KARBIE18   40,771
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KARBIE18's Recent Blog Entries

Still Alive and Well

Thursday, December 06, 2012

So, itís been a while. Survived my second surgery, and recovered quickly. A little too quickly, actually. While I was encouraged to move as much as possible after my pancreas surgery, I was forbidden to move much at all after the hysterectomy. It was a bit tricky, since I felt greatÖ.not that Iím complaining. Feeling great feels great!

Shortly after the second surgery school started. I was apprehensive about going back to work, after being off since April, but it went even better than I could have imagined. Iíve got a tricky group, with some very low students, but overall, theyíre fairly well behaved, and thatís half the battle.

Between work, home, finances, and fitness, though, itís always a challenge to keep the balance I crave. I have moments when I feel like Iím barely keeping all the plates in the air, but, overall, I feel like Iím doing pretty darn well. I turned 50 in October, feel better than ever, and am thrilled to say Iíve maintained this healthy lifestyle for five years now. How cool is that?!
Hereís a picture from my birthday party - still at goal weight, but needing to firm up a bit.

So, after the party, I had a bit of a setback. I was still moving regularly, eating healthy meals and snacks, but had a few weeks where I was bingeing on sweets at work. When I noticed my pants getting tighter, I decided pretty darn quickly that I had better take some action. I upped my water, and I arranged with the school nurse to have a weigh-in every Wednesday. A little extra hydration and accountability was all it took, and Iíve been binge-free for 35 days!

Last week I got a puppy. I am totally in love, and getting her is undoubtedly the best thing that I could have done for my health. Besides all the activity I am getting, she keeps me laughing, and that, as you know, is the best medicine.

Oh, and did I mention Iím back to playing my guitar? When I was sick, it just seemed like such an effort. Recently I found some great online lessons, and am actually making some progress. Itís become a joy once again!

Life rocks!

  Member Comments About This Blog Post:

BILLB000 12/10/2012 10:44PM

    Love your ability to recognize when you need to get back on track. I admire all your resourcefulness in knowing what to do at the moment.

Great to read a positive blog, in spite of all you have had to contend with.

God bless you in your journey.

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FIT_TERI 12/8/2012 4:27PM

    Good to hear that you're doing so well. And that you recognized and corrected the behavior that was causing the clothes to be snug.

Love your puppy!!!!

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AZIMAT 12/8/2012 8:35AM

    Thanks for the update. Sounds like you're doing well. Congrats on the puppy, we love our Husky.

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SWEETZMIX 12/7/2012 3:10PM

    So glad you are doing great! And your puppy is super cute!

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JLITT62 12/6/2012 7:47PM

    And you rock too! Enjoy the puppy - boy it goes so fast. You look great & good for you for facing the music when the clothes got tight. Mine are a bit snug right now with all the good food but it'll come off pretty quickly when I get home & back into my normal routine.

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YOBOELI 12/6/2012 6:15PM

    Good Luck hope you are feeling better and can get back to doing what you like to.

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Still in the Game!

Friday, July 06, 2012

Iím not much of an athlete, and never really appreciated Jonathan Rocheís (one of my favorite podcasters) sports analogy until the last couple months. But, suddenly, it became my mantra. ďAs long as Iím still in the game.Ē Canít have solid food? Nope, but I can drink my water and work on staying positive. Canít have fat? Nope, but I can still eat Greek yogurt to get my protein, and eat as many fruits and veggies as possible. Canít do intense aerobics? Nope, but I can walk and do light gardening. One month after my pancreas surgery, Iím feeling good, and all because of habits I developed here at SP, and because I made sure to keep myself ďin the gameĒ.

Recovery was harder than I expected. Iíve always had a pretty high tolerance for pain, but oh my! I could finally eat, but I had no appetite, and food tasted funny. Water had a strange metallic taste, so it was hard to get down. Most people who have pancreas surgery lose 15-30 pounds, and, since I was already at my goal weight and against quick weight loss, I was determined not to be one of them. So, I focused on quality over quantity, and somehow managed to keep my weight steady. I had a drain in my side Ė a hole and a plastic tube sticking out, where blood and other nasty stuff oozed out into a bag. It was disgusting, and it messed with my head. Fortunately, Kevin took care of it for me, because the one time I looked at it, I had a panic attack of epic proportions, and after nearly passing out numerous times, spent the rest of the afternoon sleeping it off. The drain caused some medical problems as well, eventually sending me to the ER, leading to a blood infection scare that also messed with my head. But, last week the drain was removed, the blood retest and path reports came back negative, and all of my wounds are just about healed. The point here is, I am stronger than I thought, and despite the difficulties, I made the best choices I could.

