If anyone deems this "TLDR," I will not blame you. If reading about medical-related anything, especially of the female variety, makes you squeamish, you should probably look away and again, I would not blame you. But should you stick around, I thank you in advance.
OKAY, HERE WE GO....
Well, first of all, "where have I been?" Blog-wise, I've mostly been at my other site. You can always find more there. But the answer is really bigger than that.
More than a year ago, I started to feel sick. "Sick" may not even be the right word. I felt tired. DEADLY tired. Exhausted. It started in January of 2017, when I got my period (and, to be candid, it has not stopped since). Then, as if I were not tired enough, as the year went on, things got exponentially worse.
Many doctors later (folks, there are some shitty doctors out there - do not settle), we were able to find out I had about 13 Fibroid tumors in my uterus and those suckers had to GO. I say "about" because that's what they could see. It's likely there are more behind them, hiding. The biggest one is tennis ball-sized, pressing into my bladder. This is the most evil and leader of the tumors. It makes me pee like I'm 97. Flip over in bed during sleeping? That asshole makes me wake up to go. Sit down for too long and stand up? Gotta go. I would come to call the tennis ball "Suge Knight." I would come to call the whole lot of them "Suge and the Gang." (Fun fact: My OBGYN did not know who Suge Knight was. If you also do not, you should google him and also probably see the movie Straight Outta Compton.)
You gotta put humor into the situation or else you're just gonna go crazy.
I had two choices - a partial hysterectomy or an abdominal myomectomy (this is like a cesarean section, except instead of pulling out a baby, they pull out the tumors). I opted for the latter. I get pretty stubborn about having my choices taken away from me, which is how I saw the hysterectomy.
At this time, despite any malaise I felt, I was also working hard to better my life and improve my overall health, and dropping a lot of weight. This is a good thing in theory, of course, and 130 pounds later, I am not at all sorry about it, but it did mean a lot of dietary changes and as such, a lot of deprivation of vitamins (inadvertent) and calories (on purpose) my body was used to ingesting. So.... that.
Several rounds of lab work prompted my primary physician to send me off to a lab in the hospital where they did Iron infusions. I went six or seven times, in the mornings before work, where some extraordinarily kind nurses (my favorite one would talk about hockey with me!) would put an IV in me and for a couple of hours, I would - literally - pump iron. I didn't mind, in fact. There were heated blankets, animal crackers, and juice boxes. Sometimes I would take out my laptop and work while it was going, sometimes I was too cold to stay awake (a lovely side effect of Anemia -- being a human popsicle) and I would go to sleep with hot packs in my hands.
But a month later, these treatments had not helped enough, and my physician decided to send me to a Hematologist. At this point, in addition to the infusions, I was, in fact, taking iron pills, multi vitamins, and more, so even though I was chronically bleeding, and eating less, there should have been enough compensation. So really the problem was, my body was not absorbing iron.
There are several types of Anemia, you see, and it turned out I had a few of them. I was also clinically Vitamin D and B12 deficient. It wasn't life threatening at this time and my Hematologist prescribed a grander series of Iron infusions. This time in her office, where she also treated Cancer patients. I went a few times a week for a few weeks and sat among people far sicker than I, getting my infusions, and trying not to feel miserable and remind myself it could be far worse. Again, I would work most of the time, and sometimes I would sleep.
The problem was, my morale was slipping and I wasn't feeling better. I was still trying to live my life, you know, and other side effects of Anemia were striking me. I wasn't always able to concentrate. My memory wasn't too hot. There would be days I'd have to sit down and sleep because it literally, physically HURT not to do so. I wanted my life and my SELF to be normal. I wanted to do my job well. I felt like I was letting people down. I was panicked something was really wrong with me, and would spend time on Google, looking up my symptoms like a true hypochondriac, trying to figure out which form of Cancer WebMD thought I had.
In December, a real zinger - I parted ways with the company I was working for. You wanna talk morale? Three days before Christmas, at the height of my health being shitty, I was now losing my health insurance. GREAT.
In January, to be candid, I managed to hit a lower point. I was working daily to get my health insurance (COBRA) reinstated but some things had been mishandled by various third parties. I will not summarize all of it for you because I've never been so furious, frustrated and heartbroken in my whole life and I refuse to relive it. Honestly. I could feel myself slipping into a deep depression -- well, that's what I thought it was. I was sleeping more. I was freezing cold all of the time. I was pale (even for me!) and I couldn't so much as walk from my bed to the bathroom without feeling out of breath. Climbing stairs? Nope. I had (I counted) a 27-day long headache that nothing would cure. I didn't know what to do. And boy did I develop a lot of empathy for people with lousy or no insurance. What do REALLY sick people do? (And don't tell me "Obamacare" - that is a great offering for some, but it was not something that would help me, nor could I sign up for it quickly enough. It's so beyond complicated.)
