice present (trip abroad?? Celine Dion concert??)

TO-DO NOW

  • Continue learning Korean
  • Watch Hasan Minhaj Netflix special, learn more about Saudi Arabia women’s rights
  • Continue UN online volunteering
  • Learn more SQL / data science things / Tableau
  • Read up on 2020 presidential candidates
  • Do some basic leg exercises
  • Try to gain some weight
  • … other useless things I should not to-do… like The Bachelor (darn you, Erin!), mukbangs, and Toon Blast

Lung Questions and Stresses

  1. Since my diagnosis is obliterans bronchiolitis, with a lung transplant, technically should be cured?
  2. Would the lung function immediately be high, or would it be low and slowly improve over time?
  3. Two incisions under boob (video assisted thoracic surgery?  or one across?  Dr. Cantu had mentioned two incisions which heals faster)
  4. How would we know when we can go off the ventilator?
  5. Are we very conscious the days following surgery?
  6. Chest tubes I heard are painful ?
  7. Dr. lee mentioned some improvements made since the time I got evaluated 2 years ago- can you give me some more info on that?
  8. Support group —> particularly for parents; and info session link.
  9. How would the cold affect my new lungs?  i know sick people are risky, how would that compare to cold weather?
  10. Dr. lee would present to case, then would i be activated on the list?
  11. When we get the call for a lung transplant, do we get to know what the age is of the donor, besides high-risk factors?  What are the determinations for a qualified donor lung?
  12. What is the opinion of the lung transplant’s team ?
  13. Can I go skydiving?

215 662 6200, press 3 for lung team

Emergency call 215 662 4000, ask to be connected to provider on call.


I think because I’ve had therapy for 4 years, I’ve gone through the 5 stages of grief.  Obviously, I’m not “ok”, but I’m okay enough to understand and accept that this is what I have to go through eventually if I want to live.

My mom on the other hand, is definitely going through all stages of grief.  I think even though doctors have told her in the past, she was always in denial and firmly kept believing that there were other things she could do to maintain me where I was.  Like giving me chinese medicine, having me avoid certain foods, and being upset at my dad because he didn’t move us to a warmer climate (California).  While it may be true that that that could’ve helped, or prolonged my diagnosis, it is also true that that would not have been a cure at all.  Functioning at 19% was a miracle for the time that I’ve grown up, but I had never known otherwise.

I’m really worried about my mom and how my parents will handle this, particularly if it goes south.  She kept having a meltdown and saying that there’s no point in living without me, that her meaning in life was for her kids and her family.  It is really burdensome for me to hear this, and part of what is making me uneasy and hesitant to tell the lung transplant team that I’d like to move forward.  Her stress is understandable, but it definitely is bouncing the stress over and over between us.  I want her to separate our lives a bit, because like Michelle Obama said, you are only responsible for your own happiness.   My acceptance and peace that it could all end up okay was faltering, and I ended up having a terrible nightmare of me being chopped into pieces like ham, and being sewn together with body parts of another person.  I saw blood on the bedsheets and all that, it was pretty horrifying.

I also had doubts that I’d have the strength and determination to swallow all those pills daily for the rest of my life.  But of course, when I thought of the bad things, I forgot about the good things, and vice versa.  I was trading in my life now, for a new life where yes, I’d have different risks and complications, but I could be able to breathe and run and dance and travel.  I think I would feel superhuman at that point.

Also, the cabin fever is really wearing me down.  Every winter, I feel like I’ve lost my mind, and wonder how I was able to make it through each year. Quite honestly, the quality of life imo is appalling.

A Wise Woman Once Said…

Aka my therapist.

One day I was rambling about my insecurities and how anxious I felt by what other people thought of me.  I was probably describing one of the many moments in which I used a handicap spot or some other form of assistance, while aware of someone’s eyes on me, observing, probably judging whether I was abusing the system or just straight up not actually ill.  My paranoia was always getting the best of me, and it’s a very vulnerable feeling, when someone’s singular subtle action or movement could destroy you in a breath.  Why do we let people control us like that? Why do we tend to care so much what other people think?

