Tuesday, May 31, 2011

Pain is inevitable. Suffering is optional.

Current mood: Contented
Current song: Aqua - Barbie Girl
Currently reading: A Clash of Kings - George RR Martin

Okay, I'm finally getting around to writing this, exactly 2 weeks after my surgery. But hey, from the content of my procrastination post, are you really surprised? So, yeah... again, this is going to be quite long, and really only worth reading if you really care about my life. And since the one person who I knew would have read this more than likely won't now, this really isn't for anyone but myself, I guess. Which is fine by me.

So, like I mentioned the last time I spoke of all this, the whole surgical ordeal started with a shower and a MRSA wipe down the night before. It wasn't too bad, despite the fact that I had no idea what I was doing since they forgot to give me the instruction sheet. So I just wiped down my arms and legs with the damp, sticky cloths, focusing most on my right knee. I figured that was the most logical course of action.

Then came the big day. The normal process of any surgery is to come in 2 hours before you're scheduled. Which meant I was at Lutheran Hospital at 6am. I had scrubbed down a second time with the MRSA wipes and was all changed into my hospital gown when the nurse came in to get a urine sample. Well, seeing as I had just gone to the bathroom at home right before getting there, I had no urine left to give. The nurse explained that I should have been informed about the urine sample the day before during my confirmation phone call. Well, I hadn't. Strike two, Lutheran. Fortunately, I had just enough in me to get their tests done, and I was finished with surgery prep by 6:30am. Then came the waiting. I wasn't allowed to eat or drink anything past midnight, so during my waiting around time, my stomach was in knots due to a combination of hunger and nerves. Thank goodness my mom was there to keep me calm.

Soon enough, 7am hit; iv time. I stressed to the nurse about a hundred times how I had very difficult veins, so they could inform the anesthesiologist before I even got down to pre-op. The nurse was accommodating, in that she applied some numbing cream to the two veins I insisted they should try. She was not accommodating, however, about the whole "informing the pre-op people" part I stressed so much. As soon as I got downstairs, a nurse approached me.. not the iv specialist. Instead of yanking my hand away and immediately demanding the doctor, I decided to give her the benefit of the doubt. Of course, that turned out to be a mistake. Instead of going for the vein I pointed out on my left hand, the one that had been nicely numbed, she chose a different vein in my hand, much farther over.

One long stab, and she shot right through the vein. I'm pretty sure it must have been the look on my face that made her back off so quickly, or maybe it was the fact that she took her own liberties and then failed so miserably.. I'm not sure. But she quickly pulled the needle out and proclaimed she would not be sticking me again.

In comes the anesthesiologist... but not my anesthesiologist, the one I requested, the "specialist." Apparently he was busy, so their other guy came over instead. The first thing out of my mouth: "try this vein, the one where the cream is." He takes my right hand, and I was so relieved... until he starts feeling the exact same vein the nurse attempted in my other hand. I tried to rectify the situation yet again, by explaining that he had the wrong vein. But apparently, when they strapped the tourniquets on, my good veins weren't popping up well, and I guess even doctors don't feel comfortable going after a vein that isn't bulging. So he goes for the wrong hand vein... and punches straight through it, just as the nurse had.

By this time, another nurse had joined the group, as well as the specialist finally, all crowding around this mystery vein case. The doctors go for the doppler machine to look on my right arm, while the two nurses use the good ol' fashioned method of tapping and feeling around my left arm. All the while I'm getting desperate, still trying to ask why the hell they aren't going for the veins I told them to, the only ones I've ever had success with.

The second nurse thought she found a vein in the elbow of my arm, where most usual iv's are given, and much to my dismay, attempted to stick it. Nope.. shot through it again. Surprisingly enough, even after 3 painful sticks, I wasn't tearing up at all. I was, however, breathing much more rapidly, and subsequently all my veins began to tighten and shut down. Not to mention I passed my scheduled surgery time and they had to bump someone else ahead of me. I think the good anesthesiologist sensed that they were running out of time, and must have thought "hey, maybe we should actually listen to her." Still unsure, he dragged the doppler down my arm to my wrist... and oh look, he found a vein on the screen. The one I had pointed to all along. One very long stick later... and the iv was successfully placed. Four people, four attempts, four different veins.

I really wanted to yell "SEE? Why didn't you just listen??", but I was too relieved and exhausted. But man was the whole process frustrating. Go back and read my post about getting my blood drawn. Same situation! Had these people just listened to me the first time, we could have avoided all this mess. Strike three, Lutheran.

Anyway.. after all that, the rest of the surgery actually went quite smoothly. I remember being wheeled into the OR, then the next thing I know, I'm in the recovery room. I believe it took a little less than an hour to complete. I remember being extremely tired when I woke up, and a huge shot of pain through my leg... but 4 doses of morphine took that all away.

