Sunday, April 28, 2024

Every little thing is gonna be alright

 


Hey Friends,

I've had a really eventful April! 

Have you ever been in a bad funk where you felt like things just would never get better? I felt that in March. A lot of that was a result of weaning off of medication and struggling to accept that my knee is what it is -  and throw in the uncertainty of leaving a job after 10 years.  I truly felt hopelessness and despair for multiple weeks.  It's interesting how that voice inside your head tells you that things will never get better - and you believe it. I'm glad that I trudged through and made it out the other side. April took a complete 180 turn, and I'm feeling so much better about life, in general...and about my future. I'm documenting this because I hope that if I ever feel that despair again, this post will serve to remind me (and anyone else out there that feels it) that hopelessness will pass. There will be better days. 

I completed my last day of work with the Department of Education before Easter break. My "farewell tour" was so satisfying. My colleagues made me feel so incredibly special, loved, and appreciated. Ten years is a long time in Cayman - probably equivalent to our 25 in Canada, given that the island is so transient. We counted 6 colleagues who had outlasted me in our department (sounds like "Survivor" - kinda is). There were times during my goodbyes that I questioned whether or not I was making the right decision. But when my last day came and went, I knew the decision was made and was able to walk away feeling OK-ish about it, which was a bit surprising. I expected to feel elated. I think it will take time. 

A surprise from East End Primary!

My incredible colleagues from Student Services


Once I had a chance to catch my breath, Ev and I did a little island hopping for Easter break. Although, I wouldn't call it a "hop," but more of a "leap" to jump all the way over the Barbados and then St. Lucia. 

I know many of you are wondering why we would vacation on a Caribbean island when we live on a Caribbean island, but hear me out. As far as Caribbean islands go, I would describe Cayman as being more "Americanized" than other islands. I love the comfort of living on an island that has solid roadways, banking system (I can use my credit card everywhere), and modern conveniences like a movie theatre and large supermarkets. However, I was longing for a little getaway with a real "island feel." I wanted to buy local rum from a beach hut and adventure down shitty back roads to see views I had never seen before. 

Barbados and St. Lucia definitely fulfilled this need!

Barbados is the Eastern most island in the Caribbean, bordering the Atlantic Ocean. It's a 3.5 hour flight from Cayman, and we were able to skip the layover in Miami (Worst. Airport. Ever), and get a direct flight. Barbados is 2.5 times bigger than Cayman and more varied geographically and topographically. We opted to begin our stay near the St. Lawrence Gap, which is a bustling tourist area on the west side of the island. We finished our stay in Barbados at a beautiful resort on the southeastern coast of Barbados. The beaches are beautiful, and the water is crystal clear, but to be honest, my favorite part of our Barbados adventure was renting a car and driving to the Atlantic side of the island. The east coast of Barbados is more rugged, with dramatic rock formations and unspoiled beaches and bath pools. Although there were a few times we found ourselves on "roads" that may or may not have been traversable,  we found the locals to be very friendly, and never felt unsafe or at risk. 

Interesting fact: Barbados is one of two islands in the Caribbean that have monkeys! They are an invasive species (probably stowed away in a cargo ship at some point), and are destroying the agriculture in Barbados! Farmers are no longer able to grow fruit, as the monkeys are eating everything! Apparently the monkey population has expanded to around 60,000! We saw a few on our travels. They looked sneaky and shifty-eyed. 

Bathsheba, Barbados

such a tourist move. 


We then hopped on a puddle-jumper to St. Lucia. It was a short 30-minute flight from Barbados. We stayed in an airbnb in an area called Marigot Bay. I loved the location! Our room had an expansive balcony nestled on the side of a lush tree-filled hills, overlooking the quaint little bay. We spent many hours drinking wine and watching catamarans float in and out of the bay. 

St. Lucia was more "wild" than Barbados. Although there are multiple luxurious resorts, the island felt less developed, lined with small fishing villages and rum shacks dotting the coastline.  We opted to rent a car again and adventure on our own. The roads were windy and narrow. We dodged pot holes while winding up, down, and around dramatic hillsides. We found the locals to be more direct, following us and attempting to sell us their wares. It was blatantly obvious that St. Lucia is a much poorer country, and the locals are hustling to make cash off of tourists. I did get myself into a bit of trouble one evening. I was pleasantly buzzed on rum punches, watching the sun set over Marigot Bay and two local mean approached me, asking if I wanted to "have fun." "Ya! I love to have fun!" I responded happily. Ev returned and informed me that they were trying to sell me drugs. Oops. Shall I tell them I only take prescription medication from respected physicians? Ha!

