29th of December, 8.09am
Its my 35th birthday. I woke up early and a voice kept urging me to write. I call that voice my voice of divinity and maturity. So here I am.
I promised to fill you in on whats been going on. It’s not going to be a pretty post, although it isn’t all gloomy. Lets move chronologically, shall we? This will chart my personal life instead of the professional. The latter I will leave for an upcoming post, after the super duper belated blog anniversary post 🙂
This I recall speaking of so I will keep it concise. I was in a bad place emotionally, like my heart was giving way. And my lungs couldn’t cope as a result, as if my entire system was in fight or flight mode. So one very early morning, I found myself rushed to the hospital for a stubborn asthma attack. I had undergone the whole nebuliser shebang a day ago, but I was in much more physical pain and distress than usual. I recall sobbing while breathing raggedly on my way to the hospital, afraid and feeling miserable. My ribcage was inflamed, I was administered the nebuliser 4 times and it took me a month to breathe easy again. After that scare, I threw myself into work and put my sadness on hold. I needed the distractions to keep myself going.
I was approached by Cleo magazine Singapore to pen an article regarding feeling bikini ready as a plus size woman, and roped in two of my body positive friends in the region – Rani and Ratna – who co-own The Curve Cult, a plus size clothing store located in Far East Plaza. We had such a blast! Getting dolled up, posing with glee, feeling amazing after the photoshoot. We felt a mix of excitement and apprehension for the reception our images and article would receive. Personally, I was in a good place feeling the positivity of the girls and the hope that we would be contributing to something special for our folks who needed a push towards feeling body beautiful, swimsuit/bikini beautiful.
When the article hit the newsstands, we were finally allowed to share our excitement across social media and post our behind-the-scenes shots along with links to the article itself. We were realistic about expecting a backlash from trolls, but we weren’t prepared for the massive backlash And support. If you backtrack to that period in the blog, I divulge all details about that period – the media circus, the mayhem and the immense outpour of solidarity.
It was astounding to receive a worldwide response from calling out Instagram for not being upfront about their trigger-happy fat shaming population and their lack of consideration for fat folks’ experience on Instagram as a result of the deletion of our posts due to violations we did not commit. And this applies to Facebook just as much. Lets not forget Twitter too…Le sigh. The media coverage, the comments, the blocking of horrid fat shamers and fat fetishists took a toll on us three. I reckon that whole celebratory feeling after the article was published? That feeling lasted for One day. My inboxes across social media were filled to the brim with accusatory, hateful, supportive messages. It took me three months after the publication of the June Cleo mag edition to really notice that FINALLY, the attention was manageable and not wrecking my sleep or anxiety.
See the thing about me is, although I enjoy blogging – I will never get used to being the centre of attention. While I find myself placed in platforms where I lead, I much prefer being a collaborator, co-worker and part of the collective voice than being presented to the frontline. I have a lot to say and much more to get done, I am no one-trick pony. Being a fat body positive advocate is one facet of Curves Become Her. While I have not yet posted as often about the other intersections I am a proud part of, they will be brought to your attention as 2017 unravels.
The first half of 2016 took a great toll on me. While I pushed on with work and maintaining a clearer set of lungs, it was work on autopilot.
Sometime in July, our 9 year old Yorkshire-Terrier Dash simply stopped being able to move one day. That first vet visit was a shock to us when we were told he was probably paralysed for good. We were in unchartered waters, absolutely gobsmacked. My Facebook Hive mind came to my rescue – Francesca, Brittany, Courtney – they helped me find answers and get a second opinion. I put my writing on hold, dedicating myself to keeping an eye on Dash. He needed help expressing his bladder, he refused to eat or drink so he was syringe-fed twice daily, he needed to be moved several times a day to avoid getting sores. He was on strict bed rest but there is a reason he is named Dash lol, so I had to make sure he didn’t get over his head with wanting to trot along with our jack russell.
Miraculously, he began to stand a month later. Then he began to take a few tentative steps and our vet was just as stunned as we were – what was up with this fella? We chalked it up to a bad back sprain, and moved on.
Somewhere during the time I was caring for Dash and having a serious case of writer’s block, I decided I had to take a break at the year end. My nerves were shot. I spent days in bed feeling fatigued and unmotivated to do anything. As a blogger, I knew how risky that decision was going to be for me. Out of sight, Out of mind – that is how the attention span goes for people following our body of work. But, I was counting on my 4 solid years of dedication to the craft and the formation, fostering of lasting relationships to be there when I returned. I set the start date of that break for November 1st and tied some of the loose ends with my Diwali posts and Halloween post. By Diwali-ween, I was ready never to see social media again.
Ohh but it took a while to get it out of my system. You get so accustomed to checking your emails-facebook-instagram-twitter-tumblr before even getting out of bed, you don’t realise you have a ‘problem’. What really helped was staying over at my folks’ place while they were on a week long holiday in India. Chilling with Archana (younger sister), catching up on sleep. But something did not feel right with my health. I began to spontaneously bleed vaginally after my first day there and my lower back was acting up – the latter being a very normal symptom due to my years of living with PCOS and Endometriosis.
It was a sunny Friday and I was looking forward to an afternoon swim when it happened. I got up from the balcony chair to place my plate after breakfast to the kitchen sink. And I was sieged by the most painful sensations down my back. Thinking all I needed was some muscle pain relieving ointment, I applied it and lay in bed elevating my legs. The pain spread to my shoulders, creeped up the neck. My face was flush with the pain and I was quite literally beginning to see stars. I don’t typically do this, but I called Su and told him he needed to come back home and bring me to the doctor near our place. Getting dressed, sitting in a cab, walking to the clinic felt like hell on earth. The physician administered a tramadol injection and chalked this pain up to a back strain. One hell of a back strain!
