I Once Was A Tiny Being

There’s something many of you readers might not know about me: I saw my pediatrician until I was 20.  No, I’m not a freak (well, yeah, I kind of am), but there’s a valid reason for this: I stopped growing at a young age, and if not for modern medicine, I’d still be child-like in stature.  Yep, my body decided to stop producing growth hormone, so I was technically a dwarf.  Okay, that’s not totally true. If I’m going to be honest, my growth hormone deficiency can be referred to as pituitary dwarfism due to the pituitary gland being a lazy asshole, but all I see in that name is “dwarf,” so I’m running with it.  Wouldn’t you?  I think I’ll call myself Quirky.

In any case, in 10th grade at the age of 15, being only 4’10” and well below the average line for height and weight, I began growth hormone injections twice a day.  I was told that I’d be lucky if I reached 5’1”, dashing my hopes of being an airline stewardess.  I didn’t really want to be a flight attendant, but when I was a dwarf, one of the medical professionals, in an attempt to shed some positive light to enduring multiple shots per day, pointed out that certain jobs had height requirements, and her example has always stuck with me.  I didn’t need coercing to start the therapy, but one factor that scared me into wanting to begin immediately was when my pediatrician told me I needed the shots if I wanted have children in the future; which I did.  Gentlemen, you may want to skip the rest of this paragraph.  But hoorah alas, I was fifteen and had yet to start my period.  I cheered and loathed the day it came two years later at age 17.

Even with the late onset of puberty, I still had a ways to go with my injections.  A quick x-ray of my wrist allowed my doctor to see how much further I could grow.  Apparently, our joints show how much room is left for growing because they fuse together once we’ve reached our maximum growth potential, and as long as mine had space and weren’t fusing, I could still grow.  Armed with this knowledge, I placed a $10 bet with my cousin’s future husband (who’s really short, but was taller than me at the time) that I would be taller than him by his graduation day.  Not knowing I was taking shots, he agreed.  I totally won that bet, but didn’t see him after graduation and never got paid…that is, until almost 10 years later when he began dating my cousin and reunited with me with a $10 bill in his hand!

I took my needles and medicine with me to college, where it was a bit harder to hide from others.  Living in the dorms and actually being social, it was common for friends and acquaintances to witness me injecting myself.  Once I was out of high school, I was more comfortable with putting my true self out there for people to accept or not, so people knowing about it wasn’t as big a deal to me anymore.  By my sophomore year of college, I was still growing, and my x-ray showed that I had the potential to continue to do so.  At that time, I was 5’ 4 ¾” and a healthy 120 pounds.  My goal for beginning the therapy was to reach puberty and reach an acceptable height of at least 5’1”, which I had more than surpassed.  By 20 years old, I was taller than most of my friends, but not towering over them.  If anything, I was finally “average.”  My doctor was honest with me and said that my joints showed room for growth, but that it would be safe to stop the injections now, and my joints would fuse together at this height with no problems.  It was my decision, and despite being an indecisive individual, it was an easy one for me.  After four plus years of twice daily shots, I was done.  As expected from a non-functioning pituitary gland, I grew no more, I am currently the same height as the day I stopped the injections, and I have no regrets.  I was born to be this height!  Well, not literally, but in my head, I was born to be of this stature and feel incredibly lucky to be standing where I’m at today.

Me, my cousins and BFFs at ages 13 and 14.  I'm the one on the left in the dorky pink hat: the shortest and oldest of us all.

Me, my cousins and BFFs at ages 13 and 14. I’m the one on the left in the dorky pink hat: the shortest and oldest of us all.

How to Get Rid of a Cold Sore

Yesterday, I shared my lovely experiences of living with a cold sore, and promised to tell you how I beat my latest one.  That’s right, I was able to stop a cold sore from developing any further.  It shrunk its nasty self back into the recesses of my lip to appear another low-immunity-leveled-day. (which will probably be soon ‘cause I have a limited supply of immunes)

I share with you today, Erica’s Cold Sore Battle Method!!!  It worked for me, and hopefully it will work for you, too.  Just follow my three easy steps!

