Sunday, March 12, 2017

Anna with Piriformis Syndrome

Well y'all, I finally (FINALLY) figured out what the heck is wrong with me. After a year and a half of throwing money to the wind for my leg, I have realized that even though I do have a degenerative condition in my spine (that, fun fact, might be genetic) the main source of my discordant comes from having Piriformis Syndrome.

According to the Mayo Clinic, Piriformis Syndrome is a disorder in which the piriformis muscle in the buttock irritates the sciatic nerve.  Symptoms include pain, tingling, or numbness in the buttock and down the leg and may worsen after sitting for a long time, climbing stairs, walking or running.

So you know, basically everything except sleeping.


Levent always smirks at me whenever I tell him my latest health related theory. I don't blame him. It's possible I am quickly becoming a hypochondriac. I've had all these different ideas (from medical professionals) of what is wrong with me. I thought it was just over exercise. I thought it was arthritis, I thought it was bone spurs. I thought maybe it was something really serious (so I did a blood test). And sure, I do have all of these things (minus something serious). But nothing was helping, not even spinal epidurals.

Two weeks ago, my colleague, Tina, sent me this link about Piriformis Syndrome and it was like a light went on in my head. This is finally it. It makes sense that all the spine things I've done have not made any difference. It makes sense that I was over exercising (a year and half ago) and didn't know how to stretch the piriformis properly. It makes sense that things like swimming and yoga, which are great for your spine and joints still can "flare up" my pain (due to the forward motion in swimming and twisting in yoga).

So what now? Well, I am a bit of a mess because I've been dealing with this so long. Here's kind of what it's like: Okay, hold your hands out in front of you, spreading your fingers wide. Okay now clench your left hand into a fist. This is pretty much what has happened with my muscles. Yeah, I'm a mess.

My latest attempt for pain management is going to to a sports chiropractor. The good news is that 1. this doctor is not a creep. (Sadly I went to too many patronizing chiropractors who were so creepy) and 2. he uses physical therapy concepts without the physical therapy price tag. So not only does he do spine adjustments, he also does dry needling, tapes my back and gives me exercises to do at home (all 3 of those things at PT things).  He also activity keeps a chart for me and actually looks at it. (I know, what a concept. He is my 5th chiropractor and he is the only one who has done this. Seriously, it's the wild west out here). The bad news is that his office is located in McPherson, which is about a 25 minute drive from my house and over 30 from work. Again, the wild west; for medical care you have to choose between nearby sexism or far away quality care.

So here's to far away quality care.

I am trying to keep a sane level of optimism and not to completely freak about money. (It is cheaper than physical therapy, but it's not cheap by any means). I am so tired of spending all my disposable income, and then some, on pain management. It's so frustrating. But I really hope this works because if it doesn't, I have no idea what I'll do, minus lying in bed at night fantasizing about taking a scissors to my piriformis muscle.

Anyway, I have no idea how to end this post because pain continues. But I guess, here's to hoping that eventually I'll get it more manageable.

Sunday, February 19, 2017

Winter in Kansas

You know I have a tricky relationship with the State of Kansas. This is why I like to occasionally go back through my photos and remember things here that made me happy enough to instagram them. 
For example, my coworker bought this sunflower cookie for me a couple days before "Kansas Day" (which I still don't think is really a thing... even though it totally is). 

For the past couple weeks, I've really been struggling with some leg pain again. On bad days, it can really depress me since I feel as if this is now my fate in life, to be uncomfortable all the time. But there are other days too when I have a healthier perspective and don't feel pathetically sorry for myself. I have been really grateful for the YMCA and for my Pilates and yoga classes I can go to a couple times a week. I was initially not interested in Pilates at all, but as it turned out, it is currently my favorite form of exercise and really helps my leg a lot. I just wish I could go to more often. (There is only 1 evening Pilates class so far. The rest at at 9:30am. So just add that to the list of things retirees and I have in common).  
Baking continues to bring me a lot of joy. I haven't been making cake (although I really want to) mostly due to the fact that I will then eat a ton of cake. But also because the cakes I want to make have a TON of butter in them, which is expensive. So I've been settling for cookies and muffins and other similar baked goods. For now anyway.
I would be amiss not to mention the best thing about winter in Kansas: going to a KU game! This has become a "Christmas tradition" for Levent and me. Instead of getting each other Christmas presents, we just get tickets to a KU game. It is always the best choice and the best of times. I love our Lawrence dates. This time we went to The Burger Stand (which had great fries and all different types of sauces to dip them into) then went to the game v. Baylor. It was a close one, but, of course, the Jayhawks pulled off another W. It's also the one time a year that my introverted self and my introverted boyfriend yell our heads off. So fun. 

Despite not feeling very creative in February, I've busted out my sketchbook a couple of times. Last Sunday I drew a pineapple in church. My friend, Amy, loved it so much that she took it home and framed it because she is silly like that and a good friend. 
 Don't worry. I am well on my way to being a full-blown crazy cat lady. I know have a cat shirt, a cat mug, and, of course, a diva cat. Clearly, I am losing control.

