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And The Shrink Really Did Have A Couch!

On Monday I met with a pain psychologist.

The meeting was a required step by my medical insurance in order to proceed along the path towards having a bionic arm.  (You remember the evil Anthem Blue Cross, right?)

A bionic arm will match my bionic nipples and make me into, basically, a Bionic Woman.

That has to be a good thing, right?

For the purpose of today's post I will call the pain psychologist Dr. Shrink.

I have a confession to make.  I am, perhaps, the only person in Southern California who doesn't have a therapist (which is not to say my crazy-ass couldn't use one).  

I had never been to a psychologist's office before and I was a little nervous.  

Oh, there was the day when I found out I was going to have my third and WORST surgery.  I called a friend who is a professional "counselor."  I was sobbing uncontrollably and he agreed to calm my ass down.  He did a great job of it too.  Really, he and The Torturer are the ones that got me through that surgery.

But a full-fledged psychologist?

No … this visit was a first.

I almost laughed when I walked in.

There was a REAL couch! 

I thought The Counseling Couch was just something we see in movies?

I guess not.

"Why are you here?" Dr. Shrink asked right off the bat.

"I was in a car accident about four years ago.  There have been six surgeries …. and now they are going to try implanting electrodes …."

He asked me questions.

I answered.

I was a little nervous and shy.

This man was, after all, getting paid to analyze me, my pain, how I'm holding up mentally and emotionally.

It felt kind of weird to be there.

I had a sudden urge to blurt out inappropriate things like:

"Sometimes I have really bad days is that okay or not?"

Or -

"Am I showing too much cleavage to be in a shrink's office?"

Or -

"I'm all right today, but I was curled in a ball whimpering in pain a week ago."

Or -

"Even my physical therapist rejected me – I must be really fucked up!"

But I didn't.

(BTW, having your physical therapist, who also happens to be your good friend, reject you leaves deep and lasting scars.)

I answered Dr. Shrink's questions honestly and I hoped he wouldn't declare me bat-shit crazy.

After we talked for awhile, he showed me the device which will most likely be implanted into my body.  (Nothing is definite still; there are many steps to this process.)  We talked about it at length.  He explained the realities of the surgeries (two of them) and I asked questions.  It was both informative and reassuring.

There were a few notable moments for me in my "session."

First, there was no doubt in my mind Dr. Shrink UNDERSTANDS.

I can never find the words to express this adequately, but living with a lot of pain is similar to living alone.  It's extremely isolating.  No one in my immediate world "understands."  They can't – and I wouldn't want them to.  To understand means to live with pain that is always, always, there.  When I come across someone who I know DOES get it - it's calming to my soul.  It's a moment, however brief, of NOT being alone.

Dr. Shrink asked how the accident, and living in pain since, has affected my marriage.  I wasn't expecting the question and I was momentarily speechless.

I knew, in an instant, he comprehended everything I didn't say.

Chronic pain damages everything in its path.

When he asked what I do in the way of exercise and physical activity.  I explained what I can and can't do with an aside of, "My physical therapist wanted me to … but  …."  He replied, "Most physical therapists are trained to treat acute pain, not chronic pain."

Just like that I was absolved from leftover guilt from not being able to do everything everyone else thinks I should be able to do.

He understood.

In fact, all his questions made me feel like I'm doing really well despite all the obstacles the last four years have brought.

Have I ever mentioned how much I beat myself up for not being stronger, handling things better, being a better mom, a better wife, the inspiring person I wish I could be?

My time with Dr. Shrink also made me realize it would have benefited me A LOT to have seen a pain psychologist when I was going through surgery after surgery.  I wish I had.  I might not have felt as alone.  I might not have constantly asked, "Why me?"

I don't think I even knew pain psychologists existed at the time.  I certainly had no idea how to find one.  Also, I was so drugged up from all the surgeries, I don't think it ever occurred to me.

It's a little sobering to realize if I had had Dr. Painless and Dr. Shrink in my life three or four years ago … hell might not have been nearly as hellish as it has been.

But?

Bygones.

Of course, no visit with me can go without a few "24 moments."

Towards the end of my visit with Dr. Shrink I had to take a written test.  

Seriously!  

