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2013 in Review

For the 3rd year running, it’s time for a recap quiz of 2013. The quiz originated at All & Sundry and is an easy and nice way to finish out the year somewhat concisely and to compare it to the previous years. I’m actually sort of surprised at how many of my answers didn’t change this year because this was kind of a big year, but I think there’s something nice to be said about consistency. So, let’s do it.

1. What did you do in 2013 that you’d never done before?
I started working consistently, in my chosen field, at a job I love. I also got my kid to sleep through the night, which is arguably even better than my job.

2. Did you keep your new year’s resolutions, and will you make more for next year?

My resolution for 2013 was to stop using the word should and to stop trying to live up to other people’s expectations. And in a lot of ways, I think I really did make some incredible progress towards that. It wasn’t always a linear progression, but I feel like I am more self-assured now than I was in 2012, more confident in my personal and parenting decisions and care a whole lot less about what other people think. And it’s pretty great.

I have no resolutions planned for 2014. Just to do the best that I can for myself and my family and enjoy life.

3. Did anyone close to you give birth?

A big bunch of my friends did. Too many to name without excluding anyone, but they all have just unbelievably adorable kids.

4. Did anyone close to you die?
No. My great-aunt, who was well over 90, died on Christmas Eve, but we were not close. And she lived an incredible life, so there’s just no sadness to be found there. I continue to be incredibly fortunate to have a large happy and healthy family.

5. What countries did you visit?
The United States. We made several visits to San Diego this year and last month went to Washington D.C. with Eli and my family. And we had a great time. I have absolutely zero travel plans for 2014 because I intend to never take my toddler on an airplane again.

6. What would you like to have in 2014 that you lacked in 2013?
For the third year running, I’d definitely have to say financial security. We continue to be fine financially, but the stress of going into repayment on my husband’s loans and moving in July and putting Eli in a new preschool/daycare that will almost definitely cost quite a bit more is pretty significant. In another year we’ll finally reach a point where we should not have to worry about making ends meet and that will be lovely, though we will probably always be budget people.

7. What dates from 2013 will remain etched upon your memory, and why?
March 23rd, the day that Eli fell off the bed and spent several days in the hospital with a brain bleed. The trauma of that has finally begun to fade, but it changed us, especially me, in a profound way, forever. May 11th, Eli’s first birthday. July 11th, Eli’s first steps. Also, December 4, but that’s another story for another time.

8. What was your biggest achievement of the year?

Recognizing the need for and accepting help. This was a tough year for a lot of reasons and for the first time in my life, I was able to see that I needed help and while somewhat begrudgingly, accept it. I am better for it and learned several good lessons from it.

9. What was your biggest failure?
If you’d asked me this question 3 or 4 months ago, I’d have said keeping my child safe. But I’ve realized that while there have been crappy parts this year, I didn’t fail. I didn’t fail as a mother, wife or person. I made mistakes, but did my best to make them right and learn from them.

10. Did you suffer illness or injury?
My mental health sucked pretty hard, but physically, I had a wonderful year health-wise. It’s a pretty great thing.

11. What was the best thing you bought?
Counseling, clothes that fit my body, a panning video monitor for Eli’s room.

12. Where did most of your money go?
Diapers, wipes, rent, utilities, student loans, credit card payments and a trip to D.C.

13. What did you get really excited about?
Watching Eli change and grow and learn every single day. My husband getting a fellowship that allowed us to stay in Southern California.

14. What song will always remind you of 2013?
Anything Could Happen by Ellie Goulding

15. Compared to this time last year, are you:

– happier or sadder? I think I’m about the same. I’ve been both at points this year, but currently, I am very happy.
– thinner or fatter? Thinner. About 3 whole pounds thanks to a stomach virus in November.
– richer or poorer? Richer, but by the thinnest of margins.

16. What do you wish you’d done more of?

Relaxing, enjoying life, breathing.

17. What do you wish you’d done less of?

Worrying and blaming.

18. How did you spend Chanukah/Christmas?
Chanukah we celebrated at home, at my parent’s house and we celebrated a belated Chanukah at with my in-laws. Christmas was spent back and forth between each of my parents and both holidays were lovely. Eli was incredibly interested in presents, but alternately wanted and did not want to unwrap presents.

