Tuesday, June 16, 2015

What I Almost Forgot

Sometimes I think I must be part of some gigantic scavenger hunt.

As if the next big reality series is going to be The Grand Medical Adventure.

The contestants search for a diagnosis (bonus points for guidance and treatment), and leave as many clues as possible along the way, stopping at every medical facility in sight. 

That MUST be what I'm doing...right? Any minute now, Ryan Seacrest will pop up behind that vacant chair in the waiting room, I'm sure of it. 

My clue-dropping is somewhat alarming, if you think about it. 

There's a thyroid and salivary gland sitting on a shelf in Rochester, Minnesota.

A perfectly-formed gastric fistula residing in Fairfax.

A chunk of a hive hanging out in Chantilly.

Four pieces of my left bicep taking up room in Baltimore.

A swab of my stomach lives in Philadelphia, Fairfax, Baltimore, AND Rochester.

An unfathomable amount of blood and urine resides in roughly 1/4 of the United States.

And I most recently left 44 vials of blood, a giant jug o’urine, and 3 chunks of my skin in Cleveland, Ohio.

And let’s be honest. I probably forgot something. 
(Maybe Penelope the Pacemaker is actually a tracker for the producers?!)

I’m going to NAIL this reality series.

Someone recently asked if I ever get tired of searching.

Obviously I looked at them like they had 7 heads. 
And 4 noses. 
And possibly a tentacle.

(Ok, definitely a tentacle).

And I kind of wish I still had that giant jug o’urine in my hand.

Just saying.

(Insert angelic face here…)

One would think with all of the clues that I have left all over the country, that I would have new information, but I don’t. In fact, all that resulted from 44 vials of blood was, “This is extremely rare. I can’t explain it.”

Oh but if I had a dollar for every time...

Sometimes I feel like all I do is give pieces of myself away, far beyond my aforementioned organs and blood - my career, my plans for a family, my savings, my voice, thoughts of travel, hopes and dreams. It is easy to get washed ashore by the tidal wave of loss that comes with chronic illness, particularly of the medical mystery variety.

And no matter how hard you fight against the current, you will always feel like you are being pushed back. As if the universe is saying, "sit down child, this doesn't concern you."

I suppose in some ways, the universe is right. I cannot outsmart or outmuscle the universe.

The question is, whether or not I can learn to move with it. In tandem on a bicycle built for two.

I don't have the luxury of giving up. The choice to stop searching and trying to understand the unexplainable is not an option, in light of living the most passionate existence I can. Putting my all into my life? It's a no-brainer. 

I recently had an entire day with nothing planned - no appointments, no business meetings, no labs, nothing. It was, perhaps, the first of its kind in quite some time. At first I felt an almost bewildered sense of confusion - what IS this magical place? What do I DO here? Mr. Restarting My Hard Drive was away, so I grabbed my green juice and started the day in my office, deciding that the only logical use of my alone time was sorting medical records, paying bills, and working on my business. It was a beautiful sunny Saturday, and I was wrestling with an overflowing pile of papers. 

I'm not sure what made me pause, but in one swift move, I put the papers back on my desk, grabbed my keys, and walked out the front door without looking back. I wandered lazily through a farmers market, oogling at the beautiful fruits and vegetables, fresh eggs and honeys. I chatted with my favorite farmer, and photographed exquisite purple beans.  I came home and cooked for hours - almond butter, peanut butter, coconut wraps, kombucha, grain-free doughnuts, and more. I listened to music. I took breaks to sit on the deck in the sunshine with a glass of kombucha (and a heating pad for my sore shoulders). I went for a quiet walk, and watched Ellen and Downton Abbey (obviously). I went to bed early, curled up with a book. 

A few days later, I spontaneously moved all of my appointments and spent a day escaping life at my favorite place on earth. 

There was a lot of this:


These days reminded me not only of the pure joy in the simple things, but that there is one tremendously important thing that I haven't given away.

I haven't given up what makes me, me.

It is so easy to forget, in the tumultuous sea of medical testing and travel, legal proceedings and growing a business, that underneath all of it - beneath the test tubes and needles, papers and unexplained questions, there is a person. A living, breathing, human being. 

Not a statistic. 
Not a medical record number. 
A person. 

In all of the chaos of the last five years, I nearly forgot her. I nearly gave her away, unknowingly allowing the ocean of questions to wash her to sea. 

I do not have the option of leaving The Grand Medical Adventure. It is my day-in, and day-out. But it's not who I am.

