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Some Stuff.

24 Apr

Here’s, a fast update on my Costco/Kroger budget attemtps. You may remember my goal was $200 monthly at Costco, and $50 weekly at Kroger. Well the Costco trips have been more like $278, and the Kroger has been more like $64 (in one recent case it was $96, but we’ll blame that on needing cat litter and dog food). Whenever my grocery bill is more than I expected I always attribute it to a pet cost. It’s easy to blame the animals – they have no idea what’s going on.

"Huhh??"

“Kiwi food for pay dollar money? Huhh???”

 

I would post a picture of my cat, but she won’t sign the photo release. I’m also not allowed to look her directly in the eye, so that makes things difficult too.

So, I’m attempting to learn about essential oils to combat my anxiety issues, which is in turn, causing me more anxiety. The whole thing reminds me heavily of when I first started looking into cloth diapers. Oh, so many words. Article upon article, each with a dozen links to more articles. How far into the future do we have to get before that smell-o-vision technology is available? It would be really helpful if I could experience these oils while I’m feeling overwhelmed at learning about them. That would be the true test. When I speak to people about essential oils, I find this: one-third swear by them for any and all ailments, another third think they’re basically scented water placebos, and everyone else just shrugs. Up until very recently, I was a shrugger. However I’m at a point with my OCD/Anxiety where I have to do something new, and I have absolutely no interest in anti-anxiety medication. The whole train wreck is loads better right now than it’s been in months (since the Moh’s surgery), but I know that’s because I’ve recently had an assortment of medical testing done, producing a temporary peace of mind that my body is functioning as it should. That will go away eventually and I’ll be back to scrutinizing both sides of my rib cage in the mirror for 20 minutes, obsessing over why they’re not perfectly symmetrical. Confession: that has already happened. So maybe oils will help. Plus, yes – I am going to make an appointment to talk to someone who doesn’t already love me, to get some objective counseling. You guessed it…that makes me anxious too.

You may wonder why someone who knows and loves Jesus, from whom all peace and joy flows, would suffer from anxiety and worry. I don’t know. I will say I’m usually safe during times of centered prayer, or when I’m immersed in the culture of my amazing church, or when I’m deep in conversation with treasured friends, or during peaceful moments at home with my family. My anxiety ultimately creeps in when I least expect it and jumps on me, like some crappy snake. I never know when it’s going to be there until it’s there.

I believe God has given me access to tools to combat this. Maybe the tools are essential oils, maybe it’s a counselor, maybe it’s something else I haven’t discovered yet. Either way, He’s with me, I can feel it as clearly as I can feel the clothes I’m wearing.

 

anxiety

Ha!

 

Recovery

15 Jan

So it’s been almost 2 weeks since I had Moh’s and plastic surgery. Recovery has had its ups and downs, I’ll be honest with you. The first 4 or 5 days I struggled with what I would classify as mild depression. I really didn’t want to go anywhere, definitely didn’t want to see anyone (or rather, didn’t want them to see me).  I had a lot of time to sit and think about my mortality and the fact that my body is basically a ticking time bomb. My hypochondria flared up:

Me: What else is wrong with me? 

Self: Probably something. What is this on your neck, right by the surgery site?

Me: Hmm. Feels like a swollen lymph node.

Self: Or a neck tumor. Better go to the doctor. You’re probably in big trouble.

Me (after going to the doctor): Doctor says it’s a lymph node after all, probably related to the surgery, and should go away.

Self: She’s wrong. Tumor. Plus you’re probably going to get the flu.

So it went on like that for a week or so, me obsessing about everything I could see and most of what I couldn’t. My OCD intensified. I normally keep it in check, and you would probably never notice it unless you came to my house and observed me doing something like mindlessly adjusting the kitchen faucet so that it points to the exact middle of the two sink basins, or organizing my childrens’ play kitchen so that all “hot” play food is in the stove compartment and all “cold” play food is in the refrigerator compartment (Yes, I do these things daily). Very mild OCD can be a quirky personality trait, or at the very least help with organization. Severe OCD is a debilitating life-ruiner. I have no desire to go there, or even come close, which is why I’ve been working very hard to address the signs of worsening OCD before they have a chance to completely take over.

I’m completely thankful for competent and kind doctors, for good medical insurance, and prayers from many. And honestly, the amazing feedback I got from my previous post meant the absolute world to me, I’ll just tell you. My friends and family (and even one or two strangers!) lifted me up with comments, texts, and emails. A bunch of people told me that I wasn’t alone – they’d had similar experiences, and felt the same way I did. I’m willing to bet that I’m not the only one who has struggled emotionally with the after effects, either.

