I finally broke down and paid the big bucks to see a doctor over my digestive issues. He said it’s most likely a virus, and I’m doing all the right things, but to start taking Imodium. I’d been taking Pepto, but I guess Imodium’s different in that it helps slow things down and bring everything together, if you know what I’m talking about. In the last few days that I’ve been Imodiuming it up, I’ve found that it also makes my butt minty fresh; a feeling that I do not quite enjoy. I have a love-hate relationship with mint that leans heavily on the hate side.\r\n\r\nAs a kid, I really didn’t care for traditional candy canes. I’d eat them when my friends were eating them in order to fit in, or I’d eat them in the days leading up to Christmas when they were the only candy option and I wanted a sugar fix. Come Christmas morning, Santa would leave fruity candy canes on the tree to save me from my peppermint hell. Altoids came out when I was in high school, and one day at lunch, my cousin’s friend pulled out the little red tin and told us that they were the strongest mints she’s ever had, and would we like to try one? I didn’t, but I also didn’t want to look like a loser, so I grabbed one of the chalky mints and popped it into my mouth. I immediately wanted to spit it out, but I sucked it up as it burned a hole into my tongue and tears welled in my eyes. When no one was looking, I spit it out into the bushes.\r\n\r\nI have no transition into this paragraph: I have thick, wavy hair, and as a youngster, it ran down to my butt. While it was fun to have Rapunzel-ish hair, it also grew like a weed and had to be trimmed fairly often. To save on costs, my mom would do this herself in our bathroom. It took forever, and because it was so long, I was made to stand throughout the entire process so that she could reach down to cut it. Despite trying not to, every single time, I’d lock my knees, and half-way through the haircut, would suddenly be filled with the overwhelming sensation of smelling mint (which is weird on its own, but even weirder considering that I have no sense of smell). As soon as mint entered my nostrils, my vision would become blotchy, or come to a pinpoint, and I’d meekly tell my mom that I was about to faint. I have never actually fainted all the way, but without fail, I always “smell” mint in the moments leading up to a potential passing out. I’ve never met anyone else who’s had that sensation, so I’m not sure why it happens to me. Must be my brain creating, what it thinks is, the worst possible scent in a moment of despair.\r\n\r\nHere comes the part where I love mint. I had just graduated from 8th grade and was at a farm in Savannah, Georgia. We were taking a tour of the grounds, and stopped by a row of mint plants. The leader told us to pick a leaf, dig our nails into it, and take a smell.\r\n\r\nDespite my anosmia, I went through the motions so as not to be rude. However, as I brought the small leaf up to my nose and inhaled, I actually did smell mint! I was elated, and carried that leaf with me throughout the rest of the tour, taking whiffs along the way. Within minutes, my nose remembered that it wasn’t supposed to work, and I could no longer smell that leaf no matter how hard I tried. I have no idea why I was able to smell at that exact moment, but I will forever cherish that memory and the feeling of smelling.\r\n\r\nFor that gift I was given 18 years ago, I am eternally grateful to mint. I guess I can put up with a little tingle after a poop for a few more days.\r\n\r\n
I spent most of last weekend in Northern California with my family. My cousin, Ashley, is getting married in Portland next month, so my mom and I went up for her bridal shower and to spend some time catching up with our kin. Ashley’s actually my third cousin (I think?). Our moms are first cousins. As a child, I’d known of most of my third cousins’ existence on that family branch, but it wasn’t until the summer of 2007 that I really became close with Ashley, along with her first cousins (my third cousins?), Nicole and Danielle. Now that you’re thoroughly confused, I’ll continue.\r\n\r\nThis past weekend was the first time the four of us were all back together in six years. The days were full of good food, tons of alcohol, and a lot of laughs. It was also full of a poor digestive system on my part. I had had some issues before we headed up there, but it definitely wasn’t clearing up. I’m sure downing margaritas with every meal didn’t help either. Despite the annoyance of it, I had to chuckle to myself, because the last time my cousins and I were all together, it had ended with me being best buds with my toilet. Maybe they’re poisoning me?\r\n\r\nIn August of 2007, I went on a family cruise to the Mediterranean to celebrate the 50th Anniversary of my Great Aunt and Uncle (Ashley, Nicole, and Danielle’s grandparents). During the days, I was sightseeing with my mom, but back on the ship at night, I was hitting the bars with my cousins. Our final docking point was Barcelona, and we all decided to stay there a few days before heading back home. During this time in Spain, my mom and I spent more of the daytime with our family, since we were no longer obligated to attend the separate tours that each of us had signed up for during the cruise.