Birth Control

I used Implanon/Nexplanon for five years. I loved this BC so much I got a second round, after my first expired after three years. I removed my second round a year early because my husband and I want to expand the family. I am a huge fan of Nexplanon, and I share it with every woman who mentions birth control to me.

It was 100% free to me, under my insurance and with Obamacare’s free birth control deal.

No, it’s not comfortable having it inserted, but it’s brief and you don’t have to fuss with it for three years! No pills, rings, shots, forgetting it and causing irregularity… Nothing. No fuss, no muss. Just fifteen minutes of a numbing shot, a teensy incision, and clean up. No big deal.

I have four scars: two insertion polka dots, and two 1/8″ extraction lines. They’re all in a 2 inch square area on the inside of my left upper arm. I don’t consider it an issue, no one ever notices it, they don’t show up in pictures.

My first round, I had three period in three years. For me, this was excellent for multiple reasons including solving my pretty serious iron-deficient anemia. I got to keep my much-needed blood! Also, no periods, whoooooo.

My second round, I had a period every four months or so. I also had… well, boob soreness. I researched a ton, and it’s a normal side effect. I didn’t really like it, wasn’t a fan of it. Maybe my body got used to the hormones from the implant, I don’t know, but this was only an issue four and a half years into using this method. They didn’t hurt, but they were, you know, sore, heavy feeling.

I did not gain weight. I know many women have concerns with hormone deals like birth control, but my experience was zero weight gain.

I’ve had it out for three months now, and my period went immediately back to normal- better than normal. I’ve had three periods, all exactly 27 days apart, and all lasted two-ish days (two days plus one day of leftover sludge, you know the stuff). That’s better than my period was before birth control! So, no concerns there. Not pregnant yet, but my periods have been perfectly regular.

Five stars, two thumbs up, whatever method you prefer to rate things, I loved implanon/nexplanon (they changed the name, but like same thing). Highly recommend.


Bug Bites

So, right now sucks pretty seriously…. Monsoon season, whoooo! My right knee looks like The Blob, you can’t even see my knee cap at all, it’s so fluid-puffed. My left knee is more visible, you can see the top curve. Fingers are slow and fat, and I’m generally just very… bogged down right now.

An unexpected side effect of all this extra-over-active immune system BS: overreaction to ant bites.

I was out scooping poop in the back yard, since the temperature is only in the high 80s right now, and apparently there’s a bit of an ant problem. I have never, ever reacted badly to insect bites of any kind- they’re annoying, sure, but I’ve never swelled up or even really itched. Right now, with my little terrorists on hyperdrive, my three ant bites just blew up. I have one that is red and raised the size of a nickel and the other two are about dime-sized. Ridiculous.

Heaped on some hydrocortisone cream and mini-chugged some kids’ zyrtec, got an ice pack on the area. I’m sure it’ll be fine.

I am 26 and have been dealing with Lupus my entire life, from my mom to my sister and me, and it still manages to throw me little surprises. Keeps life interesting, I guess…


Determination. Got things to do – people to see – work to deliver. Yesterday, I joined my husband at a local restaurant and our daughter along with her boyfriend, joined us. I had a “spell.”  That’s my word for something weird happened, but not enough of something for me to go to the hospital.

There were physical and mental things happening, but nothing too serious.

No hospital. Why? Because I’ve been often enough to where I know/intuit what they can investigate and what might be life threatening and what is just my lupus body being weird. Very little is more disheartening than being told “Yeah, you seem to have something wrong with you, but nothing we can find. As you are allergic to most pain meds, take some Advil and don’t call us.” I don’t take unreasonable risks.

The determination in the title comes in this morning. I have goals; I have a job. I got up, slowly, and got to my office for work – the commute up the hall is brutal. real story. I also made it to my physical training. I was 5 minutes late and went very slowly. low weight with fewer reps. But I did it. A couple of hours later, I felt back to “normal.”  Maybe a little exhaustion like the body went through some hard, physical labor yesterday, but that’s all.

My conditions may get me down from time to time, but they are not taking me down without an epic battle. So far, I’m winning.  Yeah, I change up the plan, but don’t we all?  It’s not giving up the end goal, it’s just changing tactics according to the environment changing around us to get to the goal in the best manner possible.

Pleased to be your Queen!


This past week, I competed in the Mrs. USA Universal pageant in Reno, NV. You may recall, that I have competed in two prior pageants starting just last year – Mrs. AZ America and Woman of Achievement. LOVED all experiences.



I started because I needed to lose weight. I am not saying skinny is healthy, nor am I saying overweight is unhealthy – but my extra weight is unhealthy. It is diabetic weight. I do NOT want to be diabetic and I had about 50 pounds to lose. I have lost 34. woot woot!

Due to losing weight, eating healthy, and being more active – I am now building muscle and am off what was supposed to be lifetime meds – plaquenil and methotrexate. Can we say “good googli moo?!” This is amazing progress. And I feel better than ever!

The pageants motivate me. I don’t lose weight to compete, I compete to lose weight. And I was the highest scoring woman over 45, so I won Ms. North America Universal Elegance (Elegance being their new division for over 45 years old). I came incredibly close to placing overall, competing against young, gorgeous, intelligent, talented women. I felt like I held my own and not totally a fish out of water.

