When Times Are Bad It Is Time To Be Grateful

     Well, let see if I can get a post out this week.  I did manage to get one out last week with a fun prompt and link up with Emma, Kelly, and Rebecca.

     These past couple of weeks have definitely been challenging to say it mildly.  I do not want to come across as whiny, but these past two weeks really have been hell for me physically and emotionally.  It seems as though an endless amount of crap has been thrown at me from all directions, which I can not catch because I have been in bed most of the time.  I’ve been in bed so much mainly because I am just flat out exhausted from all the changes my body has undergone and I am sure there is some depression lurking in.

     I was on the mend pretty nicely for the first two weeks after surgery.  I was just tired, but I rested and did my best to eat well.  Everything seemed to be going fine.  I was gradually reducing my diuretic medication and it seemed the stent was beginning to work it little magic.  Perhaps it still is.

     A point of frustration for me is that I have been unable to schedule my one month follow up with my “neuro” specialists.  So naturally when I get a severe headache or when I get out of bed my left eye just can’t quite focus in on objects my mind gravitates towards the worst possible scenario.  I doubt myself.  I doubt the device.

     There is a good chance it is not the device.  I just have to keep reminding myself of that.  I also have to remind myself that those three times when I got a left sided headache (right where the stent was implanted) I was extremely emotional.  Like sobbing, can only catch your breath long enough to ask the person how they could be so deceitful, sobbing.  Then there was the shock of having to switch healthcare plans by the end of the month after years of stability.  It was events like those that made my pain on scale of zero to ten shoot to a fifteen.  (Only compounded by the fact there is not much to do for them then rest.  Pain medication often just causes rebound headaches, so it is better to just bear through it.)

  I have been trying to take Kelly’s advice.  That is to remember that I know my body.  I know I never had serious headaches like those past three until after stent placement and then it was only when I was incredibly emotional.  I’m not comforted by my doctor’s nurse practitioner telling me it most likely has nothing to do with the stent.  I want to speak with the actual doctor.  I want the actual one month follow up appointment.  I hate being so demanding, but my gut is just telling me “hey, this is an experimental surgery still in the testing phase – so you might want to get it checked out because it is not normal for you.”

     My main goal for today is to call the doctor’s office and get that appointment.  If I can accomplish that I will consider everything else, well, I will consider everything else a bonus because I am horrible at standing up for myself.

  Enough with the whining.  Let’s take a break and do a little dancing !

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Much better !

     Since I have been focusing in on so many negative things, whether they are emotional or physical.  I think I will take a few minutes to focus in on somethings that I can be grateful for at the moment.

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     What are some of the things that I am grateful for ?  Well, I will take a look back starting from the weekend until this morning .

  • I’m grateful that I have my very basic needs met.  I have a place to live, food in the refrigerator & pantry, and clothes to wear.
  • I’m grateful that I have a few extra dollars in my wallet.
  • I’m grateful that I managed to feel well enough to take a few showers.
  • I’m grateful that I managed to feel well enough early in the weekend to get two loads of laundry done.  (Awe, there is nothing better than crawling into bed with fresh, clean sheets after getting out of the shower !)
  • I’m grateful that I managed to feel well enough to wash my dishes and clean my kitchen.  (No more eating off of paper towels for me or eating soup out of a latter mug.)
  • I’m grateful for being able to breathe easier, especially at night now that my new humidfier arrived and I got around to setting it up.  (It is also insanely adoreable because it loks like a cow.  I call him Curtis.)
  • I am grateful that even though I only have like seven followers on Bloglovin that I still feel immensely supported by those handful of bloggers who offer words of encouragement, witty banter, offers to introduce me to their friends when I go to my next appointment, etc.  Just lots of support all around that I otherwise wouldn’t be recieving.
  • I am grateful for waking up from a long nap only to get an email to find out that I won a big give away ! (Yay, me.)

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    Snoopy is just dancing and offering up some sound advice today !  So, for now I have my one task that I need to complete for the day and then I will try and relax (or make travel plans – relaxing doesn’t come naturally).  I am also going to keep working on noticing the things that I should be grateful for – even if they are the smallest things.

  (I have linked this post with the lovely Kate from ReloKate for the last of her Daily Diaries.  It was a wonderful run and I was introduced to some awesome new blogs along the way.)

(I will also be updating my GiveForward page/campaign as I am now one month post op and scheduled for my first month follow up !)

Falling In Love With A Frenchman & Catching A Case Of Wanderlust

It was 1995 (please don’t do the math trying to figure out how old I am -thanks in advance) and it was a year set to be a year of many firsts.  My small town high school had fund raised and some us (including me) had thrown in our summer work money for what was set to be the best adventure (as of our yet brief life).  A spring break in France !  Two jam packed weeks of seeing Paris, Provence, the Cote d’Azur, and even a little venturing into Italy and Switzerland.

The first few days were packed with so much excitement and touring of Paris that jet lag had no chance of catching up with any of us – not even our bickering chaperones.

Eiffel Tower 1st day

     After Paris we packed up to begin our journey down into Provence for the remaining segments of our tour. Initially in Paris we had an Irish tour guide, but while he was nice I think we got stuck with the one Irish man with no charm.  (Or he might have been intimated by the fourteen teenage girls in our group.  If that was the case I don’t blame him.)  Some one with their wits about them had the foresight before we began our journey to Provence to have a French tour guide accompany the Irish guide with us for the remainder of the trip.

Swoon.  Now do that collectively for the other thirteen girls and three female teacher/chaperones who were middle age.  This man had charm and panache. More so he had je ne sais quoi.  Yes, Sebastien was the epitome of je ne sais quoi (for 1995).

