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 💫

Too Young For Sciatic Pain and Grey Hair

Well hello there, y’all! It’s been some time. So much to update you all on and where to begin… Hmmm. Well, lately I’ve been feeling stagnant and ready for some next steps. Although I still have some issues with my back, I’m generally in good health these days, so I’m finally ready to move out of my parents’ house again. I gave myself a deadline, which is great, however, when I make a decision to do something, I tend to dive-in to things full force and arms swinging. Which is what I did recently, and it ended in burnout.

Basically, I decided to activate my real estate license. Great! But I also decided to start working with renters at the same time that I was in the training program. (Not great.) By the end of three weeks, I was completely and utterly exhausted from driving all around creation after eight-hour class days, managed to suffer a panic attack, and then while washing my hands in the bathroom one day I looked up in the mirror and gasped. The light had hit my hairline just right… “Are those grey hairs?!?” Yep. “But I’m too young to be greying!!” Welp, apparently not. My Dad started going grey at age 25… same age as my baby brother, who is now starting to also see signs of the silver stuff.

Sigh. I didn’t really care about the greys though. (Silver hair is in, after all.) What I cared most about was the fact that I had a panic attack. The last time I had had a panic attack was less than two years ago, right before my surgery. And I felt like I had come such a long way with my health and managing my anxiety and stress levels. Why the F was I taking steps backwards?! Well, Caroline. Because it’s life and you are a human being. Deep breath. Sigh. Yeah… you’re right. And everything is a learning experience. And in this situation, I needed to take a step back and re-learn to listen to my body. Your gut is a very powerful thing and if you don’t listen to it, it will eventually build up inside you and MAKE you listen… cue the anxiety and panic.

So lets get down to the why of it. My co-workers keep asking me why I don’t like Real Estate. I explained it over and over again with each person, until finally I got tired of giving all of the excuses. Finally, one day, to one friend and coworker in particular, I explained something… “Scoliosis takes place in the nerves. Meaning that my nervous system is constantly on the fritz and automatically wants to twist and curve in different directions, on a normal basis. So I have to make a conscious effort to stand or sit straighter, on an every-day basis. So when outside people and events start pulling me in different directions, I have to work harder than most people to remain focused and stay the right course. (Very similar to ADD.) Add some renters, buyers or sellers to the mix, constantly pulling you in different directions, well it’s basically my recipe for disaster. (Again, I said “MY“. Someone else might be perfect for this! No judgement. Do you boos, and let me, do me.)

Most of my co-workers say that that is how it goes in the beginning and that eventually you learn how to curtail that and create a consistent schedule for yourself. But frankly, at this point in my life, I know myself pretty well and I have more respect for myself and my quality of life. Life’s too short. And we’re allot cut out for the same things. I can find another side job that I will actually enjoy. The Entertainment Industry already has a lot of ups and downs and sides to side… I don’t need another one leading me around in circles. And my body was trying to tell me that.

However, I don’t regret any of it. Everything is a learning experience and one more step in a new direction. That step was my push to take the bull by the horns and take a hold of my life and career again. It pushed me to reach out and ask for help. I know a lot of things about myself… I’m pretty conscious of the type of person I am. I know my flaws and my attributes. Now, with a little direction and help from a friend, it’s time to curtail them, with some guidance, and create a better plan to move forward. I’m going to start working with a coach and friend. This has reminded me that everyone needs a coach, from time to time, to get them re-focused and back in the game. It also reminded me to just take a step. It’s about the journey. And when you dive-in and start running too quickly, you’re heading in the direction of burnout, and that’s no good either.

In terms of my physical process with my Scoliosis, that too is also a work in progress. But I am doing sooooo much better than I was a few days, months and years ago. This I am fully aware of, however I still have my moments. As I’ve said before, yoga has been my blessing. It has helped my stiffness immensely and has made me more aware of the muscles and areas in my back and sides that are tight and need to be stretched out. Again, Scoliosis takes place in the nerves. So my muscles and other bones (ribs, hips, etc.) want to go back to the way they were prior to my surgery. The rods in my spine hold my spine in place, but I’m still working on strengthening and stretching the muscles into a position that will support them. So again, yoga really helps with this.

People also recommend pilates and core strengthening, which I have been doing. However, I’ve been made more aware, recently, of how tight, and even sore, my hip flexers are. But that is just me. Maybe you’ve had the surgery and yours are fine (or your going to, and yours will be). Everyone’s bodies, minds and spirits are different and I’ve learned to listen to what other people recommend, and take from it what will be beneficial and work for me.

The other thing yoga has done is make me super aware of my pattern. Patterns exist in our body and then we replicate them in our lives. I’ve realized, through exercises that a ‘Yoga for Scoliosis” Instructor gave me, that I constantly clench my left butt cheek muscle. My right leg is a bit longer than the other, so my left side has to work harder, in order to keep up. I’ve also been working more on my Root Chakra in my morning meditations, and noticed that, on those days that I concentrate more on this chakra, my sciatic pain is a lot more intense. I’m not sure if it’s a mental thing or a combo of the both, but for the past few months I’ve had the worst pain in my lower, left back side, butt and shooting pains down my left leg. It SUCKS! It’s almost like a gnawing pain – incase you’ve never experienced Sciatica. And if you’re around my age, there’s a very high likelihood that you have not. (Grrrrr…) Finally, one morning I had had enough and texted my Chiropractor. She is awesome and squeezed me in right away.

“Yeah, wow, you’re super tight. How long has it been this way?” I replied, “Oh, I don’t know… A couple months maybe?” “MONTHS!! Carolineeeee,” she half laughed, half scolded. I know, I know. But the thing is, I’ve also kind of prided myself recently on being able to work out a lot of my issues through yoga and on my own. But now I know not to wait that long again. Sometimes, yes, it’s good to work things out on your own. And other times… it’s okay to ask for help 😉 She could tell I was really upset, though, and getting down on myself. She soothed me, “I know, I know, you’re right. You’re too young for Sciatica and I’m sure you are frustrated. But the good news is, just a few sessions with me and you’ll be back to being right on track again.” Sigh. I was still frustrated but I felt better. It’s okay to feel sorry for yourself from time to time. You still have to go through the motions in order to reach an end goal. And the goal was to feel better again. SO, I needed to feel sad and release that emotion, in order to start feeling happy again. So… so be it. Deep breath. Cry. Let goooooo….


My friend sent me this image on Insta while he is touring through India. This is just a breath of fresh air at the foothills of the Himalayas, bordering China, that can remind you that there is always light out there. So take a breath and ~ L E T  G O ~

There’s a few other things I want to try for my rehabilitation still, but I’m taking baby steps with them all now… A friend gave me the name of a great Acupuncturist and my Hair Stylist gave me the name of a Chakra Healer. I also know I should be working occasionally with a personal trainer or doing a one-on-one yoga session to help me with concentrating more on, and strengthening, the left side of my body. BUT, with all of that, you need money. So the way to get there is tooooo… (buda-bum-bum) MAKE MORE MONEY! So that’s my new concentration. Which will lead me to the next, and then to the next, and then to the next. So that’s sort of where I’m at right now. I’ll give you more of an update as things progress. In the meantime, I’d advise all of you to start asking yourself more questions and tapping into areas of your bodies and guts more. Maybe you’ll learn something 😉 Oh and if you know anyone looking for a fabulously, talented actor, writer or print model for hire, let them know about me 😉

‘Til next time, my friends! Have an amazing week.

 

Exes and Oh’s,

Your Little Fighter

 

PS. For those of you with hip issues or experiencing Sciatic pain, one of my yoga instructors from Surya Yoga Jersey City (they're amazing and if you're local, definitely check them out) taught me to do forward folds, but with your entire backside pressed against the wall. Stand in front of a wall and bend over. Walk your hands in, all the way to your toes so that you're literally folded in half. Make sure your hips are open and your inner legs are working harder and your hips are pulling up. This has helped me immenselyyyy. Try it!

 

Protection Mode

So lately I’ve tried, on countless occasions, to write a new blog entry. I think I have three drafts sitting in my pending posts section of my WordPress account, right now… One I wrote after my Grandmother passed away on Thanksgiving Day, the other I wrote last week, after the SAG Awards, and the other one…? Hmmm… I forget. (Ha!) But I’ve been very critical about them all so I haven’t posted any of them. Probably because my life has been so all over the place lately, so I feel like my writing has reflected the same– It’s lost it’s flow.

You would think that now that I’m back in Yoga classes, that my writing would flow more… Nope. Maybe it’s because I’ve been getting it all out in yoga, causing my creative voice to become stagnant. Maybe I actually need my heady, all over the place mindset, in order to do good work? They say that the best artists produce their best work during tortuous or traumatic times in their lives… Does anyone watch, The Affair? Noah, for instance, produced a best-selling novel during a traumatic, “all over the place” time in his life, but yet when he was grounded again and happy, the writing didn’t “flow”. And! Look at Hemingway! Ugh, sighhhhh. 😏 I hope and pray that isn’t the case with me…

Regardless, I’m pushing myself to write this and publish it this time, because of what happened to me tonight in yoga class. So bear with my peeps, I’ll eventually get it all out. But before I do, a little background for you… I’ve been crazy stressed for the past two weeks and I couldn’t figure out WHY! I mean, I had an idea, but I didn’t really think any of it was affecting me that badly until last week when constipation set in. 😳 Dun, dun, dun! 🙈 Yep.

