From Hell to Health

Nothing helps to heal my body, mind, heart, and soul more than time with my husband and dogs, surrounded by all the creature comforts (and privacy) of home.

While I’m technically “out of the woods” I still have a lot of healing to do. I remain undernourished and exhausted and even the slightest exertion wears me out. Just puttering around the house (while I’m ecstatic to be doing it) leaves me winded.

As I have to return to work on Tuesday (probably sooner than ideal, but the world doesn’t stop just because I do) I have been erring on the side of caution, avoiding overdoing it, and finding sedimentary ways to entertain myself.

To that end, I’ve spent the better part of two days lounging on the couch with the dogs, updating my tech and sorting through my electronic files, from photos to artwork, music to documents. It’s been exciting “rediscovering” favorite songs, photos, and moments; it’s also been sad to be reminded of so many people that I “used to know.” Ex-friends I once cherished with every fiber of my being, now relegated to permanent stranger status for one reason or another. Ah, well, “Nicht weinen, weil sie vorüber!
Lächeln, weil sie gewesen!
” (Do not cry because they are past! Smile, because they once were!)

Mostly it’s been a fun stroll down memory lane. I got to indulge my (self diagnosed) mild OCD by organizing a mess of documents, while adhering to my current physical limitations and still feeling productive.

Finally, with a nod to dear Spo, the fall spirit hit tonight and we brought out a couple old friends to grace our front window, notifying the neighborhood that good spirits and happy haunting are welcome here:

Let the Halloween Hoopla begin!

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Canned-aversary: a gut wrenching story

Warning: This post will be boring , uncomfortable to read, or the definition of ‘TMI” (Too Much Information,) but it will be cathartic for me to get the experience down and out of my head.

2 weeks ago, we packed, loaded the car, and expected to head to Provincetown, MA with the dogs, where we would spend a week celebrating our 20th wedding Anniversary (October 2nd.) We had made reservations, for each night we were going to be there, at several of our favorite restaurants. I had secretly commissioned a local piano player to learn our song (“A Change in My Life” as performed by Rockapella) which he agreed to play as part of his song set at one of his piano nights. Jeffrey knew noting about it. There was going to be champagne at the ready.

Then life happened.

On Sunday October 29th,  I awoke with tale tale signs of an intestinal blockage. I had been having some minor gut issues the week before, but I thought they had resolved.

(Quick Aside: I have chronic Crohn’s /IBD, Gastroparesis, and my entire colon was removed in 2000, so I’ve been functioning with just a small intestine for 19 year. The disease is kept in check with Remicade infusions every 8 weeks, herbal supplements to aid in digestion, and maintaining diet tailored for easier digestion.)

I instantly went into reparation mode, because I did NOT want to have gut issues on vacation. I stopped all solid foods, sticking to bouillon, apple juice, hot tea and water as sustenance, rested as much as possible, and upped my herbal supplements geared towards healthier gut activity (and one or two other tricks I won’t share here due to the gross factor.)  Unfortunately, my condition worsened, and the pain and discomfort grew. Optimistically, we postponed our departure day, hoping for a recovery, but it never happened. 3 days into agonizing gut pain, laid out flat, unable to walk or barely sit up, we threw in the towel and cancelled all of our reservations. Jeffrey unpacked the car as I writhed in pain and frustration for the remainder of the week. I had a Remicade infusion scheduled for the Monday after we were to return from our trip, so I figured I could hold out until then, when I’d be seeing my Remicade nurses and hopefully my gastroenterologist.

Big Mistake.

