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gallbladder surgery, gallbladder attack, gallbladder, belly button, gallstones, how it feels to have gallbladder removal surgery, gallbladder removal

Ever wonder how it feels to have gallbladder removal surgery? Remember the night when macaroni and cheese almost killed me?  Well, this past Wednesday, I went to the surgeon and had gallbladder removal surgery. I thought, hallelujah, I will finally be out of pain. But maybe I was just naïve and had no idea what I was getting myself into.

We arrived at the hospital at 9 a.m. and I was scheduled for surgery at 10:30 a.m. Yes, I told them I needed an early appointment because I get hangry. They happily obliged. In fact, once I arrived, they took me straight back and prepped me for surgery. I was pretty excited to not feel like I was dying.

Not going to lie, I was a little terrified about gallbladder removal surgery.

But a few weird things happened 1) my great aunt who is almost 90 called me the night before practically in tears to tell me she was praying for me. This is the same woman who is just patiently waiting for her own heart to give out. 2) My neighbor, who is in her 60’s and falling apart before our very eyes asked, “Aren’t you nervous?” (Well, I wasn’t until she asked me.) 3) The Silkwood baths that I was demanded to take the night before and the morning of my surgery. I felt uncertain. I got spooked about the gallbladder removal surgery that I was honestly, looking forward to having.

As soon as I got into my gown, my surgeon and anesthesiologist showed up. They were ready early. Everything got fast-tracked. Cool, I thought, maybe I could be home by lunch. No such luck.

We went back to surgery and, for the first time ever, I went unconscious from the IV pain meds before they even got the chance to tell me to count backward from 10. When I woke up in recovery, I was in lots of pain, completely groggy and somehow had lost 3 hours. I was supposed to be home, but instead, I was still on a gurney and feeling completely out of sorts and in extreme pain.

The worst and most unexpected was the trapped air pain. Oh me, oh my! I knew that during gallbladder removal surgery they were going to pump my stomach full of air to make navigating the laparoscope easier but I had no expectation of the pain that would accompany that trapped air. I fell unconscious when I came home, only to be awoken by a searing pain in my shoulder so fierce that it made childbirth feel like a splinter. I was screaming and crying in pain. I frantically begged the Big Guy to call the surgeon, only to find out that it was normal and expected.

I didn’t sign up for that shit.

No one told me about that, so I’m warning you!

Another fun surprise, I found out my gallbladder was not located where it is supposed to be. Your gallbladder is supposed to be tucked up under your liver, mine somehow had migrated to the middle of my chest. Was I born deformed? Had it moved during one of my pregnancies? Was it twisted? All I know is that even the surgeon was grossed out by it. Things didn’t go as planned or expected.

Today, we are 5 days post op and it’s been a doozy of a weekend. The surgeon put a transdermal scop patch behind my ear to stop the projectile vomiting. That was nice of him since coughing, projectile barfing, sneezing and hiccupping after having your gallbladder removed, it’s a little excruciating. Only, one problem, I had to take it off after 72 hours. That was a good thing too because the damn thing was making me blind. Seriously, on top of being sore like I had done 1 million sit-ups and higher than a kite on pain pills, I couldn’t even read Facebook. My vision was so blurry that I couldn’t read my phone.

I removed the patch and then my nausea came back with a vengeance. I’m not sure if it’s from the anesthesia, the pain pills or just the change in my digestion from the removal of the gallbladder. All I know is that Zofran was powerless against it so I did what any desperately nauseated person would do, I sent the Big Guy to Walgreens for some motion sickness bands.

Thankfully, I’m feeling a little less nauseated and a little more normal. I’m hoping this means that my health is on the upswing and soon, I won’t have to worry about things like nausea and the label on every single piece of food that I put in my mouth.

Gallbladder Removal Surgery Changed my life

There is one other unexpected side effect, as the tape has begun to come apart from the incision on my belly button, I realized that I did not leave the hospital with the same belly button as I went in with. To be honest, I used to have this adorable little belly button and now, it’s hideous. It may be the swelling but as it stands, I may have to take this ugly thing and go into witness protection; at the very least, I certainly need to take my belly button and go into hiding.

It’s swollen, much larger than it was and, at the risk of being too graphic, it looks like a piece of exposed meat in there. I think some glue has come loose. I’m freaking out. All joking aside, I’m calling my surgeon tomorrow and asking him to take a look because I really don’t think this is what my belly button is supposed to look like after gallbladder removal surgery.

Have you had gallbladder removal surgery? If so, how did it change your life and eating habits?

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Gallbladder attack, gallstones, ER

It’s been a crazy few weeks, so crazy in fact, that I’ve been too busy to actually write about it and my gallbladder attack. Lots of life choices have come to a head and not in a good way. Not in the ticker tape parade, I just unlocked level 1000 in life success kind of way, but in the what the hell have I been doing to my body over the past 40 plus years sort of way. My body mutinied on me.

Two weeks ago, Easter Sunday or the night on Walking Dead that Daryl got shot and I should have been rioting, I was instead ignoring the hell out of The Walking Dead and the possibility of Daryl being shot because I felt like I myself was dying. I say that literally, not figuratively. My body was attacking me over either macaroni and cheese or my Mother-in-law’s amazing cheesecake; trying to kill me and I really wanted to give it the satisfaction of dying just to be out of my misery.

Remember a couple weeks prior, I thought I was having a heart attack and ended up in my local emergency room? That night I found out that I had gallstones and that was my first ever gallbladder attack brought on by a Mexican birthday celebration meal, I was in excruciating pain.

