Wednesday, March 26, 2008


Yes, I know that at 10:50, it's not that late to be claiming I have insomnia. But I also know that I'm not going to sleep in the next hour and a half. And if every night since I've been out of the hospital is any indication, I'm not going to sleep once I go to "sleep" anyway. Actually, the last night at the hospital, I didn't sleep either. And who knew the nurses check on you every hour or so in the hospital? I certainly didn't while I was still on the morphine drip. The last night, the nurse finally commented at four am after I had greeted her with a wave at every hour "you're a light sleeper!" I should have said, No. I'm getting insomnia.

The problem is that at 7 am, I've finally gone back to sleep and the last thing I want to do is wake up and be bright eyed and bushy tailed. Bushy haired, I've got down. Bushy tailed makes me want to slap somebody.

The other issue is that Things Are Going On. Folks, when I don't blog, that is exactly the time that you should assume that the interesting stuff is happening and I'm not telling you about it. I really hope that in the next week, I can tell you all sorts of exciting things. But until it's settled, I don't want to "suppose" or "hope" or "babble like a drunken sailor." Or more accurately "babble like a sleep deprived prisoner."

Speaking of people who might have opinions about Guantanomo Bay, did you know that Bill Clinton was in my neighborhood last weekend? I don't mean "Clinton was in Charlotte" which he was. I mean Bill Clinton had lunch on Friday at the Thomas Street Tavern (.8 miles from my house) and then spoke at the VFW (.5 miles from my house). My local Harris Teeter is between Thomas Street and the VFW. That is wild!!

We're more of an Obama household, if you care to know. And considering that Dave and I are on opposite sides of the street, figuratively speaking, I think that says something. Nonetheless, knowing a prez was within spitting distance of the McDonald's that is within spitting distance of our house is kind of exciting. Dave's comment is that he was disappointed to learn that Clinton had the Un-Sweet tea (not "unsweetened"'s called Un-Sweet tea in the south) for lunch, because Thomas Street has the best regular (i.e., sweet) tea in the city of Charlotte.

Yes, that's where we are in the TMZ-Ization of this world. We don't support your wife for president, but dude, you should drink the sweet tea.

Friday, March 21, 2008

Bye-Bye Nap, Bye-Bye Belly Button

Conor is giving up his nap. We first figured that out recently after we'd put him down and gone outside to do some work and came back to find that Conor's utility steps had been moved around the kitchen and cookies were missing. Being delusional, we hoped that was a one time problem.

Then last weekend, Dave came in to find Conor heading towards our room with a green sharpie to draw on some art he had hung on our wall. (At a child's eye-level and with lots of tape and so damn cute we took three pictures of it). Fortunately, he had bypassed all the knives, scissors and razor blades and focused only on an ink sharpie. Nonetheless, our days of putting him to bed and doing chores as we rely on him actually sleeping are gone.

Bye-bye nap. We really loved you.

I continue to get better, but there are good days and bad days. I went to campus on Monday and was shaking by the time I made it to my office. During my lab meeting with my students, I was sweating and having a hard time focusing. The vast majority of my colleagues have been incredible helpful including my "neighbor" in the office beside mine to volunteered to drive me to my car given the gray, ashen color of my face on Wednesday. (Being a university, one has to walk everywhere. Being I am cheap and won't buy the faculty pass, I park in the student lot and have to walk over 1/2 mile to get to my office. Easy when I'm feeling normal. Slow now).

Teaching has been a blast considering I have to sit down to teach. I'm a pacer with arms and hands that shoot out from my body when I get excited about a topic. Teaching while sitting is annoying. But I still cannot stand for any length of time, so I have to sit and teach. Bleah.

I'm also developing a bit of annoying insomnia that is coming on after I've slept about 4 hours or so. Last night I was obsessing about a senior colleague who has some sway over my career who showed up at my office door on Monday and wanted to know why I still feel bad. That's a quote, "So why do you still feel bad?" I don't know, doofwad. I was under general anaesthesia and had my guts ripped open by a velociraptor, umm, I mean surgeon, just 10 days ago and maybe I'm still feeling a wee bit weak.

