Angst Girl

Now With 25% More Angst!



My time in cardiac rehab is coming to an end so I really need to get set up going back to Curves. I KNOW I need to call them to see if they want a doctor’s okay or for me to set up a time to go through orientation again. Am I doing it? Nope. I’ve gained a little bit of weight lately so I really need to do something, but I just can’t get myself to do it. I’ve always hated exercising and that hasn’t changed.

One of my worst habits is procrastination. I make to-do lists all the time but I use that to avoid actually doing anything. I enjoy being able to cross things off the list but that’s still rarely enough to give me the impetus to actually do anything. I hate it and I use it to chastise myself, as if that’s going to get me to move. It doesn’t. I just sit there beating myself up and use that to avoid the tasks I need to get done.

I am envious of people who actually are able to keep moving and get stuff done. My best friend is one of those people. When she has things to do, she’s a maniac. She has her days during which she relaxes but for the most part she’s always moving. Why can’t I be more like her?

Right now I’m writing this blog entry to avoid going to sleep. Yep, I even procrastinate when it comes to sleeping. It’s sad. If anyone has a magical way to stop my procrastinating, I would greatly appreciate it if you shared it in the comments.

Julia Signature

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Decorate Your Life


One of my three mantras for 2014 is “decorate.” My goals for this year so far are to paint the living room and hallway, paint the small bathroom, and hang all the pictures in the living room and hallway. I’ve been having fun looking at paints online. I think one of the smartest things they’ve done in the past few years is to make available small sample sizes of the paint. A little less than $3.00 and you can get a much better idea of what it will look like on your actual walls than from a little paint swatch on a small piece of paper. I know that what I see on my monitor and what the paint actually looks like might be two different things so I’m planning on ordering a couple of the shades of each color in the sample size.

I have to select a brown shade for the living room and hallway. It’s going to be a fairly dark brown which I know might make the room a little dark (and the hallway even darker than that) but I’m willing to take the chance. I want a deeper brown to really set off the turquoise accents. I’ve found a shade that I think might work and you can see it HERE. It’s named “Hot Chocolate” which I think is a sign because I love chocolate.

Another paint I need to choose is turquoise. I have some accents to paint turquoise for the living room and then I’ll use the same turquoise on the walls in the kitchen when I get around to painting that (the walls will be turquoise and I’m going to paint the cupboards white). I’ve also found a shade that I think will work. Take a look HERE.

So the living room will be brown with turquoise accents, my kitchen will be turquoise with white cupboards, the small bathroom will be white (it’s decorated with bright pink flamingos), the front bedroom will also be white (I have lavender bed linens and curtains), and the master bedroom and bath will both be aqua. Let me tell you, looking at samples of both turquoise and aqua can make you crazy after a while.

Ultimately I want to have laminate wood floors installed in the living room/hallway and in the master bedroom (which will function as a studio) and master bath. I haven’t really picked out flooring for the living room/hallway yet, but I do have something I think will work for the studio and master bath. Take a gander HERE and HERE. I think the white wood would look look good with the soft aqua walls. The flooring in the living room/hallway will be a traditional brown.

Obviously all these projects will not be done all at once or perhaps even in the same year. But I have my goals set and I plan to carry on with them. I’ve been watching the show “Knock it Off” and been getting inspired to actually get this decorating done. Not that I’ll be as creative or into DIY as they are, but it’s inspiring to see the before and after pictures of the rooms they remodel. My mother has also gotten bit with the bug and is thinking about redecorating her living room, too. I think it’s going to be an exciting year!

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Here’s to Your Health

Healthy Cupcake

It’s a new year and so many people make resolutions regarding their health. I don’t really make resolutions, per se, but I definitely have goals that I work toward. This year it’s my year to work at losing weight. I need to do it because I need to get more healthy, but I also need to do it so I can have open-heart surgery. Unfortunately, telling me I have to lose weight in order to have heart surgery isn’t really going to motivate me because who wants to have heart surgery? But I do want to put the whole thing behind me and I do want to be more mobile and in shape so exercise, here I come.

In case I haven’t already mentioned it a million times, I HATE exercising. Hate. It. And now I’m a little scared of exercising very strenuously because I’m afraid I’ll have another heart attack. I’ve been going to cardiac rehab where they monitor your heart while you exercise. It’s been going fine with no heart episodes, but it’s not very strenuous exercise compared to what I used to do at Curves. But my time at cardiac rehab is coming to an end (insurance will only cover about 20 visits) so I’m being kicked out of the nest to find my own way. That’s scary. But I know I can make more progress as far as weight loss goes if I put more effort into it and exercise more than the three days a week I’m doing now. Do I really wish I could wake up in the morning and be at my goal weight and skip all the exercise? You betcha. But that hasn’t worked out so far so I doubt it’s going to come to pass.

