Friday, June 28, 2013

Thoughts from the Exam Table--Another Ultrasound

On Thursday, I had to get an ultrasound at the hospital.  Yep!  Ultrasound!  Two weeks after the wedding.  You know what THAT means!  No...Ben and I did not create a honeymoon baby.  It means that I'm still recovering from my kidney transplant and need close monitoring.

Ever since Torture Tuesday, and the removal of the stent, I told my doctors that I'd noticed a change in my urination.   I probably sounded really stupid trying to explain how my pee had changed after the stent was removed, but only because I couldn't find the words to explain it.  It's just different, OK!  I pee differently now!  The doctors, seeing my frustration, scheduled me for an ultrasound to look at the new kidney.  I had an ultrasound about six or seven months ago when I was being evaluated for a transplant.  This appointment was a little quieter, because my sister wasn't in the room with me, and there was no yelping because the gel wasn't cold, or at least it didn't feel like it.  It's appointments where I'm lying on my back, staring at the ceiling, with my feet NOT in stirrups, that I do my best thinking.  Top ten things that crossed my mind:

  • Hmm, the ultrasound gel isn't as cold this time.
  • Oh, that's because the nerves around my incision are healing, and the area around my kidney is semi-numb.
  • I wonder if they'll find something, or if they'll see something wrong with my new kidney;
  • OK so the ultrasound gel isn't cold, but this room is FREEZING!
  • They sure are taking a lot of pictures of my guts.  How can they even tell what anything is?
  • I can't decide if this procedure is hurting me or not.
  • Maybe I shouldn't have worn my nice work clothes to this appointment.  Now they're going to have ultrasound gel stuck to them.
  • I bet the cat pouncing on my stomach in the middle of the night because I was moving my hands under the covers did not help at all.  
  • Why is it not Friday yet.  
  • I should have peed before doing this.  

About six hours later, my transplant coordinator called me and said the doctor had reviewed my ultrasound results.  There is fluid around my new kidney.  I didn't ask too many questions over the phone but I think this is what I have: either a lymphocele or a urine leak. Both involve the collection of liquid around the transplanted kidney, and both can obstruct the function of the ureter (which helps urine flow out of the kidney to the bladder). Lymphocele can produce edema, swelling of the legs or ankles, which I discovered about two days ago.  

This all means that I get to return to my home away from home, Inova Fairfax, to have a procedure done to drain the fluid from around my kidney.  This just wouldn't be my life if I wasn't driving to or from the hospital to have some blood drawn or some fluid drained.  I really hope everything is OK after this, but my transplant coordinator did tell me that there will be a few bumps in the road following transplantation.  And I guess this is just a little bump which is OK.  I've been through enough speed bumps on this journey now to know things could always get worseBut once you get over the hump and get going again, a lot of times, things get a hell of a lot better.  

So come June 28, channel Sarah Palin, prepare your best Alaska/Canada-eh voice, and do a "DRAIN, BABY, DRAIN!" for me, and all the transplanted kidneys swimming in slime. 

UPDATE:  This whole experience has put Ben on edge.  While I was editing this blog post, our cat straight up VOMITED on the carpet.  Ben thought it was me and rushed into the living room asking if I was OK and if I needed to be taken to the hospital. 

Wednesday, June 26, 2013

Wedding Recap: The Best Rehearsal Dinner Ever...Probably

Finaaaalllly getting around to doing the first serious wedding recap since Ben and I got married.  Man....it's hard being tied down!  No time for anything...not even blog posts.  I'm just kidding.  Really I'm just trying to get caught up on all the stuff I'd been meaning to do while I was sick and while I was planning the wedding.  Think:  Never ending to-do lists.  Also, Ben and I have been semi hard at work planning our mini-moon (more on that lata).  But I digress...

