The Next Step   

...getting through life one step at a time.

...getting through life one step at a time.

Sunday, August 17, 2014

5 Stages of Bed Rest

When I was pregnant with the twins, I was on "modified bed rest" for about two months - which basically just meant house-arrest. I could peruse the fridge as I pleased, bake whatever morsel I was craving, and had no trouble making it to the bathroom every 15 minutes, or as needed. I just couldn't leave the house. Grocery delivery and detailed, specific lists for my husband pretty much took care of the day-to-day issues.

Two weeks ago I had ankle surgery that was apparently 40 years in the making, but only took about 14 months to plan and execute. I had "an osteochondral defect of the distal tibia" (a cyst in my shin bone) and "an os trigonum on the posterior talus" (accessory bone on the back of my ankle bone) that were idiopathic (they don't know what caused them, most likely present at birth.)

I scheduled the surgery for the last week of the summer semester so I would have as much time as possible before the fall semester to recover, so I could get on with my massage therapy training. Turns out, I was slightly misinformed about how long the recovery would be. When I asked the surgical coordinator she gave me the blanket "everyone recovers at a different rate." When I told her I was off pain meds after a c-section in under two weeks she just said, "Oh, you'll be fine then."

What she did NOT tell me about, was the mandatory 6 weeks of no weight on my ankle. I was told to elevate the ankle for 4-6 days after the surgery, but nothing about non-weight-bearing for weeks.

I'm still not sure how I am going to manage massage therapy practice on one leg. But it will be among the top questions I ask next week during my follow up appointment with the surgeon.

Until then, I'm on bed rest (for real), and am sharing with you now the 5 stages of bed rest that I've discovered over the last couple of weeks. Thankfully, my mom basically moved in with us to run the house while I recover.

1. Sleep. For the first two days after surgery I pretty much slept the whole time. I hibernated between doses of medication while my mother chased my three girls around the house and made sure every one was fed. Unfortunately, the medication was not of the same caliber as what they gave me for the c-section, so I don't have any fun stories about how I could make the bed swing to and fro, and side to side.

2. Irritation. After the numbness wore off, the itching started. And the plastic device wrapped around my ankle that could be hooked up to a pump to circulate ice water around my ankle began to feel like that plastic suit they make you wear in a sauna as part of bizarre weight-loss programs.  And the plaster half-cast splint thing running up the back of my leg intended to keep my ankle immobilized gained 10 pounds daily. And the cotton batting covering all of the aforementioned surfaces began to resemble wool socks, causing sweating and overheating in just one foot. And every hair on your head is pushing back against your scalp and twisting into a rats nest that you actually fear will encourage rats to take up residence in your hair.

3. Bliss. The incredible two to three days after you hack into the ace-bandage-wrapped split to remove one of the sauna-status-inducing layers. Your mom is bringing your meals to you in bed, your DVR is chock full of shows you have been wanting to watch but your kids interrupt you every 2.2 minutes, and your head is no longer too heavy to follow the rapid fire jokes of The Big Bang Theory.

4. Boredom. Your DVR has nothing left but new episodes of Bubble Guppies, and reruns of dumb shows your husband likes to watch. Your first outting to get a hair cut (to get rid of the rats nest) lasts less than an hour and wears you out so you feel like you are back in Stage 1. After you recover from your hair cut, you have enough energy that staying in bed all day is no longer an attractive plan. You start to over-post on Facebook like when you first joined and had no idea what to post on Facebook.

5. Experimentation. You start thinking you can cook dinner on one leg, so you start making home made macaroni and cheese, including shredding the cheese. You are so pleased with your success, you decide to clean up too, instead of leaving everything for your mom to clean up later when she returns from the grocery store with your three little darlings. Then one of your crutches slip in some water you spilled, and your good food slips a little too. And you understand what the recovery nurse meant when she said, "For safety's sake, if you have to touch down, it's not a big deal."

I keep flipping back and forth between Stages 4 and 5 - and right about now, the itching is starting to come back a little.

That follow up appointment where I hope they liberate my ankle from hot and sweaty confinement can't come soon enough (two more days!!)
Though I'm wondering if it will hurt at all. Judging from the length of leg hair I can see, and the assumption that it is growing and weaving amongst the cotton fibers inside the splint, I can only imaging a velcro-like ripping sound when it's all removed.

