Posts By: Katie A

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My Endometriosis Journey & Life One Year After Surgery

August 12, 2017 Katie A Uncategorized 0 Comments

Disclaimer: There is a lot of period talk in this.. a lot of honest period talk. Yes, that includes sometimes graphic talk about how sick I’ve been while battling this incurable disease.

This is a post that has been a long time in the making. It’s no surprise tat endometriosis plays a huge role in my life and always has. When Angela Lanter shared a post about her journey with endometriosis (you can read her post here), I knew it was time for me to do the same.

I started my period in the spring of my 6th grade year. I knew from the moment it had started (the office was closed because it was after school and I was in an after school program at the time, so I had to improvise in the bathroom while crying about my period starting) that something wasn’t right.

I felt sick, felt like throwing up from the pain and I was so nauseous. I remember sitting in the cafeteria at a table with my head down because I was so miserable. At the same time, I was worried I would bleed through my makeshift pad. Program coordinators kept asking if I was okay and I lied through my teeth that I was.

I wasn’t.

When my mom showed up to take me home, I burst into tears when I saw her and told her what was going on. She was thrilled that I had started my period, brought me home, called everyone (that was SO embarrassing) in the family to tell them and gave me some pads she had saved for me.

The next few days were miserable. I was passing large clots, bleeding heavily, feeling sick because of the pain. I missed school because I was so sick and honestly, I was a bit scared to go back to school because I knew the “friend” who had gone with me to the bathroom had told everyone in our class that I had started my period.

It continued every month. Sometimes twice a month.

And it didn’t get better. I’d wake up more often than not with blood everywhere in my bed, all over my underwear at home. It seemed like every time I went to the beach, my period would start and I’d have to sit on my towel all the way home.

The pain got worse.

The bleeding got heavier.

Everyone brushed me off and told me I just had bad periods and it was just “bad cramps” and they’ll get better with time. Yeah… that never happened. Every month I was sick, missing a week or more of school, using two pads at once and a super tampon. I wore boxers over my underwear just because I was bleeding so heavily.

I was sent to doctor after doctor, put on the pill in middle school. I was told that OTC pain meds would make everything better (that was a lie.. they hadn’t helped before and they weren’t gonna help after seeing a doctor). They brushed me off time and time again.

They tried to do my first pelvic exam but the amount of pain I was in and all the crying made them stop. I was a kid, I wasn’t ready for that shit and certainly didn’t want it.

Over the years I was put on pill after pill after pill. I tried the shot, the ring, the patch. More and more pills and everything you could think of from those heat patches you can stick on your underwear to hot baths and tea that was supposed to help your cycle.

When I finally saw an OBGYN, I felt listened to. While she couldn’t give me a definitive diagnosis without surgery – she was the first one to listen to me about my symptoms, what I’d read online about severe cramps, bleeding all of my other symptoms.

Do you ever have that moment where you look something up and it completely matches everything you’re experiencing? That was the moment for me when I first found out about endometriosis. I sat at the counter staring at the screen in shock because it made sense.

It took a couple years before I decided to move forward with the surgery and before that, I had gone through six months of a drug called lupron (I’ll never take it again) to help “minimize” the disease by essentially putting me into early menopause.

I’m sure you can imagine how miserable that was for a young woman.

When the day came to have surgery, I was nervous as fuck but I knew I was in good hands with my OBGYN. She had listened to me all along, helped me along the way to try and find other solutions to help my symptoms. In the end, we both decided surgery was the best option.

After the surgery I woke up and she told me that while they had found endo, it wasn’t much. I remember feeling crushed. It was my biggest fear – that they wouldn’t find much or anything at all and no reason for how miserable I was.

I was heartbroken.

I later learned that what little endo they found could be because of the lupron.

I had relief for about nine months to a year before the symptoms came back full force.

Unfortunately… I had lost my insurance five months after my surgery when I aged out of my parents policy. That left me stuck and miserable for months before I realized I could go to Planned Parenthood and another local women’s clinic.

It was the same story, same routine… pills, pills, pills and bad periods. They couldn’t do anything for me other than that – they’re limited in that sort of way. I was (and still am) thankful for what they were able to do for me. I was thankful for any relief from my symptoms as I could get at that point.

Ten years later…

I was completely miserable. It hadn’t ever been this bad. Never. I thought it had been bad before surgery and in the years after, but this was the worst of it. I never thought I’d be that sick, that miserable, in that much pain.

I spent days and nights in the ER because of the bleeding and pain. I missed days and days of work and school. I was literally bed bound several days out of the month.

I couldn’t eat or sleep because I was so miserable. Even something as simple as getting dressed was nearly impossible on some days. It was that bad. And without any insurance, I was stuck.

ACA passed and I was able to get medi-cal which has saved my life in more ways than one. It also led me to a doctor that once again brushed me off and refused to do anything. It led me to a woman’s health practice that ultimately changed my life for the better.

It took a few visit (I saw an incredible nurse practitioner who told me I had no quality of life with how far the disease had progressed and how sick I was)  and guess what, another doctor who didn’t believe me and even went as far as telling me the following:

  • She wouldn’t do anything because I was overweight (I wasn’t).
  • I was diabetic so she wouldn’t do anything in terms of surgery.
  • That a double dose of Aleve would fix it all.
  • She would put me back on the pill (Again. I swear I’d tried almost every pill out there at that point).
  • And lastly, she ultimately refused to treat me.

Needless to say, I never saw her again and when it came time for a follow up, I asked for a new doctor. And what happened next changed my entire life for the better.

On my very first visit with her, she said I needed surgery. And I needed it as soon as possible. It felt surreal, you know? I’d been looking for help for so long, someone who took me seriously… and here she was, right in front of me and confirming what I knew I needed.

We started the process after she had given me some options (a hysterectomy or to go in via laparoscopy to clear things out) and sent my file to insurance with all my info, visits with them, ER visit files, etc and left my file with the surgery coordinator.

I remember walking out of that appointment in tears as I told my girlfriend about the appointment, shaking and feel like this wasn’t really happening. I had waited ten years for this.. and it was finally here.

On August 12, 2016 I went in for surgery at a local hospital in the area. Dr. H was going to do excision – a surgery that means she would go in and cut out the disease rather than burn it off, giving me longer relief without the lingering disease.

Even better? That doctor who blatantly refused to treat me was the assisting surgeon that day. She got a first had look at how advanced the disease was and how sick I was.

