Saturday, October 27, 2012

It is what it is

I hate the way you look at me and the way you stare
I hate it when you look sexy in your pea coat and stupid neutral clothes
I hate it when you shut down and when you're not around
I hate it when I don't sleep unless you are there
I hate it when you are always right and when it makes me not good enough
I hate when you cut yourself short
I hate it when you talk about your friends as if you were dating and when you're quiet
I hate the fact you assume my likes and dislikes
I hate it when you call me the worst and mean it
I hate when you make me laugh even more when you make me cry
I hate how you pick on me and tell me to relax
Mostly I hate the way I don't hate you not even a little bit, not even at all

Saturday, October 20, 2012

I miss...

the way things used to be.  This past 2 weeks have been a challenge.  I thought I had become this vessel of strength that could take on anything well after being broken into, having to go back on a muscle relaxer/pain med, and trying to be perfect so I could be that ray of sunshine I was quickly reminded I am human, I have limits, I can be an emotional girl.

I didn't think that losing my grandmother's jewelry would send me down the path of emotional rollercoaster like when she passed away, but it did.  This past few weeks I've gone through the numb/unhappy/why me stage and now I am hypersensitive and just want to be perfect stage.  Which only makes matters worse, increases my anxiety, and sends those around me into shut down mood when I take a joke or a smirk personal and cry.  I feel bad for those around me because I went from being a girl that needed anyone but always kept them at a distance because they just always disappointed her to being the girl that needs the people around her 5-6 days a week to function and feel safe.

I miss:
being highly independent, the world can't hurt me attitude.
having my heart race when you'd hold my hand.
the warmth from my (bear) hug of the day exchanged among friends at work
being good at school.
not being in significant amounts of pain.
the excitement in your eyes when you'd look at me.
ridiculous comments throughout hour long conversations, hearing you become tongue tied while explaining something
dancing around, acting goofy.
your humming.
listening to friends dink around with their keyboard and guitars.
feeling safe in my house, having it be warm and inviting so everyone would enjoy spending time there.
feeling nervous and taking my time to get ready when we'd all hang out because I liked you (hello when harry met sally? haha )
sharing a common space with someone while studying, playing video games, watching tv, just hanging out...your presence.
the way we were.
actually seeing/spending time with friends.

Monday, October 8, 2012

A little shocked

It never fails, when you need people they call you out of the blue or finally return your call.  Friday not only was I robbed but the one person who always makes me feel better called, but didn't actually speak to them until Sunday evening.

It's funny how that works out, they always know when something isn't quite right so they call to check up on you.  I had a good conversation with him, caught up on all his life happenings, which were a bit shocking.

We exchanged life updates, he asked me all about my new job (couldn't be more impressed/happy for me) and my boyfriend.  (side note: I didn't date in the past, I'm a little bit picky and just don't like a lot of people... so it's kind of a big deal among my friends and family because they want nothing but the best for me and don't believe i should settle) anyway... My friend shocked me this evening by not only giving approval of my dating choice ...but he said he realized/thought his ex was the one.

Yep, that awkward moment when your first love approves of your dating choice and tells you they think they found the one.  Not even upset or sad, just a little shocked because I didn't realize how serious his relationship had gotten.

Is this what growing up is like?  Being happy and hopeful for the ones you love despite past emotions, if so I think I got this part covered...

Thank you

Mom, Dad, if you are reading my blog -  Thank you.  I know I have had some hiccups in life decisions and you hate my panic, tearful phone calls.  I'm very thankful for the things you've helped me accomplish and provided; I'm thankful for the things you didn't give me and made me work for all on my own.  I realize that all 3 of us kids are giving you a run for your money right now so thanks for caring, pushing us, and being there for us in your own distinct (and different) ways.

Your Daughter

My brother Jonathan, Dad, and I on Christmas (it was a mild winter in Iowa last year)
Mom and big brother Adam

Sunday, October 7, 2012

Some things you can never get back

This weekend started off very rough.  Friday morning my house was broken into and precious jewelry was stolen.  Both my roommate and I had gotten things stolen but I especially lost my marbles because most of items that were stolen were from family members for special occasions.  The worst thing that was stolen was my custom made ring my grandpa gave me from my grandma's diamond and ruby earring she wore almost every day.  I will never be able to replace that ring, the memories, and the sense of comfort knowing that a piece of her was with me.

