SELF CARE

I decided to take time for myself this weekend. I’ve been on the go for several weeks now. There’s been a lot of “newness” in my life this summer too & I could feel myself reaching my limits last week. A weekend alone always recharges my mind & soul. #theintrovertlife

There’s something about moving at my own pace & the quietness of being alone that fuels me. I didn’t do anything too crazy (except get a new Jeep totally spur of the moment, but that’s a story for another day! HA!) but in all honesty, I just really like not answering to anyone or adhering to anyone’s schedule. Sometimes I just need silence. It helps me clear my mind & press the reset button.

The topic of “self care” has really blossomed over the last few years. More and more people are realizing the benefits of putting their physical, mental, spiritual, intellectual, social, sensory & emotional health needs at the top of the priority list. It can easily be overlooked in the hustle & bustle of every day life, but if you make a point to take care of yourself, you will only be better in every other area of your life.

My self care routines look different during different times in my life. Sometimes I need to physically pamper myself with manicures, pedicures, massages, or a new haircut. Other times I need to participate in some retail therapy or a long walk with Mia. Treating myself with special food is also important to me. #foodieforlife

I would like to get better at unplugging from social media & electronic devices to just be with myself in the moment. I think that would be a good detox for me, as I tend to always be plugged in to the digital world and sometimes that makes me less present in person. I am also getting better at cutting out toxicity in any and all areas of my life. If I am not happy with something, I do something about it.

There are TONS of different self care ideas you can find with a simple search online. You need to explore what brings you joy & go from there, but for now here are some of my favorite ways to love myself:

  • spend time alone
  • clear my schedule for an entire day & just do what comes up
  • say no to things that don’t bring me joy
  • read
  • avoid toxic people
  • schedule “me” time for a weekend
  • take a mental health day
  • treat myself to a massage
  • journal to release thoughts and anxiety
  • go on a long walk
  • go on a run
  • sleep in
  • foam roll to release built up tension
  • binge a favorite show
  • get special food or takeout
  • do yoga
  • get a mani & pedi
  • go shopping for whatever my heart desires
  • take a nap
  • go to bed early

What are your favorite ways to practice self-care? Are you carving out enough time every day/week/month? I encourage you to seriously prioritize yourself because no matter what anyone says, YOU ARE WORTH IT.

HOME SWEET HOME

We made it into our new digs! It’s been an exhausting last couple days, make that the last 3 weeks since this adventure started! From purging & selling all my stuff to purchasing new space appropriate items, planning out my layout and actually moving in, its been a whirlwind! I am so happy with everything though. I’m already unpacked and 90% decorated. I’m going to just live here a few weeks and see what other decor/art I think I need.

Mia is adjusting, slowly but surely. This place is A LOT different than our Uptown gem. The community spaces & amenities are absolutely amazing and beautiful! All the artwork in the building is by local Minneapolis artists, which is really cool. They went the extra mile on everything.

I am going to leave you with a picture tour this week. No words are even needed as the pictures definitely speak volumes!

And finally, my view. WOW.

AUGUST FAVORITE FINDS •MOVING EDITION•

This month I am going to feature some of the new exciting finds that I have purchased for my new place. If you are in the market for any new home items, this post may spark some ideas. As I mentioned in my post last week, I am downsizing to a studio, so I had a lot to get rid of and in turn, had to get some new smaller items that fit the studio life. I will be doing a tour post of my new digs once I move in there so for now you will have to envision these items in my new cute little space!

Tv Stand – Overstock

I had planned to use my bedroom TV stand that I already had but when I sold that TV and hauled in my living room TV it was clear that thing was not going to be strong enough to support the massive living room TV. I wanted something clean & sleek – not a ton of drawers and places for junk to accumulate. This is surprsingly sturdy and I love how it looks. I plan to angle it in a corner in my new apartment.

Entry Table – Amazon

My new entry way area is a rectangle shape but the front door and bathroom door open into it, so space is limited. I decided to go for something round for the corner. I am happy with this! It is very sturdy and the wood looks nice.

