Monday 20 December 2010

Merry Christmas & Happy New Year.

Wishing all my lovely readers a very Merry Christmas.  May the year ahead be filled with love, laughter and joy for you all. 

Big love.
Michelle :)

Wednesday 8 December 2010

Unexpected Packages Equals Unexpectd Joy.

A package arrived in the mail the other day.  I had no idea it was on it's way.  I had no idea who would be sending me a package when Mr Grumpy handed it over.  A quick look at the sender said it was from a fellow blogger here in Oz.  I've been following Elizabeth's blog for a while now.  She runs a gorgeous boutique here in Melbourne, Fanantique, with beautiful vintage clothing and accessories.  She also creates a mean cocktail, loves a champers, and all things Tim Burton, so I already knew she was a top chick.  But I never expected such a thoughtful package to arrive.

For a while now I've lamented my inability to travel to meet her in person and attend her recent fashion event (check out some of the gorgeous dresses, Mr Grumpy take note, hint hint) held at a local boutique perfumery, thanks to Bob.  So in complete and unexpected lovliness she sent me a package of bits and bobs from her boutique.  A case of, if I can't make it down to Bay St, a little bit of Bay St can come to me. 

(My gorgeous goodies)

It was such a lovely, and unexpected surprise.  There was perfume, hand cream, cards with her art work,and even champagne chocolates to chomp on until I can have a champagne with her in person, to name but a few.  There were even Christmas dog biscuits from her local dog bakery for Freyja and Thor.  It was such a thoughtful gift and really made my day.

(Yummy lip balm and cute little red bird to feed my red addiction.  
Okay, I just realised the lip balm is upside down.  Damn brain fog.)

(Eye mask, Turkish Delight perfume  and hand cream)

(Freyja giving Thor the death stare whilst I make her wait for her biscuit)

("Hurry up mum and let me have the damn biscuit".  Ignore Thor's drool patches on the floor.)

  (Mmmm.... buscuit)

I think my favourite out of all the gifts were two bon voyage cards, one for Bob and one for Jeff.  So as you can probably guess I've been beaming.  It wasn't so much the gifts themselves, although they are lovely, but the thoughtfulness behind them.  It's so nice to know that there really are some truly thoughtful and lovely people in the world.  It's also rather nice to be able to write about something joyful rather than the usual woe is me.

Must now go crank up some classic Edith Piaf, splash on some Chanel No.5, and nanna nap with my leopard print eye mask.  One of my first purchases when I started getting a regular pay cheque, was a set of gorgeous, and stupidly expensive, ivory silk and handcrafted lace, French lingerie (something I'd always wanted). I wonder if I can get them past my thighs these days?  That would complete the mood.  Maybe I should just have enjoy some Brie, or a glass of Sauvignon Blanc? Decisions, decisions.

Au Revoir

The very pampered Michelle :)

Mood music, Edith Piaf, La Vie En Rose (1946)

Friday 26 November 2010

Knock On Wood: Two Weeks Post Angioplasty.


Well it's been two weeks since my ballooning, so I thought I should do an update.

First of all I should clarify, I didn't have a stent inserted with the ballooning.  Current stents are designed for arteries which are structurally different to veins.  Stenting is not recommended for jugular veins at present (although some countries are doing it) and complications can arise.  Personally I'm quite happy not having a foreign body stuck inside my neck.  Jeff is enough to deal with, without adding risks of occlusions, reactions or stents that may go on holidays and travel to your heart.

The procedure I had involves the insertion of a balloon into the vein which is blown up to stretch the walls of the vein to snap the fibers and hopefully stay open with the force of the blood flow.  Think of it as your favourite pair of comfy undies with the overstretched elastic.  The idea is to go from uncomfortable new tight elastic undies that cut into your muffin top, to blissful lying on the couch, with a piece of cake or bag of Dorritos, no bra, manky ugg boots and over-sized granny undies, comfiness.  Hopeful those fibres will stay where they are and not snap back.

Recovery has been slower than I hoped thanks to the fickle nature of Bob.  Stupidly I thought I would be fine after a couple of days like a 'normal' person.  You'd think I'd learn by now.  Everything takes longer to heal with Bob.  Hell, even a papercut takes a year and a half to heal with Bob.  So why I thought this would be any different I don't know.

The feeling of being punched in the neck and groin is slowly passing and hopefully given another week it'll just be a twinge.  I think I may have overdone things a bit in my haste to see if there has been any change to my functioning (eg trying to scrub the bath) which also hasn't really helped things.  Plus this pesky pestilence from the monkey boys refuses to give in.  Just when I think I have it licked, the bastard raises it's ugly head again.  I'm beginning to think it is the Terminator of pestilence.  Just when you think you've frozen it with liquid nitrogen and blown it into little pieces, it melts and reforms into weird looking Agent Doggett guy from the X-Files, determined to take out my tonsils.

I went back to my physio for review this week.  I have learnt that my anal need to have quantifiable data is a tad unusual.  I have given my physio no end of amusement as her first patient to ever request an assessment pre and post a procedure.  Apparently, normal patients don't want to sit through fatigue scales, balance tests and the like, they just focus on getting the procedure done.   But hell, I've never claimed to be normal.

So the results are in, and I've had improvements.  Not, totally cured, going to climb Everest and run the New York Marathon type of improvements, but improvements none the less.  I wont bore you with the nitty gritties but simply:

  • My balance has improved.  Rather than flapping my arms like a mad woman and falling over whenever I try to balance, I actually managed to stay upright on my right leg for 30 sec with minimal arm flappage.  Woo Hoo!  I'm excited.  Big Kev Excited people.
  • I was able to walk an additional 57m in the 6min test. 
  • My strength has improved from wet tissue to soggy soak and maybe even dry sock on my right side.
  • My fatigue scores have improved.  Not to normal levels but I am less abnormal.
  • I still have a marked difference between my right and left side, with the left being consistently pathetic, but both sides have improved.  For those who have asked, I still have no idea why I have such a marked difference and my physio could only tell me it was abnormal, but not why.
  • My shakiness was drastically improved.  Normally if I strain physically (eg stand up) I am like a human Shake Weight.   But on review I had minimal shakage.
  • Considering it was 32C when I did my review I should have been far worse (it was 24C when I did my first assessment) so that in and of itself says I've had improvement.
So overall, my baseline has improved which is a good thing, and thanks to my analness, I have the objective data to prove it.  So to those who say any improvements from treating CCSVI are a placebo effect (that's you  douchey neurologists) I say bite me baby. 

Subjectively I've had improvements as well:
  • Nausea is still at a minimum.  I've had a couple of times where I felt the first strains of nausea welling up (mostly on particularly hot days), but that's it. I'm still bloated, crampy, irregular or way over regular, so the gastric issues are still there, but this one factor is now missing.  If this is the only long term effect of having Jeff slapped around I'm pretty stoked.
  • Still no migraines (insert me doing a little dance).  I've had some headaches but these have been minimal and overall I've had a total of 2 Nurofen Plus in the past two weeks, whereas pre-angioplasty I was eating them like candy.
  • I stood up in the shower and washed my hair.  To those without Bob this sounds rather unimpressive, but rest assured those with Bob will all be breathing a collective "Whoa" in amazement at such a feat.  I haven't done this since I brought my shower chair about 8mths ago, and even before that I used to sit on the floor of my manky shower to wash my hair.
  • Apparently I'm sharper.  I don't know if I believe this one, but my family, friends and even my physio pointed this out.  Normally I have trouble finishing my sentences thanks to permanent brain fog.  I have trouble finding words, or even following conversations.  This, whilst not back to pre-Bob levels, has all improved.  I even spoke to a girlfriend for about 30mins on the phone and managed to stay coherent.
  • I've been told I also have a little bit of colour in my face now.  Not to be pasty is kind of weird.  I'd become very used to rocking pasty chic, so moving from green tinge to normal pale is a novelty that I am quite enjoying.
Unfortunately some things remain the same:
  • My pooling is unchanged.  
  • My hr and bp have remained pretty at pretty much normal levels of abnormalness (I took multiple readings the week pre and post), though my fluctuations don't seem as extreme and my systolic pressure is generally higher.  My hr has been somewhat higher and I've been having more tachycardia.
  • Still having issues with heat intolerance, though I do think it has lessened a bit, in that I can do a little more than before even on a hot day and am recovering a little better.
So that's where I am now.  I'm enjoying and appreciating the improvements and not sweating (Ha! feel the irony) the things that haven't improved.  The IR who did my procedure said he was unable to open Jeff as much as he wanted so I was not expecting a panacea.  As I've said previously, I didn't go into this looking for a cure and I am aware that the research is in it's infancy and there is still controversy as to why this would cause any improvements, but I am happy to ride the wave, or go with the flow (love the play on words) as my best friend suggested.

Funny how a little bit of blood flow can make you feel a whole lot better.  Damn that brain and it's pesky need to drain.

I will be sending all the pre-post data to my IR and cardio, for their review.  I will also be pointing out to the IR that if he has more Bob patients, that he needs to up the drugs, thanks to our tendency to not feel the affects of anesthetics (we're lucky like that).  Why I didn't even think of this beforehand I'll never know, you'd think the fact that the local anesthetic barely worked (OW!) when I had my last arterial line would have stayed in my mind, but no brain fog won once more.   If I have to have this done again I'll be requesting enough drugs to knock out an elephant, and then some.  I will also be asking my IR for some pics so I can show you the new eunuch Jeff.

So I will continue to feel up every piece of wood in my vicinity in the hope that I wont jinx myself by putting my improvements out into the ether.  Any additional wood touching anyone wishes to contribute will be more than welcomed.

