Posts in From Carly's Heart
A note to my husband on our SEcond anniversary

You are the greenest pasture that I pull up to after my hardest and longest journeys. You are so open and make me feel so free and yet I feel my least most secure..when I am with you. You know how to simultaneously keep my soul wild and my heart safe. You make me giggle right when I start to forget the sound. 

Thank you for being my greenest pasture. For supporting me just as thoroughly when I am skipping across the grass in the sunshine as when I am laying on the ground in the rain feeling like I can’t get up. For loving me wholey when I feel anything but. For being you, my husband. And for being hot as hell, of course.  Happy 2nd wedding anniversary, Jay!

A Bit of What I've Learned in the Face of Loss 6 Months In

It’s been a little over 6 months (which feels like 6 minutes) since I lost my dad. I’ve learned about the excruciating journey of loss & grieving thus far but I am also strikingly aware of the fact that I’ve taken only tiny baby steps into my new reality in the scheme of it all. I am just a 20-something girl who simultaneously knows nothing and far too much.

Entering the After of the ‘Before & After’ Life Event
I think that part of the reality of mourning is recognizing that life as you knew it is never coming back since losing someone who was so intricately tied to your everyday existence is life altering. (I originally typed ‘is’ instead of was and had to correct it to the past tense, which just ironically proves the point of my last sentence). There are few events in life that are truly and completely irrevocable...the kind that you cannot go back from, no.matter.what. Events that change who you are and your lens instantly and permanently. Those moments that mark your life as ‘before and after’. Some of them are happy, like becoming a parent. And some of them are sad, like losing a close family member. These ‘before and after’ events impact how you move through the world, for better and for worse. There is no going back.

My life is now marked by the eras of ‘while my dad was alive’ and ‘after losing my dad’. Because no happy news will be as happy without getting to share it with him. And sadness will only be deeper without having him in my corner. You can’t imagine how many times I’ve felt like “I can’t believe that my dad died, I need to tell dad” or “I just need to go hug dad and cry in his arms as he comforts me because MY DAD died.” I know that sounds crazy but he was my support system and cheerleader. So really it just feels natural to seek out his comfort on my worst days. There are just some things that warranted me reverting back to a little girl who seeked out the comfort that only my dad could give and this is the most warranted thing of all.

On the flip side, I know that on the days my heart will feel it’s fullest, I will still feel the deep hole that his death left in it. My dad will never meet my children. I will never get to show him the house that I settle down in. The list goes on and on and will be filled with so many big and small things. Like all good (not perfect) parents, he suffered when I suffered and he was happy when I was happy (and vis versa). Today I want to cry in his arms and I know that on other days I will long to share my happiness with him and will be robbed of a piece of it for eternity. 

Facing the Shock
It goes without saying that shock is such an enormous part of mourning. It’s like searching for evidence on whether or not your nightmare is real and asking someone to slap you to see if it’s something that you’ll wake up from. I think that this is especially the case with sudden deaths. My dad was a 55 year old who was quite literally here one moment, and then just gone the next. Poof. Like the worst magic trick of all time. For the record, I think that losing someone unexpectedly and losing someone who was sick are EQUALLY horrible in different ways and that the shock element is always there, no matter what. My point is just that, one day I’m talking to him about his plans to go to New Orleans and questions about my mortgage and a couple of days later I watched as they lowered his casket into the ground so it’s hard to connect the dots when there’s just a leap on the paper. There was no journey of preparedness and there’s no sense of relief because he wasn’t sick.  So for me, a high percentage of my mourning thus far has been spent working on accepting that it’s even happened and climbing out of the intense fog of utter shock. I’m not going to lie, the moments where it doesn’t feel real are more tolerable compared to the flood that rushes in like a monsoon when the ‘new reality’ sets in. I never forget that it’s happened but it’s sometimes harder to connect with/truly believe the implications of it. There’s definitely a big part of me that expects his name to pop up on my phone or for him to walk through the door saying ‘sup gang.’ I know that part of that is the natural shock of losing someone (especially prematurely), part of that is the shock of losing someone suddenly and never seeing them sick in a hospital bed with a doctor warning you it’s coming (once again, an equally horrific, but just different looking beast) and part of that is the just reality of losing someone that I think never, ever goes away.

I know that there will always be a part of me that expects him to just walk in the door. That I will always have that instinct to call him when I see something I want to tell him about. But I know that I eventually won’t physically grab the phone as frequently (which I truthfully don’t take comfort in).

Working Through the Trauma
The other thing that I’ve really focused my attention on working through during this initial phase is the trauma of the actual event. The gist of that night is that I was at my friends’ bachelorette party in NYC when I got a call from my sister that my mom found my dad unconscious in a chair and that the ambulance was on its way to their house. Needless to say, I left in the most fear induced panic while simultaneously trying not divulge too many details that could ruin my friend’s special night. I got in an Uber, where I then got a call from my mom that my dad died (the paramedics said it was a heart attack and he was gone before they even got there). That poor Uber driver deserved 10 stars for witnessing what she did. I met up with my sister and husband in Hoboken and we headed down to my parents’ house to be with my mom.

I would say that this traumatic event aspect of it all is the lowest on my totem pole of issues with the entire thing but I also recognize that the healthy thing is to not brush past it and to work through it. If given the chance, I would relive that night a million times over without batting an eye if it meant that I got to have my dad in the future (even without that knowledge at that time). I learned from my accident and pain that I’d rather undergo high level pain for a shorter period of time than chronic lower level pain any day. I would relive getting hit by a car every day for years if I got to live the rest of my life pain free (I obviously have gotten many surgeries with very painful recoveries with this same mentality and desperation). Point is, the trauma of the night of my dad’s death is the least painful of the list of painful elements in the scheme of it all but it was still horrific, of course.

The Most Important Thing I Know About Grieving
Hands down the most important thing that I know about grieving is that there’s no right way to do it. As far as I know, the only way to do it wrong is to NOT do run from it, hide from it, throw a mask over its face or numb yourself in its wake. Like with all truly hard things in life, you just have to BE in it. Sometimes that means putting one foot in front of the other as you walk through heavy, sticky tar and sometimes that means collapsing on the ground and just sitting still in it (or on the floor of your shower, sobbing). 