 Erica’s Cold Sore Battle Method

Materials:

Washcloth

Ice

L-Lysine

Abreva

Step 1:

Catch it early!  As soon as you feel the little bugger itching on your lip, or see the bubble beginning to take form, go ahead and pop 2,000 mg of L-Lysine into your mouth (for me, that was 4 pills).  Continue to take these little treasure pills throughout the day (for two days) by taking 500 mg (or more) every hour.  You can take up to 9,000 mg a day safely, though the most I’ve ever taken was 7,000 mg.

This is the brand I bought from Target.

 

Step 2:

Grab a washcloth, fold it in half, wrap an ice cube in it, but leave a bit of the ice peeking out. (don’t be lazy and use an easy-to-reach papertowel, ‘cause the ice will quickly melt right through and drip all over you)  Apply this ice to the cold sore site until the entire ice cube has melted away.  This will usually take 20-30 minutes.  If you’re pressed for time, do it for at least 10 minutes as many times as you can throughout the day.  I applied a full ice cube every hour for the next two days.  (In all honesty, I would miss a few hours here and there, so on average, I used 4 or 5 ice cubes a day, but if you can remember to do it every hour, do it.)

Step 3:

As soon as your lip has been iced, liberally apply Abreva to the site.  If you’re not going out in public, shamelessly whiten that area up and let the medicine do its trick.  If you have to interact with people, it’s cool to just put on a thin layer that will blend in to your lip.  I not only applied Abreva after every icing, but also anytime I started feeling my lip itch, or anytime I “remembered” I had a cold sore.  I don’t think there is such a thing as too much Abreva.

Thank you abreva.com for this picture. I used up all mine and threw out the bottle a few days ago and haven’t restocked (which I usually do as soon as possible because cold sores are sneaky and I want to be prepared) Also, I used this pump style bottle because at the time of purchase, it was all that was available. However, they also sell it in a small tube (like, smaller than your pinky finger, small). I recommend that one. The pump ends up squirting WAY too much lotion out, that you end up wiping off your finger and throwing away. This stuff is too expensive to be throwing away like that. But trust me, the $13 you spend on that miniscule tube of glory is worth every cent!

 

So that’s how I did it!  I understand that certain jobs disallow the opportunity to follow this completely throughout the day (I was a teacher, so trust me, I know).  However, even doing as much of it as you can, really does minimize the symptoms.  Currently being unemployed and confined to my couch all day to heal my ankle, I was able to give my system a full-fledged chance, and it worked like a charm!  Good luck, and feel free to share your own cold sore busting tips in the comments!

Cold Sores 101

I kicked my latest cold sore’s ass, and I couldn’t be more proud!  I don’t think I’ve ever won that battle before!  I’ve learned how to maintain and minimize my cold sores, but never, ever, have I completely obliterated it before it could destroy my mouth!

My very first cold sore aptly appeared when I was a freshman in high school.  I guess my body wanted to make sure I maintained my uncool status, ‘cause I can think of nothing more embarrassing in high school than mouth herpes.  There was no hiding that sucker either!  Overnight, I developed a huge sore that took up the entire left side of my bottom lip.  Being a Plain Jane, it wasn’t like I could hide it behind some dark lipstick either.  I just had to grin and bear it.  Well, more like just bear it.  If I so much as cracked the tiniest smile, I risked blood or pus pouring down my chin.  Sorry, you can go vomit now; I’ll wait.