Now, if you have been reading my posts and following my journey with my health and scoliosis surgery, you’ll know the issues I have dealt with in the past with IBS… And how upsetting it was after my surgery, when the pain killers made me constipated. So when this set in again, I started to geek out. Hell, I’m still upset about it! I haven’t dealt with an issue like this in a really, really long time!! In fact, it’s been just the opposite. I haven’t been able to stop going, before this. WTF, man?!

So, I started to think about it (shocker), and have begun to connect the dots. Basically, it leads to a few different issues. One being, I’m doing too much. (Double Shocker. 🙄) Hey, at least I’m aware, now, of when I am going down this path. And the first step to change is awareness, so… there ya go.

Last week I had an audition for a great Workshop Studio in NYC and I had to prepare two different monologues. I felt like I really knew the material and they were perrrrfect for me! (Or so I thought.) Granted one was a bit older for me, but only by a few years. However, the woman who auditioned me, informed me that I’m “way too young to be doing this type of material.” I bit my tongue, and then thought to myself, “Lady, if you knew how old I actually am, maybe you would change your tune.”… Probably not though. (The industry is based on a look and if you look like you’re 25-26, you’re going to be cast 23-25. Go figure.)

Anyways, I haven’t been auditioning lately so I was a little nervous. I knew the material, but a few lines in, I asked to start over because I could feel that I wasn’t being present. I did… and the woman on the other side of the table did not look happy. She immediately started jotting down notes and I could feel myself being judged. Whatever, keep going, Caroline.

After performing my two monologues, I probably looked down at my sides* a total of three times throughout the two monologues. Well, apparently that wasn’t acceptable. Basically she told me she “doesn’t usually do this,” but she was going to make an exception for me and tell me in advance that she was accepting me into the program… HOWEVER, I have a lot of work to do. She continued to go on and say that because I have a B.A. in Journalism and not. B.F.A. in Theater, I need to work harder. “Not to say NY is a snooty town, but it pretty much is and we are about the work here. There’s no excuse for you not being off book. This isn’t LA.” She then proceeded to tell me that she thinks I’m just used to LA and that I need to get my game face on if I want to do well in the program. “How long have you been back here?” “A year-and-a-half ,” I replied. Judgement written all over her face… especially while she perused my resume and questioned me on being on “America’s Next Top Model”. (I know what you’re thinking and she is actually a very good-looking, young woman, whom is also an actor,  so it’s not like she had it out for me or anything.)

But, I never made an excuse for myself. I never told her that I moved back to the east coast to have back surgery and still struggle with the healing process or cry sometimes on my way home from yoga. (I mean, why would I tell a perfect stranger that?) I used to be a pretty open book about it, but recently I’ve gotten to a place of people needing to earn to learn my story. Probably because I’m in a more stable place in my life and more accepting of who I am, what I’ve been through and where I am going… or perhaps this just ties in with me being in protection mode. I don’t know yet… 🤷🏼‍♀️

Anyways, I didn’t want her pity and I don’t want yours. I am fully aware of the fact that I am alive and healthy and don’t have some traumatic, life-altering disease, HOWEVER I am human, and everyone is entitled to feel a little sorry for themselves from time to time… like by crying to yourself and singing along loudly to Zayn and Taylor Swift’s “I Don’t Wanna Live Forever” on your commute home from yoga class once in a while. (I guess I just answered the above on what place in my life I’m actually in, huh? 😄) So, I put my big girl pants on and thanked her, because honestly, she was right.

*Sides are the script or dialogue you are given to read from in an audition setting.

Basically, I’m aware of the fact that I’m spreading myself too thin… commuting to work, making sure I get my work outs in, running into and out of the city for auditions, meetings and classes, writing, shooting and editing my own sketches, starting to look around for an apartment and setting a timeline (Wooooo!! 👏🏻), working on marketing myself and then still trying to balance a social life and family… I’m exhausted!! And putting only 20% into each of them. I hate not being good at something, and 20% just isn’t going to cut it… especially when I know I can do better. So this is when I start getting down on myself, stressing out and I guess that’s where my body is now… Reacting with constipation. Sigh 😔

So all this leads to my big epiphany that I had in yoga class tonight… We did a move and the instructor told us to keep breathing and concentrating on the positioning and being in our bodies. “Get out of your heads,” she said. Well that definitely snapped me back to reality, because it’s something I am continuously working on. She said to be mindful of where our mind went, as she instructed us to move into another position. This time I focused on the move and releasing… suddenly I had a big “Aha!” moment! I was in protection mode!

Let’s rewind a moment… Another thing I’ve been doing over the past two weeks is adding an “Om” to my chakra meditations. (I do a Chakra Meditation every morning and it has done wonders for me!… until the “Om” was added.) Yes, it definitely made me feel more grounded that week, BUT this was when the constipation started. (Aha! … and Eek!!) I made the correlation and confessed it to my chiropractor this past weekend (only after I forewarned her with, “Can I say something to you and have you not think I’m bat shit crazy?…”). Thank goodness she knows about and is into this kind of stuff, because she agreed that it is correlated and that it was probably working different muscles and different breathing techniques than my body is normally used to. If you’re not into this stuff, you’re probably reading this and thinking, this girl is NUTS! (My Mom does, so it’s okay.)

I had my 1.5 year check up on my surgery yesterday and drove into the city to see Dr. Errico. My Mom came with me and we have an hour drive in, so I told her about the “Om”-ing… well, she couldn’t wrap her head around the fact that my body would react that way to exerting a sound. “You just need to pray more,” she half laughed/ half scolded. I responded by telling her that meditation, yoga and chanting is prayer 🙏🏻 😇- (love you, Ma! 😘 )

I realize that I’m pretty body aware, so it is a little extreme that I would respond this way to an “Om” sound. However, I’m also kind of a hippy so it kind of makes sense. ✌🏻Growing up, my favorite Disney Movie was Pocahontas. I would always pretend to really “feel” and be extra in touch with the trees, the breeze, the grass, etc., while trying to talk to the squirrels and rabbits as they ran away from me. (I know, I know, I’m weird.) I used to lay in the grass and stare up at the blue sky and twirling, whirling clouds and I would SWEAR that the world around me was having an inner conversation with me. It’s hard to explain… I just felt very “in touch” with nature, I guess… Grounded perhaps? I suppose you feel those extra things when your younger… and it’s more socially acceptable when your neighbor walks by and catches you belting “Colors of The Wind” at the top of your voice and beckoning for John Smith to come rescue you… Yeah,.. not so much as we get older. Although NYC is a pretty crazy place, so maybe no one would even notice? 🤷🏼‍♀️

Anyways, back to my yoga “Aha”… as I laid there in the 98 degree classroom (side note, hot yoga has helped loosen and stretch my muscles immensely!), pulling my right leg closer to me, I realized that I’ve been protecting myself, EXTRA, over the past few weeks. Some of it is with guys… (I don’t know- dating is hard, I guess? And I’m a bit of a commitment-phobe.) Basically, I’m afraid of settling. And it sucks! Because I have the biggest sweethearts who will bend over backwards for me, asking me out- and yet I want nothing to do with them! But a guy who doesn’t seem as interested? Well, you pretty much have me, hook, line and sinker. Sigh. 🙄

I’ve talked to my Mom about this repetitively… “Why the F do I like the chase so much??” Maybe it’s because I know they aren’t the “settling down types”, and I’m still not completely ready to settle down, myself… so perhaps I look at them as fun and safe? And then these other guys who would probably treat me like a princess, terrify the fuck out of me. 😳 “Ugh, why did you just touch my waist like that?” “Why are you checking on me to make sure I got home okay? I’m a fucking adult woman, damn it!” “Why are you being so F-ing NICE?!” (See! Told you. I’m crazy.) One of my girlfriends tells me I’m sick. Ha! However my other girlfriends I’ve spoken to about this have made me feel better about my craziness by saying that those guys just aren’t the ones for ME. Which I do agree with… ‘Cuz if I was really into the person, I’d totally be down with doors being held open for me, romantic dinners, cuddle sessions… the whole shebang. Right? 🤔 But instead, I’ve let myself go into a clenched up, “Ahhh stay away from me, I don’t like you like that!” 🙅🏼 protection mode to heed these guys away. Can’t we just be friends?? Sigh… which just leads you to the forever-debated issue over whether men and women can just be friends. Hmmmm… #FoodForThought

