Friday, November 08, 2019


Mom posted this on the family Hangout today. It brought me to tears. We're all so proud of dad. And he looks pretty spiffy in his sweatsuit and Nikes!

Thing I'm thankful for: physical therapists!

Thursday, November 07, 2019

Thing I'm Thankful For

I know; it's been a long time. Three things stopped me from posting: 1) Work has been really busy this year; 2) I forgot my password to sign into Blogger, which should've been easy because it's connected to my Gmail account, but it wasn't; and 3) I didn't know what to say.

I'll only address the third thing.

I've had ideas to share, and I've even started a few posts, but once I started writing, they just didn't seem . . . important? Somehow? But maybe I've been taking myself too seriously for the last couple of years. I think that's to be expected. Here's why:
  1. I had two major surgeries last year. For a couple of weeks after each surgery, I couldn't urinate on my own. I couldn't have a bowel movement easily, and I couldn't take quick showers or walk at a speed that even slightly resembled "fast."
  2. My dad was diagnosed with Parkinson's Disease this summer, and not long after -- very recently, in fact -- he had a heart procedure that caused a massive stroke. As a result, he can't swallow well enough to drink or eat. He can't stand on his own or walk, and he can't go to the bathroom on his own. He also can't shower or be left alone, really, for any length of time while he's awake.

I'm not complaining. I'm simply pointing out that life is physically hard, and when life is physically hard, so many things seem pointless. So many things seem like they're not worth saying or doing.

But also. When life is physically hard, so many things in life seem amazing. For example, I am not kidding when I say that having a bowel movement is something I am utterly grateful for each time it happens. I'm also supremely happy that I can get up, walk to the bathroom, and urinate on my own. My dad, too, is improving a little each day. At least, that is what I gather from my mom's texts on the family Hangout:
  • "He opened his eyes today!"
  • "He is swallowing!"
  • "Hey, he is singing!"
  • "Dad sat in bedside commode and peed in urinal."
  • "He stood inside parallel bars alone today."
My favorite thing is when he opens his eyes. He looks around at everything just like a baby does -- not really focusing for too long on anything, but slowly looking at interesting objects and people. It seems like he is rediscovering the world, and yet, we can't ask him, "What is it like to discover the world again, dad?" Well, he wouldn't be able to tell us, anyway. The closest I've gotten was when he was in the ICU, mumbling about something nonsensical.

"Dad," I asked, "Does it feel like you're in between dreaming and waking?"
"Something like that," he answered.

And that was the end of the conversation.

I'm so grateful for a physical body -- for having an instrument through which I can accomplish so many things. The human body is so precious, delicate, resilient, and strong. I'm in awe every day of the things I have taken for granted for so many years: blinking my eyes, being able to close my mouth, smiling, waving, blowing my nose, having fingernails and hair, seeing and hearing, feeling pain and reacting.

I'll try to be less serious and a bit more fun-loving as the days, weeks, and months wear on, but for now, let this post be one big thing I'm thankful for.

Wednesday, May 29, 2019

I'm Probably Gonna Get Some Flak for This . . .

But does Lady Boss Glasses really have to use this image for their ads?

Yeah, I get that a lot of feminists think it's a woman's prerogative to dress any way she wants, but come on -- this look is totally ridiculous. It reeks of objectification and even feels sexist -- I guarantee that if this company were selling glasses for men, the ads would not have the same tone. And okay, I can see using this image if your company is called "Sexy Librarian," but call me crazy -- the name "Lady Boss" doesn't make me think of sexy businesswoman.

Here's another company that does it better:

Thanks, Felix Gray, for selling glasses and not . . . Sex.

Thing I'm thankful for: a good job

Saturday, May 04, 2019

Public Service Announcement

I have a lot to catch you up on, dear readers, but before before I post about the fun stuff I've been doing lately, I feel obligated to tell you about a critical life skill that my doctor friend taught me years and years ago: proper wound care.

