We’re having a baby!

Hooray! Baby Morrison will be joining us in October of this year, and we couldn’t be more excited! I’ve been gathering info for this post but putting off writing it. Everyone keeps telling me how quickly the time will pass, and even if it feels slow now, I probably shouldn’t put off writing about it! My memory is already getting bad as it is.

January 2019

Since my running had been going terribly, I decided to get my ferritin level tested to see if I was anemic. I hate going to the doctor, so I ordered a CBC+Ferritin test online and presented it to LabCorp without having to go through a doctor! I got the results back, and there were a few concerning things. First of all, my ferritin level was 215. To put that into perspective, my level has never been above 50, and the normal range ends at 150, so that was absolutely bonkers. I also had some indicators of hypothyroidism, so I scheduled a doctor’s appointment to talk to someone about my results.

January 28th

I had a doctor’s appointment that afternoon, and I assumed they would ask me to take a pregnancy test since we were trying to have a baby. I really didn’t want to find out I was pregnancy in a doctor’s office, so I took a test that morning even though it was pretty much the earliest possible day I could find out (roughly 5 days before my period was due). I braced myself for a negative (which due to the early nature could have been a false negative) and was seriously shocked it was positive. I got to tell Josh he was going to be a dad and we took this photo at 5:56am. #wewokeuplikethis

My doctor said all of my abnormal tests were likely due to the very early stage pregnancy and ordered another test for me, just to double check everything, mainly the thyroid issue. She was wonderful, and I’m happy to have found a doctor I like!

Things I learned about pregnancy

  1. You count weeks from your last period, not from ovulation. This makes perfect sense since most women can remember their last period and likely don’t track ovulation, but it felt like cheating to me when I was extremely early. 4 weeks pregnant means you’ve only actually been pregnant for 2! Half the time!
  2. Your OB-Gyn doesn’t see you until you’re 6-8 weeks pregnant. If you find out as early as I did, that is a LOT of time to freak out and worry about all the things that could go wrong and wonder if you’re really pregnant.

February 2019

I spent the first week of February in Charleston with the Praxis team and it was SO HARD not to say anything. My notes from that trip say, “Keeping this secret is exhausting!”

I did take a sneaky picture when we took a trip to the beach. I was about 5 weeks pregnant, so Baby Mo as we were calling the baby was the size of an apple seed, so I could send it to Josh.

A couple of weeks later I finally had my first doctor’s appointment! Apparently my insurance at the time required a “confirmation of pregnancy” appointment before you have your “initial OB” appointment, so my visit was very quick. We did get to see the tiny baby (1/3 of a cm) and the movement of a heartbeat, so that was cool! It made it real that there was actually something there even if it was very small. I also got put on levothyroxine for my thyroid.

I eagerly called Becka on the way home from the doctor, and we got to share the news with Josh’s parents later that day, too. We were seeing my parents the next week for my birthday, so they were the first ones we got to tell in person! I’m pretty proud of my delivery as well. Their 40th wedding anniversary is coming up in October, so I asked if they new what the gift was for the 40th. Dad sarcastically guessed paper, and then I said, “Oh, I thought it was that you got your first grandchild?” 😉

“Morning” Sickness

I’m sure most people have heard that morning sickness is poorly named, and that is the TRUTH. My notes for February 19th are, “Been a rough nausea day. I made ramen at 9am.”

Luckily weeks 7 and 9 were the worst for me, and I was almost fully past morning sickness by week 10-11.

March 2019

I went back to the doctor and had my “first OB” appointment which was much more informative than my first one! I got a goodie bag and a packet of information and instructions not to type my questions into Google but instead to ask the doctor. I got to see the baby again who was actually visible this time. I still hadn’t heard the heartbeat, but my doctor showed me the wiggly heart and measured the rate.

More pregnancy fun

Pregnancy nausea is a fine balance where you try not to get hungry but you also try not to eat too much. You essentially snack all day or do the “six small meals a day” plan. I get no joy from constant snacking or small meals! But being hungry was terrifying, and eating too much was horrible too, so snack all the time it was. At my second doctor’s appointment they made a comment about how I had already gained some weight – well that’s what happens when you eat constantly!

Most common acne products aren’t pregnancy approved, so I had to switch to something that was. My skin has been on a rollercoaster of breaking out badly all over, clearing up, and then having spotty breakouts, and also clearing up. It’s definitely been tough from a self-confidence standpoint.

April 2019

I reallllly wanted to announce publicly on April 1st as a not-joke, but I had my 12-week appointment on April 2nd, and I just wanted to make sure everything was still good. This marked the first of my double appointments where I see my doctor quickly (weight check, blood pressure check, doppler to hear the heartbeat) and then go to another office to see a specialist. The specialist office had a much fancier ultrasound, and Baby Mo was nearly 10 cm long at this point! Still looks a bit like a blob with a big head but more like a baby than a month ago.