My therapist said to me at this point, that I was battling two things.  The first was the very real struggles I deal with, emotionally and physically, the things I can’t fix, factors completely out of my hands.  The second was myself, and very fixable in how I perceived, intercepted, and reacted.  It was so cliche, but the way she said it clicked for me.  Why was I creating an extra layer of struggle when I had enough to juggle on my plate?  Wasn’t it enough that fortune or people made life difficult, why was I piling on more for myself?  It was just extra, useless energy.


These were the reasons why I posted on IG and confessed publicly for the first time in my life what I was facing, the burdens that I kept buried for so long.  What was the point of keeping them secrets when this was fate and things were going to happen the way they were going to happen regardless?  In the grand scheme of things, did it really matter who knew and what they said and thought?  People will think what they want to think at the end of the day.  And when we reach this point, the end, there really is nothing much else to lose.  I’m surrendering it all by laying it all out before me.

I think more and more on what imprints I’ve left on this world.  What is it that I want to change, and how is it that I want to be remembered?

A vaguely terminal illness will bring this mentality to the forefront, especially when I’m feeling the real effects and symptoms on my body.  I broke down so hard last week that I felt like there was probably nothing left in me to go on.  I felt forgotten by the rest of the world, and wasn’t sure at this point it really mattered if anyone did reach out to me to tell me otherwise.  My mind spiraled so deep into a really dark future filled with more pain, repetitive suffering, a never-ending uphill battle, where no matter who else talked to me, I was the one who would have to go through it alone, the demise and suffocation, feeling the slow burn failings of my inner workings.  I didn’t want to go through it, I wanted to halt the brakes, but I couldn’t do anything about it.  I was tired of my mom coming in to help me with every single thing, I was tired of feeling like I was inhaling only 10% when I needed at least another 40% more oxygen through my airways.  I was so sick of my heart rate speeding up over 140 bpm if I so much as sneezed.  I guess I felt dead inside.

I called a friend, even though I felt so dead that the majority of me didn’t really want to see anyone or contact anyone.  If I passed on, people might be a tad sad for a bit, but at the end of the day, people would move on, and that would be all.  My friend miraculously cheered me up by staying optimistic and upbeat and keeping some part of me in the realistic loop of the rest of the world’s rhythm, about work, and driving home, and eating, and other mundane tasks.  We talked about stupid things, and the distraction definitely pumped a bit more energy back into me.  Things would be ok.  At least for now.  I would make it through, at least this time around.

Ending 2018 with Hospitalization

I believe the last time I was hospitalized for an RSV infection was nearly two years ago, in January of 2017.

I’d been going relatively strong for 2018, but alas, one of my expected fears became reality, and Christmas weekend I increasingly felt off until I was able to see my primary doctor on Wednesday, where unsurprisingly, she took a listen and sent me off to the ER.  It was more apparent to me that my body was failing me this time, as by Tuesday night, I felt like I was suffocating from standing up.  I actually felt like my lungs almost disappeared, and deeply aware that there wasn’t much oxygen exchange happening.  My shoulders were working double time to breathe for my lungs, and I kept bending over. I felt like I was perhaps dying, and prepared a few things before most likely heading to the ER.   My doctor said she couldn’t hear movement at all in my right side and that there was a faint wheezing on my left, which probably meant I had pneumonia, and that I looked like I was going through respiratory failure.

We arrived at Morristown Hospital around 4pm, and it was less hectic than the last time, but still a shit ton of people waiting around.  The process was so slow it felt agonizing, and I felt if I were going to die, I would have in that waiting room.  My oxygen tank ran out, and I felt so terrible that any movement felt like I was making myself run 5 miles, except I couldn’t even gasp for air because there was no air to move in my tightened airways.   My dad thankfully bugged them to move me up and give me another oxygen tank in the meantime, and finally we were moved to another waiting room area, and then wheeled to one of those stretcher curtain “rooms” where they drew blood, stuck an IV in, and I repeated answers to the same questions to about 7-8 different people.  One doctor felt that I may or may not need to stay overnight, and a few hours later, I was wheeled into a proper room.  We were there just over 24 hours when a respiratory room opened up, and there they put me on steroids and antibiotics for the first 2 days, then some doctor came and reversed that decision.  For the most part, I really liked all the nurses and doctors except for one douchey tall and young doctor.  They much improved from 2 years ago imo.

