Author: larrie269

Lost Sense of Time


Today is Tuesday. It’s hard to keep track. I confuse which days we need to do which Zoom meetings. Last week, we missed a morning gymnastics Zoom. Today, we missed Dom’s class Zoom. This is one of my biggest struggles recently: tracking my kids’ online appointments. It’s an odd problem to have. I keep track of my own Zooms okay: with college buddies, writers’ group (above), virtual game nights, and family.

Since my last post, we experienced another big aftershock. It happened the next morning, around 7:40, as I was slowly waking up. Dom was in the family room playing Minecraft on the family computer. Gabbi was still in bed. When it hit, it rumbled for six seconds, shaking the bed, creaking the wood in the structure of the house. I checked the camera, expecting Gabbi to be crying. She simply put the pillow over her head, then after the shaking stop, curled back up with her stuffies.

Dom came in. “Mom what was that?” he asked.

“Another aftershock,” I said, forcing my tone to be upbeat. “A big one, huh? Pretty good.” I offered him an impressive smile.

“Yeah,” he said. “Shook my chair.”

I waited for him to sound scared. He shrugged his shoulders and went back to his Minecraft.

I was definitely awake for the day now, my heart rate elevated. I took some deep breaths. They didn’t seem to help. I got up and got moving. After getting breakfast for the kids, I put on some workout clothes and spent an hour lifting weights and breaking a sweat. That calmed my anxiety and I could focus on the day ahead: Dom’s schooling, Gabbi’s preschooling, my working, Nathan’s working; a house full of a family on their screens.

We would take a break, mid-day, to leave the house and drive to Muir Elementary School. We picked up our two free school lunches there. The lunch ladies wore masks. One of them clearly crocheted her own. It was pink.

Today, we are in the “orange” phase. Utah has their plan fairly well outlined. We moved out of the red phase at the end of April. In April, you couldn’t go inside Swig. I haven’t been yet this month, but perhaps the lobby is now open…?

They now allow businesses to open up as long as they can do so with social distancing, strict cleaning, and strongly-encouraged masks. I went to the store last Saturday for groceries and less people wore masks. They care less now in Davis County. Maybe Salt Lake is better. I wore my mask. The Smith’s felt crowded. It may have been my own bias, but it seemed the maskless people were cavalier with social distancing as well. I tried to keep my space. I also tried to smile at people with my eyes. There’s a distinct divide felt out in public, but also a feeling of missed connections.

I’ve found a lot of reward in my job lately. It feels good to be both challenged and competent. I finished documenting how to integrate our business product, OpenVPN Access Server, with Google’s GSuite Enterprise using Lightweight Directory Access Protocol (LDAP). I know, it’s all this techie stuff, which is why I felt both challenged and competent. Documenting the steps meant doing them myself and included setting up an LDAP client in Google, download a certificate and key, uploading those to my Linux server in AWS, and configuring the rest of the connection. Once I had it all done, I could test by logging in to my VPN with a user that had credentials set up from the GSuite account. Success. I then passed of my documentation to one of our tech gurus, who happens to be in the Netherlands, and he sent it back with a few small typos and notes. I basically got it right. I know how to do my job. I felt validated.

And then I tried to parent my kids. They ignored me. They fought. They acted like kids. And I felt not-so validated. Ah, how humbling parenting can be.

This morning, Gabbi said, “I don’t want to make any bad choices because I love Jesus.”

With all of this home schooling and upside-down living during this pandemic, I hope my kids learn one thing: kindness.

Earthquakes and pandemics and bears, oh my


There’s so much time for thinking these days.

Too much.

It can spiral. In the wrong way.

I haven’t had problems with that for a long time, though. I was mentally strong. But the world today is upside down. So I’m going to keep track of it. I haven’t used this blog for a long time. I’m dusting it off for it to be my journal for the next while. Feel free to read along. Or not. I’m doing this for mental health.

