The light at the end of the tunnel

I had my 8-week follow-up at the ortho doc last week, and unfortunately I’m not entirely healed yet. He said he could see the bone fragments were “trying to heal back” with the rest of the bone, but there was still one chunk that wasn’t cooperating. It’s likely why I’m still having a decent amount of pain, especially when touching that specific spot.

The doc (well, PA) said that it’s likely the bone chunk will stay put, but should smooth out and hopefully not cause pain forever. Or it might cause pain forever. It might just be when something presses on that spot (you know, like a SHOE). We’ll just have to wait and see how much trouble it’s going to cause me. :/

In better news, I was told to start transitioning out of my boot into a brace around the house, with the intention to start physical therapy and transition from the brace to nothing. Armed with the info that it’s not likely I’ll injure the ankle any further at this point by trying to walk on it (carefully, though, as it’s still weak and could buckle), I started using the brace around the house. I quickly discovered that I could walk easily with the brace and one crutch, and after a couple days of doing that I’m able to sort of limp around with the brace and no crutch. I was even able to walk to the mailbox with the brace! I had to use a crutch to help me, though. I’m still not good at stairs or uneven terrain, and I’m trying to take it slowly. It’s hard to tell if the tendons are still injured or if everything is just tight because of lack of use, but I definitely don’t want to push too hard.

I start physical therapy tonight, which I’m excited about. I’ve always had relatively weak ankles that have plagued me while hiking (basically I’m slow af going over rocks or other uneven spots because my ankles would roll easily), so I’m hoping that in addition to rehabbing this ankle I can learn how to strengthen them both so I can get back out into the woods without having to worry about injuring myself again. (Because apparently now that I’ve broken and sprained my ankle it’s more likely it will happen again. Yay.)

After two months of what felt like little to no progress, it seems like a lot of improvement has happened in just the past two or three days. I’m not sure if that’s normal, but I’ll take it.

Get moving

I live a fairly sedentary life. And by “fairly,” I mean I sit in a car for two or more hours a day, in front of a computer for eight to nine and then on the couch for the remaining hours in the day that I’m not laying down in the bed.

Last fall, I decided I wanted to start working with a personal trainer since I wasn’t challenging myself in the gym. I met with him and explained that I wasn’t looking to lose weight, but rather tone some of this jiggle I’ve picked up in my 30s and work on my endurance. So I could have a better chance at surviving the zombie apocalypse, I explained.

At my first meeting with him, after realizing he and Ian knew each other from high school, we discussed my diet. “Nutrition is a big part of exercise,” he said. “You’re a fatty,” I heard, despite that was neither the truth nor what he was telling me. Reality dictates that eating cheese and bread three meals a day isn’t the best way to build lean muscle, and he believes that if you eat healthy you’ll have better results in the gym.

But I wasn’t ready to hear it. I was all, “I have value even if I’m jiggly!” — completely missing the point that regardless of body type, we all need to eat well. Even more so if I was going to build muscle. I resisted his advice to replace my sugar and carb festival with friendly fats and more whole foods, and I found myself nearly passing out during our workouts.

I stopped going to the gym during December and most of January, but during that time I thought a lot about my body. About why I had joined a gym, why I wanted to get healthier in general and why I hired someone to help me achieve that goal. Eventually, I realized that eating well and exercising and trying to shape my body doesn’t mean that I have no value as-is. It means that I want to feel better when I wake up in the morning, and have that feeling continue throughout the day. It means that I want to be able to run up the stairs without getting winded. Or be able to run if being chased.

But—and this is probably going to sound really shitty—I have been thin my entire life. “Slender” is how my trainer and my doctor have described me, and while I can eat like an asshole and drink like a fish without gaining any noticeable weight, I realized I am going to have to work hard to get into shape. And never having worried about this before, it’s really fucking difficult. (Please play me your tiny violins now.)

But I’ve jumped in head-first and am actually seeing results. I’ve been on a low carb, low dairy, low sugar, no alcohol (ok I cheat there) diet for about six weeks and I can already tell a difference. I no longer almost faint during workouts. I’ve seen some jiggle disappear and I’ve discovered muscles I never knew my body possessed, let alone used.

While weight loss is not my goal, I am weighing myself daily to get more in tune with how my body reacts to this routine, and I am still finding myself disappointed when I gain and happy when I lose—a mindset from which I need to figure out how to extricate myself. Especially since my weight fluctuates five pounds either way on a weekly to bi-weekly basis, and has done so pretty much my entire life.

I’ve found my clothing is looser yet I basically weigh the same, which should tell me right there that I’m on track for achieving my goals. But as a woman, I’m bombarded daily with messages that tell me I’m not worth anything unless I’m constantly losing weight. I know that’s not true, but the tapes play over and over in my head. It’s a battle I continue to wage.

But at least I’m up off the couch. At least I am moving.

About that nose piercing

As I alluded to in a previous entry, I woke up on Saturday, May 29, in a Hampton Inn in Mt. Pleasant, Texas, and decided I wanted to get my nose pierced while Ian and I were in Austin visiting Summer and Cole.