Chairs – TJMAXX [link is to an almost identical pair because tjmaxx doesn’t them have online]

I stumbled across these babies one day at TJMAXX and they just spoke to me. LOL. For real though. I had this vision of a little bistro 2 person table against the window in my new apartment – dinner with a view!

Dining Table – Amazon

So along with that random chair vision I had in TJMAXX, I pictured it all with a table similar to this. I found a couple others I liked but they were over $300 and I wasn’t totally sure on the wood color. This is actually a laminate top, most likely the reason its more cost effective, but it really looks like wood in person and its super cute with my chairs. Alex & I have eaten at it a couple times in my current apartment and it works great.

Sheets – Amazon

These sheets are my absolute favorites. They hold up so well (even with Mia on them!) and are so affordable. I’ve been buying them for a few years now. They are extremely comfortable and soft too.

Comforter/Quilt– Target

Okay, I seriously had a major struggle with comforter shopping. This was my FOURTH one I bought. I wanted most of my place to be really neutral. Since I’m moving into a studio my bed will be out in the open so I thought that I could have one pattern/pop of color item and it would be my bedding. After trying a few though, I decided to go with a plain dark gray color. I also have this thing where I’m VERY particular about the texture of comforters and how they show wrinkles. LOL. I like quilts because they lay heavier and show less wrinkles. I think this will look great.

Headboard – Target

I went out on a limb with this one. I wasn’t sure how I’d like it person and I actually really love it! It’s more velvety in person too. I think it will look great in my new space.

Bath Towels/Curtain – Home Goods & Target

If you don’t shop @ Home Goods you are seriously missing out. SO MUCH GOOD STUFF. I got my entire bathroom towel collection there for a very good price. I also got kitchen stuff, throw pillows, art & so much decor from there. Seriously a must check out. If you like HG/TJMAXX/MARSHALLS, Tuesday Morning is another good store with a similar concept. I found some great rugs there.

The shower curtain is from Target and again just drew me in to the simplicity and I like the water color look.

Couch – HOM furniture

My big purchase! I went back and forth on what I wanted to do at the new apartment couch wise. I only had a maximum of 6 feet to work with. I thought about a loveseat but most loveseats that small were not that comfortable and then I would need an ottoman of some kind or a coffee table. They were also so short that even I would not be able to lay on it. Then I thought about an oversized chair. Every one of these I looked at though had bulky armrests and two people would not be able to sit in one of those things together. So then I randomly stumbled across this baby! I am so excited for this! It is like the perfect lounge area. I spent a pretty penny on it but it’s very comfortable and a quality brand that will last me many years to come. I think Mia is going to love this thing too!

C table – Amazon

This will be my new nightstand and also will double as an end table next to my couch. It was super easy to it together and looks nice for the price!

Artwork – Etsy

I bought several new pieces of art but this is my favorite! I’ll show more when I do my tour post next week. This is coming from Ireland so hopefully it will be here by then. I bought a really similar matted frame from Target to put this print in. I kept a few pieces from my current place too that will make their debut in my new space.

That’s all for this week! This little shop-a-holic needs to take a retail therapy break! HA! My next post will be a tour of the new place! SO EXCITED!

LIFE LATELY

It has been a whirlwind the last couple weeks around here.

