Family, Food, Thoughts

Second Whole30

This Whole30 has been completely different than my last one.

Last time, in March 2015, I don’t remember complaining about it at all, I don’t remember being extra hungry, and I don’t remember having cravings. I talked it up so much to everyone I know, sharing how I was satisfied without all my snacking, how I had lost 9 pounds, and how it was a great reset for my body. Even though I didn’t end up having any HUGE health changes, I basically just confirmed that I don’t have any food intolerances. I didn’t notice a change in energy levels, skin clarity, sleep, or anything else. Going into the Whole30, I didn’t particularly have any issues in any of these areas either. I just thought it would be neat to try it, and I love giving myself challenges.

Fast forward to October 2016. I convince my roommate to do the Whole30 with me, and we start it with no problems at all. Then, the whole slicing my foot open thing happens. My coworkers at school SO generously started a food sign-up sheet where they provided meals for us after my surgery. This was amazingly thoughtful and it was so nice to not have to cook while on my crutches. Needless to say, I wasn’t going to pipe up that I was on the Whole30 and all the food needed to meet those guidelines. I happily thanked everyone for the soups, corned beef, pastas, stuffed peppers, desserts, and more. And that was my first Whole7.

Fast forward once again to March 2017. I started getting the idea in my head that I wanted to do another Whole30, starting on April 1. The main reason this was popping in my head was because I had been snacking a LOT more than normal at the time. It became a joke with my students that I was always eating candy….yeah, I soon realized this wasn’t a great joke and it wasn’t sending a great message to my students either. I figured a Whole30 would be a great reset. Whenever I explained what I was doing to anyone, I would simply explain that I already knew I didn’t have any intolerances, but that I was just doing this as a way to reset my body back to a healthier baseline. I got my sister on board, and I even convinced my mom and dad to try it out, too. Honestly, this has been the BEST part about my Whole30 this time around!! I have always wanted my parents to try the Whole30 as a way to see how their bodies feel without added sugar, gluten, wheat, etc. and to find out if my dad is intolerant to one of these things. He has been having stomach issues for a few years now. I thought there was no way that my dad would ever do a Whole30, but he proved me wrong by being right on board with my mom. My mom was pretty excited to try it out, and she and my sister have been ROCKING it up in PA. They both say that it’s really helpful that they’re doing it together in the same house. They’re all eating the same so they make great meals and enjoy encouraging each other.

Then there’s me..down here in Virginia. This time around, my Whole30 is full of complaining (most of it in my head), cravings, and too much snacking (although at least the snacks are Whole30 compliant). I know that it’s strongly suggested not to snack, and just to eat three big enough meals, but that’s just not really how it’s been working out for me this time around. Of course, I’ve stuck to the Whole30 as I knew I would, even going out in D.C. till 3am one night and then having a Girls Night another night where everyone was drinking drinks that I couldn’t have, eating pizza that I couldn’t have, and eating all kinds of other deliciousness..that I couldn’t have. In all honesty though, those days weren’t even challenging. I knew exactly what I could and couldn’t have and I brought my own snacks. Alicia and I even did a 4-day thru-hike on the Appalachian Trail, carrying all Whole30 compliant food! To an outsider looking in, I’ve been kicking this Whole30’s butt. Even my meals throughout this Whole30 have been pretty yummy. There’s been a few super delicious ones, and lots of ones that were just fine. I haven’t been as motivated in the kitchen overall, so I think maybe that’s part of what’s making me feel not as successful. It’s going..fine, but I’m definitely excited for it to be over. This is super different than how I felt last time around. I feel pretty guilty for feeling this way…but also, it’s life. Sometimes you’ll have a good Whole30 and sometimes you won’t haha.

There’s only 5 days to go, and I really am looking forward to eating some yummy things I haven’t eaten in a month!

 

Two noteworthy additions from this Whole30:

-Whole30 Easter! As a family, we had a Whole30 approved Easter dinner. We were surrounded by donuts and candy at church (and of course in stores leading up to Easter), but we had a great dinner of pork chops, applesauce, and some delicious side dishes.

-My parents have been doing AMAZINGLY with the Whole30. My mom has talked about even continuing it in some capacity forever! She said she feels so much better with this way of eating that it’s worth it. She has been super inspiring to me during these 25 days so far. It’s funny that I was the inspiration for her to start in the first place, but now she has become my inspiration with how well she’s doing with it!