I'm a little bit of a jumpy person - easily scared if you will.  Now, I am definitely jumpy.  I can't help but to think the robber was in my house the same time I was due to items being out of place both times I had returned that day and that all they took was jewelry so what was keeping them for returning for our other valuables.  Not to mention the feeling of violation, they were in my room, sat on my bed, picked through my things.  I feel devastated.  I believe I've only felt this helpless 2 other times in my life:

  1. when my grandma actually passed away
  2. when I found out I had a rare syndrome (TOS) and the doctor wasn't sure how to treat it
I'm sure there are others but these are the top two that distinctly stand out.  My grandpa told me that no one can take away the memory or presence of my grandma and she never left my side but I just can't feel her anymore.  It's like she just passed away and I"m reliving every memory of it.  He's worried I'll become consumed by grief like I did in high school.  I'll lose sight of the big picture, forget to take care of myself and strive for perfection- tunnel vision, no mistakes, educational success, no sleep, and go into hermit mode.  I hate to admit it but, he has every right to worry about me this has been a hectic and life altering couple of months.

- surgery, robbery, school, new job, boyfriend, new roommate, medical bill stress, body image struggles (post surgery scars/not being able to do as much)

It's a lot, I work through it every day.  As for now, my house makes creepy sounds.  I don't like to be alone especially at night, everything will work itself out if I keep trying little by little. 

I will find peace again, hopefully it doesn't take another 6-7 years, I hope another part of me doesn't die like it did in high school.  I'm just accepting that some things you can never get back but that doesn't mean the memories are gone forever...

Friday, September 28, 2012


That awkward moment you react to a situation in a way you weren't expecting.  Man, this has happened to me all week.  Fact: sometimes all you need to do is cry and it'll make you feel better...I can tell I am stressed given the fact I've cried oh pretty much every day this week.  Yep, no shame.  I cried, I felt better; end of story.

it's funny though when you react to a situation you weren't expecting at all.  For example, tonight I was told that someone close to me was planning on moving when their lease was up, I started to cry.  There wasn't an exact reason, I just couldn't help the tears from building up (that's been happening a lot lately!  failed attempts at a great date night, watching a movie that reminds me of my grandma, or when medical departments try to screw you over...)

Normally, in the above situation I would be so excited for them; I would say I think that is wonderful, you need to get out of your comfort zone, go experience a different city that you've always wanted to live in, be closer to one of your best friends whom you love, Denver will always be here - go be free!  But what did I do...tears, I couldn't help it.  I felt sad.  Really sad.  That's when I realized, maybe I care for this person a little more than I expected; I mean why else would I be so upset about the given situation?

It is very possible that it ignited by old bad habits of not being good enough, smart enough, available enough, similar enough, or make someone happy enough to find the silver lining.  All I know is this:  It's that awkward moment when emotions react faster than your brain and when you realize what's the point...  

If you could, would you choose the same path?

These questions has been swirling inside my brain for the past few weeks.  The question of, "If I could, would I have the surgery again?" or "Do you wish you had the surgery sooner?" and "Would you advise your surgery for another person?"  My simple answer...yes.

I definitely would choose surgery again, and I do wish I would have had surgery sooner despite the pain, frustration, tears (oh so many tears), and feeling like an broken unanswered science project; I feel better- not great but better.  I wouldn't even blink or skip a heart beat, I would do it all over.  Would I listen to my heart more saying have the surgery, your friends and family will understand eventually, definitely.  I spent so much time going back and forth, thinking about the pros and cons, asking myself did I do everything in my power to be better, and how much longer can you hide/overcome the pain.  I remember thinking, what would it be like if I died on the operating table or  had to have a chest tube; would the world that I lived in change - maybe?  I was terrified of dying and I was disappointed in myself for agreeing with those who said I had given up, said I was weak.  My heart was heavy, my body hurt, and my mind - my mind was tired; tired of focusing on something that was only getting worse.

My PT told me yesterday, you know it is really hard to decide lets remove a rib from my body, let alone 2 a young age.  I'm glad you got the surgery, I'm happy you don't cry during the entire PT session anymore and I can see you smile.  I couldn't agree more!  When is the right time in your life to say, "Enough is Enough.  I'm done, I've tried everything in my power and I keep  getting worse" - you'll know that moment when you get there.  TOS presents itself in a variety of ways, maybe you were born with it, maybe it was caused by repetitive movements, or from a traumatic injury.  Whatever the case may be- surgery is individual, your disease is individual, its misdiagnosed, misunderstood, and mistreated.

My advice for 1st rib resection surgery for TOS is this:  The decision is yours.  Surgery is long, you'll wake up in extreme pain, and recovery is a slow process.  However, you'll see a change in symptoms despite the pain and discomfort that the surgery caused.  There will be highs and there will be lows- hearing others stories will provide comfort and emotional distress (why are they healing faster than me {childish I know, but it's part of the mental game})  

1st rib resection surgery changed my life forever.  I feel my spark coming back to life and am excited what the future holds.  It's been hard.  I still feel broken and freakish some days and I still cry.  It is all part of the process.  I was told to slow down, had I broken my arm I would have just gotten my cast of and Christine you've  had this your entire life, what made you think recovery was going to be immediate without a lot of hard work?  They were right, I got so excited I forgot - surgery isn't an easy fix, it takes work to heal properly!

