April 29, 2012

So what HAVE I been doing?

So... I've had some time on my hands lately. I'm healing or so the doctors tell me. To my observation "healing" is a way to make being lazy sound purposeful. I am doing as much staying still and resting as I can but I'm not exactly a patient person. I'm trying but only because I know that I still have a way to go yet.

So, what have I been doing with my time, you ask?  Well, to start with... the aforementioned healing. It looks a lot like this except I am on the chair too. Covered in a blanket. And likely sleeping.  I have to give thanks to my Dad for the loan of the Sleep Chair. It's powers of healing and napping are strong!

Howard, my handy assistant in healing.
 While sitting I have often been knitting.  This is my Vergennes sweater, knit in Woobu yarn by Blue Moon Fiber Arts. True Blood, colourway.  I started it on April 19 and I am hopeful to have it done (or at least mostly) before I head back to work.
Yes, knitting a "blood" coloured sweater while recuperating
from surgery is my idea of a funny joke.
I have had difficulty watching TV as I cannot wear my glasses yet. Not that it bothers me all that much to keep things quiet.  I listened to audiobooks while knitting. I highly recommend "Is everyone hanging out without me? And other concerns." by Mindy Kaling. I just finished this one. She is hilarious.  Another laugh-out-loud funny one is "Me Talk Pretty One Day" by David Sedaris. This one is extra funny to me because a large part of the book chronicles the American author's attempt to learn french while living in France with his partner. They say laughter is the best medicine, right?

I have restarted reading "Talent is Overrated" by Geoff Colvin.  It only sounds like a pessimistic book. It's purpose is to explain "what really separates world-class performers from everybody else".  The book discusses a very interesting premise: that there is no such thing as a "natural talent". That "talent" is just really hard work and an ass-load of practice and perhaps the incentive to succeed. What it also suggests is that success is not limited by a person's intelligence or memory- it's not just for super smart people. (Yeah, us regular people have a hope!) I haven't finished the book yet but I am enjoying the read so far.

I've been playing my favourite new app on my ipod touch: SpellTower. I tell you this is an additive game. I have wasted a lot of time on this over the past week or so. Don't say I didn't warn you.

Scott and I also have a new pass time and a new friendly competition... but more on that tomorrow. In the mean time, I guess I have some knitting to do.

April 26, 2012


I have something I am pretty excited about: my blog, which I started in 2009, has now had more than 6000 page views!  YEAH blog! Yeah YOU! Thank you for reading.

I started this blog as a way to try to keep our extended family informed about what we were doing- breaking news style. We aren't world travellers, poet laureates, or a family of hard-to-look-away-from circus folk. We are a normal busy family and generally have many things going on at any one time. I am a working mom with huge pride in my family, an interest in writing, a weird sense of humour, varied and somewhat random interests and a proclivity to over share. Sounds like I should be a natural blogger, no? Well, maybe.

I also started it as a way to practice my writing and to let my voice be heard. It may be a quiet voice right now (I'm fine BTW, thanks for asking) but I do have stuff to say. Being part of a family, in whatever shape or size, is a pretty amazing thing and lemme tell you something you already know, friend: time goes FAST. I have to write this stuff down because there is no way I am going to remember all of the firsts or the funny things the kids say and do in 5 weeks never mind 5-70 years. Life just moves way too fast and some things in life need to be savoured and replayed for posterity.

As a blogger I struggle with what to say and whether what I have to say adds any value.  It seems harmless telling funny stories about our family and whatever items triggers my mind and imagination today.  However, there are enough people on the Internet, radio and television who enjoy their own voice and talk just to talk or to stir controversy. I don't want to be one of those. And still... I blog.

So where does that leave us?  On the road to 10,000 page views BABY! I'm still going to blog but I think I am going to try to add more varied content.  I appreciate every reader but I'm thinking about how to expand readers beyond those who are related to me by blood and marriage. (I have lots of aunts and uncles! I am sure they and my mother make up at least 4500 of the 6000 views.)

Let's take a call...phone in question from a long time reader but first time caller:

Me: Go ahead caller.
Caller: Congrats on hitting 6000!
Me: Thank you. I'm pretty thrilled.
Caller: I like your blog just fine but you, like, only post every 2 months or so. Can you try a little harder to hold my interest maybe? And could you totally post post-op pictures of your uvula?
Me: Yes, I will. And, um, no, I won't! Do you even know what a uvula is?!

Point taken- it is hard to follow that which never changes. I will work harder on that. Pinky Swear.

For an erratic blogger over the past 3.5 years the numbers are not too shabby.  I am grateful that you take the time to stop by and read what it is I have to say. Come on back again. I'll try to make it worth your while without stooping to flashing my uvula. ;)


For your reading pleasure these are a few of MY favourite posts from this blog over the past few years:
  1. I love cooking for my family, sometimes. This post, Part 2, is the blogs top viewed entry. I liked Part 1 even better.
  2. For reasons I cannot explain my family falls apart the week before we leave on holidays.  See here and here.
  3. I'm normal. My Doctor had me tested.
  4. The reason why I will always been the bad cool aunt!
  5. I love to knit. This was my version of a love letter to the sweater that just would not end.

