February 2015 archive

What Hard Work Looks Like

I need to do a quick rant, y’all.

This is my girl Julie from high school. We weren’t besties or anything, but we were always nice to each other as far as girls and high school goes. She complimented my drama skills (and by “drama” I mean theatre, thank you very much), I complimented her incredible ability to wear anything, all lookin’ like an Abercrombie and Fitch model (which was a big deal in the 90’s). What I’m saying is: she was this pretty in high school and she was still nice to me.

Screen shot 2015-02-23 at 8.21.39 PM

 

 

 

 

 

Why am I showing you that she won $500 losing weight with Beachbody? It’s not to sell you something. In fact, it might even deter you from buying anything. It’s because I want you to see what hard work looks like.

In the past few weeks I have seen and heard more people whining about how they can’t stick to a work out routine or they don’t have time to work out. They don’t like their bodies and they “can’t” do anything to change that. They can’t because there’s no time and no money and no willpower or, like Julie, someone told you there’s just nothing you can do about a baby belly after a c-section.

How many success-stories do you need to watch on Youtube before you realize you can be one of them? You ARE one of them on Day 1 right now, if you choose to be.

So you start a work out program and on Day 3 your kid starts throwing up, or you get sick, or your body needs a break…
You start a work out program and you don’t like the “upper body” video part of it or you don’t like the cardio days or the trainer annoys you…
You don’t see the results you were hoping for in the first month of working out…

That doesn’t mean you get to quit. Doing anything in life, even the stuff you enjoy doing, it’s just not going to be the most fun all the time. And all your old habits aren’t going to magically change overnight, nor are your thighs.

Working out ISN’T FUN EVERY DAY!
Eating well ISN’T FUN EVERY DAY!
Raiding kids ISN’T FUN EVERY DAY!
Going to work ISN’T FUN EVERY DAY!

But I’ll bet you find a way to do half of those things every day.

I go to yoga almost every day. I am able to go to yoga because I work to make money for things like taking care of my body AND because my son goes to school every morning.
Your kids don’t go to school and you can’t afford a membership to a yoga studio or gym? Then buy a Beachbody DVD, find a workout video on Youtube, get a DVD from the library, find a healthy magazine article online that spells out a routine for you, hell even cable has workout channels. It takes 30 minutes at home and you don’t even have to put on cute gym clothes. You CAN and you SHOULD care about this one body God gave you before you even consider complaining about how your abs don’t ripple after 20 crunches.

What I’m saying is this: Julie was TOLD by doctors and nurses that her body after baby was just what it was, and there was no changing it. SHE decided to do the work, the HARD work, and she proved them wrong. Sure, she had to miss workouts or her workouts were interrupted by her newborn daughter, but she still showed up. There was no magic pill. There was no “easy” way. And I’m pretty sure if you’re looking at the same pictures I’m looking at, you’re seeing the abs that I want, too.

But I’m working for those abs. Are you?

If you want to change your circumstances, do it. Make a plan. Stick to it. It will be hard a lot of the time, and you won’t like it a lot of the time. You’ll want to quit and you’ll find lots and lots of reasons to give up. But if you don’t change your circumstances, you don’t get to complain anymore.

I’m more than happy to help anyone wanting to get healthier and stop complaining. I can’t make you do it and I can’t hold your hand through it, but I can be a cheerleader on the side lines for every day you take charge of your life.

And now, a cheesy life message.

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End rant.

The Place with the Pepper on Top

59a17a54a5b7e8937b42ce6a4f7c5f26I took Abe to a(nother) doctor appointment today and on the way, I asked if he wanted to do something special for dinner.
“Oooo! Mom! We should go out!”
“Ok, Abe! Where would you like to go?”
“The place with the pepper on top.”
“The pepper? Wait…where is the pepper?”
“On top. And it’s brown.”
“It’s brown with pepper on top.”
“Brown AND dark brown,” he corrected me.
“Ok so there’s a place with pepper on top of something and it’s got brown and dark brown. Have we been there before?”
“Yeah, mom! We ate all the healthy food!”
“Healthy food…”
“And the pepper is on top!”
“Wait, is the pepper a vegetable? On top of the sign?”
“Yeah it’s at the top!”
“What color is the pepper?”
“It’s red. With green behind it.”
“Oh wow. You mean Chili’s?”
“YEAH!”

