A New Beginning… Again

What a truly wild year it has been. Most people, in my experience, take the opportunity to reflect on the past year as the days inches closer to New Years Eve. But me? Well, I’ve spent the better part of this past month really tuning into myself, and reflecting on all that 2019 has brought me.

So, let me back up a little bit. In January, we kicked off the year with a mini vacation to Colorado. Skyler and I, along with some of my family, decided to head out west to celebrate my dad’s 50th birthday and visit with two of my dearest friends. On our first night in Denver, the clock struck midnight and we cheersed to my dad’s milestone year ahead. Meanwhile, a few blocks away, our rental car parked a few blocks over was being stolen with all of our belongings inside.

Fast forward 24 hours, and we were finally settled into our friends’ home, nibbling on a delicious homemade meal in front of the blazing fire place. The Denver police had miraculously recovered (most of) our belongings, and we hit the road in our new rental car towards the snowy ski town of Winter Park. Over the next few days, we skied down miles of beautiful trails, snow mobiled through the magical woods, soaked our aching muscles in the warm sulphur springs, ate, drank, and enjoyed each other’s company. I popped a few Motrin each morning to keep my incessant headaches at bay, and rubbed my eyes to clear my vision when I needed to. I thought maybe I was just having too much fun.

When we returned home, I called my eye doctor. My eyes had still been bothering me, my vision wasn’t clear, and my headaches had become a little distracting. Within a few minutes of arriving to my appointment, my doctor had my husband on the phone, telling him he needed to pick me up and take me to the emergency room immediately. Behind my eyes, he was seeing significant swelling in my brain.

Shortly after, I was diagnosed with idiopathic intracranial hypertension, which is also known as pseudotumor cerebri. Literal translation: FALSE BRAIN TUMOR. Like… what even is that?! Essentially, I had a buildup of cerebrospinal fluid along my spinal cord and around my brain, which was creating excess intracranial pressure. My brain, in turn, responded and began to produce the outward signs and symptoms that are commonly attributed to an actual brain tumor, like the headaches and blind spots I had been experiencing. It was wild, and pretty difficult to comprehend. In fact, it’s still so strange to think about the fact that my body is reacting to an entirely imaginary thing in a very real and physical way. Life is weird sometimes though, I guess.

But, we spent a few days in the hospital, and I was poked and prodded way too often for someone who is terrified of needles. They drained as much fluid as they could from my spine in an attempt to relieve some of the pressure, and then put me on a medication that decreases CSF production. The medicine came with a side of wild nausea, tingly fingers and toes, and because it was an carbonic anhydrase inhibitor, I could no longer taste carbonation. The first time I took a sip of La Croix after coming home from the hospital, I truly thought I might have just taken a giant swallow of fiery acid. I was given strict instructions to four of those giant pills a day, avoid alcohol and lose some weight, all of which I (mostly) followed.

We were also told not to get pregnant, which was something that really messed with my emotions. Despite the fact that my cycle had a mind of its own lately anyway — due to stress? medication? my fake brain tumor? just to torture me? — I was so disappointed to know that we had push it off even longer. And, do you know how miserable it is to have a 30-day period FOR NO REASON, and not even be able to throw back a bottle of your favorite beer on your most stressful days because it tastes like fire acid?! I will never again take for granted the crispy carbonation of a Bell’s Two-Hearted Ale. LYSM, Bell’s.

But now, six months later, here we are. I still managed to launch my new business, Well & Cheaply, on schedule at the end of January. We threw in the towel on trying to find our next home, and decided to build it instead. I finally quit the 9-5 job that was sucking the life out of my soul, and moved on to a non-profit that is full of positivity, creativity, and good people. I still see my doctor every few weeks, and I’ve regained almost all of my vision. My headaches are minimal, and usually only follow a night of drinking wine — which I’ve also allowed myself to do lately. Sorry, doc.

And for the first time in a while, I feel like me again. It was a really emotional and frustrating several months. But somewhere in between all of the negative emotions I was feeling, I also was being filled up by a different set of positive ones. Skyler has been an absolute rock, and I truly think I’m more grateful for him this year than any other. He has been unwavering and steady and supportive and just wonderful. He encouraged me to take a week off in between jobs, and so I called it my self-care staycation. I read three books from start to finish, I cooked, I clean, I meal planned, I purged, I exercised (okay, that was just once, I’ll be honest), and in general, I just took the time to be me.

Which leads me here, to this blog. I let it fall by the wayside this year, which truth be told, has likely gone unnoticed by most of you. But this creative outlet is something that brings me joy, and so I’m back. Between my new business and my new job and this renewed vigor in myself, I. am. back.

And I hope you’ll come along for the ride.

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