My name is Lydia. I love sunshine and horses, fresh food and music. I daydream about traveling with my husband, and I believe stars are there for wishing. I love to hike and bike and walk and swim, and I am my very best self in the mountains. I love to read and play board games on a rainy day, and I never knew how much I needed to write, to cook, to teach, to create. I believe in the healing power of food and lifestyle, and I adore cooking for those I love. I write in cursive, with fun pens and markers, and I have an extensive doodling practice. My family and friends are my greatest gift. I dream about having a caramel-colored labradoodle and writing a book. I love to laugh.

I had forgotten, but now I remember. 

I am not an unexplained question. 
I am not a binder of medical records, nor a pile of paperwork.
I am not organs on a shelf.

I cannot leave the ocean, but I can always splash in the waves.


Sunday, April 26, 2015

Waiting for the Whistle

In the game of life, there are no time-outs. 

There are no water breaks or substitutions. 

(Not even a complimentary orange slice to be found. A sham!) 

The referee doesn't blow the whistle at the first clap of thunder. There is no locker room to wait out the storm. 

In life, you stand in the storm and get drenched. 

And friends, I have to tell you, I am soaked to the bone. 

I have attempted to write this blog post a minimum of 17 times over the past month. Similar to trying to merge 5 lanes of traffic at once, when there is so much to say, the words come to a screeching halt. The proverbial bottleneck of medical reporting.

In the past month, I have received medical care in Massachusetts, Pennsylvania, Maryland, and Virginia. Next month, I will add Ohio to my list.

(Sidenote, how many states do you have to go to before you can warrant the purchase of a “Restarting My Hard Drive Tour" t-shirt?! And can they be sponsored by the bedazzler?)

I digress. 

My beloved neurologist called last week. (That’s not sarcasm, she really is the greatest) 

The conversation started with, "I didn't want to call you."

(Friendly hint, that's generally not a sign of free puppies. Or cookies. Or Ellen Degeneres showing up at my door. In short, it's not shorthand for all things magical.)

She went on to describe the results of my brain MRI and muscle biopsy. Two tests that were done to look for diagnostic clues, straight lines to connect the scattered dots. The tests were supposed to provide much needed information for the next steps. After she gave me the low down, I paused in my frantic note taking. 

"So, let me make sure I have this correct. Two areas of my brain are atrophying. My muscle biopsy showed that I have moderately severe neuromuscular degeneration with associated sclerosis. And on both accounts, we have no idea why."

She paused and gently sighed. 

"Yes.”

The week went on to include a weakened immune system from the immunologist, a "fancy" new diagnosis from the urologist, dissolvable stitches choosing not to dissolve from the surgeon, and a new type of tachycardia from the cardiologist.

Cliff Notes:
  1. People seem surprised over the weakened immune system situation. I’m not sure where they have been the last 5 years of my life.
  2. I now have a urologist. I also have a pacemaker. And I’m retired. You draw your own conclusions. 
  3. How do we feel about, "Wow, I’ve never seen that before!” in tattoo format? 
  4. There is only one logical explanation for my new tachycardia. Penelope enjoys a good dance party. Obviously.
My medical shenanigans always tend to come in waves. I'm not really sure why, but there have always been somewhat predictable ebbs and flows. I rarely have one doctors appointment all by its lonesome on the calendar, and it is an unusual occurrence to be waiting for just one test result. They come in waves. 

This past one, however, was a tidal wave. 

And after weeks on end of 3 hour appointments, “getting reacquainted with the OR,” countless blood draws, lengthy “discussions” with my insurance company, travel by plane, train, and automobile, and general medical debauchery, I find myself standing in the middle of the field, chest heaving, and simply drenched. 

I keep waiting for a referee to run into my living room and loudly declare a time-out. Just a two minute break to catch my breath (and find a darn orange slice.)

But there are no time-outs.

This is it, the real deal, no whistles or striped shirts involved.

Some days, I want to put myself on the bench. I want to go back to the locker room, change into dry clothes, and call it a day.

But I can’t. 
I won’t.

I don’t know why my hard drive crashed. I don’t know what piece of the puzzle we are all so desperately missing. I don’t know why I’m on this journey.

I don't know a lot of things.

The only thing I do know for sure is that only I decide. 
I can hide under the bleachers, or I can shake it off and get back on the field (sequined sweatband optional.)

I have a life to live. It's quite the gift.

