Held together with glue and fishing line

Science is weird.

I snort as I type this because science is amazing. And incredible. And lifesaving. But it is also weird as fuck.

I have so many half-written blog posts from the past month. I really hope that I can finish and share them because I enjoyed writing them. I just never finished. I suppose that’s another post entirely. I digress. March was almost as weird as science. I suppose March will always be this weird universal anniversary for us humans. We’ll reflect on a lot of things and try to remember what’s important and hopefully learn from our mistakes. I suspect in a few years, we’ll have an international holiday in March to commemorate the lives lost in 2020 and 2021 (and however long until the pandemic is truly over — because, reminder, it’s not over yet).

As we progress slowly but surely toward a worldwide reopening, and the apocalyptic fears draped with toilet paper move to the subset of our minds, I hope that we can make a new normal that factors in so much more of the things we took for granted in the Before Times. I hope.

But back to science.

Science. The people that brought you pasteurization and genetic sequencing and cloned sheep. The people that made your watermelon seedless and gave you 3,000 varieties of tomatoes to choose from. The people that make vaccines so we can live longer, healthier lives in bigger, global communities. Science is fucking wild, man.

We are all living, breathing examples of how science does wonderful, amazing, incredible things. From teeth that don’t fall out to treatments that can give us 3, 5, 20, 50, 80 more years of life. Beverly Cleary died last month at the age of 104. We should all be so lucky. As an aside, someone I know said to me, “Ugh who wants to live to be that old?” My immediate response without question or thought was me. I have a lot to do, and I’m not usually quick about any of it — I like to take my time and savor the moments…or I have undiagnosed ADHD and spend a lot of moments trying to remember what it was I started out doing in the first place…like this blog post about the wonders of science that took me three weeks to finish or the aforementioned unfinished blog posts, for example. I swear I have a point.

I had back surgery one month ago today. I’ll spare you the photos I’ve been taking of the progression (but I’m happy to share them with anyone who wants to see — so all you Curious Georges can feel free to message or email me and I’ll send you a picture of what I’ve been calling my second butt crack), but I will tell you about my incision.

*TW: BACK SURGERY, SCARS, AND STITCHES*

The surgeon cut into my back, moved my muscles and nerves out of the way and sliced off the herniated disc that has been causing me so much trouble for the past 6 years. The way I explained it to my niece and nephew makes the most sense to me: Imagine you have a bunch of little jelly donuts between your vertebrae. And one of your donuts popped and jelly was coming out the side. They went in, cleaned off the rogue jelly, and sewed the donut back up. They put my muscles and nerves back in place and then sewed up all the layers of my skin with something that can only be described as fishing line (these are allegedly dissolving stitches, but that has yet to be determined by my body — I’m just kidding guys. I trust science, and believe the doctors when they say these stitches will disappear in the void of my body), which was tied in two knots at the top and bottom of my scar. And just for good measure, they lathered the top of my skin in glue (I guess this is common practice), stuck an oversized bandaid on my back, and woke me up.

Large bandage on back after surgery
it really was a giant Bandaid

The entire procedure was less than 45 minutes. The waking me up part took a couple of hours. I think they were over-cautious with the anesthesia because of my past experience with surgery and anesthesia (I’m not mad about it). I woke up after some crazy-ass dreams I was having and I only wish I could remember the dreams.

*END SCAR AND STITCHES TALK TEMPORARILY*

I went into this procedure expecting to come out of it feeling an 11 on my stupid pain scale (the pain scale allegedly goes to 10, and is the stupidest thing ever. That’s another post, maybe). Since having surgery, I’m pretty sure the pain in my back and the radiating pain in my leg has been, at most, a 3 or 4, maybe and mostly, it’s at like a 1-2, again maybe. Again, the pain scale is bullshit. Suffice it to say, I’m in very little pain. I’ve been incredibly cautious for the last 4 weeks, sticking firmly to the rules of no bending, lifting, twisting, pushing, pulling, carrying anything more than a gallon of milk, etc. For the first two weeks, Brian even helped me get dressed every day. It’s been an adventure, for sure. /

