Screw You, Justin Timberlake!

Throughout my life I have successfully managed to not become a Justin Timberlake fan.  Sometimes it was difficult, but I persisted in my determination.  When NSync first came out and were mega-popular, I was safe in my wannabe punk phase.  Yeah, no thanks NSync and JT with your curly hair, I’m crushing on Tim Armstrong in all his Rancidy, tattooey hotness!  When JT and Britney broke up I was Team Brit, #obviously.  I learned all about Girl Power from the Spice Girls (OK, so maybe I wasn’t super secure in my punk phase) and sided with her, of course!   There were some times when I was tempted to become a Timbergroupie.  Some of the movies he did were pretty funny.  I mean, he was in Shrek the Third.  (I realize that I keep losing punkness with each line I type.)  You’d have to have no soul to not appreciate the acting in the Shrek franchise.  And the skits on SNL.  D*%k in a Box?!  So, maybe he’s not terrible, but I’m still too cool to say that I’m a fan of his.  I was trying to remain steadfast in my non-boy-band-groupie status.  Or former boy band status.  He brought sexy back (or so he claimed) and I was able to snicker that sexy never left and who the heck did this guy think he was.  My friends would laugh.  [Confession: I somehow know all the words to the song so *maybe* I listened to it once or twice secretly and ashamedly.]  And when he started dating Jessica Biel, I realized I hated him more because she is so cool and so beautiful and this former boy-bander is going to ruin her!  I went to high school with a girl who played soccer with Ms. Biel and would actually say how cool she was.  (I definitely did not watch 7th Heaven, though I think that was because it conflicted with a show I did watch- Maybe Gilmore Girls? I don’t recall- and [insert old person voice here] back in my day we didn’t have DVR.  We made the tough choices of choosing one show over another and being loyal!)  But I still thought she was too cool for him.  And then they got married and maybe he isn’t that bad if she’s sticking it out with him.  And more SNL skits came out which I had to admit were funny.  “Give it on up to Homelessville!” So eventually I became more neutral about him.  But, I refused to be on the bandwagon.

Cut to last week.  And I bought a pair of jeans without looking at the label.  And now I have to admit that my biggest fear has come true: I am a Justin Timberlake fan!  Isn’t that terrible?  Decades of avoiding it, but it happened anyway.  But William Rast (his label for those of you who are less JT-ey than I am) has created a stupidly dumb (read: awesome) product.  I love cute jeans.  But, in my constantly seated life, they’re usually lost on me.  Most designers focus on making butts look good and putting detailing on the pockets.  That does me about negative 17% good.  So when I saw these jeans on line with the narrow ankle that wouldn’t make my paralyzed legs look awful and detailing on the side of the leg I was eager.  When I tried them on, they had the perfect amount of stretch to fit nicely on my awkward body.  And they weren’t low rise.  I like to actually pull my pants up and not have perma-plumbers-crack since I’m always sitting.

I got a million and three compliments on them when I wore them over the weekend.

So screw you, Justin Timberlake and your glorious William Rast brand.  I’m now a self-proclaimed Timberlaker.

Fear, fear, go away

I’m not sure if I’ve admitted this on here before but I have a confession: I used to be afraid of my kid.  Before the Little Mister was born, I was wrapped up in how exciting it was going to be to have a kid.  I pictured all the fun adventures we would go on.  I pictured having a little mini-me who would play games and laugh at my jokes.  I pictured the little guy who I’d get to dress in super cute clothes and who would justify my Ninja Turtle obsession.  Life was going to be good with the little dude.

And then, after our long journey, he was here.  Before I knew it, this slimey little guy was in my arms and I didn’t know what to do.  I’d barely ever held a baby before that moment.  And now, in a matter of seconds, the nurses took this kid and put him in my arms and said “Congratulations” before packing it up and leaving the room.  OK, it wasn’t quite like that, but it felt like that.  After all the waiting, he was in my arms and I was now responsible for a human life.

I had no idea the amount of love I would feel for this dude the instant he was born.  Or the amount of fear.  When we got home from the hospital the hubs was only home for a few days before he went back to work.  And then it was just me and him for a large part of the day.  We had (still have) an awesome nanny who helped in the mornings.  She helped take care of him, did his laundry, changed his bed, did so much every day.  But then in the afternoons, it was me and the Little Mister.  And that scared the living daylights out of me. I wanted to do as much as possible with him because I wanted him to get used to having a mom in a wheelchair.  That was hard, of course.  I had all the normal concerns of a new mom, but also a few extras which apply to mom’s with mobility disabilities: holding him while moving being a main one.

