Monday, December 31, 2012

2012: In Memoriam

This is my year in review. I was inspired by my best friend to write this post!

I titled it “in memoriam” because starting tomorrow, theyear will be gone and we will be left with only memories of it.  And also because I love the Tennyson poem ofthe same name.
And a little bit because I want 2012 to die. And you say “in memoriam” in regards to dead things.

2012 has not been easy.
Not that any year ever is.  Nobody goes“gee whiz! 2009 was a breeze!” or “I really miss 1993, that year was a cinch.”[Note: I do miss 1993, that year wasa cinch--being a precocious 5 year old in kindergarten, discovering theabsolute magic of letters, and that those letters made entire WORDS! and eatingfar too much candy…those were the days!!! And in 2009 I was in college, without the woes and worries of a “real adult”, having gin parties on Wednesday nights and going shopping for a breakfrom studying…yes, that year was pretty glorious as well].

But life has not been easy since I decided to do what Ithought would be an improvement in my health, an easing up of pain, and actionto prevent future problems…and got the metal implants put in my jaw.
Since then, things have gotten progressively worse.
That was about 2 years ago.
2011 was better because it had extreme highs as well as lows; getting engaged,graduating college, moving in with Eli, getting my first job, getting married,having a killer honeymoon…
But 2012 was like a sucker punch.  In 6parts.


Getting a job I love.  Which is where I am currently working.
Going to Texas for the first time, and visiting Dealey Plaza, which has been onmy bucket list for years.
Enjoying my first year of marriage!!!!!!!!!!
Making some incredible new friends.
Doing a mud run!
Having my best friend come from her home in England and live with us for 2weeks.  It wasn’t near enough time, butwe packed as much fun into it as possible and made some incredible memories!
Spending quality time with my nephews and nieces (and hopefully teaching them athing or two!)
Trying escargot
Welcomed a new nephew into the world.
Went golfing for the first time.
Going lingerie shopping with my former boss and professor.  Hysterical.
I figured out that I love sushi andtried to compensate for years of not eating it.
I beat the boys at bowling.
I cheered my heart out for the Utes and the Cowboys, and went to my first NFLgame (DALLAS!).
I became a zombie.

Successfully doing self-therapy for my PTSD.
An epic Vegas trip.


Putting my dog, my longest-running best friend, to sleep.  That was in January and I’m still not overit.
Losing Rolfe, my Great-Uncle (or something) in Norway.  I stayed with he and his wife for a bit afterhigh school in Oslo and he was a character! Even in his 80s he skied the lengthof Norway (yes, the entire country!), and would wake me in the morning byplaying military songs on his bugle.  Imiss him.
Having to break up with a good friend. She was a mooch, a liar, and was dragging me down and refusing to let mebolster her up.  She enjoyed drama andpity, and did anything to get it.  It isalways hard to sever ties, even when (like with her) it is a long time comingand you know is for the best.
Having a blogged salivary gland over the holidays, and going to the hospitalfor it on Christmas Eve.  I know lookingback at the pictures years from now, with my fat, swollen face will befunny.  But it sucked.
Getting my pretty new blue car keyed by a psychotic bitch (right on thedriver’s door!).
Having to say goodbye to Torie when she left.
Cutting down my 2nd favorite tree, that I grew up under.
I saw Rudolph. I know this isn’t aseriously awful thing that happened, but…YUCK. It definitely wasn’t a good one! I’m talking about the old Claymationshow.  My parents couldn’t get me to watchit as a kid—I would run screaming out of the room, and Eli finally forced me towatch it after my surgery (I had no choice, I was couch-ridden).  Maybe it was the Percocet, but I was nothappy.  The only part I liked was themonster.
Having a staph infection for 10 months of the year.
Cutting off part of my finger on accident.
Painful ailments and constant doctor’s appointments that provided no answers orhelp, just more frustration.
Spending way too much time at the dentist.
Epic and serious family problems.
Having (and quitting) 2 God-awful jobs with horrible, sexist, abusive men as bosses.

(Whenever I talk about “my implants” in front of people who don’t know thestory, or who are overhearing my conversation, they look at my boobs.  Which may be a bit big, but they’re REAL!)

Getting the implants REMOVEDand feeling so much better, so quickly.
       This decision was difficult.  It was wrenching—physically andemotionally.  Should I believe whatthe doctors told me, that I was adepressed hypochondriac with nothing actually wrong with me and no allergy to my implants, or go withmy gut instinct and the tally of compounding symptoms, only
       getting worse, and have riskysurgery to cut the implants out of the bone?
       I was absolutely terrified of myjaw being broken—the main risk of the surgery. I listened to my 
       body, prayed about it, and knew Ihad to get the implants out.  And Iabsolutely did the right  
  My symptoms began clearing themoment I came out of surgery.

My New Year’s Eve last year was rung in on the Las Vegasstrip in the freezing cold.  They shotfireworks off at multiple casinos down the length of the strip and it wasincredible, and a fun thing to have done.
But I am looking forward to a more intimate celebration tonight, with some ofmy best buds crammed into a warm apartment (baby, it’s coooooold outside) with a hyper dog, cream cheese wontons,Nintendo, and plenty of hot drinks.

Oftentimes, “going big” is overrated.
New Year’s is definitely one of those times.
I’d be happy in a closet with my husband and a bottle of bolly, so long as theyear we’re ringing in the new year right, and better than the one we’re leavingbehind in the snowy darkness.

Friday, December 28, 2012

Things I Don't Need to Hear at Work

I don't need you to give me a verbal tutorial on QUILTING for 45 minutes.
This gem of a lecture came from the Printer Nazi, that I wrote about last week.
She purrs at the sound of her own voice.

About how yoga makes you fart.

That you have a small cervix.

About your ex-husband committing suicide. In detail.
And about the emotional repercussions on your kid.
This 2 hour discussion should probably be saved for another time...and for people you know better.

