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4 posts from June 2013

June 29, 2013

The good news is

that I have the all-clear from my surgeon. The bad news is that simply means that I don't have to return to see him before I leave (um, in 10 days!).  Sadly, it isn't really an indicator of pain being that much less or me being able to do that much more.

While I had hoped to be perhaps thinking about running by now, or maybe even just a few yoga stretches, I've had a bit of a setback this week.  While last week I finally felt like I was well enough to start walking more, unfortunately, I think the move interfered with my healing.  While I didn't intentionally try to lift or move anything I shouldn't, I spent most of the last week twisting, turning, lifting, squatting, sometimes bending, and there was a lot more physical exertion than over the past three weeks.

By Wednesday of this week my pain level began to rise.  It gradually worsened until Thursday evening I was in tears on the way home from dinner.  I had long since run out of pain pills and no amount of Advil was helping. Short of resting in bed, nothing helped with pain. Note:  Pretty much impossible to rest in bed 24 hours a day while you are trying to move overseas.

Since my surgical follow-up was today, I figured I could eke it out pain-wise until I got to the doctor and then beg and plead for more Percocet.  Yes, I realize how that sounds, but when you are having the kind of pain I am having, it is a need.  I didn't even bother sitting down in the waiting room or exam room, as that would only mean having to recover from that.  

The doctor entered the room, saw me standing and figured out fairly quickly that I was still not exactly ready for so much as a couch to 5 K.  He had me remove the binder I've worn for the past month, took one look at the surgical site, and asked my permission to have a physician's assistant take a look.


Well, despite my discomfort, apparently, I am healing quite well.  While I may not feel fantabulous, the improvement in the way I look is about 1000%.  The doctor had a fun time trying to explain just how awful the bulge was...

"It was THIS (holds right hand about a foot out from the right side of my abdomen) big!"

I have to admit, despite the slow recovery, he's right. It's amazing what a bit of mesh and a few little pieces of hardware can do to improve one's body.  And if you are wondering if this was a vanity thing, if you know me, you know it's not.  I simply want a body that is not causing me constant pain and that is not what I had.  Right now, I'm having recovery pain.  Prior to the surgery, I had regular pain doing anything and no amount of exercise did anything for the bulge.  It was just growing and without surgery, would never improve.

In fact, although I haven't really lost much weight, and obviously, I can't do too much to improve my musculature right now, I was thrilled to put on a pair of jeans for the first time and have them fit me evenly (and a teeny bit loose).  I had given up wearing nearly anything but yoga pants prior to surgery, simply because I had to have something stretchy to fit over the bulge.  Not fun, I tell you, not fun.

Oh, and the move?  I'll save that for tomorrow, but I will say had I not had the interference of the surgery and recovery, it would easily qualify as our most-organized move ever.  It's not over yet, but if things keep rolling along as they have been, I may not be a complete mess when we board the plane next week. Fingers crossed! 




June 21, 2013

With nary a care for my health,

I spent the day working in the garage.  While Peter did the heavy lifting, I sorted through toys, papers, memorabilia and found everything from my Presidential Fitness Award (the pin) to our original marriage certificate (um, yeah, that should not be stored in the garage).  Don't ask.

Unlike previous moves, where I pretty much just pointed and said, "Pack it all," we have decided to try and be uber- organized (cue laughter now).  We actually have our shelves in the garage sorted by stays here/storage/HHE (UAB will be pulled out accordingly).  It's not perfect yet, but it was by far the biggest task and I'd say we are 75% of the way there.  Luckily, Grandpa Kirk flies in tomorrow, so he will take over kid-care and the dreadful (as if) task of hanging out at the pool while the kids swim for hours, so we can run around like crazy and purchase bikes, a trampoline, a basketball hoop, a Sodastream, and wine.  Priorities, right?

The rest of the house, barring Kelsey's room (about halfway there) is pretty well good to go.  Den needs a bit of work, but Cait managed to knock out her entire room in one night, and the mid-level has been set since the pre-packout survey.  Oh, and, yes, we have a box set aside for all of the Lego bricks we know we will find once the movers leave.  Travel toys, right?

Prior to all of this moving frenzy, we actually had a bit of excitement in our house.  Nearly everyone won an award (or two) in our household, and three of them were complete surprises, at least for the recipients.

