This picture was taken after my 11th surgery, a year after my 10 surgeries, in Gainesville, FL–including my right arm amputation, on September 18, 2013.
That was 4 years ago, to the day.
It isn’t uncommon in the world of people who have suffered from limb loss to acknowledge their “nub-day” (or my favorite) “nub-iversarry”, each year as it comes around. Yet, in my case that doesn’t make it any easier to bring up.
Still, there are so many beautiful things that are in the works for me, that it makes sharing my story, another year ’round all the more worth it for me. Not to show anyone else but myself that the path that I’ve chosen has been nothing short of strength and absolute bad ass-ness.
Although I can’t remember all that much about the time, I can still however, remember exactly how I felt, and exactly how fortunate I was that exact moment. I was told a little less than a week ahead of time what the plan was after it was decided that my hand had lost all motor function. I had my family by my side, both physically and at heart. I was blessed to be in the right place at the right time, with the right doctors and nurses to care for me. (As hopped up on trauma-related pain medication as I was) I knew that I was going to be okay.
It’s incredible how quickly 4 years can go by, but with everything that’s in the works for me, as of right now, I can only look forward to adding another year’s tally to my nub-iversarries for every year that’s to come.
“The great courageous act that we must all do, is to have the courage to step out of our history and past so that we can live our dreams.” -Oprah Winfrey.
Oh, how I’ve missed making vlogs for you! If you’ve been following along with my latest news update, well then you already know the spoiler alert to come.. but if you’ve just stumbled upon this blog or happen to live under a rock, well then.. I’VE GOT SOME BIG NEWS TO TELL YOU!!!
Not only that but I finallyyy had the time to finish piecing together clips from Thailand trip and I cannot wait for you to see it! ..and who knows, on a rainy day, maybe I’ll even find the time to share a few more pictures here, too!
However, it seems as though I’m going to be a very very busy lady for the upcoming summer. You’ll just have to watch to find out why!
Please don’t forget to subscribe on youtube or follow me on instagram, trust me, you’re not going to want to miss this!
Before I get to talking a little bit more about my trip to Thailand*, I have something that I wanted to share with you, that coincidentally happens to be pretty relevant to that announcement I’ve been teasing here and there on my instagram.
So, the other day I had a pretty bad interaction with some young kids at the mall. “Where’s your arm?” The little girl asked me. They might’ve been about 6 but they basically had me cornered in the back of the store me about my physical disability, where their mom was shopping, too. They were pointing, staring and asking if they could touch my arm, even after I calmly gave them a,”no sweetie, I’m sorry” as I tried to end the conversation there, by physically removing myself from the situation. I quickly bolted my way out of the store, as one of the kids followed and almost fully followed out after me. That was what finally made her mom disconnect from her own shopping endeavor, she needed to pay attention to her child.
I’m not here to rant about the mother’s actions. I surely didn’t appreciate being berated with questions–especially because they were very much unwelcomed questions.
But from the kids’ perspectives, I get it. They really were probably curious and even concerned. Maybe they’d never had any type of interactions with PWD’s (people with disabilities) before. Maybe they really thought that I really did lose my arm and wanted to help me look for it. MAYBE were so bored at the mall because their mom was too busy shopping in a store that doesn’t sell clothes for 6 year olds.. but hey, who knows.
My interaction had me blindsided pretty badly– I’ve always loved working with and kids and that’s really no secret. I’m okay with talking openly about myself with any one of any age… but I most importantly know the sad truth: that these things happen. What’s more important is that I know this, the only real way to change these types of situations is by starting to open up the conversation about PWD’s even more.
And I plan to do just that, in every way that I physically and possibly can.
[Edit: Hopefully in the future I’ll feel more comfortable in handling these kinds of situations, but it wasn’t okay and in the moment I was uncomfortable. But I’m okay with that. In retrospect, I handled it in the only way I was prepared to handle it– mindfully.]
The only thing that I can do to help myself overcome this situation is to reflect on my interraction to find what really matters: which were kindness, patience, and self reliance. Mindfulness matters most, people. I promise, it really REALLY works.
…is this a good time to mention that I’m officially going to be certified as a yoga teacher before the end of the summer, yet? Because that’s actually, really a thing! ❤️
I’m so so so SOOO excited to get to share my abilities–both physically and mindfully— with all of you in the very near future. I’ll be Namaste-ing at Grow Yoga in Galloway, NJ–thank you from the very bottom of my heart for sending me on this fantistic, epic journey! I CAN’T WAIT!!!
