So… it’s been a while. A long while. A lot has happened, and not much has changed. 

Still recovering from operations

The mastectomy and DIEP operation is still spitting stitches 2.5 years on. Every now and again, I get what looks to be a pimple, which then pushes out a tiny plastic thread. I’ve read on forums that it could be doing that for decades! So much for dissolvable stitches. 

I still have the dead fat lumps in the transplanted breast. These aren’t going away any time soon, and were in fact shattered into pieces by a mammogram last year (not doing that again!) It’s almost time for my yearly freak-the-radiologist-out check-up. I’m secretly freaking out too, and will until I get the all-clear, like all cancer survivors.  

Still new (and old) health problems

New investigations revealed no (new) hernias, but the pain/occasional bulge still could be one through an old laparoscopic incision from the endometriosis operations. Nothing concrete on any tests though. Still bleeding every month from my bowel. Very occasionally twice. So I haven’t made it to menopause yet. I am not strange for wishing it would hurry up and stop the hormonal ups and downs!

Skin is still awful, ever since I stopped the prednisolone at the end of 2016. Demodex? Rosacea? Acne? Fungal skin infection? All of the above? Who knows. The dermatologists say to wash my face with soap, as if I haven’t tried that.

I’m reacting to everything and nothing, avoiding people and video calls. It sucks. It’s really itchy, stings and peels every few days, and I haven’t found anything much that helps. The dermatologists don’t.

Still incompetent health professionals

Also gave up on the dentists here ever making a mouth guard that doesn’t kill me. Hard acrylic doesn’t have the spring necessary to stop locked jaw muscles, and causes mega injuries to lips. Soft silicone contains latex, mouth blisters and peels.

So, ordered from a company in the States - they made me the perfect night guard using the same soft-ish ProForm material as my old one. Best for my combination of bruxism and enthesitis-arthritis. Dreading telling the dentists they were useless (again), so I’m avoiding my yearly check-up.

Still not saying no, often or loud enough

Last year, I burnt out from putting up with a toxic work environment for far too long. Which only got worse as soon as I handed in my 3 months’ (!) notice. Thankfully (sadly?) because I hadn’t had the chance to take any of my annual leave and had accrued a crazy amount of overtime, I was able to ‘go on holiday’ before I completely broke.

It’s taking a long time to recover, as anyone who has experienced burnout knows. 

Still working

I’m slowly taking on new clients, small translation and writing tasks, and taking each day, each week as it comes. I’ve definitely enjoyed getting back into academic writing through proofreading masters and PhD theses! 

But, I certainly have not enjoyed registering as a freelancer in Germany - the bureaucracy here has no understanding of what a writer/translator does. Veterinarians, lawyers, accountants and a few other odd professions can be freelancers, but not writers or translators or photographers or language teachers (they don’t fit neatly in any of the rather odd buckets). I still haven’t got through all that red tape yet - I’m looking at you, retirement system - and the monthly tax reporting truly sucks.

Still teaching

I started my Patreon and am having a blast releasing English teaching resources and connecting with other language teachers. I’ve published an in-depth VAT guide for freelancers in Germany there, partly to get my understanding straight, and also to pay it forward to any patrons who are also starting to freelance here.

This has more recently morphed to share my learning process as I pick up new skills and hobbies by the handful. If you like art, yarn crafts, music, videos, gardening or more, feel free to support me on Patreon for access to exclusive content.

Still learning

I’m slowly working through purchased courses and ebooks without spending much on new ones (although, today, I allowed myself to purchase one more course). I completed my first Inktober I’m picking up and running with new hobbies - knitting and painting., and already have two pairs of (oversized) socks. I’m hanging art on my walls.

Still finishing

During creativity sessions with friends last summer, I felt distinctly drawn to finishing my mountain of unfinished projects. This has had the side benefit of being able to begin a few new things in the space finishing left behind.

With a focus on finishing, I can avoid never-ending projects like ‘weight loss’ and ‘fitness’, and not beat myself up about it too much. I walk and exercise when I can. My weight jumps and loses 2kg every two weeks (thank you, hormones), but is otherwise stable. I am letting my new scales track it without me noticing. 

Still too many medical appointments and therapies

Speaking of tracking … a high blood pressure crisis has put me on medication. Don’t ignore nasty, ongoing headaches, especially ones that give you pulsatile tinnitus and blurry vision. 

The doctor scared me with ‘what might have been’ had I not turned up there when I did. 180/130 is a bad blood pressure. I have some new tech that tracks that for me too, but I’m having a devil of a time finding the right dose to stabilise in a reasonable range.

With regular lymph drainage/massage and physiotherapy, the worst of the arthritis has been mostly kept at bay. Every now and again, a tendon in my foot, knee or hand inflames and gets impossible to deal with for a few days. Increasingly, the bursa in big joints are starting to get involved, but physio still helps for now. If (when) we move, I want to take stock and set up an exercise area, maybe with some equipment.

And more heat packs, and more warm socks - I’m so cold, all of the time!

Still struggling with PTSD

Mentally, I’m completely beat. PTSD has reared its nasty head, both childhood memories, and from the 2009 fires in Victoria, Australia.

I feel like I’m right there in Gippsland. Only, I’m not jumping out of my skin every time I hear a siren, because the sirens are all on the other side of the world.  It’s awfully stressful and impossible to focus when you are trying to check all the sites, all the social platforms for news (especially around Omeo).

Still going

So… Still managing. Still dealing with old and new health stuff. Still keeping on keeping on.  Still dealing with lots of pain. But I’m also finding enjoyment, quiet, and stillness where I can.