I got my blood drawn for the cell free test that checks for Trisomy 13, 18, and 21 as well as the sex of the baby. They told me they would call me with the results but wouldn’t leave the sex on voicemail, so I’d have to call them back for that. Because of this, we knew there wasn’t a way for Josh and I to find out together as I’d find out before him, so he asked me to surprise him with a cookie cake.

Just a week later, I got the call! She told me the results were negative for all of the trisomy tests and asked if I wanted to know the sex. I said yes, and she replied, “You’re having a baby boy.”

A boy! I was so excited to know…and a bit shocking! I made a cookie cake for Josh just like he asked and sent him a photo of the blank cake before I decorated it. Then it was just the wait for him to come home from work!

15 weeks down, 25 to go!

Team ALL in for Hattie

I have an exciting announcement! My friend and college teammate Thomas Clarke was nominated as a candidate for The Leukemia & Lymphoma Society’s (LLS) 2019 Man & Woman of the Year campaign, and I am a part of his team.

Thomas and I were both drawn to this cause because of our friend Lauren Harrison whose daughter was diagnosed with acute lymphoblastic leukemia (ALL) last summer. Lauren is an excellent writer, and you can read the full story on Hattie here.

There are a lot of ways for you to be involved and the easiest is to donate. You can even join our team if you’d like! These funds go directly to LLS in support of its mission to find a cure to blood cancer and improve the quality of life for patients & their families.

Please join me in helping fund the research to find a cure for blood cancers!

 

 

Dance with who You Came With

Yesterday I did 800s at a pace slower than I used to run mile repeats. They were sufficiently hard with a nice dose of weird.

The comparison game makes getting in shape difficult. Thanks to my diligent logging, I can look up the splits of past workouts and see the difference with just a few clicks.

In the middle of my workout yesterday, I tried a new mantra.

You’ve gotta be good with where you are and what you have.

It reminded me of the saying, “You’ve gotta dance with who you came with.” I have to run intervals with the body and fitness that I have right now, not what I had in 2017 because apparently just wanting to be faster doesn’t make you run faster.

Once you accept where you are, you’re better able to see the benefits of your effort. Each workout builds a little more fitness and gets you closer to the times you want to run. There are no shortcuts to get there, and the process will be a lot more enjoyable if you’re at peace with where you are and what you have.

 

Getting back on the track

Today I ran on a track for the first time in 7 months. It felt…good? difficult? almost fast? tiring? exciting? disappointing?

There are a lot of unknowns in injury, and they don’t go away as you make your way back. There is no secret formula that says you’ll get back in shape without hurting yourself if you run this far at this speed but will hurt yourself again if you run further and/or faster than that. You try to balance your overprotective mom brain (“be careful, sweetie!”) with your over competitive athlete brain (“suck it up, wuss!”) and end with feeling…confused.

Was what I just ran impressive? Should I be proud of myself? Or should I have pushed harder, ran longer, and finished faster? Do I even have the fitness to do that right now?

I have been a planner my entire life, and the last 7 months have turned me into someone who tries not to think more than a couple of days in advance. The way to stay sane is to not get attached to the plan. Then there’s nothing to be sad about when the plan changes.

I’m not sure if I’m “back” or still a ways out from that. I’m not sure if I’ll start working out on the track again every week or every other week or what. But I’m trying to savor the positives of this morning. Like the cadence of running into the curve of a 200, the familiar sound the wind makes as you cut through the air at a new speed, and the sight of sweat flinging off your body as you pump your arms.

Yeah…that stuff is pretty good.

 

Things I Miss

8-mile Mondays

Track Tuesdays

Morning crew Wednesdays

Strength double Thursdays

Recovery Fridays

Long Run Saturdays

Weight sessions Sundays

The nervousness of racing

A finishing kick

The track

Settling into the clip of a tempo run

Sweating so much during a long run that you can wring out your socks

Summer afternoon doubles

The tingly, satisfied tired after some heavy squats and deadlifts

Calculating lap splits ahead of a workout

Stressing about a workout

Waking up anxious for a workout

Finishing fast in a workout

Writing out post-workout splits

Writing a novel for a log entry

Exploring trails because it doesn’t matter if you get lost – you’ve got a lot of miles to run

The smell of a rubber track on a hot and humid morning

Lacing up flats

“One more ’til one more”

Pushing through another interval when your legs are already shaking

Lactic acid

Being tired

Sleeping like a rock

Planning races/training months in advance

Thinking about a marathon

Talking about running

Talking about racing

Meeting other people to run

Doing workouts

Being in shape

Feeling committed

Eating a giant bowl of ice cream on Saturday night

Splitting my watch

Adding up miles

Running without thinking

Training

Pinning a number on a singlet

…just to name a few

And if you made it this far, read this: What Happens When We Take a Break from Running?