Anyway, back then, all I could do was put globs of Campho-Phenique on it, and cross my fingers that it’d be gone in the morning.  Of course, cold sores take their sweet ass time to clear, so I would usually have to deal with its ever-changing stages for at least two weeks.  For those of you who’ve never had a cold sore, it usually starts with an itch or burning sensation on your lip, which then transforms into a bubble of liquid.  You could let that bubble pop on its own over time, but no one ever does that.  It’s gonna pop the second your sandwich bread rubs its sandpapery surface across it, so might as well avoid that disgusting mess and take care of it yourself at home.  At this stage, it’s really not too bad.  I mean, you might have this nasty loose piece of skin resting on your lip, but if you apply chapstick regularly, it’s hardly noticeable.  That is, until the next morning.  By then, blood has come to the surface and a beautiful, purplish black scab has manifested itself on your lip.  For me, the scabbing was the worst!

As soon as I started talking, I could feel the scab ripping and tearing, and with a quick lick of my tongue, I would verify that blood was oozing out of it.  It’s not like I could wear a bandaid on my lip, so as soon as it bled, I’d pop my lip in my mouth and keep sucking on it until the bleeding stopped.  Many times, this resulted in the scab being sucked off and digested.

Anyway, once you let the scab heal and fall off on its own, it’s over.  Unfortunately for me, since I kept eating my scabs, a big, circular, cratered, scar appeared on my bottom lip.  (That scar is the reason why, to this day, I still gnaw on my bottom lip. Oh! And I gnawed on it so much in high school that I can’t even get cold sores on that spot anymore, so I consider it a win.)

I still get cold sores every now and again (nowadays on the left side of my upper lip).  As I mentioned, I’m usually pretty good at keeping them small and somewhat unnoticeable, but this time, I beat my cold sore, and I wanted to share how I did it in case any of you suffer from this.  However, this post is reaching my blog entry length limit, so I’ll have to share my cold sore busting secrets with you tomorrow!  Bwahahaha!  Stay tuned!

**UPDATED**  To read on how I beat my cold sore, click on the following link: How to Get Rid of a Cold Sore

Forever 21

When people I’m meeting for the first time learn that I am 31, they are usually shocked or comment on how young I look.  Mostly, they assume that I’m in my mid to late 20’s, which is quite flattering.  However, I was recently at my younger cousin’s bachelorette party, surrounded by girls in their early 20’s, and one of them thought I was nineteen.  My old ass was mistaken for a teenager!  I could have taken that as an awesome compliment to my apparent slow aging, but instead, it made me entirely self-conscious.  Why would a 24-year-old believe me to be five years younger than her?  Were my jean shorts and tank top too skanky for my age?  Does my quiet, reserved personality reflect that of a child?  I have not been able to stop thinking about this, and since then, if anyone comments on how young I look, I immediately become embarrassed.

My friend, Kate, had a similar experience recently.  While working in her daughter’s kindergarten classroom, a student told her that she looked more like a sister than a mom.  She jokingly pondered whether or not she should update her “mom” wardrobe.  This sparked a conversation between us, where she enlightened me to the fact that some women cut their hair short for the sole purpose of becoming a mom.  That just boggles my mind!  The “mom haircut” is no secret, but I had always assumed it was a style that trended amongst the women of our parents’ generation as they aged.  I never thought of it as a purposeful style trend today.  Sometimes I like my naturally wavy hair long and flowing, and sometimes I like it in an above-the-shoulder bob that I blow dry straight, but I’ve never decided my hair’s length or style due to any outside factors.  I’ve always gone with what makes me feel cute and confident at the time.

Ever since I was told that I looked nineteen, I have begun to evaluate my attire.  As I’ve mentioned, I like my clothes to be comfortable and sensible.  This means that my go-to outfit is jean shorts and a cotton tank top during the summer and jeans with a sweater/long sleeved cotton shirt during the winter.  While I admit, my shorts’ hemlines are pretty high and close to the crotch area, I can assure you that my butt is entirely covered, and I don’t believe anyone is thinking that they are inappropriately short.  (or maybe they are, and I’m kidding myself like those 40-year-old “Forever 21’s” you see at the bar)  The length and tight fit of my shorts does give me reason to pause sometimes.  I am 31 years old, you know.  Is it time to transition to shorts that run halfway down my thigh and hang loosely off my hips?