I was given some intravenous meds, including a nice morphine push and I felt great. The ER doctor didn’t seem to think I needed my gallbladder removed because we thought the whole thing was precipitated by my stomach that was irritated from the 1800 mgs of ibuprofen that I’ve been taking every day for the past 6 months thanks to my broken leg. I watched the “bad food” or so I thought for a couple days and then I went back to eating whatever I wanted, because that’s what I do. I’ve always said, I’d rather workout for 3 hours a day than give up French fries. I know better now.

P.S. Anyone who tells you to eat whatever you want because the chance of having another attack within a couple weeks is rare is not your friend. Ignore them because they are full of shit and obviously never survived an acute gallbladder attack.

So anyways, 2 weeks ago, the Sunday before the Thursday that I left for Spring Break at Disney World (the same trip I had to cancel in October because of the broken leg) I had my second attack. It was 10 times worse than the first one. It was transition labor with no medication terrible. I have a high pain threshold and I tried to wait it out for 4 hours, it never subsided. It only got worse. Finally, I had to call my brothers to come over to watch the kids while my husband took me to the ER at 1 am in the morning.

Aside from the body splitting pain in my gallbladder and stomach, I was vomiting pure bile and nauseous. My stomach was messed up and I could not get comfortable. I was in so much pain; I couldn’t get above a whisper. I tried everything; heating pads, drinking vinegar, drinking water, laying on the floor, on my back, on my stomach, upside down. I was trapped in my body being tortured. I sat on my bed and sobbed in desperation and excruciating pain.

After all was said and done, I spent the entire night in the hospital trying to get the pain manageable. After three rounds of Zofran, Dilaudanum and something else, I can’t remember (in my defense, I was pretty drugged), I was finally sedated enough to drift in and out of consciousness through the attack. It was agreed that I needed to have the gallbladder removed at my earliest convenience, which is now. Remember, I was going to Disney World or bust for spring break but changes were going to have to be made.

Immediately, I was told that I needed to go on a low-fat dairy, reduce my fat, cholesterol and carbohydrate intake diet. There would be no butter, cheese, red meat, pizza or Mexican food in my near future. It was fine with me because there is no food in the world worth a gallstone attack. Seriously people, watch your cholesterol and fat intake. So, I went to Disney World on a severely restricted diet and I made it work. You’d be surprised at how many options you find when you look. I’ll write another post about that later.

Anyways, it’s been 2 weeks since my last attack and I’ve lost 13 pounds. I’ve never eaten healthier in my entire life, my blood pressure is down and I am waiting for the call from surgery to schedule my removal.

In case you are wondering why I am still having my gallbladder removed even though I have the attacks under control with diet, I am removing it because both doctors told me that once you have a gallstone attack it’s not a matter of if you will have another attack, it’s a matter of when and I simply don’t want to go through that excruciating pain ever again if I can avoid it.

Needless to say, let me serve as a warning to you, watch your fat and cholesterol intake. Move around and work out because gallbladder removal surgery is the most performed surgery in the United States and I’m sure that has a lot to do with our super-sized, super fat, super sugary, high cholesterol diets. It’s rich food. Ironically, gallbladder issues don’t exist in poorer countries.

What would you be willing to give up to avoid this kind of pain? For me, I’d gladly give up all foods to avoid another attack.

Have you ever had a gallbladder attack?

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life without butter, gallbladder attacks, health

Life without butter is not something I ever thought I’d agree to. Those are words that I never thought I’d be saying of course I never expected gallbladder issues either. I’ve always been the kind of person who would much rather workout for 3 hours or simply deprive myself of all other foods, so that I could eat what I wanted. I was cool with 400 calories a day, as long as those 400 calories could be foods of my choice; usually something deep fried, consisting of carbs and usually of the white flour or potato variety. Somehow grease and fat had become it’s own food group. However, that has changed.

Luckily, it didn’t take a heart attack or stroke to stop me. Then again, obesity wasn’t enough for me to stop either. I’ve realized that I care about my health but only so much as the threat is imminent. It’s that f*cking procrastinator that lives within me. I’m a hard head and have to learn everything the hard way.

You wouldn’t think it would be so difficult for someone who thrived at anorexia and was a vegetarian for 10 years to live a life without butter.

You’d think I knew how to be healthy and maybe I did but I just didn’t act on it. That is until I found myself in the ER twice last month in excruciating pain. THAT’S what motivates me to stop unhealthy behaviors. If it hurts me physically, I want no part of it. I’m a giant p*ssy in that way.

The thing is once you find yourself in that kind of pain, you know for certain that you never want to feel it again and when you experience it again, 1000x worse, you know that you need to get your shit together so I stopped hurting myself because I was the only one who could.

I think I’ve always felt like I’ve deserved punishment for being weak, where food was concerned. It’s leftover brain malfunction from the years of disordered eating. Since having anorexia, I’ve always looked at those who are overweight as weak. I know, it sounds so awful when you say it out loud but I felt like, if I could restrict myself and work out to such a degree….well, why couldn’t these people get control of their eating habits? It was a sense of superiority. Even though I knew that I was starving myself and completely unhealthy and unhappy but it didn’t matter because I had control, not like those out of control losers.

But when I started having the gallbladder attacks, I knew what I had to do. I didn’t want to have another one, so I had to be strong and eliminate all of those foods that could cause me to have another attack. Of course those foods were everything I love; cholesterol, full fat, greasy, red meat, white flour and refined sugars. It was everything that tasted good. My body had enough of my bad behavior and it mutinied. Let me tell you, when your body starts to attack you, you can’t win. You have to concede and admit defeat or you will kill yourself. I don’t know about you but French fries and butter are not worth dying to me.

