Sunday, August 21, 2011

Shoe Tart On Hold

No shoe tart pics yet. I'm thinking it's not going to happen for a couple weeks. I found out Wednesday after seeing my doctor that I have a "significant herniation" of my L4-5 disc(s). That means that my lower back has, close your eyes and picture this, the skeletal equivalent of a jelly donut with jelly innards gooing out the hole. Those jelly innards are pushing HARD on my sciatic nerve. That would explain the pain, the numbness and the ridiculous drop-foot loss of strength I have going on. My doctor, concerned about the loss of strength (which is getting more pronounced as the weeks go on) suggested surgery. He called the surgeon in, who also did a physical exam, whistled at my MRI and said I need surgery. I scheduled surgery.

Rash you might say? Bollocks I might respond.

First of all, the surgery is a one hour, outpatient procedure called a microdiscectomy. Basically, they make a tiny incision, go in with tiny instruments, remove tiny bone fragments and part of the disc, maneuver around the nerve and shave off the bulging disc nucleus/jelly goop that is causing all the ruckus.

I have spoken to a lot of people who've had the procedure and they are very satisfied. Most importantly they are glad they are not in the daily pain that comes with this kind of herniated disc. I have SCOURED spine sites who ALL say back surgery is a last resort UNLESS you have one of two issues occurring. One being loss of bladder control. Thank you God, that's not the case. The other is loss of strength. And, considering the loss of strength in my foot is profound, I am a candidate for immediate surgery.

I spoke to my chiropractor, whom I trust implicitly, and he ALSO said I am a candidate based on my symptoms. If it was otherwise, he'd say so big time.

I'm a little scared. Maybe I should be more scared. I don't know if this sounds weird, but it's almost inevitable that this is happening. (I believe in law of attraction and manifestation....for good and bad, so maybe this has something to do with it...) ANYway, I mean inevitable by the fact that having this surgery will put me in third generation of women in my family having back surgery. My grandma made the medical books in the 60s with hers. I vaguely remember my mom being in hospital then in bed for what seemed like forever when I was a little girl. And now this. Genetically speaking I was dealt the fuzzy end of the lollipop when it comes to backs. Even my mom's brother has serious back issues. I've had them all my life...well...ok, since I was 21 after a car accident where the xrays show my neck is almost straight, versus curved, which causes a whole set of other problems and pain, which I've dealt with for 20 years.

But the low back stuff...this is new...relatively (see last post). And I don't like it. I'm an active person. I have two small girls. We go to Disneyland a lot, we like to hike, I work out at the gym, I like to walk (I hate to run, but have forced myself to do so, though not lately, obviously), and I like the freedom of knowing that when I want to I can ride horses, scuba dive, go camping, etc.

I don't have time for bullshit pain and bullshit bulging discs and stupid crap that keeps me in bed most days. I like being outside, I like outdoors stuff. I like being physically strong and feeling powerful. I also like really good, sweaty sex. All that wonderful stuff I enjoy is on the line here. I am not a gimp, not a cripple, WILL NOT be housebound and bedridden. I refuse. So I am doing the surgery and looking at alternative methods to use in conjunction with the surgery for post-operative recovery.

Anyway, back to the inevitability part, I grew up in a household where surgery was not taboo. I guess it was like my c-sections...I was a c-section baby and neither my mom nor I had issues, so I was not concerned with it like others I know, some of whom surgery of any kind is anathema to them. I guess the climate growing up was of surgery-oriented solutions. Don't know if it's right or wrong. I do know that attitude and perspective play a HUGE role in recovering through ANYTHING. So my attitude and perspective that this is the right solution for me and that I will recover well is the important thing.

I am also realizing that my impatience is my biggest enemy. One foolish desire to prove I'm perfectly well is going to mess me up further.

I have to be smart, patient and reasonable. This back thing has had me down for too long. I have a chance to rectify it and improve. If I am smart, patient and reasonable.

Lots of people in lots of back surgery forums have complained their surgeries weren't successful.  At least many of them were honest enough to admit they had done something like go out and try to run a marathon too soon, or lift a 130-pound toolbox or whatever.