About the pot brownies you made for dinner last night
(this was funny, but still...not good when brought up in front of Printer Nazi, who is an uppity Mormon that files complaints to HR for a person breathing wrong)

About the Halloween costumes you've worn for the last 9 years of your life.  Another gem from Printer Nazi.  Who thinks that sewing a floor-length candy corn outfit is the best thing since Jesus.
It inspires me to make a slutty candy corn outfit. 

I don't need to hear about your crush on a football player.  In creepy, sexual detail.  The girl at fault for this conversation went on for 30 minutes about this guy and her eyes glazed over and she got all flushed and I honestly think she ran off to the bathroom afterward to touch herself.

I also don't like nearly biting through my tongue in an effort to prevent myself from bitch-slapping you when you make racist remarks.
Or yell at people on your 4 hour personal phone calls for "speaking with an accent."  This one comes from the trashy member of our department, that wants "American to be the national language." Yup.
She also likes to talk in depth about gorey childbirths.
And go for "long walks" for the health of her baby (she is 7 months pregnant).
She comes back from these walks with a bag of Taco Bell, reeking of cigarette smoke.  For the health of the baby.

Well, it's time for me to blow this joint and get some sushi with my hubby.
It's been a long week (even though we had 2 days off for Christmas), mainly because I've been working 11 hour days and some of these co-workers (as mentioned above) are driving me batshit crazy!

Printer Nazi is now sharing her BLOG ABOUT QUILTING with us.
F*cking kill me.

Tuesday, December 25, 2012

An incredible Christmas...even with a goiter !

Well, I write this on the evening of Christmas Day, so before I go to bed and sleep the rest of this joyous holiday away, HAPPY CHRISTMAS!

Because my family is Scandinavian, the emphasis is put on Christmas Eve.  So we have a splendid feast on the Eve, light a fire, open all of our big, family gifts, have drinks and dessert and put porridge out for the Tompten, then settle down for a long winter's nap.  In the morning we have an enormous, savory breakfast, and open our stockings from Santa.
I absolutely love it.  I grew up with it, and think it is honestly the best way to do things, and anything else seems foolish!
So Christmas Eve has always been the BIGGEST DEAL in my life. And not the next day.

On the 23rd, Sunday night (the evening before Christmas Eve), I was in excruciating pain.
I had the surgery on my jaw last Friday, and the pain kind of levelled out, and then didn't go away.  I finished my antibiotics, and after that, the pain started gradually worsening.
Obviously this was worrying, but I just ignored it and "kept on trucking" because I had a ton of work to get through, and finish last minute Christmas gifts (that were delayed because of my health issues).
But Sunday we got busy, and I didn't take my pain pill for 7 hours, and then all of a sudden I thought I was going to pass out and I threw up because of the pain.
I was bewildered, and trying to figure out what was going on with my jaw.  The pain was widespread, and shooting all of the way down into my chin.

I took a bath, a Percocet, and went to sleep.
About 2am, I woke up with throbbing pains shooting all around my jaw, and felt a rock hard lump growing under my chin.  I was feverish, and terrified, thinking that something went wrong with my surgery---an infection? A fractured jaw?  I knew as it was the middle of the night and I was groggy, nothing was to be done, so I tried my best to sleep through the pain.
Imagine my surprise when the next morning, Christmas Eve morning, Eli rolled over for a Christmas cuddle with me and exclaimed "holy shit! What happened to your face?!"

The pain was overwhelming and his expression scared me.  I threw on my glasses, staggered to the mirror, and my hurting jaw DROPPED when I caught a glimpse of myself in the mirror--with a huge lump of swelling under my chin.  It was horrifying.
I started imagining everything that could have gone wrong with my surgery and what we were going to do and fearing that Christmas was ruined.
I was in so much pain I could not swallow--not even to take a pain pill.  I couldn't eat or drink or hardly talk.

We got in to see the surgeon around 10am and he poked and prodded and concluded that I have a blocked salivary gland, a complication of the surgery.
Basically somehow my saliva crystallized in the gland, forming a stone that blocked the rest of it from coming and going, which is why I had gotten such a dry mouth all of a sudden.
It also gives you extreme pain, headaches, neckaches, fevers, et cetera.
And the buildup caused the horrific swelling in my neck, which Eli and I had started jokingly called "The Goiter" (Have you seen that Seinfeld episode??).

The surgeon just tried to pawn off some antibiotics on me, and told me if the swelling didn't go down by Thursday. to have an ENT drain it. Yuck.
I said "What about the pain?! What about me looking like I'm growing an extra chin? I can't eat?!"
and we tried to get me some IV antibiotics, which are stronger and get in your system quicker.
But an awful and unsuccessful trip to the Emergency Room later, it became clear that unless we wanted to spend our whole day in the ER, shell out a ton of money, and have me walking around with an IV in my arm for Christmas, giving myself antibiotics through it for 48 hours, I was going to have to grin and bear it.
Which is what I have been doing.
I'm taking antibiotics and pain pills as needed, and rinsing with hot salt water a ton, in the hopes it will rupture on its own.  It hasn't.  It is agony.  And so embarrassing--I look like a chubby-chinned monster in our Christmas photos.
Oh well, I'm sure this will be a hysterical memory years from now!

I pushed through the pain and Eli and I went with his dad to buy a bow and arrow for my nephew.
We went to the new Scheels sports store, and they said they had bows and arrows for kids, that look like the hunting ones adults use.  A worker there showed us one that looked awfully grown up and said it was fine for a 7 year old--that the arrows would "bounce off" anything they hit, and that they would not even go that far. Even the package proclaimed it the "Safest bow for children" and it came with a temporary tattoo.
The registers at Scheels went down storewide as we got in line, and we had to wait 20 minutes, and only to pay in cash because the computers weren't working, and a big snowstorm was kicking up outside! 
When we got back to the house to wrap the bad boy up, Eli and his dad decided to give it a try and see just how safe it is.  Eli's dad gave it a shot, not even pulling the bow back all the way, and it soared 15 feet, and shot INTO the couch!! There is still a bullet-like hole where it hit.
We all looked at each other in shock, giggled nervously, and agreed "that doesn't seem like a kid's toy."  Eli decided to give it a try, and shot it down the stairs.  It wedged into the carpet, sticking right up into the air.  We were all shocked! I went down to pull it out, and it had gone through the carpet, the foam, and into the wood!  All a bit terrified of giving this to a 7 year old boy, we held onto the receipt and shared our relief that he had another toy, a bow-and-arrow-slingshot thing, to distract him, if he decided the real bow, requiring adult supervision, was not for him.
We've been making "You'll shoot your eye out" references all day!
Luckily, the bow was locked upstairs (in the gun safe) early on in the day. We didn't want any tragic accidents.

