Tuesday, December 18, 2012

Feeling good!

I'm almost three weeks post-op and I feel great, other than being a little tired.

I worked out for the first time in about a year over the weekend and spent about 25 minutes on the treadmill. I know my cardio can't do much yet, so I'm truly taking baby steps to get to where I need to be.

I'm still pretty amazed at the difference in how I feel after this surgery compared to the last two. Even for as tired as I feel most days, it doesn't come close to matching the exhaustion I felt during those recovery periods.

I'll eventually start increasing my workouts, but until then, I'm content with walking and making changes here and there in my diet.

Tuesday, December 11, 2012

Goodbye, Planet Fatass

Joined the gym today. I'm buying new cross trainers this week.

Baby steps, but I *will* get there.

Tuesday, December 4, 2012

Day of Reckoning

I knew today would come eventually.

 I've been overweight most of my life and spent most of my life eating poorly. 

 While I haven't been diagnosed with diabetes, I have no doubts that I'm three months away from it. That's when my doctor wants to see me again. She noticed my fasting blood sugar on last Friday's labs was really high. She said it's a possibility that because of everything else going on with my health that it's a fluke and, though she didn't say it out loud, she's giving me three months to get my shit together. 

 I need to lose weight. Eat better. Exercise more. 

I know what I'm capable of doing and testing my own blood sugars, not to mention inject myself with insulin doesn't fall into that category. I. Can't. Do. It. That means I've got one option here and that's to stop doing what I'm doing and get my head out of my ass. 

 I refuse to spend the rest of my life on medication for something I know I can do. I've done it before. I dropped 40lbs in 2009 by exercising and eating better. Time for me to get back in gear and do what I need to do. 

Hubby isn't far off from a similar diagnosis himself, so the changes will be family-wide. Since the weather has been nicer than normal (and hopefully will stay that way), I plan on borrowing a bicycle and making use of the great trails we have around here. I will also be joining the gym this month. It also means cutting back on soda and continuing with not drinking sweet tea (it's been a week now since I last had sweet tea). 

Nothing profound has been discovered and I don't expect this post to surprise anyone, but I wanted to keep you in the loop. 

In surgical news, I'm doing fantastic. I've got very little pain, vaginal bleeding has almost stopped entirely and other than being tired a lot, I feel really good. This surgery has been so much different than the last two. I'm hoping that this has fixed the problem and I can finally move forward from here. Thanks again for your prayers, thoughts and encouragement. I appreciate it.

Friday, November 30, 2012

Third time's a Charm?

Cripes, I hope so!

Thanks to some lingering pain that couldn't be explained, despite eight months of doctor's office visits, I had my third surgery of the year today. It was "exploratory" and I was nervous about doing it, hoping that perhaps my kinesiologist could treat the symptoms. I debated on canceling it altogether, but decided on Thanksgiving that I would go ahead and have it done.

I met my insurance deductible after my first surgery in February, so really, it was kinda like a BOGO. (Okay, not really, but it was a considering factor.) My gynecologist did the surgery laparoscopically, so it was an outpatient procedure - also a considering factor. And, as pain came back at different times closer to the surgery date, I decided I needed to go through with it.

I'm glad I did.

The surgeon first did a vaginal cuff repair when he found excess scar tissue that was also causing problems. Then, with the laparoscope, he went inside and discovered that the exterior wall of my vagina had fused to my bowels in several spots during the healing process. He said that's not totally uncommon, as the body adapts to whatever it's nearest to, but it was uncommon for it to cause so much ongoing pain. He clipped them apart and cauterized both sets of tissue, so hopefully this has fixed the problem. He said my left ovary looks good (though to me, it looks cystic. I guess time will tell).

This surgery was much quicker than the other two and, so far, I'm recovering much better than I did before. It took six weeks to recover from my oophorectomy in February and while I pushed myself harder with my hysterectomy in May, I have had continual problems from reproductive, sexual and hormonal issues all the way to indirect issues like high blood pressure (most likely from being in constant pain), SI joint pain and intense depression from the constant state of feeling "broken." To say it's been one hell of a year is an understatement.

Already, though, I'm able to stand for short periods of time to go to the bathroom, make myself a sandwich and refill my water glass. With the first two surgeries, it was almost a week before I could get up from a laying position, but I've been getting myself up since the first hour I was home. I'm crampy, of course and it will take at least a month for the vaginal cuff repairs to fully heal, but I feel better today than I've felt in the last eight months.

Thank you to those who have been praying and sending me kind words. Your support, wishes and encouragement are very much appreciated.

Monday, October 8, 2012

This Woman's Worth

I was ten years old, I think when I experience my first serious bout of depression. I missed forty-five days of school that year.


In 1984, they didn't diagnose children with mental health issues. If you were hyperactive, you were just in need of discipline. If you were a nail-biter, you were just high-strung and nervous. If you threw a tantrum out of anger, you were a spoiled brat. If you were sad, you just needed fresh air. If your attention span was short, you were just considered flighty.

My childhood tantrums were blamed on my parents' unwillingness to tell me no. My nail-biting was because my mother bit her nails, too and I didn't know better. In my teen years, grief was to blame for my sadness. That is what we did back then. Kids didn't take medication for issues like that. We certainly didn't go to counseling - that was for problem children.

Twenty-eight years is a long time to live with anxiety and depression. I thought I'd overcome it, actually. I gave up my Lexapro over six years ago, as a matter of fact. Turned to chiropractic care and herbal supplements as a path to better health - both physical and mental. Up until this last year, it was working wonderfully.

I'd love to be able to say it was this moment that led to this rocky slope. It was that moment. But the truth of the matter is, I can't pinpoint any specific thing. My sister was murdered. I had a falling out with my nephew and his wife. I lost a close friend without an explanation as to why. Doctors found a tumor the size of an orange on my ovary. I had a second surgery three months later to remove my uterus altogether. I've pushed people away. I've started fights. I've ended them. I've cried. I've ranted. I've thrown things. I've screamed. I've been silent.

The fact is this is the ugliest, meanest, most hideous battle I've ever fought and it's not over yet.
The fact is I don't sleep at night. And when I do, my slumber is riddled with nightmares.
The fact is I have every reason to be happy and, on the outside-looking-in, I am. 

But it's all bullshit.

I'm sad.
I'm angry.
I'm anxious.
I'm worried.
I'm nauseous.
I'm tense.

If you've ever dealt with anxiety or depression, you know how this feels. You know the weight I carry right now, but there are many of you who don't.

This is for you - and I hope you're listening - don't judge me. Don't tell me I need to cheer up. Or that I need to exercise. Or eat better. Or sleep more. Or pray. Or take medication. Or get out more. Or stay home more. Or surround myself with family. Or be grateful that I don't have something terminal. Or read self-help books. Or...or...or...

This is not a pretty disease, but just as you wouldn't tell someone with cancer to shake it off, please don't dismiss me so easily either. It hurts. More than you know.

Tuesday, October 2, 2012


Okay, so really, it's not so funny, but if I don't laugh, I'll just end up crying.

Overshare is imminent, so consider yourself warned.

I'm almost five months post-op from my partial hysterectomy. I'm still in some pain and sex is out of the question entirely.

(On a separate note, THAT may be more to blame for these homicidal mood swings than anything else.)

Went to the gyno today. He said sometimes after a hysterectomy there is some granular tissue that doesn't heal like it should. Sometimes polyps develop as a result. He put me up in the saddle (Yee-haw! Not.) and checked me out. Sure enough. Granular tissue and a big ol' fat polyp.


He burned me alive (with silver nitrate) and sent me on my way. Told me to come back in two weeks. He may have to treat me again, but this should help alleviate the problem.

No sex til then. Yeah. Not a friggin' problem, doc.

I'm waving the white flag today, popping a tram and going to bed.

Keep you updated as time goes on.

Saturday, June 23, 2012

Flickers of hope

I'm so over talking about my health issues right now, but I know many are wondering what's going on and instead of taking up Twitter space, I figured I'd just get you up to speed here. Easiest route for all of us, really.

