August 25, 2011

I’ve been keeping myself extra busy the last few weeks. Right after surgery up until yesterday I was waking up early, starting on projects, going all day. I’d have music or a podcast on while I worked, which is unusual for me, I enjoy quiet when I work. I had about 15 tabs open on my laptop at one point working on the middle school band’s spring trip, planning a veggie garden for the spring, ordering birthday presents for friends, planning a fall trip for us, getting a jump start on all Jackson’s travels for TSA this school year, planning spirit wear, writing cards to friends, charting my pain levels, and basically saying yes to anything that was thrown my way. At first I thought maybe I’m just spinning to keep myself mentally busy to combat my lack of physical ability during this time of healing, then yesterday I saw the date: August 24th and I realized why I was doing what I was doing.

Today would be my daughter’s 11th birthday. She’d be in fifth grade, maybe sixth grade, depending on when she was allowed to start kindergarten. She’d probably be a dirty blond with a penchant for video games like her brother, or maybe she’d hate video games because that is his thing. Maybe she’d be into science and math, or more likely she’d be like me, writing little stories, doing art, reading late into the night with a flashlight under her blankets thinking we wouldn’t know. I know she’d be smart, and early reader like her big brother. Kind, compassionate, maybe a little shy, letting Jackson be the leader he was born to be.

Those are the thoughts that seep into my concious every year around this time. The idea of who my daughter would be if she were here with me. And every year I try desperately to combat those thoughts, but I am never successful.

My best friend sent us the text she sends every year. The one to say she is thinking of us and of Lydia. Her son’s birthday is tomorrow and so in her head our two children are intrinsically linked. Late August babies. Wanted children. Loved always.

God, it’s a tough day for me. I try each year to spread a little light today, but this year is hard. I’m still on crutches and I’m still in a headspace that makes finding the hope harder. It feels all at once like the only day I can publicly remember her and the hardest day of the year to get through the memory of her. It’s a bad kind of feeling. A stuck kind of feeling.

I’ll choose kindness toward myself today to combat it. I’ll stay in bed longer. I’ll watch “I Love Lucy” and take my time. I’ll turn off the to-do list and the music and the ringer on my phone and I’ll sit in silence for a little bit. Then tonight I’ll hug my baby, I’ll send a gift to my best friend’s son celebrating another year around this wild world. I’ll call my Momma. I’ll make my donations to Trisomy 18 and Planned Parenthood. Slowly I’ll feel better. Slowly I’ll figure this out. Eleven years doesn’t feel so long and it never gets easier. I think we just learn to live with the grief, because what else can you do.

I hope you are learning to live with your grief today. I hope the memories you have suffice, and if not, if the memories are all tough for you like they are for me, I hope you can make sense of the nonsensical in a way that helps others, shines some light, and makes hope float.

I hope Lydia Elizabeth knows I love her, wherever she is, and I hope she knows I made the best decision I could with the information that I had. And I hope she forgives me. And I hope one day I can forgive myself.

Be nice to people, y’all. You just never know.

M.

Dopey, Sleepy, and Doc

In the midst of all my other medical issues since turning 40 years old, I’d like to officially add one more diagnosis to the mix: Obstructive Sleep Apnea. That’s right, I have that disorder that is characterized by large people snoring loudly with full face masks chugging along as they sleep. Maybe you have a different idea of it, but that was mine. Remember that show “Mike and Molly” with Melissa McCarthy? I loved that show, but Mike had sleep apnea and he slept with those tubes and machines and I always thought, “Oh wow, how can anyone deal with that?” Hmpf. Let me back up.

All of my life, or at least as far back as I can remember, I have woke up in the middle of the night coughing and gasping for breath. When I was a kid my mom used to say I must have been having a bad dream, and I believed her. That made sense. Why else would I be crying saying I can’t breath as a child? As I got older and started to experience panic attacks on the reg, I decided that was what was happening when I would wake up shaking, coughing, crying, gasping for breath. I must be having panic attacks. This doesn’t happen all the time, I should add. It’s like once or twice a month on average, but over the last year it has ramped up to a couple times a week. It got to the point where I was afraid to fall asleep some nights because I thought it was night I would have a panic attack.

