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Here I go. Going all serious on you again. But I feel it’s time for me to share my story, my battle. I’m certainly not getting any younger and this disease is not going anywhere. You may even have it yourself and not realize it. March is Endometriosis Awareness Month. What is Endometriosis? To put it simply it’s where tissue, similar to the lining of the uterus, is found elsewhere in the body. Doesn’t sound too bad right? You wouldn’t think so but this tissue is seen as a foreign object by your body. So naturally, your body reacts to it in a negative way and basically starts a war with itself. Hence the theory that Endometriosis is an auto-immune disease. The tissue can spread to your ovaries, pelvic wall, bladder, bowel, intestines, colon, appendix, surgical scars and even as far as your heart or brain. It knows no boundaries, no limits. It’s like a creepy alien monster growing inside you. Did you know 176 million women WORLDWIDE suffer from this illness? An estimated 10% of all women. That’s one in every ten women. Think about that for a moment. Are you in class? Are you in a coffee shop? Are you sitting at your local Barnes & Noble? There are likely 10 women around you at this very moment and the odds state that 1 of them has Endometriosis. But did you also know that the average diagnosis can take up to SEVEN years?
Very few people in my life know of my battle with this illness. There are those who know I suffer from it but not to the degree of my suffering. I don’t usually share my private life with the outside world. I don’t like pity, plain and simple. I’ve always been a very independent person and incredibly stubborn. But here I am over 30 and having to finally admit that I’m not a powerhouse. I have limits. I hate having limits but that’s the reality. I will summarize. I’ve had Endometriosis for over 15 years. That’s half my life. How often I think back to the days I couldn’t get out of bed, was crippled in pain or had no energy and wish that I could get those days back!
I was in junior high when this monster reared its ugly head. I had to miss school a couple of days every month because the pain was too much. If the pain spared me, the heavy bleeding did not. I can’t tell you how many times I was embarrassed, having to change clothes in the middle of the day and coming up with excuses to my friends as to why. Peers started picking on me, friends dropped off the planet. I started hating my body and myself and wishing things were different. In high school, the pain continued. I auditioned for the dance line but because I had to miss the 2nd day of choreography due to the pain, I didn’t make the audition. The self hate grew with the pain. I was weak. Why couldn’t I overcome this?! Doctors told me it was all in my head, what I was experiencing was normal. My family listened to them over me. I was alone and I started to believe that maybe it was in my head. Maybe my self hatred had grown so much that I made myself believe I was in pain? I wished for death.
After high school I landed my first job..then my second job and so on. I could never hang on to a job for more than a year. I required too much time off to deal with the pain. Excruciating pain that continued to worsen to the point that now I grew physically sick. Vomiting seven to nine times in one night. It was always worse at night. I never could sleep. I could only cry and pray to God that I would make it through the night. The next day my body would feel like it had literally been run over by a train. Aches and pains everywhere. My throat burning and sore from the vomiting. The room always had that smell. Doctors started the pain meds. Each one working for a few months before having no effect at all. This monster overpowered the meds every time. It always won the battle. I started teaching bellydance during this time and it became my only source of income (and still is to this day). I was able to work around the bad days. It helped to clear my mind and gave me hope. My family decided to move and I dreaded finding another doctor. Having to explain all over again what I was going through and hearing the same “cures” repeated time and time again…this being the best one: “You should get pregnant! It will cure it, it all sloshes out with the baby!”. Really? I remember wanting to laugh but instead giving the nurse that look. Before finding a new doctor, I was forced to visit the ER one evening when the pain grew too severe. I was misdiagnosed with having a kidney infection. No one knew anything about Endometriosis. In November 2011, I spent an entire night fearing I was having a heart attack. My chest and sides were hurting so bad I couldn’t sit up or lie down or find any comfortable position. By the next morning the vomiting started and my family took me to the ER. I needed emergency surgery. My gallbladder had to come out. I was admitted into the hospital that night and the surgery was performed the next morning. The reason for the needed surgery? I had endo lesions on my gallbladder that made it “diseased” and it no longer worked properly. The monster again. Now it’s left me with scars that are a constant reminder of it’s presence. As a dancer, the limitations have been brutal. Dancing has always been a major part of my life from childhood. In the past year in order to perform I’ve received pain med injections. Through the years I was forced to cancel performances or appearances due to the pain. No matter how hard I tried to overcome it, I always lost.
