After work on Monday I had little debate with myself about whether or not I was going to stop at Trader Joe’s on the way home. It was bloody hot out, the kind of hot that you can feel through your shoes and makes you wonder what the boiling point of the body is.
But you’ll be happy to hear I won the debate with myself and ended up stopping. I picked a few new ‘tries’ I wanted to share with you before they become more of my regular go-to’s and I forget all about them.
Mango & Cream Ice Cream
Do not confuse this with TJ’s mango sorbet (which is also delish and one I’ve shared before) If you simply plopped fresh mango in some sweet cream, this is exactly what you would come up with. Amazingly good.
And cold. Cold is gooooood.
These come frozen, only $1.99 for a package of ten I think. Crispy and flavorful, easy to make and, lets be honest, good any day. Hashbrowns warm my soul.
Soft Pretzel Stick
Never been a fan of regular pretzels, I have to say. I just really don’t get the appeal. But soft pretzels are a whole other thing…a beautiful thing, especially these. I’d never seen them at TJ’s before, so I just grabbed one seeing that it was only 99 cents. It ended up being so good I actually ate it plain, although I’m sure you could put all sorts of things with it. It’s difficult to tell from the picture, but it’s a good size too, probably around 6″.
Just close your eyes when you take a bite and you’ll think you’re at Disneyland.
After a month or so of feeling lousy (see last post) I had a sneaking suspicion something in me was going to give, and give it did. Good old trusty lungs always there to take the fall for me.
I have to say, for being so troublesome, my lungs have served me well over the years despite their spontaneous, mischievous behavior. And I’ve gotten to know them quite well.
So well, in fact, that Monday morning I knew exactly what was happening….and then proceeded to plunge headlong into full-fledged denial.
After waking up to a strange and sharp pain in my side I knew all too well, I called M to tell him my right lung was on the fritz, but assured him that it would go back to it’s proper place without any outside involvement.
This has worked for me before in most cases though not all cases, which is the plight of the optimist I suppose. Being the stubborn little utopian heart that I am, I hardly had a choice really. It was painful to a degree, but I just kept telling myself that it would resolve on it’s own like a good little lung should. I had plans that day for the salon and some relaxation away from the office, and I’ll be darned if some dysfunctional lung was going to stop me.
By mid-day I was walking around a shopping center in Huntington Beach clutching my side, feeling reasonably woozy and looking rather ridiculous. I felt as if I let go, my lung might just flop right out of me onto the sidewalk. The breathing wasn’t so good either, but I kept trudging along with a smile, coffee in one hand, lung in the other.
By the third store I knew I’d better call it quits and headed home to rest, hoping that would do the trick.
After doing my best to make an appointment to get a chest x-ray at my regular GP but being told they were full for the afternoon, they transferred me to a nurse on call.
Nurse: “You need to go the ER.”
Me: “Hmm. Ok, thanks for your recommendation
Nurse: “Mrs Fanning, Are you going to the ER?”
Me: “Um…well, not right now. Have a nice day!”
I made it to the evening, at which point M took me to urgent care where they confirmed a spontaneous pneumothorax and promptly sent me to the ER.
My request to avoid a chest tube surgery was met with a pat on the shoulder and a shake of the head by both surgeons. I warned them that my body was resistant to medication, and to please ensure I was sent to la-la land before they got in there. My last experience with this hadn’t gone so well, as I was no where near la-la land and felt every bit of that damned tube going through my chest.
They assured me that this time I would be far far away.
I was not. I was right there with them the whole time. The whole damned time.
But in all honesty I do not blame the doctors. After 16 mg of morphine and who knows how much versed, I felt like I’d not had a dose of children’s tylonel. The doctors kept looking at me wide-eyed wondering how I was still alert and functional.
It was as painful as I remember it, but the surgeons were as kind and gentle as one can be when probing a tube into one’s ribcage and pushing it down through your lung cavity. There were more tears than I wanted there to be, and since you have to be awake and restrained during the process, I did my best to hide my face under the blue sterile drape, as I detest crying in front of anyone and find that hiding is my best relief.
That and cursing. Poor doctors got an earful.
Mike could watch, but he couldn’t come near me, which was rather torturous for us both. At one point I looked up to see tears in his eyes as he watched me, and I could hardly stand it. I think that broke me more than the physical pain.