19. What was your favorite TV program?
Scandal, Orange is the New Black, New Girl, Bones.

20. What were your favorite books of the year?
I thoroughly enjoyed the Hunger Games series, as well as a Jodi Picoult novel and several James Patterson books. Not sure what’s next on the list.

21. What was your favorite music from this year?

Eh, mostly old stuff with a few new songs mixed in. We’re enjoying the Frozen soundtrack right now.

22. What were your favorite films of the year?
I think I can count on one hand the movies I saw this year, so Iron Man 3, the newest Thor movie, Frozen and that might actually be it.

23. What did you do on your birthday, and how old were you?
I hit 30 this year and spent the day with my family at a great restaurant and with an incredible cake. My mom also made me a scrapbook (2 actually) comprised of pictures of me from birth to 18 and including a ridiculous number of things she saved. It’s one of the most incredible gifts I’ve ever received.

24. What one thing would have made your year immeasurably more satisfying?
Preventing my child from falling head first off a bed.

25. What kept you sane?
Therapy, medication, my husband, my child, my sister.

26. Tell us a valuable life lesson you learned in 2013.
That admitting you need help is a sign of strength, not a sign of weakness.

Happy New Year!

What a Difference 17 Months Make

This month shall be known as the month of hair growth. My once bald baby now has a full head of (darker every day) hair.

1 day old!
lion1

1 month and 1 day old!
lion2

6 months and 1 day old!
lion 6mo

1 year and 1 day old!
lion12mo

1 year, 1 month and 1 day old
lion13mo2

1 year, 2 months and 1 day old!
lion14mo9

1 year, 3 months and 1 day old!
lion 15mo5

1 year, 4 months and 1 day old!
16mo5

1 year, 5 months and 1 day old!
17mo5

(For the full list of pictures from the first year, see here)

Family Web

When we booked our trip to New York a month ago, we knew the trip would be a bit of a whirlwind visit and it ended up being just that. But what a wonderful whirlwind it was.

Our flight on Friday got cancelled because of weather, but we were rebooked on one later in the evening and we got to New York, safe, sound and very tired at about 6am local time. Which is 3am California time. Which translated to, we went to my husband’s brother’s apartment and slept until 11. We lazed around a bit, finally got ready to head out and face the cold. We decided since we were meeting his brother at 5 that we’d just wear our theater clothes out for the day.

Except that after I asked my husband if my dress made me look fat for the 80th time (he said no all 80 times, smart man), he said no, but that if I really didn’t like it, we should go shopping and find a new one.

I think the trip could’ve ended there, because holy crap do I have a great husband.

So we took the subway and went to Bloomingdales. I haven’t been in one since I was 7 and bought a pretty dress for a different Broadway show during my first trip to New York, and I somehow managed to forget just how enormous that store is. We spent about an hour, got Slappy a new scarf and me a new dress and off we went to meet Slappy’s brother.

He had us come by a little early and he brought us backstage of the show (for those who don’t know, he’s in the Spider-man musical on Broadway, which was the basis for our trip). We got to see all the costumes, meet many of the actors and even walk across the stage. Which, p.s. is ENORMOUS. After that we had a nice dinner and got settled in for the show.

Spider-man!

I realize that I am a little biased, but guys, the show is awesome. The sets alone are incredible. I could’ve just stared at the scenery for hours. The aerial stunts are mind boggling (if a little scary) and while the plot still needs a bit more development, the music and actors are absolutely awesome.

But I have to tell you, the best part of that show had little to do with what happened on the stage. The best part of that show were the moments I stole glances at my husband, because I have never seen anyone so delighted and proud as he was. He was practically beaming. He got to watch his brother in a Broadway show (as freaking Spider-man, no less) which is something I suspect few of us imagine doing. We spent hours after the show discussing it with his brother (it’s a thought-provoking show, seriously) and ended the night feeling warm and fuzzy, despite the big pieces of snow that fell from the sky outside.

Snow!

Sunday was filled with sightseeing in Central Park, in the Museum of Natural History and with a night out with the cast of the show. And of course, more hours of talking and enjoying the company.

