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Friday, 30 July 2021

I Survived

Well, I have survived my first surgery! Honestly everyone at the hospital was great, but I gotta give a special shout out to the anesthesiologist who saw the panic in my eyes but listened very carefully to all of my questions and made sure to explain everything and more to ease my mind. Seriously, a really great human! When I told him what the other doc had said about cannabis interacting with anesthesia and causing brain damage he was gobsmacked. “A doctor told you this? That’s just wrong. That’s so rude!” And my gallbladder removal surgery went exactly as planned without issue. All I remember in the actual room was scooting onto the operating table from my wheely bed (you know what they wheel you around on) and the surgeon explaining how things would go in which order. I had asked how my fat body would be moved back onto the wheely bed and they calmly explained that I was laying on a set of rollers of some kind that would make the transition smooth. Then each person in the room (6 total I think) introduced themselves, said my name and what procedure I would be having done. It felt a bit like a press conference for a celebrity only I was laying down and naked beneath a thin gauzy medical gown (that would have easily fit two of me inside). Then they put the “oxygen” mask over my face and instructed me to breathe deeply. No counting backwards or any of the old cliches. 

Next thing I knew I was waking up in recovery with RN Cassie trying to talk to me as I mostly just groaned in confusion and pain. I was so terrified of being put under but that was honestly the easiest bit. Cassie was very patient and kind and gave me ice chips and water and strawberry jello, and helped me get my knickers back on. Within half an hour I was dressed, visited the restroom, and on my way to the main entrance where my bestie J was waiting for me with his carriage (okay it’s a Toyota, but allow me to romanticize a scene now and then, yeah?!). I’m sure I said little and groaned more on the ride home, but J was the best, a tried and true ride or die. I was just super extra glad that I didn’t die. That paperwork they had me fill out really got into my head. Ugh! 

The next three days I mostly slept and took my meds and ate fruit. That’s seriously it! After that I stopped taking the oxycodone and stuck with the lovely combo of Motrin and acetaminophen. Gosh that stuff works great! I’ve been walking around like I have never had a knee injury in my life! I know I can’t take this stuff forever, surely that would fuck up my liver something awful, but it really helps feeling more steady and able to do things at home as needed. Yesterday I even chopped and roasted a ton of veggies that would have otherwise gone bad. Had I done that without the NSAIDS I would have been limping and in agony. I will definitely be discussing this with the surgeon at my follow up. 

Yesterday I went back to my office job and honestly, it was great! People were happy to see me, relieved even. My boss admitted he was worried. It’s nice to be valued. I get it in my head sometimes that what I do doesn’t matter, but yesterday showed me that’s ridiculous. While I had a ton of things to catch up on, I conquered it all and felt pretty darn good about myself to boot! I really wasn’t sure how I would feel or what I’d be walking into, but it all worked out well. Even if I did sleep like crap the night before. You know when it’s too hot without a fan but the fan is too noisy too?! Ugh! I am feeling hopeful though. Having this big scary thing over and done with is a massive load off my mind. I will eventually need to have a very similar surgery to remove a mystery mass they found when scanning my gallbladder (it’s benign but it grew), but I’m far less fearful about it all. And hey that scary “you’re gonna die” paperwork is all done! Ha-ha! 

Now if we could all just work together to end this darned pandemic, that would be greeeeeeeeat! Ha!

***

I’m here for realness and sincerity, honesty and vulnerability, I’m here for the good and juicy bits of life that shine for me when I know I’m heading in the right direction.

Rad Fatty Love to ALL,
<3
S

Check out the Fat AF podcast on your favorite podcast app for all things fat sex with me and my BFF, Michaela! (We only recorded a few episodes but they were good!)

Donate to this blog here: https://ift.tt/2zKvPnQ currently donations will be given directly to Black women in need through my network.

My blog’s Facebook page for things I share that aren’t on this blog (updated frequently and not just about fat stuff): http://on.fb.me/1A18fAS 

Or get the same “shared” content on Twitter: @NotBlueAtAll

Are you on MeWe? I started a fat-feminist group there called, Rad Fatties Unlimited, look for it! I’m also on Space Hey “NotBlueAtAll”

And as always, please feel free to drop me a line in comments here or write me an email, I love hearing from readers. (Tell me your troubles, I don’t judge.) notblueatall@notblueatall.com



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Wednesday, 21 July 2021

Shake it Off!

