Cruisin’ Cousins

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

The cruise photographer took her job way too seriously and refused to put us in a funny pose. After we came up with this, she made us take a nice one. We all bought this one.

The cruise photographer took her job way too seriously and refused to put us in a funny pose. After we came up with this, she made us take a nice one. We all bought this one.

My Immunes! (A Story of Yellow Toenails)

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!