Friday, September 26, 2014

Friday Earworm

I have entered the post-operative stage called "permanent nausea." Doctor says it'll get better...eventually. I should "eat smaller meals," although I don't know how much smaller than "one freezer pop three times a day" I'm going to get. Blargh.  Don't get me wrong, I'm tremendously grateful for how well things are going, but still.... 

Before I go barf again, here's the latest song playing constantly in my head. Heard it first on the local college station, and now it's all over in that Levi's ad.  Catchy.



Wednesday, September 24, 2014

The Rumors of My Death Have Been Greatly Exaggerated (Part Deux)

(When last we left our plucky heroine -- Part I -- she was busy being slapped and wanting to pee, and terribly disappointed at the lack of a Machine That Goes PING. )

As the afternoon wore on, I spent the time mumbling and pushing The Button. They hooked some more things to me -- enough electrode adhesives that I resembled a hyperactive 3-year-old's sticker booklet, a telemetry machine that apparently did something, but did not go PING. Eventually I was introduced to Dr. Napier, who would be my on-call physician overnight. (Of course the first thing I asked Dr. Napier was if he was related to Charles Napier. He looked at me quizzically. "The Blues Brothers?" I said. "Bob's Country Bunker?" Nothing. I gave up.)

If you looked up "tall, dark, and handsome" in a dictionary, there would be a picture of Dr. Napier. He was like a cross between the George Clooney and Johnny Depp of on-call physicians. I imagine that Dr. Napier is tremendously popular with all the nurses and patients, even the semi-conscious ones. Hell, maybe even the unconscious ones. When I talked to one of the nurses about something Dr. Napier had said, she replied, "Oh, yes, Dr. Napier, he's really...nice." Emphasizing "nice" in that way that made it clear that Dr. Napier would be even nicer if he'd take his shirt off. But I digress. He seemed very knowledgeable and competent and sharp, which is the important thing. Mostly.

Dr. Napier took a look at the Foley catheter receptacle and said, "This concerns me." It seems the bag was still mostly empty. If he was concerned, I was concerned. If he had told me they were going to sell me off for medical experimentation, I would have said, "Sure, whatever you want." He then listed a number of steps they would take to address his concerns, something about a bolus of fluids, lasix, and an abdominal CT. He said this all very calmly. They hooked me up to a machine that takes your blood pressure every 10 minutes. After a couple of cycles, he looked even more concerned. "Let's get that CT scan," he said.

They weren't about to have me try to stand up again after the last fiasco, so in some manner involving a sheet they transferred me to a gurney. I don't remember much of that, except the disconcerting feeling that if they weren't careful my abdomen was going to burst open like a pinata and it wouldn't be candy that would come spilling out. We went through a series of doors and elevators and hallways while the theme music from "Get Smart" played in my head. They has sent me with the assistant-assistant nurse, probably so that if anything happened to me on the way, they would have plausible deniability. Finally we ended up at the CT scanner place, which seemed to be somewhere in the bowels of the hospital. It was dark and quiet and soothing, and the scanner was manned by three very pleasant young men in scrubs.

They transferred me to the Scanner Gurney (or whatever it's called) and ran me through a couple times, telling me to put my arms up over my head and hold my breath. When they seemed satisfied, they stopped. One of the scanner guys asked me to sit up. I said, "I don't think that's a good idea." He said it would only be for a minute.  What could it hurt?

I was right, and it was a very bad idea. As soon as I was upright, I felt an intense wave of nausea. I barely had time to register the thought that, "Boy, am I nauseated," before I projectile vomited all over the CT scanner and the pleasant young man standing next to it. And when I say "projectile vomited," I mean Saturday-Night-Live-Will-Ferrell-Parody projectile vomiting. I mean Linda-Blair-Exorcist projectile vomiting. I mean six-foot-distance-several-quarts-of-fluorescent-yellow-goo projectile vomiting. 

There was a slight pause. Then I vomited again. And again. Everyone was rushing around trying to find something for me to vomit in. First try was a partial cardboard box, which proved inadequate. Then there was something like a plastic sleeve, which proved even less adequate than the cardboard box. Finally somebody emptied some kind of a container full of something that made a clattering noise when it hit the floor. I hope it wasn't expensive. Eventually I stopped vomiting. I apologized profusely to the pleasant young man now covered in fluorescent yellow goo. He said, "Don't worry, it's not the worst thing that's happened to me," but he sounded like he was lying. 