Sebastien & I Nice

     Ahh, those remaining eleven days felt like an eternity and that there was an adventure to be had around every corner.  From the simple pleasure of strolling a village market, walking along the shores of the Mediterranean, and even dancing the night away at a discotheque.  (Do people still use the word discotheque ?)  I am not sure why Sebastien choose to befriend me out of all of the others present, but I am forever glad that he did.  I learned the simple pleasures of a picnic in a lovely park, that I could step out of my comfort zone to dance the night away, and more importantly he was the first to tell me I was shy, but not at all quiet.

  Oops, sorry I think we are missing some mood music. Let me fix that to one of Sebastien and mine favorites.

Sebastien & I Monaco

     It was an amazing eleven days and ten nights.  Although I never saw Sebastien again in person I can not say that he has not frequently crossed my mind.  Especially if I am setting off on a new adventure or getting acquainted with another man named Sebastien (yes, there are some blessings in disguise living next to Quebec).

     Besides becoming absolutely smitten with Sebastien it was at this time I would awaken a little spirit inside me that eternally craves to travel.  The wanderbug !  If you catch it you can never get rid of it!

     Which is why barely more than two months after returning from the spring adventure I set off for another of many.  This time it would be living abroad in Germany as an exchange student.  Did I mention I spoke no German ?

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     I am linking this post with the lovely Emma from Adventures of a London Kiwi.  Along with some other amazing bloggers such as Kelly from Around The World In 80 Pairs of Shoes and Rebecca from Run A Way Kiwi.

Being A Mess Is Exhausting

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     The above picture that I found on Pinterest pretty much sums up my week.  It has been a brutal week physically, emotionally, and mentally.  I am not sure if I am being to hard on myself or not, but I really accomplished nothing this week because I was so wiped out.  I can count the tasks that I barely passed muster on one hand.  I managed to call my doctor’s, remember to bathe, and remember to take my medications.  I attempted to grocery shop and I just came home with a bunch of mishmash ingredients that just don’t seem appealing to my palate in the least bit.

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     That pup, above, with his head in his feed bowl.  That has been me for over a week now.  I just have no appetite, which is very unusual for me.  I’ve been more tired then ever.  I think it is from a mix of emotions, pain, and adjusting to medications.  (Am I the only one that has ever had a major surgery only to be second guessing everything ?)  Either way I woke up one afternoon from a nap only to find that I spilled my water I had on my nightstand and somehow I managed to spill my half eaten bowl of applesauce at the head of my bed on the side I don’t sleep on.  I know what I have been eating has been pretty bland in order to balance out the nausea, but I don’t remember taking applesauce with me to bed.  I never eat in bed.  I don’t have a television in the bedroom either because (you know) I am giving all that healthy living stuff a whirl.  The only upside of not having an appetite or energy to eat is that I have lost eight pound in barely two weeks.

     It is not helping that I feel like a complete failure for getting so little accomplished over the last week or so.  I thought that I could at least get two blog posts posted, but that never happened beyond brief rough drafts.  I still have an email to reply to and a couple letters to write.  (Maybe I just hate non-form writing.)  I never pressured my doctor’s to call me back even though when I called them on Monday I made it pretty clear to their staff I needed return calls and appointments scheduled.  I am not sure if that is me giving up, having a lack of energy, or just not wanting to bother the doctors repeatedly.  (I really don’t want to be labelled as one of those hypochondriac patients.  Although, maybe I already am considering I spelled hypochondriac right on the very first try.)

  I wish I could see a bright side to all fo this right now, but my gut is telling me next week is going to be a rough one.  I have to remember to keep my emotions in check.  It is times like these that is really sucks to be alone.  Oh, well.  I will trudge on through.

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     Now, I am off to curl up in bed and see if I can finish watching Hocus Pocus for the first time.  I have been trying since Halloween afternoon, but I keep taking “cat naps” while it is playing.

     I’ve linked this post with the lovely Kate from ReloKate for her awesome Daily Diaries link up.

Celebrate Yourself and Save Your Sanity – Wellness Wednesday

Well, another late night rolling into morning.  It seems this insomnia and pain combination has me whipped or have the sleep cycle of a five month old.  (I am silently praying for the sleep cycle of a five month old because that means that I will grow out of shortly and naturally.)

One promise I made to myself I made last year just after my birthday was that from then on out I was going to start celebrating my birthday’s and holidays whether or not I was alone.  Up until that point I went almost two decades without celebrating anything.  It is not that I did not want to or that I grew up not celebrating these events, but by the time I was in my late teens my family was gone.  Often that meant for me just another day with the exception of not having to go to school or work.

It is no exaggeration to say that I have been on an emotional roller coaster for the past couple of years.  The lack of interaction with people,the loss of a loved one, the length of time it took to get a proper diagnosis, and then the surgery all took a solid toll on me.  However, in the back of my mind I still had that promise, which I made to myself.  I also believe now that even the littlest things that you can do to treat yourself is a way to save your sanity.

Well, with those 3 3/4 days to stew on before surgery I had a little time to plan how I was going to celebrate.

     Did I mention that the day of my surgery was also my birthday.  Yeah, double whammy.  That also meant that whatever I ate had to be really good because come midnight I could no longer eat or drink.  There is also no such thing as a 100% guaranteed surgery, especially since the surgery I was to have is still in its infancy.  That was when I decided to to devote Sunday to finding a tasty sweet to fill in as my birthday cake and partial dinner (I was operating on a strict budget).