My favorite site in St. Lucia was the majestic pitons that rise from the ocean. I managed to partake in a hike (go knees!) to gaze a breathtaking view of the pitons, followed the next day by a beautiful water view from our water taxi. We splashed in beautiful waterfalls and chilled on dark volcanic beaches. The scenery was breathtaking. So was the rum. I drank a lot of rum. A LOT. It was glorious. They even had a "rum taxi" that scooted around to beaches creating tasty rum cocktails for beach-goers. What a concept! The rum definitely helped when my knees protested post hike. 

The view from our balcony in Marigot Bay

Hike to view the pitons

Pitons from the water

Can you see the ridiculous photoshoot behind me? Girl missed an epic sunset. 

The holiday felt like it was customized to my needs and wants in that exact moment. I spent a week mesmerized by beautiful views, lightly buzzed in a rum punch haze... with my Evan. Awesomeness.

I returned ready to start new and immediately announced my new venture!

I have joined Achieve Cayman, a family-centered therapy service, which consists of two fabulous women, Trisha,  a Speech-Language Pathologist, and Teena, a Speech-Language Pathologist/Counseling Psychologist,  with whom I have worked and immensely respect. This is so exciting! I'm going to continue providing Speech Therapy to children, but hope to expand my services to include the adult population. As many of you know, I worked with the adult population in Saskatchewan and absolutely loved it. I can't wait to dive back into strokes, neurological disorders, dysphagia (swallowing), and even corporate speech pathology! It feels like I'm beginning a whole new phase of my life, after drowning in a challenging work environment and enduring surgery after surgery for so many years. I finally came up for air, took a look around, and felt safe enough to make some changes. 

I decided to top this all off with an epic birthday celebration. I've spent the last 3 birthdays post-op, feeling rough, and unable to celebrate in the manner that I would have liked. So I decided to go for it this, my 45th year, and booked a party bus to transport me and my buds on a pub crawl. 

My OG island bestie, Kat, flew down from Miami to celebrate. Having her here meant the world to me. I just relished being in her presence and was instantly whisked back in time to 10 years ago when everything felt so fun, new and carefree. This party bus was comical. It fit 25 people - we were a party of 12, so we basically had a giant bus as a dance floor.  I remember "Getting Low" with Lil Jon, belting out "Sweet Caroline" with the band at Peppers, and dancing to Miley Cyrus at Mango Tree. I danced until my knee seized up (and broke my sandal...TWICE), sang until I lost my voice, laughed until my belly ached, and just thoroughly enjoyed a fun-filled evening with my incredible people. The next morning was another story, with some missing memories,  but it was worth it. Evan said to me, "I haven't seen you that happy in years." Awww. It feels so good to feel joy again. 

Reunited! My OG island besties

"To the window....to the wall!"

It's like they know me. 

Don't do it. Don't do it. 

So there's the update. It all feels pretty good. Full disclosure, I'm still struggling with anxiety and pain. Unfortunately, the last 15 surgeries have caught up to me mentally and emotionally. But...I'm really working hard to feel better. My "team" has expanded to include a Psychotherapist (apparently I need to address the last 13 years? But do I? :),  a chronic pain physiotherapist, and a new pain specialist who flies down from Canada. I finally feel like I'm not just a passenger in my life "getting through" each day, but that I'm now steering the bus (maybe a party bus? Ha!). I feel more in control. I have the best support system, so although I know there will be some tough days ahead, I finally feel like I have all the ingredients I need to move forward. I'm so ready for this next phase of my life. 

Cheers!





Saturday, March 23, 2024

My nervous system is VERY NERVOUS - change is hard

Hey Friends,

A lot of changes are coming my way, and I feel ready to share some of it with you. 

