Missing piece. . .

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After all this time, I was finally given a vital puzzle piece that has been missing my whole life.

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Spending the entirety of my existence isolated, alone, different, socially inept, and emotionally retarded, has been exhausting and frustrating to say the least.
However, there appears to be a light at the end of my tunnel after all.  Maybe, all of my seeming suffering has not been “for a reason” and hasn’t actually been suffering at all.  Just ignorance.

Ignorant to the possibility, until now, that I’ve gone through my entire childhood, adolescence, and adult life up to now, never knowing that I could be autistic.
Then, all of a sudden a light comes on…
Well, not really all of a sudden.  After endless hours of research and studying, multiple outlooks and opinions, initial disbelief and proof gathering…
My life finally make sense!  Myself, finally makes sense.  It. Makes. So. Much. Sense.
The missing puzzle piece I’ve been searching my whole life to understand how I am, how my brain works, has finally been found.
My deepest issues have finally been unearthed.  And I feel both a sense of overwhelming relief, as well as shame and fear all at once. 
I’m eager to go to my peers and share with them the news, give them the explanation of why I’m so different and quirky and weird and passionate and irresponsibly honest, but I’m evenly afraid of the stigma that comes attached to a Autism Spectrum Diagnosis.  I’m thinking of all of the relationships both intimate and interpersonal that I’ve had in my life, and I’m weary of the people that now seem to have taken advantage of me.  I don’t want to feel anymore victimized, I’m not looking for any excuses. I’m hesitant to unleash the expected criticism and belittling, I’m anxious to become even more a social leper for having a condition that the majority of people still do not understand.   I don’t even understand it that much yet, but I know I’m eager to learn as much as there is to know.  I know that I’ve always felt an empathy for obviously autistic persons due to the difficulty of communication and expression it causes. I’ve never thought myself to be autistic before, because I never knew there was a spectrum.  But, I’m glad that I know now. I’m okay with being different, I’ve always been that. 
And I’m happy to be able to put that puzzle piece in place and finally feel complete.
I’m beginning my life over again, starting with a better understanding of who I am.  And doesn’t everyone want that?

Hello everyone, 
My name is Kalani and I have Asperger’s Syndrome.
All that means, is that I’m completely normal, I’m educated and intelligent, I’m able to function in nearly every way (expect socially) like everybody else, my brain is just wired a little bit different.

Thanks for coming on this life unfolding journey with me via Life in Reality, and I’m excited to see where we go together next. . .  Stay Tuned!

The Ugly Truth

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This is about to be a super real, raw, ugly, honest, extremely vulnerable experience for me. . .
Not that I attempt to hide the ugly truth, or lie in any way, but like most, I’ve customarily been delicate with how I’ve revealed certain aspects of my life in the past.  Like any human in our social media society today, I’ve taken care to minimize the damage, accentuate the thrills, and saturate the entertainment value of my posts…
I’ve offered you all a slice of my life.  A layer of the onion that is our marriage.  Not manufactured, but presented at the optimal angle for acceptable selfies.
My usual writing routine, is to diagnose a difficult situation and then share that diagnosis and/or process with you all.
What I’m offering you tonight, at my darkest hour, in my most vulnerable position, after arguing with doctors/admin this morning, fighting with my husband this afternoon, followed by fighting with my infant all night, chased by two glasses of wine, and culminating with a conversation between me and my best friend….
(a state in which I should not be writing)
Is the most brutal, unedited, undiagnosed honesty I’ve ever offered the public.  So, I hope you at least appreciate that.

Pretext:
In the past few weeks, mostly within the month of Feb, now being the 19th, I’ve found myself losing my firm, organized grip on my own human existence.  Everything from my physical wellness (declining health due to chronic illness), to my emotional state (probably related), and psychological abilities have been running from low to empty.
The first real fight between my husband and I happened earlier this month, about two weeks ago.  Nothing specific triggered it, just a building tension that he finally questioned me on, which popped a bubble of resentment that had been building for days/weeks, unbeknownst to him.
We scheduled a date-night asap and it seemed to be exactly the thing we needed to get back on track…
However, this week has seemed to push as many buttons as can be pushed in one week, for my husband as well as for me I suppose. He relays that he’s getting burdened at work as much as I’m getting burdened at home, drowning under the duties of being housekeeper, nanny, teacher, therapist, secretary, planner, cook, advisor, and on-call escort. All without having the privilege of being a woman
Without having my attributes recognized, my talents and creativity, my knowledge and usefulness going unnoticed, unrecognized, unappreciated to say the least.
The exact details of independent disasters are too many to count, which cover the gamut between personal health, children’s health, and business endeavors, but the biggest, most present collapses this day are as dictated in a conversation had with a dear friend this night.
And that, unedited -at least on my part – personal conversation is what I offer to you now. . . .

