Monday, May 18, 2015

The Hunch Back of Notre Minneapolis?

OK, I was torn between the title I used, or using the tune from the Black Eyed Peas "My Humps", and just replacing it with My Bump. It would have been much funnier! I can hear Don groaning right now! I was singing it last night, and he made a bad face. Oh Don. 

I have a bump. A round, ugly, painful icky bump. I first noticed the bump a few weeks after I had my
second neck surgery in October of 2014. It was right at the bottom of my surgical scar, and my first thought was that it was caused from an irritation from the doctor taking a "punch" of bone out of one of my discs. They used the bone to implant at the C5 level to get bone to grow where the center of the disc had been removed and failed to grow during the first surgery. I had seen the x-ray, and it literally looked like they took a paper punch and punched out the center of one of the edges of the disc and left sharp rough edges remaining. I felt worried about it, and mad. Seriously, couldn't they have taken one of the files off of their equipment shelf and sanded it down a little?

When I went in for my two month post-op check up I asked the surgeon about it. He said that it was just scar tissue, and completely normal. It didn't feel normal. It hurt, and felt sharp. But, who was I to know better? Just the person with the bump.

Since the pain in my neck and shoulder hadn't gone away, I had started going to a pain clinic. I asked the nurse about my bump, and she suggested I have my primary care doctor look at it. So I did. I'm a good listener. Back in my car I go.

My primary care doctor also thought it was just scar tissue, but ordered an MRI and suggested I go to a fancy schmancy neck guru at Abbott Northwestern Hospital in Minneapolis for a second opinion on my neck. So I did. Again, I'm a good listener. No answer about my bump, but back in my car I go.

The fancy doctor in Minneapolis didn't even touch me. He ordered a CT and EMG and didn't really even tell me how or when they would be in touch. A week later I received a COPY of a letter that he had sent to my primary care doctor stating that the discs above and below the C5 disc I had surgery on were deteriorating, but weren't yet ready for surgery. "The patient" (that would be me) should proceed with cautious treatment for the time being.

The patient (me) waited to hear from someone, anyone, to figure out what that meant. I never did, so I took matters in to my own hands again. I called the guru's office and talked to the nurse. She said that there is damage in my neck, but doing surgery at this time isn't recommended (thank goodness) and I should try imagery, physical therapy, ice, heat...she went on and on. It was almost comical. It told me just how little she and the guru actually knew about me and my history. It also told me that they didn't read any of the eight pages of information I had to fill out in order to walk through their front door. The guru would not be seeing me again. But, now I had imagery in my hands, so I went back to the pain clinic. Back in my car I go.....

The nurse practitioner at the pain clinic took my images and spoke to one of the anesthesiologists who does procedures at the clinic, and suggested that it was time to do a Radiofrequency Ablation. The easy way to understand it is that they go in between the discs to reach the inflamed nerves with a cannula or large needle casing, and insert a radio frequency electrode to zap the nerve and burn it. The nerve will grow back, but usually not for 6-12 months. While it is dead, your brain will not receive pain signals from the nerves. The patient is thinking this sounds awesome.

In order for insurance to pay for this procedure, two tests have to be done first with just lidocaine to make sure they have the right nerves. The nurse thought that it should be the two discs below my surgery, especially since my friendly BUMP lived down there and appeared to cause me a lot of pain.

I went in for my first test and the doctor met with me a few minutes before the procedure. He pulled up my films, and for the first time in the past few years, he just talked and listened. It was amazing. He didn't agree with the placement of the test, and felt that the Ablation procedure needed to be between the three discs above my surgery. I then asked him about my bump. He felt it, and the first thing he said is that he thought it was a screw, even going so far as to say that he could feel the round head of the screw. He seemed very curious about it, and said that whatever it was we needed to look at it. It appeared very irritated, and almost bruised. He said that the procedure they would be doing would be done under xray, so he would have the radiologist move the machine over that area.

Guess what. The bump is a disc that has turned, most likely from all of the spasms and irritation in my neck. I have so much tension in my shoulders and neck. So the lump you see is the spiky part of a disc that should be laying or lying or even telling the truth horizontally with my shoulders. "Not cool"...said the patient.