My doctor told me that the more I moved the better Iíd feel, but I couldnít bend, twist, or lift more than ten pounds. So the day after I got home from the hospital, I committed myself to a fitness challenge (Thanks, Ducky!), and promised myself at least 30 minutes of walking/gardening every day. On the bad days, I had to force myself to do it - Iíd have to promise myself only five or ten minutes at a time, but I got it done. I was able to quiet my negative voice (the one that told me I was losing my muscle tone, and that my lack of intensity wasnít good) by telling myself I was still in the game, that everything counts. And it does!
So, here I am, still at my goal weight, and feeling great. I have been cleared to do ďanything that doesnít hurtĒ. I just added ST back into my routine, and am keeping myself off my butt as much as possible. Today I will walk before it gets hot, and then try some yoga. (Last week I tried the plank pose, and let me just say OY! But I think Iím ready to give it another shot.) Iím trying to be gentle with myself, and to add things gradually, so next week I plan to add some fast walking intervals to my walks (no running intervals until six weeks). My next surgery (the hysterectomy) has been rescheduled for July 23rd, and, by then, I plan to be as strong and healthy as I can possibly be!

-I feel great! No pain meds since last Friday!
-The support I have received throughout this physical challenge has left me with no doubt that I matter.
-My air conditioner works well! Dang, itís hot out there.
-My husband went grocery shopping, and my cabinets and fridge are full of healthy, tasty foods I am allowed to eat! Thankfully, my taste buds are back to normal.
-I do not have cancer. Although I had been assured of this earlier on, my surgeon was suspicious.
-I no longer have a drain in my side. Ugg.
-I am incredibly thankful for all of my SP friends who have sent messages, goodies and emails. Bless you all!!

  Member Comments About This Blog Post:

JMARIES51 7/19/2012 1:52PM

    Karen, I have been following you on FB, but decided to come back to Spark. It is just easier for me to track, etc.

I am thinking that you are getting close to hysterectomy time, no? I sure hope your recovery is easy and you are able to gain your strength back quickly. What a journey? You are so inspirational. And Kevin deserves a medal for his caregiving. Lots of love an hugs, my friend. Joann emoticon

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TEENY_BIKINI 7/8/2012 3:49PM

    Thanks for the update. Your attitude and approach are inspiring.

You are, indeed, in the game - and winning.



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LESLIES537 7/7/2012 5:00PM

    Bless your heart! Your strength and positivity are inspiring. You are still very much in the game!! emoticon emoticon emoticon

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JLITT62 7/6/2012 12:20PM

    I am SO glad you updated us! And I am, as always impressed - but not surprised! - by your hard work.

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JUSTDUCKY1405 7/6/2012 12:08PM

    So happy to read this. You sound great.

And... of course you matter!!!

Love you so much and you handled this amazingly.

And you're most welcome! I was very impressed you joined and did so well. Again, you are a great inspiration!

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FIT_TERI 7/6/2012 10:16AM

    Gosh, that sounds like quite the ordeal, Karen. I'm so glad you're feeling better and getting stronger. How nice for you to learn that you're stronger than you thought you were. And I agree with MAZZYR - your determination is inspiring!

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MAZZYR 7/6/2012 10:02AM

    Oh Karen, I'm so glad you're feeling better.

I love hearing that you're Still in the Game! Thank you for sharing your experience. Your determination is inspiring.


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EARTHSEAME 7/6/2012 9:36AM

    emoticon I'm so glad to hear you are feeling better. Congratulations on your determination and good choices!

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If Today Was Your Last Day

Wednesday, May 23, 2012

That is the title of one of my favorite songs, but also something I've been thinking about.

I had the pleasure of meeting one of my Spark friends yesterday, CJRomb. She and I are Facebook friends as well, and are in several of the same FB groups together, along with my husband. We've all gotten close (as close as people who've never met can get) so, yesterday, since she was passing through on her way back from Wisconsin,we made arrangements to meet her in a nearby town. After five years of "knowing" her, it was so nice to finally meet her in person.

Anyway, I tend to get nervous before social situations, and yesterday afternoon was no exception. But I realized that, meeting her was something I'd wanted to do for a very long time, something that I would regret missing.....something that would be on my bucket list if I had one.

