Thursday, March 26, 2015

It's Bunion Week!

So here I am, four days past surgery (is that right? let's was Monday morning...Tuesday, Wednesday, now we're on Thursday...does the surgery day count as a day? it should because it was at 6 o'clock in the freakin' morning) and it's time for an update. It's Bunion Week here at Latent Images, so buckle up! (Warning: there's cursing involved, which shouldn't surprise any of you who know me.)

My foot is encased, much of the time, in a clunky boot made of foam and metal and an obscene amount of velcro. It's heavy and bulky and has five straps and my toes stick out a wee bit. When the nurses jammed my foot into it after surgery Monday, they strapped it on too tight. The block wasn't close to wearing off and I was popping hydrocodone like candy. Then I talked to a nurse on the phone that afternoon and loosened the straps and experienced instant relief and my last hydrocodone was Tuesday night when I couldn't sleep. Then I told the boot to fuck off and took it off when I got into bed and now I sleep just fine. Well, mostly. Since I regularly get up to pee about 42 times each night, I've gotten wicked good at strapping on the boot in the dark and hobbling to the potty before pissing myself.

I made you this awesome graphic to show visually that the boot isn't all that bad, and probably doesn't deserve the moniker "fucking boot" and really all in all it's rainbows and unicorns, with a couple sides of bacon and a chicken thrown in for good measure. Because chickens are awesome.

But I'm skipping ahead. I should start at the beginning for those of my friends who said, "Ohmygosh I have terrible bunions but I'm afraid of surgery so I will wait and see how yours goes and then you can tell me all about it." If you don't want to hear all about it, stop reading. (I wouldn't blame you, because bunions.)

We were supposed to be at the surgery center at 5 a.m., and we were. Because that's how we roll, even when asked to do things at ungodly hours. Pretty sure we beat the doctor and most of the nurses. I had done the whole 10-minute scrubby thing with the disinfectant on my foot like the doc asked at 4:15 a.m. and so was in fine shape. A nurse checked me in (including making me stand on a scale and then announcing my weight out loud which was bar none the worst part of the whole day) and then I undressed and put on one of those sexy gowns that never close all the way in the back and climbed into a bed where I was covered, blissfully, in warm blankets. I would like to purchase a blanket warmer for my home. I was allowed to retain my underwear and one sock. This made me laugh. There was a swirl of nurses and doctors, including my doctor who made me laugh by cracking jokes and writing his initials on my foot and they stuck an IV in my hand and said, "We'll start the sedation soon." I was wheeled down a hall and into an operating room and they had me assist in transferring myself from the bed to a gurney and the last thing I remember is laying there thinking about how boring the ceiling was, and how all operating room ceilings are really bor...

I was vaguely aware of being told everything was over and helping transfer myself back into the bed and looking down to see my right foot wrapped in bright green gauze tape. I said, "Hey! Green is my favorite color! Does anyone have any bacon? I'm hungry, and bacon sounds really good right now." I think I asked for bacon multiple times. I never got it. (That was the second-worst part about the whole day. If you do this, either take bacon with you or, better yet, arrange to have it delivered right after your surgery.) I helped dress myself and then M was there again and I listened to him talk with the doctor without really paying much attention or caring. It kind of felt like they were talking about someone else. I heard post-op instructions and I asked again for bacon and I heard the doc say he did the scarf bunionectomy but not the episiotomy and I laughed and thought, "Wait, that's not right." Later I looked it up and figured out that he said he hadn't had to do the osteotomy, because my big toe straightened itself right out when he fixed the metatarsal. Cool. No pin in my foot to be removed in a week or two. Just a badass titanium screw that will stay there forever.

M drove me home, stopping on the way to drop off my pain pill script at the pharmacy, and dumped me into bed. Everything happened so quickly. I was back home and in bed by 8:30 a.m. I slept on and off for awhile, but that right foot really started hurting. It was the outside of the foot that hurt, not the inside where the surgery had taken place. I couldn't get comfortable so I stuck ice under my knee per the post-op instructions and popped a pain pill. Hours later, when I was ready for another one, I talked with the nurse. When the pain went away after unstrapping the boot (which I usually call the fucking boot but since this is a family-friendly blog I will refrain) I put the pain pill back in the bottle and that was that.