Firstly, Britknee, Johnknee, whatever you want to call my right prosthetic knee, still sucks. It just sucks. I don't know what else to say. It's been over a year since I received my right total knee replacement; hence, the typical healing process is mostly complete. I suffer from a relentless deep pain in my knee that causes me to clench my teeth daily and increase my botox dosage for a very deep frown line in my forehead. My knee is so stiff and sore at night, it wakes me up mid-sleep and I have to pick up this heavy limb and roll it over just so that I can change sleeping positions.  It feels like a dead appendage attached to my body. 

I've now seen 3 orthopedic surgeons who all say that everything is fine. The prosthesis is stable. There are no loose parts, and there is no infection. 20% of total knee patients are "not happy" with their prosthesis, and I just may be one of those unfortunate people. When I researched the statistic on dissatisfied patients, I read about patients complaining of inability to kneel and difficulties returning to their previous tennis form. My expectations weren't that high. I just wanted to have less pain than I did prior to the surgery. I had hope that this 12-year knee pain journey would end. 

I have a theory. I was able to access my OR notes and immediately saw that my right knee prosthesis is larger than my left. I understand that it's the surgeon measures and uses specific techniques to determine the appropriate size for each patient, but I hypothesize that the right prosthetic is too large for my body. It's much stiffer and unable to extend fully; whereas, the left knee is much more lax and "normal" feeling. The left knee, by the way, is great!

Regardless, nothing can be done now. A revision is a big, risky surgery. More bone would need to be resected. The risk of infection increases. It's not an option, currently. This is my knee. 

How disappointing. 

I wallowed in this for a good while. I felt the same grief that I experienced 12 years ago when I was originally diagnosed.  I am grappling with feelings of regret. I've had days (weeks!) where I've beat myself up over making a bad decision. My confidence has taken a major blow. I've experienced feelings of hopelessness and despair. I've even experienced moments where I felt like I was no longer adding value to this world - now that's a scary place to be! It's been really rough. But you know what? Life just keeps moving on, with or without you. So I've decided that it's time to transition from grief into action mode (with moments of grief sprinkled in...you know, for good measure). 

Firstly, I made a decision to wean off of the painkillers that are making my brain foggy. The main one is Gabapentin. Given that I've been on and off of various dosages over 12 years, weaning off of gabapentin has been challenging. The first few weeks I suffered from serious withdrawal symptoms - nausea, dizziness, sleep and mood disturbances, and serious agitation. I couldn't drive in traffic without losing my shit every 3 minutes! (Girl, you live in the Caribbean!- the driver in front of you is either driving 20 km under or over the speed limit. You've known this for almost a decade!) The good news is I'm down to an itty bitty dose and feeling cognitively clearer. The pain has increased, but you can't win 'em all, hey?

In addition, I've reached out to my pain specialist and am receiving guidance from a pain psychotherapist. I know the pain is "in my head," and I don't mean that in a condescending way. It literally is IN MY HEAD. My brain is trying to keep me safe after years of post surgery "survival". My nervous system is VERY NERVOUS, and is in an overprotective setting, meaning that it is producing very painful responses to what may be fairly normal stresses. My brain has changed over the last 12 years as the pain has become chronic. Luckily science has shown that the brain and nervous system can be re-programmed. My very nervous nervous system can be reversed. My cousin recently sent me a meme about being "chalant" as opposed to being nonchalant. I'm definitely striving for nonchalant, although I'm not sure if my DNA will allow that!  I think science is super cool, and I love this "brain training" angle, as it gives me back some control. Given the feelings of helplessness I've been experiencing,  I think that diving back into this, putting the work in, and expecting a good outcome is a solid plan. It's helped me in the past and I know that actively completing assignments and exercises is good for me mentally and emotionally. 

Lastly, I've made a significant lifestyle change. I've resigned from my position as the speech-language pathologist with the department of education in the Cayman Islands. This was, and has been, a tough one. It literally took me 3 hours to hit "send" on the resignation letter! The last year has been incredibly physically challenging for me. The students that we're working with in mainstream schools have become much more complex over the past few years. Many of the students on my caseload are diagnosed with Autism Spectrum Disorder. I've really enjoyed working with my kiddos, and I've learned so much from this population. I developed a better understanding of the brain differences in these children, and how we need to make the shift from treating "deficits" to fostering acceptance and providing support to let these kiddos' strengths shine through.  This is much different than what we were taught many moons ago. Learning is cool. 

