Tuesday, August 26, 2014

I Must Look Like A Grasshopper When I Run

Going back to school went pretty well for me. I had three art classes for my last semester, which was quite a bit more relaxed than I was used to. I did a silk screen printing class, which I enjoyed much more than I ever thought I would. It's nerve racking being in art classes as a scientist. I realized how differently I see things than my artistic classmates. It took me some time to realize that I needed to see things in a more literal sense than an analytic sense. I felt like it took me some time, but I figured out how to do that. Silk screen printing was hard after getting my gall bladder out, however. You need to be able to push down on the squeegee with equal pressure from both shoulders multiple times. It's an incredible amount of fun, but extremely hard when you've just had surgery and both your shoulders are weak!

The last semester of school went incredibly fast. In my mind, it went much too fast. I started looking around the school as I walked and realized that I wasn't going to be there much longer as a student or as an employee. I started to panic as well, because I realized how much harder life was going to be past University. I could no longer take a week or two off for surgeries so easily because I was unsure of how my future employers would be able to handle that. I would no longer have things like reading week to take breaks with. Even worse, I would be leaving the University as an employee and I was really going to miss my coworkers. Time steadily passed, just as it had for the past 7 years, and I was soon looking towards the last days of school. Art classes don't have exams, so the last day of school for me was going to be exactly that: the last day of school.

It was around this time that I headed back to my shoulder surgeon to have a checkup for my shoulder graft. My surgeon was extremely happy with how my left shoulder was progressing. He asked me if I had any concerns, and I said that my right shoulder was hurting. It was the same symptoms as when my left shoulder had first collapsed, there was pain and stiffness, though this came and went so I figured it was just a less extreme collapse. He gave me an x-ray on it that day, and it looked fine, but he said there was obviously an issue if I felt pain, so we may as well do surgery and figure out what happened. I can't explain how happy I am to have a surgeon who trusts me and trusts the fact that I know when something is wrong. He told me to schedule it with his nurse. I decided to wait until after I'd started my job to schedule it, because I didn't want to start my job by saying "by the way I have surgery next week."

Finally, school ended, and I went on a trip to Europe with my family! We went so many places because it was a lengthy cruise. We were all so worried about me, we even brought my travel wheelchair just in case (though in hindsight, it wouldn't have done much off the ship because of the cobblestones). We were joking about me sitting on it on the ship and rolling from the left to right side and back, because of the waves. It was one of the best travel experiences I'd ever had, and it was a great way to get even closer to my family. At the end of the trip I was taking several Tylenol 3's a day because my joints were so sore and I was so tired, but I'm happy it didn't cloud my mind, so I'll always remember it. At one point, in Venice, we were waiting for a boat ride to take us to some different areas and then deposit us at the ship. However, that boat never came. My family told me to run to a different part of the block we were on to see if there was a bunch of people waiting over there. I ran but didn't see anything, so I turned back around and saw the three of them walking towards me and laughing. When they got to me, they told me they'd never seen me run before, and that it was hilarious. That's the last time I'll ever run.

When I got back home, I started my new job. It was similar to the University in the sense that everyone was incredibly nice. I got put on a nice big project and was able to use my brain from day one! I found it interesting and challenging, and I was able to wake up feeling excited about going to work every day. I immediately started getting post-school anxiety, however. It was surprising how much time I had left in my day after work was finished. I struggled with finding ways to fill it. This is around the time that I started playing World of Warcraft again, just to ease my frustrations.

A couple of weeks after starting work, I had my convocation from University! I was excited for so many reasons. This was my first real graduation, where I could stay for the entire event and not have to cut it short. As well, I really enjoyed University, and this was a huge stepping stone for me to the beginning of my post-school life. After 7 years, I finally made it through school and was ready to live as an adult! A few people came to watch me, but unfortunately my grandparents were not included in that. I was extremely disappointed about it, but because of recent health issues, none of them were really well enough to make the drive and sit through the convocation. I understood, but was upset about it.

One issue I immediately had was that I was still going back and forth to Hanna on some weekends. I disliked leaving and was finding that I'd often take my laptop with me, just in case. I started getting frustrated with the distance and was looking to just focus more on work and making roots for myself somewhere. He was an extremely nice guy, but I was getting overwhelmed with where I was headed in life and was unsure how to take the next steps while factoring him in. I realized that in order to figure out where I was going, I was going to need some space. So shortly after beginning my job, we broke up.