The rest of my stay at Lutheran was pretty pleasant. My mom stayed with me most of the day, as well as a friend who nicely brought me flowers. Markos came over later that evening to chill for a bit too, which was really nice. I tried to watch Glee and Raising Hope, but ended up falling asleep. Thank goodness for the internet! There was a strike four that I'm not going to really get into details with here... but it involved an extremely snobby and stubborn nurse, an incorrectly written chart, and a bedpan. Sleeping was no problem, even being woken up every 3 hours for checkups, since I was happily drifting through vicodinland.

The next day was much better. Physical therapy came to assess me in the morning, and I got the same pt girl I had for my last surgery. She remembered me immediately. =] Getting out of bed to walk around felt so great. After that, my doctor came in for his 5 second checkup, and a bit later my mom came back. As soon as my knee was re-dressed (including the freaky process of yanking the blood drain out a of large hole to the side of the incision.. yes, I have pictures), they started my discharge papers. By around 1 that afternoon, I was saying goodbye to my incredible roommate Deanna, my nurse, my nurse's aid, and even the awesome cleaning lady who did more fun gabbing and gossip with us than actual cleaning. That night, I climbed the 15 stairs to the second floor in our house to get to bed, and it was cake.

So despite the numerous strikes against poor Lutheran, overall I would say I still actually had a very good surgical experience. Recovery-wise, things have been a dream. In my 2 weeks post-surgery, I feel much more recovered than I had felt during my last surgery, I think due to the fact that the right side is my dominant side, and much stronger. Hopefully that means physical therapy, which I should be starting in 2 more weeks, will be a breeze. Tomorrow I get my stitches out and hopefully get to be rid of my immobilizer as I start to bend my knee and re-learn how to walk properly (that actually is quite a difficult task).

The only major bummer about the whole thing is that shortly after my surgery, I had another crappy event happen to me (which I won't be getting into), causing me to put a similarly painful memory onto this surgery as I had the last. So I will always have good memories to these major surgeries, but also a painful memory to each one as well. But that's where my title comes in... I felt much emotional pain this past week, on top of my physical pain, but that's life. The good thing is that I didn't allow myself to suffer. I didn't let my knee stop me from still enjoying some of the things I love to do, as much as I didn't let my sadness consume me and stop me from enjoying life as well.

Well, there's my surgery story. I may have left out a few details, but now I'm exhausted from all the typing, so I'm stopping here. Check back for possible add-ons and tweakings at a later date. And I'll write another post tomorrow night or thursday about the stitches removal process. At least this time it won't involve iv's.

Tuesday, May 24, 2011

"Feelings are not supposed to be logical. Dangerous is the man who has rationalized his emotions." - David Borenstein

Current mood: Frustrated and sad (this time, my mood is opposite of the weather..)
Current song: Emilie Autumn - Let the Record Show

I was going to talk about my surgery today before I forget all the details, but I found my mind preoccupied too much with something else. I'll get to my surgery post hopefully tomorrow, or another day soon.

I'm not going to even get into the explanation of why my mood is the way it is. Those of you who have spoken to me in the last 24 hours know, and you are pretty much all I care to tell. Everyone else.. don't worry. I'm sure I'll buck up soon enough. You all know me, I'm a pretty positive person.

But I've been thinking a lot lately about emotions. I had a discussion with someone about them the other day, and I was pegged as an "emotional person." Too emotional for this other person's taste. Well, this is certainly not the first time I've been called emotional. And usually when I hear it, I feel pretty bad for a moment. Women in general are stereotyped as being emotional beings, much to the contrast of men and their rational, calculating ways of thinking and feeling. It's natural for a woman to cry, whereas men must be tough. Okay, I'm not getting into a gender battle today... this is about me.

Yes, I am an emotional person. I do let some things get to me that probably shouldn't. I am easily hurt, but I am also easily sprung back. I don't bottle in my feelings, I let them flow freely from me. When something makes me angry, or there is an injustice in the world, I speak up about it. When something makes me sad, I cry on someone's shoulder about it. I tell everyone everything I'm thinking and feeling, even when first meeting them. I don't just wear my heart on my sleeve... I made a fluffy hat out of it and wear it on top of my head all day long. When something is bothering me, I immediately go to the people closest to me and ask if I can rant my problem to them, to either get some advice, or to simply get it off my chest. And it feels great! I mean hello, that's the whole reason therapy was created. Therapists rarely give you sound advice or tell you how to fix your problems.. that's not really their job. They are mostly there as an objective person for you to simply vent to. Because human beings are not logical creatures. It is our nature to be run by our feelings, and our intricately emotional brains is what sets us aparts from most other species.

And yes, I may get upset easily, and feel sad fairly often, and cry at the drop of a hat... but I also frequently experience the joy that emotions can give. The overwhelmingly blissful feelings of doing something you love, or being around people who make you feel like you're on top of the world. I laugh at almost anything, regardless if it's funny or not, just because laughter makes me feel good. That's usually my indicator if I'm feeling awkward in a situation, because laughing also helps to calm my nerves. Being emotional means I can be just as joyously happy as I can be down and sad, whereas those who don't allow themselves to feel, live in a constant bubble of indifference.

