Intl Pageant Day – why do I do pageants?

168425-I-Need-A-CrownI needed to get into shape (or so my doctor kept saying). I’m very competitive, but not at all athletic. So why pageants? Well, Mrs. pageants generally have an age range from 19 or early 20s till….. whenever. So put my middle-aged, overweight self next to a 23 year old who just left the Miss America Organization, and well… I’ll get into shape.  I am still working on it.

It’s not easy. My entire life (up until about 32), I was skinny. We’re talking 5’7″ and less than 100 pounds. In my late 20s, I was about 110 pounds – after two kids. I never tried to lose weight. I never exercised. And I durn sure did not eat healthy.

I have some wins though – I lost about 30 pounds. I went from osteoporosis to osteopenia. I came completely off Plaquenil and Methotrexate (considered lifetime meds once you go on them for Lupus / Sjogrens). Getting diagnosed with Celia Disease made me straighten up the nutritional plan, as did having a high A1C (shows blood sugar over time – diabetic….). My A1C is normal now. If I can do this, so can others with disabilities.

So I walk and I work out (I kinda fell off the working out, sorry, David Ashley, the Pastor of Pump). I eat healthy (most of the time). I have a hard time eating healthy when I travel, although I do manage to keep exercising.

But there is something else – the reason why I keep competing. The women (and men) I have met are in general, Fantastic. They get it. They are people of strength and beauty, goals and dreams. People that work to help others. I have met very few shallow, back-stabbing, pouting, shallow, what-you-think-are-pageant-girls people. Okay, there are some, but I am pretty oblivious to backstage politics. I just like everyone. And I try to help everyone and assume others do the same.

If you’ve every wondered….why does she do this? This is why. For my own health. To encourage others. To Live Out Loud. To be uniquely and unapologetically myself. To be among strong people who are helping the world.

Lots of love,
K Royal
your Mrs. Arizona, USA Ambassador 2018

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A cat has 9 lives…

cat

Just over a year ago today, I was hospitalized for sepsis and acute renal failure – just after I had a kidney stone. It’s not the first time I have faced death and laughed in its face (okay, it’s really been more exhaustion, but laughter sounds better). Most of these have been due to Lupus and its natural complications, but at least one was not. If I were a cat, I think I would be dead already. 

 

This does tend to make cherish life even more.

As a hospice nurse, I learned a lot about living and dying; regrets and memories. My patients taught me a lot and those lessons stick with with me. Humility. Worries about family. Responsibilities. Joy. 

But somehow, when faced with it myself, I don’t think I portray those heroics or acceptance. I don’t want to go gently into that good night. I’d like to claim that I raged and raged, but found myself without the rage, as well. Having survived them all (so far), I find that I slip gently back into “normal” with a few more conscious moments of what life should be about.   

Life is messy and chaotic, fraught with emotions – both good and bad. Living is being present – day-to-day, planning, reacting, regretting, rejoicing – in things both small and tall. Life is what we make it. And if we think that facing death has an impact on us; well, it does. I thank God every day I wake up. Pain is merely a symptom that I am breathing.

People often ask where I find this unceasing energy and “perkiness.” It is not unceasing. My family can attest to that. But there is some truth in it. No matter where. No matter what. No matter when. There is always something good, because I am still there to experience whatever it is that is happening. It may not be a pleasant occasion (the death of a loved one comes to mind), but I knew that person, loved that person, and was loved by that person. That is a blessing.

So I am grateful to experience this thing called life. “Electric word LIFE it means forever and that’s a mighty long time.” No matter how long or how short a time we have on this earth, it’s a mighty long time to immerse ourselves in living. Don’t just survive. Thrive.

 

Arizona

I may have to resign myself to staying in Arizona for the foreseeable future, at least until I’m done having kids. The climate really, truly is better. My husband seems okay with this- he’s actually the one who brought it up, and asked me to compare my time in not-Arizona to Arizona, and the comparison was pretty compelling… I love that he wants the best for me and my health and is committed to it, and I hate hate HATE that I am so limited in such major life-decisions by my health. Just when I start thinking I’ve accepted my fate and being my physical self doesn’t bother me, here comes another challenge around the bend…

Pregnancy

Hey all, I’m 20 weeks pregnant!

I’ve had so much to post, but the app wasn’t working on my phone… lame, I know, but real.

So, good news: my autoimmune issues has always been a couple markers off, so while my mom and sister have official, diagnosed Lupus, I have “unspecified autoimmune disorder” or “inflammatory arthritis”. This has had some perks, since I’ve avoided an official diagnoses for insurance reasons, but still get treatment with symptoms and all. Mostly though, I just called it Lupus to regular people and was vaguely annoyed at the whole naming-thing. HOWEVER, these slight chemical differences mean I am missing the antibodies that would be attacking my fetus’ heart! My white terrorist cells (ahahaaa) are not programmed to target my baby!

