Sunday, February 19, 2017

Training for #8

I have a small, brightly coloured Mead notebook that I keep around the house. If you peek inside, you will see (in my neat "teacher" printing) items such as:
  • Maintain weight. Protein!
  • Sleep goal: 8 hours a night
  • Meditation goal: 3 times a day
  • Gym 2-3 times a week: range of motion, stretching, upper body strength, core stability
  • Water exercise 2 times a week: range of motion, increase heart rate, stretch
  • Ice and heat for pain

At first glance, you might assume that I am training for something - perhaps a marathon or race of some sort. I guess I am in training, but not for something that most people train for. I am in training for my 8th knee surgery which takes place next week in Philadelphia.

Time to overhead squat the crutches!
I don't think that the majority of the population undergo regular surgeries once or twice a year like I do. On the other hand, I am aware of the fact that some are withstanding much more serious and life-threatening procedures than mine. But I would assume that most people go into surgery having no idea what to expect - there are so many unknowns. What happens before I fall asleep? Will I wake up? How will I feel when I wake up? Although each experience is different for me, I have 7 past surgeries to reflect upon - each experience has had its positives and each experience definitely has had its challenges. So I'm doing what any type-A control freak would do: I am using my past experiences to train and prepare for this surgery as best as I can so that I am in a position to succeed. But...and this is a huge but that I have spent hours discussing and analyzing with my Pain Psychologist:  I am prepared for the fact that obstacles will arise that I cannot control... and that is OK. (Haha, my $100/hr sessions are paying off!)

I hear friends saying, "You are so brave," but I don't necessarily feel brave. I feel like I am just living my life as best as I can with this shitty disease. To be honest, I am scared. As prepared as I am for this surgery and as strong as I presently feel physically and mentally, I am still fearful. Some of my fears are rational. I am afraid of the 10/10 pain that consistently hits me 2-3 hours post surgery. That pain is scary and, despite undergoing 7 surgeries, no Anesthetist, Surgeon, or Nurse has yet to determine how to control that pain for me during that period of time. I am also afraid of drug interactions. I've had a few bad ones that have caused me to shake and twitch uncontrollably. Kinda terrifying.

Some of my fears, however, are irrational. I had a nightmare that my surgery was on a Carnival Cruise Ship. My Ortho greeted me in a Captain's hat and said, "Welcome aboard, what joint are we doing today?" Perhaps you recall my post about our disastrous cruise on the "unfun" ship? Another irrational fear is the fear that my Anesthetist will have an "off" day and miscalculate my anesthetic, placing me into a lifelong coma (I mean, haven't you ever been daydreaming when you go to make minute rice and mistakingly add 2 cups of water instead of the prescribed 2/3 Cup of water? Does this ever happen to Anesthetists in the operating room??)

Ev and I head to Philadelphia on Wednesday, I meet with my Surgeon on Thursday - the brilliant cartilage man who is much too joyful when he delivers bad news - and I undergo surgery on Friday. This surgery is another "clean-up" operation to prepare my knee for upcoming cartilage implantation surgery. My Mom is meeting us there (my mom and Evan are a huge part of my successful recovery plan - thanks Team!) and we will spend a week in Philadelphia before we all fly back to the island for my rehabilitation. It sounds so simple when I write it all down! I am fully aware that the next month will test me, but I feel confident that I have a solid plan in place.

Note the stupid smile. Can you say "high as a kite?"

Stupid smile again! I am obviously drugged and think that I am going to the spa for a facial. 

In the meantime, Ev and I have been partaking in some fantastic island activities in an effort to relax and distract. Last night we did the Bioluminescence tour, which entails paddling a kayak to a bay at night where glowing plankton reside. It was a beautiful star-filled night sky and the ocean glowed liked tiny diamonds when you ran your paddle through the water (kinda like the scene in Life of Pi!) Today I have a pedicure at the swanky new Kimpton Hotel Spa (I will opt for a soothing toe hue to ensure that my Anesthetist is NOT distracted) :)

This week I have felt incredibly grateful that I live in such a beautiful place that promotes relaxation and serenity. I am also grateful for wine.

Cheers Friends!

Photo cred to Cayman Kayaks

Sunday, February 5, 2017

And the Rest Is History

It was September something 1996 and I was flipping my hot rolled curls, anxiously awaiting for the new student to arrive to our grade 12 Social Studies Class. He was rumoured to be a Prince Albert Raider. The Prince Albert Raiders were junior hockey players imported from exotic locales such as Moose Jaw, Saskatchewan and Lloydminster, Alberta to play hockey in the Western Hockey League (WHL). In a small-ish city of 30,000 people, the arrival of a new boy from a different city was exciting news in my little egocentric teenage world.

I straightened my Shania Twain "Any Man of Mine" denim vest, sucked in, and turned as the classroom door opened.

"Evan Lindsay! Glad you could join us today," remarked Mr. T,  our sarcastic (and possibly drunk) Social Studies Teacher.

A tall, skinny, sullen-looking teenaged boy with a mop of curly ginger hair entered the room. As I examined his baggy jeans and Air Walk sneakers my first impression was that the new boy looked more like a skater than a polished imported WHL hockey player.