One time after church we took Abe to Chili’s because I wanted bottomless tortilla chips. I told him that we could all eat the chips but we needed to choose very healthy lunches since there

Big red pepper with green, brown, and dark brown. Healthy food inside.

Big red pepper with green, brown, and dark brown. Healthy food inside.

was no nutritional value to the chips. I felt like a detective today trying to figure out what he was saying to me, but once I got it, everything he was saying made perfect sense. Even the building itself is brown and dark brown. It was INCREDIBLE to me how he described what the place he wanted to eat dinner and the things he remembered about it from the one time we went there two months ago.

We sat down to eat and looked at the menu. He told me he wanted a hamburger with chicken. Again, I played detective while the server waited for me to figure out what my four-year-old wanted. Sometimes Abe likes chicken sandwiches and sometimes he likes hamburgers, but he always calls meat “chicken” no matter what it is. It took a few rounds of questioning and a few pictures using the crayons at our table to pinpoint that he meant a hamburger.

When our food arrived at the table, a mom and her son sat down at the table next to ours. Her son appeared to be about 7. He was either profoundly deaf with other special needs or severely autistic. He waved at me and then hit his mom.
“Oh, no hitting mommy, sweetheart,” she said sweetly. “How old is he?” she asked me, indicating to Abe.
I swallowed my bite of hamburger. “He’s 4,” I smiled. “How old is he?”
“He’s 11. A small 11,” she said.
“Does he have autism?” I asked. I realized after I said it that it was a rather bold question, but I have worked with and known so many with autism that I don’t find it to be a stigma at all.
“He does. He’s completely non-verbal. He also had cancer and has some other special needs. He’s a miracle kid.”
“I saw you signing to him. Can he sign?”
“No, he understands some of it. But I’m usually guessing most of the time.”

I couldn’t help but think about the detective work I do all day long trying to understand what Abe is talking about. Imagine adding to it a non-verbal child. How lucky I am…

This mom and her son continued chatting with us for our entire dinner while I watched her guess what her son needed and wanted. I watched him hit her and stomp his feet, sometimes in anger and sometimes in joy. Abraham waved at him, and sometimes showed him his hamburger.

I handled the guess-work of being a mom really well today. But I don’t always do that. Sometimes I get hella frustrated trying to figure out what my son, who can talk clearly and with a vast vocabulary, needs or wants. Sometimes I’m not the nicest, most accommodating mom. And if we’re all honest, meeting another mom whose son had autism won’t change the kind of mom I am, really. It just gave me pause to love and appreciate these moments of translating, of detective work, even if only for the time I sat at Chili’s with the pepper on top and the brown and the dark brown.

 

I’ve Got a Secret

Dear Women,

I have a secret I’ve learned this past year.
I’m going to tell you the secret now.
It’s kind of changed my life.
You might already know the secret, but indulge me since I just learned it.
Your boyfriend/husband/partner isn’t in charge of making you happy.
Ever.
At all.
Right but he/she DOES make me happy!
Well then that’s just an added bonus my friend.

d1a5a591bed6e2e0ea4778ddaeb38206I listened to one of Pastor Furtick’s podcasts the other day and he announced, “Newsflash! Your joy is your job.” I think that perfectly and succinctly sums up what I’ve been learning. I can rely on everyone around me to make me happy, but OH will I be disappointed. Someone else might be able to make me happy for a little while in that, you know, romantic period. But then after a while I will once again feel disappointed by the person who is supposed to be making me happy.
BECAUSE IT’S NOT THEIR JOB TO MAKE ME HAPPY!
In my recent blog, I told you I heard the phrase, “Like what you like.” It is important, but SO much more important when you are in a relationship. How quickly do you give up the things you like because the other person you’re dating likes something else and so you try to like that thing too? IT’S BECAUSE YOU’RE NOT MAKING YOU HAPPY! You quit doing all the things you like, the other person didn’t, and now you’re trying to figure out why in the world he/she isn’t making you feel happy anymore. IT’S BECAUSE YOU’RE NOT MAKING YOU HAPPY! That’s why it’s SO damn important to know how to make YOU happy before you can build/continue to build a life with someone else.
I happen to be in a relationship with someone who sees this flaw of forgetting to like what I like within me and he reminds me (thank you, Bear). He reminds me by continuing to like what he likes and also sometimes skooching me towards the things he knows I like but am not doing. He knows I’m not here to MAKE him happy. And now I know he is not here to MAKE me happy. There is an energy between us with a momentum we both love. We love each other for exactly who we are. We’ve seen each other at our UGLIEST, and even in the moments of flaring rage or paralyzing fear or agonizing pain, we choose to love each other. We make sacrifices for each other. We re-orient our lives to benefit each other. We intentionally spend our time helping each other reach goals or stand back up. It’s not exactly “work”, but it does require attention and INtention.