I knew we’d have a whirlwind weekend, but somehow I never imagined how wonderful it would be. Those two days are truly among some of the best times I’ve ever had. And I just hope that my brother-in-law, all the way out there in New York, has some idea how proud his little brother is of his accomplishment. How he’s already trying to plan another trip, just so he can see him and his show again.

Be the change

I’ve had my head buried in books this week and haven’t paid much attention to news, current events or anything that wasn’t related to neuroanatomy.

Yesterday, when I was finally able to rejoin the world, I heard about the suicide of Tyler Clementi. And then the suicide of Seth Walsh, who lived only an hour from where I grew up. And then the suicide of Asher Brown. And then the suicide of Billy Lucas.

Four young kids killed themselves in one month.

Four lives, lost, cut short because of bullying.

This is not okay.

I was bullied, mercilessly, incessantly when I was in school. I was called a tub of lard, I was told that I was so fat that I shouldn’t sit in the back of the bus or it would tip over. One girl told one of my few remaining friends that I had AIDS, well, in the end she told pretty much the entire 4th grade at our school. So I went from few friends, to none.

I switched schools because I couldn’t escape the bullying. Teachers were aware, bus drivers were aware and even the principal. And because the parents of the children were generous to our school, a blind eye was turned. Many blind eyes in fact. These children were given a green light to tease me, there were no repercussions, there were not punishments. I was allowed to be bullied by all the people who were supposed to protect me.

I’m lucky in a lot of ways. I was able to get away from these kids. My parents recognized that things had reached an apex and they moved me. They knew I needed help and they gave it to me. Not all kids are as blessed as I was. Not all kids have a support system or a family like mine. Not all kids can see that there’s a light at the end of this hellish tunnel.

And not all kids are as lucky as me because not all of them have parents who made it clear from a very early age that bullying others was unacceptable. Many of the kids who bullied me had parents who did the same thing to other adults. Who treated them badly to get their way. Who modeled the same behavior their kids then showed at school. It’s hard for me to hate those kids because how could they know better?

And now, after a month of 4 suicides from bullying, it’s more clear than ever that we have to do something.

I think our job is two fold. Because first, we have to stop teaching our children that this sort of behavior is okay. It’s not. And it’s up to parents and aunts and uncles and sister and brothers and all the adults in a child’s life to step up and model the right behavior. To explain why bullying cannot continue. We can help start a change in these kids.

The second part is supporting those who need it. Children who are bullied need support. They need to be reminded of how loved they are, they need family and friends to remind them that things will get better. There is hope, there are good people in this world and if you just wait, if you just keep being yourself, you’ll find them. You’ll find happiness. You’ll find the people that allow you to be yourself all the time. Who love you for who you are. And while things are indescribably tough right now, it will get better. And until it does, we will be here for you.

Something has to be done.

We cannot lose more lives to bullying, we can’t watch as more families are destroyed. We can’t allow more children to reach the point where they feel that they’re better off dead. We can’t allow kids to prey on each other.

We.

We have to do something. As the adults, as the role models. We have to start a change so that no more children die because of bullying.

I know it’s hard to step up and do things like this. And maybe we start small. Maybe we start by modeling the behavior that we want the children in our life to have with their peers. Maybe we start by letting children in our lives know that they are loved. Today I’m going to send little letters to the kids in my life, just to let them know how important they are to me. To let them know that they are loved. And maybe that’s not a big step, but it’s just the first one of many.

And I hope that some of you will take it with me.

“You must be the change you wish to see in the world.” Mahatma Ghandi

Utah is hard, yo.

Whenever I travel, I tend to spend the whole afternoon and evening before I leave coming up with all the ways the trip will be ruined. It’s a healthy behavior, I know. My most commonly considered fear is being that girl who pukes through an entire plane ride, because dude, no one wants to be that girl. I also carefully consider the ramifications of missing my flight, losing my luggage, or getting injured (um, hello, this is me we’re talking about, that’s a total possibility).

So naturally Wednesday night, I got no sleep because I was way too busy worrying and when I woke up at the crack of dawn on Thursday, I was exhausted. I put some clothes on, made sure I had the route to the airport mapped and walked out the door. I made great time to the airport, parked, grabbed my backpack and went to get my suitcase out.

And then I found a whole new traveling fear. Because, dude, I left my suitcase at home. I LEFT MY SUITCASE AT HOME. Who does that?

