Sunday, February 23, 2014

Pictures From the Past

On Friday I received a box of photos from my stepmother.  Inside were pictures that dispelled my long-held belief that I was an ugly little girl.  Oh my gosh... I was cute!  I might have even had cute kids. *ouch*

Of course, that disastrous short haircut that made me look like a boy when I was in second grade did me no favors.  Oh... Those were some ugly me days. I still see myself like that in the mirror.  And my early teens, with my coke-bottle thick glasses, were fairly disheartening.  I'll probably never share those photos on Facebook, although I will put them into a photo book for family to see and laugh at.  Or maybe they'll just cringe in sympathy.  :)

I wore glasses from about age ten.  They didn't improve anything but my vision, though they corrected my misconception about trees being green blobs in the distance. How wonderful to see individual leaves moving.  Suddenly, everything was in high definition for me.  And I looked awful wearing them. I was made fun of a lot -- especially by family.

I'm still incredibly insecure about my appearance, that it overshadows my insecurity in personal relationships.

But of course such a strong prescription caused me to have headaches, and I still can't shake them.  I have one now, as a matter of fact, and have had it about five days now.  Nothing is working to cast it away.  I may need to try voodoo next.  At the moment I'm choosing to have no visual acuity and air out my corneas rather than put in my contact lenses and sharpen the pain in my head.  Let me put it this way. Beowulf is on TV.  I'm listening to it.  There's no point in watching the bright, moving blobs on the TV.  I guess my head is squeezing my eyes into pointy myopia. 

So I hate most pictures of me wearing glasses, except the one standing by the river where I'm on even footing with my older sister, and looking down at her.  Ha ha ha! I'm taller.  Not bad for an otherwise "average height" woman.  Very amusing to see my long, slender legs.  I wouldn't mind making mine look more like that now, I'll admit.  

A picture I didn't get was one with my sister and father at the Sylvania booth at the fair.  I don't know what we had been eating -- maybe a candy apple? -- but our lips were candy-apple red, with the most adorable grins and Dad with his arms around us both.  It's a really happy picture. I wish I had it.  I would be willing to borrow and scan it, if that's all I can do.  

In December, my cousin's wife passed away.  I didn't know her all that well, but I couldn't keep from crying at her visitation at the church.  Nobody else was falling apart, but me.  And then to top it off, another cousin (who has said this to me before at another visitation -- her brother's) told me my father was next.  What the hell??  I chalked it up to her grief making her a little "out of it" and saying some inappropriate things.  She also said that my dad looked just like her brother in his casket.  Please, just let that be grief talking.  It upset me, and I had to pretend it hadn't.  

At the more recent funeral, they were playing a video of photos of her and her family, and I was thinking that it might save me some hardship later to get together photos of my dad now. It was hard for me to do when my mother died, but I'm the one expected to "take care of those things".  

It's hard to get a genuine smile in a photo of my father.  He cheeses it up.  I have, however, found a few nice ones of him.   One that was in the box, I'd never seen before.  He was lying in a hammock,  relaxed and smiling.  I really like that one. :)

I would really like to have a photo scanning setup that allows me to quickly scan photos (like a sheet-fed scanner), negatives, and larger photos. Time and organization aren't my friends in that particular undertaking.  I probably need a new printer as well.  Mine is 12 years old and I haven't used it enough lately to keep it running smoothly, but it was a darn awesome printer when I first got it.  I do have a great flatbed scanner that may still be working properly, but the room it is in is just.... 

Well, my office kinda sucks.  I need to gut it and rework the desk, because the room has been slapped together over the years.  You just can't find much but cheap plastic drawers locally.  Broken record time: if I knew how to work with wood, I could build what I need and it would look classy and neat, while being as useful as I need it to be.  I need to throw things away.  I need to take everything out of the room, paint it, and then place much less back in with better-suited furnishings.  I actually shopped for office furniture, but nothing I saw was applicable for my needs. Furniture builders just don't take into account that I have a lot of peripherals in a small space. They especially forget the existence of a thing called a printer, not to mention flatbed scanners, external hard drives, and monitors. Those things have short cords, so they need to be near the computer itself.

I'm going to play my helpless female card here and admit that I don't have a clue where to start with that room and my photo tasks.




