Friday, July 13, 2018

A Very YOLO Trip: Baltimore

Like I mentioned last week, I took an amazing road trip with my friend Lisa back in April. This was such a last-minute-we-are-crazy-to-do-this-thrown-together trip. Have you ever had a crazy idea for a trip? Well, I did. I was texting with my friend Lisa one day and told her about my insane idea for a baseball road trip. I was trying to mark stuff off of my 40 By 40 list (which is a now a 40 THROUGH 40 list since I didn't quit finish it. Hey, it's my list, I can change the rules. I have until May 23 of next year to complete everything). :) BUT, this trip did allow me to mark off a few items before I turned 40. Anyway, when I told her my idea I expected her to just laugh at me. She didn't (well, she probably did), but then she said, "hey, I would totally go with you if you did this trip." I responded, "ARE YOU SERIOUS?" She was serious, and so, this is how my friend Lisa and I went on this AMAZING You Only Live Once road trip.

The whole seven day trip is too much to put in one post, so I'm gonna divide it up. I am going to try and post MORE than once a week. I have a trip coming up in two weeks and another one in August, so you will be seeing a lot of travel posts over the next few months.

Our trip started on April 26. We left Dallas super early (like 5am) and flew to Baltimore.

So, we booked tickets on Southwest, and our flight was the same week as that incident where the window broke during the flight and that passenger got sucked out. I was terrified to sit by the window so Lisa braved it.
When we landed in Baltimore, we had so much to do in so little time. Originally we were going to drive to Delaware (just to say we had been to Delaware), but we changed our plans and decided not to go (which worked out for the best in the long run).

After picking up our awesome rental car (shout out to Dollar Rental Car- they were awesome and super inexpensive), we headed to the Babe Ruth Museum (which is a short walk from Camden Yards). Lisa had been there before before but didn't mind going back.

The museum is located in the home where George Herman Ruth was born in 1895 (they have added on some to it since it was a very small house). It's a small but very nice museum (you would think a museum about Babe Ruth would be bigger, I mean, HELLO it's Babe Ruth). I recommend checking it out if you are in Baltimore. It's maybe two blocks from Camden Yards

After our visit to the museum, we made our way to Camden Yards for a tour of the ballpark. There were baseball painted on the ground between Camden and the Babe Ruth house advertising the museum. Camden Yards had been on my baseball bucket list for a long time. I was never a huge Orioles fan, but I grew up in the era of Cal Ripken, Jr. and I was a big fan of his (how could you not like him?) I was watching the game the night he broke Lou Gehrig's consecutive game streak (I actually skipped youth group so I could go home and watch the game on TV). I regret nothing. Lol.

Our tour guide was named Ed and he was awesome. We had a small tour group, I think there were six of us. I love hearing the history of other teams, especially teams who have an older history. Since it was a game day, we couldn't go into the locker rooms, but we were allowed in the press box, the media room, on the field, and in the dugout.

We passed by the umpires locker room and the door was open. Ed said the door was rarely open during tours, so we got to see the inside of it (we couldn't actually go in it, but we took photos from the door). It was nothing all that exciting, but still kinda cool.

Inside the umpires locker room
During the tour we made small talk with the other members of the group. When we told them we were on a baseball road trip, they seemed impressed.. We made friends with one nice man named Tim, and he followed us on Twitter so he could keep up with our adventure! We seem to make new Twitter friends when we travel to ballparks (we made a new Twitter friend last year when we went to Minneapolis).

After the tour, we decided to get something to eat and relax for a bit before the game that night (we did this instead of driving the two hour round trip to Delaware). We both had been up since about 2:30 that morning in order to get to the airport to catch our early flight. We laughed that it was only day one of a seven day trip and we had already done a lot.

We ate at a sports bar across from Camden Yards. It wasn't anything spectacular, just regular bar food, but it was still good and it was nice to sit for a while.