That's what I paid attention to. Now, if I can wipe away the stubborn German-Irish redheaded leo part of me, I will come out of the on top. In more ways than one I hope. ;)

Monday, August 15, 2011

Shoe Tart Unhinged

Ahhhhh. Last day of my week off. Return to work tomorrow. What a nice, relaxing vacation, right? No. "vacation" from work last week began on Saturday August 6 when my parents had to pile me into their car, writhing in pain as I lay across the back seat, unable to find a spot that didn't send bolts of molten hot lava down my leg. They got me to St. Joseph's emergency room within 15 minutes (which tells you a lot about West-Med as I literally live across the street from there) and I continued to writhe, not caring who the hell heard me crying out to God to please stop the pain and let me pass out (yes I was that yelling freak down the hall in the ER), panting dry-mouthed in between shots of fire. They FINALLY shot me up with Dilaudid (THANK YOU GOD THANK YOU GOD THANK YOU GOD) and I was able to breathe. And the staff was able to take out their earplugs and resume conversations about the idiot patients who come through with self-induced injuries like paint rollers up their asses. (I used to work at Western Medical Center in Admitting/ER...I saw a photocopy of the really happened. And worse. People are SO weird).

I have one word for you:

Sciatica. -ca -ca -ca -caaaaaaa (echo effect). Duh duh duhhhhhhhh. (dramatic bad-omen-laden music effect).

Ok. MORE than one word for you.

I have had two children, both via c-section, the first being an emergency after 2 days of labor pain replete with the ever-fun back labor pains. Both are remembered with fondness and yearning in comparison to the pain I felt on the gurney in that room in the emergency room of St. Joe's.

I have had problems with my back over the last year. It started in May 2010 when I broke my left little toe and ended up in an orthopaedic walking boot. Shortly thereafter I began a series of business trips from California to Quebec (read: LOTS of sitting in airports, running from immigration to customs to security to the next flight AND crunched sardine-like in 6-across plane seats). Sure enough low back pain set in quickly. Up until a couple months ago, the "oh shit my back just went out AGAIN" pretzlization (haha new word!!!!) I endured was pretty quickly rectified by chiropractic and massage therapy. Until I sprained (badly) my left ankle.

I put the ortho boot back on, like an uneducated idiot.  (Read: ortho boots are notorious for causing bad low-back pain. Thank you Ms. Physical Therapist, a little too little too late. Fanx.)

After that I survived a month of crippling back pain that my chiropractor couldn't even touch. Intense massage therapy sessions didn't work. Finally I went to an orthopaedic specialist. He put me in physical therapy for a month which did Jack-Diddly ("I hate buses!") and KABLAM! Finally, last Saturday it seems my sciatic nerve area place thingy decided to give me the double-bird.

Did I mention how painful that crap was?? There are a lot of people I don't like and a lot of people I have had fantasies about doing really messed up things to. I wouldn't wish this on any of them. Oh. Wait. Yeah. Oh, yeah, I DEFINITELY wish this shit on the people at the top of Bank of America's corporate ladder. I can envision an entire top floor of writhing executives. I might even kick them in the stomach as I walked through taking camera-phone shots for Facebook. Other than them, I wouldn't have this on any one.

So, I was sent home with a woozy head and little pain, with orders to call my doctor in the morning. Gotta love not being admitted to the hospital when you're NOT dying but feel like you are.

And so...saw ortho the following Monday, was told 5 days bed-rest and did just that...well, until Thursday, when the pain finally subsided enough that I could go without any pain meds. Then I went home and saw how pitiful my house looked and proceeded to attempt to make things right which only just landed me back on crutches.

Oh yeah...the crutches. That's the best story of all. left foot is partially numb. Yeah. I walk like a duck now. And I know how sexy ducks are. I am so happy about this. This and the closet full of awesome stilettos, wedges, and pumps that are lonely and missing me as much as I miss wearing them. I am not sure if it's been mentioned in this blog before, but my nickname at work is Shoe Tart. Ok, next blog is a pictorial homage to all the shoes I've loved before (I did a video homage last year after the left toe break, but I don't know if I can post a video here. I'll see...) Yeah, so anyway, I have limited flexion in my left ankle, half my foot is numb and up until Friday I couldn't walk without crutches. I'm going without them now, but I'm serious, it's funny walking and then realizing my left foot is flopping and dragging. Whatever....