Halfway through 2018

I’ve started this post many times and abandoned it out of frustration. But now it’s been far too long since I posted anything and something about the looming date of July 1st and the second half of 2018 has me ready to ship this thing.

2018 has not gone as planned to put it mildly. To get an accurate picture of why it’s been so hard, I have to back up to 2017.

2017 was da bomb. I accomplished almost everything I set my mind to. I started the year coming back from a slight hamstring/adductor injury and busted out a giant 10k PR in March, squeezing under my goal time of 39:30 by a little over 5 seconds.

Then I headed into track season and eked out an 800 meter PR without specifically training for it. I had a solid summer and ran a 5k in August that indicated I could actually meet my lifetime goal for the 5k in Macon next month.

Breaking 18 minutes for 5k has been my goal since 2008. It’s always been something that I mostly considered just out of my reach but would be really freaking cool if I accomplished. It wasn’t unrealistic, like trying to go to the Olympics, but it wasn’t so easy that I did it in college which is when I was in arguably the best shape of my life.

The Macon Labor Day 5k is a screaming fast 5k course, and I’ve been known to run the first mile of that course faster than a flat out mile on the track. It’s a certified 5k distance, but it’s much faster than any other courses, especially in hilly Atlanta. I know that running a sub-18 at Macon doesn’t make me a consistent sub-18 runner elsewhere, but I just want to cover the distance in under that amount of time.

Between my August race and Labor Day, training went full bore, and I was attempting some of the hardest workouts of my running career. I say attempting because I often fell off the assigned paces, but I was doing so with the full confidence that I was close and could get there.

Labor Day rolled around and I ran 18:01.93. Even though I missed my lifetime goal by less than 2 seconds, I was ECSTATIC with the PR. I haven’t had much of a breakthrough since college, and I was ready to celebrate my success rather than mourn the fact that I didn’t accomplish my goal.

Given the extremely fast nature of the course, I set my eyes on September of 2018 for my next realistic attempt at sub-18. I finished out my fall racing season despite the hamstring/adductor issues cropping up again, and then took some time off around the holidays to try to get that under control.

Ok now finally back to this year

2018 began with planning and goal setting for the year. I wanted to essentially repeat 2017, only do everything faster. I’ve learned to be more selective with races and wanted to pare it down even more for 2018. I even started researching a late fall marathon for after my Labor Day focus!

Hamstring/adductor issues continued. I diagnosed myself with high hamstring tendinopathy and started doing bridges every day. This gave me some relief, but honestly it became “normal” for my upper hamstrings to hurt when I run…or when I sit too long…especially in the car.

February 2018

At the end of the month I noticed my left knee was also hurting as I started to run. This plus both hamstrings made for some awkward, jolty steps to begin with before getting into a normal rhythm. I iced it and would foam roll/use the lacrosse ball on my lower quads, right above my knee cap, and kept on with my training. And my lifting! I was doing squats and grimacing through them because “no pain, no gain” right?

March 2018

Ok so both of my knees hurt now? And still having hamstring/adductor issues. At least my knees hurt differently. My left knee is swollen and hurts in a vertical pattern and is EXTREMELY painful with hyperextension, and my right knee feels like pretty normal patellar tendonitis, probably from overcompensating for my left knee.

It’s a weird pattern because there will be days when I finish running and feel fine and days where 30 minutes after I’m done, it feels like my knee is going to fall off.

I take it really easy the week of my 10k, wear KT tape, and run the race…about 75 seconds slower than last year. Feeling like you need to limp after a race is NOT worth it to run that slow, so I take some down time and go see a physical therapist at the end of the  month.

Side note: I think physical therapists are the best and have only had really positive experiences with them. If you’ve ever had a bad experience at a doctor’s office (like 90% of the time when I go), imagine your ideal situation of someone listening to you and forming a long term plan of action for healing, and that is physical therapy.

April 2018

I’m in PT twice a week getting dry needled and doing exercises with the blood flow restriction cuff (BFR). I now have an elaborate warm up routine to do before I run every morning, and I’m restricted to 4-5 miles at a time as we try to get everything calmed down.

Near the end of the month, the PTs evaluate my running form again by filming me on the treadmill and suggest I try to lean forward just a bit and/or engage my lower core. I run very upright and heel strike, and apparently this prevents the glutes from firing at all, meaning my hamstrings and adductors have to work overtime and get irritated.