So began my 6 weeks, so far, of no red meat, no butter, no full fat dairy, low cholesterol, low fat and low carb eating. It’s been a hard adjustment. I’ve been eating a lot of vegan foods, switched to coconut milk and almond milk and have had to read every label on all food that goes into my mouth. You’d think such a change would be nearly impossible but turns out, not so much when the alternative is excruciating pain. Yep, turns out that I’m fearless in the face of abstract death but imminent pain scares the shit out of me.

The gallbladder has come out and many people are telling me this is reason for celebration because now I can eat without the worry of a gallbladder attack. However, I’m concerned that if my eating habits were so terrible that it caused my body to rebel and now the gallbladder is gone, what happens with all that bad stuff. Gallbladder stones are made of cholesterol and I had such a huge one in my gallbladder that the surgeon had to destroy my belly button to remove it from my body.  That was the bad stuff depository so where the hell is it going now? Personally, I don’t want to find out.

I hate to admit it but this gallbladder situation may have been the best thing to ever happen to me. It may have saved my life. I’ll gladly read all the labels and limit my red meat, cholesterol and fat intake if I never have to hear the word’s, “Your biopsy” again. I didn’t even know that cancer was a consideration until I had to make an unexpected stop at the surgeon’s office when I realized my belly button did.not.look.right.

Anyways, onwards and upwards. Who needs butter anyways, right? On the plus side, all of my pants are getting too big.

What would it take to make you live your life without “butter”?

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sexual health, women's health, women's bodies

Sometimes as a busy wife and mom, my life can get pretty hectic. Probably a lot like yours. It’s not easy when you have to be 100 places at the same time and you have little people depending on you for survival. That’s a lot of pressure, in and of itself, add to that work, errands, husband time and the fact that I am not as young as I once was and it’s easy to feel overwhelmed pretty quickly.

The thing is that this happens quite frequently and when it does, I don’t feel like myself. Does that happen to you? I’ve noticed that whenever my life gets busy and I’m experiencing a lot of emotional stress, there are always accompanying physical ramifications. For example, when you’re stressing out over why the baby isn’t sleeping through the night and the next thing you know you get a monster pimple between your eyes or you remember in the middle of the night that you have to bake 50 cupcakes for the PTO bake sale and then you fall victim to a migraine.

I’ve had an extremely stressful few months recently. I broke my leg last fall which created a host of other issues, as you can imagine mostly because when you are confined to one place and can’t bear weight, you start to feel like a ghost in your own life. You can’t imagine the emotional stress that feeling irrelevant can put on someone. Makes you appreciate what it must feel like to be elderly.

Then this spring I started having gallbladder attacks which led to a surgery to remove a diseased gallbladder. If you’ve never had a gallbladder attack, I don’t recommend them. They feel like an induced labor with no epidural. This caused more emotional stress that manifested itself by physically wiping me out. On top of all of this, I’m pretty sure that I’ve entered perimenopause land. They say it can start anywhere from your thirties through your forties (or even earlier for some) and can last anywhere from 10 months to 10 years, so that makes it a definite possibility.

I haven’t noticed any major symptoms like hot flashes, irregular periods or lower sex drive but others like urine leakage (hello, giving birth to two babies with huge heads), fatigue (a mom’s work is never done), mood swings and trouble sleeping (well, I’m a mom and a diagnosed insomniac so this has been part of my reality since having kids) but other than that I feel like I’m 25-years-old. Well, except for the occasional vaginal dryness but I blame that on the stress. Not to be too graphic but sometimes it’s like a slip and slide down there and sometimes it’s like the Sahara. I adjust. I’m not giving up my sex life because my vagina is being bipolar. Hey, 2 pregnancies, a broken leg and wonky gallbladder didn’t stop me. I’m not about to let aging win the war. I’m not dead yet.

The thing is life slows down for no woman so we have to make time to take care of ourselves. Sometimes that means getting some extra sleep, sometimes that means taking vitamins and exercising, sometimes that means sneaking away to pee in silence and sometimes that means giving yourself a little help in the lubricant area. Hey, my mama always told me, “God helps those who help themselves.” I have no shame in helping myself to the sex life I want. If that means picking up some Vagisil ProHydrate then I will. Vagisil ProHydrate Natural Feel helps make my love life feel natural again without the dryness that comes with perimenopause.

 

Unfortunately, it quite literally, took me falling and breaking my leg and being completely bed ridden for 4 months to learn that lesson. So when your body is telling you to slow down or take care of it, do it. You only have one body and one life. Enjoy

What do you do to relieve stress that’s just for you and nobody else?

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dislocated elbow, broken bone, slip and fall

Have you ever felt like Samuel Jackson’s character Elijah Price in Unbreakable? I have; I do right now. A week ago today, in a fluke of epic proportions and yet another lesson in bad footwear, I lost my footing in a waterlogged yard and fell, not once but twice and something broke. Put it this way, on the second fall, I was pretty sure that if I had taken my coat off, I would have seen the bones in my arm completely out of their respective positions.

If you’ve been following along for the past couple of years, you know that I broke my leg at my sister’s wedding so severely that I had to have surgery to put my leg back together again. It’s what I affectionately refer to as my Humpty Dumpty Frankenstein leg.

A couple months later, I had to have a second surgery to remove 2 of the screws because all of the physical therapy in the world was not going to allow those screws to let me walk without a limp. It helped and I had an amazing surgeon through the entire ordeal so shout out to Dr. Beuchel who can perform surgical miracles and has the most pleasant bedside manner.