It all started two weeks ago when I decided to go tour a new place in Northeast, Minneapolis. It’s technically more Saint Anthony East but also in the new’ish NE area that people think of when you say NE. It is a new high-rise building which is something I have always wanted to live in for some reason. So I randomly decided to go tour it and of course, I fell in LOVE. I saw lots of floor plans and was hoping one floor plan would speak to me clearly so I wouldn’t have to make a decision, and literally ONLY ONE did! YES! It’s a studio but has a good spacious layout, huge closet, washer/dryer, and the view of a lifetime. I can see a panoramic view of Minneapolis from my window. It’s amazing. The building has ALL the amenities you could ever need too. I opted for the middle of the building. I felt a tad woozy when I went and toured a unit towards the top. They told me you can definitely feel the wind/swaying/movement up there, even on the 5th floor they have felt it! YIKES. I put in an app right then & there and was approved the following week. I had less than a month to get my current place rented out, sell almost all my belongings to fit in a studio, purchase new smaller items and pack everything. I am a major organizer if you don’t know that about me already. So I, of course, made spreadsheets on spreadsheets to keep track of all of this and plan out how I am going to get it all done. If anyone could do this insane plan, it was me. I thrive in stressful, busy situations. I am a multitasker by nature and I get these visions and can just run with them. I planned to start with a massive purge of my current place, then start selling items/purchasing new smaller ones and finally pack the last 1.5 weeks. I love purging so that was not hard for me – I always feel great when I whittle down my “stuff” and my goal is to live a more minimalistic lifestyle anyway. My sister Jessie usually benefits from these purges the most, especially in the clothes department. I have completed the purge, sold a TON of items (like all I have left is my bed, furniture wise), purchased all my new items and just have packing left which I am starting this weekend. I have been really happy in my GEM in Uptown for 5 years but it is time to move on. I feel like I’ve outgrown the people, neighborhood, and vibe there. I am looking forward to a new adventure in a new neighborhood. I am all about embracing change and those who know me, know that I am not afraid to make some drastic changes! The river is 2 blocks away, so many restaurants & stores right below me, the beautiful Stone Arch bridge is right there, and I am still super close to Downtown. The commute is surprisingly the exact amount of miles to my new job in St. Paul as it was from my Uptown place. I will for sure take some pics once I am moved in and do a post about it all.

I also started my new job and have been in the newness phase of that every day. I have caught on quickly and feel caught up & comfortable with all the new systems by now. This has been a breath of fresh air for me. I absolutely love going to work every day and everything I do comes naturally to me so it doesn’t even feel like work to me. I love the silence of working by myself. I am a true introvert and could seriously survive on an island alone. My new role is really unique because I am the only one of my kind. I don’t necessarily have a team or anyone else to compare things to. But I LOVE that and I THRIVE in roles like that. I am self-sufficient and take initiative on my own. My new role is super flexible too which is so nice. I have not once gotten the Sunday scaries @ the new job, which is awesome. The company itself is unlike anywhere I have ever worked. People truly and genuinely LOVE working there. It’s really awesome to be surrounded by positive people who believe in the same things. I am trusted in my position and I have the freedom to do what I think is best. That’s something that was lacking in my teaching position.

On the flip side of starting the new job, I officially separated from my teaching job too! EEEEKKK. I turned in the paperwork and notified my principal and staff. It was bittersweet, to say the least. I teared up a couple of times because it is really an emotional, bittersweet thing for me. I have deep ties to teaching and how it’s affected my life the last decade. I have not once regretted my decision though and know that I can always work with children in the future.

Finally, I had my big “one year mark” doctor appointment to check in on my cervix. I surprisingly only got anxious a few days before the appointment. I have come leaps and bounds since last year on this. I really have the mentality right now “it is what it is and God has a plan for me”. I had a glimmer of hope that things would check out normal and this nightmare would be over. I didn’t even have a bad gut intuition feeling, which I usually do, so I thought that meant it was going to be good news. Long story short, it was NOT good news. But also not completely horrible news either. It’s not over as I had hoped. I have to move forward with another colposcopy and biopsies in September. If those biopsies come back clean then I would be in the clear until next summer. If those biopsies show any kind of CIN, then I get another LEEP surgery, which would SUCK. We are also hoping that if there is anything visible that it has continued to stay OUTSIDE of my cervix and not creep inward as that would not be good and would need a different treatment approach. They have agreed to give me Valium before this next appointment and also lidocaine which worked so well for my LEEP last year. I was sad for sure the day I got the call on this. I felt really defeated. But ultimately I know I will be okay. It sucks, it really does, but it could be worse. I will survive and each time I go through something like this I am one step closer to getting this nasty stuff out of my body. I have hope that when they do the biopsies they come back clean and show that my body is producing good healthy cancer-free cells. As of now, we have the appointment scheduled for mid-September. My doctor is going on vacay and she felt comfortable waiting for that amount of time. I value her opinion and really do trust her judgment with this all so it was important to me to have her perform everything again.

