Insomnia – Daily Thoughts 5.2.13

It is almost 5:00 a.m.

I am still awake. I do not like this.

Luckily, I am still awake because I can’t find a position to lay in without having pain.

“Luckily? Why does she say luckily?? That sounds miserable!”

Yes, it seems strange, but I say that because I am glad I am not awake due to insomnia

When I was in high school I had insomnia — legit insomnia, doctor diagnosed blah blah blah — I would be awake, laying in bed wishing and praying for sleep. Usually finally falling asleep around 4:00 a.m.

Looking back, I think it was more of an anxiety problem. I would lay awake thinking about anything and everything my brain could come up with to keep me from falling asleep.

Tonight is much the same. I am sitting, walking, pacing the hallways of my apartment, waiting for my surgery, wishing tomorrow was the day, but I’m also anxious.

I am really afraid of this surgery.

I am afraid because, as in most cases of every surgery, the surgeon cannot definitively say “I’m going to do this and it’s going to help you.”

I’m worried that something is going to go wrong in the middle of the surgery and they are going to have to do a spinal fusion. Fusions in your low back are one of the worst things you can do. They almost always make your problems worse by transferring the problem to the disks above and below the area that you had fused. And guess what the only treatment is for that pain? More fusions! Until your whole spine is fused and you are unable to bend or twist your entire back. And even then there is a possibility that you will still have the same pain you had in the first place.

I am getting a little irrational, but when you are up at night and there is nothing to do but try to fall back to sleep, your irrational fears and worries invade your mind. It’s a horrible battle to get rid of them, the only thing that seems to help is the morning sun. Leaving you dreary and tired to face the day.



Letdown – Daily Thoughts 4.30.13

One of the biggest problems that I have been dealing with lately is a feeling like I am letting people down and feeling like I am letting myself down.

I feel guilty that I cant work in the trucks anymore. I feel ashamed, like my old co-workers look at me and think I’m a failure. I feel bad that I can’t be as involved in my classes as I would like because some days I simply cannot walk.

I know it’s silly, I know that all that kind of thinking does is ruin me, ruin my attitude.

Sometimes I feel like there was something I could have done to prevent my disk from herniating. I feel like maybe I did something to deserve it, or maybe it happened to prevent me from something worse.

I lay in bed at night and think about ways I could have prevented my back injury. The longer I think, the more abstract and ridiculous the ideas become.

“Well, if I would have just stuck with one of the millions of times I tried to lose weight, then this wouldn’t have happened … Maybe if I was just stronger, when I was lifting the cot, my back wouldn’t have spazzed out … If I never became a paramedic or got interested in EMS … If I would have applied myself more in high school and found something else I liked to do … Maybe if I hadn’t jumped off of the swings at the playground so many times … If I was born in May instead of June …

The longer I think, the crazier it gets.

Now just to be clear, I know that this is all absurd, nonsensical and even comical. But as my Mom would say, I inherited my Dad’s penchant of worrying about things that don’t matter. Mix that with my unhinged, creative imagination and scary things start to happen.

What I am really trying to say is this; If, over the next two weeks, I am acting strange, extremely quiet,  anxious or just seem down, it’s probably because I am worrying about letting you down, or something else equally silly.

Also, thank you to all those who have sent me happy thoughts, messages and emails. I appreciate them!

Thoughts on long engagements – Daily Thoughts for 4.29.13

It has already been one year since Jacob asked me to marry him. I cannot believe how fast time has gone and how much we have accomplished together in the last year.

Jacob and I after he popped the question!

Jacob and I after he popped the question!

For a while I was kind of mad that we weren’t getting married sooner, especially because our original plan was to get married this summer. But the stress just got to be too much with my back problems and school and work. There just wasn’t enough time and I didn’t posses enough sanity to plan a wedding.

I really think it is for the better though. We have been through a lot together and Jacob really has seen me at what I hope is the worst shape I will ever be in. He has been so amazingly supportive.

When I told him I wanted to start crafting more and open an Etsy store (which would mean working less at my regular job but more at home and less income), he was behind me 100 percent. Now that I need to have surgery he is looking for another job to support us on top of managing our apartment building and his other job.

Some people have asked us why we ‘don’t just get married.’ I always give them the excuse that I am really busy with school, and it’s not really an excuse, I am very busy with school and work.  Of course I want to be married, but really, what’s the rush? We love each other and Jacob is my best friend. We already live together (Ahh! The sin!!). But why rush?