Next thing I remember, I'm back up in my room, and Dr. Napier is still looking concerned. He's also looking very disapprovingly at the numbers on the blood pressure machine. I eventually learned that was because numbers that low are considered "incompatible with life." Yikes. Turns out the CT scan had showed I had a large hematoma in my abdomen that had collapsed my bladder, and that event had followed backward up the chain of command until it was throwing my whole system off. Add to that the fact that I was very probably overly dehydrated when I went into surgery (thanks to the bowel prep stuff I drank on Sunday), and the fact that I had spent 20 minutes vomiting on everything, and it was a perfect storm, but not the kind where William Fitchner has the Southie accent.

For a while, it was just fluids, blood pressure readouts where they called out numbers like a really boring game of bingo, a parade of phlebotomists tasked to draw blood every hour, and lots of people looking very concerned. At least until the spiders.....

(This is turning out much longer than I had anticipated. I blame Stephen King. To be continued....)

Tuesday, September 23, 2014

The Rumors of My Death Have Been Greatly Exaggerated (Part I)

This should be the penultimate of the giant tumor updates, in which I detail the removal of the giant tumor and all that came after it. It's funny now, mainly because I didn't die. What I don't specifically remember, I'm filling in with things other observers have told me.  Think of it as a shoddily made documentary related by numerous unreliable narrators.....

On the morning of the 15th, I went to the hospital, arriving promptly at about 5:30 AM for a scheduled surgery at 7:00. I changed into a gown and handed over my clothes to the SO to be kept in a plastic bag until such time as I might need them again. It was pretty boring for a while, interspersed with some drawing of labs, placing of IVs, etcetera, and a final pass by my doctor, who explained I would not be receiving the robot surgery (BOO!), but would have a full laparotomy because she doubted she'd be able to actually remove the tumor unless I had a HUGE incision. I reluctantly agreed. Then the nurse asked me to hand over my glasses to the SO for safekeeping, and explained she was going to give me a little Versed to relax me. That's the last thing I remember, although I'm told I did say, "I feel a little woozy...."

Flash forward some hours later -- I'm not sure how many hours, because a lot of Monday is just strobe-lit images and vague sensations, and not a lot was really clear until much later in the day. I'm told I said a lot of nonsensical things, to which I replied, "And how would that be different than any other day?"

Anyway, at some point I woke up in the room. My mom and oldest son were there, along with a nurse and assistant nurse. (Apparently you get a doctor, a nurse, an assistant nurse and an assistant-assistant nurse assigned to you, which makes you feel special and important until you realize that all of these people will be constantly poking you with various sharp and dull implements for as long as you're there.) It was probably sometime in the early afternoon. I was hooked up to all manner of machines and tubes: oxygen, blood pressure, pulse ox, fluids, pain killer drip, foley catheter. It had taken me longer than anticipated to come out of anesthesia, so there was mild concern and I was being carefully monitored. I asked questions about how the surgery had gone, and then asked those same questions several times more because I immediately forgot what the answers were. Apparently my doctor was "positive" and "upbeat" and "90% sure" that the surgery would take care of the cancer. They had removed cervix/uterus/ovaries/fallopian tubes and, as a special bonus, my appendix. Apparently with this kind of cancer, the appendix acts as some kind sleeper agent, waiting until you're not paying attention and then going all crazy like a mole in an old episode of "24," so it's best to dispense with it early.

So the surgery was deemed a great success and the hard part was over, now all I had to do was rest, and I might even get released late the next day or early on Wednesday if I could jump through all the pre-release hoops that are set up. You have to perform a number of tricks before they'll let you go, to make sure you're not going to expire in the parking lot and make them look bad. Easy-peasy. I was encouraged to push my painkiller button as often as I wanted to, which I certainly intended to do.

At some point my daughter arrived, and everybody just camped out waiting for me to do something unintentionally hilarious or embarrassing that they could mock me with later. Be careful what you wish for.

I was pretty doped up, but I had this terrible sensation of needing to pee. Most of you, especially women who have been pregnant, will understand the extremely uncomfortable, overwhelming desire to empty your bladder. If you are forced to wait, it becomes incredibley painful and nearly unbearable. I didn't want to be a problem, but I finally told the nurse that she needed to do something. She told me not to worry, that sensation was just a sensation, and that there was no way my bladder would become distended because the Foley catheter would take care of that. I heard what she was saying, but the agony in my lower pelvis was not buying it. I became a little agitated.  Time went by and I became more agitated. It was getting no better.