 

I’ll be excited to share another health update in a few weeks. Half marathon training just started, and I’m motivated to get back to a nice healthy balance with my eating.

 

 

 

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Life Update: April 2017

I don’t know where I’ll be next fall, but I know I’ll be somewhere new! I officially checked the “No” box on my letter of intent for next school year. Most people think I’m crazy to close this door before another one opens, but I just KNOW it’s my time to move on. I love everything about my area and my job, and honestly could see myself staying here forever. That’s exactly the problem though – with nothing to kick my butt in gear, I could easily just stay here. And as much as I do love it, I have always wanted to travel the world.

Right now, with nothing to tie me down, I figure I better take advantage of this freedom and travel. Of course, I’ll miss my friends here and I’ll miss being only 2 hours from my family. I’ll miss the school I’ve worked at for the past three years and the community I’ve become a part of. I’ll miss getting to have past students stop in to say hi and I’ll miss living in Northern Virginia. I’ll miss my proximity to D.C. and all the fun times my friends will keep having here. BUT. Life is a collection of missed and taken experiences. There’s nothing I’d rather do right now than attempt to create my next adventure, and to see what kind of experiences I can fill this next phase of my life with.

This picture has absolutely nothing to do with this post. I just like posts better when they have pictures…and this was the only picture saved on my desktop..so here you go.

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To-Do List Happiness

Nothing beats the feeling of a completed to-do list. Especially when you get it done in the morning and have the whole afternoon with nothing hanging over your head!

In college, I remember having huge page long to-do lists that I followed each week. It helped me fit in my class assignments, work study hours, and student teaching lesson planning. I remember including things like grocery shopping, working out, showering, and even calling my mom on those lists as well!

Lately, I haven’t used a list as much. Normally, my weeks are pretty routine and I have specific times I do most things. If I do have something additional to do, I pretty much tackle it as soon as I’m able to without needing to write it down. This week though, I had acquired quite a long to-do list and had planned to do it all today on my day off! (Election day, yay!! Side note – GO VOTE!!!! There’s really nothing else like being part of a nationwide decision.) Before going to vote, I woke up and got right to work doing a few tasks on my computer and phone. I called the airline I’m flying with this weekend about foot accommodations, called about some doctor’s bills, cancelled an online subscription, and completed a few other odds and ends. After that, I deep cleaned the whole house. I haven’t been able to do it since before I hurt my foot, so I feel GREAT being able to relax in the freshly cleaned space. I also showered and made myself a yummy lunch before walking to my polling place and voting. After getting back, I cleaned the entire inside of my car, too. I was really in a cleaning mood!

Having completed my list now, I feel so content. And it’s only 3pm! I feel more and more like myself again as my foot heals little by little. I didn’t realize how much it had pushed pause on my normal life. It seems obvious that it would, but lately I’ve been so ready to just get back to normal! Having and tackling this to-list is such a small, but happy thing for me, and it’s just one of those things that makes me feel like ME.

This random feeling of happiness over something so small is also such a Sarah thing, and I’m happy for that too!

My next overarching to-dos are to research teaching internationally and to research logistics for thru-hiking the Appalachian Trail. I’m getting antsy and I’m ready to do something BIG!!

Travel

My Fashion Statement 

After hunkering down in the apartment for a few hours with the rain still pouring down, I decided to gear up and go out in it. Rain is what Seattle is known for and I was too stir crazy to stay inside any longer. The rain definitely had heavier and lighter bouts, so I waited until a lighter one started, wrapped my boot in two layers of trash bags, grabbed an umbrella, and set out.

I took short steps and walked slowly, especially down the steep hills here to keep myself from falling. Just about everyone was staring at my trash bag (as to be expected – I look around and take note of unusual things, too), and I just gave them a smile and continued on. Coming to the bottom of the hill between George and Jessi’s apartment and Pike Place, I heard a shout. “Quite a fashion statement you got there,” a man standing outside a fish stand wearing a big apron and rain boots called out. “I’m jealous. I might have to get myself some of that style.” I laughed and agreed, and continued on my way.


Taking in all the hustle and bustle around me, I walked the length of the market before reaching my destination: the crepe place. I had this spot in mind because I knew it had a sit down area, and because crepes are delicious! The owner saw my Penn State credit card and struck up conversation. He suggested a few sights to see before handing me my huge nutella and strawberry stuffed crepe. I spent about an hour there eating, people watching, and listening to my audiobook.

