Thursday, February 28, 2013

- Olecranon Bursitis

Last Friday my right elbow was sore.  The skin felt like it was so dry that it had cracked.  This was of such importance to me that I even texted my friend Emily about it, because y'all, I'm sure she's totally interested in every little detail of my life.  Even though this happens to me a lot and is really nothing out of the ordinary.  My skin issues generally start at my elbows, because let's face it, they're probably one of the most neglected parts of anyone's body.  I put some Vaseline over the spot that was bothering me and a bandaid.  Because that's what I do.  The next day it wasn't better so I broke out the big guns - aka my $450 prescription ointment.  Sunday my elbow was perfect.  No red spot, no pain, it was healed!

Then Monday I woke up.  And my first thought was: "HOLY SHIT WHAT IS WRONG WITH MY ELBOW?"  Because the pain was REAL.  And it wasn't on the surface, it was in my elbow.  Looking in the mirror I didn't notice any swelling, but it felt swollen, and it was red.  I do not consider myself a wuss when it comes to pain (except headaches which reduce me to a complete baby) so the fact that accidentally brushing up against something, or putting on lotion after the shower hurt to the point where it made me sick to my stomach...made me realize I needed to bring in the big guns - aka an actual doctor.

But of course I googled/webMDed it first.  And I found out that yes, your elbow could totally get infected.  Let's look at a picture:

It turns out that if you were to perhaps have really dry skin that cracked...and bacteria got in there...and then let's say that you put an extremely potent ointment on it that healed the skin, and effectively sealed the bacteria in...well your bursa is right there.  A lovely fluid filled sac that bacteria would love nothing more than to set up shop in.  AND THEN IT GETS INFECTED.  By the time I made it to the doctor the swelling was totally obviously indicative of bursitis. 
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Left = healthy elbow, right = INFECTED elbow
It's really hard to take a picture of this.  

A doctor confirmed my self-diagnosis.  And gave me an antibiotic.  And put me in a sling.  Because your arm is INFECTED so you shouldn't be moving it all over the place.  So not only do you have to deal with the fact that you have come by a freak infection in the weirdest of places, but then you have to wear a sling which shouts to people "HI.  THERE IS SOMETHING WRONG WITH MY ARM.  PLEASE ASK ME ABOUT IT SO I CAN TELL YOU A SUPER FUN STORY."

The antibiotics they gave me are no joke, but before they kicked in things got pretty crazy Monday night as far as the pain went.  I mean that was the most shocking thing about all much your elbow can hurt.  Because it can hurt A LOT.  And you have no idea how much not having use of your elbow can effect your mobility.  Luckily overnight the antibiotics were hard at work and Tuesday the swelling was down, but the red infected area had spread to have a much larger diameter.
So HOT.  I mean literally, it was hot to the touch.

I met with an orthopedic specialist yesterday to make sure that everything was healing okay and she said that it was actually healing better than she would expect considering it had only been 2 days.  She mercifully said I didn't have to wear the sling anymore and could switch to what looks like an elbow pad worn by volleyball players.  So.  Much.  Cooler.  

Anyways...that's my ridiculous cautionary tale of how you shouldn't take your elbows for granted anymore - you should take care of them.

Saturday, February 23, 2013

- The North Shore

People who are photographers take 1000's of pictures of things all the time.  Then they sort through all of them and edit 100's to get to their final product.  I took about 250 pictures at the North Shore and that has been completely overwhelming to sort through.  Which is why I'm getting my second post in just under the wire before the week ends...because I'm lazy.  And it took a while to muster the motivation.

I didn't even edit these pictures.  I just had to pick the ones I wanted to use.  Then I didn't really write anything.  It's a pretty pathetic effort.

Let's start with a map.  When we talk about North shore, we mean the stretch of land between Duluth and Grand Marais.  That's Lake Superior on the other side of the border.  Makes for a pretty scenic drive after Duluth.

We stayed at Blue Fin Bay Resort and this was the view from the living room:
Pretty terrible.