I'm glad my friend called me emotional, because it's something I can honestly say I'm proud of. In recent years especially, I have even become a bubbly optimist, because life is too hard right now to be anything else. We live in pretty depressing times, but that doesn't mean your life has to be just as depressing. We aren't doomed to simply be products of the world around us. We can make change, we can take a stand... and that takes emotion.

We are emotional beings, and we are attracted to similar emotions. Even you non-emotional, logic driven people... who makes you feel better to be around; a quiet introvert who bottles up their feelings, closes themselves off to you and makes it impossible to tell what they are really thinking? Or the person in the room who is laughing and talking openly with everyone, sharing their feelings and getting others to do the same? Yeah, I'm sure even non-emotional people feel uncomfortable around that same type of person. Who wouldn't? What kind of friendship, or relationship, or family interaction is one where no one truly opens up or shares who they really are? You can't do that by simply speaking with your mouth, or thinking with your brain... to have a true, meaningful interaction with another human being, you need to use your heart. That's why anytime I hug someone now, I hug to the right, so mine and other person's heart overlap. Call me crazy, but I truly feel a deeper connection with the person when I do that, and it makes me feel great inside. We seem to have lost that sense of connection with others.

Like one of my favorites vignettes of the film Waking Life* says, we've become like ants. Busily moving about our farms, barely touching the other ants with our antenne before going about our own lives, no real connection with each other... well I don't want to be like an ant. I want to connect with others, to feel them with my heart, to be all I am with and around them. "I wanna SEE you. I want YOU to SEE me." To live life as a cold, withdrawn, non-connecting ant... is a pretty unfulfilling life.

So I am proud to be an emotional person. Because as such, I feel free and comfortable with any other type of person, open or introverted. I love being around emotional people, but I also am just as okay with unemotional types. To be unaccepting of someone, or to feel incompatible with them, simply because they are emotional... well, I feel sorry for a person who feels that way. If they were to get in touch with their own emotions more, they would realize what they are truly missing. I was sad today, but I'll feel wonderfully happy again one day soon, because emotions are an incredibly fun and fulfilling roller coaster ride. And who doesn't love going to Cedar Point? =]

* For further insight on this topic, two movies that are incredible for discussion on human interaction and emotion:
~Waking Life, directed by Richard Linklater
~I Am, directed by Tom Shadyac

Sunday, May 15, 2011

If it weren't for the last minute, I wouldn't get anything done...

Current mood: Dreary (my moods frequently reflect the weather.. me and mother nature need to have a talk)
Current song: Across the Universe - Let It Be

Diet update:
I've officially lost 6 pounds! That seems small, I know. But the most I have ever weighed, I reached a couple weeks ago, at 115. Coming from someone who used to weight less than 100 just a couple years ago, this mortified me and really pushed me to do this diet. But I'm happy to report, I'm at 109 right now. My goal is to stay below 105, so just 4 more pounds to go! And I've decided that after my surgery and physical therapy are done, I'm going to really become an active gym goer. Not to keep losing weight, but to just stay in shape and keep my heart healthy.

Surgery update:
Two days... *tiny freakout* I'm really nervous now.. but also excited. I think I'm more excited that tuesday is Glee, moreso than tuesday is my surgery. But hey, at least looking forward to Glee keeps my mind from freaking out more. I'm going out to get a celebratory milkshake with my boyfriend tomorrow to further calm my nerves, before completing the oh-so-fun MRSA preparation, and going to bed nice and early. I have to call Lutheran between 3 and 5pm tomorrow to get my final surgery time, though I know it will be sometime in the morning, anywhere between 7am and 10am. I reeeally hope it's not 7am, seeing as I was instructed to come in two and a half hours beforehand. But hey, hopefully if I'm half asleep, getting the iv in will be a piece of cake!

So anyway, onto today's post. Can anyone tell what it's about? Why yes, procrastination. You are a smart one. Today is May 15th, the final day to submit the FAFSA form for next semester, and guess who just completed hers this afternoon? Granted, I knew that I could only get half of it done until Case re-enrolls me this summer, but that's not really why I put it off. I honestly can't give a better reason other than I am addicted to procrastination.

This has been going on for as long as I remember. I have memories of 7th grade math, where the teacher would only collect the week's homework on fridays. But instead of doing it every night to spread out the work, guess who was cramming on thursday nights to get it all done. Then again, I'm pretty sure the whole class was. And from gradeschool through college, that is all you ever hear students talking about. From homework, to papers, to exam studying... everyone seems to put it off until the last minute. Some people are just too busy with work or other classes, others would just rather goof off than do the work at that minute. I honestly feel I work better under pressure. I've written papers a week ahead of time and gotten B's and C's on them, but almost all my last minute papers are A work. Why is that? Because at the last minute I know it's do or die time, and I go into it guns blazing, whereas when I know I have extra time to get it done, I'm not as focused while I'm writing it? I really can't say. I'm a fast paper writer, so putting them off has almost never had a consequence for me (unless it pushes past midnight, which is my homework cutoff time.. I have never pulled an all-nighter and never plan to), but it's still not a good habit to follow. And yet I, and millions of others, do it.