Likely re-calculating his save percentage

I didn't really get to know Evan until December of that year. He was quiet and often appeared a bit resentful about being traded to the Raiders. As I desperately attempted to climb the popularity ladder, Evan Lindsay appeared to care less about his high school social status and more about his goals against average. He intrigued me. He didn't seem to mind being alone (in high school? Gasp!), he didn't have a locker in the "square" with his teammates, and although he attended team parties, he always hung back quietly observing his surroundings. Evan Lindsay was different.

One night at a Christmas party, Evan and I seemed to hit it off. Spending most of the night seated on the floor next to each other, we laughed for hours, mocking the drunks as the party spiralled out of control. Reflecting on my relationship knowledge, all gathered from the teenage relationship bible,  "YM Magazine," I made the executive decision to play hard to get and wandered away from Evan to talk to some other boys. Evan did not follow me, and in fact, left the party soon after without saying goodbye. Undoubtably, according to YM Magazine's relationship quiz, "Does he like you?,"  this was a sure sign that we were "in the friend zone." Sigh. Now I knew.

Despite YM's sound advice, I continued to have a sneaking suspicion that Evan Lindsay liked me. In Social Studies class, he often casually walked by my desk, dropping a handful Mike 'n Ike candies in front of me. Occasionally, as a special surprise, he would tear a Mike 'N Ike in half and fuse it with another flavour. C'mon, people. That's gotta be flirtation? Something hot was brewing.

I met up again with Evan after Christmas at a house gathering. He immediately approached me and we picked up right where we left off, laughing and joking easily with each other. I was confused. It seemed as though he was interested, but my test had blatantly indicated zero romantic potential. So I did what any intelligent 17 year old girl would do, I delivered Evan another relationship "test."

I headed to the kitchen and reached up for the hot chocolate on the top shelf.  I beckoned (in my best sultry tone), "Evan, can you help me reach the hot chocolate. It's too high."

YM Magazine specified that if the boy reached around and touched you while he was retrieving the object, this gesture indicated that you had succeeded in "catching your crush."Obviously.

"Sure. Move."

Evan (very unromantically) bumped me out of the way and retrieved the hot chocolate.

Damn. According to YM Magazine, Evan and I had zero chance of being the next "it couple."

Despite the failed tests, I still felt chemistry with this tall skinny goalie, and given the fact that I talked about Evan all the time, my friends had begun to suspect that I had a crush on him. One day after school, as I sat on my best friend's bed discussing Evan's hilarious comment in class that day, my bestie shouted, "You like him! You totally like him!"

"No way. We're just friends. Seriously."

Without blinking an eye, Janna picked up her super cool see through phone and dialled Evan's phone number. When Evan answered the phone, Janna threw the receiver at me. Unprepared for a mature conversation, I squealed loudly and frantically hung up the phone. Epic fail.

A few weeks later we found ourselves at another party together. As soon as I entered the room, one of Evan's teammates approached me and said, "Evan Lindsay has been asking where you are."
My stomach fluttered excitedly. Evan Lindsay was asking about me? Perhaps he WAS interested? I decided to forgo all my YM relationship knowledge and just be "me" for the night.

As soon as I saw Ev that night, I knew that something had changed. We made small talk for a few minutes with stupid teenager, "I like you" smirks on our faces and then it happened. He asked me out on a date!

Three days later, on February 3, 1997, Evan and I stiffly sat side-by-side at the Cinema IV theatre in Prince Albert. "Star Wars" was being shown, but I don't recall processing one second of that movie. I was focused solely on Evan's hand, which moved closer and closer to mine, only to retreat a few seconds later. Evan never did get up the courage to hold my hand during that two hour movie. But I knew that he wanted to.

On the way back from the movie, in Evan's silver 1986 Mazda 626, we chatted easily about school and hockey. I was surprised when Evan rolled down his window and the -25 degree winter air shocked our faces.

"It's kinda hot in here," stated Ev calmly. I only found out years later that he had farted, and was desperately trying to mask the smell. Romance at its finest.

That night Evan walked me to the door of my mom's house and stood in the foyer grinning madly. Awkward silence ensued for what seemed like hours until I finally decided to break every YM relationship rule and stated, "I really want to kiss you."

And so we kissed. You know how some teenage kisses (and first kisses) are really bad? There can be tongues and teeth and uncoordinated nose placement in those early years when you are attempting to solve the mysteries of lip locking. Well my kiss with Evan was awesome. It was just a really great kiss with a boy whom I really liked. As we reluctantly pulled away and said goodbye, I knew that I had already developed real feelings for this sullen teenage boy with curly ginger hair. Although I kept it a secret for an entire month (Gasp!), I was in love.

Even though it was immediately apparent to me that Evan and I  shared a special connection, I did not imagine that his lips would be the lips that I would kiss for the next 20+ years. (So screw you, YM Magazine!)

Cheers to 20 years of ups, downs, highs, lows, tears, laughter, and joy. What a ride!

"As soon as I saw you I knew that an adventure was going to happen."
- Winnie The Pooh
Another pivotal kiss in our relationship!

Our first picture together. No awkwardness here.

First summer as a "couple"

One of us has always tanned easier than the other ;)

Teaching Ev how to two-step. It was short-lived.

Another awkward couple photo

Grade 12 Graduation. Ev slicked back the curls for the occasion.