Sunday, February 16, 2014

This Is 43

So, I turned 43 on Friday... Valentine's Day.  I had a pretty good day, except for that one moment at work when I almost went into rip-your-head-off mode.  Eh, he had it coming... But he didn't get what he deserved from me.  I was calm.

It's funny how kids will gorge themselves on sugar on holidays and it gives them some mistaken sense of bravado, making them believe they are invincible and won't have to answer for their actions.  No matter how much sugar you consume, it will not actually make me afraid of you.  And parents, it's not a show of love for your kids that you stuff them with garbage and then send them to school with a full day's supply of it.  Smart parents give their children smart limits.  Trust me on this.  

Anyway, you give my students sugar, and I promise you I'll give them a physical activity grade and make them run, jump, and maybe even dance (the dancing is always optional because I know how it feels to be forced into that humiliation, but they won't be allowed to sit down and be lazy If they don't participate.).  And you know, I could always load them up with sugar myself, then send your little angels home to you, fully fueled with their supper spoiled.  

Hey, it was your idea...  *evil laugh*

I have no further complaints about how my birthday went, except for the Windoze disaster that hit me later.  That's almost enough to permanently convert me to Macs.  Bloat ware, malware, vanishing Office Suite, confused laptop owner, and BAD Brother installation software and instructions.  I didn't finish fixing it until nearly 2 am.  I was tired, PMSing, and starting to feel very whiny by the time I dropped into bed.  And I smelled bad from being around a bunch of smokers.  

But I came home with half a birthday cake.  In the two days since, I've eaten two pieces and can't quite bring myself to eat any more.  The icing hasn't gotten crispy and air dried yet.  I kinda like it that way.  I think I'm going to freeze most of the cake, though.  I also found a cute top when we ate dinner at the Cracker Barrel.  My family decided, after waiting an hour for seats and another hour for our food, that we will no longer celebrate my birthday at a restaurant on February 14th.  :D. It's a bad night for timely food service, of course.  On the brighter side, the wait staff is far too busy to embarrass the birthday girl with singing.  I'm extremely okay with that.  

Someone sent me a dozen beautiful red roses (and daisies!) at work ... My jaw dropped when they were brought in.  The student who brought them in was grinning hugely (maybe at my expression?).  I'm still at a loss for words for the giver.  Wow... :). 

When it turns out with a happy ending, I'll say more, but it don't want to jinx it.  22 years ago, I had a near-fatal wreck the day after my birthday.  Same guy shocked me with roses.  (Lovely white ones that time.) It wasn't his fault -- I was distracted and pulled out in front of someone going well over the 45 mph speed limit. My fault, but as the police pointed out on the pavement, she was speeding.  He said the gouges in the pavement were caused when her anti-lock brakes locked at a very high speed.  If the impact had been six inches further back, I would have been killed.  I only bumped my elbow when I flinched at the last second from something I only saw with my peripheral vision.  

I was extremely lucky.  And now I remember that almost every time I drive, which is fine.  Old, young, none I've met yet are immortal, and we had best remember that.

For some reason, odd numbers make me uneasy and even numbers don't.  So my age us an odd number in an even year.  (And flip that for next year, and so on.) I'm sure it doesn't matter, but it weirds me out. 

I'm still dealing with the aftermath of my sinus infection / head cold, and I'm thrilled that it didn't turn into a bout of bronchitis for a couple of months.  Either my immune system is strong from all that juicing, or I treated it just right when I realized what was happening.  It started with a near-migraine, though it responded well to sinus meds when nothing else worked.  Advil-D Cold and Sinus in the mornings, and two Benadryl in the evenings and at bedtime.  Plus, Lemon-Ginger-Echinacea juice and pineapple-orange juice that I drank for days.  

Something in all of that helped me.  Maybe it was the combination of it all.  Maybe I just got lucky this one time, and I'm exceedingly grateful.  I still have to deal with the bleeding, crispy dry sinus passages for now, but I can breathe and smell my roses. :)

Now if I can just get some energy back and stop cramping, everything would be skippy.  But you know  I've gotta be under the weather on any three day weekend we might have. Lol

Sunday, February 2, 2014

Do You Have Any Friends? Go Fish.