Fast forward to a month ago, I asked my doc for some sleep meds. I didn’t really elaborate, I just said I can’t sleep. She prescribed me Trazodone and we went on with our life. A month later I had to go back to see her and check in with the sleeping pills and that’s when I was like, “Oh sure it’s working, but I’m still waking up in a panic attack.” She looked at me funny then and told me to explain. I told her all about what I thought was a panic attack or maybe a nightmare? Then she looked at me a little bit like I was dumb and she was all, “That’s not how panic attacks work. It sounds like sleep apnea.” Then she sent me to Dr. Sharma, the sleep doctor at Emory’s Sleep Center.

Dr. Sharma’s office was able to get me right in (there was a cancellation the day I called, which is a lucky thing if you know Emory) and I went to see her the next day. I should say here that all those ideas of sleep apnea were sneaking into my head at this point. I legit wondered if I was “big enough” to suffer from this. I always just assumed this was people who were like hundreds of pounds, and while I am over 200 pounds, I’m not too far over and I’ve been actively working on losing weight the slow and steady method. That’s how dumb I was. (Face palm)

In Dr. Sharma’s office I saw the regular suspects. I saw elderly people, people who were maybe two hundred pounds bigger than me, but then I saw this really slim guy with a t-shirt on that read something about some marathon he’d run, and he was holding his mask, waiting to see his doctor. I was utterly confused. That’s when I got called back and schooled on obstructive sleep apnea by Dr. Sharma.

Turns out obstructive sleep apnea (OSA) can happen to anyone, even kids. That’s when I told her that this had been happening to me since I was a kid. OSA is about the way your airways react when your are sleeping. For some people it is the weight that lays against their chests, for others it is about the way your airways are made. When we sleep our body relaxes and if we have small or abnormally-shaped airways (or both, which is likely my case) they get too relaxed and they start to collapse onto each other restricting your airways and plummeting your oxygen levels. Then, because we aren’t getting enough oxygen, our brain alerts our body to wake us up and it does so in a panic gasping for the air we need to fill up our lungs. I was shaking along with her as she was telling me this because this all made sense to me. She told me it sounded like I have OSA, but that we’d have to do a sleep study to have an official diagnosis.

This was days before I was scheduled to go into surgery for my hip, so she suggested an at-home study because we could get that done that evening. She could send me home with all that I needed, though she said that sometimes an in-lab study is still needed if the results are inconclusive. I agreed to the in-home study and I was sent home with instructions on how to do it.

There are probably many methods and companies that help in this process, but I was given the “WatchPat One” information and equipment. This is one-time use equipment, paid by your insurance, that goes along with an app. You download the app, log in with a specific password from your doctor, and before you go to sleep you connect the “watch” and the finger monitor. This is what mine looked like.

It connects to your phone via Bluetooth and basically you just fall asleep and it tracks your oxygen levels and your heart rate all night. It can give false negatives and it can give inconclusive results, it is not near as advanced as the in-lab studies, which are where you spend the night in the sleep center hooked up to a millions machines, but in severe cases this can give a clear diagnosis and at this point Dr. Sharma suspected I had a severe case of OSA. I asked her at one point if losing weight would make it go away. I was still so stuck on my weight being the factor, and she said it might help some people who have moderate OSA, but in my case, she suspected it was so bad, had gone on for so long, that it wouldn’t matter much. Turns out she was right…

Four days after my sleep study she called to tell me that I have severe OSA and most likely have had it since I was a child. She said that my airways are probably small and abnormal and that only a machine would help me. She said that I needed to get on a machine ASAP and use it every night. She said all these years of dealing with this had the capacity to do a real number on my heart, and y’all know I don’t need anymore bad vibes with my heart.

Fast forward to this week and we are currently waiting on insurance to okay not a CPAP machine, which is what most people know, but an APAP machine. A CPAP (Continuous Positive Airway Pressure) machine is used to pump oxygen into your body through the mask at a continuous pressure. You set the pressure and let it do its thing. I’m “special” though, because of course I am. *Hair Flip* I need a much more advanced (ahem, more expensive) machine known as an APAP (Automatic Positive Airway Pressure) machine, that meets my oxygen levels where they are and automatically adjusts how much air I need. This is because the “severe” part of my OSA is in my REM cycle and it’s pretty erratic. With the APAP my doctor won’t have to constantly monitor and change how much pressure I get, because it’s kind of impossible for us to know as it changes so drastically. The machine will constantly assess as I’m sleeping and do it for me.

Yay me.