Physically, I seem to be on the mend. I'm able to eat more of what I want without repercussions, so I'm keeping my fingers crossed that the natural means I've been using are doing their job and my body will finally get back to normal again. I'm going to attempt dance class this Sunday. We'll see what I can do. If I get tired, I'll stop. If not, then I'll dance my ass off (and promptly drop from exhaustion when I get home Sunday night). My goals are to get back in the gym by the end of the month, which gives me another week. It's been too long and I have a 5k to train for, dammit!!

Emotionally, quiet nod ...I have hope. We'll just leave it at that.

Thank you all for your thoughts, prayers, texts, emails, phone calls and messages. You have helped me so much with your concern and presence. I love you.

Thursday, June 21, 2012

Update - Lab results back

I went to the Dr. on Monday. She ran some lab work and everything came back normal. I don't have C-Diff. Which is good...but it also means that this is all just a side effect of the Clindamycin, which means no quick fix.

It's not as bad as it was last week, but I still can't eat anything but the most mild of foods. I'm bored to death of bananas and yogurt, though. Rice and applesauce aren't much better. And even these things don't work, for the most part. I'm learning, by trial and error mostly, what I can eat and what I can't. I've spent the better part of a week eating BRAT and I'm so over it. I'm still taking my pro-biotic and sticking to milder foods, but at the same time, I'm eating other things too so I can figure out what I can have and what I can't. I'm also drinking a TON of fluids and taking in quite a bit of sodium to keep my electrolytes up.

The doctor said to just keep doing what I'm doing and eventually I'll get back on track.


I hate that word.

I finally found the paperwork that goes with the Clindamycin and if I'd read it more carefully, I would see that this is a very well-explained side effect of that medication. Of course, the words "severe" and "fatal" are also included, so maybe it's best that I didn't find it until now. I don't feel like I'm gonna die, but some days I wish I would.

This shit is miserable. No pun intended.

In other news, I'm still dealing with the emotional side of everything. Frustration, depression, anxiety and anger are all quite prevalent right now. I think a lot of it stems from having spent over the half the year in bed, in the hospital or on the couch, especially since it came on the tail end of all the chaos from last fall. The cruise last week was a short reprieve and I enjoyed my time away, but I'm paying for it now with exhaustion levels at an all-time high. The bad news is that I found out my anxiety medicine may be causing these feelings to be bigger, badder and uglier than usual. The good news is that I haven't had to take any in over a week, so there's that.

I trust that everything will work out in the end and if it's not okay, then it's not the end. It just sucks in the meantime. I'm reaching out to those who can help and my support system is strong, thankfully. In fact, help is actually coming from some very surprising sources, which I'm quite grateful for.

Until then, I'm still mostly distant from social media. I tend to spend what little energy I have on shit that doesn't matter and I've found it's safest to stay away from Facebook and Twitter when that happens. I am checking DM's, messages and @ replies, though, as well as texts and emails. I'm not so great with the phone, but overall, I am still reachable. I haven't shut myself off from the world entirely - just the superfluous stuff.

When I feel up to it, I'll check in. When I'm not, I won't. I'm focusing elsewhere and trying to fix the stuff I am able to instead of getting worked up about the stuff I can't.

I have gotten everyone's texts, DM's, @'s, emails and messages, though. I am responding to everyone as I am able to. If I don't get to you, please know I do see you. I appreciate everyone's concern and prayers and can use all the good juju you wanna send my way.

Saturday, June 16, 2012

Update: A month later (TMI alert)

Medical updates are always graphic, so proceed at your own risk. Don't say I didn't warn you.

I kind of want to kill my doctor right now. I won't, but I'll get back to that in a minute.

Physically, I've got no pain left from my surgery. Bleeding and discharge finally stopped last week and other than feeling completely and totally exhausted 90% of the time, I'm doing quite well, all things considered.

Emotionally, I seem to be balancing out. My anxiety was at an all-time high last week, but I blame that on being surrounded by 2500 people on a boat in the middle of the ocean with no way to escape except via medication. I maxed out a couple of days on how much medicine I could take. I'm not proud of that fact, but it is what it is and I can't change it now.

I went for my two week check-up on the 4th and it was determined that I had some bacterial growth and my gyno prescribed Flagyl. For those who aren't familiar, it's apparently one of the strongest antibiotics out there and is given only for the most extreme infections. Why? Well, because it's been found to cause cancer in lab rats.



Granted, they're probably given some obscenely high amount, but still. Cancer.

I called him back the next day and said "Uh, no. Find something else." So he called in a prescription for Clindamycin instead. I was assured it doesn't cause cancer in anything and it was safe to take with my other medications, if need be. I took it the day before I left for the cruise and noticed a frustrating side effect: diarrhea. Awesome. Just what I needed to deal with while on vacation, right? I called my pharmacist and she reassured me that it shouldn't cause more than the mildest case and I would probably be fine after a day or two. Combine her reassurance with my paranoia that I'd become septic if I stopped taking it and end up in the hands of a Bahaman medical team, I took the pill again on Thursday.

I won't go into grotesque details, but suffice it to say, "mild" was not what this was. I wouldn't even say "severe" categorized it sufficiently. Catastrophic proportions was more the case.

After one particularly horrible incident on Friday afternoon (of which I will spare you the details), I stopped taking the medicine and decided that septic shock, no matter how dangerous would be better than the humiliation of something uncontrollable happening in front of 2,500 people.

When I got home from vacation, I called the doctor and told his nurse what happened. She conversed with the doctor and called me back, reassuring me that I'd had enough of each antibiotic to fight off the bacteria the doctor had found and unless I developed symptoms of the infection coming back that I wouldn't need further medication.

Thank God.

Unfortunately, I'm still dealing with this damn diarrhea. It's backed off from catastrophic and settled into just an F4 on the Fujita shit scale. Because it hadn't let up in a week, I alerted my chiro to it when I went in on Thursday and he recommended an herbal supplement/pro-biotic that was designed to level out GI/digestive issues and I began taking it immediately.

It's not working. (And when I belch, all I taste is oregano, sage and thyme -- three of the essential oils in the supplement. Awesome.)

Which makes me become concerned.

At 4am.

On a Saturday morning.

And that always leads to Google. Not Web MD, thankfully...because quite frankly, diagnosing myself with cancer is too much for even me to handle right now. But Google is bad enough.

I looked up "clindamycin side effects" and came up with this link: http://www.peoplespharmacy.com/2009/06/21/clindamycin-sid/

I'm sorry, does that say "lethal?" And what's that about "illestomy?!" If I wanted to deal with that, I would've just stayed on the Flagyl and gotten cancer along with the lab rats.

Needless to say, I'm calling my doctor again on Monday to make sure I don't have this c-diff stuff. My fear is that if I do, they'll prescribe yet ANOTHER medication to treat that...which, of course, like everything else I've taken thus far, will have side effects. By the time all is said and done, I'll end up on fourteen different medications and still feel like shit. (No pun intended.)

I'm so fucking over this.

**UPDATE** My nurse friend told me a) to stop Googling at 4am, b) take Immodium, and c) eat yogurt. I'm skipping the Immodium and taking my herbal supplement instead and other than a few handfuls of Cheetos (for which I was properly chastised), I'm eating yogurt (and bananas. And rice. And applesauce.).

Sunday, May 27, 2012

Weekly update

This is the second surgery I've had in less than four months. I'm supposed to be on bed rest, getting up only to go to the bathroom, fill a glass or a plate and back to bed. I am allowed to do more only as I feel up to it, but no lifting, pushing or strenuous activity. No baths, no exercising, no dog walking. Those last few things calm me down. And when the anxiety gets as bad as it has been the last few weeks, not having those outlets is killing me.

Physically, I'm doing well. The pain is able to be controlled by the occasional dose of Ibuprofen and the bleeding is at a minimum, I think. I'm finally able to sleep in bed instead of on the couch. I feel up to doing light cooking and playing fetch with Lucky. I'm not where I want to be, but I'm farther than I thought I'd be.

