Wednesday, July 30, 2014

The Little Things

So, I am still here.  I have not been to the ER in a week.  I am not bleeding, although I am bruised from the hip down.  Bruises come from the dogs and the door closing on me and furniture jumping out in front of me and from the phantom things that go bump in the night.  I am one big hematoma, really.  However, that is truly the least of my concerns.  I can handle bruises.  I am still here.

I had to cancel an extraction that I had scheduled for next week.  The oral surgeon said it is him and his surgery or the Xarelto.  Darn.  Sorry.  I'll see you in February I guess, Dr. X-traction. 

My FF was really late coming home today.  It was one of those nights.  Something bad is running through the drug trade and making people do crazy things. There was a 10-54 call (since everyone's 10 code is different, let's just say another engine came roaring in with Haligans in hand, until the police came.)  Another night of run after run after run.  I think he got an hour's sleep.  There was a dual fatality a few blocks from their firehouse, but since they were dealing with the craziness of their calls, one of the other engines took it.  I saw one of the meds that was on that scene (while we were at the dentist, because there was apparently a meeting in the lobby - 2 other FFs there) and he did not see the dorm at all last night.  He looked tired. 

As I was sitting, blissfully blogging away here with the news in the background, while he was on nap #2, I heard about the LEO that was shot and killed at a routine traffic stop in a St. Paul suburb.  And all I can say is that it hurts my heart. I am so tired of sending cards.

That would be the big things.  Knowing that people went all kinds of crazy while he was really just trying to help gets to me, but it has to just get set to the side.  So instead of focusing on the crazy, I spent the day focusing on the little things.

Fireman is napping, no big kids here.
So, you're stuck with this sad attempt
at a selfie.
Little thing #1 - A shower.  While my FF napped before his DDS appointment, I got a shower in.  AMAZING!  No muppets knocked.  No polar bears whined.  I got to shave my legs and sing to my Pandora playlist.  I also started a no shampoo regiment.  I am not liking it, but everything I have read says I have to get through the next two weeks.  I got so annoyed I threw my relatively short hair up in braids.  It will get better and help with the friziness that comes with my crazy thick wavy hair.

Little thing #2 - A "date" with my hubby.  We spent it at the dentist, a home improvement store getting the wood for B's Tardis birthday present, lunch at one of my most favorite restaurants ever, and a trip to the high school to work out some SNAFU's with N's schedule.  So simple and yet so lovely.

Little thing #3 - O walking her Mickey and Minnie in the shopping cart that survived the purge.  Hearing her giggle and sing while she walked up and down.

Little thing #4 - Painting my nails.  Another FFW was snarky about my Chucks as a choice of footwear, so I am painting my nails in homage to Converse.  I am me.  Take me or leave me.  I'll post pics as soon as they are done.  At this point, they are only sparkly black.  
No hating on the Chucks.
You should have seen it before.
That shelf went to the top and I could
not close it properly. I might
be becoming  grown-up...ish.
Little thing #5 - My new 'Minimalist' wardrobe.  I cleared out my closet.  Aside from my dresses and jerseys, I was down to 28 pieces of clothing hanging in my closet.  I also cleared out many of my sweaters and 8 pairs of shoes.  I looked at what I had and decided to figure out what works with what.  If I could not wear it with three different outfits, I got rid of it.  To rebuild, I hit a local thrift store.  For $53 I got 2 blazers, 3 cardigans, 2 blouses, a scarf , 2 long sleeve casual shirts, a longer sweater and 2 necklaces.  From Craigslist I bought 13 lovely high end sweaters for $15.  And a pair of brown riding boots from Kohl's with my Kohl's cash. 

Along with that, I cleaned out the last two boxes that were in my closet from our move two years ago.  It was such a good feeling.  Also, not a bad way to spend a shift night.

So, moral of the story, instead of focusing on how horrible things were yesterday or the fact that you have been hospitalized or what ever the tragedy is that has found you, focus on the rays of sunshine that poke through the clouds.  Sometimes they shine down on you, other times you have to go chase those rainbows. Be a rainbow chaser, even if the only happiness comes from annoying the grumpy people with your rainbows and glitter.  

