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kate elizabeth

Life In The Time of Corona, Saturday Edition

manifestos April 25, 2020
Read Time5 Minute, 10 Second

Literally, never has a calendar been more appropriate than this year’s Mary Englebreit Engledark Calendar. I started keeping track of the days we are isolating in March, but this morning, it truly struck me as to how long we’ve been doing this thing. Like many others, the days are starting to blur together. I work, I sleep, I don’t work. Those are really the three conditions of life.

I could load y’all up with a pile of BS and tell you how I’ve decided to make this such a productive time, but really, that is not happening. At the beginning, in the top of March, I did a lot of things. Organized a ton. Purged some stuff. Read. Worked out. Meditated. Fast forward 40 actual days, and it’s pure survival mode over here. Oh my actual hell, how has it been 40 days? I think that there is part of my brain that is just on auto-pilot right now. Numb is the place where I want to be. Sure, sure, sure, it’s said that it’s ok to feel our feelings, but really? I just want this to be over so I can pick back up my mostly hermit like life, but with options.

There are a lot of things I would love to whine and kvetch about here, but it’s just not needed or appropriate. Things are not easy right now. Not easy for anyone. Even the deep introverts are starting to feel a pull for some kind of connection, even if it’s just us getting a pedicure from an unknown stranger.

Stress levels are higher than normal due to a thousand things out of my control. This week, I realized that I was at a Defcon Level 1M – the eczema around my eyes exploded- I look like I have two black eyes with a side of painful peeling skin. This only happens when my allergies are really bad or stress is high. Lucky me, both conditions apply this week. I look DEAD SEXY and paired with the rapidly accelerating grey hair growth, I honestly think it’s time to just start calling me Bubbe/Grandma/Elder Kate. PS- I have a hair appointment set for this upcoming Friday, May 1st and I’m in total and utter denial that it’s not going to happen. That makes two appointments now missed. I totally understand and support the cause, but at some point, I might either buzz cut my hair to complete the conversion to my mom, or buy a box of hair color. Lacie, if you are reading this, I tried. I really did. Dramatics aside, I’m almost getting used to the grey. I’ve honestly played with the idea of just going with the transition but I think vanity is going to hold me back.

Something interesting that I’ve noted in the past week or so- noise is getting to me. I can barely handle the chatter of tv. By the end of the day, after the non-stop string of calls, I just want quiet. No music. No tv. Nothing. In fact, as I sit here typing this, listening to Yacht Rock Radio, it’s almost too much. Is this how people transition to a silent monk life? I mean, obviously that’s where this is going, right?

But really, things are as they need to be. Texas is actually looking mildly smart with the way that they are testing the reopening waters, unlike GA and TN. Cases still are on the rise here, but still, we are so lucky compared to NY and MI. I have to wonder- did the social distancing mitigate a surge, or are we just not there yet? Hard to tell, but when I see cities like Colleyville swinging the doors open, I fear that the worst is still ahead of us.

I’m going to run a few errands today- nothing too crazy, but I would like to pick up a few more plants for the garden (outdoor nursery) and I’ll pick up a Target haul with contactless delivery. I do wear a mask when I’m out- I feel like that’s the safe thing to do. I have a stash of wipes and antibacterial stuff that I slather on when I get back in my car and just press on. It’s becoming routine and I think for me, there is a comfort in the routine.

Finally (if you are still reading, HIDEY HO!), I do feel so very much for those that miss doing all the things. I was talking to my cousin last night and I realized how very hard this is for so many to be contained/confined and unable to do what they wish to do. If I were to be completely forthright, I don’t feel that way. I probably should, but I don’t. I think that the past few years have really prepared me for this- since 2016, I’ve had 3 surgeries, recoveries, and time leading up to the surgeries- I’ve had a ton of house time to practice. In fact, as I said to another friend last night, in the past 12 months, I’ve only had 4.5 months of absolute freedom. Injury in March, pretty restricted in April, surgery in May, recovery May & June. July and August were precious months of fun. September, the left ankle was sorely diminished and surgery and recovery again in October, November, and part of December. JUST as I was starting to feel human in January and February, the ‘Rona reared its ugly head and here we are. Maybe, I’m just numb? If you are one of those that are feeling claustrophobic, stay strong friends. I love you a lot and want you to stay healthy so at the other end of this, we can gather and have fun again.

Ok, it’s time to get going. I’ve actually been up for 2 hours now- the Jeffersons do not often allow for lazy sleeping mornings. Must go water the plants and try to make my house less disastrous. If you’ve made it all the way through, know that I really would love to give you a hug, but in these times, I’m sending you a virtual fist bump.

