Where’s My Tour Bus?

I have a love/hate relationship with many things. Road trips are one of them.

I love road trips in the nostalgic, seeing America sort of way. Turning up the radio and passing weird things you never knew existed? Pretty fantastic. However, there is nothing fantastic about being in a confined space for hours with noisy people. I believe I was meant to be an artist with a large private tour bus and paid driver.

Living the dream

That, of course, would require singing talent. Or at least autotune. As I am a nineteen-year-old on my way to a hospital rehab facility, the tour bus was not made available to me. Something about “lack of funds.” I was instead offered a Toyota Camry with the accompaniment of my mother and brother.

I love my family. Truly, I do. With the exception of my father, they’re all very outgoing and wildly entertaining. This is great for when you need a good laugh. It is slightly less welcomed when you are in a car that seats five-max.

Now, given the societal impression that women are louder than men, I’m sure you’re thinking it’s my mother who’s voice is still ringing in my ears. You would be wrong. My brother’s voice packs the punch of a sorority alumni meeting. It also reaches the same pitch. It’s quite astounding actually.

Within the first few hours, the sound war had already begun.

“MITCHELL! SHUT UP!”

“I SWEAR, I’M GOING TO (insert something horrendously violent and out-of-character)!”

“Seriously, just kill me now.”

“Ughhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhh.”

What can I say? Annoy me and the words that come out of my mouth either double or halve my age.

As of now, I have a constant headache. When doctors ask how many headaches I have a week, the answer is one. I have had the same headache for over three years now. At this point, I should name it. Something bitchy.

This may come as a shock, but loud noises make headaches worse. Very loud noises make me feel like I’m dying. The level of noise that my brother sends into the world makes me homicidal. If you see me in the news for somewhat murderous charges, you will know why.

This particular road trip was divided into three days of driving. My mother and I did it in two last September, but it was just too much. We waited until school ended for the little one and headed to our first stop in Colorado Springs.

Did I mention it was my brother’s sixteenth birthday? I suppose he’s not so little anymore, but it pisses him off when I call him anything referencing him being young. So I will continue to do it. One of my personal favorites is “Baby Mitch,” which I called him when we were younger. I usually drag that one out of hiding when he’s complaining about something stupid. Sisterly love.

We tried to make his birthday as special as possible. Obviously, this was not his first choice of activities. But, it’s just the way things worked out. He picked out the movies to watch in the car (Finding Nemo and The Breakfast Club), and chose what fast food was picked up on the way. Reservations were made at a nice hotel for the night. Standards were far beyond our norm for rest stops. We normally drive as much as we can, then look up a decent place in the AAA guidebook. This one had an indoor pool, restaurants, wii games in the lobby, and a chef working an omlette bar come morning. It had an upscale cabin vibe, given the mountain surroundings. Definitely better than your standard Marriott with continental breakfast. Seeing as most kids in our town just get drunk on their sixteenth, I think his experience was an upgrade.

Lonely

Could have been worse

The next two days resulted in a lot of laughing, fighting, sleeping, and pill-popping. Being in a small car makes Advil exceptionally desirable. It also makes duct tape and rope desirable. Draw your own conclusions.

As of now, I am officially in Minnesota. Let’s just hope this week is easier than the drive.

xx Courtney

 

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They Tried to Make Me Go To Rehab…

I’m going to let you in on a secret:

I am headed to rehab.

Nope, not that kind of rehab. Although I have objected with a speech surprisingly similar to that of Amy Winehouse, I will not be checking in for substance abuse, sex addiction, or to fulfill a court order. I’m going for a rehab trend that has yet to hit the Hollywood Hills: physical rehabilitation.

Yes, ladies and a few gentlemen, there is a facility designed for those who are in constant pain. My fairly impressive medical history has given me the insurance approval to travel to freezing-as-balls Minnesota for a month. Lucky me!

The rehabilitation is through the Mayo Clinic (shocker, right?). Mayo Clinic has three locations: hot and sunny Arizona, hot and beachy Florida, and there-is-not-enough-clothing-to-make-me-warm Minnesota. So where do they decide to set up shop for the already afflicted? Minne-freakin’-sota. Who the hell was in charge of that?! I know that my emotional reception would be so much greater if I could have ocean breaks. Fact.

Unfortunately I am not on the board that makes such decisions. I’m just the pawn, buying into the hopes of feeling better. So, to Minnesota I go! I suppose if I can get my life back, or rather start a new life, I can tough it out for four weeks.

Luckily, this is an out-patient program. If I had to live at the center, I would then need to add something else to my calendar: full-on psychiatric intervention. I just know that there will be some people there that I’ll definitely need a to get away from. I’m all for misery loves company, but sometimes misery needs a break. Preferably a break with food and Real Housewives.

What I am truly dreading is waking up early. Call time is 8:00. What does the world even look like at 8 AM? I could describe in great detail what 3 AM looks like, but early daylight hours are nothing but a distant memory. Like Lunchables and MASH. A bit of time has passed since I last had to be up at a specific time everyday. Especially such an early time. Even the last few years I was in high school, I never had a first period class. My days have not started before 9:30 AM since I was a sophomore.

It was decided that my mother and I will be road-tripping this one for all 1,200 miles. That’s a grand total of 2,400 miles for a round trip and approximately 40 hours of driving. Going with my mother isn’t all that bad. I’m just really awful at sitting still for any amount of time. I’ve always had trouble staying in one place and I have Restless Legs Syndrome (it’s a real thing, I swear). With all the actual baggage I have to bring with me, flying would’ve turned into a nightmare. We also needed to have a car. You know, to go places other than a hospital.

