Tuesday, October 11, 2011

"Vacation" Reading

I'm back to work full time today after surgery and recovery. I was at work halftime last week but my brain wasn't really ready for it and neither was my body. *Note to self - if you have to have hip surgery again give yourself three full weeks for recovery time.

I was very optimistic about how much reading I would be able to get done during my time away. The first week was spent in a narcotic induced haze. I looked at magazines and did a little reading but didn't really have the stamina (or ability) to tuck into a book until almost the second week.

Here's what I read and what I would suggest or not for those of you looking for a good book.

1) Made in the USA by Billie Letts - entertaining book but not the best one I've ever read. I really like Letts' writing. If you want to check something out by here try Honk and Holler Opening Soon. It's the best of her's I've read.

2) One Day by David Nicholls - this was my book club book. I didn't love it although I loved the Britishness of the story and picturing being in the different places the characters went (Sir Aurthur's Seat, Chichester, etc). I never really got to a point I liked either of the characters. That made it difficult to like or care too much about the story.

3) Homer's Odyssey: A Fearless Feline Tale, or How I Learned About Love and Life with a Blind Wonder Cat by Gwen Cooper. I loved this book. (Amanda Morken you have to read it) I really like memoirs to start with but then the story of this kitten and the woman's devotion to it made me love the story. It's a must read - especially if you like cats.

4) Something Borrowed by Emily Giffin. I wasn't a fan of this book - in fact, I read the required amount (100 pages minus my age = 67 pages) and then returned it to the library. Within the first chapter the main character has slept with her best friend's fiance and then spends the rest of the book trying to justify it. Not my thing.

5) I Don't Know How She Does it: The Life of Kate Reddy, Working Mother by Allison Pearson. Another book I really liked. I saw one of my good friends EVERYWHERE in this book. (She's getting it for Christmas) There was potential for it to take a turn to a place I didn't want it to go and it didn't go there. I don't really like Sarah Jessica Parker but I'll probably see the movie.

and finally

6) Then Came You by Jennifer Wiener. After loving Good in Bed and In Her Shoes by the same author I was excited to try a new one of her books. It was a disappointment. I finished the book - unlike Something Borrowed - but it never fully engaged me and there were enough unnecessary and controversial things in the story that I didn't really enjoy it. If you want a good read try Good in Bed instead.

Next is The Scorch Trials, the second book after The Maze Runner. I'm excited for this one and have a deadline for getting it back to the library. I should be done with it by the end of the week.

Friday, September 16, 2011

My Brain Needs a Vacation

Stupid things I've said lately

1) To a young good looking guy in the hardware store "what is a three-way?".

2) Left a message for a potential client telling them I wanted to find out if I can trust them or not.

3) "Hello - I would like to talk to you about something on your bush."

I would like to blame the drugs but I'm off them as of Wednesday.

Friday, September 09, 2011

Remembering September 11th

I always feel a little bad about having mixed emotions on September 11th. For one thing it was a terrible day for our country. I can't believe it was ten years ago. I was one of few people who chose to not live in front of the television the week it happened. I prayed instead and went about my life. I didn't think dwelling in and being overwhelmed by the sadness of the situation would do anything to help. I didn't want to get stuck in the tragedy. I knew I couldn't handle that. It was a sad day and when the anniversary comes around it's a reminder of how fragile life really is.

However, September 11th is also my niece's birthday. She turned one ten years ago. I think having something to truly celebrate that day is actually a really good thing. My family would be very different if it didn't have Kelly in it. She is a spitfire to the 20th degree and is one of the most pleasant kids to be around. I love her like none other and I celebrate every year that she is alive.

That's where the mixed emotions come in. It's sort of this weird middle ground of emotion where I know I should be sad or thinking of people's whose lives were lost on 9/11 but yet all I really think about is the joy one little girl's life gave the people she knows on 9/11. I find it hard to be sad in the face of that blessing.