After we finished our late lunch, we thought about going to see Edgar Allan Poe's house and museum, which was a 10 minute drive from Camden. The road to the museum was under a lot of construction, and there was no real safe parking (mainly just street parking along an already narrow road that had been made even narrower). And not to sound paranoid or anything, but it didn't seem like the best area for us to park our car and walk several blocks in. Soooo, we decided to skip it. We found a street just a block over from Camden Yards to park for the game. We were about to put money in a parking meter when this man across the street called out. He said the side of the street he was parked on was free all day (it only applied to about half of a block worth of cars, but he said he parked there every day for work). We didn't see any tow away zone signs so after he left, we moved the car over there. And, spoiler alert, our car was there and un-ticketed when we returned after the game. Hooray for free parking!

We were able to see some of batting practice. The Orioles were playing the Tampa Bay Rays that night. Fun fact: We would see the Rays play again on our trip when we were in Detroit. Carlos Gomez is a former Rangers player and he's now with Tampa Bay. We were hoping to get his autograph (well, Lisa wanted the autograph, I always opt for a photo instead). The usher wasn't letting people too close to the field, we had to stand several rows back. When Gomez made his way into the dugout we called out at him and said we were Rangers fans and that we missed him. He smiled and motioned for us to come down. The usher had to let us down at that point since Gomez told him it was okay. Gomez was nice enough to sign and take this quick photo with me.

After batting practice, we went off to get food, our souvenir cups, and my magnet from the gift shop. We found good seats on StubHub for a VERY cheap price (it was to our benefit that the Orioles are not playing well this season so tickets sell for very cheap). Everyone we came in contact with was super nice. We found this to be true at every ballpark on our trip. The employees, the Orioles fans, the non Orioles fan- everyone was just a joy to be around. It was nice to see, especially in a time where there seems to be not a lot of nice people out there. I would like to point out that the Orioles provide both a lid AND A STRAW with their souvenir cups. It's something that I wish the Rangers did, but alas, they don't. Also, our souvenir cups are trash next to other stadiums. Step it up Rangers.

They had a What-a-dog, but no What-a-burger.

We tried to get a photo of us with the field at every ballpark on our trip
As we were leaving the ballpark, we were sad that we hadn't run into the mascot (we wanted photos). FUNNY SIDE STORY: The whole game Lisa and I both kept calling the Orioles mascot Jerry. Until TODAY we both thought that was his name. I found out he doesn't have a name. I texted Lisa earlier today and neither one of us remembers how or why we called him that. We are so confused. We think maybe we learned it in the tour. I'm gonna have to reach out to the front office to see if that is what they say on the tours. We need answers. Lol. ANYWAY, whatever his name is or isn't, we did see him on our way out and got a photo. :)

So, by the time we left the game, it was about 11pm EST. We both had been up since 2:30am CST. We still hadn't checked into our hotel (which was about a 25 minute car ride from Camden Yards). We finally got to our hotel room a little before midnight. We knew we had a lot to see the next day, so we had to set our alarms for 5:45am. We don't go on vacation to sleep (we averaged 5-6 hours of sleep each night of our trip). BUT, our first day was a success.  Yes, that was only THE FIRST DAY.

Quick 40 THROUGH 40 update:
2. See a game at six different ballparks on my MLB Ballparks To Visit list- this trip made ballpark #4
19. Pay off all of my credit cards. This one was HUGE!!! I paid off my last credit card right before I took this trip. I can't tell you how nice it is to not have any credit card debt.

Okay, I promise I won't make you wait a week before my next recap to my trip.

Thanks for reading. If you stuck around to the very end, you are AMAZING!!


Friday, July 6, 2018

Business Trips Aren't All Bad

I know, four months is a long time to go without an update. I'm so sorry. I really have missed updating my blog and hopefully this is a start of somewhat regular updates. So, the last four months have been insane. Mainly because my job keeps me crazy busy and at the end of the day, the last thing I want to do after being on a computer ALL DAY is get on my computer at home. I know, it's just laziness, that's not even a good excuse really. But I've also been traveling some (so my first few posts will be updates for Rachel's Travels). 

Before I get started: So, for people who only follow my blog, I'm sure you are wondering how my leg is healing. It is healing SO MUCH BETTER than I ever imagined. (For those who are maybe checking out my blog for the first time, click here for the backstory on my accident.) I honestly didn't think it would ever look this good. I'm very pleased. Yes, I will post an updated photo, but I'll do that at the end of the post so people aren't shocked with a photo of my naked leg as soon as they click on the link. :) 

So, where to begin? Well, I guess I'll start with the business trips I took back in March (yes MARCH). I will spare you the boring details of the business part of the trips and focus on the little sightseeing I was able to squeeze in.