My favorite college professor had a small poster hanging in her office. I'm sure I've mentioned it before - I saw it nearly every day. The words resonated with me then, almost as much as they do now.

"The race is not to the swift, but to those who keep on running."

I'm tired.
I'm drenched.
I'm dodging lightening bolts.
And, I'm running. 

Let's do this, friends. Game on.

Tuesday, March 24, 2015

Keeping the Goal Alive...?

My goal for 2015 was to stay out of the Operating Room.

Well. I made it to March 23rd?

2 months and 23 days, baby! WOOOOO!!! 

(Sarcasm)

BUT.

I’ve decided this surgery doesn’t count as breaking my goal. 

And I make the rules, so ya know, yea…totally doesn’t count.

Reason #1: This was a test, not a repair.

On Monday I had a muscle biopsy of my left bicep. This test has come up for 4 consecutive years, but the medical community has never been sure enough to warrant the procedure. A muscle biopsy is done to diagnose neuromuscular disorders (specifically, in my case, mitochondrial disorders), infections that affect the muscle, and other abnormalities in the muscle tissue. After it came up for the fourth year in a row, by the 23049820398th medical provider, my internist decided it was time to check it off my medical bucket list.

So see…it was a test, not a repair. Totally doesn’t count.

Reason #2: I didn’t go under general anesthesia

And let me just say, rolling out of the hospital 45 minutes after the surgery ended is fairly glorious. In fact, I even made it the full hour and a half home from Hopkins before the numbing medication wore off. Booyea/OW.

On the other hand, I wouldn’t have turned down an option to maybe, ya know, NOT remember the feeling of chunks of my bicep being removed from my arm. A little colonoscopy twilight, anyone?

Just saying.

(No really)

Reason #3: What was removed will, in theory, grow back

After the four specimens of my “bulging bicep" were passed over my surgically-draped body to the pathologist, he asked me if I wanted to see them.

Obviously I said yes.

Moments later I found it extraordinarily crucial to turn to my surgeon, who was sewing up my arm, and ask if our bodies work like worms.

To which she paused, laughed, and said, “Clearly you were an elementary school teacher. And yes, the muscle will regenerate."

And for that I will send an extra hearty gratitude to the power of the human body, because let me just say (with respect to those of you with a weak stomach), the specimens were not small.

No really. It’s a wonder my entire upper arm is not missing.

Although, now that I think about it, my upper arm is still under a giant pressure bandage and hidden in a sling….

Gulp...

In other news, I’m pretty good at this arm-in-a-sling situation. In fact, this entire blog post was typed with my right hand, while my left hand is celebrating Halloween a bit early by dressing up as a pufferfish. I also got dressed all by myself today! It’s almost like I just had surgery a few months ago, or something. 

Weird.

So...see?
I told you this surgery didn't break my goal of staying out of the Operating Room.
As you can clearly see from Reasons #1-3, the goal is still alive.

Obviously.

Whatever people, I make the rules.



Wednesday, March 11, 2015

A Time to Celebrate

The combination of February and March has become a bit of an odd cocktail of sobering and celebration. 

A few weeks ago, I marked the four year anniversary of my proverbial "hard drive crash." 

Four years. 

In some ways, I feel like it can't possibly have been that long, and in others it feels like at least ten.  

It's hard to believe that it wasn't that long ago that I was 30 lbs underweight, lying in a hospital bed at Hopkins, consuming mostly egg whites, rice chex, and an occasional, er, steady stream of gummy bears.

Or when I went out to Mayo in 2012, I still had all of my organs intact. In my naïveté, I thought I would spend a few days in Minnesota and come home with a sparkly little cure. 

Looks like I was a wee bit off.

If it's even possible, I think the medical community is more confused by me now then they were four years ago. This very month, I'll see not one, not two, but three new specialists, along with adding a new procedure to my "glowing" resume.

(45 minute registration ending with the very last question of - “You don’t have a pacemaker, right?” I will now start introducing myself as Lydia and Penelope Buschenfeldt…you've been warned.)

I find that I spend an inordinate amount of time dangling between that place of peaceful acceptance and burning curiosity. I desperately want to move forward and live my life in whatever capacity I am lucky enough to do so, and yet, a combination of a progressive little mystery disease and several medical road blocks halt that process every time. The thing is - I don't inherently believe that our bodies break for no reason. I just don’t, plain and simple. I also believe that our bodies can heal if given the opportunity…which begs the question - what's standing in my way? What am I missing?

