Wednesday, August 31, 2011

Change in Plans

I took Fred Basset over to visit Steve on Sunday. He's been staying here since Steve had his knee surgery. Part of the visit was to see if just perhaps Steve felt up to keeping him yet. He tried walking him with the aid of his walker, but declared after a few minutes that he just wasn't ready yet.

But it was tempting.

We did have a good chat about what we want to do in Arizona for the honeymoon next February. Our wish lists alligned up to be either north of Phoenix or south. Then we started thinking about the likelihood of there being snow around Flagstaff and Monument Valley that time of year. Then we started thinking about how long it was all likely to take, how much time we'd have to explore everything after retiring there in a few years, and just how little money was going to be in the budget after paying for my surgery.

We decided to cut our plans in half, and just tour the southern spots on the wish list: Old Tucson, the Sonoran Desert Museum, Tombstone, Karchner Caverns. That should give us one night out in a motel, perhaps two. We can still see friends in Sun City West, check out housing options (Sun City, S.C. West, single house vs. duplex vs. town house, sell here and move down vs. keep this house and snowbirding in a mobile home, etc.) and see a few places Steve wants to see in Phoenix proper.

That'll still be a full agenda. And we might even get to relax on occasion.

Tuesday, August 30, 2011

Back in the Harness

Yes, I've been back at work, and doing pretty much everything I was doing before, regardless of the weight restrictions my surgeon tried to impose. It's a funny thing about calling in runs and getting the piece count and weight accurate: the customer - who is always right - seldom gets it right. They'll tell you three pieces, 10 pounds, and it's all in one box weighing 27 pounds. Or whatever. If I refused to pick up anything over 10 pounds when I actually arrived at a pick, I'd have no work.

But I feel fine. The scar is finally healed over, the adhesive allergy has finally given up on plaguing me after weeks of having scrubbed it all off, and I have some energy. Well, just about enough to get me through a work day.

It's amazing how uncomfortable my car seat has become. Two weeks off and you'd think I'd never sat in it before, much less for 11-12 hours at a time and for years in the same style seat. The body is slowly adjusting again, though any drive of a couple hours makes the hip and thigh ache. That never used to happen.

The knees felt completely fine for most of two weeks, but with resumed activity and cessation of the really good meds, they're back with a vengeance. By the time I get home at night, I can barely move, and just sitting in my recliner doesn't make them comfortable. It doesn't help that the end of summer has left us a bit short-handed, so I'm being asked to work later into the evenings. I hate to turn it down, after missing two weeks of income. Plus there's the little thing of a hospital bill. I haven't seen it yet, but I have seen the letter from the insurance company where they're denying payment. So whatever it would have been, add the ten grand that I thought they were going to pay.

With all that, the energy I start each day with barely lasts till I get home. There's nothing left to even watch much TV with, so I'm backed up on even the light schedule the DVR has been recording of end-of-summer programs. There's been none at all for blogging. I figure the only way to grab some time is to do it first thing in the morning. Right now, instead of getting Daddy up as usual by this time, I haven't even started the coffee.

So, bye.

Saturday, August 13, 2011


I'm just arriving home from one of our longest, hottest auctions, finding out that my car seat has become extremely uncomfortable for any distance driving, and get greeted with the following as soon as I put my things down and sit in my chair.

"I think we should call a meeting to set up ten clubs with two people each to discuss what we should do with the inheritance."

OK, there is just me and Daddy in the room, with Paul outside helping me empty the car of the things weighing over 10 lbs. that I'm not allowed to lift until October, namely my chair and the pieces of the scooter I hauled over to the auction. I don't even bother to ask him which twenty people he has in mind. But I was game to talk with him, if I could figure out where in his fantasy he was so I could participate.

"What inheritance, Daddy?"

"I don't know."

"Well, is somebody giving us money?"

"I don't know." He's already getting testy.

"Daddy, I just got here, late in the conversation. If I don't know what we're talking about, how can I contribute?"

He wasn't ready to hear anything approaching reason. I was already regretting my wish to keep him company. One last try. "Well, if there's no inheritance, what's the point of calling a meeting?"

"Can I talk?"


"Stop interrupting me. I think you've had enough to say on the subject!"

Stop interrupting? Hmmm. "I just said 'OK', Daddy."

Apparently he can't take a "yes", because he continued, on and on, so testy that I simply left the room for little peace and quiet in the den. Here, doing this.

At that point he alternated between trying to keep track of how many dogs and cats were in the room at any given time, and wondering how he could hold a meeting if we weren't going to cooperate with him and attend his meeting. Paul was back in, and got his own earful. On several occasions Daddy voiced his disgust with the rest of us - whoever he thought we were or should be - for not giving him enough people to attend the meeting, announcing he couldn't hold a vote, take a motion, or even keep the meeting going.

