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The Golden Hour

Those of us who are West Coast Beach Rats, refer to the hour before sunset as The Golden Hour at the beach.  

Given the right weather conditions, the beach just GLOWS.

I was thrilled to capture a glimpse of it with nothing but my pocket camera on me.


(PR and Nike playing paddle ball … a long standing tradition they've had since PR was just a toddler.)

© Twenty Four At Heart

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Hitting The Wall


For about 24 hours after my surgery, I rested.  Then I told myself, "You've been through worse," and I forced myself to get on with my life.  Part of the reason I did so, was because Briefcase has been out of town for the last two weeks.  When there's no one else to get things done, you find a way to do them one way or the other.

My energy has been lagging a little, but overall I've done great.  (Um, except for the fact that I haven't done any cooking so my son and I have been eating horribly.  It's hard to cook with one arm for the first few weeks after surgery.)

Yesterday, however, it was as if a ton of bricks landed in my path.  My body just stopped.

I guess the six to seven hours of sleep I've been averaging each night was not enough post-surgery.  Either that, or the elevated pain level just zapped my energy.

Pain does that.  It has the ability to just suck the life out of you.

Anyway, I slept.

And slept.

And I missed my son's high school Back to School Night because I slept some more.

(I should feel more guilty about that than I do, but he's in high school, not elementary school, so I'm pretty sure I know the routine by now.)

The whole day made me feel pretty old and decrepit.

I realized I need to take much better care of myself for the next couple weeks so my body will be recovered and strong for the next, much bigger, surgery.  Have I mentioned how much I'm dreading it?  Ugh!

This weekend I'm going to rest, make sure to eat healthy, get some light exercise (I'm still really sore from the surgery so I won't be taking on anything too strenuous), and feed my soul by spending some time by the ocean.

What are your plans?

© Twenty Four At Heart

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The 21st Miner

I assume most of you have watched, along with the rest of the world, as the thirty three trapped Chilean miners were rescued from 2,300 feet beneath the ground.

Before The Haters jump in and start telling me I'm a shitty person for writing this post, I'd like to say I was riveted by the story of the miners from start to finish.  I was absolutely thrilled with the rescue of the men.

It was emotional, amazing and just incredible.

Yesterday, a lot of publicity was focused on the fate of Yonni Barrios who was the 21st miner to be rescued from the collapsed mine.

Yonni, as you probably already know, was greeted by his mistress when he emerged from the mine.  As it turns out, Yonni was not the only miner to have both a wife and a mistress, but his story became the most public.

Marta, Yonni's wife of 28 years, just recently discovered he had a mistress.  Prior to the 69 days he was trapped, she had no idea.  After learning of Yonni's indiscretion, Marta chose not to be there to greet Yonni when he popped his shaft out of the shaft.


There is just SO much material here …

Trapped for 69 days.

The mistress (instead of the wife) was waiting for him at the end of his shaft …

Stuff like this is irresistible to my warped sense of humor.

Susana, Yonni's mistress, has apparently been having a relationship with him for over five years.  She greeted him with sobs, kisses, and hugs.  

Yonni seemed a little uncomfortable during her display of emotion.

The greeting by his mistress, with cameras zooming in to capture every moment, seemed a little awkward.

Yonni probably knew his wife was at home watching the exchange on television.

It must be a little strange and uncomfortable for Yonni to have his illicit extramarital affair revealed to the entire world.

Go figure ….

Now, I personally don't care how Yonni chooses to live his life.

Who am I to judge?

I know very little about Yonni, his wife, his mistress, or his life.

I've experienced enough of life to realize not all situations are black and white.

I also wouldn't pretend to know the slightest thing about Yonni's particular love triangle.

I do, however, know Yonni was allowed to choose three people to be present to greet him when he emerged from the mine.

He invited BOTH his wife and his mistress.  

Really, Yonni?


I'm wondering how Yonni expected that to work out?

Who was he going to hug and kiss first?

Apparently his wife, although upset upon learning of his mistress, had initially planned to be there to greet him upon his rescue.  That is – until she found out he had also asked his mistress to be there.  At that point, Marta pretty much told Yonni to fuck off.