So between all of those things and trying to have any other type of personal life, I have barely had any downtime but it’s okay. I am REALLY excited about my new job & moving. I know when I get settled in there in a couple of weeks it will all be worth it. All of these changes feel so right in my heart & soul and I really do believe the best is yet to come! Thank you all for your continued support of all my life changes.

A DECADE TO REMEMBER

A blurb from my latest IG post: “August ‘09 … I stepped into a school in North Minneapolis that would forever touch my heart & soul. It would make me who I am today. I was freshly 21 & determined to make an impact. I spent the next ten years doing some of the hardest work there is in this world. My time with MPS has been eye opening, rewarding & straight up challenging at times. I will never ever forget the students I was blessed to teach & the families I connected with. It’s been quite the journey filled with ups & downs but I wouldn’t trade it for the world. I am a better person for my time spent as a teacher. I truly believe that. These kids thought they needed me, when in reality I needed them just as much, if not more. But all good things must come to an end, only to make room for NEW GOOD THINGS!

This August I will not be stepping back into the classroom. I am ready to push myself out of my comfort zone. Nothing is meant to be forever and I am able to smile and appreciate my time as a teacher. I have started a brand new adventure as an Executive Assistant to the CEO of a MN Credit Union. The decision to make this transition was definitely not taken lightly. Over the last few YEARS I have found myself feeling burnt out in the education world and longing for something different. Any teachers reading this can probably attest to the fact that teaching literally sucks the life out of you. I have tried switching grade levels, schools, areas of the district, and even roles, only to come to the same conclusion: teaching is not fulfilling me like it used to.

That is really hard for me to say out loud and come to terms with. I have wanted to be a teacher since I was about 3 years old. I went to college for this career. I clawed my way through my first three years to get tenured in MPS. I made a name for myself and survived 7 of my 10 years in the toughest area of the city/state, North Minneapolis. I poured my soul into kids who had no one else. I went above and beyond to be there for my students. I took them to get dinner. Bought them clothes and basic need necessities. Would send home food on Fridays to the ones who wouldn’t eat over the weekend. Gave them their only Christmas presents they would receive. Hauled them to football practices and games. Raised money to furnish new apartments after they got out of the shelter. Made home visits and sat on their couches so they would see me in their home and know my love for them was real and raw. Went door knocking in debris after a tornado ripped through North Minneapolis to make sure my students were alive. Had to explain to a kindergarten student why his mom hid drugs in his cubby that day because she knew the police were raiding the house that morning. Spent countless nights crying & worrying for some of them who had such shitty situations at such young ages. Called CPS and fought for their safety when no one else would advocate for them. Endured verbal and physical abuse several times, by students as well as parents. Picked up glass on my hands and knees early before my students got there one year when my classroom windows would get smashed out every weekend. Listened to horror stories from students about what they have seen in their short lives. Consoled a student who stood by a dead body at the bus stop that morning on her way to school. Had my own car damaged in the school parking lot. Had coworkers held at gunpoint while leaving school. Lied down on the pavement out at buses as a drive by shooting took place 50 feet in front of me. Had a convicted rapist corner me in my classroom on a record keeping day. Picked up used heroin needles in my kindergarten bathroom after a weekend the building had been unlocked. Had students confide some deep dark horrible secrets to me. I’ve seen the injustices of America’s education system up close & personal. Witnessed the blatant racism that still exists in our schools & communities day in and day out. I could literally go on and on people … but one thing has remained the same despite all of those insane tales … my love for the kids. An unconditional love. An unconditional love that went BOTH ways. I honestly would not be the person I am today without my interactions with these kids. I have crossed paths with hundreds of students the last 10 years. They will never know what they did for me. I cannot even begin to tell you how I relied on them when my own life was quite literally a fucking mess. One thing I will never forget is the generosity and kindness of their little souls. They would have nothing and would somehow find a way to give. That makes me cry to even type. They were so selfless. I will miss their funny sayings, little notes and pictures, kind compliments and seeing their resilience shine every day. That was inspiring enough to keep me going.