There was a chance that it would lead to more depending on how far advanced my disease was, but I walked into the operation knowing that and I was okay with that because I needed to have relief and a quality of life again.

I woke up in recovery a few hours later with some complications. My heart rate was sky high, I was put on oxygen because I kept wheezing, my blood sugar was high and they couldn’t get it down.

On top of that, I started to pass out when the nurses took me to the bathroom to make sure I could pee on my own post op and I started to throw up right before that.

In the end, the decision was made to keep me overnight because I was so sick.

Not only that, but the choice was made to open me up all the way because of how advanced and serious the disease was. I had organs stuck together because of adhesion’s. I have endometriosis on my bowels. It was everywhere.

It confirmed everything I knew about my disease and how it had progressed over the years. It confirmed why I was having day to day pain that left me doubled over in pain. It confirmed the heavy bleeding. It confirmed everything.

Recovery was not easy. At all.

I bled very heavily for ten days (so heavy I was using the super heavy, overnight pads all day and night and went through three packs of them, bled through my panties and… yeah, it was bad).

I had a minor infection in one of the smaller incisions.

It was hard as hell to move around, and getting out of bed was nearly impossible early on. I needed help getting dressed or getting my underwear back on after using the bathroom.

I had to take zofran, a muscle relaxer and heavy duty pain meds just to make it through the early days of my recovery. I used a walker just to get around the house. Getting comfortable was ugly and left me in tears.

The worst part of recovery was the depression that sank in. I knew it was a possibility because my hormones had just been fucked with and I was unhappy with how my body looked and felt post op.

I cried over everything. Hell, I cried over the look of food on my plate at meals.

It was bad… and it lasted for what felt like years. Every time I felt like I was coming out of it, it would sink in again and made me feel even more miserable. It was really hard, really ugly and really challenging.

I felt like I was never ever going to get better.

A year later… my entire life is changed.

I’ve lost over 30lbs because I am healthier. I am able to work and go to school without missing any work because of the disease. I have energy. I have no pain from endometriosis (and what pain I do have comes from my caffeine take – it’s always been a trigger). Every now and then I’ll have a bad period, but it’s nothing like it was for so long.

My entire life is different.

I have my life back. I’m happier, I’m healthier.

It’s been a long, long and hard journey to get to where I am now and while I know another surgery might be needed in the future, I am happy where I’m at now. I’m pain free. I have a quality of life.

This never seemed possible before, it really didn’t. I went for years without being taken seriously, with my concerns and symptoms brushed off. I saw medical professionals who brushed me off, refused to treat me at all but through another pill at me (hello, they never worked!) and who didn’t believe me at all.

Yeah, it was a hard road and recovery was even harder – but a year later, I can look back at where I was and where I’m at now. I learned so much about how to advocated and fight for my health and the treatment I deserved. There were so  many days where I was so close to giving up.

But all of this was worth it because of where I’m at now. I fought hard for so long and it took everything in me to keep fighting when I was at my worst, but if I had given up, I wouldn’t be where I am today.

 

 

 

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the sky turned black like a perfect storm

August 10, 2017 Katie A Uncategorized 0 Comments

[trigger warning: the post contains my story and details about sexual assault]

I am being intentionally vague in this post for my own safety, please respect that.

I never talk about this stuff – not even with family. Molli and I will talk about it here and there, but I generally skirt around the issue unless I’m remembering shit and freaking out.

I don’t like talking about it. I hate how it makes me feel and I hate what it makes me remember. I can’t even tell you the exact date, because I blocked it all out when I got out of there. I didn’t know what else to do, how to cope, or how to move forward.

I lost a part of myself in those few days where everything unraveled. I lost a lot of trust in a lot of people who were important to me. I watched people I loved walk away from me as I plead that I didn’t do anything, that I didn’t want any of this.

I watched as someone I loved thought I was involved, engaging and and I begged them in tears that I wasn’t. I didn’t want it. I didn’t want any of us.

I dealt with the fear and so much hurt… so much hurt. I still do.

I talked about it once, on an ancient blog of mine, but quickly deleted it after fear, hurt and shame crept in. It took a family member to ask if something had happened in order to get me to open up a little.

I remember they were driving down one of the main streets in town when they asked. It was summer and I cried in the front seat while I told them what happened. I told them that someone close to me, someone I trusted had assaulted me.

Saying out loud to anyone was terrifying. The only other time shortly after it happened was to a counselor on campus who pushed me to file charges and labeled it as sexual assault. I honestly hadn’t thought about that label at that point because I was still reeling from the entire experience.

To be honest with you, there is still so much that I don’t remember. I started writing this and I’ve found myself staring at the screen for ten minutes because I didn’t remember much of anything. And right now, I am okay with not remembering a whole lot. It’s a lot to unpack and a lot to even go through.. much less relive it through trauma therapy.

I don’t even remember really, how it all started. I knew we had been spending more and more time together, but I never felt uncomfortable. It was nice to get out of the house and do errands together. This is someone I trusted and looked up to – so of course I wanted to do errands together. I was relaxed and comfortable.

And then one night everything changed.

It all happened so fast and years later, it’s still something I struggle with. I still struggle to put the pieces together, to figure out where it all went sideways. I still struggle with the feelings that people thought I was involved willingly, or when someone walked away from me. I still struggle with the fact that even for my own safety, I had to run away and packed up the essentials and close friend picked me up.

For months before this, this person would come into my room when I was asleep and turn off my television. I always fell asleep with the television on because I need that background noise, that distraction in order to fall asleep. I still do.

Looking back now, that should have been my first warning sign.

All I know is one night, they came into my room and sat beside me on my bed. I immediately had that sick feeling in my stomach. And even then, I knew what was happening. I tensed up, moving away, tried to shut everything down but it still happened. They almost kissed me.

My door was mostly closed and I heard someone go outside and slam the front door. I got up and left my room, trying to breathe and not panic or throw up and went outside. They followed, and the person who went outside walked away from me as I told them “nothing happened, nothing happened, nothing happened”.

I locked my bedroom door that night but I couldn’t sleep. I couldn’t even cry.

Trust had been broken, even then, I wasn’t believed that I had nothing to do with this, that I didn’t take part. Even today, that’s still one of the major things I struggle with and one that’s coming up a lot through therapy and just starting to remember things I don’t want to remember.

But I do remember them. Maybe not all of them, and that’s okay – but I remember enough that it still hurts and it’s still raw and makes me feel sick and scared.

