Thursday, June 07, 2012
CAUTION: Weak stomachs should skip this one. Photo at the bottom contains "graphic" material.
Today marks one week since my surgery. It hasn't been nearly as hellish as I was expecting, which as you can imagine is a huge relief. I'm not saying its been all that easy, either. Without my mom here, I'd have starved to death and probably had infected wounds from never taking the dressings off. Possibly still have not showered, either. Her help has been invaluable.
The day before my surgery, my friend came over and gave my hair a trim. He went just a little bit shorter than it was the last time I had it done (by my request). This turned out to be a fabulous decision because I was unable to wash my hair for 4 solid days. GROSS.
The night before I couldn't sleep, but I expected that. I was very anxious. I always get anxious when I have to wake up really early in the morning in general because I'm always afraid of oversleeping or not being woken by my alarm. As much as I try to relax and calm myself, it always happens. This time, that anxiety was mixed with my anxiety regarding surgery. My alarm went off at 4:45am, but I was already awake and planning my morning. I showered with my "special" soap- I'm guessing some sort of anti-microbial something or other. Threw on my "surgery pajamas" that I also wore when I got my wisdom teeth removed, and packed a little bag for my mom to keep in the car. We arrived at the hospital and I got checked in at 6am.
I changed into my hospital johnny, robe, anti-skid socks, and mesh underwear. They drew my blood and took my vitals. Then, I waited in the pre-surg room with my mom. We walked down to get me prepped. I got to lay down on a bed that had a big inflatable "blanket" on it. It looked like one of those blow-up loungers for a swimming pool, but it pumped warm air through it. Kept me pretty toasty while they prepped me. Since I couldn't eat or drink anything after midnight, I was pretty dehydrated and the nurse was having difficulty starting an IV in me. My shriveled-up veins wouldn't yield up any juice! It finally took my anesthesiologist to jab the top of my hand (the 4th location tried) to get it in there. Finally, they wheeled me to the OR, which looked very space age and intimidating. The last thing I remember is my buddy the anesthesiologist putting on oxygen mask on me. "Here's some oxygen for you." And I said, "Hey, thanks!"
Next thing I know, I'm waking up in recovery. I remember a nurse saying something to me, but for the life of me, I don't know what it was. I also was totally unable to see anything. My eyes were so blurry. Apparently they had put some sort of lubricant in them to keep them from drying out, but it was gooey, not liquidy. She handed me a tissue so I could wipe my eyes and I just started blinking non-stop to try to clear my eyes. Soon after they called my mom in and wheeled me to my room. My eyes were still so blurry I have no idea what my attending nurse looked like. My mom said the first thing I told her was that I couldn't see anything.
I got to my room, a shared one unfortunately, and just rested for a bit. I didn't feel any pain or nausea or anything, so that was good. I actually felt pretty good, as I recall. My friend Kaleena came by with a gift, but I was so out of it, I couldn't really muster up enough energy to talk to her much. Then the head nurse found out my mom was from out of town and if you're in a shared room, they don't let family stay with the patients overnight. So, they worked on getting me a private room, which was secured pretty quickly. They wanted me to walk there, though, but they had just given me a dose of dilaudid (synthetic morphine) and a lot of it, so literally 2 minutes before they were going to move me, I threw up. They got a wheelchair (I think, its a little fuzzy) and wheeled me to my new room. Private bathroom, lounge-chair for my mom, and a window. I was indeed blessed.
Later that day my other BFF and roommate showed up to visit and see how I was. That whole day I only felt tired and nauseated. I ended up throwing up again for my next round of dilaudid while she was there, but she took care of me. Emptied my spew container and washed me off, so my mom could take a restroom break/food run. I stayed on clear liquids that day, but was drinking water with ease. Peeing was awkward because my abs were pretty much numb and weird. I slept really bad, mostly because I kept being woken up every few hours for the nurses to take my vitals and draw blood and administer pain meds. My mom didn't sleep much either and the chair actually bruised the beejezus out of her arm.
