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Resting Might Get (Very) Expensive

I readily admit, I'm not the greatest patient.

I'm not a big TV watcher, I like to be doing stuff not sitting around ….

I get restless immediately easily.

I do, however, love my laptop.  I'm a geek, a nerd, a frustrated techy.

So, already – one week into this "recovery" stuff, I find myself turning to my laptop and asking it to keep me busy.

Unfortunately, if yesterday is any indication, I'm going to go broke in a week day.

* Ahem *

Online shopping, anyone?

I've already instigated a self-imposed rule.  I won't buy  one.more.thing  unless it's a holiday gift for someone on my list.

Why?

Because yesterday I splurged and bought myself a point and shoot camera online.

And no, not a cheap one.

Yes, I DO currently have a point and shoot camera but it's old and outdated and the photo quality is poor.  A camera is like oxygen to my soul – dramatic, but true.  The best way for me to stay sane through the next several weeks is going to be by taking photos.  I realize there isn't a point and shoot out there that can match the quality of my Canon 7D, but I knew I could do much better quality-wise if I upgraded my current pocket camera.

So, um, yeah ….

Rationalization, much?

I bought the Canon PowerShot S95.

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It's due to arrive on my doorstep on Friday, and I hope to be taking my first photos with it this weekend.

I frequently get emails from people inquiring regarding camera recommendations.  The right camera depends on many factors and there's not "one" perfect answer for everyone.

I chose the S95 primarily for these reasons:

•  Very simply put, I couldn't find a small point and shoot on the market that would be able to match its picture capabilities or quality.  I need a very small, and lightweight, camera because of the surgery I just had.  The S95 weighs only 6 oz./170g.

•  It shoots in RAW and JPEG.  I realize most of you could care less about being able to shoot in RAW, but I'm thrilled.

•  It's designed to perform well in low-light situations.  That's why it's a 10 megapixel vs. a 12 or 14 … less noise in low light situations.  (More is not always better regarding megapixels!)  After I'm done "recovering" I will mainly be using this camera in situations where I can't easily take my 7D.  (Think – out to dinner with friends, evenings out, etc. – situations where lighting will be less than ideal.)

•  It has Image Stabilization which, even in a lightweight camera, will be important with my weak arm.

•  It has 26 modes to shoot in, giving me a lot of flexibility which I will be craving until I can get my 7D back into my hands again.

Do I feel guilty buying something expensive for myself?

Yes, I do – very much so.

Do I really believe this camera will be the key to keeping me sane through my two month recovery?

Yes, I really, truly, do.

It may sound ridiculous to some of you, but this little camera is going to be my lifeline to normalcy.  I can't wait until I can take short, leisurely, recovery-type walks and take my new toy with me.

Yeah, I know – I'm a photo geek ….

© Twenty Four At Heart

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Squeamish? Come Back Tomorrow!

* This is the post where I lose all my readers.  If you're squeamish, skip this post and please come back to visit tomorrow! *

I'm making baby steps in this whole post-car-accident surgery medical mess.

For instance, today I'm allowed to take my first shower!

Woo Hoo!

(I've been bathing in a half inch of water in our bathtub up to this point and washing my hair one handed in the kitchen sink.)

It's all about baby steps …

Each small step is a milestone – minor to you, but huge to me.

Yesterday, I drove myself to the doctor.  It was my first outing and, in reality, I was in no shape to be driving but I needed to get there – and I did.  

Baby steps.

My bandages were removed.  My stitches will dissolve on their own, in time.  They're covered with surgical glue so I can shower now.

My shoulder looks like this right now:

Shoulder1w

The electrodes were turned on yesterday and I have one, beginning, program they run on.  

As time goes on, I will have multiple programs.  Right now my body is still healing and sensitive from the surgery.  I will be getting "tweaks" to the programs and the strength of them for probably a few months to come.  (I think they told me I will be up and running 100% at the five month point … it will take awhile to get the full benefits of the system.)

I have incisions down my back where the wires were "tunneled" down, and around, to my abdomen.  I have no photos of those to share with you.  Some of you love science and medical stuff and WANT to see this stuff.  Others of you definitely do not.  I understand BOTH types of people!

The right side of my tummy looks like this:

ABD1w
My skin looks yellow in the above photo because it's stained from the iodine they used on me during surgery.  Inside that tummy incision is a "pocket" my doctor made where the generator (little computer!) is.  It tells the electrodes in my shoulder what to do.  I can turn it on and off by using a little remote that goes right through my skin.  Kind of like a TV remote … but smaller.

The technology is amazing!

This is the good news ….