There was nothing to do but wait it out to slowly improve (hopefully).  The amount of shittiness and exhaustion I felt made me thankful that while I’d been complaining about being out of breath going up the stairs, I was now aware of what it felt like to be short of breath at rest too, which was beyond terrifying and all I could focus on.

Anyway, I was hospitalized from December 26, to January 31, 2018.  A couple people visited me, but it was very low key.  Very glad I was able to be discharged before the New Year, even if I somewhat begged for it.  My best friend came over, and we passed a very chill new year’s in my family room.  My brain has been foggy all week, so I didn’t really have time to process that it’s 2019 now.

I spent the past few days in bed on oxygen almost 24/7, and still feel winded from getting up to pee.  My oxygen drops dangerously to 88% when I do so, which is really bad and I start to feel a hint of that suffocation.  I need my normal baseline back off oxygen saturation at 96% rest, and 90% in motion.

Overall, I’m pleased with 2018, it’s been a relatively good year for me and my family and friends, so I hope 2019 is just as good or better.  The particular reason why is probably that I have zero regrets.  I usually stayed home during the winter months because  was so careful not to risk catching anything, but that’s not really living.  The whole cliche of alive, but not living.  My particular anxiety was that I’d miss my friend Lauren’s surprise proposal since it was outdoors and the weather was raining.  I considered skipping it, but couldn’t bear the idea of missing something so important.  I don’t think I got ill from that event though, but it was such a great day that I think it’s worth getting sick for. One of the worst feelings is fomo, especially caused by something you have absolutely no control over, and is a repetitive cause.  There are still so many things I’m scared about in my future, like dying, and experiencing what I felt this week on a permanent basis.  But I also grew a lot in self-love and general life experience.

I don’t pray for luck or success, I pray for the motivation and inspiration to stay positive and gain success.  If I could have a fraction of Claire Wineland’s spirit, I would consider myself blessed.

 

Nov. 11, 2018 Sunday night: The Leaves are almost Gone

I’ve been joking about having a quarter life crisis since I was 20, but I guess 25 is the “official” quarter-life crisis legitimacy age, assuming 100 is the year we would live to on average.  I just Googled it, the average U.S. age lives to a lifespan of 79 years old, apparently a whole four years longer than it was about 30 years ago.

Weather and Season:

For some reason, it seems like fall condensed in the past week- the landscapes exploded into colors of orange, yellow, and red, soon swept to dead leaves in the wind, and finally left the trees in our yard 90% barren.  We went from 70 degrees two weeks ago to 40s this week, with bouts of rainfall scattered throughout the days.

Career: 

On Friday, it was not a fun day.  I was not feeling it, with the dark skies and rain, and I was tired from driving down to Princeton for a UX/UI lecture the night before (more on that later).  The new list I was working on was also more complex and annoying – there were more factors to consider and change in the system, and none of it was as efficient and straightforward as it should be.  I have a vague idea of the role I took on at this job, but I feel like more than anything, I was hired to research and figure out all the arbitrary conditions in this process without having been properly trained.  Someone from another department messaged me, asking me to look into something I had done two months ago to an account.  For comparison, I work through about 2000-3000 accounts per week on average, and when someone messages me on something, I get anxiety on having to understand and defend myself clearly and promptly.  I needed to understand more of the background and relationship of what other departments do and how the system functions, in order to be able to defend myself on what I had apparently done and what they were looking at.  My quick research led me to believe that I had made an error, and an email was immediately sent out informing others that I had made a mistake.  After help from my co-worker, I realized that I had not been wrong in the update I made, and I therefore attempted to explain to my boss why the change had been made.  It’s just a crappy feeling, not being sure if you did make the mistake stupidly, or it was some operational error you didn’t even have clarity on.  I had apologized many times so far, but out the handful times I had been messaged on my errors, I really believe most of them were due to some of the natural margin of errors that happen when you do a lot of manual work in large amounts of data, and also due to some result I was given that nobody had a concrete idea on how to handle.  There was only one time that it was 100% a huge stupid mistake I clearly made.  None of my bosses have yelled at me or anything, but it’s this pressure I feel where I want to work hard and I really dislike having anyone accuse me of mistakes.  I’m still having doubts about my value and my worth.  I’ve learned that it’s important not to apologize, and to always do your best to find out what happened before believing it when someone tells you you made an error.

