Hello, everyone! I've returned from the black hole known as 2020, and what a ride that was! I apologize for vanishing off the face of the internet, but as I'm sure countless others can agree, Life demanded a great of attention to navigate. I want to start this year by filling you in on what happened to me and set the tone for the new year ahead. As insane as the year was, I am actually grateful for the pushes that led me to 2021...
January and February were incredible! The year began with incredible news in my transition journey. My first major surgery was scheduled that would greatly improve my daily life both mentally and physically. Mrs. Winchester and I went on a family a trip to Disney, celebrating a two birthdays and fifteen years of friendship between us. I got to meet my first hero that awakened my sense of identity - The Beast - and the cast members were all moved by my tearful confession that I was about to begin my own transformation with my own Belle. It was a fanciful experience that reconnected me with my inner child for the first time in ages, sparking inspiration that would carry me through the coming struggles I had yet to realize yet. Toward the end of February, Mrs. Winchester and I were preparing to launch a fundraiser that would help publish my first book: Nature Calls, Spring.
March began our 2020 disappointments. While the first week of crowdfunding started strong, the following revealed the effects of the pandemic that had not reached our part of the woods yet. Our initial joy was turned to crimpling uncertainty. My endometriosis suddenly spread at the same time, worsening my symptoms and caused me to deplete my leave time intended for my surgery recovery. The final blow came when my surgeon's office called to inform me that the ORs were closed without an end in sight. I was terrified, wondering if I was unlucky or cursed to fail in all my dreams and goals.
April was a turbulent month of anxiety, pain, and financial uncertainty. Both my wife and I were considered essential personnel. We shared the reality that one or both of us could contract the virus, which could set back any rescheduling of my critically needed surgery, or even possibly separate us when we were one another's anchor in the raging storm. Thankfully, we remained free of the deadly virus the entire year. However, because I was only considered a part-time employee, my hours were below my budget's needs, and with my already spotty attendance because of my health, I was forced to reach out for help from family and use our fundraiser earnings to pay my portion of rent. My wife had to shoulder the rest of our bills, which wounded my pride and pushed the limits of her own anxieties. Needless to say, our 15 year anniversary and my birthday were not the celebration we hoped for, but at least, we were grateful to be together.
Rolling into May, I was finally contacted by my surgeon's office to reschedule my surgery. New hope sprang in our home at last, and I jumped on every task I needed to complete to make the date as soon as possible. My job, however, was not as eager, and I had some strife in my own department that made me second guess my desire to remain with the company. When I got word that my Covid-19 test was negative and I only needed to self-quarantine 48 hours before surgery, I felt a sense of relief that brought me to tears. I was looking at a month and a half away from the stressors outside of my sanctuary. I could only hope it would rejuvenate me enough when I had to return.
May 14, I went under the knife and came out so well the nurses were impressed my pain didn't even bother me. Three days later my next 2020 curveball knocked me back a peg. At 4am, I awoke soaked in sweat and trembling in a panic. I had entered surgical menopause sooner than my surgeon had hoped. Because I wasn't supposed to start estrogen but rather testosterone replacement, I was awaiting my doctor's office to schedule my first shot. I also was advised against temporary estrogen because there was one, endometrial patch they were unable to clean out, so we had to wait for it to dry out. Unfortunately, the pandemic had drastically cut back the clinic's hours for appointments, and they were prioritizing other patients at the time. I wasn't without hope though, for my wife's 2020 journey became my salvation.
Mrs. Winchester had decided to invest in her own dreams of serving others. She has always been a naturally healing soul, and as she was waited for her Reiki Master to open the next level of her training, she discovered a certification course in Aroma Therapy. When she realized my symptoms that night, she set to work with our diffusor to use oils that could ease them. She sat with me for two hours as mist filled the room, calming my panic attack and reassuring me we would weather this new storm with confidence. After that first night, she used the knowledge she was learning to counter my menopausal symptoms. Without any medication options, my surgeon was impressed with my wife's quick thinking had found us a solution while we waited.
With my symptoms under control, I returned to writing my latest project. Just before my surgery, I had posted the beginning of Nature Calls, Summer. Sitting by myself on the couch while my wife was at work all day, I set to work with my favorite creative outlet. Summer practically flowed out of my fingertips for six weeks straight, and since I had taken a social media break to focus on writing, I posted the final chapter on June 30th just in time to report back to work...
... just kidding! My supposed final follow up revealed that I was not ready to return to work and had to extend my pelvic rest. My job was hesitant to let me come back, so I was left without work for another month without pay. As disheartening as this was, we learned soon after that our friend was in need of a place to live while she got back on her feet. This turned out to be a positive set back, as she and her dog were able to start a new life because of our help.
August finally came around and we had a unwelcome surprise of a hit and run breaking my headlight and nearly taking my front bumper off. Fortunately, it happened before we were up, so thanks to my wife's foresight of improving our insurance the beginning of the year, we were only out a deductible that didn't hurt too badly. The repairs were quick, and I was able to start back to work without restrictions literally two days later!
I mentioned earlier that I had been second guessing staying at my job before my surgery, and while I was out of work without pay, I had applied for other jobs to see if I could get a better paying, full time job with equal or better benefits. I'd got phone interviews in July, but I was waiting to hear when a training class would be available for me to start. Well, I got notice that one would be open the last week in October, so I just had to endure at my original job for a little under three months. Boy did that test my patience though! Haha!
September 1st was my first dose of hormone replacement therapy, and my menopause cleared up by the second shot. I felt strong for the first time in almost a year since the endometriosis worsened. I started getting through work without much problem, and I actually worked faster than ever. My coworkers commented on how my voice and upper body were changing. It was affirming to hear those things from my work acquaintances, and some were praising me for my success with my book. It was difficult to leave those supporters, but I knew my time with them was coming to a close with new opportunities to come.
That last week in October was both exciting and exhausting. Virtual training had plenty of challenges, and a few weeks in I developed maddening hives. No exaggeration! My stress levels were up, trying to balance learning with my own comfort. Work on my Inkitt books came to a screeching halt, and my new Patreon fell silent as I found my time had been completely consumed. Even reading for pleasure became impossible, and I felt discouraged and depressed once again.
December, with the second wave of the pandemic really beginning to show, Mrs. Winchester and I had to make the most of canceled plans and missed loved ones. This time of year is very dear to us, both socially and spiritually. Despite my limited, creative ability, I managed to write a special gift for my wife in the form of a fearie quest of riddles leading to her Christmas gift. While originally concerned she wasn't clever enough to figure out the riddles, she surprised herself by solving all of them, and we had a fun time. The close of the year was quiet for us at home with some tears at the bittersweet memories over the past year. We made it to midnight and shared our kiss before going to bed.
As I finish this, I'm a little misty eyed at how much we have overcome, and I mean all of us! So much has been taken, leaving us disappointed and lost. However, as we stand at the birth of a new year, I welcome you to grasp this opportunity to start anew. Let us learn from the missed opportunities of 2020 to make us stronger and more resilient in 2021. I know that Mrs. Winchester and I are as we focus on turning our goals into reality. Since launching her own website, Feywild Apothecary, Mrs. Winchester and I are looking forward to seeing her business grow. I am starting over with my self-publishing goals once my new job helps pay off the hospital debts. There is so much to be grateful that I could write a whole other post about, but I've made this long enough. I'll leave you with this thought and blessing until next time.
Be kind to each other and yourself this year. Be blessed. -J