The wrap up:
Test number one worked great. I had amazing relief for thirty minutes. I had to wait for two weeks between the tests, so test number two is tomorrow. Don is busy tomorrow, so Andrew stepped up to the plate and is taking me. I am very grateful, and hopefully I will get the same kind of relief that I did after the first test. I'm not sure how soon they can perform the procedure after that, but I'm hoping it's soon.

I start physical therapy the first week in June to try to loosen up the muscles and tension, and maybe Mr. Bump will go back and live where he's supposed to. It will only be myofacial release (massage, woot woot) for several weeks. Nothing that will irritate it more. I literally want to hug that doctor right now. All it took was ten minutes of listening, and some compassion.

Maybe it was just some compassion.

Thursday, April 9, 2015

A Lot of Brew Ha Ha For Nothing?

It's been a busy few weeks for trying to get some answers as to why I am having such debilitating neck pain, and also just feeling so awful in general. Fun stuff.

The feeling yucky in general thing I think we figured out. At least kind of. For some reason my potassium dropped to a dangerously low level. After swallowing potassium tablets and eating bananas, beans and spinach like it was going out of style for two weeks, I am back in the way healthy level. Now I have to take NO potassium tablets and see what happens during the next three weeks. If it stays where it's supposed to be, great. If not, back for more testing. I already have a thyroid that doesn't function anymore, so she thinks that some sort of  lab panel that would test my adrenal gland as well as other hormone affecting bodily items would be the way to go. I agree. I didn't like feeling like that.

My neck. My neck is awful. I went to a physician two weeks ago at Abbott Northwestern Hospital
who has the reputation of being the "guru" of neck pain. What I didn't realize when I was referred to him was that if you don't need surgery, he really won't have any answers. Very frustrating.

After filling out massive history forms and waiting a month to get in to see him, I had about a fifteen minute appointment with him. He never touched me or looked at my neck. His nurse had me squeeze her fingers and made note of my loss of strength, especially in my right arm, and had me try to walk a straight line for her. She made note of my inability to do so. No drinking and driving for this girl, not that I have...for many many years. (Shhh Pam. We were children) I have been dealing with my balance being "off" for the past couple months. The doctor ordered a CT scan to get a look at my neck in addition to the MRI I had already had done, and also an EMG to test the nerves in my right arm. I have on and off numbness in my fingers and the palm of my hand, as well as my upper arm.

I didn't hear anything the first week, but this week I received a LETTER. Actually, it was a copy of a letter that was sent to my primary care physician who referred me to this doctor. Part of me felt offended. I am the patient. Once my feeling of being continuously disrespected by upper level physicians passed I looked at it for what it was. A time saving issue, and a lack of respect toward his patient, me. I was mad. Mad and depressed. I get frustrated when I spend so much time to go to a new physician completely prepared and get so little in return.

Basically, the EMG showed no permanent nerve damage which is a good thing. But what does the numbness mean? explanation in the letter. The CT showed that the last surgery I had was successful. The hardware was in place, and the bone was growing. That was good news, because I had been very afraid that there was a screw loose (Be careful about the jokes. I know that I have always had a screw loose!). When I had bunion surgery many years ago there was a permanent pin put in my toe, and my body rejected it. I kept telling Don that there was something sharp coming out of my toe. He didn't believe me until the pin protruded through the skin and he could see it. That was NOT COOL!

Anyway, the other thing the CT showed was that the disc above and below the fusion have degenerated since I had the surgery in October. It's pretty common for discs to weaken once you have spinal surgery, and it's one of the reasons that they hold off as long as they can to do invasive procedures. Once you have surgery, it will usually lead to more trouble down the road. Trust me, go with the physical therapy and injections as long as you can tolerate it! So, they are degenerated, but not enough for surgery, and the surgeon felt that at this point if he did surgery to fuse these discs, it would cause even more pain. He wasn't ready to do that yet.

Here's the clincher. He ended the letter with his recommendation: a conservative line of treatment. OK. What would that be? Hello? Are you still there? Nope. End of letter. What the hell?

