Tuesday, December 30, 2014

Full of Grace

1. Not being in the hospital for Christmas.  It is so good to be home, sleeping in my own bed, cuddling with my fur balls, and once the drain was out, feeling well enough to eat an indecent amount of cookies and chocolate and fudge. 

I know I have been saying I am grateful for being home for the last couple of weeks, but wow, all I could think of on Christmas were all those people spending their holiday in a hospital bed.

2. Having endured a couple of weeks of massive antibiotics, my entire digestive system was out of whack.  Normally I would counteract that with yogurt but my appetite for anything dairy (even ice cream!)  was repulsive.  Then Peachie found probiotics in a gummy bear form.   They saved me from all sorts of other nasties. And it was like eating candy.

3. Best xmas gift - Beaner gave me a cooking class where we will go and learn how to make Italian pastries together.  Time with my daughter, learning something new, and then eating cannolis.  Win, win, win.

4. Being able to Skype with two of my "adopted" daughters on Christmas, one in South Africa and the other in New Zealand. I have a love/hate relationship with technology but this is an amazing thing.

5. Recuperated enough that I am able to start the finishing trim work on the kitchen - which is saving me from Martha trying to do it.   Her attitude of  “good enough” is always in conflict with my perfectionist OCD on woodworking.   I like my miters to meet.  Perfectly.

Tuesday, December 23, 2014

Full of Grace

I am still feeling overwhelmed with gratitude for all the wonderful care I received during my medical emergency.   Today I had a follow up CT scan and doctor’s appointment and I am particularly grateful that:

  • The scan went smoothly without the extremely painful dye infiltration that happened the first time around.

  • That the scan showed that everything is healing nicely.  I still have to have surgery in January to remove what remains of the appendix, but at least it will be done in a non-emergency situation after all the infection has been taken care of.

  • The drain has been removed.   As sexy as this might look, I had trouble sleeping with this stuck in my belly, I would catch the tube on stuff and almost rip out the stitches that held it in place,  clothing was impossible as everything rubbed on the insertion area, and well, it was just plain gross to walk around with a bag of blood and pus hanging from me.  

  • The doctor has given me clearance to go on the vacation with my daughters that was planned for the beginning of January.  I was very concerned that I would have to give it up, but the surgeon is willing to work around the dates.

  • In the last couple of weeks I have heard many horror stories about ruptured appendixes and long, long hospital stays and how I was so lucky.   I am most grateful that my body was healthy enough to overcome this latest onslaught so quickly   My body has been through so much trauma and yet it still gets back up and allows me to feel and see and taste and make love and climb mountains and to give love back.    I am both humbled and amazed at its resilience and forgiveness.  

Friday, December 19, 2014

Full of Grace

This week my list of gratitude would have to be a mile long to include everyone who helped me and my family through this medical scare.  Instead I will tell this story:

Christmas is Martha’s favorite time of year.  She loves all the shopping and decorating and music and well, everything.  She generally spends weeks getting the house ready, inside and out.   Every room has something festive, an entire village is created and lights and greens brighten the yard.  But this year the kitchen renovation  went way over our time schedule and many things just did not get done.  We had put up the Christmas tree while Peachie was home for Thanksgiving, but that was as far as we got.    

Meanwhile, the kitchen is still not complete.  There is no finish around the flooring, there is no trim around the doors or window.  The back splash is still in uninstalled. We were buying a gas stove for each other for Christmas.  That hasn't happened yet either.   

And so I had promised her that this past weekend we would make a push to get it all done.   And then I got sick.  Crap.

On Monday night I came home from the hospital.  Martha had managed to install the kitchen sink (yay!) and put up a few decorations.   I told her it looked great and went to bed.  And I have been pretty useless since.

Last night we were both sitting in the living room.  The room was dark except for the nights of the tree.  And we just started to laugh because there was this beautifully decorated tree.   And some pumpkins from Halloween.  And some pilgrims from Thanksgiving.  Some of the shelves are bare where decorations were taken down but nothing put back up.  

I said “I’m sorry, this Christmas is just not going happen the way you like it.”  And she said “It’s a perfect Christmas.   We will be all together and that’s all that matters.”

And in the end, that *is* all that matters.  We will have Christmas even though the stockings are not stuffed and most of the decorations are still in the attic.  There are no lights or wreaths.  But we have each other.   We have lots of love and lots of laughter. And we have home.

I am so grateful to be home. Sometimes I think I am the luckiest person in the world.  

Tuesday, December 16, 2014

Notes from a Medical Emergency

I am still amazed - I called my doctor at 9 am and was seen at 9:30.  By 10:30 they had completed a physical exam, a urinalysis, blood work and got me an appointment at the medical imaging center located in the same building.  There I drank a bottle of disgusting contrast stuff and had to wait one hour for it to work.  I was then promptly taken for my CT scan.   They then told me to go back to my doctor’s office and he would have the results in 10 minutes.   I hadn’t even checked in with the receptionist when my doctor came out, told me I had a ruptured appendix and to get Martha to drive me to the emergency room.  He told me he would call ahead and let them know I was coming.  We got to to ER around 2 o’clock and they immediately got me to a room and started an antibiotic IV and a surgeon came to see me.  She had already viewed my CT scan and laid out what the following days and weeks were going to be.   From a 9 am call to a 2 pm diagnosis and care treatment.  I am so grateful for the care I have received.