We figured the tramadol shot would ease the pain, but it did the reverse. The back spasms began to clench in and out per minute and that walk back to my apartment is not something I will be forgetting. I had to stop and start breathing heavily because I was ready to pass out from the pain. I lay down in my bed and found no relief. I was gripping the metal headboard of my bed, sweat pouring down my forehead, afraid I was going to black out. 15 minutes of that and we decided this was an emergency, we called for an ambulance. Waited in immense pain for another 15 minutes, was transported on a stretcher gritting my teeth and trying not to lose consciousness. I was immediately sent for an X ray, administered another Tramadol injection and more medication. We stayed on in the hospital for 10 hours. When the doctors felt I was able to head home, they finally discharged me. Throughout the hospital stay, I slipped in and out of consciousness just like I did during the asthma attack in Feb. Scary stuff. I was diagnosed with Fibromyalgia and Sciatica, just to let you know why this happened.
Unable to walk/sit/stand/lie down, it was a living hell for all of November. It took me a week after the hospital visit before I could walk (still in tremendous pain). I had to be seated to bathe, I could not eat without flinching, getting up from the sofa/recliner/bed was hellish. We reached out to my physiotherapist friend Aparna for an appointment to hopefully get some pain management. She has been a God-send. After reviewing my posture, asking pertinent questions about my mobility, she finally had some answers that I needed to hear. Back in 2004, my right foot’s nerves and achilles tendon were severed, followed by nerve injury to my left foot in 2006. Mobility on my right foot is tentative – while I am able to stand and walk, the immense damage to the foot has affected the nerves connected to my entire right side. Same goes for the left, although that situation is less intense. So this was a long time coming. And stress definitely exacerbates it.
As for the pain from my head to shoulders – thats all stress. Heaps of it, like putting the weight of the world on them. So I have spent the past few weeks since starting physio doing the necessary stretches, keeping myself un-sedentary and changing my furniture. The first thing Aparna made me get was a proper workstation, one that will ensure my back and neck are supported and my shoulders or hands will not hurt as much.
This has been so helpful and important since I primarily work from home. Previously, I typed away in bed or slouched across the couch. As I type away now, my neck, shoulders, back muscles feel supported and I have an incline on the laptop that helps keep the arms less tensed. Next up will be changing my soft couch to a firmer one, my IKEA recliners to sturdier armchairs. All in good time.
As I made these changes, our jack russell Schatzi began to worry us with her inactivity. She is your typical Jack Russell – hyper, leaping and bolting around, sniffing every spot like a detective, chasing our 2 cats. So when I realised she wasn’t doing much of her naughty shenanigans, it was definitely cause for concern. Turns out, she had hurt her back and was diagnosed with sciatica – face palm. What a pair we make Schatz. So while I tended to my back, I tended to hers. Let me tell you trying to limit and restrain a Jack Russell is like pulling teeth. Similarly, she wouldn’t eat or drink for a while because she was in pain. After going through all that with Dash, we were more aware of how to best take care of her.
After all of those events, when the hubster started his month long break I was so relieved. Just to have someone with me at home, caring for our pooches together while sorting my health out. I still had loose ends to tie up with the blog so I did my stretches, did my best to get my game face on and get two fashion posts done. It took a lot out of me with each post but I pushed on. I needed to start easing myself back into blogger/writer mode, and I have had a lot of time to think about my 2017 blogger/writer goals.
We were all geared to get busy with planning outings and having some much needed fun when it happened again. Dash stopped moving. Part of me hoped it was just another back strain, part of me knew this was serious. Our suspicions were confirmed – he has sustained hind leg paralysis. Dash is a rescue pet like all of our pets and when he lived on the streets, he was run over by a car. The other stray dog was not as lucky, he passed away but Dash survived. When we adopted Dash, it had been a few months since the accident. His vertebra was damaged and we were very careful with him. We always have been, and we hoped his mobility would be okay but it looks like its caught up with him as age catches up.
This time around there was less weeping and less helplessness. We are fully aware of our responsibilities of caring for our paraplegic dog, who bless his heart is such a darling fighter. We have taken so many measures to keep him comfortable and we will get him a stroller as well as walking wheels (doggy wheelchair) in 2017.
With our senior 15 year old shih tzu Hershey, we are very realistic about his condition. Old age has taken away his mobility completely so we carry him to and fro, just like Dash. At first with Dash becoming paraplegic, I wanted to bawl all day and not go for physiotherapy but I have to take care of myself because my fur babies depend on me. As a first time cat and dog owner, this has been a fast track learning experience. Emotionally I cannot even express how it has been, but we keep a strong front. Hubster and I make for an amazing team 🙂
Last week, my mom sustained fractures in both her hands and is wearing splints. This has been a challenging year for mom’s health and that has had me worried as well.
All things considered, it has been Quite a year eh? Lets not forget the amazing musicians and actors we have lost this year oh my goodness my heart – Prince, David Bowie, George Michael, CARRIE FISHER (just yesterday). The world has been in disarray with bloodshed, violence and that orange man with a toupe.
I spent the first hour of my 35th birthday crying because I was thinking back to how this year had been. After which I fell into deep slumber. Woke up and that voice said – Write. So here I am, for better or worse. Trying to do the best I can.
I don’t like speculating or over-planning a new year. Realistically speaking, I know there will be more hurdles to come for year 35. But just like 34 it will have good days and good times.
I know pain in all its variations intimately. I understand its purpose well. And all I can say at this point is:
Sending you heaps of love, take care of you xxxo