That's right; you heard me. Dr. Duncan's expert medical care* has literally saved my skin countless times, the most important of which was the time I got hit by a car. Because of his instruction, I was able to take good care of the cuts and scrapes I had all over my feet, and there are no scars at all! Seriously! And just two days ago, I cut my thumb, and it's already healing very nicely.

First, some basics:
  • Hydrogen peroxide is a wound care four-letter word. Do NOT use hydrogen peroxide on any cuts or scrapes. I'm not sure how, but it's become the go-to cleaner for people, and it's a terrible idea. In addition to killing bacteria, it damages healthy tissue. And . . .
  • You want to save healthy tissue!
  • Saving healthy tissue means keeping it moist and protected from new bacteria. That means you should keep your wound moist and covered! Don't let it scab over! (This is the quickest way to cause scarring.)
  • The key to helping your skin heal (and reducing scarring) is gently removing necrotic tissue (i.e., "dead" or "white" tissue) and exposing granulation tissue. Granulation tissue is new vascular tissue on an ulcer or the healing surface of a wound. In a normal cut or scrape, it's the pink tissue you see underneath the white (i.e., dead) tissue around the wound.
Okay. That should be enough to give you some step-by-step instruction.
  1. Gently clean the wound with regular soap and water. If you don't have soap on hand, just use water. (See the first bullet point above.)
  2. Gently clear away dead tissue to expose the pink granulation tissue beneath. You can use gauze, a paper towel, or a soft cloth for this. It's okay if you can't remove all the dead tissue, esp. if it hurts. Just try the best you can.
  3. Pat the area dry (Do not blow!) and apply a generous amount of petroleum jelly. You can use antibiotic cream, such as Neosporin, but some people are allergic to the active ingredient in Neosporin, so it really is best to use plain petroleum jelly. I use the cheap Walgreen's brand.
  4. Put a bandage on it, and keep it covered! I like the Band-Aid brand, and I prefer the flexible fabric kind, but lately, I've been super into 3M's Nexcare waterproof bandages because they have an amazing seal and keep the dry, bacteria-filled air out!
  5. Repeat all of these steps at least once a day. I like to dress my wounds in the morning after I shower and at night before going to bed. If it's a tricky wound to dress, though, then once a day is alright; just make sure you apply lots of petroleum jelly and use a bandage that is going to stay in place.

If you follow these steps, you'll be amazed at how quickly your wounds heal and how much you can reduce scarring. Honestly, I might post pictures on here next time I cut myself -- and detail each day's healing progress. Or I'll take a video of me cleaning and dressing my wound. That would be totally gross and awesome. :)

*He really is an expert. He completed a rotation at a burn clinic once upon a time and learned from the best wound care physicians in the industry.

Thing I'm thankful for: medical experts. They really do make life so, so, so much better. Thanks, Nick!

Friday, April 26, 2019

This Podcast Will Kill You

I got to work 30 minutes later than planned this morning because I was wrapped up in what I was listening to. I was moseying along and suddenly realized I didn't know where I was––turns out, I was a couple of exits south of where I was supposed to be. What was I listening to that was so enthralling, you ask? This Podcast Will Kill You.

"This Podcast Will Kill You" is all about infectious diseases––their biology, history, clinical presentation, and impact. It really is fascinating and also fun to listen to. Two grad students host the podcast, and they speak in an engaging and accessible way. Makes me want to start my own podcast!

Anyway, do yourself a favor and listen to this podcast. I listen on Spotify, but I think you can access it just about anywhere.

Have fun!

Thing I'm thankful for: curiosity

Tuesday, March 26, 2019


Ughhhh. I'm so over people talking about how they're "living their truth." Pardon my French, but what the hell does that mean?

I understand what it's supposed to mean––that you accept yourself. That you don't live up to others' expectations and definitions of you. That you live loud and proud, as one HuffPost contributor puts it. (Never mind that this contributor is a "modern day mystic." Barf.)

Is this real life?