But...I digress. 

Working with my kiddos; however, requires much more physical strength and endurance than my knees can handle. I've found it challenging getting up and down off the floor, crawling, lifting, and occasionally chasing run-away students who are in harm's way. There have been days where I've returned home from work and collapsed. It's hard to admit that your body just can't so it anymore - especially at age 44! 

There were a host of other factors that contributed to my decision to resign. But this isn't the forum for that (my co-workers are nodding and smiling. Haha!)

So...I have one week of work left. I have mixed feelings and am presently experiencing an unexpected emotional response to leaving this job. It's a tough gig with its own set of challenges, but the team of specialists that I've worked with over the past 10 years have been extraordinary. I can't express how enlightening it's been to basically work with the United Nations team of specialists. Our therapists hail from all over the world: Africa, UK, Europe, America, and various Caribbean countries. I've learned so much professionally, but mostly I've learned about life, in general. As a middle-class (let's face it - privileged) Canadian, I arrived 10 years ago pretty naive. Although I had lived around the world with Evan's hockey career, I had never worked with people who had such vast experience living and working in various parts of the world. I learned about the power of a passport (I had no idea that some passport holders can't just travel willy nilly!) I also learned about the adversity that many of my co-workers faced to get to where they are now. Can you imagine growing up and fearing for you life on a daily basis? While I was over here complaining about splitting my life between two houses during a divorce! Perspective-taking is an incredible life skill that really helps you grow. How many people in the world are given this opportunity? I'm really grateful for that. I have learned A LOT from this team. 

Also...the office has always kept me close to Monty, and elicited so many Monty memories. In fact, I swear I glimpsed him and his backpack out of the corner of my eye yesterday when I made a little thank you speech. I feel his presence around me, and I'm fearful that I'll lose that connection once I'm not physically there. Sounds like a topic for my psychotherapist, hey?

No worries though (but...ALL the worries!) I will be staying on island and continuing to practice as a speech-language pathologist. More on that later. Soon come!

In the meantime, I'm in this weird transitional period where I'm preparing to close one chapter and move to the next. I'm trying to soak up all the things that have brought me joy over the past 10 years, including  daily laughs with my work wife who has been my ROCK for the past few years, reminiscing about the good, bad, and the ugly, and embracing the love and thoughtfulness that my colleagues have been showering me with as we part professional ways.

"Every new beginning comes from some other beginning's end" - Lucus Anneus Senneca, or more recently, one of my favorite 90's songs, "Closing Time" by Semisonic. 

So there's the update!

Cheers

Office treats! Look how excited the puns make me


My "Monday countdown" caterpillar

1 Monday left!


Pun-themed farewell office lunch. I feel "seen" :)


These puns are on fire!

Like...unreal. 

Me and Dilbert being super "chalant" haha. 











Saturday, February 10, 2024

The Evolution of Romance

 Given that Valentine's Day is just around the corner, I've been spending time with my students discussing love, and ways to show someone that you love and care for them.

One little girl was very keen to explore the topic, "When a boy gives you flowers, that's romantic, right Ms, Kirstie?"

"Yes, I guess it can be," I responded. 

She nodded her head as she traced her heart picture, "But what does romantic mean?" she asked. 

Good question.

I wasn't really sure how to answer this one!

"Something is romantic if it makes the person you love feel excited or happy?" I shrugged, attempting to redirect the line of questioning. I really didn't know how to define "romance" to a 6 year old!

When I look back at the last 28 years with Ev, I can very plainly see that my definition of romance has vastly changed throughout the years!

I've been told that I possess incredible episodic memory. Sometimes a smell, song, or phrase will transport me back, even as far back as my toddler years, and I able to recall an event, or even the way that I felt in a particular moment in time. I assumed everyone had this ability, but I've learned that most of my friends can't remember that one time I angrily threw Kyla's "baby alive" down a flight of stairs in preschool (baby was NOT so alive after that one!) or the joy I felt when I opened the cool purple Northern Reflections T-shirt that Amy and Janna bought me for my birthday in grade 5. I remember it all!

One of my most favorite romantic memories stems from a magical night in March 1997. 