For four years I have traveled to doctors all over the country. I've been on countless pharmaceuticals, IV therapies, and herbal protocols. I juice and meditate daily, and I hang out with my favorite contingent of old ladies at adaptive yoga. I could write a guide book to alternative therapies. Even with the most restricted diet known to man, I would wager a solid financial estimate that I consume more green vegetables than most, and given my proclivity towards the dear root vegetable, I assure you I have beta carotene coming out of my pores. (It is truly a wonder that I am not orange) I live, sleep, eat, and breathe an unprocessed organic lifestyle, full of love, and hope, and deep breaths.

And yet, the questions remain.
The algorithm that just doesn’t make any sense - Why, when given every opportunity, does my body continue to throw logic to the birds?

How can I really, truly, devote my life to helping and healing others…when I, myself, am not healed?

Or is it because of my path to healing that I am able to do so?

Just more questions.

And so I keep looking, and learning, but most importantly - living. 
Living in the questions.

And that, my friends, is something to celebrate. 

I've never understood those people that hide their age, or don't want to celebrate their birthdays.
They just gloss on over them with a wave of the hand and an uncomfortable grimace.

It just doesn’t make any sense.

Yes, I understand the moment when you realize you have been out of college for 10 years and you can no longer lump yourself in with the “post-collegiate” twenty-somethings.

Or when you realize the little babies you babysat in 7th grade are in college, and your first little campers are married.

I get the fleeting nature of time.

But to truly hide your age and gloss over a birthday?!?
That I don’t get.

I will happily tell the world that this Friday I'm turning 32. 

THIRTY TWO!

The world has put up with my need for ponies, and markers, and mountains, and bedazzlement for 32 years! (Much obliged, by the way)

I’ve been given the opportunity to be ALIVE for 32 freaking YEARS!

Is there a better birthday present than the chance to live?

I know it’s not given to everyone, and it’s not a gift I take lightly. 

And so despite the questions and the off-road medical adventures, I’ll keep on keeping on - putting one foot in front of the other, taking a deep breath, and seeing where the path may lead. And maybe that’s where I can really and truly find, and stay, in the place of peaceful acceptance. For there is peace that lies in knowing you are doing the one thing you can - to keep going. 

And so I'll keep going. 
Keep trying.
Keep marching on. 

And I'll celebrate. 


Sunday, February 8, 2015

Myth Busters - Medical Edition

Friends, it’s February.

Actually, let me rephrase - it’s February?

I’m not entirely sure how that happened. January started all nice and tame, then slowly started spinning a bit, then suddenly whirling around in circles, and then somehow the darn (putting it nicely) groundhog declared 6 more weeks of winter and it’s a new month. Whew. 

Also, that groundhog is suuuuuuper lucky we don’t live closer. We would have words. WORDS I tell you. 

In any event, you know that show Myth Busters? I think there needs to be a medical version. Ya know, instead of Law and Order SVU, it's Myth Busters - Medical Edition. 

Let's give it a try: Episode 1

ACTION!

Myth #1 - Removing an organ removes the challenges associated with said organ. 

False.
False I say! 

My darling little thyroid left for greener pastures in 2012...and has been haunting me ever since. How an organ likely sitting in a jar somewhere in Minnesota can continue to wreak such havoc is unknown to me, but let me assure you - there is a future sci fi movie there. 

(Dibs on a cut of the film...because it's clearly going to be a blockbuster)

In any event, when you remove an essential organ, you remove the offending cancer (always a fabulous thing) and you sign yourself up for a lifetime of taking pills to replace the organ's role in your body.  Seems like a good time to point out that your thyroid is like the administrative assistant of your body - the bigger organs think they are important, but really the thyroid runs the show, and controls every single system in your body. Usually over time you find a dose that works, and save for considerable weight gain, weight loss, or hormonal changes, that dose stabilizes for awhile. Unless the word "stable" is in no way shape or form part of your vernacular, in which case you have yet to go longer than 4 months before needing a dose adjustment. Most recently I crushed the record by going from stable to reaaaaaaaaally over-active in a matter of 6 weeks. 

Crushed it. 

In fact, as I was waiting around for my call from Guinness to confirm my record, I got a call from my endocrinologist. 

"What on earth did you do over the holidays??"

Ummm...watched "A Muppet Family Christmas"???

(Duh.)

Evidently there is a lot of testing involved in confirming my record for Guinness. You see, they are so fascinated by my superior skills, that they want to take a closer look at my brain...ya know, to prepare images for the Endocrinological Hall of Fame, I'm sure. 