The Other Most Important Thing I Know About Grieving
The other thing that I think you can ‘do right’ is lean into your family. I think that it would be easier to lean back and to retreat. To keep to myself. To not fully and wholly appreciate that everyone’s grief looks, feels and evolves differently. It would be easier to not pull from my depleted energy reserves to be ‘there for’ them as well. It would be easier to not explain to my husband again what sent me into tears in the blink of an eye. But structures aren’t supported by systems that were just built easily. If you lean two cards into one another, they support one another and have a shot at standing up. If they lean away from one another, there’s no hope. So lean in. Go into it with an open heart and open mind. Accept that all of you will have different good days and bad days (or more realistically bad days and worse days) and that sometimes yours won’t match up. Find your common ground and build a shelter from the storm there. Huddle up and rely on each other to keep warm because nothing externally will come close to providing warmth. I know that no shelter can truly combat the fact that grief is an extremely lonely place to reside. I also know that my family (especially my sister, as we stand in the most similar shoes) are the only ones who can come close to ‘getting it’ and that goes a long way in the loneliness department. We love and desperately miss the same person...he was ours and we are forever one another’s. Family is everything to me, even when a huge chunk of mine is missing. 

Experiencing Happiness Through The Pain
I haven’t struggled with guilt over feeling happy during the moments that I can (although I can see how people would). When I have had moments of true happiness since, it’s brought this sense of recognition that it feels foreign though. It will feel so good to feel happy but also so foreign that it then makes me sad that feeling happy is such an anomaly nowadays. It’s a rollercoaster. The sound of my laugh feels a little stranger (it’s always been strange haha) and having a sense of euphoria in my body feels both wonderful and foreign at the same time. Granted, I also had major surgery within this time frame and have had a lot of hard, hard cr** related to that and not a ton of fun moments since so I know that robs a lot of the joy (and sleep) from life as well. Laughter and happiness have not been in abundance recently but I haven’t stopped welcoming them. I search for them. I’m dedicated to finding them. I’m opening doors and creating opportunities for them to walk in. I’m clinging to them when I do. I’m verbalizing the feeling and taking a beat to appreciate it. I won’t ever feel guilty for any happiness I find, create, or enjoy because life is for the living and I hella know my dad would agree.

Where I’m at Now
At this point, the fog is starting to lift and I can remember where I put things and what task I was in the middle of doing more so than at first. I feel like I can formulate sentences whereas at first I was sometimes wondering if I’d remember my own name. It felt like a gray fog was spread over my world and it was hard to see what I was doing or remember where I was heading. The fog has begun to lift more and more and although the skies are not clear, I have a better sense of place and can see what is going on around me.

I don’t feel like as much of a fraud in the outside world. At first, I felt like I was walking around with this huge secret and while everyone else was just (seemingly) buying groceries, I was looking like I was buying groceries but really just trying not to start crying in the frozen aisle of the grocery store. And a lot of the time I was crying in that aisle. I frequently still find myself trying not to cry in that aisle (and a billion other places). Spoiler alert: sometimes my attempts fail.

The depression has now swept into the place where anxiety was initially residing (which turns out to be the worse of the 2 options for my waistband). Sleeping was impossible at first and now is qualified as ‘difficult’ (but my pain is majorly to blame as well). I know that I will feel like less blood is gushing out of an open wound in my chest as time continues to tick on. I also know that I won’t ever stop bleeding though. Blood shed for life (even at a slower rate) is just a reality that comes in the ‘after’ of this ‘before & after’ event. And so do tears. I know that one day I will have a whole day where I don’t cry but I haven’t seen one of those days yet.

And yet there is a big part of me that would take this ‘first steps of mourning’ pain any day because they are the days that are closer to when I last saw, talked to, and hugged my dad. They are the days when I can still vividly remember all of his hand gestures, facial expressions, and sayings to a t. Where the colors and clarity of the video reel in my head are in full resolution. But the reel keeps playing new slides and I will keep navigating my way through the fog with the blood on my shirt, the hole in my heart, the everlasting love for my dad, and the compassion for myself as I continue to navigate this path. 

If you are in a similar boat, regardless of how much time has passed, I hope that you grant yourself all of the compassion that you need and that you know I’m sending some your way as well.  XX, Carly #FromCarlysHeart

The House My Family Built

Last weekend I went to my family’s beach house, which has always been my favorite place on Earth. It’s now also the place where my dad took his last breath. Every adorable mermaid-clad corner now also has a shadow of the insane heart break that is left in his absence. His favorite foods in the kitchen, his shows on the know, everything that one would leave behind when they’re here one moment & just poof...gone the next. 

But just as it is my favorite place, it was his. Our family built this house & it helped build our family. The 4 & then 5 of us made so many happy memories in this house by the sea. And I can almost reach out and touch them when I’m there.

So much of the pure joy & excoriating pain that’s been crammed into my 29 years on Earth thus far reflect back at me in those periwinkle walls. It’s filled with bedrooms that we stacked wall to wall for sleepovers as little girls who giggled so late into the night that we had to constantly be reminded that my parents could hear us through the vents. Its where I played countless rounds of ‘never have I ever’ in the hot tub with a red solo cup in my hand as a teenager. It’s where I spent my first night alone with Jay. It’s where I’ve come to recover from many, many surgeries in inexplicable pain. It’s where I woke up on my wedding day. And it’s where I pulled up to the second after the EMTs wheeled my dad’s body away.

I remember watching them build this house as a kid..beam by beam. And now, for better and most definitely for worse, I’ve watched as it builds my story. #FromCarlysHeart

Annual Marriage Review

A couple of years ago Jay and I started doing a ‘check in’ for our marriage in what I call our Annual Marriage Review. I know…the name is intense and sterile and sounds so formal. However, it’s really not that serious and is actually something that I look forward to. It’s really just an excuse for a date night followed by a healthy and productive conversation. It works well for for us but I know that not everything is for everyone!