Wish me luck!

Saturday, May 17, 2014

"The Talk"

I have dreaded this for 6 years, 8 months, and 26 days.  And it just happened.  On the way home from getting cupcakes, and playing one of those pianos out on the street.

"Um, Mommy?  I have been thinking about T a lot lately and I'm wondering, why she doesn't have a dad."

"She doesn't need a dad, she has two mommies who love her very much."

"Oh, um, but, I thought *everyone* had a dad."

"Well, no.  Maybe it started out that way, but lots of people don't have dads.  Their dads could have died, moved away because the parents got divorced, or they might not have been able to take care of a baby so they gave the baby up for adoption."

"Adoption?  What's that?"

"Well, that's when the woman and man who, um, *had* the baby couldn't take care of it, so they found someone else who would love it and take care of it.  T is adopted."

"What?  So she *had* a dad?"

"Uh, well, yes.  Everyone starts out with a dad, that's um, that's how we get babies.  You know about blood cells right?  All the tiny little blood cells make up the blood, right?"


"Well, it's the same with babies.  But instead of just blood cells, there are mom-baby cells and dad-baby cells and they come together and become one bigger cell and then start growing into a baby.  And the baby grows inside the mom."

"Do the people eat the cells?  How do they get in there?"

"Um. No.  How much do you really want to know here?"

"I want to know EVERYTHING!"

"Oh.  Okay.  But this is NOT something you discuss with your sisters, they are too young, and this is NOT something you talk about at school - it is NOT appropriate school conversation."


"So, no, they don't eat the cells.  The dad has a penis, you know that, right?"


"And the mom has a vagina."


"So the man puts the penis in the vagina and squirts the baby cells into the mom, where they meet up with her baby cells and start growing a baby.  And when the baby is born, it comes out of the vagina - or like when I had your sisters, because there were two in there it was too difficult to do that, so the doctors cut me open to get your sisters out.  The mom and the dad who do that are called the "biological mom" and the "biological dad" but that doesn't mean they will be the mommy and the daddy."

"Oh. So, WHY doesn't T have a dad?"

"Well, because her biological mom and biological dad couldn't take care of her, so on the day she was born, they gave her to her two mommies who love her very much and have raised her and taken care of her.  Families don't all have to have the same parts - they just have to have people who love each other very much and take care of each others.  Like Auntie Heather, she's not related to us, but we love her so much she is part of our family."

"Oh, right.  Okay."

****Silence for the rest of the ride home as she mulls this new information over.*****

"So, um mommy?  I didn't know about that other part - I thought all babies were cut out.  Was I cut out?"



(And I swear I heard her gag just a little.)

Thursday, May 15, 2014

The Next NEXT Step

I have posted ONE time so far in 2014.  That post was called "The Next Step" because we moved from Massachusetts back to Virginia.  I haven't posted since then not because my brain isn't constantly thinking of stuff to share, but because the rest of me has been fully occupied in going back to school.

So this one is the next, NEXT step

It's not something I wanted to share when I started.  There was the fear of failure - what if I wash out and then I have to TELL everyone about it?

I aced my intro course, got a B in the prerequisite Human Biology class, and final grades aren't in yet for Therapeutic Massage I/Anatomy, but if I didn't get an A, it's a HIGH B+.

Yep, I am changing gears in my career once again.

My very first job was at a Bakin-Robbins ice cream store (at age 15), and from there I graduated to restaurants, an airline (packing bags in the belly of the planes), a non-profit environmental organization, a real estate settlement company, a law firm (where I spent lots of their money buying toys and planning parties), became a real estate agent, then back to a non-profit association pushing for better ways to handle traffic, and finally struck out on my own as an independent marketing consultant.  That lasted for all of 3 months as I attempted to work from home when the twins were two years old.  Conference calls?  Forget it!!  I continued with my gig working for free (sort of in-kind as I got major discounts at my favorite art center for the work I did for them) but I didn't feel write working for salary when I could barely give them my undivided attention for 1 hour per week.