Which leads me to Myth #2:
An MRI-compatible pacemaker means you can easily get an MRI. 

Lies. All lies. 

Do you need any contact information for any of the radiology departments in the area? And by the area - I mean within 100 miles of my home?

Don't fret, I have that info. Because I have called them. ALL of them. 

In fact, people are so intimidated by the celebrity that is Penelope the Pacemaker, that I called 18 hospitals before someone was willing to accept my bundle of heart thumping joy. 

Yes...EIGHTEEN. 

Take note - Phyllis at #4 is grumpy in the mornings, Dionne at #11 just became a grandmother, and Simon at #16 has never heard of MRI-compatible pacemakers. Good to know. 

That little symbol on the prestigious membership card for the pacemaker club? Ya know, the one that says "MRI" with a big triangle around it?

Yes. That means I can get an MRI. An MRI on a machine that is made for my brand of pacemaker. Team Biotronik, baby - evidently we are small and (here's hoping) mighty. 

Penelope is such a diamond in the rough, obviously, that people don't plan to see her so often. I suppose they have to mentally prepare for her brilliance...and mourn her lack of bedazzlement. So much so, that my appointment to marvel at my brain is in...

(Wait for it)

April

In...

(Wait a bit longer)

Baltimore. 

I do hope Guinness doesn't have a time limit or same-state requirement for record confirmation. 

Myth #3 - Inserting a pacemaker named Penelope into your body means your heart will be regulated. 

False. 

In fact, Penelope is so popular that she has been summoned by the cardiologist nearly every week since October. 

(Baking them muffins was my first mistake.)

My body has found a way to play games with Penelope - usually taking the form of a pulse of 135 at 2:00 in the morning, or my yoga teacher scraping me off the mat (thank you to the creators of the yoga mat for providing a somewhat squishy surface for my ever so graceful landing). 

Hmph. A bit of hazing to the newbie robot-organ, perhaps? Coupled by the ghost of thyroid past?

Myth #4 - When your cardiologist wants to bedazzle you with an event monitor for two weeks, it actually happens

Debunked. 

Similar to, say, concert tickets and college acceptance letters, event monitors have a wait list. 

A several week long wait list...!?

In fact, this week when I placed my weekly "just want to be sure I'm still on the list" call, it was "kindly" explained to me that "there is a very long list with an unknown amount of wait time."

Roger that.

I mean, Penelope is cool, I get it. I just didn't know she was such a trendsetter. I guess the real question is who wouldn't want to record every funny heart rhythm for two weeks?

Myth #5 - When your husband's team wins the Super Bowl, and it appears as though there has been a volcanic eruption 20 seconds prior to the end of the game, you will be glad you have a pacemaker. 

True. 
This one, my friends, is true. 

Aaaaaand SCENE! That's a wrap.

Thursday, December 18, 2014

An Unexpected Gift

I've decided to give myself a gift this holiday season.

It hasn't held space on my Amazon wish list, nor have I ever written it at the top of a hand-scrawled Christmas list (so it's clearly not a pony).

I'm fairly confident it was not a popular item on Black Friday, nor will it get stolen in this year's Yankee Swap.

No matter how much I wish and hope and dream, I know I won't find it under the tree on Christmas morning - not to diminish the stupendousness of Mr. Claus, but this is a gift that only I can give.

You see, I'm giving myself the gift of uncertainty.

Yes...uncertainty.

Whether by pure calendar placement coincidence, or otherwise, the holidays come with expectations.

Expectations based on the past year's reflections.
Expectations on how and what you will celebrate.
Expectations on what you will be proud of, the challenges you'll face, and what the dawning new year will bring.

And after spending several holiday seasons expecting a life that has simply not yet happened, I've decided it's not the right way for me to find the true magic of the holidays.

So I'm giving myself the gift of uncertainty.

What happens when we really and truly release our expectations and deepest fears, and become open to all of the amazing twists and turns that life will bring? What if we look at every day as a grand adventure and simply celebrate the fact that we are on this earth and are lucky enough to sit in the first row of our very own roller coaster?

Maybe that's where the true magic lies - in the place where instead of writing the book, we jump into the illustrations and let the story unfold.

I would be lying if I told you that I haven't spent the past 4 consecutive Decembers noodling that the upcoming year would finally be the one where things happened.

