Monday, June 26, 2017

At what cost?

I've been thinking about a lot of things lately: my health, insurance, school, money, my future, and the list goes on and on. Lately, they all seem to be blurring into one huge stormy raincloud. Thankfully, my health is stable right now. But the rest are just a huge "I don't know".

Let me start by saying that I haven't been myself lately and I'm not quite sure when that'll change. The point of this blog was for me to talk about things affecting my life, both Arthritis related and not, and part of me doing that is being honest.

That being said, I haven't been myself lately because of the factors listed above.

School is insane. I'm not going to go into it because I feel like a broken tape player that keeps replaying the same song over and over again. To sum it up, I've been working on a huge portion of work for months now with no idea if it'll even matter. That means that until the higher ups feel that it should matter, I have to stay where I'm at in the program (Here's where my future comes into play). All while still working for the higher ups on literally everything and anything else they can think of. That's just the dissertation part of it, then there's classes, practicum, and work.
To sum it up: I feel like I'm on a treadmill and I've got this paper that says "PASS" in front of me on a string and I keep running towards it, but I can never reach it.

Insurance and Money go hand in hand. I had a meeting today with this guy about health insurance because I get kicked off of my parents in August. We've always known that this was going to be something we all were going to hate. Well, we were right. It's insane to me that because of my preexisting condition, I have very limited choices. Turns out I'll be paying around 400-500 a month for health insurance....oh and that doesn't cover my shot which is a speciality drug either...or dental....or eyes. And yes, I know what you're thinking: most insurances don't. Well, see, because of my wonderful preexisting condition and all the symptoms that come with it, I have to see a dentist and eye specialist every 6 months. So that we'll figure out later. Back to the shots, my shot is around 1100 dollars a month I believe, you can ask mom if you're really interested. The insurance that I will have only covers half of that. So what's 400-500 + let's say another 500....that's 900-1000 dollars a month. FOR HEALTH INSURANCE. Thankfully, I have a wonderful family that are able to help me with this cost. They wouldn't let me put a craigslist ad out for "Marriage for an insurance card", so instead they are doing what they can to help me. Being a student I barely make 400 a month as it is, not to mention rent, food, gas, electricity, and student loans only cover so much. This makes my brain go crazy though. What about those who are like me? Who are worse than me? How do they get their medications, let alone be seen by a doctor at all? We need better options, we need more options, and we need cheaper options. And having a preexisting condition shouldn't matter either way.

I was asked by the higher ups not to long ago if I had considered delaying a year in the program because the higher ups were worried about my mental and physical health, and quality of my dissertation, not that this was an issue, but simply a "precaution" and if you ask some, a conspiracy...but that's another story for another time. Side note: this was the spark that started the downhill ball of flames. I respectfully asked if there was a reason for me to do so and when there was no reason stated back to me, I responded that I could get the work done and I have done so thus far without a problem. "But at what cost", was the response I got.

That stuck with me.

It still echoes in my head at night.

At what cost.

That's always the question. And the answer every single time is: Everything.

This dream I have of pursuing my doctoral degree would be nothing if I did not put everything I had into it. The same is said if I'm held back. Nothing is going to change except the cost rises because then I'll have to pay for my insurance longer than I would if I matched with an internship site and got it through them. Oh and my level of stress because I'll still be in the same hamster wheel.

A dream is not a dream if you don't fight for it. It's not a dream if you don't put every bit of energy, blood, sweat, and tears into it just for a shot that that dream might come true.

Yes, I realize i'm talking about school. However, if you were in my head right now, you would see that this is how I'm having to think about it.

I care about this work, I care about the people around me, and I care about doing my best at my job.

I'm doing everything in my control, which is very little, to get my part done. That way, if it crumbles to the ground, I can walk away knowing I did everything I could.

I'm currently working at UF Shands Trauma One Center in Jacksonville as a practicum site. I'm driving there Tuesdays after class and I'm coming back Wednesday nights. I can't tell you how grateful I am for this experience. It couldn't have come at a better time, honestly. Being there is a daily/weekly reminder of what I want to do, the setting I want to do it in, and the people I want to work with. I'm working with individuals at their lowest. They are torn a part, broken, beaten down, and some, some have had everything taken from them in a split second due to something as simple as falling down and hitting their head wrong. Seeing the rawness, the vulnerability, and the resiliency that people have is amazing and life changing. This is why I haven't given up. This is why I keep pushing forward. My stress right now is nothing compared to theirs. I understand that everything I write about is something that everyone experiences and that it's just my turn to go through it. That doesn't make it any less sucky though.