First, some notes on what’s happened:

  • We shut down the schools in Utah in March. The governor ordered a “soft closure” where they’re now learning online.
  • We picked up an iPad for Dom (1st grade) and packets of lessons for Gabbi (preschool).
  • Nathan works almost entirely for home. Every now and then he goes to the building (North Star Elementary) to let in a teacher.
  • He records stories on video to post on the school’s Facebook page.
  • He records videos for his teachers to do a type of mental health challenge each week.
  • I work from home most afternoons writing technical content for OpenVPN. I appreciate the connection with my coworkers.
  • Dom and Gabbi watch a lot of screens. It’s okay.
  • They have Zoom gymnastics and dance.
  • Dom practices his piano most days and likes to play Scarborough Fair with me.

And there was an earthquake. March 18th, I was shaken awake. I instantly knew it was an earthquake. I looked around for a second to try to find my robe to put on, but then ran upstairs to my kids’ bedrooms. I could hear Gabbi crying. I ran into her room first and the shaking had stopped.

“It’s okay, Gabbi. It was an earthquake. It’s okay.” She laid down.

I opened Dom’s door.

“Mom what was that?” he asked. I heard the fear in his voice.

“An earthquake,” I said.

“You mean I lived through an earthquake?” he asked. He sounded incredulous.

“Yes,” I said and went back into Gabbi’s room.

She was curled under her covers.

“You can go back to sleep if you want,” I said. “Or you can come downstairs.”

I went downstairs and into my bathroom to use the toilet. Nathan was in the shower. I figured he’d comment when he heard me in the bathroom near him. When he didn’t, I said something.

“Did you feel that?” I asked.

“What?”

“The earthquake.”

“There was an earthquake? I thought I just lost my balance in the shower.”

I went into my bedroom. Dom and Gabbi were on the bed. We turned on the news and watched. The first big aftershock shook us all on the bed. Nathan got dressed for work. They were handing out laptops to students at his school that day, the first official week of online school about to start. We were supposed to pick up Dom’s iPad that day as well. My heart raced a little with the second aftershock. My phone buzzed with notifications. I talked with my Dad on the phone. All well with them. The GroupMe messages went off one after another. I checked Twitter. I checked Facebook. Then I read a random woman’s post on Facebook. “This could actually be a foreshock for a bigger earthquake within the day. There’s a chance of a 7.0. If you live in an un-reinforced masonry home, you should get out to be safe.” I felt more aftershocks. Nathan had left. I don’t remember what Dom and Gabbi did that morning. My heart started racing. In the afternoon, we had a big aftershock. Nathan had finally come home because they closed down the schools and postponed handing out devices. We all sat together in Gabbi’s room. I was terrified. Dom, too.

That night, Dom slept on the couch in our bedroom. Gabbi was unphased and slept in her room. I tossed and turned the entire night. For five nights, I tried to sleep, but never got more than an hour at a time. I couldn’t eat. I couldn’t slow my heart rate down. I hardly focused for work. I managed to host our team’s first retrospective meeting. It went well. We were all connected from home. It was a good distraction. For a while. I kept reading about earthquakes and aftershocks and scaring myself. It was all the wrapped up feelings of anxiety I dealt with through high school and college. But I was an adult now. I knew how to take care of myself. I needed to snap out of it. And I couldn’t. All my usual outlets were taken away with the gyms closed, church shut down, soccer season postponed, restaurants switched to take out. I tried to focus on deep breathing. My heart stayed in my throat. Pounding and pounding. Was that another earthquake? Or is it my heart shaking the bed?