Finally someone looked at the collection bag for the Foley catheter. (I'm assuming nobody had looked at it before.)  It was distinctly lacking urine. "Well," the nurse said, in that way that indicates the words following "well" are not going to be good. I'm a little fuzzy on the exact next chain of events, but it involved clearing the room and calling in additional personnel and at my best count, four different people tried 3 different catheters. (I think this has something to do with the lemon-sized dark-purple bruise somewhere very uncomfortable). Whatever occurred, it did not produce a satisfactory result for anyone. I believe I am partially to blame for what happened next, because by that point I was in considerable pain AND was "hopped up on goofballs," as they used to say in the 1950s teen crime dramas, and I may have overtly threatened someone that if I wasn't allowed to pee RIGHT NOW bloodshed would ensue.

So, against their better judgement and probably out of extreme frustration that my bladder seemed to have adopted a "no catheter" policy, the nurses agreed to help me to the bathroom so that I could actually pee like a normal person. Sitting up in the bed went well, and I think I managed to take an actual step before I uttered the famous last words I had uttered once already that morning: "I feel a little woozy...." That's the last thing I remember until I woke up to this:




There were literally doctors and nurses standing on the furniture and spilling out the doorway. Various health care personnel kept slapping me and asking if I was awake. I was very annoyed that so many people kept slapping me and asking me stupid questions. Really, like six different people slapped me, as if I'd opened up a slapping booth at a local fair and was having a two-for-one happy hour -- a slappy hour, if you will.  Various crowd estimates have come in so that as best I can figure there were between 15-22 hospital employees shoved into my room in the space of a few minutes.   Unbeknownst to me, at the exact moment they had called the rapid response code on me, my SO and the two smaller children had just stepped off the elevator to visit.  This apparently led to some consternation, especially on the part of the 9-year-old, who burst into tears, causing his sister to burst into tears. Or so I'm told. I was busy being slapped. At one point I distinctly remember requesting "The machine that goes PING," and being upset that no one laughed. At that point I was only talking in movie quotes, which may have made them worry I was not getting enough oxygen. Other than that, I was semi-conscious, which is probably good because at some point someone put in another Foley catheter, and I'm sure there was a sternly-worded admonition not to get up to any further shenanigans. Time passed, slapping me lost its novelty, and most everyone shuffled out to find entertainment elsewhere. Which is a shame, because that was only the opening act.....

(To Be Continued, because I can only sit in the desk chair for so long before I need a pill to combat the numerous throbbing bruises....)

Thursday, September 11, 2014

Friday Earworm -- Just a Tad Early

Been working like a dog. Well, not my dogs. They mostly lay on the bed, unless the ice maker goes off, and then they run to defend me, barking furiously.

Here's the earworm around our house right now, and the song we sing really loudly in the car. (Well, when I get the boys to stop singing Billy Joel -- today it was "Moving Out.")

Meghan Trainor is pretty adorable. Dare you not to dance.


Tuesday, September 9, 2014

Seriously?

Pre-op check-in went fine. I guess. My EKG was good, and they took more blood, nose swabs, and a chest x-ray. They have a nifty red binder all about me, so hopefully I won't wake up missing a kidney instead a large, creepy mass. I will say that every healthcare professional I have dealt with since I first went to a GP to treat my depression about five weeks ago (and this whole merry-go-round started) has been really good.

Various people spent various length of time telling me various things, like I can't take a bath after Friday -- showers only. Chicken noodle soup is NOT the same thing as clear broth. They were going to try to make me drink apple juice, but relented when I insisted on cranberry.  Blah, blah, blah. Paperwork.

Finally after about 3 hours of being shuffled from one cube to another, I was released, and got on the highway to come back to town.

Anybody who wants to guess what happened next may form a polite line and raise their hand.

The clutch on the Vibe started to slip. Not on every gear, just third and fifth. And not all the time. It only did it every time I decided it wasn't going to do it again and was just an aberration. (If you would care to read more of my adventures with the Vibe, see this post  --

http://spectralobelisk.blogspot.com/2011/01/bad-vibrations.html#links
Some have said it's one of my finest rants.)

I was near a panic attack when I pulled into the Sonic to get a drink. I might have freaked the girl who bought the tray out just a little, because by the time the order was up, I was really crying.

Because, seriously, that's exactly what I need at this exact moment. I really, really need the car to break down, necessitating a costly repair that I REALLY can't afford since A) I just had to find a small fortune to pay my medical bills, and B)  I'm supposed to be taking a week or two off work after surgery.  (And the bad thing about being your own boss is that there is no one to pay you when you don't work....)

So, seriously, whoever is in charge of handing out catastrophes, FUCK YOU.  I'm going to find where you live, and when I do, I will not be playing anymore.  I. WILL. NOT. BE. PLAYING.

