I’m doing this again

WELL HI, everyone. I am finally finding the time to update my very-neglected blog.

I’ve been wanting to come back and I figured this was a good time. It’s almost a new year, I’m at a new place in my life, I have several goals that I’m about to attempt to achieve, and it’s just been too long since I’ve posted on here regularly – might as well not drag my hiatus out.

Some updates:

I’m not a college student anymore. I graduated Dec. 14 with my bachelors degree in journalism!!
Surely this happens to most recent grads, but I don’t think it has really HIT me yet that I’m done. Sometimes I’ll sit down to read a book, or browse the internet, or take a nap, and I’ll wonder to myself if there’s homework I could be doing – a textbook I could be reading, paper I could be writing, test/quiz I could be studying for.
And then I remember – Oh yeah! I’m finished with all that!

I’m not in the greatest health. On Christmas day I was talking on the phone with my dad (yes…another Christmas without the family *sniff*) and telling him about the dinner I was planning on eating. I mentioned stuffing (obvs) and my dad said, “Wait a minute- Aren’t you eating paleo?”
I said, “HAH- good one dad. I haven’t eaten paleo in MONTHS.”
It’s true. Since mid-October-ish I have been eating whatever I want and not exercising. For many reasons, but mostly because my top priority was doing well in my class so I could graduate. Oh, and I started a new, full-time job at the end of October while I still had my part-time internship.
So basically, my life was all about 1) school, 2) my two jobs, 3) finding time to sleep when possible, 4) trying not to completely disappear on family and friends and 5) trying to keep my sanity.
Now that I’ve graduated, I finally have the time and energy to work out and go grocery shopping for meals, cook, etc.

Last week, I got the flu. Please, do EVERYTHING within your power to not get the flu. It absolutely sucks. Personally, I am regretting not getting a flu shot. I would recommend getting one. … I know vaccines are a controversial subject in many circles, so if vaccines aren’t your thing then do some other type of preventative care. Or heck … do both. I wish I had.

I feel like if I had been taking care of myself and my health better, than *maybe* my immune system would have been stronger and I wouldn’t have gotten the flu. I don’t know, but it was kind of a wake-up call for me. Now I’m trying to be proactive about my health by doing the following:

  • I used to have an obsession with CrossFit, but after my snake bite and moving to a new town I stopped going to “the box,” as CrossFitters call CrossFit gyms. I FINALLY went back this morning and it was pretty brutal – the WOD (Workout of the Day) consisted of teaming up with a partner and doing Fran (21-15-9 of thrusters and pull-ups), Grace (30 clean & jerks) and Karen (150 wall-balls) – teams split up the reps among themselves.
    I felt bad for my partner because this clearly wasn’t her first rodeo (e.g., she was ripped). I gave her fair warning that I was in pretty bad shape and she’d have to put up with me lagging behind (HAH). Thankfully, she was gracious about it and picked up my slack – I did maybe 1/4-1/3 of the work and she did the rest. We were able to finish the whole thing in 25-ish minutes.
    Although the WOD was so difficult, I’m excited about getting back into CrossFit. I could tell that I have lost much of my strength, and I’m ready to get it back.
  • I’m tracking my food and workouts at SparkPeople.com.
  • I am trying to eat paleo (I’m super cereal this time…).

So, I’m doing this again … Going to give another shot at blogging regularly, and at giving a sh*t about my health.

Looking out for #1

There’s a message that is so important that I feel compelled to share with people today: love yourself. It seems simple enough, right?

I can’t believe how many times I have to learn and re-learn to take care of myself, put myself first and love myself. Somewhere along the way I developed the habit of almost always putting others before me. Putting others first can often be a loving thing to do. However…

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Don’t put others before yourself so much that you put yourself last when it comes to everything.

Someone recently described it to me this way: During the safety guideline instructions on a plane, you are told that in a situation where oxygen masks are required to put the mask on yourself before helping someone else put theirs on.

It’s like that.

I’ve been trying to apply this principle to my life more often.