It began with her sending me news of her latest blog.  She felt the need to write, but lacks inspiration and so rushed out a few paragraphs of text and was feeling artistic guilt and self-criticism for not offering more…
At a place of utter, and absolute overwhelm, and a restless baby semi-attached at my breast, I attempted to console and advise her – which I probably shouldn’t have, because I currently lack the strength and the conversation quickly became my own cry for help:

I tried reading your blog. my kid is having issues. my phone is on the fritz. I’m talking-to-text this now. I very much identified with the subject matter though, especially at this moment.

It’s bad enough breastfeeding my kid through a feeding tube, when he keeps ripping the tube out of his mouth 😧
…and every feeding takes 2 hours!”
” Aaaaand I just got samples back from the printer and my shirts are completely f#@%€&. Sooo… I’m gonna take a break from the world now.”

She replied with disorientation (regarding feeding tube situation), condolence, and sympathy. 
*I sent a photo of my current state*
**photo below contains assisted natural feeding
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(nursing my son in pain and complete overwhelm)
I later responded:

I really, really need a break. A cleanse. A vacation. A change of scenery.
I am that “lazy-insecurity-for-fear-of-failure” poster child of which you wrote. And I did try this time. I tried my fullest. I aimed for perfection, and it shot me down. Hard. . . Hard.
I’m out of inspiration. I’m dried up, maybe for good. I’m very much at a low place of wallowing in self-pity. I think I’ll get a tricked out innertube and just float. One with a drink cozy and just get comfy here. Here in the dark, in the shadows, in the center of my inner critics bullseye. Where I can comfortably receive the shame and guilt and ridicule I am so accustom…”

She agreed that I needed a break and, like the great friend she truly is, and why I’ve kept her near and dear all these years, she immediately offered to come down (a 9hr drive) and care for me.
At which point, I honestly started to tear up a bit… Especially, because my husband was home (late) from work and I had finally found the words to ask him to care for me in my ailing condition, which went something like I described to her:

I’m getting depressed again. I feel it coming. Too many things are falling apart at once. I’m having a ‘Devil’s Advocate’ experience with my husband. I’m Charlize Theron telling Keanu Reeves that I need him, that I’m lonely and losing it, and I need him to care for me, and he’s telling me how important his work is and considering his job first. . .
And THIS, this is adulting.
Now, he’s stressed out about the consideration of taking time off work and having me and baby to burden him.  This is adulting. And I don’t want it. I want my youth and freedom back. I want independent travel and world experiencing and carefree carelessness.
I don’t want to be a burden. It is my biggest fear. My greatest motivator. My worst pride… And my inevitable consumption.”

I put down the phone and realize myself how dramatic I’m being. I chuckled softly a bit.
*By this point in the conversation, I had poured myself a glass of wine and decided to focus, solely, on that – abandoning the fact that I’ve gone off my Hashimoto’s thyroid replacement meds for almost a week now in some delusional attempt to regain control of own body/life*

She responded, from both her own current place of personal insecurity I imagine, as well as well-meaning distraction and encouragement, that my text was an example of good writing.

Still without mention of my act to self-medicate through replacement of chemical drugs, with raw, vegan, organic green diet, I added:

Lol. *And then someone stage left yells ‘scene’. Then I pull myself together and it was just a scene.* And life imitating art. Wine! 🍷😛”

At which point it’s going on midnight, my husband is heading off to bed, and my friend reminds me (in the most loving, caring, and subtle way) that she is a busy, working, single-mom of two and is herself, responsibly on schedule to get a restful nights sleep in order to meet the demands of the last day of this work week.
I feel, somehow through text, that she feels guilty about leaving me in such a state of distress, but I honor and respect her choice for self-preservation, and bid her goodnight as I pour my second glass and slip off into my dark, quiet living room to begin this blog…

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Thank you, to those of you who made it this far. I’m feeling extremely vulnerable and sharing this low point of life, love, and marriage has been difficult for me, but I intend to push “publish” as quickly as I can before changing my mind.
If you’ve found this at all, it means I stuck to my conviction come morning and let you all in.
And now that you’ve witnessed what a mess marriage can be, I hope you’ll stick with us and continue to read to see what happens next. . . .