My first business trip was to Charlotte, NC. We were there during March Madness and just happened to be staying in the same hotel as the Virginia basketball team. For those of you not interested in college basketball, Virginia was the number one seed that lost in the first round to number 16 seed University of Maryland, Baltimore County. Let's just say the hotel was not a happy place to be the night they lost- there were a lot of disappointed fans and players. 

This wasn't my first trip to North Carolina, so I couldn't cross it off of my states to visit list. The conference I attended kept me very busy but I managed to free up a few hours one morning so I could visit The Billy Graham Library. I have to say, this is a must see if you are in Charlotte. I admired Dr. Graham and was fortunate enough to hear him speak in person while I was in high school. The visit was very moving for me (I will not confirm or deny that I cried during my visit). 

The library and surrounding area was just beautiful. Everything was so green and all the plants were blooming (this probably explains the horrible allergy attack I had while I was there, by the time I left NC I couldn't smell or taste anything because my allergies were so bad). But besides that, it was a beautiful place to visit!

Dr. Graham passed away earlier this year- both he and his wife are buried on the library grounds. Well done, good and faithful servant.

The tour of the library is for the most part self-guided. It starts with two films, but after that, you can walk around at your own pace. I got through in about 90 minutes (but I was pressed for time so I would probably go back when I didn't feel rushed). 

This bag and book are given out free to each guest of the library
The next week I was on another business trip to Sandy, UT. Again, I've already been to Utah so it wasn't a new state to visit. 

This was me getting ready to leave on week two of my business trip. I don't know how people can travel all the time for work. I just travel once a year and it exhausted me. Lol.

Again, the conference I attended kept me crazy business so we didn't have a lot of time for sightseeing. I did take LOTS of photos of the mountains though. I will spare y'all and only share two of them. Lol.

Part of my amazing team from work
When we tried checking in to the hotel, there was a mix up and some of our rooms weren't ready (my company graciously gives everyone their own room when we travel). While we were trying to get everything straightened out, one of my coworkers nudged me, and subtly motioned to look behind her. Karl Malone was standing behind us. For non-professional basketball fans, Karl Malone was a phenomenal player for the Utah Jazz. We played it cool and didn't say anything in the lobby. We decided to go shopping while we waited on our rooms to be ready, and while we were in the parking lot my coworker kept saying that she wished she had talked to him. At that moment, he walked out of the hotel towards his truck. She couldn't resist and ran over to him (I followed, of course). He was super nice and talked to us for a while. And of course, we got a photo with him.

The Mailman (that was his nickname)
On our last night in Utah, we made the hour drive through the mountains over to Park City. I wish we had more time for sightseeing there, but we enjoyed the few hours we had. I will definitely go back when I have more time to explore. There are so many cute shops. Park City is where the Sundance Film Festival is held every year. It started snowing as we were driving in. I was with a few coworkers who had never seen snow in person before (minus the snow flurries that we sometimes get in Dallas). My friends back home in Dallas were posting on social media about how it had been 90 degrees that day back home. So of course, I had to post a photo of me in much cooler temperatures. Lol.

Okay, that's a little update. There is a lot more to come soon. I took an EPIC trip with my friend Lisa in April. That might have to be broken up into several posts. That trip involved six ballparks, two presidential libraries, two states I had never visited, and some national parks- all in seven days. 

Oh, for those who wanted an update on my leg, new photo below. It's not as gross as the ones I posted last time. I promise. But as always, I will give you the option to not look. So, this is your out. If you are curious and want to see the photo, keep scrolling......

Seriously, it's a very pale leg. I'm just warning you......

Turn around......

Every now and then I get a little bit lonely and you're never coming round...

Props if you caught the song reference there. 

Okay, here it is. Now, when I take a shower or bath (yes, I'm able to take baths again, it's so wonderful), the area gets super pink, but it fades. It is still bruised looking in some areas.

Most of my friends say you can't tell unless you know to look for it. The skin feels a little bit different than the rest of my skin, but hey- the skin grew back, isn't that awesome??