\r\n\r\nOn one such day, we all sat down to a delicious seafood lunch of clams and mussels. We then decided to walk the shore and share pitchers of sangria at a dockside restaurant. Afterwards, most of the family decided to catch a ride back to the hotel, but Nicole, Danielle and I, just getting our buzz on, opted instead to walk back home and grab a beer or two along the way. We stopped at the first bar we saw and ordered a beer each. They were so cheap, that I remember only throwing down a few coins, which covered the drink and tip. Armed with this knowledge, we made a pact right then and there that we would stop at every bar we encountered along the way home to have a beer.\r\n\r\nWe did.\r\n\r\nAnd I lost count.\r\n\r\nBut I do recall being at one of the last stops, and feeling the urge to vomit. I’d figured I had finally met my limit. The restrooms in that bar turned out to be downstairs in a dank, blueish-green basement, which was not easy to stumble down in my toasty disposition. Somehow, I made it down unharmed, did my business, felt better, and continued on with our journey, not letting on that I puked. When we returned to the hotel, we made plans to sleep off our drunk and meet back up for dinner and dancing in the nearby clubs.\r\n\r\nSleeping would have been lovely, if only my stomach would have allowed it. I quickly realized that my vomiting from earlier was surprisingly not, in fact, due to the copious amounts of beer I had consumed, but rather, to food poisoning. I was constantly running to the toilet, and it wasn’t to puke. Suffice it to say, I skipped out on dinner, and sadly, missed the nightlife I had heard so much about.\r\n\r\nRegardless of my intestinal issues, that trip was one of the best of my life, and I am so grateful for the opportunity to bond with my cousins. The four of us are scattered across California, and it’s a shame we can’t all be together more often, but I cherish the times that we are. It’s always a blast for me! Figuratively and literally.\r\n\r\n
I wish I could say that the marathon was the only time I peed my pants as an adult, but sadly, it is not. Since I’ve been a child, I’ve had this problem where I do small leaks of urine when I’m having too much fun hiding or being mischievous. Let me put it this way: when I would play hide-and-go-seek, I’d be silently laughing to myself so hard, that I’d ever so lightly pee my pants. I never grew out of that. Which makes me wonder if it’s not necessarily bladder issues, but just that I’m perpetually six years old.\r\n\r\n In any case, I had more than a slight leak one time back in college. (I think of college students as kids now that I’m old, but technically, college students are primarily legal aged adults, so I’m still counting this as an “adult” experience.) I was hanging out with two of my Cross Country buddies, Leti and Mike, in Mike’s dorm room, which happened to be just one floor down from my dorm. For some reason, Mike left Leti and me alone in his room for a decent amount of time. Noticing that he had hardly any clothes hanging in his closet, we thought it’d be brilliant if we stole his clothes (and his Nabisco cookies that also happened to be in there) and trudged them up to my room.\r\n\r\nWith an armful of jeans and shirts, we bolted out of his room, slammed through the staircase doors, and laughed wholeheartedly as we climbed the stairs to my floor. That’s when it happened. I began urinating, and it wasn’t just a tad. I instantly dropped to my knees in the hopes that I could withhold the flood that was trying to pour out of me. Leti thought I tripped, and I didn’t correct her. Instead, I urged her to continue, reassuring her that I was okay and I’d be right behind her. Fortunately, I was able to control my bladder, but when I stood, I knew that the damage was done. The dampness I felt between my legs was mortifying, and I was grateful that the door to my room was right next to the staircase. I deposited my armful of clothes on my bed next to Leti where we continued laughing and catching our breath. I caught a glance of myself in the mirror, and saw that my pee soaked pants weren’t noticeable at all. However, even without having a sense of smell, I knew the stench of urine could creep up at any moment, and I had to get out of those jeans! I quickly grabbed a pair of shorts and underwear, and ran to the bathroom without explaining where I was going or why. I came back clad in shorts and shamefully muttered something about being hot from running up the stairs and wanting to change into something cooler. Luckily, Leti completely bought that story, and I was able to toss my stinky clothes in the back of the closet.\r\n\r\nI never did tell Leti the truth. At the time, it was entirely too embarrassing to confess, and as time went on, it was hard to come up with reasons to ever bring it up. I can just imagine: “Hey, you wanna hear about the time I peed my pants with you? Well, not that you peed your pants, but there was this time that I wet myself and you happened to be there…”\r\n\r\nYeah, that wasn’t gonna happen. But exposing my shameful secret a decade later on a blog? Now that I can do!
