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March 5, 2014 / bekbekbekah

Sensory Overload: Hearing

Alright, so I’m down to the fifth of the five senses, and it’s all about hearing today. I think when I was debating at my small group about which of the two I’d lose (if the choice were solely between vision and hearing), all the reasons in my mental Pros list for keeping eyesight were related to color and ridiculous things. In my Pros list for hearing one of the line items was the fact that even if you were blind, you could be alerted to danger through your sense of hearing, but if you are deaf you’re far less likely the be able to detect danger from behind or above. Then I realized that arguing the safety merits of the senses wasn’t going to get me anywhere because they all serve in some way to keep us safe. So then I chose hearing based on all the “added” benefits of having this ability.

HEARING
First and foremost, having the ability to hear means that my ability to talk is practically unhindered. I talk more than I type, so if my blog posts are any indication: I talk A LOT. And I know, I know, people with hearing impairments can communicate without talking via sign language, and can even have spoken conversations if they practice long enough and can read lips. Here’s the problem though: I can’t read lips. I can’t read lips to save my LIFE. I’m not sure what the hold up is, but I think it stems from the fact that my dad always stressed the importance of maintaining good eye contact with a person when you’re talking to them. If I’m focused on the person’s eyes, I can’t be focused on the words their lips are forming. Also, the be fair, some people form their words in ways that don’t make sense. Take for instance John Newman, the British pop star:

john newman

Let me just mention really quickly that I DO NOT like this song, and it’s because of his voice. I don’t think he can actually sing that well – yes, better than me, but not that much better than me – and I feel that his way of making up for it is by just not singing his words all the way and making weird sounds.. But that’s just my two cents. Anyway – back on point: This is a freeze frame of him singing the chorus to his song “Love Me Again” where the lyrics say, “I need to know now, know now, can you love me again?” Can you tell what word he’s forming in that picture? Is your guess “love?” Because if it is, you’re wrong. In that particular frame he’s actually saying “me.” The normal way to form the word “me” with your lips is to press both lips together to get that really nice  “mmmmm” sound. This clown does it by pulling his lower lip up to his bared teeth and making weird faces. I realize that issue is related to a very small demographic of people (ie.. pretty much just him), but it would cause mass chaos on my end if I had to rely on reading lips. My interpretations of things would probably come off like one of those Bad Lip Readings videos on YouTube…

Also, having to rely on looking at an individual to tell what’s being said is problematic when you’re in a situation where you aren’t in a conversation but are really interested in the topic at hand. Or if you’re just minding your own business and happen to overhear a comment made in passing that is just completely absurd. My favorite example of this is a random comment I heard someone make several years ago. I can’t for the life of me remember where I was or what I was doing, but I was looking at my phone and there were two ladies behind me. I have no idea what was happening with them or what they were talking about prior, but all I heard was one of the ladies say, “I never clip this nail… It’s my ear-picking nail,” and as quickly as that they were both gone. I looked up to see them walking away, and all I could think was, “I need to write this down so I can remember it for later.”

There’s always a bad side to everything I like; not everything is perfectly good.. except potatoes.. potatoes are always good. But all joking aside, there are some truly terrible, awful, unnecessary sounds in this world. Of course there’s your standard nails on a chalkboard or forks squeaking on a plate. Those sounds are very grating and just cause me to shiver and feel really gross (much like having to touch my own fingertips) and I really don’t like them, but there are other sounds that just downright make me angry. Those sounds for me are the over-crinkling of candy wrappers when someone is trying to be discreet. Those things are loud by design, people – just rip open the thing and spare everyone else the suffering! There’s a lady that works in the cubicle next to me and she spends her entire day checking out Personal Protective Equipment (PPE) to employees at my office. She has this huge pad of checkout agreements that she has to personalize and attach to the PPE she’s giving out, and when she rips the papers off the pad it makes me want to rip my ears off so I don’t have to hear it anymore. It’s a daily source of anguish for me. Another torture-filled part of my job is having to edit voiceovers. No one ever really thinks about what a solo voice sounds like when it’s coming through your editing headphones mere centimeters from your eardrums, but it is truly awful. When people start talking for a long time and don’t think about having to swallow their saliva or if their mouth starts to dry out, there is this particulary horrible sound that starts coming through their words. It’s like their tongue is sticking to their cheeks or their gums and it makes little clicking sounds that are  also kind of weirdly watery and…. UGH!!!! I’m so grossed out right now with trying to find the right words to describe the sounds. I just hate it and I hate having to listen to voiceovers over and over while having those sounds that close and so full in my head. I make a point of listening and being overly critical of a person’s voice in all my recordings now; partly because I want a clean, fresh recording, but mostly because I don’t want to deal with the aural torture later on. But seriously guys – MOUTH SOUNDS ARE THE WORST.

But how about the good sounds? There are plenty more sounds that I find appealing than sounds that annoy me to no end. One of the best sounds is my nephew calling my name. I like the priviledge of BEING an aunt, but I hate the title of aunt for myself; I have no explanation for it, I just don’t like it. Before I had nephews or nieces I knew I didn’t want “aunt” to be part of my official title; I just wanted them to call me Bekah. After watching kids in nursery and children’s church for years on end, I noticed that for some reason a lot of kids have trouble saying my name when they’re really little. My number one fear is that they’ll start calling me Becky (the name I destest being called above all others), so I had to think of a nice nickname that my future nephews and nieces could call me, and when Colton was born I had finally come to my conclusion. I wanted him to call me Bebe. He said my name to a lot of people before he ever said it to me in person, but the first time I heard his little voice calling me Bebe for the first time when I picked him up at his daycare I almost passed out. There’s just something so special about his sweet, innocent kid voice saying my name like that.. GAH! I could’ve cried I was so happy to hear it.

I’m also a huge fan of music, although I definitely cannot play an instrument or sing worth anything, music makes up a very large part of my day. My mom can sing and plays the piano and the guitar and my brother Jeremy started playing the bass when he was in college – he’s since stopped playing anything – but I was not gifted with any musical talent. Thankfully, I can at least break music apart and understand what it is that I like about certain songs, and God has definitely placed a large number of musically talented people in my life. I love stringed instruments, I love songs written/played in minor keys, I love it when people use breaths as a form of percussion, I love it when guys sing falsetto (for short periods, not a whole song!), and I love bass. I think I like minor keys and bass so much because those are the parts of songs that you can actually feel when they’re being played.

Also in the line of music is one of the sounds I love, love, LOVE hearing. Every time I’m listening to live music, I’m setting up music in my truck, or about to listen to music from my stereo at the Beige Castle I almost start salivating with anticipation for this one sound. Want to know what it is? Ok, you’ve twisted my arm; I’ll tell you. I love the sound of a live line being plugged into a device.

photo

This moment right here is one of the best parts of seeing a band taking the stage at a live music event.