  • The UX/UI event:  I had heard about this since the last meetup I attended back in the summer, and didn’t think much about it since.  But then I got an email notification and realized that the topic was one I was quite interested in, which includes user accessibility, something that involves improvement for disabled people as well.  The user experience should prioritize that demographic as well, so I definitely enjoyed the lecture, which was given by Elizabeth Churchill, the head of the UX/UI team at Google.  It was the first time I’d been in this building, which was the one right in front of the Princeton fountain.  The auditorium I was in looked similar to the one broadcasted at the UN, and I immediately sat next to a student who had a #builtbygirls sticker on her laptop.  I talked to her, and realized that there were obviously many Princeton students as well attending, and it was hard not to feel a bit intimidated since I was suddenly aware of the high amount of intellect in this room.  I enjoyed how the speaker broke down the way they researched things at Google, and I definitely agree that a smooth interface is all the difference in whether someone wants to download an app.
  • I’ve been researching more online about what courses and topics I could learn more about and be more exposed to.  I also have been reading up a lot on job requirements, particularly those in my town.  I feel more certain now on the skills I want to target acquiring at my current job, especially those that are transferable.  I need to remind myself when I feel anxious and insecure at my job, that it takes time to pick up on all the nuances of responsibilities, and that even if I lose this job, it’s not the end of the world, and I’m sure I am better off now than I was a year ago regardless.  I can only try my best.

Health:  I shuffled my Tuesday work schedule two hours later to stop by the SSI office with my dad to figure out what’s going on with the status of my benefits.  It always gives me anxiety to go, because one time we had this really mean Indian lady who treated me like a criminal who was taking advantage and lying to her.  I put aside two hours for the trip, but thankfully, we talked to one of the front desk ladies and resolved our questions in about 20ish minutes, with probably a 20 minute wait.  I left with a pamphlet of information and more clear instructions on how to report my wages, and then realized I could head into work at 11am instead of 12pm.  I also ended up going to a deli to talk more with a new guy at work, he’s an interesting character.  I also have to figure out some insurance claims I made, and sometimes when I think too hard into things it can be overwhelming. But I’m okay for now.

The good thing is I’ve done so much research, and have a list of notes on what to further look into and learn about now.  At least I have a sense of direction on what to gain more experience on.  Bloomberg Business magazine is also really informative on world news and trends, so most of my weekend was spent between watching The Americans and reading and researching.

Adulting

Hm… so I still feel like I’m behind on a lot of things, like understanding how taxes work and what the right kind of skin ritual I should be doing at night.  But I do feel like I’ve come a long way since college.  To be frank, in the past two years I finally wrapped my head not only around therapy, but accepting that I could use medication to help with the crazy amount of depression and anxiety I had been struggling with.  I felt like I was mentally drowning so much of my life that it almost made me accept that this was the norm, and that either everyone else around me felt the same and was just handling it much better, or that I was very different and there was something wrong with me.

I still feel emotions of course- sometimes I get a bit down or upset, sometimes when I focus on my health and how different my life could’ve been if I hadn’t gotten ill, where I could’ve been.  But it’s nowhere near how I used to feel- hopeless, trapped under this giant heavy cloud that was drowning me of any ambition and motivation.  It’s therapeutic to write on here for how much of my mind is reflecting on the “negative” aspects of my life, which don’t play out too well with everyday conversation and interactions with people.

That said, adulting.  I used to feel completely naked and vulnerable whenever I had to ask someone for help, like talking to professors for understanding and assistance in my grades and absences that go hand in hand with chronic illness.  I used to feel my whole day ruined when I forced myself to trek short of breath anywhere:  to class, to the mall, just because I wanted so desperately to act as normal as I looked on the outside.  It was too much to accept how severe my health was, and that it would always be this way until it got worse.


