For my regular visitors, if you find that this blog hasn't been updating much lately, chances are pretty good I've been spending my writing energy on my companion blog. Feel free to pop over to Moving On, and see what else has been going on.

Monday, April 25, 2011

First Vote

Today I took advantage of the advance polling and voted.

Eldest, having turned 18 last month, was eager to vote for the first time.  Raider King turned 18 after the last election, so he hadn't voted yet, either.  Both of them needed to register, and I had no idea how to go about that, so we all trooped over to the polling station together.

It turned out to be very easy for them to register.  They just needed several ID.  I was in line with my voter registration card and the table they were at was next to me, so when it came time to get the address information, I just handed over my card.  Eldest went first and I was just a couple of people farther into the line when I got my card back.  Still close enough to hear at least a little of what was going on behind me.

Once Eldest was done with her registration, Raider King took his turn.  Shortly after, I hear the woman at the table saying "oh, you two are living in sin!  Good for you!"

I was left standing there, thinking, "did I just hear what I thought I heard??" LOL

I found out afterward that Raider King never heard her comment at all (he's lost his hearing aid. :-( ), and Eldest just laughed and mentioned that he was just crashed on our couch until he got his own place.  (As an aside - he's got his own place!  Much to my shock, he's found a 2 bdrm basement suite for only $500 a month!  He'll be moving there on May 1st.  We're pretty excited for him. :-D ) 

This is hardly the first time Eldest and Raider King have had people mistake them for a "couple."  You know, it'd be nice if people could be friends with each other without others assuming there's something romantic involved.  :-P

Once the paperwork was done, they were sent off to one of the two polling station lines.  I found it odd that they were sent to a different one than I was in.  Sure enough, they got to the front and were told they had to go into the other line!  Oops.

So now it's done.  Eldest and Raider King have cast their very first electoral votes!

Friday, April 22, 2011

Easter preparations

We've been well into our Easter preparations for the last while.  As usual, this includes our traditional Easter basket.  We'll be making a few additions to it this year.

For the usual items, we'll have butter, sausage, a small ham, salt and cheese.  We've also got a chunk of fresh horseradish root, rather than the prepared paste.  Tomorrow (er... later today, I should say) we'll be baking bread and colouring eggs.  We'll be making a egg and milk bread that will be baked into some fancy shape.  For the eggs, we'll be colouring some by cooking them in onion skins, while others will be made into "dragon's eggs" for the pre-shelled eggs.  We're not going to bother doing colouful dyed eggs this year.  For that, colour will be from the tiny candy coated chocolate eggs we'll be adding, plus some foil covered chocolate eggs - the only sweets we'll include this year.

One of the traditional Polish items we never really used was bacon.  This year we've decided to include prosciutto as a sort of substitute, even though it's really a ham.  We also decided to add a small bottle of olive oil and two types of olives.  It seemed appropriate, considering how important olives and olive products were in Biblical times.

For my crafting this year, I ended up doing stuffed, crocheted eggs.  I'm still doing them, actually.  They're quick enough that I can do a simple one in a smooth yarn in about half an hour. I'm making some using textured yarn, some with colour changes, and others are being given a texture through stitch variations. They're all a variation of the free Lion Brand egg cozie pattern (you will need to sign in to see it).  I skipped any of the embellishments to the basic cozie shape.  Instead of ending it with an open bottom, I stuff it, then add a couple more decreasing rounds, then close up the bottom while sewing in the the yarn end.  I'm rather happy with how they're turning out. 

We're going to try something different for our Easter dinner.  We'll be doing a leg of lamb, which is a first for me.  Will have to look up different recipes and decide how I want to roast it.  For the dinner, we'll also have some barscz - I'm cheating, having bought it packaged.  To go with the lamb, Eldest suggested doing broccoli the Julia Child way, which is always a hit.  I'll be doing polenta, as well.  Though it's considered an Italian dish, I remember my mother making it when I was a child.  We called it by a Polish word that translates as porridge, and it was years before I found out what I knew as a child and polenta were the same thing! *L*  I am planning to make the polenta on Saturday, then pan fry slices of it for dinner on Sunday.

