Bachelor’s of Science 

This past May I walked across the stage at Texas Tech University and accepted my diploma after five years of intense work, tears, and way too much stress. My undergraduate started in Fall 2010 when I took a few dual-credit classes to prep me for the years ahead. I entered McLennan Community College (MCC) as a full time student in Fall of 2011 after earning my high school diploma (with honors). I continued to live at home and work part time as a waitress and a babysitter. I was inducted to Phi Theta Kappa after my first semester for my grade point average and hard work.

In Fall of 2012, I moved to Austin to attend The University of Texas at Austin. I was accepted into the school of nursing, but switched (due to the anxiety of the competiveness of the program) to a nutrition major. I worked part time as a nanny and completed a few classes, but I grew too depressed to continue on. This was one of the worst times dealing with my depression. I became suicidal and questioned my life therefore, I returned home after the semester and took the following spring semester off to deal with my mental health. I began seeing a psychologist every week and focused on my health and diet (as I put back all the weight I lost and more due to the extreme mental agony).

Summer 2013, I returned to classes online and went back full time to MCC. I lost the weight I had gained previously to get in the best shape of my life. I got my first long-time job as a Client Service Coordinator at Banfield Pet Hospital and my GPA went back up! In May 2014 I earned two associates with honors (AA & AS).
After attending full time in the summer to get all my prerequisites finished up, I transferred to Texas Tech University as a Biology major and a Chemistry minor. I enjoyed my first year full of exciting science classes and excelled academically, but I began having health issues. I had unexplained faintness, rapid heartbeat, and chronic gastrointestinal problems. In September 2014, my heart went into atrial fibrillation and it had to be cardioverted back into rhythm after IV drugs did not work. I also began having intese allergic reactions and anaphylaxis which lead to my diagnosis of Mast Cell Activation Disorder.

Despite suffering from these issues, I was on a great path until summer of 2015. I quit my job because I was discriminated against for having depression and anxiety that did NOT interfere with my job. I was targeted by the head veterinarian (who was pretentious) along with another girl I worked alongside (she was the only black employee and she also was having a tough time). We were both basically treated unfairly and made to quit. I was told if I didn’t quit, I would be placed on leave without pay. We were thinking about getting lawyers involved for discrimination, but as anxiety goes, we both dropped it. This is when I began getting increasingly ill and I didn’t know what was wrong with me. I started having brain fog and trouble with words and times (which is maybe why they thought my depression interfered with the job, only it wasn’t my depression at all).


That summer I attended classes full time and worked part time as a veterinarian assistant, but this is when I started having extreme problems (hence the archives start here!). Some of the symptoms I began experiencing was muscle weakness, slurred speech, confusion and brain fog, daily headaches, migraines, loss of balance and coordination, and horrible neck and back pain. The pain was so intense I would lay on the floor crying. I started seeing multiple doctors (even at the emergency clinic). I was told that it must just be a muscle sprain over and over again. As my symptoms progressed, I was let go from my job for fear that I may get hurt. I got several images taken: X-ray, CT scan, and MRI. I was told everything was normal. Luckily I had my dad on my side and we would not give up until I had an answer. I got my hands on the actual MRI report which stated: patient has a herniation of the cerebellar tonsils; something my doctor did not think was important to mention to me. I made an appointment to talk to her and she said that shouldn’t affect me at all because “my flow was good.”

Arnold-Chiari Malformation: “structural defects in the cerebellum. That’s the part of the brain that controls balance.”

She insisted that I just needed a psych referral and basically disregarded my physical concerns, needless to say I fired her. I fought hard for a consult with a “Chiari Expert.” My dad actually found a doctor in Houston that specialized in neurology and did posterior fossa decompressions as part of treating Chiari symptoms. I made an appointment with him and had severe issues having my insurance cover it. My dad offered to pay out of pocket for one appointment; we arrived, cash in hand, only to be told that was incorrect and they didn’t take payment from the patient (only insurance companies). My dad begged for them to see me, seeing how badly my symptoms were progressing, but we were turned away. He didn’t stop until he talked to the insurance representatives and they agreed to cover an appointment.

C44FF737-AECB-4473-8662-4130BB062887_zpsmenbzlbu

I finally met Dr. Parish in November and he immediately diagnosed me with Chiari Malformation. My hands and feet were numb due to the lack of proper flow of the spinal fluid cord and he assured me that he could successfully complete the operation with a good chance of aiding or resolving some symptoms. On December 9th, 2015, I under went brain surgery to correct my defect. I had a leg graft taken to be placed in the back of my skull to allow more room for the cerebellar spinal fluid (CSF) to flow. This was an extremely hard time for me as I finished my semester only days before having to be operated on. That semester was truly a grueling one; I had to battle ongoing symptoms of the defect while having to focus on school. The brain fog was immense and it was hard for me to concentrate and memorize. This was the start of working harder than everyone to maintain my grades. In addition to all of this, my grandmother passed away in November only a couple weeks before my operation, but I made it through.

I tried to use my winter break to recover. I signed up for Spring classes foolishly. I was so eager to stay on the path to graduation which was planned for December 2016. After making it all the way through April, it became too much for me to deal with. I wasn’t used to studying after the operation, which is thought to be a Traumatic Brain Injury because of the invasiveness and the aftermath. I couldn’t cope with my confusion. Although my numbness and slurred speech improved, I had much difficult thinking of the right words, staying on a schedule, and had a horrible memory. The pain, which I thought had been resolved (probably masked by the incision pain?), reappeared in March. I made the choice to medically withdraw. My anxiety was incredibly high because I had never had such problems with school as I did that semester.

That summer I had so many life changes. My previous relationship ended and I met Caleb. I questioned my ability to go through another year of school, but I pushed forward. I ran into financial issues as I had to find out the hard way that financial aid is hard. I returned to school in August 2016, determined that it would be my last fall semester. I changed my minor from chemistry to health professions because I would have had to stay an extra semester for one class and I had had enough! I somehow made it through a grueling semester in which I moved and made some serious changes.

January 2017 I started my last semester at Texas Tech, extremely terrified at the course load. I’ll admit that I’m terrible at chemistry and had to buckle down to pass. I somehow managed to make it through despite facing some discrimination along the way (short story: my chemistry teacher blew up on me for forgetting how to set up and apparatus). The months were the slowest of my life. They dragged on and on and I counted the days I had left. I finished my last final on May 12th; that feeling of waking up the day after and coming to the realization I don’t have to endure this repetitive cycle of driving 72 miles back and forth to school and constantly stressing over attendance (that’s what chronic illness does) and proficiency (grades!) is over… it’s liberating, the best feeling in the world! I can’t believe I did it. Over 5 years of hard work with so many challenges and setbacks. I’ve done it! I drove to Lubbock alongside my mom, Caleb, and Dianne to accept my Bachelor’s of Science on May 19th!