So, why has it been hard?

I have a theory about why the week following my surgeries was so difficult.

I couldn’t laugh.

I could barely smile.

This was me, at my most cheery:

Maybe she's laughing on the inside.

Maybe she’s laughing on the inside.

 

Good grief, I hated not laughing.  Toward the end of the week that I had stitches I came to dread something funny coming to my attention. The act of smiling hurt and I began obsessing that my scar wouldn’t heal correctly if I even tried.

Isn’t that sad?

Have you ever counted the number of times you smile and/or laugh in any given day? I haven’t, but I definitely took it for granted. I realize now what an astounding gift laughter is.

It’s probably no coincidence that I didn’t truly feel like myself until my stitches were removed and I could smile and laugh once more. Isn’t it amazing? Laughter has been my most effective tool in recovery.

I’m sorry this post isn’t funny. It’s anti-funny. I tried to make it at least a little humerous, but it just didn’t really work out. I’m happy to release these negative issues, though. Plus I warned you in the title that this blog wouldn’t be all sunshine. Here’s your occasional cloud cover! I’ll get back to the ray of sunshine part now.

I’ll leave you with a pic of me, 13 days post-surgery. I’m wearing no makeup, and there is no filter on the pic. Way to go, Prominent Facial Surgeon!

can't complain!

can’t complain!

 

xoxo

The one where I had skin cancer

5 Jan

So, on January 2, 2014 I had two facial surgeries. The first surgery was to remove skin cancer cells from the space between my upper lip and my nose, and the second surgery (plastic) was to repair the damage done by the first surgery. Here’s how it happened.

Back in September I went to the dermatologist for what I thought was a suspicious bump on my scalp. Cute story: I have skin that, if left in the sun for longer than 10 minutes, will burst into flames, so I’m on guard about every new bump or discoloration that pops up on my body. So after a few days of hanging upside down over the bathroom mirror trying to see my scalp, I finally booked some time with my dermatologist to see what was going on. She tells me, after looking at my head for less than a second, that the mysterious bump is an infected hair follicle and nothing to worry about. I exhaled for the first time in days. I figure since I’m there, I’ll get my money’s worth and ask her a few other questions.

I had had a very very small black dot above my lip for months. Six, maybe eight. I was convinced it was a blackhead. I normally have pretty clear skin, acne-wise (holla, Noxzeema!), so I was confused at why it wasn’t going away. I asked her if she thought I would need to get special blackhead cleanser to make it go away. She looked at the spot, made a face, and leaned waaaaay in with her little magnifying glass/light thing. She made another face and said “hmm. I would let me biopsy that if I were you.”

As you can imagine, I’ve had a number of skin abnormalities removed, frozen, scraped, what-have-you, over the years. Doesn’t really bother me too much, so we did the biopsy with little fanfare. She remarked at how teeny the sample was and said it was probably nothing to worry about and she definitely didn’t want me losing sleep over it. The biopsy took all of the teeny dot away, so once it healed up in a week or so, there was absolutely nothing there to the naked eye. I kind of forgot about it.

Until I got the call. Basal Cell Carcinoma. I would need Moh’s Surgery. I would probably need to see a plastic surgeon afterwards, depending on how many cancer cells there were. SURPRISE!

Now, my mom has had two Moh’s surgeries herself, so believe  me when I tell you that talking to her was the ONLY thing keeping me hinged at this point. Here’s how Moh’s is done, in case you don’t know: The surgeon numbs the patient with local anesthesia, and removes a small amount of skin from the offending area. The sample is taken immediately to be analyzed to see if there are any remaining cancer cells. Patient waits. If cancer cells are found, surgeon removes more skin, and the process is repeated.

Going into the procedure, I was dauntlessly sure I would only need one pass with the knife. You can’t even SEE anything!  Plus I was in denial that I would have to do plastic surgery. I had previously discussed with my doctor the hope that, if I only needed one removal, I could maybe get away without it. “I can live with a small scar”, I said. Truthfully I was terrified of the plastic surgery because I knew I would have to be put to sleep for the operation. I’ve never had to experience general anesthesia before and the thought of helplessly losing conciousness crippled me with fear.