Rob Bell wrote, “Your marriage is only as healthy as the least healthy person in it.” You cannot be a whole, healthy person if you’re waiting for someone else to do something for you. Here’s a perfect, real-life example: If I ask Bear to take the garbage out, I mean I want him to take it out RIGHT NOW. He says he will, and 3 hours later it still isn’t done. I have two choices: be disappointed that Bear failed to MAKE me happy by taking the garbage out OR decide that my happiness doesn’t hinge on whether or not he takes the garbage out. My happiness, in this instant, hinges on the garbage going out so the cans aren’t overflowing. So I make MYSELF happy and take the garbage out (without some passive aggressive jab or dig at him). I can make the issue what it’s really about: taking out garbage. Because that’s really as deep as it goes.

The next time your happiness hinges on what someone else does or does not do, refocus. What do you like? What can you do to make YOU happy? Rob Bell also said, “It’s those everyday moments when you’re processing life with someone, that’s actually where marriage is.” Replace “marriage” with relationship, union, partnership, friendship and it still rings true. Stop relying on someone else to bring you joy. Take responsibility for yourself. Your joy is YOUR job. So get to work.

Love,
Erin

Fill in the Blank

Bear used to work in construction. He was out on job sites everyday, hanging from the sides of buildings and whatnot. When he recently decided he’d been doing that long enough, he began managing those men hanging from the sides of buildings and whatnot. He gets to wear nice jeans and button-ups to work now. He doesn’t have to travel outside of the city anymore. And he can take lunch breaks now (my favorite).

Since he is no longer doing the actual construction, I felt a little confused/annoyed what he was so tired and so spent and so done at the end of every day. I mean come on! You’re wearing a button-up shirt! You’re life can’t be THAT hard. Vacuum something.

Earlier this week my car needed an oil change and Bear took time out of his day to pick me up and drop me off so I didn’t have to sit in the lobby of the oil change place. On the way to grab my oiled-up car, Bear got a work call and needed to make a few stops. “You want to sit here in the truck for a minute while I run inside this building?” he asked after he pulled into a parking lot.
“Yep! I’ll stay. You won’t be long?”
“Just a few minutes!”
I sat there and after a short time, I got a text message – “Look up and to the left.”
That’s right. There he was. On top of a building checking some of the work that one of his guys had done. It was the middle of his work day and he’d just climbed up to the tippy top of a building and walked around up there. I watched in awe as he did his checking and looking and whatever else he needed to do and, just a few short moments later, hop back into the driver’s seat of his truck. “You were just on top of a building!”
“Yep! Hundred year old building, at that!”
During the whole drive to the oil change place he was fielding phone calls, quoting prices, listening to problems. I mean, it never stopped.

And I realized…oh. His days aren’t spent hanging out and sipping tea. Not that I ever thought he wasn’t out there working hard, but I had no idea. The man never stopped for the hour I was with him. All the knowledge in his head spilling out, the years of experience pulling him in all directions, scaling a freaking hundred year old BUILDING! Man. I am used to talking to him on the phone during the day while he is working and then filling in the blanks in between. But I really never knew just how hard he worked.

fillintheblankHave you ever done that? Have you ever gotten part of the story and then filled in the rest of the blanks with your own story, whether on purpose or out of habit?

When I was little, and still to this day, when I go to tell my mom a surprise, her eyes get HUGE right before I tell her. She clenched her jaw. Her body would flinch, like she was about to get hit. And then I’d announce, “I got all A’s!” or “I got into the show!” or “I taught the dog to shake hands!” Her reaction was always joyful, but I would get so frustrated that she would think the worst right off the bat. Like surprises could NEVER be good. Why couldn’t she just be excited?!