When, in early February, I finally got health insurance again, I went right to my OBGYN. I wanted my surgery to happen as scheduled (back in December, we had planned it for February 15) and I wanted to get better, but there was very bad news.
I may have been depressed - I had left my job, after all - but I was actually very sick. In addition to being iron deficient (so much so, there was almost none in my body), my hemoglobin was at four and my ferritin was at three. What does that mean? Hemoglobin, which should be at a minimum of 12 but ideally much, much higher, circulates oxygen in your bloodstream and makes your organs go. It's like fuel that way. Without it, my organs were all working major overtime. My lungs, my heart, my liver... This was a lightbulb moment. Now I could explain the complete and utter exhaustion. Some of the nurses didn't even understand how I was walking around at all. I can't explain it either knowing what I know now. All I can tell you is that it's amazing what your mind and body learns to tolerate and push through when you don't have a choice. And what about ferritin? Well, that is the very thing that helps your body absorb iron. Three is so low it's critically dangerous. In fact, they very nearly checked me right into the hospital when they got those results, but did I mention I am stubborn?
So the surgery had to be postponed. No one wanted to risk organ failure or my bleeding out on the table and I was super ticked about just EVERYTHING, but I certainly did not want to die on that sword, so I got myself back to the Hematologist.
Now, did you know all the hurricanes over the last year have left our country with a shortage of Venefer? (That's the iron infusion they give me.)
In order to get the amount of iron I needed, I was at the hospital every day for two and a half weeks. By law, they had to give smaller amount, but they could do it daily to meet the quantity I needed. It seemed ridiculous, but I didn't have a choice. And in addition, on two of my visits, I also had to get blood transfusions. That was intimidating to me. And it's rather uncomfortable, though I wouldn't say it's painful. It took a few hours each time but again, laptop and/or sleep. Juice box, cookies, blanket.... I can't say enough nice things about nurses.
There were odd and minor side effects. Scar tissue in my veins from being poked so much, an ear infection, inflamed joints, a weird thing called PICA (all I want to eat is ice cubes - it's so weird), a small hemorrhage on the back of my left eye.... I only laugh now. Because it's all so insane and if you don't laugh, you'll do the other thing....
And I still didn't understand how sick I was until I finally started to feel better. These last couple weeks, I am more myself than I have been in MONTHS. And now, sort of stepping outside myself and looking back, I see how ill I was and how wrong I was to not take it even more seriously and demand time off to get better, etc. So much I would have done differently. But then, who knew? Who would guess? I'd never even though about HEMOGLOBIN before. I work in a fast-paced industry. People who do what I do make sacrifices all of the time without a thought. We go-go-go. And that is my nature. I do not sit still well.
All that is to say I do feel better now. MUCH better. I've had lab work that agrees, too. I can't say I love climbing a flight of stairs (my joints are a little weak and I have some circulation issues still), but I can take walks now, and I can get through a day without napping (not always, but most of the time). I do try to take it easy and not stay out late at night. I've mostly given up alcohol for the time being (I'm still taking a ton of medication so that seemed smart) and go to bed a little earlier than I used to. But it's night and day difference. In fact, I hardly even remember January. I think of that time as living in a coma. Seriously, I saw movies I don't even remember seeing. It's a little nutty. Things come back to me like I am a recovering Amnesiac.
THE GOOD NEWS: My surgery is back on and I am really excited for it. Weird, right? I am excited because it's the final step. I can say adios to Suge and his crew of nasty thugs and then, LET THE HEALING BEGIN!
WHY AM I TELLING YOU THIS?
I don't always share deeply personal life news, but when I do, it's for a reason.
First, because the last time I had a complicated illness, I wrote about it and a dozen people reached out to thank me for sharing the story. It helped people, gave some people encouragement, and that made me feel like I was doing some good in this world. So perhaps I'm helping someone suffering right now. Second, I ended up joining an Anemia support group on Facebook and everyone is so open and honest about their struggles. It's been inspiring. And it empowered me to share more. Third, well, like I said, I was in and out of "comas" for a while and some people were probably worried about me. Now they know what was wrong. And lastly, to be totally honest, I needed to walk through this in writing as therapy. I'll need to look back on this someday and reflect on it.
If you want to learn more about Anemia, click here.
If you want/need to join the Facebook Anemia support group I mentioned - and I highly recommend it - click here.
If you are suffering from this, anything like this, or even something else entirely, I beg you to first, see a good doctor (a good place to remind you I AM NOT ONE), and to please have HOPE. At one point, I remember breaking down and telling my mother I had none left and that was the worst I've felt throughout this whole experience. It might even be the one of the worst moments of my life. I'm not exaggerating. Hope is a powerful thing and I believe in the power of hope. It is, in fact, my favorite word in the English language. Never lose it.
