Tuesday, July 15, 2014

Estrogen: You Don't Know What You Got 'Til It's Gone

Seriously, don't take it for granted.  It's an amazing thing.

So one day I am sitting around feeling kinda cold, kinda happy, kinda sexy, kinda sexually charged, kinda feminine, kinda energetic, kinda like a girl.

It feels like this photo was taken a million summers ago.  It was just two years ago.

And then I wasn't.

And it sucks.

Let me tell ya about estrogen and how it factors into all this.  

Once upon a time in a land called December 2013, I had a hysterectomy.  When I woke up from the hysterectomy and in the following months, I began to notice a change.  At first, it seemed to be out of sorts and then estrogen seemed to come back at an influx.  I actually wanted sex.  I felt sexual.  I felt energetic.  I felt ready to get back into life.

Lately, not so much.

I have a doctor appointment at the end of July or the beginning of August and I cannot wait.  I will be my own advocate and ask the doctor to test my estrogen/ testosterone levels.  I will ask for estrogen supplements.  I will take my life back.

Want to know how it feel being on this side?  Let me share, in case you ever find yourself feeling like you are going crazy:

I'm hot.  So hot.  Not like sexy, on fire, everybody wants me hot.  Hot, in its literal definition.  I would love for the air to be at 65 in our house all day long, but that's expensive.  The heat seems to come from within and radiate out.  It's intense and it kinda changes my mood.

Speaking of which... I am a moody b^&%h at times.  I try my best to control it and not let it show, but inside I kind of rage for random stuff or for nothing at all.  I become super sad all of a sudden.  I become super depressed and just feel so out of sorts.  And then happiness comes back.  And then it leaves.  I feel totally unlike myself.  This is not me.

I'm so tired.  I can't keep my eyes open sometimes.  There is nothing I can do to stay alert.  At the start of the day, I am exhausted.  About an hour into the day, energy has found me and I can't wait to get home and go for a four mile run.  And then the energy leaves me all at once and all I can think about is getting home and sleeping.  It's a cycle.  Lately, my ideal weekend would be staying in all day and sleeping, but there is so much to do here at the house and it's always nice to go somewhere for a few hours with my husband, so I suck it up.  But as soon as I hit the bed, I am done...

Speaking of the bed, sleeping is about all that happens there.  I went from having a ridiculously high sex drive (when I was running all the time) to a little more relaxed drive (when I stopped running as much) to almost no sex drive to speak of.  Our sex life went from several times a week to once a month, if that.  I love having sex with my husband, but it sure is tough to find that motivation.  

And even when I find the motivation, I am like a desert.  I used to have no problem being lubricated on my own, but now the times that I am actually naturally lubricated throughout the experience are few and far between.  It certainly doesn't add to my feelings of sexiness.

Weight gain also doesn't make me feel sexy.  I am trying to feel sexy, to feel beautiful, to feel pretty, to feel cute, to feel wanted, but without sex, without clothes that fit well, without defined muscular legs and arms, it's tough.  Yeah, you can think, "Well, if you know what will fix it, then do what needs to be done.  Get off your ass and lose weight."  I am the first one to say if you don't like something change it.  I know what it takes; I lost 57 pounds at one point.  But when I can't find the energy to go running, it's hard as heck.  And when I can't stock my kitchen with only banana smoothies for breakfast, sandwiches for lunch, and edamame (the large amount of soy I used to consume if not good for women who have a cancer risk; who knew?) and water for dinner like I used to when I was thin and fit, it's tough to stay thin without exercise.  

I really think a lot of that is a vicious cycle.  My husband and I don't have sex, so I get a little sad.  I get sad and then I get even more tired because of the emotion.  I get tired so I can't run.  I can't run so I gain weight.  I gain weight so I don't feel sexy.  I don't feel sexy so I don't want sex.  We don't have sex so I get sad.

What was I saying?

Oh, yeah.