I tried my new running form a couple of days later and found out that leaning forward makes me go super fast which was pretty fun! I also started having 90% pain free runs (for hamstrings/adductors) and could sit in the car without squirming around. It was like magic! Engage your glutes, and the rest of your muscles are happy. Got it.

Side note: leaning forward while running also led to me taking a tumble and skinning my right knee which was almost funny but mostly annoying. 😉

May 2018

For the first half of the month, I’m on cloud 9. I graduate to only 1 PT appointment each week, and I’m cleared to increase my mileage a little bit. The swelling in my left knee and pain with hyperextension has never improved, but it doesn’t actively hurt while I run, so I focus on the positives like that I drove over an hour in the car and didn’t want to scream about my hamstrings when I got out.

I also incorporated a little speed back into my life. Strides had been a major point of pain with my hamstrings/adductors, and now I could do them without that wrenching, resistance to changing speed. I even did “long” runs of 8 and 9 miles!

And then I relapsed. That’s what I’m calling it at least. While my knee had never seen much improvement, I went from pain free hamstring/adductors back to how I felt in March before I even started PT. Running with my leaned over form, working my glutes with rehab exercises, nothing helped. I would get a slight relief from dry needling at PT every week, but I was back to laying on my stomach instead of sitting and wincing through my jolted first steps of a run.

I was incredibly frustrated. Renewed pain plus the fact that my knee was still a little puff ball led me to make an appointment with a sports medicine doctor.

June 2018

At the doctor’s office I had X-rays which were normal and performed some tests for the doctor. The he had me lay on the exam table and felt both of my knees. He had the great quote, “Your right knee clicks a little bit, but the left one just grinds!”

He recommended an MRI since I had swelling for so long and had already been in PT for 8-10 weeks.

Luckily with all of the PT I’ve done, I already hit my deductible for the year, so the MRI was cheap. I got in 2 days later and then had to wait until the following Monday for him to give me the results (because MRI techs can’t tell you anything).

The results were:

These findings are consistent with a partial tear of the origin of the patellar tendon. This is most pronounced on the medial aspect. Edema is seen in the adjacent superior aspect of Hoffa’s infrapatellar fat pad.

I was convinced I had fat pad impingement, so I was happy to hear I was partially right. But not actually happy because that sucks! He said if I didn’t have a traumatic moment of knowing I tore my tendon, it could also be tendinosis, which reads very similar on an MRI.

I was highly irritated at the results being “tendinosis” because I thought it was just a fancy word for tendonitis which is (in my mind) not serious at all. But after some Googling and calming down, I learned that tendinosis is the advanced stage of tendonitis, where there isn’t an inflammatory response anymore, and you’re actually doing damage (that is my unscientific take).

The recommended treatment is the same whether it’s a partial tear or tendinosis – an injection. I had the choice between Amniofix and PRP, 2 types of regenerative medicines.

Amniofix

Amniofix had a full recovery time of 4-6 weeks with a warning that the 2-3 days following the injection are “extremely painful.” Like, prescription pain meds painful. It comes from donated placentas, and the growth factors get to work inside your body to repair your tendon.

PRP

Platelet rich plasma had a full recovery time of 6-12 weeks and an easy immediate recovery from the injection. They draw blood from your arm, spin it down to separate the plasma, and then inject that for the growth factors to work on repairing your tendon.

 

I went with the Amniofix. I loved the idea of my body working to repair itself from my own plasma, but I thought the “extreme pain” was probably overhyped and wanted that faster recovery time.

I got my injection later that week.

They start my using an ultrasound to look at your tendon. He showed me the part of my patellar tendon that was thickened due to the injury, which I pretended to see because it looked exactly the same as the undamaged side to me. Then they spray your knee with cold spray and you get some numbing injections.

The numbing injections were pretty uncomfortable. The needle going in wasn’t so bad, but moving around to inject in all the areas for the Amniofix injection wasn’t great. But the good thing is that it starts to work quickly, and I didn’t feel the second needle with the Amniofix at all.

I was really achy and swollen for the rest of the day. They said I’d stay numb for 2-3 hours, but I had a deep ache in my knee by the time I was driving home. And I definitely laid on the couch for the rest of the day, only hobbling out to Publix to get my pain meds.

I took a pain pill before going to sleep and expected to wake up in “extreme pain” the next morning. To my pleasant surprise, I was FINE. I still had a lot of swelling (that’s what happens when you get needles jabbed in you), but the pain I felt pre-injection and yesterday was gone. The swelling only got better over the next few days as well.

The injection came with 10 days of no running. I thought this was a small price to pay for a hopeful quick recovery of my knee, so I went for walks, I cut the grass, I swam, etc. I kept myself busy and looked forward to Monday the 25th when I could run again. I planned to start with some run-walk to be careful.