The heart surgeon said he wanted me to lose 50 to 60 pounds before he’ll do surgery. I go to see him later this week and I think I weigh about the same as I did when I saw him two months ago. So I’m not really looking forward to his reaction to that. But I have to go face the music and let him know I’m going to be working on it harder than before. All I can do is the best I can do. So far I haven’t been doing my best and that has to change. I really need to get this extra weight off me because I don’t want the gastric bypass surgery to be for nothing.

My mantra for 2014 is HEALTHY. I’m going to try to eat healthy, exercise to get healthy, and take my medications to stay healthy. Oh! I just thought of another mantra that I totally want to focus on this year: DECORATE. I’ve lived in this house for about seven years and still haven’t really made it my own. I want to paint every room except one and I have wall hangings that need to be put up once the painting is done. I’m not planning on any big, expensive projects (like taking up the carpet and putting down a laminate wooden floor) but I think painting will be totally do-able. I’m shooting for early spring to get started on painting and I’m really hoping my bestie and her man will be willing to be hired out to do the painting for me. Not that I’m expecting to get all the rooms painted right away but it would be nice to at least get the living room and hallway painted. And maybe I can talk them into doing the small bathroom at the same time. I haven’t talked to them about it yet and don’t know what they’ll charge me for their services, but I’m hoping it will all come together. I’m also not sure where I’m going to get the money for the paint and primer but let’s not sweat the details yet, ok?

So there we go: 2014 is the year of being healthy and decorating my crib. It’s kind of all about surrounding myself with beauty; the beauty of a healthy body and the beauty of a well-decorated home. Hmm, maybe I should add a third mantra: BEAUTY. I think I deserve beauty in my life and it’s worth it to put some effort into creating that beauty.

Now that I have discovered my three mantras for the year I just have to dedicate myself to them. All of them are a little out of my comfort zone but I’m committed to making them work. I’ll check in here from time to time to let you know how they’re working out. Wish me luck!

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Loosen Up, People!

It’s that time of year again. When silver bells ring? No. When it’s a marshmallow world? No. It’s that time of year when some people get their panties in a bunch over what kind of seasonal greeting you offer.

Personally, I usually say “happy holidays” or “season’s greetings” to people I don’t know because those include everyone. But primarily I don’t think a whole lot about it until I hear someone bitching about the absence of “merry Christmas.” Yes, I can only recall hearing complaints about the kind of greeting from what I assume are Christians because they are offended that someone said something other than “merry Christmas.” Their complaints can range from such platitudes as “Jesus is the reason for the season” to “keep Christ in Christmas.”

I’m not a Christian hater. I don’t have anything against any religion. I just find it odd that some people, who reportedly claim to want to be Christ-like, are looking to divide people. Don’t we have enough that we already allow to drive wedges between us? Supposedly this time of year should be full of love and caring so, especially at this time of year, shouldn’t we be looking for ways to respect ALL people? Isn’t society in America based enough on Christianity? Do we really need to make sure we use a greeting that may be against our beliefs just to coddle some people?

All that being said; lighten up, people! No matter what religion you are or aren’t, accept the greeting in the spirit in which it was given. Who cares if it doesn’t reflect your beliefs? The underlying message is one of well-wishing so accept it and move on with your life. I choose to be inclusive but don’t get all upset if someone is less inclusive. Why do we have to be so offended by stupid crap like this?

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The European Broken-Hearted Tour

I’ve decided that I’m a rock star. I’m a rock star and I’ve just finished my European tour named “The Broken-Hearted Tour.” We went on The Big Trip. We started by flying into London Heathrow Airport and driving to Oxford where we checked into a quaint hotel with soft beds and accommodating staff. We saw lots of beautiful old buildings and lots of college students starting back to school for the year. It’s a lovely town.

One day, instead of going on the planned tour, we took a bus into London. I love London. It’s busy and energetic and has a great feel to it. We saw all the great sites and took lots of pictures. I even got to  see Abbey Road and got a picture of myself walking across the famous crosswalk.

The following day we took a bus from Oxford, through London (to see more of the sites), and then to a train station where we boarded the train for a ride through the Chunnel. We arrived in Paris later that day and checked into an expensive but not really nice hotel. I mean, it was ok, but hardly worth what the tour company must have paid for it.

The next morning we took a bus tour around Paris and saw some amazing things. The rest of the day we spent being quiet; we had travelled around a lot and just wanted to enjoy being in one place for a while. The next morning we boarded buses to drive through Luxembourg to Germany to board the ship that was going to sail us through Germany for the next week.

