Sunday, August 25, 2013

The Encounter

I went to the Big Ass Show on Saturday with a couple of awesome friends (Eileen and Whitney).

We saw
- Dear Hunter
- Family of the Year
- Pepper
- Capital Cities
- Blue October
- The Airborne Toxic Event
- Panic! at the Disco

It was loads of fun. Pepper and Family of the Year were good to dance to. The Panic singer was both funny and horribly cocky and un-funny at the same time.

And while this day was great, this is all beside the point. Why? Because I was wearing this:

I figured we would be outside, in 90 plus degree weather. It's a concert. Why wouldn't I wear a tank and shorts? I normally try to strike a balance. For example, if I'm wearing pants, I am OK wearing a tank. If I'm wearing shorts, I try to have short sleeves at the very least. But today I made an exception.

After Whitney left, Eileen and her friend went to the meet and greet for Panic! While I sat and waited for them, a former student came walking up to me.

Student: Hello.
Me: WTF OMG oh no why are you saying hi to me please go away Hi. How are you?
Student: Good.
Me: I saw you on my roll this week, but you weren't in class, how come?
Student: I go to a different school now.
Me: Oh, well you should let Jefferson know so they can take you off their rolls. How was your summer?
Student: Good.
Me: This is the most ridiculous "conversation" ever. Why did you even come up to me? ...
Student: *walks away*
Me: Bye, (student).

Oh yeah. Remember that time I was wearing about half as much as I usually wear to work, and a former student came up to me and said hello at a concert? Why do these things happen? Why?

God further reinforced my punishment for dressing scandalously by blessing us with a vicious rainstorm.

Got it, Daddy-O. I won't wear a tank top and shorts in public anymore.

Friday, August 23, 2013



So last August, I had these pretty intense pains. They felt like gas pains. But it lasted for a long time, and it hurt to move my legs and to walk. It wasn’t enough for me to feel like I needed to do anything about it.

The same thing happened in October, much worse than in August. I was in the middle of a workout, doing sit-ups, actually, when I started hurting. It was bad, but I was determined to finish my workout. Then suddenly, the pain came in sharp spurts. It was excruciating. I cried mixed with quiet screams—the inhaling, confused, panicked kind. I didn’t know what was happening. I folded up into fetal position on my living room floor, unable to move because any small movement sent pains shooting through me.

A less extreme version happened in December.

Then it happened a few weeks later in January. In the shower, I was extremely light headed and felt those familiar gas pains. I knew something was wrong since I felt like I was going to pass out. I continued to get ready for work and again was struck with pains so bad that I dropped to the floor. I lay there, unable to move, for several minutes. I eventually crawled over to my then-roommate’s room and knocked on her door. She felt so bad. The worst of the pain passed, and I went to work.

After calling urgent care and talking with my parents, and after the pain hadn’t gone away the next day, I had my roommate take me to emergency. I packed a bag just in case.

They did an ultrasound (two, actually) and diagnosed me with at least two hemorrhagic ovarian cysts. They told me to follow up with an OB/GYN.

I did, and he put me on birth control. I hadn’t had another incident for 6 months.

So one day, those same “gas pains” started to come around again. The pains were not sharp, shooting, or incapacitating like a couple of the other incidences. I decided around 11 AM or so to go on a run. About a quarter mile in, I started to feel much worse. I couldn’t even run. I had to keep stopping to walk. Granted, it had been a little while since my last run, but I hadn’t completely fallen out of shape. I figured I would run through it and it would go away. No such luck.

I texted Kristen when I was about a mile away from home, telling her that I was in enough pain that if she were home, I’d ask her to come get me. She knew that was a bad sign, so she texted someone to come get me. By that time, I had already made it home.

That day I started to balloon up really huge. Four months pregnant huge. I took it easy on the couch because every little movement was hurting me. If I stayed still, I was fine. I made the mistake of texting pictures of my bloated belly to my mom. She freaked out and begged me to go to emergency.

I told her that I knew it was a cyst problem. I promised that if it wasn’t better in the morning, I’d go to emergency. I didn’t get much sleep on Saturday night because of my bloating. I was up at 6 AM on Sunday, July 7 and unable to go back to sleep. My roommate went with me to emergency.

They did another ultrasound and the doctor ordered a CT scan just to be certain because of where the pain was hitting when he pushed on areas of my belly.

Thousands of dollars later, they confirmed that I had an 8 cm cyst—“the size of an orange,” they told me. They couldn’t figure out which side it was on—the ultrasound technician was very confused.