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35 days

manifestos April 19, 2020
Read Time3 Minute, 54 Second

It’s 35 days today that I’ve personally been mostly self-isolating because of the virus. I say mostly, not because I’ve been hanging out with oodles of people, but because I have been out in public- few doctors appointments, a trip or two to the store, but that’s about it. It would be so easy to self negotiate reasons why it’s ok to do this or that, but I’m trying really hard to contribute to the slowing of the spread. It can wait. Nothing is so urgent or needed that I feel that it’s ok to change what I’m doing. I know that plenty of people think that this is either a.) an overreaction b.) a big nothing burger or c.) the rules don’t apply to them. It’s not my job to be judge or jury to those who chose to not social distance or to bend the rules in their favor. I’ve thought about it a fair amount, but at the end of the day, all I can do is be ok with what I’m doing and just keep doing these things, aka, just about nothing.

35 days of basically working, sleeping, eating, walking George and repeat.

Is it fun? Nope.

It is restrictive? Sure. I couldn’t look myself in the mirror if I knew that I unintentionally got someone sick because I personally couldn’t stay at home to slow down the spread. That’s me. For once, I am a rule follower.

Truthfully, I’ve been training for this 2020 Covid-19 Lockdown for four years now. Since May of 2016, I’ve had 4 major surgeries and 2 minor surgeries. 3 of the 4 major surgeries had me pretty much-stuck home for the better part of 6 weeks each time. In the past 365 days, I’ve been home twice- one for the right ankle repair in May and once in October for the left. Each time, I was home 90% for a minimum of 6 weeks and the October one, I was home for a little longer, just because it sucked. I guess I started doing the social distancing thing a little earlier. I was an early adopter? I don’t know. It was just required for me to heal and to avoid getting the cooties while my body was healing. Science seems to make sense to me- diminishing risk for my own personal health makes sense, so why not do it for the collective?

Professionally, this has been an intense time as it has been for everyone. I don’t know a single person who hasn’t had their career impacted some how by this virus. Seriously, I don’t know anyone working right now, that hasn’t had big changes to their jobs. People I love have been laid off, put on furlough, taken reduced pay, working totally differently, working from home, not working, etc.. It’s far reaching. Does it suck? Absolutely. Is it forever? Nah. We will rally. It’s what we do.

But for me? Not that terribly hard. I live by myself all the time. I work from home, and have been forever. I have been trying to keep on some kind of routine- get up, walk Georgie, work, eat, work, work in my gardens, go to bed. I have a collection of cozy casual clothes that is really making me happy. I have enough books, projects, crafts, skin care to keep me busy for at least 6 months. Would I love to meet friends for a brunch? Sure. Am I going to do that? Nah. I’ll see everyone when this is over. It’s not like we have anything that terribly exciting to talk about, right?

Instead, I’m going to keep my ass at home, enjoy the spring weather, play in the dirt and try to keep reading more and playing Cookie Jam less.

The upside of all of this? My closets have never been more organized, my dogs are loving the nonstop interaction. My gardens look great and I’ve had a lot of time to think, plot and plan. Thinking about my life and what I want to do next. Plotting my financial/retirement strategy for the next 20 years, and planning how to reengage with life after this. I really think we should be using this as an inflection point- a time to really take a long hard look at life. It’s not always the easiest thing, but if nothing, maybe we could all take this time to figure out life a little bit more. Spring has always been about growth, rebirth, fresh starts- maybe we should use this time to think about it is our own personal spring? Be safe and stay the hell at home, ok?

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dearly beloved

manifestos April 1, 2020
Read Time2 Minute, 11 Second

We are gathered together… wait, no, that’s not right.

We are not gathering together.

Hear me out, friends. This thing is not going anyway, and it’s just going to keep on going until we as a collective figure out how to slow it down. Actually, there isn’t much to figure out. We need to limit our exposure and our activities. Period.

Does it suck? SO MUCH.

Is it hard to be stuck in our houses? Probably. It’s a cost I’m willing to pay.

Speaking of costs, there are high costs to this- to our collective psyche, to our health, to our welfare, to our economy. This is true.

And no, I’m not overreacting. I’ve been cautious for both myself and the many for a while now. I’m so frigging sick of hearing “oh Kate, she is overreacting.” “Kates nervous for no reason,” or “Kate is just being a liberal.”

Come the actual EFF on.

The numbers? They are growing exponentially each day.

This isn’t a hoax.

It’s not going away.

And it’s not going to go away the more we continue to ignore best practices and recommendations. I’m not a doctor. Hell, I failed organic chemistry my freshman year of college which pretty much eradicated my chances of going into a clinical field. Why is it so hard to just try to make it safer for the greater collective?

I’m trying to find the right words but I keep failing. These are not politically correct words. These are not particularly inspiring. I’ll be honest, I’m feeling pretty helpless.