Listen, I’m not sharing this to scare any of you. We all have trouble sleeping from time to time, but if you are like me and it is consistent trouble and you feel like you can’t breathe sometimes and it’s to the point where you are afraid to fall asleep, talk to your doctor please, regardless of your size, because OSA can have real problems on you health and if left unchecked it can get progressively worse.

I’ll work my way through this shame I feel, shame about lots of different things, and you just stay happy as can be that you aren’t me.

Today I was thinking about how I turn 41 in a few weeks and I was excited because it would appear that 40 hasn’t done me any favors, but the truth of the matter is, 40 is the year I got the nerve to deal with all these problems head on, to look for the answers, to ask the questions, to put my ignorance and my shame aside and try to get healthier, so I should be proud of myself. And I will be one day. Maybe I just need a good night’s sleep first.

Stay safe and sane, y’all.

M.

PS… This is what I had to see when I was at Dr. Sharma’s office and I thought it might give me nightmares, so I will pass it on to you. Just FYI, they weren’t looking at the patient’s chair before I got into the room. 🙂

The Surgery (Dun Dun Dun!)

I had the old hip surgery on August 11th and boy was it a doozy. I wasn’t as nervous as I thought I’d be though, I think having gone through one major surgery already (I had a hysterectomy in 2018) was helpful, I sort of knew how it all worked. But Dr. Whitfield did go into this surgery prepping me for the worst-case scenario, and it ended up being a lot of worry for nothing. I’m glad he did it, in hindsight, because I was pleasantly surprised when I woke up after a two-hour surgery, rather than a four-hour surgery. So what did he end up doing? Okay, let’s dive in.

Pre-op

I had a pretty standard pre-op. I got there and was asked to fully undress and wear the surgical gown, which is much better than a regular hospital gown, thankyouverymuch. But first I had to wipe yet again with the surgical wipes, but they were warmed for me, unlike the ones I had to use the night before at home. Brrr. I also had to drink not one, but two pre-op Ensures the day before. I had to do this with my hysterectomy too, I think it might be standard practice now on account of it helping by pumping major carbs into your body. Seriously, so many carbs and really it was so sweet that my teeth were hurting! But it helps with recovery and has been proven to allow a quicker return to normal, as well as a shorter hospital stay, an easier bowel movement post-op, and the loss of less muscle mass during recovery. Seriously, here is a really academic paper on it if you are so inclined. This should be the standard for pre-op.

The walk to the hospital doors. I had taken a Klonopin so I was feeling okay about it all!

After the wipe-down I met Alexis my pre-op nurse, who was kind and funny. You all know I love a funny gal. She was great with the IV and as soon as I was hooked up at #5 (my lucky number!) she brought Jerimiah back to hang with me, which was really nice and helpful at keeping my nerves at bay.

Fall risk, because duh.
He was navigating a work crisis all morning, so he had two phones on him at all times. 🙂 Crisis was averted though.
Feeling ready to get this party started!
With Alexis! She was the best, honestly.

After my IV was all hooked up, I had a visit from the anesthesiologist, Dr. Whitfield (my surgeon), then my OR nurse. They were all very nice and gave me good info and assuaged any lingering fears. Dr. Whitfield was still planning for the worst-case scenario here, which was the four-hour surgery where they had to do several things. But in the end it was much less complicated. This next pic I do not recall taking because they had just given me that medicine in my IV that sort of makes you feel like you had several glasses of wine, well that’s how it makes me feel anyway and I was all, yeah y’all let’s get this party started now!

No recollection of this one.

In the OR I was met by a smiling Adrianna, who is Dr. Whitfield’s right hand lady, and I liked her a lot up until that moment. She said some encouraging words to me then she started putting my feet into boots so I could be put in traction on the table and I was all, “How you gonna do that to me, Adrianna?” But then the anesthesiologist asked me if I talk about Bruno and someone put an oxygen mask on my face and I mumbled, “We don’t talk about…” Then I woke up three hours later in recovery. So yeah, it was an easy surgery for me! 🙂

Operation

They called Jerimiah at 2:00 pm to say the first incision had been made and it was apparently smooth sailing from there. Dr. Whitfield saw some things on my scans he was worried about, mainly that he would not be able to repair my labrum, so he had that cadaver labrum ready to rock and roll and he did end up replacing it in large part due to the fact that my torn labrum had started to repair itself best it could and that was by calcification, meaning it had started growing bone in the tears. This was one of the reasons I was in so much pain. I had my hip bone regularly hitting this calcified bone and wow, it was not fun.