     Anyways, armed with my map and quarters for the bus I headed for a beacon of the lifestyle blogger.  Otherwise known as Laduree.  I wanted to find out what all the fuss was over these macaron’s as I have never had any type of confection like these before.

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     Success on the first try.  Although I have to admit that the ladies working in the store can be kind of intimidating.  (Side note – I don’t think they are aware that they are not the only ones that can speak French.  Of course moi, did not speak up.  If I did it probably would have corrected them in German.)

     Treats in hand I headed back to the hotel.  Straight up to the room for me where I promptly cued up Netflix and reheated the previous nights dinner of Chicken Parmigiana, bread, and freshened the salad.  (I’m still not sure how that restaurant stays in business selling such good food with large portions and low prices.  If I remember correctly the place was called Nick’s.)

  Anyways, after eating a bit of a hot meal like good adult I decided to give the sweets a go and see if they lived up to the hype.

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     I choose the Tarte Passion Framboise, which has a sweet pastry crust filled with passion fruit cream, and is topped with the sweetest raspberries that I have ever tasted.  I also picked up some of the highly raved about macarons in a few different varieties.  I liked them.  The salted caramel and lemon were my favorite, but I would never go out of my way again to get them or spend the money on them.  They just are not worth it in my opinion.  (Have lifestyle bloggers not heard of Cheddar Bay Biscuit’s  They are free and unlimited with a purchase of any entree.)  Now that tarte, well that was absolutely heaven wrapped in a pink box and at a price point that not even The Outback could compete with.  That tarte lingers in my dreams and was the best impulse buy ever !

  I rounded out the night before surgery my surgery staring at the East River, listening to the Gilmore Girl’s as white noise, and feeling a little bit satisfied with myself that I decided to give myself one day to take care of me on things I would consider indulgences or to celebrate just another day.  It can be a constant battle to remind one’s self that they are worth it when the chips are down.  I just regret that I am realizing it at such a late stage in life.

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     The above picture was a great find on Pinterest.  It really is true that you need to take time to find what makes you happy.  I needed a few days despite how miserable physically and emotionally I was feeling to remember I was capable of traveling solo and smiling randomly.  Who is to say that that little bit of happiness and confidence boost didn’t help me pull through surgery easier.

  If you have any suggestions for Wellness Wednesday’s I would love to hear them.  If you have any questions about my surgery or Idiopathic Intracranial Hypertension please feel free to ask me and I will try to answer your question the best I can.  I do not want to where you out on that topic, but that is the only health issue that I have had to study/deal with for over a year.

  I still currently have my GiveForward Campaign.  It has yet to have a successful launch most likely because of my small social network.  I post updates on my IIH and doctor visits in the hopes of attracting visitor’s as well.  It can be found at the above highlighted link.

New York City on a Budget – The American Museum of Natural History

I was on a very strict (some would say downright frugal budget) when I was in New York City for medical care earlier this month.  However, I found myself in a peculiar situation.  My surgery had been postponed by three days because I needed to be on blood thinners prior to surgery.  That gave me three days to obsess and worry in my hotel room.  However, the lovely Nurse Practitioner in the office I was visiting and even the Doctor suggested I get out a little. Well, I took their advice to the extreme.  I packed 3 3/4 days full of activities that I never thought I would do because I thought the cost would be unreasonable and I would be forever lost in New York City.  Neither of those fears proved true (well, at least beyond manageable).

Had I had more time to plan I probably would have had more of an organized tour of the island or a better sense of what was important for me to see, but prior to the delay I had no plan other than the directions to my train station, hotel, and hospital.

That afternoon with bellman approved leaflets in hand I began to form a loose itinerary and I had no idea this museum was in New York City.  What a fool I am.  This is actually one of the world’s largest and most celebrated museums, which is located on the Upper West Side of the City across from Central Park.

American Museum of Natural History

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     It contains quite the diverse collection of Natural History pieces, which we today would call natural science, in over 25 buildings and 1.6 million square feet.  I was there for four hours and was only able to see some of two floors, which meant I left two floors completely unexplored and I didn’t even entertain the planetarium or special exhibits.  This is definitely an all day activity if you are a museum / history buff like myself.

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Milstein Hall of Ocean Life

The highlight of this exhibit being the 94 foot long blue whale suspended from the ceiling.

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Spitzer Hall of Human Origins

     This was an excellent exhibit containing many facets of the development of human origins.  It progressively displays a human fossil record right up through DNA.  Also, displayed is a cast of the full size fossil of the 3 million year old Lucy skeleton.  There are interactive exhibits in this hall and I noticed that this hall is mainly geared to much older (high school aged) children and up.

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Hall of Biodiversity

     Includes exhibits on animals that are currently endangered, ie the Siberian Tiger.  It was excellent at showcasing the beauty and differences amongst animals that inhabit the earth.  It is also a walk through diorama  in which it depicts one of the earths most diverse ecosystems.  That system being the Dzanga-Sangha rain forest.

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Northwest Coast Indians

     This particular exhibit is currently the oldest exhibit at the museum.  I believe that it originally opened in 1900.  It features artifacts to those of Native Tribes belonging to the area of present day Southern Alaska, Northern Washington, and parts of British Columbia.

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The Bernard Family Hall of North American Mammals

     While this hall might have originally opened in the 1940’s it is fresh and vibrant as it recently went under a selective restoration in 2012.  Each of the dynamic dioramas have text nearby explaining each individual exhibit.  This was a jewel to explore.

