Tuesday, November 20, 2012

Surgery: Round Two. Am I Annoying?

I was nervous about having surgery again. For two reasons. First, I hate scars. Despise them actually. Yes, I know. They tell our stories and show signs of healing. But it’s hard for me to look at them and not see imperfection and brokenness. Second, last time I had surgery I felt terrible afterwards. I was completely confused and didn’t even think that I was alive for an entire week. And for at least a month after that my memory was terrible. I was back at work and functioning normally, but I just couldn’t seem to remember anything after a few days had passed. Everything felt like a dream that I just couldn’t quite remember. It got to the point that I thought I would never feel normal again. But my hardware and cysts from my broken arm had to come out to get normal functionality in my arm again. So I had to go in for round two.

I got checked in to the hospital on Monday morning and prepped for surgery – gown, hair net, IV, arm signature and all…

 I explained my memory loss to my anesthesiologist. And you’ll never guess what he said.

This rarely happens to any patient, Emily.

No kidding. Like I’ve never heard that one before… “There is a rare phenomenon that occurs as a side affect to anesthesia which causes pretty severe amnesia. It rarely happens for extended periods of time, and when it does occur it is usually in geriatric patients – not 25 year olds.” Awesome. Not. Anyways, they promised to try to alter my anesthesia this time to avoid the memory loss. I told them that as long as I stayed asleep, go for it.

My surgery got bumped back a few hours, but fortunately while I nervously waited on my bed, a family friend passed by who happens to be a nurse at the hospital. She was able to talk to us for quite a while which helped take my mind off of everything. Ironically, I only have three memories of sleep walking as a child – two of which were at her house. Full circle moment.

I was awake when they wheeled me into the surgery room. I remember thinking, “Wow. Skydiving on Saturday didn’t bother me but lying on my back and getting wheeled through a hospital feels like a roller coaster!” They got me all set up on the table and then a nurse called out “She’s ready for induction!” To which I assured her that I was not having a baby.

The rest of our pre-surgery conversation went something like this:
Honey, if you were having a baby we could help you, but you aren’t. We are only going to be looking at your arm.
So my clothes will stay on?
You don’t have clothes on. You are in a gown.
But my gown will stay on?
Yes. Your gown will stay on. We don’t need to see anything but your arm.
Oh, ok... Do you know Jacque?
Is that your mom? Your friend?
No. It’s Dr. Downs’ nurse. (She’s the nurse that I see when I go to his office).
No, we don’t know her.
Well Dr. Downs does. And I do too.

The next thing I know I am waking up. I remember almost all of my post surgery conversations, but was obviously clueless and more than a little bit confused!

Emily… Emily… You just had surgery and are waking up.
I’m alive?
Yes, honey. You did great.
Did you tell my mom that I’m alive?
Yes. Dr. Downs talked to her. He told her that you did great.
Does everyone in this whole hospital love me or just my mom?
Of course we all do.
People love me here?
Oh. Am I annoying?
No, honey.
Are my clothes on?
Your gown is on.
So I’m not naked?
Do YOU know Jacque?
No, I don’t.
Am I annoying?
No. You aren’t. You are just waking up.

(Another nurse walks up and starts talking to me.)

Hi, Emily.
Do YOU think I’m annoying?
Do YOU know Jacque?
Is my gown on?
Yes, it is.
The whole time? The whole time it was on?
They only looked at your arm.
So they didn’t take my gown off?
Girl, if they started taking people’s gowns off for no reason then we’d have some major issues here.
Oh. So do you think I’m annoying?
No! Why do you keep asking that?
I don’t know. I’m just not normal.
We don’t take gowns off or tell patients that they are annoying. So don’t worry. Oh, and no. We don’t know Jacque. No one here does.
Well Dr. Downs does. And I do.
Okay… I’ll go get your mom.
Hey! She knows Jacque, too!

After a few crackers, a bumpy wheel chair ride to the car, a hazy ride home, and a nice nap in my own bed, I woke up feeling crystal clear. Thank goodness the altered anesthesia worked better for me this time! My recovery has gone much quicker. Of course, it helps that I don’t actually have a broken arm this time! My arm hurts, but is manageable with just Tylenol. And I have a huge splint on my arm. Fortunately it is wrapped in a bandage with a chevron print.

Someone pinterest this chevron bandage because it is so super stylish.