A word about rehearsal dinners for the people who've never been to one: 
  • this is a dinner that typically follows the rehearsal for wedding ceremony;
  • but nowadays it doesn't even really have to be a dinner--it could be a breakfast, a lunch, a brunch;
  • and it doesn't have to be AFTER the wedding ceremony rehearsal--it can be before;
  • usually all the people who are participating in the ceremony are invited to the dinner;
  • and you can include out of town guests or other special people as well;
  • traditionally, the groom's family hosts the dinner.
In January, I approached Ben.  My parents had already taken over much of the responsibility for the wedding reception, and I had taken over a lot of the planning, so naturally, I thought Ben could use something else to do.  A special task that he could get involved in.  Enter, rehearsal dinner.  

Now, about five years ago, Ben's brother got married and they had a rehearsal dinner.  I didn't attend, but Ben seemed to really like it. Ben's family hosted it at their house, and they have a HUGE yard, and there was BBQ, and there was supposed to be a bonfire. But my brother-in-law's wedding happened to fall on the weekend that a hurricane blew into town.  So I don't think there was a bonfire.  For our dinner, Ben really wanted to recreate the same feel.  And I liked that idea too.  So the next step was to go...on Pinterest, and create an inspiration board.  This is what we do now.  This is how we do things.  Note:  I have not been on Pinterest since June 13, 2013.  

My board for the rehearsal dinner consisted of pictures like this:  





And this:




And this!



After all the pictures were collected, I hit "send" and emailed them to Ben's mom.  Before I dive into the real rehearsal dinner, I want to say that the best thing about this dinner was that I didn't have to plan anything for it.  Yes, it was great to see family members. And yes, it was really nice to see my Pinterest pictures jump off the page and scream "We're here! We're really here!"  But by the time the day before the wedding arrived, I was just so thankful to Jesus that I didn't have to do one single thing for this dinner, except invite people.  Thank you God for in-laws and casual pre-wedding gatherings.  

OK so I bring to you a brief look at our rehearsal dinner!  Ben really wanted an outdoor, casual, barbecue picnic.  I wanted the Pinterest board.  And oui la`! 

The tent in the Ashman yard




Inside the Tent
Flowers by my sister-in-law, Crystal


Beauti-mous!  And so perfect.  This is the "eating tent."  You can see there's the checkerboard picnic table cloth and there are pots on the table with flowers grown by Ben's mom and niece.  As Sean Kingston would say, my "face dropped" when I walked in and saw what Ben's family had done with this tent. 


Picture taken by Sydney




Near the eating tent, my brother-in-law and his wife loaned us the same tent that they used for food during their rehearsal dinner, and it worked perfectly.  Piles and piles of barbecue, and corn bread that made probably everyone "slap their mommas" sat on this table.  


Picture taken by Sydney

 
Before the people arrived


Here is one of the drink sections.  We also had bins and bins of beer (don't judge us; we like to party). But the cool thing about this table, if you can see it, is there are a bunch of mason jars with straws attached to them.  


I found this on Pinterest
Like Pinterest!  OK I promise, that's it.  But Ben's brother MADE these.  I'm so happy that the wedding is over so that now Ben and I will have more time to make awesome things, like THIS.  

And the most important part of the dinner:  the people!

 

 





 































There was also a bonfire and lots of kids running around and tons of laughter and S'mores and cornbread and parents and jars and...wow I need to calm down!   We have lots more pictures to share of this event.  But in all of them you'll see what Ben and I already knew:
  • That Ben's family, my in-law family, really dedicated a lot of themselves to making this event the great dinner that it was.  Seriously, I don't know one person who had a bad time;
  • That Pinterest dreams DO come true; and
  • That Ben's family is God sent because if Ben and I had to plan this rehearsal dinner, there's a good chance it would have been at Pizza Hut.  Wait...do people even go to Pizza Hut anymore?  We don't, so I don't know why I said that.  If Ben and I had to plan the rehearsal dinner it would have been at the park near our apartment.  And it would have been BYOF, as in bring your own food.  But there probably would have been mason jars, because those are pretty cheap.  But they wouldn't have had straws.  Or ice. 

