Need a Signal Boost…

I have a problem knee. It started years ago after a car accident, and ended (or so I thought) about 3 years ago after the gradual wearing away of the cartilage in my right knee started to become painful. I had it treated, I went to Physical Therapy… and it was fixed. Or so I thought.

A little more than 3 years later and I start having knee pain again. Another round of treatments, more physical therapy, and it was starting to get better again. And then…

One evening earlier this month, during an otherwise uneventful hike through Griffith Park, I took a step up an incline and felt a sharp pain and a large crunch. But because I was at the top of a mountain, I walked it off and got back to my car. And after the initial crunching, honestly, it seemed okay. The next day it was sore. I chalked it up to the normal soreness from overexertion, put some ice on it and went on with my day. The day after that I woke up to my knee the size of a grapefruit and the inability to bend it at all. It was stiff, sore and HURT. Again, walked as much as I could, got it loosened up, iced it and gave myself the next 3 days off working out and generally sat on my ass as much as possible.

Flash forward to 3 weeks later and though it’s gotten generally better and it’s manageable, I am noticing that it’s always stiff, it’s always sore and remains a bit swollen. I can’t bend it. My range of motion is limited and I’m in constant pain. So back to the doctor again. Another MRI, and this time, it’s not just the same old thing. The crunch I felt during that hike was apparently a pretty big tear in the already weakened cartilage. On the MRI I could see the spot where it was missing plainly. No need for doctor translation on this one – look there’s a chunk of my knee missing – easy to see.

And this time, I will need surgery to repair the damage.

And herein lies the problem.

I am a freelance photographer. And I don’t get paid sick days. I have been told by my doctor that recovery from this surgery will require me to be on crutches for up to 6 weeks. Which means, I will not be able to work for at least that long. I have health insurance, but I am going to be responsible for paying part of it and even with insurance, I’m looking at a couple thousand dollars.

I hate asking for help.

But there it is.

I need help.

What I am asking for is this – simply a signal boost.

I have an Etsy store filled with prints of my photography work – I need to sell them. A good number of them are already framed from having shown in local galleries over the last few years. I have a few things I’m selling on eBay (and I’m sure once I’ve taken a moment to go through my closet, I will have more).

Here are the links:

Lauren Elisabeth Photography on Etsy (etsy.com/shop/laurenelisabethphoto)

and my seller ID on eBay is TheTankGyrl, my auctions are here:

http://www.ebay.com/sch/thetankgyrl/m.html?_ipg=48&_sop=12&_rdc=1

Friends and readers! I would appreciate it greatly if you could pass these links along to your followers.

Also, for the next few weeks before the surgery, I’m going to need to work as much as possible. If you need headshots, portraits, have a party or event that needs coverage – my work is at http://luxela.net.

Thanks for taking a moment to read this.

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Body Confidence. Also, Please Stop It.

This morning, while sipping my coffee and perusing the internet, I came across this headline on an MSN article:

“How To Get Cameron Diaz’s Arms”

It was next to the accompanying article “How To Get Abs Like Beyonce.”

This bugs me. But why should it? After all, these are articles that are meant to be inspiring to women everywhere to get in shape and be fitter, healthier and (in theory) generally happier with themselves. It’s not the reason behind the articles that bothers me so much, its the method.

Why can’t those “aspirational” headlines be more actualized and less sensationalized. I’m never going to have Cameron Diaz’s arms, Beyonce’s abs, or Jennifer Lopez’s butt. Why must we be beaten over the head with these bullshit aspirations to look like women who, let’s be honest, WE WILL NEVER LOOK LIKE. It does us, as women, a huge disservice to encourage us to reach unrealistic goals. We should be encouraged to be ourselves, be beautiful as we are and own our flaws. It’s not the perfect bits that make us beautiful. Its our flaws that make us unique and therein lies each and every woman’s own beauty. Let’s stop clicking on those links, stop buying those magazines, just STOP supporting the ridiculousness of all this until the magazine and website publishers who perpetuate these articles start offering us articles that inspire us to be the best of ourselves, not the impossibility of being “just like” someone else.

***Silly thought that popped into my head when I read that headline: Cameron Diaz’s arms would look really funny on me. I have a bigger frame than she does. If my arms were as thin as hers, I’d look like I had twigs stuck out of my shoulders and except for Madonna – no one wants that.***

But seriously, for once, I would like to see an article with a more realistic approach and headline “How to Be the BEST YOU THAT YOU CAN BE” would be nice. Or maybe “How to Be Fit and Healthy, Taking Into Consideration Your Own Body Frame.” I suppose those headlines just aren’t attention grabbing. Though for the ladies that I know who are learning to be comfortable in their own skins, I think they would be.

Every woman’s magazine, fashion magazine and online beauty site constantly tells us we have to look like someone else. And it’s infuriating.