It was several pages long.  The purpose of the written test was to assess my pain level and also my state of mind.  (As an example, it asked how I see my future and one of the possible answers was along the lines of "I don't have one.")

Happily, I'm not suicidal.

Somehow, the taking of the test evolved into a discussion of pens and – without thinking (as usual?!), I handed Dr. Shrink a pen of mine.

It had "Twenty Four At Heart" and my website address engraved on it.

BAD MOVE!

Do I really want a psychologist who is in the process of writing a report evaluating my mental health perusing the archives of Twenty Four At Heart?  Or for that matter, reading about my brazilian bikini waxes?

I think not.

He promised not to come visit here until he finished writing my evalutation report at the end of the day.

** Waving to Dr. Shrink! **

Aack!

© Twenty Four At Heart 

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Surfing Contest

On Saturday I watched part of the Hurley Pro Surfing Contest at Trestles Beach.

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It was a beautiful day and the waves were big.  

There could be no confusion as to who sponsored the competition because Hurley was everywhere you looked – even on big buoys out in the water.

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(You're welcome for the free advertising Hurley.  Do you see the PayPal button on my sidebar?  Feel free to activate it!)

Just kidding – they can send a check, don't ya think?

There was a heavy rip current, but that didn't stop endless numbers of surfers from enjoying the day.

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Flags on the sand marked the boundaries for the competition.

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Personally, I've never had any desire to surf.

It sure is a lot of fun to watch though (especially when there are really great surfers out in the water to entertain me).

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They were amazing!

© Twenty Four At Heart

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Sailing

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Lyrics by Christopher Cross (remember him?)

It's not far down to paradise
At least it's not for me
And if the wind is right you can sail away
And find tranquility
The canvas can do miracles
Just you wait and see
Believe me

It's not far to never never land
No reason to pretend
And if the wind is right you can find the joy
Of innocence again
The canvas can do miracles
Just you wait and see
Believe me

Sailing
Takes me away
To where I've always heard it could be
Just a dream and the wind to carry me
And soon I will be free

Fantasy
It gets the best of me
When I'm sailing
All caught up in the reverie
Every word is a symphony
Won't you believe me

It's not far back to sanity
At least it's not for me
And when the wind is right you can sail away
And find serenity
The canvas can do miracles
Just you wait and see
Believe me

© Twenty Four At Heart

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Being Blonde

I hate to perpetuate blonde stereotypes, especially when I pride myself on being an intelligent woman.  However, I seem to have had another "blonde moment."

(Note:  Intelligence and a knack for doing stupid things are two entirely separate characteristics.)  

I recently found myself receiving a FREE brand new vacuum, valued at about $500, and it's all because I wanted a gumball.

Seriously!

And no … this is NOT a product review blog post – it's a look-at-how-stupid-I-can-be post.  

Let me start at the beginning …..

In the months prior to the BlogHer conference each year, party after party is announced.  Many of the parties are open to everyone on a first-come, first-serve basis.  (There are only so many people any single venue can accommodate.) 

Long story short, this year I attended a party put on by The Mouthy Housewives (which seems only fitting when you think about it).  The party was held in a club a few blocks from the hotel in New York.  

It was a very nice party.

The thing is, as soon as I entered the party I noticed the cutest, most adorable, little plastic vacuum cleaners used as centerpieces on all the tables.  Each plastic "toy" vacuum cleaner was a gumball dispenser.  They were filled with colorful gumballs and if you pushed on the handle of the toy vacuum, gumballs would come out the bottom of it.

So cute!

So clever!

I wanted to snatch one right off the table and run out of the club with it just so I could show everyone how cute it was.

Just as I was appraising whether or not I could steal one (kidding – sorta!), one of my friends came up to chat with me.  

"Look at the vacuums!" I said enthusiastically.

Have I mentioned it was very LOUD in the club?

Loud music, lots of people talking …. party noise.

"You can get one!" she answered.

"I can get one?" I asked excitedly.  Visions of walking back to the hotel with a vacuum gumball dispenser under my arm danced through my head.

"Yes – for FREE!" she exclaimed.

Wow … a free, adorable, gumball dispenser!  SWAG baby!

I was thrilled.

"Just go fill out a card with that woman in the back corner," she yelled across the party noise.