3 months later, my gallbladder decided it wanted in on the fun and I had 2 acute attacks in as many weeks. But since I was a week out from a Disney trip (the same trip I had cancelled the previous October due to the break) I went to Disney with a bum gallbladder and a restricted diet that nearly starved me to death and subsequent removal of a gallbladder that we found was not situated in the usual place. Thankfully, Disney is very accommodating to all diets but there were no Dole whips on that trip I did, however, find the soy shake at the Sci-Fi theater and the ratatouille at Be Our Guest to be uncannily delicious.

A year later, the swelling in my leg had finally gone down enough to remove the outer plate and screws from my leg. This was necessary because I was having pain wearing anything above a flat. I just had this surgery over Christmas break. It’s been feeling great, other than a little tenderness from the accompanying scope I had to remove all the built up excess scar tissue that was causing mobility issues. I was looking forward to going to Disney next month unencumbered. Then the unthinkable happened; a series of almost comedic if not almost deadly unfortunate events.

I went outside. The snow had all melted and I saw that Monday night’s storm had left a giant tree branch atop the girls’ trampoline. Afraid it might tear it, I got dressed went outside and tried to remove it from the netting. Let me explain, this is completely out of character for me. I usually leave all manual labor to the Big Guy because 1) I don’t particularly like it 2) I am accident prone and still, I did it anyway. The first mistake, going outside.

This was not well thought out. I still had my pajamas on. I threw on the first pair of comfy pants I found folded and pulled on my jacket and UGGS. Second mistake, UGGS. They are now in the flip-flop category of shoes that will never be worn again.

I went outside and saw that I could not move the log but instead of going in the house and accepting defeat, I soldiered on. I went to the front of the house to find something for leverage. Mistake number 3 and 4, not quitting and walking to the front of the house.

I spied a shovel by the front door and thought, hmm, this will work for leverage. I stepped off the front porch (next mistake) put my foot into the waterlogged, muddy yard and went down like a ton of bricks. When I went down, my first thought was, “OMG, the plate is out and this leg can break again. OMG, I broke the leg!!!”

I was at this point wailing like a baby and jumped up immediately. This was my 5th and fatal mistake because I immediately fell right back down, this time with my left arm outstretched searching for salvation but none was to be found.

I heard a pop and I knew, if I pulled off my jacket to look, the bone would be jutting out in the wrong direction. Covered in mud, I gingerly, while full on screaming and hyperventilating because at this point I might have been insane, pulled myself up to my feet. I was shaking uncontrollably and frightened. The pain was indescribable. I had to make it into the house without falling again but first I had to make it all the way to the back of the house, without losing my footing again because of course, the front door was locked. Instead of walking 50 feet in excruciating pain, I got to walk 500 feet.

dislocated elbow, broken bone, slip and fall

I made it, slipping and sliding and crying and screaming the entire way. It was around 9 in the morning so no one was around. I called my husband, who works on the other side of town, and told him to meet me at the hospital and I called my brother who lives a few blocks away and sobbed my way through telling him what had happened and asked for a ride to the ER.

By this time, I think my body was going into shock. I was shaking uncontrollably and feeling faint and vomity just like the time I broke my leg. Everything was hurting. I was just trying to get dressed and cleaned up before I couldn’t move at all. Swelling tends to do that to bone trauma.

Finally, we made it to the Emergency room where I had to wait for about ½ hour before they could get me back. After another 5 hours and several x-rays, they sent me home with a splint and the news that my arm was broke. However, they said they couldn’t see the break because of the swelling and they wouldn’t do an MRI. I had to follow up with my orthopedist. I left in pain and frustrated.

dislocated elbow, broken bone, slip and fall

Thursday, I saw the orthopedist. The verdict is that when I fell, I dislocated my elbow which, thankfully, went back into place on its own. While dislocating my elbow, the trauma from the impact and all the pushing and pulling taking place during the dislocation, I chipped part of my bone off. My doctor didn’t seem too worried about that. I, however, am concerned but thrilled that I don’t have to wear a cast to Disney this year or have surgery.

dislocated elbow, broken bone, slip and fall

I do have a horrific bruise and swelling to contend with today. I have about 3 months of recovery in front of me that includes another week or two of intense pain, a month of wearing a sling and a whole lot of physical therapy. But no cast or surgery, so I am thankful for the small wins.

Tomorrow, I’m going to buy some vitamin D and calcium because apparently, I am up for the role of Elijah Price in M.Night Shamalyns next installment in the series and I really don’t want to be.

The moral of the story kids? Beware life’s slick spots and make good footwear choices!

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vaginal cuff, hysterectomy, endometriosis

What is a vaginal cuff ? Everwonder what that even means? I’ll be honest, I never even heard of the word before I got one. I can tell you that it is not anything like an ear cuff. It’s not a piece of jewelry. It is not an accessory of any sort. It does not adorn or make anything look fancy. It’s a procedure that is done when your uterus and cervix is removed. Basically, it’s a separation.

I’m on day 6 of recovery from my hysterectomy. I’m sure that you are all tired of hearing about it and I’m sorry but it happens to be the giant squishy elephant in the room at his time. Yes, it was squishy and big (like a softball) and apparently, the damn thing was so heavy my body decided my cervix should dilate a centimeter to help my body expel of this thing.

READ ALSO: Take this Uterus and Shove It

Basically, just like my misplaced gallbladder, my uterus didn’t look as was expected. That’s exactly what you want to hear after having the beast removed from within the fruit of your loins.