I am a big believer in constant communication and talking about what’s working and what’s not in my marriage. As an individual, I am constantly working on growing in regards to my own mental/emotional well being, my career, my relationships, my fitness goals (when I’m not currently recovering ugh), my health, as a person, and so on. I always have a goal that I am working on professionally, personally, and in my relationship so this is just in congruence with that. Before being ‘conscious’ and all of that was trendy, I have always been someone who operates my best (and am less anxious and depressed) when I ‘check in’ with myself and take time to reflect. I’m unsuccessful at many, many things but being in tune with my emotions and practicing self awareness is something that I have always found (at least moderate) success with (and am constantly working on). I think that it’s a powerful mechanism for getting through all of the hard cr** in life (not a solution, just a helpful tool in the tool belt). This practice of being ‘in tune’ has naturally trickled into my relationship with my husband. Naturally, Jay and I communicate the crap out of things!

Needless to say, this ‘review’ practice is very much ingrained in our regular (at least weekly) lives. However, I wanted to do a formal sit down once a year for a full reflection of the year and to be really intentional about our goal setting as a couple. Think about it, I (generally) exercise and eat well (ish haha) in order to avoid gaining weight because it’s easier to maintain my weight than have to work at losing weight. I want to instill healthy practices in my marriage to prevent problems from happening in the same way. This review is like getting the oil changed in the car to prevent it from having problems and not breaking down on the side of the road. Basically, I think that doing maintenance and ‘checking in’ to keep things running smoothly WHILE they are running smoothly is easier than trying to fix things after they’ve begun to break (not that things can’t be repaired after they break). Obviously, I’m still in a relatively young relationship since Jay and I have only been together for 8.5 years and I know that we have a lot to learn still. However, we have been through many really hard things in those 8.5 years and have learned a lot about having a solid partnership through it all. I also know that relationships are so individual and that what works for some people doesn’t work for others. This is just a personal experience of something that I think is good for us!



We set a date on our calendar that we do our review on every year. We picked a date that has significance to us (well the week has meaning to us for many reasons) and marked it in our calendar. I also set a reminder a month before to make a dinner reservation and a week before to get each of us working on our notes. I do not think that a ‘real’ anniversary is a good time to do this. We purposely avoided doing it on our wedding anniversary or our dating anniversary because we want those dates to be purely fun and romantic and magical and not filled with conversations that have the potential to get heavy. We go out to a restaurant and if we have enough privacy at our table then we will discuss things there but if not we will just do our ‘review’ once we get home. The rest of the night is just a typical, fun date night. Scheduling a walk is another good way to do it. Just get away from your phones and chores and distractions to have an uninterrupted conversation. I think that the most important thing is setting a date on your calendar and sticking to it like you would a review at work.


Creating Your Review:

I created a Google Doc and in it I copied and pasted our vows to one another. I want to just read them as a nice little refresher from time to time. However, those are pretty broad strokes and I want to discuss more specific things for this review. I like to keep the goals relatively specific and narrowed down. I also believe on working on one thing at a time so I stick to only 1 goal per ‘category.’ In the document, I put the year and then the following items to review. I think that it’s helpful to write them down so that you can reference them and check in with yourself and how you are doing. Jay suggested that we check in on those goals formally at least once a month in order to track our progress and keep ourselves accountable, which I think is a great idea. Plus, I just think that the practice of writing down goals is a good practice in general. During our review, we each take turns reading our reviews (we really just talk about it and don’t read off the document) and then discuss them and talk about ways to make them happen. The most important thing to remember is that you are not under attack and to not get defensive! Being able to receive criticism from both yourself and your spouse is so important so I think that you have to truly leave your defensiveness at the door and be open to listening and making it happen. The same thing goes with how you discuss things with your partner. Avoid using the words “always” and “never.” Don’t say, “you always do this” or “you never do this.” I also wouldn’t label your spouse as “being” something. I would say that he/she “sometimes DOES XYZ & it can be problematic because XYZ.” You are not badgering, hating on, or blaming your spouse for their area of improvement. I also think that it’s helpful to remember that you are a team and that you are going to help set and accomplish his/her goals just like you want his/her help in accomplishing your own. I try to brainstorm strategies for accomplishing the goals for both of our areas of improvement and work as a team to make progress in them.

Here are the things that we include in our review:

  • Area that I think I can improve on personally

  • Area that I think we can improve on as a couple

  • Area that I think my husband can work on

  • Jay suggested adding in a category for how we can each improve our finances so we are going to add that in each year as well

Like I said, we discuss these things on a regular basis and often have in depth conversations about them. However, I think it’s a good practice to write them down, track our progress, and really hold ourselves and each other accountable. We all need moments in life to stop and reflect and make positive changes.

Example Goal:

I don’t want to splatter our whole review in a blog post but I think that it’s helpful to see one example so here’s my review for the area that I think we can improve on as a couple: I think that we need to set aside more ‘active’ moments to have fun together and enjoy each other and our marriage, even with all of the hardship that we are facing. We have been just burying our noses in the pain and issues surrounding us and not taking enough time to just simply have fun. Even with all of the recovery issues, mourning, and other stressors in our lives, we need to take advantage of this time when it is just the 2 of us at home and have more fun loving moments without the stress. We’ve been drowning and trying to survive these past few months and now I want to make a more active effort to set aside blocks of time to have fun where we are not allowed to talk about those stressful/sad things. I want to schedule more date nights, walks, and weekends away where the whole intention is fun and not responsibilities or coping with hardship.

Give It A Try:

If this at all interests you, give it a try! It’s really not as big of a deal as it seems at all. Obviously, the area of improvement for your spouse is more sensitive but I think its likely something you are already discussing but this is at least doing it in a productive and healthy way. I also think that self reflection is an even more important component of it. Maybe you think I’m nuts and if its not for you then definitely don’t do it! If you try it and like it though, please let me know!