Monday, June 24, 2013

"Yes, I still work" and Other Thoughts

The title of this blog post is the answer to a question I've fielded at least once every other week since all this kidney failure transplant stuff happen.  Half of the people who ask me if I'm still working are shocked to hear that I am.  I don't discuss my job a lot on here, but I work the average 9-5 scenario that a good chunk of people in the D.C. area do.  

The main thing people should know is that I work, and did work throughout kidney failure, because I had/have to.  I simply had to.  It wasn't always easy. Sometimes it was just downright unbearable waking up at what seemed like the butt crack of dawn, but it was really eight o'clock.  My chronic fatigue and low blood levels left me with no energy by the end of my work days, and they definitely didn't facilitate the process of climbing out of bed.  Just about every day I felt like putting my head on my desk and falling into a nice comfortable rim cycle. 

Before the transplant, I was addicted to coffee.  I was a "three-cups a day" girl, with an Earl Gray tea in the afternoon, just the switch things up a bit.  Earl Gray still has a killer amount of caffeine in it, as in Kills the Zs.   

Some people, a lot actually, when they have kidney failure or have to go on dialysis choose to go on disability from work, either short term, or permanently.  And some choose to take an extended leave under the Family and Medical Leave Act.  Every employer is different, and every illness is different, but here are a few things being sick taught me about health care, work, and bosses.

  • The Family Medical Leave Act doesn't actually entitle you to paid time off.  Common misconception?  No? I guess I'm just stupid, because I actually thought that the point of FMLA leave was so that when you do have to take time off because of an illness, you don't have to worry about a paycheck.  I was wrong.  FMLA, according to the law, only entitles you come back to your job and continue to receive medical benefits during and after taking a period of unpaid time off from work.  It's there to keep your employer from firing you if you get sick, because unfortunately some A-holes use to do that, and maybe still do, but hopeful they're in prison now.  The way it works at my job:  I am entitled to an unpaid amount of FMLA certified leave (time off from work to deal with anything kidney related), but I have to use all my paid leave (sick days, vacation days, and personal days) before getting to the unpaid part.  Some people think of this as a really good benefit.  I however, do not.  Yes, it's nice to be able to return to a job and a steady pay check after being sick, and it's also nice to continue to get health care benefits if I'm not working for a long period of time.  But it would also be nice to NOT have to use ALL your paid sick leave and paid vacation days.  SOME paid FMLA leave would be nice.  Even if it's a few weeks.  One reason I tried to hurry back to work after my transplant was because I knew I needed to take a few days off before and after my wedding.  And I really needed those to be PAID days off.  
  • Not all companies offer short-term disability.  Mine is one of them.  Some companies offer a disability plan where you're allowed to receive benefits and somewhere around five percent of your salary while taking time off to recover from surgery or an illness.  If you're company doesn't offer this, you can apply for short-term disability insurance through companies like Aflac.  Note:  apply for this insurance BEFORE you're actually sick.  If you're already sick, the company will not cover you, and instead they'll ask you if you want coverage for when you get cancer.  Yeah.  
  •  
  • Sometimes people just assume that you're better.  And this is annoying because those people aren't doctors.  Thank God I filled out those FMLA forms.  Those will shut anyone up.  
  • Even though we have "Obamacare" you still have to worry about not losing benefits.  This still kind of scares me because I know the new health care plan guarantees that people with preexisting conditions can get coverage if they don't have insurance.  That used to be a big problem for us sick people.  I was rejected twice by an insurance company when I didn't have health coverage after graduating college.  The new plan makes it so insurance companies can't really do that, but health care professionals still worry about patients losing all or portions of their coverage if they suddenly lose their jobs and therefore lose their previous health insurance.