That’s me filling in the blanks again.

Now, as an adult, I see how incredibly life-changing and PAINFUL surprises can be. Surprises can be HORRIBLE. And some of my mom’s surprises were so life-changingly awful that she had a sort of PTSD response anytime the person she loved most said, “Hey, I’ve got a surprise.” Her brain and body automatically braced for the worst. I get it now. Because some of my surprises have been awful, now. Like, the anti-depressants are medically necessary kind of awful. But because I hadn’t experienced that kind of painful surprise yet, I filled in the blanks with my own experiences, which to that point were all pretty much joyful.

The old cliches are pretty much always true. “Don’t judge until you’ve walked a mile in their shoes.” Things aren’t always as they appear, and with the advent of Facebook and other digital means of getting a PEEK into other people’s lives, it’s easy to fill in the blanks with your own story.
They bought that house so they ca afford it, they must be doing well financially.
She goes to yoga, she must be spiritual. 
He goes to church, he must be conservative. 
They’re having another baby, their marriage must be so strong.
Stop filling in your own blanks. Stop comparing yourself to the blanks that are empty. Do you. Fill in YOUR blanks and leave everybody else’s alone.

By the way, Bear. Thanks so much for working so hard for us. 🙂

Take This Rod and Shove It

Today was the day the staples came OUT!

I arrived at Dr. Busy’s office and signed in. “How’d your surgery go?” the guy at the front desk asked me in his unusually deep, radio voice. I catch Radio Voice Guy at nearly every visit and we chat about movies or music or pop culture in general. I’m never sure if he remembers me from previous visits or if he just does this with everyone who comes in, but I love it.
“Seems like it went fine!” I replied to his question.
“Can I get a witness?” he quietly rejoiced. Radio Voice Guy always makes me chuckle.

Bear met me in the waiting area moments before they called my name. Luckily I was meeting with Dr. Busy’s assistant today because, well, Dr. Busy was busy. Assistant Guy asked me the basics (“How are you feeling?” “Any major pain?” “Any new pain?”) and then checked to see if my jeans would roll up high enough for him to gain access to the staples above my knee. I’ll be honest here…I was so excited to get them out that I didn’t even ask for the paper shorts. I just pulled my jeans down. Assistant Guy was nice enough to act natural.

I turned my head while he used what I believe was a pair of needle-nosed pliers to pluck the staples out. There were about 8 of them and it definitely hurt way more this time than when I had staples removed after my broken leg surgery. I have no idea why this was the case…maybe because Dr. Busy put them in at funny angles to be sure they hurt when they came out because he read my blog or something. I did bleed just a little bit before Assistant Guy used the steri-strips to cover the staple holes up. “We do need to grab one x-ray today, just for a baseline measure of where you are two weeks after surgery.”

Butterflies. Immediate, large, spiny butterflies entered my stomach. I was so scared that I’d made no progress at all, I almost didn’t even want to know. There has been so much disappointment in the last year, so many let downs, so many surprise horribly shitty things that I’m just completely averse to learning anything other facts about my life as I know. I’d rather live in the clouds while the world falls apart beneath me.

He asked me to sit in the chair outside my exam room so I would hear my name called when the x-ray technician came out into the hall. I sat next to a woman, probably in her 40s, with a walker. She’d had some kind of knee surgery and another woman, I’m assuming a friend or sister, stood across the hall from her indignantly pointing at a picture of a knee replacement. “See? If you have: joint pain, trouble walking, pain going up stairs, difficult standing for long periods of time…” she continued pointing and talking while the woman with the walker next to me interrupted her.
“No, no, no Veronica. That ain’t me. That ain’t me. No. No. Sit down. That ain’t me…”
“But you have all that. I’m not saying you need it…”
“No. No. I’m saying Dr. Bordle didn’t connect it all back up the right way.”
“It’s your bone, though, that might be rubbing on the other bone.”
“No. Nope. It’s because of those tissues. He didn’t connect the tissues back together. He did but he did it wrong.”
While I sat there imagining how doctors connect tissues, and what tissues look like (like tissue?), a young dude called my name. “Salem?”
“Yep!”
I walked into the windowless x-ray room while he set up. “No chance you’re pregnant, right?”
“Nope.”
“And born in 1981?”
“Yes.”
“That’s a very good year,” he smiled at me in a way that made me even more uncomfortable that this room was windowless.
“Oh, yes! Yes, I think so.”
“I was born in that year, too.”
“Oh! Oh, great.”
Can you just do the fucking x-rays, Fabio?
Several minutes later I was dismissed from the windowless room and I met Bear back in my exam room. Assistant Guy joined us a few moments later.
“Ok, let me pull those up here on the screen for you.”
He pulled up x-rays that appeared to show absolutely no growth whatsoever. My heart raced as I searched for the screw in my knee. He kept switching pictures around and I couldn’t keep up. Until.
Yes. There.