They were talking on the radio this morning about where they were when they heard about what was going on in New York and elsewhere. It got me thinking about where I was. I was in my second year of law school and I was getting ready for class in my still pretty new to me apartment and I got this feeling I should turn on the TV. I never have the TV on when I'm getting ready so it was a weird feeling and I decided to follow it. (I'm one to rarely discount my woman's intuition and usually attempt to follow it pretty closely.) I turned on the TV as footage of the first plane came on the news. I think my feeling about the television was probably within minutes, if not seconds, of when the first crash occurred. The commentators were still thinking it was a small commuter plane that crashed into the building at that time. I watched what was going on as I finished getting ready and then I went to school. I kept the radio on and then the timing gets a little bit foggy. I can't remember clearly if I heard on the radio about the second plane or if I made it to school and saw the footage. Because the footage played over and over of the second plane I get confused in my memory where I first heard. Needless to say my professor tried to have my morning class but it was let out early and classes were either canceled or not attended for the rest of the day.

I remember a kind of numb/dull feeling that came over me after about an hour. That's when I decided it was time to go about my day. I tried to run errands - at businesses that were mostly closed - and then I just gave up and went home. I allowed myself an hour of news everyday that first week and picked up the paper and tucked it away for another day sometime in history.

I never thought I would have a time in my life where I would say "I remember where I was when....". People talk about that with JFK being shot, or the man walking on the moon. I never expected to have National tragedy in my life but I do. I wonder what my niece and nephew will have as theirs.

If you feel like commenting and letting me know where you were when you heard about the World Trade Center I would love to hear about it. But also, I would love it if you could come up with something to celebrate about the day. It was already ten years ago. I can't believe it. I think it's important to remember as well as look forward.

Tuesday, September 06, 2011

Two weeks

I realized yesterday that I am two weeks from surgery. It sent me in to a bit of a frenzy. I realized that my time to really clean my house for a while was ending. I'm going to be camping next weekend so I'll probably have a little time Sunday after I get back to pick things up but I have no other pretty empty days to really get after it. Needless to say, my day was spent in frantic cleaning mode. I took a break for "Happy Hour" at my house with Shannon and Katie but other than that I was the Tasmanian Devil, swirling around and doing everything I had been putting off for 6 months and other things I had been putting off for a couple weeks. I felt great walking downstairs this morning and smelling the smell of "clean" left behind yesterday. 

The two week deadline has also made me more stressed at work. I plan to only be out a little over two weeks but I know thinking I'm going to come back full time that third week is in no way realistic so I need to start thinking more about three weeks. That's a big chunk of time to be out with the amount of needy clients I have on my book. My assistant has gotten more and more useless and of course decided to take a majority of his vacation right before and right after I am scheduled to be gone. I should have been more assertive with him and told him he couldn't take his vacation at that time but I felt bad that his plans would have to change. I stopped feeling bad last week when I overheard him complaining about the fact that he was going to be gone and then I was going to be gone, only to be back for a few short days before he left again. I'm sorry the fact that I have to have surgery got in the way of your fun a-hole. I wanted so badly to lay into him about those comments but I bit my tongue and talked to the department manager about it. I'll let her deal with the problem. Hopefully she'll be able to tell him what needs to be said without the emotions that I would have behind it.

It doesn't help that one of the final things I really feel I need to do before the surgery is get my Will and Powers of Attorney finalized. It's bad that it has taken surgery for me to finally decide to get it signed (I've had it drafted and ready to go for years) but it has. I can't even count the amount of times I've told clients not to wait to get their wills drafted. Clearly I didn't listen to my own advice. Now it's with fear that I've decided to finalize things.

It isn't like I expect to DIE. I expect to come out of it happy and healthier than I am as I sit here today, but there is that nagging fear in the back of my mind. I've actually never been afraid of death. I know I'm going to Heaven and I know really the people left behind are the ones who suffer the most but even though I'm not super afraid of death (just the questions about the unknown of death) there is a BIG part of me who also doesn't really WANT to die yet. My surgeon has done thousands of these surgeries. I don't know for sure but I'm fairly certain the amount of deaths caused by the procedure is very small but really it's the first time I've been through something significant like this where I thought - you know KT, you have to realize it is a possibility. I guess it's better to be prepared but I'm still pretty scared at times when I really think about it.

SO I guess I'll get those Estate Planning documents finished and then stop thinking about it. That's the only answer and it's the one I'm going to go with.

Also, if you are reading this and you are a praying person if you could pray for Mr P and Phinneygirl who I wrote about in a recent post. Mr. P is back at the hospital and dealing with some significant health issues. I'm not sure if it is from his surgery or some other underlying health issue but they both could really use some prayers for strength for both of them and healing for him. Thanks. I appreciate it and I know they both appreciate it as well.