Pain is a funny thing. The more you resist it, the more difficult it is to bear. Once you let yourself acknowledge it’s there, your mind can go to another place and help you focus on something else.
And do you want to hear the really fun part? When the doctors were finally done and I was just beginning to adjust to the pain, they took a chest x-ray only to find that the tube didn’t go where it was supposed to. My lung was still down and they had to do it all over again.
I won’t tell you the word I used at this moment, but please use your imagination.
At this point it was three in the morning and I told Mike to go home to the dogs. The whole evening I was more concerned about them than I was about my lung, and I didn’t want him to watch any more of the nonsense I was going through.
The second time they didn’t bother to give me any more pain meds, as they weren’t making a difference and my heart rate had dropped too low.
When they moved me from the ER to admit me to the ICU upstairs, I saw the sun coming up from outside the window.
I don’t remember much after that, as they gave me Benadryl to help me sleep, and sleep I did. I awoke to both M and sweet sister sometime later that day, doing their due diligence in making me laugh at just about everything.
I do recall feeling some relief when I realized it was my right lung and not my left, where they would have had to dig right through my side tattoo. Thank God for the little things, perhaps that hummingbird is holding that side upright.
My last collapse they went in through the front, upper chest, not from the side. I think the latter was far more painful, personally.
Anywho, good times. They eventually discharged me with the chest tube, which they were able to remove several days later…to my delight and relief. Doc says if one more lung goes down they will need to go in and do whats called a full VATS surgery where they basically glue your lungs up.
Glue. Do you hear that lungs, DO YOU? You stay put.
Here’s to breathing, good friends, and still believing your lungs can be good even when they’re unruly little bastards from time to time.
We all have those places we go to rest, escape, or otherwise run away from the world for a little while. And of course, there are times we need these places more frequently than not.
I have found myself seeking out those routes of escape and rest for the past month or so, primarily due to my health (or lack thereof) which has a way of exhausting my patience as much as my body. Lupus, I’ve learned, doesn’t play by anyone’s rules but it’s own. I get so tired of feeling like shit, so over the idea of fighting for my body, doing everything right yet still suffering the consequences of the disease. I get so burned out from trying to appear well to everyone around me even when I’m no where close to that in reality.
Sometimes I just can’t keep up with it all, and I suppose this has been one of those times. My 6 month check in last week didn’t go as well as I’d hoped, the lab work showing a majority of my levels are off for reasons I can only speculate about. Nausea has been a daily battle of late, as well as the intense exhaustion that leads me to sleep 10 hours at night and 3-4 during the day whenever I get the chance.
I hate writing this, I despise both the truth of it and the fact that I can’t ‘get over it’ at the moment. I am an optimist at heart, and when an optimist gets to a point where they can no longer point to the sunshine in a given matter, they feel they’ve failed somehow.
At least I do.
So thats me at the moment, in all my honest glory. Trying to get food down, trying to keep it down, trying to stay positive even though I don’t feel like it, and trying to hold enough sunshine together for other people so they don’t have to hear about this nonsense. So why am I telling you? I actually didn’t intend to – it’s sort of just what came out when I sat down to write. But I suppose if you’ve chosen to read this, you can handle my griping……..and if not, hopefully you’ve stopped reading by now.
But back to what I originally came here to say- where we go to rest. I do find that in times like these it can be quite helpful to recall to mind those places you go to rest, even if they’re not immediately accessible. Just knowing they’re there waiting for you can be comfort enough until an escape route has been forged.
I have a few, please feel free to partake in my repertoire as you find useful.
First one that comes to mind is my dog, Mr B. Dogs have an innate ability to sense suffering in a way human beings usually can’t. He will come and lie next to me, let me bury my face in his fur, he will make me laugh, and encourage me to get out for some fresh air when needed. He is, by far, the creature I rely most on.
Another would be the park where I take him in the evening. It’s quiet, green, cool, and almost magical. It’s away from the world, the street, and most people. The friends I walk with there require no explanation or even conversation at times. We just come there to escape with our dogs.
My closest friends. Being an introvert, this isn’t always my go-to, although it probably should be more often than I let it. I need people, even though I debate that fact with myself more often than I should. Mikey, Q, sister and Suj, they are my peeps.