Surgery Essentials
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As you may know, I am currently recovering from back/hip surgery. On Christmas Day, 2012 I was hit by a car and have undergone many, many surgeries since then. Needless to say, this is not my first rodeo and I’ve learned A LOT along the way. I have learned what products are super helpful, how to counterbalance some of the side effects of pain killers, and so much more. I hope that me learning lessons that hard way can help even a few people deal with a hard situation with a little more ease. Obviously, my main wish is that no one would get hurt or sick or have to go to the hospital. If you do unfortunately need to stay in the hospital and/or get surgery, I hope that this post will at least be helpful for you. Feel free to always leave a comment on the post or shoot me an email at if there’s any questions that you have or if there is anything that I can do to further help you.

I know that this post is for a very specific demographic and it makes me laugh because its like bloggers who post a ‘what’s in my hospital bag’ post when they have a baby. This would be around my 15th ‘baby’ if that was the case so I unfortunately have a lot of experience and have truly figured out products that help as much as possible. If you have to get surgery or stay in the hospital for another reason, please know that my heart goes out to you and that I am standing on the sidelines rooting for you!


Extra Long Phone Charger: I first got an extra long phone charger for a hospital stay so that my phone could reach the bed and still get charged (hospitals suck so much phone battery) if I needed it (not that I’m ever really up for looking at my phone in the hospital). Then, I became hooked and use this length phone charger all the time. I keep one with my travel bag as well so that I always have a long enough phone charger in a hotel and all of that. I also keep one in my living room that reaches the couch. Whether you are getting surgery or not, this will change your life!

Crutch Pads: If you are on crutches then you NEED these pads. I don’t understand why they don’t automatically give them to everyone when you get crutches. They are crucial for comfort and also just make the actual experience of crutching easier to manage. I can’t even fathom not having these! I (aka my caretaker) puts them in the washing machine every 2 weeks or so and let’s them air dry (try to get it so they air dry while you are sleeping).

Crutch Bag: I also can’t imagine surviving my time on crutches without this bag that I call my “crutch purse.” Obviously, an annoying part of being on crutches is not having your hands to carry anything. Also, I never wear things with pockets while I am recovering because I live in PJs and sweatpants. This bag is a game changer because I can put my phone it it to transport, medicine, a water bottle, ect. I sometimes will also put snacks in a little ziplock bag and place it in the bag to transport. If you’ve ever been on crutches then you know that it’s close to impossible to eat if you don’t have a caretaker who can hand you food, especially if it hurts to sit down or stand up in the kitchen close to the food. This bag is a life saver!

Gel Ice Packs: The soft gel ice packs have been great for my back, hip and pelvic surgeries. Its soft and flat so I can actually lay on it. Icing is so important and so helpful during post-op.

Ice Machine: If you are getting surgery on a limb like your knee, shoulder, ect, then I think that this machine is awesome! It was so clutch for my knee surgeries. They automatically sent me home with it from the hospital and my insurance covered the cost after I had posterior lateral corner reconstruction on my knee. If your insurance won’t approve it though, I would highly recommend purchasing it on your own. Your caretaker can fill it up with water and ice and plug it in for you in the morning and then you have a solid amount of hours of icing that you can do on your own from there since it automatically pumps cold water into the part that wraps around you. It has velcro so you can easily take it on and off for your icing routine. Obviously, the machine gets pretty heavy when you fill it with water and ice so its best for a non-injured person to fill it (and if you’re on crutches you obviously can’t carry it).

Shower Seat: My doctors ordered me this shower seat after my accident and I’ve used it SO much since. It’s dangerous trying to shower while you are really hurt but showering is SO important to me and feeling as best as I can. Obviously, when you are non-weight bearing then you need the shower seat in order to shower at all. Obviously, it would be impossible for me to get in and out of a bath and you’re not even allowed to go in submerged water for a while after getting stitches. The handles on this are helpful for getting up and down as well. Even if you are not on crutches, this seat can be helpful if your balance is off post-op or from being sick due to feeling faint, being in pain, etc.

Commode: If you’ve ever stayed over in the hospital then you probably recognize this fun contraption. They never let me leave the hospital until I can prove that I can walk to the bathroom on my own (even if it involves a lot of shaking and tears and all that fun stuff) so when I get home I use this as a commode with no bucket on top of my actual toilet. If your toilet is low and you are getting back or knee surgery (especially if you’re supposed to be non-weight bearing and not putting your leg with weight down) then this is helpful. It provides you with extra height so you don’t have to sit down as low (easier to hold your leg up too) and has handles, which are so useful for getting up and down on the toilet.

Power Recliner: After my accident, my parents’ generously bought a power recliner for their house, which I moved into. You use a remote to tip it back or lift yourself up. It lifts you almost up to a standing position so I didn’t have to push off to stand up. This was helpful when I had a multitude of injuries at once and I’m so grateful for it. It was also helpful for elevating my knee when I had knee surgeries. With all of my back surgeries though, I’ve needed to lay down flat so I don’t use it. I think that this is an excessive purchase for a singular surgery and would only recommend it if you have to get multiple surgeries or are getting older and think it would be helpful. With all of electronic things, I’m always wary that you don’t want to get dependent on it and instead want to make sure that you are using your muscles once you’re allowed to. After my accident, we had a hospital bed downstairs for around 8 months as well which was helpful since it had electronic abilities. This was good because I went back and forth from the hospital bed to the recliner and could still be in the main living space near everyone. I haven’t done this for my other surgeries though.

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Blanket: I think that it’s nice to have a nice blanket in the hospital with you from home. The bedding is horrible in hospitals and its just nice to have something comforting. This is my favorite blanket that I also use at home while I recover and just in my day to day life. Its the coziest and perfect weight!

Pillow: If you experience any back/spine/neck pain then you NEED this pillow. It is worth every penny and more. It does not feel all cozy and delicious so it takes some time to get used to. However, I cannot sleep with anything else. It aligns your spine so well and keeps it stable. It’s a game changer!

