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voiceomt2002's Blog
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Six Months Later 07-19-2008 - 08:35 PM
Well, if evidence weren't already there enough, my life has come almost a complete full circle.

When I first discovered I was ill, I was at a conference in Daytona. Now that conference will return to Florida next spring, but this time in Orlando. Darned if I didn't just get a phone call, and I've been invited to speak!

In Daytona I wore a lot of black to hide the constant bleeding, and was in a lot of pain. Three years later, I'll go as the whole new me --happier and healthier than I've been in years.

I've released a pile of books this year, too. My Muse has returned with a vengeance! I can even afford to take this winter off. Now that's stylin' high!

Lena
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Happy Days are Here Again... 02-04-2008 - 10:52 PM
I'm in the new house, it's almost spring, and all the weight I packed on has begun to slide off. Slowly, oh so slowly, I'm returning to normal.

A year ago, I almost died of DVT. Funny how life changes. I loved the results of the hysterectomy and felt so good. Then DVT and all the misdiagnoses that eventually were solved when a smart PA suddenly realized I had severe sleep apnea.

Now, I'm back on track with a book releasing next month, and three new book contracts. My house is clean as a whistle, with bread baking in the bread machine, and my dear little kitty (a present during my Hyster-recovery) sleeping on my desk beside me.

I'm planning my garden, sewing blankets for The Linus Project, and doing my giant picture window in the living room in a faux stained glass seascape.

Life is good again. It's taken eighteen months. Not bad. They weren't kidding about it taking a year or so. I didn't believe them then. I do now.
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A New House and a sad Goodbye 12-03-2007 - 09:50 PM
We're buying a house! A beautiful house on almost an acre of lush Florida land! The closing is Dec 7, 2007. Am I thrilled? You betcha!

My little hobby of faux stained glass will come in handy. There's a huuuge picture window in the living room. I value my privacy, so I'll be doing a great big seascape with mermaids and dolphins.

What's the sad part? My daughter Phoenix is moving to Colorado. That's where she was happiest and where her two younger sisters still live. She swears she'll ride herd on my other hellions. For her, it's going home.

I feel like another page is about to turn.

Lena
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My Surgery Saved Life But Not How You Think 11-14-2007 - 08:29 PM
Like so many others here, I had terrible pain, anemia, fibroids, and endometriosis wrapping all my organs until I was a solid lump of pain. My abdominal hysterectomy was a godsend all just for that.

Then I developed DVT, and wondered if my life would ever be free of doctors, needles, and a box full of medications for everything from depression to bladder issues. I couldn't even wear my closet full of nice clothes because I'd gained so much weight. Worse, I they discovered I have the genetic predisposition for it. Without my hysterectomy and the careful monitoring thereafter, I'd have died.

Until the doctor's new assistant came to monitor me for a refill of all those pills. I admit to a bad mood, and I complained bitterly that I felt worse than ever. My career had come to a grinding halt, I was badly overweight, and I slept half my life away without feeling rested.

Bingo. Diagnosis of sleep apnea. Severe sleep apnea. The deadly kind. The kind that brings on depression, weight gain, bodily functions out of whack, inability to think or function normally, falling asleep at inapropriate times (like driving), and heart problems. No wonder I was miserable despite being pain-free for the first time in years.

Now, it's been two weeks since my CPAP machine arrived. I love that thing. Reminds me of the fancy rebreathers I used when scuba diving. I'm writing again. I'm taking my dog on walks three times a day, and laughing about it. I wake up singing, which annoys the cat but who said life is perfect?

I will never be sorry I had a hysterectomy. It saved my life. Twice. Maybe three times. Life is beautiful again, and worth living.
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Happiness in a Hysterversy 10-27-2007 - 08:15 PM
My journey toward recovery has taken a few twists and turns, but through it all I felt great joy. Now I have a new reason to celebrate on my hysterversy.

For years now, I snored badly. It was a personal embarrassment. A few months before my surgery, it got so bad my husband made gentle complaints and began wearing earplugs. What neither of us recognized was that I had severe sleep apnea. Those snores signaled that I'd soon stop breathing in my sleep.

Many folks don't know that apnea also can affect other seemingly unrelated health issues such as depression, blood sugars, blood pressure, and WEIGHT GAIN. Here I'd been dieting and exercising with no results. I'd thought I was a failure. It wasn't that I failed, it's that my poor sleep-deprived brain had gone into a weird form of starvation mode.

After spending two separate nights in a surprisingly cozy sleep lab (I've slept in hotels with less luxury), I'll soon have my CPAP machine. I can hardly wait.

BTW, I have a new dog. A schnauzer we've named Baron. He was a rescued stray, and he's a "senior." LOL!

PS. I just signed a contract to co-write a series with my eldest daughter. She's funny! She ghosted my last book with me, and I'm getting raves over the snappy dialogue. Yep, I'm a proud mama. My eldest is adopted, and I love her very much.
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Just a Quickie Note 09-30-2007 - 07:00 AM
For those whose holidays may be interrupted by their hysterectomy recovery, may I recommend FlyLady.net? There's a lovely holiday control journal that can help keep you busy while you set it up with your favorite recipes, card lists, gift lists, etc. Then, you'll have a one-stop place to look next year to make all future holidays easier.

I set my Holiday Control Journal up last year while I recovered, and this year I calmly walked over and pulled it off the shelf.

Lena
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Hysterversy #1 Approaching 09-15-2007 - 08:18 AM
What a difference a year makes. Last year on this date, I could only sit in my recliner and moan in pain. I was swollen like a pregnant toad and unable to work.

October 30, I had my surgery and felt immediately better. Was I swollen? Yes, but now I had a reason. Swelly belly was a blessing, because there was less pain. As a gift to keep me amused, I'm given a black kitten named Prince.

January 13th, I was admitted to the hospital with DVT. My doctors yanked me off my beloved HRT, sure that was the reason for my DVT. Prince too has surgery. I don't think he was any happier than I.

From January to September, I've worked and played like a child on recess. I ran screaming out the door into the sun and never looked back. I've written five novellas, and now I'm finally working on the novel that's been on hold since I fell ill. My fan mail says they detect a new joy in my writing. Prince and I both recovered together, and I started the Cat Captivity Journals with my daughters, telling of the antics of our cats. They're a big hit.

September 5th, my doctor finally admits she may have been a tad hasty in yanking me off HRT. Seems I have the Factor 5 mutation (an inherited condition from my paternal side) where thick, easily coagulated blood exists naturally. I will be on blood thinners the rest of my life. While I wish they'd figured this out last January, being off HRT hasn't hurt me that much. I'm still loving life. Prince, now a year old and no more calm than the day he arrived, decorates my desk and attacks my hand when I use the mouse.

I've even started a new hobby --faux stained glass. It's beautiful and fun.

Life is beautiful.
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Recovered and Free 06-15-2007 - 09:54 PM
It's June, and a little over a year since I first began having serious problems. This time last year, I was bleeding, anemic, my hair was falling out, I was swollen like a puffer fish, and my stomach looked like I had a "miracle baby" pregnancy going on. Yuk. I look at the pictures and just shudder. We won't discuss the pain, okay?

By the middle of autumn, I was seriously stoned on the strongest pain meds my doc could give me, enduring more needle pricks than I care to think about, and actively suicidal. The only thing that kept me going was HysterSisters.

Flash forward to today, and you'd never know I'd been ill. I cut off all my medication/anesthesia laced hair, lost a few pounds (lots more to go), quit smoking, and gained a whole new lease on life. Energy and verve? I've tons to spare!

The future is bright, and I'm here to enjoy it. Viva la difference!

Lena
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The Incredible Shrinking Lena 03-19-2007 - 08:58 AM
(Just a quick little post until after the grandchildren are gone next week)

While I've had my ups and downs, I've had more ups than downs. Sure, I've got DVT and I'll be on blood thinners awhile longer. This actually turned out to be a good thing in the end, because I got to see a dietician. Being on blood thinners means special dietary considerations. Surprise!! The dietician and I spend an hour and a half together laughing and working out a reasonable --I--can--live--with--this-- plan. By golly, it's working.

The walking I started to do as soon as I could after surgery has been a god send. I've more energy than I've had in years, no pain, no periods, no swollen belly, and the greatest nookie I've had in years. My pedometer says I've doubled the number of steps I take in a day compared to my first post-op outside walk. Hooray!

Well, I just had to say something good about being Post-op. Bye now!
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Normal is a Setting on my Washing Machine 03-07-2007 - 06:59 AM
Back to about as normal as my life gets, I think. I won't post much this March. I've a deadline looming --like, 9 days to finish six chapters. Eeeek!