Emotionally, however, is a different story. I don't know what's going on. The mood swings I'm having are like PMS and Cujo-level rabies got together and had a love child and that love child was raised by Charles Manson. I go from one extreme to another on a flip of a coin and there's no way of telling which way the coin will fall. If all this had happened in February after my right ovary came out, then I could blame it on hormone changes because of the missing ovary. But it's been almost four months since it came out and these mood swings didn't start (according to those around me) until this surgery last week. It's almost like my left ovary is suddenly useless or something. It's bizarre.

I do have an unexpected vacation to look forward to in a couple weeks, though, so that helps with the depression I've been dealing with. It's caused me some anxiety, but overall, it'll be a good thing, so I'm trying to keep that in the forefront of my mind.

In the meantime, when I'm bitchy and downright mean, please just ignore it. It's not you. It's me. I'm sick and tired of being sick and tired.

Monday, May 21, 2012


I've been home for two days now and I'm over this whole recovery thing.

I spent all day Sunday in a deep, indescribable fog. The narcotics had their dirty, seductive way with me and left a dense haze in their wake. I finally submerged from the fog sometime late Sunday afternoon and managed to deal with the pain taking only half of the pills I had been taking.

It's no secret I hate pain pills, but I did learn last time that I have to take them regardless. Thankfully, in talking with a nurse friend, she suggested I take the non-narcotic pill on the steady basis and take the others only when I needed to. Advice was heeded.

I awoke this morning with a start. And by a start, I mean like a sonic boom. It woke me from a dead sleep like a damn bomb went off. Scared me so bad and I couldn't get calmed back down right away. Thankfully, Midget came out to check on me. I was in pain, but not so much that I wanted to take narcotics, so I went back to bed.

I was able to stay on top of the pain, for the most part today, but I'm getting to that point when the fog is gone and the irritation sets in. I hate that I can't do more. One minute I'll feel good enough to stand and make myself a bowl of soup and an hour later, I'll be so tired that even going to the bathroom sends me exhausted to the couch for the next three hours. Patience is not my strong suit.

Overall, Hubs and Ann Marie tell me I'm doing better than I did with the last surgery, but most times, it doesn't feel like that.

I have been able to enjoy my bird feeders a little today, though and even took a few pictures that I posted on Facebook. AM brought us Chinese for lunch and Mom (her step-mom...and let's face it, mine, too) sent up a rotisserie chicken with potatoes for supper. It was nice not to have to worry about cooking anything and I'm sure Hubs appreciates having one less thing to worry about, especially given what a difficult patient I am most of the time.

I'm trying to stay busy and I'm also trying to sleep as often as I can. Right now, I'm just at that "I hate everything" stage. Let's hope it passes.

Saturday, May 19, 2012


Today sucked. That's about the best way I can sum it up.

The IV had to come out. The problem was two of my three meds were going through it and Kris, my day nurse, stated quite matter-of-factly that I wouldn't be able to get those meds if the IV came out. She didn't offer to call the doctor to see what he wanted to do. She didn't think to see if I could get those meds in pill format. She didn't think to see if we could put another IV in. Nope. She went straight to, "You can't have those two drugs."

The problem was that even with all three drugs, I wasn't able to stay on top of the pain. Even with all three in my system, I was staring down the barrel of a 7 on the pain threshold. At one point, I was 20 mins late on a dose and was teetering on a 10 and in tears. It wasn't pretty.

Now, know what that 10 felt like and knowing that was just being late...the thought of being without two of those three meds sent me into a panic attack. (Which, I might add, NOBODY knew I had an anxiety issue. It wasn't marked in my chart - even though the doctor who prescribed the Ativan entered it into the same system the entire hospital/medical center uses. It's a joint system.) I cried and honestly, don't remember the rest. I just knew that if I tried to explain to my nurse what was wrong, I would end up screaming at her and she didn't deserve that. Well, mostly not, anyway...she could've used some fucking initiative if you ask me, but nobody bothered asking me, so I digress. So I asked Hubs to talk to her...which he did. And within 30 mins, I had two more nurses in my room. One was talking me through my panic attack. The other was from Peds and was figuring out the best spot to put another IV so I could get the last few doses of pain meds before I left the hospital.

I did end up missing a full dose of the two IV meds, but I was able to get at least one more dose of each in. Unfortunately, it put me behind the 8 ball pain-wise and I spent the afternoon with ice packs and sleeping to try and block it out. I got about a 3 hour nap. I awoke to find out that the nurse who talked me through the panic attack was my 2nd shift nurse (YAY!) and the nurses aide was the same one I had the last time I was in the hospital in February. Both women were great and talked to me for a long time when they came on shift.

I felt better after my nap and despite not having the IV meds anymore, I wasn't experiencing too much pain. I managed to take a shower and eat some supper. What I forgot to do, however, was take another dose of the Percoset (the one med I was taking by pill). So now I'm playing catch-up. Without IV meds. And without Perc...b/c the pharmacy closed at 7. But I do have vicodin and tramadol, so I can use those until I can get my Perc Rx filled. And I can take my anxiety meds, too, if I need them.

I wanted another day in the hospital, but honestly, now that I'm home and being taken care of by my bestie/sister and my hubby...I wouldn't want to be anywhere else. AM baked me a pie. Hubby bought me pierogi. Pretty sure life can't get better.

Well, if this pain would go away, that'd be great, but overall, I am already doing better than I was after the last surgery at a week out, so there's that.

I see my doctor again in a couple weeks. Unless something monumental happens between now and then, I don't anticipate any updates. Your continued prayers and good thoughts are welcome, though.

And thank you to Brandi, Jeny and my in-laws for the beautiful flowers. They're brightening up my living room as we speak.

Another update

Hi kids. Me again.

I should've just waited until my doctor came in, but I didn't figure he'd be in before noon. But he came in bright and early at 8am.

He said the surgery went well. the left ovary looked good, but the uterus was a firm, puffy mess. He said it looked like there were numerous fibroids but that pathology would cut into it and get a better idea of what was going on.

He said he'd love to keep me in the hospital until tomorrow but insurance probably wouldn't allow it, but I can, at least stay until after diner tonight. It's not what I want but its not up to me, apparently.

at this given moment, I'm waiting for my nurse to come figure out why my IV got "infiltrated" and what she's gonna do about it. feels like a rock under my skin and it hurts like hell.


Post-surgery update

Please keep in mind I'm under the influence of heavy narcotics, so this may or may not make sense. If not, then leave a comment with your questions and I'll try to clarify.

My bestie was a clown yesterday and I love her for it. When she joined me back in pre-op, she brought a tiara, beads and a sign to commemorate my hysterectomy. We each had signs, as well. I was Queen Uterus Removus and she was the Royal Jesterectomy.
And when I came up to my room after surgery, I discovered balloons and a pennant banner that read "Happy This-Uterus-Is-Hyster-Ectom-Y Day." I even had confetti on my wheeled tray. I love her for keeping my mood lighthearted. She's a keeper, that one.

And on a funny side note, as I started to come-to in recovery, I overheard the team of nurses discussing Fifty Shades of Grey trilogy. It was actually kinda cool and made me want to wake up more quickly so I could partake in the discussion.

My uterus and cervix have been removed. My doctor left the left ovary (for reasons explained in a previous blog). He did look it over and determined that the cysts he saw were from ovulation, which is perfectly normal (so I'm told). They're the type that go away on their own and he tells me they're nothing to worry about. He was able to do the surgery vaginally with laporascopic help (which is the much better option as far as recovery goes. I'm in a lot of pain - in fact, I'm surprised how much I hurt from things that aren't there anymore. Gotta love phantom pain. But the doctor has kept me wonderfully sedated.

I intensely disliked yesterday's nurse as she was quite condescending at times and couldn't seem to understand me when I asked her for things. (For instance, I asked for a refill on my water and she said "I'll be right back with your Percoset." Which normally? Who doesn't wanna hear "Lemme get you more narcs" but when your lips are stuck together, you kinda want the water first. But I digress.) But last night's nurse and my overnight nurse were fantastic.