The earthquake was a 5.7 magnitude with the epicenter in Magna. Since then, we’ve had over 1,200 aftershocks, five of them a magnitude 4+. Today, I am doing well, but that week after the earthquake, I lost ten pounds from not being able to eat. The Monday after the quake, I called my midwife and left a message. They said they’d try to contact her. She wasn’t in the office until Tuesday. By the afternoon, I tried another way to get help. I got on Intermountain Connect’s app. I “waited” for the doc for over four hours. When I finally connected, it was a familiar face on the phone screen, Robin. Robin and I had known each other for about 15 years. She was a PA at the employee health clinic at ARUP. We had been there together for a decade. She was both my doctor there for visits, and my friend. We shared the same birthday, though years apart. We had stayed connected over social media, but hadn’t seen each other in about 5 years. She spent nearly an hour talking with me for the appointment. It wasn’t a quick fix. It didn’t lower my heart rate. It didn’t bring back my appetite. But it was a start. I picked up a prescription she sent in to help me sleep.

The next day, while out on a social distancing walk with my friend, Beth, my midwife called. We talked and discussed starting an SSRI. I hadn’t been on one since college (unless you count taking something briefly for post-partum after Dom’s birth, but I can’t remember what I had then). I picked up the prescription that day.

And then I blacked out the next day. In the morning, Nathan was making breakfast. The kids sat at the table and he set a plate down for me. I was sitting in the living room. I stood up to walk over to the table, but started seeing black squares. I grabbed for the piano to hold on and let the light headedness pass. Instead, I woke up on the floor, only remembering the sound of my head cracking on the ground. Dom was crying right above me. Nathan knelt over me, holding my hand. I had a goose egg on the back of my head. “I’m okay. I’m okay. I’m okay.” I kept saying. I slowly got up and explained that I was okay and only blacked out. It was fine. I got up too fast. I was fine. Dom, it’s okay. Yes, I’m fine.

Today, I am fine. And yet, last night, we had that big aftershock. They measured it a 4.17. It’s been weeks since the earthquake and almost that long since we had aftershocks big enough to feel them. It surprised and scared a lot of people, including my kids. I was out on a social distancing walk with my friend, Lynley. Nathan texted me.

“You doing okay?”

“Yep. Long walk.”

I figured he was just checking in because we’d been walking for almost two hours and it was just after 9:00 p.m. now.

“Did you feel the earthquake?”

“What?”

“I guess not.”

“Is Dom okay?”

“Just a little one. It was short. It shook the house for a second. Dom and Gabbi both started crying. Gabbi is fine but Dom is of course a little freaked out.”

I jogged home to help calm Dom. It happened the same day our governor announced the soft closure of the schools would continue through the end of the school year. All the way to June. Earthquakes and pandemics and bears, oh my.

Blessed to be like three women who raised me


Today is International Women’s Day. I was searching in a box for something from high school and didn’t find it. I did, however, find a piece of paper that is nearly 40 years old. This paper is the transcript of the blessing my father gave me when I was not quite two months old. A traditional baby blessing as a member of The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints is given by the father to an infant son or daughter for two reasons: to give the baby a name, and to give a blessing both spiritual and physical in nature. During the blessing he gave me, my father focused on three women from whom I could learn from their wisdom, counsel and example.

First, he talked about my maternal grandmother, Grandma DeeDee. Today, she is 101 years old, teaches my son piano lessons (plus 19 other students), and gardens when the weather agrees (which today it is snowing so it does not). Grandma was also my piano teacher for nearly 15 years. Throwing out a rough estimate, that’s over 300 hours spent together in lessons. Typically, these were early morning before school when Grandma would drive up to our house because there was no earthly way for me to drag my tired head down to her house at such an hour. So what did my dad say to his tiny baby girl about his mother-in-law during the blessing? Here are a two highlights:

  • learn from her “the ability to be an unremitting perfectionist, the capability to develop the taste for fine and beautiful things, the capability and the talent to become educated”
  • “…becoming well trained and educated is something for which [God is] pleased and something which we would encourage”

Second, he talked about my Grandma Campbell, we call her Grumma. I have many memories of time spent at her house and then condo, as she hosted so many family gatherings. We learned family history, dressed up from the costume drawer in a little bedroom, had Easter egg hunts in the backyard, swam in the pool at her condo, and gathered for Christmas lunches. From Grumma, my dad blessed me to learn how to:

  • “recognize the spiritual strength to raise a family by herself”
  • “recognize the complete and total dedication to children in setting aside all worldly things for the benefit of her family”
  • “know, somehow, spiritually, the kind of sacrifices associated with that kind of life”

Finally, he talked about my mother, who raised me and my six siblings to be hard-working, kind, and successful adults, parents, and spouses. She also did this while working and sharing her talent as a professional violinist. One of my favorite things is to sit at the piano and accompany her on the violin. From my mom, my dad blessed me, as a teeny tiny baby to:

  • “observe very carefully the intricate life of her mother for she blends together so many wonderful things”
  • “the ability to concentrate and specialize and perfect areas of her choosing”
  • “select other areas to become partly specialized, even good and well-rounded”
  • “find the ability to receive inspiration and even revelation from heaven and that her life might be so directed”

Those are some big dreams for an infant. Growing up with these three women, I was constantly around their examples of hard work, education, sacrifice, and humor. Grumma’s laugh is infectious. Grandma DeeDee is witty and wise. And Granmere (my mom) fills a room with hilarity when she has one of her giggle fits. You can still be silly even when you’re talented, professional and smart. That’s what I learned from all three. Lucky me to grow up with strong women.

#metoo, dating my hubby, and my #rootedlife


In case you forgot, this year I’m all about some Aztec philosophy. I’ve been teased by some neighbors about it. I don’t mind the teasing. Because I’m rooted, yo.

As a refresher, I recently learned about this philosophy, Neltiliztli, which I’ve hashtagged as living a #rootedlife this year. I even made a nifty little infographic. You’re welcome!

I don’t necessarily get up every morning and ask myself, “Hey, Larrie. How are you going to live more Aztecy today?”

But, I’ve been able to review the things I’ve done and see how they related to it. Recently, I read some of my writing for a fundraiser for the Rape Recovery Center. The night included 9 other women writers and the theme was, #metoo. Chad organized the night, for the January event by Voices Heard. Each month, he organizes a night with a group of writers where he shares some of his stuff and the other writers take their turns. There’s always a theme and the times I’ve done it in the past have been stretching, hilarious, touching, and unique. The #metoo night rang true to these emotions. As I reflected back on it, I tied it in to my #rootedlife. That night, the piece I read was a letter to myself, addressed to 18-year old Larrie. I shared bits and pieces of my last 20 years. I talked about making mistakes. I accepted them. I talked about how that created a worthwhile life, in a round about way. I talked about courage. I talked about my actions.

I also listened a lot that night. There were funny stories, hard stories about rape, uplifting stories that came out of rape, crass stories, and some poignant poems. This was the ixtlamatiliztli part of things where I heard practical experiences from these other women. This was also the tlaticpac part of the night where this slippery earth we’re traveling along is managed better when we journey together. It was a night that reiterated to me the strength in coming together, picking each other up when we fall, sharing the hard, sharing the poignant, and sharing the laughter. And doing it with people from all different backgrounds.

Also, Nathan came with me. It was a date night for us, a unique date night. Afterward, we went to snack on sugary things at Cheesecake Factory with two pals, Lynley and Todd. Isn’t it nice when you find good couple friends?

Having a different style of date night gives your relationship a little bit of a recharge. I recently learned this so I’m going to share. It’s from The Gottman Institute and they’ve got some research that shows that engaging in novel experiences as a couple impacts the brain’s reward system. “Such novel experiences release dopamine and norepinephrine, the same chemicals which are released during early romantic courtship.” Twitterpated!

So mix things up.

Also, we helped raise money for a nonprofit that’s doing some serious good.

All in all, it was a good night of living the rooted life.

