On being injured and powering through…but really I just want to lay down and take a nap

Posting once a month seems to be my game lately. We do what we can.

So in the ongoing saga that is my body, I have had not one but two MRIs done now in an effort to identify all that is wrong with me. Turns out there are some good reasons for being in pain. In addition to the previously mentioned rotator cuff in my right shoulder, I have been experiencing pain in the left shoulder and upper back which everyone said was a pinched nerve. And it is. Caused by several bulging discs in the cervical and thoracic spine, as well as edema, or swelling, in the spine. All probably caused by two separate falls I had back in November. It is very similar apparently to being hit by a car. 

What to do about it you ask? Well, now I am going to see a physiatrist, which is a brand of doctor I had not heard of before. They specialize in the non surgical treatment of spinal injuries or problems. It is likely this will result in a cortisone shot in the swollen areas. Which we are not going to think too hard about. When I had a spinal block for the emergency cesarean I needed to have to deliver Cooper lo those many years ago now, I didn’t have time or energy to really consider what the anesthesiologist was doing. I didn’t have time to say GAH GIANT NEEDLE BEING STUCK INTO MY SPINAL COLUMN. When that or dying is on the table, you just go with THAT. Now I have a bit more awareness and while I really want to stop hurting, I am not crazy about a needle being stuck into my spinal area. 

But if that is what has to happen, it will happen. In the meantime, I am, very carefully, keeping things going by doing exercises recommended by my chiropractor and my friend who is a personal trainer. I am still doing karate, because right now that doesn’t involve attacking or being attacked by anyone, hitting anything very hard or doing any wild jumps or kicks. It actually feels good to get the blood flowing and the muscles moving. I just have to be careful. I am enjoying the progress I am making in class, graduating to the gold belt last night. It is the third belt you can achieve. So YAY for that. 

In other news Cooper is back in gymnastics after taking a session off. He missed it, but I wasn’t about to pay all that money for him to NOT do some of the things the coach said he had to and being told to sit out if he didn’t. So we took time off, and one day he asked if he could go back, and he is doing all the events now. And he is doing track for the first time. He seems to really like it. The kid will run any time he can, whether we are in Costco or outside. He is his fathers son. And he is also still taking karate, but he is a little put out that I have surpassed him in belts. He will be at the same level as me as soon as he gets his next belt which should be this month, but still. For now I am ahead. No, I do not rub that in his face AT ALL. Nope. Not me. Or you know, the opposite of that. 

So here is to keeping busy, staying healthy and not getting injured any further. 

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Everything good comes to an end, so they tell me…but that just sucks.

Well HEEEEEEEEEEEEYYYYY there. I have stuff to say about the last month or so I didn’t blog, and will get to that eventually. Today I am here to say stuff about someone who is AWESOME.

I have known Kristen for 14 years now, and we have worked together for all that time. We started our respective jobs here within one month of each other. I am the director of financial aid, she is the director of student accounts. We are two sides of the same coin. AND SHE IS LEAVING ME. 

Yes, I am making this about me. College aid and student account offices don’t always get along. While the end goal is the same for us, to get the student enrolled and the bill paid, for some reason the offices manage to have antagonistic relationships rather than cooperative. A blame game often happens. If aid isn’t on the bill correctly, if the bill is wrong, if money for a refund isn’t being processed quickly enough, it is easy to fall back on finger pointing and shrugging of shoulders and saying “Oh well, it’s not my problem, it’s theirs.”

That has not, for the most part, happened here. We have always been small offices. When we started, I was an office of two people, myself and an assistant director, she was an office of one. Just herself. If it needed to get done, chances are one of us was going to do it. From the first moment we met it was obvious we would work well together. If someone in one of our offices screwed up, and we do, we would talk about it, work it out and move on. We took ownership of the process at both ends. 

We have also been friends. We have seen each other through boyfriends, fiancees, breakups, divorce, marriage, babies, house selling, house buying, car buying. Kristen is one of the most caring, giving thoughtful people I have ever know. She FEELS things. She is beautiful, smart and funny. If I was inclined to play for the other team she would totally be my type. No, that’s not weird. It’s just a fact. She is an awesome catch. She likes to drive cars really fast, can mix a mean, carefully crafted, very thoughtful cocktail, drives to pick up dogs to deliver to their foster homes and recycles. What is not to love. Which is why it is supremely baffling that she has not found THE ONE. Something is wrong with either all the men out there or the universe. Or both. 