Since Peter completed his UT, the kids were eligible to receive medals from the Family Liaison Office (FLO) at the State Department and certificates signed by John Kerry.  While we figured Cait might want to receive hers quietly, we knew that Kelsey might enjoy receiving hers at school.  Several months ago, Peter wrote to Kelsey's principal and they devised the perfect plan for giving Kelsey the medal and certificate during the ceremony.  Not only was it thrilling to receive in front of her classmates, but the fact that Peter could present it meant that much more.

Photo 2

Not only did Peter give her the award, but Kelsey's principal then went on to speak for a few moments about how difficult this kind of assignment can be.  A beaming Kelsey walked back to her seat to a round of applause, found us in the audience and blew us a kiss.  She had no idea we had this planned, and until her name was completely clueless as to why I'd tried to get her to dress up just a wee bit that morning.  However, she was not the only one surprised that week..

The previous Friday Cait came home and announced that she needed a dress.  Given that she is a hoodie and jeans kind of person, this came as a bit of a surprise.  As it turns out, she was slated to receive an award for exemplary academic achievement in world history and geography.  She has been fairly modest about receiving the award, but it seems like she was chosen from a rather large pool of students.  We could not be prouder, though we knew award or no, she is quite talented in those areas.

Photo 1
Nick also garnered his Unaccompanied Tour award on his last day of school.  His teacher presented it to him in front of his classmates and he was so excited, he let her take a picture!  I think his biggest award is simply having Peter home, but the kids do appreciate the recognition.


Last, but not least, I won an award.  I know, that's crazy talk, right?  I almost wasn't even there to receive it, as I was still in so much pain last week.  However, it was my last Girl Scout Leader dinner and I knew I couldn't miss it.  I took a pain pill, bucked up, and ended up being absolutely stunned to win an Outstanding Leader Award.  I was just sitting there, calmly waiting to hear the winner's name called and all of the sudden, there I am receiving my pin and endorsements!  I will only say that I absolutely could not have won the award without such amazing girls and other parents to work with.  The girls totally and completely make the troop and if not for them, I would not have been standing there Thursday night.  

Um, no, no pics of me yet.  Thanks to the swelling from the surgery that still has not completely abated, I now look completely semi-pregnant.  It's better, I can get the binder tighter, but I'm definitely looking forward to a day that it's not part of my accoutrement.

And now it's time to organize the china hutch...the fun just never ends!




June 13, 2013

Birthdays don't

take a break.  You can't cancel a birthday.  Sure, you can opt to celebrate later, but when you missed the previous year's celebration (say, because said birthday person was overseas), it's even harder to postpone it two years in a row.

The past two weeks have been so very difficult.  I expected a harder recovery than I was told I would have, but this is way beyond that.  I still have a lot of pain from you know, sitting, walking can be done, but then even the shortest walk puts me back instead of forward, I'm tired of the recliner, but tried to nap on the couch last night and that was a big mistake to say the least.

I was so excited because I thought by now I would be really on the mend.   Instead, I've had to cancel most outings (graduation parties, volunteer days at schools, a whole weekend away) and pick and choose maybe one thing a day.  I opt for something that will get me up and moving (as in leaving my house), but where I know I won't actually be asked to do anything other than sit in a comfy chair.  Pathetic.

Tomorrow night I'm not even supposed to be home, as it's the end of the year Girl Scout Leader dinner and I don't even know if I'll get to that.  I'm really hoping my recovery is normal for my surgery and I was just given inflated expectations, as I'm really at my wit's end.  It doesn't help we are packing out in 12 days and if Peter wasn't here, I'd pretty much just be weeping in my recliner.  Since he is here, he is doing all of the organizing while I draw up fun UAB/HHE/Storage/Stays in House/Freecycle, Craigslist&/orDonate lists.  It's not what I hoped to be doing, but at least I feel semi-useful.  Well, until it's naptime.

And yet...

Tomorrow is Peter's birthday and I've got nothing.  I'll have to beg him to take me out so I can *buy* him a cake that he has to carry home.  Gifts?  Had I actually thought about that in advance, I'd have something more exciting.  No special dinner tomorrow night since I can't shop or really prepare anything, and we had to cancel our weekend away since I'm still in so much pain...so the whole combined special Father's Day/birthday weekend just went down the tubes.

So this is the best I can do for now:

Happy birthday, Pete!

Love you and thank you for spending your home leave getting me every kind of takeout possible so I can spend the entire time recovering in the recliner.  I know this isn't the way you probably wanted to spend your birthday week, so maybe this will help?


Don't worry, the real one should show up in your email some time in the morning.   

Sigh....and back to the recliner.