Happy news! My daughter Merri and her family will fly in to see us at the end of this month. I'm thrilled. I babysat her eldest, Hope Rose, when she was an infant, but I've never seen the new baby, Marcus.

My husband, Mr Grouchy, keeps mumbling that we are not taking them to Disney World. No, we're not. I don't have $10K laying around in the bank for food, hotels, and tickets. DUH! However, I know what the old grump means by his statements. He would love to take his grandchildren to Disney World and resents the fact that he can't. He's only crusty on the outside, really. He's a big marshmallow when it comes to all four of the grandkids.

I know what we'll do instead. We'll drive down to St. Augustine and visit the old town. To save money and avoid the tourist trap restaurants, we'll pack a cooler or two. One with drinks, one with food. And of course we'll have to spend a bit of time at the beach. Merri was raised with a beach nearby, so that will renew her spirit.

Well, our new publicity manager is emailing me about the book signing in Houston, and now she wants me to do another one this summer. (sigh) I still feel so odd doing them. I'm still the nerd who's more comfortable with a keyboard than people.

Lena
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Another episode of "As the Stomach Churns" 03-01-2007 - 06:29 AM
When I was hospitalized for the DVT, one of my doctors had a less than pleasant attitude when she came to see me. I'm happy to report she was much nicer this last time. I'll have to make a special appointment to see her about this home test kit. Very interesting.

There are still no finger prick strips available in NE Florida. (sigh) I've now got a standing appointment at the lab. Fortunately for me, the manager is as skilled as a surgeon in getting a vein the first time. I was so happy with her, I gave her the last copy of my book set in Egypt and signed it.

Lena
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DVT Update...the continuing saga 02-19-2007 - 10:06 AM
I went to the ER again last Tuesday. We won't go into the difficulty of getting an IV established. I had the sonogram on my leg, and they found nothing. No clot. I had a CT scan too. That's a trip! Nice to know I have a very healthy heart, but they sent me home with a patronizing pat on the head. I was glad to be sent home. The hospital was full. That tiny ER cubicle would have been my room for up to two days!

Today is my visit with my GP. I've an appointment with the pulmonologist on Friday. I'm going to tell them both my right leg still hurts, and I still can't breathe. Try sneezing when you can't get a lung full of air first.

Do I want to go back to the hospital? Heck no, but I want to die even less.

Worst of all, the coumadin clinic is out of the finger prick test strips. They've gone back to blood draws. Oh, goodie. Let's see if they can turn me into a pin cushion every week before they finally get enough blood to run the test.

In desperation, I went on the web and found out it is possible to buy the test kits and test yourself using the finger prick, much as the diabetics do. I've sent for the information.

Lena
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Child of my Heart 02-12-2007 - 10:12 PM
With my own bio-daughters so far away in Denver and OKC, I've found a great deal of solace in my adoptive daughter Tuesday and her children. Tuesday, or TJ as she is sometimes called, had a life most of us would consider a nightmare. She has known little but neglect, drug and alcohol addicted parents, domestic violence at the hands of a former fiancee, and unwed motherhood. She was close to suicide when I met her, though I did not know it.

My eldest dragged TJ home like a bedraggled alley cat one day, and basically she never left. (smile) Even when she moved east while I still lived in Colorado, she called weekly or emailed. I became the Mom she'd only heard about, acting as her midwife when her son was born, teaching her to cook, sew, and enjoy crafting. She baked her first pie here in my kitchen, and her daughter sat up for the first time right in my dining room. She is the child of my heart, right along with those of my body.

The young woman who fed her baby a bottle and discussed embroidery stitches with me today is a far cry from that pink-and-purple haired punk in neoprene and leather who seemed bent on self-destruction at age sixteen. The girl who slept through high school now goes to an online college with an A average.

TJ is one year older than my biological daughters. She considers it her duty to check on them, advise them, and if necessary administer swift kicks. Am I proud of all my girls? Darn right I am.

Recently, TJ repaid all that love by saving my life. She's the one who begged me into going to the ER when I had DVT. While I was hospitalized, she finalized my last manuscript and turned it in for me so I wouldn't miss my deadline.

I cannot ask for more than what this child of my heart has provided, and I thank God every day for sending her to me. We saved each others' lives.

Lena
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I confess re DVT 02-07-2007 - 08:53 PM
(Deep, shaky breath) I confess. I've found another DVT clot, this time in my right leg. Until tonight, I hid it from DH and Dante, but they couldn't help but notice when I stood from my chair and almost fell on my face.

DH has that stern look he gets when he might try to convince me to go back to the ER. Nope. I refuse to go back to that hellhole for more torture. It's bad enough they get blood draws from me every week and I can't even have a salad anymore. This is why I take their nasty horse pills every bloody day.

I cannot face the possibility of going back to the ER. Even the very image of an IV setup brings terrorized tears to my eyes. Heck, the PICC line scar has just closed over. I want to crawl under my desk and whimper, "Leave me alone!"

Ironically, my overall attitude is excellent. Today is our 26th Anniversary, and my latest print book released to the distributors today. I should have it for the big Houston convention and book signing in late April. I'm so thrilled.

Lena
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Carpal Tunnel and Embroidery 02-05-2007 - 09:44 PM
I'm happy right now. I discovered the latest invention for punch embroidery, and I'm pleased to report it works fairly well as a substitute for the fine needle stitching I'm no longer capable of doing.

Long ago, I won awards for my embroidery, so it was a painful parting when carpal tunnel prevented me from enjoying my beloved hobby. I gave away much of my collection to my daughters, who thankfully have carried on the tradition.

Now, thanks to the new punch embroidery tool, I can once again do the most common stitches: backstitch, satin, and even french knots. DH has been generous, buying me the whole set of punch, hoop, and stand. He says he loves seeing me sitting in my chair once again, stitching and watching television again. I love it too. My hands felt so empty when I watched television.

Now if I could just keep the kitten out of my embroidery silks collection...

Lena
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Happiness is being a Heifer 01-31-2007 - 08:15 AM
My scale says I've lost a minimum of nine pounds. The others report similar losses, though the official monthly weigh-in is the first of every month.

I must say this is easier than I thought. Even the math doesn't cause a headache. While the official weight charts say I should weigh about 145 lbs, I've not been that light since I was in my early teens. I'll settle for 175 to start. Since I have a sedentary job, I multiply my goal weight by 10, and come up with 1750 calories per day. A chart in the book says I should eat about 234 carbs per day to match that. Very easy!

So far, I've been under both numbers every day. I can't wait to show my food diary to the doctor. Yes, I'm proud as punch. So are the other members of the Heifer Club.

Lena
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Not HRT, but a good substitute 01-30-2007 - 01:16 PM
Since I developed DVT (deep vein thrombosis), they took me off my wonderful HRT, Premarin. Oh, that hurt! Not only was I a pincushion for every clumsy lab tech in town, but they dumped me into surgical menopause.

I didn't mind sweating like a pig, and I can deal with the occasional pimple, but the unfortunate return of my darkest depression bordered on dangerous. I toed the line toward suicide, and occasionally teetered very close to the edge. This got scary, so I'm glad I had an appointment with my Primary Care Physician.

Bless my PCP! She recommended a new anti-depressant called Lexapro. It's so new it doesn't have a generic equivalent yet, and my wallet screamed to pay the pharmacist. Still, this stuff works so well I can hardly believe it. I'm sleeping more than six hours and I'm back to my usual cheerful self. I'm writing until I fall asleep at the keyboard (my energy levels still aren't back to pre-op levels yet) instead of running out of creative "juice."

I've fourteen days until I visit the GYN to discuss alternative HRT. Y'know, as long as I have Lexapro, I may not need the rest yet. There may come a day when the hot flashes, night sweats, and pimples become too much, but until then I'm okay. Really okay.

Nap time! I wrote this morning, and now my brain needs a recharge. <snore>

Lena
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The Heifer Club 01-28-2007 - 07:57 AM
LOL!! My daughters and their friends have joined me in my diet, bless their hearts. My eldest, Phoenix, named it the Heifer Club and made a Yahoogroup just so we could keep track of our progress and be responisble to one another.

All but one of us are using the same diet, normally reserved for diabetics, out of the same book. (I'll give the title and ISBN in private email if asked.) We figure that since diabetics must live with this diet the rest of their lives, it must be something reasonable and simple. This has proven to be the case.

After one week, even though most of us have "blown it" for one meal, we all managed to come back and stay under the carb and calorie count in most cases. One daughter did discover just how many calories and carbs she slugged down in her sodas every day. She has proverbially hung her head and already claimed The Heifer Award for the week, saying she doubts anyone else will blow 900 calories extra in a day.