Screw.

Those are old x-rays.

Breathe.

He pulled up another set and was trying to create a side-by-side comparison for me. I just wanted to see the fracture. I just wanted to see it. PULL UP THE X-RAY!!!

Finally. There it was. No screw. Femur fracture. Bone growth. And guess what?

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Zoom in and notice the horizontal HOLE just above my knee. Bye bye, screw.

 

The bone fused on the left side. Fused. Bone fusion. The bone in my lower femur has begun to fuse with the bone in my upper femur. Fusion. Growth. BONES! GO BONES!!! I almost started to cry and I tried high-fiving everyone and everything but I don’t think I ever did, except for Bear. We stood staring at it while the Assistant Guy mentioned calcium and whatever else he mentioned while I was staring at my FUSING BONE! “Aaaand then we’ll see you in a month,” he said as he walked out.

Bear and I skipped down the stairs to the car with a lot more high-fiving and some extra jumping, just because we could. It’s not complete fusion. I’m not out of the woods. But it’s a START. And while I’d prefer a notice that I’ve won the lottery or never broke my leg to begin with…I’ll take it. (But I do want to remind everyone that Dr. Busy WOULD HAVE REMOVED THE ENTIRE ROD if I hadn’t mentioned the idea of taking the screw out. But let’s not hold grudges, eh?)

Like What You Like

like2_sOne of my favorite things about yoga is that you can literally do ANYTHING and still say you did yoga. You can sit in child’s pose for an hour and still say you did it. Your yogi might call downward facing dog into warrior one, but you decide to stay in downward facing dog and just cycle your knees for a while. The point is that yoga is about listening to your body and doing what you feel like doing…as long as you do that, you’re doing it right.

The other morning in yoga, our teacher reminded us to do what felt good in each position. “Do what you like,” she said. And then she added, “And like what you like.”

I immediately started thinking about all the times I didn’t do what I liked because I felt like someone else might not like it, maybe what I like is selfish, or what I like isn’t good for me. I make a lot of excuses for not doing what I like to do. But I think here in this past year that is starting to change.

Here’s one: I love to get my hair done. I love getting it cut, colored, conditioned, blown out, anything. Hair has always been my favorite way to “decorate” my body. My hair is like a barometer for how my life is going. If it’s coifed and clean and recently trimmed, I’m paying attention to myself keeping myself on the list. If it’s dull and in a pony tail, I’m probably not taking care of me in any area of life. But for whatever reason, I’m embarrassed to admit that paying attention to my hair is something I LIKE to do.
I also like Chex Mix cereal, going to Walmart or Target (whichever is closer), and using coupons to go out to lunch. I like snugging my dogs ON the bed and I like going to Starbucks to buy a cup of coffee even though I have a coffee pot at home. I like using re-usable grocery bags and I like writing my blog. I like going to yoga every morning. I like organizing and re-organizing everything I own. I like writing in a journal next to a lit candle and I like texting my friends all day long even though it would be easier to just call them. I like really expensive sushi.

What do you like? And do you let yourself like what you like? Obviously these things can’t be hurting your or anyone else in order for them to be appropriate for this little “Like What You Like” catchphrase. But I challenge you to start regularly asking yourself, “What would I like right now? What would I like to eat, to do, to read, to see?” Moms (and dads!) tend to FORGET what they like in favor of whatever everyone else likes. It doesn’t mean you’ll ALWAYS get what you like, but it gets you in the habit of at least paying attention to what you like!

 

Spinning Plates and Breathing

Today, I needed to remind myself to breathe.

I share stories about my life or things I’m learning or feelings I’m having in case other people are experiencing anything similar because, for me at least, I feel better when I know I’m not the only one.