We'll likely pick up a wine to go with dinner as well.  Hmm... we should probably pick something up for a dessert, too.  I'd forgotten about dessert!

Sunday, April 03, 2011

Saying Goodbye to George

Back again! Feeling really good - too good!  I know myself well enough to recognize that I am very prone to overdoing things too early, so I'm being extra carefulChafing at my level of inactivity like crazy!  I want to go for a walk.  I want to arrange my balcony planters and bags of soil, now that they're no longer buried in snow, so they can thaw out faster.  I want to go hiking in the valley. 

As good as I'm feeling, I still get tired a lot faster than expected, and I need to be extra aware of any pulling, tugging or strain in the area where George used to be.  The last thing I want to do is tear something and end up back in the hospital!

So how did George's eviction go?

Quite well, actually.

The Saturday before the surgery, I went in for my pregnancy test.  The lab was in a mall I knew the location of, though I'd never actually been in it before, so Dh and I gave ourselves extra time to wander around trying to find the place.  It ended up being right near the entrance we came in at, so we were almost half an hour early.  So we handed in my paperwork and settled down for a long wait.  It ended up being a short wait.  I got called in after about 10 minutes.  The test itself took only a few minutes - the tech even commented that it was the first time he'd taken only a single vial of blood at a time! *L*  We were done almost 10 minutes before my actual appointment!

The evening before the surgery, Dh helped me with all the stuff I needed to get ready for (you know you've got a solid marriage when your spouse actually volunteers to help you with an enema! *L*), including packing a few things in the off change I ended up staying at the hospital longer.  I made sure to eat something late in the day, just so the fasting would be less of an issue by the morning.  Of course, I made sure to pack my project bag and a book, so I'd have something to keep me occupied during any inevitable waits before the actual surgery.  The last thing I needed to do was use the antiseptic sponge in the shower before we headed for the hospital.

We got there early, as Dh dropped me off at the door before finding someplace to park that wouldn't cost an arm and a leg.  Early didn't matter, it turned out, as I got my wrist bracelet from pre-administration right away.  My next stop was on a different floor, so I waited at pre-admin for Dh to join me, only to find him calling me from another floor, where he'd followed the signs for Day Surgery.  I took the elevator up to where I was supposed to go, but he'd taken the stairs, which apparently didn't go where he thought they did!  He ended up having to take the elevator to find me.  By the time he did, I had already been taken in my "room" in the pre-op area. This was where I'd be taken after spending some time in the recovery room. That early in the morning, there was no one else there, though a couple more patients joined me over the next few hours.

I had about 2 hours before the surgery itself, with various things needing to be done at specific times before then.  Though I was still on a food and fluid fast, I was given some pills to take with just enough water to wash them down.  A tiny cup of another medication was measured out and waiting for me to take when the porter arrived to take me to the operating room.  I didn't get hooked up to the IV for about an hour, so I was able to get some crocheting done while we waited.  Dh brought a book.  Unfortunately, once the IV was in the back of my hand, I found I didn't have enough range of motion to manipulate a hook, so no more crochet.  I couldn't even get at my book, as it was in a locker with my clothes, and the locker was blocked off with my bed tray and its awaiting medications. 

While the nurse was going over my paperwork at the start, I asked again about getting a picture of George.  She told us that they should be able to get a laparoscopic image for me, which sounded a lot better than the original plan of getting a picture of George after he was removed in little bits and pieces!  She made a note on my paperwork about it.  She mentioned that it wasn't the first time she'd had such a request.  Somehow, I wasn't surprised to hear that!

Of course, hospitals being the way they are, I didn't go into surgery on time.  It was only 15 minutes late, though, so that was pretty good.  The porter made sure I went to the washroom before he took me away, then made sure I took the last medication what was waiting.  It was something to fight nausea.  Considering how I felt when they added the antibiotics to my IV, I'd hate to think how bad it would have been if I didn't get any!  But I get ahead of myself.

The operating rooms were on another floor, so I got an elevator ride.  The effects of the medications made that rather interesting.  You know that weird feeling you sometimes get in your head and stomach in a fast elevator?  Well, it wasn't a fast elevator, it was going up, and I was lying down, but it felt like I was standing in an elevator the suddenly dropped 3 floors.  Blech!