The Un-puking Michelle :)

Knock on Wood, Amii Stewart (1979), what else could I play?

Saturday 20 November 2010

The view from my couch: Surrounded by furry love.

Some days the floor is just the best place to be.  Some days I am surrounded by furry, smelly love, whether I want it or not.  On a bad day they are my shadows lying as close as possible.  When I didn't wake up easily one day, I was awoken by a big fawn head on my chest looking intently at my face and a grey speckled muzzle barking two inches from my nose.  When I shower they sit outside the bathroom door, or more disturbingly sit just outside the glass door staring.  Now if only I could sleep so peacefully in a little patch of sunlight. 

Michelle :)

Friday 19 November 2010

The smiting (or at least purple nurpling) of Jeff.

Well hello there.  It's been a little while since I last blogged but having someone thread you like a needle and try and inflate the Goodyear blimp in your neck sort of puts a dampener on blogging.  Add in that my efforts to teach my offspring to share came back to bite me on the arse, as the ebola riddled monkey boys I call children, decided to share their pestilence.  Nothing like having pustule covered tonsils the size of footballs and coughing up a lung to make recovery from surgery a blast.  I have spent a lot of the past week coughing and grabbing my groin (the incision site), which is a really good look when you're out in public.  Though I did giggle at a fiend who suggested I moonwalk each time to alleviate the awkwardness.

Thanks to all those who sent lovely messages, crossed various body parts and said a prayer to the deity of the choice, it has warmed the little cockles of my heart.  Whilst I had hoped to respond individually, I've been a little overwhelmed.  So instead I'm sending out a big cyber hug to everyone.  Consider yourselves well and truly hugged.

To reiterate for those who haven't the foggiest what I'm talking about.  A while back I had a MRI and found out that my left jugular vein was a mutant named Jeff and my brain wasn't draining properly (this is known as CCSVI or Chronic Cerebrospinal Venous Insufficiency).  I met with a Vascular Interventional Radiologist (The Balloonman) who said he could put a hit out on Jeff, or at lest slap him around a bit, with a balloon angioplasty.  This past Friday I underwent balloon angioplasty to try and sort Jeff out.

The whole day was kind of bizarre, and not one I'd jump to repeat.  The waiting sucks.  The repeating your history and explaining Bob to every doctor and nurse grows old really quickly.  The repeated taking of obs not fun.  The old guy coughing up a lung behind the curtain not fun.  Hospital TV not fun.  Though playing with the electric bed whilst giggling like a two-year-old with your husband was fun. 

Angioplasty is not for the for the faint of heart, especially if the drugs don't work.  As many of you know I was adamant that I would be requesting copious amounts of drugs to make it through.  I also told Mr Grumpy that if I forget to mention my desire for pharmaceuticals, he was to tell every nurse and doctor that came within ear shot that I wanted drugs.  I may or may not have threatened that he would be singing castrato if he failed in this duty.  At my meeting with The Balloonman a couple of weeks before I was assured that I would be drugged up on "Jungle Juice".  A magical elixir that would allow them to talk to me throughout but would leave me with no memory of the event.

LIAR!  May your pants be forever on fire.

The drugs didn't work.  I kept lying there the whole time thinking,

"It's all okay. I wont remember anything.  Yes my lady bits are on show in a room full of strangers.  But I wont remember a thing.  Yes it hurts like hell.  But I wont remember.  I wont remember."

But dammit I do.  Every last second of it.

I remember lying on the table and the nurse lifting up my gown in front of a young male doc and saying, "your groin looks good".  Which was then followed by her coming back and exposing me to the same guy again, plus a number of other nursing staff and various doctors, and deciding I needed a shave.  All of which has left me looking like I chickened out of a bikini wax half way through.  A bikini wax which apparently was done by a blind woman with the DTs.  Though I shouldn't complain.  A girlfriend who had the same procedure was asked by the male doc if she wanted a star or a love heart when it was decided she needed a further trimming.  Go doctor humour.  Way to ease the tension.  An added bonus is that I have had the usual skin reaction to bandage adhesives and have a super sexy square of red, itchy and welted groin going on at the incision site.  Fanbloodytastic.

I remember the sadistic overuse of local anaesthetic in my groin, by stabby man.  At that stage I was trying to maintain my ladylike persona and swallowed down my expletives, later on I was not so worried about minding my manners and the odd F-bomb may have been uttered.  Despite my issues being up in my neck, they insert the wire and balloon down in the groin at the femoral vein and then thread it all the way up to the jugular.  I do think I might suggest to them that the cut could be made either an inch up or down from the crease where your leg joins your torso, as this is where your undies seam sits and rubs the hell out of the incision point.  Ow.  I most certainly remember the series of directions required to thread the wire up through my body and the weird pressure.   

I remember looking up at the machine they place over your neck to scan the vein whilst they play around.  I remember staring at the plastic wrapped machine that had the word Siemens written on it, and thinking up a myriad of dirty jokes (classy I know).  This was the machine that took x-rays the whole time whilst they shot me up with a contrast dye to map the veins (venograph), and ballooned.  I will say thinking up dirty jokes is a good way to distract yourself from reality.

I remember being told to turn my neck in various directions to best position the balloon.  Apparently turning it to the left squished it up.  Apparently staying still is vital as I was told this numerous times.  Might I add excruciating pain is not conducive to staying still and I may have thought about telling them to "bite me", should they say it once more.

I remember the crackling sound as they inflated the balloon.   It's rather weird hearing a sound like someone is crumpling up cellophane coming from inside your body.

I definitely remember pain.  Whilst doing the part of my jugular which resides in my neck hurt, it was nothing compared to when they went higher up to the jugular bulb.  I now know what it must feel like if you were to accidentally stab yourself in the ear with a javelin that had been dipped in lava and glass shards.  I'd definitely advise against trying that one at home kiddies.  This may have been a time of F-bombs.  I was warned that pain was the gauge they use to measure how close they are to tearing your jugular, which I was happy to hear they wanted to avoid.  But holy hell.  There are no swear words to adequately describe that pain.  Unfortunately Jeff was rather tight and resistent to stretching so the biggest they could do was 7mm wide which is still far less than normal size (12mm is about average).

I remember chest pain throughout most of the procedure (and for about three days after).  Luckily the lava and glass covered javelin stuck in my ear took my mind off my chest pain. 

I remember being shown the scans post-ballooning.  Loads of scans.  Unfortunately the nature of Jeff meant that they were unable to do as much as they wanted.  The risk of tearing the vein was too great and part of it was compressed by my carotid.  It is opened up more, just not as far as they had hoped.  Turns out the blood was trying to force it's way unsuccessfully out collateral veins that had grown around the stenosis and out my vertebral plexis.  The Balloonman was not overly hopeful that they had achieved much.

Not being able to get up to pee for 2 hours after was a challenge thanks to my acron sized baldder.  The nurse told me that I could get up and pee at 5pm and I counted down every last minute.  At 4.50pm I begged the nurse to let me go, and after a quick set of obs I was allowed the blessed pee.  It was bliss I tell you, pure bliss.
To top off my fun day as I was leaving my right arm vasospasmed and turned black the whole length.  I've had dark pooling before but nothing like that.  Luckily it cleared up after about half an hour, but not before The Balloonman had been called back over, though he did pay for our parking, bonus!  Oh, and he also checked the file and said I had enough drugs pumped into me there's no way I should remember, so really I guess I'm just lucky.

So whilst the smiting of Jeff was not 100% successful, I like to think he is at least living life as a eunich.  What that means long term I don't know.  Whether he'll come back I don't know, but it is a risk.

It's been a week now and I can say I have felt some improvements, though I am busily running around touching wood (the tree variety for those with a dirty mind, which means you Mr Grumpy).  So far the changes I've noticed are:
  • I haven't had nausea (well except for when I ate jam, which is rather dumb when you have issues with fructose, but it looked so good) or vomited since before the procedure.  This is rather huge as this has been one of my worst symptoms and has been resistant to every drug and dietary change I have made.  I haven't had a day free of nausea since I first became ill.  So one week nausea-free is a bit like winning the lottery.
  • I haven't had a migraine since.  Normally I eat pain killers for migraines and headaches.  Especially, getting the boys bug should have sent me into migraine hell.  Even my headaches have been minimal.
  • I can read 12 font without my glasses.  I haven't been able to do that since.....well I can't remember when.  Overall my vision seems crisper.
  • I stood up in the shower and washed my hair today.  This is huge.  I've had a shower chair for quite a while now and before that I would sit on the floor of my manky shower.  In particular, raising my arms above my head is difficult at the best of times as they go numb pretty much immediately and it seems to set off my other symptoms.
  • I've been sharper mentally, well at least that's what the rug rats and Mr Grumpy tell me.  I'm not sure myself, though I was able to talk on the phone for about half an hour and remain coherent.  I usually have heaps of trouble following a conversation on the phone and find it quite exhausting.  
Unfortunately, there hasn't been a change in my pooling, and nothing huge in my heart rate or blood pressure, although my systolic pressure has been a little better.  My hands were warm the first couple of days but that has passed and I'm back to icy hands.  With the bug I've had a fever so I don't know about my heat intolerance.

I never saw de-Jeffing as a cure for Bob, but I am happy with the changes I have seen.  For me it's been  more an issue of alleviating any excess disability.  Given how I have been feeling since, it seems Jeff has been exacerbating my symptoms.  A week before my ballooning I saw my physio and had an assessment, completed fatigue scales and an autonomic symptom scale.  Next Monday I see her again to see if there has been any quantifiable change.  By then I should be over this bug and the affects of the procedure itself (pain and fatigue) so I should have a clearer idea.