Basically, here’s what I really want to know: Is there an age appropriate look I should be going for, and if so, when is it time to update my clothing?  Or is there really a time that one has to change their look?  I don’t want to be one of those older women dressing like they’re 19, but I also don’t want to lose the sense of being me.  It’s probably not necessary to start integrating blazers into my attire just yet, but all those, “You look so young!” comments are really getting to me.  If you have any thoughts or feelings regarding this topic, please feel free to share them!

 

Shedding Pounds Like a "Woman"

As I’ve mentioned before, I’ve been dealing with a torn ankle tendon since last October.  So for almost an entire year, I’ve been unable to run at the intensity I want to, even going months in a row without running at all.  My ankle is still in pain, and since I had to pay out of pocket for the doctor visits, MRI, and surgery, I don’t want to run through the discomfort in fear that I might do irreparable damage.

In any case, this year of inactivity has caused me to gain an unwanted 12 pounds.  Suffice it to say, I’ve been feeling like a fatty, and would tremendously like to drop that unwanted weight.  For the past two weeks, I’ve been eating healthy, and been losing weight slowly, but being an athlete, I know that working out is what will really help me drop the weight and keep it off.  Since any impact with my foot is out of the question, I’ve had to ride my unhappy ass on the stationary bike I have at home.  (The only plus to that being that I get to watch an entire episode of Dr. Who while I’m doing it.)  However, being a runner who’s accustomed to enjoying the great outdoors, and being currently unemployed and stuck inside all day, the stationary bike is horrendously boring to me.  I needed something to spice up my workouts, and despite my mild efforts, Pilates on YouTube wasn’t cutting it.

Enter Jess: my running buddy’s daughter who just returned home after finishing grad school.  She’d heard of my ankle problems and that I needed some motivation to work out, so she invited me to go with her to check out the FitClub class on the sands of Redondo Beach.  The free class basically entails 30 minutes of yoga-like stretching (or dodgeball for the non-gimps) and 30 minutes of rotating stations for strength, cardio, and agility.

On the morning of the first class, I rolled out of bed around 6:45, wiped the sleep out of my eyes, got dressed, and threw my hair up in a messy ponytail.  I knew I looked like shit, but I was about to get sandy and sweaty at the beach, and figured everyone else would look as mangled as I did.  Nope.  Many of the girls present had, at minimum, their eye make-up on.  One girl straight up had her thick cat-eye eyeliner going on with some pink lipstick to finish her look.  Basically, I felt like an ogre compared to everyone else there.

THEN, as we were gathering and more and more people arrived, I realized that every single person around me was incredibly fit already.  I was literally the fattest person there, and even though it wouldn’t hurt for me to shed 15 pounds, I am in no way overweight! (Well, my fat percentage could be lower, but it’s still in the “average” range!)  I started to panic a little, thinking that I was about to make a major fool of myself, but then at the last minute, 20 more people arrived, and among them were a couple regular looking peeps like myself.  I was instantly relieved.

The circuits were actually really fun, and I was a bit bummed that my ankle prevented me from participating in the cardio or agility stations (believe you, me: I tried…the Mexican/German mutt that I am is chock full of stubborn!)  I was also happy to see others sitting out at times or taking breaks at their stations; even some of the really fit ones!  It made me feel better about not being able to do a single crab walk step at my very last station.  The workout ended with a protein shake party at their nearby gym.  Okay, so it wasn’t so much a party as it was a bunch of fit people with dried sweat enjoying some recovery shakes to some music bumping out of big speakers, but it was still cool.

They offer these free classes every Thursday and Sunday morning, and I’m definitely looking forward to going again!

But next time, I’ll put on some make-up.

Or in my case: "Don't Be a Manly Girl."

