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