So, yeah. I abandoned the blog for a few months. I simply could not deal with last winter. It sucked the life out of me.
That first “polar vortex” in January was OK; I expect something like that every winter. But there was also snow every few days. Measurable snow that meant schlepping out to shovel the stairs and sidewalk every two or three days. B used the little electric snow thrower we purchased a couple of years ago to clear the driveway repeatedly. He used it so much that we actually had to order a part that broke on it.
Then we had another “polar vortex.”
We even had snow the week before Easter.
Here it is the second day of May and it’s barely reached into the 5os. We haven’t seen the sun all week. Enough already!!
At the same time, my body had decided to get weird on me. There were mysterious pains in my lower left abdomen again starting in December and continuing through January. Was it another bout of diverticulitis? According to the CT scan in December, apparently not. Ultrasound at the gynecologist’s office revealed an ovarian cyst, and I was told to wait another 6-8 weeks to check it again.
In the meantime, I kept having pain. The heating pad and ibuprofen bottle became my close friends. My internist wanted me to see the colo-rectal surgeon, too, just to make sure there were no issues with diverticulitis. I have a family history of colon cancer, so the doc suggested a colonoscopy. But wait…how do I schedule that procedure when it will likely conflict with the next ultrasound at the GYN? The GYN office was being a PITA and insisting I come at certain point “in my cycle.” I’m almost 47 freakin’ years old!! Do you think I have a “regular cycle?!”
I scheduled another appointment with the gynecologist where I cried and questioned this arcane rule that was looking for something “normal” when I was experiencing something “abnormal.” He relented and I got a schedule together. In this one week I had a colonoscopy on Wednesday and my second ultrasound on Friday.
By the middle of February it was all over: the pain was gone, the tests were done and we had figured out…well…there was nothing seriously wrong, at least. My colon was fine and the ovarian cyst hadn’t gotten any bigger.
In retrospect, it seems to me that I likely never had diverticulitis last spring. I suspect that when I was in the ER last year I was experiencing an ovarian cyst on my left ovary. The ER doc saw that I had diverticula (not uncommon at my age) and blood work revealed a mild infection, so that was the closest diagnosis they could come up with. Probably my peri-menopausal body was starting to misfire, and that was the first instance of abnormal cysts that continued through last year.
Now things are calming down in some ways, yet that doesn’t mean everything is working well. My body is now unpredictable. It’s like being a teenager again. But this is to be expected, I guess, along with the changes in my metabolism.
This is what has been taking up most of my energy and time over the past five months: figuring out what’s going on with my body and how I should live in it now, and dealing with the externalities (like weather) that complicate my life. This is why I stopped writing.
Since change is the new normal for me, I’ve decided to take the plunge this year and move away from Chicago. I’ve been thinking about for at least two years now, and had planned to move when I was around 50. But last winter was the deciding factor for me. I’ve never liked winter, so why put up with it any longer?
My boss says that I can move and still keep my job. He’s based in Los Angeles, so we’re already used to connecting mainly by phone and online meetings. Unfortunately, though, since this is a voluntary move there will be no cost of living adjustment. If I was being financially savvy I’d move someplace with a lower cost of living, but I’m wanting to move as close as possible to the place where I’d like to “retire.” (I put that in quotes because I’m really not sure what retirement will look like for me. I have “bag lady syndrome” and fear that no matter how much I save I’ll be living on the street when I’m old.)
For me that means a move to northern California. Yeah, I’m choosing one of the most expensive parts of the country to move to, and getting no salary increase to help me. I’m going to pass on working out of the San Francisco office and transfer to San Jose instead; the housing costs are still very high, but not *quite* as bad as SF.
There’s a lot to do to prepare, but maybe that’s better to leave for another post.