Most of the literature surrounding CCSVI is related to MS, but just today I saw a Youtube video of a guy with Lyme disease who had been diagnosed with CCSVI and had the angioplasty.  Interestingly a lot of the symptom relief he talked about I have also had.  Apparently there are about 5 Lyme patients who have had this done now.  There are currently studies being conducted to determine if CCSVI exists in patient groups other than MS, and the results of angioplasty in these groups.  So far I'm the only person I know of with Bob to have it done, which is kind of exciting and kind of scary.  I'm not suggesting that others go out and get tested for this, for me it only became an option after I was out of all other options, but I will say for me it seems to have helped some of symptoms.  Only time will tell how permanent the changes are, but until then I will be madly touching wood at every opportunity and marveling at the dust gathering on my puke bags.

Michelle :)

So just for Jeff, I give you the Honeymoon Is Over, Tex Perkins and The Cruel Sea

Saturday 13 November 2010

Balloon Update

Hi there, Mr Grumpy here - a number of readers asked for an early update.

Just a quick note to let you know the angioplasty procedure went well yesterday. Michelle is resting well, though sore. First balloon was 5mm x 10cm and the second 7mm x 6cm. The only *issue* was that the twilight anaesthetic did not knock her out so she was awake throughout. There was only one F-bomb dropped during one balloon inflation - the room full of students sniggered quietly at that.

So Jeff is in dire straights though further testing will be needed to make sure Jeff is dead.

Michelle will be back with you soon.

Mr Grumpy :|

PS If you want to help out the fund raising for research into Prostate Cancer and Depression a great cause has been established in Australia - Movember. I am in a team and you can read all about it and donate at: any and all help will be greatly appreciated.

Thanks in advance, Mr G.

Tuesday 9 November 2010

The View From My Couch: The Often Overlooked Healing Power of the Kazoo.


This is a photo of  Kenneth Kazoo (named after Kenneth Parcell the psychotically perky NBC page, from 30 Rock) who has travelled all the way from the old U S of A with the sole purpose of making my smile, and he's very good at that job.  Kenneth, as I've named him, arrived on my shores via the delightful Elly Lou at BugginWord who always makes me smile, with her blush worthy posts and comments.  Whose thoughtfulness, noted that not only can he be played lying down but is even MRI friendly.  Though I was a little concerned by the note that mentioned he may also give Jeff an erection. 

Kenneth comes every where with my now and even went to meet The Balloonman.  He shall be coming along on Friday for my angioplasty.  Every time I look at Kenneth he makes me smile.  Every time I try to play him, my ineptitude makes me laugh.  Every time I see him in my handbag nestled next to my puke bag it reminds me that there are some truly lovely people in the world.  Plus he's red.  If that doesn't make him a thing of beauty I don't know what does.

Michelle :)

Friday 5 November 2010

The View From My Couch.

Ever since I was a little girl I've wanted to travel.  For me it was always places like Morocco, Chile and Cambodia that were always high on my list.   I've always wanted to experience the more exotic locations that were so far removed from my normal existence.  I've travelled in Asia, thanks to it's close proximity when we lived in Darwin (Bali was only an hours flight).   From Vietnam which was truly breathtaking and far more diverse than I could ever have expected.  Bali beautifully exotic.  To Singapore, and it's juxtaposition of the ultra modern and the historic.  Each country had it's own charms.

Going off the beaten path was always my preferred choice of travel.  That's where you have the best experiences, and sometimes the most scary.  Having a machine gun trained on our small boat in Vietnam whilst the men on board demanded cash was a tad unnerving.  However, sitting having tea with a family of Dragonfruit farmers in the middle of nowhere, was bliss.  Travelling to other countries opens your eye's to other ways of life, it can be confronting and exhilarating at the same time. 

Now those experiences are unlikely to happen again unless I can get Bob to bugger off somewhere in the future.  My physical world is now reduced to a very, very small space, sometimes no bigger than my couch.  I can't drive far.  I can't walk far.  Some days my backyard seems as remote as the Silk Road I had always planned to walk.   

Part of the joy of travel is photography.  I'm one of those obnoxious people who is not above tying you to a chair, propping your eyes open with matchsticks and forcing you to look at hundreds of photos of my adventures. Unfortunately for me, but not my future viewing victims, my plan to photograph my way through the casbah and beyond is not going to happen.  Time to reinvent and think outside the square once more.

Every day we overlook the beauty that surrounds us.  We seek outside ourselves and our regular environment to find beauty and excitement.  We miss the small stuff.  The little moments that are all the more precious for their simplicity.  There is beauty all around us, if we take the time to notice.  If we take the time to refocus our vision until it naturally seeks out that beauty.

So I have a plan.  It may not be a good plan.  It may verge on mad.  It may be teetering on the edge of 'watching paint dry' levels of boredom.

So what's my plan?  Well thanks for asking.  I plan to find beauty in my immediate vicinity and more importantly take a snap.

I'm calling it "The View From My Couch".  There is beauty out there people and damn it I'm going to find it, even if it kills me.  I'm going to try once or twice a week to post a photo of something that screams beauty to me, or just simply gives me joy. 

So here's the first one.  I took this on the steps at the side of my house.  The flowers are actually a weed, but they are so cute I just can't make myself pull them out.  I love that even something that is supposed to be worthless can still have beauty.

'Lawn Daisies'

Just call me Ansel Adams.

Michelle :)

What other musical accompaniment for a blog about photography could there be but, Girls on Film, by Duran Duran.  I still remember giggling at the 'naughty' version, think girls wearing clear plastic undies, whipped cream, and lots of boobs, when I was a child.  I look at it now and think how the hell did they ever get that on TV?

Wednesday 3 November 2010

Zen and the Art of Tupperware.

Inspiration comes from many unexpected places.  For me it happened two weekends ago in a room of 20 giggling, slightly intoxicated women, two shirtless men and Tupperware.   Who knew this would be a place of Confucian wisdom and deep contemplation.

It may have been the glass of champaign.  It may have been the hilarity of watching my slightly inebriated ex-boss running around taking photos with the cap on the camera or singing Katie Perry's, Peacock song (brilliant).  It may have been the novelty of men demonstrating Tupperware.  It may have been the shirtless men making meat balls in the kitchen or cooking rice in the Tupperware microwave rice cooker.  It may have been the shirtless men serving their well made balls with the serviettes tucked in the waistband of their Bonds undies.  It may have been the shirtless......

Sorry slightly distracted there by memories of abs and the best Tupperware party EVER.  Where was I?  Oh yes, inspiration.  Not long after I arrived we were all being introduced.  "S is a physio, M is a dietician,....Michelle is a neuropsychologist...".  WTF?  Something about that simple statement jarred.  I felt a little like I'd been slapped (admittedly that could have been the glass of champers as it's been a while.  But for the purposes of this story lets just go with it as a spiritual slap).

It's been a long time since I've thought of myself as a neuropsychologist.  I haven't seen a patient since 2007.  I haven't picked up a WAIS or a Rey-figure since I realised work was nolonger an option.  I have let my professional memberships slide.  I haven't picked up a copy of the Annals of Neurology in years.  My text books are still gathering dust in the pile where I threw them in a fit of pique at the injustice of the universe.  The last time I was near a patient with dementia they were on the exercise bike next to me at physio.  Actually, the old lady rubbing oranges on her face at my local supermarket the other day may also have had a touch of dementia, or a bizarre fetish.  Either way I'm not buying oranges from there ever again.

Am I still that person?

Do people still see me that way?

I loved my job.  It was hard.  It was stressful.  I have learnt more about bodily functions than I ever wanted to know.  Frequent, close proximity to faecal matter was not in any job description I read.  Nor was being threatened with a fist full of it.  But it was rewarding and not to toot my own horn, I wasn't too shabby at it either.  For years I thought of myself as Michelle Neuropsych.  And now.... I realise that I'm not that person any more.  And perhaps more bizarrely, I really don't care.   

I know.  I'm rather surprised too.  I had a huge mental meltdown at leaving work.  It was bad enough when I had to take 4 months off to try and get my body back in line.  The word 'failure' figured strongly in my internal dialogue during those months.  When I finally had to admit defeat, as I saw it then, and tell my manager that I wasn't going to be coming back, well "Failure" was pretty much the only word in my head.  In fact, it had gone from a simple two-syllable word, to the Godzilla of words, thundering through my head, to the exclusion of everything else.  It came complete with tacky flashing Las Vegas lights and a crappy brass band to announce my failure to the world.

I'll admit it, I catastrophised.  The world had ended.  The stars were falling from the sky.  My failure was responsible for the hole in the ozone layer, global warming and Justin Beiber.  Even the demise of the Pollywoffle was directly related to my failure (RIP little marshmallow bar of goodness).  My life was over.  I had failed me.  I had failed Mr Grumpy.  I had failed the rug rats.  I had failed my family.  I had failed my friends.  I had even failed the slightly creepy guy who delivered our junk mail. (And I wonder where my youngest gets his drama queen genes from).

All of this was reinforced with the pity stares.  Or the "glass half full" platitudes that made me want to punch people.  For future information.  If someone has something shite happen in their life, be it health, be it death, be it life crap, don't break out into a rendition of Tomorrow, from Annie.  Yes the sun will come up tomorrow, you sanctimonious pratt, but I will also beat you to a bloody pulp with a copy of the soundtrack.  I know you mean well, but bite me.  (Hmmm I wonder if that fits with my CBT and rehab training?  I feel some of the polish may have faded from my technique).

