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Sunday, December 22, 2013

Surgery Day and the Aftermath

Looks like I am still here, and for that I am grateful.
Thursday, December 12, 2013: Surgery Day 

“The sun is shining bright this morning,” I tell mom as the cab driver enters the FDR drive. I took a picture of the sun between the Brooklyn and Manhattan bridges. I then posted on Facebook with a good morning message. The responses were fast and very encouraging. Well wishes for a successful surgery, and speedy recovery from friends. I fought back tears. Oddly, I felt calm with occasional nervousness. The sun was my guide. I knew I was in good hands.

“You’re in the wrong building; you need to go to East 63rd between 2nd and 3rd Avenue” the woman at the front desk of ambulatory surgery said to mom and I. “Really? This is where I had my surgery last time,” I replied. The woman checked my appointment, which was at 10:30. It was now 9:20am. She said my doctor was performing the surgery at East 63rd Street as opposed to Lenox Hill Hospital at 77th Street. We proceeded to the 6 train. In walking fast, I tried to keep the crutches from slipping from my hands. The train was crowded but thankfully, the next stop, 68th Street-Hunter College was ours. As we got off, I felt like we were in an episode of America’s Top Model, trying to find the address. We walked in the brisk cold, bypassing oncoming crowds. As we got to the address on East 63rd Street, it was a dentist office. “I think we’re at the wrong place,” mom said. I called my doctor’s office when I was told we had to be on East 64th Street. Thankfully, that was a block away.

“Welcome Ms. Fulton, we’ve been waiting for you,” the woman at the front desk said. “Good morning, we were told to go to Lenox Hill only to be told to come here. But the important thing is we’re here,” I said. The woman was very nice. We went to a room where I needed to be registered; that is where you get that cool ID bracelet for surgery. As a nice man verified my information, my doctor walks in. I signed some forms and off I went.

“You need to take THAT off now!” a nurse yelled at me while putting my things in my assigned locker. The “that” she was referring to was my crucifix I wear around my neck. The way she said it made me emotional.  She gestured in a way as if seeing it bothered her. I said okay and took it off putting it in my jacket pocket. The crabby nurse who I overheard say to someone she was “tired,” took my blood pressure. “It’s too high! This is no good!” I wanted to say, “No shit lady!” but I composed myself and looked away. I had my gown on already and was waiting to be called upstairs. When Ms. Crabby left, I read a few prayers from a prayer book and asked God to keep me calm. I put it in my bag in the locker. I tried to do so without Crabby seeing me. As I sat back down, another nurse approached me with mom. When they asked me how I was, I cried. The nurse put her hands on my shoulders and said, “Its okay honey.” I wiped the tears saying, “I can’t, I can’t…my nerves.” I then realized Ms. Crabby was there and she rubbed my back saying, “It’s gonna be alright.” I didn’t want her to touch me, but instead go away. Mom hugged me. The nice nurse comforted me as she escorted mom and I upstairs via elevator. As the doors opened, the nurse said, “This is where everyone wears pajamas, so you’ll feel right at home.” Everyone was in blue scrubs. I smiled. Once seated, nurse said she wanted to take my pressure again. “Think 120 over 80.” I did and my pressure was lower than that. Mom and the nurse were surprised. “Good job! Now you’re all set,” the nurse said happily. Once the IV was in my arm and I met the handsome anesthesiologist (his smile is infectious), it was time to go in for surgery.

“Let me fix that for you,” another nurse said fixing my gown. “We don’t want you exposed,” she said. As the nice nurse and mom headed to the elevator, I looked back at them saying, “Oh we can’t have that, I can’t be scaring people!” We all laughed as I went through the double doors.  The operating room looked like a spaceship. Lights everywhere and gadgets, and a narrow table that is intimidating to look at. I got on as a woman and man assisted me. We introduced ourselves. All I remember is mentioning how the room looked like a spaceship, and smelling the man’s cologne. “Oh he smells good,” I said to myself when I fell asleep. 

“Ms. Fulton, how are you feeling?” a nurse asked me. Everything was a blur, and I couldn't see her clearly. I said in a low voice, “Hi, I’m okay. Where is my mom?” She said they were sending her up to see me. She then asked about my level of pain. It was around a 6, at which the nurse gave me more medicine. “How are we doing professor?” Mom asks holding my hand. I didn’t realize I fell back to sleep. “Hi Mommy, I’m really happy you’re here.” Several nurses attended to me giving me water, apple juice, and a small apple cinnamon muffin. It was so hard to eat, I felt so nauseous. Eventually, another nurse assisted mom in dressing me, and wanted to show me how to walk using the crutches. After using the restroom, the nurse showed me how to walk with the crutches. That was challenging since I kept falling asleep every few seconds. 