As with many of my weird habits or likes/dislikes, I can’t tell you WHY this sound is so pleasing to my ears, but the sound of the electricty being passed from plug the bass/guitar/iPod/whatever and the live line makes me unspeakably happy.

Now, with all the being said, and with the previous four weeks’ posts all laid out, I’ve explored all the things I love and hate about the five senses. I’m pretty sure I still stand by my answer the keep my hearing and lost my vision though. What fun would it be to be able to see things without being able to hear them also? If I couldn’t hear I wouldn’t be able to know what music sounds like or appreciate all the wonderful sounds instruments can make. I wouldn’t be able to fully experience what laughter was like, and apart from reading lips (which, we’ve discussed is an impossibilty for me) I wouldn’t be able to hear jokes or stand-up comedians. I’d never know what it was like for someone to say my name or hear my nephew say he loves me.. Man.. That’s not what I want.

Plus, if I were vision-impaired I’d be able to bring my service dog with me everywhere I went.

February 24, 2014 / bekbekbekah

Sensory Overload: Taste

I think smell and taste might actually be my two favorites of the five senses. They lend themselves to each other so seamlessly and make life a much more pleasant experience. I don’t have the same morbid curiousity with taste as I do with smell, but I don’t have any shortage of funny stories related to taste.

TASTE
I am not a fan of pickles, and I along with several friends, my roommate Lisa being one of them, live a pickle-free existence. My dirty little secret though is that for years I have wanted to like pickles. I think they look good, I think the crunch from them would be very satisfying, and I even like how they smell. For all intents and purposes, I should love having pickles on my burger and with my McAlister’s sandwiches… But I don’t. I actually hate pickles. There have been several occasions where I’ve stared down a jar of pickles, letting my mind get hyped up about how wonderful they look and how delicious they’re going to actually taste. Then I open the jar and smell them and the good feelings continue. Then as soon as I take a bite of it, my body’s knee-jerk reaction is to forcibly remove the abomination from my mouth. Some gag reflexes are involved, but mostly there’s just a lot of spit and drooling to get the taste as far away from my tongue as possible. My brain wants so badly to consume them, but my body just physically refuses; I think I may just need to accept it for what it is and move on.

——————–

“Oh… Hey, those cupcakes might taste like onions.” That was the first sentence I heard after delicately unwrapping my cupcake and taking the first bite at my friend’s birthday dinner last night. I looked up helplessly like, “What do you want me to do about it at this moment?” and my friend’s wife Laura explained that someone had set an onion on the lid to the cupcake dish and that the frosting on a couple of the cupcakes had absorbed the onion taste. My friend David seemed embarrassed that he’d unwittingly given me an onion cupcake, but in a rare turn of events I didn’t taste anything odd on the cupcake. I say “rare” because usually, if someone’s going to taste something weird in a food item, it’s going to be me.

Correct me if I'm wrong, but are these turkey-flavored?

Correct me if I’m wrong, but are these turkey-flavored?

My mom and I used to work at the same company when I was in high school, and she and I have seen our fair share of characters walk through the doors – employees and homeowners alike. One of the strangest women I’ve ever worked with is named Laurie. She is a super awesome person; very kind, very talkative, and very in her own world. One day she brought a pan of brownies to work to share with everyone. I was sitting front desk at the time so I was the first person that got a taste. My first bite was a weird mix of satisfaction and confusion, but I did my best to keep my face straight and not bring attention to it. I set it down and several minutes later my mom came to the front. She saw my barely-touched brownie and took a bite out of it (she never asks, she only does). I was on the phone so I couldn’t warn her, but by looking at her I couldn’t tell if she tasted what I had. She looked at me like “Are you going to finish this?” I shook my head no and she walked off. She came back up a little later and she asked me why I didn’t want the rest of my brownie, and I told her it was because it tasted like turkey. She looked at me like I was crazy and laughed and walked away. Apparently when she left she asked other people if they thought the brownies tasted funny and no one said anything about them. She then walked up to Laurie and thanked her for the brownies and Laurie told her, “Oh yeah, no problem. My oven broke last night, but I really wanted brownies, so I just put the pan in my pit outside because it was still hot from the pecan-crusted chicken I had just cooked and they came out great!” When my mom told me the story I burst out laughing and she was like, “I guess you were right about the poultry brownies, Bek.”

——————–

Mmmmm.. Dirt apples! Just like God intended.

Mmmmm.. Dirt apples! Just like God intended.

My mom used to teach the Children’s Church class and she would bring snacks for them every week to eat after their lesson. One week she brought a fruit tray with apples, grapes, and cheese for the kids. On this specific Sunday I was filling in as the speaker for the youth group so I took my group to her room after we finished our Bible study so we could help entertain the kids. I picked up a couple of the apple slices on my way into the room, and upon taking my first bite, my involuntary reaction of spitting the food out kicked in. My mom looked at me like I was crazy and she asked me why I did that (you know, ’cause a 21 year-old college student should know better?) and I told her it was because the apples tasted like dirt and I threw the rest of the slices I had picked up in the trash. She didn’t believe me and continued entertaining a group of kids for a while. Once the kids had settled down a bit she grabbed an apple slice, looked at me like, “This is how a grown person should eat in public,” and took a bite. Her face scrunched up as she chewed and she began searching for napkins. Upon removing the offending apple, she looked at me and said, “You’re right. They do taste like dirt; throw them out.”

——————–

Krista and I were traveling between Tulsa and Houston at the beginning of one of our breaks at school, and we stopped in McKinney to visit my friend Natalie and her brother Jonny. We stopped to eat lunch at a Chipotle with them, and Krista and I were the last to get our food. I have a habit of taking a swig of whatever I’m drinking before I start eating (my mom tells me it’s something I picked up in the Philippines?), so I was standing at the fountain machine waiting for Krista and took a sip. I managed to swallow it down, but my face showed my displeasure and Krista asked me what was wrong. At this point in my life I had wracked up a long history of tasting things other people didn’t, so I told Krista to taste her tea and make sure it tasted ok. She took a sip and scrunched her face and said, “Oh gross! This tastes like dirt!” I was happy to have my findings confirmed by someone else, so we went to our table and asked them if their drinks tasted funny. Natalie and Jonny tasted their drinks and said nothing was wrong with them, so Krista and I tried ours again to make sure we weren’t crazy. They still definitely tasted like dirt though, so we went to the front where I told one of the girls, “I think there’s something wrong with the drinks. Our two drinks taste like dirt, but our friends didn’t notice anything in theirs. None of us have the same drink though.. But seriously, my drink tastes like I’m licking an ant hill.” The girl followed us to the fountain machine and took a sip from all the selections, not registering any weird taste, even from the tea and Dr. Pepper selections. Krista and I looked at each other trying to figure out which set of people were the crazy ones, and then the girl asked us, “Are y’all from this area?” To which we responded, no, we weren’t; we were from Houston. She then replied, “Oh, that explains it. The North Dallas area gets our water from a lake, so you’re probably just not used to the taste of the water up here,” and walked away.