My bet is, now that Marta has left Yonni – he'll want her back.

It seems to be human nature to want what we can't have.  If Susana had been the one to tell Yonni to fuck off, he'd probably chase after her.

It isn't easy to love two people at the same time.

Yonni's story made me think.

I thought about what I would do if I were Marta.  I thought about what I would do if I were Susana.  I wondered how often affairs are discovered when one of the involved parties becomes ill, involved in an accident or tragedy, or dies.  

I bet it's actually a pretty common phenomenon …

I also thought about Yonni.  I tried to imagine being him.

I tried to imagine …

And yet, I couldn't.

He asked both his mistress and his wife (who had just found out about his mistress) to come and rejoice together at his rescue.

It's hard for me to imagine being that stoopid.

Clearly, the man must have been oxygen deprived down in the mine.

So tell me, do you think I'm way off base?

What are your thoughts on the situation?

What would you do if you were Marta, Susana or Yonni?

© Twenty Four At Heart

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The Big Nipple Debate

I readily admit, I was a little stressed during the two days preceding my surgery last week. 

My mind was racing.  I had very little notice regarding the timing of the surgery.  I had a lot to do and a short amount of time to get it done.  When I wasn't thinking about my "to do" list, I tried to ease my surgery anxiety by visualizing what the experience would be like.  I've been through so many surgeries since the car accident, I began going through a mental checklist of what things would be similar or dissimilar about this particular experience.

Two nights before my surgery, it occurred to me – putting electrodes on both the front and back of my shoulder and arm would mean being completely uncovered for Dr. Painless.

"I won't have a hospital gown covering my upper body," I realized suddenly.

This realization came to me as a bit of a shock and I felt my cheeks flush in embarrassment. 

I'm not shy about my body and I've had my share of accidental flashing incidents over the years, but this …

This felt different.

I see Dr. Painless on a regular basis.  He wears designer suits and fancy ties.  He's a big shot, world-famous, doctor.  Somehow, his "normal" day-to-day formality made the thought of being topless in front of him even more awkward.

I began airing my anxiety-ridden thoughts to Twitter.

I asked my friends on Twitter if they thought heterosexual male doctors "peeked" at women's nipples given the opportunity to do so during surgery.  I mused that maybe I should draw a smiley face around my right nipple to find out.  (My right arm/shoulder being the one to be operated on.)  If the doc began laughing, or commented, I'd know his eyes had wandered off track.

Then I re-framed my thought and asked Twitter if there were any male surgeons following me, and if so, would they be willing to answer honestly whether or not they "check out" the breasts of their female patients during surgery.

It didn't take long until I got a direct (private) message from a male surgeon in the midwest.  Now, I happen to "know" this particular person and I know he is, in fact, a doctor.  What I'm saying is, for reasons I won't go into right now, I know this is a person I can trust to be honest with me.

His answer?

Yes.  If the opportunity is available, doctors "take a peek."

First of all, I really appreciated this particular person trusting me enough to be honest with me.

Second, I was shocked by his answer although I don't really know why.  

"Looking" is human nature, isn't it?  My Twitter friend wasn't saying doctors "do" anything inappropriate, he just acknowledged if a heterosexual male doctor has a female's breast right in front of him – he's probably going to take a "peek" at it.

I decided I should, in fact, draw a smiley face on my nipple to test out my theory.

Twitter egged me on, of course.  I even had people offering to pay me money simply to draw a face on my right areola/nipple area.  I had visions of a perfect smiley face on my nipple and hearing Dr. Painless burst out laughing mid-surgery.

"Busted for looking!" I imagined myself saying.

I began pondering the merits of the smiley face.  Should it be looking up at the doctor as he worked on my shoulder?  Or should it be facing straight ahead?

Of course, at some point I realized I'd be sedated and miss the surprised look on Dr. Painless's face when he saw my nipple smiling at him.  I convinced myself I'd "know" if he'd seen it when I woke up even if I'd been asleep through the entire smiling-nipple encounter.

Are you amazed at the inner workings of my brain yet?

I think, perhaps, I was cracking under pre-surgery stress.

Or something.

