Thursday, December 20, 2012
On November 30, I had my gallbladder removed. I had gallstones, and although attacks were once or twice per year since 2006, the one in July was a doozy, the worst, and the scariest, and it was time to do something about it. Being the waffler, the scairdy-cat, I had one excuse after another why I couldn't have the surgery just yet, but finally I had to bite the bullet and get the procedure scheduled.
Things always happen for a reason. It wasn't just my gallbladder that was in trouble. Blood tests showed my liver wasn't acting normally, and after the surgery, neither was my pancreas. After two days in hospital, I was scheduled for another procedure, an ERCP, where the surgeon inserts a scope down the esophagus and into the bile ducts. Apparently there was a stricture where the common bile duct empties into the intestine, so he inserted a small tube to keep the opening unblocked.
I was warned prior to this second procedure that 8% of patients develop pancreatitis from it. I'm in that 8% category now.
But wait! It gets even better.
The first surgeon wrote orders for morphine for pain management, and if I was allowed anything by mouth, then vicodin as well. This order was standing; after the ERCP I was in such horrid pain, they gave me morphine every 4 hours. It helped for about one hour, and then the vicodin meanwhile was a lifesaver.
The second surgeon never saw me after the ERCP so no new orders were written. I started to bloat up so badly, nothing helped with the pain. I walked as much as I could tolerate and then some, did belly rubs, whatever, and nothing helped. I finally told the first surgeon that I felt like I was getting worse. This, after being in hospital for 4 days now. Finally the second surgeon came to see me the evening of the 4th day, and was shocked to learn I was still on morphine for pain control. He said that morphine shuts down the intestinal tract's motility, and as a result I had developed ileus - build-up of fluid and air in my small intestine. Well, how was *I* supposed to know this? And how come the first surgeon didn't know this?
The second surgeon wrote up new orders cancelling the morphine, putting me on dilotid instead, and then making me entirely NPO, nothing by mouth whatsoever. Since Sunday morning, I had only had ice chips, water, and a tiny bit of juice.
I went through another 24 hours of intense pain, and let me tell you, the dreams when I did fall asleep were awful. I dreamt of pressure, pressure, pressure. It was like being in a grocery store, and people would come weigh their produce and the weight was added pressure in my belly somehow. I can't explain it but it was pretty awful. I prayed a lot. I asked for help, some relief, a change from this misery.
FINALLY. My intestines started acting again. It was a slow, laborious process, but all that back-up started to loosen and move along, and every hour was a trip to the bathroom to get rid of toxins and other things.
My lab results also finally started showing a downward trend in the liver and pancreas tests. I still hadn't had anything by mouth, and no desire to drink or eat anything, either.
On Friday, I started feeling hunger pangs. I talked to the surgeon and he said he would put me on liquids and see if I could keep it down, so I had tea, some juice, a little gel dessert thing. All small sips or bits, but it all stayed down, so Saturday he put me on "full liquid" diet. I asked for soymilk. Yum! That was like treasure! The hospital dietary department isn't equipped, surprisingly (for a California hospital in the rice, olives and nuts belt of the state), to serve a vegetarian special-needs population, and I had to be lactose free as well. I had a lot of tomato soup. It was the best thing next to sliced bread at the time!
Sunday I was allowed full diet. I did my best, but a couple of bites of food made me full, so I left an awful lot to waste. I drank a lot of water, though, and every meal I asked for soymilk.
At long last. Ten days later, I left the hospital. I took a vicodin, went shopping at Costco, then came home exhausted and hurting but happy to see my dogs. Friends had taken turns caring for them, and they were put through the ringer with the unstable life of fosters. I hope never to do this to them again.
I've been on sick leave since then, and every day now I have to force myself to eat. I put my day's fruit into a dish and that is what I have to finish by the end of the day. I've put up homemade soups in the freezer and every day I take a container out and that's what I have to eat by day's end. I have plain bread or crackers, lots of herbal teas, lots of water. Pancreatitis is nothing to mess with, and until I feel like mine is back to normal again, I just don't feel like eating. I know I've lost some weight, but I don't recommend this method to anyone at all. Some of the anorexia is due to the two episodes of anesthesia, and some is due to my pancreas still being unwell. I lost all desire for coffee, so now I drink Lady Grey tea with soymilk for my morning ritual. I may some day want coffee again, but for now, I'm going with the flow.
I go back to work next week, but Monday and Tuesday are all standby for me, as I am normally on call anyway. It will make an easier transition back to work, with my first regular day back being Wednesday.
Next week on Thursday I will have satellite internet installed, so all this frustration with local providers is coming to a blessed end. There are days I have to sign back on a minute after I did so, and then a minute after that, and so on for half an hour. Yes, it's that bad. If I'm quick enough I can open one email, but then have to go back into my email to delete that one. Then I have to go back in again to open the next one. Frustrating doesn't begin to describe it!
Life is good. I'm a pretty lucky girl. Things could have been a LOT worse especially given my tendency to put everything off as much as I can.