If someone had a problem with me, I would stress and stress about it, trying to think about what I did wrong and what I should change. It’s good to be aware of how your actions affect other people. But you know what? Sometimes the way people treat you is because of them, not you.

I was in this exact situation recently. I realized that this person being rude to me wasn’t my fault – they were (are) just a jerk. I don’t need to change a thing. When I realized this, it was so freeing.

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Everyone can benefit from these things:

  • Realize that it’s OK to be a little more self-motivated.
  • Give yourself the benefit of the doubt.
  • Love yourself.

Bye-senberg

***WARNING, BREAKING BAD SPOILERS AHEAD***

If you have any sort of awareness of current pop culture, then you know that there is this really popular show called Breaking Bad. And you probably know that the series finale – the very last Breaking Bad episode EVER – aired on Sunday.

Daniel and I went to the Granada Theater where we attended a Breaking Bad finale watch party.

photo (5)edit

The Granada is an AWESOME venue and I could probably write a whole post about why I love it. If you are ever in the Dallas area, put it on your to-do list.

Anyway, we got to the theater around 4:45ish. The doors opened at 5 and there was already a long line by the time we got there. I’m glad we arrived as early as we did, because later in the evening the theater reached capacity and people were being turned away.

The theater passed out blue rock candy in little plastic baggies, meant to look like Walt’s signature “blue sky” crystal :-P There was also a signature cocktail for the night, a “blue ice” cocktail. Obvs we had to try both.

There were also several people dressed up as Breaking Bad characters for the occasion, which you can see here. The best costume BY FAR was the guy dressed up like Hector Salamanca – he, of course, had the bell.

The venue was great. The atmosphere was great. The show itself was … everything TV should be.

I was not expecting it to have this effect on me, but at the end of the episode when Walt walks into the meth lab and is looking at all the equipment fondly, I began to tear up. And when this happened…

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…I absolutely lost it. I was shamelessly bawling.

It’s amazing how much of an impact Breaking Bad has had. It is now the second-highest rated TV series on IMDB (right behind “Planet Earth”). The finale had a record 10.3 million viewers. I have even heard heartfelt stories about the show affecting people’s lives on a personal level.

Breaking Bad has set a really, really high standard for the future of television shows. I don’t know if any other show is going to be able to surpass, let alone MEET this standard, but I’m actually OK with that.

I’m glad I got to watch the last couple seasons of Breaking Bad as they aired. I’m glad I got to be a fan of the show while it was at its zenith. (I don’t like how I just wrote about the show in past tense…)

Now … I think I’m going to be needing this.

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HI EVERYBODY!

I have not touched this blog in months, and I miss it. I don’t even know who all reads it, or if that many people do; but when I was posting regularly, even the littlest feedback I received made me feel great.

I love writing. Right now I’m interning at a newspaper, and I mostly write about crime. It’s nice to be writing and getting paid for it, but I’d like a place where I can write about something other than bomb threats, rapes and stabbings…

I really wanted to post on here, but I didn’t know what I’d say. I finally figured I could just post about how much I’ve been wanting to write on here again.

So here it is. HI EVERYBODY!

Staying fit with a lower-body injury

Look at Marilyn Monroe rockin those crutches!

If you know me in person or if you have read this blog before, you know that I am really into fitness. About a year ago I tried CrossFit, and after my first couple visits to the “box” I was absolutely hooked. For the past year I have been going more or less consistently and my strength and stamina have vastly improved. Also, Daniel has made a personal goal to become a better runner. He is currently training for a 15k and has goals of running a half-marathon, and eventually a marathon! I decided to make becoming a better runner a goal for myself too.

At the end of the spring semester, particularly during finals week, my lifestyle was anything but healthy. I didn’t work out because I spent all my time studying or working on projects. I ate whatever I wanted to and downed copious amounts of energy drinks. I got very little sleep. My stress levels were through the roof.

Bottom line: it was bad. Very, very bad. I was able to do some good things for my GPA, but I wish I could have used a better method.

I finished the semester just feeling BAD all around, so I vowed that this summer I would not let fitness fall through the cracks!