There have been a lot of rough very rough days, but this is me, this is my story, my disease, my life and I'm owning it.

Friday, September 14, 2012

A change in direction

Today I quit my job at Office Max and accepted a position as a research assistant in the Cancer Prevention Control Department on campus and became an official Colorado resident.  I'm slightly overwhelmed and nervous!  I hope that I am as great of a person, student, worker that my new bosses think I am.  I do feel very blessed on having the opportunity to work with a wonderful department and  have them help me reach my goals of cancer research and becoming an oncologist.

Even though I've never intended on returning to Iowa, it is still and will forever be my home.  I don't tell people I'm from Denver or even Colorado.  I say I live in Colorado but I am an Iowa farm kid.  It was a very bittersweet moment today getting rid of my Iowa license plates.  Is it a sign I actually need to be an adult and grow up now?  Mom, Dad....HELP!!! There is a part of me that wants to stay the baby of the family forever; feel protected by my family members.

I'm really excited about this change in direction, working for something that will help me further my career not to just pay the bills but I can't help to be skeptical.  What if I find out my dream of working with cancer patients, researching cancer, and being in that arena in general is a bust and I hate it?!

**yes I'm aware this song is about dating, but it has been stuck in my head all day and minus the dating part it could fit this post ;) **

Tuesday, September 11, 2012

Remind me of...

They remind me of my struggle; my struggle for 'normalcy'.  They remind me of path to health, one that gives better quality of life.  They remind me I am special, unique, a fighter.  They remind me of the pain, the tears, and the tingles.  They remind me of the discomfort, self guilt, self pity, and lack of self acceptance. They remind me of my secret, hidden life.  They remind me of the lack of understanding, knowledge, and consistency among the medical field.  They remind me to keep moving forward, but to never forget where I was.  They remind me to take things with a grain of salt - not everything is life or death.  They remind me that I chose freedom to control my body and lifestyle....They remind me that I survived...

They still hurt, get caught on clothes, are red, puffy, and are slightly numb...I am grateful for the daily reminders.  I still don't love them.  They make me very self conscious; some people stare, some people make assumptions, and they give me armpit boob (not too cute haha) but it's okay.  It is all part of the process.  I'm sure in a few months I will say, "they remind me that I am beautiful and resilient" but for now... I'm still adjusting.

So, what are "they"?
          -My Scars
On difficult days, I read this and it helps.
From every wound there is a scar, and every scar tells a story.  A story that says, "I have survived." - Mhar

The dreaded armpit flab/side boob haha

Monday, August 27, 2012

Recovery on a down slope

Recovering from surgery has its ups and downs.  I mentioned earlier that I've been in a slump or as my mom would like to say, "Pip squeak, you are depressed. Baby girl, this isn't like you."  I don't disagree but I don't want to admit that I'm depressed at the same time.

I've been depressed largely due to my activity level and how sluggish my right side is healing.  Sure, I was "active" before my surgery, I tried to keep myself busy.  I would attempt working out so it would make sense why chilling extra hard all summer would be difficult.  The not lifting more than 5 pounds in theory doesn't seem that hard but in practice might as well be climbing Everest or solving the nations economic crisis.  I hate asking people for help because I think I am putting them out and it is embarrassing.  I'm 23 not  83!! It is the simple things too, taking out the trash, cleaning my home, sleeping on my stomach, getting off the floor without using your upper body.  It is extremely difficult to adjust automatically to a new life or a new way to do things while you are recovering.  You have to consciously think of every moment, every activity, and every breath for that matter.  Everything you do becomes an Olympic endurance event; it is planned, calculated, practiced, rethought, performed, analyzed, and readjusted. 

I know healing takes time and is a very complex process, I get that.  What I don't understand is how to tell myself: things will be okay, your body heals at different rates, don't give up.  It is so much easier to tell that to a client than be the client.  Furthermore, I tried to convince myself before the surgery that it really wasn't that big of a deal, routine surgery - it's not.  It is a very invasive, intense surgery that required me to spend 7 full days in the hospital.  I've had 3 chest x-rays, a CT scan, EKG, and lots of blood tests all because my lungs weren't quite up to par and they were afraid I had collapsed them or had a blood clot.     

