I posted on FB and Instagram yesterday a picture of me reading at an open mic night and it got a lot of attention. If you are interested in reading the story that I wrote and read it is posted below. I am very proud of it, but also know it needs some work. I hope to only improve on it and my writing skills. I took at the wonderful writing workshop over the last two months that really helped me to develop as a writer. You can find out more information about it here: http://www.feettothefirewriters.com/message
It is amazing, to me, how often people talk about all 5 senses and needing them to accomplish things. Do you remember playing “would you rather game” as a kid? You were asked would you rather be blind or deaf? I always picked deaf. To this day I cannot image a world where I could not see the beauty that it has to offer. Part of this answer might have been based on the fact that I knew what it was like not to have all of my hearing, as I had gone through 3 ear surgeries by the age of 8. But what about the other senses? We have touch, taste and smell, two of which are linked- taste and smell. What if you were to lose one of these senses?
At the wonderful age of 33 I learned what it was like not to have a sense of smell and in turn the sense of taste. Let me tell you it SUCKS. There is no other way to really say it, it SUCKS. Imagine not being able to smell anything; flowers, coffee brewing in the morning, your own body odor, the dog shit you stepped in, or again your own BO. I cannot say exactly when I lost my sense of smell, but it was like I blinked and it was gone. I thought, at first, that is was temporary. Like my allergies were just really bad and I needed some meds. This was my thought process for way longer than it should have been, but denial is always best, right?
After the reality that my smell was not coming back anytime soon set in, I realized I was screwed. I was sick, and not in the way a regular doctor’s visit could fix. I was a 33 year old unemployed gal with no health insurance, despite my best efforts, that was visibly sick. Getting sick after every meal, stairs were my enemy, sleep was not happening, and my overall mind set was going downhill very fast. I remember talking to a childhood friend of mine who is a doctor and asking if she could help. At first she was hesitant (I don’t blame her for this) but when she saw me in person she took one look and said, how can I help? She told me in the 25+ years of knowing me, I had never looked so sick.
I also remember the time I had a complete breakdown while trying to pack for a Girl Scout camping trip. I was in my parent’s basement, trying my best to get the things I needed without asking for help, and my mother coming to help. Me snapping at her (for I am sure no good reason) and then I lost it. Full on sobbing breakdown because I felt helpless and frustrated. Mom looked at me and said “who are you? I want my Chrissy back, lets fix this”.
So what did I do? I waited (and waited) for the Affordable Care Act to take effect. And on February 1st, 2014 I got health insurance and an appointment with a very highly recommended ENT. I also visited my regular doctor to find out if I could do anything in the mean time. At that visit, she told me I had bronchitis and had for a while, so I got a shot that helped a little but not nearly enough. I also ended up coughing so hard one evening that I thought I’d broken a rib. I had to go to immediate care where I found out, that due to coughing so hard, my chest muscle had contracted and did not want to relax. Yeah, I know, strange.
Being sick for a long time does things to you. It puts thoughts into your head. I found myself thinking I was a lazy person. Was this really who I was, someone that sat on the couch all day and did nothing but play on the internet, watch trash TV, live in yoga pants and slowly gain weight? Was I fooling everyone with an act that I was always happy, healthy and active? I truly started to believe that was me- fat, lazy, and someone who needed to adjust their style of living to someone that needed disability insurance.
Finally the day of my appointment was here. I showed up with my shiny new Medicaid card in hand, ready to get some answers. So what did I find out? Nothing good, nothing good at all. My sinuses were 99.9% blocked and I have nasal polyps, something that has no cure. What the FUCK? No, really, what the FUCK does all this mean and what can be done about it. The good news was I was in the right place with the right doctor. The plan? Surgery and meds. Story of my life, it seems. I was basically going to have my sinus passages sucked clean and widened as much as possible. More thoughts went running though my snot filled head. Would this really fix the problem and if so, for how long? Would I be able to ride my bike again? Workout ever? Smell, oh and maybe breathe like a normal person again? The doctors answer? More than likely yes, but maybe not. What? Maybe? Maybe? Guess that was better than nothing, right? So I weighed my choices- breathing or not- I went for the breathing/surgery option and hoped it would work.
In March of 2014 I had surgery 1- yep #1. When I came out of the anesthesia, mom was waiting for me, with the good/bad news. Good news, the doc got most everything and could reduce the size of the polyps. The bad news- I have super small sinus cavities and he could only do so much with making them bigger and he could not get to my frontal sinus lobe because of a malfunction with the equipment so I would need another surgery. Yep, that is right, another surgery.
The doc said to heal for about a month, see what changed and then we would schedule the next surgery. In the month between the two I was opened to a whole new world. I could smell again, I could walk up stairs and life was going back to normal. April rolled around and surgery #2 to clean it all out. Success was right around the corner- that is what I was betting on anyway. Stay positive right?
#2 was a success and I was still breathing. My follow up appointments were all going well- except for one thing, I was told I had to be on Prednisone the rest of my life. The horrible, awful life saving wonderful drug that makes you a crazy person. So I traded lazy, non-smelling, non-tasting and barley breathing Christine for a crazy, breathing, active one. Not a bad trade, right?
It has been 6 months post-surgery and I would love to sit here and tell you that it worked 100% but that is not the truth. I have great days, good days and shitty days. Days where I can ride 20 miles and not look back and days where I get short of breath looking at my bike. Most of the time I smell and taste, but there are still the ones that I wake up and smell nothing.
So this is my life now, I still stay positive about it, most of the time. I am making life changes and trying to figure it all out. For the most part I take it one day at a time and live life the best I can.