For the first part of the summer, I was doing an OK job at this. I went to CrossFit regularly and started adding in some running to my exercise regime. Daniel and I ran a 5k together at the beginning of June (it was a zombie-themed obstacle race called Run for your Lives. I would HIGHLY recommend it!).

As far as eating went, I was doing probably 60/40 healthy/not-so-healthy. Overall, I didn’t necessarily fail at trying to be healthier, but I wasn’t exactly giving it my all, either. My attitude was always “Meh, I’m tired today. I’ll work out tomorrow.” Or, “I’ll go ahead and eat like crap today, I can always eat better tomorrow.”

And then, my snake bite happened. My foot and leg painfully swelled up and stayed like that for days. And suddenly I couldn’t work out tomorrow. In fact, I didn’t know when it would be when I could work out again.

After trying to go back to “normal” life with my snake bite, there were a few days when I was so depressed that all I wanted to do was stay in bed all day. My pain medication made me sleepy, so that’s basically what I did. Then, for a couple weeks it was incredibly painful to try to move around – my main method was crutches or a wheelchair – so I just sat on either the couch or my bed all day.

About a week ago I regained mobility and started walking again. My foot still hurts and doesn’t feel the same yet, but I am SO much more independent than I was. It was at that point that I realized I need to start working out again. My snake bite is not inhibiting me from moving anymore, so I really have no reason not to try to be active again.

While I am walking again, my foot is still a bit swollen and will hurt if I am on it for too long. So I decided that high-intensity, full-body workouts – like CrossFit, aerobics and running – were out of the question. What could I do?

I realized that upper-body workouts would totally be doable. A friend at my CrossFit box suggested I do pilates. It’s not a high-intensity exercise method, but it is still very effective. I decided this would be the perfect way to work out in my condition.

To do pilates, I used a website that I haven’t used in a few years … Blogilates, the blog of fitness instructor Cassey Ho. The website has dozens of pilates videos of varying lengths, and for working out all parts of the body. Oh yeah … all of it is also completely FREE. So far, I have done the Victoria’s Secret Angel Arms Slimming Workout, the Never Ever Getting Back Together Workout, the Abs on Fire Workout and the Victoria’s Secret Model Ab Workout.

The Blogilates motto!

Before doing these videos, I was under the impression that pilates would be easy, especially compared to CrossFit. Well, I learned that I definitely underestimated pilates!! It might be because I haven’t been working out for about a month, but these videos are a real CHALLENGE. I have not been able to finish a single one without stopping it a couple times to catch my breath and drink some water! But although the videos really kick my butt, I feel awesome afterwards. I may have lost some of my strength, but it feels amazing to be able to work out after being immobilized for so long.

I would definitely recommend Blogilates to anyone because the workouts are great and the website has a lot of cool features and resources. Cassey is also a good instructor – however she is perky. Really, REALLY perky – and happy, and bubbly, energetic, etc. I don’t think I could do one of her videos in the morning when I’m still groggy … that perkiness would just get on my nerves :-P

WHO SMILES WHILE DOING LUNGES?!

Besides pilates, I am trying to start walking for exercise. Back in May I signed up for a 5k that is this Sunday. Well, on Thursday my doctor cleared me to walk the 5k if I want to!! So I definitely will :D If I am able to walk the whole 3.2 miles, I will be so proud of myself.

Being immobile and unable to do the things I used to, albeit temporarily, has made me realized a few things. I look back at the end of May and beginning of June, pre-snake bite, when I kept putting off working out. I was COMPLETELY able-bodied, but just got lazy and didn’t do it. I was able, but not willing.

For a while, when I could only get around via crutches or a wheelchair, I wanted so badly for things to go back to normal so I could exercise again. I wanted so badly to be able to just sign up for CrossFit and sweat through the WOD like I used to be able to. I was willing, but not able.

I am still not completely able to work out vigorously, but I have decided that what I am able to do, I will do. I don’t want to take for granted the things I can do. If I can work out my arms, if I can work out my abs, if I can take a walk around the block … I SHOULD!