*RESUME SCAR TALK (In case the squeamish are still here)*

At day 3, we were told to remove the bandage. I couldn’t wait. I had Brian take photos immediately. I impatiently motioned for my phone so I could see what it looked like. It was badass in all the ways scars are supposed to be, albeit a little fresher than I would have expected. There was a deep divot in the small of my back that I can only describe as a second ass crack, there were two bows of fishing line tied in knots coming out of each end of the line, and it was all covered in a glossy sheen of glue. It was awesome.

It also gave me the worst panic attack I think I’ve ever had. I didn’t realize it at first as a wave of crippling nausea washed over my entire body. Heat flooded every inch of my suddenly cold, clammy skin, sweat poured out of places I didn’t know could sweat. The room spun and I started hyperventilating. I also started crying, “oh god oh god, I’m going to throw up or die or both” in the most panicked sound, which sent Brian into panic mode trying to help me. This was his second experience that week with my intense waves of nausea (and come to think of it, maybe the first one was also a panic attack. Holy shit. Writing really is full of discovery. Will investigate these feelings and experiences further and report back at a later date). Anyways, eventually the panic attack subsided and I was able to look on my scar with awe and wonder, and am still baffled as to how that triggered such an intense reaction from someone who loves gross shit.

At my two week follow-up appointment, most of the glue had finally peeled off, and the nurse practitioner I saw cut the fishing line knots and bows down to below the nubs. The result of this can only be described in this way: Imagine, if you will, the plastic hang tag from a new shirt (or a thrifted shirt from Goodwill). You know how sometimes you clip it, but don’t get both sides, and there’s a little piece sticking into your back or neck or shoulder going poke poke poke? Yeah. That. Except the poke poke poke is happening inside the house. Or inside your body on the other side of your skin to be exact. It’s the weirdest damn thing. And it the past two weeks, the poke poke poke has definitely gotten less pokey, so I can only assume the fishing line stitches are finally dissipating.

Goodwill Price Tag $4.99

I’ll have to ask the surgeon how long before they’re fully gone at my next appointment.

Science, man. What a wild ride.

Hey! Did you know you can buy my book on Amazon? 37 women wrote about the struggle for perfection, and I'm one of 'em. Go check it out!

I hate it when nightmares become reality

Listen, I can’t help that I’m a bit of a psychic, I was just born that way. As a kid and well into college, I honed my skills for good. I lost a necklace or a bracelet once. It wasn’t terribly expensive, but it was a gift from my grandfather. I searched everywhere for it. Under my bed, in my closet, in all the piles of stuff laying around my bedroom…to no avail.

One night I dreamed about said jewelry, and I dreamed it was under my bed. I woke up, reached under my bed, and BOOM. That motherfucker was in my hands so fast. I was baffled.

In college, my boyfriend lost his fancy money clip. It was like gold and a family heirloom or something. Why he was carrying it around a college town, while he was likely quite in toxicated was beyond me, but it was a big deal that he had lost it. It was the onset of winter and a proper midwest snowstorm was in progress. He was never going to find that money clip. We searched the parking lots, our apartments, and the cars we had ridden in that night. Nothing.

That night I had a dream that it was on the sidewalk outside our apartment. Woke up, went down and out, and BOOM. There was a shiny piece of gold twinkling in the snow 30 feet from our door.

I’ve dreamed of break-ups and reunions. Finding lost items and other silly little things.

And at the start of this month, I had my typical anxiety nightmares about my upcoming lumbar surgery (I’m having a microdiscectomy — in which they remove the herniated part of my disc in an effort to relive some if not all of my chronic pain). In my dream, I was at the hospital for the surgery, and I realized that I hadn’t stopped taking medications I was supposed to stop taking. I hadn’t washedthe surgical site with the antiseptic soap for five days prior to the surgery. I hadn’t taken the acetaminophen I was supposed to take 4 hours prior to the surgery, and I hadn’t drunk the Gatorade I was supposed to drink. I was fucked in all senses.