A random list of my current open Chrome tabs


I just counted. I have 29 open Chrome tabs across my two monitors. I randomly chose ten of them and this is what I do online:

  1. My Gmail, of course
  2. Slack, where I do communication type things with my hubby
  3. The Great Work Study, because I think I’m going to take the time to read this and learn how to produce work that others LOVE
  4. A replacement key for a Toyota RAV4 2006, because they’re crazy expensive from the dealership and I have to pinch mine between my fingers to turn on the car or it comes apart
  5. Several Airtable tabs, because it’s a new part of my life and I’m so happy about it
  6. ERP applications under fire, because I read riveting articles about cybersecurity and business software so I can write nifty posts about it
  7. Your 7-day meal plan for RA, which stands for rheumatoid arthritis and I can’t always remember why I pull up what I do and leave the tab open and when I look at it later, my memory is foggy
  8. Columbus Travel Vacations, because it’s January and I would so rather be sailing away on a cruise, but I’m not, so I just look at the tab and bask in the glow of the monitor
  9. Hubspot stuff, because sometimes I read their things about the things that I might use and try to apply it to things I do for other businesses with their social media things
  10. Amazon.com and specifically buying TurboTax, because it’s that time of the year to begin putting together 1099s to mail out, yay!

Also, I have really random pictures littered throughout the folders of my computer. Let me share four of them with you. You’re welcome.

That time (ages ago) my little brother tried to drive my mom’s car but everything turned out okay in the end.

The snow and a Volvo: beauty.

The snowman I made for a snowman craft contest at work. It was baked modeling clay that I painted a wee bit.

This one time I was stepped on in a soccer game back in 2007 and documented it with a cell phone pic sitting in my cubicle at work.

And now, I shall log off.

Go close some of your tabs. They use so much memory!

My 2019 hashtag: #rootedlife


Neltiliztli is a word from the Aztecs and is their philosophy for living a worthwhile life. It means rootedness. It’s the reason I’ve chosen my 2019 hashtag, #rootedlife. I want to do things this year to live a more rooted life. First, a few paragraphs on last year’s hashtag and then, the scoop about what it means to live rooted, based on that Aztec word.

My hashtag for 2018 was #becausehappiness. Generally thinking, it felt like a pretty happy year, in spite of life (like unexpected household costs and auto repairs). But, my goal wasn’t to be happy all of the time. That’s unrealistic. Especially home with kids who stick a McDonald’s gift card in the Wii, cry during the night because they’re scared that their closet door is open a wee crack, or put a lot of effort into poking and prodding and irritating the other sibling as much as possible at those moments when I’m already spent because I just dealt with cat puke. #becausehappiness

Instead, my efforts were more along the lines of trying to live after a manner of happiness. (2 Nephi 5:27) I did my best and thus, I count it a good-enough year.

On to Neltiliztli!

I learned about this term reading an article called, “Life on the slippery Earth,” which went into great detail about this Aztec philosophy. Here’s my bullet list version for your enjoyment:

  • The term means rootedness
  • Living a rooted life means to manage your mistakes well, not try to avoid them
  • The reward is a promise of a worthwhile life
  • Focus on the virtues of moderation, justice, prudence and courage
  • To choose virtue means to follow the middle path, strike the mean (tlanepantla)
  • Our actions are virtuous when aptly expressed
  • Moral education is ongoing
  • Look to others for advice and listen most to practical experience (ixtlamatiliztli)

When we focus on the middle path and choosing virtue, our lives are worthwhile. Also, we need each other to travel safely along this “slippery earth” (tlaticpac). We aren’t perfect. Far from it. We slip up no matter our virtues. I like these sentences specifically from the article:

Wisdom in human affairs consists in the recognition that the best that we can do is to learn to stand with the help of others, to alter our circumstances for the better, and to clasp hands so that we can pull ourselves back up when we fall. This is the fundamental insight behind the social dimension of Aztec ethics. As challenging as it seems to ‘Western’ sensibilities, perhaps there’s enough that’s right about it to help us lead better, more worthwhile and rooted lives.

