It was about five years ago now. I had just returned from work after my surgery and I was meeting someone I didn't know at a coffee shop near the Verizon Center in DC. (This was one of those this I didn't tell my mom about, but she's probably reading this....)
Outside of some strange connections online, we didn't have a ton in common at the time, except for one glaringly obvious similarity.
We both survived brain surgeries.
I remember meeting Lauree like it was yesterday. She had just started her hug tour and we were meeting up because I'd never met someone who had survived something similar to what I'd been going through.
I don't remember everything we spoke about, but earlier today, I had a flash back to something she said.
See, at this point, Lauree was at the 5 year post surgery mark and had stopped celebrating different milestones because they weren't as important anymore.
I realized, I'm nearly to that same milestone. I'm about to hit my five year mark and I nearly forgot. Lauree was right.
Even though we suffer through MRIs, never ending doctors appointments, and, for me, a sizable amount of medication to counteract the spinal cord damage, it's ok. I'm ok. I finally feel calm.
For that, I say thank you Lauree. I don't think I could have gotten to this point without you.
I am super excited to announce that Old Town Suds is participating in the City Paper's WineYards at Nats Park. Over 20 wineries will be providing wines for festival attendees to sample (and purchase) plus your favorite wine soap store will be there too!
Wineries & vineyards include: Opici Wines, Red Ink Imports, Senator Wines, Folio Fine Wine Partners, Vina Bujanda, Joao Portugal Ramos, Franco Espanoles, Vini Inc, Tradewinds Specialty, and more to be announced soon!
As I write this, it's my 4 year brain surgery anniversary. We decided to celebrate with a trip to see my soaps at The National Archives! This was my first trip to this particular museum. I've been to all the other Smithsonians but Archives has eluded me during my nearly 10 years in the DC area.
Old Town Suds' soap is being displayed as part of the Spirited Republic exhibition - a special exhibit all about prohibition. It's the perfect way for soap made with beer and wine to make its debut at Archives.
Since it is a special day, I was trying to find something fun and exciting to celebrate being alive - I decided we had to see my soap in DC. Around lunch time we ventured into the city on this super spectacular Spring day. It was sunny and we couldn't have asked for a better day to drive in.
We went straight to the gift shop after parking. It took a bit of looking to find our soaps because they only had FOUR bars in stock. Talk about selling quickly. Technically....photos aren't allowed in Archives but somehow, our iPhones had a flaw and took some photos all on their own! Apple really needs to work on this glitch.
After the excitement, we decided to tour the Prohibition exhibit. We were wondering if there would be anything on moonshine since Joel is from the county in Virginia that is known for its grain alcohol. There was a lot on various political movements, you see copied of the amendments that outlaw, and then reinstate, liquor. It was interesting and very much worth the trip. As we were getting ready to leave the exhibit we see this:
THAT'S OUR MERLOT WINE SOAP! IN THE EXHIBIT! I couldn't believe it! There we are! I think I screamed.
There you have it. That's how we spent Big Brain Anniversary 2015.
A few years ago, actually, not that long after my surgery; I met this blogger named Jane. I'd been following her blog somehow. (I really can't tell you HOW I found out about her.) Fast forward to the weekend of the Super Bowl, and there was this blogger meet up.
I had just started working on taking Old Town Suds to market so it was a good time to test out some selling points. I met a few other bloggers and we have all stayed in touch in carrying degrees. But - what spawned from that informal meeting at Caffee Amouri surrounded by uber delicious coffee, was a small business group.
Over the next few months our meeting grew from every so often to monthly to "omg I need a relief from the show schedule let's get wine after the show". We've become known for our coffee and wine habits. Which later turned into coffee, wine and detox on scrumptious juice habits.
This past summer, our meetings included our husbands. They started to wonder what we actually accomplished at our meetings. Was it just to hangout? (yes) Just to cheer each other on? (yes) Consume mass amounts of cheese? (hell, yes) But from weddings, births of first babies, unexpected loss (be prepared to ugly cry), and huge business wins - we've been there to support each other as we grow our businesses.
This past weekend, we gathered for our first overnight retreat. We'd always talked about doing something but understanding the handbag pockets only go so deep (and I'm rather picky about hotels), we ended up a Housman B&B, otherwise known as my dining room and guest rooms.
Now that I am almost 3 years post-surgery I have a few updates to this post.
Keeping My Hair Short
I really want to say that I've been keeping my hair short because of the style and because I like it. Both are mostly true. But, a big part of me has kept it short because of being scared something else will happen. I think it is a way for me to be prepared & something that I can control. Three months ago, I made the decision to actually start growing my hair out again. It has been a process and now I constantly feel a little "shaggy" after nearly 3 years with 3 inch hair.
Ignore what anyone else says and grow your hair back when you are ready. It's just hair. If it makes you feel better keeping it short, do it! If you wish your hair was back to what it was prior, find a great stylist and talk about extensions. The goal is to do a little something that helps you recover. Only YOU will know what that is.
Invest In A Heating Pad
I still live by my heating pad. On the days the headaches are bad or my body just aches I reach for the heating pad before meds every time. We have an older version of this one & I love it! I really should keep one at my office for the days I have body pain but I haven't done that yet.
Get Your Eyes Checked
My Neurosurgeon & Neurologist didn't mention this to me but my mom who is a former nurse did. It's important to stay on top of your eye exams after surgery. Your field of vision can change and it is important to get this checked. I get my eyes checked more often now than I ever have. Without my vision I would have a lot of difficulty making soap!