How do I feel? It’s the number one question everyone keeps asking and I keep telling them that I feel exhausted and sore. After all, I have 5 incisions in my frankenstomach now. In addition to the butcher marks from when they removed my gallbladder, my stomach looks like you can play a game of connect the ugly scars. I have become a carnival game for small children. And yeah that hurts.

But what really hurts is that it feels like I’ve done a zillion sit-ups. I guess that is what happens when they are tugging away trying to remove an organ the size of a freaking softball from the walls inside your body cavity. Oh, and did I mention that my vagina has been sewn shut?

READ ALSO: Last Period Ever

I found this out after surgery. No, it’s not like they sewed my face shut at the lips. No, it’s more like they sewed my mouth shut at the back of the throat only… between my legs. Are you getting the picture? Apparently, a few IRL people don’t because they keep asking me if I’m “really” supposed to be in bed and I’ll probably be healed in a couple of weeks. Obviously, they know more than my doctor.

See when they remove your uterus, your fallopian tubes, leave 1 ovary …they also remove your cervix. Its purpose is for the transit of babies from uterus to the outside world. As I will be having no more babies. I no longer need the cervix. Leaving it behind would be of no benefit, require yearly paps and the only purpose it would have is for me to get to play the delightful game of will she get cervical cancer or not for the rest of my life. So, they took it.

Well, like I asked my husband (not to be too graphic, as I am not a doctor) so what happens when you ejaculate? I mean, I love you Big Guy but I don’t feel particularly healthy about your sperm just roaming around my upper chest cavity like ghosts in an old house. That’s when I read up and was graphically explained while high as a kite on Percocet about a vaginal cuff. Sounds like a fashion accessory, right? I assure you that it is not!

READ ALSO: Having a Hysterectomy before the Fibroids Kill Me

What happens ( if you don’t want to know….stop reading here) when they remove your uterus and cervix and all the goodies inside ( save my left ovary who was left behind like a sacrificial lamb to stave off menopause) they have to cut the cervix free from the vagina. Yes, cut, it free from the VAGINA!

Remember your 8th-grade anatomy, it goes labia ( hello, come in. Welcome to my vagina. ) Vagina ( the grand foyer of your lady parts…it’s where you spend time getting to know one another…enjoying one another’s company), then comes the cervix ( mine was super deep and I like to think of it as the long walk to the back room) the uterus is where the magic ( and babies) were made. That’s where the babies grew and to be honest, as deep as my cervix was, I’m surprised I had any kids at all. They were determined. Those are my champion, long-distance swimmers.

READ ALSO: The Poor Man’s D & C

So, now that you know what the set-up is. In my scenario, you now come into the fun room ( the vagina) and then the rest of the house has not only been sealed off but removed. That bitch has been condemned; vacated and torn down.

I have a zillion questions going through my head. Will my husband still fit? He’s a Big Guy. Is it going to be too crowded? Will it hurt? Will things still work like they are supposed to?

Aside from all of this, I have people who have never had a hysterectomy telling me how I’m supposed to be feeling and how fast I’m supposed to be feeling and asking me if I actually feel as bad as I appear to be. Am I really supposed to be in bed?

I want to shout, “No, I’m just doing it because I’m lazy.” That’s the answer I feel like they want. I feel judged for trying to recover.

Well, I’m not a gynecologist and the people who are asking me aren’t either, but my doctor was pretty adamant that I take it easy as to not rip any stitches and end up back in the hospital. But hey, I’m sure this stranger’s cousin’s sister’s friend who was the janitor in the hospital knows better.

Basically, I feel like I’ve had a c-section minus the baby. Instead of pulling out the baby, the removed my entire uterus. It hurts. It’s uncomfortable and I’d appreciate it if certain people would quit questioning if this major surgery is “really that bad”.

 

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cancer, cervical biopsy, when cancer's on the table, waiting for biopsy results, FemiLift, vaginal lift, pap smear, cervix, xanax, miscarriage

I’ve been waiting. For months, I have been waiting. I had a health episode last February, one that scared me. I thought I had a heart attack. It happened shortly after the inauguration. There was an incident where they were detaining Mexicans coming back to the United States thru O’Hare. That’s our home airport. My father is retired and spends time in Mexico. I didn’t think it phased me but then boom.

I’m not sure what happened that day but I read the news on my phone and the next moment it felt like my heart burst (and not in a good way) and then I got all tingly.  I thought for sure, I was dying. Then I took my blood pressure and it was 187/107. I don’t know about you but that is really high for me.

Long story short, after an EKG, ECG and total blood panel work up my heart was fine but maybe my blood pressure was an issue, I found out that I was “prediabetic” or “diabetic untreated” as my paperwork said and I found out that I was severely anemic. So anemic, in fact, that I was almost to the point of needing a transfusion. I’ve been silently terrified for months. I always feel like if I talk about these things I’m tempting someone or something to intervene and not in a good way. Probably a byproduct of all those years in a childhood of “I can give you something to cry about.” No thank you.

Two weeks ago, I went back to see my doctor for some follow-up. Good news is I am no longer “prediabetic” or “diabetic untreated”. I’m also no longer anemic. And it turns out that I probably have white coat syndrome, even though my brother-in-law and one of my best friends are doctors. Blood pressure meds made my blood pressure bottom out. Basically, a couple Thursdays ago, I wanted to shout from the rooftops. I. AM.HEALTHY!

But if you know me… at all, you know, that’s not how I work. I am convinced the minute that I get happy, karma is going to come in and snatch it all away. It’s the way nature keeps me humble. I quietly told my family and every so often yelled, “I’m not diabetic” with a super cheesy smile at my daughters like I won the lottery. Yes, they think I am insane. But I never said it out loud to the universe for fear the other foot would drop.

