Friday, May 26, 2017

I've not always been one to openly admit when something is wrong. I'm the type of thinker who powers through and self motivates even when I am pulling around a thousand pound anchor. I go at full speed with my head down until it is over. Then I collapse and applaude myself for what I accomplished even if it was at the expense of myself or my body. It's a sickness, it really is. I've never been one to break down and say, "I need help" or "I'm struggling." Right now though, I'm struggling. I'm three months post op and released from my neurosurgeon pending I have no new symptoms. I'm still struggling with good and bad days. Some days I walk reasonably straight and can deal with the pain and I'm ok. Then there are days like today when I look like my hips are two inches off center and I walk like the hunchback. Days when I have foot numbness and feel like I can't get home quick enough to be horizontal.
I really felt like a few weeks ago I was making stride in my recovery. My bad days were gettign smaller and I had been a few weeks without numbness on the top of my foot and toe. Then I got rear ended as an innocent stop sign and there was nothing I could do to prevent it. I had no idea what was going on until I'm shoved in a lane of traffic and the driver of the vehicle is asking me if I'm ok. Immediately I didn't feel hurt and refused ambulance, but did have a nurse at my office bring me to the ER. It was there everything started to set in and I started feeling sick. I went through several cat scans to ensure my neck and spine were where they needed to me. I laid in a neck collar in bed while I waited. After an hour in the ER it started to sink in that I could potentially be looking at an additional back surgery and being off work. The thought grew in grew in me until i started having anxiety attacks. I've never had an anxiety problem. I've never had an attack and really thought I couldn't breathe and everything escalated from there. I was scared about an additional surgery and scared because I couldn't breathe because I was in so much pain. I had three separate events like that before I left the ER. I was sent for chest imaging to ensure everything was ok. After we found out that the CT scans just showed whiplash and some other incidental findings, I felt very embarrassed about throwing myself into such a frenzy.  It isn't everyday you have uncontrollable fasciculations and feeling like you have 1000 pounds on top of you. Its a scary feeling.

Since then I have had some pretty wicked muscular difficulties. Shoulders, neck, shoulder blade and back have been so unhappy. I'm been trying to push through telling myself that it is all muscle strain and it will ease with time. Tension headaches are rough. Also since then, I've been having chest pains when I push things too hard. If I get busy at work and have a high load of people. I'll get the familiar burning in my chest and I have to tell myself it is anxiety and talk myself down.

It is very strange to me that that is my current mental state as I have tried to remain fairly positive and just keep trying to push through. Try to get back onto a routine.

This week has been especially thought though. I have had a high patient load and an after work meeting one day with a doctors appt another and the boys have not been letting me sleep. Today marks a bad day.

Friday, March 31, 2017

Late Night Thoughts and Stories. There's always Stories.

I've always thought of myself as someone who thinks toward the future. Always preparing for what is next and how to make the transition to what is next easier, but lately I've spent a considerable amount of time in the past. I think having surgery and being immobile for so long probably has a lot to do with this. Only natural right?

I like blog writing because it presents not only as a journal, but a point in time to reflect on multiple timelines at once. Usually this type of intersection point happens for me after moments of clarity or moments of stress.

I went back to work this week and everyday about 5-6 hours into it I would dive off into oblivion. I've been coming home just to crash. One day I came home and went to sleep at 4pm and only briefly woke up before my 4:45 alarm. Its been a little trying to say the least.

I like being able to blog my current thought and display how my brain functions. It isn't always on a continuous timeline. My inner dialogue likes to skip between my timelines. The current version in my head often gets interrupted with sparks of memories from the childhood version of myself. If I were ever to illustrate it in a book I would draw a library of endless books and staircases. The current version of myself is the librarian who pretty much knows where everything is and is in the drives seat for all the thoughts and memories that get processed through me. She encounters everyone as soon as they are introduced to me and categories the interaction she has with them into a section, book, page, and paragraph. Sometimes these people get put into the archives after they have fled out of my life. Sometimes she puts them in temporary lost and found because she hasn't decided where they go. There are several book gophers who pull out books of memories or boxes of things that need to be remembered. These are the younger versions of myself. Each book gopher has a particular section in this massive library that they are in charge of. My six year old self has the sixth floor filled with children's books about my life. I wanted to be Whitney Houston, but also a carpenter in real life.My tenth floor is filled with imagery of biological sciences. Some of these books started to become more adult like with books about divorce and psychology as my best friend's parents were going through a divorce. The fourteenth through seventeenth floor are painted gray. Each floor has a book on poverty and socioeconomic status.