I am very happy for her regarding this new adventure. It will lead to more great things for her I believe. But in the meantime, what the hell are we supposed to here? Tomorrow I am going to come to the office, and she won’t be coming in. I will need to disburse aid and I will have to remember to send the email to Heather. Nothing is wrong with Heather, she is a wonderful person. But she is not Kristen. I will think of something to tell her, want to commiserate about something and I will have to send her a facebook message. THANK GOD FOR MARK ZUCKERBERG. How did we maintain friendships without FB? 

She knows she will be missed. We celebrated her yesterday, twice. Other people said nice things about her in public. I decided I would say it here in front of god and the internet. You are loved and appreciated here Kristen. You will be missed. Good luck!!

You know it’s not too late. We haven’t even interviewed anyone to replace you yet. You can still change your mind…

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I’m not dead yet…

As you may recall, I hurt myself back in November. I initially thought my ankle was the worst of it. I was wrong. That has healed quite well thank you very much. It is my shoulder that has caused me some sleepless nights but has allowed me to meet the adorable if not slightly sadistic Sophia the physical therapist. We were making great progress for a while, but over the last few weeks I have stalled in the progress department. 

My shoulder is proving to be a reluctant patient. I am still experiencing pain and stiffness when I do certain activities, like sleep. Sleeping should be such a restorative activity. But I end up with pain across the top and front of the shoulder in the middle of the night. So we finally decided seeing an orthopedic surgeon would be a good idea, so that we could eventually get an MRI. That would allow us to see those pesky muscles and ligaments and determine if I have torn my rotator cuff. 

I saw the orthopedic surgeon today. She was nice and not all in a hurry to cut me open. YAY! She does want an MRI, so we will do that. If it is a full tear, that will require surgery. But if there is a partial tear or no tear, then we do other stuff. Let’s all put a collective wish out to the universe for OTHER STUFF. Because The Mama does not know what she will do if she cannot use her right hand for 4-6 weeks. Which is the recovery period for rotator cuff surgery, during which you are immobilized and not allowed to move it. Aside from not being sure how I would manage some of the more delicate business of my day, I am pretty sure I would not be able to leave the house after week one because my hair would be a disaster, my make up would be non existent and yes I am just vain enough to think this way. Can you shower? I have no idea. But I know I would be seriously challenged to get my left arm pit washed if I can’t move my right arm even if I could take a shower. 

These are the thoughts I think while I lay there waiting for my shoulder to stop bugging me at 3am. But I am still here, and while I am injured, I am not out of the game totally. But can I tell you what I miss? I miss being able to do a full body, stretch my fingers to the sky up on my tippy toes stretch. A nice big cleansing breath. Because that hurts. So right now, if you can, do it. Stretch all the way as far as you can and take a deep breath in and let it out. Feels good. And it’s good for you too. Do that more. You’ll be glad you did. 

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Hair, hair, beautiful hair…

Anyone who has known me for any length of time has probably known me mostly with short hair. I mean short. It is probably 3 inches long right now. The last time I grew it longer was when I was pregnant. I thought I would try out, again, having a bob. If I could have any hairstyle I would have this one:

1920s-hairstyles-2012-11

You would think my hair would be PERFECT for this style. It is stick straight, and very fine. I have one word for you: COWLICKS. A lock of hair that grows in a direction different from the rest and that resists being combed flat. I have them. Several. Four. One right at the top right corner of my forehead, defying any attempt at those beautiful, straight, even bangs. Siiiiiiiiiiiiigh.

I also have hair that looks HORRIBLE TERRIBLE NO GOOD VERY BAD when grown out long. I give you this:

me at age 9ish

I am roughly 9 years of age here. I had braces when I was 8 – 10 years or so of age. I love this picture for so many reasons. The glasses, the braces, the HAIR. The choker worn OVER the turtleneck. I mean the fact I was not a fashion model was a crime.

I digress. Hair. When fine, straight hair tortured by cowlicks is grown long, it is not attractive. It is the opposite of that. I have had some variation on short hair for most of my life as a result.

At various times in my dating life I had guys suggest I should grow it longer. “It is more girly.” “It is more feminine.” To which I would respond “IT IS UGLIER. YOU grow YOUR hair long you like long hair so much.” Or something like that.

