Grateful for my year from hell

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It was a bad year. A sucky year. A “What the heck happened?” year. A “Take one step forward, three steps back” year.

And I’m grateful.

I’m grateful God warned me at the beginning that it would be rough. Grateful I have such amazing parents, family, and friends. Grateful for how much more confident and mature I am from facing constant struggles.

This year I found out that I have dysplasia. And I watched as my health deteriorated. This year the running shoes I bought for all of the 5ks I had planned turned into “the shoes that don’t make my hip hurt.” This year I spent endless hours on the phone trying to buy health insurance that would cover my surgeon in St. Louis, or just trying to get an appointment to see him. This year I bought a car. And got laid off from work. Twice.

This year God told me He wouldn’t miraculously heal my hip, but that He would be there with me, and there is a reason He has let me be temporarily crippled. (Apparently I’m really hard to pin down.)

This year I started freelance copyediting. What was once a daydream and bucket list item, I can now see in my bank account. This year I visited Canada with two other incredible, thriving single ladies. This year I joined a choir. And my church praise band. And this year I began to consider my goals and aspirations and weigh them to measure their worth to me.

I’ve learned that my circumstances don’t have to dictate my attitude or actions. And you know what? Believe it or not, I am oh, so very happy.

So, as this year draws to a close and I want to shake my fist at 2016 as the ball drops, I am choosing to wave goodbye with poise and dignity. Because I’m grateful for all of the little things. And all of those little things add up.

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MR-Arthograms and thin walls don’t mix

LicensedToWhine.jpgI had my arthograph Monday, Aug. 29.

To bring those who don’t know up-to-date, I was diagnosed with hip dysplasia on June 20. You can read about it here.

I needed my arthograph done before they would schedule me for pre-op with my surgeon, Dr. Clohisy. Dr. Tang, who had to confirm my dysplasia before I did anything at Washington U, was great and had me do Dr. Clohisy’s required set of X-Rays when I met with him on Aug. 12.

So now I’m just waiting on them to schedule an appointment with Dr. Clohisy, then we’ll schedule surgery.

The arthograph is an MRI where they inject your joint with contrast dye, and it was everything I expected it to be. I signed into the Radiology department then they took me into the arthography room. It’s a normal exam room, but with a full table and fluoroscope, which is a live x-ray on a stand and looks like a big can light hanging above the table. It allows the doctor to see where the needle is going.

It was freezing in there. But I was prepared. I wore a tank top and comfy sweater, and socks and shoes. I wore cotton yoga pants so I wouldn’t have to wear the ever-stylish bermuda shorts they supply.

The assistant let me wrap up in a blanket and the doctor came in a few minutes later. I asked him if he was trying to freeze me out, but he said just to wait, it’s going to get hot. He began to prep the needles and sure enough, I shucked the blanket and it was roasting.

I told him I didn’t want to see the needles and he said that wouldn’t be a problem. I groaned with anxiety, and he told me to think about the dumb a/c in the room. The assistant taped my feet together as I mumbled about a hyperactive thermostat and that I didn’t want to do this.

One thing I wasn’t prepared for was where the needle was going. I assumed it would be the side of my hip where I received stim treatment. Nope. Front of body near my groin crease. Which meant I had to drop my shorts. He put a covering cloth over me to keep me modest and wiped me down with orange antiseptic. I’ve been told the inject point is the middle of where the incision will be for surgery.

There were three needles. Number one numbed my skin. It was the only one I felt, and it wasn’t bad, less pain than a flu shot. Number two, as far as I’m aware, didn’t even happen. It numbed my muscles. Number three was the long one (so I’m told). It’s actually the same diameter as the other two, so there’s no gaping hole or anything. I think he said it was a 22 gauge which is smaller than my earring posts.

This was the uncomfortable part, of course. The contrast dye has lidocaine or some form of numbing agent in it, but I don’t think anything can rid the feeling of pressure as the joint fills with dye. He had another doctor come in and consult. “Add a half cc more.”

By this point I have a cold rag on my forehead to ease my nausea and I’m clutching it as I moan and talk to myself. When the doctor pressed on my hip to spread the dye, I bellowed out and promptly apologize for being such a whine bag.

Then he took the needle out and stuck a band-aid on the prick. All done. But my whole body is shaking with nerves since I had gotten myself all worked up. Oh yeah, it was also back to being a refrigerator in there.

The assistant helped me into a wheelchair and laughed as she noticed he didn’t untape my shoes. I made a joke about falling flat on my face as she wheeled me back to the waiting room.

My parents looked at me anxiously. “We heard you screaming.” Oops! It really wasn’t that bad. Just really uncomfortable and I’m a total whine bag.

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I had to wait for the MRI machine to be freed up. The man who had his right before mine was having trouble with back pain as he laid in the MRI, so he had to try several times to get his done. I’m glad it didn’t take too long, as the dye has a shelf life and I would have had to get more injected if it losed its potency. The MRI was a quick 30 minutes and my head stuck out of the machine, which was nice even though I’m not claustrophobic.

I used my crutches to leave as the backward motion on my leg made me very squeamish.

We ended up visiting a relative in another hospital near St. Louis and went to Cracker Barrel. By the time we got to the restaurant I was off the crutches and just limping slowly.

This week has been rough. I’ve been busy at work, and my hip is very uncomfortable. Tuesday night I got my results and my labrum is torn. Here is what that looks like.