The dream continued with a lot of other weirdness (waiting in the parking lot in a hospital gown with my brother, eating cheeseburgers and salads, a weird science art wing of the hospital devoted to science art research, and some other odd tidbits that made perfect sense in the dream, but none in real life).

So I thought I was just having anxiety dreams, because I was 2 weeks out from my surgery when I dreamed the dream. And we all know how well I heed warnings…I didn’t realize that my dream was saying, hey dummy, quit taking turmeric today. I didn’t realize that my dream was saying, hey dummy maybe you should check the email with all the details of your varying prescriptions to ensure you do the things right.

And then it was Monday. Almost a week before my procedure. When I got a migraine and thought to check whether I was allowed to take an anti-inflamatory. And realized that I had taken not one, but two of the prescriptions/herbal supplements that I was supposed to have quit days prior.

Obviously, I called the nurse in a panic.

“Hi um, I’m sure that I’m probably just a hypochondriac, and this is all fine, but I took these medications and my surgery is next week. Did I fuck everything up?”

Yes, I said fuck to the nurse. We’re both grown-ups. It’s fine. Nurses love me. I make them laugh.

Anyways, she was all, yeah, you’re fine. We’re not idiots. We plan for fools like you. Thanks for at least paying attention a week early. Just you know. Stop taking them now.

So I stopped. And then yesterday, I managed to score an appointment for a Covid vaccine (insert cheers and confetti here) for tomorrow. So I had to call them again.

“Hey so like I know I’m not supposed to take a whole bunch of stuff, but am I allowed to get the vaccine on Thursday?”

And she was all, “Look dude, we WANT you to be vaccinated, so if you got yourself an appointment, go forth and fight the spread of Covid-19. Kthxbye.”

And then I was like “Waaaait! Can I also take a gummy if I’m not allowed to have pain medicine? Because my back hurts like a mofo…”

“Yeah, sure. Just like. Don’t take it the day of your surgery, dummy.”

And I was like *phew*. (I’m probably still not going to take one, but I wanted to know whether the option was available to me.

Anyways, so to recap: Surgery is next week. I’m a hypochondriac. And also a bit of an idiot. And hopefully, 6 years of back pain is ending soonish. And also, I get a vaccine tomorrow. OH! And please go watch/like/comment/share my vaccine video in all the places you social media (YouTube is here, IGTV is here and Tiktok is here). Because I’m really proud of it.

Thanks for being the best people ever. Love you, friends!

Hey! Did you know you can buy my book on Amazon? 37 women wrote about the struggle for perfection, and I'm one of 'em. Go check it out!

That One Time I Had a Concave Nipple and Why I Hate Being Knocked Out

Warning: Contains a story about serious pain (and boobs). If you get squeamish when reading about pain (or boobs), this is not recommended.

Photo by Viktor Hanacek

Photo by Viktor Hanacek

When you’re 18, and you’ve ignored a giant growth in your boob for a few years longer than you probably should have (especially when the cancer runs in your family), you think it’s probably a good idea to ignore it for a few more years.

At this point, I’m going to go ahead and remind you to (and I quote), “DON’T DO WHAT I DO!”

At the age of 21, I finally went to the doctor about a lump…it was big and it hurt. Dr. Google wasn’t really Dr. Google back then, but I was pretty sure I didn’t have cancer. I sat in the doctor’s office and she recommended that I get an ultrasound.  The ultrasound, in which I laid on a table with my tit out in the open for yet another stranger to see, showed a gigantic tumor that was probably benign, but they didn’t know for sure. It was then I was told to visit a surgeon who handled that sort of thing. If it was painful, and oh my God it was, we were better safe than sorry in removing it.