April 22, 2012

It changed my life, Dad.

We had a pretty important benchmark in our house today: Finn sucessfully learned how to ride a two wheel bike today!

Like his siblings before him he was taught by his Dad.

Like his siblings before him there were some tears and some challenges to overcome. 

But it wasn't too long until we had this:

The quote of the day was Finn telling us how much he had enjoyed learning to ride his bike. "It changed my life, Dad. It really did!"


April 21, 2012

I had work done. It was NOT fun.

Yes, I can officially say that I have had work done. This is not exactly a phrase that I ever expected to hear come out of my mouth.  Last week I had bilateral endoscopic sinus surergy, septoplasty, turbinoplasty, and the grandmomma of pain uvulopalatopharyngoplasty (UPPP).  ALL AT THE SAME TIME. I have attached links for those curious sorts who enjoy the medical stuff and as a reasonable explaination for each of the procedures.

My typical explaination of it all is that I had my face re-plumbed and my throat re-built similar to the Bionic Woman or the Million Dollar Man. (More on my new sound effects later.) Clearly, my explaination lacks specifics but does hit the high notes. The main reason for all of this... work... was to help me breathe properly through my nose for the first time in 39 years, to remove growths from my sinuses, and to help me stop snoring.

I was very nervous before going in for these procedures because any doctor that I spoke with about the procedure made their most professional "Oh Honey, you are so fucked" face and immediately launched into a discussion on pain. I have a friend who has had most of the surgeries mentioned above but he had them all separately and had complications. He, too, described the pain in detail.

I knew that these procedures were more about the long term gains so with that in mind I sucked it up, kissed my kids, set out about a million lists for my mom to take over my household duties and off Scott and I went.

I can easily summarize the last 10 days: painful with not enough drugs involved. I got to the point of counting the minutes in between pain meds. Which, I am pretty sure means that I was in pretty rough shape. The first 3 days are made worse by the fact that you are also dealing with the after affects of the general anestethic- which is nasty stuff.

What I do know for certain now is that I did not ask enough questions before my surgeries. I got caught up and intimidated in all the pain discussion and allowed that fear to disctract me from things that I really ought to have asked. (e.g. what are tonsils for and why am I volunteering to have mine removed without ever having had tonsilitis? what are reasonable and non-medicated options for pain control? Should I bother with non-medicated options at all? and can I have a large prescription for drugs please?) I ended up googling pictures of  UPPP and tonsillectomies in the middle of the night at about day 5  trying to figure out if what I was experiencing was in any way reasonable and , if by the grace of any diety that cared, would it end sometime soon- without my death.

I know in the past I have cautioned  against the use of internet medical information and reminded to always take what you find with a grain of salt. But, internets, I have to offer a heartfelt thank you to the wealth of tonsillectomy and UPPP patients who took the time to blog about their experiences  and answered questions  and offered remedies at places like ASK.com.   It was their collective wisdom that helped me that night.

Here is my offering to the midnight googler (yes, it is so a word) on the subject of UPPP surgery:
  • It hurts- BAD- for about 8 days and then it does get better, gradually. My mouth felt tight all over and I had some extreme pain-spots; where my tonsils used to be. I did not get a lot of sleep within the first 6 days. Pain level of about a 9 out of 10 for the first 6 days but improves from here on out with care. By day 10 it is a dull  4 or 5 out of 10 (what I would call a normal dry, tight and sore throat) and very manageable with normal Advil or Tylenol.
  • Stay ahead of your pain and watch your meds. Take meds on time.
  • The pain can radiate- this is helped by staying on top of your meds. I felt it in my throat, jaw and ears. I could tell when my meds were running low because it felt like I had a really bad toothache and earache at the same time as my throat being on fire. Ice packs, cold cloths, warm cloths and heating pads can help depending on your body.
  • Your throat will be all white when you look, if you can. It is very distrubing to see and from what I can tell it is normal. These are scabs from your surgery. They feel better if you can keep them moist but the sooner they go away the sooner you will feel better. Do not try to scrape them off. I found gargling with warm and sometimes salty water helped. I didn't use salt for too long because it made my mouth feel extra tight and that hurt so I mostly just used warm/hot water very frequently. (every hour or so.)
  • I also brushed my teeth a lot. I was getting sores at the sides of my tongue and on my lips. I felt that the teeth brushing helped keep my mouth moist but it also allowed me to gently agitate the sores and rub them without hurting. My teeth also started to feel fuzzy with the meds and not swallowing and such. To start I did not use toothpaste- I just used water but after a few days I used toothpaste and found the cooling sensation pleasant.
  • There will be lots of information that says cold stuff will make your throat feel better. They are right about half of the time. The other half of the time cold stuff will hurt A LOT and warm to borderline hot stuff will feel better. I think that this a person to person thing. For me warm/hot helped.
  • My body alternated between scalding hot and freezing cold. I took a lot of scalding hot showers to help loosen my muscles and generally make me feel better. I had a heating pad that I kept hot and kept along my body or along my chin and neckline.
  • Eating was a real problem for me for the first 6-7 days. I consumed Ensure for basic nurishment but had trouble with the temperature. I started with cold and nearly passed out from the pain. At the end I was drink it at room temperature. I also ate jello but found that it gave me nothing for caloric return so I stopped. I drank a lot of water. I tried things like yogurt and ice cream but, again, the temperature was a problem as was the texture. The dairy caused me to be phlemmy and that didn't help or feel good.
  • My body, brain, stomach and bowels were in a bit of a battle for control. My body was screaming in pain, my stomach was confused in its parallel messages of eat and don't eat, my brain said  hurting! and eat the food  it will help you feel better but my bowels had the final word in saying that food is not going to pass through- no matter what- until you stop taking meds so be mindful of what you eat. Don't hurt yourself trying to get your bowels to move. Take stool softeners and deal with this later. This gets better at about day 8- mostly because my meds ran out on day 7 and my body got back to normal pretty quick.
  • You will make it and it doesn't last forever.