I was 17 years old, had been dating Evan Lindsay for approximately 1 month, and was absolutely besotted with him (I've always wanted to use the word "besotted"). Evan invited me to a Raider party, which basically consisted of the hockey team, and whomever could fit in the unlucky host's basement. The team had just won a big game, Evan was MVP, I was dating the MVP, about to graduate high school, and sitting on top of the world!

I arrived a little late to the party, donning my Guess jeans paired with my Mavi jean vest over a white crop top (the Shania Twain "Any Man of Mine" look), wreaking of Malibu Musk. I looked HOT. To my shock and amazement, my very introverted boyfriend was dancing on top of a table, and chugging red wine out of a paper bag (we were at the mercy of the 19 year olds who pulled booze for us). Granted, our relationship was new, but this wild "party Evan" persona was very new. 

Mark McGrath (Sugar Ray), "Fly" was blasting from a CD in a sweet JVC stereo, and as Evan saw me walk through the door, he locked eyes with me, pointed his shaky drunk finger in my direction, and lip sync'd the words, "Who knows how long I've loved you." 

OH. MY. GOD.

Did anyone else just see Evan Lindsay profess his undying love for me in front of all of his teammates at a Raider party?

Apparently not...but I sure did. 

I can still feel my heart completely fall out of my chest. This was my teenage girl fantasy come true. 

That night, I felt like I was dating the most romantic "man/boy" (we were 17!) in the world. Even as I pulled the car over later that night, watching Evan violently puke all the red wine into the street, I just knew this guy was a keeper. 

The romance just kept coming.

Every 3rd of the month (our first date was Feb 3) for ONE WHOLE YEAR, a box of 12 long stem roses were delivered to my house. These weren't Safeway roses, people! These were exquisite, perfect FLORIST roses. Evan often included a thoughtful note, or even an original poem, professing his very real 17 year old love for me. 

I hung each and every rose, upside down, in my room for that entire year until one day my Mom walked in and exclaimed, "This place looks like a rose graveyard. Maybe we can toss some of these dead roses?" 

I found out years later that Evan had been using his parents credit card (for emergencies only) to purchase my very pricey roses each month. "Well, it was kind of an emergency!" he explained...which to me, was also quite romantic. His parents may have thought differently! Ha. 






After 28 years together, the romance isn't quite so "flashy." And...thankfully Evan is no longer drunk dancing on tables or using his parents credit card to purchase flowers for me (AND...I'm no longer wearing Malibu Musk). Because that would be weird.

Romance now is more subtle...but also much more meaningful and thoughtful. 

Romance is preparing my tea for me early in the morning, so that it's the perfect temperature to sip as soon as I've woken up. 

Romance is filling up the vehicle with gas the night before I need it for a work road trip.

Romance is leaving little notes in unexpected places, wishing me a good day or encouraging me to keep going. 

Terrible handwriting, but lovely to discover under my pillow!

Romance is cooking and freezing meals for me when he's off island for work (he knows I'll probably eat popcorn and cookie dough like a 12 year old!)

Romance is holding my hand and giving it an extra squeeze in uncomfortable situations. 

Romance is not having to say a word, just sitting quietly together, thankful for your person's presence. 

Don't get me wrong, I still enjoy passion, flowers, and impractical gifts on the occasion, but to me, it's the day-to-day ways in which he demonstrates his love for and pays close attention to my needs that also qualifies as romance now - a much different definition than my 17-year old self would have expressed.

Ev's been off island for the past 12 days for work, missing a massive "nor' wester" that produced 18-foot waves, destroying our landscaping and causing our pool to overflow with trees and debris. Needless to say, I'm really looking forward to his return this weekend. It will be nice to get back to our regularly scheduled programming. 

Cheers friends - Happy Valentine's Day!

This pool...not so romantic!




Sunday, January 7, 2024

California Love

 Happy New Year Friends!

I hope that your 2024 is off to a good start. 

I had a really incredible Christmas break - one of the best! Lani, my Mom's very good friend, summer it up as "the perfect Trifecta," and that, it was!

