Health Goddess

Bad back

Another day, another physio visit.

I’ve been feeling pain when I walk for the longest time, so long that I cannot remember a time when I could walk and run normally. A few years back, a sports doctor had diagnosed me with leg length discrepancy, with my right leg longer than the left by an inch. The physiotherapist that I had seen subsequently confirmed that and taught me a set of exercises that, she said, would help to strengthen the weaker muscles and even out the workload between the legs.

Well, fast forward to now and the pain hasn’t gone away. In fact, it’s worse. I suppose it doesn’t help that I am constantly running and chasing and carrying a sack of rice, err, I mean my one-year-old toddler. My right knee hurts and my lower back hurts and it just feels like this old body is falling apart bit by bit.

Anyhow, I’ve been thinking of seeing a physiotherapist for a while now but as usual, it keeps slipping my mind. (I blame it on the sleep deprivation!) Until earlier this week, when I sprained my thumb in the middle of the night.

SAY WHUUUUT?

Yeah. I sprained my thumb. The little man woke up at some ungodly hour and was bitching about it quite loudly. Somehow, he had ended up at the foot of the bed and I had to carry him back to where we were. As my hands swept across the bed, my right thumb got caught between the duvet and was left behind. In short, I twisted it backward.

AND THEN I SAT ON IT.

Don’t ask me how I did it. I just did. I don’t remember the details.

The next day, I realised just how badly I had hurt it when I couldn’t even hold my mobile phone in my right hand. I simply could not grasp anything without being in pain. And I decided that it was due time to see a physiotherapist.

I know, right. I have been walking in pain and that wasn’t enough to make me get off my butt to make the appointment BUT A SPRAINED THUMB DID. Priorities, priorities.

Well, the good news is, the thumb is just fine, it will heal on its own, provided I leave it alone. Well, try doing stuff without your thumb. It’s been an interesting experience so far.

The not so good news is that the physiotherapist is pretty certain that I don’t have uneven legs but I do have a curved spine. Also, she suspects that the soft, central portion of my spinal disc is bulging out, affecting the nerves around it and hence causing the intermittent pain. I’m now under strict orders to go for swims and do the upward dog pose everyday, to try to “squeeze” the soft tissue back into place.

Thankfully, the curvature is mild and so is the protrusion. I just need to be diligent with the exercise and be aware of my posture all the time.

You know what? This just tells me that I am no longer young. I feel it in my body, in all the aches that I keep feeling, in the wrinkles that stay put on my face, in the exhaustion that I feel.

Ah, to be young again.

Health Goddess

It’s all the same

I haven’t written about infertility for a while now but it’s always hanging at the back of my mind. Even as we think about having a sibling for the littlest of us all, the possibility that we will have to go through all that heartache again is something that has never left my thoughts.

Recently, a friend of mine confided that he and his wife had failed to conceive after a series of IUIs. Luckily for them, they conceived their two kids after one shot at IUI respectively. Well, I use the term “luckily” very loosely and reluctantly – if they were that lucky to begin with, they wouldn’t be needing the help of artificial reproductive technology (ART) to conceive in the first place. But in the world of infertility, getting it right the first time around is considered extremely fortunate indeed.

Anyway, given their age, they have decided that this would be their last shot at having another child, despite their strong desire to add another little one to their family. He teared while sharing the news with us and it was patently obvious that the decision to give up was not an easy one to make.

While sharing this story with two other friends who also went through IVF, the first reaction that I got from both, on separate occasions, was: but they already have two, they should consider themselves lucky.

It’s true, and yet as I watched him wipe his tears, I realised that the pain of secondary infertility is no lesser than that of primary infertility. The longing for a child is not lessened by the fact that you already have children. While yes, it may help the heartache fade away easier, it’s still painful nonetheless.

Sometimes, I find that those of us who have gone through infertility tend to be a lot more judgmental. Unconsciously, we compare the amount of trauma and hoops that we have had to jump. To be honest, I am guilty of that myself too.