The next day it was worse.

I woke up thinking I was living in a nightmare and everything seemed so surreal. I felt like I couldn’t wake up all the way and there was no way the night before had happened… but I knew it had.

And it was about to get worse.

I remember walking into the kitchen and he was in there, standing against the counter and he was talking to me. I don’t know what he was saying, I was trying to tune it all out and keep standing, keep moving and put up walls to protect myself even more.

He hugged me and held me there, telling me something or other before he told me that “you need to explore a little” and “you’re still young, you don’t know who you are” and completely invalidated me and my sexuality as a gay woman. I knew who I was. I knew who I am.

He wouldn’t let me go and hugged me for too long. He may have tried to get close enough to kiss me again, I don’t remember. I still have much of it blocked out for my own safety at this point. Even now… I need that. I need that distance and disconnect.

In the end, I managed to get away and go to my room as quickly as I could, locking the door behind me. I got into bed and started to cry. I felt sick and dirty and confused. I was scared, hurt and angry. I was upset. I was on the verge of a panic attack.

I called a friend and asked if there was any way possible she could come get me and take me somewhere because I needed to get out and get out now. I packed my essentials, knowing I wouldn’t be back anytime soon. I stuffed it all into a laundry bin and a bag, and then left my room – sitting down next to the person who walked away from me the night before.

I broke down again, begging and pleading and trying to make them see that I had no involvement, that I didn’t want this, that I didn’t want any of it. I didn’t want that assault and abuse. I didn’t want to have to leave… but I had to. I had to get out of there because I wasn’t safe anymore and I needed to be in a safe place.

I remember sobbing in there, and then walking out of the house with everything I could grab. I left. I knew I had to do what was best for me, and staying there was going to put me into another unsafe situation that I may not have been able to stop the next time it happened.

When I went to see a counselor on campus a few weeks later, he pushed me to file charges but I didn’t. I was too scared, too worried about what it would do and mean for the rest of us. I was too shaken still, but he labeled it clearly.

I had been sexually assaulted.

And it’s a nightmare. Something I’ll never forget. It’s something I still struggle with – all the feelings and fear that came along with it. The scars and memories I still carry with me. I’m starting to remember bits and pieces here and there as I work through trauma therapy… and it isn’t easy to remember them.

I didn’t remember until a couple weeks ago about the person walking away from me and refusing to believe me.

I have my days where it’s incredibly hard to wade through it, and I have my days where I can keep going. I have days where even though it takes everything I have, I can push it back and block it out and other days where it’s constantly in the back of my mind and making me feel sick.

I have my days where I remember the little details I blacked out and they shake me up and make me feel sick and dirty. I have my days where I realize that I made it through, even though I’m still hurting, still carrying this and still working through it.

I have my days where knowing keeping my distance is the best thing for me but I miss the way things used to be before this mess – where I had a couple people who put my best interests at the top and didn’t walk away from me. I have my days where this entire situation has caused me so much anger and pain that I can’t even stand much interaction around me at all.

I have days where my hyper vigilance is out of control and I’m finding myself checking my door to make sure it’s closed tight, making sure the front door is double and triple locked, where I’m making sure the fridge is closed.

It’s certain movies I can’t watch anymore because of the memories I associate with them. It’s not being able to walk into certain places because of the memories or be with people because they didn’t believe me and caused pain that will never go away.

It’s years of broken trust, one step forward and two steps back. It’s living with the feelings and fear this experience left me with. It’s learning to cope and worth through this in trauma therapy but the fear and anxiety of what I’m about to remember.

It’s learning to realize that I’m a survivor and I’m strong. That despite how many scars and memories I carry, that I’m doing the best I can as I face this. It means knowing that getting out was the best idea for me.

It’s hard, I won’t lie, it’s one of those earth shattering moments. I will always struggle with this – all of it: the hyper vigilance, the feelings, scars, memories, broken trust, pain and the distance I had to create from this.

I’m not the only one who has gone through this, and I know how horrifying this can be.. but I’m a survivor and even though the bad days can outweigh the good days, I’m just taking it one step at a time or one second at a time to protect and take care of myself.

I’m doing the best I can, and sometimes that’s all we can do.

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Sometimes it all gets a little too much

August 9, 2017 Katie A Uncategorized 0 Comments

I’ve been quiet here… and for a good reason. All of these reasons are completely overwhelming, and quite frankly, heartbreaking. Like usual, it’s all come on at once. It’s been non-stop, and a lot of it is the hardest thing I’ve ever had to go through.

Let’s start at the beginning…

This summer I started trauma therapy. Molli encouraged me to start it so that I can have a life where my past isn’t haunting me, and after talking to my psychiatrist (who insurance isn’t allowing me to see anymore.. long and sad story there), we decided this was the best plan of action in order to face my demons and unpack the past I’ve struggled through for so long.

It hasn’t been easy. It will never be easy.

It’s remembering things I’ve blocked out for so long, it’s learning the countless triggers I have, it’s learning how my issues with food tie into my trauma, it’s the aftermath of dealing with these triggers that lead me to pull my hair out and scratch my skin. It’s facing the nightmares I have and the general exhaustion after a session.

Trauma therapy means opening myself up, finding someone who will listen to me. It’s weekly (or bi-weekly) journal prompts to get me to open up, realize what I need to face and work through. It’s weekly or bi-weekly appointments with my incredible therapist who sits with me, listens to me and guides me through.

It’s hard. It’s terrifying to remember things I’ve blocked out for so long. It’s hard to face the hell I went through growing up when I’ve kept it locked away and buried for years.

My grandmother was diagnosed with both Parkinson’s Disease and Alzheimer’s. I’ll never forget the day we got the diagnosis. She had been referred to a neurologist after some concerning symptoms (we were also worried about small strokes) and she had failed her short term memory test. I had noticed things here and there that she was losing stuff a lot, not remembering things… but honestly, I think we all thought it was just age related.

Still, the diagnosis was crushing.

Since then, she’s lost a lot of weight. We’ve had to set up a bed in the living room for her, manage her medications, countless doctor appointments. She’s fallen a few times and it’s left her bruised and banged up.

I’ve seen her lose weight because she can’t eat or has no appetite or everything tastes “bad”. I’ve seen her forget how to write things, remember peoples names, remember what she did that day. I’ve seen her forget how to put a coffee maker back together after just putting the first one together.