There are several things which would hurt my feelings.  When he was real young, he liked to be held while a person was standing when he was crying.  That obviously couldn’t happen with me.  It broke my heart when I couldn’t get him to stop crying and his dad, nanny or grandma would grab him and walk around and he was suddenly content.  Or, sometimes when I was home alone with him and I had to transfer from my wheelchair to the sofa, and I set him down on the sofa to wait while I transferred and he would just look at me and cry like I was abandoning.  I tried to explain to him that I can’t hold him and just stand up like other people can.  But he was stubborn a baby and didn’t understand.  He just felt severe separation anxiety in that 45 seconds of being alone.

It got to the point where I was literally scared to be home alone with him.  It was hard.  It was exhausting.  It was emotionally draining.

But then things began to change.  As he got older, he started to understand a little more.  I would wake him up from his nap and bring him out to the family room for a post-nap drink and snack.  I would put him down in the chair so I could transfer.  Until about 14 or 15 months he would cry when I set him down.  But then, I started making a game of it.  And after a few times of “throwing him” into the chair (I would lift him in a high arc from my lap to the chair and make a falling sound) he thought it was hilarious.  No more tears.  And now that he’s walking, I can put him on the ground where he waits by the chair for me to transfer.  After I transfer into a chair in the family room, he raises his arms for me to pick him up because he knows it’s milk and snack time on my lap.  No more tears [from either of us].

He’s also gotten so good at going out in public with me.  I was so scared to go places alone with him.  It’s easy to drown in the “what ifs”.  What if he won’t sit still?  What if he has a diaper accident and there’s not an accessible bathroom?  What if people look at us funny?  But I guess you can’t really give in to all the doubt and fear.  Today, Little Mister and I had an awesome adventure.  We had an entire morning to ourselves as his nanny had the day off and the Hubs was in meetings.  So Little Mister and I went to Hobby Lobby where we spent an hour just looking at everything.  He was loving the bead aisle, with all the colorful, shiny things to look at and different textures to feel.  Then we went to the mall where he played in the soft foam play area.  His idea of playing in public is often just standing there watching all the other kids run around.  He’s a people watcher, like his mama.  When he was done, he walked to the exit and tried to leave.  I tried to usher him back in several times, but he was done.  He sits on my lap so nicely that I didn’t even wrap him while we rolled around the store.  It wasn’t until we were exiting to the parking lot that I tied him back to me.

I don’t think there will ever be a time that parenting from a chair will be easy for me.  I think the obstacles will just change.  But I am learning that he and I will both adapt.  We are learning how to get through this all together.  I’m just so lucky that Little Mister is such a great kid and so willing to learn.  He’s too young to really get it yet.  He just knows that I’m his mama and this is our normal.  And I’m glad that I don’t let the fear overwhelm me.  Because he is my mini-me who loves to play games and laughs at my jokes.  And I’m glad because we had such a fun adventure today and I look forward to all the fun mom-son adventures to come!

Trainers are evil

I had a major revelation today when I was at the gym: trainers are really evil.  OK, I’ll walk you through my revelation.

  1. Most people have jobs that make other people’s life easier.  I’m an attorney.  My job is to help people figure out their legal troubles and fix problems for them.  I’m a fixer.  My brother is an accountant.  He job is to help people understand the million page tax code.  The hubs is a teacher.  He’s there to help kids understand Theatre and Woodshop in school.  Chefs make eating easier by cooking for you.  Mechanics make driving easier by fixing your car so you don’t have to.  Doctors fix your medical problems so you have a happier, healthier life.  All these jobs have that thread of commonality between them.
  2. Trainers go through their own programs to learn the body: how it works, how the muscles move and react, how it all goes together.  They learn (mine at least did- not sure if it’s true of all, but I’m assuming it is) nutrition and how foods can boost your power, strength and energy.  They are well versed in how to help people lose weight and get in shape.
  3. Trainers then use their knowledge to make you hurt.  They take something that starts easy and make it harder.  Oh, you can lift that weight?  Give me 20 more at a heavier weight. They are pleased when you are hurting.  They yearn for you to sweat, groan, collapse in sheer agony.  They’re not happy when you’re doing well.  They try to make you suffer and aren’t satisfied until you do.  They’re job is literally to make things harder for you.