So now I am just rotating between the couch and the bed while my mom and dad take care of me. Plus I’ve gotten lots of well wishes from my friends and even a visit from my sweet friend Carmen who made me a Dream CD, a dream catcher, and a fruit cup. She’s the best!

The dream catcher is going above my bed asap.

I'm so thankful that my hazy craziness only lasted for a little while! I didn't send crazy texts or buy any groupons to Suzy Wong's House of Yum or anything this time! So now I am in a splint for a couple of weeks and probably won't need therapy again. Just lots of Mederma for my scars.

Happy healing. And happy thanksgiving!

Sunday, November 18, 2012

My Kind of Weekend: Parachutes and Hula Hoops

There are lots of moments when I am really thankful that I blog. Sometimes it’s when I know that it has connected with someone – a recipe made, an adventure inspired, or a heart touched. Sometimes it’s when I end up on other places in the blogosphere – like this post on author Melissa Lester’s blog. I also recently popped up on a popular home redesign blog – The Ugly Duckling House. She hyperlinked to my patio remodel on this post where she says “and after looking around the blogosphere a little” on her patio post. And sometimes it’s because I don’t want to forget a single thing about my story. And this weekend is one of those weekends that I never want to forget. I don’t know how I possibly could.

Sky Diving
On Saturday three of my girl friends and I went sky diving together in Waverly, TN. I went sky diving once last year, so I was super excited to go again.  

Ready to sky dive. I know, I look like a creeper.

The other girls were newbies – and it was amazing to experience it with them for their first time! There was some nervousness from a few participants.

Ashley praying...

But everyone jumped.

 Me, ready to jump!

 Linzi getting harnessed.

 Ashley practicing her jump.

Sarah listening to instructions.

Linzi and Sarah supervising the parachute packing process.

And everyone LOVED it!!

We were all able to go up in the plane together and jump (tandem with an instructor of course) from 14,500 feet. Because we free fall at about 120 mph, the air felt super cold! But it was so awesome. My favorite part both times has been the free fall. There is absolutely nothing like rushing towards the earth with nothing but 14,500 feet between you and the ground. It’s an incredible experience. I can’t get enough of it… I’m sure I’ll be going again.

(To read more about what it’s like to sky dive, read last year’s post or watch last year's video.)

Hula Hooping a 5k
As if my weekend wasn’t already interesting enough, today I hula hooped the Mayor's 5k to fulfill one of this year’s resolutions. My friend Yvonne has hooped several half marathons, a Susan G. Komen walk (20 miles a day for three days), and done tons of hoop performances and fitness classes. Yeah, she’s awesome. But even more than being an awesome hooper, she’s an awesome friend! We typically exercise together anyways, but she spent the past couple of months teaching me to hoop walk. We trained once or twice a week together and then hooped on our own at home. I do recognize that it probably seems hilarious to imagine me standing in the middle of my living room hooping for 30 minutes at a time while watching tv. I had a huge bruise on my hip for a while, but my body is finally getting used to it.

Me and Yvonne

Today our hoop team included about 25 walkers (no, we don’t run). I hooped around my waist for most of the walk. But, as you can imagine, my abs got pretty tired so I hooped on my hand sometimes too.

I hope my face looked like that the whole time... not.

Hoopers take up a lot of space, so we started the race in the very last corral. I’m not sure exactly how long it took us to do the 5k because we didn’t start with everyone else and took a couple of photo ops, but I’d say we did the race in about 70 minutes.

Thanks for hooping with me, friend! You are incredible!

A few notes on hooping:
We use custom made hoops which are larger and heavier than the plastic hoops that they sell for children at Target. Trust me, I can’t really hoop with those things! Heavier hoops are much easier.

You might think that you can’t hoop, but you can. I’ve never seen anyone try for longer than ten minutes and not get it. Don’t move your hips in a circle or it will fall. Move front to back or side to side.

If you walk around with a hoop, lots of random people will talk to you. I’ve never gotten so much attention from strangers in my entire life. Be prepared. My favorites were the people who would walk up and say “Is that a hula hoop?” (Duh.) And the man that kept cheering “Hoopity hoop. Doopity Doop.” My least favorite were the dogs that barked at and wanted to chase the hoops. I am so not an animal person.

Mayor Karl Dean does not want to try to hoop. He was asked, but just looked awkwardly down at his sneakers and power walked past us.