As you can probably tell, this wasn't the most interesting period of my life, but it was a bit of an emotional roller coaster. I was finishing off some parts of my life, and was starting others. This was definitely a turning point for me however, and was setting the stage for an interesting few months.

Monday, June 16, 2014

Can You Not Cut There? I Have A Piercing I Want To Keep.

As another timing point, this is now the end of December 2012. I had a couple of things to look forward to/dread, such as finding myself a job and getting my gall bladder removed. Yes, after a year and a half of gall bladder pain, I finally was ready to get it taken out.  The date for that was January 18th, so I was going to have to wait.

I looked on my University career site for job postings, and there were a couple there. I sent my resume in and figured I'd have to look around. While looking, I got an email from a headhunter that swears she's not a headhunter who found me on LinkedIn. She wanted me to go for an interview at this place downtown. I agreed and set a date, and at the same time another company closer to the University asked me to come for an interview. I agreed and set a date, coincidentally the same date as the other interview, just later in the day. The interviews were for the start of January, so I figured I could put my hunt on hold for a bit.

I went to the first interview. It was a nice enough place, but it was a hassle to get to and I got the feeling of disorganization out of it. The interview went well and I headed back to the Uni to work. Later I got back in my car and drove the one minute drive to the second interview. This one went terrifically. I liked the place, the person who interviewed me, and everything. When I was done, a full hour later than we'd planned, I went home.  Both places promised to get back to me about a second interview in about a week. A couple days later I heard back from the second place to come in for another one. I happily did, and everything worked out again. I even got a tour of the office and an offer of pizza.

When I got an offer from the second interview, I still hadn't heard back from the first place. This was already about two weeks after my first interview. Eventually I emailed again (which should never happen from a professional environment), which sparked a response saying I just wasn't experienced enough in PHP. Okay, I've had three years of experience, all of which didn't come from University, so good luck finding someone from here that has that and a University degree. The guy told me that they'd keep me on file for a round of interviews around the time of graduation (how would I be better qualified in four months?). I politely said thanks, but I have an offer and I won't be needing that. Their entire place sounded shady at best. So I took the job from the second place and was so excited.

Having all this out of the way, I was now more prepared to get my gall bladder out, at least mentally. This was the first surgery I was getting at the Rockeyview hospital. Mom, Dad, and I rolled into the hospital early in the morning and waited for check-in. I've always found it so comical the way that people feel the need to be treated better than everyone else just because they're getting cut open. In that room, everyone is getting surgery in a few hours, so acting like a spoiled child really just makes you look like an idiot. I had someone cut the line in front of me to show IDs. In reality, this person is just hurrying up to wait, so it's their own loss. Also, good things happen to those who wait, and on surgery days, I'm willing to get all the good things I can.

Not a lot happened before this surgery, and I don't remember waiting long. Soon it was time to head out to the OR. They did it quite a bit differently this time; they wheeled me directly outside the room where the surgeon briefly chatted and they did all the "are you pretending to be Kelli just so you can get cut open" checks. The surgeon asked if I had any questions and I said "yes, just one. I have a belly button piercing, and is there any way to make it so I can put it back in after?" He laughed and said he'd move the incision to under. Apparently I'm the only one who has ever asked this. Then they wheeled me in the room.

Because I had just recently gotten my graft, we all decided I'd be more comfortable having that arm at my side instead of putting it out and having it get angry during the surgery. So they strapped me in, drugged me up, and put an oxygen mask on me. There was an anesthesiology student there, so they were teaching him how to put the mask on me so that he didn't snap it into my eye. He seemed pretty terrified, which entertained me a bit. I realized I'd likely had more surgeries than he'd ever seen. Then the anesthesiologist (the real one) told me that we were waiting for someone, so I should just sit tight. I was strapped down, so I don't know what he thought I was planning on doing. I listened to my heartbeat and practiced slowing it down so that I was more calm. Once it sounded more like a normal heartbeat, the anesthesiologist looked at me with a surprised look on his face. Don't worry sir, I'm still alive.