But generally speaking I didn’t think I was making a political statement. I was making a fashion choice. Not always a good one, I did abuse the permanent a few times. So I was fascinated by this article in which the author discusses another article that I won’t link to but you can find it if you want. The short version is there is a person out there who has established, through thorough scientific study no doubt, that women with short hair are deliberately destroying their femininity to punish men, to make a political statement and are, wait for it, damaged emotionally. “Short hair is a near-guarantee that a girl will be more abrasive, more masculine, and more deranged.”

My first reaction was Hahahahahahahahahahaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaahahahaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaa**gasp**hahahahahahaaaaa.
Then I decided to go find this dude, this “author” and found the site the dude writes for, and I was first dumbfounded, then disgusted, then horrified, and now I am truly, genuinely dismayed. There are articles on this site that take misogyny to an art form. From articles like “How to land (and keep) a quality boyfriend” to “Don’t work for a female boss” to “The 15 magical years of womanhood” in which the author describes the prime years for looking good and making the most of your looks, as a woman, there seems to be no end to the close minded, wrong headed, chauvinistic jackassery they will write on this site. And these are just the articles written by THIS author. There are even more written by other “writers” who seem to know exactly how women should and do act, dress, procreate, as well as the evils of feminism, and the lies people are telling about rape.

At best I am hoping this site is kind of like a twisted badly thought out The Onion. A farce. But at worst, these people actually believe what they are writing. And other people are reading it and believing it. One article goes about detailing how 10% of children in this country are not fathered by the men the mothers are married to, but in fact, these women have cuckolded their spouses, and it was their vagina that betrayed them. There is a smattering of actual science stuck in between the idiotic and stupid things said in this article, lending just enough credence to the article that some people might actually believe most of what is written.

I am not sure what my point is, except that the internet has wrought so many wonderful things. Like Harlow, Sage and Indiana on Instagram, or the video of a mumuration. But it also has allowed any number of crackpots, or people with truly terrible intention to write and broadcast any amount of bullshit. And it ultimately interferes with us evolving as a species.

Now I need to cleanse my brain by looking at more pictures of those hilarious dogs.

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Sleep, a story in pictures…

Right before the new year I decided I would purchase a FitBit. I chose the Flex, which allows you to wear it like a bracelet or watch, but is less obtrusive and less inclined to try to eat your hand off than the Force.

The FitBit does several things I was interested in. Primarily I wanted to use it as a pedometer. It connects to your smart device, so you can see at any time how many steps you accumulate in a day. They recommend that you try to get to 10,000 a day. During the first week I averaged 5000, with one day hitting a max of 1600 or so. I realized I had gone to work, and then never left the second floor of our building for the next 8 hours. OBVIOUSLY I needed to boost my walking. Fortunately we have recently acquired a new treadmill, for which I am VERY grateful. I am happily marching my way to a minimum of 3000 steps in 30 minutes regularly now.

It also has a feature where you can track how much you eat in calories, so you can track your intake and weight loss goals. I was pretty good about inputting my info for the first few weeks. Now I haven’t for over a week. But having done that for a few weeks I realized that I was doing pretty well in terms of the number of calories I was consuming. In terms of my weight loss goals, the intake was not the problem as long as I continue to avoid things like FRENCH FRIES. Lord I do love french fries.

But the particularly interesting feature of the FitBit is that it will give you feedback about the quality of your sleep. You tap it to tell it you are going to bed, and then tap it again once you are out of bed in the morning, and you then can see a chart of how long you slept, and how often you were restless or awake.

fitbitphoto

This is a screen shot of 5 nights of sleep for me. The dark blue spaces are when I was asleep. The light blue lines are when I was restless and the pink lines are when I was awake.

I fall asleep within 7 minutes of lying down in general, says FitBit. I have stretches of being totally asleep. But look at all the light blue lines. LOOK AT THEM.

I am a very vivid dreamer. Always have been. There was a stretch of time when I lived with my parents as an adult child (the term boomeranger applied to me) just out of college. I would wake up and progress to tell my mother about the crazy dreams I had. She would look at me like how are you even awake right now.