Thursday, August 18, 2011

The C Word and Perspective

NO. Not THAT C word. Cancer. Or maybe that's what you were thinking in which case forget the OTHER c word. Great, now you probably can't stop thinking about the first C word, or the second, or which ever.

ANYWAY

This last spring I had the great fortune to meet up with some friends of mine in Bellevue at church. They suggested we go to brunch so Kirstin and I joined them at this great little place in Redmond. Mr.P and Phinneygirl (as they are known on the blogosphere) are about my age and have a wonderful and busy little family. They have a two year old and an eight month old who are such sweet kids but still are young kids and keep both Mr.P and Phinneygirl on their toes. While we were at brunch I really had a chance to look at Mr.P while we were talking and eating. He looked very thin. I asked him if he had been sick and he said he had been fine but had been losing enormous amounts of weight without trying. Now Mr.P is a tall thin man but this was taking his thinness to another level. To make a long story short they found out about a month ago that he had Stage 1 kidney cancer.

When Phinneygirl told me about the diagnosis I was very sad but also a lot humbled. I try not to complain too much about my hip pain but I know at times I make it a limitation that it maybe doesn't have to be. Or at least I mention that it's a limitation. I say - "I can't do that because of my hip", instead of just "I can't do that". I don't like having limits and I want people to know it's a short term limitation and not just laziness or disinterest. The reality though is I could call less attention to my injury but simply not mentioning it.

My problem isn't a life threatening one - although having surgery is never a 100% sure bet. I don't have the pressure of having a young family - not that Mr.P's life is any more important than mine but it does put a different type of pressure on him with his family dynamic. His journey toward good health is changing my perspective on my journey toward good health.

He is in surgery right now and I'm in constant prayer for him and his wife. I know she must be worried and I also know after this surgery more questions will be present - mostly had the cancer spread. My prayer is this is a short chapter in Mr.P's life and after the completion of the surgery the family is able to move forward and it gives a new perspective on things for them.

I pray all of you are aware of and thankful for each healthy day you have. Mr.P is going to get through this and be better off than he has been recently. I know that without a doubt. I'm thankful for his and Phinneygirl's friendship and I am excited to keep walking with them through this crazy roller coaster we live.

Tuesday, August 09, 2011

You Know It's Time For Hip Surgery When.....

I was told about an on-line group for people with hip resurfacings and joined it last week. I have been getting the postings for the day sent to me and this one came up yesterday. It is scary how many of these pertain to me now.

You know it is time for hip surgery when...

You haven't worn socks for months and it isn't summer time.

You don't own a pair of shoes with laces.

You don't choose stores by selection or price, but by parking availability.

You drop something on the floor and have to kick it closer to the counter so you have something to lean on.

You turn around and go home when you discover you forgot your cane.

If you've ever walked too far and sent your companion back for the car.

The bottom shelf of your refrigerator is empty, and the top shelves are crammed full.

You avoid businesses with stairs and no elevator. No hand rail, no way.

You spend the weekend recovering from your normal work week instead of the other way around.

You only throw the ball for the dog if you have a pick-up thingy handy.

You trained the dog to walk himself on the treadmill that would otherwise only collect dust.

You decide clean floors are overrated.

Canes become fashion statements and you admire someone else's.

You start eating at drive-through joints because you don't want to get out of the car.

You have stopped one or more of the activities you did at twenty because of pain, not because you know it could kill you.

Your joints feel older than the rest of you.

You can relate to people in Aleve commercials, yet you know they are lying.

Your aching joints wake you up more often than your bladder does.

Friday, August 05, 2011

Drinking the Kool-Aid



Just short of two years ago I took Dave Ramsey's Financial Peace University (FPU) Class. My friend Jeanette introduced me to Dave Ramsey and I'm so thankful she did. I wish it had been five years earlier. Financial Peace University is a 13 week class that shares Dave's philosophy on everything financial from budgeting to investing in the stock market. I took to his philosophy like a fish to water. After the first two weeks I realized my financial house was really screwed up. I was way too far in debt and was barely living from paycheck to paycheck even with a decent salary. My student loans didn't help the situation but I had amassed a significant credit card balance, a car loan and a rather large mortgage on my home. I didn't understand fully what having to pay creditors did to the strength of your money and the thought of financial self-control hadn't even crossed my mind. I realized I was stressed out about my finances and it made me feel like I was living in a house of cards that could come crashing down around me at any time.

