Monday, February 28, 2011

Quick Update....I still hate needles.

That's right! Stay away, needles, or I will have to send Stitch after you!

It has been three days since my injection and I am experiencing a "typical allergic reaction" to the steroid, according to the orthopedist, who I called this morning in a panic when I realized I had three of the "call your doctor if" symptoms. Last night I got an overwhelming, sudden, breath-taking, pulsating pain at the injection site that ran up my spine, to my head, and I've had a headache every since. It also came along with some nausea. I, of course, Googled my symptoms and convinced myself that I was experiencing a "spinal headache" which is caused by leaking spinal fluid, which eventually causes the cushioning in the brain to lessen, thus giving you a pain in your head. When I woke up this morning it was worse, accompanied by chills and hot flashes, so I called out sick and then called the doctor. He was very nonchalant, explaining that it is a very typical reaction causing flushing in the face, hot flashes and nausea, and to simply take Benadryl and it should clear up in a week. 

Easy for him to say. He hasn't been struggling to stay employed for a year! A week on Benadryl and I might as well quit my job, since I'll be sleeping through it! Low and behold, however, the Benadryl totally works, although I am running a very low-grade fever, which is also typical. I should have known, since I am allergic to a steroid (hopefully they didn't use that particular one on me...I hope they checked, because it was on the list of possible options). 

Thank goodness for my understanding employer...she was very nice about it. I still have this panicking voice in the back of my head saying she's just being nice and might fire me anyway, so I'm going to try to go in tomorrow despite the headache and nausea (which I'm sure with a little non-drowsy Dramamine and Tylenol should be manageable). I'm totally paranoid and afraid to trust now, which my one-time therapist pointed out is completely natural but totally irrational... I canceled my appointments with her...realized I didn't need her, I just needed steady employment. I think I just need some time to recover from all the unexpectedness. My job as a nanny is really stable and laid-back, and I find myself really enjoying it. I think I made the right decision, because I can already feel myself being in a better least most of the time.

Most of the time not including post-injection-allergic-reaction-headaches-and-hot-flashes.

And no, I haven't touched my new sewing machine yet. One thing at a time. :)

Friday, February 25, 2011

D-Day...or should I say N-Day....the day of the Needles!

Yes, plural...needles. 5 in total...if you can believe it. Two for numbing (I think) and three for the contrast and steroids. And strangely, I am ready to go back and get it done on the other side because my right side feels great, but now my left side still feels awful. So, shall I begin my tale?

The above link will give you all the nitty-gritty, and medically accurate, information about the procedure I had today. I will give you the more entertaining, and personally accurate, account of how mine went. I was so freaking terrified for it, but luckily I survived without even crying! I did, however, make the machines' alarms beep because of my ridiculously fast heart rate...and that was after an Adavan.

So I left work early and my boyfriend drove me over to the clinic, which, btw the way, was not nearly as clean, nor as friendly staffed, as my orthopedist's main office. Did not help my fears. Nor did the receptionist who answered personal calls, nor the nurses going in to look at a new x-ray machine and not knowing what the hell to do with it. Increased anxiety, ACTIVATE!

I was literally shaking at this point, but my pain this past week has been bad enough that I have been limping, not sleeping at night, and having horrible pain even after a night's sleep. I was ready for relief. It took a good 35 minutes to be called into my little room, where I was told to undress except for socks and a bra (which I find weird, since there's an x-ray machine, but whatever), and a johnny and  robe. They took my vitals (pressure a little high, but my heart rate was about 115/minute....not good!). The nurse thankfully offered an adavan to cure the nerves (totally didn't take effect fast enough though), and waited to be called in for the procedure.