Dr. Whitfield scraped the calcified bone out (there isn’t an easy answer about why some bodies do that) and then he pulled my labrum out and replaced it. He also had to shave off portions of my hip bone that were irregular, they were causing an “impingement.”

After it was all done, however, it was not as long or as involved a surgery as he was expecting and he called Jerimiah at 4:15 to say the surgery was over and I was being taken to recovery.

Recovery

I don’t know how waking up from recovery is for people, but for me it fucking sucks. Sucks, y’all. I just can’t get it together. I wake up five or six times, but never really long enough to talk to anyone or respond to questions, then I just feel all sorts of out of it for like 24 hours.

Because this was an out-patient procedure and I had to meet with Rehab before I was cleared to go, I was out of it the entire time the doctors were teaching me how to use a walker and crutches, how to walk down stairs, and get in and out of a car. Like, I don’t have a clear recollection of any of it. Thank goodness Jerimiah was there. At one point the Physical Therapist was all, “Yeah, I’m gonna stop talking to her and just talk to you,” then he moved his body toward Jerimiah. I was all, “That’s rude, MFer,” in my head. Then I got home and Jerimiah showed me this pic.

Sure, yeah. I get it now.

This was like an hour after I “woke” up and clearly I was not alert and had no real idea what was going on. Take someone to see the PT with you, that’s all I’m saying.

That night when we got home I was still out of it. It was probably a full 24 hours before I had some sense to me, which is why when I saw this awesome spread from my friend Jennifer, I was like, “Oh cool. What happened?” Then I had a couple bites and went to sleep. It wasn’t until the next day that I realized how kick-ass that spread was and how lucky I am to have the community I have.

Jennifer made us asparagus and mushroom pasta, a kick-ass watermelon and pecan salad, French bread, and dessert! She also brought me some beautiful flowers, which apparently her cats attacked the night before (Ha) but you couldn’t tell!

I should also say that we didn’t actually get home from the hospital until 7:00 pm, so Jennifer dropped this off to Jackson who was home because his friend Araf’s mom, Sharmin, brought him home after school. Also, I’ve had a ton of friends send me gifts and texts. My friend Kristi asked me if I needed her to grab groceries for us, other people have said to call if I need anything. But you know I hate to ask for help, and Jerimiah and Jackson have been awesome, as usual, so we are getting by and so far so good.

Because the surgery wasn’t as complicated as he had planned for, the recovery has been far better than I had planned for. In fact, my biggest issue has been the cough. I was pumped so full of fluid that it had to come out somehow. That mixed with the fun aftermath of anesthesia (it really does a number on me) I have had the most problems with the coughing and peeing all night long. But I’ll take that over pain any day. So I’m calling it a win. I’ll do a whole other post about my recovery period, because I certainly have some tips and tricks for people who are going through this surgery or one like it.

Now Here We Are

So, I started this post the day after surgery because I wanted to write about it while it was fresh on my mind, then I got side-tracked and am just finishing it today. But there are some things I bought in preparation for my surgery that have proven to be invaluable so I am going to add a link to them here to finish up this post. As I mentioned my next one will be solely on recovery and the ways I managed to get around in the two weeks after surgery.

I go to Dr. Whitfield on Monday for my post-op check in and I will keep you all informed of how that goes! So until next time, I hope you enjoyed my journey or at least have something to laugh about. Just look at that pic of me with the PT, that should give you a good chuckle.

M.

This has been a life-saver, y’all. Yes, this is my elevated commode and when it came in the mail (I ordered it from Amazon) I was like, “Oh what fresh hell is this?!” But lemme tell you, whew! You’re gonna need it because you aren’t supposed to sit at a 90 degree angle and trust you will feel it if you do. Plus, with strict instructions on “no weight bearing” tell me how you’re supposed to get on and off and wipe yourself in tiny bathrooms like mine without some help. Trust me, buy it. Also, it is FSA-approved!
Another FSA-approved product on Amazon is this shower stool! You have to wait 72 hours after surgery to shower, but when you do you will want to sit. You can’t take a bath because you can’t submerge your leg for two weeks, so it has to be a shower, but standing while you shower might be a pain in the ass. I am fortunate to have a shower that is an easy step in and seriously as big as the rest of my bathroom, but even if you have just a tub/shower combo this will still be very helpful. Buy it!
In the meantime, these bad boys are super helpful in feeling refreshed.