I waited for a couple more days thinking that his nurse would call to schedule an appointment to discuss this conservative line of treatment. I couldn't imagine what it would be. I am seeing a therapist every week and we are currently working on meditation for pain and relaxation. I have done and will continue to do trigger point injections, epidural injections and facet joint injections, and I also take a cocktail of medications for nerve pain, pain in general and a muscle relaxant. My hope was that this specialist would have a suggestion for killing my neck, or at least the nerves that live within my neck. but nope. No suggestions, just a sign off. Not even a thank you for giving me thousands of your dollars.

So, after the pouting and self pity were over, about 48 hours later, I called the office of said guru and asked to talk to a nurse to help explain to me where to go from here. Another day passed before she called back which was understandable. She said she needed to think it over because she wasn't used to dealing with pain. WHAT??? She suggested all of the above things that I was already doing through the pain clinic that I go to, so I suggested that she send a copy of all of the records and reports to my pain clinic so they had more to work with. Apparently they are going to have to be my advocate in this game. It doesn't make me very happy. I was honestly thinking of leaving the pain clinic because it is such an uncaring and desperate place to go. I tried to explain how awful it was to even sit in the waiting room to Don, but he couldn't really grasp it until he had to sit there for an hour while he was waiting for me to have a procedure done.

It is a thankless job, and the staff must burn out so fast. I would think that people would be so grateful for having their pain relieved, or their medications filled, but many of the patients are so uncomfortable and miserable that they can't see beyond the fact that they can't stand to wait for their appointments. The government restrictions on narcotics have made it even harder for these patients to take care of themselves. Many of them don't drive and are in wheelchairs. They have crabby taxi drivers or services that drop them off and pick them up. They are at the mercy of others to help them, and if those others aren't being nice, it is miserable. They can literally only get their prescriptions filled on the 30th day. I know, because I am one of those patients. I once had my appointment 29 days after my last appointment and after my appointment I drove my prescription to the only pharmacy that I am allowed to fill it at. I had to drive back the next day. It is no ones fault. It is a government regulation in Minnesota, and I have to be seen every thirty days. I also have to have a drug screen to make sure that I am taking my medication. Fun stuff. I am no different than anyone else sitting in that room as far as the government regulations are concerned. Thankfully those are just random, and I have no problem with it. I'm not selling my meds on the street so I can feed my babies. I digress. And I'm going to digress some more!

The biggest thing I have noticed in the waiting room is that no one seems to have any respect or care for those around them. There are big signs all over the place that say "No cell phone use" and "No E-Cigarette use" and "No Perfume Use In Office Due to Patient and Employee Sensitivities". I have never seen anyone trying to smoke an E-Cigarette, but it never fails that I will be sitting in the waiting room with a pounding headache, and two people will be talking in full volume on their phones. And there is always stinky perfume. I absolutely hate it. My sister and her husband have a pain clinic in a different state, and she has said that she will walk out from the desk and tell people to turn off their phones, but at this clinic no one says anything. I was hoping to some day be done with this, but it looks like I have to learn to just be patient. Maybe this is where my meditation will come in the most handy. Ohhhmmmm.

So, that's where I'm at. Riding in the car for more than a short distance is still impossible. Any further and I end up with a headache that nothing touches from my neck being jostled (yes, I have a neck brace) and a numb arm. I somehow have to figure out how to make it work. I refuse to spend my summer stranded. It makes me so sad to see Don leave every weekend and go to the lake by himself. I am beyond happy that he is willing to go to the bar on the lake and play pool with his friends, but I would like to be there once in a while too, and see the remodeled basement. I haven't seen it since he started to tear it apart.

I want you to know that I don't just lay in bed. A lot of the time, yes. I don't move, usually because I am recovering from the other days when I had to get up and go to appointments, get groceries, do laundry and housework, make dinner, and of course, let Brutus out twenty times a day! I am trying very hard to not completely give up on life and everything I do. I know that keeping somewhat active will help my muscles to stay strong, or to at least get a little stronger. I will do whatever I am told to do, even if it hurts, but I am not going to do something unnecessary that is going to cause me to have a big set back.