When I feel helpless, here is what I do:

  • I work
  • I cook
  • I clean, poorly, but I try.
  • I wash laundry again and again
  • I read- so many books, magazines, newspapers
  • I scroll the socials
  • I talk to people- facetime, skype, phone, text, social messages, you name it.
  • I go for walks. Long walks. Short walks. Walks around my house, my yard, my street… just keep walking.

March was a long month. I felt like shit for the majority of the month- fighting the bronchial disaster that was my lungs, a sinus infection and a never-ending ear infection. Side note- that is still a thing and today I got some pretty nasty vertigo for a few hours. So yes, March is my own personal groundhog day of being locked in my house with an ear infection.

If you’ve made it this far, I really think you deserve this video. If nothing else, turn it up really loud, dance for a few and know that I would hug you if it was acceptable to do so.

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life in the time of covid-19, broadway edition

manifestos March 24, 2020
Read Time1 Minute, 29 Second

yesterday I went down a rabbit hole of broadway goodness… first off, I started watching this fabulous video :

I mean, can you even? I love the mask laying so very casually on LMM piano. So, after watching this, I went down a very lovely rabbit hole of some of my favorite musicals, in honor of ALW and Stephen Sondheim’s birthday. I came up with an idea that is surely going to give me at least a few hours of entertainment… I’m going to play Musical Connect the Dots… kinda like 7 degrees of Kevin Bacon, but much less thought put into it. I want to listen to a full musical each day and then the following day, play one that is somehow connected to the prior.

In honor of watching Andrew Lloyd Weber above, I decided to give a listen to an oldie but goodie, “Phantom of the Opera”- with Michael Crawford and Sarah Brightman.

This was fun listening as I was doing a breathing treatment and spraying some antibiotics up into my sinus cavities. A long rambling explanation of what I’m going to do is here:

Posted by Kate Grigal on Tuesday, March 24, 2020

Basically, here is the gist- find a musical that you love- broadway, movie, tv, don’t care. Watch it. Turn it up- fill your home with music. Tomorrow, find a musical that is connected to the one you watched today. Turn it up, fill your home with music. Keep on going. Feel free to follow along with me on my Facebook Page or here in the comments.

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Other than that, how was the play, Mrs. Lincoln?

manifestos March 22, 2020
Read Time2 Minute, 37 Second

Well, it’s been a few minutes/days/weeks/months since I’ve last posted. I think it’s so cute that I posted the night before my surgery and nothing since.

Let’s catch up, shall we? My name is Kate. This is my ever neglected blog. I screwed it up for a bunch of months trying to make it better, but alas, I have no skills in this department. It’s taken the better part of the day to even make it functional. Does it work? Can you even read it?

I write to you from the bed, where I have, as I mentioned above, been eating bon-bons (for real) and working on my website. Oh yes, and there is a global pandemic of Covid-19. Corona Virus. The Rona.

What the actual hell is going on?

Seriously though. Since I last wrote, here is a brief synopsis of my life:

  • Had surgery. Surgery sucked. Walking was hard. Got an infection. Hate antibiotics. PT sucked. Everything sucked, until it didn’t.
  • I turned my house into the annual Griswold shitshow that I always do, this year with customized LED exterior illumination. My house, it glowed.
  • The minute I got cleared to fly post-surgery, I went to San Francisco and did work things.
  • Then I went to NYC and did more work things. I walked in the Women’s March with my cousin Amy and saw Chuck Schumer.
  • I’ve taken 26 Pilates classes since January 20th. I love it so much. Pondering quietly about studying enough to learn how to teach this to other curvy girls with big boobs.
  • Work got bigly busy and I don’t remember much of February.
  • My badass boss suggested I take a few days off, so I decided to fly to San Francisco around the top of March to eat good food, shop for some treats and go get a massage.
  • Covid-19/Corona happened.
  • Trip to SF canceled. (Corona Fears)
  • Turned 43. Ate Dominos pizza on my couch.
  • SXSW canceled (effing Corona). I went to lunch with my friend Shelly instead. That was my last public outing, over a week ago.
  • Got a sinus infection, ear infection, and rocking a super fun bronchial thing. Got all the drugs. Steroids are amazing.
  • Been cleaning my house and organizing things.
  • Trying not to eat my feelings.
  • Painting my nails almost every day, why? Because I can.
  • Gave this little blog some CPR, a facelift and here we are.

So, ya, here it is. I’ve also been slowly writing not one, but two books. One is kind of a memoir/names/events changed to protect the guilty and the other is something I love a lot, a little “how not to do x,y,z” book and I just need to buckle down and finish it. Maybe this time of Corona, will turn out to be productive and cathartic?

I hope you are all well, that is, if you are reading this. If you can read this. Also, if anyone has a clue to how make a WordPress template not suck and/or have graphic skills, please hit me up. Mama needs help.

