A rather gloomy update

I’ve got some good news and I’ve got some bad news. Since you can’t tell me which you’d like to hear first, I shall begin with the good.

The good news is that, upon the suggestion of my brilliant assistant Kate, I was able to devise a clever plan to check my iron levels without having to go to the doctor at all.   The past week or so I’ve felt a familiar and disturbing sense of exhaustion and ‘drag’ for lack of a better word, with no explanation for it.  Fearing I was once again anemic, Katie suggested I try donating blood at one of the hospital trucks that frequents the university I work at.  They are required to screen donors for anemia first, so it seemed like a perfect, win-win situation.  I could alleviate my fear of recurring anemia, while at the same time donate healthy blood to someone who needed it.

The only problem was that my whole plan came crashing into a million little pieces in every way possible.  First, I was immediately rejected as a donor based on my weight and a heart condition I have called tricuspid valve disease (though it’s been under control for some time and not currently a problem at all).  Despite my assurance of this, they told me I’d have to go to hospital to donate so that my heart could be monitored in the process, and also gain some weight. Discouraged at this point but not quite ready to give up,  I asked if they’d at least check my iron level to ensure it was ok before taking the drive out to PIH.

And thats where the bad news comes in. I actually am anemic. Again.  For anyone who’s ever been through something like this, you understand how devastating it is to hear that. Months of going to an infusion center and getting needles stuck up your arm, numerous allergic reactions, steroids and countless appointments,  only to discover it’s already depleted again is more than a little bit discouraging. It’s dispiriting.  At this point I’m still deciding what I’m going to do, since this was not supposed to happen for at least another year, at the earliest.  It’s hard to begin to imagine going back to see my doctor at this point since I know they’ll want to do more screening, probably a bone biopsy and possibly begin blood transfusions.

I dread all these things.

While I realize it will be important to go back sometime, if I am completely honest with myself, I know I can’t right now.  I’m worn out and want to live my life for a while, at least a little while.  Perhaps I’ll take most of the summer to do so before diving back into those sterile rooms, stark lights and cold needles.

Though I tell you this because it’s reality at the moment for me, I greatly dislike posts of this sort.  I do not want to leave you with such gloomy sentiment as this, and so will venture to say that I am not completely disheartened by this unexpected turn in the road.  How can I be?  I am alive, not in any life-threatening condition, and still able to enjoy every day to the fullest. I have my beautiful beasts at home, two jobs I love, and am blessed with some of the dearest people on earth.  I’ve got blue skies and sunshine, coffee and sushi, oceans and sunsets. I’ve got horses to ride, dogs to train, mountains to climb, trails to run,  and people to love. And I have quiet places to rest and listen to the stillness, reminding me of God’s goodness and all He has blessed me with.

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“A smooth sea never made a skillful sailor’ -unknown

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A heart’s battle

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A suffering soul once asked me how it was I had not become jaded by some of the hardship, pain and significant loss I had experienced over the years.   I smiled at her question, thinking it was rather funny until I realized she was serious.  My answer to her was simple.

I had.

I’m no saint, I told her, I’ve built up walls and broken them down many times throughout my life.  I’ve pushed people away and distrusted humanity through and through, closing off my heart entirely to the world, finding solace only in a vast internal darkness of impenetrable comfort. I’ve lived seasons in isolation, so sick of the pain of what I’d endured that I no longer found it worth my while to interact with another human being again.

And yet, it did not remain so.  Although I still struggle in this from time to time, somewhere along the way I discovered that I do not really believe in that dark place. Not really.  When I set my fear aside and am truly honest with myself, I find that there is something so beautiful in choosing to remain gentle-hearted despite the blows, amidst the fire and storm and blood and brokenness, that it’s all truly worth it in the end. Therin lies a willingness to give up the cold comfort of that dark place within, filled with self-sufficiency, pride, and a ‘right’ to be angry and bitter. For in sacrificing such weighted armor, one finds a depth of love and freedom words can never give justice to.  To forgive and bear one’s wounds with grace does not mean to excuse whats been done, but to find freedom from it.

There is a certain type of gentle soul who breaks the hardest of hearts and reaches deep into the eyes of the broken, to a place of pain only they can see. Such souls cannot be fabricated, they are borne of a suffering in the darkness of the woods, having come out the other side bearing it’s scars but leaving behinds it’s terror. Rather than perpetuate the night, they choose to let the breaking of their own hearts teach them how to care for the aching souls around them, turning their scars into burning marks of hope.

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Trader Joe’s Spoils…and it’s spoiling me

I have been sitting here for the past five minutes trying to remember all the delightful finds from my last Trader Joe’s trip.  To my chagrin I have only been able to recollect a few, and the fact that I know there are more but I cannot remember them is troubling me.

Grrr.

Serves me right for waiting so long, again, to share them with you.  Shame on me, you’d think I’d have learned my lesson by now.

In any case, perhaps as I tell you about the ones I do remember, the ones I don’t will somehow come magically flying into my head.

Lobster Ravioli

OK. This is good. Very good. I grabbed it one evening during a week when I couldn’t seem to get anything down, and this made it’s way in without a problem.  It’s just so delicious it will charm it’s way into anyone’s tummy.  I made mine with an alfredo sauce over some fresh arugula, the whole prep time took like five minutes.

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Ends & Pieces fruit bits

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I found these to be a fun snack to have around, one because they have good flavor and aren’t packed with extra sugar, and two because they’re all cut up into various shapes and sizes which delighted my non-conformist/artistic/very imperfect self. Yum.

They also make your hands sort of sticky. Double yum.

Artichoke

I suppose you don’t have to go to Trader Joe’s for a good artichoke, but as I recall the price was decent and, lets face it, when isn’t it a good time for an artichoke?  After trimming it up, I usually steam mine for 20 minutes or so, melt some butter with freshly chopped garlic to dip it in, and go to it.

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Chocolate Covered Sunflower Seeds.

Alright, I admit it.  I bought these mostly because they were so enchanting and took me captive by their bright colors and tiny-ness. I really had no choice in the matter, actually. But I’m happy to tell you their beauty is by no means skin deep, they are as delicious as they are delightful.

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Since my memory is failing me miserably at this point and I am unable to recall any more of what I’ve found at TJ’s the past two months,  I set before you a challenge, my dear reader.

Here, you see, is YOUR shelf (although it looks sadly akin to my own at this moment, actually…yikes)

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I challenge you to comment and share your own Trader Joe’s treasure.  If I haven’t mentioned whatever it is in any of my previous TJ blogs, I shall feature your pick below. (: Come’on now, you can’t keep it to yourself forever, now can you?

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So it seems my friend Voo has played a very dirty trick on me.  As most of you know, I abhor cilantro.  It tastes like soap. No, it tastes worse than soap, it tastes like poison mixed with cilantro, which is worse than poison.

His pick just happens to have cilantro in it, (hmmm) but since I promised I would feature any of my reader’s faves mentioned in the comments, I will have to post it.

Sigh

Cilantro and Chive Yogurt Dip with Gorgonzola Crackers- VOO’S PICK

The crackers I have tasted and mentioned in previous TJ’s blogs.  They are scrumptious as scrumptious gets.  I cannot say the same for the dip, however, as I will likely never try it without a whole lot of incentive.  I hope you have the courage to try it, but don’t blame me if you end up with a  soapy mouth :/

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