So what now? Where will my life take me? I’ve spent this past month applying for jobs left and right, in hope that the perfect one will arise and be interested in my education and experience. I’ve been looking at administration jobs because I know with my chronic pain and conditions, a standing job isn’t ideal. I’ve been working hard this month: exercising, eating healthy, and attending appointments (neurology, allergy, and my PCM to manage my care). I ended up in the ER late May after some terrifying symptoms (numb and blue limbs, confusion/brain fog [worse than usual], feeling faint, & low blood pressure) occurred. It was concluded that I had complex migraine (how can this turn your limbs blue with the blood pooling?) and I got a referral for neurology to see why I am having chronic migraines and neurological issues. The ER doctor said that he saw an old lesion on my cerebellum, which makes me wonder if it is a result of the decompression or something completely different. I fainted a couple weeks later and experienced rapid heart beat upon standing, so a referral to cardiology was put in as well. Praying that I can get these symptoms under control!

Managing my health and upcoming career is stressful to think about, not to mention my endless wedding planning for our upcoming October “I dos.” I often think about my future life and what it will turn out to be. I’ve always wanted to be a mother, but I never thought chronic illness would affect me so much. I just need a steady career and some more answers and/or treatments to manage my defect and diseases. Right now I’m battling my thyroid disease as my medication needs to be adjusted (my synthyroid dose is too low). I just found this out on Friday after my biopsy consult. My doctor that had ordered this test had my results and said nothing (why you have to investigate yourself!). No wonder I’ve been feeling so sluggish, run down, and hungry. Despite working out and eating healthy, I’m not losing any weight! So many times I haven’t been informed of my test results, which is why now I will request a copy!

Here’s to my crazy life ahead (post-undergraduate)! Let’s see where life leads me! Congratulations to the Class of 2017!

Xo,

Cass

Originality

Some of my past readers may have noticed that I “revamped” my blog and change a few thing around, but that doesn’t change the fact that this my personal blog and I use it to talk about my struggles with severe depression and anxiety, my Chiari Malformation diagnosis. I think most people are terrified that they are alone and so if this can give my readers a sense of unification or understanding, then my job is done.

So many things have occurred since I last chimed in. First of all, I have a “new” position at the same job as a dog bather. I basically wash and deshed (which is a number of hair removing techniques),  brush teeth, clean ears, brush out, remove mats, and give pawdicures to lovely (mostly, although some are plain assholes) little and HUGE doggies. I like this position better because I don’t have to put as much stress on my neck and back as I did as a playroom attendant. I also feel like my job does have purpose. I got to make an adoptee Dalmatian mix all pretty in hopes of getting adopted and a freshly adopted Chow mix a deshed and brush after being severely neglected. My shift hours are also amazing for my chronic pain. I work 10 am – 3:30/4pm, which gives me enough time to sleep in and prepare myself for the shift and also allows me to have time to relax and unwind when I get home. I usually come home and lay on my heat pad for a couple hours. I work Monday-Friday, which is great, as well, because I get the weekend off to spend with my mom, but also having a schedule is good for my depression and anxiety.

I have slacked off a bit in Mav’s training, but we have come LEAPS and BOUNDS since my last post. I had a severe major depression episode and was completely upset after having some really hard personal news hit. I was shaking and wishing that I was not here. I finally let Mavis out and she immediately came over and laid on my upper arm by my face and just stayed still. I didn’t teach this to her at all, but she knew that her mom needed her help. She did so amazing and I felt like all my training had been justified. I also took her with me to a psychologist appointment and she did wonderful! She remembered her blanket commands and sat on her blanket and ignored the door opening! She had little slip ups in the hour long appointment: barking at a plant, falling asleep, and being a little restless. She tooted and snored in the room and my therapist couldn’t help but laugh.

I’ve been trying to cope recently with my chronic pain and anxiety. Today was very difficult in terms of pain. The back of my head had a weird pressure feeling right where my cerebral tonsils are (where my surgical incision is). I also had bad neck and back pain and weird muscle cramping. I thought about asking to go home early, but stuck it out. I got home and used my heat pad for about two hours straight. Tomorrow I am heading to Lubbock for my cousin’s wedding and will be taking my best little pug with me. She won’t be going to the actual wedding because she isn’t that ready to be in public. I get very anxious around event like these. A lot of people make me extremely anxious and then also being judged around family is a worrisome of mine. Hopefully all goes well.

Thanks for staying with us!

xo,

Cass & Mav

EDS

This past week has been an especially difficult one. I worked Monday thru Friday, which as a part time employee is a rarity. Getting through the week is an achievement for me with the much needed reward of a weekend of rest (for the most part, minus chores). I talked to my NS and it has been concluded that I need to have genetic testing done to determine if I have any underlying conditions. One suspect in mind is Ehlers-Danlos Syndrome.

Ehlers-Danlos syndrome is a group of disorders that affect the connective tissues that support the skin, bones, blood vessels, and many other organs and tissues. Defects in connective tissues cause the signs and symptoms of Ehlers-Danlos syndrome, which vary from mildly loose joints to life-threatening complications.

U.S. National Library of Medicine

After talking at length with several members of my Chiari support group, it was suggested that I may be suffering from Ehlers-Danlos Syndrome (EDS) and that my Chiari might actually be a secondary condition caused by the EDS. I have suffered from frequent dislocations and sprains since the age of ten without much of answer as why. I have hypermobility of my joints and my skin has always been very smooth, but I generally develop keloids when healing from surgical incisions.

2954e9c7c76810462d1563577ef1f45c
(source)

One condition that EDS can cause is Craniocervical Instability (CCI), or the instability of the craniocervical junction due to the lack of connective tissue support. The condition mainly occurs from repetitive stretch injuries of the neck (which can cause Chiari Malformation, nerve dysfunction, thickened odontoid capsule, retroflexed odontoid, and cranial settling [source]). Unfortunately EDS can only be managed and there are no definite treatments. CCI, however, may be helped drastically with a craniocervical fusion where the skull would be pulled upward into the correct position.