It’s a 1 o’clock to 10 o’clock tear. If you look at a clock face, you’ll see that doesn’t leave much non-torn labrum. Labral tears allow for fluid seepage. No wonder the dye made it feel so disgusting. I also have cartilage damage and a cyst.

I’m hoping this allows my appointment and surgery to be expedited.

Another glimpse of perspective

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In May of 2015, I lived in a small village in Iceland. While there I had the pleasure of living and working with another traveler, Dan Barabas, who hails from Romania.

Dan, who is currently working on his Ph.D. in Tourism, keeps abreast of global happenings and we had a great time discussing philosophy, religion, and politics while we were together.

I interviewed him in March about our election process, and recently decided to interview him again as things are drawing to a heated climax.

When asked how the media coverage has been, he said there has been coverage of Clinton’s corruption charges, “but comparing to everything you hear about Trump, this is like the ripples from a stone dropped into the ocean.”

Sadly, Dan has not seen any media coverage for Jill Stein (Green Party) or Gary Johnson (Libertarian Party), and I asked him if he thought the media was more propaganda than reporting. He considered the news to be reporting “with a thick later of propaganda … you have the impression that the idea of reporting doesn’t exist anymore… but it is still there, for the ones who are able to distinguish between these two ideas of reporting.”

Dan assuredly had thoughts about Donald Trump. “Definitely, this election is getting a lot of attention/media covering but, to be honest, I guess this is most because of Trump running for president. ‘Cancan’ stuff is always appealing for the large masses of people and Trump through everything he does, is written ‘sensational’ all over the place.”

As for how the States’ political process compares to that in Romania, “I would say that your process is at least 10 levels above … even if the propaganda is still there, … Romania is kind of democracy wannabe (actually sometimes I’m wondering why it is still called that Romania is a democratic country — because is just an empty shell). Your elections process is still, from my point of view, even if is not flawless, closed to perfection as it can be.”

In the end, between the drama of both Clinton and Trump, and the rise of the third party candidates, Dan asserted that “this is what democracy is all about: Anybody can have a chance to get there.”

My little monster, Julie

Hey everyone! I hope you all have been well. I’ve been dandy, all things considered. Other than working as editor for Where Am I?, I have also started a new blog!

Don’t worry, I’m not leaving Prodigal Daughter. I’m just being a modern Prometheus. [Someone please tell me you’ve read Frankenstein.]

Anyway, I have created a blog which is currently masquerading as a personal journal for a postgrad named Julie. But soon all of that will change. She will begin her journey and the plot will twist! Those who think the blog is real will have a shock as her antagonist suddenly appears, writing blog posts about his own side of the story!

In a matter of moments, the idea for this blog was formed. I wanted to create a dual-sided fiction piece and stretch my creative writing muscles again. A friend graciously accepted my request to be the male voice for the story and thusly we began.

Here in the Seattle of my imagination, a woman named Julie lives, plagued by a reflection of herself which resides in the form of Alex, a well-meaning man who doesn’t seem to realize their similarities are the very things preventing Julie from accepting him.

So, yeah, there is the secret! Feel free to go on over there by clicking here and follow Julie’s blog; the story will begin in the next few weeks. Until then, please enjoy the ramblings of my little monster.

The first draft of Where Am I? is completed!

Hey everyone!

The book I’ve been working on as an editor is now a completed first draft! I am extremely proud of this book, Where Am I?, by Jason Powers.

With Jason’s tales of adventure, you’ll soon be wondering to yourself, “Does his mother know what he has been up to?”

I sure do, every single page I proof.

I can’t wait to share this book with all of you when it is published and ready to purchase! You’re not going to want to miss it.

If you guys have suggestions for publishing companies or tips on the process, please let us know in the comments. Until then, please enjoy this post from Jason about the book.

Jason Powers:

Six months ago I was in Mozambique, working the morning shift at a small hostel and wandering through a sea of robbers and con men in the afternoons. After four days which featured two robbery attempts and a 20-minute standoff with bribe-seeking police officers, I decided to spend less time wandering…

Read more: The first draft of my book, Where Am I?, is done!

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Losing My Ambition

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When I was fifteen I decided I would be a fashion designer. I would do it my whole life and die a happy fashion designer.

When I was seventeen, I started college as an English Education major. I was going to teach high schoolers how to write and I would die a happy English teacher.

When I was nineteen, I graduated with my degree in philosophy, ready for law school. I was going to be a child’s advocate and would die happy serving them.

When I was twenty-one, I quit my well-paying career as a college advisor to travel the world and be a vagabond. It was then my ambition started to slip through my fingers…

And I began to take hold of my own life.

Through my many adventures which took me to Vegas, Iceland, and heavens-knows-where, I realized that being a “lifer” in one profession is not the end-all of life on earth. Although I admire those who have decades of experience in their field — they are brilliant — I do not associate with my society’s obsession of longevity in the workplace.

I understand, historically, that it was normal and expected to have one skill set in one trade and live in the same location for one’s whole life. But at what point did modern, Western society evolve from honoring those who devote their lives to their work to judgmentally demanding everyone choose what they want to do for the rest of their lives right out of high school and stick with it until retirement, lest ye be shunned and ostracized from genteel associations?

What do you want to be when you grow up?

Why is that answer always doctor, lawyer, actress, plumber, and not kind, volunteer, a member of a family, dog-lover, a great cook, a good Christian, Muslim, Taoist, etc.? Why are we training our children to believe our identity hinges on how we make money rather than who we are as a person? 

When I let go of society’s demand of my ambition for a career, I realized how misdirected that ambition really was. There are many aspects of my life and how I earn money is only one.