That's our very simple award/punishment system. If you blow your diet badly enough, you get your ugliest "fat" picture up on the group home page, surrounded by a pig "frame." If we all are good, there will be an angel jpg posted instead. That's a requirement for joining: you hand over a full body jpg of yourself --yes, fully clothed-- that shows your body in all it's heifer glory.

It works. None of us want that Heifer Award and the peer pressure adds incentive as we all report honestly on our "lessons learned." Every day a club member reports something, whether it be good or bad. My middle daughter Merri reported she's taken to chasing around her toddler for a ticklefest whenever she feels the urge to snack. My youngest Susan has taken up walking during her lunch breaks at work, and their friend Jamie reports her husband has given her a gym membership where she swears the trainer is trying to kill her. LOL!

Well, it's the weekend and my DH and I want to spend time together. Bye for now!

Lena
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Equilibrium Regained 01-24-2007 - 03:40 PM
Well, it's been almost a week since they released me from the hospital, and I'm not as crazy as I was. My PCP gave me a prescription for an anti-depressant to help with the sudden menopausal mood swings. That helped considerably. She agrees I can try bio-identical hormones or some of the other alternatives, if my GYN agrees. I'll see him on the 13th. I can wait. As you can imagine, I'm kind of over seeing folks in scrubs for awhile.

Nice thing is, the PCP also decided to (pardon the pun) weigh in on my obesity issue. Since I'm on Coumadin and that requires a special diet, my PCP is justified in referring me to a dietician. I'm keeping a food diary with carb and calorie counts, and I've managed to be honest so far. I'll be embarrassed to "explain" that one chocolate chip cookie, but one little slip won't kill me. Doc wants me to keep track for six months. I can do that easily. Heck, I've been a dieter of one kind or another so long, food diaries are almost second nature.

I'm not doing too badly.

Lena
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Deep Vein Thrombosis Scare 01-21-2007 - 09:28 PM
I have just experienced the most horrible week I can imagine, and I wish I could say the nightmare was over. It is not, but let me start at the beginning.

New Year’s weekend, I had the flu for the second time. When I recovered, my left calf had a “Charlie horse” that would not go away. I took a lot of aspirin, but another problem also cropped up that took more of my attention. I had a pain just under my right rib cage area that occasionally made it difficult to breathe. Neither problem seemed to resolve itself, but I had a deadline the holidays had delayed. I ignored my physical issues and sweated over my work.

Finally, with my manuscript complete, I could no longer ignore my worsening physical problems. The “Charlie horse” had knotted up so badly I could not walk with ease, and my chest pain had reached the stage that I could no longer hide it from my husband and roommate.

On the 13th of January, I complained of these issues to my eldest daughter, who promptly had a conniption. TJ has experience with DVT and pulmonary thrombosis, and recognized the possibility of the dangerous symptoms. She begged me, and then convinced my menfolks to take me to the doctor. My doctor didn’t have Saturday hours, so we casually set out for the hospital ER, certain they’d send me home with a fistful of Tylenol. How wrong we were.

The ER staff agreed with my daughter, and so began a hellish five-day nightmare. They could not establish an IV, not even after thirteen sticks. My veins are never an easy stick to begin with, but my blood literally clotted right in the IV catheters. “Something is very wrong here,” one nurse muttered. Some twelve hours after my arrival, they were forced to perform a PICC (sp) line procedure using a special team called in from their time off.

Within 24 hours, DVT was confirmed in my left leg. Deep Vein Thrombosis --a life threatening blood clot that could break loose, travel to my heart, and kill me. It would be several days before the preliminary diagnosis of pulmonary embolism (a clot that was already dangerously close to my lungs) would be revised to walking pneumonia.

Needle phobic persons have nightmares about what I went through for five days. I will not cause my friends distress by relating every horrific detail, but suffice it to say my beloved HRT was partially to blame, as well as my love for leafy green vegetables in large amounts. My estrogen pills were forbidden, and I was loaded up with Heparin and Coumadin, both blood thinners. This necessitated a minimum of one daily blood draw JUST to check how thin my blood was. This did not include any other lab tests demanded by the doctors.

The PICC line was a waste of time, since I’d agreed to the procedure on the promise that all blood draws would be done from there, painlessly. Not so. The Heparin, going in through the PICC line, made all draws from that arm useless.

On the second night, I reached my mental limit after a male lab tech failed to get a blood draw, blew my vein digging around, and then had the nerve to lecture me about my tears and how he had to “do his duty.” He was lucky I was slower than my husband to kick his (ahem!) out of my room, and the IV lines tethered me to within a few feet of the bed. When his replacement arrived without warning, my already short fuse lit and blew. I threw back the covers, demanded AMA (against medical advice) release papers, and threatened to walk home in my pajamas. That was my limit, and I could take no more blood draws.

I am not sure whether to thank a nurse named Janice or not. Janice put on her best “nurse drill sergeant” mode, coldly spelled out the facts of how I could die if I left, and reminded me I still had the removal procedure of the PICC line before I could go. (I think she deliberately made things seem worse than they truly were to achieve her goal of getting me to agree to stay.) She also negotiated her best compromise, promising to call the doctors and get them to prescribe a permanent tranquilizing solution in my IV for the duration of my stay, to be administered fifteen minutes before a lab tech showed their face in the doorway. This was done as agreed.

Why don’t I want to thank Janice? Because I’m in surgical menopause, depressed, volatile emotionally, and my arms from wrist to above the shoulder look like they belong on a weirdly colored Dalmatian. I am still being tortured, despite having achieved release from the hospital on Thursday the 18th. Every week, I must visit the Coumadin Clinic and get another blood draw to check my blood thinness levels. I cannot imagine a worse torture, and my depression makes suicidal thoughts a regular occurrence.

Were it not for my GYN, who has given me much hope for the future, I might have already attempted the unthinkable. My GYN has promised to discuss alternative HRT with me on the 13th of February, when I see him. I also do like my Pulmonary Critical Care Specialist. Bless his cute little leprechaun looks and demeanor; he acts as if he really wishes he could spare me the horror. (Even if he’s faking, he’s a convincing actor.)

I try to remain grateful. I’m home, sleeping next to my husband. Once a week blood draws are better than daily. I’m no longer tethered to five feet of IV line, limiting my movement to the point where I had to ask permission to go to the bathroom. The food is definitely better here at home! LOL!! I can breathe again.

Why did I write this? Because somewhere out there, another Sister may have a “Charlie horse” in her body. Maybe she can make an informed decision and know to pack before going to the ER. (Grin)
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My Perfect Recovery Ends, but I persevere 01-12-2007 - 08:43 PM
After noticing a possible prolapse and an oddly "thick" feeling to my guts, I made notes and promised myself to mention them to the doc when I saw him in February.

That is, until the "thickness" became pain, and now I cannot breathe deeply on my right side. Yes, I called the doc's office, and I've a brand new appointment this Thursday January 18th.

Now, don't get me wrong. My attitude remains cheerful and despite the pain and difficulty breathing, I am just as energetic as ever. So don't feel the least bit sorry for me!

Heavens, my biggest worry is if the doc thinks he'll have to go back in and operate before I go speak in Houston in late April. Now that would just tick me off, after a year of scheming and work, not to mention I already paid for my plane and registration. Nope, nope, nope! Not unless doc can reassure me I'll be able to go to Houston. He can do anything he likes to me as long as he promises that.

Lena
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Teddy Bears and Happy Hands 01-10-2007 - 12:52 PM
I made a teddy bear last weekend. Just one yard of Valentine's Day fabric and a bit of my time. Voila! I have a cool pink teddy bear to give away.

Only thing is, I didn't know teddy bears were addicting. I've acquired the fabric to make a St. Pat's Day bear, and that was planned. What I didn't plan on was wanting to make a teddy for each of my four grandchildren and my 13-yr-old niece. And a Mardi Gras bear. Maybe an Easter bear.

Waitaminit...this is getting out of hand. I'd never believed it of myself to have this much energy and cheer. I went to the fabric store and marched through the whole store without blood, cramps, or needing to sit down and rest.

I giggled like a kid and called my best friend to arrange for a candle making party for the church on the 21st. I'm already planning next month's speech at my local writer's chapter meeting. My house is clean, and there's one little load of laundry left in the dryer. All but one box of the spring bulbs are planted.

My book is finished, and I'm ready to write the next. My most difficult to please critique partner said the just finished book made her laugh and spew her tea on the monitor with my humor. (Humor? Me? I've never managed that trick before!) She called me "twisted" and that's a compliment.

It's 2 PM. I'm done with all my work. I'm very confused. What is this free time?

Lena
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Feeling Guilty for Feeling Great 01-07-2007 - 09:28 PM
Sometimes I read the pain and suffering my Sisters go through post op, and I feel guilty. I've had much more joy than pain, I'm losing weight at a healthy rate, and my wish to have my life back has been fulfilled.