Ok, ok, ok. Cuz I know you care...I had an MRI today (I found having conversations with God in that little coffin filled with mini-jackhammers quite pleasant), then have a follow-up appt Wednesday.

So. Yeah. Shoe Tart pics. That's gonna come sometime later in the week...maybe next weekend. There's a lot of production to go into this....and I know all 8 of you sweet followers are on pins and needles waiting for this. Right? Right.

Shoe Tart OUT. But not my back. Ha ha! (thumbs up with overly-emoted happy face effect here).

Wait. I just realized I'm taking my girls to see the Smurf movie tonight. Ooooohhhhhhhh, where's my pain meds? My paint roller????? *sigh*

Thursday, August 11, 2011

Hair of the Dog

Ohhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhh.....*groooooooooan* ooohhhhhhhwahwahwah.


Don't you hate waking up like that? Usually when people wake up like that, a little hair of the dog takes the edge off the feeling of complete and utter remorse. And usually when people wake up like that, mercifully they can't remember much unless they have really good friends who gleefully reminded them where they left their pants and how they got glitter in their hair and an extra tattoo. On their ass. Not that that has ever happened to me. Not that I remember anyway.

But the humiliated remorse i felt this morning has nothing to do with a hangover. Unless you want to call it an emotional hangover. No. No, this all has to do with my stupid self-will and That whole "to thine own self be true" crap I posted only just yesterday. Believe me, I find everything in that post to be completely applicable to myself, but it's just sadly ironic that I posted it yesterday and then went on to "to thine own self be true" right into a big ol' rabbit hole of embarrassment.

So I spend the day today holding my aching head and wishing that when I woke up this morning with the immediate wish that yesterday had just been a bad dream it really was. But it wasn't, so here i am, making no sense to anyone. Gah.

I can't really get into what happened. Let's just keep it at I got brutally open YET AGAIN with someone when I should have kept my big fat gob shut. I don't know how to be coy or demure or play games. I just know how to be open and honest and.....ohhhhhhhhhhwahwahwahwhatdidIdo?

So when you're left with the sad realization that you're a dork and what's done is done, the only thing to do is accept the consequences and move on. I don't know what the consequences are, but I am positive I can make up some really, really good ones in my head.

I wish I could hide in my rabbit hole but I can't. Can't wish away yesterday. I can laugh at myself, thank God, and rat myself out on the Internet and just accept I am who I am and I sometimes do some pretty silly things when I lead with my heart instead of my head.

Does anyone have excedrin and some humble- pie??


Wednesday, August 10, 2011

To Thine Own Self Be True...Get 'er Done

From a Facebook blog I wrote in February 2009. It stands equally true today:

I hear and read a lot of colloquialisms as I meander down this road called life. I can’t think of any right now except “Get ‘er done.”

Well, that’s a lie. There have been OTHERS running through my head recently: “Be Rigorously Honest,” “To Each His Own” and “To Thine Own Self Be True.” (Strangely enough, “Get ‘er Done” fits right into the list.)

“Be Rigorously Honest” always makes me think of a cigar-chomping, red-faced, muscle-bound Drill Sergeant: “Be Rigorously Honest you *$ piece of @(@#0 mother (#)@##$ horse’s #$@ or I’ll stick this rifle up your @#$…now get down there and give me 300 while I sit on you!” Strong. Forceful. Direct.

“To Each his Own” is simply….meh. Fine. Whatev. With a little bit of snobbery in the mix. Like two dandies passing on the sidewalk of some schmancy city block, boutique bag in one hand, latte in the other, eyeing each and secretly scorning the other’s $300 designer jeans paired with THAT jacket. “Lord, what WAS that girl thinking? Hmmm. To each her own. Sniff.” Just keep walking.

I prefer “To Thine Own Self Be True.” I love language and history…”To Thine Own Self Be True” is beautiful. It’s romantic. Old-fashioned and flourish-y. Lots of swishes and swirls should adorn the letters. The phrase evokes the likes of Shakespeare, Byron...Robin Hood and Maid Marion. Somewhere in time there’s a knight brandishing a sword that has that sentence etched on the blade. The irony of being skewed with a weapon like that is not lost on me.

