My Million Dollar Benadryl

I had quite an interesting day today…so interesting, in fact, that I’ve decided to put my story into words so that in a year I can look back on today and laugh hysterically at how absurd today has been.

Let me start two weeks ago when I got bitten by an unidentified bug on my hip.  We assumed it was a spider because we have quite the spider problem and when it swelled up to the size of a tennis ball, I put some cortizone cream on it and went on my merry way. 

This morning around 6 I woke up and felt my elbow itching, I looked down and saw that I was bleeding.  It was clear that the unidentified bug had struck again.  I shrugged it off and went to school, not thinking anything of it.

As I was sitting in class I noticed that I was getting kind of sick to my stomach and a little bit dizzy, so I got up and got some gold-fish to eat to settle my stomach, assuming it was nerves because I had a huge Functional Anatomy test coming up.  As I sat through class, I started to notice that my throat was swelling up a little bit and that I was having trouble swallowing.  I got a little nervous, but because I wasn’t having trouble breathing I just shrugged it off and waited for the break.  I then got up and told my professor what had happened and told her I was going to go to the clinic to get a Benadryl.  She flipped out and started talking about calling 911 and made two of my friends walk me down to the clinic.  I didn’t think much of it, assuming the clinic would give me the Benadryl and send me back to class.

So, we walked across campus to the clinic and when I walked in I told the girl at the front desk that I had been bitten by something and I was having a little trouble swallowing.  She told me that I needed to go to the ER immediately.  I told her that I didn’t need to do that, and the doctor who worked at the clinic asked me a few questions and kept saying I needed to go to the ER.  I kept saying no, mostly because I was worried about having to take the test and because my insurance doesn’t cover anything other than the hospitals back home.  She was insistent and took me to the back where she took my vitals and called 911 and the EMS. 

So, I called Tyler and he came down because I knew I was going to have to go to the hospital and I didn’t want to be by myself.  Then, within about 5 minutes of getting there…there were 3 cops, 3 firefighters, and 2 EMS in the room, all wondering why on earth they were responding to a girl who was clearly not in any apparent danger.  I was wondering that myself.

So, Tyler and I got to go on a very expensive 2-minute ambulance ride to the hospital 4 blocks from the campus.  We sat in triage and when they finally called me back and I told the nurse what happened and she said “So how did the benadryl work?” I replied by telling her that they had never, in fact, given me any Benadryl.  She seemed amazed that no one would have thought to do that, especially a doctor.  So, I went and sat in the ER room and waited to be seen by the Physician’s Assistant. 

He came in, took a look at my throat (which was no longer swollen as badly, just sore from when I was trying to swallow when it was swollen) and took a look at the bite.  He offered no assistance as to what kind of bite it was, or what I should do about the bite, and he gave me two (over the counter…not prescription) Benadryl tablets and sent me on my way.

So, I missed my test (because lets be honest, a children’s Benadryl puts me to sleep….two adult ones knocked me out for almost 4 hours…I was not in any shape to take that test.) and wasted plenty of money (my family’s and the government’s) for an ambulance, fire truck, and police officer to come and take me to a hospital 4 blocks up the road.  All because I needed one Benadryl tablet that it took me 2 hours (and lots of money) to get. 

Someday I’ll look back and this will be funny, it’s slightly humorous now, but it will always make for a good story.  I understand that everyone was looking out for my best interest, and they all wanted me to be safe…but it was really a bit of overkill just to get some Benadryl that I could have taken the trolley up to CVS to get for $5.  Oh well…

Storytime, Coloring, and Puppet Shows: Grad school so far

So I know that it’s been like 2 3 or 4 months since I’ve blogged…and I do apologize…but I do have pretty good reasoning for not blogging.  I’ve been busy…and I wish that word truly encompassed how crazy life has been over the last month and a half.  Busy is truly an understatement.

Although I could sit here and blog about how much reading I’ve done and how much I had to study for the two tests and two quizzes that I had this week…it wouldn’t make for very interesting reading material.  So, instead of that…I’m going to talk about all the OTHER stuff we’ve learned/done since I started DPT school in January.

On the first day of classes, the professor read us a book…which may not seem all that strange to some people…until you hear which book it was.


Oh yes, that’s right…our professors in our doctoral program read us a Dr. Seuss book.  It kind of made sense on the first day of class, to read us a book to kind of make us really want to go home and do all that reading.  It reminded us all that in just three very freaking long short years, we’ll be taking our board certification tests and becoming physical therapists.  It was a pep-talk in a way.