I have never taken a hoop fitness class, but the team that I was on today for the 5k was organized through Happy Hoops. If you are a local Nashvillian and are interested in taking a hoop fitness class, I’d start there.

This weekend was so incredible! (And thank goodness, because tomorrow morning is my arm surgery... ugh...)

Monday, November 12, 2012

Another Surgery? Of course.

“This rarely happens to any patient, Emily. We only see about 1 case of this every 2 years.”

Shaking my head, thinking: Of course it is. Of course you do.

“We have to do surgery again. The CT scan shows that the pain in your hand has been caused by your hardware (plate and 6 screws) in your arm. The ends of the screws stick up above the bone by about 1mm. This is very common and occurs in almost every patient. But, in your arm, 1mm has made a big difference. The tendons in your arm are being irritated by the screws and has caused you a significant amount of pain and a cyst to form in the top of your hand.”

Shaking my head, thinking: Of course you do. Of course it is. Of course it has.

“So we are going to go back in to take it all out. The screws and the plate. Your bone has completely healed and will be fine without it. The good news is that we will go in through the same scar on the underside of your arm. But we also have to take out the cyst, so we will have to go in through the top of your hand as well.”

Shaking my head, thinking: Of course you are going to. Of course there will be a new, visible scar.

“Your situation here is so rare. I have never had a patient who has broken a bone in their sleep until you. And now this.”

Shaking my head, thinking: Of course. Because if it is rare and unusual, it is happening to me.

I got a pep talk and a hug (two actually) from my awesome nurse, marked my calendar for Monday, and honestly just tried to distract myself from thinking about it. Perspective tells me that this isn’t that big of a deal. That I’m a trooper and will just pick myself back up and keep on moving after this. That I’m lucky they know what is bothering me and can fix it. That I have a million things going great in my life right now and that this is just a minor hiccup. But I just want all of this to be over. I’m tired of appointments and rehab and pain. And my poor mother – my care taker who probably laughed when I just called myself a trooper – nearly cried when I called her to see if she had plans for 5:30 on Monday morning. And all of this is because a black snake was trying to get on my dream raft.

It seems silly - even to me sometimes. It doesn’t make sense that one dream could cause all of this. But then again, last week I forgot to take my medicine one night before I went to bed. I dreamt that I had cut my own hair. I vividly remember exactly what it looked like. I went with a new style: long on the left side, buzzed on the right - split perfectly down the middle. It was so super classy. When my alarm went off I rolled over to look at my clock and saw a pair of scissors laying on my night stand (which had been in my bathroom drawer when I had gone to sleep the night before). My heart dropped and I ran to the mirror hoping and praying that I had not actually given myself a sideways mullet.

Hallelujah, I still had hair.

That was a close one though. Apparently my dexterity isn’t good enough to control scissors in my sleep. My medicine now sits right beside my alarm clock so that I won’t ever miss it again.

Anyways, my typical combination of denial, avoidance, and pure optimism tells me to just forget about the surgery until Monday. There is nothing that I can do about it. And just like how random bad things happen to me, random good things happen to me just as often. And I have too many things to celebrate, like:

On Saturday I am going sky diving again with some of my best friends. (We were supposed to go last weekend but it was too windy. Story of my life.)

On Sunday I am hula hooping a 5k. And I have a bruise on my hip to prove that I have been practicing!

I got new glasses for the first time. I have had the same pair for 10 years and the lens was chronically falling out. It was time to move on.

I recently celebrated three years as a condo-owner. To mark this glorious event, I swept and dusted.

And I just made tofu for the first time.

Fifty of my closest friends gathered last weekend for our second annual Friendsgiving. We even had a Turkey this year!

I pulled off a convincing Cruella DeVille at my church’s Halloween party.

With my friends: The Guatemalan and The Tap Dancing Sailor.

I am on the third row on the far right. Yes, I realize that I blend in easily with 8th graders and that most are taller than me.

Part of me wants to be down about this whole second surgery thing. But the other part of me knows that life is too great to let something like this bother me too much.  I’ll stick to that side. (It’s also the side with long hair. Not the side with the buzz cut.)

