Howdy! So – either you’re enjoying randomly clicking on the Bottled Time tabs or you’d like to know a little bit more about the person behind this blog. “Well, pay NO attention to the woman behind the curtain!” *Cue sparks and loud booms.* Wizard of Oz references aside, (and who doesn’t love a good Oz reference?), if it’s the former- you really should avert your eyes or click a different tab now. If it’s the latter…well, pull up a chair my friend and let me bend your ear for a moment.
Whoa! Tosha, I just scrolled ahead and this looks really long. I don’t want that much information! Isn’t there a short-version?
Sure friend – I’m married to an amazing man. We have a dog, a cat, and some fish. I’ve got some medical stuff going on. And some of my other interests include music, art, and literature.
For the rest of you – here’s the long version:
The Medical Stuff:
My name is Tosha. I’m 31 years old. Those who know me well know that it was really hard for me to write that last sentence.
Just give me a moment here.
Ok – I think my breathing has returned to normal. Please don’t misunderstand. I don’t think that the “dreaded 30” is particularly old. It’s just that I can’t believe that I’m that age. I should be closer to twenty-three, still considered a newly-wed, working in my field (counseling psychology) and saying things like, “Of course we want children, but not now; we have plenty of time.” My husband and I ought to be cavorting around the world on motorcycles and making the mistakes that youth affords. Instead, it’s like I blacked out for several years and when I woke up my husband, Michael, and I were no longer carefree 20-somethings, but instead were deemed full-fledged adults enmeshed in the web of chronic illness with well-intentioned friends and family members seriously concerned that we’re selfishly never going to procreate. In lieu of traipsing around the globe, we’re trekking back and forth to doctors appointments several times a week, spending month-long stretches in hospital rooms, and dealing with an endless list of not so pleasant symptoms that we try to manage as best as possible.
And I do not use “we” lightly. Yes, I am the one who is in pain, who can’t seem to leave a rest-room, and who has trouble getting out of bed for days (or weeks, or months at a time). But my husband is right there with me. He goes to the majority of my doctor appointments. He spends countless nights in tiny-cramped-up chairs in my hospital rooms. He helps manage my three-page list of medications. He caters to my food restrictions, adopting many of them himself – just to make things easier on me. He tries to make me as comfortable and my days as pleasant as possible. He does what he can to help with the pain and my other symptoms. He picks up my slack around the house. He deals with my roller-coaster of emotions as I traverse this rocky road. (I never really thought that phrase, “roller-coaster of emotions” quite adequately described things. Yes, there are certainly ups and downs, but roller-coasters are exciting and fun – even on the downs – especially on the downs. There’s nothing particularly exciting or fun about plunging into the depths of depression, anger, or despair. Perhaps a more appropriate term would be a “stock-market of emotions”). Michael’s also of course gone through his own stock-market as my Dish. And it is together that we are both looking down the life-long barrel of the chronic illness gun.
So – which chronic illness is to blame for all of this? Which one can we smack around with a sock-full-of coins to punish it for its pure evilness? Well, unfortunately it’s not just one. If you’d like to take revenge on my behalf, you’re going to need quite a few socks. You see, auto-immune diseases like to breed auto-immune diseases. They wine and dine each other and have little auto-immune-disease babies. My current list includes: Indeterminate Colitis- my immune system is attacking my digestive system (Inflammatory Bowel Disease, or IBD, comes in two main forms: Ulcerative Colitis and Crohn’s. For those special lucky-ducks like myself – there is also a third category called Indeterminate when they can’t figure out if you have Crohn’s, Ulcerative Colitis, or a rare unnamed version); Interstitial Cystitis – my immune system is attacking my urinary system; and Arthritis – my immune system is attacking my joints (a result of the IBD). In conjunction with these diseases (partly from them and their treatments), I also have numerous other issues including, but certainly not limited to: epilepsy; migraines; chronically low blood counts, anemia, and kidney stones.
I have had many surgeries related to these diseases. Most notably, in January 2008, my IBD decided it wanted to end my life but my doctors and I disagreed with it- so, I had a total colectomy (they removed my entire colon), which saved my life and consequently allowed me to assault you with this blog. So – if you’re upset or offended by anything you find here – I recommend that you contact my surgeon, as it’s his fault that I’m alive. (Or, if you’re in need of a good surgeon and live in the Virginia Beach area – I also recommend that you contact him). Following my colectomy, I lived with an ileostomy for about a year and a half and I now currently have a j-pouch.
I started having the symptoms of these diseases when I was about 14, but didn’t receive any proper diagnoses until my early 20’s. Shortly after my diagnoses, my diseases chucked me over a waterfall and kept me kicking for the surface for several years. However, I have learned a lot since then and am now able to (mostly) keep my head above the water and swim with the current. I usually doggy-paddle, but at least I keep going. And when I do get pulled under, my experience has taught me that I will eventually find oxygen again. Questions about my faith and life generally emerge in and around these dark-murky depths. During these times, I usually want nothing to do with religion, but it is in facing these questions and growing spiritually that I can begin to breathe again.
The Non-Medical Stuff:
Obviously, the illness-related-sob-story could go on for many pages. Let’s call it good for now. I’m sure my medical-related posts will reveal more to you and you’re welcome to email me if you’re curious or have any specific questions. Moving on to the other parts of who I am. I come from a “modern family.” I have ten brothers and sisters and am accumulating enough nieces and nephews to invade Canada. (They’ll never expect an assault from a bunch of little-ones. Mwhahahahaha!)*
Outside of “studying medicine,” as my husband puts it, my interests include reading, writing, music, theater, photography, travel, crocheting, and bike riding (both the pedal and the motor varieties). My body doesn’t always agree with these interests so my participation in them fluctuates.
Melding my interests: Some of my photos of my favorite things!
Sharing our home is a gray-striped cat with an orange diamond on her head, named Detroit, and a Schweenie dog (shih-tzu – miniature dachshund) named Eleanor Roosevelt. Out of all those warm bodies, who’s the ruler of the roost? It really depends on the day, so whoever you guessed is most likely correct as long as he/she does not walk on two legs.
That’s me in a blog-shell. I hope you enjoyed our little chat. If not – well, you had the option to “click” away at any point – so whose fault is it really that you’re dissatisfied? Oh yeah, my surgeon’s. For the two of you who made it this far and for some unknown reason still want more Tosha-licious-goodness- email me at BottledTimeBlog@Gmail.com or leave a comment.
Have a blessed day!
*I truly have nothing against Canada. In fact, I think it’s quite lovely, if a bit cold, eh. Also – I am clearly joking about turning my nieces and nephews into a little army. But, there are places around the world where this is happening. Check out Invisible Children to learn a bit more about this horror and what you can do to help.