The next day I had jello for breakfast, but ate half a turkey sandwich and some cucumbers and fruit for lunch. No problems! I was so surprised to be eating solid foods. I was discharged later that day and went home with my further care instructions. I was finally able to shower for the first time since Thursday morning on Sunday evening. My mom removed my dressings slowly and carefully (and very patiently). Just before I was wheeled into the OR, my surgeon said they'd be gluing me shut. We were surprised to learn I was actually stapled. I do not do well with "medical stuff". I hate hospitals (all my friends know to NOT call me if they have to go to the ER) and things like vomit, saliva, stitches, open wounds, staples, etc. make me queasy. My own stapled stomach makes me light-headed and ill to look at. I think I could have handled being glued a lot better than being stapled.
My mom got me a stuffed animal- a fat cat that looks like one of my cats from the past. I call him Tubby Tabby. I've spent a lot of time on my computer, watching things on Netflix, researching nutrition stuff, compiling healthy recipes for people, and looking up grad school things. I'm eating almost normally now, with a regular appetite. I'm on vicodin which is keeping pain at bay very well, but it miraculously not making me sick. I think it's a pretty low dose or a dose that works great for me. Staying hydrated and as positive as possible. I have my post-surgery appointment on Monday and hopefully will be getting my staples removed then. I hope so because my wounds are ITCHING LIKE CRAZY! I have to remember not to scratch 'cause that would obviously be really bad.
So far no pain from eating food, but my stomach is sour so I've been downing Tums between meals. I'm guessing that has to do with the vicodin, actually. I've always had a sensitivity to NSAIDS, so why wouldn't this be much different? I can't wait to be up and back to my normal routine, or at least exercising on the regular. I'll keep you all updated.
Sunday, May 27, 2012
So, its [now] 5 days away from my surgery. Thank goodness, too. I check in to the hospital at 6am on Thursday morning and my surgery should begin at 8am. I'd be lying if I said I wasn't nervous. Actually, I'm pretty terrified. As much as I've been "Yay, I'm having surgery!" and all, I really don't WANT to have surgery. It's a necessity and if I don't do it, my condition will only get worse. So, the ol' gallbladder has to go.
Surgery is just so... weird. I hate the idea of being put to sleep to have things done to me and then I wake up feeling like s***. I think its the lack of control that freaks me out the most. Once I'm asleep, I'm in someone else's hands... They'll see me naked. They'll be cutting me open and jamming things into me. They'll be filling my abdomen with a gas so they can expand my stomach to reach what they need to (how crazy creepy is that?!?!). They'll have some massage-y leg warmer things on me, so that'll be cool! But, really, it's all just a bunch of weirdness that I hate when you're put under for surgery. Also, that possibility that I won't wake up... *shudder*
So, these next few days will be spent getting me and my environment ready for post-surgery recovering. My friend has offered to come down and help me out with some cleaning and chores, and I'll probably take her up on that.
Yesterday was a nice day. I got to hang out with a friend of mine, whom I've been friends with since my freshman year in high school. She's three weeks away from giving birth to her first child- a girl- and its been an exciting time for everyone in her life. I get to be an "aunt"!!! I'm so excited! Did I mention the excitement?
Well, my usual modus operandi is to ramble on, so I think I'll stop with the hike I took with some wonderful Sparks from my local team. I had a blast and the company was unbeatable! If you ever get a chance to rally with members from Spark where ever you are, I highly suggest doing so. Its fantastic and I've made some amazing friends on here. Seriously, my journey to better health would be incomplete without their presence and support.
Here is a photo of the journey:
Lena (BEFIT_WITHGUSTO), me, Jocelyn (WOLFKITTY), and Leah (SPRING4FAL)
Photo by random stranger with Lena's camera
I posted more beautiful and fun photos of my hike at my blog!! (That's right, I FINALLY got something new up!) You can, and I highly encourage you to, go see:
Wednesday, May 16, 2012
Today marks the two weeks until I go under the chopsticky knife... or whatever... I have some reflections on the last two weeks and some thoughts on the upcoming two.