But it's not just school. Take this FAFSA for instance. It literally took me about 10 minutes to fill out, *including* Case's financial aid forms. I procrastinated for 4 months (I'm pretty sure you can first start filing in January), for TEN minutes out of my day. It's ludicrous to think about. Most of that time I just completely forgot about it (who thinks about the next semester when you're just starting a new one), so I've always waited till spring to file it, but rarely to *the* last day. I know many people who do this with everyday life things as well; job projects, household chores, yard work, grocery shopping and errand runs... anything that we file into the "I should get this done" part of our brain, seems to also fall under the "well, it can wait till tomorrow" wiring as well.

I've always wondered about the psychology of procrastination. Of why it seems so human nature nowadays, and how that compares to the habits of people in past generations. There are hundreds of quotes about procrastination, from past and present.. so what is it about us? I think it was on some movie I saw a few years ago that they explained how women (it was a movie all about relationships and gender roles) will put off paying their bills and getting things done till the last minute because they love the drama. Despite the sexist subtext, maybe there is something to that, for all people.

When you complete a "to-do" task weeks before it's due, sure you get the benefit of knowing it's out of the way early, but does the completion of the task bring you as much satisfaction as if you were to wait until the last minute? I've been stewing over getting this FAFSA done for weeks now, saying "okay, I'll do it tomorrow.. oh, well, I have a few more days.. man, I really should get that done soon... uh oh, last day, I may be in trouble.... nope! not in trouble, got it done just in time!" And now I'm feeling great about myself for finally completing that which was sitting in the back of my mind for weeks. Perhaps it's the sense of accomplishment we crave. Washing a whole sink of dishes feels more accomplishing than just one meal at a time. Getting your car cleaned only after it's completely filthy feels better than washing it weekly to just get the small bit of dirt off. Buying a whole cart of groceries is more of a feat than just picking up some milk and eggs. No one is going to praise us for buying groceries, so we praise ourselves by saying "wow, I really needed this stuff, I'm so glad I went out to get it finally."

The same concept can be taken back to my 7th grade math class. Sure, the other 3 days of the week you didn't really accomplish anything, but you worked really hard on that 4th day and got everything done on time.. and that feels great.

Whatever the true reasons, the concept of procrastination is an interesting thing. "Why do today what you can put off until tomorrow." "Hard work pays off after time, but laziness pays off right now." "Tomorrow is often the busiest day of the week." "Someday is not a day of the week." Quotes from every time, every culture, that reflect on just how much people love and are hard wired to procrastinate. So much so that they offer self-help classes and books just to re-wire the brain and try to break the habit. I am certainly in need of some brain re-wiring myself, though I'm sure over time it will get better. And if not, I may join one of those classes... someday.

Well anyhoo, this may be my last post for a while. You probably won't hear from me until I get home on wednesday, and possibly longer than that if I'm having too much fun in vicodinland. Boy will that be a fun post... Well, wish me luck, internet world!

Tuesday, May 10, 2011

A book is like a garden carried in the pocket - Chinese proverb

Current mood: Sunny (as sunny as the weather)
Current song: August Rush soundtrack - Moondance

Okay, to start us off, I would just like to finish up a thought about my last post. Can I just say, diets really suck. I haven't craved sugar this much since I was a kid, not to mention the constant headache I've had from cutting back on soda. I don't drink coffee and it hasn't been warm enough yet to make suntea, so my caffeine intake has taken a nosedive. But all that is still okay, thanks to the 4 pounds I have lost since my last post. Motivation? I think yes! =]

Now onto today's post: books. And gardens, too. My Chinese proverb is spot on with what I want to get into today. First we'll start with gardens.

Sunday was Mother's Day, as many of you are well aware, and I'm sure you all have your little traditions that your mom likes to do each year, whether it be going to church, or visiting relatives, or going out to eat. Well, it isn't Mother's Day in the Green household if it doesn't involve gardening in one way or another. I had been asking my mom for days what she wanted to do for her day, but she couldn't give me an answer. She didn't care, she said. So come Mother's Day, I gave her her gifts and we sat on the porch enjoying the morning and trying to figure out what to do. I spit off 3 or 4 suggestions, but to no avail. She had no preference, and said she'd enjoy just spending time at home. So I resigned, since it was her day, and if that's what she wanted, that's what she wanted. But a few minutes later, another idea struck me. "We could walk around Gale's and look at flowers..." and that was it. Ten minutes later we were in the car and off to Gale's Garden Center.