“Wake up Dara, I need you to see where you’re walking,” the nurse said sternly. I felt frustrated, because I couldn’t help it. Whatever drug I was on to decrease the pain, it caused wooziness, sleepiness, and drowsiness. I don’t like those feelings. Once finished, I was given a “hip” wheelchair, a wheelchair specifically for hip surgeries. I thanked the nurse and mom for their help, and patience. A car service was called. It was time to go home. My brother helped me upstairs to our home. Luckily, it wasn’t as difficult as I thought. It just hurt.  I posted a picture mom took of me in the hospital, and posted on Facebook and Twitter. I wanted my friends to know I was okay, and thank them for their continuous support and love. Their love and encouragement means more to me than they know.

I thank you all.

Sunday, December 22, 2013: the Aftermath

It has been a week since surgery. The first few days were challenging, since I didn’t have my medicine. There was a mix up with my doctor’s office and the pharmacy. I took aspirin. I didn’t get my medicine until Monday. I kept my spirits up by collecting things around the house to recycle, and search crafting ideas for those recycled items. Talking with friends on Facebook and Twitter has been a big help. I appreciate the check-ins, messages, and “get well” wishes. I had made some handmade Christmas cards for friends before surgery. Their surprise made me smile. I received some nice cards as well. I like doing nice things for people. This year is different than last, because I am focusing on those who care about me, and ignoring the rest. I have moved on which is something to smile about. After Tuesday, I became ill and stressed out. My living conditions aren’t the best, which have taken a toll on my family. Dealing with incompetence and ignorance doesn’t make it easier. I haven’t rested well, which plagues my recovery process. I have my nostalgic moments, and feel sad I am not into the holidays this time around. This year hasn’t been a good year. I’m glad it’s ending. I pray for a happier new year 2014.

Today I am pushing through the pain and sadness by doing what comforts me most, writing. I missed it. Tomorrow is my post-surgery doctor’s appointment. I don’t want to go, but I will because I know it’s the right thing to do. All I want now is rest. I hope to get that this week without any more incidents, let us hope.  

Wednesday, December 11, 2013

The Day before Surgery (Part II) and the Want List

Here we go again. The nerves are elevated, emotionally I can cry on a whim, and mentally feel tired. With that said, tomorrow is my hip arthroscopy surgery.  I will be at Lenox Hill hospital. I don't have to be admitted, and get to go home after the procedure. I have my crutches ready. I can’t help but feel silly that I am this scared. I just had this surgery last year. I think I’m more nervous about the anesthesia. Going under is always a concern. Some people don’t wake up. I pray I do. However, if I didn’t I am satisfied knowing I lived a good life. I know God will be with me regardless so I shouldn’t have any fear. Of course, I prefer to wake up since there are still so many things I want to do. I want to see New Year 2014, and have set projects aside to keep me occupied. There are still people to meet. I haven’t met my love yet (I know he’s out there). I guess I’m not ready to die after all. It’s all in God’s hands. I will continue to remain positive.

I usually don’t write a Christmas list since I am an adult. I usually write a list of goals I hope to accomplish for the New Year. I’m going to do something different and write a list of wants. I don’t mind sharing. I must warn you some things on this list may seem childish, but it’s what I want so here goes:

To feel happier and be healthier
See more of the sun
Be employed
To teach ESL again
Finish and publish my book
To have my own address
Take more pictures
Learn calligraphy
Walk on the beach
Discover new places (example: neighborhoods)
Have a bigger teddy bear (no offense “Snow cone” lol)
Continue to craft and bring nature to my room
Collect more rocks, seashells, coffee cans, and Metrocards
Buy more glitter
A new laptop
Build on current friendships
Meet new people/network
Join clubs
Date/have a boyfriend
Attend graduate school
A new hairstyle
New clothes
Have a pet (a dog or a bunny)
Learn how to drive
Study/work/go abroad
Make people laugh and smile
Love more people/love self more

New Year 2014, I will wait for your arrival. Here's to getting better first.

