Saturday, January 29, 2011

Very Un-January Weather (no. 22)

I haven't gone for a bike ride since Christmas Day.  It snowed, and the snow never melted because it stayed so flipping cold.
Then yesterday and today, a reprieve!  The trail was clear enough and it was already in the 40s, so I headed out for my ride.  And for the first time in awhile, I was overdressed!  The gloves came off after 10 minutes, and the jacket after 40.  I wished I could've taken my tights off too, but I had no place to put them.
Anyway, myself and about 4 million other people were on the trail.  This blog will briefly summarize some of the things I encountered on this obstacle course of a ride.
1) The first (and last) parts of my ride are on a portion of the trail that goes through a retirement community.  No matter how loudly I shout "ON YOUR LEFT", these people don't hear me.  They tend to wander and drift about the path, so I am force to shout and subsequently apologize for startling them as I weave my way through the parade of the elderly.
2) When I got closer to my old office building in Glendale, I encountered no less than 100 people jogging in a big spread out and somewhat clumped pack.  They had no numbers on, so it was not a race, yet they didn't interact with each other in a way that would imply they all meant to be there at the same time.  Strange.
3) Strollers too numerous to mention.  And with that, sun bonnets and large floppy hats also plentiful.
4) Children on their bikes, who don't understand "on your left" means "please move to the right of the trail so that I may pass you without incident", forcing me to off-road it.
5) A shirtless man with headphones on, I think maybe doing "the Snake".
6) A man in a recumbent tricycle, with a large orange flag waving behind him.  If it was intended to make him more visible, it was superfluous.
7) Piles and piles of horse manure.
8) Squirrels.
9) An elderly couple, not heeding my warnings, feeding aforementioned squirrels.  When I approached this obstacle, slowly, the couple saw me, barely moved, and continued feeding the squirrels.  The squirrels were too distracted by the food and too unsure about which direction to go, so I ended up nearly running one over.  We shared a near-death experience as I was forced to suddenly stop, remain balanced (not enough room to unclip because the elderly couple never moved out of my way entirely), take the Lord's name in vain, and allow the squirrel to dart back and forth three times before finally running away and allowing me to continue forward instead of falling over sideways. 
With these amusing encounters and the pleasant temperature, it was a lovely 25 miles.

"And I'm on your freaking left".

Sunday, January 23, 2011

Bl(ow)g Tattoo (21)

When I was like, 19 or 20, I went and got my second tattoo.  I was taking Japanese in college AND painting, so I figured I should just paint my own kanji character and get that tattooed on my lower back.  So I did, and it was unbelievably painful.  I actually fainted.  Straight up passed up.  I remember my friend Drew trying to tell me something (turns out it was "keep still"), and then the world went gray.  
I can count how many times I've ever even felt faint on one hand:
1) when my step-brother Josh's ulcer put him in agony for the entire drive back from Denver to Laramie
2) when my friend Eric had to change the gauze in his mouth after having his wisdom teeth removed
3) changing my own bandages after a particular surgery
4) after standing up too quickly in my Dad's kitchen (also actually passed out that time)
And then getting this second tattoo.
Anyway, I had always wanted to add to it, and fix the little extra dot that occurred while I was apparently twitching before I lost consciousness, but was always too scared to go back.
But after the trials I went through in 2010, I figured I could handle expanding on the tattoo.  I even knew what I wanted to get.
I wanted a Cheshire cat grin moon, stars, and I wanted my kanji to look better.  So I sketched something, sent it off to an artist at Sol Tribe in Denver, and she sent something back so beautiful.