The reality is, it's really hard to stay motivated to work when you're sick like I was. Every day is a struggle. I made the decision to continue working up until the day I had my transplant because I was trying to plan for the future. I knew I didn't want to go into unpaid leave because that would have meant A) wedding vendors weren't going to get paid on time; and B) I would have had no leave to take off before or after my wedding, and even that was not enough.  For Ben and I, the biggest takeaway in the working/not working scenario was that you always need to have a back up plan. And for us that was establishing our emergency fund.  Most sources recommend an emergency fund of three to six months of monthly expenses.  Those are the types of accounts that come in handy if you want to take a really long period of time to get back on your feet following a surgery.  Or if you want to take off a month to finish planning a wedding.  However, there's no law that covers the latter.  I recommend quitting your job to plan your wedding.  Oh, and marrying someone rich.  

Friday, June 21, 2013

Wedding Recap: Danny's Top Five

No more Wedding Wednesdays!  I know, I know.  You're sad to see it go.  But welcome to the first of many in the new series "Wedding Recap."  Original, I know.  I'm working on a post for next Wednesday about the rehearsal dinner to end all rehearsal dinners, planned by my new in-laws.  Until then, enjoy a short and sweet list by my baby sister, Danyelle.

When I was asked by my sister to pick my five favorite things about her wedding, I knew it wouldn’t be an easy task.  How could I pick just FIVE things out of all the crazy, and beautiful moments of the day.  But I managed to narrow down my list. Five things that stood out to me during the wedding:

The Food: I thought the food was well picked and I personally enjoyed the meal.  I also loved the assortment of treats that my sister and Ben picked out for the dessert table. 

The Flowers:  I really love the flowers that were picked for the wedding, provided by Alicia Jayne Florals. Each bridesmaid bouquet had different selections of a yellow flower and they looked gorgeous and went well with our dresses

The Groomsmen Outfits:  I loved the groomsmen and their ensemble.  They wore suspenders with Converse sneakers and I thought that gave them some personality and a carefree feeling, but it also looked very stylish.

The Music:  Another thing I loved about the wedding was the music and DJ (D.J. D-Mac). He did very well and was the perfect person to host. But of course it wouldn't have been great without Jewel’s input on the music that everyone could dance to.

The Ceremony:  I think the wedding ceremony was very elegant and everyone could feel the love that was radiating from Ben and Jewel as they said their vows and official became husband and wife. 
  
  
A Snapshot of the Dessert Buffet
 

 

Wednesday, June 19, 2013

Torture Tuesdays

A month and a half with the new kidney


A few weeks ago, I thought it'd be a good idea to schedule the removal of my ureteral stent for the Tuesday following my wedding.  Ben and I returned from Washington, Va., Monday afternoon as planned, so naturally, why waste a complete day off and be forced to use up more of my dwindling supply of sick leave, when I could just pop in and pop out or the urologist's office on my second weekday off.  The procedure only takes a few minutes, I'd heard.  I also heard that it was really no big deal.  

What is a ureteral stent you ask?  During my kidney transplant operation, the doctors inserted a plastic tube between my kidney and my bladder.  This tube is used to keep the new ureter from my donated kidney open, to prevent any obstruction of urine flowing through the kidney to the bladder and then out of the urethra.  Lot of medical terms here.  But basically, this tube is supposed to keep you peeing after you have the surgery.

So on Tuesday, on a high from the fabulous weekend and feeling just a tad more rested, I set out after noon to begin my errands.  I went to the courthouse and turned in our signed marriage certificate.  Now, it's officially official official.  Ben and I are 100 percent married and recognized by the state of Virginia.  I did a little happy dance out of the court clerk's office with five copies of the marriage certificate in hand to use for name change purposes.  Despite the rain in my area, the day was off to a good start.  I loaded up the address for the doctor where I was to have the stent removed and drove towards the highway.

I arrived at the doctor's office.  Nice. Clean. Stylish.  No way this place could be a zone for muffled screams, I thought.  I checked in at the reception desk.  "Married!"  I answered, as chipper as can be when she asked me my marital status.  Then I gave my urine sample and waited to be called to the back.  