Hip Surgery

Shit y’all, I’m only two days out from this hip surgery and I am starting to panic! But not the kind of Panic! that you would find at the disco, rather the kind of panic that keeps you up all night because it gives you bad dreams. Damn it, I’d much rather be all Panic! At the Disco. Jerimiah had a good suggestion though. He suggested I write out all the stuff since writing things out helps me feel better. He’s right, of course, so I’ve decided to turn to the old blog to document my surgery and all the feelings (and pain levels) and what not, so that 1. It might help me feel more in control of things that I have zero control of and 2. Help others? I’m always trying to help others in my writing, so sure, this might have the capacity to do that too. So let me just get through the nitty-gritty first, then we can start down he rabbit hole of things in subsequent posts.

Diagnosis

So as y’all might recall I have an autoimmune disease called, Ankylosing Spondylitis (AS). It’s essentially arthritis of the spine and it has the potential to fuse joints and all that not-fun stuff. In order to control the progression of the disease I take weekly Humira injections, see my rheumatologist four times a year, do regular bloodwork, and get annual CT scans and MRIs. During a routine MRI back in December of 2021, the doctor noticed some problems with my hips that were not related to my AS. My AS has mainly attacked my SI Joints, which are the joints that connect your pelvis to your spine. On the MRI it was noted that I have “Bi-lateral Labrum Tears” among other issues. It was also noted that my right side was much worse that my left side.

All of this made a ton of sense to me, considering for the last ten years or so, I’ve had incredible, intermittent pain in my right hip area. I would sometimes be in such pain (mainly in the groin area) that I could not walk. This seemed to happen after intense workouts and when I was stretching or jogging or even walking too much, like when the fam and I would go to Disney and walk 15 miles in a day. There was basically nothing that helped alleviate the pain but rest.

I was referred to an Orthopedic Surgeon immediately and that’s when I met Dr. Whitfield. I should mention here that I live in the Atlanta-metro and because of that am blessed to have Emory right up the road from me. My doctors and hospitals are all within a 20-minute drive, with state-of-the-art campuses like 21 Ortho Lane, where I first met my Orthopedic team and where the Atlanta Hawks practice. No, they will not let you on the court to take a selfie. I asked.

Upon meeting Dr. Whitfield he showed me my scans and I was like, “Eww, is that my butt?” It is, it is your butt on an MRI scan and it’s not cute and he was all, “Can we focus?” Sure thing. Then he showed me where the biggest areas of concern were and it turns out it was with my right labrum which has been really “jacked up” (my term, not his) from years of overuse and also the way my hip bones are made. Seems I have bones that come to a point. Your hip bones should be rounded but mine are not which means for years they have been doing a number on my labrum.

Le sigh.

Your labrum, in case you don’t know what the heck a labrum is like I didn’t know what the heck a labrum was, is the ring of cartilage that goes around the socket that acts as a suction seal and as a stabilizer. One of the other not-so-fun symptoms of this problem is that my hip often “pops” or comes out of place and then goes back in which is usually unexpected and painful. You also have a labrum in your shoulder, maybe other places too, I dunno, I’m not a doctor. Here, look it:

There is the labrum and also you can see the bone that fits into all snug as a bug in a rug? See the rounded part there that looks kind of like a penis, if you see penises in things like I do? That fits up against your labrum, and yeah, it does sound like labia which is how I got there. Annnnnnyway, my bones and ligaments in this pic are all kinda jacked up and that labrum is really jacked up and that is why we are where we are. And that’s my official diagnosis: Jacked-up Hip.

Treatment Options

Since my left hip isn’t bothering me at all, even though it has the same probs, we are just ignoring that one for the time being, but it’s possible I’ll have to repeat this surgery on the left side one day. It’s also “likely” that I will need a full hip replacement on account of my jacked-up hip and my AS. So why not just get a new hip? That’s a valid question, thanks for asking. I too asked that question and Dr. Whitfield told me all about how if you put brand new tires on a young (new) car you will still need more new tires years later because the young (new) car will tear up the new tires and basically I’m a Ferrari.

I’m too young at forty for new hips and my hips aren’t “that jacked up.” But when I’m 60 we will be having a different conversation. No offense to less young Ferraris.