I was allowed to have real food the minute I got back to my room yesterday, but I feel it was too soon, as I was very crampy later on in the day. I've taken it a bit easier since then, opting for beef broth and lots of water instead of eating heavier things. I will say the apple pie I had at dinner last night was the best I've ever gotten that wasn't homemade. So there's that.

Because of my pain levels and the troubles I had the last time they kept me only over night, I am going to plead with my doctor to keep me another day. While I'm shuffling around here without too much trouble, the thought of a 45-min drive home followed by climbing steps doesn't greatly appeal to me just yet. In fact, truth be told, I probably overdid it yesterday, but the floor nurse was super busy last night and I couldn't wait a half hour for her to help me get to the bathroom. And Hubby was already sleep and it was like trying to wake the dead when he's asleep.

On a good note, the night nurse let me change into my own sleep clothes last night, so I'm a bit more comfortable than I was in the hospital gown. Of course, in doing so, she had to disconnect my IV and I promptly bled all over my bedding and spilled some on my nightgown too. Oh well...I'm in MY clothes, so that's what counts. (And I have the stuffed giraffe Midget gave me before I left the house - who incidentally also has a wristband like mine.)

Anyway...I'll keep y'all posted, but there we are, as it stands.

Thank you, everyone for your prayers, thoughts and good wishes. I may haven't have replied to everyone individually, but I have seen them and I am so grateful for your love.

Tuesday, May 15, 2012

This week's update

Three days until my surgery.

I had some questions for my doctor, so he called me tonight and we discussed them.

I've been pushing for a full hysterectomy - since my right ovary came out in February, that means my left ovary would come out along with my uterus and the cervix as well. I was confident that my kinesiologist could help me balance the hormone issues with supplements and nutritional changes.

However, in talking with my doctor tonight, I've changed my mind on removing my left ovary. While I'm still scared that I'm going to have to have it removed due to cysts at some point, my doctor advised me that studies have shown that full hysterectomies in women my age can lead to a shortened life-span due to hormone loss. Shortened by five to ten years.


That's a biiiiiiiiiiiig amount of time. I'm not ready to gamble my life span on an ovary that may or may not be bum yet.

We'll talk more on Friday, but as it stands, Lefty will stay unless there is substantial evidence that it will need to come out in the near future anyway. They're still planning on trying to do the surgery laparoscopically (sp? Do I even care how it's spelled at this point?) unless there are issues that prevent it once they're in there.

I'll get a call on Thursday from the hospital letting me know what time my surgery is.

*deep breath*

Let's do this.

Wednesday, May 9, 2012

Cleared for take-off.

I have been given the green light for surgery. I went to see the internal medicine doctor yesterday to get clearance for surgery and she gave it. My blood pressure was well within the normal range (Thanks to skipping my morning coffee, I'm sure) and she said I'm in good health.

I also talked to her about my increased anxiety and as much as I hate that I had to do it, I did let her give me a prescription for an anti-anxiety pill. It's one that I only have to take as needed, so I won't be a prisoner to it, so that's good. She also said it can help me sleep, which would be nice, too. Although, at this point, sleeping is the least of my worries. I'll sleep when I'm tired. Which may be in June. Who knows.

Monday, May 7, 2012


The depression seems to be lifting a little bit, so that's good. I'll take it. I'll also take the absence of a period in the last 10 days. I've been crampy a lot, but no period so far.

I have an appointment tomorrow with an internal medicinist for my pre-surgical check-up. The only thing I'm a bit worried about is my blood pressure. It's been higher than normal at previous doctor visits and I'm hoping it won't be a hindrance to get this surgery.

And the surgery is 11 days away. It can't come soon enough. I'm ready to get to the recovery part of this process so I can enjoy my summer.

Saturday, April 28, 2012

The emotional part of all this.

Last night, Hubs and I were at dinner and apparently someone sitting near us had a baby because I caught the very faintest whiff of a brand new Pampers diaper. Those of you who've used them know the scent I'm talking about. It's hard to describe to those who haven't, but it's a smell I remember from my childhood when my siblings were first having their babies and I remember being excited about growing up and having my own babies someday. I would always use Pampers because that's what you were supposed to use, right? Anyway, as I sat there last night and caught the scent in the air, I burst into tears.


I'm done with having babies - have been for fifteen years, mind you. I don't want any more babies and haven't for quite some time, but I guess the finality of it all hit me knowing that this surgery takes the choice of having one out of my hands. Not that my bum uterus could handle another pregnancy even if I did get my tubes untied, but the option was always mine, you know?

Thankfully, Hubby just held my hands while I cried and nodded in understanding. He's a super trooper like that.

Now, fast forward to this morning when I woke up to the fourth period I've had since the middle of last month. The woman I am today, kinda wants to strangle that emo bitch I was last night.

I'm so fucking over this already.

20 days and counting.

Tuesday, April 24, 2012


My regular doc (my kinesiologist) suggested I take an immunity booster (Immucore) which is what I normally take only when I'm starting to feel under the weather. It'll put my immunity system levels where they should be so I don't get sick before my surgery and it'll also help me fight any possible infections that stem from the surgery. Then, after the operation, I'll go back on the Surgical Health Formula supplements which help rebuild healthy tissue after trauma. He also wants me to take a nutritional test after the surgery to see what my body is the most lacking in, so we can take care of that before it gets out of hand.

He tried to treat some of the symptoms (including the cramping) I've had, but I don't think the adjustments took. I'm in a pretty good amount of pain tonight and what had tapered off period-wise has returned. Can't seem to catch a break there. It's frustrating.

I did, however, pick up my Vicodin tonight and will be sleeping under the influence of it tonight.

My emotional stress is still high. Although I'm not as depressed as I was these last few days, I'm still dealing with outside influences that make my blood pressure rise -- the last thing I should have happening right now.

But I digress and continue to take it day-by-day. All I can do.

Monday, April 23, 2012

This week's update on the girly parts

I finally talked to the doctor tonight for a few minutes and he's set a tentative surgery date for May 18th for a full hysterectomy. He said at my age, if there wasn't a real need for the left ovary to come out, he'd leave it in, but since there are cysts there now, too, it probably needs to come out. I agreed, arguing that I don't want to go through another surgery in a year when those cysts have grown and are causing me pain, too. I'd much rather deal with turbulent hormones that can be treated holistically, nutritionally and, as a last resort, medicinally than have to recover from yet another surgery.

He's still trying to work with the hospital in getting me in sooner than May 18th, but because he's only allotted a certain number of days in the OR, he's got to take what he can get. So, at the very latest, that's when my surgery will be. If he can get something sooner, he will. 

He's cautiously optimistic that he can do this laparoscopically, but has told me, "don't be surprised if you wake up with an abdominal incision." If they can do it lap/vaginally, then I'll be in the hospital probably overnight and have about a 3 week recovery period. If they have to do a full abdominal surgery, I'm looking at probably 2-3 days in the hospital and at least six weeks recovering. Considering the last surgery was laparoscopic and it took me six weeks to fully recover when they told me 2, I'm not overly optimistic and plan on allowing myself most of the summer to get back up to speed. This means my 5k's will have to wait and that's fine. I'll get to them when I can.

In the meantime, I'm dealing with the third period I've had in less than six weeks. The cramps aren't the level 10 they were last week, but after three days at a level 4, I'd gladly take 8 hours at a 10 and be done with them. This is like Chinese water torture. The doctor prescribed me stronger pain pills, so I'll go pick those up tomorrow. I don't want to take them, but at least I've got them to take if things get worse.

I'm dealing with a lot of emotional issues regarding this surgery that I wasn't counting on. While I've been pushing for this procedure for years, it is a major surgery and there are always risks involved. I'm sure that my biggest issues revolve around the fact that I lost my mom at such a young age. Granted, that situation was much different than this is, but there are so many semantics that are the same and I'm scared. The hard part is hearing from everybody, "you'll be fine," and not being able to trust that completely. That's the great thing about anxiety - it trusts nobody. And by "great," I mean shitty. I haven't really stopped crying since Friday and at this point, I'm pretty much impossible to be around.