In addition to dealing with those stories above, which really were my typical week stories, I was being pushed by district officials and school administration to be better, to do more, to learn more, to somehow change the fate of my students, to get the test scores they wanted to see, etc. It is an impossible battle. Each summer I would teach summer school and try to recharge during my TWO WEEKS off. I tried to heal my wounds I had endured the previous school year and muster up the strength and courage to go back for another year. I also had to deal with my own life. It’s a juggling act that I really don’t think is feasible nor healthy. Teaching is downright HARD. It left me feeling drained emotionally, physically and mentally every single day. Anyone who thinks it’s “easy” or glamorous needs a reality check. My schools had lead in the pipes, no AC, no heat in my room for 3 years, mold in the ventilation system and constant rodent issues. Not ideal working or learning conditions by any means. I could go on another rant about the education system & it’s socioeconomic discrimination. We’ll save that for another day. 

These battles were things that they didn’t teach me in college. I had to navigate this new world on my own. I am proud of myself for sticking with it for so long. But there comes a point when teachers need to think about their own needs first. I knew that I was at a crossroads three years ago. I either needed to get the hell out of teaching or at least switch to a different area of the district. At the time, the right thing for me was to switch schools and areas of Minneapolis. I switched to a school in South Minneapolis. The last three years have simmered down tremendously from my days over North but I still felt that void, the hole in my soul. I wondered what else was out there and what else I could do.

It’s really scary to leave everything you know and take a leap of faith into something entirely new, but an opportunity arose and I had to try. I owed myself that much. I told myself that if it was meant to be it would work out and that it did! I have previous experience from while I was in college and even high school that I know will help me in my new role. I am excited and feel refreshed. I truly feel like this is my time to shine in something new.

A new decade filled with new healthy adventures.

JULY FAVORITE FINDS

Welcome to the July edition of my favorite finds. This is basically a post I do each month with any fun finds I have purchased recently. This month is loaded with 15 awesome finds. Anything available online will be linked. Hopefully, you find something new to try! Enjoy!

#1 – Universal Threads Leopard Clutch: $14.99 at Target. This one is unfortunately not offered online at the moment, so you’ll have to go stalk your local Target to snag one. I had been seeing these all over IG and knew I had to track one down. They have a few different colors but obviously, I opted for the leopard version. It is great because it will work with brown & black outfits. LOVE LOVE LOVE.

# 2 – A New Day Black Sleeveless Dress: $14.99 at Target. I wore this when traveling to Denver and it was perfect. It is super lightweight & stretchy. Pure Comfy.

#3 – Fake Grass Plants: $13.99 for two from Amazon. This is my second set of these babies. I just love how bright & bold the green is. They are nice quality & are prefect for adding a little pop of color.

#4 – Apple Watch Band: $12.99 from Amazon. I love this watch band! It is even better looking in person. The pics definitely don’t do justice. The color is the perfect shade of brown. It has held up really well too.

#5 – Lunch Box: $22.99 from Amazon. I am obsessed with cute lunch bags! I was looking for something large enough to fit my ice pack, meal prep container and a couple water bottles. This bag literally fits all that and still has room! If you need something large/tall, this is perfect. I loved the pattern too! The brown bag pictured below with the lunch box, is also on this list!

#6 – Lanyard: $12.50 from Etsy. I was looking for a cute everyday lanyard for work. The fabric is super soft. I am sure there are other colors/styles, this was my fave though.

#7 – Neighborhood Typography City Map Print: $45 from Etsy. There are different cities, sizes and colors to choose from. I got this for Alex so I got his hometown, DC in black. I ordered the 18×24 size and then framed it myself once it came. It is super cool looking in person. Great art find!

#8 – Leopard High Waisted Swimsuit: $17.99 per piece at Target. I can’t control my impulses with anything leopard print. These were my first high waisted bottoms and bralette top. Love this style!

#9 – K Mug: on sale for $4.99 at Target. Who doesn’t love a good coffee mug. This is so my style. White, Gold & Flowers = PERFECTION. There’s one of my fake grass plants at work too! I have them everywhere, HA!

#10 – Calvin Klein Ruffle Sleeve A Line Dress: $134 at Macy’s. There is not much to say except, OBSESSED. I absolutely love this color & style. I am a pretty petite woman and I fit perfectly in a size 2.