In the meantime, please join us on Instagram if you have one:

kalani_rene and he’s jonchee808

THANKS FOR READING!  ALOHA!

Romance in Reality

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It’s probably cliché to say, but marriage lacks romance.

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Not meaning to say that many spouses don’t try to maintain some spark throughout their endless, routine, usually stressful, often mundane, busy lives together, it just seems that expectations based on TV and movies destroys the efforts of reality.  And is it even practical to believe you can preserve that “new-car-smell” in your 10 year old family van?

I’ve been reading articles regarding the subject of romance in marriage, and there seems to be a lot lacking!  Not just in the romance department, but the journalism department as well.  It’s like no one wants to discuss it, or everyone is afraid to poke the wound.
The most in depth article I read mentioned that some husbands (like mine) do attempt to sustain romance, but believe that simply complimenting you vaguely – “you look nice”-, or helping with household chores –that they should be helping with anyway– are romantic gestures.  In the same article it also mentioned a number of partners who feel that romance is a shared experience, in that, if the partner hoping for a romantic experience creates it themselves, that the joy and excitement of the action will be equally shared.
It is my opinion, that both of these types of spouses are hopelessly lost to the concept of romantic gestures.

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True, my husband is in the former group.  However, his gentle attempts are not lost on me.
Because I’m aware that he cares and I see that he tries.  He’s just not the big, romantic type.  When it comes to romance, he’s clueless.

But, does that mean that with relationship romance, as with all gift giving, it’s the thought that counts?  Is a romantic thought as good as a grand romantic gesture in marriage?
Would you be, honestly, pleased and grateful to receive no more this Valentine’s Day than a vague compliment and the trash taken out?  Or would you enjoy an experience that you put all of the effort into planning and creating, despite that your partner may not care or be comfortable with big, romantic surprises the way that you would?
Is lack of romance, really what destroys marriages?  Because, the euphoric bliss we experience from fresh infatuation seems a bit unrealistic to base a life-long, aging partnership on.

Maybe there is something to be said for dropping breadcrumbs of affection throughout your marriage though.  Because, how long can a partner keep out-doing themselves on grand gestures, and wouldn’t it just become as expected and ordinary as every other aspect of your shared lives?
With those tiny breadcrumbs there is a chain of constance and dependability, there is sustainability.  My husband knows he can keep up with the daily compliments, sporadic dishes, and constant butt gropes & neck kisses. And I know through those constant efforts that his affection for me and his appreciation are always there.

And, who knows, maybe one day he’ll read a book and catch a clue, and I’ll walk into some extraordinary, heart-stopping, tear-jerking, phenomenal spectacular.  And because it’s so rare and unexpected, it will be appreciated that much more.

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For now. . .
He’s snoring next to me on the couch.

Until next time!

Thank you for reading. *kisses*

*No longer on Facebook, but you can find me on
Instagram under @kalani_rene
and
YouTube.com/kalanilei

Loss and Changes

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Welcome back!  Or, if you’re reading me for the first time, Welcome!

For the first time publicly, in a recent post, I made mention of my chronic thyroid condition: Hashimoto’s Thyroiditis. 
At that time, I hadn’t imagined how all consuming and life-changing that condition would quickly, and soon, become. 
In the few, short, months since my last pregnancy post, my husband and I have made the extremely difficult decision for me to undergo the operation to have my thyroid removed, completely.
And you may, or may not, be aware of the vital nature of the thyroid to the human anatomy, but it is an important instrument in our overall health and wellness and mine… is gone.  Well, to be honest, it’s technically been all but gone for awhile now. 

After being diagnosed with Hashimoto’s Disease 8 years ago following my first born, every pregnancy and period of recovery -and stress- has put more of a strain on my body and on my thyroid’s ability to function.  It was assumed that the changes during pregnancy, including the sudden influx and then depletion of hormones, were responsible for bringing attention to the issue that had, at that time, been ongoing for an unknown number of years as it was. 
Blind to the symptoms due to lack of awareness, and always too busy taking care of everyone else to notice, my thyroid had created a goiter mass the size of a golf ball by the time the doctors caught on.  Most recently, that goiter had grown to be closer to a soft ball in size and carried an over 25% risk of being or becoming cancerous by the time it was removed.
Not that I hadn’t noticed how sensitive I was to cold, but also having a long history of anemia, I self-diagnosed and pushed along.
And not that I wasn’t always physically exhausted or always suffering back pain or experiencing joint inflammation in my 20’s… I just always blamed it on an active lifestyle and found ways to cope and compensate. (enter – caffeine addiction and extreme diets)
And, obviously, when I noticed my increasingly rapid hair loss, I had to chuck it up to stress, poor hair care, and lack of nutrition due to diets, and so I pushed through.