I'm also learning who I can lean on and who I can't as this surgery approaches. I'm discovering who is on the selfish side and who would give me their own uterus if I needed one. Here's the thing, I have a major problem asking for help. If it's offered, I'm slowly learning how to accept it, but I will almost never outright ask for it. What bothers me, though, is people who say "If you need anything, let me know" and then can't (or, more likely the case, won't) step up when they're asked. If you truly can't help, I understand. Not everyone is able to help and I respect that. But (and I'm really trying to choose my words carefully here because I'm so upset right now), if you've offered specific help and then you withdraw that offer when we ask you about it, then you shouldn't have offered to begin with. I'll leave the details out because at this point, I don't even want this person's help, but suffice it to say, my feelings were very hurt tonight by a member of my own family. Thankfully, I'm blessed with the most amazing friends on the planet who will, undoubtedly be there for me as I recover from this. 

That being said, I am withdrawing from a lot of people right now. Some of it is because I'm tired of having my feelings hurt. Some of it is because I just don't have the extra energy to deal with other people's drama. Some of it is because I don't want to bring other people down with the depression I'm dealing with. But mostly, it's because I absolutely cannot get sick right now. A sinus infection, the flu, even a cold could mean my surgery gets postponed until June. I just can't wait that long. The only reason I'm waiting until May 18th is because that's the best date they can give me at this point. I don't plan on going anywhere to visit friends and family until after my surgery. Hell, if I can get out of going to the grocery store, I'll do it if it means I don't get sick. I'll Skype and email and Tweet and FB as I feel up to it, but again, I make no promises that I'll be in a good mood. I'm trying to find silver linings on a daily basis, but I suck at this "fake-it-til-you-make-it" shit, so consider yourselves warned.

So there's this week's update. My gyno's nurse is supposed to call me tomorrow with information about the surgery as well as get me an appointment with a internal medicine doctor for a pre-surgical check-up. I'm sure my BP will be a concern of theirs, but I refuse to worry about it right now. I've got too much other stuff on my mind. As I know more, I'll update you here.

Thank you to those of you who have been concerned, have offered to help and have been praying for my health. I appreciate you more than you know. You're all invited to my Uterus Bon Voyage party. ;)

Wednesday, April 18, 2012

More stuff about my vajayjay (High Overshare Risk)


Instead of answering a hundred questions in a hundred different places, I figured it was probably best if I just put everything down here so we're on the same page. It'll be a medical history of sorts, so if you're not into listening about the graphic detail of my lady bits, you're free to go now.

Okay...who's still with me?


Most importantly, I do not have cancer. It seems like an important thing to announce, so there ya go.

Also of importance:
1. My blood pressure was only slightly high today (stress about all this is probably the culprit as it's been fine the last several weeks).
2. My gynecologist is quite supportive in taking the aggressive approach toward me overcoming the issues I've been dealing with for so many years.

That being said, aside from getting to wear pretty shoes, being a woman sucks big ones.

I'm sure most of you are aware of the surgery I had in February due to a tumor on my right ovary. It wasn't cancerous, but it was a big one and both the tumor and the ovary had to be removed. My doctor assured me that while there were small cysts on both ovaries, the likelihood of it happening to the other side was minute. He looked over everything while he was in there and I was given a clean bill of health. I spent the next six weeks recovering.

About a month later, I woke up to a bed full of blood. It scared the hell out of me. I had an endometrial ablasion five years ago that had eliminated my periods, so to wake up bleeding from my 'na was alarming to say the very least. The nurse I spoke with on the phone said it didn't sound life-threatening, but I should be seen by a doctor soon. The ER PA determined it was probably just a period but to keep an eye on things if the bleeding got worse or I had any pain. Within a couple days, the bleeding tapered off and what pain I had went away. Fast forward a couple of weeks, during what would have been my ovulation period and I had quite a bit of cramping. Fortunately, I had some prescription pain killers my doctor had given me after the surgery, so I took one every once in a while and muddled through.

Then yesterday came.

Like in February, I woke up with severe cramping. I spent the morning doubled over in pain and finally succumbed to the pain killers that I've been stubborn about taking. They didn't touch the pain. Not even dwindling it from a 10 to a 9. The pain persisted for almost eight hours despite the medication I tried. (and I tried it all.) Finally, late in the afternoon, I started bleeding and within ten minutes, the pain subsided enough that I was able to control it with medicine. And, like last time, the bleeding has tapered off to almost nothing. During the height of my pain, however, I decided that I was done with it.

I was scheduled for my annual exam in May, so I called my gyno and bumped the appt up to next week. The nurse called me back and reminded me that I had an appointment today for a follow-up from my last ER visit. Thank God!

My main goal in today's appointment was to discuss the possibility of a hysterectomy.

This is where I tell you to shut up. Not you....YOU. You with the judgments and the suggestions and the alternatives and the stories about how hormonal I'll get and how this'll send me into menopause and how I'm too young for that and...and....just stop.

In my defense (and, by the way, this is the only time I'll defend this choice to anyone, so make sure you listen), I've been dealing with defunct reproductive organs for fifteen years (twenty, if you count my miscarriage in 1992). Heavy periods. Absent periods. Cramps. Irregularity. Clotting. Hemmoraging. You name it, I dealt with it. This was not a decision I came to lightly, however it is one that I've pushed for since my daughter was born in 1997. That's when my tubes were tied and my uterus was closed for business. I knew my mother's and my sister's histories with these issues and if I could possibly prevent them, I was totally prepared to do so. Nobody listened. Five years ago when I pushed for a hysterectomy, nobody listened. Instead, I was given birth control and told to try that for a few months. It didn't work. The only compromise my gynecologist (at the time...I see a new one now) was willing to give me was an endometrial ablasion. I took it. And for five years, it did was it was supposed to do. But since that five year mark passed last fall, I've had nothing but pain and problems. Painful periods, mid-month cramping and spotting, pain and spotting after sex and, as I found out in February, ovarian cysts. This hasn't been some flighty "Oh, I think I'll have them remove my uterus today" decision. I've thought about it for most of my adult life. So, thank you for your concern, but I'm asking you to keep it to yourself at this point. You should all know by now how I approach my health, so to purposefully make a choice that makes me reliant on traditional medical treatment should tell you how serious I've taken this decision.

Anyway....today's appointment.

It was supposed to have been a follow-up, but they decided to get next week's exam out of the way today. When I explained the problems I've been having since my surgery, the doctor agreed that having a hysterectomy isn't out of the question.  After the exam (one he couldn't even complete because I was in so much pain with the poking and prodding), he decided that it was probably not a bad idea to pull out the plumbing. He did send me for an ultrasound, however, so "we know what we're dealing with and aren't going in blind like last time." He said when he got the results from everything back, he'd give me a call and we could discuss our options and how we're going to approach this (referring to the type of surgery it'll be, etc), which should be by Friday.

The ultrasound tech found quite a bit of junk. First off, she identified a fibroid on my uterine wall. She said it wasn't more than a few centimeters and probably wasn't causing the problems I've been having, but it was something to keep an eye on. She mentioned that because of the ablasion the lining did look a little rough. And, much to my surprise, she discovered a cyst on my left ovary that has grown fairly rapidly since my surgery in February when I was assured it was nothing. 

I'm angry.

I'm so angry right now. (You may want to look away if profanity offends you.)

I'm so pissed that my doctors didn't listen to me in '97. I'm pissed that they didn't listen to me in 2006. I'm pissed that they could've removed all this shit back in February. But not one person, with their medical fucking degrees, said "Oh. You know, she might know her body better than we do. I mean, we've got a Chilton's manual for how her engine is supposed to run, but she is the person who drives this car every day and probably knows what's going on." NOBODY for ONE fucking second stopped and said "This girl, who seems to know quite a bit about her body and the medical terms we've thrown at her over the years, do you think she might actually know something here?" NOBODY!!!