Well, NOPE to all of that. Guess how many dates with the knife I went on to remove a bunch of angry cells that were invisible? THREE. More than  my mom needed for angry spots she could actually see, more than either of us ever thought I would need, more than would let me escape the plastic surgeon. I had a hole in my face about the size of an M&M.

So I was booked that evening with one of the prominent facial plastic surgeons in Texas. My amazing wonderful best friend Michelle took my kids without hesitation, and my amazing wonderful husband drove me to the hospital in Plano. I trembled the entire way, trying to figure a way out of this.

Hospital bracelet on my wrist, one step closer. Hospital gown, another step closer, hair-net, a particularly unfortunate step closer. IV in arm, it’s over. No matter how much I struggle, they have access to my bloodstream now. I wonder if I’m being crazy. My husband grips my hand and remarks at how cold it is. He cups my IV’d hand to his mouth and blows warm breath on it, which makes me want to cry. I ask him if he’s worried about me. He says “Yes, of course.” This somehow makes me tremble harder. They bring me warm blankets to quell the shivering.

Prominent Facial Surgeon came in to talk to me. Here’s how it went:

Me: I’m freaking out. Do we have to put me to sleep?

PFS: ‘fraid so. You don’t wanna be awake for this, trust me.

Me: What if I don’t wake back up?

PFS: You will. Everyone does. I promise you’ll be fine.

Me: No! Don’t promise!! On Grey’s Anatomy whenever the doctor promises the patient they’ll be fine, they die!

PFS: <laughing> Oh please! Let’s not talk about how fake that show is.

(Anesthesiologist comes in)

A: You ready?

Me: No, I’m scared of being put to sleep

A: Do you get scared at night when you fall asleep?

Me: Well, no, but that’s different. I have control over that.

A: It’s not that different, really.

Me: What’s the name of whatever you’re using to incapacitate me?

A: Propofol

Me: Um, isn’t that what killed Michael Jackson?!

A: <Cringing> Yes, but his doctor was a moron. Trust me, I give this to elderly patients, frail patients, and they all come out fine. You will be fine.

Me: If you say so. Guess I  can’t live with a hole in my face. Let’s do this.

The nurse asks if my husband and I want to say any last minute I love yousor give eachother one more kiss, which makes me want to punch her. I thought you people said I was going to live!!

They wheel me into the operating room, which looks almost exactly like the OR in Grey’s, so I no longer believe the doctor’s claim that it’s “fake”. I lay there making nervous chatter with whoever will listen to me. I wish they would just give me the dang Michael Jackson drug already! Just do it so I’ll finally stop freaking shivering! I look up at the ceiling and it starts to spin a little. I ask my anesthesiologist friend if he’s started:

A: Yep!

Me: Oh shoot! Okay, what should I do?

A: Just relax

Me: Okay, I think I’ll just close my eyes and pretend I’m falling asleep at night

A: Okay, good.

Me: Or wait – should I count back from 99?

A: You watch too much television

*****************************************************

The next thing I remember is someone calling my name. And asking me something about Christmas. They were asking me about my kids, about what I did for Christmas. I think someone said they have a 4 month old. I can’t remember what I said, but I remember feeling very well rested. I asked a nurse how long the operation had taken. Less than 30 minutes. I felt rested like I had been asleep for hours. Go propofol, I can see why Michael liked you so much.

I vaguely remember being very chatty with everyone on the way back to the recovery room. Probably just really happy to be alive. I was a little foggy, but for the most part no worse for the wear. Except I now looked like the illegitimate love child of Angelina Jolie and Frankenstein’s Monster.

Do you wanna see pics? Really? If you don’t, just stop reading. This is pretty much the end of the story. It won’t hurt my feelings if you don’t wanna see. I might not want to see them either if I were you.

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Just in case you accidentally scrolled this far, but don’t really want to see the pics, I’ll post this picture of a baby chick. You can still turn back.

chick

Cheep Cheep! Turn back!!

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Okay, here it is.

YIKES

YIKES

Scary, huh? Here’s what it looked like later that night.

Later that night

Later that night

And the next day:

a little less Angie

a little less Angie

Anyway. There it is. I never posted anything on Facebook about it because I never thought it would be such a big deal. I get my stitches out on Thursday and the goal is that in time, it will just look like a wrinkle.

Here’s the takeaway. PLEASE use sunscreen. Everywhere. Go to the dermatologist yearly, or if something pops up. Even if you think it’s nothing. And don’t use propofol unless you’re under the care of a responsible doctor.

xoxo

My New Toy

14 Jul

20120714-195531.jpg

I’ve been obsessing about the FitBit for weeks, as I often do with things right before I find a way to purchase them. Just as I was starting to believe I couldn’t live one more minute without knowing precisely how many calories I’m burning at any given moment, it arrived!

