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Archive for the ‘personal’ Category

Magnetic resonance imaging (MRI) is a technique that uses a magnetic field and radio waves to create detailed images of the organs and tissues within your body. Most MRI machines are large, tube-shaped magnets. When you lie inside an MRI machine, the magnetic field temporarily realigns hydrogen atoms in your body. Radio waves cause these aligned atoms to produce very faint signals, which are used to create cross-sectional MRI images. (Mayo Clinic)

I don’t know how many of you have seen an MRI machine in reality. I did see lots of those but only in movies. The latest that comes into my mind right now is House. I didn’t have any strong thoughts about them besides that they are cool and then i was just curious to read how they work. Of course, i couldn’t see myself in one of those, only the thought of it made me claustrophobic. I was supposed to have a knee MRI last year, but the doctor i complained to of knee pain thought i have nothing serious so he just send me home. (That’s what they also said about my endometriosis).

So, after being diagnosed with a 7 cm tumor on my right ovary, the last doctor i went to see (was it maybe the fourth one this year) sent me to an MRI to see if i have deep infiltrating endometriosis or any other tumors for that matter. I took some blood tests before and got an instruction sheet which didn’t tell me much i didn’t know already. I knew the test was lasting about an hour, i knew MRI machines are very loud, i knew about the contrast dye, and i knew i had to sit very still throughout the whole procedure. And i knew those machines give you a very claustrophobic feeling. That was the thing i was most afraid of. One hour in that thing? No way i could manage.

But things weren’t quite as I’ve expected. The preparations before the MRI took about half an hour and included making sure i have absolutely no metals on me, this was quite logical, huge magnet there. I thought i’m going directly into the MRI room but instead i had to lie down on a special bed in the preparation room and of course, change into hospital clothes. I had an IV put into my right arm for the contrast dye (that really hurt; note that i am very sensitive to pain). Then the doctor came and i was given some kind of gel in the area down there for better imaging. Now, i know why they gave me hospital clothes, because that gel started to come out from my insides – needless to tell that was very uncomfortable. Some kind of frame was also placed over my abdominal area and tied to the bed which gave me the impression i was actually tied to bed. I was also given a device so i can contact the nurses of i have issues and headphones with rock music on.

After that i was taken into the MRI room, the IV was connected to some device containing contrast dye and had to stay inside, lying on my back without moving for an hour. The only time i was taken out, was to be given an injection to calm down my guts as they were quite active and it was disturbing the image quality. That hurt very bad and it still hurts now after about three days.

I think they injected the dye only once, i didn’t feel anything. But the hardest part was being still for an hour. My back started hurting me, the air conditioning inside the MRI made my hands so cold and as much as Kurt Cobain was screaming, i still heard the MRI machine and heard it very well. I tried to close my eyes, make time go faster but i got the feeling that i was running of of breath and at one point i wanted to call the nurse but i just started to focus on my breathing and meditate (thank you pilates) so i could just get over with it. Then i noticed that keeping my eyes opened and focusing on the machine’s ceiling was much better. I tried to keep away the thoughts about the results because they gave me so much anxiety and instead think at something else.

It was an experience that i’d rather not repeat but given my situation i highly doubt so. I was though quite amazed that the tight space was not the actual problem but the standing still, needles and gel thing . With these exceptions, maybe, i can say the experience was cool in a weird way. *plays House intro*

After the procedure i was taken back to the preparation room, had my IV taken out and given some pads as that gel came out of me for about the rest of the day. I didn’t feel weird at all and continued my daily activities as if nothing happened. So in that way it was very ok.

Later on my friend texted me and she said that the way i described it to her, made it sound like i was abducted by aliens. *plays X-files intro*

Later edit: I just got the MRI results this morning and besides the cyst, which is a bit smaller than seen on the ultrasound, there is nothing suspicious. That is the best news I’ve had in a while.

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It took me a while when deciding to write this post but i finally decided for it because of two reasons: if there is anyone out there who won’t feel so alone with their pain, it’s a step forward, please know that you are not alone, and second, there is so much ignorance and taboo surrounding this issue that i can’t remain indifferent.

It all started when i was just 12, a kid basically. You know when girls get their periods and it’s celebrated like some kind of rite of passage. For, me it was nothing to celebrate. It was the beginning of a life of pain and nightmares. All my memories about it are blurred because i wanted to forget the horror, the pain, the misery.