By this time, the rain had died down again and I ventured out to a park overlooking the water. I took some pictures and took in the view before heading back toward the market. As I passed the very first starbucks store, I decided to stop in and grab a drink. The line is always suuuuper long, and I don’t even like coffee, so this wasn’t on my list of things I wanted to do. Still, I figured while I was just wandering around, it might be a fun thing to have done.


Heading back down the street again, hot chocolate in hand, I heard another yell. “There she is! Still at it I see.” I looked over and had to laugh. The same guy was calling out again. “I’m going to have to match you tomorrow!” I cracked up and kept walking. I really had been walking up and down the same street for a few hours now.

I saw some signs for public seating inside the market, so I followed them out to some stools overlooking the water. I sat next to an interesting couple discussing the pros and cons of getting married. The woman did not seem very into it, but the poor guy was trying to convince her. Man, I could people-watch all day.


I decided it was time to head back and rest my aching foot, so I started back down the center of the market toward George and Jessi’s street. “You sure are a trooper.” Looking up (and realizing I’m not as observant as I always think), I smiled to see the same guy walking toward me. We talked for a bit, and I learned that he’s buying the fish market that he had been standing in front of all day. He told me we should hang out before I leave and see where things go from there, and I couldn’t help but laugh as I walked away. Life is funny, and relationships with people are really the best of life. This guy entertained me all day, and I’d like to think our days were better because of our small interaction with each other.

These relationships and interactions are happening all the time, but I’m even more aware of them while traveling. I have plans to travel solo in my future, and I’m definitely interested to see how that works out. As much as I like some down time to recharge, I definitely thrive while interacting with others. Today’s walk up and down the same street for 3 hours is certainly a small view of what a solo traveling day would be like (even though I’ve done it before), but it was also a reassurance that strangers can be a great source of relationships while exploring.

To the people out there that I’ll come in contact with in the future, and to the ones who will make my days a little brighter, I can’t wait to meet you all!

Travel

Seattle: Act 1, Scene 5

Scene: A pull-out couch in a 6th floor apartment in downtown Seattle. Steps from Pike Place and the ocean. Rain pours down out the window in heavy sheets.

—–

I’ve been in Seattle for a few days now, and I’m loving every second of it. (I also read the newest Harry Poter book yesterday which may have inspired how this post started. Also, go read it! It was good!)


I just can’t say enough about how beautiful Seattle is and how amazing the location is of my brother and sister-in-law’s apartment. They live right near Pike Place market, the waterfront, and pretty much everything you could want to be near! I checked out the weather before coming here, and based on what I saw in the forecast and knew about the usual stereotypical Seattle weather, I figured it would be rainy every day. We’ve been pleasantly surprised though with some gorgeous days! With George and Jessi having only moved here about 2 months ago, they said they’re kind of waiting to see how this rainy season is also. They’ve only had beautiful weather so far, but it’s the start of winter/rain right about now. Even though each day forecasted rain, we only saw a few hours of rain on Monday afternoon on our way back from the Space Needle and Chihuly Garden and Glass Museum. Having my boot makes it harder to just enjoy the rain because I have to wrap it in a trash bag and try to keep it dry, which makes it even nicer that we’ve had such good weather!


Yesterday was insanely beautiful with blue skies and the sun shining down on us. Jessi and I walked around while George was at work.

Now this morning, I woke up to rain coming straight down with no end in sight. We’ll have to see what we get up to today!

Travel

Flying with Crutches – Part 2 (How it Actually Went)

Flying with crutches turned out to be no trouble at all! Aside from making it impossible to explore the various airports and really enjoy the experience of flying/traveling, the actual process was smooth and easy.

At this point in my healing, I just got my boot on Wednesday and my flight was Saturday at 7am. I was able to walk a bit on just the boot, but had mainly been putting most of my weight on both crutches or just one.