Body Pillow: I also could not survive without my body pillow. I have a lot of hip/SI joint problems so my body pillow is so helpful for keeping my hips aligned while laying on my side. It keeps everything in balance and my spine aligned. I have a cheap one but am dying to try this memory foam one one day because I think it would feel great for my hurt knee.

Constipation Remedies: Ah, one of the many joys of surgery! I hate painkillers for SO many reasons but this is one of them. I won’t get into the details of SO many bad experiences that I’ve had with this problem post op. Even without the medication, constipation is still an issue for me when I am recovering because I am not moving enough (and I swing this way to begin with). Even when I don’t take pain killers after a surgery or procedure (I’m really cheap with them and will suffer a lot to avoid taking them), I still have this issue due to getting anesthesia. I think that eating enough and a lot of fiber (even when you don’t want to) is so important. I also have used these products but am not a doctor so I definitely recommend consulting your doctor before using any of them. Regardless though, its so important to advocate for yourself right away about this! They are not nearly aggressive enough in the hospital and they think its not a big deal to not go for a couple of days but a couple of days quickly becomes over a week and then it becomes an issue. Bring it up to them right away that you are concerned about it. I’ve found stool softeners, Miralax, suppositories, and Smooth Moves tea (plus hot drinks in general) to be helpful. Like I said, everyone is different so even when I do all of that for many days, I still cannot go to the bathroom. I would never try all of that at once of course and you can’t do it long term. The one product that I have found to get the job done once I reach the over a week time frame is a magnesium citrate drink. It’s gross but good to know about for the emergency level. Once again, I am not a doctor! I just didn’t know this would be such a problem until I lived it myself and had some scaring experiences so I recommend being on top of it before it becomes a bigger issue and talking to your nurses about it.

Nausea Remedies: Another really unfortunate part of taking pain medication and having anesthesia is nausea. There are few things in the world as terrible as being in extreme levels of pain and then throwing up and aggravating the area that you were just cut into. It’s the worst and one of MANY reasons that I rush to get off of pain medication as fast as possible. I’m definitely sensitive to medications and am prone to nausea so I know a ton of people do not have this problem to the severity that I do. I tell the anesthesiologist many times that I am afraid of being nauseous now so that he/she gives me anti-nausea medication in my IV with the anesthesia I also have medication ordered for me in advance so that its ready if I need it and the nurse can get it to me quickly. Obviously, I am not a doctor so if you are prone to nausea as well, just consult your doctor about it. You are your own best advocate! Even if I am nauseous, I make sure to eat when I am taking medication (so aka frequently) because I need something to coat my stomach. I also have found that artificial sugar weirdly has helped me. I eat a lot of Italian Ices during those initial phases (the hospital I go to always has them, I just have to ask for it) and find that the lemon particularly is helpful. I think that the combination of the cold with the sugar is helpful but really I don’t have a true explanation. My dad called them healing ices and would always go get me them because they helped. I also think that Sou Patch kids are helpful..don’t know why haha. Ginger products and crackers with salt are also helpful.

Electrolyte Water: I like drinking PH water in general but I find it particularly helpful when I’m not feeling well. I get really dizzy post-op so anything that can at all help, I’m down with! I love the sports bottle cap on the Smartwater for drinking while laying flat (which is a challenge).

Socks with Grips: Make sure to only wear socks with grips for safety purposes because you cannot afford to slip and fall! I also try to be good about putting on a slipper to get even more traction.

Slippers: These are the extremely unattractive shoes that I wear around my house on an everyday basis (recovering from surgery or not) due to my injuries. They have good support for your joints and make the ground feel less hard beneath you (I find it to be more painful standing on the ground), slide on without needing to bend down to put them on or fix the lip, hugs your foot (has a back) and are super lightweight. If anyone knows any cooler looking shoes that meet that requirement, please let me know because I’d love a more attractive option considering I wear them every single day and even travel with them. I can never find another pair that slides on without me needing to bend down to fix it but still has a back on it.

Comfy Loungewear: Obviously, its crucial to have comfortable loungewear for your recovery! This one and this one are my current favorite sets!

Comfy PJs: Soft and comfortable pajamas are also crucial. This brand and this brand (run short) are my favorites!

Face Wipes: Having these face wipes are helpful so that you don’t have to lean over a sink and wash your face. They are also clutch in the hospital when you can’t shower and want to feel cleaner. I recommend buying baby wipes as well for that reason. Always test products in advance though so that you aren’t recovering from surgery and experiencing an allergic reaction to a new product!

Noise Canceling Headphones: If you share a room enough times at a hospital then you are bound to have some stories that you never wanted to have! Even if you don’t have crazy roommates, there’ still a lot of naturally disturbing elements of sharing a room in the hospital. There are also a lot of machines beeping, people talking, and other things that can seem intolerable when you are super sick or in pain. I highly recommend making a playlist of calming music that you like. I also have found the headspace app to be useful. I haven’t liked doing guided meditations in that level of pain post op because its too hard to even focus on words a lot of the time but I like the sounds feature for sleep in the app. I think that there is power in calming music and just trying to relax through the pain as much as possible. My other headphones weren’t cutting it because there was a lot of background noise mixed in and its really easy to feel agitated when you are suffering at that level. Thankfully, my husband has these awesome headphones that he shares with me when I need to cut out exterior sounds and try to get to a relaxed state when I’m in a lot of pain. They are a miracle device! You hit a toggle and its like you are underwater and the outside sounds die down so much!

Baby Wipes: Crucial for the hospital and feeling as clean as possible!

Folder: It’s helpful to have a folder with all of your surgery materials that you take you put your pre-op and post-op instructions in. I have an accordion folder in my filing area that I keep any long term papers in but most of the time I just take pictures of things and store the information electronically. Keep a notes section in your phone to write down any questions that you have as they come up so that you can ask the doctor about them during your appointments. I also have a shared album in the photos on my phone with medical photos so I keep any photos that I take on my phone of scans, wound tracking, ect in there.