Hug those Muppets, laugh with (or at your FF) and make sure you look for those high point in life, even if they are lower than you expected them to be. There are always things to hold on to.  Find them.

Wednesday, July 23, 2014

And now for...The Rest of the Story

I started writing about the surgery that I underwent one month ago today, shortly after I got home.  Life happened, I had other messages I wanted to get moving.  And so it waited.

Here is my surgery story.  

You would think that this was exciting enough, but I am totally an over achiever.  I mean it was a  totally mundane surgery that went haywire from the first cut.  That should be enough, right??

Instead, 2 weeks ago (16 days post-op), I noticed an odd pain in my back, on the right side.  I noticed and then forgot.  I noticed it later and became annoyed.  My guess was that I  had a kidney stone/ UTI/ kidney infection, because it was almost that low.  It was that kind of pain.  I am a teacher and was a waitress.  For a bit, my doc just called in a script for Cipro or Bactrim (until we found out I was allergic to sulfa) because I KNEW when I had a UTI and he was tired of telling me what I already knew.  It has been years, but that pain brought all that rushing back to my brain.  

As the day went on, I noticed it was only when I inhaled, but not always.  I was becoming increasingly impatient.  I told my FF that I would call the doc in the AM and get into see her.  Perfectly logical, right??

Until 1AM came.  We had only been asleep for an hour or so.  I guess I started wimpering in my sleep, waking up the fireman.  (AMAZINGLY, he is not a light sleeper when he is at home.)  And I finally woke up and was IN PAIN!  He wanted me to go in.  I of course fought it...for a bit.  Until my brain woke up.  It hurt to breathe, but I had no shortness of breath. 


Surgery riddled with complications + Estrodial hormone replacement therapy + family history + difficulty taking a breath in = CRAP!

I did not say it out loud.  I got dressed without saying anything.  J took me to the hospital that is just around the corner from us. I wanted the kids to be able to walk up to come hang out with me, because I knew I was not coming home after an ED visit.  And I was not in the mood to talk to or deal with the residents of a teaching hospital, I still had the bad taste in my mouth from my last hospitalization. 

We went in and I said it.

I took my bag since I knew I would be there a bit.
I told the receptionist that I was 2 weeks post-op and I thought I had a pulmonary embolism.  They moved very quickly  At this point, I struggled with every breath I took while speaking.  I did not have shortness of breath, like trying to catch my breath that was not the sensation.  It was more like a screwdriver handle shoved in my mid back when I tried to take more than a shallow breath.  My chest did not hurt.  I was not coughing anything up.  I just was in pain when I tried to do something silly like breathe.  Details.  

The doc came in, clearly worn out from the faults of our medical system (I'll save that rant for another post).  After he took my basic history, he asked if I was a doctor.  Nope, just a high school teacher.  On his way out he made a side comment, something to the effect of "someone has been on WebMD, huh" .  Nope.  Never went looking.  Just an epiphany as I struggled to breathe.

I remember hearing the stories of the depression my mother was sent it to while they treated her for a PE.  I was very young and stayed with her parents.  I started to call my grandma "Mawma" and all my mother heard was "Momma".  It was a horrible recovery from that complication.  You hear about how you caused your mother that stress and the idea stays with you.  

I also am one of those weird people.  I actually LISTEN to the docs during my pre-op appointments.  I knew what the complications and risks might be.  Once I realized that it might be detrimental to my quest for old age to play the tough guy, there were no more complaints and I just put my concerns out there.  I know people come in after searching the web, but I just did the math.  (Not bad for a history teacher!)

Luckily, he took me seriously.  Instead of  starting with the labs, he ordered a CT.  The labs came as well, but he did not wait for the results to come back before deciding on imaging.  The results came back together.  I was right.  The doc was surprised and told me I was spot on with my diagnosis.  I clearly missed my calling.

I did it good - go big or go home, I guess.  

I ended up back in the hospital for a couple days.  Lovenox injections, even though there was not DVT were less than enjoyable.  The kids were able to walk up to come see me, so it was less of a stressor.    