So… basically, what I’ve determined is that I need to really focus on working on letting go and trusting myself, again. (Because it’s life, and we all go back and forth… this just seems to be one of the things I am always grappling with, apparently.) I knew the dialogue in that audition room. It was emotionally engrained in me. But I felt her judgemental gaze and clammed up a few times; looking to the page as my crutch, instead of trusting the fact that I’m an awesome actress and “I got this”. 💪🏻 That was actually the one excuse I gave her when she was giving me her constructive criticism… I started to explain that me looking to the page was more the fact that I needed to trust myself more, rather than me not knowing the dialogue. But she just shook her head and stated that it “still goes back to preparation”. Sigh. 😔 Whatever. You can always work harder to make yourself better, so I’ll take it and learn from it. 👍🏻

And then with the guys… I don’t know. I guess I need to trust the fact that I know my own feelings, and no one can force someone to like them… so, just let go and enjoy the ride. It doesn’t mean that if I accept an invitation and go on a few dates with a guy and make out with them a bunch of times, that they are going to automatically hydro-shift into boyfriend mode on me. (GAH!!! That freaks me out just thinking about it 😰). Deep breaths, Caroline, deep breaths. And let go…

I will actually say that I’m proud of myself, though, for letting go of one guy, in particular. Because I was pretty hung up on him. We’ll call him “Yoga Boy”. I met him at a Yoga Event and I knew him and his friends were pretty much just there to pick up chicks. I also knew, through speaking with him, that he was younger than me. Not by much, but when a guy is a few years younger than a female, they might as well be ten years behind them, when it comes to maturity (sorry boys, but it’s true). But basically, what happened was, we had a lot of mixed communication caused by only communicating via text… and Snapchat (LOL- don’t judge me! 🙈), and he never did a very good job with properly asking me out. It was always us trying to meet up after something, or going to a class at some point when the other got out of work… it was just very ambiguous and “safe”. No set plans were ever made, except for the first time we hung out after the Yoga Event. (And guess who invited who? 🤘🏻) … Now, I will admit, some of it was my doing, with my crazy-chaotic schedule and he probably just didn’t want to deal with it anymore. However, he wasn’t the most chivalrous of men I’ve ever attempted to date. And he’s a few years younger… I guess they’re still set in their way of hanging out in groups, then? I dunno… Regardless, I allowed myself to get a little hung up on it “not working out” because, although we only hung out once and locked lips while we were both slightly intoxicated 😜, as naive as this sounds, I felt like we had a more passionate connection. (Aka, it was the beginning, so we had a physical attraction.) But I also just felt like I didn’t put my best foot forward by mimicking his childish communication skills. I’m usually a pretty communicative and open person, but instead I succumbed to the chase and “playing hard to get”. So Long story short, I over thought all of it. Plus we are Snapchat friends and seeing someone on a slightly ego-centric social media ap every day makes your mind wander… #WhatCanISay #Human 🤷🏼‍♀️✌🏻💁🏼

Anyways, I’ve let it go, now. I realized that anything or anyone that is that hard or complicated, is just not meant to be. Plus, I have a date tomorrow night with a guy I met on Super Bowl Sunday and after all of those games and the protection mode I put myself in with the other guys, it was SO refreshing how he asked me out ☺️ He actually had a pretty clever pick up line that made me laugh. (I’m not into the pick up lines, HOWEVER, if it’s something clever and it makes me laugh, you’re pretty much guaranteed at least a drink or coffee date with me.) But he also asked what my favorite food was and offered to take me to dinner. Now, I’m not usually into having dinner with someone on the first date (commitment-phobe, remember? ✌🏻), but I don’t know… something about him kind of intrigued me 🤔 We’ll see, though… I did have a couple of Shocktops and a whiskey shot in me that evening, sooooooo… 🍻🥃 (Go Giants! 😋… Inside joke if you follow me on Instagram or YouTube.)

Alright, I think that’s all for now… Hopefully this post wasn’t too all over the place and somehow, someone related to it. I’ll probably go back and tailor the other posts sitting in my Saved Drafts section and eventually post them for y’all, but for now, I just felt like I really needed to get this one out… so thanks for reading. 🤗 Sorry there aren’t any pictures this time… again, I just felt like I needed to get this out in order to get the ball rolling again on the blogging. I know I say this all the time, but I really do hope to write more again for you (If anyone even still reads this- Ha!)

Oh! And this is probably TMI, but after getting all of my feelings out in this post, I took a break to go to the bathroom! Wooooo!!!! (Or should I say, Poooooo!! 💩💩💩💩💩) Score!!!! 🙌🏻😜 Hahahaha 😂

Oh and one more thing! I definitely need to do another post soon because I need to explain to you how I bruised my rib cage. It hurts like a mother f-er right now! 😡 Sorry, just wanted to throw that in there just to show how I really AM all over the place and how yoga and Pilates are really becoming a blessing for me 😇🙏🏻🤗

So… ’til next post my fellow crazies. Exes and Oh’s ❤️😘

Your Little Fighter,

CareBear ✌🏻

**UPDATE**- The following morning after I posted this, I came across a meditation specifically designed to relieve constipation on YouTube, and then went about my morning stretches. Well, after I was done with the stretches? I pooped again!! See? Chakra healing and meditations really do affect the body! Here’s the link if you’re having similar problems and curious… You’ll probably be pleasantly surprised! But the trick is to stay open!! To everything in life 😉 Hugs your way xoxo

All Dressed and Ready to Go Under (Anesthesia that is)

I recorded this video an hour before my surgery, and as I look back at these videos I just can’t get over how suppressed my emotions were! My voice is so small and kind of even keeled and just sort “Wha Wha!” BORING! Granted I was trying to be quiet so none of the nurses are patients next to me thought I was a crazy girl talking to herself… but I also think it’s because of how nervous I was and I was trying to not freak the F—- OUT! Haha! But watching these videos has also made me so aware of how far I have come! This has been a great exercise for me through posting these videos to see exactly how depressed of a mess I was, and how far I have come with my energy levels, muscle aches and pains and MOOD (now that I am healing)!

I’m writing this post 3 months to the day (yup!) from my surgery and I feel GREAT! I still have little tugs on my muscles, neck and shoulder blades and occasional soreness, but overall, I feel great! I’m even starting to work out again! So if I could’ve seen into the future and seen myself now, I don’t think I would be feeling so scared that morning anymore. That’s why I’m posting these videos. So that others can see that it really isn’t as scary as you might think 😉

After this video, my Mom came to see me one last time before she took my phone and I waited for the nurse to come get me. The nurse was the CUTEST guy, P.S.! Like seriously, the cutest! But I was too nervous to even think about his looks… instead I left the oogling to my Mother (haha)! His name was Andrew and he finally came back for me to walk me into the surgery room. (Oh yeah, that’s how laid back they were about everything… I literally WALKED into the surgery room and laid down on the surgery table. But that wasn’t until an HOUR from my scheduled time slot. (Talk about impatient paranoia! I was secretly screaming inside and praying to God that I didn’t wake up paralyzed. No joke! Ironically, I said an entire Rosary Bead and Andrew finally came to get me after I finished saying it. WEIRD! Or you could say God was looking out for me 0;) ) The first time he brought me to the room, the other prep-nurses motioned to Andrew that they weren’t ready. He explained to me by comparing it to Thanksgiving. He said, “It’s like at Thanksgiving when everything else is ready but they still have to finish the cranberry sauce.” I chuckled but was thinking “great analogy, Andrew”! (Sarcasm.) Although I do have corny humor as well, so maybe I just didn’t find it that hysterical because I wanted to get this done and over with.

When I finally walked into the room, everyone was really nice and introduced themselves. I remember looking around and thinking how weird it was to be in an actual, real surgery room and not one on set. They had me lay down and started hooking me up to things. The other nurse, or whoever he was, told me that he was putting an oxygen mask on me to help me breathe, and I thought they would have me count backwards or something when they were ready for the anesthesia! Nope! The next thing I know, I’m waking up from surgery and trying to take a deep breath. “I can’t breathe!” I cried. I could half see my Mom standing next to me and starting to panic. The other guy, Jason, told us that it was because my rib cages were rearranged a little bit by the rods in my back so my lungs were getting used to their new position. It may have also been because I went to sleep being told I was being given oxygen to breathe and I woke up without the mask on. (Apparently with anesthesia, you wake up the same way you went to sleep. So if you were crying when you went to sleep, you would wake up crying, etc.) But it doesn’t matter what the reason was. They put the oxygen mask back on my for a few moments and then I was fine. Oh! And then I started flirting with Jason. When he told me it was time for him to go, I said, “Nooooo!!” He smiled and said “Maybe we’ll meet again outside of here.” I asked my Mom later if he was as cute as I thought or if I had “anesthesia goggles” on. She said, “He was very nice.” (Mom code for “you had goggles on”. I guess I was subconsciously beating myself up for not flirting with Andrew when I had the chance. Ha!)

The rest of my experience in the hospital wasn’t the easiest, (I’m going to be honest with you and say it was by no means a walk in the park) but I will say the pain meds definitely make it bearable. You’ll see and read all about the rest of my journey in my next post. In the mean time, try to relax and distract yourself before your surgery. If your religious, pray. If you’re spiritual, meditate. If you’re creative, write or draw. There are so many outlets and things you can do to help you calm your nerves. And just trust your instincts and trust your doctor. You wouldn’t have made the decision to have surgery if you didn’t think it was right! 😉 So deep breaths in and out and smile! You’ll be okay 🙂

Exes and oh’s!

