2 Years Since I Last Blogged?! How’s Everyone Doing During the Pandemic?!

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WOW! It feels like yesterday I started my little mini-blog, but it’s actually been four years and it’s been two years since I’ve been on. HOW?!

I guess I lost desire and motivation to continue because I didn’t gain a huge following – but hey, that’s the joy of it being a blog, right? You can write for no one, even just for yourself, and if people happen to stumble upon your content and like it too, that’s even better!

SOOOO what have I been up to for 2 years, one might ask (other than trying to survive this pandemic with the rest of the world)?! In January of 2020, I finally graduated from Southern New Hampshire University with my Bachelor’s Degree in Healthcare Administration. Although I finished my last two years of school online and my “graduation” consisted of me hitting ‘submit’ on a screen in the loneliness of my tiny apartment kitchen in the middle of the day on a Thursday, it was still, by far, one of the happiest moments of my entire life. I felt so accomplished and I proceeded to dance around my apartment with my dog.

I worked in long-term care both while I was in school and after I graduated and, of course, continued through the throes of COVID-19. In late April of 2020, I tested positive for COVID-19 and, although I was very ill, I am blessed to say I never had to go to the hospital and I survived. I will never forget the day I just KNEW I had the virus and I was filled with total dread… So here’s that story: It was Friday, April 24th (sad I didn’t even have to look at a calendar for that, it’s just that memorable) and we found out our first employee and first resident at the facility I was working in were positive for the virus. Now, mind you, this was AMAZING at the time because most facilities around us were absolutely drowning in COVID by mid March – but here we were, almost in May, thinking we were really going to keep this thing out, but this dreadful day came. We were donned in full PPE, going about our day, trying to keep our residents isolated and safe, and with it being Friday, we were preparing for another week ahead – a new one, with COVID. I was changing out the employee masks (we all received one mask per week and I had the awesome privileges of changing everyone’s nasty mask out for a shiny new one) and I remember telling my coworker I didn’t feel right. She told me I was probably overtired and that whatever I was feeling was probably psychosomatic since we knew we had likely been exposed. My heart was racing, I was sweating (it was 30 something degrees out and I was in a basement that wasn’t too warm), and my head was pounding. I drank some water and continued my day as there was about an hour left. As I was leaving work, I said to my coworker, “see you in 10 to 14 days” just knowing. She laughed and told me I was nuts. That night, I made a lovely meal for my boyfriend (now fiance, we’ll get there) and I from a new cookbook I had. Man, no matter how much garlic I put in there, I couldn’t smell it. Now I really started panicking. It was time to eat – couldn’t taste it. FULL panic and feelings of impending doom set in. The next morning when I woke up – I could feel my heartbeat through my whole body, my lungs were absolutely FILLED with phlegm, and I had a high fever. Off I went for a COVID test, already knowing what my fate would be, and the following day I got the call saying I was positive for the COVID-19 virus and that my local board of health would be contacting me. It took 9 days for my heart rate to reduce from the 130/140s… I thought I was going to stroke out at 26 years old. It took me approximately 10 days to feel well enough to return to work and normal life, although it took 3 months to regain my taste and smell. I think that was the worst part of my experience, if you ask me, because I love food, especially my daily coffee. I was a sad, sad camper. I became very fond of Tabasco sauce during this time as it was the ONLY thing I could taste – only because it left a zing on the tongue! LOL

After my own COVID experience, I returned to work and, let me tell you, it was the worst experience of my entire life. Working in long-term care pulls at your heartstrings on a daily basis as it is, but when your residents can’t see their loved ones, are taking their last breaths alone with just you by their side, are dying by the day, it only sets you up for heartbreak. All I have to say is – to anyone out there that lost a loved one to COVID-19, my heart is with you. This virus was nothing we expected or were ready to handle.

My heart aches just seeing this and remembering how I felt.
Can I just say… those plastic face shields HURT.

In July of 2020, I finally completed the last of my 11 operations for my skin graft removal. It was a painful two years of medical treatments, but so worth it. I am so happy with the results and can’t wait to put my new body to use when I am pregnant someday… which will hopefully be within the next couple of years because……..