Now, three years later I'm sitting in a room with my ex-work colleagues, a glass of bubbles, surrounded by Tupperware and giggling women telling bad jokes about 'tasty balls' and drooling over abs of steel, and I don't care.  I realise that I am finally 'meh' about my work situation.  Once upon a time I was that neuropsychologist.  Now I am..... well honestly I don't know who I am, and that's okay.

What defines me as a person?  What defines my worth?  It's certainly not some title that Microsoft refuses to acknowledge as a real word (I have clicked 'add to dictionary' 90 times you slow-witted program) and that you have to spend an hour explaining to people.  

I had an epiphany in between my glass of champers and the 17th spring roll of tastiness.  Labels simply aren't all that important anymore.

I could say I'm a mum.  It's true I am a mum.  But that doesn't actually explain who I am.  I am a wife.  Same deal.   I could say I am a sick person, but frankly that sucks and whilst I am sick it is no longer the focus of my life, unless necessary.   I am many things and not one label covers it all.  I am many things that change day-to-day and hour-to-hour.  My life is in a constant state of metamorphosis.  At this point I'm just riding the wave.

Each label comes with a set of rules and expectations.  Each label steals a little piece of possibility from my world.  If I am defined by one label how can I possibly experience new things?  Holding onto that 'neuropsychologist' label was limiting who I am and who I could be.  Holding onto something that was no longer a possibility was not going to help me, or anyone.  Somewhere between crying into my cornflakes and marvelling at the brilliance of shirtless men demonstrating Tupperware, I got over it.  I'm not sure how.  I'm not sure if there is a simple step by step process.  Maybe it was the Paula Abdul theory, "I take two steps forward.  I take two steps back".  Eventually the forward steps just got bigger and the backwards ones smaller.

Part of me is still that professional woman.  Hell, I can still recall the memory stories and word lists verbatim; my pin number not so much.  Part of how I relate to people and the world are linked to that woman and her label.  After years of working and studying in mental health, I've learnt to tolerate difference, even when it's scary or confronting.  I learnt to deal with fluid situations, to manage and sort through complexity.  To mediate and educate.  Those are all good things in that they contribute to who I am, but their source is not the defining factor. 

The one label I have given myself and fully embrace, is "Trophy Wife".  It's the one I crack out when I get asked what I do at parties.  Some labels are useful.  Especially for the confused and slightly nervous look on people's faces when they try to process what you've said. Okay maybe that only delights me.  But I'm okay with that. 

So thank you Tupperware party of epiphanies.  I will be forever grateful.  Oh and did I mention the guys were shirtless?

The Trophy Wife Michelle :)

For my mother and mother in law this is really what the party was like.  Complete with the surprise package to be unwrapped later in the night.

Whilst I was very impressed with my shirtless men selling Tupperware, I do think a drag queen singing about Tupperware to the tune of 9 to 5 could come a close second.

Tuesday 26 October 2010

Off To Meet WIth The Balloonman


My how time flies when you're not having fun.  Thursday is almost here, which also means it's almost time to meet with Balloonman (ie the Interventional Radiologist who'll be doing my angioplasty to reverse the CCSVI).  I'm sure I'm excited.  Really I am.  Don't look at me like that.  I'm telling you the truth.  I am.  I'm super excited about meeting the man who'll be sticking a wire in my leg and threading it up to the main drain for my brain, to blow up balloons.

It's not like I'm scared or anything.  You know me.  I laugh in the face of danger, HA HA.  Not scared.  Not me.  No.  It's a walk in the park.  He does it every day.  I know people who've had it done.  It's classed as a day procedure.  It's not like he could rupture Jeff or anything.  It's not like I'm having nightmares of an exploding Jeff.  No.  Not me.

It's not like I'm going all doom and gloom and thinking all the worst case scenarios (must put away Caplan's Stroke, 3rd Ed, damn neuropsychology training).  It's not like I've been thinking of the myriad ways that Bob could be an arse and be difficult during the procedure.  

As I said, that's just not me.

Happy place.

Happy place.

Happy place.

I have even found a picture of the balloon I think I should request.  What do you think?  I figure a unicorn has all the magic built it.  Nothing shaped like a glittery, rainbow farting, unicorn could do me wrong.

I've been told only good things about Balloonman, so I'm hoping that he'll be nice and I'll leave his office on Thursday fully convinced it's a walk in the park.  Or that I'll develop a serious case of fugue till it's all over and Jeff is banished.  Either way, I've told Mr Grumpy that if I forget, he is to demand drugs on my behalf.  I fully intend to sleep through the whole thing as I have absolutely no desire to know what they do. 

The completely calm and not panicking Michelle :) 

As a musical accompaniment how could I go past Nena's fabulous, 99 Luftballons (1984).  I know it's about 99 red balloons, but as my German is limited to the names of various pressed meats and Oktoberfest, I have no idea about the rest.  Still didn't stop me from rocking to it, and shouting out "99 Luftballons" at the top of my lungs, at the Bluelight Discos of my youth.

Friday 22 October 2010

Sunshine On My Shoulder Does Not Make Me Happy.

Well hello once again Spring, I see you're back from your short hiatus.  I did truly appreciate that on your days off you chose Winter as your locum.  Should you wish to go away again I would highly recommend getting Winter back to cover your absence.  He gave it his all, and even put on a little Winter Wonderland show for us, complete with snow.  I will have to admit I didn't miss you whilst you were on holidays.  I may have even had a little dance, complete with jazz hands, the first day you were away.  But now you're back, and it's ops normal.

The birds are singing.

The bees are buzzing.

The possums are fornicating like there is no tomorrow.

The blowflies (the traditional heralds of the Australian Spring) are flying drunkenly around.  Lulling me to sleep with the rhythmic pounding of their heads against the window panes.

The plants are growing.

The weeds are multiplying.

Pasty bodies, complete with muffin tops lovingly cultivated over the Winter, abound in the surrounding hills.

I'm KOed in bed.  A vomit bucket my only companion.  Taking pictures of my feet.

(Hello feet.  Hello candy striped pajamas. 
Hello dust and messy bedroom obscured by bad focus.)

My bp is yet to decide if it's up or it's down.  For a while there I thought it was heading South chasing those blessed Antarctic winds, but now it seems its heading North at a great rate of knots.  Oh wait. No. South it is. No North?  No South? North?  South? 

Given that Melbourne is famous for it's 'four seasons in one day', I'm hoping for a bumper snow season to hit about 5pm, to replace the current wilt-worthy 29C.

I did think it may be time to break out a DeLorean and go back to last weeks more pleasant climes.   I did also find out that other people (men) do not think it's funny when I asked a reader who lives near the DeLorean factory if the flux capacitor came as standard or was an optional extra (Note she found it funny.  Men!  And that includes you Mr Grumpy, I can also hear your eye roll from here).  Women clearly have a much better sense of humour.

I may or may not be going a little delirious from the heat/boredom/hypotension/nausea/.......

(Love my little Japanese fan. 
I'm pretty sure I'm know as the weird woman with the fan in my local area).

Not that I look like a nutter at all.

It's just that (as was pointed out by she who is the Queen of all things lady parts related, purveyor of topics requiring the liberal application of mental bleach, unicorn love, glitter and single handedly responsible for the resurgence in popularity of ukuleles, Elly Lou, over at BugginWord) I am in desperate need of a 'mental margarita'.

Off now to search for my mental pitcher, because one mental margarita may not be enough to get through today.

The Hot, Damn Hot, Michelle.

Frontier Psychiatrist, The Avalanches.

Wednesday 13 October 2010

Purple Misty Mountain Haze

Well my dance with FATigue continues this week.  So brace yourself for an underwhelming blog post  Damn Spring and it's fine sunny days.  You suck Spring.  You suck.  Mind you today's Spring day which is 13C of cool, grey, drizzly and fogged in (love living in the hills) is my kinda day.  Now if only I wasn't wiped out from the last two days, I'd be partying on down this fine misty day.

I do love where I live.  It's a truly beautiful part of Australia.  Who'd think we are already having our bushfire preparedness meetings. Yay.  Something to look forward to.

Just a couple of photos from today.

(The main road through the forest)

 (The forest at the end of my road)

(My road would look more lovely without the bins I forgot to take in.)

 (The view from my front door)

(This is my kind of Spring day)

I've been trying for ages to get a decent picture of my purple feet.  It's hard as usually, by the time they are bad I'm non compos mentis so grabbing the camera is not high on my 'To Do List'.  I think I finally managed an okay one this time.  This is after about 2mins with one foot up and one foot on the ground.

(Sexy? No?)

No one can ever accuse me of not having a colourful disorder.  My cardio always checks my feet when she comes out to get me in the waiting room.  I think they are nice and easy indicator on how my health is going.  Most days this is just my legs and lower arms.  On bad days this will pretty much be my colour from the neck down.  Dead sexy. 

(Just a hint of purple in my legs)

I mean there is a subtle hint of purple in my legs in my untouched Dorothy Shoes pics. Contrasts nicely with the red of the shoes don't you think?  Accessorizing is hard when you look like a giant aubergine.  Now if only I could get the eldest rugrat to follow me around with his airbrush as he did in the photos for the actual shoe post.

The purple bloating is something most Bobettes have to contend with.  Gravity is a tricky cow for our bodies.   I am getting better at ignoring it.  Its not going anywhere any time soon, so I might as well embrace it.  For the most part it's only when others point it out that I realise how bad it is.  I do know it's getting worse as my youngest rugrat now frequently offers to massage my legs.  He gets frustrated, as when he finishes one leg and moves onto the next the first one is already well on the way back to Zombieville.  But overall denial is a wonderful thing.  If I don't think about it doesn't exist right?