In fact, I am DANG proud of how I did.

and now I get to go to London to compete for Ms. Universal Elegance. Regardless of how I do there, I now represent this fabulous continent from Mexico to Canada. wow.


I did hair! I haven’t braided hair since I was a younger teen, because my fingers just wouldn’t manipulate well enough. I was obsessed with braiding when I was little, but then my hands got a point where they just wouldn’t do it, and it was so sad I didn’t try again until a week ago, and…. success!

Oh, btw, married now, have a three year-old stepdaughter.

On Mother’s Day

I remem18447021_10212646691513353_7522463041141553912_nber a special moment when I was a single mom in nursing school.  My girls were in the bath one morning. Charis was 1 & Dazlin almost 3 and I was brushing my hair or something when Dazlin said, “Momma, you’re so beautiful.”  Charis, who could not talk well (yet), was nodding her head yes – emphatically. It gave me a warm, loving feeling. I would do anything for these two girls. I felt that then. I feel it now.

At 20, the doctor told me I had a pre-malignant tumor on my ovary. We did surgery and found other complications. I was in my junior year of college on my journey to a PhD.  My doc told me if I ever wanted kids that I needed to get pregnant now. Nope. That did not fit my grand life plan. People joke that I must’ve immediately gone off birth control. Nope. I went on more. And apparently, God knew better than I did – I discovered I was pregnant in the first few weeks of my senior year.  This was after an earlier miscarriage.

I’ve posted about being pregnant before, so I won’t go into those details here. Rather, let me reflect on being a mom. My girls define me. They make me a better person. They make me fight to always do the right thing.

In my daughters’ eyes, I am a hero. I am strong and wise and I know no fear. Though the truth is plain to see [they were] sent to rescue me, I am who I wanna be in my daughters’ eyes. ~ Martina McBride.

This. This is what it means to me to be their mother.


Things I don’t know: to the hospital and beyond.

medicalOne of my doctors once told me that I am so bad about never slowing down, that when I do call her and complain that I don’t feel good, I usually should have been in the hospital two weeks ago. I think she may be right. In February, I did not feel good. And I developed a kidney stone in my left kidney.  I’ve had kidney stones before (in my right kidney) and I don’t go the hospital for them. I take meds to knock me out (note I am allergic to almost everything good, so I have limited choices), drink a gallon of tea, and go to sleep. I wake up. I pee. No more kidney stone.

But this time. the next day, both sides hurt. Right at the waistline – called the flanks. It’s where you put your hands on your waist… that’s the kidney spots. They hurt the next day too. And then I started feeling cold. In Arizona. In 80-90 degree weather. Oops, no thermometer. So my husband bought one on the way home and my temp was 101.9. We went to the ER at Mayo’s – conveniently 2 miles up the road.

Now why the ER? Well, kidney pain. Need fluids likely. Cannot get IV fluids at an urgent care, so ER it is.

I felt kinda silly, walking in on my own, just some kidney pain. But hey, they took my vitals before I could even write my name down – BP was 123/100. whoo boy. temp over 101. pulse 140’s. They took me back, free flowed two liters at a time into me. took lots of blood. They were gonna send me home, but my BP with fluids, dropped to 78/40. So they admitted me.I had pyelonephritis.  I also had sepsis, but they did not tell me that. I knew the symptoms of sepsis and that I met the criteria.

That was Friday. Heck, maybe it was Thursday.

Saturday, Ii was begging to go home. I mean, the ER doc was gonna let me go when I came in except for my blood pressure and my BP was fine now. But see, my pulse wasn’t. It had never lowered below 110. even with IV dilaudid on board (one of the very few I am not allergic to).  I also was having chill spells (shaking, teeth chattering) for about an hour every time the dilaudid wore off. So I swore off the pain meds. Turns out, the dilaudid was keeping those chill spells under control.

So here we go. Saturday night. And my face got numb. And my chest started squeezing. I started getting really hot. And sweating. I don’t sweat. I have sjogrens (in addition to lupus and fibro and celiac, blah blah blah). So I was worried. My husband was sitting in the room with me and I did not want to worry him, so rather than calling the nurse, I just waited for her to come by. Yeah…judgment was a tad off.

When she did come by, she quickly got the doctors and they ran all kinds of tests – heart attack, etc. My platelet count is never high and in stress, it lowers to below 100 (not good). So there could have been any number of things going on. My temp was up to 103 something. I was shaking, short of breath, pain in chest, face numb, not thinking clearly. BP up, pulse up. it was simply ugly. I was truly afraid I was going into septic shock. And sepsis kills otherwise healthy people. The dangers to someone with lupus or other autoimmune issues? – exponentially higher odds.

And then everything stopped.  I went to normal. They gave me one more dose of rocephin IV the next day and discharged me home.

And I was exhausted for three weeks. Not back to “normal” yet. But I did read my discharge summary conveniently posted on the Mayo patient portal. Turns out that in addition to sepsis, I also had acute renal failure. WHAT?

That kind of freaked me out. No one told me that. Um. hello. still a little freaked out, but gonna do the right thing and follow up with docs. I don’t want to die now.

This is what people with lupus, sjogrens, etc. etc. etc. live with. I suppose we all do. You cannot count on the future. You cannot live in the past. We live in the present and should treat it as a gift. I got lucky, by the grace of God.


- How much do you know?

at the Heart of Privacy

K Royal (@heartofprivacy)

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