When I last blogged, I was waiting to get the MRI done. It showed some kind of mass, either a stone or a polyp. The specialist sent me to Northwestern, downtown Chicago, to have something called an endoscopic ultrasound done. It turns out, there is no stone or polyp, but the tail of my pancreas is significantly diseased, and one of the drains was blocked. The good news is, the head looks perfect. The doctor gave me several options, but the only one that makes sense is to have part of my pancreas removed. He said he is fairly sure there is no cancer, but it's so bad he can't say for certain, and removal would eliminate that doubt. We met with the surgeon last week, and it seems, since the pancreas and spleen share a vascular system, I have to have my spleen removed as well. If we don't, apparently it will die from lack of blood. Surgery is scheduled for June 6th, and in the meantime, I get to eat solid food! I have to eat EXTRA lowfat, but I can't express how happy I am to be able to chew again! And so far so good on the pain scale. I haven't had to take a pain pill in a week! And now that I've upped my calories, I'm gaining strength. Yoga, light gardening, and easy walking are my pre-op goals. I'm also working on my breathing again, because, though I am doing fairly well, I can't help but have moments of panic. I'm losing organs at an alarming rate!!

So anyway, while I was waiting to meet up with CJ, I started thinking about that bucket list idea and I realized that I couldn't think of a single thing to put on there. I've got a fabulous relationship with a wonderful man, a kind, beautiful daugher, the love and support from countless friends and family, a fulfilling career, and a roof over my head on land I love. I have it all. If today was my last day, I can't think of anything that I'd regret not doing. Nothing momentus anyway.

  Member Comments About This Blog Post:

LESLIES537 5/25/2012 1:51AM

    So great that you got to meet CJ! Kudos to you for stepping out of your comfort zone. I am the same way with social interactions!

Continued prayers and lots of love,

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SWEETZMIX 5/24/2012 6:42PM

    I have been keeping up with you on FB. And I am glad you have options and you are being proactive about your health. It's still scary! But I am keeping my spirits up for you. And I love it when I meet a spark friend. It's like an old friend you have known for years, but you really don't know them....you know what I mean??

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JLITT62 5/24/2012 5:16AM

    I'm so glad you can eat solid food! You are allowed to panic a little- this is definitely scary - but I have faith you will come thru all this even stronger thsn before.

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FRITOGYRL 5/23/2012 10:27PM

  You have such a positive attitude about this...that is amazing to me. My boyfriend is diabetic, and being someone who until 3 days ago lived on sugar, I can't even begin to imagine how he just shrugs it off the way he does. I think, after reading this blog, I'm beginning to understand it a bit better. Good luck on your surgery, and may you never think of a single thing to add to your bucket list!

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FIREFLY_MEDIC 5/23/2012 10:26PM

    It is nice to know that you have it all there are so many that do not realise how well they have it.
That said I hope that you recover and feel like a million dollars to enjoy all you have for many many more years to come.

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Prayers Needed

Sunday, April 29, 2012

Funny how life works. I had finally calmed down and accepted my upcoming hysterectomy, and gotten back in the Sparkgroove, when I started having stomachaches. I've had a nervous stomach most of my life, so I didn't think anything of it at first. The pain would come and go, and mostly occured in the evening at first, but by last Monday it was constant. So with only a little push from Kevin, I finally went to the critical care place. The doctor told me it was likely an ulcer, but possibly pancreatitis, drew some blood, and told me they'd give me a call.

So, I went home, and in typical fashion, did some research. Found out ulcers are actually usually caused by a bacteria, and treatment would be no big deal. Then I looked up pancreatitis. Yikes! Decided right away that it must be an ulcer, because pancreatitis was scary, and didn't always turn out well.

Tuesday, I'm just about to leave for a field trip, and I get a call from the doctor, and it's definitely pancreatitis. I listen in a panic, as they tell me to follow a liquid diet only, and to head to the ER immediately if my pain gets much worse, or my fever goes up over 100. They want me to follow up with my regular doctor in a few days. I told them I do not have a regular doctor, so they tell me to get in touch with my gynecologist, because they recommended an ultrasound, anyway, and my gyn might even be willing to treat it, or refer me to a specialist. Needless to say, I didn't go on the field trip.

The gynecologists office was happy to refer, and by some miracle got me an appointment for Friday, but needed to see me first, so squeezed me in that afternoon. Dr. Gratkins asked me some questions, then said he wanted me to return on Thursday to get more bloodwork to see if my enzyme numbers had changed (the enzymes that were literally destroying my pancreas) after two days on the liquid diet, and to get the ultrasound, BEFORE I see the specialist, so at least that would be done. He said he couldn't give me anything for the pain, though, because he didn't want to tax the pancreas any more I love them there, and trust them completely, so at least I felt like I was in good hands.