I’m not sure what the future holds for me. I have an appointment with the rheumatologist for additional testing on July 18th and I will be tested for EDS along with other rheumatic diseases to see why I am having this chronic pain. For now, I am back to wearing a soft cervical collar when I am not at work. It’s not the most fashionable of things, but it does provide a bit of relief. If you have to wear a cervical collar, too, you might want to try a collar to snazz your look up.

xo,

Cass

Mavi’s Must-Haves

Mavi's Must-Haves

 

animated_pink_heart_divider_by_gasara-d5hgo0z
When first deciding to get a puppy, it can be quite difficult to determine what he or she needs and what will make life easier for the both of you. I made a list of items that I ended up purchasing for Mavis and will reveal what has and hasn’t worked.
animated_pink_heart_divider_by_gasara-d5hgo0z
Crates and Beds
Puppies are so full of energy and deciding where they are going to sleep and be during most of the day needs a lot of analyzing. For Mav, I bought a small pink crate for the purposes of a comfy sleeping place and for potty crate training. Most people discipline their puppy with crated time outs, but it’s important that the puppy associates the crate with more than just a form of punishment. We want puppy to recognize that the crate is a safe place that they can go to relax. That’s why I put it in a comfortable space next to my bed (being in a familiar area, not secluded is key). Mav doesn’t get nearly as upset when she can see her momma and knows I’m close by. When choosing the size of the crate, of course, you want to accomodate the puppy’s growing size, but you also need to consider if the crate is going to be where you leave the puppy when you are not home. If it is, then the crate should be placed in a gated off tile-floored area, especially if you are gone for several hours. This way, your little one can potty, get water/food, and play while you are out of the house. Upon brining Mavis home, I used the round faux-shearling cup bed to transport her and she loved it!  She still uses her bed to relax in, although I keep an eye on her when she is using this one because Mav loves to dig and chew on her bed.
13092402_164667847264219_210061480_n
 animated_pink_heart_divider_by_gasara-d5hgo0z
Toys and Activities
On to the TOYS. Mavi’s favorite subject. I bought her a variety of different toys, although I already had a few from our other dog, Eli and cat, Oliver. Mavis loves her small Kong stuffies! Elmer the Elephant and Ali the Alligator are often her go to durable babies. Her all time favorite toys are her pink Nylabone that I keep in her carseat and her mini Ewok toy (they seem to be out of the Ewok cat toy edition, but here is the Chewbacca version)! I purchase the cat toys because they are more suited for her size, but avoid cat nip and feathers! The Kong rope toy and Nylabone teething ring do not seem to keep her interest for long, so I wouldn’t have purchased these had I known that beforehand, but every dog is different and your baby might love them. The teething ring is also really hard! I thought it would have been somewhat soft and rubbery, but it’s just hard plastic, another reason why I don’t think she is fond of it.  I love hiding Ziggies (although after the second bag, I moved to cheaper alternatives) and other treats into her Kong and she loves trying to get them out! This will keep your pup busy for a while, which is always appreciated and it challenges your pup with the promise of a tasty reward. Mav also loves playing with a little stuffed pug my boyfriend got for me when we first started dating and tennis balls! My mom recently gifted a cat tunnel that splits into three ways and both Mavis and Oliver are big fans!
 animated_pink_heart_divider_by_gasara-d5hgo0z
Potty Training
For housebreaking I wanted to get a pad holder basically so it would be easier for her to identify where she should go potty, but furthermore so she refrains from shredding or flipping her pads over. Sometimes this works and sometimes she loves to chew at the snap hands until it unsnaps and she get to the pad (to shred). She is a master at shredding pads. Make sure to make notice what size the pad holder is, so you can correspond with the right size potty pads. I fold the edges of my potty pads up to tuck the ends in. I always keep some Nature’s Miracle Urine Destroyer for carpet mistakes. I learned the hard way the using pee pads isn’t a great idea for puppy to potty train because towel, rugs, and carpets feel too similar and Mav got confused. I do not punish her for going in the wrong spot, but now just immediately pick her up if she is going or about to go and walk her outside. Your puppy shouldn’t associate going to the bathroom with you yelling at them, otherwise they may hide from you and then go (making sneaky hidden messes). Also, rubbing their noses in their accidents is also discouraged because puppies have such a short memory span and are so young that they do not associate why you are punishing them and will become fearful.  I bought a pooper scooper with the fear that she, like most puppies, would want to eat her and Eli’s poop, but luckily I was blessed with just a sniffer (the sniff to see if this is mine and run). I think it is something good to have on hand if you like to have backyard get-togethers in order to clean the area beforehand. Poop should be immediately picked up if the little one is indulging in this mysterious and nasty habit. It is really important to discourage puppy from this behavior as it can spread parasites and illnesses. I eventually want to try to use the tinkle bells to help teach Mav to ring the bell when she needs to go outside, but we have yet to cross that bridge with all that is going on.
 animated_pink_heart_divider_by_gasara-d5hgo0z
Health
Keeping Mavis healthy is one of my main priorities and having worked at a vet clinic for over two years, I know quite a lot about different products. First off, deciding on a food for puppy can be challenging when there are so many options and all the brands claim they are the best. The veterinarians I have worked for have only backed the brands Hill’s Science Diet, Royal Canin, and IAMS for puppies as their formulas are overall the best on the market and provide the perfect nutritional balance. For Mavi, I went with Hill’s Science Diet Small & Toy Breed Puppy food. It is so important to get puppy food for a puppy (versus Adult food, etc.) to meet their special nutritional needs. Feed BY the bag and not by what you think is enough to prevent over or under feeding. Avoid self feeders, as many dogs gorge themselves, leading to obesity. This also doesn’t provide a well set schedule for puppy.
I also recommend getting puppy grooming supplies. Puppies and dogs have different pH levels than humans, so buying them shampoo specified by their species is important. I decided to go with Burt’s Bees Puppy Shampoo because their cruelty free and I, myself, use Burt’s Bees for some of my grooming needs. I also purchased a dremel to keep Mav’s nails smooth. Puppies have super sharp nails usually, so the dremel can really help if you know how to use it. If you don’t know how, I recommend either youtube or asking your groomer/veterinarian if they could show you. Having a basic ear cleaner on hand is also recommended to keep puppy’s ears clean and free of debris. I clean Mavi’s ears twice a month to prevent the dreaded stinky ear infections and buildup. I recommend only using cotton balls, as Q-tips can potentially be shoved deep in the ear canal and can hurt the puppy’s ears.
Dental care is one of the most common issues that pet owners forget about, but it is so important if you want a long life for your best friend. If dental care is neglected, eventually your pal can and will get periodontal disease which can spread through the bloodstream and cause a number of serious health issues! I wanted to get Mav prepared early, although puppy’s teeth are usually in great condition and don’t need much help until they are 1.5-2 years old. I bough a toothbrush to help aid in getting Mav used to the teeth brushing habit. Ideally brushing your pet’s teeth three times a week is preferred (seems like too much, but it can save a lot of money in the end and it is good for your pup!) Dental chews are also highly recommended. I buy some veterinary recommended chews with enzymes added to help breakdown plaque.
Pugs and other flat faced breeds have short snouts and their noses can become very dry (as they are “smushed” in), therefore nose butter is a good idea to use weekly. The Blissful Dog has nose butter specially made for pugs in various sizes to cure the chapped blues. I also clean Mav’s face wrinkles with unscented baby wipes to avoid any hidden debris or dirt from building up and causing infections.
 animated_pink_heart_divider_by_gasara-d5hgo0z
Training Necessities
Since Mav is training to be a service dog, I have a vest for her that reads Service Dog In Training and has her name embroidered on it, a leash cover that is used to warn off strangers from distracting Mav from her duties, and an awesome patch to educate the ignorant. To aid in training I use a Rapid Rewards training pouch to have quick and easy access to rewards for a job well done. Along with the pouch, tasty treats are also recommended (sparingly) alongside their regular kibble. I found these treats that are moist and one of my little one’s favorites. I also purchased these, but they were too large to use as rapid rewards, so I had to cut them in half beforehand. They also are rather hard and difficult for Mav to chew. Because Mavis goes with me to so many different places via car ride, I wanted to maximize her safety. In some countries it is illegal to have an animal that is unsecured in the car! I bought her, her very own booster car seat that allows me to clip her in by the harness (sold separately) into a little seat/basket which attaches to the car’s seat. It also come with little pockets in the front that I keep toys in that keep her occupied (so that she won’t chew on the safety belt). I feel safer knowing that Mav won’t go flying through the windshield should there ever be an accident. You might think this is a little excessive, but I saw a case last year that made me more aware of pet safety: a pet mom and her furry friend were in a serious car accident. The pup broke his neck and had to be euthanized after suffering for over twenty-four hours (the neighbor had taken him to the emergency vet on the night of the car accident, who didn’t notice the broken neck. The next day the neighbor brought him into the clinic I was working in with complaints that something was not right with him and he was not walking, eating, or drinking). I also bought and extra seatbelt for when I am traveling in someone else’s car. This allows her to be safely buckled in without a special seat for her to sit in.
13118324_256670901350082_1549609956_n
animated_pink_heart_divider_by_gasara-d5hgo0z
Identification
Last but not least, the basic necessities: collars, leashes, and tags. I originally purchase this collar as it was cheap and durable, but Mav was so tiny, that I had to get a temporary kitten collar for her to use until last week. I already had an extra leash from Petsmart, so there was no need to get a new one. Finally because I have such high anxiety about social situations, I ordered my tags online along with a super cute strawberry bell. All my items I purchased online through Amazon (choose smile.amazon.com to donate a percentage to your chosen charity. I chose People Hope), with the exception of a few items I bought at Walmart and Petco.
 animated_pink_heart_divider_by_gasara-d5hgo0z
I hope that this will help make puppy decisions easier. If you have any questions or concerns, feel free to ask!
xo,
Cass & Mavis
Dividers made by Laura Hunt