Finally the guy came in and they went through the process. Give me something to relax (I wish I could get that on a regular basis), give me the forget-this drug that makes everything look a bit grainy, then knock me out. I've found I remember more and more of it during every surgery. So long as I don't remember the first cut, I figure that's probably okay. Then I was out!

Considering all the surgeries I've had, I don't really count this as an important one so I won't really be giving a lot of details. It went smoothly enough, and I had the exact symptoms they described. I didn't throw up from the drugs because I don't really anymore. The only issue I had was that the gas that they put in you bubbled up to my shoulders, which hurt pretty dang bad. He told me I had over 10 gall stones (they stop counting at 10), so he wasn't surprised I was getting attacks. Apparently I shouldn't have waited a year and a half to get them out. Oh well.

When I got home, I was laying on the chair recovering. A person who is extremely close to me was laying on our couch, having had their own surgery that day. I was just drifting off to a happy dream world when that person got up and went upstairs. That was definitely not okay, but the person (let's call this person Alex) didn't tell us where she was going. When she came down we asked if she was okay, and she didn't answer. Shortly after, maybe about a minute, she started having a seizure. Being a former lifeguard, I recognized what it was, but I wasn't about to leave everyone to deal with it. Alex is extremely close to me, and I wanted to make sure she was okay. So with my Mom on the phone with EMS, I got to work ensuring her head was somewhere soft and away from everything. Alex's husband was close by, trying to get her to stop. I had to make sure he didn't shake her or get close to her mouth, and when she finished seizing I got him to roll her on her side. She woke up after a few minutes but wasn't coherent and kept trying to walk away from us. EMS arrived at this point and took her away, which is when I laid back down and had my nap. I won't tell you more about Alex's story because once again, that's not my story to tell. For this though, it had an effect on me because it was the same day of both our surgeries, and I feel it's important in this point for my story. I will let you know that Alex is okay now.

I only had about a week to recover, and then I went back to my last semester in school. I was so excited for so many things: convocation, starting my new job, and going on a trip that I wasn't sure I was going to be able to handle!

Tuesday, March 18, 2014

No, I Just Wear This Sling As A Fashion Statement

To give you all a gauge of time in this everlasting story, this was now around October of 2012. I was in my most favourite class, Human Computer Interaction 2, this semester. It was great because I could work on such interesting and new technologies, and it was also so fast paced with so much work that I cried from it a couple times. That's how you know if it's a good class: it breaks your soul.

I was still in my sling at this time, but mostly just while I walked around so that no one decided to body check me into the lockers or something. You really never know with people. When I got to class or work, I'd sit down and take it off so I could type and pretend to be a normal person.

At this point, I was thinking about the poster that I had seen. There was an information session coming up about a very fantastic company that I'd always wanted to work for. I'd talked to my parents about it and my Dad decided to come with me so he could write notes.

The day of the session rolled around and we went to the school together, then sat in a small classroom where it was taking place. There were a LOT of people. They had pizza and drinks on the table, and then proceeded to tell us about this place that they wanted us to apply at. It sounded amazing, though there were only 3 position types and none of them were exactly what I wanted to do. That wouldn't stop me though. I listened to a lot of people's questions, Dad and I made fun of a couple under our breaths. Then we were able to go, and discuss things with the presenters if we so chose. My dad went off and let me wait for people to finish asking their questions of one of the people. So I waited. This guy was in a Program Manager position, which I figured I would fit into the best, despite not having any business background. After a while, he looked at me and says "Wow! What did you do?", gesturing at my sling. I responded "Oh, nothing, I just wear it for fashion." Immediately after saying it, I decided I was an idiot, but thankfully he found it really funny. I told him what I actually had, and he looked a little blown away. I asked a couple of things, like how much my minor would help me and what the medical support from the company was, and that was that!

I honestly didn't think anything would happen from putting my resume in, but a short while later I got an email from Microsoft saying that I was chosen for an interview for the position of PM. I freaked, yelled at my parents to come read it, fist pumped, etc. And then I got really scared. I didn't have a job for after University yet, which was fast approaching, and I really wanted to work here! So I started getting prepared. I made a paper portfolio and practiced thinking about interfaces. And went shopping for interview clothes, of course. The day of the interview rolled around and I was strangely calm. I'd given myself lots of time between a class and the interview so I could be sitting in the seat early.  I won't give you too much insight into the interview itself. I'll just say it went pretty good. I left thinking it was one of the better interviews I've done, and left it at that in my mind. After that, I went home and told my parents and brother how it went.