The day prior to having the electrodes turned on, I took five pain pills to get through the day.  Yesterday, with the electrodes working – I took only two!  Keep in mind, today is only my sixth day post-surgery.  Also, the electrodes don't help the surgical pain in my abdomen which has been significant.  As I heal, I expect my need for pain medication to decrease even further.

I can't wait!

The very bad news?

It is going to take me weeks to do a "gradual step down" of all the steroids I had to be put on due to the allergic reaction/medical screw up that took place.  The steroids make me feel like crap and I had hoped to be off them within a week.  Instead, it will take another three full weeks to be "weaned" off them.  (It's dangerous to stop taking them cold turkey, I guess.)  

That means another three weeks of feeling like crap on them.  Yes, it does make me angry that I'm going through this and shouldn't be.  I do hope to hear that whoever's incompetence is responsible for my misery has been fired.  I'd fire them personally if I could.

Sorry if I seem bitter, but I could have died due to the "mistake" made.  I've been through a hell of a lot in the last four and a half years … I didn't need someone's incompetence to nearly kill me during a "safe" surgery.  

Nothing like adding misery to the miserable!

Ok, off my soapbox ….

The other, not so great – but expected – piece of the puzzle is I have to be very sedentary for the next eight weeks.  I knew it going in, but once I start feeling a bit better it's going to be really hard NOT to do stuff.  The electrodes, the wires, the generator … they all need scar tissue to form around them to hold them perfectly in place.  If I do more than I should do – they will become displaced.  The last thing I need is to have another surgery to fix them.

So, I will have to find ways to entertain myself in sedentary ways for the next two months.  No lifting, no exerting … not much of anything.  I suppose I will get caught up on movies, and reading, and do my holiday shopping online this year.  

Time will pass, and everything will get better.

When January rolls around, I hope to find an indoor pool and get back to my daily swims.  I may upgrade my very old point and shoot camera in the next week or two so I can take some decent photos over the next two months.  I'm not sure when I'll be cleared to use my DSLR again, but I know it's too heavy to use for quite awhile.

In the meantime, if you have favorite websites for shopping, good movies to suggest, great music I might be interested in, wonderful books you've loved – I'd love to hear about all of it.  

Today is definitely better than yesterday -

Tomorrow, I know, will be even better.

© Twenty Four At Heart

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Last Tuesday

While I'm trying to recover from the misery known as Car Accident Surgery #8 and Major Allergic Reaction Due to Medical Team's Screw Up, I've been going through photos.  It gives me something to do other than sit around having a pity party.

I realized I haven't yet shared with you the crazy day of my birthday, last Tuesday.  It already seems like ages ago.

I woke up Tuesday morning, bleary-eyed, and wandered downstairs to my kitchen for a cup of coffee.  I was met by a room filled with black balloons.

Balloons1w
Briefcase thinks he's funny.

To make up for his "black" humor, he also had a dozen yellow roses waiting for me.

YRoses1w

Shortly after, I drove to Burke Williams Spa for a morning of pampering.  I have a monthly membership with them so I can have someone work on my arm/shoulder/surrounding muscles.  This trip was all about pampering though and it was wonderful.  I had an Emilee's Intrigue.  If you ever have the opportunity to enjoy this wonderful treatment, I highly recommend it.

My plan was to enjoy my morning at the spa, stop into our local mall to shop for a pair of boots with birthday money sent by my parents, and then do some necessary last minute errands before the next morning's surgery.

Instead, Nike surprised me with a text message saying she and Dee were going to meet me at the mall and help me shop for boots and then take me to lunch.  Fun!

With help from both my friends, I ended up buying some black, suede, boots at Banana Republic.

Br779391-00p01v01

I thought Nike, Dee and I would grab a quick bite at one of the many restaurants at the mall.  They had other plans ….

I was kidnapped!  Yep, they took me away for the entire afternoon without my permission and we had so much fun!  (What errands?  What responsibilities?)

We started at Las Brisas which is a beautiful Mexican restaurant in Laguna Beach.

Here's the view from inside the restaurant; we, however, ate outside on the patio.

LB1w
** All photos taken with my little pocket camera – not the greatest photo quality. **

Lunch began with Pomegranate Margaritas.

Marg1w
Honestly, these drinks were one of the most delicious things I've ever tasted.

And STRONG!

I was drunk on one … but did I stop drinking after one?  No, I did not.

There were also gifts!

Gifts1w
Feeling more than a little tipsy, we decided to go for a walk on the beach.  Except, it was a beautiful, very warm, day.  In our inebriated state, walking didn't seem like quite enough.