Today, I have thyroid disease and high levels of inflammation in my body. (Many women with Endo have thyroid issues too. They seem to go hand in hand.) I am unable to eat just about anything that tastes good. Every day is different though, what makes me sick one day may not the next. I never know. I am also currently on an injection to help the pain and symptoms of Endo. It has helped the severity but at a price: I have an increased risk of breast and cervical cancer (already at risk as it runs in my family). I am also losing bone density and more susceptible to fractures. I have already suffered two since starting the injections. My weight fluctuates due to the thyroid and injection combined and it’s something I am dealing with on a personal level. It’s a bummer. Although, the risks seem friendly compared to the level of pain I once endured. I am just hoping that the monster doesn’t overcome this too. The twinges of pain come every now and then and it worries me. I don’t want to face it again. This growing thing inside me that has already consumed so much of my life. I want it to die.
Through everything I’ve always tried to keep a smile on. To push through and be my best at everything I attempt. I’ve worked hard and my stubbornness is still there to push me along. But so are you. The people who support me. Friends who understand when I’m having a bad day and have stuck with me regardless. Students who make me laugh and remind me I can’t give up. The fans who watch performances, attend panels and come up to me afterwards to thank me for being me. Thank YOU for being you and for helping me have the strength to carry on. I recently asked those who know me and those who do not to describe me in one word: “Patient”, “Strong”, “Mesmerizing”, “Sweet”, “Creative”. These words tell me I’m doing my job and I’m not letting this monster win anymore. I do what I do because of all of you. Because of your smiling faces, because of the times I see you cry in the audience, because of the time I hear the words, “You inspire me.”. I don’t know how much longer my body can dance but I will always spread awareness for Endometriosis. Because no one should feel alone.
"Like" the page over on Facebook and when it hits 200, I’ll do fan signs! :D Miss Michiru Cosplay
I realize I haven’t actually posted any progress pics on here in a while…so here we go! I finished this beauty last month but I’m adding more rhinestones and making a few changes to the cloak (not pictured). Here’s a little sneak peek until I get photos of me in the full costume.
This doesn’t necessarily pertain to JUST cosplayers. This is something that can help anyone trying to lose weight. With the start of every new year, we all make weight loss pledges which are shortly put on the back burner. The #1 reason? Many people get discouraged when trying to lose weight because they focus on the wrong numbers. When you start any type of exercise, your muscles are the first to build up thus your weight goes up. Instead of setting a weight goal, set measurement goals!
Measure your body before starting. Then watch as the inches come off. It’s a lot more accurate than your scales! Eventually the scales will match the weight you’re losing but don’t get bogged down with the numbers at the start! Remember you gain muscle when exercising and that will affect the numbers on your scales! Measure yourself instead and enjoy less stress with your exercise. Your waist measurement alone is also a helpful sign in avoiding chronic health complications (diabetes, heart disease, high blood pressure, etc.). To correctly measure your waist, hold the measuring tape against the skin - level with your belly button. Don’t hold your breath and don’t pull the tape too tightly!
To help you set realistic goals, this is the basic healthy guideline for waist measurements:
Men: Goal - below 40” (higher than 40” greatly increases health risks)
Women: Goal - below 35” (higher than 35” greatly increases health risks)
Thank you! It’s “Boushi no Waltz” from the Kobato soundtrack. :) Very cute anime and manga.
Snow White and the Seven Dwarfs: Am I a tidy person?
Pinnocchio: The biggest lie I’ve ever told
Fantasia: Favorite instrumental track
Dumbo: My relationship with my parents
Bambi: Have I ever lost someone close to me
Saludos Amigos: 3 places I want to visit
The Three Caballeros: 3 gifts I’d love to get
Make Mine Music: Do I play any musical instruments?
Fun and Fancy Free: Am I a wandering spirit or more stay-at-home person?
Melody Time: An artist I’d like to see live
The Adventures of Ichabod and Mr. Toad: Do I believe in ghosts
Cinderella: Have I ever been to a formal dance (prom, homecoming etc.)
Alice in Wonderland: My weirdest dream
Peter Pan: A strong childhood memory
Lady and the Tramp: Have I ever misjudged someone? (Be honest!)
Sleeping Beauty: My favorite sleeping position (on the back, stomach, side…)
One Hundred an One Dalmatian: Have I ever owned a pet
The Sword in the Stone: One time you did something you thought you’re not capable of
The Jungle Book: Have I ever gone camping
The Aristocats: My relationship with my siblings if I have any and if not, would I want siblings?
Robin Hood: If I had 1 million dollars, will I choose to donate the money or keep it to myself?