All of that changed when I fully embraced Dave's principles. It hasn't been easy and I'm not perfect. In fact I totally screwed up just this last month. BUT I've also had HUGE successes. In the last not quite two years I've paid off all of my debt (about $60k) except my now two mortgages and one mortgage sized student loan debt. As of this month I'm moving on to Dave's baby step three which is to actually begin to save. This is probably the most exciting step in the process to me. I'm finally starting to pay myself instead of someone else. Dave would say I really should pay off that student loan debt first (and I'm not really "Dave Debt Free") but I feel like I'm to a point where the payment is enough of an insignificant amount of my paycheck that I can lump it into baby step six and treat it like a mortgage. When that last student loan is cleared it's going to be amazing but in the meantime I need to have a bit of a larger emergency fund in place to deal with being a reluctant landlord. It's been a challenging and rewarding journey. I probably need to lead a FPU class and share my enthusiasm with other people that way.

I want to encourage anyone who feels a bit lost in the financial world to find an FPU class or even just find Dave's radio show. I listen to him everyday and there is great peace in hearing that 1) you are heading in the right direction 2) you aren't the only one with financial concerns and 3) more than likely you aren't as bad off as some of the callers. I know - I'm horrible.

If you are interested and want more information click either the link above or below and I hope it will take you to Dave's website. I'd love to hear success stories from you guys as you go along. You won't be sorry for one minute that you started this journey. It's not easy but it is one of the most rewarding things I personally have ever done.

Monday, July 18, 2011

That Umbilical Cord

I don't have kids. I have animals.

We threw a surprise 40th wedding anniversary party for my parents this weekend and my sister made a great DVD of pictures from them dating and us growing up. Two of the photos were of me basically loving a kitten to death.

Somethings never change.

To this day I have a love for animals that may be a bit unhealthy by some standards. In movies when people die I sometimes don't cry. If an animal dies or is injured it almost inevitable that I will dissolve into tears.

I have no husband and no children but I do have Moxie and Tessie. Moxie, my 100 pound 2 1/2 year old Bernese Mountain Dog and Tessie, my 7 pound who knows what cat fill my house with almost more than any human could. I feel guilt when I'm not around them enough. I feel pride when they show how well behaved and smart they can be. It's weird, I know.

Moxie is at the vet today getting her picture taken. She has a limp for some still unknown reason (probably sympathy for me and my stupid limp for all I know) so I took her to the vet to get some x-rays and just to make sure everything is a-OK. I don't usually see her during the day anyway but just knowing she is at the vet instead of at home in her dark cool cave of a garage where she has access to her yard if she wants or needs it has her more on my mind. I can't imagine what I would be like as a mother to a human. How in the world do you not fall apart at the slightest inconsistency in your day?

We talked today about what it will be like to lose your dog. Two of my friends have dogs who are significantly older than Mox. I remember how heartbreaking and horrific it was to lose Ella. I loved that cat but a cat is different than a dog. I love Tess a lot. I would definitely miss her cuddles in the crook of my legs at night and her sometimes scary attention and eyes that don't close because they are so big. However, she doesn't depend on me the way Moxie does which creates a different type of bond. It's never easy to lose a family member - whether two legged or four.

For now, I'm going to drum my fingers until my mom picks up her granddog from the vet for me and I know she is safely home and then I'm going to hug and kiss her when I see her at home tonight. I'm going to enjoy every moment I have with her and try really hard to not think about a time when those moments might no longer exist.

Wednesday, May 25, 2011

My Hip Journey

It started in May 2010. That little twinge of pain. A little stiffness when I first stood up. The pain of walking for the first few blocks. It was weird but it wasn't alarming. I was in Europe at the time I first started noticing things were off so I figured it was just a matter of walking more than usual and having a slight strain in the hip. But then it didn't go away. It would hurt horribly when I would run and then worse when I didn't. I remember very clearly walking to Safeco Field with my nephew and feeling like a knife was stabbing me in the front of my leg.

Something was wrong.