I was first wheeled into a sort of staging area.  A nurse went over my paperwork meticulously, including all the assurances to make sure I was the right patient getting the right surgery!  Then she noticed my red bracelet for my bloodwork had expired.  ?!?  She was able to get an extension on it, however, so I didn't need to get another 4 vials of blood tested, thank God.  I had several nurses who would be working on me come by to introduce themselves.  The gynecologist swung by and talked to me for a bit.  He assured me again that all my blood tests came back clear of any markers for cancer.  (Oh, and I'm not pregnant. LOL)  Everything looked like George was nothing more than a really large cyst.  The surgeon that would be working on me came by to introduce himself as well.  The nurse had me make one last trip to the bathroom, just in case, and then I was off to the operating room.

Operating rooms are cool looking places!  I thought it was neat to see all these various lights, screens and other things were on movable arms hanging from the ceiling.  They made me think of octopi.

I got introduced to a couple more nurses (so many people!) as I got transferred from my stretcher to the operating table.  Actually, I was able to move myself without any problem, with the nurse making sure I was lying where I needed to be.  There was an opening in the operating table I had to line my butt up against.  There was one arm rest set up already when I got there and, once I was settled on, a nurse attached a second arm rest, which had me lying there with both arms extended.  The anesthetist put a mask for oxygen over my mouth and nose and got me to do some deep breathing.  Then the antibiotics were added to the IV.  I promptly started feeling quite nauseous and got the weirdest dizzy feeling in the top of my brain.  They gave the meds a little while to kick in, then the anesthetic was injected into my IV and I was asked to start counting.

The next thing I knew, I was waking up in the recovery room.

My memories are a touch vague at this point.  I still had the horrible dizzy feeling at the top of my brain.  Odd that it was such a localized feeling.  I immediately started doing my deep breathing and wiggling my feet around for the recommended leg exercises.  I was feeling really cheerful and had a strong urge to sing.  In my befuddled state, the only song I could think of was an old Polish love song my mother used to sing.  I've long since forgotten the words, but the melody has always been a favorite of mine, so I started humming it.

As cheerful as I was feeling, I do remember wishing my stomach were feeling more stable, and appreciating the anti-nausea meds they'd given me.

I don't know how long it was before I was wheeled back to my room, where Dh was sitting in a chair with his book, waiting for me.  The nurse quickly dashed away to get something for me.  A print out with three images of George!  I would have been happy with just one, so getting three of them was extra cool.

Meet George.

 Weird looking, eh?  Somehow, I wasn't expecting to see so many blood vessels, though now that I think about it, I'm not sure why I thought that.

 I'm assuming that the silver thing that's pulling on George is what was used to suck him out in little pieces.

Here's George from another angle.  Another unexpected detail - I hadn't expected George to be such a pasty white colour.

Looking at the images, George looks rather bigger than 13x11cm.

I didn't bother scanning the third image, as George isn't really in it, other than a small white patch in the back.  At least I think the white patch is George.  It looks a lot different than the above images, so it might actually be something else.  I want to take the print out with me for my follow up visit so I can ask what is in that image, because I'm just not sure what's what!

As the nurse checked on my incisions, she told me that there were three of them, and had made some comments that had me thinking the surgery was bigger than they expected it to be.  There was the expected incision in my naval, one directly below it (right in a crease, too... :-/) and one to the right of my naval.  It wasn't until I was home later on that I realized she'd actually missed one more on my left.  It was far enough to my side that it was covered by my hospital gown and blankets when she checked on me.  Only the lower incision was of any concern, needing a bit of gauze to absorb a small amount of bleeding.

I did end up getting a D&C, but also found out that they were able to leave the ovary and fallopian tube intact!  George had been beside my ovary.  I'm not clear if he was completely unattached to the ovary or what - clearly he was attached to something that got twisted up enough to send me to the emergency!  I'll find out more about that when I go to my follow up with the gynecologist after 6 weeks.  I'm curious to find out how big George turned out to actually be, and if they weighed him.