We had to walk a little distance to get to where the ship was docked and by the time we got to our room on the second floor I felt awful. I was out of breath (no big surprise considering my size) and starting to feel nauseated. I vomited a few times but was mostly concerned about the pain in my chest, left arm, and left jaw. I knew I was having a heart attack but I didn’t want to face it. I kept my mouth shut and didn’t tell my friend about the pain. We went down to dinner during which I just tried to stay conscious. Finally dinner was over and I made my way back to the room where I vomited some more and generally felt lousy. I still had pain and was worried. I knew I should get help but just didn’t want it to be true and didn’t want to ruin the trip. I spent a completely sleepless night thoroughly miserable and, finally, in the morning I told my friend that I needed a doctor.

The doctor and ambulance workers arrived a short time later and they performed an EKG after which the doctor told me they were taking me to the hospital. Luckily all the other passengers had already left for the day’s excursion so I didn’t make too much of a scene as the settled me on the stretcher and pushed me into the ambulance. Shortly afterward, thanks to the emergency lights and sirens that got us through a traffic jam, I arrived at a hospital in Trier, Germany. They examined me and asked me questions and tried to convert pounds and inches into kilograms and centimeters. They told me I had indeed had a heart attack and would need to undergo a catheterization procedure.

They hurried me into the radiology department and performed the procedure during which they inserted a stint into one of my arteries that lead to the heart. Afterward they told me that the other two arteries were blocked and that I’d have to have a heart bypass surgery within six to eight weeks and that I’d have to stay in the hospital for five to seven days before they would allow me to travel home. They really wanted me to have the surgery there, but there was no way that was going to happen if I could help it. I wanted to be at home for something that major.

I spent the next two days in intensive care and then six days in a regular cardiac hospital ward. During my first day in the cardiac ward I received a visit from Mr. Billen, the lovely man from billing. A mere two days after a heart attack he informs me that I most likely won’t be allowed to leave the hospital until I’ve paid my bill. Ok, that scared me. Was I going to be stuck indefinitely in a German hospital? Luckily we had purchased trip insurance and after a few days of numerous phone calls we started the process for getting the hospital bill paid. My mother ended up having to wire 5,000 Euros to the hospital (this would later be reimbursed by the insurance company) thus ensuring they would indeed release me.

I spent eight days in a German hospital where most of the people did not speak English (although there were a few nurses who were pretty fluent). There was no TV to watch and I read in one day the only book I brought. It was decided that my friend would travel on with the tour rather than stay with me in Trier because the tour was already paid for and the hotel for her to stay in Trier would be an added expense. I was feeling physically ok and was bored out of my mind. I had plenty of time to worry about things and that’s just what I did. But I knew that stress would only make my situation worse so I tried to redirect my thoughts to more positive things. During this time I lived for the phone calls from home that would bring me updates on my friend who was travelling with me and how things were progressing through the insurance process.

One of the phone calls from home, however, brought quite a shock: my friend had had a seizure and was in the hospital. Oy. She spent the night in the hospital then continued on with the tour, although she felt terrible. By the time she got to Prague, she felt bad enough that she went back to the hospital where she spent another night and then was cleared to travel by the doctors.

During this time the insurance company was waiting to hear my release date to make the arrangements to travel home. Finally, on a Friday, they told me that I could leave the hospital on the following Tuesday and was free to travel on Wednesday. Now it was just the matter of getting plane tickets. Luckily the insurance company has some great employees and Terry was able to get us flights on Wednesday to return home. I would fly from Luxembourg to Amsterdam where I would meet up with my friend and we would travel to Minneapolis together then fly into Cedar Rapids. My first flight was delayed, however, and I missed my flight. But it worked out because they were pulling my friend off the plane because they questioned whether she was fit to fly. After a trip to the airport hospital (who even knew they had such a thing?) we had new tickets arranged for us and were back on track to get home that night.

Finally we arrived in Cedar Rapids after a very long day of travel. The next morning I called and made an appointment with a cardiologist for the following day. That day was today and I left the doctor’s office with the possibility of either having more stints put in or having bypass surgery. I REALLY didn’t want the surgery but I just got off the phone with the nurse and, after looking at the images from my catheterization, told me it would be surgery for me. Not what I wanted to hear. So now I’m facing a very scary surgery, a scar on my chest, and possibly the disfigurement of one of my tattoos.

I feel like I should have a t-shirt made up that says, “I went to Germany and I’ll I got was this stinking stint!”