This comment bothers me more than the other comments from my colleagues advising me to really take it easy, to stay off campus, and to err on the side of caution gives me comfort. It plays into my fears of being woussy, which is what caused me to go to campus on Weds when I knew damn well I shouldn't and frightened myself and my peers with how crappy I looked (and felt).

In any case, it is very frustrating for me to go from thinking a 45 minute run is a slack off, easy run to realizing that if I was walking any slower, I'd be standing still. I need to get the garden in and I know planting is fine, it's the prepping the soil that scares me. I've got at least half the garden left to prep and Dave has his own chores to do (including finsihing Conor's captain's bed) so the child can move up off a mattress on the floor.

In any case, I'm annoyed. Oh! And I forgot the reason for the second part of this blog's title. My bandages came off my stitches, and now I can fully see...that my belly button is completely tweaked! It used to be so cute! And now it's about half its normal size and squished on the left. It's going to become a lint trap instead of the pretty, open, clean belly button it once was. I'm very sad that my belly button is now so ugly. It's sadly one of the few parts of my body I have always liked. (One might note that in this house, my favorite picture of me as a bride does not include my head) So the one part of my body I have always liked and its ruined.


I'm not really in that bad of a mood, but I am crankier than I'd like to be. I'm ready to be normal again.

Friday, March 14, 2008

Farm Stock

When I woke up in the recovery room, the nurses had me breathe into a device to help me from developing clots in my lungs. I was to do this every hour 5-7 times per hour (although I originally heard it as 17 times per hour which seemed like an odd, arbitrary number to me!). They encouraged me to "do the best I could" that first time. And I did. I realized it was better than average when the nurse pointed out that they wanted me to inhale up to 1000 units and I inhaled to 2500 units. "Whoa," the nurse said. "She's not going to have any problems."

The day after surgery, I had to walk. In fact, I had to walk 3 times that day to get some important reward, which I honestly can't remember now, but I think was along the lines of "sip some water." For the first walk, they told me, it was ok to just walk to the door of my room. I got there and said, "I can keep going" so we went out the door and down the hall a little ways. Dave encouraged me not to go too far, as this was an "out and back" course and we needed to save energy for the return. I made some lame joke about a negative split and turned around sooner than I probably had to.

Two days after the surgery, I had pretty much explored the entire fifth floor of the hospital in my red reindeer pajamas and after one 25 minute walk, wondered if this counted as "real" exercise.

Three days after surgery, when I finally got my IV out, nurses and technicians were cheering my first ambling without the equipment (nurses and technicians I did not know) and some even inquired how I liked my first meal since the surgery that day. (Apperently, I had loudly expressed some enthusiasm about my first meal earlier in the day)

Yesterday, I went for my post-op meeting with my doc who pointed out that we were meeting on the day that the majority of people just get out of the hospital. He also said I could start driving again, a full week earlier than he had said on my discharge papers. (Hooray! School will be much easier next week).

So, I have been feeling pretty hardy. I *am* a hardy person, much more farm stock than thoroughbred. Nonetheless, I'm not quite 100% yet. I decided after yesterday's appt I could go for a walk around the 'hood at lunch. Originally, I planned to do about 1.5 to 2 miles. As I came to the end of my block (oh, let's say about .1 miles from my house) and noted that I was lightheaded and fuzzy, I decided one full block would be plenty. Then 25 minutes later as I shuffled back to the house, I decided yes, that was plenty. (.3 miles in 25 miniutes is not a PR, dontcha know). Last night, I woke up at 2 am in a wee bit of pain and had to take my first vicodin in three days. Waking up this morning was fun!! (Yes, Elizabeth warned me!)

I can't complain. Really. I feel like I am doing exceptionally well. However, I'm still on the mend. I still might give that walk another go today and and see if I can improve on yesterday's time. I can always take a nap and/or catch up on Food Network. Friday afternoons are a real blast around here!!

Finally, I'd like to end this blog with a prayer for some of my extended family. There are sad things afoot in this world and people are making decisions that seem pretty selfish, but also seem, quite frankly, naive, unsophisticated, and reflective of a life lonely and unlived. My prayer is for the children, all the children of this world, who don't understand adult decisions and blame themselves for not being good enough, smart enough, or pretty enough to keep their parents' marriage together. We (as adults) all know their thoughts are not true. Let us hope that the adults involved help the children figure it out, too.