"Let's go for a swim!" I called out – clowning around as usual.

Run2w
You do know not to ever go in the ocean drunk, right?  

Do as I say, not as I do …

Wave1w
Knocked right on my ass by a wayward wave!

By the way, I can't show you photos of Nike and Dee because they took off their clothes and went swimming in their underwear right on Laguna Main Beach.  Isn't that something you'd expect from me?  But no, I was the conservative one who swam with jeans and a t-shirt on.  I really don't recommend swimming in jeans – so uncomfortable!  (I also don't recommend posting photos on the Internet of your friends swimming in their panties and bras!)

Did I mention I had too much tequila?

And that I had so much fun?

Water1
I laughed, and laughed, and laughed all afternoon.

What a fun, wonderful, crazy – but beautiful birthday.

OSetW
© Twenty Four At Heart

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A Week Ago

A week ago I was here:

VBch1-aW
Victoria Beach in the city of Laguna

© Twenty Four At Heart

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Forrest Gump

I noticed a Bubba Gump Shrimp Co. restaurant on the Santa Monica Pier when I was visiting a couple weeks ago.  

Bubba1w

I've visited this chain of restaurants in the past, but this time I noticed something different right outside the front door.

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The sign in the above photo is permanently fixed to a bench.

But that isn't all ….

Bench2w

Forrest's shoes, suitcase, and box of candy are also permanent fixtures.

Seeing this?

Made my day.

Sometimes it's the little things ….

© Twenty Four At Heart

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Appraising the Waves

I'm not doing well.

I hate to be a downer, but since I was rushed to the ER yesterday I've really been struggling. 

I've got high pain from the surgery, my whole body itches unmercifully, my face is red and swollen from the allergic reaction … ugh!  My eyes are swollen nearly shut.  I look like a monster leftover from Halloween.  If you've ever experienced a severe, life-threatening allergic reaction, you understand how horrible it makes you feel.

And why?

Because someone really blew it and ignored my medical chart and the hospital warning bracelet I wore during my surgery.  This process wouldn't have been fun anyway, but now it's just off the charts miserable.  I guess I'm lucky.  I'm so highly allergic to the medication they used, I easily could have died.

Lucky me ….

At this point, it's just a matter of waiting it out.  The allergy symptoms will take days, possibly over a week, to subside.  I'm taking all the meds I can and … I'm waiting.  

The surgical pain will ease with time too.  I'm trying to take it minute by minute and just get through it.  Time seems to be moving incredibly slow.

When I'm not asleep, I'm trying to distract myself by going through some of the many photos I took over the last two weeks.

I took this photo of a group of teen boys appraising the waves last weekend.  I love it.  I also relate to it.  I feel like that's exactly what I've been doing the past few days ….  appraising the waves.

AppraisingW
© Twenty Four At Heart

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Rushed to the ER

Before dawn this morning (Thursday), I was rushed to the hospital emergency room with a severe allergic reaction to some of the medication used on me yesterday, during surgery.

It's been a scary, nerve-wracking, awful day.

I now sit with an epi-pen by my side.

The hospital wanted to admit me because they can't seem to make the reaction go away, although it is slightly (?) better than when I went in.  In time, the doc agreed to let me go home but he was reluctant to put it mildly.

This isn't fun, and it IS scary.

I'll hopefully be back by Monday with regular posts.

In the meantime, expect to see short, little, updates like this.

Although, the doctors are "trying to get to the bottom of what happened," they suspect a nurse used a medication that was clearly marked on my chart as one I'm highly allergic too.  In addition, it was marked on my hospital bracelet in bold letters.

I'm in bad shape and miserable.

Hope to be back to regular posts soon …..

© Twenty Four At Heart

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Surgery #8

How sad is it that I have to refer to my car accident surgeries by number in order to keep them all straight?

I won't lie.

I'm hurting.  

A lot.  

I'm also having an allergic reaction to one of the medications I was given.

Can you say miserable?

I've been told yesterday's surgery to implant the neurostimulator went well.  I now have 24 (twenty four!) electrodes in my shoulder.  Sixteen electrodes are in the front of my shoulder and eight are in the back.  I have wires inside my body traveling the length of my torso.  

The wires end at the generator.

Rechargeable_systems

I borrowed the above photo off the St. Jude Medical website.

The generator, which is sort of like a pacemaker for my arm, is implanted in my abdomen.

It's nice to know my leftover baby pouch (read:  tummy fat!) is being put to good use.  (Kind of like a kangaroo's pouch?)  The generator in my abdomen won't be visible once I'm healed.  I'll be able to walk around naked and no one will know how bionic I am.