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New Years 2019

Oh 2018, how I would love to forget the tragedy and pain that you brought. And yet, I don’t want to forget you because you were the last year that I got to sit in my dad’s presence.

My legs are split open over the line of the changing year with my head and heart tossing from one side to another. I want my heart to stop feeling like it’s gushing blood constantly like it has the last couple of months of 2018 and yet I’m desperately afraid of time moving forward and any of my memories...of the inflections of his face, his laugh, his hand gestures and his lingo to fade. 

If 2018 brought you good fortune, I hope it continues tenfold this next year. If it brought you heartbreak, I hope that 2019 finds a way to fill your soul with something else that you so desperately need. Happy New Year, friends. I’m so grateful for you ❤️ #FromCarlysHeart #2019

Find Someone Who Holds Your Hand

Find someone who will hold your hand in pre-op, get choked up while expressing gratitude for your doctor in post-op, and drive you home from the hospital in a snow storm (that felt more like the apocalypse) while you yell and cry out in pain for hourss. Find someone who will help you get dressed in your ugliest sweatpants in the most gentle manner. Find someone who looks at you like you hold the whole moon in your tiny hands when all you really hold is your wedding band from him, your beloved dad’s wedding band, and an IV for your (small in your book of experience) surgery. Find that person and hold onto them like they ARE the moon in your tiny hands because they will impact your crazy world in a way that only a moon could. #FromCarlysHeart

Holiday Cards with Basic Invite

Can you believe that it’s already the time of year to order your holiday cards? I made mine on Basic Invite this year and thought that the process was really seamless. I feel like whenever you try to create something with photos and text, it becomes a disaster but I found the process to be really easy. I also liked that they had plenty of ‘alternative’ options besides the traditional red and gold choices. I like to choose cards that are still ‘on brand’ with my style and I appreciated that I was able to do that. We’re not an ultra traditional couple so I was glad that we were able to create a card that didn’t feel super classic or traditional. They have almost an unlimited variety of color options, so that was super helpful! We are a mixed religion household so keeping it ‘neutral’ is important to us. That being said, Basic Invite has plenty of traditional options as well. They also have cards with beautiful foil details, which I LOVE. They also have cool and retro holiday cards as well as awesome holiday party invitations! Check out the best Christmas cards!

In the interest of keeping it real, I had a hard time when I saw my cards. I created our holiday cards the week before my dad died and when I came back to my apartment for the first time following his death, I had these waiting in the mail for me. It felt absurd to read the words ‘Joyful’ splashed across the top of my cards. It is the opposite of how I have been feeling ever since and I have felt weird about sending them out to friends and family with all that’s been going on. However, I decided to try and look at them as a reminder to choose joy whenever and wherever we can. There are so many reasons to let Joy escape our lives but we can’t let it fully do that. Even while living under the crazy weight of this grief, I know that I still need to find reasons to smile and laugh, even if they are just a tiny drop in the bucket of tears. I know that this holiday season will be extremely hard. I know that there will be a million reasons why I find it to be extremely painful. I also know that I need to open my eyes as wide as I can so that I can seek out any bits of joy that may be scattered around in the midst of the sorrow. When I can’t find it, I know that I will need to create it…even if its just in subtle ways like having a cozy night by the tree with my husband watching a movie. So, this card that I created may not currently speak my truth since I am not ‘Joyful’ but I will hang it up with the reminder to create any tiny shreds of joy that I can and I hope that you will find plenty of reasons to be joyful during the holiday season.

If you are looking to create awesome holiday cards or holiday party invitations, make sure to check out Basic Invite. You won’t be disappointed with the selection! They even offer an address capturing service to make the whole process easier on you. They are running a ton of promotions this holiday season so make sure to check the website for their current promotion. At this moment, they are offering 15% off everything with the code 15FF51. Happy Holidays, friends!



This post is sponsored. However, all thought and opinions are my own.

People Serve As Gravity

After my accident nearly 6 years ago, I wrote “The people that love you serve as gravity when your world gets turned upside down.” Well, my world has officially fallen off its axis following my dad’s untimely death. Those words still hold so true though. I’m so thankful for my tribe who has been huddling tight around me. I’m not naive enough to think that I’ve taken more than one TINY step thus far on a VERY long road that lies ahead of me so it feels premature to hand out my thank you’s. Yet here I am, with my broken heart in my hand to say THANK YOU to my loved ones for the support thus far. Your sweet messages and thoughtful gifts hold great weight. It feels natural to shut out and off the world right now and yet I know that I have to get up every day, let as much love pour in as I can and keep trucking. To my husband, my family, my friends and my community (both on this platform and in ‘real’ life)...thank you for being my gravity thus far. #FromCarlysHeart


 “My beloved dad...your presence was so big in this world. You always brought the party. You loved largely and lived boldly. Whatever you did, you did big. Needless to say, the hole that you will leave in this world will be gigantic. You always said how our happiness was your happiness and that made us super lucky. Now, the light bulb for our happiness will forever be dimmed without you in our world. Your inner circle will never be the same. If circles had a beginnings to them, you would have been the start to ours. You were the first love of my life and you will always be one of my greatest. I will miss you every singe day. You will forever be our King.”