When I first got to the airport in D.C. around 4:45am, there was a line at the Frontier counter with a sign at the front saying they would open at 5am. I got in line with my bag and my crutches. I had already called ahead (2 separate times actually) to tell them I would be on crutches and to ask if they did anything in particular for that. I also went on the website and clicked that I needed additional support. When I did call, the woman confirmed that I had added the extra assistance notification, and she said that someone would meet me at the ticket counter with a wheelchair. I also checked out how bringing some extra medical supplies would work since I saw that that was allowed on their website. I needed to bring a night splint, and bringing it made my bag bigger than what was allowed. The woman on the phone said that I could pack it in a separate bag and they would put it above with the carry on bags, and that this would be done free of charge. I followed these instructions and packed the splint in a separate bag, but actually ended up putting that bag inside my other bag (which fit “personal item” requirements when folded down, but that had extra room inside).
Back to waiting in line at the airport – I assumed that I’d go through the line and when they brought up my reservation they’d see that I needed a wheelchair and whatever other things they do for my situation. Instead, an airport employee pushing an empty wheelchair came by just minutes after I got in line and asked if I needed it. I was on my crutches at the time and only hesitated a moment before saying yes. He helped me into the chair and promptly pushed me to the front of the line. As soon as the employees came out at 5, the airport employee with me handed my passport to the Frontier associate and she printed my boarding pass and sent me on my way. She did confirm that I didn’t want to add my bag as a carry on,  and I told her I had my medical supplies inside in a separate bag and that when I took them out my bag then fit personal item requirements.

The airport employee who was pushing me zig zagged in and out of lines, maneuvering me around different obstacles until we skipped the entire security line and I was right up front. The employee put my bags through the conveyor belt and they asked if I was stable enough to stand in the body scanner. I said I could at least try, and it worked out fine. My whole boot showed up as yellow…and so did another spot on my body. The TSA agent did a pat down of my whole body and then some separate wanding and testing of my boot. She wasn’t the kindest lady, but all the other workers there were great. Still not sure what caused the yellow spot on me, but I always appreciate security being thorough. The airport employee was standing at the other side of security with all my belongings, waiting for me to pass through. He helped me sit down, handed me my things, and pushed me to my gate. It was a long way so I was really grateful for how everything was working out. Once he got me to my gate, he helped me to a chair and left with the wheelchair.

I waited there until a Frontier employee showed up close to boarding time. I crutched over to his desk to ask how exactly everything would work. He told me I’d board early and he’d help me with everything. A few minutes later, he gestured me over and was so kind and helpful. He carried my whole bag to the plane and went ahead and put it in the overhead compartment above my seat all while I had only made it a few steps down the ramp to the plane. I tried to tell him about how I had separate bags since I didn’t pay to put that whole bag as a carry on, but he said it was fine to just put the whole thing above. The first flight attendant I saw asked me if I wanted her to order a wheelchair for me for when we landed, and I said that would be great. It took me a while to get to my seat, but I was excited to see that I had a window seat. The flight attendants took my crutches and stored them overhead, and asked if I was comfortable in my seat, mentioning that they could switch me to an aisle seat. I said that it was good where I was because I could stay out of the way and not have to move. I slept on and off and had a pretty uneventful (yet beautiful!) flight.


Upon landing, I waited until everyone was off the plane. Multiple kind passengers stopped on their way out and asked if I needed them to hand me my crutches, but I waved them on and said that I didn’t want to hold anyone up. As I stepped off the plane, a Denver airport employee was there with a wheelchair to take me to my next gate. While on the way there, she asked if I wanted to stop at the bathroom or to get food or drink, but I didn’t want to be a hassle so I said no. I had a full 5 hours until my next flight, so I figured I could hobble to the bathroom and food counter myself sometime in the next little while. Oh and one small thing, each airline employee pushing me needed to see my boarding pass to scan it. That must be to track how many people use this service or to see what the employees are doing or something.


When it got close to time to board my next flight, I stood up and asked the next Frontier employee if I could board first and was kind of just trying to see how it would all work again. This woman was NOT as kind as the first man I’d interacted with earlier in the day, and she dismissed me quickly after saying that I should come up when she called for preboarding. When she did call for preboarding, a HUGE line formed with older people and small children. Believe me, this time I got no special treatment for being on crutches. I did end up joining the line from the side and cutting a whole bunch of people because there was no way I could wait at the end of this huge line. No one seemed to mind, but this time as I crutched my way down the ramp there were people passing me and I felt flustered and my bag was swinging around and it was just not great. There was no flight attendant at the front to ask if I wanted to order a wheelchair, so I just continued on my way to my seat. As I struggled to balance my bag and keep myself upright, a flight attendant did come from the back of the plane and ask if it would help at all if she carried my bag for me. I told her that would actually help a lot and I thanked her, and she said that she would want someone to help her daughter if she was on crutches. I had a middle seat this time, and luckily I sat between two guys my age who were nice and easygoing. The one who sat down first was super friendly and we ended up talking for the full hour that we sat on the runway as we waited for some luggage. His name was AJ, and I always love meeting new people while traveling.