Sunday, December 1, 2013

December 1st: 11 Days until Surgery and My Mental Process

I remember when it was December 2011 and I was preparing (mentally) for surgery. I was
so scared and cried a lot. I just wanted to get through it. January 2012 arrived and I had the procedure done. I recuperated until March when I took my first steps outside. I anticipate the same this time around. I have a better attitude about it than I did in 2011, and look forward to getting better. I am still scared even when a part of me feels I shouldn’t. I haven’t cried, yet my nervousness has increased some. I feel a little disappointed. I have finally started to enjoy myself by going out more, and appreciating the treasures life gives us. I know this will be a minor setback, but I will miss my scavenger hunting for recycled things for my art project. I am worried about the outcome. Hip replacement is always in the back of my mind. When that happens, I focus on my future endeavors. I focus on what I will create from all the things received and collected. Music and daydreaming helps too.

November was a nice month. Thanksgiving was nice too. A simple dinner from my mom, laughter from bro, and receiving free cardboard boxes from a local store, made the day nice. Simple pleasures are priceless! I already started painting and making a mess with glitter. That is the best part. I still love browsing the internet and watching YouTube. It has great how-to videos. Online webinars and classes continue to cross my email. I take note of them. Graduate school program offers cross my email too. I take note of that as well. I admit I miss school. It’s my comfort in many ways. I promised to give myself a break from academia and allow self to have fun, creatively. New Year 2014 is just around the corner; one never knows what the year will bring. I smile at the thought. I look forward to the New Year, because I have so many things I want to do and finish doing, such as my book. I didn’t reach the 50,000-word mark for National Novel Writing Month, but I did reach 25,178 words. Reaching that amount is a milestone in itself and I am proud. I will continue working on my book and pursue publication.  I also want 2014 to be the year I find employment, a new home, and love. Again, the possibilities are endless.

Peace and reflection are two things that I hold dear to my heart, my being. With so many tragedies happening so frequently, I am grateful to be here. No one is except from dying, and I know I am no different. I live in an area where just recently two people lost their lives steps away from my home. There is a lot of sadness, anger, frustration, killings, death, and disbelief. I feel humanity has taken a back seat and evil has revealed itself fully and completely. I still believe this world is beautiful, but it has its flaws. We have flaws. The important thing is to focus on the positive things life has to offer. I finally see that now. I am not fussy, nor do I look for perfection. I accept people as they are even if I don’t agree with their actions. I apologize when I’m wrong, and walk away when I am wronged. I focus on helping people in an effort to make a difference in the world. I believe I have and will continue to do so even if I’m standing alone. I am not afraid of standing alone anymore. Sometimes that is necessary. Life is so short. I want to live life to the fullest and be happy. Happiness creates change, and change creates newness. Peace with self is everything. I don’t look for acceptance, because I accept me. I don’t care if I am disliked, talked about, or criticized. I am a simple woman who loves to love, smile, and be creative. I make no apologies for that.

Tomorrow is my pre-operation doctor's appointment. The countdown continues. Here's to a good week.

Friday, November 22, 2013

The Adventures of Dara Kirstene

The past couple of weeks have been nice. I’ve been doing everything I can to keep my spirits up, and enjoy this fall season. I also want to do as much, and see as many people as I can before surgery next month. I feel differently this time around. Attitude is everything. So let’s take a walk into my adventure shall we?

Embracing Fall

I’ve always liked to pick leaves. I used to do it a lot as a child. I like it more in the fall, because of its changing colors. The leaves this year are unique and prettier. I grabbed some plastic bags and let the collecting begin. I plan to preserve them and possibly display them on my wall. I visited some local parks and admired the changing trees. I love nature. Walking along scattered multi-colored leaves makes me feel happy. The weather has been nice, in the 60s and 50s. I know winter will be here before we know it. In some ways, I’m glad my surgery is happening before winter begins so when it arrives I’ll be indoors. Snow and ice aren’t my friends. They are part of the reason why my hip is the way it is.
Leaf picking is more than just admiring its colors. It reminds me of something I used to do, something that maintained my happiness. I feel I’ve forgotten how to be happy when I became an adult. I’m going back to the days when life was simple and easy. I cannot control my circumstances to a certain extent, but I can control how I deal with it. I reflected a lot while walking through tree lined blocks admiring the leaves on the ground. In the park, I enjoyed watching the sun reflect its light through the hanging tree limbs. Its shadow effect is pretty.