First we tried hip injections. This is where they inject the hip with steroids and hope for the best. My first injection immediately took the pain away and allowed me to go to AWP in Philly for a weekend of walking and exploring the city, then when I got home the pain was back. The injection lasted about four weeks.

The second injection allowed me to go to Disney and have a kick-ass time with the fam, very little pain, until the last day then BAM! The second injection lasted me about a week.

After the two “failed” injection attempts we moved on to surgery. To be fair there is another option, physical therapy. And I could have tried it but with my AS it makes PT tricky. What might help my hip, has the potential to hurt my SI Joints and likewise. Plus, there’s no way you can PT your bones to be more rounded.

Normal/Not Normal

So now here we are, two days from what they tell me is, Hip Arthroscopy to replace a jacked up labrum, along with shaving my bone to make it round, and something, something, something. This is a pretty common surgery with pretty good results. Dr. Whitfield is the resident expert in this surgery at the Emory Orthopedic and Spine Hospital where I will be having the it done. This hospital is actually in Tucker, GA the town I live in and it’s right off The Perimeter, making it uber convenient because it is an out-patient surgery.

Normally they’d just fix a torn labrum but mine is so jacked up it has to be replaced. Normally they replace it with your own tissue, but in my case there’s a risk of my body attacking its own tissue, on account of the autoimmune disease, so I’m getting a new labrum fashioned from a dead person. For sure, it’s cadaver tissue and this isn’t my first time getting cadaver tissue (they use it in dental implants of which I have one) and my body was cool with it, so awesome.

Thanks dead people for donating your bodies. I am also an organ donor, though I don’t know what they will possibly want from me? They probably can’t take a labrum out of my body that originally belonged to a different dead person? Right? Or maybe they can and deeply discount it? Like half off? Most of my joints are junk and my heart, well, check back in with me in about 20 more years. Also, if you want to be an organ donor you can do so here.

Also they will be shaving the bone and cleaning the area, as well as poking holes in it all to generate stem cell growth. I have no idea why, but I’m told it’s all normal. It’s approximately a four-hour surgery and in terms of this surgery I’m getting the Cadillac of deals. As in, this looks cool, but it isn’t. It’s just overpriced and will end up making your friends think you are pretentious. It hits all my out-of-pocket costs though, which means I’ll get all the rest of my medical shit for free* through April!

*Free is not free you see. It’s actually $5000, but $5000 is way better than $40,000 which is the MSRP on this bad boy.

Outcomes

Since my diagnosis I’ve talked to a ton of people who have either had a similar surgery or who know someone who has. This diagnosis is common in athletes of particular sports that require pivoting, like basketball, soccer, and even softball, of which I played all through my childhood. It’s also common with people who suffer from various autoimmune diseases like mine, which makes my outcomes a little more complicated.

With the right PT and a top-notch surgery Dr. Whitfield says I should be at about 90% within the next year. Meaning in a year or less I will be walking normally and (fingers crossed) without the pain and the popping that I have become accustomed to. I might even be able to stretch my right leg or move it in certain ways I was not previously able to! Wow!

My weight factors in, but only slightly. I’m a sturdy girl. Like if I were a dancer I could try out for Lizzo’s Big Gurrrrls, okay. 💁🏻‍♀️But he’s actually more concerned with my AS, than my weight having a significant impact on the outcome of surgery. It just makes it all tricky. Plus, I’ve had to go off my weekly injections for a total of six weeks (three before and three after) to limit my risk of infection. I’ve been okay so far, no flare-up of significant symptoms (someone knock on some wood for me) but I’m definitely reminded daily why I take the risk of injection every week.

My recovery starts immediately and looks like rest and crutches for the first four to six weeks. This is nuts to me, but I see why. It’s just that again, I hear all about people having complete hip replacements and being up and at ‘em the next day, so it’s frustrating to know I won’t be up or at ‘em for a bit. Plus, I have crutches already and I’ve been practicing on them and uh, no. Just no. My upper body strength is gone since I’ve been on rest for almost a year now, and oh yeah, my damn dogs are terrified of them.

Ahhhhhhhhhhhh! Sorry. Just needed to scream.

So there you have it. The first blog post of probably several pertaining to my hip surgery. I hope you’ve found this helpful, enlightening, or entertaining in the least.