This entire pandemic shutdown has affected us all, regardless if you or someone you know has had the illness itself. We have all been forced to sort of slow down and do things differently. Something I have seen come up so much in all of the fat facebook groups I’m in is this deep seated shame about a lessening in mobility. A feeling of failure around being forced to be more sedentary over the last fifteen months. I’m here to tell you that for one, it ain’t just fat folks feeling all of this, we’ve all been affected by it. Fat folks seem to have a more immediate self blame/shame reaction to it, but it’s not just us, I promise!


I have previously talked about thriving in those first few months of the pandemic shutdown, and that’s true. Once my gallbladder started failing me I was forced very suddenly to simply stop everything. Extreme pain takes over every aspect of your life. Even after the initial ER visit, my situation was a mystery and the pain attacks were intermittent, which really sucked any morale I had left outta me. After three months of the pain attacks I was miserably depressed. So when the pain finally went away I still wasn’t really wanting or able to get back to my previous movement habits.


Now as I’m back at the office everyday I’m finding everything more difficult. I don’t have energy, what I do have runs out quickly. Standing still for any stretch fucks up my right knee. I have stiffness and soreness seemingly all of the time, but it gets better before it gets worse. I have my gallbladder surgery tomorrow, so I know it will take awhile for me to recover, but the mobility I have lost in the last year is very much apparent to me now. I was struggling internally about this until I started to see post after shame-filled post about the exact same issues. That’s when I realized that this is so much bigger than just me or just you. We’re all in this together so let’s throw that shame and blame game out the damned window!


One of the best things you can do right now, without even leaving your seat, is deciding and committing to yourself to be kind and patient with yourself. That really is the best first step you can take. I have seen a lot of folks worrying about not being able to walk down their block without needing a break or sitting down, so I will share some tips others have shared. First, if going out feels unsafe or you’re uncertain of your needs in such a public place, try using your home or yard to start moving more, incrementally. One rad fatty used their long hallway, walking the length and placing a chair at each end. This way you can take your time, rest when you need to (please honor your body’s cues on this) and not worry about harassment or unsteadiness outdoors. Doing any kind of stretching will also help so much! Did you know that Joyn is free now?! They have plus size instructors and all levels of classes you can try out. Check it out if that format is more your style. There’s lots on YouTube as well, but I urge you to ignore the comment sections and maybe even do some digging before searching for a class type as I have found many to appear fat positive but then they hit you with some nonsense mid-instruction that I just can’t hang with. If your knees are your main focus, I would highly recommend Cinder Ernst’s book on the subject! Cinder also has a facebook group for this, as well as youtube videos. I’ve met and known Cinder for some years now and she is absolutely a joy and a pleasure to work with.


If, like me, you found yourself in an increasingly icky depression nest, please consider (if you are able) hiring and/or asking for help.  It was very difficult for me internally to do this but I ended up hiring someone to help me clean my kitchen. It was only a hundred bucks for three hours of work, and the person the agency sent (I used an app called Diem) was absolutely lovely! They understood my situation without judgement and prioritized the cleaning tasks based on my actual day to day needs. I never could have cleaned that kitchen on my own without wrecking my back and knees. The weight lifted by having a clean kitchen was just what I needed to tackle my living room and bathroom on my own. Now I come home and I don’t feel all of the shame and guilt over having a messy/gross home. I know I deserve to feel good about coming home, and kept meaning to prioritize this, but that shame and guilt combo is fucking HARD to shake off. Maybe you have people in your life that want to help but you are afraid to ask or keep telling them no. I kept telling myself that I would do it all on my own, such is my way in most things, but I was finally faced with not having the mobility or time to accomplish this before my surgery. Sometimes we have to confront ourselves over this stuff. I am glad that I did.

