dear stranger

how does it happen, that a person can be (or appear to be) so successful, yet so fallen all at once?

i cannot grasp the conflicting duality of such a reality.

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First Class!

so i have just officially graduated!!!

i just got my Confirmation of Award through my email. because of how they released our results, in just 1 week my emotions were on a rollercoaster ride. last week they released our provisional grades without our honours classification. i almost cried (on the inside, cos’ i saw it whilst at work) because it looked so bad. i tried to take comfort at the fact that i had an A for my dissertation, which carried a 40% weightage for our whole course. but it still got to me. within a few days, which actually saw me rechecking my grades obsessively, they released my honours classification. it was simply put as 1. i could only breathe when my lecturer confirmed that it was indeed…

FIRST CLASS HONOURS.

my heart fluttered, and though this was what i wanted, i didn’t think it was possible. it took some time for it to sink in, as i questioned myself about how this could happen. the 9 months was extremely tumultuous, seeing that there were many crises, emergency room visits, stitches, surgeries, hospital admissions etc. i wasn’t at my best, and yet…

it can only be the grace of God. really. thank you Papa God!!!

no looking back now, Steph. fix your gaze on God and on the way forward!

MTX again, with triamcinolone at the side

about 1.5 weeks after my discharge, and a little over a week after i finished pred, i finally saw my rheumy with so much mixed emotions. please understand that we’ve not dealt with a flare of this magnitude in 3-4 years. if anything i was deathly afraid she’d look at my inflammatory markers, and forget to look at and listen to me as a person.

despite so much morning stiffness and disease activity (shoulders, wrists, MCPs, hips, knees, feet/toes), my ESR came up at a laughable 19 and CRP at 14. years with my rheumy has taught me that the fear of her sweeping my symptoms under the carpet was all too real. i could only tell her how it has all been affecting me in a different manner. and this time, because of how our patient-practitioner relationship matured over the years, she listened. offered the choices of either more pred, or going back on methotrexate. added the option to get an intramuscular triamcinolone injection. i know she’s holding back with pred, and i would too. in the end i went with the IM triamcinolone jab and MTX 12.5mg.

let’s see how things go. triamcinolone has a half-life of 18-36 hours, so i’m hoping it won’t wear off soon. and hopefully with only 12.5mg of MTX, my liver will be ok.

so just last week, in my first week of work (yay?), my RA flared up. i haven’t had such a bad flare in years, and aside from the marked morning stiffness which rang alarm bells, joints which have not flared in the last few years flared up to say hi. my walking cane came into good use again. after the concurrent first 4 days of work and flares and Arcoxia 120mg not working, i raised the white flag. i brought myself to the emergency room at night.

i had my reservations due to my experiences with going in for pain previously for pain, for very fortunately, all was fine and the doctors were very kind. they admitted me (first time for my RA), and when i tried to say no, they persuaded me to, on the account that i even have walking difficulties already. so it was a 24 hour stay. very brief. we just needed my rheumy to see me in the ward and decide the course of prednisolone for me. my inflammatory markers were very underwhelming, and i had to keep explaining to all the doctors examining me that i am seronegative, and my hands are largely spares. So yes, no sky high ESR and CRP, no classic RA hands. i think the only thing that was grossly swollen was my popliteal bursa.

was given 30mg of pred in the emergency room, which helped some. then rheumy decided on just 5mg for 5 days, and an appointment to see her a week thereafter. i just finished the course of pred, but RA is still making me very miserable. i am reminded how i came to be on pred for one long year when i got first diagnosed. these flares just won’t go away.

tired, and just trying to be okay as the inflammation gnaws away at my joints. sigh. you’ll be okay, steph.

eighteen

2017 passed me by like a nightmare i couldn’t wake up from. it has been excruciatingly painful.

i can’t remember the details of much (due to amnesia), but i know that i struggled a lot with physical and psychic pain. i never stopped trying to crawl out of the depths of unending darkness, because of the obligations i had to my family and to school. but i kept falling. i was in the emergency room so often- poked and prodded, cut up and stitched up, sent into surgery, and nights spent alone in the hospital… consequently, i too submitted to ECT even more, just to quell the dysphoria which haunted me perpetually. i’m not proud of it, and i know for all of these that i go through, i am ashamed of myself and by all others. but this is the best i can do to extend my existence.

but in the midst of the pain in 2017, i witnessed the great and unfailing faithfulness of God, and His perfect love for me, His child so sinful and sorrowful.

in 2018, may i learn to be little, to trust You with a child-like faith, to submit to Your divine will, and to love You with all that You have made me to be (and so much more). 

failing flesh

i find that increasingly, i am writing in this blog because my memory is poor these days, and referencing back to these entries help me with memory recall of my life’s events, which so often slip through my fingers like sand.

i had my follow-up with my neurologist a few weeks back. while i was happy to report that things didn’t seem too acute right now and the symptoms appeared to be episodic like last year, i was still having issues with my memory, and word-finding, limb weakness here and there, and knee buckling.

he thinks some of the medications i take may be contributing to these symptoms, such as lithium, topiramate, escitalopram, and pregabalin. however to my surprise, without me saying anything, he actually understood why i needed them and at such high doses (for my diagnoses that is).

he relooked at my scans, and apart from the leukoaraiosis that the radiologist reported, he told me that in his experience and opinion, it does look like there is cerebral atrophy.

a quiet and calm wave of panic washed over me. i don’t understand. first they only reported to me after a year they scanned me that there was leukoaraiosis, which was uncharacteristic of my age, and they also could not find out what’s wrong. then the symptoms affected my dissertation writing, and also my final exams, and i am told there is cerebral atrophy, but there appears to be no apparent cause despite my signs and symptoms. how did parts of my brain waste away? and what will all these symptoms and findings mean in the long-term for me?

there is so much uncertainty… but i guess, with all things health-related, some things can’t be explained.


in the midst of a great fibromyalgia flare. my anaesthetist jabbed my shoulders, decreased my topiramate to 25mg BD, increased pregabalin by another 150mg, and added eperisone at my request. aarghhhhhhh I HATE FLARES.

crossroads

I’m almost at a standstill, not knowing where to go or what to do. It feels like there’s much more at stake now too. I simply do not know how to take another step forward when risks percentages have yet to budge. I’ll know I’ll fall again, even if I’ve left it all behind. And I know I can’t afford it.