I work out just about every day. I do. I’m proud of the body I have achieved and I work hard at making it the best it can be. But I also have problem areas that genetically speaking are never going to be perfect. And that’s okay. Yeah, sometimes it bugs me that no matter how many dumbbell curls or tricep extensions I do, my upper arms always look flabbier than I’d like. But I’ve come to accept this. That acceptance came last year, when I discovered that even with that unwanted jiggle on my arms I was able to lift and carry a full 50 quart cooler from my job site to my car. Those bicep curls made it not only possible, but not really that hard. My PA saw me do it. She was impressed. And honestly, so was I. It felt good to know that even though I wasn’t achieving the visible results I was striving for, I was actually a lot stronger than I’d thought. Suddenly having “ripped” arms just didn’t matter so much.

We shouldn’t be aspiring to be something we can never achieve. We should be aspiring to be the versions of ourselves that make us happiest. We should aspire to be healthy, fit and strong. We should eat salad one day and cake the next. We should be enjoying ourselves and know that the secret to real happiness isn’t directly proportional to how close to the same dress size as Keira Knightly we are, it’s in being confident and happy with ourselves. I know women who are happy and confident at every size and shape imaginable – and that’s exactly how it should be for everyone.

It makes me sad when I see a girl who is beautiful, talented and extremely stylish post a photo of herself that says “I hate my butt and thighs.” Because what I saw in that photo was a girl with a great ass and nice legs. But we’re so heavily bombarded with these unattainable goals, she doesn’t see it. So – in case you read this – you’re gorgeous. Own it.

Apparently this is Body Confidence Week 2014.

Well, screw that.

I say we own our imperfections and share our struggles and make 2014 Body Confidence Year.

Good Saturdays (Also Called: I Want to Play on a Giant Hamster Wheel Too!!!)

Lately, I’ve been limiting myself to one good blow-out go out day per week as financially I’m not entirely secure at the moment. (My career is definitely in flux at the moment and it’s showing in my bank account balance, but more on that later.)  This past Saturday, the outing was more than perfect.

My good friend B came into town Saturday morning for the day and we’d planned a great day out. I took her up to the Getty Center to go look at arts. It was an amazingly beautiful day and the Getty was crowded but we’d gotten there early enough to see it all just about. (We skipped most of the section of French Antiquities – which I tend to refer to as the Rooms of Ugly Old Gaudy Crap.) But the rest was fantastic – like the photographs by Felice Beato – classic images of India and China as well as the rest of 1800’s Europe – amazing images of places that have been since changed and lost – and in some cases (Constantinople) don’t exist any longer as they were then. B was particularly impressed by the classic paintings – Van Gogh’s Irises amongst others. In a particularly accurate description, she said that seeing these paintings – the ones that are so completely ingrained in our consciousness, the ones we have grown up looking at in books and movies – that seeing them in person was like realizing there was a rock star sitting next to you. I get that. Particularly when I wander into that one room at the Getty Center. It’s a small room. It’s in the corner of the top floor of the west building and most of the rest of the room is taken up by it’s star attraction – which is a mural of some sort that takes up one side of the room entirely. Honestly, it’s such a trivial painting to me that I have never even noticed what it is or who it’s by. But opposite that wall, is a smaller painting that takes up the lesser side of that opposite wall. But it is my favourite painting of all time. (Edvard Munch’s Starry Night.) Every time I see it, it makes me happy.

The other thing that made me happy on Saturday afternoon at the Getty was the most innocent and spontaneous and gorgeous thing I think I’ve seen in a long time. B and I grabbed a sandwich to split and wandered outside in the garden to sit in the sun and relax for a bit in the midst of our art infusion. We weren’t the only people out there with that idea and the lawn under the building was filled with families and people picnicking. And kids. Lots of kids. Two of these kids, a brother and sister team, who I think were about 8 or 9 years old took it upon themselves to run to the top of the lawn and roll back down it. You know, that perfect kid’s activity when you would lie down in the grass sideways and just roll down a hill wrecklessly? The two of them started it. Then another kid joined in, then another. Pretty soon there was a swarm of kids all rolling down the hill in waves. It was AWESOME. I would have joined them, but I think their parents would probably have thought I was nuts and made them stop.

After a day of wandering around getting cultured, B and I drove out to Echo Park to pick up another friend, G for dinner and a show. And what a show it was.

We went to see a showing of Cirque Berzerk – a darker and more alternative show not unlike the wholesome and family oriented Cirque du Soleil; not that the two have anything to do with each other really, other than a similar style of acrobatics and aerialists. Amongst the aerialists and trampoline acrobats, contortionists and tumblers, the singers, fire breathing, fire dancers and one slightly psychotic stilt-walking clown (who strangely didn’t bother me in the least though I am absolutely terrified of the more traditional clowns – you know the ones with the false noses and bad orange wigs?) there was one other act that got my attention. The apparatus is called the Roue Cyr and is what looks like a giant hula hoop that the acrobat stands inside and on and rolls around spinning and twisting. I kept calling it a giant hamster wheel (actually until about 3 minutes ago while I was writing this and I decided to actually look at my program from Saturday night and figure out what the hell it was called). OHMIGOD it looks like fun!!!