The Aztec’s philosophies differ from those of Western culture, as mentioned in that quote. These “sensibilities” referenced come from the words and thoughts of Plato and Aristotle. I studied these in several of my classes in college. I couldn’t possibly give you a good, brief summary right here. Instead, here’s one of the comparison’s from the article: “While Plato and Aristotle were concerned with character-centered virtue ethics, the Aztec approach is perhaps better described as socially-centered virtue ethics.”

As I read about the Aztec philosophies, they hit home. They tie in to my concern that my children will have others in their lives that they can turn to, like I did, when they don’t want to go to a parent.  It relates to my thoughts about “companion planting” in my life to supplement it with good people. And it ties in to how I turn to others to build me up, for my “health regeneration“.

This year, my hashtag is #rootedlife. Here’s my plan for learning to do this a little bit better this year:

  1. Love myself when I make a mistake, small or big (positive self-talk)
  2. Write some lists of what makes my life worthwhile (gratitude)
  3. Find moderation in work, sleep, diet, and self-care (seek balance)
  4. Be intentional about aptly expressing myself (show respect)
  5. Spend time on my moral education (study)
  6. Seek out others for advice (ask and listen)

I won’t attempt to focus on or do these all at once, but little by little, throughout the year. We’ll see how it goes!

Process-focused thinking and rambling thoughts about dating in Utah


I watched a YouTube vid yesterday about outcome-focused thinking versus process-focused thinking. I was watching it for some research for a writing assignment, but it related to other thoughts that have been swirling around in my head for the last week or so.

A little background on my thoughts…

A dear friend of mine sent me an email and in it, she mentioned her personal frustrations with dating and being single. She couldn’t pinpoint why they seemed to be more poignant and at the front of her mind recently, but she didn’t want them to crowd her thoughts and skew her focus away from things that were so good in her life.

She asked me how I “got through being single in a culture/environment that is predominantly married and places a lot of emphasis on being married.”

I live in Utah. The culture here is family focused and a lot of people marry at a young age.

When I finally married, I was 30 years old. I know. Crrrrazy old.

The focus of dating in this state is on getting married. There’s even specific advice that once you’ve reached a certain age, you should be going out on dates that are paired off, planned, and paid forIf you’re not dating with the intent of hunting down your eternal companion, you’re doing it wrong.

This brings me back to the video I watched. Dating with the target being to get married is an outcome-focused attitude. The video pointed out these two reasons that this thinking can hurt:

  1. You lose sight of the growth and progress along the way
  2. You neglect to create a strategic system or process that will lead to success

Those are the “two main problems”. Do they relate to dating?

For me, I would often beat myself up over being single, wondering, “What’s wrong with me that I’m alone?” I couldn’t step back and see all of the growth and progress I’d made as an individual in my life. Instead, I focused on the ways that I saw myself as broken: mental health, awkwardness, yellowish teeth, little boobs, too pale, too quiet, too somber, really bad at getting up in the mornings, etc. We’re really good at finding our own faults.

I didn’t focus on all that I had accomplished (college degrees, career, saving money, incredible relationships with friends and family, etc.), or the ways in which I had learned to find the best partner for me based on plenty of dating experience.

That’s the first point as I relate it to dating: worrying too much about still being single put my focus on the wrong thing.

As far the second point, and a “strategic system”, when I was focused on still being alone, I created a stormy cloud around me in regards to dating. Who wants to go out with a girl who isn’t having fun?

Bob Costas interviewed Michael Phelps in 2016 and asked him how he would feel if he only earned a silver medal in one of his races. His question, as you can guess, was focused on the outcome.

“How would you feel if you did not achieve your desired outcome?” he was basically asking.

Phelps said, “I know I could look back at how I prepared and I’d know that I did whatever I could do to prepare myself to be the best… I’m willing to accept whatever results I would get. I’d be ticked off, but I’d know, deep down inside that it was the best I could do that day.”

When you are working towards a goal, all you can control is putting in the work you need to do to achieve your goals and trust that if you’re putting in the hard work, it will pay off.