Even with the VIP treatment I didn’t yet realize how critical my condition was.  I was still thinking that is was early enough in the day to have a laparoscopic appendectomy and maybe be home by evening.  The surgeon just laughed.  She explained that if she opened me up now, she would probably have to take part of my colon and intestines.  She told me I had a life threatening condition if the infection spread to my others organs.  She explained that the first and only thing we would be dealing with is the now septic condition in my abdomen and to plan on 6 to 10 weeks for recovery. Well, that certainly got my attention.

When I had the CT scan, they inserted some kind of dye into my arm.  Unfortunately, the injection broke through the vein and infiltrated  the tissue.  It hurt and burned like hell.  And then my arm blew up and looked like Popeye’s.  I kept looking at it saying “ holy crap, look at those biceps!”  By the time I got to the ER it looked like a Macy’s Thanksgiving balloon.  Folks at the ER were quite concerned about it especially since the mastectomy gives me a high chance for edema.  But it did earn me this wristband and immunity from my left arm being stuck with IVs and blood tests.  (it has finally returned to a normal size)


Unfortunately it also made my right arm take an undue burden - two IV ports plus blood test twice a day.  Ouch.


It took about an hour to get me to a room.  Then Martha, now knowing I was going to be in the hospital for days left to get me some supplies.  When she returned a while later Peachie was with her.  She had driven 3 hours home from college to see me and stayed with me the whole time I was in hospital.  (Martha, now having a blossoming cold and cough was banned from the hospital altogether.)  Peachie really should have been studying for her final exams but instead she was helping me in and out of bed, helping me in the bathroom, getting the nurse every time my IV ran down, getting everything that was out of my reach, monitoring all my vital signs, and motivating me to take those laps around the floor, dragging my IV pole.  When I was getting really ripe, she stripped me down, gave me a shower, washed my hair, and shaved my legs. It was then that I had that weird sense of the mother becoming the child and the child becoming the mother.  Unsettling and comforting at the same time.

The first night got I spent a horrible night with my IV monitor constantly going off and then my roommates minutes later.  Lots of code blues and people moaning and groaning.  Staff coming to take blood, change the IV, hot pack my arm, take vitals, etc.   But the next morning I had the surgery to place the drain and then got moved to the post surgery wing.   So much more quiet.  And although they still had to wake me every 4 hours for my vitals, they tried very hard not to disturb us from midnight to 4am.   Bliss.  

Martha had brought me numerous books and magazines to help bide my time. I never looked at any of them. I don't know where the time went. The days were marked by meals that came, and went uneaten. Hospital time must occur in a different dimension.

Every medical person who came examined my belly said "great, nice and soft." I have come to understand that if something bad was happening my gut would have distended or become rock hard. Still, with all the sit ups and crunches and planks I do, it was somewhat discouraging to have everyone comment about how soft I was.

I am fortunate to live in an area with many hospital options.  I choose the Catholic one since being recommended to one of the best oncologists in the area who is based there.   I have always received excellent care without any religious pressure.  Except every room has a crucifix which I always found disturbing.  (who wants the worse day of their lives recreated and shown everywhere?)    But this time I noticed that the crucifixes have changed.  No longer is Christ agonizing on the cross.   It is difficult to see in this picture, but now he is dressed and has his arms raised.


I hope I am not being disrespectful but all I could think of was he looked like touchdown Jesus.  Which made me laugh every time I noticed it.   I guess religion can be very healing.

I am so happy to be home.

Friday, December 12, 2014

Always Something

Tuesday night I started feeling not so great.  Some back pain, some abdominal pain.  General yuck.  During the night I was having severe back pain and figured I had a kidney stone.  I have had four of them in the past so I had a good sense of it.  Wednesday morning I started feeling nausea while taking a shower, stepped out and passed out on the floor.  But then I started feeling better so I figured the stone had moved to a less irritating place,

Thursday morning I called my urologist but they could only get me in in a week.  I really want some sense of where the stone was so I called my primary care doctor who got me right in.  But as soon as he poked and prodded, he didn’t think it has a stone.  He sent me for a CAT scan which quickly came back as a ruptured appendix.  Damn.

Martha came and picked me up, drove me to the emergency room,  and I was immediately put on high doses of antibiotics.   Today I had surgery to put in a drain and they tell me I will be here until Monday.  Then home with the drain and oral antibiotics.  For quite a while. And then, once it’s all cleaned up, another surgery to remove the faulty appendix.  

Perfect timing, of course, 2 weeks before Christmas, and 3 1/2 weeks before the trip I planned with my daughters.   Still, it’s easy to be grateful for the amazing medical care I have been receiving.  And health insurance.  This whole spin will cost me $75 out of pocket.