I never thought I could walk around the same store for 4 and a half hours and not get bored, but I was proven wrong. I'd been to Gale's many times before, as well as Petiti's, Lowe's, Home Depot, and any other nursery around, but for some reason it was different this time. I've always enjoyed my mom's passion for gardening, but I think I've finally started to adopt one as well. I circled each lot about 10 times (Gale's is huge, if you've never been there), and loved every minute of it. I learned a ton more about horticulture, added on to the knowledge my mom has given me over the years, and now I can name almost every different flowering tree at first glance. Once their petals fall, however, my differentiation skills drop to only about 3 or 4 trees, based on bark and branch. The rest just look like small green trees to me.

But anyway, it was a great afternoon. My mom went overboard as usual buying plants, but they had a bunch of Mother's Day sales, so it wasn't bad. I even got a few more small plants for my room (since my dalia decided to die on me.. that's the last time I buy flowers from Lowe's). Afterward, I took her out to Longhorn for dinner, where they were giving all the mothers a carnation as we walked in. The whole day revolved around flowers. But was that enough for Mama Green? Oooof course not. All day yesterday involved gardening as well. We went back to Gale's to pick up a few more of the lilac bushes on sale, to drive down to my grandma for her Mother's Day gift, as well as stopped at Earth To You to get my mom her mulch. When I was younger, I used to get her Mother's Day mulch in the regular bags you find at the garden centers, but now she has taken gardening to the next level, and just has it hauled in in a small dump truck. Yes, this is extreme gardening, people. But it is already looking great. She worked her butt off all day yesterday, and is continuing today as I sit outside typing this.

All her work these past 20 years we've lived here has certainly developed my extreme love of gardens and nature. The only thing I love more than being out in a garden, is spending time in one with a good book to read.

I'm so glad that this semester I've had time to read for enjoyment again. Usually after I'm done with a semester at Case, I'm so relieved to start having fun, that my whole summer goes to watching tv or playing games or going out with friends. So even in my summers off, reading has gone to the backburner these past few years. But ever since my last surgery, I've brought my reading level back up, and doubled it even further in the last 5 months. When you're stuck at home with your leg casted up for 2 weeks, what better way to pass the time and enjoy the nice weather than reading outside?

When I had my last surgery, I read about 7 books in the time I was stuck at home. All were Laurell K. Hamilton books, which were amazing, but this time around I want to mix them up a little. So I'm going to make a list of what I want/plan to read starting next week. I'm currently reading 4 books at the same time right now, which is challenging, but still awesome. They are all really different, so I'm not getting them confused at all. But since I probably won't be done with all 4 by next week, I'll add them to my list.

Lili's Summer Reading List
Finishing The Song of Ice and Fire series, by George R.R. Martin, including;
~A Clash of Kings (halfway through)
~A Storm of Swords
~A Feast for Crows

Finishing the 3 other books I'm working on;
~Some We Love, Some We Hate, Some We Eat by Hal Herzog
~Bossypants by Tina Fey
~Man Down: Proof Beyond a Reasonable Doubt That Women Are Better Cops, Drivers, Gamblers, Spies, World Leaders, Beer Tasters, Hedge Fund Managers, and Just About Everything Else (yes, that's the exact title) by Dan Abrams

Plus I want to start a few other books, including;
~The Girl with the Dragon Tattoo
~The Girl Who Played with Fire by Stieg Larsson

The Hunger Games trilogy by Suzanne Collins, including;
~The Hunger Games
~Catching Fire
(I've already read all 3, but I want to re-fresh my mind for the movie coming out soon)

I want to finally get into the Study Series by Maria V. Snyder, including;
~Poison Study
~Magic Study
~Fire Study

AND finally, I want to re-read/continue the Anita Blake: Vampire Hunter series by Laurell K. Hamilton.
I won't list them all, since I think the series has exceeded past 15 volumes. (I own 1-15) I read the first 7 during my last surgery, but unfortunately stopped there. Now I'm afraid I'll have to re-read the first 7 again before I can continue with the rest...
I just looked. The series now has 20 volumes. I'll have to ask my fellow Anita-obsessed friend Jen if that's where they finally stop, but for now I have plenty of Anita-awesomeness to keep me entertained.

So as you can see, that's more than plenty of books to occupy my time during my 2 week surgery stint, especially since each of the Song of Ice and Fire books are about a thousand pages long. And these are all books I currently own! (All but Some We Love, Some We Hate, Some We Eat... I got that one from the library. Hopefully I can buy it eventually.) Who knows what other book I may see on the shelf the next time I visit Borders. That's why I named this list my *summer* reading list, and it may take me even longer than that, with Anita Blake tacked on. But that's okay. It's about time I got these bad boys read, before my book buying obsession adds even MORE to my overflowing shelves.

So with plenty of good books in hand, I sit amongst my mother's beautiful flowers, ready to take this summer on. A good book is certainly like a garden in your pocket, but I am lucky to have both!

Friday, May 6, 2011

Dieting is not a piece of cake...

Current mood: Hungry
Current song: Imogen Heap - Lifeline

Look at this picture and answer me honestly; which one of those foods would you choose to eat right this second?