According to research I have done, dreaming can happen during any sleep stage (there are four) but the most vivid dreaming usually occurs during the fourth stage, when REM or rapid eye movement occurs. This is accompanied by an increase in heart rate, brain activity and blood pressure. Surprisingly, it is also when your brain sends signals that temporarily immobilize or paralyze your muscles. I guess this might be self preservation in action. If you were to have some very vivid dream of driving a car and you were not immobilized, you might actually try to drive your car. My point is, if I am immobilized, I must not be overly restless WHILE dreaming if the dreaming is happening in the fourth stage.

Apparently you can cycle through the stages of sleep multiple times a night, and after the first time you move more quickly through the first 3 stages to REM sleep. What I am trying to understand from what my FitBit is telling me, is when and why am I so restless. I know part of my problem lately is that my shoulder, which I injured in the same fall where I twisted my ankle, is still bothering me. I have been in PT, and am progressing, but it often causes me pain during the night and I wake up enough to acknowledge it hurts and then adjust my position. But I don’t think that is all of it. Bob is not reporting to me that I am kicking or otherwise bothering him, so there’s that.

I find this all very fascinating even if it causes more questions than anything else. What I would love is if this little gadget could actually assess my brain waves while I sleep. All it is doing is monitoring physical activity. Maybe in the next iteration. Until then, I am up to 5440 steps already today and it isn’t even noon!

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A short list

I turn 50 this July. In light of my word of the day, focus, I present a short list of things I wouldn’t mind experiencing this year, in no particular order:

Hot air balloon ride

Blimp ride – Hood, Goodyear, it doesn’t matter to me. I just really like them 

Helicopter ride

Small prop plane ride/tour of something

Do you see a theme here? I do love the idea of flying. All of these might turn out to be completely terrifying. I have no idea.

An afternoon/sunset tour on a sailing vessel of a larger size. NOT a sunfish. Like a schooner out of Camden ME or Gloucester MA for example. 

Take a jewelry metal working class. 

Go to any of the following places: England, Ireland, Scotland. I have never been abroad except to visit our good neighbors to the north, Canada. I think going to a country that speaks, mostly, English, would be a good start. 

This list is incomplete, a work in progress. I refuse to call it a bucket list. If you call it that I will make you walk the plank during my schooner ride. 

 

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Focus…

I am not a big fan of resolutions. I am not a big fan of celebrating the new year. I have written about this before. I feel like what we do with resolutions we could and probably should be doing all year round. 

However, recently a blog I have been reading, Life With Roozle made the suggestion that we could choose a word to define what it is we would like to accomplish. I like this idea, not just because of the new year, but as something one could do regularly.

Focus. That is my word right now. Focus on the things that are really important to me. Refining that list to help bring things even more into focus. When you can define and focus, it makes other things easier. Maybe. Maybe it makes things harder. Like choosing what to do when you realize that the things you want to focus on are not the things you are required to focus on because of job, life, what have you. But that should help, even though it might be hard, to make some choices. Changes.

I recently read something to Cooper at bedtime about moths. The book is about insects. The kid likes a good reference book. It is genetic. The section started out by asking the question of why moths fly toward light. It didn’t actually answer that question. I haven’t googled it yet, so I am still unsure of the WHY. But what it did explain is why moths regularly seem to flap in never ending circles around lights.

It would appear that if light hits a moths eyes equally, the moth will fly straight at the light. If the light hits the eyes unequally, more in the right eye than the left for example, then the moth will fly in a circle to even out the light. But because this effort is much like trying to stop a table from wobbling by shaving a bit off of one leg, which leads to an endless amount of shaving off of other legs and never results in a non wobbly table, moths end up flapping in endless circles, in a never ending attempt to get an even amount of light in both eyes and fly straight.

I see this as a metaphor for focus. If we see something, a goal, a resolution, that thing we want to achieve in the distance, perhaps the most efficient, most proactive thing we can do is bring it into focus, keeping both eyes on the prize so to speak. Don’t look at it all side eyed, allowing yourself to get distracted by this or that or the other thing. By looking at it straight on, by really seeing it, bringing it into focus, we should have a better chance at achieving whatever it is we are focusing on.

Like my dad taught me when he was teaching me to catch a ball, watch it into the glove. Both eyes on the ball, all the way into the glove. Otherwise you risk distraction and dropping it or missing it.

I am mixing my metaphors but you get the idea. I am going to use Focus as my word, and try to keep my flapping around in circles to a minimum.

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