Getting The Right Perspective
With any property, one of the most important things you want to do is maintain property value. Your property is essentially an investment, and if you don’t get the most out of that investment, it represents a loss. However, if you’re careful to steward your resources, you’ll find that it results in a gain.
One thing you want to do is be continuously renovating. Renovation is necessary for several reasons. Firstly, it maintains the value of your property at a baseline level. Secondly, it increases that value incrementally. With renovation, you can add new rooms, change existing space, and update your home into modernity.
A great renovation choice revolves around green energy options. It is becoming more and more possible to live off-grid these days, and as a residential owner, there are three ways you can go about it. Solar energy, wind energy, and water energy can all be applied to your property. If you’re in the right spot, you can add all three for around $15k.
Solar is likely to be the most manageable. With solar power, you’re able to decrease your monthly costs in terms of utilities while increasing property value between $10k and $20k depending on your state, and also receiving a tax break (again depending on your state). Such a 3.1 kWh system, if you install it and purchase the components yourself, can be had for $5k or under.
The Other Energy Solutions
The same is true with wind and water energy, but these are a lot more difficult to come by. You need running water, and you need as neighborhood ordinance which will allow you to use wind energy; it’s often restricted. Still, in the right setting, you can install all three for around $15k and see twice that number in property value increase, meaning you make money all around, while retaining redundant off-grid energy independence.
Something else you want to consider in terms of property maintenance is solutions to help fix your issues as they arise. This is especially true when it comes to water damage, which can be hard to identify and easy to overlook, costing tens of thousands of dollars before you even realize there’s an issue.
When it comes to water damage, Restoration Elite can prove an essential tool in helping you recoup your property with peace-of-mind; according to the site: “Having to call a water damage expert can be nerve-wracking…Restoration Elite will make the process of servicing your damages easy as possible. Our team is committed to amazing customer service…”
Sometimes problems that damage your property “water” wise come from HVAC solutions. Maybe your AC unit is leaking down a wall and growing mold, or something of the kind. This can be a costly fix that requires an HVAC professional and a water damage expert.
With that in mind, you’re looking for the same kind of operational ethic when it comes to hiring an HVAC Contractor; according to the
nked site: “Trust and courtesy may not be the first thing that comes to most people’s mind when it comes to HVAC repairs, but with HVAC contractors, we make sure you get the best treatment along with your service.”
Ensuring You Property Retains Value
If you’ve got a property maintenance program in place which renovates and fixes property as necessary, if you upgrade your property as you become able to do so, and if you fix issues when they arrive using trusted professionals who have the means and resources to take care of you, you’ll be much more likely to retain and expand property value cost-effectively over time.
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Disclosure: This blog post is sponsored content. The author was provided with compensation in exchange for content. All opinions are my own.
If you’ve reached a point in your life when you recognize the benefits of apartment living, you may need to cut down on your spending in other areas in order to afford an amazing apartment in a great neighborhood.
As an example, if you’re looking for apartments for rent in Alexandria, you may decide to go the luxury route and rent a high-end apartment. There’s absolutely nothing wrong with this as long as you can afford it. If you’re going to struggle, you’ll benefit by cutting down on your spending in other areas.
How can you cut back on your spending? Here are some tips.
By living within your means, we ultimately mean you have to control your expenditures. How so? Well, if you make $5000 a month after taxes, make sure your expenses are $5000 a month at a maximum.
In fact, you’ll be much better off spending $3000 a month and saving the other $2000 for your retirement or a rainy day.
Instead of spending money willy-nilly whenever something you like comes across your path, you need to start planning your purchases by spending money methodically instead of doing so whenever the mood strikes. By approaching spending this way, you’ll know exactly what you need and you’ll know exactly when to buy it. This will plug any financial leaks that you have even if you don’t realize they are there.
This tip mostly pertains to apartment owners that have to pay for their own repairs. Instead of hiring the first plumber you find online, do some research and find as many choices as you can in your community.
Why? By hiring local service providers this way, you’ll meet with multiple companies, get multiple quotes, and ultimately you can choose the best company offering the lowest price. Plumbingfix.com is a great site to find top-notch plumbers providing services right in your community, so use this website whenever you need to hire a plumbing company to fix broken pipes, faucets, etc. in your home.
You’ll be hard-pressed to find this tip in a typical frugal/smart living article, but we’re adding it because it’s such a valuable way to save money and protect your health. By eating a whole food plant-based diet, you’ll save lots of money because processed, packaged food is very expensive, and when you prepare your meals from scratch you’ll be able to save over the long run.