Tuesday, March 11, 2008

Back at Home

Now that I'm a bit more out of that drug induced haze, I have a few more memories of my lost week in the hospital. (Which I would like to point out we purposefully did during Spring Break, but the result is basically that I did not have a conscious Spring Break this year! And the reason it was not "conscious" did NOT have to do with alcohol!)

Anywho, I checked into the operating room with a blood pressure registering at, oh, about 85 over 55. That would be considered "low." The RN freaked out and had me sit down immediately. I pointed out that following my "bowel prep" from the day before, I was a bit dehydrated. She tried to get an IV in me, but alas, I have no veins. They scurried me into the OR prep where more than a few folks fretted over my pathetic veins. (The anaesthesiologist the day before had said that if needed, they'd stick the IV in my neck. Thanks!!) Fortunately, another anaesthesiologist with a talent for finding crap ass veins got my one good dehydrated vein right off the bat and gave my fluids and a sedative.

The next few hours after the surgery remain a haze involving scooting over from my recovery to my hospital bed (owwwwwwww!), repeatedly hitting the button on my morphine pump, and begging for something to drink to wet my parched lips/mouth. Ice chips are nice, but not as helpful as one would imagine for Dr. Dehydrated. Also, my blood pressure remained looooow (95 over 65) until we finally got off the morphine pump. Who knew?

Three days into my stay, after the doctor queried whether my hair would continue to grow bigger and bigger, I opted to take a shower to wash my frizzfest hair and change into my red reindeer pjs and out of my lovely hospital gown. Sitting in the shower sideways on my cold metal shower seat trying not to let the water directly hit my wounds and unable to lift my hands, I would like to officially name that bathing incident as the Worst Shower of My Life. I came out of it wet but not clean and my hair ended up turning into a ginourmous dreadlock that I was only able to untangle yesterday at home. Nonetheless, my red reindeer pjs and animal print fuzzy slippers made me a bit of a (stinky, dreadlocked) fashionista in the surgical ward during my stay. That and the fact that I was about 40 years younger than everyone one else.

A few comments about my family support. My mom moved in with us on Weds and has been as close to wonderful as I could possibly imagine. It's nice being back in NC and having my Mom so close again. Dave has been exceptional, per usual, taking care of both Conor and me and not going too crazy in the process. But Conor. (((sigh))) Can I tell you a little bit about my son??

I called the house early, early the morning after the surgery because 1) I hadn't slept and 2) I missed Conor. Dave put him and the phone and we started the normal toddler conversation "How are you, Conor?" "I'm fine." "What are you doing?" "I'm making breakfast." And then he interrupted me, "Mommy, how are you feeling???" I thought my heart would explode.

After Dave dropped him off at school that morning and came to visit me at the hospital, he brought a card Conor had made for me. It was a picture of Conor and the words that Conor had wanted written under it "Mommy, I want to give you a kiss. Conor" Again, I thought I was going to die.

Then on Friday afternoon, Conor showed up with a project he has spent all of day making for me carrying it in a big bad labelled "For the Best Mommy From Conor". Within it was a big heartshaped decorated card that said "Mommy, I want to give you hugs! kisses too, and I want you here. I love you." (I think the teacher came up with that one!) and about 10 sheets of drawings and Conor practicing writing his name and "Mom" and "Dad".

The piece de resistance, however, was on Saturday night, when we were walking around the hospital corridors getting exercise and Conor kept holding and kissing my hand and saying "I love you, Mommy!" while every nurse, nurse's assistant, technician, patient and visitor melted at how adorable my son truly is.


So now I'm back home and getting off the pain pills. I feel like I'm either pushing myself too hard or not quite pushing myself enough. I'm trying to do work and still take it easy. Traveling is a bit harder than I thought it would be, but I can't stand just sitting here all the time. I get my staples out on Thursday (Have I mentioned that it looks like a metal millipede is eating my belly button? No? Well, yeah. I have a picture! It made my Mom scream!) :-)

Ok. It is time to figure out what I can get done for the day and when I can nap and should shower. It's been an eventful two weeks, no?