——————–

There are countless more stories I could tell about weird situations related to my sense of taste, but I’ll just leave you guys with this last tiny thing. I hate driving by areas of large road construction because I can always taste/smell the iron from the rebar before they pour the cement over it to create the roads or overpasses.

February 17, 2014 / bekbekbekah

Sensory Overload: Smell

I trust everyone survived the weekend without too much craziness happening? I spent my weekend watching movies and The Magic School Bus with our guests at the Beige Castle (mine and my roommate’s name for our house), having Beyonce dance parties at random, and shooting guns.

We discovered I'm actually a pretty decent shot..

We discovered I’m actually a pretty decent shot..

Let’s continue on this journey of the senses though…

SMELL
I think the sense of smell presents me with the best and worst of everything the world has to offer. I have a morbid curiousity about smells, and oftentimes I feel the urge to smell something just so that I can catalog it in my brain for future reference. I don’t like it when people tell me that I shouldn’t smell a thing because it’s so gross or awful, because my brain starts trying to convince itself that it actually really NEEDS to smell that thing. For science.

The other side of the coin to the whole “I need to smell everything so I can document all the things” is that bad smells actually make me very angry. I mean, yes I have the normal physical reactions where I gag or my eyes start tearing up or whatever, but more often than not the bad smells leave me with a sense of rage. The best example of this was during my senior year of high school. SOMEBODY – to this day I have no idea who it was – would use the girl’s bathroom on a daily basis, and leave the entire area smelling putrid. I won’t go into too much detail about what it smelled like, but the scent had its own presence in the bathroom and it was also kind of spicy smelling. It was awful. I understand that sometimes people have emergencies and if your body tells you it needs to go, PLEASE, GO. But my take on bathrooms is that public bathrooms are for convenience and emergencies only. If you’re going to be tearing it up on the daily, you should save that for your house where no one but your family has to deal with it. I didn’t say anything about it the first couple times, because I thought maybe someone was having some temporary gastrointestinal issues. This daily occurence stretched into weeks, and I started talking to my classmates to make sure I wasn’t the only one taking notice of the situation in the bathroom. After two months of this cycle I finally had enough and called a meeting in the girl’s locker room to clear the air about our shared bathroom area.

And my friend Valerie was there to document the assembling of everyone.

And my friend Valerie was there to document the assembling of everyone.

I tried to be as gentle as possible with the subject while also making it very clear that the odor was horrific and that a lot of the girls had decided that if we hadn’t used the bathroom before our lunch break that we weren’t going to use the bathroom until we had to walk over to the other campus for PE or athletics. I don’t know if the culprit was in the locker room at the time or if they heard about my speech from someone else, but the stench in the bathroom stopped almost immediately, and the ladies of TCHS were able to use the facilities in peace from then on. You’re welcome, America.

And while the TCHS bathroom was quite an ordeal, the worst smell I’ve smelled to-date was when my dog Libby got sprayed by a skunk in my dad’s backyard. (Sidenote: to be fair, I’ve never smelled Sex Panther by Odeon so I can’t say whether or not the skunk’s musk or that cologne is worse. Just wanted to be open and honest here..) 

I'ts a formidable scent.. It stings the nostrils - in a good way.

I’ts a formidable scent.. It stings the nostrils – in a good way.

But back to the story: I was in the middle of a dead sleep in my room upstairs and I jolted awake at some unknown stimulus. As I gathered my bearings I realized that I was breathing in a faint, but definitely terrible scent. We’ve already established I have a morbid curiosity with smells, and it was at this point that I decided that I needed to investigate further. I followed the scent downstairs and to our sliding glass door to the backyard. I saw Libby looking really sheepish by the back fence so I opened the door and the scent of skunk musk physically slapped me across the face. I immediately doubled over and screamed because the stench was so terrible. I’ve driven by plenty of skunk roadkill and had to hold my breath so as not to pass out, but there must be a difference between roadkill skunk musk being released and skunk musk being sprayed in a real life emergency. It’s like this thick, garlic-y, burned rubber stench that sticks to your nostrils against your will, and even kind of coats your throat with the grossness of it all. It was awful. Apparently the screaming was enough to grab my dad’s attention and he came rushing out to make sure I was ok. When I was able to think again, I grabbed our massive can of tomato sauce and told my dad to go to the store and get another one. I tied Libby to the patio post, doused her in both cans of tomato sauce and let it soak into her fur. The poor thing looked so dejected and embarrassed. I tried to comfort her, but that required having to be near her and the smell so I couldn’t comfort her for more than 20 seconds at a time. My dad and I then bathed her three times after washing the tomato sauce off, and for the next couple weeks I could still catch a hint of the musk in her neck fur.

During a Young Guns activity day with my company we did this icebreaker exercise where we had to tell a fact that no one would guess about us to the group. My fact was that I actually LOOOOOVE awkward moments (hence this blog) and my friend Ross told everyone that he LOOOOOVES the scent of a skunk. I thought that surely he meant the scent you can smell from roadkill and not a real-life detonation of the musk, so I looked at him and asked, “Have you ever had to smell the scent of a real-life spraying incident? And I don’t mean roadkill?”  He and I then started talking at the same time after I finished the question and our stories were literally the same thing: “My dog was in the backyard and chased a skunk and got sprayed,” except mine ended with, “My first reaction was to cry because it was so awful,” and his was, “It was such a great smell.” And as strange as I think his reaction was, I was more excited that I experienced a movie moment with a coworker. You know, the moment where two practical strangers share a story from their past and as they’re talking at the same time they’re realizing they’re telling the same story word-for-word? And then that’s the moment that changes everything for the two characters? That’s what happens in the movies anyway.. For me and Ross it just solidified the fact that we were going to be great friends.

This was my Young Guns team right after the movie moment.

This was my Young Guns team right after the movie moment.