Well, you don't have to tell me twice.

What?  You think I don't know a good opportunity when I see one?

I walked back to a smiling woman in the corner of a room.  

"Hi!" I said.

"I heard I get a FREE vacuum!"

She looked a little taken aback.

"Well … yes."

"Can I take one of these?" I asked, pointing to the three gumball dispensers sitting on the table in front of me.

"You want one of the gumball dispensers?" she asked hesitatingly.

"Yes!" I said excited for the cute toy.

"They're all over the room, on all the tables.  You can take one from anywhere," she said confused.

Did I mention there was a lot of party noise?

I was wondering why my friend told me to go get a vacuum from this woman who was telling me I could have taken one from any table in the room.

"Can you fill out one of these cards?" she asked.

Ahhh … I see.  She DID want something from me.

And so, I filled out a card asking for my blog name, home address and a little other information.  

You have to understand, every vendor you run into at BlogHer wants a business card and/or your contact information so they can contact you later.  Filling out a card in order to get swag is not at all unusual.

As I was filling out the card she asked, "Would you like to see how the vacuum works?"

It was then, as an aside, I noticed she had a full size, real,  LG vacuum cleaner with her.

To humor her I laughed and answered, "Well, sure you can show me but only if it's good at picking up dog hair."

Once again, she looked a little taken aback by my words but she quickly smiled and replied, "It's GREAT with dog hair."

As I filled out my information card, she demonstrated the vacuum cleaner.  As soon as I was done with the card, I smiled and said, "Now can I have one?"

She paused, baffled, and looked at me.

I pointed to the gumball dispensers in front of her.

"I'm so excited about these, am I allowed to take one now?"

"Um, sure – of course!" she answered.

I grabbed one and ran before she could change her mind.

I was SO excited!

Later that night I walked back to the hotel with my friend.  She asked if I had filled out a card for a free vacuum and I gleefully showed her my gumball dispenser.

"Yes, I did!" I smiled.

The next morning I ran into two of the party organizers at Starbucks.  I chatted gleefully about the cute gumball dispenser I had walked away with the night before.

"You do know you're getting a new LG vacuum sent to your house, don't you?" they asked.

My jaw dropped.

"I get a REAL vacuum?" I asked.  Visions of my conversations the night before ran through my head.  I began blushing when I realized how odd our conversation must have seemed to the vacuum lady.

"Yes!  In 4-6 weeks a new, LG vacuum will be delivered to your house."

And guess what?

It was!

© Twenty Four At Heart

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A(nother) Humiliating Moment

**  A big thank you to everyone who participated in my calendar giveaway contest.  The winner of the contest is:


Frame

Congratulations Deidre!  Please email me with the mailing address you'd like your calendar sent to.  

If you didn't win, but you'd like to buy a calendar – you can do so by clicking on the "Buy Now" PayPal button in my sidebar.  **

I'm behind on story sharing due to my travel and resulting bad pain flare up.

Nonetheless, have I got stories to tell!

Today, I'm going to share with you a very humiliating moment, but (for once!) it's not my humiliating moment.  I do, however, have permission to share this incident – although, I'm going to thinly disguise a few details and change a few minor facts to protect the humiliated innocent.

If you've been reading here for any length of time, you've heard me mention my good friend, Nike.  Nike and I have been friends for a long, long, time.  Nike and I have a lot of things in common.  Neither one of us is a "girly-girl," we both have an affinity for jeans and t-shirts, we have very similar senses of humor, etc., etc.

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(Photo:  Giggling uncontrollably with Nike last spring.)

Nike and I are also very different.  She's much more together than I am.  And by together, I mean she isn't the one flashing her panty-less ass at people when we spend a day at the races.  Nike is the one shaking her head at my antics in wonder and bemused astonishment.

Except?

Except maybe I'm starting to rub-off on Nike.

About a year ago, one of Nike's friends talked her into doing a little work as an "extra."  We do live in Southern California afterall.  A lot of TV and movie filming goes on here and it can be fun to pick up a little additional cash by being an "extra" (background person) in a TV series or movie.

Recently, Nike was called to be an extra on a very popular, multi-Emmy-winning, TV show.  I can't tell you the name of it, but it might rhyme with Sad Ben.