A male nurse took me to an exam room.  This was your typical exam room.  Exam table with paper sheets, and two extra sitting chairs.  "What are you in for today?" the nurse asked.  I told him I was having my stent removed.  "Oh!"  he replied, a bit shocked.  "You are?"  he asked.  I nodded at him, still smiling, but confused as to why he was shocked.  "I'm sorry, you're in the wrong examination room.  Let me take you to the correct room," he said.  We left the exam room and walked a few doors down to the "correct room."  

My smile faded as soon as we entered the "correct room."  There were machines, machines I didn't recognize.  There was an exam table with paper sheets and a pillow, but it was low to the ground.  There were huge basins on a counter filled with a tinted bluish green water.  And there were strange looking plastic devices in each basin.  The room was cold.  Cold enough to preserve meat...or a dead body.  I grabbed my shoulders and shivered.

"Undress from the bottom down and I'll have a female nurse prep you in just a minute."  The male nurse left the room and I was alone with the scary, unfamiliar machines.   I took off my pants, covered up with the sheet, and waited.  Then a woman came in. She seemed friendly.  I asked her how they do the stent removal.  As she unfolded some stirrups from the sides of the bed (had NO idea those were there), she explained that the doctor inserts a scope into my urethra, looks for the stent, then pulls it out with a grasper.

I'll let that sink in for a bit.

My URETHRA.  WHERE WE PEE.

She finished prepping me then left the room to get the doctor.  In walked the doctor, a really nice doctor, but still I had to keep myself from shaking.  He asked me if I was ready for the stent to come out.  I said no.  I was not ready.  The procedure is over and I'm still not ready.  He tried to give me some reassurance by telling me the procedure is worse for men, and that a male patient before me had actually left the office before having the stent removed.  I contemplated doing the same thing.

It was time to begin.  The machines came one.  The doctor and nurse grabbed several long tubes.  "Just take some deep breaths and try to relax,"  the doctor said.  The doctor said I would feel pressure.  I felt pressure.  I also felt like I wanted someone to slit my throat.  I tried relaxing, I promise you.  But this just wasn't natural.  Things are supposed to come out of your urethra, not go in.  

I clinched the nurses arm and apologized repeatedly for hurting her.  I was breathing, but they were fast and not deep breaths.  "You're going to hyperventilate,"  the doctor said.  "I want alcohol!" I screamed.  I reached deep down into the depths of my being to pull out a strength I didn't know was there. I needed to calm down or else I was going to pass out from what was happening to me.  I could feel the plastic tube sliding out of my insides.  "And we're done!" the doctor said.  I immediately threw my hands up to my face, which was covered in salty tears and sweat.  "Good job!'  he shook my hand, I said thank you, and then the nurse told me I could get dressed.  I didn't put my clothes on right away. I was still trying to recuperate.  I sat up in bed and just stared for several minutes at my feet.  I was trying to make sense of what had just transpired.  Why did I go to the doctor that day?  Did this really happen, I wondered.  I replayed what happened over again in my head and chills traveled up and down my spine, then up again and I shook my head in disbelief.  I slowly put my clothing on.  I was shaking.

I shook all the way out of the doctor's office, into the elevator, and all the way to my car. I had to stop several times while I was walking, just to clear my head or just to stare into space.  Anything to quit reliving the previous 15 minutes. I eventually made it to my car, and drove home.  Ben greeted me with a piece of our wedding cake.  I nearly swallowed the slice whole. 

"Ben...you won't believe what happened to me today,"  I said, as I started to tell him the story of the appointment to remove the stent.  I also told him that I'd pray for him.  I'd pray that he would never have to undergo such a procedure, ever in his life. 

Friday, June 14, 2013

The End of an Era/Engagement

Wedding Tomorrow

We have arrived.  It's been quite an eventful year, three months and five days since Ben suspiciously walked me out to a park by the water, and asked "What would make you happy?"  Turns out diamonds, diamonds make me happy.  And knowing that the person I've felt all these strong, end-of-the-world, crazy-clingy obsessive, "look at me-look at me NOW!," do-anything-and-everything-for-you-forever feelings for for the past 8 years agreed that yes, I would make an excellent life partner-- it was the perfect ending to long day in my ugly sweater standing in the cold. 