My husband, while not perfect and an example of a real-life Oscar the Grouch, is also very good about being the pillow police when he sees me turn white-faced and shaky, and I certainly cannot complain about how he shows me he loves me when we do the horizontal tango.

My life is just about as close to perfect as I'd want it to be, though I still occasionally ask <Insert Deity Name here> to allow me to prove that winning the lottery wouldn't change me. (grin) You can never be too rich, IMHO, and I'd love to try the too thin part.

Oh, well. The best I can do is be sympathetic to my less fortunate Sisters, let them know they are loved, and give them what I can in the way of a waterproof shoulder and a warm heart. I'm sort of cushy and meant for hugs. Maybe that's why <Deity> made me fat-- for cuddling.

Laughing and feeling Guilty,
Lena
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More triumphs and a charming Prince 01-05-2007 - 09:42 PM
I finally signed my contract for my biggest triumph to date: a chance to write a sequel to an anthology written by my heroines Angela Knight, Dakota Cassidy, and Ann Jacobs. To even be invited to follow these megastars of my genre is a victory. (Happy sigh)

I also forgot to mention my little Prince. He is a little black shelter kitten found shivering and starved under a warehouse floor. He was brought to me as a gift and has since shared my recovery.

We've had a hard winter, my little Prince and I. He contracted a massive case of fleas and had to be strongly medicated, and I caught a recurrent case of the flu that laid me up hard and ugly for New Year's Weekend. Fortunately, we were not suffering at the same time, so we could comfort one another.

He has claimed my mousepad and my favorite pincushion as his personal items, and I suffer when I want them back. LOL!! I love his little feisty attitude, and he cheers my days. I believe in the medicine of pets.

Lena
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Lena's got her groove back...and more! 12-28-2006 - 09:34 AM
While I awaited surgery and immediately afterwards, I was on some pretty strong narcotics. The kind that make you worried you'll end up selling yourself on the street to pay for your habit. The dreams that went with those $100 a pill (street value) doses were most often not useful, but once in awhile something made a connection with a firing synapse and I'd have a good idea despite the scrambling.

Out of the blue came one that I'd resisted for years, but now out of desperation was forced to attempt: writing two books at once. When the "juice" for one story was gone for the day, the dream suggested picking up with the next story.

I shuddered in distaste. I'm normally a one-track, stay focused sort of writer, and I was afraid I'd blend the two different stories and characters, losing their distinctiveness.

Desperation forced me. Because of my surgery, I am badly behind on my deadlines. My next book is due to be released as an ebook in late February, and I've not yet finished it for editing!! Talk about manic panic. I had to do this. I've waited two years to write the second book, and my window of opportunity is closing quickly before I have other contracted works to complete.

By golly, it worked. Not only will I likely finish my late book in time, but I may just finish the novel before I speak in Houston in April. I must be insane.

Lena
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Better than I was before! 12-23-2006 - 08:02 AM
I'm a CAPA Award nominee! Okay, now that my exuberance has had an outlet, I'll just happily update on my recovery.

This feels almost too good. I can see why Sisters must be warned repeatedly not to over-do. Other than a very well-earned case of sore muscles from walking and dancing more than I have in over a decade, I'm fit as a fiddle.

My husband's best friend is a retired Navy Chief. If you've never met one, there's no describing their attitude. They're used to being blunt and commanding everyone around them. "Wayne" (not his real name) hurt my feelings just before and just after my surgery by bluntly stating how "dangerously obese" I'd become.

Yeah, I know. I shouldn't have been hurt by such an ignorant statement. He had no way of knowing I had edema, several very large fibroids, endometriosis, and adhesions that had made my belly into a solid mass.

Last night, we celebrated Yule at his house. He commented how much better I looked, and how much weight I'd lost. "Sexy" he said. (Bite me bud. Can we say "snowball's chance" of your ever gracing my bed?)

Lena
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Overdid it and paying happily 12-10-2006 - 10:29 PM
I should have expected this. I've been feeling so gosh-darned wonderful, I was cruising for this case of swelly belly. But oh, how I'm loving life. It's so tempting to be naughty and do too much!

Okay, everyone who's been keeping up with this little journal knows I'm a member of FlyLady, right? For those who are also FlyBabies, I hope you've gotten your copy of the Holiday Control Journal. I'm having such a marvelous time being organized about my celebrations.

Yes, the surgery was an interruption, but it's not like I had a good quality of life before when I was in pain and in danger of bleeding to death. Mall visits were out then too. I'll catch up on the gift-buying, thanks to the Internet.

Well, tomorrow is back to work on a novella that's nearly complete. If I'm sharp and diligent, maybe I'll get it done before the holidays really interrupt my work schedule. <Happy Sigh>

I'm back in the saddle again...
Lena
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I'm the Holiday Flasher 12-09-2006 - 10:27 PM
I'll be flashing in and out from now until January 1. Not only is my book taking me on a fast train ride, but my DH and DR (roomie) start their holiday vacations at the end of this week.

So, I'm back at work full steam, preparing for holiday festivities, and holding myself back by a choke chain to keep from over-doing. I see what they mean about this stage.

Ye GODS, I feel so wonderful!! My swelly belly is almost gone, my jeans slide on, and my zest for life is back. Down girl! Down! No dancing in the living room because you'll trip over the cat. LOL!!

Lena
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Energy and the Muse Return! 12-05-2006 - 04:12 PM


Life just keeps getting better and better. I finally sat back down and wrote, finish a scene that had been on hold since August when the pain became so bad they put me on narcotics. I could have shrieked for joy.

You see, for weeks now, I'd been trying to get back in the groove. SILENCE. Nothing would come. The movie in my head wasn't playing. Terror welled up, and as illogical as it may sound, I was afraid my Muse had left with my uterus.

Was my lucrative career over? Were all those ideas stored in a binder never to see daylight? Was that wonderful opportunity in my last blog a pipe dream?

I held on to my faith that perhaps it was just too soon. Maybe I needed to just relax and rest a little while longer.

Yesterday, I sat down and re-read what I'd written before I was struck down. The movie in my head sounded like an old record player starting up, at first unintelligible, sometimes skipping, and then...slowly...the images filled the screen on the back of my brain. Before I knew it, my fingers were flying to finish the scene. I could have written for hours, but 5 PM rolled around and I had to stop to cook dinner.

Today, I bounced out of bed. Yes, I did. I made the bed, showered, put on a beige pair of pants, cleaned up my cookbook shelf, yakked on the phone, and... wrote another 1500 words!!

For the first time since childhood, I feel...normal. Pain free. Unafraid to wear light colors or take a walk. I'm stunned, and very, very grateful I said, "Yes" to a doctor with a bad toupee. (snicker)

Lena
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A Back to Work Triumph 11-30-2006 - 10:29 PM
I'm a lucky gal, working from home. I thank my lucky stars and the Divine for the gift. I went back to work part time (of a sort), and have been slowly building back up to full time again.

Today, I happened to catch an announcement from my favorite publisher. One of the most lucrative series ever published is to have a sequel, and it was an open cattle call to submit a proposal! (Last time was by invitation only.) Darned if I didn't have a little bit waiting in the wings that fit the criteria. I sent off my proposal, sure I'd be turned down in a few weeks when the cattle call closed. You learn to accept twice as much rejection as acceptance in this business, so the odds were not in my favor.

One half hour later, I got a short note: "Love it. Just what I wanted. You're in." <THUD> I darn near fainted. Then I squealed like a orgasming pig. This is big. Really big. The previous series book had (say this name with reverence in the romance business) Angela Knight as one of the authors. <Lena genuflects.> I feel like Cinderella.

Lena
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My first successful outing 11-28-2006 - 11:23 PM
The day finally arrived where I had to go to the grocery store. I couldn't hand DH or Dante a list and say, "fetch!" any longer. Bless their hearts, they tried, but it was finally time for the trip only I could make.

Dante happened to be home, so he was bearer on safari so I wouldn't lift anything to heavy. Good thing he came along. I admit, I pooped out and needed the nifty little electronic cart provided by the store halfway through. Heavens, I was just happy to be out of the house and back to doing something normal!

Biggest find of the day wasn't food! Darned if the store didn't have a kiosk with *bunches* of different gift cards for a variety of stores! I can't wait to go back, since a large portion of my family are in far flung places where a gift card makes a wise choice.

Then, to top off my day of triumphs, I actually worked an author promotion tonight. I'm so proud! This has really inspired me. I think tomorrow I may actually attempt to finish that book I started before the pain got to be too much. It releases in late February, so I'd like to finish it before the Yule holidays. Better get cracking. Only six chapters left. I can do 12,000 words, even if I only write a measly 1000 a day.

