New year, new me… mes

12/1/2021 Clinic note:

35-year-old female here for end of year evaluation.

Chief complaint is apathy towards bills and household chores.

Patient demands refill for doxycycline but is otherwise pleasant.

Exam is unremarkable. Patient performs unsolicited arabesques.

CBC and metabolic panel values have improved. Patient attributes this to her “nutrient dense diet,” which includes cheeseburgers, several pounds of tomatoes, and champagne.

Patient ask for letter of medical necessity for surf school in Costa Rica. Denied request. Offered preemptive orthopedic referral.

Okay, maybe I wrote that myself, but I DID send it to my doctor–actually, all of my doctors–on the back of my 2021 holiday card. I want them to know how profoundly life changing adequate MCAS treatment can be.
If only I could send them clips of my Finding My Range interviews as well. My first interview was recorded in November 2020, before my remission. My second interview was recorded in November 2021, as I was celebrating 7 months of remission. You can see and hear the incredible difference. I completely underestimated the impact of inflammation and pain on my personality. It is a great reminder to be gentle with ourselves and others when our bodies are hurting.
If you haven’t watched the latest episode yet, check it out to hear more about how I discovered I was in remission, how remission has eliminated my subluxations and dysautonomia, and how “remission” of symptoms is probably more common than we recognize.

After recording the latest episode, new research was published offering clues about why doxycycline may have eliminated my hEDS symptoms. Read the study. My case is encouraging this research team to think about a clinical trial for EDS. Of course, there are a lot of variables, but I am so hopeful my experiences and documentation will help lead to important discoveries to help so many people.

Of course, 2021 wasn’t perfect. My annual resolution is “more jokes, less pokes.” Although I only needed one IV for MCAS before remission, I was poked for adrenal crisis, skin cancer, and vaccination. Unexpectedly, remission made me so wiggly and excited I couldn’t sit long enough to perfect my one liners. With the help of winter, I am finally able to read and write again… in short intervals between adventures. 

My 2022 resolution is: New year, new memes. (Why the hell would I want a new me?) I have no idea what the content will be; I just know–with this glorious body–there will be no shortage of inspiration. I looking forward to laughing with you in 2022. 

Six years

Six years ago, I was diagnosed with mast cell activation syndrome (MCAS). Although no one is happy to have a disease, let alone one as complicated as MCAS, I celebrate my Dx day, because I know how incredibly lucky I was to get diagnosed. 
On December 22, 2015, I drove a mere 5 blocks (because I was so inflamed I couldn’t walk) across campus from my office and paid a $35 copay with no awareness that I was seeing a world leading MCAS specialist. At the time, I couldn’t even find a definition of MCAS on the internet, let alone treatment options.  I had no idea my diagnosis would explain a lifetime of health challenges literally starting from birth (e.g. anemia, food intolerances, interstitial cystitis). 
Diagnosis provided so much validation, but it did not solve my problems. Calming my mast cells required an immense amount of work. Last year, I described the first five years:

  • 2016: Total destruction and despair
  • 2017: Renovating my life
  • 2018: Building a support system
  • 2019: Survival and self-advocacy
  • 2020: Dreaming again

This year, my dreams are coming true. Last week, I celebrated 6 years of diagnosis and 8 months of remission. Today, I am celebrating the launch of my first online course, Maximizing Your Medical Appointments, to help people with MCAS and other chronic illnesses.

Although on Instagram, my life looks like one nonstop gleeful adventure,  I have spent most of my free time in the past three months in front of a computer pouring my knowledge and energy into this course. I created the course that I wish I had in 2015. This information would have saved me time, energy, and money. 

MCAS is unpredictable. Continued remission isn’t guaranteed. I have no idea what next year will be like. But I refuse to waste a single drop of my glorious remission energy worrying about it. As long as I can, I will continue creating joy and hope for our community. 

Halloween treats

Halloween costumes with poodles

When my body became a daily horror, I gave up on celebrating Halloween. Costumes, makeup, and candy–all triggered mast cell reactions. As I struggled with the wicked end of mold and ragweed season, I told myself I was too old to enjoy the festivities. Life was all tricks, and no treats.

Well, I most certainly am not too old, because this year, now in remission, I wore three costumes and celebrated harder than a sugar intoxicated 8-year-old. It all started with a Halloween playlist, and then it quickly escalated to dancing and social media.

I had a few enablers like Dr. Linda Bluestein, who responded with enthusiasm when I hesitantly suggested we learn the Thriller dance.

I had so much fun learning Thriller and dancing with Dr. Bluestein that I picked up some cozy skeleton pajamas and learned the Monster Mash.

My best friend, Julia taught me how to apply lashes and a smokey eye (while drinking red wine), obviously requiring a more intense costume (and a red party light?).

At this point, it only made sense that I would enter my local AKC agility trial’s costume contest as Little Bo Peep with my sheep.

Keeya dressed in a blue dress holding a white shepherd staff next two her two toy poodles
Little Bo Peep inevitably lost one of her sheep, but the other sheep triple qualified and titled.

As I ran around the agility ring yelling I LOST MY SHEEP, I realized not only was I having a blast, but I was making people all around me smile and laugh. Halloween isn’t childish or unnecessary. The true meaning of Halloween is creating joy and laughter, sprinkled with terror. Isn’t that basically the mission statement of this blog is anyway?!

On Saturday night, I attended my first party in six years. I danced to salsa, West Coast swing, East Coast swing, reggaeton, pop, and Middle Eastern dance music until 1 AM, while taking breaks for water, champagne, Thai food, and cheesecake. When Thriller came on, I pelvic thrusted my way to the center of the room, past the doctors and professional dancers (apparently this is a common mix?) who I had just met, and someone gasped, “Oh she’s really doing it, huh?!”

Oh yeah, I really did it. And I can’t wait to do it again.

Past Halloween posts