Oh right, ME.

So I drove home, drove back to the airport, ran to the terminal, which ended up being the wrong one, took a shuttle where a TSA agent LAUGHED at me, and made my flight with 10 minutes to spare. I may never sleep the night before traveling ever again.

Before I even had a ticket for the conference, Jen had told me over and over how much she wanted to go to the photography session on Friday and take a gondola ride, which, in my mind was a boat. Like Venice. Or Las Vegas. So the gondola that ended up being a huge enclosed ski lift of death that got us to the top of an enormous mountain? was sort of a surprise. Though to be fair, I think I handled it better than Brittany.

That night, after we somehow managed to get down the mountain, Brittany and I decided that we would buy liquor for a party we were having for Heather’s birthday in our amazing hotel suite. We had rented the largest SUV in the universe that morning (though ironically, it wasn’t quite large enough to fit all of us, plus the small children and their baby equipment) and we set out to find some booze.

First we tried 7-11. I found all kinds of drink mixes and mixers, but nothing alcoholic except beer. So I asked the checker, who, after looking at me like I was either a) a lush, b) a ho or c) a lush ho, informed me that, no, they do not sell liquor there. And moreover, he had no idea where I would find some, because he was not a lush and/or a ho.

Using the power of google, I found out that there were 4 liquor stores in Park City and got the address of the nearest one. After parking in a garage with a warning sign that basically said: THIS GARAGE IS SO LOW YOUR CAR WILL BURST A BUNCH OF PIPES AND THEN EVERYONE WILL KNOW YOU’RE HERE FOR LIIIIIQUOR, we started walking to the address, which was up a hill and also? Did not exist.

The address did. not. exist.

The more I think about it, the more I think this is an elaborate ruse to get all the heathens and ho lushes to look completely crazy in public. The website I used had an address, with a picture of the building that apparently did not exist.

Well played, Utah.

We got lost on the way home because, lighting street signs is overrated and also, because it was us and there was no way that futile mission would end easily or quickly.

And then I got a bloody nose. Well, like eleven of them.

And then I accidentally flew across the living room while opening up the sofa bed to prove that I didn’t need help. Which may have been more my fault than Utah’s, but whatever.

And then I almost ripped my pinky toe off on a chair.

Utah is hard, yo.

(It’s also really beautiful, by the way)

Carry Each Other

On June 8th, 2008 I woke up early on a couch bed in my mom’s hotel room.

I walked to the adjacent mall and had my makeup done. I drove to a golf course and got my hair done.

With my mom and sisters holding up the sides, I put on an ivory dress.

I took a thousand pictures and then I walked, holding my father’s arm, down the aisle and held hands with you, my best friend, my fiance.

And then there was a blur of prayers in English and Hebrew, we poured sand into a container and put rings on each others index fingers.

And then, we said some vows and we were married.

We were married.

Around this same time two years ago, you were still a year away from being a doctor, you were still working in clinics as a student, you were still struggling for your good evaluations, worrying about residencies, just trying to make it to the next May. This weekend we went out to dinner and you, a doctor, took phone calls and gave medical advice to parents who called after hours.

I know it sounds silly, but in the past 2 years, I think I got the privilege of watching you go from being an adolescent to being a true grown up. And I love the man you have become just as I loved the young man you were before.

This second year of marriage has been anything but easy. If you ask me, it was tougher than the first year. Yes, we fought with each other less, but I think we fought the world more this year.

I don’t have to remind you that there have been tears, tests, medical bills, and more trials and tribulations than anyone’s marriage deserves in a year, you’ve been there, you’ve felt it all. I hate what this year has been and I hate all that you’ve had to deal with. I sometimes struggle to understand how you’ve stood by me, how you’ve managed to forgive me for things I’ve said, how you’ve offered a shoulder to cry on when it is perpetually damp from my tears.

The only thing that has been consistent through this mess is you. I have accused you of not being supportive enough, but the truth is, you’re doing your best and I know that. Sometimes I need someone to blame, that often unfairly ends up being you. I’m sorry for that. I know that this isn’t the life you signed up for.