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Night Before My Surgery

It’s been really great looking back and watching these videos again as I post them. It reminds me of how much I have been through and how far I have come! I’m really happy I decided to record these, not only to be able to share them with others that may be questioning having spinal fusion surgery, but also for me just to reminisce… it was a part of my life after all 😉

I’m posting this 11 weeks after my surgery and the day after my second follow up with my doctor/surgeon, Dr. Errico. He’s such a great doctor and all-around nice person 🙂 and I’m so grateful for all of the help he has given me. My mother came with me to my appointment, and we were reminiscing about how I was in such bad shape last year… I had pounding headaches, constant sinus infections, chronic neck and shoulder pain, chronic fatigue, shooting and numbing pains down my left arm and sometimes down my leg and I was a depressed MESS! My first appointment ever with Dr. Errico had me in tears and I was really scared of having surgery, but I also knew that living the way I was living was no longer an option.

I remember when my scoliosis first started to get worse, I began googling my symptoms (side note, NEVER do that!! Your mind is the devil’s playground and can be extremely influenced by the internet- ESPECIALLY when you are in a vulnerable place. So stop Googling! Ask a doctor!) … Anyways, I found out that scoliosis, when in the 40 and 50 degree stages (mine was at 45 and eventually progressed to 51) increases a degree each year. I also discovered that people with scoliosis generally have shorter life-spans. This fact HORRIFIED me! (Not that I want to live until 96, 98, 100 years old or anything but still!) The doctors I saw, when evaluated, told me that I will probably need to have surgery at some point in my life but it was up to me when I wanted to have it. I figured, I was in pain and still young. Might as well do it when I’m still young enough to bounce back quickly! And I’m soon happy I did!

Yesterday, Dr. Errico told me that I was recovering so well that I didn’t even need physical therapy! Instead, since I’m an active person, I can start gradually working out on my own. Yay!!

In THIS video, I show you the wipes I was instructed to use the night before my surgery in order to act as an antiseptic to prevent infection. They obviously take every precaution they can to make sure you are in the best care possible and that your surgery runs as smoothly and successfully as possible. Although these wipes were terribly itchy for me, (they tell you not to shave the night before your surgery and “whoopsies!” I guess I wanted my legs freshly shaven for my surgeon haha! So word to the wise, read ALL the instructions so you’re not scratching your skin off after using these.) Any who, I was happy that they were asking me to do this because it showed how detailed they are… a soothing thing for a detail-oriented person such as myself 😉

Oddly enough, I was pretty calm the night before the surgery. Maybe because I wasn’t looking forward to getting up at 5AM for it?? Or maybe because I knew I was in good hands 🙂 I suggest keeping yourself distracted the few days before your surgery so your mind doesn’t wander and you don’t freak yourself out. And spend time with friends and family! I went to my best friends wedding the weekend before my surgery and had a blast! It was a great “hoorah!” (not last hoorah, because it wouldn’t be my last and it won’t be yours either 😉 ) before I was to make a big and fabulous change in my life.

So watch the video below and continue to follow my journey. If you have any questions, please feel free to comment and ask them below! Deep breaths everyone, and smile 🙂

Also, these photos were taken the same night as my surgery. Take a look at my crooked back! You’ll be amazed to see in my future posts to how straight it is now!!

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Life Goes On

Hello again! Welcome back to my “Journey with Scoliosis Surgery” series! I recorded this video blog less than a week before my surgery and thought it was important to post. The week before surgery was very traumatic for me because my nerves and anxiety were getting the best of me (as you saw from my last post/video blog). I was particularly overwhelmed with the “fear of the unknown” (how I was going to feel after surgery, what the recuperation was going to be like for me, would I even wake up, walk again,etc?!) Not very good thoughts, but I’m human and that is sometimes where my mind went. I wanted to curl up into a ball and just shut out the rest of the world until my surgery day. (I had this “major surgery” coming up, and therefore the best thing to do was to sit around tightly and patiently wait for it to come.) WRONG!! That just made things worse and my mind wander. It’s like what “The Untethered Soul” talks about in one of it’s chapters, where the person locks all the doors to his home and doesn’t go outside just in case something bad were to happen to him. So he didn’t live life and therefore drove himself crazy.

Well, I couldn’t allow myself to do that. So after I walked out of my Dad’s office and removed myself from a highly stressful environment, I was able to grab a hold of myself and breathe. The next day I was cool and collected and able to go on an interview where I brought my full, energetic, bright-eyed and talented self to a successful meeting with my now current managers!… so I obviously blew them out of the waters 😉 Haha! Well I’m not going to toot my own horn, but I will say we had a great connection that then furthered a working relationship… all because I wasn’t sitting at home anymore worrying about surgery. A person can die or experience trauma at any point in their life, so was I going to shut myself out from the rest of the world in case a car hit me while walking the street, a guy broke my heart or a meteor hit the earth exactly where I was standing??! Don’t think so. Then why do that when I was having surgery? What’s the difference, if you think about it really?

At the end of the interview, I mentioned that I was having back surgery and I would be in touch with them when I’m ready to start being submitted for projects and going out on auditions again. (During my freak out, I confided in my friend, and now agent, that I was overwhelmed with my surgery and career aspects and wondered if I should cancel the meeting… I wasn’t going to be able to audition until I was well again, after all, and that could take weeks! “They’ll probably not want to work with me because of it!” my ego screamed at me. She told me that I needed to do what was best for me, but that at the end of the day, there was never going to be “the perfect time” to go on a meeting. If it wasn’t surgery, then the next time it would be something else. And the fact that I was having surgery shouldn’t be the focus of the meeting anyways. “That’s something you can mention at the end, if you feel comfortable… and if the relationship is supposed to be, that won’t matter,” she said. (I have very wise friends 😉 ) I took a deep breath and breathed out a sigh of relief. She was SO right and that was exactly what I needed to hear.

So if you are having surgery and are scared that you will need to put your life on hold, don’t be! And if you’re doing this already, THEN STOP! Yes, you will have to take time off of work or school to recuperate afterwards, but it won’t be forever. And if you are working with a doctor/surgeon that you trust, you will know that you have plenty of time to make plans and things to look forward to after your surgery and you are healed. This meeting was the best thing I could’ve done for myself before surgery, because it gave me something to look forward to when I was healed and made me even more eager to bounce back! That definitely helped with the healing process 0:) … That, and of course the TLC given from my family and friends <3 🙂

So go out and do something for yourself today that’ll make you as happy as I am in this video. Cheers and namaste!

 

Think Before You Speak

I was watching Tyra Banks’s new Daytime Talk Show (which I love, btdubbs, and highly recommend you check out!) called The Fab Life, and loved how raw and open all of the hosts were today. Chrissy Tiegen (for those of you who don’t know her, she’s the AH-MAZING model, TV personality/host, Instagram famous, foodie/chef wife of singer/song-writer John Legend) opened up about her struggle, right now, with trying to conceive a child and Tyra chimed in along with her crying, “You don’t know. You don’t know what I’m going through. You have no idea!” Apparently, Tyra also has been struggling with invitro treatments while being pressured by fans on social media asking, “Why don’t you have kids??” Point being, she made me start to cry when she zeroed in on the camera, and viewers out in TV Land, reiterating that you never know what a person is going through. So true! So, so true!!

I’ve dealt with this a lot from family and friends while living in California, but even more so when I moved back to the east coast. My cousin, one day, said to me, on my first visit to see her new home, “Cara, you still have time but not a lot of it! You’re getting older. And it gets harder and harder to meet people. A lot of the good ones are already taken, so you gotta jump on it!” Had she not thought that this was something I already am struggling with?? Did she not think that I am already worried I’m not going to be able to find anyone, have to settle or worry about dying alone? What? Did she think I was clueless?? This only heightened my fears and my anxiety, which only stressed me out more and did not help my already fatigued body…

To see a different side of the coin… I had felt like one of my close friends from high school had been acting strange towards me ever since I moved back to NJ. At first, I tried to not be too heady about it, but it started to really hurt my feelings when we were on a group text and she didn’t acknowledge what I said or ever ask me how I was feeling. When we were all together and talking in a group, she would never look at me or include me in the conversations. Now, I’m not one of those people that doesn’t pick up on the “You can’t sit with us” hints, so I finally confronted her about it.