#11 – Way Better Snacks Avocado Ranch Tortilla Chips: $3.99 at Target. THESE, my friends, are the bomb.com – They are SO tasty. I don’t even dip them in anything because they are packed with flavor already. There are a few different flavors but these are my go to’s.

#12 – Sole Society Large Winged Tote: on sale for $34.98 at Sole Society. This is my new work bag and I absolutely love it. It has so many compartments and pockets to hold all my stuff but keep it organized. I took the long cross body strap off and just use the straps attached to it.

# 13 – Rice Cakes & Almond Butter: from any grocery store but of course I get mine at Target. This is seriously my new obsession. They are SO GOOD. I have been going with the Vanilla Almond Butter lately but also like the Maple. If you are in a snack or breakfast rut, look no further!

#14 – Califia Farms Pecan Caramel Almondmilk Creamer: $4.89 at Target. I am back on the coffee train so naturally I needed to find a “clean’ish” creamer for added flavor. This is super good and not too bad for you.

#15 – Blenders Sunglasses (North Park Style): $48 at Blenders Eyewear. You may recall I featured a different color a few months ago (Rose Theater) … I really loved those and got a birthday coupon so I ordered up another pair. This is the Sahara Dust color.

CERVICAL CANCER

Many of you who follow me on social media or who are friends with me in person know bits & pieces about what’s been going on in my life the last year. A handful of people know all the details. I have not felt comfortable sharing this at all for almost an entire year. It has been extremely difficult for me to wrap my brain around and I have felt all sorts of feelings. From guilt & shame to anger & confusion. I’ve been downright sad too. I wasn’t sure I’d be able to ever talk about this all, much less blog about it but lately, I have felt compelled to spread knowledge about it all. None of this is my fault and it is what it is at this point.

I think it literally has taken me this long to accept what’s going on. I have an appointment in a couple of weeks that has also been heavy on my mind & heart. I tend to process things for a super long time, internalize things and deeply analyze everything. I think with the one year mark looming over me (next week) and this upcoming appointment, my brain has started to focus on this more again and prepare for the different things that might happen at my next appointment in two weeks. I decided to post something on social media about this last week on my birthday. It was surprisingly therapeutic & freeing. I felt like my secret was out for the world to know. I didn’t feel shame but rather a huge weight lifted off me. Cancer is nothing new to me. Those of you who follow my blog and went to high school with me know what I’m talking about. There have been more kids from Tartan and Oakdale sick with cancer than I’d care to count. It’s sickening.

So here is my story to date:

July 11, 2018 … I went to my regular every three year Pap smear appointment … never have missed a gyno appointment. My last one checked out perfect when I was 27 so not a single thought in my mind was expecting something to be off. The physical exam went well and visually she said everything looked great and I was on my way. Pap results take about a week to get. Usually, they mail the results if they are normal so I knew something was up when I got a call from a nurse a week later. She told me over the phone that my pap was abnormal (which she said happens all the time) and another shocker, I tested positive for HPV. I think my jaw hit the floor. I knew very little about HPV besides that I received the vaccine when I was much younger. To me, it sounded like a super scary std. I was more concerned about this news than the abnormal pap at this point. After doing some heavy reading and research, I realized HPV is extremely popular. The CDC claims that nearly all sexually active men and women get the virus at some point in their lives. Most people won’t ever know they have it because there are not many symptoms, most people clear the infection on their own and it typically never turns into anything more. Even couples in a monogamous relationship can contract this. It doesn’t mean someone cheated either. It can lie dormant in your body for years. There are different strains and this first nurse told me I didn’t have the cancer-causing kind – at least that’s what I remember hearing … I was in a state of shock I think on the phone. So I was trying to tell myself that this would be nothing and my body would clear the infection on its own. I had to schedule a colposcopy for August 14, 2018. I was terrified. Basically, this is an in-depth Pap smear where they use iodine to stain your cervix to see abnormal cells with a colposcope. My plan was to tell them I did NOT want any unnecessary biopsies right now. I read online not everyone needs biopsies at these and I was going to suggest waiting a year and re-Pap smear test to see if I cleared it on my own and healed. I felt confident with this plan as I went into this appointment. I read a lot about doctors over biopsy’ing and I really don’t like a lot of Western medicine practices. I tried explaining this to the nurse when I got there and she told me the doctor I have is pretty aggressive and biopsies 99% of the time. Urgh. I talked to the nurse and doctor and decided I would be “open” to doing a biopsy once she had looked inside and could confirm it was necessary. I thought it can’t be that bad. I can do this.