When the time came, a technician/nurse brought me into the room with a table and a big x-ray machine and had me lie on my stomach, bare-ass up. The orthopedist came in and disinfected me, at which point the other nurse started commenting on my heart rate and asked if I was!! So she gave me a stress ball. Thank goodness! That thing got used. I caught a glimpse of the computer with my hip bones displayed and quickly hid my face in my pillow. The doctor got right to work, giving me two "bee stings" (numbing shots, I assume, which felt like acupuncture and made my back spasm...perhaps some Qi escaping???) then "a big pinch." I got three of those "big pinches" which felt more like little burning knives (tried to think of it as acupuncture, the pain is only temporary). Unfortunately, unlike acupuncture, the pain did not subside. Three needles were inserted, then moved to the right place, then injected with the steroid, then taken out. Each of those felt like stinging, burning pressure, and I felt sorry for giving little shouts and yelps into my pillow....though I know I was totally warranted, but I still apologized. I squeezed my purple ball and hid my face and tried to breathe through the pain. And within three minutes...we were done. Apparently my back likes to bleed, so they had to put a lot of pressure on the spots (again, a little ouchie), and then covered my spots with band aids.

The doctor left immediately, and I didn't think of any questions to ask until after I left, but luckily I will see him again in two weeks to talk about how it went. I wish he had told me what each needle was doing and where it was going, but I think he also did the right thing by just getting through it as quickly as possible. Once it was all over, the nurses helped me sit up and get robed again, and led me back to my little room. As soon as I sat down I felt dizzy, then nauseous, then downright sick, so I laid down on the bed for a while until I felt well enough to eat my crackers and drink my juice. About 20 minutes of sitting, eating crackers, taking vitals (heart rate down to 99 by then, and pressure slightly lower too), the doctor came in to examine me and told me to see him in two weeks. Then I could leave. I couldn't feel much of a difference at first, but as I walked to the car, I could tell that my left hip was really painful, but my right hip only had very slight pain as I swung my leg forward. By now....uuuuuuuuuuuuuuuuuuuuuuuugh.

My left hip/leg is in a lot of pain, probably feeling worse because of the juxtaposition to my now-feeling-pretty-good right side. I have an ache going down my left leg on the back and the hip itself is killing me. I am definately getting the procedure done on that side eventually too. Even if it did really hurt. I'm getting a little achy in my lower back, where the injections entered, and here's the thing that weirds me out. What I felt were needles going into the right hand side of my lower back, where my pain originates, my tailbone, and the lower part of my spine. When I went to look for the band aids, they were all lined up down my spine near the curve of my back. I am SO glad I didn't see the size of the needles that were able to enter through my spine and reach my hip! YUCK!

Day one of recovery....I've had a glass of wine, a Cadbury egg, some Chinese food, and an ice pack. I imagine this is how my weekend will continue. No sewing this week. But hopefully I will be feeling up for it by next weekend. Hope everyone is staying busy with projects...while I'm sitting lame in bed, why not share what you are working on?? 

Sunday, February 20, 2011

Welcoming a New Brother!

I finally received my new Brother SE400 Computerized Sewing and Embroidery Machine! It only took two and a half months to get in stock, and a week of sitting in my apartment for me to open it. It was quite an ordeal to get, but luckily, in the end, I was able to order it through Joann Fabrics for just $318, when it was originally priced at $599. Their customer service department heard a lot from me about crazy mark-up, bad policies, but in the end, they gave me what I wanted and honored not only a sale price, but a price match. Word to the wise....order through Amazon. It's cheaper, faster, and a lot less stressful.

Anyhoo, here it is! And today I went to Joann Fabrics for embroidery thread and ribbon. I wanted to stock up for any kind of project, and I already have a couple more taggy blanket projects in mind. I'm really excited to start embroidering names and other personalizations on gifts and products for my store.

It was a little pricey, but I was able to get a whole rainbow selection of embroidery thread and ribbon, so I can be as creative as I want without going back to the store. I even purchased some thread (the fat rolls) of multi-colors that will create some pretty patterns. I am really excited to use it, once I get the time. My job is going well, but I am very, very busy. And sore....luckily my back has been able to get through the days, but my hips get very sore. I guess the injection is a good idea.