When I wake up in the morning and see you asleep next to me, with every square inch of the comforter tucked around you like a cocoon, I feel cold hope. On the days I want to give up, stay home and become a hermit, I see you, I see the life we planned, the one we want and I get up again, and I try harder. You are what has kept me going. You are the strength that everyone compliments me for having. It’s you. It’s all you.

Thank you for loving me in spite of it all. In sickness and in health. In the good times and the really bad ones. For being my friend first, my inspiration, for being my husband. For being you.

I heard a song (okay fine, it was on Glee) a few weeks back and haven’t been able to get it out of my head. At first all I heard was the bitter undertones, but the more I listened, the more I heard little bits of us in it.

One life
with each other…
One life
but we’re not the same
We get to carry each other
Carry each other
One life

I know that this one life hasn’t been what you imagined, or planned or hoped for.

But thank you for carrying me through it anyway.

Happy Anniversary.

I love you more than you’ll ever know.

90,269 Reasons

We had a meeting at school yesterday about a change in our health insurance plan for next year. When it was over, I asked the woman in charge of the insurance how I could find out how much I’ve paid in claims this year. I’m supposed to have a $3500 out of pocket maximum, but given the $2600 I shelled out for MRIs (the ones from January) last week, I am almost completely sure I’ve exceeded that.

She guided me to the insurance website and showed me where I could find out how much I’ve been charged for my health care. What I saw astounded me.

I added up my health care costs (before insurance) for just this year. Hell, just since mid-August.

$90,269

This year I have had nearly one hundred thousand dollars of medical care. And I still have this God-forsaken headache.

I can barely begin to describe how frustrating that is. How I have failed so many treatments already. How we still have no idea how to fix this. How we still have no idea what the problem really is.

A few weeks ago, I got an email from a reader who lives in Los Angeles and sees a doctor who is both a neurologist and a pain management specialist. I did my research. The doctor sounded great, perfect actually. The only problem was that I only get one referral per specialist per insurance year. In my insurance, there is no such thing as a second opinion. And of course, I’ve already used my neurology referral for the year.

I set aside the recommendation for August when the new insurance year starts. Though if we’re being honest, I was hoping that I wouldn’t need it.

And then I got an email from my school. From May 15th to August 16th, we can go to any insurance covered provider without a referral. I called the health center to make sure I hadn’t lost my mind (sidenote: the lady at the health center now thinks I’m a totally illiterate moron), and it was true. I’m not a big believer in signs, but uh, I’m pretty sure that was one.

And then May 15th came and went. And I didn’t call the new doctor.

And so did May 16th. And 17th and 18th.

I could not bring myself to pick up the phone.

I don’t want to go to another doctor. I don’t want to move onto pain management. Pain management seems like giving up. It’s like saying that there’s no hope of finding the cause of these headaches. That they really will be here forever. And I hate that thought.

And I hate the connotation that pain management has in some communities.

But more than anything, I hate the way my life is right now. I hate that last week I had a headache that made all (non-lumbar puncture) headaches look like nothing. I hate that the headaches are continuing to get worse, to get more incapacitating. I hate that I’ve lost almost 10 months to this headache now.

And so on Wednesday, I picked up the phone.

I’m seeing the new doctor on June 2nd. I don’t know what to expect, I don’t know what she’ll be able to do for me, if anything.

But I’ve got about 10 months and another 90,269 reasons why I need to try anyway.

Twenty Seven

Tomorrow, I turn 27.

To be honest, I’m not sure what to write. Instead of continuing to stare at the blank page, I went back and read my words from a year ago. I hardly recognize that 25 year old. She stood at the precipice to a whole new life. She was preparing for a move across the country. She was getting ready to become a full time student. She was about to begin life as the wife of a doctor.

This 26 year old has done all those things. She is living that new life. Some parts of it are exactly as I expected, others are not. This year of ups and downs, these unpredictable 12 months have flown by.

I don’t know what 27 will bring. I don’t have many expectations, I don’t have many wishes. I want to enjoy this year more. I have spent so much time regretting things this year, so much time wondering how things could be, that I’m afraid I missed a lot of what 26 had to offer.

And so standing in the doorway of 27, I want to slow things down. I want to take more time to appreciate all the things I have, the good and the bad. I want to spend more time enjoying my life instead of worrying about it.