When Lisa and I were moving to our new house with our third roommate, one of the last things we cleaned at our old apartment was the refrigerator. We had a week left in our lease of the apartment so we were taking our time with cleaning everything and being very meticulous in how we left it for the maintenance crew/the new tenant. The fridge was cleaned out without incident, and we threw out a lot of chicken from our freezer because neither of us remembered how old it was and the freezer in our new place was already almost full.  Because we were already living in the new house we set the AC in our third floor apartment to 85 degrees (it’s never a good idea to turn an AC unit completely off in the middle of August heat in Houston), and left. When we went to the apartment the day before our lease was up to do a final vacuum and dusting, we were met with a pungent odor. It smelled kind of like muddy, mold water at first, and then with each step into the apartment it became stronger and more awful. We were confused about the source of the smell because our washer and water heater weren’t leaking, and there was no water under the fridge or the dishwasher. Lisa went into her bathroom to check if that’s where the smell was coming from, while I followed my nose to the actual source: our trash can. Apparently when we had left the apartment the week before, the one thing we forgot to do was to take the trash can liner out of the trash can and throw it in the dumpster when we left. Which meant that raw chicken had been sitting in that trashcan in a third floor apartment in the hottest part of the Houston summer with basically no AC for seven days straight. When I opened the trashcan lid to confirm my theory (also, to satisy my morbid curiousity) my nose was singed with the terrible scent of poultry death and decay. My eyes watered, my gag reflex let me know it was ready at a moment’s notice, and I screamed (apparently that’s my go-to response for bad smells). Lisa removed the offending trashcan while I turned the AC full blast, opened the windows and patio door and started spraying Febreeze like it was going out of style. Thankfully the air seemed to filter out pretty quickly, and we didn’t receive any complaints or final charges from the management office.

My brother Jeremy is two years older than me, so when we were in school together I was generally left to his “mercies,” which oftentimes left me fearing for my well-being. When he got his license and my parents gave him my dad’s old Subaru Legacy (hereafter referred to as “the Sub”), it was his responsibility to drive me to and from school every day.

This isn't THE Sub, just one like my brother's.. Oddly enough I miss that car.

This isn’t THE Sub, just one like my brother’s (minus the stripes).. Oddly enough I miss that car.

That usually meant having to stay after school during football and basketball season because he played on our school’s team, but that was fine with me. It meant I got to hang out with my friends more or that I could get homework done as needed. I would never call my brother lazy, but if he doesn’t see the value in doing a thing, he is not going to do that thing. Ever. No matter how much pleading and begging happens in that thing’s defense. If it’s not his idea or of his own volition, it’s not going to happen. Why am I saying this? Well, he hated taking his shoulder pads out of the car when we got home, letting them dry on our patio overnight, putting them back in the car the next morning, and repeating the process. But let me paint a clearer picture for you. I live in Houston. Houston, during the summer months of March-September, can be really, really brutal as far as heat goes. In the mornings you can walk out of your house and break a sweat walking from your front door to your car. Now think about that kind of heat mixed with a teen boy who is practicing for at least an hour in one of the hottest parts of the day. Think about how much sweat he would generate, and how over time that sweat might collect and grow bacteria and other unsightly specimens in a practice jersey and in the pads themselves. Then think about how much dew there is in the mornings when living in a climate like Houston’s. Then think about how the sweat in the shoulder pads/practice jersey has no place but its current surroundings to evaporate to, and once the dew point is reached, condense inside the vehicle. Now think about how that smell might linger and grow in a space such as belonged to the Sub. Now think about the poor 8th-10th grade girl might feel when having to enter such a vehicle on the reg and be subjected to the subsequent smells of everything going against her. If you can get an idea of all that, you will have the slightest inkling of how my life was from 2001-2004. When I tried mentioning the possiblity of NOT leaving the pads in the car when we got home, my brother made a comment to the effect of “my car, my rules,” wiped the condensation of the interior of his windshield, and turned the engine on.

Also in high school, and in stark contrast to my brother, I was incredibly preoccupied with smelling good. I knew smelling good was an important part of being able to hang out with people, but also knew that smelling good didn’t always mean picking out scents that I liked best. It also required an understanding of what others around me deemed “a good scent.” In my efforts to gain this knowledge, I often polled people in the store as to which shampoo scent they preferred. I would find two shampoo brands that I thought smelled nice, and then walk up to other patrons of the store and ask them, “Excuse me, I’m trying to determine which of these shampoos smells better. Would you mind smelling them for me?” I would begin this exercise at the start of my mom’s grocery shopping trip and carry it out for the entire visit. This embarrassed my mom to no end, I’m sure, but science is all about repeating the experiment to verify results – HELLOOOO!! I received some valuable feedback from those experiments, and while I rely more on what I like for myself, I do make it a point to make sure my roommates approve of whatever new scent I want to try in the Beige Castle in our air fresheners.

February 10, 2014 / bekbekbekah

Sensory Overload Part Two: Sight

This week is the week of Valentine’s Day, so happy Valentine’s Day to everyone! And if you happen to hate the day – for reasons of hating the commercialism or because of the life state of being forever alone – it will only last 24 hours. My suggestion is to take a healthy dose of Hibernol Thursday night and knock yourself out for the weekend. That way you can avoid all the crazy posts of people bragging about how awesome their day was.

Great for sleeping through the flu season AND avoiding Valentine's Day posts.

Great for sleeping through the flu season AND avoiding Valentine’s Day posts.

But enough of that nonsense. Let’s get back to what’s important:

“If you had to choose between losing your vision or losing your hearing, which would you choose?”

That was the question posed to me at a small group meeting several months ago, and it is also the inspiration behind this series of posts I’m now writing. My last post was about the sense of touch and my more-than-slightly-odd OCD tendencies related to it. This week, however, is all about sight…

SIGHT
When the question was asked I said that I’d choose to lose my vision, which was a startling revelation to even myself. I mean I definitely love the independence afforded me by my ability to see (albeit with the aid of corrective lenses), but the main drawback for me was that I would no longer be able to experience color. I am fascinated by color and how three simple colors can provide the foundation for the millions of colors in this world. I always thought I had a good handle on color and how it works, but then one day many moons ago, one of my friends posted a link on Facebook to an article on The Oatmeal about an animal called the mantis shrimp. It almost made me go insane. Since reading that article last summer, I have gone on no fewer than 15 rants about this one topic to different friends and groups of people (including the fateful dinner where I tripped in the road), and this post will be no different.

The quick and dirty summary of the post is that our eyes have rods and cones in the irises, and the number of different types of cones determines how many different types of colors we see. Dogs have 2 types of cones, humans have 3, butterflies have 5, and the mantis shrimp has 16. SIXTEEN. Do you realize how many colors there actually are in this world that we’re completely oblivious to because we don’t have the capability to detect them? The number of colors visible to humans is exponentially larger than the colors visible to dogs, and that’s because of a single additional cone – a measley 33% increase in the types of cones. Can you imagine what we would be seeing if we had a 533% increase in the number of cones? My God.. it’s mind boggling. Please do yourself a favor and read the article here (it’ll open in a new tab).