New Leaf.

Turning over a new leaf is always a difficult task, but one that I have been faced with. After completing almost three months of school, I was devastated to realize I had to withdraw from my classes. Not only was I suffering with severe anxiety (that has gotten worse since my operation) and depression, but my memory is getting even worse. I am having problems recalling times, dates, and with my school work: even the most basic of terms, which has caused a great decline in my grades. After talking to my doctor, he determined I should withdraw because I was basically over doing it and could potentially threaten my recovery. I have now been out of school for a little over a week. While it is comforting, knowing that I don’t have to stress over assignments and tests, although I am still enrolled in my last Spanish class, I am disappointed that I couldn’t keep up with the semester and that I won’t be graduating this year. I have to take back control of my health, so a neuropathologist is in order to get my cognitive function tested. I’m not sure what results will show, but maybe going through some therapy (such as speech therapy, etc.) will aid me in recovering some of prior abilities. In addition to dealing with my “brain issues,” I have to test out several medications in order to help me with my a&d. I have tried so many different ones, that I’m becoming a bit exhausted and hopeless that I will ever find something that works.Screen Shot 2016-01-06 at 9.41.35 PMI have to report some ups amongst my many downs. First and foremost, I have a new addition in my life: Mavis. Mavis (pronounce Mahv-is, not Mae-vis) Odessa is my twelve-week-old Puglet, who is the light of my life. My parents and my boyfriend all went in to gift me my tiny biff for my 23rd birthday. From about the age of six-years-old, I have obsessed over the idea of having a pug. My parents were always against it, so it never became, until now. We first met her on February 6th and then picked her up on March 6th. I am currently training little Mav to be my service dog with the help of Lelah Sullivan’s book and hopefully Service Dog Express (whom I’ve contacted and will hear back within two weeks). She is so full of joy and energy and today she completed her first day of intensive training and did wonderfully. I took her in public and tested her ability to hold her attention on me. This being her first time, cars, birds, and little noises distracted her, but she soon got the hang of keeping focused on me with some great reinforcing clicker training. She’s my little companion and I can’t wait to see what a difference she will make in my life, once she is trained. Another little joyous moment came with a new job. I now work at a doggy daycare center and have enjoyed it thus far, but have decided it is too physical for me to sustain. I didn’t realize the full extent this operation would take on me physically, mentally, and emotionally. I over did it. I can’t keep up with everybody else, which is hard for me to accept. My memory and my strength (physically and emotionally) has degraded. The frustration that comes with this is unbelievable. I know that I am not alone, but yet I feel it most days in terms of my mental/emotional/physical status. I can’t guess when I have flare days, yet I have to push through them with excruciating pain in my neck and back and brain fog that won’t shake, no matter how hard I focus on concentrating. My ability to stay focused has diminished and I am beyond irritated at myself, although I know it is out of my control, that I cannot control it. I have found some support through Chiari Life on facebook that has helped me feel more united, but I still am struggling.

One last thing! I wanted to expand my blog into my other passions: as you might’ve noticed from my last post. I am trying to start loving myself more and more and appreciating the things that I am good at and enjoy. I love fashion, but I hardly have been able to be fashionable because of my condition. Most days I have felt exhausted and not up to dressing up, so now that things are getting better, I want to share my passion as well as my training updates with Mavis, and other bits and pieces of my odd little life. I hope that whoever follows my blog, will continue to, and whoever doesn’t will be drawn to a new diversity.

Much Love,

Cass & Mavis

follow Mav on instagram (@mavisodessa) for updates on growing up.

(images are created/taken by me. Please do not repost without permission)

Life as of Now.