At first she pretended like she didn’t know what I was talking about, ending with telling me that “it will just take a little while for things to get back to how they used to be before [I] moved to Cali.” I didn’t feel like that was the whole of it, until I really understood what she was going through… My GF finally opened up to us at our other friend’s bachelorette party trip in Key West, FL venting to us about her marriage problems and struggles with being a new and working mom. (Good for her! Venting is healthy! AND Rightly so!! It is DAMN hard to be married and a working mother. Marriage is no joke people. It is a commitment and you need to learn to compromise and work on your relationship every day. It’s like a full time job in and of itself!… let alone HAVING a job AND a baby?! I give all of my friends MAD props for this. [Insert hands clapping emoji.] I certainly am not ready for all of it and marvel in how strong my friends are that are! And are KILLING it! So shout outs to y’all! 😉 ) But she also said, “Not for nothing,” and then pointed out to me, that my sister was reaching out to her on Facebook more than I was. I didn’t agree with this at all (because the phone and social media work both ways and I never felt like she had any interest in me or what I had going on in my life) but I calmly responded by saying that my sister and she were in the same places in their lives (married and having babies) so they were able to relate to each other more… I also explained that my sister tells everyone that has a child on Facebook “We should get together!” LOL so…. yeah. Things are great between us now though! We just needed to get those things out. (Again, venting is HEALTHY!!) So I tell you all of this, to point out that we needed to see things through each others’ perspectives because, like Tyra said, you never know what another person is going through!

I try to remember this on an every day basis. (And it’s hard! Trust me, I ain’t perfect either!) But you can do little things to help you remember this stuff. After reading  The Four Agreements (a phenomenal soul-imrovement book, by Miguel Ruiz, that teaches you to never make assumptions, be impeccable with your word, don’t take anything personally and always do your best- no more, no less!), I wrote the “laws” down on post-it notes and stuck them on my fridge- a place I was SURE to see them (what can I say, I love to eat! ;P ) These rules have helped remind me that I do not always know what another person is going through. We, as women, should be ESPECIALLY mindful of this and set examples, because we have the power to feel and express so much more empathy than men. If you don’t know why a person is being distant, don’t assume you did something wrong like I always do/did (I’m working on this 😉 ) cuz it probably has nothing to do with you. (Insert a sigh of relief here.)

We should also work WITH each other and ENCOURAGE our fellow women to be our strongest and best selves! Did you watch the 2015 Emmy Awards last night?? Strong and talented actresses like Viola Davis, Uzo Aduba, Julia Louis-Dreyfus and Allison Janney gave amazing and inspiring speeches that should have encouraged women all over the world that you can do whatever you set your mind to and we must SUPPORT EACH OTHER! Stop being jealous and cutting other women down for their looks, opinions and successes. Where does that get you?? It might make you feel a little better for that instant, but not for long, cuz it won’t elevate you to where they are… And it certainly doesn’t help men in taking us seriously if we are constantly nit-picking and being critical of our fellow gender. Women say they want equal rights, but what right do we have to ask for them if we all can’t stand together? If you don’t like a person/agree with him/her (female OR male), there’s no reason to belittle him/her. We are all in this together and like Thumper’s Mama used to always say, “If can’t say something nice, don’t say nothing at all.” 😉

Hope this helps! Happy Monday y’all! Stay motivated and true to yourself this week and always 0:)

Oh! And on the even MORE positive of notes… my scoliosis doctor’s office called today and asked me to be a referral for a girl that came to see them and is on the fence with having scoliosis surgery. I told the nurse that I would be happy to speak with her! “Anything I can do to help,” I said 0:) So that feels good! And also gives me the push to finally start writing about my scoliosis journey and posting my videos! Sooooooo….. until next entry y’all!

xoxo,

Your Little Fighter

Depression Hurts

Sorry it has been a little while since I’ve posted. To be honest, I was pretty depressed last week. I received my blood test and EMG results and everything came back fine. Great news, right?! You’d think so. But I this only made me feel more hopeless. Hopeless that I’m never going to find the answer for what is going on with me… Hopeless in thinking that I’m just going to continue living the rest of my life like this… and finally coming to terms with the thought that this might all very well be taking place inside my head.

The endocrinologist did note that my thyroid was a bit off but that was probably because I had been fighting an infection and we would check it again in a few weeks. Great. Okay… Then we talked about how I was feeling and I admitted that I was feeling a lot better having been on the antibiotic. So he took that as great news and spoke to me about meeting with a psychologist regularly and building a strong support system around me. He said he can tell I have a supportive family, but also have one or two close friends that know I have an acute stress disorder and can help me up whenever life happens and I start to fall. I took that in. I do have those people in my life, but I also wanted to have that conversation with my closest friends just to reiterate that.

The EMG was uncomfortable! And I use that word because that is exactly what Dr. Portugal would tell me when he put the metal shockers on me or put the pins in my skin… “Now this is going to feel uncomfortable.” I told him after the first couple of shocks “I love it how you keep calling it “uncomfortable”. This shit hurts!” He just laughed and said “Well it is.” He had a senior resident with him that kept asking me questions about acting and my favorite movies and actors, which was sweet. I told him that I know he is just trying to distract me, haha! But the doctor said I didn’t have any nerve damage and that I have myofascial and muscle tension and to work with a physical therapist a couple times a week and my chiropractor when I have flare ups.

Both of those appointments were in the same day. So needless to say, I was feeling a little down in the dumps. The EMG took place in the city and I was with my Mom, so we decided to make a day of it. And she took me shopping 🙂 I mean, what girl doesn’t like to drown her sorrows in a good ol’ fashion trip to Zara?? Although this made me depressed on a different level because I have put on some weight and felt like my enormous thighs didn’t look too hot in anything I tried on. Now, I know I’m not enormous, but when you go from wearing a size two to trying on a size six jean it’s like WTF?! But whatever. I had a great talk with my grandma prior to this shopping trip and she said that the best advice her mother ever gave her was to dress the body you have TODAY. So if you’ve put on some weight then you’ve put on some weight. Go get clothes that fit you and make you feel good about yourself. Such a true statement. Cuz it really is hard to get yourself up and out if you’re wearing something that doesn’t make you feel confident or comfortable. So maybe it’s my thyroid, maybe it’s depression, maybe it’s my aching myofascial muscles and scoliosis? Who knows! But I might as well start making myself feel better in order to get up and out of this slump.

The past two days I’ve been experiencing anxiety. I was trying to sit down and talk out with my Mom exactly what I was anxious over… I was starting to feel like I needed to get things going with the acting in NYC AND I was trying to work a bit for my Dad and make some money… so maybe I was putting pressure on myself? I also started calling around to make an appointment with a local psychologist, so perhaps that was it? But then I started crying because I almost feel like what more do I need to talk about?! I’ve talked about all of the issues I’ve gone through in my life… do I have a problem letting go of things? Am I doing this to myself?? I also saw my chiropractor, whom did an active release on my left shoulder muscles and my muscles have not aching or twitching since! Owieeeeeeee!! :'(

Well then it dawned on me that maybe it was the Gabapentin that I started to ween myself off of. When I told my Mom and my Aunt that (separately of course), they laughed at me and exclaimed “Well that’s it! Who told you to do that??” Ummmmm, Me? “Why would you do that?!” Cuz it’s not working! And I’m not a fan of taking pills if they aren’t working… Well, apparently I need to do this under a doctor’s care. So tomorrow I have an appointment with my primary care doctor about weening me properly off of the Gabapentin and also discussing… an anti-depressant. Dun dun dun.

Now some of you might be reading this and thinking, “Who care? What’s the big deal? It’s just an anti-depressant?” And others might be flabberghast that I would actually write that in a post. But I’m trying to be as honest as I can through this process so I’m telling it like it is… and there is a HUGE stigma on anti-depressants. Not as strongly as there used to be, but it’s defintely still there. People think of it as shameful or as if there is something wrong with that person. Almost like that person can control it but they are just taking the easy way out. Well I’ll have to say I used to be one of those people. I used to think that anti-depressants were just pills that put bandaids on the issues instead of encouraging the person to dig deep and then heel the wound. Well I’ve done a lot of digging and I still feel like crap, so at this point, GIVE ME THE PILL! I’ve tried everything else to quell, calm, heal, decipher, test and figure out what the hell is going on with me but this. I might as well give it a try…

I said to my Mom, that I guess I just never thought of depression as being something physical. My Mom explained to me that it very much is. And that it is a chemical imbalance in someone’s brain. It’s out of their control. Plus it runs in my family. My Mom was depressed at a time in her life and apparently eight out of ten daughters of women that suffer from depression are likely to also come down with depression at some point in their lives. Now don’t quote me on that but that is what I have heard. So… I’m going to at least give it a shot. That way if I’m still experiencing my aches, pains, numbness, swelling, weight gain, fatigue, etc. after six weeks, I KNOW there is something still going on.

Although the physical therapist I met with today was a sweetheart and actually re-instated to me “What you are feeling is real.” I hadn’t heard that in a while so it was nice to hear that again. She also had me lie on her table and massaged my neck muscles and then sit up and assess my pain. I automatically felt a difference and even noticed that I had more range in my neck muscles. Apparently my sternocleidomastoid (that’s a mouthful) muscles are suffering. She showed me, in a diagram, all the other muscles and areas that they can effect and my pain assessment chart was shaded almost exactly identically to the areas effected in her book. Weird! So that was a nice validation to receive today… hopefully that validation with the theraputic work will continue and I’ll be feeling better in no time! They are Kessler Rehab after all. One of the best rehab facilities in the state. So yeah… we’ll see.