Not to get all dramatic, but what if I get into a car accident and become a quadriplegic? I would lament the days that I didn’t use my body to its fullest potential. I would be mad that I slept in so many times instead of going to CrossFit when I had no reason, other than laziness, to do so.

See? Try to use every crappy situation you experience to better yourself :)

And now, I want to do some pilates … I think today will be an arms day.

I was bitten by a snake – Part II

Here is part II of my snake bite story. Part I can be found here.

After the ER staff learned that I had a snake bite, I was swiftly taken into the first examination room. Two nurses promptly began examining my foot. They made two sets of pen marks on my foot and ankle, and measured the circumference where the marks were. They asked me for the first time to rate my pain, using this scale that turned out to be posted in every room:

Just FYI, I felt and looked like #10.

I took this picture of my feet in the examination room. This was about 30 minutes after the bite. My foot was already very red and starting to swell.

The nurses asked me some standard health history questions and gave me a hospital bracelet. In the middle of telling my health history, I heard a knock on the window of the examination room. I turned around and saw that it was Daniel. We let him in and I was SO glad that he was there. His presence helped me calm down some.

I was then put into a wheelchair and taken into a back examination room. Again, I was so scared that all of these events seem like a blur. At this point, I was still unsure of what kind of snake had bitten me and whether or not it was venomous.

I took this picture shortly after getting into the second room. This was about one hour after the bite, and it was slowly getting more swollen.

Soon after getting to the room and settling into the hospital bed, a doctor came back and began examining my foot and asking me questions. The doctor, Dr. Nguyen, was AWESOME – he helped me calm down and feel reassured. Dr. Nguyen said he would keep me there for a couple hours to watch the swelling and see if I experienced any other effects from the bite; this would help to determine if the snake that bit me was venomous. He wanted to see how bad my reaction was before deciding whether or not to give me anti-venom.

In the meantime, Dr. Nguyen decided, they would try to get me comfortable by giving me some pain killers (morphine – HELL yeah!) and anti-inflammatory medication. He also wanted to take some blood samples. Snake venom can affect the ability of blood to clot so they wanted to ensure I wasn’t having any problems with that. They also wanted to check my kidney and liver function through the blood work.

Once enough blood was drawn, the IV was set up to start giving me drugs. I was given some anti-nausea medicine (nausea can be a side-effect of morphine), morphine and an anti-inflammatory med. The effects of the meds kicked in almost immediately, and I was able to relax the most that I had since the bite occurred. From that point on, I pretty much relaxed while my foot, ankle and leg puffed up like a balloon. Dr. Nguyen and the nurses came in periodically to check on my swelling and ask me to rate my pain.

Soon, my foot was very swollen and so was my shin and calf, and my foot and lower leg were painful to the touch. After seeing the progression of the swelling, Dr. Nguyen told me he believed it was a copperhead snake that bit me. He said that copperheads are the most common venomous snakes in this area, and my bite was consistent with other copperhead bites he had treated.

I was shocked. I never got a very good look at the snake, but (as I mentioned in the first post) I for some reason thought it had been a small, green snake. At this point I realized how incredibly inaccurate my memory was.

Dr. Nguyen then said he did not want to give me any anti-venom. Whenever I tell this story to people, many are often perplexed that I was never given anti-venom. Well, here was Dr. Nguyen’s reasoning:

  • The swelling was getting pretty bad, but I was not experiencing any necrosis (here is a picture of what necrosis looks like – don’t click the link if you’re squeamish!).
  • I was bitten by a copperhead which has the least aggressive venom of the venomous snakes in this area. Had I been bitten by a rattlesnake or a cottonmouth, I probably would have been given the anti-venom.
  • Anti-venom is extremely expensive. It runs $3,000-$4,000 per vial, and Dr. Nguyen said I would probably need several vials.
  • While anti-venom makes the swelling go down and greatly speeds up recovery time, it usually makes people very sick as a side effect (kind of like what chemotherapy and other cancer drugs do to cancer patients).