I’m worried about getting ill and losing my job, it can make me panic to realize that my youth is leaving and my chances at a youthful life are slipping away, and even worse that these struggles will never leave- I have to simply adjust my perspectives.

But for now, I still have my job, I’m still learning to speak up about my health and reasonable accommodations for it without feeling ashamed or acting like a victim, and that so many things are out of my hands.

This week, my parents left for Taiwan.  I hope they’re having a lot of fun and enjoying their 60s.  That said, it does make things a bit harder for me, such as expending a more limited expectation on the mundane chores I have to take care of everyday- cleaning up after my dog, cooking, washing dishes.  But it’s nice being alone, so that I don’t have to talk to anybody, and I can do things at my own pace without judgment.  I rest when I have to, and give a bit of energy here and there to manage it all.  I’m trying to eat up all the food left in the fridge by myself before it all goes bad, so I’m stuffing myself with two bananas a day, eating perishable foods even though they might not be my cup of tea.

I went to UPenn Tuesday, and my lung doctor said the antibiotics appear to be working and the inflamed white lining around the hole in my lungs seems to be thinning out comparing it from April to August, which is great.  I do realize now that I’m getting closer to my usual baseline how it was definitely worse last year.  When I took deep breaths, the ceiling of my breaths were lower, so I got short of breath more severely and quickly, and as a consequence, I got more fatigued and uncomfortably short of breath/dizzy.

I was annoyed by this person who was administering my breathing tests, and he was super cheerful and when he opened up my patient charts, he was all “omg, I can’t believe you have severe COPD?? No way, you don’t look sick at all.”  I wasn’t going to say anything, but it really irks me when I get that.  So a couple seconds later, I told him “I mean, you can’t see lungs on the outside, can you?”  And he said that’s true.  He tried to make amends by saying that some people spiritually seem really low and defeated and carry it with their aura, and that I don’t. So I guess that was a slightly nicer spin.  Having these comments said to me always fed me imposter syndrome and made me feel like I was playing a special card to ask for help, because it seemed like rarely did someone believe me when I asked for help.  It’s really frustrating.

My friend from college came to visit me Friday evening, I really appreciate when friends make an effort to stay in touch with me, even if the time we see each other has stretched to a year apart.  I saw my neighbor/best friend briefly so she could help me eat some food in my fridge Saturday, then she encouraged me to go to the gym before it got even colder Sunday, so I did.  After I returned, I was again thankful that she gently pushed me to go while it was relatively nice outside (60’s).  And now, today is Sunday.  It’s cold, my nose is cold even with my sweater and socks, so I just start to feel lethargic and want to bundle up in a blanket and not move at all.  I’ve managed to be sort of productive though, and have made headway on cleaning up the bathroom and my dad’s room, and then eventually will put away my summer clothes in my room.  I’m throwing away my old pill bottles, making lunch, going to clean up the dishes soon, and then will go back up to finish cleaning and taking a shower.

My dad’s room is full of random things and it’s all over the place at the moment, which is ironic because he’s the cleanest in our house and regularly vacuums the entire house  down.  I know he’s been super busy and overworked lately, so I think now that I have energy to recharge this weekend, I am able to go and organize some of it.  My mom cleaned her room and my room before she left, so it’s nice because I am pretty crappy at folding the bed, and that takes more energy than other things.

I’m also busy cleaning up my dog’s poop, which is like 3x a day but feels so much more frequent.  When I have to raise my body in any sense vertically, like bending down to pick up her poop, I notice that it affects my heart rate much more than other movement.

Anyway, that’s all for now.