Then, with a hamper of toys in the car, and a suitcase, we pulled into my parent's house.
Everything was covered in snow, as our white Christmas arrived just in time!
We felt quite like Father Christmas, hauling all of the gifts inside and laying them under the tree.
We got dressed in our holiday best and had some lovely cocktails with my family (copper camels!) by the fire.
My brother had been slow roasting a ham in a crockpot for 4 hours, on low, and as he carved it up, we all had a bite, and were blown away by it.
It is honestly the BEST HAM I HAVE EVER HAD.  We all agreed.
He marinated it in real maple syrup (not that fake crap you put on flapjacks), pineapple juice, and brown sugar.  It was thinly sliced. It was tender and savory and just incredible! We had it with cherry sauce and potatoes and fluffy rolls and veggies and olives and my grandmother's famous layered jello. What a feast!

Then it was present time! What wonderful presents we all gave and received!
I made my dad cry, 5 times actually (between last night and today) with the gift I made him.  I enjoyed creating it (I always do homemade gifts) and he was truly touched. 
Eli spoiled me ROTTEN! Not just a gorgeous Pandora charm, but several other thoughtful gifts, including some delicious smelling bath bombs from LUSH and a giant gift card to my favorite spa.  Massage, here I come!!!!  We had a delightful time.
And my brother made a white chocolate peppermint cheesecake for dessert.

Eli and I unpacked the suitcase and got into our pajamas, and climbed into the bed in my childhood bedroom.  I had fun reading my old Betsy-Tacy anthology (my favorite book growing up) and then got tipsy on my painkillers and passed out, with a snowy breeze coming in through the window.
We woke up to more snow, and although my jaw was an absolute mess at this point (both agony and swelling wise), I didn't let it ruin my Christmas.
We opened our stockings from Santa, and my aunt joined us as we ate our way through a fabulous breakfast, starring the trifecta: ham, bacon, and sausage.  Plus cinnamon rolls, banana bread, fresh fruit, toast, an omelet, and more.  Bellies full, we opened more gifts, and then played Yahtzee (Eli's first time--I gave him the game for Christmas and....HE ROLLED A YAHTZEE!).

Then we packed up everything (so many presents!!) and headed for Eli's Dad's.
There, we kept my nephews and nieces out of the living room until the presents were just right, then led them in, eyes covered.  It is an incomparable sound to hear children screaming with delight on Christmas morning.
One of my nieces got a giant Minnie mouse stuffed animal, and the other got a Disney princess Jeep (those cars you can actually ride in and drive around)! We were all stoked.  We opened more gifts for the adults, and then settled in to enjoy ourselves.
I taught my eldest nephew how to play his Battleship game (he cottoned on quickly, and beat me), and let my nieces style my hair with the kits they got (plastic brushes and "blow dryers").  It was lovely and I closed my eyes, relaxing, as having people play with my hair has always been the height of comfort for me, when all of a sudden SPLASH!!! Cold water all over my head.
My youngest niece thought that doing my hair required it being wet, and had soaked a towel in water and thrown it on top of my head.  It scared the crap out of me!
We had another yummy meal over there, and then packed up once again to come home.

Eli and I opened a bottle of bourbon, a lovely gift from my brother, and had a toast.
Then I retired to a steaming bath (with Lush products) with my bourbon, a box of chocolate oranges, and my new book.  Heaven.
Now I'm enjoying the Downton Abbey Christmas special (but dreading the end, as my best friend warned me of what is to come).  "The Goiter" is still chilling on my neck, as stubbornly swollen and disgusting as ever, and I dread returning to work tomorrow with an extra 5 pounds...not from Christmas goodies, but from a blocked salivary gland...but I am going to ignore Gerald the Goiter for now, and just be thankful for the glorious, happy, white Christmas that I was able to enjoy, painful lump-of-coal-growing-under-my-chin be damned.



Friday, December 21, 2012

Printer Nazi Rant

This is a rant. 

About a person in my department nobody likes.

We had a class together at college (but she apparently doesn’t remember me, mainly because she hates to acknowledge that she went to my college and didn’t graduate).  I remember her.  She was the worst kind of English major snob—that makes unfunny jokes about iambic pentameter, pretends to swoon when she hears Anglo Saxon aloud, and bitches about Charles Dickens. 
As an English major, there was a minority of peers I could stand.  English majors have been stereotyped as being stuck-up know-it-alls.
That stereotype is completely true.
Why do you think I loved the history crew so much I became a double major?! The history nerds are cool.  They know how to party.  And they have a life, instead of spending their weekends watching an uncut PBS presentation of Shakespeare and complaining about the editing.
They take themselves so seriously and talk as I imagine an Englishman in Africa in the late 19th century would sound.  Pompous, demeaning, ludicrous.

And the history majors I know make the best inappropriate jokes. So in the English vs History battle, HISTORY DOMINATES. TELL YOUR CHILDREN.

So, back to this person, the star of my rant.  We will call her Printer Nazi.  A more apt title I could not come up with.

To put it simply…well, basically she is a bitch.
And not the kind of bitch the practical kind either (i.e. someone who is smart and capable and nearly justifiably snarky).
She is just always grumpy.  Even though she has a basic job and no demands are put on her and she never has to work overtime.
She literally reads books at her desk while she is on the clock.
She is actually doing that as I write this!