I'm also scared.

Not for myself and going under the knife again (that's a panic alllll its own - and not likely one I'll be sharing so publicly). I'm scared for what this news could mean for my daughter. How much of this mess is genetic? My mother's not even alive to ask what she had wrong that sent her for a hysterectomy at 36. Will this affect my baby girl? Will the path that my mother and I both have taken mean she's destined to take these same steps twenty years from now? I shudder at the thought.

I consider myself a pretty optimistic person when it comes to situations like these, so to feel these emotions so strongly right now is unfamiliar to me. I usually grab the bull by the horns and dare it to jerk away. Hell, usually I'm the bull. But having just come off this other surgery less than four months ago and heading into one that I'm sure will take twice as long to recover from has me feeling pretty hopeless. I hate that feeling.

But I plug on. And I'll get through it. I always do. I'm just not sure where the strength is gonna come from right now. My tank is pretty empty.

Although, if I have to look at the bright side, at least I won't have to start training for that 5k any time soon. :\

Friday, March 23, 2012

So I think I've lost my mind.

I'm sure for most of you who know me, losing my mind isn't really that newsworthy. My sister, especially, will tell you I've always been a little crazy. But that aside, this may officially make me a lunatic.

deep breath

I'm going to run a 5k.

I didn't stutter, but I'll hold on a minute while you catch your breath from the hilarity that statement caused. Go ahead. Take your time. I'll wait.

I've never been a runner. EVER. In gym class when we had to do the mile, I would jog, maybe halfway around the track, then get a stitch in my side and limp the rest of the way. I'd be the last one huffing and puffing my way into the locker room. My boobs bounced too much, I got shin splints and we won't even talk about the fire I set in my undies by the friction of my thighs rubbing together.

My thighs still rub together, but the boobs and the shin splints aren't a problem anymore and since I've decided to make this fitness thing stick, I decided that having a goal in mind would help me find purpose in all this working out. Not that "not dying" isn't a purpose (trust me, it is!), but what's the point in being fit if I can't show it off, right?

I decided in August, when my hometown does it's annual Prairie Fest, I'll be a part of it. The race begins at the park next to the house I lived in growing up. As if that won't have enough emotional bearing on me that day, I will be doing this race by myself. My bestie and I do a lot together, but because of her knees, she can't run long distances. We walk the shit out of stuff, but there's no running for the two of us together. And that's okay. Sometimes you just have to do things yourself.

So, as the song says....here I go again.

What are you doing??

I was asked today to share what I'm doing to lose weight.

"Using common sense," was the first response that popped into my head. But the more complete answer is diet and exercise.

I'm working out 4-5 times a week. Not because I can't do more or don't want to do more, but because I'm being realistic and I'm still recovering from a pretty major surgery, so I don't want to overdo it. In my workouts, I'm doing HIIT (High Intensity Interval Training) every other day and weight/circuit training on the opposite days. Of the workouts in the link, I'm currently warming up with a 30 second workout. In short, that means, I'm stretching (always!!), then doing a 5 minute warm-up on the treadmill. Then I "sprint" for 30 seconds. After that 30 seconds is up, I slow it down to a more leisurely pace for 1 min 30 seconds. I repeat this 6-8 times. Then I cool down for five minutes to get my heart rate back to normal, then stretch out again. I put "sprint" in quotation marks because right now, I'm FAR from sprinting, but ideally, that's where I'll be when all is said and done. I have a LONG way to go to get back to where I want to be, but for now, my heart rate is in the cardio range and I'm okay with that pace. On days when I don't have the time for 30 mins on the treadmill, I'll switch it up and do a Tabata workout instead. Essentially, that's a 30 second sprint on the elliptical and 30 seconds at a slower pace. I repeat this four times. Add in a warm-up and cool-down and my workout is done in under 15 mins. On the alternating days when I do weight training, I go through almost the entire circuit in my gym: leg press, bench press, arm curls, leg curls, ab curls...whatever is available, I'm on it. The whole circuit, not including stretching takes me about 30 mins or so. I lift the weight that's comfortable for me and instead of increasing the weight just yet, I increase the number of reps I do. If it starts to hurt at 15, then I push to 20 and stop. I believe in endurance, not building bulk.

As far as my diet goes, it's just eating smarter. I don't really deny myself anything (although, I have cut out soda for the most part...I might have one once a week or so), it's just a matter of cutting back on portions. Instead of having a 12oz steak, I might have an 8oz instead. Or a 6. Instead of a double-burger and large fries, I cut back to a single and a small. My body still craves junk...it always will, I think...so I pacify it with the smaller portions. In the past, I've even ordered that small fries and thrown half of them away before I even sit down so I don't eat the whole thing.

One thing I absolutely REFUSE to do, however, is use artificial sweeteners like aspartame or Splenda. The dangers to chemically-enhanced sweeteners is SO much worse for me than real sugar. I'd rather go without entirely than poison my body with those things. I think I've blogged about them before, so scroll back if you want the scoop (or Google "side effects of Splenda" or "dangers of aspartame" sometime). I do, however, use Stevia sometimes, which is a natural sweetener and is becoming more popular as the dangers of the artificial/chemical sweeteners are being talked about more frequently. Overall though, my recommendation (and what I'm trying to do myself) is just cut back on the amount of sugar I use.

The rest is just like I said: common sense. Bake instead of fry. Steam instead of boil. Eat less red meat. Use oils sparingly and if you can,  Eliminate processed foods, artificial flavors/colors/dyes and incorporate as many natural/whole/organic foods as you possibly can into your diet. Our bodies weren't designed to digest all this boxed and frozen food. It simply doesn't know what to do with it.

As time goes on and I'm feeling more and more energetic, my workouts will increase and my diet will become more regimented. But, for right now, even just these few changes has yielded me some AMAZING changes. I've lost 17 lbs, 2 inches in my waist and I'm down two sizes so far. I know the weight loss won't always be this rapid, but for now? I'll take it.

Sunday, March 18, 2012

Weekly Update

Hey kids!

First, I'd like to give a big, fat shout-out to Mother Nature for this AMAYYYYYYYYYY-ZING weather! It's March and I have my central air on (to kill my allergies and the humidity...don't judge me. lol). The sun has been shining, we've got part of our garden in the ground. It's GORGEOUS!

Secondly, my surgical health is going great. The incision wounds are completely healed and are a lovely shade of purple. (Okay, there may have been an eyeroll there.) In all seriousness though, that surgery could've been a LOT worse and had a much more morose outcome, so I'm thanking God for how it turned out. I'm down an ovary and up a period, but hey...it isn't cancer, so I'll take it. I'm still taking it easy when it comes to bending over and wearing pants that cut across the incision too tightly, but overall, I feel good. It's been a LONG time coming, that's for sure.

Thirdly, I'm back at the gym. We joined our old gym again last Monday and I've been four times to work out. I'd like to do more, but again, I'm easing into it. Too much, too soon will burn me out and I could still risk injury, so I'm not pushing myself very hard at this point. I want to just get my cardio back where it was in 2009 and go from there. I'm excited to know that my body still has what it takes to get healthy and in my struggles to get my cardio system back to an even keel, I'm realizing how far I let myself slip these last two years. I don't like how it feels.

I teetered the scale at 270 at the end of February. This was 8lbs higher than my highest high. This? Is un-freaking-acceptable. It's 75lbs more than my mom was at her highest weight and while I adored my mom, I was well-aware that she was "big." I didn't want to be that size. Unfortunately, thanks to two pregnancies, lousy eating and a lifetime of not exercising, I've ballooned up to much higher than her size and would give anything to be that "big" again. Soon. As of today?  

I'm down SEVENTEEN POUNDS and lost TWO inches in my waist!