Saturday, March 08, 2008

Still Here

Howdy. I made it through the surgery and doing well for the most part. I know that I'm doing well for folks who have had this surgery. Nonetheless, it does not feel as though bunnies have recently kissed my toes. I have a largish (to me) gash through my belly button and two smaller holes near my bikini line. These are all stapled together and look horrible. (to me)

I still have my IV and they say I can finally start a liquid diet today. I haven't eaten solids since Monday. Hopefully, if I can eat solids tomorrow, they'll let me go home.

I'm off the morphine pump (awwww) so I'm in a bit more pain, but I'm more uncomfortable than incapacitated. I'm sick of this damn hospital bed and my back is all tweaked from being in it. I cannot figure out how to situate it so that my back and belly are not competing for being the most painful part of my body. I'm also having to wear electronic air massage leggings/chaps to keep me from throwing a clot while I sleep. Lovely. Honestly. Lovely.

The weird thing about my belly is that the wounds don't hurt. There are parts to this side or that that hurt. And the poor thing is bloated and hard. I had to figure out how to pee again. Seriously, it took me two or three times before I figured out what I was supposed to do! And the tooting started back last night. And being that I am related to my family, it has come back with a vengeance: I woke myself up a couple of times in the night. These are all good signs, but not really fun.

Ok. the nurse is coming back with some vicodin. Hooray

Tuesday, March 04, 2008

Luckiest Woman Alive (Sort of)

So I have done some "cognitive restructuring" and I actually think this is a good thing. "This" for those of you just tuning in is finding out I have to have colon surgery.

The good part, as I see it, is that I am not pregnant. What an odd thing for an infertile to say. However, if I was preggers, they certainly would not be able to do a CAT scan, what with all that contrast solution and xrays. And my uterus would be pressed up against a bad infection, possibly all squished up against it. And this could hurt the baby and, I would imagine, my uterus. Bad, bad.

Another reason that this is a good thing is that prednisone and diverticulitis? Not such a good thing. And since I will be taking prednisone for the first three months of a pregnancy and at a higher dose, well, let's just say the scenarios don't turn out well. That alone has been enough to convince me to wholeheartedly do this surgery.

And folks, this is apparently a surgery. I met with the anaesthesiologist today. He pooh-poohed my comments that I was sensitive to anaesthesia and said they planned to put me in a deep sleep. Period. Also, he said they are going to stick a tube down my throat to breathe for me. (Hint #1 that there might be pain later)

We met with the surgeon again and he was again very positive. However, it was only towards the end that he mentioned that he was taking out 8 inches! Yikes! (Hint #2) Although he says that's not much at all, I perceive it to be a good deal!

He also snickered when I mentioned that I would be going back to teach next week. Yes, he actually laughed and the caught himself. (Hints #3)

Then there was discussion of the morphine pump (Hint #4) and that Conor maybe shouldn't come visit me until Friday (Hint #5). Oh and the catheter (Hint #6).

Oh and finally, they are going to staple my colon back together instead of stitch it back together. Also, to test the "seal" of the colon, they'll pump water in my stomach, hold my intenstines, and see if there's a leak. Lovely! Of course, the way they staple my guts back together is that they have to stick part of it up my booty (Hint #7).

There is some good news from today: I get to drink gatorade tomorrow morning before the surgery so I won't be so dehydrated and they have to stick my veins a zillion times to find one that works. What a relief. (Slight sarcasm)

So, yes, I'd better lose some weight out of this. Some real weight and not just fluid. I'm not counting on it though because I am contrarian in that way. I'll probably end up fatter and older than ever.

Hopefully, I'll be able to blog from the hospital. Rumor is they have wireless there.

Sunday, March 02, 2008

Well, I Didn't See That Coming Part II

So the problem started about a week ago. I was working in my office when I started havng serious AF cramps. The only thing that concerned me was that this was the last day of AF and I have never had cramps on the last day of AF. Ok, the other thing that concerned me was how much it it: I felt like I was in labor. If I had been pregnant, I would have called the doula.