Finally, spring is right around the corner. Don't get me wrong, I am very worried about global climate change (so much so that I had a terrible dream about it the other night). On the bright side, it is nice to be able to on walks outside in the sunshine. (Pun points!) I just really hope that spring takes it time. I cannot handle us jumping into a hot summer in April. Please, God, no. 
Pretty soon I'll be planting my garden and loving it too much. I think I am ready for it, but there is still a very important part of me that is like, nope, it's still February thus my need to hibernate on my couch is totally legit. See you later.

Haiti is Resilient

I had the opportunity to write one last blog post for the MCC Haiti blog. Just in case you didn't see the link on Facebook,  I'll leave it right here.

Haiti is Resilient

Travel Journal: PA & VA

Well I definitely am not going to win any awards for blogging in 2017. I've barely done anything. Really, I shouldn't be too surprised. This is the time of the year when creativity is low on the ground. I would blame the weather but it's basically spring already (hello global climate change). So that's not really a valid excuse anymore.

But I am here now, even though it's February, and I am back at The Perk for my semi-monthly write and coffee sess. This feels nice. They even remembered to put my coffee in a mug; so double that niceness.

Okay so I was home this past week, but the week before then I was in Pennsylvania for some work meetings and then Virginia for some family time.


Yes, I know the following photos do not look like I was in meetings at all in PA. (But for real, what could I possibly take photos of then? Also, why?) The nice thing about being in Akron is that Tina and I got to see our friend, Diana. Since she is going to be moving to BC in a couple months, this was especially nice. But apparently I was too busy taking photos of food to take pictures of my friends. oops. (Also fun story: We randomly ran into my friend Cody, who also lives in Lancaster, 2 different times).


My sister and her family now live in Harrisonburg, which is only like 3 1/2 hours from where I have to go to PA. Even though I miss them living in Raleigh, I do appreciate the fact that after my annual work meetings I can make this "annual" trip down to VA too. I happened to be there the same weekend as my mom's birthday. So, of course, we made her come up from Asheville to hang out with us. We drank coffee, got pedicures, ate great food (Harrisonburg has a surprisingly great food scene) and watch movies. We also met this beautiful dog who must've been part lion. And of course, I got to hang out with this great kid who is all about that pancake lifestyle (notice his shirt in the following picture). (I also ran into my friend from Radical Journey days, Rose at the MCC Thrift Shop there).

Due to mechanical troubles, I got to spend a little bit of extra bonus time with the Bakers. That was nice too. Living so far away from my family often depresses me. The whole weekend was relaxing, fun and much needed.

Hey thanks for making it to the end of this blog post. I felt the need to say thanks since is clearly not the strongest example of my writing ability. I don't even want to know how many times I used the word "nice".  So way to hang in there. 

Sunday, January 22, 2017

The new year post

It's already Jan 22 and I haven't even mentioned the old year passing away and starting a brand new one. Here are my excuses: This time of year is always a little nuts. I travel for Christmas vacation then I travel for work. Then if you add the current Trump regime (yes I mean that), it's amazing I even want to talk about 2017 at all.

But after yesterday, I feel a little bit jazzed and I feel like writing.

Yesterday was the women's march on Washington. I actually had the opportunity to go with my friends to the gathering in Wichita, but because I am a lazy butt who cannot get out of bed. I did not go. But my heart was definitely there. I spent a good chunk of my day following the events all over the world via twitter, Instagram and Facebook. How can I not feel hopeful? I love all these fierce female warriors and their allies.  It was so beautiful. I almost cried.

I borrowed this from my friend's, Amy Sharp, instagram 

And since I am a total nerd, here is a Harry Potter quote (well Hagrid actually. "What's coming will come, and we'll meet it when it does."

Okay 2017, let's do this.

But first, 2016, let me just talk to you for a second.

Usually, this time of year I remember that I actually made goals for this past year. Oops. I seem to post them on this blog and then walk away for 365 days.  Well that's not completely true. I did actually keep these past goals in front of me. For 2016, my goals were

1. My hip will get better and I can get back into my exercise routine.

2. Increase my intake of veggies and fruit.

3. Make more things from my pinterest boards

4. Work to become a mentally healthy person.

5. Make room for creativity.

I think on some level I achieved parts of each one of these goals. And actually my goals for 2017 remain the same (with the addition of one. More on that in just a bit).

Here's the summary

1. My hip/leg: Oh geesh. I spent to so much money on trying to achieve some sort of pain relief. I think I've come to terms that this wish won't really ever be my reality. However, I do feel as if I am learning to manage my leg pain more. I stopped going to the chiropractor,  which ironically helped a lot. I went to the neurosurgeon and he told me to just build up my core muscles. (Cool. He also said it was too hard to tell what exactly was wrong with me). I am back into an exercise routine, although it is not the one I had wished for when I wrote that post back in the early part of 2016. I left the Hesston Wellness Center, a place I had been for 5 years, (which was actually more sad than I thought it was going to be) and joined the brand new YMCA in Newton. I now swim, go to yoga, the occasional barre class and, my new favorite, Pilates. I love being able to go back to classes, especially classes like Pilates that will help me build up my back and core muscles and then, hopefully, will help me manage my pain. I am still trying to get into this new routine, but it feels hopeful.
2. Eat Veggies and Fruit. Always the struggle. Always the goal. I've started eating more roasted broccoli though. So that's something.