We are just enjoying life, enjoying being busy with things that mid-20-year-old’s do. Honestly, I don’t thing being married would change that, but I always find that things happen when they are supposed to. Also, Everything always works out in the end. I think that too many people rush into things before they are prepared for it. For now we are just enjoying life, living it up, finding out who we really are and what we really want to do with our lives. In a year and a few months we’ll be married, and I can’t wait.

We just fit together so well. I am so thankful to have him in my life.

A Family of Amazing Women – Daily Thoughts, Weekend Edition!

Yesterday my mom came up to help me organize my apartment so it’s nice and easy for me to get around when I am detained recovering after my surgery. She was so positive and upbeat even when facing the unorganized atrocity that was my hobby room.

I expected a small chastisement,  an “Oh, Kayla, how did you let it get this bad?” kind of thing. But mom has never really been like that. When I was younger she would tell me to clean up my room and make my sister and I participate in the ritual Saturday cleaning days, but she never yelled or scolded about it (ok, maybe once or twice). Her constant positive vibes and smile, even while facing this monstrous disorganization, was enough to get me into a good mood too.

It got me thinking about all the amazing women in my family and the wonderful influence they have had on me.

First things first, my Mom, the first woman of my family that I met. She has always urged me to try new things, knowing the full extent of my shyness and hard time meeting people and making friends. But the best thing that she has taught me is to always look on the bright side of things and to respect people. She also taught me (and I learned this many times the hard way) to never give up. As you can imagine, I learned this through me wanting to give up on something, and her, many times having to pull the “Mom” card, wouldn’t let me. The lesson was swift and final; follow through with what you started.

On top of being amazing, my mom is one of the most caring women I know. She is an amazing nurse with a huge heart and she loves her job, even when she gets vomited on (literally or figuratively). She connects with her patients in a way that many people cannot even connect with their own family members. She has a way of putting people at ease, even when they are in great pain or are going through emotional turmoil. Her friends are just as caring and she has surrounded herself with an amazing group of people. She is a no-nonsense kind of person and I also learned from her that gossip and pettiness are a waste of time, and only end up hurting the people you talk about, as well as yourself.

The only thing I can think of that I don’t like about my mom is that she smokes, she has since she was 16 years old. But I am so proud to say, to brag, even, that she has stopped smoking! I think she is coming up on five months now. She can do anything she sets her mind to, and this is probably the most amazing thing she has done. I am so, so proud of her accomplishments.

The second woman in my family that had an incredible impact on me was Great-Grandma Roberts. She was a strong-willed, smart, hardworking and amazing woman. I would go to her house, where she lived alone until she was 96 years old, and help her clean. I loved listening to her stories, but I didn’t like cleaning with her. She was very particular about how things should be clean. When I was younger, I thought it was just because she was an old lady set in her ways, but as I grew older I learned that she believed that if a job was worth doing, it should be done right and done well. Even if she believed that the way to get the job done right was washing her windows with a putrid and painful mixture of three parts boiling water, one part vinegar and one part ammonia (no lie) and after washing the window with a cloth, then a lint free cloth, you went over them with the Star Tribune, that we would walk together to pick up in the morning before the sun got too hot, because the Star Trib uses the best paper/ink combo for a streak-free window.

The next set of wonderful women are my grandmothers. My maternal grandmother had nine children and my paternal grandmother had eight. That alone makes them amazing in my book. But beyond that, they are both extremely hard-working,  inspiring and creative. They grew these amazingly huge gardens to feed and provide for their families. My maternal grandmother taught me how to butcher a chicken, sew a quilt and bake the best food I have ever eaten. My paternal grandmother inspired me to paint and craft. When my dad was young, she and my grandfather would make all sorts of crafts and made beautiful woodworking pieces. My Mom told me yesterday that if it could be painted, grandma would paint it.  Along with teaching me to be crafty and resourceful, they also showed me that to be fully content, all you need is someone you can trust to spend your life with and the value of a hard day’s work.

The next amazing women in my life are my wonderful Aunties. I have many, many amazing memories with all my aunts and I am happy to have grown up close enough to them that I was able to be a part of their lives frequently. All of them have the same upbeat, positive attitude that my mom has. It is an attitude that makes me feel like I can do anything I want to.