A few weeks later, we had the director of the program come into class and she gave us an assignment to do for the morning.  Draw and color pictures with the markers that smell like strawberries and grapes on GIANT pieces of paper.  So, as good little DPT students do…we drew our pictures.  We were asked to draw 4 pictures, one symbol that described us, one that represented our biggest accomplishment, one that showed a gift we brought to the program, and one that represented our thoughts on diversity.  We then hung them up around the room and there were stick figures and rainbows covering the walls for the next week.  When you looked up from the ground floor into the windows of our classroom, it truly looked like a kindergarten class. 

My last story took place this week, and it is my favorite memory so far of the last 5 weeks.  (Has it really been 5 weeks already?) This week we learned how to non-violently communicate from an adorable little old lady named Rita.  She started the first day by just explaining to us what NVC is, but on Thursday it got really fun.  We had a puppet show! Image

And you thought I was kidding…

So, as Rita explained to us that within every Negative Nancy (AKA Jackal) there is a baby giraffe (a happy, thoughtful person who knows how to NVC) waiting to be born.  She explained this by pulling a baby giraffe out of the bottom of the Jackal puppet, to everyone’s surprise. 

But, it does get better…after the baby giraffe was born, Rita herself BECAME a giraffe. 


And we further learned how to NVC with each other. 

You may think “wow, I could totally go to DPT school if it’s all about storytime and coloring and puppet shows” but you’re pretty wrong.  It’s really hard work.  Fortunately for us, our professors know that the only way to get us through the week is by having something interesting to keep us going. 

I really have learned a lot in 5 weeks, about myself and my values.  About how to think like a physical therapist (AKA think like Dr. J.) I learned that a giraffe’s heart is 25 pounds! But I’ve also learned that the next three years are going to be pretty amazing.  I’m truly going to learn a lot and I’ve got 41 amazing people to share it with.  I went into PT to be able to make a difference in someone elses life and after hearing the stories from the upperclassmen and from my professors, I know that I went into the right profession.

Hello, 2012!

Well, it’s been a whirlwind two weeks since I graduated and I became a “future Mrs. K” (as one of my friends put it.)  The holidays are always such a stressful time for everyone, but especially for us because of all the traveling we do.  We have gone from Cleveland to Massillon, to Youngstown, back to Cleveland, then back to Massillon and back up to Cleveland again in the last two weeks alone.  It’s been kind of crazy.  I wouldn’t have the holidays any other way, but I’m glad that life will finally go back to some sort of normalcy.

I don’t think Tyler realized when he proposed how much was going to happen in these first few weeks as an engaged couple.  Every time I mentioned something about the wedding he kept saying “but we’ve got 20 months to plan it!”  I guess because he spent the last 3 months planning the proposal, he doesn’t want to do any more planning for the time being.  But, we have at least chosen our colors (Teal, baby blue, and white) and have set a budget…now it’s a lot of waiting around until the first bridal shows of 2012 when I can get some information on all the NE Ohio vendors. 

2011 was a pretty interesting year.  It started out with my mom’s cancer and it ended (cancer free!) with my college graduation and my engagement to my best friend.  I can’t say it was the best year I’ve ever had, but it definitely included some of the best moments of my life. 

I’m super excited to begin 2012 with a fresh start.  This year I am starting out engaged and as a college graduate! I’m also starting DPT school in two weeks (label me terrified!) and that’s going to be yet another fresh start.  I don’t really believe in making new year’s resolutions, because I never stick to them…but this year I resolve to make 2012 an even better year than 2011. 

So, to everyone reading this…I challenge you to look back at 2011 and think of how you can strive to improve yourself in 2012.  That’s all I’m going to do.  I’m not going to say “I’m going to lose weight in 2012,” or “I’m going to get good grades in 2012,” I’m just saying that I’m going to strive to make 2012 the best year of my life.

Happy New Year, everyone!

We’re Engaged!

I’m so excited to finally be able to write this post!  Tyler actually proposed to me on Sunday, December 18…but literally about 5 seconds after I dried my tears of joy he said to me “You can’t tell anyone!” It about killed my soul, but I could only tell a few people until after Christmas when we saw his entire family and got to tell them.  So, here it is…our proposal story!

That day was my graduation, so after I graduated we went out with my family and a few friends to dinner.  I thought that he might do it at dinner, simply because it was a special day and we were surrounded by family and friends.  I was wrong. 

So, we went back to our apartment and said our goodbyes to my family and they left us with my nephew for a few days.  As soon as we shut the door he turned to me and said, “Lets go to Menchie’s for ice cream.”  I looked at him like he was crazy because I was so full from eating dinner and said “what about Coldstone? It’s closer.” But, he insisted on going to Menchie’s.  I didn’t feel like arguing, so we got in the car and drove to Menchie’s in Lakewood.  On the way we got lost…but that doesn’t really have anything to do with the story.