Monday morning I did my pre-run routine and headed to the river for some soft surface running. Much to my absolute horror, my hamstring/adductors felt just as bad (worse actually) as before my 10 days off. 10 DAYS! I haven’t take that much time consecutively off in who knows how long. And to not feel any improvement at all???

My knee feels fine, by the way.

I’ve joked with some people who ask how I’m doing that “I’m fine! I just have a breakdown every 3 weeks or so.” My latest was on Tuesday, so hopefully I’m good for a bit.

After another attempt at running going slightly better than the day before but still bad, I’m taking a longer break. I love running, but it currently is only hating me, specifically my hamstrings/adductors, so we need some time apart.

I’m still going to run-walk Peachtree next week. My PT agreed that it’s not going to set me back and the mental/emotional toll of not being there could be worse than the physical toll, so I’m looking forward to trying again then and maybe seeing some slight improvement after another week.

Answers

The most frustrating part of my “relapse” is the lack of a clear answer. Everything made sense for a while:

Exercise the quads, knees feel better
Exercise the glutes, hamstrings feel better
Change your running form, everything feels better

And it’s an oversimplification that I just got back into running too fast. If that were the case, I would see improvement with the time off that I took.

I have a new theory, and since clinging to an answer seems to help my emotional state, I’m sticking with it.

Part of PT has been working on my thoracic spine mobility and my cross-body stabilization. I’ll never forget my appointment where I did an exercise of pulling across my body that I could only do on one side. When I switched directions, it’s like I was frozen, unable to will my body to pull the rope across.

I think the breakdown of my cross-body stabilization started with my knee. I’ve been sub consciously and consciously favoring my left side for months. When I engaged my glutes for the first time, my hamstrings and adductors felt the relief they’d been wanting, but when I upped my mileage, the relief didn’t last as my stabilization breaks down when I get tired. Then it was exacerbated by my knee getting worse and ultimately being heavily favored post-injection.

I have no idea if that’s true, but it’s what I’m sticking with for now. I have some killer core exercises now that work on my stabilization, and I’m continuing my long list of rehab exercises and well as new forms of cardio to keep me sane.

The Second Half of 2018

I don’t know what I have planned. This injury has been a long process of letting go of my goals and plans for the year. The marathon was the first to go, and as we’ve gotten closer and closer to September, I know that I won’t be in shape (heck, might not even be fully training then), and that has been hard.

“All frustration in this world comes from unmet expectations.” So what’s the plan for Q3 and Q4 of 2018? *shrug emoji*

ALL THE THINGS about Lasik

I got Lasik yesterday. It’s been a long time coming, but it’s one of those things that is expensive and it’s not medically necessary, so I would always think, “maybe next year.” I finally did it, though!

Since I’m a research-aholic, I wanted to write a post detailing every step of my process in case it helps someone else in the future.

Getting Approved

To know if you’re a candidate for Lasik, you have to get approval from your eye doctor and the doctor at the surgeon’s office. At this appointment they check your prescription (has to be stable for at least a year) and dilate your eyes to get a clear view of the back. Dilation is inconvenient to a nearsighted person like myself because when I’m dilated I can’t see close up OR far away very well. I was playing on my phone in the waiting area waiting for the drops to work and had to start holding it further and further away from my face (like my parents do with restaurant menus).

Shopping Around

Once I got the ok from my eye doctor, I set up evaluation appointments at 2 different surgery centers in Atlanta – TLC and Woolfson. With something as important as your eyes, it’s a good plan to get more than one quote and to know what you’re paying for. Both TLC and Woolfson had multiple offices, high ratings, and offered a lifetime guarantee on their surgeries – something the places that advertise on the radio at $250/eye don’t offer.

The worst part about the evaluations was having to be out of my contacts for 3-5 days prior to the appointment. Since contacts affect the shape of your cornea, they want to get the measurements as close as they’ll be on the day of surgery (where you’ll have been out of contacts for 2+ weeks).

My first appointment was at Woolfson, and they did the tests to measure your corneal thickness (what determines if you get Lasik or another procedure called PRK) which mainly involved me looking into machines that flashed lights at me. I probably saw 4 different techs or eye doctors before I finished up in a lady named Ann’s office to talk prices and scheduling.

Something I wish I would have known ahead of time: Surgeons only work in that location on certain days, usually up to once a week. I had in my head that I would try to get surgery on a specific day (or week if I had to be flexible), and neither of those were an option, making my possible surgery date almost 2 weeks later than I wanted. It was disappointing, but since I had another evaluation in a couple of days, I didn’t let it get me down. I might not even go with Woolfson!