Sunday, November 4, 2012

D.I.Y. Adventure

I have been looking forward to this past Saturday for months. Hang gliding! A perfect adventure for my sister and I to do to celebrate her birthday. Her birthday last year? Sky diving. My birthday? Southern Ground. So of course hang gliding was ranking pretty high on our Top Birthdays list. The weather on Saturday was forecasted to be perfect. In fact, it was the most beautiful November day in Tennessee that I can remember. 80 degrees. Sunny. Not a cloud in the sky. Slight breeze…. Except in the area near Chattanooga where we were going to be hang gliding, a slight breeze translates into high tail winds. Yep, thanks to some major tail winds our hang gliding trip was postponed. I see it as a sign... A sign that we should reschedule for another time.

My sister and I decided that tail winds wouldn’t ruin our day so we created our own adventure. And even though every idea seemed kind of small after our dreams of jumping off of a cliff, we still made the best of it. We drove out to the Cookeville area to kayak the Caney. But they tried to rip us off with an incredibly overpriced kayak tour. We didn’t have a back up plan for our back up plan, so we sat there in the middle of Small Town, America discussing our options. At this point we were set on a water sport, so we called around.

Center Hill Marina. This is Sparkle.
Hi Sparkle, how much does it cost to rent a jet ski?
We aren't renting jet skis right now.
Okay, how about a canoe?
A canoe? $22.
Okay, we’ll take the canoe.

We weren’t actually going to rent a jet ski, I was just interested in the pricing. But Sparkle thought it was quite humorous that I wanted pricing on both a jet ski and a canoe – and settled for the canoe.

There were a few boats out on the lake, but the water was so calm. In fact, we liked when boats would pass us by so that we could catch a little bit of a ride on the wake. It was the perfect day. It’s rare to get a suntan in November!

I enjoyed trying to whack every single bug in sight with my paddle.

When we were feeling really crazy we would paddle really fast through a flock of birds just to watch them scatter across the water. 

The TN landscape was gorgeous as usual.

And to make our trip a little more interesting we made a rule that while in the canoe, you could only speak in an accent or in song. It made conversations about hydroelectricity, upcoming travel plans, and our careers a whole lot more fun than normal. You should try it some time.

After 3.5 hours, we returned to the dock and returned to our normal voices.

Our day definitely did not go as planned, but we made our own fun… matey.

Thursday, November 1, 2012

What Are You?

My latest weekend adventure was chaperoning my church’s middle school retreat. I am a Covenant Group leader for the 8th grade girls, so it was great to go and spend more time with each of them! Weekends like that are the experiences that build incredible relationships. Those middle schoolers all have a very special place in my heart.

I hadn’t been on a middle school retreat since... well… since I was in middle school. It had been a long time since I had taken a cold shower with flip-flops on, sang around a campfire, and played games involving ‘dares’. I had forgotten just how fun and full of life middle schoolers are!

And I also had multiple conversations just like this one:

Are you a mom?
You seem like a mom. Why aren’t you a mom?
Because I’m not married.
You seem like you are married. Why aren’t you married?
Because I want to be single right now and do my own thing.
Oh, so you are in college!!
You aren’t in college and you aren’t married and you aren’t a mom? What ARE you?

I didn’t know what to say. I had a moment like the guy in this Chevy commercial.

I had a million things to say. Plenty of really great answers. My mind was racing in a million directions. I wanted to tell her that we are defined by so much more than the titles of "Wife", "Mother", and "Student". I wanted to tell her that there is no standard age for when you get married. I wanted to explain the importance of finding who you are before finding a husband. I wanted to tell her that the time between College and Husband is not No Man's Land (okay, well technically I guess there are no men), but it is probably going to be some of the best years of her life - just like it is for me. I wanted to tell her about all of the beauty that I see in the marriages around me from some of my dearest friends who were blessed to find their perfect partner early in life, but also the beauty in the strong, independent women who never settle and wait longer to find The One – because there is just as much beauty in the wait, too. I wanted to tell her that her story doesn’t begin with a significant other or with children – that it begins with herself. I wanted to look her in the eyes and challenge her that maybe if we searched for God the way that we are always searching for Mr. Right – in our churches and our universities and our careers and in our relationships – that our lives would be full of more Love than we could imagine and overflowing with all things Right.

What are you?

The question hit me like a ton of bricks a bride’s secondary bouquet. And I stood there with a blank expression on my face, just like Chevy dude, while my mind raced to the tune of Beyonce’s Single Ladies. The inquirer's middle school attention span did not allow for my wandering thoughts and she turned and walked away while I mumbled something vague like “A young professional...”.


Oh, but now I am ready. Next time, sweet girl. Next time you are getting a heart-to-heart.