Another concept about colors that one of my friends in college brought up is the fact that it’s very possible for two people to look at the same exact color and interpret the shade differently. For instance, if I held up a robin’s egg blue shirt and asked my dad what color it was, he would say, “Blue,” and nothing more. If I asked my roommate Lisa the same thing, she would tell me, “Sky blue.. no wait.. it has a little more green in it than just sky blue.. So I’m gonna go with robin’s egg blue.” Now, I’m not saying my dad can’t tell the difference between different shades, he just doesn’t care enough to call them by such names. I’m pretty sure his color spectrum consists of orange, brown, black, purple, yellow, green, red, and slightly-less red (ie, what you and I would call pink). What I found interesting from my friend’s comment is that two people can look at something and have a completely different experience based on their own perception of it. Then several months ago a different friend of mine posted a link on Facebook to a color test where you had to put all these different colors in the correct order as the gradient changed from one shade to the next; the lower your score the better you performed. I figured I’d give it a go because of my intense love of color, and I managed a perfect score. I know it sounds like a brag, but I figure my actual vision is terrible, so why not rejoice in the fact that I have perfect (or at least perfect according to this test) color perception? If you want to take the test you can find it here.

To apply the same principle from the previous paragraph (say that 5 times fast), someone who is affected by color blindness experiences the world in a vastly different way than I would. In my Broadcast Electronics class in college we had to do these labs where our teacher gave us a schematic and then we would work with our lab partners to create a miniature motor or power a small LED light or some other random circuit that the lab book required. During our lab final though, we had to work independently. Thankfully my struggles with reading a schematic had been mastered a couple weeks prior to this test, but another classmate of mine was about to run into quite an unexpected problem. In a given circuit there can be any number and variety of items depending on what needs to happen and how much power the end goal requires. There are compenents called resistors, and there are a ton of different levels of resistance that can be offered. They’re little capsules with wires poking out each end, and they have color stripes on the capsule portion to denote the level of resistance. The importance in reading the color is that if you complete the circuit with too little resistance you can ruin the other components down the circuit, or if you use too much resistance you won’t supply enough energy to power whatever you’re trying to do. There’s a certain way to read them, and the color coding is a quick and easy way to pick out the correct resistor. Unless you’re color blind. There was a guy in my class that never thought being color blind would affect him in the final because any time he needed help with something he could just ask someone and we’d tell him what color he was confused about and he could move on. In this lab though, he quickly found out he wasn’t allowed to ask anyone and upon asking how he was supposed to choose the correct resistor our professor told him, “Well, if you recall, that’s what your ohm meter is for. Just connect the resistor to the meter and you’ll get your answer quick enough,” and passed on by. Poor guy.. If I were his table partner I would’ve figured a way to help him out.

Now, I know that story isn’t about ME and MY sight, but you’re just going to have to deal with it because neither is this next one. I started going to my church in December 2011, and several months into attending and going to weekly small group meetings I was feeling pretty comfortable with telling jokes and being a little sassy with my church family. My small group has always had some sort of food on hand, and this particular week we were doing Dinner and a Story where we would have a potluck dinner and someone would tell their story about their walk with Christ. I was late in signing up for my food item, so I ended up just bringing some blueberry and mixed berry muffins (two types) for the group. My friend Craig was one of the last people to arrive so everyone else was sitting down with their food and ready to listen when Craig looked up and asked, “Hey, who brough the muffins? Are these two different types? Which one’s blueberry?” so I told him, “Yeah, there’s two types. The blueberry ones are on the right and the mixed berry are on the left,” and then in my sassy voice said, “The bluberry ones just have blue in them. The mixed ones have.. you know.. more than just blue.” And he looked at me and in his own sassy voice responded, “Well, I’m color blind, so I couldn’t quite tell.” Thankfully he knew I was joking, but that didn’t stop me from turning 23 different shades of red.. not like he would’ve noticed them anyway. (Too soon?)

Another reason I love being able to see is that I get to see ridiculous things that take place in this world. In fact, not until now did I realize my struggle for deciding between losing my hearing or my vision was based solely on the beauty/crazy things that both senses offer to me. I guess maybe I’ve just always been able to take those two things for granted that I didn’t debate their practicality.. :/ .. Regardless, I love that I put such an emphasis on seeing the world around me because I’ve been able to witness some crazy things in my time. The following photos have been taken from the annals of my Facebook posts.

abomination3

Everything that is good and useful about a truck was taken away from this vehicle without cause.

art car

This guy lives in my dad’s neighborhood and goes to art car shows in Houston. I’ve talked to him at one of them before.

deleaved tree

A lady got mad at my dad and de-leafed a tree in his church’s side lobby area.

kokopelli poop

This kokopelli bird poop on my windshield.

racist also

This attendance list for people that were invited to my dad’s wedding.

racist

Apparently not white people.

scowling pig

This tear in the tinting at Southwestern Muffler on Highway 6 (the only place I like to take my truck) that looks like a scowling pig wearing a beanie.

sword in the stone

This Sword in the Stone-themed mailbox. That someone paid money for.

toilet

This lonely toilet in a big, big world.

vader fan

My Darth Vader fan blades.

And for good measure, how about some really incredible sights I’ve seen?

blindside

Christian Lindskog of Blindside (the happiness of this moment is probably more related to hearing their music live, but whatever); concert at The Door in Dallas.

beards

If I didn’t have sight I wouldn’t know what beards looked like.. and that would be a real tragedy.

in the caribbean

Do you SEE the colors?! This was an island we flew over when my dad and I took a trip to Haiti in 2011.

pretty leaf

Look at the redness of the veins! Just incredible.

sunset

Look. at. that. sunset. Just gorgeous!

truck1

Obligatory picture of my truck.. I think it’s absolutely beautiful. 🙂

The Kiss by Rene Magritte. This is my most favorite painting; I saw it in the MFA in Houston and fell in love with it.

The Kiss by Rene Magritte. This is my most favorite painting; I saw it in the MFA in Houston in 2007 and fell in love with it.

There are countless more sights that I’ve seen and colors I’ve been able to log in my brain space, but there really isn’t that much space to put all of them. And I highly doubt anyone – except possibly Krista and Lisa – cares to know every single thing about every single thing I’ve seen.. So I guess we’ll part ways here. See y’all next week.



(See what I did there?)

February 3, 2014 / bekbekbekah

Sensory Overload Part One: Touch

“If you had to choose between losing your vision or losing your hearing, which would you choose?”

This was a question posed during one of my small group meetings several months ago, but  the question has stuck with me. I don’t know why because it was asked during a bunch of other icebreaker questions that we were all answering for fun, but that’s not the point. It made me think about all the five senses, and I started thinking about which one of the five I’d give up if I really had to. After pondering all the ins and outs of the question (let’s be honest here – I’m single and have WAYYY too much time on my hands), I still can’t really come to a conclusion. During these times of reflection, I’ve managed to stir up some really great memories, as well as some habits I can willingly admit to as weird.