My health stabilized.
We got a dog.
Didn't count pennies.
Started a family.
Traveled.
Galloped off into the sunset.

And while those are all still dreams that I will continue to believe in with every fiber of my being, I no longer plan on making them expectations. When I expect something to happen, it gives the false illusion to myself that I'm in control of the outcome - and in this situation, I'm simply not...and that's ok.

In fact, I'm giving my expectation list a total head to toe makeover, including the one in which I still dream of being an Olympic gymnast. I'm 6 feet tall, 31 years old, and am not confident in my ability to somersault...so, ya know, there may be a few items to discuss.

Sure - releasing control is terrifying. We build grand, elaborate blueprints for our lives and though they rarely go according to plan, we still somehow expect them to happen exactly as we imagined.

If you think about it, it's absolutely nuts.

If things did go exactly according to our original plans, I would most likely be betrothed to either my 2nd grade crush (who tragically broke my heart when he moved to Pittsburgh) or Chip - the broken teacup in Beauty and the Beast...who, I'd like to point out, is approximately 8 years old.

Come on...admit it - he is the cutest darn teacup you have ever seen in your life...and his mother is Mrs. Potts!

We build these expectations in our mind of how life is supposed to go, and then when they fall away, we are left emotionally scrambling to climb a mountain that is irreparably falling apart. It's exhausting.

So I'm giving myself uncertainty.

I'm wrapping up the ability to find peace with who I am, right here in this very moment - to find the song in the silence between what we expect and the magic of the unforeseen possibilities.

In truth, I'm letting my spirit do the holiday shopping this year.

So I choose uncertainty - wrapped in bright red paper, with a giant sequined bow.

For in a world with so little in our control, I know that this magical choice is mine.



Monday, December 8, 2014

Jail Break

People.

A momentous day has occurred.

I left the house,
in a car,
that I was driving!

[Insert girly squeal mixed with the Hallelujah chorus]

After over a month of near house arrest, I busted out the front door like it was my last Economics class in college.

(Well, actually I just had 2 surgeries...so I carefully opened the front door with my non-stitched-together-chest-muscle-arm and then took the steps one at a time so as not to disturb the 7 layers of stitches in my abdomen...but...well...I can assure you it was with much pep and enthusiasm!)

The fact that post busting down the door I drove to the doctor and then immediately came home to take a nap is neither here nor there. I did it myself!

Also most importantly one of the following items did not bust out the front door:

1. Sneakers
2. Penelope the Pacemaker
3. A gastric fistula

I know. It's the holiday season and I'm asking a hard question to your frazzled brain. My most sincere apologies. I'll give you a hint: it begins with an F and ends with "istula."

Fistula free, baby.

Despite the fact that this fistula formed prior to surgery #1 and took 2.5 weeks to prove to the world (ahem, medical community) that it existed, the timing ended up being rather fortuitous. Even at only 3 weeks old, Penelope the Pacemaker proved her place in the world when I was on a clear liquid diet for over a week and my heart was supposed to just keep beating every minute of the day (I'm so demanding. I like it when my lungs breathe too. So high maintenance, I know).

Let me just assure you, when your only clear options are broth, coconut water and cucumber juice, your blood pressure doesn't exactly top the charts.

Furthered by the fact that my specialty-compounded-yellow-dye-free-non-narcotic-pain-medicine required to be taken with food.

Ya know, to avoid dizziness.

Oops.

In other news, post surgery #1 I have developed an irregular heartbeat.

Yep.
Take some time to soak that in.
I think I asked my cardiologist for clarification a minimum of 6 times.
Headline news: "Lady gets pacemaker inserted and develops an irregular heartbeat."

Please refer to the business card: Surprising the world with the rare and unusual since 1983.

Turns out in very rare cases (cough cough, when your name is Lydia Buschenfeldt), it can take up to 3 months for your heart to adjust to an ablation. And in the extra reassuring words of my fabulous (no really, he's awesome) cardiologist: "We don't really worry until January."

Stupendous. Anyone on a first name basis with Mr. Claus, by chance?

I've also been informed that I have officially been sent every single get well card in the Target 99 cents collection, and therefore I have reached my limit for medical bonanzas. So my goal for the month of December is to stay at least 100 feet away from anyone holding a knife and a needle, and whining about the diminutive nature of my veins.

I'm 8 days in, so far so good.

And if this goal should extend to, ya know, more than just December...I wouldn't be mad.

Just saying.

But more importantly, anyone want to meet up?

I'll drive.