My mentor who just left me to go live life on the west coast told me once, "You've got to remember why you're doing this, that'll get you through it".

So, again, at what cost?
Everything. Because I know what I'm meant to do and what I love doing, therefore I'm going to give it everything I have to reach that dream. It might not feel like it's going to be ok, but it's gonna be what it is and I have to be okay with that.

Tuesday, June 6, 2017

One big family

I just got home from getting my stitches out and I'm sitting here on my bed with so many thoughts in my mind. I've got a running to-do list, ideas for blog posts, things I need to be doing but I'm not, people I should text to see how they are, and the list goes on and on.

It's hard to stay afloat.
I know everyone feels this way in their own lives, I get that, I know that.
But why is this feeling a constant feeling I have?
Stay tuned for my next blog post.

Amidst these feelings of treading water in my own life, I'm also thankful.

Two weeks ago tomorrow, I had surgery on my knee. Now, I know that this wasn't some big ACL tear fix or anything like that. However, any surgery is big when it involves an arthritic joint.

What was supposed to be a 15 minute surgery, was an hour and a half long.

I'm not going to go into details, but the joint was cleaned up, a cartilage tear was fixed, and my plica (plica is a fold of synovial membrane most commonly in the anteromedial aspect of the knee. Plica are present in about 50% of the population and are thought to be the remnants of embryonic connective tissue that failed to fully resorb during your fetal development. Luckily, most plicae are asymptomatic) was removed.

The pictures are pretty cool too!

I gave myself a few days rest (2 to be exact), then began working from home. I had to walk on it and actually walked about 30 minutes after I awoke from surgery. I couldn't drive though.

During that next week, I was amazed and incredibly grateful for the amount of people that helped me get from place to place. My parents drove me back to Tally, helped me get groceries, and made sure I was set up with all that I needed before they left. But because they had to work and I couldn't miss school, I relied on my amazing friends to help me out.

I had people taking me and picking me up from school and work. I had friends driving me to target to get bandaids, one that came to pick up papers for me that needed to be dropped off, and one came to me because I needed something notarized.

For FIVE days, my amazing friends went out of their way to help me.

It goes to show that even though horrible, terrible things happen in this world, love is still around.

These friends have become my family away from home and I'm forever thankful for all that they did during that time to help me (and all that they still do)!

This program is rough, in every sense of the word, and I can't imagine how I would have gotten through this week had I not had help.

We truly are one big family and whether it's nights of complaining about the program or driving around Tallahassee, we are there for each other.

Thank you :)


Now let the fun PT adventures begin, UGH! I hate PT. Get ready blogging world, I feel some hot thoughts coming on lol!

Tuesday, April 25, 2017

The big 3

I'm sitting here trying to find the words in my brain that can describe the emotions that I'm feeling. You would think that being in the field I'm in that this would come easy to me. But talking about you, thinking about you, is never easy. This semester has been the hardest semester of my life and having this day fall in between two extremely important defenses makes it almost unmanageable.

Three years. It has been three years since I've seen your face or heard your voice. I was thinking about it this morning, does it truly get easier?

I know last year I wrote you a letter. I guess that's my way of coping or an attempt at coping.
For those of you reading that need some background information, here you go:

http://ribbonsbowsandhospitalbracelets.blogspot.com/2016/04/34.html

This year I'm just going to talk to you, like you're sitting here on the couch with me in an apartment you've never been in. If we were back at your place, you'd be in your chair in the corner watching everyone around the room with a smile on your face because you were just happy to be with us.

Even though you aren't here, I see you everywhere. Just the other day a beach boys song played and I stopped to think about all those times you drove us to baseball practice with their CD blaring in your truck. Every time it's a beautiful day and the sun is shining, I think of how much you would love to be at the beach with us.

You remember a few weeks ago when I went home for Easter and we were all outside watching Adele play? I could almost hear you laughing because Delayney was acting just like Michael when she didn't want to wash the dog off!

You were there. You're always there.

