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The plasma donation and the 30 mile bike ride.

The first bike rides of the season took place this weekend. Finally! I’ve been waiting and waiting for it to be nice enough. We were planning on biking to the Valley Junction Farmer’s Market last Thursday, but, of course, we got the worst thunderstorm of the season. Funnel clouds, winds up to 30 mph, rain, hail… you name it.

Instead, we biked to our favorite place in Valley Junction – Fox Brewing! It’s a small brewery in West Des Moines that’s fox themed, for obvious reasons. We love it, and it’s owned by one of our good friends! (Brian actually grew up with the guy; his name is Brian too.) If you haven’t been there, I suggest checking it out. If you have been there, make sure you hit me up next time you go! They do fun stuff like trivia and yoga.

You have to know it’s a great place if I say it’s my favorite, because… Do you know how many antique stores are in Valley Junction?! #antiquefreak

We biked there on Friday night, which is about 7 miles one way. It’s an easy ride, and the bike trail will take you most of the way there. The weather was perfect; I started in a light jacket and was sweating through that within 20 minutes of the ride. Ditch the jacket, grab a drink of water, off we go.

I forgot to mention… Friday will not go down in history as the day I had the best ideas. I donated plasma that afternoon. I donated plasma and then went on a 14 mile bike ride. To a brewery. Double no-no. I took about 4 sips of a beer, and my mom started giving me the look. I switched to water at the point.

We had gone to Fox Brewing with our families to celebrate our birthday’s since they’re only 7 days apart. I didn’t mind just drinking water; we ordered pizza for dinner, so I wasn’t missing out on that. We played a board game, something like the Worst Case Scenario Survival Game. It was really fun! The questions are hilarious, and I mostly hope I never run into any of those situations. Killer bees? Open wounds? I’m all about the outdoors, I’m actually a nature freak, but only if I get home unscathed.

I was carefree on the way over; it was a rough ride back as I was thirsty and trying to replenish my plasma supply, but we made it around 10:30 pm. We slept 9 hours, and got up to do it all again the next morning. This time, we were headed for Friederick’s Coffee on 22nd St. – almost 8 miles both ways.

I think I was too optimistic at this point.

We’re partaking in Pedal for Paws later this month, which is a 26.2 mile ride. Well, Brian told me I “have a lot of work to do” before that event. On Friday night, slightly insulted, I’m like ‘Okay, I’m just weak from donating plasma. I’ll be fine after I sleep tonight.’ 

Folks, she was not fine after she slept that night.

The ride to the coffee shop was not a flat ride. Every time I saw a hill staring me down, I tried to turn a corner to avoid it. Every time I did that, I found myself facing a bigger hill. It wasn’t as bad as I’m making it sound! I was just very dramatic from having a 14 mile ride the night before, and from this being our first actual ride of the season. Coming back was a little easier; we broke the ride up into 3 parts. I had to stop once to shop and once to eat.

When we finally headed home, I had to use every last ounce of umph to get there. It was getting warmer since it was pushing 1:00 pm now, my legs were throbbing, my backpack was weighing heavy on my shoulders thanks to our stop at Michael’s Craft Store. I only spent $33.00… But I made it. And then I napped, because… priorities.

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I almost pass out a lot. Like, a lot. Probably once a month, and it’s different every time.

Once a month may not sound like a “very often” thing… until it’s happening to you, and all you can think is “Not again, not again.

I don’t know why it happens. I haven’t been able to find any medical explanation for it. I thought I was diabetic for the longest time, because it would mostly happen mid-afternoon when I needed a snack. When I was younger and it would happen, I would scarf down a candy bar and a Diet Coke. Now, it doesn’t seem to matter if I’ve monitored my blood sugar; it still happens.

I remember every time it has happened like it was yesterday, and it actually did happen yesterday. It’s a little bit emotional for me, because I refuse to let it dictate my life. When I feel it happening, I have to talk myself out of it happening. At this point, I’m certain it’s a mental thing and not physical.

Close your eyes, take deep breaths. You’re okay. You’re going to get through this. 

That’s my mantra. When I start to see things swimming in my vision, when I get clammy and my hands go cold, when I start to feel numb, that’s what I tell myself. I can tell you one thing very proudly: I’ve never actually passed out from these episodes. I’ve always been able to calm myself down, but I dread the day I can’t talk myself out of it. I dread the day it takes control and I lose it.