Brushing that floral crap aside, what does that phrase really mean? It appeals to me because it is clearly defined, rose-petals and all. As a person who believes in God (…Universe, Earth Energy, Creator, Jesus, Buddha, Joe down the street, no one…I’m not a religious freak…insert your own idea of a “spiritual mentor.” ), the philosophy is a wonderful gauge on how connected I am to God’s will versus my own. If I’m doing something that’s not in the “higher plan” of my existence, if my actions are not part of a bigger will in my life, I just feel wrong. And, I usually feel wrong in varying degrees and levels for something or other on a daily or even hour-to-hour basis. I firmly believe that when I sincerely ask for God’s help and direction in life, it will come. I believe this because it has happened over and over. On the flipside, the beauty (or irony) of being human is that I have free will. So it’s always a give and take deal. I’m striving more for the “handing over” part of the deal. It’s a daily…battle…no…struggle…no. Those aren't the right words. It’s a daily exercise.

For me there is a fine balance between exercising Faith and lack thereof. I choose to exist somewhere in the middle, like a mildly swinging pendulum. I like some free will. I am human after all. My spirit chose to be in this physical shell for a reason! I also like knowing that should I choose to do so, there are situations I can give over to God so that the burdens that often weigh me down when I don’t give up the fight are eased. The extent to which I’m willing to slow down, relax and hand over directly correlates to the amount of ease I feel. As a single mom going through a divorce, working full time, dealing with financial pressures and emotional wreckage and crazy people in my life, there’s a lot to try to carry alone. I’m a stubborn German-Irish redhead. I still have some things to hard-headedly prove. To whomever will listen, damnit. Keeping the pendulum fairly mellow is not always easy.

On one hand, if I believed that I had no free will I’d sit like a lump somewhere constantly waiting for God to do everything for me. Even the most spiritual and humblest monk on the remotest mountaintop has to lift his hand to his mouth to take a drink of water.

On the other hand, if I live only by self-control without belief that there are some miracles in this world that I had no hand in creating (really?) and that I have to severely maintain every aspect of my life as well as YOURS (you’re SO welcome), I’ll be spun so tight that I’ll become a red whirl of anger, angst and misery. The irony of free will is that once you get going in a really good streak, it becomes addictive. You get a little het up and you’re like butter…you’re on a roll. Can’t stop now. And don’t anyone try to stop the tornado either.

For instance, when I drive to work – late again because the girls will NOT wake up at a moment’s notice – I get on the toll-road with the fact of light traffic ahead of me. There’s a very short stretch of curved highway where the CHP doesn’t lie in wait. At this point of my early-morning commute, my speedometer often hits up to 100 mph because I LOVE speed. I may have been a racecar driver in another life. I KNOW it’s wrong. But there’s a thrill as I urge my dirt-laden, 10-year old little green weeniemobile to its limit…new tires help…and I fly past someone cruising at 80, thinking, “Get out of my way fool, I need coffee!” I embrace the control as my steering wheel reacts to the mechanisms of my car and the tension of the road rushes past the steel, through my hands and into my body. It’s power and it’s danger and it’s freedom. I push my and the car’s limits, always knowing in the back of my mind that 1) one small mistake and I’m dust – literally, 2) one small cop and my bank account is dust and 3) I’m going to have a speed hangover as soon as I see how much gas I really wasted in that 5 minute jaunt. DAMNIT! Environmental no-no girl strikes again! But I love the adrenaline – the rush. It’s SO WRONG and it feels so nasty good. Then I hit the speed-trap part of the commute, back off to 73 mph and cruise the rest of the trail to the office.

For those 5 minutes my will takes completely over and my God is sitting up there in his Barker lounge chair chuckling and thinking, “Girl you are one crazy #$@%%...if I was a Drill Sergeant I’d make you do 300. Hey, where’s my latte?” The knot in my stomach is small…almost negligible. It’s ignorable. Is that a word? It is now. If Shakespeare could make up words, so can I.