So what did I learn from this??  I learned what a bleb was. I learned that my husband is so wonderfully compassionate and caring when tending to the sick.  I learned that a trip to Target CAN force to require a three hour nap.  I learned that I am not 10 foot tall and bullet-proof and this will probably take me a year to fully recover.  I learned that cuts from invisible ninjas that once required a Band-Aid®, will require medical attention when the Xarelto does not allow it to clot off after 7 hours. I have learned that I can do stairs, down is easier than up.  I learned that I have amazing friends.  I learned that I am competitive and too hard on myself, even with my stupid incentive spirometer.  I learned that I am happy to be here, even with all these annoying complications.

Recovery was amazingly seamless, J and I had planned on not being here, so he was off of work and able to hold down the fort while I was down for the count.  He has been amazing.  My kids have been wonderful.  And I am OH so grateful that I did not have to deal with this over the school year!

My FF is on shift.  We are five weeks away from school starting and I need to get my butt moving.  Enjoy the day, no matter what it brings and let your FF know you love him, even when he's being a brat.  ;)  Happy Hump Day!

Monday, July 21, 2014


I started writing this right after I was home from Hospitalization Part Deux.  I am working on the follow up, with the rest of the story. (Gotta love Paul Harvey references, wherever you can sneak them in!)

I should have taken one.  I could share my vacation photos with you, along with silly stories about my muppets and how lovely my FF was.

Instead of a lovely vacation, I opted for the end of the school year and a surgery full of complications took me away from any writing.

Men, if you are queasy around discussions of the lady parts, please feel free to go grab a beer and watch the game.  I have it on the background, but it is not pretty.  

Since December, we have been planning my complete hysterectomy and a salpingo-oopherectomy just to be different.  Part of it was prophylactic.  We are always looking for cancer.  I am always waiting for them to take a look at something else - my kidneys or adrenal glands - and tell me there is something on my ovaries.  Because that always happens.  And then I hold my breath while we decide whether or not it is cancer.  We check my CA-125 levels and do biopsies and worry....that this might be THE TIME.  

And so, this surgery, that is really consider radical given my age, was the option I went with just to take some control over my health.  When I first met with the surgeon, she checked over and over and over with me to make sure that this was indeed the route I wanted to take so early in life.  To be certain I knew what I was getting into.  I watched my mom go through it in her 20s, I was certain it would be better for me as I near 39.

The  other part of this decision was simply to get my life back.  My periods were horribly as much as most women bleed over the course of a cycle, I would deal with in the course 3 or 4 hours  I would fill a tampon between the bathroom on the 3rd floor of the school and my class (directly above it) on the 4th floor.  I couldn't teach. My husband was bringing me clothes far too frequently.  I was going to the ER because I was hemorrhaging worse than after delivering any of the kids.  The Diva Cup became my new best friend.  It was a life altering half a year. I had to adjust. Aside from the heaviness, my periods were lasting 26, 27 days a month.  I could not live my life that way.  It was not healthy and it was not enjoyable.  

So, we planned it for the Monday after school let out.  My in-laws took the Muppets so I could recover.  They were going to come home Thursday.  I was expecting to come home Tuesday.  It was supposed to be a textbook, wham, bam, thank ya ma'am kinda surgery.

But, we allllll know that I don't play that way.  That would be far too boring and commonplace.  I mean, really. I never do things the way I am supposed.  It started in pre-op with the anesthesia team came in.  I warned them about my veins.  Ehh, we got this, they said.  No worries they said.  Ummm, I woke up in recovery (the only time the memories have stuck with me from the recovery room) to 4 members of that team looking for a vein. Apparently, I blew 4 IVs during surgery.  Uh huh, you got this.  They were wonderful about and I was a sassy face with them, which broke the ice a bit. But, I do look like a heroin user.  I mean, we're talking the back of both hands and the insides of both wrists...are still bruised.  Not to mention the botched Mid-line insertion site or the picc line or where they were sticking my every few hours for blood draws before the picc went it. I wish they would all take me seriously when I tell them to keep a vein viewer or ultra-sound on hand. Ah well.  With all the bruises, J said he would be worried when they started checking in-between my toes.  I really did look like an addict. 

So, you think that is bad.  Nah, just annoying.  That happens more than it doesn't.  Really.  It do expect it and find myself instead, pleasantly surprised when there is a smooth insertion of any needle. The fun part came when they told me there had been a complication.  My poor hubby, they called him out of the waiting room and into a conference room to tell him.  I can only imagine the wait in that little room.

