Monday, September 15, 2014

From Left to Write: The Underground Girls of Kabul by Jenny Nordberg

I feel lucky to have grown up in this country, in this time period, with my mom. I never felt pressured to act like my gender or give it up completely. I could play with my tonka trucks and ninja turtles in a frilly Easter dress, or ride my bike in heels. I could play with barbies and my toy kitchen wearing pants and a plaid shirt. I could cut my hair or leave it long, whichever I preferred.

I spent a lot of my teenage years with teenage boys and felt like "one of the guys" without having to discard my gender and literally become one of the guys. I spent countless days alone with one or more boys, often in their bedrooms, without it impacting my reputation. And I didn't need to pretend I was also a boy to do so! When I started dating my husband he could ask me about my sexual history (or lack thereof) directly and believe me even if there had been gossip saying otherwise.

One woman in the book states that it is the wish of ever Afghan woman to have been born a man. When the biggest difference between men and women is freedom who can blame them? I too have often wished I had been born a man but for completely different reasons. So many of my health problems throughout the years have been female exclusive. If I was a man I would not have PCOS or endometriosis. I wouldn't menstruate at all, let alone as heavily and painfully as I do. My weight probably wouldn't have shot up as soon as I hit puberty and it would be easier to maintain or lose whatever weight I did gain. I wouldn't have a dildocam shoved up one of my orifices several times a year or need multiple surgeries to burn and cut off the tissue that causes terrible pain more days than not.

If becoming a bacha posh could have saved me from this I would have done it in a heartbeat, and in that way I can understand why these girls do it. Really I think, more than wanting to have been born a man, we wish being born a woman would not be so disadvantageous. More than once Afghanistan has been ruled by groups wanting to bring feminism to the middle east, and yet so little has changed. If you think about it not much time has passed since our own country has become more female friendly. I must have hope that one day things will change for them, and for me.

This post was inspired by The Underground Girls of Kabul by journalist Jenny Nordberg, who discovers a secret Afghani practice where girls are dressed and raised as boys. Join From Left to Write on September 16th as we discuss The Underground Girls of Kabul. As a member, I received a copy of the book for review purposes.

Saturday, September 6, 2014

Why so finicky?

For the most part things are going well in the colitis department. I'm back on my normal diet other than a few adjustments and have been doing okay. The other day I had my favorite Mongolian barbecue from the best place ever and was perfectly fine. Then a few days later I have steak (which was the meat in my Mongolian barbecue) and some french fries (which I've also eaten without problems) and completely relapse. Yesterday I stayed up for about 36 hours because I couldn't stay out of the bathroom long enough to fall asleep. After half a day of not eating anything at all I was finally able to sleep. This morning I had some toast and jam, something I've eaten a LOT of since I was hospitalized, and apparently even that is not good enough for my body right now.  Grrrr. I suppose I will have to try a liquid diet again for a bit and see if things change.

Thursday, August 14, 2014

Depression and Suicide

I know I haven't posted for a while. I actually thought about making a post explaining why a few days ago but then my colitis relapsed. This I felt was worth dusting off the blog for though. As someone who struggles with depression, and has gotten far closer to the point of suicide than anyone would want to be, Matt Walsh's post made me cry (and not in a good way). He truly doesn't get it. I'm glad he doesn't get it, but it still hurts.

I do believe that suicide is a choice. It is a selfish choice. At one point I wanted to die. I didn't want to kill myself, but I wished one of my illnesses would be fatal so that there would be an end. I knew what that would do to my family. In fact I believe thinking about that is what kept me in the wishful thinking phase rather than truly becoming suicidal because I couldn't do that to them. But at some point that changes. At some point it gets so bad you truly cannot bear it. The only thing that matters is that it ends. It is a selfish choice but one I can't judge, because the pain it causes their friends and family is no where near the pain of continuing to live. In the rare case it is, those friends and family make the same choice.