You're there every single time I doubt myself in this program. Every time I want to quit because I'm stressed and I have zero confidence in myself, I think of that day. You know the one! The day that I told you I got into the masters program here at FSU. I told you it was time you returned to your roots and rejoin the seminole tribe, that Michael could share you cheering for both teams now. I handed you the seminole hat and the look on your face. That look keeps me going.

This week has been hell and the only thing keeping me going right now is how proud you were of me that day. I don't want to let you down. I won't let you down.

I truly wish you were here right now. I could really use a candy run! You know, that's a good idea. I'll take the girls for one this weekend. We talk about you all the time, you know Roxy is turning out a lot like me and you. No, that's not a bad thing. But I swear she's just as stubborn as us!

I can totally hear you right now asking me why I'm crying. You know why, so don't make me say it.

I'll give Michael a hug from you and the girls, mom, and aunt Kim a kiss. I'll call and tell Mommalaine you love her and that you're proud she's still taking those traveling adventures.

Don't worry, we know you're here with us, always.
I love you, 3.

Friday, January 20, 2017

Today is a Monumental Day

Today is a big day. No, I’m not talking about the Country. No more talk of politics for me right now, I’m exhausted from it. 
Today is a big day for me. 
Big doesn’t begin to describe it. Monumental, that’s better. Today is a monumental day for me. 

Today marks the one year anniversary of no prednisone.  ONE WHOLE YEAR without taking a single milligram.

Now, I know you’re probably thinking, “why is she celebrating this?” or “I really don’t get why she’s so excited about medication”. 

Go back and read these and you can kind of get an idea why I’m so excited.

I’ve tried many many times to do this before and I’ve never lasted more than a week.
I still feel like it won’t mean as much to anybody other than me, but that’s okay. 
I’m not going to let anyone stop me from celebrating!

This was something I never thought I would be able to do.
So much so, that I literally told my Rheumatologist: “Good luck trying to get me off 1 milligram, my body can’t do it. I’ve been on it for over 9 years now and it’s yet to be done”.

She told me we were gonna try anyway.

January 20th, 2016 I woke up and did not take my 1mg pill. That was day 1. 
I went through hell. Mentally, physically, and emotionally. 
My body had gotten so used to having something, that it did not know how to function without it. 
My body had to essentially learn how to remake the pieces that the prednisone replaced. 
I was moody; high and low, depressed and angry, and exhausted all the time.
It was a really bad first 6 months. 
And I’m not exaggerating, you can ask anyone who was around me during that time and they’ll be happy to tell you! 

After that, I was somewhat back to normal. 
I still, to this day no lie, struggle mentally.

Let’s take a few weekends ago. I woke up and could barely move. I laid in bed all day watching Bridget Jones and cuddling with Adele. I was hurting everywhere. The old Kara could have gotten up and popped a 5mg prednisone and would have been fine in a few hours. The new Kara knew that she could easily do that, but had to force herself to forget that the pills were there because she didn’t want to relive the first 6 months again. I find myself sometimes craving a solymederol drip (liquid prednisone) because I know I’ll feel that instant gratification of no pain. Like, if I could just go get an IV, I know I would feel better. 

Knowing you’re in pain and have the medication to stop it, but will not allow yourself to take it….that’s a struggle. 
Constantly outweighing the pros and cons of the steroid and how healthy your body has become since being off of it, are all things that go through my mind.

If you’ve ever taken it, you know the effects…now multiple that by 9 and you have me. 
I see that I’m better and that I’m able to handle what pain I’m experiencing. 
If I had known then what I know now, would I have tried to stop sooner? 
I honestly couldn’t tell you. 
I’m have a great list of medications that I wasn’t on before. My doctor actually thinks I’m under-medicated which I think is funny!

But everything happens when it’s supposed to happen, I trust that. 

“Kara, why do you still have the pills?”

I still have them incase there’s an emergency. Incase I wake up one day and I’m too sick to handle something myself. 
I can never allow myself to be unprepared for something. 
My immune system is too unpredictable for that. 
I have said though, that I will NEVER go back on them due to the hell I went through coming off. But in emergency/hospital situations, I’ll allow it. 

I’ve done it once, I can do it again, right?

Hopefully, that never happens.

But really, one year.
I’ve been able to go one year when I’ve never lasted more than 7 days. 

I still can’t believe it!