And that, my dear friends, proves my point.  Trainers are evil.

Setbacks Suck!

I never pictured myself as a person who would be emotional and upset when not able to go to the gym.  But, as I sat in the office at the gym this morning freezing my account for a month and crying to Ninja Trainer about how scared I am to lose all the progress that I made, I realize how much working out had become a part of me.  I’ve been putting so much effort into training.  And getting stronger.  And making progress.  I’m proud of all the work I have put into getting stronger.  I’m proud of pushing myself and seeing strength in my legs that I had thought were betraying me.  I’m proud when I sometimes catch a glance of my shoulders in the mirror and see how they’re getting defined.  I’m proud when one of the trainers tells me that I put in good work.

But I pushed myself last week when I knew better.  My back started to hurt really bad, but I pushed that aside and kept going.  And since then, I’ve been paying the price.  My neurosurgeon called me into his office for an emergency MRI.  Luckily he said there’s nothing in my spine which made him feel the need to cut me open.  So, in that sense I feel overwhelmingly relieved.  But, he also said that I sprained my spine and no working out for a month.  If I start to feel better, then I can go back earlier.  So I am going to start at the pool next week and try to loosen things up in a safe manner.  And while that is nice, I’m so worried about losing everything that I’ve made.  And I’m worried that if I do get back to the gym that I will lose the motivation which I’ve built up.  I know that I need to rest my back.  And I know I should be super relieved that I didn’t do more damage and that I don’t need to get cut open.  But I’m going to be sad for a minute and acknowledge the fact that setbacks suck.

Shut In

I’m a shut in today.  Not by choice.  Forced.  Whatever the opposite of kidnapped is, that’s what I am. Forced to stay at home until 7am tomorrow.  Here’s why:

Right before the end of the year, the management company for my HOA sent a letter with a map showing the repaving of the streets in my housing community.  During the day that the street is being slurry sealed, you can’t drive on it and have to walk along the gutter to where you can park your car.  My street was not on it.  I emailed Ed, the man whose email address was on the notice and basically said “Hey, my street isn’t on there, but I’m assuming it’s coming up.  What happens to someone in my situation who is in a wheelchair and can’t get to a different area where cars are parked?”  I sent the email on December 22.  He responded at 5:45pm on the January 6 (over two weeks later!) and said my street had been inadvertently left off the map and that we were scheduled for the following Wednesday, January 11.  As to what a person in my situation would do, this was his response:

“My suggestion would be to stay at home for the 24 hour period that day, or  arrange to stay with a friend (or neighbor not being slurry coated) if you need to leave the community the day of the work.”

Can you imagine if someone told you that you could just stay home for 24 hours or go stay with a friend?  My response was that perhaps if he were a paraplegic he could just randomly stay at home, but that I had a hearing in court on that day and could not miss it.  And, let me explain what it would take for me to go “stay with a friend”.  First, I’d have to find a friend whose house I could get into.  Then, I’d have to make sure they had a place for me to sleep that was accessible.  Showering?  Well either skip it or pack along my shower bench and a hand held shower head that would have to be attached.  Oh, then there’s my kid that I’d have to pack up and bring with me along with all of his stuff (you know, like a crib).  I’m an adult, not a frat boy.  It’s not especially easy for me to “stay with a friend”.  I may have also mentioned to him that I don’t think it’s legal to tell me that I’m trapped in my house in a few days.

Well, it happened that it rained on the 11th, so they had to reschedule.  This was the email I received from him:

“I understand the inconvenience involved and fortunately today the vendor requested to reschedule the project due to the rain.   We are moving the slurry project forward to Feb. 1st, 2nd and 3rd.   You will receive the updated email notice and maps  following this email.   I trust this will give you adequate time to arrange your schedule to accommodate the project.”

Do you, Ed?  Do you understand the inconvenience?  Because until someone tells you that for 24 hours you are a prisoner in your home, you will not understand.  And, I hope you never do have to know what it feels like to have someone callously tell you that you can have adequate time to arrange your schedule to be trapped at home.

I was in court this week because I am taking a case to trial.  I had to tell my client, the DA and the judge that I had to miss court today because I’m trapped in my house.  The judge was dumbfounded at this!  I also had to explain how staying in a hotel wasn’t especially feasible due to my baby.  It’s just a huge mess.

