A ‘GTL’ Memorial Day Weekend #MDW

Hi y’all! Hope everyone had a wonderful Memorial Day Weekend! I was actually thinking earlier about how, even though my weekend was more on the relaxing/ getting organized side, it actually still fit into my old-school “Guido Jersey”-themed Summer Kick-Off MDW’s… Ya know, back when I could more easily bounce back from a weekend of lush drinking and dancing on bar stools.

In case you didn’t know this about me, I’m from New Jersey. When I lived in California and someone asked me where I was from, they usually responded with, “But you don’t look like Snooki!?”, after I told them.” I, then, usually retaliated with: “You’re stereotyping.” And, also a: “Not everyone looks like they are DTF in New Jersey.” I always got a kick out of their faces after that one. 🤣

Anyways, I did go out Friday evening– Had a fun time catching up with a friend I met last year on a film set, (It was actually the first film I shot, just six months after my surgery) and then we met up with my coworkers at a Summer Kick-Off/ Birthday Party.

 

Saturday I hung out with my brother, sister and her family at her friends’ BBQ in Pennsylvania (not too many fist pumpers there), and then the rest of my weekend was more on the GTL scale (Gym, Tan, Laundry.) – which I’m completelyyyyy and utterly okay with. In fact, I’m proud of myself.

*Disclaimer, I do not go tanning anymore. I ruined my skin quite enough in college when I fried myself twice a week. The "T" for "Tan" nowadays represents some other form of grooming. In this case, mani/ped.

Any ways, I tell you all this because I know I spoke about patterns in my last post. Patterns and break downs/ panic attacks, etc. Well, earlier this week my “patterns” got the best of me and I finally cracked. Wasn’t exactly a good moment for me. However, it helped push me past the “awareness” period I was in, and into a “take action” zone. Enough was enough with all of this chaos. It was time to get organized. After weeks of living a chicken, running around with my head cut off lifestyle, I’m sure you can only imagine what my car and room looked like. (I’m a commuter, also remember that. Yeah… there’s the bigger picture.) So I spent the past few days “manicuring” my car and room- (don’t worry, my own nails and feet also got some necessary attention)- And now I feel like a whole new person!

It’s so true that if you are living in chaos and clutter, your mind will reflect chaos and clutter. So if you are feeling this way, don’t feel down on yourself for partying this weekend. That’s necessary too! All work and no play makes Jack/Jill a dull boy/girl. Just make a note, this week, to declutter and get organized. Which leads me to my next tip… Write. It. Downnnn!

A friend and I were talking a few months ago about how we have/ have had anxiety attacks (at that time I hadn’t had one in a while… Shot myself in the foot there, didn’t I?). We both live somewhat entrepreneurial lifestyles which can be great in many instances, but in others, it can be extremely complicated and stressful. The biggest and best thing I’ve learned lately is to write shiiiyyyat down. We saw each other again recently and talked about how writing our tasks down has made our lives so much easier and less complicated. Because even though you might have a great memory, you’re actually exhausting energy thinking about and grappling for the different tasks you have to accomplish. If it’s written right in front of you, you’re not exhausting any energy thinking about it, because it’s right there. It also feels sooooooo good to cross it off after you’ve accomplished it. Seriously, try it! And really strike it through. MUCH better than just placing a simple check next to it. Checkkkkkk! 😉👍🏻

Also along the lines of writing things down… Time Blocking. Now this is something people have been telling me to do for a couple of months now. And I know I need to do it. I even SAY I’m going to do it. And yet I still haven’t done it. Bottom line, I’m resisting and just need to tackle the damn task. So that’s my next goal “To Do”, after I’m done with this post. (See, I’m purposely writing this here to hold myself accountable. And I’m holding all of YOU accountable today, to help me with that. HA!).. And maybe it will inspire some of you to do the same thing, if this is something you need help with. I met a new friend at my sister’s friends’ BBQ (I looooove meeting new people BTW. It just fascinates me how there are so many people out there that are so interesting and have such wonderful stories to share 0:) Sorry, had to deter there to express that, for a moment.) Anywho, he’s ALL about time blocking- which was funny that the Universe/God introduced us. It’s like it was literally yelling at me, “TIME BLOCK ALREADY, CAROLINE! IT WORKS!!!” Okay, okay, okay alreadyyyyy…

Now, what does any of this have to do with Scoliosis? Also, like I said in my last post, Scoliosis takes place in the nerves. Your mind and nervous system is probably sending you in different directions, on a pretty continuous basis. That’s okay! You are most probably a very creative person. Which is AHHMAZINGGGG! Embrace it. But it is probably, also, your Achilles heel. Find the balance by writing things down. Just seeing your thoughts and “To Do” tasks down on paper can do wonders for your mind and assist you with staying on a more fluid and concise road. (Vs. the trepid, yet spastic and curvy road of your past.)