Also, this is going to be a series of posts. There are a lot of reasons behind this, namely the fact that I can have 5 posts from a single topic (thus making it easier for me to post consistently rather than sporadically like Krista and I have been doing for some months now). I also have a lot of stories associated with the different senses, so unless y’all are interested in reading a super-post, I’m going to break them up so it’s not SO crazy. That being said, this week’s topic will be the sense of touch.

TOUCH
I have a lot of OCD tendencies in my day-to-day life. None of them dominate me or have control over my actions, but the tendencies that present the strongest obstacle for me are the ones related to touch. When I was younger my mom would take me shopping with her, and because I found shopping to be very boring unless we were shopping for Littlest Pet Shop accessories and animals, I had to find ways of entertaining myself. My favorite stores were the ones that had the clothes displayed on racks like these:

DSC06559_compressed

because I could walk between the two bars and be completely surrounded by fabrics and textures. I don’t know how else to describe it without sounding like a clinically insane person, but feeling all the different types of cloth on my face and hands presented me with all kinds of euphoria. Even now if I were short enough to walk through those clothes racks, that’s where you could find me on a slow Saturday. Just feeling all the different kinds of fabrics. Looking like a crazy person.

I have another OCD tendency where I like to touch the wall while I’m walking in a hallway. This habit went unnoticed by me until I went to college in 2007. Just like there are a ton of different textures to be felt while walking in between rows of clothes, different walls have different textures. The walls in my house growing up had popcorn texture on them (you know, the kind of texture that was razor sharp and could slice you with the precision of a surgeon’s scalpel with even the slightest hint of pressure?), so touching the hallway walls wasn’t much of a problem until we moved to a new house. The new house had a non-lethal texture and every few steps I would touch the wall or tap my finger against it while walking. My high school building lightly textured wall paper on them, the company I worked at had a mix of wall paper and textured paint, and my dad’s friend who is a retired professional painter redid all the walls in my dad’s church with a variety of textures. As previously stated, these habits went unnoticed by me until I went to school at ORU. My first couple of weeks there I guess I had been going about my life as I normally would, until one day when I was coming back from my last class. I tapped a particular portion of the hallway wall and proceeded to the end of the hall where mine and Krista’s room was.  I had just stepped inside my room when I heard someone throw open their door and yell, “Who keeps tapping on my wall?! Seriously! It’s like EVERY day and it’s not funny anymore!” As I was the only person in the hall at that time they were clearly talking to me, which made me stop and recount my actions, which led to the discovery of obsession with touching/tapping walls. I recognized the behavior and ever since I have been very careful to resist any and all urges to run my hand along a wall or tap my finger against it.

As much as I love to feel different textures and such, I cannot handle life when I have to touch my own finger tips. And I guess it’s not so much touching my finger tips that’s the problem, but having to manipulate small objects which forces me to touch my own finger tips. I have no idea how to describe the sensation because I feel like not very many people can relate to it, but this fact about me made life as a child horrible. At the end of the day in grade school our teachers would tell us to pick up X-number of items off the floor so we could leave the classroom clean. I’m all for having a clean classroom, but the items we had to pick up were always miniscule – paper shreds, pencil shavings, grass pieces that were carried in on our shoes, etc. Every day at 3:25pm my own personal hell would be gearing up to unleash itself, and I had to steady my nerves for the torture they were about to undergo. Other activities I hate doing include having to count lots of change or put coins into paper rolls, any and all forms of jewelry-making, soldering circuits for my Broadcast Electronics class in college, and untangling necklaces if there’s a knot in the chain. I defer these activities to any other human being that is not me when I can.

My final anecdote: sometimes when I’m bored at work or I’m at a point where I can let my mind wander, I imagine items – with textures I don’t particularly like – being rubbed against each other. I have no idea why I do this or what made me start imagining these things, but the result of it is getting the chills all over and being mildly disgusted at the combinations. The worst combination I’ve been able to come up with is construction paper being rubbed against a really rusty nail.

January 27, 2014 / bekbekbekah

Bekah and the Y Chromosomes

I think the only saving grace with my strange propensity to run into weird situations in life is that I find them to be very humorous instead of just being embarrassed by them. Please take note of the word “just” in that previous sentence though, because I am constantly embarrassed by the things I do and say; it just so happens that I can also find humor in them in some way. One of the main sources of this type of embarrassment is my interactions with the opposite sex. I feel like many people can relate with me on this one. I think I’ve also said this before, but it bears repeating: I don’t even have to be attracted to the person I’m interacting with to make a fool of myself, although if I AM attracted to them it makes things much worse. Apparently there’s just something about the Y chromosome that makes me lose my wits.

When I worked at Global Sleep I always tried to be very upbeat for the patients that called in to request medical records or check on their referral status. A lot of our patients were in the military, and it was a pretty common occurrence for them to have last-minute orders for studies and machines and such because of their deployment schedule. I always tried to be nice to them over the phone and be extra expedient with their requests to try to relieve any stress they might have over the process. One guy called to request that his records be sent to a different doctor than the one we had on file so I told him I could help him but that he had to sign a release form with the other doctor’s information on it. He was asking me questions about how he would receive the form and how he needed to return it to me, and I was trying to let him know that however he wanted to send it back to us was fine. Some people get stressed if they have to fax something back instead of emailing, but our systems were all digital, so faxes and emails alike came into the same inbox on our end. I was trying to explain that to him, but instead of saying something normal like, “Whatever way is easiest for you to return the form will work. I’ll be on the lookout for it and will process it before the other documents,” I said, “You can fax it, scan and email it, or mail it. Heck, you can even send it via carrier pigeon if you wanted.”

Can someone please make carrier pigeons a things again??

Can someone please make carrier pigeons a things again??

His end of the line was quiet for a few seconds after I uttered those words, letting the reality of my statement soak in for both of us, and then he was like, “So I’ll probably just scan it after I sign it and email it back to you, yeah?” After I hung up the phone I looked over at my coworkers that shared the room with me and they were all looking at me with befuddled faces trying to figure out what was going on in my brain. This wasn’t my only embarrassing interaction with this guy though, because when he called back to make sure I had gotten his release form, I told him that I had already processed it and faxed his records to the other doctor because I “knew how important it was for him to get his machine before being deported.” You can read about that story in a previous post of mine.

When I started working for Wood Group Mustang I was super eager to please and to make friends with everyone I met. In the first two weeks of working here I began working on my first safety video that was going to be sent company-wide, and I wanted to make sure everything was perfect. I managed to throw a script together pretty quickly, and then got someone to volunteer as my main actor. I met him the morning of our first shoot together, and I could tell right away that he was going to be really great to work with. This guy looks like Jeremy Renner (my celebrity man crush, runner up only to Charlie Day and Jimmy Fallon) which threw me for a bit of a loop.

Can you blame me?

Can you blame me?

Just look at him in that bowtie!

Ok last one. I promise.

Ok last one. I promise.