Another side note, my doctor told me to wear compression socks while flying (and actually I have to wear them constantly over the next 3 weeks as I wear the boot) and to take the boot off and move my foot around 4-5 times during each flight. This was all to prevent blood clots, and it worked out fine for me to take the boot off and put it under the chair in front of me during each flight.


When this plane landed, I again waited to deboard until everyone else was gone. It was kind of nice to not be in the rush to get off. As I stepped off the plane, an airline employee with a wheelchair was waiting for me! I’m still not sure if this was just a weird coincidence or if it was because I had made the note on my online booking abut needing assistance, but it worked out perfectly. This last employee took me the whole way to where Jessi was waiting for me, and it was all around an easy experience!

I normally love the whole aspect of exploring airports and just expierencing all the little things that have to do with travel, and I definitely didn’t get that this time. But the airports and airlines certainly work together well to make flying accessible for someone who can’t get around easily on their own. I did notice that the amount of help/comfort/peace of mind provided did differ depending on who was assisting you, but that’s the case with pretty much everything where you’re interacting with a human – it all depends on their individual personality.

All in all, it was quite easy and nothing to be worried about! I’d recommend making the notation online with your last name and booking number, and calling ahead if you need to bring extra supplies. Everyone was very helpful and I’m hoping the flight back goes just as smoothly!

Travel

Flying with Crutches – Part 1

Ah! I love flying so much, and my flight to Seattle leaves at 7 tomorrow morning. It’s 8pm now and my Uber is picking me up to bring me to the airport at 4:30am!

I normally only feel excitement before a flight, but this time I’m a little bit nervous! And the only reason is because of my foot. I called the airline multiple times and arranged a few different things. First of all, I have an allowance to bring my crutches and a sleeping boot and any other medical things at no extra charge. This means that I have an extra bag to carry around though, which isn’t so great when I already have a bag with my clothes and a coat on and crutches and everything. I’m also trying to get through without checking a bag or purchasing a carry-on. My bag right now definitely fits the personal item requirements, but only when it’s on a flat surface and squished into those dimensions haha. It’s just a large bag, but I chose it over another one because it does have extra room for my other medical bag, too. I’m just worried they’ll charge me for having a large bag! But hopefully the fact that I have the medical allowance will let everything work out fine. The other thing I arranged was for someone to push me in a wheelchair around the airport! I honestly feel super weird about this and I’d rather it wasn’t necessary, but I know that I shouldn’t push myself to walk and end up hurting my foot.

Before I get a few hours of sleep, I should go look up where I need to go once I get to the airport!

I’m looking forward to posting an update here that says, “Everything went perfectly!” So let’s all hope for that!!!!!!

Thoughts

“It’s fine!”

It’s been interesting having to rely on others for certain things while I’ve been on one leg these past few weeks. I didn’t quite realize how strongly I would feel about not wanting to be a burden. I never want to inconvenience anyone or give people extra work, so I’ve figured out how to do most things on my own. My friends and coworkers always do whatever they can for me, and sometimes get frustrated with me when I don’t let them help.

Yesterday at dinner, talking about my insistence to do things for myself brought the conversation around to my attitude/perspective on life – how everything is always fine in my eyes, I don’t wallow, and I stay positive no matter what. The comments/impersonations about it cracked me up. “Everything is fine!” “You could be complaining about the worst thing in the world, but then it always ends with a ‘but it’s fine though!'” “Oh, one of my hands is missing, but it’s fine, 5 fingers are better than 0. Who really needs 10 anyway when 5 are fine?”

To hear that this is how others see my perspective on life, I really couldn’t stop smiling! I’m pretty well known for my positive attitude, but life isn’t always all sunshine and roses. I’m glad to hear that I still portray the idea that life is good even when things aren’t going perfectly. I never realized how often I do say things are “fine,” but after hearing my friends say it, I realized that really is my line when things aren’t going well!