If you chose the carrots, I call bullshit. What person, who isn't currently on a diet, would choose plain, dry, raw carrots over a moist, sweet, chocolately cake?  No one, that's who. We're biologically wired to follow our sweet tooth, thanks to evolution. Our primate cousins live on a diet of the ripest fruit they can find, which of course is higher in sugar content.

So why is this bad? Seems like nature to me. It's only thanks to today's neurotic focus on being as healthy as possible that has twisted our thinking. Now, I am all for being healthy. But there are many levels of healthy. Someone can be a bit overweight, and still be healthy. No, in this culture, it's more about appearances than health. A woman can be a smoker, a drinker, out of shape, and low on all the vitamins and nutrients her body needs... but if her metabolism keeps her thin, well that's usually good enough for a man. And vice versa with women looking at men. I always try to keep things gender balanced. Conversely, if a person is healthy, active, in shape, eats well, but is unfortunate enough to have a poor metabolism... nope, not in today's society. Weight is everything.

You don't see male primates choosing their mate based on who eats the least amount of fruit, or which one is thinnest. Well, that's probably because most primates seem to be more or less built the same. When there is not such a wide array of shapes and sizes, males can focus on other *much* more important qualities in a mate, such as climbing and tick picking. If humans were all shaped alike, things would probably be similar. I know I for one would be able to focus much better on a guy's skill to pull junk from my hair if I wasn't so worried about how his body looks. But unfortunately, humans come in all shapes and sizes, and even more unfortunately, in today's society, we have deemed only one size appropriate and acceptable.

So how do we achieve this one socially acceptable size, aka, how do we get to the weight of all those celebrities and models in our media? Well not through the same method they use, that's for sure. The people whose weight we idolize have other methods available to them that only money and fame can really achieve *coughliposuctioncough*. So what's our solution? The doctor's answer: diet and exercise. Well I am all for exercise. Not necessarily sweating off all 2/3rds of your body's water every day at the gym, but just generally staying active. Once a day, do one activity that involves movement. Go for a bike ride, work in the garden, take a walk through the park with a friend. I personally enjoy cleaning the house to upbeat music. It kills two birds with one stone! (Ew I hate that saying, why do I still use it?)

As for dieting, I am not a fan. I have many great loves in this world, and food just happens to be one of them. One of my many "I have always wanted to be a"s include a culinary critic. There are so many wonderful foods on this planet, from hundreds of diverse locations and cultures. And life is too short to stick to a diet of raw vegetables and soy, when instead you could truly enjoy every single meal you have. And I hate sayings like "other animals only eat to survive, and eat only the amount they have to to last each day." Humans are different from other animals in a hundred ways, including our eating habits, so don't give me that crap.

In my opinion, the true advice for people who want to enjoy food but still be healthy, is "everything in moderation." I agree that overindulging can be bad. You'd be hard pressed to find someone who doesn't. But I don't think cold turkey diets are good either. I have tried completely cutting out foods or soda before, and it never works. Just recently I decided again to cut sweets out completely, despite my evolutionary track. For over a week I avoided all kinds of cookies, cakes, ice creams... anything overflowing with processed sugars. Instead, I started eating many more fruits and vegetables. Well, aside from being suddenly much more miserable from counting calories and avoiding everything I loved, I also noticed myself wolfing down every kind of fruit I could get my hands on. I would eat an apple, then some cantaloupe, then a bowl of grapes, then an orange... all in the span of a few tv shows or just one movie. My normally moderate fruit intake suddenly skyrocketed. While trying to *avoid* being like a primate, I instead embraced my inner monkey, enjoying all those natural sugars that fruit offers to compensate for my sudden drop in processed sugar. I tried to be healthier, but I ended up consuming even more sugar than cookies and cake give. So needless to say, I stopped that diet fairly quickly.

So why am I worried about dieting in the first place? Well, if you must know.... I'M SO FAT! *weeps hysterically* No no, just kidding. I'm not one of those annoying skinny people who goes up to someone who weighs more than them and calls themselves fat. Nor am I the type who complains to someone older than them how old they are. No, I'm not fat. But it can't be ignored or denied that I have gained about 10 pounds since last year. This is mostly due to the fact that I've spent a whole semester basically on my tush. My burning/consuming ratio has been greatly skewed from my norm in the last 6 months. My off and on depression over the past 2 years could also be a factor, as well as stress levels. Or as my mother suggests, I may just be at that age where my body packed on a few more pounds to fully prepare to bear children.

Whatever the reason, the weight has begun to show. I have a stomach pudge, as well as thickening thighs, neck, and jowls. If you ask me how much I weigh though, most laugh at me, since the number is still way below the average of an average height person. But I'm not of an average height. As the late Shelley Winters so wonderfully put it, "I'm not overweight. I'm just nine inches too short." I'm pretty sure she meant that as a joke, but in my case, it's completely true. Being so short, any pound I gain usually shows somewhere. And while I'm usually the first person that stands up against the stupidity of weight norms and the expectation to look perfect in our society, I still have my insecurities about my own body. I admit I get wrapped right up in that stereotype, that if I become a few pounds overweight, I will be looked at badly by friends, family, guys, and just society in general.