And now, I'm going to curl up with the operation manual and see if I can figure out how to use my fancy new machine. :)

Saturday, February 12, 2011

"The Hardest Part Is Letting Go of Your Dreams"

I had my first appointment to talk to someone about everything I've been dealing with. I have to be honest, I do not enjoy telling someone all the things that are going wrong in my life. Don't get me wrong, I love to complain, as everyone who knows me is fully aware, to the point where some of my close friends have to tell me to stop. But when the person I am talking to is writing everything down, and is trying to figure out what the problem is with me, I don't like it. I took psychology, and I know that my biggest problem lately is internalizing the negative things in my life. And I know that isn't good, and that I should be looking at the big picture. But the more I told this woman my story, the worse I felt. And I didn't need her to point out that my ego has suffered a lot from being laid off, rejected for jobs, and everything else. I honestly feel like I'm in this dark tunnel, holding my breath for good luck (is that just a Northwest thing, or does everyone else do it?) and I keep thinking I see the end of it, but then it disappears. And I've run out of breath but can't inhale on my own. Not until that light appears signalling the end.

Of course, I didn't get to tell her this, because she was so busy making me tell her my life story, and there is plenty to tell. What with all my health problems and a complicated family tree...and she wanted to stop and talk about each little thing I mentioned. We spent more time talking about my kidney stones than anything else, and I'm thinking, I NEED TO TALK ABOUT MY JOB SITUATION. I burst into tears when I started talking about my lay-off, but the rest of the time I was happy and'd think that would be an indicator. In the end, I barely got to finish my story of the last few months, and then she told me that I needed to get my health in check first of all, then work on building my confidence.

Oh, ok, I'll just have my hip injections, and schedule a bunch of appointments for physical therapy, oh and of course more appointments with you to talk about my feelings, for which I will have to miss work, and then I'll schedule a lapriscopic surgery to explore how bad my endometriosis is (taking probably a good week from work there) and everything will just fall into place. Thanks! I never would have thought about taking some time for myself to get my health in order. What a great idea!  I'll easily balance work and doctors and squeeze in graduate school as well. My problems are solved.

Please excuse my extreme sarcasm. She did tell me to let myself feel what I feel and to write about it.

She also told me something that I almost laughed at. She said that my back problems and headaches were likely caused by holding all my feelings in and my stress being held there. She asked if I exercised. Um, not anymore. So she said to listen to music and imagine myself moving. Little did she know that another very difficult time in my life (because I didn't have time to tell her about it) was when I injured my back in high school and could no longer dance, while I was captain of my dance team. So I used to sit in my room listening to music, choreographing in my head, then getting extremely depressed that my body couldn't do the moves I had in my head and I had to instead live my passion of dancing through my teammates. Many apologies to them, btw, because I know I was a total bitch in many of our practices, yelling at you to dance harder and cleaner and stop talking, but it totally killed me to not be able to do the dancing myself. And even when I did, I was in pain.

In any case, I am trying to do what she told me. The ironic thing is that the music I've always wanted to choreograph to are pretty depressing. Quite a few Silverchair and My Chemical Romance and Augustana songs that have GREAT music, but very depressing subjects. MCR "The Black Parade" is very fast and high energy, but all about death. The title of this post is from "Sleep" by MCR, and that one would be very fun, as would "Dead." It actually makes me happy to be imaging dancing to these songs. I've always loved the idea of dancing ballet and jazz to dark music (one reason I love Silverchair's Neon Ballroom album because it mixes grungish-hard rock with orchestral music). I don't think many people share my taste, which is why I was never able to actualize some of my routines. But I did a little marking today. Only with my arms and head, no back movement.

Anyhow, work was good this week. No problems with the back. I seem to be healing fast, which is great. Oh, and I have a surprise for tomorrow...hopefully I'll get time to post about it.

Sunday, February 6, 2011

Needles, more needles, and blood. Oh, and fear.

Let me preface this by saying that I hate needles, to the point (pun!) where even though getting my blood taken doesn't hurt, I get nauseous at the mention of getting it done. And as far as blood, combined with needles, I once vomited because a nurse took my IV out and some blood came with it. Instantaneous reaction. I recently had a fainting spell when my cat was in the animal ER and the doctor told me that they had to extract her urine because there was blood in it. Literally. I don't even know how that happened, but I was faint for a good 30 minutes.