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Theodore Roosevelt Memorial Hall

     Yes, at this point it was closing time and announcements were being made to have people begin to leave the buildings.  I took a moment to rest on a bench next to Teddy (there was an actual life size sculpture of Teddy Roosevelt) and get a selfie !  My very first selfie – yay or nay me – I can not quite figure it out.  I than took the above shots of the ceiling which were much more stunning in person than my mini iPad could ever capture.  I wish I would have captured the marble rotunda entrance on the second floor, which is actually the main entrance.  It was absolutely exquisite.

Now for some basic details: It is located at Central Park West at 79th Street, New York, New York 10024, Phone Number 212-769-5100, and its website address is www.amnh.org .

     It has quite the detailed website that lists almost everything that you could possibly want to know – the downside being that it can be quite overwhelming trying to locate exactly what you are looking for.  My advice keep digging it is most likely there.

    Suggested admission price is $22.00.  If you wish to pay less you can ( I am embarrassed to admit that I paid less, but not insultingly less).  If you do wish to pay less keep in mind that you must purchase your tickets in person.  Also, this is just a run of the mill General Admission ticket, so it will not entitle you to an IMAX or Hayden Planetarium Space Show.  I would not worry about that as there is plenty to discover.

     A plus is that they offer free public tours led by knowledgeable volunteers about six times a day that cover a wide swath of the museum depending on your guide and groups interests.  The negative of that, well, I waited patiently for a tour to begin to get a lay of the land so to speak.  I was joined by the native New Yorker tour guide who seemed nice enough and enthusiastic.  His enthusiasm was the lost amongst the the group of Kiwi’s who joined us.  When he asked if everyone was okay to take stairs they all shouted YES ! No body saw me shaking my head no.  I couldn’t manage stairs (still not that great at them).  Off they went and off my feebly and short legs went after the Kiwi’s and Native New Yorker whom were never to be found again.

  I definitely had a bit of a meltdown because I gave up precious time waiting for that tour and that was the last tour that afternoon.  The staff was pretty indifferent to my concern and questions, so I would suggest plan well in advance.

  A plus is that they are offering programs for children with autism separately and then offer regular integration with the patrons.  A negative no programs for adults.  Baby steps because at least they are doing more than most institutions.

     While their cafe’s are expensive don’t overlook the fact that you are literally at the doorstep of Central Park.  You can pack your own little picnic (which you can check you bag in at coat check at the museum) and have a nice, inexpensive picnic in one of the most talked about parks in the world.  That is what I did.  I had a couple items in my hotel fridge and I bought a pastry along the way, so that I could have a picnic after my museum visit.  I think the grand total of that was under nine dollars.  (I bought two pastries, okay.)  You also have the options of the food carts lining the park and I did notice a couple of chain restaurants surrounding the museum area.

     I have linked this post with the wonderful Kate from Relokate for Daily Diaries.

One Lovely Blog Award

I still haven’t quite figured out an established pattern or theme for my blog, yet.  (Many apologies to my four loyal readers.)  However, I remembered during a bad bout of insomnia this past Friday that just before my surgery the sweetest southern California gal living in northern Sweden, Bailie, from The Hemborg Wife, had nominated me for The One Lovely Blog Award.  She has been such a great support throughout my whole ordeal (she has got me intrigued enough to add California and Sweden as potential travel destination in the far future.)

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     I thought that it would be a lovely way to be productive during this bout of insomnia and answer some pretty unique questions that I probably wouldn’t ever think to write about.

     First, lets see if I can come up with seven unique or random facts about myself.

  1. I have yet to figure out if I am a Millennial or a Gen X’er based on the conflicting birth years constantly being thrown out.  Either way, if you ask me I am far from the typical narcissist of those two groups and I also display the unusual characteristic of a German Oma when it comes to my place being quiet during quiet hours (so not hip, right).
  2. I don’t wear prints and have very little printed linens in my house.  I love crisp, monochromatic color schemes.  Give me all your green, purples, and blues !
  3. Apparently I have a freakishly short inseam to the point that when I shop for pants or jeans I actually have to purchase capri’s in order to get a semi-good fit !  (If anyone knows of a merchant that sells regular jeans with a 25 inch inseam I would love to hear about them.)
  4. I can not sleep without some form of white noise.  In my apartment I have a white noise machine going 24/7 and have been known to turn on the fan in the evenings (even if it is winter and it is minus 33 degree’s outside).
  5. I can suffer from severe panic attacks.  Most people don’t understand them or won’t tolerate them.  Interestingly when I am traveling ny myself I still get the panic attacks, sometimes even worst, but they go by faster and I can carry on with my day and plans.  (I chalk it up to not having to explain my situation for needing a five minute break to dumb people.)
  6. Despite my love of quiet time as much as the next Oma and living in Germany I have never acquired a real taste for beer or any alcoholic beverage for that matter.  I had many awkward conversations over the last couple of weeks with doctors when they asked if my balance felt off as if I was drunk.  I had to reply, “I don’t know, I’ve never been drunk.”
  7. In light of number six’s revelation I now must admit that I was one of those students in school and university who did everything, but socialize and network.  (Yeah, I am paying for that small social network now, but I wonder about how much the people who I went to school with who have 500 Facebook friends are paying as well.  Surely, you can not have that many meaningful relationships.  Voyeuristic, yes, meaningful, no.)

Ahh, now I am on to the part where I answer seven questions about myself that Bailie has given me.

Who or what has inspired you to travel ?  Two fold answer.  First, my grandparents inspired me to travel because they were always up for a good road trip.  Even if that meant driving eight hours across New York State to Niagara Falls, driving all the way from New York to Colorado to visit their youngest daughter, or one of our frequent trips to Charm City – Baltimore, MD.  Second, a handful of high school staff telling me to get out and see the world because they had faith in me.  After that first discussion with them I was using my summer work and baby sitting money to pay for a class spring break to France.  I was hooked on travel !