In July of 2020, I said yes to being Mrs. Cousineau! Photo by: @stephanieberensonphotography

Then, in February, 2021, we decided to pack up our little life in the tiny apartment we had dwelled in for 3 years and we moved down the east coast to Florida to join my family! We couldn’t be happier. While it was quite an adjustment period when we first came down, we are thriving and can’t wait to soon buy our first home and finally tie the knot!

What a whirlwind of a couple years it has been! And yes, I am still a total bibliophile – I read the entire Harry Potter series (yes, finally as an adult, yes) and it was amazing! I was gifted a Kindle Paperwhite (https://amzn.to/3lxvVJp) for my birthday and I have been LOVING it! For Amazon Prime members, Prime Reading is amazing! There are a slew of free books offered monthly for prime members and it’s great for bibliophiles like me who either don’t know what to read and don’t want to spend money on a “maybe,” or if you simply can’t afford a book.

I can’t wait to continue blogging and doing some book reviews! Follow me on GoodReads to see what I’m reading now πŸ™‚

Join Me In My Life-Changing Journey…

WARNING: This blog post contains graphic content and may be sensitive to some. If this is too much for you, you may unfollow me or simply leave the post alone. If this is somewhat awesome to you, please share my post with others (and let me know!).

So… no, it’s not a bookish post, but I’m hoping y’all will read anyways!

I haven’t been reading much – between school, all of my doctor’s visits, and this recovery in general, I’ve been a little neglectful of my books, but I promise I’ll get back to reading and reviewing soon!

As I have mentioned in my other blog posts, I am going through a medical journey. Last night, I decided to finally reveal what I am going through on my personal Facebook page and I received such an overwhelming outpouring of positivity and support that I decided to share with the whole world, including my fellow bloggers!

I will begin with the backstory…

In 1994, I was born with a rare skin condition that left me with pre-melanomic cells, with a high likelihood of becoming metastatic melanoma. Doctors decided to take all precautions necessary and remove the concerning marks, beginning with a giant congenital nevus that was splayed from the left side of my torso around to my back. This surgery was done by anΒ amazing plastic surgeon at Massachusetts General Hospital in Boston when I was 8 months old, just old enough to go through a procedure like this. The surgery was done over 8 days, including excision of skin and the addition of skin grafts. Unfortunately, I do not have any pictures of this time… Pictures weren’t as easily taken and kept back in the 90’s as they are now on all of our digital platforms.

Below are 3 photos that show you what the scar has looked like over the years – I have never been ashamed of my body, scared to display my scars to the world, or even sensitive to the subject. It is a part of who I am and a part of my story.

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If these are gross, repulsive, or even scary to you, please step away. They will only get more graphic as we go.

A couple months ago I met with a new plastic surgeon (since my wonderful surgeon from the 90s has retired) about something on my face. Little did I know that this would turn into having my scar REMOVED! Little did I know, if I want to have children, this procedure is necessary and I am not getting any younger so I said, “let’s do it!”

It has been an uncomfortable struggle, but I know every minute will be worth it in the end.

I have 4 tissue expanders located subdermally – two in my torso and two in my back. Tissue expansion is often seen done in the head, arms, or legs for burn victims and is not often done in trunk of the body. I am rare, tell me something I don’t know.

The expanders are filled up twice a week with saline solution – the main goal is for the expanders to stretch the healthy skin so that once they are big enough (about the size of a full grown eggplant), the scar can be excised and my trunk can be covered with the new grown skin.

Below are 4 photos I took yesterday (11/5/2018) after my 3rd week of fill-ups.Β These are graphic.

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Some questions to answer:

  • Yes, it is painful, especially the days of fill-ups.
  • Yes, I can only sleep in one position.
  • Yes, they can pop! I have to be mindful of sharp edges, even pen tips.
  • Yes, I feel like the Pillsbury Dough Boy or the Michelin Man.

 

I wanted to post something since it’s been so long, but I didn’t have any material. This is my personal blog so I decided to get personal!

I hope you will all continue to follow and support me through this journey. I am so grateful for this experience and would be even more grateful if I had a team of supporters behind me!

Thanks for reading πŸ™‚

Happy Tuesday!