After years of dating, I learned to change my mindset and instead of focusing on why I wasn’t married, I tried to identify what mattered most to me: how could I feel fulfilled and satisfied in life in an area that is under my control?

I said yes to opportunities. I got to know a lot of new people. I focused on bettering existing relationships as well. My job mattered to me and I worked hard to be competent and do well.

And my values mattered to me. Terry Patten wrote, “Practice is about waking up again and again, choosing to show up in life in alignment with one’s highest intelligence.” That was hard for me, but each day I tried to do better at living my life according to my personal values: being honest, loving others, working hard, helping, being happy, and improving myself.

About a month before my 33rd birthday, my Aunt Natalie passed away from cancer. She never married although we talked often about how much she wanted, that she wanted to have a family, that she wanted companionship. At the funeral, it was the first time I realized her impact on each of her nieces and nephews. My cousins all felt like Nat had been their biggest fan, devoting time and love into their relationship.

She never got her marriage outcome, but the way she lived her life showed me how to focus on the process instead. I knew what motivated her. We spent time together, talking about how to define that and put it into action in how we lived. She was a favorite life coach of mine.

She lived her core values everyday. She brought joy to the people around her. She did this through music, through her smile, and through her genuine emotions. I could be real and raw with her and she was the same with me.

If I was feeling down, I could simply spend time around Natalie and feel her infectious happiness. And she did all this even while struggling with depression her entire life. At Christmas time, I miss her.

Ten Years Titanium: A Medical Memoir


My titanium toe and I have been in a relationship for ten years. The internets tell me you celebrate ten years with gifts of tin or aluminum. They’re both so quaint compared with titanium.

Ten years ago, on this day, I watched my titanium toe surgery. It was pretty incredible (understatement). It briefly reminded me of watching an open heart surgery while hangin’ with one of my besties, Lacy, at her home in Idaho. Except we watched on TV. Not the same as watching in person. And it wasn’t all dramatized nor did it include scenes of doctors running into closets with interns for sexual side stories like Grey’s Anatomy (not that I would know!). We were teenagers anyway. Grey’s wasn’t due to hit the airwaves for many years still.

December 4, 2008, I walked to the surgical center. It wasn’t far from my work, up in Research Park. My mom was going to give me a ride to her house after it was done so I could stay overnight there and then return to my condo the next day.

At the center, I checked in, they gave me a bag to put my clothes and purse in, left me to change into some wispy little outfit with strings attached, and said they’d be back shortly with the orthopedic surgeon and anesthesiologist. They were both intriguing men with big personalities. The anesthesiologist (it’s a PAIN to type that word) asked me whether I’d been under before and if I had known allergies. I asked him if I couldn’t stay awake for it.

“You’d rather do a local?” he asked.

“If I could,” I said.

“That would be less risky.”

“And do you have to use Versed, too?”

He didn’t answer that question, but wheeled me into another room to use an ultrasound on my leg and find the exact nerve to stab with a needle and inject local anesthesia. That hurt! But before long, my right leg was numb and I was off to surgery.

They did use Versed. And apparently, I asked about it in the operating room. I asked if the anesthesiologist could stop because I really was going to be fine and wouldn’t freak out and wanted to remember this!

“Okay,” he said.

My brain was less foggy and a surgical tech swung a flat-screen TV around where I could see it while lying on the table. I did, again, watch a surgery on TV, but it was all zoomed in on my toe, far better than trying to watch from my pillow behind the surgical drape.

Here are a few of the random details that went down during that surgery:

  1. I asked them if they could pull the TV a little bit closer because “you guys made me take out my contacts.”
  2. The doctor asked me if I’d ever taken tetracycline because my bones had a yellow tint to them. I’d taken minocycline. “It’s a good thing your teeth aren’t yellow,” he said.
  3. There was a guy from the medical device company there. He was giving the doctor directions on how to clip the titanium pieces together in my toe. I told him my brother had worked for Zimmer, another medical device company. He said, cool. Or something.
  4. I watched them drill holes in my bones, suction out the blood, and insert the two pieces.
  5. The doctor had a hard time lining up the “male” piece to the “female” piece and clicking the two together.
  6. Orthopedic surgery is not delicate.
  7. The doc told me he would email me a picture of my toe cut open. He did, about a week later. (It’s at the very bottom of this post if you’re not squeamish.)