You went through one IUI? Pish, that’s nothing compared to SEVEN.
I had to go through 3 IVFs to conceive, you are so lucky to get your baby at your first IVF.

The thing is, ultimately, all infertility survivors are champions. Full stop. Every journey, every experience is different. Some are stronger than others, some are still searching for that happily ever after. But in the end, we are all brave, brave souls because we dare to take the unknown by the horns and wrestle for a different future.

We are all strong people because we DO something to solve the problem. We try and we try and despite the tears and the heartbreaks, we try and try again. Every little Clomid tablet that we take, every raging headache that we suffer from due to the influx of hormones in our bodies, every experience with the freaking speculum, every indignity that we willingly go through – we do it again and again.

So no matter how many IVFs we had to go through, or how many times we crumbled at the tell-tale sign that our efforts did not succeed, we are all brave and strong.


We wrote on this ema early in our journey while on holiday in Tokyo.

Health Goddess

Pregnancy: the new cure-all

Note: the following contains language pertaining to female plumbing and my womanly health so scoot off if you feel squeamish about reading such stuff.

It has come to my attention that pregnancy is the cure to many of the common woes that plague women.

To my great sadness and extreme irritation, my period went back to work the same week as I did. If I choose to look at the glass half full, I can say that my body is SO in sync with my schedule. Yay. However, since I have been told that I whine quite a bit on the blog, I might as well go the whole hog.

WHY DO I HAVE MY PERIOD WHEN I AM BREASTFEEDING?!

It’s not fair! I mean, I faithfully offer my boob juice to Mr A straight from the tap in the middle of the night almost EVERY. SINGLE. NIGHT. since he was born! AND STILL THE PERIOD ARRIVES. What the eff-ing eff. Some women don’t even get their periods and OOPS, PREGNANT AGAIN (yes, Squirt, I am looking at you).

BUT. I have to say that my cycle has never been more predictable. In the first month, I could actually feel myself ovulating. Those ovaries of mine were bitching like crazy about producing eggs for the first time in 13 months. A couple of weeks later, I told my IVF support group of girlfriends over our WhatsApp group chat that I knew my period was arriving soon because the vajayjay was bitching like crazy about working again so soon after trying to squeeze a baby out.

It promptly came the next day.

Exactly 27 days later, I fell asleep while watching Project Runway at 930pm. I typically DO NOT doze off at 930pm (discounting those times when I am ill) and I have NEVER fallen asleep while watching Project Runway.

My period arrived promptly the next day.

I have NEVER been a textbook 28-day cycle girl, not even after my laparoscopy. And look at me now! I am actually ovulating! (I think.)

PREGNANCY IS THE CURE TO INFERTILITY!

Okay, I’m being sarcastic. You got that, right? Right? The irony is not lost upon me, really.

But seriously, it appears that pregnancy is also the cure for acne. I used to have really shitty skin and it was so bad that my ex-boyfriend would make insensitive comments about it. It was only in recent years, when I started working and had money to see a dermatologist, that it cleared up and looked a wee bit better. But I continued looking like the middle of the Kuwaiti oil field come noon and required loads of blotting paper for my nose to stop shining like a beacon.

Oh wait. No wonder I was such a bad driver. I WUZ BLINDED BY MY OWN NOSE!

Anyway, a gay colleague told me recently that I am glowing and that my skin is so much clearer now that it had been during pregnancy. Apparently, I had “bad breakouts” and looked “drab” then.

As bitchy as he is, I have to admit that his comment is half true. The glowing half, that is. Because now, my skin almost seems radiant and the oil field has been replaced by the Sahara desert! I actually need to use moisturizer under my sun block in the mornings.

MIRACLE!

Forget about those expensive laser treatments, BOTOX and SKII products, just get yourself KNOCKED UP for clear and radiant skin. [boing boing]

Health Goddess, The organised chaos

The long and winding road

This morning, I received some bad news.