To my friends who I love and never get to see, please understand and know that I have been through a lot with three spinal fusions in the last three years, and with my first neck fusion failing and having to do a repeat through the back, it's really taking a long time to heal and move beyond the extra stuff. I'm bummed that I have degenerative disc disease, but my neck has been through more than its share of trauma over its lifetime. Now I have to learn how to care for it and protect it so it doesn't get too much worse. Maybe someone should develop a wine that has a super duper amount of calcium in it! There's a challenge for you.

Thank you for listening. I love you, and am looking very forward to figuring out how to get my life back so I can kiss your sweet faces. In the meantime, I am going to rock it out. Maybe even Snooki style.


Tuesday, September 23, 2014

Must Have Been A Mean Donor

Hi there,

For those of you that have been wondering about an update on the status of my neck, I finally have a tentative update.

Don and I met with the surgeon this morning and had a good look at the MRI and CT scans. It's quite obvious that the prior neck fusion procedure which was done from the front of my neck using cadaver bone has failed. It started to grow bone initially as was shown in the 6 and 12 month check up x-rays, although it was very minimal. After that the cadaver bone disintegrated and was resorbed by my body (and hopefully spit out). I'm thinking that the donor probably wasn't a very nice person to begin with? Now there is just a jagged open space where there should be fused bone. Sometimes there is enough hard scar tissue in that open space to keep it from moving back and forth, and people in this situation don't even have pain, but I'm not one of those people. I had motion views taken, and the material within the disc moves, which isn't a good thing.

So here's where it stands today. I will need reparative surgery to fix my neck, and this time they will have to do the surgery from the back of my neck. They won't be using cadaver bone, but instead they will try to use a piece of a vertebrae if one is large enough to spare a little piece. If not, they will take a piece of my hip bone. They'll make that decision in the operating room. They bind the discs with wire and then put a plate and screws over it like I have in the front.

The recovery will be longer and more difficult than the first surgery because they will be going through muscle tissue on the back of my neck to get to the spine. At this point, I don't even know what that means. I feel like after what I went through with such poor pain management in the hospital after my back surgery, I can deal with just about anything, but I don't even dare go there! Don and I had a pretty in depth conversation with the surgical nurse who is in charge of the after care, and she assured me that there would be a different protocol set up.

It will take one to two weeks for the insurance approval and paperwork to get completed, and another few weeks to get on the schedule, so chances are my surgery will end up right in the middle of the holidays, but on a bright note, we might be able to squeek it in on this years deductible. Woo Hoo! 

Today I feel defeated, but as usual, I will pick myself up and move forward. Don and I both need me to get physically better so we can get our life back as we used to know it, so I have HOPE!

Positive thoughts from here on out.

Sunday, September 1, 2013

My Happy Place

I don't know what it is about standing on the beach next to the ocean that makes me feel such an inner peace, but I feel like I could just close my eyes and let it take me away.

It's different from being at a lake. I don't know if it's the sound of the waves or the seagulls overhead, or just the unbelievable size of the body of water, but I am always overcome, sort of lost in a daze. I'm content with just walking along the edge, maybe dipping in up to my waist, but I have never had a desire to challenge it's strength. If you offer me a cruise, I will most likely turn you down. There's just something "too big" about it that I can't explain.

So for me, it is always a special treat that I will never take for granted. If I walk away with tears in my eyes, I may not even know why.

For two years in a row I have had the privilege of enjoying the beach on the east coast because we were lucky enough to be there for weddings. So far there is nothing planned for summer that I know of, so I may just have to take my daughter and go sit on the beach with her and let her feel the rumble of the ocean. I think we're about due for a mother/daughter vacation. I would love to see if it has the same affect on her.


Sunday, June 30, 2013

Have I Lost It? Hmmm....

I have been spending so many weekends alone this year because my back has kept me from traveling. Just ask my husband. He has spent just as many weekends alone at the lake. I don't feel completely bad for him, because most weekends he has enjoyed the company of our amazing friends that we have at the lake, but I know that he would like to have me by his side. I am usually the loud to his quiet, the slightly naughty to his well behaved, definitely the duster to his non-duster. And although he seems to have been able to hold his own, he's lonesome too. I can just imagine the divorce rumors that have been floating around from those people that don't know us that well. Oy!