It's easy to find yourself referring to Lake Superior as "the ocean" - it is, afterall, the largest freshwater lake in the World (by surface area, not volume).  I'm told it even has slight tides.  Even though most of the time I was there the temperature was closer to zero than not, it was nice to be outside and hear the sound of waves lapping at the shore.

We spent Saturday hiking around seeing pretty things.  It was too cold to stay away from access to a warm car or stroll through a local store for too long.   But it's worth it to be really cold in order to see this:
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One of the overlooks we stopped at on the way to Grand Marais
In Grand Marais - we walked along the shore and then out through the trees.
The water freezes on the shore in the most incredible way
And on the rocks
View from the edge
Artist's point.  There was actually someone out there painting.  The temperature was maybe 0 degrees.
But I get it.

On Sunday we stopped at some more overlooks on the way back south.  This is the frozen Temperance river:
It's not totally frozen, because eventually it flows out to this.  I love how clear and blue the water is.
Then there was Palisades.  You have to hike up quite a bit of elevation but the view is maybe worth it.
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Good thing I'm not afraid of heights.

Last there was Split rock lighthouse:
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I can't wait to go back this summer and see how everything looks in the warmer months.

Monday, February 18, 2013

- 30

It's time for an obligatory post about how I'm now older.  Wiser.  Better.  All of those things, except for the last two.  Thirty was a hard milestone for me to wrap my head around.  Some days it still is.  For much of my 20's I thought I had to accomplish certain things by 30 to have the life I wanted.  This age was more of a looming deadline because I thought that if something didn't happen to me before 30, it certainly wasn't going to happen after 30.  It felt like the end of something more than just the days when my age started with a 2.

But it isn't.  30 isn't the the end, because the end is THE END.  Time doesn't really care about how old you are or what kind of self imposed timelines you set.  That's not its job.  Its only job is to march on.  And fly while you're having fun.  And make us bolder.  (Side note: Landslide by Fleetwood Mac is totally the soundtrack of this post)  And if you continue to think that you missed out on all the great things in life...well you might actually miss out on some really great things. 

Private Practice has been one of my favorite shows these past few years.  Recently the show had it's series finale and in one of the last episodes a character was feeling like she'd maxxed out in life.  She thought that all of the good things had already happened in her life and that there wasn't much left to experience.  I cried my eyes out as one character looked at her and said:
"You're not done.  You're unfinished.  You're a work in progress.  You don't know, because you're not done."
And I realized that I am also unfinished. Thirty isn't a deadline - it's just another day.  There is no maxxing out in life.  And if there was, I'm no where close to that point.  In this spirit I decided that rather than coast through this year feeling sorry for my old ass self, I'm going to actively make it one of the best years of my life.  I'm going to make a concerted effort to start doing all of the things that I've been saying for YEARS I would like to do.  Because it's not too late.  As an expert Listy McListerson I love the idea of a list, so I now unveil: The 30 for 30 - 30 things to do in the 30th year of my life!

1. Go somewhere warm and tropical - This is a new concept in my life because when I was growing up and living in a warm climate I never wanted to go to a beach.  I spent one spring break in a snowy Tahoe City.  But after spending 2.5 years in Minnesota, I totally get spring break now.  I'll be checking out Puerto Rico March 6-12 and it will be glorious!
2. Travel internationally - I've only left the country once, and it was nearly 15 years ago.  I have a shiny new passport and want to take it somewhere.  I am currently seeking a travel companion who would like to drink Newcastle in Newcastle, watch Rugby near Rugby, England and check out Wales and Scotland over Thanksgiving.  Or, I could be pursuaded to check out Greece/Italy, or even spend a few days in the south of France.  Just come with me.
3. Explore northern Minnesota - I have already started doing thanks to my friend Danielle, who invited me ice fishing on Mille Lacs, which up until that trip was the furthest north of the Twin Cities I'd ever been.  But then earlier this month I went up to Grand Marais and it was flippin' gorgeous.  Now that I've seen it in the winter, I can't wait to check it out in the summer/fall.
4. Visit friends more - I have friends in Vermont, Chicago, Dallas, San Francisco, St. Louis and Seattle that I have yet to visit.  I would like to get on that!