Backpack or suitcase ?  Backpack if I am only going away for a few days, but anything longer I try to keep it to a small carry suitcase with wheels.  I got to be realistic.  I know I need outfits, but I also know I have nobody to lug the darn thing around for me.  (Side note, I just recently discovered the Red Caps that Amtrak provide for free at Penn Station in NYC are awesome !  Yes, they are free, but seriously they are so awesome and bend over backwards to help you – that you really should give them a tip.)

Song that epitomizes travel for you.  Oh, this is such a tough questions.  I am going to select a few because, well, I am an only child and this is my blog.  I adore the entire “The French Album”, by Celine Dion.  Our bus driver for my spring break trip played this non-stop from Paris to Nice over fourteen days and I still play it on occasions.  Bon Jovi, This Ain’t A Love Song because I remember it being a huge hit the first time I lived in Germany and it always came on the radio during our road trips.  Tim McGraw, Everywhere.  That song got a lot of air play as I drove back and forth to college past the cornfields, lakes, and mountains.  It is just a song that makes me want to hop in a jeep and start heading south or for the coast.  Finally, just give me so good, ole James Taylor.  Take your pick from Country Road, Carolina in My Mind, Mexico, and Something In The Way She Moves.

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What period of time would you most like to visit ?  I would most like to visit the late nineties or spring 2009.  Those were the two time I was truly the happiest.

What’s the strangest food that you really want to try ?  I am not really an adventurous eater, but there are a few different types of food that I have been wanting to try that seem to be relatively common.  I would be interested in trying Indian, Thai, and Korean BBQ.  I’ve also always wanted to try oysters, which I think I would have no problem with since I love escargot, mussels, etc.  I lack the confidence to do activities like these on my own, so unless I found a pal or a step by step guide I don’t see them in my foreseeable future.

Beach, mountain, or jungle ?  Definitely not the jungle !  While I desperately want to visit and sail the Greek Isles other than that I am going to choose the mountains.  Mountains that preferably have a lovely cold, stream fed lake close by for swimming.

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Blue Mountain Lake, New York

What is your best piece of travel advice ?  It is probably very cliche, but I realized how true it is later in life.  Simply, travel and have meaningful sex often while you are young.

How do you like to unwind after a long day on the road ?  After I a long day on the road I like to come home to a clean apartment, take a nice shower or bath, and then curl up in bed with a nice playlist from Spotify (perhaps something that reminds me of my recent travel escape because lets face it those post travel depression blues often set in and I like to avoid them for as long as possible.)

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Ahh, why wasn’t I given this bathroom as an upgrade choice for my current place ?

If you had a super power, what would it be ?  Bailie’s answer was awesome and that was to never gain weight.  If that was a super power I might opt for that one as I am definitely an emotional over eater.  Since, she already took the most awesome and most overlooked super power I guess I am going to have to choose another one.  This really shouldn’t be the toughest question.  I think I would choose the power to be not so naive and to be able to more socially adept.  (I am counting that as one super power.).

Now, I get to nominate a few bloggers for this One Lovely Blog Award.  These are a few of the diverse collections of bloggers that I keep on my daily read list and try to read as much as my health allows me.

  1. Miriam, from Farm Girl.  She is a spunky German immigrant who has been living in British Columbia, Canada, I believe for over a decade.   She works in health care and lives in a pretty serene location with a load of furry animals.  She always puts a unique spin on things that makes you want to root for her or contemplate your own life.
  2. Dannielle,from ChicaDeeDee, who is originally from the FInger Lakes Region, of New York, but now lives in England with her partner Adam.  She shares her adventures around the lovely English countryside, day to day life (major milestone of just buying a house *cue applause*, and European travels.  Always a good and she is a perpetual good sport.
  3. Kelly, from Around the World In 80 Pairs of Shoes.  Kelly, is a witty Kiwi who has set up stakes just outside of London.  She is the best at chronicling Afternoon Tea’s in London and around the globe, particularly one’s that are gluten free.  She also gives some great highlights on weekend get away’s from London.  If she ever hops to my side of the pond I making sure we have Afternoon Tea together in NYC or Montreal.  If I go the other way, well will still do Afternoon Tea, but not before I see her entire closet devoted to her shoes and take a ride in her smurf mobile.
  4. Brittany, at One if By Land, Two if By B.  Brittany is lovely woman who has been undergoing some major changes in her life and she seems to handle them so well and with rays of positivity.  If I am correct she has recently loss around 100 pounds.  On top of that she is training for a half marathon, just bought a house with her husband, and works in a child therapeutic setting.  Despite all that she still managed to do a weekly post summarizing 100 days of of happiness !

*Simple rules: Add the One Lovely Blog Award Logo to your post, list seven random facts about yourself, feel free to answer the questions listed, thank the blogger who nominated you, and share the love with some bloggers you think deserve the award.

Post Surgery Rundown & Update – Wellness Wednesday

To start off, I have to say that I am exhausted.  Since I arrived home Sunday night it has been pretty easy for me to sleep a sound ten or more hours in a row.  To say the last two weeks have been overwhelming physically and emotionally would be a bit of an understatement.  (I can not highly recommend enough that you make your bed – including putting clean sheets on your bed – before you go away for an extended period of time.  It made it all so much better to crawl into my bed with my own clean, soft linen and fluffy comforter.)

sleeping fr bull all white 300 300

     I like to think that I looked as cute and relaxed out as the adorable French Bulldog above while I was catching all my zzz’s.