Memory loss is another thing.  I can't remember the most basic things sometimes.  I can't recall nouns.  I point for Sergio to place a vase on a table and all I can say is "Place the thing on the thing."  I can't remember anything without writing it down.  I have lists on lists on lists.  Thank goodness for all those phone apps.

I over share all of this simply because I think it's important to open discussions about all of this so that other women know you aren't crazy because of the things you might be feeling and you are not alone.  I also think it's important to be your own advocate.  I am making lists of all the symptoms I am feeling so that when my doctor talks with me in a few weeks, I can supply him with an accurate list of everything I am feeling.  When I last spoke with him over the phone, he said that it's important for me to write down everything I am feeling so that we can determine the next best course of action.

I certainly hope there's an answer.  I can't take sweating in 70 degree weather and feeling sad/depressed/unattractive all the time.  It's not how we are supposed to live and feel and think.  We have the right to feel healthy and beautiful and happy.  

Monday, July 14, 2014

The Elusive Pursuit

Give a little time for the child within you.
Don't be afraid to be young and free.
Undo the locks and throw away the keys...
-Free Design, "Love You"

When I was 16, I thought being an adult meant that you were 21.  You were able to drink, you were able to party, and you automatically had a magnitude of friends.  I hit 21 and was able to drink and party, but I still wasn't able to drive.  Driving became my definition of being an adult.  When I turned 23, I began driving.  I still wasn't an adult.  Being an adult now meant being finished with college and having a career and a boyfriend.  In pursuit of this elusive adulthood, I began college in 2002, just a little into my 23rd year.  By the end of 2004, I had finished college and was now in pursuit of a career.  I began my career as an assistant director for a head start program and being an adult now meant living on my own.  Not just living on my own- owning my own place.  In 2007, I purchased my own condo.  I was still not an adult in my own eyes; if I could just get my "retirement career" in order I could then be an adult.  I subsequently went from my first career to another career (child protective services director) to another career (special agent) to another career (my "retirement career).  When I began my current career, the retirement career, I still wasn't an adult. Getting married meant I would be an adult.  I met my husband, fell madly in love, and got married.  

Was I an adult at that point?  Am I an adult now?  No.

"Being an adult" became the Cheshire cat yet again; that definition of being an adult poofed into thin air when I got married.  Being an adult would happen when I was a mother, when I had felt a life grow inside me, when I nursed a baby for months on end, when I woke up countless times in the middle of the night, when I sent the baby to school, to college, when I was responsible for another life becoming an adult.  That would be when I was an adult.

That will never happen for me.  I'm slowly coming to terms with that in my estrogen-deprived haze.  I know a lot of my "introspection" posts surround that fact, but it's what is real for me right now and it what is on my mind quite a bit.  I still am in shock sometimes that we made a decision that totally nullified a choice for us; I know it was the right decision, but that doesn't mean I am over the shock.  It doesn't mean that I am not still grieving for this baby I will never have growing inside me.

I realize I will never really be an adult.  Even if I became a mother, I still would not have been an adult.  No one ever is.
And that's a good thing.

Pursuing the ideal of adult, of success, of happiness means we are always striving for more.  It means we are always evolving in hopes of achieving the next big thing, the next big moment, even if we are striving for it in hopes that the next big moment is the "final moment" in that particular area of life.  We are pursuing something nonetheless.  And when we reach that "final moment" we will realize it is that mirage lying in the horizon at the edge of the desert.  The final moment disappeared yet again.

And that's okay.

It just means we are human and there is always more around the bend.

That means there's always more to hope for, too.  

And that's better than okay.

It gets us through the elusive nature of life.  And I think we can all use that sometimes.

Wednesday, July 9, 2014

How Our Dining Room Became Our Guest Room

At the time Sergio and I decided to get married, we had this plan to have a baby within the first year of marriage.  I loved the idea of raising a little family in our little condo.  I loved the idea of our family- me, my Sergio, and our baby.