So, in my boredom I decided it was time to make some new friends. I swear that I have watched every single show that Comcast has to offer. If I have to watch another CSI rerun I am going to scream! So today I was just laying here with my headphones on listening to music with my eyes closed imagining that I was at a great summer concert. Here's where you can decide that my being cooped up is truly making me lose my mind. I swear, no narcotics have been handed out yet. I am looking so forward to that day! The countdown has begun. 25 days and counting.

Anyway, I have three glorious ice packs that have been serving me well, and I have decided to name them. Yep. If they are going to be my weekend company, then I might as well look forward to seeing them and greet them like the old reliables that they are. Please don't call anyone. I know how ridiculous this is.

Ice pack #1 has to be Bruno Mars. I have to believe that if he was sitting here on the bed serenading me about how he "SHOULD have brought me flowers and held my hand, and taken me to EVERY party because all I wanted to do was dance", I would be feeling a heck of a lot better right now. Yep. Sing it Bruno.

Ice pack #2 has to be PINK, without question. She would have to be the best girlfriend to party with EVER. Can you imagine how much fun it would be to dance and sing with her! I love everything that PINK stands for. If she called me right now and asked me to come over for a swim and a long island iced tea, I would so go! That girl is fierce. I swear there isn't anything her voice can't do.

And Ice Pack #3 has to be Adam Levine. If you have to ask why, you are not a female. OMG! This wasn't my image of choice, but I wanted to keep it PG-13. lol!

And there you have it. It only took me fifty years to officially lose it. I'm off to enjoy Ice Pack #1. Later.

Thursday, April 11, 2013

Patient or Patience?

*Written with Janey's permission
**Terrible cell phone quality photos

Contact Information for Mom
Luther Hospital, Room  4121, 715-838-3414
Eau Claire, WI

I decided to put the update on my Mom (usually referred to as Janey) on my personal blog.
It gives me the option to expand on information, and the option for people to read it if they want to, or not. If you don't want to read the technical stuff and just want to read about a prank my silly Mom pulled on a nurse, head to the bottom. I will put it there. So, here is what we know today. 

We have to learn to be very patient. Yep, that's what we have to learn. The doctor made his visit this  morning, and there has been very little change in Mom's INR since she was admitted to the hospital on Monday. An INR in layman's terms references the clotting tendency of blood, taking in to consideration the use of warfarin dosage, liver damage, and vitamin K status. Mom's level is 1.1. It was at 1 when she was admitted to the hospital, and it needs to get up to a minimum of 2 before they will even consider letting her go home. In 2010 when she had pulmonary embolisms in both of her lungs, it was eleven days before she reached that level. This time there are "only" clots in her left lung, so maybe it will only be ten days? We're thinking positive!

She had an echocardiogram done to check the condition of her heart, and there were no negative results. We were really glad to hear that. The doctor's concern was that she may have a small hole in her heart that was allowing clots to pass through. Don't quote me on that one. We got so much information on how the clots can travel through the body that my brain was hurting by the time he left! I can definitely see why it is SO important that people have someone with them to have a second set of ears when listening to results, making major medical decisions or getting information on how to take multiple medications.

Also, when a body is under stress, it has a big affect on diabetes. This happened the last time also, so the hospital staff is working with mom to try to get that regulated again. She feels like a pin cushion! Her blood is tested before every meal, at bedtime and for whatever other tests they need during the day. 

On the bright side, she is in wonderful spirits. She is a tough lady who doesn't like to be laid up, so she is definitely getting stir crazy, but she's very thankful that she recognized the signs  of the embolism much sooner, and went to the clinic. She said she had to do something to get me to come home and visit her. Ohhhh Mom......

Carsten (her adorable boyfriend) got pretty tired out from all of the stress of the situation, as well as staying overnight at the hospital with mom the first night. They had brought a cot in to mom's room so he could get some "rest", but the nurses were in constantly drawing blood and checking on her, and some times when they came in they would actually have to fold up his cot and take it out of the room. Carsten is 88, and even though he is no where near that age in his own mind, his body gets tired. So, on Tuesday night I took him home for some rest. He decided it would be best to stay home for a couple days and get back on his feet. Carsten has congestive heart failure, so it's extra important for him to take care of himself. I picked up a reading light for him to use in the hospital. He thought that was pretty awesome. :) I think he is adorable. 

