Saturday, August 16, 2008

Happiness is..

Obama Pictures and McCain Pictures
see Obama pictures

Things making me happy today.

  • Grocery shopping without needing to use an electric cart or oxygen
  • Guiltless Pasta-Free Lasagna recipe I created for dinner that turned out totally YUM!
  • Looking at 1/2 cup of said Lasagna, thinking it won't be enough. Twenty minutes (and 20 bites later) being completely satisfied with just that much
  • Seasons 1 - 6 of X Files on DVD
  • Seasons 1 - 3 of Angel on DVD
  • Peanut butter toast (and being satisfied with only half a slice)
  • More energy, wait, I mentioned that, sort of, but it gets another mention
  • Teen aged children who talk to me and who sometimes listen when I talk to them
  • A happy healthy hubby
  • Great naps
  • Great sex
  • My new Sprint Wireless Internet card that came the day after I ordered it and is almost as fast as cable or a corporate LAN
  • The kind of relationship with my mom where we can really REALLY talk
  • A visit from Cara last week that's still making me feel good this week
  • Really great emails and phone calls from friends and coworkers
  • Meeting a 'old friend' face to face for the first time and finding that we click just as well in person as we did in cyberland
  • Being who I am today.
  • Being where I am today.

Friday, August 15, 2008


I tweaked a few things on the blog: updating my picture and my iPod Top 25. Interesting how much your music taste changes in the course of a year. Only two songs are still on the list from the first time I posted it.

It Was the Best of Times... It Was the Worst of Times..

Back to school.

I am enjoying my last two weeks recovery at home in peace and quiet. Beginning at 6:15 and ending at 7:30AM, my children trickle out the door, headed to their institutions of learning. I drag covers off, I push breakfast, I brush hair, I approve, or disapprove outfits, I ponder the meaning of 'rhetorical reasoning,' with confused teenagers. During the day, I can nap, I can talk on the phone, I can eat without exclamations of "ew!" or "can I have some?"

The downside: we've shelled out over $1,000 in the last two weeks. First, of course, is the published school supplies list, then shoes, clothes, etc. School supply list: it sounds so simple.. don't be fooled! Each year there must be at least one item on the published school supplies list that is next to impossible to find. In print it will seem so simple, listed as "red felt tip fine point marker, blood red only." Once you're on the hunt though, you realize this item might actually exist only the imagination of the teacher. To obtain this item you may be forced to drive 100 miles, trade a kidney or meet a dark stranger in an even darker alley. This is nothing compared to what happens next.

You've obtained that final, mythical pen or composition notebook. You've lovingly packed each backpack with exactly what each supply list detailed. You've purchased enough Kleenex, band aids and hand sanitizer to open your own hospital in a 3rd world country. You sleep the sleep of one content that she has accomplished the impossible; properly equipping five children, 1st grade to high school with all they need for school. One short day later, your peace is shattered.

One by one, your children walk through the door from their first day of school with looks of consternation and suspiciously 'listish' looking pieces of paper clutched in their hands. It is the 'secret/surprise' school supplies list, the one that teachers save until AFTER you've already purchased $500 in supplies the teachers said they needed! This list details exactly how much money you wasted as item after item you lovingly pursued and purchased is chucked in a box because "the teacher wants us to have a different one, Mom. I have to have it by tomorrow, Mom. Or else."

I swear, it's a conspiracy!

The secret school supplies list can ONLY be released after you've spent every penny you have on the things the school and teacher originally said they needed. The secret school supplies list MUST be purchased no later than the 2nd day of school or your innocent children will be locked in a dungeon and flogged with last year's moldy textbooks. The secret school supplies list contains items even MORE expensive and exotic than the published school supplies list. You and every other parent in your district wander, dazed, confused and downtrodden down the same aisles and byways you thought not to see for another year. You sell a kidney to obtain the graphing calculator, mortgage your home for those particular markers. Bloodied and bruised, you return home with the items which are taken off to school without a further comment. At last though, it's done. No more notes come home demanding obscure and outrageously expensive items never before necessary in any school setting.

You're done hunting, done spending...

Until Homecoming.

Sunday, August 3, 2008

The Big Show...and now?

July 22nd!! Can I say my rebirth day? I think I can, in some ways. I actually slept the night before the surgery. We stayed up until 11 to get me one last protein drink and 32oz of water since my surgery wasn't scheduled until 3:15. They wanted me at the hospital by 1:15.

  • 11:00AM the nurse and asked if we could head in sooner; Dr Chae was ahead of schedule! I was ready to go right that second but she told us to leave at 11:30. Would have worked out great if I hadn't forgotten my photo ID and insurance only to remember it about 10 minutes away from the house. Survived Homer-on-Bart style strangling from Cowboy as we turned around to get it. Amanda accompanied us; she and Cowboy would go to Family Night while I was in surgery.
  • 12:00PM check in to the hospital, weigh in; liquid diet has sucked 5 pounds off my in three days. Heck with surgery, maybe I'll just.....nah..never mind.
  • 12:20 inform surgical prep nurse that I am a 'very difficult stick,' she scoffs, as do they all.
  • 12:35 surgical prep nurse apologizes to me and admits that yes, I am actually a very difficult stick. I have three pokes for one IV line. Not so bad; my all time record was 14 for 2 lines.
  • 1:00PM Cowboy and Amanda come to sit with me a few minutes; Dr Chae stops by and is very efficient confident and business like. He promises to call Cowboy personally as soon as I'm out of surgery. Anethesiologist stops by, same drill.
  • 1:30PM I'm wheeled into the operating room where the technicians, anesthesiologist and I begin discussing Masterpiece theater...
  • 4:30PM Dr Chae phones Cowboy to say I am in the recovery room and doing just fine. I'm fading in and out but recal the recovery room nurses being gentle and kind, especially when the press that blessed PCA unit into my hand to administer the blessed blessed morphine.
  • 6:00PM Cowboy and Amanda come to my room to give me love and congratulate me but I'm still in and out and feel like I'm smothering; they turn up my oxgen. I think my sister in law tries to call but I can't talk to anyone; the nurse takes the phone off the hook.