I’ve seen her shake so bad she can’t even take the wine at communion and barely walk.

It’s devastating. It’s the hardest thing I’ve ever gone through and I know it’s only going to get harder as time goes on… and that’s crushing. It’s a crushing reality. It’s terrifying and it breaks my heart.

My mental health has gone downhill. Anyone who knows me, or knows of me, knows that I always put myself last. I always do and I always have. And unfortunately, that’s come at a price.

I haven’t been taking care of myself and stepping up for self care. I’ve been having nightmares and being thrust into being a caregiver. My anxiety has blown up and led me to pulling out my hair (And I haven’t done that since junior high school) and scratching my skin until it’s red.

I can hardly eat, and when the anxiety is real bad I throw it all up anyway.

I’ve lost weight because I have a hard time with food when I’m this sick, and it only makes it harder while working towards a diagnosis of an eating disorder and figuring out my food triggers along the way.

It’s the stress of looking for new jobs as I need something full time and the pain of rejection and frustration with lack of communication from potential employers after follow ups.

It’s spending hours in bed, unable to make myself get up and function, but also unable to sleep because of the exhaustion. It’s not having any energy and coming home and crawling right back into bed. It’s hours and hours of crying – sometimes over something or other, sometimes over nothing.

It’s getting angry at things – things I’ve held in over the years or frustration with people not pulling their weight, shifting things around to place the blame on me and the hurt that comes with people not being around like they should be.

It’s learning to distance myself from those associated with my abuse and assault and the fear and anxiety that comes along with it. It’s learning that I’m hyper vigilant from all of this and watching it sometimes take control where I can’t stop locking and checking doors, closing my bedroom, making sure my window closed.

It’s the depression that creeps in out of nowhere most days and the hours spent crying. It’s telling my girlfriend that I’m down again after a mostly good day and spending hours in my bed crying because I’m so down and it all seems like it’s never going to get better.

I had to get a new psychiatrist. Insurance fucked me over and after working with an incredible psychiatrist for two months who really listened to me, who worked with me, encouraged me, talked to me about everything… insurance said they’d no longer cover her.

I called to make a follow up appointment with her and when the office manager broke the news to me, I sat on the phone and cried. And when I got off the phone with her, I cried at my sisters dining room table while she watched me sob and tried to talk me down from the sheer panic and heartbreak that was happening with that bombshell.

They were able to get me in for the following day with the new psychiatrist once I said I needed to be sooner rather than later because I wasn’t getting better on the medication adjustments and addition we had made.

It’s always hard going in to see any new person and let me tell you, my anxiety was through the roof. It didn’t help that this guy was running behind so I was left waiting in the waiting room for 20-25 minutes until he brought me back in.

He introduced himself to me and we briefly talked before he got dirty. He flat out told me that he’s taking me off of the anti-depressant my former psychiatrist had put me on a month earlier because he “didn’t agree” with it. I told him I wanted to keep trying it, we could adjust the dose… but he refused.

Not only that, but he took me off of it with no tapering. Sure, I was on the lowest dose available for the medication – but I’ve always been sensitive to adjustments… and this I realize, may be contributing to what I feel now.

He didn’t listen to me about a medication he wanted to add back in even as he read over my file right in front of me. He added it back in and just increased the dose despite my file and myself saying we’ve tried it in the past and upped the dose but it never helped.

He also didn’t listen to me when I told him that my anxiety was still really bad and it was affecting me physically. My therapist knew, we had a hard talk about that – but this guy… he just brushed it off and wouldn’t listen.

He didn’t even entertain the thought about increasing the dose of my anxiety medication. Not once.

Needless to say, I walked out frustrated and hurt. It takes a lot to go in and see someone new… and then to be dismissed and quite frankly, disrespected when I spoke up and was honest about how I was doing… it was hard to handle.

I stopped in the office and talked to E who is always so so kind to me and willing to get me in early and quickly if I need it and asked if there was someone else I could see after explaining the situation. It was lucky I did because the director was also in the office at the time and I was able to talk to both of them about what had happened and how I felt.

They both promised they’re looking for another addition to the practice and will call me as soon as they are able to hire someone. Unfortunately, for at least now… I am stuck with this asshole and possibly scrambling to find other services that take my coverage just for psychiatry alone.

Needless to say… things haven’t been that great here. I’m taking it one day at a time at this point and trying to put one foot in front of the other, but with everything happening all at once, it feels impossible some days.

I am hoping to be more vocal about my struggles and my journey, but mostly, I just want to help someone. That’s all I want – to know I’ve helped someone, inspired someone, encouraged someone and that I’ve made a difference.

The next few posts will be heavy and hard to write, but I know it’s good for me to get it out and to share my story. Bear with me as I walk through all of this. Your support, love and encouragement mean the world to me.

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A Surprise Reveal from Cora Carmack!

March 29, 2017 Katie A Uncategorized 0 Comments

AllClosedOff_AnnouncementBanner

 

 

From New York Times bestselling author Cora Carmack, comes the highly anticipated fourth standalone title in her Rusk University Series, ALL CLOSED OFF! A passionate story and journey, get ready to be mesmerized with Stella’s story! ALL CLOSED OFF is coming your way May 1, 2017!

 

 

ALL CLOSED OFF - cover

Cover Design and Photography by Kelsey Kukal-Keeton at K. Keeton Designs

ABOUT ALL CLOSED OFF (Releasing May 1, 2017):

Stella Santos is fine.

Maybe something terrible happened to her that she can’t even remember. And maybe it drives her crazy when her friends treat her like she’s on the verge of breaking because of it. Maybe it feels even worse when they do what she asks and pretend that it never happened at all. And maybe she’s been getting harassing emails and messages for months from people who don’t even know her, but hate her all the same.

But none of that matters because she’s just fine.

For Ryan Blake, Stella was always that girl. Vibrant and hilarious and beautiful. He wanted her as his best friend. His more than friends. His everything and anything that she would give him. Which these days is a whole lot of nothing. She gets angry when he’s there. Angry when he’s not there. Angry when he tries to talk and when he doesn’t.

When Stella devises an unconventional art project for one of her classes all about exploring intimacy—between both friends and strangers—Ryan finds himself stepping in as guinea pig after one of her subjects bails. What was supposed to be an objective and artistic look at emotion and secrets and sex suddenly becomes much more personal. When he hits it off with another girl from the project, Stella will have to decide if she’s willing to do more than make art about intimacy. To keep him, she’ll have to open up and let herself be the one thing she swore she’d never be again.