Tuesday was better, although I still couldn't figure out the straps on the boot. I felt like I always had them too loose or too tight, neither of which felt good. I was like Goldilocks with a surgical boot. It wasn't bad enough to warrant hydrocodone, but I stayed off my feet most of the day and kept the foot out of the boot, elevated, and iced. Walking in the boot, while not excruciating, was definitely uncomfortable and something to be avoided at all costs, meaning, until I was nearly ready to pee all over myself. Tuesday afternoon the block finally wore off all the way. This wasn't good or bad...just interesting. I could finally feel my toes again. The worst part about Tuesday was that I had been stupid enough to schedule our annual termite inspection. So, the day after surgery, I had to get up relatively early and make myself presentable and alert enough to let the termite man in. I don't recommend this, especially if your termite man talks as much as my termite man. I posted a short list of some of the topics he covered on Facebook, but some of you aren't on Facebook so I'll repeat them here. It's worth reading twice if you've already seen it, because you can truly imagine my pain in not being able to get away from this man due to foot surgery. Also, I remember more now and so have included some additional notes.

I got lectured on how we, as Americans, abuse health insurance and that's why we don't have a cure for cancer yet. I was told I should have paid out of pocket for my foot surgery. [Note: he has no idea how I paid for my foot surgery.] I know that his friend Darla had two knee replacements a few years ago but didn't do her PT and now she needs foot surgery because of that. I know that Darla is an old family friend of his wife, Meghan, who is also a PT, and that Darla's son is like a surrogate little brother to them and so the termite man is the one who had "the sex talk" with him. [Additional info not included on Facebook: Darla started dating Meghan's dad after Meghan's mom died and they were going to get married but then Meghan's dad died too and so they didn't but Meghan and the termite man keep in touch with Darla and, apparently, show no mercy for this woman who didn't do her PT and therefore earned her shitty foot problems, which Darla's son and his girlfriend agree with wholeheartedly, so the lady gets no sympathy from anyone.] I got schooled on where we should buy blinds and replacement water heaters. I know that he just shelled out $750 on a new water heater yesterday and that's why he doesn't have new blinds yet. [Additional info: use for blinds and Handyman Hardware for water heaters and check your municipality because not all of them require the back-up tank on top of the big tank and that's how he saved money because he lives in Florissant and they don't require it there and many vendors won't even check and it's not like they're trying to screw you they just don't know and also if you drain your water heater once a year - using a hose - you can double the life of your water heater tank because draining it gets the silt out that destroys the glass liner but you better remember to use the hose because if you don't you will flood your basement and you wouldn't believe the number of stupid people who pull that plug without having a hose and then wonder why their basement carpet is all wet.] I also know that Meghan poops in three minutes or less and that it smells awful, but he (and every man he knows) takes 15-20 minutes but doesn't leave the paint peeling from the walls. [There was also something about his uncle who worked for Boeing who was a total engineer straightlaced type who didn't have a sense of humor but when he retired he brought home a plaque that is installed in airliners reminding pilots not to dump blue water while in flight and so he hung that in his bathroom to get his wife to stop asking him why he's taking so long in there even though she's simply expressing real concern for his well-being.]

Those are just the highlights. There was a lot more but I think I blacked out for part of it. I honestly have no clue how on earth we got on the subject of his family's defecation habits. I certainly didn't go there. At this point, I determined that this was indeed the worst part of bunion surgery - worse even than having my weight said aloud and having to suffer through a baconless post-op - and contemplated taking off my ungainly boot and beating him about the head and shoulders with it.

Yesterday, Wednesday, an epiphany. I somehow managed to get the boot straps juuuust right, and the first thing I did was hobble over to the junk drawer and pull out Zoe's pink and sparkly Valentine's Day pencil and mark the straps. I made lines. Then I drew arrows. No way do I want to go through that process again. I had a cup of regular coffee and felt like I had a jetback strapped to my back for the first time in days. I took care of the cats and the guinea pig (apparently everyone has been thrown off by this whole surgery thing and the pets were simply not on the radar to be fed/watered, and the litter box reeked to high heaven). I straightened up my office and put a bunch of prints in frames we purchased last weekend and got a ton of work work done and scrubbed out the kitchen sink and cleaned up my own lunch. This doesn't sound like much, but it was huge to me. My ass was off the couch, and this was a good thing.

