A Smurfy Addiction

I’ve always been drawn to anything miniature.  My favorite toys as a child consisted of tiny animals with small accessories.  I even swiped my brothers’ Micro Machine cars that had baby cars tucked inside.  So it comes as no surprise that I completely immersed myself into the Smurf world.  I wanted the Smurfs to exist in the worst way, and would slowly creep up on the mushrooms growing in my backyard hoping to catch a glimpse of them.

When I got an iPhone last year and saw that there was a Smurfs game, I downloaded it immediately.  It’s basically FarmVille with Smurfs.  I played it for months, and even learned how to mess with my phone’s clock settings to cheat and get ahead in the game.  Eventually, I grew bored of the game, and forgot about it.  That is, until a few weeks ago.

My mom discovered she was only using her iPad as an eReader and Pandora streamer, so she decided she might as well get a Kindle Fire and pass the iPad on to someone who might actually use it in its entirety.  That person was me.  While I do use the iPad for a variety of purposes, currently, 90% of its usage is spent on Smurfs.  I’ve been delightfully enjoying the larger images of my little Smurf Village.  That poor, expensive iPad went from a glorified Kindle to a hand-held Smurf game.

At night, I’ll sit for hours cheating my clock settings to collect the Smurfberries that allow me to “buy” the nice things in the game.  I feel so accomplished at the end of it, and that’s horrible!  While I do know this Smurfy addiction of mine needs to be reined in, it’s difficult, because I can’t get over how cute my little Smurfs are, and I just want to keep checking in on them!  I decided to take a few screen shots over the last week so that when I feel like playing, I can instead, flip through my pictures and get the “cute fix” that the playing of Smurfs gives me.  That way, I’ll have my iPad open for better uses.  Like spending hours on Feedly reading all of my favorite blogs.

I mean, look how cute they are riding their pet guinea pig!

I mean, look how cute they are riding their pet guinea pig!

I created my dream Smurf home in all its purple glory.

I created my dream Smurf home in all its purple glory.

 

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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.

An open letter to the girl who stood on the toilet of the stall next to me in order to peek over and talk

I was but a mere eight years old.  You couldn’t have been much older.  It was a rare moment in which I needed to use the restroom during the middle of class.  I walked quickly and quietly to the bathrooms by the playground, taking note of the satisfying clomping sounds my saddle shoes were making against the pavement.  My restroom pass was clutched tightly in my hands.  It felt forbidden being out on school grounds when no one else was around.  I entered the empty bathroom; the clinking of my wooden pass being set on the ceramic sink seemed to echo off the walls.  Once in my stall, I lifted the edges of my lightweight, red, cotton dress so that none of the precious material would touch the surface of the toilet as I took care of my business.  That’s when I heard you enter the stall next to me.  Instead of the usual sounds of another girl adjusting her clothes in preparation to sit, I heard the toilet seat moving and groaning under the weight of your feet.  I froze in horror.  “Please.  Please don’t let a girl be looking down on me.” I slowly shifted my eyes up and to the left.  There you were.  Bright white teeth smiling down on me, one arm tucked over the stall barrier to keep you steady.  I quickly unclenched my hands from my dress, pulling the red material into a dome of coverage around my bottom and knees.  You began to make small talk with me, as if having a conversation while looking down on someone peeing was an everyday occurrence.  Being the kind and passive person I was, I answered whatever questions you threw at me, all the while patiently waiting for you to step off your toilet so I could wipe and be far, far away from you.  I don’t remember how long you stood there, but you finally did step down from your toilet.  As you did, I bolted from my stall, deciding to forgo washing my hands, as the sandy textured pink soap would take far too long to rinse off, and I wasn’t willing to have an encounter with you again.  All the way into my high school years, I could not use a public restroom comfortably, and would avoid school restrooms as much as humanely possible.  On the rare occasions I would use a public restroom, I found myself constantly scanning the stall barriers above me while completing my business as quickly as I could.  Fortunately, college dorm living forced me to overcome my fear.  It was replaced with a sense of camaraderie, as I grew to learn that conversations in restrooms were common and acceptable behind the closed doors of stalls.  I sincerely hope that I was your only victim, but if not, I hope the others have found a way to move on.  You never knew how much you scarred me, but I forgive you.