Vulnerable.

 

 

ALL CLOSED OFF - full cover wrap

 

Add it to your Goodreads

 

 

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Don’t Miss All of Cora’s Standalone Rusk University Series Titles!

 

ALL LINED UP

Amazon ** Barnes & Noble ** iTunes

ALL BROKE DOWN

Amazon ** Barnes & Noble ** iTunes

ALL PLAYED OUT
Amazon ** Barnes & Noble ** iTunes

 

 

 

Cora Carmack - author picAbout Cora Carmack:

Cora Carmack is a twentysomething New York Times bestselling author who likes to write about twentysomething characters. Raised in a small Texas town, she now lives in New York City and spends her time writing, traveling, and marathoning various TV shows on Netflix. She lives by one rule: embrace whatever the world throws at you and run with it (just not with scissors).

 

 

 

 

 

Website | Facebook | Twitter | Cora Carmack Goodreads

 

 

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When No Sleep & Anxiety Make Everything Worse

March 18, 2017 Katie A personal: anxiety, personal: bipolar disorder, personal: health, personal: mental health 0 Comments

Look, I’m gonna be completely honest in this post… and I’m not ever going to apologize for it. I’m tired of feeling like I have to sugar coat my experiences or hide them.

I’m done with it. You can take it or leave it.

That being said…

My anxiety lately has been wild, and it doesn’t help that I haven’t been sleeping well and when I do sleep, it isn’t for long, I have nightmares or I keep waking up and can’t go back to sleep.

It’s draining. It’s exhausting.

It’s hard to balance and to find any sort of a routine when I’ve got this on my plate. I either sleep all day before work, or don’t sleep at all and just lay there miserable.

When I come home, I just go right back into my room – needing that quiet and ability to turn “off” and have my own space, my own times, my own routine.

And while the endometriosis has really been manageable since surgery in August, anxiety and no sleep really do take a toll on your body and your health.

I’m depressed. I’m anxious. I’m moody.

I can’t eat. I’ve lost weight.

I’m on edge almost constantly.

I have no focus. I have a hard time just watching television.

The little things will set me off.. the last couple of days it’s been people asking me a million questions about every little thing I do, or assuming things without asking.

The fact that my period is coming soon just makes it worse, which is something I am really just now beginning to realize. I’m so on edge right now and nothing is taking that edge away.

My anxiety med doesn’t even do anything for me anymore, it doesn’t even make me sleepy (yes, I’m going to bring that up to my new psychiatrist when I see her).

The worst part about the anxiety and insomnia right now is how they often go hand in hand, and the worse one gets, the other is soon to follow.

It’s a draining process that I’m fighting, even when I feel like giving up.

I’m exhausted, overwhelmed, on edge, feeling broken and feeling like a burden.

And while I have been here before and will be here again (and again and again and again…), it never gets easier, and sometimes, to be honest, it feels like it only gets harder.

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Lessons I’ve Learned in 2016

December 31, 2016 Katie A Uncategorized 0 Comments

2016 has been quite the year for me.

In so many ways, I am so relieved to say goodbye to this year. It hasn’t been easy. I’ve struggled. I’ve fallen. I’ve had a lot of days where getting out of bed is a struggle – but without these days, I wouldn’t be where I am today. Without these days, I wouldn’t have learned the lessons I did this year.

In order to say goodbye to 2016 and hello to 2017 – I wanted to take the time to do a blog post. I wanted to take the time to look back on the lessons I’ve learned and how they’ve carried me throughout the year. These are lessons that I know will continue to carry me into the new year and beyond.

  1. Self care – You guys know how hard I woke and how hard I push myself. I push myself too hard, all the time, and I ended up completely burned out. This year I wanted to take a different approach – and I did. It wasn’t easy, but I knew that with my health going downhill, I had to start practicing some self care. I had people remind me often to do so, in whatever way I could. I took a step back when I needed to. I took a hot bath to escape and relax when I needed to. Yes, there were even days where I slept as long (or as much) as I could in order to take care of myself. Self care is such an important aspect for everyone – if you aren’t taking care of yourself, you really can’t help others to your full potential.
  2. Letting go of things I cannot change – This year has been… interesting. I have learned this lesson and learned it hard and quick. This year I had to learn that letting go of things I cannot change is something I must do. I can’t change the toxic and at times crippling behavior of family. I cannot change the fact that I’ve been pulled around in all different directions since my parents divorce. I cannot change the fact that I am chronically ill. I cannot change the fact that some people I love dearly and have always been in my life will never change and will continue to be manipulative of others. I have to let this go – allowing this to continue will only hurt me in the long run. It took a lot of guts for me to say “Next Christmas, I am spending it at home quietly with my girlfriend and we won’t be running around all day.” … that took a lot of guts and a lot of tears, hurt and anger before that. I cannot change parts of my life, but I can let go of them and begin building my own life where my needs are taken care of and put first.
  3. Kindness – I cannot tell you how many times people have reached out to me this year. Whether it be donating what they could to the GoFundMe I had to create in order to survive an extended period of time off of work or people telling me they support me. Kindness has been a big theme for me in 2016. Even the kindness of strangers has pulled me through some of the hardest moments of my life. I’ve learned that I have an entire community behind my back. I’ve learned that there are people out there that I don’t even know that want the best for me. The kindness I’ve been shown this year has been amazing and I’ve worked hard to repay that kindness whenever and however I can.
  4. Advocating for my health – Let me tell you how hard it was the past year to find a doctor who was willing to listen to me and willing to help me. I went through several ER visits with no help, being sent home with pain medication and told there’s nothing they could do. I’ve gone to several doctors who flat out refused to help, listen and even treat me (one going as far as refusing to treat me because she thought I was overweight and didn’t need the help I needed to have a life). It was ultrasounds (vaginal and abdominal), days and nights curled up and crying in pain. It was appointment after appointment as I fought and learned how to advocate for myself and my health. Eventually, it all paid off when I met my current doctor. At the first visit, this doctor agreed to treat me and give me the surgery I needed to have any sort of quality of life. At the first visit. In August, I went in and had surgery and while it ended up being more extensive and severe than we had hoped, the end result has been amazing. My day to day pain is gone aside from some lingering tenderness. My periods are nowhere near as heavy and painful as they were. I am gaining my strength and energy back. I can work. I can keep up with my school work. I have a life again – and it’s all because I learned how to advocate for myself and my health.
  5. Finding my voice – If you know me, you know how shy I typically am. You know how quiet and hesitant I can be. This year, you may have noticed a change. I’ve found my voice. Whether that means I’m speaking up about my experiences with mental and/or chronic illness to calling out unacceptable behavior. It means I am standing up for what is right and using my voice for good. Finding my voice has made a difference in so many lives this year and to hear that someone has learned something from me is confirmation that finding my voice and using it has made a difference. It wasn’t an easy thing to do – but little by little, I found that voice. Day by day, I stood up and began to speak about my own struggles. Day by day, I began to advocate and fight for others. Day by day, I started to stand up against injustice and racism in a community I love so much. Is it scary? Hell yes, it is. I learned to speak up about abuse (and the abusers I’ve encountered). I’ve learned how to encourage healthy conversations with others. I’ve learned that while some people will never change, I can use my voice to make a difference. I’ve learned I can use my voice for good. I’ve learned that I can use my voice to help, inspire and encourage others. 2016 was only the start of finding my voice – and you can bet 2017 will keep this trend going.