I don't know if joy and hope are the cure to depression. I think it's more likely that joy and hope are a side effect of the cure. Either way, when you are in the throes of depression you cannot hope. You cannot have joy. You can't and that's not your fault. I remember my own mother telling me I must continue to have hope, and feeling even worse because I couldn't. It's not that I didn't want to, I just couldn't. You can't go down to Walgreens and pick up a bottle of hope and a tube of joy to apply three times a day. But you know what is a cure for depression? Death. And sometimes to the person suffering any cure is better than no cure. I cannot fault them for that.

Here is a good article that made me feel better after reading both of Matt Walsh's blog posts. What did I find helpful? Having hope for me rather than expecting me to hope myself. Letting me know you believed one day I would feel better even if I could not believe it myself. Being there for me, letting me know I wasn't a burden, that you would continue to love me even if I never got better. But mostly it was antidepressants and actually seeing improvements in my health. If I was still so ill I couldn't do anything but lay in bed in agony I don't think all the support and love in the world would have mattered.

ETA: I want to clarify that since I don't know everyone's thoughts who walk this path, I cannot say it is always selfish. I am sure there are some people who believe they need to do this for a reason other than their own self interest. I am also using selfish to mean "concerned with one's own desire or well-being" in a morally neutral way, rather than a purely negative one. Being selfish is natural, and human, and okay. Also there are some instances where it may not be a choice, such as some drug overdoses or being in a mental state where you truly don't know what you're doing. I personally do not consider those suicides even though they may be classified as such.

Sunday, June 29, 2014

Hospital Adventures

Around June 10th I got a migraine. I get them every once in a while so it wasn't surprising. I took my rescue medication and waited for it to pass. Unfortunately, it didn't. I can't remember if it started on Monday or Tuesday, but by Friday I knew something was wrong. Migraines are normally only one day affairs for me, and on occasions where they last two days it's because I failed to take my rescue medication quickly enough. So I called the doctor and got an appointment for Monday, June 16th.

The doctor wasn't sure why it had lasted that long but didn't seem that concerned. She gave me a shot in my hip and some new, stronger rescue medication. I got some lunch and then took a nap as the different meds had made me tired.

This is the part where things start to get a little TMI, so consider this your warning.

I woke up later in gastrointestinal distress you might say. My first thought was actually food poisoning. Then I started noticing blood. I checked the information on my new rescue medication and bloody diarrhea was listed under CALL A DOCTOR IMMEDIATELY so that's what I did. I was then told to go to the ER.

At the ER I gave a bunch of blood, a sample, and was hooked up to an IV for fluids. Later I had a CT scan. Results came in and my white blood count was crazy high. They decided to admit me and started me on IV antibiotics. I had all the symptoms of something called c diff but I was missing a distinctive smell.
They decided I needed a colonoscopy, but not in time to do it Tuesday morning so I had to wait till Wednesday. I was on IV antibiotics all that day and a liquid diet. The blood stopped at some point on Tuesday but I was still having problems. I don't even want to go into the torture that was consuming the liquid for the bowel prep. I almost wasn't able to do it and I still have Viet Nam flashbacks about it as my mom would say.

Wednesday I had the colonoscopy and they were going to release me but I still couldn't eat anything without rushing to the bathroom. My migraine also returned and has remained off and on since. The doctor was confused. I definitely had some kind of colitis and an infection but cultures say no c diff. Could be some other infection causing the colitis or could be Crohn's, "we'll know if I get better." Thursday I was able to eat a little without rushing to the bathroom immediately so they let me go home that afternoon. I started a GI soft/bland, dairy free diet and was given a week's worth of two different antibiotics. That was the 19th.

I've finished the antibiotics now but I'm not any better than when I left the hospital. Any attempt to eat "real" food has seen a return of urgency and pain. Even eating permitted foods makes me uncomfortable. I'm worried. Either my infection hasn't gone away completely, which means it is now making a come back, or the infection was only part of the problem. My follow up appointment isn't until the 7th. I just want to be better.

Monday, June 16, 2014

Punday 06/16

Monday, June 9, 2014

Punday 06/09