Thursday, I go back and get the ultrasound. My pancreas doesn't look great, and my gallbladder shows some scarring but no stones or thickening. The key to this disease is to find the cause before the pancreas is destroyed, so I was actually hoping for a gallbladder problem, since that, and alcohol, are the typically the two main causes, and alcohol is out. They told me I could pick up my bloodwork on the way to my specialist appointment on Friday.

Friday, I picked up the bloodwork, and it looks much better. My lipase, which is supposed to be at 59 was 359, but it had been an extremely scary 2,500. The specialist was nice, and patient, and I felt comfortable with her. She was suspicious about the scarring on my gallbladder - said the only thing that could have caused it was stones. Since, like I wrote, alcohol and gallbladder are the two major causes of pancreatitis, she ordered an MRI-type test to get a closer look at both the gallblader and pancreas. The scheduler told me she had to get approval from my insurance company, then the hospital would call me with the info. She expected me to hear from them that day, but no such luck. Anyway, she also wants me to have a test for an auto immune problem that is known to cause it, as well. I have to call my regular doctor on Monday to schedule that, as they were closed by the time I left the specialist's office. I'm still on liquids only, and have been ordered to rest, but as long as I stay hydrated, don't experience increased pain or fever, or start vomiting, I get to stay at home rather than being hospitalized. She said it's very rare that this condition is treated outpatient, so I am grateful. Plus she gave me pain meds, so I am good.

Kevin thinks, if we had gone to the ER instead of critical care, the diagnosis would probably be done, and treatment or surgery would already be underway. Maybe he's got a point. But, I'm happy to stay home as long as I can. I won't hesitate to go in if I have to, though.

I'll admit, I have serious moments of panic. I especially freaked out when I realized the chicken broth I've been eating to sustain myself only has 10 calories a cup. I figured that a couple of those days I ate only 300 calories or so. Kev reminded me that eating is more dangerous to me than not eating, but I'm afraid that, if this drags on too long, I won't be strong enough to fight it, or to recover from surgery properly. I'm going to call the specialists office again about the diet. She said clear liquids, and to especially avoid fat, so I'm going to see if I can put applesauce or cream of wheat in the blender...anything to coat my stomach and increase the nutrients/calories.

So that's my story. I'm saying my prayers, and can use all the prayers I can get.

-I am home, my favorite place to be.
-My husband has been wonderful in every way.
-I have been showered with love and prayers by all my 3D and FB friends.
-I have 100% covered by insurance.
-I have over 200 sick days accumulated, and my boss has been wonderful. I went in Wednesday to prep for a sub for Thursday and Friday, and they found me a long term sub for the rest of the year if I need it. I've been mentoring a woman all year who has a masters in special ed. She's been teaching two classes, and an aide the rest of the day. She is a certified teacher, and has worked with most of my students, and is even capable of doing all my paperwork. They are getting a sub for her, so she can stand in for me. What a relief!!
-The pain has decreased with the enzyme numbers (it was like labor without the prize), but even when it's bad, I have the pain meds.
-I don't have to worry that all this lying around will lead me to gain weight.

  Member Comments About This Blog Post:

SWEETZMIX 5/6/2012 7:08PM

    I have been following you on FB. Everything will fine Karen. I am keeping you in my prayers!

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PCOH051610 4/29/2012 3:59PM

    Our mutual friend Leslie asked for prayers for you...they are headed your way as I type!

I must say you write rather calmly and matter of factly which is so admirable considering what you are going through.

Thinking of you and wishing they find out what is causing all of this as soon as possible


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LESLIES537 4/29/2012 3:36PM

    Thank you for the update, I've been a worryin' about you, girl!! Keeping you held high in prayer!! emoticon emoticon

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PEACEFULONE 4/29/2012 12:57PM

    You are in my prayers for a speedy and painless resolution to these health problems. God bless you.

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FIT_TERI 4/29/2012 12:57PM

    Oh wow, Karen. I hope they can quickly and effectively treat this so that you don't continue to be in pain. I like that you end your post with the gratitude list. It must be helpful to remember those. Prayers and hugs to you.

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JAIRIE813 4/29/2012 10:12AM

    So sorry for everything you are going through. Hopefully they pinpoint the exact problem quickly and get you better. Stay positive! I hope you feel better really soon!!

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JLITT62 4/29/2012 10:04AM

    Big,big prayers! I'm so glad you're able to be at home right now. I know this must be do scary, but you are such a strong person - I have every faith you will get thru this.

Apparently I've got your fever - is that like got your back? Actually, it's finally better today.

