Friday, July 22, 2011

Health and Garden News

So, the latest weigh-in has me down 21 pounds from April. That's good news. There has to be some, right? The men's work shirt uniform our company provides, to men or women, which I had to leave unbuttoned at the bottom because it tapered in just where I tapered out, now not only gets fully buttoned but is loose enough to slip over the outside of my shorts without pulling. So it's demonstrable good news. Some shorts I bought recently without drawstrings in the waist are no longer something I can wear without risking embarrassment. It may be fashionable among urban young men, but not in the circles I run in.

I wish I could tell you my knees are better with the weight loss. I'd love it. But when you're down to bone-on-bone.... 'Nuff said.

The blood sugar is being managed fairly well with just diet, since the exercise part of diet-and-exercise just ain't happening, so that's another good thing. I'm testing it less often these days, but the amounts are in line with what they were before, and I will increase the testing back to the three-times-a-day level next month so my diabetes person can have a full record for the 30 days before my next check on the 31st. Thirty days is how long the meter stores the memory. There may be some surprises through August, however.

The allergy shots might be doing some good but it's hard to tell. If my symptoms were sniffling and sneezing, it'd be more obvious what's happening. With the doubling of my Zyrtec, the dermatographism is pretty well under control anyway, and I'm not ready to back off and see whether I'm still driven insane by itching. Not yet. It is still my goal, however. I can tell that the post-nasal drip and cough have lessened, but it's summer and it always got better in summer. Since that increases molds and pollens, it's kinda perverse, but.... Anyway, I'm up to the green level of shots. I started out in silver, the color of the cap on the vials, with that being the weakest dose. Green is second, and I may be through them soon. We'll have to see how long I have to stay off them for the surgery, and what it takes to return to current levels. I can still get two more in before surgery.

And that brings us to the BIG news. It's definitely surgery. No embolization. no laser treatments, no other options left. Just surgery. I finally got resigned to it by the time I got around to calling the gynecological oncologist, so the rest is just carrying through. The appointment was yesterday. His office is across from United Hospital in St. Paul, where he'll be operating. August 1st. Check-in 8AM, so none of this 4AM wake-up crap.

It's funny how everyone assumes that the OB-GYN I visited recommended him. No, she could hardly be bothered to even give me the results of the ultrasound on-line, and only when asked several follow-up questions (at the prodding by my primary care physician to ask them of her) did she reply with a recommendation for the category of specialist I should see. I looked him up in the book that U Care sends out covering who is covered by their plan. I could have picked the U of M, but parking there is horrendous! And Southdale is too far. And actually, it was a different doctor listed at that clinic in the book, but they put me over to his office instead. He's covered though: I checked.

If the clinic gives you the code for that month, there's a free parking lot next to his building. No shade, so you return to your portable sauna after your visit, but that's SOP. And his office, of course, is at the exact opposite end of the building from the parking lot entrance. Also SOP, it seems. But there's a restroom halfway down the corridors, so a chance to sit a minute. And whatever.

I was the only one in the waiting area when I arrived. Another woman showed up and was quickly escorted back, and then three people came in together. They were there "for _____", who apparently was the woman just sent back, and were told to wait a few and they could go back and talk to the doctor. When it was my turn, among the long list of questions I was asked was whether I was (actually!) there on my own? It was said in such a concerned tone of voice that I gathered it was usual to bring a cheering squad/support group to these visits. Hadn't occurred to me. Been doing my own doctors' visits since, what? forever? Well, adulthood, anyway. Apparently I was supposed to be overwhelmed, distraught, incapable of digesting information, whatever. This was supposed to be scary.

Oh shucks, sorry to disappoint. Scary is facing the bills, and I've developed a plan, including checking myself back out of the hospital after two days to keep the costs down. There are enough healthcare professionals wandering through my house on a daily basis these days. I'm sure they can change a dressing, note inflamation, reassure me whether symptoms are normal, etc., if needed. Scary was not going to be something the doc said that day about what I was carrying around, since I already knew what it was or could be, and there would be no real news until after the surgery when my "football" was examined by the pathologist. That might or might not be scary then, but it'll be dealt with on an outpatient basis, and the insurance kicks in again.