Dress to Impress (Myself)


I bought myself a girly shirt the other day.  Really, it’s just a glorified tank top with tiny flowing pleats and a sash to tie a bow with.  I’m still not sure whether the bow is supposed to be tied in the front or the back.  Which brings me to my point: a girly purchase is a break-through for me.
I like my clothes to be casual, comfortable, and sensible.  This new shirt is maybe one of the three, so I felt a little guilty buying it.  Plus, I feel like I need to be invited to a fancy barbeque or a semi-casual girls night out to wear it.  I mean, don’t get me wrong.  It’s cute, and many other girls or women my age would wear it on a weekly excursion to Target (weekly? Who am I kidding? I visit Target, at minimum, twice a week).  Anyway, I could wear it today with some jean shorts and sandals, but I’d feel dressy.  Strangers would think I looked normal, but I’d know I wasn’t.  I’d know that I was way too dressed up.  As much as I’ve wanted to buy more girly clothes lately, the greater part of me knows they aren’t practical, and they’re not me.  Yeah, I might look cute in them, but at what expense?  To losing the sense of me-ness? 
I think my mom will literally kill me if I don’t give her a girly granddaughter one day.  I always hated those foo-foo dresses my mom would force upon me.  The lace all over the dresses itched like crazy!  I’m told that I would stick my finger under my collar, tug it away from my neck and say in slow, staccato words, “Take. It. Off.”  The only joy I found in dressing up was wearing my shiny black buckle shoes with the quarter inch chunky heel.  They were not at all comfortable, as they pretty much tore into my anklebone, rubbing my skin raw through my tights.  However, if I walked on the backs of my heels across the kitchen floor, they would leave the most satisfying black “half-moon” marks all over the ground!  Sometimes I would purposely slip, so that I could see the line of black tear across the floor.  I found use for my impractical shoes.
So I guess that’s what I’m going to have to do in my adult life.  Find use for my cute purchases.  Ideas?
           

Beauty is in the Eye of the Beholder

…and society’s “beholders” can be pretty tough.
My eighteen-year-old cousin got Botox in her forehead.  EIGHTEEN!!!  The two, small, horizontal lines that she was looking to erase were hardly visible, yet, someone made it a point to let her know that they could see those lines and that they were unflattering.  This sickens and saddens me. 
First off, my cousin is smart and naturally gorgeous: the whole package.  I never even noticed the faint lines on her forehead; quite unlike the six, very noticeable, lines that have ran across mine since I was a child.  And secondly, how dare someone cut into her self-esteem by suggesting that her worth is in her appearance!  I am in no way upset at my cousin, but I do hold harsh feelings toward the unknown person(s) who made my little cousin feel self-conscious and subpar due to natural skin creasing! 
Society’s air brushed advertisements have already made our ideal looks unattainable.  We don’t need people we know to point out, what they see, as flaws.  My ex-boyfriend used to tell me that I needed to start wearing makeup more often, and that my jeans and t-shirt look should be varied with more skirts and blouses—and no, my hippie skirts did not count.  It begrudges me to admit it, but to this day, I do not feel pretty walking out the door without at least a little mascara on my lashes due to those past conversations.  Please do not think that I am digging for compliments, because I’m not.  I have enough confidence to know that I am, indeed, a beautiful person.  In fact, I snagged my current, handsome boyfriend wearing loose jeans, a t-shirt, and my usual “barely there” eye makeup, so I can’t be that bad.
I don’t know too many people who can truly say that they are one hundred percent satisfied with their appearance, and I don’t think that they need to be.  There is nothing wrong with striving for a healthy lifestyle or wanting to try new looks with makeup and hair.  All I’m saying is that society needs to back off of people’s natural looks.  Yeah, I’m starting to tug at the crow’s feet by my eyes, but I don’t need anyone else pointing them out for me!  I understand that my body is going to change, and I can’t say that I won’t try “age defying” creams as I get older, but at least I can be at peace knowing that my friends and family will always love me no matter how I look, because inside, I am a friendly and caring person. 
Words hurt.  Keep unkind thoughts and opinions to yourself.  Learn to love yourself more and more.

New year.  New thoughts.  New challenges.  You up for it?