So, as for what my Mom did to that poor nurse:

I needed to use the restroom, so we decided we would go for a walk together down the hall. Just as we were going to leave, mom got a phone call. I told her I would be right back. In typical Janey style, she didn't wait for me. She headed down the hall looking for me. 

She's walking down the hall with her IV pole, hooked up to all kinds of tubes, and she's sort of near the elevator area. A nurse went walking by her, and Mom looked at her with a perfectly straight face and said "I'm going home". Amazingly, this nurse just kept on walking. Seriously! 

I headed back to Mom's room and found her out in the hallway. I asked her if she still wanted to go for a walk and she said "absolutely". So we're walking down the hall and she starts telling me this story. We both laughed so hard that we couldn't even walk. My mom...

Later in the evening her Heparin drip had run out. Apparently it's such an awful medication that it needs to be signed by two RNs, so Mom's nurse called for a nurse to come in and co-sign with her. Anyone want to guess which nurse came walking in? Yep. The nurse that probably thought my Mom had escaped from the Psychiatric floor. Amazingly, she still didn't say anything! She must be a nurse in her own world. 

Have a safe evening everyone. Don't forget to tell your loved ones that you love them. It's never too early. <3

Friday, February 22, 2013

The Sound of Silence

The most peaceful place I can think of.

I have had a lot of time on my hands (or back) to think lately, and I'm not sure if it has given me clarity or confusion. This post may end up all over the place, but my hope is that by the end of it, all of the little scattered pieces will come back together to make sense.

For those of you reading this who haven't followed my other blogs, I have been somewhat laid up with back issues for several months. I can function, I just can't travel or sit for more than a few minutes at a time. Now that our children are grown, the majority of our social life takes place at our lake home, which takes, you guessed it, travel. So, I often send my husband and dog Brutus on their way on Friday afternoon to enjoy themselves at the lake, and I stay behind with the three cats to keep me company.

I'm sure there were gasps out there. What??? He leaves you there alone every weekend? Trust me, most weeks I am more than happy to see those boys go! I can honestly say that I love to be alone. I make that statement, but it's only partially true. I love to be alone.....MOST of the time.

I have referred to myself before as being somewhat anti-social, and my friends have laughed at me. To be honest, that's my fault. On Friday nights when we meet up with our group of friends at the lake, it isn't uncommon to laugh and talk and have a great time well into the morning! What they don't know is that it will often take me a week of being alone to refuel for another weekend of fun. There are people who love to go out to shop and eat and visit often. I'm just not one of them. I fall in to that "occasional" category.

I also have depression, and often feel tired. I have thought about this aspect of my personality too because there was a time in my life when I did feel much more of a need to get out and about, but I have had depression for the majority of my life. I don't think that there's any denying that depression and the medications to keep it in check can take a toll on a person's energy. Plus, depression has a tendency to have it's ups and downs. My personal experience with depression is something that I don't discuss openly with very many people, not by my choice, but simply because it makes people uncomfortable. It's still a hard illness for many people to understand. I look normal and healthy, so what's the problem? I think that we've made HUGE strides, but there is still a long way to go. If anyone was ever to ask me about my experience, I would never hide it. My personal feeling is, if we don't share we don't learn, and learning means moving forward and growing. Moving forward means familiarity which gives comfort and often means acceptance. There was a day when people thought cancer was contagious. Now we can all see how wrong that thought process was. Information is invaluable.

I'm going to jump again here. Today I read an awesome blog written by an artist by the name of Kim Klassen. I actually took a class from Kim to learn how to use Photo Shop. She lives in Canada, and gives online classes that are amazing. Anyway, she had written about being an introvert, and it took me by surprise. Here is this amazing woman who teaches classes, travels to give lectures and sells artwork. She is known in many countries, and, she is an introvert? It didn't jive. Then I read her story, and it was like I was reading about myself! She talked about using her social energy for a big event and then needing complete quiet to rejuvenate. YES! I totally understood what she was saying. She writes so beautifully. Actually, everything she creates is beautiful. I highly recommend reading her story. Could I possibly just be an introvert?    Thoughts on Being An Excellent Introvert