But what about the other areas of my life where the knot in my stomach can grow exponentially? The angst increases? The moroseness deepens? This is where the self-will gauge, much like the speedometer in my car, tells how far I have passed the point of danger and I’d better slow down or else kablam! Step back, before you turn to dust. Relax. “To Thine Own Self Be True.” If it hurts, stop doing it. Yeah…I know that other colloquialism “No Pain, No Gain.” Well said! I agree that if you have a bitchin’ workout in the gym, you will be in some very good pain – proof that your muscles are growing and getting stronger. Or if you lose a loved one, or end an important relationship, experiencing the mental anguish is an important way to grow spiritually and emotionally. Feeling feelings is human and necessary and God-given. But for the aspects of myself for which I choose free will and then experience unnecessary harm in the process, “To Thine Own Self Be True” is a thing of beauty.

Not happy in a relationship? Why? What can I do about it? “Adapt and Overcome?” (I must have a thing for the Marines.) That’s simply another way of saying accept what I can and somehow deal with the rest. If two people are willing to communicate and be honest with themselves and each other and can come to a compromise for the best of both, with or without counseling, then great. But if my focus is on everything that is bothering me about someone else and I try to manipulate the situation to incur change, do I honestly think I can force the hand of another human being to make them bend to my will? Hell no. Not if I’m rigorously honest with myself. It is physically impossible and morally wrong. Who am I as a simple body on this planet to think I can change anyone else? If I’m in a relationship and I’m not happy, adapt and overcome or get the hell out. I have to ask myself, “What hurts more, being lonely with someone or being alone? Do I like how I feel, respond, think and behave on a daily basis with this person? Am I flourishing in the light of love or floundering in the shadows of neediness? Am I the strong, self-loving, self-sufficient woman I want to be, or am I a puppy?” If the answers are not positive, then something is terribly wrong and some personal decisions need to be made.

I did that with my marriage. That decision emotionally pummeled me. I fell to my knees in tears and agony, praying to my God to please carry me through the pain because I couldn’t handle it alone. The fact was clear, however, that the decision was for my best chance at survival. I knew to my innermost being that a change had to be made because I couldn’t live the rest of my life in misery; all the “adapt and overcome” options had been used up. I’m growing emotionally and spiritually because of that decision. And it has helped me recognize sooner and more clearly when I’m in situations and relationships that are not good for me. Self-reflection and soul-searching and lesson-learning are finally beginning to cause a change in my physical and emotional make-up.

“To Thine Own Self Be True” must be involved in every aspect of my life, not just relationships. Want to achieve a personal goal? Set one and achieve it, Kristen. I’m not happy with the 5 pounds I’ve put BACK on my body? Get to the gym or walk at lunch. Go back to school, finish the Advanced Open Water Diver course, do the friggin’ dishes. Spend 15 extra minutes a day playing with the kids! Small, huge it doesn’t matter. I must be realistic in regards to my desires, time and resources and then get to into action. The trick for me on a daily basis is recognizing the need for a change and then becoming willing to make the change. My self-will will let me stew in a problem, but God’s will won’t let the knot go away. My self-will controls how big or little that knot becomes. God’s will will remove it if I put my harmful self-will aside. That recognition process can take a minute, a day, a year, depending on the situation and my comfort threshold.

Today the knot in my stomach doesn’t have to grow so large and the moroseness doesn’t have to delve quite so deeply into my psyche as I step through new stages of my life with Faith and friendship and self-awareness. I’m not perfect and never want to be. I don’t want to sit alone on a mountaintop. Nor do I want to bang my head in a rubber-walled room. I want to live, improve, make mistakes, learn and improve some more. I want to be found in my God. I want to love. I want to be loved. I want to be happy. I want excitement and tenderness and kindness and respect – and give those in return to others for whom I care. I have a choice to make each moment of the day: ignore the niggling little knot that says I’m not doing what I should be doing, or recognize, understand, believe and heed the knot.

Practicing living in my self-truth means good news for the world. I'm focusing on me, not you. Not your brother, CPA, dog or goldfish and everything and everyone else on the planet. When I practice self-truth I feel powerful. As God's will and my will align, I feel strong and confident. Thus happiness and positive thinking ensue.

Now that these words are laid out for the world and myself to see, the key is what action follows from this point forward. Get ‘er done Kris.

Love The One You're With...Guaranteed

Well since I am clearly on the romance path AGAIN (see last post) I might as well expand on my July post "Fading to Black". At least I will be incorporating what seems to be my unending sentimentality with my unending love of music.