About a week later, I got another email from Microsoft saying I'd been chosen for a second interview... in Seattle! I had to do so much for this, fill out forms, tell them when I was okay to go and how long I'd stay for. My mom decided to come with me for this because then I wouldn't be alone and she could shop.  The time flew by very quickly for this, and soon I was at the airport boarding the plane with my mom. We took off, and I immediately got a searing pain in my shoulder. Mom said "I guess she doesn't like flying", which we both found quite funny. We landed in Seattle and took a cab to the hotel. It took forever. I'm sure we didn't even go far, but it felt like we went from Calgary to Edmonton. Really, we went to Bellevue and got dropped off at this amazing hotel. I can't stress that enough... the hotel was beautiful. We had great views of the city and dogs in down coats and mini umbrellas. Yes, I'm serious. The dogs were dressed warmer than the people walking them.

The trip was a little whirlwind. We did a bunch of shopping and saw a friend, but the main part of the trip was obviously the interview itself. I won't tell you about the inner workings of the interview, because I'm sure Microsoft wouldn't appreciate that, but just know I met a really nice Masters student from my school who was also going for an interview in Bellevue. I'll save the stories from this too, though they were hilarious and involved tanning beds and snow sharks. It was one of the best experiences of my life, and solidified in my mind that at this point of my life, there was no place I'd rather be than Calgary. You know, I don't get Seasonal Depressive Disorder, but I felt very depressed from the minute we touched down. Calgary is a very sunny place, and apparently Seattle can too, but it sure wasn't while we were there. I'm also so happy Mom was with me, because she was with me from the second I joined the other interviewees (it was kinda like the first day of school) to when I got back and texted her. She jumped in a cab (who she'd made wait for her while she was outlet shopping) and came back as fast as she could. It made me realize that with all the big moments in my life, my family had been there for me. Whether it was my health problems, getting into University, or going for an interview in Seattle, they were always there. And I'm not ready to give that up. I've had a lot of people come and go in my life, and no matter what, they're still there.

So after Mom and I went to the Microsoft store (it's like heaven for me) and got our matching Surfaces, we got back in the cab and got back on our plane. My donor seemed to have gotten over her fear of flying because my shoulder didn't hurt. On the way home, I tried to make a plan in my head about what I was going to do for a job when I graduated. I had four months left to get a job. And I was in for quite a surprise when I got back.

Thursday, February 27, 2014


I have heard that bone grafts are the most painful surgery you can get. I'd always assumed that only applied to people who had the bone removed from elsewhere on their body.  I was wrong. Here's a list of things you should never do after getting a bone graft:
1) Sneeze
2) Cough
3) Laugh
4) Shrug
5) Think about your shoulder enough to make it twitch a bit
6) Drop something in front of you and try to catch it with the graft-arm
7) Move, ever
8) Breathe
9) Cry from the pain of the aforementioned motions
I'm pretty sure I did all these things when I woke up from the surgery. It takes time to figure out you don't have an arm to use, so you keep trying to use it until you feel the pain.

I woke up in recovery with the feeling that the bone disease was gone. It was incredible. I could instantly tell the difference. But man was I out of it. I slept a TON and eventually a nurse came over and told me they didn't have a room for me yet, which was why I was still chilling in recovery. I realized it had been a couple hours since surgery already.  Eventually my surgeon came in and was livid that I didn't have a room yet. He basically went out and called the nurses station of where I was headed, demanding a room. He's awesome.

Eventually I started rolling towards my room. It had taken a long time, but I was on my way to a nice, peaceful rest. I'm kind of making this sound like death... I didn't die, I swear. I got to my room with my family in tow. They told me it had been six hours since I rolled into my surgery, and that they were happy I was okay. Apparently they weren't told anything, though how could they be? Recovery wasn't about to call them, or let them in. Oh well. The acute pain services people came in and hooked up a morphine drip. This is the first time I've had one of these, where you hit the button if you're feeling pain. I was super hesitant to use it, but they told me I should because soon I was going to be in a TON more pain. So I did.