The night before my surgery, the topic came up again on Twitter.  People asked me, "Are you going to do it?"

It was then I realized the only markers I had in the house were "permanent, archival quality" markers.  If I drew a smiley face on my nipple, it wouldn't be coming off any time soon.  I might die fifty years from now with a permanent, archival quality, smiley face still on my nipple.

The idea concerned me greatly.

I tweeted my concern, and the dismal lack of "washable" markers in my house.

Twitter friends began giving me other Nipple Decorating Ideas which included suggestions such as glitter, sparkles, rhinestones and little plastic winking eyes.

OK, so maybe the little plastic winking eyes were MY idea.

I thought it would be hilarious to have plastic winking eyes on my smiling nipple watching Dr. Painless perform surgery.

It was right about then, when I sent out the following tweet:

If I'm not going to have a shirt on at all I really should make matching nipple decorations. Otherwise it would just look weird.

(Because matching smiling/decorated nipples are altogether more normal than just having ONE smiling nipple, right?)

I'd like to clarify …

I was not on pain meds when any of this was taking place.

In the end, simply due to a lack of crafting supplies, I did not decorate my nipple or nipples.

I was disappointed, of course, but I knew if the "trial" of the neurostimulator went well, I'd have another opportunity for surgery-nipple-decorating very soon.

As it turns out, there was an unexpectedly large crowd of people in the operating room with me the next day.  I was glad I hadn't decorated my nipple(s) because if I had – at least 10 people, in addition to Dr. Painless, would have been privvy to my decorating skills.

"Whew! I'm glad I didn't make a smiling nipple after all," I thought as the initial pre-surgery drugs began to kick in.

The room began to swirl and whirl.  I felt punchy and lightheaded.

And that's right when it happened …

I looked up at Dr. Painless and smiled through my giddy, drugged up, haze.  

Then I blurted out, "I was going to surprise you with a smiling nipple today but I didn't have the right kind of markers."

His eyebrows raised questioningly, and then …

Everything went dark.

© Twenty Four At Heart

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Going Wireless

The trial period with my spinal stimulator ended yesterday.  Layers upon layers of bandages and tape were removed, stitches were snipped, bruises were revealed, and wires were extracted. 

Yes, I'm VERY sore as a result – thank you for asking.

It had to be a relatively short trial because of the high risk of infection when wires are hanging out of a person's body.  Although the implant is not a magic bullet, the positives of the unit definitely outweigh the negatives.  I will be moving forward towards receiving a permanent implant.

I was informed, upfront, the implant would not be a cure-all, but I was disappointed anyway to realize I still had some pain even with the electrodes working.  I did, however, find I was taking way FEWER pain meds and sleeping much better at night.  Dr. Painless explained to me the implant is just one weapon in the arsenal against severe chronic pain.  

Neurostimulation won't increase the function of my arm.  It won't make me completely pain free … it's just a tool, but it's my best hope for a more normal life.  During the trial period I had days when I saw a big improvement and other days when it didn't seem to help as much – probably because I also had some surgical pain in the mix.  Apparently, that is a normal experience and my trial came out with a positive result.

I have to heal for two to three weeks from last week's surgery before they can proceed with the second surgery for the permanent implant.  Receiving a permanent stimulator (giggle- yes, I AM a 12 year old boy!) is a much bigger deal than what I just went through.

I'm dreading the whole ordeal.  

I'm also choosing to block the impending surgery and two month recovery out of my mind until I absolutely have to face it head on.

By the way, during the next surgery I will be getting 24 electrodes put into my arm and shoulder.  


My favorite number!

How ironic is that?

Not fifteen, not twenty five or thirty – but TWENTY FOUR.

And no, I had nothing to do with the decision to implant 24 electrodes into my body.  That decision was made by my doctor.

Although it may not seem to be the case, I've always had trouble writing about The Accident and The Recovery.  I don't want to bore you for one thing.  Also, it never endsthere is no ending to the story.  I didn't know that would be the case a year or two ago, but I've (sort of) accepted the reality of it now.

And yet, I do write about the accident and its horrible aftermath, even when it makes me feel uneasy.