Health & Wellness
5. Give myself a monthly self breast exam - I'm old.  Time to get serious about my long term health.
6. Fix my bottom teeth - Because I never had a permanent retainer installed after I had braces, my bottom teeth have shifted and are now crooked.  Aside from it being a cosmetic thing that bothers me, lately they have been really hurting because I think they are moving again and everything is getting too crowded.  So back to the orthodontist we go...
7. Join a farm co-op this summer because I can't believe how much fresh produce I've missed out on.  I would also like to track down someone to sell me fresh eggs.
8. Average 10,000 steps a day - this is lofty, but I really would like to move more during the day.  I won a fancy new podometer from a giveaway at work and just wearing it makes me walk more during the day.

9. Take a snowboarding lesson - I need to do this soon.
10. Rockclimb again - I've been once this year after an 8 year hiatus. I need to make it more of a regular thing, especially since I currently suck.
11. Start horseback riding - Found a barn, need to call and get information - this is one that I am REALLY excited about.  Like so excited and emotional that I can't really talk about it all that much.
12. Alter/re-fashion the stack of clothes I've been holding onto for that purpose - I have all of these clothes that I would wear more if they were just more fitted here, or fit more like this, or whatever.  I have a sewing machine and the advice of several mormon bloggers (apparently they have the lock on refashion blogging) so let's do this.
13. Sew a garment from scratch - after honing my alteration skills, it seems like this is the next logical step.  What I would really like to learn to sew is tee shirt tunics to wear with my leggings.  They are the hardest thing ever to find in the right length in stores and a lot of time what I picture in my head doesn't exist anywhere.
14. Make a quilt.  I've been pinning quilts like crazy on Pinterest, and they were one of the first things I learned to sew when I was young, so I think it's time to do this seriously.  I would love to do a modern take on the tee shirt quilt and utilize all the sorority shirts that I am no longer wearing.
15. Go to AT LEAST 5 concerts in Minneapolis - True story: In the 2 years that I've lived in Minneapolis I have only been to ONE concert.  Technically it was a weekend festival and it was awesome, but I am missing the music in my life.  Last year I bought tickets to another festival that was cancelled.  Also, it was in Wisconsin.  So, moving on...Fleetwood Mac in April - who's with me?!  Also, I would love to attend a festival again this year and am currently scoping line ups.
16. Grow tomatoes on my balcony this summer.  Tomatoes are the one thing I NEVER buy in the grocery store anymore because they have terrible flavor.  Therefore, they are the one thing I wish I could grow myself and would like to try growing.

Money Matters
17. Thrift more often than not - this kind of goes along with all of the sewing/refashioning stuff and my love of recycling, but with all of the travel I am hoping to do this year, I have got to get my blind consumerism in check.  I almost wanted to really challenge myself and make this goal to not buy ANY "new" clothes this year, but that would be unrealistic. 
18. Spend no money on home decor items - you heard me.  My apartment is decorated enough, I don't need anything else and I am confident that if I want to change it up, I have enough craft supplies on hand to make what I have into something new.  The only exception will be frames, so I can continue to add to my gallery wall.  This extends to Christmas...NO NEW ORNAMENTS/DECOR this year...but fabric is probably a loophole.
19. Save creatively - trust me when I say that you can never save too much money.