I remember my dad picking me up from the floor, i fainted because of the pain. It was like a thousands of knives were shoved into my belly. Regular painkillers didn’t help me anymore and i had to take much stronger ones which made me sick. The bleeding was horrible. Two times i landed in the hospital with severe anemia. Instead of finding relief, i met horrible doctors. The first and last time i was to see a gynecologist, i got so humiliated and traumatized that for the next 14 years i would avoid them like plague.

I just learned to live with the pain because random doctors told me it’s normal: “That’s a woman’s life – get over it.” I was given random birth control pills by GP’s who didn’t even bother to send me for further tests as there was basically no test to determine what was wrong with me. I tried fours different brands; they all made me sick and the last one, Diane, send me directly to emergency room with severe stomach aches and vomiting. It took me three months to recover. I swore i would never take those things again.

I had to skip classes, couldn’t join sports activities anymore. The real reason was not accepted as a valid medical explanation so i usually came with medical certificates which stated: stomach disease. When i started university, sometimes, i had to go to the exams after a sleepless night. Because i was crying in pain waiting for the painkillers to kick in. Sometimes i had to leave the lectures because of too much pain or bad hemorrhage. But i passed all my exams and graduated with good grades.

Meanwhile, during my university years, i was told about a very good endocrinologist and i went to see her. I thought that this is useless, it won’t help me but i said let’s give it a try and so i made an appointment and told her the whole story. She sent me to all kinds of tests that would take about six months and lots of money. It was a private hospital. To my disappointment, the results were inconclusive. But at one of the last appointments she told me that i might have endometriosis. Unfortunately, because the tests were clear she couldn’t send to to surgery which is the best way to diagnose endometriosis. She gave me instead birth control pills and assured me that these one would be ok because of the low hormone dose.

I gave them a try although i was afraid the previous unhappy episodes will follow. They didn’t. Instead my pains were gone and everything started to be normal. For the first time in my life, i felt that a huge black veil has been taken off me. I knew what it meant life without pain and it was awesome. I went off and then on again on these meds and about two years ago i decided to just stop them. I wasn’t comfortable using hormones for so long and i thought, well, maybe my body has changed and it’s not that bad anymore. And yes, somehow it wasn’t that bad. Until six months ago.

It was the last day of March and i needed to go to the grocery store but i felt this weird pain in my lower belly. It got worse over the next days and i called the local health center. The nurse said to come immediately the next morning. I had some basic tests and the suspicions of ectopic pregnancy, appendicitis and urinary tract infection or any other infection for that matter were shut down. But the pain continued and soon i was able to function only with over the counter painkillers which were useless. During the following two months i completed my chemistry studies and went to work although the pain was present 24/7. In the end, i called a private hospital and made an appointment there.

I told my symptoms and the doctor nodded: “I can’t get anything concrete but let’s have an ultrasound”. A procedure they didn’t two months earlier. After few minutes i see the doctor frowning: “You have a 7 cm cyst on your right ovary”. At that point i froze, i saw the screen and that thing was huge. She continued saying it’s most likely an endometriosis cyst and i need surgery. She sent to the central hospital for further tests. I did have further tests including CA 125 for ovarian cancer which turned negative and i was given birth control pills again to manage the pain. The diagnosis was confirmed by a second doctor. I told her i want to wait and see how the meds are working. She said they won’t work and i also need to consider the small chance it might be malignant. She told me to stop any harsh physical activity because the cyst might burst or i might have ovarian torsion. I had to stop my dear fitness hobby and alter my life around this thing.

The meds though helped me to get my normal life back and in one month i was back to doing pilates. I did have though occasional cramps and the one time i took the 7 day break from the pills, hell broke loose. At this point i knew, i still had the cyst which was confirmed at the follow-up. So, right now i’m on the surgery waiting list, having more tests and trying to stay sane as this is my first major surgery and there are lots of scenarios passing through my mind.

So, it’s not 100% sure what it is but according to my symptoms it sounds very much like endometriosis. A disease whose cause is unknown, which doesn’t have any cure but very bad treatment options (hormones and surgery) and which affects lots of women. I think though that the hardest part is accepting it and learn to live with it although it has been there for long. Before it was a regular inconvenience that just passed but now it has a name.  Before, i had the mindset that this is normal and i should be ashamed for crying out. After 19 years, i learned that i lived with something which i should have never endured alone. This disease is still brushed aside, not taken seriously and patients face lots of judgement from both medical professionals and random people. But i’m tired of being silenced, judged and ashamed. So I decided to speak out.