The next day, I was still in pain. But this time, it was more specific and "stabby". Also, when I, ummmm, tried to go to the bathroom, it hurt like a mother. And the pain wasn't in my booty, but in my belly. When I was trying to "relax" to go to the bathroom, it hurt so much I nearly shot up off the potty. Again, childbirth came to mind, it felt an awfully lot like trying to pooh the first week after giving birth. It really hurt and it scared me.

I knew it wasn't a bowel obstruction because of course I got online to see if I was dying or if I just had a really horrible case of constipation. As this is really unusual for me, I seriously thought of emailing Dooce to see if she had any advice.

The pain continued off and on for four more days, right around the same time I was in the throes of the flu. Going potty still hurt a lot. Lying on my side in my bed hurt. Sitting up in my bed hurt. Walking sometimes hurt. At one point, the pain was so bad that even though I was sitting in the chair, I had to get on the floor in Cat/Cow to see if I could find any relief.

So Thursday morning, I got up and it still really hurt to potty, so I finally called the doctor. I told the triage nurse my symptoms and they invited me in immediately. The doctor took some x-rays and said she didn't see anything but just to be ultra-safe, she wanted me to get a CAT (or CT) scan. Here's where I was starting to feel foolish: I wasn't in pain anymore. I honestly thought they were wasting all this time and money on me and it was just bad constipation and I was a totally complain-y pants. Because I have never had a CAT scan, I didn't realize that my 3:00 appt really was a 4:30 appt because I had to drink the barium stuff and then they had to put an IV of contrasting dye to check out all my organs etc. (Wonderful side effect of the IV drug is that you seriously feel like you're peeing yourself. Lovely!!) So what turned into a quick check up at the doctor's ended up spending half the day getting checked out.

All in all, it felt like no big whoop and because I had not really eaten anything that day, I honestly felt a lot better. In fact, I told Dave I wish I'd waited one more day because I would not have gone in.

I heard nothing that night nor early the next morning, so I rightly assumed there was nothing so awful that they needed me to go to the hospital. Besides, I felt fine except for an occassional stab in my gut.

The doctor called at 11:15 on Friday. She apologized for not calling last night. "No problem!" I said. "How are you feeling?" she asked softly. That's a little weird, I thought, but I said, "I'm doing much better. No pain and no fever." "Well, I'm glad that we did that CAT scan," she told me.

Let me point out that no doctor ever starts a comment with "Well, I'm glad we did that extra, expensive test" and it end up with "because we found nothing wrong at all! What a great waste of time and money that was!!" I think that's about as rare "I'm glad we did that CAT scan because we were finally able to see someone who is as beautiful on the inside as she is on the outside."

Nope, she instead continued "Yes, you have diverticulitis with a small abscess. I'd like to set you up with a surgeon immediately. It's small enough you may not need surgery, but I want a surgeon to evaluate that. Do you have a surgeon in town? No? I'll find you one. And by the way, your IVF is off the table until this is resolved."

"Ummm, ok." (I have not told you that the IVF had officially just been finally put on the table on Wednesday. We had our first meetings set up to coincide with the start of my next cycle. It was a complete "go".)

Three hours later I'm in the surgeon's office after having done only minimal playing of Dr. Google because I had a ton of meetings. The surgeon (who has the name of a cute doctor on a popular medical show, I humorously noted) came in and again explained the diagnosis. I told him that I was really surprised because I consciously really try to eat at least 20 grams of fiber a day. He said that it was very unusual for someone my age to have this problem. Indeed, he called me "young" and "thin." (HA!! It's official!! A doctor called me Young and Thin! I like this doctor!! However, I did not want to point out to him that based on what I saw in the waiting room, his practice is skewed to the Old and Fat. But let's not burst his deceptive bubble, eh?)

So, yes being as young and thin (ahem) as I am, it's really bad for me to have diverticulitis, particularly with an abscess. Therefore, I'm going to soon need surgery to remove it (And the conversation had been going so well! Why all of a sudden this turn to the worse???)

"How soon is soon? Like 5 years?"

"Uh, no. In a month."

I started crying and explained the whole IVF thing. He said IVF was off the table until this was resolved. And then he said, well, he knew of one woman recently who only had to spend 4 days in the hospital and then blah, blah, blah, blah, blah.