I spent four days in the hospital, learning to manage my pain, trying to clear my lungs with that stupid repirizer. The staff were wonderful and attentive; just tough enough to keep me from being lazy but kind enough to let me rest when I needed.


  • Standing up and walking just a bit the same night as the surgery
  • Touring around the nurses' desk everyday,
  • Taking a shower, going to the bathroom without help and not throwing up once.

Sugar Free Jello tasted disgustingly sweet; I live on 2 tablespoons of broth 3 times a day but I wasn't hungry so it wasn't hard.

Cowboy brought me home from the hospital July 26th, driving as if I was made of spun glass (good because every bump kills me). He was up four times with me that night; I don't think he slept at all the first three days I was home.

I came home on oxygen because my resting pulse ox was barely acceptable and the minute I got up to move it plunged into "so not acceptable' numbers. I have a big machine that generates oxygen out of the atmosphere for home time and a portable machine with a back up tank for when I leave the house.

Amanda took on the role of dietician, nurse, CNA, hair washer and baby sitter. She now makes a mean protein shake and can figure up the calories and protein consumption for one day in less than 10 minutes. All the kids pitch in to help where they can; as the oldest, she's been absolutely priceless.

  • I make short journeys to the corner or down the street and back twice a day.
  • I have an external drain removed one week post op, the doc thinks I've lost at least three pounds since the surgery, tells me to take it easy but I don't have use oxygen when I'm just sitting now.
  • I think I'm losing between one half and 2 pounds per day right now. I know this sounds dangerous but after the procedure I've just had; it's normal. I take between 200 and 400 calories only on any given day.

My body is not hungry. Everything is swollen and the nerve endings in the new pouch are damaged; I can't feel hunger. However, I can think hunger. At first, thoughts of cheeseburgers, chicken or french fries just flit through my conciousness like weird dreams. The second I concentrate on them, my stomach burbles and I realize what a bad idea they would be. These thoughts are more frequent now, though, and a bit harder to deal with. I ran errands with Cowboy today (yay, out of the house for 2 hours, no breaks, in and out of the car and walking around) but had to flat refuse to go inside the pizza place to wait for his calzone with him. The idea was torture.

I would not say I am in mourning; I know I will have these things again, in small amounts. I would say though, that three weeks on liquids has gotten a bit old and the old noggin would really like some solid food to gnaw on. Good thing I only have a week to go before I go to soft foods; I'm planning chicken stew for the first night. Mmmmmm!

The Pre-Show and Red Carpet

I told you I'd try to come back but didn't make any promises. But am I glad I didn't; as you can see, never made it back. Here's what's gone down since we talked:

  • The week of July 13-19 contained three post op appointments and various sticks, pricks, prods and pokes. No issues though; I was cleared for surgery.
  • July 19 started on a clear liquid diet. Clear liquids means Sugar Free Jello, Crystal Light, SF Popsicles as much broth as you can drink (ask Dave Barry about broth and it's many attributes) and clear protein drinks or shots. Yep. That's it.
  • July 19th also happened to be the day of the company 'picnic' at the zoo. I put picnic in quotation marks because the company did not provide any actual FOOD for the occasion so I don't think it counts as a real picnic. No food at the zoo was OK in one aspect; no temptation. Bad in another; disappointed (and whiney) fam. Me? I'd prepared; I had two Isopure clear protein drinks and one protein 'bullet' (27grams of protein in 3.1oz of cough syrupy liquid). We arrived at 10:30AM. By 1:00PM the fam started eyeing my vittles. Figured it was time to go.
  • July 20th Cowboy and I drove to Wheatland to retrieve my oldest child; it's an all day trip basically. I prepared my little cooler of acceptable goodies. I'll say this: the clear protein drinks taste a little weird but they are very filling. If you are honest with yourself and can get past the 'head hunger' they'll keep you satisfied. They won't keep you from the urge to strangle your husband and oldest child as they chow down on Wendy's double cheeseburgers and large fries while the smell nearly kills you. Ok, I know they had to eat but it would have been great if they could have chosen that day to eat, oh, I don't know, fried scorpion or something.
  • July 21st was my last full day of work and I'm glad I went. I let the team know I wasn't shirking and my team in return, gave me tons of love and support. Clear liquids beginning to wear but then by midnight, I can't have ANYTHING so clear liquids should seem like a feast, huh? Yep.
  • July 22nd.... the day, I wonder if I'll even be able to sleep.