It has happened in church. That was actually the first time it happened, and I had a good explanation then. I was young, probably not even thirteen yet. I was at church with one of my best friends, her mom, and her sister. I didn’t know what was happening or how to monitor it yet. I remember standing and sitting and standing and sitting and getting too hot and starting to feel fuzzy, and then I was sitting in a different room with my friend’s sister who kept asking if I was okay. My mom said I had gotten over heated, that was all. But it kept happening.

It has happened at the nail salon. I was really into acrylic nails, for some reason, for a really long time. I’m actually still into them, but I cut too deep once time trying to remove them myself, and I haven’t had them since. They were using that little spinning filing tool, and they must have hit a tender spot. I felt a pinch, something that wouldn’t normally be a big deal, and all of a sudden I was losing it. I never say anything or act on it when this happens, I just pray I can stay conscious until I get through it. While I turned completely white, started sweating, and started seeing spots, I sat completely still. I pretended like nothing was happening, like I always do. I still don’t know if this is the best way to handle it.

It has happened in class. In high school accounting class. I was sitting next to my very best friend, and we were just working on that day’s assignment. This time, it happened so fast I barely had time to react. Like always, when it started, I pretended like nothing was wrong. I tried to continue working on my assignment, but my friend looked at me and said “You are so pale right now. Are you okay?” At that point, I got up and ran to the bathroom. I remembered my mom telling me, after the nail salon incident, that when this happens, I should sit on the floor and put my head between my knees. That’s what I did, in the 2nd floor bathroom at West Central Valley High School. I hope someone would have come to check on me if I didn’t return to class soon. Eventually, the episode passed and I went back to class.

It has happened at work, countless times. Late in the afternoon, when it’s almost time to go home and I’m desperately in need of some fruit or a NutriGrain bar. People make fun of me for packing so many snacks in my lunchbox, but you don’t really get it until it happens to you. It’s not just a matter of being hungry, at that point.

It has happened while donating plasma. I don’t know. I grew up watching CSI. I was never uneasy around blood. I got weekly allergy shots for years when I was younger. I have like 16 tattoos. I’ve never been scared of needles. But it never fails, if I so much as acknowledge that needle in my arm, it happens.

It has happened at home, on my own couch.

It has happened while I’ve been driving in the car.

It has happened at the state fair.

It doesn’t matter where I am, what I have done to prevent it, or how nourished I am that day: it controls my life. It completely consumes me the moment it starts happening, and it drains me for the rest of the day. The horrible part about the whole thing is that I don’t know why it happens. I have tried to stop it in every way I know how. Doctors tell me to eat a yogurt every afternoon to keep my blood sugar up, but people without blood sugar problems don’t have to monitor their blood sugar. Our bodies are supposed to do that, so how can nothing be wrong with mine?

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I have seen so many vulgar memes about Kate Middleton making a public appearance just hours after giving birth to her youngest son. What are your thoughts on the issue?

Yes, there are things that happen to the female body before and after childbirth. We’re all aware. I, however, think it’s amazing that the Duchess made an appearance with her new baby! Can you imagine how much she wanted to stay in bed and cuddle him?! And instead, being part of a royal family, she stepped out to show him off. That’s a proud mama.

The name is officially being announced today. Any guesses?

dream journal

Dream Journal: I feel the pressure in my head.

It’s a gray day. The wind blows and rain falls outside, but I’m tucked safely in a classroom. It’s a long, powerfully boring day of training at work. Safety, hazardous materials, standard procedures… You name it. If it puts you to sleep, we’re brushing up on it. I’ve worked here for four months, and I’m already relearning what I just learned on my date of hire? It’s more than boring, but I guess it says a lot for the company I work for.

There are quite a few of my coworkers trying to stay awake with me today, but there are a few new hires here too. I’m focused on my notebook, jotting down “When driving forklift, look for pedestrians before reversing,” when I hear the door click shut. I don’t even look up to see who’s walked in. Instead, I glance over my notes and give myself an eye roll. ‘Did you really need to write that one down?’ I think to myself. I suppress a snicker; I’m taking notes to keep myself awake. ‘I crack myself up.’