When the surgery finished, they wheeled me out to recovery where the nurse walked in and jumped in surprise.

“You’re awake,” she said.

“They didn’t put me under,” I said. “I’m so hungry. Where’s my stuff?”

“I have some water for you to sip. There’s your stuff.”

She pointed to a big, white, plastic “Patient” bag with my clothes, purse and phone inside. I pulled out my purse and several pieces of chocolate which I ate while sipping the tiny cup of water.

“What time is it?” I asked. She pointed to the clock. The surgery had gone much faster than they’d told me to plan on. My mom wasn’t coming for over an hour. I pulled out my phone and called her. She couldn’t make it yet, but could find somebody. Eventually, my sister-in-law, Tracy, came and picked me up, took me to my parents’, and helped me hop up the two flights of stairs to my parents’ bedroom. I took a nap.

My toe woke me up from my nap. My entire foot woke me up. So. Much. Pain. Toes are rude that way. I called for help. Eventually, my 18-year old brother came in with a couple of his high school buddies. I was sweaty and grimacing. I told them my toe was killing me. He looked at my foot, elevated and wrapped up on the bed. I asked him for a Priesthood blessing. He had been 18 for just over a month.

“I’ve never done one before,” he said. I looked at his friends. They all shrugged. Then, they called their dads to ask for instructions. They gave me a blessing and during it, the pain went from searing to tingling and I took a deep breath.

For ten years, titanium and I have been together. My toe still hurts at times and most days, it’s a little swollen.

One last thing: during the surgery, I told them the pillow was really comfortable so the anesthesiologist included it in my “Patient” bag. I still have it. It’s this polyfoam pillow. So cool, right?

 


Monday musings on why I don’t blog


Either I think too much or expect too much to post blogs these days. I want to say profound things. To post meaningful content. Or maybe I’m without keywords to focus on. That’s the fault of doing work that’s search engine optimized (SEO). When I write for those, I keep a tally of the number of times I use the keyword, using it enough, but not so much that it’s flagged as spam, among other rules.

I’ve forgotten how to blog for enjoyment.

Also, my life feels rote. I feed my family, take kids to school, go to the gym, have some set hours for work, and take kids to a few activities like piano and dance. Who wants to hear about that?

These are some of my enjoyments these last few weeks:

  • Creating database tables in Airtable for Opus 26
  • Putting together process improvement tools for Flagship Publishing
  • Interviewing a master chef at UVU
  • Watching my son do gymnastics
  • Listening to him learn to read music
  • Watching my daughter at her swimming lessons
  • Late night conversations about the intricacies of our lives with my husband
  • Game night with friends
  • The soothing balm that is my writers’ group
  • The connections of family
  • Jesus
  • Listing good things

Random lists are good enough.

And now I’ve blogged.

A list for this day in October


  1. I told a bunch of writers at a conference that they should still blog because practice is good.
  2. I don’t blog lately because all my writing energy goes to other people.
  3. Sometimes that’s good, sometimes it’s draining.
  4. At that writing conference, I taught one of the classes and it was a blast!
  5. I received an email today that this same presentation wasn’t chosen to be on the schedule for another writing conference. (hang head)
  6. I have my writers’ group tomorrow night.
  7. I love my writers group.
  8. I spent FIVE hours raking leaves today so I damn well expect to sleep soundly.
  9. I will probably toss and turn.
  10. The giant tree in the backyard has only dropped half of its leaves… bring it on.

Last thought, but I didn’t number it because 10 is a safe number to end on: this year, I learned about something called #inktober and I’ve been doing it a little here and there; I want to do it every year because I don’t doodle very often and because practice is good!