So, we got to Menchie’s and the three of us had ice cream.  After we were finished, he very smoothly grabbed my car keys without me noticing.  We walked out to the car and he said that he would drive.  Then, he turned the wrong way out of the parking lot and when I asked where he was going he said “whoops!” I didn’t think anything of it until he started driving toward Lakewood park (which is where we had our first date,) and then he pulled into the parking lot of the park.  By that point I knew what was about to happen. 

He said “Lets go see the lake,” and got out of the car.  Now, you must keep in mind that it was about 8:30 at night, pitch black in the park, snowing, freezing, and there was ice everywhere.  I guess it adds to the story…but at the time it was kind of treacherous.  We made our way to the little gazebo that overlooked the lake and the city and by that point my nephew (who is 8) was so confused as to why we were there.

He put his arm around my waist and looked at me and said “well…” and I just started crying.  I always told myself that when he proposed I would try really hard to remember everything he said…that didn’t really happen.  I was crying as he got down on one knee and he said (or at least he told me later that he said this…) “This is where it all started…and this is where I want the rest of our lives together to begin.  Will you marry me?”

And of course, I said YES!


The Ring! (Ignore the cat scratch on my hand that I really regretted having after he proposed!)

I looked at my nephew and said “Do you know what just happened?” And, in true 8 year old boy style, he just nodded his head and walked away.  We asked him to take our picture before heading back to the car to call my mom (who knew about this for months and never told me!)


I love our engagement story, because it’s unique to us.  We are both so excited to be engaged and I can’t wait to start planning our wedding…even if it isn’t for another 20 months!


What is your engagement story? I’d love to hear them!

Why I’m Becoming a PT

When I was a kid, everyone always asked me what I wanted to be when I grew up.  It changed drastically from day to day when I was young.  I wanted to be an artist or a singer on Tuesday, but on Thursday I wanted to be a teacher and a doctor.

As I got older I decided I wanted to become a psychologist so that I could help other people with their problems.  Once I realized how much of an emotional toll that would take on me, I decided that I no longer wanted to become a psychologist.

Once I got to high school I got to do a job shadowing experience at a local hospital where I followed a PT around for a few hours every week.  I decided at that point that I wanted to be able to help people heal physically as well as emotionally after an accident or injury.

Why did I decide to shadow a PT that year? Well, this is where my story differs from other PT students in a lot of cases.  A lot of PT students went through therapy themselves for an injury or something like that and decided that that was what they wanted to do.  I have never had physical therapy in my life.  Instead, I decided to become a physical therapist because of a person in my life.

My Aunt Sammie was a huge influence in my life when I was younger.  Although the amount of time I spent with her while she was alive was relatively short in comparison to a lot of people, she still had a huge influence in my life.  She died when I was in 4th grade of brain cancer, and to this day she is the only person close to me who has ever passed away.

My Aunt Sammie was a physical therapist, and I decided as I got older that the best way to honor her would be to carry on in her footsteps and become a PT as well.  Although there were so many times in my undergraduate education that I said “I don’t think I can do this” I never gave up because I wanted to make her proud.  I want to be able to help people like she helped people, with compassion and grace.

I graduated yesterday, becoming the only person in my entire family to have ever graduated college, except for her.  I got into grad school, which was a huge feat that I’m still not sure how I achieved.  Now, I’m going to start grad school in January, and hopefully 3 years later I will be Dr. Natalie Helm DPT.

I know she’s still with me, and I can only hope that all that I’ve done has made her proud of me.  I also know that she’ll be with me over the next 3 years, hopefully poking my shoulder and keeping me awake during those all nighters while I’m studying for my exams.

I miss her, and I regret that I couldn’t have spent more time with her while she was alive…but I’m glad that I’m one step closer to achieving my dreams and becoming a PT, just like her.

Make the Season Bright: Holiday Blog Hop 2011


This year I was invited to participate in a holiday blog hop!  I appreciate the opportunity and to all of you who have hopped on over, I welcome you!

This year’s hop is all about decorations for the holidays.  I’m sad to say that with our recent move, my decorating this year isn’t as spectacular as what it could have been, but next year I have lots of ideas in mind. 

Decorating for Christmas has always been a huge part of my family’s holiday traditions.  Each year before Thanksgiving my mother would take down all the decorations in her house that were up the rest of the year and clean the house from top to bottom.  This week was always terrible because the house looked so bare and my mother was NEVER in a good mood while doing “winter cleaning” but we survived and got to move on to the better part of the tradition.