I got a follow up appointment on Wednesday with my OB/GYN. I showed up with my mom and grandma only to find out that my doctor was out with family issues, and they scheduled my appointment for the PAST Wednesday. “Hi, can I have an appointment for three days ago? I have a time-traveling Delorean.” Idiots.

So I called a doctor that the emergency room physician recommended. Best thing that could have happened.

The doctor wanted to see me on Friday the 12th. She explained my options. She told me that the fact that I had gone five days with no pain or bloating was a good sign. I decided to wait three weeks and get an ultrasound to see if it had shrunk. If it hadn’t, we would operate before I went back to school. I felt good about this option.

Then two days later, I started feeling a lot of pain again. Throughout that week, it became painful to urinate. I had to lift up my belly to take pressure off my bladder. It was a stinging pain right at the start of my peeing that caused me to shout out, “(expletives removed for consideration of the audience)!” This happened repeatedly. I was very uncomfortable. It seemed to be lodged on the left side right by my hip. It hurt my back as well. I just was not in good shape. I had no appetite, and was having other bathroom issues. So I called on Thursday and received no call back until Friday. They said they would get me in on Monday the 22nd.

I went in first thing in the morning and had explained my discomfort during the previous week. The doctor said she usually does surgery on Thursday but didn’t want to make me wait, so she asked what I had eaten and when. She would operate that day.

I was not expecting that. I had eaten yogurt and berries.

I went downstairs and registered for surgery and got everything squared away. I went home and passed time without food OR WATER until 3 in the afternoon when I had to report back to the hospital. I didn’t pack anything because the procedure is only 30 minutes to 1 hour tops, and the doctor expected I would go home that night.

It ended up that they didn’t even take me back for surgery until around 7 PM. It also ended up that the surgery took over 2 hours for my doctor to complete.

She found endometriosis and removed as much as she could. She discovered that it was an endometrioma cyst. The fluid inside was thick and goopy, and the cyst had grown.

I couldn’t stand up, and I couldn’t go to the bathroom. It was a rough night. I wasn’t going to be discharged because I couldn’t do those basic things and was a serious mess.

The next few days were a whirlwind of no sleep and intense pain—worse pain than anyone had prepared me for. The gas they pump into the midsection during surgery was pressing on the phrenic nerve, causing intense pain in my shoulder. I managed to go pee twice that night, under threat of a catheter.

Guys, I can deal with a lot of pain. I refuse to take pain pills most of the time. The doctor was amazed that I could even pee, and she said anyone else in my situation wouldn’t have made it as long as I had tolerated it.

This shoulder pain was worse than anything I’ve ever experienced.

It made it so that I couldn’t recline even a little bit. I had to sleep sitting up. If I leaned back slightly, my shoulder killed.

Let me explain “killed.” It felt like somebody was stabbing my shoulder from the inside with a dagger. The pain would come so suddenly and so intensely that I involuntarily screamed—screamed like someone really was stabbing me. I don’t mean I cried quietly. I mean I screamed bloody murder. That was my body’s natural response; I had no choice. Then when I would tense up from the pain and crying, it made the pain worse, so I had to scream even more. I hadn’t anticipated pain and discomfort worse than my previous cyst ruptures, but this really was much worse than anything I’ve had since last August. I asked my home teachers to come give me a blessing, and they did.

The nurses said the only thing that gets the gas out of the diaphragm is to walk around. So I walked and I walked. Besides the gas in my diaphragm, another doctor said she didn’t want to release me until I passed gas. So I walked, and I walked. I was given stool softener. I drank prune juice. I tried everything. I tried yoga poses for gastrointestinal health. I didn't want to stay another stupid night in the hospital. I wanted to go home on Tuesday.

Finally, at 11 PM, I managed to do what the doctor demanded. I rejoiced. (Never has anyone been so excited to fart, I’m sure). But at that point, it was too late for me to want to go home. So we stayed a second night (mom stayed too) and went home on Wednesday morning—walked out just fine.

I spent Wednesday and Thursday night sitting up sleeping. Thursday was pretty bad for nausea, but I hadn’t taken many pain pills at all and was feeling good.

Friday I walked two miles on the treadmill and did a few minutes on the stationary bike. I slept a normal, horizontal night.

So that’s my story. Endometriosis and cysts are awful. Hopefully birth control prevents more ovarian cysts and keeps the endometriosis from getting worse. Besides absolutely shattering my fitness and endurance, I am feeling much better. One out of three incision scars looks bad, which I probably shouldn’t complain about. My doctor is amazing. I was so blessed to find her and to have been referred to her. I am grateful for my mom and grandma and amazing friends and home teachers for taking such good care of me.