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

Running Over Robert

I’ve kept a secret from my parents for 10 years:  I ran over my brother with the family car.  But don’t worry, Mommy, he survived.

One summer, when I was home from college, I was out running errands with my two younger brothers Robert and Kevin.  Being the eldest child, I took over the driver’s seat for the entire summer.  As with most days, we were going to be hanging out with Kevin’s best friend Danny, but he needed to be picked up.  Robert requested that he be dropped off at home first, so that he could do whatever it was he needed to do before we all went out for the night.

Robert was sitting in the back seat behind me, and as we turned down our street, one of us came up with the brilliant idea of me bringing the car to a slow roll, and Robert jumping out of the moving vehicle a la Indiana Jones style.  I think, in our heads, we all imagined this perfect tuck and roll while Kevin and I continued driving off.  Of course, we were all on board with this plan, so as I approached the house, I brought our little maroon ’88 Toyota Corolla to a snail paced roll.  As Robert opened the car door and watched the ground moving beneath him, he must have had second thoughts, ‘cause as he exited the vehicle and Kevin and I began to laugh and cheer, I suddenly realized that he was still holding on to the door.  I gently pressed the brakes a little more firmly and urged him to let go!  He quickly released his grip from the car, took a few running steps up and onto the curb, and Kevin and I gleefully cheered as we prepared to drive away.  Success!

Except, instead of going into the house, Robert seemed to be walking around, disoriented, and then he took a seat onto our front lawn, legs sprawled out in front of him.  I think he smiled and gave us some sign of reassurance, like a victorious fist pump, but the dude was sitting on the grass, and I knew something wasn’t right, so I quickly pulled into our driveway.  As I parked, Robert went from sitting, to laying out spread eagle on the lawn.  Kevin and I jumped out of the car, and hovered over our brother, whose eyes were rolling into the back of his head while his eyelids fluttered.  I don’t know that I’ve ever been so scared in my life!  We kept calling his name and gently poking him until he became conscious.  When he came to (which was probably less than 30 seconds, but felt like 30 minutes) he informed us that his foot had been run over.  We were shocked to discover this as we felt no bump in the car, but sure enough, there were asphalt and tire tracks on his shoe.

Together, Kevin and I helped him hobble into the house where we laid him on the family room couch.  We got him some ibuprofen and an ice pack, and then debated what to do next.  His toes had just been crushed by the Toyota’s rear tire, and we had just witnessed him pass out in our front yard, so needless to say, I was freaked, and wanted nothing more than to take him to the doctor, but Robert kept reassuring us that he was fine.  Stubbornness is a strong trait among us Schatz kids, and Robert held strong, convincing us that he was okay.  When I saw that he could wiggle his toes and no bruising or swelling had occurred, I reluctantly backed off.  Robert insisted that it was just the shock of being run over that knocked him out, and that we should leave him to go pick up Danny.

I was worried to leave him alone, fearful that he’d pass out again with no one home to wake him back up.  Kevin and I were seriously terrified that we’d come back home to a dead brother!  Or, an equally worse scenario (to my adolescent mind):  I knew that our mom would be home from work soon, and I worried that she’d come home to find Robert passed out on the couch, and then I’d be in deep donkey doo-doo.

So Kevin and I stayed home long enough with Robert to feel confident that he’d remain conscious and be up and walking within a few minutes.  We unanimously agreed that this little adventure of ours must be kept secret no matter what.  Well, as long as Robert remained healthy.  If his toes started swelling or he passed out again, then we’d fess up, but why risk getting yelled at and getting our car privileges taken away if Robert was A-Okay?

And he was.  A-Okay, I mean.  Kevin and I got Danny and we continued on with our night as if nothing ever happened.  None of us ever tried jumping out of the car again, and we never told our parents…until now.

I hope I don’t get grounded.