Saturday’s activities took me back to my initial beginning of the year blog post about resolutions and the coming year. After the day I had, I want to add a new one to the list. It’s simple and probably the most easy one to do. Just have more FUN. Whether it’s rolling down a hill in the sun or spinning around on a giant hamster wheel, isn’t that what it’s about – spending time with friends and generally just having fun. Or shouldn’t it be?

I’d Like A Spiritual Cleansing Please

Okay, four days in and I have already skipped. I’m doing yesterday’s blog today. And then I’ll do today’s later. So there… still counts, right?

Today I would like to talk about something that NO ONE should ever have to see. I saw it yesterday.

Yesterday was a typical day in Los Angeles. Woke up to sun, blue skies, and a bit of light wind off the beach. As usual in these cases, I decided to have a nice bike ride. Which I did. Using my new workout tracker app on my phone, I estimate that I did 11.85 miles in a little under an hour. Not bad for an amateur cyclist with a dodgy knee, is it?

However, on my way home, I saw a thing that no one ever in their life should have to see. On my regular bike route, which takes me along the LA River inlet down to Marina Del Rey, there is a homeless man who lives in one of the concrete alcoves along the river retaining walls. (I should clarify for those of you that don’t live here, that the LA River in my area is totally and completely man-made and the path it follows is more of a concrete drainage basin than a real riverbed.) I see this same guy camping out there every day. And it’s close to a number of shops and restaurants so I imagine that in addition to some relative protection from the elements, he has access to a good bit of leftovers to eat. He doesn’t seem crazy. He just lives there.

Yesterday, as I was coming back past him I saw him squatting by the edge of the water. It took me a moment to realize what he was doing. But as I got closer I realized that he was SQUATTING by the water’s edge. Pants around his ankles and a growing pile underneath his bare ass. Then I saw it. Yes, you know what I mean. Do I have to say it?

Now, I am normally not squeamish. But that was too much.  I think “Homeless Guy Taking a Shit” is in the top 10 of the things we don’t ever need to see, nor should we in our lifetimes.  But if we’re keeping score, I can for sure check that one off.

On another note, I can also check off “Having Lunch with the Green Hornet.”  Well, okay, not quite that exactly, but I did see Seth Rogan at a sushi fusion place yesterday at lunch. He’s cute. And at one point, my manic laughter at a random thing that happened made him look at me. So of course, I think that’s a match made in heaven. Don’t you?

Shocked at the Weakness

I’ve been in physical therapy for the ongoing knee issues for about 2 months now. When I started doing the exercises that my trainer gave me to do at home, I was surprised at the difficulty I had doing them to my right side (which is the problem and therefore weaker side). But today something shocking happened.

Dottie, my physical therapy trainer, had me do a simple leg raise. Sitting on the floor with my back straight against the wall to keep posture and with one leg straight out in front of me, the other leg bent – holding my knee as close to my chest as I could while keeping that foot flat to the floor as well. I could barely lift my right leg. My muscles strained and shook and I barely got through 5 of these altered leg lifts. But then I switched to the other side to see the difference. AND OHMIGOD there was a difference. With my left leg straight out in front of me, I could easily lift it, no muscle strain and no difficulty. I got through 10 in half the time and with amazingly accurate control.

Seeing the difference between the two, I have to say, that even though I’m not and that everything SEEMS to work just fine, I’ve never felt so broken in my life.

I’d Like To Choose the Bionic Option Please

Short version of a long story – 3 and a half years ago, I was in a car accident. Lax medical attention didn’t notice that during the accident, my leg got jammed and the result is that for the last 3 and a half years, I’ve been off-balance. Literally. My right leg now pronates where it didn’t used to. I am an avid bicyclist. I ride just about every day. My minimum ride is about 6 to 7 miles. About a year ago I started having knee pain related to my bicycling. After a bit of digging about to find the right doctor, I was finally diagnosed with a proper actual “This is the reason” sort of diagnosis. I was finally happy that I could continue to bike while having the treatments and that the physical therapy prescribed to try to realign my leg and rebuild muscles that I was unconsciously neglecting was starting to work.

Enter the second phase of treatment: Hyaluronan injections to try to repair the damaged cartilage and pad the wearing area to prevent further degradation – which theoretically will mean NO MORE PAIN.

However they don’t warn you ahead of time. The injections HURT. A LOT. Large needle stuck UNDER your knee cap and wiggled around to try to get the hyaluronan into the cracks and fissures of the cartilage. It feels weird. Like there’s something in there that shouldn’t be (and truly there is). Now, hours later, my knee is swollen, the puncture has moments of sharp shooting pain and the entire thing just feels awful. I can walk, but I’m limpy.

I know that this is a work in progress and in the long run it’ll be better. I know that my doctor knows what he’s doing and that the physical therapy was working before and that this should only make it better. But right now, I’d like to just say this:

Firstly, when you’re in an accident, don’t settle so quickly and be sure to get a THOROUGH check before agreeing to that settlement. You never know what issue may rear its ugly head later.

And secondly, is it too late to just get the bionic knee parts and be done with it?