The next while is still pretty foggy in my memory.  Dh updated the family on how I was doing.  I was to stay there as long as I felt the need, and could go home any time I felt I was up to it.  After a while I tried sitting up, which got the dizziness in the top of my head going quite a bit.  I wanted to get up and about and try going to the washroom, but the wave of nausea with the dizziness was a bit much.  Dh got a nurse to get a barf bowl for me, which came in handy.  A quick "cough" into the bowl, and I immediately felt better!  I was able to go to the bathroom and walk around for a bit before I had to lie down again.

The nurse brought me a muffin and some apple juice for a snack to eat as soon as I could.  Though I was hungry for my fast, I ended up dozing off instead.  When she came back later and offered to take it away, I found I was feeling stable enough to eat. 

I have no idea what kind of muffin it was, but right then, it was the most Delicious thing I'd ever eaten! LOL

Though I was still feeling that weird dizziness, I quickly improved and soon felt ready to go home.  I figured I'd do better then than in the hospital.  We got me dressed and ready, then Dh helped me to the nurses desk.  There was a bit of paperwork to do, and they even gave me a couple of barf bags for the car, just in case. LOL  I didn't need them.

Dh helped me down to the lobby where I could sit while he got the van.  I was able to walk out to it on my own when he got there.  The ride home was not the most pleasant, what with feeling every bump and lump in either my head, my stomach, or where George used to be, but it actually wasn't that bad.  I did the steps to the front door all right.  Once inside, I sat for a while.  The girls had cooked supper and I was actually able to eat!  We got all caught up, then I decided it was time to head upstairs to bed.  Eldest stayed close to help me if I needed it.  I almost got to the top when I had to stop and send Eldest running for a barf bowl. :-(  Like in the hospital, I felt a LOT better after that.  I kept a bowl nearby, anyhow, just in case.  What I really needed was some rest, so bed was where I headed as soon as I could.  I ended up down for 3-4 hours, and felt much improved for the sleep.

The next few days were careful ones.  I was to get my stitches removed in 3-5 days, 7 at most.  For that, Dh made an appointment with my regular doctor on the Friday.  Dh's work laptop was brought up for me, as well as my project bag, and a library book I was working on.  I commandeered Youngest's bed, since it was the easiest for me to get in and out of, but it's a queen size bed so I wasn't actually kicking her out of her room.  She's got our old tv set up in her closet, so we were able to have a bit of a Star Trek marathon (we're working our way through season three now).  Though I tried to be up and about as much as I could, I got tired so very quickly.  Stairs were a bit much to do, so I avoided them as much as possible.  Thankfully, there was little need for me to take them.  The family took excellent care of me!

The hard part was not being able to stay in any one position for very long.  I could sit, but had to lean back to keep pressure off my lower abdomen.  I could stand and walk, but for only short lengths of time.  I could lie on my side, but had to switch from one side to the other after a fairly short time.  Still, it wasn't that bad.  I had been given a prescription for some T3s to take as needed.  I took one before going for that first nap after coming home from the hospital, but felt no need to take another until the second night after.  I haven't taken any since.

It took a while for the dizziness to go away, but my stomach was pretty steady.  I was able to eat without restriction, but felt the need to stick to light fare, so I had myself a lot of fruit or berries mixed with cottage cheese. 

Dh had booked the Tuesday after my surgery off to help with me, with possible extensions beyond.  He did stay home on the Wednesday as well (his employers have been fantastic about all this!), but I felt good enough that he went to work as normal on Thursday.  The girls took over the running of the household completely, and have done a great job of it.

On the friday, it was time to get my stitches out.  Dh worked from home until it was time for my appointment.  Because of lack of parking in the area, Youngest came along.  He dropped us off in front of the clinic and she helped me with the doors to get in while Dh tried to find somewhere to pull over until I was done.  Though early for my appointment, I didn't even get a chance to sit down before Youngest and I were taken in.  This was the first time my regular doctor knew anything about what had been going on, so he was a bit surprised by why I was there.  He did a quick check, then he had one of his assistance do the actual stitch removal while he tended other patients.  She had a bit of a time of it - the stitches were tied extremely tight, and one of them was stuck in a scab and needed to be soaked for a bit before she could get it out.  Everything we healing up great, though.  My dr saw me one more time, and then we were done.  I doubt it took as much as 10 minutes, altogether.