As you can tell I went on a bit of a hiatus. Although I wish I could say it was because I was having such a wonderful time, that I forgot to journal about them, but sadly this is not the case. Since December, I’ve spent practically most days in bed; whether it’s playing call of duty or making eBay posts in attempt to make some money (3 months of unemployment can’t be good for anybody), I just haven’t been too well. I have my good days like today, but I have bad days. A lot of bad days, but I’m hoping it’s just apart of the healing process.

I had a wonderful Christmas close to home, but I had to battle being sick through the holidays. My boyfriend and I spent Christmas at our house because on Christmas Eve I went to the doctor’s office with non stop vomiting, stomach cramps, and diarrhea. The doctor assured me it wasn’t a virus and that I was suffering from withdrawals. Thing is, I’m still having these issues often, even now. Although, I nearly passed out at HEB while picking up my prescription to relax my stomach muscles, I made it through and had a wonderful time with Zach’s family and my mom. We were gifted some amazing gifts that really made me feel so thankful for all the wonderful people in my life. We basically had four different ‘Christmases’ or family gatherings: Zach’s immediate family, Zach’s extended family, my mom, and my dad. We went down to Lake Livingston to visit my dad around the 27th. My best friend, Dianne, who my dad calls his “drinking buddy” joined us for a two day visit. It was completely bitterly freezing in Livingston and it messed with my joints and muscles severely. I’ve been using essential oils to try to alleviate some of this and warm baths, but it’s been bad.

Another issue is my heart is acting up. I sincerely believe that I have POTS (post orthostatic tachycardia syndrome) and have had several tachycardia episodes which include hand tremors. It honestly feels like I have adrenaline just running through my body for no apparent reason. I visited the cardiologist, who ordered me to wear a Ziopatch for two weeks (haven’t yet received) to monitor my arrhythmias, just the new accessory need for back to school. Honestly, I’m praying that they will catch it and just diagnose me so I can get to treatment.

I had my one month check up with Dr. Parrish and I am healing so well. I starthritic-glovesill have vertical nystagmus and some memory issues, but I’ve been doing relatively well. My hands and feet however, have not beed doing good. The lack of sensation has definitely worsened in my limbs. I’m probably at 40% of what I should be feeling. I just bought some themoskin gloves today in hopes that it may help with the heat regulating problems. I asked Dr. Parrish about these problems and he says I may be noticing it more now that I’ve had my CSF returned to normal, but I’m still debating this.

A392F954-3815-43D8-B80E-545E9F5F5A24_zps0dxw1ikw

I’ve had ups and downs this year already. My doberman, Max, passed away on January 4th after battling kidney failure. He was almost thirteen and he’s been a wonderful companion. It was definitely hard. Losing a family pet that I’ve grown up with has just been heartbreaking. I feel as if I have lost a brother. I know that he is no longer suffering, but the ache. In good new, Juliana Nova, my second niece was born on January 15th, 2016. She’s so extremely tiny, it’s unreal. I am looking forward to getting to spend some more baby time with her.

On January 14th, I got a memorial tattoo in honor of my grandmother’s birthday. She would have been 79 years old. She taught me to love sewing. She gifted me all of her sewing items and I will be picking up her Singer sewing machine that she has been using since my dad, uncle, and aunt were kids. I got a tattoo of a pincushion in the shape of heart to signify this love we shared together. The wonderful Clamore Wolfmeyer did and excellent job and I, for the first time after getting a tattoo, began tearing up because it meant so much to me; to add a piece of my grandma to my sleeve.

IMG_8233.JPG

Today marks exciting news as well, as I had an interview this afternoon for a new job! It’s at an optical surgery center and they are interested in training me to be a surgery technician. I am beyond stoked, although it’s in a separate path from veterinary work. I want to explore my options and put my biology background to good use. I have a follow up interview tomorrow and I cannot wait! My boyfriend also got an interview with a follow up and we will know news by this week.

I begin school this Friday in my last Spring semester (hopefully) at Texas Tech University for my Bachelor in Biology with a Chemistry minor. I am expected to graduate in 2016, December. I cannot wait and beyond thrilled. I have worked so hard to get where I am and am praying that this works for me. I love learning, so I am looking for guidance through this time.

Also, if you live nearby Texas, you should definitely try to stop at Joanna and Chip Gaines’s Market at Silos in Waco. My best friend and I enjoyed an amazing day shopping for rustic decor, eating Pei Wei, and shopping with my gift cards. I bought two galvanized letters, some faux (but amazingly realistic) florals and a fern and a totally awesome Waco shirt (I’m a native so it suits me [from the market]), a Columbia jacket (Belk’s gift card), Kick Ass, In Time, and Limitless (Best Buy gift card). My boyfriend and I also upgraded to a Xbox One for a GameStop trade of a PS4, Xbox 360, plus several games, and a controller or two. We got me and awesome controller that changes colors, Call of Duty and Destiny. It was a great day.

Much love and sorry for the quick post to wrap up the last month

xo,

Cass.

 

Three Days.

I tried to write this post earlier, but a migraine came on and I had to give up and takIMG_7021.JPGe a nap. I could feel it pulsing in the vein that resides smack dab in the middle of my forehead. Naturally, I had to capture a photo to document the intensity my vein had trying to escape from my face. I mean wow, I’ve never seen it like that.

Anyways, I feel like a lot has happened since the last time I journaled:

I spent Thanksgiving morning with my boyfriend’s wonderful family and they provided a delicious home cooked meal with lots of vegetarian friendly options: sweet potatoes, mac n’ cheese, corn, rolls, potato salad, casseroles, and the amount of desserts! mmm. The only time my family has Thanksgiving is with my grandma who would cook all day and the day before making a variety of dishes, so I won’t lie, it was hard. I was happy to be around loved ones, but felt a since of great loss. I felt the sting of emptiness and pain as I remembered my grandma’s wonderful foods and her working so hard to make everyone else happy, just as Zach’s grandma did. It was bittersweet. As soon as we finished eating and searching for black Friday deals, we were off to Midland for my grandma’s visitation and funeral.