There was a recent study that came out that discovered that those who spend a little money to get a little time back for themselves actually had higher levels of happiness and lower levels of stress over all. It specifically mentioned things like household chores, which has always been my struggle (thanks to my childhood). The people who clean for a living will not judge you, they will understand and will treat your home with respect. I know for me this was such a huge internal battle that I had with myself. It sent me down so many self-hating spirals I can’t even count! I even let the cleaning folks know that I was incredibly anxious and that this was my first time hiring someone for this work. I let them know that I would have to remain in my apartment (this was before my office was reopened), and I kept myself and my puggo in my bedroom while they worked. It wasn’t easy for me mentally, but again it was so very worth it! Your situation may be different, and your experiences will certainly vary, but I hope you can do something that will take some of the stress and shame off your mind and heart.


We put so much on our own shoulders before we even get out of bed each day. We all must find a way to be kind, patient, and to honor what our bodies need. It sounds so simple, but it takes a lot of effort and reframing, I have found. Please know that you are worth every ounce of effort in the world! I think after my surgery I will be seeking physical therapy of some kind to aid my recovery efforts as well as hopefully regaining my overall mobility. If you are working from home I urge you to carefully consider your ergonomic setup and reassess based on what your body is actually telling you. There’s lots of easy guides online you can look at for this (I’m an office manager so it’s part of what I do).


I say and share all of this because I honestly do care, maybe too much. I see no point in participating in my own suffering. I do not want to see others struggling with the same if I can help it, ya know? The shame and blame isn’t useful, let’s banish it from our minds and hearts for good! Remind yourself, as I do each day when there is pain, this isn’t your fault in any way, you’re human and doing what you can with what you have at any given moment. Honor that shit! You don’t have to love your body, I know that hard af and some of us will simply never get there or want to, but we can all find a place of neutrality with our bodies so that we can live our best lives. I hope you find what works for you and unburden you from the intrusive negativity. 

***

I’m here for realness and sincerity, honesty and vulnerability, I’m here for the good and juicy bits of life that shine for me when I know I’m heading in the right direction.

Rad Fatty Love to ALL,
<3
S

Check out the Fat AF podcast on your favorite podcast app for all things fat sex with me and my BFF, Michaela! (We only recorded a few episodes but they were good!)

Donate to this blog here: https://ift.tt/2zKvPnQ currently donations will be given directly to Black women in need through my network.

My blog’s Facebook page for things I share that aren’t on this blog (updated frequently and not just about fat stuff): http://on.fb.me/1A18fAS 

Or get the same “shared” content on Twitter: @NotBlueAtAll

Are you on MeWe? I started a fat-feminist group there called, Rad Fatties Unlimited, look for it! I’m also on Space Hey “NotBlueAtAll”

And as always, please feel free to drop me a line in comments here or write me an email, I love hearing from readers. (Tell me your troubles, I don’t judge.) notblueatall@notblueatall.com



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Monday, 19 July 2021

My First Surgery

Hello lovely people! I wanted to check in before I have my gallbladder removal surgery (finally!) this week. As I have been preparing my home and my head for my very first ever surgery I realized that throughout the past year of dealing with what were first mystery symptoms, alllllll the medical tests, video visits with the surgeon, and more. The one thing I did not have to deal with, much to all of our surprise I’m sure, is fatphobia. In fact, my size was not mentioned once! Not at the ER and not anywhere else. I was always bracing for it, always anticipating the worst, and always ready to hand someone back their entire ass if they did. 


But it didn’t happen! The first person to mention my size was myself to the surgeon who will be performing the operation. I had asked about the robot versus laparoscopic and he explained that the robot was recommended specifically for those with a BMI over 50, mine is 55, and so he said I will have a better outcome with the robot. I was very pleased to hear this. The robot allows not only 3D imaging so the surgeon can see better in such a tight space (because hooray for teeny incisions), but the robot allows for finer movement of the instruments once inside my body. 


Look, I friggin’ love robots anyway, always wanted a robot bff a la Judy Jetson and her diary, but this made me much more calm about the whole thing. I also watched the entire procedure with the robot on youtube and I gotta say, it looked minimally invasive. There was only part of the procedure that made me wince while watching and it was at the very beginning when they first make the incision and place the posts or arms inside to make room for the instruments. Very quick, but they did this sort of shake movement that I simply did not care for, but the patient, like I will be, was under anesthesia and thus likely never knew it was occuring. 