Cayman Airways now offers a direct flight to LA, which is super convenient. In less than 6 hours, you can be standing on the edge of the Hollywood sign! (Name the song!). I flew to LA on Dec 18 and met up with my dad and sister, Kayla, who flew down from Saskatoon. Oh man, we had a good time! We rented a really cute Airbnb in Fallbrook, California, which is a little town between San Diego and LA. It was close to one of my favorite seaside towns, Oceanside, as well as Temecula, the wine valley. I loved this house! We had a huge comfy couch, a cute back yard with fruit trees, hammocks, a fire pit, and a galvanized tub for cold plunges. We spent every morning drinking hot bevvies by the fire, and evenings watching "Travels with my Father" on our big comfy couch (so appropriate for our vacation! "DADDY!")

The first activity was the Temecula wine tour, which I had previously partook in with Ev last February. When we boarded our stretch black party bus with a seemingly shy couple and a mother and daughter duo, I whispered to Kayla, "Just wait until the 2nd or 3rd winery, everyone will come out of their shell." And, as predicted, I vividly recall looking up and watching dad, Kayla and the rest of our crew hanging onto the poles whilst dancing and belting out "Gloria" (dad's selection) at the top of their lungs! It was so fun. I asked dad if he enjoyed the wines on the wine tour and he responded, "It's really just a booze cruise." Haha. Yep, I suppose it was.

Temecula Valley

Well that escalated!

I loved hanging out with my Dad and sister. We had so many laughs. They are so much fun to be around! Kayla and I good-naturedly tease our dad, he takes it, and we all have a good laugh. We often lose dad on holidays, and eventually find him...typically making a new best friend....and this one wasn't any different. Eventually we found him a local pub, saddled up at the bar with an orchard farmer, "This is my new friend, Paul!" proclaimed dad. "Please don't take Les away, we have so much to talk about!" replied new bestie, Paul. They exchanged emails (it's that what you do in your 70's?) and vowed to meet up in Mexico.

Another key moment was driving through Laguna Beach. Kayla and I religiously watched the MTV show, "Laguna Beach" in the early 2000's, so we took great enjoyment in seeking out filming locations and singing the theme song repeatedly "Let the rain fall down...." Dad didn't even flinch. He just took it all in...over and over and over again! Secretly, I think he enjoyed it. We rented a 3-man bike in Oceanside and took turns pedaling down the coast, laughing as we dodged walkers and bikes, with zero elbow room. 

Oceanside

Temecula Town


Fallbrook





After 4 days with my Dad and Sister, I hopped on a little puddle jumper to my Mom and Lenny in their dessert oasis, Rio Bend. This is retirement life at it's finest, people. First order of the day is aquacise class in the 90 degree pool, proceeded by ample Today Show coffee time, followed by golf, ending with a happy hour that spans anywhere from 3-4 hours. Bedtime is anytime after 7pm and let me tell you, I live for this schedule! I had such a nice week with my mom. We were able to do lots of Christmasy things like bake goodies for all of the neighbours, and watch our favorite Christmas movies. The highlight was definitely the golf cart carol singing. Everyone in the community decorated their golf carts (picture lights, giant blow up santas, wreaths, bells - you name it, it was there! We then drove around in our carts, stopping along the way to sing Christmas carols! After completing 2 Christmas songs, we were often rewarded with a shot. Yep, a shot - there was Bailey's, fireball, butterscotch schnapps - bottoms up!  By the end of the caroling, golf carts were colliding, reindeer ears were sideways, and Christmas tunes were out of tune. It was a blast! 







We had a near Christmas miss when Mom's oven stopped working around 7pm on Christmas Eve. Poor Lenny pulled that thing out and attempted to fix it, stating, "Maybe something will be open tomorrow for parts?" haha, on Christmas? Can we quickly beg Santa for an oven element? Luckily, Mom's friend and neighbour suggested their Traeger grill, and although Mom was initially skeptical, it was one of the best turkeys I've ever had! A Christmas miracle, indeed (Traeger, sponsor me!)

I always enjoy spending time with my mom, but it's a huge bonus if it's not after one of my surgeries! We had such a nice relaxing time, just enjoying each other's company, and having lots of laughs with Lenny and their friends. 


Once Christmas was over, I hopped back on my private jet (Southern Airways tiny Cessna), and flew back to LA, where I was reunited with my Evan! Ev had spent a really nice (much colder) Christmas with his mom, Peggy,  in Red Deer, Canada. We immediately picked up our Minnie Winnie for our Pacific Coast RV adventure!