The Many Adventures of Winnie The Pooh: favourite food
The Rescuers: Do/Did I volunteer?
The Fox and The Hound: A strong memory of me and my best friend
The Black Cauldron: My greatest nightmare
The Great Mouse Detective: One thing I’d like to do in London if I ever get to visit
Oliver & Company: One thing I’d like to do in New York if I ever get to visit
The Little Mermaid: Have I ever done something my parents told me not to do?
The Rescuers Down Under: Have I ever helped someone in need?
Beauty and The Beast: My favourite books
Aladdin: Have I ever stolen anything?
The Lion King: If I were the king/queen, what would would I do first?
A Goofy Movie: Have I ever met a celebrity?
Pocahontas: Where is my family originally from?
The Hunchback of Notre Dame: Do I like carnivals?
Hercules: If I were a child of a god, which god would it be?
Mulan: Bravest act I’ve ever done?
Tarzan: How many languages I can speak?
Fantasia 2000: Do I listen to classic music?
Dinosaur: Favourite historical period?
The Emperor’s New Groove: If I were an animal, what animal would I be?
Atlantis: The Lost Empire: If I could visit any legendary place, where would I want to go?
Lilo & Stitch: Can I surf?
Treasure Planet: If I could go on an adventure with only one person from tumblr, who would I take with me?
Brother Bear: A mistake I made
Home on the Range: Have I ever been to a farm?
Chicken Little: Am I a coward?
Meet The Robinsons: Would I prefer traveling to the past or the future?
Bolt: Can I act?
The Princess and the Frog: Favourite fairytale
Tangled: Am I good in arts?
Wreck-It Ralph: Favourite game
Frozen: Favourite Disney song
Did you know these are the same dancers from the Chimney scene in Mary Poppins!?!
Still defining epic, after all these years.
this makes me so happy every time i see this T_T
Hate to burst everyone’s bubble but no they are not ALL the same dancers. Only one of the gentlemen in this scene was from the original Mary Poppins. Two of the other gentlemen were dancers in West Side Story.
A hint at my latest *secret* cosplay. To be revealed at Kami Con (Birmingham, AL - Feb. 14-16).
Turning things a little more serious here. Safety is a growing concern as cosplayers and cosplay in general become more popular. Physical and verbal abuse (whether sexual or not) are real. Not all photographers are trustworthy. That cosplay buddy you met online may not be who they say they are. But this doesn’t mean you have to constantly look over your shoulder and forget about having fun. There are ways to stay safe just by being more cautious and keeping these tips in mind:
1. Buddy systems really do work! Many cosplayers usually have a friend or significant other acting as their handler (someone who helps them get around a venue, carries things, etc.). But if you don’t, try to stay with friends/guardians. If you prefer flying solo always ALWAYS let someone know where you are heading. The buddy system is especially crucial if you’re meeting someone for the first time!
2. Don’t allow yourself to be caught off guard. This happened to me personally and I know it’s easier said than done! If you’re grabbed or touched in a way that isn’t cool with you…don’t just stand there. Speak up. Tell the person that what they did was wrong. Many times it only takes one person calling them out for them to realize their wrong doing. However, there are times when con security or local authorities need to get involved. That’s what they’re there for! Don’t be afraid to report someone. I had to and although it was a scary experience, things were quickly remedied when I went to the authorities. If one person doesn’t listen to you…seek out someone who will.
3. Photographers are a key element in the world of cosplay. It’s always a great feeling when someone asks for your photo, right? Then why are you asking yourself, “Why do I feel uneasy about this person?”. If a photographer or anyone taking photos gives you a creepy vibe, you have the right to decline their request for a photo or just keep walking. A big and I mean HUGE red flag is when someone asks you to pose in ways you don’t feel comfortable. To quote someone that approached me, “Can you get down on all fours and act like a real cat girl?”. You can’t protect yourself from all of these types of creeps. Some photographers will zoom in on body parts without the knowledge of the model. I wish I could say all photographers are our friends but that’s sadly false.
4. On the topic of photography…cell phones are readily available for quick photos. We live in a super high tech world now! But phone cameras also make it easier for predators to sneak upskirt shots or close-ups of body parts (again). Be aware of your surroundings.
In closing, if you’re cautious and use a bit of common sense you can have a safe and fun cosplay/convention experience! Stay alert and if you witness someone harassing or doing anything suspicious to someone else, say something. If you don’t want to say anything yourself, tell the nearest staff member. Watch out for one another.