June 03, 2013

Last week I was under the mistaken

impression that somehow because my surgery was laparoscopic (read:  less invasive), it would somehow be less painful (as have been previous laparoscopic surgeries). This idea is indicated in many places and recovery is touted as shorter and sweeter.  My thoughts?  If you have to have the same surgery (hernia repair) that I did and cannot have it laparoscopically, start the painkillers now (even if the surgery is months off).  No joke.  I will grant that apparently the hernia was bigger, hence more pain, however, in no way, shape or form was I prepared for the agony of post-operative pain.

I was barely in recovery for an hour last Thursday (after being reassured time and time again prior to surgery that I would go home that afternoon), when it was deemed that I would likely need to stay the night.  I was in such awful pain that I could not breathe without feeling as though I had the world's most giant cramp in my side.  I'm quite amazed any oxygen reached my lungs, given how hard it was to inhale, exhale, you name it.

After a quick meeting with the surgeon, it was decided that I would be sent off to my own room to hopefully improve overnight.  Knowing that the Salty Dogs (well, one of them) had the kids squared away left me only to worry about myself...and the thought of poor Peter being too proud to ask the nurse for a pillow.  I mean, those benches in the rooms look comfy and all, but the poor boy definitely had a crick in his neck on Friday morning.

I spent the entire night and most of the next morning alternating sleep with worrying about being asked to schlep to the bathroom again (why do hospitals not have higher toilet seats?  I mean, really!).  Then there was the high pain vs. nausea.  You see, the high pain causes a bigger need for painkillers.  However, more meds on an empty stomach?  Yeah, not a great combo.  I mean, the ice chips helped and all, but it's really sad when you can't even barter up for half of a ginger ale.

Finally, in the morning, I was given the green light to go home, at about the same time I was told I could eat again.  Of course, no one actually told the food service this news and Peter got a big, ole "No can do," when he tried to go crazy and order me wheat toast.  No worries, as it took me two hours to eat three bites, since I kept falling asleep while trying to eat my breakfast.  And if you are wondering why there are no photos of this splendid experience?

Around noon, my wheelchair showed up (the nurse actually asked me if I wanted one.  It took me FIVE minutes to get out of bed and walk 3 feet to the bathroom...what's your guess?).  After the world's worst wheelchair ride (not the driver's fault), I had possibly the worst car ride home.  The only thing worse than being nauseous and in a large amount of pain, is being in too much pain to actually be sick.  Maybe in hindsight that's a good thing?

We made it home, I rolled into my recliner, and can't say I did much other than walk to and from the bathroom, take my regularly scheduled painkillers (bless those pills, just bless them) and sleep for two days.  I couldn't even consider Netflix until Saturday night (seriously, that's how much I didn't want to be awake and feel the pain).

Finally, it started subsiding a bit yesterday.  I was able to *walk* (I use this term loosely, like a zombie would use the term *breathe*) over to Kelsey's lemonade stand, freak out a few passers-by, hang onto a tree for dear life, and then return home to collapse for several more hours.

After another good night's sleep and an even further ebbing of the pain, I was ready to pull out the big guns today.  I walked a roundtrip of approximately .10 miles to the steps of the basketball court so I could watch Nick ride his new bike.  Somewhere in there, I not only perfected my zombie shuffle, but very likely pulled something.  So, again, back home, in the recliner, down goes a painkiller (only one, but still), and I have to hope for the best that tomorrow will be a less painful day.

I would like to say that I really hope to never have another surgery related to this whole disaster.  I am sure for some there is some great cosmic lesson, but I have just found out that I really don't like scary diseases and I like multiple surgeries even less (like zero surgeries would have been just fine with me). So, I am finished with all of the above for a good, long time.  

Now, all of the above being said, I do owe a few thanks to those who have helped out so much over the past few days.

Salty Dogs:  For everything!  Sangria and margaritas on the beach, I promise!

Peter:  For your kind understanding when I ask you to fluff the pillow beneath my right leg *just so* about 18,000 times a day.

Caitlin:  For helping out Saturday afternoon and not saying a word.

Kelsey:  You noticed the very first time I walked on my own and congratulated me with a taste test of cookie dough.  Oh, and for being such an incredibly super-independent little Nugget!

Nick: You are an awesome Little/Big Guy and thank you so much for taking on every task I've given you, from getting me more seltzer to finding the remotes.  Even better?  Offering to help me walk to the bathroom, calling me "Sweetie" every time you ask if I need help, and reminding me that you are sorry I needed another surgery.

And, now I bid you good night, as the pain has kicked it up a notch again.  Let's end on a precious note, shall we?