Then last Wednesday, I went to see my Gynecologist. After all, it’s October. What better time to get my mammogram on, share my selfie and promote breast cancer awareness…plus, it fell perfectly into my monthly cycle.  Only, I get sort of terrified ever since that time in 2012 that I went to see my ob/gyn and she told me that my baby’s heart wasn’t beating.  Yeah, shit like that tends to give me PTSD. To be honest, every single time I go there, I’m afraid she’s going to give me bad news. It’s like, in my mind, she is the grim reaper. Though logically I know she’s not. In fact, I like her as a person that’s why I keep going back.

Anyways, around my birthday I get all, “get your ducks in a row bish” and I go see all my doctors. I got my mammogram, as I do every year. I always get freaked out that they’re going to tell me bad news. Remember they haven’t always worked so well. They tend to be more for looks than function, apparently but I found out Friday that my mammogram was good. No problems. Woohoo! Again I wanted to tell you, but…other foot.

While I was there and getting the usual pap, things went a little weird, thanks to 3 little fibroids (one for each pregnancy). Only they are not so little and they are causing some issues. Nothing big, just enough to be a nuisance. Enough to definitely give me an abnormal Pap. So, I got a surprise biopsy. Have I ever told you how much I hate the surprises I get at doctors’ offices? Surprise…no heartbeat. Surprise…biopsy of your cervix.

When cancer‘s on the table things get real.

It all happened so fast, I really don’t remember much of what she said. I do know that biopsies are usually done to diagnose cancer. I also can tell you that when you aren’t expecting them, they hurt. Don’t believe that “it’ll just be a little pinch bullshit.” It was more than a pinch but better to get a “pinch” than living with undiagnosed cancer. I want to live. Even saying the word feels like I should spit to avoid the evil eye.

I have a deep cervix and me and that damn super-sized speculum are well-acquainted. I’ve given birth to two big-headed babies. I’ve had gallbladder attacks, broke the shit out of my leg and had cells scraped from the roof of my mouth and I can tell you, while it was no gallbladder attack a cervical biopsy is no freaking pinch. If you ever have to get one, definitely get it but take some ibuprofen or ask for a local beforehand. It felt like she took a tiny melon baller to my cervix and it was not the surprise I wanted to have when I’m naked from the waist down. Why is it never, “Surprise you are my 1millionth Pap and you just won 1 million dollars and you are going to Disney World!”? Why ? I could get into that kind of surprise.

My doctor told me she was just doing it as a precaution since I was spotting during the Pap. Ladies, you know, bleeding of any kind during a pap can cause it to come back abnormal. She did the biopsy just to make sure that even if the pap came back abnormal she could rule out cancer. Then she said, “It’s the fibroids, Debi. I’m almost sure of it.”

Other foot.

Don’t’ get cocky lady. Last time I got cocky and thought it was “nothing”, I left your office with a baby with no heartbeat and I howled like a dying animal in the parking lot and I haven’t been the same since.

I’ve been waiting. To be such a damn amazing procrastinator, I am a horrible waiter. I’ve been imagining all of the awful scenarios. Cervical cancer. Uterine cancer. Endometrial cancer. Cancer. Cancer. Cancer. Have I mentioned everyone I’ve ever known that had a female reproductive part cancer died? I am terrified.

Missing my daughters grow up. Missing first confirmations. Missing the quinces. Missing graduations. Missing college. Missing first loves. Missing the big loves. Missing their weddings. Missing grandbabies. Missing being there just to hear them talk when they needed me to listen. Mentally messing them up forever because I wasn’t there when they needed me most.

Current status: I’m living in a Xanax induced fog praying the days go by quickly and willing myself not to cry like a giant baby. I’m calling every few hours and I’m trying not to live in that deep, dark howling hole. I’m being a real pain in my doctor’s ass because I need to know. I told y’all I’m a bootstrapper so if there’s an issue ( God, I hope there isn’t) then I want to start working to fix it and if there isn’t, I want to announce it to the world. Either way, when cancer is on the table, even just as a precaution and I know cancer is technically always on the table, but to have the biopsy makes it feel a little more tangible and I am freaked out. Like vomit, nauseous, cry for no reason panicky freaked out.

I’ve told y’all I’m a bootstrapper so if there’s an issue ( God, I hope there isn’t) then I want to start fighting it and if there isn’t, I want to announce it to the world. Either way, when cancer is on the table (even just as a precaution) and I know cancer is technically always on the table, but to have the biopsy makes it feel a little more tangible and I am freaked out. Like vomit, nauseous, cry for no reason panicky freaked out.

I called last night and they said that they had the results but my doctor wasn’t in and she needed to interpret them before they could give me the results which only made me more freaked out like there was something there and they wanted her to tell me. I’ve got my fingers, toes, and ovaries crossed that everything is good but I’m mentally preparing myself for whatever comes my way. I’ll be sure to update this post when I find out either way.

Have you ever had a biopsy or a health scare that terrified you? What did you do to get through the waiting?

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heart attack, symptoms of a heart attack, heart health women

Ever been afraid that maybe you were having a heart attack? Seriously. I’m not trying to be funny but I’m overweight and out of shape. A heart attack is a real possibility. I’m a fat woman. I have a BMI of 33 and I recently spent 4 months sitting on my butt. Honestly, you can look healthy and still have a heart attack. They don’t call it the silent killer in women for nothing.