My Achilles Heal

After every weekend I spend with my niece & nephew, I fall into a pit of increased pain that pulls open the wound of my fears for the future. I have made true peace with all that I’ve been through in the past; my accident, my surgeries... But my fear of how I can mother through this pain is my Achilles heal. The thing that I have ALWAYS wanted most in life is to be a great mother. I think that I’ve wanted babies since I was a baby myself. It’s the thing that I have always felt destined to do more than anything. And I just know how hard this pain I live in will make it. All of my best assets for parenthood will be rung through this mucky water of pain. You see, I’m a very patient and sunny person and I dig deep to keep that the case (even while in pain) but something happens in your brain that just makes it (and a million other things) SO much harder. I’ve already given up my dreams of working with kids in a career but I couldn’t even fathom giving up the dreams of having my own. I know that I’ll figure it out and do the best that I can when the time comes but damn, it’s heart wrenching. You see, if it takes me days to get back to my baseline pain level from a weekend with 2 kids AND 2 other adults, how can I do it every single day (and on my own). I want to give a shoutout to all of the parents who have illnesses and injuries that make just getting out of bed feel like an impossible task some are truly my heroes! I know that one day I will dig deep and just do my best just like you bravely do ❤️#FromCarlysHeart

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Wellness Pain Treatments

You may know that I deal with chronic pain on a daily basis following injuries that I sustained after being hit by a car in 2012. My primary sources of pain are my lower lumbar and SI joint. However, I also have pain issues and limitations in my right knee, pelvis and side/waist. My injuries and issues are so layered and complex (there’s the baseline issue and then issues from surgeries I’ve had like scar tissue build up, etc that pile on) so I won’t go into them all. My pain is mainly deep in my joints but I also have pain/issues with muscles, tendons, ligaments, nerves and scar tissue. Unfortunately, a lot of my life revolves around keeping my pain as under control as I can. I work really, really hard at doing everything that I can think of to help my pain levels. I always say that I will take any relief; even if its only a small percentage of relief, that percentage can be stacked with another percentage and add up. Anything is better than nothing. I (and really I should say we because my husband is such a great partner and is unfortunately impacted by everything), modify and adapt our lives a great deal to accommodate my pain and injuries (MUCH more than it seems to the outside world). I could go on an on about every little angle that my legs need to be at to relieve pain in my spine but instead, I’m here to focus on some tips that I think can be applicable to anyone with aches and pains. I want to mention that I have a whole slew of products that I suggest for post-op that I may do a post about if its relevant to people/you guys want it so please let me know.

These wellness focused “treatments” and products are things that I’ve found to be helpful over the years. I think that most of them can apply to anyone with aches and pains, even those that follow a workout with just normal soreness. In fact, the less severe the ache is, the more effective I think that these things would be. For example, I have to take a really high dose of CBD to notice a tiny, tiny dot of difference but I know friends of mine who say that a small amount really helps them. I find it very challenging to travel without these products (half of my suitcase is pain treatment items) and I find it so difficult to sleep out places because I am so reliant on my mattress, my special pillows, and just all of these products to help keep my pain at the ‘baseline’ average (which isn’t nearly what I wish it was).

The bummer about all of this is that it is not covered by insurance. I can get my insurance company to cover opioids and while I think that they would be more effective in making me feel less pain in a given moment, they have SO many negative side effects and are highly addictive so I don’t take them (except for immediately post op, depending on the surgery). The whole system is backwards and it’s mega upsetting. I can get ‘poison’ for free and yet have to pay an arm and a leg out of pocket for wholistic treatments. Similarly, there are no ‘middle ground’ doctors in my network that can help me create a treatment plan that falls somewhere in between Eastern and Western medicine. I have pieced advice together from all my pain management doctor, bone doctor, dietician, and acupuncturist. However, most of this comes from my own research and trial and error. However, I am not a doctor so I recommend speaking with your own doctor before trying these things.

Wellness Supplements

Castor oil : I put essential oils (mentioning my favorite ones for pain below) into a little bowl with castor oil and mix it. Then, I massage the castor oil in everywhere that I have pain (basically everywhere from the middle of my body down). I used to be diligent about then applying a heating pad (that you put in the microwave) to the areas that I have scar tissue but I fell off the habit and should get back to it because its supposed to be more effective.

CBD: I use all formats depending on the situation/what I have on hand (except I’ve never used the spray). I have to take a really high dosage to notice it make my muscles relax at all, which is unfortunate because it gets really expensive. If anyone has a brand that they recommend as being really strong for the cost and is a quality product please let me know.

Epsom salt: I use epsom salt in baths along with essential oils. I try to take an epsom soak at least a couple of times a week (it would be better if I did it every day). I highly recommend this for anyone who exercises regularly too.

Essential oils: I have been using essential oils for a few years now but over the past year I made a more concrete commitment to furthering my knowledge of them. I still have learning to do but I have found that they serve so many purposes. I have also noticed a difference in purchasing quality products from Young Living. I think that a little bit goes much further than the cheaper products I’ve purchased in the past and I generally feel more secure when I use them because I trust the brand more. I diffuse them, put them in baths, and apply them to my skin (with a carrier oil). I can do a whole separate blog post on these if anyone is interested but I will say that my ‘go tos’ for pain are: Valor, Eucalyptus, Lemongrass, Lavender, Cedarwood, Frankincense, and Relieve It.

Chelated iron: With the suggestion from a dietician and my bone doctor, I started taking Chelated iron and it has made such a difference for me. I have this throbbing pain that goes from my hips down the back of my legs and through my feet and its like a constant pulse. It makes it really hard to sleep. It’s like that feeling when you need to elevate your legs but it happens all the time. Since taking the iron, that feeling has lessened (but not gone away by ANY means). The chelated iron is much kinder to your stomach than regular iron.

Flaxseed oil: I’ve been taking this for years for inflammation and for the arthritis in my joints. I try to include it in my diet as well but at least I know I’m definitely intaking it every day.

Turmeric: I take this for inflammation and arthritis as well. I try to include it in my diet as well but at least I know I’m definitely intaking it every day.

Vitamin D & Calcium: I don’t directly take these for pain. I take these because I developed Osteopenia (low bone density) after my accident and have continued to show low bone density on my scans ever since, even though all of my blood word and diet is within normal range. They believe that this is because I have been non weight bearing on and off for so many years with all of the surgery I get/have had and how much I have to lay around every day due to pain. Even though the range for my diet is normal, we are trying to boost my levels of these things above the normal range to help my bones.

Vegan collagen: for bones & beauty  


Barre: I went to PT for years and it was great…I learned a lot and it helped me a lot. It got to a point where it felt like I was being ‘babied’ and like I knew what they were teaching me enough to take it off site. I started barre years ago (and have done it on and off depending on restrictions following surgeries). It is a great exercise for me because it is low impact, strength building, and I can modify when I need to. It also involves a lot of stretching!