The main source of my depression, no bull shit, straight up - I don't recognize the girl in the mirror anymore, I simply have a loss of self identity.  The thing about my TOS is I've had it my entire life and didn't realize that kids my age didn't experience the things that I did every day.  My entire life, I have been in pain.  I didn't talk about it, I didn't WANT to talk about it.  I'm still young, still trying to figure out the world, who I am, and how I fit into the world.  Several people have told me that it is no different than cancer survivors or other people who have had massive surgery but I disagree.  I disagree based on the fact I've had this my entire life, I fully accept the fact that I may not have known I had TOS my entire life but I have felt like a mystery science project - different.  Other people may not identify me as the girl with medical issues but before being a dancer, student, science nerd, I was a kid in pain.

Unlike other diseases or disorders you remember a time before the diagnosis - I don't.  I don't know or remember a time before the pain, before accepting the role of a science project.  I don't know how to be a normal functioning person!  I don't know what to say when people ask me about it.  Do I say, I had TOS or make a joke out of it saying my parents loved me so much they gave me extra bones and got them removed because they gave me a run for my money.  Or is it one of those cases where you will always have reminders of your journey but you reached the destination and it is over leaving you to the next adventure?

I'm lost, have been lost for awhile now.  I can't say that I am out of my slump as I write this rant but I will say this.  Recent comments from people with TOS discovering my blog has helped rise me up a bit, I never thought other people with TOS would find my journey helpful or comforting knowing they weren't alone....It made me realize that I am not completely alone which at the end of the day is nice.


My escape

Throughout my blogging experience I've noticed that when things get really busy or when I'm in a slump talking about my feelings in the moment is the last thing I want to do.  Granted, this fact is true about hmm 85% of my life...healthy I know!  With that being said I am not surprised that the next few rants and raves will be on the more somber side. 

I knew I would become depressed during my recovery process; in my opinion, I consider it very normal and would be concerned had it not happened.  Although I expected the slump, I didn't expect that everything would come to a head all at the same time.  From family bummers, relationship doubts, loss of identity, general struggles, and the big financial worry big restriction of activity financial worries  = I needed an escape.

I escaped to Wyoming and it may have been the best thing I have ever done.  Did I run away?  You bet your ass I did.  I went home with my best friend to visit his family in the small town of Green River.  It was just what I needed; the 2 friends I went with never judge, understand where I am coming from yet challenge me to better myself, aaannd give me that swift kick in the butt to move on from things.  They are part of my family whether they like it or not. 

I think the best thing about my escape was the fact the quiet surroundings reminded me of home, something that I desperately needed in this recovery slump.  I needed to be around people that I didn't need to wear a mask around.  (My boyfriend would be annoyed that I'm quoting Batman but...) Honestly, there are people that I feel I need to protect from my life or my emotions so I wear a happy go lucky mask and pretend as if I'm not in pain or can't get out of my own anxiety state.  I'm sure I put on a happy face for my benefit as well, the old wife's tale, "if you smile or think positive, things will be better and good" I don't want people  my parents feeling responsible for my TOS, granted it is their genetics but it's not their fault and I don't want to send my friends into a depressed state because they don't know how to handle or help with my recovery process. 

In Wyoming, it was the typical going home trip.  There were massive amounts of love, warmth, a few decent amount of tears, alcohol consumption...times 5, a fully stocked fridge, deck chilling, hot tubing, and dancing. 

I was reminded that, I needed to worry about myself and focus less on how my friends and family were coping with my recovery.  I focused on how I felt about my recovery, reasons why I was in my slump, and reflected on how my life was starting over in a way and what I wanted to do with it. 

Thursday, August 16, 2012

My Deepest Fear

Fact: I haven't felt like myself in a very long time.  Maybe it is due to the slump of recovery or being in a state of limbo or trying to be everything for everyone or all of life stresses hitting me at the same time.  Whatever it is my anxiety about my life was somehow decreased when my friend sent me this quote.

What do I fear?
I fear stagnation and lack of progress. I fear never reaching my potential and being average.
I fear being forgotten...The past...Yesterdays' news.  I fear giving up and being passed by, going softly into that good night.  I fear letting those that I love down, letting myself down
I fear settling, giving in to the "that's just the way it is: mindset.  I fear dying without leaving my mark.  I fear not feeling these fears anymore and just floating along. 
These fears feed me, they nourish my drive.
I love my fear. 

I love this quote because these are the fears that no one talks about.  Sure, you think about them when you are falling asleep but do you tell them to someone or better yet - do you admit to yourself?  Chances are you don't.  I didn't tell others (until now) these are my deepest fears.  I have always feared not being enough, doing enough, and dying without making a difference to those around me. 

Fear is scary, can be silly, but fear drives you to a place you've never been before, challenges you, and forces to look at yourself in a different light.  I hope I don't lose my sense of drive and fear because I'm not sure what kind of person I'd be without it...