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A Hairy Situation

Thursday I had an appointment to get cortisone shots in both knees because I have numerous bone spurs and acute arthritis. I got up, shaved my legs, took a shower; the usual personal care routine. I was very nervous about getting the shots because sticking needles in my knees just seemed, well, WRONG.

I was having the shots done in the radiology department of a local hospital so they could be done with x-ray guidance. I got to the hospital a little early and the radiologist was running a little late (of course) so I was sweating it out in the waiting room for about 25 minutes thinking the worst about the upcoming procedure.

I finally got into the room and met all the people who would be assisting the doctor. There was a total of four, yes four, people assisting the radiologist. I was surprised it was such an ordeal and that didn’t help quell my anxiety any. Finally the time came and I got situated on the world’s most uncomfortable platform. I was on my back with my knees slightly bent which is not the most comfortable position for me and it seemed to take forever for them to get started.

First he inserted a smaller needle with lidocaine to deaden the area. Then he inserted a bigger needle and kind of moved it around a little to get it in the right area. The lidocaine was really doing its job and I really didn’t feel too much. The first knee seemed to take forever then I switched around on the platform and he did the other knee. The second knee didn’t seem to take as long and before I knew it it was all over.

They had me stand up and walk around a little and assess my pain level. It was amazing; my right knee was pain free and my left knee (the one I had recently hyper-extended) was much better than it had been. I was over the moon with my “new” knees. The radiologist reminded me, however, that what I felt was the effect of the lidocaine and that it would wear off in about six hours. It would take a day or two after that for the steroid to kick in so the regular pain would return for a while.

So I thanked the team and went on my way. It was later that day that I was sitting in front of the TV that I noticed something horrible. I looked down at my right shin and saw it: a small row of hair that I had missed in my morning routine. Dammit!

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I was at the DMV the other day getting my middle name corrected on my driver’s license so it matches my passport. The office opened at 8:30 AM and I thought I was being smart by getting there a little after 8:00. Ha! There was already a line of about 40 people waiting outside the door. I almost left but decided I may as well get it over with and I dutifully joined the line at the end.

Shortly after I got there another woman wearing professional clothing got in line behind me; let’s call her Fancy. A short while later another woman, let’s call her Mouthy, got in line behind Fancy. Mouthy immediately began talking to Fancy, a woman she obviously didn’t know. Throughout the course of this conversation I learned that Mouthy used to work three jobs, one of which was home health care, and she was making $50,000 to $60,000 a year. She now works with autistic “kids” (this annoyed me because she followed that up with the detail that they were anywhere from 18 to 55 years old – NOT kids). Mouthy has a live-in boyfriend who owns his own business. She could have gotten a four-year degree but stopped after two years because she was too antsy.

All during this conversation, Fancy responded in a friendly way to all the information being spewed at her by Mouthy. The whole time this conversation was taking place I was feeling grateful that Fancy had arrived before Mouthy and saved me from the deluge of information. I know for a fact I would not have been as friendly as Fancy. I HATE it when strangers come up to me and try to strike up a conversation. I’m not interested in conversations with people I don’t know. I’m just not wired that way.

When I was employed at The Evil Empire, I took a few self-assessment classes. You know, the kind in which you’re assigned a color or label or animal that places you into usually one of four different categories that is supposed to tell you about how you interact with others. I was always labelled as a strong leader with little interest in small talk. Yep, that describes me to a T. I just feel like small talk is a waste of time and I have no patience for it. I do, however, understand that there are people who expect and like small talk and I try to comply, to a point. I will try to meet people halfway but I want them to meet me in the middle, too. But I’ve found that small talkers are relentless in their pursuit of small talk. Even though they are met with a lukewarm response from me, they keep forging ahead trying to draw me out.

I find it utterly ridiculous that Mouthy shared so much of her personal information with a complete stranger. She obviously has a compulsion for small talk that goes beyond the usual boundaries.

Thank you, Fancy, wherever you are for saving me from the clutches of Mouthy.

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As you know, I’m leaving on my Big Trip to Europe in October and I’m super excited. However, I’m also super anxious. I’m a large person and that brings about all kinds of difficult situations. At home I’m able to mitigate those but on a trip where I’m encountering all kinds of new situations it will be more difficult. I’m worried about walking, standing, sitting on the plane, getting on and off buses, fitting in restaurant chairs, etc. The anxiousness rounds off the edges of the excitement and that kind of pisses me off because anticipation is part of the fun of a trip.

Intellectually I know that worrying about things isn’t going to do anything but make myself crazy. I’m not going to fit in the plane seat any better because I sat here and worried about it for months. Walking around isn’t going to be any easier because I stayed awake at night with anxiety. But knowing it and actually stopping the worrying are two completely different things. I’m a master of worry and I can’t seem to stop. It’s very aggravating.