My Auntie Laura has been one of the most influential to me in the way of feeding my creative side. When I was five, she took on my request of teaching me how to crochet. I got the basic first step of creating a chain down, but no matter how hard she tried, she couldn’t convince me to turn the work and continue to make my yarn into more than fancy rope that I seemed content to crochet. But nevertheless, I was the happiest little thing just chaining the whole skein of yarn that she gave me. Upon chaining the whole skein of yarn, I rolled it up into a ball and kept it to show people.

I remember being so proud of that ball of chained yarn. Even though she didn’t get very far in teaching me that first day, her lessons stuck in my mind, along with her cheery attitude and happy, gently smile. Now crafting is part of who I am. It helps reduce my stress and organize my thoughts, and best of all, it has increased my creative thinking and even helped with problem solving. It’s something I do to think through problems, it’s something I do when I need to take time for myself, it’s something I turn to when I am happy, sad, confused, creative, and frustrated. When I pick up some yarn and a crochet hook I always think of her and the wonderful lessons she has taught me.

Of course, I can’t forget my Sister and my many female cousins that I grew up with. At one time or another, they were all like sisters to me. We grew up together, played in the summer, the older ones babysat me, but they are all lovely women and I learned a lot from all of them, even if it was just learning how to dodge the younger ones while trying to fit in with the older ones. 🙂

Without these amazing women in my family I would not be who I am today. I am so proud to come from two families of hard-working, strong-minded, insightful, and caring women. They make me strong, and I love them all.

Modern medicine can’t fix my broken heart

It has been two years, two months, eighteen days, and  twenty three hours since I have worked in an ambulance (At the time I am writing this).

The counter in my head never stops. I can’t forget the day in February that I was injured, because it was also the day that my heart broke.

I think it is rare for anyone nowadays to be able to say that they love their job. It is even more rare for a 20-year-old to have their first serious career be a career they can truly say they loved.

Some would say that I am being over-dramatic, and I guess I am, but it hurts. There is a piece missing from my heart. Everyday since the day my back was injured has been a horrible reminder of a lost love. Every pain shooting down my leg, the constant muscle spasms in my back, the feeling like my left foot is constantly being stabbed with  knives and needles keeps the emotions and realization that I will never again get to do the job that I love fresh in my mind.

It has made me angry.

I have tried to move on. I found another profession, journalism, much in the same way I found my love for emergency medicine, by chance. I just happened to be good at it.

But I am still angry. Angry that I am having all this pain. The things you love should not cause you pain, but they do.

Angry that after all the hard work I put into school so that I could work as a paramedic means nothing anymore. The overnight clinicals in a town two hours away, working days on the ambulance as an EMT and nights at the hospital as a nursing assistant so I could pay off my tuition bill because I couldn’t get enough loan money to cover it. The constant struggle to stay awake during classes after having been up for 32 straight hours because a patient needed to go to Rochester at 1:00 a.m. — a 12-13-hour round trip.

I’m angry at myself because I probably could have worked harder to take care of myself and avoided injury in the first place.

Well, Maybe.

Actually, Probably not. (I won’t get into the staggering statistics of injuries in the field)

Now I’m angry because I have an answer. It took long enough, too. Almost ten months of being batted around like a cat toy to different providers, different specialists, getting injections and having them go wrong, walking around for three months with my leg numb, feeling like I’m going to fall over. When the one test I requested could have told us everything.

But now I have an answer, so I should be relieved, right?

I am, in a way. I am happy that the surgery that I have to have has a high success rate and will probably relieve the searing pain that rips down the back of my leg every time I move it. It will probably help relieve the muscle spasms and stop the feeling of pins and needles being poked into the bottom of my foot.

But when all the pain is gone, I will still be left with a broken heart. Knowing that especially now that I have had back surgery, there is no way any smart person would hire me to work for an ambulance service again. Knowing that I will never get to feel the insane adrenaline rush and pure terror of responding to a car accident, an unconscious person or a cardiac arrest, but also never again feel the warmest feeling your heart could ever know after trying everything you – and modern medicine – have in your bag of tricks to save a life.

But modern medicine,with all the tricks in her bag, can’t fix a broken heart. And even though I will be very happy to be able to walk without limping soon, to go about my day without pain, get back to feeling like me again, my heart still aches to be out saving lives, to help people on their darkest day.

I don’t think anything can fix this broken heart of mine.