At parent teacher conferences earlier in the day yesterday, one parent told me a funny story. She said that one day she was at home complaining about the weather. Her daughter told her, “Is that negativity I hear?! Ms. Rogers tells us we always have to be positive. What good are you bringing to the world with that negativity?” The mom said that she couldn’t help but laugh and be appreciative, while also grumbling about the fact that her daughter (and me from afar!) wasn’t letting her wallow in her grumpiness.

From my own experiences, I know what having a positive attitude can do for you. It can encourage self-confidence, contentedness, and a sense of wonder about the world and the people in it. I know that my life could be very different without my positive attitude, and I feel sad for those who surround themselves with negativity, or choose to view things without any positivity.

Another phrase I say to my students often is “You only get this moment in life once! Even if we’re just doing a worksheet, why not give your all and really live in this moment?!” That’s truly how I live my life and I hope to spread that idea to others. It doesn’t mean you can’t be sad, frustrated, or unhappy about something, but hey, things could always be worse, and there’s always a way that you can turn your thinking around to assure yourself that “it’s fine!”

 

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Community

As I crutched it out of the school building today about an hour after dismissal, a friendly voice called out, “Hey, Ms. Rogers, how’s your foot doing?”

I paused and looked up to see a boy riding toward me on a bike. As he got closer, I squinted to peer at the face under the helmet. He looked familiar, but I still couldn’t quite place him. My mind whirred as it finally clicked the pieces together – he had been a student in a classroom in my hallway either last year or the year before.

(As you can tell from that account, my memory isn’t the greatest – especially with placing faces. Earlier this year, I talked to one of my former students, and I couldn’t remember if I had her last year or the year before….and I only had those two options! And she was my own student! I don’t think I’ll ever be that teacher who remembers the name of every kid she’s ever had. But I already get teary-eyed when I reunite with many of my former students, so it’s not that they don’t make an impact on me and become a part of my life forever. ❤️ Plus I eventually remembered which year I had her..that just doesn’t bode well for 10 years down the road when I have many more classes to think through.)

As recognition dawned on me, I smiled brightly at the boy. He slowed his bike as he approached me, pedaling slowly. “It could be better,” I replied honestly, “but it is healing!” He smiled back and continued on his way, a “cya!” thrown over his shoulder.

I continued crutching to my car, but the smile stayed on my face. As simple as that interaction was, it’s situations like those that I’ll miss so deeply when I move on from this place. Even just being a third year teacher, I’m a part of this community. Kids in younger grades whisper my name excitedly as they talk about what teacher they might get in 5th grade (along with tons of other great teachers in my school!), and those older kids who have gone to middle school keep in touch by writing me emails and they spread the love by telling younger kids how lucky they’d be to have me as a teacher.

I am fully a part of this community, and I love it with all my heart. I love going to sporting events, choir concerts, and plays at the middle school to see my past students doing things they love. I love volunteering at the family market that provides food to many families in my district. I love being a known teacher at the school with kids waving and smiling every time I walk anywhere.

I know that nothing can replace the spot I have in the lives of the students who have been in my classes over the past 3 years, but sometimes I feel guilty for planning to move on. I won’t be a part of their community anymore. I always remind myself that being comfortable somewhere is never a good enough reason not to explore other places in life, but it’s definitely moments like these that pull at my heart strings and make me know that this community will always hold a special place in my heart.

Last year, at Open House night, a student came running in waving a paper excitedly. Open House night is the first time the students see who their teacher is. “You’re at the top of my list for what teacher I wanted to get, and I got you!! How lucky am I?!” she chirped excitedly as she hugged all the air out of me while showing me my name at the top of her handwritten list. She went on to explain that I had subbed in her room for a bit one day last year, and that from that moment on she knew she wanted me as her teacher. As I thought back to that day, I had to laugh! When we’re short on substitutes, teachers are sometimes assigned to cover a classroom for half of their planning period. At the most, this would mean I was in the girl’s classroom for 30 minutes. I remember walking into the fourth grade room, sitting down, and looking out at the students as they worked on worksheets that they had already started. I think I introduced myself and said something about how some of them might be in my class next year, but I’m pretty sure that was the extent of it! From that small interaction that I barely remember, this girl had chosen to hope and wish and write a physical list with my name right there at the top. Small moments often remind me how big of an impact we can have on someone else (especially kids) without even realizing it, and this was definitely one of those moments.

