Tuesday, March 17, 2009

Adventures in Costa Rica

Ali is spending this week in Costa Rica with school. This week course counts as her science credit. Ali read a 700 page book on facts of the Rain Forest and a report of each chapter has been completed. She will have to write a paper at the end of the trip.

Alison's trip began on Saturday morning at 1:30am leaving campus. As the plane touched down in Atlanta, the plane blew 2 tires. It took over an hour for a bus to come out on the runway and they missed their connecting flight. I think Ali thought this was a premonition of how the trip would go. Nothing could be further from the truth.

Alison called last night (Monday) from the beach in Puerto Viejo. They hiked through KekoLdi Indigenous Reserve. They spent the rest of the day with the Bribri Tribe, observed tribal use of native plants and animals. As the group were mingling with their hosts, Alison noticed a snake inches from a women's barefoot. It turned out to be a VERY venomous viper!!! Alison got credit for finding the first snake. She also told everyone all the facts about this particular snake. The tour guide high five'd her. Ali said that she is amazed at how much she is learning and how much she already knew and it is being used now.

Alison is awaken by monkeys (outside) at the crack of dawn. Similar to roosters, I suppose. They have seen 2 and 3 toe sloths, toucans, monkeys, etc. She is taking lots of pictures. During the hike yesterday the guide stopped at a tree and found a nest of termites, plucked one out and ate it. He offered one to Alison. At first she declined and then she thought, I'm here to experience everything I can and she ate a termite! Said it tasted like chicken. Kidding, she said it tasted like a peanut.

Alison took Spanish in high school and a semester her freshmen year in college. When she knew she was going to Costa Rica she bought a Learn Spanish tape. Alison said when people would order things at the coffee shop she works at, she would translate the order in Spanish in her head. If the guide isn't around Alison is the one who can translate for the group. How proud am I???

Today they will hike through Gandoca-Manzanillo Wildlife Refuge along beach to Punta Mona (Monkey Point). They will observe sustainable methods of agriculture, harvest items for dinner and prepare dinner from local fish and garden fare. After dark they will look for nesting leatherback turtles on the beach.

Alison told her dad that one thing she has learned is that if you work hard enough for a goal, you can make it happen, even in tough times like this. It was only day 2 of her trip and said it was already the best week of her life.

Terry and I could not be happier either. We are so thrilled for her. I don't know what this trip will mean for her in the future, but I do know it will make a huge impact.

Saturday, March 14, 2009

Uplifting Experience (pt. 2)

I cannot say enough about the staff, nurses and the doctors who took care of me on Thursday/Friday. It was obvious they all enjoyed being there. When I complimented the care I was given, the nurse would tell me how much she enjoyed her job. She accredited the office manager running a tight ship, but also believes in having fun. It showed.

I took one pain pill on Friday when I came home and a couple of Tyenol before bed "just in case". I have not taken any meds since. I did laundry, and dusted and took a nap. I feel wonderful.

I'm not sure what I look like yet. I am so taped down and gauzed up, a little swollen and bruised. The unveiling won't happen until Friday. Right now they look like the Bride of Frankenstein.

I do know how the women in very low dresses on the Red Carpet keep everything in place. There is NO execuse Janet Jackson for that fashion malfunction at the Superbowl a couple of years ago. I think I could outsell Billy Mayes's Mighty Mendit. This stuff is strong.

Saturday, March 7, 2009

An Uplifting Experience (pt. 1)

When I was 12 and many of my friends were wearing bras because they needed to, I was still in "training". My mother will tell you I would throw myself across the chenille bedspread crying that I would "never be a woman." My younger sister outed me when she saw me stuffing my bra with tissue. The summer between 8th grade entering 9th, my training paid off. No one needed to ask me what I did that summer - I grew breasts and I was proud. So were my breasts, standing firm and high.

During my teens and 20's they maintained their perkiness. I wore good bras as my mom advised. I did not flaunt, they were just a part of me. Mom told me that gravity would not be my friend and I should do all I could to provide proper support. One size does not fit all and I spent the extra bucks on the good bras.