Firstly, my last blog did not mean to call anyone out and/or shame/guilt anyone. That's why I said initially that grief messes with your head- I didn't know what it was that was making me feel abandoned... I assumed it was just grief and it's effects. I don't think I articulated that very well in my blog, but that's really all I meant. Still, I want thank everyone that commented on that blog and let me know I was in your thoughts. That was very much appreciated by me.
This week is my official finals week of the semester. Thank goodness, too. I'm totally burned out this semester and am looking forward to a bit of a break. I won't be taking summer school, as my college is not offering it (ahhh, California's budget slashes...) I had a final already a week ago in my Diet Therapy class. I'm pretty sure I did really bad on it. No, really, I'm not just saying that. And I did pretty poorly in that class all semester. It was 8a.m. and a struggle for me every morning (I'd wake up already in pain frequently), so I missed a lot of classes, plus I was bored of the material (pretty much a repeat of the other 6 classes I've already taken), and I was taking 3 other classes. All in all, with the amount of effort I put into the class (hovering in the 10% range) and the grades I got on my tests, I'd say I'd have been lucky to pull off a D. Checked yesterday to find I got a B. Now, I think that was just very generous of my teacher. No, really. If I had been my student, I woulda been like, "Pfffft! This jackass didn't do SQUAT in this class!" and I wouldn't have passed me. But, I did take the initiative early in the semester to tell her about my medical problems, plus I am in the DSS certificate program and she's in charge of it. Also, this class is required for my certificate. I think she took pity on me and gave me a passing grade... and a good one, at that.
I have two more finals to work on for this week. I'm doing a project which should actually be for the Diet Therapy class, but instead is for my Advanced Nutrition class... I'm writing a small research paper on the DASH diet and it's effectiveness treating hypertension. The last two times I've had my blood pressure taken, it's been in the pre-hypertensive range (even after I've lost some weight), so this paper has been really helpful. And, to be honest, the DASH diet would be a healthy diet for ANYONE to follow. And the other final is for my Commercial Cooking class, the most useless, but fun, class I've taken to date. Our instructor is supposed to e-mail us a study guide for our test on Friday. Here it is, already Wednesday, and my inbox is empty... That's a good testament to how reliable the instructor(s) have been in this class all semester. The only reason I'm even in the class is it's required for the DSS certificate. We have had no written assignments, no written tests, and only about 5 hours of lecture this entire semester. So, in order for us to take this written exam for this class, we really need his study guide, as our actual learning of anything in this class was extremely limited.
My activity level of late has more or less dropped off, as I'm spending so much time on tests and homework. But, I am staying fairly active in the meantime, with non-traditional exercises. I mowed the lawn on Sunday and it was much easier last time (regular maintenance for the win!) and I got a pretty good workout in, between emptying the clippings bag, cutting back some weeds, trimming the bamboo patch that I hate, and watering the lawn and plants. I enjoyed it. I'm keeping busy in that way, but haven't really gotten a good workout in. Maybe I will, maybe I won't. I'm not going to pressure myself this month.
My eating has been fair. I've cooked a few wonderful meals this month that were delicious and pretty healthy. I made posole for Cinco de Mayo and loaded it with cabbage, radishes, grilled onion, and deliciousness. So, so tasty! Then, I made a vegan ratatouille with tempeh. I was surprised at how good the tempeh was! I wasn't sure I'd like it. The whole dish was fabulous and I ate the leftovers on top of whole wheat pasta the next night. Then, a few days ago, I made chicken maison, which is essentially a chicken cooked with carrots and potatoes (at least in my version). It was very tasty and healthy as well. I actually took pics of that process for my blog, so as soon as I'm done with finals, I'll be updating that. It's been a while, but I haven't been motivated lately to do a full out recipe, photograph it, and write it up. In fact, this one will probably turn into two separate posts because I started with a whole chicken and had to cut into pieces. So, one technique post and one recipe post. Look forward to that!