The weekend or so before Thanksgiving, my father would unload the contents of the cupboard under the stairs where we kept all of our Christmas decorations.  Then, we would set out to work for the next week or so to decorate the house.  As a kid, my mother would put up a tree in each room…but as I grew older that became a lot of work if you added it to the 200 Santas we had to unpack and put around the house.  Now, she only puts up three trees, in the rooms we are in the most. 

After the trees were set up and decorated, we would go on to put out the 200 Santas that she has collected over the years.  As I got older, I took to calling this the part where “Santa threw up all over my house.”  Here are a few examples…Santas literally cover every surface in our house…even the walls!


I have always loved the way my mother’s house looked for Christmas, it was so festive and really got you into the holiday spirit.  My apartment is small, and I certainly haven’t inherited my mother’s Santa collection yet, so my own apartment is rather sparse with Christmas decorations…but I will show you the two ideas I’m most proud of.

This year, I had a staircase to deal with so I definitely wanted to do something to make it look prettier.  I decided to wrap some extra ribbon that I had around the banister..but it still didn’t look festive enough!  So, I added some ribbon and ornaments and voila!


If you look at the first green ornament it seems like it’s defying gravity…but it was actually just our cats playing with them after I put them up.  They’ve gotten over the novelty, thankfully, and our ornaments still are hanging and in one piece.

My other big project for decorating this year was my wreath.  I had made a fall wreath for the door and I wanted to do something really pretty for Christmas.  I went on Pinterest and I found a few ideas I really liked and decided to make something a little more modern.

This is what I came up with:


Unfortunately, it was too wide to hang between our door and storm door, so now it’s hanging inside where I can walk past it and see it every day!

I hope you enjoyed the tour of my mother’s and my own Christmas decorations.  Please be sure to visit the rest of the sites associated with the blog hop and let them know how much you love their decorations as well!

Merry Christmas and Happy New Year to all of you!


The links to the rest of the blogs are here:

Make the Season Bright: Holiday Blog Hop 2011

Probably Rachel

Keep Calm and Carrie On

The Glissmans

Jen’s Feeling Forty

Lemonade Life

Hamsaps House

Tweet Tweet.

I’m so sorry, I know it’s been forever since the last time I wrote. I’ve been busy studying for finals and training new people at work to come whenever I start grad school.

Anyhow, on to what I wanted to talk about today. 

When I was about 12 years old, I can remember telling my mom that I wanted a laptop so that I could sit on the couch and play my favorite computer games while watching TV.  It seems funny now that my biggest push to get a laptop was playing Age of Empires III (which was a pretty awesome game in its day) but I really wanted one.

Now, I’m sitting here typing this blog on a pink laptop, with my iPhone sitting next to me, Tyler sitting next to me writing a paper on his MacBook, and my iPad upstairs charging on my desk.  I have 3 ways to connect to the internet within my reach from the couch…not to mention the XBox that can connect to wireless and play videos and access the internet as well.

It’s truly amazing how we’ve gone from a laptop being $1500 for a basic model to everyone carrying around mini computers in their pockets.  It’s incredible that I could probably now download Age of Empires onto my iPhone and play it while riding in a car while connected to the internet via 3G.  If you would have told me that when I was 12 years old, I would have probably thought you were crazy.

My nephew, who is 8 years old, likes to go on YouTube and watch videos that teach him how to build ramps for his little toy skateboards.  I’ve used YouTube to learn how to do lots of things…from special crochet stitches to how to make a pretty Christmas bow. I can learn just about anything I could ever want from Google.  I get great inspiration from Pinterest, and I can write a blog that other people actually read! The internet is pretty amazing.

I’ve had lots of social networking accounts in my many years of being on the internet.  From Xanga to LiveJournal to MySpace to Facebook to this blog…and now I’ve joined Twitter! (Follow me, @NatalieRHelm!) I can literally contact people who I haven’t seen in years with a click of a mouse or a swipe of my finger. 

Sometimes I feel like we take these leaps and bounds in technology for granted.  I feel so fortunate to be able to keep up with friends and family that I don’t see all that often from my laptop, iPhone, iPad, desktop, XBox…you get the picture. 

So sure, maybe I didn’t get that laptop I wanted until I was 17 and going to college…but it was definitely worth the wait. 

Meet CC

Meet CC.  Our new kitten.  Tyler got him for me as a surprise because I’ve been wanting a playmate for Ace for a long time now.  He’s so sweet and he has already been through a lot in his 3 months on earth.  (Today is his 3 month birthday!)