But he was also really good in front of the camera. I was really impressed with our first take for our first shot, and I tried telling him in a normal way that I appreciated his time. But again, because he is in possession of a Y chromosome, my mind forgot how to use normal words to create normal sentences, and instead of just thanking him for his time I said, “Thank you SO MUCH for volunteering for this video. I’m sorry I can’t give you a charge code for this, but I could do like maybe a nice steak dinner or something.” I saw his face register my words and immediately regretted them because it sounded like a pick up line, and I had only met the guy 10 minutes prior to that moment. I quickly tried to recover and explain what I meant, but we both just ended up laughing at the absurdity of the moment. A couple months after this incident I ran into him at our company’s anniversary party and he introduced me to his wife who told me, “Oh my God! Adam came home that day and told me how you accidentally asked him out right after meeting him and we laughed so hard about it!” That’s a story I’ll probably never live down with those two, either.

Last November right before Thanksgiving I had dinner with a guy at a British pub in Houston. The night before that dinner I had read a lot of reviews about the place because I wanted to make sure I knew what food to order and what kind of beer would go best with my dish. When I went to sleep, I dreamed that I was having dinner at that pub with Brett Favre and that he was berating me for choosing the restaurant and for ordering the shepherd’s pie and just generally making me feel like a stupid person. When I woke up the next morning I was kind of worried that it was a bad omen about how things would go, but then I remembered that the guy I was eating dinner with was in fact NOT Brett Favre so it was probably going to be just fine. When we were at dinner I told him about the dream and he was like, “Oh, well, sorry I’m not Brett Favre. That would probably be cooler,” and I just replied, “Nah, you’re better company than him.” I thought that was a decent response and mentally patted myself on the back for not saying or doing something weird in the moment. After dinner we went to a nearby coffeehouse for more warm liquids (it was really rainy and cold in Houston at the time), and as he parked on the street I noticed that my side was going to be completely surrounded by a huge puddle. I didn’t want to make mention of it though, because I didn’t want to seem like I was being high maintenance or afraid of water, so I just kept quiet. Once I got out of the car I tried to find a way for me to cross said puddle without having to step in it, but the puddle was almost as wide as his car (ie – too wide for me to step across or even hop safely over) and the entire side of the street was in the same situation. Rather than deliberate needlessly, I just took my shoes off and walked into the puddle. As soon as I stepped into the water my feet sank into the silt at the bottom and I could feel it squeezing its way between my toes. It was also painfully frigid, so I hurried across, washing off what I could with the water on top, but then I was faced with the task of putting my shoes back on in the middle of the street. I managed to get my left foot into its shoe, but as I was working on the right shoe a car turned onto the street and I had to get out of the way. With my right foot only halfway in the shoe I started hobbling out of the way so as not to be hit by the car, then remembered the puddle and started shuffling faster because I didn’t want to get sprayed with water either.

I was wearing a white shirt and wanted to avoid a situation like this.

I was wearing a white shirt and wanted to avoid a situation like this.

As I approached a safe distance, my right foot landed on a broken patch of the road and I lost my balance, rolled my ankle a little, stumbled a few more steps, and had to catch myself on a light pole outside. The guy was completely oblivious to all these happenings, which was fine by me, as I was willing to just forget about it and not make mention of it. Once we got inside and ordered, I realized I wasn’t going to be ok with the grossness of my foot/shoe situation, so I excused myself to go to the bathroom to clean my shoes. The left foot wasn’t too bad; I was able to get most of the mud off with the puddle, but my right foot had more mud because of my stumbling in the road. Once I finished with the right foot I looked at the paper towel and had to do a double take because there was a large bright patch of red on it. I looked down at my foot and saw that during my stumbling in the road I managed to rip about a square inch of skin off my foot and that I was just bleeding into my shoes. I put my shoes back on and requested a band aid from the guy behind the counter, and the guy I was with looked at me and said, “A band aid? What’d you do?” and I was just like, “Oh you know. Just scraped my foot a little while crossing the street,” and left it at that.

God bless the poor man that decides he wants to take part in the life of Bekah Brown..

December 9, 2013 / bekbekbekah

The Day Bekah Begged for Death

Alternatively, this post could have been labeled “Bekah Experiences a Kidney Stone.”

I know a lot of times I have mentioned that I love using hyperbole and that almost every waking moment of my life is spent speaking in hyperbole. It’s definitely my love language, and I usually judge my compatibility with a person based on how often they stop me in a conversation to either explain that they were being facetious or to lay out precisely where I’m wrong with a statement I’ve made. That being said, I will not be using hyperbole to describe any of the day’s events in this post. What I’m saying is not being exaggerated, and I’m not playing up anything – I swears – so just get ready for how ridiculous I become when I’m experiencing pain.

Last week started off pretty normal for me. Monday was my first day to be part of the marketing department at my company. Tuesday I had my first meeting with them, met all my fellow team members, and even got to meet with a couple of our vendors. Wednesday morning I woke up a little later than I had planned, but it was a business as usual and I was excited about the day because I was going to get to see the president of my company – aka, my BFF. Little did I know, my day was about to take a completely unexpected turn.

I was getting ready to straighten my hair when I started to feel a weird pain in my back. It wasn’t so much a pain as it was a really weird tightness that progressively became more intense. I was really confused by it because I’ve never felt anything like that before, so I just thought maybe I’d slept funny and that I had agitated something in my back when I reached up to my head with my straightener. Fast forward about 15 seconds and I was on the floor because of the searing pain that shot through my entire body. Now keep in mind, I’ve never experienced a kidney stone before so I had no idea what I was feeling or even what might be the cause. I immediately began thinking of all the horrible things that might be happening to my body, and I was definitely convinced that I was mere moments away from death. I did nothing but weirdly crouch for a couple minutes because my body forgot how to actually work and move. Nothing helped ease the pain, so I did what any sane human being would do and I began thinking of where the best place for me to lay down was so that when I died I wouldn’t ruin any carpet, but where my roommates could easily spot me rather than dying in my room and no one finding me for a couple days. At this point it might be good to mention that I have watched WAY too many CSI and police dramas in my 26 years. Once I realized that my death was going to drag itself out I called my mom frantic and out of breath to let her know that I probably wasn’t going to see her before I died. She answered the phone and I said, “Mom. Don’t freak out, but I’m in severe pain,” to which she responded, “Where are you? I’m coming to get you.”

I gave her my address (I’ve lived in 3 different places this year, so it’s been hard for my mom to keep up with my various locations) and she came to pick me up and take me to the ER. In the meantime I called my dad to also let him know of my impending death, and as he talked to me on the phone and started praying for me I began shaking, my vision started swimming, I began feeling nauseated, and the pain stepped it up to a whole. nutha. level. I did my best to not scream expletives on the phone. I mean really, what would it have said about me as a person if I started going to town with profanities while my pastor/father was in the middle of praying for me? About 20 minutes later my mom finally showed up (I live inbound so my mom had to drive with all the morning traffic to get to my house) and we were on our way to the hospital.