Doesn't matter whether treatment would've been faster if you'd gone to the ER, cause it is what it is. Sounds like you're handling it well.

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VALERIEMAHA 4/29/2012 9:35AM

    Ohhhhhhh...I understand your concern and anxiety, dear one...life on the earth plane with these material bodies can be so stressful...and you've got MUCH more than your share right now.

I love how you are looking with clear lucidity at how to take care of yourself through this. For what it's worth, people fast for weeks at a time without dire consequences, so perhaps you can look at your low intake right now through that lens. I understand your concern about having immune strength of course. Are you/can you take supplements during this time? If so, I'd get some super duper food grown vitamins during this period (New Chapter comes to mind off the top of my head -- http://www.newchapter.com/ )

I'll be praying/sending up mantra for you!

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JUSTDUCKY1405 4/29/2012 9:18AM

    Another good thing... you get to spend more time here with us.

Wow Karen.

So sorry to hear all you've been painfully experiencing. I can't imagine what you've been feeling or going through.

All my prayers and love my friend.

P.S. Did you know that you were the first SparkFriend I ever told openly that I love? I don't just say that to just anyone.

So you have to take really good care of yourself.

Love you!

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Top Ten Reasons Why My Situation Could Be Worse

Wednesday, April 11, 2012

If you read my blog yesterday, you know that I have to get a hysterectomy. I've been a bit freaked out about it, and, because I'm a control freak, I've been reminding myself incessantly of all the reasons why it's not that bad. Maybe if I get it in print, it will stop swimming in my head. So, here's my list, in no particular order:

1. This is not an emergency surgery, so I can schedule it for a convenient time.
2. I am a teacher, so summer is a VERY convenient time. No time off work.
3. In general, I'm in the best shape of my life going into the surgery.
4. I have my deductible, and my insurance covers 100%. Zero out-of-pocket.
5. I have caught it in time, so I can have a less invasive surgery - quicker recovery time, and no major scars.
6. DH works from home, and has enough flexibility to be home to care for me for the first few days.
7. DH is extra supportive, and will do whatever I need him to do.
8. I have enough advance notice that I can start batch cooking, since full recovery will take a long time.
9. I have SP to use to track my food and water so I don't gain weight in the six weeks I won't be allowed to work out.
10. Doctors orders to do nothing at all = plenty of time to read and hang out on SP.

There are probably more, but I need to get to work. Think I'll add them as they come to me. Whenever I've feeling sorry for myself, I'll come back and read this.

  Member Comments About This Blog Post:

LESLIES537 4/13/2012 11:59PM

    Reason #11: No more TOM! emoticon emoticon

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JUSTDUCKY1405 4/13/2012 12:11PM

    Happened to pop into team Awakening and noticed you blogged. Seems I have lost blog subscriptions again.

Anywho... enough about me.

Karen... sorry I didn't see these sooner, had no idea you were even active in here.

You are strong, tough, and you are going to be just fine.

From what I can tell from everyone else's replies, you may even come out feeling better than ever... wouldn't that be great.

You are in my thoughts, as always.

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FIT_TERI 4/12/2012 8:22PM

    I think your list is great....both what's on it, and the idea of putting it together in the first place. You've probably even thought of some other things to add to it. And we will be here to spark back atcha while you're recovering.


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LESSOFPMCD 4/11/2012 6:21PM

    Great attitude. I have not had the procdure - just had minor surgery to stop the bleeding and put me into fast track menopause - best thing I ever did.

Of the ones I know that have had the surgery - each and every one has said they were glad they had it done. Much better quality of life afterwards etc.

A couple of weeks of discomfort for many years of comfort - doesn`t seem so bad if you look at it like that.

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PICKIE98 4/11/2012 6:01PM

    I am VERY proud of you!! Chair workouts, walking, upper body strength are still options after awhile,, Keep in mind that fiber is important since the anesthetic slows peristalsis initially,,, my OB/GYN had bran muffins on their pre-op info sheet to shop for ahead of time!!

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SWEETZMIX 4/11/2012 4:31PM

    You have tons of reasons!!!!!! You know what, don't feel sorry for yourself. Sometimes we got to do what we got to do. But hey, once it's done you might feel great after :)

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VALERIEMAHA 4/11/2012 1:10PM

    I concur with JLITT62...you have a emoticonattitude
a second opinion seems prudent.

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IFDEEVARUNS2 4/11/2012 8:21AM

    I've never felt better since I had mine. Reason #11?

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JLITT62 4/11/2012 8:13AM

    Is it possible to get a second opinion? I think I'd want that - it is pretty major surgery.

But you definitely have the right attitude.

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