A dear friend of mine, who has been on the same infertility journey as I have been, found out that her latest IVF attempt had failed. When the text came in, I was sitting on our bed, playing with our little man. He had been crying and I was trying to make him laugh by pulling him up from a reclining position to a sitting one. It was a hot morning, the air-conditioning wasn’t switched on and his hair was matted to his head. He hadn’t had his bath yet and carried that slightly sour, sweaty but still oh so wonderful smell. Husband had just stepped out from the bathroom and was smiling at the sight of his wife entertaining the little one.

I read the text and my heart fell, remembering that feeling of the world shattering down upon me only too well. I thought about their past struggles and the heartbreaks that they had been through. I thought about how much they deserve their slice of happiness too. I thought about how that used to be us and how we are no longer on that exhausting, pain-riddled road.

I closed my eyes and kissed the top of Aidan’s head. I breathed in the smell of him and told him that I love him, that he was the miracle in my life.

Because he is indeed a miracle.

Nobody, nobody would have ever imagined that we would be where we are today. If you had told me a year ago that I would be cuddling a baby everyday – MY BABY – I would have laughed in your face. I was broken, and I was trying to pick up the pieces and move on. In my most terrible nightmare, I believed that I was destined not to have a child.

And here we are today.

What had kept me going was the belief that things happen for a reason, and that everything had its time and place. I don’t know why they have to go through these trials and tribulations but I believe that they will get their happily ever after.

I just know it.

Friends, Health Goddess

The joys of a new life

This morning, I switched on my phone to find a text message from my friend P: “It’s a girl!”

Such glorious news! I almost jumped for joy, except that I was at the bus-stop and my bus was approaching. Plus, the belly doesn’t allow me to do anything that’s gravity defying these days so I settled for tweeting instead.

P and I found each other on the Internetz shortly after we had announced the pregnancy. Throughout our pregnancies, we exchanged notes and, to the chagrin of our husbands, updates on sales for baby and maternity wear. We were both proponents of hypnobirthing and she was one of those who constantly gave me encouragement about gearing towards a natural, drug-free birth.

Earlier in the week, P was facing the prospect of having to opt for an epidural. I know, in the end, what should matter is that both mother and child are safe. But I also know how much she was looking forward to having that natural, drug-free birth and was hoping and praying that it would go the way she had envisioned. It did and that made the news even sweeter.

Congrats P and J on your little girl! She’s a lucky, lucky child.

**********

In December, I woke up with a strange dream. In it, friends of ours announced their pregnancy. I remember being genuinely happy that they were going to be parents, but also feeling slightly bitter that they were able to conceive just like that.

Later in the day, I related the dream to Mr Thick, telling him about the “pregnancy” but stopping short of mentioning my feelings. He proved that he may be thick in girth but not thick in the brains when he asked, “And…?” The man was perceptive enough to know that there was more to the story than I was letting on. Sheepishly, I told him about how I felt in the dream. He didn’t say a word but simply smiled and gave me a hug.

It just goes to show that even though I am on “the other side” now, I can never relinquish my identity as someone from that side. Yes, I feel truly embarrassed by that green-eyed monster that rears its ugly head whenever I hear of people who just bloody breathe and get knocked up and I try my best to beat it down.

Clearly, I have to learn to be a more gracious person.