Most of all, I'm grateful for the prayers and positive thoughts sent my way these last few weeks. I can feel them working through me.
Sunday, August 26, 2012
"10 Habits of Unsuccessful Dieters
All the cookies you didn't eat, all the willpower you maintained, all the minutes you logged at the gym--so why aren't you losing weight? These bad habits may be to blame"
That's the blurb in one of my many emails from sparkpeople. I do not binge on cookies, and cookies are not the reason I am fat. In fact, I do not binge on sweets at all.
Why does sparkpeople continue to discriminate against people who don't fit the popular profile of the fat person?
I'm not fat because I don't have willpower. I have lots of willpower. I've been very strict as a vegetarian for nearly 35 years. Don't tell me that isn't willpower!!
I don't work out at a gym, or at all these days. Is that why I am fat? No, no it is not.
So what is this all about, sparkpeople? Why this continued myth about fat people? Shame on you!!! Of all the groups on the 'net that are designed to help people get and stay healthier for the rest of their lives, sparkpeople should be better than this.
Monday, May 21, 2012
I've lost count of my blessings, that is. I know the adage, "Count Your Blessings", but I stopped doing that. It's not a contest or a competition between which is more voluminous, one's blessings or curses or neutral events.
The truth is: no matter how bad something seems to be or seems to have been, there is ALways a blessing afterward. We are made stronger, or happier, or are impelled to seek the forward path. Even those who do nothing are often showered with one thing after another because the message is: do not stand still, do not close your eyes or your heart.
Well, I am moving finally. No more nasty neighbor across the street who allows his burn pile to smolder for days knowing and not caring that the smoke engulfs my present home and prevents me or my dogs from going outside for more than a few seconds at a time. No more listening to motorbikes zipping up and down my street. No more people walking along or biking along who yell at my dogs to "get out of here!" when MY dogs are HOME and THEY are NOT.
I'm moving to a house that sits on a meadow, and that meadow is open and undeveloped all the way to the lake. I'll still hear traffic but it will be more like the train that goes through here now, more soothing than irritating.
My job is safe again. With the new manager, I am staying full time, and my responsibilities are being restored. It takes time, and there are bumps along the way, but I am standing my ground because I have support when I am right. I'm sleeping better at night, and there is less stress in my life overall. I see my move as a Good Thing in many ways: I can jog along the causeway in the mornings because I will be only a few minutes from work; I can ride my bicycle to work on nice days; my dogs have over 50 acres of wetland meadow to romp and play and run; friends live close by; the house I'm moving to is larger and affords me a lot of creative freedom in furnishings and decor; there are already two established apple trees on the property and I can move my Pink Lady apple tree to her new permanent home with them... so many more blessings... I really can't count them all.
In the end, why should I bother trying to count them? I know I have been blessed. I sometimes had to crawl to get through that tunnel and there were moments I wasn't sure I'd make it to the other side, but I DID make it to the other side. There will be other tunnels and I will struggle to get through them as well. I will get through them.
Saturday, April 21, 2012
SparkPeople IT folks, please remove those stupid pop-up ads from my Sparkpage. They are irritating, aggravating, and interfere with what I'm doing, which is usually reading.
I do not need advertising shoved down my throat or smashed into my eyeballs, thank you very much. If I want to purchase something from Sparkpeople.com, I know where to look.
Please. I beg you. Take this crap off my Spark page.
Saturday, March 10, 2012
I bought a new bicycle this week. It was rather spur of the moment but I had been discussing the idea inside my head for some time. Sometimes one needs to buy impulsively, before the moment, the decision are lost and inertia takes over. So I now have a new bicycle.
Yesterday I bought a bicycle helmet. This morning I am going to ride to the grocery, buy some stuff, and ride home. Might add some distance to make it closer to 5 miles ride instead of 3. I can do that!
I also finally bought a used chest freezer, and it is sitting on the back porch, already holding stuff. It was near to impossible to cook for future lunches and suppers because I simply didn't have freezer space for everything plus the bulk supplies of nuts, coffee, etc. Now I do!
So life is improving slowly but surely. The New Year has become a certain change for the better. It's been a 180* change at work with the exit of the old, incompetent, sickly, nasty department manager who was about the worst excuse for a manager I have ever come across in my entire adult life.
More plans for change: a move to a more affordable home, incorporate more of the McDougall philosophy on diet for optimal health, increase exercise and frequency, better organize my life and clean out the clutter. And so on.
In a few days I get the stitches removed from the site where I had a huge plantar wart on my shin. It's been there for over 15 years, and it was simply time to quit prevaricating and get the thing cut OUT. Now it is gone, and I am thrilled with the healing process which has been no trouble at all. I can live with scars - have so many from childhood scrapes anyway - and a scar is much more subtle than a huge black wart bump.
I joined a weight management group at work, so I will be weighing in every week to two weeks. I don't plan to do anything differently, because my needs are so unique in the world of eating. A true OCD can't substitute, control portion, drink more water, etc. All I can do is remove the triggers, or find methods of defusing them, that's about it.
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