I go in on Thursday morning and should be home by dinner. My friend Jennifer is actually bringing dinner to us Thursday night, so I won’t have to worry about that and we’ve prepped best we can for my recovery. I’m so incredibly thankful to my friends and Jackson and Jerimiah who will be helping me out the next couple months. I couldn’t imagine having to do all this alone.

Okay so you know the deal, y’all: Thanks for reading and stay safe and sane out there!

M.

Happy Birthday, Jerimiah!

Today is Jerimiah’s 41st birthday. Usually I write a silly, funny, sappy FB post or a share a pic on Instagram, but he’s off all social media these days so instead I’m turning to the old blog to let the world know how grateful I am for him because that’s what you do for the people you love. You celebrate them every chance you get by reminding them how incredibly important they are in your life and the lives of others. Because really, at the end of this life what do we have but the way we treated people, the lives we touched, and the blog posts that will live in perpetuity.

Forty-one Things We Love and Appreciate About You

  1. You treat our doggos like they are our children. You cuddle with them, you let them sleep on your feet and take up way more space in our bed than they should. You pay stupid amounts of money to keep their hair and nails cut. You worry about them when they develop a cough or eat something weird in the backyard. You try your hardest to teach them right from wrong. Right: Be nice to the neighborhood cats. Wrong: Stop chasing and barking at the neighborhood cats. Even though you also hate cats.
  2. You watch murder documentaries with me and YouTube videos with Jackson because we ask you to watch them, not because they interest you in the slightest.
  3. You do the things that need to get done that no one else wants to do. Example: Cleaning up the mouse poop from that weird crawl space in the basement and not complaining about it one bit.
  4. You don’t mind being “the bad guy” when it comes to holding your boundaries or helping Jackson and me hold ours. You have always said, “Just tell them you can’t (insert thing we don’t want to do) and blame it on me.” We never blame things on you, but we appreciate you going to bat for us at all times.
  5. You vote in every election. You send postcards to get other people to vote. You phone bank. You protest in the streets. You do the damn things. You show up.
  6. Before you have some important thing to talk to us about, you ask us if we have time to talk. This is something you have actively worked on over the years and I think it stems from you being a good leader at work. You don’t want to interrupt people when they are doing something, you are considerate and thoughtful in that way, same as you like for people to respect your time.
  7. Speaking of your time, all your “free time” is spent with your family and we appreciate you for it. You are not the dad or husband who makes his own plans on the weekend without consulting us first. You always say, “What are we doing?” And if you are invited somewhere you say, “I have to talk to the family first. Also, can I bring them?” It’s weird to you to do something without us and the feeling is mutual. We are a packaged deal and you make sure everyone knows it.
  8. The phrase, “We’ve always done it this way,” irritates the shit out of you. You think people use it as a crutch and will never grow or expand their opportunities, knowledge, and ability for empathy if they continue to believe things can’t get better. You are always looking for ways to make things better.
  9. You don’t kill spiders, when you can help it. You shoo them out of the house instead.
  10. You don’t have a fragile male ego. You don’t want your son to have a fragile male ego. You are systematically ridding our lives of these men, even the ones related to us, which is hard and sad, but necessary. Thank you.
  11. You give hugs and kisses and tell us you love us every day.
  12. You take us wherever we want to go. If we wake up one day and want to drive to the beach, you’re game. NYC for the weekend? Why not? Disney for the THIRD time in a year? “Okay, yeah, we can probably make it happen,” you say.
  13. You cook. You clip recipes from random flyers we get in the mail. You pull recipe cards from packaging. You browse the Kroger website for recipes. You often say, “I saw this recipe on LinkedIn that I want to try!” Who looks for recipes on LinkedIn? Who shares recipes on LinkedIn? You do.
  14. You fight for the people who have a hard time fighting for themselves. Your employees have no idea what you do for them behind the scenes, and while it’s best that way, sometimes I wish they knew how much you care about how they are treated, compensated, and spoken to.
  15. You volunteer to come to my doctor’s appointments because you know it makes me feel better to not be alone sometimes.
  16. You despise CIS white men who play golf all day and tell racist/sexist/homophobic jokes. The men who are always turning everything into a competition. You are learning to speak up to them. You are working to rid your life of them.
  17. You do not shy away from the tough conversations. Not with me, not with Jackson, not with your co-workers, our family, or our friends.