12108003_10201062397118136_5603032905235351492_n

I knew it was going to be hard. My entire dad’s family was in attendance for her funeral and she had a beautiful ceremony. I was in charge of getting the music together and I wouldn’t want anything to go wrong. I made sure that everything was perfect for the technician. I was surrounded by my aunts and uncles, cousins12295526_1518058948520350_3981899939229491289_n, parents, brother, niece, sister-in-law, and boyfriend as I confronted the heartbreaking loss of my grandma. I held my darling niece the entire time. She looked up at me with tears streaming down my face and her little confused look made me smile because she was so innocent and pure and knew nothing of pain. She couldn’t comprehend what was going on, only that her daddy and auntie and her loved ones were crying. She felt a teardrop on her hand and pointed at my eyes. She began to say something, but was quieted as it was during the service. I can only imagine she was going to say why are you sad, or why are you crying Aunt Cass? She definitely helped me with the loss because I felt so much love. I am not a mother, so I don’t know the entirety of the love a mom has for her child, but I do know how much I love my niece. I would easily die for her in heartbeat. Unconditional love felt instantly. I am lucky to have my family. My mother, father, aunts, uncles, my brother, who has completely changed from when we were children into a loving father and husband, my sister-in-law (who is eight months pregnant with my second niece!), my niece, Emelia, who is the best behaved toddler I have ever met and is genuinely kind and caring and full of life, and my boyfriend, who reassures me everything will be okay and puts up with my many moods of sadness, anger, and happiness, that interchangeably occur at various times of the day. I am lucky to have my grandma in my life, who made the biggest effort to see my brother and I as children, despite us being a military family, and I am lucky that I got to live in Texas for the past seven years to see my grandma more often and connect with her (and my extended family) for the remainder of her time on earth. After she was placed to rest we had to part ways and head back to Waco for my MRI. It’s hard to “snap” right back into normal life again. It doesn’t seem normal. Nothing seems normal.

They found two tumors on my spine: benign hemangioma(s) on my T7 and T9. My doctor called me on Wednesday to let me know that he wasn’t going to operate on them because he didn’t see that they would cause an issue. What bothers me is the increasing numbness and pain I have felt in my lower back and legs. My neurosurgeon seems to think that the Chiari is causing these issues, so I trust his judgement and am proceeding forward with the decompression surgery without the tumor removals. I will be evaluated a few months after surgery to see if any problems persist. I’m praying these tumors won’t cause me any problems and that all my issues are stemming from the Arnold-Chiari itself.

I decided to take an incomplete on chemistry and pick up where I left off next semester. My teacher said he is willing to work with me and help me anyway he can so that I do’t have to retake the class and can literally pick up right where I stopped. This is all assuming I feel well enough to attend school for the spring semester. I was luckily able to finish my other classes successfully (and I believe well): microbiology, ecology, anatomy and physiology (online) and personal fitness and wellness (online). I can’t explain enough how extremely hard this semester was for me. I am impressed that I prevailed and pushed myself through. With the support of my family, friends, and boyfriend, who provided me with love, encouragement, and transportation, I was able to make it. If I didn’t have them I would have dropped all my classes and swallowed myself in self-misery. I now only have one more final to take online and finish tomorrow.

I also got an undercut in preparation for the surgery this past Friday. My wonderful hair stylist, that I’ve been going to for over a year now, graciously donated her skills to provide me with a shave that wouldn’t turn out totally butchered (As I have sIMG_7022een with some decompression surgery photos). I understand this is an esthetic pleasure, but it meant a lot to me to keep my self confidence through this and my hair, for me, is a source of my femininity and creativeness (I like to style it [when I’m not totally exhausted {so hardly ever}]!)

I’m winding the days down now until my surgery. It’s this upcoming Wednesday.  Three days left. I am finally beginning to feel the jitters. I becoming nervous and scared. I have thoughts: maybe I should just forget about it and cancel my surgery, I would live, but be in misery. I picture a life full of pain and then say, no that would be ridiculous because I am in so much pain that it can only get better. I think about death. As much as I try to avoid it, the thought always comes back. I’m still dealing with the loss of my grandmother, which makes thinking of this even harder. I can’t imagine what would have happened if she passed away during my hospital stay. I wouldn’t have been able to go to her funeral or make peace (if you can call it “peace”). I still ache knowing I won’t see her on earth again. I know she wanted to go and be with God and didn’t want to suffer, but it still is hard.

Today was a decent day. Despite from suffering with nightmare and night sweats, I slept until about 10 am. I got my toenail and fingernails painted, purple and sparkly for Chiari, took a nap, and even got the strength to get up and go see Krampus with my mom, boyfriend, and boyfriend’s brother. This was the first movie I had seen since The Martian and was worried because I was in a lot of pain for that movie, but today I managed it quite well and only started getting pain jolts towards the last twenty minutes or so. I would say a good day.

IMG_6981
I ultimately want everyone to know how much I love them and how I much I  appreciate all the wonderful things that have been done for me. Never lose faith and keep pushing forward.

xoxo,

Cass.

Hemangiomas.

I had a MRI on Sunday as ordered by my neurosurgeon, Dr. Parrish and they found two tumors on my thoracic spine (T7 and T9). These are cavernous hemangioma, benign collection of blood vessels, that are pressing against my spinal cord.A cavernoma is a blood filled raspberry. As it bleeds it causes damage to various parts of the nerves. When they bleed they reattach and get bigger. If it is inside the cord it does permanent damage as it damages the spinal cord.

Hemangioma occurs most often in the thoracic spine. These Tumours affect adults and are known to be progressive vascular masses that can cause vertebral collapse and paraparesis (slight paralysis).              -back.com

Treatment depends on the severity. I have had extreme lower back pain, numbness, and tingling. With this being said, I do not knoHemangiomaw how to differentiate what is being caused by the chiari malformation and what is being caused by the tumors. They can either try medication, embolization (Stop blood flow), use radiation therapy (which I do not want), or surgically remove the tumors. This is not related to Chiari at all and having them on the spine is extremely rare. I will most likely have to have these removed in addition to my decompression surgery

I need help now more than ever. Please share my gofundme (gofundme.com/cassandrabordner) | if you have the ability to donate it would mean the world to me.

Grateful.

I’ve never experienced so many ups and downs within the span of only a couple of weeks. After my little pity party post, I decided to really try to focus on the positives in life. I joined the movement 99 Days of Freedom, whose mission is to see how Facebook users life are impacted by quitting for 99 days.