2016 hasn’t been easy, but it has taught me several lessons – and I’ll be taking each of them into the new year with me.

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I Will Still Rise: Surgery, Complications and Recovery

October 12, 2016 Katie A personal: health, personal: that spoonie life 1 Comment

endoTwo months ago today, I went into the operating room for a surgery I had been trying to get for a year.

At that point in time, my health had continued to decline, and it was declining faster and faster as time went on.I saw an amazing nurse practitioner who listened as I cried, explaining at a 7am appointment about how miserable I was. I had been in the ER the night before due to the pain. She told me that I had gone through more than anyone else should ever have to endure, and that while she couldn’t do much for me as a nurse, she could refer me to a doctor and start me on the path to surgery.

The doctor I ended up seeing after two rounds of blood work, two ultrasounds and a month of anxiously waiting while dealing with the daily pain from endometriosis made it very clear at that appointment that she had no interest or plan in even helping me have somewhat of a normal life.

She told me:

I was fat.

That OTC pain killers would cure all the pain (yeah, okay).

She told me to come back in three months, and if then I had “lost weight”, she would “consider” surgery.

I walked out, got into my car and sobbed. I had such high hopes for this appointment and wanted to feel better. I wanted to feel like a medical professional understood me, cared about me, wanted to help me as I had only been getting worse, and worse, and worse.

Instead, I was pushed out and told to make a follow up appointment in three months if things didn’t get better. They didn’t. They got worse. My girlfriend saw me start to wither away because I was exhausted. I couldn’t sleep. I continued to be in and out of the ER due to pain and heavy bleeding. I was only getting worse… and no one cared. emdo2

Three months later, I anxiously made my follow up call.

I spoke up, saying this doctor really was not the right fit for me and asked to see someone else.

The next doctor I saw changed my life entirely.

At that same appointment, the first time I met Dr. Hastings – she agreed surgery was what we needed to do. She sat and listened and watched as I cried, telling her about how no one wanted to help me, how my health was going downhill. I had been in and out of the ER several times in the past year because of endometriosis.

She told me as I left that she was going to help me get the relief I needed, the relief I deserved. That same day, she carried my file into the surgery coordinators office. I was told to call back if I hadn’t heard back in about a week. I walked out of the appointment stunned.

Time and time again, I had gotten my hopes up and had them crushed.

Time and time again, I was left to only get worse, worse, worse.

fight-songThree weeks later, when I got the phone call with my surgery date – I sat at my desk with “Fight Song” playing and cried. This was going to happen. I had a surgery date. I was on the road to recovery. I was on the road, waiting anxiously until my surgery date.


On August 12, 2016 – I walked into the outpatient surgery center, registered and sat anxiously to be called back to be be prepped for surgery. I had hardly slept the night before. I was anxious. I was worried. At the same time, I knew that I was in good hands. I had a doctor who cared about me and who wanted the best for me.

Oddly enough, I had found out just two days prior that my doctor would be having a collegue assist in the surgery. At first I was pissed when I found out who it was, but Dr. Hastings assured me that she would be doing most of the work and the assisting surgeon would be there only if needed. Who was this doctor? Yup. You guessed it. The one who called me fat and made it clear she didn’t want to treat me.

Going into it, I knew that there was a very real chance that I could end up with a larger incision. It was one of those things where we planned for it to be a last resort, but I also knew because of how sick I was – that it was a very real chance it would happen.

My mom came in and we took some pictures before they wheeled me back into the operating room.

The last thing I remember were the jellyfish floating around on the operating room, moving onto the operating table and the anesthesiologist telling me he was giving me some medication in my IV to calm me down before surgery started. I don’t remember anything after that.


20160812_104032 When I woke in recovery, I really had no idea what the fuck was going on. I don’t remember much, even two months later. My mom said I was in a lot of paint, but I don’t remember it.

I remember feeling gross. I vaguely remember my doctor coming in and giving me an overview of the surgery. I remember trying to focus on her and what she was saying but the only thing I could absorb was this:

“We had to do the larger incision, we got in there, and we realized we needed to open you up all the way. It was the best option and we were able to excise a lot of the disease, adhesions and scar tissue.”

What I didn’t know and understand at that point in time was just how sick I was.

I later learned that I was unable to be weaned off of the oxygen, and even with the oxygen, I was wheezing. My heart rate was sky high and eventually that started to come down as we found a pain medication to help… it didn’t last long once they had me up and moving.

img_0230They had gotten me stable enough they thought I could go home and removed the catheter. The nurses helped me into a wheelchair and took me into the bathroom to make sure I could urinate on my own. I remember clutching one of those barf bags in my hand, remembering how I threw up post op nine years ago with my first surgery.

The moment they got me up and started to get me back into the wheelchair, I nearly passed out and threw up.

It wasn’t too much later that they decided to admit me for the night for observation. I was still too sick, too unstable. I was upset, but I knew that this was the best option for me. I hated it. I wanted to go home. I wanted to be in my own bed. I knew I had to stay.

I surprised my nurses over the night 18 hours at how well I was up and moving on my own and how well I had begun to recover. I was still shaky, exhausted and sore. My blood sugar was high but my breathing and heart rate had finally stabilized. I blew those nurses away.

I proved to them, and myself, that I am a fighter. img_0059


It’s been two months now.