Listen, no one is perfect. And all of your flaws and past mistakes, are actually beautiful, imperfect and have made you who you are and are still bringing you to where you are going. Embrace them! And be kind to yourself… that’s another thing I think we all are working on. I know it can be tough to look in the mirror and see a body that is curved differently than others. It’s probably easier to pick yourself a part for a rib swaying in the wrong direction… or for that scar that you NEVER wear backless shirts to reveal… or for those rods you feel inside your muscles, that make you stiff or conscientious of the way you’re sitting or standing at a fitting, in a performance, at work or on a date. I know, I get it. But let it go. Those qualities are things about you that make you stronger, gentler and more intriguing. Do yoga, stop over-thinking everything and just breathe. You are imperfect. You are H U M A N. Breathe.

I stumbled across this card a very dear friend to me gave me, right around the time that I had just moved back from California and was about to have my spine fused. I was depressed and down on myself. I didn't TRULY value it's message, then. I mean, I got it, but when I saw it again, while cleaning my room this weekend, it made me genuinely happy. And that was when I knew I was TRULY on a road to the beauty in imperfections. I KNOW I would be a different person today if I hadn't made the mistakes I made or gone on the journeys I have been on. For all of them, and for all the people I have met along the way, or left behind in the past- I am so INCREDIBLY grateful. You have made me who I am, today. A fierce Woman Warrior, that I am truly proud of. Be proud of your journeys, as well... Life is beautiful and we only get one ✨💫🌟

I hope everyone has a wonderful week and thinks positive thoughts. It’s a short one, so if you have nothing positive to think about, remind yourself of that. Or go for a long walk, exercise, eat some Dark Chocolate (there’s healthy ones!)… get those endorphins going. Or better yet, go get yourself a manicure 💅💋😉

‘Til next post. XOXO,

Your Little Fighter 💫

Update on my Recovery and “I Remember When…”

So, I’m starting this off by saying, once again, that I’m sorry about my delay in posts. And I PROMISE to get better about this moving forward. I was in a temp position in NYC for two and a-half months and it literally took over my life. A 3 to 4 hour commute (total) every day, on top of an 8+ hour work-day was not the most ideal for me, 6 months post-op… Plus it had been a while since I had even worked in a desk position. SO! Needless to say, I had to say goodbye to it. But when every door closes, a new one opens and now I have more time for posts such as these! So YAY! 😀

To give you some more background on where I’m at right now, I started working out again after my 3 month follow-up with Dr. Errico. BUT, keep in mind, I had been walking almost daily around my neighborhood since the day after I got back from my procedure (aka. my 6-day stay at NYU Langone in NYC), so I felt like I was ready. I had been recommended by a friend who had already had the surgery to walk, walk, walk…  and then walk some more in order to get some movement in the lower extremities to activate the bowels. (When your on pain killers with a dosage of every four hours, you get a BIT constipated… sarcasm on the “BIT” part). Anyways, I was excited to be working out in a gym again. I felt like I was making strides with my recovery… but like many things in my life, I got a little overzealous. (I’m an Aries… aka. Fire Sign… aka. I put my ALL into EVERYTHING I do… Can you blame me now??)

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How ’bout now?

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I met with my friend, who is a physical trainer and former body builder, who showed me some exercises to do to strengthen my back muscles… Yes, I said former body builder. No, I am not a huge person. Yes, I think I’m a machine… Moving on. SO, on top of the commute, my “reach in the dark” workouts and the cold weather that I still don’t think I’m re-accustomed to, my muscles started to get super stiff and I ended up pulling a muscle in my back :/ Yeahhhhh, I know, I know, I know, I know!

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But I’m okay again! YAY!! 😀 I’m in physical therapy and feeling awesome again. I just needed to take a few steps back again in order to move forward. (It’s amazing what some patience and a little TLC can do for a person. <3 ) My physical therapist, also, reminded me that I had a “really big surgery”, and “not too long ago” (8 months ago now, to be precise – crazy how time flies!!) Which was something I really needed to hear. I’m really hard on myself. I’m also one of those people who still thinks she can do a back flip on a trampoline the same way that she used to do them when she was twelve. (I know. I’m slightly crazy. That’s why I’m an artist – insert wink face here.)