Our first stop was Malibu, where we enjoyed a beautiful ocean view from our campsite. We then proceeded down state route 1 to Pismo Beach. Pismo Beach is a classic, no frills California beach town. The sandy beach extends for miles and a long pier jets out into the sea. We camped at the Pismo Beach State campground, at the end of river. After exploring the pier and enjoying a cocktail in Pismo Beach, we headed back to our campsite, attempted to start a fire with the wettest wood ever, and eventually gave up, falling asleep to the sound of the river behind us. 

Malibu

Pismo Beach State Park


The next day we intended to take the Pacific Coast Highway up to Big Sur; however, every time we plugged in our destination, Google maps was rerouting us. We discovered that a storm hundreds of miles out in Pacific was creating massive waves. This, paired with the high tide, was causing these waves to unprecedentedly crash onto shore, damaging part of the highway. So, unfortunately, we were unable to enjoy the full Pacific Coast experience, we were diverted and aable to reach Big Sur via the 101. 

Ev and I did this drive in our early twenties, so I recall just how magnificent Big Sur is! So, I had expectations, and luckily, those expectations were met.

Big Sur is all about the drama. Once you enter the beautiful city of Carmel, you begin the trek on the narrow, windy roads that drop hundreds of feet into the crashing surf. Not one to ever worry (ha!) I began picturing the door to our Minnie Winnie spontaneously popping open, sending me flailing into the crashing surf. Man, I love relaxing vacations 😟 Due to the storm, Ev and I were able to witness huge Mavericks - 50 foot waves that crashed into the caverns and rocks that jutted out from the coast. It was mesmerizing! Big Sur is breathtaking, and not to be missed if you are considering a California road trip. 

Our campground in Big Sur was something out of Disney's Fern Gully. Surrounded by enormous Red Wood trees and a forest bottom teeming with ferns and bubbling brooks, we quickly started a fire (this one worked!!), prepared dinner and sipped our drinks, enjoying all the smells and sounds around us. I can still smell the smoky wood burning mixed with the earthy scent of the forest. It was magical. 

Big Sur

Pacific Coast Highway

Morro Bay

Big Sur

Big Sur

Although we had pre-booked the majority of our campsites for our trip, we failed to book our last night, as we weren't entirely sure where we would be. We were struggling to find a campground near Santa Barbara, when suddenly 1 spot opened up at a place called "Jalama Beach." On the map, it appeared to be somewhat close to our destination, and the description boasted an ocean view, so we decided to go for it. 

We reluctantly said goodby to Big Sur and continued our trek back down the coast. After a few hours of driving, we came across a sign for Jalama Beach. The turn took us through cattle fields, forests, and across small creeks. With not another vehicle in sight, it honestly felt like we were heading nowhere (or to a place where strangers harvest our organs - again with the worry). I kept second guessing the directions, wondering if we had strayed off course, but signs continued to promise it was just up ahead. 

Suddenly we turned a corner and were met with a spectacular view! There, seemingly in the middle of nowhere, was a beautiful secluded beach. Mouth agape, I couldn't believe that we had found such a treasure! 

Once we checked in, we parked our Winnie up on a cliff, overlooking this beautiful beach. Our neighbours immediately began to inform us that a huge rogue wave had hit the campground the day before, destroying the first 2 rows of campgrounds and even uplifting the playground! Apparently the campground was evacuated and then reopened on the day that we arrived. I guess that's how we managed to score such a great spot. 

This site was one for the books! A small store and restaurant sat just down the hill, serving, the "world famous Jalama Burger." This little ma and pa restaurant has been open for over 40 years. This place had an incredible history - it was such great find! I also discovered one of the best sauvignon blancs I've ever tasted, from the Brander Vineyard just down the road, and Ev and I proceeded to eat our delicious burgers and sip wine by our fire - gazing at one of our favorite California views thus far!

Overall, the RV trip was awesome. Although I do enjoy a 5-star resort (with a jetted tub, please),  I must say that the RV trip is a great way to explore a lot of the state. There is nothing better than falling asleep to the sounds of crackling fires and crashing waves, and then waking up to a beautiful view while sipping a hot drink. In addition, wifi was spotty, which forced us to get off our phones, and just really enjoy each other and the nature around us. I loved this trip, and would highly recommend it to others. 