Well after that exciting post of nothingness it's time to go and prop my bloated purple feet up the closet wall and enjoy the misty day.

The foggy Michelle. 

I was going to add Prince's Purple Rain as my musical interlude as I do love Prince and rain and well purple is my colour, but apparently he's not keen on his vids being on Youtube.  So suck it Prince, you're a no go.  I'm going with the classic Purple Haze by Jimi Hendrix.

Monday 4 October 2010



Once upon a time I'd love to have a sleep in.  To wake up, look over at the clock and see that it was 1pm.  1pm!  Oh how decadent I felt.  Let them eat cake! (and preferably in bed).  To lie there in comfort, whilst the rest of the world went on, stuck in regimented adherence to every tick of the clock.  A joy.  A forbidden pleasure.  One all the sweeter for remembering how much you'd be yelled at for being lazy as a child if you slept past 10am.  Might as well have dessert before dinner or chocolate pudding for breakfast.  The halcyon days of adulthood and all it's glorious freedoms.

But now.


My bed and I are spending far to much time together.  And whilst there is quantity, the quality is missing.

Take away choice and the excitement fades.

Take away choice and the elicit pleasure of sleeping in on a workday becomes a chore.

Fatigue has bitten me on the arse these past few weeks and there are no signs that it is getting ready to leave.  It's not like I don't experience fatigue on a regular basis, because I do.  It's part and parcel of living with Bob.  The medical sites compare the quality of a Bobette's life with that of someone with congestive heart failure.  Yay!  Apparently it takes us three times the energy just to stand as a healthy person, so my baseline is pretty low to begin with.  But dammit, I am starting to think that I'm carrying not only my own unmanageable boxes of fatigue, but the boxes of everyone in the surrounding district.

I know the change in weather is partly to blame for my current bout of uberexhaustion.  Spring lulled me into a false sense of security.  I was enjoying the sunshine and the mild weather.  The new leaves slowly unfurling in the garden.  The randy birds fornicating left, right, and centre, in my backyard.  I actually sat out in my garden chair and caught a couple of rays.  But then those couple of pesky degrees were added to the weather.  It was a balmy 19C (66.2F for my international readers) yesterday and it sucked the wind right out of me.  I am lucky that I live in the hills surrounding the fair city of Melbourne as we are always 4 or 5 degrees cooler than the city.  But turning into a wet sock at 19C does not bode well for the Summer.  Me thinks my heat intolerance may be getting a wee bit worse.

Being sucker punched by fatigue makes life exhausting.

Walking to the loo = exhausting.

Having a shower = exhausting.

Getting dressed = exhausting.

Standing up to make my morning sanity coffee = exhausting.

Yelling at the kids = exhausting.

Lifting arms = exhausting.

Moving legs = exhausting.

Breathing = exhausting.

Fatigue sucks.

FATtigue.  It has the "fat" built right in and it's that damn artery clogging, heart attack causing, transfat.  Might as well chuck a blended BigMac in an IV and stick it straight in my arm, it could hardly slow me down any more than my current snail lifestyle.

I'm starting to think that the universe is sending me sarcastic messages.  Good old sent me "Indefatigable", as my word of the day.  Indefafrickentigable.  You've got to be kidding me?  Whilst fatigue may have the "fat" built in, definitely has the "dic' built in.

So back to bed I go.  Exhausted despite sleeping most of yesterday, and the day before, and the day before that.  No doubt I'll be exhausted when I wake up again.  Woo Hoo Spring. Woo fricken Hoo Summer to come. 

The yawning Michelle :)

Running up that Hill, Placebo (2003), because that's how I feel at the moment.   I'm old enough to remember when Kate Bush originally released this, and may have the cassette gathering dust somewhere, but I do love Placebo and the weirdly attractive Brian Moloko.

Monday 20 September 2010

Et tu, Jugular?

News Flash:  Michelle's body has another mutant part.

I know, I know.  It's not really a news flash.  I don't even know why I'm surprised.  Even an idiot could see it coming.  Well any idiot other than me, that is.  Now before any of you, my lovely readers, decides to jump to my defence with cries of, "But Michelle, you're a brilliant and gorgeous woman, with killer thighs" (which is quite sweet of you to say), even my cardio pointed out my ever increasing stupidity at our last appointment.  I'm even pretty sure I saw her doodling a bid dunce cap on my file as we spoke.  So really my misguided belief that I was due for a "normal" result is not that surprising.

September has been a time of enlightenment and discovery on the body front.  First my body added mutant boobs (boob saga available here and here) to my list.  For those of you who can't be bothered reading about my degenerate boobs (and frankly, why would you?), I have boob tissue growing where it should not grow.  This has given Mr Grumpy a new comedic outlet whereby he'll grab my knee or shoulder and start moaning "Ooooh.  Ahhhh.  Yeah baby.  Nice boobies".   He truly is a funny, funny man.  I guess they don't call them "fun bags" for nothing.  Now, I have another exciting bodily development.

As most of you will know I emerged the victor in my battle with the thumping tube of death a few weeks back.  I really should congratulate my opponent.  He never wavered for a minute of our 15 minute death match (think Thunderdome without the metal).  Despite his valient efforts to suffocate and crush me in his belly of doom, I emerged, battered and bruised, but still breathing.  At the time I had no answers.  Just a copy of the films to drive me slowly insane in the intervening weeks between scan and cardio appointment.

It turns out that my diagnosis of "that's some weird shit man", was actually correct.  I really do have some "weird shit" going on.  My left jugular is a mutant; twisted, with multiple stenoses and weird engorged bits hanging off the side going nowhere.  My right is "relatively better".  Which is a bit like saying losing a finger  is "relatively better" than losing a thumb; not all that encouraging and definitely not a reason for celebration.  I mean, I loved The Fly, but no one really wants a mutant Jeff Goldblum living in their neck.  I have however, decided that my left jugular shall forever be known as "Jeff".

(Actually, a naked, pre-splicing with a fly, Jeff Goldblum, is rather disturbing too, The Fly 1986)

(Meet "Jeff")

So what does all this mean?  In simplest terms, the drainage system from my brain is blocked and I need Roto-Rooter to come and sort it out.  Maybe I can get the Roto- Rooter guys from Ghost Hunters to deal with it, that would be rather cool.  Brain drainage and any errant poltergeists, dealt with in one quick visit.  In all seriousness, having my brain sit in a cesspool of manky used blood surely can't be a good thing.  It makes me wonder how much it's contributing to my Bob symptoms.

The only feasible way to try and sort this out is to have a long wire shoved up my leg and threaded up to Jeff and then have a balloon angioplasty to try and open him up again.  I wonder if you can request balloon animals?  I like the idea of Jeff being opened up by a balloon in the shape of a sausage dog, or maybe a giraffe. Here's hoping the doc's at least as talented as those guys who make the balloon animals at kids parties.

The strangest part about all this, is that for years I've had knife-like pains in the left side of my neck (and to a much lesser extent my right), that involved my jaw and ear.  I never really thought much of it, as it was just another pain in the big scheme of things.  Now I find out that this pain is connected with jugular stenosis.  My migraines are also primarily on the left and for many years I have had unexplained piercing ear pain on that side.  So I'm hoping that all of that may resolve, or at least improve, when I get the balloon animal of my choice, in my neck.

I should probably take a step back to explain why I even made the masochistic choice to jump in a dreaded MRI and look at this in the first place.  It all began in my doctors office many moons ago.

At my last appointment my cardio told me in no uncertain terms that there was nothing more she could offer me to combat Bob.  She also added that if I had any ideas, she would be happy to support me.  Luckily she has proven true to her word and given my non-existent choices and progression, is happy to think outside of the box.  So up popped the completely out of left field idea of Chronic Cerebrospinal Venous Insufficiency, or CCSVI.  "What is CCSVI?" I hear you ask. In simplest terms it's where the venous drainage system from the brain and spine are impaired.  This can lead to a number of symptoms, including fatigue, brain fog and heat intolerance (can you guess why I was interested?). 

Currently this is being investigated primarily in MS patients, although more recent studies have shown it to be present in a number of other neurological conditions eg, MND and Parkinson's, and it is being posited as one of the possible causes for indefinable symptoms such as fatigue.  Although, it's still in it's infancy (I could go into the current debate, but the links below explain it much better), there is now enough evidence, that investigation and treatment is now being offered in a number of countries, including Australia.

The clincher for me was when my best friend, who has MS, had the investigations and was found to have stenosis in both jugulars.  Following treatment she had a significant improvement in a number of her symptoms (including fatigue and brain fog) and was visibly 'well' for want of a better term. 

Since then there have been a steadily increasing number of clinical reports and personal accounts of improvements following treatment for CCSVI.  Notably, the interventional radiologist (who is the Director of Radiology at one of Australia's top hospitals, so has some serious credibility) who will be doing my procedure reports that even those patients with no other significant illness who have jugular stenoses repaired, have significant improvements in attention and concentration and fatigue levels.  I'd be pretty happy with that at this point. 

Whilst my dance with the thumping tube of death was unpleasant to say the least, it has at least provided me with some useful information and potentially a chance to alleviate some of my symptoms.  My cardio is also sending me off for a doppler ultrasound of my legs to see if I have similar mutant vessels that may explain why my pooling is so severe.  Who knows, for the first time in nearly five years I may actually be able to have some relief from the day to day drudgery of Bob.