Sunday, March 4, 2018

Update On Me

**WARNING: THERE ARE GRAPHIC PHOTOS OF A SECOND DEGREE BURN IN THIS POST**. I will post another warning before you get to them, so you are safe to read the part below- a recap of my injury. The first few photos are safe for all readers. :)

This is going to be a long post. No, I'm serious. You might want to grab a bowl of popcorn (wait, this goes into details about a burn injury, maybe you don't want food). But I highly recommend a bathroom break before you start this (unless you are reading this on your phone while in the bathroom, in that case, I don't want to know). Moving on....

So, last time I posted was on the afternoon of January 18. That evening after work I decided to make spaghetti for supper (because pasta is my favorite and one of the four meals I can actually make). When I went to drain the spaghetti into the colander (which was in the sink), the potholder started to slip and I didn't want to burn my hand on the handle (oh if only that had happened instead), so in an attempt to adjust the potholder, the entire pot of boiling water spilled onto my leg. Now, when I make spaghetti, I make a whole package and freeze the rest to use later. So, this wasn't a small pot, it was a 5-gallon pot. THANKFULLY, I was wearing sweatpants (which I found out later kept my burns from being third degree) so the water didn't have direct contact with the skin.

As soon as it happened, I ripped off the pants (which I found out later was the right thing to do, that way they didn't stick to the burn). I called 911 and the wonderful operator told me to unlock my front door then get into the shower to run cool water over the burn until the ambulance arrived. This is where I would love to tell you how calm I was, but I was hysterical. Before the paramedics arrived I started freaking out that I wasn't wearing pants (the operator calmly told me to find some shorts to put on). If I hadn't been freaking out, I might have thought of this on my own. Lol. The only shorts I could find were my Wonder Woman PJ shorts so when the good-looking paramedics arrived, I was in those PJ shorts, a Mark Twain sweatshirt, and had makeup running down my face from crying so much. Just my luck. Lol.

They helped me down three flights of stairs to load me into the ambulance. Fun fact, NOT my first ambulance ride. In 2008 I was in a car wreck and was taken to the hospital via ambulance. Needless to say, I was kinda going into shock at this point. I was frantically texting my sister, a few friends, and my boss (because when you live alone, there are people who need to know what's going on). Another funny side note, the only shoes the paramedics could find were my furry boots, so that is what I wore to the hospital. I'm sure it looked cute with my shorts. Lol. Yes, only I would take a photo inside the ambulance. Stop judging. Lol.

They took me to Parkland Hospital where a wonderful group of doctors and nurses took care of me. I was still hysterically crying, until the morphine hit. At that point I started to calm down some. I asked for some morphine to take home with me (they said no). Lol. They also waited until the morphine hit to give me a tetanus shot. To be honest, I didn't feel it (I wasn't feeling much of anything with the morphine). It was super cold outside and since I was wearing shorts, the paramedics had wrapped me in a blanket that was on my bed. It got some blood on it while they were putting in the IV, but thankfully it washed out. :)

After a while, a doctor came in to talk to me. He said he knew it looked bad (which it did), but it wasn't as bad as it could have been. He asked me to explain what had happened. This is when he told me that having sweatpants on saved my upper leg from a third degree burn (which would have required skin grafts). He also said that I was lucky the water only went on my leg. If I had poured the water back instead of forward, it would have gone on my face, chest, and probably stomach. He said that would have been third degree and I would have been admitted into the hospital for a good while. He also said I was lucky the water only went on my upper leg. If it had gone on my lower leg, even with the sweatpants on, he was was convinced that portion of the leg would have had third degree burns (and needing skin grafts). He said the thigh area has more fat and skin, so it was the best case scenario if I had to get a burn. My only response to this was to tell him NEVER to use the words fat and thigh in the same sentence to a woman. We will blame the morphine for my snark.

He also warned me that even though second degree burns aren't as bad as a third degree, it is the most painful (because you still have feeling in your nerves. A third degree has killed all nerve endings so you feel nothing). He warned me that it was going to hurt until it healed. Thankfully I was still on morphine at the time so I didn't freak out on him (I freaked out later after I got home and the morphine wore off). Lol. 