This had been the first day I had done more than just go up and down the stairs, though, and I was really surprised by how tired I felt by the time I got to the van (Dh had managed to pull over in a loading zone nearby, so I didn't bother calling him to come and get me).  In the drive home, the dizziness was back, and I could feel every pothole and crack in the streets!  With how well and quickly the stitches had healed, I somehow managed to forget that the area where George used to be needed healing, too. *L*  Once home, I pretty much went straight to bed and slept solid for a couple of hours.  Dh worked from home for the rest of the day to be available for me.

Saturday (yesterday) had me feeling a lot stronger, and today I'm feeling even more improvement.  I'm almost completely pain free - just the smallest of twinges where George used to be if I over do things a bit.  I'm able to do the stairs almost as normal.  I still get tired faster than usual and have been feeling the need for naps a lot more often, but otherwise feel great.  I still get little reminders that all is not quite back to normal.  For example, as I've been writing this, I haven't had to stop and go lie down, as I did in my last post, but I have had to pause, lean back and straighten out my waist to relieve pressure on the area where George used to be.  I want to walk, but can't go far without feeling exhausted.

Overall, though, I'm really happy with how my healing is progressing.

I've also felt really comfortable with letting the girls take over around the house.  They've done the cooking and cleaning, run what errands they could that don't require driving, and Youngest kept up her guitar lessons as normal.

Eldest is 18 now and Youngest is turning 15 soon.  Clearly, they are both quite capable of running a household on their own.

Saturday, April 02, 2011

Pre-op preparedness

My apologies for the lack of posting.  As of now, I've had my surgery and am in recovery.  Things went well, but it's taken a lot more out of me than I expected.  More on that later.

First to back track to the pre-op. 

The pre-op and pre-administration took place just under a week before the surgery.  It was an early morning thing, at the women's hospital section of our nearby hospital.  There were several other women waiting with me by the time a nurse came out with our wrist bracelets.  Then the whole lot of us were taken in (Dh had to stay behind in the waiting room at first) to a media room.

Once everyone who was expected to be there was in, we got to watch a 20 minute VHS movie on what to do after surgery to speed recovery from the anesthetic.  There was the coughing (to help prevent possible infections or pneumonia) while protecting any incisions we might have, deep breathing, and leg exercises to get the blood flowing, in case there were any restrictions during surgery.  It was stressed that we should get up and about as soon as possible, with how to do so safely, again with emphasis to protecting any incisions.

After the video, the nurse that called us in got our heights and weights, then took any paperwork we had.  After that, I was led to an examination room while the other women stayed in the media room to see another movie.  Once there, I was able to go and get Dh to join me.

We weren't there long before the nurse was back and giving us the lowdown.  She spent the most time with us of all.  There was a quick run over my paperwork and medical history.  I even had to mark on a line drawing of the human body exactly where the surgery was to take place (which made me curious as to what happened in the past to make that necessary).  I was reacquainted with what was expected to be done, with a description of a laparoscopy, including being inflated with CO2 and any potential discomfort that might lead to.  At best, the gynecologist was expecting to do a single incision in my naval.  At worse, I'd have an incision from sternum to pubic bone to remove any oddity they might find.  In between were multiple laparoscopic incisions to a "bikini cut" incision for a hysterectomy.  Also discussed was the possible D&C.  All the bases were covered.

Then we got to what I was supposed to do the day before the surgery.  Oh, joy.  First, I was given a bottle of enema solution.  Yup, the evening before the surgery, I was to give myself an enema.  I understand why, but... ick.  Then I was given a seal package with an antiseptic sponge.  I was to use it to wash my entire abdominal area before heading for the hospital.  I was also to start a complete fast beginning midnight before the surgery.  No food or fluids of any kind.  I already had a date for the surgery, but she gave me the time during this visit.  It was for 9:55 am, so a fast from midnight wasn't going to be too big of a challange.

She then described who else was to come in to see me.  She was a bit perplexed that I was to have someone from Internal Medicine to come in to see me, as she could see nothing in my paperwork that showed I needed it.  All my tests had been coming back healthy.  She did mention my weight, though I had assumed it was because she had just weighed me, along with all the other women, a short time ago but Dh said it was suggested as a possible reason for getting a visit from Internal Medicine.  I found out afterwards that, based on previous discussions I'd had with him about it, he was actually looking out for when and how my weight would be brought up.  I'm glad he did.