There's nothing quite like a naked, bionic, woman – right?

The generator normally goes in the back of a person's hip, but since I can't move my bum arm to reach BACK at all, having it on my hip wouldn't work for me.  Thus, Dr. Painless put it in my abdomen.  The battery is rechargeable, and needs to be recharged regularly, right through my skin.  I have to be able to reach, with my disabled arm, the area where it's located.  

The technology involved in this device is astounding.

In a couple days, I'll be turned on.

(Ha!  Don't you wish you could count on being turned on too?)

Right now the device isn't programmed.  Which means it isn't working yet.

Once the stimulator is programmed, I'll be able to control it with a small remote.

Programmer

The remote is small enough to fit easily in a purse.  It will allow me to control the strength and type of sensations I feel in my shoulder and arm.  Amazing, isn't it?

I have a home nurse coming to the house every afternoon for a few days.  She seems very nice.  I didn't know she was part of the deal, but Dr. Painless ordered her for me.

My shoulder and shoulder blade (and back) hurt quite a bit.  That's to be expected, of course.  That's where the electrodes and wires were put in.  

The more intense pain, however, is coming from the battery pack itself which is in my abdomen.  Every time I sit, or stand, or move – the movement uses my abdominal muscles.  (I didn't even think I had any abdominal muscles, but apparently I do and they're protesting loudly to all this surgery/generator/foreign object in my body stuff.)

So yep, that's where the worst pain is – not in my arm or shoulder, but in my stomach.  I'm sure it will ease up in a few days.

I hope.

I'm very tired from the anesthesia, etc.  I slept most of yesterday.

In other words, mentally I'm a bit flaky and fading in and out.

I'm swearing a lot whenever I have to move because – sheeeeeet it hurts!  It's also difficult to find any position I can get semi-comfortable in.  Sitting up hurts, laying down hurts, standing hurts … basically I just hurt right now.  I know it will be better soon.

I did want to give you an update though and let you know I'm okay.  After all, I don't think this surgery would have happened without your help.  By the way, everyone on my medical team is quite proud and amazed by your efforts too.  It's all they were talking about during my pre-surgery time yesterday.

You, dear readers, are the very best!

© Twenty Four At Heart

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The Surf & Sand Resort

* Thank you everybody for all the birthday wishes yesterday.  I had a great day and I'll tell you all about it soon.  (Tequila might have been VERY involved!)  *

Today I'm having Car Accident Surgery #8.  While you go about your day, I'll be getting sliced open at 6 a.m. this morning.  (Why do they always schedule surgeries for so damn early in the morning?)  The good thing about an early surgery is that it will also be over early in the day.  I'll put an update out on Twitter later today when I'm able.  If you don't follow me on Twitter but want to hear how I'm doing, you can come here to 24, click on the "Follow Me on Twitter" button in my sidebar and read my tweets without having to sign up for Twitter.

While I'm hanging out on a hospital gurney today, I'll be imagining I'm back at the Surf & Sand Resort.  (If you missed it, you can read about my birthday weekend in Laguna Beach by clicking here.)  I thought I'd share with you a little about this beautiful hotel today.  If you ever have the opportunity to stay there, I think you'll love it.  (No, this isn't a sponsored post.  This is, however, a hotel I love and wanted to share with you!)

I've been to the Surf & Sand in the past, and it's always a joy to return.  Here's what I saw upon first entering my room last weekend:

Room1w

Pretty nice, don't ya think?

Looking back at the bed area:

SSroom2w
The little lights on each side of the bed are on dimmers so you can turn them down to make the ambiance instantly romantic.  I didn't take any photos of the bathroom, but it was big, beautifully – and tastefully done with a full tub, separate shower, double sinks, etc.

As you can (hopefully) see in the next photo, the ocean is fully visible from the bed.

SSRoom3w

We slept with the balcony doors open and listened to the waves crashing under our room all night.  By the way, some people find the ocean too loud and can't sleep.  The hotel provides ear plugs in every room just in case.  (For me, the ocean sounds are the most relaxing thing in the world and I can't imagine using ear plugs to avoid hearing it!)  

When we returned to our room in the evening, the hotel had provided turn down service.  There were chocolates waiting for us, the bed was turned down, two robes were laid out for us, the room was lit romantically and soft music was playing.

Can you say heaven?

Here's a look at the resort's pool area:

SSpool1w
I've never used the pool.  I have a pool at home and when I'm at the beach I like to be on the beach, but I'm sure it's as wonderful as everything else at this hotel.