One of my friends brought over chicken enchiladas and rice and a salad and dessert, which was awesome. My MIL brought over turkey breast and mashed potatoes and green beans and a salad, which was also awesome. Seriously, when people show up at your house with good food it's incredible. If you're going to have bunion surgery I highly recommend you demand ask people who love you to make you delicious food and deliver it to your home. When people offer, by all means say yes. In fact, the whole food delivery thing is a pretty good reason in and of itself to get bunion surgery.

I go back to the doctor on Monday for my first follow-up, where he will unwrap my new foot for the first time since surgery. I plan to film this momentous occasion and submit it to the Today Show for one of their big reveal make-over segments. Normally they pluck a granny off the street and make her look 20 years younger - kapow! - with hair dye and new glasses and threads. I think my new foot will be much more exciting and not gross at all even though it's been wrapped up tight for days and I'm not allowed to wash it.

In the meantime, I have been contemplating lots and lots on many various subjects that I was going to write about here, but this post is already too long and I should wrap it up. And I should stick to one topic, which is bunion surgery (mainly because that's about as exciting a topic as one can write about and that shouldn't be diluted with other garbage like suicidal/homicidal airline pilots and shitty apps that change the words of authors and the discovery of a feminist author who blows me away).

All in all, I'd say so far this whole thing hasn't been too bad. Being confined to the house isn't so awful, although I learned that my cats are assholes even during the day when we're normally gone and even though I can't run out to the store and pick up more body wash for Zoe which results in M giving her his body wash (Dove Men's Care) and so now my daughter smells like my husband, which is freaky. Eh, she seems happy.

I'm sure I will have more updates later, especially after the big reveal on Monday. So far, so good.

Saturday, March 21, 2015

Bits and pieces that don't add up to squat

I haven't been writing much anywhere lately. Too busy having fun and getting ready for surgery. I've been reading a lot, though, which is also good for the brain, and jotting notes down for the story I'm working on and the one I want to write next.

We went to Cincy for the first part of spring break, and it did not disappoint. We laughed until our bellies ached, and got to see where three cousins work. We hung out and caught up. Ate too much good food. Way too much good food. The first night back we ate a regular meal and as we relaxed later I thought how pleasant it was to not feel as though I were going to explode.

Man, I am not feeling it today. The writing thing. I'm sitting here staring at a blinking cursor thinking, "I know I can be witty. I can bring the laughs. Really, I can." But it's just not happening today.

I think I am feeling too content. It's a gorgeous day and I have the windows cranked open on the house I adore. I am sitting in my newly-organized (and re-arranged) office with a cat on my lap. It's all set for me to work from home next week. M has taken Zoe and her friend to a soccer game. The tax stuff is almost all pulled together and all that's left is to make the appointment with our tax lady. I just made the final payment on the Corvette (which alone makes me want to bust open a bottle of bubbly and drink myself silly). M and I spent some good time together this morning before picking Zoe up from her sleepover. It's amazing how much fun just grabbing a coffee, going shopping, and hanging prints in his office can be. I just like being with the guy is all.

Still, I need to write. I need to get back into the habit of writing daily. I'm hoping my recovery week will also serve as a recovery to my creativity. Get up, get Zoe out the door, make some coffee, write, work, write, work.

I found some new writers on Twitter. One guy especially blows me away. His blog posts always result in my laughing uncontrollably. I read him, and I read The Bloggess, and the way their minds think just slays me. I'm new on the Twitter, and still figuring out how to use it. I'm finding a whole treasure chest of material there, though. Stuff that makes me laugh and makes me think. I've also learned that whomever handles social media for Jimmy Fallon has a serious caffeine or cocaine issue because that person updates the Fallon Twitter feed about every 2.5 seconds and I just can't handle it. However, I realized in this little endeavor that I can handle only two social media accounts at any one time. With the addition of Twitter, Instagram has fallen off. I haven't been photographing much lately, so that's part of it. Part of it, though, is that my brain can handle only so many inputs at one time. I think three social media platforms may just send it over the edge and into oblivion. Someone just told me that Instagram is the new Twitter (how that can be since Instagram is several years old is beyond me) so I shouldn't get too far away from it. When I think about it too much, I start to feel like the grumpy old man who yells at kids to get off his lawn.