In response to Facebook’s controversial mood experiment involving some 700,000 unwitting users, we launched an experiment of our own, determining how life without Facebook impacts user happiness

I surprisingly haven’t missed it yet. The only thing I miss is chatting with my boyfriend via Facebook messenger, but in all honesty we have phones for that and I should be focusing in school anyways. People constantly try to compare themselves to others and I am 100% guilty of this! You can’t compare your life to another person’s because we are all so unique and it is completely absurd to discount your “joys,” to compare them to a celebrity/friend/etc.’s success and oh so happy life. Life is like houses: they may be pretty from the outside with their freshly mowed lawns and little white picket fences, but on the inside the house could be a train wreck and no would ever know unless they entered. I’ve decided to keep track of three different things (or more!) each day that I am grateful for. For example today’s entry:

11.17.2015 – Today I am grateful for:

  1. my boyfriend’s support through my Chiari journey; today my boyfriend drove me to class and waited through it to take me home. He willingly paid for our groceries with no hesitation, although I will pay him half back. He says “I love you” at the most perfect time when my self doubt grows increasingly strong.
  2. my mama; my mother has been nothing but a godsend through this all. I do not have a child so I do not know the true connection a mother feels with her child, but I can tell you that my mom would go to the end of the Earth for me and I her, too. I truly could not have gotten through this all without the love and support of my family, friends, and my amour.
  3. my therapist’s guidance; I’ve always had a tricky time finding the right person to talk to about my hard times, but I finally did back in 2012 with Dr. Hightower. I feel completely at ease to spill my thoughts and finally let out my worries. I try to be strong for everyone around me and for myself, so having moments to release this and get advice on how you can make things better, absolutely is a necessity.

I got the idea to think or write down these grateful moments from time.com and their guide to be happier. I’ve had so many lows in my life, but it does make me appreciate the highs I do get to experience and it makes me really think about consequences before my actions.

b133cd5a08d3c7e6f93d494d60063b9c

So starting with two weekends ago on November 8th, I traveled to Austin, TX with my mom, dad, and boyfriend for my brother and s-i-l’s baby shower. My second niece is due on January 17th, 2016! Although I am not too entirely close with my brother and his family, it was nice to be able to catch up a little in the hustle and bustle of the hive. My niece, Emelia, is almost three (on January 10th) and is such a sweet, kind and caring little girl with a big heart. I love that child with my whole heart and it makes me so happy to have her in my arms. I can’t wait to be a mother one day, after I can put most of this behind me (surgery, school stressors, family stressors, etc.). I have always been nurturer and my desire to have my own child has always been there. Seeing Zach hold Eme and play with her makes me feel ecstatic; one thing that has helped me through each day is seeing how our relationship has gotten closer. We talk about our future plans all the time and I pray that we will be happy together and make things work through thick and thin. We were put in each other’s paths for a reason and I know being with Zach has changed me fore the better. I’ve grown more confident in myself and with my self image (learning to love my flaws), to let the little things go, and to relax because life happens: there is no sense in getting devastated over an event you cannot change, no matter how hard you try (yet I still do at times and Zach helps me through my dark days). I love our relationship: our netflix marathons, salted baths, call of duty nights, diet coke obsession, neopets, star wars collection, dvd/blu ray hoarding, sci-fi-horror movie nights, road trips with plenty of snacks, walks in the sunset, mini day hikes, fall out 4 game sessions and cuddles. We understand each other’s nerdiness and fully appreciate it.

twincollage20151117223109

This past weekend we traveled all the way to Midland and back to see my grandma, who is nearing her final days. I can’t thank my mom and boyfriend enough for driving me out to the middle-of-nowhere-west-Texas. It means so much to me to be able to see my grandma and be able to  express my sincere love and gratitude for this woman that has given so much to my dad, uncle, aunt, and to me. I have never seen such a strong, independent woman. She’s tough as nails, but cancer was the only thing that could stop her. I can’t begin to explain all the sacrifices she has made to give her children a good life and in turn my brother and I through our dad. I was so happy to be around her and see her smile and bring joy to those around her. I am praying I will be able to see her again this upcoming holiday and that she can hold on to meet her great-granddaughter. Despite the circumstances, I enjoyed the trip. On Friday night we ate thai food on all white sheets in the hotel room watching Inside Out (which, if you haven’t seen it, you MUST! I think it is easily one of my very favorites and teaches such an important lesson why we need all of our many emotions to be happy – coincidentally perfect for my life). It was nice seeing my aunt and uncle and being able to be amongst family even though the hard times.

11326458_708835222594876_1819387460_n

While spending the evening at my grandmother’s house I watched the horror unravel the Paris attacks on the news. I am utterly speechless at the heinous murders that took the lives of 129 people in a place loved by so many. I cannot understand the capacity of hatred an individual has to have to do something like that, there is no way they are human, just cold terrorist monsters. I began checking instagram to see who was at the Le Bataclan during the mass shooting and bombings and began praying for those people. One picture stood out to me immediately: a young couple that looked to be in their early thirties enjoying the perks of being young and alive- Gilles Leclerc and Marianne Labanane, I later found out to be. The young gentleman with a prominent mustache and his girlfriend thought they would be enjoying an Eagles of Death Metal concert and having a great time. I begin to pray for them, for all the victims and their loved ones. I later found out on Sunday that Gilles had been one of the victims, but his girlfriend Marianne was alive, but in shock. I didn’t know these people at all, but I felt a connection to them; perhaps because I, too, am young and have gone to concerts and can empathize. Something in my heart pulled as I was hoping that these two would be safe and reunited. I’m saddened deeply by the tragedy that took place at Le Bataclan and across Paris that took the lives of so many. I can only hope that it gives the wounded and the victim’s family and friends comfort knowing how much an impact they had on the rest of the world, uniting many nations together.

After the rollercoaster of a Friday, we traveled home for only one night. I sleep best at home, so I was happy to be back in my bed after more than twelve hours of traveling to and back and two nights on a stiff mattress in a motel. One night to take a hot bath and enjoy the comforts of home. The next morning we set out for Houston, where my appointment with the neurosurgeon, a Chiari specialist, resided. On the way down I slept through the entire car ride thanks to my muscle relaxer. That was a special treat for me, as I hadn’t slept well for the past several nights! After meeting my aunt and uncle for some Mexican food and getting lost in downtown Houston, we finally made it to the hotel and settled in for the night. My boyfriend and I went down the the hot tub and enjoyed the immense heat of the spa- we have always wanted one and really love soaking. Afterwards we watched The 100 and the Seattle Seahawks vs. Arizona Cardinals game where we were disappointed by a close loss. That night was miserable. I had a nonstop migraine that consumed every sinus cavity of my head. I woke up around four am, trying to get any type of relief. I started a hot bath and put a cold towel over my eyes like suggested by a chronic migraine sufferer, but to no relief. I could not get back to sleep, so I patiently waited and suffered until seven am to get ready for the day.

