2019 has been an incredibly memorable year. The ups were way up there. The downs were way down there.
Memphis: In the early part of 2019, Jim and I took a long weekend trip to Memphis with our friends Larry and Cathy. This was my first time in Memphis and I absolutely fell in love! Highlights include seeing the Peabody Ducks, having some fantastic food at Gus’s Fried Chicken, listening to some really great music at Rum Boogie Cafe, and visiting historic places like Graceland, Sun Records, and the Civil Rights Museum. I loved that whole trip to Memphis and I can’t wait to go back!
Engaged: On a family trip in June, my family grew by one: it’s a boy! My daughter Becky got engaged to her wonderful fiance, Ben. I couldn’t have hand picked a better man to be mu daughter’s husband. All the quirky things about Becky, he embraces them. He knows how to take care of her and protect her and make her feel safe. I watch them together and they really seem like they are friends who love each other. It fills me with a deep happiness to know that Becky gets to spend the rest of her life with someone as truly wonderful as Ben.
Google Innovator: This year, after submitting my 3rd application to become a Google for Education Innovator, I was finally accepted! It has been a highlight of my professional life to get to do this! I truly enjoy working on a project related to education that I hope becomes something valuable to teachers. The experience of going through the Innovator Academy actually reminded a little bit of attending Kairos my senior year of high school in that you find yourself being exposed and made vulnerable in ways you never expected, but you come out the other side with so much energy and growth and a host of new friends who also went through the same experience that you feel bonded for life with them. (Shameless pitch — my project is called EduRate, and you can read more about it here.) Related to this…
London: When I was accepted into the Google Innovator program, the academy I needed to attend was in London, so I took my first trip there with Jim. I crammed as much tourism as I could into a few days because once the academy started, I would be busy with that for three days solid. We visited Kensington Palace, saw the changing of the guard at Buckingham Palace, visited Tower of London, rode the London Eye, traveled using the Tube, drank beer in pubs, enjoyed a traditional English breakfast, took a tour on the Thames, and were dazzled by Trafalgar Square and Piccadilly Circus. I also got to spend time at Google’s offices in Covent Garden and King’s Cross. Jim and I both fell in love with London so much that we are planning a return trip, hopefully in 2021.
Back surgery: In August, the year took a turn for the worst. I was in Key West when I started to experience debilitating lower back pain and numbness in my feet and weakness in my legs. As soon as I returned home, I went to the doctor and was diagnosed with spinal stenosis, spondylolisthesis (I had 3 vertebra slip out of place, looking like stair steps), and bilateral foot drop. This required a fusion of those 3 vertebra in my lumbar region as well as a laminectomy. The surgery did not go as planned (it is still unclear what exactly happened), but I had the surgery started in one hospital, then was transferred to another hospital where the surgery was finished, and I was left temporarily unable to feel or move anything really from below my knees to the tips of my toes, making me unable to stand or walk on my own. I was admitted to the hospital on August 6 and was finally released on September 4. I have since then started to regain some feeling and movement and mobility, which leads me to…
Rehab: I have been in some form of rehab since August 15. I spent 3 weeks in inpatient rehab, receiving 3 hours of PT/OT 6 days a week, and 90 minutes of PT/OT one day a week. I then transitioned to day rehab, which was 3 hours a day of PT/OT for 5 days a week, ultimately transitioning to 3 hours, 3 days a week. This just ended on December 27. I now transition to outpatient rehab, which will be about 1 hour a day, 2 days a week, for what I am guessing will be an indeterminate amount of time. I still have a long way to go to get back to full mobility.
Blood clots: Compounding the issues I am already facing, I also had to deal with having blood clots after surgery. After feeling pain in my right calf, ultrasounds were done on my legs to see if I had deep vein thrombosis (DVT). I did not. A week later, I was having pain in my left calf. Ultrasounds were done again and it was discovered that I had DVT in both legs. Because of that, I was also given a CT scan to check to blood clots that may have broken off and traveled to my lungs (even though I had no symptoms of this). Clots were indeed discovered, so I had pulmonary embolis (PE) in addition to DVT. As a precaution, I was placed on a different blood thinner (I had been receiving low doses of heparin) and had an IVC filter placed to catch any other clots that might decide to take a trip to the lungs.
I am ready for 2019 to be in the rear view mirror. I have tried hard not to let the negatives of this year overshadow the positives, but the year has ended on a relatively sour note. So good riddance, 2019. Here’s hoping 2020 is a year full of celebration!
What an incredible, stellar, devastating year, Renée. You ARE strong, heroic, determined, courageous, etc. etc.—listen to your friends. And remember those ducks at the Peabody—a little awkward on land, maybe, but proud, and valued, and loved, and totally at home in their palace in Memphis. My sister lives there. I love it too. (And I recommend the Elvis impersonator week at the Peabody if you can het there when it’s on.) Courage, kid! Allez!