In a way, it seems like it was forever ago. What turned into what was supposed to be four one inch incisions, turned into a six inch incision and two months off of work while I recovered.

I had staples. I had a minor infection.

I sunk into a deep post op depression.

When I look back today, I don’t really think I grasped how this surgery was going to impact my life. I knew it would change a lot of things. I knew I would start to feel better as I got further and further into recovery, but I never really fully understand how different things would be.

img_0499I celebrated the day I had my staples removed (that entire experience had me terrified and on the edge of a panic attack, but it was over before I knew it with minimal pain. I felt so much better once those damn things were out).

I celebrated my first shower (thank god for shower chairs).

I celebrated as each steri strip began to fall off.

I took daily incision photos. img_0196

Every day, I started to notice a difference. Some days I slept more than others, I bled heavily for the first week post op. The day to day pain I remember before surgery wasn’t entirely gone… but the surgery had helped so much that I have only had two, maybe three days, where I’ve had to take the prescription strength pain meds.

It’s been a long two months. It feels like it’s been forever.

meI just went back to work last week (surprised my work kids – they had no idea I was even picking them up, much less coming back that day). It’s getting into a new routine. It’s learning that I still need to be gentle on my body. I’m still healing. I had major surgery with major complications. img_0115

It’s a period I shouldn’t be having and the endometriosis pain that comes along with it. Even with surgery, I knew I would still have pain. Remember, there is no cure for endometriosis. It is a daily battle, even with surgery making such a huge difference in my life already.

20160812_143019It’s learning that I still need to rest when my body is telling me to rest.

It’s learning that my body is still regaining the strength and energy I once had.

It’s pushing through the last of school and walking the stage for the local graduation ceremony – one month and three days after surgery. I walked across the stage and become a high school graduate.

It’s been healing – and it hasn’t been easy. It’s exhausting. It’s painful. There are days where I have to stay in bed and just listen my body and take care of myself.

A lot has changed in two months… I’ve come so far, and there’s even more to come as time passes.

Overall, it’s learning that my entire life has changed.20160915_191242

 

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An Untold Story Never Heals: Surviving, Learning to Heal, Learning it’s Not My Fault

October 10, 2016 Katie A Uncategorized 0 Comments

post4

trigger warning: this post will have discussion about sexual assault〉

The news coming out over the past couple of days has been overwhelming. It’s been triggering, it’s been overwhelming. It’s made me hurt, it’s made me angry and it’s made me think about experiences I’ve had over the years.

It isn’t something I ever talk about publicly. It’s terrifying to think about putting this out into the world. It’s scary to open up like this. I’ve seen hundreds of women sharing their stories.

It’s my turn to speak up.

It’s my turn to share.

It’s my turn to share these stories, hoping they will reach someone to needs to hear the words:

It is not your fault.

You are not alone.


I’m a kid, sitting in my front yard almost daily. I have a circle of neighborhood friends with me. We are outside playing games, playing with Barbies, or just hanging out. It’s been this way for years – ever since my parents would let me play outside on my own, and even before then – when they’d sit on the porch or do yard work. It’s a routine, especially on the weekends.

I crave this time with my friends.

The neighbor next door is standing against his truck, beer in hand. He’s there every day I’m outside with my friends, the majority of us all girls my age. I’m constantly aware of this eyes on me – locked on me. I’m constantly aware that he’s watching me, beer in hand, shirt off most of the time.

Deep down inside of me, even at a young age, I know what he’s thinking of. I know what he wants.

In middle school, I was out running around with my friends when he called me over to talk to him.

He told me he had something he wanted to show me.

I felt that instinct, the dread, the fear rise up inside of me and I told him no. I told him no twice. He kept pushing the subject, his front door was wide open, his wife was gone to work. He was standing in the doorway basically begging and luring me to come inside.

In a moment of panic, I told him no again, that I could hear a family member calling for me and I ran. I ran as fast as I can, and as far as I could.

I didn’t tell my parents about it for years.


I was in middle school and decided to take the 10-15 minute walk to Taco Bell with one of my best friends. She had lived across the street from me for her entire life and both of our parents were divorced. She was struggling, but I was always there for her. She was staying over and my dad had left me some extra money, so we decided to walk and get ourselves something to eat and bring it home.

On our way home, a group of older high school boys decided to follow us. A couple of them wouldn’t stop talking to us, asking if we would come to their house to party. They’d ask us repeatedly. They likely ask questions I don’t even remember. They were desperate, and desperate for two young girls.

They were too close to us, pressuring us, trying to intimidate us. I gave minimal information, didn’t talk much and neither did my friend. We were together, and I knew and had learned that it was always better to be with someone than on your own.

One of the guys eventually told the others to shut the fuck up and leave us alone.

They still pushed and prodded, but after what seemed like hours – we were finally closer to home and managed to slip away.

We both knew what awaited us had we gone with them.


In high school, I repeatedly had a guy grope me after school.

He kissed me when I didn’t want it. He grabbed my breasts. He stuck his hands up my shirt.

He ran his hands down the outside of his pants, I knew what he wanted.

He was a large part of my friendship circle of that time – and after that, I felt alone.

Almost everyone saw it happen.

No one did anything.

No one said anything.

After that, no one in the circle would talk to me, much less look at me. They were mad I wouldn’t get this asshole get what he wanted. They didn’t have to say it. I knew it.


I came out my sophomore year of high school.

A few years later, a family member began to make advances on me.

I didn’t realize it at first – we were spending more time together, more errands, and I needed that. I needed that support from my family.

It got worse.

He started to make advances and one night, he closed the door to my bedroom and sat on my bed.

That same sickening feeling came back.

The next day, he hugged me in the kitchen and I stood still, tense and flat out freaked out. He told me that I didn’t know what I wanted, he told me that I didn’t know who I was. He told me that I should “experiment” before making up my mind.

He completely disregarded who I was, and not just as family.

He wanted me in ways that I never thought would happen. He wanted me in ways that were never ever okay. He wanted me in ways that still to this day make me feel like throwing up.

My entire life broke at that moment and I locked myself in my bedroom, frantically asking a friend to come get me as I packed up my essentials.

It’s been sever years since then… but it’s left its scars. It’s left me feeling dirty. It’s left me feeling unwanted. It’s left me feeling like it was my fault. It’s left me doubting myself when it happened. It’s left a level of terror inside of me and that won’t go away.