* Ahem *

As it turns out, the day Nike needed to be on the set was the heaviest day of her period.  As in, she wanted to be at home – tampons nearby, with a bathroom close by to take care of matters every hour as needed. 

Instead, Nike had a marathon day of driving to and from L.A., dressing in costume, having her makeup and hair done, and spending hours standing around a set.

By the way, one of the stars of Sad Ben is a man named Don Lamm and she tells me he's drop-dead gorgeous in person.  Nike gets flustered just talking about him, and that's not like Nike at all. 

Apparently, in person, he's too-hot-to-handle gorgeous.  

Just in case you were wondering …..

Nike was very concerned about making it through the day without Aunt Flo causing major problems.  To alleviate some of her stress, she packed a ton of feminine hygiene products to take with her.  (Everything she could think of, in fact, so she could avoid a potentially embarrassing situation.) 

Once Nike was in costume, she was handed a purse as part of her outfit for filming.  She waited for an opportunity and then discreetly stuffed the purse with tampons, pads, and pads with WINGS on them.  You might say Nike overcompensated a little by bringing an entire drugstore a lot of products in her effort to avoid a situation.

Not long after, Nike was on the set of Sad Ben saying hi to gorgeous Don Lamm and doing what people do while filming a TV show.

Time passed.

Nike was getting a little nervous about getting a break in time to take care of things.

More time passed. 

Nike's concern and stress level was increasing. 

Then, one of the women in charge noticed something about Nike.  She approached Nike and informed her there was something wrong. 

"You're holding the purse as a clutch, but I want you to use the purse handle and hold it on your arm," she told Nike.

Nike, thinking she was supposed to use the purse as a clutch, had previously tucked the small chain handle into the purse before closing it.

Before she could respond, The Woman In Charge took the purse from Nike's hand and opened it to retrieve the handle.

Tampons, pads and WINGED pads went flying all over the set!

The Woman In Charge looked at Nike's multi-item collection scattered across the floor and said in a loud, shocked, voice, "Oh!  You're on your period!"

Ya know, just in case anyone present had missed the fact that feminine hygiene products were now strewn across the very set they were in the process of filming.

Everyone then proceeded to help Nike collect the tampons, pads, and pads with wings so she could hastily stuff them back in her purse.

I asked Nike when this particular episode of Sad Ben will be airing.  I realize her humiliating moment will be edited out of the scene, but of course I want to see her on TV.

She won't tell me!  

She is THAT embarrassed.

For some reason, however, she did allow me to share her story here on 24 with several thousand of you.

I'm going to Tivo every episode of the show so I don't miss seeing her.

If you watch Sad Ben?

Look for Nike.

She tells me they gave her really Big.Hair.

© Twenty Four At Heart

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I’m On A Roll And It Isn’t Drug Induced

* My 2011 calendar giveaway contest is open until 8 p.m. tonight Pacific time.  You can click here to enter. *

Bloggers sometimes get writer's block.

I've been having the opposite problem lately.  So much has been going on, I have so many stories to share – but not enough time to write them up.

And then, just watch … tomorrow I'll have writer's block and forget everything inside my head.

In the meantime, I feel an overwhelming urge to share the following – very random – tidbits with you:

•  Orange County is BREATHTAKINGLY beautiful right now.  Come visit!

•  Steroids are my miracle drug!  Can you say R-E-L-I-E-F?

•  As of yesterday, the doc has taken me OFF my miracle drug – steroids are also dangerous.

•  My pain level is already ramping back up.

•  Fuck pain.

•  Surprisingly (!!), a lot of you like are pirates.

•  I'm a pervert magnet.  Yes, I am.

•  Just ask your local perv and he will tell you how great he thinks I am.

•  Trust me, he knows me – even though I probably hopefully don't know him.

•  I wasn't calling those of you who like are pirates – perverts.  

•  Perverts and pirates are two separate things.  

•  Most of the time.  

•  I think.

•  Dr. Painless and I had a very unusual conversation yesterday about implanting stimulating electrodes in people's bodies.

•  I'm in the waiting-for-insurance-approval stage for my personal, built-in, stimulators.

•  Yes, the vibrating electrodes conversation with Dr. Painless did take a downhill turn.

