Saturday, October 30, 2010

Hey baby, I like your swagger

The only thing that sucks more than walking with a limp is walking with a cane AND a limp...

Hi, I have a pimp cane now and I've been rocking it for almost two weeks.

Why you ask? Because I'm a trend-setting futurist, duh. You know we'll all eventually be using them, anyway, I'm just ahead of the also may have something to do with the fact that I'm falling apart.

In Feb 07 I was in a head-on car wreck and took the full impact of the crash with my right foot/leg and back, resulting in nerve damage that has lingered ever since.

The pain had been pretty manageable with alcohol, physical therapy and Advil on my side, but lately the game has changed. Obviously, I can no longer drink away the pain; most low-dose medications have alcohol or sugar in them, which I can't have, or the dose is too low to affect the pain; and I'm highly reluctant to take any high-dose pain meds because of my history of addiction. So I've been going to physical therapy, doing yoga(I'm such a Californian now, how did that happen?!) and getting massages as often as I can afford. It helps some, but not entirely.

To further complicate things(because nothing's ever simple or easy with me, as I'm sure you've noticed) nerve damage is exacerbated by a slew of other factors.

From that list, the following relate to me:
-Anemia: Oh Texas, I miss your meat!
-Autoimmune reaction: that's when your body attacks itself, which mine is doing since there is a foreign body raging in every cell of my body and my body wants to kill that foreign entity, thus attacking itself.
-Kidney failure: I'm not in full-blown failure, but they're working REALLY hard
-Infections: Check!
-Anti-viral/bacterial/fungal medications: Man, I hate the meds!
-Repeated compression/stress: It's kind of hard NOT to do that to your feet (rock climbing, walking, etc.)
-Systemic diseases: Check!
-Blood diseases: Check!

Also, apparently I've been walking incorrectly, in attempts to overcompensate, and ended up doing a lot more damage than I realized.

These are my feets. If you look at the left one you can see that my toes and joints are all straight and point forward and the joint on the side is rounded. Then, notice how on the right, my big and second toes curve inward and to the right and the joint juts out sharply.

It may not look like much but it's doing a whole lot of damage to my ankle, knee, hip and spine and eventually my toes will curl inward on themselves. (*Google "Hammertoe" images and you'll see what I'm talking about!)

I knew I would eventually probably have to have surgery on my foot, I just didn't anticipate needing it so soon. Furthermore, I'm not healthy enough right now to undergo the needed surgery, nor do I have the insurance or means to pay for it.

So until then, I get to wear these lovely contraptions.

And walk around with one shoe looking like it just escaped from the circus or a Caricature.

And rock a cane (which I need to take a pic of) to preserve my right leg from any more damage.

I'm sure the cane won't be so bad once I get the hang of it. I'm just not used to having to walk SO SLOWLY and if I try to pick up the pace I just end up tripping on the damn thing.

It's good thing I've basically no pride left, because falling face first on a crosswalk and having an elderly lady help you might be damaging to some people's self esteem. Not this kid, I just laughed my ass off at the ironic absurdity that continues to be my life.

Sunday, October 24, 2010

It's my party and I'll cry if I want to

Last night I had a party to celebrate my sobriety birthday and a friend brought over caramel apples. Homemade. Caramel. Apples. Bless her soul for doing that, but FML for watching 20 of my closest friends shoveling them into their faces.

Also, since I've gotten sick, practically everyone I know has gone to TX. No, seriously. There was a conference there and at least 50 people I know were there; both my bosses have gone recently; and at least 15 of my other friends have gone, as well. One friend just came back and another is going next weekend.

Cue the pity party...

Before this year, nobody ever went to TX. Why would they? I even tried getting people to go with me and nobody ever would. Now it's a mass exodus and I'm left in the dust.

Really it isn't that big of a deal. It's just that I was supposed to be in TX this month. I was going to reward myself for my 1 yr and go for a couple weeks so I could celebrate with my Mom for her birthday and go to the Texas State Fair.

This is a pic of me enjoying a funnel cake. See the sheer determination on my face?! I ate so much that day I had to purge so I could eat more. That's how dedicated to the State Fair experience I am. I don't mess around.

I just want a caramel apple!

If Halloween is already this rough, Thanksgiving and Christmas are going to be torturous!

Wednesday, October 20, 2010

Le Chaim

As of yesterday, I've gone an entire year without drinking alcohol.

It was something I needed to do, for myself, and it wasn't easy. It's been a very long, hard year, both working through the things in my past that led me to drink, as well as facing this illness and other woes, without being able to find solace in a bottle.

I'm choosing to mention this accomplishment here, because it directly ties into my journey with Aspergillus. I'm not going to go much into detail about my drinking days, because that's not relevant, but I will say that there are huge parallels between my recovery from alcohol and my being able to cope with my current health issues.

In recovery, I've been doing the AA 12 Step route, I've been going to therapy, and I have put everything I have in the hands of something outside of myself. In AA, we call this our Higher Power, and each person formulates their own definition of what this means to them. For me, it wasn't the "God" I'd grown up being told I should believe in, but rather, an entity outside of myself embodied by love.

Throughout this illness I have employed the coping skills I've learned during my recovery and I don't believe I would have been able to deal with any of the things it's thrown my way had I not been in AA and therapy, or, most importantly, if I hadn't placed my entire life in the hands of my "God."

I've worked the 12 steps around food and resisting cravings and temptations, just as I did with my addictions: I have recognized, categorized and let go of my resentments for this illness. I have accepted that there are many things that are out of my control related to my health and my life. I have learned to express my gratitudes rather than my gripes. (This does in no way mean I don't have bad days, or that my sarcasm has waned even a little bit, but for the most part, my tune is far cheerier these days than ever before.)

Multiple people have asked me how I stay so strong; how I seem to be happier now than the surly, cynical person I was before; and how I am coping with all the shitty things occurring in my life. I have two responses to that: "Just keep swimming" and "Bitching won't solve my problems." Basically, if I put those phrases into AA rhetoric, I "take it one day at a time"(or sometimes one hour, one minute, one second, one breath...) and I "accept the things I cannot change." There, that's my secret.

I don't know what's going to happen, so there's no point getting bent out of shape worrying about what might or could occur. I just put one foot in front of the other, I tackle head on everything that's put in my path, and I keep going. I trust that something bigger than me has this all under control and everything will work out the way it's supposed to. Maybe that plan won't be what I would have picked and maybe my path won't lead me to where I'd hoped, but I'll be damned if I'm not going to enjoy myself along the way.

I must also say that had I not stopped drinking when I did, had I not had four months sober when I first got sick, or six months when I was diagnosed, I would have literally drank myself to death. My body just would not have been able to handle the yeast and sugar and my heart and kidneys would have failed me. I think that the fact that I got sober when I did was an act of God.

It may sound silly, but this illness has been somewhat of a blessing to me. It has allowed me to grow in my humility, grace and appreciation for what's truly important. It has shown me how loved I am and how amazing the people in my life are. It has reminded me that life is a daring adventure and to seize every single opportunity I'm granted, because you never, ever know when it will all be taken away.

"May you live all the days of your life." -Jonathan Swift

Wednesday, October 13, 2010

When life's got you Squashed, make Spaghetti

I poked holes in this bad boy, threw him in the microwave for 12 minutes then let him cool for 20 minutes.

Then I took a knife and whacked him open.

Then I scooped out his innards and discarded the seeds.

Voila! Spaghetti squash. It was enough to fill four bowls, so I shared some with a couple of friends.

It was crunchy and sweet. I'll definitely be consuming mass quantities of this until I grow tired and move onto the next thing, as has been the case with everything else I've liked thus far.