At the same time, moments like my interaction with the past student on a bike also remind me what an impact such a small situation can have on me. It’s often these tiny, unobtrusive moments that most make me stop and think about how much I’ll miss this community I’ve found for myself here. ❤

 

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Life on One Leg

***Warning: This post contains some talk about injuries and medical procedures that might make some people squeamish. Proceed with caution!***

 

A little less than a month ago, I was on the phone with my mom while lounging in the hammock out back. Things had been winding down after the craziness of moving into a new place and then starting a new school year, and I finally felt that I had some free time. I believe my exact words to her were, “I’m almost bored at the moment…” I followed this up with my excitement to join a gym, a church in the area, and to volunteer some of my time each week, but lo and behold, those fateful words had already been uttered.

 

A few days after the conversation with my mom, my roommate and I were getting ready for our housewarming party. We had spent all morning cleaning, organizing, and prepping food, and there were only about 10 more minutes before guests would start arriving. My roommate’s boyfriend and a few of his friends were already there, and we were just doing a few last finishing touches. I decided this would be the perfect time to empty the dishes that had been drying in the dish strainer. Without paying too much attention, I took all the pieces of the food processor and sloppily pieced them back together. Carrying them toward the pantry, I was going to get the box out, set them in it, and then place it back on the shelf. My roommate was standing next to me when I used one hand to open the pantry door. All of the sudden, I dropped the whole food processor. As it fell, I sort of stepped back – kind of just moving my feet like you do when something is falling toward them. At that moment, I felt an intense heat in my foot and then saw blood start to gather on the rug. “Who’s hurt?!?” was my first question! I looked down and realized it was my own foot, and I immediately ran to the kitchen to try to save the rug. (When renting this house, the owners had been very particular about the rug so my roommate and I are always SUPER careful to keep it looking pristine.) Amazingly enough, everyone sprang into action without too much freaking out. “Why did this have to happen!!” I complained as the boys there started giving me orders to sit down and elevate my foot and put pressure on the wound. The blade had gone right into the bottom of my foot and had sliced pretty deep – somehow I had dropped it and then stepped on it all in a matter of a second! I yelled to my roommate to just focus on the carpet, because it really was a huge mess and I knew it would be good for her to focus on that instead of my sliced open foot. A stool was shoved under my foot, a towel was wrapped around it, and my friend Eddie grabbed on and started applying pressure to the wound. I knew I would need stitches immediately, and after pulling the towel back to quickly look, the boys agreed with my initial assessment.

Without any conversation, it was decided who would come with me to get all fixed up and who would stay behind to welcome the guests that would be arriving any minute. As I was carried out the door and placed in the car, I smiled for a picture before we went on our way.

 

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The two friends who ended up coming with me were really the perfect balance of seriousness to get things done and silliness to keep me distracted and happy. We joked that we were getting a true bonding experience after only having known each other for a few weeks. Our first stop at patient first ended up being pointless. The nurse and doctor took one look at how deep the wound was and sent us packing to the ER. When we got there, it had probably been about an hour from the time I had first gotten hurt. By this time, the adrenaline was wearing off and I have to admit I cried a little as I told the ER receptionists my phone number and address. I pulled myself back together though and went through the process of getting X-rays and talking to many doctors before finally someone came to do something with my injury. I do have to mention how kind everyone was in the ER. Especially compared to the first people we talked to at Patient First. In the ER, everyone went out of their way to make sure my friends could stay with me, and everyone was kind and welcoming. The attending doctor first came in to check out the wound. After getting my ‘okay,’ the doctor brought in some nurses who were just starting and a few other people just to watch the process. She told me that she was going to numb the area with a shot..and I made the mistake of asking if that shot was going to go near the wound. I should explain that up until this point, I hadn’t really felt any direct pain from the wound. I mainly kept being scared that it would hurt, and I was scared by how much blood was coming out, but it wasn’t actually painful. After I asked if the shot was going near the wound, she calmly and matter-of-factly explained that the shot was going IN THE WOUND.  That didn’t go over so well with me, but I also knew that it just had to be done. I held my friend’s hand, covered my face, and told her to keep telling me stories as the doctor got the shot ready. As the needle started to poke at the wound, I started loudly vocalizing my thoughts!!! Listening to stories just wasn’t enough to distract me from the pain, so I had to yell things. “I THOUGHT YOU WERE ONLY DOING ONE NEEDLE. WHY AREN’T YOU DONE YET? OMG IF I’M THIS LOUD NOW IMAGINE ME WHEN I GIVE BIRTH.” I kept up a random stream of consciousness for a good few minutes until she was done. As I peeled my hand from my face, I sheepishly blinked up at the bright lights and the amused smiles on everyone’s faces. I did feel a bit silly after all my commotion, but hey, it helped!