I’m on the road back to cyst-free fitness. 

Friday, August 9, 2013

East Coast: Round 2

On July 31… 

-P picked me up at the Baltimore airport, and we went straight to breakfast.
-P had heard about this restaurant on Diners, Drive-Ins, and Dives that he wanted to try.
-So we went to Blue Moon Café. It was amazing.
-I had the country scramble (biscuit topped with eggs, bacon, cheese, and sausage gravy) with hash browns.
P had the Captain Crunch French toast. I had a few bites. It was basically like eating dessert for breakfast. He said it was “too much of a good thing" and got tired of it.

-We were able to check into the Best Western early and leave our stuff.
-We headed to Fort McHenry where we spent several hours walking through the museum, around the perimeter of the building, into the little underground areas, and through the barracks and other rooms. It was really interesting to learn about the huge flag (30’ x 42’) sewn by Mary Pickersgill.

-We drove to look around at some restaurants in an area. There was a little pub and also a Jimmy John’s, which P was surprised to see. Naturally, we ate at Jimmy John’s. This was my second time there. Still wasn’t amazed by it. I could make a better sandwich at home. Still... Full belly = happy Janae.
-We went into Harris Teeter, a grocery store, to get some snacks and water for the next day. We ended up with a bag of mini Snickers, a bag of kettle cooked BBQ chips, granola bars, Haribo gummy bears, and a huge case of water bottles. I also got a Coke Zero. Don’t judge us.
-We went to Edgar Allan Poe’s house, which isn’t open until October, and took a couple of pictures.

-We drove to Westminster Hall where Poe is buried, but it was closed.
-We drove back to the hotel and got changed into our bathing suits.
-We went to the Jacuzzi for about a half hour or more.
-We went back to the hotel room and stayed in just watching some videos and stuff.
-We woke up the next morning and had free breakfast at the hotel.
-We headed to the Metro station at Greenbelt and rode that into Washington, DC.

In DC on August 1… 

-We exited at the Archives. We walked through and looked at the Declaration, Constitution, and Bill of Rights, along with the museums inside.
-We went to Ford’s Theater and then across the street to the house in which Lincoln died.

-We learned that none of the above is original.
-We took the Metro down to the Smithsonian stop and got tickets for the Bureau of Engraving and Printing.
-We walked back down to the Smithsonian Museum of American History and walked around for a little bit. It was neat. There was an old colonial house and some cool old objects, but the displays we really wanted to see were closed.
-We walked back down to the money-making place and took the tour at 5:30.
-We rested for a few minutes afterward because I was getting grouchy. P responded by getting me some Famous Amos cookies because I told him they are my favorite. He is the sweetest.
-We headed back to the Metro station and rode it to Arlington.
-We walked really fast to watch the changing of guards at the Tomb of the Unknown Soldier. We were both very sweaty.
-We watched the ceremony, but it closed at 7, so we walked right back out.
-We went back to the Metro and rode a few different tracks back to Greenbelt.
-We got to the car around 8:15 or so and decided to eat at TGI Friday’s. It was crazy in there. It was packed. The bartender was yelling into a microphone, and there was music and dancing. Also, we were the minority. It was an interesting experience.
-It took an hour and 20 minutes to drive home, so we made it by 11:40 PM.

In Elkton on August 2…

-We slept in.
-P made breakfast—I only wanted eggs and toast.
-TV repair guys came.
-P got me hooked up with his wireless, showered, and left for work.
-I wrote 3 articles and uploaded pictures to Facebook.
-I got ready, and P came to pick me up after work.
-We went to Macaroni Grill.
-We saw The Way Way Back.
-We went to Rita’s for custard afterward.

In Elkton on August 3…

-I went with P to work, but I drove his car home so I could have it.
-I got some donuts from Dunkin Donuts.
-I wrote some articles.
-I exercised (two round of the 15 minute exercise I like to use).
-I made a list and went to the Dollar Tree where I got miscellaneous things including some round cake pans for P, per his request.
-I went to Wal-Mart. It was insane. I picked up things to make German chocolate cake from scratch, and dinner for Sunday.
-I wasted time on the computer.
-I went and picked P up from work.
-We went into Boston Market, but I didn’t want anything from there. They don’t have ham anymore. What the?
-We ate at Friendly’s instead, and we shared a sundae.

In Elkton on August 4… 

-We woke up pretty late because P has late church.
-We made three round German Chocolate cakes from scratch.
-We made the frosting.