I remember when, after getting engaged, Ben told me that I couldn't call ANY of my friends to tell them the news.  Well, that's just not right I tell you.  It was because he wanted to ask my dad if he could marry me, like a gentleman.  But I had thwarted his efforts earlier that day because of my impatience.  I was tired and wanted to leave my parents' house to go home and sleep.  So after getting engaged, we had to keep the secret from almost all of our friends, and several family members, for at least 24 hours up to a week.   And I'm sure this girl remembers:  Amy was the first person to get the news, over pancakes at iHop, the day after the engagement...because I just couldn't take it anymoreOur first outing as engaged people: rock climbing with the kung-fu students.  

Three weeks after getting engaged,  I just couldn't wait any longer.  I just had to find a cheap venue and find it fast so that we could nail down our date.  The past year HAS NOT gone by fast at all.  Not at all!  The past month has gone by really fast, but not the past year not.  

We've had several UPs of the past year and three months and five days:
  • people gave us a lot of attention;  that was nice.
  • we were able to watch my grandparents renew their vows again in Miami, and my Meme joked "You guys should just jump into the ceremony with us!"
  • We celebrated another date-iversary:  number seven.
  • I watched one of my best friends marry an awesome guy in Kazakhstan.  Keep in mind, I hadn't seen her in two years!  It was such a great reunion.  I'm wishing she could be here this weekend.
  • I dressed up as Harley Quinn for Halloween.  
  • Ben gave me a fantastic Valentine's Day and Birthday. 
  • I received a kidney transplant from my dad!
  • Ben and I managed to still love each other after everything:  after the arguments, after the disagreements, after the crying and vomiting, after all the money spent, long days at work, after the doctors appointments, after the cat waking us up at night.  We still managed to find moments to stop and stare at each other, just to say "I can't wait to marry you."  And now we're here.
And that was just ONE year of our relationship. My favorite UPs from the past 8 years together:
  • Ben not breaking up with me after I destroyed his football within the first week, to two weeks of dating.
  • Our five-hour phone and AIM conversations while I was in college.
  • The fact that we still call each other several times a day just to say "Hi."
  • Our first year anniversary gifts to each other:  season passes to King's Dominion.
  • Ben visiting me in Mexico, and climbing Cerro de la Cilla together.
  • Big things: like traveling to Hawaii and having one of the best vacations ever together.
  • Little things: like just being together, falling asleep to a movie or just the sound of the fan. 
  • Our emails to each other, even though we live together now.
  • Moving in together and playing house.
  • Adopting Burton.
  • Getting engaged.
  • The fact that after eight years, we've managed to still love each other.  We still find moments to stop and stare at each other, just to say "I love you."  Even if it's in the middle of an SVU marathon.  
Ben and I have grown up together in this relationship, and we've gotten to a point where we're just beginning to get a whiff at it's like when you're doing life with someone else.  There are so many good things about sharing life with someone.  There are no bad things: just things that take some getting used to, things you can't master after just two years of living together.  But I am so excited for everything that is to come, and so thankful for everything that's come to pass.  Nothing is wasted.  Good and bad, it's all absorbed into who we are as a couple, and it's made us the type of couple we are today. 
 
Tomorrow, Ben and I officially become a family. Thank you God for leading us to each other.  Thank you God that we met two different times, but Ben didn't remember me the first time.  Thank you God for being faithful for all these years.  Thank you God for this new family.  Praise in advance for what this family will be and for whatever blessings will unfold.

And thank you God that you helped Ben love me, even when it was difficult.  Even when I was being intolerable.  Even when I was stressed out.  Thank you for a man who makes me want to be better than I am now. 

In other news, no post on Monday because I'll be busy being married.  And I'll be on my "micro-moon," aka, I can't fly yet, and we didn't want to just go back to work after getting married. So we're going to the country. And we're annoying people by saying "micro-moon."  It's code for "Don't you dare assume this is my honeymoon!  My honeymoon is in GREECE!  Don't get it twisted."  Peace.