Lena
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Adventures of a Supervising Princess 11-27-2006 - 10:33 AM
Our American Thanksgiving is finally over, and that's what I have to be thankful for. This year instead of presiding over the huge feast I normally prepare for anyone who looks hungry, I limited my tablemates to my mother, my roomie, and DH.

Still with Mom coming, I felt I did have to do the holiday justice. Dante, my roomie, is not normally incompetent in the kitchen, but he is inclined to deviate from a recipe to "experiment" or he gets impatient. *sigh* Dante planted me in the dining room, where my view of his efforts was limited. There just wasn't room in my tiny kitchen to park my chair, so that was our best compromise. I often ended up shuffling into the living room to rest in the recliner, once I was assured Dante would not deviate from my treasured holiday recipes.

BIG MISTAKE!! By recipe:

Appetizers
1. Bourbon Dogs -- Why is it men feel they must add too much booze to anything?! The recipe called for a maximum of 1/8 cup of bourbon. A sensible cook measures/pours away from the mix. Dante poured over the mix, and spilled much more into the sauce. Choke! Gag! Too much alcohol for the ladies, but the men ate it up.

2. Crispix Mix- This one I did. There's none left, so I'll assume it passed inspection.

3. Glazed Nuts- After Dante's impatience resulted in his not waiting until the sugar had dissolved into a simple syrup, let's call the results "Crunchy Nut Brittle" instead.

Entree

1. Bacon and Sage Butter Turkey - Credit where credit is due, this was sheer perfection. We do not stuff our turkey with dressings, but we do put in savories like whole onions, celery sticks, and peeled cored apples.

2. Two-Bread Stuffin' Muffins- This new recipe was a qualified success, and no blame here. Next year, we'll add a few eggs as a binding agent before spooning the mix into muffin tins. This way, we have portion control and everyone gets some of the crunchy "edge" they all love. However, I sincerely hope to hide the homemade cornbread a bit better. I lost half the cornbread to thieving masculine hands!

3. LeeAnn's Pan Gravy with Giblet Broth -- Another qualified success. We tried making a roux this year instead of the usual laborous "jar" process to remove lumps, and it worked very well. However, next year we won't cut up and add in the Giblet meats. I'm sure the pets will forgive us if we give them the meat after we've made the broth. It might keep Prince from clawing my ankles to shreds. One can hope.

Sides
1. Cranberry Sauce -- Since I'm the only one who likes whole homemade cranberry sauce, we skipped this recipe and used canned jellied sauce. (Blech. Sigh)

2. Mashed Potatoes -- Dante and I have a war about this every year. He hates to peel potatoes and so makes "Dirty Mashed" by leaving the skins on, producing a slightly lumpy product. Me, I peel and add cream and butter until the potatoes are as smooth and creamy as silk. The sneak waited until I was herded away for a nap. Mom took one look at the potatoes and gave me That Look. "I taught you better than this!" I pointed at Dante. I spent the next half hour smiling while he was lectured on how to make mashed potatoes "properly." Very satisfying.

3. Praline Yams -- This traditonal recipe is so precious to me, I demanded the right to make this. I may have been panting by the time I was done, but it was perfect enough for Mom to want the recipe. (Proud grin)

4. Oven Roasted Asparagus and Leeks -- The hit of the feast, and a brand new recipe for us. Again, I'll give Dante kudos for this one.

5. Puppy Paws -- Don't freak on me. This is just a dinner roll yeast dough rolled into small balls and put three to a muffin tin. Another name for them is "Cloverleaf Rolls" but my children declared they looked like puppy paws, and the name stuck.

Desserts -- Okay, so I go overboard. The mincemeat and pumpkin pies were fine. We'll skip those.

1. Pecan Pie -- Another where my energy ran out and I had to give it to Dante. (wince) He burned it. What is so difficult to understand about "poke a knife in halfway between the edge and center to see if it's done"?

2. Turkey Gobbler Cake -- A simple yellow cake with chocolate frosting, baked as two rounds. One round becomes the display of tail feathers, and the second round is cut to form the head and feet as well as the "body." Dante got impatient and didn't trim the bottom cake to be flat enough to support the weight of the upper layer. It cracked after frosting. I could have cried after all that decorating work.

Still, all in all, the feast was served and eaten. There are few leftovers remaining, and that is the happiest news of all. And now, it's Monday, the day they returned to work. I shall now breathe a sigh of relief and revel in the peace and quiet.

Next week, my grandson will come help me make Snowball Cookies. Anyone got any earplugs?

Oh, and if you want the recipes for some of these, I put most on my Yahoo 360 account blog, using the same nickname as above.
Lena
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Tough Girls Do Cry...but Why? 11-20-2006 - 12:06 PM
I've had the reputation at my publisher for being one of the toughest women working there ever since they found out I worked the entire week's Romantic Times Convention in Daytona while darn near bleeding to death. (HysterSisters can relate to this.) It's a reputation I can be proud of somewhat.

However, today I realized as I mixed up a simple crunchy cereal appetizer to serve my family for Thanksgiving that I was (gasp) whimpering with pain. Well, DUH, I'd been trying to "tough it out" and not take my pain pills so I could get a little work done.

Who was going to see me "being tough"? No one. Who cared if I organized a promotion while whimpering in pain? No one. What was the point of being unnecessarily in pain? None.

I've taken my pain pill, and now I'm going to lay down. If I sleep, great. It's good for me. So what if the laundry doesn't make it from the washer to the dryer until 4 PM? My DH still won't lug it back from the dryer to the bedroom for me to separate and fold until 7 PM tonight.

No one will notice if I don't make the cornbread for the cornbread stuffing until this afternoon, and I'll have the added benefit of making the house smell really great for when DH and Dante get home from work. I may even let them have a little cornbread with their dinner, if there's enough left to do so. (Oh, you know I'll make enough. Doubling a recipe is not that difficult.)

(Yawn!) Nap Attack. Where's that kitten? Prince? Where is your little furry behind?
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Back to Work 11-16-2006 - 11:25 AM
Unlike so many of my luckier sisters, I work at home. Therefore, I decided I could at least return to work part-time, with the understanding my energy flags at the least opportune moments.

Wouldn't you know I'd log on to the staff yahoogroup and into an immediate crisis? I finally crapped out at 2 AM, but my staff didn't. I would hire vampires who stay up all night long. Fortunately, these are all GENIUS vampires, and once they brainstorm the problem will be solved.

By the time I stumbled in dthis morning, slugged down my coffee, and logged on, my boss and my darling geniuses had it all worked out. All I had to do was implement my part of the plan.

This is a bit more difficult than it sounds. I have a new kitten who is determined to perforate my hand every time I use the mouse and has already managed to blow out the bulb in my desk lamp.

If we could only harness the energy of children, kittens, and puppies, there would be no energy crisis. I feel a nap attack coming on just watching him.

Lena
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Post Op Funnies **Tummy Pillow Alert!** 11-15-2006 - 03:54 PM
I'll wait while you go grab your tummy pillows. I'm laughing so hard, I need mine just to type this. Have you ever noticed how funny post-op life is? Thanks to deedledumplin, who pointed this out to me.

We have:

1. Swelly bellies so we waddle like ducks down the halls. Should we quack and form lines?

2. We have Nap Attacks so strong we will fall asleep almost anywhere. Don't you have visions of Garfield hitting the carpet face first,<THUD> snoring as the dust settles around him?

3. Metal Mouth- Does this conjure up images of a woman with a mouth full of lead shot or braces? Not funny when it happens, but the visions the term conjures do give me a chuckle.

4. Brain Fog- Oh, now here's a thousand laughs in one term. Standing lost in a parking lot, hitting the key fob hoping to hear the car beep, and jumping out of your skin when you're standing next to it. Attempting to boil eggs, wandering off, smelling something burning, and coming back to remember it helps to add water. Your teen reprimanding you for never finishing a sentence.

5. The Not-So-Helpful-Helpers who visit, spreading germs and making a mess. These are worse that the clueless husband who tries to clean the counter with a dry paper towel and only notices the floor needs mopping when it's so adhesive his shoe gets left behind. This does not include clueless children and frisky pets.

6. Speaking of frisky, let's talk about The Big O. Or not. Being too scared to try, then wondering what the heck they mean by "outercourse" and then...one day, you finally lose your mind enough to try anyway. Oh, wow, it still works. Pass the flavored lube, honey. I'm sure there are more stories to come on that one.

7. Zits? At my age? Need I say more? Borrowing your teen's Clearasil must be hilarious. "Mom!! You look stupid!" (says the Goth Girl teen.) Huh? Run that one by me again, slowly...