So today I wanted to tell you that it has come to my attention Mercury is in retrograde (whatever the fuck that means) and I am still recovering from a divorce and a broken femur and all the other regular day-to-day life-sized giants we all have to slay and sometimes that’s just all too much. Sometimes I seriously just can’t.

Even.

spinning-plates-800pxI had to physically stop myself for a moment to just breathe. Just to remember that I can breathe. I couldn’t go a whole lot farther than that. Occasionally all the plates I’ve got in the air…well, one gets knocked around and I drop all of ’em. I have to sit down and I not LET myself freak out. Today when I did this, I realized I’d already dropped the plates so there was no reason to continue stressing. I don’t have to focus on keeping them up there so now, what do I focus on?

I reset.

I took a shower I didn’t need to take. I breathed. And once I dressed myself and returned to the scene of all my plates on the ground, I picked them up one by one. With each one, I reminded myself of what I have.

I have health; a broken femur that is healing and overall health in every other area of health.
I have a son. A glorious, brilliant, healthy, smart, hilarious, gorgeous, strong son.
I have a loving relationship with a man who takes care of me and has my back.
I have a roof, food, a car, a job.

Once I got through those “I haves” I realized…that’s it. That is all I need. I decided to leave some other ones on the floor:

I have debt.
I have an uncertain future.
I have a FREAKING broken femur and some staples in my leg and I’m tired of limping.
I have old clothes and I want new ones.
I have crippling anxiety some days.
I have pimples.

I just left those plates there. I decided I didn’t need to pick those back up. Because, occasionally when I really take inventory, there aren’t THAT many plates that need spinning. I pick extra ones up along the way out of habit but they just don’t serve me. I found today that when I picked up ONLY the plates that really represented what I had, there were only a few I actually needed. Acknowledging, spinning, all these other things that “I have” is a huge waste of energy.

Go ahead. Drop all the plates. Just let them all fall. Drink some tea or take a bath or go for a walk to reset your brain. Then, return and pick up only the plates you really need to keep spinning. If it doesn’t help you, move you forward, create joy and peace, leave it on the floor.

 

Horrible Itching and a Lesson in Patience

We made it home and on the way we had a VERY involved and intelligent conversation. About what I have no idea…I just remember thinking Wow. We are REALLY talking here. 

Bear walked me inside as my legs sort of decided which ever direction they felt like going in. My mom was eagerly awaiting us, ready to cook or clean or make the bed (with or without me in it). Without much pomp or circumstance, though, Bear and I walked straight to the bedroom and both landed face down. We were exhausted, but more than that we were relieved.

After a short nap, I woke up. Itching. HORRIBLE itching. I couldn’t even itch the different itchy parts of my body fast enough. “What is happening?!” I said.
Bear woke up just enough to say, “Narcotics.”
“Oooooh yeah.” The last time I was in the hospital they gave me narcotics and I scratched for nearly 5 days. But I couldn’t survive the pain without the narcotics when my femur and ribs were broken. This time I knew I didn’t need them so I opted for ibuprofen and an itch-free life instead.
I stood up to use the restroom and touched the inside of my knee on my way. I stopped. I touched it again. I rubbed it. I pressed on it.

The screw was gone.

And touching that part of my body for the first time in almost a year didn’t mean instant, hot, stinging pain. The screw was no longer there to poke into my tendons, my muscles, my skin. “Look!” Bear rolled over and my mom came running in as I showed them both how I pushed on the inside of my knee and lifted it at an angle I couldn’t just 6 hours before. It was the greatest feeling in the world.

Noodles. I want noodles. And beef jerky and a whole wheat bagel with cream cheese.

Clearly the drugs hadn’t really worn off yet.

Since then, though, the drugs have worn off. The pain peaked a few days after surgery and has diminished a little bit every day since. My mobility went from feeling like I was back at square one to walking nearly perfectly and taking some slow, intentional yoga classes a week later.

I suuuuure hope this doesn't gross you out...

I suuuuure hope this doesn’t gross you out…

My incision is closed with staples that will come out next week, at which point I can focus on the fusing of my femur bones. We won’t know until April whether or not this surgery was “successful”, but as of today I feel it was successful already. Stacking one knee on top of the other while I sleep, double pigeon pose in yoga, simple rubbing the inside of my knee with my hand are all enough to make me INFINITELY happy I had the surgery.