When I bought my condo, it was marketed as a one bedroom, but the room in the very center of the condo was fixed as a home office/ bedroom.  It had a temporary, pull away wall. Unfortunately, I didn't have the foresight to take photos of the condo in it's original state. It was pretty terrifying once the previous occupant's stuff was out of it. Stained greige walls, stained baby blue and yellow walls, stained greige carpet, even the patio was stained- it was a chance to fix things up with a little elbow grease and settle in, hoping the future would hold a much better time for my space. I knew I would be entertaining friends for drinks and pre-partying so that awkward room at the hub of my condo became a dining room. 

Dining room circa 2010. 

The most recent incarnation of the space.  We put up those floral curtains so we could store our camping stuff in the room; I made them when I was 17! 

As Sergio and I began that "trying to conceive" dance, I remembered that our condo could easily become a two bedroom.  In lieu of buying a larger condo, we decided we would convert the dining room into a  nursery.  I fell in love with the idea of having a little nursery with French doors just off the living room.  It would be perfectly suited to a baby's room.

We hid this little photo strip in the wall we built to house the French doors just in case someone else decides to remove the wall and doors.  We should have left a note that said, "Why would you do that?" or some other silliness. 
Due to life, due to cancer, due to hard choices, the nursery idea became a distant memory, but the work had already been done.  We teetered between keeping the space as a dining room with French doors, but once I knew I needed a hysterectomy we decided to create a recovery space for me.  We liked the idea of having a separate space for a guest room and a space for me to watch television and work on craft projects while Sergio plays video games.  We already had a daybed that we were using as a couch, so we moved that into the space and bought a new couch.  We turned the little storage nook from the former space (which had also been a desk area in one incarnation) into a television nook/ closet area. 

Let the work begin!

I didn't realize how much work went into installing French doors and making a wall!  Also, the original opening was kind of crooked and not well-done, so work had to be done to make that structurally sound.

When Sergio and his cousin held the doors in place, my heart skipped a beat!  I loved them!

View from our living room.  The daybed was still our couch at that time.

Doors complete!

The same space circa 2014. It was originally a recovery room, but I have since recovered and this space is now our little television nook and space for guests to rest and stay safe after our parties.

I left the desk in place since it is sturdy and there was no reason to replace it at the moment, nor did we have the desire to break the budget.  There is space for a couple of suitcases underneath and a hanging bar across the top along with a little space next to the television for hanging clothes (in addition to the hooks on the walls.)  I will eventually put a long mirror on the wall next to the nook.

View from our patio into the room.  We chose to stay with curtains for the closet instead of installing doors since they are space savers.  We don't really have the floor space for any type of door and pocket doors won't work in the space.  The size of sliding door that we would have needed was too expensive!

While we were at it, since we replaced the daybed with a new couch, we made over the living room, too:

Living Room circa 2010.

Living Room circa 2012.  Um... I totally thought it looked good at the time.

The rest of the living room in 2012.  Gratuitous bunny and cat photo.

Our living room circa 2014. This transformation makes me smile.  I love the colors!

Our little space has evolved as our relationship has evolved.  I am not the same girl I was in 2010 (thank goodness for that in a lot of ways!).  I like to think I am in a happier, better place in life.  I guess the bright colors could certainly be an attestation to that, huh?  (Happiness and my husband (maybe even happiness because of my husband) are responsible for this makeover.)

Monday, July 7, 2014

On Golden Showers

It happened.

My adorable sweet rescue pup has grown TOO attached.

Don't let that sweet face full you.

I mean, when I leave in the middle of the day to run an errand and Sergio stays behind, little Bandy-Lu (AKA Bandit AKA El Chiquito Bandito) runs to our entry hall and scratches on the door.  He stops after Sergio yells at him.  I mean, he's just letting me and Sergio know that he misses me already.

Cute, right?

Until he pees on your leg.

Yup.  I rearranged on Friday and Sergio and I took photos on Saturday.  After the photo sessions, Bandy seemed to be in a happy-go-lucky mood.  I walked around the bedroom and stood in front of my dresser while I looked at my phone to check a text or instagram or something and I felt it.

A cold, wet stream running down my leg.