I'm not getting my hopes up yet.  To many times I have been told that a pill or procedure would help, only to be sorely disappointed.  So I'll go in with an open mind and just see what happens.  The scientist in me knows that without objective data it would be easy to say any improvements are due to a placebo effect, so I am going to contact my physio to do some basic tests pre and post angioplasty.  In many ways it's more for me than anyone else.   I want to know that any improvement I am experiencing is 'real' and not just in my deluded head.

I will admit to a few butterflies about the whole process.  Fiddling with the main drains from my brain was not something I had on my Bucket List.   But I figure if I have even a 10% improvement in my fatigue or brain fog, that's worth it at this point.  Besides if I can conquer the thumping tube of death, a balloon in a mutant vein will be a stroll in the park.

For those who are interested:
  • Here's a video from earlier this year about CCSVI & MS.
  • This is the Australian Facebook site with links to other sites around the world including Canada, the US and UK.
Michelle & Jeff :)

Really there is no appropriate musical accompaniment to having a mutant Jeff Goldblum in your neck.   Although I was tempted to add Falling to Pieces, by Faith No More (so apt in so many ways), I decided to go with Remedy, by The Black Crows as that is what I need most at the moment.

Tuesday 14 September 2010

"Where am I going?", "Where have I been?", "What am I doing here?", and "Where are the damn brownies?"

For some stupid reason I have been trying to work through the big questions of life.  Obviously masochism is the order of the day.  After many, many hours of cogitation, broken only by episodes of Judge Judy and Australia's Next Top Model, I find I am still without answers, and have a strange hankering for all things potato related.  Well, and bacon related, but that's not surprising with bacon being the food of the gods and all.  Mmmmm potato and bacon, now there's a heavenly combination, sure to cure all the ills of the world.  Where was I?  Oh yes, big questions.  Please play appropriate elevator tunes as I quickly wipe the drool from my chin.  (I'm a bit of a traditionalist and think that you can't go past Greensleeves for elevator music, but hey if you're more an Insane Clown Posse type of reader, go for it.  I wont judge.  However, I should warn you that if you insist on playing Ke$ha or Justin Bieber in your head, I will not only judge you, but your piece of toast will forever fall butter side down on the floor.  Sorry, but karma is very strict on these things).

Okay, still here?  Big questions, big questions? So far '42' still seems to best answer. Not that it really helps much.  Though 42 margaritas or 42 boxes of Green & Blacks, may make the whole uncertainty of life bearable.  So I've decided to go back to the beginning.  What the hell was that first post about?  Have a I learnt anything?  Am I still sitting in the same place with a steady pile of cobwebs forming over my head?  Do I still look like a loon?  Do I wish I didn't have such verbal diarrhoea?  Should I suggest the ingestion of a box of Imodium before reading? 

Who knows.  Well here it is.  Make of it what you will. 

PS.  I'm pretty sure that those who make it through to the end will be given a box full of warm puppies to tickle, foot massages, and butterflies on your pillow.  Well that or a big warm cyber hug from me.

My life with Bob: The ravings of one slightly deranged woman in her mid-thirties living with chronic illness—composed over several long months. July 2009.

Warning: May contain some "course" language if offended close your eyes or replace offending words with puppies, kittens, rainbows or lolly pops. May offend some Oprah fans but I do actually like her it was just one of those days, weeks, months well lets face it years.

This was written pre-blog when I just needed to get it all out.

PS: This one is rather long you may want to get comfy.

Fuck it. Fuck. Fuck. Fuck. Fuck it. Apologies to my mother (and mother-in-law), but this is the mantra of a shitty woman with a chronic illness. I’m sitting here on the couch with Oprah on the TV contemplating what my life has become. You know something’s not right when you’re having a “light bulb moment” and begin to think Dr Oz is the George Clooney of midday television. This is not what I thought I’d be doing at 35. I feel like I should be standing in front of a support group saying “Hi my name’s Michelle and I’m addicted to crappy daytime television”. Here I am a wife and mother of two not able to work despite years of study; not able to drive for more than 15 minutes; not able to travel for holidays; not able to attend my kids’ footy games; not able to be the me I’m supposed to be. The Michelle I was has been misplaced, stolen, lost; she’s in hiding somewhere with the elusive weapons of mass destruction. The one who sits here now is an imposter, one of the pod people come to life. I’m waiting for the epiphany, to find the inner beauty and “the gift” that all Oprah’s guests seem to have when they experience a horrific accident or terminal diagnosis. If these people can do it why can‘t I? No pressure right? Thanks Oprah for making me feel inadequate compared to these smiling, ecstatic people. I like to think that behind the scenes they are as angry and pissed off as me and what you see on the screen is really a combination of Prozac and tequila shots. Admittedly, I am coming to terms with this new alternative me, but it’s a slow process and I’m buggered if I’m going to smile happily and pretend it’s all shiny, shiny, shiny. There that’s my bitch for the day. Five minutes of woe is me between the loads of washing and when the kids come home from school.

It doesn’t matter what your poison is if you have a chronic illness and are in your mid-thirties you know how much life can suck. My joy is dysautonomia, otherwise known as that bastard vague syndrome which is hard to understand, even harder to explain and craps on your life or, as I now like to refer to it, Bob. Bob is like a crappy boyfriend. He turns up only when it’s convenient for him, forgets your birthday, buys “you” an x-box when you really want a bottle of Chanel no. 5, and takes you to Wolf Creek for your anniversary when you wanted to see Atonement. He’s the guy you’re embarrassed to introduce to your family and friends. The one you just want to forget but who you keep running into when you’re out on the town.

With Bob and all his like minded mates it’s a choice between tears and hysterical laughter, and I’m all for the hysterical laughter. I think when you have your dietician appointment lying on your back with your legs in the air so you don’t pass out, insane laughter does seem the best option. Life with Bob can be quite disheartening otherwise. Even when you’re doing all the “right” things you are constantly slapped in the face with the fact that you are ill and that you’re not like everyone else. Having worked in rehab I thought I knew it all but then you walk in the gym and notice you’re the only one there who wasn’t born during the Great Depression. You might as well have a flashing neon sign over you head saying “FREAK” in ten metre high letters. You suddenly realise how hollow all the words were when you told patients to think positive and remain motivated. Positive my arse! I’ll tell you about positive. Discussions about music or the latest celebrity news or where to eat are replaced by riveting discussions about support hose and bowls. I used to give in-services on determining cognitive capacity and write rehab protocols! This is when you come to the realisation that you’re one blue rinse and a hip replacement away from turning into an 80-year-old woman! It times like these when I feel it should be compulsory for physios to put Monty Python’s “Always look on the bright side of life” on loop for the whole gym session, or at least serve vodka jelly shots.

Logically I know it’s not the hospital’s fault or even the doctors’ or therapists that there is nowhere for patients in their mid-thirties. Support groups and rehab programs are for teenagers or the elderly, apparently no one gets sick or injured in between. There must be something really wrong with me to be so ill and incapacitated at this age. Traditional support groups don’t really work for my age group anyway. Who has time to sit around in a circle discussing their problems and singing kumbaya? I may be tarred and feathered by my psychologist peers, but this approach won’t get me through the next school concert or help me work out a plan to get to and survive the Myer sales without having to lie down next to rack of Wayne Cooper dresses. Even when trying to find information about Bob the majority of information is for teenagers and frankly tips about structuring my school day aren’t that helpful when trying to run a household, organise kids, be a wife and not pass out. Thank God for the yellow wiggle, aka Greg Page. When he came out at least people realised Bob was a legitimate, serious, life changing illness. I never thought I’d buy a copy of Woman’s Day in my life but thanks to his article I can now hand people a copy to read and I can sum Bob up with one line, “I have YWS (sounds exotic right?) aka Yellow Wiggle Syndrome”. It’s a sad indictment on society that we need a sick celebrity to legitimise what we are going through. I wonder, if Angelina Jolie came out to say she suffered PMS from hell would the world look kinder on we average woman and our monthly need to binge on chocolate, whilst sitting with hot packs on our stomachs, crying at the fluffy bunny story at the end of the news, then irrationally ripping off our husbands’ or boyfriends’ heads.

Life with Bob has been a roller coaster ride. Two years ago when I first got ill I had no idea what was wrong all I knew was that I felt and looked like death warmed up. Christmas 2006 was the turning point. I’d been ill a couple of times earlier in the year and never quite felt like I ever got back to where I had been before. Then kaboom!!! My life went into free fall. All of a sudden I was weak, fatigued, permanently nauseous, sweating like there’s no tomorrow, shaking, uncoordinated, feeling like I was about to pass out and on the really crappy days throwing up or actually passing out. Even thinking was hard. One of the biggest problems with Bob is that it is a relatively rare and unknown syndrome that can mimic a number of other disorders. Depending on who your doctor is you may be diagnosed sooner rather than later but it really is potluck. Even supposed specialists either had no idea, told me it was all in my head or that there was no hope. I think my favourite (insert large amounts of sarcasm here) specialist was the one who told me that it was all in my head. The one comment that sticks in my mind is “when a woman your age comes in with these symptoms it’s always in your head”, who says doctors lack bedside manner? With that he sent me out the door, diagnosis of “stupid, emotional woman” stapled to my forehead. I don’t think I’ve ever been so upset, insulted and incredibly angry all at one time. I couldn’t even speak when I left and I just cried for hours. The reality is as a woman you know your body and you know when something is wrong. Coming from a psychology background I was well aware of how thoughts and emotions can affect physical health, and it was a shock to meet a supposed specialist who could twist it so appallingly and was unable to understand that maybe I was so upset and stressed because I was so physically ill. Perhaps the one good thing about being 35 and educated was that I was unwilling to accept what this archaic and chauvinistic pig of a man said and sought out a second and eventually third opinion.