Bun in oven, Health Goddess

When darkness came

It hit me like a tonne of bricks from out of nowhere.
One moment I was smiling at a photo of the utterly unglamorous Emi Kat that husband had sent, the next moment my stomach was clenching and trying desperately not to hurl.  
Tanah Merah, the announcement said.  
I closed my eyes and willed my chirlish stomach to behave.  
Breathe, just breathe in, relax.  
The bile continued to rise.  
Come on, breathe in, breathe out, relax.  
I opened my eyes and was startled to see that the world had turned darker, and my vision was as grainy as an old analogue TV set.  
Shit.  
I closed my eyes again to block out that sight.  
It’s going to be okay. Breathe in, breathe out, relax. Shit. What do I do? Should I get off the train? I don’t think I can make it out without collapsing. Okay, let’s stay on the train, keep breathing, it’s gonna pass.  
The music playing in my ears grew faint.  
Suddenly, I couldn’t hear anything at all.  
Damn it.  
I pulled the earphones out and tossed them back into the bag.  
I didn’t want the reminder that I was blacking out.  
Damn it, I am not going to black out.  
Kembangan, the robotic female voice announced.  
I opened my eyes.  
Everything was pitch black.  
Shit. Breathe in. Breathe out. What do people do what they are blacking out. Oh yes, they put their heads between their knees. Yes.  
I bent as much as my stomach and bag would allow, in my seat.  
C’mon, breathe in, breathe out. That’s right, keep breathing.  
I felt the sweat pouring down the sides of my face, slipping down my body, plastering my hair to the back of my neck.  
Just breathe. It will pass. Come on.  
Aljunied, the announcement rang out bossily.  
I sat up and forced my eyes open.  
The world was getting clearer.  
I dug into my bag and fumbled for my phone.  
He picked up on the third ring.  
Hi, don’t freak out but I almost fainted on the train…  
 
***********************  
The growing uterus is shoving everything out of the way, the doctor explained, and this causes your blood circulation to be slower.  
 
It’s just a lack of oxygen supply.  
It’s one of those pregnancy things.  
It’s quite common.  
 
I know.  
I didn’t panic.  
I’m fine.  
I’m thankful that I had a seat on the train.  
 
But it’s yet another reminder that I’m sharing my body with the little man and I have to take it easy, even if I think I can charge full steam ahead.  
 
I can’t.  
 
I have to take better care of myself.  

Bun in oven, Health Goddess

Being late can be good

Me and husband, we are pretty bad at timekeeping.

When I used to work at the Agency, we’d both set the alarm for 7am and only roll out of bed at 730am. Okay, I would roll out of bed at 730 while he gets up a whole 15 minutes ahead of me.

Well, somebody’s got to prepare breakfast, right?

Somehow, we are just absolutely terrible at being punctual and it’s of no surprise that on Saturday, we found ourselves running late for our hospital tour (for the delivery of the tiny human). Now, it wasn’t my fault but his – he had to run an errand with his mother and she came by to pick him up 30 minutes late. This was how we found ourselves arriving at the hospital 15 minutes late for the tour.

Not that we missed much, really. The administrator showing the group of us around was shrill and ineffectual, holding up pictures of the different types of wards in a clear folder and shrieking, “Can you see? Can you see?”

No ma’am, I cannot see and I certainly didn’t come all the way to the hospital to look at pictures through a clear plastic sheet.

And when explaining the differences between a family suite and a single deluxe room, she said, “Oh everything is the same except that a suite has a living room for your visitors. If you want to pay $1,000 extra for your guests to be in the living room, then the suite is for you.”

Mmmkay.

Thankfully though, as the tour came to an end, we asked the administrator if she could show us around the Delivery suite since we had missed out on that. She looked startled and replied vehemently with a series of wild waving at the rest of the group, “I can’t! I can’t! I have to…”

By this time, Mr Thick was getting impatient with her. He asked her bluntly if we could check out the Delivery area on our own and she squeaked out a yes. With an epic roll of our eyes, we left her and the group and went off by ourselves.

The delivery ward was silent and there was nary a person when we made our way in, feeling like intruders. I rang the bell at the counter and miraculously, a nurse appeared less than 10 seconds later. And she was lovely! She showed us the different delivery rooms, answered our questions and even offered to get the nurse manager to speak to us.

Sister Ng was a gem. We asked her questions about hypnobirthing and she told us that all we had to do was to put down our wishes in the birth plan, and the nurses would follow them through, as long as it was endorsed by our doctor. She shared with us the different types of labour tools that they had, and even told us to fax in our birth plan to her for a quick look so that she can advise us on anything that might not be viable. She spent a good 10 minutes with us despite it being lunch hour and was generally kind, warm and friendly.

Now, we feel more assured about delivering in the hospital and knowing that our birth plan will be respected.

See, it does pay to be late!