Catch-Up: Health Edition

Hi! It’s certainly been a while. It seems like ever since Erik & I got engaged in May of 2016 that everything has been absolutely crazy. All of the obvious stresses that come with planning a wedding have certainly played a role, but there was an entire separate situation that I kept to myself that spanned from January 2016 through to February 2017. If you are a friend of mine on Facebook, you might have heard about it, but in case you haven’t, here’s the story:

On February 2nd, 2017, I had breast reduction surgery. Here is the post I shared on my Facebook on February 18, 2017:

Long time no post. Here’s why I took an unintentional leave of absence:
If you’ve read my blog in the past, it’s no secret that I’m an anxious person. I’ve learned over the years that the best way for me personally to overcome certain socially-induced anxious situations is to call attention to it. Somehow that allows that crippling, cold, stress sweat-like feeling to dissipate. This is one of those situations:
The last 14 months consisted of me fighting what felt like every living thing on the planet for approval for a breast reduction. At the beginning I was really secretive and private about the whole thing. I’ve never felt like my body belonged to me due to this particular feature of mine. This procedure is something that I’ve wanted done for over 10 years. My parents offered to help pay for one as a high school graduation gift. I was too scared to go through with it, which turned out to be a good thing since 5 months later I was diagnosed with a rare blood disorder that, if not discovered before the procedure, could have been disastrous. Then I went on to college, then to a job without health insurance and enough pay to cover costs, so it took me until last year to have stable(ish) health, health insurance, a decent pay, & the courage. The fact that I lived every day with horrible back pain and the untimely loss of a $200 sports bra (rip) just pushed me over the edge. I was done spending hundreds on bras and I was done dealing with pain.
Over the course of 2016, I saw a chiropractor once a week / every other week depending on severity. I saw an orthopedic who told me that if I continued the way I was that the weight on my chest would continue to pull my chest bone away from my spine. I have curvatures in my spine going in multiple directions. I have to go to physical therapy to learn how to walk correctly. My doctors said I couldn’t exercise more than taking walks (doing anything more was painful enough to curb the amount of running/biking I could do even before I was told it could make my spine worse). With all that documented, my insurance company denied me coverage not once, but two times on the basis that they didn’t consider the procedure “medically necessary.” On my 3rd appeal, I had a conference call with the review panel at the insurance company and my surgeon and he laid into them pretty good. I know it’s his job, but it felt good to have him vouching for me and putting them in their place after dealing with the whole process mostly on my own for almost 11 months. I received my approval phone call from the insurance company less than 24 hours later.
Now that I am 2 and a half weeks post-op, I feel a lot of relief – both without my back pain and without the additional stress of the insurance company looming over my head – but I still feel anxious. I realized that while I’ve become a lot more open about my procedure to those close to me, I’m feeling anxious about seeing people out in the world with my new appearance. I knew I would look different, and I’m very happy with how I look now, but I don’t think I considered just how big of a difference there would be.
So that’s the point of this post. Hi, I’m Ashton and I had breast reduction surgery. This is what I look like now and if you see me out in the world (or online!), it’s ok to talk to me about it and ask me questions. This is for the benefit of my anxiety and your possible concern for bringing it up to me in person.
I hope to be back to blogging soon, recovery is a slow process!
Thanks for reading.

Now, here I am just over 6 months post-op and my back has never felt better. I was going back to the chiropractor for a while which was helping the redistribution of my weight on my spine. I did have to readjust and – to a point – relearn how to walk “normally” without the extra weight, but I was able to do so without the help of physical therapy, which is amazing.

I do, however, have to go back under for a revision in October, after my wedding. My surgeon, who has been incredible to work with throughout this whole journey, sees a little bit of asymmetry and wants to fix it. I wish I didn’t have to have surgery again, but he says it will only take about a week to recover from (it took months for the original procedure).

I was hoping to have my pesky gallbladder removed at the end of this year, but now that my revision is scheduled for October, it’s unlikely that I’ll be able to have that procedure done, too. I seem to have it pretty much under control, so I’ll shelf that idea for now unless I start having really bad attacks again.

Between the months of March to June I was experiencing some really awful mood swings. I sat with my therapist for a session about it and she thinks I have PMDD, or Premenstrual Dyphoric Disorder, and referred me to a Midwife to hopefully find a solution. PMDD is essentially really extreme PMS with depressive qualities (mood swings, negative thoughts, lack of motivation, wanting to be alone, severe exhaustion, etc.). The midwife agreed and prescribed me Prozac only to be taken on day 14 of my cycle for 7 days.

A few days after filling that prescription, I had my check-up with my Endocrinologist and she saw that my thyroid levels were off and upped my medication. Once I was given that news, I thought to myself that that could be the reason I was having the PMDD symptoms. It turns out I was right! Since increasing my dosage of the thyroid hormones, I’ve felt so much better and haven’t had to touch the bottle of Prozac. I’m two months out and I am still feeling great, so I hope that was the missing piece of the puzzle.

While at my Endo appointment, they did my annual ultrasound of my thyroid gland. My thyroid looks fine, but they found that there were a few lymph nodes in my neck that were slightly enlarged, so they ran a blood test for thyroid cancer. It took a week to get the results back for that (the longest week of my life!), but luckily it came back negative. I’m pretty sure that my lymph nodes have been on the slightly larger side since being diagnosed with ITP 12 years ago. I have to go back through my old ultrasound reports and make sure. I am currently working on that aspect of my heatlh, but I feel like I barely have time for anything anymore – writing this out actually reminded me that I have to make an appointment with my GP to sort that all out!

With all of that said, my diet has absolutely suffered in the past 8 months or so. It’s been so hard to get on a good schedule with all of the stuff going on with my health, wedding planning, appointments, meetings, and working a full time job, but that’s not an excuse. I need to buckle down and get myself focused, which is why I came back to this blog. Being on this blog’s timeline is the best thing for me and I have some plans for a little bit of a revamp in the coming months. I can’t say much about it now, but I have a tentative schedule in my head about how I’ll go about revealing it. This post is the first part of a three part series which will explain everything.

So that’s where I’m at right now! I don’t think I missed anything, but if I did I can always include it in next week’s post.

Thanks so much for reading,

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