Among Bob’s many charming features is testing overload. I think I’ve had just about every test known to man over the past two years. I’ve been poked and prodded, scanned and measured to the nth degree. I honestly think I have given my weight in blood over this period. Dignity is rather hard to find when you’re strapped up like Hannibal Lector trying not to throw up on the doctor whilst passing out. When it comes to Bob the tests can get scary especially when you keep trialling drugs and lifestyle changes and nothing works, this is when the panic begins to set in. In many ways Bob is a diagnosis of exclusion, both medically and socially. The basic blood pressure and fainting issues are there but they can be caused by so many things. It doesn’t help that I had worked in a neurology setting. I had already had a number of sleepless nights wondering about possible diagnoses but had never had the guts to say them out loud. When my cardiologist mentioned the dreaded words “it could be MS or a tumour” followed by a number of other possible nasties I missed everything else she said in the appointment. Thankfully it wasn’t any of the real nasties but it was a horrible couple of months to find out. The fear I felt prior to and after the MRI was incredible. Despite my fears it was very routine for the neurologist and she was rather blasé about the whole thing—almost dismissive. I was sitting in her office with my incredible husband holding my hand, trying not to throw up with dread and she just said nope not MS, no tumour, no….., and started a voice recording of her letter back to my cardiologist. It was strange to feel so relieved and so let down at the same time.

How do you explain to someone that not getting a serious or life-threatening diagnosis is disappointing? After months of living with uncertainty and the fear and the doubt it generates, you start to long for a concrete diagnosis no matter what it is. How do you plan your life or explain your illness when it is this shadow being that can’t be measured or understood. I’m a rather practical kind of person. If I know what it is I can educate myself, I can plan my life; I can do what needs to be done. I can be legitimately ill. Even all these months later having a diagnosis (although still no concrete cause to treat) I still have that bastard’s comment sitting, stewing in the back of my thoughts, “it’s all in your head [you loser]”. I often wonder if he realised how soul destroying such a comment can be especially when you have such a complicated and unknown condition. Even if I had been suffering from Depression such a cold and callous attitude could hardly have been considered therapeutic. I always thought that part of the Hippocratic oath was “first do no harm”. All I can say to him is karma’s a bitch buddy.

Uncertainty is bad enough for me but it seems to be excruciating for everyone else. All your friends and family want to know what’s wrong and when you are going to get better. Even relative strangers want to know or to give you “helpful” advice on what is wrong with you and what you should be doing. When the uncertainty persists for any length of time fatigue sets in, not for you but for all the bystanders. Apparently you aren’t meeting their ideas of legitimate sickness. They begin to look at you as if you’ve just admitted that you sacrifice small furry animals to Beelzebub in your spare time. “What, you’re still ill? Why aren’t you better? Why don’t you know? Surely the doctors must know something? Can’t you see someone else? What’s wrong with you?” Friends and family start to drift away. Weekly visits or phone calls become fortnightly, then monthly and then it becomes months (if you’re lucky) between contacts. They are happy to be supportive initially but then it becomes tiresome. Their lives are busy. You and your weird arse, all in your head “illness” are just too much work. You aren’t the person they knew, the person you’re expected to be. Admittedly, hanging out with me and Bob is not exactly a laugh a minute and frankly it can be hard work, but you expect more from the people you once held dearest. Only the strong and true are willing to put in the hard yards to stay in your life. These people are like gold and should be cloned and bottled to be given to every person with a Bob in their life.

In general, your relationship with Bob makes you a social pariah. Bob is a cantankerous soul. He stops you from participating in life. You can’t go to the movies, you can’t go late night shopping, and you can’t spontaneously stop in for coffee or go out for dinner. Even talking can be difficult when your blood pressure is so low you can’t find the right words or slur so much you sound like you’ve just finished a bottle of Smirnoff. Stringing a simple sentence together becomes akin to creating peace in the Middle East. You can’t even follow a fluffy conversation about Britney Spears and her fondness for going commando.

You get to the point where you have to create what I call your “pretty sick” face to survive. This is the face you develop to reassure all the other people in your life that you’re ok and therefore they are ok. This is the Disney or Oprah version of illness. It’s when you pile on the spack filler to cover the dark circles and pasty skin. Put on nice clothes and push yourself to the point of exhaustion to alleviate the fears of others. You do your hair, put on your lipstick and smile like one of Oprah’s orgasmically cheerful, yet tragic guests and say “I’m so happy, this bitch of an illness has allowed me to find my authentic self”. If, God forbid, someone should see you in the depths of misery because you can’t get out of bed and can’t hold a glass of water, then you are forced to spend what little energy you have reassuring them you are ok and that you are sorry for making them worry. The energy required to reassure others is more exhausting than words can describe.

There is an unspoken pressure to be the poster child of “pretty sick”, heroically defeating your illness with a smile and wink, whilst jogging for a cure, attending charity balls, balancing your home life like the Cleavers, and being a role model to which all other sick people should aspire. Once you do this you need never reassure anyone about how “well” you are. Simple. Right? Whilst I understand that family and friends worry because they care, I really don’t have the energy to hold their hand throughout. Sometimes you just want to be selfish and say, “Let me cry, yell, swear or jump up and down. Let me wallow in the misery of my life for one day. Sit there quietly and just let me be”. Sometimes all you want is silence to vent and someone to give you a silent hug either figuratively or literally. I don’t want suggestions, I don’t want to hear how you wish you could help, and I don’t want to hear how this is impacting on you. I can’t look after you when I’m barely looking after myself. Just take responsibility to take care of you and let me concentrate on me. This is one of the times I am so grateful to have my incredible husband and kids in my life. Out of everyone they are the ones who truly let me be me. They accept me pasty face, purple feet and all. If I’m so sick I’m lying on the floor with my feet up on the couch they simply walk around me or ask if I want a drink. They accept that I can’t always do what I used to do, that I am often vague and weak and can’t always attend different functions. They let me be sick without any fanfare or stress. That is truly precious!

My husband David used to affectionately call me “Big Brain” and I’ll admit to a certain secret smugness about my level of intelligence in the past. Well didn’t that come back and bite me. Words were my life. I even won an international prize for a conference presentation. Now I have days where I sound like I’ve been smoking pot for the last 10 years. I look in the mirror and think who the hell is this pasty faced, fog brained woman looking back. Bob is obliging one day and stubborn and narky the next and some days if you’re really lucky, it’s an hour to hour crapfest. Normal is not a word to be associated with Bob. Basically Bob is a Bitch.

Where once my bag contained perfume, Myers catalogues and articles on the differential diagnosis of various dementias, I now carry a bottle of salt, a puke bag and contact details for various specialists. I wear granny pressure stockings and shorts in the middle of winter. I live in air conditioning, as I wilt when the temperature even approaches a balmy 20ºC and put ice packs on my neck at physio. I drink litres of water each day and chug salt. Living with Bob is not glamorous. Your mother’s advice to make sure you wear fresh underwear takes on a whole new meaning when you have to consider whether the checkout chick at the supermarket may get an eye full if you unexpectedly go arse up. There’s nothing quite so uplifting as having your son say “hey mum you have grandpa feet” when he spies my swollen purple feet under the bench. Perhaps most cruelly of all, having Bob in my life I’m supposed to avoid alcohol (although sometimes the repercussions are just worth it). What sick bastard created such a crappy, life altering disorder that also won’t let me have a glass of Sauvignon Blanc to make it all bearable? As I said Bob’s a bitch.

Every woman has a close personal relationship with guilt. If you’ve popped out one or more rug rats then you truly know what I’m talking about. Guilt is one of the unglamorous side-effects of pregnancy, like the haemorrhoids and excessive flatulence that our mothers never warned us about. When your milk comes in you get a simultaneous lifetime supply of guilt to boot; would you like fries with that? You beat yourself up constantly for all your failings as a mother. We all compare ourselves to little Johnny’s mum. You know her. That woman with perfect hair and coordinated outfit, who attends all the excursions, bakes cookies for class, iron’s little Johnny’s uniform perfectly, makes the perfect nutritional lunch and is a clone for Mrs Brady. God how we hate her! However, introduce her to Bob or one of his mates and little Johnny will be rocking up (late of course) in yesterdays grotty jumper and unmatched socks, with a jam sandwich and piece of plastic cheese in his lunch box. Bob adds a whole new level of guilt to motherhood. Having Bob in your life means that you simply can’t attend every performance or sporting match; that you forget to hand in the excursion notes or to wash the uniforms. It means you can’t drive your child to a play at a friend’s house or take them to the show. This is when guilt goes into overload. You don’t need anyone else to tell you should feel guilty you “know” you are the world’s worst mother. I truly realised the impact Bob was having on my and my family’s life a few months after he started hanging around. My eldest had just started high school and we had an information night. We got as far as the end of our road and I had to pull over I was shaking so much and could barely focus on the road. We sat on the side of the road for 30 minutes with my head between my legs until we could drive back home. It was the start of the kids missing out. They have put up with a lot over the past two years. It scared the hell out of them and I was too ill to either fully realise or comfort them. It was only a few months ago my youngest could finally tell me that he had thought I was going to die. It felt like someone had reached in, ripped my heart from my chest, threw it on the ground and stomped it into oblivion. I just wanted to reach out and wrap him in my arms and never let go. A ten-year-old (or as he was then, eight) should never have to deal with such adult issues, the guilt was and is overwhelming for putting him in this position. Even my stoic eldest was suffering in silence; he just didn’t want to worry me. A 14-year-old shouldn’t be worried about whether or not his mum will be able to drive home safely from his bus stop. He should be thinking about girls and friends and being a normal obnoxious, self-absorbed teenager. You don’t choose to have Bob in your life but you beat yourself up every day for the burden you are placing on your family since he came to stay.