The Artist in Me
One of the things I didn’t do during my first surgery is prepare for it mentally. During the recovery process, I became bored and missed being outside. This time I decided that won’t be the case. I love art, and used to create things in the past such as drawing pictures, painting, and doing crafts. Unfortunately, I stopped. I feel art is a great way in the healing process both physically and emotionally. This year hasn’t been a good one for me. In many ways, I’m glad it’s coming to a close. During recovery this time, I don’t want to feel sad or bored. So, I will turn to art. This month, I’ve been creating various videos on YouTube. These are different from my video blogs. Instead, I’m playing with video editing by using pictures, previous videos, and music to create a mini movie or documentary. The first one I did is about my experience during Hurricane Sandy. The other is about the MTA and what we pay for, and just days ago I did one about my appreciation to PIX11 news. I recently won a contest with PIX11 news in sharing why I love living in Brooklyn! I'm honored, because I not only love watching their news, but the reporters inspire me to do what I do.

My art project, creating things out of used items, is the newest edition to tapping deeper into my creativity. I’ve been asking friends on and off Facebook, to donate any old, used items they no longer want. These items vary from buttons, bottle tops, beads, and card board, anything I can make things with. Some of my ideas include but not limited to making jewelry boxes, tissue box, picture frames, handmade books, collages, and much more. I downloaded some free how-to crafts worksheets for ideas. I feel so blessed by the overwhelming response from friends on Facebook. I’ve been receiving packages of all kinds of things for my art project. I didn’t expect such a response, but so appreciative to everyone who has contributed. I will begin this project before surgery, but after I complete my manuscript.

I’m currently at 13,900+ words. The goal is to have 50,000 words by the end of November. I’m pushing to accomplish this goal. I won’t rest until I do.

Peace and Hidden Treasures
I thank God for blessing me with peace. It’s been a long time since I had it. Although, there are still so many things that I wish were better, I finally accepted it and focus on what I can control, me. I have been reaching out to people, talking more than usual (offline), and going out. My going out is unique in that I am not partying or dancing the night away (someday I will). My going out is simply walking. I walk and pay attention to things I normally would ignore. Take our subway for instance. I love the old art many subways possess. I collect Metrocards, mainly for the various messages on the back of the cards. People throw away used cards, which are left scattered on subway platforms or near Metrocard vending machines. I now look for them and collect. I also like doing this, because the duplicates I can use for my art project.
I love taking pictures of the city and of course nature. That is a gem in itself. When I meet with friends, I laugh more. We walk, talk about random stuff, and enjoy the moment. That’s what life is about, the happy moments. I share a little more, I’m open to new friendships and building on current ones. I focus on happiness rather than sadness. My hip always reminds me the bad shape she is in. I hurt all the time, some days worse than others. On the worse days, I stay home and rest. Well not really, I write and chat on Facebook (giggles). When the pain is doable, I go out even if it’s for a few hours. It’s an accomplishment. I pat myself on the back a little more, and thank myself for being me. I appreciate the small things such as capturing the hidden treasures of the city, to creating things, and allowing myself to just be myself.

With that said, here’s to being silly and pushing pain aside. I’m having fun my way. Countdown to surgery is on.

Monday, November 4, 2013

It's November. Happy NaNoWriMo!

Happy National Novel Writing Month (NaNoWriMo)! I am proud to say I am participating this year in trying to accomplish writing a novel of 50,000 words. The goal is to have a completed manuscript by the end of the month. This is by far not an easy task. Luckily, I have a lot of writing material, but putting it together takes work. I have a long way to go with only over 6,000 words down so far. One thing I like about this event is the support you can receive from other writers both online and off. They have several write ins where participants can meet up to work on their masterpiece. I look forward to attending to some of them.

So what am I writing about?

I am writing a book about reflection with a touch of inspiration. I want my book to be unique and not a "how to" type of read. I will not write or claim that if you listen to what I say you will feel better. I am not a psychologist nor am I a wisdom-filled guru that can promise good fortune. *smile* This is a book that tells my story with a twist. I will share how reflection has helped me get through life's trials and tribulations. I hope for it to be inspiring and heartfelt. One thing I can guarantee is it will be colorful. I am a colorful person.

For me, this experience is not about being competitive or being a bestseller novelist. Writing a book is a personal goal I've had for years. It's exciting to be my own cheerleader in making my dream a reality. All I want is to have an ISBN number. Once I receive that, I know I am a published author and I will be so proud!

Here's to being a writer who writes!