Wednesday, August 8, 2012

Extra help to get me through the day

I've had a couple good days with a few not so great days in my recovery process lately when that happens I never quite know how to react.  Be upset? Frustrated? Accepting?  I mean I knew this would happen but I guess I am still struggling with the reality of how major of a procedure I had and how it will significantly change my life. 

On days like this Most days, I look at quotes trying to find encouragement and I keep coming back to a few.  The most frequent is on a magnet my grandmother gave me a few weeks before she passed away.  I can't help to think that she meant every word on that magnet knowing that my road in life would be the less traveled, the one under construction, and that I in my own self destruction, tunnel vision manner would need the extra kick in the butt on trying days. 

Although it is just a silly magnet, it helps get me through the cloudy days.

This is my wish for you: comfort on difficult days, smiles when sadness intrudes,
rainbows to follow the clouds, laughter to kiss your lips, sunsets to
warm your heart, hugs when spirits sad, beauty for your eyes to see, friendships
to brighten your being, faith so that you can believe, confidence for
when you doubt, courage to know yourself, patience to accept the truth,
love to complete your life. 

- anonymous

Tuesday, August 7, 2012

Just Plain Jane Christine?

normal:- adj

usual; regular; common; typical

For most of my life I have always wanted to be normal.  I didn't want to be the only divorced kid in a small community; I didn't want to be the chubby tall girl; I didn't want to be in special education classes (what up title 2 reading and math...cue 'look at me now' music); I didn't want to be seen in any way, shape or form as being different.  Most recently, I didn't want to be the 23 year old medical science project anymore.

Growing up I didn't  understand that being normal was:

  1.  boring
  2.  didn't make those college essays jump off the page
  3.  a pretty vague definition
  4.  was not exactly in my future
  5. overrated

The older I got the more I became to realize even though I looked like others my age - I physically felt different.  I felt caged in unable to live my life - my heart weighed down with pain and sadness despite my upbeat manner.  It secretly influenced my life for years only to later control my day to day scenes.

It has been 5 weeks since I left the hospital after my surgeries, a very long and trying 5 weeks but I got through them.  I got passed collapsed lung scares, fluid filled lung scares, blood clot scares, physical therapy downers, and post op pain, numbness, low energy and less than positive demeanor.  Lets not get things twisted, I still struggle with down days, pain, being tired easily, having trouble breathing, and can't really use my arms to lift anything, but for the first time yesterday I felt normal

Yesterday was the first time I decided to french braid my hair all fancy like.  As far as I can remember, it was the first time ever my hands didn't go numb, tingle, get heavy, turn ghost white, or become cold.  I know it doesn't sound like much, but that dose of normalcy is exactly what I needed to refocus my heart and brain back into believing that being my broken self was okay. 

This past 5 weeks, I think I finally learned that being 'normal' doesn't truly exist given the basic definition.  Being normal is what you do daily to thrive in your environment given your own personal and unique situation.

My surgical scars help remind me that my journey in life is not typical or common but is my normal, my unparalleled experience. 


Sunday, July 22, 2012

I had TOS surgery...rib resection surgery

Almost a month ago, I had bilateral rib resection surgery and a partial scalenectomy for thoracic outlet syndrome.  In real people terms, I had one hell of a surgery twice in one week!  I spent a full week in the hospital, and am looking down a long 6 month recovery road.  Here's a better idea and picture of what they did.  My amazing doctor created space in my chest to stop the compression on my brachial plexus on both sides of my body!
  • Remove the fibrous tissue band from c7 (bottom of my neck) to the middle of my 1st rib
  • Divide and detach anterior scalene muscle from 1st rib ( muscle wider than usual and fan shaped)
  • Detach small part of middle scalene muscle from 1st rib
  • Remove 1st rib (wider than what's normal for my body size)
  • Shorten c7's elongated processes to regular length
  • Reroute or straighten out the  artery, nerve, vein
  • Remove extensive amounts of scar tissue

I'm still not quite sure what to think about the surgery that I had - I do feel little improvements already regardless of the post op pain and I am very thankful for all the support I've received along this path.  This path hasn't been easy for me or my family especially when trying to explain the magnitude of the problem through the telephone and how it affects almost every aspect of my daily life.  I have experienced some really great post surgery days and some pretty awful depressive days - all of which I fell are normal and expected.

In short, I am thankful I had surgery.  I have a great support system, am learning how being inactive is actually harder than I imagined, but mostly I am excited to live a different life.  A life (hopefully) without excessive pain and the ability to do the things I want instead of the things my physical therapist and body allow me to.  Oh, I'm trying to adjust to the force of my body movements being pushed off to the 2nd and 3rd ribs causing added pain and tenderness there!

