If you feel like giving your eyes some exercise, here is the Facebook post that started this blog…

MY SURGERY TODAY

KRISTIN EILEEN·TUESDAY, OCTOBER 13, 2015

Long story short, I’m about to undergo major joint replacement surgery in a few hours. For the short story long, I wrote about it below. If you have any questions, I will be more than happy to give more information about it. It might take a few days to reply because I will be out of commission for awhile. Also, I will be on a crap-ton (which I believe is the medical term for a lot) of painkillers so I don’t know how that’s going to go. I’m feeling a little nervous at the moment, so send some good vibes my way if you can! It’s going to be a five hour surgery. On a lighter note, I have decided that my Halloween costume this year will be the Hunchback of Notre Dame because I will look a hot mess while recovering. Can’t wait to answer the door for all the kiddos!

I knew this day was coming for about a year and a half. I’ll get right to it; the joints in my jaw are completely gone. Yup, gone. It is painful when I talk or chew. I’ve been dealing with this for years so I’ve become used to it in a weird way. The surgery is to replace the joints in my jaw with some of my own fat cells and screws. They also have to break my upper and lower jaw in six places and reset everything. I have to be on a liquid diet for at least a month because I won’t be able to open my mouth while things heal. I’m also not allowed to fly anywhere for three months due to cabin pressure and possible blood clots, so I won’t be home for Christmas this year. It’s going to suck but it is what it is.

I’ve been dealing with what they think is an autoimmune disorder for a good portion of my 20’s. I have the symptoms with a few joints and my blood work shows the CRP, but no RA factor or certain gene mutations, so I’ve managed to baffle a few specialists as to what it is exactly. All I do know is that it’s an autoimmune disorder which affects some of my joints. I’ve been very guarded about this because I was embarrassed and frustrated. It’s a hard thing to deal with physically and emotionally.

In the beginning, I was put on medication that made me feel worse. I stopped taking the steroids and methotrexate when my symptoms increased and my hair started falling out. For a girl, it’s a pretty traumatic thing to go through. Were there times after visiting my rheumatologist that I’d cry my eyes out in the car? You bet. Was there a time when my mascara smeared all over my face and somehow formed a gigantic unibrow that scared the guy working in the parking garage? Oh God, yes. I’ve been the subject in a room full of Drexel med students, passed along to a ton of specialists, and ripped off by people who hide under the guise of “holistic healing.” Don’t get me wrong, I respect natural medicine and a holistic approach. However, out of the thousands out here, I’d say 90% are undereducated and full of it. I have a great story about a terrible holistic doctor and the karma which came to him in the form of yours truly and my sushi leftovers. It’s too long to write about now, but feel free to ask me later on!

Altering my diet and adhering to an intense exercise routine seem to help manage things for me, and that’s how I’m dealing with my situation currently. I love sweets and hate exercising in a gym, so this year has been a huge change. In the beginning, I tried to cheat on my workouts but my trainer would catch on and make me pay dearly no matter how I was feeling. He specializes in people with arthritic conditions so he shows no mercy (satan jk). Now I can’t go a day without it because it really has improved things for me. Some days are better than others and I try to do as much as I can on good days. Other days I’m in so much pain and sometimes I haven’t even opened my eyes to wake up yet. The only way I can describe it is that it feels like semi-dried concrete in your joints. It’s not fun, but I still have a life to live and I push myself to live it.

Lately I’ve been obsessed with determining which species in the gut affect certain parts of the human genome that trigger gene mutations which cause molecular mimicry. Why? Because I had the pleasure of seeing my blood under a microscope and observed something trying to attack some of my white blood cells. I want to figure out a way to stop that. I also want to know what those things are and where they come from. I know white blood cells attack the body which can result in inflammation. However, I saw something attacking my white blood cells so I’m curious. Was I witnessing an organism trying to influence my white blood cells to attack myself? Is this somehow related to the master switch protein theory? Or was one type of white blood cell (myeloids) attacking the other type of white blood cell (lymphocytes) due to mimicry; a little white on white crime here? Is that even possible? If so, does this stem from an imbalance in the gut? That might be totally wrong. I actually email professors from different universities these questions and they occasionally respond to my crazy ass. I haven’t found an answer to it all yet, but I hope I’m onto something. I don’t give up easily on things that matter to me. Sorry I know this stuff is so random…

I’ve only told a handful of people about this and I want to say thank you for just being there. The last two years were especially difficult. It was a time when I needed love the most. I lost around fifteen pounds and it didn’t matter how much I’d eat. I would have intense pain when I’d try to eat certain foods to gain weight. I felt ugly and sick all the time. There were days when I almost wanted to quit, but I’d get a call or text that would cheer me up and take my mind off of things. I’ve even had some friends bust down my door to hang out with me here for which I am so grateful. My trainer works with me for free, and my nutritionist only charges me a fourth of what she costs. They wanted to help because they heard what I’m about to go through. I’m genuinely surprised with how nice people can be when you are able to open up. I’m usually very private with personal matters and stubborn when it comes to asking for help. I’ve learned that it’s not good to be like that anymore.

For those just finding out now, I’m sorry I wasn’t ready to open up sooner. I asked my family to keep this private until I felt comfortable talking about it. My surgery is the real reason my parents are visiting me right now. Hans doesn’t have Facebook but he has seen how bad it can be throughout the years and helped me through a lot. I want to give him a shout out. I owe him big time and I will always have love for him no matter what! Thank you guy so so much! To my friends, I’m sorry if I came across flakey; it wasn’t my intention. The reality is that I can’t keep up sometimes, so I have to stay at home and rest. I have also been on an incredibly restricted diet for the last two months and man it sucks! I tried to sneak a couple of cookies a few weeks ago (rough estimate: 10 to 15 cookies) and the nutritionist I’m working with was able to tell with the frigging blood work! When I see those Keebler EL Fudge cookies it’s like hide yo kids hide yo wife! They’re my weakness! So it’s too hard to go out for me right now because I have to be really disciplined.

Now, I don’t want sympathy because of this. I’ve felt sorry for myself for years and it does absolutely nothing. I’ve also seen many people in various specialists’ waiting rooms who are way worse than I am, which is incredibly heartbreaking. Before coming out here, I volunteered to hang out with children with all kinds of health issues. It was hard to see what some of them were going through, but they were my little warriors! I was the adult, but they were handling things better emotionally than I was. Realizing that really helped me to suck it up and shift my negative thoughts to positive ones. I started to appreciate the good things I have in my life. I also learned the hard way that kids are in fact little sponges. [“Who taught you that word? Oh, I did? Shiiiiiiiii…….p!”]

As far as my surgery today goes, I know I’m going to be fine because I’m clearly a badass. Okay, maybe not… but I’m so excited to begin a new chapter in my life after this is behind me! My life has been put on hold for a few years. People ask me all the time when am I going to settle down and get married, etc. I’d play it off that I didn’t want to anytime soon because I was embarrassed. It was just easier to lie at the time. Trust me, I totally want to walk down the isle and make little cherubs and be a Pinterest mom that makes random crap around the house one day like a real girl haha!!! I just have to take care of myself first.

There is something I do want. I will be recovering for the next few weeks. I’ve already watched most of the good stuff on Netflix years ago because they never update anything ever! I’m going to be going out of my mind just laying in bed. If you guys could send some funny or entertaining stuff my way I’d really appreciate that. Laughter truly is the best medicine for this girl! Thanks for taking the time to read this if you did. It’s a lot to take in on a Tuesday. Alright, I’m signing off. Wish me luck!