So here I am, stuck at home for the day.  I love my house, so it’s not a bad place to be stuck.  But, it’s the principle that Ed from Prime Association Services can treat someone so callously.  He should really be ashamed of himself!

So if anyone needs me today, well, there’s not much I can do about it since I am a shut in for the next 21 hours.

 

3 year anniversary

Isn’t it weird how a day that is so important to one person can mean absolutely nothing to others?  Yesterday was the three year anniversary of my paralysis.  It’s so weird that the world kept turning.  People kept living their lives.  People didn’t stop what they’re doing to mourn with me.  August 13 (both yesterday and 3 years ago) was just a normal day to so many people.  And for me, it was an emotional roller coaster.

Facebook reminded me that 3 years ago I was optimistic going in.  “Here goes nothing” was my status as I checked in at Cedars Sinai on Facebook at 4:30am that morning.  It was a Tuesday.  A few days prior to that my status had been something about how I couldn’t believe I was having another surgery and how I was hoping I wouldn’t be in the hospital too long.  Hey FB, thanks for reminding me how naive I was about it all.  Normally I go in to things very scared and nervous.  This time I was the picture of optimism.  I was in bad shape at that time and had been barely able to walk.  I was falling all the time.  I couldn’t wait to be fixed.

I wasn’t sure how I was going to feel yesterday.  Year 1 wasn’t a bad anniversary.  I was still optimistic.  Year 2 was a harder anniversary because the paralysis was now permanent and my hope at walking was pretty much gone.  Paralysis was my reality.  This year I figured it wouldn’t be that hard.  I was wrong.

It hit me a day early this year as I thought about how August 12 3 years ago was the last time I’d walked. Like, really walked.  Without braces.  What would I have done differently if I had known that?  I would have for sure rode my bike one more time.  And I probably would have had a dance party.  (Chair dancing is not the same.)  Maybe reached for something from a top shelf of a cabinet?  (OK, I really couldn’t have reached the top shelf then either.  But, I would have reached at least midway in the top cabinets.)  I probably would have done some squats and this butt workout I was super into at the time.  Hell, I would have looked in the mirror at my backside once last time since I wouldn’t really be seeing it anymore.  That’s all stuff I thought about on the 12th this year.  Yeah, I cried several times.

Yesterday was hard.  Don’t get me wrong: life in a wheelchair isn’t terrible for me.  I love my life.  But do I miss my old life?  Of course!  I tried to not cry in the morning.  I went to the gym and had a session with Ninja Trainer.  My normal trainer, GunShow, is out on medical leave and wasn’t around to give me hell.  That’s probably a good thing cause I would have for sure cried if he were around.  I managed to sweat it out and leave the gym without falling apart.  On the way home I cried.  The hubs and I had a nice lunch (read: McDonalds) before heading to Los Angeles for my niece’s 4th birthday party.  I managed to not cry then and keep it together, though he knew I was upset.  He didn’t pry.

It’s funny that no matter how tough I try to be, no matter how composed I am, my mom just has to look at me or answer the phone when I call, and I turn into a blubbering mess.  We parked at my sister’s house and the hubs got my wheelchair out of the car.  My mom came out to see if we needed help.  She came up to me and gave me a hug and I just lost it.  We played a game of  “What’s wrong?” “Nothing.” “What’s wrong?” “Nothing.” “Seriously, what’s the matter?” “Nothing.” before I just said “It’s the 13th.”  She just hugged me and let me cry for a few seconds before telling me to suck it up, buttercup.  (OK, she didn’t really say that, but it was implied.)  I didn’t really need to talk.  What is there that needs to be said about it?  I just needed to be hugged and told that it’s OK to be bummed for a minute.

Praise the Lord for sunny days and sunglasses, because I wiped my eyes, put back on my sunglasses and went into a princess party.  I managed to make all the pleasantries and not bring attention to myself during the party.  I almost lost it once when the sweetest little two year old girl came over to me, grabbed my hand, and said “come play in the playhouse with me.” She was referring to a camper my sister has which the kids were playing in.  It’s up a couple steps.  While looking into her sweet little brown eyes I had to tell her that I couldn’t.  That almost made me sink into a pity party.  (Luckily I wasn’t dead to her because of that rejection and she went and got some bubbles and came back to play with bubbles with us a bit later.)