My mom had suggested I try her chiropractor and see if he could help me. After a summer of discomfort that was increasing I decided it was time to go see a doctor. Because I'm cheap and I figured with my mom's "free appointment" it would be less expensive to go to the chiropractor I went in to see him. His first thought was things were a bit odd because the pain was in the front of my leg. Usually, hip pain comes from the sacroiliac which would manifest itself in your lower back. My pain was almost exclusively in the direct front of my left leg. He took a bunch of x-rays and said to come back in a day or two. Before I was even back to the office he called me and let me know something was amiss and he needed me to come back the next day as early as possible.

My mind immediately went to cancer. When I got there he showed me the strange way my body was shaped. There was no tumor. No cancer. Just a weird body. Duh. I could have told him that. I've known my hips were uneven since I was in Junior High. I've had a sway in my back that is ridiculous for longer than that. My toes curl under in a way I can't control which evidently is from having short ligaments in the back of my legs and bottom of my feet. I could have told him I was weird shaped. It didn't take a medical degree to see that.

What concerned him though was the cloudiness he was seeing in my hip joint. That I didn't understand or know about previously. He wanted to take further pictures so he did and told me to come back again the next day.

The following day he explained to me that the cloudiness in my joint were actually cysts that had developed because of the sharp angle of my hip. He told me this was above his pay grade (my words not his) and sent me to get better pictures and to a specialist in odd hips. I'm thankful for his quick recognition of the fact that what I had was not a chiropractic issue and his referral to Dr. Lovell who is one of the top rated doctors for my type of issue. When I saw him in October I was told by his assistant, for the first time, that a full hip replacement was necessary.

What!? I'm 33 years old. I'm active. I'm not in THAT much pain. What do you mean, full replacement? But they were adamant. It was my only option at this point. The bone had died. I had no space left in my joint leaving the ball and socket bone on bone, he was surprised to see me as mobile as I was.

That diagnosis was devastating to me and to my too mom I think. We both drove pretty quietly back to her car. It didn't seem like it could be real. In my mind they had the wrong x-rays. I was getting a second opinion.

The second opinion though was more of the same. By the end of October I knew surgery was inevitable. The second doctor gave me advice to put it off as long as I could. He suggested I stay away from doctors. He gave me a prescription to an arthritis medication and suggested I take it as necessary along with Tylenol. The best thing to do was to put it off and get as old as possible before I had to do anything about it.

The hip replacement would end my ability to run and jump. This was a limitation I wasn't very willing to put my arms around. The new joint would be good and pain free but it would be not as strong as a real joint and it would wear out. A second replacement was inevitable. If I limited my activity level it might postpone the second or third replacement but future surgery was a reality. I was depressed. I was depressed and my pain steadily increased.

I told myself I could put the surgery off for years and that maybe the technology would improve in the meantime. I would stay away from doctors and I would show them, just like I showed the doctors who told me I shouldn't be walking around on my previously broken and damaged ankle. I am nowhere close to surgery on that joint and they had told me years ago that I shouldn't put it off. I was determined to do the same thing with my hip. I couldn't ignore the change in my walking pattern that eventually turned into a constant limp and I couldn't ignore the knife like pain that began to be ever more prevalent in my left leg.

Finally, the end of May I took Moxie for a hike. It was steeper than I expected and by the end of the hike Moxie was so hot I was practically carrying her and I wasn't sure my hip would get me back to the car. It scared me as I thought about having to be helped off the Butte and I knew I couldn't put the surgery off any longer. In one afternoon I went from thinking I was hopefully another five years off from surgery to thinking it couldn't wait another month. The next Monday I scheduled a second appointment with Dr. Lovell. He couldn't see me until the beginning of August but I knew I wanted to meet with him instead of his assistant if he was going to be the one cutting on me (a terrifying enough thought without knowing the surgeon).

