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.