I've gotten that same reaction several other times in the doctor's office. Once when a doctor examined my very infected ear drum (they said that was normal though), and once when I was told about my endometriosis. Not sure if that was about the diagnosis, or the mention of using IVF by the time I turn 30. Regardless, I do have a bad track record for random fainting spells.

I am going to guess that at my next doctor's appointment, I will faint.

So, I reinjured my back on Monday. I saw my doctor on Wednesday and she gave me a referral to an orthopedist. I saw him Friday, and had a very interesting visit. First, he didn't like to let me finish my sentences before asking me another question (which is understandable, as I have a lot to say, but it is all VERY important!). Next, after an exam, he said it seemed like I didn't have any nerve damage, but probably had a disk injury. Oh, until he saw my MRI, which was clear. Hm. Puzzled? Not this guy. He says that the issue probably has something to do with my high school SI joint/hip injury and that I should have injections.

Ah, yes. An injection in my hip. My third worst medical fear (all of which have one thing in common, and it isn't needles). See, I love doctors. I love knowing what is wrong with me. My first instinct is to go to the doctor. And I don't mind diagnostic tests. I've had x-rays, bone scans, CTs, MRIs, ultrasounds, blood tests........but none of those hurt. This.....this will hurt. And probably more than the last thing I had done by a doctor that hurt. And he promised it would just be uncomfortable. Well, Dr. Curly Hair who works in the ER and was on Boston Medical, it DID hurt. You shoved a flu swab so far up my nose that the pain was unbearable and made me have a massive nose bleed.

I'm fine until things hurt. Then my fear level spikes so high I have panic attacks at the mention of the...whatever. And it isn't like I'm not used to pain. Back problems, kidney stones, cysts, endo...they all hurt. But those are all a force of nature that I don't agree to and which are totally unavoidable. When I have control over it, that seems to be when I can't handle it. Not sure why.....

Which is why agreeing to this injection is such a big step. I was told I could have injections in my hips when I was in high school, and I was way too scared back then, and reasoned away that it wasn't affecting my life enough (except that I had to give up dancing, which is a totally different, very long winded entry). My hip problems made me a much more reserved person. I don't dance, jump, ice skate or do any kind of winter activity. But that's fine. I don't need to do those things.

But I DO need to work. And now my back problems are affecting my ability to work. So....injections it is.

My acupuncturist agreed with me that the injection is only going to mask the pain that helps to alert us to a problem. Unfortunately, I need that pain to go away for a while. Acupuncture this weekend was....well, painful. So far is hasn't been a pleasant experience, but it never really hurt. This time, it did. The acupuncturist I got this time is also an MD, which made me feel better. She and the supervisor (because I use the students, since it isn't covered by my insurance) said that my right side was reacting to "something" and that the muscles clearly showed it. They also said I had a small spot of pooled blood in my back that indicated stagnation that needed to be released. Great.

So we began with the usual needles in my back, a couple in my feet and hands. Then, and this was the best part since she pantsed me to be able to do it, she stuck a needle in my butt cheek. And it HURT! It was like an electrical shock and went all over the area. This happens to be where my sciatica is, so either she hit the nerve or there really was a great stagnation of Qi. Either way, ouch! And that wasn't even the worst of it.

Next, she asked if I was ready...yeah, sure, why not?! Stab me in the back and bleed me! Which is exactly what she did. Three sharp needles stabs, the third of which really hurt, and then a little glass cup, like Jackie Chan uses in new Karate Kid, and a long suction devise (I would never know this, except that my boyfriend was there and told me...I never look at anything they do during acupuncture because I am so scared...I shook during my entire first appointment). It felt tingly, like putting your hand against the vacuum hose, and I guess they only took out like five drops of blood. Afterward I felt great, but a few hours later...oooooh boy.