8. The Weaker Sex, aka the Fainting DH when he sees the scar, has to help clean the bandages, or other nursing chores. Who deserves the title, The Weaker Sex? Run that one by me again, too. Brain fog is setting in here, I suppose.

Hope you're laughing. I am.
Lena
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The Results of a Post-op Visit with Doc 11-15-2006 - 12:05 AM
Whoop-dee-doo!! Doc agrees I'm doing marvelously well, and I've been a good girl. I'm now allowed "light" exercise and "slowly assuming a normal life." (No, I still don't get THAT. Darn it.) He smilingly reminds me my body is a harsher taskmaster than he is.

How right he is!! That short little 3 mile drive to his office and back wore me out so much I came home and took a three hour nap! How ridiculous is that? LOL!

I'm looking longingly at the beginner belly dance DVD and thinking, "Tomorrow, I'll have a good laugh at myself." I know I won't be able to do some of those moves, elementary though they may be, but I'll give what I can do my best shot. If I move very slowly and only do what my body allows, I'll have done something at least. Nothing fancy!! It took me years to get this fat, and it'll take me many months to get some tone back. I can afford to be patient.

As an odd side note, my tastes in food appear to have permanently changed for the better. One cup of coffee in the morning, and I'm done. I switch to juice, water, and hot tea. (Have you tried that new Nutcracker Sweet from Celestial Seasonings? YUM! I'm so hooked.) Sweets have been replaced with applesauce or yogurt, and I'll ravenously attack a salad and ignore meat. I'm not all virtuous, though. I still love tapioca. Oh, well, a girl just has to have a few vices.

I can't wait to return to my blogs and my writing. I've so much to share! I've one for housewifery, one for writing, one for promoting my books, and a secret one just for those unprofessional acerbic rants I won't admit are mine! LOL!!

Lena
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My Pre0op Questions 11-11-2006 - 11:56 PM
Questions for your pre-op appointment


PRE OP

1. Right now, I am taking (LIPITOR, LORTAB 5/500, ONE A DAY WEIGHT SMART VITAMINS, WELLBUTRIN, AND FISH OIL CONCENTRATE CAPSULES). Should I stop them before surgery? If so, when?

2. If not, should I take them to the hospital with me? Should I take the Valium before I arrive that morning? (Please say yes.)

3. And when can I go back to taking them after my surgery?

4. I have experienced a loss of appetite. Is this a common result of my pain, or my illness?

5. I'm having trouble urinating, even though my body signals the bladder is full.

6. Will I have any special surgical preparation: enema? laxative? Would you like me to begin a low residue diet?

7. Douche?

8. Will I be shaved? If so, where and by whom? May I do it myself instead?

9. What if I have my period when I’m supposed to have my surgery?

10. May I leave my finger- or toenail-polish and/or artificial nails on when I go to the OR? May I leave my wedding ring on?

11. <Personal question removed>

12. <Personal question removed>

SURGERY

1. What is the full name of my surgery? (Write this down!) What exactly will you remove: uterus? ovary/ies? cervix? and WHY?

2. Will you be combining this with any other procedures? Appendix removal? Bladder repair/tack? Rectocele? Tummy tuck?

3. How will you remove the organs and where will the incision be? Abdominal (horizontal "bikini"? vertical?)? vaginal? using a laparoscope?

4. Which things you remove will be going to the lab for pathology tests and when will I get the results? How will I get the results?

5. If my surgery is for suspected cancer, how soon will I begin treatments and what will they be?

6. What kind of anesthesia will I have? What if I prefer a different kind? Will you use Torodol or a similar product? Will I meet with my anesthetist before surgery? Do I tell him/her that I have a tendency to come out unexpectedly or will you do that?

7. How long will my surgery take? Will you report to my family afterwards, while I am still in the Recovery Room?
8. Will I have a catheter?



POST OP
1. If I don’t need a transfusion, is there something else I should do afterwards to build my blood back up?


2. How will my pain be managed and what will you be giving me? (Please, no shots!!!) IV, oral is fine. Epidural shot or morphine drip?

3. Will I receive it in the Recovery Room?
4. Do I have to ask before I can have it, or will it be given to me?
5. How often may I repeat it?
6. What if that doesn’t work—will I have another option? How will I get that second option?
7. What if I become nauseated after surgery? May I have something for this? May I have it before I vomit? In the Recovery Room?

8. How long will I be on bed rest? When will I get up? How often should I get up?

9. Will I have a catheter into my bladder? Will I be awake when it is put in? When will it be taken out?

10. When can I take a shower?

11. Will I have vaginal bleeding after my surgery? How much and how long? Will you use vaginal packing?

12. Will I have on special stockings or pneumatic leggings to prevent clots in my legs after surgery? How long will I have to wear them? Will I be receiving any medication for this purpose? Which one, and how long?

13. Will I be hooked up with/using any other equipment or special things after surgery? Tummy binder? Breathing exercise devices?

14. What will I be taking for post-op gas and constipation? How long will I need this?

15. What things have to happen before I will be discharged from the hospital? How long should I expect to be in for?

16. When will I see you after I leave the hospital? What if something happens or I have questions about how I'm doing before then?

17. What pain medication and other medications will I go home with? If I run out of pain medication, how do I get more?


HRT?

1. If I am having my ovaries removed, when will I start taking hormones and which ones will I take?
2. What is this choice based on?
3. How can I expect them to make me feel?
4. What if I don’t like the way I feel on the first prescription or think I am having a bad reaction?
5. Will you help me adjust them if needed, or should I see my PCP for this?
6. What is your opinion of bio-identical hormones?
***
7. If I am not having my ovaries removed, how can I tell if they are or are not working post-op?
8. Will I have hot flashes anyway?
9. If my ovaries don’t work right away, what will I experience?
10. How long will I have to experience menopausal symptoms before I can take something to relieve them?


AT HOME RECOVERY

1. What kind of problems should I be watching for at home?

2. What activity restrictions will I have at home? Driving?
3. Housework including laundry and vacuuming?
4. Lifting how much when? What about my grandchildren or pets—when can I pick them up? (The cats weigh more than the grandchildren.)

5. What if I do something and it makes my incision/belly really hurt? How will I know?

6. Will I need to wear a tummy binder or light girdle at home for belly support? If so, for how long?

7. I am planning <personal special event less than six months away.> Is this going to be okay? Are there any restrictions you'll want to impose?

8. When can I return to my work, since it involves sitting up and typing?

9. When may I have sexual penetration?

10. May I engage in other forms of sexual activity (including orgasm) before that time? If so, when?
11. When may I resume exercising? I normally do walking, and I just started to learn belly dancing—is there any part of those activities I should avoid at first? When and how can I work on regaining tone in my belly?

12. Will you refer me to physical therapy after surgery so that I can work with them on preventing internal scarring and regaining physical conditioning safely (check to be sure your insurance will cover this, but many will if your doctor orders it)?

13. When can I do Kegels again, and should I? I have a set of ben-wa balls for the same purpose as Kegels. When or if should I use them?

14. I am thinking about having my navel pierced at a later date. How soon may I have it done afterwards? Do you have any special precautions you recommend?

15. If I have more questions after this appointment, how can I get them answered: email? Phone only?
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My Humorous Hospital Hystory 11-07-2006 - 01:39 PM
Hystory of Humor Part 2

My surgery was scheduled for a Monday morning, confirming the widely held belief that Mondays are no way to start the week. LOL! We arrived at the wrong admitting and had to make a mad dash through the hospital to find "Day Surgery Admitting." Hubby had clammed up like Lurch, so I had to look for humor wherever I could find it.

It's a good thing I'm a punctual sort, because as soon as they realized I was there I was hustled back to the prep area. The surgery before me had been cancelled so I was "on deck" right now! No time to be nervous! Get into the lovely designer gown, put on the crazy socks, lay back, here's your anesthetist and nurse to establish the IV, "Yes, yes, we'll establish your PIC line after you're asleep"...Sleep well! Zoom! Mr. Sulu, Warp Nine and don't listen to Scottie's wails from the engine room.

Woke up several times that afternoon. First time to see DH's smiling face. Lurch was gone. Good, I couldn't have taken much more of his attitude. Against all requests, my Dad stopped by too. I didn't recognize him and fell asleep saying hello. Sometime in the evening, they brought me my "clear liquid diet" dinner. I drank the broth (was that the most anorexic chicken on the planet or what?) and managed a few spoonfuls of the delicious cherry Jell-o. By then, I'd found the pain control button and didn't make the connection that pressing the button meant another nap was in the offing. LOL! DH and Dante are there, but finally they must return home and to work. I'll see them every evening until my release, but the days will grow long and boring.