So while I'm trying to lose weight based mostly on vanity reasons alone, I am going to do what most people who are ashamed of their weight do to motivate themselves, by also saying "I just want to be healthier."

So here I am, eating raw baby carrots as I type this, instead of chowing down on a delicious piece of chocolate cake. But not by choice. In a perfect world where weight and stereotypes didn't exist, I'd choose the chocolate cake any day. Man... now I want some cake....

Wednesday, May 4, 2011

The power of positive thinking

Current mood: Positive (what did you expect?)
Current song: Glee cast - Valerie

*disclaimer* This post is going to be quite long, and very boringly detailed. But this is one of those posts that is mostly for me, so I can recall every detail of this upcoming surgery and all its processes. I'm going to try to make it entertaining and fun, but unless you're really interested in my life, I wouldn't bother wasting your time reading it all. You have been warned.


Just one week ago, I wrote a post all about my apprehension for my upcoming knee surgery, and specifically the pre-admission testing. But I am happy to report that as of Monday May 2nd at about 11:30am, I am no longer terrified of needles.

I woke up monday morning with that normal feeling of horror for the events to follow. I know, "horror" is a bit strong, but this has been an ongoing occurrence for my entire life. I have really difficult to stick veins. Nearly impossible, actually. I'm pretty sure this is because of my disability, but doctors have never given me a "yes definitely" reason for almost anything in my life. But that's beside the point.

For most people, being difficult stick is probably not much of an issue. "It's okay, just keep poking till you find one. I have time." But for me, it's a nightmare, due to my quite low pain tolerance. Once again, I have no explanation for my tolerance level. Maybe it's biological, maybe it's psychological, maybe it's a combination of both. But as much as I try mind-over-matter techniques, I can't control how pain affects me. It's caused me to feel really bad about myself ever since I surpassed the age where it's still okay to cry at a shot, but what can I do... I am who I am. So you can see, 22 years of this unfortunate cocktail of unsuccessful blood work and iv's, mixed with the Niagara Falls from my eyes at practically the sight of a needle, "horror" is not a very far off description.

But despite all this, I decided that monday would be different. I have always been an upbeat person, who fully believes in the power of positive thinking and energy. If you tell yourself that today is going to be a good day, you create that day for yourself. If you tell yourself that everything will work out fine, more often than not, they do. Even something like whenever I feel a cold coming on, I just tell myself "I'm completely healthy and well. I'm gonna nip this in the bud before it even starts." The brain is a powerful machine, and positive affirmations are the oil that keep it running well.

Conversely, if you're the type of person who mopes about thinking how awful life is and what a bad day you're probably going to have, chances are, your day is going to be pretty crappy. You are how you feel.

So with that in mind, I quickly got over my initial morning panic, and decided that I would stay positive. A whole week beforehand, I had been talking to my veins, bonding with them. I chatted with two veins in particular, one in each hand. These veins were responsible for the only successful iv I had had thus far, for an endoscopy I had done in high school. So I spent a week saying things like "okay veins, we got this... it's you and me... this is going to go down in history as 'Lili's first successful blood draw ever'... we'll make headlines, veins, we'll be famous." Go ahead, call me crazy. But I'm telling you, this stuff really works. Case in point; the events that followed.

I walked into Lutheran hospital with my head held high, and as soon as I checked in I let them know that I needed to be sent down to the lab for my blood work, as the woman on the phone instructed me when I made my appointment. That's where they send their hard to stick patients. The check-in woman was extremely friendly, which was a great start to the day. After checking in, I proceeded to the pre-admission testing area to get my check up done. The physician's assistant was also very nice, and assured me that the women in the lab were experts. He said they took blood about 10 times an hour, so they knew what they were doing. He even said they had an "expert nurse" down there who was their vein specialist. I felt myself start to feel skeptical, but I shoved that aside to stay positive, and replied only with a "great, then I know this will go perfectly on the first try." He also assured me that I would not be given the same anesthesiologist that took 12 attempts to find a vein the day of my last surgery. The PA described him as a "typical arrogant arab who has very limited patience." So again, this guy was really great, albiet a bit racist. I was staying surprisingly calm, proven by my relatively normal bp reading. It was slightly elevated, but still, a huge improvement over the usual near-hyperventilation.

My trip into the lab was even more calmed at the sight of a beautiful service dog laying on the floor. I approached the man in the wheelchair and asked him if his dog was in working mode. He smiled and said "Nope. Here, give him a treat. His name is Jay." I'm pretty sure at that moment, my bp was back to a perfect 120/80. So walking into the lab, I was on cloud nine. But then I saw it... the chair.