After that revelation, and after the oldest kid started public school, I spent more than a year trying to figure out HOW I could go back to work, and work around my kids schedules.  Any part-time job I could walk in off the street and get wouldn't pay the babysitter and I would be bound by set schedules which I am sure would be akin to waiting for the cable guy - either making it impossible to drop my kid off at school, or making it impossible to pick her up.

WHAT job, out of the house, could I get that I could do for just a few hours a week, that wouldn't cost me more in babysitting than I was bringing in?

I spent that year reading all about the mommy-wars.  Moms who stay home with their kids look down their noses at women who "let other people raise their kids."  Moms who commute pity and deride those women who "don't really work, and have nothing better to do than sit around all day, siphoning off their working husbands."

I had been in both worlds and I was torn up a little about this decision.  And my husband was pressuring me to find some way to bring money in again - the pressure on him being the only wage-earner was immense.

Not that I was worried about what anyone would think of my decision - I hated the whole mommy-wars thing and felt it was really just trumped up by people seeking clicks and controversy.  I have always believed that whatever decision someone makes for their family is the BEST decision they can make at that time; it may not work for me, but I have different kids, a whole different family. 

Then one day, when I was still living in Massachusetts, my mom sent me a gift certificate for 3 massages at a local place.  (God bless you Mom - that is STILL the greatest gift ever!!)

I looked on with intense interest as the massage therapist walked in the door at the same time as me, minutes before my appointment.  I enjoyed the massage, and took note the next time of the therapist's schedule.  I talked to her.  I questioned her about her training - how long did it take?  how much did it cost? where did you go?

These thoughts mulled around in my head for another year.

If you recall, I hate feet.  Even baby feet.  So I was a little worried that I wouldn't be able to jump into a new career that would require me to TOUCH other people's feet.

In fact, that is the first thing my husband said to me when I broached this subject with him:  "How can you do this?  You HATE feet!"

Turns out - I just hate LOOKING at feet.  And since you massage with your hands and not your eyes, I'm all good!  (So stop posting pictures of your feet on Facebook!  You are giving me the heebie-jeebies!!)

I investigated the three local massage schools, and it really came down to price.  National school: $13,500; Northern Virginia school: $8,500; Norther Virginia Community College: $3,025.

I'm usually leery of the least expensive item, adhering to the old adage: "You get what you pay for." But the first two are private schools, and with a community college, it's a state-sponsored institution so they are getting funding elsewhere in addition to tuition.  (And the $95 PER SEMESTER parking pass!)

Since fully committing to this path, I am glad that I did.  I have heard anecdotes from doctors and chiropractors that they have high regard for the quality of education I am getting.  My instructor is an expert in her field, and really cares about the kind of massage therapists we will become some day.  She is hard on us in the tests, but fair in her assessment of our knowledge. 

Comments from my instructor after a 15 minute back massage that was part of my final exam: "Well, you definitely got an A." - "That was VERY relaxing." - "The pressure was just right."

I have been trading massages with my classmates every week as well as giving a massage to someone outside of class every week.  I have really gotten used to weekly massages!  I've learned Swedish, Hot Stone, Sports, and dabbled in Reflexology, as well as gotten instruction in Yin-Yang massage by the very man who invented the technique!  (And I have been fully instructed in the correct pronunciation of "Yin-Yang" - it is "In-Young")

So I'm really happy with this next step I have taken.  I feel successful, and smart, despite the difficulty in learning all the anatomy that has been thrust upon me in the last 12 weeks.  (I EVEN went to a cadaver lab at Howard University to see what the muscles and structure REALLY looks like!)

Summer semester starts next week and I'll be jumping into Therapeutic Massage II/Physiology, Entrepreneurship of Massage Therapy, CPR, and working an internship that will require my presence in a massage therapy clinic every Saturday for the next 12 weeks.

While I will not be telling stories on my classmates and clients (because that would be way beyond unethical), I will share with you some of the stories of massages I have received - because there have been some BAD ones!

Have a great summer - I probably will not have time to write again until after my ankle surgery in August!  (Did I forget to mention I have a cyst in my distal tibia?  Oh well, that's another story.)

The website is under construction, but you can follow me on Facebook by clicking this Relax & Heal link.

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