I mean, it wasn't even hot inside.  Why would I be sweating that bad?  This estrogen imbalance from the hysterectomy is getting out of hand.

And then I looked down.

Nope, it wasn't sweat.

My sweet little Bandy-Lu with his oversized ears was looking up at me with his little leg hiked and a huge puddle of pee pooling at my left foot.

This tiny, innocent looking pup introduced me to the definition of golden showers.

I did what anyone would do.  I called Sergio so we could clean it up and then I consulted Dr. Google.

At first, I thought maybe the antibiotic wasn't working fast enough.  We took him to the vet on Wednesday and he was diagnosed with an early stage bladder infection.

Wishful thinking.  I mean, a stronger pill is an easy fix and the follow-up visit would be free.

It seems Dr. Google thinks my sweet little pup is crying out to let everyone know that I am his.

Also, he is crying out for a stronger set of boundaries.

Looks like he won't be able to jump up on the couch with me all willy-nilly.

Chase has never peed on my leg.  He was pretty shocked when he heard the news.  He licked it off, though, so there's that.  He's our first little rescue pup and he did not prepare us for the naughtiness an 8-month-old terrier could introduce into our life.

And that is the story of how my sweet rescue pup peed on me because he is trying to mark me so my husband will leave me alone.  Apparently, he is a little jelly.  Also, he might think he's human.


Saturday, July 5, 2014

What I Did With My 59 Minute Rule

If you work for my agency, you would know that if you work the day before a holiday, you may get what's called the "59 Minute Rule."  That's when employees are allowed to leave work an hour early and won't be charged leave for it.  Some people went to happy hour.  Some people took a nap.  I rearranged.  Let's get started, shall we?

Le Room De Boom Boom

Before.  It's not like we got rid of our stuff.  We like our stuff.  We just rearranged.

A different angle of the room from "before."  We moved that hanging lamp to the living room over our "dining space."

After.  Seems a lot bigger, huh?  The difference rearranging can make!  Yes, we have carpeting.  I barely had it installed in 2008.  In a few years, we plan on getting those wood tile floors installed throughout the condo.

A different angle for "after" the rearrange.  I am so happy to have so much space.  Also, we use the chairs a lot more now that we have easy access to them.  When you enter the room from the side, you would be able to see an uninteresting view of the back side of the television, so I put that Anthropologie tripod lamp there.  It's great for a higher level of lighting and to obstruct the view.  (Television in bedroom = no bueno for Feng Shui, I know.  The wedding portraits next to it should balance that out, right?)

We left the dresser in the same spot and moved that cute little French corner chair next to it.

We also moved the bird cage lamp to the dresser.  It shows up more here, too.  This room is a dark space.  We have four lamps in here and an overheard light.  I think I am going to put a brighter light in the overhead light to see if it helps.

Well, in one of the photo captions above, I mentioned that we moved the hanging lamp from the bedroom (which had been there in the same spot seven year) to the living room.  

The Living Room:
 Before and After the July 3, 2014, 59 Minute Rule

Before.  Again, we love our bright stuff.  We just needed more space on our dining room table.  That's actually what brought about this whole rearranging thing.  I wanted to have a hanging lamp over the "dining space," but I didn't want to pay for a new one.  I also knew that the tripod lamp wouldn't have a home big enough for it anywhere in the living room, so a lamp swap made financial and logistical sense.

After. Subtle, but impactful; the light that hanging lamp gives off really lights up the living room nicely.  The only reason we have the vase on the table is because Sergio thought the table needed something on it.  It's so nice to have space when we eat now!

The view of the space as seen from our guest room.

I love that Anthro vase, but it sure holds flowers awkwardly!

We also have a television in our living room.  It's on the "knowledge" wall as far as Feng Shui is concerned.  I think the television can impart knowledge.  I feel smarter after every episode of "Weeds" and every game of Mario Kart.

Well, that's all.  Also, after we took these photos, Bandit totally marked me by peeing on my leg.  That's a post for another time, though.  

Don't forget to check out the full house tour here.