About five minutes ago he formally canceled the meeting. Maybe it's time to go back and sit in a comfy chair again.

Friday, August 12, 2011

First Outing

Since the screen house is attached to the house, it really doesn't count as my first time outside the house. So yesterday's drive to Wyoming for allergy shots was my first outing since the surgery.

There was a lot of prep involved, starting with a much-needed and long-delayed shower. I'd had one after getting home, but since the dressing I was told to leave on for ten-twelve days stayed wet for hours afterward, despite following directions to towel-wick it dry, I decided I could live without showering until it was ready to be removed. No sense courting infection. But first, remove the dressing.

It seemed like it was ready. Some of the lower edges were curling up and away from the skin, likely from being in more sweaty areas. I started there, slowly peeling off tape, until the whole gauze pad - nasty! - was removed. I found out three things: the tape removed some skin, it was the medical adhesive I'm allergic to, and there was a solid wall of overlapping tape strips over the actual incision yet to remove. The hospital had sent me home with three packets of wipes to remove the adhesive, so woefully inadequate that when Jessica offered to head to the local pharmacy and buy a box of them, I gratefully agreed. I think I ultimately used about a third of the box. I'm still reacting to having the stuff on my skin for that long, but that's just one of a myriad of itches I can't do anything about right now. Hardly noticeable in the bigger scheme of things - until I try to go to sleep at night, when each one magnifies without the distractions of the day to gigantic proportions to plague me.

Once everything was off, I discovered something else. I'd thought they sliced me open from pubic bone to navel. Nope. Didn't stop at the navel. Just went alongside and kept going. And apparently one of the stitches at the navel hadn't held. There was a gap, straight on one side, curved on the other, nearly an inch long, not healed over and oozing. Nasty!

Time to call for basic how-do-I-treat-this? information. My own doctor's office wouldn't even address the issue. Talk to the surgeon. So I did, and got the questions to assess the opening over the phone. Obviously too late to re-stitch. The ultimate was if it isn't oozing, leave it open to the air to finish healing. If it is, put a plain dressing over it to keep stuff out until it stops, then leave it open. And yes, showering is still OK.

Good! We had large dressings, with adhesive I was not allergic to, and I could buy more after the allergy shots. There was a whole list of errands.

I woke to the alarm for the first time in nearly two weeks, took care of the dogs, got Daddy up, and grabbed my shower. I was already exhausted. After a small break, I collected what I needed, got Paul up to fix Daddy breakfast, and got in the car. Whew! A comfy seat! There just isn't one in the house that doesn't get me saddle-sore and squirming after all this much time sitting. The car is much better, but still not perfect, and after this much time out of it, was causing problems by the time I got home again. I felt just fine driving, although generally weak. Hit the drive through for a breakfast sandwich - been so long I forgot to have them not add cheese (blech!) - and ate on the way to the hospital where the allergy clinic is.

While it took actual effort on my part to walk all the way in, even stopping at the bathroom, I had no problems. Walking out was another matter. I had to stop and rest partway through the lobby, rest again once in the car. I did take one small detour - two feet, actually - on the way in to stop at their scale. It's official: I'm down a full 35 pounds now since April!!!! I'm not sure it shows: the belly feels as bloaty-big as it did before surgery. It's just not solid anymore.

Was I going to actually be able to go back to work on Monday?

Next stop was the pharmacy, so I asked the pharmacist what she'd recommend I do besides taking iron pills to speed my recovery after so much blood loss. I'm pinking up again, but still feeling weak. She recommended Gatorade. Really! Maybe I was also needing to replace electrolites, since I hadn't been eating or drinking much. So I added that to the cart, after spending over twenty minutes reading labels. Once back in the car, I downed a small bottle, and started perking up again. More errands to run, none of which required actually leaving the car, and I arrived home still feeling fairly perky. Of course, with my 10-lb. weight restrictions, I let Paul bring in the bags from the car. Perky though I was, I went in my room and took a nap.

Had another bottle in the afternoon, maintained my feeling of increased well-being, finished the book I was on and started the next on in the series, and still took an afternoon nap.

Am I really going to be able to go back to work Monday?

Saturday will be a real test. It's auction day, over in Anoka at their fairgrounds. Doug has promised me a platform to sit on, rather than rolling around the room with the merchandise, and a computer (vs. paper) auction. I'm sincerely hoping to give him a good performance through the whole thing. I figure get there early enough to grab a morning nap in the car, get help hauling my chair and scooter out and setting them up, take more Gatorade, and maybe nap again before driving home.

Now to figure out what food to take, and when to eat it. The blood sugar levels have been kind of wild since the surgery, partly from no eating and no exercise. This is a month I have to keep track religiously, with an appointment at the end of it to monitor how I've been doing. It'll be interesting.