For those of you who merely think I like to ramble on and on about it, I'd like to explain why I continue to write about this topic.

Sure, it's therapeutic for me to vent, but mainly …

It's because of The Letters.

I get emails every single week.


The emails come from people all over the world.  People with disabilities.  People with chronic pain.  People who have suffered so much more than I ever have, and some people who feel embarrassed because they HAVEN'T suffered as much as I have.  Some people suffer from depression or mental illness, some people have physical disabilities, some people are dying from terrible, merciless, diseases ….

They write to me and they share their stories with me.  

Every single letter touches me deeply.

I feel those letters.  I do.  

I'm not an expert in chronic pain.

I'm not an expert in being disabled or coping with a disability.

I do, however, know what it feels like to be isolated by a situation you don't have control over.  I've learned to empathize in an entirely different way now.  

I also know what it means to struggle, to fight, to give up, and to try again.

And again … and again.

The people who write to me?

They understand IT too.

They reach out to me, because they know I understand IT.

I hear, time and time again, about how my writing, the mere act of writing publicly, has helped other people in some small way. 

And so …

I continue to write about whatever I'm going through.

To those of you who think, "Oh God, here she goes again," I apologize.

This blog is a mix of many things.  It's me.  It's Orange County.  It's humor.  It's travel.  It's photography.  It's sadness.  It's laughter.  It's my battles and triumphs.  And yes, it's also pain and the ongoing struggle to overcome obstacles.  

It's me.

I'm not everybody's cup of tea – I realize that.  

And now I've explained why this part of my life is one of the topics I continue to write about.  

It's because of The Letters.

The Accident and The Recovery are not my whole life, and they aren't my whole blog.   

To those of you who write and tell me, "If you'd stop thinking about it and just move on with your life, you'd get better," I say -

I hope you, or someone you love, never walks in my shoes.

It's not an easy path to walk.

I'm not everybody's cup of tea …

But – I'm genuine.

Twenty Four At Heart is me.

© Twenty Four At Heart

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My apologies.

Those of you who subscribe to 24 received a, very rough, rough draft on today's post in your Readers before it was intended to go out.  I'd like to blame it on "technical problems," but in fact the problem (technically) was my finger hitting the "publish" button vs. the "draft" button.  Things like this happen when I overdo attempts at multi-tasking.

I'm sorry.

The completed post, as it was meant to be read, is right below this one.  (It's a rare family portrait!)

Thanks for your patience with my human errors – !

I'm very human.  I error a lot.

P.S.  Many of you have written to inquire regarding my health.  I'm doing GREAT!  I've been rebounding from last week's surgery really quickly.  The most frustrating part is the fact that I'm not allowed to do much and I'm going stir crazy.  Um, and also the part about falling asleep every afternoon.  My energy level is lagging.

P.P.S.  I might be getting all the wires removed today.  Yay!

P.P.P.S.  It's killing me not to be able to exercise or use my camera right now.  Hate it!

P.P.P.P.S.  Some of you asked and, no, my husband wasn't mad about the Romeo post.  He thought it was funny.  He "gets" my humor and knows a hawt Expert Stimulator in my life is great blog material I couldn't possibly resist.

P.P.P.P.P.S.  He did offer to attend my next doctor appointment with me, but clearly only because he's concerned about my well being.  (And no, he has never once offered to attend an appointment with me before.)

P.P.P.P.P.P.S.  I told him it really was not at all necessary for him to accompany me.

P.P.P.P.P.P.P.S.  Hahahahahahahahahaha!!  : )

© Twenty Four At Heart

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Family Portrait

I've mentioned before my family doesn't want me sharing photos of them on the Internet.  Never mind, they are all on Facebook sharing way more info than I would ever divulge about them here on 24.  I watch other bloggers share photo after photo of their family and, I admit, I sometimes want to do the same.

Nonetheless, I respect their wishes and I always ask permission before sharing any photos or information they might object to.  

When I first began blogging, I had a few glitches.  