"Ummm, let's go back a second. Did you say 'hospital for 4 days?'"

"Yes, this is major surgery. I'm not giving you any good news here."

"You suck!" I laughingly told him.

"Can I get a second opinion on that?" he replied.

"Yeah, you still suck!"

(OK, so I was not quick enough for the "you still suck" rejoinder, but the first part was accurate! And funny.)

So, ummm, yeah. There we go. I am on spring break this week and since I don't get sick leave, it seems like now is a good a time as any in the next 4 weeks. Also, my IVF clinic will not start anything until 2 months after this is resolved, and my RE is voting for surgery. IVF is apparently off the table for him until I have this surgery.

Surgery for this at my age is controversial. What everyone agrees on is at my age, I am very, very likely to get this again including the abscess. Additionally, if it reoccurs while I am pregnant, there will be an infection rubbing up against my uterus and could kill the baby. (A bad thing indeed) Theoretically, I could google "diverticulitis abscess pregnant IVF" but I really don't think there's going to be a whole wide range of studies and support groups for this particular problem. It's really, really rare to get diverticulitis with an abscess at age and with my usually healthy habits. (Young!! Thin!!)

We're going in Tuesday to meet with the doctor and at this point, the surgery is set for Wednesday. I hope to be home from the hospital on Sunday. I should be back up to speed in 2-3 weeks and then we'll wait 2 months and then FINALLY freakin' start IVF.

I cannot apparently take the easy route from Point A to Point B

Saturday, March 01, 2008

Well, I Didn't See That Coming

I really need to update my blog more frequently so I can blog about the things I really want to blog about and not all these WTF moments.

For example, I am falling in love with my house again: our two cherry trees are in full, massive pink bloom and along with the 40 jonquil bulbs I planted last fall signal that spring is on the way. I am very excited to be back in the yard. I even enjoyed the Ivy Killing a few weeks ago in which I did a victory dance in my war gloating in my power from pulling up 20% of the massive field of ivy beside the house. Then the next day, I could not move as nearly every muscle in my body protested. We figure the Ivy got its revenge.

And the beauty products, YES! Things are working. First, I've been using the regenerist for a couple of months and think my skin feels and looks smoother. I've also started using "Primer" (from Revlon, although the book mentions some from Sephora). This is supposed to tighten and lighten my face. You can ever wear it alone. I think it does, but the real improvement has been switching to Revlon's Age Defying make up from its Stay-all-day based foundaton. Oh, heavens, is there a difference in how fewer wrinkles there are. Yes. Definitely try that.

And the best youth producer of all is having my hair highlighted. Years and years have been taken off my appearance from that alone. I can't afford the salons, so I've found someone who s local and independent. I'm not sure she used the exact color I wanted versus she used the color that bleaching my hair came out too. Nonetheless, it looks So Much Better. (Lightening one's hair is one of the biggies for How Not to Look Old. Get the book.)

So those blogs entries have been rolling around my head looking for the right time to come out in witty and profound glory. Not throwaway paragraphs in the above. But there you go.

Dave and I have actually come up with a couple of titles for this blog. I opted for the above, but we might well have used:

Supporting the Medical Community in Charlotte

First, Conor's update. He has continued to have diarrhea off and on for about two weeks. (Conor would like to you know that is a Long Word) The school has become increasingly worried because he's been crying and not following rules. None of that is typical so after one particularly horrible morning for Conor at school, we took him to the pediatrician. Apparently, his bowel has not recovered from his first bout of diarrhea, so all that dairy in the form of milk and cheese we've been giving him has not been so good. Oopsie Daisy! We've cut back on all cheese and are giving him lactaid and remain only with a few "juicy toots" throughout the day, but not bad poopies.

I would like to point out what a good phrase "juicy toot" is. For example, "I don't give a juicy toot what you think about that" would be an excellent rejoinder. Feel free to use it on your own.

So, Conor is doing better. I, on the other hand, well, do you remember the last time I got the flu? Well, I can't find the post, but the last time I had the flu they found a sinus infection that filled 75% of my head. This time, the problem occupies a different region, although I'm sure many folks think have my head up my a$$.

Ok....the family is up and I need to finish this later.