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I decided to write here some of my thoughts on presents for loved ones, be it Christmas, birthdays or other occasions. My principle when buying presents is very simple: keep it simple and don’t complicate yourself. For the people I know and sometimes acquaintances I have the following rules:

  1. Keep it minimal. Buy few things but usually quality ones. I sometimes buy just one, maximum two items but I take care that the quality is very good. For example, handicrafts, handicraft shops or fairs are perfect to buy presents. The presents can be also food.
  2. Ask the person. I do that almost all the times in order to avoid buying unnecessary stuff or stuff they don’t like. The can tell me few things and I choose something from those things. Of, course it might now be a surprise but I prefer to offer them something they will really use instead of a disappointing surprise. In case you don’t know the person, money can be a very good idea. At least here, we do that quite a lot. I also received money for my birthday and I didn’t mind because it came in really handy, for example I once loaded my bus card for a month during winter.
  3. Presents don’t always have to be things. I got this idea from my friend who invited me to a cake buffet. You paid a certain sum and ate as much cake as you wanted. You could invite your friend to a restaurant, a concert, a trip, a movie etc. Experiences can make the best presents sometimes.
  4. Gift cards. Different shops have gift cards for different sums of money. This is a bit similar with money offering but it can be used only in that certain shop. It works great for people you don’t know that well and it could be for a shop with a wide profile of products so they can choose from. Gift cards saved me from situations where I was invited to different occasions by people I didn’t know very well. It is an honor that they thought of me but sometimes it can be challenging when it comes to presents.

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In the shade of the recent unfortunate events and finding this article online, i decided to write my piece of mind about this matter. Few days ago, i opened my facebook at the sad news that the singer from Linkin Park has died. I did listen a lot to this band while in high school. I never knew though that Chester was suffering from depression. I was sad to hear that but i got sadder and even angrier at the way people talked about depression and suicide. People dismissing depression as just a phase, not a real illness and one can just get over it.

I never suffered from severe depression so i can’t even talk about it but i would never ever dismiss it. Depression is a very serious illness with severe consequences and it destroys lives. I’ve met people suffering from it and what it struck me was actually my incapacity to help them. Because depression is a serious disease and needs specialized medical attention. As a friend you can be supportive but never dismissing. That is one of the worst things you can do, be dismissive. Although to be honest, sometimes i wish i could do more for them than just tell them to be strong.

But, now to be honest, i wasn’t shocked. I was angry, i was sad but not shocked. Because i have gone through the same thing, that means people dismissing and judging me for my illness. And my illness is physical not mental. So, if i was judged because of a chronic physical illness, i can’t even imagine how much shit people with mental illnesses get.

I’m suspected of a chronic auto-immune disease that has no treatment for the moment although I’ve might have had it (according to specialists) since i was a teenager. Because it is understudied, the delay in diagnosis could take up to 20 years and in my case i have not yet a clear diagnosis because i need surgery which for the moment i’m foolishly postponing it because i’m shit scared of it. The only treatment for now is hormonal and surgical which doesn’t sound glamorous at all. Unfortunately, i had to put up with lots of condescending attitudes from people starting from the “it can’t be that bad”, “you are exaggerating”, “it’s just a fuss”, “it can’t be that serious” to people who downright attacked my medication saying that it’s not natural, i’m destroying myself, i should try voodoo medicine and not trust doctors and then explaining to me the side effects as if i am some stupid kid who can’t read the labels or understand them. Funny thing is i don’t even know most these people personally.

Here are some guidelines for these people who like to play the know it all specialists:

  • If you are not sick or never been sick, you have no idea what i’m going through. So before opening your mouth to say stupid things, think. I never open my mouth to give advice to a person with severe depression because i have no idea what they are going through.
  • Are you a doctor? No? Stop giving medical advice. Of course, suggestions are always welcome but don’t talk like a know it all.
  • STOP JUDGING MY MEDICATION! I have been to a doctor for that and i’m sure that after years of studying, they know what they are doing. Much better than you ever will. In my case, the pills i am taking are the only ones who can make me function and keep my illness under control (for the moment). When you find a cure or a better treatment for it, come and announce me. Until then shut up. I know very well what i am taking, i know it has risks and side effects, i know what those are. I’m an adult, not a two year old toddler. Do you think i enjoy taking some pills which have risks of cardiovascular disease, blood clots and other charming side effects? No! We have no choice for the moment.
  • Take off your tin foil hat and stop blaming some conspiracy stuff and big pharma. Yes, i know companies are greedy but without some of the medicines we have now, some of us would be dead. There is no secret maybe but i usually hear this rhetoric from anti-vaxers who see everything a conspiracy out there to get them.
  • Voodoo medicine aka homeopathic. Tried that honey, it didn’t work. I have nothing against it but following the logic of big pharma what makes you think there aren’t the same kind of people who would like to make a profit selling sugar water to desperate people? I do take some supplements along with my medicine but relying only on supplements would be very foolish. I do have some friends though who gave me very good hints (tested ones) from people with same symptoms as i. I appreciate that a lot and of course i’m going to try them. But under no circumstances they dismissed conventional medicine.
  • There is no magic way out, there is no magic pill to make us healthy. Instead of being judgmental, don’t say anything at all if you have nothing supportive to say. I will give you a hint though, what i usually tell my friends who are struggling with an illness. I wish them all the best, to stay strong and if there is anything they need just ask. That’s it. It’s very easy not to be an asshole. 🙂

 

walkinmyshoes

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I thought of writing this article after I got fed up with the endless articles about birth rates declining and the constant blame put on women because they choose to pursue higher education. I thought that we left this behind many decades ago but as I can see this is the number one scapegoat most people around here prefer to point at. I won’t get into the importance of education nowadays because when it comes to pursue one, it’s each to its own, I would say it better to have one than none at all.

The ones who are usually barking so much on the subject are men who complain about their poor peers who remain in the countryside, choose to stay out of school or pursue a professional school and then remain single because those “damn harpies” choose careers and move to the big cities. They usually come up with apocalyptic future scenarios of old spinsters, damnation, cats and loneliness. In addition to that they are also complaining that these women are too picky, too stuck up and that nothing is good for them.

My first thought is, then why don’t you go and get an education yourself? Why are you jealous on a person who wants to build a future for themselves and their world doesn’t revolve around yours? Because believe it or not, you are not the center of the universe and no person owes you anything.  You miss the good old days when women were barefoot, knocked-up in the kitchen? Then be prepared to have a super income because nowadays you can rarely manage on one salary. The biggest problem with these people is that they live in the past, in a world of fantasy.

Being dependent and relying on a guy (of one’s free will) is perhaps the most stupid thing you can do. But again, I also guide myself on “the best person to rely on is yourself” philosophy. You never know when the other one will kick you in the curb or you know, misfortunes happen. I was also taught wisely by my parents that it’s better to have your own finances and never rely on anybody.

Nobody stops you from studying and earning a degree if you want. Not in Finland where (for the moment) there are no tuition fees. But some people don’t want higher education and others are not meant for it. Which is fine. But stop complaining and blaming other people for your incapacities or laziness. And stop blaming the system that it favors girls. If you really want to achieve something, no system will stay in your way. I saw proof with my own eyes and of both genders.

Blaming women that they are too picky is rather shallow I would say. As mentioned before, nobody is entitled to like you. These women have their own preferences, own personalities and own minds and they’d better be picky if it is about something so important as sharing life with somebody. It’s better being alone that be with somebody just for the sake of being and then realize you share nothing in common or even hate each other.

As for the profession part, these “critics” must live underground because lots of us are not hunting for a profession. For me it is a deep insult to hear that I’m a stuck up academic bitch who doesn’t even look at blue collar workers. Profession has never been an issue when I connect with another person because I look at that person as a human being not at a profession. One of my top priorities is mutual respect. If that is missing, I’m sorry to say but it won’t work. I never looked down on any person because of their profession (sadly I can’t say that was mutual, I’ve been humiliated many times while working blue collar jobs). Professions can change but the dynamics between two persons is much more complicated and I doubt that a profession or education has so much to do with it. My partner didn’t even attend high school and I have two MA’s and I must say that it would be quite a shock for these people who can do nothing more but judge. It’s true, I did hear nasty remarks from some that how can I be in a relationship with such a person, pointing out the fact that I’m superior because of my education. Needless to say I cut any ties with these people. If you can’t respect people I care about, I don’t have any obligation to respect you. An MA diploma doesn’t make me superior in any way but the fact that I respect people the way they are and not judge them like you do, yes, that makes me superior to your judgmental ass.