Jalama Beach

Jalama Beach

Aside: Johnknee was OK. Like his namesake from Dirty Dancing, he's a bit unpredictable at the moment. He will happily dance on a log over a river, practice "The Lift", but abandon me in a huff because he's moody or whatever.  Anyway, there were moments of good and moments of "why won't my fricken knee work," but I'm hopeful that we're heading in the right trajectory, as we all know Dirty Dancing had a happy ending. ;) 

Ok, Friends, I apologize for the long post, but I needed to document one of my best holidays  - my "Trifecta" with my nearest and dearest. 

Happy New Year! I'm excited to make some positive changes this year. 




Saturday, December 2, 2023

Nobody Puts Baby In A Corner!

I sat patiently as the Ultrasound technician slid the wand purposefully around my swollen knee. 

I glanced at the monitor, seeing only black and white wisps across the screen.

"So, can you tell if it's a boy or a girl?" I inquired straight faced.

The Tech dropped the wand on the table, looked at me wide-eyed, and burst out laughing.

We both belly laughed for a solid minute and then she picked up the wand, moved it through the slippery gel over my knee cap and exclaimed, "It's definitely a boy!"

A boy! Well this a turn of events. This changes everything now, doesn't it?

About 8 weeks ago I had a little "incident" at work. I was walking one of my students back to class. This particular student has autism spectrum disorder and often acts impulsively. I held his hand and sang our transition song, "The ants go marching two by two, hurrah, hurrah" as we trudged slowly back to class. Suddenly as we neared the car park, my little friend turned abruptly to run towards the cars. Holding his hand, I was jerked sideways, felt a searing pain down my knee and fell on the ground. Ouch. Luckily the student was fine. I, however, was not. 

After a check-up with my surgeon and various tests (including that very "telling" ultrasound. Ha!), the surgeon diagnosed me with a bone contusion.

A bone contusion occurs when a bone sustains trauma and becomes bruised. My bone, apparently was bleeding and inflamed. 

Who knew?

Unlike a regular bruise, bone bruises can take months to heal. Yippee for me. 

Ugh. 

It's been quite painful, and I took a week on non-weight bearing measures. Oh the PTSD! I forgot how frustrating it is to transport my tea from the kitchen to the couch on 2 crutches, without putting weight on my leg. Every little thing becomes a major task. I have not idea how I managed non-weight bearing for 6 week stints! Brutal.

Anyway, here I am with a bruised bone, attempting to rest and heal this damn knee, (as much as one can while working and adulting full time), and realizing that I've misgendered my knee now for almost 9 months!

Obviously Britknee is angry because Britknee, in fact, is male.  

I screwed up. 

So, based on this turn of events, I will be officially renaming the right knee.

Can I present to you....drumroll please. drumroll (If you're a Christmas Vacation fan, that will mean something to you).....

Johnknee!




I specifically selected Johnknee, based on one of my favorite movie characters,  Johnny Castle from Dirty Dancing. 

Johnny Castle was charming and suave...yet cynical. Johnny was an underdog who proved himself through hard work.  I prefer that personality to my former namesake Britney. Did you read her memoir? My knee doesn't stand a chance as Britknee. 

Johnny Castle was loyal. He didn't turn his back on Baby when things got tough (well, he kinda kid for like 24 hours) But...he came back, pulled her out of that corner and time of her life'd her!

Johnny Castle obviously had amazing knees. That lift required serious quad strength and knee extension, not to mention confidence - three things that I'm currently lacking. 

Finally, at the end of the movie, with the help of Baby, Johnny realized that the world could, indeed, be a good place

I kneed this knee to realize that this world is fine. Everything is fine. We need to stop wallowing, do our effing job and move forward (literally and figuratively!)

So now that we've cleared that up, I'm assuming Johnknee will rise to the occasion and provide me with the support and endurance that I so desperately kneed. 

I'll be registering at "The BABY Shoppe" in George Town (hehe, now I can regularly throw down Dirty Dancing puns!)

Cheers!

Unreal flexion

can withstand high impact

squatting and lunging - not a problem