Always too busy.  Busy making everyone else happy.  Busy sacrificing myself in pursuit of love and appreciation, something I’m sure many of you, especially if you’re familiar with prematurely failing health, can identify with.

So, now. . . Now I’m one week post-op, minus one thyroid. 
But, if you’re telling yourself that all of my health problems have miraculously cleared up, and I’m feeling better than I ever have in my life… think again.
Not much has changed, not for the better, not yet.  Quite to the contrary actually.
I’ll spare many of the gory details, but will mention that while surgery went well, medically (I’m not dead), the process of removing my thyroid and the immediate stress it put on my body has been anything but easy. 
I’m aware, now, that it will take some adjustment to recover from the sudden changes in my body, and it may be weeks or months before we (doctors and me) find the correct dosage for my new daily pill regiment of thyroid hormone replacement.  But, for the time being, all of my previous ailments are still intact.  With a few, undesirable, issues even more inflamed due to the stress of surgery.

I’m handling these issues as I always have, ignoring the ones that I can (ie: wrapping a scarf around the giant goiter, or now scar on my neck), managing the ones I can’t ignore (ie: wearing comfortable clothes or limiting my activity due to body pain)…

That being said,
One of the most prominent issues, which I can no longer ignore, will be managed soon, in the only way that it can be. . .
Since returning home from surgery, I’ve been experiencing an increase with my, already mentioned, rapid hair loss.  So, as another part of my new journey, I will be getting a rather drastic haircut very soon. 
A new look for the new person I’m about to become.

For those of you who would care to see my drastic new haircut, I’ll try and put together a quick video. . .

Okay, it’s up. And it’s quick!

If you’d like to view the video, my YouTube can be found at My YouTube
Enjoy!

Please feel free to comment and/or message me if you have any questions about Hashimotos, thyroid disease, if you would like to share your story of battling chronic illness, or you just want to make a comment about my new haircut.

Thanks for taking the time to read, and to those of you who choose to, thank you for taking this journey with me.  Aloha!

The Impact of Chronic Illness on Marriage | The Mighty

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Tonight, I came across this article on my chronic illness support group Web page, and having recently revealed to you all my suffering from an auto immune disease and the effects of that disease on my body and pregnancy,  wanted to share Julie Ryan’s perspective on the effects of those struggles in relationships.

While Julie’s focus seems to lay, greatly, on the sexual aspects of our relationships, I’m well aware that our partners struggle with and suffer from far more than just sexual frustrations.

I felt that this article touched on some very valid points of living with, as well as maintaining a relationship while struggling with, a chronic illness.  I would have liked to have her elaborate a bit more across the board.
What do you think?

http://themighty.com/2015/09/the-impact-of-chronic-illness-on-marriage/#/ixzz3lknDqJLr

For more, follow me on
Google+ @Your eX-girlfriend

IG @kalani_rene

Recovery

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*I’m typing this from my cell phone with an infant attached to my chest*

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This weekend will mark approx 6 weeks since baby arrived!
Couldn’t be more thrilled about no longer being pregnant, but I can’t claim that things have been much more comfortable lately. . .

I’ll go over the challenges in a bit, but first the basics:

Healing, went well and was fairly fast, I had no tearing and respected my bedrest orders as much as possible.  It was approximately 2 weeks until the bleeding stopped and I felt stronger and more capable with less pain.

Cramps, lasted about a week for the most part.  Nursing baby helps speed contracting, though it makes it more painful to accelerate the process.

Okay, here are all of the things that have been an issue due to my, rarely mentioned, *invisible illness:

Naturalfeeding, was going well at first.  Baby got his fill of colostrum and a good amount of the first milk.
However, this pregnancy was hard on my body, because of my thyroid condition, and took a lot of my resources.  Since delivery, my thyroid has all but crashed completely. 
My muscles are depleted, my joints are loose and ache, my body is stiff and sore, my mind is somewhat in a fog (not as bad as usual), my appetite is GONE, and I’m always worn down.
We went to my 6 week postpartum appointment this week, and I discussed with my midwife what my physical abilities should be at this point.  While the midwife agreed that I have healed beautifully from my delivery, she saw trouble with how my thyroid has been affecting me lately.
Due to my body’s inability to function fully, it has, for the past 2-3 weeks, been unable to produce the amount of milk that my son needs.  While I am still nursing him, we have had to supplement with formula as well.  At least until I recover from surgery, which is scheduled for sometime in the next two months.