Partly because I can’t smell, but mostly because I’m gross and find farts humorous, Greg and I let the gas fly freely in our household. While folding laundry together the other night, Greg let a particularly stinky one rip. With each disgusted face he made, I laughed harder and harder. It’s always awesome for me to watch others suffer through horrid smells, and this time was especially funny because Greg did it to himself. He took a few steps toward me in anticipation for tickling revenge, and as he did, I inhaled, and suddenly choked on a burning sensation in the back of my throat. I let out a soft cough, thinking I must have had a weird tickle or spur of allergies over some dust microbe. That’s when Greg went back to his side of the bed to fold and said something to the effect of, “Oh god it burns.” I paused over the wonder and realization of me actually experiencing a fart, so I promptly asked him, “Do farts really burn? Like, can you actually feel a burning sensation in the back of your throat?” To which he responded with a this-is-common-sense-tone, “Yeah. It’s methane gas.”\r\n\r\nI must have asked him three times to clarify exactly how it feels, because I couldn’t believe that I may have actually experienced a real fart, but it’s true. I was ecstatic! I quickly walked into his fart zone in the hopes of feeling the burning sensation again, but a few deep breaths later, I knew it wasn’t going to happen. Smells are fleeting with me, and usually entail less smelling and more tingling in my nose, tastes on my tongue, or currently, a burn in my throat. However, that didn’t dampen the initial joy of actually semi-smelling a fart.\r\n\r\nAs grossed out as I’m sure most of you are by this point (if any of you are still reading), I’ve been trying to smell farts my whole life! In high school, my cousin would let a good one out on her mattress while we sat on her bed doing homework, and I’d immediately rush up, plant my nose firmly into the bed, and hope that I’d smell her alleged rose scented farts. For all I know, her farts really did smell like a beautiful rose garden, so I totally back her on that claim.\r\n\r\nI am so intrigued with smells, and it’s so incredibly difficult for those around me to explain what they’re like. So please, those of you that read and are good with words, I beg of you to attempt to explain to me the smell of farts. Or just share a good fart story if you want. Your grossness is accepted here.\r\n\r\n \r\n\r\nMy idol, Jenny, The Bloggess, attempted to explain to me what blood smells like. Think she nailed it?\r\n\r\n
I was told that while the stitches in my ankle’s tendon are holding, my tears have likely not healed. I did not find this surprising, as my body has competed against my desire to be healthy and normal my entire life. Next week, I will be undergoing a natural healing process where my blood’s platelet rich plasma will be separated and injected into my tendon in the hopes that those beneficial growth factors will speed up the healing process. In the meantime, it’s two more months of complete inactivity (besides regular walking, and thankfully, no wearing of the boot).\r\n\r\nWhile grateful for an answer, this means that I will have to forgo the marathon I had planned to race in this coming Sunday. Being that I wasn’t able to train properly anyway, it’s probably more of a blessing. Also, surprise, surprise, I managed to gain not one, but two ingrown toenails over the last week and a half that has disallowed me from wearing any shoes. (I wore a pair for three hours last week, and I paid for it horribly that night.) My toes would not have held up for 26.2 miles anyway!\r\n\r\nI used to get ingrown toenails frequently growing up, but never as throbbing or painful as the ones I have now. I believe this has to do with the fact that, up until a year and a half ago, my toenails were thick and yellow. (My guess: the thicker the shard of nail to dig out, the easier it is to remove.) When I was young, doctors said that nothing could be done about my nails because it was genetic, and so I endured years of embarrassing yellow toenails.\r\n\r\nAs a child, it was hard enough fitting in while being painfully shy, abnormally tiny, and possessing a nose that was far too big for my face. Unfairly, but fittingly, I was given disgusting, embarrassing, crumbly, yellow toenails to mix into my cocktail of ailments. I couldn’t do anything to hide my large, dysfunctional sniffer, and I took the teases in stride. But my toes; those I could control…or so I thought.