CC’s foster mother, Patti, found CC and his 4 other brothers and sisters sitting in a box on her front porch one hot August day.  All the kittens were covered in flies and maggots and were very malnourished.  She wasn’t sure how long they sat on the porch because she didn’t get home until late that evening.  So, she did what any animal lover would do, she slept with them for the night, nursing them with a bottle while letting them lay on her chest.  Two of his siblings didn’t survive the night, but he and two of his brothers lived long enough to be nursed back to health.

The other two brothers were adopted at the same time that Tyler adopted CC (whose name was Rascal) so they all went to loving homes after being through so much in such a short time.

Why name him CC? Well, first of all there’s the giant C on his back that his markings make…

And then there is the fact that we usually call Ace by the name of “cat.”  Don’t ask me why, Tyler started doing it and it just kind of stuck…we rarely ever call him Ace unless we’re talking about him to other people.  So, when trying to come up with a name we wanted something that would actually stick…and after seeing the C on his back, I thought that calling him CC (short for cat cat) would be a cute idea.

Cat and Cat Cat (or Ace and CC if you didn’t catch all that) are getting along pretty well.  Ace still isn’t quite sure what to make of him, but he has only hissed at him a handful of times and hasn’t really made a huge fuss over him.  CC has already won me over after falling asleep on my lap half a dozen times.

Ace is about 3 times the size of CC, but someday we hope they’ll be the best of friends.  We’re glad to welcome CC into our lives and into our family.  🙂

Home Sweet Home

Well, here it is. The long awaited posting of pictures of our new townhouse.  I won’t talk much because this post will be long enough in itself, but we are very happy here (except for the drive) and are looking forward to spending the next two years as residents of Parma!

Tyler's side of the office with his desk.

My side of the office with my craft table. Can't wait to start crafting!

The walk in closet which is mostly full of books and the rest of my craft stuff, along with clothes we don't wear often.


The other walk in closet in the hallway, currently holds Christmas stuff and our laundry basket.

The bedroom.

The bedroom facing the closet. This closet is smaller but has a ton of storage space because it's over the stairs.

Looking up the stairs from the living room. Both the bedroom and office are upstairs.

Under the stairs.

The living/dining room.

Living/dining room from the kitchen.

And finally, the kitchen.

I skipped the bathrooms and the utility room because they aren’t all that interesting.

Let me know what you think!!

Big City

When I was in high school my best friend, Cory, and I would always talk about how some day we were going to live in New York City.  I thought about it all the time, we even went to NYC together on a vacation once and that fueled the fire even more.

I loved the thought of living in New York.  I would wear beautiful pea coats in every color, high heels, have a Starbucks cup permanently attached to my hand, and I would go to restaurants and art galas and everything that (in my mind) a stereotypical New Yorker did.

It’s ironic now, because although Cleveland isn’t anything special, I have lived in a big city.  I’ve lived here and I’ve survived.  I remember when I told people that I lived in downtown Cleveland and they cringed.  They would say “but don’t you feel so unsafe?”  No, I really don’t.  With the exception of a few homeless people, I’ve never had a problem feeling unsafe in Cleveland.

But what’s really ironic is that now, even after living in a “small” big city like Cleveland, I don’t think I would ever enjoy living in NYC.  It’s not all the glitz and glamor that you see in the movies.  It’s traffic, rude people, dealing with people on public transportation, and although there are two Starbucks downtown, a $4.25 latte every morning gets really expensive.

Tyler and I have done a lot of talking about where we want to live when we get married and have jobs and go to settle down.  We’ve agreed that although we’re staying in the Cleveland area, there is no way we’re ever going to live downtown.  In the end, I prefer having a yard that I can plant a garden in over having bars within walking distance of my apartment.  I prefer being able to sleep soundly at night knowing you’re in a neighborhood with a low crime rate, rather than having to be sure that you have someone to walk home with late at night.

I guess I didn’t know it, but in a way I fulfilled one of the dreams I always had growing up, to live in the big city.  Sure, it wasn’t what I expected, and I’m sure that it was a hell of a lot cheaper than living in NYC, but when it dawned on me today that I’m leaving this city tomorrow…it also dawned on me that I’m never going to live in NYC.  It’s hard saying goodbye to a goal that you dreamed about for years on end, but after having a taste of the big city…I can safely say that my new goal is a horse farm on 30 acres of land, rather than an expensive apartment overlooking Times Square.  Dreams change over time, but that doesn’t mean that if I were given the chance to go back and change it all that I wouldn’t consider it.  There a lot of things I’d change, but for right now I can only focus on what I know is possible and what I’m looking forward to in the next few years.