Bloody Fingers Crossed

So I already told you that I was quite sick over my birthday week (yes, I celebrate for a week. Especially milestone birthdays like the big 3-0. Hey, in today’s busy times, not everyone can organize their schedules around just one day. So I say celebrate with an array of people all week 😉 Cheers!) Anyways, I was starting to feel better, although I did notice that the *NeilMed, which is like the super-soaker of netty pots, was no longer helping me break up the mucous in my sinuses. But I kept ignoring it. Until today when I woke up with those beautiful, dark circles under my eyes that us females just adore, so much, and an extremely swollen and throbbing finger.

You see, this past Saturday, I wasn’t being present and instead of focusing on the AmEx credit card I had in between my fingers, I was day-dreaming about an outdoor run on the beautiful, painfully late spring day, and cut right through the card and into my left index finger. (If it isn’t obvious yet, you’ll soon start to see, I’M HEADY!) Blood started spouting everywhere. As I put pressure on my finger and silently cursed myself, I noticed that my “fatty tissue” was sticking out of the wound. (Of course I didn’t use those words when I ran downstairs to show my Dad, choking back tears and proclaiming that I could see “my guts!!”<– actual words I used.) And no, I wasn’t crying because of the pain. I was crying because now ANOTHER thing was wrong with me. Sigh.

I kept getting nauseous every time I checked to see if it had stopped bleeding while my parents and brother laughed at me… But apparently not because I was being dramatic. Nope. Apparently it was because of my “overly descriptive” word use. Whatever. Amongst the chaos of my spouting, bloody finger and my father yelling at me to “use my damn head next time I’m using a ‘weapon'” (a weapon Dad? Really??), my mother was stifling laughter and finally managed to ask me “if-I-was-writing”, end air quotes. Yes Mom, I started my blog. Now do you think I should go get stitches or not?!?

I decided to take my Dad’s advice and just wrap it and put a butterfly bandaid on it…. which we didn’t have. So I, instead, wrapped it tightly and headed to the nearest ShopRite. Yeah well I THEN probably should’ve headed to the nearest urgent care when the ShopRite attendant helping me asked me why my finger was turning blue. Hmmmmmm….

Why am I avoiding the urgent care so desperately? Well one, I had a bad experience with urgent cares in California cuz THEY SUCK MY MAJOR BUTTHOLE AND DO NOTHING FOR YOU! But two, I had my best friend’s from back when we were just two itty-bitty, and might I add adorable! 😉 two-year-olds birthday party in a few hours and I was determined to not cancel my attendance at another social gathering. So I grabbed the butterfly bandaids and some extra wound closures and headed out. Thanks Mister ShopRite man!

Yeah this wasn’t my brightest of plans. Not because my finger was bleeding and swelling more by the minute (though that will come later), more so because my-choking back tears caused me to be one heaping ball of emotions ready to pop in any ear that would listen. (Word to the wise, God created tears for a reason. When you need to cry, CRY ALMIGHTY, CRY!! One of my besties says her Mom always says whenever you are upset it’s usually because you are one, or sometimes all, of three things: hungry, tired or need a hug… I needed a hug FO SHO’!) The next thing I know, I’m telling everyone I speak with the honest truth about why I moved back to Jersey!! On my drive home, I began to wonder if people really appreciate my honest, wear-my-heart-on-my-sleeve mentality, or if they are really thinking  “HELP! Save me from this weirdo!” I also realized that I felt the need to explain to people why I was doing what I am doing… why I’m not working, why I left sunny California for “cold, dreary” New Jersey, why I’m not currently dating, yadda, yadda and the list goes on. But I am realizing that I don’t need to explain anything to anyone. The only person I need approval from is myself. In the game of life, not everyone is going to approve of everything you do. That’s what makes things so interesting. My Mom, whom I think is one of the wisest human beings and souls, reminded me recently, that people need to earn the knowledge of your story. If it’s not someone you trust or love, you don’t have to explain shit to them. So instead of cursing myself later for not taking myself to the doctor, I worked on commending myself for all of the other great things I got out of that evening… for I was a little wiser at the end of it and was happy to have caught up with a former bestie 😉

But I’m sure you are still wondering what became of my finger. And if you’re not I’ll tell you anyways… Well, despite my repetitive, anti-septic and liquid bandage use, I awoke to an extremely swollen finger and texted my other bestie (what can I say, I’m popular). Now this bestie is one of the smartest humans I’ve ever known, a nurse and a God-send! (Seriously though. Bless her kind, patient soul for always answering my constant texts about my health and doctor visits.) So with her advice, I finally headed to the urgent care. The doctor looked at my finger and scolded me for not getting stitches and asked me if I had a cold. YES!! Yes I DO! How’d you know? Why do you ask?? Well, apparently my finger was swollen because of the infection that I am still fighting in my sinuses.

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Another thing I am learning, throughout my health journey, is that when you have a virus, yes it is a virus and must be fought on its own. However! If it doesn’t go away in a couple of weeks, that infection is now running throughout your entire body and you need an antibiotic. Now I am by no means promoting antibiotics. I am all for building your immune system and letting your body heal and fight infections on it’s own. Candida is a growing problem and the culprit of it is usually from the over-use of antibiotics. HOWEVER, I have also learned throughout my journey (and will probably always be my achilles heel in life) that balance is key!! The best way to achieve this, when dealing with health, I’ve found (and everyone is different) is through the combo of Eastern and Western medicine. So… when he decided I needed a tetanus shot and a strong prescription of amoxicillan 825-125mg, I said come to me papa! He also recommended the next time I cut myself and can see my fatty tissue, to make sure I get stitched. Bowing my head shamefully, “Yes doc.” (Another tid bit of info I want to share, if you are an adult and had your tetanus shots when you were younger, great! However, it does not mean you are out of the dark. After your childhood doses, you must keep yourself up-to-date with a tetanus shot every ten years after that. Especially if you work with knives or some other type of harmful metals… and that’s on the safe side. Some doctors say five.)

So now here I am, back in bed with a prescription of amoxicillan that makes me woozy if I don’t take it on a full stomach, and high hopes that I’ll be better before the weekend. (I’m making another attempt to celebrate my birthday with my girlfriends and hoping that it won’t be ruined, once again, by my immune system… Fingers crossed!)

On the positive, however, I got my period this past Sunday! I know what you’re thinking, nice little Easter Sunday treat! Yep, right in the bathroom of brunch at The Olde Mill Inn. (If you haven’t been to the Olde Mille Inn in Basking Ridge, NJ, you should check it out. Gorgeous, country-club type of restaurant and hotel that I thought was pretty funny for me to get my irregular period at. They say timing is everything?! Maybe James Franco’s gorgeous headshot, hanging on their wall of celebrities that have visited the inn, stirred up my reproductive organs. Oh hey, Jamesey heyyyyyy!!!) Anyways, any other female my age would have been mortified, but I just stuffed some TP in my underwear (it’s a light flow so don’t judge me) and headed over to the waffle bar before bouncing up the stairs to my family’s table and announcing to my Mom and sister my big news.

Although I thought I was quiet, clearly my excitement could not be contained. My seven-year-old nephew all of a sudden started chanting “Caroline’s going to be moody. Caroline’s going to be moody, Caroline’s going to…” you get the point. How does he know this kind of stuff? Well, with mucho thanks to my twenty-seven-year-old brother, whom might as well be a seven-years-old but of course! I didn’t care though, I had a period AND I was eating gluten and sugar again… sounds like a great Easter to me 0:)

(As a refresher, I’ve been dealing with an irregular period for five years now so I felt like I was fourteen again getting that magical, crimson surprise in my underwear that morning. I started birth control when I was fifteen. Only a year after I got my period. I know, I know, I was young. And that’s a whole other story that some day I might dive into with you. But for now, just know I was young and my body, I guess, got used to those hormones… since I stayed on BC for ten years. When I stopped it, my period stopped with it. And around a year-and-a-half ago I started getting a period here and there, but nothing was ever consistent. My gyno sent me to a nutritionist, whom said it’s probably because I have slightly polycystic ovaries… which, in her opinion, meant my blood sugars were unstable. I needed to eat a no gluten, no sugar diet in order to stabilize my blood sugars and get my period back. (Now, my brother AND my sister are Type I Diabetics so glucose issues run in my family. So I believed her and took to the diet.) Do you know how hard that was?! The no gluten thing, no problem! But no sugar?? Sugar. is. in. EVERYTHING! Everything. Fruit has sugar in it for crying out loud! And I couldn’t have any of it. This diet worked for a little bit. But then, the periods stopped. What the F??! Well guess what? I’m eating sugar and gluten and my period’s back in action MO FO’S!! (Shit, I hope I just didn’t jinx myself cuz it was kind of light :/ Eek oh well, fingers crossed.) So now that I know they aren’t the culprits of my amenorrhea, I intend to start treating myself to sandwiches, pastas, bagels and glutenous (see what I did there ;P ) desserts. After all, I am from and currently residing in Jersey! Holla, holla!!… But I will always be a healthy eater. In fact, I made the most delicious black bean, stevia brownies for Easter and my Mom got Reese’s Peanut Butter Cup and Oreo creme brownies from the bakery. I tried all of them and I still think mine win. Sugar is great but it’s just too sweet for me now… sometimes. Hehe 😉

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I’m having my endocrine blood panel and immunoglobulin blood work done in a few days so I’m eager to see what is found… until then, just going to try to rest, eat well and kick this cold and infection to the curb and think positively. Mind over matter, I’ve found, is definitely helpful. Oh and I’m going to try to stay away from my nephew’s kisses. He’s kind of obsessed with kissing me and call me a germ-o-phobe but he is a walking disease carrier. I love the little lamb to death and call me selfish, but I have to take concern for my health and well-being these days. Which I think I’m deserving of. I’ll write in a few days to tell y’all how the panel went. Wish me luck and keep your fingers crossed for me!!