Seventeen pounds in 18 days. Yes, I am aware that this is not how quickly I will continue to lose weight and I realize I've also only been at the gym for the last week. But, I have been eating differently and other than a Coke here or there to keep my caffeine withdrawal headaches at bay, I've cut out soda. I also cut out sweet tea. Instead of bacon and eggs for breakfast, I'm opting for a fresh fruit & yogurt smoothie instead.

I did enjoy a large plate of pasta the other night at Cheesecake Factory, but besides that, all I ate that day was a smoothie. Today, so far I've eaten six pierogi (yes, with melted butter), but will be working off those calories tonight at dance class.

Oh, did I tell you I joined a dance class? I did. I'm so excited about it. It's my bestie's adult hip-hop class and I can't wait to get started.

I met with a trainer yesterday at my gym and she'd like to see me even out my daily routine so I've got a regular pattern of being awake, eating, exercising and relaxing. I agree that things need to balance out and I need to get my eating habits under control. One meal a day with a smoothie isn't going to get me where I want to be, so I'll be working on that over the next few weeks.

The best news of the week, however, is that my blood pressure checked out PERFECTLY at my doctor appointment yesterday. We're back to the normal range again and, as he tells me, working out and eating right will help it stay there. He still insisted that I eliminate as much stress as possible, so I will still be avoiding those situations and I'm also still debating on joining a yoga class, but for now, I know I'm on the right path and I'm okay with where it's at right now.

How are things in your world?

Sunday, March 11, 2012

Another update (Overshare risk: HIGH)

I figure it's easiest to catch people up here on my health situation, but I also realize that some people are squeamish about female body functions, so this is your warning that I'll be talking about vajayjays and all that stuff, so proceed at your own risk. :)

Five years ago, I had an endometrial ablasion due to extremely irregular/heavy periods. I was told that It may not stop my periods, but for me it did. At least until last night. I would spot from time to time, but as far as what I was used to before my ablasion, those were gone.I did have a heavier spotting last October, but it lasted only a couple hours, so for the most part, I've been happy with the results of my surgery.

Fast forward to February when we discovered the tumor and had it removed along with my ovary, which I'm sure you're aware of. My doctor didn't tell me to expect my periods to return, so it's my assumption at this point that these two things have nothing to do with one another.

Long story short, I woke up this morning to bloody sheets and clothes. At first, I thought something broke loose from my surgery and I was hemorrhaging. Thankfully, that wasn't the case, though the dial-a-nurse did feel that this sudden change in my cycle was enough to warrant a visit to ER or urgent care within a few hours. So, after spending 3 hours in the ER, they determined two things:

1) At around the 5-year anniversary of an ablasion, periods are most likely to begin returning (which means either another ablasion or a hysterectomy -- I vote for ripping out the plumbing entirely. I'm sick of dealing with this).

2) My blood pressure is HIGH. Not borderline high, not watch-and-see-if-it-gets-better-high, not try-some-Yoga-high. We're talking stroke-level-high. NOT good. I'd already planned on returning to the gym as soon as I healed fully from my surgery, so I suspect between exercise, a better diet and learning how to fucking relax once in a while I'll be in a MUCH better place. I've also got plans of going for regular massages to help with my tension levels.

So there we go, kids.

In the meantime, if you see me bowing out of conversations, avoiding confrontation or just burying my head in the sand, this is why. Don't take it personally. I just kinda don't wanna die of a stroke or heart failure.

Tuesday, February 28, 2012

Update on my health situation

Wow, I haven't written over here in a long time. Sorry about that. Kinda fell off the wagon and that sucker is LONG gone.

To catch you guys up to speed, you may want to read this blog. Because of that situation, I'm having to make some changes to my way of life. It's not a diet, although I'm sure I'll refer to it as "my diet" more times than not. It's technically a "cleanse" but because a lot of people don't understand what that means, lemme explain a little bit about what it means.

A "cleanse," by definition is a method used to rid your body of toxins and impurifications. These can be caused by many things, but at the top of the list are allergies, medication, bad diet or infection/illness. It's also commonly called a "detox," but since many people relate that term with drug or alcohol abuse, for the sake of clarification, I'll stick with "cleanse."

When I went to my chiropractor (technically, a "kinesiologist") after my surgery, he explained that the most likely cause for my ovarian cysts was excess estrogen. With one ovary removed, it should even out, but that will take some time. An estrogen cleanse will help hasten the process and get my body functioning correctly again after years and years of not working right. 

PLEASE keep in mind, I am *NOT* a doctor, nor do I know your personal health situation, so please do NOT begin a cleanse or any other specialized diet such as this without first consulting your health care provider. 

This particular cleanse is what my doctor suggested for me to help balance out my hormones after my oophorectomy. It's also used for people with PMS, hormone-related symptoms, menopause and even men with prostate conditions.

With the exception of the supplements, the "modified elimination diet" is pretty much what I should be eating all the time. It's absent of unhealthy fats, additives, caffeine and processed foods, which are all things that cause us impurifications to begin with. Technically, this shouldn't be such a HUGE problem to follow, but when you've lived your life in the "Foods to Avoid" column, it's going to be quite the adjustment. It's also a diet that's extremely difficult to follow if you spent much time traveling (which I do). For that reason, I will not be starting the cleanse until April when I return from a trip to L.A. 

That point, I begin what I've termed "Shark Week."

That's the first phase of the cleanse. It involves shakes made with an herbal supplement called "Estrium". Each day for seven days, I consume nothing but these shakes and one type of green vegetable (changing veggies each day). During this time, I can have nothing but water, that vegetable and these shakes. And when I say water, I mean a LOT of it. For my weight, I'm required to drink at least sixteen 8oz glasses per day. That's a minimum. Ideally, I should drink about 24 glasses, which means at least one glass an hour. This water is what will help flush the toxins from my body.

If I make it through the first week (and that's a BIG "if"), then I continue on to two months of "Step 2," which is the "modification elimination diet" I mentioned earlier. I will continue to drink the shakes, but I'm now allowed to eat foods from an approved list. I also must add a wheatgrass supplement called "Dynamic Greens" and "EPA/DHA 720," an Omega-3 supplement. The modification elimination diet is listed below:

NOT allowed: 
  • oranges
  • corn/corn based products
  • wheat, barley, soy, rye and any/all products containing gluten
  • peanuts/peanut butter
  • beef, pork, sausage, processed meats/byproducts, eggs and shellfish
  • most dairy products such as milk, cheese, yogurt, butter, ice cream and "non-dairy" creamers
  • margarine, shortening, hydrogenated oils, mayonnaise & other processed oils
  • soda, alcohol, coffee, tea or any other caffeinated beverage
  • chocolate, ketchup, mustard, relish, soy sauce, bbq sauce and other condiments
  • white/brown refined sugar, honey, syrup (maple, corn, etc), candy and any other desserts made with those sweeteners
That being said, I am allowed to have the following:
  • unsweetened fresh, frozen or canned fruits or fruit juices (with the exception of oranges)
  • fresh, raw, steamed, juiced or grilled vegetables (except corn)
  • rice, quinoa, tapioca, buckwheat
  • breads made of rice, oat, buckwheat, millet, potato flour
  • all beans, peas and lentils
  • almonds, cashews, walnuts and sesame seeds
  • all canned (water-packed), frozen or fresh fish, chicken, turkey, wild game and lamb
  • milk substitutes (rice milk, almond milk, etc)
  • cold-pressed olive, flax, canola, sunflower, safflower and sesame oils
  • filtered/distilled water, herbal teas, selzter or mineral water
  • all spices and vinegar
  • fruit sweetener, blackstrap molasses and stevia
When those two months are up, I may begin to slowly introduce the foods from the "No-no" list back into my diet one at a time, with the exception of the fats & oils, sugars, soda and all corn syrups. I must also avoid processed & manufactured food as well as artificial sweeteners, flavors, additives and preservatives.
This may kill me.

Just kidding.

Okay, not really.