“Taylor?” questions a familiar voice. I look up to see an old coworker.

“Caylie!” I smile, surprised to see her, and open my arms for a hug. I haven’t seen her in months. We weren’t close, but it’s always nice to see a familiar face in a fairly unfamiliar place.

She bends at the waste to hug me and moves her head so that her mouth is right over my ear. I feel her breaths, one by one. They’re longer than normal, and this hug has lasted much longer than normal. I’m suddenly completely aware of everyone else in the room when I feel her teeth close around my right ear. No one says a word, but I’m stuck thinking ‘How weird is this and why is nobody saying anything?!’ She doesn’t move a single muscle; neither do I. Neither does anyone else. I can’t hear a sound as my echoing heartbeat drowns out all possibility of other noises impacting this terrifyingly weird moment.

It’s been quite a few minutes.

Hours? Has it been days?

I can still feel the puncture of her teeth around the cartilage of my ear when she lets go of the hug. I feel her presence to my right as she moves around the table. I shift my eyes as far left as I can, trying to see the rest of the room through my peripheral vision.

I rotate my eyes so far it starts to hurt, but I see no one. I’m alone.

Ear locked in clenched teeth, eyes straining so hard to see…

I’m giving myself a headache.

Oh my holy G-

What’s happening to me?

She’s behind me now. I feel soft fingertips on my left cheek. I’m facing forward in the training classroom, perfect posture, eyes ahead. I see only a computer monitor and her reflection in the screen. She’s perched behind me, barely even touching me, but I feel everything from her fingerprints on my face to the bite on my ear. Everything in between those two points is static. My vision gets foggy. She pushes her hand harder against my face, but the pain in my ear starts to diminish.

I feel the pressure in my head. It’s starts in my nose; it begins like a sinus infection, but it transforms into thick walls closing in on my skull. Spreading now from the middle of my face outward, I see and don’t see my vision go black. I feel it in my eye sockets and then at my temples. It keeps moving. I feel it in the front of my skull, my jaw, my teeth. In every hair follicle, I feel it. I know I’m trying to squint, but I’m going numb.

The pressure builds. I don’t understand, but I’ve lost all capacity to try now. Thinking would require fighting this monster force that’s got my skull, my brain, my soul.

I don’t understand.

I don’t understand.

This has got to be over soon because my brain is going to erupt DEAR GOD I don’t understand I just-

“Taylor? Are you awake?” Brian says from across the bed. I open my eyes.

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There’s nothing more humbling than the ocean. To think that we get to live in this world and admire all of this is amazing to me. I’m sitting ocean-side in South Carolina, looking out from my balcony on the 17th floor of the building, and you can see until the end of the world. There are no ships; no sailboats or jet ski’s; just ocean for miles, and it’s beautiful. The sky is open; the clouds are dark shadows that hover on top of the waves. There’s a group of dolphins directly in front of us, and all you see is a fin every few minutes. It’s overwhelming in the most beautiful way.

I often wake up from nightmares about the world ending. Read more…

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I remember the exact moment that I learned to be embarrassed by my emotions. I was eight. I’d been going to public school for less than a week, and I had one friend. The school was still a strange place to me, and it was actually the first week I’d ever been away from either my mom or little sister. I’d gone to private school for pre-school, kindergarten, and first grade. It was really my first time feeling alone.

One day, I forgot my lunchbox on the school bus, and it was the first school bus. I had to take two to get home. I left the damn lunchbox on the bus that took me from the school to the bus stop, which meant that the bus that still held my missing lunchbox would soon be filling up with older kids that were also trying to get home. Read more…

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Friday night spent organizing kitchen cabinets and cleaning litter boxes.

The title says it all. It’s Friday. It’s Cince de Mayo. I’m at home, blogging from my couch at 11:30 pm. I’m rocking boxers and a Pokemon t-shirt. My makeup has been removed and my hair is in what could be a bun with a little more effort. Earlier, I bleached my entire bathroom, reorganized all my kitchen cabinets, and deep cleaned the litter boxes. I redid my whiteboard calendar since it’s a new month, I moved my “coffee bar” across the kitchen, and I turned my junk drawer into two junk drawers. I’ve had nothing but water to drink all day.

Read more…