\r\n\r\nBesides going to the pool and curling my toes inward on my quick paced walk to the water, I was able to cover my unsightly feet with socks and shoes all day long! That is, unless you go to Sports Camp for the summer, and the gymnastics leaders force you to take off your socks even though you beg them not to, and plead with them to get your dad (the one running the gym at the camp) to vouch for you. Adults don’t always listen to kids, and those adults had the final say, so I slowly and reluctantly peeled my socks off my feet. I did my usual toe curl that I used effectively at the pool, but when it came time for tumbling, I just couldn’t perform the proper technique without uncurling my toes. This meant, as I came out of my roll and stood, feet together, hands held high for my “stick,” a mean, pretty girl was able to grab my ankle, hold it with a tight, zombie grip, and announce to the gym, “Oh my god! Look at her toes! Her toenails are yellow! Hurry, come look!” As you can imagine, tears of embarrassment sprang forth, and I wished that the blue felt of the mat covers would open up and smother me away from the gawking girls gathered around my feet. Of course, after the gym leaders were able to pry those girl’s fingers from off my ankle, they allowed me to wear my socks, but the damage was done. My dignity was lost, and I dreaded going to Sports Camp.\r\n\r\nHowever, as most kids do, I grew to accept myself. I even learned how to manage my toenails with a 7-speed electric sander battery operated toenail file and some nail polish. A few years ago, I discovered that modern medicine had advanced, so I made an appointment to see an orthopedic doctor who prescribed me Lamisil tablets. Those pills worked wonders, and currently, most of my toes are cured. However, I believe that as my toenails were growing into their thin, clear, beautiful selves, that they followed the thick, curled path of the old nails, and viciously cut their way into my nail bed like the knife of a surgeon. I’ve since dug them out (with twice the effort and pain as before) and have accepted that I will most likely always have ingrown toenails.\r\n\r\nThis entire story is to say that I’m unusually optimistic about my upcoming natural healing process next week. (I love long tangents, don’t you?) Yellow toenails might not sound like much, but trust me when I say that my body conspires against me, and if not for modern medicine, I’d probably be dead, or abandoned to some colony of misfits. My little platoon of “immunes,” as I like to call them, obviously couldn’t heal the tears in my tendon (even with the aid of stitches–poor little troopers), so I’m eager to witness all of my strongest immunes being clustered together into a battalion of health. Here’s hoping for the comeback of a lifetime!
This week, as I donated money to a friend’s charity for clean water in Ethiopia, I started to feel a little guilty. Someone feeling guilt over making a donation to help drill for water in Africa may seem strange, but it’s perfectly normal when that person despises drinking water herself!\r\n\r\nI should be grateful that I could turn on a faucet and get a sip of clean water whenever I want, but to be honest, I’m not as appreciative as I should be. I usually prefer thirst to drinking a glass of water. It has absolutely no taste to it, and it rarely satisfies me (unless I’m outdoors in 90° plus weather, the water is ice cold, and there is no available option of anything else to drink).\r\n\r\nPlus, water burns my throat. Everyone laughs or gives me quizzical stares when I tell them this, but it’s the truth! It doesn’t happen all the time, but it especially happens when the water is room temperature! Now, it doesn’t burn right away; it’s more of an “after-burn” that sets a minute or two after taking a drink. It’s similar to the feeling one gets when the beginnings of a sore throat kicks in. The pain is felt in the very back and extends up towards the nasal passage. I’ve no idea how long it lasts, but evidently it lasts long enough for me to know that I don’t like to take the risk of having it happen again.\r\n\r\nIn an attempt to be healthier and drop a few pounds around the waist, a few years ago, I started bringing a water bottle to work that I refilled throughout the day. Every once and a while, I’d finish my desired 64 oz, but usually, I failed. This was mostly due in part to the fact that my ice would melt after my first bottleful, and after filling it with lukewarm tap water, it would sit untouched the rest of the day. However, the excuse I like to go with is my lack of potty breaks while teaching.\r\n\r\nBeing able to pee anytime is a luxury that teachers do not get. As a middle school teacher, I only had 2 chances to pee during school hours: morning break and lunch. Usually, my morning break was filled with helping students with academic questions and/or life mentoring, so really, I had one shot at lunch to relieve myself. During my 64oz days, I’d have no choice but to shoo the kids out during break and get rid of the water I’d been downing. In extreme circumstances, during instructional time, I’d have to open the connecting doors to my team teacher’s room and ask that they watch my class. Since I disliked water anyway, I found that it was much easier to not drink water altogether. A win-win situation.\r\n\r\nNow that I’m unemployed, there really is no good reason for me not to drink 8 glasses a day. Especially now that I’ve been reminded of the many people who die of diseases from unhealthy drinking water. I’ll certainly start being more grateful for the access I have to my water, but I already know, there’s no way I’m ever going to enjoy the tasteless, burning feeling that water gives me.