I'm calmer now, and I suppose I will deal with this when I have to, just like I've dealt with all the other bullshit that has been shoveled my way this summer.  Because I'm not stopping now. Nope. Although I don't promise I won't come out of surgery, put on a serape and start roaming the countryside seeking vengeance like The Man With No Name. Or put on a track suit and some Tiger tennies, and grab a samurai sword.  No, I don't promise that at all.

And with those pleasant thoughts, I will leave you with a one of my favorite movie clips of all time. (Coincidentally from the director who brought you the awesome Guardians of the Galaxy). As it usually does, this pretty much sums up my innermost thoughts and feelings. Enjoy.




Monday, September 8, 2014

I Wanna Get Better

It's been a rough couple of weeks. There has been some good news, some bad news, and some things that are unclassifiable because they're just so far outside of what you expect to happen that there is really no way to handle them or even fully process them.

Tomorrow I go for my pre-op check-in. I've been informed of the costs I will incur to have the cancer cut out of me, and I've found a way to pay for it. I have some trepidation about the surgery, because I don't know exactly what they're going to do or exactly what they're going to find. It could be great news and it could be dire news. But I am eager to have it over with. By noon on Monday, I expect to know my final prognosis.

I did not think a few months ago that at this point of my existence I would be at a terrifying, life-altering crossroads, and that I would be standing at the crossroads alone. And I know I'm not totally alone. I have my mom, my brother and sister-in-law, my kids, my friends -- both my RL friends and my on-line friends, clients, and fellow writers. And I am grateful beyond words to all the people who have been so wonderful and supportive during the darkest period of my life. Still, inside my heart, I am alone.

I understand now what has happened, and have a name for the thing. That gives me a certain power, because the naming of things is powerful. It has allowed me to let go of the concepts of blame and regret, because those are useless and only cause more harm in a situation that has harmed everyone enough.  I know now that what happened had nothing to do with me, and there is nothing I could have done to prevent it. There is nothing I can do now to change it, although I'm told that it changes on its own, given time. But the important thing is that I can't count on the change or when it will come, I can only get on with my life.  I know that the reason there is such hatred for me at the moment is because there was such love for me for so long and I am so fortunate to have had that, because love like that is not guaranteed to anyone. Even knowing what I know now, I would not change one moment of the joy and love I have known.  I know that the worst aspects of the situation will burn themselves out, sooner or later, because that's the only future of things born of bitterness, fear, confusion, and sorrow. There is an abstract comfort in knowing how the most troublesome aspects will end, but sometimes abstract comfort is no comfort at all.

I have found some peace with what has happened. But it is a delicate and uneasy peace, and sometimes it seems to dearly cost me. Sometimes it is so damn hard.

One of my favorite bits of poetry is an American proverb:

For every evil under the sun,
There is a cure or there is none.
If there is one, then find it.
If there is none, then never mind it.

I would give almost anything I have or will have to have the person I love most in this world return for just one day, the one day that seems the fulcrum on which my past and future balance. I feel I am owed that by fate, but some debts are never paid, and we grow old and bitter waiting for recompense.

Still, my love is bruised, but undiminished. I will lock it away and keep it safe, in case it's ever needed again. I will be faithful. I will be forgiving. I will try and repair the things in me that need repairing, and hope that the rest takes care of itself. I will try and be generous in thought and deed, and charitable to those who need care. If the phone rings in the middle of the night, I will pick it up and I will listen. I will stumble and I will fall short, but I will be strong and true, and never give up.

I am leaving my bitterness behind me. I will find the cure for the things I can cure, and never mind the things I can't. I will tell myself this when I am alone in the dark, or when I feel a cresting wave of despair or anger. I will tell myself this when I am faced with the memory of what is lost, and the fear the future holds. I will tell myself this when I am in a situation where grace is the only thing that will serve me. I will tell myself this when the people who would harm me seem so callous or careless that I feel I will break into pieces. I will tell myself this when I do what I know is right, regardless of what it costs me.

I will tell myself this until I believe it.



Friday, September 5, 2014

Random Thoughts 9.5.14

(Disclaimer -- these random thoughts are all my own. Therefore they may occasionally be totally nonsensical. But I swear there are no secret codes contained in anything that could conceivably fuel any conspiracy theories. They should not be taken out of context, despite the fact there is no context. And I do not know the Yellow King and have never been to Carcosa. You may proceed.) 

I forgot how good listening to Al Green makes you feel.

Binge watching FX's Fargo this week. It's awesomely bizarre and darkly hilarious. Not least because there are several characters named Knutson. How about some hot dish, eh?