BRAIN-no-hangtag_1024x1024

The time had finally come to see the specialist. After we waited for a good bit, I met Dr. Rob Parrish, a retired Army Colonel and Board Certified Neurosurgeon with specialties in Microvascular Decompression for Trigeminal Neuralgia and Hemi-Facial Spasm and, most importantly for me, Chiari Decompression. Within only a few minutes, Dr. Parrish confirmed I had Arnold-Chiari Malformation Type I with a simple temperature sensitivity test to my hands and feet (which were surprisingly worse than I previously had thought) and a few questions about my migraine headaches. He told me I would be a good candidate for surgery and that my symptoms should improve, but he could not give me a definite answer that my pain would subside; one of my biggest problems. I began to cry as I imagined what my life would be like living through pain. My dad reassured me that the surgery would help and that everything would be ok. I set up my decompression surgery for this upcoming December 9th to have a dura patch placed on the back side of my brain from a fascia graft from my leg. I can’t begin to explain the relief to know that a doctor does believe and acknowledges my pain and symptoms. It’s truly a miracle.

I have to be cleared with the cardiologist beforehand to make sure I am in complete sinus rhythm after having to receive a cardioversion last year after going into atrial fibrillation (a.fib). Dr. Parrish is adamant that I see a cardiologist in Houston at the Methodist Hospital he works at. I have been tested before after my first initial attack. I wore a cardio monitor for two months and had no definitive results. I am a bit eager to know what things look like now because I have had episodes of tachycardia probably related to a side condition. The doctor noted that my reflexes were way too entirely active and that I need that looked into as well. A lumbar and thoracic MRI will be done to determine whether I have tethered cord syndrome, another malformation that relates to neurological disorders or some type of spine trauma. Exactly three weeks from now I will be operated on. I am praying for all the success that I can possibly receive from this surgery. A life with no pain.

I know this post is massively long, but I have had so much happen. If I can make it through two more weeks of school work, I’ll be in good shape and ready to go.

Xo,

Cass

 

 

 

 

Hopeless

I’m really starting to lose hope with how much difficulty I have had to face just to get any relief. Last Sunday my mother, boyfriend, and I traveled to Houston, Texas in hopes of meeting a neurosurgeon who specializes in Chiari Malformation. My dad did a lot of research to find Dr. Parrish and was delighted with his history and his military background. My mother took off Monday from work and my best friend volunteered to look after her dogs, while my boyfriend’s brother looked after our pets. We set off on Sunday afternoon and made our way though the rain to my aunt and uncle’s house.  On Friday I learned that my insurance had not yet approved the visit because of the distance we had to travel. My dad called the office to see what could be done and was told that everything would be just fine because my dad offered to pay for the visit out of his pocket.

This has all been so stressful for everyone. We all ate at a wonderful little Mexican Restaurant called Tony’s and they had excellent enchiladas. It was nice visiting with my Aunt Babette and Uncle Daniel and I know how much my mom loves hanging with her sister, so I was happy she was having such a good time after constantly stressing about my situation.

We made our way to the hotel that smelled oddly of feet, but was close to the hospital. Zach and I enjoyed the hot tub while sharing a white chocolate mocha. For a minute we had relaxation and peace as the heat radiated through our bodies.

After a decent night’s sleep it was time for the appointment. My primary’s office decided to call at 7:30am and wake me up to ask me if “my headaches were better after stopping my birth control.” You see, she seems to think that this all is in my head and my birth control, that I have had no problems whatsoever for the past four years, might be causing me headaches, memory loss, aphasia, and my other Chiari symptoms. Obviously I had no intention following those bogus directions because I’m probably not even taking birth control, might be all in my head, ya know? So I told them no. I was hoping they would tell me my referral went through, but to no luck. I checked on it and they again said it was not authorized yet. We’ve never had trouble with our insurance not covering my many visits (through all my side issues with this malformation), so I was finding it odd that it took over a week to authorize it.

While we were getting ready for the appointment, after no luck of getting back to sleep, I got a call from Texas Tech to set up disability services for me. I was relieved at all the different options that were recommended for me to help me be successful despite my disorder. I can have extra time to finish assignments, tests, and to get to class, which will help so much as there are days I can’t get out of bed  because the pain is too severe to function. I now have a little more hope for my school work. I’m so close to being finished that I do not want to put a halt on it. I should graduate this Summer and since I attend TTU through Waco, they do not offer the classes I need every semester, but only once a year usually, so that would put me back a good deal.

After we were all ready we made our way to the Methodist Hospital for my appointment. We didn’t have any breakfast because my mother was too nervous to eat and we were running late on time anyways. We showed up thirty minutes before my appointment, signed in, and I got a stack of paperwork to fill out. As I went to sit down my dad surprised us hiding in the corner of the office. He originally couldn’t make it because he had orientation for his new job and they got me in for this appointment within week, leaving no notice. He luckily had a very understanding teacher who wanted him to be there with me. I was happy to have my dad there because he is a nurse and knows so much medical terminology and would be far more familiar with the “lingo.”

I began filling out a novel of information packets asking me every bit of information about my medical history, what brought me into the office today and so on. My mother and boyfriend headed back to the hotel to grab my wallet I left in the glovebox because my crappy memory and being rushed made me forget what I needed! I spent about thirty minutes scribbling my life history down when I finally finished the packet and turned it in. We waited and waited and waited. Slowly an hour past until finally I heard my name being called. I was excited to finally be able to see the doctor. We got up and walked up to the door when we were met by a lady who told us that they hadn’t received the referral so Dr. Parrish could not see us. My dad immediately started getting frustrated and told her: ma’am, I talked to someone last Friday, who said it was perfectly fine for us to come if I paid out of pocket.” She began questioning his story: “at our office?” “Dr. Parrish’s office?” We found out that the lady that told my dad that we should come was likely on vacation and nobody else admitted to it. The lady kept saying “you should’ve gotten a name,” as if it would have made any difference. After she went and consulted with the staff three times, the ultimate decision was no. We all became emotional and I stormed out, extremely frustrated. My boyfriend calmed me down as I began to get more upset. I truly believe that these things happen to me more than the common person and that I am stricken with bad luck. There is no other explanation.

My parents came down to the lobby after us. I began feeling hopeless and heartbroken. My dad said that the lady began to get emotional because he explained to her that no one was helping his daughter and that he just wanted to do what was right for me. They both took off work, spent money on gas and a hotel, and were willing to spend a lot on the appointment just so I could see the doctor and get some help. It really is hard not to be pessimistic in these situations. I’m tired of being in pain and having doctors not believe me. I’m tired of being physically exhausted and drained. We got into the car and at a much needed lunch at Smashburger. A black bean burger and a peanut butter chocolate milkshake served as the perfect pick-me-up. As we headed home on the three hour drive, I got some wonderful rest from the help of a muscle relaxer and dreaded my upcoming week.

It’s funny how everything turns out like this.

xo,

Cass.