So that was the bottom half of my surgery- blunt force and slap stick direct.  The top half was like British comedy for me- subtle and weird in a "I'm not sure if I am really getting it" kind of way. It was definately lesser on the pain scale than the throat- for which I am appreciative- but it was still present in a dull and steady 6 out of 10.  I did not love the nose job part.

Scott found it very funny that my newly re-routed sinuses made all kinds of new and exciting sound effects. I snap, crackled and popped. I snorted and snorked. I sniffled and dripped. You could actually hear the fluid filling my newly accessable sinus cavities previously made unavailable by blockages, growths and bone. For a surgery that was supposed to help me stop snoring I think I just added tonal variety and breadth to my existing repitoire with random jagged bursts of sobbing when I woke up to find my  mouth open and the newly scab covered  and swollen spot where my uvula-used-to-live flapping around. For 39 years I have breathed through my mouth to sleep and it is a hard habit to break.

I was very stuffed up for the first 5-6 days and found if I tilted my head any more than 30degrees in any direction my sinuses and ears drained in distrubing ways.  Sleeping, as I have previously mentioned, was tricky. I would prop myself upright and try to stay motionless. This was made easier when my father brought me a recliner chair from his house for the duration of my recovery.

I am now on day 10 and relatively, doing okay, I think. I am able to eat, cautiously and last night I slept for 7 hours straight. I can breathe clearly through my nose and my mouth is feeling better. My throat is still a 4 or 5 out of 10- but manageble now. I don't have a lot of energy yet but I have only just started eating so give me some time. I am still napping several times a day and not doing very much at all otherwise. My voice is weak but I can use my regular voice, if I have to. I have noticed no change in my voice but I am not speaking out loud a whole lot yet. It still feels better to whisper or to speak very quietly. Less vibration, I think.  I cannot wear my glasses for any amount of time yet as the bridge of my nose is tender and any amount of pressure radiates through my face, ears and sinuses.

The cats are helping me by sleeping on me. Purr therapy is a wonderful thing.  The kids are helping by being ultra gentle with me and allowing me a pass in parenting duties for a while. Although they rejoiced when I started carrying my knitting around with me a day or so ago because in their eyes it means that I am getting better.  My mom has very generously come out to Virden for the past 9 days and has done everything on the list I gave her and then some. (Thanks Mom!) Scott has been filling my parenting shoes and has not been teasing me too much.

I have wonderful friends, colleagues and family who have been showering me with get well cards, wishes and gifts.  It has made me feel well cared for and special. Although I may have to limit access and visiting time to the members of my Knitwit, knitting club, as those girls make me laugh too much and smile too hard and that still hurts a lot. ;) Thank you for that.

I am on the mend. I will be fine.

Mottos of the moment "Keep calm and carry on"  and of course, my new favourite "Sleep with your mouth closed! You can breathe through your nose now dummy!"

April 9, 2012

Oh, the places we have gone...

“You have brains in your head.
 You have feet in your shoes.
You can steer yourself any direction you choose.
You're on your own.
And you know what you know.
And YOU are the one who'll decide where to go...”
― Dr. Seuss, Oh, the Places You'll Go!

Dr. Suess had it right. Here's where we went... and what we did.

Assessippi Ski Hill- Tubing with Virden 1rst Beavers

California Adventure Park, Anaheim, California

We visited a galaxy far, far away...Disneyland.
Finn has been confirmed as the Rebel spy. Shh. Don't tell anyone.

...Um... the sign kinda says it all

We went on safari ...

... to Transcona?

We learned where the oft used expression "to meditate like a gorilla" came from.
Er, right. This might be one of those expressions that only we use.

We had cause for celebration as it was somebody's birthday!

Can you find the 40 year old in this picture? Hint: he's in disguise.
And last but certainly not least...

We swam. A LOT.
"So be sure when you step, Step with care and great tact.
And remember that life's A Great Balancing Act.
And will you succeed?
Yes! You will, indeed! (98 and ¾ percent guaranteed)
Kid, you'll move mountains.”

Dr. Seuss, Oh, The Places You'll Go!