Vegan Ratatouille w/ Tempeh and garlic bread (sorry for the fuzziness)
I had my pre-op ultrasound yesterday. It was quick, painless, and not unpleasant. I didn't even have to take off my clothes. Word. I did have to take a bus and it seems like waiting for buses defined my day yesterday. I missed the bus I intended to take by less than 1 minute, literally. I was crossing the street when it pulled up at the stop around the corner, but had already pulled away and left by the time I got to the stop itself. So, that meant a 15 minute wait. Then, I got to my second stop and had to wait for the next bus. All told, I was 10 minutes late to my appointment. I'm someone who likes to be punctual, so this was bothering me. I had to fast before my appointment so I was really hungry and thirsty all morning. After my appointment I rushed to the bus and waited for it to come. I was famished at this point (almost noon). I took the bus to UCSD's campus and realized it was their farmer's market day, so I walked to the center of campus and grabbed some lunch. I chose wisely- I had a giant cup of fruit, which had watermelon, jicama, cucumber, and mango, topped with lime juice and chili powder. YUM! I also had a prosciutto and mozzarella panini, but was so full from my fruit, I only ate half. And of course, I guzzled a bottle of water. Then, I went to wait, again, for the next bus to take me home. I swear, if this city would put a little more funding on the transportation system to make it more reliable, useful, and accurate, more people would use it. Invest in it, for goodness sakes, San Diego!!!
The upcoming two weeks I don't know what will bring. I have a BBQ planned for Saturday with some friends. And I'm hoping to do a Spark Rally of some sort on Sunday. I sort of initiated it, so I guess I should be the one taking the helm, but between homework and surgery prep, I fell by the wayside on that. :-S So, I guess we'll see. The rest of the time will be spent getting things ready for surgery. Getting supplies and cleaning and whatnot. So, I'll keep ya'll updated...
Wednesday, May 02, 2012
Well, its that time where I review last month (gulp!) and plan for this month. Let's just get this over with.
I'll start with what I did successfully. I made it passed 500 fitness minutes for the month, but just barely. At least I did it, but it was quite a struggle.
Okay, that about covers it. Out of 10 goals, I got one done. I didn't track food and water, I didn't stick to my unhealthy with healthy rule, I hardly ate homecooked meals, I almost never ate breakfast, and I still struggled to stay on top of my schooling. I didn't use each piece of fitness equipment I own, I didn't do different cardio, I didn't integrate more toning/ST, and I definitely didn't blog weekly on my other website.
What. Went. Wrong. Lots of things. My spring break began the first week of April, and though I was out of town, didn't do too bad. Didn't exercise as much as I wanted, but I ate fairly good. Then, my uncle passed away and all the confusing emotions that went along with that. And my aunt found out her cancer metastasized to her brain. Add some more scoops to the emotions. Sadness for the family I never met, the family I loved, and the rest of us who are left to feel the hurt. This month was full of craptastic emotions that I didn't know what to do with.
But, I guess grief does that. It also messes with your head quite a bit. When I blogged about my sadness and grief on April 12 (A Rocky Start) I only had 5 wonderful Spark friends say something to me. That's the least amount of comments I'd gotten on a blog since November. A blog about personal pain and grief and I have to say, I felt abandoned by the Spark community. I know death and grief and whatnot are extremely uncomfortable subjects to deal with and talk about. Doubly hard is when it's someone you don't really know all that well. But, people who are grieving need nothing more than to know someone is thinking about them and possibly praying for them. That's all I needed.
Just when I started to pull myself out my slump, sorta, my grandmother gets into a wicked bad car accident. Her car is totaled. The front end is mangled, like an accordion leading up to the firewall. She had an angel riding with her though because she ended up with a few pretty bad bruises (namely from the seatbelt) and a few cuts and scrapes. A woman well into her 70's all but walked away from the crash! Luckily for her, the other driver is at fault, so the insurances can fight out the deets and she can get a new car. Which will make finances tight for the both of us. As if they weren't tight enough already. Scoop back on those emotions.