I honestly don’t know where this came from; I’ve never really had the desire to have it pierced before. I had my eyebrow and my navel pierced for a while when I was younger, and I have a tattoo, but I’m not really the “let’s get shit pierced!” kind of person. Although this is probably because I work in a professional setting and there are only so many appropriate places I can pierce and still keep my job.

So I don’t know; maybe I was delirious at the thought of having nine full days of vacation ahead of me, maybe it was the freedom and expansiveness I felt on the open road we were traveling in east Texas. Or maybe it is a manifestation of the whole “I don’t give a fuck what anyone thinks” point of liberation everyone told me I would arrive at after I turned 30.

Either way, on Memorial Day after hitting Juan in a Million for breakfast, Summer and I found ourselves looking up reviews on Yelp for piercers in Austin. She found only positive reviews for a man named Pineapple at Shaman Modifications, so I called him up and asked if I could come in that day. He said he could see me in 30 minutes, so I batted down some last minute nerves and we took off for the shop.

The shop itself was very clean, even the front room, which was encouraging. Pineapple, a large dude with every visible part of his body either tattooed or embedded with some sort of metal, was awesome. He was soft-spoken, calming and immediately asked if I had any questions. He helped me pick out which piece of jewelry would fit me best, explained that there hadn’t been a significance to what side was pierced since the 80s (HA!), and then led Summer and I to a room in the back where I would get pierced.

The room reminded me a little of a doctor’s office—very sterile and cold, with lots of gloves and containers of stuff like needles, gauze, rubbing alcohol, etc.—except there were pictures of kanjis hanging and a large mirror spanning almost the entirety of one wall.

We made small talk while Pineapple began his preparations, but then he made sure to explain every single step of the sterilization process. He told me to stop him at any time if I had any questions, and I mentioned that I was glad he was so serious about sterilizing the instruments since my husband had requested I didn’t return with Hepatitis C. Pineapple laughed, and said that was an unusual request but a good one.

Every single thing he touched (with freshly gloved hands the entire time—before and after the items were sterilized) that would touch my skin he sterilized, explaining to me what he was doing and how the sterilization would work. He put everything into a tray that then went inside of an autoclave machine, which would take six to seven minutes to complete the sterilization process. We went up front to complete my paperwork while the tools were sterilizing, and he explained the six rules of taking care of my piercing:

  1. 1. Don’t listen to your friends.
  2. 2. Don’t touch it.
  3. 3. Don’t touch it.
  4. 4. Don’t touch it.
  5. 5. Don’t touch it.
  6. 6. Don’t touch it.

He recommended some soap called Dr. Bronner’s for me to use only if the piercing got dirty (no more than once or twice a month), but otherwise instructed me to never get it wet and rinse it with distilled water if it did (like when I get out of the shower). His motto is basically “Your body knows the best way to heal itself, so leave that shit alone and let it do its job.” Got it.

The actual piercing went quickly, which I had anticipated from having two other body parts pierced in the past. Pineapple cleaned my nose, inside and outside, with rubbing alcohol, and had me lay down on the table and begin taking deep breaths in and blowing out. He explained every step he would take (but also assured me he would tell me everything he was doing as he was doing it). I laid down on the table and noticed a sign affixed on the ceiling that said something to the effect of “Just keep breathing, everything will be ok.” I made a mental note to remember that in my every day life.

And then it just… happened. He had me take a couple of deep breaths, and told me to blow out my third breath very slowly and he would push the needle through. It felt like I was being pinched, and then it was over. He instructed me to turn my head to the right and witness him putting the needle in the Sharps container, and then told me I could sit up but not to stand for a few seconds.

A single tear fell out of my right eye, as is expected with anything involving the nose, but I wouldn’t say that it hurt. It stung for maybe a minute and I was aware that there was a titanium rod through my nostril, but I never felt what I would call pain for maybe more than the couple of seconds it took for him to pierce the skin.

And then we were done! Summer and I headed over to Target to pick up some distilled water, gauze pads and a nasal aspirator bulb (for me to squirt the distilled water onto the piercing), and then over to Central Market to find the Dr. Bronner’s soap, and then back to her house.

I do need to point out that I am SO FREAKING GLAD Summer was there with me. I was trying my hardest not to be nervous, and it helped so much to have someone else there to make sure everything was kosher, take pictures and be available to pick my ass up off the floor in case I fainted.

Pineapple warned that depending on my body and how healthy it is, it could take anywhere from 30 to 90 days to heal so I needed to be careful and follow the six rules for that entire time period. It’s really not that hard to take care of—at first I was washing my face outside of the shower, but I’ve gotten used to the piercing’s location now so I just make sure to not wash that area and then rinse it and pat it dry with the gauze when I get out of the shower. I had one day of “holy shit how do I get this caked-up snot off the inside of the piercing??!” but a few Q-tips and a carefully maneuvered toothpick took care of that. TMI? Sorry.

Every once in a while I can feel the piercing (mainly when I wake up in the morning or right after I rinse and dry it), but for the most part it seems to be healing nicely, as far as I can tell.

I’m a little worried that I don’t quite understand how the bar works (he showed me some kind of bendy thing that fits into the titanium bar and holds it together with tension, and then explained that the gem on the end can be changed without having to remove the bar), but I don’t plan on changing it out any time soon. So I guess I’m good as long as I don’t somehow sneeze it out.