I pulled out all my unframed posters this week and jotted down their dimensions. I'm on a mission to pick up some cheap black frames and get them hung in my office. We went round the house a couple weekends ago and hung lots of pictures, but got burnt out by the time we made it back to the project rooms. I also found a wooden sign when I was in Colorado and brought that back to hang in my office. It says, "SWEARING...because sometimes 'gosh darn' and 'meanie-head' just don't f%*@ing cut it." Anyone who knows me knows this sign was made just for me. M says I can't put it out until Zoe is older. I say she gets it already, since one of her favorite jokes is to say, "My favorite word starts with an F and ends with a K" and then after watching the adult's eyes bug out, "Firetruck!" And then she smiles sweetly and I know that she is indeed my daughter.

While we were getting coffee this morning we ran into a friend from the parish. She got her bag of pastries and walked over to our table to let me know that she had bunion surgery ten years ago, and that my podiatrist was her podiatrist. She said her surgery went wonderfully and her feet are now perfect and reaffirmed that I am doing the best thing. We also found out at the fish fry Friday that another parishioner friend of ours will be my anesthesiologist. These things are all adding up to make me feel better about this whole thing, when I have huge reservations about the cutting of bone and titanium screws and other stuff that makes me want to vomit. I don't know how many more signs God can send me that this is the right thing to do, so I should just give in to it and stop worrying. The most surprising thing is how many friends came out of the woodwork on Facebook at the mention of bunions. I have friends who have said, "Oh yes, get the surgery. I had mine done and it was awesome!" and I have friends who say, "I have horrible bunions but am nervous about getting them done. Report back to me about it." It seems I am far from being alone with my old lady foot issues. Sweet. I just might have to Storify this whole process. That's a whole 'nother social media thing, so no, I probably won't. But it's a nice thought to have. Besides, I'd have to think of a catchy hashtag. #bunions2015 is probably already taken, because it's so sexy.

Okay, I've rambled for far too long now. I think it's time to get something productive done. Whatever that means.

Wednesday, March 04, 2015

A crisis of faith, or maybe just a crisis of idiocy

Every once in awhile shitty things happen (well, shitty things are done by shitty people, they don't just happen...okay sometimes they just happen but yesterday was not an "accident with no culpability" day but a "people can be boneheads" kind of day) and it affects my faith life. I have to remind myself to not get God all wrapped up in what fallible, imperfect people here on earth do or say. When The Church infuriates me, I have to remind myself that The Church isn't God. As much as it likes to pretend it is.

But my interior faith life is so wrapped up in The Church that sometimes it's difficult to remember this. I go to Mass at my church and at my place of employment. I look to my pastor for guidance, and also to the monks at the office (the monks also give me a paycheck, which is like a fringe benefit most of the time given how much they've given me in the way of things less temporal). I find solace in these physical places of sanctuary and worship.

So when men in positions of authority say things that are infuriating, my first instinct (besides filling with rage and crying in frustration) is to say, "Okay, God. F*ck it. I'm outta here." Which is wrong because God didn't do anything wrong, did She?

Yesterday I had one holy man tell me that women really are causing the vocations crisis in the church (because women are insisting on involving themselves in the liturgy and are treating men like they think men treat men and so men don't feel welcome in the Church anymore...which is so convoluted and narrow and based on maybe one experience that I can't believe a brush is made that broad with which to paint half the damn population) and another holy man tell me that three caring, faithful women coming to discuss a thorny issue made him feel "ganged up on," because we with our colorful scarves and our overstuffed handbags and our concern about our children's futures were so damn threatening.

I call bullshit on both of those statements.

Last night I was ready to walk away. It was not a good day for Amy and Catholicism. I cried to M, "I chose this church, and now my church is abandoning me."

Today I am calmer about this. Thinking about all the truly wonderful people in the Church who don't spew judgment and hate and misinformation helps. Talking with my Catholic friends who are equally appalled by my experiences helps. And remembering that God can't help what Her inperfect, weak creations do and say helps. It's times like these that I need to rely on God, not run away. It's hard to do because of the influence The Church wields in so many aspects of our family's faith, but it's possible. In fact, it's times like these that make it necessary.