Here are just some of the beautiful flowers I got in the hospital...the nurses kept saying I had a flower shop for a room and told me I was special that so many people cared for me.  I couldn't agree more!  One CNA even took a picture of one of the flower arrangements  to show her florist for her wedding bouquet! :)

Haha!  Just taking a mid-morning stroll with all my favorite accessories...note the medical fanny/hip pack!  Ridiculous...definitely going to be a summer must have.

The 3 C's of life: choices, chances and changes. You must make a choice to take a chance or your life will never change.

I'm am so relieved I got over my fear of having surgery.  In my hearts of hearts, I know I made the right choice. 

When was the last time you took a chance in hopes to change your life forever?

Thursday, July 12, 2012

Looking back...

This past few months have been beyond busy with work, school, life, and health concerns that I haven't felt like updating my blog.  More than anything, I didn't really feel as if I had anything interesting, inspiring, funny or any rants to share or anything that I was emotionally ready to share.  I got thinking the other day, where I was at this time two years ago and then last summer and how they seem like a lifetime away. 
Cliffs of Moher

Two years ago, I had just gotten back from my semester abroad in Ireland and traveling across Europe.  Lets not forget: experiencing Sin City with my best friend and cramming for the MCAT when I had a new outlook on life that caused me to feel medicine and the health industry weren't for me.  Two years ago, I wasn't happy about house hunting in Fort Collins, living in Colorado, and wasn't sure what I wanted to be when I "grew up."
Last summer, I was splitting my time between Fort Collins and Denver.  I worked 45 hours a week for 2-3 weeks then had 2-3 weeks off that was spent in Denver attending my first semester in graduate school.  I was transitioning from focused yet slightly reckless fun loving undergrad to highly determined grad student trying to match life experience obtained by her 30-50 year old classmates.  I attended my best friends wedding and moved to Denver full time in August.  My free time was consumed with playing the doctor hopping game trying to discover the source of several musculoskeletal and vascular concerns.  Last summer, I was exhausted, strung out, and emotionally broken.

So, where am I now?  Well last summer determined this summer.  A year ago, I found out what was wrong and shared the diagnosis in an October post but never told you what my decision was - surgery or to simply live with it.  The truth is, I didn't know.  I asked friends and immediate family members what they would do, asked them what they felt would be best, tried a thoracic outlet syndrome (TOS) specialized physical therapist, had tearful conversations, and drank many cocktails looking for the answer. 

It has been 12 and 16 days since I've had surgery; this summer, I had major invasive surgery...

Wednesday, June 6, 2012

It reminds me of...

The last week in May is and will always be the week that I am most reminded of my grandparents.  Not only is it Memorial Day but both their birthdays fall within that week.  As I sat on my porch, I realized how many things I love, see, or do in my daily life reminds me of my grandparents.  I was one of the lucky ones, you know the kid that really got to know their grandparents, spent lots of time at their house, basically felt like they were an extra set of parents...lucky me, right?  RIGHT!

For instance, my grams is a large part of me and a lot of the things I do and am constantly reminded of that as I return to the activities we shared when she was alive.  My grandpa?  Ah, my gramps is probably the main seed of the Ricklefs stubbornness and pride that I love to hate but mostly love.

I get an odd sense of comfort when I see something that reminds me of my family.  Here's my list of reminders that I hope I never lose!!

  • wind chimes, she had them in pretty much every doorway in her house.  I would make a point of hitting at least once a day
  • stargazer lilies..of the hot pink variety
  • slight hoarding in my cupboards/closets
  • craft supplies, cooking, & giving people their daily hug
  • the wind...
  • fishing
  • owls
  • marbles
  • antique tractors...

Monday, April 9, 2012

Family is...

Family is what you make of it.  Most people have a conservative view of what a family is: male, female, a few blood relatives.  But I disagree, family presents itself in a variety of ways.  For me, I am amazed at how my different families have developed over the years.  I have my school family - a group of wonderful people all thrown together working toward similar goals that I met in college.  Then there are the work families I have acquired, these are the ones that surprise me the most. 

My past work family, you had the mom who'd do anything in her power to help you or just make you feel special for the day.  My "sisters" celebrated when you celebrated and when you were down tried their best to help you out of your funk.  I never thought about how true the individuals I work with really do become a part of my family, I invest in their life and care about them.  More interestingly, I never realized how much each person somehow relates to a stereotyped personality within a common family unit.

Looking at my current work family, it is very diverse; not everyone gets along, not everyone understands each other, and we don't see each other every day or even every week.  None of that matters though, it really comes down to the interactions and the mode in the environment.  We still have Poppa Bear who looks after everyone, taking the time to get to knew them, cares for them, is hard on them when he needs to be, and gives you space to make mistakes and learn from them.  The sibling, who people are nice to but don't necessarily agree with what they do, says, and generally makes people feel uneasy when their around whether they means well or not.  The fun loving uncle who is always there with a joke, smile, or even a hug; he is always down for a good time but still gets his work done. 