I really didn't think anyone was reading anything I wrote.  I wrote only under the pen name of 24 so I didn't think anyone would ever really know who I was, etc., etc.  But … somewhere along the way people began actually reading my words.  Also, there's the fact that this "column" is now linked to by our local paper (with a daily readership of 600 – 900,000.)  My anonymity went out the window a long time ago.

I even get the occasional troll or just plain off-his-rocker freak stopping by.


I try to be careful.  I don't put many photos up of family members, I don't mention what schools my kids are at, blah, blah, blah.  

When four out of five of us were together in North Carolina a week ago, someone snapped an awesome family photo.  My daughter, TR, wasn't with us but it was easy enough to Photoshop her into the picture and pretend she had been with us the entire time.  I've blocked out the college names on our sweatshirts, but I couldn't resist sharing:


Aren't they charming?

They make me so proud!

© Twenty Four At Heart

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The Perfect Weekend

The weather here has been all over the thermometer during the last two weeks.

This weekend it's perfect!

© Twenty Four At Heart

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A Look Back


I came across this photo from my Boston trip.  I don't know how I missed it when I initially went through my photos.  I've fallen completely in love with it, so I knew I needed to share it with you.

© Twenty Four At Heart

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Romeo, Oh Romeo!

I've fallen in love.  

Well, maybe it isn't really love – but who cares?

And before I tell you this story, I want you to know I can be a cougar in my own mind if I want to.  Especially after a week like this one.

During the hour before my surgery I was hanging out on a gurney in my sexy hospital gown, with my granny panties on, and my hair tucked into a too-hawt-to-handle hospital cap on my head.  After a night of no sleep, I was definitely looking my most awesome best.

A man in surgical scrubs approached me, looked me in the eyes with the sexiest green, smoky, bedroom eyes I've ever seen and said, "Hi.  I'm Romeo and I'll be the one turning you on."


"Promise?!" I laughed, unable to tear my eyes away from the gorgeous hunk of Italian man in front of me.

He blushed.

I sighed.

And no, his name isn't REALLY Romeo … but it might as well be.  (And the above photo isn't really him either – he is SO much hotter!)

We all have our "types," right?  You know, a physical LOOK that makes our heart pitter patter and our mouths drool.

Romeo is IT for me.

Tall, dark, handsome … with dark curls surrounding his rugged, sexy, face.  He has green, intense, eyes that seem to smolder with a glance.  He looks at ease with his nice build … muscular, but not muscle-bound.

Romeo has lots and lots of sexiness wrapped up into one drool-worthy package.


Never mind, Romeo is way too young for me - 

Romeo is cougar-fantasy material and that is all that really matters.

Have I mentioned there was a roomful of people in the operating room with me the other day?

Two surgeons, numerous nurses, an anesthesiologist, other confusing I-don't-know-who-they-were people, and two men from the company that makes the neurostimulator.

Romeo was one of the people in the operating room with me.

You know what that means?

Romeo has already seen me buck naked except for my sexy granny panties.

Romeo works as a stimulator expert.

I kid you not … Romeo is an official Expert Stimulator.

Romeo faithfully calls me at home every night to ask how I'm feeling.

We talk about pulsing sensations and how many batteries I might want to take care of my needs.

Romeo not only told me he would turn me on, he actually did!  

Quite successfully too.

"You made me tingly," I told him yesterday.

"Do you want more?" he asked.

""Yes!" I answered eagerly …….

And that is exactly what my time with Romeo is like.

Sometimes I want to giggle and giggle because – oh, the jokes and innuendos!

Romeo has told me I'm "cute" and that I "have a great laugh."  Clearly, that means we will run away together and spend our lives in green-smoky-eyed bliss.


Yesterday, I spent close to two hours with Romeo.  He turned me on repeatedly.  Sometimes the feelings were more intense; sometimes the feelings built slowly.  Once or twice, things got a little more intense than I could handle.

"Do you want me to slow down?" he asked.

"Maybe just a little," I answered.

"Are you sore?" he answered, concerned.

"No, it's okay.  I like it," I reassured him.

Today, Romeo and I are getting together again.  This time he said he'd show me three NEW ways to be turned on.

"I can make you feel all different types of sensations," he confided.

Romeo, Oh Romeo ….

© Twenty Four At Heart