They had cut the bowel.  

I had a laproscopic procedure and the first cut is blind.  It is the fine print of what might happen during surgery that you have to sign that you understand before you schedule your surgery.  It happens.  You'd think that would have been enough, but I am a total overachiever.

And, truly, I really was lucky.  We had surgical oncologist on hand, even though my ultrasounds looked clean, just because. I am never as I appear.  And I am oh so grateful she was.  She saved me from an additional 6" zipper across my belly. She got me closed up and away we went taking out the rest of my reproductive organs.  It was a good thing my surgery started really early, because I got out just about on time from my original start time.  

So, that meant another night in the hospital.  I was snuck some broth that night.  Allowed to eat lunch the following day and  sent home on Wednesday.  I felt great.  

Until I didn't.

I crawled into my bed early and the nausea kicked in.  And then it was like I was pregnant.  I got so desperate with the vomiting, that I called the on-call number and had some Zofran called in for me.  Puking from 8:30pm until 3am, with no baby in the end game, is NOT on my scope of okay things to do.

My newly incised ab muscles were burning up and so was my forehead...102.1.  UGH!!  

Went into the doc the next morning and did the lab work.  She said she would keep me home, unless my WBC was eeking up.  So, I made it to dinner time, and no news.  I thought all was well.  And I started feeling better...human almost.  And then the phone rang.  Back to the hospital I was going.  This is now Thursday.  You know, the night that my kids that I have not seen since Saturday were supposed to be coming home.

This was not good.  My dogs were acting out.  I missed my kids.  My bowel was cut.  If you saw me on the street, you would think I was a junkie - between the circles under my eyes and bruises up and down my arms.  I still had yet to sleep in my bed.  I missed my husband.  I was not happy.

But I did not fight being admitted and J knew I must still be feeling pretty crappy.  I mean I ALWAYS fight going to the hospital.  I did not even bargain or negotiate.  Logically, I must have known I needed to go.  And I just went.

So, saw the gaggle docs.  Had the nurses fight over me. (I think I was the only one under the age of 60 on the floor.  Who else were they going to discuss OITNB with, I mean, really?!)  I was supposed to be out after two days of round the clock IV antibiotics by Saturday night.  Life was good.  My hubby was in as
much as he could be.  My dad brought me custard shakes.  My FF bought me candy bars from the snack machine I walked by a million and three times and stared at longingly until I was removed from the NPO list.  My heartbroke with the older gentlemen next to me who waved to me as I walked by, but became a different man when the sun went down.  I was very grateful to have my headphones, it was a very loud couple of evenings. Saturday came and I was ready to go home.  J was going back on shift the next day.  His trades had run out, because I was supposed to go home on Tuesday, remember. 

And they said NO! 

Ummm, what??

We needed to get 2 more rounds of antibiotics in you...the earliest is 3am.  Now, I asked for my resident to come in around noon on Saturday.  I am a control freak. I was feeling better.  I needed to make a plan for how I was going to go home.  J was on shift the next day.  My dad was at the track.  I could not drive until I was sans narcotics for 72 hours.  My doc was on vacation at her cabin - no cell service. I could not get in touch with an MD.

My night nurse started paging at 9pm.  I sent J home with the soft plan, put together by my nurse that we would open up that last round of antibiotics and just get them in me.  J came back in at 3:30am, under the idea that he would be able to take me home.  The resident still had not been able to make her way to me...or send a minion to come speak with me...or call the nurses station.  Over the course of the last 16 hours. 

And I was not happy.  I had to send J home.  He had to get to work.  That was that.  I would figure a way home.  Because, we all know, NOTHING goes right on a shift day.

The resident came in...after I had paced the 4P floor in anger and about 6:30am.  She told me how unrealistic and foolish I was being.  She also told me that there was nothing she could do until the attending discharged me.  You know, the attending that has NEVER seen me.


Rant that was never posted
And it was that much worse when I waited to see the attending (4 more hours) and he told me that was NOT the case and I could have gone right after she saw me.  I did not need to be seen by her. "She did not listen to my instructions."  Really?  A power struggle??  