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My birthday was last month and I was getting together with my very dear friend and also agent for a catch-up dinner and drinks. (I just have to add, I feel very blessed to have her in my life. Not many people have this type of relationship with their agents. In fact, I’d say she is my friend first and agent after that… We just get each other. We knew each other from our past and were reconnected when I moved back to the east coast. I think the Universe brings people (back) into your life for reason(s). Some people stay for a fleeting moment and teach you a life-long lesson. Others stay a while, go on the ride with you, vent with you, cry with you, laugh with you and enlighten your world. So thanks, my love, for all you do. You’re a badass chick and I ad<3re you.) Sorry. Needed to add that sappy moment, cuz I’m warm and fuzzy like that 0:) …

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… Anyways, she was looking for fun things for us to do in the Union Square area and came across a sex toy museum. (Sorry, this is where it maybe gets PG-13 rated?) Apparently that night they were having an exhibit where you could jump on large inflatable boobs. (I know that sounds weird, but check it out, it looks like a lot of FUN!!) But I bring this up just as another example of what kind of person I am. You see, she was the one who said, “Caroline just had back surgery. She probably shouldn’t be jumping around on large inflatable breasts like we are fifteen again.” Well, perhaps we all shouldn’t be… but hey, whatever keeps us young at heart, right?! 😉 So no gentleman, I will not be posting an pictures of us “pillow fighting” on large inflatable boobs here. Sorry to disappoint.

Okay, so now back to my back surgery and my hospital stay. I recorded this video in my hospital bathroom the day before I was going to leave. I remember trying to record it in my hospital bed, and the nurses kept coming in and out and I remember just feeling weird… I’m a pretty open person but some things you just have to do privately. Like bathroom selfies and documenting your recovery from back surgery. (Hmmm…. ?)

After watching this again, I realize how much I had forgotten about my surgery. And James’s words of “You had a really big surgery,” resounded loudly in my head. (My physical therapist’s name is James. He’s from New Zealand. He’s really cool.) I had forgotten all about the pain I felt, the ups and downs of my emotions… some because of what I had been through and some because of all of the medications I was on. Dude, that ish is no joke… the shakes I’m talking about in the video? Ugh, those shakes were the WORST!! For those of you looking into having Scoliosis surgery, I’m not trying to scare you. I’m just being honest. BUT you should also know that everyone’s body is different.

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For instance, my very dear friend from high school had her surgery with Dr. Errico in 2007 and the pain medication she was prescribed made me want to puke and did zilch for me. The stuff I was on did nada for her. (You see?)

Kerri was actually the one who inspired me to have the surgery (Thanks Ker! Love you long time <3 ) and had nothing but amazing things to say about Dr. Errico 🙂 and his team. I remember seeing mutual friends commenting on her Facebook page those many years ago, asking how she was feeling, etc. I instantly sent her a message: “Oh my gosh! Did you have the surgery?!” Of course she got back to me right away and told me that it was both the best and worst thing she had ever been through. (Apparently her pain medication caused her to hallucinate and see sharks and small children swimming around her bedside… Me? I just felt funny. And was an emotional MESS!! Again, ya see??)

Anyways, I needed to hear more about this “Spinal Fusion” and Scoliosis surgery thing. I’d say this was when I started researching it here and there, when I had the time. I always knew I would have to have the surgery at some point in my life, but when you’re younger, you don’t ever think it’s “going to happen to you”. We’re all invincible then. (And I’m STILL invincible now… remember?? 😉

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I remember Kerri sitting behind me in Chemistry class and teasing me, “I can see your cuuuuurve…” I, of course, would laugh. And then a few minutes later, I’d turn back around, (on a serious note) and say “Can you really??,” deadpan but devastated. (Yes, I was heady back then too.) I told her I was wearing my brace at night… wasn’t it working??