Food for Thought (Literally)

Throughout the years, I’ve been exposed to a lot of things I’ve grown to care about and follow closely.  I used to live in my own bubble, and my life mostly consisted of my parents, my piano, my books, and the internet, most of which I used to casually stalk other people on facebook, and watch korean dramas.  During my high school years was when I started to pay attention to movies and film music and start a notebook.  But it wasn’t until college that I ventured out of my bubble,  became friends with gay people, started reading up on news and politics, and discovered through experience how wrong it was to assume people thought, felt, or processed things the same way I did.  I made friends, drifted apart from friends, and learned how it was normal for shitty things to happen, but that it was still important regardless to retain my empathy and sensitivity in a healthy amount. I’m proud that I’ve decreased my level of ignorance, even though I’m sure there are still tons of things out there I’m not aware of.

And now it’s come to the chapter of post-graduation life.  In the three years since college, I’ve continued to grow by becoming more aware of myself as a person as well as building on my understanding of different issues globally.

  1.  I’ve struggled with my one-foot-in-one-foot-out stance on Christianity
  2.  One of my passions have become following the representation of Asian-Americans across the spectrum of different things, particularly media (shout-out to BTS and Awkwafina in particular this week!)
  3. I’m really disappointed in the Kavanaugh-Ford result this week, and find it harder to have faith in our government in general.  I also need to read up on what the current election situation is.
  4.  I’m now a partial-vegetarian:  I’ve been such for about 2-3 months now. I consciously avoid beef/cow and pig/pork now.  I don’t buy it, and if there were other food options I would choose the alternate food option.  The only time I still eat it is if for example, my mom made pork soup and it’s already been prepared, or if I’m at a friend’s house and it’s rude to refuse.  The reason being, from a moral perspective I’m not sure I could kill a cow or pig unless I had no choice, especially being aware that a pig is smarter than a dog, and dogs are so wonderful and intuitive.  I think I’d be okay killing a chicken or seafood though, so I still eat those.  I also understand why people consume meat, but the food should be treated with respect.  My mom used to lecture me on starving kids in Africa and never to waste food.  It gave me a lot of pressure especially since I had eating problems as a kid, but as an adult, I fully understand what she was getting at.  From my perspective, eat it if you want, but don’t just eat a bite and throw it away nonchalantly.  This is particularly for meat, because an animal did have to be sacrificed for you to fill your stomach.  And because the meat industry is so industrialized, we don’t think about this when we purchase a slab of steak at the supermarket.  That’s really upsetting to me.
  5. Related, but Americans in particular are so wasteful, and our environment is in danger.  We’re all conscious now about global warming and entire ecosystems being tainted with pollution, and polar bears drowning or starving because of us.  I know the problems are so convoluted and big that I can’t change things alone, but I’d like to rid myself of the guilt of adding to the problems.  So some changes I’ve made are to always use my refillable water bottle, and I haven’t touched a plastic bottle in the past 3 months or so.  I’ve been nagging my parents to do the same, which is ironic since my mom used to be the one to nag us.  It’s really easy to grab a plastic water bottle on the go, but in my opinion, those are there for exceptions, such as emergencies, or for a guest in need.  You don’t need a plastic bottle to use at home.  I also have been trying to put leftovers in containers so we use less plastic wrap.  We have a semi-compost situation where we throw our rotted vegetables and egg shells in a separate bin.  My next step is to buy a refillable bubble tea container, or at least a silicone or glass straw.
  6. I need to organize my clothes and Marie Kondo the old clothes that do nothing for me.
  7. Some mistakes have happened at work this past week, but not even knowing if those mistakes came from me or something else made me realize I needed to have a talk with my boss about receiving additional training.  I needed to understand from a holistic perspective about the company, and he wholeheartedly agreed and supported my thoughts.  My co-workers encouraged me to stand up for myself and have that discussion, so I feel grateful and proud of myself for again, venturing out of my comfort zone.

I guess life consists a lot about making choices that you’re comfortable with.  I can’t keep focusing on upsetting thoughts like where my potential life could be at if I wasn’t held back by my illness.  Even though there are an infinite amount of things happening around me that are terrible, I feel a bit better in the knowledge that I am trying my best to do my part to make a difference, even if it’s just a tiny bit.  At least I can live with myself, knowing I have no regrets, that I don’t have guilt in my hypocrisy, and that I continue to push through, admit to my mistakes and grow.  That’s what’s most important to me these days.