3. Make recipes from my pinterest boards: Yes. I've done this. But, probably more importantly,  I've found a way to not let my pinterest boards spike my OCD.  That was the real problem.

4. Work on my mental health. Again, always the struggle. Always the goal. But I did do a couple of pretty helpful things in this year. (Although I have kind of fallen off the wagon right now). I have an anxiety journal. I started using the Headspace app to do some meditation exercises. I read one non-fiction book. (And as a fiction junkie, this feels like a major accomplishment. I want to continue to do all these things, which is always easier to say than actually make time for. But it's worth it.

5. Find space for creativity. This is something I always want to work on. I don't write (minus this blog). But I do paint. And actually I've started going to the Perk (Hesston's coffee shop) a couple times of month to write (mostly blog). But I love this carved out time. I hope I can keep this habit up and then eventually turn my attention to fiction.

I will hold these goals in front of me again this year. However, I will also add one more

So for work, we are doing this thing called "IDI" which I have no idea what it stands for. But ultimately it's a culture competency tool. Organizations use it to help their companies move towards being actually diverse and, well, culturally competent. We took this test and then each of us had a debriefing time with a qualified IDI advisor. Now, part of what we're suppose to do is work individually on our own culture competency. There were lots of ways that were suggested to help individuals accomplish this. What pulled me in naturally was the liberal arts. (Shocking, I know). So things like reading books, watching documentaries, going to cultural arts events, journaling etc. This year, I want to make something like a "syllabus" that will help me with this.  I haven't done this yet, but once I do, I am hoping to talk about it more on this blog.

To sum it up, my 2017 goal is to work on my cultural competency. I don't think I've ever made a goal that has felt so important.

And one of the things that is an easy fit for me with this goal is to read books that aren't written by white people. This is such an easy first step.

Okay 2017. Please don't suck.

Sunday, January 15, 2017

South Padre Island

Every January, we have our annual staff meeting for work. I typically refuse to call this a "retreat" since my idea of what a retreat and the idea that employers and churches have are never the same thing. However, this past week, the two definitions got pretty dang close.

Last year, we had these annual meetings in Newton. This year, thanks to our new colleague who lives in Brownsville and has all kinds of connections, we were able to get an awesome deal at The Pearl, a hotel on South Padre Island in super south Texas. It was amazing to wake up and see the ocean every day. It was lovely. We even got a little bit of time to relax, in between meetings about visioning and budgeting.

It's not always easy, but I am very lucky to be able to have the job I have, work with the people I work with and travel the places I get to travel, (especially when that place is not in Western Kansas).

Saturday, January 7, 2017

Yoder Family Christmas

My Mom texted me a photo of my Dad standing on their back deck in the 7 inches of snow that they got today. But when I was in North Carolina a little over a week ago for Christmas, it was perfectly mild. (Not as crazy as last year when we had the front door open Christmas morning, my dad wore shorts and my sister and I sat on the porch multiple times).

I actually prefer a mild, North Carolina Christmas (since a different previous year it did snow on Christmas Eve and it was magical but we were for sure snowed in for several days because Asheville has like 1 snow plow for the whole city).

It wasn't too hot and it wasn't too cold. It was just right.

As I said in my previous post, I had a really great time over my holiday break. So much so that I am still wishing it was still going on. (20 degree weather in Kansas has not been that great). I'll "get over" getting back into the routine of ordinary life again, but at least I have these photos to look fondly on.

Here are some highlights from my Yoder Family Christmas.

1. Levent and I traveled there together. (Last year, I was in North Carolina without him and the worst time getting to and from there. For real. My flight got cancelled and my Dad had to drive 3 hours to pick me up in Atlanta). This year, we rented a car and drove down from Columbus to Asheville together. While long road trips are never really my favorite, I don't seem to mind them when I am with Levent. We listed to a lot of This American Life podcasts, I drank lots of coffee and we stopped at McDonalds, (which is a place I secretly love but try to avoid).

2. Party potatoes! This is a potato dish my mom makes that is super unhealthy but oh, so delicious and is in my mom's recipe canon. I've been craving them for months and I finally got to sit at my parents' table and eat them. Yum.

3. Reading to Malakai and hearing all the funny things 4 year olds say. What a guy. He is growing up so fast.

4. Drinking lots of coffee with my sister.

5. Going to Early Girl Eatery for Brunch, which is one of my favorite places in Asheville

6. Going to Virtue, a cute boutique in downtown Asheville (and spending way too much money).

7. The morning hike at DuPont State Forest

8. Puzzling

9. The late night French Broad Chocolates run with Leah and Levent

10. Eating at 12 bones before leaving town.

Okay yeah, most of these things are about eating. I don't even care. That's one of my favorite things to do in this little city I love so much. And like usual, my time there went by too quickly.

When can I go back?
My parents are taking a selfie :-)