Tuesday they removed my catheter but that was short-lived. I couldn't pee on my own and was full to bursting. Back in it went, and it didn't hurt at all. I also discover I don't have the promised PIC line so I don't have pathologists from the labs (lab rats) wanting blood. Am I livid? You betcha. A full throttle needle phobic with a violent bent is not a pretty sight. Not a good thing to discover when I toss the lab rat out the door, figuratively on her ear. (I was nicer than that, but not by much.) My nurse returns with the story I did not want to hear. The anesthetist who refused "because of the risk of infection and besides, it's only one little blood draw" did not establish the PIC line. In my nurse's hands are enough tranquilizers to put me flat on my back and make me not care if they used railroad spikes to get the blood. Judging by the 3" dark bruise that developed on my arm, the lab rats did use a railroad spike. I walked all Tuesday night, partially because I knew I should, and partially because I was still livid with the doc.

I also acquired a roommate named Delores Garcia. Poor dear barely speaks English, but she's had a hysterectomy too. At 70-something, she's recovering nicely.

I also meet a HysterSister named One Venus! Hooray! We laugh and hug each other very gently. She has the most beautiful long dark hair! Walking becomes a lot more fun from there on.

Wednesday morning, bright and early, Doc appears and reassures me. He's furious too. When he found the extent of my internal problems with the laparoscope, he was a little busy switching my surgery to abdominal bikini cut, and didn't have time or attention to waste when the nurse-anesthetist refused to establish my PIC line, as per written instructions. Since I did develop complications and couldn't restart my digestive eliminations despite walking and my best efforts, this was doubly criminal in doc's book. If Doc had to go back in, the PIC line would have saved me a reestablishment of the IV as well as the now-spreading black bruise from the blood work.

I have one chance to avoid another surgery. They will take my catheter out again and give me twelve hours to prove I can do something. Happily, I manage by that evening to piddle on my own (with a great deal of patience) and I fired the Royal Gatling Gun in the shower that night. A happy phone call from a co-worker with good news makes my night, and I go to sleep celebrating.

Thursday in the wee hours of the morning, my butt turns into a tiny Mt. Vesuvius and finally blows. I start humming, "We Shall Be Free," knowing I've now overcome the final obstacle to going home. I'm sure Delores and I are beginning to get on each others' nerves, but we're trying to be good roomies. When Doc finally gives me the release, I am ecstatic. It will be another 4-5 hours before I actually leave, but I happily call DH from work to come get me.

Best hints I got from HysterSisters:
1. The backscratcher- I developed pimples from the horrid hospital pillows and they ITCHED. Also makes a handy sock hook when your socks start to fall off.

2. Take your own little tummy pillow for coughs, laughter, and the ride home. My bright red silk pillow not only cheered me, it saved me a great deal of pain.

3. Walk, walk, walk! Make a game out of it. I'd shuffle around the corner at 2 AM, pretending to be an announcer for the Kentucky Derby just to make the nurses laugh. "And it's Voice of the Mountains out in front, but here comes One Venus on the outside, and it's Voice by a catheter line..." Making the nurses laugh really improved everything.
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A Hormonal Moment 10-28-2006 - 11:36 PM
<Head on Desk> Oh, god, I'm terrified of tomorrow.
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Pre-op Appt Horror Story 10-27-2006 - 08:48 PM
-----Original Message-----
Hi there. How did pre-op go today?
(A concerned friend)

Thursday October 26, 2006

Just the sort of hell I expected. Doc was a sweetie, confirming I will have a full LAVH-BSO (laparoscopic aided vaginal hysterectomy, and BSO means he'll remove cervix and ovaries too.) He answered all my questions, so I thought I was clear on what would happen when. I even agreed to an extra bladder test tomorrow in his office. When will I learn not to trust people who wear scrubs for a living?

THEN I went to the PAT (pre-admissions testing) at the hospital, and got the shock of my life. Doc had provided me with 5 mg of Valium to keep me calm. (Apparently, not even close to enough.) I am an extreme needle phobic. How many times do I have to repeat it for these medicos? Apparently one more time than I do. As I warned them, as soon as I'd been stuck for the blood work, I went into shock. Skin clammy, white faced, sweat pouring, and my ability to respond to them was gone. I was sort of conscious, but not all there. It took them three doses of smelling salts to get me responsive, and they had the nerve to be surprised!

So is this the end of it? NO! Surprise! This blood draw today is more than 72 hours out from my surgery. I have to go back Sunday for ANOTHER blood draw! This is the day before I am poked for an IV establishment. I asked, "Is this torture the needle phobic week?" I don't think the doc gave me enough Valium for this, even if I double dose myself.

So, here's the new schedule:

Friday- Back to doc's office for the bladder test
Saturday- Nothing (so far) but final preparations to the house
Sunday- Back to the hospital labs for another blood draw, another case of shock, etc. (This ought to be fun. NOT)
Monday- Appear at 8:15 AM thirsty and hungry from 12 hours of no oral ingestion. Put on the lovely air-conditioned gown and freeze until they figure I'm a Popsicle. Get IV (with deep shunt) established. (Probably another shock here.) Talk to anesthetist, who supposedly will shortly thereafter see to it I am shot full of Torodol and completely stoned off my gourd before being wheeled into the OR at 10:15 AM.
*******
Friday October 27, 2006

I can now happily report to my HysterSisters that having a catheter put in while you are conscious is not all that bad indeed. The bladder test involved filling my bladder with a solution twice, looking for different results. Final analysis: I have two bladder muscles that need repair and these will be attended to while I'm under anesthesia for the hysterectomy. I may have to go on a medication for a spasming bladder later, but that's cake or calamity for another day.

All in all, not a bad day, even if I did walk out of there feeling somewhat violated and wondering if I'd ever regain my dignity. I don't know why I'm even concerned with dignity. Like going into shock while getting a blood draw, or the fact that about ten people will have the "pleasure" of looking at my **** in OR doesn't destroy dignity enough. (sigh) I keep telling myself it's all for a good cause in the end.

Bottom Line: It's all worth it. In less than three days, my new life begins. I will be patient, I will be cooperative to the limits of my abilities.

************
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Nervous Cleaning Spree 10-24-2006 - 11:21 AM
Oh, do I hurt now! LOL! I wondered when my nerves would get to me and I'd rip through this house like the proverbial white tornado.

I've already cleaned the front porch and the living room, and I vacuumed the dining room carpet. I'm not even attempting anything more in the dining room, since that's my roomie's sewing workshop. He can clean that mess this Friday on his day off. That's my Zone 1, and I can call it done.

I'll tackle Zone 2 tomorrow. That's the kitchen, back patio, and laundry room. The kitchen is, of course, the worst of it. I've decluttered as much as I can, but there's just only so much room on those itty bitty counters until we finish the kitchen renovation halted by my illness. Patio and laundry room might take me fifteen minutes each. Big deal.

(Deep Breath) Thursday is, as I've mentioned, my Pre-op appointment. I'll have plenty of time before that to tackle Zone 3, the main bathroom and the home office. That ought to work off some nervous energy.

Finally, on Friday I'll do Zone 4, the master bedroom and bath. I keep those up fairly well, but I'll want to be very thorough. The Sisters have warned me how even the smallest details like a smudge on the window will drive you bats, and I'm halfway there as it is.

My, I must admit, the house certainly smells lovely. We've hardwood floors with oriental style carpets in some of the rooms. I sprinkled some of that carpet powder on them, and the scent has perfumed the air.

My cats aren't happy with me, of course. They consider the vacuum to be an instrument of the apocalypse or something. Snowball just came out from under the bed, and he's now trying to convince me I must placate him and Scooter with kitty treats.

Well, I think I'll take a well-earned break in the recliner and let my aching tummy remind me why I'm having surgery. LOL! Hmm...National Treasure is in the DVD player. Perfect. Maybe I'll do my nails while I'm at it. Some obnoxious color like teal green, perhaps.

Lena
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Waiting Gives Me Too Much Time to Think 10-23-2006 - 10:31 PM
[font=Comic Sans MS] They say waiting is the hardest part. I have no doubt that's true. Waiting gives me too much time to think. Worry creeps in, and my nerves make me vibrate like a harpstring.

Funny thing is, I have no doubts about the actual surgery and post-op. None. Zip. Zilch. I'm confident in the doc, the hospital, the staff, and myself.

My long list of questions for the doc are ready for printout on Wednesday night. I'm leaving them in digital state because I might think of another before then. Most of them are just verifying details of what's to be done and when, like will I have the TEDS stockings or a catheter? I've done the breathing machine before. It's difficult for a smoker to meet their exacting standards, but I usually manage.