In the meantime, I had a life to live. My prescription had run out so I went to my primary doctor and she renewed my prescription and agreed with my assessment of surgery being necessary sooner rather than later. My summer has been filled with weddings - eight between Memorial Day and Labor Day this year. The first one was in Seattle and I had a chance to go to a baseball game with Pete during the weekend I was over there. He mentioned to me an advertisement he had seen for a "new" hip replacement that allows people to remain active and lead their same lives as before. I listened but didn't really think anything of it. Then my mom told me she had seen the same thing. If my mom and Pete were both telling me about it, two people I love and respect very much, I figured it was worth looking into. My mom emailed me a link she had found with information about it and I did some research. It turns out it wasn't a full replacement of the hip. Instead it was a resurfacing of the existing joint, putting space back and limiting the bone on bone situation that occurs when a joint "wears out". There were some limitations in the candidates however. The most alarming to me was that it was not a good surgery for someone who was in their childbearing years. I don't know that I will ever have children but I also don't know that I'm at a place in my life where I can make that forever decision.

I decided it wasn't fair to just decide outright that I wasn't a candidate without at least discussing things with a doctor. I wasn't sure if there was a local doctor who would do the surgery but I decided it was worth looking into. There were in fact two doctors in Seattle who were authorized and trained in the resurfacing. One was at the UW Hospital and one was at Swedish. That's an easy decision for me. I've always thought Swedish was one of the best hospitals in Seattle and I didn't like the idea of med students being involved in my surgery so I made an appointment with Dr. Pritchett. He was able to get me in within a few weeks.

I was super nervous about the appointment. I didn't want to get my hopes up but I also was feeling as though this might be such an amazing answer for me. To make a long story short, Kathy, my Godmom went with me to the appointment and we both really liked Dr. Pritchett. He told me I was a candidate - despite the fact Dr. Lovell had said the bone was dead, which Dr. Pritchett saw but didn't see as a concern and that the surgery had changed so there were no longer necessary concerns over having children after the operation. It was a two week recovery vs. two months and once I healed I would not feel like I had ever had a hip surgery. No one would be able to tell (unlike with a replacement where some form of my limp would likely remain) and while I shouldn't go out and become a marathon runner my limitations would be few. He said I would feel as though I could run marathons but the resurfacing would likely wear out more quickly if I did. The wearing out of the resurfacing would lead to either another resurfacing or a full replacement at that time. I'm not anxious for more surgery or pain so I think I'll remain at the finish line cheering on all of you crazy runners. I can still coach basketball in comfort and should be able to run on occasion if the spirit moves me - which it usually doesn't honestly. I'll stick to my bike and the elliptical.

There is a higher failure rate in the resurfacing procedure than in the replacement (5% vs 0%) but I would say a 5% risk is worth taking. Plus if the resurfacing doesn't work I will still be able to get a replacement. The opposite is not true.

My surgery is scheduled for September 19th. I have those weddings to get through remember? I'm still meeting with Dr. Lovell in early August and if he sets off alarm bells things might change but at this point I'm very willing to take the risk and see where it leads me.

This journey has been a very isolating time. It has made me have a deeper appreciation for the people I know who are in chronic pain. It's impossible for your peers to understand the sadness and frustration that comes with that feeling and feeling as though you have limitations where others don't. That's a feeling I didn't understand until I've lived it. My heart now goes out to you and I apologize for not having more compassion for you before now.

Thank you to everyone who has supported me as I've gone through this.

My pre-op appointment is on Friday. I'll try to do a better job of documenting what's going on than I have recently. Maybe it will give someone else who is feeling alone in their situation feel like there is actually someone else who gets it.

If you are a praying person - please remember me on September 19th and the days leading up to that day as I'm incredibly scared for the procedure and the healing time to follow.

That's all for now,
The Future Bionic Woman

Monday, February 28, 2011

Monday

Things about Monday:

1) It's the only day of the week I find myself eating a cookie and a piece of chocolate at approximately the same time.

2) It's the most difficult day to work out but when I do I set myself up for a good week.

3) I like to close my eyes while I'm talking on the phone with clients on Mondays. This might be because I'm actually falling asleep during these conversations and it might be because I'm concentrating extra hard. That's for me to know and no one else to ever find out.

4) It's a day of the week that generally requires afternoon caffeine. (See #3)

Other things about work:

1) I love that you can bring a bag of baked goods that taste horrible because your mom raised you not to waste anything and so even though your Crisco turned bad you still used it anyway and they disappear by the end of the day with no one even asking a question.

2) I have to walk far to great of a distance to go to the bathroom.

3) My employer doesn't like to buy it's employee's sticky notes. I use three times more sticky notes on Mondays than any other day of the week.