The Surf & Sand also has a spa which I've heard is fabulous.  Again, I've never tried it.  I'm always too busy doing what I love … hitting up the beach and practicing my photography.  I've had friends use the Surf & Sand spa though and they rave about it.

I have, however, spent time here:

SSDeckw
The above photo is the outdoor seating area where you can relax with a cocktail, or enjoy your morning coffee.  There are outdoor heaters, firepits, and an outdoor fireplace also.  I love hanging out here at the beginning or end of the day. 

The Surf & Sand also offers a restaurant and (my favorite) a bar called Splashes Lounge with a full ocean view.  Sometimes Briefcase and I will stop into Splashes for a drink before heading out to one of Laguna's many excellent restaurants.  That's right, you don't have to be a hotel guest to visit the restaurant and/or bar.  Splashes is a very romantic way to begin or end a date night.

Before I close for the day, I wanted to share with you the view from our hotel room.  From our balcony, looking straight out ahead we saw Catalina Island.

Catalina1w

From our balcony, looking towards the right/north up the beach we saw this:

BalcRtw

Looking south, to the left, our view was like this:

BalcLtw

When the tide was out, we saw things like this when we looked straight down from our fourth floor balcony:

SSdown1w

At night, the most wonderful thing imaginable happens at the Surf & Sand.

SSNight1w

The hotel lights up the beach in front of it.  As it gets darker and the tide comes up, the waves crash under your balcony.  The waves are lit up by the moon and the stars and the soft flood lights from the hotel.  It's a beautiful sight to see.  I think I could pretty much live on one of the Surf & Sand's balconies forever.

© Twenty Four At Heart

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Whoa! I’m 24 AGAIN!

Yay!

Happy 24th birthday to me once again!

I'm, hopefully, at a spa getting wrapped up in eucalyptus leaves and rubbed with warm oil while you're reading this.  (Or am I doing laundry?  Take your pick!)

I had all these wonderful ideas for a post today, but then I kept dismissing them as not being appropriate for my 24th birthday.

I mean, what if my parents stop in to wish me a happy birthday and I've chosen to do a post about the sex toys random strangers mail me?  And what if I even listed the names I've chosen to give each particular toy ….  

Do you think they'd understand?

Yes, people HAVE sent me sex toys and no, I'm not quite sure why.  I'm not quite sure why I name them either, except there are now so many of them – how else would I keep track of them?

Perhaps readers send me sex toys because I mention them from time to time in my posts so they think I need MORE sex toys.

(Because five dildos is never enough!)

Someone even gave me a vibrating ring.  Yeah, like a ring you wear on your finger.  It's bright orange.  I have a few questions about that particular toy, but let's not get into them right now.

If I die in surgery tomorrow someone is going to find an entire cabinet of sex toys and I don't want to be remembered for them.

I haven't even tried most of them yet!

Now, LOOK what's happened!

This has turned into a post about not writing a post about sex toys.

How did that happen?

I might as well have just written about the damn sex toys in the first place.

In addition, apparently I was politically incorrect yesterday.

(Don't act so surprised.)

There's been drama and scandal in the blogosphere recently.  

Shocking, I know!

A popular, married, male blogger has been surreptitiously sending female bloggers his penis.

* Ahem *

I mean, photos of his penis – via email/text.

Sexual harassment of any sort is not something to laugh about, and yet – way too many funny one liners keep popping into my head.  

I don't think what this blogger did (purportedly to multiple women) is at all funny.  In fact, I think the man involved is in strong need of some serious psychiatric care if the allegations are as they've been presented.

I'm qualifying my statements because I wasn't there and I, personally, haven't received this particular man's penis wrapped up in a bow (or email) in my inbox.

And yet, I still have funny (to me) one liners cursing through my brain.  I can't make them stop, but I have managed to keep myself from saying them out loud.  

So far.

In the midst of all this blogging drama, and the concentrated effort on my part to bite my tongue and not let loose with the one-liners I SO want to let loose with …

I, unthinkingly, and with ill timing – posted a photo on twitter yesterday.  (Yes, right in the middle of all the penis drama.  My timing really was unintentional.)  

The tweet and photo:

I originally took this to be artistic, but instead it just looks phallic. #PhotographyFail 

Tower1

I wasn't trying to make light of The Penis Controversy.  I think all the penis talk just colored my view of the photos I was editing at the time.

Or maybe the photo really does look like one gigantic penis?

What do you think?

(Whoa!  I just wrote a birthday post which had nothing to do with birthdays and at the same time I managed to mention sex toys and penises several times.  I.Am.Amazing!) 

© Twenty Four At Heart