*I just heard a recent study that the netty pot isn’t the “safest” and “healthiest” thing for you. Apparently if not cleaned properly, it can do more harm than good and cause further infections and mold in your sinus cavities. So if you do like the product and it works for you, by all means, keep using it! Just make sure you clean it thoroughly. I’ve gone so far as bleaching it and thoroughly rinsing it in between uses. However, after giving it more thought, I’ve decided to stop using it and just let my body run it’s natural course of getting rid of the mucous. Colonics, after all, are a similar concept when you think about it, and they definitely did not help me. But make your own judgements: every body is different. Good luck!!

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Allow Me to Introduce Myself

Who am I? That’s something that I have been ultimately forced to think a lot about ever since my immune system took a turn for the worst. Am I an actor? Yes. But I’m more than just an actor. Am I a writer? Yes. But I’m more than just a writer. Am I blonde-haired, green-eyed and thin? I like to think so… although my weight is something I’ve been struggling with, as I’m sure I will vent about in later posts. I am female, after all. Am I extremely heady? An over-thinker? An over-achiever, work-aholic, kind of corny, ray of sunshine, self-deprecating, health-finatic, foody that’s scared of growing up but ultimately wants the fairy-tale ending and starts each day with chakra meditations and ends each craving just one bite of chocolate? Yes! (And it’s never just one, let’s be ser (serious) here. Btdubbs (btw), I abrev (abreviate) a lot. Try to stay with me.) I am all of those things. You might say I’m an indecisive mess. I used to agree with that statement. But now… I think I’m just me.

Oh. And I’m also one of the many people today suffering from an auto-immune disease. On the positive, it has forced me to look at my life in all aspects (hence my descriptive introduction before). On the negative, I don’t feel so hot. And no one has a clear diagnosis for me yet.

Except for this: I have scoliosis. I was diagnosed when I was fifteen years old and had to wear a back brace called the “Charleston Brace”. For those of you that don’t know what that is, it’s basically a big, hard plastic casting of your torso that you belt tightly around you, bending you in the opposite direction that your spine is curving in. On the positive, kids can be mean and thankfully I only had to wear it at night. But trust me, every time I brought that thing to my “girls night” sleepovers, I was teased. I can still here: “I can’t believe you are actually bringing that thing!” (Here’s another thing about me: I have amazing self-discipline.) On the negative, does the way I described it sound at all comfortable? And after three years of uncomfortable nights (which often I a-woke to finding that uncomfortable thing lying on the floor), I am STILL having spine problems… fifteen years later.

Yep, I turned Thirty last week. And it was the most miserable birthday I’ve ever experienced. Not because I turned Thirty (and trust me, that took a little while to accept). But because after finally getting to a place where I was accepting of where I am in my life and with my health right now, and just decided on spending my birthday with a simple day at the mall with my Mom and Grandmother and having dinner with the rest of my family at Cheesecake Factory (I’m a foody and often stray from chain restaurants, but even I succomb to the temptations of the Cheesecake factory. I even decided I would splurge on my “sugar free gluten free” diet! That’s HUGE! For me.( Well, it all went to shit when I woke up that morning with a prickling, scratchy throat and chronic diarrhea. (Yes, to all the men out there, like it or not, females poop too. And therefore we also experience the runs just like you do. Get over it or earmuffs. ) So my birthday was miserable because I spent the day at the urgent care and the rest of it back and forth from couch to bathroom. The highlight was my splurge on take out and FroYo which my mother coerced me into in fear that I might have a nervous breakdown if my serotonin levels weren’t elevated STAT. My nephew’s birthday was a few days later and THAT had to be canceled, along with my dinner and drinks with three of my best girlfriends from high school and their hubbies which I was sooooo looking forward too! I was even excited to be the seventh wheel!! Thanks virus. Thanks for ruining my life!! Grrrrrrrrrrrrrr

Basically, it’s a long story… but before all of this birthday mishap, I moved 3,000 miles back across the country to my parents home in good ol’ New Jersey. Now where I grew up, it is beautiful! Lots of trees and greenery, horse farms and deer running in between yards… after all, they call it the Garden State for a reason. But it’s hard moving back to the dirty dirty (it’s obviously not dirty but I like to pretend I’m gangster from time to time. And if you’re from Jersey, you can use the it’s pseudonyms. If you’re not, fair warning for a fist pump to yo’ face!) Anyways, it’s especially hard moving back here after you’ve been living in sunny, warm Los Angeles, California for the past five years. (I have a place in my heart for both of these states always.) But the move was necessary.

Basically I spent the past year and a-half trudging through my life. I am an actor and a hard-worker. So I was working and booking gigs, but not enough (YET!) to pay all the bills. So I worked on the side as a cocktail waitress in the famous Skybar on Sunset Blvd. Yes, it is beautiful but if Skybar isn’t the epitome of “looks can be deceiving” then I don’t know what is. Screenshot 2015-04-02 19.13.41Eight hours on your feet, running from Euro-tourist, to Long Island chugging Persian, just to have your manager yelling at you for neglecting “Table 3”, whom, once you finally squeeze through the 500 hundred drunkards partying on the pool deck, either yells at you for not “knowing who they are” or just stares at you, open-mouthed, drooling over your frigidly, shaking body dressed in either a bathing suit top and sarong (by day) or skimpy, black jumpsuit (by night). (Side note, men, I won’t even go into how rude it is to look at a female like they are a piece of meat REGARDLESS of what they are wearing… but I will say ANY person that has to ask you if you “know who they are” is usually the lowest person on that industry that they are a part of’s totem pole… or just simply not worth knowing.)

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So, needless to say, I was getting very limited sleep due to me running from audition to audition, writing daily in coffee shops and carrying carafes of cranberry juice and bottles of Grey Goose nightly. I had absolutely no energy. I started suffering from chronic fatigue, probably because my adrenal glands were shot, and hadn’t had a period in over five years (earmuffs again for the guys reading this). Basically, I was on birth control pills for ten years prior to moving to California. Then when I moved there, I decide to save myself some money and rid my body of extra hormones and stopped taking them… but when they stopped, so did my menstrual flow. I’m a petite female (currently 5’4 1/2 and 120 lbs on a good day), but when I moved to California I dropped a lot of weight. (I was around 112-115 lbs prior to moving and dropped down to as low as 108 lbs.) Now that’s not terrible, but I was severely unhealthy. I was going through a crisis in my family at the same time and used it, and my busy schedule, as an excuse to not eat. In my defense, I barely had time to think about food let alone eat it… but I know now that that is not an excuse. Hey, you live to learn, right? Now, in the past year, I started putting weight back on. Which I was okay with… until the water retention set in. Some days I would swell up so badly that I could barely walk! I would go to urgent care centers and they would take my blood pressure, which would be extremely low (because my BP is on the lower side already, on the regular), but ultimately they would tell me I was fine and send me home.

I also would complain about the pressure in my head and sinuses. I had a heart beat in my head that was so bad, I couldn’t sleep at night. And my neck hurt. For an entire year I did not sleep on a pillow! Until one night I forced myself to struggle through my pain and fatigue and go on a date. I know what you’re thinking but for those of you struggling with pain, fatigue, illnesses, etc., I strongly urge you to get yourself out and laugh a little. Laughter is really great medicine and you never know who you will meet that is dealing with similar circumstances. I cannot tell you how many people I have met in the past couple of months that have changed my life just because I went out and opened my mouth honestly when asked how I was feeling. People appreciate honesty and vulnerability. It makes others feel human.

Anyways, nothing ended up coming of the date, because in all honesty, a relationship was the last thing on my agenda, BUT I am SO happy I did. This guy’s side job (and I say side job because most people in LA have a “side job” and an aspirational job. He was aspiring to be a comedian.)… Anyways, his side job was physical therapy. Long story short, he gave me a little bit of a head/neck massage in his car when he dropped me off that evening, and he recommended I try out the Chiroflow pillow. This pillow is a Godsend!! Seriously! I highly recommend it to people dealing with head, neck and sleeping issues in general. It has a pack on the bottom-side that you fill with water that makes the pillow feel like you are sleeping on a cloud. At first I wasn’t sure if I liked it, but I gave it some time and allowed myself to get used to it and for it to form to my body, and now, I don’t go anywhere without it!