...Sol Tribe artist's

Brief explanation: the kanji means "trust", like the kind of trust you have in a friend.  Or the kind of trust you have that everything happens for a reason, something meaningful, and worthwhile.  The needle for my spinal tap and blood patch went RIGHT through this symbol.
The Cheshire cat has always had a special place in my heart.  I *love* Alice in Wonderland.  And have always particularly liked the John Tenniel illustrations, especially of the cat in the tree, greeting Alice.
The moon also is symbolic to me.  It's like a visual, tangible reminder how small our planet is in the Universe.  Something to feel connected to (by the pull of Earth's gravity), our own special space object always orbiting us.  OK, so that one is a bit hard to explain.  But I always enjoy seeing it up in the sky.  Especially after a new moon when you haven't seen it for awhile.  That waxing little crescent, grinning at you, "I'm back"!
So my drawing combined all these elements - sharper looking "trust" kanji, waxing crescent moon/Cheshire cat grin, with stars and leaves to help combine the astral plane the moon is in with the physical plane where the cat is sitting in the tree.  Waxing moon, coming back from the dark side, growing into it's full potential, kind of like the transition I feel my life is taking.
And so BOOM I go in to Sol Tribe totally pumped and ready.  The artist stencils the drawing onto my back, gets me settled in a chair, and starts.
Seriously, not two minutes into it, I get faint.  Full on pale, weak, shaky, can't barely say "I think I need to lay down".  Nauseated, semi-conscious, I flop onto the table, and remain in the fetal position for the entire rest of the hour and fifteen minutes it takes her to finish.
Mindful breathing.  Feel my breath in, feel my breath out.  Not quite enough distraction.  Mindful tapping on my arm.  I squeeze my fingers on my arm, pinky finger, pointer finger.  Breathe in.  Breathe out.  It is occurring to me that this reaction I am having is fairly powerful.  I mention to the artist, "I think you must be working on some kind of acupressure point, or you've found the spot I've been holding onto all my emotions I've held in this year because this is intense".  She totally agrees, "let's exorcise those demons" she says.
Then it's all over, and we can't decide on what colors to add.  She tells me to come back later, and we'll figure it out then.  My back is a swollen, red, ravaged mess, and my blood pressure is at like, 50/0. 
Tottering out of the store, I get in my husband's car, and bawl for the next several hours.  These demons are exorcising the hell out, that's for damn sure.
So for as un-rock star a performance that was for me, I am strongly believing that it was completely cathartic, and not at all pathetic.

Friday, January 14, 2011

Happy Blog-versary to us!

In honor of our upcoming 5-year anniversary tomorrow, I will give my Husband the gift of words, and not wood, as is apparently the traditional gift.  Which is kind of lame. 
Top 5 favorite (most easily remembered) moments (in order of occurrence) so far:
1)      There was one kiss, in my apartment on Downing, up against the fridge, that stopped my heart.  Actually, our first kiss, drunk in the bar, almost made me faint, but that was maybe partially due to blood alcohol content.
2)      When we were walking down the Strip in Vegas, a car pulled out of an alleyway and almost ran me over.  Like, literally almost ran me over.  My mild and even-tempered husband slammed his hands down on the hood of this car, and gave the driver a “want a piece of this??” look.  I swooned.
3)      When he saved me from a spider with incredible ninja-like skills.  We both saw it at the same time: eyes locked onto this mouse-sized creature running across the wall.  Before I could react, Husband is off the couch, shoe off and in one hand, slapping the hell out of it in one swift/deft movement.  Spider is only stunned, and runs beneath the TV cabinet.  I’m standing on the couch like a little girl, probably squealing with giant scared eyes.  Husband is on the hunt, spider is terminated.  Safe!
4)      When he came back to the hospital to be with me for my blood patch (fix-a-flat) procedure.  He dropped me off, went to work, took care of business, and came back to be there for me.
5)      When I was telling friends the story of my spinal headache and ordeals one time over dinner and then felt self-conscious talking so much about it that I dismissed how bad it really was and started to change the subject.  Husband validated the seriousness of the headache by saying it was more than just a headache.  It was my brain sinking in my skull without enough spinal fluid.  It was real, and it was bad.
So maybe there are some things we take for granted (like cerebral spinal fluid, for example) until there’s some moment that puts it all into perspective, and reminds you how meaningful it all is. 
That’s better than wood, any day.