So I made my way to the surgeon for a consult. My mom was in the room with me, and the surgeon asked all sorts of questions. There’s something uniquely awkward about sitting topless on a cold metal table in an exam room with your mom, a probing doctor and perky nipples, but there we all were. The surgeon explained that he was going to do a biopsy (I wasn’t sure what that meant), but he was going to numb it with an anesthetic first and OH MY GOD HE JUST WENT IN FOR THE FUCKING KILL.

I screamed bloody murder with pain as this alleged medical professional stuck me right under my nipple with a needle the size of a ruler and NO warning whatsoever. As tears ran down my cheeks, my mom looked on a little horrified at my reaction more than the doctor’s action. I wanted to yell at him. I wanted to punch him. I wanted him to stop whatever he was doing and die seventeen painful deaths.

I hated him.

Apparently, (and this is according to my mother, because I completely blocked out the rest of this memory), like 5 more needles made their way into that wickedly painful-without-needles mass under my left nipple.

I left the consult with plans for surgery. And no idea what to expect.

When I had my surgery, Mom came with me (my boyfriend at the time wasn’t really the most supportive boyfriend) and waited the whole time. I remember getting prepped for surgery and being rolled into the OR. One of the 15 medical professionals in the room told me that they were going to give me an anesthetic that was going to knock me out. Of course, I couldn’t resist asking them what would happen if I woke up mid-surgery? Or what if it didn’t put me out? And could I keep the tumor? They assured me it would be fine and the mass was not for keeping, so I cracked one last one-liner before they put the gas mask over my face and knocked me out for however many hours.

When I woke up, I was in a hallway. There were people all around me; I was shaking, freezing, and…I couldn’t move my body. My eyes popped open, terrified. I kept shaking, but I couldn’t move my arms. Or my legs. Or my head. Or (ohmygodpleaseletitnotbeso) my MOUTH. I couldn’t speak. I could hear everyone around me, talking, ignoring me. FINALLY, they noticed the shaking, panic-eyed girl on a gurney. “She must be cold.” Duh. So, they put this magic plastic blanket over me that had a large tube pumping hot air through it. I wanted to live under that blanket forever. I was almost okay with not being able to talk. Or move. Because that blanket was the heaven that I was waiting for after my body died stopped working.

Eventually, I regained the ability to speak (obviously). And to move (maybe not quite so obviously…or gracefully). And I vowed never to go through THAT again.

Once I got home, took a looooong nap, and was finally ready to rejoin the living, breathing, working world, I took a peek at my recently-sliced knockers.

What. The. Ever-living. Fuck?

There were serious stitches. And. What the hell happened to my left tit?

Apparently, the large jalapeno-sized tumor that was removed from my boob had left a ridiculous gaping hole in the middle of my breast tissue, thus inverting my nipple in the craziest way.

After I came to terms with my newly shaped booby, I decided that it was my job to share it with the world. Or at least my best girlfriends. I was a junior in college, living with 3 other girls in an apartment…I showed them and any other lady friends that were around. I’d get drunk and say, “Dude! Wanna see my concave nipple?!” And of course, the oddity that was my boob was kind of a party trick for several months. (My boyfriend at the time would not have been pleased if I was showing my boobs to dudes, so it was just lady friends). After almost a year, I figured it would never be a normal boob again.

Low and behold, over time, my boob went back to normal and I wished I had taken pictures of the concave/inverted nipple that amused the shit out of me for so very long. And I was okay with that.

What I learned from this experience: Go to the doctor even if you’re scared. You may find out that you’re allergic to vicodin, and that you hate anesthesia, and that the surgery changed your body for a freak-show party trick…but the initial problem will be gone. And you’ll live to show off your party trick.

Have you ever had a surgery render your body a little bit different than it used to be? Have you ever been under anesthesia? Do you hate doctors who inflict pain on you? Did you ever wait to do something because you were scared of the results?

Hey! Did you know you can buy my book on Amazon? 37 women wrote about the struggle for perfection, and I'm one of 'em. Go check it out!