She makes bitter, insulting comments all the time. My second week at work, when I lost my voice from stress (over my impending surgery), I was talking to my department and Printer Nazi threw a cough drop at me and said “suck on this! Your voice sounds like crap and it’s hurting my ears—stop talking.”

I was stunned.  Because I lost my voice, it hurts your ears?? I didn’t even know how to respond.  Everyone else was discussing a problem and didn’t hear what she said.  I just went into my 90’s mode and said “BITE ME.” And went back to work.

Several departments share a big printer on our floor and she thinks that the printer belongs solely to her.  She literally stands in front of it and yells at people to STOP PRINTING.  Which she has no right to, obviously.  She is in a low level position and has told off higher-ups for interfering with her print jobs. 
She is also a perfume Nazi.  She tells us literally EVERY DAY that she is highly sensitive to scents.
Yet, whenever one of us applies lotion, or perfume, she says nothing.  However, if she coughs, she instantly starts sniffing the air for the culprit and shrieking about someone spraying perfume, even though she just coughed because, well, sometimes your body makes you cough.  Whenever all of us are intently working, typing away at our desks, she starts hyperventilating, sucking down vast amounts of air going “I CAN SMELL SOMETHING! WHO PUT ON LOTION?! I TOLD YOU NOT TO DO THAT??”
It is psychotic. 

I have since accumulated a list of things she does that are evidence of her complete absurdity.  If and when I write a book, her traits would be simply marvelous to have on file for an annoying character.
(sidenote: font is being goofy! Sorry, don't know why!)
-          She hates quails.  This obviously needs to be at the top of the list because: WHO. HATES. QUAIL?! They are adorable, innocent little birds, with their bobbers hanging in front of their faces, all running around in a row! She loves to complain about them and how dumb they are and purposefully tries to hit them with her car.  WHAT. THE. F*CK.

-          She talks ostentatiously about figs.  Yes, FIGS! We’re talking about a girl that wears frumpy sweaters, long skirts, tights, and Crocs to work every day. She isn’t high society.  But she loves to go on these extemporaneous talks about things like figs and currants.  At our work party today, someone brought Panettone, which is this delicious bread-like cake with goodies in it, and Printer Nazi was like “oh my goodness, this has figs in it!” and she started purring, and then knowingly looked at all of us and said “figs are such an acquired taste, blahblahblah.”  Somebody read the back of the box, and said “uh, no. No figs. Those are raisins.”  It was glorious.

-          She wears thumbs.  You know, those little rubber things you slip over your fingers to flip through a stack of papers? They’re like condoms for your digits and they’re brown and super awkward looking.  She wears them all the time.  Yuck.

-          She glues puzzles together and frames them.  I know that some people do this with their puzzles and think it is a good idea….it’s not.  It is lame and weird and puzzles are meant to be put together and taken apart and put together again.  It is an activity you can enjoy an unlimited number of times! If you want a framed picture, buy a picture and frame it.  Why do you want to hang up a picture that has cracks and lines in it because it is actually a glued together puzzle?! THEY ARE TWO DIFFERENT THINGS, PEOPLE.  Are you really so proud of yourself for fitting little cardboard pieces together that you feel the need to frame it?!
This is a big pet peeve of mine, and it has always been a red flag of insanity for me.  Like if I see a glued-together, framed puzzle hanging in someone’s house, I involuntarily shudder, assume they have bodies in the basement or taxidermy cats in their bedroom and I get the hell out of there.
So not only does Printer Nazi do this awful deed, she brags about it.  As in “This weekend I did TWO puzzles and I’ve already glued and framed them, now I just need to decide where to hang them.”  What a thrilling weekend.

-          Her boyfriend is a plant.  No, not a government agent, a potted green plant on her desk.  She doesn’t have a real boyfriend (I think she is just too mean and unappealing), so she calls this plant her boyfriend.  And strokes it sometimes.

-          She buys those compressed instant towelettes at the dollar store and uses them. On a regular basis.  And complains that they don’t grow big enough when put in water.  I’m not even sure what to say about that one.

-          She lives with one other girl, they rent a little house together, and when her roommate is out of town, Printer Nazi sleeps on the couch.  She says when her beloved roommate is gone, she can’t sleep in her own bed.  So she sleeps on the couch.  For weeks at a time.  I’m not sure of the Freudian implications of this one, but it doesn’t look good.

-          If she leaves the office a few minutes after 5pm, she has to have an escort to the parking lot.  Keep in mind that our office is located in Sandy, Utah, one of the top 5 safest places in the world, that the parking lot is small and open and well-lit, and that between 5 and 6 there are always employees coming and going.  It isn’t some abandoned basement lot in downtown L.A. at midnight!  She believes that someone is going to “get her.”  And she always puts it in a way that comes across as “I am worth attacking.”
I never leave right at 5 pm, and last night I stayed late with another co-worker so we could decorate a girl’s desk for her birthday the next day.  Printer Nazi sat there and watched us taping up streamers and signs for 20 minutes, and refused to help.  She couldn’t blow up balloons because she “had a headache.” Printer Nazi wouldn’t leave without one of us going with her, and sat there and complained that we were taking too long and that she wanted to leave.


And that is my rant about the Printer Nazi.
Expect updates.

Monday, December 17, 2012

Breakout from the Hotel California

Perspective is a funny thing.

Just when you simplify things in your mind, or underestimate the difference it can make in the scheme of things, it sneaks up on you and takes your breath away, completely revamping your view, sometimes for a few weeks, sometimes for the rest of your life.

The morning of my surgery, the shooting in Connecticut happened.
It was so shocking and wicked I could hardly process it.
I was already feeling anxious that morning, and fearful of my jaw breaking in surgery, and making a stern effort to not let my PTSD get the better of me.  I was feeling sorry for myself, whilst trying to maintain my inner strength and prevent myself from having a panic attack.

And when I heard that a school was shot-up, and children the ages of my nephews and nieces murdered in cold blood and terrorized, my heart fell out of my chest.
I felt so helpless in the face of the overwhelming evil that this world can continue to come up with, and it paralleled my feeling of uncontrollability going into surgery, and taking a risk and not knowing the outcome.