Some people may not have enough time to prepare many or all of their meals from scratch, and if this is the case, you may not want to eat this way.
Ultimately though, if you do follow this diet and eat fresh or frozen vegetables, rice, potatoes, corn, beans, greens, and more, you will save a bundle at the grocery store and leave plenty of extra money in your wallet at the same time.
Some of us live in homes completely filled with clutter. We have too many items and we’re addicted to spending money on things we rarely use or need. It’s time to put an end to the madness. Declutter your home and get rid of all the excess stuff you no longer use and never buy anything you’ll never use again.
Smart living doesn’t mean being cheap. It means your conscious of your money, you spend it on things you need and you no longer buy things in excess. Follow these guidelines in your financial life will certainly change for the better.
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Disclosure: This blog post is sponsored content. The author was provided with compensation in exchange for content. All opinions are my own.
In which I experiment with being a fashion blogger, y'all. Look out.
When I first I discovered Simply Be, it was an online shop for the UK called "Simply Yours." My addiction to their fashionable, plus size line started with their sexy-but-functional lingerie items and grew over the years. Now, with their site expanding to U.S. (so shipping is faster - hooray!) and their inventory evolving, it's one of the sites I visit on the regular to see what's new and find must-haves for my wardrobe.
As I've been losing weight, sites like Simply Be are essential to me. I refuse to spend a fortune on clothes as the weight comes off and need to get by on staple items that can be worn a variety of ways. Additionally, since our Southern California climate is inconsistent and my job is fast-paced, I also really need to be comfortable, and be able to layer.
This kaftan Simply Be sent me fit the bill. And it's probably one of the more elegant items of clothing I've ever owned. Wearing it, I got a nice boost of confidence and even allowed some photos to be taken of me in it -- a true rarity for this blog. But I just love it. I'm not gonna lie, I always thought a kaftan meant "old lady clothes" but I looked it up on Wikipedia (the last bastion of internat accuracy, no doubt) and it's simply a term to define a long overcoat-type piece with sleeves. That's it.
I also love the surprise this piece brings. The print is asymmetrical -- it floats behind you when you move; the backside is really art.
Simply Be also offers a charge card that can earn you points, with recurring promotions for double points and bonuses that pay off in rewards. I am all about rewards programs. Returns are also free -- bonus! So there's no reason not to create an account and try some things on at home.
My next goal is knee-high boots and they have them in varying calf-widths, up to a size 11!
Thank you, Simply Be, for giving me a little boost of glam and elegance and letting me play "fashion blogger" with my readers!
Disclosure: No affiliate links, in case you were wondering. I was just happy for a free, beautiful fashion item and happy to share my honest opinion of the brand.
You know, on days that end in 'Y,' we eat pizza. As in -- does one ever need an excuse for pizza? GOOD pizza?
Among the many choices we now have for DIY/custom pizza, you simply have to give 800 Degrees a chance. CBS just named them one of the best pizza shops in LA, alongside such worshipped eateries as Bestia and Jon & Vinny's! They are setting themselves apart, far and away, with their sophisticated aesthetic and unique menu choices. And their Hollywood location on Vine rises above with a beautiful patio besides, amazing appetizers, courteous staff, great wine selection and a new, scrumptious rotisserie chicken menu.
No bad-idea-jeans here, guys. You're going to love anything you order off the menu, but for my money, I gotta advise you to give this chicken a try. I skeptically tried it with a side of Quinoa Tabbouleh, but that surprised me, too. It was delicious and I inhaled it as I silently told myself it was guilt-free since Quinoa it toally a healthy food -- right?
If you ask nicely, they'll even throw some dipping sauces at you. The aioli was my favorite.
It boggles the mind that I had any room left in my body for more food after this -- and I nearly didn't -- but I got a bite of cheese pizza, which was was completely delicious, and the kind folks there subsequently sent me home with a pizza of my choosing, so naturally I gravitated right to the prosciutto and burrata pizza. Because anything with those two things is all I need in life, basically. Prosciutto is one of my favorite foods and burrata is like the King of all cheeses. (I also asked them to add shrimp to the pizza. Is that weird? I find shrimp with prosciutto is heavenly. It's like the italian version of bacon-wrapped shrimp, y'all.)
It was such a delightful evening, really. I attended alone but found myself at a table of other bloggers and influencers whom I now follow on their own socials and adore. It was fun to make new friends, enjoy some new food, sit in such a gorgeous place.... I smiled all night! There's a special little place in my heart for this pizzeria so I am happy to also give away a gift card so that someone else can go and discover it like I did!
Why would you choose ordinary pizza at any ordinary place when this terrific spot is available?
Interior photos: Alen Lin