I spend a lot of my mind thinking about poverty. I'm pretty stuck on the whole inequality system. Its something I can't really get over or get passed. Some people think that this may be a major hang up, but those people who think that obviously have never been there. So much of relationship building between people relies on money and life experience based on money and it isn't something I've spent a lot of time thinking about until lately. People who get a long typically come from shared thoughts on issues, which usually comes from similar family values and shared experiences. It all relates back to money.

I had this summer friend once, Carrie. I would only see her occasionally in the summer as she spent the summer with her dad and the year with her mom a state away in the city. Her sister was great friends with my parents and thought we would be great together as Carrie needed a friend during her stays here. Her and I were from very different backgrounds as she pointed out to me one summer night. Her family lived in a rather large house in the country with four wheelers and nice things. She always had new clothes and freedom to roam wherever she wanted at the age of 12. Contrarily, I did not. We lived in an always under construction trailer with no luxuries. One summer I thought it was so cool to be visiting a new friend and enjoy all the luxuries her family had to offer. The thing that stuck out for me the most was how cold her house was in the summer. I couldn't believe that there were people who used blankets in the summer. Her step mother had made a pallet for us in the living room and had given us ice cream. I remember waking up in the middle of the night thinking how do these people keep it so cold in here as I was shivering. My friend laughed at me when I made a comment about it.

That day we had also gotten undressed to bathe that night and she commented on the bra that I was wearing. I was so proud of that thing because it was one of the first adult bras I'd ever owned (I was 12). I was so grown up, but at the time I had bought it (I saved up money for it and got it on clearance) I had no idea how sizing worked. I had bought a 38A bra from walmart and after a day of wearing it realized it was really too loose for the 'support' I needed (In all reality I was probably a 28AAA lol) I had safety pinned it a time and a half around myself, but still wore it because I felt so grown up. She laughed it and told me I really needed to throw it away because it was safety pinned.

I remember being anxious about spending the night at her house because I'd really never been to a sleepover that wasn't for family. I remember being nervous that I was eating too much of their food or using too many of their resources or generally being in the way of her parents. I thought about that a lot as a kid. I remember taking a bath at her house and only running about an inch or two of water in her tub as to not 'run up their water bill'. Thinking about these events now makes me laugh at my incessant worrying and also makes me feel sad.

The next night she wanted to come over to my house to see where I lived. I remember sitting on our porch swing and her talking about how different our lives were. She had boyfriends in the city and was on a competing cheer leading squad and had activities and a life that went above and beyond anything I ever did. That night she had forgotten some of her overnight clothes and had to borrow some of my underwear. I didn't think anything of it because my younger sister and I had one underwear drawer our whole lives until after puberty. She was taken back by wearing someone else's underwear and commented on their white granny nature. She rolled them down to match her usual bikini style. That night we had a pallet in the floor next to my sisters bottom bunk and my mom propped a fan in our bedroom door like she did every night. I remember laying there beside her while she commented on how different our families were as her family liked everything to be really cold and my family slept in a furnace. she kept asking me why it was so hot and why my parents let it get so hot. I guess then she didn't realize that my parents didn't have an air conditioner that year and when we finally did get a window unit, it only came on a few days in August. Those few days in August all of my siblings would sleep in the living room together as we had quilts hung in the doorways so we could keep the cool in there and let the rest of the house stay hot.

Thinking about this weekend encounter makes me hurt for those still going through those times. It also makes me feel grateful for financial security and that my boys won't ever have to go through that.

Speaking of air conditioners.
I once remember going up the street to my best friends house and actively looking for her air conditioner. I didn't realize that central heating and air was a thing. I thought only window air units existed. I didn't find it, so pondering to myself that night I decided her mom must keep it hidden in her bedroom closet as I'd never been in there before. ;)

Monday, March 13, 2017

I woke up mad today.

It's been just over four weeks since back surgery. I'm finally fully out of the pain management cloud and my mind is settling in on itself. I visited with Neuro last week and am probably going to return to work in about three weeks with restrictions. I'm pretty happy to be going back to work and getting into some type of routine again. I like when things are predictable and manageable. Not to mention, I will be happy to be contributing to my families income once again. Mike went back to work a couple weeks after surgery, so I have been handling these minions by myself or with my parents help since. That's been a pretty large struggle in itself as they don't have the capacity to care about anyone else's needs, but their own. This is what they are supposed to do, but it has been filled with incredibly difficult days and exhausted and painful nights for me. Remaining calm, cool, and collected hasn't been happening and for that I apologize to them daily. 
This surgery has been dizzying for me and sobering at times. After the initial pain and reducing the opiate cloud around me, I'm left with what my next chapter has to offer. I've been dealing with the reality of what all of this means to me and how I'm going to cope with it hereafter. All of the activities that have graciously offered me stress relief as the sacrifice of my body are now contraindicated. I woke up today with so much anger and hate that I just can't work through my daily routine. It might be tied to that fact that I haven't been sleeping and my diet is very very poor these days. 