I wanted to crumple beneath my desk and wail, but my body instinctively responded with resolve.
For some reason the Gettysburg Address came to mind--
We here highly resolve that these dead shall not have died in vain.
I don’t know the higher purpose that the slaughter of innocent children can serve, but there is one.  There will be one.
And as for me, the suffering that I’ve undergone the last 2 years with metal implants in my jaw I was allergic to, shall not have been in vain either.
I am making it my goal to spread the word any way I can about implant allergies, their symptoms, my experience, and any information I can give to prevent others from going through needless pain.

It seems egocentric and a bit high-minded to tie a tragedy to my own surgery, but because they happened within hours of each other, they will always be linked together somehow in my mind.

About my surgery:
It went well. It went better than we could have hoped.
I’d like to attribute part of this to the fact that I threatened the doctor as he was putting me to sleep (I looked him in the eye and said “If you break my jaw, I will find you, and I will kill you”), but admittedly, the credit lies with his skill in surgery.  He isn’t good at diagnostics, and he’s a prick, but he is dexterous with a scalpel.

He took everything out of my jaw and packed cadaver bone into the holes he created.
I woke up during the surgery again, and it was painful and disorienting, but I held on.

And I felt an immediate difference after the surgery.
I read, for people with implant allergies that had the implant removed, that although it takes 6 months to a year for your body to return to normal and heal itself, many patients feel an immediate difference.

I have.
Right after the surgery I felt like a 5 pound barbell that has been dangling off my jaw was removed, and I didn’t even know it had been there—I was so used to it.
The boils and painful skin outbreaks I’ve been suffering, particularly along my jawline, have practically vanished overnight.
I just feel lighter, healthier, and more “me” than I have in a long time.  I can’t even explain it.
Although it is easy to slip into frustration and anger, at the fact that I’ve spent so much time suffering when this could have been taken care of ages ago, or even prevented to begin with, I am staying positive and just enjoying the sensation of relief.

Even the day after having surgery, I was less swollen in my jaw and face than I have been for the last year.  It is nothing short of miraculous.
And I’m back at work today. 
God really is great.

I have had an unbelievable amount of support from family and friends, and cannot begin to express my gratitude.  When I left for my surgery on Friday, my good friend and co-worker came to my department to escort me downstairs.  My entire department gave me a card they had signed and a gift card to Coldstone ice cream (knowing I would be on a soft food diet after surgery).  I was very touched.
I had many visitors and well-wishers after the procedure, and on Saturday was able to sit back and just feel blessed as I held an ice pack to my face and ate the banana bread my brother cooked for me while watching my nephew and niece seek the candies Eli and I hung on our Christmas tree for them to find.  Most of my in-laws came to see us and brought us supper, along with balloons, and a picture my nephew drew of Eli and I, proclaiming us the “best aunt and uncle ever!”
I laid in bed that night, holding my husband’s hand, crying tears of joy and saying “we did it. We made it through.”  After being sick for years and getting no diagnosis, besides being labeled a crazy hypochondriac, we got an answer and had the surgery to make it right.  And he stuck with me through it all.

This last weekend has made me realize that it should be a reflex that upon inhaling, we exhale gratitude,

And that gratitude is not just is own, self-contained quality, but the mother of innumerable other virtues.
We forget these things, and that's okay because something will come along to make us remember.  And although that something may not be easy, and could come in the form of pain or tragedy, it brings perspective, and perspective teaches us to tell those that we love that we love them, and helps us to appreciate the little moments.

I can honestly say I feel like I’ve been in the Hotel California for 2 years and have just broken out.
And baby, it feels good.
Like a face lift for my soul.

Saturday, December 15, 2012


The surgery went wonderfully.
And miraculously, my jaw was not broken, the nerves weren't permanently damaged, and I was even able to get some cadaver bone packed into the gaping hole that was left after he pulled out the implant.

I'm all doped up on Percocet now, and gorging myself on ice cream, ramen, soup, soft cookies, banana bread, and other squishy foods.

I already feel like a weight and pressure has been lifted from my jaw, merely by removing the implant I was allergic to. It is baffling.

I'm going to write a big long post about the whole thing later on.
For now,
I cannot express my thankfulness and immense relief that this nightmare is over.

“Difficulties are opportunities to better things; they are stepping stones to greater experience. Perhaps someday you will be thankful for some temporary failure in a particular direction. When one door closes, another always opens.”

Thursday, December 13, 2012


Tomorrow is the big day.

When I get to have all of what I struggled for, through pain and battles with the insurance and infection to have...removed.

It is so surreal to look back on 2010, and how excited we were for a new method of bone marrow transplant, so could finally have some teeth in the pit of doom in my mouth.
I haven't had teeth over there for about 16 years.

And now, knowing what I know and what I have suffered, I wish I had never done it.
But hindsight is always perfect.

Last night we had a 12/12/12 potluck.  I slaved in the kitchen over an asparagus spinach dip.  I was making it for the first time and of course created my own recipe.
I kept adding cheese and stirring it until it was creamier.  When we got to our friend's apartment and heated it in the oven, it was so delicious and gooey.
It was a big hit.

And I had too much wine and the fear that I have been pushing off overwhelmed me and I started sobbing. In my friend's kitchen.  Right in the middle of our 12/12/12 potluck.
I am such a party pooper.
I suddenly became as gooey as the yummy spinach artichoke dip.
I was in pain from eating, and had to excuse myself to the bathroom to dry heave.

The pain in my mouth and jaw has been so excruciating the last few days that when anything remotely touches the swollen lump in my mouth at the implant site, I dry heave, and sometimes actually vomit from the pain.
Which has never happened to me.  It sucks.
When I called the surgeon to ask for a prescription painkiller yesterday, she said "you can wait until after your surgery" and hung up on me.
True story.

I have lost my voice from stress and pain, and when someone in my department makes me laugh, it comes out as a squeak.