Dr. Altongy, my doctor that first diagnosed me in Summit, NJ when I was fifteen, told me back then that I’d probably have to have surgery at some point in my life, but I don’t think I really “heard it” until I got older. To be honest, I was too preoccupied with another trauma going on in my life that I won’t get into… (I’m an open person, but some things need to be kept private. #SorryImNotSorry.) Well, Kerri planted the seed that my Charleston Brace wasn’t going to correct everything, and it remained in the back of my mind until one day, after I graduated from college…

I was working for my Dad (I’ve done this almost every summer since I was twelve), and it was a slow day at the office. I was feeling some new aches and pains in my back (probably because my body was confused by this new “desk job thing” and wondering what happened to a few hours of class a day and all the booze– Oh URI, I will never forget you ;P Shout out!! ) Anyways, I started researching Scoliosis and eventually stumbled upon a page that told me that people with Scoliosis have a life expectancy of ten years less than the average person’s. Wait, WHAT?!? (Probably my first lesson not to believe everything you read on the internet.)

I called up my then boyfriend, hysterically crying, while my “boss” wasn’t looking of course, and his response? Well, he started laughing at me. (Shocker.) I was being “crazy”. Then my Dad walked in and yelled at me for being on the phone… “Dad! Don’t you know I’m dying!! Don’t you care?!” (Huh?) I explained to him what I had found out… and then HE started laughing. (Double shocker… are you seeing a pattern here?) ***Side note, to be fair, they are both great men and my Dad has a tendency to laugh when he’s concerned.

Okay… so now fast forward to August of 2015 when I had my surgery. All summer long I was texting Kerri with questions about the surgery, asking for advice and recommendations, how she felt, before, during and after… and probably the best texts were over whether or not I could drink at the wedding I was in the weekend before. “Why wouldn’t you be able to drink, Car?” “Well the instructions say no alcohol for two weeks before surgery!” (I’m a bit of a rule follower, if you can’t tell.) Kerri’s response, “Car, drink whatever the hell you want. I was so nervous, I probably drank all the way up until the night before!” (Hahaha she still makes me laugh 😛 And yes, I drank and had a great time at the wedding 0:) ) So needless to say, feeling nervous and anxious before your surgery is completely normal! I remember even having second thoughts and my mother reassuring me that I was making the right decision. And both of my Kerri friends reassuring me, as well: “Dr. Errico basically invented the surgery,” Kerri (who had the surgery) said. “Car, my boyfriend knows all about Dr. Errico and says you are in great hands!”, Kerri (my agent) said. (Her boyfriend is a Resident.) And then my cousin, who used to sell the devices that are actually put in your back, also knew all about Dr. Errico and rest-assured… I WAS IN GOOD HANDS! (I already knew I was in good hands, but sometimes it’s just nice to be validated 😉 )

Kerri (the one who also had the surgery) promised that she would come visit me in the hospital… and sure enough, even though we hadn’t seen each other since high school, (YEP!) there she was, right by my bed side 0:)

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No one will ever understand what you go through with Scoliosis and the surgery, until you’ve met someone who has. (Shout out to the other lovely ladies with Scoliosis that I’ve met just in this past year! 😉 ) I’m not saying that it is this awful disease… I am fully aware that there are worse things out there. But as Oprah once said, “Pain is pain, is a pain, is a pain,” and (also) “All pain is the same.” So basically, her message: if you’ve ever suffered (whether physically, emotionally, spiritually, mentally, whatever it be…), you can relate to someone else’s hardships. It’s people that start thinking “Well my pain is/ was worse than yours!” are foolish and competing with the wrong people.

Sorry… went off on a little philosophical tangent there. Anyways, the support of my family, friends and my doctors helped me get through whatever aches and pains I was feeling, post-surgery. Dr. Errico and Dr. Oren came to see me every single morning throughout my 6-day stay at NYU Langone- no lie! (Okay, minus the last day. But it was a Saturday… can you blame the man?? ;P ) I was definitely in good hands there. And if you are reading this because you are thinking of having surgery to correct your Scoliosis, I can confidently say that I know you will be in good hands too 🙂

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So I hope my video and this post has helped give you some answers, feel a little more secure about a decision you are making or just helped in some form or fashion/ inspired you some how. Because that’s my goal with this blog. If I can touch or help just one person, I’ve done my job 0:) Comment below if you have any questions or just want to voice some concerns about your Scoliosis journey… or WHATEVER! Honestly! I’m your sounding board. Ciao for now! And again, I PROMISE the next post will be soon 😉

P.S. My next video is up on my You Tube Channel: Caroline Heinle , if you can’t wait till the next blog entry 😉 Exes and oh’s, times a million!! <3

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Your little fighter,

Care Bear