After rinsing out the wound to really see what we were dealing with, the attending doctor decided it was deep enough to call in the resident podiatrist. As soon as he walked in, my friends started making googly eyes at me. He was quite the cutie. That distracted me as he checked out the foot and decided it would be alright to stitch it up. Eleven stitches later and I was finally good to go! They chucked some crutches at me and sent me on my way.

I started getting used to life on crutches. Spoiler alert – it’s really hard! You can’t carry anything because you need your hands to work the crutches! I started carrying a backpack everywhere so that if I needed to bring anything anywhere (which happens pretty much constantly), then I would have some way to transport it. This works pretty well, although the backpack does put me off balance. One time it was too heavy and I stood up and then promptly toppled back over..putting weight on my off-limits foot on the way. Not my best moment on crutches. Even so, I was figuring life out.

I set up a follow-up appointment with the podiatrist, and just hoped he’d tell me the stitches would heal in a few weeks and I’d be good to go……

Fast forward to the appointment, and I sat in the chair trying with all my might to follow his instructions and bend my toes. My big toe just wouldn’t bend! I could move it up and down, but couldn’t get it to make the bending movement. The doctor thought some of this could be attributed to my foot being swollen and bruised, but he wanted me to go get an MRI just to be sure I hadn’t sliced through the tendon that makes your big toe bend.  He was able to schedule me an emergency MRI for that same afternoon, and let me tell you, an MRI is an experience in and of itself!

The next day, he called and shared the news that I was hoping to avoid. The MRI had shown that I had, in fact, sliced my tendon, and there was a 6mm separation in it. Although technically I could choose whether or not to get the surgery to repair the tendon, he shared that with me being young, active, and a runner, he would definitely get the surgery to make sure I could get back to doing the things I love.

 

So, last Friday, I had surgery to repair my tendon. While doing the surgery, the doctor actually found that I had sliced TWO tendons – the one to my big toe and my second toe. He fixed them both and said that everything else went well. He also ended up putting some nerve endings inside some muscle so I wouldn’t have nerve pain either. That sounds so gross, but if it will be good in the long run then I’m glad for it!

I still can’t believe how intense the recovery is for this surgery. At first, before the surgery, the stitches had run in a straight line across the arch of my foot. Now, I have an entire Z taking up most of my foot! I was in a lot of pain for the first week, and I still have some intense bouts of nerve pain, and then random pain near the stitches and in my toes. I can’t put any weight on it for three weeks, and then if all is going well, I can switch over to a boot. I have a huge splint/cast that goes from under my foot all the way up to my knee. I still can’t believe that all of this is happening. I’ve barely ever needed to use a bandaid in my life, and now this!

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My students have been amazing during this whole process, and so has my Virginia community down here. People have been sending me well wishes, getting me recovery gifts (someone got me a brand new knee scooter!!), and making dinner for my roommate and I since I had the surgery. I feel overwhelmed by all the kindness.

 

In about 2 weeks, I’m flying out to Seattle to visit my brother and sister-in-law. I’ve had this trip planned since long before my injury/surgery. It should perfectly work out that I can switch to my boot right before traveling, so I hope everything goes as planned! I have a post-op appointment each week, and I even squeezed an extra one in last week. During that appointment, the doctor said things were already looking even better than they had been two days prior.

I’m still counting down the days until I can wear two matching shoes! Not only that, but I’m counting down until I can start running again, going on walks, taking care of Kato, walking around while teaching, taking a normal shower, going hiking, riding on my dad’s motorcycle, and so much more! This whole experience has really put things in perspective. Although I often consider myself lucky, it’s an entirely different feeling to actually have to put those things you normally do on hold. When I get back to doing all of my favorite things, I hope I can really hold on to this gratefulness for all the things I often take for granted.