*So yes, Thailand! I have some videos and pictures that I’m going to be putting together and ill be posting that.. uh, tbd.
As always thank you, thank you ENDLESSLY for your support. I know that I don’t get to write here very much, but please believe me when I say that I really do love what I do. Best of all, at this point in time, there truly ain’t no stopping me now!
Pictured above: What I like to call, my modified version of a “flying crow” pose.
Two years before I was “blessed” with my lupus diagnosis, I was first “blessed” with my endo diagnosis. We had no family history of it and I had no prior implications of what an endo diagnosis fully meant.
In 2011 I underwent a laparoscopic surgery to extract what they call “chocolate lesions” in my ovaries which were giving me symptoms such as nausea & lack of appetite, extreme pain that often lead to full body paralysis, and severe migraines–to name only a few symptoms that were graciously gifted upon me from this awful disease. Thankfully enough, the laparoscopy did its job in relieving the most severe of those symptoms.
I still live with some “mild” symptoms to this day, and although there is a chance that it can cone back in the future; the “blessing” in my own (O.G.) chronic illness is that talking about it has helped in my recovery process as well as in the diagnosis of some of my friends’ battles with the disease as well.
I started this process, moaning and groaning before I began my #40daysofyoga . But with enough convincing from @megankelly, I finally commited. I knew that there was a good chance that I wouldn’t follow through with it. But I did it…and I must say that it was genuinely worth every step of the journey. I’ve come to learn so much about myself and realize just how far I truly am able to push myself, both on and off of my mat.
I live at home with my parents and for the first time in 3 years I actually began both preparing and cooking for myself again, because of the process.
Admittedly there were some rough patches along the way. About 3 weeks into the work I became really sick and physically exhausted. I was in bed, sick and dizzy for days. Not only that, but there were also many emotional obstacles in facing some of my own inner-self discoveries, too. But it was a great extension to help improve upon my own mindful thought process– which is actually what happened to keep me mentally stable throughout my hospital stay around my arm’s amputation.
There will be no more moaning and groaning from me. Meg and I both stuck it out and made it through. Now I am 100% addicted. I love now bringing presence and vitality (among many other drishti’s) into my practice and I strive to continue to do so.
So thank you @growyoga for giving me the tools I needed in order to help perfect upon my practice.
Thank you Meg for being my beautifully-souled and fully mindful support along the way. I love you, girly!!!
(Also thanks for taking the pics, @mugglesandmalas)
A true behind-the-scenes look at my last posting. The post behind the post.
This was written in the wee hours of a Wednesday morning, during a “spur of genius madness”, about a day or so after I posted my last vlog to YouTube.
I didn’t announce it to the world. I didn’t voice my true self behind-the-post and a part of me does feel a small sense of guilt about it. I gave myself a goal of wanting to post my last video to my blog by the end of that weekend (which honestly wasn’t even achieved in the long run, so there was no reason for the hurry). I wanted to be able to show the end result. My arm in its entirety, opening and closing at my command. Still, there was so much more that I wanted there to be that I ended up almost entirely missing the point at all.
I started my blog and vlog as a way to update my friends and family on my health status, and it isn’t that I’m unhappy with my latest post in any way, but it truthfully was intended to have a lot more grit to its grain.
My lupus symptoms are back and they have been for the past few months. What this means is that I’ve been having “flares” on and off in multiple joint sites-where they will stiffen to the point of painful immobility- and I was surviving through my day to day life within a constant cloudy state of fatigue. Because of this I was placed on (everyone’s least favorite prescription medication) prednisone aka “the juice” aka “‘roid rage heaven”.
I wrestled with the idea of explaining why when I moved my arms on film, they jiggled a little bit more. Maybe I could have contoured my rounded-out-moon-face like I had so masterfully learned to do 3 years ago, after returning home from the hospital, when I gained 50 lbs from said least favorite prescription medication… if a “favorite” one really even is such a thing.
I am proud of the things that I have overcome. I am not ashamed to say how I am feeling or what it is that empowers me to make me feel stronger. The bottom line is though, that we can’t all be strong all the time and that some days will be harder than others.