Mayo facial release massage therapy: I aim to get a mayo facial release massage once a week. I go to Massage Envy because the member prices are great. My biggest advice is to keep trying different people there until you find the right person who is the right fit for you. Its scary for me to try new people because I have been hurt many times by massage therapists (by accident). Plus, I know that the therapist that I see knows my injuries and spends all of the time focusing on them in the right way. This type of massage is not relaxing or ‘enjoyable’ per say but I find it to be incredibly enjoyable because it provides me relief in that moment especially.

Dry needling: This is a new treatment that I started. It is a form of acupuncture where they place the needle in deeper, kind of dig it around, and then pull it out right away. It’s like trigger point release therapy. If I find it to be helpful long term, I will do a post solely dedicated to it. I was really sore after getting it the first time (like sore to the lightest touch), which made me really excited that it’s doing something.

Stretching: I am an avid stretcher and huge believer in stretching. I stretch every single day, often multiple times a day. If I’m standing by a wall, I will start stretching my calves even. When you are hurt and especially if you are overcompensating (even if you try your hardest not to), other parts of your body will ache that aren’t even hurt. I strongly believe that everyone should be stretching. It’s my life line. You will see my stretching in a restaurant or the weirdest places because it provides me with a second of relief that I need. My favorite tools to stretch with are this Magic circle  and this Foam roller.

Products That Are Life Savers:

Casper mattress : I don’t know if a day goes by that I say that I’m not grateful for my Casper mattress. It has changed my life! It somehow is exactly what I need for it to be and I can’t even believe it. If I sleep in any mattress besides a Casper now, I find it to be almost intolerable. Laying flat in my Casper, with my special pillows helps me recover more so than anything else that I do.

Body pillow: I need for my spine to be aligned and can’t have it twisting in or collapsing so a body pillow is a necessity. I actually have a cheap one but this memory foam one is on my wish list majorly because the matching regular pillow has been a life saver for me.

Temper-pedic pillow : This pillow is NOT delicious…it does not feel all cozy and amazing to lay on. However, it helps keep my spine in line in the way that I perfectly set it up (it takes me hours to get comfortable and fall asleep because pain and sleep don’t go hand in hand yet I NEED sleep to reduce pain so I’m grateful for anything that helps). It’s great for side sleeping and sleeping on your back.

Compression socks: My genius husband recently had this idea to help my leg and feet cramps and aches (come from my SI issues and nerve issues). They aren’t comfortable but they have been helping. I’m trying to wear them for a great deal of the day.

Dehumidifier : Another genius idea by my husband! My joint pain gets so much worse when it rains or when its really dense in the air (I think my husband was sick of me playing weather woman and predicting the rain haha). I recently learned that when you have holes in your joints (I have multiple from past surgeries and then removal of hardware), you feel it even more because your body ‘fills’ those holes with moisture to match the outside world. Let me tell you, the pressure is intense! It makes it even harder for me to sleep when it rains so we put one of these in our bedroom and one in the main area of our apartment. Obviously, these aren’t great for your skin care routine or for breathing but if you’re suffering from the rain like me, I highly recommend it.

Heating pad : For muscle tension

Gel ice pack: The CVS gel cold compresses are like gold because you can place them under your back and lay flat on them.

Essential oil diffusers: I have one on my nightstand and one in my kitchen/living area.

Ultrasound machine: I purchased this to help break up scar tissue but really haven’t utilized it enough because I can’t do it by myself and really, how much can I ask Jay to do when he gets home late from work?! I want to try to do it more though.

Kitchen mat: Game changer for anyone with a bad knee, bad joints or just anyone that cooks! I can’t tolerate standing on the hard ground at all so I always wear “indoor sneakers” but standing still is really hard for me regardless and this mat really helps. Its not the most attractive thing but I could NEVER live without it. I want one in my bathroom as well because I really struggle with standing up to get ready for bed each night but its just not the best idea with the amount of space we have. This mat is worth the investment, trust me!

House shoes: Like I said, my joints can’t stand standing on the ground. I need a slip on ‘sneaker’ of sort that I can slide on without having to bend over to put them on but still won’t put me at risk for falling or tripping (aka have a back to them). I put these on just to get up to walk from the couch to the bathroom because I can’t tolerate it that much. Any layer of cushion is much appreciated, even if they are SO ugly! I want to try Dansko shoes next, which medical professionals wear and are also ugly. I never want to spend a lot of money on these because I wear them so much that I wear through them quickly but I am open to any other better suggestions for these!

Anti Inflammatory Foods:

I want to first say that while I try my best to avoid these foods during the week, I am not perfect. I also do not avoid all of them on the weekends because food brings me a lot of happiness and there is A LOT to be said for things that bring you happiness, even with so many limitations. I have been a vegetarian since I was 10 years old AND I have been a healthy person in general. My motives for eating how I do are rooted in MANY things, and pain is one of them. I try to avoid these foods that cause inflammation as best as possible during the week. Cutting dairy (really just cheese) out of my weeknight diet has been the most challenging thing of all. Here are the foods that I generally try to avoid:



Processed foods with additives  

Processed sugar  

Refined carbohydrates  


Some Things I’ve Tried But Didn’t Work FOR ME:

Regular Accupuncture: I did’t see results but would be willing to try it again if it didn’t cost so much money out of pocket. I believe SO much that acupuncture DOES work though for so many people so definitely try it!

Hypnotherapy: I did’t see results but would be willing to try it again if it didn’t cost so much money out of pocket.

Chiropractor: It isn’t safe for my spinal injuries.

Cyrotherapy: If you’re into paying for cold torture, do it haha. I’m sure it’s helpful for people but I tensed my muscles so much.  

Stim: It’s fine but just doesn’t do much for me.

Lidocaine patches: Too surface level for my injuries it seems

Magnesium: It made me feel shaky and faint, which are feelings that I really don’t enjoy (they trigger anxiety and I’m prone to it), but I’m intrigued to try again maybe if I wasn’t alone or something.

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