I am concerned about anesthesia. I’ve never been put under for anything. When I had an upper endoscopy, while they were trying to figure out what was going on, I had only twilight drugs and I had nightmares about that procedure for weeks after. I don’t know if that is normal for twilight drugs or if it was my C-PTSD doing it’s usual thing, but I do worry about this after the surgery. 


I had a pre-op video visit to go over my medical history, to make sure no further tests were needed (just a covid test). During this visit they asked about any medications I was taking, and then asked about “street drugs” usage. I have no qualms about the question itself, but I do take issue with calling cannabis a street drug (it’s legal and fairly regulated in California), as well as using the historically racist term “marijuana”. I was very up front and explicit about this and my usage with the doctor in this visit. They were surprised but seemed to respect it.  They then asked about frequency of use and method. The thing is though, the medical world doesn’t know shit about cannabis use. Until very recently it was illegal (federally) to study it on human subjects. The doctor on this call insisted that I halt all use leading up to my surgery, which I have no issues with complying. 


But when they said that it will interact with the anesthesia and cause brain damage I was surprised and so I did some digging. And I was right, they don’t know shit about cannabis. That belief was based on mice and no human study has been done. Plus the mice were given high doses of pure THC. The medical world still thinks we’re out here smoking “marijuana cigarettes” which is hilarious to me as I don’t smoke anything. I vaporize cannabis flowers. It’s a very different thing, just in case you didn’t know. I take it for pain, nausea, and anxiety. I do take it for fun sometimes, but I use different strains and strengths to manage specific things. The fact that it is still perceived as a “street drug” is harmful and furthers stigma. They don’t take into account that chronic pain sufferers often use CBD products such as patches to manage their pain when other pain management has been unsuccessful or unsustainable. CBD products offer no “high” or heady euphoric states at all. And cannabis doesn’t have to give you “the munchies” or make you paranoid like the old days. The more you know! 😀


I went three months without the correct diagnosis and was in horrible pain intermittently throughout that time. I was fortunate that I could work from home due to the pandemic. I went several months without pain but after the length and severity of the original gallbladder attack I was deeply depressed and never fully recovered my energy. As I was preparing my office to reopen the pain suddenly returned and it was so incredibly hard to function. I wanted to do my job but I needed to take it easy. It has been a delicate balancing act for sure. Now I am hoping that this will all be over after my surgery and I will regain my energy soon after. Before that first attack, I was taking dance classes 2-3 times a week, walking my dog everyday, really thriving during the early pandemic shutdown. I miss who I was then. It has definitely changed my perspective on a lot of things.


I am hopeful and nervous but I know I am in good hands. I know how fortunate and privileged I am to even have access to healthcare. My insurance, through my employer, will cover most of the cost of the surgery. I can afford the rest without a worry at all. What I was not prepared for was planning for the event of my death. So that’s how I spent my last weekend with a gallbladder. I know I’m a secret goth, but it was a mind fuck! My final wishes are a combo of formal and informal documentation that hopefully no one will need to bother with. I really never imagined having to decide all of this as a single person, but here I am. I will get through this and be all the better for it! 

***

I’m here for realness and sincerity, honesty and vulnerability, I’m here for the good and juicy bits of life that shine for me when I know I’m heading in the right direction.

Rad Fatty Love to ALL,
<3
S

Check out the Fat AF podcast on your favorite podcast app for all things fat sex with me and my BFF, Michaela! (We only recorded a few episodes but they were good!)

Donate to this blog here: https://ift.tt/2zKvPnQ currently donations will be given directly to Black women in need through my network.

My blog’s Facebook page for things I share that aren’t on this blog (updated frequently and not just about fat stuff): http://on.fb.me/1A18fAS 

Or get the same “shared” content on Twitter: @NotBlueAtAll

Are you on MeWe? I started a fat-feminist group there called, Rad Fatties Unlimited, look for it! I’m also on Space Hey “NotBlueAtAll”

And as always, please feel free to drop me a line in comments here or write me an email, I love hearing from readers. (Tell me your troubles, I don’t judge.) notblueatall@notblueatall.com



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Saturday, 17 July 2021

Support hose

Technically support hose is less than 20 mm, aka millimeters of mercury, which is the method of measuring how much they compress the legs. My compression hose is 20mm-30mm. But I still laughed at this, and thought some other folks would like it.