Target. Most girls reading this will understand this with zero explanation. I don’t know how they did it, but the creator’s of Target cast a magic spell over all Targets in the land, making them a place where you can’t help but be happy and shop. Perhaps not the most feasible place to go in you’re in a financial pinch (the spell also causes you to buy things you otherwise didn’t know you needed) but it sure makes us smile, doesn’t it?
Running. This one is tricky. It’s definitely an escape for me, but one my body has to capable of performing in order for it to work. When I’m able to, however, it is beautiful.
Good books, good movies. No explanation needed
Getting on the back of a horse and just riding. Wish I could do this more often.
I could probably keep going, but I’ll stop there for now. You get the idea. I hope the next time you find yourself feeling distraught or burdened, you can begin by looking at your list of escape routes and find one that can give you a bit of rest and relief.
The first time I met Kevin, one of the first questions he asked me was, “If you had a superpower, what would it be?”
I don’t recall my answer, but I’ll never forget the stoic way in which he asked it, without so much of a hint of a smile, as if it were the most ordinary question to be asked during a job interview. He sort of just looked at me as if he knew things about me I didn’t know myself. If I had stood up right then and there and told him I could sprout wings and fly I don’t feel like he would have been too surprised.
That was 11 years go.
Since that time, I’ve learned Kevin didknow things about me I didn’t realize were there, because that is his superpower. Kevin sees what is invisible to most of the world and brings out the best in everyone. He can see beyond what your eyes tell you are there to possibilities most of us only dream of.
When we first began working together, Kevin seemed to be a fairly serious, no nonsense guy with his dark rimmed glasses and high tech gadgets scattered across his desk. Before too long I realized that while he did shoot straight from the hip (a trait I found both rare and refreshing) he was anything but serious. His dry and witty sense of humor did not take long to emerge, and within 6 months he had me laughing so hard at times that I had to walk out of the office for fear of losing all composure and shedding uncontrollable, hysterical tears of laughter.
And aside from how much fun it was to work with him, it also became obvious to me quite quickly how innovative and skilled he was in so many ways odd ways. He seemed capable of solving just about any random problem and troubleshooting through the day like some sort of Educational Wizard.
Speaking of wizards, he also designs some pretty groovy magic wands from his garage that would impress even the most ardent Harry Potter fan. Another one of his secret skills I bet you didn’t know about.
To be completely honest, I’ve felt a little bit guilty at times for having him as a boss. All those stories you hear of women feeling less-than or devalued because of their gender in the workplace, not given equal opportunities as their male counter-parts. For me, the very opposite was true. Not only did Kevin consistently treat me as an equal, he poured into my growth and training so that I could ultimately take his place, sacrificing his own office for me as he wandered around at times like a nomad, doing his work from whatever little corner of the campus he could find. Really, who does that?
Kevin has gone from being my boss, to my colleague, to my brother and dear friend. I will forever be indebted to him for his hard work, sacrifice and friendship, as will so many others. I will miss his bright orange-rimmed glasses and neon green socks, his movie recommendations that have never steered me wrong, and depth of intelligence and wit that has allowed us to have many deep conversations. I will miss seeing him, tea in hand, wiz by my desk to go save another corner of the world with a brain, heart and soul that never stops making the world a better place.
Kevin, you are honestly one of my favorite people in this world, and I hope you know the difference you’ve made here in the lives of so many. You have the heart of a servant but the power of a superhero which you most often choose not to shine a light on.
Today though, I’m shining that light whether or not you like it. You’ll always be my superhero.
So for one last time, cheers to you my friend, you deserve only the best in this world and the world to come.
I don’t know what made me do it, but I made a large stack of buttermilk pancakes from Trader Joe’s last night and nearly died of bliss.
Get them, make them, eat them.
And just so you know, that beautiful photo of the lovely stack there on the left there isn’t mine, I just stole it from the internet somewhere. Muahahaha.
Trust me, you wouldn’t want to see mine, they weren’t pretty. Just a delicious disaster of a pile, which is perhaps part of the reason I don’t take pictures of my food.
The other reason is that it doesn’t occur to me. Food is for eating, no?
Also, I might as well tell you that last time I was there I grabbed one of these bad boys:
I know they aren’t much to look at, but as I just illustrated, it’s the beauty within food that counts. These were the most flavor- rich tortilla chips I’ve ever tried, you could almost eat them on their own. I had mine with some tomato basil hummus, which I am never without.