My evaluation with TLC was 2 days later and was the complete opposite. The first thing we did was discuss scheduling and pricing. They only do procedures every 2 weeks, and I wouldn’t be able to get in until April. This was really disappointing but then became moot when they wouldn’t match Woolfson’s price. The lady actually originally said they would match it and then later came back with a quote $500 higher saying it was the lowest they could go. At this point, going through with the evaluation seemed like a waste of time, but I did it anyway to be extra cautious and because I probably would have just sat in traffic with the extra time anyway. The doctor was super nice and asked me about running, so it was fine.

Later that day I called Woolfson to confirm my surgery date and managed to get an additional 2.5% off as well. I was pumped! And since my surgery was so far out, I got to go back into contacts for another week.

Leading up to surgery

My least favorite part about getting Lasik has been other people’s comments about it.

Oh I could never do that.

Aren’t you worried?

I heard you have to watch a video of the procedure before they let you do it.

You can smell your eyeball burning when the laser cuts it.

etc, etc, etc. These people are the worst and usually uninformed.

My second least favorite part about getting Lasik was wearing glasses for 2 weeks. I’ve always hated wearing glasses which is why I got contact at age 10 – the youngest my eye doctor would allow. I remember spending hours at the doctor’s office when I got them because you have to be able to take them out and put them back in twice before they let you leave.

Since I spend all of my insurance money on contacts each year, I have some cheap glasses from ZeniOptical that don’t fit quite right. They constantly slide down my nose, so I push them up ever 5 seconds. Thankfully I found these babies on Amazon for $4! They were game changers for wearing glasses while running.

Surgery prep

The morning of surgery I was anxiously excited. They give you a multi-page consent form to sign that talks about the possibility of going blind numerous times, so that has the ability to put a damper on your excitement. Then there’s lots of waiting.

They measure your prescription and corneal thickness again before you go to the pre-op waiting room. They also mark your eyes. When they told me this, I assumed they would write “right” and “left on my eyelids or below my eyebrows or something. Nope! After giving you numbing drops, they take a pen and literally make two dots on each eye. I giggled and messed up the doctor as she was trying to mark my first eye because it’s so unnerving to have someone come at your eye with a pen.

These marks somehow help the doctor. I was unclear about all of that, but they let me keep the pen, so that was cool!

The pre-op waiting room is essentially an assembly line of eyeballs. The chairs closest to the door are going in next and they snake around the room. I was the first person from the second group of the day, so I went to the end of the line.

David was in charge of the pre-op room and he was both hilarious and a little scary. He was an older British gentleman who kept things like with both kind and unkind jokes. He knew how to read the room, though, and noticeably softened when a younger girl came in for PRK later and was visibly nervous.

This is the room where we got our hair nets, booties, and forehead stickers. David would give instructions every few minutes, so each person got to hear them multiple times. He told us how when the suction applied to our eye, the pupil would contract, so we would lose vision for 10-15 seconds and not to scream because it’s normal. Then we had lots of post-op instructions as well – mainly to not touch our eyes – and a goodybag with a stuffed wolf, our eye shields, and written instructions.

I realized early on that my wolf only had 1 eye. At first I panicked thinking it was a bad sign for eye surgery, but then I found the humor in the situation. It didn’t last long, though, because David found out about my one-eyed wolf and said, “That won’t do!” and switched my bag. I then said the most millennial thing I’ve ever said, “But I already put him on Instagram!”

After the first group finished up, Dr. Woolfson came into our waiting room to address us together. It was fun to learn more about him as he conversed with other patients – grew up all over the place including South Africa and Zimbabwe, speaks 5 languages, etc. Then he went over our charts with us individually, and the surgery assembly line started up again! I was second, so I had a short wait before it was my turn.

The Surgery

A nurse gives you your first set of numbing drops before you walk in, and then you get another set as you lay on the table. They have a nice prop to go under your knees, so laying on your back isn’t so bad. They had me confirm my birthday and social security number, and then they slide you back to where you’re under the machine. There were 4 sets of white lights that were SO BRIGHT and then a single green light. I knew getting my eye held open was up next, but I was having trouble even opening my eye on my own with the brightness. He turned it down a little for me, and then put the lid opener on the top lid followed by the bottom lid. I would say that 10 seconds was the worst of the entire surgery. The feeling of pressure on your lower lid with that thing sticking in it bordered on the edge between uncomfortable and pain. He told me I had small eyes, so it was a tight fit. Then came the suction thing.

I don’t know what the suction thing is, but it does take away your vision for 10-15 second and it relieves some of the lid holder pressure, so it wasn’t too bad at that point. Then the actual surgery is very brief. Sometimes you can see the green light above you, and sometimes everything looks like this:

I thought to myself that I wanted to try to re-create what I saw in MS Paint. It was harder than I thought! I tried to concentrate on blinking my covered eye since David told us that would help our held-open eye relax, and I just counted. Having something to focus on helps me when I’m nervous, and I like counting.