What's your choice of "-oma"? I heard about five different terms, or at least I think there were five. He rattled them off so fast. It could be a myoma, a jargon-jargonoma, a jargon, a jargon-jargonoma, or carcinoma. I caught the first and last for sure. Actually, it helped that he wrote them down. The myoma is what this started out as: another word for fibroid, the "my" part of the word referring to smooth muscles, what the uterus is. Carcinoma, of course, is the worst possible case, and is exactly what you think it is. There are other levels and varieties in between of what stage it might be. They won't pull any lymph nodes until they get the pathology report requiring it, and that means I'll be "open" on the table while they wait. Hope they pick soothing music. Just not too soothing. I shouldn't have any problems with lymphodema (fluid buildup) if they do pull them, but on the rare occasions that happens (you hear about it with mastectomies) it's usually in combination with radiation therapy.


After he examined me, I asked him how much weight he thought he'd be cutting out. Since I'd just lost a bunch, may as well take advantage when I can to lose more. He thought 10 to 15 pounds. See? That's another good thing. Of course, I may have to throw out more pants that'll suddenly become too big to stay up. Or just sew in darts and wear them out. Not like I'll have money to burn for a while. He said I can be out in 2-3 days - I told him 2 - and can drive again in 2-3 weeks. That will also be 2. There'll be weight restrictions for lifting at first, till I'm fully healed. Doable.

I've been working on arrangements. Steve can't visit or help with Dad, because he'll be getting his own surgery this Monday for a better knee replacement. He's agreed to spend a couple weeks in a nursing home TCU to recoup before going home. I'm heading out Sunday both for a visit and to pick up Fred. He can spend three weeks with Koda, chewing his Milk Bones and romping through the back yard. He's visited before, just not without Steve. Work got told I'm taking two weeks off for vacation. (I could have told them I need a rest cure from ___ .) As an independent contractor, I can tell them, not ask. Jessica can come early the day I go in, drop in on weekends if necessary either for me or for Daddy, and Paul can take a couple days vacation with fairly little notice right now to drive me in and pick me up.

Maybe he'll even take an extra day or so just to harvest fruit from the yard since the weird weather has put everything ripening at once instead of spread out over the calendar. Usually it's cherries for a couple weeks in late June, ending just as blueberries start, and raspberries get going a week or two later and last through much of August. He picked all three tonight. At least the apples haven't gone nuts yet. Nobody's looked at the currants, the Nankings, or the chokecherries. Don't know how the grapes are doing, but lots of fruit started, earlier this summer, and Paul tells me the mourning dove nest in the arbor is now empty, presumably from fledging. He hasn't said anything about the grapes, but they run late in the season if I remember. And speaking of fledging, the phoebes in the front entryway are getting ready for their second brood to fledge. Somebody's having a good year.

I need a pre-op physical, including a chest x-ray and EKG. I suspect labs go with that, but nobody said so to me. I just know what kind of pre-op tests Steve just had. We now know we share the same blood type.

There's a week to think about packing. I know which author I'm taking with me for light but fun reading. I think I know which clothes I'll wear, and yes, the shorts do have a drawstring. I need to remind Paul to bring a small pillow when he picks me up: a buffer between the incision and the seat belt. I've got a week to show Jessica where the coffee filters are and run her through the parts of Daddy's routine that I usually do before she gets here. And apparently I get to sooth a lot of the people who are freaking out around me.

I'm waiting to see how lucid Daddy can still be before I decide whether and what to tell him. If I do tell him, "female troubles" ought to cover it.

I've been toying with taking a black Sharpie and drawing either a zipper or a scissors and dotted line down my midsection just before surgery. You know, just to make sure they're cutting in the right place for the right thing. There aren't a whole lot of spare parts left.

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