I have taken steps to help ensure it’s smooth sailing (get it? I’m cruising through Germany on a boat). I’m taking a portable chair so I can sit if I need to, even if there aren’t any seats around. I’m taking a cane to help me walk and just in case I hurt my knee (AGAIN!). I’m getting cortisone shots in my knees before the trip to help with my knee pain. And I’m prepared to possibly be pushed around the airport in a wheelchair. But I still feel anxious because I’m going into such a huge unknown. Usually, at home, I avoid situations unless I know what it’s going to be like. So this is a HUGE step for me.

Every day, when I find myself worrying about things, I try to take a deep breath and tell myself it’s futile to worry about it. It helps. I’m finding the closer I get to the trip, the more excited I get and the easier it is to stop worrying about it. Writing this is helping me, too. Just the act of writing down that worrying doesn’t help anything has helped me believe it. So thanks for listening.

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Super Size It

Strong People

Yesterday, in about 50 cities, fast food workers were on strike seeking higher wages and the right to unionize. The average worker makes the federal minimum wage of $7.25 an hour. That’s a little over $15,000.00 a year BEFORE taxes and health insurance payments. How in the world can people live on that? I am outraged by all the companies that pay only the minimum wage and am discouraged that the minimum wage is so low. These people are living below the poverty line and struggling to survive every day. They are asking for $15.00 an hour which sounds like quite a jump but I support their efforts and, although it’s a slim chance, hope they get what they want.

Of course I realize that if the companies give them a raise it will mean they will pass on the extra cost to the customers – that’s how big business gets to be big business. I saw a news report, however, that stated it would mean only a $.65 increase to the cost of a big mac. I think we can afford that in order to give people a better life. And perhaps, if people feel that $.65 increase is too much, they will make better food choices so we can also fight the epidemic of obesity. I know, I know, it’s not that simple. I also know that some low income people choose fast food because, many times, it’s more affordable than a balanced meal. But I still feel the slight increase in price is worth it if it means our fellow citizens can live easier lives as far as money is concerned. We really need to revisit minimum wage and make sure it is set at a level that helps ensure people are able to breathe easier. So many people are one or two paychecks away from being homeless. The programs that support the homeless population are expensive so either we pay a little now or a lot later. I vote for making a positive change NOW. We all do better when we all do better.

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Ongoing Knee Saga

Sigh. Here goes …

I hurt my knee AGAIN last Sunday, two days after I saw Dr. Hill. What funky thing did I do this time, you ask? I stretched out my leg to put on a pair of pants. Yeppers, that’s it. But I hurt it worse than I had hurt it before. I can’t straighten my leg all the way and can only put weight on it if I’m in a crouching position. Yes, I look ridiculous when I walk.

I called my regular doctor on Monday and explained that I couldn’t really make it in to the office. My doctor was on vacation but the nurse conferred with the on-call doctor and told me to ice it, wrap it, take Tylenol, and if it wasn’t better in three to five days to call back. I did those things and it wasn’t getting any better so I called the doctor this morning to get an appointment. Luckily he could see me this afternoon so I had a great friend help me get to the office.

The doctor looked at it, poked it, and moved my leg in a couple directions, asking me if it hurt when he moved it. He said he didn’t think anything was broken but it was possible it was a tendon issue or one of my bone spurs had broken off and was irritating it. He said I should get an x-ray and see the infamous Dr. Hill again. Joy. The nurse came in and said that Dr. Hill didn’t have any available appointments in the near future so they were going to confer over the phone. She then took me to get an x-ray. It was painful to have the x-rays taken but hopefully they will help some doctor to be able to tell me what’s wrong.

It’s all just so bizarre. When I try to straighten my leg, it hurts on the underside of my knee and on the left side of my knee. To cut down on walking I shipped my dog off to grandma’s house where, according to reports, she is being overly spoiled. I would expect nothing less.

My mother picked up my knee brace for me today (yes, the one that my doctor said didn’t exist) and I’ve been wearing that. Can’t say it helps me walk at all but at least I have it. I have to hurry up and get this knee healed so I can go on The Big Trip. What terrible timing. We have trip insurance so if something catastrophic has happened to my knee we can reschedule the trip but we’ve already bought tickets for various attractions and we would lose all that money. Plus, my friend I’m traveling with would probably never forgive me if we had to reschedule. But it is what it is and there’s not much I can do about it. I’ll follow the doctor’s instructions and take it easy but the rest of it is out of my control.