    I am thinking if I am going to make this blogging venture a success I should strive for a format or at least a niche.  I don’t think overly nice, naive person is going to cut it.  Nor is constantly whiny person going to cut it.  Although, I can do both with the precision of the world’s finest surgeon.

     For my first Wellness Wednesday post I thought a ramble that barely touches the medical care that I received in New York City would be a good starting point to get my feet wet with.  Here we go…..

I arrived in NYC as scheduled.  The very morning after my arrival I was off to Weill Cornell to visit with two different, specialized neurologist.  The clinical trial was explained, the risks/rewards of the surgery were explained, and so forth.  My Neuro-Radiologist was stellar, patient, and even scheduled a follow up appointment for the next day because he could “just tell” I had more questions to ask.  I would then proceed to see my Neuro-Ophthalmologist to have my visual fields tested, etc.  My visual fields actually came back better than expected, which excluded me from the Clinical Trial.  However, both doctor’s agreed that I was a candidate for the surgery given my symptoms and that most likely my visual fields had improved because I was on a high amount of Diamox that my body could not handle long term.

So, the next day I met with the wonderful Neuro-Radiologist who answered all my remaining questions.  He explained how the surgery would proceed – first the venogram and then if there was narrowing of the transverse sinus the stenting would take place.  The venogram took place on the right side of my leg via a vein (I believe), while the stenting went through my left side via my femoral artery.

Surgery did not take place until October 6th because I needed to be on blood thinners for at least three days before hand.  (I will be taking blood thinners for at least a year after the surgery, as well.)

Overall, I believe the surgery took around four hours or so.  I am still foggy about that detail.  I spent just over 24 hours in a Neuro ICU where I received excellent care.  That was followed by one more night in a regular Neuro wing before being discharged to rest at the hotel I had booked.  I wasn’t really feeling any pain that first night and was actually feeling light headed – a good sign – as the doctor’s were suggesting that the cerebral fluid might already be decreasing.  They were so encouraged by that sign they lowered my daily Diamox amount just twenty four hours after the surgery.

night room 300 300

                      ( The above picture was the view that I woke up to when I fully came through the anesthesia.)

     I did very little when I got to the hotel.  I slept (sleeping is impossible in a hospital), I cried, I stared forever at the lights of NYC from my room, I tried to venture out a little bit in the City (but I would get easily winded), so I was saved with Netflix and $7.50 large lunch specials from the Mexican restaurant that would deliver to the hotel I was staying at.

I had two last follow up appointments on Friday before I came home on Sunday.  My surgeon thought the surgery was a success, but that I needed to remember to keep on the blood thinners, don’t get pregnant, stick with my follow up appointments – especially for the MRI to check the stent placement.  The second doctor had tried to do a visual field exam, but I wasn’t to successful at it.  He didn’t write it off as the surgery was a failure, but rather I was exhausted and still taking pain medication – it really doesn’t help if you are falling asleep taking an eye test.

I am still sore, but I am not really in excruciating pain.  It is my left groin area where they entered with the catheter like device for hours and the left side of my head where the stent was placed that hurt the most, plus some general soreness.  For the soreness I find good ole Tiger Balm and Lush’s Wiccy Magic Bar works wonders.  Occasionally, I have had to take Tylenol or rarely the prescribed pain killer.

I will have a one month,three month, and so on follow ups and I am ever appreciative that I can get reach of members of the medical staff relatively easily.  I am definitely appreciative that they gave me special “cards” to carry to alert emergency medical personnel that I have specialized devices implanted in me, so they are aware that they need to reach them right away and treat me with the following precautions. (Yay, for a hospital getting things done right !)

What I wasn’t prepared for was how emotional I would be days after surgery, as if it was a traumatic event.  Hopefully, that will pass.

I will continue to give you updates on my condition to the best of my ability or until you ask me to stop (If you ask me to stop, please ask nicely.)

This truly was a brief overview of all the medical care that I received while in New York City.  I am not sure if being only one week post op is to soon to say I regret or I am glad I did the surgery.  I can say that I have noticed improvement in my symptoms despite the obvious pain of a surgical wound.  I can also say I had AMAZING medical staff (okay, there were two cranky apples, but still the percentages were in my favor).  I want to get there permission first before I name and thank them publicly.  (Yes, I know I am old fashioned.)

Also, despite the negativity that I have received regarding the fundraising via GiveForward I think that I am still going to go ahead and proceed with the Campaign.  Thirteen days in New York City was an incredible financial burden, despite insurance picking up most medical care.  I will still have those out of pocket co-pays, follow ups, travel costs, and I will definitely need new lenses as I can tell one week post surgery that my eyes are seeing a bit differently – for the better.

I would also like to be able to spread the financial help to others, especially after hearing from medical staff that there are other candidates for this surgery, but they are having a hard time coming up with funds to travel even for an initial consultation or to find a proper neuro-ophthalmologist.

Thank you for your support and reading this long winded ramble.

     Okay, time to get ready to snuggle in for the night. I don’t want to end up looking like this little fellow.

bull comp 300 300

     DISCLAIMER:  By no means am I a medical expert in Idiopathic Intracranial Hypertension / Pseudotumor Cerebri and the views I present are my own and as I understand them from medical journals and my doctors.

I have linked this post with the wonderful Kate from The Lotus Creative for Daily Diaries.