Last year I decided I needed to join a gym in order to work on myself as well as integrate with people my own age. I needed a group of others that I could relate with. I would share in the same activities as them and feel good about myself for getting out there. Prior to this I was stuck in a rut of working and caring for my children on my own due to Mike's work schedule. Overtime I became a ticking time bomb having to carry all of the responsibilities of work, home, children and our finances. I decided then that I had to do something for myself. I actually started with spiritual en devours to try to integrate myself with a church community and to get closer to God, but that situation was rejected after weeks and weeks of trying. The boys weren't comfortable in any church setting we put them in and in the end it ended with me crying outside of a service holding one of them and the other asking why he was being punished by being there. After that experience and a bad vacation months later I decided I needed other women. Other mothers who were probably going through similar struggles or who were trying to better themselves for one reason or another. I signed up for the gym. The gym was perfect as it provided all the community I needed in order to feel more balanced with life and less like a ticking time bomb. Don't get me wrong, I still spent plenty of time crying over who was going to watch our boys, late night meetings at work, and the everyday grind. I often had to bring them with me to the gym and spend an added 20 minutes setting up playards, getting juice, changing diapers etc. 

It all went away with a drill of 60 squat snatches or burpees until I wanted to puke.
 It strips you down to a place you've never been before. 
It shaves you down to almost pure vulnerability in order for a phoenix to rise out of you.

 Other women I came in contact with would discuss this gym with me as if they felt like it was something they could never do. I explained to them what they could achieve. I explained to them that it was a place they could and would belong if they tried because in a life of feeling like you've never found your place, it is comforting to find it somewhere unexpected. 

When I found out that I had blown out my back, I instantly knew that my journey with this group was over before it even really got started. I had so many plans for myself and so many goals that made me feel like a productive human and not just a mother and a career. Now my membership will never be renewed and I've lost my connection with the others. Others would talk to me and try to lift me up by telling me about how I'll come back stronger and I'll work through this, but in all reality, I won't. 
The competition that Mike and I signed up for last fall is coming in less than a week and I couldn't be more excited for him and how great he will be, but the other part of me is increasingly sad because I can't be there to die along right beside him. Him and I no longer share that common ground either as an interest point of activity and conversation. It's hard to keep that connection between your peers when you can't engage in the same type of activity. It's isolating. 

The last week/ Today I have been so mad about all of this. I'm trying to understand why me? What am I to gain and learn from all of this? Where do I go from here?

Tuesday, January 31, 2017

Where I've been, where I am now. Ramblings.