But seriously: will I really be able to go back to work on Monday?

Saturday, August 6, 2011

This Choice?

In many ways this has been the vacation I think I want when I'm in the midst of just too too much. Lots of sleep, though the dreams are a bit weird, like the snake I forgot I had and needed to feed for years, so I needed to wake up and clean up and go to the pet store - if I still could find one - that carried frozen mice for it to eat.

Somebody to cook for me, bringing my meals exactly as ordered, though the orders are limited to what's still in the house and what won't bump up my blood sugar. It does get boring after a bit when I can't just stop for Hot Wings or a Wendy's apple pecan chicken salad or mongolian beef on my way home from wherever because I haven't been out to wherever. Then again, no appetite.

Lots of reading, though my tailbone gets tired from sitting in the same way in the chair after a bit and I fall asleep on the book anyway.

No expectations of my taking care of my dad - at least not this week yet- because he gets it when my answer to his inquiry of how I'm doing informs him I'm still healing but slowly.

But the view is monotonous, no mountains, lakes, ocean waves, and little of interest on the DVR. Then again, no ambition to actually go anywhere I'd have to want to stay awake for. Nobody get the idea that you should come rescue me by taking me out for a drive to somewhere else. Please.

The last of the percoset pills get taken tonight, and after this it's only ibuprofin. I expect I'll sleep less, move more, and engender a bit more of an appetite. Oh, and hurt more, but after a week, I'm doing fairly well. I'm maintaining the 10 lbs of weight loss from the morning I went in, though the belly is still tender and a bit puffy, and way too easily will flop from side to side. I can drive after two weeks, lift only 10 lbs. for the next 4-6 after that. I could have showered by now, but the dressing is itching like crazy, and I suspect drawing any attention to it will drive me insane enough to worry it right off, something that shouldn't happen until next Thursday. The stitches will all absorb, so none to remove. Best take no chances with exposing them early . I can't smell myself, so though I feel grungy, there's nothing driving me to take a shower. Nobody else has been rude enough to complain.

I go back to the surgeon for a chechup 3-4 weeks after surgery. I expect next week I'll be clearheaded enough to remember to make that call. I kinda remembered sometime after office hours on Friday. I've had Paul monitoring my percoset usage because I've been too muzzy to figure out how many hours since - say, when was the last one again?

For all the laziness I claim to want when I'm overloaded, this complete indolence would drive me nuts for a planned vacation. It you're too drugged to be bored, you're not bored. If you're not too drugged, then you are bored, and that's no vacation. So next vacation will be called a honeymoon, located in scattered places on the Arizona map, and will have enough activities built in that I can entertain myself by complaining about how little free time I have.

Sounds ideal. I'll bring the camera for it.

Thursday, August 4, 2011


Apparently, context is everything when one is picking out the most beautiful word(s) in a language.

The one thing that had me a little apprehensive about my surgery was waiting to hear what the test results were. I didn't have to wait. The first three words I heard as I was regaining consciousness were, in three different voices, "benign, benign", and "benign". As these voices were hovering near me, I figured they were referring to my surgery, and I didn't have to wait and worry. It was OK to wake up. I did, just long enough to moan, get a push-button placed into my hand, and heard another voice explain that all I had to do for the pain was push the button whenever I wanted.

It's pretty hard to OD on the stuff when the second push knocks you out. And I can't promise that it's not just a 10-second delay from the first push, that the 2nd one so soon doesn't count.

"The stuff" was dilaudid, the same painkiller we give my Dad in pill form at bedtime.

Everybody asks how long my surgery was. It was scheduled to start at 10 AM, but at 10:05 they were still working on finding a vein for the IV. Luckily for me, they tried using hot towels and finger slaps, not poke-by-trial-and-error like my most recent surgery, 22 years ago. Seven times! Seven times!!! Somebody's ego got in the way back then. I can't fault them for not finding a vein when first, I had one liquids-only day, then after 8 PM, no liquids, except for the two swallows it took to take my prescriptions, including a diuretic. Talk about a challenge! So, 10:05 was my start point, needle in and rolling down the hall, and 2:30 was when I started to wake.

They removed 6 lbs. (I asked them to weigh it and let me know. They weighed it regardless of whether I wanted to know.) I was told it was highly vascularized. In other words, it had a whole lot of blood vessels running through it, which also means it was not small and dense, but large and porous. Once the swelling goes down and the gas goes away, I'll have a nicely smaller tummy. Not tiny, just smaller. Highly vascularized also means I lost a lot of blood. I knew that the first time I looked at my hands. They were white, and since I was in the bathroom at the time, I checked out the face. It was too. I'm normally very ruddy-complected. I saw a "normal" face looking back at me. Weird! Anyway, my surgery usually costs 100 of whatever units they measure blood loss in. Mine they figured 1100. No wonder they were always asking if I felt dizzy.