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Broström procedure, or everything you wanted to know about ankle surgery but were afraid to ask.

manifestos October 10, 2019
Read Time5 Minute, 3 Second

Good morning, in less than 5 hours, I will be having my third ankle surgery in under 3 years. Whereas I don’t think that is something to be celebrated, I do think that there is information that I can share about the procedure. Especially if you are one of my friends that are sitting there thinking “wtf is wrong with her and why does she keep having surgeries?”

This morning, I am having an Open Broström procedure on my left ankle. We do not yet know if it will be a repair or a graft- they won’t know that information until I’m taking a really good anesthesia nap to figure that out. It’s almost like a game show- will she or won’t she wake up splinted?

Still tracking with me? The Broström operation is a repair of ligaments on the lateral ankle. It is designed to address ankle instability. More importantly, it is primarily used to repair the anterior talofibular ligament (ATFL) in the ankle. I mean, there is an actual surgery now to correct instability- Not mental, but at least physical 🙂 I kid, I kid.

As this is my third round with this- first in 2016, with a Modified Broström on my right, and then a repair/revision Broström on my right in May. Today we are doing an Open Brostrom on my left to correct 24 years of wear and tear. If I were being completely honest, I would say a “lifetime” of wear and tear.

Why am I writing about the Broström procedure? Because there is incredibly limited content online that isn’t clinical about this and I would like my experiences to help someone.

The why:

We are doing this surgery because I’ve failed at nonsurgical ankle repair options- we’ve tried PT, Boot, rest, ice, reduction in weight-bearing- to no avail.

The who:

I’m working with a tremendous surgeon team at Plano Orthopedics– both Dr. Crates and his PA Jackie have been with me since the beginning of this journey and I trust their guidance explicitly. They are not cut first practitioners but they will flag when it’s time to move past traditional therapeutic methods and repair.

What life will be like for me for the next 4-6 weeks after the Broström procedure:

First things first, and I can’t stress this enough- the first 7-10 days of life after the Broström procedure is rough. There is very little information about this online, but I’m here to tell you, it sucks, but you can and will get through it.

Everyone has a different variation of the procedure but here are my takeaways (PLEASE USE THE PROTOCOL THAT YOUR DOCTOR PRESCRIBES FOR YOU- these are my experiences.)

  1. Assuming that this is a repair and not a graft, I will be weight-bearing today. Not walk around the block, but I will be able to get myself to the bathroom and back.
  2. For me, this is an outpatient surgery. I will be home this afternoon, assuming no issues.
  3. It’s all about that ice, ice baby. Ice will be your best friend. Keep elevated and ice as much as you can tolerate. It’s all fun and games until after the meds wear off and keeping the swelling down is critical.
  4. Don’t be a martyr- stay in front of the pain. I know, I know, pain meds are the devil. That doesn’t matter- what sucks more is uncontrolled pain when you literally have a cut open ankle. Stay on top of the meds that your surgical team prescribes. I don’t do well with a lot of the normal paid meds, so I will be on good, ole-fashioned Morphine for a few days and then step down to Tramadol.
  5. Did I say “keep the ice going?” You can get an ice machine, use ice packs and/or frozen veggies. I’ve done all three. I truly have a love/hate relationship with ice- I hate the way it feels, but I love the way it works.
  6. Stay in your boot. Yes, the doctor will put you in a splint or boot (Depending on if you are having a repair or graft replacement) and LEAVE IT ON. Sure it sucks to sleep in a boot, but it’s there to protect you. Don’t be me and try to sneak out of it. It SUCKS.
  7. Stock up on cozy clothes that will go over the boot. I have found that shorts plus t-shirts or pj’s that are shorts make life easier for the first week or so.
  8. Buy a shower chair. Just get over yourself and do it. It makes life easy. You will want a shower and this is a safe way to do it. Unless you know, you like to be held upright, butt naked with someone helping you, then go for it.
  9. Speaking of showers- buy Glad Press & Seal and wrap, wrap, wrap that bandage up. It does create a mostly waterproof seal that will let you hose yourself down.
  10. Force yourself to eat with the meds- pb&j’s are my go to’s. And Goldfish Crackers. Dear Sweet Baby Happiness, Goldfish crackers have been my salvation for the past two surgeries and today they are at my bedside for when I get home this afternoon. They are literally the snack that smiles back and you need smiles when you are getting through with this. (not sponsored, but my love of the Goldfish is real.)
  11. Buy ProBiotics and take them. Just do it. Between the pain meds, antibiotics and sitting on your butt, your gut will thank you.
  12. Be patient with yourself. You aren’t going to wake up the day after and feel awesome, but you will eventually feel better.
  13. Don’t be afraid to talk to your surgical team if you have any questions. I am lucky that my team at POSMC has a great communication system and i can shoot off email questions at any time.

I’m going to keep this conversation going- stay tuned for information about “life post Broström procedure.”

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