Smart Stuff
20. Publish my dissertation - dear lord I'm way behind on this, but it needs to get done so I can totally be done with that time of my life.
21. Work a crossword puzzle every day - This is actually something that I started as more of a "resolution" this year.  I like to work them before I go to bed, and admittedly some nights I'm too tired to think...but I have done this way more days than not in 2013.
22. Read 5 classic works of literature - I did a pretty good job reading books last year, I would like to get back into that this year.  Ever since I saw Anna Karenina in December I've really wanted to re-read that masterpiece, so that's where I'm starting.  But I don't know what comes next - currently on my bookshelf I have Great Expectations, Atlas Shrugged, The Three Musketeers, and Lord of the Flies which have all been started in some capacity, but never finished.
23. Blog 2 times a week - There was a steep decline in the number of posts in 2012 compared to 2011.  Not because I don't enjoy posting anymore, but because I felt like things were just too boring to write about.  I think this year will be different.  I know this year will be different. 

The Abstract
24. Simplify - This year I did my spring cleaning in January...because I had to.  After packing up all of my Christmas decorations I had no where to put them because my storage closet was full.  I also went ahead and cleaned out my closet.  And I'm trying to slowly wean myself down to using less personal products.  Buying less and using more of what I've got is a definite theme on this list.
25. Say Yes More - People invite me to do a lot of things with them, and sometimes I feel like I say no more than I say yes because I desperately want to just put my leggings on and curl up on the couch with my dog.  Lately I've found that when I make myself say yes, I often have a much better time than I would have had laying on the couch.
26. Volunteer - This year I doubled my charitable contributions, but I know that just donating money is not enough.  I would like to start donating time to a local organization...something with kids would be the best.

27. Beat a game on the Wii - Because I never have.  Because I've been playing more often.  Because I would like to.
28. Learn Bridge - because I'm old now.  I kid, I kid.  But seriously, I flippin' love card games, and I think I could be really good at it.  I'm not sure how I'm going to learn, but where there's a will there's a way.  Maybe I should volunteer at an assisted living facility that has a bridge night...there's no rule against doubling up on list objectives.
29. Listen to music more than I watch TV - another lofty goal considering how much I love watching TV, but it would be nice to get to a place where I am working on more things at night and can have music playing in the background.  However this doesn't help my consumerism very much, because the more music I listen to, the more I want to buy.
30. Shoot a gun in a controlled, safe manner - I keep having this nightmare that someone is attacking me and threatening me with a gun and I wrestle it away from them but have no idea how to use I still end up dead.  Or raped.  It's a terrible nightmare.  Anyways, I will probably never own a gun myself, but I would like to know a thing or two about handling them safely.  Poopie should help me with this.

So there you go.  Some goals will expand my horizon.  Some will make me a better version of myself.  A lot will teach me things.  Some are a bit self indulgent.  But these are all things that I've been thinking about doing in some shape or form for a long time now, and well, I'm not getting any younger ;)

My dad told me on my birthday, "Your 30's are your best years" and I understand where he's coming from because a lot of great stuff happened to my dad in his 30's - like marrying my mom and having his first and only daughter who also happens to be the best daughter in the world.  He said that this is "prime time" and with my list in tow, I just might be inclined to agree with him.

Saturday, February 9, 2013

- Hot and Humid

Is what I wish the weather was like.  Today was a "warm" day - topping out at a windy 37.  Don't get excited.  We are staring down the barrel of 4-8 inches of snow tonight.  It's grey.  And I feel grey because it feels like it's been grey for so long now.

Which is why I booked a trip to Puerto Rico.  But I don't leave until March 6, so until then...I have to improvise.  I wouldn't even know how to do that without my new friend Danielle, who surprised a few of us a month ago with a Friday Fieldtrip.  We loaded up into her car with hot chocolates and drove off to an unknown location - the Como Conservatory.

I remember how the Conservatory was always my favorite room in Clue.  I didn't know why I was drawn to it, but now I do.  Everytime I think I have another favorite color, I realize that I don't love any of them as much as green.  It's a color that above all for me, represents life.  Lush, rich, healthy plant life, that is growing and thriving.
Koi pond.
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Beautiful orchids.
Sunken flower pond.
Mist on the water.  Light streaming in.

The Conservatory was a magical place that left me feeling warmed to my core, alive, and rejuvenated.  I can't wait to go back.