The second layer of guilt revolves around being a wife. I could never have survived the past couple of years without the support of my husband. As cliché as it sounds, he really has been my rock. It’s hardly been all beer and skittles since Bob came to stay. I know he gets frustrated but for the most part he doesn’t say much. Bob has changed who I was. Previously I was independent, enthusiastic and enjoyed going out. I could balance work, study, kids, husband and home whilst meeting a girlfriend for fizzy coffee on a Wednesday. Now he has to take time off to drive me to appointments and our social life is a distant memory. Sadly, even our parents have more exciting social lives. He’s had to take on more of the afterschool and weekend activities. He gave up a job he loved and took on one that crushes him a little bit more each day to be home and able to help out more. The start of this year I had to give up work which means we are now on one wage. One-on-one time is limited because I’m always so exhausted. I feel like the world’s crappiest wife. I feel like a failure. I’m so not holding up my end of the bargain. I know we vowed for better or worse but bloody hell a little bit of better sometime soon would be nice. I’m sure he thinks he got the booby prize. Despite all this he’s always there when I need him. How many guys would quietly and without fan fare put on thermal underwear and a jumper so as not freeze whilst I sit under the air conditioner, in winter? He accepts that Bob has made me a freak. When I’m lying on the couch trying not pass out he quietly comes lifts up my legs and sits on the couch next to me or unobtrusively holds me up so I can stand at my auntie’s funeral. Who would drop everything and drive two hours to come home, because his wife is crying on the phone barely able to get up off the bathroom floor? In some ways it would be easier if he yelled and got angry at me at least it might lessen the guilt. I love the fact he pays me out for my brain fog and accepts that I may need to stop in the middle of the shops and put my head between my legs in full view of all the other shoppers. I love the fact that he doesn’t treat me like a sick person; he sees there’s more to me than Bob.

Anyone with a Bob in their life knows what its like to lose their identity. Suddenly you become the sick person. Suddenly you become Bob. My husband and kids are the only ones who really seem to see beyond Bob. Family and friends no longer ask you what you’ve been up to. They ask about Bob. Every encounter begins with comments on how you look. “Gee you look pasty today”. “Gee you don’t look so pasty today”. Everyone seems to be on the look out for signs of illness so they can tell you about it. It’s as if they think you don’t actually realise you’re sick so they see it as their civic duty to tell you. Do they really think I have no mirrors in the house or that I seriously think I look like Heidi Klum today? Maybe they think you are trying to replace heroin chic for pasty chic? It’s easy to get sucked into the Bob conspiracy. You get so involved trying to find out information. Your life revolves around medical appointments, tests and drugs. With Bob you have to watch what you eat and drink, you have to watch your fatigue levels, the temperature, make sure you do exercise but not too much, you have to organise and plan and hope that Bob gets in line with the program. Basically Bob becomes the centre of your universe by necessity. Trying to maintain even the tinniest sliver of you is bloody hard. For me I hate being a patient. I know no one likes it, but I truly detest and resent Bob for making me a patient. I’ve always been on the other side of the desk and frankly I was happy there. Being a patient is disempowering, choice is no longer a word that belongs to you. Other people are making all the decisions and when you run into a delight like my chauvinistic bastard you just want to scream. Even having worked in the health system I had no idea about Bob. You trust that the person on the other side of the desk knows what they are talking about and actually cares more about your wellbeing than paying for their golf fees. You need to get to a point where you shout “NO MORE” and take back your control. This is how I got to my current cardiologist. Anger is healthy when it gets you the care you need. She was the first out of numerous doctors to actually ask me how I was coping with the kids and being sick. I nearly jumped across the desk and hugged her (well maybe dragged my sorry body out of the chair and slowly stumbled over and collapsed on her with happy exhaustion). She was the first to see there was more to me than Bob and that Bob was a legitimate illness. If nothing else, that made me feel better than I had in months.

Maintaining you is hard when Bob is in your life. For the most part you can be ill in private but every now and then Bob raises his ugly head in public. I dread these moments. When you’re trying not to throw up or pass out in the local ice cream shop the last thing you need is a gaggle of people asking you if you’re ok. Of course I’m not ok! I’m pasty and sweaty, my head is between my legs and my face is an inch away from an old bandaid, a piece of used chewing gum and a decidedly iffy short curly black hair. I’m using every ounce of concentration not to throw up on your shoes so don’t ask me questions or you’ll wear it. I live in a relatively small community and privacy is a rare privilege. Everyone soon knows you as that weird, pasty, angry woman from the ice cream shop who nearly threw up on their shoes. You have become Bob. Well meaning family and friends begin to treat you like an invalid. I have a message for everyone. I do not need to be followed and watched. I don’t need to sit in a special chair. I don’t need to be asked if I am alright every 3 seconds! This in and of itself is disempowering and may result in me beating you to a bloody pulp with the special chair.

I am in constant conflict with Bob to remain independent and damn it I refuse to let the bastard win. (Crap, I’m starting to sound like one of Oprah’s guests. I’m going to have to change channels and start watching other quality daytime programming such as Days of Our Lives or Wife Swap). Independence when you have a Bob in your life is not the same as independence pre-Bob. Independence now is being able to do the grocery shopping by myself without having to sit on one of those grotty stacking stools half way through or leave my full trolley in the isle. Independence is making dinner even if you have to sit on a chair in front of the stove. Independence is 10 minutes in the garden weeding whilst sitting on a step. You need to grasp these events and hold on for grim death. So don’t be surprised if I bite your head off when you tell me to “sit down and you’ll do it”. Some days it’s worth pushing yourself to exhaustion just to complete a job even if you have to spend the next two days flat on your back. Finishing that section of garden bed (even if it grows over with weeds over the next two months) is worth it to feel normal. Rationality does not come into play here.

Old Michelle is still missing in action, although small parts are starting to re-emerge. Weirdly little bits of the pre-study/work/kids me are also starting to come back. I’ve always loved to read especially the classics but work and family commitments left little time for reading for fun. Recently I’ve started reading again. It’s a slowwww process with a fogged brain but I’ve managed to get through Anna Karenina and Crime and Punishment. Have started War and Peace which may verge on stupidity, as at this rate I may be 80 by the time I finish. I have always loved cooking and this is one of the few things I can still do. My family is used to trying weird and wonderful concoctions. My new drugs have stopped my shaking for the most part so at least using my butcher’s knife is no longer like playing Russian roulette with my fingers. Small scale gardening has also become possible. Whilst before I would be mowing and chopping and planting, now I’m stoked when my herbs grow in the pots outside my back door. I’ve even started drawing and painting again; it may be closer to pre-school finger painting than a Rembrandt but no one else needs to see it.

I was shattered when I had to finish work. I put off calling my manager for weeks while on LWOP because I was so upset and I knew that once the words were out I couldn’t take them back. I cried and swore. I cursed Bob with every name under the sun. It was the last straw. I never thought I’d get over it but on my good days I hardly think about it any more. Financially the guilt is there in spades but the work itself is no longer in my everyday thoughts. Who I thought I was and who I am now are very different people. I think I’m still in mourning for my picture of me and what I thought I wanted. There are many stages to grief and there is no clear process or time line. It’s not like “Step 1 feel sad, Step 2 feel angry…….Step 10 closure”. It’s sad, then angry, then numb, then angry again then, pissed off, then accepting, then sad, then angry….and so on. Just when you think things are starting to balance out, Bob steps up with a sucker punch. Hence my philosophy of hysterical laughter. When you have a crap day you need to find something to laugh about (especially when a glass of wine is not an option). As a wife and mother it is not practical to pick up the kids looking and acting like an extra from One Flew over the Cuckoo’s Nest. I have a penchant for Monty Python. You can’t watch The Life of Brian or The Holy Grail and not laugh at the absurdity of it. Alternatively, as any woman with a pulse knows, any movie with Johnny Depp has remarkable healing powers. The other thing that has made Bob bearable is that we recently adopted a dog. He is the best, if rather smelly, medicine. When I’m sad or sick he comes and sits next to me. He’ll put a paw on my arm or put his head on my lap or next to my head. He seems to know when you need that extra bit of love. You can whinge to him to your hearts content and he just sits there and listens. Being a puppy he too is mildly insane and that ensures laughter at least once a day. Every person with a Bob in their life should have a dog.

During my two years with Bob I’ve thrown up in the shower, cried at physio, the doctor’s and at work, and had to lie down in the back of my car on the side of the road. I’ve had to lie down on the floor of my office with my feet up in the air (wearing a skirt, classy!) and had my legs go out in the middle of the shopping centre. I’ve had to take spare clothing to work due to the very lady like sweating and chugged salt during a school concert. I’ve sucked as a mum and a wife. This is Bob in all his glory. I am still hopeful that somewhere in a galaxy, far, far away that my cardiologist will have an epiphany or someone will develop a drug and I can put a hit out on Bob. In the meantime I’m going to revel in being one of those bitter, pasty, insane, “ugly sick” people that will never be invited on to Oprah. Although, if she is offering free tequila shots in the green room……..

Hope it wasn't too painful.
Michelle :)