My fear begins at 11:30 AM on Thursday and will end when they wheel me into OR. It's those **** needles. They haunt my nightmares.

I've been jerking awake every few hours with my heart racing, and an undignified screech in my throat that has to be swallowed before I awaken my poor long suffering DH. It's sad to think I look forward to anesthesia as possibly the best sleep I've had in two years, but it's the truth.

Worst of all, I'm worried. Despite what my wonderful publisher says, I know I'm losing money since I'm not there to promote my book. "Dragon's Stone" released just last Thursday, and I can't sit at the computer long enough to even do an author chat in a yahoo group. Margaret, the owner of Changeling Press, tells me to hush and go back to bed. After all, my promo team are some of the best in the business. She tells me to quit being a Type-A control freak and let my assistants handle the marketing work. Boy, it's hard to let go.

Type-A control freaks should never get ill. The stress of NOT working is worse than the everyday stress we cause ourselves. LOL! (Scribbles a note to ask Renee to update my website.) See? I can't let go.

Darn it, I need to have this surgery so I stop living my life in pain. I can't write with an aching gut. "Dragon's Quest" is haf-written. "Blue Rose" hounds my brain, waiting for me to finish Quest. And then, maybe back to Egypt...Oh, dear, there I go again.

Go to bed, Lena. Dream of your telepathic dragons, shapeshifting mages, secretive elves, and saucy heroines. Make notes now. Prepare to type your fingers to the bone. You have a month and a half of non-productivity to make up. You don't type, you don't get paid. Worry, worry, worry...

Why can't I worry about NORMAL things?
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Low Residue Diet and Hydrate 10-22-2006 - 05:40 AM
I'm over this low residue diet recommended by a few sisters. Most diets want us to eat healthy, fibrous products, raw veggies, whole grains, etc. This diet is virtually the opposite. A strong limitation on vegetables and very few grains, seeds, and nuts --not even crunchy peanut butter. My kids would freak if they saw me eating white bread and smooth peanut butter. "Who are you, and what have you done with Mom?" would be the first words out of their mouth.

I found this one by Googling "low residue diet" and this one is from Southern New Hampshire Medical Center. Overall, it's easy to follow, if a bit weird.

I'm doing this voluntarily, because I won't see the surgeon until this Thursday, and my surgery is this Monday. That would not be time enough to clean out my digestive tract unless I used the harshest of methods. No thanks. If I have to do a bowel prep, I intend to make this easy on myself. I figure cleaning out my digestive tract, then sticking to the diet for a few days after surgery will make that first poop a little easier if it's small.

I'm also going to hydrate myself until I slosh when I walk. Not only is this good for the digestion, it gives the lab rats a plumper vein as a target. I'm not afraid to admit I'm a violent needle phobic, and I've asked the doc to tranquilize me to the eyebrows for the safety of the lab rats. I'm not kidding.

Being that I'm not fond of water, I long ago hit on a system that works for me to get the stuff down my protesting throat. I have a programmable timer from FlyLady.net that resets itself. I'll program it to go off every hour, and at that point I'll slug down one 8 oz glass of water like medicine. I can drink one cup at a time if I slug it. I can get down 64 oz in eight hours using this method, and anything after that is bonus. This still means I can enjoy most other beverages allowed on the diet the rest of the time. Not a bad system.

All this wouldn't be possible without FlyLady.net. Great for organizing, and made for those who were not born organized. I joined last spring and got my life together in less than a month. Now I've joined the sister site, SavingDinner.com. What a convenience to never meal plan again! I'm ready to get my life back!
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Lena's List of Things to Do before Coronation 10-19-2006 - 02:43 PM
Type A (the A stands for anal-retentive, dontcha know) control freaks need lots of lists. Here's mine.

1. Plan meals so DH doesn't starve. He can read a recipe and throw things in a crock pot. I'll supervise, so Poison Control isn't on Speed Dial. Two weeks worth will do for a start. After that, I should be well enough to make a list and threaten him with bodily harm if he buys anything else but what's on the list. **Note to self: New batteries in cattle prod to get him out the door to buy groceries.**

2. Set up my Netflix Queue with a wide variety of DVD's to arrive in a steady stream. They aren't for me, they're for my mother, who insists she must come nurse me back to health. Playing a movie is better than listening to her talk non-stop.

3. Get a haircut and haircolor. I may feel like a hag, but I'll do my best not to look like one!

4. Start caffeine withdrawal and low residue diet one week from Coronation date. Hydrate, hydrate, hydrate. If one must suffer the attentions of the lab rats, prepare as best you can. It's sort of like rape --what can't be cured must be endured.

5. Dig out every craft project I've neglected for the past few years. Stack them in a corner of the bedroom for easy access in those stacking storage drawers. Moving boxes is a no-no, so use the drawers.

6. Set up autopay on the bills so I can avoid the stress of teaching DH to pay the bills online. If he messed up my system, I'd have to kill him. **Note to self** Password the computer so he can't access the internet and download viruses and spyware.

7. Order extra bags of pet food and cat litter. Set up as many perpetual feeders/water as possible. Use this as an excuse to purchase the automated kitty pan that cleans the litter for you.

8. Make lists of daily tasks, like letting the dog outside and mopping the kitchen floor after dishes. **Note** Put "Get tomorrow's meat out of freezer" in bright red so DH can't ignore it as usual. Decorate the house in "early memo" so DH can't forget. Example in bathroom: Towels are supposed to be WHITE. If they are any other color, put them in the laundry hamper. Replace with clean towels immediately.

9. Set up the phone tree and designate eldest daughter to make the phone calls and emails, reassuring friends I lived through the surgery. Make sure she sends condolence cards to enemies that I didn't die like they hoped.

10. Load PDA with all the naughty romance ebooks so nosy persons can't see what I'm reading. What Mrs. Grundy doesn't know can't hurt her.

11. Clean the house thoroughly, especially the bedroom. There are only seven rooms, so start doing one per day, eight days before Coronation. Leave day before Coronation free for expected nervous meltdown.

12. Order flowers for self from florist, to be delivered one day after Coronation. Thank DH for flowers when they arrive. He paid for them, after all.

Now go relax. The world will still revolve without you.
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11 days from surgery- The first meltdown 10-18-2006 - 02:27 PM
Well, it had to happen eventually. I finally had my first nervous meltdown about my surgery. I think I had a good reason, if one could have a good excuse for an overdose of emotion. "Emotions are always valid, because in that moment they are operating under the information the person has at that moment, true or false."

I am an extreme needle phobic. All of my adult life, my veins have been so difficult to get blood from or establish an IV that I've perplexed medical persons across the US. They all arrogantly approach me, so very confident that I am exaggerating and all that is needed is a firm, knowledgeable person to stick me. They soon find out differently and I wasn't lying a bit. For example, last time I spent time in the hospital, it took seventeen (17) sticks to get an adult IV established. I almost took the head off a non-English speaking lab rat that came to get blood from me that evening. Even experienced anesthesiologists have failed to access my veins. At least I can say my veins have humbled some of the very best in the business.

I mean no insult to medical persons, especially nurses, when I accuse them of lying. I know why they lied to me. Bless their caring hearts. They were trying to keep the patient (me) calm and failed miserably. I suppose I'd attempt to lie too, if I thought I could ease the mind of the white-faced tearful patient, trembling in sheer terror. I've begged, trying to get them to understand that they must send their most experienced phlebotomist if they have any hope of getting blood. I've cried and pleaded for the most experienced anesthesiologist available to establish my IV. Mostly, I begged and pleaded in vain. I'd be assured they'd send the very best only to find out they sent the next available lab rat.

All twenty-six years of my adult life, the effects of the bumbling and lies have been cumulative. As hard as I try to remain logical, the moment I see scrubs my heart beats a little faster with fear. I nearly screech and leap for the nearest escape route when I see the ubiquitous lab tray, even if it means going through the person holding the tray. Is it any wonder my "fight or flight" reflexes shut down most of my blood vessels to keep my heart and brain alive and flood my system with enough adrenaline to save a thousand heart patients?

Today, those fears leapt out like the childhood monster in the closet, terrifying me out of my sick bed where I needed rest. No one can ease my fears, so I had a meltdown. Not surprisingly, the adrenaline rush wiped out my pain pill. The next three hours until my regularly scheduled dose will be agonizing.

How can one month seem to pass so very slowly? Ever since the day the doc told me I'd have an LAVH, I'd swear time slowed to a crawl. I've taken to marking my calendar with a big black X every day, just so I can reassure myself that time is passing. I can hear every tick of the clock, though the seconds seem to have a long stretch of silence between them. Am I in a time warp or a nightmare? Wake up, Lena! Wake up!

I listen in despair as another tick sounds on the clock. I have never known such torture.
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