It’s cute! It’s pink! It spells my name correctly! I’m in love.

20120714-200015.jpg

The arrival was Thursday afternoon. Friday morning at 8:26 I was front and center in spin class at the Y, ready to burn an excessive number of calories and finally know for sure what that number was. Not knowing exactly how many calories I burn during spin frustrates me. Calorie estimators will give you anything from 500 to 1000 depending on your level of intensity. “Vigorous” versus “highly vigorous” can mean a difference of hundreds and hundreds of calories. How the heck do I know?! Yes, there are times in spin where the vigorous is so high I’m sure I’m going to realize my great fear of falling off the bike while my feet stay attached to the pedal straps. There are also times (many) where I choose to completely ignore the instructor’s suggestion to add tension in favor of a few minutes to catch my breath.

So Friday morning I was so ready to put an end to the mystery. I rode with all I had, and even participated in (most of) the tension increases. I resisted checking my FitBit until the end of stretching. Fully expecting, knowing, I reached a burn of at least 700 calories. The grand total?

208 calories.

Shock. Betrayal. Adorable little gadget of lies!

208! Impossible. I burn 208 just getting myself and the kids ready and to the gym!

After a quick conversation with the instructor and confirming my rage is well placed, she suggests maybe I’m wearing my FitBit in the wrong place for cycling and it’s just not picking up my pedal strokes. I had it clipped on the waistband of my shorts. Had to be.

Further research at home reveals cycling is one of FitBit’s least accurate activities when it comes to capturing calories burned. Great. I did read in the online community section that a few users had good luck clipping it to their sock, so I’ll try that next time.

Ok, so even though I still don’t know exactly how many calories spin class burns me, I’ve made peace with FitBit and have really enjoyed its benefits. I have made a conscious effort to reach 10,000 steps in a day (though I’ve yet to), and I like seeing how a few minutes running around the house playing with the kids translates into calories burned. I absolutely love the sleep tracker. Every morning it tells me how long it took me to fall asleep, the efficiency of my sleep, and how many times (and when) I woke. Though when I woke up this morning my readout said I had taken 52 steps since midnight. A tad alarming. Where did I go? I’m definitely a crazy psycho sleep talker, but sleep walking? A whole new thing. At least I’m getting added exercise, I guess.

I imagine I’ll learn tons more about my new toy as I continue to use it. In the meantime, let’s hope I don’t walk out the front door in my sleep.

Almond Milk

9 Jul

I wasn’t aware this was a food blog, though it seems to be turning out that way.

I’ve always been a hardcore drinker of cow’s milk. I was vaguely aware that other milks existed, but knew absolutely nothing about them. Only vegan hippies buy almond milk, whatever that even is.

But as you may know, I’ve been getting brave in the kitchen lately. So on a hot tip from a friend who said it would be good in a green smoothie, I bought a small carton of almond milk. Spoiler alert:: it’s delicious!

I have a problematic tendency to fall into obsessions with products, foods, places…anything. I’m a salesman’s dream. Two minutes into a schpeel and I’m ready to throw down the money and sign. My husband has to shoo them and steer me away every time. It’s the same with things I read on the internet. “The internet says almond milk is best, dairy is propagated by lobbyists!” (Yes, I actually said that yesterday) So I might just be obsessing about the almond milk, but as of this moment, I’m all about a permanent switch from cow’s milk to almond milk. It seems to have mad benefits like being high in antioxidants, vitamins & minerals, and lower in calories. The only cons I could find are that if you have a tree nut allergy, this stuff will really mess you up. Plus did I mention it’s ridiculously delicious? Wilson asks for “the amazing milk” every day.

So naturally this week I looked for a larger carton. Yep, it’s twice as much money as cow’s milk, of course. Because hey, you want decent nutrition and organic grass fed meat? Get ready to spend. If not, we have some very edible pink slime and animal by-products over here for an affordable price.

20120709-132244.jpg

p.s. – Note in the background my adorable owl coffee mug cozy. Made by my mom and her infinite talent!

Now here’s miss Juliette enjoying some nice almond milk! Although I think I seriously confused her by calling it “milk” when I gave it to her. She only knows that word as it relates to breastfeeding. She seemed to enjoy it, but the whole time kept looking at me like “um…no.”

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