The Monday morning of my Remicade infusion, I crawled out of bed and endured searing pain as I showered, hunched over, in too much pain to stand up straight. By the end of my shower, I was even more exhausted and the pain had increased. I collapsed onto the bed just in time to launch into a fit of dry heaves, causing my abdomen to spasm in mind numbing waves of pain and tightness. It literally felt like my guts were abut to explode and spill out. In a panic, I screamed out to Jeffrey to call 911, something I had never done before in my life. By the time the EMT and Ambulance arrived, the worst of the gut spasms had subsided, but I was terrified to move. After a vitals check and brief discussion with the EMTs, I decided to take my first-ever ambulance ride to the hospital. While I was probably feeling well enough at the moment to ride to the hospital with Jeffrey, I chose the Ambulance for 2 reasons: (1) I was afraid I’d have another attack on the way to the hospital and (2) I figured going by Ambulance would get me seen by a doctor sooner than waiting in the emergency room for my turn to be seen. (I couldn’t have sat up for any length of time without being in massive pain, and I am not a fan of moaning and screaming in public.)

Once I was out of the ambulance and in a temporary ER room, per protocol, (not my first time at the intestinal blockage rodeo, y’all…I knew the routine) the doctor ordered an IV be placed so they could administer morphine to ease the pain. Unfortunately, I’m a hard stick under normal circumstances, having tiny veins, and I was dehydrated from a week of this gut attack under my belt, so getting an IV in me, or even a needle to draw blood, took 4 different people and no less than 9 attempts. All the time, I’m in pain waiting for my abdomen to explode.  By the time they got the IV in me and the morphine flowing, I was fighting dark thoughts that I’d rather die then experience another moment of this pain. As the morphine flowed through my veins and the waves of pain subsided for the first time in a week, the medical staff filed out of the small ER room and, with a gentle compassionate squeeze of my hand by one of the nurses as she left, a silent moment of reassurance and sympathy shared just between us, the tears of relief, fear, and realization that I had survived this experience, began to flow uncontrollably.  As always, Jeffrey was there by my side, a bastion of strength and support, holding my hand, and letting me feel what I needed to feel, no doubt suffering in his own way, watching me go through all this, feeling just as helpless as I did.

I was sent for a CT scan, then waited in the small dark ER room until a proper hospital room was eventually freed up. Once admitted, I was hooked up on IV fluids and morphine, placed under strict orders of NPO (a Latin phrase that translates literally to English as “nothing through the mouth” – so no food or beverages of any kind) and that’s when the flow of doctors and nurses began. Over the course of the next two days, it was discovered the blockage was caused by a twist in my small intestines (as opposed to adhesions or impacted food matter), that I had a Kidney stone that was blocking liquid passage from my kidney into my ureter tube causing inflammation, 2 different bacteria in my blood, and a small cyst on my back that was infected. My body was basically in crisis mode, under attack from 3 fronts: my back, my kidneys and my intestines. To make matters worse, my gout chose this occasion to flare up in both feet, making it agony to put any weight on my feet. Throughout the remainder of the week, I was pumped full of antibiotics, administered Prednisone, given Morphine injections around the clock, and wheeled to the OR and placed under sedation on two different occasions:  once to place a stent in my ureter to prevent the kidney stone from blocking the flow;  and once to have the cyst removed from my back.

Once these two conditions were neutralized, my intestines followed suit, and I began to recover, slowly. By this past Friday, all the telltale signs were there that the twist had resolved itself.  I had been pain free for 24 hours, without the aid of Morphine; successfully eaten my first solid food with no repercussions (scrambled eggs); everything seemed to be functioning normally again; the gout went dormant so I could walk, pain free, again; my vitals were good; blood work was clean; and I was feeling well enough to return home, which I did Friday afternoon, full of relief, gratefulness, and joy that the I had survived yet another episode, avoiding intestinal surgery and stalling the eventual endgame, when my intestines finally shut down and I will have to have surgery to have a permanent ostomy placed.  (I know this is inevitable, but I am trying to stall for as long as possible, and hopefully at least another 6.5 years, at which time  I can retire.)