No matter how calm I am, the sight of that chair still sends shivers down my spine. And what's next to that chair? Oh, just a few needles, some alcohol swabs, a tourniquet, and about 50 empty blood tubes... not to mention the big picture of gross looking veins running down someone's arm. And the worst part about this chair, is the arm rest that lowers in front of you. It's like a prison, you can't escape! Practically a torture device, where they strap you into a chair and tie rubberbands around your arms to slowly cut off your circulation, all while 4 women stand around you, cackling as they stab your arms repeatedly with needles, and the only thing you can do is stare at pictures that show you exactly where you will bleed to death from, and scream. It's a nightmare! No wonder children cry when they see someone in scrubs. They're vampires... and they're coming for us!

*ahem*.... anyway. Despite the excessive amount of fantasy books I read, even the chair wasn't enough to make me panic, though my cloud nine state was definitely out the window. Still, I looked down at my hand veins and said "alright guys, showtime." The nurse came in and I immediately told her the skinny.

"Okay, I have extremely hard to get veins, but I have two in mind that I need you to try, no others. And you should bring out your best nurse. They told me upstairs that there was an expert here. I think I'll need her."

I assumed that was firm enough to warrant attention, but unfortunately I got nurse cocky, who while nice, was a tad over-confident in her abilities.

She took my right hand and felt for my veins, but as she noticed the size of my arms and lack of veins bubbling up once the tourniquet was put on, her confidence dropped. She attempted to stick the vein I pointed out to her, jiggling it around a few times, trying to chase the vein down. The poke hurt, but surprisingly not as much as pokes usually do for me. I didn't tear up, nor so much as say ow. I just clenched a little, but I was trying hard not to, knowing that the tension would close my veins up, and all would be in "vein" (haha, puns are fun =P ). Thankfully, this particular lab had something else to stare at besides the veiny arm picture. To my right, away from the sight of needles and blood tubes, was a whole wall of post cards from various locations the lab staff had traveled to on vacations. It was a fantastic distraction. So much so that I barely heard the nurse mumbling to herself about not being able to find the vein.

When I felt the needle pull back out, I looked down to find no blood tube. Crap. My positivity started to waver. The nurse sighed defeatedly, and called in someone else. Great, I thought. She resigned to get the expert nurse in. A blond woman comes in starts checking my arms. I didn't even have time to explain the hand veins thing before she strapped a tourniquet to my arm and attempted to jab a needle into it. Again, I looked at the postcard wall, spotting a picture of NYC and remembering my trip there. Ahh, what a thrill it would be to see the Phantom of the Opera again on broadway...

A minute and a half later, the needle was out of my arm. The blonde nurse looked at me with large sad eyes and said "aww you poor thing." I'm not sure if she mistook me for a child, or maybe she considers all disabled people to be "poor things," but irregardless, it was enough to bug me and send my positivity down further. The two women poked at my arms some more with their fingers, discussing the predicament, and kept referring to me as a "vita."

"I don't know, I think she's a vita. What do you think?"
"Oh yeah, she's definitely a vita."

What the hell did that mean? If by vita they meant a girl who was seriously starting to lose patience with a situation and felt like running out of the room back to Jay, then yes, I was certainly a vita. I was about to ask them what they meant, when suddenly Vita walked into the room. Aha! Their expert! Positive thinking was back on the rise.

Right away I spoke up, before the other nurses could, explaining the situation to her and how the only successful veins I knew of were the ones in my hand. Well thanks to nurse cocky, my right hand vein was shot. It was all up to my left hand. Vita felt around my arms first, just for good measure (no one seemed to believe me... I guess disabled children can't have accurate opinions), then went for the left hand. As soon as she touched it, her face lit up. "Oo oo, there it is.. give me a needle." Yes! This was it... the last quarter, the bottom of the ninth, the end of the game... and......


Right in the middle of my mental vacation to the beach on the Hawaii postcard, I saw blood start to flow through the tube. It felt remarkable. In 22 years, I had never experienced it a successful blood draw from my veins. Any other time I have needed blood work done, they've had to take it with the same method that they use on infants; prick my finger and squeeze my blood into a full tube, drop by painful drop.

I'm so proud of my left hand vein, who I've now named Vita. Unfortunately, either nurse Vita slipped and lost the spot, or vein Vita was just too tuckered out after this amazing feat, but it stopped giving blood before they got their 2 full tubes. But it was okay, the nurses said they could get all the tests done on the tube and a half they did get.

I walked out of the lab feeling on top of the world. And all it took was positive thinking. I stayed positive for a week before the day, and I was as calm as can be throughout the morning of. I didn't fret nor tense up, and my body followed suit. And it took a calm, positive nurse to get the job done. The other women were intimidated and anxious about the situation. But Vita had that "we got this" attitude, and it worked like a charm.

On the way out, I gave Jay one last pet and ear scratching, then skipped out of the hospital on a path of flower petals.

Even after all this, I still am a bit nervous about the surgery. The nurse said that the veins in my hand might not be stable enough to put an iv into for general anesthesia. But I'm still keeping my head up. Maybe the new anesthesiologist they'll give me will take the shot. If not, I am still very hopeful. Now that I've proven to myself, once again, about the power of positive thinking, I'm so ready to march into Lutheran in 2 weeks and kick this thing right in the tush!