Tomorrow, I turn 27.

I’m ready.

In the company of misery

Today I sat around a patio table with four of my very good friends. Of the 5 of us, it just so happens that 3 of us have pretty serious health challenges.

One of my friends has Cushing’s Disease, which is likely going to require brain surgery soon. Another has a heart problem. And I have a crazy screwed up brain. When you sit down and think about it, the odds of the three of us being in the same program at the same time are practically impossibly small.

And today we three anomalies sat and talked for a while.

We talked about the reality of life with disease.

We talked about all the stupid little things we do to try to find control in our lives and how often they totally backfire.

We talked about how hard it is to get up and keep going when things seem like they cannot possibly get worse or seem like they’re never on track to be better.

We talked about how draining this life is. How exhausting it is just to live with pain, with disease.

We sat, a group of 3 people facing completely different challenges, and we shared a bond. Tears were shed, truths that had been long hidden were shared.

For the first time in a long time, I didn’t feel alone.

It’s hard to describe how isolating disease and pain can be. There’s the very obvious missing out on life component that’s easy to understand and to imagine. But there’s a secondary isolation. Sometimes it’s literally your absence from events that you could attend but choose not to, other times it’s more subtle. It’s physically being somewhere, but being detached. It’s the feeling of being completely alone in a room full of people.

Today’s conversation reminded me of the saying that misery loves company. But I don’t think it’s really that simple.

I don’t think I’ve ever wanted other people to be miserable or sick or in pain just because I am. Frankly, I don’t wish chronic pain or disease on anyone (okay, very occasionally, in my head, I do). But on days like today where I am surrounded in my misery with others who understand it, I realize that I have missed company. That I do really love it.

I really think that essentially we’re all bearing our own burdens. Even if we can’t admit it to anyone else, we’re all fighting our own misery.

And maybe the key to winning is finding allies who share in those fights, in those experiences. Finding people who provide you company in the face of misery.

Odds, Ends, Contests, Feeds

This is one of those tie up random loose ends posts. I had two more introductory sentences here, but they were completely incomprehensible. It’s like there’s a reason why you shouldn’t take a sleeping aid and then try to blog.

A) We went to the Apple store tonight to see if Slappy’s computer could be repaired and it went a little like this:
Apple guy: How can I help you?
Husband: So this MacBook walked into a bathtub, and never said anything again.
Apple guy:…

And now we have he has a new laptop. And also he has a new iPhone case and is in the process of getting new work shoes. Because when he breaks stuff that has to be replaced, he likes to do it all at once and when I have no way to justify buying myself anything.

I think I’m going to throw my computer in the bathtub next week.

2) Remember that one time I asked you to vote for my recipe in the Aiming Low Recipe contest? Well, you all did and then I made it to the final four! Yay!

But I am losing to the lovely Sugar Jones. Boo!

If you haven’t already, go here, watch the videos (and try not to be distracted by Shauna Glenn’s HILARIOUS kids) and if you’re so inclined (and want to make my day/week/month/year), leave a comment voting for my really really great pumpkin cake. The contest closes Friday night at 10pm eastern time and it would be some serious kickassery to win.

III) You can now get my blog by feedburner.

Theoretically.

Because I don’t actually know what feedburner is, except that it sounds like it might hurt and well, there’s a link to the right where you can click to subscribe via email.

Also? If you’re still getting this blog via the old google reader feed from my blogspot site, I’d love it if you’d switch to the new one (on this page, click on add a subscription (top left) and in the box type overflowingbrain.com/feed), because it makes my obsessive life easier. I should throw it out there that I also have no idea how google reader works either, so if this makes no sense, blame it on the sleeping aid for sure.

Internet abilities, for the win!

d) I’m going to New Orleans for Mardi Gras. It was a long complicated deliberation, but ultimately, I’m extremely excited and am hoping that a change of scenery will help me find a way to refocus on school and my upcoming week of hell midterms.

five) Tomorrow is Friday.

Halle-freaking-lujah.

Welcome!
I'm Katie, a 30-year-old, wife, mom, former teacher-turned PT, who also had brain surgery in November of 2007. This blog chronicles my daily life, from mundane to crazy, often with far too much detail. Sit down, get comfortable and stay for a while.
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