My entire life that I knew shattered that day.


post3It takes a lot to stand up and talk about these stories. It takes a lot of strength. It takes a lot of bravery. It means confronting memories so many of us have tried to block out for years. It takes confronting emotions and feelings that bring us right back to when it happened.

I will admit that I am honestly terrified about sharing this with the world. I don’t talk about it. It’s something I try to forget as often as I can even though it’s still there, in the back of my mind.

I also know that by sharing my story, I can help women. I can show them that they aren’t alone. I can show them that they are loved and cared about.

I can show them that there are thousands and thousands of women who stand with each of us, knowing the pain and the fear we’ve endured.

Most off all, I want you to know: it is not your fault.

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Dare Me (A Nocte Novella) is Here!

October 3, 2016 Katie A Uncategorized 0 Comments

When you find out one of your favorite authors is releasing a novella featuring of your favorite characters? You flail. And when she asks you to help spread the word, you say YES. Let me just tell you from the teasers I have seen, I cannot wait to read this!

If you haven’t read the NOCTE trilogy, read it! You’ll get a lot of Dare and Calla… and you’ll likely fall for them as much as I did. Promise.

Dare Me

 

Did you love Dare DuBray from the Nocte Trilogy? Did you love love love the story, but you wished there was some more steamy scenes?

Well, guess what?

Dare is back in Dare Me, a novella featuring he and Calla… and some steaminess to be had. 🙂

I hope you like it. No, I hope you love it. 🙂

It’s available exclusively on Amazon, and even better, if you’re a Kindle Unlimited member, you can read it for free. If not, no worries- Dare Me is only $.99 pennies. (And even if you don’t usually use Amazon for books, you can download the Kindle for PC, iPad or your phone for FREE to read!)

The hotshot novellas are the perfect length for a lunch hour or bedtime.

You can buy on Amazon here.

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They say she’s crazy.

She’s not.

They don’t know the truth.

She does. The problem is, she doesn’t always remember it.

But I do.

My name is Dare DuBray.

I’m in love with a girl who is is erratic and beautiful, and a little bit mad.

But that’s ok.

We’re all a little mad, aren’t we?

Love couple

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A Year Ago vs. A Year Later

July 28, 2016 Katie A Uncategorized 0 Comments

erA year ago today, I walked out after an appointment I had such high hopes for. I had been referred to an obgyn within the practice where my primary care doctor is. I read the reviews about him, and I was hesitant, but I went.

I went with the support of my girlfriend.

I went with the support of my friends.

I went with the support of my parents.

I went with the support of my sister.

I went to this appointment with hope.

About ten minutes into the appointment, every thread of hope I was holding onto was gone.

Every hope I held onto was torn into shreds.

The day before, I had been in the emergency room, trying to make it another twenty four hours. I just had to hold onto this hope. I had to hold on. I told myself I had to.

When it became all too clear that this doctor was not going to help me in any way, I felt all this hope slip away.

He mentioned hysterectomy, but then refused to do the surgery. I was desperate for any relief. He said “yeah, we can do a hysterectomy, but I won’t do it.” He told me that I was “too young” and that the full hysterectomy would make my life worse. He told me that my breasts would sag because a hysterectomy would put my body into menopause.

He gave me no long term options. He threw a new prescription at me.

I walked into the hallway after the appointment, shaking, ready to break and asked him:

“Will you even consider doing a laparoscopy to treat endometriosis?”

His reply? “No, not at all.”

I walked out of that building with my sister, trying so hard to hold on. I was breaking down from the inside out.

No one cared. No one wanted to help me.

I was already passing time until the next time I had to go to the ER.

I was waiting for the moment where I passed out from bleeding so heavily for so long.

I was waiting for the next moment where the pain was so severe I threw up.

This had become my life.

I had been fighting for so long, and I didn’t want to live this way anymore.

warrior

365 days later . . .

I am still fighting.

I am counting down the next two weeks until I go in for a laparoscopy.

I fought for an entire year to get to where I am now.

I’ve had to cancel plans. I’ve been in and out of the ER. I’ve had doctor after doctor tell me they can’t help me. I’ve had a doctor who called me fat, and basically put up roadblock after roadblock, making it clear she had no intention to give me a long term plan.

I’ve watched my entire quality of life slip away.

It’s gone.

With two weeks until surgery, it all still seems to surreal. It doesn’t seem like this is my life. It doesn’t seem like that I finally found a doctor who listened to me, who wants to help me live again. I sat on the exam table that morning, crying into a wad of tissue while she listened to me.

She gave me options.

She didn’t dismiss my pain and tell me that motrin and aleve would solve all the pain.

She listened. She cared.

With her and my surgical coordinator, I am getting ready for surgery.

I am exhausted. I’m in pain every single day. It has taken so much from me.

I’ve come an entire year with the support of my family, my friends. My girlfriend has been my number one support. She’s woken up to my texts when I can’t sleep because of the pain. She has seen me break down because of the pain. She has stood by my side when no one else was there.

She is the reason I am still standing tall today.

Without Molli, I wouldn’t be where I am today.

In two weeks, she will be be supporting me as I go into surgery. Something we have both been fighting for. When I couldn’t get up, she was there. On the nights I cried because of the pain, she was there. She even wrote a letter to my doctor, explaining how the disease has only gotten worse over the past year.

We are facing more than just surgery.

I am faced with over a month off. It wasn’t something we had expected. It wasn’t something we had planned. I know that I need this surgery, but I will admit that the thought of being off for that long is terrifying. I’m faced with the fact that I won’t be able to work. I’m faced with the fact that this will be a longer and harder recovery.

Yet, I found myself thinking today about what would have happened a year ago if someone had taken my pain seriously. I wonder about what kind of life I’d be living now. I wonder what my life would be like after having surgery before things got this bad.

I still need help. I still need support.

What may have happened a year ago may have changed things about where I am today.

I’ll never know.

In two weeks, I’ll wake up from surgery with a new outlook on life. I’ll wake up knowing that this surgery is happening. This surgery will help. I’ll walk through those hospital doors, knowing I fought long and hard for this day.

I’ll leave that hospital knowing I have a long, painful, exhausting and hard recovery ahead of me.

I still need your help. I still need your support. I am fighting daily.

Even if you cannot donate to the fund to help me get through being off work for so long, your support means the world to me. I can’t do this without you. Your love, support, encouragement helps. Even a dollar or five dollars helps. If you can’t donate, just knowing that I have your support is enough to keep me going for these next few weeks.

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