You have a couple older siblings - they are conflicted between what they want to do and what they feel they need to do to help their family.  The few rocks who falls in the middle to younger portion for the bunch, encouraging those around them, putting themselves on the backburner because they believe someone is always in more need than themselves.  You have the 1-2 very quiet people in the family that are hard to relate to but nevertheless you still want the best for them.  A few siblings, don't necessarily know what they want to do with their life or what their path in life will look like but do well in whatever they do, striving to be the best version of themselves.  Finally, you have the smack middle child and the youngest children.  The true middle child is probably the most intelligent out of the bunch, but for whatever reason appears to work against themselves.  They don't believe they deserve good things or they have the ability to achieve the dreams they have.  They simply need someone to push them a little more and to really believe in them.  The babies of the family, everyone wants to look out for them and hope that the given little hiccups in their lives don't push them off track to their true potential.  You as an older sibling also hope that they learn which battles to fight and which to let go and be the bigger person. 

It's funny, how much I really do view the people I work closely with as a family.  I spend a lot of time with them and I enjoy the stability their personalities and interactions provide.  More importantly, I like to be part of people's lives even as a spectator watching as they pass through pivotal points in their lives.  It'll be interesting to see how interactions and personalities change as people come and go but I'm sure no one will be able to fill the shoes of family members past.

Does anyone else ever feel like you form families in the most interesting ways?

Monday, February 20, 2012

Sauna Etiquette

My two guy friends and myself usually go to the gym, do our own respected workouts then go sit in the sauna together.  I understand that there will always be that one person that messes up on the sauna etiquette (in my mind)  You know that guy that's trying to pick a fight with you over useless current events or hitting on you. 

Haha, yep seems about right...

Yesterday evening was not an exception to this idea.  Last night, my buddies and I go into the sauna and sure enough here comes the weirdo, who farmer blew his nose, put his grimy hands on the seat & magazine he was reading...all proceeding to rub his stomach and chest.  What?  Why are you sitting 1. super close to me and 2. awkwardly rubbing yourself.  Excuse me, sir, you are not in here alone!
As I was sitting there trying not to gage, I thought of a few Sauna Etiquette rules that need to be posted on the door as you walk in.

  1. Chatting is okay, yelling is not.
  2. Don't sweat/sneeze/cough on the person next to you
  3. Avoid staring at people's bodies - they notice; don't be a creep!
  4. Just start a conversation if you want- again don't awkwardly stare
  5. If you start to get dizzy or have a hard time breathing- Get OUT
I remember when I was studying abroad in Ireland at the student rec center or should I say room.  The thing was tiny but they had a really great sign as you walked in of the rules.  Basically, it said to wear clothes, don't smell, don't hit on/oogle over other people in the gym, and don't steal anything.  Of course it said this in a very Irish, funny way.  Once again interactions at the gym crack me up!

Wednesday, February 15, 2012

How do people do it!

So far after I made my goals for 2012 I haven't been doing so well on that updating the blog more regularly. Sorry about that!  I've been feeling overwhelmed lately with the new job at Office Max.  I've been working roughly 35 hours a week in the print shop and learning all the new systems they are running off.  I understand that undergraduate and graduate school are different but dang I don't remember how I worked, volunteered, trained for my half, did well in school, and had some type of down time when I was in undergrad.  I have a larger respect for people who work full time and go to school - you guys rock!    .....and do you have any tips?!?!

On another note, I've been sick for the past week or so which has put yet another small hault on my workout schedule.  I went to the gym last night after work, I figured I was feeling better, might as well give it a shot.  I get to the gym and guess what I forgot - a sports bra!  Man, I hate when that happens normally I would just leave; I'm not above admitting that I"ll leave.  Last night I was just so determined to get a workout in; so I tried working out in a normal bra and a fleece half zip - worst experience ever!!

1st of all so uncomfortable and I was dying of heat!  How in the heck to people run/work out in a normal bra and wear long sleeves?!? Note to self: always recheck the gym bag before leaving for work/school!

Tuesday, February 7, 2012

I got a new job!

I recently have been MIA in the world of blogging-imagine that.  Some days I do really well and have so many great things to share but lately I can't seem to come up with anything worth sharing.  So here is what I got today- I got a new job.  I'm really excited about it; it's at Office Max in the Impress area. I'm returning to my days of working at a print shop, to be honest I kinda missed doing that kind of stuff.  What I'm still having a hard time doing...dealing with the customers, different paperwork forms, and all the different transactions possible on the register.  I figure it all takes time but I enjoy having something else to do besides school. 