After talking to the doctor, a burn specialist came in to clean the wound. This was not fun to watch or feel. Another funny side note, this doctor's name was Dr. Cook. So yes, a doctor named DR. COOK helped clean my COOKING burn. 

Not gonna lie, the next few weeks were HORRIBLE. I've been told a burn is the worst kind of pain, and if it's not, I don't want to feel a pain worse than that. The hospital only gave me Tylenol 3 for the pain (which is a joke- that's just Tylenol on steroids, it does no good). Also, I had to have the burn cleaned and redressed every day. I'm a squeamish person-which is why there are all sorts of warnings on this post about the photos below- don't worry, I'm going to make it so you will have to scroll a while to find those photos, they shouldn't just pop up, so you won't have to see them unless you want to. 

The accident happened on a Thursday night. That Friday night, a friend and her mom came over (her mom is a retired nurse) and she was gracious enough to clean and re-bandage my burn for me. Then for the next seven days, a wonderful friend hired a home-care nurse to come over every day and take care of the burn. SHE WAS A GOD SEND! If you are in the Dallas area and need a home care nurse, please leave me a comment with your email and I will get you her information. She was amazing. I was sleeping on my couch (I use the term "sleeping" lightly because I was averaging about 3 hours of sleep a day due to the pain), so she changed the sheets on my couch every day for me. She also did a load of laundry a few times. And she was so gentle cleaning my bandages. One time the gauze got stuck to the burn and she spent 35 minutes getting it off so it wouldn't hurt. 

For the first two weeks, the pain when I just stood up was HORRIBLE. I can't even begin to describe it. I could usually find one position lying down with my leg propped up where the pain was somewhat bearable, at least for a while. There was one day where I couldn't find relief no matter what I did. I pretty much cried for six straight hours because I was in so much pain. When the burn started to heal and the skin started to grow back, that was awful. Again, no words to describe the pain.  

A week after my accident I went back to the burn center at Parkland for a follow up (a sweet lady from my Sunday School class drove me). At that point I didn't have to have daily cleanings anymore. They put some sort of a foam pad on it (Mepilex) and I had to keep that on it for a week. Then the following week when I went back for my second follow up-another couple from my church took me that time. The doctor said at that point I didn't have to keep it bandaged when I was home, but I had to keep it moisturized and I would want to wear bandages if I wore pants or leggings (because it was still tender). They said it has healed as much as it will for now, it takes about six months to a year to completely heal. They told me to use unscented aloe lotion on it, but a friend gave me coconut oil and that stuff has been AMAZING!! I highly recommend it. 

Oh, side note. The day of my second follow up, I found out I had pink eye in not one BUT BOTH EYES. So, I had to get eye drops for pink eye. When it rains, it pours. Lol.

Despite all of this, I cannot even begin to described how I was blessed during this time. But Rachel, you had no skin on half of your leg, how can you possibly say you were blessed? Hey, I'm glad you asked, let me tell you. First of all, like I mentioned before, the water only went on my upper right leg. I've been told the burn shouldn't leave a scar (although the skin will be discolored). Hey, that's fine with me. It's a conversation starter. I like to talk (in case you haven't noticed). I don't even want to think about if the water had gone on my face or chest or stomach. 

I am also blessed because I have an AMAZING support system in my friends. If you don't know me personally, it's super hard for me to ask for help. Even when someone says "hey call if you need anything" I have a hard time doing that, so this whole experience was humbling. I finally got to a point where I could call and ask for help. I knew I had great friends to rely on, but man, they really stepped up during this time. I had a friend set up a meal train so people could sign up to bring me food every day. I had friends come over just to visit or watch a movie with me. A few times a friend came over to stand outside my bathroom door while I tried to wash my hair and basically take a sponge bath. At that point I was sitting on the edge the tub, making sure my right leg didn't get wet. I was having to bend over slightly to use the shower sprayer. I had to have someone there in case I fell. I'm sure it would have been easier to just have a friend in there helping me, but well, modesty and all got in the way. It was hard enough asking someone to stand guard outside the bathroom door. About two weeks after my injury, a sweet friend bought a shower chair that allowed me to sit sideways and keep my leg outside of the tub. This gave me more freedom to shower unsupervised and it was less uncomfortable than leaning over the tub. I actually just took my first shower without using that chair yesterday. I am making progress!