For the first week, my brother will be joining us. After all, what teenager wants to spend spring break on the couch doing nothing?

How I'm spending Spring Break. .. THAT CHIP COMES BACK

He is flying back after a lovely week of blood tests and inevitable group therapy with me. So much better than endless hours of television. You’re welcome, little one.

I have expectations for the outcome, but none for the process. Let’s just hope no one wants me to dress in more than yoga pants.

xx Courtney

Needles and Golden Pills: A Month of Alternative Therapy (a Mulan GIF Presentation)

I’ve been absent from the blogosphere in order to be a more functional person on Earth. I’ve told you all before that I have a chronic illness that is not entirely under control at the moment, and it was time to do something about it.

Okay, maybe not this dramatic.

I’ll premise my past by saying that medication of any kind does not work for me. For starters, I am allergic to basically everything. Its hard to weigh the benefits when your airways are rapidly becoming smaller. The (very) few pills that don’t cause anaphalactic shock just have zero effect on me. Its like taking sugar pills. Really horrible sugar pills.

When I was in Minnesota to visit the Mayo Clinic last year, I found doctors who understood that a prescription was never going to solve my problems. It was the first time that an M.D. really discussed the different types of alternative therapies. Sure, I had doctors recommend other things before (i.e. yoga, tai chi), but never truly approached the idea of secondary medicine. Sorry doctor, but sometimes diet and exercise just isn’t going to cut it.

I was told to slowly incorporate many different forms of treatment. One of the top recommendations? Acupuncture.

Basically.

I hate needles. Most people do. When my mom was working in a hospital, she even met heroin addicts who were terrified of needles. Go figure! Because of my rather extensive medical history, the majority of my life has been spent as a test subject. Between injections, IVs, and blood tests, I have had quite a bit of experience with pokey objects. I’ve had some pretty awful situations that have deterred me from needles completely.

My immediate family has been wanting me to try acupuncture for about two years. My grandfather has also been actively pushing me to go for a solid three.  Once the  doctor demanded it last September, my fate was solidified. I may be a legal adult, but I knew I wasn’t going to have much choice in the matter. It would only be a matter of time before I was dragged taken to the acupuncturist.

That time came about three weeks ago. The patience of my mother was at a low point, while the pain in my neck was at a high point. When you are in an excessive amount of pain, you’re willing to do pretty much anything to make it better.

To be completely honest, the first thing I thought about after making the appointment was the “Ancestors Awakening” scene from Mulan.

“My children never caused such trouble. They all became acupuncturists!”

The second was this:

I feel ya, Ping.

But sometimes, you have to suck it up. If there was a possibility that this could make me feel better, I had to at least try. My neck was in excruciating pain and I was desperate. As for the fear? I was just going to have to get over it.

The day of my first appointment made me anxious. On one hand, I really wanted to go. I wanted to feel better. If this is what was going to help, awesome. On the other hand, I wanted to hide under a blanket, call in sick, and unlearn (is that a word?) the meaning of acupuncture.

My sentiments exactly.

But when I make a commitment, I make a commitment. My plan was to go into that office pretending I had no reservations whatsoever. I was a praised actress in drama club, I could certainly pull off the “no fear” act. The acupuncturist would never know I was practically crying on the inside.

After filling out some paperwork and being thoroughly questioned on my reasons for being there, it was time. She started my session by giving me some Chinese herbs “to relax.” They were in pill form and very strange looking. It was oddly shaped and golden in color. I don’t know about you, but I have never taken pills that looked like they were coated in gold leaf. I had no idea what the herbs were, but took them anyways. When my mom was in college, her roommate’s mother used to send Chinese herbs from Taiwan. This roommate would always give her some, and the effects were apparently wonderful. I think there’s a rule to Chinese herbs. You’re not supposed to know what they are, you just take them. I then removed my shirt and waited for the inevitable. She brought out a scary-looking electric massager. It probably looked scary to me because I HATE massages. I don’t have anything against other people touching me, I’m just very sensitive. Most are really into the whole “deep tissue” thing, but it is incredibly painful for me. She could tell I was not enjoying this particular therapy, as could my mother who was situated in the corner of the room, but she continued. I didn’t know at the time, but it was going to make me feel much better. I don’t know what it is about acupuncturists, but they just know what you need. You’re hurting, but they just smile knowing that you won’t be soon. No pain, no gain, right?

After torturing my back and neck in the kindest possible way, it was the moment of truth. I heard her opening the package of sterile needles and started to calmly panic. She had told me in the beginning that she would start slow, as to not send my body (and my psyche) into overdrive. She tapped on my back three times and placed the needle into the upper part of my right shoulder blade. I felt it for a few seconds and then- nothing. Seriously. It was a very anticlimactic moment. I had protested and procrastinated for years to avoid absolutely nothing. I’ve felt more pain from a paper cut.

I now have appointments twice a week. On Mondays and Wednesdays, I look forward to going in for the most relaxing hours of my life. I can tell that it is working because these massages hurt less and less each time. I’m like a completely different person. Today, I actually liked the massage.

I would highly recommend acupuncture to anyone. I can certainly say that acupuncture no longer scares me. I enter the building confident and ready.

Stick ’em in, doctor.

When I leave, I am so relaxed. After my appointment today, I told my lovely acupuncturist that I had never felt so calm in my life. The world’s problems melt away when I’m there. It feels good to not only have less pain, but to have conquered a major fear of mine. I’m still scared of needles and will avoid them in any other situation. With acupuncture, though, I will happily make an exception.

xx Courtney

Have you ever gotten acupuncture? Would you consider trying it?

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