-We went to church, and we left after Sunday School.
-P made dinner: smoked chicken with lemon and rosemary, roasted red potatoes, and broccoli. It was delicious.

-We went on a walk through his complex and down a road. The area is so beautiful with all the trees.
-We watched Before Sunset.

On August 5… 

-We woke up at 5 AM to catch a bus to NYC.
-We found the parking lot by chance, thank goodness.
-We rode the 2.5 hours to NYC. I slept half of the way there.
-We ate at Panera for breakfast in NYC.
-We walked to the subway and took it downtown.
-We went through the 9/11 Memorial.

-We walked down to Battery Park.
-We went and got on the free ferry to Staten Island. We saw the Statue of Liberty on the ride.

-We walked around there a little bit.
-We got some delicious pastries from Au Bon Pain.
-We walked to the subway, found out we had to buy tickets at a different station, walked all the way back to the other one, then walked to the one we needed again.
-We rode the subway uptown to the Met.
-We walked around the Met for an hour and a half or so. It was awesome. We saw the Rome and Egypt exhibits, the arms and armor, some European art, Medieval art, and Byzantine art.
-We walked to the subway and got some pizza on our way there.
-We took the subway down to the place we thought the bus was going to pick us up. We should’ve checked our tickets because we went to the wrong stop, and had 5 minutes until the bus was supposed to arrive. We ended up having to run from 7th and 28th to 11th and 34th. Probably the worst 15 minutes of our lives. Turned out that our bus was late, so we ran and almost died for no reason. The bus arrived an hour and 20 minutes late. We could’ve seen more of the Met.
-We took the bus home, and we played Words With Friends on the whole drive. He won the first game, and we didn’t finish the second game till we got home. I won. That means we had to play a third game to get best out of three.
-Also P got us lost on the way home by taking a wrong turn. He wasn’t using Siri for directions. That’s what happens.
-P had a really bad heat rash on his legs, a horrible headache, sore shoulders, and was generally in a lot of pain. So he took a Lortab and some ibuprofen. He fell out of his bed. I died laughing. I’m still laughing today.

On August 6… 

-After spending the whole day walking, we were super sore and tired.
-We had cream of wheat for breakfast. I had berries and bananas and peanut butter in mine. P had brown sugar in his.
-We got ready and drove to the movie theater. We paid $19 for two matinee movie tickets! $19!!!! Ugh. And $7.50 for a bucket of popcorn. Concession prices are outrageous.
-We saw Wolverine. It was all kinds of fun. Still thinking about Hugh Jackman’s veins…
-We drove home. P had a bowl of cereal, and like 30 minutes later I decided I was hungry.
-So we had leftover smoked chicken, made some pasta and pesto sauce, and a spinach salad.
-Then we went to Wawa gas station where I got a chocolate caramel frozen drink, and we both got some snacks.
-We came back home and watched random videos on YouTube.
-Then we watched The Raven on Netflix. We also started to watch Seeking a Friend for the End of the World, but P fell asleep. I had already seen it anyway.

On August 7… 

-I made us some cinnamon apple oatmeal. It was a total disaster. Don’t use green apples to make cinnamon apples. Seriously. Gross stuff.
-We drove to Philadelphia. It was awesome. I love that city.
-We ate Chinese food.
-The Graff House was closed :(
-We went to the Christ Church Burial Ground where Ben Franklin is buried along with four other signers of the Declaration.
-We saw Independence Hall again.
-We went through Congress Hall.
-We saw Carpenters’ Hall.
-We saw some old houses: The Todd house, the Powel house, the Bishop White House, and the Physick House. They were all closed. No tours for us. :(
-We went to the Vietnam Memorial and walked around the port near the water.
-We tried to see Franklin Court where his house once stood, but it was closed. I guess they’re renovating it or something.
-We went into the print shop which was pretty neat.
-We went into the post office too.
-I got some soft serve at Dairy Queen. P got a blizzard. We had to use the restroom, so we needed to be customers. It was really too bad because we all know how much I hate ice cream. ;)
-We walked back to the car and drove home.
-We cleaned up a little bit.
-We went to Cracker Barrel for dinner.

On August 8…

-We slept in. I packed up and finished some laundry.
-We both showered and got ready.
-We had a small bowl of cereal and half a banana.
-We drove to Baltimore to eat at Blue Moon Café again. I had a BLT, and P had red velvet pancakes.
-We drove to the cemetery where Poe is buried. There were some creepy things there. Poor sunken, tilted, faded headstones.

-I got approximately 11 bites on my legs thanks to the swampy nature of the graveyard.
-From there, we drove to the airport and said goodbye.