As I said, when the majority of my diet has come from the "do not eat" list, to adjust to this strict of a healthy diet is going to be the toughest thing I've ever done. But if it means getting my body back to a healthy state, then I need to do it. I've been wanting to get back to where I was 2 years ago anyway and this will be one of best ways to get there. I'm going to have setbacks and there are going to be days when I am going to be absolutely insufferable. The majority of the first few weeks, as a matter of fact. I can almost guarantee it.

I know, I know "How will we be able to tell the difference?" 

Trust me. You'll be able to tell. 

The toughest thing for me to adjust to overall will be not having caffeine. I can live (albeit unhappily) without soda, booze and chocolate. I can even do herbal tea without too much complaint, but the lack of caffeine to a caffeine addict is hell on earth. If I 'cheat' or break the rules, I guarantee it will be to stave off a caffeine headache. I'm going to talk to my doctor to see what we can do to help alleviate the withdrawls, but honestly, I don't know how much can really be done. Like any drug, it's going to have to be detoxed. 

In the meantime, I will increase my water intake and do what I can dietarily to get things started moving in the right direction. What this means is that all these wonderful, yummy, tasty, delicious treats you guys have been sending me have to stop. No more chocolate, candy, vodka, Garrett popcorn (I kinda wanna die) and soda. I will, however, happily accept macadamia nuts, almonds and walnuts if you're insistent on sending anything. I immensely appreciate all the wonderful things you've sent me to help cheer me up during my recovery time. I just can't have them anymore.

So that's what's up.

Friday, February 3, 2012

Little Monsters

WARNING: Medically graphic post and probably one that risks an overshare or two. Proceed at your own risk.

I wish this post was talking about the term Lady Gaga uses when referring to her fans, but in this case, it's referring to the monstrous tumor the doctors found in my abdomen yesterday.

I awoke yesterday morning to severe cramps that I thought were menstrual in nature. I had an endometrial ablasion almost six years ago, so I don't have periods any more, but I do, from time to time, get cramps, breast swelling and migraines. So, over the last few weeks when I've had increased cramping, I didn't think anything of it. I figured it was just PMS-related, took a couple of Tylenol and went on with my day. Yesterday, however, was quite different from the cramps I'm used to having. 

I thought perhaps it was bowel related and once I went to the bathroom I'd be fine. I did, but I wasn't fine. If anything, the pain had gotten worse. Now, I'll be the first to admit I'm a pain baby, but rarely do I cry from pain. The cramps I experienced yesterday morning had me doubled-over sobbing. 

I called my friend Wendy, who's also a nurse, and she suggested that if this wasn't normal cramping that I needed to go to the emergency room. So after a quick call to my bestie, she came and picked me up. That forty minute drive to the emergency room was almost too much. The cramps got worse and by the time we pulled up in front of the ER, I had all I could do to walk into the hospital.

My hubby joined Ann Marie and me a few minutes after I got settled into a room and I spent the next several hours being poked, prodded and scanned. My fear was that it was a blood clot due to all the sitting I'd been doing on the plane and in the airports last week, but the doctor quickly dismissed that fear. He first thought I had kidney stones and sent me down for a CT scan to find out for sure. This initial diagnosis scared me immensely. The pain involved with passing a kidney stone aside, I have plans for these kidneys and nowhere in the scheme of those plans was there room for stones. I had a small meltdown and was proverbially bitchslapped from my bestie for worrying about her kidneys instead of myself. I digress. Fortunately, the results from the CT scan came back and my fears were put to rest for the time being.

Then the doctor mentioned something called a teratoma that showed up on my right ovary and coming from a family who has been stricken with numerous types of cancer, I recognized the term -toma immediately. The nurse reassured me that it didn't necessarily mean cancer, that it was more like a cyst. Having known numerous people with ovarian cysts, I wasn't over worried; cysts are pretty common, after all. The doctor then told me that according to the scan, the cyst was 7cm x 7cm. Metric conversions aren't my forté, but I knew that was about 3 inches. In that area of the body, that's a good sized cyst. The doctor told me that he'd consulted with a gynecologist who was on his way over to look at my scan and discuss the findings. 

When the gyno got there, he confirmed the doctor's diagnosis that it was a ovarian teratoma. He said it was a medium sized cyst that would need to come out, but that it wasn't emergent and unless I wanted to do the procedure today, it could wait a week or two. I expressed my concern about it being cancer, but the doctor reassured me that the chances of it being cancer were less than five percent. This eased my worries a little, but by this point, I was mad at whatever had caused me this pain and I just wanted it out. The gyno understood and explained the procedure would be done laparoscopically and that depending on how involved it was with my right ovary, it too may need to be removed. Given that I had my tubes tied almost fifteen years ago, I didn't care if my lady parts stayed or went. I signed paperwork, the doctor got on the phone with surgery and within an hour, I was being prepped.

By 7 p.m. I was in recovery and the nurses were reminding me to breathe deeply (always a problem for me). Typically, this surgery is done out-patient but because I was having a good deal of pain and one of the incision sites was having some trouble with seepage, they decided to admit me overnight. I spent the night on a Fentanyl pump and the doctor came in to talk to me this morning. 

I had a lot of questions for him because he was gone by the time I came out from under the anesthesia and Hubs isn't the detail-oriented person I am, he didn't ask the questions I would have. I wanted to know if they had to take my ovary, first of all (they did). As an information whore, it was also important to me to know exactly what this thing was called (dermoid teratoma - I'll let you Google that little bit of nastiness on your own). I also wanted to know if there was any way this could've been an ectopic pregnancy gone horribly awry (it wasn't). I wanted to know if there was a chance of it coming back on the other side (there is). I wanted to make sure my tubes were still "tied" (they are). I wanted to know what my recovery period is (two weeks). Most of all, I wanted to know if it is cancerous (doc says no, the biopsy should confirm this). Long story short, this cyst is the most disgusting thing you could possibly imagine but it has been removed. 

(The white and dark colored tissue you see here in the photos
is the cyst that wrapped around my right ovary.)

The doctor said that it was a bit larger than they first thought, explaining that the ovaries are typically the size of an almond and my cyst was the size of an orange and filled with fluid, hair and other organ-type tissues. I was totally grossed out, but he reassured me that this is normal because apparently ovarian tissues are complex in that they draw cells from all parts of the body - hair follicles, sweat glands, bones, teeth, organs like liver and kidneys, etc.This cyst, because it grew from the ovarian cells, also includes many of these cells. Hubs called it an alien and honestly? that's what it feels like this is: some sort of hairy little alien. It's been sent off to pathology and I should know shortly for certain that it's not a malignant tumor. Granted, the doctor has already given his expert opinion and that it's not cancer. But I'm someone who needs proof, so I will wait patiently (ha!) for the results to set my mind at ease.

Until then, I am forced to take it easy and recognize how fortunate I am in all this. If this had happened last week, my family would be frantic here at home while I was recovering at a friend's place in Harlem. My bestie, thankfully, is unemployed right now and was able to drop everything and not only take me to the hospital, but was able to stay with me all day to put my worried mind at ease. Hubs, too, was not only able to take off work and come to the hospital, his bosses had FMLA paperwork drawn up so he can take off the rest of the week to spend with me so I'm not alone. My friend RG came up and tagged in for Ann Marie and Hubs so they could get something to eat (since they hadn't eaten all day) and stayed with me. As it often does, our conversation helped me make sense of the day and the perspective I needed desperately. Even my ex-husband and his mother were there for me. They picked up Midget so she wasn't here alone and scared after school last night. They drove her to school this morning, too, so she wouldn't miss her presentation for National History Day. 

Tonight, Midget and I had the "What if it's cancer?" talk and I think we both feel infinitely better. Since Hubs can be a bit of a tosser and a turner, I decided to sleep on the couch tonight. It's also easier for me to get up and down out here, so this is where I'll sleep. Midget, who is afraid I may need her in the middle of the night, is also camped out here with me. She's asleep on the bean bag and I'm on the sofa.
Even in this narcotic haze, I can appreciate God in all this. His timing is impeccable and He has surrounded me with love. I am so blessed.

**UPDATE** The pathology reports indicate the tumor is benign. It is not cancerous.