•  Would you expect anything different from the likes of me?

•  Sometimes, in my writing, I say I'm "disabled."

•  I always use quotes around the word, because there's so much wrong with using the word disabled to describe a human being.

•  Also, I don't REALLY think the word applies to me.

•  And yet, at the same time, I know it does.

•  When a doctor calls me disabled – in a very matter of fact, this-is-reality, manner – I flinch.

•  The words hurt and I think they always will.

•  I've recently signed a Blogger Agreement with Cheerios.

•  They, for some unknown reason, find me "inspirational."

•  On a separate note, there are a lot of people with disabilities and chronic pain who need a voice.

•  I don't pretend to be a spokesperson for anyone but myself.

•  I'm not a great role model either.

•  I am, however, happy to use my voice to help others if I can.

•  I hope I can.

© Twenty Four At Heart

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Yo Ho Ho!

** I will be giving away one Twenty Four At Heart 2011 Calendar this week.  You can click here to get details/enter to win.  **

I really, really, needed to get out of the house last weekend.  On Sunday afternoon, I dragged Briefcase off the couch and down to one of the local harbors where there was a "Tall Ships" festival going on.  

You know, the real old sailing vessels?  

Those.

I took my camera, but I limited myself to taking just a few photos.  I'm more than a little afraid of going back to the depths of hell when things are just beginning to improve pain-wise.

Tallships The ships were beautiful, the crowds were huge, and there were men and women in pirate attire all over the place.

I have to admit, I wasn't expecting pirates.

Perhaps, I should have done some research before attending?

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Apparently, an entire pirate sub-culture exists.  

Who knew?

I feel a tangent coming on ….

A pirate tangent.

(I'm using immense amounts of willpower not to write words like lass and smartly and lubber.)

Although, let's be honest – it is REALLY tempting to go off on a tangent about the pirate sub-culture. (Would I immediately find myself with thousands of pirate enemies?)  

Arrrrrgh!

Anyway ….

I was talking to Briefcase when all of a sudden I got that feeling you get when you just KNOW someone is watching you.

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Apparently, someone red was very curious about my camera with all its shiny parts.

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So yes, I stood there and talked to two parrots for (quite) awhile.  I let them get their fill of staring at my shiny camera.  I explained to them what it was and then I asked them what they were eating.  They had toys to keep them amused, but they mainly seemed interested in finding out more about me.

Do other people talk to random birds at pirate Tall Ship Festivals?

Or is it just me?

Briefcase stood nearby watching me, like … "Really?  Don't even think about bringing home a parrot." 

To be honest, it might have crossed my mind for just a fleeting moment.

They were very personable!

Also, I hate to admit it, but it's been a long time since anyone has worked quite so hard to charm me.

ParHeart

© Twenty Four At Heart

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2011 Calendars and Giveaway!!

I've completed the 2011 Twenty Four At Heart Calendar.

Yay me!

Making a calendar is easy, setting it up so people all over the world can buy it online – at an affordable price – is not.

I'm very proud of this year's calendar.  Every photo in it has appeared on Twenty Four At Heart at some point during the year.  Many of the photos included are the top sellers from my photo website.

To get you psyched up, I will be giving away a calendar to one reader this week.  Just enter a comment on today's post.  I will use the Random Integer Generator to pick the winner.  Entries will be open until Wednesday evening at 8 p.m., Pacific time.  The winner will be announced on Thursday.

I've made a collage of the photos you'll find inside this year's calendar.  The photo you see in the center of the collage is on the outside cover, the other 12 photos appear on the individual, monthly, pages.

Calendar
 

I only have a limited number of calendars available and they will be sold on a first come – first serve basis.  They make a beautiful, affordable, gift also.  If you don't win the calendar in my giveaway, I hope you'll consider purchasing one for yourself or someone you love.  

(Don't you want to start knocking people off your holiday gift list?)

The calendars are available for purchase for $20 (plus a $3 shipping fee).

I've added a PayPal button on my sidebar, right above the "About Me" button, to make the whole process as simple as possible.

And yes, you may order calendars if you live outside of the United States.

Good luck in the contest!

Ready, set ……. go!!

© Twenty Four At Heart