I can't stop thinking about the surgery itself, mainly the anesthesia.
I always konk out when they first give it to me, but then I tend to wake up during the surgery itself, which is terrifying.  My heart is racing right now as I write this, just remembering previous surgeries.
I always want Eli there with me, so his face is the last thing I see as I go under (I know it is silly, but I always think just in case I don't wake up...).
I am absolutely terrified that the surgeon is going to break my jaw.
It is a risk.

I have to stop writing about this now, and thinking about it, before I give myself a heart attack.
I am nauseous and lightheaded just for having vocalized these thoughts!

I am trying to stay positive and not think about the "what IFs." 
I will be fine.  This will go well.  We will be 2 for 2 on successful implant removal surgeries.
I've been building up some good karma lately (letting other drivers merge on the highway in front of me, returning my shopping carts to the designated area, giving change to the bell-ringers, bringing my co-workers tea, and speaking nicely to everyone on the phone, even the mean receptionists of my surgeon) and a few people have me on their prayer lists.

All I can do is send my good thoughts into the world, palms up, and hope.

Where hope would otherwise become hopelessness, it becomes faith. 
~Robert Brault

Tuesday, December 11, 2012

I'm reading maps...and I don't know what they mean.

I like maps.
I am a self-confessed map lover.
I went into spasms of joy on the tour of Vatican City when you walk through this hall that is covered with paintings of all kinds of maps, thousands of years old.

Many of them are frescoes, and that is my favorite style of painting.  It is difficult, but the results are absolutely wonderful---it involves painting into wet plaster and finishing your masterpiece BEFORE THE PLASTER DRIES.  So next time you look at a mind blowing painting, and then you hear it is a fresco, remember that they were creating that bad boy on a serious deadline.

The Last Supper is a fresco, and that thing is incredibly detailed for having been painted in a rush, but the plaster (made of lime and river sand) wasn't mixed right, which is why you hear about the Last Supper preservation and the crisis about maintaining it.

Frescoes are often used for building exteriors because the piugment soaks into the wall and is therefore a part of the actual wall, beyond just the surface.

I didn't mean to go on this great and bizarre tangent.
I just wanted to talk about how friggin sweet maps are, and instantly thought of the Hall of Maps because it is one of my favorite places in the world.

I thought of maps because when I opened the Huffington Post this morning, it had an article about the New Jersey coastline devastated by Hurrican Sandy, and how most of the houses were built on the WRONG SIDE OF THE SEAWALL.
Which is why many of them were totally destroyed---not following building code!
 And they had a map illustrating this, and I was looking at it starry-eyed, enjoying all of its neat map qualities, and realized I hardly even knew what I was looking at, analysis-wise. 
I didn't care about the map's informational intention, I was just absorbed observing it.
What a map nerd!  They also had some images that I was stunned by.
It really does look like a post-apocalyptic world.  Anyone making an end-of-the-world movie should just film it on the Jersey shore--free and authentic backdrops! It blew me away.
And seems eerily and sadly fitting for the whole "Mayan Apocalypse" that some nutcases think is coming up in a few weeks.

Yes, this whole lecture because I looked at a map this morning.

Monday, December 10, 2012

What a Tweed

Welp, it's Monday again!
The weekend was a somewhat stressful and painful affair,
as I tried to ignore the throbbing pain in my mouth and jaw and plan with Eli and my family a course of action for having surgery.

I was so fearful this morning about speaking to my new boss about needing to take time off...after 1 week of working here.  I don't want to be that employee.
But she was incredibly gracious and concerned and told me to do what I've gotta do.

I'm having the emergency surgery on Friday (taking as little time off as possible!).  I'm working a half day on Friday and then going in during lunchtime.
Which is gonna stink because everyone in this company always has goodies floating around (chocolate chip pumpkin muffins this morning, homemade tamales around lunchtime...) and I always have a mug of tea or coffee in my hand, and on Friday I can't have anything to eat or drink, pre-surgery.  YIKES!
I should hang a sign around my neck that said "don't feed the animal."

And I know this is pushing it, but I'm going to try my darndest to be back to work on Monday.
Can someone recover from major invasive surgery in 2 and a half days? We'll see. I volunteer as tribute.
Either way it should be interesting when I come back tow rok all hopped up on painkillers!
At least my co-workers, and my own department especially, are badass.

When I got the bad news about having to have surgery ASAP to remove my implants, after 2 years of trying to save them and the bone marrow graft, I was crying and cussing.
And instead of rolling their eyes or peering over my cubicle going "what the hell is your problem" or, even worse, ignoring me, like some crazy co-workers may have, they were all concerned and wanted to make sure I was okay.
And I scored a giant chocolate cupcake in the deal.
So yes, loving my job and my new peeps.

We want to make it look like "Christmas threw up" in our corner by the windows, and I contributed a giant strand of flashing lights to the cause this morning.
We taped them up across 4 of our cubicles and they look amazing! Especially with the snow gently falling beyond them.
I took a picture, but you can't really tell the lights are going in it.  They are much brighter in real life and cheer the place up a bit.
I wore some warm tights today with my tweed skirt and black boots, but am still a bit chilly by the window, so we cranked up the heat and I got some scalding hot French roast, freshly ground from my coffee club downstairs. Yummm.
I've gotten a myriad of compliments on the skirt and it makes me so happy (and proud of my new company) that the people here know what tweed is.  YES!