Weight loss, has been completely halted since week one postpartum.
Another side effect of thyroid disease.  My weight is stable at exactly the original scale drop of 130lbs and holding steady for the past 5 weeks.
That’s to say, I gained 20lbs of actually weight of my own, separate from the “baby weight”, and it’s not going anywhere.
At the one week post point I had lost only around 5 inches from my waist, and since then, I’ve widdled down about 5 more.  Still pretty far from my pre-baby size or shape!  I’ve even got quite a bit of cushion around my hips and butt, which my husband is NOT complaining about.
My midwife, technically, gave the go ahead for resuming workouts, though she stressed concern for my physical health condition and suggested that I hold off until after my surgery.  Though that was just a suggestion.
I do plan to resume workouts again soon, as I informed her that I’d been practicing light yoga sessions since around week 4, but I’m obviously going to listen to my body and not push myself beyond my level of comfort or ability.
Yoga has been such a relief on my back and shoulders, which have only gotten beaten with more stress due to naturalfeeding baby.

Managing my home and life?  Nope.
Baby reeeeally needs to be held… at all times… by me.  So, the husband has really been stepping up his game of pulling his weight around the house.  And while I’m grateful and appreciate his extra effort and initiative to keep the house in order, I also suffer from mom-guilt -as well as sick-guilt- for him having to do MY chores as well as his, and this is after working 7-5pm Mon-Fri.  No, I haven’t dropped off completely and become a useless burden to the house, despite the fact that my son won’t sleep at all unless I’m holding him, I do what I can… with one hand… and 7lbs of baby hanging from me… between HOURLY feedings.  Yes, hourly.  I don’t know how.
But, my husband always reminds me of how lucky I am to have chosen him. 

Somehow, through the pain and stress of it all, we haven’t let it negatively effect our relationship.
Despite the reputation of new parents, we have been intimate again since bringing home baby and we make a point of fitting in all of our usual hobbies and activities, as best as is possible with baby.  He’s still too young to take hiking, to a fancy dinner, or on long road trips, but we were able to get in a 3 mile walk around our local lake recently.  It’s all about managing priorities.
Priorities do change with a newborn, and continue to change as babies age, or brothers and sisters are born, or mom’s health fails, but it’s imperative that you have a someone to love and support you (doesn’t matter if it’s partner, parents, siblings, bestie, or your local community resources.  “It takes a village!”) and the overall investment in making it all work.

So, I guess we’re probably exactly where we’re expected to be as parents of a 6 week old infant… over-stressed, isolated, and sleep deprived!

Hope you are more informed now, whether you’re pregnant, postpartum, or just checking up on our story.
Thanks for reading.
We’ll be posting another video soon, so please look out for that too!

*Invisible Illness: Hashimoto’s Thyroiditis
**to learn more about that, follow this link:
Hashimoto’s Disease

**for those that follow on social media, please be aware that I’m no longer using Facebook for the time being, but can still be found on all of the previously posted social networks.
And now:
Google+ @Your eX-girlfriend
And
IG @kalani_rene

Links in previous blogs.  Sorry!

Till next time. . . .

Post-Partum Update

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Hi, everyone!
It’s been awhile, but I’ve been busy!
Hope you’ve been watching the videos, if you haven’t been reading the blog.  Didn’t do a 36 week update blog, but did post video for that, and the husband’s in that!  He’s also in the latest video, which is our one week postpartum update, where we talk about our natural birth story, bringing home baby, weight loss, and introduce you all to the babe…

There’s probably a bunch of info that I left out or forgot to mention.  Sleeps not been visiting me too often as of late.  I plan to post a new blog soon, but if you have any questions about anything in the meantime, feel free to ask.
Or follow me on Google+ as: “Your eX-girlfriend”

Hope you enjoy our postpartum update video, be sure to stick around for the outtakes at the end!  Aloha!

1wk Post-Partum Update, Baby Intro, plus Outtakes: https://youtu.be/HvQU3Ih-j0k