The laser makes a rumbling noise, and there is a smell from the gases it uses (not from burning your eyeball), but it doesn’t smell like burning hair like David told us. Then he has to smooth down the flap he made on your cornea, so you can actually see him wiping your eye with what looks like a tiny squeegee. I thought this was funny but not enough to laugh. When he wipes closer to your lid or eye lashes (which aren’t numbed), it’s quite the interesting sensation. Your eye gets some more drops, more wiping, and then everything comes off. Getting the lid opener out of my right eye was almost as painful as him putting it in.

I would highly recommend getting both eyes done at the same time, but I definitely had a heart rate spike in between the two. Even though the first eye took about 3 minutes, knowing that I had to do it all over again made me feel panicked. I started breaking in through my nose and out through my mouth and counting to 10 and starting over. Thanks, Kimmy Schmidt!

Dr. Woolfson gave me more numbing drops for my left eye because he knew the lid holder was so bad for me. Didn’t feel a thing on that side! Then the suction thing to make your vision disappear for a bit, then the back and forth of trying to focus on the green dot or everything being red and splotchy, then the smoothing of the flap, then I was done!

They slide me out from under the machine, and a tech came and helped me sit up and put a pair of sunglasses on me. Then the obligatory social media photo (Woolfson is big on social media) before David led me to the recovery chairs. While I’m glad to have been somewhere that takes your photo after surgery (and lets your spouse watch if they want!), I didn’t appreciate that David asked me if I was interested in going on Facebook Live at that moment. Even though the surgery went great (according to Dr. Woolfson and me by not being blind), I was visibly shaking and felt that was a bit too aggressive of an ask. But he didn’t ask again – just the once.

I would describe my vision at this point as – better than it was without glasses but still blurry. I also had a ton of drops in my eyes. I managed to text Josh and was able to see a few things on my phone but mainly just closed my eyes.

Another doctor took me to an exam room and gave me more drops. Then another doctor looked at my eyes with the microscope, then more drops, then I was all done! I was at the office for a little over 2.5 hours and was in surgery for under 10 minutes. Crazy!

Post Surgery

The best thing you can do after Lasik is to sleep for 3-4 hours, and they give you some sleeping aids, so I was excited about my prescription nap. They need to be taken with food, though, so I started making mac and cheese when I got home. Even though making mac and cheese takes about 10 minutes, I felt like I was going to pass out. I spent a lot of time leaning on the counter closing my eyes while the noodles were cooking, and my right cheekbone felt like someone punched me from the lid holder. After I got a bowl in my stomach with my sleeping pills, I went to bed.

I have some eye shields I need to wear today and tomorrow, so I taped them on my face with surgical tape and laid down/ I thought for sure I would pass out in minutes, but my anxious heart was still beating wayyy too fast for that. I eventually felt the pills kick in because I started caring a lot less and felt closer to drifting away.

I slept for about 2.5 hours before waking up the first time. I wasn’t able to sleep anymore, but I was committed to 4 hours with my eyes closed, so I put on a podcast and laid back down.

The rest of the day I was up and moving but pretty lethargic. My vision was still improving to the point that I almost felt like I had contacts in. I can remember thinking “I need to take my contacts out” multiple times as I was getting ready for bed. Then on with the eye shields again and more sleep.

One Day Post Surgery

I woke up with one eye shield in my hair and the other down the side of my face, so there’s that. I don’t seem to have touched my eyes in my sleep, though, because I can see really well this morning! My vision has actually reversed some – I’m having a bit of farsightedness right now. I went to my day after appointment this morning, and the doctor told me that is normal and likely due to some swelling.

Things are going swimmingly, though! I try to keep up with what time it is, so I can do all of my drops (there are so many drops), and I keep my new sunglasses on, and I haven’t experienced any pain or discomfort. As of right now, 10/10 would recommend.

 

 

Happy Winter Solstice!

Today is the first day of winter, which is my least favorite season of the year. Technically, today is my least favorite day of the year because the season change marks the shortest day in terms of daylight hours. But there’s something about it being the shortest that gives me hope.

Quick recap on how seasons work: The earth rotates around the sun (the big yellow one is the sun), and the earth is on a tilted axis. The day that the north pole is the furthest from the sun is the winter solstice, and the day that the north pole is closest to the sun is the summer solstice (for the northern hemisphere). There are 2 days where the tilt is neither away from or toward the sun, and those are the equinoxes for summer and fall.