In the month of April I should have heard from the flunkies at my surgeon's office. I don't know what this person does all day that prevents her from calling and scheduling surgeries and then letting patients know when their date is. Her title is "Scheduler". Somehow, this person isn't able to even do that. Here I am, 11 business days after my appointment and I still don't have a date set for The Big Chop-Chop. And yes, actually, I have called to find out what the deal is. Still haven't gotten a call back. *Fumes*
And today, though not actually April, but just a continuing theme of crappiness, I discover that my DSS practicum will probably be at a facility that isn't anywhere near me. SWELL. Should be really easy getting to and from there without a car. Good thing the bus system here sucks so it'll be really hard to deal!
I'm make no apologies for my mood. I still feel grief, stress, sadness, emptiness, loneliness and fat. I'm allowed to feel like that for now. I need to finish school cuz it's really burning me out. Then, I can deal with the rest of it.
So, for the month of May, I've decided to not have any goals. For all I know, I'll be having surgery by the end of it, so I'd only have a few weeks to accomplish goals anyway. Coupling that with finals... No. No, thank you. My broad "goal" for the month is to work on being as healthy as I can before going under the chopstick-like knife. Eating well and healthy, exercising when I can, listening to my body tell me when it's tired or in pain, and just getting myself mentally in a better place. That's it. I'll keep my April goals posted and see if I can get motivated enough to do any of them. But, no pressure if that doesn't happen.
Thursday, April 12, 2012
This month hasn't gone nearly as well as last. I'm not letting that deter me, but for the moment, I'm just going with the flow until things "level out", so to speak.
It didn't help that spring break began right at the beginning of April, but if it hadn't, I might have begun a good thing only to get derailed part-way through. And it wasn't like I had the most relaxing spring break, either. It was nice to see my family... at least, what I did see of them. Upon my arrival, my mom, baby brother, and sister-in-law were all sick. The only person that wasn't was my middle bro. While I don't want anyone being sick, it sort worked out for me because I got to spend way more time with my midbro. He's a computer gamer nerd, so usually when I visit, I hardly see him since he's glued to his screen. We hit his gym once during the week, ran a bunch of errands, sat at Starbucks and sipped coffee. It was nice.
Luckily, I also did the majority of the dinner cooking when I was there. Normally my baby bro and SIL do the cooking, with my mom jumping in occasionally, but I did it pretty much. Which meant I had control of what I made, what went in to the food, and whether or not it was healthy. BOOYAH! There's a tip for you right there, folks. If you're ever worried about nutrition when you visit someone, just take the reigns yourself!
Unfortunately, I was only able to hit a gym twice during the week. I would have gone for a walk outside, but if you think my allergies are bad here in San Diego! I'm so allergic to my hometown!!! And the wind was blowing, and its dusty (as deserts are), and it hasn't rained, and everything's in bloom... Also, my shin splints have been acting up, so a sidewalk would not have worked for me. And it was already in the upper 80's and 90+ degrees out on various days when I was there. I hate the heat. HATE IT. That desert gets to be 115-120 degrees in the summer. I like the milder, colder weather of San Diego much, much better, so when it hits anything above 78, I get cranky. Outdoor exercise was not an option. Indoors would have been more viable, but my baby bro has turned a good chunk of the living room into a music studio, so there's much less space then there used to be. Also, they have hardwood floors. I'm glad I was able to go at least twice to the gym... better than nothing, I suppose, but I would have liked to workout 5-6 days when I was there.
It was also a pretty rough week as far as everything else goes. My uncle passed away from lung cancer. He wasn't even a smoker, either. This one is a little tough for me, though. I never met my uncle. Never talked to him, nothing. So, I don't really feel all that sad. I feel sad that my dad's a little sad about losing his BIL. I feel sad that my aunt lost her husband and that my grandmother lost her SIL. I feel sad that someone in our family has died and that someone has died a pretty unpleasant death in general. I guess when someone dies, we feel like we should be in full-grief mode. I'm not. I don't know how I should be feeling, really. It was rather sudden, too, although not unexpected. He has been living at a facility so he could be receiving round-the-clock care and finally it got to the point where they couldn't do anything more. So, they sent him home. It wasn't long after that he passed.