In other news, I had an amazing roast turkey last night with my family and it felt like a second Thanksgiving.  It was just what I needed before going into surgery (and having to eat mushy crap for a few days). I also whooped on my Mom playing Scrabble (don't challenge an English major).
 Eli and I caught up on laundry and were both ecstatic last night when we made up the bed and crawled into it.  Nothing compares to clean, soft sheets scented by those fragranced dryer inserts.
I took a hot bath and finished reading The Winter Rose for the fourth time, lit the next candle in our menorah, and then Eli and I watched an old Breaking Bad (from Season 3, when Jesse is going to kill those guys that used the kid as their drug mule and he is walking up to them in the cold, drawing his gun, and both thugs whip out their own pistols and you're going "NO NO NO! Don't kill Jesse!" and Jesse is about to get blown away when Walter speeds up in his car and runs the bad guys over, shoots one of them [I still scream in shock and horror when that happens, no matter how many times I watch it] and turns to Jess starkly, and says "RUN."  
And you just sit there going "hooooooly shit.  Did that just happen?" and you never view Walter White the same again.  Amazing.  I'm still not over it, can you tell?).
I sipped on a brandy, which helped with the congestion and cough I still have from this lingering cold.
I am hoping I can ditch it before my surgery this week, so I'm drinking Airborne and EmergenC like a mofo.
Plus the brandy helps with the agonizing pain in my mouth and jaw.
OTC painkillers don't do a damn thing, so until the surgeon prescribes the heavy stuff, I'm sticking to booze, coffee, and chocolate to numb the throbbing.

Happy Monday!

Saturday, December 8, 2012

Tie the Knot Twice. Or Thrice.

Sorry, friends, about my rather cryptic and emotional post from last night.
I was lying in bed, Eli had already gone to NeverNeverLand after the exhausting day we suffered, and I was feeling utterly conflicted--deeply furious, and so sad I felt empty, and also had a bit of confusion as to what road to take next thrown in there.  Not a happy time.
And I needed to write it out, and in the absence of a pen and paper (or anything I could have possibly written on, I'm not fussy), I grabbed the phone off my nightstand and started typing away.

Let me give you some backstory.
There is the waaaaaaay back backstory that I could write a novel about (and am honestly trying to), but I won't take it that far.
For those of you that personally know me, and those out there that have read a few of my blogs, you're aware that I've been struggling with my health for years.
Since 2010, to be precise. 
For others, or those that can't keep up with my problems (because you all know I've had a whole stack of health concerns, here's a summary, because I'm an English nerd like that.  Just be glad I didn't call it a synopsis.  If you know the story, skip ahead).

Summary: because of my childhood cancer, my left mandable (jaw bone running from my ear to my chin) was removed and they put the smaller of the 2 bones from my leg in there instead.  But since I was just a kid of 8, that bone is tiny. And has remained so. We tried to bulk it up a decade ago with a bone marrow graft, but it failed.
In 2010, for fear of me losing my teeth on the bottom, we started looking into new options.
When they operated on me to cut out the cancer, they took out my teeth on the bottom left side of my mouth and I haven't had any there ever since.  So my teeth on the bottom begin in the center, and there isn't anything anchoring them in (no molars for instance), so my gum line is receding and eventually they'll start to fall out like dominoes. 
Several doctors recommended getting implants so I could have false teeth there to prevent this.

My insurance, and some research, delivered us to "the best specialist in Utah."
FACT: He is not the best.  Nor even near it.  He is an incompetent asshole.
Unfortunately, we didn't know that at the time.  So we went with him.
In 2010 he did a bone marrow transplant from my hip into the jaw, then placed 2 screws within that bone to secure it.
Then he put 2 metal implants deep into the bone, took a skin graft from the roof of my mouth, and sewed that over the top so it would help re-form gum tissue and heal me all up.
I can't even begin to describe the pain involved in this procedure, particularly the bone marrow removal.  I was on a cane from that for months, and a liquid diet for 6 weeks.
The next step was adding the top posts that poke out of the gumline--what the fake teeth screw into.
They cut into my gums to get down to the implants in the bone, and put the posts on top.
And I started to feel sick.

I felt like I hadn't recovered fully from surgery--just very sore and tired all the time, and getting a bunch of sinus infections (which I never had before).  We dismissed it as part of the healing process.
I got worse.
My symptoms were all over the board, and kept multiplying.
I was nauseous all the time, to the point of dry heaving.
I started getting severe migraines for the first time in my life.
Along with vertigo and dizziness, confusion and difficulty concentrating, constant stomach upset, vision changes, mood changes, unexplained frequent aches all over my body, skin eruptions (especially along my jawline), extreme fatigue, depression, insomnia, and weight fluctuations.
To name a few.  I was sick all of the time with head colds and sinus infections. Sometimes I got unexplained fevers.  The chronic fatigue was the worst.
I was tested for anemia, Lupus, parasites, HIV, et cetera.  I was put on anti-depressants. I changed my diet.  Nothing helped.

I confronted the doctor, said I hadn't been well since he placed the implants.
He said I was a hypochondriac and dismissed my symptoms, literally laughing them off at times.
My family and I persisted (they obviously saw my illness and were so worried) and asked him if I could be allergic to the implant, knowing I've always had a bad nickel allergy.
He said that my implants are pure titanium and it is impossible to be allergic to them (NEWS FLASH: titanium is always an alloy!).
I saw dozens of doctors and they were all baffled by my myriad of fluctuating and newly emerging symptoms.

And then I got a severe infection in my mouth and the tissue puffed up around those posts like a mother, and it was gross.  It was oozing and bloody and painful and I followed the surgeon's orders and kept swishing with nasty prescriptions and taking a boatload of antibiotics.
He kept saying "I've never seen anything like this before! I'm not quite sure what to do."
He decided to cut the infection out.
And do 3 more doses of heavy antibiotics (goodbye, flora in my stomach).
It didn't go away.  He cut on me again (keep in mind these were full on surgical proceedings, where they'd put me under and dig out the rotten flesh aggressively).
He performed 4 such surgeries and although I asked him for other options and to discuss the problem with another doctor, he ignored me.

So I sought a second opinion myself, that confirmed what I feared: one of my implants was infected, and once an implant is infected, there is no possible way to save it.  It must come out and trying to cut the infection out or kill it with antibiotics was futile and I was going through hell for nothing, except some extra surgical experience for my terrible doctor, that seemed to think me having surgery every month or so was NO BIG DEAL.

I went back to my main surgeon to have him remove the infected implant.
This surgery was highly dangerous because once the implants are ossea-integrated they're part of the bone and removing them you risk shattering the jaw or nerve damage.
Thank God, it went alright. This was in early June of this year, 7 months ago.
And the infection immediately went away and the pain from the inside of my mouth decreased noticeably.