Finding a Doctor who is willing to listen takes a lot of time and effort on your part. Call, research, interview, and do whatever it takes until you find your match. I've gone through more doctors than I can count but I finally found a PCP that listens, emails with me, and will take her time to help me find the right specialists when I need them. To me, it is worth every extra penny that I spend. She is able to connect me to doctors that are like her and will help me stay at my peak.
I am lucky because we have great company-provided insurance. I know everyone is in different situations so find the best person that you can afford, is on your plan, and that you feel comfortable with. Sometimes that means driving for a bit ex: my PCP is in DC when we live 60 miles away.
How cool is this? I found this site via pinterest and you can turn and place into a watercolor, topographical or tone styled print. The DC area is below. I typed in Old Town Alexandria's zip code (22314), selected watercolor and this is what I got!
The updates have been lacking for many reasons in April. The first is how many times can you post that you are getting better? Plus, there are ups and downs of recovery that are sometimes hard to talk about. Please forgive me :-)
My Last Day at Home
Friday was my last full day at home. On Monday, I returned to work armed with my slip from my surgeon. This is the second time in my life I have used a permission slip at work. In case you are wondering, the first said I was having brain surgery. I had no clue how my body was going to respond to this. It is a big change from hanging around the apartment most of the day. I've been working on making sure my strength is where it should be and I have the stamina to work a full day. For the most part, I have returned to all of my volunteer activities to help with the transition. My only concern about all of this has been the deadly metro ride that I take into and out of the city each day. There is more on that necessary evil below. My body is handling the walking, carrying light things and most activities pretty well! I've graduated to picking up our 15 pound turkey (otherwise known as Scarlet) too.
Oh, Metro - I Still Hate You
Metro, Metro, Metro. I did NOT miss you in the almost two months I didn't have to set foot in your stations. Saturday, April 30th I decided to give it a go again and the first trip up to U street wasn't too terrible - other than your employees yelling at me because you didn't announce the train was going out of service. My second trip, back from U street, just hurt. The jerky nature of bad drivers made my neck and titanium mess just feel absolutely horrid. Thank goodness I had my iPhone games to concentrate on so I didn't focus on the pain.
Commuting in has been interesting. It takes me about 40 minutes on metro before we reach our stop - it should take 20 but that is metro for you. By the time I reach the office, the ride has exhausted me. I have started treating myself to some coffee to help feel a little more normal and to get my energy levels back up before work begins. If it weren't for metro, I think I would be fine returning to work full-time. I am hoping I don't have to give into driving into the city during the summer but it is starting to look like I may have to.
Hitting the Road Running
On my one month post surgery date, I just didn't feel like I could stand running or really doing much of anything, so I gave myself a few more days to get back to running and exercising. Running still feels like it will hurt, especially with how much it can hurt to take metro. But, I have gotten back on the elliptical and able to do a decent amount of time on it! I'm walking everywhere I can. I even put in over 5 miles walking around DC and Alexandria on Saturday. I would love to be able to run a 5K by the end of summer but I think I need to aim for a later date; especially with my body getting used to getting back to work. Maybe I'll aim for a Turkey Trot or something else at the start of the holiday season? At least then I would have an excuse to eat all the mashed potatoes I want!
For those of you who don't know what nerd prom is, it is one of the days that everyone in DC looks forward to each year. It is actually called The White House Correspondents' Association Dinner. What I love about the dinner is the humorous spin that is put on current events. For instance, I am assuming most of you have seen the movie The King's Speech, well, President Obama made a joke about how a sequel is being made - The President's Speech. Here is the trailer:
Yes, I love politics, but isn't that just hysterical!?! The trailer kinda makes me wish that actually was a movie - it would be rather entertaining.
That is a recap of what has happened over the last month. I am hoping to return to non-brain surgery posts as I start getting back to my "normal" routine. I can't believe it is May already. I feel like it should still be March and my mother should still be here taking care of everything. Here is to a great May!
Next Thursday is NASAs next tweetup at their Headquarters here in DC, and I was selected to go! As a want-to-be astronaut, this may be the highlight of my year (don't tell the newly minted husband this). The walls of our apartment are decorated with NASA items. I have a model Saturn 5 rocket on the bookshelf and my framed wings and group picture from Space Camp are hanging above my desk. I love flying and space and all things NASA.
If you are around Thursday, July 29th from 3:30-5pm EDT tune into NASA TV where you will see Joel and I talking (and tweeting) to Astronaut TJ Creamer!
Today is my last day in the office (for the next two weeks) and I am about to embark on a big adventure. On Saturday, I am getting married to Joel Housman! After the big day we are spending a few days in DC and heading off to SXSW for a little geek fun. Yes, we are honeymooning at SXSW.
Photo by Maria Vicencio
There will be updates from SXSW, but, until then it is auf Wiedersehen.
The front page of the local Washington Post site today pretty much sums up today:
Since we were on a 2 hour delay this morning, I slept in till 8am! I left the apartment by 8:30 (the normal time I get to the office). I thought by giving myself TWO full hours I would be able to make it to work by my start time of 10:30. By 9:20am, I gave up. I had made it A metro stop. Yes. one. single. metro. stop. in my 50 minutes commute.
Checking Twitter was a lifesaver. I found:
Then a train derailed!
I am so glad I turned around and went back home this morning. My biggest question is, HOW was metro NOT prepared for the commute this morning? Yesterday was a clear day. The Fed wasn't open. They should have been working more diligently to clear the tracks. This is inexcusable. To reward us, we get a fare hike on March 1st. Thank you WMATA.
I will be updating the sideshow as the blizzard continues. These pictures were taken mostly from the apartment in Alexandria, VA between February 5th & 6th. We just ventured outside to get the view from street level.