"Do you have any friends?" That's the question I was asked last night by ... Someone dating a family member.  And then I was told "We're the only REAL friends you've got." Considering that he had just stooped to the level of one of her teenaged years boyfriends, who all acted like complete asses to me, I wasn't sure if I even wanted to respond.  It was a jackass thing to say, and an idiotic thing to presume.  

I never completed my resonse.  I hope she noticed the abrupt shift in his personality.  I'm not the only one who has seen it.  It was like a mask being ripped free to show the unpleasant truth. THAT'S who he really is.  And I will not stoop to that level.

Some people find it easier to pigeonhole you into a simple two dimensional character type, and then presume to not only know you, but what's best for you.  I don't call those people friends.  I'm sorry, but they don't know me.  It takes effort to truly know someone, and to be comfortable knowing they have clay feet.  

Because I think of friendship as more than just going bar hopping with drinking buddies, and I have no simple drinking buddies to think of, I have thought about this before.  I would hardly call someone trying to hurt me further with such an ugly remark, my friend.  

There are all kinds of friends.  

Friends you grab lunch with, on occasion, and once in a lifetime, attend a concert performed by the band you loved as a teenaged girl, but were never allowed to see in concert yourself.  

Friends come to your mother's funeral, even though you know that they avoid funerals, which really bother them, as much as they know funerals to bother you.  They can see from many rows back that you are sitting still, reacting to nothing in the service, and worry that you aren't coping well due to your zombie like state.  Friends who know that the veneer will crack, and know what the reaction will be.  Those are the ones you share your darkest secrets with, because there is no one else you can trust.

True friends can pick up right where they left off even if decades have passed.  Those friends I don't have to go to the trouble of impressing, because they always saw and accepted the real me.  They didn't decide that I need to be ripped out of "my shell" with liberal dousings of alcohol.  Inside the shell is where you find the pearl, after all.

My friends are the ones who click "like" on my workout and running posts, and encourage me when things aren't going well.  They don't complain about those posts, just as I don't complain about the endless posts of other people's children who do not enrich my day.  

Of course I have friends, but don't have to beg them for their company (that seems limited to family), and then be told no, I'll only go if you're doing MY favorite thing.  Friends sometimes do things they don't find enjoyable themselves, to make a friend happy.  

There's more to friendship, it seems, than alcohol and shopping.  Friends are there for you when there is nothing to gain, no favors to demand, no one-upping to do.




Labrum Tears and Fraying

Finally, I've remembered the progression of my hip injury.  I was about to say that I can't believe I forgot, but the truth is that it never registered in my mind what happened, and nobody asked the right questions to jog my memory.  It's just one of those things.  

When I was recovering from major surgery, *  I realized my right thigh had gone numb.  Half of my waking life was spent with no sensation in the skin.   In the 14 years since, that problem progressed to pain.  First it was a pins and needles pain, then it rapidly became stinging, and finally, it has turned into an electrical fire inside my leg that often makes standing and walking excruciatingly painful.  That's why, in Heathrow airport, I just dropped to the floor where we were waiting in line and sat.  I was hurting too much to stand, and my left leg had joined in the chorus of neuropathy.  

About four years ago, I started having pain in both of my hips whenever I stood up from sitting, so strong that I staggered for several minutes upon walking.   I thought it was arthritis, just getting old, or just my fault because I needed to lose weight.  So I started exercising and being careful about what I ate.  The pounds didn't come off, and I was still hurting.  Oddly enough, with an adequate warmup, this adult-onset runner didn't have any pain or problems from running.  

2000 - leg numbness began

Early 2009 - thigh starts pins and needles and aching

Fall 2009 - add intense, tear and panic-inducing burning pain with no provocation, to my thigh (can't just breathe for pain control when the pain is so bad you're crying, hiding in the bathroom during cafeteria duty.  It was only five minutes of hiding each day when it happened.  Turns out two hours of standing in the cafeteria daily is not good for my health.

Summer 2010 - doctors said nothing was wrong with my back (because, when your legs are hurting intensely, only the BACK could possibly be the cause!) Diagnosis : lose weight. Exercise. "Run five miles a day every day!" says my doctor... Track coach tries to tell me I will never be able to run, as if it's a secret club overweight people can't be part of.  This, when I asked for advice on how to start.  

Fall 2010 - discovered XBox Kinect will wear my butt OUT with their fitness programs.  Bought it for exercise and sweated a lot.