If anything, it’s all a lesson in patience and trust. Everything is happening at a pace I can’t control, with people I can’t always choose. There is no way for me to decide how quickly my healing happens, or who my insurance company decides is the doctor/surgeon I’ll be seeing. So my only choice is my reaction. I choose to remain full of faith, honest in my angry moments, and constantly moving forward. Next stop…FUSED FEMUR!!!

A Little Old Surgical Procedure

Call time for surgery was at 4:30am. That’s right. 4:30am.

So Bear set his alarm for 3:30 so that he could have some coffee and I set mine for 4:00 so I didn’t have to watch him drink it. We bundled up because the weather decided to be 35 degrees last Tuesday morning, and drove to the hospital. The hospital where all of the lights were on.

All of them.

I checked in at the surgery desk and waited through an agonizing local news broadcast until they called my name 30 minutes later. It’s like our news anchors just started delivering the news yesterday but have been in improv comedy classes for years (without success). I raised my hand and Bear grabbed my purse as we walked back to my pre-op bay. A quick change into a gorgeous green, cotton gown (open in the back) and a very small IV in my arm and we were ready.

To take a nap.

At least I got these socks. I love these socks.

At least I got these socks. I love these socks.

We sat in that bay for another hour, periodically falling asleep and waking up only long enough to answer, “It’s the left leg.”

Finally, Dr. Busy showed up. I kid you not, he still had sleep in his eyes. His shirt wasn’t quite tucked in all the way and I could see his belly. He didn’t look like a surgeon at all. In fact, he looked slightly homeless.
“Ready?” he asked without looking at me.
“I’m ready. I’m excited…,” I answered, wondering if he was talking to me.
“I’m just going to circle the surgical area…” he wrote on me with a sharpie. “All set,” he said.

The anesthesiologist nurse came over to insert something in my IV before I was wheeled off to surgery. “Is this the stuff that makes me funny?” I asked.
“Yep. This will do it!” he responded. The anesthesiologist nurse was a mild-mannered black IMG_0426guy named Sebastian who had a really soft smile. Dr. Busy’s nurse also stood at my side as the happy meds went into my vein. She asked me what happened to my leg and I tried to tell her without my tongue getting in the way, or my lips flapping off of my face. I think I told her the truth, but I really can’t remember.
They began to wheel me off. Bear gave me one last kiss and reminded me, “You scream and I’ll find the right door…”
“Erin? I’m not going to give you the gas. I’m just going to inject some sleepy medicine into your IV for now to keep you from getting nauseated,” Sebastian explained as Bear got further and further away.
“Yes,” I responded. I waited and felt a hot burning liquid in my arm. “That burns!” I shouted because what if they accidentally just put fire into my arm?
“It’s ok, Erin. That medicine burns a little bit but you will fall asl….”

Aaaaaand that’s a wrap.

I woke up 8 hours or 35 minutes later, I’m not sure which. I kept raising my hand to ask a question, but I never asked it. I also kept thanking everyone. EVERYONE. Raising my hand at people walking by and then thanking them. What was I thanking them for? I have no idea. I’m not even sure most of the people there in the post-op room had ever come in contact with me prior to noticing I had a hand raised.
A lovely woman wheeled me to a new post-op bay while telling me all about a little dance she was helping the girls are her church to throw. Something about shoes or about macaroni. I can’t remember.
Bear quickly made his way back to me. “HI!” he said with a big smile. He immediately handed me my nose ring because he knows how sad I would be if the hole grew back together. Another nurse came to my bedside.
“Ok, Erin, this is a Norco. This is hydrocodone and acetametaphin. You take this pill every 4 hours for pain. These are your bandages and your gauze pads. You need to change the dressing everyday with the betadine solution. You’ll need to take an aspirin every day and I’m going to prescribe you some Colace because many people become constipated after the anesthesia or narcotics…”
At this point I was just one big smile pretending to have ANY idea what she was saying. At some point someone wheeled me outside where Bear was waiting with the car, though I had no recollection of Bear leaving to get the car or where this new nurse who was pushing me in a wheelchair came from. And that begs the question, when did I get into a wheelchair?!

So far…so good…