She drove like a crazy person to the ER – or at least so she says – I didn’t see a single thing that happened because I was doubled over her center console trying to find a position that would bring me some hint of relief from the stabbing, twisting, prodding pressure that was wreaking havoc on my body. I don’t remember everything I said during that trip, aside from apologizing for how many times I dropped the F-bomb and shouting various other profanities. When we were close to the hospital I realized how much complaining I was doing and the logical side of my brain was like, “Hey, your complaining isn’t doing anything to ease your pain, and you’re actually upsetting you mom because she can’t physically do anything for you at the moment.” With that in mind I tried really hard to not be such a Debbie Downer about the pain, so I tried to make a joke about never wanting kids if this was what labor felt like and to ask how people at large can take feeling normal for granted all the time and not realize how awesome it is until you’re dying in the front seat of your mother’s Dodge Nitro. The humor only lasted for about 5 minutes because the only thing my body wanted to do was writhe in pain.

When we got to the ER I stumble-sprinted inside to beg the front desk person for mercy and to just shoot me up with something – I didn’t care what – to make the pain go away. We didn’t have to wait THAT long in the waiting room, but it felt like an eternity. Sitting and laying down only intensified my pain so the only thing I could do was massage my back, squat by the counter and stretch my back out, and pace around like a caged animal while cursing like a sailor under my breath. About 10 minutes into the wait I felt my anger start to rise and was on the very cusp of becoming belligerent. I was having visions of kicking over some chairs and ripping some cushions off a few others.. anything for them to take me to the back and sedate me. Criminal charges were of no concern to me, all I wanted was my pain medicine fix.

They finally admitted me to triage where they made me sit and asked me stupid questions like, “On a scale of 1-10 what’s you’re pain level?” I did my best to be civil and not curse the triage nurse out, but my resolve to remain a kind human being was only hanging on by a thread. Apparently my blood pressure was some ungodly level because my mom’s eyes got really big and the nurse started typing faster. Then I had to walk to the scale for the nurse to weigh me, and the pain spiked again and my brain was like, “Hey, Bekah, I’m getting a lot of signals from your back right now, and in order to process all of them I’m going to need to forgot how to walk, stand, or even control your muscles for a couple minutes,” and I just crumpled on the ground and began sobbing and begging for someone to end it. The nurse took me to a private room, the pain spiked again, and my brain was overwhelmed again, but this time the physical response I had to my brain giving precedence to the pain in my kidney was to puke. A lot. Thankfully my mom had managed to grab a bag before we got to the room, and it came in handy. The doctor walked into the room in the middle of this puke session, and asked me more questions, said it was probably a kidney stone and that she’d be right back with a pain killer and an IV.

Now please understand, I’ve always HEARD that kidney stones are one of the worst pains you can feel in this life – HEARD being the key word here – but I was convinced that the pain I was experiencing was related to all of my internal organs deciding to rebel and preparing to explode. I thought the doctor was crazy to think that the agony I was in could be caused by a mere kidney stone, but all I really cared about what that she said she was going to order a pain killer for me. She left very quickly and I turned to my mom again and said, “There’s no way this is just a kidn- Wait. Did she say IV?! No one said anything about needles today!! DID SHE SAY SHE WAS GOING TO GIVE ME AN IV?!?!” The last time an IV was administered without any warning I managed to tell my dentist that I hated him while I was under (remember that story?), and I began contemplating if the pain I was experiencing was worth the trauma of facing a needle in a few minutes.

The nurse came in and I was on the verge of telling her I didn’t need the pain killer anymore, but then the pain spiked and I gave her my arm without any protest. I did warn her that I didn’t need to see the needle and that she shouldn’t tell me what she was doing because if I see the needle I’m more likely to cry and I didn’t want to anticipate it to make it worse. I definitely still cried, but at that point my body was so tired of being in pain I just gave up.

She administered the medicine and let it start to take its affect and then left me and my mom in the room alone. Once it started kicking in and my brain was able to start taking stock of other things in the world other than the pain coursing through my body, I realized how tired and exhausted I was and then how great it felt to not be dead or dying anymore. My brain switched from caged-animal-mode to I’m-going-to-be-happy-and-love-everything-mode, and my mom and I proceeded to watch two hours of Family Feud while waiting for a nurse to take me in for a CAT scan. Everything was amazing and great and the nurses and I were making jokes, talking about tattoos, and laughing up and down the halls. I passed the stone while I was there and once I was cleared for release, I had to get dressed again. As I grabbed my shirt I was stunned at how wet it was. Apparently the body’s natural response to that much pain for that long is to just start sweating A LOT. I hadn’t noticed it while I was in the middle of the agonizing pain (I mean, I was a little preoccupied), but now that I could pay attention to the world around me I was disgusted at how much I had been sweating before. I noticed this once before when I was getting my tattoo, but it was nothing like the aftermath of the kidney stone.

My kidney stone was 3mm, similar in size to this picture I randomly found on the internet.

My kidney stone was 3mm, similar in size to the stones in this picture I randomly found on the internet.

Upon leaving, I had to pass by all of the people who witnessed my entrance into the ER, and then the embarrassment began. All I could think of was that everyone must have thought I was faking and that I was really just a drug-addict looking for a fix wherever I could. And I can’t really blame them if that’s what they were actually thinking. I mean, when I arrived I was stumbling around, I couldn’t speak properly, I’m sure I was flushed and sweaty, my entire body was shaking, I was letting out a steady stream of expletives, I was borderline belligerent, and I eventually just collapsed on the floor and pleaded with everyone in the triage area to just “give me something, anything,” to end my suffering. What a stark difference compared to my countenance after receiving a healthy dose of pain killers! I was clear-eyed, standing upright, walking with a spring in my step, laughing, smiling, talking about all the food I wanted to eat, and being excited about life. I can’t blame anyone if they thought I was an addict, nor do I care because my pain had ceased and I was immediately filled with the joy of being normal again.

My mom took me out to lunch and then dropped me off back home so I could get some sleep. Never underestimate how tired your body will be after a bout with such intense and long-lasting pain as a kidney stone. I took a 5-hour nap, woke up for dinner, and then went to bed at about 2 hours after that.

Many thanks to everyone who called/texted/commented on Facebook to make sure I was doing ok.. It only took about 1.5 hours for me to pass the stone (I have a cousin who said she had one that was stuck for TWO WEEKS), so I consider myself pretty blessed to have been eased of the pain so quickly.

So if there’s a lesson to be learned in all this it’s this: don’t get a kidney stone. You will literally be begging for death rather than suffer a second longer.

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