Winter 2010 - Your Shape Fitness Evolved apparently can't see this short woman well enough while I'm squatting low with my legs way apart and has me drop down until I feel pain in both hips. Never used that program again. I had trouble walking for weeks after that. 

May 2011 - bought gym membership and started spending three serious hours a day there, thinking The Biggest Loser was a useful model to follow. (I wasn't as overweight as they were, however.)  I didn't lose weight, even with three full rounds of cardio daily. Hmm... Also developed quite a fear of food at this time, which I haven't lost yet.
 
June 2011 - return of my... Shin Splints.  Blamed it on the treadmill. Thought "F*** it, if it's going to hurt just from walking, I might as well run."

November 2011 - ran first 5k with no real pain until afterward when I was in bed sick for three days, and could barely walk.  Lol. Newbie problems.... Didn't run again for six months because it was such an unpleasant experience.

Summer 2012 - running in the humidity outside.  Did everything possible to avoid shin splints. Ice baths, compression sleeves, ice packs, Tylenol... But my shins displayed constant edema, and I stopped running completely for a couple months out of desperation because just walking hurt. Squatting was a whole new realm of pain for my shins, which felt like the flesh was being pulled away from the bones.  Getting a little jealous of people who looked in worse shape than me running marathons and halfs, and actually enjoying it.

July 2012 - trip to Italy, walking for hours every day, nasty edema which gave me even nastier cankles. Lol. Stood in line for 4 hours at Heathrow and my legs hurt so badly I just sat in the floor right where I was. Realized just how badly getting old is going to suck.

September 2012 - back to running slowly on a rubberized track and feeling pain high up on my right hamstring.  Stretched and stretched, and it got a tiny bit better pain wise, but it still felt really tight.

October 2012 - ran the Mission March 5k. In the first 1/4 mile, I felt a burning, tearing pain in my right hip. I panicked and couldn't catch my breath.  I walked and ran the whole race, coming in dead last and completely discouraged, not to mention embarrassed. Still, it was to date, my fastest 5k, mile, and kilometer times.  Lots of aching and pain in my hip ever since made me wonder if I had a stress fracture, but I was afraid of the same ineptitude-disguised-as-hypochondriac-patient from the doctors.  "I'll give you pain pills, is that what you want?" NO, keep your drugs, you pusher.  That's likely when my frayed labrum developed a tear.  It felt like something tore inside.

February 2013 - ran Kiss It Goodbye 5k and by the end of the first mile, I was in panic breathing mode because my right leg and hip were screaming at me. I limped the second half of the race and at the end, I was told if I had wanted to get an official time or a bottle of water, I should have run faster.  Jerks. I still finished under 46 minutes, limping.  I was nowhere near last.  After that, I felt like I was dragging my right leg no matter what I did. 

March 2013 - first "ghost" race - Wounded Warrior 7k. I was having a lot of pain and leg dragging just when I walked, so I didn't participate.  I'm still kind of ashamed that I had to skip it.

April 2013 - tripped over my dragging leg stepping up onto a sidewalk and jammed my right leg HARD into my hip. It's still hurting, but my orthopedist wants to ignore it until my other hip problem is resolved.  See what I mean about the doctors? As many office visits as they can squeeze out of you. 

Early July 2013 - ran a 5k in awful heat and came in second in my age group.  :) No pain... I wonder if the heat actually helped me.

July 2013 - started series of six monthly cortisone injections. No real resolution there.  (I guess it's not a simple case of ITBS.)

January 2014 - discovered labral fraying with MRI.  Sent for physical therapy to hopefully smooth the fraying non-surgically.  Physical therapist tells me that the clicking I feel in each hip when I lift my knee denotes a tear and not just fraying.  

And you know what? That kind of cartilage doesn't have the ability to heal. It will have to be trimmed, removed, or tacked back onto the bone.  *sigh*

It seems to me that all of these problems are related - they caused and worsened each other, but the longer the problem goes unfixed, the more comorbid conditions will complicate things.

So his do I feel after my first week of physical therapy? Sore and aching.  But I expected that.  It's part of it. Maybe it will help.  Maybe it won't. I just have to wait and see.