 

Winter is my least favorite because in addition to being cold, gray, and everything dying, there are also barely any daylight hours. If you commute to your job, you likely drive to work while it’s still dark and drive home after the sun has already set. You spend all of your daylight hours indoors and might need to take a vitamin D supplement. No sunshine is also a cause of seasonal affective disorder. Overall, winter is kind of the pits.

The reason the winter solstice gives me hope is because it’s the shortest day of the year, so every day for the next 6 months is just a little longer. Typically in December we haven’t gotten extreme winter temperatures or weather (with the exception of the random foot of snow the south got 2 weeks ago), so I haven’t really started to suffer or hate winter yet. I hang on to the hope that every day the sun rises a minute or two earlier and sets a minute or two later for when I need it in the bleakness of January or the inevitable rain of February. Each day the sun rises just a bit higher as the north pole tilts its way closer to the sun.

So today is a day to celebrate because tomorrow will have a bit more daylight, and so will the day after that and the day after that…all the way until summer.

Thoughts I have while Sick

There are certainly always times where our rational self argues with our irrational self, but this occurs the most often with me when I’m sick. Since it’s such a rarity, I consider it a major inconvenience. Having to take time out of your day to see a doctor who is usually rude, not to mention the exposure to other sick people, makes a trip to an office a harrowing journey. Here’s my typical thought process for being ill:

(The moment something feels off)

Rational me: Probably nothing

(Symptoms persist, textbook for X condition, X being strep, flu, cold, etc)

Rational me: I should probably check on this.

(Google symptoms)

Rational me: Yep – looks like I might have X. I wonder if I should go to the doctor?

(Enter, Irrational me)

Irrational me: It might go away. You might not even be sick. You’re being a hypochondriac and overreacting. Just give it another day. You don’t even feel that bad!

(Wait a day, symptoms persist, sometimes getting worse)

Rational me: I need to go to the doctor. This is silly – I could be a day closer to feeling better if I just went yesterday.

(Check the wait times at nearby Minute Clinics, where you can sign up to reserve your spot in line, 3 of which are within 20 minutes of my house)

Irrational me: 118-minute wait time! No way! Ain’t nobody got time for that (choosing to ignore the save your place in line function). Again, I don’t even feel that bad. Won’t this go away on its own?

Consult Dr. Google again – “Will X go away on its own?”

Read various articles, all of which say “not likely”

Rational me: Ok, that’s it. I can’t just flush this out of my system by doubling my water intake. It’s actually something that responds to antibiotics. It’s not a virus, and all of these people are saying even if they did get better on their own, they wouldn’t recommend that to anyone just because it can get worse without treatment.

Irrational me: I should probably read a few more articles and a Reddit message board first. Americans are over-medicated anyway! Doctors prescribe antibiotics for everything these days! I really don’t want to kill all of the good bacteria in my stomach for nothing.

Read another article and a Reddit message board for more of the same – some anecdotal evidence of it clearing on its own, most people recommending a doctor visit.

Rational me: Americans are over-medicated. Doctors do prescribe antibiotics for things that don’t need them. But if I have X, and I think I do, antibiotics can treat it, and I don’t have to feel this way anymore.

Go to Minute Clinic.

Test positive for X.

Get prescription for antibiotics.

 

The happy ending to this story is that I feel better tomorrow! Crossing my fingers.

Also – check out the “Nurses to the rescue!” episode of the Freakonomics podcast. It talks about things like Minute Clinics staffed by Nurse Practitioners, like the one I saw today. And for the record, My NP was delightful – better than almost any doctor I’ve seen.

 

 

 

Which Came First: Being a Morning Person or Being a Light Sleeper?

I’m a morning person. It doesn’t mean I’m chipper and want to have a full conversation with you the moment I get out of bed, but it does mean that I get up when my alarm goes off. You have more control over your day when you get started early. I start my morning with a run because that’s the surest way I can guarantee fitting it into my day. I suppose night owls can make a similar argument – you just stay up as late as it takes to get everything done for the day – but I find it less stressful to start early. Making my run the first priority of my day means that I don’t have to plan my meals or meetings around a running break, and there’s no danger of an unexpected project or emergency to pop up when I want to go run. Those don’t tend to happen at 6am Eastern. 😉

I’ve also always been a light sleeper. For years I used my watch as an alarm because the soft beeping was enough to wake me up. I also still have a clock radio, and the slight noise it makes right before it goes off usually wakes me up before the radio does. I can count on one hand the number of times I’ve hit the snooze button. An extra 9 minutes has never been enough for me to fall asleep again, and I seriously don’t understand the concept of setting 4-5 alarms starting an hour before you actually need to get up. That is my definition of sleep torture.

College roommates and marriage increased my tolerance for noise and ability to sleep through it. I’m still a morning person, and Josh and I manage his love for multiple alarms by me always getting up earlier than him.