However, unfortunately the headaches did not stop. I had a gynecologist check-up this past September and my Gyno detected slightly polycistic ovaries. She basically told me I needed to start getting my period ASAP or I am at risk for ovarian cancer. So, she sent me to see a nutritionist whom recommended a no sugar, no gluten diet. Now I’m a pretty healthy eater so I didn’t think this would be that hard for me. So at first, I just eliminated the complex carbs and sugar. But that did not work. So then I went as far as not eating any fruit or starchy vegetables. At all. Except maybe once a week would have a piece of grapefruit. Well guess what? That’s when the flow started again. So I kept up with this diet for a few months and felt pretty good but would get constipated. And at first, when I did somewhat go, a mucuos would come out with my stool. (To this day no one has an explanation for me as to what that was. Some say it was candida, others say it was my mucuosal lining in my intestines. But whatever it was, it stopped. Thank goodness!)

So to help with the constipation, a friend recommended I try a colonic. (I was in  LA after all.) So I did. I do NOT recommend this for anyone. It is the most uncomfortable, unnatural thing to ever put your body through…. and I put mine through it THRICE! Yep. Maybe more, but I’m gonna say three times for now. Now the last time I tried one, my  body swelled up like an umpa-lumpa and my mind felt like I was under water. I went to work that night and could barely talk to customers. My legs were so swollen that it hurt to bend them and walk up and down stairs. My one girlfriend felt my calf and said she was nervous it was going to pop! I started crying. Now I’m giving you the short version of all of my health issues to bring you up to speed, but I had been dealing with attacks like these for a very, very long time by then. Days of feeling chronic fatigue, sinusitis, congestion, extreme headaches, constipation and water retention/swelling… so by that night, I had had it!

My manager allowed me to leave and my roomate picked me up and took me to the Emergency Room. I was nervous I was coming down with Diabetes because I’ve had low blood sugar attacks before and I felt that way… plus both my older sister and younger brother are Type II Diabetics. Well I layed in a hospital bed until 3:00am before someone came to see me… and that was only to put me on a guirney and wheel me into the hallway where I spent the remainder of my visit. My body was so exhausted I could barely keep my eyes open and I just kept peeing out water all night long. They eventually did some bloodwork and the only thing they found was that my sodium, chloride and potassium levels were low. No Diabetes. Then I went home at 7:00am. I spent $200 on a copay and later was slapped with a $1200 emergency room bill for a guirney and a hallway. Thanks Cedars Sinai! My roomate was exhausted that night and left me so I had to take an Uber to the Skybar’s employee parking garage. So needless to say, it was an expensive day of no solutions. I got home and went to bed, only to awake to a note from my roomate asking for a $10 reimbursement for her parking fee at the hospital the night prior. Thanks for the consideration, roomie. I was depressed and a mess. My Mom recommended I come home but I didn’t want to yet. I was determined to figure this out and get back to me life.

So my roomate and I ended up having a talk and we patched things up. Something that I learned from all of this that I want to share with other people battling diseases and chronic pain is to be patient with your friends, families and significant others. What you are going through is hard, but remember that the people that surround you are going through it too and some are stronger than others. If some people need to keep their distance at times, try to respect that. They have lives too and dealing with someone that is sick all the time is emotionally draining for them as well. For those of you out there that are dealing with someone that is chronically ill, try to remember how they feel. Often times they are more scared than they are ill. The mind is a very powerful thing and so is fear. It is at the basis of all things. So I recommend communication. Communicate your frustrations and feelings with each other. I guarantee you will be able to work it out. Compromise with each other. All relationships, whether they be friendships, roomates, lovers, family members, they all need compromise in order to survive. Life is a constant game of give and take. You will not grow unless you play. And you’ll be happy to know that my relationship with my roomate grew so much after that and she is now one of my dearest friends 🙂

So after that, I ended up meeting with an endocrinologist, rheumatologist, infectious disease doctor and scoliosis doctor. They all ran tests and nothing came back. Except that my potassium, chloride and sodium levels were low and my ANA was positive. The rheumatologist, however, was not alarmed by this and just said to come back in a few months because something might be “brewing”. Something might be brewing?! Well lets catch it before it’s brewed woman!!

I even tried alternative medicine… an accupuncturist helped me immensely by cupping me. If anyone has ever been cupped, you’ll know how much this can help someone battling with chronic congestion but you’ll also know what this looks like! (For those of you that don’t see below.) I looked like an octopus attacked me on my chest and back! Haha! But I was feeling better so I didn’t care.

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I saw a Chinese medicine man that said my issues are cuz of my scoliosis and water retention. He recommended eating daikon root to help with the water. It did… a little. But I was tired of small solutions and baby steps. My rheumatolist recommended a spiritual healer. (Again, reminder. I was in LA.) So guess what? I went. And he helped! … a little. To be honest, I’m happy I went though. Because $250 later, I had a relationship with God again that I really lacked. But he didn’t cure me of my ailments. He actually told me I have TMM (Too Much Mind). Now this I agree with LOL. I think A LOT!! But I highly doubt I have all these symptoms from thinking too much. Could my mind be making them worse? Yes, of course! So I started practicing meditation more religiously, journaling and praying more, and they all really helped me cope, but I still was not feeling better. My primary care doctor said she thought it was stress and problems with my scoliosis so I started physical therapy. That helped… once again, a little.

Finally a neurosurgeon said to me “Well if your having head and neck pain, lets see what’s going on in your neck.” Brilliant!! So we did an MRI of my neck and found a herniated disc in my C5 and 6. He prescribed Gabapentin and said we’d see if that helps. It did… for a bit. (Side note, I have never had a hot doctor before and he was my first! Hubba hubba! Ladies, if you ever need a neurosurgeon and are in LA, go to Dr. Frank Acosta at USC Keck. He’s sweet, smart and such a cutie! I’m sure he’s taken though- cuz all the good ones always are- but at least you’ll have a more enjoyable doctor visit 😉 wink wink).

Anyways, after that I decided to move back to New Jersey to be with my family while I continue my medical excursion. Since I’ve been back, I’ve met with some pretty amazing doctors and one not so good one. I am working with Dr. Errico in New York City on quelling my pain in my neck and arms before tackling surgery on my scoliosis and Dr. Nunez in Morristown, NJ to figure out what is going on with my endocrine system. I have bloodwork ordered for next week and am hoping to find some answers. He thinks it could be a cortisol problem which would explain the swelling, water retention and amenorrhea. However, if my bloodwork comes back and there is nothing out of the ordinary, it is time to tackle working with a psychiatrist. I’ve worked with psychologists for years now but never a psychiatrist. I used to find shame in thinking that my mind could possibly be causing physical issues with me, but I’ve finally gotten to a place of accepting that. If that’s the case, let’s tackle it! I’m ready to get better and move on with my life… book another acting gig, maybe meet my future husband… who knows?! The world is my oyster 🙂 … or so I’m retraining my brain to think that way. For those of you struggling with illnesses and chronic pain, stay positive. Try to retrain your brain to be thankful for things that you DO have. And be open to talking with professionals about it. It helps, I swear!! I had a great talk with my grandmother yesterday that really helped me with this outlook. Sigh, Grandma’s are just so great, aren’t they?! And so wise.

I also am having an EMG test done in two weeks. Basically the physiatrist I met with is not entirely convinced that my pain in my arms and neck are from my herniated disc so he wants to run more tests. I have more pain on my left side then I do on my right, and my herniated disc is prominent on the right side so this does not make sense to a lot of doctors. I’ve asked if it could possibly be from the syringomelia in my thoracic spine (which is a small cyst or sack of fluid in your spinal cord) but the physiatrist didn’t think so because it is in the thoracic spine and only 2.5 mm.

Either way, I feel good that we are on the right track. And I am SO THANKFUL to be here with my family’s support while I go through all of this. I do miss Los Angeles, my friends, acting and the warm weather!! Sigh. But I am thankful to be here. Everything happens for a reason and I believe that my health brought me back east to figure that reason out. I do want to go back to LA once I’m healthy, but I’m also keeping my options open while I’m here. I actually self-submitted for a project in New York a few weeks ago and got a callback! Unfortunately I wasn’t able to make it to the callback this past weekend because of how sick I was… but I took it as a sign to keep my eye on the prize. And the prize is building my immunity, getting myself healthy and straight (my back that is, hehe) so that I can go on auditions in the future, book projects and become the star that I already am! And also to enjoy my life. This experience has also made me realize how important it is to have fun and enjoy my friendships. I used to have a lot of it. (Fun, that is.) I was quite the little party animal in high school and college and when I moved to LA I lost that. Alcoholism runs in my family and I think I started fearing that I would lose my drive and get out of control. I constantly told myself, “I’ve had my fun. I need to stay focused.” But then I went in the total opposite direction with my work-aholic tendencies and became unhealthy. The key to life is balance. After all, what is a life worth living if you can’t enjoy it?

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