I had my first full night’s sleep last night in over 2 weeks, husband and dogs snuggled close to me, and awoke happy to be in my own home again, with my family, free from needles, IVs and Hospital Staff taking vitals and, most importantly, pain. I am processing a lot of emotions and it will take me a couple weeks to re-nourish my body, regain the strength and stamina to do more than transition from room to room around the house, and for the echoes of abdomen pain and soreness to fully disappear. Also, I have to push through the fear of putting food into my body again, ever vigilant for the slightest quiver, spasm, or tightness that might indicate I am not as far out of the woods as we are all hoping.  I will also have to follow-up with my urological surgeon to have my kidney stones removed, once I am well enough to undergo the procedure, as well as get a make-up remicade infusion asap.

It has been a daunting, taxing, painful, and terrifying two weeks, but I am trying hard to focus ahead on healing and feeling better, and getting back to what passes as a normal life for me.

Thanks for letting me share.

Stay healthy.

P.S. Thanks to the always thoughtful AM of From My Brain to My Mouth for our Anniversary card! It was a bright spot in our otherwise dismal non-celebration.

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National Coming Out Day

October 11th is National Coming Out Day!

In his final words before being assassinated, Harvey Milk recorded the following sentiment:

“If a bullet should enter my brain, let that bullet destroy every closet door.”

Whether you’re LGBTQ+ identified, an ally, or the family, friend, neighbor or co-worker of someone who is, your Voice and your Visibility changes minds, changes hearts, changes lives, and changes the world.

Closets are for pantsuits, not people.

See you on the other side of that door, when you’re ready.

(And thank you for all those who know this already and live their lives openly as, and/or are openly supportive of, the LGBTQ+ Community.)

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A Hero’s Tale

In 1983, I had my character, “The Shifter,” printed in the back-up feature “Dial H For Hero” in “New Adventures of Superboy” #48, a comic book printed by DC Comics.

For some reason, I never got any notification that it was being used, and worse yet, I never got the T-Shirt or pin you were supposed to get if DC used your character. I just happened across the image of my character when I was reading the comic in my bedroom one day. While I was incredibly excited to see my character in the comic, I was crushed that I never got my shirt or pin.

I’ve searched for an image of the T-shirt on line for years and finally found it about a year ago. My friend, Mike, is a graphic designer, and replicated the image for me. He also did an alternate version of it using my nickname, “Sassy.”

I finally ordered shirts with these logos about a month ago, and they arrived today.

They look fantastic.

It only took 36 years, but I finally got my “I Dialed H For Hero” shirt.

Woohoo!

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Hi, Maintenance!

This has been my view since 7:00am this morning:

IMG_5581.jpeg

It is now almost 9:00am.  I came here today for an oil change and 70K mile maintenance check on my Subaru Forrester, since we are planning on taking it to the Cape next week. For the past couple of days, I’ve also been hearing light squeaking when I drive in reverse down the driveway. Since I was leaving work early today anyway, to bring Rita Mae to the vet’s for her rabies shot, I decided to take the whole day off  and get my oil change done in the AM, too.

I hate “car stuff” and usually leave it to Jeffrey to handle any kind of service on them. I’m incredibly uncomfortable in garage settings, knowing nothing about cars, even my own, and am like a deer in headlights when they start spouting off that my frammerjammer needs a tune up or my sproingkladdle is going to fall off.  But I’m trying to be a big boy and handle more of this stuff on my own, so I brought the car in this morning for what I was hoping was a 45 minute visit.

No such luck.  My back brake pads have worn thin and need to be replaced, as well as 4 or 5 other items that need attending to, although not immediately critical. I was originally going to extend my stay by an hour to get just the brake pads replaced, but decided it made more sense, since I have the day off and I’m already here, to just get it all done now, instead of having to come back. Needless to say, I’m going to be here an extra 2 hours and my bill just increased a hundredfold.

No good deed goes unpunished.

The only real silver lining, aside from having my car in good shape for the 4.5 hour road trip to and from Ptown next week, is that I turned my 4 day work week into a 3 day work week. (Friday is a Pass Day – I’m getting my Remicade infusion and hopefully discussing my coughing/acid reflux/possible hernia or GERD with my GI.) With few exceptions, I’d rather be almost anywhere but work.

Here’s hoping they don’t discover I have a broken chumflorg while they’re replacing my brake pads and tuning up my wiggledimp.