I’ve seen the commercials citing that 1 out of 3 women will have a heart attack our symptoms are different than men. In fact, I know a friend who had a heart attack and didn’t even realize it until afterwards. I also have a great Aunt who spent the day with us touring the Biltmore Estate and had a heart attack. None of us knew until she told her doctor and he checked her, a week later. Ladies, that scares the ish out of me. I don’t want to die of a heart attack. I want to live to be 103. That’s my expiration date. It’s non-negotiable.

Anyways, last Friday morning; I woke up at 5 a.m. with a ridiculous pain in my actual stomach (not my intestines) and it would not go away. It woke me from my sleep and the little voice in my head, recited the commercial about the mom who thought she had indigestion but instead ended up dead because she was actually having a heart attack and TUMS ain’t got nothing on that.

I got up and took some Mylanta (because I always have it on hand since the first and only stomach ache I’ve ever had). It didn’t work. Then I took some TUMS. They didn’t work. Then I took a Xanax because I’m under a shiton of stress and maybe I was having a panic attack. Nothing. I waited half an hour. Still horrific pain. Now it was from my stomach to my right side of my rib cage.

Were these the symptoms of a heart attack?

You always hear of women thinking they had heartburn and it was something else; something more. I took my blood pressure with my portable Bluetooth QardioArm blood pressure monitor and checked it right there in the app on my phone and saved it to show the hospital. As moms, we are so focused on everyone else, we neglect ourselves. Don’t do that. It could mean the difference between life and death.

SHIT! I’m having a heart attack, so I took an aspirin because blood clots and strokes. At 6:30 a.m. when everyone else woke up, I texted my husband that I needed to go to the hospital. He assured me that it was heartburn from the Mexican food at Bella’s birthday dinner from the previous night.

Firstly, I’ve only had heartburn once in my life and this wasn’t it. Secondly, it felt like acid and a severe, prolonged heart cramp. I just knew I was dying but I kept it cool for my kids. We dropped them at school where I gave them extra long goodbye hugs and kisses, without divulging anything to them, and then we proceeded on to the Emergency room. I hate the emergency room.

Long story short, after 5 hours in the Emergency room, an EKG, an ultrasound (twice in one week, lucky me!), several blood tests and worrying myself into an absolute tizzy. We found out that no, I did not in fact have a heart attack but the doctor was glad that I had come in rather than ignore my symptoms. We found out that I have gallstones, 2 of them (they go perfectly with the 3 fibroids they found last Wednesday) and upon further questioning they found out that from the prolonged ibuprofen usage for the swelling in my broken leg, I have actually made the lining of my stomach sensitive.

The sensitive stomach and high cholesterol, high fat, highly greasy Mexican food did not enjoy one another’s company. My stomach became irritated which in effect affected my gallbladder (with it’s two stones). I had a gallbladder attack. It was not pleasant and I don’t recommend it.

They intravenously administered an antacid for my stomach, some Zofran so I wouldn’t throw up and a dose of happy, I mean morphine, for the pain. They gave me strict instructions to take Zantac, especially if I planned on continuing on with the ibuprofen regimen (which I have not) and to stay away from high cholesterol meals. I quit Ibuprofen cold turkey and have been reading labels because 103-years-old, people. My expiration date is 2075, not 2016.

The moral of the story is that when you think you might have something seriously wrong with you; trust your gut (pun intended). Maybe I wasn’t having an actual heart attack (but I could have been) but I did have something wrong with me and it needed medical attention STAT. I’m not sure that would have happened if I suffered through it at home or went to a walk-in clinic. I needed tests, not a Band-Aid.

It’s been a crazy couple of weeks. Bring on Disney World because mama needs a vacation. Do yourself a favor and know the symptoms of a heart attack in women.

  • Uncomfortable pressure, squeezing, fullness or pain in the center of your chest that lasts more than a few minutes, or goes away and comes back.
  • Pain or discomfort in one or both arms, the back, neck, jaw or stomach.
  • Shortness of breath, with or without chest discomfort.
  • Other signs such as breaking out in a cold sweat, nausea or lightheadedness.

Have you ever thought maybe you were experiencing symptoms of a heart attack or something serious and second guessed yourself?

 

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mom, daughter, my daughter loves me, tween years

It’s been a weird time over here, my daughter is growing up at an alarming rate ( both of them) and I feel like I’m physically, falling apart over the last few months. One has nothing to do with the other. But it just gives some background to my state of mind…vulnerable.

 

We’ve had growth spurts and growing pains and I’ve just waiting for my girls to hit that age where suddenly I am their least favorite person in the world and I’ve been dreading it because honestly, aside from the Big Guy, these two are my favorite people in the world. Have been since the moment they were born. Sure, I have moments when I don’t really like their behavior and I’m not particularly fond of the eye rolling and sarcastic tones that have been making an appearance at my house lately, but God, I adore these girls.

 

Lately between the bickering between the two of them and the moments of wondering if boarding school might be a better option for my sanity, I’ve been at the end of my parenting rope. I’ve been feeling overwhelmed and outnumbered and, worse, disrespected. It’s been hard trying to get my bearings in this new stage of parenthood. I’ve been solidly knocked off my axis. But suddenly, there’s been a shift.

 

Through it all, I’ve been sticking to my guns and no matter what transpires, my girls always know they are loved; no matter how unlovable they are behaving that day. My oldest, who is only 11, has been exerting her independence for the past couple of years trying to separate from me. I feel it. It’s natural but that doesn’t mean that it doesn’t hurt. It does, like a son of a bitch and this is coming from a broad who has had unmedicated transition labor, a severely broken and shattered leg and relentless gallbladder attacks. My girls pulling away hurts more than any of that ever did. I was sure this was the beginning of the end.