While all this is going on, my aunt (his wife), whom I have met and enjoyed visiting with when she'd come see my grandmother and my father and my family, has discovered that HER cancer has spread to her brain. She was initially diagnosed with breast cancer and had a double mastectomy. She was doing okay after, but then it was discovered she had cancer in her lymph nodes. The last report I had heard was that she was also doing okay thereafter, but the latest news that it is now in her brain seems to say otherwise. Her prognosis is rather grim, I'm sad to say. Once again, my dad will most likely be losing another member of his family, we'll be losing another member, and my poor, frail, aging grandmother will be dealing with the grief of losing a child before she goes. For all of this, and more, I'm terrifically sad.
Since being back in San Diego, I've had to play some catch-up regarding school mostly. I got back a day later then I intended (spring break should never end with Easter) and had a big test in my leadership class on Wednesday, so I had a few assignments to turn in online prior to that. And, of course, I woke up on Wednesday, test day, with several things going on. The weather outside was nasty. It was crazy windy out and raining like mad! There was no way I was going to walk in that ugliness for 15 minutes to school unless I wanted to be soaked to the bone. Worse, though, was I had the most painful sinus pressure imaginable! It felt like my face was trying to blow my eyeballs out of their sockets. How's that for a visual? It hurt so, so bad! I even had a little bit of light sensitivity and nausea. So, odd, as I rarely get symptoms like that with headaches and migraines. Anyhow, I took a bunch of stuff and went back to bed. I got up, did some more studying, dragged my carcass to school (it was now dry and sunny out) and aced my test. I was the first one to turn it in, too. Crazy! I sat through the rest of class, but it was a struggle. The pain in my face was making it difficult to concentrate and to even see. I need glasses to begin with, but can't afford them right now, so I'm without. The notes my instructor was writing on the board were so blurry, I could hardly see what was written. Luckily she reads them out loud before she expands on them, so I was able to type it all up. Normally I don't have that much trouble seeing the board, so I'm guessing it was related to this face-ache. I also haven't been grocery shopping since being back here in San Deezy, so I have very little to eat and what I have isn't the most healthy, so I've been eating out. My body is feeling it, too. I am not feeling so hot. Maybe that's part of the pressure headache.
I've already mentioned that I have an appointment with my surgeon on Tuesday. We'll be discussing what's going to go down and when for this stupid gallbladder, so I'll keep you updated. In relation to this, but not really, I want to join this gym that's sort of near my house, but I'm kind of conflicted. They offer a student discount, so its really super cheap for me to join! My problem is I have to sign a year contract to get the discount and otherwise I wouldn't be able to afford it. But, with this surgery, I'll probably be unable to workout for at least a month, if not two (assuming they can do the laproscopy) and I don't want to pay for months I won't be using, ya know? Also, its only a 15 minute walk away, but the primary reason I want to go to this gym is to use the cardio equipment. But, I'll be getting 30 minutes of cardio just getting to and from the place, so is it even worth it? Shin splints worry me, too, with this as I want access to the treadmills and ellipticals so that I don't have to deal with them. But, 30 minutes on a sidewalk in gym transport means they'll probably rear their ugly heads, right? And I'm not much of a weight machines girl unless I have a trainer guiding me through them, so I don't know how much weight training I'd actually do at the gym. They also have classes that I'm interested in taking, that are free with the membership, so I'd probably take advantage of that a few times a week, too. I'm not sure what to do about this.
So, for now, I'm going to listen to my body, get some really good food in it, and start working on my goals for this month. I had 1,011 fitness minutes last month. I don't want to end this month with only the 142 I currently have. I can and will do better than that!
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