Considering all of these factors, we agreed that I could go without the anti-venom. Dr. Nguyen said he would keep giving me some anti-inflammatory and pain meds and keep an eye on my swelling. Everything was going fine, and around 12:15 am-ish Dr. Nguyen said he would go ahead and release me.

WELL, I ended up having to stay in the ER for another six hours. I’ll explain why in the next installment.

I was bitten by a snake – Part I

On June 20th, I was bitten by one of these:

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A lot, it seems, has happened since then. I’m finished with my summer class, my new job doesn’t start until the 16th and I’m still immobilized. I have a lot of free time, little to do and little that I’m able to do, so I might as well write about what happened.

June 20th – One week after my 22nd birthday. My mom, who had driven up from Round Rock to Denton, had spent the day helping my grandmother at a rehab facility in Corinth. That evening she and I went to Wal Mart and then were going to get something to eat on The Square in downtown Denton. We left Wal Mart and went to my grandmother’s condo, where my mom was staying, to drop off some stuff. By this time it was around 10 pm.

I left the condo and was walking on the sidewalk to get to the parking lot. I was about halfway there when the snake bit me.

On the right side of my right foot, I felt a sharp, searing pain. At first, I thought maybe I had stepped on something sharp – like some nails or thumbtacks on the ground. But after the initial bite, the pain intensified. The best way I can think to describe it is a stinging and burning.

This whole sequence of events is a blur, so I don’t remember what happened very well. At that point I think I screamed and looked down. It was dark and the area was poorly-lit, so I couldn’t see very well whatever it was that I stepped on. I did however see something on the ground moving, and somehow it occurred to me that it must have been a snake that bit me.

My mom, who was several feet behind me, immediately became worried and asked me what happened. I think we had an exchange that went something like this:

Me: “There’s a snake!”

Mom: Did it bite you?”

Me: “Yeah!”

I remember my mom asking “Did it bite you?” but I don’t remember what I said to prompt her saying this.

Mom: ‘OH MY GOD GET IN THE CAR WE’RE GOING TO THE ER!”

We both ran to the car, and once my mom buckled herself in she practically floored the gas pedal to get me to the hospital. I asked my mom to slow down her driving because I didn’t want us to get in a wreck on the way there.

At this point I was trying really hard to just keep calm. The pain had spread from the bite and my entire foot was throbbing with a stinging sensation. I looked down to where I had felt my skin punctured, and sure enough there were two fang marks.

The fang marks.

My mom asked me what the snake that bit me looked like. I had only looked down for a second and there was barely any lighting, but for some reason I had the image in my head that the snake was small and green. I learned later that this could not have been right – most small, green snakes in the North Texas area are garden snakes, which are not venomous. Bites from non-venomous snakes are not nearly as painful, and the pain does not last as long as bites from venomous snakes.

I realized that I only saw the snake for one second and couldn’t be sure my memory was accurate – so I started worrying about the kind of snake that bit me. Anxious thoughts flooded my head – Would I die? (with the amount of pain I was in, this seemed like a valid concern) Would my foot or leg be amputated? What if I passed out on the way to the ER? I feared going unconscious and not knowing what was happening to me.

I called Daniel and let him know what was going on. Although I tried to keep myself together, I started crying as I explained to him what happened. I was really scared about the potential damage that the bite could do, and by this point my pain was off the charts. Daniel tried to calm me down and told me he would meet my mom and I at the ER.

In about 15 minutes (around 10:20 pm or so), we made it to Texas Health Presbyterian Hospital. It calmed me down to make it there, but I became a bit worried when I saw the packed waiting room. I limped over to a chair and waited while my mom spoke with the receptionist. My mom asked if I could have an ice pack for my foot while I waited to be seen. When the receptionist learned that I had a snake bite, I was immediately taken into the examination room. (thus, I learned that snake bites, along with chest pain, gun shot wounds and a few other ailments will get you automatic access to the ER).

I will continue the story in another installment. Next, I’ll write about my crazy first night at the ER.