 

I’m not so old that I don’t remember that phase in my life when I tried to separate from my mom; the teen years. I was awful and I didn’t even understand what it was about my mom that was so annoying. I just knew that every word she tried to tell me, annoyed me. I know now that it wasn’t her at all, it was me. I was growing up, and asserting my independence was just part of that. Being a complete asshole to my mom, that was just me taking it to the next level. Sorry, mom!

 

Anyways, my Bella, she’s been giving me the “ you don’t know anything” look. I know it well. I gave it. I could feel her pulling away. One day, she would barely speak to me then suddenly, the next she was trying to match me in outfits. I was so confused. Did she hate me or did she think I was “cool”? Was she messing with me? Adolescence is so confusing and puberty makes it all 1000x worse.

 

I’ve been holding my ground. No matter how awful she is to me, every night I go into her room and kiss her goodnight and tell her that I love her. Every morning when I drop her off at school, I kiss her goodbye and tell her (and her sister) that I love them. I’m relentless with this because I never want them to doubt that or themselves.

 

Over the last couple of months, I noticed that my daughter has been making a return to me. I know she’s only 11 and there is so much more of this pulling away to come but for now, she has become my biggest advocate. When her little sister starts to argue with me or talk back, my oldest has been intervening. I told her to stop because I don’t want it to cause a rift between her and her sister but I appreciate it. It was nice that she took the initiative to have my back. I appreciate that she cared enough to step in.

 

She’s been pointing out the similarities in our physical traits and wanting to emulate me. There’s been a shift from “leave me alone” to “can I spend some time with you, mommy” and I’m not ashamed to say that I love it. She loves me and she’s not afraid to show me. She’s stopped resisting the fact that I’ll never stop loving her.

 

I really think it has a lot to do with me being consistent. She knows my unconditional love means giving her what she needs of me, and that might not always be what she wants from me but she knows that she always has me on her side.

 

Anyways, with months upon months of crazy stuff going on lately (like seriously, I must have pissed someone off who gave me the evil eye or I accidentally came into possession of some tiki a la The Brady Bunch). All I know is that among broken legs, attacking gallbladder and too many other craptastic things to mention, it is awesome to feel the love from my daughters.

 

What’s the one time you really needed some love/kind word/smile/something good to happen and it did? Isn’t it amazing how it can change everything?

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Stream Team, National Siblings Day, Netflix

April 10th was National Siblings day. I grew up with 6 brothers and sisters so siblings are a big part of my life and I have always stressed to my girls how important their sister is. I loved being part of a big family but it definitely made things like going out to eat or watching television difficult, especially considering at one point my parents had 5 teenagers and 1 television in the house. There were a lot of us in a small space so we learned how to compromise and share. I like to think those “hard times” made us better people.

This was back in the 80’s so there was no running to your tablet; laptop or desktop computer to watch something else if you didn’t like what was being featured on the main screen. I mean, there was only 1 screen! Gasp. This was a time before Netflix, Hulu or Amazon prime existed and we didn’t even have cable. I’m not even sure how we survived.

As children, we learned hard lessons about democracy and majority rule. That’s probably why I became a political scientist; I know that every vote counts. I know that staying silent is giving up your right to be heard on important matters; like which movie to watch Purple Rain or Weekend at Bernies.

Stream Team, National Siblings Day, Netflix

It was so stressful that I got a job the minute I was old enough, just so I could buy a TV of my own! Then I hoarded it in my room and watched whatever I wanted to. I went rogue, I even saved up and bought a VCR. I used to let my brothers and sisters watch tv in my room in exchange for them doing my chores. Being the owner of a television in a house where there was only one other one was power.

Anyways, honestly, if my dad was home we had to watch Univision and if my mom had control of the television it was usually tuned in to General Hospital or Dynasty. It was torturous being a teen in the 80s, what with having to have a personality and hang out with actual friends. If you got really lucky, you’d get a friend who had cable and was a latch key kid.

Stream Team, National Siblings Day, Netflix

These days we have televisions and devices in every room of the house. Honestly, devices outnumber people 3 to 1 in our home. Anyone can watch whatever they want, whenever they want.

Thanks to my wonky gallbladder and surgery, I got to spend a lot of time watching Netflix. Thankfully, I am a Netflix Stream Team member so I felt productive even while I was binge watching some awesome shows. I found a lot of new and exciting shows to watch and I thought how fun it would be to binge watch these shows with my sisters and brothers, now as adults. Even though we could technically be spread out all over the house, there is nothing like sharing the experience of a great show; laughing, crying and thinking.

Stream Team, National Siblings Day, Netflix

This month there are lots of awesome shows that the entire family can agree on, no matter the age or taste in shows. A few of my favorites for adult siblings are The Unbreakable Kimmy Schmidt, Lost and Found, The RANCH ( a new favorite), American Odyssey, Flaked, Love, The Returned and River. There is something for everyone.

My husband, our daughters and I like to watch television as a family. I guess it’s leftover from my deprived childhood of living in a house with only one television. The same way we always eat dinner together every night. It’s not just a habit; it is a choice we made as a family because it’s important to us to spend that time sharing experiences, our day and air. Children grow up quickly and all of these seemingly inconsequential moments count. But sometimes finding something age appropriate that holds the attention of all of us, is a real challenge but this month we found a few we really loved like Lost and Found, Dance Academy, Girl Meets World and also, Grease and the Princess Bride!

What is your favorite show to binge watch on Netflix?

 

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