Tuesday, January 24, 2012

New Year's Resolutions

I know what you are thinking, it's the end of January and this fool is now just starting her resolutions.  Yep!  Here's the thing, I really view Easter as the new year.  It's weird I know but for me Easter has always meant new life, new beginnings, close to my birthday so literally a new year of life for ya!  I also like to take the month of January and really think about some goals or resolutions I'd like to accomplish or work towards in the coming year. After I've thought of some good resolutions, I write them down, post them where I can see them, and then I start around the 1st of February.  Some are kinda silly, some will be a very big challenge but I'm excited about it!  A little challenge here and there is good, makes you a stronger person. 

In this coming year, I'd like to...(in no particular order)

  1. wear my retainer every single night!
  2. learn more about the family business
  3. increase my knowledge on hobbies my family does
  4. move onto bigger and better things or ideas...don't stop dreaming
  5. complete the Certificate of Public Health Sciences with stellar grades
  6. get accepted into the full Master of Public Health program
  7. be okay with the idea that "normal" is different for everyone & truly accept my limitations
  8. find some sort of job, take another course, or volunteer in more diverse areas
  9. tattoo Believe on my left rib cage with my brother while he gets his rib piece
  10. decide between Physician Assistant School and Medical School and just go for it
  11. be more open with people, put myself out there more
  12. update my blog more regularly
Here is my list of things I'd like to accomplish this year, if I hit the mark on all of them great, if I don't no worries.  Always got next year! 

Monday, January 23, 2012

How easy it is to forget...

I'll admit it; I slipped up on the fitness aspect of my life.  I got sucked into the holidays, finals craziness, being sick, and traveling which meant working out was.not.a.priority.  I regret this decision.  Why? I gained a few lbs. I forgot how much work getting back into shape was (not that I was in shape to begin with haha).  Most importantly, I forgot my pain that is associated with exercising and getting into shape.  I forgot that lovely depression stage in the cycle of chronic pain, that you feel wicked depressed but you aren't sure why.  Let me tell you something...I remember now.

This past week has been a struggle, filled with pain, a few tears (hate to admit that one!), sleeping more than is appropriate, slight isolation, and transitions.  I can't change the constant battle I have with my body and while my body is slowly resetting itself to once again handle the stress I put it under to be active and live my life; I will be resetting my way of thinking.  It's gunna be a slow process folks but as a dear friend told me, "You can't keep giving up on yourself and your body when you feel defeated or get owned by something... You have to keep believing in yourself and trying different things."

One day at a time...

Sunday, January 15, 2012

Taking a Bath

I really enjoy taking a shower; showering is super relaxing and a great stress reducer.  No joke, I could end every single day with a shower.  I have been known to shower at 2 or 3 in the morning, all the crappy things about the day wash away & you can be so fresh, so clean, clean before going to bed!

Taking a bath on the other,  When I told this to my mom, she laughed at me and said, "That's funny because you used to love bathes so you could play in the water."  Well Mommadukes, times have changed.

Reasons why it stresses me out:
  1. You are sitting in your own filth! You bathe to get clean not get more dirty.duh.
  2. I'm too tall for standard tubs!
  3. Water gets cold
  4. I get cold
  5. Don't get an ounce of relaxation, only anxiety
  6. Hello instant bacterial growth
  7. Soap scum left on your skin?  Um, I'll pass thanks.

I wish I could enjoy taking a bath like a majority of the population; reading a book, being surrounded by candles, listening to music, I just can't.  Hot tubes, yeah I can get down on that.  I mean you are wearing a bathing suit, fully sunk in water, have chemicals, and super hot water-chances are you'll get too hot instead of cold. 

Does the thought of taking a bath completely freak anyone else out?  

Monday, January 2, 2012

My Best Friend's Wedding

This past weekend my best friend from high school got married in a beautiful evening ceremony; she looked gorgeous and beyond happy.  Of course, me being me never experiences a dull moment when I come home to visit.  For starters, my car was getting a tune up and wasn't finished.  Although we have a lot of other things I could drive they were occupied.  So how did I get to my friends wedding dressed in my wedding dad's diesel work pickup. Haha That thing was no easy task getting in and out in a skirt let me tell you, but it got me to my friend's big day and I'm very thankful it did!!

I had the privilege to help her and her family decorate the reception on Thursday morning and even had lunch with them!  The wedding was an elegant snow flake, emerald green theme.  The center pieces were simplistic, beautiful, and something you would see on Pinterest- simply stunning!  I had such a great time at her wedding; it was great to see old friends and meet Erin's friends from college.  I would definitely relive that night- I love weddings!  I have the most beautiful friends a girl could ask for (on the inside and out) and enjoy spending time with them when I'm home!