What can I say about 2020 that hasn’t already been said?
I wanted to write one more blog post as a catch-all for the end of the year. So much has happened and yet so little has happened.
With 2020 coming to a close, I have come to realize how little my health has changed in the last 12 months.
I have come to realize that not only am I in the same boat as last year, but also the same boat as 2018, too.
In December 2018, I was waiting for an initial consultation appointment with my cardiothoracic surgeon for this wonky rib pain.
In December 2019, I was waiting for an appointment with my second cardiothoracic surgeon for this wonky rib pain after two failed surgeries and a shifted titanium plate.
And now, in December 2020, I am doing the same exact thing by waiting for my third consultation with a new thoracic surgeon.
Here, my year has been spent waiting.
I have waited for virtual appointments and I have waited for things to start getting better.
I have waited for follow-up appointments and waited for new consultations.
I have waited for referrals and waited for blood tests and stool cultures.
I have waited for imaging tests and I have waited for my body to heal so we can move forward with my care.
For my hands, I am around 5 months post-op from my right hand De Quervain’s Tenosynovitis surgery this past July. I have been waiting for another referral to my hand specialist surgeon because my hands, they could use some more work. With the help of physical therapy and my last surgery this year, I am on the mend with these wrists, but I am still waiting for pain-free days.
I have residual pain in my right wrist and a knotted area of inflammation. I have been avoiding my hand braces this year as they seem to make my hands hurt worse after taking them off, and my physical therapist thinks another meeting with my care team will be helpful.
But, I won’t have that visit until next year, so I wait.
For my Crohn’s disease and IBD, I have had 6 self-injections of Stelara this year, with plenty of blood tests, stool tests, and calls with my gastroenterologist. We think I am getting close to remission, minus my bleeding, urgency, and rectal pain.
I had hoped we would get answers from testing my Stelara levels – but those tests have not been done by the VA, even after I have been told they have been. I have sent in a few stool samples to Gali health and I have received one set of insights about my gut microbiome, which was interesting in that I got to learn something new about my IBD. I will share this with my GI when I have another in-person appointment,
Because I keep having these issues and perianal disease is high on my IBD symptoms, my GI care team has suggested another referral to the colorectal clinic to have another exam under anesthesia to look for abscesses, fistulas, fissures, and the like.
I will have a consultation just days before the New Year, which means I will have to wait until next year to get the exam under anesthesia scheduled. So, I wait.
And as for these damn wonky ribs of mine, I have been waiting.
Ever since my January rib plate removal surgery and my June surgery for suturing, I am still having issues with my ribs slipping. I have been on ‘hold’ for 6 months waiting for my second opinion consultation with Dr Hansen. And just this month, I am 6 months post-op from my last thoracic procedure.
Because I have had so much done to my ribs and the VA has not helped my current rib state, it was suggested that I wait 6 months from the last surgery before considering another. I have waited for what seems like forever (since June) for the next step of seeing the Slipping Rib specialist.
I have tried to take it easy on my body, on my ribs, and on my back. I still have trouble getting up or laying down, and if I am in the car and not driving, I am in pain. It is uncomfortable to put on pants or shoes, bending over hasn’t been the easiest on my ribs this year.
I still constantly shift in my seat, trying to find a comfortable position – and I am convinced that a comfortable position doesn’t exist for me anymore. If I can help it, I prefer to stand rather than sit.
I usually just have to lay down, stretching out my torso, like I have mentioned umpteen times over the last three years. Yes, the last three years. Crazy to think I have been dealing with a hypermobile and slipping rib for that long and January makes 3 years exactly.
And again, I will have to wait just a few more weeks until my first appointment of 2021 – when I can see Dr. Hansen in West Virginia.
2020 has led to some sad news in my writing world, too. With COVID taking over most of the year, if not all of it, a lot of the websites and programs that I work with are left without funding. Certain sites and programs, without clinical trials or fundraising, are left without the resources to pay their ambassadors.
For me, this means a lot of my opportunities have been placed on hold for the foreseeable future until things are safer and resources become available again. While this is very sad news and I take it to heart, I have to remember that the world we live in today is not the same as it was last year and that everyone is struggling with that.
But, 2020 hasn’t been all that bad to me either.
I got to stay home most days – which is always good news for Bilbo Baggins. That pooch loves some cuddles and attention.
I got to see music virtually and socially distanced. Although it hurts to dance, I still dance as much as I can.
I got to see friends, not as much as I would have liked, though.
I got to see Richard more this year than I have in the past 10 years and that makes my heart happy.
I found 246 four-leaf clovers. Of course, some had 5 or more leaves. This was a major leap from last year’s record of finding 81.
I marched with Black Lives Matter and I voted for human decency in this year’s election. I also became an ordained minister.
I only had a few photoshoots – two, I think – but I managed to learn a little on my camera and we learned that our new phones can take amazing photos. My photo sticker has also crossed into 5 other states – and is even heading to the Philippines.
I’ve gained friends and I have outgrown a few.
I’ve thrived in my love for baking, vintage clothing, concert prints, and, all things glitter.
I have worked on myself, my home, and my relationships.
And, I continue to move forward.
I will be glad when this year is over and hopefully better days are ahead for us all.
For me, It Could Be Worse.
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