Originally, I planned to update everyone on the outcome of my endocrinology appointment for PCOS several weeks ago, but then the spider bite from hell caused all manner of delays and problems for me. Blogging took a backseat to catching up on the copious amount of backlogged work—an ongoing issue I will address later in the post. Speaking of Fred, after a final draining Tuesday, he looks significantly better and has drastically reduced in size. I think my immune system has officially killed him, so . . . ‘Eff you Fred and the spider you rode in on! Ultimately and perhaps a little paradoxically, I am thankful Fred forced me to ruminate on the results of my appointment. Under pressure, I’m cool as the proverbial cucumber, and when an obstacle arises, my instincts are to dispassionately find the best and quickest solution. In many instances, those are great qualities to have, but being able to compartmentalize emotions is at odds with processing how you really feel. When I first heard I had an auto-immune disorder, I was my typical “Can Do!” self and switched to research mode, selecting the best books from Amazon and developing a plan of action. During the reign of Fred, I couldn’t do anything, and I started to unpack those unhelpful feelings I boxed up and realized I needed major changes if I hoped to get better.
I am writing to you sober (for the moment) because my pain levels are manageable without the aid of prescriptions, and since several people asked me to follow-up when I felt better, I thought I would not only update you on my current progress but also sketch out the last ten days of torment I endured. Before delving into the gruesome details, I want to reiterate my heartfelt thanks for all the prayer, thoughts, and well-wishes I received. My dad would read them to me when I was in too much pain to check, and it brightened my spirits. Many of you sent me the sweetest personal messages about how I had helped you or how much my store meant to you, and as a small business owner, I cannot ask for anything more. The love you showed me helped and continues to help me as I recover and move forward after what has been a rather tough couple years. In kind, I wish all of you nothing but the best and success in all you endeavor to accomplish.
[Trigger Warning: We’re chatting body image, public commentary on weight, and health problems with a sprinkle of NSFW pictures too.]
When I wrote the post outlining my crappy fall (before it got crappier with walking pneumonia), I mentioned how PCOS insidiously corrupted my body, leaving me with symptoms ranging from abdominal weight gain to low vitamin D to scary high triglycerides. Many of my readers sent messages of support or asked about the disorder as well as the book I recommended 8 Steps to Reverse Your PCOS by Fiona McCulloch. Since PCOS affects roughly 10% of all women and trans men of reproductive age, I thought it merited further discussion, particularly because many of us also suffer from depression, anxiety, and poor self image related to weight gain.
It’s been two years since my last bout of extended illness, and much to my chagrin, I still struggle to cope with the challenges it presents. As an active person who was privileged enough to grow up healthy, being physically limited by anything leaves me frustrated enough to push myself to heal faster rather than giving my body the time it needs. The first time I experienced this powerlessness over my own body was when I was hospitalized in September of 2014 because mono caused swelling of my spleen and trashed my immune system for six months. The store suffered immensely from my absence and frequent closures, and when I became sick this year, I kept reliving that impact—an impact felt more keenly as the shop was busier now than in 2014.
Last night, I had the distinct privilege of visiting some wonderful women at the New Jerusalem Women’s Emergency Shelter, a program designed to help homeless women stay warm and safe this winter while also providing resources for growth and success. Everyone from the volunteers to the staff to the women themselves were smiling, joyful, and lovely to meet, and I thoroughly enjoyed being able to give them a proper bra fitting, well, as proper as we could manage with only my eyes and a measuring tape. Still, it was a service many of them had never experienced, and we were able to chat briefly with each woman about sizing, fitting, and the many bra styles available. Our store is no stranger to accepting bra donations, and we work with both local domestic violence shelters as well as Triangle Residential Options for Substance Abuse (TROSA) to collect intimate apparel donations from around the state. In fact, my friend Kat who owns Luxury on the Outer Banks has also volunteered her time as a fitter to participate in a joint bra fitting event at TROSA in a few weeks.
[Trigger Warning & TL;DR: A long time brewing, my writing is rawer and edgier than in any other post, and I do broach topics like PTSD, assault, stalking, anxiety, depression, weight gain, and body image. Despite the negative sentiment in my warning, the post is optimistic, focusing on finding hope and purpose after adversity. I suffered silently, afraid to be open here, but I know others have gone through the same struggles. If my story encourages you to seek help or share yours, then we can heal together.]
My beloved blog has been rather silent this year, not for my lack of wanting to write new content, and today I want to briefly update here why posting has been irregular. Last year was not a good year. Between chronic illness and then my brother’s attack in September, the store truly suffered from closures, inconsistent hours, and order delays. We managed to keep our doors open and to even eek out a minuscule growth rate, but there were many times I questioned my decision to continue forward with A Sophisticated Pair. This year, however, has really seen an explosion for us. It feels like we are back on track with our customers and with our plans for expansion, and I cannot be happier. However, busy days, last minute appointments, and all the added responsibilities involved in strengthening our business have tested my time management skills to the limit. Blogging, despite being an outlet for my writing passion, was continually bumped to the bottom of my ever-expanding “To Do” list, along with posting updates on Facebook and Instagram, developing a new fit tool, dying my hair, and cleaning out my shed.
Okay, forgive me for indulging in a little bit of a click bait headline there, but I hope this is the only time and in the only context in which I ever post “I’m going to jail.” A couple weeks ago, a customer nominated me to be “Locked Up” to raise money for the Muscular Dystrophy Association. If you are nominated, you are not obligated to participate, and to be honest, I wavered initially. In addition to being busy with work, I have also been struggling to create a balance in my personal life and to overcome the lingering depression, anxiety, and trauma of my brother’s attack last fall. Did I really want to add another commitment to my already full plate? However, muscular dystrophy is not a disease unknown to our family, and supporting the Muscular Dystrophy Association (MDA) was always a priority for my mom. Ultimately, I knew I wanted to get involved and offer my help, even if that meant getting “locked up.”
(Trigger Warning: I’m finally ready to open up about what happened with my brother and how our family has been coping, but this will include potentially triggering topics like assault, PTSD, body image, depression, and anxiety. It’s also long. Without many pictures. You have been warned. *said in stern voice*)
September 19th was a glorious day. It was a busy Saturday at the shop, and I felt confident and happy with how much progress I had made in the last several weeks physically and emotionally. In fact, my optimism was at such a high that I snapped a selfie—a totally out of character move for me—and posted it on my private Facebook profile:
Hot wings might be a slight undersell. However, 5 Alarm Habanero-Cayenne Spontaneous Internal (*Intestinal) Combustion Hot Wings just seemed like too long of a title. For the purpose of this post, I am just going to scale down the pepper amounts. You can always make them with BBQ sauce**, which I’ll include a recipe for, omit the peppers, or make them hotter to suit your tastes.