Loved By A Golden Retriever I Never Met In Person

Well, so much has happened since my last post, where I was on a train headed to New York city for major surgery.  I tried to keep some of my closest “blog friends” (hey, Bailie) up to date via Twitter and Instagram, but other than that I remained silent as a cricket because I was so overwhelmed physically and emotionally.  Honestly, I still am.

I made it home safe and sound last night after almost twelve hours of travel and slept like a baby because of the perfect combination of a pain pill and my own soft bed.  I am not sure if anyone is at all interested in what happened over the two weeks in New York city, but I’ll recap at a later date when I am feeling a bit better.  There was good and bad, but overall I don’t regret my decision and was delightfully blown away by the Big Apple.

What I would like to ask my handful of readers or any dog lovers out there is to go visit a blog called, Past My Curfew.  Mike recently lost his beloved Golden Retriever, Phoenix – best friend – adventurer – partner in crime, due to cancer.  Mike was the ultimate dog “daddy” who left no stone unturned when it came to getting help for his best friend and Phoenix just seemed to be the most loyal, loving companion in the world.  I only learned of his parting this morning as I was going through my email subscriptions.

What makes the passing of the precious Golden even more sad for me was the generosity that Phoenix and Mike had bestowed upon me.  This past June, Mike & Phoenix held a contest on their blog.  It was a very generous contest.  The prize was $100 for three individual people as well as a $300 donation to Michigan State University in the winner’s name in recognition of the University giving Phoenix an original, clean bill of health.

When I found out I was one of the winners I was ecstatic.  I knew how generous that amount was and even at that time I knew surgery might be in my future, so I was pinching my pennies.  I responded to them how grateful I was and that I would set the funds aside in case I had surgery on the horizon.  That is exactly what I did and it was so appreciated these past two weeks in New York during my medical care.

I never met Mike or Phoenix, but honestly the only thing better than winning the giveaway would have been able to meet Phoenix and get some doggie cuddles & kisses.

Okay, I am an emotional mess now.  So, maybe you might want to pop on over to Mike’s blog and offer your condolences or even more so if you are a dog owner give your fellow furry buddy some extra belly rubs and a nice, new chew toy.

Trains and Trolls

Written September 30, 2014

 So, I’m typing this on the train. I’m four hours into an eight hour train ride to New York City. It’s been years since I’ve traveled by train. The first forty-five minutes of the ride I thought that I was going to be sick. Amtrak’s Adirondack line sure does hug the banks of Lake Champlain. Let me tell you I never realized what a curvy beauty Samy Champlain is. Pity the lake is named after a man because speeding along in the train at over fifty mph hugging and rocking those curves of the shoreline only to come to abrupt stops makes my mind race with innuendos, especially from my all girl school days.

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     I’ve yet to break down and cry over what is about to happen this week.  It could possibly be that I’m distracted by the lovely scenery; big lake, rivers, sailing clubs, apple orchards, corn fields, and beaver dams. Basically ever bloggers fall dream, well except maybe the beaver dams. ( Even my two Canadian readers wouldn’t be impressed by them, but not because they think they weren’t cute rather they have common sense and know how much destruction those big critters can do.)

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     Well, beavers be damned.  As the train has now made more stops and I’m less than two hours away from my final destination the cast of characters in the carriage has doubled and diversified.  I must say the only recent doubling and diversification I’ve encountered lately was when I was combining a Pioneer Woman’s recipe and a Paula Deen recipe.  (Trust me, my hips don’t lie.)

     I’m sure  a travel blogger could give this scenic, wear your sports bra, train route a much more fitting post, but alas I am not a travel blogger – hence the need for innuendoes, bad iPad photo, a country lovingly stereotyped with a photo from Pinterest, and successfully wrapping up the topic with my hips.

     At this point I am exhausted, but I feel as though I should write at least a blurb about this topic before the evening is over.  (Please, note that this rant is not in any way directed towards the supportive bloggers that have been offering me amazing words of encouragement.)

     Brief background – I’m not huge on social media and typically used it to just follow companies, news, talented people, etc.  Basically I used it as a way to keep up to date with current events.  Then I discovered blogs and what a diverse cross group of people and information I could about. I could, laugh, cry, travel, be inspired, be crafty (pinfully) all in one blog or in a two dozen.

     My reluctance towards social media primarily comes from my work experience and seeing how easily it can be manipulated and/or destroy parts of one’s life.

     When I found out I had to have surgery and my doctor was recommending a shunt I went into Beast Researcher mode and found this less invasive approach.  My doctor found the study.  We organized the insurance.  I was still short for traveling and out of pocket medical.

     I JUMPED without looking (atypical for me).  I booked a blogging consult and started a blog.  If there was any hope of raising funds for myself and possibly extra for others than I needed to do something just short of drastic as creating a Facebook page right after I ran naked through the town square.  I wrote honestly.  I wrote sarcastically.  I wrote from loneliness.  I wrote as I am !  I’m not sure why I have to justify myself at my age to complete strangers.  (I just don’t have thick skin.)

     I’ve put my best efforts into my newborn blog.  I never professed having technical knowledge or being a social media wizard.  Thus, I took to linking my blog to my Twitter account and to my Pinterest account.  That is when it began.  Only four posts in and the Trolls came out of the wood works.  There were the rude, new Twitter followers, which hurt, but could be dealt with because I could easily block them.

     What surprised me was the rude and nasty messages I got on Pinterest.  First off, I didn’t even know Pinterest had a messaging system.  All it took was one “local” business woman to discover my Adirondack board and my profile. There’s nothing shameful or embarrassing about my boards.  What perturbed me the most was the fact that this woman and a couple other business owners decided to send direct messages with, well, to put it more elegantly than them, was I should get off my *ss, get a job and I would have insurance.  From there it carried on to how I was one of the “drags” on the community and economy.