But it didn't go away, nor did all of my symptoms.  They decreased significantly, and yet didn't cease.  The surgeon said the infection had probably been making me tired and I would get better (after he put me on MORE antibiotics).  I didn't.
I got more tired.
I tried everything, including natural remedies.  I stopped working, as Eli and I agreed I needed to dedicate my time to getting better and helping treat my newly discovered PTSD (which was exacerbated by my frequent hospital visits, health problems, and surgeries).

I still wondered about the possibility of allergy and dove into research.
I asked the surgeon about it again, pressed him for information, and demanded he provide a chemical breakdown of the implant components.
He provided it and it supposedly didn't contain nickel. I was stymied, but only briefly.  I wanted to find out what other metals I could be allergic to, so I sought an allergist to get tested.
This was a nightmare that I won't go into--but I will say it took me 3 weeks of calling the insurance and tons of doctors, having to file a case, and having it go before a review board, before I was able to see a dermatologist, who demanded a co-pay for all 4 visits for the testing.  Awful.
The test showed that a metal in my implant is a metal I am allergic to.

I asked the dermatologist to consult with my surgeon and wanted more information from them so I could make an informed decision as to whether or not the remove the remaining implant.
They didn't get back to me for 3 weeks or so.
My father and I went to visit the surgeon to discuss my options and he still acted blase about the whole thing and would not admit he had done anything wrong, denying the allergy and the fact that he ignored my repeated requests for answers (yes, I know he can't do that because he would be liable, but he never even said "I'm sorry you haven't felt well.  Probably because he thought I was lying about the whole thing).
He said he would get more information, as titanium alloy allergies are so rare that they still don't know the symptoms an allergy to it can present.

I didn't hear from him for 2 months.

Back to the present!!
This week, after I started my new job, I realized that the everyday pain in my jaw was worse.
It got deeper, like the bone itself was throbbing.
And finally, yesterday, it was agonizing.  It scared me.  So I called the idiot surgeon and he wouldn't even get on the phone with me.  The receptionist told me that he had consulted with the dermatologist more than a week and a half ago and they had decided the implant is dangerous to my health and I need to get it removed ASAP.
And no one called me to tell me.
What. the. hell.
I was livid, and upset, and scared.  I gave her a piece of my mind and demanded to speak to him but she wouldn't let me.  She said they could schedule me for surgery on the upcoming Tuesday, but I responded "I'M NOT HAVING SURGERY WITHOUT TALKING TO HIM FIRST! I WANT TO KNOW WHAT THE HELL IS GOING ON AND WHY NO ONE IS TELLING ME ANYTHING!" and she said if I just wanted to TALK to him, they could see me at the end of January.
What. the. hell.

The conversation ended with her saying I would hear from them within an hour.  I didn't, and the calls I made throughout the day went unanswered.  These people are not professionals--are you getting that impression?

And near the end of the day yesterday, the skin around the implant in my mouth started to swell.  overnight it has turned into a blistering, oozing, disgusting ball.  It is infected, just like the first implant was.  This is a major symptom of metal allergy and implant rejection.
And this infection has moved soooo much faster than the first one.  It is freaking me out, and more than anything the pain is unbearable.
I called the Answering Service at the surgeon's today to see if they would prescribe anything for the pain to get me through until I can properly talk to him and get emergency surgery scheduled and the bimbo on the phone refused to put me through to talk to him and treated me as though I were demonstrating crazy-addicted-drug-seeking-behavior.
Lemme tell you,
ibuprofen doesn't even make a dent in this kind of pain.  This is the kind of pain that makes you dry heave and considering going to the Emergency Room for some kind of relief.  This is the kind of pain that makes weaker, more alone people kill themselves.  It is not to be taken lightly, nor dismissed.

I am also incredibly upset, obviously.  I despise this man, yet he placed the implants and removed the last one without problem, so I know I need to have him remove this one as well, for safety.
If only I could do a "Walter White" to my surgeon's practice.
He is my best option.  But I don't trust him and it is mighty shitty to be put to sleep with someone you hate with every fiber of your body, that has basically ruined the last 2 years of your life, looming over you with a scalpel.

 Maybe I watch too much Grey's Anatomy and expect superior doctors. 
Bur regardless, this guy is neglectful, incompetent, and a bit sociopathic.

I regret ever having any procedures done. I thought I was helping myself and it only ended up being hurt.  Lots of it. What was the point?  Unnecessary pain and suffering?  Yes, pain is weakness leaving your body and what doesn't kill you makes you stronger, and all that motivational crap.  But for what??? It shouldn't be voluntary and not even have a light at the end of the looooooong and twisted tunnel.  I feel like I am the butt end of a cruel, long-term joke.

I feel guilty for casing so much worry to my husband, family, and friends.  I am unspeakably livid that 2 years of my life has been taken away.
I've lived life as best as I can, yes, but not the way life should be lived.
 Not putting on a facade and acting happy and lively, but really feeling inside like I could collapse at any second.
And that is the worst thing to do to a person--to take away their time.
And then accuse them of lying about feeling ill.

We are looking into filing some sort of medical malpractice lawsuit.
We should be compensated for all the money we spent seeing other doctors, desperate for some kind of diagnosis and help.
But most of all, I want to do everything in my power to prevent this psychopath from doing this to anyone else.  It is unfair, traumatic, and shattering.  He should not be practicing this kind of medicine.
I had a breakdown last night, and sobbed to Eli "this just isn't fair.  I though I'd paid my dues with the cancer years ago."
I had to keep reminding myself, "If God brings you to it, He will bring you through it,"
and opening my Great Great Aunt's locket and reading the note I put into one of the windows:

When you get to the end of your rope,
tie a knot,
and hold on.

I've tied it tight baby.  Several times before. And I'm tying it again tonight.  And holding on as hard as I can.  Luckily, I've got people behind me, supporting my grip.