Ambition, being driven, is such a sought out characteristic of many young adults and full grown individuals. I like to think that some people are ingrained with the ability to compete and win against all odds. Others lead a life with parents that strive to demonstrate hard work ethic and climbing up the ladder of life one excruciatingly painful step at a time. Sometimes the planets align and a person is born into both scenarios with the gift of unwavering perseverance and an environment that displays resilience through up bringing. Without being narcissistic, I like to think that this person closely related to me. I was born with the innate ability that I can do just about anything as long as I find the means necessary to do so.
        To say that my parents struggled would be an understatement. I listened to them tell the story this weekend about the year my brother was born. He was in the NICU for months after pre-term delivery. My parents had to borrow a car to get to the hospital. My dad stayed with nuns while visiting my mom there. He had taken time of of work to take care of my oldest sister and my mother and barely had enough money to buy my mom a drink on the way home from a long stay in STL. They told me about how my dad had bought a lottery ticket weeks before that was stashed in his wallet and ended up winning them seventy dollars on that trip home. My mom cried because it was a blessing from God that they were provided for that week. They have millions of stories like this. Millions I've never heard of pulling through at the last minute either by luck or pure hard work. They struggled like this until my dad stopped swinging a hammer for a living and had been on with the state police for five years. They didn't get on their feet solidly until I was moved out and in college.
        At a young age I knew I had to be the best or close to the best academically in order to not struggle the same way that they did. I flew through middle school and high school without a wink. Always doing what I needed to do and not really spending a lot of social time doing it. Balancing a good academic career with exceptional extracurricular activities in order to secure scholarships, which I did. I used every resource I had at the time securing further free education with my talents in music. I tutored students part time and waited tables as many days a week as possible to make of the gap to get my bachelors. I additionally secured an assistant ship in graduate school and was smooth sailing until my last year. The last year I delivered my first child via c-section and returned to school two weeks later still heavily medicated, wounds still fresh with my mother beside me. I pushed myself beyond recognition to finish school and not have to struggle like my parents did. I wrecked my mind and body in the process. Throughout my residency I managed my capstone review, a sixty hour non paid work week, a child, two houses to pay for, and a husband who didn't know who he was or what we were after six months in the police academy. Still I finished because that is who I am. I don't know how not to push and rise. I've never accepted anything less.
      Through my last year before I started employment I returned to sports and physical endeavors to relieve daily mind and body stress. You have to tear yourself apart to build yourself back, right? Only those that strive for excellence can understand that. My first pregnancy I went from 120 to 192 on my delivery date. I had a lot of work after that to get back to a healthy state of mind. It takes a lot out of you having to spend all your time and efforts on eight years of education while your body goes to pot. So I did it. I ran hundreds of miles my last year up north. I shaped and dropped to get my head back in the balance game. I moved back home and started my doctoring career. I kept it healthy and remained an alpha in my mind. Keeping up with the weekly grind while Mike still lived 4 hours from me. I worked, daycared, fed, bathed, exercised and I did it damn well. We then planned for Ev when Mike moved home because when you have ambition like me, who likes to settle when things calm down? This time I didn't let my body fall apart. I ate great and was on a 40 ounces of water before work at 7am type of regimen. I ran the first trimester, but stopped due to my hips. I still delivered at 187, but it was mostly water and came off quickly. I got back into everything after I finished nursing and all was great. Six months into running I had my second hip injury. I couldn't walk for almost two weeks. Its the curse of being invincible and young, you push through things that are painful until there is nothing left to push. Three months of physical therapy and what I walked away with was strength train. So I started strength training. Crossfit is amazing. You develop a different perception of yourself. You develop a family that sees this perception and projects you in a light that you are the best version of yourself right now. You are your own alpha even if you've had better days.
     It was amazing while it lasted. I've never been that accepted and have never shared the same type of goals with so many people at once. For almost six months I felt injury free until the last month. I started having more major flare ups that slowed me significantly, but when you get such a high from that activity your brain blocks out pain and you push. Push I did. I went back at the first of the year feeling marginally better, but guilty that I hadn't been to the gym in three weeks. I should have known better. A month before that I could easily overhead squat half my body weight and during that workout I couldn't even squat with a bar.
      The next three weeks were a blur of Xrays, MRIs, doctors, pain, and sleeping. This has by far been the most devastating thing that in my recent history as I'm pretty immobile. The first week I couldn't even stand without vomiting. The second I could stand but not over five minutes and now I've been remaining stable at walking under 5-10 minute intervals and not being in extreme pain unless I over do it. It's been really hard over the past few weeks to let other people pick up where I am lacking/ unable to. It's been a psychological thriller not being able to pick up my son. Not being able to get laundry out of the drier. Not trusting myself to drive because of the pain and the fact my right leg and foot goes numb. There comes a point in time when you feel like you've worn out your welcome with your own family, where you feel like you've used up all your favors. This is the week when I feel like I'm there. Don't get me wrong, my family has been amazing at helping me out with the boys and while Mike works. All the immobility is what plays tricks on you. Being immobile for this long alters your perception. Every few days I think maybe this is just in my head and I try some amazing feat like loading the dishwasher or walking through a parking lot to a store only to pay for it grievously the next day. When I get these spurts of altered perception where I think I'm better than what I am, I think maybe my family thinks I'm just making this up. Maybe they think I'm lying here because I'm lazy. I should try to make dinner only to lie in bed that night with pulsing shocks throughout the right side of me. I never realized injury like this could be tainted with such highs and lows. This being said by a woman who went through two abdominal surgeries after 10 pound boys each time.
     Throughout my entire life I have looked as ambition and drive as such an overwhelmingly positive thing as it has gotten me so far in my young life, but right now ambition and drive is really not my friend. When all you've done throughout your life is move and push, it is hard to still have your pushy mind, but a body that just can't. I've had so much time to think about myself and how my mind and or body can't tell the difference between regular pain from breaking my body down from a workout and debilitating injury pain. I don't think I've ever really truly experienced the negative effects of ambition. Surgery is in one week to put me on the mend and I have many more restrictions on life than what I had prior, which is one hard pill to swallow. Excuse me while I have a mini crisis.