Woman in a skirted suit. Her stocking use word balloons to tell their wearer “C’mon, Tara, you can do it!” and “Yeah, Tara, I believe in you!”. At bottom: “Tara would go on to add her job interview, thanks to her support hose.”


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Thursday, 15 July 2021

On the FAT takeover of The Polyphony

I’ve been invited by an editor of The Polyphony to take over the website for a week with FATNESS. The Polyphony is hosted by the Institute for Medical Humanities at Durham University, and provides a platform to “stimulate, catalyse, provide, expand, and intensify conversations in the critical medical humanities”.

I LOVE the idea of a FAT takeover of this site – forcing conversations about fatness in the medical humanities. There are so many amazing topics we could cover, including the role of white supremacy in shaping anti-fat attitudes, fat stigma as a social determinant of health, how the medical community can ensure to provide fat patients with ethical and evidenced based healthcare, and more!

And I need your help to make it happen.

The plan is to have five authors produce pieces for the takeover; a new article will be published each day. At the start of the takeover, an introductory piece (written by me) will kick off the week.

Rather than shoulder taping the usual suspects, I wanted to invite anyone keen to submit their interest in being part of the takeover. You do not need to be an academic to submit; anyone who enjoys writing is welcome to put their hand up.

What you need to know:

Articles should be between 800-2000 words in length.

Referencing should be in Chicago.

Hyperlinks should ideally be embedded. 

Articles should be accompanied by at least one accredited image (or more, if that feels appropriate to the piece). 

A 1-2 sentence bio, linking to a professional profile, should be included for the author. Please include the author’s Twitter handle, if they have one. 

Articles would be due in mid September; this is a hard deadline as we will have space waiting for us in their schedule for the FAT Takeover.

If you are keen, pls prepare a short abstract for your piece and complete this form. Expressions of interest will be accepted until 1 August 2021; accepted authors will be notified by 5 August at the latest.



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Monday, 12 July 2021

Talking Weight Stigma with FatDoctorUK Natasha Larmie

Blue background with pictures of Natasha Laramie, a fat white woman with a brown bob and red dress and Ragen Chastain, a fat white woman with long curly hair and a red dress with text "The Fat Doctor Podcast with Dr. Natasha Larmie & Ragen Chastain"
My picture by Lindley Ashline
https://bodyliberationphotos.com/

If you’re not following @FatDoctorUK on Instagram then I highly recommend doing that right now. She has created a new podcast and I had the extreme honor and joy to be on episode 2! We talked all about weight stigma and despite a not-so-fun topic, we had a great time together.

You can listen here!

UPCOMING ONLINE WORKSHOP:

Getting Jiggly With It – Movement in a Fat Body

Movement/fitness/exercise by any definition is never an obligation or barometer of worthiness. But for fat people who want to move our bodies within a fat positive framework, a fatphobic culture can create barriers, misinformation, and other difficulties. In this workshop we’ll explore tips, tricks, and information to help us move our bodies for our own reasons and on our own terms.. (This workshop can also be helpful to fitness pros who want to create a fat-positive practice!). There will also be a video of the talk provided, and an unlimited live Q&A (I stay until all the questions are answered!) so you are guaranteed to get the information you came for!

Details and Registration: https://danceswithfat.org/monthly-online-workshops/
*This workshop is free for DancesWithFat members – login info is on the member page
Become a member here!

Missed one of my workshops? You can still get the video here!

Like This Blog? If you appreciate the work that I do, you can support my ability to do more of it with a one-time tip or by becoming a member. (Members get special deals on fat-positive stuff, a monthly e-mail keeping them up to date on the work their membership supports, and the ability to ask me questions that I answer in a members-only monthly Q&A Video!)

Book Me!  I’d love to speak to your organization (and I can do it remotely!) You can get more information here or just e-mail me at ragen at danceswithfat dot org




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Wednesday, 7 July 2021

Update

How is it July?! This week I went back to everyday office life and it has not been easy. While part of me was excited to go back and feel like a part of something again, another part of me, namely my gallbladder, had something else in mind entirely. Ugh! Yeah, two weeks ago, after no gallbladder pain since the beginning of November, my gallbladder pain returned in full effect. The fucker! After the first week of feeling truly terrible I emailed the surgeon and her assistant trying to get this damn thing removed already. Well, California “opened” on June 15th and well before that the surgery departments have all been booked up for months. I was fine with waiting when I had no debilitating pain, but now? Um…I don’t think so!

