Howdy Readers, Friends, Loved Ones.
Much like the President and his State of The Union, I feel like coming here and posting a big ole update about my health and where it stands is something I like to do, and I do on a sorta regular basis. I mean, it’s totally as legit at the State of the Union, right?
I mention my health in passing, and for the sake of advocacy, understanding, and information – I like to be an open book. It’s been more than eight years since my battle against Stage III Lymphoma played out publicly in college – but my own health issues and ordeals are not over. In going through all of that in front of so many others, I realized that by being open, I was helping others. So many people who’ve dealt with cancer have reached out to me, and I’ve helped how and where I can. Yes, it’s in small and tiny ways, but good ways nonetheless. So, when I can… I’ve been able to offer compassion, support, empathy, and love. And now with my sweet ole blood disease, I am just doing what I know how to do: be a blabbermouth, and if anyone needs help, I’ll do my best.
I have porphyria.
It’s a blood disease. It’s genetic. There’s no cure, and you have it forever.
It’s complicated, weird, hard to explain, hard to understand – yes, it’s all of these things… but, it’s manageable.
By far the biggest, best, and most amazing breakthrough in my life as a person with acute porphyria was the DNA test I had done in Hawaii. I know the exact mutation in my genetic code that causes the blood disease I have. And if you think you’re special – allow me to trump you. I am, to date, THE ONLY person to have ever been tested with this exact mutation. Talk about ONE OF A KIND!
Now. I know I’m not really all that unique. The likelihood that members of my family share this specific mutation is very high. We are likely a one-of-a-kind porphyria family. And given how genetic diseases and mutations work, well it’s not really that fancy.
So… onto the good stuff:
HOW AM I DOING?
I’m okay. I’ve had some attacks lately. Triggers-and-attacks is the cycle of my disease, with lovely periods of calm remission in between. Triggers for me include stress, illness, medications of certain kinds, alcohol, preservatives, lack of sleep, and more. Around the holidays I was eating tons of processed meat and cheeses, which I love, but which are oh so bad for me. Add to that the ole Santa Pub Crawl I couldn’t miss out on, and a lot of travel and staying up late, and well – I created my own little perfect storm, didn’t I?
I did. I made some bad choices… and I payed up for it. I felt pretty crummy for a good chunk of December. I modified my behavior though, because I love my body and want to give myself the best shot possible. Even though some choices seem tough in the moment, in the long run they’re important.
After a while of clean living and good choices, I seemed to have really pulled out of things.
I am feeling better now. At last month’s visit to my docs, we adjusted my meds. I am now happily on a new form of medication that I get through a patch. Isn’t technology rad? Since porphyria affects my liver and its enzymes and red blood cell production, getting meds into my body without bothering my liver is excellent. Yesterday I went back again, and we tweaked the doses a bit, so once those get filled and I regulate out… I’m hoping my day-to-day will be even better. It’s really nice to be on meds that don’t have so many long-term effects on me and side effects, etc.
I’m seeing a couple new doctors, too – and they are really wonderful and very committed to helping me get the treatment I need, when I need it. I’ve just recently opened up the lines of communication with my local in-town doctor, so the next time an attack happens – I can get into a hospital nearby and get the IV treatments that help me stop an early attack in its tracks. And now the meds I need, should a serious attack occur, will be known and available (in Hawaii, this was pretty serious – they didn’t have ANY of these meds on the island before I got there… eeks!).
Coming from the military system to civilian world of medical care has been… well, halting. The expense of my meds alone was enough to crank up my stress to attack-inducing levels. Finding the right meds, that my insurance will cover, has been a task. It was pretty crazy there for a little while, but things are looking up for me now. It’s also been hard to piece together a communicative team of experts. In the military system, all my docs could see each other’s notes, save for my primary care – they were all in the same building. So the convenience factor has shifted a bit, it’s been a learning process, but it’s getting there. I am happy with the team I have now, and I trust their expertise and compassion – very much so.
Otherwise, nothing really new or crazy or wild to report.
I’m still me. I’m still human. I try and live life just as me, weirdo wacky Rose… and not as a person afraid to experience life and deal with the affects on my body. It’s a balance though. And in every attack I experience, I wise up about my triggers and the lifestyle choices I need to, and should, make to avoid bringing issues upon myself.
So, there you go.
I still have Porphyria. It’s not going anywhere! But, everyday I think I get a little better at navigating what it means for me and coping with it all. And umm, I’ll give a shout-out to my handsome life partner, Duggs (my husband) because he’s been an awesome man to have by my side through all of it. My whole family is very supportive, and once again – I find myself feeling very blessed to have access to competent medical care.
Thanks for reading! And thanks for following along the wacky and weird and up-and-down journey that is my health.
HHR – Happy Hippie Rose
PS: Just because I share what I go through, please don’t think that my porphyria is all I am or all that I focus on. I’m a real, breathing, dynamic person. And since my health is something people who know me worry about… and by being open and posting about it publicly I can help add to the available points of view out there on porphyria (since there aren’t many), reducing stigmas and encouraging others to talk about it, learn more, and so on… I do tend to mention it more often online than I probably do in real life. But it’s just like anything that’s in a persons focus – real, but only one part of a whole, multifaceted life.