All in all, I managed to not give in to the pity and cry too much.  Don’t get me wrong: crying isn’t bad.  It’s healthy.  And I’m emotional.  I cry a lot.  But, I don’t want to be overly bummed about everything because there is a lot of positive.  This year I am in such a good place:  I’m working out and getting strong.  I’m able to be a really good mom to the Little Mister.  He always has a place to sit when he’s with me, which is a huge plus.  I’m a great wife to the hubs, though he probably wishes I cooked a bit more.  But, I have promised more meatloaf this winter which will make him happy.  I’m a great lawyer and help a lot of people.  I’m a great friend.  I’m a great sister.  I’m probably not the best niece because I often take too long to respond to my aunt’s emails (but I’m working on it) and I argue a lot about political stuff with my uncle.  But I’m still loved by them.  I’m really great for the national economy because I love to shop (you’re welcome Amazon and Target stock holders).  TMI alert- feel free to ignore the bracketed portion. [I am so lucky to have bladder control, which many people in my position don’t have.]

So all-in-all life is really good.  I gave myself a couple days to give in to the bummed out feelings.  And now I’m back to appreciating what I do have.  I think that crying and mourning is a good thing to do, as long as you don’t give in to it permanently.  I’ve always been a strong person, but I’m stronger now for what I have gone through.  That’s helped make me who I am today.  And I appreciate that because I really like who I am now.

 

Dear People Who Design Public Restrooms

Dear People Who Design Public Restrooms:

Please stop trying to overly modernize public restroom. I understand that the growing trend is to have everything completely automatic, mechanical and green.  And to an extent, I totally get that.  Hey, I’m hip.  I’m in the now.  I like modern conveniences as much as the next girl.  But when it comes to modern conveniences in the restroom, my “next girl” is a handicapped one.  Not an able-bodied one.

Ok, let me explain what I’m talking about.  Let’s start with automatic flushing toilets.  For you to really understand what I’m going to be talking about, I’m going to need you to go do an experiment.  First, please go sit in an ice bath until your legs are numb.  Then, have someone tie weights around your ankle so there’s some good dead weight around them.  Now, go sit on a toilet and try to pull up and/or down your pants, without using your legs.  I’ll wait….

On the off chance you did not do that, I’ll break it down.  When you are paralyzed, pulling on or off pants is difficult.  It requires a lot of back and forth motions.  A lot of shifting from side to side.  Depending on the pant, it can be fast or slow.  (Really, it depends on just how skinny of a jean I’m wearing that day.)  The electric toilets are meant to sensor when a person moves from the seat and to flush accordingly.  Last week I was in a restroom and the toilet probably flushed 27 times between my pulling my pants down and back up.  Let’s ignore how embarrassing this was when I thought about what other women in there must have thought about what was going on in the stall.  It’s a huge waste of water.  (And probably electricity.  I’m not entirely sure how these things all work.)  But it can be even worse.  Last year (and this is the hubs’ favorite story) the toilet flushed while I was still pulling up my pants. And…the toilet overflowed.  While I was still on it.  I’ve never jumped so fast into my wheelchair.  I was pissed.  Almost quite literally.

Let’s switch from the electronic toilets to the electronic hand dryers.  How nice, you want to save trees.  I love trees.  And forests.  I’m looking at trees right now as I type this.  So, I can’t possibly have a problem with electric dryers, right?  Wrong.  In a bathroom with electric dryers, they are rarely right next to the sink.  This means that after I wash my hands, I have to wheel to them.  This means my hands are wet.  And then they’re on my push rims.  Now my push rims are wet.  that makes them slippery.  And, if I then dry my hands with the dryer, they’re going to get wet again when I use my push rims to exit said restroom.  It’s bad enough for a person in a wheelchair.  Imagine a person on crutches, a cane or a walker.  That’s just straight up dangerous.  So, while I appreciate that you’re trying to be environmentally friendly, how about being disabled friendly?  Maybe you could buy paper towels from companies who replant trees.  That would be both environmentally friendly and disabled friendly.  And if something like that doesn’t already exist, I whole-heartedly give you the right to start the company and make millions.  You’re welcome.

Finally, I find it somewhat ironic that you’re trying to be cutting edge and modern with the electric toilets and hand dryers, but most bathrooms don’t have automatic doors for disabled convenience.  Now, I probably wouldn’t use the button anyway, since I don’t in places that do have them.  But, why go half-assed with the electronics?  You’re going for modern with the others, why not at least add the one piece of electronics that would actually make a handicapped person’s life a bit better?

Sincerely,

A flushed-on, wet handed paraplegic.