     Firstly, I’m not going to name these business people.  I think ultimately there attitude will be the determining factor of whether or not their businesses survive.  Secondly, I don’t think they fully read my blog or GiveForward Campaign.  In those I never mentioned not having insurance or not working.  I have pretty decent health insurance, but I have co-pay’s, significant travel expenses, and those silly illness related items like glasses that just aren’t covered by insurance.  I have taken time off from work to prepare and then recuperate.  Before that I admit I was working, but no where’s near full time.  My body and mind just could not handle it.

      Finally, for the troll asking why I wanted to raise so much it is because simply put you will never know what a twenty percent co-pay can look like until you provide your employee’s with health insurance !  (Sorry, readers that will be my only mean spirited comment.). Again, any extra was to help with the travel costs to/from New York City as I will need repeated follow ups and I’d love to give any remaining leftover to other suffering with IIH and needing to travel. Specialists are few and far between.

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     When did trolls stop being the loveable toy from my youth ?

     I’m going to be semi-brave and publish this post days after my NYC arrival and hopefully recovering well from surgery, but with enough pain meds to ignore the trolls.  After, that I’m not sure, which direction my little blog should head in.  Maybe a food blogger or swing the opposite end of the spectrum and delete my accounts .  Either way it has been an eye opening experience for the food and the bad.  So strange to find so many comforting voices from states and countries thousands of miles away.

I Am Alone That Doesn’t Mean I Stop My Life Completely, Right ?

Yesterday afternoon I thought I was being a good neighbor and I took an elderly neighbor out to lunch and than I proceeded to drive her around our little community so that she could go to the grocery store, drugstore, post office, bank, and so on.  I was having one of my “better days physically” and it was nice to be out of the apartment on what was a lovely fall day.  However, for a small community where the main shopping area is a mere mile circumference this trip took us four hours.  I didn’t complain.  I didn’t complain when she started telling me about what she had heard on FOX news this morning while she was getting ready for our shopping trip.  I just kept trying to enjoy the sunshine, the beautiful fall colors on the mountains, watching the waves on the lake, and oddly giggling because I kept singing in my head the theme song for Mr. Rogers Neighborhood.  (He surely would have approved of my behavior yesterday.  Although he probably wouldn’t approve of me bragging about my behavior now – so lets carry on.)

rogers morals

      While at lunch she began, well, I am not sure what her intentions were of mentioning this to me were.  I am assuming they were of genuine concern.  She had mentioned she had heard on FOX news (of course) that a terrorist attack was imminent in New York City and that she was worried about me going alone with the new threats.  I told her not to worry about the new threats because I was pretty confident that if they were even vaguely credible New Yorkers would be on guard.  (Like how I recently got a new FedEx driver, yet after a delivery a neighbor called to see if everything was alright.  Take into account this neighbor lives 3/4 a mile away from me.  I think it is just a New York state kind of thing.)

     She then began asking me questions about how I was going to take care of myself after I was discharged from the hospital.  I told her I would be staying at an okay hotel just a couple miles from the hospital, so I could get there quick if need be and there was a pharmacy and doctors on call 24/7.  I told her I was scared because this is major surgery and because I would be alone afterwards with no idea how sore I will be or if it will be traumatic for me.  Other than that I really wasn’t scared, but more anxious.  I am a naturally anxious person.  Through in some brain surgery and the largest US city it is the cue for the perfect storm of panic attacks !

     I shifted the subject and told her about one of the doctor’s most recent patients and how she felt well after about five days and she was able to do some light activities.  I told if I felt like that I might want to try something “touristy”, but very easy to celebrate not only a successful surgery, but to celebrate my birthday.  (My birthday falls during the time I am down there.)  I told her the nurse at the hospital had even suggested going to the Empire State Building would be very simple and inexpensive.  I mentioned I might want to try to find macarons to celebrate my birthday (plus I want to find out why everyone seems to be going crazy over these confections.)

     She was absolutely shocked !  I thought that I was going to have to pick her jaw up from the table at lunch.  She was asking me why would I want to do those things by myself and wouldn’t I rather have someone with me to do those activities with.  I told of course I would, but I don’t.  I don’t have anyone to be with me after surgery, but I still have to do it.  She agreed with that.  However, she just couldn’t wrap her mind around me being a tourist by myself.  She asked if I was scared to take a bus or taxi in New York if I went to the Empire State Building by myself.  I said yes, but I will do it anyways.  She wanted to know what I would do if I needed help.  I told her I would stop and ask someone, call my hotel, look on the internet, cry, or if all else fail perhaps try Selena’s deployment of a Princess Bubble.

Rogers find the helpers

     What I am trying to say can really be summed up in this cliche picture I found on Pinterest.

storm to pass learn dance

     I m going to be brutally honest just like Jerry Maguire’s first fiance.  It sucks big time being alone and being self reliant year after year.  For the most part I accept that.  It is easy to tell myself it is because I am type A or an only child or choose to live in a rural community with no like minded people.  It is just as easy for me to subtract those circumstances to remind myself that I came from a small family, have always been socially awkward, and just get flat out emotionally exhausted by people because I invest what I wish they would invest in me.

  For the most part though I am okay by myself and I definitely think that I handle being alone better than most people my age or younger.  It still aches though, but so does dancing too hard to the loud music of my choice !

  I’ll close with some cliche, yet witty Pinterest pictures.

   budda baby alone                 lonliest damage wiset