Saturday, January 8, 2011

Paging Dr. Blog, #19 please

So I have always been impressed with doctors.  Like, my whole life.  I remember our family physician (and friend) when I was little, and feeling there was just *something* special about that white lab coat.  The stethoscope, little knee reflex hammer, pager, and other related and important-looking accessories just added to my sense of awe.
Lately, I have wondered why I put physicians on a pedestal.  It’s not like they’ve ever actually saved my life, or done anything miraculous for me…or have they?
I see them like magicians.  The lab coat is like their cloak.  Prescriptions like potions, lab tests like magic spells.  Magic wand?  Thermometer maybe.  At least they don’t have creepy wizard beards.
It’s like they already know everything about me, just by knowing the human body.  They see inside me, by interpreting lab results and reading MRIs, X-rays, etc.  And ideally, it’s like all they want to do is fix me and make me feel better.  That’s their WHOLE JOB.  Why wouldn’t I love that?  Someone who understands how I work, someone who can pull out their prescription pad and give me something to keep me from getting pregnant, lower my cholesterol, eliminate acne, ease my anxiety, put me to sleep at night, reduce my tingling, alleviate my pain.  They see my flaws and know how to fix them. 
I even like the words that are used as part of a doctor visit.  It's health care. It's finding the appropriate treatment.  Someone who cares, and wants to treat me well/appropriately/effectively?  Sign me up!  Preferably in-network...
And when all their spells and potions don’t work, I at least respect them for trying.  It’s what I would do for a friend – anything that I could. Not saying it’s not devastatingly disappointing when they just don’t know what to do.  Haven’t they ever watched House??  Come on.
I was at a meeting the other day with a few different specialists in the room.  And what was so amazing about this meeting was not only how much they all wanted to work together to best help their patients, but how freaking smart they all are.  It’s like they knew what the other was going to say next, and with a few acronyms (like a secret magician language?) they had complete understanding.  I have never been to such a short yet completely productive meeting.  Impressive.  I smiled on the inside the whole time, just pleased to be a part of the “behind the scenes” of health care (even though I understood maybe, a third of what they were talking about).  I made a list of acronyms and words to google later.
Things learned: “DLCO” is diffusion capacity, or a measurement of the lungs ability to transfer gasses.  “ERA”s are endothilin receptor antagonists.  Endothilin is a potent vasoconstrictor, so by blocking it you have a vasodilation effect. Most of you have probably heard of another kind of vasodilator, sildenafil, – a phosphodiasterase inhibitor that increases level of cGMP, leads to vasodilation through the nitric oxide pathways, and either results in a hard on (at a higher dose and in the presence of arousal) or relief from pulmonary hypertension symptoms.  You guessed it – Viagra. 
So, anyway, hooray for doctors!  You stand up there on those pedestals, white coats blowing in the wind.  Do no harm.  Heal me.  Fix me, make me better.  And don’t take away my Xanax.

Saturday, January 1, 2011

My year in 2010 (Blog 18)

I found it interesting that there is so much data available to me about what I did in 2010.  Facebook kept track of all my status updates (as seen above). allows me to search all workouts I entered.  Google (as I discovered on accident one night) has saved every single search I have done since 2008.  It's like the creepiest diary ever, that I didn't even realize I was keeping.

Data provided by
Total workouts entered in 2010 = 205; 46,380 calories burned
79 runs, for a total distance of 214.04 miles; 20,439 calories burned
86 weight workouts; 13,144 calories burned
20 bike rides, 457.74 miles; 8,484 calories burned
1 hike, 4 "activities" (roller skating)
15 walks (all on vacations)

Google history: extensive.  I don't know if you've ever looked at yours, but it's weirdly fascinating/horrifyingly personal.  Mine is probably about a quarter address entries looking for directions to all the places I had to go for work.  The other quarter is food-related searches (recipes, restaurants, etc.), and the rest were attempts to find medical information related to why I was going numb.  The food related searches bring back fun memories -

January 22, 11:09am "tastykake".  Mmm. 
February 11, 3:03pm "bacon chocolate"
May 26, 8:18pm "apple flip little debbie"
June 29, 2:46pm "denver cupcake truck"
July 13, 3:49pm "gigi's cupcakes denver"
August 7, 4:48pm "in n out burger"
August 17, 9:53am "gin and juice"
September 2, 8:52am "how to make a layer cake"
September 27, 8:38pm "extra virgin coconut oil"
October 2, 4:09pm "campbells hamburger pie"
December 18, 7:01pm "pig n pancake"
December 28, 5:25pm "how to microwave a sweet potato"
December 30, 12:59pm "strawberry salad dressing"

The other searches just bring back memories on how desperately I was trying to find what was wrong with me.  "lupus", "lyme disease", "diabetes", "hypothyroidism", "lumbar puncture", "spinal headache", "piriformis syndrome", "ulnar nerve entrapment", etc.  And some searches for how to write resumes and cover letters, and research on the physicians I now work for.  Interesting, really, what I googled all year.'s to the end of an incredibly challenging year, and the beginning of a brand new one. 1-1-11.  Cheers!