And before blaming women that they are like this and like that and don’t pay attention to you, take a look at yourself first. Do you think somebody would like to be with a person who does nothing but blame others and likes to dictate how others should live? Because I wouldn’t. Before demanding things from others take a look at yourself. Are you worth it?

 

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Then he approached me so much, I could almost feel his breath on my face: “Yes, you have brown hair and eyes but you are way too white.” Said this dude after hearing where I am coming from.

“I can see you girls are of another race”, says my friend’s neighbor while we were walking together in the neighborhood. We are white Caucasian just like this neighbor.

“Are you Italian? You have brown hair and the shape of your nose is weird”. I hear at a seminar. No I’m not Italian, but close enough. I really don’t want to make conversation with you because you are rude. You just don’t comment on a random person’s outer appearance.

Plus the countless questions of where I am from and what I am doing here, some followed by suggestion to dye my hair blonde so I could be more like the locals. The fact that I speak the language fluently and I had no cultural shock whatsoever upon moving to Finland does not count. Now I should alter my looks. What next? Am I supposed to spend few thousands euros to get that weird nose fixed, too?

I am well aware of the fact though that my skin complexion worked in my favor here because otherwise I would have got nastier remarks and I think even faced violence as some of people I know did. But was negatively amazed to see how far people’s ignorance and stupidity can go. If you have a problem with the simple fact that a person has brown hair and most of people around are blonde then you don’t deserve the slightest drop of attention. To me this mentality of “change your outer appearance to blend it” is the most obvious form of following the herd. And I’ve never been good with that. It never crosses my mind to ask people about their background when we first meet and it’s definitely out of the question to make comments on their outer appearance. There are plenty of other subjects to open a conversation with and saying one of the above denotes lack of imagination.

Yes, I heard the excuse “but we are a small country and blah, blah”. That excuse would have worked maybe 50 years ago. It’s 2017 so snap out of it. People are moving around and I really hate to hear somebody playing the naive card “but what are you doing here?”. There are very few reasons why a person would choose a country and I’m definitely not interested in any of them. If they mentioned it fine, but I wouldn’t ask. Because it’s not my business.

As for dyeing my hair blonde to “fit in” let me tell you something: I would definitely hate having blonde hair. First, I really love my natural brown hair and I rarely dye it because there is no need to. If I choose so, then I would choose a color which is close to my natural one because blonde doesn’t fit me at all. Second, dyeing my hair blonde would take a significant toll on it because of the bleaching treatment, not to mention that I need to do that every time my hair grows because it looks hideous to have it half of two colors. I really don’t want to pour chemicals on my head and destroy my hair because of some people’s ignorance.

 

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Today, i was hit all of a sudden by some memories from almost two years ago. When i started school in Jyväskylä and moved to the legendary Roninmäki. I remember after a whole nice and lazy summer, i packed my things up and went to JKL first to pick up my apartment keys and make the formalities and then meeting the crazy student campus and building L. It was quite rainy and cloudy day and i had some drama queen moments after noticing that Roninmäki was so far away from the city center and up a hill in the middle of the forest. But after the first week of getting used to it and learning how to properly get to Keljonkeskus (without sliding on that hill over the bridge), i started to like it. Yes, it was far but my bike did its job very well. The building i lived in was very quiet, maybe because my window was facing the street and not the crazy M building where most of the student parties were held and police was an usual guest during the weekends. I had no bad memories from there or i don’t remember. I kept only the pleasant ones.

The best thing there i think were my colleagues from my MA programme. Most of them were living in Roninmäki and even if not, we would still gather up all in one of our apartment and party our way, not the M  building way. Almost every week there was a gathering and we intercted with each other on a daily basis. You just couldn’t feel lonely. And my flatmate was also my colleague which was very funny and interactive when we discussed and complained about school or when she baked one of her carrot cookies :p I had a dear friend in the nearby house campus – Myllyjärvi, and we were visiting each other very often and even did the insane thing to cook. Of course she did much better job than me. :p During the summer it was really great to go to the small lake nearby and even if i wouldn’t swim, i would just sit there, enjoy a book and the sun. The autumn would bring plenty of ducks and i was enjoying going down near the lake with some bread and see how happy they were when i threw them crumbs. The early spring smell of forest was the best in the morning, out on the balcony (of course when the neighbour wasn’t out smoking).

One year passed quite quickly and most of my friends and collagues were gone and so was i in the end of May. It was sunny and warm and my friend came to say goodbye. I have left so many dear memories there.

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