No, I've been dizzy. This wasn't the same, but I did feel a little light-headed at times. and for the first several hours the dilaudid made the ceiling tiles roll, so I just closed my eyes and went back to sleep.

I got nothing but ice chips and a sponge that first day, although I was cheating and sipping the melt-water during the evening. Since nothing came back up, and nausea seemed to be their prime concern, I figured it wasn't going to be a problem. The nurses were all terrific, though the first night I'd forgotten where the nurse call was. They have these pictures on the side rails of the bed that work for back and knees up and down. They also show lights and the nurse call symbol, but they don't work from the bed sides. There was a thing on the end of a cord that worked for those, and by the time I finally got somebody's attention, I was pretty frustrated. They were busy settling in a couple other new patients, and didn't come in quite as often without my calling them. Once I figured that out, however, it was fine.

One of my big concerns was my blood sugar levels. It spiked a couple times, and they put me on insulin. Since I'd never been on that before, I was now concerned about how I'd react with that. Especially since it was night and I'd be getting fewer visits. When I was awake enough, I tested my own with my own kit. They took their own samples, so 6 times a day did seem reassuring. Their test might be ten minutes after mine, and it'd show a different result. I expected that. But their prick hurt a lot more than mine did, so for the final one before letting me out, I offered to do the stab myself and they could sample from the same blood spot. I was curious how well they two coordinated. Mine came up at 180, and theirs at 156! From the same drop of blood!

From the first I told everybody that I was leaving Tuesday by the end of the day. At first, only eyebrows were raised, until one of the nurses who was walking with me through the halls informed me that if I released myself without my doctor's approval, my insurance wouldn't cover any of the stay!

Well, then, I better hurry up and recover. Let's walk some more, shall we? The nice thing about my walking after surgery was that my knees didn't hurt a bit! Nada! Nothing! No twinge. Wow, musta been some good meds! Since the belly didn't either, I felt free to move a bit, when I wasn't asleep, which was still about 95% of the time. But I sat myself in the bed, "walked" my hipbones back into position so the bed bend and my back bend matched up, and no pain whatsoever. I even did a sit-up to pull the blanket up to cover my legs from the foot of the bed.

Frankly, I was amazed. The C-section hurt way more than this. So did having the gall-bladder out. Way more! This was a cake walk.

Food was a big disappointment. Breakfast was coffee, chicken broth and beef broth. (All three better at home.) With the nurse's help, I ordered Cheerios for my mid-morning snack. The kitchen wouldn't allow it otherwise. But we both reasoned that if I kept the broth down, I'd be on soft foods anyway, and after munching, Cheerios are mush by the time they reach the stomach.

Lunch was an omelet, with whatever I wanted in it. Only no onion, no mushroom, and no green pepper. Don't know why, something to do with my post-surgical diet. Supper was a cheeseburger, again no lettuce or tomato allowed. It's not that I had an appetite, or felt hungry, just deprived of flavor. And while they were very concerned about some things, including sodium, they sent along a little bowl with salt, pepper, cream and sugar - yes, sugar! - along with the food. One size fits all, send directly to patient, do not pass go, do not collect $200. I get to fill out a survey in a couple weeks about my stay. I'll be sure to mention it.

They switched me off the dilauded IV and over to Percoset with Tylenol the second morning to see how I tolerated it. It was two pills every three hours, and they were working fine. I finally convinced them to contact my surgeon at his office and get him over to check me out to see if I was indeed ready to go home. He popped in just before 5 PM, mentioning that the frozen section was also benign, and we were waiting on one more in a couple of days. I'd already ordered supper, had Paul on his way down, and was organizing my homecoming. Luckily the doc agreed. He did say, however, that the Percoset was slowing down my bowels, and I'd need to switch over to ibuprofin as quickly as possible. In aid of that, he sent me home with 20 pills, no refills. Fine, I was feeling great.

That lasted about halfway home. It turns out there are a whole lot of bumps in the road along that 45-mile stretch. By the time I got home, I was feeling every one of them. And that's with a pillow hugged between my tummy and the seat belt, taking most of the jostling.

I'm taking one pill now, every 3-4 hours apart, with Paul keeping track of them for me. While I'm on them, I don't do so well in that department. So he keeps track of how long since a pill, a meal, or whatever. And I'm mostly ensconced in my bedroom, either in bed or on the recliner loveseat for eating, reading, and some sleeping. I woke up an hour or so ago, and have been blogging. But now it's time for another pill and back to sleep. There's still lots of sleeping going on, and the pain isn't there until I move, mostly. But it's getting better.