The speculum is the same and the iodine made me feel a slight burning sensation. I get grossed out of blood and medical stuff really easily. I was trying to remain calm. She was thinking it would be CIN1, which is very low grade and nothing to worry about right now. My Pap results only picked up something slightly abnormal. The doctors started the exam and told me it looks “awful” on the outside of my cervix and she’s certain it’s CIN3 and she’s going to start biopsying … mind you I’m lying in this sterile room with someone examining my most private parts and I’m trying to process what the fuck she just said. I was so caught off guard here. Then she starts taking pieces of my cervix out … 5 biopsies in all and large ones at that. I was so mortified and almost passed out … they went running to get me a cold rag and orange juice which I dropped all over myself because I was shaking so bad. Each time she took a sample I got these absolutely insane waves of cramps that took my breath away. Add on the nauseous feeling and tears and it was a mess. I felt like I couldn’t even hear what she was saying, everything was foggy & muted. She said when we get the results from this we will know what my plan will be. She started talking about how a hysterectomy could be an option … that’s when I just started sobbing … like what in the actual fuck. My mind was not mentally prepared to hear all of this today. I was bleeding from these biopsies and dripping out coffee grind looking things that they used to cauterize it. I went home and could not function. Like for real. I was sobbing non-stop for at least 24 hours. It was BAD. Every type of thought was racing through my mind. I was sore and had cramps too. It was a really rough few days.

Sure enough, she calls me a few days later (longest wait ever) and says it was indeed extreme CIN3 and she wants to take it out immediately because a large portion of my cervix was covered in these cells. CIN3 is also referred to as stage 0 cervical cancer. If left as is and untreated it’s almost guaranteed at this stage the cells WILL invade inside the cervix and spread quickly turning into higher stages of cervical cancer that can kill you. Considering my last pap three years ago showed nothing and visually a month before at my Pap appointment nothing was spotted with the naked eye, she was really concerned that it could be aggressively multiplying.

At first I didn’t like this doctor because she was sort of sarcastic and I just don’t do well with people like that. I need more nurturing and loving people. After the colposcopy where I was sobbing she even told me in a “joking” way that I need to stop crying because I made her late for her next appointment. That rubbed me the wrong way. After having time to think about it though and discuss with my mom and some friends, I realized that I really don’t need to be her best friend or think her humor is funny. I need her to save my life. I need her to make medical decisions that help me get rid of this monster. I also spoke with her in detail on the phone one day and she blew me away with how smart she was. That’s certainly a quality you want your doctor/surgeon to have. She admitted she was aggressive in her approaches but she also boasted that she has the best survival rate out of all the doctors on her team. I trusted her at this point and felt the most comfortable proceeding with her because she knew me and my history by now. I decided to stick with her.

The plan was to have a LEEP procedure on October 3, 2018. LEEP stands for Loop Electrosurgical Excision Procedure. During a LEEP, a thin wire loop is used to cut out the abnormal tissue. Your cervix is then cauterized to stop any bleeding. It usually heals in 4 to 6 weeks. I had to wait about a month and a half at this point and that was REALLY hard for me. The “what ifs” constantly bombarded my thoughts. I joined some Facebook support groups so I could read about other women’s experiences. This was sometimes helpful and sometimes it made things much worse. There are some really scary things online and you have to take everything with a grain of salt. I ended up having to stop following and getting updates because it was really messing with my mind to read about this constantly. I stayed in the group though to be able to only use the “search” feature to look up certain things. The days passed slowly but surely. It was finally LEEP day.