I never regretted spending the money, but I do resent the fact that I can't go into Victoria Secret unless I want to purchase perfume. I could never understand the water bras. Really? Women want more on top and are willing to use water balloons. Although, they are a lot more natural looking than tissue.

If I thought I was on the large side before I became pregnant, I did not know what I was in for. I remember saying that if I got any bigger I could feed a 3rd world nation. Huge does not begin to describe it. I was so grateful for my breasts when I nursed Alison. They nourished Alison with the nutrients she needed and the closeness we felt together is an experience I will cherish forever.

For at least 10 years I have been suffering from neck, back, shoulder pain. For the most part, I learned to deal with it. This past year, however, the pain was increasing to the point were I was close to tears on a daily basis. Pain was radiating down my right arm, I had difficulty blow drying my hair, reaching for plates out the cupboard, I was tired, miserable, loosing sleep. I don't believe my neck/shoulder pain is due to just to the weight in front. I had trauma to my shoulders in my 20's, I have some arthritis and degenerative disk disease. While I know the cause of the pain is not due to one thing, I also believe the cure is not one method. I had x-rays taken, physical therapy, chiropractor (2-3 times a week every week since November), 2 nerve blocks, and cortisone shots. When you feel this bad, it is very hard to do exercises, because your whole day is consumed with pain. It's depressing. This past week I had my second nerve block and for the first time in years woke to no pain. I had forgotten how that felt. I was elated. I have a little pain now, but am delighted in the amount of relief I have. I can live with this. Now that I know I can have this pain-free or at least minimum pain for the rest of my life I want to make sure I don't get to where I was in 2008.

It takes a lot of work to keep "the girls" at bay and to camouflage the size. You do want people to look towards your eyes now and then. When you're extremely large, it is difficult to maintain proper posture, which severely compromises your spine which affects your entire body. To stand properly with shoulders back, head high, tummy in, you literally throw your breasts forward. Which only causes eyes to focus on what greets them first. I try not to go into the round shoulder slump.

With the extra duty support and the wide straps over the shoulder, the mere weight in front pulls me forward and the straps cross a nerve that triggers the intense pain. This week I will have breast reduction surgery. I'm nervous. Not so much about the technical part. I have spoken to women who have recently had this procedure done by the same surgeon I have. They could not be more pleased. The staff is wonderful. My PCP recommended this surgeon as "the best in the city". The women I've talked with feel better not just because a weight has been lifted from their shoulders (literally), they feel better in their clothes and have more energy. Physically and mentally. I am nervous as to how I will look. Not as others see me, but how I see me. My whole body dimensions are about to change overnight. I don't think I'll look like a freak to the outside world, but I am concerned how I will look in the mirror with no clothes on. I am parting with a big portion of my life.

If this were an enlarged adenoid, swollen tonsils, inflamed gall bladder, an appendicitis, no one would be able to tell you had something removed. Even if it were my ovaries being removed because they were hurting me, no one would look at me and think my appearance had significantly changed. This will be quite obvious.

I am grateful for the progress in the technique of this procedure. Sensitivity is expected to be the same, scaring is very, very minimal, healing is quick. I will look normal, just different.

I won't deny that I am looking forward to a smaller me. I want clothes to fit properly. Perky is good. Good body image is very good, especially when I have to find a job. It is the abnormal size for my frame that is freakish. I don't want to be self conscience or in pain keeping the breasts in place with the support bras (underwire). Ever have one of those wires break through the material and stab you for the rest of the day? The grooves in my shoulders, the redness under the breasts, keeping that area dry during the summer so rashes/infections do not come about is part of the daily routine. Cheap or unsupportive bras will give the girls free range, flip-flopping everywhere and nobody needs to see that. I am looking forward to maintaining the reduced pain in my neck, shoulder, back. I am looking forward to be able to purchase a dress.

I am finding that yoga is a good form of exercise for me. Low impact, breathing, stretching all of me is working in the maintenance of my neck/shoulder health.

Once I have had a few days to recover, I will update where I am mentally, emotionally, physically.