It didn't take long to get back to sleep. My family left relatively soon because I was exhausted. So I slept the night away, waking up occasionally to wonder why an older lady kept coming to my door. The next day I woke up and went home early, with a bunch of pills in my pocket.

I was in a sling for a long, long time. I have issues wearing that sling because it hurts my elbow, but I had the block this time so I got to wait a few blissful days until the feeling came back to my arm. I say arm because a couple fingers still had pins and needles or no feeling at all for about a week, which wasn't much help except that it made me think about them all the time on top of thinking about the shoulder. My family was extremely helpful. My boyfriend came in a couple times but he was quite hesitant about the whole thing. He wanted to go to a music store about a week after my surgery and I went because I figured he'd driven all that way to come and see me, so I should make him happy. Things like that were super tiring.

I went back to work relatively quickly.. I think it was a week. My boss told me I could so long as I didn't tell people that they beat me up. Work made me happy, it made me feel normal again. I had so many people in the building tell me about their surgeries, specifically the ones they thought I'd gotten (rotator cuff, dislocated shoulder, etc). I had one professor calling me Gimpy. It was great.

I went back to school about a week after that. School was just starting, and it was my last year. I didn't expect the workload of one of the classes, but to be honest, it was completely worth it. I remember them being so scared when I was able to start taking off my sling for comfort reasons, and to type. But I did that quickly, because I hate typing with one hand.

The worst part of this recovery was the fact that I couldn't drive for six weeks. My cab driver neighbour would take me home after school, and my dad would take me there every morning. This meant that I couldn't stay at school late or go early, and also made me hate needing to depend on other people. But really, who likes having to depend on people, right?

One final thing happened during this time was my ex-boyfriend that kept texting me decided to email me. He told me that the reason he'd been trying to get a hold of me was that he had gotten a diagnosis for asperger's, and that he'd finally realized because of it that he'd treated me badly and wanted to apologize. I read it a few times and realized I could take two paths with this. I could ignore it, just like his texts and attempts to chat, as he'd told me he would be fine with me doing in the email. Or I could respond and talk to him about it. I thought about a lot of things with this, but mostly my mind was stuck on how people treated me when they found out about my health problems. I imagined how I would feel had I sent an equivalent email, and how I would feel if a person ignored me. And finally, I thought about the support system that I was aware of him having and how I thought they would react to this news. In the end, the decision was quite easy. I emailed him back and told him that all was forgiven, and then did my best to give him a few pointers about being diagnosed with a major health issue that I had learned along the way. There are people that I know that still refuse to forgive him and don't understand why I did, but in my opinion there was no question about what needed to be done. I could continue on this thread, but just know that I feel there is no fault in what he did, and I hope that he is able to find help, support, and peace with his own health problems. The rest of his story is his story to tell.

After this happened, I went downstairs to head towards my awaiting neighbour. On my way down, I passed a sign for an information session about a potential employer. Naturally, I tore down every sign I could find and stashed it in my bag... no just kidding. I took a picture of it with my phone and made a mental note to discuss this with my parents. I had no idea about the series events this picture would lead to, but I now know that it was likely one of the most important pictures of my life.

Friday, February 7, 2014

How's It Going? Why Is Your Face So White? Did He Hit My Jugular?

So August 28th rolled around. I made sure to get a lot of sleep before and hang out with my cat as much as I could. I threw balls left handed, juggled left handed, cooked with only my left hand... no, wait, I didn't do those things. I just thought I should try it while I had it. I was very prepared for this surgery in my mind.

We strolled into the hospital at the balmy hour of 2am (more like 6am, but there's not really a difference) and got checked in.  Sitting in bed waiting for the surgery to start, I was so excited. It's hard to explain how you can be excited for a surgery. Most people in that room are sitting there being scared out of their minds, but not me. I was about to have my shoulder stop being a bitch. It was finally time!

The holding room nurse starting giving me an IV. I hate IV's. Not because I find them painful, but because my veins tend to decide they won't get an IV before surgery. So this guy tried to give me one and succeeded! But shortly after, my vein blew. My arm started swelling up and hurting and I was like "um, sir?" He ripped it out of me and said the anesthetist would do it. Poor guy. I really am a dream killer.