The only time that "living your truth" can even be remotely okay is if we're all on the same page about the Golden Rule; otherwise, all bets are off. What if a white supremacist said, "I'm just living my truth?" What if a bigamist said he was just living his truth? What if the president of the United States said his truth was to keep immigrants out of the country? Too extreme? Okay, I'll tone it down a bit. Imagine a mother spending hours and hours working out and achieving the body that she wants, only to neglect her children because she puts so much effort into herself. Imagine a couple who wants to "live their best life" in a huge house they can't afford. Or someone who focuses almost solely on herself because she's spent the last year fighting health problem after health problem and "doesn't have the energy for anyone else." (That's me, by the way.)

I get it, I get it––the point is to be honest about who you are with yourself and with the world. But c'mon––it's really just an excuse to be selfish. And again, it's based on some illogical assumption that people everywhere know what "good" means. If you want to be honest with yourself and with the world, then be honest. Just don't call it what it ain't: truth. (And especially not "Truth" 'cause then we have a serious problem.)

Thing I'm thankful for: massages

Tuesday, March 12, 2019

Gratitude is Being Able to Urinate

Until last year, I thought my lowest point in life was the time I was on the toilet AND throwing up. I had gotten severe food poisoning from ice cream, and it was three days of awful pain and exhaustion.

Then I had major surgery, and I learned that pain can be much, much worse.

The worst part, though, was not being able to control one of the most basic bodily functions. I haven't explained this in full on this blog, except to say that I had to go home from the hospital with a catheter. That sounds . . . not terrible. But let me tell you the details. (Trust me; I have a point.)

When you have major surgery, the anesthesiologist administers lots of intense drugs that basically put your organs to sleep. People react in so many different ways, but this is how my body reacted: I couldn't urinate on my own. My bladder kept filling up and up and up––so much that it was holding around two or three times the amount it was supposed to. I would sit on the toilet just waiting and waiting for my urethra to wake up, but it never did. After several days of being in the hospital and not being able to urinate, my doctor said I had to go home with a catheter. I was scared my body would never remember how to urinate again––so, so scared.

I won't go through the embarrassing and painful details of getting the catheter set up; instead, I'll explain what it is: a long tube that goes up your urethra and to your bladder, so that urine can freely drain. At the end of the tube is a bag, where urine is collected. If you have a catheter, you don't "go to the bathroom" the way normal people do. You go to the bathroom when the urine bag is full, and you drain the bag into the toilet.

So. Imagine having a tube (and attached 2000ml bag) between your legs all the time. Every day, all day. Sleeping is complicated. Showering is complicated. Getting dressed is complicated. Walking in public is embarrassing. Walking around at home is awkward because you have to carry the bag in one hand, which only leaves one hand free to do things. Having visitors––depending on the visitor––is also embarrassing.

After a while (about 7 or 8 days), I started to get some feeling back in my urethra. It wasn't completely back to normal, but it was enough sensation to know that I had a tube in there. It was enough to feel irritated and to feel pain sometimes. Soon after that (10 days), I was able to get the catheter out. It felt amazing. When I urinated by myself that first time––I could've cried. I think I did cry a bit, actually.

But the ordeal wasn't over. Because more often than not, people get urinary tract or bladder infections after having a catheter in for so long. That was me. Just a few days after the catheter was removed, I had a difficult time urinating again. AND it was accompanied by severe abdominal pain. It was awful.

Why am I blogging about this, you ask? Because for the last year, I've had health problems, and this weekend was no exception. I had severe lower back pain and couldn't get around very well. One of my friends kindly said, "I'm sorry, Sara. Back pain is the worst." And it is bad. It is definitely bad. Lots of things are. But I will say this: I feel like I'm doing alright if I can urinate on my own. It's a funny thing to say, but I'm serious about that. Nearly every time I sit on the toilet and things are working properly, I breathe a little sigh of relief. I feel like things are gonna be okay. The world is okay, and I have plenty in life to be grateful for.