My doctor prescribed me a Valium to take before this procedure because of how things went last time and how high my anxiety had been about this all. I woke up early and took that and got ready to tackle yet another obstacle. Alex brought me to this appointment and I am really thankful for him. I kept waiting to feel like this over the top calm from the Valium but never did. I will say I think it did work though because overall I felt more at ease. I did not have to be put out for this. They numbed it and honestly that shot hurt quite a bit and then I got that rush feeling. I decided to bring my headphones for this appointment and made a special playlist. I told them I didn’t want to talk or hear about anything until they were done. That would help me not pass out. At the biopsy, appointment she even offered to take my cell phone and take a picture of my bloody cervix for me. UM, NO. JUST NO. There was a machine hooked up with the LEEP wires. When they turned it on it was pretty loud. There happened to be a student nurse there that day. Bless her soul, she ended up holding my hand during the procedure. I turned my music up insanely loud and just sobbed the entire time. It didn’t take that long and the numbing shot really helped the pain. I would say this was MUCH BETTER than the colposcopy & biopsy procedures. She ended up taking 1/4 of my cervix out that day.

The biopsies were larger and thicker than the colposcopy ones. We would be able to see how deep it was and if my margins came back clean. If so, that would mean she got it all out. I had an appointment in another month where I would get these results. So back to the waiting game it was. If you haven’t read my Anxiety post, you should. This is about the point in time where my life went haywire. I really lost my shit and felt so fucked up from this all. I tried anxiety meds and that was horrible. I just didn’t know what to do. What to think. Who I could confide in & talk to. The physical healing was pretty rough too. It took a full 6 weeks before I felt near normal.

Over time I began healing mentally and physically. I was slowly returning to my old self. One day I got to thinking that there really is not a whole lot I can control right now with this, but I can control my diet. So I started researching the Alkaline Diet and reading about how foods can kill cancer. I went kind of balls to the walls with this for a while and then slowly backed off. I would like to go hard on this again actually. I just think we can do a lot with our diet and even our minds to create a stress-free healthy environment in our bodies where cancer can’t survive. I prefer more holistic approaches and this was something I could do on my own.

Anyway, I had my follow up with the doctor and got my results from the LEEP procedure. MY MARGINS WERE CLEAN! She confirmed that she got everything she possibly could, which was a lot. Now it was up to my body to start producing normal healthy cells again. She said this took time. I would need to wait until next July to get checked. This would ensure an accurate reading because of the amount of time. URGH. Just what I love … looming appointments and long periods of time. NOT. She checked how I was healing from the LEEP and she said it was healing the way it was supposed to. Apparently, sometimes it heals towards the outside which creates scars but mine was turning inside which was good. ALSO! It had NOT spread inside of my cervix based on the LEEP results. THANK GOD. This was really good news. I got all GOOD news. I felt REALLY blessed that things were looking up.

I went on living my life this past Spring and really trying not to obsess over this. I feel like I am at a place where I have accepted this all. I am slightly nervous for the appointment on July 23rd but I know it’s out of my hands at this point. I am praying that everything comes back normal. My doctor did tell me though, and I quote, “this is something that will haunt you the rest of your life”. She said that she sees it a lot where at the one year point maybe a woman gets a normal pap but then again in another year it’s abnormal again … it can go back and forth and will most likely be something I am always worried about and watching. Once I know the results then we can make a new game plan. It will probably be like this for a while … watch, wait, test, come up with a new plan, repeat.

Now that this news is out there for the world to see, I will be more public about updating you all on my status. Everyone’s story and journey is different with this disease. This is only my own experience and thoughts. I know there are people struggling far more than what I have dealt with. I also want to add that I’m very thankful for things throughout this journey too. I have a job with excellent health insurance so I never had to worry about that piece. I’m thankful for an amazing doctor and science. I’m also thankful that women’s preventative care is easily accessible. I’m grateful that it was at stage 0 too. Had I skipped that appointment, there’s a very good chance things would not be looking so optimistic for me. It’s good to keep it all in perspective but also cut yourself some slack. There is no right way to deal with this and navigate these waters. I ask that you don’t skip your preventative care appointments … even if you prefer a more holistic approach to things, it’s still important to know what’s going on inside of your body. If you have struggled with anything similar please reach out. I am finding it to be really therapeutic to talk to others who have been in this position. There’s something really taboo about this subject, especially hpv, and there should NOT be. I think it’s really good to start talking about this stuff with one another!