I've been told that when people upset me it helps to pray for them. I think what that means is to pray for their health and well-being and such, not "Dear God, please make those people stop being idiots." Sometimes I have to pray the latter just to get through to former, though. So that's my prayer today. "Please, dear God, please make those people stop being idiots. It would make the rest our lives so much easier." Tomorrow I'll pray for their health and well-being.

Sunday, March 01, 2015

I am writing, really.

Sorry for being gone so long but I have actually been writing just not here...blah blah blah.

I am writing. Really. I'm nearly half-way finished with a novel. A book for kids. A book for my kid, to be specific. I'm being selfish and writing a book for her, one that I think she and her friends would enjoy. I have the whole thing mapped out in my head, but I'll be damned if it takes f*cking forever to get the words down on the page. Writing, it turns out, is hard.

I've been hanging out on different writing sites and following writing pages on Facebook and the tweets of favorite authors and cool trends like #mswl which agents use to share what they're looking for right now. That one blew me away, because I started writing this book while simultaneously wondering if anyone would at all be interested in it. And it turns out that there are least a dozen agents who are looking for exactly what I am writing. Huh. So, in their words, I am writing this: a middle grade novel with a strong female protagonist who excels in a STEM field. Boom. Also, my book has the President of the United States, and she's a GIRL.

I won't say any more about it because it might actually suck and no one would ever pick it up and it will languish in a computer file until I die and someone (probably my kid) finally clears my Dropbox account and then it will go into oblivion.

But at least I am writing something.

Anyway, before I started writing the book I was hanging out on the writing sites and pages and Twitter feeds and reading about how important it is for a writer to have a community because writing is hard (see above) and lonely. When I'm writing, it's just me and the blank page. I can't have anyone around because it's too distracting. Which, you know, makes it hard for a working mother and wife and daughter and etc. to find time to actually write. Which is another common complaint among writers.

I'm also reading a variety of books about writing. They are insightful and encouraging and give good tips to motivate yourself to write. Because sometimes, even though you long for quiet time to write, when that quiet time presents itself the last thing you want to do is want to nap. Anyway, all of these books have paragraphs, some even whole chapters, on how to overcome opposition from loved ones and friends to your writing.

I am baffled by this. It appears that many, many writers have to deal with people who don't want them to write. I am fortunate in that I have not experienced this in the slightest. In fact, my experience has been nothing short of wonderful. My husband and my daughter both encourage me to write. (We did have a little scuffle regarding interruptions that involved my asking - nay, demanding - to convert M's storage shed into a cute little writer's shed and him saying where will I go with all my stuff and me saying you have plenty of room elsewhere and you're giving up Christmas anyway so sell everything and put in a hardwood floor and insulation and curtains and a desk and a comfy chair and him saying but we built you an office why can't you write in there and me saying because you two find me in there and ask me where are your keys and shoes and Chapstick and sunglasses and Hootie and dinner and the like and I can't write when that is happening and he said okay we'll just not interrupt you when you're in your office and they haven't and so I no longer demand a writing shed even though it'd be really cool to have.)

My parents (all six of them) said things like "How wonderful!" and "You deserve it!" and "I'm not surprised; you've always been a good writer!" when I won the St. Louis Writers Guild short story contest. They call came to my reading, too, so I had my own little fan club and virtually tripled the attendance just by having them there.

And my friends. I have no earthly idea how I amassed such an amazing group of people around me. I'm not paying them, really. Well, not overtly. I did give some of them homemade peanut brittle around the holidays. Two of my friends send me text messages that tell me how awesome I am on a regular basis, and they include enough f-bombs to make even me blush. My Colorado girls surprised me on the second night of our girls weekend with a champagne toast, celebrating my first literary win. I was moved to tears, and laughter upon discovering that one of them lost the wire cage that tops the cork in the toilet of the bathroom where she was trying to open the bottle secretly so they could be all "CHEERS!" before I even knew what was happening. One of the moms in Zoe's class has insisted on arranging a little happy hour with our closest friends to celebrate the short story contest, in between gushing about how incredible she thinks it is that I am a writer and that I've been recognized and that we're just like the girls in Sex and the City and when I sell my book and they make a movie about it she's going to California with me to meet with Matthew McConaughy.

So this writing thing...yeah. I'm totally loving it. It's hard, hard work, but it makes me so happy.

Also, I cut off all my hair this weekend. This makes me so happy, too. Less time styling my hair = more time writing.