They wheeled me into the holding area to go into surgery, and Mom and Dad were both beside me. We talked to the anesthetist and he decided that the best thing to do for pain relief during and after the surgery was a block. It would freeze my entire left arm for a few days and I wouldn't feel a thing.  In order to do it, they had to put a needle in my neck and there was a chance of them accidentally nicking my jugular and killing me.  As much as I'm making this sound not very appetizing, the block sounded perfect, so we said yes.  Then the surgeons walked in. I don't know if you've ever met surgeons, and maybe it's just my surgeons, but I've never met a group of more excited, happy people in my life. The two that were doing this one were hilarious. My usual shoulder surgeon is just great, a barrel of laughs really, and the other one really made an impression this day.  He came in, having driven from the city that his practice is in, and show us the instructions he would be using to do the graft surgery. The paper was all wet and crinkled, and he told us that was because he'd had the papers in his back seat with his dog, who was wet. But we needn't worry, because he could still read them quite well.  This cracked up all of us. There's a reason I let these people work on my joints, and part of it is because I just like them so much.  So they signed my left shoulder and told me it was time for the block.

They wheeled me behind a curtain, then told me to look to the right. I could only see Dad, who stood there for moral support, but I could hear Mom's voice behind me, as she was standing within the curtain. I also heard the voice of my anesthetist and two more doctors.  They had to ultrasound my neck as they did it to make sure they didn't kill me.  I could see my Dad's face and it was going whiter and whiter. I could also hear the doctors talking about how not to hit important parts of my body with the needle. After what seemed like twenty minutes but I'm pretty sure was only 5, I heard "we're done!" and I started not feeling my arm. Voila! I'd give a thumbs up at the point but my had was frozen so it was more of a thumb-play-dead. Surgery time.

My nurse rolled me down the hall and near the OR, and I jumped off the trolley. We walked into the room, making sure to bring my trusty sling, and I approached the "bed". I put it into quotations because the bed for my shoulder surgeries is actually more of a chair. Once you jump on onto it and they strap you down and put everything into you and onto you, they lay it back and it's more of a bed. It's just better to get you in position for the surgery. So I got positioned and got all ready to go.  Sometimes I find those surgeries a little uncomfortable in that chair because there's people putting things all over your body and you just kinda have to take it.  Gravity likes to give you a hard time with the gown too.  But eventually everything was in position, and they started giving me the drugs. I remember up to the forgetting drug again, but not to where I got to count. That guy is pretty good.

I feel a bit awkward about giving the gory details of this surgery on my blog. If I do succeed in making this a book, I will enhance it and put them in there, at least as much as I know. Just know that someone else's shoulder magically became mine! With the help of some very talented people.

When I woke up, I was shocked. I could immediately feel no bone disease pain. I knew it was a success.  It was a good thing we had done it. They ended up replacing 70% of my humeral head. All that bone was either gone or ruined from my bone disease. I woke up with the graft in, the sling on, and a massive, wet/dry bandage stuck to my arm. I couldn't even peek. All I could do was snuggle back down into my hospital bed and await the 6 weeks of pain and sling-ness that I had coming for me.

Monday, January 27, 2014

That's What My Gall Bladder Looks Like? Are They Always That Happy?

So this is a little embarrassing, but I messed up the timing a little bit in my last post. I removed the last paragraph of the last one. Forget what I said about heading towards February... I got the timing of the gall bladder surgery wrong! It's embarrassing when you have so many surgeries that you get them mixed around. Oops!

So I went into the new year quite happily! My school schedule wasn't too challenging, I was learning about how to make robots take over the world, and I was heading back and forth to Hanna every other weekend.  I figured out that not only does lengthy highway driving put a lot of strain on my joints, Hanna in general puts a lot of strain on my migraines. But I decided it was okay, because I was pretty into this guy, so I'd just live with it. So, zoom zoom.  School was pretty fantastic, I was in a lot of art classes, and I was starting to get grades that were high enough that I was thinking of going to grad school in a few years after University.  I was still taking a few group things at the pain clinic and I was doing one on one stuff with my doctor now, and they were helping in ways I'd never dreamed! So my first semester of my first year motored on quite smoothly, and I hit summer pretty quickly.  And summer is where everything blew up.