Nowadays when asked about my health, more often than not, people won’t ask me “how I function” but they instead will ask something that’s almost completely unexpected on my end: “how do you stay so positive”. The truth is, I wasn’t really trying to be. I was almost unaware of the fact that “positive” would be the chosen adjective to describe the way I share myself and my story. So my easiest response to that question would be this:”that’s just who I am”. That it’s the kind of personality I have. I’m an Aries and I deal with things head on and deal with the wreckage and carnage later. That’s how I survive and that’s how I’ve always been.
Still, maybe I’ve been selling myself a little too short. Prednisone comes with a bevy of side affects, those including but not limited to increased appetite (hence the weight gain), insomnia (hence the fact that I’m currently writing this post at 12:50 AM on a Wednesday morning), hot flashes (..you don’t even wanna know why that’s a hence) and also severe and intense mood swings.
For example, Gilmore girls was never really my thing. I’ve seen a few episodes here and there, but the fast-talking jokes sometimes made me feel a little dizzy. Today I watched the new Netflix trailer and needed a box of tissues to remedy my random ass river of sobs.
Lupus is no joke. The medication to remedy its symptoms kind of is.
Anyway, the easiest and best way to get through these hardest of days, nights, and in-between is to remember that in the end, this too WILL pass. I won’t be on steroids forever. I, myself know that I live an active and mindful life and that the weight gain and mood swings are eventually going to dissipate. I’m doing the best that I can on a daily basis to ensure that above all else, my mental health is at an equal or greater state than my physical health is at all times.
It’s only for now. This isn’t forever. Make a fool of your inner demons. Nobody can tear you down but you, and you’re not gonna let that happen. Not today. Not ever. I just thought I’d let you to know that. This is what you have to convince yourself to be true in order to move on, and you will. I know this because it’s been my internal monologue for the past few months. Now, almost a week later and my days have already been so much better than the Wednesday morning, roof raging, version of myself could have ever imagined them to be.
If you can, picture way back in the end of august to my part 1 video, which explained the beginning process of how I was custom fitted for my very first myoelectric prosthetic.. well if you either can’t remember or are too lazy to look, SHAME ON YOU!!
Just kidding, here’s part 1 as a refresher:
About a week after I posted this video I got a call from Michelle at Hanger, who asked me if I was free that Friday. My arm was finally completed and she wanted to come deliver it to me herself.
I hadn’t even come close to finishing part 2 of my videos and I wasn’t expecting to have to make a part 3 for maybe another month after that. So I do apologize for the delay!
So here’s my “part 2 & change”, I’m so excited to finally share this with you all and I can’t wait to show you what I’ve learned when I’m finally able to fully control my device!
For more information about me and my story find me on:
instagram & twitter: @whereswaldman
As a young adult I’ve always loved the end of summer. “Off season” in South Jersey is usually the greatest time of year for us locals. The shoobies are mostly gone and we’re free to enjoy every little thing that our home -a.k.a. the shore- has to offer. I let my happiness for this time of year engulf me everytime it comes around, just like smooth waves rushing in over me.
Yet, in the back of my mind I can somehow remember that this time of year holds more meaning to me that even the joys of off season can’t seem to remedy. And for good reason.
September 11th is the anniversary of the day I experienced a heparin induced thrombocytopenia, but I can’t remember it.
September 18th is the anniversary of my right arm’s amputation. I will never forget it.
Being a Jew, the fall is always a very important time of year for me and my family. Not only because of my “nubiversarry” as I’ve oh-so-lovingly coined the occasion, but because it’s also both Rosh Hashanah and Yom Kippur.
I was in the hospital for both of those holidays, back in 2013. To say that there were many prayers being said in my favor would be a complete and total understatement. I was very heavily medicated at the time, but I was still fully aware of the amount of people out there who were thinking of me and praying for me. That’s something that I will carry with me for the rest of my life because it truly gave me strength when I was weak and I will be eternally grateful for it.
I don’t really remember at which point I realized that I was really in over my head at the time, but the dates ranging from September 6th- October 6th will forever live on with me like a tattoo to the brain. 2 hospitals, 3 ICU’S, 10 surgeries, 30 days. (4, 8, 15, 16, 23, 42) Just like in Lost, these are all numbers that a person could never forget.
BUT here I am, 3 years later and moving on to bigger and better things in life. The secret to it all? 3 years later and it’s still pretty hard, but the answer is in the question (young padawan). In order to move on, you just have to do it. One day at a time. Put one foot in front of the other. Just keep swimming.