Nothing like a small town bar
The last lost road in this story I want to bring in is my photography. It is something that brings me so much peace and happiness. The summer Don gave me my new camera I was living at the lake. I was able to wander around during the day snapping photos of anything that inspired me. I hadn't learned how to do any editing yet, so everything I did was a new learning experience as far as taking pictures was concerned. There were times when I didn't talk to anyone but the dog for three days in a row, but I was in heaven. The weekend would come, Don would show up and the social fun would begin. On Friday night, without fail our large group of friends would gather at the local tavern on the lake. Phone calls didn't need to be made, and no one was left out. There seemed to be an unspoken rule that if you were available, you showed up, and most often we all did. Saturdays we sometimes had dinner with just one or two couples for a quieter evening. Once Sunday rolled around, Don would have to leave and the weekly routine would begin again. We don't have cable TV at the lake, so aside from nature, it was mostly silence. As good as this sounds (to me), here's the bad thing. I have gotten so used to having this silence now that I tend to get a little pissy, yes, I said pissy, if there is any unwanted noise around me, or if I have more than one thing scheduled to do during the week! That can't be good.

My Beautiful Daughter
The only time that taking pictures doesn't make me happy is when I'm photographing people. I say that because I have yet to photograph a willing participant. My heart takes pictures that are candid. I don't like photos that are posed. Obviously, some can be posed to a degree, but the whole "sit perfectly and smile" thing just doesn't work for me. I love pictures of laughter, talking, movement and love. My all time favorite picture of my daughter is a side view that was snapped of her while we were on the boat at the lake. It's so relaxed and gorgeous. She is such a beautiful girl all on her own, but she hates having her picture taken. By taking this candid shot, I was able to catch a natural moment of happiness. It also may go to the difference between practicing something that you are book trained to do and practicing something that you do instinctively. Telling me about aperture or shutter speeds isn't going to impress me, but capturing a gorgeous flower with the morning dew on it will. 

So, to bring it all together. Am I anti-social, depressed, introverted or in need of total isolation? BAH!!!

Drag's Pizza = YUM!
Here is what I think. I may be anti-social in the sense that I don't like to do stuff ALL the time, but you will never find someone that loves their family and friends more than I do. When you do see me, I am warm and huggy, and every one of those hugs is sincere. Fair warning; If you are narcissistic or have willingly hurt an animal, chances are you won't be on my friend list. I am a big animal lover and advocate, and probably won't give a rip about how great you are. Do something for someone else, and I will be impressed. Also, if you really want to see me, just ask me to go to Drag's Pizza in Rice Lake, WI, for a deep dish pepperoni pizza and I will be yours for the night! I have yet to find a better pizza, and trust me, I have tried a LOT! I miss my Friday nights with friends at the lake so much, and honestly, I think that a person NEEDS their friends. There's nothing better than a night of belly laughing for a little free serotonin!

Yes, I have depression, but it's nothing new. It's something I will always have, and as much as I try to let it not define who I am, there are times that it does. If you feel me pulling away from you, I'm sorry. When I am feeling blue I tend to withdraw even more. Part of it is that I feel physically so much more tired, but I also feel the need to just protect myself and heal. Hopefully you know me well enough by now to know that if I am actually upset with you, I will care about you enough to talk to you about it. I would never play games and just be mad at you. That is so not cool to do!

I truly am the happiest with the sun in my face and my camera in my hand. I love it. What can I say. I know that there have been times that I have started talking about how much I love it, and you have felt like crossing your eyes, but you have sat there and listened patiently. Thank you. I am not amazing or great at photography, but I feel passionate about it. If everyone in life could be lucky enough to find something that they can do that they feel passionate about and love,  it would be so amazing. I didn't find photography until I was in my mid forties, so don't give up. You never know when something might land in your hands that sends an excitement through you that you can't explain.

Even after going through all of these things, I still haven't figured out why I need the amount of silence and alone time that I do. One thing I do know for sure is that I am far too complicated to put just one label on. So, let's go with this; I am a person with many different aspects to my personality, that just happens to require many hours of silence and alone time per week. How's that.

I hope that you and your beautiful complicated self have a lovely day,