I started out by seeing my gall bladder surgeon. He told me that I did indeed have stones, and it was likely from the steroids I had from the brain surgery. My daily attacks would likely be cured by a gall bladder removal, he said, so we should definitely take it out. Then he drew a little picture for me on the bed that looked like a smiley face. I said "okay."  So I walked out and texted my parents, saying "woot, surgery number 5." Someday we hope to remove the sarcastic bone in my body, but that wouldn't be this surgery. I now had a solid date to take this baby out of me! I was pumped! I told them to put me in line to get the surgery, and if it came up before I got my call for my shoulder, then I'd get this.  Sounds perfect! Right?  I mean, I'd been waiting so long for my shoulder and I hadn't got my call, so why would I get it now?

Of course, when you're thinking something won't happen, it happens.

So a little while later, in the summer of 2012, I got my call. I was so excited. They told me that a shoulder became available and that I should get prepared. They said there was still more tests to do on it and they would tell me in a week if it was good, but I should be ready to get surgery within a month. I can't even explain how I felt. I called my parents, then I called my brother, and we were all just ecstatic. I got everything ready for work so they'd know I was away. I was ready. I couldn't have been more ready. And when they didn't call after a week I started telling myself it just meant good news, that they'd forgotten to call because they were busy getting it ready for surgery. My parents weren't so optimistic. They started telling me to not be too excited. There would be another time.  I shouldn't be heartbroken if it didn't work out this time

I already was.

They called a week and a half after that first call, and told me the bone didn't pass it's tests. I was sitting at the top of my stairs, and all I could say was "okay. Thank you."  I cried for a long, long time. It wasn't just me that didn't get a donor that day, it was a lot of people. I'm sure all of us were crushed. I understand the process, but it was like they handed me the world and then said "oops, that's not good enough for you, sorry. No replacements." Eventually I called Mom and told her. She could tell how terrible I felt, and she felt terrible for me. Poor Mom. She's really always been the cushion I fall on, every time.

Over the next month or so, I took some time to just calm down from the whole thing. I still had this gall bladder to look forward too (right? That's what you do for surgery, right? Look forward to it?) so I couldn't be totally dismayed.

At the end of July, something extremely unexpected happened... I got another call! I went through the whole cycle again, calling everyone, being excited. After waiting so long for the first call, what were the odds that the second call would happen after only a month? I got everything ready, and I was optimistic. For some reason I just felt that this time, it was going to work out. I have bad luck, but I don't have THAT much bad luck.  Mom was cautious like a deer in front of all the headlights in the world. She said she just didn't want to see me hurt again. I totally got that, but I just didn't want to be scared and hurt anymore.  We started looking through the obituaries and watching the news to see if we could maybe find who it was that my graft came from. For bone grafts, the donor could only be in Southern Alberta, which is why it's so important to sign your donor card. We think we found her, because (assuming she was from Calgary) there could really only be one person that could have been a donor for me.  The situation of the woman that we found was eerie in a way that made even Mom think it was maybe meant to be.

A week later, I got the second call. It was a go! I was to get the surgery August 28th. Both my regular shoulder surgeon and the surgeon in charge of the graft clinic was to do the surgery. I was ready! I put only healthy things into my body for the next few weeks. The Chronic Pain Center told me that they would assist for pain control after the surgery.  I called my gall bladder surgeon and told him that I'd have to hold off for a bit. There was really nothing that could go wrong!  I should stop thinking those words!

No matter how prepared I thought I was, I wasn't prepared. But I was definitely ready to have my shoulder stop dislocating and have my life back in order. All I could think was: bring it on!

Friday, December 20, 2013

If I'm An Artist Now, Does That Mean I Need To Wear A Beret And A Turtleneck? Because I Look Awesome In Berets.

So, getting back to the story, I'll actually let you back in on the timeline.  In my mind, the times get a bit muddled around this part because the depression part of my life seemed to stretch out for years.  In reality, it had only been eight months.  Once I started getting back on my feet (quite literally) and getting into my life again, I had some fun things happen.