  18. You are a lifelong-learner who is always taking opportunities to grow and change, even if what you are learning has the capacity to bump up against your worldview and beliefs. You will still politely listen, take it all in, think on it, talk it out with us, then decide. Maybe you will change your mind, maybe you won’t, but you always try to see the other side.
  19. You love board games, but only when they aren’t taken too seriously.
  20. You jump in with both feet. You have always taken the chance. It hasn’t always paid off, but when it does, it pays off big. Your motto is: The bigger the risk, the bigger the reward. There are times I know you were nervous to do it, but you did it anyway and every time we are better than before because of your courage and tenacity.
  21. You cry when you need to, even if it is in front of our kid. I don’t think you realize how important that is and how hard it is for other men to do.
  22. You always read what I write or let me read to you. You always try to have feedback for me, even though that is not your thing.
  23. You remember birthday and anniversaries.
  24. You ride the Tea Cups at Disney, even though they make you sick. You ride them with us one time and you smile and you make a big deal of it so Jackson laughs and laughs and laughs. Then afterward you sit on a bench and drink a Sprite while you watch us ride them eight more times.
  25. You smile for the picture and you don’t complain.
  26. You volunteer for all the things and make them work in your own capacity. You are the freaking President of Band Boosters for fuck’s sake. How many other dads do you know work full-time as the sole supporter of the family, show up to all the school events, help the PTO whenever they need, and are also the PRESIDENT of the freaking Band Boosters? I only know one guy.
  27. You dress up on Halloween with us in whatever theme we come up with.
  28. You have no qualms about driving for 12 hours to pick up my mom in Kansas, because she is afraid of flying, to come stay with us for a month-long visit.
  29. You are the SOLE financial supporter of this family. With an artist for a wife, you don’t have a lot of options. But you do it without complaint or ridicule or even side-eyeing me. In fact, you go out of your way to make sure I have very little guilt about it. There’s always guilt and I know that frustrates you, but I’m working on it. You tell me to keep writing. To keep pursing my academic goals. You tell me we will make it work. You have always said that and it has always worked.
  30. You are sarcastic and clever and wicked funny.
  31. You are working hard on breaking the cycle of generational trauma.
  32. You let Jackson and me work things out on our own. You don’t “mansplain” and if you accidentally do, you realize it and apologize. You always apologize, in fact, when you have messed up, even sometimes when you haven’t but think you might have. You ask if you messed up. You let those conversations happen. You seek ways to get better. You think about what you just said and how you said it. You do this with friends and family, with coworkers, with me, and most importantly with Jackson. You never chalk it up to him “being a kid” and not needing an apology. We hope you know how much we appreciate this and how hard it is for people to do. You should teach a masterclass.
  33. You support whatever weird obsession Jackson and I develop. You go all in with us.
  34. You always get the doggos pup cups from Starbucks and kid cones from Dairy Queen.
  35. You like to shop for Christmas presents and birthday presents and any other presents. You aren’t that Dad who just gets his name written on the Mother’s Day cards or the Welcome the New Baby cards, you often write them yourself and sign our names. Thanks.
  36. You always involve Jackson in work, conversations, and situations that will benefit him in the future. He can change tires and brakes. He can drive a manual. He can clean out the gutters and have tough conversations with family members because he’s been privy to all that.
  37. You send us articles that you want to discuss with us or that we might find interesting or challenging. We wouldn’t know about half the cool-ass shit we know about without you and your articles and your podcasts.
  38. You share your pronouns when asked. You wear your “Proud Ally” shirt whenever you can. You support friends and family all the time.
  39. You don’t have to be “right,” you just want to be heard and respected, while also respecting everyone else’s thoughts and ideas.
  40. You take fashion advice with a smile, even though I’m sure you get tired of me saying, “Are you gonna wear that?”
  41. You will drop anything you are doing if we need you. We know that is the case and we try to do it sparingly because we always know you are there and that we are the most important people to you in the whole world. We hope you know we feel the same and that all the other things in this life don’t matter as long as the three of us (ahem, five of us) are together. We would follow you to the ends of this world to keep us as close as possible. We love you and appreciate the dad, partner, and friend that you are to us.

Happy 41st Birthday, Dad. We love you to the moon and back.

M. and Jackson

There’s honestly too many good pics to post of you being awesome! But Jackson wanted to make sure this last one made it on here! 🙂