I needed ice. I am now more sore where she took my blood out than I am where I pulled my muscle. And this is why I am now scared out of my wits to get the injection. All she did was prick my skin. The orthopedist is going to stick a great big needle all the way into my hip and inject a steroid and a pain medication into it. They may need to sedate me. For their own sake. I'm not kidding.

Good luck doctors, that's all I have to say.

Friday, February 4, 2011

Feature Friday - No Bake Cakes

Today's Friday Feature is all about one of my favorite things: cakes....No Bake Cakes! This shop features bibs, toys, and diaper or towel cakes with lots of color and flair. Let's get to know Mona from No Bake Cakes!
1. How did you get into crafting?
I have been crafting for as long as I can remember. My mom is a crafter and I learned from her at a very young age. I have dabbled in many different crafts. At the moment I am enjoying creating towel cakes and diaper cakes as well as sewing.
2. How did your Etsy shop come to be?
I made a few towel cakes and diaper cakes for gifts for family and friends. Lots of people said I should sell them…including my husband who isn’t one to suggest something like that, so I decided to give it a whirl.
3. What is your favorite part about being creative?
I have several parts that I love. The first is shopping for the ingredients for my cakes…all of the little goodies that I put into them. The second part is actually making the cakes and seeing how the ingredients transform into something marvelous.
4. Are you a full time crafter or do you have a "day job?"
Presently I am a stay at home mom of 2 amazing kids and part time crafter. Before having my kids, I was an elementary teacher.
5. If someone were to buy you a birthday gift on Etsy, what 3 words would they use in their search?
Chocolate, chocolate, chocolate 
6. How do you create your designs?
If I am designing for someone, I usually have a theme that they want. I design for events, occasions, or look at the items I have collected for inspiration.
7. What's in your Soundtrack to Sewing?
I do my crafting to the sound of children’s voices
8. Favorite spots for inspiration?
Stores, magazines, the internet, brainstorming with friends and family.
9. Who inspires you?
My family and close friends inspire me.
10. If you had to choose one item in your shop as a signature piece, what would it be and why?
I would choose the towel cake that is in my banner/avatar. I recently had someone create the banner for me and she suggested using pastel colors as pastel in Spanish means cake. The colors of the polka dot cake suit this thought well.

Thanks so much, Mona, for sharing your shop and story with us. :)

*insert favorite expletive here*

Photo courtesy of

I wish that I could fix myself like Wall-e and just sit in the sun for a while.

I threw my back out. Again. On my first day as a nanny. And not even doing anything important. I lifted the little boy just fine. It wasn't that. It was so stupid. Just an everyday movement. Argh. So I've been sitting at home this week, recovering. Spent Monday afternoon in the ER...same as the first time, couldn't move my legs or sit up on my own. Luckily, this time I am healing much faster, and should be returning to work on Monday. The family I work for is being extremely understanding, which is a big relief.

The bad news is...I went to an orthopedist and now have to have an injection of steroids and pain medication directly into my hip. Something I have been against since I first had a back injury in high school. Which, by the way, this orthopedist thinks may have contributed to my current problem, since I don't have any disk problems and the pain is originating in the back of my hip area. I am absolutely, 100% terrified for this injection. But at this point, the biggest concern is that I need to work, and in order to work, I need these episodes to stop. So I will have this stupid injection. Even if I cry and embarrass myself in front of doctors and nurses alike. I mean, maybe it will prepare me for having an epidural someday. I guess that's a silver lining. Sort of.

I'm also going to start seeing someone to talk about everything that has been going on. It's gotten to the point where I don't feel like I can handle all of this bad luck by myself anymore. And as much as I enjoy blogging, it doesn't really help to divulge all my fears and anxieties on the internet. I've been avoiding it lately, which I think means I need to talk to someone. And so I gave in and agreed to see a therapist in my doctor's office. I honestly think what will really help me feel happy and myself again will be fix my back and have stable work, but I guess talking to someone about this whole year wouldn't hurt either. 

And you know, watching Disney movies always helps just a little too. Especially accompanied by my giant Stitch.

I carried him through the Magic Kingdom that night and got stares from everyone, especially jealous little kids. He makes me happy. :)