* I had a breast reduction.  I'm not ashamed. It was necessary because I looked and felt freakish, was having skin infections and disintegration, and problems breathing, not to mention the massive ridiculous things prevented me from having a normal life. Somewhere over 100 stitches -- YES, it was major and I don't regret it one bit. I don't miss those ten pounds gone.  I still have to wear a minimizer, though, because they grew back somewhat.  Like in a nightmare.

Saturday, February 1, 2014

Dole Strawberry Dippers

I spotted these in the freezer case last night when I was considering the purchase of chocolate.  I'd been thinking longingly of the sweet stuff when my eyes fell upon Reese's cups near the perpetually unmanned checkout counters at the local Wal-Mart.  I was also longing for sweet, juicy summer strawberries so ripe you could smell them. I was in the freezer section looking for frozen strawberries that weren't full of added sugar. (There were no fresh strawberries at all.)

Then I found these Dole Strawberry Dippers.  



I thought these frozen, dark chocolate-covered strawberries would taste of the gloriousness that is a fresh strawberry coated in Dolci.  After you dip the strawberries in this warm, melted chocolate coating, it hardens, somehow squeezing the natural sweetness of the berry inside and intensifying the juicy goodness within.  Sometimes beads of strawberry juice appear on top of the chocolate. *droooool*

*Cough* 

I really do enjoy chocolate-covered strawberries.  I think that when the coating cools, it shrinks onto the berry, squishing it slightly and making it ooze sweet juice.

Before you wonder about the value of the Dole treat, I will admit that I read the serving size before I decided to try it, with the understanding that it would force me into moderation.  Each box contains six servings, individually wrapped.  (Not very green there, folks.). Each serving pack contains four, count em, FOUR strawberry halves dipped in dark chocolate (67% cocoa).  60 calories per pack.

Yes, I said halves.  Two whole strawberries per expensive serving.  I think the box was about $4, but I bought it knowing what a ripoff it was. After all, the berries inside could have been worth the price.  Maybe they were completely fabulous and delicious!  Maybe they would even save the world, not to mention my battered and bruised sole... Am I right? 

[Soul! I meant soul!  Darn you, Siri!  My sole is fine... That being said, in the darkness tonight I will mysteriously injure mine with an ill-found Lego to my heel, a fantastic happening considering that no children live in my house, and I own no Legos.  That's actually pretty depressing... I should have Legos or K'Nex or even a build-your-own roller coaster kit.  Because!  Because... You should give me Legos for my birthday.  Yeah!]

So I bought a box of 12 strawberry halves, frozen and dark chocolate coated.  I waited the required 10 minutes of thawing time and bit in, thoughtfully.  The chocolate was tasty.  The cold strawberry inside was a disappointment.  Not much strawberry flavor to speak of, unfortunately.  I've allowed subsequent tastings to thaw longer, but the berries are bland. Not very sweet, and redolent of a strawberry shush from Sonic after the flavoring has been sucked out and all that remains is the ground ice.

Maybe every berry half in the box wasn't a peak season fruit.  Maybe they were grown in a greenhouse, instead of the hot, Southern sun that makes our local berries so delicious. Maybe they need to thaw closer to room temperature to taste sweet because cold does dull my ability to detect nuances of sweetness.  I allowed one to thaw much longer, and the softer it got, the better it was, though still a bit of a disappointment.

They weren't all that. Nice idea, though they weren't worth the price.  I think I'll be better off if I buy a couple of boxes of Dolci, and when the strawberries arrive from shady parts unknown for Valentine's Day, I'll make them for my birthday.

What??  Well, it's better than the year I made red velvet birthday cupcakes and not a soul came by to see me at any time in the weeks surrounding my birthday.  I was going to share them... but nobody ever came to see me.  Maybe that's why I had a triglyceride count over 650 a couple of months later that almost made the technician faint.  Past 650 they couldn't measure it.  

Apparently I had cupcake frosting in my blood.  Maybe instead of blood.  Who knows?  I felt fine.  In the few years since I pulled it down to 310 in my last test.  I don't know what it is now.  Probably even lower.

So maybe... Chocolate covered strawberries for my Valentine birthday.  Since I will undoubtedly be spending it alone while everyone else in the world is spending theirs with their sweethearts, as per usual, I can't really help it if you don't get to have any of my strawberries.  :) I will enjoy them for days.