I ran my first, and possibly last, marathon on March 21, 2010. Running the LA Marathon had been a dream of mine since high school, but being a competitive athlete, there was no way I could take off the weeks needed for recovery afterwards; the race is always held in the heart of Track season. After a college injury and advice from my trainers, I reluctantly stopped competitive running altogether. Without the motivation to race, I gradually discontinued any sort of training. I still ran here and there, but it wasn’t until the summer of 2009 that I decided to get back into races.\r\n\r\nI use the word “races” as a term, not literally. I was not willing to re-injure myself and do any all-out competitions; I just wanted to get out there with other people who shared my passion and run the best that I could. So that October, I got my cousin Marissa, her husband Alex, and my friend Danny to join me in our first half-marathon. With limited time for training, and all of us just getting back into running, it was surprising how easy the 13.1 miles were! When I finished, I felt like I could have easily kept going. This spurred our interest in a full-length marathon, and we quickly began a training program.\r\n\r\nDespite numerous long training runs (the last four Saturday runs being 16-22 miles each), I still managed to hit that wall during the actual marathon, and I hit it at mile 16. Basically, the thought of going another 10 miles was messing with my head, and I started to feel discouraged. Luckily, I had my cousin by my side, and with Marissa’s support, I was able to get over that mental block. We were doing this together, dammit, and nothing was going to stop us!\r\n\r\nThen something happened that I was completely unprepared for. Somewhere during mile 19, I peed my pants. Yes, you read that right. I straight peed on myself, and I couldn’t stop it! I was so embarrassed, I couldn’t even tell Marissa what was happening to me. It was the most horrible thing I’ve ever had to endure while running. Small squirts of urine would seep out regardless of how hard I tried to keep it in. Those who know me well, know I don’t drink a lot of water, even on runs, and I think that was my saving grace. While my dark blue shorts slowly became saturated, nothing ran down my legs, and for that, I was grateful. But the thought of having a dark spot in the crotch of my shorts gave me further motivation to finish the race.\r\n\r\nMy new goal was to quickly get to each water station so that I could create a façade of cooling myself by dumping water all over my front in an attempt to hide the ever-growing patch on my shorts. And it worked! When I was emailed my marathon photos, the first thing I looked for was my pee stain. Fortunately, not even a hint of it could be seen! Although I was mortified when it started, and worried that there would be photographic evidence, by the time I hit mile 22, I didn’t care if onlookers could tell. I was the one butchering my body to complete 26.2 miles and they were just standing on the sidelines; judge away!\r\n\r\nAfter 5 hours 4 minutes and 50 seconds, I crossed that finish line (relatively dry) with Marissa and Danny by my side, and it was one of the most intense feelings I have ever experienced. Tears of pride, pain, and relief streamed down my face as I hugged Marissa and Danny. We did it! Will I do it again? “Hell no!” was my immediate response for a long time. However, lately, I’ve been contemplating running another. Each time I think of it though, there’s a big question looming in my head: Is it worth urinating on myself again to get a time under 5 hours?\r\n\r\nIt just might be.\r\n\r\n \r\n\r\n(My brother, Kevin, put together this awesome video of our marathon. Will you be able to spot the pee?)\r\n\r\nhttps://youtu.be/oX10wa6peLc?list=PLB4D41C25BCFA37F0