Be careful with that stuff though, it’s very easy to go through it in one sitting if you’re not paying attention. Which really isn’t a problem except that you won’t have any for tomorrow.
What is so bad about Monday that we consistently dread it like some oncoming disease that will cripple and damage us forever?
Monday. Dun dun DUN .
I have this moment every sunday evening, right around 5 or 6 o’clock, when I realize the weekend that I thought had just started is already about to come to a close, and monday is peering it’s annoying little head around the corner and staring at me, smiling. I usually stare right back for a while and then cover my head with a nearby blanket and go into a deep seated denial and tell myself it’s Friday.
Take THAT, Monday.
For a person who loves her job, this ridiculous sense of Monday Dread is both unwarranted and comical, because by the next morning I’m as right as rain, more than fine with the fact that it’s the first day of the week, my aforementioned sense of impending doom entirely forgotten.
Until the following sunday, of course.
Monday is an impish little bugger, and you’ve got to be careful with him and his wily ways. He likes to make you think he’s a lot nastier than he is……much like a spider. Yes, it’s true, mondays are like spiders. They only really cause you problems if you let them scare you, but usually they’re harmless as long as you don’t panic.
And as long as you remember to check your shoes before putting them on.
The trick with Monday is to show him you’re not scared, look him dead in the eye and say, “Monday, I see you, and I’ll raise you……two espressos”
Once you’ve shown him that he hasn’t gotten the better of you, that you’re onto his tricks and that he’s really not all that bad, he’ll leave you alone and pass you along to Tuesday, who, as you know, is quite mellow.
Monday is never the terrible badass he wants you to think he is, as long as you don’t let him get the better of you. And hey, look, you survived it once again, because guess what? It’s Tuesday my friend 🙂
~This message was brought you by a monday survivor~
Seeing how long it’s been since I have brought some Trader Joe’s treasures your way, and what an outright tragedy that is, I’ve decided to remedy that today.
I would like to blame the seductive and tantalizing Sprouts that was built on the corner, as it has lured me in with it’s home baked muffins and fresh fruit on the daily. Though I must admit it, it is no TJ’s. So back to my old stomping grounds we go!
Hatch Fire Roasted & Chopped Chiles
First of all, I’d like to say, there is nothing like true New Mexico hatch chili. I was brought up on the stuff as a staple ingredient, to the point where we’d actually be looking for something to go with the chili rather than the other way around. That being said, I found this little gem in the frozen food aisle, and it comes pretty close to the real thing.
Now, the trick with this guy is to slow roast for at least an hour after thawing, preferably one and a half. You don’t want to skimp on the time. Then just add a bit of seasoning and crushed garlic if it suits you, and you’ve got the most delicious perk to just about any meal.
Honey Butter Potato Chips
These babies don’t need anything but your fingers to eat them. They seem to have the perfect pairing of sweet to salty, and sort of just melt when you eat them. I suppose I should give some sort of forewarning with these: If you don’t like the taste of butter, you probably won’t enjoy them. My husband took one bite and looked at me like I’d fed him dirt. But who doesn’t like the taste of butter??
Don’t let his non-buttered spirit stop you, go get yours 🙂
Sigh. Moving on.
Cruciferous Crunch Collection
This may not look like much, but I promise it’s worth picking up a few bags. I’ve never been a fan of what I call ‘flimsy greens’ or salad, which usually consists of a handful of ice berg lettuce and a few chopped up tomatoes. No, that sounds like turtle food to me. This stuff is hearty and full of flavor, great cooked up with chicken or fish, or just used as a great salad mix. (and added perk, no cilantro! High five to my fellow cilantro hating friends)
Aioli Garlic Mustard Sauce
I really don’t know what drew me to this little jar in the first place, but I’d like to believe it was the mustard fairy. This stuff is incredibly tasty, and good on just about anything. It’s like the queen of mustard. Ok, that sounds weird, but just try it. Put it on chicken, in a sandwich, dip for veggies, on a cheeseburger. Yum yum yum yum yum.
Boffo and Quasar Bars
And last but not least, I grabbed one of the boffo’s whilst waiting in line because, well, thats what you do when you’re staring at chocolate bars and it’s 6pm and you’re starving.
Ok I grabbed 3. I think they were only a dollar a piece, don’t judge me.