The surgeon at first told me to go to the ER but I explained that they didn’t believe I was in pain when I was at my absolute worst last August. After months of wrong diagnosis and testing it was the surgeon, on a hunch over the phone, who discovered what the real issue was. She was the only one who listened to me, who asked about the rest of my life and lifestyle. Because of that I know that I don’t have a blockage or stones, I just have a gallbladder than quit its only job. She wanted to use a robot for the surgery, mostly due to the fact that they also found a mystery mass that while benign it actually grew since the start of the year so she wanted to remove it. This would mean two separate surgeries that could be done in one session using the robot. Now that my pain is back she suggested going with the regular laparoscopy and only taking the gallbladder. I said yes!

I haven’t heard back since but I do have an in-person appointment with her next week so I’m hoping for more answers then. In the meantime my life is ruled by this pain. I feel fine in the mornings when I get up, and for a few hours after. Until, that is, I eat. Yeah eating is a basic function of life. So I went for a few days of not eating until 5 pm, which is the pits and I do not suggest it. But I had to prepare my office for the big reopen. I loved working from home, but suddenly that was no longer an option (I’m an office manager). I wanted to do it, but my body was fighting me every step of the way. Then I had four days in a row of no pain and I got soooooo much done at home. I rearranged my living room, cleaned, built a shelf, did all the laundry, washed the dog, went on a date (my first since Dec. 2019)…

Then my first day back at the office and I started to feel crummy before lunch. I thought I was just extra hungry because I had gotten up so much earlier than usual and hadn’t slept much that night. Nope! Fucking gallbladder! UGH! It took two more hours before it became fully apparent what it was. I can only take Tylenol so I just waited and left work a few minutes early. When I got home I just collapsed on my bed with my puggo snuggled up beside me. After an hour I finally got up and fed the puggo, took some Tylenol, vaped some cannabis, and laid down again. I would not have been able to eat at all if not for the cannabis. Once it all kicked in I was able to sit upright and eat and take care of some things at home.

The part about this that truly sucks is that my life is now ruled by when this pain will return. Will it be another three days of pain followed by four days of no pain? Will it just wreck me entirely? And why can I not get scheduled for this fucking surgery?!?! I understand things are backed up, but this ain’t no mole removal. I’m actually terrified of having surgery, more so being put under anesthesia. I’ve never been put under for anything. Not being able to make decisions for myself, especially medically speaking, is one of my biggest fears. Facing it alone is not what I had planned, but it is what I must do and so be it. It is far better than just living with this awful pain.

People keep telling me that gallbladder pain is some of the worse you can experience. Yeah, no shit! I put on a tough facade, but lemme tell ya, at home I am all moans, groans, and whines. Dealing with this for so long seems absolutely cruel to me at this point. Yet there’s nothing I can do about it either. I just keep getting up every morning like it’s going to be fine. Some days it is fine. When it’s not it is unbearable. I cannot live my life like this.

It’s been weird, too, to have to be “on” again at work all of the time. After wearing PJ’s and not worrying about my looks at all for fifteen months, I kind of like putting a little makeup on in the morning. Driving in traffic I could definitely do without. Ha! The few people who have come into the office have been great though. All very complimentary. I have a new boss who seems to give a shit about way more than any of my previous ones, so that’s cool. Usually with my job people only really notice what it is I do when something goes wrong. Having people in the office thanking me for getting it ready and assisting them feels good.

I’m so grateful to have what I do and be where I am in life and I am doing my best to take nothing for granted. It is an odd feeling to both thrive and struggle through on my own. It is a hard thing to explain. When I’ve had my darkest moments in the throes of truly horrific pain, I can’t imagine having someone else around or looking after me. It has often been when I’m having bursts of joy and silliness, dancing around in my little apartment, that I wish I had a person to share those moments with. I don’t feel that my life is lacking in any meaningful way. I have jolly good fun on my own with my puggo. My nearest and dearest, though spread far and wide, are very supportive. Once this gallbladder is outta me, I’m definitely going to “get out” more, but I also won’t feel bad about preferring my own company at home.



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