I mean, of course lupus (ish) complications can always do whatever and make life difficult during pregnancy, but at least there isn’t a specific agenda item about breaking my kid’s literal heart.

Whoooo!

Pregnancy is going well, normal pregnancy stuff- nausea, constipation, tired, hungry, etc. NBD.

Oh, and it’s a boy. 😀

Pregnancy

I was recently pregnant- we found out at 4 weeks, and lost it at 6 weeks. I did not get to the ultrasound stage.

Fortunately, I grew up with nurses who were very open about their own experiences, and the people I told about the miscarriage all had their own (sometimes multiple) experiences to share before they had successful pregnancies. My husband and I are fine; we were bummed for a couple days, but we didn’t mourn and we aren’t concerned. We know most first pregnancies have issues, and I was high risk anyway with Lupus.

Now, about being pregnant and having lupus:

  1. You can’t take advil! Tylenol is useless for me. Midol was alright. Aleve was useless. I was so exhausted all the time, and my knees were terrrrrible. Unfortunately, there’s not much you can do. I started taking turmeric pills (bought at walgreens in the vitamins/supplements section), but I suspect that has to build up to be effective. I’m still taking it.
  2. My OB/GYN put me on baby aspirins because clotting is a concern for pregnancies in general, and more so with Lupus. I did not know this. I do now. He suggested I keep taking them anyway, pregnant or not.
  3. I actually stayed hydrated while pregnant, because making a healthy baby was a huge motivation. Being well hydrated for probably the first time in my life was amazing! Such a simple thing had an enormous impact on my life! My toenails and fingernails had color from better circulation (might be because of the aspirin, too), I was more awake, I woke up easier in the mornings, I didn’t crash during the day (usually around 11, a half hour before lunch)…. for real, stay hydrated! It takes effort, and carrying around a huge Tervis cup of watered down juice or tea, but soooo worth it!

Everything else is normal pregnancy stuff- the constipation is for real- and I suggest getting the pregnancy bible, What to Expect When You’re Expecting. Maybe next time I can tell you more about lupus-pregnancy, but that’s all I have for as far as I got.

Also, please please please don’t hate on yourself or feel inadequate if you lose a pregnancy. It’s so common even for normal, healthy women, and it’s not your fault. Women with lupus still have babies, but yeah, you lose more babies too. It just means you have to keep trying, and there’s nothing wrong with that… 😉

Pills

Being healthy is so hard. I take a multivitamin/prenatal (folic acid whooooo, your hair and nails will thank me), fish oil for my ears (wax build up is a bummer), turmeric as a natural anti-inflammatory for my knees, a baby aspirin because we’re trying to get pregnant, and D3 because I have a recently-discovered vitamin D deficiency. Ugh. I have one of those days-of-the-week pill boxes like a retired person.

Oh, and if you take too many soft gels, you get acid. If you don’t eat before pills, you throw them up. Or I do, any way.

Staying hydrated is also a severe, conscious effort. A glass before work, three glasses at work, three glasses at home…. and I should be drinking 8-10. I keep stocked on juices to flavor my water.

All of these are over the counter, none of the meds I take are prescribed. I have been fortunate enough to live in an area that helps my inflammation (AZ, dry and mostly steady pressure) and I mostly don’t over-exert myself. I have been off prescription meds for about two years now, which is good because NSAIDs start messing with your kidneys and liver after a while.

At least I’m only high maintenance physically, right?

Right…?

Surreality – Ms. N. America Elegance Universal

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Just your typical poor country girl, nurse turned attorney from Mississippi wandering around Europe and France wearing a sash…. We were at Buckingham Palace on the 20th anniversary of the day Princess Diana died. Then two days later, we drove through that tunnel. We’ve been up in the London eye, seen the most glorious sites of London and Paris, and been waved/honked/whistled to/at by people of all ages and walks of life. One of my favorites was the firemen in a truck with the sirens on headed to an emergency who smiled and waved out the back window.

It’s surreal.

I am not what people think of when they picture a “beauty queen.”  Heck, I’m not what I think of when I think of a beauty queen. I’m just me, looking for a larger forum to impact lives one person, one day at a time. I would not consider myself inspirational, but there is no doubt that my story, my life has inspired people.  And they have gone on to do incredible things.

 

Me?  I’m just being me. At times, that meant surviving one day at a time. At times, it meant fearing I was about to die. Or that I killed my kids (in a horrible vehicle accident we were in on a frozen bridge). And at times, it meant achieving a dream. My dream when I was about 25 was to be able to walk into the local superstop and buy a coke without balancing my checkbook first. True story.

 

Now my dream is to live a life that personifies authenticity, passion, and vibrancy.

and I’m in Europe, with a group of amazing women, experiencing surreality.

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- How much do you know?

at the Heart of Privacy

K Royal (@heartofprivacy)

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