 

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Weight! Weight! Don’t tell me!

So, here’s the status of my weight loss:

I’m 6 weeks in, and this is what my weight tracking app reflected when I entered today’s weight:

I’m well above target for 1 lb a week. I’m very glad, but I know I have a long way to go (36.6 lbs) but I’m determined to get there, no matter how long it takes.

I’ll have to be careful when we go to Provincetown next week, but I have to learn to make good choices no matter where I am, or what time of year it is. Plus, we’ll get a lot of extra walking in with the dogs, which should help offset, at least a little, any extra calories we consume celebrating our Anniversary.

But maybe I should get my jaw wired for the week, just in case.

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Sunday Sundries 3

It was (mostly) a lame week.

Monday I met with my pulmonologist who scheduled me for an esophogram.

Tuesday, I visited my Mom after work to discuss her status – She’s moving towards greater independence every day and will begin therapy to strengthen her leg and new hip so she can walk without a walker.

Wednesday was Jeffrey’s birthday and the one exception to the lame week. I think he had a good day.

Thursday I had my esophogram.

Friday was the end of the week, which is what made it good. I also got the results back from my esophogram: my pulmonologist has determined my coughing is probably caused by acid reflux, instigated by a hiatal hernia, so I’ve been referred back to my GI for further consult and testing. (Yay!)

This weekend:

I finally taught myself to cast on and was able to start my own knitting project (without help) for the first time:

It only took two years, but I’m finally getting it!

We hit a couple flea markets and antique shows this weekend just for something to do, to get us out of the house. No purchases, but the plethora of eye candy was well worth the fees to park.

We also looked at carpets, as we were considering replacing the one in our living room. Although we opted not to get a new one at this time, this would have been the winner, for obvious reasons:

That’s all the Sassybear news that’s fit to print.

In an effort to fight the Sunday night, pre-Monday blues, I share this uplifting story about a deaf man who adopts a deaf dog (you’re welcome for the warm feels.)

Have a great week, everybody!

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Knit picking

After several years and several failed attempts at learning to knit (I had great teachers – I am just a very bad student) I decided it was time to get serious or get over it.

I spent the day watching “how to” videos and tutorials, and I am pleased to say the project above is my first ever successful solo project start – I cast on (learning a new method I absolutely love) and knitted on my own without any guidance from a live person sitting next to me. I decided to use a large yarn gage and large pair of knitting needles to practice, and it really helped. I’m going to finish out this scarf, then try to knit a hat on my own, using a pattern (and guidance, as needed.)

I’m very excited about this. I really think I’m starting to finally get it. I’m also going to be more active on Ravelry, and I joined a couple knitting/crocheting groups on Facebook.

Wish me luck…I’m going to need it.

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Deep Throat

In an ongoing effort to discover the cause of this chronic dry cough I’ve had for over 6 months, I am going for an esophogram this morning, which includes a barium swallow.

What about me made my pulmonologist assume I like to swallow?

*Smirk*

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Better half Birthday!

Today is my husband’s 52nd Birthday.

Jeffrey has simple tastes. He doesn’t like big celebrations, parties, or plans. He prefers simple, relaxing birthdays. So we both took the day off, and I got up early to decorate, put his presents out, and make a ham, cheese, bacon and egg casserole for breakfast.

After breakfast, he opened his gifts, and then we headed out for a little birthday shopping; and by little, I mean one shirt and tie – this guy lacks the materialism gene almost entirely. We stopped on the way home and got him a cheeseburger sub for lunch. (We suspended his carb-free diet for the day so he could enjoy a few birthday treats.)

Now we’re home watching the first DVD of “Northern Exposure” (I got him the whole series on DVD because it’s not available on streaming anywhere.)

Tonight, we’ll go to dinner at one of his favorite restaurants.

It’s a simple day for a simple man, but I hope I’ve made it as special for him as he always makes me feel ever day.

Happy birthday, Jeffrey! Thanks for being a great husband, life partner, and friend!

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