Monday, June 10, 2013

Livin for the Weekend: How you know you're having a wedding

So, not ALL of these pictures are from the weekend, but these are some of my wedding-related ones from the past 10 days.

 
  •  My good friend Amy and her husband (she's a newlywed of three months!!) stopped into town for a brief visit.  She and her husband are moving to Colorado from Brazil tomorrow.
  • I've been getting a lot of good practice writing my new-last name. Many, many forms to fill out.  Hopefully, I'll be done with all the changes by the end of the month.
  • I got my hair did!  Yay! I look beautiful again. 
  • The cat helped, sort of, with table numbers.
  • And the beauti-mous wedding dress made out of toilet paper from last weekend's bachelorette party.  Mermaid one-shoulder.  You want it.
     

In other news, wedding this Saturday.
In other, OTHER news, my baby sissy Danyelle graduates high school today!  Love you, boo.  You're my baby forever :)

The many faces of Danyelle.


 

Friday, June 7, 2013

Last Single Weekend

8 Days 'Til the Wedding

This weekend Ben's groomsmen and friends are celebrating his bachelor-hood at a hotel and casino in West Virginia.  So, except for family and friends that live nearby, and the cat who lives with me, I'll be by myself.  I'll get to experience a bachelorette weekend just one more time.  

Last weekend, I enjoyed my bachelorette festivities.  I think Ben and I were surprised and incredibly honored that our wedding party even decided to do anything for us, given that we couldn't nail down what dates we were available because of this whole kidney transplant situation.  The groomsmen and the bridesmaids have had multiple dates, ideas, events planned and partially scheduled over the past six months, only to have my failing kidneys stomp on their dreams of having an amazing bachelor/ette weekend celebration.  My bridal shower was already cancelled/postponed, so I was prepared for the same thing to happen with my bachelorette party.  But no, I have great friends and sisters who just wouldn't let the party die.  A partial gathering of my bridal party convened in New York City for A) a drag show; B) dancing at Webster Hall, an experience that really can't be recreated ever again because it was just that special; and C) covering one of my drunk sisters in a  mermaid, one-shoulder wedding dress made out of toilet paper that probably should have been saved, preserved and sold in a wedding shop somewhere.  It was that good.  Then naturally, we had brunch the next day, and I was visited by two more sweet people who I wish I got to see more.  Laughs and smiles...and chocolate...were shared by all.  

Throughout the weekend, as the phrases "you're getting married!" and "I'm getting married!!" were unleashed nearly every hour at the top of the hour, my excitement for the wedding and this next chapter in my life grew.  But at least once a day, I felt a strange pang.  I don't know what it was. It wasn't sadness or anger.  It was the gentle nudge, a reminder that after getting married, things will change.  I can't put my finger on how exactly they will change, but I know they will.  That's what happens when you graduate into the next phase of life.  While we were at Webster Hall, dancing in a circle surrounded by shirtless, sweaty guys high on...life...and glow sticks, and strobe lights, I thought, "This is the last time it will be like this."  Mostly, because I'm not sure if we're ever going to that club again.  But also because you can't get back moments in time. You just have to cherish them, take pictures on your iPhone, take it all in, and remember how hard you were laughing because that will help rebuild the memory of that extraordinary moment.  Someday I hope I'll be laughing really hard with my sisters, or my college roommate, or my friend from high school and say "Hey, remember that time we went to Webster Hall?" and we'll laugh even harder.
 
So how will I be enjoying this final bachelorette weekend?  Gettin my hair did, finally, then doing [multiple] projects for the wedding.  Grocery shopping, one of my fave pastimes because I'm obsessed with cooking. And hopefully making it out to church.  I know this won't be my last weekend alone, ever, without my spouse nearby.  But now that the wedding is getting closer, I'm getting more sentimental and sappy and thinking more and more about "the last" of everything.  I guess this next week will be filled with lasts.  Let's start by making this "the last" blog post on the last single thing I ever doCheers.