I met a new guy, for one. He's not super important on the boyfriend scale, but he did become a really awesome friend and a really supportive person.  There have been a few people in my life like this (my nurse friend, my friend from computer science, my work husband from the uni, my Seattle friend, some family friends who are ALWAYS supportive and there for me, and of course, my own family, immediate and extended), but to be honest, people like this are just so few and far between that it's worth it to mention.  He made me feel normal, and still does. When I told him about my health stuff, he nodded and said "everyone has stuff." But then he was also the first person to text when I had surgeries. He made me realize how bad I'd had it with Josh, so he came in at a good time in my life.  I'm not going to say a lot about him in this, but he'll show up in the future briefly.

Another awesome thing that happened was I decided to add an art minor to my school.  This is a huge thing in my life because I'm not very artistic.  I wanted to better myself and step out of my element. A lot of amazing people that I know are artists, and I really respect them, so I did feel like I had a lot of hard work to do to get anywhere near the realm that they were in.  The title of this post is symbolic of what people think before they do anything artistic. Artists are some of the most creative and hard working people. It's only the one's that are obsessed with their image that wear the beret's and turtlenecks. Josh had previously wanted me to finish school asap so we could work on paying off his debt and he could go to school again, but now I was ready to add on to my degree.

One thing I did that I never thought I'd do is I got a tattoo on my left inner wrist. It says Fight.  I used to write this on my wrist all the time because it gave me strength when I needed it, and I needed it a lot. One day I decided I was wasting a lot of ink, and I may as well just waste a little and get it put on permanently.  I've never regretted it, and I don't think I ever will. I look at it several times a day and feel a bit stronger.

On top of all this, I got a wicked new Smart car, Smarti.

Despite having so many great things going on, my life felt like a constant battle. I felt like I was trying to roll sideways up a steep hill because there was cheese at the top (I love cheese).  I had so many appointments at the pain clinic. They were all massively helpful but doing them between school and work and life was draining. I kept with it though because I knew I had to.  I didn't want to slide back down that hill and away from the cheese.

Around October or something, I got back in line for my left shoulder bone graft.  My parents were very hesitant about this, saying that I should just have some time to be me without surgeries, which I understood. However, my shoulder was still dislocating several times a day, so I was pretty ready to have that fixed.  Just as I respected their opinion, they respected my decision, so I jumped back in line and got ready for it. There was a hitch though: I also needed to get out my gall bladder now. Apparently the steroids I'd taken for my brain surgery and meningitis all those years ago had also given me gall stones. So I went and talked to my shoulder surgeon about timing, because I needed to know what would happen if I got my gall bladder out and my shoulder came in.  He assured me that they would do it after a minimal amount of recovery time, so I decided to go ahead with the gall bladder surgery.

For New Years of 2012, I decided to go to Hanna to hang out with my cousin one last time before she moved away.  I went to this big Hanna dance with them all, and I wore this tight, tiny blue dress.  I hardly hung out with her at all, because there was a lot of people she knew there and she was everywhere at once.  So I ended up hanging out with my other cousin and his friends. One of the people I hung out with was this guy that he'd known for a long time. I'd always heard stories about him but hadn't really talked to him. He was pretty shy and kept bringing me coke's all night (I wasn't drinking). At the end of the night I drove him home, even though you can walk anywhere in Hanna in about five minutes. It was cute.  I contacted him on Facebook a bit later (I realize now he was too shy to contact me) and we ended up hanging out in Calgary again. Then we started dating. I though it would be great to date someone long distance because there would be the added bonus of having no pressure to hang out all the time instead of focusing on school. I didn't account for all the driving time, mind you. That's fine though. So we started dating, and he and I started alternating driving back and forth from where he was, which was Red Deer for a couple months, and then Hanna for a long, long time. But you'll hear more about that in the future.

It was around this time that I got a text message from an ex, the one I dated for 2 years and a bit. He told me he wanted to talk to me and that he was sorry for everything that happened. This stressed me out terribly. I told him not to talk to me again, and even considered changing my phone number. It had taken me a long time to get to where I was in my confidence, and I just wasn't ready to have him bring it down again. In hindsight, I should have been more willing to listen.  You'll hear about that soon too.

So the clock ticked towards the new year, and I stared into my future with apprehensive but excited eyes.  I had a lot of stuff that was going to get done in 2012 whether I liked it or not.