Shortly after she left, we got our first visit.  An electrocardiogram was to be done.  The tech wheeled in the machine and hooked me up to something like 8 wires, including two attached to my legs, just above the ankles.  She wasn't with us for long, but long enough to tell us that, according to her printout, I have a very healthy heart.

Next in line was Internal Medicine.  She was a very brisk person, and it made for a very short visit.  Like the nurse at the start, she was perplexed as to why she was even there, as there was nothing in my paperwork that told her she was needed.  Everything was showing normal and healthy (other than the presence of George, of course).  Again, she thought it might have something to do with my weight.  We had a brief talk about my medical history and past surgeries, almost none of which had anything to do with her department, and then she was gone.

We had a bit of a wait for the next person.  Another four vials of blood was taken.   That was a quiet one, as she had nothing to ask of me, really.  She took the samples, then put a red, waterproof bracelet on me, making sure I knew to leave it there.  If it was gone when I came back for my surgery, they'd have to take the samples again.  I was quite done with giving blood samples by then, thankyouverymuch!!

Oh, I had forgotten!  There was one more blood test the nurse at the start had written me up for.

A pregnancy test!

In the day or two before my surgery, I was to go in to a lab somewhere and get a pregnancy test done, no matter how unlikely the chance of me being pregnant.  It was standard proceedure.  In asking the nurse, she said that apparently there had been a pregnancy in a patient discovered during surgery.  Considering the type of surgery being done, they just don't take any chances.  If I forgot to get the pregnancy test done, the surgery would be cancelled.  We weren't about to let that happen!

The last person to speak to us was supposed to be the anesthetist.  We waited.

And waited.

And waited.

Finally, Dh went out to ask if there was a problem.  He was told that the anesthetist was called away to an emergency patient.  A few minutes later, the nurse came by to let us know that the anesthetist was "upstairs" (in surgery) and that he'd be with us as soon as he could.

We had some time on our hands.  I got some good progress on the hat I was crocheting at the time!

Considering why he was called away, I was actually a bit surprised it wasn't longer before he came to see us.  He was still in his scrubs and hair cap.  He apologized for the delay, then started going over the paperwork.  He asked questions about whether or not I had sleep apnea, and if I had any caps, crowns or removable dental work.  He was quite happy with my electrocardiogram and the results of my blood work.  Then he made a questioning comment about how, other than my weight, of course, my health was excellent.

Uh huh.

Then he was bustling out again.  After that, we only had to wait for the nurse to come back and cut off my wrist bracelet (not the red one for the blood work!), and we were done.

On the drive home, we chatted about how it went and Dh pointed out the comments on my weight that I had missed earlier.  We found it rather strange that, despite test after test showing how healthy I am, it still was brought up.  Strange, but not surprising, I'm afraid.  Dh hasn't encountered is as much as I have, so now that he's more aware of it, he's catching on to how it comes up in the oddest of ways, sometimes.  It was actually much better than when it usually comes up - no one actually tried to blame anything on my weight.  Easy enough, since there was nothing that could be blamed on my weight, other than it being the possible reason Internal Medicine was called in to talk to me.

Overall, they were all pretty excellent in preparing me for all possibilities and making sure I had opportunity to ask questions.  They left me with no questions I needed to ask!

After we got home, we had the problem of finding a lab to get my blood test done.   Because the surgery was booked for a Monday, we had to find someplace open on the weekends.  The lab we usually go do is open weekdays only (though covered by our medicare system, the labs are privately owned facilities.  Most of the local ones are part of the same franchise).  A friend suggested one place she knew was open on Saturdays, possibly Sundays as well, which was a big help.  Normally I wouldn't bother booking an appointment, but considering the necessities surrounding this test, I actually made an appointment.  I was able to get one of the few open blocks just before they closed on the Saturday, so that worked out rather well.

That done, it was just a waiting game for the surgery.  I will have to write about that later, though.  Sitting in a position I can type in gets uncomfortable rather quickly, and I need to move around.