I will say that having friends over helped me forget that my leg felt like there were 1000 hot needles poking it. I had friends deliver flowers, food, Dr Pepper, bottled water, gifts, books, cookies (OH SO MANY COOKIES, I gained about 50 pounds in three weeks from all the cookies). I had friends who live out of town send gift cards to have food delivered. The Wednesday following my accident I had a doctor friend make a house call (yes, a house call, in the 21st century) and she prescribed me some stronger pain meds and an oral antibiotic (which was good for about five days, then I had a bad reaction to one of them, I think to the antibiotics). I'll spare all the gory details, but I will say it's hard to throw up when you can't bend your leg. I just hoovered over the toilet and prayed I didn't miss. Sorry, TMI. 

My church family was also a blessing. They called, texted, emailed, sent snail mail get well cards, sent food, and came over to visit. My pastor's wife brought me lunch one day. I am a firm believer in prayer and I know I have a great group praying for me at my church.

My company also blessed me while I was out on medical leave. I was off work for three weeks on bed rest. The company actually sent me flowers (which was nice). My HR department got me set up on short term disability (which means that I got paid 100% of my salary during this time). My boss and coworkers also checked in on me frequently to see if I needed anything and to see how I was doing. Funny- when it happened I kept thinking, oh, this won't be bad, I'll be back at work on Monday, no big deal- I'll just keep my leg propped up while I sit at my desk and work. HAHAHAHAHAHAHAHAHAHAHA. If I had only known the pain I was going to be in. Even when I finally returned to work, I still had to keep bandages on under my clothing, so I limped around for about two weeks. And for the first week I had to keep my leg propped up because it still hurt to have pressure on it. 

I'm happy to report that now I don't have to wear bandages under the clothing. I still have to keep it moisturized, but at least it's now actual skin. The human body is amazing that the skin just replaced itself. It basically looks like a bad sunburn right now. That new skin also feels different than the rest of my skin (it's kinda rough feeling), but in time that will change. There are days where I think it's looking a lot better, then the next day, it's back to not looking so good. I just have to be patient. I also have to be sure to always wear sunscreen when I'm outside (I'm pretty pale, so I was doing that before this happened anyway), but I have to be extra careful with this new skin. I also can't soak in a hot bath yet. I miss bubble baths. That will be a joyous day when I can do that again!

Okay, I know this was super long and probably more information than you wanted, but I know some of you have asked, and some of you I only talk to via this blog, so you had no idea what was going on before now. Thank you all for everything!! XOXO

Okay,  so if you are squeamish, or just don't want to see photos of the burn, stop scrolling NOW. 


No seriously, stop scrolling.

You have been warned.

You cannot yell at me because you saw these photos if you are still scrolling.

Last chance.

You sure are brave.

Okay, so here they are. I'll start with photos from the hospital. Yes, my leg was swollen so pay no attention to my fat thigh:

This was what my bandages looked like for pretty much the first week- burns seep. A LOT. No really, A LOT:

This was 24 hours after my accident:

More from the first week. The nurse had to measure the burn at one point for her notes. Yeah, this was NOT a small area that got burned. There was also a lot of bruising around the edges. We are going to say that my thigh looks fat because it was still swollen. I cannot confirm or deny that is the reason:

I know, this is so gross, but hey, you are the one who scrolled down:

This was one week after the accident when I went for my first follow up at Parkland:

This was when they took off the Mepilex pad after my second visit:

The area was flaky for a few days, then got better, then went back to being flaky. It was basically like how a sunburn peels before it heals. Hey- that rhymes: :)

The past week there was a purple area near the top, it looked bruised but didn't feel like it:

This photo was taken yesterday. Today the area near the top felt like your skin does when you are recovering from a sunburn (a little burning but not unbearable). The purple area is still there but not as dark as it was earlier this week:

Overall, I'm pleased with the progress. I have to go back and look at early photos to see how far I've come. I'm hoping the red/pinkness fades, which I'm told it will. My swimsuit modeling days are over though. Lol. Let's be honest, I enjoy Whataburger way too much to be a swimsuit model. Lol.

Thank you for reading this incredible long post. And if you are reading this, wow, thanks for sticking it out until the end. You are a trooper! Much love!