Anyway, I will try to catch up on blogs during lucid moments.  I’m not even going to proofread this as my eyes are at half staff.

Always something.

Tuesday, December 9, 2014

Full of Grace

Pain free pee.  I had the first UTI of my life, and wow, it was like peeing razor blades.  But after only two days on antibiotics, I was pain free again.  I will never take peeing for granted again.

The one day, "easy to install" kitchen floor which took us WEEKS to install is finally done. I don't think I've ever cursed as much or been so frustrated as I was doing this floor.   Nothing just "clicked" together. Every piece had to be muscled in. My hands are all banged up and my knees are swollen and sore. But I am happy with the result.  And very happy that its done.

My car inspection was over due. By a few months. Oops!  So grateful I noticed before any cops did. Especially the one I live with.  She would never let me hear the end of it.  

The ultrasound of my ovaries and uterus was all clear.   I have a high percentage of cancer recurrence and the most common recurrence is ovarian or uterine.   So this was very good news.

Thursday, December 4, 2014

Why me?

I have always been told I am a good listener.  I don’t think that’s because I have particularly good listening skills but because I don’t talk very much so that leaves a lot of room for others to fill up the void.

But today’s post is more a curiosity thing.   People feel compelled to tell me about their porn habits. I don't know why.  What is it about me that says ”please tell me about whatever weird, perverse, or incredibly personal thing you like to watch to get yourself off ”  ?

I had a blogging friend who loved to share with me her personal porn preferences.  I’m pretty sure I never even hinted that I would like to hear about it.  It started simple enough with her telling me about how much she enjoyed porn.  My only response was that I didn’t.  Then it escalated into her descriptions of how much she enjoyed double penetration porn.  I ignored it.  Then she followed with how much she loved gang bang porn.  I replied that that was a very triggering thing for me and that I would appreciate not hearing any more about it.  She replied that perhaps she had been less than sensitive, knowing my history, but she still continued with all these graphic explanations of how she got off on gang bang porn.  I finally let the relationship die.

Then in another corresponding relationship,  a woman began telling me how unhappy she was with her sex life.  Okay, that is probably a fair topic in a conversation.   I don’t know of anyone who is 100% happy all the time with their sex lives and I can listen and be sympathetic.   But then a little more story - her husband could not get an erection with her.  Hmm, okay, I am certainly no expert on the sexual dysfunction of males but I could listen.  And then the other shoe dropped.  Her husband could only get an erection with porn, which he watched constantly.   And then I got to hear all about the kind of dominatrix porn he needed to get himself off.  And that he loved wearing her lacy underwear and fish nets.  And this man was a priest!  Then it got worse and she offered to send me a video of them doing whatever it was they did together.  WTF???  When I politely declined her response was “not even the lesbians want to see me naked.”  

Yup, another relationship that bit the dust.

Does this happen to anyone else?  Is it something I am giving off like a pheromone that says please tell me all your sex secrets?

Years ago when I was a church goer, a new pastor was hired.  As a friendly gesture I invited her out to lunch.  It was the first time we spent any time together, I was little more than a stranger to her,  and she began to tell me that sometimes she got so horny she could hump a tree.  And she loved to watch lesbian porn.  How she managed to slip that in between “do you have any children” and “what’s the worse thing about being a pastor?”   I do not know.  But this seems to be my life.

I don’t consider myself a prude although I’m sure I am on the conservative side of sexual mores.  And I really am happy to be a sympathetic ear for other people’s problems.   But is it normal for people to just spill such lurid details of their sex lives?   I used to think that these people were just a little on the needy side but this happens to me so often I am beginning to think it is something I am doing.   

I am well aware of the male braggart who thinks he can change a lesbian into a straight woman by the power of his penis.  Through this blog I have received horrible emails offering sexual trysts.  This usually happens after I post something about the rape.  Do people think that rape survivors have some buried, unfulfilled sexual desires?   Maybe some different perspective that allows people  to spill all their sexual frustration and problems on them?  

Any opinions on this?  Am I just being a prude?  Why am I some pervert magnet?  And I’m not saying that I think that people who watch porn are perverts. But there is something odd, I think, about wanting to share your masturbatory habits with someone who obviously does not want to hear about it.

Any thoughts?  Advice?  Help?

Tuesday, December 2, 2014

Full of Grace

A lovely Thanksgiving - except for the Cowboys loss and I somehow missed the cranberry sauce when it was passed around.   But other than that a great day of food and laughter and family.

Sloppy kisses from a two year old.

Sipping Nutella hot chocolate (thanks Em) in a warm house and watching the snow fall.

And then warm temperatures.  We had gotten a foot of snow which I never got around to shoveling off the driveway because all my awake hours are spent on the kitchen.  But a couple of days of warm weather has taken care of it for me.

Ibuprofen.  This kitchen renovation is taking a serious toll on my body.  Ibuprofen and a sauna are the only thing enabling me to get up and moving in the morning.