In "Fading to Black" I ended with my idea of a romantic dinner, with a dance to The Temptation's "Night and Day" found on the "What Women Want" soundtrack.

Other songs guaranteeing anyone to get what they want from their object of desire are these classic sigh-inducing ballads that are still powerful today:

When A Man Loves A Woman, by Percy Sledge. C'mon. This is grand, amazing schlocky romance at it's soulful finest.

Oh, What A Night, by The Dells. Can't you just picture Marty McFly's parents falling in love on the dance floor as they sway under streamers of tinsel and papier-mâché moons and stars to this rich melody? It makes me want to go shopping for a vintage prom dress.

I Only Have Eyes For You, by The Flamingos. Uh....ditto what I said about Oh, What A Night.

Now, for something completely different and almost unnerving in its ethereal all know (I hope) Unchained Melody by The Righteous Brothers. There's precious few who didn't sit entranced and ready to take pottery lessons after hearing this song in the movie "Ghost." But do yourself a favor and listen to the a Capella version by The Fleetwoods. I feel about that version the same way I feel about Elvis' version of Blue Moon (check it out on the "Boy From Tupelo" album.) Both are transformative in their haunting simplicity. These songs would probably make Evanescence a little tingly.

The moldies aren't the only ones holding the reins on amorous melodies...there are some modern-day classics to torture your heart with as well...

...Vince Gill's You and You Alone, When Love Finds You and Whenever You Come Around (for the real magnitude of the meanings behind these songs, read the AARP article I referenced in my July post "Catch-up...It's Not Just a Condiment")...

...or Keith Urban's Only You Can Love Me This Way, the upbeat Somebody Like You, and back to honey-dripping love with Your Everything...

...John Michael Montgomery has more than a couple that will make her weak in the knees, in I Love The Way You Love Me, Rope the Moon, I Swear, Long as I Live, and I Can Love You Like That. I wouldn't be the least bit surprised if every last one of these were on the Top 50 Wedding Dance Songs of all Times...

And just when you were beginning to think country has the romance-dance genre lassoed, you'd be wrong...there's more in pop-music to neck by...

...(Everything I Do) I Do It For You by Bryan Adams (and can I glide over his Have You Ever Loved a Woman? I think not...
...Wicked Game by Chris Isaak (come ON I have to list this even tho it's maybe not the most positive message to send someone. Maybe they won't hear the lyrics over the sound of your kissing).
...So Close by John McLaughlin from the "Enchanted" soundtrack...
...If your hair is still a little long (or you wish it were) after all these years and you have a penchant for zebra stripes, you'll appreciate Def Leppard's Have You Ever Needed Someone So Bad as well as Is This Love by Survivor...
...which leads me to...Wherever You Will Go by The Calling...
...and while we're on rock ballads, who can forget Babe by Styx or Angel by Aerosmith...

...a young British artist I discovered a few years ago is Adele (who HASN'T heard of her by now??) Her Crazy For You, Make You Feel My Love, and One and Only have the retro soul of Amy Winehouse, only these songs are healthy and don't get weighted down with real-life tragedy.

For less sultry, more innocent indie sounds, Corinne Bailey Rae's sweetly whispered lines in Enchantment, Call Me When You Get This and Trouble Sleeping seem almost too innocent to list here. Nah. They're not. Neither are Bruno Mars' Just The Way You Are and Bright Eyes' First Day Of My Life, both of which are sure to make her a drooling mess in your arms, quite malleable if she believes you think even a fraction of what the lyrics are saying. These songs go with daisies and cotton.

There are SO many songs to get down and sweet or down and dirty with - too many to keep listing here - but I do want to mention just two more:
Jules Holland's version with Bono of U2's If You Wear That Velvet Dress which absolutely ruined the U2 original for me forever. This song drips sensuality like liquid silver falling off the moon. This song has I'm-in-love-with-you-sex from the first note to the last.

The other song is Lyle Lovett's I Know You Know with an equally sensual jazz beat to seduce by. And yes I said Lyle Lovett. The man does more than honky-tonk and this song proves it.

So, consider these songs, boys and girls, next time you're planning an intimate evening with the one you love, or, more importantly, the one you WANT to love.