But, I was free to go.  I had my d/c papers.  My picc line was out.  I laid flat on my back for 30 minutes after that.  I just needed to be home before my kids were.

My brother offered to come pick me up.  The nurses wanted me to wait inside until my ride came.  Nope.  I signed those papers and I was outta there.  Like it or not.  

It was a beautiful day.  I was happy to hear the birds and feel the sun and wind.  
I quietly enjoyed the 4th with my dad and my ever working FF (after he got done with an extra 8 hour shift at Summerfest as a bike med - and brought a PNB back in front of a crowd).  I saw my surgeon Tuesday of  the following week. She was amazed at how well I was doing.  Wednesday...there was a pain in my back...a kidney stone, perhaps?  

Nah, that would be far too pedestrian.  You all know better...

Sunday, July 6, 2014


Everyone has one.  That is what makes up history.  Just a collection of the everyday lives of everyday day people woven into the greatest tale to tell.  

But, and everybody has one, you need to know people's story before you decide who or what they are. 

Far more philosophical that the surgery SNAFU post I started writing earlier today.  

How did I arrive at this deep place?  By going to the grocery store.  I mean, really.  Where else do you go to reach such enlightenment??

My FF and the kids are at a family picnic  I needed to sleep and just be, since J has been home a whole day since I got out of the hospital, I think.  Sounds great.  I got to sleep for a bit.  And then the doorbell rang, as did my phone. I just got up.  And realized I was hungry.

I was going to grab something to eat, but I did not want fast food and eating out without my people did not sound enjoyable.  So I decided on nachos.  But I was not going to cook up four or five pounds of beef for me.  And that is how I shop for ground meat.  I have a teenage boy, a pre-teen boy and an Obabiya.  We need to buy food in larger quantities.  So, I ran to the store.  

I never shop on a Sunday afternoon, so that was weird.  And I rarely shop without a cart.  I was stopped by a lady when I was looking for a smaller package of beef.  I was looking for a half pound or so.  A lady, clearly tired and frazzled, stopped me and loudly exclaimed, "What I wouldn't give to be in your shoes!? Single and kid free!"  I looked at my left hand to see what her issue was, and remembered I only had my claddagh ring on. I lost my diamond sometime this morning. :(  I also realized that she couldn't see the stretch marks around my scars and I don't have a diaper bag.  I also suppose mommies don't typically wear moustached Mickey t-shirts with moustached Chucks.  

I was about to be snarky and make a comment.  But it popped into my head that I have NO clue where she is coming from.  What might have happened this morning. What work is like, or perhaps the lack of work is the issue.  The point of the matter was that I just didn't know.

So we chatted for a few moments, she works 2 jobs and cleans on the side. She has 2 boys under 6.  She is tired.  

I choose not to one up her with twice as many kids or surgery horror stories or the fact that I am also a single mom a third of the time, without the 3 days off a week, with every other weekend as a bonus.  She was clearly tired and worn out.  Instead, I bought her a small bouquet of flowers.  Grocery store flowers, but  when was the last time she got flowers just because.  I simply said thank you for sharing your story.  And went home to make my nachos for one...and remember that my ring was still naked.  <sigh>

The point of the story, is that everyone has their own.  And because they cross your path, even for a moment, they become part of your story.  I think we would look at the world so much differently if we reminded ourselves of that.  

Yesterday, I took lunch to a homeless man who often sits on the curb next to one of the grocery stores.  I do whenever I see him.  Except this time, I sat on the curb with him and chatted.  I have been interacting with him for two years now and have never asked him what his story was.  I learned his name.  That is from half the country away and that he lost his wife and kids tragically.  He had such a hard time sharing it, but he did.  And I felt honored.  And we watched the cars go by and the battalion chief leave for his house visits for the shift. 

He has a name and story.  As does everyone we come across.  Whether it is because they are rushing through the store or cutting you off in traffic, they have a store.  Maybe they smile at you because they are walking on cloud nine because there is a new diamond on their hand or they got into the college of their dreams.  They have a story.  We just need to slow down and learn them!

Hopefully my FF and muppets will be home soon.  I will indeed be asking them to share their tales of the night, it is part of their history. Slow down and learn the histories of those around you.  You might just be amazed at what you discover.   
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