I've been watching videos of robotic abdominal surgery, since that might be what I'm getting next week. This is both awesome and a little scary, because the robot looks like a giant gleaming spider covered in plastic. I imagine somewhere in my brain that image is being filed away to be produced in some far less appealing context in the middle of the night.

If I could teach the cats to answer my emails, I would be roughly 150% more productive. 

Although it is annoying, it's also funny when someone parses my every utterance to see if I've said something to upset them. Of course, even if I didn't, they'd make something up. But, still, the power of words, baby! Apparently I have the most awesomely terrifying intellect in the country.  I wish that paid better.

Kids told me last night that Orlando Bloom punched Justin Bieber. I'd buy that for a dollar.

Do the people on Facebook know that if they comment on somebody else's post that it will show up on the timeline of anyone they're friends with, even if the original poster is not friends with them? I don't think everyone does. Or else the world would be a much less interesting place....

Speaking of Facebook, you know how they have Throwback Thursday? I think they should institute Fuck You Friday, where you're allowed to grouse about anyone who is currently pissing you off. And then they can't get mad at you, because it's, like, a meme.

(Warning -- The Bridge spoilers ahead. Skip to the next paragraph if you did not watch this week's episode) Watched The Bridge this week (did I mention how much I love that show?) I was tremendously upset that Fausto Galvan's men shot both Cesar and Hank, although apparently neither Cesar or Hank is dead yet. DO NOT KILL CESAR OR HANK. Also, too, despite the fact that Marco saved her at the last minute from either being shot by a contract killer, bitten by a rattlesnake, or dying of heat prostration (depending on which came first) Sonja is still disappointed in Marco. Because Sonja is disappointed by everything and everyone. Soon Sonja will run out of people on the show to be disappointed in and will break the fourth wall and be disappointed in random viewers. Mark my words, it's coming.

Three (three!) days without a panic attack. I'm thinking about making a workplace-injury type of sign to post by my desk.

The new trailer for Sons of Anarchy is insane. And adds to my belief that everyone on the show will be dead by around episode seven and the remaining episodes will just be a live cam of Kurt Sutter snoozing in a hammock or sipping a drink with a little umbrella in it. 

 It is very annoying that, due to the fact that I live in an Internet black hole, I can't play a YouTube video and attach a file to email at the same time.  The wonders of technology (she said sarcastically).

Maybe I should add (she said sarcastically) to everything I say.

Certain things are not a good look on certain people. Said people rarely recognize this, and hence are unaware of the people either quietly laughing or sadly shaking their heads behind certain people's backs. But pretty soon everyone is thinking the same thing, and they tell you they're thinking the same thing, because it's too much not to share,  and then it stops being pathetic and starts being really funny.

Kids believe that I have bought so much almost-expired meat from the Piggly-Wiggly bargain bin that we are all now immune to any zombie virus that might pop up.
 
I feel a little guilty, but, yes, it is satisfying when you find incontrovertible proof that someone is as dumb as you thought they were. 

Nicky's joke from last night: "You know if you go to jail in Canada, they only feed you maple syrup. No waffles." Of course it was much more adorable and hilarious if you saw him say it.

While I would not recommend my weight loss regimen of stunning heartbreak and cancer diagnosis, I have lost 40 pounds in two months and this morning drove the kids to school wearing my next, next smallest pair of jeans. At this rate, by Halloween I'll weigh less than when I started high school. Oh, and I have a great idea for a costume, but don't know if I have the guts to do it. But it would be hilarious.

I imagine all my random thoughts are being said in a Jack Handy voice.

I think I may be entering a manic phase of manic depression. I don't know if this is a good thing or a bad thing. Or perhaps the result of the anti-depressants I'm taking interacting with the almost-expired meat I've been eating. Maybe soon I will exhibit another superpower besides sarcasm. 

There is a great relief in knowing that a wide sampling of people you talk to share your opinion about something contentious. It makes you feel like you're not crazy or unreasonable, even when that accusation has been thrown around.  Repeatedly.

I still do not know who all the Russian visitors to my blog are. If you are a Russian visitor to my blog, please leave a comment. Although you probably shouldn't leave it in Russian, because I can't read Russian. (Or as Yakov Smirnoff would say, "In Russia, comment leaves you!)  Seriously, despite the whole Putin thing, I love Russians. So, say hi or something.

Cankles will never go away, no matter how much you exercise. Luckily I was genetically blessed with the feet and ankles of a foot model. So I have that going for me.

Okay, I have run out of things to say. Until I post this. Then I will immediately think of something else.